Merry Christmas!

All of us here at La Casa G* hope that you and yours had a lovely Christmas and/or a lovely Tuesday.

The nice folks at Tin Can Knits are giving all the knitters out there a very nice Christmas present: one free pattern (thanks to Nik for the heads-up!). After much deliberation, I finally chose the Sunflower shawl pattern.

sunflower shawl
Photo from Tin Can Knits

I think it will look fabulous in some Sheep of a Different Color laceweight I’ve been hanging onto for a while.

SDC Ginger, close-up


I would give you a link to the shop, but the dyer behind SDC stopped dyeing yarn several years back, and the shop I bought it from went out of business. In 2010. So, yeah, I’ve kind of had it for some time now.

Head on over to Tin Can Knits before New Year’s Day and share the knit love!

Coming soon: a wrap-up post on my 2012 Reading Challenges. Spoiler: they really didn’t go very well.

Phat Fiber Unboxing

Several months back, I tried to get a Phat Fiber Box, but I was little slow on the mouse, and even though I saw the listing go up, I wasn’t able to get one for myself.

Last weekend, I tried again, and, this time, I got it.

What’s a Phat Fiber Box, you ask? The quick description is that it’s a box full of fiber, yarn, and notions samples. (The longer explanation can be found on the Phat Fiber site.) Every box contains a different assortment of contributions, and you can choose whether you want a box with spinning fiber samples with no finished yarn, a box with finished yarn samples and no spinning fiber, or the classic mixed box. It’s a great chance to try out new-to-you vendors so you can blow more money on Etsy find fabulous fiber arts folks. Every month has a different theme, and November 2012 is “Harvest Festival”.

I went for the classic mixed box. I let my daily spindle practice slide long ago, and I’d like to get back in the habit. The box arrived on Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.

Want to see?

Phat Fiber Box
Such an unassuming little box


Phat Fiber
Still unassuming, but I like the green gingham tissue


Phat Fiber
All the things!


The samples fall into three categories: spinning fluff, yarn, and goodies.

First, the fluff, clockwise from top left: Inspiration Fibers, Fiber Fancy, Giffordables, The Painted Tiger, BeesyBee Fibers, Wonderland Fiber, Fiber Faire, Huckleberry Knits, and HilltopCloud.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


Then, the yarn, clockwise from top left: Lady Dye Fiber Arts, StimpyLab, R.A.D. Fibers, Little Alice’s Yarn Stash, The One String, Wandering Wool, Sheep Dreamery, and Plum Crazy Ranch and Fiber Art.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


And the goodies, clockwise from left: GloriaPatre, The Contented Knitter, Cofanetto, and R.A.D. Fibers, plus cards from Phatties not in my assortment.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


It’s a great assortment. Now, to go add some shops to my bookmarks start trying out these samples!

Book Review: Sweater Quest

I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since Martini was interviewed on Cast-On last year. I enjoyed her first memoir – actually, since it was about her experience with Postpartum Depression, maybe enjoyed isn’t the word I want to use.  But it was a great book.  So, I had high hopes for this second outing, and I was not disappointed.

I pre-ordered through Amazon and received my copy today. Since Lil Miss was napping and K was watching something that appeared to be a movie involving World War II, I headed out to the Sky Chair on the deck.  And there I stayed until I finished the book.

Here’s my review as it appears on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing:

It seems like such a silly idea: A memoir about knitting a sweater? But like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who makes an appearance), Martini isn’t really writing about knitting. She’s writing about knitters. Mostly, just one knitter.

Over the course a year, Martini sets out to complete a sweater known as “Mary Tudor”. As she tackles the challenges of acquiring an out-of-print pattern and substituting for out-of-production yarns (no small feat for a project in which color is key) as well as stranded colorwork and steeking, she gathers together details about the designer, Alice Starmore. She explores why knitters are so attracted to Starmore’s famously difficult-to-obtain and difficult-to-knit patterns, and how far they can stray from the designer’s vision yet still remain faithful to the project.

Martini travels to Rhinebeck, Nashville, and Toronto to interview bloggers well-known to knitters around the world. The history of Tudor Roses and the Alice Starmore brand intertwine with the history of knitting in the Shetland Isles and North America and the life one particular American woman in the early twenty-first century. Witty and self-deprecating, Martini doesn’t hesitate to share her liberal leanings or drop the occasional curse word. Her writing style is clean and sharp, a pleasure to read. She’s clearly aware of the absurdity of her “quest”, which just makes it all the more enjoyable.

I gave it 5 stars out of 5.


For the last couple of months, I’ve been engaging in a little experiment. At the end of August, I challenged myself to avoid purchasing any yarn until my birthday (at the end of January). When I decided to go to Stitches West, I moved the goal posts to the first day of Stitches.

And then Jenny of Stash and Burn talked about Cold Sheeping, a great term for Not Buying Yarn. This was prompted by a Cold Sheep thread on the Ravelry group, which I finally got around to reading right after buying a sock kit at a farm in October. Technically, K bought it for me, and I wasn’t even trying to weasel out of my own challenge! (Also, I’m knitting the socks for K’s classroom, anyway.)

I made two exceptions to the No Buying Yarn rule: (1) the Loopy Ewe Sock Club packages, which bill for each shipment rather than up front, and which I committed to back in the Spring, and (2) a possible extension of the Tempted @ 3AM club, which did take an upfront payment, and I can’t tell you how nifty it is to get yarn in the mail that you paid for so long ago it’s like the yarn is coming for free.

Other than that, I’ve been knitting out of my stash. Meanwhile, people have been confessing their falls off the Cold Sheep Wagon. So, I wanted to share a Cold Sheep Success Story.

It started out with me wanting to knit up a Jackalope for K. It was supposed to be a surprise, but that’s another tale. The stumbling block was a lack of rabbit-colored yarn. I have several single skeins of Cascade 220 in red, orange, green, and blue, but no brown or gray. But I do have something: several skeins of white (which I didn’t want to use for the body, because I want to use white for the horns; also, a jackalope is a desert animal, not a snow animal!) and a whole lot of tea.

I brewed a really big pot of tea:

Giant Pot o'Tea

That’s an 8-quart pot (not quite full) and 12 bags of Tetley’s British Blend.

Meanwhile, I soaked a hank of white Cascade 220 in my favorite pasta pot:


Once the tea boiled (over, in fact, which is why I ended up scrubbing the stovetop, which might have made K happier than the finished jackalope will), I pulled out the teabags and very gently added the wet yarn:

In the Pot

And then I waited. I waited about half an hour, but it was still steaming, so I left it until steam stopped coming off of it, then very carefully poured off some of the tea into the sink until I could even more carefully take out the yarn and rinse it under the faucet. I rinsed with warm water until it ran clear, gently squeezed out some of the water, wrapped it in my old Swim Team towel (it’s old, and also dark blue, effectively hiding any tea stains), and finally hung it up to dry in my backyard:

Hanging Up to Dry

I left it there all day, then brought the nearly dry yarn inside to hang over a chair back overnight. The next morning, I took a comparison photo with some white yarn exactly like the original:

Before and After

It came out a very nice desert rabbit brown, I think. And I didn’t even need a separate set of pots.

I’ve been alternating working on the jackalope with working on my third second Zig-Zag Diamonds sock. Progress on the sock is slow, but I’ve turned the heel and picked up the pattern for the foot in the right place this time. At this point, I really just want to be done with it.

Just Stitchin’

I still haven’t cast on for the third Zig Zag Diamonds sock. I have been knitting, but it’s one of the Sooper Seekrit projects that I can’t share yet.

I’ve also been reading my knitterly mailing list email, where I found out about the Stitch n Beach knitting cruise. It sounds fantastic, except for the fact that it departs from the east coast on Friday, February 26 – the same weekend as Stitches West. Think there’ll be one departing from Long Beach the same weekend as Stitches East?

In any case, I’ll be in Santa Clara that weekend, at my second-ever Stitches. (The first one was five years ago!) I signed up for four classes:

  • Tradition! with Candace Eisner-Strick
  • Beyond the Rectangle: Fun Shapes for Shawls and Wraps with Sandi Rosner
  • Spinning for Knitting with Merike Saarniit
  • Suitable Seams with Judy Pascale

I was heavily tempted by the Swedish North Halland Pullover class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, but I’m not staying through Sunday afternoon. I’m planning to drive up on Friday morning, and then back down on Sunday afternoon. The last time I went to Stitches, I did something similar, driving up early Thursday morning to make it to the Opening Day events. While I’m sad to miss the Market Preview on Thursday evening, it’s a fair trade-off for not paying for a third night in the hotel.

I am ridiculously excited about the whole thing. I’ve been catching up on back episodes of Cogknitive, and I just listened to her 4-part outtakes on her trip to last year’s event. I was still such a brand-new knitter the last time I went, and I didn’t have any knitting friends yet. Now, I’m looking forward to meeting people from Ravelry and podcasts and blogs. I can hardly wait.

More Cuteness!

When I wasn’t looking, a whole new knitting e-zine went live. Who knew? And it is full of terribly cute things. Seriously.  Just look at Jacques Crusteau and tell me he’s not adorable. (Little Miss would call him “Crabby Crawl”, of course.) I really like the way the pupils are made of felt and sewn on – I think that’s what I’m going to do for Mr. Deadliest Crab’s eyes.

Summer ’09 is the very first issue of Petite Purls, a new quarterly e-zine full of free patterns for babies and children. The feature articles are on children and crafts, subjects near and dear to my Children’s Librarian heart. Their aesthetic is clean and classic, with a touch of whimsy, and I like the way they describe difficulty levels from “Totally do-able for a mama while breastfeeding or snuggling with baby” to “Seriously? Wait until the kids have been dropped off at college to take on this project”.  (Okay, the descriptions might not appeal so much to the knitting dads/godfathers/uncles.) Patterns in this first issue include – besides our friend Jacques – a Debbie Bliss-inspired little girl’s dress, a cute summer cardi, a sweet cabled vest, a halter dress, and a felted intarsia & fair isle messenger/diaper bag that comes complete with its own changing pad. I hope that future issues might have a few heirloom-style projects, like christening blankets, but I love the very current, wearable feel of the garment patterns.

Very much in the mold of Knitty, Petite Purls is off to a strong start as a great resource for kids’ patterns, whether you’re knitting for your own little one, need to whip up a baby shower gift, or just want one of those bug-eyed lobsters for yourself.

Loopy Loopy

Last week was a busy one on Ravelry. At least, in one particular thread in one particular group.

It was Wollmeisemania over among the Loopy Groupies, as a bunch of us checked obsessively for days, waiting for the elusive Wollmeise 80/20 to be posted. There were people who stayed up all night… two nights in a row. There were people who checked every hour on the hour. There were people (like me) who had to get off the computer and go to work and missed it by 15 minutes.

It sold out in 5 minutes flat, people. That’s insane. But I did have fun chatting with everyone in the thread, and I went and ordered myself some consolation yarn:


Lorna's Laces


Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Lakeview, a lovely colorway and also the name of my old neighborhood. I also ordered a bar of moisturizing soap that sounded nice.

And since this was my 6th order, I got some nifty goodies. That’s right, I’m officially a Loopy Groupie now. I also seem to be officially out of my Not Buying Yarn phase, but let’s not discuss that. Let’s discuss this instead:


Loopy Groupie Goodies


The official Loopy Ewe tote bag, a keychain, some chocolate kisses, and a skein of Fannie’s Fingering from Farmhouse Yarns. In blue, my very favorite color. The only negative is that it says it’s handwash only. I only buy superwash, because I don’t trust myself to remember which socks can’t go in the machine. Maybe I’ll embroider a little something on the inside to remind myself not to toss them in the washer.

In honor of my new Loopy Groupie status, I signed up for the Loopy Ewe Swap. I watched from the sidelines for the last round, and it looked like so much fun. I’m already planning my package. Hmm, maybe I should wait until I have a partner!

New Swift

Just before Christmas, I gave up on the swift I bought from a while back. The very first time I used it, the wooden piece that holds up the umbrella part cracked when I tightened the screw. Within the three uses, it broke completely in half.

I went to the web in search of an alternative, and I bought this from The Knit Store:



The Large Oak Swift is easy to assemble, easy to use, and easy to disassemble for storage. I used it to wind up two skeins of Sasquatch Sock just as soon as I got it out of the box. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

The Yarn Harlot Does LA

Yesterday was my first Saturday off in a few weeks, and I was busybusybusy. Little Miss and I got a late start on going to our church’s Yard Sale, then walked by another yard sale (with a not so much accurate sign that said “Estate Sale”) where I bought a bunch of buttons. After picking up a cinnamon roll for K, we headed home, and Little Miss went down for a nap.

Then, it was out the door again, this time all by myself, to drive downtown for the Yarn Harlot. It was odd being in the Central Library in a non-work-related situation. I had to borrow K’s library card in order to get my parking validated, since I can’t find my card. (I memorized the number some time ago. The sad thing is that this is the second card I’ve lost. I’d be more concerned about it if I weren’t checking my own account activity on a very regular basis, so I know no one else is using it.) Stephanie was highly entertaining, even while being (unknowingly) threatened by the Giant DPNs of Doom:



She’s not nearly so blurry in real life, but I was three rows from the back of the auditorium. “Get there 10 minutes early,” said K. Yeah. Sure. I was in line 20 minutes before the start time, and I was still nearly in the back row. In fact, I was in just about the same seat I usually occupy during the monthly Book Order meetings. And, yes, that’s a sock she’s knitting during the Q&A time.  My knitting is not so blurry in real life, either, but it’s a test project, so I won’t be putting up a real picture of that until the pattern goes live.

I found out about the test knitting gig through (where else?) Ravelry, where I also found out that the Yarn Pirate Booty Club is open for enrollment. With all of these new opportunities to spend money, I am in search of new financial planning software. I am not loving the Quicken 2004 I’ve been using. Any recommendations for a Mac-OS-X-Tiger-friendly program?

New Knitty

It’s that time again! The new Knitty issue is up. As usual, I’ve got my eye on several patterns. Muir, Neiman, Mr. Greenjeans, and Diamond Waffle are all in my queue, which is quickly approaching 100 items. (It was over 100, actually, but I go through it every so often and take out the patterns that I’ve decided, on further reflection, don’t really appeal to me.)

The Diamond Waffle pattern also includes a link to the Lighter Circular Beginning (scroll down) on Eunny Jang’s blog. I’m looking forward to trying it out on a pinwheel baby blanket first. I have a bunch of skeins of Lion Brand Homespun, and I’d like to use them up. Is it too cutesy if I take a skein of Colonial and a skein of Williamsburg and call it my Colonial Williamsburg Baby Blanket?

Also in this issue of Knitty are some adverts for the Year of Lace, which I would love to join, but I don’t quite have the cash. BUT! Enrollment is open until February, so, if they don’t fill up, maybe I can save up. Or convince someone to get it as a holiday/birthday present for me.