Wednesday, May 29, 2013
So that's a kooky picture up above. Let me explain. It's actually a combination of things. That's me, pretending to meditate-- part of a project I'm doing taking pictures of myself meditating in unusual places. And in the background is my friend Noska, in red, photo-bombing the shot. And then, right behind me is my friend Bart, holding up the back of a sweater I'm making him.
I've mentioned the sweater before-- it's a Cowichan style, originally made by the Cowichan tribe in Western Canada. Bart is Canadian and asked me to make him one. I said I'd give it a shot. (He does stuff for me, too-- he gives me cool tattoos.)
I was just about finished the pieces when I found out Bart is leaving for Canada really soon. I had already planned to hire Renata, a local finisher, to install the zipper-- not something I want to experiment with. Then Suzanne, who owns my LYS-- Hill Country Weavers-- convinced me to let Renata handle the blocking and seaming, too.
I'm usually pretty stubborn about finishing my own work, wanting to say I did every stitch. But I confess it didn't take much convincing for me. I was looking at a deadline, I don't like deadline knitting. And I've got another project going I want to get back to and another to start. And so, there you go, I'm going to hand it off.
I'm a little worried Renata will spot some of the errors (er... design elements)-- such as I think I knitted the sleeves a little too long and I accidentally used the smaller cast-on-for-ribbing needles for the first one so had to do the same for the second (only after realizing, 4/5ths of the way through the second sleeve my error, having to then rip that one out and start again). And I worry that when she spots the errors she will get a bad headache or collapse on the floor laughing.
But I hear she's a miracle worker and so here we go. A new chapter in my knitting world. Asking for help at the finish line. Any of y'all hire others to do your finishing?
Thursday, May 16, 2013
|This is The Monroe bag, in Caribbean Blue|
I don't actually make a big stink about holidays, preferring to ignore most of them. But I did use Mothers' Day as an excuse to buy myself this lovely bag by Namaste. This is my second bag from the company (I also bought their messenger bag last year). I really dig the company's designs and philosophy-- their products are vegetarian so to speak, no leather involved. They are created with knitters in mind but, as you can see, work for non-knit purposes, too-- though who in their right mind would go anywhere without their knitting in tow?
Here's a look at the inside:
Tucked into my knitting bag you see the latest copy of Interweave KNITS. I'm a regular contributor to the magazine and in this issue you'll find my profile of Amy Miller, a young designer from Wisconsin who-- though she's only been knitting five years-- has a truly stunning collection. I'm especially fond of her striped patterns and I do believe you'll love her stuff, too.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
|These are my young Maine friends who popped by the island when we were on the 2012 trip. They have sheep now and I plan to hit them up soon for some wool.|
First of all-- GREAT NEWS! In my last post, I mentioned that I was trying to win a trip to London. Well guess what? I WON! So now I can send you back a first person report on London knit shops. Can't wait! Thanks a million to those of you who viewed the video that led to my victory.
In other news, my foray deeper and deeper into the world of fiber joyfully continues. One day I swear I am going to wake up and be living the life -- surrounded by livestock and fiber everything. I'm getting closer every day. Herewith, photographic evidence.
If you have fun knit pics, please send them to me at email@example.com and I'll get them posted.
|Another shot of my friends' sheep. They live in Northern Maine and I can't wait to go up there and meet these babies in person.|
|This is my Boston Terrier, Rebound. She is sitting on a rag rug crocheted by my fiber artist friend Ann Woodall.|
|I'm saving up to buy an actual travel wheel but until then, I take my non-travel wheel with me when I meet up with my spinning friends. I guess that makes it a travel wheel of sorts.|
|My friend Sharon the Spinner has a very cool little triangle loom.|
|This "yarn" is actually made of sheets torn into strips and tied together. It's what my friend Ann uses to make her rag rugs.|
|Here's Ann, working on a rug. How she manages this with cats in the house is a mystery to me.|
|I went to a Fiber Festival in Seguin, Texas last week-- The Yellow Rose Fiber Festival. These places are extremely dangerous for me financially.|
|Here's some yarn made of buffalo fluff.|
|My friend Lisa-- I told y'all about her before-- has a great goat farm. Here's her display at the Yellow Rose Fiber Festival.|
|Here I am with Lisa.|
|Okay, this machine? It's like a gigantic needle felter. You can make a rug using it in no time.|
|Folks working on giant needle felt projects.|
|Hilarious, right? This is the creation of Alisha, whose yarn line, Alisha Goes Around, flies off the shelves like Madam Alexander dolls at Christmastime. (Odd reference, I know, but I used to work at Macy's Christmas Department a thousand years ago and I still remember women fighting over those dolls)|
|And here she is herself-- Alisha!|
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Last post I was talking about how I love it when my worlds collide. Well consider this an unplanned Part II. As it happens, I am knitting a sweater from Vogue Knitting's Fall 2010 Mag, which is titled London Calling. I am also (at least until Sunday, April 28, 2013) in a contest to win a trip for two to London. I will be so pleased if I finish the sweater OR win the trip. If both happen, well then paint me over the moon.
Before I talk about the sweater pattern, let me tell you how you can help me win the trip if you want to be part of Team Spike. All you have to do is watch an extremely silly 29-second video of me sitting in a MINI Cooper. The video was shot at an auto show and a green screen was involved so I appear to be driving (quite dangerously) through London whilst wearing a tiara. Here's a link to the video. (Note: you can't see it on a mobile device.)
So, about the pattern. Funny thing is, I still can't tell if I actually love the sweater. I have a feeling part of my desire to make it involved this subconscious belief I have about a lot of patterns (and clothes in general). That is, if I make/buy a particular garment, simply by putting it on I will look just like the model. Considering I'm 5'5" and typically weigh about fifty pounds more than your basic, too-skinny, 6' tall super model (or even regular knitting model), it's a pretty sure bet (and absolutely sure bet) this won't happen. And yet... I keep making those patterns-- which is fine since I almost always lean toward roomy garments which fit me fine, even if they don't hang on me as see in the picture.
(I still can't get out of my head this one pattern from my first ever ROWAN mag from about ten years ago. I know the real reason I love it is that I am convinced if I make it that it will, like a Calgon Bath Commercial, take me away to the beach where the photo shoot occurred.)
There are other reasons I'm working on this sweater. One is, the pattern stayed in my mind for years after I saw it, which suggests to me... well it suggests that I should definitely consider making it. I think the stripes pulled me in. Then there was an element of supply/demand: I accidentally left my original copy of that issue in Israel in 2010, then ordered another copy and lost that. Absence definitely made the heart grow fonder, and I decided that I couldn't live without the magazine. So I tracked down ANOTHER copy, which I keep close by my side now, so it, too, doesn't disappear. And since I went to so much trouble to get a copy and hold onto it, well darn if I'm not going to make something from it, right?
I've also got a very practical reason for making this sweater, even if it is-- due to the length of it-- going to take me 500 years to finish. It is SO EASY. I mean, an infant could knit this thing. It involves hours upon hours of mindless St, St which, believe it or not, doesn't really bore me. I mean, sometimes it bores me. But for the most part, I can do this sort of knitting under the table during dinner, in the dark at a music show (which I did last night), in the movies (really), and-- just the other night and also in the dark, at a David Sedaris reading. (Aside: He is SO FUNNY and if you like to knit to audiobooks I super highly recommend any of his books. His new one, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, just came out and is super hilarious.) I'm also working on a Cowichan sweater which requires sitting at home, in the light, and concentrating on charts. This simple tunic is a nice balance to that, one that allows me to keep my hands busy and still have a conversation.
I'll know in two days if I won the trip to London. If so, I hope to go over there this summer. And if that all pans out, then I am going to ramp up the stripey sweater over here and try to knock it out before I leave. Or at least finish it on the long flight over. Theme-dressing-- might be corny, but that's fine by me. Just get me to the palace already, and let me be wearing my London sweater while I'm there.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I was thinking-- I know a lot of you readers are here regularly (thanks!) but to you newcomers, I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Spike. I work with Lisa & co to make the Monhegan Island Knitting & Yoga Retreat happen each year. My role-- I maintain this blog, and then the week of the retreat I'm your in-house scribe and photographer, documenting your trip so you can, if you wish, just knit around the clock. I'm always open to ideas for the blog, so if you want to share hints, tips, breaking knitting stories and/or photos of your projects, by all means drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I want to tell you about the joyful collisions of my various worlds. In addition to being a writer and a knitter, I'm also a wedding officiant in Austin, TX. Last year on the Monhegan trip, I coincidentally ran into a young couple whose wedding I'd performed a couple of years ago in Texas. That was some fun serendipity.
Recently I did a wedding here in the Hill Country and the bride, Linda, is a crocheter (and knitter) and the author of a couple of cool crochet books. Instead of having a ring pillow for the ring bearer, check out this transportation device:
|Photo Copyright Sleeping Owl Photography 2013|
And then there are times when the knitting connection really casts a wide net. The other day I had coffee with Richard, son of Alison, who is a regular Monhegan attendee. Richard lives here in Austin and he is at the beginning stages of becoming an international superstar with his line of handmade jeans. As in, yes, he sews every pair himself. I had a great time chatting with him about his denim work and his leatherwork and if he ever decides to start a line of Mom Jeans with Comfort Elastic Waistband, I'm going to be the first in line to buy some. Meanwhile, you can check out his cool handiwork at his Paleo Demin website. Here's a picture of Richard who sadly wasn't wearing any of his mom's hand knits because it's already in the 90s down here most days.
And that's the full report for this time, y'all. I hope your world is full of overlapping knitting connections and coincidences, too.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I am really hitting my goal to do something fiber related every day. Sure, I still miss an occasional day, but mostly this dream of mine is turning into a super, super reality. I mentioned in my last post that I was heading out to hang out with my friend Lisa, who has a herd of Angora goats. Lisa is AMAZING. She hand shears, she solar dyes, she spins, she weaves. She is living the life. We went out for a dyeing day and I got to hang out with some super knowledgable folks who nudged me along in my quest to learn as much as I can about fiber and dyeing and spinning. This from someone who started out on acrylic yarn and aluminum needles. Let's not call me a snob now, let's just say I am grateful to be learning so much about The Source of Great Fiber. As you can see above, I would be content to sit in a goat pen all day long. Below is a picture of the goat locks I dyed. Lisa really encouraged us to go crazy with the colors. I had no trouble following that suggestion.
This week, I had yet another joyful moment when I received a package from Cottage Craft in St. Stephens, New Brunswick, Canada. That is where Cottage Craft is, a super super excellent yarn and hand-knits shop I discovered on my trip to the Great White North last summer. I love their wool so much and the price is right, so I ordered some to add to my stash. Below, Ori re-enacts my feelings upon receiving the yarn:
In the near future we must discuss our friends, family and partners and the many ways they humor our knitting lifestyle.
Happy Spring Y'all,
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Happy Almost Spring! Today I just wanted to share with you the above picture. That's my Boston Terrier, Rebound, sporting a wig made of the amazing Canadian yarn I was talking about recently. I ordered it special to make a Cowichan sweater. I'm making great progress on the sweater, which involves charts. Charts are not my specialty, but I did learn enough about how to read them one year on a Monhegan retreat, where I also learned the benefits of blowing up the pattern really big and using highlighter tape to keep track of where I'm at. It is seriously amazing how very many skills I've picked up on the trips-- this from a knitter who for the first four years of knitting refused to learn to purl. (I was afraid I'd get sucked into the world of complicated patterns. I have, to an extent, but it turns out that's not so bad at all.)
The Canadian yarn is barely spun. I'm surprised it didn't come still attached to the sheep. The dogs are also surprised. In fact, the reason Rebound has that wig is because I foolishly left the yarn in a place the dogs could get at it. They got a whiff of the lanolin and started plowing through the balls, probably looking for a leg of lamb for lunch. Truth is, I doubt Rebound did the most unraveling. I believe Tatum-- half Australian shepherd, half Blue Heeler-- gets that distinction. Tatum LOVES wool-- she's in the habit of "herding" my wool rug, bunching it up and laying on top of it, keeping the wolves and coyotes at bay (happily we don't get many wolves and coyotes in the house so her job is pretty easy).
Fortunately, they only destroyed two balls. More fortunately, I've been able to salvage some of it to use on the sweater. And still more fortunately, since I spin now, I can take the rest and incorporate it into some more yarn for some other purpose. (Don't you love how the list of projects just grows and grows?) So all is not lost. Hardly any is lost.
This week I'm heading to an angora goat farm-- the little kids have arrived, I'll be getting some roving and taking a dye class. Better than Easter Eggs-- fresh dyed curly locks. I'm sure they'll look great on Rebound's head. I'll take a lot of pictures.