27 June 2006

Uugghh

It's been a few bad months since Stitches West. I dropped all my projects to knit six baby hats for a co-worker to take to Africa with her. She was participating in a Mothers without Borders session in which she did various good things for African children who have been orphaned by AIDS. I knit the hats for premies. (See right.) Don't know where I read the tip to block hats on balloons, but it was a perfect way to block.

So I had to take a break after that, and now I just can't get motivated to continue with my mom's scarf. First there is the problem of the yarn itself. You would think that alpaca/silk would be fabulous. It feels great and has a lovely drape in this lace stitch I'm doing. However, I bought an oatmeal-like color (what was I thinking?) that makes the scarf look like it's being made from kitchen twine. (Big ARRGH here.) I have a great pattern, Fiber Trends' Estonian Garden Wrap and Scarf, but there are all these increases and decreases and yarn overs and knit togethers, blah, blah, so it's very easy to mess up the pattern (especially when you have a tendency to blank out, like I do). Plus, r
ight before I put the needles down, I had to frog a bit of the scarf and of course, when I recently picked it back up for a nanosecond, I realized I was completely lost in the pattern. No matter how I restart this thing, it's going to be a mess.

Finally, I was quickly running out of yarn/twine, even though I know I got the yarn requirements right using different yarn. (Second ARRGH). I bought the yarn from the great web store, Elann. So guess what my next problem was -- out of stock. Down to my last two balls of yarn, I realize that I may have to change direction and make this a doily (can't believe this word isn't in spell check). It's not even long enough for an antimacassar. (I love this word for the little cloths placed over the arms and backs of furniture. Ever living room object had an antimacassar at my grandmother's house.) Then, I got an email from Elann -- she's such a dear. I love this service. I had filled out a request on the website asking to be notified when a yarn I wanted was restocked. I mean, hello I'm busy knitting, not reading blogs or viewing websites. Not only did she write, she sent me to the order page. Very slick. Some vendors are very, very clever and, I don't mind buying from clever people.

I thought the 10 new balls would inspire me to begin again, but I've been able to resist its infectious pull. In fact the shipping box hasn't moved from where I dropped it when I brought it in the house.

12 January 2006

Ahh, to live on an island

Here's the next best thing. Check out this link http://www.simplyshetland.net/77352.html. Doesn't this look great!

For the past few months I have been drooling over the possibility of going to the Shetland Islands. Husband #1 isn't thrilled with the idea. He'd rather hike to Machu Pichu (Peru). OK with me because there are weaving sightseeing opportunities there. I would die to get my hands on some South American alpaca and see how the locals weave and knit it.

But back to the Shetland Islands. I don't know why I suddenly developed this fascination. Perhaps its because these little bumps of land above Scotland are the birthplace of Shetland sheep; Shetland ponies; and Shetland sheepdogs. How did this happen in such a small place? Also, it's known for its wool, yarn and knitting style: fair isle. It's a spectacular bird sanctuary and the views out to the North Sea are astounding. The islands are sparsely populated (some towns have populations of 62 or fewer), and are pretty isolated, meaning that on blustery, foggy days neither ferries nor planes can land. (Yes, I am available to write travelogues for Scotland and the Shetland Islands; Hebrides and Channel, too.)

As soon as I developed this obsession to go to the Shetland Islands, I start running across Shetland-related things. First, I bought this paperback by Ian Rankin, who is considered an excellent mystery writer. He writes about Scotland -- close to Shetland. I saw a documentary on JK Rowlings, who lived in Scotland for awhile. My sister and I had a Shetland pony growing up. I heard an interview with Redmond O'Hanlon whose latest book is about working on a fishing boat in the North Sea (surrounds Shetlands). I once wanted to raise alpaca, which led me to take up spinning, but now have become fasincated with sheep, which abound in the Shetlands. (I still want to raise angora rabbits, and I'm wondering if there is any way to get alpaca to Shetland.) I signed up for a fair isle class at Stitches West and bought a book on the history of fair isle knitting by Anne Feitelson. All these activities were unplanned.

Then, in a coincidence that seems mystical, I read in Spin Off magazine that Fair Isle (a real place and part of the Shetlands) is looking for people to come live on their island. Oh my gosh! It was too late to join the application process, but it has opened my eyes to possibilities. Plus, the committee was looking particularly for knitters and those in the building trades. The Fair Isle knitters' products are in great demand; they have had to stop taking orders because they do not have enough knitters.

So this is the reason I'm joining the fair isle knit-along project. I must become skilled in the art before I move. Small grin here.

To spend my days knitting, growing a garden, raising sheep and spinning wool seems to me ideal. Unfortunately, it's very cold and windy there.

A couple of weeks ago, Scout, my jumbo jack russell, and I went to Pt. Isabelle. It was incredibly windy and cold. It was so windy, in fact, that Scout's eyes were plastered back along the side of his head when he faced into the wind. I pretended we were on Fair Isle and off we went. I realized it is horribly difficult to do anything outside when the wind is blowing that hard. Plus, when we got in the car, I realized I had been tensing all my muscles. I felt like I had been beat up when the blowing stopped. Hummmm.

Will I ever go to live on Fair Isle or even visit the Shetlands? Who knows. After I came across all this stuff, I started dreaming about what it would be like to live there. As I did, I realized I hadn't had a fantasy in years. It's good to have fantasies. They occupy you while you are knitting, which I am doing to prepare myself just in case something happens.
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11 January 2006

This blog will mainly cover my participation in bowerbirdknit's knit-along (KAL). We all are choosing a fair isle project from the book "Sweaters from Camp" so I'll update my status as I progress. (My first fair isle project). Also on this site: I'll be writing down random thoughts and letting you know what's on my needles.

The week before Christmas I saw three, three! knitters on Bart.

In October, a punk knitter shouted at me on the street to "Knit On" when she saw my pink jelly Knitter's magazine bag.

Speaking of the pink jelly bag (it was a premium for renewing your Knitters magazine subscription at Stitches West last year), I'm about to lose the strap on one side. I can't stand it because I love this bag. Last year's wet season didn't faze this bag at all. Rain, schmain, its jelliness said. I never had a project inside get wet.

As for features, there are three of the cleverest things I have ever seen in a knitting bag: i) there's an inside pocket made of the same jelly bag material. Now get this, it's 5x9. You can put a whole pencil sideways in it. And it's deep enough to hold a small notebook, sticky notes, several crochet hooks, medium length circular needles, what ever. Here's the cool part -- it snaps out. I'm always afraid when I go to classes that someone will pick up a knitting gadget of mine and walk off with it. With the snap in, snap out pocket, you can put the entire pocket on the table. Since it's bright pink you'll never walk off without seeing it.

OK, I'll be brief on the other two: grommet through the side of the bag. Why the grommet? So you can thread your yarn through it. You see, there is a corral (that's the only word I can think of at the moment) for your yarn ball inside, behind the grommet. You stick the ball in the corral, thread the yarn's loose end through the grommet and your yarn is kept clean, tangle-free, and in one place. More over, you don't have to worry about snagging your yarn on the bag's zipper. How handy is that?!

There's one draw back though -- there's no way to get the yarn back through the grommet once the knitting starts getting longer. You have to throw the needles in over the top and that kind of defeats the purpose of the grommet. But, if they have any of these bags at Stitches West, I strongly recommend you get one, however please get in line behind me.