Marsha Knits

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Name: Marsha Brofka-Berends
Location: US

Marsha knits . . . and reads and cooks and edits and gardens and hikes and thinks and eats and photographs and sings and writes and travels and plans and hopes and . . .

08 May 2007

Happy birthday to me

Yupper, today is my birthday--just two days after Sylvia's. Two years ago, when we were anxiously waiting for her to hurry up and get born already, Jan and I were worried that she'd end up sharing my birthday, which also happened to land on Mother's Day that year. Talk about a triple whammy. Fortunately, she arrived two days earlier (one week after her due date), thus ensuring that she gets her very own birthday--which I think is important, since it's awfully nice to have a birthday that's your own special day, don't you think? In addition to the niceness of having family around to celebrate my birthday, I was also fortunate enough to receive several wonderful gifts, many of which were knitting/craft related. Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects by Lotta Jansdotter and Knitted Flowers by Nicky Epstein now grace my bookshelves, and a tote with seventeen (yes, that's right--seventeen) pockets on the outside alone will insure that I don't lose my crafting supplies. My friends Gina and Todd gave me a Louet kit for handpainting sock yarn. It contains some incredibly soft wool sock yarn (enough for a pair), three different color-coordinated dyes, and--thank goodness--instructions. I am very much looking forward to trying this! Last but not least, my Dutch father-in-law gave me a terrific set of knitting supplies. He doesn't know anything about knitting, so he went to his local yarn store, a place called Charmant that's in the next town over from his, and said, "I want to get something for someone who knits." Fortunately, he was helped by someone who knew what they were doing (though I'm not surprised--I've been to this shop and was very impressed by how knowledgeable the staff were). She guided him toward the spring/summer 2007 issue of Babymode (Phildar No. 465), a set of 3.5mm needles (which is what most of the patterns call for), and twelve balls of a very soft cotton-acrylic blend Dutch yarn that's pretty indistinguishable from Rowan All-Season Cotton. There are lots of great patterns in here. I'm especially looking forward to making the two-toned cardigan with the tomten hood. Unfortunately, all of the written instructions are in Dutch--which I don't read or speak. But I'm hoping that with the help of the pictures and schematics (not to mention Babelfish) I can figure them out!

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19 April 2007

Speaking of friends...

By happy coincidence, I have reason to write up another "wow, my friends are great" post. In this case, the friend didn't give me much-needed decorating advice but sent me yarn. About two weeks ago, Beth, my roommate from college, called to let me know that her local yarn store was having a mega-sale. Would I like anything? she asked. I was sorely tempted but opted to save my pennies this time. Apparently, she decided to take matters into her own hands: in the mail a few days ago I received a package full of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Now, I love this yarn. I've raved about it here before, and Beth and I have had extensive discussions on the subject. And now I have a lot of it. In addition to the four skeins of peach, two skeins of sage green, and two skeins of chocolate brown that Beth sent, I have one skein of chocolate brown (leftover from the cardigan I made for Sylvia) and three skeins of red (from JD). That's twelve whole skeins of this stuff! So what should I do with it? I'd love to hear suggestions! I think it would be fun to use it all in one project (though I suspect the red may be a bit too bright to go with the others). A striped sweater? Some sort of intarsia thingamabob?

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08 April 2007

A birthday Moebius

Last November, I learned how to knit a Moebius using Cat Bordhi's cast-on. The result was a lot longer and thinner than what I expected--not really my style as far as scarves go, but Sylvia loves it, so it's hers now. I knit another Moebius in December as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it to her, so all I can do here is describe it. I used three balls of KnitPicks Suri Dream (in Atlantic), cast on 80 stitches (160 if you could the top and bottom stitches separately), and knit until I ran out of yarn. The result was a scarf that hung down to my waist, could be worn as a double loop, and was wide enough that one loop could be pulled over the top of the head as an impromptu hood. I was working on that scarf when I had my annual checkup at the satellite office (in my town) for the Birth Center. (The birth center itself is about forty-five minutes from my house.) The midwife who saw me on that day, Nancy, was the same one who'd been with Jan and me when Sylvia was born at the Birth Center in May 2005. She's not a knitter but is new to crocheting, and she was pretty interested in the scarf I was working on. I like her tremendously, and I decided then that I was going to make one for her as a surprise. I ordered the yarn for it now long after, but various other projects have kept me from starting it until this weekend, when Jan, Sylvia, and I visited his mom (who lives three hours away) for a couple of days. I started with 50 (100) stitches and knit for about two inches, but it was turning out much longer than I wanted. I was aiming for a short, fits-around-the-neck thing, so I started over with 35 (70) stitches, which turned out to be perfect. I cast on with #9 needles, knit one row and purled one row, then switched the right needle only to a #11 (keeping a smaller needle on the left, so the yarn would pass over it easier--this is a tip I just learned from my friend Beth, who read it in Bordhi's book). I used one entire skein of KnitPicks Suri Dream Hand-Dyed (in the Falling Leaves color), and the whole thing took only about three or four hours. The large stitches give the scarf an airiness, but the alpaca and wool--along with the width of the scarf--make it warm indeed. I love how this turned out, and I hope Nancy likes it, too! I'm going to put it in the mail to her this week. It will get to her too late for this winter...but just in time for Sylvia's second birthday!

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06 April 2007

A week of knitting

Last night my local knitting ground met at a coffee shop for our first-Tuesday-of-the-month not-at-the-community-center get-together. (On the third Thursday of the month, we are at the community center.) I had finished the heel flaps on both of my toe-up socks, so I was all ready for Pat to help me through the next step: picked up stitches on the sides of the heel flap and making the ninety-degree turn that makes sock knitting so freaky and mysterious. It went quite well...or so I thought. When I came home, I finished up one sock and discovered that I'd picked up about ten more stitches than I should have. Oops. I sent Pat a "oh crap, what do I do now?" e-mail about it this morning, and fortunately she was able to tell me how to fix it by decreasing before I start knitting the round top part. I'll have to be extra-careful when I do the heel on my second sock, now that I know that my subconscious wants to pick up way more stitches than are good for me. These socks aren't going to be a perfectly matched pair...but hey, they are my first real socks, and besides, all of these "idiosyncracies" are what make handknits so charming, right? Right? Yesterday I also finished up the front of the pullover vest I'm knitting for a baby that's due in mid-June. The top part looks kind of weird to me...like a halter top gone bad or something. I'm supposed to block it before seaming, and I'm wondering if blocking will smooth out the profile a bit. But I'm also wondering if I should rip it down to the base of the v and try again, this time modifying the pattern a bit to get wider "straps" up the sides. (I followed the pattern exactly as written this time.) What do you think? Any suggestions?

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31 March 2007

More knitting for babies

Since finishing the boatneck sweater for Liza's (May) baby, I've been working on a vest sweater for Megan's (June) baby. The pattern is from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms: Beautiful Designs Using Organic Yarns, by Louisa Harding. (I'm substituting a decidedly nonorganic yarn: KnitPicks Shine Worsted in Terra Cotta. I do love working with this stuff!) It's a fairly simple pattern--nearly all stockinette, with garter-stitch "stripes" at regular intervals. I completed the back last Thursday evening while knitting with two friends at bookstore/cafe, and since then I've already finished one-third of the front.

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15 February 2007

A (long-)finished object

I ran some errands today, one of which was to my local post office to mail a birthday package to a friend who lives on the other side of the planet (in another hemisphere, even!). Her birthday isn't until next month, but planning in advance lets me avoid the outrageous airmail costs and send stuff by surface mail (which, almost always arrives within two weeks anyway, even though the official estimate is "six to eight weeks"). Among the various items I enclosed was the shawl, which I knit for her some time ago and just haven't been organized enough to send. It's my first--and only, so far--shawl, and I knit it of a synthetic suede yarn that was a lot of fun to work with. In my effort to get as much mileage as possible from the yarn, I started new skeins mid-row--not, as it turns out, the best idea with this yarn, whose woven-in ends are difficult to conceal. So it's not the most polished-looking shawl (in the future, I'll incorporate the ends into the fringe), but I think it looks--and feels--quite nice!

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