Monday, December 31, 2007


Knitting Japanese

...I really think so.

I brought several knitting books home from Japan five years ago, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't made anything from them until now. The catalyst was one of our favorite customers at Dublin Bay, who came in for help with a pattern from one of her extensive collection of Japanese pattern books. Rusty as I am, I can still figure out enough of the Kanji to decipher gauge and needle size, and if the yarn type is written in Hiragana or Katakana, we're golden. In any event, I think she was satisfied with the limited help I was able to provide, and gave me the suggestion that I offer a class to help knitters decipher Japanese patterns. I really liked that idea, so as a refresher, I knit up that cute little bunny cap from the book pictured above. (The title reads, "Konna no hoshii", which means, "I want one of these". )

I thought I'd put together a little teaching proposal for some of the LYS's and see if there would be any interest. Unfortunately, I can't crochet worth a dang, so I wouldn't be able to help with amigurumi--but if someone needs help with a knit hat or sweater, I can do that. If I did get hired to teach that sort of seminar class, I would use the little hat for a sample. To get around the copyright issue, (photocopying books is a no-no,) I'd translate the pattern from Japanese and schematics to English text with a photo of my finished item, if anyone wanted it.

Oh yeah, the yarn I used for the cap is Zitron Loft. I absolutely love it. It's a very squooshy-soft merino single ply, comes in a great color range and is a good felting yarn.

FO's in Plain English

Finally, the Dublin Bay Socks I started back in September are done. The only thing I like about these socks is the color. I used Lang Jawoll, which is a little finer gauge than I like for sock yarn. It's soft enough, but doing socks with a super-thin yarn and needles smaller than a US 2 starts to feel like purgatory for me, way before I'm done. Yet I like my socks thin, not bulky--so I guess I just have to suck it up. As for the pattern, well, blegh. Didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would, so my next socks will be variegated Opal in a plain-vanilla pattern.

Completing this scarf means the end of my Christmas knitting is in sight. Just have Jason's sweater to go. I knit this with 2 balls of Simply Shetland Silk & Lambswool, in a basic prayer shawl pattern on size 2's, for my brother. He had told me he wanted a scarf, but it had to be fine gauge. Wanted to make me work, I guess. And work I did, 'cause I trucked on this pretty much every day for a couple of weeks. Finished it too late for Christmas, obviously, but there is still a couple of months of winter to go. I'll spare you the current family squabbles, just suffice it to say that the last time we spoke, he said something that made him sound like a complete dickhead. And here I am giving him a nice handknit scarf, go figure.

It's New Year's Eve, and I'm staying home and knitting! What do you think, guys, is that messed up? 'Cause to be perfectly honest, it's just what I wanted to do. We don't drink, and while I wouldn't call us anti-social, we just don't go to a lot of gatherings. Michelle is going to an alcohol-free party at her friend's house, so it'll be just my spousal unit and me. And he usually retires by 9:00 pm. I don't think I can take this much excitement, dude.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and reading my twice-weekly caffeine rap. You are my buddies, and I wish everybody a 2008 filled with happiness, contentment, peace, love...and beautiful yarn!!

My first post of 2008, I plan to make public New Year's resolutions for the first time, and since I am having a colonoscopy on Friday, I'll probably be rather cranky. But the resolutions should be amusing. Chickenlips out!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Working in a LYS...it's not ALL drudgery! ;-)

Here are the most major of the samples I have knit since working at Dublin Bay. OK, I totally stole the idea to bring the camera into the shop, photograph my FO's and blog them from Chrissy, but I don't think she'll mind too much. Especially when I tell you that the stuff she's made for Dublin Bay is gorgeous, and you must visit her blog to see the pics! Let me give you the rundown on the above items, from top to bottom.

1. I know I've already posted pics of this Penelope Skirt (short version) in HandMaiden Ottawa, but I don't think I've shown you it all blocked and neatly hanging on display. So here 'tis, one last time.

2. My first Christmas stocking! It's made in Irish Aran wool and is the Star Brocade pattern in the "Knit Christmas Stockings" book, which has designs I liked so much I bought it plus some wool to make stockings for us, so we can get rid of the tacky red felt jobs with the white fuzz at the cuff. Some years ago, I thought it would be cool to write our names in gold glitter on the white fuzz. Well, now it just looks like doo-doo.

3. Another EZ Baby Surprise Jacket, this one made in Fleece Artist Bluefaced Leicester DK, about a 9-12 mo. size. The yarn is so soft and sproingy--a total treat to knit with. Note the hanger it's on, with the adorable mousie. Presentation is everything!

I'm close to finishing a couple of personal projects of the smaller variety--a pair of socks that I began in September!, jeez I'm slow, and a scarf that was supposed to be my erstwhile bro's Xmas gift. (He liked his gift from Ikea, however.) And Jason's sweater is humming along--the sleeves are now joined to the body and I'm doing the raglan decreases. Since it's a henley neck, I am going to have to make a placket, which calls for--eek! my first steek! I'll keep you posted on that.

Maybe what my dachshund has isn't ordinary dandruff.

I finally got Jimmy to hold still long enough for a decent pic, and it was taken Christmas Day when we had snow flurries, which didn't stick, of course. And the 3 to 7 inches we were supposed to get on the valley floor today? Pfft. Never happened. But that's ok, because as the cliche goes, "you don't have to shovel rain."

Here's hoping you all are keeping warm and dry! I'll post again before the New Year if I have something blogworthy. If not, I'll save my resolutions for next post.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Merry Christmas from my mom's house and our house to yours

Top photo: My mother's tastefully decorated, artificial tree which went up the day after Thanksgiving, complete with packages for all of us (me, Jason, Michelle, my brother and his wife) perfectly wrapped and sporting big sexy bows. Mom does this every year--we all take turns opening, then she serves desserts. She does all her Christmas baking in November and freezes everything, and starts asking for everyone's Christmas lists in October. She is the queen of planning ahead in all things.

Bottom photo: The Noble fir in our living room, put up by Jason and decorated by Michelle. Kitten-proofing kind of fell by the wayside, so almost a half dozen ornaments got strafed by Hannibal. (I'm going shopping this week for the shatterproof ornaments.) Most of the gifts under the tree were hastily wrapped/packaged by me late last night, and arranged using the tried-and-true "yeah, whatever" method.

It took me a lot of years and much self-castigation before I could understand that every family can have only one perfect person. In our family, that role went to my mom. I love her dearly and appreciate her more than ever; tonight, when she was slicing cake, I saw her hands tremble. I know that in the years to come, Mom won't be able to give us the kind of Christmas she takes pride in doing, and although that is a sad thought, I also know that Christmas happens whether we're artful or casual about it. It's also a matter of priorities--I'm too wrapped up in my chosen art form to care too much how my house looks. Actually I'm a lot happier when I don't notice! Seriously, what matters to me about this holiday and my loved ones is that I do what I am able to do for them, and I did what I could. Pulled it out of my *ahem* at the eleventh hour, as usual. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Prize Patrol

This neato package came USPS Priority today.

I won a blog contest at The Write to Knit. Thank you, dear Erika! The book is fantastic. Friends, if you haven't seen it, it's well worth checking out. Even if you don't do much felting or aren't into it, trust me, this book will make you rethink the whole felting thing. There is so much more to it than tote bags in stockinette or garter stitch!

And now the effects of the coffee I had with dessert are beginning to wear off...it's time for me to climb into bed. In about eight hours, I'll be wrangling a turkey.

Love, Joy and Peace

from Chickenlips

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Down to earth

A sincere "Thank you" and heartfelt "Arigato Gozaimasu!" to each and every one of you who left kind and congratulatory comments about my quantum leap from obscure putterer to A-list, Lime & Violet-worthy designer! I would also like to express my deep appreciation to both people who purchased the Cagney & Lacey Shawl pattern. Sighing mildly over the fact that even the high visibility of my first published design hasn't boosted pattern sales, I told my daughter "Rome wasn't built in a day."

To which my precious darling replied, "And you would know, Mom, you were there when they built it."

Ah, motherhood.

Even The International Jet Set Has To Bake For Christmas

This afternoon, I decided to whip up a batch of cream cheese brownies.

Yep, I actually layered the brownie batter and cream cheese batter. Here it is in all its chocolatey glory, out of the oven with a swath of glaze over the top.

This late in the evening, if I cut it into squares now, all bets would be off. So that puppy went into the fridge, and there it will stay for the next couple of days.

I am no longer an IKEA virgin

About lunchtime today, after seeing the doc, (yet another of a series of med checks--fascinating stuff. Stay tuned for next month's colonoscopy, complete with snapshots! I'm just playing about the snapshots) I drove to Ikea in half-crappy weather. I wanted the whole experience, so first I went to the cafe and had the Swedish meatballs. Delicious, with the lingonberry sauce and all. Then I wandered through the marketplace in search of gifts for my illustrious brother and sister-in-law. One of her gift suggestions for him was "a really nice pan you can flambe in." I've never flambe'd a goshdarned thing in my life, and I believe there's a city ordinance against it where I live, so I bought him a stainless steel saute pan. Very nice and in my price range. If it doesn't fit the bill, he can take it back, no problem. For her, a red glass vase specially designed for a spray of orchids. And for both of them, a square wall mirror with black wrought-iron trim. I even bought a couple of handy-dandy kitchen things for us, and got out of there less than $100 lighter. Now that's shopping. Wily folk, the Swedish.

And The Chickenlips Rant Of The Week

I'm a knitter, so natch, I'm all about the details. We detail-oriented people share a peculiarity, IMHO: you never know what's going to set us off. Just look at the Ravelry groups and discussion boards. There is so much on Rav and every time I get on it and explore, I find something new. Discussions can go on and on and become quite heated over what seems like minutiae when compared with, say, climate change slowing down the planet's rotation. I'm not saying that any of it is irrelevant if someone cares about it. It's just that I've noticed something about the nature of group formation on Ravelry, and I'm not sure I like it. Ravelry was founded because of a love for fiber art. It has brought something like 40,000 into one large online community, and amazing connections are being made every day. My shawl design would not be where it is, for knitbloggers with large readerships to happen upon and mention, had it not been for Ravelry. And if you like something else besides knitting, crochet, spinning or dyeing (those seem like the fiber arts most Ravelers are into,) I'll bet you dollars to donuts there is a Ravelry group you can join. I myself founded the Rush Fans Who Knit group, and at the time I thought I'd be the only one. We have 28 members, rock on! But wait, don't fall asleep yet, I have a point and it's this: I'm seeing more and more groups based on hate of something. There are the kid haters, who are unapologetically graphic about their contempt for children and those who choose to have them. Tonight I found the "Anybody but Hillary" group. Hey that's fine, I'm a liberal and I know that were the founder of that group and I ever to meet, we'd run out of topics for polite chitchat in less than 30 seconds. I guess it just strikes a chord within, that all these people have converged because they love something, and now quite a few are breaking into smaller groups based on hating something. I am no Pollyanna, please don't misconstrue--I could sink into neverending despair if I dwelled on, say, the disenfranchisement of American youth, or the disappearance of possibility for my retirement, for more than two and a half minutes. It's just that I choose to keep my focus on the positive, and I would rather see positive feelings about a TV show, family status, or politician, be the cement for groups of Ravelers rather than allowing acrimony to be the cohesive factor.

Oops, skank that I am, I did it again. I yammered on way past midnight, and probably ceased to make sense about three paragraphs ago. If you're reading this, thank you, fellow traveler!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Holy poop on a stick.

If you're a South Park fan, you'll recognize the line as uttered in astonishment by Mr. Garrison in the inimitable drawl that Trey Parker gave him. I have news to share that has made me barely coherent. I found out this morning that I received an endorsement from...are you ready?

Lime & Violet!

Scroll down to the Dec. 13 post, and you will see *MY SHAWL PATTERN* pictured and linky-linked as a last minute gift suggestion! OMFG, I'm so stoked I can't stand it! There just aren't enough exclamation points in the world to put across how that made me feel. Like I'd been canonized, or shot out of a cannon, something like that. Anyway, if the mention makes more folks buy the pattern, that'll be marvy--I'm just mainly ecstatic at having my "15 minutes".

In An Effort To Land My Plane

Let me show you the latest from the dyepot.

Here are 2 ounces--about 100 yards--of handspun, undyed Tussah silk that I scored at Black Sheep Gathering last summer. It had been sitting in my stash, when inspiration struck last week. I call the colorway "Parisienne" and it perfectly suits my boss's mom, so I am giving it to her.

And the sock yarn: "Tom Sawyer" (top) and "Xanadu" (bottom).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


What's that penguin doing on top of the telly?


A FO Christmas gift, perhaps the goofiest thing I've ever made...but above all, homage to a great Monty Python sketch. Ready, everybody? Say it with me...




This will be a brief post, as I have sock yarn and a couple ounces of raw silk soaking in preparation for today's dyeing. Have had to scale back my Christmas knitting, as I'll be lucky to finish a scarf and a pair of Fetchings by the 24th, Jason's sweater is (alas) nowhere near where it should be, and forget the gray pashmina-style shawl I'd planned to make for my sis-in-law, who likes her accessories in "black, gray and neutrals". She's getting a gift card. To be completely honest, if I were going to make a fine-gauge wrap, I'd make it in a divine color, such as magenta or lapis. I'd bought 6 balls of Frog Tree Alpaca Sport in gray...but it's going back to the yarn shop.

Hope you aren't experiencing holiday stress. Me, I've decided I'm just not gonna play this year. Oh, I'm getting gifts for the family, but my side of the family (mom and bro) are huge on giving fancy gifts. Aside from having neither the funds nor the time, I just don't feel up for that anymore! Went to a department store last night and made somewhat of a dent in the shopping...I have to go to the mall tomorrow for one stinkin' gift; my mother asked me to get her Clinique moisturizer. At least it's one store; in and out.

Have a great rest of the week, my friends!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Pattern for sale!

My knitting has never looked so good! I can only credit the photographic, design, and pattern writing/presentation skills of Lee at Yarnoverlounge.com for this beautiful picture. This design, officially titled the "Cagney & Lacey Shawl", is available for download at Yarnoverlounge under "Patterns for Sale". If you visit the site, do check out Lee's designs, as she created the gorgeous skirt in this photo and other flowing, feminine items.

The Ideas Won't Stop

I'm finding, as Lee told me I would, that designing is addicting--and it sure helps to be working in a yarn shop. I know, another addiction, just what I need! Ah well. I gave up most of the really destructive addictions some time ago, so this isn't so bad. Anyway, I submitted a lace scarf design to ShibuiKnits a couple of weeks ago, and while I know it takes time to hear back from them yay or nay, I'm totally antsy about it. I'm knitting a sample of my design in a different yarn, so if they reject it, I'll be able to move right along and market it elsewhere. That's the nature of addiction: it makes you do stuff like plug along on your design instead of tend to your Christmas knitting, which is piling up and it's minutes away from December 10th, yikes!

The 10th of December also happens to be the birthday of someone special.

The gentleman on the right: my dad. Happy 76th! The man has loved the Boston Red Sox ever since he was a child. So when they won the World Series in 2004 after 86 years, and then again in 2007, I celebrated most of all for Dad, for how happy he was to see it.

This photo is circa 1978, shortly after our family moved to the Portland area from the North Shore of Boston. Check out the hair on my teenage bro! Yeah, I'm going to see him Christmas Eve. I'm not gonna let a minor thing like hating him keep me away from the family gathering.

Gotta update some links on me blog template, and also monkey with my burgeoning website--so I guess that's enough outta me for tonight. Thanks all, for enduring yet another shawl pic! The last one I'll post, now that it's published. It was important to do something to celebrate, so Michelle and I went out for dessert.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Tidy enough to invite you in


Before I turbo-cleaned and organized all afternoon, my hutch was so sloppy and bulging with yarn that it was downright shameful. It depressed me every time I looked at it. So, what with staring down the barrels of Christmas and cash flow tighter than Scrooge's *ahem*, I decided today was the day to start making this domicile look like it's been pristine all year long, just waiting to move a futon here and bookshelf there and voila, it's ready to have the tree and decorations placed in it!

What you're looking at is my crafting center/home office. Ignore the debris on the floor, as that's all going to be moved. Where to, I have no clue as yet, but I've done all the thinking I can do for one day. Because I have such a rich fantasy life, I still imagine that one day, Christmas will not be something I stare down the barrels of and feel pressure about, but rather something I look forward to, welcome and enjoy. That will happen, I imagine, right about the time monkeys come flying out of my butt.

Hey, where'd my yarn go?

I went to Office Max today and bought some boxes and storage containers. This is about 92% of the total yarn I own, the rest is in various and sundry project bags. Now that doesn't look like "too much yarn," does it? Shoot, no! And the larger USPS Priority box on the left has all my undyed yarn in it, which continues to sell pretty well.
Blogging about housecleaning? Well, it is a rarity around here. At least I gave you something besides my handpainted yarn to look at!
Handknit Gift Musings
I recently learned from Yarnhog's blog about the no-handknit-gift movement this holiday season. I like the idea, but I don't think this is the year I will do that. For me, this is the nearly all-handknit-gift holiday season! I'm working on a shawl-collar sweater for Jason that's knit completely in the round, so no stress there. Some Fetchings for my sis-in-law. And a beeg surprise for Michelle, who gave me her 20-plus-item Christmas list a couple of days ago. In a flight of silliness, she wrote down "a penguin," so she's getting this.
For God's Sake, Don't Go To The Mall
I firmly believe that one can find quite a bit of what's wrong with America at the local shopping mall. Case in point: Jason and I were shopping for Michelle at the Mac cosmetic counter in Nordstrom the other night, and we saw two little girls who looked to be about eight or so, having makeovers! The mom came to pick them up just as we were paying for some (overpriced) lipstick. Should I not have been disturbed by this? Have I crossed that invisible line and turned into an old fusspot? It's just that I see an alarming trend of encouraging young girls to look older than they are, and it kind of gets too close to that dangerous territory of sexualizing children. I mean, it's one thing for that mom to let those little girls try on some lipstick, but quite another to turn them into little Jon-Benet's. OK, I'm getting off the soapbox now.
Another thing I saw at the mall which made me crotchety (truthfully, it doesn't take much) was cheesy, tacky decorations! In not one but two store windows, I saw Christmas trees decked out with--hang onto your merino--fake yarn balls. Yup, they looked like exactly what they were: icky styrofoam balls wrapped with ackrylic, then probably sprayed with Aquanet or something so they "glistened". Even though I know I've just outed myself as a yarn snob, I just saw that and went "bleah".
Yes, from here until Christmas, if the gifts I give don't come from my needles, they'll be bought online, as I don't think I can hack another trip to the mall!

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