…in which I complain a lot but end on a somewhat crazy up note.

I had a great post prepared for Christmas in which I showed off my beret in progress.  Using my new camera (brown)!

And then a few things happened.

First, I couldn’t get the pictures off the camera.  I’m no techno-boob but turns out my card reader doesn’t handle SDHC (high capacity) so I need a new card reader (I know I can get to my pictures other ways but I am a big fan of the card reader).  Matt and I eventually gave up and downloaded the proprietary camera software we love to hate, hooked up the camera directly for downloading, and, a day late, I prepared to finish off my post yet again.

But wait!

The photo was too large for WordPress to upload.  $&@*#&$^!  Again with this issue!  What a cute problem to have, eh?  The equipment is too sophisticated for my end use needs.  Gah.  This time I could not intuit how to change the file size on the camera – maybe I am a techno-boob? – Matt to the rescue.  Now my photos will be under 1 MG each.

Then my Christmas Day green Lisa beret progress photo was a bit washed out and I was unenthusiastic at that point about fiddling with a sub-standard photo, blah blah blah.

But it doesn’t end there.  Sometime between the first and second problem, I broke my Denise cable trying to scoot my stitches along.  I don’t think they were too tight but they may have been a bit tight and a bit crammed.  I hear Denise has a lifetime warranty so I will look into getting my cable replaced.

Meanwhile I still had a beret to finish!  At 96 stitches around of bulky yarn, it was a close fit on double points but I only had a few more rows to go before decreasing.  Merrily we move along…

And then yesterday.  On our third hour-plus (one way) car trip of the holiday season, I finished my beret.  Tried it on.  And it was…not very beret-like.  More like a regular hat with some odd decreasing at the top.  It needs to be deeper.  I should probably go up a needle size since my gauge was a bit tight (this didn’t seem like a bad idea when I started – and the gauge seemed to be right for the pattern).  Alas.  Let me say it again: ALAS!  I cannot start to think my beret series is cursed from the start because I am superstitious enough to let that eat away at me.  I wrote to the designer to ask for clarification on the bulky version gauge since that was not listed in the pattern.  I will get back on this horse.  I may need to break down and buy a new cable needle to do it with, however.

Meanwhile: I am knitting on the third restart of my son’s socks.  Turns out that even with measuring repeatedly and with all my experience making adult sized socks, I cannot grasp the fatness of my skinny boy’s feet.  This time around, I went from 48 sts around to 60 (4×2 rib) which seem too big but better that than too small (yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shephard Sock leftovers from Conwy).  Many people have suggested the size doesn’t matter because, with another squeaker on the way, the socks will fit someone, but I made the horrible mistake of letting Mr Z pick the yarn so these are HIS socks.  No matter what.

While I’m whinging, let me just add that it occured to me over the last couple of days that all my daily aches and pains aren’t actually going away.  That I wasn’t having “good days” and “bad days” because I ache all the time and, at best, it’s a matter of degree.  I cannot take ibuprofen so Matt is under orders to make me sit down with a heating pad when I get truly evil.  This will be my reality for the next  two and a half months.  I shall be insufferable to live with since pain makes me bitchy.  You have been warned.  Although I am going to try very hard to take a prenatal yoga class which I have much faith will help my aches and mood.

Speaking of nurse Matt, I am planning to cast on for this today.  It’s for his birthday in mid-January.  I’m trying to keep it a secret; he’s not hyper-observant.  But he might be reading here.  I can’t ask him if he reads the blog or he will come look at what’s going on.  The larger issue is that I don’t have a lot of time to knit it up and I think he would agree that finishing the cardigan is more important than surprising him.  Right now, I am pretty sure he doesn’t know.  He asked me two days ago when was I going to make him a sweater – in that slightly despairing tone because even he can see how many projects I am doing simultaneously.  But he is also not stupid and knows his WINTER birthday is imminent.

My long US 10 circular needle is ready and the yarn, Cascade Ecological (economical and beautiful) Wool is wound.  Do I cast on 232+ sts and knit the whole thing in the round with steeks like a super brave confident knitter?  Or do I do lots of pieces that need sewing up and facings and make me curse my earlier cowardice?  I think I am going to go with the first option (EEK!  Or maybe that should be STEEK!) because I am currently seaming Z’s sweater and gods I hate seaming.  If the only sewing I have to do is on the zipper then maybe it will be done–all the way done–not just the knitting–before spring.

Nine hours and seven minutes

Today was one minute longer than yesterday.

Here we are on the other side of the year’s longest night.  Yes, some of us, myself included, managed to stay up all night.  There was a tough time between about 5 and 6 am during a Wii Golf tournament when I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  We were pretty useless the entire next day but it wasn’t stressful.  Matt and I took turns napping (and so did the toddler, whew), leftovers were consumed.

The holiday projects came out as well as I could have hoped and predicted.  Noah’s fingerless mitts – Dashing – were finished just in time but Abby’s slipper socks were not.  I finished those later in the evening and they warmed her toes all the live long night.  Completely unfinished were Matt’s felted clogs and Zander’s sweater, which only needs seaming but that’s not knitting so this is a huge (mental) hurdle for me.  As of today, the clogs are done and I’m just tacking the soles together with a backstitch before tossing them in the washer (fortuitous since there’s lots of laundry to be washed).  I hope they will be dry enough for Matt to wear tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, at his mom’s house.  They will be sans leather patch soles for a while because, well, I have other things on my mind.  And maybe he will do that part himself.  The only reason we have leather in the house is because he does stuff with it, crafty Eagle Scout that he is.

I started my Moss Stich Beret yesterday using Tahki Donegal Tweed probably in #894 Dark Grey-Green. I’m already planning to mod the brim with a turning purl row and no second needle to pick up the provisional stitches for knitting together the hem.  I do hems like this all the time, love ’em, and will just pick up and knit the stitches as I go around.  It’s not really a pattern change, just a different way to do the same thing.

My sister gave me a crocheted hat with ear flaps for Solstice so my IMMEDIATE need for a warm head covering is relieved but… it’s not a beret so I am not satisfied yet.  I was explaining the beret series to Matt while we wheeled around on Saturday.  He was amused that I needed more than one but gamely went along with advising me on matching pattern and hat as I got started.  Also, I completely forgot that, being an Eagle Scout, he was also deeply into berets once upon a time.  I am assured he doesn’t want one (whew, they are still ALL for ME) but I know he needs a warm winter hat (like I need more books or yarn – he has a hat collection – I will show it to you one day – but it is true that woolly winter hats are underrepresented in said collection).  I am thinking Thorpe will be a welcome addition as well as easy to come up with some yarn laying around the house.

And omigod I almost peed my pants when I went to get the Thorpe link and saw the new pattern pair at Through the Loops: Lisa and Katie.  Will the slouchy hat love never end?  I am especially weak for Katie but unsure that a hat with that much slouch is good for me, whereas Lisa is a bit more like what I am immediately after.  Actually, Lisa is pretty similar to the Moss Stitch Beret with which I am currently engaged, only with some attractive star-swirling decreases.  Am I so fickle …?  Maybe.  The beauty of hat knitting is the shockingly small amount of yarn that goes into knitting them.  I could make myself a whole army of slouchy hats.  Bwhahaha!

Yarnivore, local edition

The greening of the yarn industry continues apace.  Spied over at the Knitter’s Review newsletter this week was a piece about Yarn CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture; scroll down to Socially Conscious Stashing).  Clara specifically mentions one such CSA operating in Michigan, Videnovich Farms.  Here’s their Etsy shop with yarn shares for sale – natural and plant-dyed (cosmos), how cool.  While the notion of a yarn CSA is intriguing, like sock clubs I cannot afford it without saving up.  Also, I would prefer to be able buy some samples first.

This is all good reason to attend one’s local fiber festival.  For me, it’s the Michigan Fiber Festival (you must click that link!  There’s a hilarious photo on the main page), about 2 to 2.5 hours away in Allegan, MI at the Allegan County Fairgrounds.  $5 to get in but bring a packed lunch–food offerings were glaringly lean.

Last year, Jenny and I made the trek and with my saved up cash, I eeked out two special purchases.  First was a GIANT hank of gorgeous mohair from Mohair in Motion of White Cloud, MI. Betty, the proprietor, dyes it all herself and she and her husband were helpful, delightful people.  Even more exciting was the alpaca blended sock yarn from Oak Meadow Alpaca Farm (Walkerton, IN) which comes in natural colors – I got a brown and a black, both skeins big enough to each knit a pair of socks.  Nancy, the proprietor, had the fiber milled as an experiment so I hope other people are as excited as I am about this and we will see it again next year.  I haven’t knit up either yet, such is life, but have ideas for both this winter, especially the alpaca.  I will have to take some pictures this weekend so we can all drool in technicolor.

The Fall

Warmer days (1 Oct 2008)
Warmer days (1 Oct 2008)

I found my (first) beret pattern.  I was paging through patterns on Ravelry, found this one and I will look no further.  This is IT:

Moss Stitch Beret

A near second is Norah Gaughan’s Sunflower Tam.  But I would like something pretty basic for my first hat.  And don’t tweed and moss st belong together like PB & J?

SE Michigan is buried under 6+ inches – our first big snowfall of the year.  And it is STILL snowing.  It will be a white Solstice, hah.

I had a breakdown last night over the Solstice projects.  This was perhaps inevitable and you may not pity me because I gave as good as I got to my poor cohabitants.  Hopefully this will be my only “moment” – I am older and wiser after all.  I now have 3 of 8 projects done and the remaining 5 are half done, or more.  To accomplish this, Matt spent half his evening working on Tessa’s gift (which is not a handknit) and my sister’s gift did a 180.  That is, I magically produced a finished object which had been just waiting for the right recipient (hint, see the photo in the previous post). I went from having not even started her gift to finished in less than 5 minutes.  Whew.

I feel a lot better.

I also take Matt’s point, over Forage Night dinner (ie, leftovers), that I had sworn I wasn’t going to do handmade gifts this year.  That I was going to take a break, take it easy.  He’s right. I completely forgot I promised that to myself.  When did I change my mind?  I think it was a slow evolution.  I was always going to knit something for Matt and Zander, I think a hat and socks at first.  Then I made that deal with Noah and Abby and Abby’s part became a Solstice gift (Noah’s was his birthday legwarmers).  My mom’s gift was a happy accident.  Then I must have convinced myself I had enough time to make gifts for everyone else.  Except that I KNOW BETTER.  I know I need to 3-4 months to work on all of these to do it without insanity.  Sheesh.  AND I keep telling myself I should make birthday gifts, not Solstice gifts, so I can spread the love throughout the year.

Oh well, better luck next year.

Excuse me, I need to lock my computer in the basement and get back to knitting.  And watching Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys for the 351st time.

Madly, Deeply

That is how much I want a beret.

I don’t wear hats but in college I tried berets and found my exception.  Whether or not they look good on me (most hats do not) is moot – *I* like how they look on me.  Or how I imagine myself to look in one.  Whatever.  They are wool and they cover my head and I will wear them.  (I feel like I am reasoning with my three-year-old self here.)

Alas, after going through a few of the plain black wool variety which I probably picked up at Target, I lost the last one and never replaced it.

This was all before I took up knitting in 2002.  Why have I not made myself headgear?  (Calorimetry doesn’t count, especially because I rarely wear it.)  Two years ago, I made Solstice hats for my family.  But not myself.  (Do not mistake me for the selfless knitter.  I just have a short attention span.  Re: multitudinous projects on the needles!)

This beret re-obsession has been sneaking up on me slowly this autumn.  Patterns coming out which catch my eye.  Mentions that slouchy hats are fashionable.  Me walking sloooowly across a windy November parking lot with toddler in tow, acknowledging that my jacket hood is but a windy cave.

A few days ago I realized I would be lucky to see the Winter Solstice sun rise without casting on for a beret.  I will try.  There is miles of yarn to go before that night…

I want to make a plain (and FAST) one first, then maybe Gretel, lovely Gretel.  Also I am charmed by the multicolored tam so that will be number three.

The first sign that this is an obsession: one is not enough.  The second? Instead of eating or dressing my child, I go spelunking for yarn:

The other morning our newly replaced halogen bulb burnt out (good thing they come in 2s) so in the dawn twilight I was bent over the cedar chest in the living room with a flashlight digging for the second skein of Donegal Tweed (dark foresty green).  In the process I found two skeins of Cascade Pastaza (dusky peacock).  Two hats worth!  And when I finish Equinox sometime in the next millennia, all the leftover Berroco Ultra Alpaca (I heart you, you warm softie!) for the colorwork in the yoke can go into a tam.  Maybe one of these?  Which are so beautiful (albeit a tad pastel) that I am weak in the knees.  And, apparently rhyming.  Perhaps another sign of obsession?

My enjoyment of picking out projects + yarn is second only to the actual knitting – at least while the knitting is fun, not the slogging to get it done part.  That is one measure better than seaming, the thing I must tolerate for my beloved hobby.

Finishing my Solstice knits before the Solstice looks dire but I do not fear my family’s disappointment or finger-pointing.  I have to get them done so I can make a beret so I don’t get a terrible cold for which I cannot take any medication!  And, ye gads, what if one of them thinks they can keep the knitting needles in their holiday package?  And what if said needles were the ones I need to make my beret?!?

Back to knitting.  Before I make myself cry.

Photographer's Assistant
Photographer’s Assistant