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!