Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm off!

Yes, off again. But don't for a second think I'm some "trust fund kid" (as my husband insists we must seem like to others). We're going to Rome tonight! But we got a great deal on the flight, direct on Eurofly, an airline NOBODY has heard of. I will let you know how it goes, but it looks promising. And for $350 each, direct to Rome, I can't complain too much. Plus its a European airline which will hopefully mean free drinks.

The project for the trip is a lace t-shirt thing that was a free pattern on Elann but is no longer available in their free pattern section. I don't think I'm going to get much knitting done on the way there, since we leave at 10 pm tonight so it is a real overnight flight (not a fake overnight, like going to Japan) and I usually go to bed at 11 pm anyway. Still, the return flight will leave me ample knitting time.

Plans for the trip? Well, the first time we went, five years ago, I was a bit of a sightseeing taskmaster and we crammed insane amounts of seeing stuff into each day. This time I want to be a lot more relaxed, do a lot more strolling and random exploring, and I really want to see The Protestant Cemetery, which we missed before. And we have reservations for the Borghese Gallery which we also missed last time. I have also always wanted to rent bicycles and ride the Appian Way, but I don't know if that will happen this time either. I'll be happy just to soak up the sun, the pines and palms, and of course all the marvelous architecture. It's completely Victorian, I know, but nothing makes my heart a-flutter like ruins covered in weeds. Especially since the "weeds" in Rome are basil, rosemary, fennel and oregano.

Despite the fact that so much yarn is made in Italy, after reading this blog post, I'm not going out of my way to buy yarn. Even despite the fact that my dear old mom is hoping for me to find the made-in-Italy Bollicine Victor in color S7. But there is no way I can go to a yarn store and not touch the yarn. I got yelled at for touching produce in Florence on our last trip, but as the daughter of a produce man, I'm making darn sure my fruits and veg are ripe before I buy. And I'm making darn sure my yarn is soft and wonderful before I buy it and I won't support these crazy no-touching policies. Unless it means Bollicine for my mom. But now I'm just rambling.

So, I'll be back in 8 days - ciao for now!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Knitting snobbery

No, not by me...I'm not exactly a knitting snob. I mean, I won't knit with acrylic - unless it was some baby novelty type item, like, oh, I don't know - a stuffed animal or something. But other than that, I'm not above inexpensive wool or last season's yarns or whatever. I live in the same borough as Smileys, for pete's sake! And I have bought my share from them - including the Panda Woolbale I'm using for the bog, and that was only $1.99 a ball, and I must say, its a perfectly satisfactory yarn. And the way the bog eats up yarn, a smart choice, too.

But the knitting snobbery thing - what has set me off is the darling summery cardigan wrappy thing by Michael Kors in the spring issue of VK. Love it, its great, super cute, easy to wear, just what you need for going into air conditioned offices and restaurants and things. But the yarn that it is knitted in - Posh, by Classic Elite - is $33 a skein! At that price, that "darling summery cardigan wrappy thing" comes out to about $340! Now I have to say, people who have that kind of scratch to throw around on a cardigan wrappy thing that is far from an heirloom piece (in style, I mean - come on, no one will be wearing this kind of thing next summer) will just go out and buy the damn thing anyway! Am I right? Hey, $340 is a drop in the bucket to Michael Kors but to me, thats like four sweaters. Four good sweaters.

Of course, substituting the yarn is straightforward enough and I'm not suggesting that I won't knit it because I can't afford to spend that kind of money on a single project. Its the principle of publishing such a design in that yarn and the assumption that designing $340 sweater patterns is acceptable.

So boo to yarn snobbery perpetrated by publications and designers who don't take into account the thrifty nature of knitters (who, I might add, might drop that kind of dough for a fabulous hand dyed cashmere, but then it would be hand dyed, and really interesting, and would no doubt be made into a sensible, eternally wearable cardigan or pullover).

Alright, well, enough ranting. The funny thing is I need a lightweight project to knit while I wait in line at the DMV, which is going to happen one day soon (a long, not funny story, involving jury duty, not having ever changed my old drivers license to NY, and waiting for still more verification so I can go to the DMV and probably be told I still don't have enough documentation. But I digress.). Okay, so socks are the obvious choice. But I only have one ball of sock yarn at home and I'm not feeling it. I bought some Classic Elite Vintage from WEBS a while ago, falling in love with the gray colorway. Not a common yarn color, and one that I love to wear. So I decided to make a summery t-shirty shell type thing. So I went to the Classic Elite website, and found a pattern like what I was looking for, and what do you know - its knit in Posh! So their pattern for this cute little summer shell takes 5-6 skeins of Posh, making this little project a mere $198! Well, Classic Elite, I am knitting it in Vintage. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I am NOT a speedy knitter!

See, there, I've said it. I'm not a fast knitter. No, no, I'm not ashamed of my knitting speed at all. Since the beginning, its always been about the journey for me, but I do find it a little bit frustrating sometimes to follow someone's knitting blog or a KAL and there is some lightning-fast knitter, skipping through some huge project - on the needles Monday, FO on Friday. Well, you won't find that at my blog, no ma'am.

Not that I am an easily distracted knitter - I follow my projects through and don't leave things half finished and abandoned. More of a "slow and steady wins the race" kinda girl. And I really, really enjoy the process of knitting. If I wanted a new sweater, I'd just buy one (and as you all know, it would be cheaper that way too). So I don't mind, but a girl doesn't exactly plow through her stash this way, right?

I know that learning to knit continental would speed up my knitting significantly and I REALLY want to learn. But its not like you can just start trying in the middle of a project (no matter HOW TEMPTING it is to do while knitting a bog jacket) because the tension will be all messed up. My previous attempts at continental have been astonishingly loose. No, to do it, I am going to have to put the projects aside and just swatch continental. Does anyone have any advice on this endeavor?


(cue sound of crickets!)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bog jacket progress

The bog jacket garters along, and still no pictures from me. Well, its red. A lot of red garter stitch. As a matter of fact, it has gotten so large that it is about to cross the threshold into no longer being subway knitting. It has almost lost its portability, so big and bulky has it grown. It still makes fine TV knitting, of course, it just can't be carted around much longer without neccessitating its own bag, as large as the bag I already carry that it should fit into.

Still, I enjoy working it and I so love EZ. Its a very satisfying project. While I can certainly see the numerous benefits in knitting in the round or knitting in one piece (like the bog), its not very practical for someone like me who may not want to haul around half an entire sweater with her all day. And besides, I don't hate to purl, nor do I hate seaming sweaters (although - confession, I have a completed sweater that is waiting to be seamed. But thats only because I am currently without an ironing board or any way to block anything).

So, what to work on the subway? I could work on my lace shawl which sadly has gone untouched for several weeks now. I have knitted lace on the subway before, I just need a row counter to remind myself where I left off. At home, I almost never put it down without having finished an entire repeat. I could also use a little pouch to attach to my ipod cozy for the headphones. And the man wants an ipod cozy after seeing mine, so theres that to work too.

But a new project must start to brew, as I am going on vacation - yep, no work involved - in just over two weeks and since I am going to Rome, I'm going to have a lot of knitting time! But I still have the same travel knitting conundrum - nothing that requires hauling too much yarn, using too many tools, too much paperwork, whatever. So that makes my nephew's monkey sweater a no-go, besides the risk that I might finish something for a baby too quickly.

What to knit, what to knit? Well, the good news is the stash trunk is more or less accessible now. Guess I'll have to dig in and see what inspires. But not tonight. No, tonight is Antiques Roadshow night! And if you check out that link, don't miss the video of knitted civil war socks appraisal. Its going to be on next week's show from Salt Lake City - I can't recall seeing knitted items on the show, so yippee!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Inspiration, NC style

This post is not about knitting or sewing, but these pictures from my trip to North Carolina may perhaps inspire you somehow. All these Latin names should be italicized, but I can't figure out how to do it on this computer. So pardon my bad botanical form:

Stachyurus praecox at Duke Gardens.

A four leaf clover I found at Duke Gardens. They are out there - if you look for them, you'll find them!

Akebia quinata and its lovely shadows at J.C. Raulston Arboretum.

This wacky specimen of Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) was identified as "twisted form". I'll say! Even better in person at Raulston.

Makes me think of some nifty dyed curly sheep locks I bought at Northeast Fiber Arts in Burlington, Vermont on a business trip last year. They are in my stash, crying out for some kind of fabulous treatment. This gives a girl ideas...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Back to the blog

North Carolina was fantastic - gorgeous weather, first of all, and a success, business-wise, as well. And of course, the customary delay at the airport on the way home. Was I glad I had my (are you ready for this??) EZ BOG JACKET to work on!

Yes, the project for the trip was the bog jacket. I am using red Panda Woolbale (not the fanciest yarn in the world, to be sure, but decent and it appears to be hardwearing, so what more could I ask for, really? The bog is a practical garment, after all).

I had been reading Knitter's Almanac for a year or so, and after finding the fabulous blog Zimmermania , I was REALLY inspired to buy Knitting Around and Knitting Without Tears (from Schoolhouse Press , of course). The Panda Woolbale had been used as packing material for our record collection, so I didn't even have to open the trunk to go through the stash.

It is all garter stitch, so its a little bit slow going but it makes such a lovely, satisfying fabric that its hard to complain. After all, its about the knitting!

Pictures forthcoming, honestly...