30 December 2006

On To The New Year

We had a quiet, rather sad Christmas this year, with my mom being so ill. I got a little digital camera and my husband got a GPS driving system. He got the latter because a friend on AFCA (alt.fan.cecil-adams, for those of you familiar with Usenet) had gotten himself one for Xmas and just loved it. I got the former because I'd been borrowing his little digital camara so much.

My husband's birthday is 26 December, which is how I justified spending a little more on him. We have our 36th anniversary on Sunday, 31 December, but we probably won't do anything special except have a nice dinner. I've got a couple of New York steaks (which you may know as strip steaks or rump steaks, depending on whether you're a non-Western USAn or from the UK or its other former colonies; it's the non-filet half of a T-bone or porterhouse steak) in the freezer and some russet potatoes for baking.

I have been snapping all sorts of photos with my new camera, but not of any knitting. I haven't gotten much done beyond two scarves. I finished up a mohair Moebius for my father -in-law and I'm nearly done with a wool scarf for my friend Don. I'd post photos except that even the smallest-sized photo is larger than is practical. Normally I'd use The GIMP to scale the image down to a manageable size, but it's not working. Every time I try to do the scaling, the program crashes. It was working a week or two ago and I don't think I changed anything, so I'm going to try uninstalling and reinstalling it to see if that will help. I sure hope it will.

The yarn for the mohair Moebius is Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair in Rainbow Falls. I knitted it on a 60-inch, size-13 needle, casting on 72 stitches and working in alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette for 3, 3, 2, and 2 rows (by turning and knitting in the other direction, because I don't like purling).

I turned it one last time and used the cast-off in Cat Bordhi's book A Treasury of Magical Knitting, where you knit two stitches, return them to the left needle, and knit them together I think it looks better if you knit them together in the back loops, which looks exactly like slip one stitch purlwise, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over (or s1p, k1, psso) but is easier and quicker. Plus, you don't have to move the two stitches back to the left needle, as you can just push the left needle through the front loops, which puts you right where you'd be if you'd moved them over and started to knit them together. It's a very minor version of knitting left to right, which is very handy to know if you do short rows, like on socks.

I've got to tell you a little bit more about my yarn stash. I'd been knitting scarves in novelty yarns, like eyelash, because it was easy knitting (all garter stitch), with short rows, on big needles. I can turn out an eyelash scarf in a little over an hour. Truly mindless knitting. My dear friend Pat, who makes and sells Americana at craft shows, offered to add some of my scarves to her booth and I accepted. Unfortunately, the craft show was held in 90-degF weather and we only sold three scarves, out of about a dozen. Pat was staying with her friend Pat in Simi Valley and the day after the craft show they went cruising the various craft shops of the San Fernando Valley. They went to one that was going out of business and found novelty yarn on sale, so they called me. Every skein was $1 and the yarn was all decent craft-store yarn like Lion Brand and Moda Dea and Bernat. I told Pat that this was a bargain and I'd appreciate it if she'd buy me some and to use their judgment on the colors and to try to get at least two, preferably three, skeins of each color.

Well, they did just what I asked. However, they found out that it was either $1 a skein or $5 a bag. They bought me three bags, stuffed so full they couldn't be closed, and for $16 (tax) I got 92 skeins of yarn. That's less than 20 cents a skein. Of course, I had to go out and buy a couple of plastic bins to put it into, but at most that only doubled the price per skein.

Then I discovered yarn lot sales on eBay and picked up some really nice yarn for sale. A lot of it was orphan skeins, but that's enough for a scarf in many cases, so it was perfect for me. I splurged on a few lots at the same time I was buying some really nice yarn there, and now I've got a huge stash of yarn in small quantities. I discovered, as I sorted through the lot yarn, that it wasn't all inexpensive novelty yarn. I've found Noro and Cascade and Blue Heron and other premium yarns, mostly in single skeins, in with the eyelash and acrylic. I've sorted it all into nice yarn for special projects and essentially free yarn for casual knitting.

Anyway, to get back to the mohair Moebius, this was a single skein from a lot purchase. I think I paid a little less than a dollar for it, including the shipping. It was exactly enough yarn to knit a small scarf, but it wasn't enough for anything bigger. Yarns like this vary quite a bit between dyelots and I'm not sure it would have been possible to find more from the same lot, so this was truly an orphan skein. I was very pleased that I could put this yarn to good use, rather than condemning it to sit at the back of someone's stack.

I have also nearly finished the scarf I'm making for Don (Pat's husband). I'm down to about a quarter of a ball and wondering if I should fringe it, rather than just knitting more rows. It's Adriafil Felis Trends in color 15. It's 100% wool, in a single heavy ply, and is highly recommended for felting. The colors are greens and blues, from dark spruce green and navy to a light leaf green. Overall, I'd call it dark teal. It's knit on 10-mm (US 15) needles in mock rib stitch, on 15 stitches. It's rolling itself up into a tube but laid flat (not blocked) it's 5.75 in. wide and, right now, just a little over 60 in. long. If I add a fringe made from 12-in. strands and knit what's left, it should be a bit over 72 in. If I don't make the fringe but just knit up all the yarn, it'll probably be about the same size, but plainer.

Decisions, decisions....

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, filled with joy and good health and love.

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