Thursday, December 28, 2006

Odds and Ends

I've added a new link in the sidebar to my free pattern for Not Really Cable Socks. This used to live at the knitting site, but disappeared from there when the old moderator left.

Mmario finished his test knit of the Progressive Shawl. Here's his pic of the finished results, pre blocking.

Ethereal, no? I will launch the pattern for sale (via this blog and maybe eBay) in January.

I found a new Jane Austen quote, and have added it the the comments in Literary Knit-erary.

Last item finished before Christmas. Wool Ease Thick and Quick, k1, p1 rib. Very fast knit. It's for the Red Scarf Project, of course.
And since yesterday was clip art sample day...

This One's for CatBookMom

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

We had a lovely Christmas, the best gift of all was having our daughter home. It was low key and relaxed. I spent the afternoon of Christmas Eve knitting (trying to rise above the "second sock syndrome" for the second half of the Tiger, Tiger). DH & DD watched "White Christmas", then napped and visited a friend respectively. In the evening we had soup and sandwiches. For a number of years, Oyster Stew was traditional with us, until we agreed that none of us are really all that fond of it. So now it's clam chowder for the old folks and vegetable for our non-carnivorous girl. After that, the tree lights on, a fire in the fireplace and time to open family gifts.

Christmas morning: Santa Claus still comes, though we sleep in later, and are more leisurely about unwrapping than we once were. Lounged about in PJs, watched "A Christmas Story", read, just enjoyed being in one another's company. Then to dinner in the afternoon at my brother-in-laws: a livlier scene, especially as nephew had recieved a drum set.....

But back to the presents. Lots of books: some poetry, a beautiful volume with plates of all of Vermeer's paintings (which I could, and already have, poured over for hours), a most fascinating "Bedside Book of Birds", a new Amy Tan novel, and

Victorian Lace Today ! I asked for this one specifically, have been waiting impatiently for the last six weeks without even trying to peek, and I am happy to say that it fully lives up to expectations. The pictures are gorgeous, and utterly inspirational. I love having the history section (only regret there isn't more of it). What I've read of the directions seem clear, and I'm going to enjoy going over them more closely to see what I can add to my repertoire of technique. Did I say extremely inspirational? I love it.

Inspirational in a different way, DD gave me Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen, and I love this one, too. As the author acknowledges, no one book could cover all the ways women and men are knitting for the greater good. But she lifts up over twenty projects - ranging from knitting for the troops, to development projects in the third world, to knitting for needs close to home - and tells the stories of how they came into being and grew. Some of these organizations were familiar to me, some I have already been involved with, some were completely new. All are inspiring. There is contact and project guideline information for each, and there are basic knitting patterns for several (simple, but nicely photographed). Interspersed with the text are quotations reflecting the author's understanding of peace as something larger, and more personal, than the absence of war, peace that starts from within. So I'll close with one that I take as a New Year's resolution and offer as a New Year's wish.

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. - Stephen Grellet, Quaker missionary

Friday, December 22, 2006

Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

It's funny how a passing phrase can bring back a flood of memory. Two words by the Knitting Curmudgeon reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in years, and gave me an aching nostalgia for the work of Walt Kelly, IMHO the best cartoonist of the twentieth century. Sigh! The words alone are like watching a great staging of The Magic Flute with the sound turned off, but for anyone who can visualize the antic mayhem of Pogo, Albert, Grundoon and the rest,
"Deck Us All With Boston Charlie..."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Than One Way to Skin a Stash

Ribbon? I don't need no stinkin' ribbon.
Sure, it only got rid of a few yards, but I have more packages to go.....

And then there's this

This has been sitting around for about a year. I bought it because I really, really wanted ONE OF EVERY COLOR! But then I didn't do anything with it (except for one ugly yellow and one nice red) partly because I didn't have a project, but mostly because if I did start using it I wouldn't have one of every color any more. (It's not like it's all that hard to re-order from Knit Picks, or anything).

But now I know I want to make something Latvian inspired. Maybe mittens, maybe socks. So it's time to start gauge swatching. So I will take two of the colors that call out to me the least (hell, I don't want to "waste" the ones I really like), get out the dpns (you don't think I would ever work stranded knitting flat?) and get going.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

There Once Was a Union Maid

That title will make sense in a little bit. Basically what we have here is a rundown of what I did on Monday...

1) Slept too late (I won't say how late) due to staying up too late (1:00 am) reading "Busman's Honeymoon." I've been re-reading all of the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries.

2) Worked on the Nordic-ish Hat. I was awed and inspired by the Latvian mittens made for the NATO meeting. But it's been a long time since I've done stranded color work, so I'm practicing and using up odds and ends on this...

I started at the top and worked my way down on dpns. Unfortunately, didn't have a circular the right size, so by the bottom I was on six needles that are really too short. PITA. That narrow garter border would flip right up if I cast off now, so I'll work a couple more inches in stockinette and turn it in for a facing.

3) Went to the Post Office and picked up the mail. I was excited to receive two things.

a color sample card for the WEBS 2/14 alpaca silk lace weight.

And my union card. I'm now a member of the United Steelworkers of America! Well, sort of. I'm an Associate Member.

It's the one that says Fight Back America. Shown here with some of the other most important cards in my wallet: my library card, my "yes, I'm a card carrying member" ACLU card, and my Sow's Ear customer loyalty card. "Oh you can't fool me, I'm sticking to the union..."

4) After all this excitement, headed out for my Monday evening shift at the library. I figure I'll want the ACLU card if the FBI ever shows up looking for patron information.

5) Home to a little more knitting and my nightly noodle-around-on-the-Internet time. I am awed to see that Wendy has raised more that $25,000 for the wonderful Heifer Project (and, yes, I have made my contribution.) Knitters are awesome! Equally awesome: the hundreds/thousands of hats, scarves, sweaters, afghans being produced and distributed to everywhere from local shelters to Mongolia. God bless us, every one.

6) Back into bed with Dorothy Sayers and another night of reading too late.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Winding way

Time to wind off another skein of the Tiger, Tiger yarn. (That's a good thing, means I'm making progress.) I have a swift, wouldn't live without it, but no ball winder. I rather like winding by hand. It gives me a chance to start getting acquainted with the yarn. It can be soothing, almost meditative. It can also be slow, especially with lace weight (lotta yardage per skein).

So I like to have a little music while I work. Today it's Mmario's CD By Her Command. The lyrical medieval/renaissance feel seems to suit the season and the task at hand. With days growing shorter, I especially like the "New Year's Toast", which you can hear for yourself. (It's toward the bottom of the linked page).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fa La La La La....

It's nearly time for the decorations to go up in the house. We will bring the tree in and trim it on Sunday, and I'll get all the Santas up on the mantel, and wind the faux pine garland round the stair railing. Some folks, of course, have had this all done since the day after Thanksgiving. Call me old fashioned, but I like to wait. (I also like to leave things up until Epiphany, but practical considerations like vacation schedules have led to compromise on that end.)

This will go up on the tree. If I run across a little silk holly leaf with berries before then, I'll put that in the middle.

So will this. (The pink thing is a teeny little garter st scarf. What you can't see is the seriously cute little skein of what looks like handpaint hiding behind the handle.) la la la!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Yesterday I put the Christmas knitting in the mail, so now it's back to

The first half of the stole is almost done, and I confess I am not satisfied with the arrangement of the patterns. The simpler bit in the middle is just too abrupt and clunky. I have a couple of ideas as to how I want to change it. Sigh! I could either think of this as a very large swatch and start over, or push on and finish the second side to match this one anyway. I'm going to push on, because this is, among other things, a stash reduction project, and I will not buy any of the WEBS alpaca silk lace weight that I am longing for until the stash actually is reduced.

I find myself goofing up on the Tiger Eye pattern more than I would have expected, and have been trying to figure out why. It's a fairly logical pattern, despite the changing stitch count in the first half. The quadruple yarn overs don't phase me. I think it's just logical enough that I get a bit too comfortable and go on semi-autopilot; my mind starts to wander; and then I trip up

"In the forests of the night", indeed!

Completely unrelated: I am standing a bit in awe of my daughter, who, I just found out, performed the Heimlich Maneuver on someone last Thursday, and presumably saved his life. I'm proud of you kiddo! (Always was, but this adds a new dimension.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

a clever looking unvention

In case you haven't run across this already, Fleegle has come up with a new way to work left leaning and centered double decreases without slipping stitches. I haven't tried this out yet, but she has a very good clear tutorial at Fleegle's Blog - No Fault Decreases

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Literary Knit -erary

Forget celebrities who knit. This one is for the bibliophiles. It's not a meme. It's not a contest. It's...(drumroll).... just a list. But it's a challenge, too.

There are three categories: 1) Characters who knit (not on TV, not in the movies, in books), 2) Authors who knit (people who are only known for writing knitting books do not count) and 3) Other: literature about knitted objects? bad knitting inspired puns on book titles? original limericks? (keep it clean, we already know what knitting rhymes with) Haiku and sonnets also accepted. Extra points if it also involves cats (OK dogs, too)

Here's how it works:

I start out with a small list (below)

You add your contributions via comments. Or if you are really shy, email me. The link is at the top of the sidebar. I'll periodically transcribe them to the list, without saying who sent them. (But you really get better bragging rights if you post in comments.)

If you want to see how the list is shaping up, but can't find this post because I have been blathering on in the meantime, click on the "jump to Literary Knit -erary" link, right under the email link.

That's it. Here's the beginning of the list. Don't make me fall flat on my face. Start adding. Don't make me beg.

CHARACTERS WHO KNIT: Madame Defarge (personal role model-except for her bad end), Jo March (also role model), Miss Marple, the shopkeeper/sheep in Through the Looking Glass.

AUTHORS WHO KNIT: Virgina Woolfe, Barbara Walker (yes she does too count because she has also written books that have absolutely nothing to do with knitting)

OTHER: Well darn, Anacleta already has a great collection of knitting related poetry and misc. But you might have something that isn't there, and there's still room for the bad puns, limericks and whatnot.

Fun with Clip Art - Easily Amused

I have always liked cutting out pictures and pasting them onto something else - I mean with real scissors and paste. I expect this started about in kindergarten. I love making valentines with paper doilies and stickers and ribbon. When copy machines came along (yes, I'm dating myself) things got even more fun. So you can bet I signed up right away when Dover Publications offered to send me little weekly samples of clip art for my computer. Woo Hoo! Junk mail I can get excited about.
But seriously, I am also grateful to Dover for keeping a few choice knitting books in print, and at very reasonable prices. These are classics.
  • First and foremost: Mary Thomas's Knitting Book . Sometimes I think that everything published since is just commentary. This is the book that taught me to understand the structure of the knit stitch, the why of a technique as well as the how. OK, some of her history has since been shown to be a little fanciful, and some of the decorative illustrations are, shall we say, culturally insensitive. This is still a great book, as is the follow up Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns. The title of the second might be a little misleading. It isn't a collection of project patterns. It's a presentation of stitch patterns, again showing how they work, and why.
  • Then there are Sheila McGregor's Traditional Fair Isle Knitting and Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. I fell in love with these books early in my knitting career. I was dismayed when they went out of print. I rejoiced when Dover re-issued them. Both books have good information on history, design and techniques. And tons of pattern charts.
  • And Marion Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting and Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting. And Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac.
NAYY, but I love Dover! Plus, did I mention all the clip art?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Caps for Newborns Still Needed

CatBookMom has an update on Save the Children's project (Caps to the Capitol) to supply hats to newborns in developing countries. They still need more by January.

I had mailed a couple off in September, but I whipped up two more today.

This is a quick project, and handy for using up bits from the "loose ends" bag.

So how about it Wisconsin knitters? (All others, too, of course.)

You can find a pdf file with complete program information, including pattern, at Save The Children.

Or, my pattern for this simple variation of the basic cap is here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

No, no knitting content today, either (or not enough to sneeze at, anyway). I have spent much of the last several days wrestling with computer stuff (you know how well I deal with that). But I have updated the Tiny Baxterknits Website (really nothing there that hasn't appeared here - so don't all rush over at once). And I have made the photos in the sidebar here into handy dandy links to pages where (with the push of a button!) anyone so inclined can instantly purchase pdf patterns for the pictured items. Of course, before I could accomplish this I had to: download a program for converting files to pdf (thank you Mmario for suggesting a good one), set up an account with Payloadz, actually use HTML for the picture links (possible only because of Jacquie's excellent instructions), fiddle with layouts (website still needs work) and uploading pictures (easy for you, you don't have to find the pics in my disorganized files)... Along the way stopped to struggle with the format of the Progressive Shawl pattern draft, which suddenly did something weird and unexpected, but I think I've got it licked.

And since I seem to be whining, the "Tiger,Tiger" yarn is behaving in an unexpected fashion. In an earlier post I said it seemed kind of thick for lace weight. That was true then. Now it seems like lace weight. Is it me, or is it the yarn? For a while I assumed it was me: a) I was imagining it, b) I was pulling tighter, or causing it to twist more or c)......? But when I added in the second ball, it was still thinner, right from the start. It isn't a huge difference, but I can discern it, and the question is how much will it show after blocking? (OK, so a little knitting content).

Needless to say, I cannot report that I have finished, or even made progress on, the fluffy eyelash triangle scarf and two hats that need to be mailed out in time to arrive by Christmas.

On the bright side, we did go to a lovely live production of "The Christmas Carol" in Madison yesterday, and we sat in the second row so I got a good view of the excellent costuming, and during intermission daydreamed about "wouldn't it be fun to knit for a theater company?"
(I was probably one of the very few in the audience paying particularly close attention to Bob Cratchit's muffler, and was that shawl on the second daughter hand knit or not?)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Rest Gently Dewey

I've been sort of cat heavy here lately, but I found the story about Dewey the Library Cat awfully touching. There's more about him and his years of service here.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I meant to do that

Grateful for the help

Recently found a new forum called Bloggers' Paradise, "for personal bloggers to share information and get the best out of their blogs." So far the moderator, Jacquie, has been immensely helpful, and it's a real godsend for a non-techie like me. So just thought I would share the link.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Burning Bright

At this point in the Tiger Tiger stole I'm going to transition back into the Tiger Eye pattern. But, it occurs to me that if I had made 2-3 more repeats wide, and if I had worked it in crochet cotton, I could now work a row a lace holes, bind off, and I would have a very pretty cafe curtain.
Maybe one less repeat of the Tiger Eye at the bottom, and a couple more repeats of the top pattern for proportions sake...

I'm just sayin......

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Biting the Beta Bullet

OK, I finally switched to Beta version of Blogger, and now I'm trying to make it do what I want it to do. So far, this has taken about half the day- no knitting this afternoon :(

The sidebar still needs some reorganizing... I want to get to actually assigning labels to posts...

Bear with me, I may come up with a post that is potentially interesting before the week is done.

Edited on Nov. 29 to add:

OK I've spent much of the morning messing around with organizing the side bar. Links to my free patterns/knitting recipes are now in their own section down toward the bottom. Ditto links to other online resources. Archives come last of all.

I can't figure why some links show in a colored font and some don't, but they should all work.

Oh cool, the archives can be expanded/collapsed by clicking on the little arrows.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tiger, Tiger

Generally speaking, these two don't settle down in the same room, much less within three feet of each other, but it's a rainy day and for now they are peaceable kingdom tigers.

The other tiger in the house is the in-progress shawl/stole.

I'm about halfway up the first side. I'll work a few more repeats of the little design at the top, then go back to the Tiger Eye pattern. But before I do, I'll have to wind off another skein of yarn. This still feels closer to what I think of as fingering than what I think of a lace weight. I suppose I should do a WPI check just for the record. I think I'm going to like this, but I think I would like it even better in a lighter yarn. (I also think just one panel would make a dandy scarf.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Since we will be having dinner here for about 12, I have spent much of the last two days in housework. Trying to cram 6 months remedial cleaning into 2 days has left me frazzled and somewhat grouchy. So I thought it would be a good time to sit down and list ten things that I am thankful for.

1) a warm house

2) enough food to eat

3) family near and far

4) friends: online and face to face

5) the companionship of small animals

6) the ability to see and to hear

7) the public library

8) the Bill of Rights

9) cardinals, for their song in the summer and their color in the winter

10) teachers of all sorts

That's the short list. It could go on, but I'd better get back to cleaning..... Special gratitude to DH and SIL, who will be doing the actual cooking for Thursday's feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Swatching Again

The rummage through the stash did turn up 1) The Bryspun circs I hadn't seen in a few months and 2) a Blackberry Ridge shawl kit I bought 3-4 years ago. The pattern with the kit is a nice Two Old Bags pattern to be worked as either a triangle or a square. The yarn is a two ply wool in natural cream. The skeins weren't individually labeled. I'm assuming it is the regular BR lace weight. It seems a little on the heavy side for lace, but it's not real tightly spun, so maybe it's just "lofty".

When I initially bought this, I thought it would be my first shawl, but obviously that's not how it turned out. I want to stress that the pattern is very nice. I'm just not interested in knitting it right now. I have the Kerry Blue for a square shawl in natural wool, and I have my own Progressive* for a triangle shawl in natural wool. So now I'm thinking rectangle.

The Tiger Eye pattern has appealed to me for a long time, so that's what I'm messing around with. Of course I could just line up a few repeats across and go, and it would probably be very pretty. But I want to do something with a little bit of variation/design progression.

After knitting and picking out, and knitting and picking out (and believe me it feels as if I've picked out more stitches than I ever knit), here's what I have so far...

I think I just about have my motifs worked out to where I like them, now it's a question of proportions/arrangement.

*and speaking of the Progressive, a wonderfully generous, knowledgable test knitter/tech editor (you know who you are) is working through the pattern now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bailing Twine and Plungers

I love it. A resourceful knitter indeed. Just go to Pickin' and Throwin': Finally, some knitting content! and click on the link that says "here".

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Performance report, odds and ends

Well, I wore the heel patched socks, and here's my evaluation so far: In general the concept worked. I think I'll sew down the sides, after all, as they gapped when worn. I don't know if the extra thickness would be a problem when worn with regular shoes; I only wear clogs. At first, the extra thickness under the heel was noticeable (though not unpleasant). As the day went on I stopped noticing it. I think it was a combination of just getting used to it and the garter stitch mashing down with being walked on. Overall, would I use this approach again? So far, yes I think I would.


Sunday afternoon was spent sorting through books, magazines, patterns and stash trying to reduce and organize.

Loose paper first: things I had printed off the internet got put into the 3-ring binders. Slow but not painful. (of course the binders themselves need to be better organized, but I'm leaving that for another day.)

Magazines next: I have stacks, and many of them have exactly one article or pattern I am really interested in. So I started copying the items of interest. To even get to this point I had to flip through the magazines to find what I wanted to copy. Then back to the binders to file the copies. As you can imagine this took some time.... In the end I actually eliminated only about ten issues. Still, that's a few inches on the bookshelf. OK, get real, that's a few inches of floor space because the shelves were full to start with.

Books: Give up any knitting books? You will have to pry them from my cold dead fingers, after driving a knitting needle through my heart. I'm a serious collector. OK, even the Met de-acquisitions. I found two I was willing to part with.

Stash: It was easiest to part with old swatches. These were either unsuccessful stitch combo experiments or made from yarns I hated. I used them as dust rags before I threw them away and thus discovered that a swatch of fun fur is very effective for dusting. This one was only about 1" x 5", so not worth saving, but what if I took some of that ugly Kelly green wool and some of the gigantic eyelash stash and made a bag/mitten thing and felted it? Effective dust mitt or total waste of time? I haven't decided yet.

Odd balls and leftovers... Aargh, every one of these might come in handy sometime. It might be just the thing I need for an accent, it might make a hat, or at the very least be used to tie up a package.... And I might live to be 105, but I don't think so. Just because I can think of a use for it doesn't mean I ever will use it. Two plastic grocery bags worth out the door (or at least in the thrift store box ready to go out the door).

Sock yarn - I'm sorry, can't give it up. Same for anything wool. Sigh, this is getting overwhelming...

At the end of the day I have to admit I didn't really get rid of that much. But I did get rid of some, and that's something, I guess.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thanks for the responses

to the sock heel fix. I still need to see if it will hold up to a trip through the washer and dryer (the socks are in the hamper now.) Got to say, I like kmkat's definition of elegant. Also the fun "Which American Accent?" link she has at her blog. (I came out as "Inland North", and yes I did grow up calling fizzy drinks "pop")

Friday, November 10, 2006

To Mend or Not to Mend, (updated)

socks, that is.

In the far off days when I actually got my socks from a store, they always wore out first at the toe. Now that I can control the length of the foot, this is no longer a problem. Instead they always seem to give out right under the heel. (Do I grind my heels when I walk? Or is it just that the knitting is looser where I work back and forth for the heel turn? I suspect the latter.) So what are the options?

a) Retire the socks. Notice I do not say "throw away". There were a few early pairs that did end up as dust rags. But when I have put the time and effort into a nice pair; and more importantly have become attached to them through frequent, close contact; and when 90% of the knitting is still perfectly good; I am not going to throw them away. If they are truly beyond repair, or have been repaired and worn ragged again, I retire them to the "old socks home", which at this point is a nice wooden box my father made me. What my heirs do with this collection when I die is their problem.

b) Cut them off at the ankle, add ribbing to the bottom and turn them into legwarmers. I've done it with a pair of knee socks, and it worked nicely (I'm wearing them at the moment, as a matter of fact.) These are not "fashion statement" legwarmers. They go under my jeans to ward off drafts. The pair in question is shorter, though, and not really a candidate for this treatment.

c) Unravel from the toe and reknit the foot. Or just cut them off at the ankle and reknit the foot, assuming I have more of the same yarn (which I don't) or something reasonably coordinating. This is a lot of work for results that might or might not look like "I meant to do that." Wouldn't I rather just knit a new pair altogether?

d) Darn. Believe me, I've tried. I end up with a misshapen mess. Same goes for Swiss Darning a/k/a duplicate stitch. For smaller holes than this one, maybe, but not here.

e) Carefully cut out the entire heel, pick up stitches and reknit the heel. Are you kidding?

f) Knit patches, which is what I actually intend to do. This will probably offend purists of all stripes. It will transform the socks from modestly elegant to everyday somewhat broken down workhorses. But what the heck, it works for me.

Two little patches. (Hey, that second sock is going to go soon - might as well do both while I'm at it.) I used garter stitch to avoid fighting curly edges when I sew them on. I left long yarn tails for sewing.

First I sewed the shaped lower edge of the patch to the bottom of the heel flap, then I sewed the live stitches off the needle to the foot. I could have bound then off and then sewn them down, but this would have made a thicker and less elastic seam.

At this point there is a little unsewn gap at each side (pencil for demonstration purposes only). I am going to leave it unsewn on the theory that a little more elasticity here will encourage the patch not to rip out.

Final result, not pretty, but I hope servicable. And in our throwaway world, there is something endearing about that. How long will it last? Good question. I hope for a while. At any rate, this pair will know I did what I could to delay the trip to the old socks home.

The Law of Entropy and the First Noble Truth alike remind us that nothing is permanent, but I like to try to keep things going when I can.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Went to vote around 11 this morning. Voting here in B-ville has always been a joy. You walk into the library, you know the poll workers names, exchange pleasantries and vote. There is almost never a line. It feels like democracy in action. And one of the things I always loved best was the fact that you get an honest to God paper ballot that you mark with a pencil and there is no question of who you have voted for and since I trust our local workers I believe there is no question of whether your vote will be counted. It is simple, straightforward and transparent.

I am happy to report that there was no electioneering near the polls, no "poll watchers" lurking around to try to challenge voters. There was one of those electronic machines, and, sadly, people had been using it. But I was offered the choice of a paper ballot and of course took it.

So now it's been a long day, just waiting. I went out and pulled weeds for awhile because it was a lovely day and I find pulling weeds and spreading mulch to be soothing to the soul. Given the recent direction of the country, and the closeness of the elections, my soul needs soothing. I don't know if I will stay up and watch returns, or cower in bed with the blanket over my head.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Garter Cuff Hat - The Rest of the Story

....and round, and round. I really would rather be throwing in some sort of pattern, but 1) most of the middle will be covered by the cuff and 2) this is for a boy who has reached the age where he probably would not wear anything that drew attention to itself, so forget the idea of bobbles, thank you very much. Finally the decreases (about which more below).

Finished, washed and drying.

Done. Plain, but serviceable.

Now about the decreases. I wanted a nicely rounded top: not pointy, not gathered. So I used a formula I first found in Knitting in the Nordic Tradition by Vibeke Lind (wonderful book).

She says to divide into 10 or 12 parts, but since I had 66 sts I divided into 11 parts of 6 sts each; and from there it went like this:
(k4, k2tog) 11 times
Knit 4 rounds plain.
(k3, k2tog) 11 times
Knit 3 rounds plain.
(k2, k2tog) 11 times.
Knit 2 rounds plain.
(k1, k2tog) 11 times.
Knit 1 round plain.
(k2tog) 11 times.
Since I still had 11 sts at this point I did and additional round of K1, k2tog 5 times, but I could have just gathered up the 11 sts.

This can work with anywhere from 8 to 12 sections. The fewer the sections, the more elongated the top will be.

And while I'm on the subject of hats, Jeri has a neat little measuring trick on her Dollar Hat post.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another Way of Winging It - The Garter Cuff Hat

I am going to make another hat. I have some nice handspun wool that has been sitting in the stash for about 8 years, and I need to make a Christmas present. The yarn is about a sport weight and I'm using size 5 needles.

First I guesstimated that 18 sts would give me about 4". (As it turns out, it's working up to about 4 1/2", but that's close enough).

I'm working plain old garter stitch, but I am slipping the first stich of every row knitwise and purling the last stitch of every row. One of those edges is going to show, so I want it to look smooth, and I will be picking up stitches along the other, which will be easier with a chain selvedge.

Now I will just keep knitting until the piece measures about 18". Why 18"? Because the ever so handy Standard Body Measurements/Sizing chart gives that as the head circumference for a child, and the intended victim for this one is, indeed, a child. I am not worrying about adding ease, because that garter is going to be stretchy. (On the other hand, this particular child has a largish head - maybe I'll go to 19", which is what the Yarn Harlot lists as average for a 5-10 year old.)

La, la, la; knit, knit, knit.

OK at, about 18 3/4" I stopped knitting and joined the two short ends together. I did this with an odd "grafting the live stitches to the cast on" move. I could have just bound off and sewn the ends together, but this would have made a thicker seam. I could have had an invisible graft if I had only thought to use a provisional cast on, but I didn't, and this is reasonably unobtrusive.

Using a short circular needle, I picked up one stitch from under each slipped edge stitch. I did this with the lumpier side of the seam towards the outside, because the garter cuff will be folded up when the hat is done.

Now I'm just going to knit round for a while.

La, la, la; round and round.

(edited to add: to learn how to work the top, jump to The Rest of the Story)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Winging It

Sometimes I just want to pick up my needles and start, without swatching, without calculating, without even a completely clear idea of what I might end up with. This approach has it's risks, of course, but I'm willing to take them on.

So I started a wool hat at the top and worked my way down. When I finished it was just a little too big, and just a little too loosely knit. So naturally I felted it.

Also naturally, it is now just a little too small for my big ol' head. The good thing about hats, though, is that you can almost always find a head to fit one.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lesse Le Bon Temps.....

I have just discovered the Recipe Archive for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and, damn, it makes me want to start cooking again, starting with Miss Sissy's Chicken.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I have been plugging away at transcribing the Progressive Shawl charts into line by line directions, but there are no pictures or conversation in that so instead I offer:

"Why what on earth are those little fuzzy things?"
"Oh, those are earwarmers I made to use up odds and ends of yarn."
"And how, exactly, did you proceed?"
"Well, it was simple. I held two strand of eyelash yarn together and made a crochet chain (about 45-50 sts). Then I moved the loop of yarn to a knitting needle (size 11 was handy). I knit into the front and back of that loop and turned. From there on, I knit into the front and back of the first stitch on each row until it was as wide as I wanted."
"And how wide was that?"
"Oh, eleven or twelve stitches, but it could have been wider."
"And then what?"
"Well I just kept knitting every row until it was long enough. Twenty inches from the point where I started the increases seems to be long enough for an adult with a largish head (me). For a child it would be shorter, of course."
"I suppose you started decreasing then."
"Certainly. I knit together the first two stitches of every row until there was only one, then transferred the that back to the crochet hook and chained a second tie to match the first."
"Well, that was easy enough."
"Yes, and it also provided one of several activties I have devised to put off transcribing lace instructions."

I'm very happy that the Argyle Fiber Mill is going to carry a couple of my patterns. This did mean that I needed to reblock the swatch for the "Dazed and Confused" Scarf (they would like it for display). I will also need to change the ink in the printer and print out the patterns, and type up an invoice, and make a list of things not to forget when I make the delivery. Also have to print a pattern for an eBay order and get it in the mail (hike to Post Office as the car is in the shop). Then there is email to catch up on. Lots of reasons for not moving on to the edging chart and directions.....

Placid and self contained

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tag I'm It (Four Me Me)

OK, lets say I'm a shy person who was raised not to talk to much about herself (can you say Norwegian?) I'll give this one a go, but I'm using small type.

Four jobs I've had:
- sailmaker's assistant
- preacher
- quality control clerk
- library assistant (that's only four out of about twelve, with no discernible common thread)

Four movies I can watch over and over
- White Christmas (I have no choice: it was written into the marriage contract)
- Babe (I cry every time)
- Casablanca
- Duck Soup

Four places I have lived
- White Bear Lake, Minnesota
- Minneapolis
- Cary, Illinois
- Berkely, California

Four Places I have been on vacation
- Seattle
- Disneyland
- Door County, WI
- New Orleans

Four of my favorite dishes
- Crazy Happy Noodles from Suko Thai
- Macaroni & Cheese
- anything with Cilantro
- almost anything someone else cooks

Four places I would rather be right now
- in a coffeeshop with my daughter
- on a roadtrip with my husband
- someplace where the sun is actually shining
- I dunno, I'm basically pretty happy where I am.

Oh, I forgot
Four websites I visit (almost) every day
- knitting forum
- Knitters Review knitting forum
- Talking Points Memo

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Someone recently asked what the back of the Lace Fichu looks like. Good question, here's a pic of the version Ellen knit.

Her color is nicer than it looks on my monitor, a nice plummy purple. It's in Zephyr (wool/silk), a slightly lighter weight yarn than the alpaca/silk blend in my version.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

weird yarn of the week

I can't help it. Sometimes I'm just compulsively drawn to the fiber equivalent of junk food (I did mention the eyelash stash, didn't I?). I used to be a fiber purist. I don't know what happened. All I can say is that eBay has something to do with it. Combine a late night, an auction ending in less than 2 minutes, maybe more caffeine than was strictly advisable, and you, too, can end up with something like this....

What caught me was those little loops at the end of each eyelash. They were so cute.....

Once it arrived, or course, the question was "What do I do with it?". I want those little loops to show. Knitting at a more or less regular gauge resulted in a fuzzy looking swatch, but nothing particularly interesting and the cute little loops got lost. So I tried really big needles......

The visual results aren't bad, sort of edgy lace. (It really does look better than the photo, which doesn't show the dimensionality of the thing) It has a nice drape, too. Could make a kind of artsy accessory scarf. Wear it to some gallery/club with an industrial techno decor. (Not that I am ever likely to be in that kind of place, because if it exists they wouldn't let me in the door.) Still, the older I get, the more willing I am to wear odd objects without worrying too much what other people think of them. I'm no Red Hat lady, but I heartily endorse the sentiments of the original poem

Ahem. I digress. Back to the odd yarn... Interesting appearance, nice drape, feel.....? Well, the best description I can come up with is that it feels like a very loose, very soft, plastic dish scrubber. "Ewww! Gross!" I know, I know, I can hear you now. It is gross by all generally accepted fiber lovers' standards. It is also weirdly compelling. Sort of the way Silly Putty is compelling, or one of those Koosh balls. I am repelled yet drawn to it.... Fried Cheese Curds, Little Debbie snacks, Cheetos: goodbye Obi Wan, Darth Vador is calling.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I think I could turn and live with animals, they're so placid and self contain'd,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

It was neither cold nor raining when I went to feed the flock this morning. So after bustin up a hay bale and throwing it over the fence, I just stood and watched them eat. It was better than meditation.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Temporary Shepherdess

While Chris is out of town for a few days, I'm feeding and watering her flock. There are six white sheep, who set up a great "baa-ing" as soon as they hear the car pull up....

a brown sheep and a llama...

and the goat.

The goat seems to have the most intelligent expression.

When I arrived in the morning yesterday, they all had frost on their backs, and I had to break up 1/2 inch of ice from their water trough, but today was milder. Even though they are pastured only about a quarter mile out of town it feels like real country; on a section of gravel road with open fields on one side that are backed by a wooded ridge, and trees on the other side for a short distance then marsh and beyond that the river. It feels peacefully miles and miles from anywhere.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ta Da!

Well, here's the Progressive Shawl in all its glory.....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We did have a hard frost, but that's snow on the car at 7 am. In Argyle, about 5 miles south of us, they had two inches. Today felt more like mid-November than mid-October. Cold and windy with a little sleet in the afternoon. There were the usual number of cars off the road. One was really bad, though. A young mother was killed. I heard about it when I went to L's house for our regular Thursday knitting evening. The young woman was a friend of her granddaughter; they had run cross-country on the same team in high school. Damn.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Here are four scarf patterns that would be perfect for "first lace" projects. The patterns are available individually, but with this collection you can get them for half of what it would cost buying one at a time. All patterns have both line by line directions and charts for the patterns stitches.

The "Madison Scarf" (lower right), worked in worsted weight yarn, is the easiest of all, with a very basic four row pattern repeat. It can be made long and straight, or shorter with a ribbed center section to fit under a coat.

The sample for "Simplicity" (top right) is done in fingering weight, though sport weight could also be used for a larger scarf. It's based on the Little Leaf Stripe pattern from Barbara Walker.

The "Dazed and Confused Zig Zag Lace Scarf" (lower left) first appeared in the 2008 Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar. The pattern has directions for both fingering weight yarn, as shown, and sport weight.

"Simple Lace Scarf" (top left) is made with fingering weight. The borders at each end are worked in an extremely simple Shetland pattern called Razor Shell. In the center, one repeat of Razor Shell continues along each edge with and eyelet diamond on stockinette filling the middle.

All four patterns are now contained in one pdf file for $5.50.

Note that you will need to have Adobe Reader installed to open the file after purchase.

A gray and rainy morning, you can't see it in the picture, but there is a steady drizzle in the back yard.

Gato, who is usually Miss "I want to go out now" decided it was a good morning to sleep in.

Baxter followed me out, but immediately began protesting that he wanted to go in.

The first seed catalog arrived today, Thompson and Morgan. I haven't ordered from them in years, but it keeps coming. Unlike a lot of other "junk" mail, this one is welcome. Great bedtime reading/browsing. It is, however, frustrating to look at their lovely varieties of Papaver somniferum only to be informed that these are not available to the U.S. Apparently, to the governmental powers that be, my growing some in the yard would be a threat eqivalent to an Afghan warlord.

Finished the Icelandic wool version of the Madison Scarf and put the listing up on eBay.

Future compost

It's a good day for a pot roast, so that's whats in the crock pot now.