Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Triumphant Return

This is Brian reporting in.

I know. It's been a while since I contributed to this blog. Shameful. I mean it has my name on it and everything.

In all fairness I took a year off. Oh, I still picked up my needles now and again, but I found myself occupying my hands with the new (well, new since I last blogged) boyfriend and my awesome Wii. And I found my new (well new since I last blogged) job occupied more of my time than the old one did.

But I can see the fall colors out of my window even if global climate change is keeping me from feeling crisp autum air and the fiber bug bit me in the ass again and now here I am. I have a number of projects OTN* and even a few recent FOs to report about, and I'll give a full update soon, but I really wanted to talk about a new book, Knitting New Scarves by Lynn Barr.

Some of my correspondence with Bevin about this title can be read in an earlier post of Bevin's here.

The book is exceptional and has been really inspirational for me. Just reading through it is encouraging me to begin thinking of knitting in 3 dimensions, more so than I had before anyway, and I'm anxious to start some of the more unusual projects. There's practically nothing in the book that I don't want to at least swatch if for no other purpose than to just try the unconventional techniques routinely employed by these challenging patterns.

I dove right in and grabbed some Lion Brand WoolEase I'd long ago stashed for some long forgotten project and cast on. I chose "Stacked Wedges" because I liked the effect of the short row shaping from the photograph in the book and I was looking for an easy knit to mindlessly work on while I watched Heroes on the sofa with Boomer. In less than a week I've managed about half a scarf.

Here's photo of my progress.

This scarf features some simple short row shaping to create a really interesting geometric design. It zigs and zags as it comes off the needles. The color changes keep it interesting and the pattern can be easily memorized.

One thing to be aware of. The photographs in the book show a scarf with a clear right and wrong side. In those photographs, the join between colors is only visible on the back, while the wedges stack cleanly on the right side. However, following the pattern as written will produce a scarf with visible joins on both sides.

Because I discovered this well after I'd begun I've decided to continue on with alternating joins. It's very small and doesn't bother me too much, plus it makes the scarf truly reversable. But if I ever knit a scarf from this pattern again I would correct this problem by knitting 7 full rows of the old color after the second short row pattern on the left wedges instead of 6 and then 4 full rows of the new color before beginning the short row pattern again instead of 5. This easy alteration on every other wedge will put all joins on the same side.

This is a really fun knit and at this rate I'll be able to show off a new FO next week. But that's not binding. You know. Just in case I fall behind schedule.

I'm trying to decide what to try next. I'll keep you posted. I swear.

*on the needles

Rhinebeck Redux

My knitting group friend Babs got sick so she couldn't go to Rhinebeck. However, my very good friend and non-knitter, professional comedian Kelli Dunham, agreed to go on a half-day jaunt to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.

Kelli asked if she was going to be the only butch dyke there, and honestly I think we only spotted a couple of others. People watching was the best part of the event and I loved how many men in utilikilts we saw. If I ever get her to come to the festival again (doubtful) she'll have to wear her utilikilt. Something butch dykes and male sheep and wool festigoers have in common.

It is always interesting bringing a Muggle into the fold of the Knitting world. You tend to look at the whole spectacle from a new set of eyes. We had a lovely drive up that ended with a bunch of traffic to get into a Sheep and Wool festival. One would not anticipate traffic for this sort of thing, but traffic there was. And tour buses, many tour buses.

Kelli was definitely not prepared for how many people would be at this event. And I don't think it was just the quantity of souls pouring into the gates of the Dutchess County Fair Grounds that astounded her, it was also the palpable enthusiasm of the fairgoers. People were all smiles and bravely wearing knitwear despite the 75 degree weather.

I have wanted Angora bunny yarn for quite some time. This angora rabbit cost less than the Angora yarn I ended up getting:

$40 on sale from a vendor in one of the stalls. I saw several other rabbits with sold signs on their cages.

I saw a lot of animals that look like my cats. Sheep, goats and Alpacas who are very similar to a Himalayan or a Persian kitty. Only their poop was a lot bigger.

Angora goats!

In a rare moment of shyness I was feeling a bit too out of my element to ask the sheepherders/farmers questions about the flocks. I remain very curious about the sheep to shawl process and intend to take some workshops next time I go.

The sheep pelts next to the live sheep freaked me out. Message to the sheep--"Behave or this is what shall come of you!"

The Lamb Chili also freaked me out (as a former vegetarian I still get skeeved out about eating baby animals) but I ate it and it was tasty. Kelli said it was tender and not gamey as lamb usually is. I think this is the first time I have eaten lamb in about 10 years, so I don't know.

We watched the Leaping Llamas competition. It is not really much fun for the Llamas since leaping isn't really something they tend to be interested in. There are a lot of photos at my flickr, but here's one. Basically the whole competition looks like this:

It was peak foliage weekend in the NY tri-state area.

I left Kelli by the food for awhile and went shopping. In all I hit maybe 4 of the buildings, and saw a lot of yarn but felt like it was picked over. Definitely no one had enough bulky to make the sweater I was looking for. I even thought I might go home with no purchases (shock, since Rhinebeck is the equivalent of a mall of nothing but yarn stores) but I found some last minute Angora yarn I loved, enough to make a scarf, definitely pricey but soft. I really didn't want to buy just to buy and wanted to be excited about it.

Overall, it was fun but overwhelming and even though we had only been through about 1/3 of the place, we were ready to go after 2 hours. Kelli was a trooper and supportive. Next time I want to go with someone well versed in animal husbandry and/or a huge knitter posse so that I can shop vicariously through others.

Coming tomorrow--video of the Leaping Llamas competition (Alpacas included).

More at The Flickr Album

I promised Kelli she could blog about it afterward, which she has done here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm Going To Rhinebeck

Okay, so I am about 90% sure I am going to Rhinebeck. I am moving on Saturday, but since I have a crew of 4 coming to help unpack and set up my digs I think leaving at 8 AM Sunday, returning by 4 PM Sunday should be do-able, still have my life reset in time to function Monday and run over to my old place to scrub it down to get my deposit back.

Last One Skeining suggested I go with a project in mind. My project is going to be Emerald. It looks like a cozy knit and I really want a nice fluffy cardigan right now.

I read this on the Rhinebeck boards on Ravelry:

It wouldn't be Rhinebeck without the 4H clubs lamb chili. It's my first stop. That's right, chili for breakfast.

Brian and I once made 7 meat chili for the super bowl. This lamb chili fits right in with that theme and I will eat this chili, look at cute sheep and send text messages to Brian (who will be watching a preview of Cirque du Soleil on Sunday).

So if you see a fat girl with ginger spice hair ogling sheep and taking lots of pictures, say hi!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Rather abruptly, I find myself moving for the second time in the year 2007. This is a year that will go down in infamy for myself and several of my closest girlfriends (*knock on wood* hopefully not for Brian) as a year of total BS*. We are planning a type of Burning Man / Guy Fawke's Day style new year's eve party to burn the year 2007 in effigy and hopefully start the next year fresh and ready to fulfill our dreams or at least maybe 2008 won't be such a downer.

The delightful part of my new apartment is that I am maintaining enough space so that I will still have a bedroom, office and a yarn room. I lose a backyard, gain a parking space and a view of the Manhattan skyline.

In lieu of a veritable entry, I present for your enjoyment excerpts of a recent fiber discussion I had with Brian.

TO: Bevin
FROM: Brian



I bought this book Knitting New Scarves based entirely on my love of scarf knitting, the interesting cover art, and a review I read online. Yesterday my box from Amazon arrived and while it is completely different, Knitting New Scarves is every bit the equal of Scarf Style.

I never knew garter stitch could be so beautiful.

And do you remember the matching skeins of navy and taupe I bought at that barn sale? I've already decided that they must become "Zig Zag," a sort of interlocking intarsia scarf the author describes as "an optical illusion." It doesn't look very difficult, but it looks totally unique and fun to knit.

Of course, my favorite design in the book, "Wandering Pleats," she describes as the most difficult and the one that requires your "undivided attention." It's construction involves the use of 5 double pointed needles 2 single pointed needles, a third single pointed needle of a smaller size, and a j shaped cable needle all in use at the same time without any cabling or working in the round.
And there's a great design that I thought would appeal to you immediately called, "Black Pearls." It's a scarf that looks like a string of oversized, knitted beads. The beads are actually stuffed with batting. She said that people were constantly asking to touch the scarf when it was coming off her needles. The photographed model is in black, but she suggested white or multicolored beads would also be very nice.

I'm actually thinking about ripping out the progress I've made on my Noro scarf and using the yarn for one of the more intricate 3d designs in this book instead. That's an ongoing debate in my head.

You have to look at this book.
The above link has a book review of the book including a photo of the black pearls scarf. The photo is deceptive, the scarf is almost 6 feet long.



TO: Brian
FROM: Bevin


Brian I am very excited to see your new book. And you are right, the beaded type scarf is totally up my alley. Recall my Stalled Work In Progress on that off the shoulder Vogue Knitting sweater with the crochet beaded border thingy? Does it count as a stalled work in progress if I have abandoned it after 2 rows?

How much of your Noro scarf have you finished? I think if it is less than a foot you could rip it. Otherwise maybe your investment is too great to go back now?

I also noticed when I clickied on the Amazon link there is a new book out.


Folk Style,
Brian. It is like knitting a putamayo album cover in the shape of different garments over and over again.




The MQW** seems to be the ruffles of the Folk Style KAL***.


Am I wrong or is the MQW just a series of mitered squares? What is so special about it?
You are right, it is the Ruffles--although I only see one other project being cast on from that book in the whole first 20 entries of the KAL. The publisher sponsored KALs seem a little contrived but I must admit to getting a little amped about Bag Style by reading the KAL. Interweave apparently leaked a pattern for a bobble bag. http://bagstylekal.blogspot.com/

I still really wish the KAL for the Weekend
Knitting book took off because there are so many great projects in there I will never get to but want to see. Oh, wait, bitches have Ravelry now!! What number are you?



Bevin I broke into 4 digits over the weekend. There are 8862 people in front of me. It could be any time now.

Yes, the MQW is just a series of mitered squares, but I beleive as with all the Style books, it was very beautifully photographed and so is getting a great deal of attention. I'm sorry to say it looks really boring to me. The FO would be nice to have, but the process of getting there would be so painful.

I'm reserving judgment on folk style. I was dubious about Poncho Style until I saw it. Now I'm even comfortable calling it Wrap Style. Amazing how perceptions can change.


FROM BEVIN: Brian have you read the book Cold Comfort Farm?


FROM BRIAN: no. I've not read Cold Comfort Farm.


FROM BEVIN: So far it seems really good and it came highly recommended by the knitting podcast I listen to, Cast-on. I will pass it along when I'm done.


BRIAN: Check out this really interesting use of self striping yarn and short rows for socks on Mag Knits.

*If you don't know what that stands for you shouldn't read this blog.
** Modern Quilt Wrap
*** Knit Along