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Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy little things

Oh spring, when a young gal's fancy turns away from her blog.

I just can't seem to make myself sit down and conjure up a post.

At least not a coherent one. My split-neck tee is moving at a glacial place, so instead of bemoaning my lack of progress, I'll just tell you about the little things that are making me happy nowadays.

* Little Sludgies the Whales popping up all over the place! Look at how many Moonlight Stitches made -- she's a Sludgie-making machine. (R.I.P. Sludgie, by the way.)

* Prizes from Michelle's blog! Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, chocolates from Holland, yarn needles, chestnut and brown sugar soap, and sunflower seeds for my fire escape. As she wrote in the card, "give your owl something to hide behind." Ha!

* Jon's beard. He decided to grow one, and I think it looks quite fetching, no? Here we are at our friend's fabulous Greek wedding. (I ate my weight in fried calamari.)

* This tasty Moroccan tagine. I made it tonight, and it was delectable - if I do say so myself. And I ain't usually much of a cook. In fact, Jon can usually tell that I've been cooking because the smoke detector has been taken down.

* Surprise notes from knitters. Jon's aunt, who lives in New Mexico, wrote me a letter praising mitered corners, a skill she learned after taking a class with Valentina Devine. I'm a bit intimidated by the process, but intrigued all the same. She made the loveliest baby sweater out of the squares.

* Bluelines. Has anyone else seen this? I secretly covet a job at Martha Stewart's Blueprint magazine, and this blog gives me a daily dose of the magazine's panache. I adore these little clothing pin people, and I ordered a pair of these shoes in yellow. (But I won't be sewing m'self a bathing suit anytime soon, thank you very much!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Whale of a Pattern

Maybe I just like wayward sea creatures. Maybe I'm partial to the Gowanus Canal. Or maybe I needed something to smile about. But for some reason, the tale of Sludgie the Whale -- a minke whale who ended up in Brooklyn -- really captured my imagination yesterday.

To be honest, I doubted his existence at first. Surely it's a large dog, I said to my editor, or maybe a section of sewer pipe. After all, we're always chasing down tips of adults floating in the East River that end up being pieces of cardboard. My colleague pointed out that it was likely the bloated body of a mobster, a species more frequently spotted in the Gowanus.

But he was a whale, and he was dubbed Sludgie by an editor with fond memories of Fudgie the Whale. (We didn't have Carvels in Western Pa. when I was growing up, so I've never tasted this treat. Sigh.)

So last night, I decided that the world wouldn't be complete without a crocheted Sludgie. I think the world needs more newsworthy knits! So here he is, complete with removable water spout, if anyone is similarly captivated by him:

Sludgie the Whale pattern

Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, small portion of the skein
Or whatever gray yarn you may have in the stash
Zara Plus, baby blue
Or whatever water-colored yarn you may have in the stash
US F/5 3.75 mm
Yarn needle
Small amount stuffing
2 black buttons
Black embroidery thread
Embroidery needle

Who cares?

sc = single crochet
sc2tog = single crochet two together, decreasing a stitch.

Sludgie is crocheted in two pieces then seamed.

Rnd 1: With gray yarn, chain 30, turn
Rnd 2: Sc in each stitch across. Ch 1, turn.
Rnd 3: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in each stitch across, 2sc in last stitch. Ch1 turn.
Rnd 4 and 5: Repeat rounds 2 and 3 once more.
Rnd 6, 7, 8: Repeat round 2.
Rnd 9: sc across 20 stitches, ch 1, trn.
Rnd 10, 11, 12 and 13: sc across 20 stitches, ch 1, turn.
Rnd 14: Sc2tog, sc across until last stitch, Sc2tog.
Rnd 15: sc in each stitch across.
Repeat last two rows four times more. Fasten off.
Reconnect yarn to row 8, opposite beginning of body.
Rnd 9: sc 8, ch1, turn.
Rnd 10 - 15: sc across, ch1, turn.
Rnd 16: 2sc in first stitch, sc across, 2sc in last stitch, ch 1, turn.
Repeat last round five times more
Rnd 22: 2sc in first stitch, sc across next 8 stitches, slip stitch in next 3 stitches, sc across next 8 stitches, 2sc in last stitch. Fasten off.

Repeat Rnds 1 to 22 for other side of Sludgie.

Embroider face:
Sew one button on each side of whale for eyes. Embroider a cute smile on each side with thread and needle.

With gray yarn and yarn needle and starting at left top of whale‘s head, seam the two sides of Sludgie using whatever method you are comfy with. Stuff the whale as you go, making sure that all yarn ends are secured inside. Give him a snug for good measure.

Removable water spout:
I kinda improvised this. I tied the baby blue yarn in a knot at the bottom of a match, then wrapped the yarn tightly around the match, up and down three times. I tied it in a knot at the top then, using a yarn needle, drew the yarn through the top six times, leaving large loops. I bet there’s a better method out there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everything old is new

Here we are again, on my windowsill. I'm gonna need to find a more interesting way to show off my simple knits. This is the ever-growing split neck tee, which is mostly a sea of stockinette stitch from here on out. (Maybe I need to write a book called "Mindless Knits: Designs for people who like to zone out completely when they knit.") Anyway, the yarn is nice and smooth and flies off the needles. I'm thinking that I'll have to add a little waist shaping so that I don't look like I'm wearing a potato sack.

And I meant to show all of you these recent additions. Before my grandfather died last year, he was always giving me little things that belonged to my grandmother. Brooches. Spools of thread. Crochet hooks and candlesticks. A year or two back, he gave me this groovy knitting basket, which I was so, so excited about. But I never had room for it in my luggage, so it languished in my girlhood bedroom, holding my "at home" knitting supplies. (Anybody else keep supplies in a second location, you know, just in case?)

This trip home, though, I had my car and was able to spirit it back to Brooklyn. Doesn't it look at home here?

But I was even happier to find this -- the afghan that my grandmother crocheted for me when I was little. It was tucked away for safe keeping, zipped in a garment bag up in my parents' attic.

How had I forgotten about this? It matched my pink-and-white gingham bedroom perfectly, and I suppose when I outgrew that color scheme, I also thought I'd outgrown the afghan. She made a blue one for my brother, a green one to match our sofa, even a brown-and-gold one since those were our high school colors. I wish I could ask her where she bought the yarn, how long it took, how she chose the colors and patterns? But I'm happy enough just having this.

I hesitate to change gears to completely --- but in the world of creepy knitting news, I bring you this disturbing tidbit. Perhaps you heard about this law student who isn't, um, shy in front of the camera? Well, I'm told she didn't just prance around naked -- she was knitting nude, too! Ew.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Palm trees and tax return yarns

I'm on a little business trip, and this is my view. So crazy to wake up in brownstone Brooklyn and go to sleep under palm trees.

For some reason, I wasn't in the mood to knit on the plane -- crazy, I know -- but I was pleased that the in flight movie was "Dreamgirls." Though I've always found it a little strange when characters just spontaneously burst into song, I was oddly moved by the story. Or maybe not oddly, since I tend to be emotional when I have to get up at 4 in the morning.

So in a surprise move, I've decided to knit the split neckline tee from "Fitted Knits." I'm really delighted by spring this year, and I just can't bring myself to buy a heavy, bulky yarn. (Plus, I can't stinking find any reasonably priced Lana Grossa Royal Tweed for the textured tunic.) So a jaunty short-sleeved top it is!

I'm calling this my Tax Return Yarn since I did my taxes Saturday night, and I treated myself *beforehand* to some yarn. Very motivating. It's Rowan Cotton Jeans from Brooklyn General, since I couldn't find any of the recommended Cascade Invito either. Darn obscure yarns! And since you simply don't make a trip to Brooklyn General on a weekend without running into a Spider or two, I naturally bumped into Katy. She nearly scared the heck out of me, but she faithfully supported my yarn purchase.