Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Longest Meme Ever

Knitting content first:
I finished seaming the Rebecca sweater and tried it on. Can I just say, "Va va va voom!" Yup. Major cleavage. But at least it's not X-rated. I'm going to put a row of single crochet around the neckline, then do the picot edging and see how that looks. I hope I don't have to resort to adding rows of garter stitching like Ms. Cooknknit did. That would involve picking up A LOT of stitches. I'm still considering the "modesty triangle" idea. I just don't know how I would do it....yet.

Meme time!
This meme has been floating around everywhere! I've seen longer versions of it, but thank goodness Helen tagged me with a shortened version.

ten years ago:
I was living in Chicago, fresh from chemistry grad school, and working as a lab manager in a molecular biology lab (despite the fact that I had never taken any course work in molecular biology or biochemistry). I was also plotting my next career move as I planned on applying to science education grad schools. Peter and I were dating at that time.

five years ago:
I was living in Sugar Land, Texas, teaching high school chemistry, and suffering. Elly and Cleo (the two older cats) had been living with us for a couple of years. "Us" being Peter and me--we were married by this time.

one year ago:
I was living in Pearland, Texas, and working as an editor on middle school science textbooks. My precious baby cat Scout had entered our lives a year earlier. Peter found her under a car in a parking lot. And yes, I was still married to Peter.

five snacks: cookies, ice cream, chocolate, cake, cheese

five songs I know all the words to: So many to choose from! Lots of songs from musicals. Here's a random sampling:
1) Tonight from West Side Story
2) The Mountains by W. Gladden
3) Kokomo by the Beach Boys
4) Silent Night in German and in English
5) You Are my Sunshine by ???

five things I would do with $100 million: pay off mortgage, travel everywhere, buy a working goat farm, give some to charity, invest the rest so that Peter and I never have to work again.
five places to run away to: Iowa, London, the Berkshires, Australia, the Swiss Alps
five things I would never wear: a poncho, pointy shoes, anything orange, a mohawk, leather pants
five favorite TV shows: Lost, The Amazing Race, The Muppet Show, The Brady Bunch, MASH
five biggest joys: Peter, Elly, Cleo, Scout, being healthy
five favorite toys: Knitting needles, digital camera, bicycle, my cats, my Mini Cooper
five people to pass this on to: no one. Haven't we all done this already?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How to Puff Sleeves

I'm happily and busily seaming the Rebecca sweater right now. Yes, I'm happy about it. Unlike so many other knitters out there, I love finishing sweaters. Finishing is not as exciting as knitting the pieces, but finishing is thrilling to me. It's the point when an object stops being yarn and starts being a garment. Just as I love watching pieces take shape as I knit them, I love watching a garment take shape as I sew it together and do the final finishing.

Last night, however, finishing started slowly. After doing a three-needle bind-off for the shoulder seams, I started to pin the sleeves into place. While pinning, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. If you hadn't noticed, this sweater has puffy sleeves. So, the sleeve caps are much too big for the armholes. Obviously, I needed to find a way to gather the sleeves so that they are properly puffed and so that the sleeves would fit into the armholes!

I looked at the directions. "Join shoulder seams and sew sleeves into place." Great! Dear Editor, could you please at least acknowledge that sewing these sleeves might be a little more tricky than normal? Maybe say something like, "This sweater has puffy sleeves. Good luck with that!"

After futzing with the sleeves for several minutes trying to figure out how to evenly gather the sleeves, I tried putting an inverted pleat in the sleeve. It worked perfectly. I'm so darn proud of myself.


Coming up next time: The world's longest meme

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stop to Smell the Flowers

The intarsia is done! At least it is for now. Yes, it took me some time, but that's mostly because I didn't want to work on it. Knitting it put me in a bad mood. At one point I had 24 bobbins and two balls of yarn attached to my work. 24 bobbins!!! No wonder I was in a bad mood. The sad news is that I have to do it all over again on the front of the sweater. Ugh. I just have to tell myself that it's only 27 rows of work... Here is Scout sniffing the flowers:
smells like a lot of work!

Rebecca progress:
All pieces have been knitted and the back has been corrected. Blocking will occur today, seaming will occur ??? The most alarming news about the Rebecca sweater is that I used up the "required" amount of yarn just knitting the pieces. That's without doing the crochet edging on all the pieces. Lucky for me I'm a paranoid knitter and I always buy an extra ball of yarn. No worries here!

Tivoli looms:
I'm happy to be finished knitting the Rebecca sweater because Grumperina is releasing the standardized pattern for Tivoli this week. I have been wanting to knit one of these since Ms. Grumpy first posted her pattern. Humm...maybe I should swatch now so that I can cast on the moment the pattern is posted.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rebecca progress


Perhaps it will be a little revealing? We will see if adjustments need to be made once the sweater is assembled. I'm thinking that I will need to knit a little triangle to fill in a the lower part of the V.

After finishing the front, I realized that the back was too short. Apparently, I don't know how to use a tape measure correctly because I was off my two entire centimeters. Now I have to decide if I should knit the entire back longer by undoing the bound off stitches for the back of the neck or if I should just knit the shoulders longer (taller?) and have a more scoopy back. Just working the shoulders would be easy because I didn't bind of the stitches there.

I'm now considering how to block this sweater. It's 50% cotton and 50% acrylic. Normally, I would steam-block cotton, but I don't think that's a good idea for acrylic. The instructions say to lay a wet towel over the pieces. That doesn't seem to be forceful enough for me. (Isn't blocking all about forcing your will onto knitted pieces?) Anybody have ideas, thoughts or suggestions?

For those interested, the cat in this photo is Scout. I tried to get Elly to pose because she hasn't appeared in my blog much recently. But Elly's idea of posing with knitting is to lay on top of the knitting to cover up any interesting details that other knitters may wish to see.

Cat news
Scout is on a kitty diet right now, which means that she, Elly, and Cleo are no longer free-fed. Instead, they get two carefully measured meals a day. I feel like a horrible cat mom for subjecting Elly and Cleo to a feeding change even though the two of them don't have weight problems. Elly and Cleo do their own things to make me feel even more guilty. Elly sits in front of the cabinet that contains the cat food and looks sad or mews pitifully. If nothing happens, she starts to open the cabinet. Cleo sometimes completely refuses to eat during meal times and then walks around the house howling at 2 am. (Incidentally, Peter sleeps like a log during these howling sessions.) Scout, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be particularly disturbed by the feeding change.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bobbin Invasion!

EEKK! Run away!

I ripped out my intarsia and started over. Now, I have a bazillion bobbins hanging from my work. But surprisingly, I'm finding it easier to deal with than having seven balls of yarn and half a bazillion bobbins hanging from the work. However, I can only do this intarsia work at a table. I can't handle checking the chart and managing all the bobbins while sitting on the couch and fighting off the cats. I'm much happier with the results:
much better

Thanks for the confirmation...
The comments on the last entry helped me realize that I am an insane perfectionist who scrutinizes her work too closely. Some people didn't realize that I had corrected the mistake in the photo of the Rebecca sweater with stripy-cat Scout. I thought it was glaringly obvious that the diamond motif in the two photos were different. Now, I could take the two photos and label the differences using photoshop. But I'm not going to do that. That would just reinforce my crazy tendencies.

Extra! Extra!
I scanned part of the article from The Facts. Click here to read it. The 17-year-old that is mentioned in regards to the SnB is none other than our dear Monkee!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?

On the left, a photo of the Rebecca sweater from the magazine. On the right, a photo of my partially completed front. Can you spot the difference?

in magazinemine

Notice I didn't say, "Can you spot the mistake?" I didn't make a mistake. I followed the pattern correctly and my diamond pattern is smaller than the diamond pattern in the magazine. (If you didn't notice, there is one fewer lattice thingies on my sweater.) So, now I'm irritated because the sweater in the photo is very obviously NOT knitted from the same pattern that was published. This is the second time that I've discovered such a discrepancy.

I don't know how designers write up patterns based on their designs, but I assume that the published patterns are fixed up or altered from original designs to standardize the pattern or make it easier to knit. So maybe a published pattern may not produce a sweater exactly like the original design and the original sample sweater. That's fine with me. But the sweaters in the photos SHOULD be knitted from the pattern published! I pick my projects based on the photos. Doesn't every knitter? I don't want surprises.

So, I ripped back and made my diamond bigger. Now the printed chart is useless to me. But who cares, the cable pattern is simple and I can just read my work and figure out what I have to do next.
All fixed!

I AM famous!
Today I received an email from a reporter from the Pearland Journal. She wants to do a story on knitting and on the SnB that I started. I wonder how many little local papers I can get into. Maybe I should contact the Pearland Reporter News and see if they want to do a story, too. The good news about getting into the Pearland Journal is that the Houston Chronicle picks up stories from the Journal to put in the Chronicle's regional sections. Maybe I will hit the big time. A girl can only dream.

What about those gifts?
I just realized that I never described how the Peacock shawl and the lavender hearts were received. Mom loved the shawl and was very surprised. She had some friends over a few days after she received the shawl and showed it off to them. She said her friends were amazed and a bit jealous, too. My friends were also quite happy with their heart sachets and are proudly displaying them in their cubicles. The one friend who can knit was highly fascinated by its construction.

Edit to add:
The Facts article was published on Wednesday. It is available online if you register at the website. (Free registration) The link for the article is here, but I'm not sure if that will work for everyone. You can just go to The Facts website, and search for "knitting" in the past week. The article is titled "Freeport Knitter Gets to the Point." I'm not the Freeport knitter but I am mentioned and quoted in the article.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Step Away from the Intarsia

I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of intarsia. Intarsia and I get along if the pattern involves only one or two large blobs of color or if the pattern involves widely-spaced small blobs of color. But many medium-sized, closely spaced blobs of color...grrr!


As you can see, I've entered the evil intarsia section of Rosa. In an effort to reduce the number of ends hanging off of the piece, I thought that I would carry the flower colors behind the main color from one petal to the next. That way (I reasoned to myself) I could just use one piece of yarn for each of the flowers! Genius, yes? Well, maybe in theory. Or even in wool yarn. But this is stiff, unyielding, unsquishy cotton yarn. The result? A little show-through and a little unslightly puckering. I'm going to set this project aside and let it simmer before I finally conclude that I have to rip back and start over doing proper, dangly-ended intarsia.

(Meanwhile, I have to continue to tell myself that this intarsia bit will never look as good as it would look in wool. I can't set high expectations for it. If my expectations are too high, I will never finish the sweater because I will be continually redoing the intarsia bits!)

In happier news...
The back of the Rebecca sweater is done. The back was rather boring stockinette, but now the fun will begin!

Pink back

Finally, thanks to all who told me about the spirally-shrug-sweater kits on sale at Threadbear! I appreciate the thought, however, I'm very interested in eyeballing the various Lorna's Laces colorways in person before selecting any yarn. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to see some of this lovely yarn once my LYS starts carrying it!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Unrequited Love

I'm in love with this:

Knit me Laura! Knit me!

Not the girl, the sweater. What's not to love? It has everything I could ask for: interesting construction, interesting stitch pattern, and interesting yarn. From the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it.

Unfortunately, the sweater does not love me. Or rather, the yarn does not love me. The yarn used is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. A quick search on the Internet shows that it retails for around $17 per hank. (Insert bug-eyed look here.) After the rush on Lorna's Laces yarn for a certain over-hyped scarf, you'd think that Lorna's yarn would be a little more afforable. I could substitute a different yarn, but the gorgeous colors and patterning of the sweater come from the hand-painted yarn. If I searched for other hand-painted yarns, I'm sure I wouldn't find much difference in price. I suppose I could dye my own yarn, but that's a little scary for me.

Sigh. I wonder if when I will give into temptation. If you're very, very quiet, you can hear the sweater calling my name.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Am I Famous Yet?

I was just interviewed by a reporter from The Facts newspaper for an article about knitting. Not quite the Houston Chronicle, but I'll take it! Now, I just have to find a place where I can actually BUY this newspaper as I have never seen it sold around here.

Bad Little Blogger!

Yes, I've been a bit delinquent and now I'm going to make up for it with an extra long post!

First, answering some questions about Peacock Feathers:
AndreaR asked if I used the cone that Monkee had "leftover." I guess technically, the answer is yes, but considering that the cone was still enormous (see photo) when I finished the shawl, I'd hardly call it leftover yarn. I guess we now know that a pound of Zephyr can produce not one, but two large shawls and still look like a large amount of yarn.
Corisa asked how long I took to knit the shawl. I started on July 1st. I ripped back charts 1, 1a, and 2 on July 3rd. I started a second time on July 4th. I finished July 31st. But it was pretty much the only thing I knit during that time period. I was in my "I gotta finish" mood almost the entire time I was knitting the shawl. For some reason, I really wanted to be done.
And I'm sure everyone is wondering what my mom had to say...well, she hasn't gotten it yet. I sent it on Wednesday and the UPS people say that it's supposed to arrive tomorrow.

Second, a problem solved:
I asked for advice on how to stuff my heart sachets. Tabbytuxedo and Cordelia both suggested making an inner pouch out of fabric and Yarnhappy told me to try stuffing with dried lavender seed heads. So, I wandered into a craft store looking for dried lavender and found not only the lavender but little organza drawstring bags! How perfect!

With a little help from my friends

Now, after a little more knitting, a little sewing, and a little stuffing, I have three heart sachets ready to give to my friends!

Scout contemplates attacking sachets

Third, new projects!
I've cast on for Rosa (MIL sweater) and the Rebecca sweater. Here's the start of them, Rebecca on top, Rosa on bottom.

Two sweaters

I took that photo yesterday morning and both are now much larger. But I'm too lazy to take another photo right now. Rosa is being made out of Rowan Handknit Cotton DK--a 100% cotton yarn. After working with this yarn for just a few days, I can understand why people complain so much about knitting with 100% cotton. The ball of yarn and the fabric made feel soft to the touch, but when you handle a strand of the yarn, the strand feels stiff. It doesn't have any stretch or give. (I guess one would say that it has no loft.) I don't think intarsia will look very nice with this yarn and I'm wishing that I had tried harder to convince my mother-in-law to let me make the sweater out of wool--or at least a wool blend. Oh well--it's what she wanted.

On the other hand, the Rebecca sweater is being made out of ggh Bali--a 50% cotton/50% acrylic yarn. What a difference! This yarn feels spongy and the fabric is nice and drapy. I'm happy that I have this project to work on when my hands get tired working with the Handknit Cotton. If I can find a reliable supplier of Bali, I think I will use it for other worsted weight projects.

Lastly, I'm off!
I'm going out of town on business next week. It looks like I'll be stuck in so many meeting that I won't be able to take a trip to the yarn stores there. To make matters worse, I'll be attending these meeting in person, not on the phone like I normally would. So, no knitting for me during the endless meetings--sigh!