Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thank you all for the good sock yarn suggestions in the comments to my last post. Anonymous, the Cherry Tree Hill is gorgeous! (and Little Knits had so many other temptations..., Yarn Forward, too...) So far I've just been doing "catch and release" shopping (to use Catbookmom's apt phrase), but have bookmarked for future reference. If anyone does have actual experience with the Knit Picks sock yarn I'd love to hear your opinion of how well it does (or doesn't) wear, because it occurred to me that I could order their Bare version and dye it myself. Kmkat wants to know, too, about how well it wears. Tracy, you are braver than I am (or have better eyesight) to knit socks in black [G].

Joan asked whether I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks has directions for converting a pattern from "four needle" to "two circs". I'm so glad you asked.

First because I'm happy to say that it does. They are concise, but I think should be understandable if you have already done socks on circs.

Secondly, because it gives me the chance to give proper credit. I am so pleased and delighted to have my patterns published and turned into a book, ("pleased and delighted" is an understatement - I was about turning somersaults). And when I say "turned into" I mean that the staff at Leisure Arts took some suggested tips, hints and options that accompanied the patterns I sent them, and then thought of even more good ideas to include (like how to convert a pattern for two circs), and decided it would be really great to have clear pictures of all the steps of knitting a sock from cast on to grafting, and wrote them all up and clarified things (and undoubtedly caught mistakes) and did a really cute layout and created this terrific little book. There's a whole staff listed at the end, who really should have their names on the cover instead of me. (Well, with me, I'm not all that self effacing.)

So with that off my chest, I really can say Whoo Hoo! Thank you to everyone who's sent good wishes and congratulations. I've got my name on a book that is going to be in actual stores! My mother is happy. My husband is proud. And I'm doing a little happy dance with somersaults.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I have a passion for tulips. Even in a good year, it is a dilemma whether to cut some and bring them into the house or leave them alone for full outdoor display. This year, with the lengthy late freeze followed by heavy rain, the "display" is sadly reduced. Should I let the poor stragglers be, or still bring some in? I decided to cut at least a few, because 1) between the weather and the knitting project, I'm not getting a lot of time outside and 2) part of what I love about tulips is the way they slowly and subtly transform in shape and color. When I have a vase of them in a spot I pass many times a day I can watch the transformation. So this morning I raided the yard, going mostly for stems that were already pushed down so low the flowers hardly showed from any distance.

Speaking of the knitting project, I have finished the first set (sweater/blanket/bonnet) and have started on the second.

Someday soon, I would like to use this stitch pattern on socks. In fingering/sock weight I could just fit four repeats around. And while I'm thinking of socks, does anyone know of a good source for solid colored sock yarn (the standard wool/nylon blend) in a wide range of colors, including brights?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, me thinks how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.
- Robert Herrick

If that last line doesn't help you see, really see, the drape and flow of silk as it moves, I don't know what will.

This is both National Poetry Month and National Library Week. What better time to go to the library and check out a book of poetry? Here are some suggestions for starters:

Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor

Alabanza, by Martin Espada

The Golden Treasury of Poetry, selected by Louis Untermeyer

Anything by the Elizabethans, including the Psalms in the King James version. Anything by Gary Snyder or William Blake or John Keats.

We live in a time when words and their power for truth are sadly debased, in the media, in advertising, in political "spin". Poets can show us what is really real about ourselves - about our world- in a turn of phrase, a flash of insight. This is important. What may be even more important: by exposing us to true words they can help innoculate us against the shabby, the dishonest, the slack untruths and half truths that fly around our ears and swarm in front of our eyes. Poets can wake us up.

So go to the library.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The Harmony stitch dictionary that I ordered from Amazon finally arrived, and I'm glad to have it. This was my one missing piece from the old series that is going out of print. It doesn't have a lot of patterns that I couldn't have found in either Barbara Walker or Mon Tricot, but it looks like there are a few. It does have the advantage over BW of colored pictures, which aren't so important to me for anything that relies on texture for it's effect, but is nice for the slip stitch color patterns.

I love stitch dictionaries. I use them for bedtime reading, for inspiration, to analyze the "how did they do that?" of a technique. My paperback BW Vol 2 has literally fallen in half. With one basic sweater pattern and one stitch dictionary, a girl (even a girl much younger than me) could knit for the rest of her life without ever repeating herself.

I found out what's going on with the Harmony series: the old ones are being discontinued because Interweave is reorganizing and reissuing them (scheduled for Fall '07). According to IW's web site, the volumes will be grouped by technique (knits & purls, lace and eyelets, aran) with some new stitches included, new samples, new organization - basically a complete rewrite. They don't mention where stitches that don't fall into those three categories will end up. Maybe another volume is in the works. I expect the new series will be excellent. I doubt that I will buy them, given my current holdings, but I will be eager to look through them when they appear in the bookstores.


One of the baby sets almost done. Just a couple more inches on the blanket, and a couple of tweaks to the written directions, and I'll be able to move on to the second set.

Friday, April 13, 2007

For, lo, the winter is over and past and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."

That may be overly optimistic, but today is feeling hopeful. After two weeks of freezing weather with strong winds, topped by a significant snowstorm, the sun is out and there is the promise that we will climb back up to fifty degrees. The Mourning Doves may not be exactly Turtle Doves, but close enough (and why "turtle" for birds?). Still have my fingers crossed that some of the tulips will have made it through well enough to bloom. The emerging Bleeding Heart looks really battered, but we'll see.

Debra, the lovely to work with design coordinator at Leisure Arts, passed this along: if anyone is going to be in the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas on the 28th of April, they are having a blow out (up to 80% off) warehouse sale on books, including titles from Sunset, Southern Living, Williams Sonoma cookbooks and Cooking Light as well as their own line of crafting books. And 90% off retail on scrapbooking supplies. There are more details at the website.

This month's blogalong topic is "three wishes". I've found that one oddly hard to respond to. Big wishes? small wishes? things I can do something about? sheer fantasy? Of course, there are the big wishes, like world peace, a cure for cancer, the reversal of global warming, respect and tolerance for all people...., but those are hardly personal to me (and just listing them makes me sound like a Miss America contestant). There are some wishes that are probably too personal for blogging (no, not "dirty little secrets", I'm just superstitious about saying some hopes out loud for fear of attracting the evil eye.) So mid-range wishes. OK, here goes...

1) Right now I wish I either had four hands or could knit in my sleep because I have a lot of knitting to finish in the next few week.

2) I wish the evening network news would ban all advertising for prescription medications. They wonder why they can't attract a younger demographic? The ads just scream, "this is programming for old people." Heck, I'm in the target demographic for those ads and they drive me crazy.

3) I wish our next door neighbor wouldn't send her dog over to our yard to poop. Sure, I could talk to her about it, but as my daughter pointed out, our cats are probably pooping in her yard, so maybe I don't want to open that particular can of worms.

So there you are, nothing earthshaking but sincere. Now back to that baby blanket.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Last night we watched the Masterpiece Theater version of The Wind in the Willows. I kept trying to really like it, but in the end was just disappointed and sad. It was if someone had said to a child, "This is a rose" and handed her a very well made plastic flower. The production was sprightly, well done in its way and completely without the subtlety and lyricism of the original. I don't know that it's entirely the producers fault. I'm not sure that the original is translatable to the screen. Possibly with animation of a painterly sort. I would like to see the folks who produced The Snowman give it a try.

On the other hand, I was quite delighted with the Knit Picks catalog that arrived this week. It focuses on lace, and the things I like about it are:

It has pictures of projects from several books, worked of course, in their own yarns. I like seeing the garments on a "real person" type model (meaning someone closer to my size than to a size 0).

It has a good tutorial on knitting lace from charts. I'm a confirmed chart user myself, and believe it offers real advantages to the lace knitter, but from discussions on some of the forums this seems to be a stumbling block for a number of new lace knitters. So it's good to see the basics nicely laid out, with a free charted pattern for a little lace purse for practice.

There is also a tutorial on dyeing a lace scarf in graduated color, something I have thought about doing myself (the dyeing, not writing up the tutorial), and an overview of different blocking methods, including a link to a page on their website with instructions for building a blocking frame. Not being handy with tools myself, I won't be attempting this one, but maybe Mr S......

(Personal disclaimer: I was also excited beyond measure to see I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks appear in the book section.)

Speaking of lace, I'm using Little Leaf Stripe in the first of the baby sets and I'm reminded again what a very good beginning lace pattern this is. It's quite pretty, very easy (only two pattern rows) and uses/demonstrates three basic decreases.

So an idea I will file away for future reference: scarf pattern with variations - just Little Leaf Stripe, LLS with wide border at each end, LLS with knit on narrow border all the way around.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What I will be doing

Two big boxes of yarn have arrived. I will be busy for the next month and a half writing patterns and knitting models for 3 baby sets (cardigans, bonnets & blankets). I've done one hat and started in on the first of the cardigans. These are due at the end of May, so I have enough time, but no time to waste. The first challenge was grading the little sweater to fit 3 sizes while maintaining the Little Leaf Stripe pattern. I think I have that licked, but I'm never really confident until I have actually knit the item.


We have had hard freezes the last two nights, and the poor tulip leaves, which were so flourishing, have been flattened. I still have hope that they may recover. I've learned after all these years that Spring in Wisconsin is never a steady progress, and also learned to accept what comes. If the tulips don't make it, there will be the peonies and early daylilies a little farther on. Still, I've got my fingers crossed.


In the meantime, Happy Easter.