knitting archaeology

August 3, 2012

we all have skeletons in our closets.
as dude who grew up with pack rats,
mine is perpetually at capacity.

my recent retirement at my parents house*
allowed me to wade through and eliminate some of the actual crap
that my room has accumulated over the past twenty-seven years.
in the depths of my closet i discovered, among other things**,
a horrifying treasure from my knitting past.

that’s right.

i found my first knitting/yarn.
i thought it long lost, cast off and out of my life.
i should’ve*** known this yarn would haunt me for all of my days.

if you dig around my blog somewhere at the beginning,
you can find the story of how i first learned to knit.
i won’t reiterate that (awesome) story, now.
iet’s just say it was two in the morning,
i had a limited selection from which to choose,
and i like green.

because i love you, blog, so very much, and maybe because no amount of sin can ever wash the catholic completely from my blood, i feel compelled to confess my most grievous of knitterly sins to you. i just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for buying this yarn.
t’was ignorance, the folly of youth.

however, i refuse to post a photo of that yarn on this blog.
that shame would be too great to endure.
i’ll link you to it;
follow at your own risk!
post continues after the jump. nsfw!


i think i'll be ok now.
i needed to get that off my chest.

seriously, though, i was totally happy to unearth this yarn.
how many people have the first thing they've ever knit?
(don't burst my bubble and tell me it's a totally common occurrence)
and while the idea of finishing the project is beyond appalling,
i'm happy to keep this fun fur on their size 10½ boyes
rather than quietly disposing of the evidence.

just know that my time on the dark side was short lived,
and i quickly purchased some much better yarn.
(angry cat mug from danmade. totally ripping off cauchy’s style)

that’s right.
i found my second piece of knitting/yarn, too!
the seed of a stash that never grew.

there’s no ball band for this yarn,
but the receipt says its an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend.
(talk about going from yarn zero to sixty, right?)
though, the astute observer can still tell this is the work of newbie.
notice the yarn is still in a hank and i’m knitting directly from the skein!

i can’t tell you the number of times i’ve warned new knitters never to do this unless they want tangles and heartbreak,
and yet, somehow, it worked out for me.
i guess when you don’t know any better,
you just go for it.

go figure.

shortly after knitting that patch of garter,
i stopped knitting.

there were a lot of reasons, really;
the yarn was wicked pricey, and i thought if this is what real yarn cost, i was in trouble (i didnt realize of course, there was a range of yarns from which to choose) more than that, i didn’t have a positive experience with the store from which i bought it.

but if i’m honest, all of that didn’t matter.

it was the purl stitch.

this was back before you could google anything and learn how to do it from watching a video online. (i think it’s important to remember such times) i don’t know how i was learning to purl, but it wasn’t working. years later i would realize the crucial information that was missing was to move the yarn forward.

constantly doubling one’s stitch count
whilst knitting green fun fur
would make anyone quit.

i’m just glad it was only a temporary condition.

à demain, mes amis!

*i always write ‘home’ and mean ‘my parents house’, but it confuses people. i makes me sad to have to make a distinction.

**like my louis vuitton shoes, bitches!! i miss the old economy. *sigh*

***for all you fellow grammar nazis, i’ve noticed a trend among my students. they write could’ve/should’ve etc. thusly: could of. i remember one student being shocked when i corrected them. makes me want to die.

on my table

June 21, 2012

in case any of you worried about my week-long silence,

fear not!

i was fulfilling the familial duty required of all sons:
i helped clean out the garage.

now while for most people,
that would be a job for one person
and could be completed in half a day,
our garage is larger than most apartments.
it’s really more of a huge barn where the cars live
(it has a second floor)

my mother and i spent a few days
and tossing aside with reckless abandon a couple decades worth of all things found in a country garage. a dumpster that could house an elephant was our ally.

a weekend of generally manliness,
where my y chromosome shone with pride,
left little time to blog about my life of fiber.

this evening,
i’ll catch you up.
let’s see what’s on my table, shall we?

first, a f.o.
yarn – socks that rock medium weight
colorway – rare gem dyed by yours truly

this cowl has been done for ages but honestly, i’ve felt a little ambivalent about sharing it. this is my first go at a design (sort of). i learned a whole lot while i knit it, but it didn’t come out as i envisioned it. some things exceeded my expectations, others,
i couldn’t get to do what i wanted.

with a few tweaks,
i can imagine it being something i could be proud of.
time will tell.

next, another f.o.
yarn – luscious silk
colorway – copperline

now this, i’m proud of!
it’s a simply-woven scarf, true,
but there’s something beautiful about perfecting simplicity.
think about how long it took you to master your knitting gauge
and how lovely a flawlessly executed stockinette sweater is!
that’s what this scarf is about to me. (check out that sexy fringe)

i was really worried about the evenness of this scarf.
i’ve never woven with silk before
and it was difficult to manage;
it lacks wool’s forgiving nature.
it was especially difficult to maintain the selvages.
but for once in my fibery existence,
that shit blocked right out!

just in time to give it to its intended recipient.

and look!
i still have a whole other skein!
note that this is an older skein of luscious silk, over 300 yards.
newer ones only have 218 yards

this weekend,
i’m headed to the knot hysteria gourmet retreat (jealous?)
whenever i go to a fiber event,
i check my stock of business cards.
i use them to promote the blog (bien sur)
and make it easy for people to friend me on ravelry.
since i was running low,
i placed an order.
i may have over done it.
i don’t remember ordering this many.
i bet it was after midnight.
(the box is full too)

as you can see,
the loom is re-warped.
(the color in that photo is so off as to be laughable)
this is supposed to be a gift for this weekend.
i haven’t started weaving or anything,
but i can finish,

so i’m a little out of touch with reality. big whoop.
i mean, it’s not like i think i can finish this sweater.
but i am going to try to pull it off for rhinebeck.
let’s check the facts:
yarn weight – sport
needle size – u.s. 2 & 4
size – fuck that shit!
like i’m telling you my size.
let’s just say,
it’ll be dude-sized.

this will be an extreme test of my knitterly endurance.
but hey, it’s rhinebeck.

and it’s not like i’m the only delusional knitting blogger around.

sock progress as of last night:

sock progress as of this afternoon:

my instructions say to begin the toe decreases 2.25″ shy of the total sock length. when i measured my sock i had about 6.25″ of sock. when i just about finished my toe decreases,
i’d knitting about 2 more inches,
bring my sock length to
7.5″ total.

now, i’m no math major
but i’m pretty sure 6.25″ + 2.0″ ≠ 7.5″.
therefore, i have come to the only reasonable conclusion;
i am apparently incapable of correctly measuring the length of a sock.
even though these socks are for someone with small lady feet,
i’m pretty sure they don’t have some kind of baby foot;
an inch of negative ease is a bit much
when we’re talking foot length.
7.5″ ain’t gonna cut it.
(that’s what she said!)

last night’s knitting may have been for naught,
but i’ll finish this bitch by tonight.

in life news,
i took my french midterm today,
and it was wicked hard mes amis.
i had to translate a bunch of things
including a passage about mythical creatures in ireland.

to add to that weirdness,
i had the following encounter:

[setting: msu international center courtyard. steven is leaving the atm heading back to the lot where his car is parked]

“hello. how’re you today” says a man in a thick middle eastern accent. unsure that he was addressing me, i turned to see a slight man smiling. apparently, i was being addressed. this is perhaps odd, but not totally outside realm of possibility. we have a large international student population and most of them stay for the summer since it is very expensive to return home. i figured he was just practicing his english or found it amusing to disconcert a stranger by addressing him. soon, however, i realized he was matching my pace.
“i can make friends?” he says.
“excuse me?” i say, confused by the question.
“i can make friends” he repeats more confidently, extending his hand.
while this continued contact enhanced the oddness of this encounter, i was raised to be polite to people. i suppressed initial thought of who is this creepster?! and took his hand, shook it as best one can a limp clammy fish of a hand, and said “sure”. after all, why can’t we all be friends, right?
“what is your name?” he asks.
again, i tell myself he must have just left his esl summer class and is trying to practice his english.
“steven” i say, smiling paternally.
apparently, this is an unusual name to arabic ears since he had a hard time getting his mind and mouth around the phonetics of it. he would ask me that question at least four more times.
“i am __________” he says.
“i’m from saudi arabia. you know where that is?”
i respond affirmatively, trying to hide my annoyance with such a ridiculous question. like i don’t know where saudi arabia is! he continues in this vein, asking if i study here, informing me that he does too and now i’m catching on.
he is practicing his english, i think
since this stuff is foreign language 101.
university-themed vocab.
that kind of thing.
i proceed with the pleasantries, answering politely if succinctly in hopes of signally my desire to end this linguistic exchange
when things take a turn:

“i like your body. you have time now?”

now, this isn’t my first time at the rodeo; i’ve been around the block and i’ve had men step to me in a variety of ways. but never have i had a stranger from a foreign land inform me in broad daylight in the middle of campus with people all around that he likes my body and inquire if i “had time now.” i kindly thanked him and informed him that i did not, in fact, “have time now” and continued to walk hoping that would end things. undaunted, he followed me saying,
“no worries. another time. i have car. we can go somewhere.”

i don’t know what kind of pheromone i was putting off that made this man think that i’m the sort of guy who gets into the cars of foreign (or domestic) business majors simply because they ask.

i mean, maybe if he were a saudi prince. . . .

but i digress.
the rest is a bit of blur.
suffice it to say i walked off
unharmed, if totally weirded out.

when i was sure i was out of his line of sight,
i remember pausing, looking back, and thinking:


June 9, 2012

i have a f.o. to show you,
and another one is soon to follow.
tonight, however, none of that matters.
all that matters is this yarn.
this is this month’s sock club. the color is called ‘wavelength’

i shy away from this level of variegation,
(though part of why i enjoy being in sock club
is challenging myself to experience color differently)
but i think that’s because i never look at a skein like this:
why do i never open the skeins to look at them?
it changes everything!

looking at the skein thusly
it was if it spoke to me:
“you must knit socks”

i never want to knit socks. ever.
i find them to be fiddly and tedious
and if i’m going to knit that many stitches,
i want a sweater out of it.

every now and then
i do get the urge to knit socks
but i’m easily able to fight it off
because i can never find a pattern i like.
most of the time, i think sock patterns are really tacky.
sorry sock knitters. it’s just how i feel.

so there really was no harm in winding the skein.
in fact,
i found it less tempting as a cake.
i knew that i needed to make something with this
but luckily, in wound form, it couldn’t tempt me to make socks.

little did i know,
this skein is a clever little fucker.
it combined forces with this pattern
and the only thing i could think was
i must.

a few episodes of deadliest catch and boom!
a sock is born.

nothing else seems to matter.
i must make these socks.
i’m obsessed.

is this how you sock knitters feel all the time?

copper lines

June 2, 2012

(this was my attempt to take a weaving photo à la the daily purl)

i say it all the time:
almost everything i make is for someone else.
i’ve made a few things for someone in particular,
but the last couple knits didn’t seem to impress.
it wasn’t that s/he didn’t like them
or didn’t appreciate them.
they just didn’t wow,
which is,
of course,
the goal;
i want the person to love what i’ve made.
so i’m thinking perhaps weaving is the way to go,
just a plain scarf in one of his/her favorite colors.
i even have some luscious silk in my stash that will work nicely.
it’s going to be fucking gorgeous, regardless.

hey weavers:
any tips for weaving silk?
i’ve only woven with wool before
which i know is a much more forgiving fiber.

speaking of making things for people i like,
i cast this little buddy on the other day:
this is going to be for debra m.
we’ve only met a couple of times
but she’s always been so kind to me,
especially at times when i felt a little vulnerable.
frankly, if you met debra and didn’t like her,
i’d question whether or not you were human.

so when she expressed interest in this particular rare gem,
i decided immediately that i would knit something for her.
unfortunately, nothing i found the ravelry machine was right.
(god bless ravelry, but it does fail us now and then)

frustrated, i decided i would take this opportunity to try to design something. i’ve had exactly two design ideas in my entire life and, as we all know, nancy bush stole my other one. this cowl isn’t going exactly as planned, but i still think i like it. if the next part goes well, i’ll be home free. maybe i’ll even publish the pattern.



May 28, 2012

almost three years ago,
when i was but a novice knitter,
i cast on my very first lace project.

inexperience kept me from finishing;
i didn’t have the fortitude for the epic rounds.
i didn’t have the knowledge to correct mistakes in complicated lace,
nor did i have the skill to catch mistakes before they needed fixing.
basically, i just didn’t know enough about lace
to tackle this level of project.

my yarn choice should be evidence enough of my ignorance.

i feel it’s time to wrap this bitch up.
i can no longer allow this project to go unknit.
and i finally, finally am on the lace edging!of course, this edging is completely counterintuitive,
by which i mean,
it goes against all my previous lace edging experience.
ignoring the fact that the pattern tells you you’ll need to fudge the end,
a fact i find beyond infuriating
the fucking thing goes backwards!

every single lace edging i’ve ever knit moves counterclockwise;
this means you knit your row with the last stitch of the edging knit together with a stitch from the shawl. in this edging, you move clockwise which requires you to slip a stitch from the shawl from the right hand needle to the left, then you knit it together with the first stitch of the edging, and then complete that row of the edging.

this is perhaps a confusing unhelpful explanation,
and i don’t have the inclination to make a video.
suffice it to say it’s a stupid way to attach a lace edging;
it just. doesn’t. flow.

which is probably why i’m eyeing these bad boys.where the fuck’s my nøstepinde?!

p.s. stay tuned for a weaving f.o.

and sloe gin fizz

May 26, 2012

my original goal was to blog every day
while i was in the greater portland area.

i also promise myself i’m going to eat better and exercise.

let’s get real for a moment,
and see if i can tell you about my trip.

hmm . . .

day one was a beach adventure/excursion/extravaganza,
a sunny day of photography, sandy toes, and general irreverence.
and of course what day at the beach is complete
without a dead sea lion in a front loader?(sea corpse has a very distinct scent)

i spent the day with tina and her two lovely daughters
who reminded me that teenagers are really just adults
with fewer miles under their belt.
(is that a mixed metaphor?)

when we returned,
i met tina’s other children:
apparently, chickens love to eat kale.
who knew?

the rest of my days were a blur of
cozy fires
and knitting.

i managed to finish up my spruce forest shawl,
and the rain gave way just long enough for a photoshoot.
i even found a couple models to zhoosh up the shot.
the yarn is marine silk sport in the ‘spruced’ color way.
i’ve given up trying to photograph the true color of this yarn;
the silk content and sea cell make it impossible for an amateur like me.
what i love about this color way is that the dye breaks at some point in the process, leaving patches of blue and yellow in the yarn. this process is apparently unpredictable, and therefore the color way has been discontinued. blue moon will, of course, make it upon request. i highly recommend it, especially in this yarn. just make sure to get it all at once if you want your skeins to be at all similar.

this shawl is beautiful when finished,
but the beauty is matched by it’s fussiness.
i do not care for nupp-knitting,
or the bottom up construction.
it was, however, worth it;
the results speak for themselves.

with one shawl completed,
i decided to dust off my shetland tea shawl.
it was the first lace project i ever cast on
and will soon celebrate its third birthday!
i can’t abide its w.i.p. status any longer.
so i grabbed a cat and got to work.
the cat was really there for moral support.
she’s not good for much else.

but even with the support of a cat
i could barely complete a round a day.
those last few rounds have so. many. stitches!

knitting all those stitches
i became hyper aware of the silence,
the sound of the rain falling on the deck,
heck, i could even hear the humming birds at the bird feeder!
apparently, i must’ve had a crazed look in my eye or something
because tina could tell i was getting a little stir crazy.
so she put me to work in the barn.

i learned a heck of a lot in there,
most of which i can’t tell you.
what i can tell you is
it’s fucking hard work.
i can almost guarantee none of you realize how much work actually goes into the whole process, unless maybe you’ve worked in a factory. i worked about a half shift and i was pooped.
it’s basically a yarny sweatshop in there.
(literally. it’s hot in the barn)

that little bit of work really helped me to appreciate just how special hand painted yarns are. we’re lucky to knit in a time when we have easy access to such beautiful yarns. i would much rather give my money to people who are working their asses off to make something unique and special. i know exactly where my money’s going and, to me, it’s worth the cost. but that’s just me.

the next day
i got to play instead of work
and dyed all these rare gems.
it pays to know the lady with a barn.

we ended my visit with a binge at gino’s.
if you live in or around portland,
you must go to gino’s
the tiramisu alone is worth it.
we chose gino’s because deb accuardi owns it and also works at blue moon.
she’s an amazing cook, knows a heck of a lot about gardening,
and had been cracking my ass up all week.
if you meet her,
ask her about her salamander story.
i almost peed in the car when she told it.
(i want that tiramisu recipe deb. stat!)

i think that just about covers it.

i survived an epically turbulent flight,
swung by my parents house to pick up mr. mo,
and am thoroughly ensconced in my apartment . . .

. . .asking myself why i don’t live in portland.

hospital knitting

May 16, 2012

this is the only knitting in the waiting room

20120516-123657.jpg(i think i need a bigger project bag)

mdsw ’12

May 6, 2012

as you all well know,
academia has limited my knitting time.
the cruelest iteration of this limitation
is that the weekend of maryland sheep and wool
falls during the final push of the end of my semester.
so while all of you, my yarny friends,
frolic in with sheep, yarn, and bearded men in utilikilts,
i’m still here in my office trying to finish two papers
and my hot pants remain sadly folded in a drawer.


it’s good to know as much as i miss mdsw
my absence has not gone unnoticed.
i received this blurry image via text message.
the text reads, “a beard in a kilt for you!”
and while it came from an number i don’t recognize,
and therefore it’s possible some knitter stalker has gotten ahold my number, the gesture was just the shot in the arm i needed to wrap this shit up so i can knit again.
speaking of,
gotta get back to it.

p.s. stay tuned for what i hope will be a summer of knitterly overcompensation for the yarny dearth of the past 9 months.

for some reason i can’t sleep.
and since i can’t bring myself to do ‘real’ work,
i thought it’s high time i attended to my beloved blog.

since i’ve done such a good job deferring my knitting writing,
shall we begin this post with photos of cute animals?
(photos courtesy of sally of rivendale farms. thanks sal!)

that’s steven jr. and his mother lucy.
as you can see,
he’s growing up quite well.
though still a mama’s boy, apparently.
i know nothing of alpaca maturation or culture
but shouldn’t he be smoking behind alpaca high by now?
you can’t have much fun snuggled up to mommy.
just sayin’.

in yarn news,
march sock club came!the color way is ‘budding twig’ in socks that rock medium weight.i had my reservations about this skein.
first, i never choose such highly variegated yarn.
second, i never choose colors this bright and perky.
third, pink is my nemesis.

but i believe i’ve come to trust tina’s judgement
at least when it comes to color.
so i decided to challenge myself
and cast something on.

in my first two attempts,
i tried to avoid pooling, flashing, puddling,
or any other word for ‘color accumulating in fabric’ that i despise.
both times a failed but learned some things:
garter stitch in the round with sock yarn held double is hideous.
holding two strands of sock yarn for a 2×2 rib is gorgeous!
but is quickly ruined when one transitions into stockinette stitch.

finally i said fuck it,
and decided to let the yarn do it’s thing.
mindless knitting is all i can handle at this point.
and so i began a largish cowl.
mostly stockinette stitch
with enough purl rows thrown in for interest
and to keep the sucker from becoming a big fat neck doughnut.

of course, the colors began pooling
but in a cool, interesting way.
every row stacked up such that
i became mesmerized.
i was in love.
and not only did i love it, i got it.
i understood how the colors went together.

tina is a color witch.

do not cross her.

but just like how god punishes you for not praying, (grew up catholic)
the knitting goddess punished you for lack of knitting.
soon the yarn started pooling differently
and not in a good way.
and! not only did my purl row placement do nothing to curtail curling
they made the cowl look fucking ugly.

thus no photos.

and so, i’ll start over again soon
(when i regain my inner strength)
however! i have one final plan
to avoid the pain of unwanted pooling.
as far as i know, the only antidote for pooling
is heavy texture.
am i right?
will some seed/moss/broken rib do the trick?

finally, a f.o.
one that’s been done for a while now.
i just haven’t had time to clean a surface off
i just had to be home when the sun was up to take a photo.
yarn – blue moon fiber arts twisted in ‘grawk’ color way

this project didn’t go exactly as planned either,
but i am in love with the finished product.
it’s about 9′ long (i swear it grew when it hit water).
i was going for 7′ and thicker,
but i wouldn’t change it for world.
bundled it about my neck, it looks perfect.

however, my mojo was totally on when it came to casting offthat, my friends,
is about one yard of yarn.
one. fucking. yard!
go me.

i just have one final decision to make:
do i leave the scarf as is, saving it for christmastime
OR do i seam together with that last yard to make an infinity scarf.

cons: me no like seaming
my slipped stitch edge would be for naught
i won’t have that yard as an impressive reminder of major mojo.
pros: it’s a reversible process
potential for enhanced über coolness.

admonishments for lack of writing?
go on.
i can take it.


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