Crafty as a Serpent

A knit blog with recipes and theological musings interspersed.

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Location: Portland, Maine, United States

Abby d'Ambruoso is a Lutheran pastor and interfaith chaplain, currently serving in a variety of ministries in Portland, Maine.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New knitting books

My birthday is in the beginning of April. And yet, it is the holiday that just keeps on giving.
This week I received a package from my mother-in-law, via Amazon. It contained 2 books- Vogue Knitting and Knitting Rules! by the Yarn Harlot. Now, I have long coveted Vogue Knitting- simply because I needed some basics all in one place. Plus it as a bunch of ways to do things- like 7 different ways to cast on. And it's all clear. I'm pretty excited. I've already been learning things.

The second book was the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules!. I read it a while ago, but had borrowed someone else's copy through bookcrossing. It's pretty funny, but it also has lots of good tips for knitting, such as ratios for hats, socks, etc. so you can make up your own patterns.

In Finished Objects News, I have cast on and cast off a pair of beautiful socks. Last week, I stopped into my LYS to replace a dpn that had broken. When I left, I was carrying 2 skeins of credenza (I think that's what it's called). It was gorgeous. 100% merino, in stunning colors. I cast on on a Wednesday. I was done with the socks on Sunday. I know that seems slow to most of you, but for me, that's great. I don't usually have that much time to knit.

I'm also a sock and a half into my first item for Dulaan. Hats next? I'm not sure.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chicago Sox

Today is the infamous April 15th. It may be a Sunday, so we all get an extra day to get our taxes in, but I will point out that it is mid-April. And this morning I woke up to snow on the ground. Real snow had accumulated. It wasn't enough that it covered the grass completely, but it was still there. I'm so tired of this season of winter. I'm ready for Spring!

Friday morning, Will and I got up early and drove to Chicago. We always have a great time on road trips together, and this was no exception. We travel extremely well together. After our trip, I always come away from the experience feeling grateful for my partner and for our marriage.

We went to Chicago so Will could attend a political science conference. But I went along so we could both have fun with our friends Alex and Karen. They are getting married in mid October. We're pretty excited for that.

They live right in the thick of things in downtown, so we had a lovely time. While Alex worked and Will went to the conference, Karen and I walked to find yarn stores.

Karen was not a knitter before this weekend, so we googled yarn stores. First we walked to the Chicago Fabric, Yarn, and Button Company on Monroe. It was not even worth the time, in my opinion. It was one of those old shops that has crammed far more merchandise into a tiny display than can be good for selection or organization.

We then proceeded to Loopy Yarns on 719 S State Street. It was wonderful. There was a great selection of sock yarns, which is what I was looking for to begin with, including Fleece Artist, Austermann Step, Tofutsies, Anne Schaefer, and a bunch more. I found alpaca fingering weight for 6.20 per skein, and 2 skeins to make a pair of socks. I bought 4 skeins, and I can't wait for the luxurious results. (Alpaca socks!!)

While we were at Loopy Yarns, I persuaded Karen that this was a good opportunity to learn to knit. I was in town, and she has this beautiful yarn store within walking distance, and she is new to the area, so she needs new friends. So she got some Lamb's Pride worsted weight, some Addi Turbos (another bonus of the shop, the Addis are about half the price than at my shop), and a simple hat pattern.

In Chicago, I knit consistently on Will's blue socks (which are self striping). I bought the yarn, which I believe to be cotton, at Skein Lane in El Cerrito, CA, sadly out of business now. They closed so the owner could have more freedom to travel and teach classes. The socks are now done, and Will is very pleased with the result. So am I. They are almost perfectly matched in the self-striping. I had thought to do fraternal twins, but I had to rip out almost 7 inches of knitting because I couldn't stand it.

Now we're home. I'm making lamb chops for dinner tonight and doing laundry. I'm trying to convince myself to knit on the afghan instead of reading a book or casting on for my alpaca socks. I also need to sew up some curtains for the bedroom. Now that Will is working the 3rd shift, he'd like less light in there in the morning.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cabin Cove Knitalong update (and confession)

A while back I signed up for the "Shut up and knit your cabin cove". It refers to the beautiful yarn of Cabin Cove Mercantile. If you have not yet knit with this yarn, you are in for a treat. April of the Weaving Inn gave me some (I won a contest on her blog. I love April.) It is luscious yarn. It is silk and merino and a creamy color. I love it. And I was saving it for a long time because, well, you know, it was fun to pet it now and again.

But I know it will be even better as socks.

The thing is that I chose an easy lace pattern for socks (from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, which I love also). It is the Child's First Sock, which has been adjusted for adult feet. But I wasn't sure if I would have enough. So I knit the first sock according to the pattern so I would be sure to have enough yarn.

I began on the second sock and knit all the way to the toe. It is now clear that there is plenty of yarn for both socks to be knit to my feet size, but I had already cast off the first sock. So I thought, "Well, no need to be greedy. Just give these to your sister (who is pregnant and deserves happy and pampered feet). You can always get more yarn." I even tried to tell myself that the color is not quite right for me. It goes with hardly anything in my closet anyway, right.

But I just can't bear to part with these socks. The yarn is so soft, and I'm so attached to it.

And so when I got to the toe of the second sock, I knit it to be my size. Sadly, something was going wrong at the toe. I would have weird numbers of stitches. I ripped back and knit- different number of stitches. Twice I did this. And then...

The last week of March, I was going on a week-long trip to California. I decided not to bring the socks (even though I would be seeing afore-mentioned sister) but to let them sit on the yarn bureau to think about what they had done.

Then I got home, having begun another pair of socks (for Will), which I'm now on the second sock for. It was Holy Week and the Yarn Harlot came to Ann Arbor, and I was busy. But now I'm starting to wonder- should the Cabin Cove socks be for me, or my sister?

You decide- leave me a comment, and I'll tally them up.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week is over! Halle-halle-lujah! (sung to the tune of neener-neener-neener)

Oh, this week has been so long.
I'm so glad it's Easter.
That bears repeating. I'm so glad it's Easter.
Not only did Christ conquer death (good news!), but I'm done preaching and leading daily services for the next week or so.
I swear, the Easter sermon was a bit late in coming. "How late?" you might ask. Well, try 2:30am on Easter Sunday. Here's the tale:
Usually, my most effective sermon writing technique is to sleep. Now, this might surprise you, but my best stuff usually comes after I've done my studying up on the history, literary context, language tidbits, yadayadayada... And then I don't think about it at all. I go knit, I go bake, I cook, I go to the gym, whatever. And then I sleep. And when I wake up, something beautiful streams forth from my mind. Usually it is a sermon complete.
Now, I praught (if the past tense of "teach" is taught, why isn't the past tense of "preach", praught?) on Maundy Thursday. And that was fine. My brain is okay with one sermon per week. It percolates around that schedule, and if I moved up the days a bit, it was still alright. The problem came in having a second sermon in the week. I couldn't keep two texts like that in my brain. So I let the Easter sermon rest until after Maundy Thursday service.
So Friday came around. I woke up- no sermon. "Okay, that's alright," I thought. "I'll just take a nap." Still no sermon.
" Okay, don't panic,"I thought. There's always all of Saturday.
Saturday was also the day of the Easter Vigil, in which I sang the 4 page long Easter proclamation. That was fairly difficult for me as I kind of choke when I perform in public (probably one of the surest signs that I am truly an introvert). So I was pretty nervous about the singing. One thing about the sleep writing technique- it only works when I'm not stressed out. Otherwise I get nightmares instead.
So Saturday night after the Vigil I was exhausted. It had already been a long week, and I knew what was coming in the morning (an 8 am service and then Easter breakfast and then the 10:30 service with sermon- the sermon I didn't have yet).
So I went to bed right away, thinking I would wake up 8 hours later with a beautiful sermon.
Instead I woke up at 2:30am (maybe it was the Holy Spirit? God is known for not having the same timing as the rest of us) with a lovely sermon. I wrote it all down in the dark on the legal pad I keep next to the bed just for these purposes, but had to turn on the light for the final sentences. That was the end of the sleepiness. I was awake until 4am.
All this led to a barely coherent me for the 8am service. Oh, well. At least the sermon turned out fine.
Will and I drove to Indiana for Easter dinner with my ex-stepgrandma grandma and my stepdad. And I worked on the second sock for Will. But I also broke another bamboo dpn. I'm now down to 3 and a half. I think it's time to consider metal? Or perhaps the 2 circ method? I'm just not sure. We shall see. The yarn store is closed on Mondays, so I'll ponder it tomorrow.
Happy Easter, everyone!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Wherein the author of this blog meets the legendary Yarn Harlot

Sunday was Palm Sunday. And it was also the day of the Yarn Harlot's visit to Ann Arbor. Now that was good times!
On Sunday, I had planned that directly after church I would change, grab some lunch, and go. I did invite a parishioner to come with me (she knits during church- a clear sign of a Knitter). She did want to come, so I changed out of the clergy collar, grabbed some lunch, got in the car and found that we were low on gas. I had been out of town for the previous week (visiting friends from seminary and my sister), so I was not on the "Does the car have enough gas" wavelength. Add 10 minutes. We stopped to fuel up, but the pump's credit card swipe thingy was out of order. Add 5 minutes.
Finally we (Judy and myself) got on the road. Judy remembered a shortcut, but because of the bridge constructions, it was closed. Add 5-10 minutes as we circle back and go the long way.
We drive up to Ann Arbor, behind numerous slow vehicles, driven by clearly selfish drivers who only want to drive in the left lane, even though they are only going the speed limit. (Inner dialogue: "What do they think they're doing? The left lane is for speeding. Damn, I'm going to be late seeing the Harlot. I'm going to miss the event. I wonder if I tail them if they'll get the hint and pull over") You should know that I am not usually one to tail someone. This shows the extremity of my anxiety to get to the Harlot's event.
Finally we get to Ann Arbor and find the library, only to realize that the public parking lot is full! We drive around, trying to find parking, get screwed by pedestrians who take their sweet time crossing, one way streets that will not let us get to where we want to go, and a usually functioning entrance to the parking garage that was converted into an exit. We were not thwarted in our mission, however. We arrived at the library at 2:15.

On the way, we saw all these people with pink bags.
Turns out the pink bags were from Busy Hands, the closest LYS in Ann Arbor. We were informed by people with pink bags that the Yarn Harlot had been delayed by 2 hours.
We decided to enter anyway, claim a place, and knit awhile.
It was packed! And no one was leaving. So we sat on the stairs and had an impromptu knitting circle. It was great. The booksellers had free chocolate (God bless them) and we all had yarn. We just sat there, knitting, grateful for the time to work on a sock or two.
Also, because it was April Fools' Day, the library was hosting a Feast of Fools. The kids made hats and then modeled them for us. That was pretty fun, too.
Finally, around 4:30ish, the Yarn Harlot appeared. She was great. It was definitely worth waiting for.
And then she signed everyone's books and even someone's spinning wheel. She took a picture of me because the next day was my birthday. I got to hold the sock!

Afterwards, Judy and I went to Busy Hands and I picked up a sweater's worth of Malabrigo worsted weight. It's purple and beautiful and soft. And it was on sale for a little under $8 per skein.
At the yarn store, we met Nia, who had also come for the event, but she came by herself. The three of us went out to eat at Palio's and had a lovely time.

A beautiful day all around!