Tuesday, February 28, 2006



It truly was the fulfillment of a dream. I'd wanted for years to find a project for reclaiming yarn, and I've wanted to knit clogs from the first time I saw a pattern.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. But I learned a few things about myself. I don't like short rows, and I don't particularly like FiberTrends patterns. I'm sure the Jackass who came up with the idea of printing their patterns on teal paper was very proud of his/herself, but I have a whole list of adjectives for people like them...and none of them can be printed in case my cousin the nun reads my blog. (My cousin, Sr. Clemente, keeps at least my
public language much more...um...acceptable. Luckily she teaches medieval literature, so after Chaucer, it'll take a lot to shock her. She is possibly the nicest person alive in the world today, and it would kill me to disappoint her.)

Anyway, I digress...again. Back to the FiberTrends Jackass.

(Teal Paper + Small black type) + (short rows x 2 clogs per pair) x multiple sizes = Aidan having cursing fits and several less than stellar parenting moments.

What I finally did was to type the pattern for each size into a different spreadsheet on the computer and then print them up in large type on ledger-sized paper. I'm so glad I went to the trouble, because even then it was easy to loose my place. I will always be reticent about buying FiberTrends again, but if I should have to, I'll know that it means allowing the extra time for data entry.

But, despite the challenges, I went for and won The Gold. And victory is sweet.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I needed to block the pieces of the Effin' Wrap before I could proceed with finishing. But I wasn't really set up or ready for this. And I needed to block the shit out of the fabric, as it seemed to shrink into itself. (It's a midified 1x1 ribbing, so it really likes to squeeze inward.)

My Bitch, NancyKwik, told me about blocking wires, and not having time to order any, I decided to make my own. And all in all, I am pleased with the results. I didn't think the bed the best place to block the pieces, either, so I also had to make a blocking board! But, as I always say, where there's a will, there's a way!

I started by getting together all of the materials I would need. I bought a 2" thick piece of insulation board at Home Depot -- and the nice people in the cutting department were nice enough to cut it in half for me. Otherwise it would never have fit in my Honda Element.

While I was at the Depot, I picked up a bundle of nifty, stiff wire. The wire was 6' long, so I had to cut them into more manageable 36" segments with wire cutters. I had some material left over from lining curtains, blocking pins, towels, and my iPod.

Guess who I listened to while working?

I covered the insulation board with fabric and stapled it in place.

I soaked the wrap pieces and blotted them dry on towels.

The wire I bought is meant for use in hanging suspended cielings. (they only sell them in bundles of 50 -- so I'm set for quite a while!) I made certain to use the ends cut in the factory, as my wire cutters were sharp and craggy and would have snagged the wool. I inserted the smooth end into every border stitch, and, with a little fiddling, got everything to look right and got the stitches to line up well. It was really much easier than I thought it would be. The insulation board held the pins beautifully, and the wire, which I had been assured would not rust, did not. Whew!

So both pieces are blocked now. Next is the intimidating and frightening task of finishing. I feel even more pressure because the photo of the pattern in the Interweave book showed such horrible finishing, I've been obsessing about doing it better than they did in the book. Now it's to to stitch or get off the pot, and I'm anxious. I think I will ask my Bitch, NancyKwik, if she can help me. She keeps a cook head about her.

More pictures when I get the chance. I must say -- blocking the wrap pieces was easier than writing this blog entry!

ONE LAST ITEM: Now that the wrap is a wrap and the Olympics are over, I get to knit what I want! Yeah! It won't be felted clogs -- I am sick of counting short rows, so I can do without those for a while. And it won't be another Effin' wrap! So I picked up the sock I started before the olympics -- I hadn't knit on it since I knit on it during my foot surgery three weeks ago. I'm almost done with the first sock and will surely start the mate tomorrow. They are made from Cascade Fixation in a blueberry color, and they will be a gift for Norbert's trombone teacher.

I have approx. 1100 yards of natural Wool of the Andes left over. I'm thinking of Cool Aid dying it and maybe knitting Norbert a sweater for next winter. I'll have to check and see if 1100 yards is enough for an aran sweater for a 12 year old...I'l want to make it big on him so he can wear it two years.

Ta, dear friends.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


As I walked the quarter-mile from my parking garage to my office along the Chicago River, I was reminded why I love living in the city so much.

Coming towards me on the Riverwalk I noticed a young woman wearing a parka, headphones, and an interesting knit hat with ear flaps.

The gurl was jammin'. Really. Gettin' down with her bad self. Sliding and pivoting and shuffling along. She was dancin' and swingin' and movin' to the groovin'.

Another person might have thought her mentally unbalanced and been a little frightened. Others might have resented her lack of respect for normative pubic behavior.

Me? Honestly, my first reaction was to ask myself, "I wonder what song she's listening to?"



The third pair of clogs is knit and felted and is currently sitting near a radiator at home, awaiting my return. When I get home I plan to slip my poor, sore feet into them and take a victory lap around the living room.


While discussing my need to block the pieces of the Eff-ing Wrap, one of my Bitches*, NancyKwik, told me about blocking wires, which seem like exactly the thing I need to block the hell out of the eff-ing 1x1 ribbing without ending up with a lot of scallops from where the pins were. Alas, it is too late for me to order any, so I am going to stop at Home Depot and buy some inflexible wire to use for blocking the damn thing. (The sooner I get it finished and shaped and out the door, the happier I'll be. The eff-ing thing has been hanging over my head for two months. It's beautiful, but it was sooooooo boring to knit.)

*I am not a woman-hating swine. "My Bitches" is a term of endearment I use for members of one or more of my Stitch n Bitch groups. Please do not write me calling me a misogynist. You can call me a lot of things, including Liberal, Communist, Fat, Lazy, Dim, Dopey, and Unpleasant. I am or could honestly be mistaken for any or all of those things on any given day. But I like women.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Merci! Σας ευχαριστούμε! Danke! 谢谢! 너를 감사하십시요! Obrigado! Grazie! ありがとう!

Thank you so much to everyone who wrote in with suggestions! I have clogs!

Hot water with cold rinse did the trick. I didn't have the opportunity to go to the laundramant,
but my gentle washer was able to felt them -- it just took three washing cycles to do it. Since it is a front loader and is therefore impossible to open, i put them in on the shortest wash cycle. Each wash I put in a tablespoon or so of liquid soap. I didn't try the baking soda, but may when I do the next pair.

Myfanwe and Norbert are really going to like these, I think. If only they were appropriate for outdoor wear...they go perfectly with the Gryffindor scarves I knit for them!

Last night at the Hyde Park Stitch 'n Bitch I finished the Neverending Effing Wrap! Woo hoo! I've only been working on it for 2 months. 62 inches of a modified 1 x 1 rib (all knit stitches were done into the back of the stitch) that I swear was the most boring thing I have ever worked on. I still have to block the pieces and do the shaping, which is pretty complex. I haven't figured out where I'm going to block the pieces yet. I wish I had a blocking board!

So in order to earn my Olympic Gold I still have to knit and felt one more pair of clogs. I'd better go cast on!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Worst I Have Ever Felt!

I'm slightly beside myself and at a loss for what to do.

I've knit two pair of the FiberTrends felted clogs for my Olympic challenge. (Still one to go.) I've tried felting these two pair twice, both times to no avail. It seems my front-loading washing machine is too gentle. So I took them over to my friend Nancy, who has a top loading machine, but her fancy Fischer & Paykel (sp?) washing machine has a gentle agitator, and the clogs didn't felt.

So I took them home, filled a dishpan with cold water and a bit of woolite, and set to one of the clogs with my hands. I remembered, maybe a bit too late, that keeping my hands in cold water often gives me a migraine. So I switched to a potato masher. But still no felt.

I guess I could turn them into clown shoes, but I already have clown shoes, and I really want felted clogs.

Any suggestions?

And I close with a picture sent to me by my friend, Ben. (Ben, husband of Nancy with the fancy schmancy washing machine.) Ben offers this as proof that dogs can read.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympic Update; Birthday Party; Miners & Golddiggers.

Lots to cover, so let me get right to it:


I cast on during the Opening Ceremonies, but was really disappointed that they weren't being carried live any place that I could find. So I listened to Brenda Dayne's latest podcast episode. Let's just say she made me blush!

So far I have completed one pair of size 6 clogs (for Norbert) in Gryffindor colors -- burgandy and gold. I'm half way through a second pair, Size 8, for Myfanwe in the same colors. Then It will be my turn, in basic black.

Birthday Doin's

We celebrated Norbert's Golden Birthday -- he was 9 on the 9th -- with fireworks, dinner, and a sleepover with his best friend, also Norbert. The two Norberts could be confusing. Especially since they are best friends, went to the same school, and like to spend time with each other. So we called them Norbert G. and Norbert I. Then, one day when they were around 5, both of the Norberts decided to change their names. The only problem was they both decided to change their names to Nope. So I had Nope G. and Nope I. Nope I. soon got slurred into No Pie -- just about the saddest name I could imagine -- and the name has stuck. I sometimes forget his name isn't No Pie!

So -- No Pie, Norbert, Myfanwe and I went to my office Saturday night and, from the 32nd floor windows looked down upon the fireworks display -- part of Winter Delights. It was really something. Then we went to the plaza where we had free hot chocolate from The Signature Room at the Hancock Center (Yum!), watched tango lessons, and the boys had their pictures taken with roving candy bars.
(l to r, Norbert , Reeses, and No Pie.)

From there we went to dinner at Buca Di Beppo. The place was packed, so I'm glad we had made reservations. Buca is a fun place -- decorated with thousands of strange pictures on the walls, Italian music playing, lots of laughing. The theme of the pict
ures in the Gents room is statues of men peeing and/or pictures of little boys taking a pish. Cute.

My favorite room at Buca is the Pope Room. We've never had dinner the
re -- there is a minimum number of people required -- but it is quite fun looking. The people eating there didn't seem to mind it when I took their picture.

An unexpected party of 60 college kids arrived...without reservations... and had to spend quite a while in the bar. They were very strangely attired, making me think they were a frat/sorority party. A bunch of the men were dressed like miners, and all of the women werre dressed like floozies, so Myfanwe decided it was a "Miners & Golddiggers" theme. But then a lot of the guys were dressed like bad pimps, so I have no idea what the theme really was.

When they brought Norbert's cake, the waitress invited everyone nearby to sing Happy Birthday. The only problem was she made a mistake with Norbert's name, so about 100 people (include a large number of Miners & Golddiggers) sang "Happy Birthday Dear Miller!" We laughed until it hurt. Then Norbert decided that he was going to change his name to Miller Light. So No Pie then decided to change HIS name...to Bud Light. The Light Brothers! For the rest of the weekend we had to call them by their new names, or they wouldn't answer. Oi.
Wouldn't you like to taste this woman's meatballs?


I still have not found Julie Pack. If anyone has any information which might help me find her, I'd be most greatful. Please see my blog entry for more details. And thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you to those people who have tried. I appreciate it. Sorry no pictures of the clog -- I packed the camera in my knitting bag and then forgot the damn bag at home. So it's double rotten luck. But maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

As promised -- Just a day late...

Sorry I didn't get this on yesterday, but for some reason the server wouldn't accept the upload of my photos.

Here is a picture from Tuesday's Stitch n Bitch at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I counted 68 people, but a few more straggled in after that. I'm sorry it is so dark, but in order to get everyone in, I had to move back, and no flash could be expected to light a room that big!

I am finished with preparations for the Opening Ceremonies of the Knitting Olympics. Pictured is the yarn reclaimed from a mammouth UFO -- a king-sized blanket I knit in stripes and never put together. My project for the Olympics is to knit as many pairs of Fiber Trends felted clogs as I can in the alloted time. (We have a decidedly Asian aesthetic in our home, and I want to keep a trunk of slippers so guests will feel comfortable removing their street shoes and slipping into something comfortable.) If I run out of yarn, I have about 16 balls of KnitPicks worsted I can call up from the Stash.

I've been anticipating the Opening Ceremonies so hotly -- I can hear the Olympic Theme in my head. Bum bum ba bum bum bum bum. Bum bum ba bum bum ba bum ba ba bum ba bum bum. I love heraldic trumpety things. I will be chearing for Wales when the U.K. delegation walks in the stadium!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Has Anyone Seen Julie?

There are many things at which I excel. I am a competent knitter, an accomplished cook, and I am pretty good at my day job. At least that's what I want my boss to think.

One thing I do not do well, and which causes me sadness, is keeping and nurturing long-distance friendships. I am friendly and kind. I and welcome people warmly into my life. But my story of my life is peppered with friendships formed which withered and died when they or I moved away. Distance is my enemy.

Every time I pick up my knitting, look through a pattern book, or see a beautifully knit sweater, I think of one of those friendships with a real sense of loss.

Picture it: The far north side of Chicago – 1993. As a lobbyist, I had a job which only kept me fully occupied 6 months of the year. The other six months I spent in various yarn shops, knitting, gabbing, and making friends.

At Thorpe Yarns in Evanston I made one such friend. Her name was Julie Pack. A native of upstate New York, she was a music major (Horn) at Northwestern University, and without a doubt one of the finest knitters I have ever met. (She knit some of the most amazing Kaffe Fasset designs -- I was always in awe of her.) She was also a good friend and we had many a good laugh together. And a couple of good cries, as well.

Like many of the important people in my life, Julie moved away. First she moved to Texas where she played First Horn in a symphony orchestra. The last I heard from her, she had moved to Colorado and was set to marry her boyfriend, Dick (whose last name escapes me), who also played the horn and had been her professor at NU. we received an invitation to her wedding, but because Myfanwe was pregnant and money was tight, we were unable to go. We moved to a new apartment right after Myfanwe had the baby, and we could never find her address or phone number in the craziness which was our life. (Actually, we moved three times in three years. We're lucky we didn't loose our minds!) I’ve felt bad for the last 9 years. I even stopped knitting for a while because I felt such guilt and such loss. (That didn't help my sanity a bit!) I miss her. I would really like to reconnect with her. I'd like her to know my son. I'd like to cook her a Morrocan feast. I'd like to know what she has been knitting.

I’ve tried Googling her, and mostly I find a Julie Pack who is involved in rodeos and roping cattle – things MY Julie Pack would not be doing. I did find a couple of out-of-date links to MY Julie Pack, but nothing functional.

Knitters are amazing people. Please, spread the word. A knitter somewhere knows Julie. Wherever she is, she's bound to be one of the best knitters around. If you know her, please direct her to this site and let her know I’m looking for her. We have so much to catch up on!


Last night was the Stitch n Bitch at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I’ll have pictures tomorrow – but let’s just say that it was HUGE. Lots of fun and HUGE. Franklin Habit and Andrew from Stitches in Britches ™ were there, as was my friend NancyKwik -- who graciously gave me a ride-- thank G-d, ‘cuz otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go with my feet.

I also met a wonderful, creative knitter, Jen, whose recent submission to Knitty was on display and wowed the crowd, to put it mildly. She designs imaginative knits for babies and young’uns. Check out her site and don’t overlook the kits she sells – they would make great gifts.

Monday, February 06, 2006

My Olympic Shame

Without putting too much stress on my poor, pained feet, I found not very inventive ways to complete frogging the yarn I wish to reclaim for use in the felted clogs I will knit for the Knitting Olympics. (Go Team Wales!) And, using brooms, chairs, a radiator and a bus pan, I hung them to dry in a corner of the dining room. (Olive in front, hazel in back.)

Since I don't enjoy the process, I wanted to make sure I had found all of the blanket pieces I was frogging, so I sort of bored my way through the stash closet, looking for stray stripes in need of frogging.

It was in the very bottom of the closet in an old, opaque Rubbermaid bin that I found the source of my Olympic shame. In a bag of miscellaneous notions, patterns, and 10 balls of bright red Dale Heilo yarn was the unfinished body of Dale of Norway's 1994 Lillehammer sweater. I thought the sweater had been lost in one of the three moves we made in two years. I had enjoyed knitting it, so I had that unmistakable rush only a knitter can relate to where you think "Hooray! I can start knitting on it again today!"

But my joy was short-lived. I tore through the stash closet, opening every box and bag, but the yarn necessary for completing the sweater is nowhere to be found. Sleeves will not be forthcoming. I can only imagine what frogging it would be like – all of that twisted fair isle. And for the rest of my life I’ll have to live with the knowledge that somewhere, more than a decade ago, a sheep gave up its fleece in vain.

So, Dear Reader, please learn from my mistakes. Never, ever pack your stash in opaque bins. Clear plastic only. I do not wish this shame on anyone.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Begging Your Pardon

Very short post -- very poorly written.

I had some surgery on my feet on Saturday morning, and I still feel like a bucket of fuck. The pain pills don't really help, I can't sleep, the television in my bedroom isn't hooked up to cable, and did I mention my feet hurt?

While stranded here I have managed to get a bunch more frogging done. I think I still have the equivalent of 800 yards of yarn to frog. Then I bathe it and hang and weight it. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do that a) without spending time on my feet, and b) hanging them inside -- arctic temps have returned. But I want the yarn to be dry by Wednesday so I can wind it into balls in advance of the start of the knitting olympics.

I'm going to try to get some sleep now. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tink! Tink! Tink!

I am eagerly anticipating the Opening Ceremony of the International Knitting Olympics, and am training strenuously for competing in Knitted & Felted Articles for Team Wales.

My project for the olympics is three pair of felted clogs, knit from Lambs Pride worsted which I am reclaiming from a king-sized blanket which I knit is stripes and then never put together.

I can't so much as cast on before the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics, but there is still much to do. In order to knit with the yarn, I have to un-knit -- or tink -- the blanket stripes. (I am well aware that froggins is used as an alternate term for tinking, but my understanding is that frogging carries with it a certain amount of enthusiasm in the ripping back, and I can't say I posess said enthusiasm in recognizable amounts.)

Norbert was a great help in the tinking process, holding the stripes while I turned the swift and wound the yarn into hanks. We managed to get through about half of the yarn in one evening. This morning, hoping to take advantage of unseasonably warm weather in Chicago, I soaked the hanks of yarn with a little woolite, rinsed it, and hung the hanks to dry on the clothes line.

Tonight I'll have to tackle the hazel and olive stripes. But there are fewer of them, so it won't be such a huge job.

I am 70% done with the second sock and am planning to knit my next pair out of Cascade Fixation in a blueberry color. They'll go well with jeans. I'm designing the pattern myself! I'll post a pic when I have something on the sticks.

Since I had the camera out, I couldn't help but take a picture Norbert's new dragon, which he posed such an interesting way:

The latest in fashion accessories for the dragon in touch with his feminine side!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: You are never too old to have a "Learning Moment". OK. I was wrong. You all were right. I was wrong. You all were right.

Tinking is, indeed, unknitting one stitch at a time. But in my defense, frogging is described on knitty.com thusly: "The term frogging gives the impression of a rather exuberant ripping out of knitted stitches." Though it continues, "But undoing your knitting stitch by stitch - technically known as tink-ing [that's "knit" spelled backwards] - can also be a useful trick to master." I stand corrected and duly chastised!