Category Archives: books

Sabbatical?

I can’t claim to have been ridiculously busy since I last wrote, but I have done some things. The lack of writing is more due to the spotty internet at my apartment and my still-unhappy laptop keyboard that makes bringing my laptop elsewhere to write uncomfortable since it necessitates not only my laptop but also that pesky (i.e. huge) USB keyboard.

Things that happened:

  • My grandmother turned 80 and went down to Mexico to celebrate. That’s an interesting story all on its own, which I may put in another post. Don’t worry, though, she’s safely back home now.
  • We had the first real snow storm of the year, and then an almost-blizzard. We only got 6 inches of snow each time, and never got real blizzard conditions, but just south of town the roads were awful and they had to close the highway for a full 12 hours. I love living on the great plains.
  • The almost-blizzard meant that we had a snow day, so I didn’t have to substitute in a 3-year-old class. I really don’t like teaching 3-year-old classes.
  • I did teach many more private lessons than usual, which is good for my finances, but bad for my free time.
  • I had a master class with James Sewell through my company, which was wonderful.
  • I started on The Great Apartment Re-Organization of 2012. I’ve been doing a little every day, and things are slowly starting to take shape. My biggest accomplishment is that my dance shoes and accessories are all organized, and so are my tights. Everything was in there before, but now it’s in order.
  • I continued with progress on my various projects.

First up is my awesome dance stuff organiation:

My Blackberry Bramble Beret is coming along, with just the very top to complete. I got a lot done on it during full-cast rehearsals, and I’m now in the final stretches. Of course, this means that the pattern is no longer totally predictable with the way that the cables and decreases come together, so it’s gotten harder to bring it to rehearsals.

To that end, I started Queen Silvia from Nancy Bush’s “Knitted Lace of Estonia”. I’m using my 2-ply superfine alpaca laceweight from Dharma Trading Company. I can’t even begin to express how soft this yarn is. I thought that the ball of yarn was soft, but it’s so much better knitted up! It has just the right amount of halo to make it a bit fluffy without distracting from the lace pattern.

I also picked up several more books from Knit Picks during their sale:
200 Fair Isle Motifs” by Mary Jane Mucklestone
100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet” by Lesley Stanfield
75 Birds Butterflies & little beasts to knit and crochet” by Lesley Stanfield

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Organize All the Things

My apartment is a wreck.  First up, the books.  There just isn’t enough space for all of them.  There are books on the shelves of the bookcase, books stacked on top of the bookcase, and books stacked in front of the bookcase.  There are also books sitting on my desk, books sitting on the sewing table, books next to my bed, and books all over the living room.  If I didn’t agonize over the purchase of each and every one, or keep perfect track of the books from the library, I’d swear they spawn.  The shelves are literally bowing under the weight.

The next issue is the knitting stash. It used to fit in two small under-bed storage bins, which don’t actually fit under my bed, but lived in the front closet. It spilled over into another, larger bin, which is really supposed to be for extra bedding. (In my defense, I didn’t actually buy that much more yarn.  The majority of the Great Stash Expansion of 2006 was just my liberating some of my high school era stash and Granny’s stash from my parents’ house.)

Then I got a large photo backdrop that didn’t have anywhere logical to go, so it joined the yarn and bedding. There wasn’t room for any more yarn, so my most recent additions are stacked on my desk. The extra bedding got shoved (semi-neatly) into the upper part of my bedroom closet, which meant that a large part of the fabric stash had to get removed to the living room to make room. As I got more fabric, it got stacked next to the existing pile, making an ever bigger pile in one corner of my living room. It’s also mixed in with supplies for a dress form that I haven’t gotten around to making yet; I need an assistant.

I also ran into problems when I bought my sewing machine and accessories this summer. For one thing, I drastically increased the amount of fabric that I have (see fabric pile above), and for another, the thread, seam rippers, machine needles, presser feet, bobbins, zippers, bias tape makers, pin cushions, and cutting tools exploded out from the small shelf that had previously held them. They’re currently stacked on top of the shelves in some nice boxes, and some flimsy plastic bins originally used to hold salad. A large faction have taken up residence on the sewing machine table, and don’t have anywhere else to go.

My dance clothing has always been an organizational hurdle. I have tens of leotards and pairs of tights, because I wear them in mass quantities. Then I have the wrap skirts, pants, fuzzy pants, shoes, more shoes, legwarmers, sweaters, and even more shoes. To go with these, I have a foam roller, back roller, foot roller, massage balls of varying size and density, Band-Aids, extra deodorant, industrial strength toenail clippers, baby powder, shoe deodorizers, extra pointe shoe ribbons and elastic, special needles and thread, assorted Thera-Bands, Icy-Hot, Badger Balm, ice/heat packs, and the list goes on. They currently reside in cloth bins next to the front closet, but these bins constantly get mixed up when I go digging for the particular warm-ups or shoes that I want.  They’re full to overflowing right now, even with many of the warm-ups in the laundry or in my bag at the studio.

(Yes, there is a bottle of dish soap sitting next to the dance clothing.  No, it doesn’t belong there.  It’s just taking a rest on its stressful trip home from the grocery store.  I wouldn’t want to traumatize the poor thing by forcing it out too soon.)

It’s gotten to the point that this requires action. My plan:

  1. Get under-bed bins to hold all of the yarn.  You heard me, yarn.  I said, “all.”
  2. Organize the bedding into the bins freed up by the above yarn organization.
  3. Get some wire shelves to hold the fabric stash, and a sheet or a simple cover to protect against dust.
  4. Get an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold the dance shoes and small accessories so they don’t end up falling to the bottom of the bins.  Hang it over either the front door or the closet door.  Then, spread out the large accessories and warm-ups into the bins so that I can actually find things.
  5. Get another small bookcase to hold all of the knitting/sewing/craft books to free up space on the original bookcase.
  6. Get actual bins (not flimsy, easily crushable, salad containers) to hold all of the sewing business.

Target had better get ready, because I’m a woman on a mission.  Tomorrow.  Or maybe this weekend.  But definitely before Coppélia opens.

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Heavy Package From Knit Picks

It was the books.  Those lovely, lovely books.

First, Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush, was a delightful surprise. I usually buy books that I’ve checked out from the library or obsessively researched, but I wanted this book after seeing some of the patterns on Ravelry. I trusted that with Nancy Bush as the author, and Interweave Press publishing it, it would be a good book. When I actually looked through it, I got to discover the wonderful first section, with information on the origin of Haapsalu shawls, complete with plenty of photographs. Then came the patterns, beautifully photographed, charted, and with notes on construction. Finally, and perhaps the best surprise for me, was a section of traditional stitch motifs, photographed and charted, sourced from old publications or simply learned from the Haapsalu knitters themselves.

Then, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. They’re just as wonderful as I remember from when I checked them out from the library in December.

The Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn is great, too. This is the same yarn that I’m using for my fuzzy pants, and I’ve been pleased at how it knits up, so I decided to go for that same superwash merino and nylon blend for a hard-wearing baby toy. I’ll knit it up on some US 0 needles, which is smaller than the US 1-3 range that is recommended, and gives a thick, relatively stiff fabric. It will hopefully help to keep the shape of Hazel the Humpback Whale. The Midnight Heather colorway is a lot more green/teal than it appears on my computer screen, but I think I like it. It does correspond with Knit Picks’ description of “an intense dark blue color with black undertones […] with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest.” The teal flecks make me think of light filtering through ocean water.

For comparison, this is, from left to right, Patons Lace Sequin in Aquamarine, Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather, and Knit Picks Stroll in Black:

The Dove Heather shade that I chose for Hazel’s markings is a bit more creamy than I had thought, but I think it will still look lovely as an accent color. It’s a creamy, almost pale oatmeal base color with tiny strands of black and gray thrown in. Knit Picks uses the word “slate” to describe it, but I’d say it’s much less blue than that implies. Still, don’t the colors look nice and whale-y together?

Now, I’m off to chart Hazel and get some more done on my slowly-but-surely progressing fuzzy pants (which now have more than 10,500 stitches) and pointe covers.

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Pants Progress, Books, and Baby Toys

My fuzzy pants are now a whopping 3.5″ in length.  Now, you’ll say, “But how did you manage to accomplish so much when you have so many other things going on right now?”  I know, it’s impressive.

On a serious note, or to make myself feel better about things, I feel the need to point out that these things are now 53 rows long so they do have nearly 10,000 stitches in them so far.  The Fisherman’s Rib that I’m using has all knit stitches taken in the stitch below, so it gathers up in length as you go.  It makes for a very thick, fluffy, and warm fabric, but it takes for-freaking-ever.  I’ve known this pattern for so long that I can’t remember learning it, which probably means that it’s one that Granny taught me before I was 10 years old.

Fisherman’s Rib:
For a fabric with a 1 st wide selvage, cast on an odd number of stitches 1-2 more than needed for gauge.
Prep row (wrong side):  P2, *K1, P1* to last stitch, P1
Row 1: K1, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last two stitches, K1 through the lower loop, K1
Row 2: P2, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last stitch, P1
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until desired length is reached.

Without a selvage, this stitch pattern looks the same on both sides except for the prep row, so it’s great for fold-over cuffs, etc.  I like the long tail cast on for this since it works so nicely with the prep row’s initial and final purl stitches, and provides a stable but stretchy base for the rib.

In other news, Knit Picks has a sale going right now on books, so I picked up The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. I checked them out from the library a few weeks ago and decided that I need them in my collection. I can’t recommend them highly enough. The illustrations are wonderful (imagine line drawings of angora rabbits, alpacas, spinning equipment, fiber close-ups) and they’re full of pertinent information and photographs of different fibers and yarns. There’s even a pattern section with discussion on why each yarn was chosen for that particular pattern.

I also grabbed Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, because I’ve been coveting Queen Silvia or Crown Prince for several years now. I even have 2500 yards of 2-ply baby alpaca lace weight on hand.

The final piece of news is that I firmly decided on Hazel the Humpback Whale to knit for a friend’s baby due in late May, and I ordered some more Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather and Dove Heather. Now to get past the idea of intarsia… This Ravelry project shows the lighter colors stiched over by hand, which I think sounds less painful that intarsia. (I really, really, really hate intarsia.) I’m also considering just using double knitting; it might make for a thicker, sturdier fabric, and I think the color work would be easier. The last time that I tried double knitting was more than a decade ago, but it turned out very nice.

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