Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pardon Me, Your Slip Isn't Showing (Or Is It?....)

I promise this isn't going to turn into a daily confessional column about how I screwed up my knitting on the Samantha Dress. But I have this vague idea that if I share these tragedies with the outside world, they will never happen again. I'll get back to you later about how that works out.

During a shift in pattern at the top of the smocking (a new word for me) on one of the front halves of the dress, I switched from carrying the yarn in front during the stitch-slipping process to carrying the yarn in back. All of a sudden my neat little hyphens of cotton disappeared. And I didn't figure it out until many rows later. This is what I get for watching TV while knitting. Try as I might, I'm not very good at multitasking.

This picture shows where the dashes should have been. Though I've been whining on these pages about knitting in cotton, one thing it has going for it is that it's not difficult to pick up stitches in it if you have to frog back. I had this ripped back and was back on track in no time.

The first half of the front is done, and I've cast on the for the second. Should be a bit easier since I don't have to worry about button holes. I am getting a bit nervous as to whether I bought enough yarn or not...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Watch Your Asterisk

I only recently realized that there should not be an extra stitch between the eyelets along the bottom edge of the Samantha Dress. I don't think it's violating much in the way of copyright to say that this eyelet row, as knitted, is *k1, yo, k2t*. However, the instructions are written as k1 *yo kt2*. Which is totally different.

I only noticed when I started working on one of the front halves of the dress. I couldn't figure out why the eyelets were so much closer together. I stared and stared and stared at the directions. They were identical for front and back. It was my brain that moved the asterisk.

I am not going to be re-knitting the back. So I'm going to continue my mistake throughout the rest of the garment. It won't look all that different, and luckily, this mistake didn't affect the stitch count. Which makes sense. Otherwise I would have caught this earlier.

Today's moral: Watch your asterisk.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pink & Wink

It seems that if I'm not going to be knitting in one of my dark, drab colors (or non-colors as some of my fellow knitters have dubbed them), it's got to be pink. Hot pink. Must be going around.

Things are going much better with the Samantha dress now that I'm not periodically and randomly kitting into the row below. It's just a question of paying a bit more attention. Still not loving working with the cotton, but more pleased at how it's turning out. Weaving in ends with cotton always makes me nervous -- there's nothing to stop those little strings from working their way out. So I made a knot. I've read several times that knitting should always involve loops, never knots. But I'm doing it anyway for the peace of mind and I can now say that I've never not knotted my knitting. I'll do my best to hide them in the seams.

Although the patterned stitch band across the bodice looks quite different knit in cotton rather than wool, I kind of like the effect. It's a bit see-through, as you might be able to see in the photo, but luckily, 6-month-olds aren't known for their prudishness and modesty. It's going to look so cute on her!

A short while ago, I ran into Amy Wink, a college friend who teaches on my campus some semesters. We managed to get together for lunch Monday and it was wonderful. Amy is an English professor, and thus much better at writing about our catching up. If you'd like to eavesdrop, check out this post at her blog. It was great seeing her again and getting to spend some time together. Pie was eaten.

Amy has a horse with whom (which? -- "which" is probably more correct, but "whom" feels more appropriate...Amy would know!) she practices the art of carriage driving. I loved hearing her talk about it, and I'm looking forward to going for a drive with her and Will. So I've learned a bit about driving, Amy has learned a bit about the needle arts, and in that weird synchronistic way that new knowledge has a way of working into our lives, Amy ran across something on the interwebs about crocheted horse ear bonnets.

I wonder what Will would look like in hot pink...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Next Generation

Last weekend, my Aunt June called to let me know that she had become a great-grandmother this summer. My oldest cousin's oldest daughter had a baby daughter at the end of June, Whitney Lynne. For those of you keeping score at home, she's my first cousin, twice removed. It struck me that she would have been my grandfather' first geat-great grandchild, born in what would have been his 100th year.

So, inspired by Julia's lovely example, I decided to knit Whitney a little something to welcome her into the world. I'm making Samantha in the 6 month size -- hopefully useful for the winter. But after consultation with some fellow knitters and in consideration of our mild winters down this way, I decided to knit this out of cotton -- Dale Stork, to be precise.

I'm having issues. First of all, it's been a long time since I've knit with cotton. Unlike warm, comforting and forgiving wool, it's cool, robotic and isn't interesting in protecting your feelings. But, I'm committed to making this washable and wearable as long as possible, so cotton it is.

As I was working, I noticed something that I first noticed last fall while working on the Cobra Sweater. Every once in a while, I do something weird while knitting stockinette. I think it happens on the wrong side as I'm purling across, and I think I'm purling into the stitch below. Perhaps one of my experienced readers can let me know? It's not as noticeable in wool -- in wool, you can feel it more than you can see it. But in cotton, boy can you see it! A weird little bump. Here's an example to the left. As I got back to knitting this morning, I saw many of these. I'm talking dozens. How did I miss this yesterday? I laddered down and fixed a few, but then I started inspecting more closely, and decided to just frog it back to the bottom.

What you see in the first picture is my progress after hours and hours of work. Sigh. I'm going to be more mindful of my purling on this from now on to try and avoid this in the future.

Postscript (8:37pm): It appears I was knitting, not purling, into the row below. To keep gauge, I've been knitting very tightly. So tightly, in fact, that I can't see the bar across the bottom of the stitch -- it's hiding behind the needle, making it quite easy to knit into the stitch below. Now that I know what to look for, things are going much better.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Finally. A wet, rainy weekend in Austin. I know, right? It was starting to feel like it would never rain again, as if we should all just give in and resign ourselves to the fact that we had just been annexed into the newest development in the northeastern suburbs of the Chihuahuan desert. But did it ever rain yesterday! I took advantage of the sogginess and a break in the rain to get some weeds pulled in the yard this morning. Two days ago they would have resisted with death grips, their roots entwined around the earth's core, but today they just slipped out with nary a protest. If we're supposed to make hay while the sun shines, we should also pull weeds while the ground is wet.

While the ground was getting saturated, I used the rainy days to catch up on knitting, too.

This is my progress so far on the Whitfield Jacket. I've finished the back and both sides of the front. I had to rip back a bit on the left side yesterday, when I came across those dreaded words that should never come as a surprise when reading a pattern -- "At the same time...." I always seem to read these after having plowed ahead. Everytime I read these words in a pattern, I'm reminded of Randall Thompson's "Testament of Freedom," the words of which are based on the writings of Thomas Jefferson: "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them." Here's a clip of a chorus singing this. Maybe it will remind you to look for the words, "At the same time, at the same time" in your patterns!

So now all that's left is the sleeves (and the sewing and the weaving in of ends and the blocking and the buttons). I got started on the sleeves at a meet and greet for Amy Singer at The Knitting Nest this afternoon. It was a nice, low-key affair with lots of good conversation and yummy grub. Stacy is the perfect hostess for this sort of thing. Several knitting friends were in attendance. I also got to meet Wendy and Jim (I hope I got that right) from San Antonio, friends of Janna's.

All in all, a great knitting-filled weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Bette Davis could knit. Who knew? And she actually knew what she was doing. This scene of Bette Davis knitting on the deck of a cruise ship is from Now, Voyager (1942).

Granted, she's knitting what appears to be a garter-stitch swatch for what I can only hope is a much more fabulous garment, but I suppose that's doing pretty well when one has taken to the high seas to get away from an overbearing Boston Brahmin mother and is putting the finishing post-breakdown touches on what we refer to today as doing one's "work." Here she learns about a rather dashing man she's been cavorting with from one of his friends, played by Lee Patrick. Love Bette's glasses. And it looks like Lee loves her glass. That's one tall drink!

Give this movie a chance. Not much action, but plenty of drama. And some excellent acting by Davis. Her creepy Baby Jane voice is just starting to develop. It also stars the always awesome Claude Rains, my favorite character actress of all time, Mary Wickes, and Gladys Cooper as the too-controlling mother. Apparently, she was good at this sort of thing. A few decades later she showed her domineering chops as Henry Higgins' mother in My Fair Lady.

I love finding knitting in movies.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Desperate Times... for desperate measures. Like buying a 14" pair of size 7 straight needles at, well, let's just say the name of this big box store is somewhat reminiscent of, but is definitely not, Wool-Mart. This is the one option in my in-laws' little town because I left my size 7 Addi Click tips at home.

There used to be the coolest little knitting shop here in Granbury, Texas called Dot's that had the best yarn and knitting accoutrement. I called it my far-away local yarn shop, and my in-law's got me gift certificates to this shop so that I could go on shopping sprees when I was up for visits. Good times! The staff was so helpful and not at all weirded out by a guy coming into to buy yarn. Alas, Dot's is no more.

But I'm now back on track, plugging away at the Whitfield Jacket on a sleepy holiday weekend Sunday afternoon. What could be better -- besides having remembered to bring those darned size 7 needle tips? (Actually, I kind of like this snazzy anodized aluminum purple they came in.) Hope your Labor Day weekend is full of lots of relaxing knitting.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Word Cloud

I'm totally copying Janelle here, but I thought this was cool. We've actually been using Wordle at work for a few things. Never though to apply it to my blog.

Without further ado, a Wordle image of my blog. Note that Janelle gets a shout-out on the far right! How did the word therapist get in there?...