Honestly, I wouldn't blame you if you had concluded that I had given up knitting altogether! But let me reassure you: I had not given up on knitting, I had given up on FINISHING! And unfinished projects do not make for impassioned blogging.
But I've had a burst of energy, no doubt tied to my mania for decluttering the house--by the way, check out these before and after photos of my office/fiber room:
But there's still a lot of stuff, even if it IS stuff I wanted to keep:
There was an interesting post about de-cluttering on The Simple Dollar (a very good blog that covers all aspects of personal finance, whether you have an immediate need to downscale or just want to keep out of trouble). My goal is to use a significant amount of this fleece and roving in 2009. Full disclosure: this photo does not show my yarn stash or my teaching yarns, nor does it show the 3 fleeces in the closet. It's funny--I know that I am not a hyperaccumulator, but even purchasing at a slow rate results in a large stash when you use it up even more slowly.
So, here is the absolutely darling baby sweater for Vincent, my new cousin of some degree who knows how many times removed (the daughter of my newly discovered Swedish cousin Elisabeth just had a baby boy last week):
"Babies and Bears" pattern from Cottage Creations Wool-Ease worsted weight yarn Blue Heather color
This is the cutest little sweater and a wonderful pattern to knit--highly recommended for being so well written that a beginning knitter could make it. My photo doesn't show the nice textural effects of the mitered garter stitch and some gansey patterning.
I've also finished the ill-fated Nantucket Jacket, which looks like an amorphous blob in this photo--I'm posting it anyway as proof that I've got this far:
Nantucket Jacket by Norah Gaughn (Interweave Knits Winter 2006, but I don't need to say that because everyone has already made this sweater) Cascade 220 Straightforward purple
You may remember my speed cable technique, perfected in this sweater. Well, waiting until I felt relaxed and clear headed, I snipped the yarn at the top of where the cables were supposed to be and I dropped the 6 stitches down to the bottom. Then I reknit the cables row by row. The most difficult part was grafting the opening at the top. I want to warn you to calculate your cable crossings so that you don't graft in the row right above the cross. I mean it.... Last night I deciphered the crochet edging instructions and now the garment is blocking. Just the buttons to go.
And take a look at the Monteagle Bag!
Monteagle Bag from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines (free download!) Euroflax linen
This was a challenging little knit--lots of tricksy stitches to try out (resulting in some inventive new swear words as well)--but the end result has proved itself to be a very useful little bag. Be sure to avail yourself of the technique videos Ann and Kay have posted on their blog--trust me, my experience is that you quite simply cannot figure these fancy dancy stitches out from the text alone. In the photo, you can see why I love California: it's December, and there are our mandarin oranges, ripening in the background!
The Redbud Vest is moving along as well:
So there! Now it's time to start decorating for the holidays....
To start with, I'd like to respond to a comment left on the last blog post.
An anonymous commentator, using the alias "Intellectual Diversity," directed me to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. I do not know whether ID is a regular reader of my blog, in which case I welcome your opinions if you would identify yourself--if you don't have believe in what you are saying enough to use your name, then you probably shouldn't be saying it.
First of all, lets talk about intellectual diversity and what that phrase is code for. Over the last few years, this phrase has referred to the perceived liberal bias of professors at institutes of higher learning. This issue has been debated before 28 state legislatures (and hotly pursued in countless university newspapers). Here's one paper's description of the issue:
The campaign for "intellectual diversity" legislation is a neoconservative ploy to secure the teaching of right-wing propaganda in the classroom, plain and simple. The authors of the campaign hide behind the mask of educational reformer, but what they seek is nothing short of educational control.
The 2005 ACTA report, Intellectual Diversity: Time For Action [.pdf], provides the movement's definition of intellectual diversity: "intellectual diversity means a multiplicity of ideas" (p. 1). And, as expected, ACTA launches into its concern over the "political imbalance" among faculty members (p. 2). Here, the complaint is that there are more self-labeled "liberals" than "conservatives," and as support for this confession from professors the fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans among faculty is given. Higher education is then cast as a biased environment, administrators and faculty failing to make higher education intellectually diverse.
A multiplicity of ideas sounds like a fine idea, right? But "intellectual diversity" in this context is simply a red herring. Not all ideas are equally valid. I do not think that Young Earth beliefs (adherents believe that the Earth is approximately 6000 years old), for example, are in any way intellectually equal to the claims of legitimate geologists. And I think it is crazy to hold that any time a geologist is interviewed on the subject a Young Earther also should be given a platform to make things "fair" and "balanced." Furthermore, this is my blog--I have absolutely NO obligation to provide a platform for everyone.
At any rate, the link Intellectual Diversity provided takes one to a WSJ opinion piece entitled "Why Feminists Hate Sarah Palin." It is easy to dismiss the article on the basis of the intellectually facile title alone, but I know that writers do not necessarily have any choice about how their work is published. Go ahead, read the piece--and then read the comments to it. I think the writer was lazy, frankly, drawing broad conclusions from a few sources, trying to set up a conflict where there really isn't one. The WSF piece seems to think that Palin was attacked unfairly, held to some higher standard than other candidates--I've seen this in the media and frankly I don't understand it. Palin is still a nearly total unknown compared to every other candidate in this race; I think that the media "story" of harassment is also a piece of faux feminism: I expect candidates for the top two positions of our government to be able to HANDLE IT, to COPE UNDER PRESSURE. Carla Marinucci's piece for the San Francisco Chronicle )("Free Sarah, Day 27: If she can field dress a moose, she can handle reporters") sums it up nicely, in fact. I am reminded of the Monica Goodling questioning in the Congressional investigation into the politicization of the Justice department, when the Senators were obviously scared to ask her any hard questions because she was such a pretty, whispering little thing. The opposite of feminism.
My opinion stands: Supporting Palin is not a feminist issue. Saying that one should vote for Palin because she is female is faux feminism. I'm a feminist and I don't "hate" Palin; I simply think she is totally unsuited to the office of the presidency.
You may disagree--that's fine. I have some Republican friends. So long as your decisions are based on FACTS, not IMAGES; discussion, not sound bites; policy debates, not photo ops.
In this worrisome season, it's nice to find a few distractions (just a few! I think that anyone who is distracted in this all-important political season--by faux-feminism, by outright lies, by short-sighted, self-serving and calculating promises of economic cure without pain, i.e., taxes--is a fool of the worst sort and ought to sit out the election).
Oh, where was I? Sorry. Just a little anxious. Four good things for feral knitters! First of all, a set of books filled with wonderful, inspiring charts that can easily be adapted for stranded knitting. Valerie Lejeune has collected charts in several volumes--some hoarded birthday money allowed me to indulge in two of them: Repertoire des Frises ("frises" are borders--the online dictionary defined it as "freeze," which cracked me up: obviously they meant "frieze") and Repertoire des Motifs.
Each book has more than 1100 charts. Here are two random page pairs from Repertoire des Frises:
Embroidery charts can be a bit deceiving for knitters when they show the chart in more than one color. There is an easy way to check out how the chart would look without that distraction: just photocopy at high contrast or scan/photograph, remove the color in Photoshop or anyother picture editing program, and up the contrast to produce a black&white version:
I purchased these books from Threadneedle Street in Issaquah, Washington. I just phoned them and the books were at my door in two days. (There are several other books by this author--click the link at your own risk!)
Details: Repertoire des Frises by Valerie Lejeune ISBN 2 84270 409 6; paperback; 205 pages; $44 Repertoire des Motifs by Valerie Lejeneu ISBN 2 84270 378 2; paperback; 225 pages; $44
In French, by the way, but charts know no boundaries....
TWO: Jamieson's Spindrift is ADDING colors to their line!
Here are the first four: Hairst (Autumn); Marjoram; Charcoal; and Eggshell (my photo does not do them justice). The first two are familiar names to those who try to re-create classic Alice Starmore designs. These are already in stock at Two Swans Yarns, and I expect other retailers will be carrying them, too. The distributor says that more colors are coming!
THREE: For those who enjoy lace, a new learn-along project is coming up at Schoolhouse Press: Amy Detjen's Pansy Shawl. Amy has designed a Faroese-shaped shawl knit from the side that incorporates short-row shaping and the centered eyelet that she devised. Introductory material has already been posted; the project itself launches on October 1. I've got some handspun set aside for this.
FOUR: The teaser for the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat in Tacoma this February has been posted. Lots of wonderful teachers--and this is only a teaser, there's more to come. I will be teaching the 1-day Color in Fair Isle class (only once, though, so if you want to take it be on the ball at registration time!). I offered to teach a Speed Cabling class ....
As for me, I've set aside non-stranded knitting for a while. Clearly I'm not capable of it (see the Speed Cable post for evidence). I've started the Redbud Vest and couldn't be more happy: