It's late at night, and we've been home long enough from the beach for the house to cool down to a fairly manageable temperature... so of course I'm doing a last blog posting before going to bed. Here, for your reading pleasure, are my responses to the Secret Pal 11 Questionnaire. Enjoy reading, dear SP, as well as any of the rest of you bored enough to get through it.
1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
No one will ever call me a yarn snob - I have been known (recently, even) to knit with the most heinous of novelty furs. However, lately I find myself moving towards the cottons and cotton blends. I am allergic/sensitive to wool, and find that it makes my hands hurt if I use it too much. However, I'm tired of kitchen cotton, and am looking for some of the more interesting plant fibers to play with. I prefer things that are machine washable (I can handle Dry Flat), since most of what I knit is children's clothing. Note: I'm flexible and like to experiment. My first published pattern was for a tote bag made out of sliced up grocery bags. I'm seriously thinking of buying a bunch of colored T-shirts from the local Goodwill to make into a rug for the back hall...
2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? Oh, this is embarrassing. Can I say "Nothing."? In reality, I keep most of them in an old wooden sewing box that my grandmother gave me. Given that most of my needles are inherited from her, this makes some sense. They're all jumbled in there, and it's a good thing I've got three needle sizers, because otherwise I'd never know what was what. Needle organization is the Next Big Knitting Project after stash depletion.
3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? My mother taught me how to knit in 1985 when we were living in Germany. I have gone on to teach myself a lot of skills that she's not interested in touching (though she's much better at colorwork than I am). I consider myself advanced, though I prefer knitting things in the intermediate zone - much of my knitting is done on the bus so it has to be manageable in substandard conditions.
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes. And it's full of knitting books and books about conspiracy theory - like the Da Vinci Code but of actual literary value. Except for one book titled The Yard, which is a trash novel set at Harvard.
5. What's your favorite scent? I like vanilla best, also lavender and citrus. Also apple. More of a fruits and herbs girl than floral. However, my husband claims he's allergic to heavily scented things, so please no candles - soap and lotion are good.
6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I do have a serious problem resisting chocolate. I'm nearly always on a diet, though, so please, only in moderation (and only if it's REALLY good).
7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I garden. Mainly I like to grow herbs, and dry them for herbal stuff (bath soaks, aromatherapy, etc.). My sage keeps dying, though, which is bad... anyhoo. We've managed to paint most of the rooms of our house, and I'm working on curtains for several rooms (sewn). The question of whether I spin is a difficult one. I own a drop spindle and have been known to occasionally play with it. Whether what I produce could be called "yarn" is the problem... I'd love to learn how, but this is not the year to do so. I'm starting to think seriously about learning how to dye yarns, though I don't really know what I'd do with them once done.
8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I like Peter Gabriel, Sting, U2's 80s stuff, and Herbert Groenemeyer (German pop musician). Lately I've discovered the Decembrists. I like Lorena McKennitt (sp?), Enya, and Sarah McLachlan. 80s music is always a good bet. I also love English Choral music - my all time favorite music is Christmas carols - not the sappy kind you get in the mall but the kind a really good church choir would actually sing at the midnight Christmas service. I sing these to the DD at night when she's sick, year round. Things like "I Sing of a Maiden," "The Salutation Carol," "Sing Lullaby," "Once in Royal David's City." And yes, I'm a soprano.
9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? My favorite color is that really intense cobalt blue that is also the color of sapphires. I also love purple (amethyst), green (emerald), and red (ruby). I dislike pink, orange, and yellow. I generally prefer the darker tones to pastels, though in combination they are often lovely. Carolina blue is also a special color - though difficult to approximate. Generally a baby blue is a good guess.
10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? This cracks me up every time I see it. I assume you want this: I am married and have one child (though more are a possibility; we'll see if they become a reality). We have no actual pets, although the DD gets mad when I say that - as far as she's concerned her large collection of stuffed animals are our pets. There is a strong possibility that we'll be getting a fish for Christmas. I have, in my life, had two dogs, four fish (one of whom lived 7 years!), and a hedgehog. I am a librarian and the DH is an attorney. My brother and sister in law live very close by. My DD has an additional 8 or so women whom she calls "Aunt" and maybe 3 or 4 men who are "Uncle" (and who are not related to us).
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? If it will ever get cold enough to want to venture outside clothed, I suppose I could be persuaded to put on one scarf, hat, or pair of mittens at a time (caution: I have tiny hands and usually have to buy child sized gloves/mittens). I honestly have never worn a poncho b/c I've never bought/made/been given one - though the one I made for the DD last year may be the cutest thing ever.
12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I really like making bags. Also hats. Knitting in the round is one of the most fabulous things ever - particularly when I can do it on one or two circular needles. I am not fond of the double-pointed needle.
13. What are you knitting right now? That said, right now I am nearly done with a pair of socks. On double-points. I am new to sock knitting, as I live in a climate where one would rather go barefoot than anything else (it's going to be 101F on Wednesday!). I'm trying out short-row heels, but could not get gauge to the pattern I had (I substituted yarns) and so am striking out into new territory with the aid of a tape measure and a calculator. The finished products (one is done) look relatively like socks, though the cuff is a lot shorter than I meant it to be. It would have helped if the designated sock giftee had responded to the several requests for foot measurements that I sent, but she'll just have to be grateful for what she gets at this point. I'm hoping she has feet the size of the Yeti's. I think this is more than I was supposed to write for this question.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes. (There. Average that with #13.)
14a. What kind? (I added this so as to allow 14 to average nicely with 13). I'm always interested in things that surprise - so relatively dull projects like scarves, hats, socks, bags that are done in an interesting way are very fun for me. I'm a huge fan of stitch patterns. I love bookmarks, pillows, bags, stuff that is not necessarily garment type things. I also almost never knit for myself (with the exception of bags. love the bags). If you send me something handmade, PLEASE include a note about how you made it, how you got the idea, what you used, a pattern if you can share it, etc. I'm just as excited in process (no matter how simple) as I am in product. I'm not doing this to get stuff, but rather to meet interesting people and get ideas about interesting projects. I'd much rather you spent your time and money making things than buying candy, soap, etc., unless what you find is somehow special to you/your area/your project. Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but after all I can pick up gum in the supermarket here...
15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I pretty much only knit on circulars. Bus knitting is not conducive to straights - you poke people and risk dropping one. I like aluminum, but maybe that's because that's what I own - oh, and the only pair of bamboos that I ever bought split something nasty. I teach with straights, whatever I can dig out of the Needle Box.
16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? I own - and use - a ball winder (heh heh, ball winder). I do not own a swift - that's what the DH is for.
17. How old is your oldest UFO? I'm very proud to report that my oldest UFO is less than a year old. It's the brim to a 2-yarn hat. You knit the brim in garter stitch, sideways, join it, then pick up stitches along one side of the cylinder to form the crown. I've got the yarn for the crown but don't have someone to knit it for, though I'm thinking of finishing it this month for the Hats with Heart drive at the hospital.
18. What is your favorite holiday? Hard one. I love Thanksgiving because it's all about being around the people you love and giving thanks for them. Also, it's unabashedly about food. And no one expects you to knit them anything. We usually celebrate the various secular American holidays (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day) with what has come to be known as "ritual burning of meat" - barbecuing - which I really enjoy because a bunch of friends come over, we enjoy each others' company, and we eat lots of food. Note I'm leaving out Christmas. I love Christmas, but in a goody-goody way that I don't really want to try to explain here. I'm an Episcopalian, and we're generally uncomfortable talking about our faith. It and Easter are deeply meaningful for me in a way that Hallmark can't touch (and you cannot break it, not with a thousand... cards?). In my mind the secular holidays are very much different from the religious ones, and it's hard to pick a favorite between them... I do love turkey, though, so it'll probably be Thanksgiving.
19. Is there anything that you collect? Yarn? Books about knitting? Interesting herb plants? Good modern fiction? Um. I used to collect hedgehog figurines, but that phase is pretty much over. I'm always on the lookout for new yarn and interesting books/magazines about knitting.
20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? See my Amazon list for books. I'd love to try some bamboo yarn - or other non-cotton plant-based yarn. I subscribe to Interweave Knits (love it!), but mainly use it for inspiration more than anything else. I'd love to get single issues of some of the others out there - if only to see if they publish stuff like what I like to design.
21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Toe-up socks. Actually, figuring out flap-heel socks might also be a good thing, seeing as most of the world doesn't seem to have my love for short-row heels...
22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I am capable of knitting socks, though I cannot call myself a Sock Knitter. 8.25" around the ball of the foot; 9" from back of heel to tip of big toe. It's 7" from the ankle bone to tip of big toe. Note: I cannot wear wool or other animal fibers!
According to Ravelry: "You are #19980 on the list. 11889 people are ahead of you in line. 3319 people are behind you in line." I believe it'll be a while before I get invited. Apparently I forgot to sign up back in the spring when I heard about it, and just got around to it when I read about Cass getting in...
23. When is your birthday? March. If you are my Secret Pal and desperately need more data, let me know.
24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?