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.