Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Blogging hiatus. Just in time for my Ravelry invite.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


10 Things I Love About Yarn

1. Range of texture and size. I can't believe the talent in design and spinning out there, from Kureyon to Nashua solids to Araucania hand-dyed. The versatility of wool alone is enough to boggle the mind.

2. Heaters. I don't care what weight or project we're talking about, if I need something solid I want heaters before anything else because of the added depth and visual interest of minute color variation.

3. Sock yarn. Could there be anything cooler than a hand-knit pair of socks?

4. Renewability. Sheep can be raised humanely, fed organically, their fleece can be cleaned and then processed into yarn, and the sheep go right back to growing more hair. Try getting cotton to do that. And don't get me started on petroleum-based anything.

5. Infinite design capability. You imagine it, it can be done. No matter how cool or not cool, no matter what shapes, styles and colors are in vogue, there will always be yarn to knit and people coming up with new ways to knit it.

6. Stashing. I can buy it, hoarde it, buy more and forget what I've already purchased, and still come home to something fun and creatively inspiring. Heady retail therapy, that is.

7. It makes people want to communicate. Look at all of us, talking about a sheep (or other animal or plant) by-product with no end in sight. We're community-building, which I think is brilliant. For me, one of the most satisfying parts of knitting is having other people to share it with.

8. Sharing the love. I can knit up gifts for holidays and birthdays, or just because, and then I get to give it to whomever I intended. They may not "get it", but I know how much time and energy I put into whatever "it" is, which means a lot to me.

9. Yarn stores. The fumes alone are enough to make a person buy cashmere and then roll in it.

10. FO's. I am becoming much more interested in the process of knitting, or "the path", but I will always have a special place in my heart for a freshly sewn and/or blocked item. That feeling of accomplishment is really lovely.

PS I'm only 450 other knitters away from my Ravelry invite. Eek!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Getting My Zen On

A Heavy Load

Two traveling monks reaced a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn't step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn't help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn't thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, uable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn't even thank you!"

"I set the woman down hours ago," the older monk replied. "Why are you still carrying her?"

- excerpted from Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

As I drove to work today, I was verbally assaulted by a non-knitter that obviously didn't realize the sock in my right hand was only being worked on at long red lights. I was furious, mostly because I had to go through that whole adrenaline reaction thing one does when threatened. I didn't think about it at all while I was at work for three hours, but as I headed back to my car I began to contemplate how to handle the incident. I went through a series of steps:

1. Totally flaming pissed. Who did he think he was!? Darn hypocrite probably drives intoxicated, talks on his cell phone and drives, or picks his nose and scratches his balls instead of paying attention to the road. He certainly didn't have the traffic in front of him on his mind while he was screaming at me. I'm gonna rip out this guy's innards and post them on my blog.

2. Reflective. Maybe this man just had a really shit day and lost control of his filters. Maybe he forgot his meds this morning. Regardless, he's a muggle with no clue that it takes two hands to knit, and I don't exactly have a spare 3rd to drive with.

3. Not my job. This one took me a while to get to. The excerpt from above finally came back to me from a book I've been reading the little guy. No matter what this guy's issue, it isn't up to me to react, fix it, or get revenge. I plain old don't have to carry his anger.

There's a reason why zen is a life-long learning process.

* * *

For a while band-aids were a favorite of the little guy. Remember the three musketeers and their yellow forehead decos? Well, we've run out of them and so Little J has moved on to my panyliners. He has no idea where they actually belong, since I virtually never use them. Which means to him that they belong above the eyebrows as well.

* * *

Today was a yarn spree at Twisted! Loot:

Tofutsies in "Foot in the Door" colorway.

Kureyon in #40 for a Lizard Ridge-like scarf for a gift.

More Kureyon (#182) for Lizard Ridge blanket.

More sock yarn. Strawberry Fields Forever indeed.

While I was shopping and winding, I chatted with Shannon about various other things they were thinking of carrying and sock yarns we both liked knitting up. She's spoken with Claudia of Wollmeise and has found out that there may not be any more wholesaling of that yarn. Boohoo! I led her to Fly Designs Lacewing and Monarch, which I'm hoping they'll consider carrying. It was a great afternoon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Number 100

The only reference to that title in this post will be this: Aspire To Knit has reached 100 posts. Amazing. I must be doing something right, because I still like it here.

I know this is sick, but I checked my Ravelry place-in-the-queue again, and now it's down to 1244. Oo, oo, oo. Sweet.

Knit night was really great tonight (yes, I know, but my husband said it was okay to go on our anniversary.) because there was a huge group, about half of which were new faces. We did a great little round of intros, so I finally got to learn a bunch of names. You don't get that when you're the only new face and everyone else knows each other. I also learned a bit about the shop and some of the folks that have been around since the beginning, and the more I know the better I feel about this little knitting community.

I also learned tonight that Blue Moon is going to have a booth at OFFF this year. I think that means I am required to go. As if elann.com weren't giving me enough budgetary problems already.

Today was also the day I learned what it means to be utterly bored with all the projects on needles. HIAH (say hee-ah) socks are driving me nuts because the yarn is not enjoyable to knit with. I started the second of a plain purple pair, made a few more rows on the laceweight Pie R Square shawl, tore out and redid the heel of the felted slippers. I think what I'd really like is to get a few more skeins of the new Kureyon colors from KB and work a few more Lizard Ridge squares. By now you're all as bored as I am.

Really, I should just nip off and get some sleep.

This Is Me Totally Crapping Out On A Title

Because I can. (And often do. I have Title-block.)

Casting on has never been so much fun. I happened on Knit One, Felt Too when we were at the library for the first time in a few months. There it was, just sitting on the shelf instead of some other knitter's hot little hand. This book, which has been on my wishlist for...a long time...has a fab little pattern for knitted slippers. The whole thing knits up like a huge, stripy sock, heel flap and all. I'm even going to do paired decreases and kitchener the toe.

I checked my place in the Ravelry queue - only 1300 to go!!!! That's down from about 4K when I first signed up. I'm getting very excited to see what all the fuss is about.

I discovered elann.com last night because one of the Knitsmiths posted about a pattern she was going to do for her baby girl. Eeek! First off, I'm going to do the Pinwheel sweater for myself. And if you scroll through their yarn you'll find they have a Denim yarn like Rowan's, but at half the cost. I could go on and on, but...I'm just curious, was I the only one who didn't know about that site?

I wonder if there's a place for yarn addicts to get rehab.

BTW, happy 3rd anniversary, honey!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PDX LYS Map!!!

Thanks to Judy, there is a map in existence for those of us with serious yarn acquisition tendencies here in Portland. Viola!

Bit By Bit

Somewhere in the dim recesses of memory is the day I learned to knit. There are impressions of scratchy wool, some of it deep ruby red and some of it dark emerald green. I can remember sitting in our dark garage because it was cool there, and looking over at my younger brother's scarf. I was shocked at finding it much longer than mine. At first I was annoyed, but as he progressed I began to inwardly cheer him on because I was excited to see how his scarf turned out. I'm not sure what happened to our projects, though I know I never finished mine.

In all the time since that day about twenty-some-odd years ago it hadn't occurred to me until I was stuck at home pregnant and had nothing else to do that knitting could be productive. The idea that it could be fun didn't occur to me until still more recently. As I blog, and try new patterns, and attempt new techniques, I find more and more to be excited about.

Why the navel-gazing?

Yesterday, in order to make Lizard Ridge an easier pattern, I taught myself to knit backwards. I just reasoned it out, and viola, I didn't have to bother with the linked tutorial from the pattern page.

Today, it finally occurred to me that I have 2.25 mm, 2.5 mm, and 2.75 mm needles. Why not have projects on them all at the same time instead of finishing one sock at a time?

In the process of learning to knit (english), then learning to knit another way (continental), and then another (backwards!), I've reinforced my own supposition that knitting is really a skill we aspire to and acquire knowledge about over time. If we organized knitting into a series of classes and called it a Knitting Degree (BA or BS?), it could take lifetimes to attain a mastery of the craft. Some of us do it casually, and some of us do it professionally, but all of us share in a craft with a beautifully rich history and a huge knowledge base.

That first blanket I made for Little J while he was still a tadpole (bless it's little acrylic soul) was all about getting a job done. As my desire to just knit, as opposed to finish something, has grown, so has my stash and my yearning for good fiber. Now I find I stockpile good sock yarn as if I were knitting for the Fourth Infantry Division. Can you imagine some stout soldier wearing turquoise, rose and brown self-striping socks? At the same time, I don't care how many socks are on needles along with shawls, sweaters, hats and blankets in progress, as long as I can knit a few rows on one of them each day.

This is my little ode to my own growth as a knitter. I'm still aspiring, but that has grown too. Who knows, maybe I'll test drive a spinning wheel before the snow flies, or order some undyed Louet and give hand-painting a try. I do know that for as long as I'm having fun and learing something new, you'll be hearing about it.

Monday, September 3, 2007


(I kept thinking "finishing school", but how dorky is that?)

Lizard Ridge Ver. 1.0 block number one in color #182, as showcased by my sweet boy who adores getting his picture taken. Who also adores taking pictures:

As we were making pasta yesterday.

TMI Alert

Now, a toilet training story. I should preface this with the acknowledment that losing the diapers isn't something we've been pushing very hard. Hub and I aren't antsy to have another babe, so, as long as Little J isn't wearing diapers when he's forty, "who cares" is pretty much my philosophy.

Occasionally, (okay, after every bath), Little J gets to run around in the buff. One afternoon, I let it go on for a while because it was 90 degrees or so outside. Out of nowhere, the little guy tears off to the bathroom, and I hear banging around with the potty seat. I checked on him to find he'd flipped up the lid, seated himself and was using the facilities (sans mess!!!!!) all on his own.

For the last week or so, he spends most of the day nekkid, and runs off to use the toilet whenever he feels the urge. So far, not a single accident. He has started getting himself up on the big toilet without help. Needless to say, when this guy figures something out, he does it completely.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm Your Sweety

After hand-making some pasta for the first time today, with my new Italian pasta roller deeply discounted from work, we were perusing the dessert section of one of my Italian cookbooks. Hub happened on something called Italian custard, an airy little soup of egg yolk, sugar and, mmmmm, alcohol. Explained below.

Braised Plums with Sweet Cream and Italian Custard


4 egg yolks
4 tbsp caster sugar
5 tbsp dessert wine of choice

To make caster sugar, place 5 tbsp sugar in a food processor, turn on and walk away for about five minutes.

I chose an Austarlian Tokay for my dessert wine because it was something I had on hand. It has a wonderful nutty and toffee flavor that is perfect with fall fruits. Typically, any Botrytised dessert wine like Sauternes or Tokay, or something like a Late Harvest, Ice Wine, or Beerenauslese, will all work for this recipe. Cook with what you would also like to drink.

Heat a 4 qt sauce pan with 2 cups water to boiling. At the same time, combine the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl well suited to act as a double boiler and whip until pale yellow. Mix in wine. Place bowl over hot water and continue to whip until mixture is light and frothy and coats the back of a spoon thickly (about 6-8 mins). Remove from heat.

(Okay, here comes the part of my own invention.)

Braised Plums:

6 or 7 firm plums, pitted and quartered
1 tbsp butter
3 or 4 tbsp dessert wine
1/4 packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat butter in a wide (preferably cast-iron) saute pan. Add plums when butter just begins to brown, cover. Saute for 5 minutes, stir, cover. Add a little water if things get to dry or crispy. (We're going for tender here.) Saute another 3 mins, add dessert wine, sugar and cinnamon. Stir until plums well coated, cover and reduce to medium low heat. When plums are desired consistency (according to taste) and sauce has begun to thicken, remove from heat.

Whip 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small bowl, adding any remaining caster sugar.

To serve, spoon plums into shallow bowl, followed by generous helping of custard, top with a spoonful of sweet cream.

This recipe might also be good with very tart apples (fresh from the orchard!) or firm peaches. Adjust wine flavor and cooking time to suit fruit choice.

Could serve 4 people, though we ate it all up between the two of us.

Control Issues

Found myself in Northwest Wools yesterday, looking for color #209 Kureyon. Got it. And another. And several others in the double digits that I haven't seen anywhere else. I had to pick just two colors. And this:

I completely lost my ability to say "no" the second I picked up this skein. The turquoise is a bit washed out, but I think you can still get the overall idea. Sock yarn, bien sur. Drool. (Webs has it. Although their color #301 looks silcherooney like my #301.)

Check out K.B. and scroll down a bit to the pics of the Customer Trunk Show. That chunky person in the purple tank (recognize the red/brown log cabin?) is me! Scary.

Been working on this.

And this. (Weird striping going on there.) Hell in a A Basket socks are very interesting to knit, but the yarn doesn't show the pattern very well. Shibui sock is beginning to remind me a bit of cotton.

And this as well. Do you think maybe I need more distractions?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chronicles of Yarnia

(hey somebody actually named a blog that...wow)

Discovered: Woodland Woolworks is only an hour drive away. Road Trip!

Coveted: new colors of Kureyon being showed of by a fellow sock enthusiast and knit-nighter, purchased from a shop I wouldn't normally frequent. Currently contemplating when I can get down there and if I should bribe the kid with a trip to the toystore across the way.

Found: my Ergo carrier, which we've used since the little guy was a few months old and therefore has more sentimental value than I expected, at Twisted. I left it there after a little shopping spree and it took me a week to remember where the pack might be. Shannon and Emily, the lovely and kind owners, were very sweet about the whole business. And of course I acquired more sock yarn.

Mason-Dixon Baby Kimono WIP. Already working the second side and I've found a shop that sells Cotton Fleece (and Cotton Fine! Woot!) only a fifteen minute drive away, so I'm plotting my next move on altering the pattern for a jacket in size 6.

Do you think teaching myself to quilt will be as easy as teaching myself to knit was? I guess we're going to find out.