My Top Ten Audio Knitcasts for 2009

Last year was a great year for solid and enjoyable knitcasts.  I want to share my top fifteen (or so) list for good knitcasts and then a couple of others as well.

#1 is my guilty pleasure. They may not be highfalutin but Lime & Violet never fail to educate, entertain, and enlighten. Brimming with knit-energy, Starbucks, and gin, these foul-tongued fiberistas got it going on 24/7.  Even tho Lime ain’t been heard from in many a moon, Carin does her best to contain and channel that force of nature that the world knows as Violet (but Sideshow Husband knows as “The Chesticle Host”).  God bless em, these gals’ll be rich n’ famous one day (as opposed to poor and . . .)!

#2 would be on anyone’s list, and almost always is. Number one under “knitting” in iTunes search is Cast On with Brenda Dayne. Long-time caster and a smooth-throated master, Brenda casts out a professional airing every time. Ask anyone.

#3 is David Reidy’s Sticks and String. The guy is so knice, and knowledgable, and knit-busy that I defy you to not be pulled into his bustling Sydney circle. It’s all so well organized and seamless that you feel like you are at the best yarn party every time you listen. His essays are always sensible and vehicles for the “that’s right” insight.

#4 is Stash and Burn. Jenny and Nicole are SF yarnettes with know-how and charm. Phocused yet phun.

#5 is a newbie but already on the lips and iPods of many a string-picker (or thrower, as the case may be): Never Not Knitting. Alana is a pro who share her largesse with the world with creativity and verve.  Seriously, look at her blog: this gal can really knit! Inspirational and elegant.

#6- Knit Spirit

#7- Knit Picks– Top in iTunes under ‘knit”

#8- It’s a Purl, Man

#9- YKnit

#10- Knit Obsession with ZKnits

Honorable Mention for Sheer Heart: Knaked Knits and Knitting at Night

Podcasts that are good as far as they go but have dissappointingly podfaded: Unwound, Yarn Thing, Knitters Uncensored, and SSK

Podcats that I really really really want to like and have listened to every episode but think are just boring every time I do: Stitch Stud and his Bride (who’s the “stud” and where’s the “bride”?-  overly earnest and monotone) . Sorry guy, it’s just dull . . . Infrequent schedule hurts this one as well.

Sweaters for Dragons– I must admit that I’ve never really gotten the dragon/sweater connection. Eric, you are funny when you are with Violet but (I take responsibility here), I may not be geeky enough to appreciate your infrequent, Star Trek-infused podcast. Actually, these last two may be examples of the difficulty of making an good single-presenter podcast. Unless you are really a fascinating speaker (ex. Brenda, Kelley, David), a conversation is usually more interesting.  

More later. My fingers are itching to knit.


Cool Vest or Hot Mess?

Back on track. Have been very busy for a while and unable to really write this blog correctly. I’m back now for a few months (my work cycle is very cyclic . . .) and have lots of time to knit.

As I’ve said before, I’m really not a collector of anything, so not a stash person. I like knitting a project from beginning to end. For me it’s about the interplay of the colors and textures on the needles; uncommitted balls of yarn look kind of lifeless IMO. But, despite my spartan outlook, yes, I have amassed bits and pieces from previous projects. These were bothering me as they were on the verge of  assuming “stash” status, thus ruining my stash-free reputation. Over the new year’s holiday, I got a great idea. I dumped all the bits out onto a shelf, and culled out anything not at least 80% wool, anything too bulky or lace weight, and any very bright colors or black. Then I sorted the yarn into color groupings: blue/grey, green/blue-green, brown/rust/tan, cream (no bright white), and Noro ends with red and black removed. I lined them up and first cut them into 4 metre lengths and then tied these together with square knots, moving in order from group to group and then repeating. I plan to let those ends show in a regular pattern on the front of the work. The resulting yarn is one that I like very much. Reminds me of the sophisticated striping motifs used by Missoni. but also has a bit of the raggity look of used sari yarn. 

The un-stash


Enjoined Yarn

Ends Swatch

 Swatch Close-up

Interesting side note: Livejournal diva/sage sleepsong noticed fron this pic that I had been purling the wrong way, causing a twist in each stitch. I am so grateful. I might have gone on forever screwing up project after project in ignorant bliss! I spent all yesterday doing purl swatches to get the right way into my fingers. It is amazing how much better my knitting looks now! (Duh!)

Thinking of making a sweater vest for me out of this glorious ragtag yarn. Can see it really popping with a brown turtle-neck! Here’s the thing: the last few sweater vests I’ve made,  I’ve thought that the Noro or other striped yarns I like have not offered a flattering horizontal stripe across my body. Anyone relate to that? So, I’d like to do a sweater knit from side-to-side to make my new yarn stripe vertically. Subequent to writing  this I have decide on the Bold Zebra pattern from Guy Knits , done in the vest design from Knitting with Balls. It really allows a striping effect of alternating yarns that I really like while still emphasizing the vertical up and down lines without being knit side-to side. I think this will be a cool vest.

Finally, Knit Time!

At long last, I get time to knit. I should explain. As a Japanese university lecturer, I roughly follow the Japanese school year schedule. That is, school is in session mid-April to mid-July, off from mid-July to mid-September, school from then through  late-December, off for small winter break, then back for two weeks, then off from mid-January to mid-April. I get paid all year but work for about eight and a half months.

So, projects in queue: Forks in the Road sweater, Seraphim shawl, and Bold Zebra sweater vest.  each has its own good points and difficulties.

The Forks in the Road has been started and stopped  so much. I need to jump in and really enjoy what I began. Have frogged it twice due to mistakes, not easy with mohair. I think it will go well now that I can get a rhythm.  

Seraphim Shawl: I’m not exactly feeling it and I had a big shock yesterday. One of the Livejournal diva/sages, sleepsong,  generously pointed out that I have been purling incorrectly, twisting each purl stitch from the wrong side. She was spot-on correct; all projests I have done to date have been flawed with this. At this point in Seraphim, I have totally finished the 58 repeats of stockinette before the lace pattern begins. It took me forever. If I frog it, I will abandon the project. I just can’t redo that boring expanse. So, go on correctly with the lace pattern? Or should I keep purling the wrong way on this project to make it consistent? My inclination is to now continue, purling correctly. I think I will just proceed on and see how it goes, if the change is very apparant but I can justify it with ” this is where it changes to the lace pattern” then I will keep it, If not, maybe froggy pond, here we come. 

Bold Zebra is my current passion, fueled by the fun new yarn I created from odds and ends.  I’ll devote a whole entry just to this. 

More later on my great Christmas knitting ideas this year and plans for a podcast in the New Year!

No FOs but Happy Holidays Anyway!

I’m super busy this time of year. The end of the school year comes soon but the New Year is the BIG occasion in Japan so lots of events and family stuff abounding abundantly.  Holiday knitting? Don’t much happen round here. Committed myself to making lap blankets for family members (giant needles, bulky yarn) for friends and family but hard to really get them finished. At least I can vouch for two, one finished and given to David before he left for England and one more very nearly done for Iichirou. That leaves one more for Tetsuo and Seiko, maybe one for Yukiko and Kyou-chan.  Or maybe they will get theirs much later . . .

So, what do you do when you can’t get your knitted gift goals completed by the holidays? Let me know in this poll:

Readers Demand Full Disclosure!

After the last entry, reader Luneray incisively wrote in to say: 

What, no pics of the portrait on the building? That’s almost as interesting as your thrift-score sweaters!

Well, we here at the hAMImono main offices aim to please, so here is the aforementioned official sign/portrait:

Don't Worry! We aim to please! You aim too, please!

Don't worry, the Iwata Shop will recycle anything!

Sign says: Anshin desu. Benriya desu. Nandemo katazukemasu.
Iwata-ya Tel 402-6848
Translation: Don’t worry. This is a convenient shop. We will take absolutely anything off your hands.
Iwata Shop Tel 402-6848
Also, here is a pic of the whole place. looks like a junk pile but is actually a labyrinth of hidden treasures!
Iwataya Recycle Shop

Iwataya Recycle Shop

Again, thanks to reader Luneray for zeroing in on the heart of the previous posting and bringing this lapse to public attention. Her scrutiny has enhanced our lives.

My LRS Rocks (Knitwise)!

“LRS”= local recycle shop (a la LYS). There is one very near my house that is a hoot and a holler. Great stuff, dirt cheap. Run by this funny old guy who is a local celebrity (?). . . HUGE painting of him on front of building. But, better by far than that is that he has this bin on the corner that he just loads old clothes into and anyone can have them for free. Now I’ll be honest: some of the stuff, I wouldn’t line a dogbed with. But, occasionally, astonishing gems are presented for public consumption.

One thing was this silver metallic yarn sleeveless turtleneck sweater . . . Comme des Garcons . . . absolutely gorgeous, would have cost at least 35,000 yen in Tokyo (about $350.00!). Another goodie was this great cabled white wool sweater. I didn’t like the cabling pattern so I frogged the while thing and knit it into a diagonal throw for the living room. Most recent bin-diving delight: a wonderful Canadian Indian wool sweater. Big and thick and warm and buttonless. I handwashed it (some idiot had dry-cleaned it 😦 !), depilled the whole thing, and replaced the buttons. Isn’t this gorgeous?!

Found Canadian Sweater

Found Canadian Sweater

Detail of buttons on Found Canadian Sweater

Detail of buttons on Found Canadian Sweater









I checked online and found a very close sweater for $280 Canadian. Am I lucky (and observant) or what? Also, you can’t say “oh, they don’t know the value of great knitwear in Japan” because a) Tokyo-ites are very fashion-forward, and b) knitwear is super hot and trendy this year, in all the stores and everyone sporting great knits. I’m lovin’ this season and continue to haunt that freebie bin.  I’ve lurked around the shop so much that the other day, the old guy gave me a hot steaming yaki-imo (baked sweet potato)—yum!

New FOs and Mad Skills

Long time, no see.  Been knittin’ n workin’ n livin’. Finished new projects. First the Noro Seaming practice sweater:

Noro Practice Seaming Vest

Noro Practice Seaming Vest

Love seaming! Picking up stitches- not so much. Lack of technique?

Next up, this, the Arty Sparkle Sweater Vest:

Arty Sparkle Italian Vest

Arty Sparkle Italian Vest

detail of i-corded collar and sporty button

detail of i-corded collar and sporty button

This was a sale yarn from long ago. Lots of it. Black wool, thick and thin, with bits of iridescent sparkle. Fun, huh? No! A nightmare to knit. Splitty, couldn’t see it, … Finally I got tired of fighting with the knitting and decided to deep-six the whole binful by machine knitting a sweater vest. I machine-knit six panels, seamed them together, ribbed the bottom, i-corded free-form around the neck and armholes. Love the result. Warm vest. Learned a lot!

Next on to Forks in the Road from Guy Knits and then manfully forward to the Knee Length Coat. Recently inspired by news of a completed coat by Uvon of Ravelry. His looks really great. Can I do as well?

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