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Back from Stitches!

Pumpkin couple in lobby


October, and another outing to Stitches East.  Last year I kind of blitzed through it, allowing myself only one afternoon and the following morning at the market.  This year, it was a treat to spend a couple of days there.  I actually took a couple of classes, strolled the vendor market at a more leisurely pace, and actually didn’t break the budget overdosing on yarn.  It was a win all-around, plus some terrific views of the fall foliage on the train to and from Hartford.

This year Stitches was October 11-14, which coincided with Lidlady’s birthday on the 11th and Restaurant Week in Hartford.  Shoutout to Trumbull’s Kitchen for a fine dinner!  And kudos to the city of Hartford for the free shuttle service that runs from the train station to major hotels, restaurants, and the convention center.

Decided to take it easy this time, and not sign up for workshops or classes at 8am.  That left the morning for the Market, schmoosing with the vendors, a bit of lunch, and then an afternoon workshop before getting back to the hotel and collapsing from exhaustion.  Shop till you drop indeed!

Saturday afternoon’s workshop was “Beyond Basic Crochet,” with the Crochet Dude himself, Drew Emborsky.  To be honest, it didn’t get all that much beyond the basics, but the Dude helped us get our stitches right and get our rows straight.  (Yes, yes, I have crocheted a few unintentional parallelograms in my time).  He taught us how to change colors correctly and carry yarns almost invisibly.  Best of all, he showed us how to weave in those pesky yarn ends (and that, my friends, was worth the whole workshop for me!)

headless display in lobby
He had enough time to make and model a sampler!

Everybody was dragging by Sunday afternoon, so that might not have been the best time to take a workshop involving knitting wristers with seed beads and fingering weight yarn,  but “Off the Cuff” with Susanna Hansson was a lot of fun.  She had a great sense of humor and kept up the encouragement (“Don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake!”), even as many of us had brought the wrong kind of yarn, or the wrong size needles, or the wrong size beads for the project.  Can’t imagine what I was thinking when I went through the old bead stash and selected beads that were at least 3 times the size I would need!  Live and learn.  But I did figure out a workaround that got my bead rows to line up more or less correctly, and for that I was dubbed “clever” and “creative.”  (See?  I told you she was encouraging.)  Don’t know that I will be making tons of these beaded cuffs, as knitsters of a certain age with fading eyes and a house full of felines have to exercise some caution.  But they are kind of neat, and now that I am home with a full bead stash at my disposal, I do intend to complete at least one pair.

Will be posting more about my yarn purchases anon, as I begin new projects!

Bearing Up…. While Stashing Down

Closeup of BearWell, here’s an idea for the stash-down.  Over the weekend I completed my first teddy bear for the Mother Bear Project.  I know, always late to the party.  Knitters have known about this for years, and my good pal Lidlady has created nearly a dozen herself.  She warned me that they are addictive, and she’s right.  I’m already working on a second one.

Go to the website to read about the project and see photos of all the kids with their bears.  You can buy the pattern (for knit or crochet versions, in-the-round or flat/seamed) on the site.  It is also available in the book, Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time, by Betty Christiansen.

Over on Ravelry, Barb and Tracie from the 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast have started a Mother Bear KAL/CAL with some nifty prizes for randomly selected members of the group who post their finished bears between July 1 and August 31. If you’re looking for inspiration to make a bear yourself, try a Ravelry search for “mother bear” in the “projects” section and there are almost 2800 hits.  Each one is made from the same basic pattern, yet all are different, with distinct personlities.  Most have names, too.  My little guy is “Eric”  — suggested by Lidlady when I was taking so long to finish the paws that she named him “Slow-paw.”

Speaking of paws, I have not posted Part 3 of “Meet the Interns” — so here you go.  Meet Maxie (male, black) and Biscuit (female, grey/blue), the last of our little orphan tribe.

cat sticking out tongue
Mmmmm.... bears.... tasty!
I could knit a bear.... if I wanted to!


Summer Stash Down Redux

OK, Memorial Day has been and gone, tomorrow is Flag Day — and it’s time for another attempt at Summer Stash Down.  Having already registered for Stitches East in mid-October, I don’t have a lot of time to make room for any fiber goodness I expect to bring home.  I am out of plastic bins and room to store them!  As a reality check, I dragged them all out and spread them on a queen-sized bed.  Result was too large to fit in a single photo.   Even standing on a chair.  Sigh….

bins of yarn
Sock yarn... and lots more

Meet the “Interns” — Part 2

orange cat on knitted mat
Goes with my coloring, don't you think?

Time to meet some more of the feline staff!  These guys arrived as a set, born on the back deck some two years ago.  Their mom sneaked them into our shed while we were on vacation and they spent the rest of the summer growing into cute little furballs. They moved into the house that fall, when the weather (and our neighbors) grew colder and less forgiving.    Yes, all FIVE of them.  And Tee got promoted to supervisor.

Howie is the largest, and a keen assistant!  Though he will be into your project bag and making off with a skein in an instant, he has a particular affinity for tools.  It is impossible to work with 14″ straight needles around him, the little grabby-paws, but my favorite memory (sadly no photo) is the time he snatched my #13 circs right in the center of the cable  and ran through the upstairs hallway looking like Fu Manchu with the needles dangling out of each side of his mouth.

cat in the sink
Hey, don't put any of that Eucalan stuff on me, okay? I'll move when the shawl gets here.

Raymond is the other “Weasley twin.”  He is a total knitting buddy, happy to stretch out alongside your leg instead of hogging up all available lap room.  Not that he isn’t interested in your project and anytempting balls of yarn attached to it.  But a few gentle reminders to keep his paws to himself, and he’ll just lick your hand and go to sleep.

cats on bed
Baby Days

Leo is the only long-haired one, with a decidedly short attention span.  Loves to be in your lap while you knit, but can’t make up his mind which lap, or which position to settle down in, or — hey, maybe doesn’t want to be in your lap after all — wait, he’s back!  Leo!

cat on mat
There's something soo satisfying about a rectangle...

New in the Stacks

Circular Knitting

We’ve added some new titles you should definitely hunt down and check out!  Look for them in the Main Stacks on the 5th floor, in the TT 820’s call number range.

Alasdair Post-Quinn, Extreme Double-Knitting: New Adventures in Reversible Color Work (2011)

Gwen Steege, The Knitter’s Life List (2011)

Julie Turjoman, Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere (2010)

Mandy Moore, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (2008)

Margaret Radcliffe, Circular Knitting Workshop (2012)

And on the 4th floor, visit the Reference Stacks to see — Vogue Knitting Knitopedia: The Ultimate A to Z for Knitters (2011). Not a huge coffee-table compendium, this book is a good, basic overview of knitting topics, with brief entries and excellent illustrations.  Clearly aimed at today’s knitters, it talks about trending topics like entrelac, covers  podcasts, and has brief (one-page) essays by many of today’s big names — the podcasters, authors and teachers you meet at conferences.  I do have one gripe with this book.  Not to sound crabby, but the text is very tiny and way too light.  Who is the audience?  Many potential buyers of this book, who might want it as a reference, are of (shall we say) a certain age where readability is more of a factor than price.  But that’s enough ranting….

No time to read a book?  Our good friend Beth reminds us that the Library now subscribes to Interweave Knits magazine.  Look for the latest issue at the Periodicals desk on the 6th floor.


Knit Like Your (Great) Grandma…

Cover of knitting bookOur good friend Paul just alerted us to a wonderful resource for knitting manuals from the late 19th and early 20th century.  If you like old pattern books, you have to check out the Richard Rutt Collection at the Winchester School of Art Library.  Rutt is a scholar and former bishop who wrote A History of Hand Knitting (1987) and then donated his research collection to the University of Southampton.  The books are full text, cover to cover, and are publicly available as downloadable PDFs.  A real treasure trove!

What is in the collection?  As long as you’re still here reading, allow me to quote from the VADS site:

“A particular distinction and strength of Richard Rutt’s collection is the range and number of nineteenth century knitting books first published in the 1830s. These Victorian knitting manuals may be considered as the precursors to the contemporary knitting pattern and the ‘how-to-knit’ books that are still being published over 180 years later. This collection has now been digitised and each book has been copied from cover to cover by the University of Southampton’s Digitisation Unit and are available online via the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS)”

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out what else VADS has on the site.  There are some gorgeous collections of images in textiles and the graphic arts.

Meet the “Interns” – Part 1

Meet Tee, 4 years old now and into the fiber fumes from the get-go!

picture of cat with laptop
Intern? I should be at least an assistant editor!

Tee came to us as a little stray who showed up on the back deck and demanded attention, food, and eventually entrance to the house.

You are completely in my power...

He knew a sweet deal when he found one.  And a couple of soft touches in Lidlady and yours truly.  Not to mention soft laps.  I’ve lost track of the number of socks and other projects I’ve knit just inches from my face, to allow room for a pile of snuggly black fur taking up all available space. We’ve lost some yarn to his curiosity, and endured many scratches from his annoyance at being poked with dangling needles when we go the 2-circs route, but nowadays Tee has settled into his role as a senior member of the feline team and largely confines himself to inspecting the finished projects and supervising the other interns.


cat with bag of yarn
Not such a fan of the acrylics, really, but I love the pretty pink color!
cat with yarn
"Sugar 'n' Cream?" Now we're talking!









My best Tee & knitting story — this blue mat started out as a felting project to make a roll-up needle holder.  I even knitted the 2 cabled bands to hold the needles and attached them.  Even took a picture of the finished project and proudly uploaded it to Ravelry.  But Tee… well, he just loved it.  He loved to sniff it and roll around on it, curl up in a meatloaf on it, and sleep for hours.  <Sigh…>  What’s a mommy to do?  He loves it so much, it is his!

needle case project
Before: A felted needle case
cat on a mat
After: Bliss, sheer bliss!

Sweater Blues

Almost the end of June, almost the end of this sweater!  I have now completed the entire body and one whole sleeve, working my way down the other, then just the neckline to go!  Here is another pic, showing the colorful yarn I’m using for the edging.  A commenter asked about the pattern info for this project, and of course I have been remiss.  Talk about a librarian falling down on the job.  At any rate, this lovely WIP is the “Scalloped Lace Trimmed Sweater,” from the book Top Down Sweaters: Knit to Fit from Top to Bottom, by Doreen L. Marquart.
Yarn and sweater edging
Making good use of that single skein


Summer Stash-down

I’ve said it before, but this time I really mean it.  I am not buying any more new yarn until I make some headway into the bins of lovely yarn I already own.  First on the needles, this lovely sweater with a scalloped lace edging, knit it Lion Brand Cotton Bamboo, in Hyacinth.  Very easy knitting, mostly stockinette.  Whoa, that’s a lot of plain blue.  I decided to jazz things up for the scalloped edging, using a skein of Chameleon Colorworks that I got ages ago (well, 2007).  This was back in the days when I just loved the pretty yarn and would buy a single skein with no idea of what to make with it.  Nice to look at and feel, not terribly practical for projects.

picture of blue sweater

Library Development Day

Okay, I know D-Day was May 26, which seems like an awfully long time ago!  I was jazzed up about the knitting event we scheduled at the end of the day, took photos, all set to write about it — and then life happened.  First, a computer virus and then a human one.  But my trusty MacBook and I both survived the onslaught, and here we are again.

photo of knitting sessionEverybody had a great time, especially the knitters.  It was a chance to show off what we do and maybe inspire some of our colleagues to give it a try.

photo of knitting