Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I had so much fun with the scrap hat that I just kept going.

I'm having a little bit of a problem confining myself to pieces of wool that aren't long enough to use for anything else. I keep wanting to grab another color from some of those fuller skeins. It does help that I can combine thinner yarns (which just adds to the color play).

For her Earth Day post, Dale-Harriet quoted a slogan from the days of World War II: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, ,Make It Do, Or Do Without." Seems like a good thought for these times, as well.

And I was also inspired by Laura's "free" skirts - really creative and cute.

I have a feeling this is going to become an ongoing project. I've set aside a scrap bag. Now I need to work on some other things so I will have leftovers to fill it up.

One of those other projects is a pair of mittens: sort of a "first draft" for a pattern.

This is the size small (would probably fit someone in the twelve year old range). I have mostly hidden the cuff of the first one because I didn't get exactly what I wanted on the first try. I could rip it back easily enough, because I knit them from the top down. But I don't think I will, since it's a trial run anyway. The thumb isn't finished on the one with the cuff I like; and I haven't snugged up the top or woven in ends. I will take care of those details, and then I'll cast on for a second pair in a different color combination and a larger size.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Well, I've Had a Very Fun Weekend, Indeed.

Yesterday was "Last Saturday Knitting" and it was one of those times when there were laughs from beginning to end, Money quote: "Somehow our conversations always come round to dog poop." Well, maybe you had to be there.


Today I got brave and drove up to the Great Midwest Alpaca Show. I say "brave" because getting to the Coliseum involves driving on the Beltline, and my two guiding principals of driving are "avoid left turns" and "stay off the Beltline". But on Sunday morning the traffic is light, and it really wasn't bad at all.

I spent the first 40 minutes or so just wandering around the animal pens.

Definitely cute overload. On the other hand, freshly shorn alpacas look a bit as if they had been drawn by Dr. Seuss.

Then I went upstairs and watched a machine knitting demonstration (I don't think it's for me, but it was interesting), and drum carding and spinning (not for me yet, but I'm not ruling it out).

Next, I headed to the vendor area (my real goal all along). Stopped in to say "hi" to Kristi from the Argyle Fiber Mill, who I actually hadn't seen in a few months, ever though we are practically next door neighbors (well Blanchardville is about 5 miles from Argyle, but around here that's nothing). Dropped in at Sandy's booth (Sandy's Palette). I hadn't seen her since the Jefferson Wool and Fiber festival last summer. Couldn't resist some of her "Merino Sox", and couldn't decide which color, so:

Then I got to talking with a really nice young woman (Shelly?) with some very pretty yarn in her booth, and thinnish rovings that her young daughter was finger knitting into bracelets. These (the rovings, not the bracelets) would make wonderfully warm thrums for mittens. I didn't buy any now because it turns out that her business, Alpacas of Prairie Station, is also practically just up the road in Mineral Point. And they have a Farm Store open two Saturdays a month. Yay! Another field trip in the offing.

Plus, while roaming I bumped into Elizabeth and Jen, and even though I had just seen them yesterday it felt like a treat. Especially since I got to meet Jen's family and Elizabeth's friends from Milwaukee.

By the time I left, I was starving, so on the way home I swung through Verona and stopped at the Sow's Ear, not for yarn, but for quiche and coffee.

An altogether satisfying morning.


Even the weekend knitting has been purely fun: hats made with bits and pieces of leftover yarns. These are fun because

1) I don't have to take notes. I'm not trying to write a pattern, just use up some yarn in an enjoyable and productive fashion, without having to think about the mechanics too much.

2) I don't have to worry about gauge or fit. I start at the top, increase to a likely looking number of stitches, work even awhile and bind off. These will go to afghans for Afghans or Dulaan, and as long as they are generally child sized they are sure to fit somebody.

3) This is the main thing: I really enjoy improvising (playing) with colors.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Made it in time

Finished the 4th Mission Possible project before the end of April. Yay!

The Ackward Socks are all done. I was a bit dubious when they came off the needles. They were a bit, um, lumpy. But blocking really did work it's magic. (I don't usually block socks at all, but I wanted them to look nice for their picture.)

All in all, if I do these again I'm going to handle to patterning on the gusset and sole differently. But they will be nice and warm next winter, with a sort of homey, folksy feel.

So what's next on the list? Well I do still have one more afghan's worth of Warm Up America blocks.

These have been "out of sight, out of mind" for I'd guess at least a year. All acrylic, mostly rather firmly crocheted, made by volunteers who sent them to the Craft Yarn Council, who sent them to me. High time I got started on putting them together (I did volunteer,after all). I'm not even going to try to get this all done in a month. I'll get started and work diligently, if intermittently (promise to self and the world).

That leaves me needing a "sure to be finished before May is done project". I think I'll improvise a hat. That's always fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Honor Thy Mother.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Knitting with Brillo

A little back story here. I wanted to swatch just a bit of the Sandburg scarf in the version with plain ends (no edging), just to have an example. So I went digging around in the bottom of the stash and pulled out this.

It's a cone of Shetland two ply that I bought years and years ago from Webs as part of a mixed lot of mill ends. I noticed that this is a ton of yarn, more than enough, I'm sure, for a full sized square shawl. And I noticed that it's a nice deep charcoal heathery color, with some little flecks of red. Hmmm, possibilities?

I also noticed, as soon as I cast on, that it's a bit ..... stiff. "Well," I thought, "It still has the spinning oils in it. It will probably soften up some with washing. Let's give it a go for the swatch."

Four pattern repeats later, my fingers refused to go any farther. "Rough and scratchy" doesn't begin to describe the sensation. This yarn was clearly intended for weaving rugged tweed jackets, the kind you would wear for a day of shooting out on the moors. I expect it would serve that purpose admirably. But it is not, and never will be, anything you would want to wear next to your skin. Sigh.

It did "soften with washing" to the point of having a somewhat reasonable drape, but it's still itchy, itchy, itchy.

I thought about re-washing it with hair softener in the rinse water. And then thought again, about the words of that great country classic The Gambler: "You have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..." It's time to "fold em".

Anyone want some itchy wool?


P.S to Tracy - Nice to hear from another edging enthusiast. I love them on little girl's dresses, too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
-Carl Sandburg

The Sandburg Scarf is done.

Just have to do a few finishing touches on the pattern. Edited to add: The pattern's done and available through the sidebar.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Edging Along

I've always had a special fondness for lace edgings. I don't know why exactly.

Maybe I like them so much because the first lace I ever knit was an edging from a pattern I found on a page torn out of an old Workbasket magazine. As I was working on it (and I was a fairly new knitter in those days) I thought it was just about the prettiest thing I had ever seen. Wish I knew where that page went to. It would be fun to take a look at the pattern again.

Maybe I'm fond of them because I learned how to "read" lace, and deal with double yarn overs, and patterning on both right and wrong sides (and got over being intimidated by small needle sizes) while working on other edging patterns that I was able to scrounge up here and there. In those days we lived miles and miles from a yarn store, I hardly knew anyone who knit and if the Internet existed I sure didn't know about it. Thank goodness for books and magazines. Threads showed me how a wide edging with just a bit of a curve could be a collar. Mary Thomas showed me how one could be the launching point for an entire Shetland shawl (though this was knowledge I enjoyed in theory, rather than actual practice.)

Maybe it's because an edging by itself is very portable. Get one that's not too wide with a relatively short row repeat and you can have it memorized quickly, can pick it up and work a few repeats and feel like you've accomplished something. It doesn't take long to work several inches, enough to see that you are getting somewhere. And if you do make a mistake, it's much faster to pick back than, say 300 odd stitches on the far side of a shawl.

Maybe I just like the idea of towels and pillowcases trimmed with lace. (I say "idea of" because I'm the last person on earth who would actually iron those items after washing to keep the lace in proper shape). A few years back, I did trim a some terry cloth hand towels, couching down the lace with sewing thread to hold it's shape. The technique worked only moderately well. But I must say, after many trips through the washer and dryer, the terry cloth wore out before the trim did. This is the last of them.

All this is really just a roundabout way of getting to saying how very grateful I am to Sarah Bradberry for the work she has done re-writing, charting and knitting samples of an extensive collection of old edging patterns. These have been available for some time on her website: Now, bless her, she getting them all entered on Ravelry, where it's even easier to browse through the lot. Knitting benisons on her head!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today's Agenda

I got the first edging knit onto the Sandburg scarf, which involved knitting, but also: taking careful notes as I went, correcting the chart and consequently the line by line directions, stopping in the middle to take pictures.

Then I finally stumbled on to the fact (undoubtedly known to everyone else in the universe), that you can use Paint to put words and lines and stuff on your pictures. In my case, not very elegantly executed items. But hey, after several attempts, I've got arrows! I've got rudimentary explanatory text! A whole new world is opening up before my eyes.

Now I need to translate the knitting notes into directions that will explain to someone who has never knit on an edging just how its done. Wish me luck.
ETA: also have to re-do the "explanatory text", because darn I got so excited I put "incoming" where I meant "outgoing".

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another One Done

Ends woven, washed, blocked: The Little Leaf Stripe Scarf, she is done, and ready to be put away for a future gift.

That's 3 down for Mission Possible. Yeah, we're half way through month four of the year, but the socks are almost finished, too.

The edges do roll inward a bit, but I've decided that when worn this won't matter at all.

Specs: A little under 100 grams of sock yarn (DGB "Confetti": 75% wool/25% nylon) on US size 3 needles. Four repeats of "Little Leaf Lace Stripe" from Barbara Walker's first collection (centered) with a 3 stitch garter border along each side, and 6 rows of plain garter at each end.

I blocked without pins, just dampened and spread to shape, so that was pretty easy-peasy, too.


I'm rolling along on the body of the new scarf in Brooklyn Handspun "Soft Spun". The big question is, how much yarn do I reserve for the edgings that will go at the ends? I think I need to do some weighing and measuring.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Pile O' Lace

The Little Leaf Stripe Scarf is off the needles - finished the last bit at the regular Thursday knit/gossip session.

Now to weave in ends and block, and I'll be able to cross off another Mission Possible item.


I'm sorry to say that The Garter Belt website may not be around much longer. Elizabeth summed up the situation well in her post on the Ravelry forum:

"Many of you have been aware that we’ve had communication issues over the last 1.5 years. I want to give everyone a fair warning that the domain registry for The Garter Belt site expired on Mar 18, 2008. We have not had contact with Wendy Wonnacott in several months and we do not have the log-in information necessary to maintain the site. Right now, we’re on borrowed time and the site might vanish any day between now and the end of June. Most of us will be making our patterns, both free and paid, available either from our blogs or through Ravelry. If there’s a particular pattern you want, and can’t find it after TGB vanishes, please contact the individual designer.

Thanks so much for all your support during this venture. It’s been quite a ride!"

I want to add my own thanks to everyone who put time and effort into the site. As the saying goes, it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zipping Along

The new lace scarf is moving along very quickly, almost half done (excluding edgings). To be precise, I've used 1.7 out of four ounces, though a bit of that went to swatching.

Part of this may be the weather. It's been cool and rainy, so there has been no temptation to go wandering around outside for half the day.

And I think some of it is the needles. When I was at the store, they didn't have the brand of bamboo needles I wanted in the size I needed, so I thought "what the heck" and took an Inox Express. (I know, a big difference.) It's been quite a while since I've used really slick metal needles. By golly I think I really am knitting faster on them. The tips aren't particularly sharp, but as the yarn is nicely elastic and not splitty I haven't had any trouble digging into the K2tog's.

It doesn't hurt that the yarn is a real pleasure to work with. It's soft, with a little bit of an almost springy feel to it, and I'm still loving the color.

No new picture though, because 20 some inches of unblocked lace isn't that much more interesting to look at than 6 inches.

Instead I give you my incentive to dig the rest of the weeds out of the flower beds.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I did go up to the Sow's Ear on Friday and got my new needles. I've started the new scarf with a provisional cast on, because I will come back later and knit on an edging. I have never mastered the EZ provisional, where you sort of flip two yarns over and under each other. In my repertoire I have the crochet chain cast on, which is slow and fiddly to do, but really quick to remove; or what TechKnitter calls the COWYAK (cast on with waste yarn and knit). This is fast to do, but harder to remove at the end. Since I was impatient to get going, I went with the COWYAK.

My other purpose in hitting the Friday sale was to find some yarn for a sweater for myself. I would like to make a new cardigan and had nowhere near enough of any one yarn in the stash to do it. (My stash tends towards odd balls, sock yarn and some lace weight).

So I grabbed what I could of this Brown Sheep Superwash in Purple Haze.

Looks kind of like plain old Navy Blue in this photo, but I assure you it is really a deep purple. I think I got enough to sqeek out a long sleeved sweater. And then I threw in a couple balls in a nice red and a couple of green, just in case I wanted to add some color at the cuffs or something.

I also picked up a couple of balls of Classic Yarns Cashsoft (57% merino, 33% acrylic, 10% cashmere) in a pale celery green. This means 2 more odd balls in the stash but they are enough for some winter accessory (possible Christmas present).

This last one is Molly Bee's fault. She was winding off a hank (in a different color) as I was standing in line for check out. Of course I asked what it was, and she kindly pointed to the shelf - right next to me - where it could be found.

The last thing I need is 1460 yds of superfine merino. But the price was so good, and more importantly the color is so pretty, that it ended up in the basket as well.
I'm not sure I've ever bought this much yarn in one trip before. Tell me I'm helping the economy....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today-
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand-
So what could I do but laugh and go?

-Richard LeGallienne

Friday, April 04, 2008

41 years

This has nothing to do with knitting.

41 years ago, April 4 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave this speech. It speaks more eloquently to our current position than anything I have heard in the last five years and more.

If you go to the site, click on the video for the spoken version. Scroll down a bit and ignore the film clips; they just distract from the power of the spoken word. The written transcript on the page is longer than the spoken version, but I think not so compelling. It's worth reading. But first, just listen.

Look What The Mailman Brought

Well, actually we don't have a mailman. We pick up our mail at the P.O., and the postmistress is a woman. But I'm getting off topic.

I'm working on a new lace scarf design, and Marie from Brooklyn Handspun is graciously providing yarn support.

This is hand dyed 100% merino fingering, in a semi-solid colorway called High Sea. It has lovely very subtle variations of blue-greens. The second photo comes a little closer to capturing it, but neither really do it justice.

Of course, I could hardly wait to start swatching.

Well, I really could hardly wait to jump right in to the scarf. But I knew better. There isn't any way to tell how lace is going to block out until you do, you know, block it. The swatch is drying now, and I may in fact go down a needle size. Which means I may just have to go to Late Night Knitting at the Sow's Ear tonight, because somehow I don't seem to have a bamboo circ in the next size down. Not that the advertised big yarn sale has anything to do with my urge to head north.... But again, I digress.

My intention for the scarf pattern is a basic, easy lace with optional knit on edgings at the ends. Prior to the arrival of the "real" yarn I tried out a few possibilities using some of the sock yarn stash, and I think I have settled on the combination I want. I'm chompin' at the bit to really get rolling.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Nice Connection

When I stopped by Ravelry last night, I found a message from a new Raveler, saying she was a friend of my sister, who had encouraged her to say "hi". How nice to get the greeting. Then I looked at her Ravatar a little more closely. Hmmm, looks like wire knitting. Light bulb on. I realized that Marla is Marla Rudnick, the artist who made the beautiful earrings A. Pazoo sent me for Christmas. The work on her website is breathtakingly lovely. Then something about the name of the gallery she shows at sounded familiar. Hmmm, Potomac Craftsman Fiber Gallery. Yep, same one my friend Gayle shows at. Small world. I like that.


Once past the gussets, the socks are moving along quite quickly. I thought I would be wise to try one on and see if the sizing guesstimate was correct. Fortunately, it was.

Since Leslie's comment on my last post I have been thinking of these as the "Ackwards" socks (as in "Bass" - but in a good way). It is, ahem, true that many people do put patterning on the leg and knit the foot plain. I have done so myself. I noted one reason for, shall we say, departing from standard practice in my response. But I have others.

1) In winter, my legs have sock tops, then long johns (seen peeking out on the left), then often leg warmers, then jeans. That's three to four layers of coziness. But my poor tootsies have only socks. Putting the stranded section at the bottom makes the foot the warmest part.

2) It combats the boredom factor. For some reason I can work stretches of plain knitting, or plain old rib, all the way down the leg without getting bored. Maybe it's because I have the excitement of the heel turn to look forward to. (Don't laugh. I really do like turning heels.) But once past the gusset shaping, that long stretch of foot (size 10 long) sometimes gets to be a drag. I'm past the gusset. I should be almost done. But I'm not almost done. Drat! Are these things ever going to be finished? With the Ackwards, the fun is just starting at the ankle and will continue all the way to the toe. Woot!