Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Getting Prepped for Sunday

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:54 pm on Friday, September 30, 2005

Resolved: In spite of my waffling and my disappointment over the lack of vendors, Gryphon and I will be attending the Boston Knit Out on Sunday.

After learning that there aren’t any vendors selling goods at the event, I was wavering between going to the Knit Out, and waiting until the following weekend and doing the 22nd Annual NH Wool Arts Tour. In the end, the decision came down to one factor: budget.

Try as I might, I wouldn’t have any money for shopping for yarns and such either weekend. So, since the Knit Out is a social event, not a shopping one, I’m deciding in favor of the Knit Out for my big fiber outing.

A big draw for me is the fact that they’ll have a dedicated place for bloggers to sign in so we can find each other. I won’t bother listing names of those who have already announced their intentions to be there, since that feels a bit redundant. Suffice it to say that a number of people whose blogs I read will be in attendance, and I’m looking forward to meeting each and every one of you.

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Commentary Reply

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 10:46 pm on Thursday, September 29, 2005

Laura asks:

Regarding mohair for Kiri… do you mean “lighter weight” as in less furry stuff surrounding the yarn? I’ve been wondering how mohair would do for a Kiri shawl.

Yes, Laura, that’s exactly what I’m thinking. The original instructions for Kiri show one knitted with Kid Silk Haze, which is a fuzzy yarn – but not nearly as fuzzy as classic mohair.

My test swatches were with a couple of varieties of classic mohair yarn, with a heavy amount of fuzz, and I found that the pattern was (to my taste, at least) far too obscured by the fuzz. Other knitters may like the look, since it was sort of like the pattern was hiding in the shadows of the fuzziness and peeking out at you. But I’d like to be able to see the lace inside the fur.

I liked the softness of the shawl in the original pattern, but mohair overdid the soft to the detriment of the design. I just wish I could afford the Kid Silk Haze, that would do the job.

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Mystery Tree Identified

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 10:06 pm on Thursday, September 29, 2005

I knew my readers would come through. Leesepea spotted the photo as a dogwood; that was enough of a clue for me to Google with and come up with an identification. We now know that the interesting berry tree that Gryphon and I spotted on our Saturday outing was a Japanese Flowering Dogwood (Cornus kousa). Thanks, Leesepea!

Bugs Again

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 11:01 pm on Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I got the itch to make another caterpillar today. As you may recall, the project is from my recently acquired copy of Diane Fitzgerald’s The Beaded Garden.

A Pair of Beaded Caterpillars
Bugged Again
The new one is at the right in the photo. It’s made just like the other, but instead of Matsuno 6/o’s for the beads down the back, I used 3mm gold-plated brass. That gave me a much more regular size to work with, and evened out the look of the whole caterpillar.

I used the same Miyuki matte black 11/o’s for the main color of the body as the first one. But I chose more subtle colors for the side stripe, a dark blue iris. You really don’t get a color difference from that, more of a textural one, as it’s glossy against the matte.

Truthfully, I think the first caterpillar with the brighter colored stripes and more irregular back beads came out more bug-like. Looking at the ripples in its back – which come from different sizes and shapes of the 6/o’s – you can almost believe that critter is crawling along. The second one, as I said, is much more regular in shape and form, coming out a little less realistic.

Perfect example of a time when it might be better to use the lesser-quality, uneven beads. After all, there are no bad beads – only beads that don’t give you the result you desire for the project at hand. Those beads you don’t like this time will find their proper place in another piece.

The caterpillar bug is bad enough, that I want to make more. In fact, I want to see if I can more closely simulate real caterpillars, even specific species. It’ll probably mean I need to buy some beads in particular colors and sizes to achieve the right effect.

That’s when you know you’ve got a bead bug, right? When you set out to buy beads just so you can make a caterpillar?

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Gryphon’s Sweater Vest: The Official Debut

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 10:51 pm on Wednesday, September 28, 2005

We got Gryphon’s Sweater Vest steam-blocked this morning. Actually, Gryphon did it – he’s very handy with an iron. But it was finally, really, completely done.

So we got him all prettied up, and since he looked so intellectual, we went down the block to the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library to take his picture.
Gryphon Looking Dashing in His New Sweater Vest
The Formal Look
We started out on the front lawn, with the fully formal look in a blazer and everything.

Then we went inside and got to chatting with Carol Roberts, the Head Librarian, about the restoration that’s being done on the library. This place is a treasure of Arts & Crafts era public construction – and a National Historic Landmark – but it’s been ill-cared for over the years.

Gryphon in His Sweater Vest, Talking in the Library
Without the Blazer, the Full Impact of the Vest
Behind Gryphon, you can see patches on the wall where they have cleaned away the surface paint to reveal some of the underlying, handpainted and stenciled decorative painting. The library was originally decorated this elaborately throughout, but over the decades, in the spirit of “improvement”, decisions were made to paint over the decor in solid, white and beige colors.

Thankfully, they didn’t do anything that actually removed the decorative work – they merely covered it over. It’s going to be a long, careful process to bring it back, and they’ve got experts on the job. A lot of work has already been done repairing and stabilizing the mosaic floor in the rotunda, for instance.

Okay, so Gryphon’s Sweater Vest is done. That leaves the only official project on the needles as Wearable Hug 12, aka Bridgette. Notice that word official. I’m actually working on something – and on a couple sets of needles, too. But it’s an experiment, and hopefully will be a pattern I can offer. So I’m keeping it under wraps for now.

I’m going to have some news on the Knitting Around front soon, too, and it will involve all of you! Stay tuned!

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And Stalled Again

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 9:50 pm on Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not a lot to report today. I woke up to an hour and a half early to one of those sour stomachs that make you lay in bed wondering if you should get up and vomit and get it over with, or just keep laying there hoping that it will go away.

I finally chose to get up and end the misery.

That was the worst of the day, but I did take it as a sign of some minor bug passing through my system, and decided to take it easy today. Tonight would have been craft circle night, but I cancelled so I could be sure not to share whatever with everyone. It seems to have been a good decision – I can’t say I’m actively unwell, but I’m definitely less than well, if you take my meaning. No energy, and trouble focusing.

I can at least report that Gryphon’s Sweater Vest has come off the needles, and is complete save for a light steam-blocking. Once we’ve done that, he’s planning to get all dolled up and model it for the camera. So there’ll be pictures soon.

Finishing the sweater vest left me with only one project on the needles – Wearable Hug 12, aka Bridgette. But I was faced with the same issue I had Friday, which is that the next time I pick her up for serious work, I need to attach in a new yarn. Since I use a threaded needle technique for that called a Russian Join, it’s not as simple as just picking up the new yarn – it takes a lot of focus, good dexterity, and at least a little brains. Not something I wanted to tackle on a sick day.

So I have spent some time considering what else I might cast on for. I have the yarn to make the Market Square Bag from Bags: A Knitter’s Dozen, but when I pulled out my #8 circulars to try the cast-on, I realized that all I have are either way too short (16″) or too long (at least 40″) to work right. I need something around 24″ for this one. So the Market Square Bag got put on hold pending purchase of additional tools.

I have continued thinking about a new lace project to replace the Wings of the Cat shawl, which is on suspended duty until I know better how I want to do it. I’ve been looking hard at Kiri, and thought I’d swatch a little with some mohair yarn I’ve got around. I tried two different starts, and didn’t like the results of either. I think I’m definitely going to want a lighter weight yarn than mohair for that.

I have yarn to do about half a dozen pairs of socks, but the ones I most want to do are with a yarn I haven’t used yet, which will mean a gauge swatch and calculating what size of the pattern to make – more brain power required for that than I have available today.

So the end result is that the knitting is again stalled out, waiting for my system to be more amenable to new challenges. I’m going to go try to forget it for a while now. I’ve got the season premiere of Charmed on the Tivo, and I think the thing to do now is watch the Halliwell’s get out of the fix they left themselves in last season.

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Stalling, and Re-Starting

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 6:55 pm on Monday, September 26, 2005

I haven’t blogged about actual knitting progress lately, so let’s catch up a bit.

Friday turned out to be a frustrating day. I made good progress on Gryphon’s Sweater Vest, and reached the shoulder shaping on the back. It was at that point that I realized that I only owned about 3 small to medium sized stitch holders – not nearly enough to deal with this project. So I had to set the vest aside until we could pick up more holders at the LYS the next day.

Stalled out on the vest, then, I considered the other Works-In-Progress. At that moment, the only others were Wearable Hug 12, and my self-designed “Wings of the Cat” (WotC) lace shawl. Having neglected the WotC for a time, I decided to pick that up and make some progress.

Well, I almost immediately realized that I had several errors in the last few rows. I considered what could be done to fix them, and didn’t like any of the options. Tinking wasn’t really a choice, either – frankly, my brain power wasn’t up to snuff on Friday. (Sinuses. *sniff*ow*)

I’ve been feeling that the way I designed WotC was turning out to be difficult to knit, anyhow. The alternating of two different vertical lace patterns in the central panel made for a complicated section. One pattern had four rows in the repeat; the other had six. Which meant that 12 rows were necessary to make a full repeat of the pair together. One pattern was straight purling on the wrong side row; the other had increases, decreases, and yarnovers.

Given that I encountered the problems I did on Friday, I made a radical decision. WotC has made progress – but it’s a reverse progress, back to a wound ball of yarn. I’m going to be thinking hard about how I might want to change it before I try again.

Having muffed up WotC so thoroughly, the only remaining WiP on the needles was Wearable Hug 12. Bridgette, however, was close enough to the end of a skein that I knew any amount of knitting would require me to work in new yarn – and with my head feeling off, that wasn’t sounding very relaxing at all.

So I didn’t knit the rest of Friday at all.

Saturday, we took care of the stitch holder dilemma. And so on Sunday, I was able to get back to work on Gryphon’s Sweater Vest.

By this afternoon, I had it ready for a final fitting to make sure I’d knitted the front shoulders high enough.

Gryphon's Sweater Vest - the Final Fitting
Gryphon in His UFO
He’s actually more excited about it than he looks in the picture. Every time he sees the latest progress, his eyes light up and he smiles thinking about when he gets to wear this for real.

So far today, I’ve completed the ribbing at the neckline. All that’s left is to pick up stitches at the armholes and knit that ribbing, then work in all the odd ends of yarn. At that point, we’ll see if it wants a little steam-blocking, but it’ll be ready to go!

As to the lace knitting, I’ve come to no definite conclusions about what direction WotC should take. I’m seriously considering whether I may use a published pattern for my first lace shawl after all, though – especially considering I got this in the mail today.

Yes, that’s my very own copy of A Gathering of Lace, a book I’ve been watching everyone on the Lace for All Seasons group rave about endlessly. Gryphon worked the budget and figured out how to afford it as a late birthday present for me. If you are into lace knitting and haven’t seen this book yet, listen closely – you must have this. The projects are stunning, and the presentation is breathtaking.

I’m not sure which I’ll try first. Right now, I’m just trying not to get drool on the pages.

The Torch is Passed

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 6:32 pm on Monday, September 26, 2005

Gryphon and I went out and about on Saturday, and had a grand time. You can read about most of it here.

The part I didn’t tell about there, I saved for all you chantraphiles. Especially those of you who live in the Souhegan/Monadnock region, like I do.

We haven’t had a bead store between Nashua and Keene since I closed The Big Little Bead Store at Easter this year. Until now, that is. One of my former customers, Janine Gilbertson, has opened up a new shop in Peterborough, called The Bead Box. Located at 7 Main Street, right above the Rite Aid drug store, Janine opened shop only about 3 weeks ago. From what I saw when Gryphon and I dropped in on Saturday, though, she’s off to a good start.

The Bead Box, Peterborough, NH
Janine Gilbertson (behind the counter) and her A#1 Bead Assistant, Jaten
Visiting The Bead Box brought back memories. When I began picking products for The Big Little Bead Store, the task of narrowing down all the possibilities seemed daunting. Finally, I went with what I knew, and chose beads, tools, and stringing supplies that I liked to work with.

Janine has done the same, and she’s made some lovely choices. I’m sorry I didn’t take more close-ups of the beads on the table so you could see them. But she’s got a good starting assortment of seed beads, daggers, drops, lampwork beads, and fire-polished crystals. She’s also carrying Swarovski crystals, which is something we never got into at The Big Little Bead Store (they simply weren’t something I worked with, and would have been a significant investment to carry a reasonable stock in).

Janine also plans to offer classes, and is actively seeking teachers who can cover different techniques. She’s already developing a good customer base, too – when Gryphon and I dropped in about 15 minutes before she closed on Saturday, she had several customers in the store (who recognized us from our store, too!), and several more passed through while we were there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend that day, or I might have come away with a few things. One item I couldn’t resist, though, was this little lampwork cat bead.

Lampwork Cat Bead from The Bead Box
Little Blue Kitty Bead
You know me and cats – I just had to have him! She also had adorable white bunnies in the next bin.

According to her business card, The Bead Box’s hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11-6 p.m., and Saturdays 11-4 p.m. I think that may have already changed, though, as I seem to recall the sign on her door saying she opened at noon on Saturday. (I remember what it was like trying to settle on firm hours myself.) So to be sure, you might want to give a call ahead. The number is (603) 924-3772.

We wish Janine all the best of luck, and we’ll be sharing with her some of the sources and tips that we found while we were open. It’s in my best interest to see her do well – I’m so glad that I have a bead store to shop at again myself! I hope all of you in the area will drop in and pay her a visit.

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Music, Bloggers, and Yarn. Lots of Yarn

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 7:29 pm on Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gryphon and I took advantage of the great weather Saturday to get out and about.

We began right down the block from home, at the Wilton Harvest Festival. I got to Knit Around while listening to friends of ours, JoeLinda (Joe Pollock and Linda Goodman) sing some tunes.

JoeLinda on stage - Folkcat knitting on hay
Bridgette Now Has the Spirit of Music
Wearable Hug 12, aka Bridgette, has been knit on bridges and in a Chinese restaurant, and now at a concert. Connections, cultural diversity, and music. Interesting spirit we’re knitting up here.

Walking around the festival brought us the usual opportunities to connect with people we know around town, but seldom see, which is always good. I got a couple of bonuses, however – one booth was set up by some teenagers who had learned to bead at my shop, and they were apparently doing very well selling their beaded jewelry at the festival! They told me how much they missed the store, and how they loved doing beadwork, and one of their mothers said the store had made a huge impact on the girls’ lives.

Almost immediately after, I chatted with a woman we don’t see often anymore. She’s a local massage therapist, but we knew her first as the leader of an African drumming circle we used to attend, some 7 years ago. I don’t remember how the subject of my current knitting came up, but she told me that the son I knitted a baby blanket for when he was born was now seven. How time flies! Even more special, she told me that her daughter, 3 years later, used the blanket, too, and they loved it and she’s planning to keep it as an heirloom.

You can’t help but feel good after connections like that.

Some of the other fun at the Harvest Festival included a vegetable art contest for all ages. There were some adult entries, but my favorites were the ones made by kids.

Vegetable Art Contest
Creative Vegetable Art
There was an amazing amount of imagination displayed by surprisingly young children, but I think I had a clear favorite:

Britney Broccoli Spears
Presenting: Britney Broccoli Spears!
Ms. Spears was created by a first grader, can you believe it? All the kids showed great imagination, but the attention to detail on Britney here was wonderful. She’s even got a fashionable little visor on her head, and a strung bead necklace. Wonderful!

Our next stop was at my LYS. I had reached an impasse on Gryphon’s sweater vest when I needed to start shaping the shoulders, and realized I didn’t own enough stitch holders to do the job! I know, I could have used a piece of yarn or something – but then I wouldn’t have had an excuse to go shopping, would I?

The big surprise of the visit, though, was when we were chatting with the staff on duty that day, and into the store walked a knit blog buddy, Kat! So of course, we had to blog the moment…

Knit Blogger Kat with a K
As Kat Puts It, “Blogging You Blogging Me”
And since we both had knitting with us, we got Gryphon to document us Knitting Around together.

Kat and Folkcat Knitting Around
Knitting Around in the LYS
We also got a picture of the two of us without the knitting, but my Gryphon caught me with my chin down and looking like a bullfrog in that one. If you want to see a comparable shot, however, visit Kat. The pictures he took on her camera had the opposite problem – we looked better there without the knitting than with. Go figure!

As a secondary result of the trip to the LYS, I learned that the yarn I’d picked out previously to do the entre-lac Market Squares bag from Bags: A Knitter’s Dozen was probably not the best choice. Seems that the Bartlett yarn, while 100% wool, is tightly twisted enough that it won’t felt well. Since I hadn’t been as happy as I’d have liked with the colors anyhow, I took that as the final sign that I should trade in the Bartlett and get something more suitable.

Five Skeins of Bartlett
Bartlett – Nice Yarn, Not Right for The Intended Purpose
Instead of the Bartlett, I chose five skeins of Galway. Same yarn (in different colors) as Kat picked out for her project of the day, LOL.

Five Skeins of Galway
The Replacements – Better Colors, and Feltable
I like these colors a lot better, too – they’re going to make a bright and happy tote bag.

We did some more bumming around throughout the day, but the one other significant stop* was to confirm something I’d heard some time ago – that the Dublin General Store, on Route 101 in Dublin, sold yarn.

Dublin General Store Sign, Dublin, NH
Look for This Sign to Find Them
Well, it’s true! Off in one corner of the store, you’ll find a small side room filled with yarn, books, and supplies. Their selection is limited (it’s a very small space), but this is one of the first shops in the immediate area where I’ve seen a significant offering of Rowan yarns.

Dublin General Store Yarn Department
Folkcat With Some of the Yarn at the Dublin General Store
This stuff is lovely, and it was great to finally see in the wild some of the yarns that I see so many knit bloggers rave about. I know now, for instance, what the fuss is about Kid Silk Haze – they have one color of it here.

The selection may be limited, but they do have a sign posted that they can order any Rowan yarn you want. And they also carried a fingering-weight handpainted yarn called Delicious that came in marvelous colorways. As for books, I came away with a copy of Spin It: Making Yarn From Scratch. It’s from Interweave Press, and it’s all about hand spinning with a drop spindle – no spinning wheels here! This is exactly the book I’ve been looking for, as it will likely be a long time before I can afford a wheel. I’ve looked at other books on spinning, but they only give the briefest discussions of drop spindles before plunging you into the world of spinning wheels.

Another book that tempted me, but that I left for now….well, I don’t know the title of it, because it was in Japanese! But they had on the shelf a Japanese book on felting, with a lot of cute creations for bags, hats, and little plush creatures. With my passion for all things Japanese, it was very tempting – but I couldn’t argue that I needed it now as much as I could use the spinning book immediately.

The Dublin General Store may not serve all your knitting needs, but it’s definitely worth remembering for the knitter looking for a slightly different perspective and selection. Plus, I don’t remember their exact hours, but they’re open until 7 pm or so most days of the week.

On a final note, there was an interesting tree with berries out in front of the General Store that I’m hoping someone out there can identify.

Unidentified Berry Tree, Dublin, NH
Mysterious Berry Tree
The structure of the berries is a little like raspberries, and the reddest ones you see above are ripe – that’s the color of the ones that had already dropped to the ground, too. The closest thing I’ve found online is a mulberry tree, but that has longer raspberry-like berries that hang downward, and are deeper purple. So if anyone has a clue, please leave a comment and let me know, okay?

*Footnote: Okay, there was one other significant stop for the day. But you’ll have to read about that on Monday at Confessions of a Chantraphile!

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Administrivia Day

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 5:43 pm on Friday, September 23, 2005

I am removing the “Recently Updated Blogs” frame from the side bar. Since I have retired five blogs – and consolidated their subjects under a single new blog – there is far less for readers to keep up with.

Here’s the list of currently active blogs:

  • I Knit Around – This is now my primary blog, covering knitting (and other fiber-crafting), cooking, geocaching, and anything else that happens that isn’t beading. This will likely be posted to from 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Confessions of a Chantraphile – My beading blog remains as a separate entity. I expect I’ll post here at least once or twice a week.
  • Folkcat’s Craft Library – You can still browse through my craft book collection – at least as fast as I get it entered. Since each entry is a catalog listing for a book, this could be posted to once a week, once a month, or ten times in a day.
  • The Milford Memory Box – Once we have items worth collecting from the Memory Box and posting, this will be where to find them. Posting here will likely be very sporadic, as the Memory Box collection doesn’t grow quickly.

My retired blogs will remain available as archives. You can reach them through my web hub at Jenny Kubeck on the Web.

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