Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Cyfrgoll is a Welsh word meaning damnation, loss, or perdition.

I was really humming along, having turned the Welsh heel last night. And then, while picking up the stitches on the heel flap, I felt a strange slackness. As the picture shows, I had somehow missed one of the selvedge edge stitches on the way up the heel flap, and the whole thing started coming loose. Two evening's worth of work down the tubes.

On the upside, I'll get to practice the Welsh heel again. It's a really cool way to do a heel -- it looks almost completely rounded, like a little cup. I have to admit that the fault lies solely with me. What I can't figure out is why it didn't start unraveling earlier.


Saturday, April 14, 2007


I'm thinking I need to rename this blog, considering since I've started it, I've knit 3.5 pairs of socks for each sweater. Unfortunately, Sondheim never wrote any snappy lyrics about sock knitting, so here we are.

I started knitting some new socks last night. It's this great mottled Opal ZwergerGarn in a colorway called Mosaic. It's a bluish gray with ivory. It knits up in a very raggy pattern, which is a little difficult to see for tiny stitches. I told Kathleen at the knitting meetup that it looked like cheese, and she said, "Yes, Stilton." I thought that was spot on.

Because cheese was mentioned, I felt the need to browse the cheese section at Central Market while shopping this afternoon -- the power of positive suggestion and all that. All the Stiltons were white with mangoes and cranberries and other Frankencheese combinations. But then some Gorgonzola caught my eye, and I thought that it looked exactly like my sock. So they have been dubbed the Gorgonzola Socks.

Why just look at cheese when you can buy it and eat it? As I type, I've just had a couple of schmeers on some crackers. Now, I've had Gorgonzola in sauces, but I've never eaten it straight up. My tongue is numb.

This is some yarn that I picked up when I was in Pennsylvania last summer. I got it at this little place called The Mannings, which is out in the country. They seem to focus on weaving, but they have a great yarn shop in the front. I've bought stuff from them online, and they're great -- very friendly and very fast.

There's been movement on the ZimmerZipper front. In my head, anyways. Julia (Yarn Maven in the Blogs I Follow section on the right) talked me through the ins and outs of zipper installation this morning. She really convinced me that this is something I could do. She also suggested I use Zippersource to order a zipper online. They will make zippers to custom lengths for you, down to the 1/2 inch.

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive during my zipper frustrations. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


So, this morning, whilst on personal leave to take care of some family business, I decided to take my ZimmerZipper Cardigan by a fabric store to get a zipper, which I would then take by a tailor to have it put in. Hilarity ensued.

The nice saleswoman at Hancock Fabrics took one look at the sweater and told me that there was no way they would have a zipper that long in the store. I need what I figure is a 28" zipper. This does not seem extravagantly long. I asked her if they had patterns for coats and jackets there at the fabric store, and, if so, how did her customers get zippers to put in them? She just shrugged. She suggested that they tailor might have a better supply of zippers.

Off to the tailors. The woman behind the counter actually popped her eyes when I mentioned that I had knit this sweater. She took the sweater to the back where she apparently consulted with someone, because when she came back, she said, "He says no." I asked if it was "no -- we don't have a zipper for this," or "no -- we can't put this in." The answer? Both.

She said that they couldn't put zippers in knit fabrics. I said, politely, that I was aware of the existence of zippers in knit fabrics. I pointed to the sweater the woman behind the counter was wearing, zipper and all. Another woman came over and took a look, expressed amazement at my ability to do such a thing ("Look! That chimpanzee is roller skating!") and took it to the back. I heard Conan the Tailor grunt something at her, and she came back, shaking her head.

I explained that while I could knit, I didn't know anything about sewing. She said that sewing a zipper into a knit garment would be too difficult. I patiently replied that yes, I'm sure it is difficult, which is why I'm willing to pay someone else to do this. She shrugged. When I asked if she could recommend someone who might be able to do this, she suggested an embroidery shop that she thought used to be at one of the local malls, but might not be anymore.


She did tell me that I'd done a good job on the sweater as I left the shop.

So now I'm bound and determined to sew a zipper on myself, by hand. If I can just figure out where to get one. Did I give up to easily on the fabric stores? Anyone have an idea of where I can get a brown, 28" separating zipper -- perhaps from an online source? I'm going to put it on myself and wear it to the tailor shop, even if it's July.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Here Is My Spout

This has been quite the weekend for knitting up loose ends. Yesterday, I managed to weave in the ends and block my cardigan sweater. And today, after a delicious Easter meal at my sisters, I started looking around for something to stick a needle in. And there was my victim, sitting on the kitchen counter.

While cooking dinner one night last week, I'd noticed that the tea cozy I'd knit back in December was looking kind of sloppy. So I grabbed it this afternoon, and added a three round 1x1 ribbing to the steek holes that I'd just left flopping around. To get an idea of what it looked like before, click on the Tea Cozy link under "Off Needles" on the right. I think it looks much better now.

I must have reached a new level of personal growth, because I jumped right into picking up and knitting without an increase in pulse, perspiration or blood pressure.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cardigan Spa

What do you know? I got motivated!

This afternoon I wove in all the loose ends, which weren't all that many, considering this sweater was knit in the round. Most of them were around the armpits, which allowed me to use the weaving-in process to help with those inevitable small holes that accompany the joining of different directions of knitting. I also tacked the down the collar, a task I'd been dreading. Turns it out it took 10 minutes.

I got out the extra thick beach towel which should really be renamed. It's never been to a beach, much less a swimming pool. It's used mostly to handle sopping up minor floods and blocking knitting. Anyway, it has assumed the usual position on the guest room floor. I've used blocking wires and pins to get this into the shape I want, including stretching the sleeves out a bit. I wish I'd knit them maybe an inch or two longer and I'm hoping blocking will take care of this.

Rather than wet block this as I've done with items in the past, I decided to steam block it, for several reasons:

  • I'm lazy
  • I saw Lily Chin do this on Knitty Gritty this week and it looked easy
  • I'm lazy

So I got out my trusty Black & Decker iron -- which cracks me up. I love that I have a clothes iron which is made by Black & Decker. I just haven't figured out why it's not black. Have I ever seen black irons in stores? We used to have a Black & Decker coffee maker that was black. How can you market steam irons to men unless they're black? I digress...

I'm a little concerned that the steam blocking method isn't going to get through to the back of the sweater. But I'm only a little concerned, since I don't think that this sweater needs all that much blocking. It's basically the size I want (except for the sleeves). Since I'm going to be taking it to a tailor to get a zipper put in, I thought I'd make sure everything was just so.

Now that its pores are open, toxins have been flushed, and the sweater is all relaxed, I just have to wait for it to dry, buy a zipper, and take it to a tailor.

The end is in sight. Freakishly, it's sleeting outside as I type this, quite a rarity for this part of the world in April. Too bad it isn't already done!

Model Railways

Hope everyone enjoyed the previous April Fool's Day post. Rest assured I didn't knit any more of these, although with a light freeze expected tonight, maybe I should have. It's too wet and miserable to be out harvesting the loquat "crop" today, so they might be a loss. On the upside, I still have lots of jam left over from last year.

I finished the Gentleman's Sock(s) in Railway Stitch this morning. I had to redo the toe on the second sock. I was fiddling with the stitches after completing the Kitchener grafting, when the yarn got snagged. I couldn't do anything with it -- there was this random 2" loop of yarn right on the toe of the sock! Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I took a pair of scissors to one corner of the toe, unraveled a few rounds, spliced the yarn, and tried it again. Much better the second time around.

It's such a gray and miserable day today that I couldn't get a good picture of these. They fit well, and they're definitely outside the box labeled "Dark Colors that Steven Likes and Wears All the Time." There are a lot of socks in that box.

If I can get motivated about it, I may tack down the collar on the ZimmerZipper Cardigan and get that blocked this weekend. I hadn't bothered finishing it, thinking that I wouldn't have a chance to wear it for at least another 7 months. It sure would have come in handy today.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lo, 'Quats!

For the past two years, I've used the fruit from my front yard loquat tree to make loquat jam under my own Black Dog label. Last year's was a cinnamon-loquat variety, liked by at least one Pennsylvania four-and-a-half-year old. The year before that, I submitted a couple of jars in the category of Jam-Tropical Fruit-Any to the State Fair of Texas. I got a not-quite-respectable 10th place. What color ribbon would you get if they handed out ribbons for 10th place? Probably "loquat."

I had all but written off this year's crop due to the dry winter we've had. What few loquats there were on the tree had a scrawniness to them that did not bode well. Then, in the last few weeks, we've had rain. And the loquats have responded. Looks like I know what I'll be doing next weekend. Loquats are delicate things that don't store well, so I pretty much have to pick, peel, cook and jar them all on the same day.

Loquats, being semi-tropical, are some of the first tree fruit to ripen during the calendar year and are subject to the vagaries of central Texas winter weather. So, in order to protect next year's crop, I've decided to knit individual cozies that could be slipped over each delicate fruit as it emerges. The one here is a prototype. If I used leftover sock yarn from all of my projects, I should have a head start on next year. To get an idea of the scope of this project, see the second picture -- the loquat cozy is circled in red.

Better get to knitting...