Monday, December 29, 2008


Call me Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, 'cause I've vanquished this Cobra.

I went to Jo Ann's and got a zipper and spent the afternoon putting it in. I'm crappy at sewing and never really feel like I know what I'm doing with a needle and thread. But it looks presentable. One minor problem -- the green stripes on the collar don't quite match up when it's zipped up. I'm going to wait a while and see if this still bugs me.

Had to get these pictures taken quickly while we still had some daylight. Poor Jeff -- having to put up with my art direction and complaints about shadows, how big my tummy looks at certain angles and the burning of daylight. I don't know why he puts up with me sometimes!

Sewing in zippers is not exactly fraught with peril. Get things lined up right and it's hard to go wrong. But how does one actually get started? Do you tie knots? What is the back supposed to look like and does it matter? What do you do with the extra bit of zipper tape at the top of the zipper? I folded it down and sewed the hell out of it to try and get some reinforcement in what is likely to be a highly-stressed area. Right now I'm just happy that the zipper goes up and down smoothly without catching on anything. Which is probably the point.

I had gotten it into my head that the collar was quite tall, hence the name of the pattern. Not so. In actual fact, it's a rather inconspicuous 12-row collar that's barely there at all. Turns out it's not named after the animal, the federally mandated insurance program, or, as I'm sure my friend Tom might think, a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor.

A closer reading of the pattern reveals that it was named after a British sports car from the 1960s. That makes sense.

I'm really going to enjoy wearing this.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All Over But the Zippin'

I've finished all the knitting on the Cobra Sweater. I just need to order the zipper and sew it in. I ain't scared.

Yesterday I sewed up the shoulder seams and attached the sleeves. Attaching sleeves always spooks me a little. The seaming is not one-to-one like the shoulders are, and instructions like "pick up on or two bars on the selvage side" are a bit too squishy for my taste. I don't like instructions with the word "or" in them. As someone who teaches people about the difference between "and" and "or" for a living, the word "or" conjures frightening visions that end with opening cans of Pandora's worms. Or something like that.

All in all, I'm pleased. Using the XL size for all lengths (measured in inches) and the Medium size for width (measured in stiches) worked better than I thought it would. I'm not actually a medium by any stretch of either the imagination or of knit fabric, but my gauge was a little on the outside of what as called for, so all came out well in the end. The sleeves roll a bit where they're seamed to the body, but I'm hoping steam blocking wll alleviate that to some extent. I'm not doing a full-on Baptist immersion to block this sweater like I usually do with garments that have more sins to atone for. I'm planning on puffing the iron over it.

Knitflix alert:

Last night, Jeff and I watched "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (1967), despite our Uncle Cliffy's dismal assessment of it. I have to say it wasn't all that bad. Interesting in that the movie was cast almost entirely by the actors in the original Broadway production (with the notable absence of Charles Nelson Reilly)-- a rather uncommon practice. The songs are kind of there, and the producer sure didn't get his money's worth out of Bob Fosse for the choreography, but the sets were very 60's stylish and the things they did with color were amazing.

Anyway, the boss of the company (Rudy Vallee) featured in the movie is a closeted knitter. J. Pierpont Finch, (Robert Morse), being a cunning up-and-comer in the organization, pretends to knit, too, in order to have an "in" with the boss. Here's a still I took with my camera from the TV. The boss is very proud of the magenta and gold chenille sweater he's sporting. Too bad you can't see the yellow be-pom-pommed golf club covers he's made!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blacksleeves, or What Gauge is This?

I could feel this coming for several days. You know, that sinking feeling that maybe there won't be enough yarn to finish your project? I have no idea why. I bought enough yarn for the largest size in the pattern, although I'm making the medium size for widths and the XL for lengths. Should still work right? I mean, I'm getting gauge, yet I could tell I was still going to come up short.

Oh -- and did I mention that I know my LYS doesn't have any more yarn in the color from the same dyelot because I cleaned them out? The more I knit this thing, the closer and closer I got to a point where I had to make a decision -- either start over, or be creative. Call me creative.

First, I checked Ravelry. I found two hanks of the Cascade 220 Heathers in Jet in the same dyelot, but they weren't up for trade or sale, and they looked like they'd been used. I didn't have the patience or nerve to track their owners down and go through all that.

So I went to The Knitting Nest and got the last hank of Jet, but in another dyelot. But, to disguise any possible striping, I'm using it above the fennel-colored stripes in the sleeves only. I can't see any color shift at all. If there is one visible, it will be where the sleeves, join the main part of the body. And maybe that won't look bad, right?

Back to knitting...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Koolhaas & Starbucks

A friend of mine turned 40 a few weeks ago, and I wanted to knit her something for her birthday celebration slated for New Year's Eve. I needed to do something fast and it needed to be out of yarn I had.

I dug around in my basket of leftovers and found a nearly complete hank of purple Cascade 220 (is there nothing it can't do?) that I'd used to finish up a pillow a few years back. I can't imagine I would use this for anything else, and I wanted to try another Koolhaas hat from the 2007 Interweave Knits holiday knitting issue. I made it in something like two days. Knitting into the back of those twisted knit stitches and trying to cross them without a cable needle takes a bit of deftness that I had trouble calling forth, but it's worth it. It looks nice if I say so myself, and I think Shannon will like it.

I tried it on myself and found that I liked the way this women's size fit on my head better than the men's version I knitted back in the spring. I might try this just one more time so that I can get one that fits a bit better. I have some leftover Cascade 220 (what else?!?) from yet another pillow in a nice rusty brown color...

Whilst running errands this afternoon, Jeff and I stopped by Starbucks to grab some joe and a treat. I saw these yarny decorations and I've been meaning to take a picture and post about them. What an interesting decorating idea -- wrapping Styrofoam balls with sparkly yarn and forming them into wreaths and such. They look kind of neat, and lord knows I'd never knit anything with yarn like that. Every Starbucks I've been in for the last few weeks has had these things -- even with the store closing they've been announcing, it must have taken tons of yarn to make these things for all the Starbucks in the country -- if not the world. Think of all the sparkly holiday sweaters that could have been made from this stuff!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Throw to Bestow

I finished my one and only knitted Christmas gift this year -- the Garter Stitch Throw. I think the in-laws will like it. I also hope they've forgotten the address to this blog and will be surprised. It's comfy. It didn't come out as large as I imagined it would, but it's nice enough to keep one person snuggly warm whilst lounging about. Thank goodness it finally cooled off around here while I worked on the edging. There was no away around having this draped across my lap while I worked.

The applied I-cord went faster than I imagined it would. I-cord always does. You realize that you have to crank out 20 feet of I-cord and you want to scream, because your brain things 20 feet of knitting. But when you're talking fabric that's only 3 stitches wide, it really does fly by. None of my pictures really show the contrast well, but the border really is a different color. And I have a TON of it left over --okay, I exaggerate -- 7.6 ozs -- but STILL! I'm thinking maybe a hat for me?

Still working on the socks and the sweater (note to Self -- need to order a zipper). I've also just finished a gift for a friend whose birthday we'll be celebrating at the end of the year. I may post about it in a day or two, as long as you promise not to tell. Until then, a hint -- it's something that I knit for myself back in the spring and something that a certain friend of mine was planning to knit a short while ago...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I-Cord, Applied

I finally got the Garter Stitch Throw seamed. Crocheters out there are NOT allowed to make fun of my puckered seams. Sorry -- it was the best this crappy crocheter could do. This didn't take long once I buckled down and and got to it. I've got to get better at crocheting. I know too many great crocheters (hi, Steph and John!) not to let some of their talent rub off on me. I don't know what my block is. John and I laugh over how he understand knitting and can do it, but just likes crocheting so much better. I'm exactly the opposite.

I'm doing an applied I-cord for the edging. Basically, you do an I-cord and incorporate a picked up stitch from the edge of your knitted fabric. Not too complicated, but it took me a while to get Meg Swanson's added instructions in her mother's book, The Opinionated Knitter. Here's a little video that I made to show how I'm doing it. As you can see, the I-cord has three stitches. I knit two stitches from the pick up needle onto a dpn, slip the third stitch, do a YO, knit the picked up stitch from the throw, and then pass the slipped and YO stitches back over the picked up stitch. Slide all the stitches back over to the pickup needle, and repeat a gazillion times.

I've been working a bit on the Blue Tiger Socks -- I've yet again changed my mind on them. I'm doing a Coriolis pattern on them. They feel a little looser than most socks I'm used to wearing, but I measured very carefully. The next time I might adjust down a little. I find the pattern a little hard to read with all the page-flipping that's required -- I'm afraid I might get lost.

And, I've gotten more work down on the Cobra Sweater. I've finished the part of the body that is knit in the round, and I'm almost to the neck shaping on the flat part of the knitting for the back. I'm a little worried that I might not have enough yarn. I was looking at the opposite side a few days back and saw some weird bumps. They were pretty far back toward the beginning -- only a few inches above the ribbing. They bugged me enough that I wanted to fix them. I was afraid to ladder down that far (seriously -- dozens and dozens of rows), but I thought if I was patient, I could do it. I did this in three or four different places and managed to fix them, without any visible ladders afterward.

The problem? At some point I'd used a crochet hook to fix a missed stitch or some split yarn, and I'd gotten the lines crossed. Not terribly visible from the front, but it really annoyed me. One of the things I like about knitting is the lessons it has to teach about patience. I had to dig deep for this, but I'm glad I did.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Yesterday was Black Friday. No, I didn't get up and go shopping 4:00am. That's crazy. I came up with my own variation: I spent a big chunk of the day (interrupted by a 3-mile walk) starting on my black Cobra Sweater.

The yarn wasn't the only thing that made it such a dark day. I actually started this sweater the day before, on Thanksgiving. I picked the large size figuring that's what would fit and got to knitting. Round and round and round and round. At the end of the first ball, I tried the thing on. Huge. Ginormous. Thinking back, when Staci was helping me pick out the yarn she seemed surprised that I was making the size I was. Should have listened. It's funny the things we think about our own bodies.

So, I undid the whole thing and started over a size down Friday morning. But wait - that's not all! I also managed to get the stitches twisted at the join and not catch it until I was 5 or 6 rounds into the ribbing. So I started over again.

But now things seem under control. I love knitting with this stuff -- and this heathered black color. Very soothing. And strangely familiar. Only this morning did I figure out that I'd used this exact color of Cascade 220 before.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crochets' Rebellion

It took a while, but it looks like I'm getting the hang of this. I knew I wanted to use a crochet seam to join the sections of the Garter Stitch Throw (formerly known as the Garter Stitch Blanket, but downgraded due to smallness), but I have little crochet experience. Despite my intense perusal of books and the YouTube, all my stitches were lying to one side rather than forming a neat row between the two pieces. Something was wrong.

I went to The Knitting Nest this afternoon to spend down a gift card and ran into Staci. Being the fiber arts goddess she is, she figured out my problem soon enough -- wrong size hooks. She gave me some pointers and let me borrow her Very Pink crochet hook. I don't know what I'd do without my knitting friends. As you can see, I'm back on track.

I spent my gift card (plus 1 ¢ !) on yarn for a sweater -- for me! I got Cascade 220 in Jet (mostly) and Fennel (a small part) to make the Cobra sweater from Debbie Stoller's Son of Stitch n Bitch. Ravelers can see examples here.

And, I've decided to take a new tack on what I've been calling the Blue Tiger Socks. I didn't like the way they were looking, so I ripped them once again -- I think I may be testing the structural limits of this yarn it's been knitted and frogged so many times. I'm starting again, this time using a Coriolis pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

I'm a little freaked -- there are TONS of stitches on the needle. And the book is written so that you have to flip all over the place to follow a pattern. It's a little unnerving. I've just wrapped the stitches for a short row heel and am getting ready to pick them up again. I'm wishing I'd read this book a little more closely before just jumping into a pattern.

Won't be working on the blanket much. I don't want to be knitting on the in-laws' Christmas gift when I see them at Thanksgiving, but I'm hoping I can get started on my sweater. Will I really have four projects on the needles at that point? Yikes!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It's been a while. What have I been doing? Knitting garter stitch.

Taking a lesson from our soon-to-be former president, I can't quite say "mission accomplished," but I suppose, since all the pieces have been knitted, I can say that, as of today, major combat operations have ended. Only now, as I look at the close-to-finished product, do I see a big swastika in the middle of the blanket. Yikes! Let's ignore that, shall we?

I still have to block the two larger pieces (that'll be fun), crochet up the seams and do an applied I-cord. I've done theoretical I-cord, but not applied. I'm going to knit up a swatch with leftover yarn to practice on while the pieces dry and while I wait for a darker color of Eco-wool to come in at my LYS. I'm looking at a chocolatey-brown color.

The weather has been lovely for knitting. We actually got close to freezing last night, although today is one of those perfect Texas autumn days. A bit warm if you stand in the sun, a bit chilly if you stay in the shade. Some of our flowers have gotten a second wind despite the draught. The fall asters were wonderful a few weeks ago and our lantana has filled a corner of our yard with renewed bright redness that had disappeared in August. These yellow bells were blooming a few weeks ago and were siphoning off some of the love that the lantana was getting from the monarch butterflies that were passing through. Couldn't get any to hold still for a picture, though.

Knitflix moment: Jeff and I were watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford last night when I saw this brief bit of yarnishness. That's Brad Pitt seen through the distorted glass. If this movie is to be believed, Zee James, Jesse's wife, liked to knit with dark colors. My kind of outlaw's wife. Zee was played by Mary-Louise Parker. She got awfully high billing in this movie for muttering a few times and then screaming when her husband was killed. Seriously, I think I heard her ask someone what she wanted for dinner, and that was it. I guess the rest of the time she was rolling joints or frying green tomatoes or something.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Knit While I'm Around

Last night, as a special Halloween season treat, Jeff and I went to see a touring production of Sweeney Todd: A Musical Thriller that came through Austin.

I'd been spending a lazy day working on the Garter Stitch Blanket and laughing at pictures of us at a Halloween party the night before. We went for a nice walk in the afternoon to clear our heads and stretch our legs, and after a delicious salmon-y dinner that Jeff made, we headed downtown for the show.

Imagine my delight at seeing the actress playing Mrs. Lovett actually knitting on the stage! Here's kind of what it looked like in a publicity photo I found from the recent Broadway revival upon which the touring production we saw was based. Of course, we didn't see Patti LuPone, but she illustrates the scene quite nicely.

Here she's knitting a bright red garter stitch muffler for Toby (with violin), who is slowly catching on that something is not quite right with the creepy Mr. Todd and his relationship to Mrs. Lovett's meat pie-filling supply chain. Did I mention the scarf was red?

I was sitting close enough to notice that much of the garter stitch was very neat and tidy, but the 5 or 6 inches nearest to the needle were much more uneven. I could tell that this was the section that had been knitted on stage during performances, while the actor was trying to act and sing at the same time. She was doing a decent job of throwing those stitches, but one could tell she was having to concentrate on all the knitting/acting/singing/tuba playing she had to do. I was so intrigued by watching her knitting that I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to "Not While I'm Around," perhaps the most famous song from the show.

Still, it was an excellent production -- very vertical. Everything was very towering and the cast, in addition to acting, singing and each playing (in some cases, multiple) instruments, had to balance on coffins and sawhorses and ladders and chairs on coffins. I don't think I would have gotten through it without snapping an ankle.

Back to my blanket. I'm going to block the smaller sections today. If it were red, I don't think I'd be able to continue. Did you catch that, Jene?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Garter Country

The Garter Stitch Blanket for the in-laws is coming right along. Now that I've got the right dimensions figured out, it's just knit, knit, knit, knit -- you get the idea. Looks like I'll have enough yarn to finish the project, which I wasn't sure about at first. You can see that the two center "L" sections are done, and I'm about halfway finished with one of the two larger outside sections.

I'm not quite halfway there, but it's moving along quickly. I even got to work on it some this weekend while in Houston for an early Halloween party. I had a good time, and was reminded by one salty party attendee that there a few non-knitters out there that read this blog. Don't worry -- we'll win her over yet. Fall weekends were meant to be spent this way, traveling and visiting with friends that we don't get to see enough of.

The party was a blast with some pretty awesome costumes. As for me? Let's just say that I would have made a pretty creepy goth kid. Pray that my fingernails return to a normal color before I have to head back to work tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Order of the Garter Stitch

Blogging from Big D (My, oh yes!), this year's location for the meeting I blogged from last year in Albuquerque -- using the same crappy cell phone for pictures. This is that blanket that I've been discussing forever, but never quite starting. The pattern is based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Garter Stitch Blanket from The Opinionated Knitter. It's a Christmas gift for the in-laws -- let's hope they've forgotten the address for the blog for the time being.

I was inspired by Jared Flood's example. I, too, am planning on doing the seams with crochet stitch (Help! Stephi!). Jared's garter stitch seems so much tidier than mine -- I'm hoping this is less a reflection of respective knitting skills and more a function of using two strands (him) as opposed to one (me). I can dream, can't I?

Having fun at my conference. Getting a little scared that we're going to be hosting this event in my town two years from now. Getting to talk yarn with other talented librarian knitters like Becky and Janna. Good times!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Chart Reading

Click the image below to enlarge and read. Like a lot of charts, the interesting stuff is at the end.

I think this is a very, very cool pattern.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Knitter, Heel Thyself


I took the Blue Tiger Socks to north Texas to work on while visiting the in-laws. I only got around to them for a little bit this morning, but boy did I do some damage.

First of all, I think the circumference is a bit tight. It looked fine until I started working the short-row heels. I think working these with a short row heel means I'm going to have to increase the number of stitches in the sock's circumference. Which means ripping all the way back to the toe. Might not even be a bad idea to start over.

But worst of all is the heel placement. I guess I got carried away wit the stockinette in the round and just took things a bit to far. Rather than a heel, it looks like I've inserted a pocket for some unnatural growth.

Had a good time in the Metroplex, though. Ate some delicious TexMex and went with the in-laws to the Kimbell Art Museum to see The Impressionists: Master Painting from the Art Institute of Chicago. Go see it if you have a chance.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Knitting Books

The librarian in me likes nothing better than exploring new books. And the knitter in me loves digging through information on the craft. Today I got knitting books in the mail. I feel tingly.

First of all, I got a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's The Opinionated Knitter: Newsletters 1958-1968. I've glanced through copies of this from time to time, but needed my own in order to make a version of the Garter-Stitch Blanket (p.52). I'm planning on making it as a gift for Christmas. If it turns out half as good Jared Flood's, I'll be happy. I won't be carrying a double strand of the Cascade Ecological Wool, since it will be used in Texas. I can't wait to explore this book thoroughly. I'm going to have to bone up on my negligible crochet skills to seam this thing together and make a border. I'm nervous, but motivated.

Secondly, I ordered a copy of Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Knitted Socks. Because if I'm going to be knitting more socks, they damned well better be sensational. I enjoyed this first book so much and have made so many socks using her patterns (see here, here, here, and here) that I wanted to get this one, too. I know it's not exactly the same as the earlier book, but I really like the way she writes her patterns.

One thing I see right off the bat (and which someone had mentioned to me) is that all the stitch patterns are stashed away in the back of the book, whereas in her earlier book they were right next to the main sock pattern. I don't know that this will bug me, but I'm thinking probably yeah.

And last, but not least, I treated myself to a copy of Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. My friend Janelle has been talking this book up for some time, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I got a copy. I'd seen Cat demonstrating knitting a sock using coriolis architecture on a television show (I think it was Knitty Gritty) and was intrigued. I really admire her ability to look at something that knitters have been doing for centuries and see it in an entirely different way. She has a crazy creative brain that I envy.

I can't wait to get reading...and knitting...and reading...and...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Must Stash

I had a busy weekend.

First, take a look at this humongous ball of yarn that recently found it's way into my stash. It has four siblings that haven't been wound yet. This is Cascade Ecological Wool, Color 8063. It's destined to be a blanket that I'm concocting as a Christmas present. I've already been ragged on multiple fronts for the color (or lack of it), so feel free to pile on. I'm immune. My winder is to small to hold this amount and thickness yarn. They have one at The Knitting Nest that could handle it. But no, I was in a rush and though I'd do it at home. Not wanting to make Jeff perform his husbandly duty of holding the hank, I just wound it myself, and, of course, got a huge snarl in it that I eventually had to cut out. When will I learn?

On Friday, I got an email from Staci saying that there was a new colorway of Lorna's Laces sock yarn at The Knitting Nest that I was going to flip over. She was right. I hadn't been there five minutes Saturday morning before I bought a couple of hanks. I really like this color. Lots of darkness and that startling ice blue. Very nice.

I took my Aunt June with me Saturday morning. I mentioned her before when she had gifted me a bunch of my great-grandmother's crochet and knitting tools. She was in town for the Austin Area Quilt Guild 2008 Quilt Show (which was awesome, by the way). It was great for her to meet my friends. We talked knitting and quilting and laughed a whole lot. Great fun. Aunt June totally gets the urge to create with fabric and fibers (she's no slouch herself) and is nothing but supportive of me and my attempts at knitting. Love you, Aunt June!

Saturday evening, I started a pair of socks with my new yarn -- I felt like I needed something on the needles besides the Piano Cushion. So I started these. Then I ripped them out and started again this morning. I'm using the same toe-up beginning that I used on the Back to Basics Socks that I just finished. Then I'm thinking of doing a standard short row heel and then the slipped stitch rib for the cuff from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. I did vary the increases on the toe by using Cat Bordhi's method of paired increases described in this video* -- thanks, Janelle, for the suggestion. I like the way it looks.

I completely thought through the plan on these socks, which will probably come back to bite me. But for now, I'm having fun.

I've got some goodies coming in the mail. Hopefully I'll be able to post about them soon.

*(Cat Bordhi doesn't say this on the video, but she clearly knits into the back of the stitch that she grabs for the left-leaning decrease. I think it looks better this way.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Holding Needles

Sometimes I record strange little films on Turner Classic Films to have on while knitting. A description calls to me and I give it a shot. Such was the case with "The Ghost Train," a British film from 1941.

Imagine my glee when I saw that one of the characters was knitting! She seemed to be working on an amorphous blob. She was knitting rather rapidly, I might add -- although something seemed strange. It was the way she held her right needle like a pen rather than like a knife. I knew people knitted this way, but I'd never seen it.

I dug through my copy of A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt and found this on page 17:
By the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign (and perhaps for a while before) English ladies, as distinct from working knitters, had abandoned the older way of holding knitting needles. Instead of holding the right-hand needle under the palm of the right hand they began to hold it like a pen, grasping the point between the thumb and index finger and allowing the shaft to lie over the thumb joint. Before long, working class knitters, especially in southern England, began to emulate the new fashion, which is inefficient and limits the speed of knitting, but is to this day the commonest way of knitting in England.
Do you or anyone you know knit this way? I thought it looked quite elegant, but on reflection realized I would be terrible at it. The character in the clip, Miss Bourne, was played by Kathleen Harrison. I don't know if there is any correlation between longevity and the way one holds knitting needles, but Kathleen Harrison lived to the ripe old age of 103.

On my own personal knitting front, I'm kind of in project limbo right now. I'm still plugging away on the piano bench. I recently purchased some books that should show up soon, and I've also got some yarn together for a blanket project for the in-laws. But nothing to show right now. Hence the detour into film and knitting history.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blue Wales

I finished the Back to Basics socks yesterday afternoon.

These were a delight to knit -- doing things differently, learning some new skills, getting good ideas from fellow knitters -- it's what it's all about, right? Definitely give this free pattern a shot if you're looking to shake up your sock knitting.

I'm still working on the Piano Cushion. An earlier post might have given the impression that I was fed up with and abandoning this project -- my apologies. I hauled it out to show to my sister. She oohed and awed appreciatively (sisters are awesome!), and help re-spark my interest in this She also hinted that she might be interested in learning a bit about the craft herself. I've never tried to teach anyone else about knitting. Little skills here and there, but nothing from the get-go. I knit strangely, so I'm a bit nervous about the whole idea. Still, I'm glad she's interested.

Other projects are in the works. I've got some Cascade Eco Wool on it's way to delivery at The Knitting Nest that I'll need to go snag soon (UPS scaled back it's delivery in our area late last week in anticipation of Ike) for Elizabeth Zimmerman's Garter Stitch Blanket, inspired by Jared's awesome example. I'm not double-stranding mine -- I don't want to cause anyone heat stroke.

And, I'm looking at making a Cobra sweater from Son of Stitch 'n Bitch. I'm reading on Ravelry that the pattern seriously underestimates the amount of yarn needed, so I'm going to continue to mull it over.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Strange Shape

I'd forgotten that I had already posted a picture of the Back to Basics Socks showing their unusual structure. But this morning I went to the trouble of hosing down the patio furniture so that I could take another picture without getting the sock and yarn all grubby, so you're just going to have to put up with it. Once I've got a plan, I've got to follow through.

This picture shows the sock right before the heel turn. The main tube of the sock is 60 stitches in circumferences. Through a series of increases (some on the sole, most across the instep), it is now at 96 stitches around, 40 across the sole and 56 across the instep. It's at this point that all the short-row magic takes place.

Just wanted to document this while it still looked like a knitted parfait glass.

Knit Nerd Note: Notice that in the v-shaped area at the top where the ribbing has started taking shape. See how there are little holes on the left and how it doesn't look like the right? If you're having trouble seeing this, try this enlarged version. The increases happen along those stitches, and they are done by executing a kfb in the first and last stitch of the "v" section. When you do kfb, the first stitch looks like a knit stitch and the second has a bit of a purl bump. So on the right, the knit stitch is up against other knit stitches on the edge, whereas on the left, the purl bump is up against knit stitches on the edge, creating more of a contrast. I wonder if there is some sort of increase that could have been done to minimize this difference?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back to Basics

On Labor Day, I realized I didn't really want to labor over the Piano Cushion any more, so I decided to start a pair of socks. Sometimes you just need a pair of socks going, you know?

So I plowed through books and the web, looking for something different. My dear friend and fellow librarian Janelle recently started a knitting blog, TT820. In an early post, she described knitting some socks from Cat Bordhi's new book. This entry talks about Sidestream Socks, which I'm thinking might be constructed similarly to the ones I'm tackling right now.

These are the Back to Basics socks from the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty. I've knitted my fair share of toe-up socks, and I enjoy them. I like that you don't really need much of a pattern to make them. But the part I always hated was the crochet cast-on. This pair starts with the Magic Cast-On. I love it. It's so easy, and so tidy. In the spirit of being aware of different learning styles, here's a video of Cat Bordhi demonstrating this method, complete with funny voices. Try it -- you'll like it.

The gussets go off in funny directions (in fact, I'm not entirely sure where they are. As you near the heel, suddenly there are way more stitches than you would think would be necessary, but then some short row action kicks in and the heel is turned (the ribbing extends down the heel, which is neat), and everything is drawn in with a slipped-stitch line running down the sides. It's weird and lovely.

I've tried them on and so far they fit perfectly -- I was afraid they'd be too small. If you're tired of standard sock construction, try this pattern to shake things up a bit. Note to self: get that Cat Bordhi book.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I finished the Swelligant Scarf this morning. Not bragging or anything -- okay, I'm bragging -- eight days from cast on to bindoff. I should have made this one of those knitting olympics challenges. Actually, I did a lot of the knitting for this while watching the Democratic convention on the tube during the evenings this week. Perhaps it was the excitement of the times we live in that gave me super knitting powers.

I can highly recommend this pattern (Ravelers can find out more here) for a quick knit that doesn't require a whole lot of attention. Once you get a few stitch and row markers in place, you just whiz along. I did make a mistake toward the end where I cabled on the first strip and not on the matching third. Pretty incredible that I only did this once, come to think of it. I just ripped back and all was good.

I used all but about 6 inches of the four balls of yarn I had. The pattern says to knit to a certain row, and then knit 12 more rows of a certain type and then bind off. It requires a fairly good eye for how much yarn you have left. I got lucky. After doing a sewn bind-off, I had about 8 inches of yarn left (see photo). Whew.

I haven't blocked this, and I think I'm not going to. The finished scarf is suppoosed to be 60 inches long. This one is closer to 54", but I tried it on and it seems fine to me. Blocking would allow me to put in that stretch, but I just don't think it's necessary. What do you think -- is it necessary to block this?

Now I have to read up on the process for sending this to the OFA Red Scarf Project folks so it can be forwarded to its recipient. I've never done any altruistic knitting like this before. It feels pretty good.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Red Scarf

Last night, I faced the prospect of going to hang out with knitting friends the next morning and not having a portable project to hand. I know, right?

I'd always meant to participate in the Red Scarf Project, but usually managed to clue into it right before the deadline. This year, inspired by friends such as Janna, I decided to make one myself. I work at a community college, an institution which serves many former foster kids, so as a knitter, this excellent cause is tailor-made for me.

I found a reversible cabled scarf pattern in Debbie Stoller's Son of Stitch 'n Bitch called the Swelligant Scarf, threw the book in my bag and headed off this morning. At The Knitting Nest, I picked up some lightly variegated (vaguely variegated?) red yarn and got crankin'.

It doesn't look quite like the picture in the book, the scarf in that example being made with a much more drapey silk/wool blend, but I'm liking what's going on. From a distance it looks plain, but up close, stuff is happening. Because the main panels are worked as a 1x1 pattern, cables incorporated into this pattern are pretty convincingly reversible. As you can see, the center strip is offset from the outside strips, creating a cool effect. Not only are the cables spiraling, but the spirals themselves spiral relative to their neighbors.

Now that I'm into the pattern, it's going quickly. I did all this in just a few hours. And it's the first project in forever that I've done with straight needles (ahem). They were a little hard to get used to.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to Work

The Mineshaft socks are complete! I only worked on these sporadically over the last month or so. I took them on trips and barely worked on them. Then I'd have bursts of activity. It's hard to knit anything in wool when it's 100+ outside. Even socks. There -- I said it.

I'm happy with them. I just love knitting with Lorna's Laces, no matter what the colorway. The yarn just flies through my fingers and the stitches end up so pretty. The yarn makes it so easy. The pattern I used called for 78 stitches circumference -- a few wider than I normally do, so they are a little looser than some socks I've made. But the pattern in the yarn spiraled nicely and there was no pooling.

Once again I chose too fancy a pattern with too fancy a yarn. In an ideal world, fancy yarn = simple pattern and simple yarn = fancy pattern. I can't seem to get this through my head. Maybe if I write it down here, I'll remember.

Tomorrow, I head back to work to start the new academic year. I'm ready. I like having my time off in the summer, but I'm usually ready to go back. I can use the structure. As usual, I've started staying up too late and sleeping in too long. I CAN adjust to being a morning person, but it's sure not my natural state.

I've added a few rows on the Piano Cushion since my last post, but not much. I found it disconcerting to switch between the lovely wool of the Lorna's Laces and the unforgiving twine-ness of the Euroflax linen. So I decided to concentrate on one at a time.

So, back to work.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

High Points

Jeff and I have been out on the road for the past week, enjoying the cooler, drier climes of New Mexico. A goal of ours, at which we were successful, was climbing the highest mountain in that state, Wheeler Peak (elev. 13,161 ft.). Jeff and I have been visiting the highest points of states for years. It's a great way to see the U.S. -- you wind up in the strangest places. This was my 33rd high point! And before you start asking -- yes, most of the ones I have left to visit are difficult. (I say most -- I haven't gotten to Iowa, Janna!)

While on the road, I visited (or attempted to visit) a few yarn shops -- high points in their own right! I only got to one. One was closed -- a few I couldn't find. I haven't been in much of a knitting mood over the past month -- blame it on the heat -- so no huge loss. I did manage to get these hanks of sock yarn at The Yarn Shop in Taos. The ball bands have SECONDS stamped on them. I've never seen that before. Does it mean it's full of knots? The price was right, so I grabbed them. And get this -- like the current pair of socks I'm working on, this yarn, too, has a distinct pinkness to it. What's happening to me?

Some progress has been made with the Piano Cushion. I had about 10 responses to my question of which color to use to link all the colors together. Only one person voted for the sandalwood (brown) color. So cream it is. As you may be able to see, I've done nine 8-row sections, which means I've repeated each color 3 times. I think it's looking pretty good, although slipping the stitches across 6 rows does stretch things a bit. I guess that's why linen yarn was called for -- it can probably take it. I'm not finding the linen too harsh to work with. But I'm noticing that the lighter green color seems to be spun thinner than the the darker green and the brown. You can clearly see through it in several places. I'm hoping that washing the fabric after knitting it will cause it to fill out and bloom a little.

In the meantime, we're sweltering here. How is it that I can live 200 miles from where a tropical storm hit the coast, directly in its path, and get only five minutes of rain out of it? It's a good thing I live in an area of only extreme drought. According to this map, the exceptional drought is still 15 miles away!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Which Swatch?

I'm back from Miami. Our chorus brought down the house on Tuesday night and seemed to be popular. We managed to get off stage mere seconds before the lights went off -- they were pretty strict about the 30-minute time limits for performances. I was glad to get it over with and we had quite a bit of fun for the rest of the week. We also heard some amazing music and ate some darn yummy food.

I didn't knit as much as I thought I would. I got to work on my Mineshaft Socks a little on the plane, but except for a few stolen moments shown in the picture here, I didn't have much time for the fiber arts. I managed to finish the first sock in the airport at 7:00am (they have one of those now?!) while waiting to fly home. I'm happy with it. More pictures when I've finished the pair, which may be a while because I've got a new big project in the works...

I finally gathered all the linen yarn I needed to start the Piano Cushion I want to make. I've got the colors I like, but while making swatches (no really, I did!), I decided to monkey with the colors. I'm trying to decide whether to use the brown (sandalwood) as the border color in the pattern or whether to go with the cream color. I like the sandalwood as a border since it's different from the green-scale of the others in the picture on the left, but I also like the idea of using the lightest color to tie together the darker ones as shown in the picture on the right. Which do you prefer? Comments and opinions welcome!

(As an aside, the picture on the left was knit on size 2 needles. I'm definitely going to be using the size 3 as shown in the photo at right. They're what the pattern called for.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Whew! About to slip down!

Yesterday I got assertive and contacted the company with which I had back-ordered the linen yarn I've been waiting on. I told them not to bother sending it and please credit my account. We'll see how that goes. For some reason, I expect it to be a big headache.

To have something on th needles I started -- what else -- a pair of socks. I had this Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the colorway Mineshaft that I'd bought at The Knitting Nest several weeks ago. When I bought it, all I saw were the dark colors. Now that I'm knitting with it, all I can see is a rosy-greyish color that is dangerously close to (gasp!) pink! Sorry, Janna and Staci, but I'm scared! Tell me it's not too pink.

I'm using a pattern from the six-stitch pattern section in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks called Chain Rib. I thought that an industrial-sounding yarn color should probably go with this industrial-sounding ribbing. It's kind of hard to see the chain shape to me -- mostly because the "links" seem to be lining up with the color striping for the time being. So far, no problem with pooling. I'll keep my fingers crossed. I love working with this yarn.

Jeff and I are headed for Miami on Saturday for a week of music and singing at the 2008 Gala Festival of Choruses. I'm going to take this sock to work on, but somehow I don't think I'll feel like doing much knitting in the semi-tropics. I will have plenty of free time, though. Maybe I could scope out a local yarn shop? Do people even knit in Miami?