Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is Vintage?

As most knitters do, I have a stash. For non-knitters, a stash is yarn you HAD to have NOW to knit something, RIGHT-THIS-MOMENT. As soon as you get it home, you admire it, look at it a while, pet it, put it in the yarn basket in the living room, then move it to the box in the craft room to make room for the new yarn you HAD to have RIGHT NOW, then it gets moved to the tub under the stairs in the basement to make room in the craft room and remains there until you have no more room for anything else and have to sort through all the storage tubs so you don't end up on a program like Hoarders.

As part of my 2010 resolution, I am knitting from my stash, one project from older yarn, one from newer yarn and not buying anything new until 10 projects are complete. So far so good. I have yarn that goes back to my yarn shop years in the 1980's. Yes that makes it 30 year old yarn. Yikes. Most of it is very high quality wool yarn that I still love and I have lost very little of it over the years to anything like m**hs or any other disasters.
I took out 500 yards of a pinky-purple Phildar yarn called Alpalima, an Alpaca blend that I have 7 skeins of, to make the Flower Basket Shawl. I don't remember what I originally bought this for but it must have been a colorwork sweater of some kind because I have 4 skeins of green, two of the purple and one cream. As I knit, the yarn was pulling apart. I re-wound it to check through the skeins to see if I could spot the weak parts but to the eye it looked okay. As I continued to knit, however, there were too many breaks and actual spots that were worn through one or two ply, to make it a worthwhile knit. It breaks my heart to say it, but this got thrown away. I am going to see if the green and cream have weakened in the same way and they too may met the same fate.
So as a cautionary tale, don't let your stash linger for 30 years. That "vintage" yarn may no longer be a viable knitting source.

I was doing a Google search for vintage images when I spotted a picture that took me to the blog Unraveling Sophia. She has a great blog and posts vintage patterns and books along with her own patterns. This particular vintage book rang a huge bell with me because it was the book I learned to knit from. I contacted Sophia for more information about the book (publisher, author) so I could look for a copy for myself. She very kindly gave me the info and also a website to order it from and this week I received it in the mail. Here it is in amazing condition, considering its age!

Christmas morning of 1951, when I was 7 years old, I opened a package that contained a knitting kit. Included in the kit was this book with a Christmas story, knitting instructions and patterns for doll outfits, yarn in red, white and blue to make the outfits and a knitting nancy shaped like the penguin in the story.

As I paged through the book and reread the story (which I vaguely remember and which has one scary-looking Santa), this page jumped out at me! I must have spent a lot of time looking at these instructions because it was like a trip in the way-back machine!
The first page is a letter to Mothers advising them that "Knitting cannot be learned through the medium of books as are the alphabet, grammar and history. Little girls cannot learn to knit by themselves unless mothers have the time and patience actually to show them how to do it."
My mother must have had an enormous amount of patience. I remember chasing her down to show me the stitches, just one more time. And I actually completed these two outfits, I am sure with a lot of help from mother.
What really amazes me is that the gauge is 7 stitches to the inch using size 3 or 4 needles. That makes it a fingering weight or light sport! I have been teaching my grandchildren to knit and use a worsted weight and size 7 or 8 needles. Some difference!
So a question is: Is it vintage if you remember using an item or does that make you vintage, too?
Thanks Sophia for enabling me to get my hands on a book that has so many good memories and thanks mom for giving me the gift of knitting that has sustained me all these years!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Best Things in Life

I spent a lot of money over the years, trying to have roses like my parents had, a beautiful rose garden, with a huge variety of colors and sizes. I would do everything right, feeding, spraying, covering them with mulch in the winter, only to have very limited success in summer and all of them dying over the winter. I had given up until I saw some roses for sale a few springs ago at the hardware store. They were $1.99 each, so I bought three, thinking six bucks for a few roses that summer was a bargain. Here they are three summers later still alive and blooming for the third or four time this year! I do little more than dead head them and they have been spectacular.

This is one of the many sunflowers that pop up all over the garden, a gift from the birds that drop them randomly as they eat. This actually is growing in a huge pot by the pool. I have culled them back in the garden to a manageable amount and there are a couple of small plots that I fill with sunflowers from a few packages I bought in the spring. It makes for a sunny display at a time when the garden is shutting down as we race toward fall! (It is 59 degrees this morning, no pool again today. I'm having serious withdrawal.)

This is a spiderman afghan that I have started for Baby D's 2nd birthday. Not sure I will have it completed by the 6th of September, but I'm going to give it a try. I knew hanging on to all those skeins of Reynolds Utopia that I have had in my stash for years, would come in handy some day!
Cheap, free, stash diving, it's all good!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Date Night and FO

Saturday DH and I decided to have a date night. Dinner and a movie or rather a movie then dinner, so we could go to an early and "cheaper" show and then dinner. Eight dollars per seat is not too cheap, but a little better than the normal price. We went to see Salt with Angelia Jolie as a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy. She then goes on the run. It was a fun movie with lots of shooting, car crashes, jumping from high places and suspense. It was great to see a woman play the action hero role for a change. Only Angelina could pull that off. There were plot twists that I wasn't expecting and the action never stopped. Altogether a good choice.
Then dinner and we were home by 8:00, which was perfect since we had a doggie overnight guest and didn't want to leave the two dogs locked up for very long.
A rainy, overcast weekend allowed me to complete my other big summer project, the cotton diagonal afghan. This was Lion Brand Cotton Ease that I had purchased to make two great looking market bags until I realized I would never make market bags, too much work when I have so many cloth bags already that I use for that purpose. Decided that I could never have too many afghans, liked the way the colors looked together and liked the idea of a garter stitch project to offset the complex lace I was knitting. I divided the balls evenly (by weight) and used it all up. 1800 yards made a 49 inch x 49 inch afghan. I will use this pattern often, I'm sure, to use up leftover yarn.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Sneaks Up On You, Doesn't It?

These really are the signs of a change of seasons:
This is what's left of a half bushel of tomatoes I picked from the garden this week. Some were eaten, a lot were given away. There's probably another half bushel ready to be picked. They will go in the freezer to be enjoyed all winter in soups and sauce. They are absolutely delicious due to the hot, beautiful summer we have had. Quite a bit different from the disaster of last year's tomatoes that developed a fungus and rotted because of the incredibly rainy summer.

The weather has turned a bit this week, so we have some cooler days, still in the high 70's, but there is definitely a feeling of fall in the air. The leaves are starting to collect in the pool, evenings are getting a little bit cooler and dark comes sooner and school starts in 2 weeks. I'm always surprized at how quickly summer comes to an end, but this year it really seemed to fly.
The Erie County Fair was this week, so we took two of the grandkids on Tuesday and went to see the animals. We also went on Thursday to enjoy as much of the fair food as we could hold. Granddaughter #4 was eager to see all the animals until we actually got close and she discovered they are big, noisy and a little scary.

She much preferred the life size plastic cow that could be "milked".

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I've Created a Monster!

Granddaughter #2 loves bats. So for her birthday next week I made 3 really cute Mochimochi Land Boo the Bat's for her. They have been hanging around the house (ha, ha), sitting on the counter, and enjoying the patio until I got them wrapped and mailed off to the birthday girl. The three local grand kids have been over and totally loving these cute guys. Is it the wings that open and close with a small button, the fact that they hang upside down with their feet or their non-threatening fangs that make them irresistible? I'm not sure, but I have orders from all of them for more!

Monday, August 16, 2010

What a little Water Can Do

Knitting lace brings surprises every time.

You take this messy blob,

add some water in a Eucalan soak,

gently pat out excess

use these tools,

pin like crazy,

wait a few hours and look what you made!!!

The Diamond and Pearl shawl, a square shawl with one of the triangles missing, from the spring issue of Knitter's Magazine made withe Misti Alpaca Hand Paint yarn
Just complicated enough to keep my interest, no tearing of hair or tears. One of those knits that you pat and pet as you are making it and stop every few rows to admire how pretty it is!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Many years ago, an Italian lady in my MIL's neighborhood brought a big pot of vegetable stew over, and we enjoyed it tremendously. She called it giambott (or ciambott) and said it meant "everything" or "anything". Just throw into the pot any odds and ends of vegetables that are growing in the garden. I have made this every summer since and think fondly of Rose and thank her for the good eats. She used bacon for flavor and fat, but I make it a meatless meal by starting with olive oil, sauteing garlic and onions, add tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and green beans (depending on the amount of liquid in the veggies, I may add some water) cook it down for a bit, then add potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Top it with grated cheese and have a good crusty Italian bread to sop up the juice. Delish! This stew will always mean late summer to me. The bunnies ate all but one of my green bean plants and that one plant has been going all out to take the place of his brothers. I have actually frozen some beans and the bunch I put in the stew was from the pickings today.

And look at this!
An FO. Yeah! The peachy shawl is finished, just needs blocking and a better picture. Well written pattern ( just a minor error in Chart B) with a short row edging that really made a nice finished edge, even though it took quite a while to get through. I had to go into the second ball of yarn while finishing the edge, and boy am I glad I didn't need it in the body of the shawl. The color was much deeper and darker. It would have made a huge contrast! Same color and dye lot, just the nature of hand painted yarns. Diamonds & Pearls by Karen Joan Raz made with Misty Alpaca Hand Paint Lace . The colorway is #18 which is peaches and greys and green.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Almost Done

Hard as it has been, I have been sticking to my knitting resolution of 2010: work through existing yarn and projects; no new purchase of yarns until 10 items have been knit; have a clear plan, month by month of what I will be working on.

For August, I really only had finishing up the two large projects, my diamond and pearl shawl and the multi-hued diagonal blanket on my project list. I did not want to even start thinking of casting on for new projects for fear of jumping ahead and starting them.

Because of a lot of knitting time this weekend, (deep breath) I have 4 rows and the bindoff to finish on the shawl and two full balls ( 3 colors) on the diagonal blanket, which should go really fast. So the end is definitely in sight for both these projects. Whirling though my head are thoughts of what to start next.
These are the two projects soon to be FO's.

This month and next, I have two birthdays. So I will have to work in the Mochimochiland bats for Serena, August bday) and the Spidey afghan for LittleD (an early September bday). Hmmm. I guess I do have August knitting queued up.

We had a very nice 3 day visit with BIL and SIL this past week. My SIL wanted me to teach her to knit socks, and in the time we had I took her through magic loop knitting, all the parts of a top down sock, right down to the toe decreases and toe grafting. We made a very small worsted weight sampler for all the techniques and I started the regular sock for her through the cuff, and sent her home with an easy to follow (I hope) vanilla sock pattern and lots of cheat sheets of different techniques.

It was hot, hot, hot while they were here so there were breaks for swimming and lots of eating, also. The boys went golfing. Nathan was watching us knit and remarked "You really like having someone to knit with, don't you Nana?" Yes, I really do. Have to get involved in a knit night or afternoon this fall.

The weather finally broke and it was in the mid 70's which may be why a lot of knitting was done this weekend. And why there are thoughts of cables and hats and mittens floating through my head.