Thursday, March 31, 2011

Almost Spring

My cold has turned into a minor sinus infection (yes, I am tired of being sick) but I had to get out of the house. Yesterday evening, just before sunset Oscar and I went for one of our jaunts. It was very cold, but on our way out of the house we spotted some squill and crocus beginning to bud, so that lifted our mood (no photos, the light was off). I did take some photos of our outing, though. (Oscar of course took the photo of me).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Muddling Through

I have a cold again, but I was well for the crucial time of Faye's memorial, so I am grateful it held off. Actually, timing wise it came either from contact there or a visit to Amanda and Sean, but more likely from one of the 400 (yes four hundred!) people who came to show their love of Faye.
     I am making progress on my modular triangle shawl. I have the first section written out well and will be playing around with scrap yarn to decide how best to do the optional 'join-as-you-go' section. I will also describe the option of making strips and seaming them together for people who prefer that method. I am toying with the idea of adding a stitch pattern to the front parts as they are less complex than the back right now. That or making more triangles.
     Oscar has a new work schedule, but it is better for him than the old one. He still has 3 days off per week but they are divided so that he only works 3 days in a row. He prefers working only 2 days in a row but so far he likes this, too.
     Now that my sleep patterns are normalizing I have more clarity of mind and am able to do some reviewing again. My backlog is such that I am greatly reducing book requests to only those authors I have reviewed before, while I catch up. Last night was one of only two nights since mid February that I slept more than 5 hours. I had lots of nights in there with 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I don't function well with less than 7 hours, usually.  Naps are insidious and while I am trying to get back to normal I need to avoid them so I don't risk that night's sleep. I think it was grief, but I am doing better now.
     In other knitting, since getting a bit more sleep I am having lots of ideas and am making progress on some patterns that won't be released until autumn this year. I have lots of knitting and crocheting ahead, which can only be a good thing. The stranded KAL is going well, the first week has been fun watching some first-timers discover they can DO this.
     Oscar spent some time last week helping me get my work space more organized, which has also contributed greatly to my ability to focus and stay on task, both writing and designing.
We are both ready for Spring.
(Image is of my Stellaria Shawl, modeled by Amanda)


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Otterwise Mystery Stranded KAL

Today marks the start of a new adventure. I am having a Mystery Stranded Knit-a-long via my forum on Ravelry, Otterphiles. It will include a mini-tutorial for those who have not worked with stranded knitting techniques before, but it assumes you already know how to knit in the round.
Directions will be provided for both a pair of fingerless mitts, and a hat.
It will be a pattern released one part each week until you have worked the entire pattern.
This first week's pdf is about tips, tricks and techniques, as well as working a gauge swatch (I have provided directions for either a standard swatch, or a small cuff you can make for the purpose.)
If you are interested in joining, please email me at ottergal AT comcast DOT net. Signs up are open all week, and the second pdf will be sent out a week from today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Rainbow Hat for Lynx

Yesterday I decided to engage in Fiber Therapy and adapted a free crocheted beret pattern to make a gift for my friend Lynx who has had a tough winter.
Oscar took photos today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


There has been much sadness for me this week. Most personally, we lost Faye. Despite my sense that it was a peaceful release for her I mourn her loss and it brings back the sadness of losing two of her daughters, my heart sisters. Her memorial will be on Sunday and if at all possible health-wise I will be there.

Japan has also been a source of sorrow, I know I am not alone in that. Part of the deep affect it is having on me is that I lived there for two and a half years, and knew many people through my job as a teacher. Their faces are before me now when I close my eyes, and I hope desperately that they are well.

Somehow these sorrows have become entwined.I know the sharpness of grief will pass, but for now I am in mourning.I hope as it eases I can discover a way to help. I can attest to the benefit of the Japanese Red Cross, and hope to somehow provide donations there. (They came to my aid when my house in Japan was destroyed via arson, but that is another story).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Power of Knitting

Kandahar's Combat Knitters use yarn and needles as weapons of self-preservation

MAKING HER WAY: Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Almy, a physician in the Navy, formed the Combat Knitters at a NATO hospital.
MAKING HER WAY: Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Almy, a physician in the Navy, formed the Combat Knitters at a NATO hospital. (Courtesy Of Jennifer Almy Photo Illustration By Allison Ghaman/the Washington Post; Original Photos From Istockphoto)

By Dan Zak
Thursday, March 10, 2011
In the highlands of Peru, sheep are shorn. Their fleece is milled, spun into yarn and exported to a Seattle distributor, which ships the yarn across the continent to a knitting shop on North Fayette Street in Alexandria, where it is purchased in 220-yard skeins by a Navy captain's wife and her fellow knitters of Northern Virginia, who box the skeins into care packages and mail them 10 time zones away to a NATO hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Attn: Combat Knitters.



Friday, March 11, 2011


Angus the Attic Monster (from the Big book of Knitted Monsters again) is done. Next up, Lurleen (just one foot and her face to go and she'll also be ready for a photo shoot.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Fabric Strips to Rag Rug, Combination of Fabric and Knitting

I read a blog named The Pea Pink Rose Garden, or a ervilha cor de rosa  in the author's native Portuguese.
Her March 4th post is very cool. (link is to an English translated page). She showed photos in enough detail to teach the making of a rag rug using strips of fabric and knitting. (Please note the technique used for knitting is the type where the yarn is held around the back of the neck. To emulate, simply add the strips when working the purl side of the fabric in whatever technique of knitting (Continental, English, Combination etc) you prefer.
The knitted rag rugs I am familiar with consist of making strips of fabric then sewing them together to create a fabric yarn, which is then knitted with standard techniques. These rag rugs are very different. The strips are cut into equal lengths and perhaps half inch wide widths (the text says 3 cm) (I'm guessing the fabric is torn to separate the widths). then as you knit along, from the back of the work you wrap a strip of fabric around the yarn in a similar way you would snug a bead up close to the work, then you continue knitting until it feels like the right time to add another strip. It gives a very cool shaggy appearance to the created fabric.

From the english translation and the photos provided, it appears you knit some stitches to get in from the edge, then place a strip of fabric between the needles so that it lies on the knitted work from front to back. Take the next (purled) stitch as usual which traps the fabric strip. Then take the back part of the fabric strip and flip it forward between the needles and take another purl stitch to secure it.
I encourage you to visit Rosa's blog yourself, the photos very clearly show the steps involved.
(Photo above was taken from a Postcard published by the Association of Ethnographic Montemuro, which Rosa shared via Flickr)

Friday, March 04, 2011


Thanks to Leslie, I now know I am not the only one beguiled by Rebecca Danger's monsters.


Link to the free pattern

And I am about 25% done with monster number three (Angus)... and I was able to submit three reviews today. I think the monsters are actually HELPING me stay on task. :-}
And I have had tons of ideas for making my own monster patterns. I want to sit down with my sketchbook one afternoon this week and start creating the basics for finishing later this summer.
Image is of the Monsters created by Rebecca Danger for the pattern linked above. I did not knit them... but I plan to knit several of my own

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Monster number Two

I finished my version of Baldwin (the 2nd monster in Rebecca Danger's book). I had loads of fun making his face. I am already working on monster #3, Angus.
There are worse things than being addicted to knitting monsters LOL.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Monster Power

I am busily writing reviews, preparing a brief tutorial (with links to information and photos on the web) for the stranded mystery Knit A-Long I will be running later this month, and working on a new modular triangle shawl pattern. But I keep being distracted by "The Big Book of Knitted Monsters" by Rebecca Danger. As a reward for writing four book reviews on Monday, I decided to knit the first monster in the book, Harold. (photo above).
As soon as I had added his face (felt secured with super strong fabric glue) I immediately was impelled to cast on for monster number two, Baldwin. I am making myself stop and work between sessions of knitting Baldwin, and using the 'treat' of knitting such a fun guy to keep me motivated and on task.
I intend to knit most if not all of the monsters in the book, as it is incredibly relaxing to not have to worry about perfection. I am using the tag ends of various yarns I have gathered over the past several years, which has a twofold purpose; one, it us a good use of the scraps and two, being able to look at the yarns in monster form remind me of the patterns and projects I have created. For example one of the main yarns in Baldwin was used for the first Espalier sample I made.
Knitting the monsters is fun, but it is inspiring me to begin designing my own later this summer. Summer is a wonderful time to knit such small objects as monsters, socks, mittens and hats without the draping of the project on my lap. I just have a few design projects to get through, first. Who knows? I may end up with a Monster Book of my very own!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Another Fabulous Resource

No doubt many of you know about the Library of Congress. Over the past while, they have expanded their service to include fully online accessible photos, sound recordings,  maps, movies, manuscripts and historical information of all sorts.

I am partial to the photos, myself, as I can search for whatever term catches my whimsy and find so much visual information. I am also very glad of the sound recordings and the films of performances. Really, I find everything they have shared fascinating. I have longed to visit D.C. to see the Smithsonian museums and places like the L.O.C. but that is a difficult proposition.

Because of the internet, though, I can have the next best thing. As a writer, it is a rich resource for research. Just as a curious sort of person, it is also a way to keep learning something new anytime I feel the urge.
My life is fairly small these days, I leave the house about once a week and have very few local friends to spend time with. I do have many online friends, but despite the pleasure that brings me, it really isn't the same. I have some good news in that area, though. Oscar's work schedule is changing, and he will have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. As it happens, those are two nights when there are local knitting groups meeting. So, when he is able to provide transport, I will be able to interact with more people sharing common interests.

Still, I am very greatful to live in this time period, when I can access part of the world online. Without it, I would not be able to sell my patterns, or have so many interesting friends within reach of my keyboard.
(the image above is from the Lamb Studios archive, drawings made for designing stained glass)