Monday, December 28, 2009

The Knitting Girl

My husband has been traveling for most of the year and I think he spent more time in Detroit than he did at home. However, somehow he found time to visit the local knitting store in Dearborn where he outdid himself in the thoughtful gift buying category and earned himself the coveted "Distinguished Husband of a Knitter" award. Under the tree this year was an Addi click needle set, 3 skeins of sock yarn, handcrafted stitch markers, and a set of magnetic ribbon pattern bookmarks!

All of this bounty forced me to look at my growing stash and WIPs. To this end, I have made my New Year's Resolution early. This coming year, I will finish my WIPs and knit from my stash. Of course, this does not mean I won't be starting new projects or purchasing oodles more irresistible yarn (I mean seriously, why set myself up for failure?) but it does mean that I will finish all my WIPs already on the needles in 2009 by the end of 2010 and look to my stash first when contemplating a new project.

What are my WIPs? I have a sweater for my husband that I'm currently knitting, two sock projects that are lacking their mates, a christening blanket that needs a lot of work, and a sweater that has been languishing away in my work basket underneath my current projects for over a year. I feel most guilty about the sweater as it only lacks sleeves and seaming. I stuffed it under my other projects to muffle its mournful lament and reproachful gazes. I took it out and looked at it about a month ago and I swear I could hear it rejoicing that it was once again being honored with my knitting needles. I reread the lace pattern and as I hurriedly stuffed it and the sweater back in the bottom of the basket, I'm sure I heard a soft sob.

To help motivate, I changed my Ravelry avatar to this lovely painting. "The Knitting Girl" was painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1869. In my mind, the woman is busy knitting on one of her WIPs and dreaming about visiting the new yarn store she heard was opening in the village down the road. I've also joined a new Ravelry group "2010 - the year of the WIP" which I hope will inspire me to finish my WIPs as I read, rejoice, and commiserate with the other WIP group members.

What projects do I have planned for the upcoming year besides my WIPs? My two sons have each requested sweaters, my husband would like more socks, a lace scarf for a retirement gift, and I want to make myself a sweater and socks. I looked at my stash and I have the yarn for all these projects! All this planning and organizing is hard work. To reward myself I think I will visit the Woolie Ewe in Plano tomorrow and take advantage of their 40% off sale to Ravelry members. After all, 2009 isn't over and if it's on the needles in 2009 it will be a WIP.

Happy Knitting!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Knitting by the Yard or Mile(s)

I think I'm constantly bemoaning the fact that there is never enough time for knitting. I work full-time so there goes my daytime knitting (except for the lunch hour and who needs to eat anyway) and in the evenings I'm usually writing papers for my classes. By the time I finish my homework I usually only manage to squeeze in a couple of rounds before toddling off to bed and repeating it all again the next day. I thought I wasn't accomplishing anything until I found the This handy widget lets you add the yardage from your projects and gives you a running total. Surprise, surprise! First, I had to enter the projects that I completed for the year and I was pleased to learn that I had actually completed 12 projects so far this year! After totting up the yardage for my 12 projects I found that I had knitted 7,246 yards this year. This may not seem like much to the turbo knitters I see on Ravelry but it blew my handknitted socks off! Here I was thinking I didn't have time to knit and I find that all those stolen moments added up to a lot of time. I considered this for a few awed moments and then I wondered how many yards were in a mile. A quick google inquiry later and I discovered that I had knitted over 4 miles. Wow! Now, that would be a large ball of yarn! Another google inquiry told me that the circumference of the Earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles which I converted to 43,826,728 yards. Hmmm, that leaves 43,819,482 yards to go. I better get knitting!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Intentional Tourist

Detroit may be known as "motor city" to most of the USA, but to this knitter it may prove to be an oasis of wool...a virtual paradise of innumerable knitting stores. My husband has been working a contract job in Dearborn since February and has been hinting that he would like me to visit. Now I wouldn't want to insult any Detroit residents, but visiting this industrial city has never been on my short list of cities I wish I had time to visit. That is until I purchased my 2009-2010 copy of Fiber Mania. The listings for yarn stores in the Detroit metroplex were more than you could shake your needles at. I immediately booked my flight and this past weekend I visited the Detroit area, 2 yarn stores, and my husband (not necessarily in that order).

My husband is a very patient and loving man when it comes to my passion to visit yarn stores and fondle wool. He only has a couple of requirements. First, a good yarn store should have a soft chair or couch where weary husbands can catch a quick nap or two while we wander through aisles, look into bins and baskets, and ooh and ahh as we stroke and pet the sensuous fibers. This makes good business sense for a LYS owner as the more time knitters have to look around, the more yarn we just have to have. Nothing puts a damper on a good yarn outing than a husband tapping his foot, looking at his watch or gasp...following you around making comments like "I thought you just looked at that one."

His next requirement is geared more towards me. I'm currently in a sock knitting frenzy and absolutely adore sock yarns. Being a good wife, a wife that wants to share her knitting prowess, and having a husband that likes wool...naturally it follows that I would make him socks. Sock yarn for the most part is bright and cheerful. It screams "look at me" "that's right I'm a hand knit vibrant unique sock that wasn't bought at the big box store." This is the type of yarn I like to knit. I told my husband that I would knit him socks as long as they weren't dull, boring, somber black, navy or brown. "That's not's DIGNIFIED" was his reply. Luckily I've managed to find a few skeins for his socks that while not exactly bright and cheerful, they aren't staid solid colors either.

Old Village Yarn Shop in Plymouth was the first yarn store we visited. Note-this LYS did not have the requisite comfy "husband" chair so for the most part he stayed outside on the sidewalk. Old Village Yarn is a nice cozy store crammed to the rafters with yarn. Bins and sheves made interesting little paths that encouraged you to go deeper into the aisles to see what treasures lay around the corner. I bought 3 skeins of sock yarn there. One for my husband, a semi solid blue/gray araucania ranco solid, and 2 sock yarns for me.

Knit a Round in Ann Arbor was the 2nd store we visited. This is a wonderful store and they did have the "husband" chair (although he spotted the wine store across the way so he never set foot in the store) Knit a Round is treasure trove of wonderful yarns. Large windows in the front fill the store with natural light allowing you to see the dizzying array of yarns in all their splendor. The owner of the store is very friendly and helpful and even volunteered to mark my book with all the "absolutely have to visit" stores and which ones had gone out of business. I bought 5 skeins here. One for my husband, a very nice Opal memory striping yarn in shades of brown with flecks of green, 3 skeins for me, and 1 for a friend.

I highly recommend both of these stores if you visit the Detroit metropolitan area. I plan on visiting my husband and Detroit again and will update readers on my continuos fiber quest.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Knitting in St. Peter's Square and Other Thoughts

pictures: upper -Baldacchino, lower - St. Peter's Square

Our Christmas pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican City is over and I'm left with the unbelievable memories of a trip of a lifetime. We spent a short 8 days in Rome but managed to visit St. Peter's Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Wall, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, Basilica of San Clemente, Abbe Tre Fontane, numerous local churches, Coliseum, Pantheon, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, and other sites too numerous to mention. The people were friendly, the food and wine incredible, and the highpoint was attending midnight mass inside the basilica.

Knitting fosters a sense of belonging and community and I found this to be true internationally as well. While in line in St. Peter's Square for midnight mass, I was knitting away on my Malabrigo Flying Vee scarf #2 that was to be a belated Christmas gift for my fellow knitting sister. The older woman in front of me kept glancing sideways at me and finally asked me if I spoke Italian. I replied that I spoke a little and did she speak any English. She didn't so we communciated in my limited Italian. It turns out she was also a knitter and admired my circular knitting needle which she had never used. She liked the idea that her stitches wouldn't fall off the needle. She was especially intrigued by the fact that they were square (I was using my new Kollage square circular needle) which she had never seen. The scarf I was knitting was the Flying V Scarf pattern by Iris Schreier. She liked the way it was on the diagonal and wanted to know the pattern. Whew! How to explain this in Italian?? My class didn't cover knitting terms. I knit the left hand Continental way but by using an exaggerated pantomimed English wrapping style along with my Italian I was able to demonstrate the pattern enough that she was nodding and taking notes! I took care to explain that in the beginning, the scarf would look like 2 triangles but that this was "va bene". She took notes on how to end the pattern and then we listened to the sweet acapella caroling of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word who were just ahead of us in line. I like to think that somewhere in a small town outside of Rome there is a knitting group starting their scarves as demonstrated by my new international knitting sister.

Before we left for our trip I scoured the internet and Ravlery for knitting stores in Rome. From reading on Ravelry and talking to my Italian teacher who is from Milan I found out that knitting isn't as popular as it is in the US. I finally located a few stores to try and find if we happened to be in area but unfortunately we never had time to actually find them. However, on one of our walks I noticed a basket of yarn outside the store. It was finely spun kid mohair and I ventured into the store to look for more. I have to admit it was the most unusual "knitting" store that I ever found myself in. The store was a small very cramped space with a few baskets of yarn behind the counter. What was ususual was that the rest of the store was filled floor to ceiling with unusual lingerie apparel and "specialty items". Even though I love to look at yarn, I couldn't bring myself to stay and fondle their yarn! I'm now thankful for all the abundant LYS in my area and that I don't have to shop for yarn in Victoria's Secret.

With the New Year upon us, it's time to make some resolutions. First resolution - do something with my stash. My stash has grown to 4 large rubbermaid totes and I'm starting to fill the cedar chest. My stash resolution is to organize! I want to be able to find the yarn I need for a project without rooting through all the tubs. This will also be a good opportunity to look it all over (gloat gleefully at my stash) and decide if I really want that particular yarn or not. I will set any rejects (sob, sniff) aside and plan a stash swap/trade day with my knitting sibs. Second resolution - finish some of the projects I have in various stages of completion. I'm surely not the only one with unfinished projects, am I? The Ralvelry Olympics was a good incentive to finish some projects so maybe I should think about having a "finishing" deadline and reward myself with a visit to a LYS. Projects to finish: my Italian sweater - I only have the neckline and 2 sleeves to knit..I got sick and had to withdraw from my Italian class so my incentive to finish wasn't there, my pair of socks redux - I finished one and it's a wee bit too short for my long toes so the incentive to complete the other isn't there...perhaps I could gift them to someone, and I also need to finish my black and gray cardigan - this is the furthest from completion so I will need a big incentive to finish it.

Happy knitting to everyone and Buon Natale and Buon Fortuna! Ciao.