stash karma

November 8, 2010

so i drew a winner for my contest on friday,
and i know you’ll join me in congratulating miss. jen
who has selected this lovely skein of socks that rock.

mo approves.

to those of you who didn’t win, thanks for playing.
i hope you’ll still keep me on your blogrolls.

if there was a particular skein that you were hoping for,
drop me a line. we’ll work something out.

however,
stash just doesn’t seem to want to leave!
in fact, as one skein of blue moon leaves my house,
three more have arrived.

does this yarn look familiar?

it should.

it’s luscious silk in the “manly yes, but i like it too” colorway.
a few months ago, i knit a shawl out of this very yarn
for the lovely tina newton
so why the hell do i have three more skeins of it?

here’s the scoop:

even though we’re both pretty busy,
(tina obviously more than i)
every now and then,
she drops me a line.
or i drop her a line.
sometimes,
i drop her a stack of post-it notes.

in our most recent exchange,
it turns out that she lost the shawl.
she was sick about it, and wasn’t sure if she should tell me.

being a knitter, i immediately offered to reknit it.
i mean, she loved it so much. how could i let her feel bad?
i said my finger was poised above “purchase” button on the BMFA website, and i was ready to dig up the pattern.

she wouldn’t hear of it.
she insisted she give me the yarn.

of course her generosity floweth over
since there is no way i’ll need three skeins.
apparently, the only real way to get rid of stash is to knit it.
any idea what i should do with the third one?

the story doesn’t end there though.
after i got the yarn tina wrote:

“I traced my steps that day over and over and realized that it probably dropped off my shoulders when I headed this toddler off at the pass because her mum was too far behind and not gaining the speed her little girl was.

So I went back to the grocery store that this had happened at a couple of days ago and was about to ask after it when I saw that one of the cashiers had it on.

She was showing it to a customer and was obviously in love and well I couldn’t, I just couldn’t.
I thought you’d understand.

You do right?”

can you believe that?
tina is a bigger knitter than i!
i would’ve snatched that shawl off that cashier
faster than a pissed off queen snatching a wig off.

still,
my answer was obvious.
of course i understand!
tina let the cashier keep the shawl
for the same reason i immediately offered to reknit it.
we knit, at least in part, because we love when people love hand knits.
clearly, the knitting gods work in mysterious ways
and that cashier was meant to have shawl number one.

this time around i’m making sure to say all the right prayers,
lighting extra incense, candles, and such
to make sure this one stays on the intended shoulders.
maybe i’ll send a shawl pin to be safe.

oh yeah,
she also hired me to be a test knitter.
can you say, “yarn support”?
can you say, “paid to knit”?!
i’m a lucky lucky man.
stephen houghton of hizKNITS may be the first man on the (blue) moon,
but there were 17 apollo missions, bitches!

an open letter to tina newton

September 15, 2010

dear tina,

today i got my shipping notification,
and my yarn will be here soon.

i think i have a crush on you.
(which is more than a little confusing).

sincerely yours,

steven

p.s. (to the readers) my friend jen is demanding photos of my blocked northern summer shawl. keep your eyes peeled later ok?

i find that sometimes i get writers’ block.
and for days i worry that the few people who actually read what i write on here, will forget me and delete me from their rss feed.
if i’m truly honest with myself,
i know that’s what i’d do.

so i scour ravelry for inspiration.
read a bunch of seriously terrible knitting blogs,
and say to myself, “shit! someone’s got to write something more interesting than that!” (let’s be real. not everyone who knits can write)
then i feel bad, and worry that i’m one of those people.

so i move on, and continue my summer re-reading of stephanie’s blog,
(currently in september of ’04. i’m a bit behind)
and really start feeling bad about my writing.
then i feel blasphemous that,
after only a couple meetings,
i’ve dropped her rightful title,
and i’m referring to her as stephanie.
or worse yet (gods protect me)
steph.

the brazen familiarity horrifies me and my sense of knitterly decorum.

then i realize that it’s 3 bloody am and i need to get a grip.
(i blame an overdose of lasagna)

and suddenly it dawns on me i have too much in the way of knitterly things to write about currently, and i’ll just have to do my best to cover it all.

so….

firstly,
you may remember my boast of starting a blog project called “project ten” where i pose ten questions to what i call the ravelry generation.
it’s basically those fibery people who inspire me, who i want to meet, or i’m jealous of.

that kind of thing.

well,
i’m happy to announce that the first installment comes out this week.
i am thoroughly stoked.

deuxième,
back in early may,
i undertook a stupid challenge.
two of my fellow worker bees started a knit along;
the stora dimun knit along.

as someone who generally wants to fit in,
i thought about joining in the supposed “fun”
but with a shawl that begins with 449 stitches,
i knew i couldn’t afford the yarn,
and couldn’t think who would want the finished item.

my dear friend kelli, whom i love,
said she wanted it but would never knit it.
at least not in a timely manner.
kelli is my mother-sister-auntie,
from day one she’s been like family in a state where i have no kin,
there was no question that i would knit this for her.
plus she was springing for the yarn.

but this shawl is epic.
and mostly plain garter stitch.

(that’s one wing or half the shawl. just to give an idea of scale)

so i’ve been unbelievably unfaithful to it.
i’ve worked on it off and on, but with little joy.
i cast it aside heartlessly for the juneberry for stephanie,
and knit only one row when i was on my retreat.

i decided when i got home,
a meer seven days ago,
i’d work on it furiously,
to honor my love for the kelli,
and to get the fucker off my needles.
it’s all i am going to knit till it’s done.

thirdly,
three days ago i cast on another juneberry triangle.
another gift for a semi-secret recipient.
my roomie will attest that i have declared my personal motto of this summer to be, “i have no shame.”

this is a case in point.
(stats – blue moon luscious silk in the “manly yes, but i like it too” colorway, size 7 (4.5mm) needle)

i think i’ll go knit a row on kelli’s shawl.

but before i go, i want to leave you with a tid bit of gossip.
you may remember that several people have complained about the second chart of the juneberry triangle, i being one of the loudest. the chief complaint is i paid a ton of money for this little canadian magazine, and i deserve a fullly charted pattern, not “work the established pattern into the shawl as new stitches become available remembering that you can only work the yarn over if there are enough stiches to do it’s corresponding decreases.”

don’t even get me started on yarn overs and corresponding decreases!

however! floating around the internets is a copy of the complete second chart, a document supposedly elimnated by the st-denis magazine’s tech editor.

i may or may not have it in my possesion
and i may or may not be able to tell you where to get it.

all i can say is,
if you want to knit this pattern without tears,
find yourself a copy.

à bientôt bitches

retreat

July 14, 2010


i’m finding it difficult to understand, much less describe, my experience at the knot hysteria silk retreat.
living up to its name,
i learned loads about silk
and was given the time to withdraw from the everyday.

i can’t remember i time when i focused so intensely on one thing, or when i heard so much laughter in such a small space of time. i met some crazy amazing women who were both everyday people and unbelievable artists. i was stunned at the level of skill, creativity, and expertise that surrounded me, not only from our teachers, but from my fellow students. it was humbling really to recognize that, while i can effectively execute a knitting pattern at a fairly high level, my knowledge of fiber arts is minimal.

i learned that i know nothing.

but i suppose a more detailed approach would make for a better read, so here i go.

i was in group three,
which meant i spent my first day of class with the depraved dyer herself, tina newton.

we learned about the chemical makeup of silk in order to understand why it behaves the way it does in relation to dying.
and then we got to go to town.

we dyed a skein each of silk thread,
silkie socks that rock,
silkmo,
some silk top,
and three silk hankies.

it’s hard to pick just one,
but i think hers was my favorite class.
it gave me the chance to access a creative part of my brain that doesn’t get much action. dying the various forms of silk,
and thinking about color in general,
was like eating a perfectly cooked steak,
or that feeling you have when someone rubs your shoulders,
releasing a tension you never knew you had.

dying filled up a space in me,

and a pretty big space in my stash.
(i also increased my stash at the little store they had. there’s no photo cuz knitters know where i live, and there’d be a yarn related b&e in pittsburgh)

later in the day, the dying continued.
we all got to paint silk scarves with tina and stephanie,

and dye silk noil skeins in indigo with judith.

some people even dyed their hair.

day two was spent with judith mackenzie.

i was one of the people who learned to spin to come to the retreat.
i took lesssons, and practiced every chance i got.
and while i wasn’t in the financial position to purchase a wheel,
judith let me use one of hers.

of course, everything i learned went right out the window.

let me explain.

according to judith, spinners have one of two souls.
either you’re naturally a woolen spinner or worsted
for those of you who don’t spin,
think of it as english vs. continental
or being right or left handed.
you’re brain just likes one or the other.

apparently, i’m a woolen spinner.
with some crossed wires since i use my left hand to control twist
even though i’m right handed.
which meant i was at a disadvantage since silk “should” be spun worsted.

so i was at square one all over again.

*sigh*

but i came to learn and learn i did.
i can’t even begin to collate everything i learned about spinning.

but this i know for sure;
after extensive observation,
i’m convinced judith is some sort of witch.
good or bad, she’s the witch of pacific northwest
i’d bet my life she’s the one who taught rumplstiltskin how to spin straw into gold.

just sayin’

my last day was knitting with stephanie
this was the class i felt most prepared for;
knitting was supposed to be my strong point.
it turned out to be the most frustrating of all my classes.
she kept throwing sample after sample of different yarn blends at us to knit, and my hands couldn’t keep up with the pace at which my mind was moving.

i mean,
have you ever tried to knit a lace swatch with silk thread?
i almost cried!

and knitting with silk hankies??
really pretty effect
but not so easy.

(here’s one hanky layer stretched to the max)

i probably learned more about knitting from stephanie in a few hours than i think i have in the past 6 months.

for instance!
have you ever heard that casting on over a larger needle (or two needles) will help if your cast on is too tight?
that is only true if you’re doing a single strand cast on!
such as knitted, cable, or crochet cast on.

if you do some form of the long tail cast on,
casting on over larger needles will not make your cast on edge looser!

i know what you’re all saying.

lies!

i said the same thing pretties.
i don’t have the ability to draw the picture necessary to prove it to you.
here’s what I’ll say: only one of your strands of a long tail cast on goes over needle itself, making a loop. the other only wraps around that loop underneath the needle and is therefore unaffected by the size of the needle. while the loop itself may be larger because you’re using more yarn, the edge will not be because you use the same amount.

the test?
do it yourself.

seriously, it’s true.
this is the face of experience

that evening after dinner was show and tell.
people brought some stunning things that they had made.
i orginally planned on giving stephaine the juneberry triangle then,
but upon further consideration,
it seemed really gauche.

so i gave it to her earlier, when no one was looking.
it was a moment i’ll remember,
and i’m glad it wasn’t public.

i’m home now,
hungry,
broke,
tired.

and i haven’t been this happy in forever.

i’ll miss you port ludlow.

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