Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas with Al

Alpaca, that is. Two weeks before Christmas I realized, much to my horror, that I did not have a big gift for my father. Big as in significant, not size. This is a tradition in my household. Everyone gets one "big" gift and one or two little gifts. With two weeks to go, I was sure I could knit him a scarf so off I went to the Stash of DOOOOOM. I picked out some lovely black Alpaca I bought last spring at Maryland Sheep and Wool and started a modified basketweave pattern.

I was into the second ball when tragedy struck- a hole. My own fault, as I had joined in the middle rather than at the end of the row. No problem, thought I, I'll just rip it and start over, this time using a simpler pattern (3x3 reversible rib). I still have a week to go (I'm not the fastest knitter).

On December 23 I snagged the scarf pulling it out of my purse. ARRGH!

Now I had a serious problem. I cannot knit a scarf in two days. I can, however, crochet a hat in that time if it does not have a major pattern.

I forgot that last bit.

I ran to my newly-purchased book on Charted Celtic Cross-Stitch, chose a twisted rope design and got to work. The design is done using tapestry crochet technique where the contrasting yarn is carried behind the main yarn and brought forward for the design. I used Alpaca and some other soft vintage yarn from the DOOM stash.

Here is the finished result:

Here's a shot of the hat being blocked on tupperware. Note my arm. I am wearing my bathrobe because it is CHRISTMAS MORNING and I have not finished weaving in the ends. I think the pattern turned out nicely. I would have enjoyed it more had I not been working so feverishly.

Note to self: start making Christmas presents in JANUARY.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

No Casino for Gettysburg

The Pennsylvania Gaming Board has decided not to award a slot license to Crossroads. This means there will NOT be a casino in Gettysburg. You can find a link to the story on the New York Times site here.

*begin soapbox*

I am THRILLED there will not be a casino in Gettysburg. Yes, LeVan et al. said the casino would not have been visible from the battlefield (what, it's invisible?) and yes, there probably would have been a short-term increase in revenue/jobs for Adams County. IMHO, the resulting increase in crime, traffic and loss of ambiance would not have been worth the short term gain.

Honestly, I really could not have imagined a worse place to put a casino- except perhaps Salt Lake City (my apologies to Salt Lake City). A casino right next to Gettysburg, a major civil war battlefield. Imagine- Pickett's Charge Keno! Confederate 21! Union Penny Slots! 55,000 dead!


*end soapbox*

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

December birthdays are a tricky business. They are often lost amid holiday preparations and bouts of the flu. Case in point: last year's birthday was a washout. This year, however, was glorious.

Mr. Brewguy took me to the Flag House Inn in Annapolis for a parents-only overnight adventure. My parents (who ROCK) babysat the little brewers overnight. Mr. Brewguy spends quite a bit of time photographing politicians at the State House in Annapolis so he was eager to show me around. Ireland seems to be in vogue these days - there are at least 5 Irish pubs (I can recommend both Sean Donlon's and The Galway Bay) and two stores carrying Irish goods.

The best part was my knitting book score. One of Samurai Knitter's book recommendations was Charted Celtic Designs. Finally! I have some old celtic design sourcebooks but have been incredibly frustrated trying to figure out how to make my own charts using celtic patterns (that twist goes where???) I was thrilled to find two celtic cross stitch books at one of the aforementioned irish gift store (should have written down the name!) on Main Street and promptly bought them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fear not!

This is the lesson I try to pass along to everyone I teach: do not be afraid of the knitting. I am not sure how this fear of knitting got started. I myself had this fear when I first started knitting: the fear that I would make a mistake and as a result, ruin the whole piece.

You cannot ruin the whole piece. You only need start again. Sure, it can be frustrating if you are twelve inches into a complicated lace pattern only to discover you've dropped a stitch at inch #four. This is why lifelines were invented. And yes, it helps if you use reasonably-priced yarn until you are comfortable. This is why Red Heart is $1.99 a skein.

In the beginning, however, you have to be free to experiment. Work out how to hold the needles in a way that is comfortable for you (continental, american).

Experimentation is how I stumbled across my current scarf pattern, a reversible rib. I was sitting in my car, killing time before my doctor's appointment. Having learned my lesson about not bringing a project, I had needles and a nice dk weight varigated merino in my purse. "Let's try a drop stitch pattern!" I thought to myself (I had just finished re-reading the Clapotis pattern after seeing the photos on Franklin's blog). Ok, that looks yucky (rip, rip, rip). Now what? Cables would not show very well on the stripes. I had already tried a straight stockinette. This yarn was recovered from another scarf I made in stockinette that rolled like a stack of quarters no matter how much I blocked it.

Then I tried a 3x2 rib pattern on an even-number of stitches. I have lately become enamored of even numbered patterns on odd-numbered stitches. I thought this would make a nice crumbly nap but it turned out to be much more interesting.

Brewgal's Reversible Rib Scarf
Cast on 34
Knit first row (I find starting with one knit row is easier than starting the pattern off the cast on row.)
Slip 1, knit 1 (edge stitch). *Knit 3, purl 2* repeat 6 times, knit last two stitches.
Repeat this row until scarf reaches desired length, knit last row, cast off.

Nothing fancy. I used #6 needles on dk weight yarn. This makes a cute little 2-stitch-wide rib on both sides.