Friday, January 21, 2005

It's been a busy few weeks here. Last weekend we drove down to New Jersey to help a family member move. It's an 11-hour drive each way, and we have to do it again next weekend. I used to love to drive and really love road trips, and I know it'll come back to me again, but somehow the accident this summer unnerved me.

nature embellishedIn local news, I have only one word for you. COLD! This morning it was -6 degrees out. It never got above 5 degrees all day, and it's back below zero now, with a frigid wind howling outside.

What do you do when it's that cold out?

Well, you can try to shovel snow. But that only goes so far when the wind keeps blowing it back into your face. So I retreated back inside to make...

butter, anyone?
buttermilk biscuits! These came from one of my favorite relatively recent cookbooks, Baking with Julia, and the recipe itself was written by Marion Cunningham. Sadly, the secret to these biscuits' success is crisco, and lots of it.

During the drive down to NJ, I worked on a sock using some of Jen's marvelous CVM fiber, acquired during the KR retreat and spun on the Schacht this fall.

doomed, doomed, doomedWell, I thought it was going beautifully. I even took this photo just before heading south to NJ. "I'll have a finished sock by the time I get there!" I smugly thought.

But although the fiber is delicious and the yarn behaved beautifully, the sock ended up being... well... damned ugly. I don't know if my calculations were wrong, or if some tollbooth attendant along the way cast a curse, or what. But it was just plain ugly.

Mis-shapen, ill-fitting, wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's my largest frogging job in quite a while, but it must be done. I think the yarn will do much better in a scarf or shawl.

before, during, and afterMeanwhile, I've been working on making some headway with all the fleeces I accumulated last year. A surprise treat has been the border leicester fleece I got at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

I kept avoiding it in favor of a few other, more crimpy lush fleeces (polwarth in particular). But once I finally started playing with it, I discovered just how beautiful border leicester can be. Soft, smooth, airy, producing a relaxed and fluid fine stream of fiber. I'm thinking... shawl?

In the larger world of knitting, I am still totally blown away by the new yarns Knit Picks is offering under its own private label. Do you realize just how big this could be? A major retailer steps over the yarn companies and goes straight to the mills—sure, we've seen that done before. But they're actually passing the savings on to the customer instead of pocketing it for themselves.

It's a bold move, marvelous for consumers and potentially unnerving for yarn companies. I don't think LYSs necessarily have anything to worry about immediately, but if other large vendors follow suit, things could get verrrry interesting. We're starting to redefine the whole notion of yarn company.

(Kelley is sending me a care package of her new yarns and I promise a full report on these yarns in KR.)

Count Casey surveys his domain

And finally, I'll leave you with a shot of Casey gallantly posing with his prey. (If you look closely at the bottom left corner of the picture, you'll see a little grey angora handknit mouse.) Ain't he a gallant fella?

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Check out Monkey, the world's first knitted action figure! He's so cute I can hardly stand it. I'm crossing my fingers she continues to update her blog, because this is just too good.

(It's dark and snowing outside, I finally sent out this week's newsletter, and I'm not feeling particularly pithy—but I had to share Monkey with you.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

And a very happy New Year to you! I had a good time away with my family. The usual: doing very little, eating too much food, and sleeping in far too late. But it was good. Just what the doctor ordered.

Speaking of ordering, those of you who've ordered from the KR Boutique will know that I take great delight in writing a little note to each customer. This works well, not only because I love to write but because I have a little... um... fountain pen fetish. When I was a wee little girl, I used to stare longingly at my mother's Mont Blanc fountain pen. No, I was not allowed to use it, and I never dared even try.

I went to France at age 15 and discovered... gasp!... that they sell fountain pens over there like we sell ballpoint pens. Thus my collection began. Over the years it has grown embarrassingly large, but one name has been missing. Until this Christmas. Tee hee.

May I present the newest addition to my collection, and the instrument with which all my KR thank-yous will be written in 2005: A Mont Blanc Meisterstruck Mozart fountain pen. Ain't she a beauty? Small, slim, and stylish, but with wonderful heft, and a truly fluid nib.

(Truth be told, some of my other pens actually write better. But it's the principle of the thing.)

Today I stumbled across a new online knitting magazine that'll be coming out soon. It's called Spun. Founder Mary-Margaret Jones explains, "We want a stitch-and-bitch lifestyle magazine — a zine that takes into account our shared love of yarn but goes even further. It would also be about music, films, art, food, travel. And there would be features about people like us."

I always cringe when I see people use the "something for people like us" description, because it's so prone to ego and abuse and it always comes surrounded by a huge, exclusive, anti-us wall.

So we'll see. But isn't it interesting that Knitty already has an anti-Knitty! Which goes to prove that even in the knitting world, we're a fickle bunch.

I think I'll step aside on this one.