Saturday, June 30, 2007

It's been a kind of harrowing evening. My daughter was on a flight to London to meet her Dad at the same time that the explosive cars were found in that city. Then I got home from Last Saturday Knitting (which was lovely) and heard about the car in Glasgow and the high security alert throughout the United Kingdom. They are both fine, of course, so far. And it can't be any more, or nearly as, harrowing for me as for all the people who are living with the threat up close every day. But it feels up close, because the two people who are the heart of my heart are there.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Missing My Guy

I'm naturally a quiet person. I like quiet in the house, lots of quiet, more quiet than I usually get. But after three weeks, I've had enough quiet at home. Oh, I can make it for another week OK, but I'll be mighty glad to see Mr S when he gets back.

I finished the Cotton Ease pullover and my final evaluation on the yarn is that I would use it again.

It's 50/50 cotton/acrylic, which makes it much lighter than 100% cotton in the same gauge (worsted/aran). This is a big plus to me. It was reasonably soft to work with (not cashmere soft, not merino soft, but reasonable for what it is), having a bit more give than straight cotton. I split the yarn on a couple of stitches (yes, I fixed them), but I would not call it a particularly "splitty" yarn. It has very nice stitch definition, and I would be interested to see how it looks cabled. The finished product took a trip through the washer (cold water) and dryer (low heat) and came out fine. Softened up a bit more in the process. I like the hand of the fabric. It feels as if it would be comfortable for me to wear.

I don't yet know whether it will sag or "grow" in wearing; and I don't know to what extent, if any, it will pill after repeated washings. If anyone else can speak to these (or any other) characteristics of this yarn, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Some Things That Grow in My Yard


Larkspur and Flanders Poppies


Wall climbing Pumpkin Vine

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Loopy Knit Bind Off

Kmkat's and Leslie's comments on the crochet bind off got me to thinking that sturcturally the crochet bind off is a lot like an expanded version of a picot bind off. So I got to messing around, and this is what I came up with.

I started off by knitting two together. One stitch is now on the right hand needle.

Then I put the point of my left needle into that stitch on the right, wrapped the yarn and

pulled the loop through (still one st on right needle)

I repeated those second and third steps (insert left needle, wrap yarn & pull through) several more times to build up a little chain.

Then I knit together the next two stitches on the left needle.

Which resulted in two sts on the right hand needle. I put the left needle into the stitch at the end of the chain, lifted this over the stitch just formed by the k2tog and dropped it off the needle.

Resulting in 1 st on the right needle. Build up another chain on this stitch, k2tog, pass the chain end st over the k2tog st and repeat across.

Finished product. The chains could be shorter or longer (all but the first and last here are 9 sts). Also, I exerimented a little more on the left side by binding off one stitch in normal fashion between loops - seems to give a slightly smoother undulation. Lots of potential variations to play around with here....

And oh boy do I want a camera that will focus at close range.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What widely varying weather we've been having this month. A couple nights ago we had the best kind of thunderstorm (nice and rumbley but no crashes too close), and the last days have been cool, gray and damp. I actually slept under two blankets last night, which was lovely. By Monday it's supposed to be sweltering again. Mr S's pumpkin vines have leaves about 16" across.

Penny's family is home, and they had a swell time at Disneyworld. Mr S. has finished his stay in the Cotswolds and is now in Scotland. I've been spending much time at work at the Library while Gretchen recuperates. So far, no crisis situations....

Not a bit of knitting content today, but I am working on pictures of a different sort of loopy bind off, and they should be up in a day or two.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Baxter's dreams of glory (click to embiggen)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to work a crochet chain bind off

Someone asked about the crochet chain bind off I used at the top edge of the Fichu pattern. As it turns out, it only took a simple written response before the light bulb clicked on for her, but I went looking for an online explanation with pictures, and wasn't able to come up with one. So I thought I'd do it myself. This is an edge finish that is often used on doily patterns, and can be useful at the edge of square or circular shawls worked from the center out, or triangle shawls worked from the top down. In Traditional Lace Shawls Martha Waterman calls it a "crocheted-off edge".

At the beginning of the row, put a crochet hook through the first two (or more) sts from right to left.

Wrap the working yarn around the crochet hook.

Pull the yarn through the stitches on the needle, forming one stitch on the crochet hook

Slide the two stitches off of the knitting needle

*Wrap the working yarn around the crochet hook. Pull it through the one stitch already on the hook. Repeat from * forming a crochet chain.

When the chain is as long as you like (or as long as the directions state)
Insert the crochet hook into the next group of stitches on the knitting needle (In this case I've done three.)

Wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it through the stitches on the needle and slide them off.
There are now two stitches on the hook (the last stitch of the chain and the loop just pulled through the sts from the knitting needle.)

Wrap the yarn around the needle and pull it through the two stitches on the hook.
At this point there will be one stitch on the crochet hook. Work another chain on this stitch When it is long enough, insert the hook into the next group of stitches on the knitting needle and repeat the process.

Finished Product. This isn't as elegant a shawl finish as a knit on edging but it has it's uses. It's flexible and the chain loops can be blocked out to points. A second or third tier of chain loops can be built one the first. Actually, I've seen German doilies where the effect is elegant....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gauge swatching and weaving in ends can both be boring as hell, but when you have been straining your tiny brain (OK my tiny brain) over fitting a 12 + 5 stitch repeat into three different chest measurements that bear some resemblance to the standard size chart without resorting to partial repeats ......... Well swatching and weaving are a soothing relief. Which is just as well, because I have some of each to do.

Actually, I sort of like the calculating, messing around with fitting in patterns. Or if "like" is too strong, I find it rewarding when things finally work out close to what my rough sketch looked like. It is good brain exercise.
In other news of the day,

This is Penny the dog next door. More precisely, my Brother-in-Law's family's dog. Penny, too, has been on her own this week while her family is off to Disneyworld. So twice a day I go over to the back yard and give a whistle for her. If she doesn't tear through the dog door right away, I go push the back door open and then stand well away from the house.

The reason for the outdoor meeting is that Penny is a Very Excitable Rat Terrier, and she is convinced that she has been Left Alone Forever, so when I do arrive she is completely: OhMyGawd,I'msogladtoSeeyou,happy,happy,happy,soHappyIcan'thelpmyself. And then she pees. So ......., we meet outside.
Then she runs around and around my feet, and bounces up and down for awhile.

You can't see her circling my ankles at warp speed because if I bent over far enough to get the picture, it would be paws and scrabbly toenails all over the camera. She just can't help herself.

Than we head back to the house for some kibbles and a little chopped up hot dog. Sometimes we go for a walk around the block after dinner. She's always glad to see me, but she's going to be in downright doggie heaven when the family gets home.
Oh my, out the window just now a little flicker of light. The first firefly of the season.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Uff Da, it's been hot

Yesterday was the first really, really hot with some humidity day of the summer. By late afternoon it must have been over 80 upstairs, where I usually work. (We have AC, but it's not real effective upstairs at least until after the sun goes down.) I blame heat addled brains for the fact that it took me three tries to get the pattern matched on the first side seam of the diamond brocade tunic. Today, with the temp still reasonable, the second seam went together like butter.

The heat did do wonders for the effectiveness of the solar powered clothes dryer.

I have always been of the opinion that there is no point in doing laundry until you are absolutely out of underwear. Mr S has a different take on the question, which is why he took over the laundry chore many years ago. But Mr S is in England, and I ran out of underwear. For the benefit of all concerned, however, the underwear has been omitted from the photo.
Cynical Gal Who Knits left a nice comment on Knit-Slip-Knit (the slip stitch tutorial). Merci Beaucoup! I'm almost embarrassed that I haven't put anything new there is so long, especially since there is still a lot I want to cover. (more texture, color, double knitting). I haven't abandoned the project, just put it on hold, probably til August.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The little stitch pattern at the top of this swatch is one of my favorites, a netting of purl diamonds on a stockinette stitch ground, almost as simple as you can get. Sometimes I like simple, especially after doing a stint of lace knitting.

I'm going to use it for the Cotton Ease project, which will be a basic pullover with no shaping (except for the armholes and neckline), sort of a tunic or bog shirt. It will have straight sleeves somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 length and a wide rounded neckline. I'll use a more heavily textured, but still simple, stitch at the hems and for a narrow collar, just to add some interest.

Mr S is off to Europe. I drove him up to Madison Sunday afternoon, where he caught the bus to O'Hare. Yesterday morning I was delighted, and very surprised, to get a phone call saying he made it to Heathrow. (Usually we just email when he is gone.) I always worry until he is on the ground, then relax and assume he will be just fine.

This time he is doing something different, going to the Netherlands for a few days before heading back to his dearly loved England. I will miss him a lot for a day or two, then settle in and enjoy having a quiet house for about a week, then start missing him with growing intensity for the rest of his absence. I like quiet, but there can be too much of a good thing. I'll be working extra hours at the Library for a couple of weeks while the librarian is out for a medical procedure, so I won't be rattling around the empty house for long stretches anyway.

My friend Carol sent me a card listing some of life's important lessons. #1: "No matter how hard you try, you just can't baptise cats." Too true.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Now how did that happen?

Baxter came in with a green streak on his nose. It was even brighter, but he washed his face before he conked out. Grass stain? How and why? Who knows.....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Graffiti Knitting

This is one of the things I've never done, and probably never will. And yet, despite all of the valid reasons for not doing it, I find the idea appealing in a cheerfully anarchic way. I like the idea of unexpected color/texture surprising people, and maybe causing them to look at what's been in front of them all the time in a new way. I like the element of playfulness and fun. All the examples I've found have been in urban settings. What I'd like to do out here in the country is hang knitted pieces on barbed wire fences along the road - sort of Burma Shave meets Christo. Quilts on clotheslines look great, why not knitting on fences? Of course, I'm not really going to do this. Not really. But I'd like to.

I did do a little graffiti filing once, long ago, in a boring job where I was stuck in a file room surrounded by shelves of massive (I mean 3 inch thick) engineering files. It was one of those jobs where you were supposed to look busy/businesslike even when there was absolutely nothing to do. So I occupied my vacant time by writing out bits of poetry from memory and slipping them into the files. No one ever mentioned coming across them, but I was only there a year.

Friday, June 08, 2007

"What is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days..."

Yesterday was oppressive. Hot, humid heavy air. Serious tornado warnings in the late afternoon (we didn't head for the basement, but we were ready to). Then some rain and more sticky heat.

This morning the front had passed. I woke up to a crisp, almost chilly breeze coming in the window. The sun is out, the air is clear as can be, temp around 70 with a light breeze, in short as perfect a day as a person can hope to enjoy.

I hopped in the car to deliver some patterns down to the Argyle Fiber Mill.

Stopped at a hilltop cemetery on the way to get the panoramic view

I really would have liked to keep going all the way to Iowa, the drive was that pretty. But... gas prices, global warming and the fact that I have things yet to do this afternoon.....

Here's the front of the Fiber Mill. The real entrance is around the side. That is to say, this is the real front entrance, but if Liz and Kristi are running the machines they leave a note, and you go to the side door and in through the work area (which I think is more fun, because you get to see things in action.)

Part of my "things to do" involves this

I haven't worked with Cotton Ease before. After swatching I've decided that I like it. It isn't as heavy as 100% cotton worsted, and is a little more elastic. Just looking at it in the ball, I thought it might be splitty, but so far (about 5" into a sleeve) that isn't proving to be a problem at all. And it's reasonably soft.

When knitting strictly for myself, I've always been a wool gal. But now that I have more wool sweaters than I reasonably need, cotton/cotton blends are starting to appeal.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

While I'm on the Nordic Theme (I was going to say

on the Nordic Track, but that's something else altogether, and I've never been on one.)

Oh yeah, Nordic Theme. For my birthday, my lovely daughter gave me this

It's Rosemaling, and I love it. It's a little plaque about 6" across. I've been walking around the house holding it up to the walls, and I think I've found the right spot. Now I just need to get out the hammer and a nail.


When I posted the Squiddle Mitt pattern, I forgot to mention that it's set up for the left hand. When working the right, you have to reverse the whole thing. It is really not that difficult to read a color chart backwards, but to make things easier, here's the right hand chart. I didn't do the thumb again, because that's the same either way.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

squiddle mitt

In other words, I've been messing around with graphs for a little mitten with a squirrel. This is the front.

The squirrel motif came from Nomis Scandinavian Sweaters by Kajsa Lindqvist and Natalie Hebert (Nomis Vol 1), 1946. I added the bits that are supposed to look like leafy branches.

Knit at a gauge of 6 sts per inch, this should fit a 3 to 5 year old. I've posted the complete chart here. At this point, it's only the chart, but if you have ever knit this style mitten that will be sufficient. White square = Main Color, Black square = Contrast Color. Any squares that are pale green or grey = no stitch. M = make one increase. / and \ = decreases. The horizontal red line indicated the thumb opening. Work a cuff in 2 x 2 rib (or cuff of your choice) before you start the color chart. Other than that, so far, you're on your own.

I will get around to writing full directions at some point. It may be a while before I actually knit these. If anyone else wants to do it and send me a pic I would be delighted.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Even If Think You Don't Like Sauerkraut

You might like this. It's tangy sweet, kind of crispy crunchy, and you know that if I make it it's got to be easy.

Sauerkraut Salad

Drain a can of sauerkraut (No. 2 1/2), saving the juice.

Chop up:

1 c. green pepper

1 c. celery

1/2 c. onion (I like regular, not the supersweet, but whatever)

Drain one of those little teeny jars of pimentos (this time throw away the juice).

Put the kraut and other veggies in a bowl and toss them around a bit.

In a non-aluminum pan, mix the sauerkraut juice with 1/2 c. vinegar and 1 c. sugar and bring it to a boil. Pour this over the veggies and toss some more. Let it chill in the fridge at least a couple of hours (overnight is even better).

This came from a church cookbook (Sutter Creek UMC), so you know it just about has to be good.


And speaking of Selbuvotter (as I was a few posts back) a/k/a Norwegian Mittens, Hege has posted charts for some tradition patterns. If you haven't yet tackled stranded color knitting yet, fairisleknitting has a good tutorial, with lots of links to further resources.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Worthy Cause

My brother Rick rides bicycles, and builds bicycles, and for the last four years has been helping to organize the "Tour de Farms" ride to raise funds for MS research. I'm really proud of him for his active participation (and two days of riding in the Midwestern summer heat/rainstorms is pretty active-not to mention the organizing work) So if anyone is moved to make a donation, here's the link to his page.

And here's the deal: if you make a contribution (doesn't matter how much, and I don't need to know the amount), email me through the link at the top of my sidebar and let me know, and I'll email you back a pdf of whichever of my patterns you would like. Just let me know which pattern and where to send it. Offer good until June 20.

Rick will want to kill me if he sees that I've posted this picture, but just so you know what kind of a sweet guy you'll be supporting.....