Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cure for the "Boyfriend Sweater"

We all have heard the curse of the boyfriend sweater. Women and men around the globe recoil at its name; all knitter's know someone who has suffered the curse. For years people have tried to talk it down, saying thing along the lines of: "It doesn't matter, I want to make it for him. It'll be okay, right?" We quietly sit by, listening, nodding along, knowing that he or she is about to bring the curse upon them. But once a knitter's decides to venture into "boyfriend sweater" territory, there is no talking them out of it.

Which bring me to this weekend's riff-raff symposium. Our newest member informed us that she is about to make Jared Flood's Cobblestone Sweater, the ultimate boyfriend sweater. I looked at her inquisitively, with a sense of dread, until she said, "I'm going to make it in my boyfriend's size so he can wear it too." She said this with no guilt or insecurity hanging behind her words, which can only mean one thing, she genuinely is making the sweater for herself, leaving the option for him to wear it.

I had a * head desk *, slaps forehead moment. OF COURSE! My hypothesis is thus, if you make the sweater for yourself the curse could be negated. The tricky part of my theory is that the knitter must sincerely be making the sweater for his/herself, with the boyfriend being a part-time wearer.

Years later, when you are admiring your knitwear modeled by your man, or wearing the sweater that you knit for yourself (boy or no boy present) you can feel happy about the presence of the garment and not have an abandoned lump of wooly resentment lurking in the back of your closet.

I feel I am on to something here, but fortunately, I won't be one to test it right now. BUT, Jared released another drool worthy pattern, Brownstone, intended for men, but is really unisex. I'll be making it in a size larger than my normal, for comfort, but if I do happen to have a boy later who wants to wear it I can hand it over...without the curse looking over my shoulder.

I think a new KAL is in order: The Cure for the Boyfriend Sweater KAL. What do we think?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Fun-Day: Doctor Who Edition

Here are the facts:

1. I am currently into my second day of Doctor Who-A-Thon.

(Chiton KAL: This picture was taken hours ago; I am working on the cowl neck.)

2. Being a huge nerd of almost unimaginable proportion, I am completely addicted and in love with this show.

3. I am very grateful and love Mark for lending me his collection. (I love him any way, but this deepens our friendship down to the nerdiest and most lovable level.)

4. Many of these discs are Blue Ray. :D

5. Although I love my parents, I am happy they have left for the weekend leaving me completely access to the 42" flat screen and Blue Ray. (March Madness was literally sending me into true madness!)

6. Watching TV for hours on end is mainly a stationary activity, therefore, I have completed much knitting.

(Ishbel, made with Silky Alpaca Lace, 2409 Lake Chad)

7. I will take better pictures of Ishbel.

8. Whenever I finish a lot of knitting I think about all the knitting I will do in the future.

(Manos Del Uruguay Serena and Lang Jawoll Magic for Akimbo; Silky Malabrigo and Tilli Thomas Symphony TBD)

p.s. Happy Birthday Carol! I was listening to Sergeant Pepper and some of the lyrics to "When I'm Sixty-Four seemed too coincidental not to mention:

Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?..... (lunacy?) :-P

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside (it's probably grey or white?)
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

~The Beatles, "When I'm Sixty-Four"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The book that brings the Spring.

"When you read Anna Karenina it will instantly be Spring." My 19th century literature professor said this to our class on the day he told us we would be starting the Tolstoy classic. He said it with such joy that the bleak February day seemed a bit brighter, and made me rethink that the 1000 page book sitting in front of me would be less than the slog I thought it would be.

In the weeks to follow the weather magically turned warm, the snow melted, and the air smelled new. He was right. He was usually right.

On the first day of class, to the lucky few of us who made it through the gauntlet of registration week, Iija said, with a twinkle in his sharp blue eyes, "This class is dreadfully over-registered, but I can assure you there is no magic in this room." The air stood still for a moment, and then he laughed a loud, deep, lion laugh that echoed in the walls and warmed the room. He stood up from table and began a game of charades. He paced back and forth, bent over like a towering question mark, rocking his arms, and occasionally flicking his white hair over his head. We found out after much guessing and flailing that he was trying for The Brothers Karamazov, but, needless to say, by the end of the hour we were all enchanted by a man who seemed to possess an omnipotent force of love, knowledge, and even some magic.

Over the course of the year I read more big books than I could have imagined, and enjoyed them all. But more importantly, I found myself in those books, in the class and in Iija's love and zeal for each of his students. I am forever in his debt because he gave me something I thought I would never find, a transcendent connection to humanity, which some call ecstasy, some call God, some call Beauty. "It was as if threads from all those innumerable words if God all came together in [my] soul..." (Karamazov, pg. 362, Pevear)

Which brings me back to Anna Karenina, one of the most powerful of those books which catapulted me smack into ecstasy. I read Anna over six years ago, but passages of it are always floating through my head, forever shaping my consciousness. One of those passages, strangely enough, is from the beginning of the book, just before Anna arrives, Dolly sits with her children,
"...and again took up the rug she was knitting, a piece of work begun long ago, to which she always returned in times of trouble, and which she was now knitting, nervously throwing the stitches over with her fingers and counting them." (Anna Karenina, pg. 65, Maude)
Looking at this passage now I realize the truth in the words more so than I did years ago. What pieces of "self" are in our fabric? What worry, what joy, what memories? I reached for my book today after that passage struck my mind, and could immediately locate its place after so many years away from the text. This seemed too coincidental to not share the book that brings the Spring.

I think the universe is telling me it's time to read Anna again. The scent of magnolia trees blooming, the memory of Iija's laughter and the warmth of sun is too much of a lure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eye Candy Friday

Ballston Legwarmers, from Adriondack Accessories, available through Fairmount Fibers and your local Manos del Uruguay carrying LYS. Made with Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in colors bing cherry, rust, topaz and natural.

My second Manos del Uruguay project, the Chiton Pullover by Melissa Wehrle, from Winter/Spring '11 Knitscene. Our Spring KAL made from luscious, drapey, soft Serena in Zinnia.

Can you believe there is no Madelinetosh in this post?!?! Fear not, my yarn cubby is still ever filling with my heart's content.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of Elijah

My third time making Elijah, and he's still adorable and fun to make. I made the little heart pillow out of spare yarn lying around the shop. Over the years I have made Elijah for a baby, a friend who loves elephants, and now for anyone to fall in love with as they pass through the shop.

Pattern: Elijah by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Plymouth Dreambaby DK
Needles: US 3

Monday, March 7, 2011


From the mushy, winter-worn earth I saw small green sprouts and was thankful.


Even though the air was cold, I felt the sun on my skin.

Honey Cowl. tosh dk, crumble.

And was grateful for generous moments of grace.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Today was better than yesterday.

Yesterday I walked into the shop to meet Gail. The bales of yarn in her arms should have warned me, the distressed look on her face should have warned me, her saying, "we have an issue," should have warned me. I promptly threw down my coat and coffee mug and trotted out to the front room. There before me was a wall of collapsing shelves buckled under the weight of wool, alpaca, camel, and merino yarns; needless to say, this was not an auspicious beginning. We proceeded to empty all the shelves in front of us, resigning hope that the shelving could be saved otherwise. Bags and baskets full of yarn were strewn about the shop, people were told to fend for themselves whilst we banged, swore and hammered away at the offending structure. In the end many yarns made their way out to the porch sale baskets, new cottons, linens, and spring like yarn were put in place of the heavy wools from the past season. We stuck the bags of heavy wools and alpacas, which had collapsed our poor shelves to begin with, upstairs for the summer season.

In a delusional stupor later on, we had a sip of tea and decided that the yarn had spoken. The collapse was the shops way of screaming for spring. Even though it has caused us much turmoil and a few years off our lives we now have a beautiful wall full of spring yarns that ring off happiness and hope of warmer weather. I think it was revolting against the 29 degree (fahrenheit) weather outside, or the fact that it has snowed as much in southern New York this winter as much as Buffalo, NY. Regardless, we have decided that it happened for a reason, even though it has left us weathered and ragged.

So I went home with a box full of delicious veggie pizza from Prima's and prepared to have several glasses of wine and work on one of my finishfest projects. It sounded like a good plan right? I thought so too. Luckily, the pizza was par for the course: delicious, filling and perfect. For the wine, well, all I had was Corona Light so I happily replaced grapes for hops. Then I went to start my finishfest project, my Gaia mitts for Shavonne. I opened my computer to retrieve the pattern I had painstakingly created in Intertwined Pattern Studio; it was the works: charts and written instuctions, along with original cables created for the pattern.

It was gone.


And not just that pattern, but every pattern I have created in Intertwined Pattern Studio. All that was left were a sad text edit files where richly created visuals and written instruction used to be. I wanted to cry, slay the creator of said program....but then I remembered that I would be thrown in jail for unintentional manslaughter caused by knitting related duress. A defense that would hold up in any court, but would surely get me some jail time. My rational mind led me away from thoughts of homicide and back to my kitchen where I opened my refrigerator and extracted several more bottles of beer, which I happily consumed and drifted away into a peaceful stupor while watching Craig Ferguson.

Today had to be better than yesterday.

I got up with a slight headache (from what I couldn't say), and had some coffee and oatmeal, knitted for awhile and looked over at my Blackberry Storm, which has been steadily making its decline into non-function for several weeks. I decided today was the day of vindication. I had to out-weight yesterdays mess with a better today. What better way to do that then with some retail therapy?

I set out on my quest, and went from store to store in search of the prodigal phone. Perhaps the most coveted phone in the world: the iPhone 4, Verizon edition. Yes, I had waited years for this day, looking at Apple Insider and Cnet, religiously waiting for the day that Verizon would obtain Apple's contract. Finally the day had arrived..... and Verizon told me my phone update wasn't until June :(

Not to be deterred, my mommzie was generous enough to give me her upgrade and I went from snake oil salesman to used mattress salesman in form of Verizon specialist before I found the right retailer. Three hours after my expedition began I came home with my prize in hand, and I truly feel better. I hope to blow Gail's mind when I walk in the door tomorrow with my new Apple-y goodness. So no matter what tomorrow brings I know today will at least be as good if not better than tomorrow.

Although I have fallen short of my goal I still have something to show you, even if taken in low-light after a glass of wine:

Clockwork (blocked and beautiful):

In the center you will notice a small swatchish shape of fabric. Last night, in between beer two and three I decided to do a little swatching for my next big project to take my mind off the misery of the day. Made of of Quince and co Chickadee in Carrie's Yellow, that bird will be in flight sooner that to be expected.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Finishfest (Belated)

I am holding myself accountable....but since I don't trust myself to do this alone I am announcing that I am holding myself accountable. Over the last month I have cast-on so many new projects, designs and shop samples that my head is starting to spin. So here it is, I am going to finish ALL my current WIPs before I allow myself to start fresh in March.

"But wait!" I hear you exclaim, "Isn't it March already?" Why yes, but since February is only 28 days long this year, and by most standard months I usually get 30 to 31 days for a end-of-month finishfest, so I am extending my "knitting February" a few days. A delusional act that will surely yield results, either that or rip a blackhole in the fabric of space/time sucking into it a few unfinished projects never to be heard from again. But I feel that ripping an unintentional hole in the fabric of time for my own selfish knitting needs is a little extravagant, so again, I am holding myself accountable. I will finish my WIPs, and I have you as a witness.

So here's what's on the ol' needles lately:

Clockwork (shop/secretly, to be worn for my own indulgent purposes)

Gaia #2 (a design AND birthday present for Shavonne: this alone should give me incentive to finish before Saturday, right?)

Mercy Falls Cowl (a shop sample/design/and a double knit class tool)

I am going to say look forward to Friday when I show off what I managed to accomplish, but don't hold your breath.