Monday, February 22, 2010

Reading about Knitting: Almost as Good as Knitting?

I have no fun knitting photos to share, but I can report that I am on the last row of the Linus blankie. I got distracted from that by yet another project I can't share, because I am test knitting for my friend. The end product is really cute, so I hope to share it with you all soon. And it uses up sock yarn, another bonus! That project has so many instructions that I've had to only work on it at home for a while, but now I am in a long easy section, so I'll be able to tote it around and finish it. Sadly, nowhere to tote it, though, because our Monday knitting hostess is sick. Get well soon, Dawn!

The blankie has gotten so large that I can't really transport it. I can work on it while riding around in the truck with Lee, which is how I got a little bit done this week. I had to resort to true comfort crafting: I am making simple, traditional granny squares out of the leftovers from the mitered square blankie. I'll edge them all in black and figure out some creative arrangement for them whenever I finish, and I'll have a second Linus blankie!

I've been browsing afghan patterns looking for something to make out of all that Marble yarn I got a couple of weeks ago. I found a nice book at Half Price Books, called Under Cover: 60 Afghans to Knit and Crochet. There are a lot of ideas in it, using standard inexpensive yarns. I found a square that looks like a flower, a bit, in the center, then turns square, so I think I'll try that one.

I've enjoyed quite a bit of knitting reading this week, none of them new books, but ones I hadn't looked at yet, so they were new to me. I enjoyed the new Interweave Knits, and also got another oldie at Half Price Books, Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them. It has cute dog patterns and fun profiles of men who knitted a few years ago. Since my dog sweaters apparently will stay with the former LYS, I ought to make more at some point, for my future skinny short-haired dog (none of my current dogs need a sweater, even the pug).

The books that have really fascinated me are two books about mittens that were recently reprinted. Now, I have made mittens, but never kept them--they have all been gifts, and have all been standard ones from the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns (see photo above). I'd been admiring all the fancy mittens I've seen on other people's Ravelry pages and in some of the magazines, but hadn't decided what I wanted to make yet. So, I ordered two mitten books and thoroughly enjoyed looking through them while watching Winter Olympics. The books complement each other well, because one is all about mittens knitted from the cuff up, and the other is about knitting them from the top to the cuff!

Magnificent Mittens and Socks: The Beauty of Warm Hands and Feet,by knitting treasure Anna Zilboorg is so much fun to go through. Zilboorg's personality just shines through, and the photography is lovely. The socks she designed that are similar to her mittens are a great addition, making it quite worthwhile that they re-issued the book to include the socks. These mittens have spectacular patterning and amazingly fancy cuffs. They don't look like something a person living as a solitary in an isolated cabin would come up with! Her technique makes a lot of sense, and I look forward to making a pair of these, just for fun.

Mostly Mittens: Ethnic Designs from Russia, by Charlene Schurch (whose sock patterns you have seen me praise if you have read this blog for a long-ish time) has slightly less extravagant patterns, and they use the more standard cuff-up construction approach, but I love all the things she did with the traditional designs of the Komi people. I learned a lot about them in the book, which was an added bonus. Learning about different traditions is always fascinating to me. I will see what I think about her thumb techniques, but I know I will love making more than one of the fascinating patterns, which look way more complex than they actually are to knit. This is another book that was recently re-issued. I remember when both originally came out (because I am old), but I wasn't in a mitten-loving phase back then.  I'd say Mostly Mittens is more practical, but both are so inspirational--and the designs could easily be translated into hats, bands on sweaters, etc., so I'd get them just as interesting stitch pattern references.

Finally, I want to encourage you to find the Knitting Traditions magazine put out by Piecework. This is more of a reference than a magazine, and has 43 projects that originally appeared in Piecework (which is a magazine that covers all kinds of hand-work).  There are many lovely socks, and some particularly nice shawls, as well. And of course, there is at least one pair of ethnic mittens (Swedish). I enjoy the articles, because they talk about a technique used in the past, then share a modern version of the technique. I've learned a lot from these articles over the years.

So, that's Suna's book report. I need to go work on ye olde secret project for a while. By the way, I really appreciated all the comments on my last post--thank you, kind readers--and I do hope to visit Gauge one Sunday and knit there! I know a lot of my blogging friends are experiencing posting droughts, so it is not just me. But I thank you for your patience as I plow through a bit of a rough time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some Words

I haven't had much energy or interest in posting. Still feeling a bit down about knitting and the world in general.

It does make me feel better to be working on this thing. I am now halfway finished with this Linus blankie, which I guess will be called a 4-Square Linus Blankie. Since it will be a rudimentary quilt pattern, I am now doing it in honor of Jackie, who passed away at 87 a couple of weeks ago, and was a wonderful quilter. I enjoy thinking of her, even as I knit with Red Heart, so I keep going.

The other thing that has kept me going is that some of the women I used to knit with have found a way to get together, and seem very keen to keep our group together, so we can share what we are doing with each other. We may get to meet in a restaurant in the future, but for now a generous soul has volunteered her house. Let me know if you are a knitting friend of mine who'd like to join us. I do hope I still have some knitting friends, any way.

I also had a chance to go to the lovely Yarnorama store in Paige, TX, to get some yarn (hadn't been yarn shopping in MONTHS) and to watch friends spinning. I got an offer for some help with using my drop spindle, but now I can't find my fiber. All I found was a wad of dog hair, which was not what I wanted to spin. Even if it is nice, long fluffy dog hair.

I did get some nice yarn. I got Marble acrylic yarn in 6 colors to make another charity blankie. That yarn is nice and soft and in such lovely self-striping colors. I want to crochet an afghan with flower shapes. I haven't crocheted in a while.

Also got some lovely sock yarn--two colors of Jitterbug (including VERY bright pink) and two colorways of new Regia Hand Dye effect. That stuff is so pretty (below is the bright colorway, but I also got two skeins of tan/brown for a shawl).

The other item I got was a very soft blend called Socrates, which has some alpaca in it, and it a lovely tweedy thing. All the colors were really intriguing, but I chose this grayish purple one, the colorway of "Dress Blues". I think it will make lovely patterned socks. My hand is in the picture because I was holding it near the window to get better light. It's been rainy here.

I guess I should show you Litla Dimun, which is taking a break so I can knit with that lovely inexpensive acrylic (ha ha). The photo is a close-up of the center. It's too big and awkward for a photo of the whole thing to be interesting. I am, though, about halfway finished--at the end of the first skein of yarn. Once I stop thinking so much about Jackie, I will go back to the shawl. And then maybe start back on socks and knit more like my old self. I just don't feel like my old self.

I am thinking not many folks are reading this any more, but thanks to those of you who are. I am working on a better self-image, which will make for more interesting and frequent content, I hope.