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