Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fingers, Don't Fail Me Now!

It's time again to see if I can get my brain and my fingers to co-operate with each other and play something that vaguely resembles music.  This time, my classes will be in acoustic guitar.  I decided on the acoustic this time around, partly out of laziness.  I don't want to drag around a guitar and an amplifier.  I'll take my acoustic lessons and try them out on both type of guitars. 

A co-worker has been singing the praises of Swallowhill, so that's where I'm going.  It sounds like a fun place and not just a music school. 

I'm working my way, in inches, not in miles, towards a lifelong dream.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hillswick Lumber - The Yarn

A lovely package from Yarns International arrived in the mail yesterday.  No, it wasn't a surprise.  I did place the order. This is one bag of yarn, but it's packed two rows high, so I flipped the bag over to show both sides. 

Click on picture to enlarge it.  Use the Back button to return here.
This beautiful wool is to make "Hillswick Lumber" from the book The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Anne Feitelson.  You can see what the finished sweater looks like using the colors above, if you click here.  The yarn is the same as what is called for in the pattern.  I found this closeup on another website, here.  It's 2-ply Jumper Weight Yarn from Jamieson & Smith.

There is a knitalong for this sweater, starting in a few days, and another picture of what it looks like when finished here.

I really shouldn't be starting another sweater.  Project monogamy is not one of my strengths. 

My initial reaction to the sweater when I saw the picture was how pretty it is, and that I don't have a sweater in this color.  My second reaction was to wonder how I can cut down on the bulk under the arms.  Since the yarn only arrived on Friday, I haven't made that decision yet, but I'm thinking that narrowing the sleeves will help a great deal.  I'll revisit that issue when I start knitting.

First, I'll need to work a swatch.  I love traditional sweaters and I'm happy to be adding another one to my project list - along with all the 1,697 others already on it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

L'il Ed & The Blues Imperials

I had a really good time listening to L'il Ed and the Blues Imperials at the Toad Tavern last night. Not only is L'il Ed a talented guitar player and really good singer, but this man is a trip. He is a natural on stage, a real crowd pleaser. He sings, he plays guitar, he's funny and has the biggest grin you can imagine. His eyes are very expressive and at times, he'll look at the crowd and just by the way he looks at you, he's telling another whole story. 

If you click here, you can hear the same song that the group opened with.

The rest of the band is good.  The rhythm guitarist sang a couple of songs that the crowd loved.  But. it's hard to take your eyes off L'il Ed, dressed so colorfully, with a trademark fez on his head. His hat tonight (he has several with different decorations) was red and covered in sequins. The rest of his outfit was pretty "out there" too. His shoes were about the same color as his hat.

All in all, it was a good reason to stay out late on a school night.  Now, I have to put on my thinking cap and go to a class in advanced Excel.  TGIF!

If you're in the Denver area, why not head over to A Knitted Peace for social knitting tonight?  Besides knitting, the group will be discussing a book this evening, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" by Laurie R. King.  I haven't finished reading it yet, but it'll be interesting to hear other's opinions of the book.  I'm liking it lot so far.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doubling My Pleasure

If once is really good, then twice must be really, REALLY good.  Last year I went to the Paramount Theater in Denver to hear and see the Playing For Change Band.  I was lucky enough to be sitting in the front row, center.  After the show, those in this section were invited to stay and meet the group.  Not only was each and every musician talented, funny and obviously in love with what they were doing, but they were nice, too.  They posed for pictures, answered questions and enthusiastically interacted with their fans.  I've seen a LOT of bands over the years - but this group is definitely in my top favorites for live performances (Santana puts on a dynamite live show).

So, imagine how thrilled I was to hear that they were coming back to the area, to the Boulder Theater on November 5th.  Yesterday, I was ready, on the computer, to buy my ticket the minute they were available and, again, I'm in the front row, in the center.  I absolutely cannot wait to hear  Clarence Bekker (Amsterdam) with his powerful voice, Mermans Kenkosenki (Matadi, Congo) who is not a great singer but a guy who can't stand still and has the crowd laughing and singing along with him; Grandpa Elliott (New Orleans) who is soulful, charming and a crowd favorite; and all the other musicians and singers. 

I feel very lucky to be seeing them again.  But first, I'm checking out L'il Ed and the Blues Imperials on Thursday.  I've never seen him before, but from the clips I've looked at online, I'm betting that I'll be smiling a lot after his show.  I'll post about it on the weekend. 

Here's a video about Playing For Change from their website:

At the end of this clip, if you want to hear more, there should be a group of related videos at the bottom and you can click on them.

I love their postive energy and their message.  I felt the same thing when I saw Bob Marley in 1976.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who donated books.  They will be boxed up and prepared for mailing on Thursday.  You've made many people very happy. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Carmichael Aran - Getting Started

Okay, the knitting, finally:
The Carmichael Aran is underway.  Yesterday I did the ribbing for the back of the sweater.  Here's what it looked like while in progess.

I've got a long way to go until it's a sweater!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Carmichael Aran - The Yarn

I've pulled out this basket of lovely undyed yarn, Rowan's purelife "British Sheep Breeds DK" in #780 Bluefaced Leicester   It's time to start this new project as it has been in my head and partially on paper for some time.  It's time to get the stitches onto the needles.

I'm naming this sweater The Carmichael Aran as it's a gift for someone.  Check out Dennis' amazing artistic skills by clicking here.  I'm in awe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Used Books and DVDs

What do you do with your old, no-longer-needed paperbacks, DVDs, hard cover books, etc.?

Your books can make a difference to people who have almost no books and yet have a great urge to learn.  We often take our books, and the ease with which we can obtain them, for granted.  Here is an excerpt from the Gypsy Faith website, describing the problem:

"There is no bookstore or news stand on the island of Luta (Rota) where we live in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Three thousand people can't access books. The local people, who are mostly poor, desiring books, spent all their tax dollars to build a library. Just after completion, a super-typhoon hit our island heavily damaging the never-used library, which stands empty now. Unlike other populations, our native islanders rarely have credit cards and do not shop online. The few books that do make it here are loved almost to death."

Rota is north of Guam. Click to enlarge the map.  Use your Back button to come back here.

The donated books will be used as part of low-cost subscription service for the islanders.  For more information, check out the Gypsy Faith website, the organizer of this project, here:  http://www.gypsyfaith.com/Build_a_Bookstore.php

If you have any books or DVDs that you'd like to donate to this project, before the end of August, I will be happy to pick them up if you're in the Denver area.  I live in the south, in the Highlands Ranch area.

My boss, Susan, and co-worker, Jane, will be shipping the books off at the end of the month.

Even if you only have one book or one DVD to donate that will expand the reading selection for people who barely have any books at all. You can tie your items together and include a piece of paper with your name (and even a small note if you wish) and I will pack it in the box that way so she knows that these books/DVDs came from many different people in Colorado.

As a person who loves reading, I'm happy to support this project.  I, myself, don't have many books to donate, but every single book means a lot.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time & Money

L'il Ed picture from this website:
What would you do if you had unlimited time and money?  Me?  I'd be constantly on the move.  I'd visit all the places I've ever wanted to see, knitting all the way. 

I'd also see a lot of bands play live.  But hey, I can do that anyway.  Next week I'm heading over to the Toad Tavern (formerly the Horny Toad until the local residents complained about the name) to see L'il Ed and the Blues Imperials

Check out the hat.  Doesn't that look like a fun one?  Now, if only I had the time to make one, perhaps a good felting + needle felting project?  Just kidding.  I'm not a felting fan.  Oh well.

I think I'll take along a sock project to work on before the performance.  Anyone else going?  If so, bring your knitting and I'll see you there!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Saroyan In Progress

I don't know about other knitters, but I suspect that they might do as I do when I go on vacation:  pack too many knitting projects.  I took 4 of them with me for a week, but ended up working only a little on 3 of them.  One was Braydon's sweater, another was a sock that I worked on during the flight.

The third was the Saroyan scarf.  I started it twice on vacation, trying to get a fabric that I liked.  The yarn I'm using is about a fingering, maybe a light-fingering, weight so I first tried a US #3/3.25 mm needle as I thought it would give me a nice drape.  However, it was too loose and the stitches were uneven.  I went down two needle sizes to a US #1/2.5mm needle, but it was too dense a fabric.  Today, now at home, I started again with a US #2/2.75mm needle and I'm liking the results so far.

I like the way this scarf is constructed.  You can use any weight of yarn, which is especially nice if you're trying to use up your stash.  The scarf is made up of three sections:  increase, straight and decrease.  You cast on with a needle that you find gives you the drape and fabric that you like.  Then, you work the 14-row repeat section until it's the width that you want.  Each of the repeats gives you a leaf border on one side.  Next, you work straight, and then work the decrease section equal to the length as the increase section.  You can see a schematic on the designer's website.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but there is no difficulty changing to a different weight.

The design is easy, but with enough of a pattern to keep me from getting bored.  The changing colors of the yarn keep me going, too.  The scarf will be getting progressively darker and darker in color.  A fun knit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shaker Stitch Pullover

I finished Braydon's sweater the night before he came to Kingston with his parents and I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  I thought I was going to be able to follow a Sirdar pattern that I'd found, but there were too many things that I wanted that were different than on the pattern, so I ended up winging it. 

It doesn't yet have buttons as I didn't have a suitable needle with me to sew them on.  I'll do that later.  I could only find plain buttons in Kingston and perhaps I'll be able to find something more interesting later.  The stitch I used is the Shaker Rib Stitch.  There are a number of variations on how to accomplish it.  I worked into the stitch below on every knit stitch.  Some suggest that you do that only on the right side of the garment.  I like the cushy feel of the thick stitches. 

The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly DK in navy, a bit darker than in the photo above.  The one below is about right, on my monitor, anyway.  It was in my stash.  It feels good to shop the stash.  I must make a habit of it!  The sweater is about size 2 to 3 years.  Braydon is almost 7 months old, wearing a 12-month size, so it'll be a while before he can wear the sweater. 

He did model it for me, however, with a little help from his Mom.  He declared the sweater "YUMMY"!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Trip

While in Kitchener, I checked out a yarn store, of course!  I went in search of Yarn Indulgences.  This place, below, matched the address, but didn't look like any yarn store that I'd ever visited.  But, I went inside and found a large, almost empty hall.  Almost empty.  Inside the front door were yarn displays and a counter with a cash register.  Apparently, this is a market on weekends, but the yarn store stays there all week, while other vendors leave.

The yarns were very nice and the most popular and plentiful brand they carried was Debbie Bliss.  I picked up a ball of the Deonegal Luxury Tweed Aran for my Travel Afghan.  It will remind me of this shop and, of course, I had to choose blue for the Blues Festival.  It is 85% wool and 15% angora, 88 metres/50grams. 

From there I drove the four hours to Kingston to visit my parents.  My daughter, son-in-law and grandson (such a cutie!) came to Kingston, too, as they had two upcoming weddings in the area to go to,  I finished knitting the Shaker Stitch sweater that I made for Braydon, but it's still very big on him, which really is fine.  I picked up buttons, but the darning needle that I brought with me to sew in the ends was too large for the holes in the buttons.  I'll sew them on when I go to see them next time in Calgary.  I'll post pictures and the details in my next posting.

In sad news, a few hours after landing back in Denver yesterday evening I received word that my father had died.  It's sad, but after years and years of escalating, debilitating strokes, it was a blessing.  He was 90 and had lived a full life.  I saw him several times in the hospital and nursing home while I was in Kingston.

Update:  I knit the next block of my Travel Afghan today using the Debbie Bliss yarn.  It's very nice to work with and the bits of angora add interest.  That makes 40 blocks/trips completed.  Unless I plan another trip soon, my next one will be to Venice Beach, California in October to visit with my friend, Ana.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I'm home from vacation and Southern Ontario was as humid as I remembered.  I was surprised at how often it rained, but I didn't mind.  At least it didn't rain when I was at the Kitchener Blues Festival.  I got to hear some excellent music, and wish I could have heard everyone.  Here are just a few:

Waterstreet Blues Band


Sean Pinchin and Trevor Caswell

...and my favorite, Delta Moon, who blew away the crowd with their performance.

After Kitchener, I went to visit with family in Kingston.  Today I flew back from Toronto to Denver with a connection in Minneapolis where I saw former comedian, now U. S. Senator, Al Franken, boarding a plane to San Diego.  It was just pointed out in the comments that I kinneared Al Franken.  I guess I did!

That's enough for today's post.  More later....

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sculptured Fair Isle by Jean Moss

I'm still away on vacation without my computer, and I'm hoping to have some knitting to show you when I return.  For now, I'll share a project from the past.

A long, lonnnnnggg time ago, before there were the 48 Rowan magazines, there were 6 amazing little Rowan Journals.  They were published 3 times a year for two years for members of Rowan International.  The first one was 32 pages, and that included both sides of the covers!  I have all of these small magazines and love them a lot. I have spent a lot of time just browsing through them over and over again, and I still enjoy them.   This is the first one:

I like the articles about designers' studios and the beautiful patterns. I still get compliments when I wear my "Sculptured Fair Isle" by Jean Moss from the first issue.  Jean designed this sweater for Ralph Lauren about 25 years ago. I made it with a German cotton from Wolle Rödel.  It was my local yarn store when I lived in Lahr-im-Schwarzwald (how I miss that city).

The yarn worked up to the correct gauge, was a matte cotton and came in large variety of colors, which is just what I needed.  Aside from the fair isle design, which I liked, there were also some purl stitches which made a textured design.  All in all, a very nice, well-written pattern.  I think that the sweater has withstood the test of time.  I would have no hesitation to make this one again someday, should this one wear out.  As a matter of fact, I may do just that as the cotton has stretched some since I first knit the sweater.  I made it in colors as close as I could match them from the original. I liked it just the way it was.  Here is the picture from the pattern in the magazine:

Monday, August 9, 2010


I was going through a file of pictures on my flash drive recently and came across this one that I'd saved:

I like this sweater a lot and I'd love to make it, but I can't find the pattern.  All I know is that it's from either Bouton d'Or or Anny Blatt.  If anyone has any information, I'd like to hear from you.  I don't mind if the pattern is in French.  I have written to the company, but so far I haven't had a reply.  I guess I could always deconstruct it and make my own version. 

Speaking of fabulous designs, how I'd love to make some of the beautiful art sweaters sold by Peruvian Connection.  I wish they'd issue a book of knitting patterns.  I've been admiring their sweaters for years. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rowan 48

Rowan's largest magazine yet, #48, recently showed up in my mailbox along with this year's gift.  The gift is a knitting bag and I have to admit, it smells kind of stinky.  It's made of burlap.  I put it outside to air out and the smell is improving quickly.

There are a number of designs that inspire me.  I like the fairisle design "Nonna" by Erika Knight and if I was to make it, I'd be tempted to use the same colors as in the magazine.  It's very pretty, a little bright, and quite cheerful.  I'd love to change Grace Melville's "Natalya" into a more classic jacket.  It's a nice plaid design.  Marie Wallin's "Vera" also drew me in immediately, and in the exact colors shown.

It's nice to see that Kaffe Fassett continues to contribute to the Rowan magazine.  His "Lidiya" makes me want to start pulling out dozens of colors and start knitting away.  I'd made it as a sweater, not as a dress, however.  I do wish that he'd come out with some totally new and distinctive designs.  I also wish he put all those designs into a new book.  I miss the anticipation and excitement I felt when his first books on knitting were published.  I would savor every page.

I'm not thrilled with the huge, oversized cabled pieces.  I love cables and aran knitting, but these don't do it for me.  How lovely that there is a section called "Timeless" which contains feminine sweaters, some worn by a distinguished older lady. 

There are a couple of articles and I wish there were more, and not much crochet, which pleases me since I don't crochet.  All in all, it's a good offering this time around.

One of the items on my bucket list is to visit Rowan in England and perhaps take a class.  I've been a fan since the very beginning.  If I ever get caught up on all my current knitting, I'd love to join the Rowan Project (can't remember where I read about it, Ravelry, perhaps?) in which you knit something from every magazine.  Changes are allowed in order to make the sweater, or whatever, suit your own taste, but you are to rely heavily on the aspects of the original design.

I'll make some of the designs, but I don't know about one from every magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Vacation Blues

If all has gone as planned, then I am in Kitchener, Ontario right now for the Kitchener Blues Festival.  I love, love, love listening to live music:  the tunes, the excitement, the ambiance, the enthusiastic crowds, everything. 
First, I had planned my trip to Canada to go to Kingston (hometown) to see my parents, and then found out that my daughter, son-in-law and grandson were flying in from Calgary to go to a couple of weddings.  Bonus.  Then, I realized that my trip would coincide with the Blues Festival.  Another bonus, as I could go there first before heading to Kingston.  Then, I found out that one of my favourite (Canadian spelling - I'm in Canada!!) bands was playing.  I'm going to listen to Delta Moon tonight.  I haven't heard them for three years.  Here's a clip from when they played the Kennedy Center.

This knitter has her priorities.  My hotel is not only walking distance from the Festival fun, but also walking distance to a yarn shop, Yarn Indulgences.  I'm heading over there this morning.  I need to find a ball of yarn to add another block to my travel afghan.  I'll blog about it when I get back home.  By the way, I didn't bring my laptop with me on this trip, but I have written and scheduled posts for the time I'm away, so I hope that you'll check back.   

Have a good day ~ Bonne journée!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm on vacation, as of about 2 hours ago!  I'm all packed and ready to head to DIA in a few hours.  I hope that the scary/ugly blue horse sculpture with the eyes that light up red outside the airport doesn't frighten me too much!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Saroyan Scarf

Isn't this a pretty scarf? 

It's called Saroyan and can be found on Ravelry, here.  I thought it was pretty, but once I saw Elisabeth's version,  above, I knew that I had to make it.  I'm taking this on vacation with me and I hope that I'll have time to get it started.  I'm using Wolle's Yarn Creations Color Changing Cotton, which is what was used in the picture. The color I have is called "Tropical", which I blogged about when I bought it.

I think I've found the best pattern for the yarn.  I can hardly wait to get started.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Right Stuff - Part Three (Final)

Okay, so I'll show you a couple more sweaters that I made for my early teen daughter and then I'll put this to rest.

I made one more NKOTB sweater.  The dancing singers were adapted from graphs by Wendy Phillips.  This one was the most work of all and I only made the one sweater.

I made a Peace sweater for Jessica and one of her friends.  I did the graph for the peace sign, but I got the peace V-sign somewhere else.  I can't remember where.  It's been a long time, 15 to 20 years ago. The peace pin seems a bit redundant, doesn't it?

As long as I'm showing off old sweaters.  I made this one of James Dean for one of my neighbors around the same time.  She wanted it and at the time I was willing to knit it for her.  It was in an old British machine knitting magazine.

I'll show some of my other sweaters from the past, but this is it for old pop culture.