Monday, December 21, 2009

End of the Year Miscellany

I have no monumental news or projects to report, but there are a few items to post about, not the least of which is that Harry has sold his karaoke machine and taken up meditation. When asked about this dramatic about-face, he said he was preparing to knit The Queen Susan Shawl, which is now available here.This is a temporary link, but the pattern should be available in the Ravelry store by the time you read this. The pattern But please come back and finish reading this last post of 2009.

I hope you will download the 73-page pattern even if you don't intend to knit it immediately (or ever). Those who think they could never attempt such a masterpiece will benefit from studying the pages and working the suggested swatches. You might discover that this shawl, as daunting as it appears, is still knit one stitch at a time--and the stitches themselves are not complicated.

Next, I want to address a few reader requests. I have received numerous messages, both here and on Ravelry, requesting information about how I spin such fine and even lace yarns. Given the avalanche of spinning books that have been published in the last few years, plus the enormous wealth of videos on YouTube, I decided to ask my readers: Do you want a lace spinning tutorial, and if so, do you want videos too? I don't have a video camera, so I would have to borrow one, but if there is enough demand, I will work out the logistics.

The second reader request has been around for years--that I write a book. Only one person has ever detailed what she thought such a work should actually contain, but she did have some excellent suggestions. So the question I ask here is, do you really want a book from me, and if so, what do you want it to cover? And how much of the book can be blog material? Few people read my old posts, and there is a wealth of material there that I would like to include. Asking me to write a book is an effective form of flattery, but I really need more information about subject matter that would be useful, informative, entertaining, and not already beaten into tiny knitting molecules elsewhere.

Please understand that I am not a designer, and have no intention of writing a book of patterns. But if there are enough subject requests, I will turn my attention to completing such a work in 2010 or shortly thereafter. Now is the time to speak up if there are knitting and/or spinning topics you want me to address.

And so, I bid Good Riddance to 2009, and wish all of us a lovely 2010--a new decade and fresh start.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Current Knitting (and Spinning)

The Queen Susan shawl seriously impinged on my knitting and spinning time over the last few months. Fortunately, the pattern booklet is now off my desk and onto that of Laura, a most wonderful copy editor. I am hoping she will have time this week to work her magic, so I can upload the pattern shortly thereafter. I promise to announce availability when it's off everyone's desk and into the Ravelry pattern database.

Despite Queen Susan, I managed to complete a few small items for Christmas gifts.

I made two hats, one of which I cannot post about, because Kyoko-san is not allowed to open her present before December 25 and I don't want to spoil the surprise. However, the hat I made for Jun is not under any secrecy doctrine.

Jun's family owns Rhubarb, one of the few non-Japanese eateries in Togane City, Japan--the Nepalese chicken curry is especially good. We love Rhubarb's desserts: the lemon pound cake is particularly delicious.

I am sure you guys remember the Friendship Cake Plague? Every few weeks someone would drop in bearing a wad of Friendship cake starter. The idea was that you used to it make your own cake batter, reserving a blob to foist on someone else. We actually made one cake from the stuff and pronounced it Worse Than Grandma Tillie's Matzoh Balls, and frankly, I didn't think anything--foodstuff or otherwise--could earn that distinction.
After five of these batter bits had been charmingly received  and surreptitiously handed off to the increasingly resentful neighborhood wildlife, we escaped to Japan, a country renowned for green tea and sashimi, but not for Americanisms such as Friendship cake.

So of course, the first thing we spotted, to our horror, in Rhubarb's dessert case a few days after arrival was--wait for it--Friendship cake. Clearly, a batter glob had somehow stowed away on a jetliner and slithered from Narita to Togane.

Regardless of this lamentable gastronomical lapse, Jun remains a good friend and deserves a warm hat. I used two skeins of Noro Silk Garden, removing the weird green yarn in the middle of the skeins, reserving it for future knitted frog toys. The little 2x2 cable pattern was spontaneous and I took no notes.


Tonya's son is now old enough to appreciate the fact that his older sister has something he doesn't, so I now knit them pseudo-matching gifts. This year, Nina receives Douglas, The Extremely Happy Giraffe, while Kai gets Horatio, The Happy Hippo. Both patterns are free, from Bobbie Padgett.

 Horatio is proportionately smaller than Douglas (to match the size of the children), but equally squashy and adorable:

As for spinning, well, there is a drawer full of singles waiting for an appropriate plying device. I hate, loathe, detest plying. It's boring. It's dull. It's frightful. But! There's a beautifully wrapped package sitting on our Gift Slab that may address the Plying Problem. In the meantime, the myriad little copps sit quietly, waiting for Plyness. But I am not idle.

The Spindlewoods pink ivory spindle in the top photo holds gloriously silky Suri alpaca from The Critter Ranch, and the spindle in the lower two images is clearly enjoying luxurious 50/50 silk/merino roving from The Fiber Denn. It might be the only smiling spindle ever made!