Where I’ve Been, Part III

After leaving Arcadia Knitting with a heavy heart and no new yarn, I had to go back down to the Convention Center to pick up my backpack before going back uptown to my sister’s place.  It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was a little concerned about getting to the bag check before it closed for the day, so I took one of the three cab rides I took during my time in Chicago.

I had stuffed my backpack full of ARCs picked up at the Exhibits, you see.  It was much to heavy to carry all over the place.  And the bag check was free.

Backpack on, it was back to the Loop, then back on the El, and back to my sister’s place to change for the Newbery Banquet.  And then back on the El, back to the Loop, just in time to miss the last shuttle bus. Back in the cab.

I arrived a little bit after the doors opened, completely missing the (cash bar) cocktail hour.  I was seated with a couple of lovely ladies from the incoming Caldecott committee (one of whom works near my in-laws in the San Gabriel Valley), and three very nice gentlemen.  At the first table in my line of sight to the podium sat Elizabeth Bird, whose recap of the whole evening is a must-read.

The food was interesting, but the speeches were fantastic.  And after dinner was the receiving line.  I was behind Elizabeth, and after a few minutes, I realized that directly behind me was Linda Sue Park.  I gushed over Keeping Score a little bit.  And then I had reached the first person in line.

Me and Neil

Neil Gaiman, me, and my Storm Cloud Shawlette, knit out of Tempted Handpainted Glam Grrl.

Everyone was so gracious to the gazillion library-folk streaming through the line. Well, given that Neil Gaiman was at one end of the line and Ashley Bryan was at the other end, maybe “streaming” isn’t the word for it. I got to have a very nice chat with Beth Krommes about toddlers and Goodnight Moonand gushed a bit to Kathi Appelt about The Underneath. I told her that I thought of it as “stealth fantasy”. And Jacqueline Woodson complimented me on my shawlette.

A fabulous evening, but a late one. I made it back to my sister’s place around midnight for another 4-hours-of-sleep night.

Why did I have to get up so early on Monday? So I could do this:

First!

Gaiman was going to be signing at 9 AM at the HarperCollins booth. Two CTA buses got me to the Convention Center by 7 AM. I staked out a spot near the Exhibit Hall entry closest to the booth. The bemused Security Guards told me I’d be waiting a while. I sat down on the carpet and pulled out my travelling sock. The young lady next to me arrived with her mother about 5 minutes later, and a guy arrived about 10 minutes after that. By the time the HarperCollins employees starting showing up, the line had stretched across the room and was confusing quite a few people, who thought there was now a line just to get into the Exhibit Hall. A very nice HarperCollins representative brought out the signs around 8:30. The one in my hand says, “neil gaiman line starts here”. There was another sign for the end of the line. Other than some drama with a fellow who showed up around 8:30 and wanted to jump the line because he had a meeting to run, everyone was very friendly. There was another sock knitter a few people back, and several people commented on the sock.

One even took a picture and posted it to twitter. Please excuse my hair in that photo. It looks better in this one, which was also posted to twitter, but the sock is hiding.

I wanted to get a picture of Neil holding the sock (a la Steph), but the very first thing he said upon arriving was that he was not going to do posed photos, as that was what had held up the line at his previous signing. He did, however, autograph my “line starts here” sign as well as my book. (I cannot express how annoyed I am with myself for not bringing my stamp packet.)

Another couple of sessions, and that was it for my ALA. I crashed at my sister’s around 6 PM and woke up at 7 the next morning, enough time to pack up, go to Joy’s for another lunch, and get to the airport almost exactly one hour before my scheduled departure.

The next day, K, Little Miss, and I drove down to Sea World for a couple of days, followed by a couple of days of laundry and other chores before returning to work.

There hasn’t been much knitting since we’ve been back, just a little bit of test-knitting that isn’t bloggable, and it’s going to be All Cross-Stitch All the Time around here before long.  But maybe poor neglected Miss Honeychurch will finally get some quality time.

Where I’ve Been, Part I

The silence around here has been for one big reason: I was on vacation.  And it was lovely.  I had several days at home (“staycation”), one of which happened to be either our fourth or first wedding anniversary (depending on who’s doing the counting).  Then, I took off for Chicago.  I got my bamboo dpns through security with no problem, and I did this on the flight from Burbank to Phoenix:

Sock in Progress

A toe in the very soft Artsygal Stripes.

I had about three hours between flights in Phoenix, which turned out to be a very good thing.  I was booked on a different airline for the second leg of my flight.  When I got off the little plane from California, the only monitors in the terminal were for my original airline, and I had no idea where to go.  Eventually, someone told me I needed to be in Terminal 2.  Since I didn’t know which terminal I was in, this wasn’t entirely helpful, but I went with it.

I had to go outside, get on a bus, ride to Terminal 2, go through Security again, and find my new gate.  Bless the Airport Volunteer who warned me which bus would go to the Terminals and which bus went to the parking garages first.

And on the flight from Phoenix to Chicago, I did this:

Sock in Progress

A very simple improvised pattern for a toe-up 2×2 rib sock.  At this point, I was about ready to turn the heel.  Unfortunately, after two attempts to do a short-row heel without a bunch of little holes, I came home with a still-unturned sock.  Since the Artsygal yarn is a little thinner than some of the other yarns I’ve used, I think I want to go down to size US1 needles and start over anyway.

When I arrived in Chicago, my sister was there to pick me up in her car.  Ah, the joy of not having to take the Blue Line into the city.  My sister just bought herself a 2-bedroom condo, so I even had a room to myself while staying with her.  She’s so new to the building, her name hasn’t yet been added to the directory in the lobby.  While waiting for her to park her car, though, I did notice this listing:

For Reals?

How would you like A Dumdum for a neighbor?

Actually, my sister’s neighbors seem perfectly pleasant.  At least, the one we met in the elevator was.

My travelling sock accompanied me to the ALA Conference, where I caused a tiny stir by knitting in a signing line, but that’s a tale for another day.

‘Fess Up Now

Who is it?  I want to know.

Who is hoarding all the 32″ US8 circular needles in the San Fernando Valley?

I am working on a project knit in the round with a whole mess of decreases. After I got gauge on my trusty size 8 Crystal Palace circs, I didn’t want to mess around with any other needles. So I went ahead and cast on with my 16″ circs.

You know how the instructions always tell you to be careful not to twist? When you cram way too many stitches on a 16″ circ, it becomes clear why pattern writers think knitters need a reminder about that.

After at least two false starts, I got a good way into the pattern before completely losing it somewhere and ripping out the whole darn thing. That was when I decided to get a longer circular.

It was Sunday afternoon, and I had a load of laundry going. It had another 20 minutes to go, and my favorite LYS is open for exactly 3 hours on Sundays. I slipped on my sandals and headed out the door.

They didn’t have the needles I needed.

They don’t carry Crystal Palace circs at all, which is fair enough, although they do carry the Crystal Palace DPNs. I scoured the rack of Addi circs for quite a while before I realized that among the many, many plastic-swathed needles there were no 32″ circs in a size US8. US7? Sure. How about 9? You betcha.

With a sigh, I got back in my car and drove to my local big box craft store. I made a beeline for the knitting section and located the array of Crystal Palace circs. Size 8 in 16″? Check. Size 9 in 29″? Check. Size 8 anywhere between 24″ and 36″? Not so much. In fact, that was the one completely empty hook on the wall. I cornered an employee and asked when they might be restocked.

“The truck comes on Fridays,” he said.

Great.

Home I went, where I once again cast on with my 16″ circ. With a dedication to counting stitches that borders on the Obsessive-Compulsive, I have successfully reached the end of the first set of decreases, and by this point I was supposed to have switched to a 16″ circ anyway. Just in case, I stopped at a big box craft store near work last night and picked up a 29″ circ. It can’t hurt to be prepared.

Scarf Weather

When my first installment of the Loopy Ewe Sock Club arrived, I knew there was no way that beautiful skein of cashmere blend was going to become socks.  It was so soft and lovely that I just kept the hank on my desk for weeks, regularly gazing at it and every now and then giving it just a little squeeze.

Handmaiden Casbah

Gorgeous blue and green, and so very squooshy. I decided right away that it was going to be a scarf of some sort, but I needed to find the perfect pattern.

And then came an email from Chrissy, looking for a few testers for upcoming patterns. I was assigned a scarf with lace and cables, designed for Handmaiden’s Swiss Mountain Cashmere & Silk. And I knew exactly what my Casbah was destined to become.

Midnight Lace Scarf

Project Specs:
Pattern: Midnight Lace Scarf, by Chrissy Gardiner. Available at many retailers.
Yarn: Handmaiden Casbah, “Ocean Currents” Colorway. Used as much of the skein as possible.
Needles: Size US 6
Dimensions: 6″ x 64″ – about an inch narrower and shorter than the pattern.
Notes: I blocked this really aggressively, because I knew I had less yardage than the pattern called for. While this works for the lace, the cables are a little bit more stretched out than I would like. Still, the scarf is incredibly soft and cozy. I found the pattern easy to follow and easy to memorize, but with just enough action to keep me interested.

I finished the scarf in early May, just in time for temperatures to hit the 90s around here. This autumn, I’m going to be hard-pressed to decide between this and my green Bugga! Clapotis. I can hardly wait.

The Deadliest… Finger Puppets?

I finished Crabby Crawl for Little Miss over the weekend, but I couldn’t resist playing with the pieces before sewing them up.

The Deadliest Finger Puppet

Creepy, aren’t they? I tried to get a picture of them curling around a door frame, but I couldn’t quite contort myself enough to get a photo of my own hand in that position. And the other members of my household may have had enough of my crab-leg-fingers after I put them on and waved them around eerily in the semi-darkness as we watched The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

Once they were stuffed and sewn onto Mr. Crabby Crawl, though, they were downright cute.

Deadliest Crab

Project Specs

Pattern: The Deadliest Crab, by Amber Allison, in the Summer ’09 issue of Knitty

Yarn: Cascade 220. The white is from a batch I bought at Stitches West a few years back; the orange is from The Loopy Ewe. It took just over half a skein of orange and about a quarter skein of the white.

Needles: Size US4 Crystal Palace DPNs. I went down to 4s, and you can still see stuffing through the stitches in some places.

Notes: The pattern is pretty easy to follow, especially now that the decrease error has been corrected. I also picked up the stitches for the bottom shell in the wrong direction – watch out for that, or you end up with a reverse stockinette belly! I don’t trust “safety eyes” in knitted fabric for the under-3 set, so I cut circles out of black and white felt and sewed them on with matching embroidery floss.

Deadliest Crab

Little Miss found him in the den on Monday morning and immediately exclaimed, “Crabby Crawl!” She proceeded to carry him around by one leg for quite a while. Ah, a girl and her crustacean. Is there a sweeter sight?

Knit Along with Me

I am just about ready to really start knitting on Miss Honeychurch.

Gettin' Ready for Miss Honeychurch

I’ve got my pattern, and my yarn, and my book. That swatch, sadly, is getting about 20 stitches to 4″. I swatched again on size US7s, and perplexingly got the same gauge. I’m not entirely sure how strenuously to block, either, since I’m kind of thinking that no matter how much I block it flat, it’s going to end up longer and narrower once the sweater spends the day hanging from my shoulders. The fabric is pretty loose, so I don’t really want to go up another needle size. I think there’s going to be some math.

If you’d like to proudly proclaim to the Internet that you’re knitting Miss Honeychurch, too, feel free to snag this button:

mhkal

Please save it to your own server. Thanks!

I’m planning to start reading and knitting the first Monday in July, since I have a couple of other projects (both reading and knitting) that I want to wrap up first. Who’s in?

Uncursed

I gave the orange Cascade 220 another shot after I got home from work last night. When I once again found myself short a couple dozen stitches, I finally did the math. Literally. As in, 75-34 does not equal 63. It wasn’t my mistake at all, but an error in the pattern (which had been corrected by the time I looked at it last night). With the correct instructions, I managed to make a very small legless crab.

Crab in Progress

I think he’ll be awfully cute once he gets some eyes.  And a mouth.  And legs.  Don’t you?

It Might Be Cursed

I’m starting to wonder if this particular yarn is cursed.

Cascade 220

Looks perfectly innocent, doesn’t it?  Nice orange Cascade 220 all skeined up, waiting to be knit into a cute toy for Little Miss.  My plan was a carrot from Amigurumi Knits for my daughter’s play kitchen.  I popped the yarn onto my swift, wound it up into a ball, cast on, and happily knit away for several rows before realizing that I had miscounted somewhere along the line.

Off to the Frog Pond with the carrot.  Maybe I should try something else.  So, I cast on The Deadliest Crab and knit merrily away for several rounds, all the way through the first set of bobbles, and then I noticed that something was wrong.

Miscount.  Again.  A really big one this time, and I could not for life of me figure out what happened where.

Ripping out stitches can be so satisfying.

Is This Yarn Cursed?

I’m hoping the third time is a charm in this case.  If this one goes all wonky, I’m afraid this skein will be in need of a time-out, and I’ll just have to comfort myself with stringing another couple hundred beads for Entomology.

The Beading Continues

More Cuteness!

When I wasn’t looking, a whole new knitting e-zine went live. Who knew? And it is full of terribly cute things. Seriously.  Just look at Jacques Crusteau and tell me he’s not adorable. (Little Miss would call him “Crabby Crawl”, of course.) I really like the way the pupils are made of felt and sewn on – I think that’s what I’m going to do for Mr. Deadliest Crab’s eyes.

Summer ’09 is the very first issue of Petite Purls, a new quarterly e-zine full of free patterns for babies and children. The feature articles are on children and crafts, subjects near and dear to my Children’s Librarian heart. Their aesthetic is clean and classic, with a touch of whimsy, and I like the way they describe difficulty levels from “Totally do-able for a mama while breastfeeding or snuggling with baby” to “Seriously? Wait until the kids have been dropped off at college to take on this project”.  (Okay, the descriptions might not appeal so much to the knitting dads/godfathers/uncles.) Patterns in this first issue include – besides our friend Jacques – a Debbie Bliss-inspired little girl’s dress, a cute summer cardi, a sweet cabled vest, a halter dress, and a felted intarsia & fair isle messenger/diaper bag that comes complete with its own changing pad. I hope that future issues might have a few heirloom-style projects, like christening blankets, but I love the very current, wearable feel of the garment patterns.

Very much in the mold of Knitty, Petite Purls is off to a strong start as a great resource for kids’ patterns, whether you’re knitting for your own little one, need to whip up a baby shower gift, or just want one of those bug-eyed lobsters for yourself.

Ready, Set, Wait

I’m all set to get started on Miss Honeychurch (which I keep calling Miss Honeydew – perhaps I need more fruit in my diet), except for one thing.

Just Add Yarn

My yarn is somewhere between Ohio and California. My copy of A Room with a View is also somewhere between a shipping center and my house, but I expect it to arrive today. (A year of Amazon Prime is one of the best holiday gifts I’ve gotten. It is, indeed, the gift that keeps on giving.)

But I have my pattern and a short circular needle for swatching. My plan is to read the book and knit the sweater over the course of July and August.  The sweater should will be done by Labor Day, which is still quite warm in this part of the country.

It’s not like I don’t have anything to knit in the meantime.  The Chicago Illusion Blankie is coming along slowly:

Chicago Illusion Blankie

Each charted row is actually four rows of knitting (two in each color). It’s going a little quicker now that I’ve marked every 10 columns on the chart for easier counting. And it only took ripping out two rows to get me to do it!

And my beloved blue skein of Wollmeise informed me that it didn’t really want to be socks (after I started a cabled sock not once but twice!). It wants to be the Entomology shawl. How could I argue?

The Beginnings of Entomology

250 beads down, 955 to go.