Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No photos, just text. OK, one photo.

I decided after two picture posts in a row, I'd better actually say something.

Knitting updates
On Saturday at knitting group I got most of the way down the foot of the current sock. It's from Brown Sheep Wilde Foot in a very pretty green. I think I'm nearly ready to start toe shaping, but need to double check on my foot.

I've been working on the hot pink cardigan (Plum Shrug revised) the last couple of nights. I had some interesting glitches in some of the early on rows (don't ask me how), but decided to soldier on with errors I probably should have gone back to fix. My excuses are that my grandmother, the intended recipient, is extremely visually impaired and might die before I finish the project. So, if I'm going to give it to her, I can't really dawdle. Right now, I'm taking a break because I noticed my left hand starting to rebel on the purl rows. I took my ibuprofen and I'm waiting for it to kick in.

Scott's tweedy sweater is completely parked in neutral. Until my hand gets happier with long stretches of purling on little needles, that might have to stay dormant for a while.

Last year my friend Jim asked me to make him a sweater with natural lanolin. I started one in Bartlettyarns' Sport weight with a Shaker Rib, on my double bed knitting machine. I was able to crank out a back and front in relatively short order and then started experiencing frustrations with the sleeves. So the whole project got back-burnered for many months. A couple weekends ago Scott took the boys up north for an overnight and I made a sleeve while they were gone. It was a charmed piece of knitting. Determined to clear this project from my pipeline, I started the last sleeve with great optimism. But the males were back in the house and it was doomed. I thought it was going well and I was about two-thirds of the way through the raglan decreases when the yarn broke mid-row and the work dropped to the floor. And then I realized that there was a screwed up section about four inches down from the last successful row, which would have ruined the effort anyhow. I think I need to send the guys away overnight again. Jim says as long as the sweater is done before May, when he and his girlfriend are going to Alaska for three weeks, it's fine. So, between now and March, I would like to create one more successful sleeve and then put that sucker together. Hell, if I have to do the neckband ribbing by hand, so be it.

Other News
Image hosting by PhotobucketIt has been abyssmally grey and dark and dreary here. I tried to get some photos of the Hyde Park Pullover, but even in mid-day there was not enough natural light. It's a hard combination of things to control. Getting a flattering angle of me and having the stitch pattern on the sweater show up and not catch me in the middle of pulling a goofy face. Also, I need a photographer who notices things like how the garment is hanging and adjusts as necessary. Scott is very well-intentioned and tries, but he has never taken good photos of me. He takes amazing pictures of bugs, butterflies, and inanimate objects. He just can't seem to do the same for me. I'll try again on a clearer day: can't sell a pattern without good pictures.

Off to finish the sock: I think the wrist is happier now. Let's hope for photos of works in progress soon. If the sun ever shines in Madison again.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Since I skipped "A" I'll catch up now...

A is for Avocado
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I promise to do the others at the right time and in the right order, to the best of my ability. Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

C is for...

Cherry Tree Hill
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This satisfies Wendy's longing for yarrn pron and gives me a luscious C word, all at once! And I'm only a little early out of the gate.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Quick photo post

Image hosting by Photobucket Here's a self-portrait of the me in the latest sweater: The Hyde Park Pullover. You know, it's really hard to take a good self-portrait with the auto-timer. Finally, I just gave up and figured that I'll have Scott take some better pictures on the weekend.

This pullover was made from Valley Yarns (aka WEBS) Donegal Lambswool, which I bought from a local yarn store. It came on a kilo-size cone, and I have a lot left. I wouldn't give a strong recommendation for this yarn for knitting. When I first swatched it, the stocking stitch sample biased very strongly and quickly. It has a lot of twist and curls up on itself a lot. The oil that coned yarns are treated with (to work better in knitting machines) made it take a little extra effort to form each stitch. I used the Broken Rib stitch in part because the combination of knitting and purling on the right side of the fabric helped counteract the tendency to bias. This yarn, bought on a cone, is very inexpensive. Mine worked out to about $16 a pound, which is a bargain for a sweater's worth of yarn. The final product blooms a lot after washing out the greasy treatment. The yarn was much fluffier and softer after washing. If price is a strong consideration for you when choosing yarn, this would be a good one to try. But it wasn't real pleasant to work with.

In Other News
My older son, Owen, won his school spelling bee this morning. On February 11 he will compete in the city-wide spelling bee. Even when he's nervous, he stands right up there and speaks loudly and clearly. His final word was "chrome." I found this appropriate because one of my favorite lines in Sponge Bob is "Everything's chrome in the future."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Good Stuff on The Garter Belt

Wendy has updated The Garter Belt with two new patterns: her totally hypnotizing new bag Roxy and my pullover Alishar.

I'm eager to make a Roxy for myself. I have a lot of miscellaneous balls of cotton that have been crying out for a project forever! Wendy lined her cotton Roxy with some wild striped fabric. It seems sure to bring on summer weather.

In Other News...
I'm making another version of The Plum Shrug. This one is at a slightly larger gauge and will have 3/4 length sleeves and be longer in the body: more a cardigan than bolero. I'm using some HOT pink yarn I got from a frogged thrift shop sweater. It's a blend of nylon, rayon, cotton, wool, angora, and 3% cashmere. One wonders why they bothered with the 3% cashmere, but, hey, beggars can't be choosers. I'm planning to give it to my 96 year old grandmother who loves hot pink and tangerine orange. She wore a hot pink angora sweater to my grandfather's funeral: not exactly looking like a grieving widow after 65 years of marriage, but totally in keeping with her personality. I did find a couple wee little typos in the Plum Shrug pattern, so I'll be posting a corrected version soon. If any of you have had problems you couldn't sort out, please let me know! I'm happy to answer any and all questions.

I'm coming down to the home stretch on the Hyde Park Pullover. At least on the knitting part. The pattern is probably still a couple of weeks out, as I need to do a lot of fiddling with the numbers and such to calibrate sizes.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Madison Knittyboard Meetup

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A little photo collage of some slightly blurry pictures. Word to the wise, if you share a camera with your significant other, check the settings before you take pictures. I tend to assume that everything will be in the automatic mode and forget that he likes to turn off the flash and such.

Top row: Bina; Bina, JennyZ, and Yarnit; Dancing Gardener and Kathrows
Bottom row: JennyZ and Yarnit; Dancing Gardener and Kathrows

I was bummed that I had to leave early. My husband had an all-day meeting of his train module hobby group (don't ask) and I asked him to give me a couple of hours mid-afternoon to see everyone. I hope we can all do it again soon. Dancing Gardener and Kathrows each had to drive a piece to make it. Not to mention, Bina coming around Lake Michigan.

Funny moment: while Bina was discussing her medical care and options, which gets into Female Troubles, I noticed Jenny and Yarnit having a strange side conversation and looking embarrassed. I finally asked them if they felt the conversation was too personal for a crowded coffee shop. No, it wasn't that. They suggested that I look behind me and there was a couple engaged in a long, passionate kiss, standing up, right there in a packed coffee and yarn shop. It went on and on and on and on. Now, that's something you don't see every day!

Terby had to miss the meet-up, due to illness. Next time!

At one point, a woman walked up and asked if we were the Knittyboard meetup. "Yes!" we answered. "Oh," she said, "I'm a lurker." And then she walked away. A lurker on the board and in real life. Too funny.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Rejected Sweater...

Image hosted by Photobucket.comToday I got the letter from Interweave that my submission was rejected. I've decided that I don't have the energy to shop it to other magazines right now, so here it is. I'll be preparing the pattern for The Garter Belt over the next several days. While it's a little disappointing to get rejected, I still think it's a good design and I'm proud of it. And it's a bit of a relief not to have to drop everything and make a sample in the yarn and size needed on three weeks notice. So, back to Plan A, which is to continue self-publishing on my own schedule for now and work more seriously on print submissions in the fall, when The Little Emperor goes to kindergarten.

The Alishar pattern is available for immediate pdf download.
$5 US.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It must be time to post again

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI finally got the Swirl Hat pattern written up and sent to Wendy to put up at TGB. It should be up by this evening. I wasn't entirely happy with my photos, but just want to move it along. Maybe I'll redo pics some other day.

I've been moving along on the textured pullover from Valley Yarns (aka WEBS) Donegal. Remember, the dainty-size cone? Last night I came up with a name. I was sitting there knitting my sleeve and mulling it over. A name for a piece of knitting has to do a lot. It's really a marketing tool. It has to suit the style of the garment and suggest a lifestyle or attitude. Successful marketing has to make buyers think that they will attain that ideal if they, too, wear that garment. I'm not a natural born promoter, but I'm trying to think that way. So, this particular sweater seems kind of outdoorsy to me. I looked for names of places in northern Wisconsin, but most of them just wouldn't work. I'd feel funny appropriating a Native American place name, and many of the places up there have names based on Native American words. A lot of the good east coast outdoorsy words have been used by places like LL Bean: big companies with big lawyers. I sat there knitting and thinking, saying in my head, Campfire Pullover. Sounds like Campfire Girls. Are they still around? Door County Pullover? Too touristy. Copper Harbor? Madeline Island? Then I started thinking about my student days in Chicago. Aha. Hyde Park Pullover. Forget the outdoorsy thing. When I was a student without a car in the Windy City, I used to have some funny ways of staying warm. I had many sweaters and some thrift-shop wool overcoats. I would layer all the sweaters (usually three at a time over a shirt), put on the overcoat, and then wrap a couple of scarves around my head, babushka-style. When I got indoors, I had to do an elaborate strip-tease which my friends found amusing. I emerged from this wooly cocoon half the size I had appeared before. Still, there were times when that Chicago wind could cut through all those layers. One of the sweaters was a plain olive drab turtleneck that my maternal grandmother had made for my brother in his early teens. It fit him for about 2 months. I loved that sweater and wore it with some purple pants I bought in Rome and some big funky beads. It vanished before I moved on from Hyde Park, and I never could figure out exactly when or where. You know how some garments just do that? Some clothes, you know when you gave it away. Or when it turned to rags. But some just kind of vanish. This new sweater will fill a similar niche in my life. Not too baggy, not too tight. Comfy for every day. Never really "In" and never really "Out". And it's nearly done. I've bumped it up to Priority status in the queue, so it should be done soon. If it seems like it's been a slow knit, it's only because I haven't given it the focused attention I should have. In the months since I started it I've made several hats, several mittens, a scarf, a Gioia, progress on a long-term sweater, and a whole lot of dinners. Also, survived Christmas vacation with too much time with my darling husband and kids, washed about 84 loads of laundry, and went to the supermarket about 30 times. So, the Hyde Park Pullover will be along soon. If you live in the Windy City, or anyplace with winter, it might be just what your wardrobe needs.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

B is for Butterfly

I don't think I can do the whole alphabet with the rest of the ABC alongs, but I did find these nice pictures of a swallowtail on a purple coneflower that Scott took last summer.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Image hosted by Photobucket.comHere is my version of Wendy Wonnacott's Gioia. I used a bulky single-ply mystery yarn, in natural black, which my brother in law and his wife sent me from Switzerland about 12 years ago. I suspect that this scarf should be made from something slightly thinner. I used size 11 needles, which would probably be only a wee bit too big for this yarn in stocking st. I can't tell you the yardage, but I had two (presumably) 100 gram skeins and used about one and a half of them.

This photo suffers from poor exposure, but I was under pressure because a. it's a self-portrait, b. my husband has misplaced a crucial component of the tripod, which would allow the camera to actually attach to it, and c. the four-year old was extremely demanding of mommy attention, and I couldn't placate him long enough for one more retake. So, I cranked the brightness and contrast in Photoshop so you can actually see something, and I'll try again. Next time, I'll check to make sure the flash is turned on.

Later the same day
Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnother attempt at self-portraiture; this time, with the camera on the tripod and the child at preschool. It's a little better, as far as photos go. But not great. I guess that's one of the pitfalls of knitting in a dark yarn: it's a challenge to show off in photos.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Swirl Hat

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Here's the coordinating hat to match the Swirl Scarf. The pattern should be ready in a couple more days. It's a little small for my oversized head, which means it should fit everyone else pretty well.

I've also been working on test knitting Wendy's Gioia Scarf. This has been a fun, quick little knit. Wendy had some requests for expanded line-by-line directions, so she asked me to be one of the testers to make sure it all works. It's a great project for showcasing a small amount of special yarn. I'll post of picture of my Gioia as soon as it's done. I suggested that Wendy upgrade the rating from Easy. Don't be too intimidated by that. The pattern stitch is quick to memorize, but it's a bit beyond the basic. If you know how to knit and to purl and can pay attention to a few details, you can make Gioia.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rites of Passage

Last night we went out to eat at Culver's, a fast food chain. I left the receipt at the table with my husband while I went to fill the water cups. When I returned, he told me that the young man at the counter had given me the Senior Citizen discount! That was a first. I guess to a high school student, everyone over 40 looks ancient!

Then I had to take Owen out for emergency shoe shopping. His sneakers had self-destructed during the day at school. We had to buy men's size 11!!! And he's not even 11 years old yet! He's going to have massive feet by the time he finishes growing!

Point of clarification on a previous post. I don't find it funny/strange that my sister sent me thrift shop yarn for Christmas. I think that's perfect. The part I find funny is the Sears logo on yarn. It somehow seems like a funny juxtaposition. My strange brain at work.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Swirl Scarf

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I needed a little pick-me up to get through the drab days we've been having. It's a great project for using up odds and ends. If I make a bunch more, I could drape the whole yard and have a Christo party. Pattern here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Do You Find This Funny?

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My sister sent me a box of this Sears Mohair as a Christmas present. It's a nice olive drab color. There are about 20 balls. Why do I find it funny? Well, somehow the early '60s Sears logo on yarn just strikes me as incongruous. Also, I'm immediately reminded of that Frank Zappa song from sometime around 1977 in which he asks the ever-important question, "Is that a Sears Poncho or a Real Poncho?"

So, if I make a poncho (I won't, I promise!) out of Sears yarn, is it automatically a Sears Poncho? Although I doubt there is such a thing as a good poncho, a 1970's Sears Ponch is definitely the worst of all. Well, the modern-day equivalant, a Wal Mart poncho, would probably be worse.

I'm sure I'll find a perfect use for this wonderful old mohair.

I pick up a lot of old yarn at thrift shops and I have (as you may know) a generously sized stash. Sometimes I stop to reflect that the animal whose fleece I'm knitting probably died more than 25 years ago! One of the amusing things I discovered while poking around in my blog stats is that someone once accessed my blog from the search words "Life expectancy sheep." So, I went to some of the other sites that search turned up and found that sheep live about 11-15 years. Which means that when I knit with yarn from 1960, the animal that gave it has been gone 30 years or more.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Last Saturday Knitting
Image hosted by Photobucket.comAs it turns out, I was not alone at Last Saturday Knitting. I wasn't even the first to arrive. I strolled in at about 7 minutes after 10 and Terri and Linda were already there, at the big square table by the fire place. Before I was properly settled in Jenny arrived, too. It was a nice time and good conversation. Linda was working on a Log Cabin square, and then a scarf. Jenny made an entire baby hat while Image hosted by Photobucket.comwe were chatting. Terri was working on her Cutaway Cardigan. And me? I was working on the sleeve to the as-yet-unnamed purple pullover. Image hosted by Photobucket.comUnfortunately, the sleeve ended up too narrow and I later had to rip it out and restart, in closer consultation with my swatch. I think it will be much more successful this time around. After I got anxious about the sleeve, I switched to my basic green sock.

Yes, the same old boring sock again. I really tried this time. I thought about doing a simple lacy pattern. I started one and really didn't think the little holes were going to work with the Wild Foote. I thought about toe up, because then I could make the most of each skein: no piddling little leftovers when the toe is closed. After three false starts on that, I just decided to do Image hosted by Photobucket.com what I know I like. It just seems a lot less fiddly to me to make decreases for the toes and then graft, than to do the figure 8 cast on and make increases. (OK, so my mittens were made that way. It doesn't seem to bother me in thicker yarn.)

Preview of coming attraction
On the right is a little preview pic of the quick mosaic scarf coming up soon on The Garter Belt. I have to take a few more good pictures tomorrow and then Wendy will do her magic.

In the past 10 minutes I have had to pause writing 10 times for debate and discussion with the 10 year old about the meaning of Bedtime. And now I have lost my whole train of thought. Children seem to think their parents aren't too bright. Little do they know that they made us that way. I guess that means it's time for me to stop writing and go do a little more knitting.

Thanks to those who volunteered to help me with naming sweaters and such. I just might take you up on that.