We took the weekend off for an “away date.” We drove to Baltimore to see the model train show, where I got an interesting book about the Pennsy Railroad, Conemaugh Branch. Little known fact about me – I have lots of old books about steel mills, railroads, and coal mines.

From the train show we headed back towards the city so that I could visit Spinster Yarns and Fibers on Harford Rd. I did a little stash-enhancing and also got to visit with some old friends. Andrea carries some unusual yarns that I have not seen in any other shops, including yarn from Thirteen Mile Yarns, who produce predator-friendly, plant-dyed organic yarns.

We spent the night at the Inner Harbor and had a fabulous dinner – Restaurant Week in Baltimore was concluding.

Knitting has been slow the past week, work interfered. But last weekend I was able to give my friend Jen her new Clapotis. It will keep her snuggly in her chilly office and she loved the colors.

Since I do not have photos to post with this entry – click on over to the Red Scarf Gallery, where photos are up now that the scarves are ready to be sent.

I did not mean to do this. I have been swatching and thinking about a shawl for a close friend. Her office is drafty and she is chilly there just about year round. I made some lace swatches and blocked them, and I even liked one of them. Then I saw the perfect shade of Silk Garden for her. This yarn was made for her more than any other yarn that I have seen. I bought it. I knew exactly what it should be. I cast on last night:

stop me before I clap again

I can just about knit this pattern in my sleep now. My fingers know what to do without looking, kind of like they know certain chord progressions and scales on just about about a molecular level. I have two more increase sections to go.  I would like to finish before I see her next weekend and I hope that I am not jinxing myself by setting a deadline.

In other news, a pair of pileated woodpeckers has been with us for weeks now, pretty much at the same time every morning. Today they were on either side of a suet feeder together and I grabbed my camera about two minutes too late – by the time I got back to the window they were in other positions. I am ready for tomorrow.

Yesterday I cast off the Big Kureyon Clapotis. I needed it today. I had to go to work with a cold and a cough. I wanted to stay at home in my jammies. Since I could not, I was wrapped up in what can only be called a giant Clapotis blankie. Possibly this was an overly dramatic representation of my pitiful condition, but possibly it was also a fashion statement. A little ambiguity is sometimes called for.

When I first started thinking about using Big Kureyon, I inquired in the Clapotis group at Ravelry. One very experienced Clap knitter replied that a Clapotis blanket would be an awesome gift. This yarn is bulky weight, which means that there is nothing scarf-like about the final result.

I did not knit all of the increases or straight sections and it is still 28 inches wide and 80 inches long. I used 4 and a half skeins of Big Kureyon. I stopped the increases when the first skein ran out. I stopped the straight section when I knew that it was already ginormous.

It is warm. It is gray with black, maroon, and some other wacky colors thrown in with that noro-esque flair. A detail from part of my favorite section:

Clapotis meets Big Kureyon detail

Last night I finished up with one skein of Big Kureyon. After knitting 5 full sets of increase rows, my Clapotis measured around 27 inches. I started the straight section. I only have 5 skeins, but I think this is going to give me a nice fluffy and quite-large-enough wrap. I am using US 11 needles for a fairly loose stitch so that I do not lose the drapey effect that makes a Clapotis so appealing.

after increase section
Inventory of the 2007 knitting:

  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 18 scarves
  • 1 Clapotis, which does not count as a scarf in my humble opinion.
  • 1 shawl
  • 3 baby sweaters
  • 2 washcloths
  • 1 sweater for Rich
  • 6 sets of fingerless mitts
  • all the squares for a blanket – waiting to be stitched together sometime soon.

I am sure I forgot some stuff because I did not photograph everything. This is a satisfying list to me. Most of what I knit was given away – which feels just fine. This year I think I would like to knit for myself a bit more but I am also realistic. Knitting for others feels good and I like it.

My wish for everyone: openness to love in 2008. Love comes to us in so many ways, and we do not always recognize it.

Yesterday I received a holiday letter from my friend and teacher Kathleen. She included a quote from Stephen Levine, who wrote this about service:

Act for the benefit of others
Clear the mind so you can see the way
Remind each other of our true nature
Act with grace for no reason
And stop making excuses
Nothing is random or preset
So respond from true freedom
Don’t let fear or beauty block your way
It takes courage to be moral
To give up the dissatisfaction
Compassion is fearlessness.

************************************

Swatch of Big Kureyon meets Clapotis:

NY's eve swatch

This is knitting at 3 stitches to the inch and is already 15 inches wide with only 2 sets of increase rows finished. It could end up in the frog pond. I am committed to knitting two skeins before I make a final decision.

Finally, after very slow progress, a scarf from Kidsilk Night is finished. Never again. I clenched the needles so tightly the entire time that I was knitting this lovely little cloud that I ended up needing a stick-on magnetic heating pad on each shoulder. However, the recipient is special and I do not begrudge the time or discomfort. Instead I thought of her the entire time that I was knitting and sent many good thoughts her way. Today I will block, but right now it is all puffy:

cloud of pinkness

This morning I cast off a ripple stitch scarf for myself. Still needs to be blocked, but here’s a shot from yesterday, when I was close to finishing:

ripple stitch scarf

It is made with alternating strands of a semi-solid, Oasis Yarn Seduction Silk,

Oasis Yarn Silk Icelandic

and a two-plied sock yarn from Rio De La Plata.

rio de la plata yarn - sock

Knitting a scarf with sock yarn takes a little more time than knitting with worsted! My last three scarves have been with very lightweight yarns, all very enjoyable to knit.

I have some Big Kureyon drying – I soaked it yesterday because I plan to knit something with it that does not like to be blocked. That’s right, I am so in love with my first Clapotis that I have to make another one. Every time I wear it I get comments. Casual, but elegant and drapey. It looks great with a denim jacket and still works at the office.

Meanwhile, I will be swatching for a jacket or sweater. I would like to knit one more big winter project before thoughts of spring take over. I think I have knit thirteen scarves this season. Seems like a nice round number.

In the backyard, a sharp-shinned hawk has taken to perching on top of one of the bird feeders every morning. A broad-shouldered hawk and a Northern harrier have also been frequent visitors. I will be trying for some good photos.

If you would, please leave a comment with your favorite podcast. Somehow I wound up with an iPhone. : – )

Last week I visited my mom. While I was in PA I made some fingerless mitts for her. She loved them and all of her friends are jealous. I neglected to take my tripod with me so no photos. I have a slight hand tremor; camera work on the fly is blurry.

I also finished the scarves that I wrote about in my last post. This week I swatched. Kidsilk Night is enchanting.

It’s Cookie Weekend at our house. I updated my cookie spreadsheets and I am all ready to go. This year we are baking for a homeless shelter and for our usual neighborhood and family friends.

Since there are no knitting photos, last year’s crocheted tree garland:

garland_closeup

It’s fine-gauge sterling silver wire and crystal beads.

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