Saturday, September 30, 2006

I'd Better get Moving

I've got three things to finish by the end of October, and this sweater is not one of them.

So...which thing do you think I'll do first? Well, I'll finish the top of course. I've got my priorities in order.

Three things I must finish by the end of October:

Item 1: HUGe

What the hell is that, you might ask. If you are an Elannite, you probably already know. I forget what it stands for. Heaving Unknown Gifts Eastward? Something like that. It's a gift exchange that a bunch of us signed up to do. It works on the same principle as a Christmas cookie exchange. I make ten things; nine other people make ten things; we all get one of each thing. Hopefully, we get things we can give out as gifts to assorted people in our lives. Or we get ten things to keep for ourselves. I signed up to do two batches of ten things, so I have to make twenty things. Crazy ol' me. I'd better get moving.

Item 2: Science Experiment

This is a euphemism, of course. I'm sure I wasn't fooling anyone with that when I mentioned it a few weeks ago. It has to do with a certain yarny contest that I'd like to enter. I used to have two months to get ready for it. Now I only have one. I'd better get moving.

Item 3: CBC Literary Contest

Okay, this one's got me all jazzed up. I joined a writing group this fall. I've been in writing groups before. I've been a words-girl all my life. I was the one at school who could come up with a whole new set of lyrics to the tune of Gilligan's Island that described the salient features of the French Revolution. I re-wrote the Christmas Carol "Good King Wenceslas" to discuss Good Chef Senseless-Les, and his turkey that turned into poultry-flavored jerky. I wrote a series of television commercials on the theme of Hamlet. My favorite was for a product called Chef Boy-R-Dee Mini Mac-a-Rosencrantz.

I was the kid that tutored my classmates in essay writing and in how to read a poem. I was the kid who actually enjoyed public speaking. I was the kid who read things I had written out over the public address system in elementary school. I was the person in my family who could be counted on to come up with a speech or a poem or some other congratulatory address at important events and milestone anniversaries.

All my life I have wanted to be a writer, but never really believed I could be one...well not officially at least. Whatever that means. I have friends who call themselves artists, professionally, and they are. But I have a hard time with the word. When I took a writing course in grad school a few years ago, I was mentored by a gifted professor as well as by a student who had been active in the world of editing and publishing. They made it very clear that my work was of publishable quality. I didn't believe them. Now the people in my writing group, also highly qualified, are telling me the same thing. I'm ready to go professional.

This sounds very exciting, and of course I am thrilled to hear it. I guess I can now call myself a writer-person. But the real work is not in the writing. As difficult and insane as writing is, or can be, the real work -- the grunt work -- is in flogging the finished product. I have to find a market for the kind of writing that I do. And then I have to brace myself for a great deal of hurry up and wait, and...oh yeah...rejection. I am not as intimidated by the rejection part as I am by all the office work that is required. Creativity flows. Administration does not. Never mind. My new writing friends say they are going to keep booting me in the backside until I've sent out my work.

The first boot came by email yesterday. CBC Radio is hosting its annual literary contest, and I have a month to get ready. I need to cull out around 1,000 words or so of poetry from among the hoard I have stored in my journals and on my computer. I also need to get a few creative non-fiction pieces chosen and polished. I can do this. And once that is out of the way, I'm going to start sending stuff off to a few magazines that I think might be receptive. And it will go from there.

I'd better get moving.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Baby Cashmere Bliss

I bought this Blue Sky Alpaca pattern at the same time as the pattern for the Bulky Baby Hat. I love the look of this sweater that is not quite a shrug, not quite a cardigan. Blue Sky calls it "Cropped Cardigan." It is meant to be knit with two strands of Blue Sky Sportweight held together. I was surprised to see that the pattern calls for the two strands of sportweight to be knit on 8mm needles. Clearly we are aiming for a looser airier fabric.

Much as I love Blue Sky's sportweight, I was hoping to make the top in Elann's Baby Cashmere. For one thing, the cost of the Baby Cashmere is less than half of what I would pay for BSA yarn, but I also wanted to try something fun in the Baby Cash, having never knitted with it before. I wondered if the pattern would work with Baby Cash.

The lilac yarn in the picture above is Blue Sky Sportweight. The teal coloured yarn is Elann Baby Cashmere in Peacock. I only have a few skeins of the lilac, but I bought eight of the Peacock to make the top. The two yarns are both very soft, sportweight yarns, but BSA is heavier than the Baby Cash. You get the same yardage at twice the weight. When I swatched two strands of Baby Cash on 8mm needles, the fabric was too loose and hung long and skinny. I tried tripling the strands, but the fabric was too thick, even though the guage was about right. Then I tried swatching two strands of Baby Cash on 6 1/2mm needles. That got me a comparable fabric to two strands of Blue Sky, and a closer guage. I decided to go up one pattern size and attempt the sweater in the Baby Cash.

It appears to be working. The pattern is easy and straightforward. You knit top down and make increases to create the raglan sleeves. I put the sleeve stitches on strings and tried on what I have so far, and the fit feels good. Because of the looser guage and the light yarn, this will be a very light garment, but I think the drape will be good. I like the colour a lot, and Baby Cash is dreamy. I stop often just to pet the finished fabric.

This is the front. I have just started the long section of ribbing that runs from under the arm to the bottom edge of the cropped cardi. The large section of body ribbing is what gives the sweater its interesting shape. The sweater never really comes together at the front. It hangs open and pulls back towards the bottom edge in a cutaway style. The fabric looks thicker and springier in the ribbed sections of the body and the sleeves.

I suspect that the Blue Sky yarn would give the top a denser, more textured fabric. The Baby Cashmere fabric is going to have a lighter, smoother look to it. Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

In other knitting news...the black Katrina sweater went out to dinner last night and looked very cute over an apple green t-shirt. It's such a comfortable sweater.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

All There in Black and White

I've finished my black Katrina v-neck sweater. This one seemed to take a long time to finish, despite how lovely Patons Katrina is to knit. I kept cheating on it with other projects. Finally I decided just to finish it, but it felt like the thing that wouldn't leave. Now it is done and I am delighted! It fits; it's comfortable, and it's stretchy and silky.

The pattern is from a Patons booklet called: Patons Classics Endless Summer. It's a small collection of patterns designed for Patons Fresco. Fresco and Katrina knit up at the same guage: 18 stitches on a 5.5mm needle.

I made the white sweater in Fresco, and it turned out great too. It was my second finished sweater, and I still wear it. The pattern is a straightforward classic v-neck style that a beginner could easily tackle. There is only one error in the pattern. When shaping the armhole for the front, it forgets to tell you to cast off under the arm on the purl side to match the other side. I made the small size in the white but the extra small in the black because of the stretch factor in Katrina.

My favorite feature of this sweater is the neckband. The first time around I knitted it flat, the second time on a circular. What I like is that it is thin and sits so nicely. It is not knitted in ribs to give it a bulky look. Instead you pick up knit stitches all the way around, then purl one row, then cast off in purl on the right side. I use that method for lots of other patterns now too. It also makes the v-neck round out a little.

The other modification I always make with sweaters is to lengthen the sleeves. I like extra long sleeves.

My one frustration with this sweater was how long it seemed to hang around. It is a somewhat boring knit after all. I was on the last sleeve, and burning my way up to the finish line when I noticed an extra pair of bamboo needles sitting on the stool in front of me. Where did those come from, I wondered. I picked them up and was horrified to discover that I had not switched from the smaller needles to the larger ones after completing the cuff ribbing. Ack! The thing that wouldn't leave!!

Okay, I should explain that reference. Doug and I picked it up from some friends of ours way back at the beginning of our marriage. It is what we say about certain house guests who stay longer than we would like them to. Our friends had a brother in the family that never knew when it was time to go home. Finally they would put on their pajamas and go to bed so that he would leave.

The black sweater has found a home...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This came in the mail yesterday. I have been accused of yarn enabling lately, so I will mumble out of the side of my mouth that Knit Happens (see yarny hangouts in sidebar) has a small selection of Blue Sky Alpaca products on sale right now. Most of them have sold out, but you can still get sportweight in Royal Purple for 5.50 a skein. And they have Bulky hand-dyed for eight-something, and two-toned bulky hand dyed for ten-something, and worsted weight in several nice colours for twelve-something, instead of eighteen-something. Okay, you didn't hear any of that cuz I was mumbling.

In any case, this came in the mail yesterday. This is not what I wanted, but apparently this is what I ordered. I'm sure it's a nice colour, but it's not my colour.

And the problem is, I ordered it along with this:

See my problem?

So I ran to the cupboard for two packages of strawberry Kool-Aid, and ten minutes later, I had this! Not bad eh?

Made for each other. H says she actually likes my skein better than BS's skein. This IS a day.

Not so KooL...

While I was at it, I decided to try the kool-aid treatment on a skein of Handpainted merino I ordered several months ago. The colour is called Butter BM. Hmmm...

It is the one Handpainted Yarn product I have not been happy with, but I guess that's not their fault. It is the usual dreamy merino, but I thought I was getting something creamy or off-white. I ordered one skein to see of my monitor was close. It's...nice...if you like urine-yellow. BM might be the wrong function for this colour, but it is an accurate assessment of my opinion of it. Anyhoo...more packages of kool-aid later, and it got uglier. After a trip to Safeway for yet more kool-aid, it got uglier still. It takes a lot for me to throw out yarn. But that stuff is gone.

If you think I'm bad for yarn enabling, CatBookMom takes the prize. She posted yesterday about some sale at a place called Little Knits. I went to have a peek and ended up getting sucked down into a vortex of whole bags of Debbie Bliss merino chunky and dk for less than thirty dollars a bag. If she buys up all the BSA purple sportweight, then my revenge will be sweet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

All Wound Up

My love affair with Handpainted Yarn began a year ago with Malabrigo. I heard about it from someone's blog, ordered a few skeins from Webs, and went gaga over the stuff from the day it arrived. It is so soft, so saturated with colour, so natural, and so merino. A few months ago, I was chatting at Elann and discovered that Malabrigo is just a fancy market name for Handpainted Yarn. I promptly went to their eBay store and made a pig of myself. I bought that "Shocking Pink" for my cabled sweater. I also bought some funky stuff for a shawl later on, and I bought some lace weight merino.

On eBay or on Handpainted Yarn's website, you can get their beautiful soft merino yarn in just two weights: six-ply bulky, and one-ply laceweight. The photo above is of one 100g skein of lace weight in a colour called "Stone Blue." There are over 950 yards of yarn in that one skein. eBay sent me a package of three of those for twenty-two dollars US.

Now, you need to know that I do not own a swift or a mama bear, or a papa bear, or whatever the device is called that you use to wind skeins into balls. The only fancy apparatus I have for winding skeins into balls are the two hands that I was born with. I wound one skein into a ball and cast on for a shawl. About ten rows later, I gave up. No way. I recently calculated that I have knit over 15,000 metres of yarn into this and that over the last calendar year. It was a rough calculation. I was a bit scared to find out the actual figure. Nevertheless, I was not up for knitting three kilometres of lace-weight merino. Not this year anyway. So I chucked the ball and the two skeins into stash and let them cure there for a few months.

After I finished knitting my pink cabled sweater, I got to thinking. That bulky pink stuff was six strands. I have three skeins of that laceweight. I wonder what guage I'd get from three strands knitted together.

I began winding up the other two skeins into balls.

There they are...three kilometres of yarn, all wound by hand.

I put each ball into its own bowl so that they would not get tangled as I wound them together into one ball.

Now I have one 300 gram ball of 950 yards of unbroken DK weight Handpainted merino. Not bad for 22.00 US. I swatched, and yes indeed, I get 22 stitches to four inches on 4mm needles. I would guess that two strands would get sport weight and four would get worsted.

Oh...and just when I was feeling really impressed with myself, I discovered that kPixie sells a skein of Shetland lace yarn that yields 1200 yards in just 25grams. I am so not ordering that stuff.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Playing with Paint

I took a watercolour painting class about a year and a half ago. It was a six-week class to learn the basics. I liked the instructor. She was very kind and encouraging. I signed up with a friend and we had a lot of fun dabbling with paint. I made this painting from a photograph of one of my favorite spots on earth: Chesterman Beach at Tofino on Vancouver Island.

When the instructor announced that she was giving an all-day workshop on the basics of abstract painting in acrylics, I decided to give that a try too.

This started out as a copy of a photograph and then went far away from the photograph. I discovered that I paint in layers, changing things each time, until I get a sense that it is finished. Then I stop.

What I like about this one is that it changes when you turn it in different directions.

Most of my paintings don't have titles. They usually come out of things I've seen that catch me a certain way.

Or from sketches that I've made

Or from moods that I am in

I call the above painting "Knocking on Heaven's Door." There is a much darker muddier version from when I was in a different mood.

The idea for this one came from a sermon I heard a friend of mine preach. He was talking about the passage where the sick woman reaches out to touch Jesus' robe as he was passing by. This image came into my head, and I quickly sketched it out. I do not consider myself talented at depicting realistic things very well, and this was my first attempt to capture something specific.

I sketched this at a time of genuine despair. It is done in coloured chalk on a large sketch pad. It says exactly what I was feeling.

But when I translated it into a painting, it ended up saying something quite different than I was expecting. When I look at this, I see the woman who had been in despair, now turning her face up toward the light. That too said exactly what I was feeling. I know that this one is not really finished, but I don't know where to go with it, so I've stopped for now.

I love to paint, but I am not always in the mood. It comes and goes. I have a few paintings going on inside me these days, so I'll probably be getting set up to do another one. I've noticed that I tend to knit either in colours that I like to wear or in colours that I like to paint. The last painting was the back-drop for those two skeins of Fleece Artist I posted about (Bright Lights Big Knitty).

I had no idea that I even liked to paint until I took that course, and I am very surprised at what has happened since. If this makes you think that you'd like to try it too, then I say: Go for it! You just never know what's in you until you let it out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mail Call

I received three kinds of interesting mail this week.

First, was an email from my mother. What do I tell you about my mother? How long have you got? I was the third girl of four in my family. I know that my mom was very depressed during my early years. A lot of important people in her life had died during the two years before I was born. She already had two small children. Lynn was three, and Cathy was four when I was born. Motherhood was a huge challenge for her, and those two were never what you could call "easy" children. And...she was married to my dad. I know that my dad was hitting those two pre-schoolers, hitting and yelling and cursing and spanking beyond anything one could call reasonable correction. Cathy had the unfortunate nick-name "Tupe." I called her that for years until I discovered it was her baby way of saying "Stupid," something my dad called her often. And my mom...shy, lonely, disconnected, but sweet in her own way, was a deserter. She tended to disappear when dad was on a rage. Later she would show up and tell us that we shouldn't have...or if we had only...or if we hadn't...

In other words, it was our fault.

She would urge us to apologize to him, make it better for Him. And for his part, he did the same. How could you do this to your mother, he would scream as he lost control of the paddle he used to spank us. We were supposed to take care of her, not burden her with our problems. Hers were certainly more important than ours.

I have written a piece about my parents' marriage. Maybe I'll post it here at some point. In it, I try to come to grips with the fact that they had some very fine qualities alongside some devastating failures and lacks in the parenting department. It has been a tough job to work through a lot of that stuff. But I'm getting there.

Four years ago, I learned that even a lifetime of taking care of my parents' emotional needs, of listening to them, affirming them, helping them feel like good people when everything in their family was falling apart -- a lifetime of mediating between them and my other sisters -- a lifetime of reassuring them that my sister's suicide at age 18, her mental illness, and my other sister's difficulties were not their fault -- a lifetime of being the parent for my youngest sister -- a lifetime of keeping the secrets and holding the line -- could not protect me from their rage when I suddenly had to take care of myself for a change.

I had no choice. I was so sick that even the thought of talking to them on the phone could send me into a paralyzing anxiety attack. I had to learn to break every rule my upbringing had ingrained into me. I had to endure the worst phone calls, the worst letters, the worst second-hand conversations, the worst rumours, and finally the worst. My dad scared my son and hit him when he was visiting them, and they pulled out all the same old bullshit I had grown up with. The way that fell out caused me to cut all ties with them for over a year and a half. It did not stop my mother from sending me a rather damning letter on my 40th birthday.

Believe it or not, I am slowly re-establishing some contact with my parents. I started a year ago last June by asking my mom if she would like to have coffee. We get together once in a while. We email each other once in a while. We do not talk on the phone, and I have phone security to prevent that in any case. She seems to be willing to work within my boundaries, and because of that, I have enjoyed our visits.

But I am not going back to the old family dynamic. I received an email from my mom inviting us to Thanksgiving. Ugh. Thanksgiving has to be the most painful holiday my family celebrates, if the word celebrate can be used. It's all wrapped up in my birthday, my dead sister's birthday, my parents' birthday, and...well...Thanksgiving. No thanks. Even Christmas is easier, though not much. The year I turned 40, one of my sisters told me I was going to be invited to Thanksgiving, and instead I received the letter from hell. This from a woman who left me out of her Christmas newsletter for three years in a row. The first time because she didn't know what to do with me. The second time because, as she told my sister, I had done nothing worthwhile that year. And the third because...well...that was the black hole year.

I used to be my mother's best friend and closest companion. When I finally grew up (four years ago) I realized that what I had needed was a mother. My mother had needed one too, and somehow our roles got switched. I can't be her parent anymore, and I won't be. But once in a while, for an hour or two, I can be her terribly confusing and rebellious daughter.

Just not at Thanksgiving.

The second mail was a letter from the local arts center telling me that I was registered for a creative writing workshop. It's a thirteen week program, and I went for the first session yesterday morning. It turned out to be a group of women who have been meeting this way for years and years. A friend of mine joined last year, and she got me to sign up for this year. These women are really doing it. They're writing and working with each others' writing, and many of them are publishing. One of them just finished a book tour. I am pretty excited about working with them. Maybe I'll finally get off my ass and send some of my work out there to get rejected.

The third kind of mail was the best of all. Parcel post from KPixie, Handpainted Yarns, and Elann.

I got three more skeins of that bulky Blue Sky Alpaca to make more cozy hats and a scarf for me. It's a good deal at 25.00 for the three. I got three skeins of BS Cotton and a pattern (another good deal kit for 25.). And the blue stuff is a worsted weight blend of 60% wool and 40% recycled silk. Generous 100g/160m skeins, and KPixie was clearing them out for five bucks a skein!! Yesterday, they still had some pink, so hurry up and buy it before I change my mind.

This is the orange top kit. Love that pattern, and the orange, and BS Cotton is sooooooo soft.

A close-up of the wool-silk blend.It's a very dark teal. Lookie-see all the pretty colours from the silk. This stuff makes me think of Noro products. Bargain Noro.

Okay...Handpainted Yarns and I are having a lover's fling these days. I can't help myself. I love everything they make. They came out with hand spun and dyed Himilayan cotton in worsted and fingering weights last week, and I had to get some worsted. It is nice stuff. Hmmm...there's that orange again...

Handpainted's lace-weight Merino. You get a billion yards for 100g. I think it's 975 or something like that. I was thinking of two-stranding it, maybe even blending it with another colour.

And finally...a little white box from Elann with just four balls of fuzzy soft Cuzco. I had to see what everyone else was raving about. It is very nice. 100% baby alpaca, soft, light, lofty. Just the thing for a hat/scarf combo. Comfort yarn.

Did all this stop me from ordering some Baby Cashmere at Elann yesterday? It did not. Knitting nurtures me. I didn't get a lot of Knit On!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yarn Girls Rule

They came. They saw. They did a little knitting...

Last spring, a woman I know from church asked me if I would be willing to teach her how to knit. And then another one mentioned it. When a long-time friend of mine brought the topic up at lunch one day, I decided to see if they would all like to come over for a few evenings and muddle through it together. In the end, four women came over one evening a week for about eight weeks. We had a lot of fun. They learned the basics. I learned a lot about teaching people how to knit. This September, they all asked about coming back. We're going to meet alternate Wednesdays, so you just know what my blog will be about on alternate Thursdays!

This is Yvonne. She was the first person to ask me about learning to knit, and she patiently waited for months for me to get my act together. See that extremely cute jacket she's wearing? Once she got the hang of knitting, Yvonne whipped up that little beauty in no time flat. She showed up last night wearing it, and it looks fantastic on her! Wear it with pride, girl!

This is Win. My dear friend since we were about ten years old. In the spring, Win got the hang of knitting very quickly and made a washcloth and a hat. This year she is tackling her first sweater, a zip-up jacket in aran weight cotton. We went yarn shopping in the summer, and it was so much fun to begin the corruption process for her.

Yvonne, Karin and Suzie all digging into Krispy Kremes, courtesy of Suzie. The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Suzie. I've been chatting with her through Elann's chat center for a few weeks now, but last night I got to meet her in person. That was so much fun. Suzie brought her knitting in a beautiful felted bag that I've seen on her blog, but that is absolutely stunning in person. And for that matter, so is Suzie.

The woman in the middle is Karin, a dear friend and an accomplished knitter already. Karin took knitting to heart very quickly and just as quickly, it seemed, produced not one but two baby blankets knitted in worsted weight yarn with finicky seed stitch details. I'll try to get photos of those blankets next time, but this time I caught her with the donuts. Karin is already receiving white Elann boxes in the mail. One morning the two of us were on the phone together buying sock yarn from Elann, and then laughing as we watched certain colours disappear from stock right before our eyes. She's a goner.

Okay, technically Colin is not a yarn girl. But he likes Krispy Kremes, so we let him crash the party. Briefly.

Andrea is new to the group this year. She wants to learn to knit. She learned to make a slip knot, cast on, knit and purl. She's going to be a natural at this.

That's Andrea's first knitting ever! We're not supposed to notice the "extra" little loops at the bottom corner of the swatch, but I think they are a lovely embellishment. Next stop: washcloth.

Other highlights: Suzie brought her first white box from Elann over. Unopened, if you can imagine. I would never have the restraint. I couldn't wait to see what was in there. Some Mr Joe, some Highland Wool, and a bunch of Berroco Vibe to make backpacks.

Suzie had the nicest knitting bag, and Yvonne had the funniest one. It was a KnitPicks mailer bag, full of yarns and hat patterns.

Andrea's delight at realizing that she could do this.

Yvonne's proud and happy glow over her new jacket. Not to mention how good it looked on her!

Having a bunch of knitters in my home.

Looking forward to next time!

Happy Feet

Start with Happy Yarn. This is a bunch of White Buffalo yarn that I bought at a thrift store. It was natural white originally, and I divided the six stranded cow pies into two lots of three stranded yarn. Attempted to knit an Einstein Coat. Ran out of yarn about 80% along. Waved my fist at Sally Melville (surely it was her fault that I didn't have the yardage), and ripped the whole thing out.

The yarn sulked in the bin of shame for several months until Kool-aid dye caught my fancy. Now I have a nice selection of Kool-aid colours and that White Buffalo has been given a pardon. I made all the colours you see except for the dark teal at the botton. It's also White Buffalo, but I bought it that colour. This is the yarn I used to knit my big yarn bucket that has lacked a handle these many months.

I knitted myself a pair of these slippers about a year ago, and they blew out their soles this summer. I've noticed that slipper weather is back. I like bare feet around the house, but mine are cold these days. Time for a new pair. The pattern is a free Bernat pattern that calls for two strands of worsted weight yarn held together. Last year, I used Patons Classic Wool and made a sedate denim pair. This year...well... funky.

When they came out of the wash, they were very fuzzy, so I gave them a shave and a haircut and fitted them to my feet. Form fitting, a left and a right, bunyans and all.

I admit they are a bit untidy on top. It's because I'm a lazy-ass and couldn't be bothered to do tails. I just grabbed the next colour and knitted it right along with the previous one. Nevermind, I like a bit of wabi-sabi in things. And they're for MY feet, and for schlepping around in the house, and no one's gonna see the tops anyway. Defensive? I'm NOT being defensive. The bottoms look good, so when I put my feet up, that's the part people will see. You can make your pair look perfect.

Oh, and notice, if you will, that I made the iCord drawstring for my yarn bucket. I had to perform several deep sea rescues during the felting stage as the washing machine kept tying it into knots and twisting it around everything else.

I have happy feet for another reason today: The Yarn Girls Are Coming! Tonight! Yes, Tonight!! My gang of knitters comes tonight for our first of hopefully many happy Wednesdays of stitching and bitching.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What a BAG!

And I'm not referring to my mother. Well...not this time. Nor am I referring to the person who pissed me off yesterday. Okay, I'm sort of referring to that person, and I'm still grumbling about it and muttering. Only one thing for that. As soon as I've finished posting this, I'm going for a walk.

But first, the bag...

Remember that Cat's Meow yarn? The stuff that was in my orphan pile along with a snack-sized scarf? Well, I scarfed the scarf, so to speak, and was about to chuck the lot back into my stash bins when Elann posted a new yarn called Vibe by Berroco. Checked the free pattern site at Berroco and found a cute backpack purse pattern called "Vale." The light bulb went on that the Vibe yarn had the same basic properties as my Cat's Meow, and lo, a bag was born.

I liked this Cat's Meow when I first saw it at Wally-World a year or so ago. It was pricey for a WW yarn. Can't remember. $7.99 comes to mind. Then the company folded, and the yarn dropped in price a few times until it was irresistable. It's got a thick/thin roving strand that makes up the bulk of the yarn, and a binder of what looks like sweat-shirt stitching.

The stuff proved difficult to match up with a pattern. It was inconsistent and even incoherent when knitted. I'm not explaining that. But it's perfect for the Vale backpack. I knitted it up loosish on 10mm needles. Used exactly six balls of yarn (exactly how much I had) and felted it. I loved what happened in the felting process. It felted itself into a tight, compressed version of the knitted item. It pulled together all the bumps and inconsistencies, and came out shapely and strong. But it did not lose the knitted look. It looks semi-felted.

I did not have enough yarn to make the iCord drawstring, but who wants to knit an iCord anyway? I braided together some thick black leather cord and raided my bead stash. Mr Joe generously donated a bunch of beads to the cause. I think the beads and the black cord really make the bag.

H graciously modeled it for me. We've agreed that it should get stuffed full of goodies and go to a certain favorite niece/cousin in the family for Christmas.

Now I'd better get out for that walk so that I can meet H at the door with a smile and a grilled cheese sandwich when she comes home for lunch today.