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Archive for November, 2010

(s)Mitten

Grove by Jared Flood (aka Brooklyn Tweed) is, in my opinion, pretty much the coolest pair of mittens ever devised and I am smitten. Add the fact that they’re currently being knitted up in Cascade Eco Alpaca and the result is pure heaven.

Last March I received as a gift from the cast of the school play a lovely gift certificate for my LYS, Butterfly Yarns. I had been eyeing the Eco Alpaca for over a year, and desperately wanted some of this fabulously soft, luscious yarn, but at $16 per 220-yard skein I really couldn’t justify the purchase on my fixed budget. The gift certificte gave me the excuse to splurge, and a couple of days later I walked out of the store with three skeins of the most wonderful yarn I’ve ever encountered.

When I bought the yarn (or not-hehe) I had a scarf design idea in mind for it–a design that looked really cool on paper but after swatching with cheap-ass Red Heart left me disheartened by the reality of how yarn actually behaves when under the influence of the combination of stitches I had planned to use. I needed a new plan, and that plan came in the form of a book I’d been given for my birthday at the end of March, Made in Brooklyn by Jared Flood.

As my most diligent readers know, I met Jared back in March and he was just a really cool guy in addition to being an amazing designer. I didn’t have his newly-released book yet, so I couldn’t do the starstruck thing and get his autograph, but I did shake his hand and tell him how much I’m inspired by his designs.

At the end of the month when my birthday arrived, guess what showed up at my doorstep? An autographed copy of Made in Brooklyn…one that was bought via Amazon from someone in Southern New Hampshire. Odds are, this very book was signed at the event where I met him. Thanks to my mother-in-law, I got my signed book from the event after all.

My favorite project from this book from the start was the Grove mittens. I love the intricate stitch-work on the back of the mittens, and I finally decided that the eco alpaca had to go toward these mittens and a matching scarf for me. The sizing is for an average woman’s hand but I kept it as is based on the fact that I have fairly small hands and a friend’s advice that anything knit in alpaca will get longer due to alpaca’s slip factor…it just doesn’t grab on like wool.

And  a note to Jared (yeah, sure, I bet he reads my little two-bit blog): Why you gotta write this pattern specifically for women? A dude could totally rock these mittens if done in the right color (such as charcoal gray). These will be my first ever fancy mittens, and I can’t wait to try them out in a New England winter. Guess I’d better go finish the second one before winter arrives….

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Bonding

Yesterday I wrote about my older daughter and today it’s the younger, not because I feel the need to give her as much air time, but because that’s just the way today played out.

There was about a three-hour block of time today that I was alone with Em due to the other half of the family going to see Harry Potter 7a (my unofficial title for it), and we had a delightful time. I got home from work just as my wife was leaving with Meg, and was ready for some good old fashioned quality time with Em.

We started out by taking our dog Murphy for a walk. As we enjoyed the crunch of leaves and crispness of the late fall air, we talked about school, life, and whatever else came up. I think time walking and talking with either of my daughters is possibly the most precious time of all, and I savored it. Upon our return home we played with the dog in our newly-raked back yard for a little while (he doesn’t like crunchy leaves as much as I), throwing sticks and chasing him around. I didn’t want it to end, but when Murphy goes up the steps to our apartment, it means he’s done. Period.

Once inside Em and I played a fun, silly, joke-filled game of Life. Board games are a favorite of hers, and we had a blast! We ate candy, laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. She also completely kicked my ass at the game, as usual. After this we decided to just knit. This seems common, but really isn’t in our family. Knitting, especially with the kids, is something we do while watching a movie. To knit and talk, and only that, is a very different experience from the norm, and it was truly beautiful.

I am thankful for my children, and thankful for the occasional opportunity to slow down, reconnect, and just enjoy one or the other or both of them. Despite comments a few months ago about the need to slow down, I have been very busy lately, and I need to make more time for my family. They deserve it, and we all need it.

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I have a preteen daughter, Meg, who loves craft projects but rarely finishes them. Life for her is all ideas and very little follow-through. Rare exceptions to this include projects that she is completely geeked out about, but make very little practical sense. Like making wings out of duct tape. The kid actually ran a lemonade stand with her sister this summer with the sole intent of buying duct tape to build wings that she was certain would actually make her fly. She finished them and thankfully did NOT proceed to jump off our second-story deck while wearing them.

Do not adjust your set. It's the yarn that's fuzzy, not the picture.

This past summer when my daughters and I made a pilgrimage to Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA,  this lovely, bizarre daughter of mine found a ball of yarn that she just HAD to have. This yarn was a funkadelic weird-ass bright orange and yellow yarn that looked like it would be a real pain to knit with, and it went for $11.00 per ball. She had no plan for it, and I knew it would just sit in the yarn stash if she bought it, but she LOVED this yarn and just HAD to have it! So I suggested fingerless gloves with that as the cuff and plain orange normal-looking yarn for the main body of the glove. Yeah, she’d look like a Fraggle, but it’d be just her style, and I already had an easy pattern for such a project.

Soon afterward she started the project. Or rather I started the project on her behalf. She’d never used double-pointed needles before, so she needed help. Then she was annoyed with the ribbing. Long story short, she did NOT want to knit this pair of fingerless gloves.

Fast forward 2 1/2 months to last night. Both daughters really wanted to go with me to my knitting group at Starbuck’s, mainly because Starbuck’s=sweets. My younger daughter already had a project going, but Meg had nothing despite being told that there was no way she’d be going to knitting group without a project. So the 3-rows-in, almost all knit by me, fingerless gloves that she had NO desire to knit became the sacrificial lamb. We decided together that maybe this project wasn’t such a good idea, but that a scarf made of that same funkadelic weird-ass yarn would be really cool and a good match for her quirky personality. SUCCESS! Not only did she knit several rows of the basic garter stitch scarf last night at knitting group, but she actually worked on it today. On her own time. Twice.

Motivation is everything, and in many cases what motivates us is something easy that doesn’t intimidate. Meg found a quick, easy project that will work great for this yarn (God knows not much else will) and is in love with it. Some people are motivated by challenges, others by easier tasks. The important thing to me in this case is that there is a project on the needles that she really loves working on, and that my $11.00 won’t go to waste. And thank God that bizarre yarn won’t be taking up space in my stash!

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The “Curtains” Scarf

As I’ve said before, I knit during rehearsals for the musical I’m in. I’ve been known to sit in music rehearsals with my score on my lap so that my hands are free to knit. I did some work on Bex and most of the work on sock #1 of the yet-to-be-completed pair of basic “rehearsal socks”, as well as a few cell phone socks while at rehearsals, mainly because that’s pretty much been my whole life lately. Of course, all of these projects involve fingering weight yarn and magic loop technique, which I LOVE.

The musical I’m in, Curtains, is a murder-mystery comedy involving the 1959 cast of the pre-Broadway tryout of Robbin’ Hood of the Old West (think bad Oklahoma rip-off). My character, Brick Hawvermale, is part of the ensemble. I have no spoken lines (aside from a full cast yell of “Horseshit”) but my character does a bit of singing and dancing both on and off the Robbin’ Hood stage.

I decided weeks ago that my knitting would have to find its way on stage and I found the perfect place, during a scene where we’re just standing there rehearsing some music. But for this scene it was necessary for me to find a different knitting project. Though circular needles existed back in 1959, they weren’t widely used (yes, I did my research). A cell phone sock would also obviously not have worked.

 

 

Starting the scarf backstage

 

So I decided to knit a scarf. I found some old clunky-looking stereotypical old-school single-pointed metal needles and some yarn leftover from I don’t even know what and started a scarf. I cast on and completed about 10 rows before even going on stage, so I could figure out just what the hell I was even going for in an effort to make the project seem well in-progress, as well as to make it pretty much automatic on stage. What I came up with was a seed stitch edging with a 6-stitch cable running down the middle. I’m not sure quite yet what I’ll even do with it, whether I’ll wear it, give it away, or sell it; I just know that it makes good performance knitting.

At least one cast member has criticized my determination to get my knitting on stage, stating that “a man would never be seen knitting in those days.” I agree, but we’re portraying a group of actors, and actors are different. Men were also very seldom openly gay in the 50s, but our script is in touch with the reality that many Broadway actors are and were, even then, gay, and in the safety of a group of fellow actors they are able to be themselves. So why not portray a man knitting during a closed rehearsal? A friend and I were expanding on this last night and I find it ironic that a subset of people who like to play “pretend,” can often be far more open and honest than the rest of the world. We admit to our quirks and exploit them in the name of entertainment. There are many people who just can’t understand that.

If anyone lives in MA, or can pretty easily get here this weekend or next, and wants a fun night out, I highly recommend coming to seeCurtains. It’s a fun, feel-good show about murder, mayhem, and “show people”. Just click the poster above for ticket information.

“We can’t picture being anything but show people. Civilians find the whole thing quite bizarre.” –Curtains

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