In which I am branded a loose knitter

Published on Sunday January 27th, 2008


I finally brought about the trifecta of Mr. Garter’s Christmas slippers, Mr. Garter’s feet, and the camera in a decent pool of light. These are the Saturday Morning Slippers from Kristin Spurkland’s The Knitting Man(ual), and I’m proud to say that Mr. G has been wearing them regularly since the 25th of December. The yarn is Steadfast Fibers Wonderful Wool in driftwood and groovy green above, and the Wonderful Wool driftwood carried with Green Mountain Spinnery mystery wool on the sole. The Wonderful Wool is basically Lamb’s Pride’s plant-dyed cousin from a little company in Idaho – it’s an Aran-weight wool blended with 15% mohair, and it makes excellent mittens and slippers and wears like iron. I don’t even like to think about how long it’s been in the stash, but now it’s keeping my husband’s feet nice and toasty.

This project was more of a wrassle than a knit: two strands of worsted on size 8 needles in a twisted garter stitch is enough to make your hands beg for mercy. But I fought through them, and since I wasn’t sure there was anywhere in the house I could dry a dense woolen garment in two days without the recipient finding it, I got a little creative with a toolbox and the dehumidifier in the stock room at Knit/Purl. I’m here to tell you there’s no faster way to dry your handknits than to suspend them over the dehumidifier from the handles of two hammers balanced on the fuse box. They were bone dry the next morning and ready for wrapping. It’s nice to have an option for sturdy slippers that doesn’t involve felting. And Mr. G’s pleasure in wearing them means the pain was worthwhile.

While I may be devoted to my husband, my pal Patrick recently accused me of having knitterly commitment issues. Fair enough: from where I sit I can spy the basket containing my Gee’s Bend Log Cabin blanket, my Lily-of-the-Valley corset, my Lotus Blossom shawl, and my Frost Flowers sweater. It’s been at least six months since I’ve touched a single one of them. In the mean time, I’ve cast on roughly nineteen new projects (thanks, Ravelry!). Fourteen of those are finished, five are on the needles, and I’ve flirted (meaning I swatched, which doesn’t count as casting on – it’s like first base) with two more. Mr. G will kindly cover his eyes while I tell you I sassed Patrick that commitment is for poor souls who don’t have a different tasty morsel for every night of the week.

Seriously, do you believe in monogamous relations with your knitting projects? I clearly don’t, but I think the record will show that I finish the ones I start more often than not. I crave variety is all. Last weekend I realized I wasn’t actively working on anything with a needle larger than a US #2. There’s the Trøndelag mitten on #0s, an 80-stitch sock on #0s that I can’t show you yet, and the Ivy lace stole on #2s. A hankering to knit something instantly gratifying drove me to the stash after the bulky cinnabar Perendale wool, and in two days’ time I had a cardigan up to the armpits and a sleeve ready to join it. I busted out another half a sleeve this afternoon. If I don’t run out of wool, this will be my fastest sweater ever. I’m not a big-needle gal, but the #10.5 whoppers surely do crack along! Patrick will be lucky if I don’t call it the Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am cardigan.

But just to prove that I haven’t dropped the torch, I give you Ivy stole progress:


That’s about a third of its total length, not counting the edging I get to pick up and knit with a 47″ #0. Two chart repetitions per week should leave me the whole month of April to gnash my teeth over the edging and half of May to block it with seventeen porcupines’ worth of pins. Don’t begrudge me my other liaisons will I can still get them.

Trot, trot to Boston

Published on Wednesday October 10th, 2007

Mr. Garter and I zipped off to Boston over the weekend for the wedding of two good friends. Naturally, this entailed a lot of last-minute scurrying around, taking our wedding finery to the drycleaners and scheduling haircuts and lining up neighbors to feed the cat and printing driving directions and — most importantly — figuring out what to knit on the plane. Hence, the blog post I started to draft never quite got off the ground, and then I didn’t touch a computer for four whole days. This may be a record for the year, which alarms me just a little, but I’m happy to report I didn’t feel any symptoms of withdrawal. I did, however, feel guilty about not having fed the blog before I went away. Do forgive the hiatus.

So what was I knitting on the plane? I had started a little lace project earlier in the week. The wedding was to be “daytime formal”, and here at Blue Garter we don’t stock a lot of haute couture. My best dress is inherited from Mr. G’s Fashion-Plate Beverly Hills Grandmother, may she rest in peace. It’s lovely, but I feel certain that at one time it had some sort of belt or sash or something in the middle. It needs it. So naturally, I thought I’d knit one to match my shoes. I was in possession of a skein of Habu cashmere laceweight (nabbed on sale) in a complimentary shade. Why is it that it seems like such a brilliant idea to just whip up a little something in yarn the weight of spider silk on size 2 needles when you know the thing needs to be blocked and buttoned in five days’ time? I know I’ve had these impulses before, and I know I cursed myself for giving in to them, and yet it seems I haven’t learned a thing from the experience. At any rate, I pulled it off this time.



I’ll admit to getting certain kicks out of setting foot on a hallowed Ivy League campus. The brick, the lawns, the art museum… you can practically smell the bookish geekdom. Of course there was an entirely different scene kittycorner across the Yard. It was Octoberfest in Harvard Square.


This piratey stilt-clown guy snuck up on me. I totally didn’t know he was there in this picture, except that my camera man was grinning suspiciously.


That other plum-colored bit of knitting I’m wearing isn’t my own work. It’s the Shibui Lace Shrug, and it’s really lovely, and it matched my shoes perfectly.

The wedding (at Memorial Church; we didn’t get all dolled up and go to Harvard just to be quirky) was joyous, and it was a delight to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in five years. This is a crowd I know from the time I spent teaching school in the Bahamas, and they’re top-notch people. You know you’re among top-notch people when, during the wedding supper, everyone around you is suddenly wearing a ridiculous wig. At first it’s your goofy friends, and it’s just good nostalgic fun because the wigs (along with hula hoops) were a favorite party accessory for nights on the dock drinking Kalik beer. But pretty soon the wee flower girls are decked out as Elvis and Little Orphan Annie, and the bride’s father is cutting up the dance floor in a fluorescent pink bob. The wedding pictures are going to be tough to explain, I’m afraid. We had to leave the festivities all too early in order to snatch a few hours’ sleep before the morning flight home.

As it turned out, we missed our connection at Newark and were left with eight hours to wait until the next plane. I was in no mood to spend that much time in my second-least-favorite airport, even after the customer service counter attendant pointed out that there was a “meditation room” available. So we caught the train into the city and enjoyed a quick visit with my brother and his fiancée and a few other good friends. We could hardly keep our eyes open, but it was worth it.

And fortunately, I didn’t have to knit little scraps of lace on the way home. I’d brought my two sweaters to work on, and some lazy hours with my pal Mia and the fabulous entertainment of the Planet Earth DVDs gave me ample knitting time: there’s a veritable sea of blue ribbing in my tote bag just now. More on that next time. Just now I need to get some sleep. Mr. G caught a cold on the way home and I’ve no wish to contract it!

Nuptial lace

Published on Friday August 17th, 2007


When two of your favorite people get married and enrich your family, it’s time to pull out all the stops and let the organ shake the rafters. In a knitterly expression of love, I’m pulling out the cashmere and the prettiest lace patterns I could find. The bride (and the rest of the family, including Selkie the Labrador, much to Mingus’s horror) were visiting for a long weekend, so we had the opportunity to pick out the perfect yarn and the perfect pattern. Our winner?





Maureen Egan Emlet’s Mediterranean Lace, from Meg Swansen’s A Gathering of Lace. With their usual perfect timing, the Spiders gifted me this book (and Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature, and a gift certificate to a local fabric boutique, the generous gals) for my birthday. Ms. Egan Emlet’s design is kind of a mantilla shape, with a large central diamond on the back and two rectangular panels of ivy lace to drape over the shoulders. The bride and I prefer a rectangular stole, so we’re going to ditch the back diamond and just have a long panel of ivy lace with that exquisite leaf edging. It’s knit on size 2 needles, so now’s my chance to acquire an Addi lace circular. Oh, and a 48″ size 0. I guess I’m going to have to special-order that at work — not a needle size most places bother to stock! It’s a big project to take on, this Mediterranean Ivy stole, but Marika is entirely worth it and I do have until next May. The ivy chart doesn’t look too complicated, as the 28-st repetition is only patterned on the right side, and it should be easy to see the leaf shapes forming. You can start placing your bets now on the time it will take me to work the border, which is picked up and knit in the round (on that 48″ size 0), and to crochet the chain edging. I think the basic ivy rectangle had better be done by January! Wish me knitting luck and well-manicured fingers — that cashmere is heavenly soft, but fragile.

I may need an intervention.

Published on Saturday September 3rd, 2005

As you can see from the sidebar, there are way too many projects in the hopper Chez Blue Garter. In all fairness, I have every expectation of finishing Apricot Jacket this weekend: it lacks only buttons and there are a few more ends to weave in. The bolero won’t be far behind – I finished one sleeve knitting with the Spiders yesterday evening and it won’t take long to dash off another. The several yards of lace edging may drag out for another week or two, but I intend to finish it in time for a wedding in Chicago on September 16, and I think I’ll make that deadline. And I only have a few more inches of sock foot before the feather-and-fans will be ready for wear.

But let’s talk new projects. I’ve finally assembled the most recent for their mug shots. Thanks to a dull few days working up a manuscript for copyediting, I’ve had time to forge all the way through the first ball of Malabrigo, and I’m into the third straight-row repetion on my second Clapotis. Can we all take a moment of appreciation for the amazing yardage of the fabulous Malabrigo? I’m converting people right and left with this stuff. No one who’s touched it can resist its ample charms.

Then there’s Dad’s gansey. Happily, it turns out I can knit on the bus without getting carsick, so long as I don’t have to peer closely at what I’m doing all the time. The gansey was the perfect project to accompany me through the loooooong hours on the bus to DC last weekend. Unfortunately, despite all those hours of knitting, it doesn’t seem to have grown very much. This is going to be a dogged knit, I can tell. I’ll just have to plug away at it. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m knitting the back and the front simultaneously, so of course it seems slower.

Finally, we have the Lotus Blossom Shawl. I’m just getting the feel of this pattern, but I love the Helen’s Lace and cheery poppy color. A big thank-you to Amanda for lending me her Denise circs for this one – I knew it was going to be too slippery for Addis. Here’s a close-up:

Behold the creation of my noodly appendage.

Not that it looks like much yet. This one’s going to need a serious blocking odyssey.