Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crazy 38

I turned 38 & lost my mind.

My husband threw me a small birthday party at our local coffee shop. I had a brillant(?) idea. In lieu of gifts our guests should each bring me one skein of yarn. Before my next birthday I will knit each person something, of my choosing, with that skein of yarn (a hat, a scarf, a cowl, etc).

Everybody wins!

I get to open gifts at my party and get hours of entertainment knitting. All my friends receive a lovely hand made surprise. Sounds like a great idea.

It was, until I realized the next day that I had 10 projects to find & knit over the course of 12 months. Add holiday knitting into the mix and I will be a very busy person this year.

2010 A Knitting Odyssey

2009's knitting was about quantity. 2010 was all about quality.
I started the year with a scarf for myself that I love. Shades of Green (Painted Zig Zag Scarf) is made with Debbie Mumm's Traditions yarn. It's a mostly acrylic yarn, but I love the colors.

The rest of the winter was full of big projects. I started a sleeping cap (1840 Nightcap by Franklin Habit) for my friend Ezra in November. It was a nightmare. I put it away until after the new year & got it finished by the end of January to send as a late Christmas present. The opening of the cap came out too big. It only fits him if he folds it over which then ruins the beautiful detailed edging. I hated the yarn for this project (Aunt Lydia's Fashion Crochet), it hurt my fingers.

My birthday sweater this year was Norah Gaughan's Tilted Duster (Tilt da Syrup, done in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, color Maple Syrup). I got the yarn from Santa! The sweater turned out too big as well. However, I did get to spend my birthday in Concord, MA antique shopping with Alicia where I bought the buttons for this sweater.
2010 was a big learning year. I learned stranded colorwork & made the Fiddlehead Mittens! They are two of my proudest moments. I did them as opposites, using the green & brown differently on each one.

As spring started or as winter faded, however you like to think of it, I made a pair of socks & a couple of hats. My Jaywalkers were a challenge. I had made one sock, but didn't really account for the lack of give in the pattern. After frogging & starting over I ended up with a great pair of socks! I made a Hawkeye for Steve & loved it so much I made one for myself.

I did a project this year that I am very proud of. I made a Hemlock Ring Blanket for my sister as a wedding shower gift. I started it in February & motored along to finish in April, almost 2 months before the shower. I was lucky enough to find a local dry cleaner to block it out for me. I think my sister liked it, but I have yet to see it at her house anywhere.In April I chose a new yarn & free pattern from Berroco (Ari knit with Weekend). Cute little cropped sweater for spring. I made especially for my trip to New Orleans in May. Of course when we got there I certainly did not need a sweater. It was so hot & humid just looking at that sweater made me feel sick.

Early summer I made a couple of little things for people I like. Our accountant & his wife were expecting a baby in August, so I made some bibs for her (Simple Baby Bib). My friend Dorian asked me if I could make him a hackey sack (Catch by Cirilia Rose). I found a pattern, used some scrap yarn & lentils. It's cute.

The next 3 projects were for me, myself & I. I did a Whisper Cardigan in Ultra Alpaca Light and a Brattleboro Hat in Ultra Alpaca. Both are in the same color. I bought this yarn years ago for something else that never came to fruition. They have gone on to be better things, I think.

I also made Cookie A's Hedera socks using Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn. Loved this yarn! Love these socks! Best socks I have made yet. Second Cookie A sock pattern I have done. I like her stuff & understand her patterns.

Christmas knitting started late this year. I almost didn't do any at all. For my mom a Lava Flow cowl. This is a loose, hanging cowl/mobieus. I had the Jo Sharp yarn for a long time & didn't know what to do with it. This was the perfect project. My aunt Lyn & my sister received Fetching for Christmas. Lyn's were done in Mirasol's K'acha. Nice yarn, but not perfect for these mitts. She liked them. Betsy's mitts were made with Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK. Much better. This is also yarn I had lying around for years (I still have plenty left). Matchmaker really brought out the cable detail in this pattern. I think they look very sharp. My cousin Jeff got a combo gift this year. I knit the Six Pack Carrier by Libby Bruce from Pints and Purls. I chose Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Bruins colors black & gold. My husband filled the carrier with homebrew. Now that's a gift!

My last project of the year was my most challenging (even over the Fiddleheads). Steve wanted convertible mittens so that it would be easier to use the snowblower & keep his hands warm. I found a pattern that I really loved. It ended up a nightmare pattern. It was from WWII England. It was hard to understand so half of it was scrapped & rewritten. After many froggings and very bad language they were finished & wonderful. 2011's knitting summary will start with what happens to these very functional men's mittens. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

1st Anniversary

Today marks the 1st anniversary of the passing of a remarkable being. On June 3, 2009, after 11 years, Flannel left us. As some of you know, she was a dog with her own style & never hestitated to speak her mind. She is greatly missed by her family (probably not so much by her neighbors).

Flannel was with me through 11 years, 2 relationships, 4 apartments, 5 jobs, 4 roommates, 3 cars and countless hours of knitting. She knew all my secrets and I knew hers. She had terrible manners and a nasty habit of biting my feet in the middle of the night if disturbed. She had terrible breath and an insane love of couscous. When you have a pet there are just some things you will put up with because you love them unconditionally. Just like they do you.

She was the first dog I ever had (& she may be the last) and, like most friends, she is irreplaceable.

I love you Boo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Knit '09

Well, 2009 was quite a year! Here are some of the knitting highlights.

* Wicked Wormtown Swettah (Wicked done in Araucania Nature Wool) was my birthday sweater for 2009. I got most of it done while sick with one of the worst colds I've had in a long time. Come to find out I was so sick because I didn't want to take a new job that I was hired for. Not long after this I decided to buy Amethyst Point. The rest is history. Also, I wore this sweater in my new license photo. I hope the cop that pulls me over notices my handiwork.

* Bloomin' Clap (Clapotis) was worked on through the Super Bowl, birthday and the rest of the horrid winter. The yarn is Elizabeth Austen, Andes.

* Affe Socken (Monkey Socks), done in Zitron Trekking XXL, were actually started in October 2008. I did one sock then got bored. I finished the 2nd sock while lounging in my new hammock late spring. These socks will always remind me of my BFF Flannel. I worked on these socks while spending her last days with her doing what she loved most, lying in the grass. I also did Washing-ton (A Dishcloth You Can Believe In!) at this time.

* In March, I started February Lady Sweater (NY Yarns, Olympic). Finished in early July, who thought I would get to wear it not long after. July was miserable!

* The rest of the summer was filled with smaller projects, Cypress Twig Cap (Twig Lace Cap), Official Kittyville Hat, Stolen Moments Wrap & a French Press Cozy for a swap that I joined.

* As our very brief summer turned into fall, I did a sweater for myself (Neck Down Hooded Tunic For Women) & a sweater for Alicia (Nimbus). Both sweaters came out ok. I ran out of yarn for my sweater & had to track down a woman in Juneau, AK who had a ball for sale. Ah, the perks of knitting with sale yarn (usually means it's discontinued!). The button made of antler is the highlight of this sweater. With Alicia's sweater I had plenty of yarn. In fact, I should have used more of it. Following the pattern makes this cropped sweater too short. I made the sleeves longer but did not want to redo the body. Thank god I used a fabulous button, yet again! It really saved the sweater.

* Christmas projects were next on my list. I had pulled my aunt Denise's name in the family grab. This was good news. I knew she would love a sweater & she's fairly small. I measured her at the Labor Day BBQ, chose a pattern (Sunrise Circle Jacket) & ordered the yarn. I made 4 Wham Bam Thank You Lamb Neckwarmers (one for myself), 2 Green Living Totes (which I worked on while on Thanksgiving holiday in The Hamptons. That just doesn't get old.), the felted Windy City Tote for Mom (tears were shed during that project), Hot Out Of The Oven pot holders for my cousin Katie & French Press Felted Slippers for myself.

2010 hopes to be even more successful. Colorwork, a lace throw and yet another birthday sweater are all upcoming. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Been 10 Years and a Thousand Tears...

Last week marked the 10 year anniversary of the tragic passing of John F. Kennedy Jr. This death would not have made such an impression on me (as I am not a Kennedy family fan) except for the fact that exactly one week later my life was touched by an untimely death.

I remember getting out of bed the morning after JFK jr's accident and turning on the tv to discover that his plane had gone down in the Atlantic Ocean killing all 3 people on board. I will never forget it because on July 24, 1999 (one week later) I was awakened by a friend's knock on the door with awful news that our friend Mark Baxter had died suddenly the night before.

On the surface these two men were very different in their lives. One was forced to live his life for all to see, the other led a quiet life with family, friends and a job he loved.

Ten years later, with age and wisdom, I see some similarities in these two men that I never saw before. Neither of them wanted to be in the spotlight. JFK jr. chose to work behind the scenes with a team of people instead of cashing in on his family name and good looks. Mark was a good sturdy guy that was sure enough of himself to let others be the center of attention. They were both perfect, but flawed men. Years after their deaths, many may want to make them larger than life and pure. It's natural for us to only remember the good things. It takes time in the grieving process to see the real human being in the ghost. In Mark's case we love him all the more for it.

I believe if they were still with us they would have done simple, but beautiful things for a great number of people. I won't try to presume what JFK jr. might be doing with his life at this time. And though I have thought about it, I shouldn't try to assume what Mark would be doing now either. One thing I feel certain about, his friends would be by his side. After Mark died some of those that missed him too much to bear left town. The rest of us stayed; some still spend time together, some do not.

Personally, I took time not only to grieve for someone that I cared for very much, but to take stock of what was truly important to me. To this day, when I'm contemplating a decision, I think of Mark's death & ask myself if it is really where I should be. Life is short and I don't want to waste time. Mark taught me, through example and wonderful conversation, that when you are true to yourself you will be surrounded with true friends. As the years have passed, I've have learned to be my true self and eliminate unhealthy situations and people from my life. I am now surrounded by a beautiful family, friends and husband.

The tragic end of your life changed the course of mine. I miss you and love you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


As two thousand eight comes to a close, I would like to remember those projects that made me laugh, made me cry, made me curse and swear I will never knit again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sweater, Baby

Jen & Steve Espach are proud to announce the birth of

Woodland Henley Espach

Born September 30, 2008

Conceived December 30, 2007

Size 60"/ Weight 2lbs
Color - Brown