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November 30, 2006

Icelandic Shawls

Today's mail brought me a book I ordered just a couple of days ago from Schoolhouse Press: Three-cornered and Long Shawls. The book presents 27 patterns: 21 triangular shawls and 6 rectangular stoles. Schoolhouse Press was very prompt replying to my email acknowledging my special packaging instructions (we've had a rather abusive mail person lately who thinks nothing of forcing things into our mailbox regardless of shape and size). They also followed my instructions (unlike other vendors) and shipped the book right away. I'll definitely add them to my list of good guys.

The book is spiral bound and not as substantial as I had expected for $45. A lot of the images are old black & white photos that don't show the shawls as well as I had hoped. Another slight disappointment is the translation. The companion booklet with translation includes instructions for all the shawls and an introduction on general instructions and techniques, but I would have liked to read also the historical background section since I don't know anything about Icelandic knitting. In spite of these complaints, I'm glad I got the book as there are two shawls that I like enormously: Hálfsák and Hirna Herborgar. More projects to add to my to do wish list. Ah, when?

Three-cornered and Long Shawls
by Sigríður Halldórsdóttir
78 pages
language: Icelandic
ISBN 9979-70-032-7

Translation by Marilyn van Keppel

November 26, 2006

St. Brigid Addiction

Yes, it's time to fess up: I am addicted to St. Brigid. The pieces in the basket, soon to become an FO, are my fourth St. Brigid. The first one went to a friend after it became evident that I had knit it a size too small.

The second turned out a bit too short for comfort and a bit itchy at the neck, in spite of being pure merino and being advertised as perfect for use next to the skin.

The third one is in a gorgeous burgundy Jaeger extra fine merino and has suffered much abuse — all love, really — as it has been my favorite sweater for the past four years. The yarn is lovely, warm and soft; it did pill in the front, though, but I got a lot of mileage out of it. I made the collars very loose on purpose as I like to wear them with comfy shirts underneath.

It's almost impossible to get anything done in our house without at least one of the fuzzies wanting to participate. Almost as soon as I put down the sweaters, Pipie decided to test them for softness and started kneading them (sigh).

Hm, I like this.

Yes, this is nice and soft.

What do you mean, I can't be here? Surely, I'm improving the shot.

And I tried to get in a close-up to show the cable detail, but with only two hands I couldn't hold the camera and fend off Pipie.

At least Kelvin didn't join in the fun. He was taking another nap in front of the kitchen vent. I swear, he has the tostiest butt in Southern California. He was tired poor baby, after helping out earlier with my kanji studies.

See what I mean?

Er, I think you got one wrong here. Shall I fix it for ya?

November 24, 2006

Na Craga #2 - Yatta!

I finally finished my second Na Craga sweater, this one for me. The neck is a bit too tight, but I have no desire to undo it. Once I wash it, the sweater will relax some, although I don't expect the neck to become less tight. Oh well… live and learn. Now I can tackle my third big UFO — the St. Brigid — and after that, I can get back to the Fair Isle sweater.

The picture kind of sucks, but daylight was waning and I didn't want to wait till tomorrow.

Era ora, eh? Ho finito il mio secondo Na Craga. Il collo è un po' troppo stretto, ma non ho voglia di disfarlo. Una volta lavata, la maglia si dovrebbe stendere un po', anche se non mi aspetto che il collo cederà. Pazienza… farò meglio la prossima volta. Adesso posso occuparmi del mio terzo UFO — la maglia St. Brigid — e dopo di quello posso riprendere a lavorare al maglione Fair Isle.

La foto non è granchè, ma la luce stava per andarsene e non volevo aspettare domani.

November 22, 2006


It was only a matter of time; I had to join a Knit Along sooner or later. So yesterday I signed up for my first KAL — the Stranded Colorwork Challenge. I am not very good with commitment, but this KAL doesn't have a deadline so it seems perfect for me and since my first attempt at Fair Isle knitting is languishing in a basket in the corner of my office I thought, what the heck, let's give the poor sweater a chance.

Era solo questione di tempo; prima o poi dovevo partecipare a un knit-along (KAL). Ieri mi sono iscritta al Stranded Colorwork knit-along. Non sono molto brava con gli impegni ufficiali, ma questo KAL non ha scadenze quindi mi è sembrato perfetto e poi il mio primo tentativo di Fair Isle è lì che langue in un cesto nell'angolo del mio ufficio per cui mi sono detta, diamogli una chance.

My good friend Andrea (ciao biondina!) is one of the hostesses and I hope that she'll nag me when she sees me faltering. Along with the other two hostesses — MJ and Mary Heather — she also set up a Stranded Colorwork Flickr group.

La mia amica Andrea (ciao biondina!) è una delle hostess e spero che mi terrà battuta se mi vede vacillare. Insieme alle altre due hostess — MJ e Mary Heather — ha creato anche un grouppo Flickr per Stranded Colorwork.

Let's see if I embarass myself or if I finally get my act together. Here is the Fair-Islish sweater with front and back done, armhole steeks cut and the stitches of one arm mostly picked up. That's where I got stuck.

Vediamo se faccio una figuraccia in pubblico o se mi metto sotto di buzzo buono. Ecco le foto della maglia in style Fair Isle con il davanti e il didietro finiti, gli "steeks" per le maniche tagliati e i punti per una manica quasi tutti ripresi sul ferro. È a qual punto che mi sono arenata.

And I still haven't finished my second Na Craga, although I got at a good point last Saturday; I only have to knit the neck and I'll be done. I promise… this weekend.

E non ho neanche finito il mio secondo Na Craga, però sono arrivata a un buon punto sabato scorso. Devo solo fare il collo ed è finito. Questo weekend… sul serio.

November 20, 2006

Knitting Gloves

  The Start Series books are Japanese books that introduce the basics of various craft techniques such as Hawaiian quilting, glove knitting, counted thread embroidery and so on. The last time I went to Kinokuniya, I picked up this booklet that explains how to knit mittens, gloves and socks.

Start Series è una serie di libretti giapponesi che introducono varie techniche come le trapunte hawaiane, il ricamo, i guanti fatti a mano, e così via. L'ultima volta che sono andata alla libreria Kinokuniya, ho comprato questo librettino che spiega come fare le manopole, i guanti e i calzini a maglia.

What I like about these books is the clear step-by-step approach that doesn't take anything for granted. Yes, they are in Japanese, but step-by-step here really means what it should. I knitted a pair of gloves about three years ago and since I haven't made any since, and also had some trouble keeping stitch consistency at the base of the fingers, I figured I'd get some visual help.

La cosa che mi piace di questi libri è che mostrano tutto passo per passo e non danno niente per scontato. Si, sono in giapponese, ma sono passo per passo nel vero senso della parola. Tre anni fa ho fatto un paio di guanti ma siccome da allora non ne ho fatti altri e avevo anche avuto qualche problema a mantenere i punti uniformi alla base delle dita, ho pensato di procurarmi un po' d'aiuto visivo.

The examples employ DPNs and I use circulars, but I'm sure it won't be a problem. Here is the book information along with some spreads from the glove section.

Gli esempi sono tutti con i ferri a doppie punte e io uso i circolari, ma sono sicura che non sarà un problema. Di seguito, i dati del libro e alcune immagine dalla sezione sui guanti.

はじめての手あみ手袋とくつ下―今年の冬こそチャレンジ ミトン・5本指の手袋・くつ下
ISBN 4-529-03844-0
50 pages

The booklet includes instructions for:
— Mittens (one model, two variants)
— Ladies' gloves
— Men's gloves
— Men's socks
— Ladies' socks

All models are illustrated with step-by-step photos, line drawings and chart graphics. Text in Japanese.

Il libro include istruzioni per:
— Manopole (un modello, due varianti)
— Guanti da donna
— Guanti da uomo
— Calzini da uomo
— Calzini da donna

Tutti i modelli sono illustrati con foto dettagliate, illustrazioni e schemi.

A particularly nice touch is that they change color yarn within a project to better illustrate the technique.

Un tocco particolarmente efficace è il cambio di colore del filato all'interno dello stesso progetto, per rendere più chiara la tecnica.

The main difference between the ladies' gloves and the men's gloves lies in the construction of the thumb.

La differenza basilare fra i guanti da donna e quelli da uomo consiste nella costruzione del pollice.

And did I mention that it was only $9.70?

E ho accennato al prezzo? Solo $9.70.

November 17, 2006

Kitchen life

  While days have been ridiculously hot, nights have been rather cool and the boys, especially Kelvin, have switched to their winter routine. That includes spending more night time in our bed and more morning time in the kitchen.

The heating has been going on early in the morning and the kitchen has an air vent conveniently located on one of the cabinets. Kelvin parks his butt there at 6:30 am and doesn't move until breakfast is served. Pipie follows him everywhere so he's also in the kitchen but on one of the stools, preferably the one I use. As soon as I get up to do something, he takes my seat and then looks longingly at Kelvin high up on the cabinet. Pipie doesn't dare to make that jump.

I like a slow start in the morning and in the past few weeks I've been using my breakfast time to study kanji. It's usually the language tapes while I work out or drive, and the written stuff in the scraps of time here and there. Here I'm making kanji cards. Not that I really needed more, since I have several sets, but I realized that none of the pre-made sets are arranged in a way that I find useful, so I am making my own. That way I can include or omit information based on my needs and then number the cards to suit my purpose. We'll see how that works out. If I'd put the same energy into learning any other language, I'd be fluent in three more languages by now. Oh well… as we say in Italian "Hai voluto la bicicletta? Pedala!". No one to blame but me.

Once the heating goes off, Kelvin moves down a notch, to the microwave oven. It's a good position to check what I'm doing (he likes to keep an eye on me to make sure I do things properly) and he hopes I'll turn the oven on. For some reason he seems to like that.

And now off to work… in the other room.

November 14, 2006

Nordic Knitting

  Today I bring you yet another Japanese book, but it's more Scandinavian than Japanese. It's a book of knitting techniques from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Norway. The book is in Japanese, but (take note Japanese publishers!) with the basic technique instructions also in English. Bet you're happy about that; I know I am.

The first half of the book presents photos of the projects and the techniques being used. The second half — How To Make — gives instructions for the projects with charts, illustrations and Japanese text.

One of the projects is actually crocheted (tapestry crochet from Finland). As I found out browsing shelves of Japanese books, when you see something classified as knitting, it can be about either knitting or crochet or both.

Nordic Knitting: Ten fabuluous techniques
ISBN 4-579-11118-4

Table of Contents

  • Tapestry Crochet in Korsnäs
  • Fur Tape
  • Domino Strikke
  • I Cord
  • Näverstickning
  • Kihnu vits
  • Estonian Spiral
  • Crown
  • Tubular Stitch
  • Bead Knitting

How To Make

Finland: tapestry crochet

Finland: fur tape

Sweden: Näverstickning

Estonia: Estonian spiral

Norway: tubular stitch

I like this little book a lot. I am glad it includes instructions for fur tape, as I've been wanting to try that for a while. Not that it's anything trascendental; once you see the instructions it's like duh… couldn't I have figured it out for myself? Oh well… I'll be creative next time. Lene of Dances with Wool has some gorgeous mittens with crewel embroidery and fur tape that I've been lusting after and now I have no excuse.

I haven't started anything new in a while because of all the UFOs languishing in my baskets around the house. The result is that I've neither finished the UFOs nor started anything new. Maybe I should just give up on trying to finish things, or I should stop working on projects that take a long time to complete and stick to socks and other small items.

November 12, 2006

Salone del gusto - Torino

  From my food correspondent in Italy — well, my friend Giorgio — some pictures from the Sixth Salone del Gusto that took place in Torino, Italy, a couple of weeks ago.

Giorgio has been involved with the Slow Food movement — a sponsor of the event — for several years and is passionate about food, so he travelled from Faenza to Torino where he spent a few days enjoying good food and lectures about good food.

A bustier made entirely of pasta, I think.

Ah, to have been there and smelled the air… have you ever seen that many wheels of parmigiano in one place?

Ravioli. Yum.

Blue eggs from southern Chile.

The Mali food stall.

Formaggio nel sacco (cheese in the bag).

Spalla di cinta senese. I have no idea how to translate this.

I wish I could have been there and seen and smelled and tasted all the good stuff from many parts of the world. Maybe another year.

November 11, 2006

Dorian & Co.

Today I managed to take enough time off to drive over to Elena's place and spend a couple of hours with some friends. We were also graced by the presence of three sweet cats and one handsome angora bunny — Dorian. Is he cute or what?

He likes to be petted and picked up.

Elena's cats didn't sit still for portraits. One of the two new cats — Doc — licks at the slightest provocation. In fact, even without provocation. As soon as you are within range of his tongue, you become a lollipop.

Garen brought her drum carder and carded lots of multicolored fiber to be used for braided rugs.

Janet was spinning optim on her new magnetized support spindle.

And Garen brought back several Orenburg shawls from Rhinebeck, one more beautiful than the other. I particularly like the very fine shawls, especially the taupe one. They brought back memories of my two trips to Rhinebeck in previous years.

After running around his pen (which he was introduced to today for the first time), Dorian finally settled down, as much as a rabbit can settle down, really. His little nose kept moving at furious speed all the time.

I want a bunny, too!

November 9, 2006

Make your circular needles

Ever wanted to make your own circular knitting needles, but didn't know where to start? Knitters Review just published a step-by-step tutorial by Rosemary Thomas.

It looks detailed and comprehensive and if I had the patience, I'd try it. Given that my free time is at an all time low — you've probably noticed that I haven't been posting as often — I'd rather use my little scraps of time to actually knit, but you go ahead and make your own needles!

November 8, 2006

The House is not a home

  Ah, it feels good, it feels so good. The House of Representatives is not a branch of government anymore and the warmongering villains in the White House can no longer pretend that they represent the rest of us.

I don't know how much change is possible in the next two years, given the president's veto power, but this is a good beginning.

November 2, 2006

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