Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When Knitting Is Evil

Last week I picked up a DVD of the old Avengers tv series. It's a charming sort of 1960s show, now a cult favorite, featuring the characters John Steed (center) and Emma Peel (right) as vaguely defined spies fighting vaguely defined evils. You may recognize "Mrs. Peel," as Steed calls her, as the beautiful and talented Diana Rigg. Steed is played by Patrick Macnee.

I picked this particular disc at random, really I did, so imagine my surprise when the first episode featured little old ladies who murder with knitting needles! (BTW, this isn't a spoiler; you know what the ladies are up to from near the beginning.)

But I won't give away more than that. If you want to knit along with the evil knitters, this is episode 17, "The Girl From Auntie, " and it is available on YouTube.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yarn For My Crayon Box

These are the yarns that I'm using for my Crayon Box. I started with the variagated yarns on top -- Lion Brand Tweed Stripes. I saw the red Mixed Berries color at Joanne Fabrics, and just fell in love with it. I decided to go with a palette of contiguous colors, from red, through purple, to blue.

Since the Tweed Stripes is machine washable, I decided to go with Cascade 220 Superwash for the solids. 

I'm not sure if I like the Tweed Stripes yarn next to the red. I'll have to see how it goes. It was more blue on the outer layer. As I use it, I'm seeing greens and oranges -- not really what I wanted.

It's a bitter cold Friday evening, so I'm simmering a big pot of beef barley soup -- perfect comfort food! I hope your weekend is full of comforts!

Monday, January 21, 2013


I have to say that I am enjoying having a three-day weekend, seeing as today is a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. At the same time, as a teacher, it seems to me like we could honor the man better if we had school and learned about him and the Civil Rights Movement. Oh, well. No one ever asks me.

The high temperature today is forecast to be 7 degrees F, so one of my goals is to spend the entire day in my house. I'm planning to mostly cook and knit.

As for the title and photo: I submitted this 4-by-4 inch canvas to a Reader Challenge from one of the great craft magazines out there, Cloth Paper Scissors. My work wasn't chosen for publication. Sigh. However, I do have a major spread coming out in another magazine. I'll let you know when it hits the newsstands!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Taking The Plunge

A while ago I knit a Shalom Cardigan. It's a popular project. Many people have made and loved it. Mine ... well, I would not call it a success. It was too small for me, and I have yet to find anyone who both fit into it and liked it.

I've never been into the swatching thing and I've been afraid of the whole idea of fitting a sweater.

But, I've walked out on the diving board and taken the plunge:

This is the first sleeve (not quite completed) of the Crayon Box Jacket by Chris Bylsma. It's a clever concoction built with mitered squares.

I know I can do mitered squares because years ago I knit this blanket, which is now a free pattern. I did the version in the third picture of the linked page -- and it is adorable. I actually made two, and I highly recommend it.

Some years ago, my friend Tsela showed up in a Crayon Box. I loved it and begged for the pattern name. She couldn't find it -- nor could I figure out the right keywords to find it on Rav.

But this pattern turned up again in my life on Thanksgiving. The awesome Tam (girlfriend to my cousin Dan) showed up wearing the most amazing one. You can catch a glimpse of it here, but the photo doesn't do it justice. It's made of her handspun and the colors are amazing.

Thanks, Tam, for inspiring to try a sweater! And here's how I'm going to thank you:

Hey, readers, Tam has an really funky Etsy shop -- TamirisMadeMe -- featuring (among other things) doll clothing and crocheted Cubimals. Stop in here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Another Shawl!

I can't believe it has been a whole week since I blogged! My first week back to school after winter break was busy, not in a bad way, but I was pretty darn tired when I came home at night.

I do wear my shawls, but not as often as I should, given how much work they are! I had decided not to make any more for a while. That decision, however, was out the door after I surveyed my stash with idea of knitting it down in mind.

I have a lot of sock yarn. A lot. Really. Gazing over it -- and feeling a bit overwhelmed -- it occurred to me that there were some two-color shawls that would use up two skeins of sock yarn. This rolled up blog of yarn will eventually be a Hecate, another beautiful design by Kirsten Kapur:

Monday, January 7, 2013

There Was Knitting, Too

There are few things that are cozier than curling up on the couch in a cabin in the North Woods and knitting -- so, of course, I did so. I was the only knitter on the trip, but my friends are all avid readers and we had lovely hours of sipping coffee and tea while we read or knit.

I finished the first Rib Fantastic sock from Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn by Carol Sulcoski. I'm pretty sure I started this in 2010. These are knit from an unknown colorway of Socks That Rock mediumweight. I put this project aside because I didn't like the heavier weight. But when I stumbled on this project at the bottom of my knitting basket, I found that I liked it after all. The thicker weight will be perfect inside of winter boots.

And one last memory of my trip before I return to the real world:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Up North

You may have read -- or at least heard of -- the book titled "Little House in the Big Woods." Well, those woods are right here in Wisconsin. I have to admit that while I am in Wisconsin's wooded North, it's not quite the same area as the Laura Ingalls and her family.

"Up North" generally refers to the top third of the state, everything north of Highway 29, which runs from Green Bay west through Eau Claire and  on to the Mississippi. I love, love, love being up here -- especially when I am with my wonderful friends.

My friend Lisa rented us a lovely four-bedroom cabin in the Minoqua area. Ironically, there is at least as much snow in Madison (four hours south of here) than there is around Minoqua, but we haven't let that slow us down. Three of us are avid cross country skiiers, and we've been out every morning. Sometimes there is activity in the afternoon, too, but sometimes there is reading, talking -- and knitting, of course. It is so relaxing that I'm dreading going back to the real world on Monday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gone Skiing

This morning I'll be heading Up North for a long weekend of skiing with some friends. I am planning on lots of knitting at the cabin, of course!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Where The Heart Is

I come from a family of guys -- dad, brothers, male cousins -- so most of the recipients of gifts from me are not going to be very happy with a bracelet or shawlette.

Last month, I was really struggling to come up with a gift for my brother Eric. The idea came to me one day when I was going through my craft supplies. I came across some adorable rubber stamps in the shapes of hearts and houses, and I came up with the idea to make this:

All the tiles are handmade (by me!) from polymer clay. They are stamped, cut to shape, and painted with acrylic paints. If you look closely, you can see these words: Home is where the heart is.

I know it's not a super manly gift, but I think he'll like it. (No, I haven't mailed it yet, but, hey, he was England over Christmas!) He's moving into a new phase of his life and somehow this seems to fit.

It was one of the most fun projects I have done in a while.

ETA: The stamps are from Invoke Arts. Check them out. They do amazing work!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's All About Resolutions

Yesterday, I found Keith perusing a Web site for small houses -- and by small, I mean less than 500 feet! Yes, there is such a thing. Go ahead and check out the link. These houses are adorable, but small is an understatement. Keith says there would be no room for my stash, but plenty of room for his bikes.

I am with him in spirit. I would really like to own less, live more simply. Why is it so hard to do? I've been working on cleaning out my craft room. I know I would be more creative if the space was less cluttered. Yet, I keep finding myself reorganizing rather than culling.

And if there is one thing I do not need more of, it is yarn! I've been on a yarn diet for about 18 months, and that has slowed my acquisition. However, I'm a slow knitter and I suspect I'm still buying more yarn that I'm knitting.

I recently bought the yarn above: Road to China Light. This is an amazingly soft blend of alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk. It's for a specific gift. But that is the last yarn I'm buying. For the foreseeable future, I'm only purchasing yarn to finish projects I've started.

I know, I know: You've heard this before!

Happy new year.