Thursday, February 15, 2007

Secret Pal 10 and KidSilk Haze Knit-along

It's been a while since I participated in any swaps, so as a new year's resolution I thought I'd get back on that track as well. Secret Pal round 10 has just started, or actually you can join until February 28. You'll find the instructions here. For once I haven't left things to the last minute; here are my answers, although there are a couple of points I'll add later.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I'm easy to please. To me it's more about the colours, the texture, the possibilities of an interesting yarn than its material. Having said that, I can't bring myself to knit 100 % squeaky acrylic yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have several places to hi…keep them in: metallic boxes for crocheting hooks, a felted hanging thingy for circular needles, an embroidered canvas case for straight needles. And just last year I bought a Namaste bag which I really like but somehow that's about the only place where I don't keep needles in.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
It's been 30-odd years, and I just can't pinpoint a moment when I learnt how to do it – it was something which was always there in my family. My mother was always busy making something, and my late father knew how to knit, too. I was 11 when I wore something I'd made by myself in a school photo, so that's the first piece of evidence which can be dated. However, there was a lengthy period of time when I didn't knit at all. – Skill level? Fearless intermediate or modest advanced.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
There should be one on And you know my name, dear secret pal, you can search with it, but I don't want to put it here on public display. Also, I really don't expect you to send anything from that list - it just gives an idea of the type of books I like.

5. What's your favorite scent?

Fresh, green apples. (Therefore I've stocked up all the different DKNY 'Be Delicious' items I could find in Belgium, but there aren't too many of them.)

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I wouldn't say no. Again, green apple and cinnamon tickle my taste buds.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
If you have a look around this blog, you'll find that I certainly like to experiment with things. Crocheting, dyeing, cross-stitching, felting, spinning: been there, done that. Last year I even made a basic yarn swift. It's not pretty but it's working. - I do spin with a drop spindle but don't enjoy it too much. Occasionally I succeed in creating colour combinations which I really like but somehow the whole exercise doesn't seem to be worth the effort. I don't have enough time for knitting, so how could I find time to first spin the yarn, then knit it? (and then spin some more because it's likely to run out)

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
CD should be ok, don't know about MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
You're probably desperate by now, but again I'd have to say I don't have any special favourites (come on woman, you keep slipping off your secret pal's fingers). If I had to name a few favourites, I'd go for red, purple and green. Blue shades are the only no-no I can think of, and I'm not big on glitter either. Oh, and I prefer strong colours to pastels.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
My family situation is good. No-one is complaining about the amount of yarn. I live alone - due to my working hours (and a hint of allergy), I can't keep any pets. I would like to have a cat or a dog but that's not possible right now.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
When it's cold enough, yes. Of this category, hats and ponchos are the rarest.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Lately it's been a variation of shawls. Easy to wear, nice for swatching some patterns and perfect for getting rid of a few remaining balls of yarn.

13. What are you knitting right now?

This year I set myself a target of finishing one big, challenging project a month and then I got stuck with the first one. After I finish (and I WILL finish, darn it) I'll start making a sweater with cables, twisted stitches, some simple lace and to top it off, there'll be some oak leaves on the front. And not to make things too simple, the pattern is from a Japanese knitting book. In March it'll be something else. Don't want to jinx it, so just watch this space.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Why not. Isn't that what we all do? Show me your creativity!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Me likes circular bamboo (or rosewood/ebenholz) - anything you are allowed to take with you on a plane.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, both, and thank goodness for these timesavers!

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Now, why is this question here? We're not swapping UFOs, are we? I recently dug up something that has been buried since 1986-87 or so. Embarrassing. But it still looks good, I just ran out of yarn back then. And what a surprise, the yarn is still extinct so I might as well rip it.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I guess you mean the traditional holidays like Christmas. Since I don't have any children, these occasions don't feel so special to me and I don't make any special arrangements for them. What I really enjoy are the few weeks in the summertime when I can leave behind the hustle and bustle of Brussels go back to my home country. Spending some time in a clean, quiet environment is essential.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Other than yarn? Not actively, no. I do hold a fondness towards sunflower items, though.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to Vogue Knitting, a Finnish knitting magazine called Moda, 'Handarbeit zonder grenzen' in Dutch, and when visiting Germany, I buy a lot of special local issues like doily knitting or knitted animals. - Somehow I missed the Holiday issue 2006 of Vogue Knitting. Interweave Knitting is nowhere to be found in Belgium, and since they charged me twice for a subscription and then compromised my credit card details so that I had to annul my Visa card, I just won't make another subscription. That doesn't stop me from occasionally wanting to buy an issue.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Twined knitting is something I've never tried. Too bad that the book I have on the subject is in Japanese. And in 'Knitting for anarchists' Anna Zilboorg describes a perfect buttonhole. Should find some time to practice that.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Usually I have a small knitting project with me everywhere I go, and sock knitting is just perfect when commuting. My size is about 37 1/2 - US size 7 (sole length about 24 centimetres / 9.5 inches).

23. When is your birthday?
Let's just say that it doesn't happen during the lifespan of SP10 (I'm a Scorpio).


And while we're on the subject of getting involved, joined a KAL which concentrates on items made of Rowan's KidSilk Haze or equivalent. I did this in anticipation of the days getting longer and brighter so that the combination of black yarn and Japanese knitting symbols wouldn't be quite so daunting. There's just a small matter of finishing the previous Japanese project I have on hand and then the journey will begin.


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