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Monthly Archives: January 2013

imageI wasn’t around when he was born. In fact, our paths didn’t cross until he was a bit over four. But I feel like he has been with me for a Very Long Time.

Finn turned thirteen today.

Until last year, he was defying any major signs of age. He was slowing down a bit on our hikes, particularly in the heat, but other than that, he hadn’t changed all that much except for a slight sprinkling of grey around the eyes.

Things have changed a bit over the last couple of months, though.

His body is getting lumpy, and we’ve had to biopsy and are “watching” a couple of these lumps. He has had a few episodes where he has lost his balance — perhaps a bit of Old Dog Vertigo (I am armed with proper meds now) or perhaps a bit of a “neurological event” (he now gets a small dose of baby aspirin every day) and we’ve had a couple of eVet visits. He has mild arthritis in his lower spine from what we think are possible puppy injuries (this is not new news, I’ve been aware of his lower back issues since I got him), which require regular laser sessions.

imageAnd then there’s the sleeping. This is a dog who used to come flying to me whenever I started to say a word that began with the letter w…(because every word that starts with the letter “w” was going to end with a “alk”) Now, often times, I have to wake him up to go on the last walk of the day. Sometimes, it’s only Lucy who greets me at the door when I come home. My heart skips a beat every time this happens, but thus far, I have found him dead asleep in his crate or the floor right in front of his crate — and I have to tap him on the shoulder to say hello to him.

Lest you think that Finn is an old, tottering dog…. some evidence that he is still very much young at heart…

1. Got a present the other day on a hike. Sometimes, if I go hiking really early in the morning, I will let me dogs off leash (most places I go there are leash rules and I tend to obey them). Guess who went back on a leash after bringing me a present that had a bushy tail on it? Gross. Thanks, Finn. Fortunately, “DROP ITTTTTTT” seems to be a command he still understands well. Especially if it is shrieked at the top of my lungs while I run away. (Lucy thought it was a game and started jumping up and down. NOT FUNNY, LUCY!)

2. I figured that, since Finn’s hearing is not so up to par, that I would brush up on my hand signals/commands. I use my arm strait up above my head as my down signal. Or I used to. Clearly, we had moved on from this signal meaning “down” to “give any raised hand a high five and you will be rewarded”. On my first test run to see if Finn remembered this hand signal, he came at me, full speed, leapt up and gave me a high five. And yes, he hit my hand with his paw. I was stunned, laughing, and worried about his back all at the same time. Unfortunately, I felt that it was only fair to reward this amazing effort (I think he knew I have a piece of liver in my hand) so he got the treat, further cementing the fact that a hand raised above my head meant I wanted a high five. (Don’t worry, trainers, I changed tactics on how I was going to “remind” Finn what that signal meant, and put it back on him with the leash on, then with less distance. I’ll try it across my apartment soon and report back.)

3. He’s still mentally as sharp as a tack. He is a manipulator extraordinaire with my parents. Yes, I DID make sure that Finn thought that going to my relatives to say hi was an extraordinarily good thing. But now, he has them buying imported Swiss cheese (gruyere is his favorite), poaching organic chicken (without salt, of course), and cooking “Finn’s (and Lucy’s) portion” of dinner (usually the protein that is being served, cooked without any salt or spices) every time I go over. And, my Mom peels carrots for him, too. (I just give it to him with the peel still on — you’ve seen what dogs want to eat off the streets, right?)

imageI am so lucky that I’ve had Finn’s best years. He is such good company on hikes (the occasional presents aside), he’s still trying for me, and he’s gracefully conceded the lieutenant dog position to his pesky little sister in the last year. (I remain top dog, although Lucy is vying for that position every day.)

Happy birthday to my Finn. You are my one and only.

PS Everyone go hug your dogs.

IMG_8610Sometimes, a designer publishes a pattern and you know exactly which yarn in your collection wants to become it. (This is EXACTLY the reason why a knitter must have the well curated collection of yarn!)  And when that designer is one of your all time favorites, and the perfect yarn is from one of your favorite indie dyers….well, it’s a match made in Knitter’s heaven and in those cases, it’s as if there’s a magic jet attached to your knitting needles.

At least, that is what happens to me. The knitting flies. I’m a woman obsessed, eking out every free second to return to my version of crack.

This exact thing happened to me when Romi Hill gave us a New Year’s present. She took parts of all the shawls we knit as part of her Pins & Laces club during 2012 and put it together into a stole. Out of mohair/silk lace.

Heavenly is the pattern, and my crack yarn of choice for this stole, French Market Fibers Mohair Lace in Brandy Milk Punch colorway.

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The one great thing about Ravelry is that when a pattern like Heavenly comes out, there is mass excitement, and there’s usually a group of other knitters that you can do a virtual knit-along with. Romi has a great group on Ravelry, and it wasn’t long until there was a group of us who convinced each other to abandon other knitting commitments (remember those Christmas presents that got wrapped with needles in them!?) to dive head first into the new project.

This is a bit of a dangerous venture for me, because getting excited with other people just throws fuel to the fire. I think we all whipped each other up into a frenzy, into a buying frenzy — to a point where I really thought that we may have, collectively, cornered the mohair lace market!!!

Of course, in the middle of this mass group enabling time, another one of my all time favorite yarn dyers, Beata at Hedgehog Fibres did an amazing update….with lots of kidsilk lace.

Needless to say, this is not the only kidsilk beauty that ended up in my collection, waiting for the next design inspiration. I’m good at enabling others, but I am super good at enabling myself!

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It’s Beata’s Concrete colorway, which is a very complex grey. I LOVE this color, and I think it is especially pretty in this base.

IMG_1432I am actually surprised at my ridiculous enthusiasm for mohair silk. It’s a relatively recent love. I’ve always assumed that the fuzzy would bug me, and because my taste tend more toward the sleek and tailored, a mohair anything seemed a bit too girly for me. But what can I say? A shawl knit out of mohair silk is so light and so warm, I can really channel my inner-girly and wear the shawl with aplomb.

It has been windy and chilly here in NYC. And Heavenly has become a total mainstay of my wardrobe since I’ve finished knitting. It’s warm, it’s light, and it goes with my black and grey work wardrobe!

What should I knit with my Hedghog yarn?

Remember that college application essay question, “if you were able to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, fictional or non-fictional, who would it be, why, and what would you talk about?”

I think I tailored the answer depending on what college I was applying to. I think my go to character was Macbeth.

It’s been eons since then, and my interests have changed a little. I don’t need to pretend to have dinner with someone as tortured as Macbeth (— in fact, I think I would be scared to have dinner with him) to impress someone reading my college applications anymore!

shawl with legoIf I were to write that essay today, I think I would say that I would love to have a conversation with Frank Lloyd Wright. And, since I’m no longer an impressionable teenager, while I would politely listen to what he may have to say for himself, I think I would try to convince him to try knitting design as a creative outlet. Can you imagine the amazing shawls? The geometry, the balance….and what about sweaters? I think he would be killer.

Dream on!

However, we have a bevy of designers drawing inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright. Laura Aylor did just this, and last summer she published All the Shades of Truth. (Stop with the Fifty Shades of Grey snickers!!) It’s a great color block design, all in different shades of grey offset with white.

I wanted this shawl in the worst way. Otherwise, I would not knit 1,600 yards of garter. But you know that “project brain” that you get? When you can rationalize any amount of knitting, however complicated, because theoretically you can “do it”?

Well, my “project brain” went into overdrive. Perfect for working on during conference calls, it said. Just think how much you will wear this, it said. It will be a really nice break from lace, it said.

I had a really clear vision of what I wanted. I wanted greys and cream, like the original design, but I wanted a pop of color. And I had the perfect skein of orange-ish brick red from Hedgehog Fibres that would pay homage to Cherokee Red, which was supposed to be FLW’s favorite color. (I say homage because if I whipped this skein of yarn out at the fictional dinner, he would tell me that it is most certainly NOT Cherokee Red.)

How do I get the perfect greys for the shawl? Grey comes in various undertones, and I needed really clear greys of different values — no brown hues, no purple hues, perhaps a bit on the blue scale of things but just a touch. I was online with my friend Andrea from At Bullard Farm almost immediately. “Andrea, I need 3 different shades of grey,” I wrote her, “and these are the Pantone colors I want”.

Oh I am spoiled. Because with Andrea’s yarns, I don’t have to worry about the base. I know they are yummy. The base I used for the shawl is BFL Beauty (70% BFL, 20% silk and 10% cashmere). This is a base that takes color beautifully… And with Andrea’s sense of color and where she goes with her palette, I knew I could depend on her to produce the perfect grey shades for me!

I was right. The yarns were perfection. Now….the 1,600 yards of garter?

IMG_8648I actually finished knitting this in 5 weeks, back in July. Not so bad. I will give you one advice if you want to knit this shawl. LISTEN TO THE DESIGNER and carry the yarns through the work. I, of course, did not, and it took me for EVER to weave in the ends. I mean, five billion ends.

True to my prediction, I wear this cozy shawl all the time, with my grey (surprise!) winter coat.

IMG_8650As an aside, recently, the designer celebrated her birthday by hosting a giveaway of her patterns to her fans. Thank you Laura! I saw All the Shades (and the related cowl/scarf, Oak Park) up in the most popular patterns all week, so I expect many interpretations of her pattern popping up in Ravelry FOs. I have downloaded The Litchfield Shawl, so expect this shawl to creep into my WIP over the course of this year.

Now…..back to lace!

Happy New Year!

One of the things that many Knitters (yes, that is with a capital “K”) do, apparently, is to cast on a new project at the stroke of midnight. It is actually not a tradition for me (I am usually cursing myself as I am running a 3 mile race in Central Park if I am in town), but in the spirit of Knitters the world over, I have cast on a new project at 5am UST/GMT/Zulu time (that’s midnight EST).

IMG_8569In fact, in the spirit of my 12 sweaters, 12 shawls and 12 socks in 2013 goal, I have cast on….a hat. (But it’s a really pretty lace hat, Gothic Tam by Romi HIll.)

Perhaps it is in reaction to my Christmas debacle (gave presents with knitting needles sticking out of them, I am furiously knitting on them still but these “Christmas” presents are quickly becoming Chinese New Year presents!!), I feel that it may be necessary to build a “gift chest” of sorts throughout the year.

I give away much of my knitting. In a way, this may be why I decided that I love knitting shawls. They are very easy to give away — and you don’t have to worry about the size of anything. Luck would have it that any knitted item that I’ve made for myself fits my females relatives fine (on the large side but not uncomfortably so), so I’ve always had willing takers (and stealers) of all my knitted projects. But knitting specifically with anonymous giving in mind? I’ve not really done that.

The hat that I cast on? I finished it and it is blocking right now. Even if I were to dedicate a few hours a week on building this war/gift chest….I’m not sure it would materially slow down my “normal” knitting. I am thinking that hats with matching mitts/mittens (and a cowl if I’m feeling generous) should be in my regular knitting repertoire this year….especially as I generate odd balls of DK/worsted weight yarns as I knit sweaters.

I did also cast on a sweater 🙂

What did you cast on for New Year’s and are YOU a Knitter?