Travel Food

After more years than I want to count, I’m finally taking a true and proper vacation. Going Greyhound to Arizona to see my BFF, Tina. She of the life scarf.

Friends since the 5th grade.

If my readership is like most people I’ve told about this trip, about 3/4 of you will make a polite face and wonder why I’m taking the bus instead of a plane, and about 1/4 of you will think it sounds cool and fun.

For the dissenting majority, here’s why I’m taking the bus:

  1. I have more time than money. A bus trip is more than half the price of a flight, including the ticket and any shuttles I’d have to take.
  2. I don’t like to fly. I ain’t skeered; just not interested.
  3. One of my favorite bloggers, James Altucher, says that he wants his life to resemble a book of stories rather than a textbook. That’s how I’ve always thought, but his description puts it best. A long bus trip is going to create many more stories than a boring old plane ride.
  4. When I think about escaping the relentless Texas heat and moving somewhere that supports my wooly wardrobe, I look west. This trip will turn the map into the territory.
  5. And this quote, which I wrote in one of my journals many years ago (and which explains why I’ll do just about anything to earn money, save getting a 9-5):

It is easy to make life and career decisions based solely on financial concerns and to conform your life to the contours of whatever job will pay the most money. That is what most of us Americans are culturally programmed to do. However, if you put the money factor aside, shift your mental frame of reference, and instead analyze your life in terms of the plot of a novel, the results of your analysis will most likely change. Imagine that you are on a long train ride and must choose one of two books to read in order to pass the time: the first is a novel whose main character is an office worker who is essentially working to pay his monthly cable bill; the second is about someone who decides to travel in South America (and of course encounters various setbacks in the process), but who pushes beyond the boundaries of conventional American life. Which book would you pick up to read? Indeed, which of the two characters would you rather be? |-Mark Thompson-|

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto the subject of this post, which is travel food, which for a knitter is: knitting.

The trip out there is 25+ hours and the trip back home is 28+, assuming, of course, that the buses run according to schedule.

I waited until the second-to-last minute to figure out what to take, and came up with two projects that are portable, almost mindless, and will be easy to pick up and put down in case I need to stop knitting to take photos of jackrabbits in the desert, or in case Keanu Reeves boards the bus in El Paso and he wants to talk.

The first is the Baby Kimono by Kristin Spurkland from Interweave Knits Summer 2005.

(c)Interweave Knits

It calls for DK weight yarn, which I’m always sorry I don’t have more of in my stash. So I’m using worsted weight yarn, some Berocco Comfort of which I have just enough* for this little jacket done entirely in garter stitch.

I cast on last night and knit a few rows to get started. My gauge doesn’t match, but eh, if I finish it, and if a baby ever wears it, it probably won’t matter.

No baby will be harmed in the making of this kimono.

If I tire of knitting every row, I can throw in some purling with my second project—Citron by Hilary Smith Callis from Knitty Winter 2009.

(c)Hilary Smith Callis

The pattern calls for lace weight yarn, but I’m using a fingering weight like I did the first time I knit it. I used Knit Picks Comfort in blackberry.

I loved it the first time.

This time, it’s hollyberry.

The stockinette adventure begins.

Catch y’all on the flip side.


*I should have just enough yarn, but with the way my luck goes sometimes…

To Ponder: See above.

High-Low-Yo

My gambling friends will know that high-low-yo is a one-roll bet in craps. You say it as one word as you fling a chip into the center of the table, but you’re making three bets: one bet on the highest roll of the dice (twelve, aka, boxcars or midnight), one bet on the lowest roll (two, aka, aces or snake eyes (which no legit craps player calls it ever)), and one bet on eleven.

Never happens.

Never happens when you want it to and always when you don’t.

It’s a stupid bet* because crap dice (the high-low part) rarely come up (the payout odds are 30:1). Unless, of course, a hot shooter has been hitting numbers for an hour and you start feeling like you can’t lose so you make unnecessarily high bets on the come out rolls. That’s when those evil twins ride up on their Harleys, trailing their dangerous cousin, ace-deuce, and the croupier’s call changes from, “Winner; pay the line,” to “Crap dice; line away.” But did you cover your high line bet with a craps bet? No. You were flush and cocky, thinking that today’s the day you were going to make up for all those other days.

You already know that I gambled on the Hermosa Tee I was knitting up for my sister-in-law, and ran out of yarn half-way through the front.

Just my luck.

I should have covered that bet by ordering more yarn from Knit Picks, but what are the odds that they would send me the same dye lot as the original yarn? At least 50:1.**

So I did the equivalent of walking away from the craps table. I bound off (binded off?) and turned it into a high-low asymmetrical hem.

This tee is so tiny, I had to photograph it on my half-mannequin.

Yo.


*I agree: all bets are stupid.

**Don’t forget we’re talking about me and my luck, so let’s amend those odds to 100:1.

To Ponder: The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil. |-Heywood Hale Broun-|

Finito: Stormy Cables

Back when I was still in my forties, I started knitting a cabled sweater. Something to keep my hands occupied when I wasn’t working on an original design.

When I was close to finishing, it got set aside, as knitting projects do, then eventually buried beneath other projects on the love seat situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in my office in Pompeii.*

I think I stopped working on this Stormy Cables pullover because I was going to have to make some decisions about the neckline—decisions I wasn’t ready for, owing to both laziness and the fact that I was busy working on a complex cabled sweater design (which itself has been set aside due to 100% laziness about making decisions about the neckline).

The street I live on.

A few weeks ago, I dug Stormy out of the rubble and discovered that the neckline looked pretty good, and I had set it aside when it was just about done.  I needed to work only a few more rows and bind off the neck, sew closed the underarms, and weave in all the ends. At most three hours of work, but probably closer to two.

So, I set it aside again.**

Two weeks later, I finished the neckline and bound off. (Binded off? I should know this.)

And then I read a few books, planned a trip to visit my BFF, sold a few things on eBay, taught my 3,000th yoga class, watched the first four episodes of Miss Fisher, celebrated Easter, binge-watched the entire fourth season of Haven, and filed my quarterly sales tax report.

Then a few hours ago, I had this.

Woven in (weaved in?) ends.

And then I had this.

My new Christmas sweater.

My new Christmas sweater.

I love this almost as much as I loved screwing around for months and months since I started it. Can I count this as an accomplishment even though it took me two years to finish?

More pictures on my Ravelry project page.


*I considered posting a picture of the burial ground, but I embarrass myself enough accidentally without doing it on purpose and on the internets.

**Surely you saw that coming.

To Ponder: Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything. |-Joe Rogan-|

WIP: Hermosita Tee

Soon after my Hermosa Tee came out, I had lunch with my brother and sister-in-law.

Aw.

I wore my prototype of the t-shirt and brought along my copy of Vogue Knitting’s Spring 2016 issue in which Louet had placed an ad for the pattern collection that included my design.

It’s just an ad, but probably the only time my name will appear as a designer in Vogue Knitting.

My SIL really liked* my new design, and my brother asked me to knit one for her.

In my stash is every color of yarn in the known universe (even lime green)—except, of course, the particular shade of purple she wanted, so I had to order some.

I knew that Knit Picks had lots of shades of purple in the fiber I wanted to use (cotton blend) and yarn weight I needed (sport), so I sent them three to choose from.

Three strikes.

What other purples are there, they wanted to know.

Nope, nope, and nope.

Not quite what they had in mind, they said. Anything else?

Jeez.

“One more,” I wrote, “but it’s 100% acrylic. It will be soft, but not as soft as the other two that are cotton blends.”

Knit Picks Brava Sport in freesia.

Soft shmoft, acrylic shmacrylic. That’s the color she wanted.

When the yarn arrived, I was in the midst of swatching for a new design, and I ended up knitting an entirely different this-exact-color-purple t-shirt for my SIL.

But the skeins of Brava Sport are so generous and my SIL is so tiny that I had enough yarn left over to knit her a this-exact-color-purple Hermosa Tee.

The back.

Well, almost enough yarn.

Uh-oh.


*By “really liked” I mean that she saw it and said, “That’s nice.” She’s not one to gush.

To Ponder: Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions. When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need. |-Richard G. Scott-|

Nothing for Miles

When I first started this blog, I had tons of stuff to say. I’ve been knitting seriously since high school, designing for a few years, and have had strong thoughts, beliefs, and opinions since birth. I have cultivated the skill of being able to talk to anyone about anything—whether it be a friend’s metal clayworking class or my brother’s new pistol or a librarian’s suddenly overpriced neighborhood.

I doubted I would ever run out of things to say about knitting, and if I did, I had other things to write about, like yoga and stupid stuff in the news. And if that ran out, new situations would come into my life, like a schizophrenic neighbor who has covered her house in foil as a shield against the radio frequency waves and “energy balls” I’m hurling at her.

But lately, I can’t think of a single thing to say. Not just about knitting, but about anything.

Well, I can think of stuff to say, but it’s boring. Like recently I noticed that four of the last 10 patterns I’ve published have used a lime green yarn, which seems impossible because I don’t even like that color.

Not even a picture can make this interesting.

This blog post is so boring, I can’t believe I spent time on it, and I’ll probably delete it later. It doesn’t even have a point.

Sorry.


To Ponder: I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else. |-Kurt Cobain-|

Decision: Garter Scarf by Knit Picks

Last night I got an email from Knit Picks about my garter stitch submission.

It was a day early, which often means acceptance.

Not this time.

In the email, the editor wrote: “This was easily the largest amount of submissions we have received for a collection and the decision was incredibly difficult.”

Her rejection emails always say “the decision was incredibly difficult,” and I imagine her and the acquisition team staying awake from the submission deadline to the decision deadline, drinking urns of coffee and eating their collective weight in donuts, finally emerging from their war room in need of a bath, a hairbrush, and a detox.

More likely, one of them sends a group text with, “I like this,” and a someone else responds, “Me too. Where are we going for lunch?”

Since everyone and their yoga instructor are knitting garter stitch these days, I’ll keep submitting.

For the nonce, let’s comfort ourselves with a little Keanu.

To Ponder: It is the studying that you do after your school days that really counts. Otherwise, you know only that which everyone else knows. |-Henry Doherty-|

Voilà: Hermosa Tee

Snow and freezing temps are still high on the list of things to think about for most people, but for knitters, it’s time to start thinking about spring and summer projects.

How about my new Hermosa Tee?

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

If you care to remember, I’ve had this design knocking on submission doors for quite a while. When so many doors are slammed, it’s easy to get discouraged and think, “It’s not them, it’s me.” And when that happens, I’ll sometimes set aside a design, and I’ll sometimes never pick it back up. Not even to self-publish it.

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

But this time, I knew it was them, not me, and I kept submitting one more time.*

Then last year, the yarn company Louet North America opened their door.

And today, the little tee that I never gave up on (er, sorry Winston…on which I never gave up), is one of 12 patterns in Louet’s Spring 2016 Collection.

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

The pattern calls for Louet’s Euroflax linen sport weight yarn, but you could use any sport weight yarn in any fiber.


*It’s always them.

To Ponder: Success in any endeavor does not happen by accident. Rather, it’s the result of deliberate decisions, conscious effort, and immense persistence…all directed at specific goals. |-Gary Ryan Blair-|

Submission: Garter Scarf to Knit Picks

For various and sundry reasons, I haven’t been knitting or designing much lately, but thanks to gentle prompts by my accountability partner I’ve only mostly been neglecting knitting rather than completely neglecting it.

Part of that neglect has been ignoring all the recent calls for submissions, but on Valentine’s Day, I looked at two calls that Knit Picks put out a few weeks ago. One was for items that take less than 200 grams of yarn, the other for garter stitch items.

Since the deadline was the next day and I wasn’t sure I could come up with one idea, never mind two, and since I’m always all about doing the easiest thing and with garter stitch you knit every row, I started knitting every row.

Garter stitch isn’t the most exciting stitch on the books, and it always manages to scream “new knitter,” but it seems like the knitting world is in love with it all of a sudden.

From the call:

“Celebrate it with garments and accessories in weights from fingering to super bulky and a neutral palette with pops of color. Garter stitch is the main point of interest, and clever, engaging construction is a must! Bonus points for unusual shapes or if the project is knit entirely in garter.”

I found a lot of that to be oxymoronic as it applies to garter stitch, but I gave it a shot.

I tried this and that, which is hard to do when you can’t even purl, and nothing was happening for a couple of hours. But then I added a second color and a little bit of magic, and blimey, I had something that looked like checks on one side and stripes on the other. And it had clever, engaging construction and pops of color, and was knit entirely in garter. And it hardly even looked like garter stitch (read: not ugly).

The next day, Monday, deadline day, I knit up a swatch using colors from the call, wrote up the proposal, and sent ‘er in.

Knit Picks doesn’t drag their feet when it comes to decisions so I’ll get a yay or nay on Friday. Send up some prayers for me, yeah?

To Ponder: When the solution is simple, God is answering. |-Albert Einstein-|