Monday, February 27, 2006

Lessons Learned

Think Pink!

1. When the first line of a pattern is "string 450 glass beads onto yarn," don't expect to have too much fun. Stringing the beads was a pain. Pushing the beads down the yarn as I knit was more of a pain.

2. When a pattern specifies a certain bead size and the store doesn't carry that bead size, buying a different size believing that it is "close enough" is not a good idea. I had trouble stringing my beads and I think the beads look a little small on the sock. Also, some of the beads like to shift places.

3. When a you have pretty beads that are clear with colored holes, don't expect that color to stay after pushing the beads down the yarn a lot. I strung blue beads and pink beads on my yarn. The blue beads' color lined the holes of the beads. The pink beads were solid colored. I ended up knitting with clear beads and pink beads. The clear beads don't show up as well. I wonder if I should just string pink beads onto the second sock?

4. When you have yarn that is half blue and half pink, and you want it to appear more pink than blue, the yarn is going to appear more blue than pink. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Baby Stripe courtesy of Jennifer. (Thanks Jennifer!) I was actually hoping that this yarn would pool into blue and pink blotches. No such luck. Perfect stripes.

5. When you think there is an error in the pattern, and you can't get an immediate response from the designer, just make something up. There are a couple of errors in the heel instructions. The errors are probably quite obvious to any experienced sock knitter, and because of my VAST experience* with socks, I felt confident making up instructions for the heel. To be fair, the designer did send me the pattern corrections in a reasonable amount of time, but I was too impatient. I wanted an instant answer.

6. When a pattern says "knit until sock is 0.5 inches less than desired length," and you have no idea what the desired length is, ask for help on your blog. Using this size chart, I'm guessing that SG's shoe size is 11 or 12. Using this shoe size to foot size chart, I'm estimating that SG's foot is 7 to 7.33 inches long. But how do I translate this information to a "desired length?" Should the sock be 7 inches long? 6.5 inches long? 6 inches long? Please help me!

* for those who don't know, my "vast experience" with socks is pretty much nonexistent.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Niecephew's First Knitted Gift

What do you mean it's not a cat mat?
(click for bigger version)

Pattern: Curlicue Coverlet from Oat Couture
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% wool) in Oriental Jade, 6 skeins
Needles: US size 5
Modifications: provisional cast-on, grafted seam
Cats: Scout and Elly, getting along for once.
Catless photo: here
Comments: I was a little worried about whether the blanket would be flat when I got ready to take this pre-blocking photo. I needed to tug and smooth quite a bit to get it to be flat-ish. But when I got the whole thing wet and put it on the bed to block, it wanted to be flat. No tugging required. All I had to do was pull it out to shape.

I love the shape and the curvy lines of this blanket and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. Hopefully, Niecephew will get a lot of good use from this. However, I think I liked the Pinwheel Afghan better than Curlicue. I liked the lace edge better, I like the reversibility better, and I liked the lack of double-sized short rows better.

I'm not sure how quickly I'll be getting this shipped off to my brother and SIL. Niecephew is not due to make an appearance until the end of May. (However, I'm encouraging SIL to wait until the first week in June so that the baby can have the same birthday as my brother or me. My birthday is also their anniversary. Wouldn't it be great to have three super events to celebrate in one day?) I intend to send a sweater for Eva (Niecephew's older sister) along with the blanket, but right now that sweater looks like several balls of yarn in a plastic bag. I wonder when it will magically transform into a sweater?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain

By George, she's got it!*

Not long ago, I wrote about how bad I am at grafting. Nearly all my attempts at grafting resulted in several "do overs." Part of my troubles with grafting was my inability to understand which way the tapestry needle goes through the loops. I tried using several sets of written directions. I tried following drawings and ignoring the words. But it didn't sink in. Until now. I found Interweave Knits's article titled "Grafting Made Easy."** These directions make so much more sense to me. Instead of saying put the needle in knitwise or purlwise, the article says put the needle down or up through the loops. Plus, it describes how to graft different edges and stitches. I get it now. No do overs this time.

With a little bit of luck...Look, I'm grafting! I did a provisional cast-on for Curlicue so that I wouldn't have a seam on the outer sections of the blanket. Overall, I'm satisfied with the graft. However, the grafted bit has one more stockinette rows between the garter stitch ridges. The extra row is the grafted row, of course. When I started this thing, I thought that I should do one less stockinette row because I knew grafting would add an extra row. But I would have had to fiddle with the short rows if I had knitted one fewer row and, at the time, I didn't want to think about it too hard. So now I have an extra row. At least I expected it.'ll run amuckFor the seam on the inner sections I did what I'm calling a half-graft. I attached the live stitches of the last inner section to the edge of the first inner section. (Do you like how I'm assuming that everyone who reads this is familiar with the pattern? No? Neither do I.) In this part of the blanket, I had to start over once because I forgot to pick up the short row wraps as I grafted, and then I had to start over two more times because I didn't properly line up the live stitches to the rows on the other side. When I finished, I had a huge hole in the middle. Thankfully, I was able to close it up without any puckering.

I can't decide if grafting was worth it for this blanket. In theory, grafting should make the seam invisible. But in reality, I think the seam is MORE visible on the right side than it would have been if I had simply sewn it. I think I could devise a way to make a grafted seam that was invisible on the right side, but I don't have that kind of motivation right now.

* Isn't it odd that Henry Higgins uses such poor grammar?

** This article can be found in Beyond the Basics in the Subscriber-Only Content part of IK's website.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Knitted graffiti--the Houston Press did a story in December and now it's the Chronicle's turn. I never thought that the Chronicle would ever follow in the Houston Press's footsteps. Suddenly, I have an urge to knit with fun fur. I think my Mini Cooper needs a fun fur antenna cozy. I need to find sparkly red fun fur.

And from Cordelia, knitting in hyperbolic space.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Ellyversary

All Hail Princess Elly!Last Friday was the 8th Ellyversary. Eight years ago, Elly came to live with Peter and me. Before Elly became a part of our family, Peter was a confirmed dog person. He only agreed to get a cat because we lived in an apartment that was too small for a dog. But Elly completely changed Peter's mind about cats.

We found Elly at the Town Lake Animal Shelter in Austin. When we first saw her, she was sitting in the back of her cage, trying to stay warm. But when I opened the cage, she came to greet us and happily allowed us to hold her. After seeing how loving she was, we quickly filled out the adoption papers, and Elly became our little Princess.

Peter go used to having a cat as quickly as Elly got used to having people worship her. At the time, Peter was a graduate student and I was working full time. So, Peter and Elly had lots of time to hang out together. They played games (fetch was their favorite), and Elly sat on Peter's lap or on his desk while he studied. Peter quickly learned that having a cat was like having a dog, only easier and better.

For the first few years that we had Elly, she would follow us from room to room. She didn't like staying in a room unless a person was present. Although she doesn't do that anymore, she is still very sweet, affectionate, and cooperative. She has never bitten or scratched a person (not even the vet!). She allows strange children to pet her for hours. When we need her to go into her cat carrier, we just put her in front of the door and she walks in a sits down. She does this despite the fact that nothing good ever happens when she goes into her carrier.

So Happy Ellyversary Princess Cat! I'm so happy that you are our #1 baby girl. And your sisters thank you for softening up Peter so that they could have a home, too.

Is this my Princess throne?

(Did you notice? I finished knitting Curlicue. Now I need a couple of uninterrupted hours to graft/seam the edges together.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Power of Cuteness

After knitting my first pair of socks, I admitted that I wasn't so enamored with the process. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. After that, Rachel and I decided to form an Apathetic Sock Knitters Club. We didn't actually do anything as club members, we just agreed not to knit socks. Well, Rachel caved. She's going to knit socks. I tried to act appalled when I read about it, but truthfully, I was on the verge of adding a pair of socks to my knitting line up. What happened to melt my resolve? Cuteness happened.

A couple of weeks ago, Peter and I went to our friends' house for a mellow Super Bowl party. I took my knitting with me because I wasn't particularly interested in the game. The hostess of the party quilts and crochets so she doesn't mind me knitting in her house (she started quilting during the game). At the time, I was just beginning the 3rd and 4th sleeves of Rogue.

Our friends have the cutest, sweetest, most well-behaved girl in the world. I know everyone thinks that they have the best child in the world, but I know for a fact that this girl is the best child in the world because I'm saying that as a non-parent and a non-relative. Anyway, while I was knitting, Sweet Girl came to sit next to me. After watching me for a minute she started asking questions:

SG: What are you doing?
Me: I'm knitting.
SG: Why do you have two sticks?
Me: I have two sticks because I need two sticks. Your mother only uses one stick because she crochets. This is different. This is knitting.
SG: What are you making?
Me: These are the sleeves to a sweater.
(Of course, they looked nothing like sleeves at this point, I had only about 3 inches finished.)
SG looks doubtful.
I put one of the sleeves around my wrist.
Me: See? This is the start of the sleeve. I have to knit for a long time to make the sleeve go all the way up my arm.
SG is still not convinced.
SG: Can you make socks?
Me: Yes, I can make socks. I made a pair of socks before.
SG: Can you make socks now?
Me: No, I can't make socks now. I don't have yarn to make socks with me. I'm making sleeves now.
SG: Then you can make socks?
Me: I guess I could make socks afterward.
SG: I want to see you make socks.
Me: Well, I need to finish this sweater first.
SG: When will the sweater be finished?
Me: In a week or two.
SG: Will you wear the sweater the next time I see you?
Me: Yes I will. I promise.
SG: And you will make socks, too.
Me: Ok, I will.

Yes, I'm a pushover. Now I want to make socks for this little girl. But where to find patterns for socks that fit a five-year-old girl? I have no idea. Google help me find a few, but only one appealed to me (the middle on on this page), and it's too small. Yes, I know that I could just size it up, but I really have no idea how much bigger to make it and I'd have to figure out how to turn the heel on my own, so I'm a little nervous about it.

Then, I flipped through the only source of sock patterns that I own: 2006 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. I found the Spring Melody Socks pattern (scroll down). They might be a little big, but they are so cute and girly and BEADED. Yes, now I have an excuse to knit socks despite my membership in the Apathetic Sock Knitters Club--the beads. I have been thinking about trying some beaded knitting, but wasn't sure what to make.

Now, all I have to do is convince Peter that I need more yarn. In anticipation of my job quitting, I stocked up on lots of yarn for various projects. So now Peter thinks I don't need anymore yarn for the time being. Do you think he will buy "SG really needs pink, beaded socks and she's so cute and she wants me to make socks" as a reason?

Last night at the SnB, Monkee accused me of not linking to her blog enough. She said that even though she knows that I link to her blog more than I link to any other blog. I link to her blog so much because I see her in person practically every week. So, members of the SnB: this is Monkee's blog. Monkee goes by a different name in real life. Monkee's real name starts with an M. I'm sure that's enough hints for you to figure out who Monkee is. Oh, and this is Meredith's blog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Knitting Barf

Ok, not the most pleasant title. But this wasn't the most exciting or enjoyable knitting experience. I just produced this thing without caring for it at all. It makes me resent the time I took to make it.


Pattern: Noro scarflet, based on the Lady Eleanor pattern
Yarn: Noro Kureyon (yuck) in color #40 (with yucky brown), two balls
Needles: US size 8
Final Dimensions: 45 inches long, 7 inches wide after blocking
Cat: Scout
Comments: This is a sample I made for a entrelac class that I will be teaching at a LYS. I was tempted to stop at one ball because I hated it so much, but decided to continue. I didn't even bother to take a good photo of this thing. Click on the image for a slightly bigger view.

The following is NOT knitting barf:

Thanks for all the kind comments on Rogue! I was overwhelmed by all the responses that I got. I wanted to answer them all, but life is getting in the way. Less time for knitting, even less time for blogging and playing on the computer.

I was also tickled by all the anti-Noro comments. If I were at all adept at graphical design, I would make a "Just Say No to Noro" button. But alas, I'm not so gifted and I don't have time to learn.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Hard Road to Rogue is Over!

Am I a Rogue?

Pattern: Rogue, size 39"
Yarn: Cestari 2-ply worsted in lilac heather, 7 skeins (Hey! That's not pink!)
Needles: US size 7
1. I didn't bind off for the back-neck. I just put the stitches on a holder and then knitted them when starting the hood (and decreased two stitches in the process). This modification gets rid of most of the seam on the back.
2. I did a three-needle bind off for the shoulders.
3. I didn't make the 2" facing on the hem or the cuff. I used a provisional cast-on and then followed the instructions in the Rogue mods for altering the hem.
Comments: Everything has already been said about this pattern. It is wonderfully written, the charts are clear, and the little details and features are cleverly done. At first I was reluctant to jump on the Rogue-bandwagon, but now I'm glad that I did.
The traditional Rogue pose:

I'm not a Rogue, I'm a follower. Baaa!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Queen Bee Yarn?

I'm trying some Noro Kureyon right now. I don't understand why so many knitters love Noro yarn. Ok, I see the beautiful colors, but why do all of the colorways have some icky color (or colors) that ruins the entire colorway? For example, look at #40. Intense blues and purples--pretty pretty--then BANG! ugly orangish brown. I want to cut that section out of the ball.

The quality of the yarn leaves much to be desired, too. It's not particularly soft. It has gigantic pieces of grass "spun" into it. I put spun in quotation marks because some sections of the yarn are not spun at all. The yarn splits. It's hard to frog. It can't make up it's mind if it wants to be fingering-weight yarn or bulky-weight yarn.

Schizophrenic Yarn

Here you see a very short section of yarn straight from the ball. That's a US size 8 needle for comparison. What the heck? How am I supposed to knit this? Some parts of the fabric are too loose, some parts are too tight, and some are just right. Phooey. If I really want a self-striping yarn, I'm reaching for Karaoke instead.

Obviously, I'm finding very little to like about this yarn. Yet, so many knitters love the stuff! They sigh over it. They drool over it. So, I started thinking. Is Noro like that super-popular girl in high school that everyone secretly hates but no one is brave enough to bad-mouth? Is Noro the Queen Bee of the Local Yarn Store? Come on fellow knitters! Take a stand against Noro! Noro only gains her power and popularity from us because we let her have it. If we don't give into the Noro-hype, her desirability will diminish and we will no longer be tempted to fork out $8+ ($10 at my LYS*) for a ball of icky yarn.

Rogue is finished. Rainy weather and a lack of a photographer are preventing me from posting a complete finished object photo and report. Stay tuned.

See the Knitting Olympics button on the sidebar? Keeping up with my not-a-joiner attitude, I didn't get suckered in to participating in the events that seem to be designed to make knitting stressful. However, perhaps these Olympics will be a good thing for the knitting world. The participating knitters appear to be challenging themselves, which is important for one to become a better knitter. But because I'm always on the lookout for knitting challenges, the Knitting Olympics didn't appeal to me. And I'm not a joiner.

*Thankfully, I didn't purchase this yarn and I'm not keeping the thing I'm knitting either.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Need a Thneed

In the Lorax by Dr. Seuss, The Once-ler and his family knit thneeds from the tops of truffula trees. Thneeds, as you may recall, were oddly-shaped, multi-purpose. . .uh. . .things. Like snowflakes, no two thneeds were the same. As a child (and even now) I imagined that thneeds were knitted sweaters or jumpsuits that had a few extra sleeves. Behold the makings of a thneed!

Machine Washable Purple Sheepie Thneed!

One body with hood and 3.2-ish sleeves. Should I attempt to find places to attach the extra pieces? (Why did I ask that? Someone is bound to say yes.)

Yes, I finished knitting Rogue for the second time and I still don't have a complete sweater to show for all that work. The super terrific, wonderful, amazing people at Chester Farms really came through for me. Not only did they manage to locate yarn from the same dye lot, they made sure that it perfectly matched the sample that I sent. Then, they sent me enough yarn to reknit the discolored bits for free. FREE! No charge on the yarn or the shipping! And a note of apology, too. Let me shout it from the highest overpass in Houston, "The purveyors of the machine washable purple sheepies are the best!"

Many tiny orangesI'd better get cracking on seaming Rogue/Thneed together. The weather is supposed to be cold this weekend. It may be the last chance I have to wear a sweater before next winter. My orange tree thinks that it is already spring. (Click that photo to get a better look at the little oranges.)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Thanks and Answers and Other Stuff

Thank you for all your words of encouragement and support. I'll write my official letter of resignation next week and begin sorting through this crazy mess of an office that I have here. That should take most of my last month of employment.

And another big thanks to all who referred me to Eunny's Steeking Chronicles. I have skimmed through the articles, but will save doing a thorough read for when I actually embark on knitting Lotus. And thanks for all the votes of confidence on the fair isle, too. But please understand that I'm not worried about the actual knitting. After all, the first thing I ever knit was a fair isle sweater. It's the cutting that scares me. All my previous fair isle knitting were worked flat (fair isle purling--YUK!)

Terby asked how large the dayflower motifs were on the shawl. Using my highly inexact measuring method (hold up knitting and guess) I'd say that each flower is 1.5 inches tall and 1 inch wide. If you look at the photo in this entry you can see a smidgen of my blocking board. The grid on the blocking board has 1 x 1 inch squares. So you can guesstimate, too!

Tasha asked if I could do anything about the "saggy, baggy" shoulders on Lotus. (Sorry Tasha, I can't get your blog url to work for me.) I guess the answer is: Maybe if I really thought about it, but I'm not going to. The body of the sweater is knit as a straight tube, the armholes are cut into the sides, and the sleeves are sewn in. So it is a drop-shoulder sweater and those types of sweaters are often oversized and/or baggy in some places. I have no intention to mess around with modifying my first steeked sweater.

A little puckering never hurt anyoneMeanwhile: Curlicue continues to grow and is showing the expected puckering. (That's Elly's tail.) I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with this pattern. With all the hubbabaloo about how horribly difficult it the blanket is to knit, I expected more of a challenge. But no, the pattern seems confusing when you first sit down to read it, but once you start knitting it make sense and is actually quite straight-forward. I rarely count stitches and I only count rows to find out how much farther I need to go. Click photo to make it bigger! (Look ma, I'm learning html!)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What have I done?!

Knitting content to return tomorrow...

I quit my job. After many months of talking about quitting my job, I called penultimate boss-man this morning and told him that I wanted to be gone by the beginning of March. Thankfully, I don't have to make the same call to ultimate boss-man. My direct supervisor (boss-man) has known since August that I wanted to quit, but he wants to quit too so he didn't tell anyone about my situation. (Yes, I have three supervisors, five if you count the two boss-women who also work on my project but are not considered my direct supervisors.)

I have been working for this company in some capacity since 1998. So, although I have been wanting to quit for some time, I still cried when I actually gave my verbal resignation. Overall, the company has been good to me over the years, but some recent developments have made it difficult for me to continue loving my job.

Starting next month I will be a freelance writer and editor specializing in science education print and electronic publications. So if you need a freelancer, contact me. I'm going to need the work!