Monday, March 31, 2008

Almost April Showers

It's a grey, grey day, with intermittent showers, so I won't be spending much time outside. But I did make a quick dash out to check on new arrivals.

And sure enough, there were welcome surprises.

Puddles are forming between the remaining bits of snow. It's a cosy day to be indoors, and since I have a few hours before heading out to work, I'm going to concentrate on completing the second sock gusset. Here's the first.

That heel flap is a little bit on the long side, but I have fairly high insteps so I think it will fit alright in the end.


Note to Ms Bees: I forgot to bring the mittens on Saturday, so you didn't miss them, though we missed you. I'll try to remember next month.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well that took longer than expected

I sat down this morning to finally write up and format (and set up on Payloadz and get entered on Ravelry) the mitten pattern (now officially known as Hansen) thinking I had 2-3 hours work ahead of me. Ha! But 6 hours later, I think I have it done. I'll get the purchase link in the sidebar soon. (eta: OK, it's there now). But in the meantime I'm going to borrow an idea from Annie Modesitt. I'll send a complimentary copy of the pattern to the first three people who email me through my profile and ask for it. No strings attached. All I ask is that if you come across any errors or omissions (now or six months from now) you let me know.

This now counts as one more Mission Possible task accomplished, because though it didn't involve any new knitting, it was definitely on my unfinished projects mental list.

As for other MP items: I'm about 75% finished with the scarf. I have both heels turned on the socks, and have started the gusset section on one.

Next in line will be a new lace scarf pattern that has also been on my mental list for quite a while. But I'm waiting on the yarn. It should be coming in the mail soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

kwise or pwise?

OK, I'm getting a little geeky here. Feel free to skip straight to the pretty picture at the end.

The pattern for the scarf in progress uses a double decrease frequently found in lace patterns: Slip one, k2tog, pass the slipped stitch over (a left leaning double decrease). So, slip knitwise or purlwise?

The rule of thumb is that when used as part of a decrease, stitches should be slipped knitwise. This is done to prevent them from twisting, thus making a smoother decrease. On the other hand, I find it just a bit quicker and easier to slip that stitch purlwise. So how much of a difference does it make?

The decrease on the right used a stitch slipped knitwise. The decrease on the left used a stitch slipped purlwise. The one on the right is just marginally smoother. Really marginally. In the left hand sample, the twist in that passed over stitch lifts the front leg of the stitch slightly, making it a bit more prominent. On the other hand, that lift exposes just a tiny bit more of the underlying k2tog. Does this make the whole decrease look more centered? I'm not sure.

At any rate, when worked in the lace pattern, the differences to my eye are almost imperceptible.

Stripe on right worked with stitch slipped knitwise. Stripe on left worked with stitch slipped purlwise. Close enough that I'm taking the easy way out and slipping purlwise.

I'm not saying that under different circumstances I might not choose differently (bulky yarn? a different pattern stitch?) I'm just saying that for this project the choice that isn't technically "correct" works for me.

If there is any moral here at all, it is that the question of "What is the right way?" doesn't necessarily have only one answer. In knitting, you can do things any damn way you want, as long as you get results that please you and as long as you understand why you are doing what you are doing.

Now the pretty picture

My snow babies opened up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Friday, March 21, 2008

Poor Robin

It's hard to see, but there's a fine fat fellow sort of huddled in the tree.

At least I hadn't packed these away quite yet. I finished them a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't had occasion to wear them more than a couple of times, what with spring arriving and all. Now that winter's temporarily back I have a second chance to wear and admire.
Nice and warm. I like the colors (they go very well with my black coat). To be honest, I think I like the fit of a mitten with the thumb placed on the palm better than at the side, but this is a fairly minor quibble. All in all a satisfactory project.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plans Change

So now that the scarf has moved into the "knitting without much thinking" slot, I'm reconsidering those plain ribbed socks. Wouldn't it be more fun to add a little oomph to the feet?

I've got an urge to break out into colorwork (or at least more-than-one-neutral work). I can do that. But I need to adjust the stitch count a little. Those ribs have lots of negative ease. And stranding a pattern will tighten up my gauge considerably. And the extra thickness will mean I need extra ease. So before I go anywhere else, I'm going to increase 1 stitch in each rib. That will take me up to 60 stitches total. Will that be enough to go over my heel when I pull the eventual socks on? I don't know. Maybe I'll go up a needle size. Excuse me while I launch myself into the unknown........

Ok, I really wrote the above yesterday, and in the meantime I've come this far:

I went to 60 stitches but did not change needle size. The first 10 rounds fit over my heel, so I've gone ahead and started the heel flap in the simplest possible "salt and pepper" pattern because, you know, working stranded knitting back and forth is a huge pain in the patoot. Can you steek heel flaps? I suppose there is no reason why not, though there would be a little extra bulk at the sides of the flap. At any rate, I'm working back and forth and considering it practice with stranding in purl.

It's another gloriously sunny afternoon. I decided I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to snap on the latex gloves, grab a plastic bag and go pick up the worst of the gunk that has emerged from under the melting snowbanks.

Even Spring has it's drawbacks. Though I must say there was less dog poop than some years. And while I was out I spotted my first robin. Oh heck, even picking up trash isn't half bad on a day like today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Little Leaf Stripe Scarf

How's that for alliteration?

I had forgotten how absurdly easy this pattern stitch is. In fact, now that I'm working on it again, I think it's possible that I put it down just because I got bored with it. This may turn out to be "conversational/group knitting", too. Simple or not, I am going to push ahead and finish.

Just to pique my own interest, and to get a better picture of what the finished product might look like, I decided to block on the needle.

I kind of like it. The horizontal stripes in the yarn fight a bit with the vertical lace pattern, but for me, not fatally. And it's one of those projects that shows lace doesn't have to look frou-frou. If it doesn't curl too much after blocking, I'll skip any additional edging. If it does curl, I'll look for something with some openness, but simple.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another trip to the closet

in search of UFO's: I came up with the beginnings of a scarf.

I think that I had set it aside because the garter border on the long sides isn't wide enough to control the curl. I'm going to go ahead and finish it, though, and see about adding a wider border (lace?) along the sides. Maybe the ends, too?

Wonder of wonders, I had left myself a scrawled note, "Lt Leaf Stripe (Waller) CP bamboo 3." Since this clearly means Barbara Walker's Little Leaf Stripe pattern worked with Crystal Palace #3 bamboo needles, I'm all set to go.

I'm still working on the plain jane ribbed socks. The first leg is done, and I've got about 2 1/2 inches on the second. But I'm sort of saving work on these for Thursday nights when I knit and chat and need a relatively mindless project.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Solar Power is a Wonderful Thing

This is the end of the driveway on the side that gets a lot of sun.

This is the end of the driveway on the side that does not.

In a particularly sunny angle between the sunroom and the living room, the daffodils are up about three inches.

Out by the front sidewalk, where the snow has barely receded, a few tulips are just starting to peep through.

I've been playing hooky from knitting and anything else I can get out of, wandering around the yard, cutting back a few perennials here, pulling a few weeds there, stomping in an occasional puddle, mostly basking in the sunshine. All that snow cover did have a benefit. The ground never froze hard so the moisture is soaking in. The earth is nice and soft, and should warm quickly. Crocus in bloom by Easter? I won't count on it, (but I'm crossing my fingers).

Friday, March 14, 2008

I'm Pleased to Report That

Mr S was able to un-jam the car window. It's not completely fixed, in that I still have to remember not to lower it more than half way. But I can live with that.

On the Mission Possible front, which in my mind has become Mission Clear the Decks, I finished the sock mending. Yay!

I also ripped the Project of Doom and rewound the yarn.

Leslie asked: "... will you re-skein then wet, let hang and dry straight (reclaim) before you use it?" The correct answer to this question (like the correct answer to "Do you floss daily?") is a resounding "Yes". That yarn is really kinky. Knitting with it straight from the ball could lead to uneven stitches, even gauge weirdness.

But as has so often been the case in my life, I'm not going with the correct answer. I've already cast on for a new pair of socks. I'm using two strands of yarn: the kinky re-wound, and a fresh off the original ball in a coordinating color for a kind of tweedy Ragg effect. Lets just say these are likely to be informal in feel and leave it at that.

Next on the list is to deal with this.

Someone I know asked me if I could fix it. I warned her that I couldn't make it pretty, but I could try to stabilize it so the stitches don't run any further, and close the gap. I think she mostly wants it for knocking around the barn. So this will be relatively fast meatball surgery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I ran across this on Andrew Sullivan's blog. The frogs are utterly charming. The acrobat ballerina is almost beyond belief.

Wed Misc

Who knew there was a Medieval Textiles group on Ravelry? (How cool). Anyway, Magnusmog asked there about the tapestry that so intrigued me, and the opinion there is that the curious object is a mirror.


Yesterday I drove to Monroe for my semi-annual teeth cleaning and floss lecture. On the way out of town I swung through the Burger King drive-through. Opened my window, of course, to get the goods; and it stuck. Wouldn't close. So I drove home 30 miles with the window open, cursing my self for forgetting. This had happened to Mr S before, and he had warned me about putting that window all the way down. But that was months ago, when the weather was warm. Eons ago. So I forgot. I'll see today if the local shop can do anything with it. If not, I guess I'll be driving back to Monroe to the dealership with the window open.


Mission Possible Report. I did get the pet blanket in the mail. And by making myself do at least a little bit First Thing Every Morning, I now have the mending finished on three pairs of socks, just one more to go. So what next? Well there's this:

"This" has been sitting in the back of my closet for at least two years, tying up several balls of sock yarn and two sets of dpns. It's a project so ill conceived in every way that I'm not even going to say what I was trying for. So I'm ripping it out, and I must say that there is liberation in finally giving up and admitting defeat. I'm not going to "get back to it." I'm not going to try to re-do it. I'm pulling out that yarn and winding it back into balls, and that's the end of it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This morning the cranes flew over

with their purring, chirruping whirl of a call. Looking up, I saw two, gracefully rowing across the sky. The cardinals have been more vocal of late, as have other small birds whose names I don't know. But the cranes are absolute confirmation. The season has turned.


Next step in the Mission Possible line up: mend a pile o' socks.

Really only 3/4 of a pile, because two out of eight were fixed before the stack started growing. They just happened to be from two different pairs.

I've started with the solid teal pair in front. These are so fuzzy and pilled that you can hardly see the pattern stitch, but 1) they are warm, 2) it takes less time to mend than to knit a new pair (even if it is less fun), 3) it feels wasteful in all kinds of ways to toss them when they are just getting thin in the heel. Since I caught them before the yarn wore all the way through, this is simple duplicate stitch reinforcement. The next pair back is another story (see gaping hole).

If I am very good, and work steadily through the whole pile, I may treat myself to casting on for a new pair.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

medieval mystery object

Magnusmog went to France, and took a picture of a tapestry in the Musee de Cluny. I love it, but it's driving me crazy. It portrays a lovely woman, elegantly dressed, against a floral background. But what is that object she is holding? I looks like a sort of tray with balls of yarn in it. From the center rises a a vertical support, and at the top is a round frame containing something that looks shiny and convex. The frame is studded with smaller round objects that might be transparent. Is it a mirror? A magnifying glass? A lens to gather and focus light? Art historians, medievalists, help me out here.


I've been impressed and inspired by YarnThrower Laura's progress on her Mission Possible project. I have a few UFO's to finish up myself, and but even more USP's (that's Un-Started Projects). Why are the Unfinished still unfinished? In one case (lace shawl) because it is complex and I'm charting as I go, and it feels like more of a challenge than I'm in the mood for right now, though I know I will get back to it. In the other cases, because they a pokey boring, unexciting tasks. But they are cluttering my life, and I'm going to get rid of them, starting with this:

It's a blanket for the Snuggles Project (pet blankets for shelters), and has been done for about a year except for weaving in ends, looking up the shelter address and mailing it off. That's not so hard. It will be in the mail tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I want a mug like Linda's Mom's:

the one that says "If Librarians Ruled the World, Reading Would Be a Varsity Sport." Thanks for sharing that!

And thanks to everyone for the acquisitions brainstorming, some helpful ideas there. Now, if my funds (and our shelf space) were unlimited I would focus first on a complete collection of knitting books (and DVD's) by Wisconsin authors. There would be Elizabeth Zimmerman and Meg Swanson, of course, and Edie Eckman, Betty Christiansen (Knitting for Peace), Sheryl Theis, Susan B. Anderson, Hazel Carter... Am I missing anyone?

It took me three days to force myself to rip back the top of my mitten, and then only about 45 minutes at most to re-knit it. Why do I put off ripping? I dunno, I'm guessing surly resentment at not having done it right in the first place. Whatever the cause of the delay, the results are definitely more satisfactory to me. That out of the way, I got rolling on the second. Once past the thumb opening, the hand pattern takes almost no thought and moves along briskly.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Fun Assignment

The library had an unexpected financial windfall, and Gretchen decided to use it for new materials. But she doesn't really have time to wade through pages and pages of catalogs. So she asked me to go through them and come up with some suggestions. Yipee!

As you can see by all those yellow tags sticking out, I could have spent the whole amount before I got halfway through the stack. But I'm marking possibilities and will go back and narrow down choices later. And I will probably make a list of suggestions that she can further narrow.

Of course, my first impulse is "buy lots of knitting books", but that will be revised to some or even a couple of knitting books as part of a larger mix. The hard part here is resolving some broader philosophical questions. Do I go for things that are likely to circulate widely? In that case I should focus on best selling fiction authors, possibly in audio book format or large type editions. Do I try to look at where our collections could use filling out? More non-fiction? If so, in what areas - the range is vast.

Of course, what I want to do is get a bunch of things I like and think other people should like (or should be exposed to), too. But despite my lack of formal librarian training, I'm pretty sure that simply pushing my own agenda (whether craftwise, literary or political) would not be considered a best practice, acquisitions wise.

Well, if it's a dilemma, it's really a pleasant sort of one to have. I'm off to look at more catalogs now.