It's a total scarf-o-mania, I tell you!

Whoa! The weather here went from pleasant to chilly with no transition. Must knit scarf quick! Plus, I got really bored with knitting gorilla arm sleeves in black 2x2 ribbing and need a small break.

So...what did I choose as a break? A scarf. In black yarn. Stockinette stitch. How clever of me! (I wrote that sarcastically.) Going from gorilla arm sleeves in black ribbing to long scarf in black stockinette stitch may not seem very Einstein-y, I know. But the scarf yarn is a funky yarn, so it provides quick entertainment when I need a break from knitting sleeves. It's variegated black/white/gray and very, very LOOPY: Phildar Tourbillons that I bought during a frenzied shopping expedition a few months ago. I'm not working the yarn alone, though. I'm working it doubled with Phildar Steppe, a fluffy variegated black and gray yarn. It's like Clash of the Novelty Yarns! Here's what I have so far:


fall2004_scarf.jpg
I'm thinking shag carpet...I'm thinking pimp scarf...
[Zoom in, zoom out.]


I've been working a few rows of the scarf every time I get a little tired of working on the Manly Jacket sleeve, so I'm really alternating between the two. I can't wait to see how the finished scarf looks wrapped around my neck. It's gonna be funk-ay! [Click here to see the ultra-shagginess that is this yarn knitted up.] People will think I decided to wear a shag rug in lieu of a scarf. Or a couple of tribbles? Maybe even a toupee. [Stop thinking "Shatner", okay?] Oh, I'm kidding. Truth is, I like it. I've been wanting something loopy like this to jazz up my black turtlenecks.

To me, most scarves are like extra-long swatches. My very first project was a scarf, and it's how I taught myself to knit. There's no need for a pattern if it's a simple one. Just find your yarn, decide on a stitch, cast-on, and giddy-ap! Ribbing is good for yarns that curl. Or, do it in another stitch and work a border around it. If you've got a yarn that isn't a curler, you can use straight stockinette. Garter stitch scarves are nice, but garter is shorter (and wider) than stockinette stitch so it'll take longer to finish the scarf. That's why I like bulky yarns in garter stitch scarves; they work up quicky and look cute, to boot. If you've got a one or two skeins of a soft fine-gauge yarn, knit a scarf using a lace pattern you've never tried before. In short, scarves are good. Now that the cold weather has begun and I've got all these oddballs of flashy yarn in the stash, I feel a bit of a scarf kick coming on.

Lil Sis = No Knitting.

My little sister is visiting me from abroad, so regular knitting entries will resume early next week. In the meantime, I've got a contest for you:

It's a Skinny Rabbit Scarf Contest!

The prize: Two skeins of Phildar Tourbillons, the loopy wool blend yarn I'm using for my shag-rug scarf. Perfect as trim or carry-alongs for scarves, wrist warmers, bags, hats or any other project one's yarn-loving heart may fancy.

october_06_2004_tourbillons.jpg

To enter, all you have to do is let me know what your favorite scarf yarn AND scarf pattern/stitch are via the comments to this entry. That's it! The contest will be open until Saturday, 10 a.m. CET and a winner will be chosen at random.

Happy scarf knitting!

Alternatively titled: The Shag Rug Scarf That Won't Stop Growing.

I present to you: "The Neverending Scarf"

fall2004_scarf2.jpg
Whoa, Nelly! That's a heckuva long scarf.


Zero to little knitting done last week as all of my time was spent having fun with my sister*. But! I did get in a few rows here and there on my Shag Rug scarf, and before I knew it, the scarf was taller than me. I'm pretty sure that it has a life of its own. It won't stop growing! Either that, or I've watched Como Agua Para Chocolate too many times. Tita would be proud, but I think it's about time I bound off this Muppet and called it a scarf. [BONUS: Here's a shot of me standing up and knitting the scarf to show just how long it is. Look at that monster! I expected it to nip at my ankles any second. And here's a postscript for you: My sister took the picture. Awwwwww!]

Speaking of scarves and my lil sis, the winner of the Skinny Rabbit Scarf Contest is comment number 125, made by Carrie. It was chosen at random: On Saturday I asked my sister to write down any number from 1-127 (1 and 127 inclusive), and this is the number that she wrote down. Congratulations to Carrie and many thanks to everyone who shared their scarf yarn and pattern suggestions. Lots of creativity and inspiration to be found among these comments! And that, my friends, is why I have the best readers.

In other project news: I'm still having a hard time deciding on what project to start for myself next. I just received the remainder of my swap from Tiffany (a.k.a. Amazing Yarn Enabler): A load of Rowan Plaid, Rowan's Vintage Style, needles, Pop Tarts [!] and some luscious Art Fibers yarn, Sheepish and Sage. (Pop Tarts and yarn. YUM. Can't get any better than that.) [Click here to see it all!] The Plaid is making me rethink my entire project lineup for winter, and there's no doubt I want to knit something using it, like, right now. Oh! But that's not all: I just picked up the latest Phildar Irlandais and while last year's was pretty good, this one is so full of nice things I feel like throwing the whole magazine in the air and screaming, "I'll just knit it ALL!" There is even a sweater with built-in fingerless mitts. In Pure Laine, one of my favorite yarns. Argh!

P.S. I just remembered: I have my Koigu (since early March!) to make a Charlotte's Web shawl. That's definitely at the top of my Wishlist of Things I Want to Knit Right Away. I also have some Colinette yarns to make a stole or wrap, so I'd like to consider this for a winter project, too...

*Yes, the same sister for whom I made the fringe-rrific poncho last fall. She brought the poncho with her and wore it while she was here. [BONUS: Pictures of my sister wearing her poncho at Place Bellecour and Fourvière.] She wears the poncho a lot, especially in the air-conditioned offices where she works. When she wears it at the office, she doesn't wear it poncho-style. She very cleverly folds it in half and wears it around her shoulders like a shawl, and then drapes one corner of it over her shoulder in the style of a stole. She demonstrated for me and it looks very snappy and elegant. Thanks for the tip, sis!

On the first day of Christmas...

My new favorite scarf!

fall2004_scarf_furry.jpg
Alternatively titled, "Hagrid's Beard".


Knit in a simple stockinette stitch using a couple of skeins of Lana Grossa Multi-Lungo in chocolate brown [xo to Ann and Kay for sending me this yarn last winter when I expressed a yearning for it!] and large needles, it only took me an evening to complete. I knit it while watching HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban on DVD with my husband, and I kid you not when I tell you that at the precise moment when I held up the furry scarf on the needles and asked my husband, "So...what do you think?" Hagrid's bearded face appeared big as life on the screen while he says to Harry, "How am I doin' me first day?" You can guess what my husband said about the scarf.

And I love it! Truth be told, the scarves I have the most fun knitting are the simple ones - garter, ribbing or stockinette - in yarns that have enough texture to give interest. And this particular scarf is fun to wear because it reminds me of a funky pelt of faux fur. [Click here for a closeup.] It looks so soft and furry some people have actually reached out to pet it [!] while conversing with me. Wouldn't it be funny if it growled back? Hehe.

P.S. If you're also knitting scarves check out the excellent scarf ideas shared by my readers. (Who has the best readers???)

On the second day of Christmas...

A Kitty Hat for my niece:

fall2004_kittyhat_finished.jpg
[Here's a photo of the Captain modeling it for us.*]


The official "Kittyville" hat knit using just a little over a one skein of Bergere de France "Magic" in red. I followed the pattern in Debbie Stoller's Stitch'n Bitch, but knit at a slightly smaller gauge and shortened the hat by half an inch at the seed stitch band and one inch before the crown shaping. I decided to knit it without earflaps because it's for my niece, and she lives in warmer climes. It's a quick knit, and it took me less than two short evenings to complete. Fast, but fun. (I just looooooooooooove these kinds of Christmas knits.)

[Footnote: A couple of people wrote to me and/or commented with questions re the ears, because the decreases at the tips of the ears appear to throw off the seed stitch pattern. Just do this: Decrease at the edge as instructed, and then refer to the next stitch in the row below to see where you should be in the seed stitch pattern.]

This particular hat is a Christmas gift for my niece, but I may end up knitting another one for her in another color because it is a really cute hat. [Wanna see how it looks on? Sure you do. Click here.] Maybe next time I'll do it in a fuzzy or furry yarn.

Speaking of Christmas, I'm enjoying the holiday decorations out in the city. Walking around some of the streets is particularly entertaining right now because some places have really gone all out. The hair salon where I get my hair cut has plastered white furry carpet pieces everywhere and hung mirrored blinking disco lights from the ceiling. I kid you not. It looks like Winter Wonderland meets Saturday Night Fever. It's a blast! I don't know whether to ask for a conditioning treatment or a frozen margarita when I'm in there. I need to remember to pull out my camera next time I pass by it, but in honor of the holiday decorations in the city here's a shot of one of the more subtle ones I took outside of a fromagerie in the Croix Rousse yesterday:


december_17_2004_christmasdeco.jpg


And in the "I love Christmas" category, I want to give a shout out to Jenny for surprising me with an Interweave Knits subscription as a Christmas present! (I can't find Interweave Knits here in Lyon, and Carolyn is the one who has sent me nearly every issue since Spring 2003!) Much appreciated, because it keeps me in the loop on what everyone is knitting overseas.

*Big props to my son for modeling his cousin's hat for me. He's such a sport. He posed nicely for several photos, and then snatched the hat off of his head and said, "Okay, that's enough, Mommy. This is a girl's hat." Hehe. Love it! He cracks me up.

On the third day of Christmas...

Why, it's another Christmas present:

fall2004_scarf_glitzy.jpg
Some fiber bling-bling!
[Closeup of the fabric is here.]


For my mother: A glitzy scarf using Phildar Diamant [blingblingbling!], a shiny, seemingly glittery polyamide blend that has just the teeniest amount of fuzz to give it interest. [Want to see a closeup? Oh, go on. Click here.] My mother likes to wear skinny long scarves around the collars of her jackets, so I whipped up this sleek little scarf as part of a Christmas present to her. [My mother is traveling about and not anywhere near a computer, so I can show off this scarf here knowing that she won't be able to see it until she gets it. Muwaahaaaa!]

I pulled this scarf together in less than an evening and used exactly one skein of Diamant. I cast on about 17 sts and worked in single rib (the edge stitches were slipped purlwise every other row for a neat edge) until the scarf reached the length I wanted. Then I bound off, and fringed.

Speaking of glitz, I bet you thought I was pulling your yarn when I mentioned that the fab hair salon where I get my hair cut had put up some flashy white fur and disco lights in honor of the holidays. Well, I hereby present to you the Amazing Disco Ball of Christmas:

december_20_2004_disco.jpg
[Click here to zoom out.]
[And here's a mirror shot for ya!]


It's like disco fever in the North Pole. I love it! The owner/manager of the salon, who is also the one who cuts my hair, says that children and older people are the ones getting the biggest kick out of the retro holiday decor. I agree; as I was taking photos of the decorations (there's usually an antique carrousel horse on the floor where the disco ball is) Captain Destructo positioned himself in the blinking lights and started bouncing up and down to the music. Disco fever!

Still riding the carrousel of Christmas knits...

A hat for my dad!

fall2004_ribbedhat.jpg
Hey! Remember the hat I knit for my dad last year?


Part of a Christmas gift for Dad: A ribbed hat with a cuff using Phildar Frenesie in Mineral and Phildar Quietude in Noir, both yarns held together throughout. Design from Phildar Hommes 2004, and requires just over two skeins of each*. Knit flat on honking big 6mm needles. I kid you not when I tell you that I cast on for this hat right after I popped Mouse Hunt** into the dvd player, and bound off during the second half of the movie. So quick and fun I almost got up and tapdanced on the coffee table. Sing it with me now, darlin': I love me a quick Christmas knit!

And just because it's almost Christmas, a random street shot:


december_22_2004_voisin.jpg


Nothing says the holidays better than a chocolaterie decked out for Christmas. Gimme some Lyonnais quenelles and coussins, stat. (Voisin is one of my favorite chocolateries. But my top all time fave is Bernachon with its fabulous chocolate and petits fours. Oh my goodness, BERNACHON. The mere writing of that word gives me a chocolate buzz and a desire to tapdance on the coffee table.)

And in other news: STASH ALERT!

december_22_2004_stash_amanda.jpg


Received in trade from thoughtful Amanda: some Cascade Fixation in Christmas colors and a surprise gift of Alchemy Synchronicity [!] in Mist and VK's Knit.1. Oh la la! Is it Christmas yet? I think so.

*And I had enough yarn left over to knit a ribbed beanie without a cuff for my husband's noggin!

**Christopher Walken is priceless in that movie. Absolutely priceless. Worth having on dvd for his scenes alone.

Wannabe Punk Armwarmers!

Time for a brief Lyon moment:

january_12_2004_fountain.jpg
The cupid's pose never fails to make me smile.


We're having uncommonly good weather (for winter, anyway) and I've been taking Captain Destructo out so we can enjoy the sunny days. I took the photo above in Brotteaux, where there's a playground and a small square with a fountain in the middle.

Now, some knitting news!

Before I blab on about the new projects I'm working on (which is what I was going to do today), I think I'd better show you my long-finished opera-length armwarmers because I keep forgetting to post about them:

fall2004_armwarmers_finished_mannequin.jpg
Want to see them both? Sure you do. Click here.
P.S. How about a closeup?


Project details: "Opera-length" armwarmers with thumb gusset knit in 2x2 ribbing, using Plassard Merinos in charcoal gray. The design and pattern are my own and were inspired by some machine-knit fingerless armwarmers (without thumb gusset) that I saw a girl wearing last month. Mine were knit entirely in the round on four double-pointed needles because I like playing pick up sticks. Okay, I'm kidding. While I have no aversion to knitting things in the round, I think it's pretty clear that I prefer knitting the majority of my bigger projects flat so that I can seam them. BUT, when it comes to hats, neckbands, mittens and other similar projects I prefer that there be no seam, and that is when I love my circs and double-pointed needles.

As for wearing these armwarmers, let me just shout this out: I LOVE WEARING THEM. I rarely wear gloves because I tend to pull them off order to use my hands. But I find these armwarmers to be a nice alternative and I've been wearing them under my sweaters on especially cold days. Not only do they provide extra warmth, they make me feel like Joan Jett. (And I don't mind telling you right now that when I was a kid in the eighties I pretty much idolized Joan Jett. Oh! The number of times I made myself hoarse screeching along to the video I Love Rock 'n' Roll on MTV.)

I think I shall call it "The Cookie Collar".

Let me show you what I did last week while it was snowing outside:

winter2005_neckband_finished.jpg
[Click here for "Look, Ma! I'm keeping my neck warm!" shots.]


Ta-da! It's the quick 'n' easy neckband from VK's premiere issue of k.1, but I call it the Cookie Collar. Here's why:

1) Look out the window. Oops! It's snowing outside. Nix plans to go downtown. Better stay in and knit.

2) Cast on for neckband. Work a few rows. Ho-hum. Ribbing gets kinda boring. Wait...is that a case of Sweet Tooth I feel coming on?

3) Pull out bag of Hershey's chocolate chips, provided by sister who knows I frequently get Sweet Tooth. [And that is why my sister is a golden goddess.]

4) Leave butter out to soften.

5) Work some more rows. Hey! I bet that butter is nice and soft now. Why, it is! Make cookie dough. Taste cookie dough, just to make sure it came out okay. Tastes pretty good. Realize it may give energy for knitting the collar. Taste a few more times as I get first batch of cookies in oven. You know, for knitting energy.

6) Work on the collar as cookies bake.

7) Take cookies out. Put more in. Eat more cookie dough for energy. Taste one of the cookies fresh out of oven. Feel sugar rush coming on.

8) Complete collar in knitting frenzy brought on by sugar rush. Pull second batch of cookies out of oven. Eat a couple more cookies.

9) Try on collar. Oops! A bit too much ease at the top. Is my neck really that skinny? Eat a couple more cookies to plump up my neck. Rip out bind-off row and bind-off again, this time evenly decreasing purl stitches (using p2 tog) every 7 stitches or so as I bind-off.

10) Try on collar again. Woo hoo! It worked. Eat a couple more cookies to sustain my neck size. Work crochet edging, going down a couple of crochet hook sizes than called for in the pattern. Sew on buttons. Eat just one more cookie, to celebrate.

And that, my friends, is why I call it the Cookie Collar.

I think I shall call it "The Cookie Collar".

Let me show you what I did last week while it was snowing outside:

winter2005_neckband_finished.jpg
[Click here for "Look, Ma! I'm keeping my neck warm!" shots.]


Ta-da! It's the quick 'n' easy neckband from VK's premiere issue of k.1, but I call it the Cookie Collar. Here's why:

1) Look out the window. Oops! It's snowing outside. Nix plans to go downtown. Better stay in and knit.

2) Cast on for neckband. Work a few rows. Ho-hum. Ribbing gets kinda boring. Wait...is that a case of Sweet Tooth I feel coming on?

3) Pull out bag of Hershey's chocolate chips, provided by sister who knows I frequently get Sweet Tooth. [And that is why my sister is a golden goddess.]

4) Leave butter out to soften.

5) Work some more rows. Hey! I bet that butter is nice and soft now. Why, it is! Make cookie dough. Taste cookie dough, just to make sure it came out okay. Tastes pretty good. Realize it may give energy for knitting the collar. Taste a few more times as I get first batch of cookies in oven. You know, for knitting energy.

6) Work on the collar as cookies bake.

7) Take cookies out. Put more in. Eat more cookie dough for energy. Taste one of the cookies fresh out of oven. Feel sugar rush coming on.

8) Complete collar in knitting frenzy brought on by sugar rush. Pull second batch of cookies out of oven. Eat a couple more cookies.

9) Try on collar. Oops! A bit too much ease at the top. Is my neck really that skinny? Eat a couple more cookies to plump up my neck. Rip out bind-off row and bind-off again, this time evenly decreasing purl stitches (using p2 tog) every 7 stitches or so as I bind-off.

10) Try on collar again. Woo hoo! It worked. Eat a couple more cookies to sustain my neck size. Work crochet edging, going down a couple of crochet hook sizes than called for in the pattern. Sew on buttons. Eat just one more cookie, to celebrate.

And that, my friends, is why I call it the Cookie Collar.