Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be still my heart

I am in love.

With a yarn.

I adore yarn in the general sense of course, but a very specific yarn has stolen my heart.

Ok, I won't keep you in suspense. Here it is.


The Fibre Company, Road to China Light.

It's light as air, like knitting with wisps of cotton candy, only probably less sticky. And the colors . . . muted jewel tones and neutrals, I can't find a single one I think would be unflattering.

The content is 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel + 10% cashmere. With that amount of softness, you can imagine it's not cheap. You can see in the photo I paid $16.75/skein--not exactly a price at which I could afford to knit a RtCL sweater.

I can stomach that price for a hat or cowl, though, and that's exactly what I did:


Pattern: Cloudy Day, by Alana Dakos
Yarn: Road to China Light in Blue Tourmaline, 1.3 skeins.
Rav link

This hat is so soft, I could sleep on it. I could swaddle a newborn in it. Polish silver. Or clean my glasses. The drape is gorgeous. Fall cannot come soon enough to wear this hat. I'm seriously considering plodding around the house in it on the weekends.


(I should really start dressing better for my knitwear photo shoots)

The pattern is flawless, as Alana's patterns always are. Clear, with charts, gorgeous photography. I'm not usually a bobble fan, but this hat was calling out to me, so I decided to go for it. Honestly, I don't love the way my bobbles turned out. Some are better than others, but none have the pop that Alana's seem to. In fact, many of them seemed determined to protrude on the inside of the hat, rather than the outside, but I'm not too fussed about it, the hat is still a little fall-ish luxury.


Too bad Washington, D.C. hasn't seen a daytime high lower than 90 in the last month.

In other non-hat news, mom's surgery was yesterday, and she made it through. She'll be in intensive care for a few days, and then hopefully moved into a regular room for the remainder of her hospital stay--which could last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on how quickly she heals. The voice prosthesis has already been inserted, so once she heals, she can start to learn to use it. Until then, no talking (which is really going to make calling to check on her difficult), and no eating, though she has a port so they can pump in her nutrition.

When I visited her room yesterday just after surgery, she frankly looked a bit like Frankenstein's monster. There are staples all around her neck that almost appear to be holding her head on, which is a bit disconcerting. Her jaw area is also swollen, making her head look more square than round. No bolts, though.

It's quite odd to watch her breathing. She has an oxygen mask, which is of course perched over the hole in her neck, rather than over her mouth (which really threw my dad for a loop at first--we all knew she would be a so-called neck-breather after surgery, but somehow, it's not quite clicking), and it fogs up as each breath exits her neck. It will certainly take some getting used to.

I haven't told mom about the great Stoma Cover Project yet, but my dad and sister both love the idea, so keep those covers coming! You can read the details here, and I'll be photographing the covers I've already received tonight to share with you all later this week!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summa- summa- summatime

Fear not, I've returned. I took a much-needed vacation last week, and now I'm home and trying to get back into the swing of things. I have knitting to share, I may have bought yarn (oops), and the stoma covers have started rolling in--and I'll be attempting to show off each and every one. But first, laundry.

In the meantime, check out this adorable picture of my best friend's daughter, Ella (dressed as a strawberry!), and my boy--apparently he could be trusted to take her down to the water:


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Best foot forward

We're going to try something a little different today. We're not going to talk about cancer. I know, it's crazy. But since this is supposed to be a knitting blog, I thought I'd try talking about knitting!

What kind of insanity will I come up with next?

I have been knitting up a storm lately--baseball on TV gives me a solid few hours of knitting time most nights, especially since the team's performance is so atrocious, I don't actually want to look at the TV. This month, I managed to finish up 2 pairs of socks.

The first, I actually started LAST July, on my trip to the beach. So they've been a year in the making.


Pattern: Cachoeira, by Kristi Geraci, Knitty, Spring 2009
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Cedar
Rav link

I love that these socks are extra long--or, at least, longer than I usually make my socks, because I get bored. I couldn't easily memorize the pattern, though, so I suspect that contributed to the inexcusable length of time it took me to finish them.

The Tosh Sock is not the absolute softest sock yarn I've ever used, but it's plenty comfy, and sturdy. And you really just can't beat her colors (well, Sanguine Gryphon's colorways are pretty fantastic too--tough call).


Pair #2 involves something totally new to me: colorwork in socks.


(Well, that's not entirely true. A long, long, long time ago, I started a pair of Windowpane Socks. I think I made it through 2/3 of the leg and then screwed something up and couldn't  . . . un-screw it up? So the sock is hiding in a bag somewhere, hoping I never find it and ruin it further.)

Pattern: Sockstravaganza, by Kirsten Kapur, in Brave New Knits
Yarn: Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in Autumn Tiger Beetle, and Sundara sock yarn in Cactus Flower
Rav link

I posted earlier that I recently decided it would be a brilliant idea to knit my way through Brave New Knits, and since I'm still thinking it's a pretty good idea, this is one of the patterns I decided to start with. I always do Kirsten's Socktober Mystery Sock-a-longs (I don't do them in a timely fashion, but I do them), and love the final results, so I'm not surprised that these socks are one of my favorite patterns in the book.

The colorwork section went by surprisingly quickly on these, and from then on, smooth sailing for the cables. And I especially love the stripey toe. The Sundara sock yarn has less yardage than, for example, Bugga! or Tosh Sock, so I thought it would be a good choice for the main color in this pair, and sock leftovers are perfect for the contrast color.


The only problem with these is that it's hard to take a right-side-up picture of your own feet, so you guys are seeing the colorwork hearts upside down. Trust me, they're equally cute right side up.

Now, all I need is some cool weather so I can actually wear my new socks . . . although, to be honest, I also love going into my handknits drawer and seeing all my socks folded up sweetly and waiting to be worn.

And can you believe I actually have one more FO to show you? Told you it's been a busy month. Next time!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

(Just to keep the Beatles theme going. I'm a huge Beatles fan. In high school, my cousins and I became obsessed with them, conveniently right around the time the Anthology was released. I still collect Beatles LPs. I got some awesome obsure Spanish-language ones in Mexico City. I saw Paul McCartney in concert last year, and it was easily the best day in the history of mankind. This is all kind of irrelevant, but I wanted to post some light-hearted information before we start talking about cancer again.)

This is going to be a quick post, just to thank you all so far for your generous response to my previous post. I knew I could count on knitters and crocheters to help put together a great new neckwear wardrobe for my mom.

I've had a few questions about designs, colors, etc. Perhaps this website will help to inspire you, this person sells many different styles of stoma covers and assorted neckwear, many of them crocheted.

The stoma will be located at the base of the neck, near that depression where your collar bones meet, so the key is to make something long enough to cover that spot. (Anyone who's curious to find out more about laryngectomies should check out, an online community of laryngectomees, with lots of helpful information.)

This is beautiful, isn't it? I think it would work, hits in just the right location.

Maybe something like this.

This is pretty adorable too.

And of course, there are plenty of gorgeous free cowl and scarflette patterns on Ravelry. (:Cough: Someone I know may have done one. :Cough:)

And as for what not to make, well, I really don't think mom would like this very much (cute as it may be for a baby).

As far as colors, I think it would be great to have a variety, to match various outfits, so please use whatever yarn you have on hand! (Except probably fun fur--I'm sure errant fibers would find their way into her lungs, which is a no-no.)

I also have some exciting news--two awesome bloggy friends of mine have offered additional prizes for this giveaway! Deirdre, over at Confessions of a Clumsy Knitter, has a kit from A Verb for Keeping Warm for a lucky winner, and Leann, who dyes up gorgeous yarn for her Etsy shop, Forbidden Woolery, is offering up a skein of yarn for a prize winner as well. So, boom, your odds of winning just increased!

Thanks again everyone, and keep spreading the word!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Help! I need somebody!

It's a crazy, crazy life I'm leading these days, most of which I don't share on the blog, just because I view it as a bit of an escape to write about knitting and yarn and nothing too serious or mentally taxing. (Although, yarn is serious business. But you know what I mean.)

But I'm making an exception today because I want to ask for your help.

My family recently received both good and bad news. The bad news was that my mom's throat cancer has returned. The good news is that it hasn't spread to her lungs (some spots found there were leftover from her bout with pneumonia earlier this year), so we're still just dealing with cancer in the throat now.

As she has already undergone a round of radiation and chemotherapy, her best hope for treatment now is surgery, specifically a laryngectomy, removal of the larynx. Most of us would refer to our larynx as the voicebox, so as you can imagine, once they take that out, no more voice--after healing, laryngectomees have to re-learn how to talk through other means. This procedure also means rerouting the trachea, so my mom will no longer breath through her mouth and nose, but instead, out of a hole in her throat.

(Yes, a hole in her throat. If this isn't an excellent PSA for not smoking, I don't know what is. Seriously, quit it right now.)

This gaping hole in the throat can be, well, a little horrific to look at. It also poses a risk because debris can get in there much more easily than it can you nose or mouth--unless you're one of those people who never shuts their mouth, which kinda describes my mom, but is really a different issue.

So mom needs stoma covers. This is where you guys come in.

I'm asking you to make stoma covers and send them to me. Knit, crochet or sewn. Cowls. Scarves. Bibs. Ascots. Basically anything that can be worn around the lower part of the neck to cover the stoma. (You'll find a few pattern ideas at the bottom of the page here, but hey, this is a great time to be creative!) Cotton is recommended because it breathes, but a soft wool knit at a looser gauge should work too. And I'm sure mom would appreciate a little flair--nothing too industrial looking.

I know we're all busy with our many (many, many) projects--I hate to ask you to take a break from your regularly-scheduled crafting to make odd neckwear items for a stranger you've never met. But your efforts will certainly be most appreciated (especially by me, as I'll go insane if I try to make my mom 20 stoma covers all by my lonesome). And to express my thanks, I'm going to offer you a little treat. Everyone who sends me a stoma cover will be entered into a drawing to win this:


That's a skein of Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin in Neptun. That's how much this means to me, I'm going to voluntarily give away Wollmeise. And I'll include a sock pattern of your choosing (from those available for purchase online) to go along with it.

ETA: Exciting news--two awesome bloggy friends of mine have offered additional prizes for this giveaway! Deirdre, over at Confessions of a Clumsy Knitter, has a kit from A Verb for Keeping Warm for a lucky winner, and Leann, who dyes up gorgeous yarn for her Etsy shop, Forbidden Woolery, is offering up a skein of yarn for a prize winner as well. So, boom, your odds of winning just increased!

I'll leave it open until, hmmm, August 17, that's my mom's birthday (of course, anyone who wants to send covers after that date certainly can, but I can't let the giveaway go on indefinitely, because that would defeat the purpose). If you want to send a cover, email me at kristen dot jancuk at and I'll send my mailing address. (Get well cards and notes for mom are also encouraged, but not mandatory.)

Thanks in advance for your support, and please, share this with all the crafters you know!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shelter from the Storm

I just discovered an enormous roach in the ladies' room here at the office--and I'm from Baltimore, I've seen roaches the size of small mice before, so when I say enormous, I mean it. It was lurking silently on the back of a toilet, just waiting to attack. I sure hope I don't have to use the restroom for the rest of the afternoon--he could easily sneak to another toilet. Perhaps I'll be trudging down to the 7th floor to use their presumably-roach-free bathroom.

As you might expect, I did not intend to post about roaches on my blog today, but I'm just so grossed out, I had to share. You're welcome!

So let's move on to what I really came here to tell you about, which is knitting. And yarn.


Pattern: Ribbed Baby Jacket, by Debbie Bliss
Size: 6-9 months
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Almanac, just under 2 skeins
Rav link

There are many babies in my life these days--4 friends have babies, and 3 are currently pregnant--but this actually wasn't knit for any of those babies or soon-to-be babies specifically. I was looking for a small project to use up the 3 skeins of Shelter I bought, and thought this would fit the bill nicely (although in the end, it actually only used 2 skeins, so I have a random skein leftover and now need to find yet another project calling for 140 yds of worsted weight). Since people are always having babies--and I might try it eventually myself--there's always plenty of use for a small sweater.

The pattern is very straight forward, and there is minimal seaming. The only modification I made was to add button loops, because I loved the look of lauraleeknitter's sweater. I used some buttons I purchased a couple years ago, 2 of which had already made their way onto my Every Way Wrap. With all said and done, the sweater looks a little manly with the tweedy, rustic yarn, but I think it would work for a girl as well.


(Don't you love my coffee table? It's the Hunter Trunk from Crate and Barrel and I want to marry it. I dream of filling it with cozy, handknit blankets for the winter.)

What I really want to tell you guys about is the yarn. Brooklyn Tweed / Jared Flood debuted this yarn somewhat recently, and it's exactly what you'd expect from him, after looking at his projects. Worsted weight, rustic, 100% wool, a little scruffy, very home-y. It was a little rough to knit with, but softened up a bit after washing (still, I probably wouldn't wear it around my neck--too scratchy for my taste). The stitches came out fairly even, but it still has that slightly homespun look, which doesn't work for everything, but I think plays out well in this project.

Being 100% wool, I thought this would spit-splice well, but for some reason, I could not get it to felt. I don't know what I was doing wrong, as plenty of Ravelry users have waxed poetic about the ease with which it felts, so I'll assume user error on my part. Maybe I wasn't spitty enough.

My only complaint is breakage. Even with this small project done in one piece, several seams had to be sewn, and the yarn broke numerous times, which was very frustrating (particularly because of my aforementioned inability to spit-splice the yarn). Seaming does generally involve a little tugging and pulling, particularly with a rougher yarn, and this just wasn't up to it. For that reason, I would hesitate to recommend this yarn for any project done in pieces, or with multiple seams--seaming is generally unpleasant enough without adding yarn breakage into the equation. But I bet it would be lovely for a warm, cozy blanket, if you can swing the price ($12/skein).

Incredibly, in addition to this sweater I finished 2 other projects during the last week of June, so I'll probably be a real chatterbox this week. Stay tuned!