Archive for November, 2009

The Horntail

I’ve been spending years…decades…okay, it’s actually only months, trying to find THE pattern for my Harry Potter-inspired Hungarian Horntail sock yarn; a pattern worthy of such a noble yarn; a pattern to show off this mean, tough dragon in all its scaly glory and I HAVE FOUND IT!!

And according to Cookie A., it’s a women’s sock pattern.

But I’m used to having to be in touch with my feminine side. After all, I have spent most of my life as “one of the girls” despite major differences in plumbing, hair, and general shape.

The pattern (cue angels’ singing) is called Pomatomus, and despite the fact that it’s named after the genus of the blue fish (Cookie paid way too much attention in Science class) it looks remarkably like dragon scales to me. Every photo I’ve seen, only a few of the over 3,000 projects in the Ravelry galleries, shows a woman wearing it, yet I feel this is the perfect sock for a man with dragon-themed yarn.

So I’ll try it and see…after I finish my Christmas knitting.


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Two Years In

My 2nd “knittiversary” has arrived with little fanfare. It was two years ago this Thanksgiving weekend that I decided I wanted to learn how to knit, so I could make a scarf for myself. Here’s a list of 9 things I’ve learned in those two years, in no particular order.

1. How to knit in the round using both circular and double-pointed needles.

2. The knitting bag must go everywhere with me, because you never know when you might need to wait. And wait. And wait.

3. People generally think it’s really cool to see a man knit…except a few men who hold too dearly their stone-age “macho” attitudes.

4. Knitting binds people together in a way I have rarely found elsewhere.

5. I hate picking up stitches. One of the few techniques I just absolutely detest. This is why I knit socks using the “Strong Heel”…no picking up required.

6. Wool yarn rocks. Alpaca rocks harder…because it’s softer.

7. How to design my own sweater. Loads of fun.

8. Ravelry is amazing! I have found patterns, connections with other knitters, and it has saved my butt when I ran out of yarn and needed someone to buy it off of.

9. I have apparently had mad knitting skills lying dormant for years, and never realized it until 2 years ago. Now I can’t imagine a life without knitting.

I didn’t really choose the number 9 for my list, it just kinda’ chose me. But with this list of things I have learned, there are also things I would like to learn in the next year:

1. Cables. I have been afraid of cables for 2 years. I have decided that my next project has to have cables in it, in order to force me to learn.

2. As many patterns, textures, etc. as I can handle, in order to build my design repertoire.

3. How to spin. Of course, this requires expensive equipment, but maybe I could find this used…anyone selling?

4. As one who is into organic, all-natural, sustainable living, I would love to learn to be more self-sufficient in my yarn/knitting. Local sheep or other animals, spinning my own yarn, to make my own garments. My ultimate goal is to even have my own animals, but that won’t happen in the next year.

I would like to thank all of you who read my blog regularly. If any of you have advice, books, information, or questions regarding my goals for the next year of knitting, I welcome them. You are my knitting community and I am grateful for you.


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Last night I had a truly memorable evening.

As part of the Ivy Chord Coffee House concert series, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, MA hosted a concert by legendary contemporary folk singer Christine Lavin last night. Now, I admit that I didn’t really know much about Christine before this event, but after doing a bit of research have realized that she has quite a large, loyal following.

And with good reason.

The concert was wonderful! Ms. Lavin’s music is infused with creativity, a genuine heart, and a twisted sense of humor. I left that concert feeling incredibly happy, and was stunned that almost 3 hours had passed!

But the coolest part is a tradition she apparently started fairly recently: the pre-concert knitting circle (click this link for info.). See, Christine took up knitting about 7 years ago, and just loves it! She’s especially fond of knitting anything sparkly…the item she was working on last night had an occasional row of sequins in it. So one hour before each concert she invites knitters to come in and knit with her. I ended up sitting right next to her for most of the time, and we had delightful conversation. She’s truly a unique and fun lady, and it was an absolute privilege to hang out with her and talk knitting.

At the end of the knitting circle she gives away prizes. Last night’s were for “largest project”, “newest project”, “most unusual knitting project” (went to a lady who was doing cross-stitch), etc. While I didn’t win a prize from her, I did score a pair of size 10 light-up needles that my friend Eileen (a knitter on an epic scale, and just all-around wonderful person) was trying to give to Christine. She said she already had some, so Eileen gave them to me (a blog post for another time).

Any of my knitting friends in Maine should check out her show this Friday, Nov. 20th at 7:30 at the Waldo Theater in Waldoboro. Print the page I linked to above and bring it and your knitting an hour early. You’ll be glad you did.

Lavin 1

That's me in the hat, with Christine Lavin on the right (in tan)

Lavin 2

My dear friend Eileen offering Christine the gift of Light-Up Needles.

Lavin Sensitive

At the end of the concert, she invited any men of the audience to be her back-up singers for "Sensitive New Age Guys". She had no idea what she was getting into. That's me in the middle with the "laser eyes."

Many thanks to Eileen Cummings for providing me with these photos.

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A couple of days ago I wrote about the Frilled Bind-Off but sadly was a slacker and didn’t post any photos. For this I am truly sorry. Thanks, Cheryl, for keeping me honest. After all, what good is it to write about a fancy-looking technique if there aren’t any pics to show what it looks like?

So here it is, up close. Since the cuff is 2×2 ribbing, it’s very thin in the top. This shows the frill pretty well, but also makes this look like a sock for an American Girl doll.

Photo 89

This shot with my fingers in it makes the cuff look a little more substantial, but if I pulled it too tightly you wouldn’t really be able to see the frilliness (which, according to WordPress’s spell-checker is not a word…and neither is “WordPress’s”.)

Photo 88

So there you have it. I’ll try to do better on the photos next time, Cheryl.

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The Frilled Bind-Off

One of my projects right now is a pair of Yoga Socks for my daughter. The pattern is from “The Little Box of Socks”, one of my favorite sock resources. The Yoga Socks have no heel or toe, so that the wearer can still grip the floor well for Yoga, dance, or in my daughter’s case, Taekwondo. I’m using Knit Picks hand-painted sock yarn in the Evil Stepmother colorway, a lovely mix of deep purples and pinks.

The sock is worked from the bottom up, and at bind-off, where I am right now on sock #1, calls for the “frilled bind-off”. I love it. This particular bind-off calls for a K1 M1 alternation, which has the effect of doubling the stitches on bind-off. The result is that the top of the sock is frilly and wavy, which I think my daughter will love. I don’t know that this bind-off would work well for most socks, due to its looseness, but as the cuff of this sock is done in K2 P2 ribbing, it’s plenty tight enough to handle such a loose bind-off.

The only problem is that it takes forever!

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400 Hits!

I am happy to say that according to WordPress, Needles and Balls has officially hit the “400-hit mark” as of today. Thanks, everyone for visiting my little blog, some of you quite faithfully, to check out what’s going on in my knitting. I am greatly enjoying this experience.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

A while back I blogged about my first experience with having two projects at one time. Surprisingly, it’s working well. I actually love having a bit of variety. If I get bored with the socks, I go to the sweater. When the sweater starts driving me nuts, I go back to the socks (but only when my daughter is asleep, since they’re a Christmas present for her). But a friend commented that I may be teetering on the edge of the rabbit hole, and that there’s no going back.

Boy, was she right.

Photo 87

I have now taken up a third project.

Project #3 is the Bunny Hop Baby Blanket by Barbara Breitner, and NO, I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT EXPECTING ANOTHER KID. Was that clear enough? This blanket is for a coworker (is it just me, or does that word seem bovine in nature?) who is expecting a new family member in a couple of months. While I was at our church fair this weekend I found the perfect soft, green yarn (perfect because I have no clue of the gender…haven’t bothered to ask) for $.50 per skein. This is when the decision was made to jump further down the rabbit hole.

But as I have been wondering how I’ll manage staying focused on 3 projects at a time, I’m already planning replacement projects for when I finish one of the things I’m already working on. The more I’m working on, the more ideas I have for other cool projects to fill my time with!! This may be too much for me to handle in my already busy life.

I think I need a beer.

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