Saturday, November 28, 2009


I knit these so fast. Like someone who doesn’t work. Three days off for Thanksgiving helped out with that. Berroco Sox seems to be a durable yarn, not soft but worth it if the sock wear well. Loved the pattern, Groovy Socks. Simple to knit with a decorative result (best kind of sock pattern if you ask me). These are the Speta & Finach socks. I thought Mum’s version of feta and spinach was too memorable to let pass without memorializing it. Oh and I’ve knit 26 socks since June 1st!

Closer view of the stitch pattern.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Sweater's Worth...

Did you catch my mention of Webs? Yes last weekend we attempted to visit Webs for the second time in two weeks.

I was a woman prepaired, a woman on a mission.

I had a seven item list. This was monumental since I’ve only ever had a yarn shopping list one other time, Rhinebeck this year, and that was really more of a yardage requirement list. Saturday morning bright and early off we go to Webs. I’m thinking I’ll follow the Crazy Librarians example and attempt to spend less than $50, that way I’m sure to beat Meow Meow Head in the ‘who can spend less game’ that we only play when she knows she’s won.

Did I mention that the list contained,
-yarn for a boy hat, indistructible and superwash
-half a sweater’s worth of yarn to go with the Zenith Dive I picked up from The Communicator at the yarn swap
-yarn for a girl hat, no idea what color
-a pattern for the sweaters worth of mohair I’d picked up from The Communicator at the yarn swap
-a sweater’s worth of tweed yarn to make the Berroco Nonpareil Sweater
-a sweater’s worth of Misti Alpaca in Granite to make my Elizabeth's Percentage System sweater
-and one more thing I can’t remember, so clearly I didn't get it.

Ok first flaw in my logic, all that can not be purchase wholesale for $50, let alone retail. Second flaw in my logic, just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean I have to buy it, this is not grocery shopping. That being said, I didn’t buy it all, the pattern proved too illusive, oh and the girl hat flew my mind once we found the perfect tweed for the Nonpareil (Valley Yarns Williamstown is a perfect substitute). I choose Navy and I believe MMH went with forest green.

And then my long lost love, the one that got away found me. Misti Alpaca Hand Painted Worsted Weight 100% Baby Alpaca in Granite. Does that sound as wonderful to you as it does to me? I’ve been pining for this yarn since we saw it on our way back from Rhinebeck. I know you’re wondering if it’s wise to make a sweater out of Alpaca but I honestly don’t care. I love this yarn that much.

And now off to make the Sweet Potato Casserole we’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving, finish my Christmas knitting and dream of my Misti Alpaca!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Halt

I have one of those jobs that’s crazy. Specifically it’s crazy at the beginning of the week and then tapers down as the week goes on. Every Monday it’s wild and requires my full attention or things will be missed. Every Friday we collect ourselves and begin prep for the next week. And then some times the work just runs out. I work as hard and as fast as I can all day every day to try and ‘dig out’. I can count the number of times when I’ve been without a mountain of work on one hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fast pace and constant goal just out of reach. Today just happened to be one of those grinding halt days. It’s a funny feeling when you’ve been chugging along, full speed ahead and you suddenly find there’s nothing left to do. You have this magical thing called free time. And there are other projects to tackle and deadlines to meet but their not looming ahead of me like the signs hanging overhead on the highway. Instead they are the signs posted at the on-ramp noting that a city is 26 miles away and another is 72 miles. No impending doom and plenty of time to stretch my legs and breath. What a rarity.

Of course Thanksgiving is coming and with it lots of family time. All of The Boyfriend’s family will be there this year which is nice since I desperately missed his mother last year. She’s my knitting buddy. Unfortunately I don’t see her as often as we’d like but we always catch up on each others projects, new techniques, and yarn when we’re together. I have to start thinking of projects to bring. You know socks will be involved, but will I pull out one of the new yarns I got this past weekend when we ventured yet again to Webs. In the last week, between the Yarn Swap and Webs I have enough yarn for 5 new sweaters. Seriously, F-I-V-E!!!! That’s insane. But I had to get yarn for the Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern…can you say Misti Alpaca in Granite? I’ve bought this color way in two other yarn weight/contents and finally broke down and got a sweaters worth. I know Alpaca!!!! Am I crazy? Yes I am, crazy in love with this color!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love Bites

The first night I spent in a hotel with our beloved Emma was semi-eventful. I remember falling asleep just north of New York City, exhausted at driving through the city so late at night. What was semi-eventful was this new cat. She was a full of affection and extremely sweet. At some point during that short night I was awoken by my nose being bitten by a purring cat, not something Isitt or Adan was known to do. It was Emma exhibiting her trademark characteristic. If the human does not lavish enough love and affection at the time demanded, then Love Bites will follow. Love Bites being yet another song we added to her list of song, which includes two versions of The Twilight Zone (one techno and one classic rock). Since that time I’ve alternated between calling her Emma and Love Bites.

This was in August. This was when I first had the urge to listen to the Def Leppard song Love Bites. Here it is mid-November and today was the day to dig it out of the CD cabinet. I definitely haven’t listened to any Def Leppard since I got the Ipod about 2 years ago, but it’s more than likely that it’s been 10 years since I’ve listened to them.

So this morning I’m driving into work. I pull out the CD, and put it in the player. The first song starts. I sing along but notice that the sound isn’t as ‘rockin’ as I remember. Song two comes on, and I realize that there has to be something wrong with them or my memory is getting shotty. I pull out the CD case, “Greatest Hits 1980-1995” well perhaps the 15 year old Samurai who so loved Def Leppard is different than the 28 year old Samurai. Music has changed. Perhaps what I once considered rockin is now mundane. Or perhaps some evil boyfriend has been riding in my car messing with my bass.

It could be said that we have bass wars. He mistakenly thinks the bass should be kept around ‘center’. What is center? Center is not enough bass I tell you. I max out the bass. I want to feel it in my stomach as I pound on the wheel to the beat. It could also be said that we have volume wars as The Boyfriend has been known to insist that I like music at an ‘unreasonable volume’. Silly Boyfriend. Once I rectified this situation I found that Def Leppard does indeed continue to rock.

Which led me to my next quandary. Why doesn’t The Boyfriend enjoy the Def Leppard? By all accounts they are as much of an 80s Power Ballad band as all the others. The only reason he could prefer Feigner and Journey to them is that pop culture, aka Will Farell, has not seen fit to embrace them. Poor lonely Def Leppard. At least they rocked my car all the way into work this morning, oh and all the way home tonight.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

66% Unaware!

I spent the better part of Monday listening to the Knit Pick’s podcast. It has been about 6 months since I listened with any sort of regularity so I had some catching up to do. I ended the workday feeling more inspired to knit big projects than I have in months, years even. I can really see some gapping holes in my knitting knowledge that I was completely unaware of. Ok not completely but at least 66% unaware of.

The first area is general sweater construction. Knitting sweaters in pieces and seeming has been the way I’ve constructed all but 2 sweaters. For some reason the magazines all seem to think that panels and seems are the way to go. I’m really starting to wonder if this is correct. Elizabeth Zimmerman gave us the Elizabeth's Percentage System Sweater and wonders like the Baby Surprise Jacket. I am missing out on a whole area of knowledge that accompanies knitting garments in the round and converting patterns to do so. Part of my sock addition is that I can simple go in circles for hours and never ‘purl back’. Perhaps I’d knit more sweaters if the ‘purling back’ step is eliminated.

The second area is steeking. Yes, I’ve steeked. 4 times on one vest to be exact. And I’m not-uncomfortable doing so. But I’m also not using them as I should. Steeks are another opportunity to turn flat knitting into circular knitting. At the moment I can’t think of anything I’ve knit recently that would’ve benefited from knitting in the round with steeks but I will make an effort to use it more going forward. Cutting isn’t scary!

Finally, is the area I’ve been avoiding. The type of knitting I’ve purposely looked away from and plugged my ears singing lalalalala I don’t see you. Lace. There are so many benefits to lace knitting, the biggest being that it forces me to full grasp SSK & K2tog, which goes which way, and most importantly to read charts. I’m not a big fan of charts or intricate work. But The Communicator’s Hemlock Ring Blanket is knit with Bulky yarn and has 4 rounds of Stockinett stitch. That can’t be too difficult. Sweetie’s Mom knit a worsted weight triangular shawl that I loved. And even as we speak a friend who has been knitting for close to 60 years is attempting her first lace project with great success. I’ve tried lace before with tiny nickel needles. It was too slippery and too unruly. But if I’m smart about this and use wood with a nice flexible cable I should be able to handle it. Afterall, lace knitting isn’t about fun for me, socks weren’t either when I started. Lace knitting is about improving my skills and trying new things.

I’m thinking that my first step is to challenge myself to knit one of Elizabeth's Percentage System Sweater for myself. It doesn’t need to be fashionable, just warm. It’s a garment to learn construction not highlight my ability to craft stitches. Now where is that book? Somewhere in the yarn closet I’m sure. I remember the black and white diagrams and tiny pages of newsprint type paper.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Early Morning

This morning, Isitt, Mac, or Linus woke me up. At 5:30 someone walked into the bedroom and started scratching on the recliner. This cannot be allowed so I admonished the offending cat and tried to go back to sleep. No luck. Just the other day Lucy, MMH and I were discussing how fate would have it, that on the mornings when you can sleep in, you aren’t able to. For me it’s usually the realization that I can have quiet knitting time that pushes me out of bed.

But honestly when you’re woken up that early. The least they can do is pose for some in progress knitting photos!



First there are the Bernstein socks. I started them at a cat show while listening to the little guy belt out his objections. It proved too difficult to capture the detail of this sock with a kitten model.

Then there are the Mittens that Mac was embarrassed to show.

And lastly Isitt really turned up the cute to show off these.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Haul in a Linus...repeat

Last night I thought drinking a latte at 7pm was a good idea. Well you know, the Samurai goes out for drinks after work and then the Samurai falls asleep. I didn’t want that to happen hence the caffeine. I successfully stayed up until 11:30 and did lots of knitting. I was helped by the fact that I started watching The Lion in Winter without realizing it’s a 3 hour movie. I’d give it a B+. Excellent acting and dialogue. It could due to be an hour shorter though.

I Finished a Christmas gift, yeah that leaves one to go. And while motivation was with me, I cast on for a new sock. One can never have too many socks on the needles. The yarn is knitting Fever Indulgence With Aloe and I’m doing a simple rib pattern. So far I’m about 3” into it and it’s random stripes are really working for me. I have to say, now that I work full time and the majority of my knitting is done in public where I find the simpler the sock pattern the better. I’m not going to win any design contests but I will be able to talk and knit and not think about what my hands are doing.

SO yeah, latte. I don’t know if this is an age thing or what but lately if I have evening caffeine, not only does it keep me up, but it also wakes me up early. Well before the sun came up I was awake. I tried to sleep, I played with Isitt and Mac, I tossed and turned, and then I gave up. 5:15 on a Saturday morning and I’m up. I pulled on my toasty sweats and headed down to the garage. If I’m up I might as well be productive. Thinking I’d have a good 3 hours to myself, without prying eyes or judgment it seemed the perfect time to pull out the stash and at least get all the various sock yarns together. It’s not that The Boyfriend ever says anything about the stash, it’s our silent third partner but I feel his eyes on it and it makes me cringe. Best to deal with it when he’s not around.

Haul a bag or a box or a bin into the house. Haul in a Linus. Haul in a different bin. Haul in a Mac. Haul in a bag overloaded with yarn and haul in the same Linus. Can you see how this morning started?

Endeavors such as these never go the way one expects. I thought I could quickly sort through the sock stuff. Put away some recent sport and alpaca purchases (my yarn is sorted by weight except alpaca which is kept in a special separate bin in the house, almost like I expect the wool and alpaca to start fighting if left too close together). I sorted the sock yarn. Found the missing yarn, that had prompted me to reorganize, I couldn’t find a skein of sock yarn yesterday morning before work and it had been weighing on me. If you can’t find the yarn when you want it, then what’s the point of a stash? I also found 6 projects, ok more than 6 projects, but I found 6 hibernating projects that could be frogged. 4 of them were from 2008. One and a half socks, a design I had no desire to finish. A sweater I’d never photographed as it was a design in progress that fell short of the mark. The colorwork Devon Rex bag and mittens have been sitting for too long. The vest out of alpaca from a pattern written for a size 34 that I was adapting to a size 44 but hadn’t thought through enough before I began. The fuzzy angora cowl with hidden cables and lace. All of them were missteps in judgment that weren’t worth finishing. It makes me happy to frog and realize the errors of my ways, knowing that I’m a better knitter now than I was just a year ago when I cast on that angora cowl.

And the fruits of my labors? This massive pile of needles and stitch markers suddenly appeared from the flying yarn. I’m resolved to knit the 4 thumbs that are needed to finish the 2 pairs of fingerless mitts that were also hibernating. And it’s only 9 O’Clock!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

True Samurai Knitting History

OK so your saying to yourself, Samurai what have you been doing? Any knitting?

Why yes indeed. Oh and did you notice it’s only 50 days until Christmas? I’ve been working on two Christmas gifts. Sorry no more commentary than that. I’m about three quarters of the way through one gift and a third of the way through the other. I should finish them both on time.

After the excitement of Rhinebeck and promise of a new sweater, I quickly cast on the Princess Lace Panel Cardi thinking I’d make it three quarter length sleeves. The charcoal-black color is beautiful although the lace pattern barely shows. I think I will do the contrasting button band to add some excitement to the front since the lace blends in. Don’t get me wrong. I love the lace, but anyone who isn’t a knitter sitting within 12 inches of the front of the cardigan isn’t going to be able to tell there is a pattern there. Thankfully it’s simple lace and I really enjoy this yarn. I’ve already finished the back and am about half way through the front left side. Can you see the same thing I can see? A third Crème Brulee sweater in my future?

I’ve also been catching up on True Blood. It’s an excellent show. How is it that the same cable environment that brought me Rome, one of my favorite shows, also brought us The Tudors which I couldn’t stomach and now True Blood which I find thrilling. All completely different time periods and story lines. All have a healthy dose of fornication and intrigue. Honestly, they’re just explicit soap operas when you think about it. The major difference is that I could immediately identify with the supporting characters in Rome and True Blood. Poor Tara and Octavia. Endearing Sam and Titus. Annoying but interesting Jason and Atia. Irresistible Bill and Lucius (but not right away for Bill). I was so repulsed by King Henry in the Tudors that I couldn’t watch it. I think a large part of the revulsion was brought on by the constant sneer of Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Which is odd because I really enjoyed him in Match Point (excellent movie by the way). Mr. Meyers and I disagree on how King Henry would’ve behaved, not that I think he was an angel, I just don’t think he was as evil as Meyers portrays him. And while we’re turned toward history lets head away from historical fiction and to more scholarly history. Stuff you missed in History Class and Hard Core History have been filling my ears with knowledge. One podcast is more fact driven and the other takes an in depth look at the past and how it relates to the present. Both are entertaining in their own ways and I can listen to both while I work which is a major bonus.

Tonight I’ll be working on my Burlington socks in Wendy D. Johnson’s Summer 2008 Sock Pattern. These are made with Schaefer Nicole in Gertrude Ederle color which is a navy-plum-evergreen color. I’m hoping to finish these quick and add them to my sock drawer as I find that the majority of the socks I’ve knit for myself are wildly colorful which isn’t something I necessarily want peaking out from under my pants in a department meeting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clearly Mz Undrstod Callie

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Peace Train, Falcor, and Isitt Rose…what could they possibly have in common?

It all begins at 5:30 am on Saturday morning. You see Mum and I were heading off to a cat show with Callie, Emma, Isitt, and Bernstein. It was very dark when we headed south. Mum had been on a Cat Stevens or Yusuf Islam kick. After many hours of research and listening to his music she ready to educate me for most of the ride to the show. I vaguely remember hearing the song Peace Train when I was younger but knew nothing about it or the song writer. It’s all very interesting and catchy. Since about 6am on Saturday morning I’ve been hearing the song on repeat in my head. I’m not tired of it yet, although The Boyfriend wont let me play it on repeat anymore.

This was the best Cat Show we’ve ever had. We showed everyone on Saturday. Callie made three finals and Bernstein made two. At the end of the day Curlfect had it’s first Grand Champion. To those not in the cat world, that is the lightest level of achievement. Once attained the Grand Champions compete to become regional and national winners, accumulating a point or percent of a point for each Champion they compete against along the way. While we enjoy showing cats, we will not be ‘running’ Callie to gain a regional win. We’re pleased that she has achieved this status.

By Sunday Isitt had attained her Champion status and sat out, leaving Callie and Emma to duke it out with another Devon named Disco Lemonade. Isitt is a bit spoiled, but hey I’m not the first person to ‘ruin’ my Loganderry Devon. One of friends frequently throws her hands in the air and says ‘mistakes were made’. And it’s true, I too made mistakes and now have the most perfect and affectionate cat on the planet who is uncomfortable around strangers and not the best show cat. So while the others were working, Isitt tired out the harness and relaxed. By the end of the day she was rolling around on the floor and had become friends with all our neighbors. Perhaps she could still have a show career.

Once Callie became a Grand Champion it was like they pulled out all the stops. She made four more finals. One judge made her BEST CAT, which is essentially 1st place. The best specimen of all of the cats against each of their individual standard when compared to all the other cats. It was truly wonderful.

Nearly every judge commented on Callie’s ‘tortitude’ or her split personality or her red head expressing itself. Technically Callie is a Silver Patched Tabby and White, which is another name for Tortie or Calico. This means she carries the dominate red gene and the dominate black gene as well as the white spotting gene. This is good for Curlfect because it means she can have kittens that are every color except solid white, she doesn’t carry that color trait but if the father did she could have solid white kittens. How did I get on this genetics tangent? What I was trying to say was that it’s a common theory that red females are more feisty than any other color of cat. It was nice of the judges to see beyond her attitude since like Isitt, Callie isn’t a fan of showing and tends to get huffy but to her credit she is more easily distracted from her huff.

When I returned home I found that The Boyfriend had made apple crisp with some of the mazillion apples he picked. He’s gone three times this year. Seriously, if it weren’t the end of the season I’d be worried about him, why all the apples? Isitt was happy to be home and immediate curled up and exhibited her full fluffy coat which reminds some people of a lamb. It might have been that she was a white lump of curls sleeping on my lap as I was knitting, but I can’t say for sure. The Boyfriend recently discovered a resemblance between Isitt and Falcor from The Never Ending Story. And for those of you who don’t love show cats this may have felt like an unending story but what can I say? The coolaid has been drunk, the gauntlet has been thrown down, and the challenge accepted. I’m one of those Devon Ladies!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I dare you to listen to this and

not get hell no! stuck in your head. I warn you, it might not be as funny to older readers.