Monthly Archives: December 2007

Ready for Christmas


 So I guess I’m all done with my Christmas knitting and ready to leave tonight.  I’m flying home to Camas (near Portland, OR) this evening.  I got all packed up yesterday and I guess that’s it.  I was working on a mix CD for my Uncle kind of late last night.  I usually get pretty lazy about organizing songs on a mix but this time tried to figure out what worked in what order.  I’m so used to listening to music on shuffle now that I don’t usually notice bad transitions.  I don’t know if he’ll like any of the music but oh well.  I made it like a mix of new-ish indie pop stuff and some older music, like girl groups. 

The hardest thing is packing knitting projects!  I’m taking the sleeves of my sweater coat with me on the plane.  I’m also packing some Patagonia Nature Cotton to use to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Sweater for my cousin and two colors of Cascade 220 to make some herringbone mittens for myself.  Free pattern from Elliphantom here (pdf).  I’m a little concerned about the Patagonia.  EZ’s instruction call for a yarn that gets 6 stitches to an inch in garter.  According to the ball band the Patagonia is like 13 stitches to 4 inches.  I’d like a sweater a little bigger than hers, because I hear it’s tiny but I don’t want a giant child’s sweater to give a baby.  I may have to re-evaluate. 

I finally took pictures of the sweater coat in progress.  The lighting was pretty crappy this morning.  It’s all grey and rainy out.  I finished the back and the two fronts and am about half way on the first sleeve.  Here’s some pics:

And a close-up:

It’s kind of hard to take pictures of it because nothing’s sewn together and the pieces are rolling like crazy.  It’s like holding up tubes of fabric.

I felted the Vintage Velvet scarf by hand on Sunday.  It was hard to tell when it was felted enough.  It ended up pretty skinny, but I think I stretched some length into it.  I’ve been letting it dry, but it’s taking a long time.  I’ll have to pack it up while it’s a little damp.  It’s a little difficult to tell what the fabric will look like when it’s completely dry.  I hope it’ll be a little softer than it is now.  My sister looves velvet, so hopefully it’ll feel like that. 

I didn’t do a lot of holiday knitting this year so I haven’t felt too far behind.  I’m just proud of myself for knitting from my stash the last few months, not going further into debt this month and getting all my shopping done like a week ago.  Now I can relax and make more stuff for me!  I can’t wait to do something more exciting than all this stockinette.  Bring on the colorwork!

In non-knitting news… I’ve been Internet dating a bit.  One message got filtered out a while back and I just saw it the other day.  The first paragraph was about his sister baking in the middle of the night when they were growing up.  But the second paragraph said something like, “From your picture and profile you seem shy and reserved.  But I bet you’re soft and warm once you get to know someone and let them inside.”  It was something like that.  Maybe I added the “inside” stuff since I’m remembering it as totally creepy.  But weird huh?  Internet dating can be totally scary and awkward. 

Anyway, happy holidays to everyone and I’ll try to blog a bit while I’m out of town.  But maybe without pictures.  Jill P. and I might have a knitting New Year’s if anyone’s interested! 

Jill B.


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Vipassana info

Hi Jill B!

A few weeks ago, Monique from monday night knitting was telling me that she couldn’t find the schedule of 10 Vipassana courses for 2008. I just got my monthly newsletter today and it has a link to the schedule…

I don’t have her email and since we won’t be knitting at The Spot for a few weeks, I figured I’d post it here. Could you let her know… I’m not sure if she reads our blog or not… 😉

xo, Jill P.

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Living on the edge

I’m so excited cause I’m finally casting off the EZ Pi shawl I’ve been working on for the past month or two. But I must say the pi shawl edging has been kicking my a** for the last couple of days. When I started the shawl, I had chosen this lovely lace edging from an older Vogue Knitting magazine. (Don’t remember which one because I got it from the library and made a scanned copy.) The instructions read that you should knit the edging first and then apply it to the garment when it reaches the appropriate length. Well, I just figured I could knit it right onto the shawl. Not so illogical, right? After doing a bit of swatching to get used to the pattern, I cast onto the shawl. My first attempt got totally screwed up was a bit wonky so I decided to meticulously unknit and try again. My second try was masterful, flawless, a thing of beauty… this is until I came to the last row of the pattern. The instruction read “bind off three”. Well, I was on the inside edge of the shawl. I can’t bind off on the inside edge!!! Now, I know I could have started right over and cast on the lace edge upsidedown/rightsidedown.  A knitter with much more experience and time on her hands may have chosen this path, but unfortunately for this beautiful lace edging, I am not that knitter. Having spent the entire evening only to be back at square one, I decided to abandon ship. The next 36 hours or so were spent coming to terms with this sad turn of events and in a desperate search for an alternative. It seems that there is a lot of talk about the Pi Shawl online, in ravelry forums, blogs, EZ fan sites, etc, but not a whole lot of discussion about specific edging options. Sure I saw a lot of photos, but not so many actual patterns. In the end, I decided to do what I never thought I would do… crochet loop cast off. Sort of boring, but really quick and easy and it blends nicely with the progressive holes/YO increases of the shawl. I chose a much smaller crochet hook than my knitting needle size (E hook vs. 10.5 needle) and am doing a slip stitch into every two stitches followed by chain 7. I like using the smaller hook because it makes a nice and neat, tiny chain of loops that probably won’t seem so loopy after blocking. Since I am getting to a point of concern over my holiday knitting schedule, this was really the best choice I think.

In other news, this weekend, while Jill was getting down and dirty with scouring her pygora fleece, I was “finishing” a huge backlog of handspun. I didn’t use any woolwash/soap, just water, a little lavender oil and a sound wacking on the tile counter. I can’t wait to see what “they” decide to be knit into…

I also got a little spinning done. It felt so good to get back on the wheel! Here is my progress on the BMFA Sheep to Shoe kit that Jill got me at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. It’s the Loch Ness colorway.

Not much, but it’s something. I followed the instructions on the kit and this is the first of three long strips, about 80% spun by this point today.

The next three days are going to be super busy for me so I don’t know how much gift knitting progress I’ll make before Sunday. Speaking of Sunday, OG is leaving for a week-long writing retreat, so I will have the apartment all to myself for lots of fibery mischief next week!

xo, JP

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Pastaza parade!

I finally have some pictures of finished items.  And it seems like an awful lot of them are in Cascade Pastaza.  Well, only two.  I wasn’t crazy about this yarn.  It was pretty sheddy.  I had tons of long llama hairs all over me every knitting session.  I finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket for my Uncle.  Now I just need to make him a mix CD and I’m basically done with my Christmas gifts.  Except for felting that scarf… 

Here’s the pinned out throw:

And a close-up:

And here it is draped over the papasan chair.  I seriously need to get better at taking pictures.  I haven’t figured out the whole lighting/flash thing yet I guess.

You know, and not moving the camera while taking the picture.  And I can only get a handful of quick pictures before the batteries die and I need to charge them again.

My other Pastaza project was the Log Cabin socks.  They went pretty quick with such fat yarn.  I couldn’t photograph them very well, even trying artificial and natural light from different angles.  This is what came out:

I went over to Jill P.’s on Sunday with a few other people for a little fiber day.  The dyeing class on Saturday had been cancelled.  I spent most of the day washing the rest of my pygora fleece.  Hours were spent fluffing out the locks and picking out crap from the fleece.  Then I did two big batches of scouring.  I used Orvus paste.  I needed about three wash cycles for each one and a couple of rinses.  The difference was so amazing.  It was totally brownish before and came out close to white.  I’ve been trying to dry it at home but the cats are a little playful so I need to keep it in the mesh bag and hope it dries well enough.  For a while I left the bag on a drying rack in the middle of my floor and Paquito kept lying on top of the wet fiber.  I just hope he wasn’t felting it. 

I was feuding with the cats all weekend because of the blocking.  I had to lock them out of my room while the throw was pinned out on my floor.  Paquito kept pulling the pins out with his teeth and I’d have to pin it down again.  They really don’t like being restricted from my room.  It was pretty obnoxious. 

This weekend I also plied my silk.  I can’t really tell how it came out yet.  I haven’t put it in a hank yet, it’s still on the bobbin.  At Jill’s I started spinning some Lisa Souza superwash merino.  I think the roving is really beautiful with burgundies and deep colors in it.  Spun up it’s a little light.  There are some light spots in the roving that really tame down the rest of the fiber.  I still like it though.  I spun about an ounce on Sunday.  I think I’ll do a 2-ply yarn for socks.  I like the look of my 3-ply but I don’t know if I get enough yardage.  And it takes a lot longer.

Since I didn’t have pictures last time… Here’s the Swan Lake/Mystery Stole 3 that I finally blocked.  I don’t have any modelling shots though.  It’s Misti Alpaca Lace, less than two balls with some purple-y beads that I got at the craft store.  Try to ignore my sloppy room…

And here’s the Ram’s Horn Jacket.  I just need to figure out how to keep the collar edges from rolling up.  I can try to block it still. 

That was knit with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Amber Heather.  It’s a little bit scratchy.  I need to get some sort of pin or closure.  I might just buy a cheapish hair pin thing.  Like the kind with a circle and a stick through it. 

I love how on Ravelry when you go to look at the posts that people have made in forums, it says “[ravelrymember] is a chatterbox” at the top of the page.  The first person I looked it up on is a total chatterbox in real life so it was especially funny right off the bat.  I was kind of disappointed that everybody’s says that, even if they don’t post much.  I guess that’s it for now!

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Camera woes

So first off, I’m totally jealous of your celebrity favorite!  How exciting! 

I’ve been hesitating to post because I don’t have any pictures to liven it up with.  I tried to upload my Mystery Stole pictures, but my internet wasn’t working.  Then I tried to take new pictures but my camera batteries will no longer hold a charge.  I need to buy new ones, but I’m awfully lazy. 

So here’s the boring, no picture, progress report.  I’ve been working on the Log Cabin socks from Handknit Holidays pretty dutifully.  They are for Sean for Christmas so there’s kind of a deadline.  I’m knitting them out of Cascade Pastaza on 6US DPNs.  The thick yarn on smaller needles is a little tough on my hands but I have been trying to practice holding my wrists and elbows at a better angle.  I finished the first sock Tuesday night and completed half of the second leg yesterday.  It’s going pretty quick even though I need to make them size 12 mens!  They look giant on my feet.  They’re just going to be house socks anyway.  I don’t know if he’ll like the burgundy color, but that’s what I had in my stash.  I should have them finished this week.

I also worked on the Kooch sweater coat a bit.  I’m working on the first front right now, but am back on track after taking a tiny break from it. 

I finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket last weekend, but I haven’t blocked it yet.  Now it looks like a big lumpy mess.  And not in the way that people always say about lace.  It’s a total blob.  I’m pretty happy with it though, and think my Uncle will like it.  I wish it didn’t shed so much though.  I also wish I was better at doing the finishing stuff.  Whenever water or buttons are involved it’s always a struggle.

I guess that’s all I’ve been working on.  I’m getting pretty excited about our upcoming fiber dyeing class with John Pitblado.  It’s at the Weaver’s Cottage.  If anyone’s interested that’s where Jill P., Jason and I will be on Saturday!  Since Jill P. is driving I’ll have to bring my knitting for the car ride! 

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Touched by knitting fame…

OMG… so get a load of this! Guess who “hearts” my rainbow feather & fan shawl on ravelry…


No shit. I’m stunned and flattered.

Here are some screenshots for those who don’t have access to the magical and mysterious Ravelry

Well, he does have eight pages of favorites, but considering there are over 35 thousand people on ravelry and multiply that by the possible number of projects attached to each person… Guess this means I’ll have to finish it in this lifetime.

xo, JP


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What not to do at your meditation retreat

Well.. there are a lot of things, but as far as the technique of meditation is concerned thinking about stuff is by far the last thing you should be doing. The point is when your meditating, observing your natural breath or body sensations, and a thought comes along you should, upon realizing it, give it no importance and focus back on the meditation… immediately. This turned out to be a most difficult task for me this time around. Not that it isn’t usually a challenge for everyone. It’s just that this time it was truly the biggest roadblock to my progress. The good news it that I managed to figure out a way to be accepting of the fact that I was having said difficulty and use it as a means to develop more equanimity. Anyway, the better news, at least for the blog, is that I had some great fibery breakthroughs and project ideas while sitting on my cushion.

First off, like you Jill, I do not own a swift. I must say, I have by now pretty much collected most any fancy tool I might need for basic fiber related activities. Except this one. Not sure why I haven’t gotten one yet. Has nothing to do with $$ cause god knows I’ve spent plenty on other stuff. And I’ve certainly needed one, desperately at times. OG’s a good sport about winding and I’ve even managed to recruit my best man-buddy Craig to help out too. But, really, this is not the best way. It think it may have to do with the fact that I just haven’t seen one that really appeals to me. Although I did really fall in love with the upright swift that Mindy won at the county fair. (Must email her for more info!) Anyway, so I was sitting on my cushion and wondering about winding my next skein of lacewight for the Pi Shawl and imagining how I might do it without any assistance. I had seen online a while back a contraption dreamed up by someone out of a 2 liter soda bottle and a bunch of wire hangers. Not gonna happen for me since I don’t drink soda and I just purged my wire hangers in my recent move. Then I had the brilliant, or so I thought, idea to take two lay kates (Yes, I own two lazy kates but no swift. The wonders never cease…) with empty bobbins thinking that the skein would easily spin round and round if I used enough tension between the two kates. This might possibly work with heavier yarn, but to my disappointment, not laceweight. Then I started thinking about the upright swift and how the “bobbins” are like cages so the skien has a large circumfrence to grab onto in order to facilitate turning and how possibly the gravity part might help. So this is what I came up with…

One papertowel tube and two magnetic towel bars stuck up on my fridge. Certainly far from perfect, but a big improvemnt in the time saver department as well as aching man-arms department. The biggest drawback about this set up is that it winds a very tight ball. I know this is superbad of the fibers, so once I finished with the refrigerator “swift”, I put it right back on the ballwinder and rewound a nice, loose, squishy ball. Can you see the difference in these photos?

Ball wound from swift

Second ball re-wound from first ball

So, her’s my list of other ideas I couldn’t get out of my mind…

EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket: I suddenly became obsessed with making this jacket out of a CVM (California Red Sheep) lamb fleece I bought last year in Corsegold, CA on my way home from my first Vipassana retreat. I envisioned spinning the fleece up woolen, fat and fluffy, and separating out the very small amount of cinnamon parts from the more creamy parts to spin as trim yarn. Spent at least 1/2 a day trying not to think about this one. I think this will be my first spinning project of the new year once I finish my Sheep to Shoe kit. Which, btw, has been mocking me calling to me from across the livingroom since I came home.

Dye experiments inspired by BMFA Raven Clan: I have some alpaca fleece that is black with a little suntipping. Could be very interesting to overdye, maybe navy and teal? The main question in this case would be whether to dye in batts or after spinning… Never dyed a batt so that might be fun! Could also be disastrous. Even though alpaca doesn’t felt as easily as wool, yarn might still be safer. Also I have a few pounds of this kind of dull grey roving that was millends from Brown Sheep Company. I would never use the color as is and wondered how it might look with with a bath in a dark palette.

Sock dyeing techniques: Probably too many to list here, but having some thoughts of dyeing knit tubes, and sprinkle dyeing loose skeins.

Indigo dye pot: What are the odds that I could set up and sustain a indigo dye pot on my patio. I’ve heard that some Native peoples kept dye pots going for generations. It would be really fun to be able to dye at will without having to set it up every time. I’m sure someone at the guild can help me with that. I’ll have to ask. Are we still doing “Ask & Tell”?

What else are you not supposed to do at your meditation retreat…?

Well… knit. I did bring knitting. I confess. It’s so close to the holidays and I couldn’t help it. I brought two mindless, “meditative” projects to work on during our recess periods. I made some really good progress. I had this seed stitch scarf that I started at last year’s retreat. I marked my progress with a green stitch marker, so you can see I got quite a bit done.

I was really using this piece as a way to practice both knitting and purling back and forth holding the yarn in my left hand. Up until now I’ve been switching and doing purl rows with my right hand or if it is a combination of both I stay on the right. This is slow and annoying. Anyway, I’m getting better, but my gauge is much looser than I’m used to.

The other project I brought was EZ’s Pi Shawl which I mentioned earlier. I managed to get through the one skein of the Knitpicks Shadow I brought and and made it to row 45, just a few short of the final increase row to 500-something stitches. It was very nice to work on and I like this yarn a lot. I was a little concerned around day 3 that I would run out of knitting, but it ended up working out perfectly. Here’s a photo with the new ball of yarn attached. I think I’m going to finish up with twelve more rows and then add the border which I’ll have to talk about later…

I have to admit, the fact that I brought knitting undoubtedly added fuel to my fibery thoughts while on the cushion. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t have mattered either way. . .

Jill P


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