*Left Coast Knits

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap. -Cynthia Heimel

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wine, socks, antiques, and Noni bags.

Ok, so I promised another post on Saturday, and here it is Monday, and I am just getting around to it. But I have been busy! And not just with knitting... Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went to an antique show, where I got these lovely old spools of silk thread- each is about four inches tall. The thread is such a pretty color that it is sorely tempting to use it for something (it is pretty thick- I could knit it!)- fortunately, there isn't too much of it, and it is smelly (but only if you put your nose right into it- don't be thinking that my whole house smells like stinky silk thread now!). So- temptation averted. That was close,though!

After the antique show I went to an open house at a local winery, Thomas Coyne Vineyards, in Livermore, CA., where I got to bottle my own wine. Supremely fun! You get the bottles and put them on a machine that fills them, and then you get to use a corking machine to cork them. Then you paste on some labels, and viola- you can now drive straight home and crack them open. The winery is uber-cool too- it is kind of out in the middle of no-where, and is very old and wild west looking, with sheep and wild rabbits running around. Yee-ha!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had joined a Cascade Fixation sock KAL (that's Knit ALong, for those of you who are not in with the in crowd). The pattern provided was a little, errr, small, so after some trial and error (mostly error) I came up with a stitch count that would work for my less-than-ladylike feet (which my mother has been known, on occasion, to refer to as clodhoppers). The socks are only ankle high, so they should move along quickly, despite their gargantuan sizing. I have been on a sock bender lately- socks are a great way to break up the excitement of knitting miles and miles of stockinette on my curtains- too much of that and a girl is liable to burst into flames. So while I have been working on these, I dyed some more sock yarn. That pink one in the middle is just a tad bright (the picture is giving you a headache, isn't it?) so I have to overdye that one just a little to bring it within the range of what humans can look at without screaming. Other than that particular one, it all came out pretty nicely- I have enough for two pairs of socks with color coordinated heels and toes. I dyed some yarn for my Secret Pal too (another that is tooo bright and needs to be beaten into submission) and some spinning fiber (lest I should run out of knitting projects).

Finally, I have another Noni bag felted and waiting for someone to take pity on it and give it a zipper, handles and a lining. Pretty snazzy, huh?

See, I told you I have been busy!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Unfashionable socks.

My husband injured his back last Saturday, and as a result he has been working from home all week. Well, today, we decided to run out for some Starbucks, and when we got back, guess what we found?

Kitty had decided to help him with his work. Now, was that nice of her or what?

So my good friend Ceallach went to London (lucky her!) on business, and she had the good fortune to have a few free moments (you can read about them here) in which to go yarn shopping... look what she brought me! A whole load of Colinette Prism, Rowan Calmer, and Rowan Linen Drape. I think that each will become a sweater this coming fall- the Linen Drape will likely become a cardigan with a lacey edge, the Prism will be a simple fitted pullover, and I am not sure about the calmer yet, but of course I have some ideas and lots of Rowan Mags to help me out!

A few days ago, I bought some cute socks. Yesterday, when I went to put a pair on, I made a horrifying discovery... my socks are a Fashion No Show. Hmmm. If I had known that I definitely would not have purchased them- I mean, a girl needs all the help she can get, right? And the last thing she needs is to be undermined by unfashionable socks. Ok, seriously, what was the person who designed the label thinking?

DillyDally Knitter and I wend Secret Pal shopping in San Francisco yesterday! Of course, I can't show you what we bought, but rest assured that if you knew our secret pals, you would be way jealous of them. On a side note, DillyDally is a big giant enabler- she sent me a link to the Cascade Fixation Sock KAL, and of course I had to join. More on that (plus my second Noni!) tomorrow!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New tote!

Viola- finito!

Well, Ok, I am not 100% sure that it is finished- I may add some ribbon embellishments or something, but then again maybe not because that would fancy it up quite a bit. Anyway, it did not quite felt to size, but I got a nice tote out of the deal.

It was somewhat difficult to line- it flares out quite a bit at the top, so unless you are willing to put the time into a lining with darts (which I will no doubt do next time, since the lining bugs me) your lining will have lots of extra fabric at the middle, like mine. I love the lining fabric, which is good becuase I have tons of extra!

So this is my knitting tote for my knitting group tonight!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Like a Noni in the Sun

Ok, I am in love.

So I finished knitting my Noni last night. This morning I got to felting it- fun fun fun! It is supposed to be felted with the hottest water that your washer can produce, so I turned off the cold water to my washer- you know, to help things along. There were all of these recommendations to keep taking it out and checking it, etc., but it felted very very nicely. Ok, so it is not exactly the dimensions that it was intended to be- it is more of a Noni tote than a Noni bag, but whatever. It is supremely cool.

Here it is drying in the sun- I am so excited about it that while it dried I made a piece for the bottom to keep it flat, and marked the lining so it is ready to be cut and sewn together. I also located some black piping to trim the top with. Tonight is assembly night! This entire project took only four days to knit (knitting late in the evening, only- not knitting all day for four days (don't I wish I could knit all day for four days!), and I have had barely any knitting time lately. Next I am going to make a pink and orange striped roll bag with DillyDally Knitter (except hers is going to be pink and green, I think) and then another elephant foot bag, but in tangerine. Oh, and I am going to fool with the dimensions- this one came out to be 24.5 inches around by 9 inches tall, and it is supposed to be 22 inches around by 11 inches tall. More like the average bag, rather than the supermodel bag... finished pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Noni madness


Once again, I have been slaving away. Also once again, though, I have managed to squeak in some time to knit and I fiiiinally finished my Koigu cardigan. Here it is in all of it's glory- and may I point out that it has been about 90 degrees out every day since I finished it? Oh well- it will be just the thing for fall in mid November when it will finally get cold enough again here to wear it! I do have to re-sew on the buttons- they way I did it you see the little knots and thread ends if the button band flips over. I know that there is a way to do it so it so that those things don't show (all of the items that I currently own, with the noted exception of my cardigan, are lacking this feature)- I just have to look up what, exactly, it is.

So I was merrily knitting along on my curtains, when I was distracted by the knowlege that DillyDallyKnitter had a Noni Bag pattern. I was thinking about that pattern, and thinking about it, and thinking about it. So then I had to look at their web site. One thing led to another, and I had to make one. Or two or three. So far, I am only part of the way through the first, but I have yarn for two more. Let's hope that I like the finished product- otherwise I have lots of Cascade 220 to use up!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hi Secret Pal!

Woo hoo- I heard from my secret pal today! (Hi Secret Pal!) She seems excellent, and according to her she is stranded on a desert island with only Wilson the volleyball for companionship. Oh, and her computer, which I must say is extremely convenient- now she can order sunscreen and bikinis via the internet when she needs to, plus umbrellas for all of the coconut drinks that she must drink.

I have been practically chained to my desk for the last few days writing a proposal for a big e-learning project and making animated tape measures and stuff for another project, but in between the tape measures and the formal writing I did manage to get just a tiny bit of knitting done. I re-did my cardigan button bands (it was a no-go on the holy intervention) as applied button bands and went down a needle size too, which worked out to look a lot less sucky than the original. I knit the collar separately too, and am about 1/3 of the way through sewing it on using the
free loop back stitch method illustrated so well by Skinny Rabbit. So finally, it is almost done.

And, guess what I got in the mail yesterday (besides a 3d studio max training guide)? Yep- it's a vintage Patons Beehive yarn holder. Ooooooh aaaaaaaaahhhhh. My yarn will feel all snuggly in there.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Secret Pal 8 starts in a week or two, and I know that my secret pal is on the edge of her seat waiting (don't fall off!) to hear alllll about me. So here's the dirt, in the form of the Secret Pal supersecret questionnaire...

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Hate. Scratchy. Yarn. And glitter. Other than that, I am open to the excellent karma of all of the vast opportunities of the yarn universe. That wasn't that helpful, was it? Ok, I love Koigu (could ya guess?), and I think that Rowan yarns rock. Also, I don't generally use bulky yarn- usually I am a dk weight or less kind of a girl.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a lantern moon and a home made needle case.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Jeez- it seems like an eternity, but really I have been knitting for a measly 4 years. I am the most advanced knitter ever in my dreams, but when it comes to actually knitting stuff, I am juuuust intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
A what? Ok, I wish for a new car. How is that?

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Citrus scents- lemon, lemongrass. And rosemary. I don't care for stuff that is too flowery.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Heck- I've got a whole mouth full of em! Milk chocolate (don't like dark chocolate, though!), fruit slices, jelly beans... mmmmmmmmmmm caaaaaannnndy.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I spin, sew very badly (sewing machine challenged!), plan to embroider but never do, and buy beads that I never make anything out of. Oh yes, and I also plan to paint oil paintings that I never get around to.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like contemporary alternative music generally- my favorite cd's right now are Evanescence, Sarah MacLaughlin (I have no idea how to spell that), Moby, Garbage, Stereolab, and The Strokes. I am MP3 worthy.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
My fave color is orange, but it is not a good color for me to wear. The only colors that I can't stand are really really bright colors (think Bernat Disco in Aqua Velvet) and most pastels (with the noted exception of pastel pink and lavander). I love orange, raspberry pink, lime green, and neutrals.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Married, and a cat lady. I won't say how many we have- it's too embarrassing.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves and ponchos- it is too warm in the Bay Area for hats and mittens.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I love to knit sweaters, and accessories, like handbags.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Project one: Koigu Cardigan
Project two: Bathroom curtain panel

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I prefer straight needles, under 12 inches, non metal. Picky picky picky.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
You mean the thing that you put your yarn on, or the small bird that resembles a swallow and is noted for its rapid flight? I own the yarn one, but not the bird. And a winder.

17. How did you learn to knit?
My mom taught me when I was about 8 (poor mom!). I really never did it more than occasionally until 4 years ago, when I was inspired by uber cool knitted curtains in Home and Garden Magazine.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?
I had to think very hard about this- I am not a UFO kind of girl. Either I finish it, or I frog it. However, after much reflection on the subject, I remembered that I do have a single sock lying around somewhere. Now, that knowlege will eat at me until I find it and make it a friend- which I will start doing tonight, thank you very much.

19. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas, without a doubt.

20. Is there anything that you collect?
Yes, I collect money. American currency, and my favorites are the larger bills. OK really, I do collect some things- I collect brightly colored two tone vintage plastic knitting needles, and old matchbooks from the fifties with cool graphics on them. Oh, and I like to grow orchids, but that is not really collecting.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Well, there are all of those Alice Starmore books... Actually, the only book that I am really dying for is The Knitter's Handbook : A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Techniques of Handknitting by Montse Stanley. And I subscribe to VK and IK.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I am currently trying to learn to knit Fair Isle...

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Ooh, this is sooo embarassing... I will email you my GIANT foot measurements privately if you ask very nicely in a way that impies that my feet are very dainty, even though you know they are gigantic.

24. When is your birthday?
August 6- same as David Bowie, Lucille Ball, M. Knight Shyamalan, and Punky Brewster.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Entertaining myself.

So I bought this old Needlework Magazine from January 1967. I was leafing through it, and there amongst the ads for half price accordions and pet monkeys (I swear) there was an ad for Herrschners. As a special introductory offer, Herrschners would sent me sixty (count 'em- sixty!) skeins of embroidery floss for $1.98. Well, I don't embroider much, but heck, sixty skeins for $1.98 is too good to pass up! So the ad was from 39 years ago, so the address had changed. A girl's got to do something for entertainment, right? And since I know the postage went up, I put in an extra 80 cents.

Now, about the Koigu sweater... I picked up about a billion (or a zillion or a quatrillion- I forget at this point) stitches- up one side, around the collar, and then down the other side. Then I started knitting, and I knit and I knit, and I calculated the button holes and all that and I knit and knit and knit and then I stepped back and said to myself "Hey... this looks really sucky!" So after some expert consultation with my sister, I have decided to finish the current buttonband, just in case the Virgin Mary comes down from the sky and performs a miracle on my button band and it becomes fab (and we would call it The Miracle of the Button Band, and everywhere I went people would be in awe of my holy sweater). However, I am fully expecting to have to rip it out and find another (less holy) solution.

Finally, can we talk about a pet peeve for just a moment? Manly. Laptop. Bags. Hello- I am a girl. Had anyone noticed? So why do practically all laptop bags look like they are for members of The Starfleet Federation? So I bought this. From here. Thank you!