Thursday, December 30, 2010


A world about to dawn!

I put away the Oliver socks. They’ll just have to wait for some other day. Instead, I started on another pair of socks using a pattern I bought at the Sock Summit last year and yarn I purchased a little over a year ago in Tulsa.

First the yarn. It’s Cascade Heritage, which I’ve used before and has some of the best stitch definition of any sock yarn I’ve ever knit with – right up there with Malabrigo sock yarn. The colorway -- near as I can tell, since I’ve misplaced the ball band sometime between this morning and now – is the very utilitarian and easily recognizable “red.” Not crimson, scarlet, candy apple, fire engine, chianti, vermillion, nor even a color of nail polish my mother used to use, I’m Not Really a Waitress. Nope, just red.

It’s well on its way to becoming a pair of socks using an Anne Hanson pattern, Bricker. As I mentioned, I purchased this at the Sock Summit from a booth (can’t remember which one, although I’m leaning toward the Briar Rose booth – can you remember Janelle?). I’d been waiting for the right yarn to make this with, trying to keep to my mantra of busy pattern / plain yarn. I’d forgotten I’d picked this yarn up in Tulsa. I stumbled across it when I started a rather faint-hearted attempt at getting some of the yarn stacked up next to my chair tidied up and out of basenji reach. As soon as I found the yarn, I abandoned the tidying project, wound this ball up, and got knitting.

I'm having fun with this, using DPNs, which I haven’t done for a while with socks (I’m a big fan of magic loop), and just enjoying following the pattern. It reminds me a lot of the Moya Cowl I made for my sister, which in turn is based on a scarf. The pattern looks different and more brick-like when stretched out. Hopefully, you’ll get to see them soon. I’m itching to get back to them right now.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2010 to be over and looking forward to 2011. If I don’t post again in the next few days, here’s hoping that all of us have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Decorum Restore, I Implore

Repeat after me: I love my dogs, I love my dogs, I love my dogs…

We got back from our trip yesterday, and the dogs’ sitter informed us that Pona had gotten a bit “chewsy” about some of my knitting. Seems he got a hold of the first of the the pair of Oliver socks that I’d started some time back. It’s what I was working on in locations and situations where working on The Blanket was impractical.

You may recall that I attempted this pattern once before, only to find that I’d gotten shortchanged on the amount of yarn in a hank that I’d purchased for this project. Now, it seems that this pair with this yarn is doomed, too. I might be able to pick up and finish the end with the yarn I have remaining, but I’ll have to think about it. I would spend much of the second sock worrying whether I had enough yarn left. I may just start a different pair and put this pattern to sleep for now.

The crime fits the personalities, though. Kate is usually only interested in balls and skeins of yarn – they look like dog toys. Pona has a darker bent and seems to only be interested in mauling FOs. My fault entirely for not properly putting this away before I left, but still….Grrrrrr!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

We’re halfway home. We left Steamboat Springs early this morning (-3 degrees Fahrenheit!) and drove to Amarillo today. I’m really going to miss being in the mountains. The views were so stunning. Well bundled in handknit goodness that I so rarely get to enjoy in Texas, I wasn’t ever truly cold. It was so nice to wear handmade socks, sweaters, hats and gloves every single day for a week. And, I found that 10 degrees in the still mountain air is way more comfortable than 45 degrees in a Panhandle gas station parking lot with a 25mph wind! Should be home late tomorrow afternoon.

Here’s a picture of both socks finally on Gracie’s feet. I spent a good chunk of Christmas Eve making the second one. She decided she’s going to wear them on her first day back to school next week. I gave them to her on Christmas Eve, and I don’t know if it was a newfound appreciation of handknits or just the idea of someone getting something someone they didn’t, but my nephew Michael asked for a pair of “green socks with white stripes.” The color he pointed to when I tried to narrow things down was a Kelly green. Yikes. And my niece Kathleen asked for a long scarf, like they wear in the Harry Potter movies. She also wanted green. When I asked her if there was any significance to that color, she just got a mischievous glimmer in her eye. Watch out for that one. So I have a few orders that I’ll have to fill.

Everyone liked their cowls and gaiters and modeled them proudly. I’ve only now realized that due to the scattered nature of our locations on Christmas day (some of us skied, some of us didn’t), I never got a picture of everyone wearing them. But all seemed pleased. Speaking of pleased, I heard from Jeff’s mom that his cousin was very happy with baby blanket they got in the mail last week.

I’ll call 2010 a good year, well knit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gracie’s Blues

Just a quick post to show progress on a pair of blue socks that I’m making for our niece Gracie. I’d made one for her at Thanksgiving, but it was too small. This one is fitting her much better.

When I tried this on her last night, I asked her if it was long enough. I, of course, was just thinking of the length of the cuff. She very politely agreed that it was long enough, but then added that “it would be nice if it went all the way down to my toes.”

The cuteness!

Skiing had been fun. I decided to hold off on the gifts until Christmas day – the gaiters and cowls I made for them really wouldn’t be doing much good at cutting the wind like the store-bought ones they’ve been using. Gracie has been very curious about all the colors in my hat – I think she’ll be surprised.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I’m very happy to be spending time with and being surrounded by the people I love. It’s the best any of us can hope for.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Look, I Made a Hat

Where there never was a hat!

Jeff and I watched an old PBS version of Sunday in the Park with George as I was, well, finishing the hat. Watch it if the first few words of this post don’t make any sense.

I made a chunkier version of Jared Flood’s Turn A Square Hat for myself out of the leftover bits of Berroco Vintage Chunky that was used for all the cowls, gaiters and neck warmers that I’ve been knitting over the past few weeks. A little something for me to enjoy. I’ve only taken it off to sleep and get a haircut since it came off the needles. I’m going to get a kick out of seeing whether anyone catches on that all of the colors in their various garments are in this hat. It just worked out that there was room for 7 two-round stripes on the basic background color.

I modified the pattern to a chunky yarn. I figured out the gauge and then came up with a number, divisible by four, that would get about the same circumference – 64 in this case, as opposed to the 96 in the original pattern. I also didn’t mess with changing needle sizes between the ribbing and the main body, nor did I do any increasing. I wanted this to be snug. Other hats I’ve made for myself have been to big – I think I overcompensated for what I perceive to be a larger-than-average melon – so I wanted to keep things on the small side. At the point where there were to be 26 stitches between the four decrease points, I had 16. Everything else pretty much followed the pattern.

I love it. Some commenters over at Flickr asked if I was going to knit something for Jeff from some of this yarn, but he took a pass. He generally thinks that handknit things are too scratchy for wearing next to the skin – and believe me, hats are touching a lot more skin than they used to for both of us. So this one is mine, all mine. I’ve started calling it The Precious.

Think about it. It has all the colors of the cowls and gaiters I’ve knit over the past few weeks, so it must have some sort of power over them, like Tolkien’s The One Ring:

Two cowls for the in-laws through sis and bro
Two for the siblings, younger of three
Four for niece/nephews on slopes of snow
A hat for the knitter – that would be me
In the land of mountains, where the skiers go
One hat to rule them all, one hat to bind them
One hat made from them all -- for him who entwined them

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Closing Act

With the casting of and sewing up of this last piece, Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest 2010 officially comes to a close.

The final garment is for my sister-in-law, Suzanne. It’s very different from the others, in that the stitches run horizontally rather than vertically. In essence, it is a short scarf with the ends sewn together. The unevenly spaced cables combine with this ocean-y color to create a nice wave effect, I think. The part near the seam is a little wider than the other part, but I don’t think it will be noticeable when worn. This garment is more loosely structured than the others – it was made on 10.75 (7mm) needles, and being sideways, gravity has more of an effect.

Because of the slow start, I was worried that I might not get all these done, but I finished last night with a few days before we head up to Colorado. I still haven’t decided whether to give these to everyone when we arrive, or wait for Christmas. They might be nice for the cold weather, but truth but told, they’re not very wind resistant and not exactly practical for keeping necks warm while swooshing down slopes. I’ll keep thinking about it.

Now I need to get cracking on those blue socks that I promised Gracie at Thanksgiving, and I have an idea of what to do with the leftover yarn from all these projects…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Koolhaas Kowl

Again, I’d queued up a pattern in Ravelry that just didn’t float my boat, so I improvised a little.

Even though I didn’t do I good job with the fit, I’ve enjoyed the Koolhaas Hat designed by Jared Flood that I made for myself a few years ago. I’d worn it the other day, and it got me to thinking that I could use that same stitch pattern for a cowl for our youngest niece. I dragged out the 2007 Holiday issue of Interweave Knits and got going.

I like the results. It pulls in quite a bit, but then our niece is 6 years old, so she doesn’t have much neckage. I made a mistake at one point that required slipping all the stitches off the needles and unraveling back a few rows – I just couldn’t figure it out otherwise. This really is a fun pattern to knit, and if you can manage the two-stitch cable twists without using a cable needle, which isn’t all that difficult, it goes that much faster.

My major modifications from the hat pattern:

  • I only cast on 64 stitches
  • I only did four rounds of 2x2 ribbing before beginning the pattern since I’m using a chunky yarn
  • I didn’t do any of the decreasing

One more to go! This next one promises to be quite different…

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Honeycomb Cable Cowl

Come to the Honeycomb Hideout! Cowl number 6 is off the needles.

This one involved improvisation on a couple of levels. I’d originally queued up a much simpler cabled cowl in Ravelry, but right after casting on I realized it was going to be boring to knit and look at. So, I grabbed a stitch dictionary I have. It ain’t no Barbara Walker treasury, but it does have some interesting things in it. I’d always admired honeycomb cables, so I thought I’d give them a try.

The book’s pattern has  the honeycomb cable in a motif covering 22 stitches – the cables themselves are over 16 stitches, and the rest cover the field of purls from which the pattern pops, plus a little staggered garter line that runs up the middle. I cast on 66 stitches to make three repeats.

Originally, I’d planned this for my sister-in-law Suzanne, but it ended up being a bit small, forgetting that cables tend to draw fabric inward, so this one is going to my niece Kathleen. I think it will look quite sharp on her. A pessimist would say that the holes created behind the honeycomb pattern will let in the chilly mountain air. An optimist would say that these will allow one’s neck to breath.

Two more to go. Here’s to optimism!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moya Cowl

I keep getting faster and faster with this cowl and gaiter knitting project. I’m worried that I’ll start feeling the effects of time dilation and look up to find that everyone around me is 90 years old.

This pattern is Agness Kaku’s Moya Cowl. It starts with a picot edging made with yarn-overs. I ended up knitting or purling (more purling!) the cast on edge folded behind the work together with the stitches in the fourth round of the pattern. It was kind of fiddly. I couldn’t manage getting the yarn back through the cast-on stitches with my needles. I had to resort to using a crochet hook which really slowed things down. And I always manage to twist the stitches when doing this sort of thing. Still, I’m glad I did it. I remembered how much I disliked sewing to get the same effect around the hem of the Samantha Dress I made last year [Flickr] [Ravelry].

The pattern is basically Kristen Kapur’s Puzzle Scarf knit in the round.   It looks like there is shaping at the top, but that’s just the pull and drag of the different knit and purl bands. It makes four evenly spaced crenellations around the edge in which to place one’s chin, ears and pony tail (should one possess such an appendage). I think Susan will like it.

Now that I think of it, I will probably be aging at the same rate as everyone else today. Lots of errands to run – including finally getting that baby blanket in the mail! But I imagine I’ll get some knitting done, too. Five days until we leave and only three projects left. This really is do-able!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day Gaiter

The boys’ gaiters are finished with this fourth one, a Snow Day Gaiter for our nephew Michael. A simple yet elegant design: six rows of garter stitch on either end, filled with rows of garter stitch ribbing – alternating knit rows with rows of K2P2.

The original pattern called for casting on 72 stitches, but since I’m making this for an 8-year-old neck, I thought I’d reduce it a bit to 52. The last gaiter I made was on 58 stitches, which, with the yarn I’m using, was stretching the limits of what could be knit comfortably in the round on my shortest cable from my Addi Clicks set. So I switched to the largest cable and did this using a magic loop.

For getting such a slow start, things are really moving along! And now, to tackle the cowls for the women and girls. It might seem odd that I did all the gaiters for my male relatives first. It’s just that I’m going through the order in which I queued these up in Ravelry. I looked for the men’s pattern first, thinking they might be a bit harder to find.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


WonkyGaiter/Cowl #3 was on and off the needles in about 19 hours. I cast on yesterday evening after work and started the bind-off at the morning’s knitting get-together, finishing at home. This one is for our eldest nephew, Christopher.

The pattern is Wonky from the Summer 2009 Knitty. I modified it a little bit. The pattern calls for three 8-round repeats plus 7 rounds. I did five repeats instead, to make this one similar in length to the gaiters I knit for my brother and brother-in-law. I did reduce the circumference a bit by reducing the number of stitches in the stockinette section (i.e., the wonky part) from 12 to 8, for a total of 58 stitches cast on. And rather than doing a regular bind off, I did Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off after consulting with some fellow knitters.

I think Christopher will like it.

Buster         Buster & Staci

While enjoying coffee outdoors today, we knitters were visited by an 11-week-old English Bulldog named Buster. The cuteness was off the charts. He had a little bell around his neck that was perfect for the season. Such huge paws. Such sharp puppy teeth. No problems socializing him with people, that’s for sure. His owners were very kind to let us ooh and ahh over him so much.

And now it’s on to Gaiter/Cowl #4 for our nephew, Michael James.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fisherman's Rib Gaiter

Attendance at the Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest is light so far. This week has been filled with events every single evening running until 10:00pm. I've had time to run home for a quick bite after work before having to head back out for chorus rehearsals and our nephew's winter concert. It's been hectic, and I've only been able to grab a little time here and there to do a few rounds.

Not a good pace, I admit, but today is the last day of classes and the needles of progress will click on. I was able to bind off this gaiter after breakfast and before work. It's a simple 1x1 fisherman's rib over 64 stitches. I had seen a pattern for something similar in Ravelry, but it involved a totally reversible Fisherman's rib -- meaning that one alternated rows of knitting into the stitch below with rows of purling into the stitch below. A little fiddly, yet doable -- however, it seemed to be eating up too much yarn so I ripped back and did a one-sided version. It's not quite as long as the first one, but it looks kind of cool. Sort of a turtleneck without the rest of the sweater.

Six more to go!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest 2010

Over Thanksgiving, Jeff and I were invited to go skiing in Colorado with my brother’s family. My sister and her family will be there too. And, while I generally try to avoid the hassle and bustle of that phenomenon known as Christmas knitting, I decided that I needed to come up with something warm and cozy for all of the family to wear. So I needed to come up with a plan for handy garments that I could knit fast.

My first instinct was scarves – great for stash-busting and quick to knit. I even got started on one. But since I need 8 garments, I slowly realized that I may not be able to get everything done before we head up. After talking with some of my fellow knitters yesterday, I settled on making cowls and neck gaiters. They knit up quick, there are tons of free patterns available, and you can make them from one skein on large needles. Thanks, Snowden, for suggesting this!

So I headed over the Hill Country Weavers where I had a credit from a return I’d made a few weeks ago. I dithered around for an hour or so, grabbing skeins here and there, before I was pointed toward a pile of Berroco Vintage Chunky. Great for size ten needles with good yardage, nice heathered jewel tones, and totally washable.

The next step was figuring out what to knit. There are TONS of free patterns in Ravelry. I just grabbed some that looked like they would fit the eight people I’m knitting for – two adult women, two adult men, two boys and two girls. I’m going to have to do some adjusting for the some of the kids’ cowls to make them fit, but because most of the patterns are fairly simple, it shouldn’t be too hard to adjust them.

First up, is the Cowl’d and Frosty Morning, which I’m knitting for my brother-in-law. The pattern is basically four rounds of seed stitch, followed by 11 rounds of stockinette. Repeat that two more times, and then add four final rounds of seed stitch. I used Jenny’s Surprising Stretchy Bind Off from the Fall 2009 issue of Knitty, and all was done. I cast on last night and finished this morning. I think my plan is going to work.

One down, seven to go. Admittedly I started with the most simple one. My knitting time is going to be limited next week as I have something going almost every evening, most of them associated with the chorus’ winter concert. But I think this is do-able.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tamarix Terminatio

It’s done! It only took me a little over three months, but I’ve put the finishing touches on the Tamarix Quilt. There was nothing so satisfying as going over to Ravelry and putting this project to rest status-wise.

We got a call from Jeff’s dad earlier in the week. His little first cousin once removed did indeed arrive on Monday. So she’s four days old today. I haven’t seen any pictures yet, nor, sadly, do I know the little one’s name! However, I have it on good authority that she’s gorgeous – as I knew she would be.

I was able to get the applied I-cord edging done during the evenings this week. I tweaked the pattern a little bit with this feature. The pattern called for a five-stitch I-cord, but after reading someone else’s comment in Ravelry, I decided to scale this back to a 3-stitch I-cord. I didn’t want the blue-ness to be too overwhelming and wanted a trimmer, less floppy edge. Also, rather than using the method suggested in the pattern, I used the method outlined by Elizabeth Zimmerman in The Opinionated Knitter and which I used when making the garter stitch throw for my in-law’s last year. Here’s the video if you want to refresh your memory. The main difference is that EZ calls for a yarnover which seems to do a good job of hiding the underlying color (green in the photo above) from peeking through.

I’m so happy to have this finished. And although it was frustrating at times, and I lost my mojo halfway through, I’m pleased with the results. I have enough yarn to crank out something else – while I’m on a garter stitch kick, I should try a Baby Surprise Jacket…

But alas, I have other knitting to do. It turns out I’m going to be spending my Christmas holiday somewhere much colder than here with Jeff and eight other relatives. Relatives who will need to keep themselves warm in the cold and snow. More on that next time.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delivery Imminent

deliveryI got some news recently that reminded me of the episode of Keeping Up Appearances in which Hyacinth is expecting the arrival of her new three-piece suite which is an exact replica of one at Sandringham House and is to be delivered by a van displaying the royal warrant. In order to make sure that her neighbors (especially that nosy pseudo-hyphenated Mrs. Barker-Finch at number 23) know all about it, she directs poor Richard to set up traffic cones in front of their house, along with a sign reading, NO PARKING. DELIVERY IMMINENT.

No parking, indeed. Because it turns out the baby for whom I’m knitting this blanket, originally thought to be arriving sometime in mid-December, will now make her appearance on Monday, November 29. Two days from now. As in day after tomorrow. Imminently.

Well, the blanket will be getting there some time after that – a not-quite- so-imminent delivery on my part. I finished square number 100 just a few minutes ago, but I still have to re-weave a few of the early ends I wove in before I tried a new method that I’m happier with, and I still have to attached the applied I-cord edging. But the end is very much near.

IMG_3043And, I got a rare request for a handknit item this holiday weekend. My youngest niece requested a pair of blue socks – so that her feet wouldn’t be cold. Gracie hates being cold. I’m happy to oblige! One evening while she was here, I whipped up a prototype. All I had was a dirty machine-knit sock snatched from her dirty clothes pile to work from for a size reference, and I’m afraid it turned out a bit small. But the cool thing was, I totally knit it while watching TV for a few hours, and didn’t consult a pattern once! While it didn’t fit, she adored the color, so it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something she likes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I’ve finished 9 of the 10 rows – 90%! It’s actually starting to feel like this project will be finished.

Plugging along. I got to work on this during the week more than I thought I would – plus at various knitting groups meetings. One of which was at my house. So fun to have everyone here. All I had to do was make some coffee. We talked about all our crazy families, Thanksgiving plans, and the bizarre phenomenon of TV shows about people who don’t know they’re pregnant. It was the general consensus among us all, although only a couple of us have ever carried children, that one should know these things.

After everyone left, I caught Miss Mess relaxing quite comfortably – on the blanket! Luckily, she wasn’t interested in pawing at it, chewing on it, or otherwise molesting it. She was more intent on the squirrels that were taunting her outside the window. But it was a bit of a wake up call. It’s so easy to get complacent about such things, and although Kate is by no means an evil dog, it is in her nature to be inquisitive around un-anchored soft things.

As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes have to knit the squares into a corner. Because I couldn’t quite figure it out, I’ve been knitting them separately and then sewing them in. The seams look a bit different, but they’re acceptable to me. But today, the inevitable happened. I sewed one of the squares in with the wrong side showing. It took nearly an hour to pick out the woven in ends and re-do it. But it’s undetectable at this point.

I’m hoping that I can get the final row (and dare I hope the I-cord edging?) done during this long holiday weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seven Tenths

For reasons that are murky to me – but probably have something to do with guilt – I picked up the Tamarix Quilt again this week. And, I was able to add a whole row. This row had four squares that had to be sewn in by hand, due to my inability to knit squares into the corners, so I might have even been able to crank out more. I’m hoping to get some more work in on it tomorrow

In other knitting news, I’ve had a hankering to make myself a button-up cardigan. My office gets cold. It’s on a northeast-facing external wall. I’ve been using an old cotton hoodie for those times when it gets a bit chilly, but that needs to change. I need something a bit more librarian-y and Mister Rogers-ish. The pattern I’ve picked out is Kerouac by Jenn Jarvis. I’m not going to make mine striped, though. Gray is the color being considered. I wanted to knit something on small needles, and this fits the bill. I did get some yarn last week for my birthday, but it didn’t quite work out. It was a bit thinner than sport-weight, so by the time I got gauge, the fabric was too loose. I’m thinking of doing some shopping over at Knitpicks. If anyone has a favorite sport-weight yarn that would work for this, speak up!

On Friday, I attended a meeting of local academic librarians. One top of getting great ideas, I was pleased to see that two other librarians brought their needlework with them. One was using Tunisian Crochet to make a scarf. I totally want to use this technique – I think it would be great for place mats. Staci used this technique a while back to make a most awesome baby blanket, and has recently put yet another one of her helpful instructional videos on Tunisian Crochet. Everyone should know how to do this. It’s so easy, and the results are so cool.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Medical History: Diagnosing with Yarn

Today, I depart from the usual tediously detailed ramblings on knitting to bring you a little story about how colored yarn was used in early research into color blindness. Interesting, no?

I'm currently reading Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, by Guy Deutscher. It's quite good so far. In the early part of the book, there is a section about how the vocabulary of color arose (or didn't) in various languages and what that might have to say about cultural development. As it happens, at the same time that linguists were talking about color vocabulary, the concept of color-blindness was recognized.

And an early tool in the diagnosing of color blindness was something called the Holmgren Test for Color Blindness. Devised by Swedish professor Alarik Holmgren after a horrible color-blindness-related train crash, this test was used to determine color blindness in employees of occupations related to public transportation and shipping and other trades where being able to discern color accurately was of great importance. This tool was also used in cultural anthropology research to test the detail of color vocabulary amongst various groups -- for instance, noting whether a language discriminated between blue and black, for instance.

In the color-blindness application, those being tested were asked to choose from among the available scraps of yarn for the 10 pieces that best matched, say, a light green. Clicking on the image above will take you to the web site for the the UK's Science Museum's website on the history of medicine. From there, clicking on the image takes you to a very large version where you can read the tester's instructions inside the lid of the box. I think it's cool that some of these original 19th-century kits have been preserved -- and that the pieces of wool inside are still so vibrant -- assuming those are still the originals.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


In both senses of the word. Boo! – it’s Halloween! And also, Boo! -- I haven’t posted to my blog in for-freakin’-ever.

This morning, Jeff and I celebrated Halloween by baking oatmeal in pumpkins. Such a cool idea. We used this recipe from Baking With My Kid. I think I saw this originally on Boing Boing. It was fairly easy to make. I love carving pumpkins, but hate dealing with all the mess. This is a great way to get your carve on, and then eat the results! The only thing I wish we’d done differently was perhaps to bake it just a bit longer. I would recommend getting smaller pumpkins. Our oatmeal mixture didn’t nearly fill the pumpkins as much as I thought they should. And we should have halved the recipe. One pumpkin is plenty for two. But we baked two, and now I have a couple of breakfasts all set for next week. I can definitely recommend giving this a try, especially if you’re an oatmeal freak like me.

The Tamarix Quilt is resting peacefully right now. I haven’t touched it in three weeks. Things got a bit intense, and we both decided we need our space. I’ll get back to it soon. In the meantime, I picked up my Oliver Socks and got back to them. This weekend I finished the heel flap, turned the heel and am almost up to the toe decreases. I really like the cool traveling decrease pattern that comes to a point at the base of the toes. I’ll do a modeling shot later. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on socks, and they’re just the thing to get me back to knitting. I got a lot done this weekend at both of my knitting groups – I think I may be back on track. I’ll try to get back on track with blogging, too.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

In the Hood

Today, I rode my bike to my knitting group in this glorious weather we’ve been having. Riding was a little dicey. A rather large music festival is taking place about a mile from my house, and cars and pedestrians are everywhere, despite the “No Event Parking in Neighborhood” signs posted at the end of every block.

While chatting along with my Saturday morning knitters, I accidentally attached a side that I wasn’t supposed to. I forgot that that the first square on a new row should only attach along half of the cast on. I was just so used to attaching on a side that I did it without thinking. This basically attached my new square to the row below along two edges, forming a cup. Someone suggested that this reminded them of those little hooded baby bath towels. Well, that’s all it took for things to devolve into silliness. Snowden texted me this picture from her camera, for which I’m grateful. I know there are others out there.

BabySteven I’ll post updates if they appear. UPDATE: This one has reared it’s be-blanketed head – thanks Steph!

Not much happened knit-wise this week. Essentially, I’ve done half a square on the blanket since I checked in last week. The next week or so will be very busy with the meeting I’m helping to host, but I’ll try to squeeze in some knitting when I can. My fellow knitters have threatened to come knit at the hotel where my meeting is being held, just to rattle my nerves. I bet they’ll do it. On the upside, they might get to meet some of the other knitters I know, and that could only be a good thing.

I’m thinking of giving the blanket a bit of a rest and getting cracking on some socks. I restarted the Oliver socks over a month ago, getting the first one down to the heel. But they’ve been languishing while I work on the blanket. Maybe if I blog about them and get a project on them started in Ravelry, I might get them done.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

As the Days Dwindle Down

I used to post on days other than weekends. Really, I did. But not lately. I suppose it’s when I have the time. And, as the days dwindle down (as the song says), it’s easier to take pictures on weekends than in the evenings during the week.

Yesterday, knitting friends and I spent a glorious morning knitting outdoors. It’s only just now gotten to where it’s consistently comfortable to do so of a morning. Yummy scones (ginger!), good coffee, and lots of laughs. Snowden had some of Brooklyn Tweed’s new Shelter in the colorway Tent.  I, of course, loved the color. Um, it’s kind of green. It looks like it will knit up beautifully and wear well. It does seem a tad on the scratchy side, so probably not appropriate for next-to-the-skin stuff (like Snowden’s awesomely beautiful Cecily Camisole, which was modeled for us). It is kind of cool that one of the nine physical retail stores chosen to sell this yarn is right here in Austin.

The grass has finally slowed down enough that I think I can get away without mowing and doing other yard work this weekend, so I spent much of the morning and early afternoon outdoors working on the Tamarix Quilt and catching up on podcasts. I’ve finished 60 squares and with the center motif finished (center left in photo), I feel like I’ve hit a milestone. I’m going to try and get as much as I can done in the next week or so before a big professional meeting that’s being hosted here in Austin. Although I’ll be busy, one of the great things about this meeting is that there are usually several knitters in attendance. I’m looking forward to seeing them!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hold My Hand and We’re Halfway There

I just finished my 50th square on the Tamarix Quilt, and so now I’m halfway done. Or nearly so – I keep leaving out the applied I-cord edging in my percentage calculations. So let’s leave that out of the equation for now. Counting it just throws everything off and makes the whole how-far-do-I-have-to-go issue messy.

Work on this is uneven. It was a busy week, so Monday through Friday I made one and a half squares, and this weekend I made eight. It’s been like that. As I go along, the temptation to put this aside and start something new and shiny grows, but so far I’ve managed to remain monogamous.

50 bottles of beer on the wall, 50 bottles of beer…

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Real Quilters of Austin

I’ve been working on this Tamarix Quilt fairly diligently, but progress is slow. I’ve finished the fourth row, and started square 41. I had to rip out the smaller brown portion upon realizing it was supposed to be green. Almost always, yellow and brown are paired in the squares of this quilt, and I got lazy. But I’m back on track.

Yesterday, I got to see some real quilting. I, along with Jeff, my sister, my niece and my Aunt June, attended the 2010 Austin Area Quilt Guild Show and Sale, “Changing Gears.” I thought while I was sitting by the phone waiting to hear whether I’d won a beautiful quilt in the show’s raffle, I’d go ahead and do a quick blog post. Get on the phone, people – fall’s a-comin’!

The show is held biannually and Aunt June tries to come up for it each time. We had a good time wandering around all the wonderful works. There was some true talent on display. There was one quilt made of 1440 blocks, each of which was composed of nine tiny squares! I’ll think of that the next time grumbling about 100 squares. There were so many beautiful colors and styles, and I really enjoyed reading the stories behind the quilts. I ran into friends and neighbors, including a colleague at work who, unbeknownst to me, has her own quilting business set up with her sisters. All in all it was a great show. Aunt June got a glint in her eye and asked me when I was going to start quilting. I don’t know that I will. But I did tell her that it looked interesting and that it looked like it would be fun to do, which were almost my exact words over five years ago when I saw my friend Janelle knitting…

I took one picture of a quilt. I just loved it. Among all the log cabins and double wedding rings, cathedral windows and pinwheels, there was this charming little piece called “Friends.” The creator wrote that she thought that all the possible quilting motifs had already been explored, and she wanted to go in a whole different direction. Boy, did she! She also wrote that this quilt was “simultaneously repulsive and cute, gross and comforting.” It was fun watching people see it and trying to figure out what it was. I thought it was innovative, humorous, and well done. I didn’t get the border in the picture but the quilting stitch pattern mirrored the fabric pattern used for the border. I just love this thing. But don’t expect an intarsia version anytime soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Third

I’m slowly making progress on the Tamarix Quilt, but not much since last week. I”ve finished thirty three squares, so technically, I’m 13 short rows short of a third of the way finished.

I did two squares today, which was a bit of a marathon in comparison with what I’ve managed to get done on the blanket lately. Much of the rest of the week has involved dealing with contractors, noise, dust and pouty dogs. With the torrential rains we got earlier in the week, and shifted chorus rehearsals around the Labor Day holiday, they didn’t get the walks they needed or deserved.

Again, I’m happy with the progress on the blanket. The colors are matching up every time now that I’ve figured out how to count backwards down the selvedge chain to figure out where to initially join the squares together. It makes total sense, but it would be maddening to try and explain this in a pattern. I’ll try and write up a good description and include it in my notes at Ravelry.

67 squares to go. And now, I have to go get dressed for my appearance on stage with Margaret Cho...

Update: A picture!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Fifth

Not a whole lot to report on the knitting front this week. But I did just finish my 20th square on the Tamarix Quilt, which means I’m a fifth of the way there.

I didn’t do as much knitting this week as I’d like. I decided to get back to riding my bike to work more, which means I get home tired and sweaty and not inclined to touch yarn – even if it’s cotton. Also, we have minor chaos at our house these days with bathroom renovations afoot. Contractors in the house make me nervous as a cat. My fellow knitters at my knitting group this morning diagnosed it as a control issue. I think they’re entirely correct. Deep breaths, deep breaths. The dogs are handling this way better than I am.

Speaking of issues – and back to knitting: at times, using the seams-as-you-go method outlined the pattern, one has to cast on and then join both the sides, knitting toward a corner. This happened twice on the second row, at squares 17 and 20. Square 17 I seamed as I went. I wasn’t entirely happy, and at Square 20, which involved seaming unmatched colors during the process, I was really unhappy. So for Square 20, I knit it independently and then seamed it afterwards. I liked this better. I’ll do that from now on. Looking at the pattern, I can see that this will occur exactly at least 19 more times. You can totally geek out numerically on this pattern, that’s for sure.

So on we go. It’s nice to see the pattern developing, especially the nested squares that occur on the corners. The second row, just completed, contained six blocks that were combinations of the yellow (primrose) and brown (VanDyke brown), which got a bit old. It was nice to get back to the moss (green) and purple (heathered pansy) again. I’m enjoying how the decrease lines create a faux seaming affect, as if squares on a quilt have been cut on the bias. This definitely looks better from a distance than it does close up. I’m still finding strange joins and weird colors showing through at points, but I”m still intrigued by the overall effect.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


12 down, 88 to go.

I’m a little dismayed with my inability to seam these squares together consistently. I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten down how to attach from side to side in order for the colors to line up, but I’m still having issues getting corners to match up.

The blanket is 10 squares by 10 squares. The 12 square, the second one on the second row, is the first one that is attached on two sides as it is knit. Fortunately for me, they were both picked up edges. Soon, though, I will be casting on half the stitches, picking up the other half, and then seaming on one side as I go. There are many possibilities. So while you’re basically doing the same thing 100 times, the way that each one is begun and seamed is a bit different.

I had to start several squares multiple times on the first row. There were a few times where I had to cast on half the stitches, and then figure out how to pick up while the yarn was on the wrong end of the needles. This just involved flipping the needles around, but it took me a long time to wrap my brain around this. In reading Ravelry, I see that others are running into similar confusion. My biggest fear right now is completing and attaching an entire squire only to discover that I put the wrong one in the wrong place. I’m constantly consulting the diagrams in the pattern to try to prevent this. If it happens, you’ll hear about it.

It looks like really sloppy right now, but hopefully things will come together as I go. And remember that there will be an i-cord edging around the whole thing that should hide a multitude of sins.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

All together now!

I’ve started the Tamarix Quilt from the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. It’s for Jeff’s cousin, who is expecting in December. I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into. I didn’t get to rest on my laurels quite long enough from my last project – “fiddly” is definitely a word that could be used to describe this. But I”m all about the fiddly.

This quilt is made of 100 tiny squares, about 3.5 inches across (mine are closer to 4). One can knit them, stack them like pancakes in an old cartoon, and then spend the whole time dreading what the Discovery Channel might dub “Seaming Week!”. Or, there are specific, if somewhat vague, instructions on how to pick up stitches and join sides together as one goes. That’s what I’m doing. And it’s really slowing me down as I figure out all the intricacies of hiding color jogs and figuring out how to combine picked up rows with cast on stitches, etc. etc. The instructions do advise to be careful in how you choose to proceed, noting that the careless knitter might end up having to join on all four sides of a square at one time. Really? Someone would knit the outsides first and then have to figure out how to join the squares in the middle? That might work in jigsaw puzzles, but not in knitting!

I’m using Cascade Sierra, a cotton yarn that is much less forgiving than the Palette I was just using for the vest. But I really like the colors. They are, from top to bottom: moss, heathered pansy (ahem), primrose and Vandyke brown. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together. Right now, it’s kind of like playing the world’s slowest game of Tetris.

“97 squares of quilt to go, 97 squares of quilt. Cast stitches on, miter like hell, 96 squares of quilt to go…”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vaila Versatility

The Vaila Slipover is done! During the week I did one armhole and yesterday morning I cut the final steek and finished up the second. This was the one with all the knots behind it due to the color changes. It was so refreshing to be able to just snip them all away and not worry about all those ends. I got the armhole ribbing done by late afternoon, wove in some ends, threw the whole thing into some water to soak, and went to a neighbor’s pool party. When I got home, I put it out to block – with LOTS of stretching – and this morning it was dry and ready for its debut. In August.

I’m so pleased with how this turned out. Despite the many anxieties I had about colors and weaving in and gauge and all those other things, this went relatively smoothly. And, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I didn’t work all that steadily on it; there were a few Mondays-through-Fridays where I didn’t touch it. About seven weeks start to finish, which isn’t too bad. I actually started thinking toward the end that I might have enough yarn left over to put some sleeves on this thing, but I was kind of ready to be done and when I realized I would have to chart out the sleeve pattern on my own, I quickly abandoned the idea.

While working on this, two great 20th century figures who knew how to work the Fair Isle look came to mind, and for fun, I thought I might model the sweater with these two gentlemen in mind. I know I’m going to regret this…

edwardfairisle The first is the future Edward VIII during his Prince of Wales days. This portrait of him and what I’m guessing is a Cairn Terrier, appeared in the Illustrated London News in November of 1925 and helped popularize Fair Isle garments in Britain during the 20s and 30s. Of course this is a long-sleeved version (pullover vs. slipover?), but I like how the ribbing around the collar and waist are very similar to the Ann Feitelson pattern I just completed. Clicking this picture should take you to more information at the website for the UK’s National Portrait Gallery.

I don’t have a Cairn Terrier, but in a pinch, a Basenji (this is Kate) works just fine. Pona doesn’t look nearly so composed or graceful when being carried (think baby giraffe), so I went with Kate. It was already a bazillion degrees outside, so we had to work fast. And those are shorts I’m wearing, not heavy wool pleated trousers like I’m sure HRH is wearing. I almost went looking for a cool hat like that, but then decided it just wasn’t worth the trouble for one shot. I really like this picture though. Kate is quite stunning in it! (Thanks, Jeff!). Also, be-heathered  Scottish braes are hard to find around here, so we had to go with a background of house.

onslow The second great icon of 20th century Fair Isle fashion is Our Onslow from Keeping up Appearances. Onslow is often seen wearing a sleeveless t-shirt or one of these sleeveless Fair Isle vests, which his stuffy sister-in-law Hyacinth is always trying to get him cover up with a jacket or something. Onslow has let himself go a long time ago, but he can strike up a conversation with anyone, is addicted to the horse races, loud television and crisps (smoky bacon flavor!), and has a keen interest in theoretical physics. What’s not to like?

So I thought I’d give it a shot. I don’t run around in heavy construction circles, so I don’t have access to a Fulton Hogan hat, but I did have one in a similar blue. I don’t think I could dress like this in real life, but I love that Onslow does. He must dress like this more often – note his lack of and my abundance of farmer tan!  I remember several episodes in which Onslow and Daisy’s large dog, who usually lives in the abandoned car in the front yard, was stretched across Onslow’s lap (and sometimes Hyacinth’s, to her dismay). I started to see if I could replicate this with Kate, but I think she’d had enough modeling for one day.

“Aw, nice!”