Thursday, January 25, 2007


Shetland-inspired Faroese-looking cardigan

Here's the progress photo of the Shetland-inspired Faroese cardigan. It's about 10 inches along. When I get to 14 inches, only 24 more rounds, I'll park the body and start the sleeves. This is the easiest colorwork pattern around! It's completely compatible with family life, meaning I don't have to retreat to my lair to work on it. I think I might do another one in lighter weight yarn when this is done.

Jim's Never-ending Sweater

This is a picture of the holey sleeve that frustrated me a few days ago. I used the purple draw cord to encircle the two offending holes. Truth be told, they are barely noticable from the front of the fabric, so I probably could have just caught the loops in with spare yarn and darned in the ends, but I didn't realize that until it was off the machine.

The good news is (and I am definitely knocking on wood!) that I'm am making great strides on the most recent attempt to do this sleeve. I worked about an hour and a half (yes, a sleeve in a couple of hours) and got all the way up to beginning of the raglan shaping when I took a break to write this post and have a little lunch. So far, so good. A few close calls with dropping edge stitches after increases, but I learned to be vigilant and catch them before they become problems. Now, however, I thinking I might need to redo the other sleeve, which I had called "done" because it really wasn't as well-done as the new one is turning out. See? Never ending! I guess I can say it's been a great learning experience. I hope he likes the sweater when it's done.

Edited to add:
Jim's sweater is made from Barlett Yarns Fisherman's Sport Weight yarn. He wanted one with some natural lanolin in it. Jim likes to sail and also builds boats as a hobby. When he gets his next big boat built he's going to sail around the Great Lakes for a while and he wants a sweater to wear then. But mostly he wants it done before his next trip to Alaska in the spring. You can see Jim modeling the Professor Vest at TGB.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snow Day!

After a very strange December, it's finally looking like winter here in Wiscosin. We had about 5 inches of snow overnight and more is on the way. And it's not too cold out, so playing outside doesn't quickly lead to frostbitten cheeks. Of course, Owen left his winter boots in his locker at school on Friday, because he's a cool middle schooler now, and way too cool to wear his boots home. Now he's regretting it.

I've been puttering away on the Shetland Cardigan. Here's a progress pic, laid out on the hood of my husband's car:

Although I'm loving this sweater, I don't think I'll do really frequent progress pics, because it doesn't photograph well. A lot of sameness, just growing. In this photo, it's about 6.5 inches along.

While I was cropping and choosing a pic for this post, I noticed this:

One of those snowflakes has 5 spokes, not 6. What does it mean?

So about my friend Jim's machine knit sweater... you know, the one I talked myself in to tackling on Friday? Or was that Thursday? I got the machine all limbered up, found my notes which were less than helpful, and spent a while reading the actual knitting to figure out what I had done, which wasn't exactly what my notes said. Then I realized I really was not happy with the appearance of the increases along the selvedges of the sleeve. Since I'm working this in a Fisherman's Rib, it's a bit trickier than a standard fully fashioned increase would be. I spent some time googling for internet tutorials on machine knitting (no luck), ordered a bunch of books from the library, and then decided to try fiddling with my own ideas. Using some cheap acrylic, I was able to figure out a process that keeps the integrity of the pattern, does not lead to dropped edge stitches, and looks pretty good.

Yesterday, with great optimism, I set out to make the final sleeve. It was working really well. Then, I noticed that one strand of the yarn had broken at one point and the strand was not threading through the machine properly, but was instead bunching up in the carriage. Grr. Back up a row. No problem. Move forward. As I was getting up near the area where the raglan shaping starts, I was positivly glowing with anticipation of being done. Then, I looked under the machine at the work in progress and there were two holes in the knitting about halfway up the work. One might have come from the row where I found the broken strand. The other, a few rows below that, might have come from a small knot in the yarn. Back to the drawing board. In stockinette, I could easily fix this with a bit of yarn and a darning needle. In the fisherman's ribbing, it's a bit trickier to repair this invisibly. Still, I had such great luck with the edge stitches and the increases, that I'm optimistic that I reallyl can finish this week. Or I just tell Jim that I can't make the machine work and I hand knit him a bulky sweater in stockinette and call it done.

Friday, January 19, 2007


This booklet just cracks me up. There are a couple nice berets that would still be wearable, but I found these offerings so much more ... je ne sais quoi.

I wonder if the model has a bowling ball hidden under that bowler?

Peak of fashion. I think it's supposed to be a pun. Who remembers the Coneheads on SNL? or maybe these women are getting ready for a date with Zippy?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Later the Same Day

I went to my basement to work on the machine knit sweater for my friend. It had been so long, the last time I worked on it was before I got possession of my lair. I had to excavate the machine in question and then I couldn't find a couple very important pieces of paper: the one that had all my project notes and another that came with the machine that gives suggested settings for different stitches for all the various weights of yarn. As I dug around in all the places that seemed likely, I got more panicked. Eventually, I remembered that I had been sitting over on the other end of the basement when I last worked on it and went to check in the cabinet next to my old spot. I found a stack of papers relating to knitting and the knitting machine, including the ones I need. But, that was 20 mins ago, and not enough time to really do anything before I need to pick up the Little Emperor.

BUT, among the goodies I found several old pattern booklets. I must have about 100 of these stashed around. This stack had about 20 booklets. The cover above caught my eye! That's all I have time to scan and post right now, but more will be forthcoming over the next weeks. I've got some real winners.

Trying to get motivated, find direction...

I'm trying to figure out the best thing to focus on today and am feeling a bit aimless and undirected. Here are a bunch of perfectly good choices:
  • 1. Pick some area of the house and do some cleaning and organizing.

  • 2. Work on a sewing project: in particular, some soft flannelly-knit pajamas. (Like knit jersey fabric with a bit of a nap.)

  • 3. Work on any of four different hand-knitting projects
    a. Shetland/Faroese cardigan (about 5 inches along.)
    b. socks for Owen
    c. Longstanding WIP for Mr. SABLE: Scott's Tweedy Pullover
    d. mohair scarf
    e. Any others that could jump out and bite me.

  • 4. Finally finish a machine knitting project for a friend, that I should have done 2 years ago. What can I say? I had some frustrations and put it on indefinite hold. I might be able to finish in short order and feel very virtuous.

  • 5. Work on my ongoing desire to learn website creation and design.

  • 6. Probably about 10 other things that will just become distracting filler.

  • I'm leaning toward #4 because it's one that would be a great thing to cross off my list of nagging obligations. I'm putting #5 aside for now because I know I could spend all day on it and yet, have nothing tangible to show for the time. And I think today, I would like to have something tangible for the effort. That's a reason both for and against spending time cleaning and organizing. It seems like it should be a tangible result, but the mess is so great and the slobs are so persistent, that a small dent becomes invisible in 24 hours. (I did clean the downstairs bathroom sink the other day and the kitchen sink the day before that, so I'm on a bit of roll there.)

    Before I go down and tackle the knitting machine project (which is on the tempermental machine), I thought I'd say a bit about the Harrisville Highland I'm using for my new cardigan. This yarn doesn't feel very pleasant in the skein or while you're knitting with it. But I compared the swatch which I washed and let dry to the knitting on the needle, and the washed swatch is really nice. I could probably wear a hat from this stuff. (That's my standard test for itchiness. My forehead is my most sensitive spot for itchy yarn.) So, if you had ever considered the Harrisville Shetland or Highland, give them a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

    More on that project
    After I started knitting the Highland cardigan, I had a couple moments of concern. The first was that I bought nearly equal quantities of the rust and the brown. One more brown than rust skein. Then, I actually counted the number of stitches of each color in one full repeat of the pattern. 19 browns:9 rust. Which tells me I need about twice as much brown as rust. Back to the yarn store...

    Also, I was a bit haphazard about gauge. I used some size 7 dbl pts for my swatch and a different size 7 circular to knit. And my knitting was looking really big. For a moment I considered taking it off and starting over, which I consider not too big a deal when I'm only one evening into the project. Better to do it early than late. But, I got another long circular and transferred enough stitches to spread it out to full actual size. Yes, it's a bit bigger than I first planned, but not as much as I feared. I think for the kind of garment it is, a warm dense winter cardigan, a little oversize will be ok. My ease is about 15% of my bust measurement.

    So, without further stalling, I'm off to the basement to do battle with the machine. And, perhaps, emerge triumphant. (I only have one sleeve left to make, but then sewing up, and neckline trim. The end could be in sight!)

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    A sketch to go with the swatch

    Here's a rough sketch of the basic sweater I'll be using for Shetland stitch pattern. (Or Faroese, but found in the Shetlands.) I did not attempt to paint in all the little repeats of the pattern. I'm not that crazy.

    I was able to cast on this evening. I had to leave the room to double check my stitch count, because it's quite annoying to do one of those really big cast-ons and find out you screwed up by 10 stitches because your kid interrupted you around "75, 76, 7, 8, 9, 90, 91..." Don't laugh. I've screwed up some sweaters that way. And since I've always had big hips in relation to my middle, I don't want a smaller number of stitches for the ribbing at the hips. So, it took several tries to accurately count to past 100, but I did put markers at the one- and two-hundred marks. And I'm sure I have the correct number of stitches.

    With a little luck, I'll have progress pics to show in the next couple of days. Stay tuned!

    Shetland Sweater Swatch

    OK, here's my swatch for Andrew Morrison's sweater (see last post for link). I used Harrisville Highland, at about 5 stitches per inch. I'm thinking this will be my sturdy cardigan. I plan to work in the round, making corrugated ribbing on the bottom. I'm going to make raglan sleeves, and run a design detail up the raglan seam lines. I've got the sketch in my mind, but not yet committed to paper. I'm not sure yet about buttons vs. zipper, or exactly what the neckline will look like.

    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    The Square Hat...

    Or maybe it should be called Pyramid Power? The top really is more of a pyramid, rather than a flat square.

    I got a better picture today. The basic recipe is to cast on a brimful of stitches and work ribbing. Switch to MC and larger needles for stocking st. Work in rounds, increasing 10 stitches evenly around every 3rd round, until crown is desired depth. This was 14 rounds in my case. Use contrast yarn and k 1 round, p 2 rounds. Back to MC and decrease pairs every other round. I worked ssk, k to end of first fourth, leaving 2 st. K2tog. Repeat around. When I got to the top, I made an attached ball. Easy as can be.

    While randomly surfing a few weeks back I ended up at the Shetland Museum site. They have an extensive online photo archive, so I searched my last name. The Morrisons came from there originally. This sweater caught my eye. It's in the first picture that comes up from that search. I quickly charted out the colorwork in the sweater. I think it looks more Faroese than Shetland, but there's been a fair amount of communication between the two cultures over the centuries. But I really like it. I'm swatching some colors now, though not sure how successful my first choices will be. Stay tuned. As for the guy in the picture, he's probably some 9th cousin 15 times removed or something.

    Funny (well, kind of in a sick way) thing the Little Emperor said yesterday morning. We were getting ready to go out the door to school and he said, "That person made a poor choice, who shot Martin Luther King." I'm thinking, it goes a bit beyond a poor choice! Of course, this is the kind of language that the school uses for disciplining children with behavior issues. It's never about being bad; just about making good choices vs. poor choices. So, in the discussion of MLK the kids all learned that the assassin made a poor choice. My tax dollars at work.

    Hey, did you know that it's National Blog De-lurking Week? Or if it isn't now, it will be soon. All you readers who never comment are supposed to pipe up and at least say "Hi" just once. I'll have to think of a great controversy or post an all-out rant. That always seems to stir up comments.

    It's possible that we will get a measurable snow fall this weekend. I'd about given up.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    January Slogs Along

    The kids went back to school on Monday, which was a tremendous relief. The worst of the beastly behavior has subsided now that Gimme Season has ended and they are back in their routines.

    I've been puttering on stuff without a lot to show for it. I thought I'd be able to get a self-timer picture of the new hat, but between the clouds and the tendency of the camera to focus on the stuff behind me because I'm not in frame yet, this is the best I could get.

    This hat is kind of like a beret, but with a squarish top. I used some of the yarn that Shelagh gave me in the summer and I dyed with Wilton's with the kids. The brown is Paton's Classic Wool. This is a style that suits my face shape pretty well. If I get Mr. SABLE and a bit of sunshine at home at the same time, I'll get a better pic.

    This is a swatch I made from the Paton's Classic.

    It looks better in person than it did in this photo. Just knitting and purling, but it manages to look rather deeply textured. I'm thinking I need a durable cardigan. I generally prefer pullovers for a number of reasons. I don't really make buttonholes very well, although I'm getting better. I don't like the way cardigans pull against my bust and belly unless they are very large and shapeless. I like a relatively uncluttered front because of the bust and belly. But, I find that I need to adjust my temperature a lot more these days. I get very cold sitting at my computer and put on a sweater. I go down stairs and start to cook or do a little cleaning, and as soon as I'm in motion, I'm too hot. Sit down for a break to read the paper: oops, cold again. And so on. So maybe a cardigan is the answer to some of this. Maybe with a zipper, so I can avoid the whole button issue.

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    Two pictures from yesterday

    The freakishly warm winter continues here, as in much of the country. Yesterday we went to the playground at the nearby elementary school to give the kids a bit of a run. Hard to believe it's January. I was in a light jacket over a sweater and turtleneck, and Owen just had a polarfleece hoodie over a tshirt.

    My camera battery was nearly ready for a charge, but I got a few pics of Owen and went up in the prairie behind the school for a bit. It was quite overcast at that point.

    Right now, I think the whole family is just counting down until school starts on Monday, although the kids would never admit it. At least the older kid wouldn't. My kids really need the kind of structure that school provides, even though they seem to bristle against it. I'm looking forward to stringing together more than two thoughts in a sequence.

    post script: I will make a pattern for the Fair Isle tam I'm wearing in the last post. You're on your own for yarn choices, though. It's been about 15 years since I made that hat!

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Plan B works

    I found over three skeins of the Perendale yarn from my favorite plain grey sweater and it was a close enough match for this project. I can confidently assert that there was not a bit of waste of the Rowan Tapestry. The only snippet left over will be about 5 inches from where I darn in my cast on tale.

    The Rowan Tapestry is nice. It is a 70% wool/30% soy protein single, DK weight, with long gradual color shifts. It's considerably more consistent than Noro yarns and the color combinations are more conventional. I encountered no bits of plant matter. I had one reknotted break in the two balls I used. Often Noro users find multiple breaks within a single ball. There were a few thicker areas, but no very thin ones and the twist was consistent overall.

    On the whole, I'd recommend it as a nice yarn for accessories that don't have to take hard wear. I don't know, but I suspect it might be prone to pilling. It would probably work very well for any of the entrelac scarves, like Lady Eleanor, that people often do in Noro.

    Always Have a Plan B

    Last night as I approached the end of the second ball of Rowan Tapestry, I figured I'd better estimate how much it would take for binding off. I counted all the stitches and found I had exactly 300. I guess my brain likes nice round numbers even when I'm not paying attention. I measured my gauge and got around 9 st:2 inches. So, that worked out to somewhere under 6 feet for the length. I figured I needed around 6 yards per row and maybe a bit more for bind off. Using my old sewing guess-timator, of one outstretched arm to my nose, I figured I had about 14 yards left. Perfect. One more row and enough to bind off. Best laid plans and all that...

    As I got to the last 100 stitches to bind off, I realized I was eating up my tail much faster than I was binding off the stitches. But still I soldiered on. I do have a Plan B. I was wearing my favorite grey sweater. It's made from a worsted weight grey single yarn, slightly rougher hand than the Tapestry, but still, I think it'll work. I have to dig the extra from the stash and splice a couple yards on and see what I think.

    Plan C is to go back to the yarn store and buy one more ball, frog back the bind off, make the whole thing wider, and have enough left over for a little fringe.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Happy New Year

    Sometimes you just need something simple. I've been trying little ideas out with this Rowan Tapestry here and there since I bought it. I consider it an extravagance at $9 per 50 gm ball. I only bought two balls, figuring that was enough for a trial run of something, but not knowing what that might be. Two balls would be plenty for a hat. But, of course, I had a scarf call to me for this yarn.

    I decided to simply do a garter stitch the long way. How much more basic does it get? What I was thinking about, but wasn't in the mood for the doing, was the So-Called Scarf stitch pattern, the long way. I still think that would make a pretty cool effect. Or some multi-directional effect. There's a lost scarf hanging on a tree along my current walking route that is a multi-directional garter stitch scarf in a solid cadet blue yarn. I keep thinking I should stop and look at the technique, because it might be really interesting in a subtly changing yarn like this.

    Anyway, I ran out about 16 feet for a long tail cast on and used the tail to form the stitches. I didn't count the stitches. I used a #10.5 needle for the cast on, because I've learned I need to or I get a tight cast on. Then switched to a #7 needle for the work. The first ball went about 2.3 inches. So, unless I go looking for a third (and find it) this scarf will be on the skimpy side. Let that be a lesson to you: plan on 150 gms or more for a scarf. I guess I'll decide how I feel about the width when I get it off the needle and really see the length.

    We are finally having some sunshine here. Still above freezing temps. But with a brisk wind blowing and overnight lows in the 20s, it feels a little more like winter. I've got chicken and barley soup slowly cooking for dinner. This is one we all seem to agree on. Barley is a great secret ingredient for improving homemade soups. It took me a number of years to really understand how to make good soup, but I think I've got it now.

    As for Resolutions, I don't make them. I never have. It strikes me as so contrived. And doomed to failure.

    Every day I pray for another day sober and for help treating every human I meet with love and kindness. And I say thanks for all the sober days so far. And I figure the rest of it takes care of itself. These prayers do not come easily to me. I'm not really a love-and-kindness kind of person. A former employee once told me I was "rude, cruel, power-hungry, and abusive."* So, it's all about progress for me. The peole I most admire are the people who have the courage to be open, to let down their guard with humanity at large, and risk kindness. Sarcasm and anger are easy. Love and kindness are a daily struggle for me.

    Happy 2007

    *I was sober about 8 years at that time, so it wasn't just alcohol that made me like that.

    Post script
    Having said all that, I look in at Penny Karma's blog and see this resolution maker. I click the link and get this:

    In the year 2007 I resolve to:
    Learn how to shear sheep.

    Get your resolution here.

    How could I resist?