Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hat Heads

I love books. I have the best job for someone who loves books, working in a library. I especially love books about knitting. I own some, and buy them only after checking them out from the library. If they have more than 2 or 3 patterns that I love, I’ll buy the book. It’s rare, in fact, I don’t think I ever have actually read a whole knitting pattern book from cover to cover. I did with this one. All I wanted was to find a hat pattern to go with a scarf I’m making for David. I found a gem of a book with a wonderful story; Hat Heads: 1 Man + 2 Knitting Needles = 50 Fun Hat Designs by Trond Anfinnsen with photography by Klaus Nilsen Skrudland. Trond, aka KnitKid, taught himself how to knit and began to knit hats for friends and family in his town of Stavanger in Norway. Each hat pattern is accompanied by a paragraph describing the person and how the hat was designed just for them. The photo portraits of the hat wearers by Klaus Nilsen Skrudland are compelling and beautiful. I feel exactly as Trond does when he tells about the act of giving something you’ve made to someone. It is to be hoped that they will be surprised and pleased with the fact that you spent hours working on your gift and thinking about them.

I didn’t find the hat for David but this book inspires me to make my own hat patterns to match the personality of the wearer. It also got me thinking about other items I’m knitting for gifts, and making them even more personalized. A whole series of washcloths, with matching hand-milled soaps, or …the possibilities are endless! I actually did knit a washcloth for my friend Jimi and gave it to her as part of her birthday gift last night. It was soft green to match her bathroom and had the symbol for libra knitted on it. I wrapped a bar of green Oriental Tea soap in the cloth. She really liked it and it only took me a couple of hours to make. I found the free pattern on Ravelry.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Zen of the aesthetic knitting environment

I’m beginning to realize that creating a pleasing color-coordinated and uncluttered environment for my knitting time is almost as important to me as the act of knitting itself. I find myself clearing the kitchen table, my favorite knitting spot where I can interact with my husband and watch TV with him, of all newspapers and books. We have a collection of antique Hull pottery. I’ll select a piece of pottery that coordinates with the yarn I’m using and with the place mats on the table. The lovely pottery bowl, which matches the yarn I’m using, makes me happy and I can sit for hours stitching away. The vessel also serves to corral the ball of yarn and hold the work when I need to get up from the table. I’m happiest knitting in my kitchen, but I can knit almost anywhere. Except at work. I tried that during my lunch hour, and found that I will not be left alone to complete even one row without having to sign something or find something or show a new volunteer something. I wonder if this need to stage the environment is Martha Stewart Disease (I’m a fan, actually), a sort of tasteful OCD. I guess I’m okay as long as it doesn’t impair my ability to carry on a normal life. I would never have knitted my sister’s shawl with the blue place mats on the table. Are there any other knitters with this peculiar compulsion?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Found Objects as knitting needle holders

I was going through a seldom used closet for something (I no longer remember what the original search was for) when I found a lovely silk fabric case holding colored pencils, watercolors and small paintbrushes.  I took out the art supplies and put those in my art box thinking that the fabric case would be great to round up my dpns and circular needles, if not the long single needles. 

Wish I could remember what it was I was looking for in the first place.

The best dog ever

We're spending a quiet evening at home on this "Talk Like a Pirate Day".  I just finished knitting a dishcloth and started working on Dave's scarf, and am thinking about starting another dishcloth in alternate colors from the first, so it looks like bricks.  I got the pattern from the absolutely wonderful book, Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. 
Wayne just finished baking oatmeal cookies and used up a roll of parchment paper.  He takes the empty cardboard tube from the parchment and tries to get our cat, Knucklehead, to play with it.  We call the tubes "doo doo ta doos".  Okay, it's weird, but we used to have a dog that just loved those cardboard tubes.  We'd make the doo-doo-ta-doo sound in them, and she'd come running and be all crazy to play with it, taking it and running all over the house chewing on it until there were hundreds of tiny pieces of cardboard to vacuum up all over the place.  And it just hit me that I really really miss her.  So, in homage to the best dog ever (except for your dog, who was obviously the best), here's Jade:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David's scarf

Since David told me what he wanted and what color, the xmas gift will not be a surprise. So I can show the wavy scarf I’m making my much-loved stepson. The challenge has been to find a pattern for mittens to go with and maybe a hat if I have the knitting time before the holiday. I found the pattern for his scarf at Joanns. It’s free pattern number 90197AD, Wave Rib Scarf. I’m using US size 7 needles instead of 6, because I wanted it wider than the pattern called for, and lovely Berroco Vintage Wool yarn in color 5147 - Coriander. I think I found sort of what I want for mittens in Michael del Vecchio’s Knitting with Balls. On page 74, the Medallion Mitts would look nice in the green yarn, and the wavy cable would go with pretty well. I’d only change the finger ends so that the fabric doesn’t curl. A couple rounds of garter stitch should work. If I could figure out how to make covers for the fingers that could be sort of hinged to make regular mittens for finger warmth, or folded back to assist finger dexterity, they’d be perfect. Now, to find a hat. Any ideas?


Dave's scarf:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taking time to enjoy the garden

After rains yesterday and today, the garden looks renewed and there are new blooms.  It's nice to take a moment to stretch the knitting fingers and wrists while marveling at these beautiful flowers.  Here's what's blooming...

Lc. mini purple - Maikai, purchased at USF Botanical Gardens annual Orchid Show and Sale

Pot. Beaufort Gold 'Susan Fender' from Phelps Farm Orchids

The strange looking  bulb. marv ragan.  This one just keeps blooming and blooming and has a little hinged lip that teeters in the slightest breeze.

Lots of dendrobiums are blooming now as well as sherry babies and several vandas have bloom spikes.  I'll take pictures of those when they open.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Night Dancing with Matt

While my friends, Jimi and Leon are enjoying Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Ford Armpitheater in the pouring rain, I'm happily watching outtakes from my favorite happy dancer, Matt Harding, in the dry comfort of my home office. His outtakes are hilarious.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More yarn!

I ordered yarn from Pisgah Yarn and Dying Company on Saturday. A big box of Peaches & Creme in a bunch of wonderful colors arrived on Thursday. I am now rich with cotton yarns with which to make all kinds of nifty gifts for the holidays. I have run out of room in the armoire. Time to start stashing yarn in drawers, and bowls and linen closets. Pisgah has great prices and the shipping is terrific. Since Monday was a holiday, I didn't expect them to ship until Tuesday, but I had an email Sunday morning telling me to expect shipment on Thursday. And lo...

Monday, September 7, 2009

About the orchids

I started this blog during my relearning how to knit adventure. I named it for a few of my favorite things. The orchids pictured are in our garden. We are fortunate to live in central Florida where most of them thrive with little attention. In fact, one can kill them with kindness, we've discovered, having murdered several innocent orchid plants early on. Six years ago, I was given my first orchid by friend and library patron, Carl Barth. It was a division of a dancing lady oncidium. Dear hubby and I now have well over 100 of them and recently built a table, with a screened bottom for air circulation. They are under an old oak tree and are pampered by a fan during the heat of the day. Pics of first orchid, now huge, and the table we built are below. More about the Dragon thing at another time.

She likes it

Liz called to tell me she got the shawl and really likes it. Maybe she was kidding, but she said she had some trouble getting it away from her husband, Nick, who I can picture as being totally smashing in this lacy shawl. Please send me a picture of that, Liz!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Do a happy dance

It's Saturday night and it's thundering and it's going to rain very soon and it's a long weekend and it's my neighbor Joe's birthday, so let's all do a happy dance...

...and knit some socks!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Learning to knit socks

When I was about 10 years old, my Aunt Irene taught me how to knit. I remember a really ugly scratchy olive green yarn and a hideous unfinished sweater. I didn't knit again until I was in my twenties, and then strayed quickly into crochet because it was faster and easier. Now I am considerably older, and have discovered the zen of knitting, with the exception of socks. Last night, I decided to start knitting socks. I started 3 times. I frogged three times. I'm using fingering weight superwash wool and #1 dpns. With a toe up pattern, I made it to the point (or lots of pointy points) of joining the stitches. I ended up putting the needles and yarn in yet another canvas bag and into the cedar armoire, taking out my trusty cotton yarn and an unfinished xmas gift. Christmas is less than 4 months away, after all, and I'd better get busy on all of those easy (description deleted to preserve the surprise).

The socks will come as socks tend to do.