“Knitting is Primal”

Bookcover200 I just heard the most wonderful piece on NPR about Tracey Ullman knitting.  Seems she is a very serious knitter and she and a friend have come out with a new book about knitting called "Knit 2 Together".  And here’s a pattern from the book for a mohair apron.  Tracey says "It’s like a woman’s birthright to knit. It’s primal. It’s timeless. You don’t need electricity to knit. You can do it with a candle, girls!"  Who’s gonna argue with that?

It’s Friday and I have no cat photos, no eye candy and no randomness, beyond this post.  Have a great weekend and get out and enjoy this beautiful fall weather and knit something.  Or take in a Quilt Show.  Or both!

Buttons and FO’s

Rib_cable I finished the Rib and Cable Socks by Nancy Bush from the IK Fall 2005.  I love these socks, but I had to rip once and restart using #2 dpns – my feet are too big for a 60 stictch CO unless it’s on 2′s, but the Mountain Colors yarn was very accomodating.  Got the yarn from Christine (thanks Christine!)  I have two more skeins in different colors that my lovely daughter, Kandis, picked up for me when she was in Montana for her brother-in-law’s wedding.  It’s local yarn up there, and a very nice gift for me. 

Baby_girl I also finished another baby sweater for a friend and coworker, who’s having a girl.  I think I can do these in my sleep now.  But they’re cute and soft and I love miniature clothes.

I made a button for the Kid N Ewe gathering – if you are going or are local, spread the love – but save it to your server, it’s in the side bar on the right.

How come we always crave what we can’t have?

I liked Cotton-Ease before they discontinued it, but once they took it off the shelves, I became slightly obsessed with obtainning it.  I just couldn’t accept that something I had taken for granted for years could suddenly be taken from me. (I think there’s a lesson here)  I don’t think I was alone.

It’s the same thing now with spinach.  I like spinach, but I don’t buy it every week, but this week, I have really been craving it.  So much so that I planted some in the garden.  It grows very well in the fall here in Central Texas.  Spinach fresh from the garden is the best!  I prefer to cook mine which would kill any e.coli if I could only get my hands on some.  One of my favorite recipes to use spinach in is Quiche Avon.  I worked at a restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas many years ago that served it and it was one of our most popular dishes.  The recipe is a bit different from the one I linked to, I use canned spinach if I don’t have fresh and I always add ham to mine.  Serve it with a fresh salad and it’s a great light meal.  It freezes very well and I usually make 2 – one to eat right away and one to freeze.  It also microwaves by the slice really well. 

I have a couple of knitting projects close to completion, but took a couple of days out to sew up a few things.  More on that later.  Oh, and Lion is bringing Cotton-Ease back.  Yeah, you heard me right, they are bringing it back AND in a new color range.  Doubt me?  Here is the name of the person at Lion that spilled the beans to a member of the Cotton-Ease Yahoo Group:

Ilana Rabinowitz

Lion Brand Yarn Company

It’s gonna be a couple of months, but there’s no reason we can’t let them know how much we appreciate their keeping their finger on the pulse of the knitting community.  Heaven knows, not every yarn company has ears for knitters.

Roll Your Own Blocking Board

Edc_block_1 The subject of blocking came up at our South Austin Knitting Meet-up this weekend and Janet asked if I blocked on my bed or what?  No, I can’t keep people and animals off my bed long enough to block on it and besides, the bed never gets made unless company is coming.  I always wanted one of those great folding blocking boards with handles, but the price has been prohibitive for me.  I did some web research a while back and dug up all I could find on making my own.  I came up with a version of one from Knitty.com and thought I would share my DIY Blocking Board info with you.

I remember coveting Donna’s (Donna’s Yarn Barn) blocking board in the back room of her shop years ago before she retired and closed the business.  It was a large board that was on a table about counter height, so you didn’t need to bend over to use it easily.  It was padded and covered with Muslin, I can’t remember if it had a grid on it or not.  It looked to be the size of my cutting table that I use for sewing (40X72 when opened), so it was a substantial size.  I knew I needed something bigger than the small folding boards I had seen at some retailers.  Some knitted items can cover a lot of real estate while blocking, especially if you block the pieces BEFORE you stitch them together.

I came across the Knitty.com article online and it has lots of good info.  I did follow their instructions to a point, but was confused about a couple of their techniques and figured out my own way around those.

Kepler_block_1 First of all, they call for homosote.  Well, unless you are into DIY remodeling of your home, you may not know what that is.  Well, it’s a product made of cellulose (recycled paper by-product) and it is sold in 4X8 sheets for sound proofing a wall or room which don’t fit easily in a vehicle unless you have a truck or van.  It is also basically the same thing used in accoustic ceiling tiles.  The commercial ones are large – I found some that were 2×4 at Lowes and I can’t recall, but I think 2 of them were less than 10 bucks.  I took them home along with a roll of Duct Tape – did you know that stuff comes in decorator colors now?

Accoustic ceiling tiles are cheaper than plywood and they don’t require padding unless you just want to add it.  They are relatively lightweight, but they do have some vulnerabilities.  They can break and the edges can crumble.  I taped all around all the edges with duct tape to secure the edges  I bought a few yards of 1 inch Gingham fabric.  You can get this stuff from a number of places, and it can be cotton or a blend and many colors.  The gingham creates a 1×1 grid on your board that makes measuring your blocking and lining it up so much easier.  Just cut enough to wrap around the board and staple it to the back.  You could also use hot glue if you didn’t have a staple gun, but you want to make sure you line up the grid straight and fairly taut as you secure the fabric to the back. 

That is about it.  A box of stainless steel T-pins and you are in business.  The tiles are absorbant and wick moisture away from your knitting which speeds the drying process.  When I block long scarves I just lay the boards end to end on the floor and block across the entire length.  I store my boards in the closet when not in use, but you could slide them under a bed or sofa.  If you do, put them face to face (if you make two) so they don’t get dusty.  I lay them flat on a table to pin and then will lean them against a wall while they dry. They have worked really well for me and if and when they wear out, they will be easy to replace.   Just lather rinse, repeat.

As long as we are on the subject of blocking, here are some other posts I ran across on the subject I felt worthy of sharing.  I have found that blocking is important with most knit items.  I know some people don’t bother and it shows.  Trust me, a serious knitter can spot an unblocked item from…well, a block away.

Eunny Blocks Everything

Blocking for Blockheads – pdf by the Knitting Curmudgeon

Make Your Own Blocking Board – with plywood

Final link and tipThis retailer has EZ boards at a better price AND sells pre-printed cloths if you want to build and pad your own board, but it still isn’t as cheap as mine.  I can’t vouch for them since I have never dealt with them, but this was the first place I found the pre-printed grid cloths.

Posted in DIY

Will Ewe Be There?

Alpaca_3 I’ve had several posts all bottled up in me this week with no opportunity to free them till now.  First of all, a reminder to all Texas knitters and fiber artists; The Kid N Ewe and Lamas Too Woolfest is November 10-12 this year.  It ain’t no Rhinebeck.  It aint’ no Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  It ain’t no Vermont Sheep and Wool Fest.  Nope, it’s just our very own little (emphasis on little) Texas Fiber Fest.  I don’t know of another in Texas so we’ll take it.  Christine and I have decided that we had soooo much fun when the Harlot came to town that we want to recapture that "buzz" and try to wrangle all the blogging fiberistas (and non-blogging ones too – Hi Katy!) out there into coming to the Kind N Ewe show.  We’re planning a gathering.  Kinda like the Harlot After Party – only not after and not in a restaurant.  They’ve granted us dibs on some tables at the event for holding a potluck OR "bring your own lunch" thing where we can get together and visit.  I set up a wiki for anyone who wants to participate to add your info and stay connected.  For those who aren’t familiar with wikis, think Wikipedia – the most famous one.  They allow anyone who can view the page to edit it.  I know it’s very geeky, but it is the most simple, public, free, democratic way of collaborating with people online over vast (or modest) geographic distances.  If you want to join in, leave a comment, I’ll send you the password.  So, will EWE be in Boerne this November?  Want to play?

Other Stuff


This past spring Mary Beth posted about this fabulous knitting bag she got that was actually a gardening tote, but worked great for knitting projects.  I wanted one, but couldn’t justify the expense.  Then last week or so, I saw Janet had ordered one AND they were on sale!  Okay, well, that’s all the enabling I needed.  It arrived yesterday.  Holy cow, I had no idea how big it was!  I thought it was purse sized – but it’s gi-normous and fabulous and I plan on toting it with me to the Austin Knitters Meetup tomorrow.

Ann Richards

A Texas legend passes.  She was a stateswoman like this state hasn’t seen before or since.  Many years ago I served the former governor a drink at a private party I was working when I was between jobs.  She requested a club soda with lime.  I was was only too happy to oblige. Famous for her big hair until her famous line made her more famous for her quick wit, she made Texas politics interesting.  My favorite quip of hers was the one where she reminded delegates that veteran actress-dancer Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, "only backwards and in high heels."  So long Ann, Texas will never forget you.

Steve Irwin

I cannot read an article about Steve Irwin‘s  passing without choking up.  Yes, I’m a sap.  And he was one of the few heroes I had.  I don’t care about the contraversies. Nobody promoted wildlife conservation or facilitated the education of the masses like he did.  And continues to do.  Even in his death, the world learns more about the mysteries of the other creatures with whom we share this earth.  I wish his family peace and courage. 

Friday Cat-Blogging

Superscratcher_1 Know what this is?  Yeah, it’s our cat Katrina, but the cool thing about this photo is she was lounging on her Super Scratcher.  A few months ago in a conversation about de-clawing my cat because she was tearing up my furniture, June discouraged me from mutilating the kitty.  She swore by this product.  I was skeptical.  But I finally found one at the store and it wasn’t even expensive.  After all, it’s just corrugated cardboard embedded with catnip.  At first, Katrina ignored it.  We moved it all over trying to find a place where she might be tempted to use it.  Finally, she discovered the joys of scratching the hell out of something that didn’t cause us to squirt her with water.  Now, I think she likes it.  Look at her cuddling up to it.  Thanks, June.

It’s Friday everyone.  Have a great weekend.

A Slice of Life

I woke yesterday and showered and dressed for work and began the task of dragging the rest of the family out of the bed to start their day.  My allergies were affecting me and I decided I had to lie down, skirt and all.  The molds have been high forever and I can’t shake this constant congestion.  I woke sometime near 10am.  At some point I suppose Tom took Abby to school since neither was home when I got up.  I emailed in sick to work and proceeded to get comfortable and shed the skirt for comfy jeans and tee.  I checked email, read blogs, laid around and knit.  I never turned on the TV.  I just became obsessed with finishing this one impromptu project.  I found the pattern at Jen’s site.  I have no idea why I felt compelled to knit this.  It is completely out of character for me to knit anything that is not useful or wearable.  I just don’t waste my time or yarn on such things.  I don’t even like cherry pie!  I can only say that when I saw it, I thought it would make me happy to have one to look at.  It was very easy, finished it late last night, so all done in a day, very cheap – Red Heart acrylic.  and you know what?  It does make me happy to look at it.  It’s funny and clever and silly and unexpected and I think that’s just what I needed on a sick day.  Tom was completely perplexed and believes fully that I have now gone round the bend.  Abby was amused when she found it on the table at breakfast this morning.

Now I have to go make amends for my frivolity and knit up a slew of these Swiffer Covers (ever so useful and thrifty) that I saw over at Rete’s.  The only thing I’m worried about is that I am starting to think that there needs to be some cake to go with the pie.  I’m thinking chocolate with buttercream frosting and maybe some jimmies on top or a candle.  I think I can pull this off.  Hmmm, hmm, hmm, hmmm.

Have some pie.

While I was gone…

Trekalong I fought allergies the whole trip to the coast which tempered my enjoyment of this trip – but it was for work, so I don’t know if I was really supposed to enjoy it in the first place.  I did get to knit – right through 3 days worth of meetings and a few quiet evenings.  I finished my Trek-along socks.  I like them, but the yarn broke 6 times on the second sock.  They weren’t clean breaks – more like moth damage, but I pulled the yarn from the inside and had zero trouble with the first one.  It isn’t the first time it’s happened to me, but it’s aggravating and I don’t know where the trouble is – with the shop or with my house.  Seems like if it was my house that it wouldn’t be buried inside the skein.  But then, maybe that’s the way moths work, I don’t know – I never see them.  Still, it’s a finished pair of socks.

Pump_price We were slightly amazed at the price of gas on the coast – but after all, it is a bit closer to the source (both the shipping channel and the refineries), but I felt the urge to document our sighting.

The following are just photos from the trip.

Gulf_view Sunrise_beach Gulls

Glad to be home and just in time for a holiday weekend.  Make it a great one!