Judging books by their covers

One of my favorite stores of all times is Half-Price Books. Sometimes I actually can walk out of the store with more money than I had when I entered, but that’s rare. (HPB will buy back your used books, but it’s all a ploy I believe. How can you not turn around and spend the money then and there?) The HPB near my house just moved across the street into a much bigger, nicer storefront. I went with some friends Friday night to browse. I only picked up four books to take home – a copy of “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett (per a friend’s suggestion and my love of the movie), a Dora the Explorer book with a hand puppet (for my niece), a trashy French pulp novel (I always look for chances to practice and improve my poor French) and a copy of Vickie Howell’s “New Knits on the Block” (because it has a pattern for a knitted robot AND a knitted guitar).

Half-Price Books can be hit or miss. They typically do well on popular titles, but specialty books are slim pickings. The knitting section here is larger than the HPB I used to frequent, but the selection isn’t better. Books that end up at HPB are often ones that wouldn’t sell elsewhere – or ones that people liked so little they turned the volumes in for pocket change.

I thought the Vickie Howell book was a real find. Amazon’s selling  it for $11; but HPB’s original price was $6, then marked down to $3. I was less pleased with the other knitting books, however. There were a few I would consider (plus one Debbie Bliss book I already had), but most of the choices were obviously remainders that have no business in anyone’s library unless it’s a historical archive collection. Sometimes you CAN tell a book by it’s cover. So for your amusement, I give you the following:

“Rainbow Knits for Kids”: The poor, poor children.  There should be a legal age limit on variegated ribbon yarns for children’s garments.

“Design and Knit the Sweater of Your Dreams”:  Based on the cover photo, the author’s dream is for all of her clothing to be double her size. Yikes!

“Knitting With Novelty Yarns”: I’m not 100% against novelty yarn; it has its place. This cover explains why so many people do hate it, though.

“Chic Knits”:  There’s nothing chic about this! A furry sweater with a furry scarf? That’s why there’s an unwritten rule that you should only wear one handknit item at a time. You can get away with sets, but don’t overdo it on the yarn.

I saved this one for last, because there may be some controversy. I have to qualify this in that I love some of Kaffe Fassett’s designs, and he certainly has a unique style. This book, however, is certainly showing its age.


Lake Charles native beloved by Houston

debakey building tallI was so sad to hear the news of Dr. Michael DeBakey’s death last Friday. I never had the honor of meeting him, but when driving past one of the many buildings named for him, I’ve always bragged that we were from the same city. Houston did him right, bestowing on DeBakey the prestige of laying in repose in City Hall and then sponsoring a memorial service for him at the new cathedral. More than 1,800 people showed up to bid the surgeon, inventor, statesman and teacher farewell. It was touching to hear the tributes from his friends and colleagues.

 I got to cover the event for the American Press. It’s been a LONG time since I had a front-page byline, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken a photo for Page One. The media presence was amazing both at City Hall on Tuesday and at the church on Wednesday. On Tuesday, I ran into Mayor Roach and other local representatives as I was leaving. On Wednesday, I saw a Lake Charles TV reporter. It was inspiring to see how people from both of Dr. DeBakey’s homes – Lake Charles and Houston – went out of their way to offer condolences to the family and to show respect for the legendary surgeon who changed modern medicine.

More knitting news soon!

Hand Dyed Yarn

A few weekends back, I got to go to Mama Llama’s anniversary party with some other local knitters. You can see all of my pictures here. IMG_3113

Mama Llama’s yarns are beautiful, and she’s such a nice person, too. My goodie bag came with the yarn pictured here. The colorway is “Lunar,” and the yarn is a bamboo blend in a sock weight. It’s soooo soft, and the colors are lovely shades of blue and purple.

Catherine (aka Mama Llama) was telling us about the dyeing process. It doesn’t sound like a cake walk. She said that she showed one friend who was interested in dyeing how she does it, and after all was said and done, the friend looked at her and said, “That seems like a lot of trouble.”

Knitting in general is a lot of trouble, in comparison to buying finished products at least. It seems like we all have processes we enjoy and processes we detest. If you like the act of doing something, it doesn’t seem like work. And that’s how knitting is for me, so it doesn’t seem like trouble (until I drop a stitch or realize I cast on the wrong number of stitches, etc.). I’m not so sure if I could dye my own yarn, or even spin my own yarn. (I have a drop spindle now, and it’s not going so well. I can make something “like” yarn, but I’m not sure what I think of it yet.) We all have our limits of DIY, I guess.

In the spirit of indy hand-dyed yarns, here are the only other two skeins in my stash:
IMG_3114 IMG_3112

“Yes We Can” by Mama E’s C*eye*ber Fiber AND “Audacity” by Black Bunny Fiber (Also see BBF’s new book “Knit So Fine”)

I really like both of these sock weight yarns. “Yes We Can” is fun, and the colors are great. The only reason I frogged the sock was because it was pooling in bad ways. I think it was the pattern and gauge issues, not a yarn problem. I only got “Audacity” a week ago, so I still haven’t figured out just want I want to do with it yet. I’m thinking some sort of lace shawl or something.

I have found my preference is for “semi-solids,” yarns that only have two or three colors painted in large swaths that give you nice big chunky stripes (like my Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock or Mama Llama’s “Lunar”). Yarns with more variegation are fun for some projects, but the random stripiness bothers me sometimes. It can make for some weird patterning. And as I type this, I realize I’m self-contradicting since two of my favorite projects are done in variegated yarn that I LOVE: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Paint. It’s variegation is subtle, though, since the shades are similar and the color swaths are ample.

Neck warmer IMG_3040

This yarn knits like butter, it’s soooo soft. And to bring it all back around, it’s now available in a hand dyed line. Do try out a local indy dyer/spinner, though! These big companies are always going to get enough business, but the super cool artist down the street from you may not!

ETA: Looks like the owner of Black Bunny Fiber has yet another book out that I didn’t know about. And what is it about? Knitting socks with handpainted yarn!

Yarn shop review: Hill Country Weavers

While in Austin for Independence Day, some friends and I stopped by Hill Country Weavers. This yarn store did not disappoint! It’s been awhile since I’ve been overwhelmed by yarn, but it happened here. The store is large, and it feels full, but not too crowded. It has the staples like Debbie Bliss, tons of Noro, Plymouth, Cascade, Berroco, Lorna’s Laces. It also has some stuff that’s harder to find around here: Alchemy, Blue Sky, Claudia Hand Painted, and many expensive, luxury yarns I’ve never seen. I had just heard someone talking about how expensive ox yarn is because of how hard it is to harvest, and then I was able to see it in person; so soft.

HCW has some great bags, too. I was in search for a purse/knitting bag this week. I saw some Namaste bags on display last weekend (more soon), and it made me covetous. It also made me realize how much sense it makes to have a slightly larger purse with room for knitting since I’m so often toting an extra bag just for a small project I keep around to amuse me. Hill Country Weavers had several of the new Namaste bags, but not the one I was interested in. Nor did they carry Jordana Paige.

ETA: I lost the rest of this post. I was trying to fix a link. 😦

Happiness is …


a package from Webs on your front porch!

What’s inside you ask?




All of this yarn has a purpose already. The Noro’s going toward a Sunrise Circle and the Kid Silk Night is going toward a  Christmas present and a lace wrap for me. I’ve been wanting to try Eucalan, and I have a few handwashes waiting already. I got both the lavender and original scents.
As you can tell, I can finally upload pictures again. I still haven’t found my old card reader, but four stores later, I bought a new one. Best Buy only had a $30 version, none in the mall, Target was out, so thank you Fry’s!

I also bought fabric to line my Noro bag today! I can’t wait to finish this project. Stitching those little flowers on has taken longer than I thought. I’m just about done, so lining will be the next step, then handles. I think it’s going to look beautiful.

My husband and I are off to Austin for the Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day!