Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Lacy Back

I guess I spoke too soon when I said that I was having no problems with the Elspeth pattern. As soon as I got to the raglan shaping, I knew I didn't understand what the pattern was saying. Luckily, Jen translated the British English description of the decreases into words that I could understand. Thanks to her help, I now have the back of Elspeth finished!

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That's Elly with Elspeth. I decided that Scout was getting a little too big-headed because she was displayed so prominently on this blog. A better photo of the back can be seen here.

As soon as I finished the back, I sat down to read the directions for the front. Talk about unclear! I ended up writing row-by-row directions for the increases and decreases. So, if anyone out there working on this sweater is flummoxed by the the directions for the front, send me an email (or leave a comment) and I will be happy to email a copy of my notes to you. I wrote the directions for the 2nd size, but will include notes so that you can easily alter the row-by-row directions to fit any of the sizes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Small Diversion

One of the women that attends my SnB is getting married next month. As a gift, the rest of us are making her an afghan. Each knitter is responsible for making a 12 x 12 inch square for the project. Last night, I sat down and made my contribution.

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Moni is continuing at a good pace, but the miles and miles of stockinette is starting to wear me down. Part of the reason why I started on Elspeth was to give my hands a break from all that small-needle stockinette. I do like using small needles, but after hours of knitting with them, my hands start to hurt. So, now I switch between the two projects so that my hands don't get tired. However, I find that I have to restrain myself from just working on Elspeth exclusively. The simple lace pattern is much more interesting to knit.

Speaking of Elspeth, I am not having the problems with the pattern or chart that other knitters seem to be having. The chart makes sense to me. I don't have problems with stitch counts. Everything is fine. So if anyone out there is having problems with this pattern, remember that stitch markers are your friends.

Random cat photo:

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Elly is at the top, Cleo is on the right, and Scout (the star of this blog) is on the left.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Slowing Down

After my speedy work on Moni's back, my knitting pace has slowed. Not because I'm tired of knitting, but because I had a lot of non-knitting obligations and activities this week. Sigh!

Where am I now? I started the front panels of Moni. I knit them both separately until I finished the fair isle part and now I'm going to work them together so that I can match the shaping. On the advice of Wendy from Richesse, I decided not to duplicate stitch the yellow and blue stitches. I purchased the yarn for Moni from Wendy. Her store is small, but the service is excellent. I was a little worried about picking colors online, so Wendy emailed me more detailed descriptions of the yarn colors and helped me pick colors that went well together.

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I was trying to take a good photo of front panels, but Scout decided that she needed to "help" me again. As you can see, Scout likes Addi Turbo's, too!

Meanwhile, I picked up some soft and fluffy cashcotton for making Elspeth. I'm making a white version (not pink! not red! horrors!) and I'm continually paranoid that I am going to mess up the yarn before I even finish the jacket/bolero/shrug/whatever it is. The yarn stays in a ziplock bag. The only part of the yarn that is ever taken out of the bag is the part that has been knit up or is in the process of being knit up. The working ball stays in the bag.

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Lesson learned today: It is not easy to take photos of a white lacy thing. Here is a back lit photo attempt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Happy Star Wars Day

At 12:01 AM tomorrow morning the final installment of Star Wars will open to the general public. Trust me, I won't be there. I'm not interested in dressing up like an Ewok. (Though, I'm embarrassed to admit that I did dress up as Princess Leia for a very bad spoof-skit in graduate school. I even put my hair in buns over my ears.) I'm not a rabid Star Wars fan, but I do like the movies and I will probably see Revenge of the Sith this weekend. There is something about these movies that compels me to see them. Maybe I want to see them because the original trilogy was such a big deal when I was growing up.

I honor of the movie opening, I'm sharing this photo:

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That's an over-exposed me with the REAL Yoda--i.e. the Muppet Yoda that was used in The Empire Strikes Back, not the computer-generated Yoda of The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. The photo was taken a few years ago at an exhibit of Star Wars props that was in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Thankfully, George Lucas allowed people to take photos at the exhibit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I say, "HA!"

So many people think that I'm just nuts for knitting an adult-sized sweater on size 2 needles. "It will take forever!" they said. I'm here to prove that I'm not crazy and that "they" are wrong! Lookie!

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Yes, I finished the back of Moni today. I started on May 7th or 8th, so knitting it didn't require much more time than knitting the back any other sweater. I haven't blocked it yet (I just pinned it out for the photo shoot) so the fair-isle part isn't completely flat on the blocking board. I may have overdone it in my attempt to knit loosely through the fair-isle bit. Oh well, I'll just hope that blocking solves the problem.

I'm thinking about changing how I knit the fair-isle bits on the front panels and the sleeves. Look at the photo below. I'm thinking about duplicate stitching the circled yellow and blue stitches rather than stranding two yarns. I'll have to experiment to see how duplicate stitching looks. I think it will look better in the end. Hopefully, no one will notice that I used two different techniques to knit the same thing...I won't tell anyone.

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Other News
We paid off my cute and cuddly Mini Cooper last week. Now it's all MINE!!!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Starting Moni

I'm finally starting Moni. I bought the yarn for it in March and it has just been taunting me while I worked on Candace, the baby blanket, and the X-back tank. I decided to do Moni because I wanted to practice my fair-isle technique and I wanted to make a summer sweater. The fact that it is done on size 2 needles is just an added annoyance bonus.

The yarn for Moni is 100% cotton. And as anyone who has knit with cotton knows, it doesn't behave in the same way that wool does. For example, ribbing in cotton yarn doesn't pull in nicely as ribbing in wool yarn does. Cotton ribbing just hangs there like stockinette with texture. To counteract this cotton-yarn problem, I bought this:

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It is invisible elastic thread and it is suppose to give ribbing more pull/stretch. To use it, you carry it along with your yarn, knitting as you would do when you are knitting with two strands of yarn held together. Using the invisible elastic thread is a bit of a challenge. For one thing, it is difficult to see (you might even call it invisible). Secondly, it is very thin (similar to a thread). So, I had to be careful and watch what I was doing because I often missed the thread while I was poking my needle through stitches.

So, here's the back of Moni in progress. Don't you think the ribbing looks nice and tight? Just as nice as wool ribbing. I'm so pleased with how well the elastic thread worked. The fair-isle part looks good, too (at least that's what I keep telling myself so that I don't rip it out and redo it).

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Answering Questions

Ingrid asked if there was a trick to getting the gauge right on my x-back tank. Yes there was, but getting the gauge correct was not the only trick needed to obtain the proper fit. For the x-back to fit properly, it must be made with negative ease. That is, the finish product has to be smaller in circumference than I am! In this case, the tank has about 3 inches of negative ease. So, trick #1 is to pick a size smaller than you would expect.

Getting the proper gauge was more problematic for me. I'm not sure if my swatching/gauge problems were a result of the ribbon yarn, the seed stitch pattern, or both. Whatever contributed, the results were clear--it was impossible for me to judge the gauge of the final product by using a small swatch. The resulting fabric has quite a bit of stretch to it, and a small swatch cannot demontrate just how much a larger piece of fabric will stretch. For example, with size 15 needles, my swatch had a gauge of 3 sts/inch (the required gauge), but the final product had a gauge closer to 2.5 sts/inch. With size 11 needles, the swatch had a gauge of 4 sts/inch, and the final product had a gauge of around 3 sts/inch. So, for me at least, trick #2 was trial and error until I found a combination of needle size and pattern size that gave me the correct fit.

Monkee asked how I manage to get Scout to look up when I'm taking pictures. Her cat, Fritty, will not mug for the camera like Scout does. There is no trick to getting Scout to look at the camera. Scout knows her name and responds to it like a puppy dog. All I have to do is call her name and she looks at me (or comes running if she's in another room). I call her my little puppy cat.

Other Stuff
I found cute buttons for the stripe-y sweater:
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I blocked the blanket for my co-worker's baby of unknown gender. Sorry, that I didn't take an attractive photo. After washing and de-cat-hairing the blanket, I wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible so I didn't haul it around the house looking for good, natural light. The blanket is now in an appropriately gender-neutral package with some gender-neutral onesies and will be shipped off today.
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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Wahoo! X-back success

After only four attempts (one of which was spectacularly bad), I finally have a Ribbon X-back tank that fits me! True, versions 2 and 3 never made past the 4-inch mark, but they still involved casting on, knitting furiously, frogging, and rewinding yarn. So, here is x-back version 4 in all its glory:

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Pattern: Ribbon X-back from Spring 2005, size x-small
Yarn: Crystal Palace Deco Ribbon in color 9237, strawberry soda
Needles: US size 11
Please ignore my squinty face and the hair that's sticking up. I thought about cropping my head off, but I have decided that I don't like headless photos. Photos look better with heads and I don't need to conceal my identity. Cyber-creep Monkee already knows what I look like.

Here's the back:

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I could go on and on about my trials with this tank top, but what's the point? I finished it and I'm happy. It's comfortable, cute, and perfect for this summer!

Thursday, May 05, 2005


I finished Candace--the second sweater for my baby niece. (It still needs buttons--Walmart, here I come!)

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Pattern: Candace Baby Cardigan from Knitting Pattern-a-Day calendar, size 1-2 years
Yarn: Regia 4-ply in colors 5271 (jacquard) and 1991 (gray heather)
Needles: US size 2 and 4
Cat: Scout, again (she's such a camera hog!)

I even added a *ahem* design feature. I didn't seam the sleeves all the way to the cuffs and then did a single-crochet around the selvage edge. (My first attempt at crocheting!) I did this because I cast on the wrong number of stitches when I started the sleeves, but didn't discover my oops until I was nearly finished with the increases. I adjusted the increases so that the sleeve cap would be the proper width, but I worried that the cuff openings would be too small. My design feature provides a larger opening for baby hands. I think it looks good. Shhh! Don't tell my niece that her auntie made a mistake.

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And what about the X-back tank? Don't ask.

Other Stuff
I want a Richard Feynman stamp. Though the Buckminster Fuller stamp is much more amusing.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

One of these things is not like the others

My favorite Houston yarn store had a sale last week. All Debbie Bliss cashmerino was on sale for 25% off. I went on the last day of the sale, hoping that the selection would be limited and I wouldn't buy anything. (I don't really need another project right now.) But alas, the best laid plans...well, you know. I left the store with this:

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Enough to make Tempting. I have been toying with the idea of knitting Tempting for quite some time, but just never had a strong enough urge to hunt down appropriate yarn. How can I resist now that I found the yarn just sitting around waiting for me to pick it up?

However, the purchase of this yarn just confirms that I am in a rut. Let's see if you can figure out the trend in my wardrobe. It's time to play that old Sesame Street game! Which one of these things just doesn't belong?* (1) Tempting yarn above; (2) Reversible Rib Shawl; (3) Arrowhead sweater; (4) Moni (next on the needles); (5) Ribbon X-back (in progress again); (6) Debbie Bliss's Grace (to be knit in later this summer) or (7) a bunch of store-bought clothes. Pondering, pondering...

Time to confess. Hi, my name is Laura and I'm addicted to red and pink clothes. At least I'm not the only one.

* The answer is Moni--as if you couldn't tell!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Alligators in the Sewer

Peter and I went to Brazos Bend State Park this weekend. The park has several wetland areas and is home to many wild alligators. Before entering the trails around the lakes, we read the alligator warning signs and practiced running away from the alligators. After just being on the trail for a few minutes we spotted our first alligator. It was just a baby and less than 2 feet long. We then saw several more babies.

At this point, we were very excited because we weren’t sure that we were going to see any alligators at all! So we were quite surprised when we saw the GIANT alligator. That big boy had to be at least 12 feet long. I was quite happy that it was on the other bank of the marshy area.

Next, we had an opportunity to get up close and personal with a 6-8 footer. He (or she) was sunning on the bank next to the trail. Close enough to touch.

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Impressive, huh? What was even more impressive were the parents of the little kids that allowed their children to stand less than 5 feet from the snout of that reptile. At least Peter and I felt comfortable getting close to the alligator knowing that we were both capable of out running a 5-year-old girl. More pics of this camera ham here and here.

In knitting news, I finished knitting baby blanket for my coworker’s child-to-be. I still need to block it and place it in an appropriately frilly package, so no new photo for now. I also finished knitting the pieces of Candace. Seaming is currently in progress:

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I also ripped out my humongous X-back tank and started re-knitting. But that’s another gory story to be told at a later time.