Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Do You Knit?

So I was trying to break my record for longest afternoon nap when I was rudely awakened by my cell phone. (Piece of advice.. never take your cell phone to your room for a nap.) On the phone was my 10 year old who had been locked out of the house as a joke by my 15 year old. Not funny.

I grabbed a Diet Pepsi, growled at my 15 year old, and plopped down on the couch. Now my allergies have been incredibly vicious and the smoke isn't helping, but on a whim I took my temperature and, although my well documented lack of confidence in ear thermometers leaves me uncertain, it appears I have a fever. No wonder it felt more like the flu than allergies.

Anyhoo... I want to knit... but am not sure what to work on. I wish I was one of those people who could just contentedly work on one project at a time enjoying each stitch to the fullest. But I'm not. I am, instead, one of those people who is always thinking about what is next and never quite content with what is on the needles once I've eyed that next must-knit project.

As with most things in my life, I also go through phases. I can go months at a time knitting only socks. They really are the ideal project because they are small, portable, full of variety, and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Not only that they are the most practical and well-worn of all my knits. However, there are times when I feel like a sock is just a sock and my labor should produce something of more significance.

So I usually have a sweater going too. There are just so many irresistible patterns available that I have to really refrain from tackling them all. The sweater provides a much more visible display of my efforts... if it gets worn... which they rarely do in our So Cal weather.

Now I've really grown to love lace... especially the triangular shawl. I love every part of the process... matching the perfect yarn with the perfect pattern, the countdown of repeats and variety of charts, and especially the final blocking which completes the metamorphosis of the blob of string into beautiful shawl. But honestly, these are not worn enough to be considered anything more than artwork... and if I didn't knitting them so much, I wouldn't knit them at all.

To be fair, I also like scarves and lacy rectangular wraps, but the three unfinished rectangular lace shawls that currently take up space in my yarn basket inspire little in the way of optimism that I will every actually finish anything rectangular that requires more than 400 yards of yarn. But I'd really like to finish at least one of them.

So it leaves me to sit here and wonder... what should I knit. Which begs the question, "Why do I knit?" Certainly not out of necessity... nor practicality (wool socks in So Cal? Uh-uh.) Sometimes it's fascination with the construction of a certain pattern... or love of a particular yarn. Socks certainly provide the best opportunity/excuse for relatively inexpensive yarn fixes. And every once in a while, there's an item that I just must have... an item that, in my mind, I'll love and wear forever such as my recent Perfect Summer Cardigan or hopefully my current Perfect Fall Cardigan project. The turquoise Aspen Leaves Scarf (long rectangular wrap category) also falls into this category so I'm determined to work my way through this even if it's just a few repeats a week over the next year. But ugh! What should I work on now? And why does it feel like an obligation sometimes instead of leisure? And most importantly, with all this knitting, when will I get a chance to learn to crochet?

So... I ask you. Why do you knit? For practical purposes... entertainment... a creative outlet? Do you wear what you knit? And if you knit lace... what do you do with it all? Is knitting just for the beauty of it justifiable? For some reason that last question is important to me. We'll just blame it on the fever (even though it's always on my mind).

Please tell me "Why?"

Hand Maiden Swiss Mountain Super Sock

Oh, and then... please give me a pattern idea for this incredible Hand Maiden Swiss Super Sock in "Blooming Orchid" that I just got from The Loopy Ewe. I'm fascinated by the color combination of this merino/silk/sea cell blend and have no intention of using it for socks.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

FO: Kai-Mei Socks

I think this is the 4th pattern I've knit out of Cookie A's Sock Innovations... and I have no intention of putting the book aside yet.


Knit with Fiesta Baby Boom, these are the Kai-Mei socks which feature a gusset uniquely decreased across the top of the sock along the lace pattern.


These socks are going to a good friend of mine who has shown true appreciation for the hand knit sock by wearing the last pair I gave her with joy and consistency. In fact, she seemed to be wearing them every time I saw her for awhile... around the house, with her crocs, and at the park. I haven't seen them in a bit now so I'm guessing that they might have started to wear thin.

She told me recently that she felt bad that she hadn't cared for them better, but I was thrilled. They are SOCKS! As I think any sock knitter would agree, they are best loved when they are worn. So Keri gets another pair of socks to wiggle her toes in for a while.

I should also mention that she is probably one of the only people I know who even sort of understands my sock knitting... let alone would appreciate a gift of hand knit wool socks when it is a sweltering, smothering 100 degrees outside.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FO: Foliage Shawl

My current WIPs were all sidelined last week so I could knit a gift for a very special friend of the family.

Foliage Shawl

Foliage Shawl by MimKnits
Malabrigo Sock in Alcaucil on size 6 needles
I added one repeat to the body before beginning the knit-on border. This knit up very quickly, but I think the border took as long as the body. I'd never done this type of border before but found it rather enjoyable.

I was also please that the lacy pattern produced such a large shawl out of only 1 hank of yarn.

Now returning to my regularly scheduled knitting... and pouring over new patterns.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Always Thinking Ahead...

Yep, that's me! Although the fact that I must cook dinner still blind-sides me every day at 5:00 (and way too often involves a trip to the grocery store), I almost always have at least 1, 2 or 5 things lined up that I want to knit next... and have usually acquired the necessary yarn as well.

So, in spite of having 3 shawls, 2 pairs of socks and a cardigan on the needles (at least)... the construction of Ysolda Teague's Vine Yoke Cardigan in the fall Twist Collective is beckoning me and has planted itself firmly in my mind.

Buying yarn is a no-no right now cuz afterall "money doesn't grow on trees you know" as my parents always used to say and I now find myself repeating to my kids. But a quick survey of my stash turned up a sufficient amount of Dream in Color Classy in "Midnight Derby".

Dream in Color Classy

I had originally planned to use it for a Lady's February Sweater but just wasn't feeling the love. Now I know why... it was meant for something else.

I have to finish at least one other project first, so (assuming I don't lose interest or get otherwise distracted in the meanwhile) this will be next.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And the Knit goes on...

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Keri took me out for my birthday. It was wonderful. She picked me up and took me up the coast to a yarn shop and then out to a funky restaurant (with terrific margaritas) for lunch.


Keri is an amazing artist and a capable knitter although she doesn't knit a lot. While at the yarn shop we found a fabulous sample of this lace scarf knit with about 600 yds of a fingering weight Araucania mercerized cotton.

"Could I do this?" she asked.

"Of course!" I was quick to reply, "I'd love to do it too." I mean... what could be easier than knitting your first lace with slippery cotton, right? So as a gift, Keri purchased the pattern and yarn for both of us. I chose turquoise (to fill that turquoise bug of mine) and she chose a beautiful lime green. Both perfect for adding a jazzy touch to our wardrobe in our warm weather.

It took me about 5 minutes once I got started to realize what I had gotten her into. I called to apologize, but she was content to try and try again, and is now proceeding beautifully. I have no idea if either one of us will ever finish, but it is a pleasant pattern to work on. And so far, she's still speaking to me.

Aspen Leaf Scarf

Meanwhile, I stumbled upon Frankie, aka the Perfect Fall Cardigan, in Kim Hargreave's "Breeze".

Rowan Frankie

I found the book and yarn on sale in London and with the current exchange rate was able to get a great deal on the supplies with my birthday money. I usually resist miles of stockinette, but this one looked worth it.

Rowan Frankie

Time will tell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lazy Summer

I can't really say this summer has been a busy one... no big vacations... no rushing or chaos. No, I'd have to say it's been a pretty relaxing one. The kids have kept busy riding their bikes all over town except for JoJo who had something far more important to do.... learn to swim.

After spending July 4th floating in a jacuzzi with a life jacket...
Summer 2009

we coaxed him into some lessons. Last year he wanted nothing to do with the pool or the teacher, but this year he was ready and willing.

Swimming Lessons

And in no time at all....

Swimming Lessons
he was ready to fly! Well... at least swim. :)

The mega electronics store is always a fun trip with the kids.
Summer 2009

Okay guys, let's go....
Summer 2009
Come on now... let's go... pleeeeeeease!

And who doesn't love a good rib and cob sculpture.
Summer 2009
And yes, he ate that all and then some.

I've hardly seen my oldest. He seems to either be at football practice, working out, or sleeping. I must remember to get a picture of him.

I think the best discovery of our summer though has been Harry Potter. None of my children had ever been interested in reading the books until this summer. Although he could read them to himself, my 10 year old and I have been enjoying reading them together... and now my youngest has started listening in as well. This is the first time any of my boys have so thoroughly enjoyed a book and I am delighted.

Now, I need to turn my attention to stacks of dusty school books that need reorganizing for the new school year that's approaching, and get textbooks ordered for my teen's high school classes. Sigh... denial will only get me so far.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


It's hard when you have a large family with such a wide range in ages to find things you can do together that are age appropriate for all and not too expensive. As a result, we tend to do things in smaller groups. I'll take the younger boys to the movies... while the older boys tend to do the movies with their buddies now. Or maybe I'll take a couple of boys to an amusement park and leave the younger ones with friends. My husband takes a boy (or 2 or 3) on hunting trips occasionally and has been taking one along to the Irwindale Speedway to watch his buddy race every once in a while for the last couple of years.

Now he always invites me to come with him to the Nascar races, but there just always seems to be something else I need to be doing... like laundry... that holds me back. However, a couple of weeks ago was Family Night at the Speedway and kids 15 and under were free. So, failing to find an appropriate excuse and really wanting to do a family event, we all piled in the car and headed to the race track.

I was told that we needed to leave at 3:00 because the gates opened at 4:00. This would give us plenty of time to visit the pits and see the time trials before the races started at 7:00. Oh... boy...

As it turned out though... arriving early wasn't so bad.

(Just ignore the little shirt mishap.)

And all the kids had fun... from 6 to 17. They got to meet the drivers and get autographs (and candy). Then we watched four different races... trucks, funny cars...


faster cars (which my husband's friend was racing in)...


and, my favorite although I don't have a picture, the figure 8 track in which you watch cars almost crash while screaming "woooooo" a lot. Trust me... it was fun. Really.

I never knew I was a Nascar fan, but what's not to love about family, fast cars, knitting and a cold beer? Good times.