Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back on Track

Knitting wise, that is

I settled down yesterday and got most of the back finished for the purple vest. I'm actually a bit farther along than in the picture - just about ready for the neck shaping. I've never done back neck shaping on a sweater before, but think I'll give it a whirl, just to see if I like the fit better.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


On Sunday I went to the annual meeting of the local Historical Society. They were presenting a program on genealogy, and my boss Gretchen was going to explain some software newly available through the library. I thought I had better get the low down in case folks came with questions during my shifts. (I could have had her show me separately, but since we are both pretty busy it made sense to just attend the meeting). The main presenter gave a good talk about how to get started, with helpful handouts.

I've never done genealogical research, or had any pressing urge to take it up, but when I mentioned to my Mom that I would be attending she said "Oh, I would really like to know more about my mother's family".

So when I got home from the presentation I started noodling around (and quickly realized why people can spend years at it - it's a slow process with lots of dead ends). By Monday, I had come up with my maternal great-grandmother's name. On a whim, I Googled it. Almost nothing came up, but there was a post on a message board, from 2007, with a bit of information and a note that the poster had a photo including "Abby". Abby is my grandmother. I posted back, and received a gracious reply and this:
That's my grandmother on the right. Now really, how cool is that?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I think I should just take my sleeping bag

I feel as if I've spent more time this week at the Village Hall than at home.

Monday night: work at the library. Tuesday: election. Wednesday night: attend Public Works Committee meeting. Thursday: work at the library. Friday: work on a Woman's Club project using space in the village office (and their copier). This morning: work at the library.

Today was the only day that involved tromping through snow to get to the door.

While digging through closets I came across a skein of Lion Brand Homespun. So I'm using it up on a garter stitch scarf for the service project. And I'm almost half way up the back on the purple vest.
The back of the vest is, quite frankly, a little boring to work. So it's not going too fast. The scarf is mindless enough that I can work on it while talking or watching TV. The pattern stitch on the vest requires just enough attention that I can't, even though it is rather numbingly repetitive in it's own way. Oh well, I'll get to the armhole shaping soon. That should liven things up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A long day at the polls

I'm a bit groggy today. Yesterday was my second election as a poll worker. I was originally scheduled for 1pm to closing, but on Mon. the village clerk called in a bit of a panic because one of the morning workers was sick. So I did the whole day from set up (6:45 am) to last tally and reporting sheets (8:30 pm).

It was a really slow day. There was only one item on the ballot, a primary for the State Superintendent of Education. I brought my knitting, of course. So did most of the other poll workers. Morning to early afternoon there were two baby blankets. At shift change the knit baby blankets left, and a crochet baby blanket arrived. My project for the day was another pair of legwarmers for the KFO service project.

There was plenty of down time for chat so I learned all about 1) current uproar over the girls' basketball coach at the high school, 2) an invasion of snakes at the local hardware store (last summer, though they may be back come spring). We also discussed how recent changes by the local Internet service provider had messed up every one's email, and hashed over current events on a more national scale. General agreement on what some of the problems were: did not reach consensus on the solutions, but were cordial when differences of opinion arose.

In its own way, an interesting day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another kitchen towel

This time I decided to knit a topper separately and sew it on. I think the results are much neater this way.

This was completely improvised on the needles. In a nutshell: started with 12 sts, worked a couple of rows of garter, made a button hole, couple more rows garter; switched to double knitting for several inches to make the narrow strap; divided onto 4 dpns and worked in the round increasing 4 sts every other row until it seemed wide enough; worked a couple rounds even in stockinette, then 2 ridges of garter and bound off.

Sister Annie P has a knack for finding interesting art, and I love seeing what she finds. So excuse me, I have to go follow up on the links she has here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On to the Linen Closet

I've been sort of sliding on my stuff elimination resolution/goal. But today I tackled the linen closet (#16).

"Linen Closet" is sort of an honorary title. First off, nothing in it is actually made of linen. And secondly, "household linens" only occupy a small part of it.

The top shelf (half width) had a couple of hats: one a felt bowler and one Panama sun hat, some vintage hand knits, a "Christmas Sweater" with sequined Poinsettia. The Christmas sweater is now history. So, more reluctantly, is the Panama hat. It was a gift from a special person. But it flew off my head in the slightest breeze, so I never ended up wearing it.

Next shelf down held a jumble of sweaters and shawls. Mostly this one just needed straightening, but I did eliminate a couple lighter weight turtleneck sweaters and one wide scarf/shawl. I also found a wool pullover that I like and had completely forgotten - and in time to get some wear out of it yet this winter.

Third from the top: bed linens and socks (yes, I have too many socks to fit in my sock drawer. So?) Also spare soap, toothpaste, etc. I'm sending off two sets of sheets that fit a bed that used to be in this house. Also ditched a pair of knee high socks that had felted too much to fit. Also a pair of cotton socks that were too tight from the get-go.

Fourth shelf: towels and washcloths. Only one wrong color towel leaving, but I did tidy them up.

On the floor an assortment of cleaning supplies mutely but reproachfully reminds me that the best way to get rid of them is to actually use them. Um, yeah. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Purple Progress

Well, Bets, since you asked......

I've finished the last of the vest swatches (I think).

The top and bottom of the cable panel need some tweaking. I have some ideas worked out on paper, may or may not swatch them before starting the fronts, but I have enough info to start in on the back.

I've measured another vest that I like and added an inch to the circumference (because the other one tends to gap just a little bit across the chest) and about an inch to the length (because the other one falls just a bit short of the top of some of my jeans).

I've measured my gauge (though why, oh why, does my gauge always seem to change between the time I swatch and the time I start knitting on the real thing?) And I've plugged my numbers into "Knitwear Sweater Design 2.50". I like this program because it will give me a schematic with a superimposed stitch grid of the garment piece(s). This isn't exactly a stitch by stitch graph (for one thing, decrease angles are sort of averaged), but it gives me a good starting point. I'll need to make changes to allow for the fact that the gauge of the cable panel is different than that of the main patten stitch. And I'll take a red pencil to the neckline, to fit it more precisely to the panel. But I've got enough info to cast on for the back, and I'll twiddle with the graphs while I work on it.


My faorite aunt sent me this. Thanks Jo!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So- How's that Purple Vest Coming?

Still swatching.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I had a good time

at The Sow's Ear yesterday, and I came home with this:

It's a funny little sampler that is a basically a sock minus most of the leg and all the straight section of the foot. (I made it at a class taught by Nancy Bush, one of my knitting idols.) It has a heel turn and a toe construction that are both new to me, but in themselves are rather old. The class was based on a pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks, so the toe and heel come from sometime in the mid to late 1800's. It's a that book I don't currently own, but after seeing some of the samples I may want to pick it up.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the class was Nancy's introductory talk on her research for the book, and the place of her major source "Weldon's Practical Knitting" in the history of hand knitting. And I loved seeing her original models, both from the vintage socks book and a few from Knitting on the Road.

The top of the sampler is a bit flared, because she had us cast on with a double strand of yarn for a thicker and more elastic edge - a trick that seems worth repeating. The heel is called a "Welsh Heel" and is one of the many variations on turning a heel flap heel. It was pretty easy to work. The toe is unusual in that is worked like a standard wedge toe, but with three lines of decreases instead of two. Don't know that it has any particular advantages (other than avoiding grafting for those who dislike that maneuver), but it's always good to have another arrow in your quiver.

A pleasure completely unrelated to the class was walking through the store and spotting the original model of Elizabeth Morrison's "Kate" cardigan. It's just as pretty in person as in the picture.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Getting to Know You

I've knit up a first swatch with the yarn I want to use for my vest (Brown Sheep Superwash). This first swatch is partly to check gauge, and partly just to get to know the yarn - how it feels and behaves.


"How it behaves" so far is a fair amount of bias. I'll wash and dry it (which I would want to do for accurate gauge measurement anyway) and see if that helps at all.

This kind of biasing just seems to happen with certain yarns, though I've had more trouble with singles, and this is a three ply. I think I've read somewhere that it is more common for Continental knitters, of which I am one.

I suppose I could try again with the yarn in my right hand. It would probably be good practice. I do all right with "throwing" on the knit rows, it's the purl one's that will take some getting used to.

(Time passes)

I did knit a second swatch carrying the yarn in my right hand. It felt slowly and painfully awkward. And it still went on the bias.

So I washed both swatches and have laid them out to dry. Washing seems to have straightened things out considerably, and also to have changed row gauge a bit. So now I'll start noodling around with swatching pattern stitches.

I basically want a simple cardigan vest that comes just below my waist, with some sort of fairly easy cable running up each side of the front opening. But what cable? And what stitch for the edges and button bands? And maybe a subtle texture on the body, instead of all stockinette? Hmmmm.


It's been fun seeing what some of you probably won't knit. (Kitty Mommy, I'm pretty sure your's are ones I definitely won't knit).

I probably won't ever knit arugami (though I think some of them are really cute), but if I ever have a grandchild I may knit a nice floppy bunny toy.

I'm pretty sure I will never knit hot pants, but maybe someday a pair of "nethergarments" (a/k/a nice warm long underwear).

I don't think I'll ever knit a tote bag out of re-cycled strips of plastic grocery bags. I tried that once years and years ago and the process was so unpleasant I never finished it.

I doubt that I'll ever knit a Clapotis or a Baby Surprise or soakers - all perfectly valid items, just not on my list.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

If Straight Ain't Great

No, I'm still talking about legwarmers, what did you think I was talking about?

Maybe you said to yourself, "That talk about stretchy ribbing is all very well, but I still want more room at the top of mine."

OK, here is one way to do it. (There are probably dozens of other ways to approach this, undoubtedly many more elegant than this, but it's one way.)

Cast on 8 more stitches than you want to end up with at the ankle. (If you want to end up with 48 sts, cast on 56).

Work the 2 x 2 rib for half of your desired length.

Set up by placing a marker at the beginning of the round (if you don't already have one there), then k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, place another marker and finish the round in pattern. There should by 10 stitches between those markers.

Pretend the red marker is the beginning of a round.

First decrease round: Slip the marker, k1, ssk, p1, k2, p1, k2tog, k1, slip marker and complete round. There are now 8 stitches between the markers.

Work five rounds even in pattern, which means: when you come to a knit stitch, knit it; when you come to a purl stitch, purl it.

Second decrease round: Slip marker, k1, ssk, p2, k2tog, k1, slip marker and complete round. (6 sts between markers).

Work five rounds even in pattern.

Third decrease round: Slip marker, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, slip marker and complete round (4 sts between markers).

Work five rounds even in pattern.

Fourth decrease round: Slip marker,k2tog, ssk, slip marker and complete round (2 sts between markers).

From here on, work in k2, p2 rib until you reach your desired length.

Here's what the whole section looks like. Note that for shorter legs you could work just 4 even rounds between the decrease rounds. For really long legs you could go up to 6 even rounds.

Now that's enough, perhaps more than enough, on that subject. New topic: "I have never knit a _____, and probably never will." Discuss among yourselves.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How far around?

So, the legwarmers are just straight tubes of 2 x 2 ribbing. What if you have a shapely leg with a neatly turned ankle, and there is a significant difference between your calf and ankle measurements?

Well, the first thing to remember is that 2 x 2 ribbing is very stretchy. My ankle measures 8" and my calf measures 14". The straight tube fits with room to spare.

I think these could fit up to a 17" calf without cutting off circulation (as long as you remember to wear the stretchier cast on end at the top). But your gauge may be tighter than mine (or, less likely, looser).

Here's what I recommend. Cast on the 48 stitches and work about 2-3 inches, then try it on (see last post). Ideally, it will fit your ankle snugly without being stretched much and your calf not so tightly that you can't slip a finger under it.

If it is allover too loose you could go down a needle size, or cast on four stitches less. If it is allover too tight you could go up a needle size or cast on four stitches more. And if you are intending these to be worn over a pair of pants, rather than next to the skin, you may want to start with more stitches in the first place. (Any multiple of four stitches will work. My choice of 48 was an educated guesstimate.)

But what if it fits like a dream at the ankle and is just too darn tight up top?

The easiest thing to do is to start with larger needles (one size larger is probably sufficient) and change to smaller ones about half way down. (This is an old sock knitter's trick for accomodating a wide calf.)

An only slightly trickier option is to start with more stitches at the top and decrease them on the way down. More on that later......


While I have slowed a bit in the clearing out project, I have not given it up. Today was #15: Stuff from my grandmother's desk.

Note, this was not my grandmother's stuff, just things that had accumulated in the little drop leaf writing desk that was originally hers. It sits in a corner of our dining room and over the years I have been throwing things into it and very rarely taking any out.

A lot of sorting here. All this stuff plus a two inch stack of loose papers that is now headed for recycling were all jumbled up together. The writing pads are going upstairs to the real working desk. The rest is headed to the thrift store. I now have a beautifully empty drawer.
Nature abhors a vacuum. There is some nagging notion in the back of my mind that if you have a drawer you should put things in it. That is what a drawer is for. Nonetheless, I am going to resist. This particular drawer doesn't open and close easily. Things that go in are hard to get out. Better they shouldn't go in in the first place.

Sorting through the stuffed cubbyholes behind the drop leaf will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Long Enough

Barbara asked: "About the legwarmers, how long is enough? And what about those of us with queenly calves - how many stitches? Any ideas? "

How long? Well this long.

I like the top of my legwarmers to come a little below the knee. I'm 5' 7", which I used to consider tall, but these days is more like average. The item in the picture measures 11" when it is on my leg. However, it measures 12" when it is off my leg and laid flat. Whaaaa? Why is that? Because putting them on stretches the ribbing widthwise: and when ribbing is stretched widthwise it shortens lengthwise.

So my ballpark figure is: measure the length from your ankle to wherever you want the top of your legwarmers to fall, then add a good inch to that.

To my mind, the best thing to do is to try the first one on before binding off. If you have been working on two circs (or using the magic loop) this shouldn't be too hard. If you work, as I do, on double pointed needles you may want to slip the stitches onto a piece of waste yarn or a circular needle first. I generally don't bother with this, though.

If I have my stitches on three needles, (knitting with a fourth), I do arrange the stitches on four needles before trying on. Why? 1) fewer stitches per needle makes it less likely that any stitches will fall off the ends in the process, and 2) I have snapped smaller needles pulling the whole thing over my heel when the stitches have only been distributed on three. (Also, pull the legwarmer on cast-on edge first, so the needles are at the narrower, ankle, end of things.)

However you decide to manage it, try the thing on, pulling the top up to wherever you want it to be and figure how much longer you want it. Mark the round you are on, then knit the "how much longer".

Having now definitively and oh so precisely answered the length question, I'll try to address circumference issues in the next post.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dover does it again.

Amazing! Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting is going to be republished. I really love this book. The technical "how to" information is really helpful. The use of color is inspiring. There are lots of pattern charts. Yay! And the new release is being put out by good old Dover Books, so it is reasonably priced (Amazon is taking pre-orders for less than $20). Of course this shoots the investment value of my copy all to hell, but I don't care. I love to see a worthy book back in print.


I'm still working away on (decidedly not Fair Isle) legwarmers. I've finished one adult and one child size pair, and I'm working on a second adult set. These will be going to a service project. They are also a good way to put some of my odd balls of yarn to good use.


I'm mulling over possibilities for knitting a cardigan vest. I have some Lamb's Pride Superwash that I bought way last fall at The Sow's Ear.

It's the purple stuff over on the left, and I have eight balls, so that should be enough. Now what to do with it exactly? I'm thinking some sort of textured stitch, or maybe some cables somewhere. Hmmmmm.