Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tidings of Cashmere and Joy

Master of Deception

That's what some boarding school contemporaries called me this fall when we got together at an impromptu mini-reunion in Berkeley and we swapped stories of adolescent misbehavior. They'd had no idea I'd been up to such deviant things - but the only difference between me and them was that I never got caught.

I used that skill while putting together a Christmas gift for my husband. It was a stealth project all the way.

Purty, huh?
Jasmin (stealth-enabler of the highest degree) did the actual fiber purchase - it's cashmere roving from Crown Mountain and the exchange reminded me of a crack sale (or so I imagine - I misbehaved in high school but it never involved crack) - she slipped me the fiber only after I slipped her the cash - unmarked bills, dark of night, etc. She also taught me how to spin cashmere which isn't easy as it has a really short staple. Step one was to try spinning cotton - which really SUCKS. I did that for an hour at which point she switched me over to the cashmere and in comparison that was pretty easy.
For the next 5 weeks or so it was all lies, lies, lies. 'I'm going to knit night', 'The knitting's going slowly', 'I'm knitting at Jasmin's house' - well I really did go to the places I said I was, I was just hauling my wheel all over town and spinning instead (which is why the knitting was going slowly - I wasn't doing it). Fortunately my husband left for a week-long business trip in early December, which allowed me to finish the spinning before April '08.
To make a strong yarn, I cabled it - I made two strands of two-ply, then plied them together . Here's the finished yarn - about 300 yards of worsted-weight:

And a close-up:

It took me 6 weeks to spin the yarn and one day to knit this:

Just a simple knit one row, K1 P1 on the next. I ended up with about 6 feet of heavy, soft luxurious scarf.

Things I learned about cashmere:

1) People will try to steal it from you in any form - non-spinners will even attempt to walk off with roving, it's that soft and fabulous. Watch your cashmere at all times. And be very suspicious if one of your fellow knitters suddenly appears to have grown an extra boob.

2) Even the damn dog will try to steal your cashmere. When I finally sat down to knit, Riso hopped on the couch next to me, grabbed the cake of cashmere and set it between his paws. We had to have a little talk after that one. Apparently he likes the scarf too:

3) Even I try to steal the cashmere. Brian wore the scarf all day yesterday - but I did manage to lift it from him a few times to 'make sure it worked'. He had to ask for it back. So apparently I can't even be trusted.

You know what's really too bad? I have a little roving left over - I might be able to make myself a neck warmer or something. Poor me.

So the Christmas Deception was a success. I just hope he doesn't start worrying about how freakin' easy it was for me to hide something from him. (Nope, those aren't shallow graves in our back yard, they're gardens, I swear!)

Trouble apparently got all stressed out by the underhanded goings-on in our house:

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas or whatever it is you do/don't celebrate! Here's another one of my holiday traditions - Orange Hazelnut Biscotti. It's Brian's recipe but lately I've been the one doing the baking. Some of them will get a little chocolate coating as soon as I can make it back into the kitchen.

Brian made those for dessert when he had me over to his house on our first date. I had just started chemotherapy, and he sent me home with some extras, telling me that they had healing powers. Four healthy years later, I do believe he was right about that.


Anonymous said...

It turned out gorgeous! I love subterfuge in gift giving, way more fun. :)

And that might just be the cutest little dog bum I've ever seen.

Northside Knitter said...


It is even more lovely than you described while you were in the deceptive spinning phase. The scarf is the ultimate "made with love" handmade gift. congratulations on completing it without DH getting suspicious.


~Donna~ said...

Don't you just love stealth knitting? Altho I must admit, it's a lot easier to stealth knit when your Honey is 5k miles away...but still...he did ask why no knitting was showing up on the blog...

Oh, and the biscotti looks so yummy!

Twisted Stitches said...

Fantastic! Beautiful! Bravo! But it still doesn't make me want to spin :)

Bogie said...

You did a wonderful job, congratulations!

Alison said...

That looks lovely. It even looks soft in the photographs. I am proud of secret knitting - but secret spinning takes the game to a whole new level!

Tiny Tyrant said...


And I love that your dogs tries to swipe the yarn. One of mine sits in my lap and tries to chew my dangling cable while I'm knitting if he wants to play.

Lori said...

Beautiful scarf! I can imagine how soft it must be.

Teenuh said...

Awesome job! I love the sneaking around, very cute. Beautiful scarf though, I may have to try to steal it! ;)

Mrs.Q said...

I love successful sneakiness in gift-giving! I had a couple of victories in that area this year...much fun! Though not as complex as yours - congratulations!

renaissancewednesday said...

Hi there - just browsing knitting blogs and thought I'd say hello. :-) Aw, your dog is so cute! I was horrible at secret knitting for Christmas this year - I'd be watching TV with my dad and knitting his hat at the same time, occasionally asking him what the circumference of his head was again. hee.

AlisonH said...

So is that why I haven't seen you at Purlescence the last few times? I promise not to steal it, honest!

That puppy stole the post as well as the cashmere. Too cute.