Lara’s World

Merry Christmas Simon FO

Blogland, you will love this. I swear to God.

Last summer, I grabbed myself a job doing the lunch shift at a little pizza place. I needed something part time, and I had just read a couple of Terry Saltz mysteries. He was a carpenter who also worked for a pizza place, and I loved the generosity of spirit of both Terry and all who worked there. They were a team, and contributed to the best of their abilities to get the job done. So I figured, why not? On Craigslist one day I found a job posting asking for someone to do the counter and phones, etc. at lunch 5 days a week. I emailed the poster and said I was interested, had some experience, and left my contact info. Simon called my cell and left a voicemail giving me the rough details and also left a phone number to call him. A phone number I could not understand, though I listened probably 6 times. Basically, I had the name “Simon,” the town, and the fact that they made pizza. Nothing else. What did I do? I googled “Simon,” the town, and the word “pizza.” And up came an article that had been written about the shop two years before.

Fast forward to when I’ve been there a couple of weeks. During a quiet moment I decide to mess with Simon a bit and tell him how I couldn’t understand his vm and only found the restaurant because I was psychic. (No connection to any of my earlier posts – I was just playing around). I figured I could at least make him wonder how I found the place. So I tell him I’m psychic, and what does my new boss say? “I know – I read your blog.”

Can you say “I Feel Naked?” He’d read my blog? Apparently, he’d googled me too when I came to work there. Sheesh. I did ultimately explain how I really found his shop. But sheesh. There’s no going back once your boss has read your blog. And it gets better; from time to time he’d mention to my coworkers that I had a really nice blog and that they should check it out. I think I managed to distract them from doing this, but who knows? Maybe they all tune in. I hadn’t updated it for sometime actually, and only started up again recently. So maybe Simon has stopped tuning in himself. I guess we won’t know until he leaves a comment. And he will, if he reads this. Believe you me. For example: one day I laughingly told him to give a customer extra ketchup because the customer was cute. Simon, without batting an eye, turned around and told the customer why he was getting extra ketchup. Yes, this is who I work for, people.

So anyway, fast forwarding again, a couple of weeks before Christmas, a guy with a cute handmade hat walked into the store one day and confessed that yes, his gf had knit the hat for him. Simon thought that was pretty nice, and when I asked him what he’d want if I made him something for Christmas, he picked a scarf. And a color. Do you know how hard it is to find purple yarn that a man could wear? Simon did inform me that he was secure enough in his masculinity to wear any purple yarn that I wanted to use (cough), but after perusing a bit, I found a gor-gee-yous Rowan tweed, Harris Tweed Aran, to be specific, in a color called “Thistle.” It’s a deep, rich violet flecked with purple and red, 100% virgin wool from the hills and dales of Scotland…ahem. I set to work a couple of weeks before Christmas, and gave him the finished product today:

I was a little verklemt to give it up, actually. I’d put in a lot of time and energy, in the best possible sense. You see, I consider Simon a heart friend. He’s generous in a big way, and always seems to try to be the best person he can be. I’m sure he wouldn’t put it that way, but there it is. He’s a thinking man, and likes to debate. (In fact, debating is a HUGE pastime for most who work at this shop.) I’m grateful for him in my life and as my boss, so I put a lot of love into this scarf. Have you ever made a healing shawl?? Well that’s exactly what I did. I created it with the intention and request of the universe that it be a healing scarf, and that it remind Simon that he is loved whenever he wears it. I knit it with the intention that he and his wife and kids experience great peace, happiness, and joy. I find that healing shawls have a lot of power, and you know it when you’ve just placed one around your shoulders. This is what I wanted for the Sime-ster.

Now Simon is also like a big brother to me…which means many good things, and also means that sometimes we drive each other apesh*t. The holiday season was a bit stressful, and as I knit I reminded myself of all the wonderful things he’s done for me, and chose that to focus on, instead of being irritated. Hehheh. It does help,though. Seriously, read up on the Law of Attraction. At the end of the day, anything I could complain about with regard to him, he could make an identical complaint about me. Which is why I didn’t complain when he asked for 1/2 inch fringe on the ends of his scarf. If you promise not to tell him, I will confess to you that the fringe is actually about 1 inch long:

For you knitters, the scarf is about 56 inches long, and about 6 inches wide…unless you stretch it out until it measures about 10 inches wide. Why is one able to do this, you ask? Because it was knit in an aran design called a speckled rib from the Encyclopedia of Knit and Crochet Stitches. If you like what you see, grab an aran weight yarn and cast on 27 stitches with size 8 straights. Knit the speckled rib until the scarf is as long as you want it to be. I have to tell you, knitting with Harris Tweed (I think it’s now produced as Rowan Scottish Tweed) was a super treat. It’s not the kind of yarn I go for for myself…I tend to be the bargain girl, but have broken that habit I hope. It makes sense to buy the best you can afford of what you like the most…a piece will have a whole different energy about it. That’s why I chose this yarn for Simon’s scarf. In addition to the piece, your experience of creating it will have a whole different energy too…higher, more loving, more special, more magical.

Aside from verklemtness, it was also nice to hand it over today. Since Christmas I’ve been having pangs of guilt that it wasn’t done yet. Sheesh. Now, I’d recently made some real progress, so it was well underway. This past weekend I brought my new nephew and his parents up to the shop to introduce them all and buy dinner. I quietly told Simon I was not there for a discount (after he jokingly offered me one if I prepped some of the food), but that I simply wanted to introduce my blood family to my Bravo family, and to get the former some great food for supper. When we went to leave, Simon wouldn’t let me pay him. As in, ignored me (i.e., pretended I wasn’t speaking) when I tried to argue. We went home and feasted, believe you me. My brother had chosen the shop’s famous grilled chicken dinner, and once he managed to steal a few of my (also famous) steak tips, vowed to go back up there whenever he came to visit. Please. My whole family had already had nominated Simon for sainthood for generosity alone. And Simon and my brother got to talk politics and trade jokes about what a pain in the ass I am; I think they may get engaged, to be honest. Regardless, after all this, I said to my mother, “I think I better hurry up and finish this man’s scarf.” And actually, it wasn’t out of guilt at all. I felt a sincere gratitude in my heart, and channeled that energy to finish a purple tweed scarf for a kind friend.

So I finished it, and danged if it didn’t feel pretty good around my neck. But I tied a bow around it and gave it to its intended. Who seemed to like it pretty much.


Quant de Lara
January 12, 2008, 2:58 pm
Filed under: knitting, yarn | Tags: , , , , ,

Yes, you read right. I made a quant. I did entrelac. You can’t stop me! Took me a couple of weeks pre-Christmas, since I was rotating between projects at that time. Wanna’ see? You know you do!

Isn’t it gorgeous?? Yes I did say it. How can I not when Noro is so fun and amazing, colorifically. I used a skein of Noro Kureyon, Color 102. It’s looks like Fire and Ice sunsets, and is very similar to the yarn used by the designer, Star Athena. These colors were so satisfying to knit with, I go for the wild tropical sunsets I guess. Amazing vision bursting colors that exist in nature are heart boggling for me. Here is essentially the same picture with a slightly different angle:

I wear this a lot, esp. to work where I need to keep my hair back, but where ponytails are getting old. This way I give my hair a break (no pun intended), and get to sport some stuff that I hand-made for me. The other day, Charlie, a 6 foot plus burly young truck mechanic comes in to get his ham and American with light mustard only, and says, out of nowhere: “Oh, that’s nice, that head scarf. Did you crochet that yourself?” I was a little surprised (pleasantly!?) but managed to thank him and tell him that yes, I did. I’m gonna try a Marlena next, with a little CE Paintbox. Let’s see if he notices again!? Must have a mom or gramma that crochets? Lookit me, being all sexist. Maybe he’s an accomplished knitter or crocheter himself.

Skills I picked up on this puppy were Picking up stitches (both knitting and purling), and of course, Entrelac. I’m so impressed with myself. Happy yarning y’all.

Another (Pre)Felted Bag
January 12, 2008, 2:08 pm
Filed under: knitting, yarn | Tags: , , , , , ,

I love going to yarn shops, esp. the Fiber Loft in Harvard, MA, and buying up little bags of tiny wool balls, and the odd skein of wool that has no mates. Recently I got a large skein of a bulky navy wool, can’t remember if there was a tag or not. One restless evening soon after I grabbed the book One Skein Wonders, and cast on for the Squashy Bag on page 30. I do not like the name squashy bag by the way. This is a quick one, and I modified it a bit.

You may not realize this, but these pre-felted pics are a real event here at Lara’s World. I generally never get pics til the bag is shrunked. From base to top the pre-felted bag measures about 8 inches, instead of 6. I’m assuming that the bag will felt more drastically vertically than horizontally, and since it’s a small bag already, I wanted to make sure it would be a little bigger than it might have been. Width-wise, pre-felted measures 11.5 inches. The i-cord strap is also longer than the pattern; it’s 54 inches long. Some of these photos look on my screen, but the bag is a true dark blue.

I *really* get a kick out of patterns that let me pick up a new skill. For this bag I learned Kitchener Stitch and grafting (for a total of 8 stitches), and holding stitches on a holder for later use. This last isn’t brain surgery, but now I’ve done it with my own hand and eliminated the any mystery. If you’re interested, here’s its butt:

Now in my world, a little navy bag, even boiled wool, is a little boring, so stay tuned for the felted pics, which will eventually include little felted flowers on the front and who knows what else. The bag will be properly funkified.

Beaded Two Finger Bag Crochet: Free Pattern
December 27, 2007, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Crochet, free crochet patterns, knitting, yarn

Two Finger Bag

So, several months ago, I agreed to make two bags for my good friend’s BF to give to his Ma and G’Ma for Christmas. Last week I learned he wouldn’t need them until the Thursday after Christmas. Fabulous! I wouldn’t have to rush throughout the holiday. Fast forward to yesterday, i.e. the Wednesday after Christmas. During a phone conversation with my friend, she casually asks if the bags are ready, as BF was hoping she’d pick them up.

Me: “What? I thought he didn’t need them until the Thursday after Christmas.”
Her: “Um, that’s tomorrow.”

I gasped audibly in response, and made arrangements for BF to pick up the bags at my house on his way north, the next morning (i.e., today). Now, Ma’s purse was all set, but GMa’s purse was still an in image in my mind. I had a Burgundy yarn I was planning to use for a clutch, with some porcelain beads, and a notion about a pin or a flower that I’d stick somewhere on the front. And I also had about 3 hours, because I was not willing to lose any sleep for this. I’ve been know to strive for hours to perfect a tiny detail. Whatever.

Four hours later, after buying myself some new sneakers, I got home, ran upstairs and grabbed a skein of wine-colored RH Plush, and the beads in question. Earlier, after speaking to my friend, B, I had brushed nail polish on the end of the yarn, which gave me a stiff enough end with which to thread the beads onto this terrycloth textured yarn. This is a bead-loading technique I read somewhere on Crochetville, once.

Here’s what I ended up with, and took photos this morning with only seconds to spare before B’s BF picked the purses up:
Two Finger Bag

Good news: he loved it!

Two Finger Bag

Materials: MC:1 Skein of Red Heart Plush, a wine-y color, may be called Claret.
CC:1 Skein of Caron One Pound Acrylic in Taupe
9.0 MM Crochet Hook (mine was clear purple plastic – eat your heart out)
4 beads to use on front of bag

Skills: SC, HDC, Chainless SC, SS

Start: Thread beads onto one strand of Plush yarn. Push beads way down as you go (this will be difficult do due to yarn texture, hence, only 4 beads are used on bag instead of 12). You’ll pull them up when you need to use them.

*Hold two strands of Plush together throughout.
1. Using Chainless Single Crochet, sc 12 stitches. Turn, Chain 2.
2. HDC in each stitch across.
3. Repeat Row 2. Turn, Chain 1.
4. Sc in first four stitches, and then Chain 4. Skip four stitches on bag, and SC in last four stitches. Turn, Chain 1.
5. SC in each stitch across, including chain stitches, for a total of 12 stitches.
6. HDC in each stitch across.
7. SC 1, on stitch 2, pull up a loop leaving two loops on hook, pull up a bead as close to the hook as you can, and complete the SC stitch. Bead should be in front of yarn and plainly visible. SC across, repeating beading instructions on stitches 5, 8, and 11. 12 SC total.
8. HDC in each stitch across.
9. HDC in each stitch across.
10. If you are like me, about now you’ll be discovering that this project could be going a little faster. In fact, we double-stranded largely for that purpose in the first place. If you are like me, you’ll peer over the side of the couch and discover some Taupe colored Caron acrylic, left over from a healing shawl. And you will know instantly that this color will complement the Claret Plush, and will add a little something to the whole bag experience. You will continue on, triple stranding, two strands of Plush, and one strand of Caron.
11. HDC in each stitch across. OOH and AHH at the pretty new color combination.
12. Now it’s up to you for the next little while. Repeat Row 11 until the front of bag is as long as you want it to be. Not the width; don’t worry about the width right now. Just the length, ma’am.
13. When the bag front is as long as you want it to be, repeat Row 11 two more times. These two rows constitute your bottom. Your bag bottom! Sheesh.

Start the back now:

14. Repeat Row 11 until the back of your bag, from the bottom up, reaches the bottom of the handle-hole in the front of the bag (obviously you have folded the bag to see when this has happened).
15. Next row, sc in first 4 stitches, chain four, skip four stitches on bag, and sc in last four stitches.
16. SC across, 12 sc.
17. Do a few rows of SC and/or HDC, whatever is the best combination for your back to be equal in length to your front.
18. Starting at top front, sc around the of the entire purse in a long “U”. You may want to use 3 sc in each corner space to make the corners turn smoothly.
19. When you get back to the top again, slip stitch across the claret colored portion to meet the first border sc.
20. Fold bag so that the outside is on the outside. I.e., the front with beads is on the outside front, and the outside back is on the outside back.
21. Now starting with one held-together side, slip-stitch the front and back together, by stitching into the two inside stitch loops. Having trouble? Hold them together and take a pic to see what I mean. When you finish, fasten off leaving a 6 inch tail of all three strands.
22. Do the same to the other side.
23. Trim the tails on both sides so all 6 strands are equal in length.

24. You’re pretty much done!

1.Two Finger Bag is called such because the handle whole is a bit smaller than similar bags, and only requires two to three fingers for carrying. Think of the possibilities! You have multiple digits free for iPods and mobile phones, and god knows what else. Just keep it clean, people.

2. Two Finger Bag is super easy and super quick (as in a coupla hours). The pattern only has 90 million instructional lines because I tried to spell EVERYTHING out as plainly as possible.
Also,please note, I don’t have huge amounts of pattern writing experience, so please advise if something is not clear. BTW, the bag is hanging crooked on 2 nails, so it’s not actually as lopsided as it might look here.

3.Your triple strand stitches will be bigger than your double strand stitches, so the two holes may not match up completely. In fact, we hope they don’t, cause this non-alignment will highlight one of the bag’s design features. (Woohoo!) Look here:

Close Two Finger

What happens is, when the bag holder picks up the bag using the handle and a couple of fingers, some of the contrasting triple strands will be visible through the front hole, which is really pretty, wicked cool, and looks like I planned it that way from the start. Which I totally did. Really.

4. If chainless SC is frustrating and confusing you, skip it this time if you like, and simply chain 13, sc across for 12 SC total.

5. The amount of rows in each section really isn’t very important. In fact, you should eyeball each part so you get a bag that is the perfect size for your needs.

Copyright 2007

Back in Blogland

So let’s see…

I’ve done two more shows.

I have sung with life changing results and done drama with life changing results.

I put my dog down on Friday. Way to start a weekend. She was the canine love of my life.

I have finished an alpaca Clapotis. Me. This was the first thing I ever knitted that was bigger than….oh, I don’t know, a calorimetry.

I have cast on for a quant and have at least one third done in Kureyon.

There will be pictures of all this, but you’ll just have to wait.

I work in a fabulous little pizza joint that will no doubt inspire many stories. I can think of one right now. It’s really good. You’ll just have to wait.

If, after going for broke at a potluck today, I managed to have lost 1.6 pounds at my weigh-in tomorrow, I will have hit the 40 pounds lost mark. Yeah, big stuff, huh? I’m gearing up to wax poetic about it, so get ready.

I’m applying for grad school. Maybe I’ll post my essay here. Maybe not, though.

Other stuff…well, there’s been a lot of it. It might be more refreshing to just move forward, rather than catch up. What do you think?

Calorimetry…no longer a knitting virgin
January 23, 2007, 9:32 am
Filed under: knitting, yarn

Here it is!
I’m now part of the knitting craze for calorimetry. What can I say? I get a kick out of pop culture. Sometimes. I also get a kick out of the fact that I knitted something. And almost followed a pattern. Or should I say, I’m just thrilled that my novice pattern editing worked, thanks in part to various online boards that are knitting this together. Most seemed to do it in about 3 hours. It took me more like 5. But I have now knitted something, and a useable, wearable object!! I’ve knit a wearable; who knew? I think this counts as clothing. It’s not a rectangle, that’s fer sure.

In fact, isn’t it cool? The variegation here really worked funkily. It looks like a big pink and brown eye. Here, come closer:

I should note for you that what looks like a cream color on my screen is actually a tan, or cafe au lait. I used Paton’s Classic Merino yarn in Rosewood, left over from my Sis-in-law’s Christmas gift. I had another skein and I’d been coveting it. And after one calorimetry, there’s still enough for about 4 more calorimetries. Or a neck warmer.

When I was done, I sewed a bright turquoise abalone button on to one end. At least if I go to a CaloFestival, mine won’t get confused with anyone else’s. Now, finally, of course you have to see it on:
Now if you’re curious, I threw my hair up into a (very casual) twist, and allowed the ends to do as they pleased, which, in my case, is to curl like crazy. Voila’! I am now dressed to walk dogs with the best of them. I will confess to being so proud that I wore it around my house the first day. And the second. And possibly still do on occasion although this is unconfirmed.

Fiberswap 2006…Yarn Haul…freaky coincidences
January 22, 2007, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Crochet, intuition, knitting, yarn

Listening to: Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way

Early in January 2007, I went to Fiberswap 2006 (yes, a smidge late) hosted in Holland, MA by the fabulous Meg, knitting and spinning teacher extraordinaire. I found out about it and got confirmed to go the night before, thanks to Greta of the Wayland Knitting Circle via the SnB mailing list, and only had time to identify 7 skeins of LaGran mohair that could be released to find a new home. As it was, I could only find 6 skeins that morning. So off we (me and my mohair) went to Western MA.

Now, I went looking for Noro. Preferably Kureyon. And I knew, as I made plans to go, that I would come home with Noro. Probably Kureyon. It just popped into my head, like. And I’ve learned to pay attention to this type of…popping. So I get to Holland, squeeze my tiny car into a tiny wooded space, and head into the event. We start by laying out our goods. And this is no joke, because these women are serious fiberists. Meaning, 60% of the gathering or more owns sheep.

After we got a finished basement room loaded with yarn sorted by fiber, we headed up to a pot-luck lunch in Meg’s recently redone first floor (to which I’d brought a rotisserie chicken). And can I just add that Greta brought some fabulous vegetarian chili. In all honesty, I’m not anti-vegetarian, and even like to entertain the thought of going down that road, at least occasionally. But my family has a chili recipe that contains meat, and that’s the way I like it. Whenever I’ve tried V-chili in the past, it was a disappointment, more like thick vegetabley soup.
So I’m ever so pleased to report that there was no mistaking that Greta’s chili was chili, and it was good. In fact everybody brought great stuff, and I left the table considerably fuller than when I sat down. Thank god I was still able to run for the yarn.

And when we were set loose on the yarn, here’s where I headed first:

And while the majority of it is this funky Noro that I quite like, I’ll have you know that the hot pink/orangey ball at the top is Kureyon. So ha.

From General

Next came the fabulous wools, mostly handspun and dyed, and also Lamb’s Pride, Galway, and a Russian wool/alpaca blend called Alpafina. (Soda can for scale. Please note, soda cans in MA are 2cm tall).

And cottons, so I can make dishcloths and really, truly learn to knit:

From General

And acrylics/wool blends, posed artfully with the tshirt, embroidered one for each participant, by Meg at her former place of work.

Food, yarn and a tshirt for $10. I mean, shut up already! This was too great! When I got home, I was heady with it all. Here’s what it looked like all together, not including the big bag of wool and lllama/wool roving, which may have still been in the car when I took this pic for you all:

It was great, and I have great stores of wools and natural fibers now for the bags I want to make for spring craft fairs. However, as I snap snap snapped away with my trusty digital camera, I got another *pop,* if you know what I mean (much like for the Noro). With that pop I knew that I had to “see” my stash. I had to get it allllllllllll out of the various places it was hiding, get it all together, and see it. Good god amighty, I was *not* prepared, I’ll tell you what. I’ll show and tell all in a future post.

But to end on a happier note (scary forboding music beginning to fade), I went to Greta’s Wayland circle a Weds. night or two later and met the crew who are very very nice and low maintenance….Her-Ka-Lees! Only a town or two from me, but we met way out in Holland. I’m planning to go again this week. And the freaky coincidence I romised you at the beginning of the post? Something told me to mention my mohair, so I did, since I had another skein looking for a new home (allergies!). Don’t you know it turned out that Greta’s friend was the one who got my mohair at the swap? I can’t remember her name right now, but she said she’d let me know if she needed skein #7. But wait, it gets better.

I went on to mention that I had gone to the swap hoping for Noro, and that I had been successful. Greta gave me a funny look, and as her friend chuckled, told me that the Noro had been hers. Now I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in synchronicity. And this was very fun and very cool. Next time the three of us want to trade yarn, we can just do it locally.

I hope you’ll consider taking advantage of your local fiber swaps, though I’d recommend looking at your stash before you go. And chant the mantra “It’s safe to let go” as you root through your storage containers looking for what to take.