Our weather has been consistently cooler (finally!) and rainy of late, with crashy-bangy T-storms rumbling in out of the southwest, heading for Oklahoma and points SE. I stepped outside this afternoon wearing a short sleeved tee shirt and the thought actually crossed my mind that I might want a light jacket. (Must have gotten down into the low 80’s F/26-27 C.) If it cools down any more, I’m going to have to start wearing clothes in the house again. . . That’s ok, though because I have long-sleeved, ankle length sleep shirts, too. (Cotton is my friend. . . ). . . . And would you believe, only two finished, wearable shawls?
Mom and I have a flying visit to Pearland scheduled toward the end of October, and after that, the top priority item on the knitting agenda will be making the “talents” for this year’s scholarship auction at that Sekrit Klub my mom belongs to. (The members are suppose to utilize their talents to make items for the auction. My mom’s talent is getting me to make stuff for her. . . ) It’s going to be knitted Xmas balls this year. Three sets of three. I think I’ll make a red and green set, a red and white set, and a blue and white set. I’ve got the red and white yarn, and I think I have the green, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the right blue in the right yarn. I’ll have to go stash diving to make sure, though, before I hit up Michael’s.
So now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m feeling more knitty (and less gritty!). I got this little mini-hank of fingering weight yarn at the knitting group Xmas party year before last. A lady who was not part of the group, but known to several of its members (she is both a drop-spindle and wheel spinner, had chickens, dogs, goats and alpaca, and would have had a long drive into and out of town at night, and anyway, with all that livestock, who has time??) dropped by the party on her way back out to her place. She evidently had a RACSB moment and, without preamble, handed me this mini skein of hand-spun yarn in a plastic sandwich bag. I don’t remember the exact fiber content, but there may be some alpaca involved. It’s this not-quite-teal shade of blue/green.
It’s a neat trick for one person to wind a traditional skein without a swift, but I improvised. Most of the yarn I buy is cheap and (hypoallergenic) acrylic and comes in pull skeins (pull skeins are tools of the Devil**, y’all. Just sayin’. . .) and have no pressing need for a swift. It’s when you start getting into the pricy, big name and/or “artisanal” woolen yarns — i.e., yarn from a big name European company, or yarn exclusively from only one breed of sheep, or artisan hand-spun/hand dyed yarns, or yarns blended with fiber from truly exotic species (yak, musk ox, saluki. . . ) — what I refer to as “snob yarn” — that you start needing a swift. ( Compare Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarn at around $5 per 315 yd/170 g skein –depending on where you buy it, and Malbrigo yarn (from Peru) at $18 per 440 yd/100g skein. A sweater’s quantity — depending on your size — of the Malbrigo can run you more than $100!)
About six months ago, I sprang for some skeins of Malbrigo sock yarn (Peruvian) in a luscious dark teal (are you beginning to detect a color palette here?) and some donuts of Knitting Fever (Australian) yarn in a really zippy two-tone combination of strands of light purple and medium Prussian blue twisted together. I got both of them (on separate occasions!) from the Must Love Yarn Shop in Shelburne, VT. Two of the owners of MLY put out a podcast every Friday (I follow their YouTube channel) during the course of which they will feature a particular brand of yarn as “the pick of the week” and give a discount code for 10% off that’s good for two weeks if you buy that particular yarn (in any color they have in stock) either in person from their store, or from their website.
Anyway, to crawl out of that rabbit hole and get back to that little hank of yarn (remember it?), I have been threatening for (literally) years to knit a sweater for the little 25-cm ball jointed doll belonging to the wife of my favorite author (C. J. Cherryh) and I had earmarked the aforementioned hank of yarn for that project. We’re talking fingering weight yarn on size US1/2.25 mm double pointed needles at a gauge of 6 stitches per 2 cm. I’m having to use a tapestry needle to work the cable because none of my cable needles are small enough in diameter. (The smallest cable needle I have is US6/4.0 mm). I have the doll’s measurements, and I’m writing the pattern as I go. (If God had wanted me to do math in my head, She wouldn’t have given us calculator apps!) I’m also playing a little knitter’s game called “yarn chicken.” (I do love a challenge!) Thankfully, I have a “Plan B” — some compatible colors in this weight yarn — that I can “design in” to the pattern if I need to. The US1’s I’m using are from my ChiaoGoo sock set. Believe me, this sock set is a real bargain. You get a really nice, sturdy cloth, zippered carrying case and SIX 5-needle sets of 6-inch double pointed needles: sizes US0/2mm, 1/2.25mm, 1.5/2.5mm, 2/2.75mm, 2.5/3mm and 3/3.25mm. These are high-quality stainless steel needles. (They also have sock sets in bamboo) I absolutely adore them.
There’s a thing knitters refer to as UFO’s, UnFinished Objects — Works In Progress (WIPs) that have run out of gas. I’m telling you. I have enough UFOs to re-enact (H.G. or Orson, take your pick) Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” Most of them are currently in a parking orbit in two of the drawers of my stash bins. I’ve got four sets of bins crammed full of yarn and another two large plastic bins of yarn on the floor beside them. I think after the first of the year, I need to go on a serious WIP whup. A finish or frog-athon. (When I’m not in free-fall down the “Outlander” rabbit hole, that is. . .)(So many books, so little time!) Sigh.
Today’s earworm is brought to you by the woman who would become Princess Leia‘s mom the year after this film was released, and two of the all-time great song-and-dance men (Donald O’Connor and the incomparable Gene Kelly). The unsinkable Ms. Reynolds is having no trouble at all keeping up in this rarified company, singing or dancing. The film this scene is from is a classic.
* With apologies to Ray Charles. **They were ostensibly designed so you could use the yarn straight from the skein, without having to roll it up into a ball or cake first. However, if you pull from the outside, you always have to be stopping and unrolling more yarn (or else you give it a good yank and it hops off the couch and rolls halfway across the room and you have to get up and go get it). If you pull from the inside, locating the yarn end in the center of the skein is like Finding Nemo and once you're down to about 20% of the skein, they have a marked tendency to suddenly implode into a big wad of yarn barf. Either way, they'll have you losing your religion in a New York minute. ***What the little ball chart calls "hankenskein" by any other name is still yarn barf.