Thursday, July 31, 2008


Leslie (who has abandoned blogging so I won't link) emailed me this:

What do these words have in common?
1. Banana
2. Dresser
3. Grammar
4. Potato
5. Revive
6. Uneven
7. Assess

It does not have anything to do with capital letters or double letters. There are no prizes, unless you count bragging rights.

eta: SSK* got this one right, so don't peek at the comments if you're still working on it.


This one is my own. What do these stitch patterns have in common?

114. Arrowhead Stitch (multiple of 8 plus 5 sts)
Rows 1 and 3: K1, *yarn over needle (yo) to make 1 st, 1 double decrease (k2 tog through back loop - place st back on left needle - pass next st over it- then place st back on right needle), yo, k5*, repeat from * to * across row to last 4 sts, yo, 1 double decrease, yo, k1. Rows 2, 4, 6 and 8: Purl. Row 5: K4 *yo, sl 1, k1, psso, k1, k2tog, yo, k3 *, rep from * to * across row to last st, k1. Row 7: K1, *yo, 1 double decrease, yo, k1*, repeat from * to * across row to last 4 sts, yo, 1 double decrease, yo, k1.

PATTERN (multiple of 8 sts plus 5): Row 1 (right side); K1, *yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k1, repeat from * across.
Rows 2, 4 and 6: K1, p across to last st, k1.
Rows 3 and 5: K1, *yo, sl l, k2tog, psso, yo, k5, repeat from * across, end last repeat yo, k1.
Row 7: K1, *k3, yo, k2tog through back lps, k1, k2tog through front lps, yo, repeat from * across, end k4.
Row 8: Repeat row 2. Repeat these 8 rows for pat.

Snowdrop Lace
Multiple of 8 + 5
1st row (right side): K1, *yf, sl 1 purlwise, k2tog, psso, yf, k5: rep from * to last 4 sts, yf, sl 1 purlwise, k2tog, psso, yf, k1.
2nd and every alt row: Purl.
3rd row: As 1st row.
5th row: K4, *yf, sl 1 purlwise, k1, psso, k1, k2tog, yf, k3; rep from * to last st, k1.
7th row: K1, *yf, sl 1 purlwise, k2tog, psso, yf, k1; rep from * to end.
8th row: Purl.

Wooo Hooo!

I'm doing a happy dance here. Leisure Arts has just published my Lacy Baby Sets. Jumping up and down here. OK, now I'm just going to go camp out at the Post Office until my copies arrive.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why is hair gross

when it's floating around loose, falling in the soup or clogging the drains; but not gross when it's attached to your head? Is hair "gross" or "not gross" when it gets worked into a WIP? On the "unanattached=gross" it would be the former. But in Nordic Knitting, Susan Pagoldh explains that in Denmark human hair was blended with wool to lend strength to socks and mittens. And she has a photo of a contemporary sweater, which is not gross at all, knit with flax and blond hair spun together. Maybe if it's handspun it's automatically good, no matter what fiber you put into it.


These are definitely nice, on or off the stem

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some things that affect my gauge

The temperature
The humidity level
My fatigue level
The background music (if any)
My mood
My posture
The number of stitches on the needle relative to its length
Whether or not the cat is sitting on the yarn

Really, it's a wonder anything comes out even remotely even.


I've found myself thinking a lot about Mrs. Bard and her Wintuk sweater. I still think the wording of the testimonial is funny, but really, she must have been so happy to see anything intact after the flood, and especially something she had knit, it's all kind of touching. And I have to remind myself of what a miracle fiber acrylic must have seemed when it was new. No color fading, no shrinking or felting, no moth holes, non-allergenic..... A good wool sweater can last a long time, if properly cared for, but acrylic takes a beating (which is why I still use it from time to time - "know your recipient" being one of my mottos).

kmkat raised the question why anyone would intentionally ladder their stockings. As much as I can tell from the little drawing, I think it was the 19th Century version of fishnet hose. That, and maybe every knitter just needs a new trick now and then (or every publisher needs new copy).

Monday, July 28, 2008

little addendum

I meant to link to the Knitcircus website in the last post, but forgot. Here it is.

On Saturday, Linda was making a sock on a little, teensy (9") HiyaHiya circular needle. I would have thought that was much too short for comfortable use, but she was doing just fine with it. I may have to pick one up, if only because it was so darn cute.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend Update

I was so glad to get to Last Saturday knitting on (what else?) Saturday. I missed the get together last month, and it really felt like a year since I had seen everyone. Nice to get caught up on news and knitting projects. I did discover that a stitch pattern I thought was permanently grooved into my memory, was not. So I didn't make so much progress on my second Hudson River; but that wasn't really the point. (I think the Victor Allen barrista secretly thinks of us as the "Raucous Every Month Knitters." I was the first one there, and I could see it in his eyes when he spotted the knitting bag. "Oh no, here they come again." Actually, he is very nice, and I think mostly a bit amused by us.

Kitty Mommy Jen remembered my cautious fascination with the idea of a tatoo, and snagged me a temporary one from the last Sow's Ear Late Night Knitting.

Great Design:"Knit or Die". That kind of says it all. I'll wear it proudly til it flakes.

On my way over, I stopped in Verona to snag the new Knitcircus magazine.
It looks terrific. I like the "purse or knitting bag" size. Some cute knitting patterns, some cute sewing projects (including a sewing project for knitting.)

Brief as it is, Jaala's article on 1950's handwork is just about worth the cover price (because I think those pictures alone just might make this a collectors item). Can we say "naughty housewives"?

Speaking of retro, I'm still enjoying Knitting America just immensely. Anyone who thinks garter drop stitch scarves are so last year is off by several decades. Check out the "Imogene" scarf from 1924 (p.115). And remember that "magic" scarf that was making the rounds a year or two ago, the one you knit about half the length you wanted, then dropped about every fifth stitch to leave openwork ladders? Well Godey's Ladies Book was using that same trick in 1861, presumably in much finer yarn, for stockings.

I should mention that the book I am reading is Knitting America by Susan M. Strawn. (not Knitting in America by Melanie Falick, although it is confusing because Melanie wrote the forward and her name is also on the cover, and the two books are sort of the same shape and size).

After my first read-through, my favorite quotation (p. 172) is this:

Mrs. Fred Bard of Isleton California, salvaged her hand-knit Red Heart "Wintuk" sweater-coat that had been buried in mud for five months after her home flooded. She hosed it down, tossed it into the washer and dryer, and claimed it looked as good as new.

Strong evidence, I think, in support of my contention that the "best" yarn is the one that most adequately serves your purposes. A Wintuk sweater-coat might not serve my purposes, or even, perhaps, yours. But Mrs. Bard was a happy customer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy 85th

to my Mom. Actually, her birthday was yesterday, but we brought our greetings in person then. If you met my mom, you wouldn't guess she is eighty-five. Still and active gardener, volunteer, water colorist, book club member, cook.... She takes a keen interest in the people around her and the larger world of current events. Here's to you, Mom!


Knitting America has been my bedtime reading lately, and very enjoyable, too. I was struck that a number of the photographs of children's items were from the Wisconsin State Historical Society. And then I remembered, the society has an absolutely terrific online archive of children's clothing. A few years back I spent hours pouring over the the pictures. Well worth a visit.


It seems early for the Rudbeckia to be in full bloom, but blooming they are.

Maybe the summer's just going faster than I had realized.

They spread like weeds, but make such a cheerful show.

The neighbor's sunflowers are cheerful, too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Old Reliable

Patons "Kroy", another basic, unassuming sock yarn. Seems like this stuff has been around forever....... The yarn above is new, but I've had the ones below (plus a few more colors) in my stash for a looong time.

All the same yarn, right? Well, more or less. The older version was made in Canada. The newer version is made in Slovenia. The older version is 85% wool/15% nylon. The newer version is 75% wool/25% nylon. The older version ran 203 yds/50 grams. The newer one is 192 yards/50 gms. Except for the cream colored one on the far right. Kroy used to come in two weights: "3-ply" and "4-ply" (I have a pattern booklet with some patterns written for each weight). The cream is 3-ply at 262 yds/50 gms. There used to be more solid colors (though there is still a nice range of neutrals). On the other hand, now there are variegated and self-patterning options.

To turn an old saying inside out: the more things stay the same, the more they change.

But it's still a good basic sock yarn.................

Friday, July 18, 2008


We have a family tradition, going back to when the girl was in high school, of treating ourselves to an evening of Shakespeare under the stars at American Players Theater in Spring Green.

The girl is all grown up now, but she still joins us, and since Mom moved to Madison she has become one of the party as well.

Last night was our evening. The day had been awfully hot, but the clouds rolled in by late afternoon. About 40 minutes before the performance was due to start, the wind picked up and a light rain started to fall, and kept up as we climbed the hill through the woods. We crawled into ponchos when we got to our seats. But, as if on cue, the rain stopped just as the performance began.

The play was "A Midsummer Night's Dream". It's hard to go wrong with that one, but this was a particularly joyous production. Afterwards, we rode home in something of a glow.


As a different sort of treat to myself, I ordered a couple of new books.

The Janet Szabo cables book is for serious study. I've only flipped through it so far, but I can see that she has done her usual thorough job, and also that there are a couple of cable tricks in there that are completely new to me. What this is most like is a dictionary of cable stitches, with the distinction that the author provides the technical information you need to understand what you are doing, and why. Very helpful if you want to try inventing combinations of your own. The book format, wider than it is tall, is a little clumsy in my hands, but I can see why she chose it, because it allows her to layout the pages with a photo, chart and line by line directions arranged side by side. It's very easy for the eye to move back and forth between them, which I find very helpful.

Knitting America is just for fun. I had flipped through it in one of the big bookstores and thought "I don't need this, but I'd like to have it." It's almost a knitter's "coffee table book" - lots of pictures. There's text, too, of course, and I'm always happy to get a hold of information on knitting history. And there are some projects included. But I bought it mostly for pictures. I'm looking forward to really diving into it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sitting with an icepack on my head...

No, I'm not hungover, just hot. But it seems silly to turn on the AC when I'm the only one in the house. So the icepack is rotating from my head to one shoulder, than the other shoulder. ---- Wait, that was last night- I never finished writing the post. Tonight it has cooled down nicely.

Marie mentioned that Red Heart is now putting out a kitchen cotton, so that's two natural fiber yarns added to their line. Nice. Wonder if it has anything to do with the rising price of petroleum? Or maybe they just realized that lots of knitters buy sock and dishcloth yarns. and BTW, the cotton come in 59 colors. How come the dishcloth knitters get all the color fun???????
In trying to verify whether acrylic is in fact petroleum based (I'm pretty sure it is), I ran across the following WTF quotation from the ever reliable Wikipedia: "Acrylic has recently been used in clothing as a cheaper alternative to cashmere due to the similar feeling of the materials." I've run across some decent feeling acrylic yarns, but I've never been tempted to confuse it with cashmere...
I never thought I much liked orange, but I sure like these

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My ears perked right up

when I heard that Red Heart has released a new sock yarn.

For one thing, I was pleased that after all these years Red Heart is making a small turn toward using some natural fiber. I'm not an "opposed to acrylic on principal" sort of knitter, but for my own wear I usually find yarn with at least some wool content more comfortable. Especially for socks.

And for another, I'm always on the lookout for moderately priced sock yarn. I love, really love, the higher end brands. But sometimes what I need is a good sturdy workhorse.

This looks as though it might fit the bill (Heart & Sole from Red Heart). With 30% nylon it should be sturdy. It says to machine wash and dry flat, but I will try my regular routine of machine washing in cold and drying in the dryer on low.

So far, I've only swatched a bit. The ball band lists 9 sts/inch. I'm working at my normal 8 sts/inch and it seems just fine at that gauge. It has what I would call a moderate twist - I'm having no problems with splitting, and the stitch definition looks good. It's not merino soft, but to my hand it's not unpleasantly stiff or scratchy, either. The label says "with Aloe". To me, there's no sensation of it having been imbued with aloe or anything else, but then I have no idea what it might feel like without the aloe.

The colorway on the left is "Tequila Sunrise", a random stripe. The yarn comes in some more random stripes, several patterns that combine random stripes with random jacquard type patterning, and three solids. I like the look of most of the colors, at least on the computer screen. (The ones above are the only ones I have seen in real life, and they are pretty true to the computer color card as it shows on my monitor.) I would class most of the patterned colorways as "feminine", but the Toasted Almond looks like it might work for a guy.

Alas, the solids are limited to white, black and the dark navy on the right of the photo. These days I'm into combining variegated with solids, so I wish it offered more solid options. But for starters the color selection ain't bad. (Hint to Red Heart: please release some nice bright solids that will coordinate with the patterned yarns, and maybe a brown, grey, rust olive green...a little more choice for the more conservative men in our lives.)

All in all, this looks like a decent basic sock yarn at a reasonable price.

These two balls are destined to become part of a project that's keeping me pretty busy these days. Can't say too much about it, but it does involve quite a few socks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Excuse my French, but

Damn, it's hard to take a picture of your own foot.

At any rate, I finished the vacation socks, which are really more like footlets, but they're summer covers for the feet at any rate, which is all I was really after. I used a new-to-me toe variation that came out a little shorter than anticipated. I usually make a wedge toe, mostly because I can do it without thinking and I know exactly where to start it for a good fit (halfway up my little toe). But I feel I should make an effort to extend my repertoire from time to time. On this pair, I could have used an extra four or five rounds in the foot length. But this yarn is stretchy, and I think they will do. Some things I'm willing to rip back. Some things I'm not.

Speaking of socks, I got the Knit Picks catalog featuring their sock blanks for dye it yourself projects.

I would so love to have about 10 of those, because the dying part looks like so much fun. I think they would be much easier to handle than hanked yarn during the process, and much easier to get two matching socks. But I'm not ordering any, at least for now. Because I know that if I finished off one or two I would be going crazy wanting more right away. I have had fun looking at some of the finished results people have posted at the KP website.


Nice free patterns alert:

Marie has posted a link to a chart for her cabled "Triumph" scarf. (A picture of the swatch is here.)

And Grace's Loving Hearts Doll Shawl is just too sweet.

Monday, July 07, 2008

OK, now I'm rethinking the cardigans

from the last post. All that embroidery is not something I could wear without looking either silly or frumpy. I just couldn't pull it off. But on a person younger and/or more inherently cool than myself it might be smashing.

We had a nice, much needed rain this morning. A month ago we had more water than we could handle, but it had been very dry the last few weeks, and the yard was suffering. I don't do much outside irrigation, because village water is very expensive, and hauling hoses and watering cans around the yard is very time consuming. We generally let the lawn (such as it is) go dormant during long dry spells. But I do hate to loose the flowers. So the last few days I had been selectively watering. Maybe that was the rain charm.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I had some highly appropriate comments

from readers on the Aran Pants post (though no one mentioned the potential itch factor or the "too warm to wear anywhere but the North Pole" factor). It did occur to me that these issues, along with those of felting and wear on the rear end, could be mitigated by knitting with Red Heart. This would, however, have the potential for exacerbating the waffle skin issue, and would probably be the only thing that could make this more of a bad idea than it already is. All in all, it's probably best to slowly back away from the pants.

I suspect the publisher was simply looking for a new and different design, one that no one had ever done before (and as far as I can tell, has never done since). I do give credit to the designer for working it all out. It can't have been easy figuring the pattern placement and shaping and grading for sizes.

Here's another scary pattern from the same book.

(It's scarier if you click to make it big)

Although, maybe the little girl's version would be cute. And what if you ditched all of the embroidery on Mom's execpt the panels next to the cardigan opening? Nah, might work for someone, but it's definitely not me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


(yes you can click to embiggen)

Aran pantsuits circa 1977, from McCall's knit/crochet Encyclopedia.
First question: did anyone ever actually knit these (aside from the pattern sample maker, I mean)?
Second question: if anyone made them, how many times did they actually wear them?
I must say, 70's knitters did not expect to be coddled. No schematics, no charts, eight different cable panels with varying row counts, shaping in pattern, pockets. And no skill level indicated.
But I tell ya, that v-neck vest would be very nice if it were made about 8 inches shorter, lose the belt, maybe put the buttons a little closer together...
Now if you want to see some genuinely cute knitting, check out Elizabeth's Tango.