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
- about.com knitting forum
- Knitters Review knitting forum
- Talking Points Memo
- cursor.org

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.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Initial Evaluation

OK, the Progressive Shawl is on pins and wires, and I have a chance to do a first evaluation. (The second will come after it's dry.)

First off, this baby is really big, too big for the bed. Wish I had those foam insulation boards that I couldn't fit into the car. One corner is pinned to the side of the mattress. Don't know what sort of weirdness, if any, this will produce. But big is OK .

There is only one glaring (to me) knitting error where the edging was knit on. You can't really see it in this picture. I could do a close up, but naaah.

As I suspected, the pick up ratio for the border could be improved. Just off the needles the garter center bulged noticeably in relation to the stockinette inner border. I've tried to compensate in blocking. It looks OK now, but I have the border stretched pretty hard, and I "hae me dooots" about how it will behave when the pins come out.

(Note to self: What if I had picked up at the same ratio, worked the first rows in plain garter with a few judicious increases before beginning inner border pattern?)

The texture contrast between the stockinette and the garter based portions of the border is less striking than I had hoped. On the other hand, the garter based pattern opened up very nicely.

Those double yarn overs in the edging really
opened up

The narrow edging along the top is either a series of really little points or a biggish picot, depending how you look at it. If I were doing it over I still might opt for a single repeat of faggoting with a smooth edge.

Hope this is dry before bedtime. If the sun is out tomorrow I'll get DH to take a shot of me in the classic "triangle shawl shot from the back with arms extended" pose.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Found Objects

As I was digging through one of the places I hide (er, keep) yarn, looking for a particular color for a mending job, I found these...

Well, will you look at that! three cute little wool hats I had completely forgotten. Nice warm wool: the top two are made of Bartlettyarns left over from a sweater project I did years back. (Though I wore the sweater only two days ago, which just goes to prove that a good wool sweater in a not- too- trendy style can last you most of your life. Which further goes to prove that good wool yarn is actually an investment and worth acquiring and keeping-er-hiding. The bottom hat is made with some odds and ends of natural brown alternating with vivid Kool Aid dying experiment.

Now why on earth would I make these and them put them away and forget them? Oh........

Well I have the tapestry needle out now, and with luck I'll have them finished by the end of the day.

(Edited to add: It's amazing how much less boring it is to weave in ends if you combine it with cruising other people's blogs. A cute dog, a cute baby and some beautiful handspinning shots later, and I have two of the three hats done. I was distracted a bit toward "yarn as an investment" by CatBookMom She's enableing again.)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Where I hang out

One place is my bed. No, no, I'm full dressed. It's just where I do a lot of my knitting. There's room to spread out, and room for a cat or two. I got all excited when Crazy Aunt Purl asked people to send photo's of their favorite knitting spots, and sent a picture. The collection she got is great. I spent an hour pouring over pictures of houses, yards, views from windows, pets and, oh yeah, some knitting, too. I'm going back for more...

Another place I hang out is "the store", formally known as the River Valley Trading Co. It opened up about a year ago as a "retail business incubator". It's sort of a combination gallery, gift store, used book store, organic grocery, with yarn and rovings for the spinners, and the coffee is always on and there is almost always another knitter/fiber producer around, and at least once a month there is live entertainment. It sounds like a jumble, but it is really quite lovely.

I sell some of my FO's there on consignment at ridiculously low prices. (This is not a "high end" market area, it gets said objects out of the house, and at least the stash is semi-self supporting)
You may recognize the Razor Shell Scarf.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Madison Day

I hadn't been up to see Mom for awhile, so yesterday I drove up to the city.

On my way in, I took care of some errands. At Home Depot I checked on foam core board (for blocking shawl). It looked perfect, but I realized it was too big to fit in the car - will have to go back with the truck. Staples is right next door, so I picked up some paper for the printer and a receipt book (just in case I decide to give the Argyle craft fair a shot). Goodwill is next to that, so I took a fast cruise through, but didn't find anything that grabbed me.

I still had 50 minutes until it was time to meet Mom, so I stopped off at the Wisconsin Craft Mart. I like to keep tabs on what they have in knitting yarn. It's mostly basic acrylics and novelty yarns, but they do carry Kroy sock yarn, which is uncommon, and Paton's Classic Wool. On impulse I bought a funny little tool called a Straw Weaver, which I doubt I will ever use, but what the heck it was only $3.00. I was half looking for a hairpin lace tool, but surprisingly they didn't have one of those.

Went next door to Hancock Fabrics. They did have the hairpin lace thingy, but it was $13.00 and I decided I wasn't that curious. Found a shawl pin for $2.00 and picked that up. Then headed on to Mom's apartment.

After lunch we went for a walk, then Mom wanted to talk finances and final arrangements. Bless her, she wants everything to be in order and well understood before any final illness/sudden death. So we went over her Health Care Power of Attorney, changes she is making to her living trust, what she wants at her funeral, insurance policies. Of course, it wasn't the first time we had gone over all of these, and it won't be the last. It is exactly the sort of thing she should be doing, and it is also extremely stressful for me.

Part of the stress is her determination that it is important to leave some kind of inheritance to my brother and sister and me, coupled with her underlying conviction that doing so is more than likely to cause dissention among us. I don't know if this conviction is based on her observation of our characters or on one of the many articles she clips and saves. She is a great reader and a great worrier, on a wide variety of topics.

Came home and helped a friend move a dresser, then vegged out in front of the TV.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Home Stretch

I've finished the outside edging on the Progressive Shawl, and now I'm working my way across the top.

This is going pretty quickly because it's a very narrow edge. I just wanted a little something to visually tie the different sections of the shawl together.

I'm not quite sure about where to block it. I have to block in a room that can be closed off, on account of the cats. Both of them like to sit on wet wool, but an even more serious concern is Baxter's obsession with pulling out pins. I have no idea why, but he takes them between his teeth and pulls them out. Pearl headed, T pins, it doesn't matter, he pulls them out. And while I haven't yet seen him try to eat one, this doesn't seem like a particularly safe form of amusement.

So blocking is best done behind closed doors. The sunroom is good for smaller objects because it's carpeted, all I have to do is lay a clean sheet on the floor. But the available floor space there isn't big enough. The bed is big enough, and would be my first choice if the project were lace weight. But I'm not sure this fingering/sport weight yarn will dry in the course of a day, which could make sleeping inconvenient. Maybe if I set up fans... The floor in what I still think of as Abbie's room, even though she has her own apartment now, would be ideal except that it's hardwood. Maybe it's time for me to get ahold of some foam core boards that I could use in there. I'm headed to Madison tomorrow. I just might add a stop at Home Depot to my list.