Monday, February 26, 2007

Shield your eyes

Wanna see something really awful?

Take a look at this ugly little swatch.

Fugly isn't it? Please. Allow me to explain.

I had this crazy idea that I'd like make a fair isle ski hat, but I couldn't find any patterns that I really liked. Well, not without buying a whole book. I've already made We Call Them Pirates, and wanted something a little less in your face, but using a fine gauge yarn. Long story short, I bought this pattern (which, as you can see calls for worsted weight yarn) and some rowanspun dk with the idea that I would make the Yankee Knitter sheep hat (lower left) and just add some extra repeats . Ha Ha ha!I knit a gauge swatch on size 3 needles and got 6 sts to the inch. I figured that I'd like a finished size of 21 inches for my 21.5 inch head, so that meant 126 stitches. The sheep graph has a 16 stitch repeat. The little border above and below the sheep has a 4 stitch repeat. The pattern is written to be knit flat and then seamed. Stay with me here. This is where the brain pain starts. In order to knit the hat in the round and have an equal distance between each little sheep, I had to make an 18 stitch repeat. Easily done: add some stitches here and there. The little borders would only work evenly with a 6 stitch repeat, so I changed the pattern to little hearts. This all took place between 11:30 pm and 2:00 am on Saturday/Sunday. What can I say? I was a little obsessed. Yesterday, I woke up and decided to knit up a swatch of my new graph to see how it would come out, which brings me to the ugly swatch. Here's a glimpse, just in case you forgot how bad it looks. I only wanted to see if they would still look like sheep after all that tweaking. Of course they look like sheep. Two different wonky sheep, but sheep. The one on the right is a bit scrunched and its head is bashed in. Actually, it's missing a bit of ear and has lost a row of stitches in the bum - a victim of negligent knitting. Trust me, the real thing will look much better.

After all that, I finally blocked CPH, joined the shoulder seams, and have so far finished 8 inches of the hood - 3 more to go! I think I'm going to kitchener stitch it together instead of sewing the seam. I did make a teeny error, and continued the cable pattern on the center back for 4 rows before I realized that I was supposed to stop when I picked up the hood stitches. Ooops! No one will know. By the time I finish and post photos, you will have forgotten (quick! look into my eyes @@ you will forget I ever told you about the mistake @@@@@)

And now for something completely different.

Many of the photographs in Interweave Knits are taken in Portland, Maine. My friend Lori and I like to play a little guessing game and try to figure out the settings. Well wouldn't you know that Mr. Strange's shop is in the background of the Swan Lake Cardigan photo in the new issue!! See page 58 in the magazine, or this photo from the website.
Cool huh? Now, if we could only get them to do a shoot inside his shop, and let me be there too... with a few know, just hanging around knitting in the background...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beady little eyes

I am a sucker for packaging. If someone put rocks in a nice bag with a cute label and some ribbon, I would probably buy it. When I give someone a gift, I will spend twice as much time (and sometimes money) packaging it as I will on the gift itself. This is something you should know about me.

Last summer, I was asked to teach a bead class for my quilting group in January. This group, which meets twice a month, has on average 60 active members. At the time, January seemed years away and I said, "Sure!!". I decided on an eyeglass leash, provided a materials list and promptly forgot about it until the person who was scheduled to teach in February asked to swap dates with me. I realized then that I should start giving this class business some attention, but at least I bought myself another month to think about it (the other thing you need to know is that I am a hopeless procrastinator). At this time, my friend Jill mentioned that she would like to take the class, but didn't want to go out and buy all the materials. The seed was planted "I'll make kits!" I thought.

Fast forward 3 weeks: This past Monday, I realized that my class was on Friday (today) and that I still hadn't done any preparation. I went to the bead store and spent $20 on beads...

Tuesday evening: Pilates and knitting. Plenty of time to think about beads...

Wednesday evening: After my evening dental appointment (2 cavities in my wisdom teeth, dammit. Yes, I still have my wisdom teeth. No, I don't want them removed) I finally arrived home at 8:30 and started making bead soup. At 12:00, Mr. Strange reminded me that I had to get up and go to work the next day. Ate cheese popcorn for supper (so much for the clean teeth) and went to bed at 12:30 thinking "need more pink beads, need to buy glasses parts, how will I package them?...."

Thursday evening: After Pilates class, I headed out for more supplies. One of our local craft stores, Craft Mania, is going out of business: 50% off everything in the store. They sell yarn. Nice yarn. Can I live without Debbie Bliss Pure Silk or Pure Cashmere? At 50% off? I haven't decided yet, but I couldn't live without this pattern...
Beads. Must focus on beads... (Note to self: go back to store on Saturday to buy yarn).

A visit to AC Moore and $50 later, I headed home and made 20 kits for the class. I could have just thrown everything in one big Ziploc bag. But No! I had to package everything "just so".
Seed beads in one bag, focus beads in another larger bag and crimps, eyeglass loops and tiger tail in an even larger bag. All nicely layered on white glossy card stock and stapled together. They were so pretty! If I'd had the time {ahem} I would have made labels with the name of each color scheme and maybe used clear Chinese take-out boxes....Oh well. Ate cheese popcorn for supper and went to bed at 12:30 again.

I wish I had taken a photo of all the kits. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. I sold all but 2 of the 20 kits I brought (at $5 each - you can do the math, no profit) and everyone had a great time. This is one of the unsold kits that I would have called "Coral Reef".
This is the leash made by my friend Jill (in color "Sea Breeze")...

She had to leave early to go to a sporting event, so I finished it for her.

This is the sample I made for the class ("Beach Glass"). Those are my "Peepers" which I have to wear when I get a splinter because I can't see up close anymore. This makes me sad. My eye doctor told me a year ago that I needed "Progressive" lenses and I refused. I am just not ready. I don't care if you call them "Progressive", they are still "bifocals" and I am only 39. So there! Of course the Peepers only work if I wear them over my regular glasses. Yeah, it looks dumb, but I don't get many splinters (I guess you could add stubborn to that list of things about me).

I could really get into this packaging thing!

If you are interested in making a leash of your own, check out these instructions at BeadieFriends. We used 2 crimps on either side of a focus bead for a stronger join. For excellent instructions on crimping, check out these instructions at

So now it's 12:26 and I ate cheese popcorn for supper.

At the end of March (many weeks from now) I am teaching another class to make these bags at my quilt group's annual Getaway weekend. I'm thinking that I should bring some kits....

Until then, I plan to sleep in, knit, and eat some real food.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Oh happy joy joy! I'm back! I will spare you all the drama and will only say "Good Bye Internet Explorer, Hello Firefox!!!". No more crashing!

Enough of that. I need to catch up!

This past weekend I went to the annual Spa, Knit and Spin at the Doubletree Hotel here in Portland with some friends, where we engaged in some SERIOUS yarn fondling, but not much buying.

Here's Lori with a serious case of yarn lust:and Porsche (yes, that's her real name) demonstrating her method of deciding if a yarn is soft enough to buy with some Alchemy Silk Purse. Unfortunately, the cost factor sometimes exceeds the desirability factor.

Aimee, on the other hand, inhales...

I practiced tremendous self-restraint and only walked away with a two little skeins of sock yarn, On Line Supersocke 100 Tropic Color #931:

and this sweet little number from Spunky Eclectic: Skinny Socks Hand painted merino in color way "Dinah". I love supporting local vendors, and this gal, Amy King, sure was spunky! Her stall drew such a big crowd that we waited in a line 3 deep just to get a chance to ogle here wares. It was well worth it! It almost made me want to knit giant lace shawls just to have a reason to buy more.

After exhausting ourselves at Spa, we gathered at Yosaku for the best Japanese food I've ever had and hauled out our show and tell over Sake.

Aimee showed off her "Dave Sock" (for her husband) and explained how she modified the toe to accommodate his foot:
Lori showed off her Debbie Bliss cardigan in Malabrigo - we won't talk about the little row counting error discovered the next day -it involved frogging and cutting ("ouch").

Porsche, an ambitious new knitter, has already started amassing a UFO collection:

I hauled out Bailey....
Oh yeah, you don't know about Bailey!!! Remember how I fell in love with the Natural Malabrigo back in December after charting this pattern with some scrap and then and couldn't find any? Yarnzilla came to my rescue! 4 skeins arrived last week and I've put everything else on hold to finish this scarf while it's still cold enough to wear! Unfortunately, I suffered my own little mishap:A miss-crossed cable. Pooh! I figured that I had 3 choices:

1. tink back to the mistake and fix it (48 rows)
2. knock back a stiff drink and fix it using Cara's method
3. fuggetabout it.

I chose option 3. Of course this meant that I had to intentionally make the mistake again to get things going back in the right direction. If it were a sweater, I would have chosen option #1 or 2, but given that this is a scarf and that it will be wrapped around my neck most of the time, I decided to live with it. 40 inches down, 20 to go. See, I've nearly forgotten about it already.

In the meantime, I've finished knitting the front, back and sleeves of CPH and only need to block them before seaming the shoulders and starting the front facings and hood. There's only one teeny tiny little problem: while working the sleeve decreases, I accidentally omitted a decrease row (actually 2 rows were omitted if you consider the purl row too) and instead of binding off 18 stitches at the top of the sleeve cap, I have 20. I did it on both sleeves (hey, if you do it twice it's no longer a mistake, it's a "modification"). The question is: will this make a difference when I attach the sleeves? I've considered working 2 extra rows before binding off, which will not only give me the correct number of stitches, but will also give me back the 2 lost rows. On the other hand, I've already snipped the working yarn and will probably need to re-join another skein. What do you think?

Geez I'm happy to be able to post again! Wahoo!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Here's Zippee wearing his Christmas sweater. It fits! See how he is walking on his front legs? I think he wants to be a circus dog! The doofus beside him is his "big brother" Casey, a 6 year old Boxer (I am not knitting him a sweater). They absolutely adore each other.

Such a pweddy widdle boy!!!
He is so easy to please. No complaints about the fit, color, pattern or fiber! Per my mum's request, I knit the underside to allow his "wee wee" to be free so he won't soil his sweater. Now how often does that issue come up in your knitting? Wait. I don't really want to know.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I've had one of those nervy cranky days where I feel like there's just too much going on (even though there isn't anything major) and I long for smoothness. Where I can look in the peripherals of my consciousness and see nothing waiting to poke me in the eye. Very Zen, I know. It might be due to lack of sleep. Last night I woke up at 3 am when Chloe decided to jump on the bed, which is HIGHLY unusual. She couldn't find a comfy spot and kept moving around and decided to jump down and go back downstairs. I heard her usual footsteps: kalunk kalunk kalunk and then KLUNK KLUNK KABLUNK - a very bad sound. I jumped out of bed and found her hobbling down the steps. She had somehow injured her foot or leg and was favoring it. Of course this meant that Mr. Strange had to get up too and we fretted over her for a good half hour before deciding that she was sore but OK. She is still favoring the foot/leg, but is going about her business with the exception of climbing on things. She hates going to the vet so much that we are waiting to see if it is something that will clear up on it's own. I can't feel anything swollen or irregular. It's always the stupid things that bite you in the ass.

All this venting is just to set the stage for the wonderful gift that arrived in a small package today:Oh my happy happy feet! Felted booties made just for me by my Secret Pal Abigail. They fit so perfectly! I love love love them! Did you get that? I LOVE them! They couldn't have arrived on a better day. So warm and toasty! Thank you Abigail!! Sorry this isn't the best photo in the world, but I had to take a picture before they became covered in cat hair!

If that weren't enough, I also received this book in the mail from Zooba:

Just $9.95 my friends! I'm sure they don't need any free advertising, but I can't help but share the love.
I've decided that I'm done with my love affair with yellow, at least for now. I spent Saturday morning finishing my first Small Capitals sock. I thought that I would be Miss Clever Clever and bind off in kitchener rib. Kitchener Bitchener! Looks great, don't you think? Looks can be deceiving.

It wouldn't fit over my foot! I cursed my knitting book for calling this bind-off method "stretchable". That is until I ripped it out and bound off in regular rib. Same problem.

Do you think maybe it had something to do with the fact that I cheated on my gauge? That I cast on 48 stitches as though I were getting the 7.5 stitches to the inch called for instead of the 7 stitches I was actually getting because I didn't feel like working on 72 stitches? It's lace! I thought it would stretch! My bad. OK, back to the drawing board. Only one little problem. Something to do with split stitches. A tangled mess. &%#@!!
Determined to make this work without ripping out the entire sock, I increased 12 stitches around before starting the rib. Still a snug fit, but it works. For some reason I have no desire to make the second sock any time soon. I just need to find someone with one skinny foot who likes yellow!
I feel a blue phase coming on....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sunny Side (toes) Up!

My Fortune Cookie told me:
The sandcastle and the parsnip are sleepwalking towards your submarine.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

How appropriate! Sandcastle? Parsnip? Submarine? Yellow things! How did Miss Fortune know? The fortune cookie that came with my Hunan Pork tonight said "You are vigorous in words and in action". You be the judge:

Various forces have motivated me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something NEW! After months of reading my Secret Pal Abigail's blog, I decided that it was high time I learn how to knit a sock from the toe up. It was not easy. At first it was downright nasty. I started. I frogged. Numerous times. At last success:

I felt like I was knitting Sputnik with all those needles working on such a small piece.
Look at that finely wrought toe! Thanks to Charlene Schurch and my own stubborn perserverance. The lace pattern is called "Small Capitals" from Sensational Knitted Socks. A very appropriate pattern considering that I grew up in a small capital: Augusta. I chose the "Easy Toe" method as opposed to the "Round-Toe Cast On", because I prefer the way it looks. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and I'm using size 2 needles. I am so in love with the color, which is more like scrambled eggs than sunny side-up. Note, however, how dreadful it looks on my skin!!

It took a couple of tries before I knit the sole to the right length before starting the heel flap. Unlike some of the other directions in this book, I did not find those for this method as easy to follow. Instead of the provisional cast-on in the book, which involved crocheting over a knitting needle, I worked a crochet chain and picked up the stitches -much easier! The instuctions for the sole said to "knit to the desired length minus the heel measurement". A color-coded sample sock in the book showed this point to be at mid-arch. On my first try, I realized that the actual heel turn was beyond the sole of the heel and that I needed to knit to the ankle bone to end at the heel. I ended up measuring the length of the finished flap and subtracted that number from the sole length before trying again.I feel pretty good about the final result, but I think that the heel flap instructions, which said to slip the last stitch of each row with yarn in front, produced uneven edges. This won't be my preferred method of sock construction, but will be very useful when I'm not sure if I have enough yarn. Now that I've cut my teeth on toe up construction, I'm interested in trying the afterthought heel. One thing at a time.

Speaking of that...

All of this yellow sock knitting has caused me to neglect CPH. I did start my first sleeve and am about halfway to the armhole. This is my least favorite part. I know that I "could" knit both sleeves at the same time, but I'm not patient or coordinated enough to deal with 2 skeins of yarn at once. I am the boss of my own knitting!! Speaking of bossy knitting, have you ever knit a cabled sweater only to discover that you crossed a cable waaaay in the beginning. If so, you MUST check out januaryone! It will make you shake and quiver and gasp! That girl kicks yarn butt!

I know that I do not need any more yarn or knitting patterns, however, my LYS is trying to put me in debt. How can I resist 25% off retail for all yarn? Especially when presented with a cute little pattern book:

Even worse: there's a Book Two with pullover patterns that call for worsted weight....

If only I didn't have to sleep or work or pay bills....

BTW: I just found out that there are MORE Sensational Knitted Socks!!! Oh dear.