Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Well, I'm glad I remembered my password. Hello there! I've been busy making Christmas presents and designing things (often at the same time) but not too busy actually writing up patterns or taking photos. But I have some here, so allow me to show them off.

This is my trainer, who, while telling me the story of her wardrobe consultation, and the Cleaning Out of the Closet, revealed that she had never before realized how fond she was of "soft wraps." I knew she didn't mean the ones with grilled veggies. She confessed this morning that, although she hadn't been dropping hints when she said that, she had cherished hopes for something handmade. Nice to be appreciated.

After I gave my best friend some mitts back in January, she told me her kids kept borrowing them. So here's one for her daughter

and one for her son. The green ones are Green Thumb, the blue ones use the thumb shaping from Jocelyn.

I made a slew of other things, but most of them are from another new design. Given my recent history, I am loathe to make any promises, but they are at the top of my mental to-do list.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cross post

Well, it's not knitting with local yarn, but I'm calling it a cross post. I planned, sourced and prepared the menu for a fundraising dinner for 60 people this past Saturday, and the dinner was held at Eulipia in downtown San José. Mike Borkenhagen, the chef at Eulipia, was incredibly generous in making this dinner a wonderful event. So I knit him a hat as a thank you.

I read in the Lion Brand blog that Afghans for Afghans is having a very quick drive for wool items for kids 7-14. Very quick in that everything has to be in San Francisco by 29 October to make it on the boat. After a very silly mitten indeed yesterday, I refined my technique in using my scrap basket, and am about one third of the way through a much more functional pair of mittens. They match perfectly, because I am knitting them at the same time from both ends of each ball of yarn.

I'll try to get a hat done before the deadline.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Guerilla knitting

I finished the project I'd been working on all summer, and now I'm writing up the pattern. As part of my quest for better photographs, I'm going to have a friend model it on Sunday, so I hope the pattern will be out early next week.

I saw some guerilla knitting in downtown San José last night. Evidently, it's been there a while.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hello, dolly

Sometimes I'm so very obvious.

It's not often I can cross post to both of my blogs, but maybe some day I'll find some local organic wool and knit something with it. I brought home a bunch of wheat stalks from Saturday's harvest at Live Earth Farm, and this morning I finally sat down and made my corn dolly.

While it would have been prettier with less smutty wheat, and while practice obviously makes perfect, I think it will be a nice ornament for the farm. I'm going to give it to Debbie, who runs the CSA, at the pickup this afternoon. I feel compelled to add that I don't ascribe to it any of the pagan magickal abilities I read about while searching online for instructions.

And one day, it would be fun to make some of the shapes I remember from the Renaissance Faire of the late 70's.

image via

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


And how could I forget this morning to talk about the latest Interweave Knits? Well, one particular thing. Leaving aside the photo of the Barcelona jacket that made the model's head look as tiny as a very tiny thing, indeed, it's this deeply weird ad that caught my eye.


Click through, if you must. I'll wait.

In case it's too blurry, it says
Dear the precious.
No more Acrylic!
ZAOL pursuit more ecological
healthy close to the nature.
We will try to make yarns
your hands feel more happy
like ZAOL means friendly
from Korean ancient word.

Doesn't IK offer proofreading as part of their services? Did anyone else notice this ad? I looked on Ravelry, but all I saw were a couple posts looking for a sweater pattern.

Jiggity jig

I'm home again, back in the late-summer-before-school-starts routine.

While I was on my last vacation, I knitted up the alpaca I bought in Canada, using a pattern from the new VK that had arrived in my mailbox at just the right time. I had bought the yarn to make a thank-you gift for the friend I had visited in Kingston.

She was, in fact, flying back to Australia on Sunday, with an 11 hour layover that we were going to use for a whirlwind visit in San Francisco. We did manage to do that (spending an hour at the Academy of Sciences and having a lovely dinner at Waterbar) but I managed to forget to bring the hat along to give it to her. Fortunately, her husband is still working in Santa Cruz, and I'll have lunch with him on Thursday, so there is still a chance to have it hand carried Down Under (where it is winter, a large part of the reason I made it.) Failing that, I do know that the USPS will take it for me.

As for the hat itself, the alpaca yarn is much bulkier than the pattern calls for, but, since the tam is started from the center, I just kept knitting until the circle was big enough, then did the one decrease round and ribbed until I ran out of yarn. The brim is folded over, and I bound it off together with the inside stitches instead of sewing it. This was, in part, because I didn't have my little notions box along with me in Capitola (but mainly because I love to find ways to do everything without sewing.) It's a cute pattern, and the alpaca will make it pretty darn warm for those fierce Aussie winters.

I also do know that there is a yarn store in Capitola, and I even visited same when I needed to borrow a crochet hook to pick up some laddered-down stitches on my other project. (See lack of notions box, above.) Since I am almost physically unable to leave a yarn store without buying anything (especially when I've come in and borrowed a tool) I got a couple balls of Soxx Appeal.

It's a funny thing that I can't think of a yarn store around here where I could walk in and say "What's the most local yarn you've got?" and expect to find anything. I will freely admit that our agricultural riches don't extend far into the fiber world, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any locally-produced yarn around here. Nine Rubies does prominently feature Baywood yarns, which are locally hand dyed. But with the huge interest in local food production, you'd think that some store in the South Bay would seek out what exists and feature it. I'll mention that to Beth at Green Planet the next time I'm there.

And, along these same lines, if your interest in the products of sheep goes beyond wool to cheese and meat, I encourage you to check out Rebecca King's "Adopt a Ewe" program. Rebecca has started an organic dairy down in Watsonville, where she keeps a herd of happy sheep on a beautiful green hillside. Her cheeses are delicious, and she also sells delicious organic lamb. Farmers don't have a steady paycheck, and Rebecca has come up with this idea to help her with an infusion of capital up front. In return for $500 during the last half of 2009 (when the sheep are not producing milk) subscribers will receive six monthly deliveries of cheese and milk starting in January 2010, plus either a whole lamb (custom butchered, and Rebecca's butcher makes excellent sausage) or an organic wool and cotton comforter. Plus invitations to special farm events (Rebecca used to be a chef at Cafe Gabriella in Santa Cruz.)

She's a great person who is working hard to bring good food to the world in a way that treats the land and her animals right. If you're in the area, I hope you'll take a look.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blogging in between vacations

I just got back from four days in Kingston, Ontario, where I was visiting friends. The fiber-related part of the vacation was a visit to the very charming Rose Haven Farm Store in Picton, the largest town in Prince Edward County (not "Island") which is a large peninsula between Toronto and Kingston.

When I asked for the most local yarn in the shop, the owner pointed to this grey wool

saying "That is from my sheep. In fact, it's the sheep on the left on that card." So I bought the card, too, as well as a hank of very soft alpaca from a farm near Kingston.

I loved "the County," as they call it up there. It was beautiful and green, with lovely farms, all against the blue, blue backdrop of Lake Ontario.

And now I'm off to another agricultural wonderland, with a blue watery backdrop: Santa Cruz County. Ah, summertime.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


OK, no excuses.

I have been faithfully moderating my groups on Ravelry, and reading friends' blogs and favoriting projects and patterns. And knitcheting; uncharacteristically, I have two projects going right now. One is a summer version of Gallivant in the bamboo nylon sock yarn I finally found.

And one is a new design, riffing on the leaf increases in Green Thumb

It's on US size 3 needles, so it's not booking along.

And, I'm not sure where the impetus came from, but I found that I had to sew a skirt today. I even used some rickrack from my trim stash!

(It's not actually that yellow.)

No promises, but I'll try to update this once a week in the future...

Friday, May 29, 2009


Although I hate blog posts about not blogging, I feel compelled to say that most of my writing energy is going into my sustainable food and water blog these days.

I finally have finished the pattern for the lace-backed mitts that my South Bay Knitters friends had encouraged me to write up. Two of them brought their test-knitted pieces to the meeting last night, and I was very pleased at how they looked. I hope I've found all of the errors in the pattern, but please let me know if you find any more.

Jocelyn has a shaped thumb gusset and a lace panel down the back of the hand. You can customize the mitts with your own favorite lace panel. With the forgiving stretch of 2x2 ribbing, exact gauge is not critical for this pattern, and you can use any yarn from fingering to light worsted weight, as long as it has some elasticity.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

There's a place for everything

Proof that every yarn has a way to shine, I made my mom a Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf from the one ball of the Mondial Bamboo that I'd already tried using. She was very happy with it.

And it was a good fit for the yarn. But if anyone is interested in nine other balls of this yarn, then please let me know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Caveat Emptor

I've been wanting to make a summery Gallivant for a while now, and, when my Rav friend cajunbatchick told me about Mondial Bamboo, I thought I'd found the right yarn. The Rav database said it was fingering weight, and, from the projects listed with it, it was clearly self-striping. So I ordered a bag from Green Planet Yarns, my LYS, and picked it up yesterday.

This morning, I got out my crochet hook and started my foundation row. The colors were a little more cartoony than the springy I had hoped from the photo on teh interwebs, but I was happy enough. But when I got to the end of the orange, I was not happy to see the yellow come in briefly, then return to orange, then go back and forth before settling on yellow. The further color changes were even more variegated.

Plus, it's much heavier than fingering. That's not actually that big a deal, since it's bamboo, and it's going to drape and grow, anyway. But it was certainly an object lesson about rushing out to buy unknown yarn.

So what did I do? I found another yarn, Happy 4 ply from Wendy. It's a sock yarn, 25% nylon and 75% bamboo, and there were many projects on Ravelry to show that the stripes in the color I chose are clean, clean, clean.

I've also finished a new sample of the lacy mitts, which pattern I will write up as soon as I get a good photo. It will be called Jocelyn, for the person who wanted it most.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Picture 1

It's hard to say this without sounding as though I'm tooting my own horn, but I can't believe the response to my new pattern. I actually posted about it in the Designers forum, asking whether lowering the price had increased sales for other people. The answers I got were that the pattern's wonderfulness itself was the reason it's so popular, and that I should increase the price.

I'm not ready to do that. Since I think all of my patterns are pretty clever (the un-clever designs are never worth the trouble of writing them up) I'm wondering what makes these little mitts such a hit, when no one has ever bought a copy of Balai at all.

Not that I'm complaining, not at all. I'm just gobsmacked, I guess.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Green Thumb

So I spent this past month working on yet another new design, and then waiting until it was all done until I decided to blog about it. It's called Green Thumb, and it's a pair of fingerless gloves.

Now I know that fingerless gloves are so 2006, but it took me a while to get a cellphone, too. I made the gloves for my mom last month, and then I started thinking about thumb gussets. Instead of increasing at the sides of the gusset, I thought, why not increase in the middle? And, instead of increasing in plain stockinette, why not increase in rib? So I made a pair of lacy gloves that I thought would be the pair I'd keep for myself.

(OK, it's the kind of photo you take at night when you don't want to disturb the cat in your lap.)

It turns out that another docent at Año Nuevo (where I was working on them) liked them so much that I've decided to give them away. But it got me thinking about other ways to shape a gusset. And once I'd thought of the leaf, it seemed so obvious. I made the first pair out of black Wool-Ease, to give to a friend who's going to spend the next six (winter) months in Peru. No photo of those, but I made another pair of Rowan Cashsoft 4-ply.

(The cat jumped off my lap after that second flash.) Of course, I thought of a further refinement of the pattern after I'd made the green ones, and I just finished the grey ones today.

I'm pretty chuffed at the pattern, but even more so at the reception. I fussed over the thing all afternoon, finding fiddly typo after typo, then uploaded it to Ravelry and posted about it in the Designers forum just before I went out to dinner. And came back to find six sales! I set the price at $2.50, instead of the $5.00 I'm charging for the other patterns, and maybe that's below some magic threshold. Anyway, it was a big thrill to come home and see that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


So I got an email last week from Mary-Heather, who is the non-Jess-and-Casey part of Ravelry. And she was asking whether I'd like to see my skirt pattern Gallivant up as Jess' Selection for the month of April.

Well, yes, I would like that.

And I've sold another copy, and seen ever so many entries under my "user activity" tag in my Ravelry pattern store.

In other knitcheting news, I made a pair of fingerless gloves for my mom's birthday. I used the yarn sent to me in the Igor Thwap last month; it's a silk-wool blend (Créme from Crystal Palace) and I really like how it works up at a tighter gauge.

And I made four afghan squares for a swap in the Tunisian Crochet group that I moderate, but I neglected to take photos.

I'm now working on a design that's been patiently waiting for my attention for more than a year. I haven't decided whether I'll try to submit it anywhere or just publish it myself, so I'm not going to say anything else about it right now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I had a nice time at the Stitches market on Friday. The night before, I finished my ribbed pullover (I am especially proud of my sewn bind off) and here I am with my blue sock earrings, ready to go to Santa Clara.

While I was waiting in line (having somehow forgotten about the existence of printing tickets out from teh interwebs) I saw Amy, aka Sputnik on Ravelry, and we did the market together, providing enablement for each other.

Although I heard that the market was some 40 vendors lighter this year, it was still the same physical size. Evidently, many people took bigger booths. There was certainly no feeling of anything other than overabundance again.

I didn't take any photos, or really think of any kind of narrative for our shopping, so I'll cut to the chase of what I was compelled enough to buy.

k2tog has a great selection of Crystal Palace yarns, including two new ones. Mini Mochi is a self-striping sock yarn that is very soft.

I bought eight balls; I have an idea for a skirt design. They also have a new weight of Panda Silk. It is just a luscious yarn.

I bought a bag, and I don't care that they're both green. Then I wandered around for quite a while, thinking that I was done with the spending. But the JoJoland booth had some cashmere on sale.

It's on sale because they made a bad choice for the string that holds the tag on, and the color ran on the yarn. I'm planning to dye my four skeins with Easter egg dye.

In between all of this, I saw several people from my knitting group, who all told me that Fae was looking for me, having very kindly brought a kitchen scale for me to borrow to weigh my unhappy yarn. She finally caught up with me, after having schlepped the scale all over the Santa Clara Convention Center. Thank you again, Fae!

She showed us a pompom yarn that she had bought at the Great Yarns! booth, and I wondered if she were going to make a bathmat, too. But she said that there was a sample knitted of the yarn that lined up the pompoms and looked really cool. I couldn't picture what she meant until I saw it for myself. When I came back to the market with my daughter yesterday, I bought her a skein for a scarf, which I knit up today.


If you click through, you can see there are eight stitches on the needle, two between each pompom. When I was puzzling over what to do with my previous pompom yarn, I got stuck (both literally and figuratively) on pulling the pompoms through loops, whether knit or crochet. But this technique keeps the pompoms in between the stitches, kind of like beads, so you're only knitting the cord in between. It took me about an hour to make the scarf. Do I get a prize for finishing a project bought at Stitches while Stitches is still going on?

I really love how the pompoms line up. I seldom feel the need to make the same thing for everyone I know, but I'm already thinking of several more people to make this for. The yarn was about $10, so it's quite a big effect for the price and effort.

While we were at the Great Yarns! booth on Friday, Amy confessed that all of the novelty yarn was starting to look good to her. I told her she needed to go outside and get some air. But then I bought a skein of a ruffling yarn.

I like this one better than the previous incarnations of ruffling yarns I've seen because it's a woven, rather than knit ribbon. The ruffles come our softer, I think. I'm imagining it as cuffs and a jabot collar for a vintage inspired sweater.

I bought some buttons, too, of course. Who could resist this octopus?

Yesterday, as I said, I went back with my daughter and spent an hour with her Auntie Karen, who's teaching at Stitches. I hope we'll have a chance to spend some more time together later this week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slow stashing

So Stitches West starts tomorrow, although I'm not signed up for any events, so I'll just be attending the market on Friday and (probably) Saturday and running into friends. I won't be working at the Yarndogs booth, either, so I'm back in the ranks of the proletariat. I will miss breezing into the market as I casually wave my vendor badge over my shoulder, "So sorry, must dash."

As is my wont, I went through my entire yarn stash this past week, so that I'd have a full-sense memory of how much and what kinds of yarn I already have. Any, for the first time in a long time, I made an "unhappy pile," as described in the slow stashing manifesto.

In the unhappy pile go all the yarns that immediately cause your spirits to sag. These yarns appealed to your sense of “should”—I should buy this, I should knit something out of this, and, even now, I should keep this. As soon as you find yourself muttering the word “should,” put that yarn in the unhappy pile. Also in the unhappy pile go yarns that, through no fault of their own, carry emotional baggage. Yarns were innocent bystanders to tough times in your life. Yarns that you've already tried to use a few times but always ended up frogging. Yarns that you feel you should use even though the spark just isn't there. Those yarns need to go.

Even now, some of the yarns still call to me. The cotton chenille: wouldn't that make a cool throw with multicolored mitred squares? And the heavy cotton coned yarn: I could knit a quick bulky pullover. But I still have thoughts like that about my knitting machine, and I can move on.

I'd be happiest if I could manage to sell these, although the fact that so many of them are unlabeled coned yarns might make this less likely. I'll give it a go, and we'll see what happens.

Weekend on the Central Coast

I spent the last weekend in Cambria, visiting my parents. Despite having heard many times from members of my knitting group about this wonderful trim store in Morro Bay, I had somehow never made it down there. But this time, I managed it. I didn't take any photos of the store, but this blog post gives a pretty good idea about it. It's a treasure chest of a shop; I understand my Vera and Nancy raved about it. And then, it turns out that Nancy is now the knitting teacher to Lina G, the owner of the store. A small world.

Anyway, of course I bought a whole mess of trims.


(click through if you want to drool up close.)

When Lina asked what I was going to do with it, I replied, "Go home and put it in a drawer with all of my other trim, of course." Although, to be fair, I do have an idea already about the wide vertical ribbon with the phoenixes on it. (Phoenices?)

On the way back up to Cambria, I stopped at another place I had heard about, Harmony Headlands State Park. Although the state has owned this land for years, the park only opened last November, evidently because of tireless work on the part of local activists.

There is one path that runs about two miles from the parking lot out to the sea. It goes along a gentle valley


skirts a short gully


and runs along a bluff over the Pacific.


There were quite a few people visiting the park. It's beautiful to be able to stand over the Pacific with no hint of cars nor any buildings in sight.

Thwap meet

The Ankh-Morpork Knitters Guild group on Ravelry (who brought you the Pratchgan) had a swap with the theme of Igor. Igor, on the Discworld, is a compendium of all of the monster movie assistant cliches, from hump to limp to lisp, but amended by Terry Pratchett to include surgical prowess in the service of self- and world-improvement. This translated into a swap focused on leftover stash, candy shaped like body parts, and typing everything using th instead of s, leading to sentences in forum posts like "having done quite a bit of Thubbthtituting, i would pothtulate that motht teacherth would gladly JOIN the Aththathinth Guild, if allowed to…um… practhithe, ath it were, on their chargeth."

I took part in a very informal swap back in knitlist days, and got nothing in return, so I was shy about the whole idea. But the Igor Thwap was so appealing that I took the plunge. And today I got a package.

In it was a card

Some lovely hand-dyed yarn and a scarf that is actually a spare brain.

(good thing I already have a spare brain receptacle!) The spare brain came with spare yarn, too, for emergency surgery.

Some chocolate hearts and a bar of lime-lavender soap!

Thank you, Ambala, for a very enjoyable thwap!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The sweater I wore

I finished my Languid raglan in time to wear it in Portland.

I do love the fabric; it's very drapy and soft. My gauge was off, however, so the yoke came out way huge. Since I've already had (unpleasant) experience ripping out this yarn, I decided to tighten up the neckline with elastic thread instead of reknitting it. I'm very happy with the fit of the sweater.

Since I needed a project to work on during the trip, I started a square neck, set-in sleeve pullover in Chinese wool yarn from the Yarn Place. I was a bit more obsessive about the gauge with this one, so it's more true.

I know it looks tiny, but 2x2 ribbing (my favorite stitch pattern) is very stretchy. I have walks at Año Nuevo on Sunday (and I hope it doesn't rain) which will give me lots of time to work on it.

The bright city of War Drobe in the far land of Spare Oom.

I spent last weekend in Portland, with my best friend. We get together for a weekend every year; this year's trip was devoted to fabric and yarn shopping, as well as the usual eating. We stayed at the Benson Hotel, which has a great location downtown, happily rode the MAX and Portland Streetcar, and loved Park Kitchen the best of our dining experiences.

But the big fiber news is that we went to Yarnia. I'd read about it in Craft, and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped. At Yarnia, you peruse shelves of fine coned yarn, holding the strands next to each other to see how they combine.

Once you make your selections, Lindsey Ross, the very sweet owner of the shop, loads them on to her fabulous custom yarn combiner

and winds you your own custom cone of yarn.

I chose strands of mohair, merino, cashmere and silk. Then my best friend, who doesn't knit, but appreciates handknitting, put together her own cone for me to make her some fingerless gloves.

Although Yarnia was my favorite stop, I have to mention the two fabric stores we went to. Josephine's Dry Goods carries utterly beautiful fashion fabrics, and Bolt, on a street that we didn't even realize was so trendy, has a very nice selection as well. We also looked at Knit-Purl, and I have never seen so many high-end yarns in one place. Very impressive. Unfortunately, the Button Emporium and Ribbonry was moving last weekend; all we could do was press our faces up against the glass. There is certainly ample reason to go back to Portland, maybe in the summer when it's not so cold.

And, yes, we did go to Powell's.