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 . . .

29 May 2007

My stash

My SP10 hostess, Kerry, has asked everyone in her group to post a stash photo. Here's mine, arrayed on the futon in our guest room. It's not huge (certainly not compared to some people's stashes...ahem!), but there's more yarn here than I remember owning. Well, that's no entirely accurate: as I unpacked the giant plastic box where I store this stuff, I remembered each ball of yarn as I encountered it, but I couldn't remember all of it without seeing it. Does that make sense? Everything is kept in ziploc bags, mostly so the balls of yarn don't agitate each other and start to unravel and get tangled (yes, the use of ziploc bags here was the result of a Bad Yarn Experience). I thought about it organizing the yarn by type, but then I realized that if I did that I'd have one pile with three sets of sock yarn (I have thus far managed to avoid the Sock Yarn Lust that usually afflicts sock knitters) and a big jumble of Everything Else.

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03 May 2007

"Earth laughs in flowers"

Every spring, when the forsythias, dogwoods, magnolias, lilacs, azaleas, daffodils, and tulips put on their annual show, I'm reminded of these words penned by Emerson. Of course, this phrase is part of a longer passage about humanity's inability to escape death, but I still like it in the context of thinking about spring and nature and renewal. My SP10 hostess, Kerry, has asked everyone in her group to post about their favorite flowers. That's a really difficult task, because I'd be hard pressed to name a flower I didn't like. I even find dandelions sort of appealing. Right now, though, I'd have to say that my favorite flowers are these giant red tulips growing in my front yard. Jan and I moved into this house in the fall a few years ago, and shortly afterward his father, who is Dutch and lives in the Netherlands, came to visit. While he was here, my father-in-law, a horticulturalist who knows pretty much everything about plants, planted about three hundred tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs around the house, mostly in the front. Squirrels dug up most of the crocuses, but every spring we get to enjoy a magnificent display of yellow and white daffodils, followed by tulips in almost every size and color imaginable.

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13 April 2007

Just what I needed

My SP10 sent me a note the other telling me to watch the mail for a surprise. In an amazing display of perfect timing, it arrived yesterday--a delightful package of goodies to lift my spirits after a day of home fix-it tasks (including wallpaper removal--ugh). The contents included a woolly little sheep tape measure--just what I needed, 'cause Sylvia likes to "measure" things with my knitting tapes and hide them all over the house. Interestingly, everything she measure is declared to be either "two" or "five." I'm hoping this new tape measure will be a bit more accurate! :) Also included was a package of B'Loonies (you use the enclosed mini-straws to blow tubes of goo into funky balloons!), a package of thyme herbal bath powder (fabulous!), and a bar of verbena soap. This last item is incredibly fragrant--I really wish Blogger had a built-in smell-o-scope or something (scratch-and-sniff blog posts, anyone?) so you could smell it. A cheery note explained the last item in the package: a miniature hank of yarn spun by my SP10 herself! It's so darn cute, too. I love the mushroomy color, and I'm eager to know the story behind this yarn. Thanks, SP10! This really made my day!

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24 March 2007

SP10 just launched...

...and look what's already happened! A few days ago, my SP10 sent me an e-mail warning me to watch my mail. When yesterday's mail arrived, I could see why: she sent me a package! Yes, that's right--sock yarn! Her accompanying note reads "I love making socks, so I thought I'd encourage your new foray into knitting them as well!" Along with two skeins of Cascade yarns Sassy Stripes superwash (in an oh-so-fun blue-green colorway) she included a great toe-up sock pattern. (Question to my Secret Pal: did you send this pattern because I'm learning toe-up socks now or because it's one you like a lot? Just wondering...) Thank you, SP10!

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26 February 2007

SP10 questionnaire

1. What are your favorite yarns to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely not like? I love working with natural fibers, particularly wool. They have a certain "coziness" that most synthetics just can't match. I've had a longstanding prejudice against acrylic, but then my SP10, Lynnette, introduced me to Touch Me. Wow, that is some nice stuff. So now I don't think that all acrylic is evil--just most of it. :) 2. What do you use to store your needles? My Denise needles (obtained last summer) have miraculously managed to stay in their case when they aren't being used. So far, I haven't lost any of the parts (knock on wood!). My straight needles are in a beautiful cloth roll-up case that my friend Gina gave me. My double-pointed needles and my circular needles live in a handmade, felted-wool roll-up case from Nepal, given to me by my good friend Beth. 3. How long have you been knitting, and how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate, or advanced? I've been knitting for three years. A woman I worked with at the time helped me pick out the needles and yarn for my first project (a scarf, of course!), cast on for me, and showed me the knit stitch. Three skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky later, I looked up binding off in a book (The Knit Stitch, by Sally Melville) and since then have relied mostly on books and the Internet--and occasionally on knit-knowledgeable friends--for learning other techniques. If you don't count finishing (seaming is the bane of my existence), then I think I'm an intermediate knitter. But if seaming is included . . . .well, then let's say beginner-intermediate. Yeah, that sounds about right. 4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I do! You can look me up on Amazon. 5. What's your favorite scent (for candles, bath products, etc.)? I'm a big fan of woodsy smells, such as cedar and sage. And I love the Karma line (and pretty much any soap) from Lush. Vanilla, lavender, and citrus are sometimes nice, too. Floral scents are hit or miss: some are fabulous (I'm a longtime fan of the Body Shop's dewberry), but most are just too cloying for me. 6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Hello? Does good cheese smell bad? Is Tom Baker the best Doctor Who ever? Are ninjas and pirates cool? Is Joss Whedon a genius? The answer is yes, yes, yes! Dark chocolate is up there for me, with pretty much every other kind of chocolate (other than white) a close second. Caramel is lovely, too. Most hard candy doesn't thrill me, and as a vegetarian I avoid gummi-anything and marshmallows (both of which contain gelatin). 7. What other crafts or do-it-yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? Spinning--'fraid not. One day, perhaps, but not today. I'm craft-minded but don't actually pursue a lot of regular DIY projects. When I'm not tending to Life Responsibilities or knitting, I'm often working on my photography. 8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)? Keen on (among others): Jane Siberry (now Issa), U2, The Pogues, Argentine tango music (the danceable stuff, not so much Astor Piazzolla's concert pieces), Tom Lehrer, Eddi Reader, Bach's Magnificat, Poi Dog Pondering (before they moved to Chicago), Philip Glass, Anonymous 4, Daniel Lanois, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kronos Quartet, Ella Fitzgerald, Dar Williams, Emmylou Harris, big band swing Not keen on: rap, heavy metal, country MP3s: no problem! 9. What are your favorite colors? Any colors you just can't stand? I love muted earthy colors--browns, greens, blues, plums, grays. I also like black, robin's egg blue, and red. Pastels have never thrilled me. And white . . . well, I have no objection to it as a color, but I never manage to keep it pristine, so I've sort of given up on it. 10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? One husband (who crochets!). One daughter (who will be two years old on May 6). Two cats--one of which is my daughter's best friend, personal maid (i.e., cleaning up the floor under the high chair at mealtime), and favorite huggable purring pillow with claws. 11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens, or ponchos? Yes, yes, yes, no. (But not because I am anti-poncho--I just haven't gotten around to making one for myself yet!) 12. What are your favorite items to knit? I love to knit sweaters (see here, here, and here) and hats for my daughter. She's still small, so the objects are finished relatively fast (ah, completion satisfaction!), and I get to experiment with color, shapes, techniques, etc. (I like knitting hats in general, actually.) I've recently ventured into the land of sock knitting, thanks to a friend who's been teaching me and the other members of our local knitting group her fabulous toe-up sock technique. 13. What are you knitting right now? I have a few projects in progress:
  • A sweater for me. (One sleeve to go.)
  • Baby sweaters for three different friends who are having babies this summer.
  • A pair of socks. (I started them at the toes and am up to the gussets now.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes! (Who wouldn't?) 15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, or plastic? I like both straight and circular needles. Wood is far and away my favorite material for needles, with metal a distant second and most plastic not even rating consideration. I do love my Denise needles, but every once in a while I reach for some bamboo ones instead, just because the warmth of wood is incomparable. Haven't tried needles made from birch, rosewood, or other woods yet, but I bet they are sublime. 16. Do you own a yarn winder or swift? Neither, alas, though I am seriously considering building a swift... 17. How old is your oldest UFO? The sweater I'm making for myself (see #13 above) is about a year and a half old. 18. What is your favorite holiday? I like Christmas the best--not because of the gift giving or any religious meaning. There's just something so lovely about a light- and food-filled celebration in the middle of winter, when it's dark and cold out. (If I lived in the Southern Hemisphere, I'd probably like a different holiday more . . . something in June or July, I guess.) 19. Is there anything that you collect? I currently have about two hundred refrigerator magnets from all over the world. I started collecting them years ago while traveling around the USA: they're cheap (don't make a big dent in the travel funds!), they're small (don't take up much room!), and they're everywhere. I still buy them wherever I go and occasionally get additions from my brother or friends, who sometimes pick one up for me if they go somewhere interesting. I like 'em as kitschy and as tacky as possible. 20. Any books, yarns, needles, or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? Books I'd love to add to my knitting library include:
  • Knitted Flowers, by Nicky Epstein
  • Knitting Workshop, by Elizabeth Zimmerman
  • One Skein, by Leigh Radford
  • Wrap Style, by Pam Allen and Ann Budd
  • Rowan Babies, by Kim Hargreaves
  • Pipsqueaks, by Kim Hargreaves
As far as yarns go, I'd love to try some of the yarns made out of nonwool and noncotton natural fibers. I recently received some soy yarn that I'm going to put on needles as soon as I can knit again, and I'd really like to try some of the other alternative-fiber yarns out there, such as bamboo, corn, and seaweed. I'm also eager to try linen yarn and the yarn made from recycled silk saris, both of which look like a lot of fun. I currently subscribe to Interweave Knits, which I adore (even though the patterns tend to call for outrageously expensive yarn). 21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Intarsia, baby! I got my first taste of it last spring when I made the Anouk pinafore, and I'm eager to try more. I've even bought some bobbins in anticipation of my next intarsia project. I'd also like to try fairisle knitting, though I'm not sure I can carry strands of yarn all over the place without winding up with the Tangle From Hell. 22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I'm a newbie sock knitter. See #12 above. My shoe size is US 7.5. 23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) May 8.

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