Friday, December 28, 2007

blogging thoughts and baby knits

Part I: Thoughts on Blogging

I've gotten into a bad blogging cycle. In the beginning, I'd blog about any little thing, from turning a heel to starting a lace pattern. Somehow I've transitioned to where I feel like my posts should be more collected, significant, and well-presented.

The problem is that I rarely manage to be significant and well-presented, so I end up rarely posting. When I do post, it's usually a pithy little thing that I toss out there when I feel like it's been way too long since my last post. I have a whole backlog of FO's and dyeing experiments and book reviews that I'd love to blog about but couldn't find the energy to write up well.

Enough of that, I say! Time to get back to the beginner's mind.

Part II: Baby Gifts

This is a bonnet and booties that I knit for my godmother's daughter, who had a baby girl in the fall. I am so happy with how the set turned out! The bonnet is the Lacy Bonnet from Knitting for Two, trimmed with heart-patterned cloth ribbon. The booties are Saartje's Booties, trimmed with heart buttons. Yarn is Ornaghi 'Merino Kind Superfine,' which is a soft and springy fingering-weight merino.

I tried two other bootie patterns before I met success with Saartje's pattern. It's quick and sweet, and the garter stitch makes the booties stretchy. My only difficulty was with the button loops on the strap-ends. I ended up making an eyelet at the tip (with a yo, k2tog in the middle row), which I then crocheted around. It made for a decorative loop that sets off the buttons.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Congratulations, Isis

Thought you'd all LOVE to know that Isis won fourth place in The Panopticon's Dolores look-alike contest. Here's the winning entry, in all her wool-wigged, sunglassed glory:

The post with all the winners is here. It's fun to see how everyone has reinvented Dolores!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Here's a peek at a few strange, crafty touches to Christmas at my house:

1. Centerpiece of yarn in a glass bowl

2. Owl tree topper:

(You can see the construction better from the back: I cut out plastic canvas to shape the wings and inner tube, stitched felt around the shapes, stitched a soft head and secured it to the top of the tube, stuffed the body with a bit of wool, and glued on a mess of feathers)

3. Wool doily.

I made this by casting on 12 stitches, knitting one row to join in a circle, and then increasing in 12 sections (first inc row was {yo,k1}, second was {yo,k2} and so forth, with a plain knit row in between each increase row). It doesn't lay flat and has no apparent purpose. But - hey! - it used up an odd partial ball of Ultra Alpaca from my stash.

4. Winter Accessories for the Buddha

We don't want the Buddha to get cold! His hat and scarf were inspired by the statues we saw at a temple in Nara, a number of which had been covered in hand-knits.

LOVE the capelet!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Japanese yarn stores

It's so nice to be home, spending my Saturday morning sleeping in (yay jet lag), drinking Earl Grey tea, and sifting through travel photos.

Fall colors, Kyoto. Very surreal that I spent the last ten days in that landscape and people-scape!

The back story is that Mountain Man had a conference, and I tagged along. The back, back story is that this felt momentous for me because I'd been seriously into Japanese everything (language, food, aesthetics, religion) in college. That side of me gradually faded away as I got drawn into other interests, and it's been ten years since I've been to Japan or spoken Japanese.

Needless to say, my language skills were pitiful, despite active pre-trip remedial study (I read the phrasebook very carefully). But those years of mind-strainingly difficult study haven't all gone to waste: even pitiful Japanese can come in handy for finding yarn! And that's what this post is really about: two fantastic yarn shops.

The first was Avril, in central Kyoto. According to the internets, Avril's yarn is what's sold as Habu in the states. Avril's shop was visually stunning:

and their yarn was just as exceptional. Although luscious colors abounded, I was most taken with the undyed silk yarn that they produced in an incredible array of textures: papery, cottony, slippery, raffia-like, stiff, silky. No closeups, I'm afraid. They're on the left half of the store's cute balcony:

I brought home two 100g skeins of a soft, cottony silk yarn that had been dyed with rosemary. The color is halfway between green tea and tatami mat (lighter and greener than in this photo). So prettily wrapped!

The second amazing shop I found was Masuhisa, in the southernmost shopping arcade in central Nara. They specialize in organic cotton goods, which (if I understood right) they grow on their company's own farms.

They have a gorgous range of colorgrown cottons and plant-dyed silks, but I was most drawn to their soft, pure white, organic cotton. I brought home several 100g skeins of it -- I would've bought more if I could've fit it in my suitcase!

We have some great organic cottons available in the states, but none of them begin to approach the heavenlyness of this yarn. It's much lighter and finer than what we can get here, and it manages to be unbelievably soft without being too loosely spun.

I managed to offset these stash enhancements with some stash-knitting on this trip. But it was all gift knitting ('tis the season for it), so those photos will just have to wait.