Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This is a quick post.  The last 2 days have had no knitting on shawls due to a combination of work and other obligations.  I've had an idea for finishing the Echinops Shawl, and am excited to get to it today.  Unfortunately, I thought of a better way to get there, and am now tinking back 8 rows for a smoother transition.

I don't mind tinking, it has its own rythm and its own pleasures. 

I've got some ideas for the next shawl in mind, and am looking forward to sharing progress sometime soon.  Look for a picture-post either tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: The Woolery (NH)

Today, I went to one of my favorite places on earth:  The Woolery

This shop is actually my Mom's local yarn shop, but I drive there just because the people and the atmosphere are worth every minute of the drive.

This shop is near and dear to my heart.  The people here are wonderful, the selection is great, and there's always something going on.  I can always find what I need here, whether it's company, a pattern, or a skein (or four) of yarn.

The owner, Deb, kindly let me take some pictures today to try to convey the scope of the shop.  Deb's site is linked above, and in my "Places I go," bar.  Check it out for some more great shots of the place.  It's like the bar Cheers, only with less drinking and more laughter.  As always, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

The heart of any shop will be the owner.  I think that you have to be a truly good and generous person to open and run a yarn shop, and Deb only proves the point.  I don't know if the yarn magic overcomes her, but I've never seen Deb be anything but capable and kind, even under pressure.  This is "our" Deb:

Of course, I had to get a few things to knit the next shawls with.  These are for folk who cannot tolerate animal fibers.  There's cotton, silk, bamboo and hemp in this grouping:

While I was there, I was lucky enough to run into Meredith Burtt of Burtt Bagley Bags.  A true local artisan, Meredith has even been featured in Yankee Magazine! 

Her work has wonderful character, and it's very high quality.  You can see that she loves what she's doing, and you will love it too. 

Luckily Meredith was carrying one of her little bags in a neutral, and she let me get a picture to show off some of its character.  As an aside, the bags are lined, and they have really fantastic pockets inside.  I just thought to get an external shot, but isn't it super cute?

Thanks again to the lovely folks at The Woolery, and to Meredith Burtt for letting me put this up and share with everyone!  I hope you all get a chance to go, it's worth it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

mmmm, camelspin

So, when I don't have the mental energy to keep track of a complicated pattern, I've been poking at my skeins of luxury yarn.  These singletons aren't enough to make a large shawl, but they're enough to wrap yourself in hedonism.  Mmmm, hedonism.

The yarn I wrote about for this shawlette is Handmaiden Camel Spin in Madder.  My camera refuses to capture the colors correctly.  The reds are actually burgundies, the tans are dark walnut browns.  Instead of early fall (which is what my poor camera captured), think late fall.  November browns with the mature reds that go with them. 

Not that I don't love what the camera shows, it's just not what it actually looks like.  Poot on a stick.  As always, you can click the little pictures to get a full sized one.

Anyway, you can see that this yarn colorway will pool.  I decided to knit it in simple leaves, which lets the colors pool into delightful late fall leaves.  I think the pooling works well with this pattern, rather than being a detraction.

Plus the yarn is heaven to knit.  Win-win all around.

shawl progress day 4

Today, work has been trying hard to send me off of my rocker.  Anything I touched has turned to despair and waste. 

Instead of murdering the people around me, I knit today.

Shawlzilla now looks like I've been knitting.  Check out the progress:

Yup, you're seeing right.  I now have a 22 inch shawl as measured un-stretched down the center back spine.  Time to stop messing around and knit a border.  Yay for progress somewhere.

This reminds me, next post about the shawlette progress. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

globe thistle shawl progess (shawl 1), day 3

Today was actually kind of a wash for knitting.  I only got one more repeat finished.

I spent a great deal of time on the phone today, so instead I put together a couple of pins for keeping the shawl closed.  Personally I can't decide which one I like better for this yarn.

Both of them can be clicked for larger versions.  The one with the butterfly, I made with dark purple, deep sea green, and a grey peacock pearls, and with white and deep marine swarovski crystals.   The follow your heart one I made with a single large half-moon pearl, and 2 golden shadow swarovski crystals.

Truthfully, I think the deep purple pearl gets lost in the beautiful purple of the yarn.  The white pearl stands out more, and it glows within the purple yarn.  I guess my preference is for the single white pearl this time.  Now I need to make a shawl for the one with the deep colored pearls.

Given the amount of concentration the larger patterned shawls take, I'm thinking about putting up shawlettes here as well.  I have several skeins of really nice yarn that I want to test with a simple pattern, but that aren't enough to make a large enough shawl to count for the 200 shawl project.  These would be the kind of knitting that can be done while in groups or while being driven around.  The kind of project I don't need to write a chart for, because I know the patterns by heart.

Something simple, that showcases the yarn at the heart of it.  For instance, I have a skein of handmaiden camel spin in madder.  It's roughly these colors:

Only slightly more brown.  I would dearly love to knit this up, as I'm looking forward to autumn and the colors sing fall days to me.  But it wouldn't make a full shawl to the sizes I've posted I would make here.  I'm thinking maybe I'll knit up a shawlette and offer this as well, for folks who want something definitely luxurious but not necessarily large.  Here's a link to the folks I borrowed the picture from, it goes to the exact product the picture references in case anyone wants some themselves.

I guess we'll see how it knits up.

About the Yarn

The yarn I am using for this first project came from 100 percent pure wool.  That link takes you to the exact skein I'm using.  Here's one of their product pictures, which captures the amount of variegation in the skein.  The color in this is a bit warmer than the skein I purchased.

The color as it came through to my house is more blue than the picture above shows.  It's almost a greyish purple, but variegated as shown in the pictures.

Working with this yarn, it is exactly as described.  It is a yarn single, which doesn't bother me as far as knitting it up.  Some people prefer a more balanced yarn, but in an organic pattern the twist of a single can be quite charming.

The only issue I have with this yarn is that it is not a consistent spin.  This means there are some areas in the yarn which end up thick, and others which end up thin.  It's not a traditional thick and thin, and I know it will be quite stable and sturdy when knit up.  I have worked with this brand of yarn in the past, and do not find it to be at all weak, even though it has some thinner spots.

However, someone who prefers more consistency in yarn thickness would want to choose a 2 ply instead of this single.  Singles that are a bit more consistent can be found in Schaefer Yarns, and I've had good luck with Handmaiden yarns for their singles consistency as well.

This single with it's inconsistency is perfect for this pattern, I think.  It adds a realness to the organic flow of the pattern, without losing anything in it's strength or beauty.

I do recommend both this yarn and this company.

day the second, round 2 (fight fight fight)

Ok, so maybe it wasn't that exciting.

Last night, we made a wonderful chicken something or other in tomato sauce.  So tasty, so succulent....

Yep, up most of the night with insano, will-to-live-draining acid reflux.  Shoot.  Guess me & tomatoes will have to remain frenemies.  Tastes so good.... hurts so bad...

So, in an effort to keep myself occupied after the tomatoes decided to digest me back, I got another repeat knit on the shawl.  I did take a picture of it but realized shawlzilla looks about the same as it did in yesterday's picture.  And 100 pictures of a puddle of lace knitting is not very exciting. 

When you knit a piece of clothing, it generally looks like something before blocking.  Blocking brings out the sweet side of whatever you knit.  But for lace, it's an absolute necessity.  The universal truth is that lace knitting looks like crud until it's blocked.  Blocking is when the miracles happen.  Until that point, lace knitting looks like a strange hobby for the deranged... on a good day... with other people who have knit lace looking at it and saying things like "that might not be so bad once you block it."

But I digress.

Last night got me to thinking about what this shawl reminds me of.  The pattern in this color make me think of globe thistles.

So, I'm thinking this will be the Echinops Shawl.  The pattern of the flower head is not 100% like the globe thistle, but the way it's sort of a boxy ball shape, the color variations in the yarn,  and the leaves travelling down the stem all make me think of this flower.

I'm still working out the edging.  I've thought maybe I'll use the beech leaf edging around the outside edge to suggest hosta and garden trellis.  I've also thought about using oak leaf edging (which doesn't look a thing like oak leaves to me, but so it goes).  I would love to come up with an edging I can knit out straight from the body of the shawl, but haven't come  up with something I like enough yet.

Next post, about the yarn.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

day the second

Not too much to report today. I didn't get as much time to knit as I had hoped. Too much active work at work to spend time knitting. Tomorrow is going to be a concall day, so I should get more done.

I'm still enjoying the pattern, and I've got some ideas in my head about the outside edge.

Here is today's progress. You can almost even see that I'm through 3 repeats of the pattern. Again, shot from the back. Maybe tomorrow I'll get a decent shot of the front for a change.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It occurs to me

I think I'm coming across very bitter about the move. I have to admit I am a little, but I am trying hard to be a better person. I want to document some of what we're up against, so that I can look back on it and laugh in the future.

To document, I have unpacked 45 boxes from Saturday night to this evening. This is what is left to be unpacked and put someplace.

The front porch in its entire 35x12 foot space:

This is what the left side of the porch looks like.
It doesn't all fit in a single shot, so I've broken them out.

Here are the shots of the right side of the porch

By last count, we're down to 14 bags of cloth-type things, and only about 65 boxes left to deal with.

The only fly in this ointment is, well, this is where the stuff would go:

Or here in the kitchen, which already has 6 boxes and 14 bags of food waiting to be be unpacked and organized somewhere:

This is my last post about the move/results of the move. The blog will officially be returned to its purpose starting.... now.

Our first pick

My husband ended up being the one to choose the first skein to be made into shawl 1 of our 200 shawl march.

My husband likes jewel tones, so I was a bit surprised that he chose this one. But here is the skein he chose for me to work with.

With flash turned on it looks something like this:
of course, this shows the beauty of the purple, but not that it's more of a heather color. So it photographed darker than it is in real life (at least on my monitor).

So, I chose a pattern to knit, and started. Here's today's progress:

Photographed from the purl side instead of the knit side, because I'm tired and didn't notice until I was resizing them. (Photos will be resized, but until I get more time and/or more saavy no color correcting or editing is done otherwise.)

I decided to begin with triangle shape, because I find it a pleasing shape to knit and flattering to wear. I chose the frost flowers pattern from Barbra Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and will work out an edging as I get closer to finished.

On the pattern: it is a bit fiddly because it's got patterning on both the "outside" and the "inside." But once you've knit a repeat or two, it becomes pretty intuitive. Basic pattern documented online on this wonderful site, book available either at a local yarn shop like this one or this one, or available online from places like this or like this. That second online one is totally worth the visit as long as you don't mind drooling.

The yarning!

So here's the basket of first hopefuls. I picked out 10 different yarns of different weights, colors and manufacturers. I have given my boys the first choice, and they have chosen a yarn for me to work with. This is a little unfair, as the post is happening after the fact. So I'm catching us up blog-wise to time-line.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It Continues! The moving part deux

We only had myself, my husband and our oldest with us yesterday so no matter how much was packed and taken care of it was going to be a harder day all around. We were also on a time limit because my folks were watching our littlest and they're in the mid age range between Ann and Mollye.

We drove the 2 and 1/2 hours back down to the apartment on nothing but determination and coffee.

When we got there, nothing had been packed.


Mollye is diabetic, but not disabled. To be fair, she did only have 20 hours to pack, and I'd only made up 15 boxes for her before we left the night before.

Those 15 boxes sure came in handy when I packed up the kitchen while Mollye made and ate her breakfast.

My husband and our oldest tackled the quagmire that was the upstairs. When they got far enough to reach the walk in closet, they actually started exercising their four letter words. I'm known for my unladylike language, but my boys tend to be more temperate. So I went upstairs to see what was going on.

They'd found the closet was packed from top to bottom, front to back. Nobody could actually walk into it, even to unpack it. They put clothing with tags on it in sizes she hasn't worn in a decade into roughly 9 large sized garbage bags. And then they continued to unpack.

I won't get into the details, but suffice it to say that we filled another 14 foot truck from top to bottom and front to back with nothing but the things Mollye has been hoarding for the better part of my lifetime. While she complained off and on the entire time that we were being unfair in making her move.

On the only weekend we could get vacation time for, using the truck that we paid for, in the boxes that we paid for, while we did all the lifting. And packing.

Our home is only 2100 square feet, and built in 1852. Closet space is non-existant.

Ann says she will help Mollye with her hoarding. I sure hope so.

We rehomed and recycled and got rid of a lot of our things to make enough space for them to live with us. We just don't have room to store non-essentials. Say a prayer for all of us, we could use the good thoughts.

It begins!

So here we are back to the blog. This weekend, we spent 26 hours packing and moving my in-laws stuff. My brother, his girlfriend, my husband, my oldest son, and myself were all there working on it.

We had anticipated that they wouldn't be able to afford moving boxes, so in June we purchased and dropped off packing boxes at their place so they could pack up and get ready until we knew the exact date when they could move (due to mother in law going through bankruptcy). We knew their lease was up August 30, so whenever we got the go ahead we'd have to move fast.

They had not packed anything when we arrived. We packed up the entire downstairs. From this 600 square foot apartment the downstairs, not including the kitchen, filled a 14 foot moving truck. We looked at each other, and then went upstairs. Mollye had not packed anything, and we could not enter the room because the room was literally stacked from top to bottom with random unidentifiable things.

I made the suggestion that, since there was no way to bend space and time and fit any more in the truck and we'd have to make a second 200 mile round trip on Sunday, Mollye stay that last night and pack the kitchen as well as sorting, tossing, and packing the things in her room.

We drove the 2 1/2 hours home, unpacked and arranged and got Ann settled in and able to relax.

There was no way Ann was going to be able to pack or unpack. Between her other medical conditions and the arthritis, we were lucky she was okay enough to get home and in place.

Then, we fell into bed and prepared to do battle with Mollye's stuff the next day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is the 200 shawl project

So, what the heck is a 200 shawl project?

We realized that we need to do some upgrades to our home to make it easier and more comfortable for the new members of our family to live here. It will take roughly 10 thousand dollars to make these happen, even if we do a lot of the work ourselves.

Both my husband and I work full time. We already work alternating shifts so that we can care for the children and still be able to pay the mortgage(s, thank you plumbing repair bills...). There isn't much space for either of us to pick up a second job. At least not for 2 years when our youngest starts school; and our family moves in on the 21st of this month.

I considered a life of crime. I just don't see that as feasible.
I considered prostitution. Yeah, not feasible either.
I considered selling the children...... occasionally tempting, but also not an option.

So. Time to consider the other talents I have that may be useful to the family. I can sew, but not while I work and not with the 4 year old. I can glass-etch, but ditto due to the chemicals involved. I knit. Frequently, for stress relief. I knit lace for fun. I already have a stash.... Knitting it is!

The original thought was that if I charged 100.00 flat in labor plus the cost of the yarn and the percentage fee from pay pal, I could earn enough money in 100 shawls. 25 would be enough for me to put in the heater that will allow my in-laws to use their second room for the full year, and I could put up progress on both the shawls and on the projects and people could see exactly where the money is spent. The shawls would be a crazy-good deal in terms of cost for product, and it would benefit women who haven't had much of a break to date.

Then I realized that the IRS would want a chunk of that ~2.00 an hour. So it became the 200 shawl project.

So this is the 200 shawl project. I will create 200 shawls out of varying yarns in my stash. I will put them up for sale at a rate of 100.00 for labor plus cost of yarn and the 3% for paypal (no 3% for paypal if given checks or cash). Each shawl will be a minimum of 68x30 for triangle, 60x60 for square, and 60x24 for rectangle. They will come with a repair kit, a blocking diagram, instructions and soak for re-blocking when necessary. They will come numbered 1-200.

I will blog the progress of each shawl as they are made. And hopefully together we will make it possible for Ann and Mollye to be comfortable in their new digs.

Edited to add:
Well, any money that comes in won't be going toward more renovations to accomodate Ann and Mollye.  They took off after 10 days of being here.  We now know that they were moving their things back into the apartment the day after we finished moving Mollye's stuff here, and were telling us that they were unpacking.  I suppose they were, just not here.

At this point, the readers voted that any profit from the 200 shawl project be used to send the boys to school, to invest in awesome yarns for the shawls, and to update our water heater to something made in the last 20 years ;-)

Who are the players

A little background on who we are. My husband and I bought a house a little over 5 years ago. This house was built in 1852, and many of the features were (are) authentic 1852.

In the intervening 5 years, we've upgraded the roof to one without holes and replaced all the plumbing as it blew up (early, often, and expensive). We have also had a younger son who is now the ripe old age of 4. Our oldest just turned 17. We have new grey hairs lovingly named after each of them.

In addition, this year we are gaining 2 new members to our household. My husband's 73 year old mother, and her 62 year old baby sister. My mother in law is retired, and living on a pension from her late husband which will cover her expensive medication but does not leave enough for her to pay rent. She has fibromyalgia, lupis, and a few other difficult medical conditions. Due to being on prednisone for the last ~30 years, her kidneys are destroying her red blood cells. She needs assistance, and her moving in is how we can help take care of her.

My husband's aunt was laid off and has been working part-time since then, as it's the only work she has been able to get. She cannot afford to have her own apartment, as her income is always under 500 a month. She has diabetes and also requires medication.

Neither of these ladies can handle much in the way of stairs at this point, so we have moved our family into the 2nd story of our home and are giving them the downstairs to live in. This is a tight fit but we're family.

Next post, what is the 200 shawl project and what does it have to do with these people?

Edited to add:
My inlaws made it 10 days.  We've since been told by my sister-in-law that this is typical of her mother's behavior.  Although I did kind of have that figured out, as this is the second time she's done this exact thing to us (long story, only her stuff moved in the first time).  Between our families we've spent almost 15K between us in the last 5 years trying to help Ann out.