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Knitting in the Shadows
Tuesday, 2 May 2006
Secret Pal Stuff -- Updated
I've got a secret pal!! (insert happy dance here)

I've got ANOTHER secret Pal!

This means that I get to spoil someone mercilessly for awhile -- but it also means that someone gets to spoil me. That means that I'm supposed to answer this mind-boggling array of questions, right here, in public for all y'all to see.

If you're not interested in learning more details about me... quit now. Else, who knows, you might be surprised.

I've decided to just add the new questions, and their answers, from Secret Pal 8's questionnaire to the questionnaire I filled out for Secret Pal 7. Where the answer has changed, of course, I've updated.

Last Updated 5/2/06

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I'm a mini-snob. I do snub ack-rylic with some vigor, but have been known to happily use Lion Brand for some things. Admittedly -- not lately.

I do prefer high quality yarns. And I rarely knit with more than 50% unnatural fibers.

I love merino, alpaca, alpaca/silk blends (which I still think are sinfully delicious), cashmere, ... generally natural fibers
I also enjoy soy silk..
I like cotton as long as it's DK or finer.

I have met a few 100% ack-rylic's that were okay, but generally I don't like them.

I like to look at mohair from across the room.... but I can't knit with it or wear it.... it makes me sneeze and itch.

I also like Koigu (but who doesn't, and besides I recently spoiled myself with some), and am suffering serious lust after Socks that Rock in Fire on the Mountain, Queen Rock or Ruby Slippers.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

Well, I have done both. I even own 2 lonely lonely wheels, and a bin of spinning fiber that's locked away for now.

I once crocheted a lot -- but now I'm pretty much a knitter.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Two three ring binders that zip closed filled with clear plastic "pencil case" sleeves. -- One has dps and one has circs. I do not use straights.

This isn't perfect, but it's nearing the best I can expect.

The hooks are in one pencil case tube-like thing.

I'm not as happy with this as I once was, and am toying with finding another solution.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Short answer: I learned at 11, but didn't really knit much until about 10 years ago, when I became obsessed. I'm at least advanced intermediate -- since I can teach at that level -- but there's always more to learn!

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Oh yeah! Just in case anyone else feels overy generous, here's a link to My Wish List (snicker)

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

Only one???
I'm a partylite nut, and buy 2/3 of the scents at every event. My favorite (now long "retired" scent is Starry Nights).
Generally, I prefer spicy, herbal or woodsy scents to sweet or flowery, but I do like lily and jasmine.
The only food scent I like that's not FOOD is coffee (or chocolate). I do like frangipani, patchouli and sandalwood, but only in light doses.
I also like lavender, but am a bit overwhelmed with that lately.

As for scents on the air -- new leather, FRESH coffee, stargazer lilies...

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

OH YEAH. Rich Dark Chocolate. (not milk, that mamby pamby excuse, and definitely not white -- which isn't chocolate at all IMO).

Otherwise, those clove flavored stick candies you once found in odd places, but which seem to have disappeared...

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

Currently -- none. I've spun, but don't now. My last secret pal sent me some roving and a drop spindle. It's still torturing me here on the desk...
I used to sew, quilt, and cross stitch. I don't anymore. I'm pretty focused on knitting these days.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Yes, and Yes.
Oh, wait, that's not helpful..

Classical -- more Romantic and Baroque than other eras. I like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Rimsky Korsakov, but not so much Stravinsky (save the Firebird, which is lovely).
Country (and Western)
Celtic music!
New Age (some, not all)
Rock -- particularly of the 70s and 80s -- but NOT headbanging or grunge type. Soft rock but NOT "Easy Listening" ..
Show Tunes
Big Band Jazz -- and Gershwin, and Cole Porter,
and Swing
Not so much with opera...

I do not like metal, rap, or anything harsh or atonal.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I'm primarily attuned to purples these days. Rich ones. Plums even. I'm a "Winter" and I gravitate towards rich jewel tones and am especially partial to plums and other purples, though a deep midnight blue will get me every time. I also love rich teals, and blood reds. I also like some paler colors, lavender, pink... but not mint green.

I look dreadful (like died last week) in things like yellow, orange and lime, and thus tend to flee from them unless they're the wee-est of accents. I don't work well with ivory, beige, or taupe either.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married, 2 kids (8 & 10), 1 step-kid, 2 cats, 1 dog, and some Koi and goldfish out in the pond..

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear shawls, and mittens. I wasn't sure about ponchos until Elizabeth gifted me with that lovely one from Spain -- now I know -- yes, I do ponchos!
I almost never wear scarves. As for hats, I love them, but never wear them as the smash my hair and make it look dirty. I'd LOVE a head covering that was warm but didn't do that!
I find that despite good intentions, I rarely wear scarves.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Currently? This scrumptious Alpaca Silk blend that I just finished a shawl in. I'm definitely making something for me out of THAT!

Also, koigu (like it's NOT on anyone's list??)

I'll ponder this some more..

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Mohair! makes me itch, sneeze, etc. ICK

I'm also not so fond of Icelandic or Shetland wools, as they seem itchy to me as well. I'm a sucker for soft.

We've already discussed cheap ack-rylic. That isn't to say that I've not knit with and loved some of the better acrylics...

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Swatching for Rogue (the eternal quest for the perfect yarn); swatching for the Thistle Coat...

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Either quick things that allow a feeling of accomplishment swiftly, or complex things that let me think and work over time to have a BIG Feeling Of Accomplishment at the end...

17. What are you knitting right now?

Actively knitting: A shawl, adapted from a scarf, for my SIL, in a yummy cashmere blend. (lace)

and a lacy shawl in Cashmere cobweb weight to which I'm adding beads.

I'm plotting to cast on for the Thistle Coat (fair isle/stranding), another pair of socks, and the Shadow Shawl.

Theoretically, I'm still swatching for Rogue and that "Riding Coat" from Loop D Loop (one of only 2 worthy designs therein) which I'd never buy, but got from the library. (both cables)

And equally theoretically, I'm knitting the Pre-Columbian Shawl (Intarsia)

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

sometimes... well made ones that actually have a place in my life? Definitely. Sunbonnet sue types that only clutter things up ... not so much.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Circular! Always! Straights hurt my wrists.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Yep. Depends on the task at hand.
Also birch

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


22. How did you learn to knit?

Initially from very dear step-dad's very dear mom. Then books, and finally, TKGA conventions...then Stitches... and always, more books

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

years. We're not discussing that here

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

er.. Tinkerbell, and maybe Stitch? Unicorns? Dragons! also Wolves and large cats

25. What is your favorite holiday?

Not sure

26. Is there anything that you collect?

books? Yarn??

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Vogue Knitting, Interweave (I have all of them), Knitters (I have them ALL), the thing Knitting Digest turned into. Cast On (though the last one had a candidate for You Knit What? on practially every page...)

I don't subscribe to Knit N Style. Ew. and though I have a subscription to INKnitters, I won't be renewing

I've occasionally contemplated getting Rebecca, but have never gotten around to doing anything about it (including buying one in a store).

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

Um, I've pretty much listed the books on Amazon.
I've been coveting Lantern Moon dps
and I'd really like to have more Crystal Palace dps and circs...

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Better Blocking techniques - especially for shawls

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes Measurements to follow
Cuff, circumference at top 11"
circumference at ankle 9"
Heel to big toe 9"
Heel to baby toe 7"
(wedge shaped... almost flat across 1st three toes)
Circumference at instep 12"

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
October 20

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 12:01 AM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006 9:31 PM CDT
Sunday, 5 February 2006
Changing Trains
I've decided to take a stab at a new host...
For the latest post, please go to
Knitting in the Shadows now showing at typepad....

I'm on a 30 day test run there, but so far, things are workign out well.

I may even be able to figure out how to use buttons there (having failed miserably HERE).

See you at type pad!

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 4:14 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 30 January 2006
Of Cats and Hats and Lack of Space
I was swatching here and there between rounds of Shedir, and put a ball of yarn in my chair so that when I returned to it, it would be next up to check for Rogue-worthiness.

When I returned I found this:

Gabriel clearly likes this ball of yarn. I don't blame him. I like it too. However, I'd like it much better if I were allowed to swatch with it. I may have said something about that ...

Even in his sleep, he evidently wanted to exert more control over the yarn. I puttered a bit, and returned to find him clearly staking his claim:

Eventually, I was able to get my hands on the yarn .. it's not Rogue-worthy at all.


On a brighter note..

Shedir is finished, thanks to a bit of left-over alpaca from my mother's wristlets. Here it is soaking, preparing for its dye bath:

Here it is again, resting in the sink. Note the pale green center... I needed a mere three yards to finish it ...

A side view, of a still wet hat:

I prepared a dye bath with what started as 2/3 water 1/3 vinegar, and a packet of ice blue raspberry lemonade flavored Koolade. It took a bit more water to cover the hat, but there was still plenty of blue:

Or so I thought. After it simmered for half an hour, it became clear that this did not do the trick; that green spot was still green. So I added a packet of another blue flavor (I forgot), that was darker blue. This one I poured directly onto that center spot, and then slowly swirled the water in a circle. I added a splash more vinegar while I was at it, and left the pot to simmer for another half hour or so...

You will note the clear absence of pale green in the center of the hat. (Also the absence of any blue in that water...) I shut of the stove, and let it all cool while we went for a walk.

On our return, the hat was cool enough to handle, so I gently squeezed out the excess water, then rolled it in a towel, and set in on "The Head" to dry

Over all, it's clearly blue-er...

but the variegation still shows. This pleases C. She wasn't at all sure she liked the dyeing idea.

As you would have been able to see, had I not just run out of disk space at Tripod,the center is still clearly different, but at least now it looks like we meant it that way.

Tomorrow will be the ultimate test -- it goes on a kid's head, and almost certainly gets worn, not merely to school, but all day in school.

Meanwhile, I have to consider whether my year's tenure here is long enough -- should I move to somewhere that will let me actually put buttons on the sidebars? or pay for "upgraded" service here (and agree to their insane $10.00 "set up fee" for upgrading my already existing service by adding a mere 5 megs of space?) Comments and recommendations strongly encouraged.

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 12:01 AM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006 8:50 AM CST
Sunday, 29 January 2006

Today was a good day.

I started by taking a lovely walk with DH, then having a lovely cup of coffee with him while reading the funnies.

Then, I drug my dear friend Elizabeth to knit a the LYS.(E reads this (HI THERE) and other blogs, but remains both ignorant (until yesterday) about You Knit What and also blogless -- I will harass her about the latter, here, in public, until she succumbs) Anyway, once at the LYS, she graciously photographed me in this:

See the marvelous purple poncho? Elizabeth brought it back for me me me from Spain. Note, she was travelling with children and still managed to find this poncho in a perfect me color, and bring it back to me. Isn't it yummy? You should feel it. It's scrumptiously soft. (and it's mine... mine mine).

I'm still not sure how all these other knitters were able to resist it... but they were pretty focused on their own knitting (or each others' -- is, as usual, solving problems for fellow knitters)

So... anyway, while there, I finished the first of the Jaywalker socks! i finished the second later that afternoon.

Elizabeth was wondering how I got my gussets to look the way they do:

Her's have a clear line along the gusset decreases. Mine don't because I used the double decreases in the pattern -- and simply neglected one of the corresponding increases in the gusset area. I must confess, that once I got to the heel, I sort of lost track of the official pattern, so I may have been patterning on a greater percentage of the sock than the designer planned.....

Elizabeth also asked about the heel:

She's urged me to write this up... and I'll be consulting with the mahvelous Ms Grumperina about where she wants me to put the modification information -- after all, it IS her sock!

I'm progressing nicely on the Shedir, but I'm clearly looking at yarn shortage. I have so little doubt that I'm going to run out that I may have to just... quit. I've already cut down the pattern repeats... but I don't think I've enough left for the decrease section. I may put it on a big enough needle today to let Miss C try it on. She is, after all, a kid. Maybe I can make it still shallower.... thus having to frog only about 8 rounds instead of the whole stupid hat...

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 5:45 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 27 January 2006
One Singular Sensation ...
Now Playing: Rhapsody in Blue
I'm telling you .. Wow.

We're back in the "How many times can Helen go to Krannert in one month" season, and I just spent an evening listening to more music. What's so special about that? Well...

I knit not one stitch all evening!

How could this happen you say??

It started with dinner at a local tapas place with a dear friend (she's the nice prosecutor in our county -- at least, she's nice to those of us on the "right" side of the law). The food was fantastic, the conversation lively, and the company delightful. I'll bore you with that another time.

After dinner we headed over to the performing arts center, where we found all the parking lots full. Full I tell you! We had to park in the nearby museum parking lot. That left us very little time to get into the building, order our intermission drinks (gotta like a place that has your drink waiting at intermission) and go to the rest room before "curtain time."

We then settled in at 10th row, barely off-center, to see and hear Marvin Hamlisch conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (who, by the way, has as its patron HRH the Duke of York -- how fun is that?) in an evening of George Gershwin. It started with a delightful medley from "Porgy and Bess" and rounded out the first half with an amazing young pianist, Viv Mclean, playing Rhapsody in Blue (you can hear a wee snippet of it in audio sample 4). He was amazing. He took a well known piece and really inspired you to listen to it again. It was incredible. (I could go on for ages with more superlatives -- and that might come up to the reality... maybe).

After a twenty minute intermission, during which we ran into half of the judges in the county and any number of movers and shakers in the community, (I'm still working on how we got in) the packed house refilled for more Gershwin songs, a few delightful stories about Gershwin as told to Mr. Hamlisch by Groucho Marx, of all people, and an exceptional performance of An American in Paris.

Already, I was at WOW.

The music was so consistently wonderful that pulling out my knitting wasn't even at the back of my mind, much less near enough to the front to do anything about it.

But that wasn't the end of our evening...

Oh no...

We'd paid the bonus price to allow us to attend an after concert Champagne Reception. Once again, the food (caviar no less) was delightful, the wine was good, and the conversation lively. But the entertainment... Marvin played for us! We were milling about on one of the stages, and he sat at the piano on that same stage with us, and played a medley of his mother's favorite composer's music (Richard Rogers), followed by a medley of his own tunes .. including a fine selection from A Chorus Line


Meanwhile, a note on the knitting front, I'm joining

for the Knitting g Olympics. Here is why I think I qualify -- there are ten criteria, of which the Team Wales captain says one need meet only one:

1. You were born in Wales. -- I was, alas, NOT born in Wales

2. You reside in Wales -- nor do I live in Wales. Yet... Give me a way to make a fairly decent income there, and I might just move my family across the pond. I might even ask them about it first.

3. You are of Welsh ancestry. (Surname of Davies, Evans, Morgan, Jones, etc.) ... Ding! I believe this is true. Family name of Whatley though... But I'm fairly sure that if we go back far enough, there're Welsh folk there

4. You have great a fondness for sheep OR daffodils OR leeks.... I'm inordinately fond of sheep, despite having met only two. My grandfather gave me a stuffed lamb the day I was born, ... I still have the sorry thing, but it now has many friends including a magnificent stuffed ram.

I also love daffodils. I'm not big on leeks generally, but leek soup can be quite nice.

5. You think Wales has a really cool flag..... I don't think it. I KNOW it. I love that flag!

6. You cry every time you hear a Male Voice Choir singing Bread of Heaven OR while watching How Green Was My Valley. ... well.. er, um... I must confess, I've mumblenever seen How Green Was My Valley

7. You have attempted to sing the Welsh National Anthem, and you weren't drunk at the time. er, mumble againI've never even heard it

8. You have actually been to Wales.... DING .. I have indeed. Sadly, it was nigh onto 20 years ago. I'm still in awe of some of the craftsmanship in Cardiff Castle (and pissed that they neither let me take pictures nor had a decent book to buy).

9. You have always wanted to visit Wales.... I've long wanted to go back, does that count?

10. You know where Wales is... yes again...

here's the really twisted part... I really want to LEARN to SPEAK Welsh... I've even bought a book and CD to do so. I can pronounce the "ll" properly.

I now need someone wise in the ways of tripod to help me get my buttons on the sidebars... They REFUSE to cooperate with me.

Tomorrow: toes get finished on the Jaywalkers!

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 9:46 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006 10:33 PM CST

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