Thursday, December 29, 2005

Auld Lang Syne

As seen on PumpkinKnits:

Top Five for 2005:

1. New Technique: Cabling without a cable needle takes the top spot because I love cables. More cables, please! Knitting backward gets and honorable mention because it is very useful in some cases.

2. Favorite Finished Object: Very hard for me to pick because I loved at lot of the things I made this year. Let's call it a tie between Grace and Berkshire Breeze. (But Tivoli and Lady Eleanor and Peacock Feathers and the Reversible Rib Shawl were wonderful, too!)

3. Favorite Knit Along: Cable KAL. More cables, please!

4. Favorite Shop: Locally, it's Yarns to Ewe. Cyberly, it's whatever-store-has-the-yarn-I-want-on-sale-right-now.

5: Favorite Tool: My blocking board. Love those straight lines with all the inches marked. An anal knitter's dream.

Resolutions for 2006
(I never made any sort of resolutions before. Knitty ones seem like a good place to start.)

1. Install a zipper into a knitted garment. (I think the first victim will be Marnie MacLean's Dragon Hoodie.)

2. Knit a fair-isle sweater with steeks. I must conquer this fear.

3. Knit more for others. I no longer have place to store the things that I have knitted for myself. I just enjoy knitting for myself too much.

4. Practice budget knitting. I'm probably going to quit my job soon and start up a freelancing business. Peter will not be a full-fledged lawyer until the fall. I will need to learn to curb my spending during our leaner months.

5. Build knitting clientele. Assuming my freelance writing doesn't keep me too busy, I'm want to do more "business" knitting. This fits in well with resolutions 3 and 4.

Meanwhile: Not a tree skirt
Pinwheel Afghan continues to grow. Here it is with 11.75 wedges out of 16 wedges completed. It has gotten to the point where lugging it around is difficult and I have declared it "couch knitting" until it is completed. I'm heading to the in-laws this weekend and will hopefully finish it there. (Assuming that I'm not distracted by Rogue very much.)

Do you see that dark blob behind the tree, just above the top left corner of the blanket? That's Elly sleeping in her cat tree.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Machine Washable Purple Sheepies, part 2

I'm feeling better now. In fact, over the weekend, I felt good enough to sit down and read the directions for Rogue and cast on for the sweater. So here's "before" photo of the Cestari fabric, taken after the "after" photo was taken. See? Nice stitch definition in the washed-out photo.

Not so fuzzy

In the comments for the last entry, Karma asked what detergent I used to wash my purple sheepies. I used Ivory Snow--a supposedly gentle detergent. I'm sure that Ivory Snow is more gentle than the Tide HE that I use for normal loads, but I'm not certain how it compares to something like Kookaburra or Eucalan. However, I have used Ivory Snow for washing many knitted garments with no adverse effects. In fact, I have MACHINE washed several knitted garments, even nonsuperwash woolen garments, on gentle cycle in my fabulous front-loader with no adverse effects. So, the fact that I washed my swatch by using the regular cycle was very stupid of me.

Cordelia asked what about Woolite that makes it special. Honestly, I don't know. I looked at my bottle of Woolite, and it doesn't list the ingredients so I don't know if it is a soap or a detergent. (My guess is that it is some sort of detergent or detergent mixture.) I have been told that Woolite really isn't that s'wonderful, but I have yet to read any concrete proof of that.

Also in the comments, Agnes asked if the yarn is itchy. The short answer is yes. The long answer is very long:

The washed swatch is a little more itchy than Cascade 220 and a little less itchy than Lamb's Pride. This is NOT bunny yarn. It is not Aurora 8 or Cashmerino. I wouldn't want to wear it in a skin-tight sweater, I think it will be fine next to the skin in a looser-fitting sweater. To be honest, I'm surprised at the lack of itchiness in this yarn. I expected a high itch-factor when I ordered it.

I actually put a lot of thought into buying this yarn and I was willing to sacrifice softness for other qualities that I wanted. When I look at Rogue, I see a very rugged sweater. The kind of sweater that you would wear hiking in the woods. Cestari looks rugged. So, (I thought) if I was wearing the sweater to go hiking, it had to be very durable. Cestari claims to be durable. Because the sweater was going to get a work out from all that hiking, it had to be machine washable. Cestari is superwash. Finally, I couldn't ever imagine wearing Rogue without something on underneath. It looks like a sweatshirt to me. I intend to wear it like a sweatshirt. As a result, softness was not high on the priority list when I was selecting this yarn.

Things to know before rushing out to buy this stuff I loooove cables!
* Cestari feels oily or waxy when knitting. I believe this texture exists because the wool is not overly processed and it still has a lot of lanolin in it.
* Cestari yarn feels stiff coming from the skein and the fabric produced is very stiff. However the stiffness goes away when washed.
* Cestari contains a lot of vegetable matter (i.e. pieces of grass). The vegetable matter can be picked out easily, if you wish.
* Ordering directly from Chester Farms can be an adventure. I suggest calling them rather than using their online order form. (However, the toll-free number did not work for me.)
* Cestari is a bargain: 210 yards, worsted weight, 100% superwash wool for $5.99

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Machine Washable Purple Sheepies!

I abused my Cestari swatch. I really abused it. But it didn't felt! At least it didn't felt completely. There was a definite loss of stitch definition.


Yes, I know this photo would be much more informative if I had bothered to take a BEFORE photo. But I didn't take a before photo because I wasn't thinking straight because I am suffering from a bad cold. (A bit of TMI: I haven't gotten out of my PJs for three days. But I have showered!)

The cold also caused me to abuse the swatch much more than I would abuse a sweater made from this yarn. Method of Abuse #1: The yarn manufacturer suggests using soap and not detergent* for washing. Well, I only have detergent and there was no way I was going to the store in my PJs to buy laundry soap just to wash a tiny swatch. Method of Abuse #2: A four-inch swatch all alone in a big washing machine? How would that prove anything? Let's throw two towels in with the swatch! Method of Abuse #3: I completely forgot to set the machine on the delicate cycle. Oops. (Did I mention that I was sick?)

Look Ma! No felting!Despite all of this abuse, the swatch was the same size after washing as it was before washing. (After air drying). And I was able to undo the cast-off edge and pull out some stitches. Sure I had to use a little more pulling force than I would have if I hadn't thrown it in the wash, but the stitches still pulled out pretty neatly.

Final verdict: If I hadn't been such a doofus, I'm sure this swatch would have come out beautifully. However, it is good to know that I can abuse this yarn without a complete disaster happening.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

*For you science geeks and curious folks: Soaps and detergents are different creatures. Soaps are water-soluble potassium or sodium salts of fatty acids. Detergents are mixtures of surfactants. Surfactants are made in a similar way to soaps, but other hydrocarbons are used instead of fatty acids. Because of differences in the chemical make up of detergents and soap, detergents are usually better for use in hard water. Also, commercial laundry detergents contain other types of chemicals that help clean clothes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not My Secret

Gimme!When I last talked about my secret knitting, several of you had the impression that it was my secret. It isn't. That is, I'm not designing anything. I am simply providing the hands and the needles for a designer. I will not be revealing the secret. The secret is hers and it will be revealed in due time. And when it is, I will let you know.

I reached the end of the secret knitting and I am shipping it off along with all the extra yarn *sob* today. The pretty, pretty silk was used for some I-cords and a bit of trim on the main part. (Fear not, designer! I pulled the I-cords away before Scout got to them.) The I-cords will be attached to the final piece, but the designer wants to attach them herself. I don't feel like I can show you any more of it. Believe me, this is a cute little piece.

Anyway, as sad as I am to see the pretty yarn go, I'm also happy to be back to my own knitting. Right before I got the call to knit the secret project, I ordered some yarn for Rogue! Look! It's not pink! Or red! And do you see that thing sticking out of the end of the skein? Believe it or not folks, that is the center end of the center-pull skein. No fishing around in the skeins for the ends. Now, why can't other companies be so kind? Would it really be that hard?

What is this? Stuff on my cat?

Oh yeah, it's Cestari 2-ply wool. It is supposedly naturally superwash. I intend to test that. Swatching will commence soon today. Hopefully, Rogue won't require the size 8s that are currently in the baby blanket.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fredericksburg: Quaint or Annoying?

This past weekend, Peter and I went to Fredericksburg, TX to attend a wedding. Fredericksburg is a town located in the Texas Hill Country. The Hill Country is a pretty part of Texas covered with rolling hills and dotted with small, touristy, and supposedly quaint towns. Fredericksburg had the appearance of quaint, I don't think they pulled off quaint very well. More like snooty and pretentious to me. Store and stores of useless trinkets and high-priced junk often labeled as "collectables" and "antiques." Not really for me.

Would you like some jam with that?But there were some fun things in Fredericksburg. Rustlin' Rob's was a crazy, but tasty place. Seriously, you could eat enough there to replace an entire meal. They had samples of EVERYTHING in the store. Every room had counters lined with open jars of food and huge baskets of crackers. Most of the products were made locally and there were several unique-to-the-area products such as prickly pear jelly and honey butter in many flavors.

And of course, I found the only yarn store in town: Stonehill Spinning. The store started as a spinning and rug hooking store, but expanded to include knitting, crocheting, and needle felting. They didn't have a huge selection of yarn, but what they had was nice: lots of Wool Pak, Classic Elite, some Brown Sheep, and some Recycled Sari Silk. The store was a bit dark so taking photos was not easy.

Doll-sized hanks of yarnThey also had some Mountain Colors in both worsted weight and sock yarn, but what they had on hand was mostly dark colorways and I didn't like any of them. However, they had a big basket of mill ends from Mountain Colors. It contained mini balls and mini hanks of different kinds of yarn produced by Mountain Colors. Some balls were large--probably 50 yards or more, but some were tiny--no more than 5 yards. The store sells these mill ends by the ounce and their customers use the mill ends for trimming knitted pieces or for making patchwork-like pieces. The shawl in the photo was made from mill ends of one type of yarn.

Stonehill also sold yarn hand spun and hand dyed from the fleece of angora goats raised locally at El Coyote Ranch. This yarn was very lovely. I wanted to buy some grayish-blue mohair, but only one hank remained and I wanted to have more. The same was true with some handpainted mohair/wool. I guess I just happened to arrive at the wrong time. I left with two hanks of violet 100% mohair. I'm not sure what I will do with it. Perhaps a lace shawl. (Peter says, "Do you really need a shawl? What are you going to with a shawl?") The tag on the yarn shows the pride of the person who spun and dyed the yarn.

How undignified! Now I'm just a yarn prop.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The coolest blanket ever

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:Pretty, pinkish, and pointy
1. It's circular blanket that does not start from the center and does not increase to a million stitches.
2. It's essentially reversible and I love blankets, shawls, scarves, etc. that are reversible.
3. It has a knitted on lace edging that isn't knit separately and does not require picking up a million stitches.
4. It knits up quickly. If this were the only thing that I was working on, I could probably finish it in less than a week.
5. The pattern is easy to memorize, yet knitting is not boring because the short rows keep you on your toes.

Seriously, this may be the best baby blanket pattern ever. The only problem that I have with the blanket is that the points on the edging are not laying flat. At first I thought they were curling because I was binding off too tightly. But binding off loosely didn't help me. Blocking might help me to get the points flat initially, but because the yarn is an acrylic/wool blend, I think the points are destined to be curly. Once mommy throws the blanket in the washer, all blocking magic will disappear. But I don't think the baby will care at all!

Didya see?
The little dog toy I made is on Annie's blog! (Dec 14th entry, I can't figure out how to link directly to that entry.) I think she forgot that I knit it for her because she didn't mention me :( But I have proof that I made him! Apparently, he's gotten a hair cut since I last saw him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Knitting Backward Tutorial

I know that there are several online tutorials on how to knit backward, but mine is different. My tutorial doesn't have photos and it doesn't have photos for a reason. Humor me and read on.

It's no secret that several styles of knitting exist: English, continental, combined, American, etc. On top of that, each knitter actually has his or her own style. No two English knitters hold the yarn the same way, move the yarn the same way, and move the needles the same way. So, instead of me showing you how *I* knit backward, I'm going to teach you how to teach yourself to knit backward. This method is more intuitive than following photos or diagrams and is the way that I taught myself to knit backward. You can also use this method to teach yourself how to purl backward.

What is knitting backward? To me, it means that I am doing a "purl" row in stockinette with the knit side facing me. Instead of the moving the stitches from the right needle to the left needle, I'm moving the stitches from the left needle to the right needle.

Why knit backward? When a pattern requires a small number of stitches to be worked in stockinette, it can be a pain to be continually turning the work. I knit backward when doing entrelac on Lady Eleanor. Those wanting to knit the Lady, Danica from the new Knitty, or the Ruffles scarf from Scarf Style may find knitting backward to be helpful.

Set up: Cast on a bunch of stitches and knit a row.

Step 1: Turn your work so that the purl side is facing you. Stick the RH needle into the first stitch as you would normally do when you purl. STOP! Keeping the needle in place, turn the work around so that the knit side is facing you and you are holding the needles comfortably. (That means you'll have to switch the needles in your hands).

LOOK at the needles. Stare at the needles. Memorize how the needles are positioned. The way the LH needle pokes through the stitch on the RH needle is the way you need to insert the needle when knitting backward. Remove the LH needle and reinsert it in the stitch so that it looks the same as before. Do this a few times. Teach yourself how you have to move the needles.

Step two: Turn your work around so that the purl side is facing you again. Stick the RH needle into the first stitch as you would normally do when you purl. Wrap the yarn around the needle as you would normally do when you purl. STOP! Keeping the yarn and needle in place, turn the work around so that the knit side is facing you and you are holding the needles and the yarn comfortably.

LOOK at the needles and the yarn. Study how the yarn goes around the needle. Look at the needles from above if that helps. Memorize the position of the yarn and the needles. Unwrap the yarn and rewrap it a few times. Learn how to move the yarn. Then, remove the LH needle from the stitch completely, insert it into the stitch as you did in step one, and wrap the yarn around the needles. Practice the entire motion a few times.

(You know where this is going, right?)

Step three: Turn your work around so that the purl side is facing you again. Stick the RH needle into the first stitch as you would normally do when you purl. Wrap the yarn around the needle as you would normally do when you purl. Pull the yarn through the stitch, but do not remove the stitch from the needle. STOP! Turn the work around so that the knit side is facing you.

LOOK again. Practice pulling the yarn through the stitch (I just kept undoing the stitch and redoing it until I got the hang of how to move the needles. For me, this was the hardest motion to figure out.) Once you learn how to pull the yarn through the stitch, start from the beginning with the knit side facing you: insert LH needle into the stitch, wrap the yarn, and pull the yarn through.

Step four: You know what to do now :-) Repeat step three, but pull the stitch off the needle this time. After you do the first stitch, try working the next stitches without turning the work to the purl side. If you forget a motion, turn the work to the purl side to see what has to happen.

Learning to knit backward is simply a matter of teaching your hands to move in a new way. The process is similar to learning how to play an instrument. When learning to play the cello, I had to teach my fingers and arms to move correctly. That required a lot of repetition of the movement. Learning to knit backward easily and with a good tension required the same practice. So, I suggest casting on a lot of stitches and knitting all the stitches backward so that you practice the same movement over and over again with little interruption. Then, you can do it on your project! Happy Backward Knitting!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

K2, P2, K2, P2, . . .

The moment that my holiday knitting wrapped up, I started on two new projects. (Ok, I really started on one first and then started the other the next day.)

The first project is a bit of a secret, but you will see it eventually. I'm not sure when. It involves a heck of a lot of ribbing, thin yarn, and tiny needles. I'd go batty if the yarn wasn't so wonderful to work with:
rib a little, rib a lot
100% Merino and 100% silk. Mmmmmm! I haven't gotten to the silk bit yet, but I'm looking forward to it. The front of the work has some very clever shaping and I know it's going to be a cute piece when it is finished. Once it is out there in KnittingLand, I'm sure a ton of people will love it, but I'm not sure how many will actually knit it. All that ribbing combined with the thin yarn may be a bit off-putting for the knitters to which this design will appeal the most. However, it isn't as slow knitting up as I thought it would be. In four days, I have knit about half of the entire project.

My other project is a baby blanket for coworker Kelly's baby. This is the first blanket that I have knit for a baby whose gender is known in utero. Everyone else wants their baby's gender to be a surprise. So, I finally get to knit a blanket with girly colors. I hope the Kelly's doctor read the ultrasound correctly.
Looks like a big slice of pie! says Scout

The pattern is Oat Couture's Pinwheel Afghan. I found this pattern while looking at the Curlicue Coverlet that Grumperina recently wrestled with. I bought both patterns back in September figuring that I would make Pinwheel for Kelly's baby and make Curlicue for my next niece/nephew, assuming that my brother would get his wife knocked up again. Well, I didn't have to wait long for the knocking up. Big brother and wifey are expecting their second baby in May. Gender unknown--of course!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Finished Object Frenzy

Let me start by saying that some of these projects have been going on for some time now. I did not knit all of these in one week. (Though, I did knit some of these in one day.)

FO timeline

Thursday, December 1st: Berkshire Breeze
Friday, December 2nd: IK Heart Sachets from yarn left over from my socks.
They don't smell like feet
Sunday, December 4th: Lady Eleanor and another Instant Gratification Scarf. The scarf is for a colleague.
A super quick gift
Monday, December 5th: Santa Hat
Ho Ho Ho
Santa Hat specs: Pattern from Handknit Holidays knit with Encore Chunky in red and Rowan Big Wool in white-ish.

I saw this hat at a LYS knit in the recommended yarns. The pattern calls for some Blue Sky yarns, that would have cost me about $50 at the LYS. That wasn't going to happen. It's a SANTA hat! It will only have a couple weeks of use each year. I was even reluctant to use the Rowan, but I didn't have much choice for super bulky white yarns.

As you can see, Christmas trees (or "holiday trees" if you prefer) are great for holding up handknit items. All those spiky needles grab the knitting and keep the knitting in place. Hanging my knitting on the tree reminds of the Christmas trees in the Little House on the Prairie books. In those books, Laura Ingalls Wilder writes that the presents were actually hung on the tree itself and not placed under the tree. Can you image someone trying to hang an X-box or a bicycle on a Christmas tree?

What's that you say? You want to see the hat on me? Ok.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole: Finished!

First of all, THANK YOU everyone for your kind words about Berkshire Breeze. I am considering my options for the pattern. But I am also very busy right now, both with regular work and knitting work. I have landed another knitting job and that is taking precedence over everything starting tomorrow. So, you probably won't see anything on the pattern front until January at the earliest.

And now, on to the good stuff:

I like my new blanket! says Scout

Pattern: Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole from Scarf Style
Finished size: 24 inches x 73 inches blocked (20-ish inches and 63-ish inches, unblocked)
Yarn: SWTC Karaoke in color 281 (Bloom colorway) 11 balls
Needles: US size 9
Cat: Scout
Modifications: Because Karaoke has a smaller gauge than the suggested yarn has, I added a repeat to insure that the stole would be wide enough. I also knit more tiers than what was written in the pattern to get the length I wanted. I omitted the fringe because I want this to be a "casual" stole and the fringe seemed to make it dressy.
What I love:
Once washed, the fabric has an incredible drape.
2) The gradual color change of the yarn yielded single-color rectangles. I have only one rectangle that has an abrupt color change. That was where I changed from the first ball of yarn to the second ball. After that, I made sure to match the colors when adding a new ball.
3) warm and cozy and nifty looking
What I don't love:
1) It has mistakes. *gasp* Here is a mistake that happened when picked up too many loops when I was picking up stitches. Normally, the crazy perfectionist in me will force me to fix all of my mistakes. But laddering down is not an option in entrelac, and correcting mistakes that happened the tier below requires a lot of ripping out and reknitting. On three occasions I was too lazy to make the corrections. On other occasions, I was obsessive enough to rip out as much as two tiers of knitting in order to correct a single mistake.
2) It a bit longer than I wanted it to be.
3) I am incapable of capturing the true colors of the stole with my camera. It is much more richly colored than it appears in these photos.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Lobster Story

Not so smellyMonkee gave me a tatted lobster. Why did she give me at tatted lobster? Two reasons: first, I wanted one. Second, I told her the lobster story. Of course, the only reason I wanted the tatted lobster in the first place was because of the lobster story, so I guess the lobster story is actually the only one reason why I was given this cute thing.

When my brother and I were young, our parents liked to take us on long, educational family trips. When I was eleven and my brother was twelve, we went on a road trip from Iowa to the East Coast. My best friend, Margaret, went with us, too. On this trip we visited New England, the Washington DC area, and Pennsylvania.

In Mystic, Connecticut, we had lunch in a seafood restaurant by the water. My mother ordered a lobster.

[Side note of explanation before we continue this story: This took place YEARS ago. At that time, fresh seafood was not very readily available in Iowa. For most people, “eating seafood” involved either dining at Long John Silvers, baking fish sticks, or catching fish in a lake.]

None of us kids had seen a lobster before and we found it fascinating. Margaret in particular was enthralled. Mom entertained us by doing her best to keep the shell intact while she ate the lobster. When Mom was finished, Margaret asked if she could keep the shell. Although Mom, Dad, and the waitress all found this request very funny, Margaret was given a paper doggie bag in which to store her “treasure.”

The first few days with our lobster friend were quite fun. Margaret, my brother, and I would put the pieces of lobster shell together and make up stories about the lobster in its previous life. But soon, despite Mom’s best efforts at washing the shell, our little lobster friend started to smell. A lot.

The poor lobster became too smelly to travel in the car. But Margaret still wanted it and my brother and I believed that getting the lobster to Iowa was of utmost importance. So we strapped our lobster (still stored in the paper doggie bag) to the luggage rack with the luggage. And when we stopped at a hotel, we three kids would hide the lobster somewhere outside on the hotel property. Obviously, it could not come into the hotel with us. The lobster traveled with us in this undignified way for more than a week.

Sadly, our dear lobster did not make it all the way home to Iowa. We forgot to retrieve it from his hiding place when we left a hotel in Ohio. Maybe it was better that way. I’m certain that Margaret’s mother would have tossed that smelly thing in the trash as soon as she got home. Hopefully, the lobster decomposed and helped fertilize the grass by the hotel. (But more likely, it was crunched up by a lawn mower or dug up by a passing animal.)

To this day, my brother and I snicker whenever lobsters are mentioned. Every now and then I send him a lobster-themed gift. But he’s not getting my tatted lobster!

Knitting update: Lady Eleanor is blocking. She's huge.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Berkshire Breeze

Mine! All Mine!

Pattern: Berkshire Breeze by Laura (hey, that's me!)
Size: Laura-sized
Yarn: KFI Angora Extra (70% angora, 25% wool, 5% nylon) in red, 7 balls (color is off in these photos. The true color is shown better in this photo.)
Needles: US size 7
Reason for name: The scarlet leaves reminds me of the autumns that I spent in the Berkshire Mountains while attending Williams College. The "Breeze" part refers to the lightness of the sweater and the fact that the lace makes wearing the sweater a little breezy.
What I like: Bunny Yarn! And the fact that it turned out the way I envisioned it and it fits me very well.
What I don't like: The sleeves are a bit baggy in the upper arms. But this yarn is unfroggable, so no corrections will be made.
Why you won't see this in Knitty: Because you're seeing it here! By posting the photos of this sweater, I broke Knitty submission rule #1--don't blog about it. (That's a paraphrase of the rule.) I'm not sure if Magknits has such a rule. After all, they published Picovoli/Tivoli after the Tivoli pattern had been available for awhile. But in any case, the dates for winter submissions for both magazines has passed. If I tried to submit this sweater pattern now, it wouldn't be published until next year.
Why the lace doesn't go all the way up: Because I didn't want to show my bra to the world and because I felt the lace would be ruined by the decreases for the armholes and the neckline.
Preemptive strike at answering questions:
* Yes, I will write up the pattern (I even have a test knitter lined up).
* No, I don't know when the pattern will be available for all of you.
* I don't know if more than one size is forthcoming. However, Laura-size may fit larger than Laura-sized people. I didn't want this sweater to be too tight on me--I'm not that kind of girl. (Also, this fabric has a drape that wouldn't really lend itself to a body-hugging sweater. At least I don't think so.)
* Yes, it's very fuzzy and warm.
* No, you can't have it.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


At last night's SnB:
Monkee: Have you finished your sweater yet?
Me: No, I still have to seam it together. It's hard for me to finish sweaters during the week because of work.
Monkee: What are you going to use to seam it?
Me: The angora yarn.
Monkee: Do you think it's strong enough?
Me: I think so.
Monkee: But what about the cast on...
Me: I haven't had any yarn-breakage since then. Perhaps that stretch of yarn was particularly weak.

This evening at in Laura's dining room:
Me: AHHH! #%*$#&#^@*( !!!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Just days after knitbloggers around the world (or at least around the nation) wrote heartfelt entries about the things for which they were thankful, I'm going to write about selfishness.

I freely admit that I like to use this blog to show off (Look at my Reversible Rib Shawl! lookie lookie!), but overall, I'm a fairly private person. I don't often share my feelings or the minutiae of my daily life because I don't feel comfortable doing that. But lately, my desire to protect my privacy is being challenged by my desire to show off. I'm talking about my self-designed sweater.

I started contemplating this sweater months ago. I knew I wanted to design a sweater. I knew I wanted it to be red. And from there, my vision for the sweater has grown and developed as I studied stitch patterns and sweaters. By the time I first mentioned designing my own sweater on this blog, I had already spent many hours of many days thinking, swatching, and rethinking the sweater. I didn't want to show of my design until the whole sweater was done. I didn't want to let anyone into my little design world. I seriously considered NOT blogging about the sweater at all until I posted finished object photos.

But then another one of my personality quirks reared its ugly head. This quirk is called Insecurity. Insecurity was accompanied by its friend Anxiety. I finished the back of my sweater and I suddenly decided that it wasn't good enough. It didn't look right. I was making a mess of things with expensive yarn. So, I needed validation. I put this up, and asked the people on the Knittyboard for opinions.

Luckily for me, I received a ton of positive comments and words of encouragement. The Show-Off in me was pleased as Punch and lapped up all the nice words. Unluckily for me, I was also inundated with questions about the rest of the sweater and request for the pattern. At first the Show-Off started elaborating on the design and promised to post the pattern in at least one size.

But in the next few days the Private me started to pout. "It's MY sweater. Not yours. You don't have to know what I'm thinking. I don't want you to have one. It's MINE." Yes, I had an attack of selfishness. But is it really wrong to be selfish about this? I've already spent a lot of time coming up with an idea, working the math, and now knitting. Is it wrong to want of a one-of-a-kind sweater? Oh sure, someone might see my sweater and copy it, but he or she will have to do similar work that I had to do, so he or she deserves it. And the sweater he or she creates won't be exactly my sweater, either.

Oh I will probably post the pattern eventually. Maybe. Please don't be mad if I don't. I'm almost done with the knitting. You will see the sweater in all its glory by the end of next week at the latest. Meanwhile, here's a free pattern for you:

Catnip: Drugs for Cats

Cat Toy
Cast on a bunch of stitches.
Knit until you get tired or bored or you almost run out of yarn.
Fold in half, sew up two sides, fill with polyfill and catnip.
Fight off cats while sewing last seam.
Throw in general direction of cats and let them fight over it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Me no dummy


Yes, you read it correctly! I'm Totally Smart. I very sadly scored only in the mid-70s on the Nerd Test. I must say that that test was horribly skewed toward computer-type nerds and not science-type nerds. But then again, I always considered myself more of a geek than a nerd. The math majors were nerds. I wanted to display my PERFECT score on the chemistry test, but they didn't have an html code at the end of that test. (I know all the answers! I didn't have to look anything up!)

On the Knitting Front:
Thank you all so much for your encouragement on my sweater. You all asked so many questions! Don't you want this to be a surprise? No? Well, sometime soon I'll give you a peek into my wannabe designer's thought process. I will answer one question now: I will post the pattern eventually, but probably in one size only.

Lady Eleanor Stole is progressing. I'm nearing the end of the 8th ball. I think it will need 10 or 11 balls before it's done. But I'm bored out of my skull.

Bunny Yarn!

"What yarn?" That's what everyone wants to know. Well, it's bunny yarn. It even has bunnies on the label. How could I resist such temptation? Even Cleo can't resist the bunny yarn.

Die, bunny, die!Cleo takes a big bite of bunny yarn and shakes it to kill as if it were an actual bunny. Notice that Cleo's ear and the ball of yarn in her mouth are slightly blurry. I caught her just as she was going in for the kill. Naturally, the yarn was immediately taken away from her.

But I digress. The yarn is Angora Extra by KFI in a lovely dark red color. I was sorting through my sweaters (handknit and store bought) and I noticed that I had only one red sweater and a plethora of pink sweaters. How odd. Red is actually my favorite color, yet I haven't knit with it very much. Perhaps I have been trying too hard not to knit with red. So to make up for it, I decided to make a truly luscious red sweater.

Here's the back of my sweater lightly blocked. (Color is not even close to correct in this photo.) Although I spent much time swatching and doing calculations, I was still thrilled out of my little mind that the piece blocked to the correct measurements. Trust the math, Laura. It won't fail you.

Scarlet Leaves

So, this is your first real look at the design that's in my mind. What do you think? Is the lace and stockinette a bad combination? (There is a long story as to why I designed it like this, but that doesn't mean that it was a good idea in the end.) Be honest! I truly want to know before I start knitting the front.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Not Dead Yet

I'm still here! I have been sick a little, busy a little, reading a little, working a little, which all added up to less time knitting and entertaining myself in front of a computer.

Part of reading that did was reading about sweater design. I usually like to think of myself as a creative type, but in reality, I'm an analytical type who sometimes flashes a bit of creativity. So I can't just sketch my sweater design and start knitting. Noooo . . . I have to gather information (research), organize the information (copious notes), collect data (endless swatching, measuring of swatches, measuring me, measuring existing sweaters), and analyze the data based on information gathered (lots of calculations). But all that work was necessary to make me feel comfortable casing on for the back:

Furry Cat, Furry Knitting

That's the bottom part of the back. Feel free to say that it doesn't look like anything. (On the other hand, this photo looks like furry mountains.) It is a nice lace pattern once it's all stretched out, but I couldn't talk Scout into holding the knitting in place. I got over my anxiety about starting my sweater by reminding myself (as Silvia reminded me) that I can always rip out the knitting if it isn't working out. Or at least that's what I told myself until tried casting on.

I started doing the twisted German cast-on because I heard that it was nice and stretchy. I cast on about half the stitches and realized that I had left a tail that was MUCH too long. So, I pulled it out and started over. Halfway through my second attempt of casting on, the tail end of the yarn broke. It just came off in my hand! Of course, I had to pull out the stitches again because the tail was now way too short. And the yarn broke again! And AGAIN! I just sat there staring at the little pieces of yarn in my hands. I hadn't abused the yarn or pulled on it harder than normal. In fact, after it broke the first time, I was more gentle when pulling out the stitches.

Is this yarn so fragile that it won't stand up to a single frogging attempt? Or was the end of that ball just particularly fragile? I don't know and I don't plan to find out. I guess if I finish this sweater and I don't like it for some reason, I'll suck it up and wear it proudly for years. If I rip it out and the yarns falls apart, it will just be an expensive pile of garbage.

Purple!I received three, hopefully knot-free balls of Karaoke from SWTC. They also sent along two balls of their new yarn Twize in a pretty proud purple. It is 100% bamboo and feels very soft. I think this will turn into some baby item.

I didn't end up teaching this past weekend. The LYS owner didn't manage to advertise her classes at all so no one has signed up for classes yet.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Scared, Giddy, and Annoyed

I want to design my own sweater. From scratch. I have a mental image of my sweater. I have yarn for my sweater. Now, all I need is a little more courage.

I've read the sweater-design sections from a few general knitting books and I think I've made myself even more scared than before. One book said not to invest too much money in a first design. Too late! I bought angora yarn. The same book suggested starting a sweater constructed with stockinette rectangles. No! I want something better fitting that has some lace. Another book warned of the difficulty of working set-in sleeves. Oops! That's exactly what I want.

Now, I'm not normally frightened by challenging knitting projects, but I am quite concerned about the design process. I'm waiting for Sweater Design in Plain English to arrive from Amazon and I'm hoping that the book will have enough information to make me comfortable starting my sweater. Meanwhile, swatching is happening at a furious pace.

I'm teaching my first knitting class this weekend. I'm excited even though I have no idea how it will go. I'd better write up a lesson plan before Saturday. Now if I could only make a career out of doing knitterly things, I'd quit my job in a heartbeat.

Remember how happy I was using Karaoke for Lady Eleanor? I'm not so happy now.* I'm on my sixth ball of yarn and have found knots in five of the balls used so far. Normally, I don't mind a knot or two in yarn, but five knots in six balls?? You're kidding me, right? I paid a pretty penny for this pretty yarn and I expect high quality for it. What's worse is that in balls #4 and #6, the knot was less than two yards from the inside end of the ball! Did the profit margin on this yarn truly depend on including those two yards?

Ain't no way to treat a Lady

This photo was taken when I was about 1/2 way through the 5th ball (otherwise known as the ball that did NOT contain a knot). At the time the stole was 21 inches wide and 26 inches long, unstretched. I think blocking will make the stole about 24 inches wide, which would be perfect for me.

*Late breaking update: I'm happy again. SWTC is going to send me more yarn. They believe that yarn from the end of a run accidentally got balled and packed. They also indicated that they have not heard other serious knot complaints about Karaoke.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fix-it Fridays

Because I have so many vacation days that I have to use by the end of the year, I have decided to take Fridays off so that I can have a bunch of 3-day weekends. I declared that my extra days of fun and frolic will be Fix-it Fridays. So, instead of sitting around and knitting all day (as I probably would do otherwise), I have to fix things that need fixing. Of course, knitting projects are included in the "things that need fixing" category.

Remember this disaster? Well, it's been languishing in Peter's drawer since April, taken out only to show it off to my mother and MIL. But it's been haunting me from there. To truly fix this sweater, I would need to take out one repeat of the diamond cable pattern from the body. But the thought of trying to graft cables makes me queasy. So, I elected to try a less drastic solution first. I added elastic to the waist ribbing:

The elastic makes the ribbing nice and grabby and holds the ribbing up on Peter's waist. For some reason, Peter thinks that sweaters are supposed to blouse up over the waistband, which (as every body-conscious woman knows) makes a person look wider than he or she actually is. But Peter is skinny so I guess it doesn't bother him. Peter has tried on the sweater and he thinks the fit is good, but the real test will be when he actually wears the sweater for a long period of time. Of course, it's still too hot here for him to wear a wool sweater for longer than 10 seconds. So, I don't have modeling photos. But the photo below shows how nicely the waist ribbing cinches in. If this solution doesn't work, I'll load up on courage and chocolate and do the grafting.

Hold me tight

The other fixing project that I did this past Friday was fixing my computers. The router that connects my two computers to the Internet spontaneously stopped working last weekend resulting in my inability to surf the Internet using two computers at the same time. (And resulting in lots of wire switching whenever I wanted to use a different computer.) So, I spent a chunk of Friday researching routers to find a router that had both Ethernet and wireless capabilities, worked with both Macs and PCs, and could handle a VPN connection. I think I succeeded.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My First Socks


Pattern: Padded Footlets from IK Summer 2005
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, Georgetown colorway
Needles: US size 1, circular
Modifications: shortened length (see below), omitted contrast stripes
Time to knit: 1 week
1. I have never been that interested in knitting socks because I don’t wear socks that often. (Warm climate = sandals almost all year long) However, I do wear sock-like slippers at home constantly. So, I picked these socks because the padded soles made them seem like house socks to me.
2. The magic loop method wasn’t a good choice for these socks because of the way the padding on the soles was worked. However, I didn’t have DPN in the correct size, so I had to make the padding process even more fiddly than it already was.
3. Because these were my first pair of socks, I didn’t think to compare the finished length of the sock to the length of my foot. I just saw that the pattern said, “fits women’s shoe sizes 7-10,” and went on my merry way. When I finished the last lace repeat on the instep, I put the sock on and realized that the pattern called for two more inches of sock and I only had about an inch off foot left. So, I had to do some quick calculations and toe-decrease adjustments to make a reasonable-sized sock. However, the socks are still a little too big for me.
5. I’m pretty darn proud of my grafting on the toe. I’m very, very bad at grafting. But lookie! I did it on my first try!
4. While I think the socks are cute and are comfortable, I’m not so bowled over by them that I feel like I NEED to have more hand-knit socks. They certainly aren’t the most s’wonderful s’marvelous socks that I’ve ever worn. So, I still don’t see the allure of making my own socks. Maybe I’m not excited because the socks aren’t pink or red and they don’t have cables on them. However, I’m not inclined to test this theory. That would require knitting another pair of socks.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Instant Gratification

THANK YOU everyone for your comments. I feel loved now. I also feel a little guilty for begging for comments...but only a little. For those of you who commented about being fearful of entrelac: it isn't that bad. I was a little nervous at first, but I followed the directions no matter how strange they seemed and it worked out just fine.

Now on to part 2 of my instant gratification:
Doesn't smell like food.

I'm calling this my Instant Gratification Scarf. I cast-on on Monday night (while passing out Halloween candy) and cast-off Tuesday night after my SnB. The scarf is a sample scarf that I knit up for a class that I will be teaching at a LYS. It's a cabled scarf knit in Rowan Big Wool. I made up the pattern to include selvege stitches and right and left twisting cables. I'm marketing the class for newbie knitters to learn how to read a pattern with a chart and to learn how to do cable crossings. I wonder how it will go. I have never taught a knitting class before, nor have I taken one! At the end of the class I'll probably teach the brave ones how to cable without a cable needle.

Finally, a good word for Kollage Yarns
Remember when I complained about trying to wind a hank of Kollage Passion? Well, a couple days after I wrote that, I received an email from Susan at Kollage Yarns who happened to see what I wrote. She apologized profusely for my troubles and offered to send me some yarn to make up for it. (She also offered free ice cream for life, which I would have gladly taken over the yarn, but I didn't think she could really do that for me.) So, I told her that I was interested in trying some of their Inspiration yarn. Well, look what arrived in today's mail:
Are they filled with catnip?Presents for us?
Just leave them here, I'll take care of them.Shiny yarn!
Yes, it's two hanks of Inspiration already wound in center-pull balls!!! How amazing is that? What great customer service! Thank you so much, Susan!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Where did everyone go?

I didn't get very many comments on my last few posts. Am I boring everyone? Is my knitting not pretty enough or something? Fine. Here's something pretty:

Purply-pink goodness

It's the start of the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole from Scarf Style--a project out of nowhere! Actually, I've been coveting this stole for awhile, but was beginning to think that I would never make it because I couldn't find an appropriate yarn. As anyone who has wanted to knit this stole knows, the yarn used for the stole in the book costs a pretty penny. I wasn't about to pay that much for that yarn. I've seen examples of Noro Eleanors and Manos Eleanors, but I didn't like them. But then I saw Karaoke at a LYS. I knew shade 281 was destined to be my Eleanor.

Karaoke is self-striping 50% soy silk/50% wool yarn. The color transitions are very gradual, which I like much better than the color transitions in Noro. The effect in Lady Eleanor is wonderful. The texture of Karaoke is much better than I expected. It's soft, has a slight halo, and is pleasantly wooly without being scratchy. It felts easily so it spit splices very nicely. It's rustic looking, but doesn't contain all dead plant fibers that are often found in Noro. Another advantage over Noro--I think the yarn is dyed after the knots in the yarn are tied. I've encountered two knots so far and the yarn on each side of the knot is the same color. So I just have to cut out the knot, spit splice, and go on my merry way. The only complaint I have about Karaoke is that it seems to be slightly overspun. The yarn twists around itself when pulled from the center of the skein.

Joy in Catville!
Last night, I came home from the SnB with goodies for me (more fresh eggs) and a goodie for the cats. It's a little catnip plant from Monkee's backyard. Cleo and Elly are checking it out in the photo below. Scout is nearby but is not in the photo because Elly was getting mad at her. I think the plant will have to live on the floor or the cats would climb on the counter to get to the plant if it were placed there.
Catnip is KittyDrugs

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dad Hat Done

It's less fun without the needle

Pattern: Age of Aquarius Cap from Knitter's Stash
Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran (85% merino, 10% silk, 5% cashmere)
Needles: US sizes 7 and 9
Recipient: Dad
Cat: Scout (who else?)
1. The photo above shows the color of the cap fairly accurately but the cables are more clearly seen in this washed out photo. The yarn is not the type of yarn that I would normally choose for a cabled project. The tweedy-ness and lumpy-ness sort of mask the nice cabling. However, I thought the rustic nature of the yarn make the hat more manly and therefore more appropriate for a Dad hat.
2. The feature that I like most about this hat is how the cable pattern appears both on the fold-up brim of the hat and on the crown of the hat. To do this, the hat was turned inside out after working the brim and a slightly different cable pattern was worked on the crown.
3. The hat seems rather large to me. The finished circumference is 22 inches (exactly what the pattern says), but it is huge on me. However, Dad has an unusually large head--literally, not figuratively--so maybe the hat will be fine on him. Just to be safe, I'm not cutting the tail inside the hat. If it's too big for Dad, I'll ask him to send it back and I will frog and reknit it. If it fits fine, I'll ask Mom to cut the tail.

RIP Richard Smalley
Sadly, Richard Smalley died last week. Dr. Smalley is of course best known for being one of the co-discoverers of Buckminsterfullerene, aka BuckyBalls, aka C60. Dr. Smalley was one of my chemistry heroes and actually played an important part in my life. If it hadn't been for him and his BuckyBalls, I may have never meet Peter.

When I was applying to chemistry graduate schools, I became so enthralled by BuckyBalls, that I applied to Rice University with dreams of working with Dr. Smalley himself. After I was accepted at Rice, I visited the campus during their chem grad student recruitment weekend. During that weekend, accepted graduate students from around the country spent three days meeting with the Rice faculty and grad students. Peter was also visiting Rice that weekend. We had lunch together. We met with Dr. Smalley together. But neither of us decided to go to Rice.

Instead, both Peter and I enrolled at the University of Chicago. We recognized each other from the Rice weekend and started talking. Neither of us knew any of the other grad students, so it was nice to see someone familiar. Even if it was someone only vaguely familiar. And that's how Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley brought Peter and I together.

Friday, October 28, 2005

So much knitting, so little blogging

Work has hit the oh-no-we're-not-going-to-finish-on-time phase of our production schedule. We always get to this point when there is about a month left in the schedule. I almost think that we should make a column on the schedule for when the production manager freaks out.

So, I've been knitting as much as I can, but blogging less. I just noticed that I haven't updated my sidebar to reflect what I'm really doing now and I don't remember the last time that I added blogs to my blogroll. Someday I'll take care of that. But today is all about photos.

Finished Fancy Scarves

Patterns: out of my own little head
Yarn: Kollage Yarns, the red one is Passion and the purple one is Romance
Recipient: A customer
Notes: I wish I had used a bigger needle with the purple one. It's a bit on the small side as a shawl/scarf. I thought it would be a nightmare to frog, so I just continued what I was doing. I added the ribbon to it to dress it up a bit and to help it stay on a person's shoulders. As it turned out, the "shawlette" is the perfect size for the customer's daughter.

Started the Dad Hat

smells interesting "What's this?" asks Scout

how convenient! "Oh, it has a handle"

gotta go! "Thanks for the toy Mom!"

I'm making a cabled hat out of Katmandu Aran. Though the yarn is very soft it contains an amazing amount of plant fibers (i.e dead grass) that I'm constantly having to pick out. I usually don't mind plant fibers in wool, but this seems to have a ton. This is the first chance I had to use the pretty stitch markers that Helen made and sent to me. Thanks again Helen!

Finished the Super Secret Project
But no photos until after the winter holidays!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Knitting meme

Knitting Scientist Grumperina tagged me with my first knitting meme. (Or at least I think it's my first knitting meme. I think my memory is starting to fail.)

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
I don't have a single yarn that's my favorite because I always like to try different yarns. There are so many yarns out there and I want to try them all! (Except for the novelty yarns. And the acrylic yarns. And scratchy yarns. Ok, so maybe "all" is a gross exaggeration.) However, I definitely prefer to knit with animal fibers and I'm having a love affair with yarns that contain angora (bunny yarn!). I like the softness of angora and the slight fuzz that it gives to yarn. I have yet to knit with 100% angora, but I would love to some day.

Your favorite needles?
My trusty Boye Needlemaster set. Yes, I bought one of these despite all the bad-mouthing of Denise fanatics. (Many Denise devotees have never tried the Needlemaster set, they just "heard" this and that about Needlemaster and happily spread those rumors to anyone who will listen.) I also love my small but hopefully growing set of Addi Turbos. I'm trying to collect a set of 40" Addis. (Hint, hint gift-giving family members!)

The worst thing you've ever knit?
A shrug that never before made an appearance on this blog because it was made during my preblog days. The construction of the shrug is fine, I just made a critical error in selecting a yarn substitute. I wasn't very well versed in types of fibers and yarns at the time. The pattern called for 100% angora. It seemed ridiculously priced to me and I thought "mohair is fuzzy." So, I used Lamb's Pride worsted. The thing has no drape so it bubbles up very unattractively in the back. But what's worse is that it's so ITCHY! Not something I want to wear next to my skin.
I am not a hunchback

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
Probably Peter's cabled sweater. The cable pattern was interesting and the construction was very challenging for me at the time. It was the first time that I had encountered saddle sleeves and the collar was a bit tricky.

Most valuable knitting technique?
I'm tempted to steal Ms. Grumpy's answer and say that my most valuable knitting "technique" is fearlessness and the desire to try new things. Is that cheating? Ok, then--cabling without a cable needle is very valuable to me because I love knitting cables.

Best knit book or magazine?
The Knitters book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie Wiseman. I like the fact that it's spiral bound, that it's small and portable, and that it gives the pros and cons of different techniques. The directions and images are very clear.

Your favorite knit-a-long?
I haven't joined many knit-a-longs (isn't "knit-along" more correct?) because I'm usually doing my own thing and I don't always follow the herd. However, the Fall Cable KAL is made for me. All cables, all the time! Plus, it's the knitters aren't all knitting the same project which makes the KAL much more interesting.

Your favorite knitblogs?
Grumperina because of her witty writing and her take-no-prisoners attitude toward knitting. Fruitcake Knits because Monkee is strange and because I actually know her and see her regularly. (And because I want to know what she does with all the yarn that I give her.) MJ's Yummy Yarn because she's a fantastic knitter and photographer. I believe that, with her camera, MJ could make a lumpy, stockinette, acrylic sweater look like high-end fashion.

Your favorite knitwear designer?
I don't think that I've knit more than one pattern from a single designer. However, I truly admire the work of Sarah Dallas. I made one Sarah Dallas sweater and I drool over her other patterns. I admire the simplicity and elegance of her designs.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)
Right now, top honors go to Grace. It's barely cold enough to wear her, but wear her as often as possible. I even wear her with shorts. A wool sweater with shorts--now that's a fashion statement. The combination also highlights how desperate I am to wear Grace. Before Grace, I wore Elspeth most often.

Who to tag?
I think I'll tag Rachel because she loves being tagged, Agnes because she making a crazy intarsia project right now, Karma because she has a purple house, and Shetha just because.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Dread Pirate Roberts

You saw a foot. Now here's a head:

The Man in Black aka The Dread Pirate Roberts aka Westley

My little (dog) toy is finished. Annie's instructions said to be creative with the hair, so I decided to give my yarn man "dreadlocks." Because yarn doesn't lock, I just braided three strands of yarn together. I wonder if I could have felted the strands together? I won't show you the whole toy, but you will hopefully see it in Annie Modesitt and Drew Embrosky's book. All three cats found the dreads interesting, but only Scout would pose nicely with the little man. She was a bit sleepy when I took the above photo so she didn't try to attack. However, when I took the next photo, she was much more alert.

Ooh! Shiny!

What do you think happened right after I took this photo? Yup, she pounced on the end of the purple yarn. I know what you're thinking (unless you are just focusing on Scout and not the yarn in front of her). You're wondering what the heck I'm doing with shiny novelty yarn. Well, my customer--the recipient of the twisty-neck tank--now wants stuff made with fancy yarn. The customer handed me a two hanks of shiny yarn and asked me to make two things that looked different with them.

The red stuff is Passion from Kollage Yarns. The hank only had 100 yards, so made a drop-stitch scarf with it. I thought (correctly) that the drop stitches would help add length. I had a minor major disaster when I tried to wind this stuff. It has four plys (plies?) and the plys became tangled up and the pretty hank turned into a fuzzy, shiny blob. I considered taking photos for this blog, but I was very irritated and I realized that I didn't not want any photo documenting my misery. I spent an entire evening untangling the mess.

The purple stuff is Romance also from Kollage Yarns. I just cast on for a triangular, stockinette shawl. Boring yes, but the customer did say that she wanted the two objects to look different. I hope the shawl will be big enough in the end. If it's not, I suppose I could ask her for a second hank. I'm also using the shawl to teach myself to knit backward:
Me: Look! I'm knitting backward!
Peter: Why are you doing that?
Me: Because I want to learn and if my gauge is funny, no one will be able to tell in this crazy yarn.
Peter: You're really just doing it to entertain yourself.
Me: Well--that IS an added bonus.

Friday, October 21, 2005

More Black Yarn

Regular readers of my blog know that I'm not much of a sock knitter. I have only made one pair of sock-like objects and since then I have declared that sock knitting is not for me. As it turns out, I could not avoid knitting sock-like objects forever. LOOK!

Will it fit?

It's a teeny tiny little sock/shoe thing! It's only twelve stitches around but still has a little turned heel. I haven't sewn up the toe yet and the "cuff" stitches are on a piece of dental floss that I'm using as a stitch holder. What the heck is this for? It's the beginning of a "dog" toy for Annie Modesitt's new book Men Who Knit (and The Dogs Who Love Them . . .). I'm doing this project for Annie while waiting for the yarn for a larger project to arrive. I'm looking forward to the larger project, but this one is pretty entertaining. (I'm actually much farther along now, but I'm too lazy to take more photos)

As you can see, Scout thinks that the sock is already a good cat toy.

Please fill it with catnip, says Scout

In a funk
I'm pretty depressed these days, probably because of work. I'm in such a crappy mood that I don't even want to knit. In fact, knitting and knitting related stuff has been contributing to my grumpy, irritable mood. Playing with the twisty neck collar was annoying, winding crazy novelty yarn was a disaster (more on that later), my needles always seem to be too grabby or not grabby enough for the things I am working on now, and my super secret project is boring me to death. However, knitting continues because I'm being paid and the holidays are approaching. I think this is foreshadowing the feelings I will have once I quit my icky job and become a freelancer trolling for anything that pays.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Twisty Neck

Blah Blah Black Yarn

Pattern: With-a-Twist Turtleneck from The Purl Stitch, size small
Yarn: ggh Goa in black
Needles: US sizes 9 and 10.5
Recipient: A real paying customer!
Modifications: I lengthened the torso by an inch because the customer said that she "didn't want her belly showing." I wouldn't want my belly showing either. And of course, I did a 3-needle bind off on the shoulder seams.
Comments: A straight-forward knit, except for the collar. The collar is a mobius that is knit flat and sewn together in a loop. Then, the collar is sewn onto the neckline. Sewing a curvy, twisty collar on a flat neckline is not easy or intuitive. I futzed with it quite a bit and redid it a couple of times before I decided to call it done. Sorry for the bad photos, black is not easy to photograph--even with a flash!

Twist and Shout!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Day at the Races

Thank you all for your kind words about Grace! I appreciated every comment. For those of you who commented on how fast I knit, I'll tell you my secret. I'm one of those weird knitters who has the ability and the desire to concentrate on one project at a time. Sure I knit Grace in a little over two weeks, but I didn't knit anything else during that time. (Oh wait, I knit that Cupcake hat, but that only took a few hours.)

This morning, Peter dragged me out of bed at 4:30 to go to a race with him. The 20K race is managed by Peter's running team, so he was volunteering before and after the race. He bribed me with a purple t-shirt to get me to volunteer with him. So, we had to get to the race course by 5:30 (that's 5:30 AM, folks) to help distribute ChampionChips to the runners. Once that was done, Peter went off to run the race and I went to hunt for coffee and then staked out a spectating and knitting spot.

The course is three loops around the downtown-ish area in Houston. Peter finished the first lap in good time (he's the shirtless one):
Go Peter!

Then, my Secret Project and I waited for Peter to come by on the second lap (note other runners in the background):
Peter should be by any minute

By the second lap, Peter was running by himself. (I'm going to have to learn how to take better "action" and "distance" photos.)

Then, my knitting and I went to the finish line to do the second half of the volunteer work. For this work, I had to help collect the ChampionChips from the runners after they finished. ChampionChips are little computer chips placed inside plastic holders. Runners attach these chips to their shoes with zip ties. Mats with chip detectors are placed at the start and finish lines of a race. When a runner steps on the mat, a computer records his or her time. The computer then calculates the runners exact race time and spits out race results. (Pretty nifty, if you ask me--but I'm a geek.) I had some time to knit and enjoy my purple shirt before the runners started arriving:
Much more fun than running

Anyway, I soon learned that ChampionChip collection is nasty business. To get the chips from the runners, you have to cut the zip ties from the runners' shoes. Some runners also use their shoelaces to attach the chips, so you have to untie their shoes to get the chip. Either way, you have to touch another person's shoe. The race is a 20K. That's 12.4 miles for you nonmetric types. People who finish running 12.4 miles in the Houston heat are way past perspiring. "Sweating buckets" is a much more accurate description. I won't go into more details.
Here comes my first ChampionChip customer:
Good Job Peter!

Peter finished in 1 hour and 15 minutes (and some seconds), was the 18th finisher overall, and 6th in his age group. He improved his time and place from last year, so he was pretty pleased.