31 December 2006

Knitting in 2007

I don't make New Year's Resolutions because they never seem to stick. I like the idea of reviewing my personal growth at the end of the year but if I need to make changes I am more likely to stick to it after January. (I know, I'm weird. I feel like there is too much pressure to make a change after the 1st. It seems more relaxing to mull over what I have found out about myself throughout Jan. and then decide if I want to make a concerted effort to change something.) However, I would like to set some knitting goals for 2007 and figured those could be my "resolutions".

1. Finish at least one of hubby's sweaters (probably the Leo since its the closest to being done)
2. Make a scarf for my best friend J in Boston (preferably by Feb. but since he has signed a contract to stay in Boston for another year, I've got some time)
3. Finish the Andi cardi that I promised to my friend (um yeah, we live in Florida and if its not done by the end of Jan. I'm toast since she won't be able to use it)
4. Make a stole for my mom (remember that Domovi shawl that just never reappeared on the blog, yeah I need to get back to that)
5. Make at least one EZ pattern (I'm thinking either the baby sweater in Knitter's Almanac or the saddle sweater in Knitting Without Tears)
6. Use the yarn I bought at Stitches East so I can justify buying more at the next Stitches
7. Knit at least two things for charity

I did finish the Wide Triangle from VLT but I don't like the way it blocked out. I'll show you pics next time and you'll understand. Also, I somehow started the Alpine Lace shawl...I'm hoping to have it ready to gift to my close friend who is getting married in Feb. Pics of that next time too.

May the new year bring you health, happiness, and yummy yarn!

25 December 2006


Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Solstice Day, Kwanzaa, Chanukah!!

May you have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of yarn!

20 December 2006

More Victorian Lace info

Can you tell that I am obsessed with this book? OK, on the sidebar you will see an additional file, a document that lists the yarn substitutions that I have read on the VLT KAL site and anywhere I may have come across someone writing about their VLT project.

If you want me to add anything, just let me know. I will try to keep it updated.

OK, I have only bought presents for hubby and my inlaws (with whom I am spending the Christmas holiday). Yikes, I am so not ready for Christmas. Hope you guys are doing better than me.

16 December 2006


You know what is great about the blogosphere, other than finding answers to almost any question I can come up with, is how friendly everyone is. I just got tagged by Sande for a meme. I had not actually read Sande's blog before but since we are both part of the VLT KAL its like we're part of the same club, practically friends. Having tagged me, I have now read her blog and feel like I know her a bit and she's pretty cool. Nice how that works, huh? Of course, if this happened in "real life" I would probably be much more aloof and not willing to embrace a new "friendship" so readily. (Blame it on my New York instincts that I tend to be suspicious of people the first time I meet them.)

Now I'm not usually a huge fan of memes but this one is interesting.

"THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog."

So, 6 "weird" things about me:

1. I have a tongue ring (basic metal barbell) but usually blush and get embarrassed if someone asks me about it.
2. My feet have to be at the absolute perfect temperature (give or take a few degrees) otherwise I cannot fall asleep. This usually means that my toes are sticking out from under the covers.
3. I like for things to be organized, am even known for my organization regarding work, but am very disorganized when it comes to my home life.
4. I was scared of dogs for many years, and only really got over it when I got a dog of my own. Now I have two dogs and am surrounded by 20+ dogs on a regular basis.
5. I doctor up my coffee (lots of milk and sugar) but like my tea straight.
6. Despite growing up in New York City, I don't really have an accent of any kind. If people ever do notice anything, they usually think it might be somewhat Southern! (All those years of living in the South have apparently left their mark.)

I prefer not to tag people--reminds me too much of chain mail--but you are welcome to join in the fun if you like. If you decide to do it, let me know and I'll add a link from my blog to your post.

The holidays are upon us and I have yet to buy any presents. Luckily, I didn't commit to making any presents so I don't have that additional stress. Today, I'm going out to buy hubby's present. I'm sure he knows what it will be but I'll be able to wrap it and put it under the tree before he gets home. Oh yeah, we got our first tree this year--I'm excited about it. We only got the tree (artificial), garlands and lights. I always wanted to have a memorable collection of ornaments so I'm asking my nieces and nephews to start making us some every year. The plan is to collect ornaments so that eventually each ornament will have its own story instead of having a bunch of matching store-bought ornaments. However, I don't think hubby can hold out that long to have a tree full of ornaments so I'll wait and see if he gives in to the temptation to just buy a bunch over the next few days.

09 December 2006

Joys of technology

After consulting the good folks on the Knitty boards, I have been able to upload my spreadsheet (in the sidebar) without having to pay for server space. woo hoo! Why did I bother? Well, I have joined the Victorian Lace Today knitalong and was already thinking about what I would want to do next. You may remember that I have that lovely Blue Moon Rio yarn that is begging to become a shawl. I was going through the book and putting little tabs in all the patterns that would possibly work (yardage being the key factor) and decided to just put all the info into a spreadsheet instead. Since I was already at it, I figured why not do it for all the patterns? Now, I can easily see what patterns would be possible fits for some of the yarn in my stash.

For those of you with the book, you are welcome to download the spreadsheet and see what yarns you have that may work. (Of course, you could also use it to help build a shopping list.)

I've been keeping very busy with the part-time work at doggie daycare and searching for some additional work to supplement the income. I have a lead but its not definite...keep your fingers crossed for me.

05 December 2006

Initial surgery a success
...but follow-up required more drastic measures

This will be a quick, picture-free post today. First, I went ahead and dropped down the two stitches back to the place where I had missed a YO. Since I have this project on Denise needles, I was able to just take the needles off the ends and put in those stoppers so that the stitches not in use would not slip off. Then I used smaller dpns, either a size 3 or 4 I don't remember, to knit back up. It was a little difficult to make three stitches where there had only been two before, but with the help of a very small crochet hook, I was able to do it. Unfortunately, as I looked at my work, victorious in my first knitting surgery, I also realized that there was no corresponding picot edge. doh! I must have been on auto-pilot and not realized what side I was on when I knit that row initially. So, despite my best efforts, I had to rip back the 10+ rows including the row with the Russian join. The join did not look good after the ripping but I added a little more twist and knit it very gently so I hope it will be OK in the long run. Since the part where the two strands were joined actually looked OK, I think the overall strength is probably fine. (It was just the ends of the join where it twisted back on itself that had loosened.)

Now, I'm back to where I was before so my progress picture looks like last time only without the mistake in it.

30 November 2006

Hats and lace

I've been busy with the part-time job and looking for full-time work. It is actually quite exhausting physically so there has only been minimal knitting at casa de stitchcounter.

First, I made another hat (preemie-sized) for the Hats for Alex using the Microspun I had left over from the first baby hat. (Its going in the mail today.)

If anyone can tell me what kind of plant that is, I would really appreciate it.

I have started A Wide Triangle from Victorian Lace Today. I was chugging along while I waited at the mechanic's. (The beads are from one of the big-box stores, just some glass beads in a coffee color.)

Please forgive the crappy looking patio furniture in the background. I am even making it out of the same yarn, same color as the one in the book. One thing I have noticed about these patterns (in addition to how gorgeous they are) is that the yarns used are easily found and not terribly expensive. I have no doubt that I'll be making more of these lace shawls.

Unfortunately, I came across a knot in the yarn. First, I tried to just knit a few stitches holding both ends together but decided that looked too bulky. Then I tried to weave in the ends while I continued knitting. Again, it looked too bulky when I would pull to get a sense of how it would look when I blocked it. I decided this was the perfect excuse to try a Russian join.

My join isn't as neat as Eunny's but its not too bad. Its a little easier to see if you click on it. I did need hubby to help by placing the second strand across the first.

It is hardly noticeable in the knitting itself:

I'll wait to see if those little ends are noticeable once it is washed and blocked. The yarn shouldn't bloom very much but I won't mess with it until the very end since I assume that area is pretty fragile. I was so focused on making sure I didn't pull the yarn too hard or mess up the join somehow, I missed a YO.

Now I'm going to attempt some lace surgery a la S. Kate (who does not appear to have a blog but is featured in this Yarn Harlot entry). Wish me luck!

Although there haven't been many FOs, my knitting has definitely improved since I started this blog a year ago.

16 November 2006

Some knitting, some laughing

I followed String Bean's pattern and I don't know what I did wrong but the baby hat looked much too long. I was going to send it anyway but then decided that I couldn't do it. So I frogged a couple of inches and changed the decreasing so it wouldn't taper as much. It will get washed tonight, blocked and then it is ready for sending. Maybe I'll get ambitious and try to make another one (maybe preemie sized) so I can use the rest of the Microspun.

My Denise needle set is included for scale. I think it is pretty cute. However, what is most important is that some little baby will have a soft, handmade hat its first few days in this world and I hope that will bring him/her some comfort.

On a completely different topic, there was a "cold" front here earlier in the week. By "cold" I mean that it dropped into the 50's at night and was still cool first thing in the morning. Personally, I like that weather. However, it is apparently too cold for the poor little, thin-skinned Cam. His teeth were chattering the other morning when we let the dogs out. I threw the ball to get him running so he was warm for all of 5 minutes. As soon as he had been standing around a little while, the teeth started chattering again. It was so sad. So that night when it was going to be cold, I was looking for something to keep him warm. (If he were a kid, he would demand that I delete these pictures and promise to never mention it again.)

(He looks a little like an alien, doesn't he?

I was laughing so hard when he trotted down the hall that there were tears streaming down my face. The old flannel pjs kept him warm but they did get in the way. Apparently, he got tangled up in them in the middle of the night and woke me up with a squeal. He managed to get himself untangled but obviously this is not a good solution. The following night I woke up to hear him pawing at his dog bed. When I woke up the next morning, I realized that he had moved the bed about 1.5 feet away from its normal place near the sliding glass doors. I guess the draft from the doors was more than he could take. I think we will need to find something to help keep him warm once the real winter weather hits. Although I could probably knit him something, I'm leaning towards putting my new steeking skills to use and morphing a sweater from the second-hand shop into a lovely, perhaps slightly felted covering for Cam.

11 November 2006

On a roll, babee

OK, in my excitement to show you the yarn from my trip, I forgot to show you the awesome gifts that Pam made for me. First, what looks like a bracelet is actually a row counter. I love it. I think it works better than the row counters I've bought because once you get used to moving the beads over, it takes very little time. In my experience, using the plastic row counter you attach to your needle is hard to advance without using both hands. I've also been known to use pencil and paper, but again that takes a little more time (and isn't nearly as pretty).

Isn't she a great friend? The second strand is a pattern row counter. You use it like a stitch marker but when you move to the next row in a pattern you use the next opening in the strand. Genius, no? These are based on Cristi's now famous technique. These are a little too small for my current projects but they are such a great idea that I'm sure they will make a debut when it is time for some lace knitting.

I also took a picture of the SWS in Natural Denim. I haven't started the Fuzzy Feet for me but will soon. Considering it can be done in a mere weekend, it will definitely be done before it gets cold enough to use them here in FL.

When I was at the store, I also picked up a little Microspun by Lion Brand. (I was hoping to score some of the newly released Cotton Ease but this stuff is also very soft and washer/dryer safe.) I know, I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head. However, this little skein is very important. It is destined to become a hat for a very special cause. Pam is trying to collect 198 hats by the end of November to commemorate the 198 days that Alex was alive. (Read the blog dedicated to him for some background and if you are a member of the Knitty board look for more details in the "knitalongs" section.) I've never made a baby hat before, but I made Fuzzy Feet so apparently I rule with dpns. (OK, I've probably angered the knitting goddess but it is for a good cause so maybe she will take pity on me.)

For those of you who are looking for a quick project, please think about contributing to this cause. String Bean has made a pattern specifically for this cause and you can find it here.

10 November 2006

Yummy yarns

One of the wonderful things about Stitches East was the market. I had a few constraints for the yarn I bought: it had to fit in my luggage (no cheating by buying another bag), it had to be on sale/not available online, and it would not exceed my spending limit. I managed to fall within those boundaries and still walk away with some fabulous yarns. Without further ado, prepare to drool.

The first purchase of the trip, fingering weight yarn from Liza Souza in the color "Gold". The skein is 1750 yds / 8 oz.!

Based on the famed long lines at all Blue Moon booths at other fiber gatherings, we stayed for the special market preview for attendees on Thurs. night. I could not resist the subtle coloring of the green "Rio" (rayon) yarn. I was debating whether or not I *really* wanted it when I saw the name. Come on now, with a name like "Pond Scum" there was no way I could walk away. I was a total fiber nerd and showed Jane Sowerby the yarn while she was autographing my copy of her new book, Victorian Lace. She recommended one of the simpler patterns so that the yarn would be the center of attention. (She laughed when she read the name on the label.)

(I apologize, I took multiple pictures of the yarn and none of them really capture how lovely this yarn really is.)

I kept circling Tess' Designer Yarns booth. Their yarns were so heavenly soft. Although they are quite affordable for what they are, it was going to be hard to justify spending so much of my budget on yarn for one project. However, I just couldn't stay away. Luckily, Alice noticed a stash of alpaca labeled at 150 yards/skein for $3. I believe that Alice, Pam, and I all walked away with about 10 skeins each. It is destined to be a cardi for me. Perhaps it will be one of my first original designs, we'll see.

It is so soft, even Cam has to see what the fuss is all about.

Again, my obsession with lace dictated that I find out what the Habu Textiles yarn was all about since it is used on a couple of different patterns in Victorian Lace. I was not disappointed. These yarns were not just well-packaged but they were also a good buy.

The Tsumugi (silk) yarn in colors #35 and #46:

Close-ups so you can better see the flecks of color in each of the yarns:

I can't wait to knit these up--I even got beads to go with the yarn but you'll have to wait to see those.

I couldn't resist some of there other great deals. In particular, I got these two cones (747 yds / 1 oz each) of fine merino wool in color #77:

After taking the picture, I realized they didn't quite look like the same color although the labels show the same color number. I didn't see any dyelot information so I may use them stranded together or for two separate projects.

The other yarn I got at Habu was their ramie yarn. The bloom from this yarn (they had swatches and project samples hanging above the yarn displays) was phenomenal. I don't know what this will be but it will be very wispy when I'm done with it.

Now, I just need to get cracking with the knitting. I have made a deal with myself, I have to use at least half of all this yarn before I can buy more at next year's event. I'll be spending lots of time trying to finish off some of my UFOs this weekend so I can start knitting for me, me, me. :-)

09 November 2006


So, I knew before I started that I would have to watch the SWS closely during the felting process. Pam had warned me, the kind souls on the Knitty board cautioned SWS users about its quick-felting properties. I even set the timer for 15 mins. intervals. After the first 15 minutes, nothing, there wasn't even a hint of felting. Although the second 15 min. interval fell in the middle of eating (so I was a little late removing it from the machine), I don't think that was the problem. Seriously, these Fuzzy Feet shrunk really fast. The colors still look fabulous and I'm hoping that these will fit one of our nephews or nieces so they can find a happy home.

Aren't the colors lovely?

Here's a picture which includes my shoe for context:

Ain't no way that was going to fit.

I already purchase more SWS in the Natural Denim colorway (3 skeins this time just to be safe) to make another pair for me. Given the rate of shrinkage from the unfelted to felted version of the Fuzzy Feet, I'll have to make each one about 14.5 inches. Won't those look silly pre-felting?

07 November 2006

Good times with friends and yarn

I went to Stitches East last week and it was great! First, it meant that I got to hang out with my friend, Pam. I don't think I realized just how much I missed having a knitting buddy. Of course, hanging out with Pam (and her hubby) is fun no matter what. I also met Roxy and AliceC from the Knitty boards. They were very cool (no big surprise there). It was so energizing to be surrounded by so many knitters and see people's creations. Despite being quite tired from the whole trip, I came home with lots of ideas and more drive to finish what I've got so far so I can hurry up and get to my new projects.

I had a class with Judy Pascale, "Measure, Modify, and Knit." She also threw in some finishing techniques at the end which were new to me. Let's just say that I am seriously thinking about ripping out the Leo sweater and redoing the armhole shaping. The armhole finishing she showed us looked so good that I think it is going to be worth the additional effort.

Pam and I also took the "Dive into Design" with Fiona Ellis. She was funny, personable and you can tell that she enjoyed being there with us. True to the title of the class, she just had us jump right in without talking very much about techniques or guidelines. Although afterwards I realized I probably could have used a cable stitch dictionary, it was freeing not to think about what is "right" or most pleasing. Those 3 hours just flew by. (After the class was over, I ran to the market area to buy her book so she could autograph it. It was so cool to stand around chatting with her while she signed it.)

If you can ever go to one of the Stitches events or take a class with either of these fabulous knitters, do it!

The other Stitches events I attended were also wonderful. I even felt I got something out of Kaffe Fassett's talk about color. Now, I have never done intarsia and have little experience with Fair Isle so most of my color work is really based on using variegated and/or hand-dyed yarns. However, it was his sense of humor and some explanations of his thought processes when he looks at the world that struck a cord. I'm still not running out to do any intarsia but it does make me think about the possibilities.

In the last year, I have discovered that I have a real weakness for lace. So, of course, we went to the Victorian Lace Style Show. The scarves, shawls, and stoles were all so lovely. Jane Sowerby, the author, was also down-to-earth and witty. Afterwards, I had to buy her book and get it autographed. She was just as cool when we met her as she seemed on the stage. There are pictures in the latest IK and on the web of these wispy creations and all I can say is that they are more lovely in person. If you have any interest in lace, definitely pick this book up. She even has a (short) section in the back on how to create your own lace designs and how to personalize the patterns she presents by using different borders.

The market at Stitches was also remarkable in and of itself. I managed to keep my spending (just barely) under the maximum I had set for myself. I have also told myself that I can't buy more at next year's event unless I have used at least half of what I bought this year. Considering how luscious those purchases were, that shouldn't be a problem. Since it is rainy outside I will wait to take pictures of my loot but, trust me, it will be worth it.

As an added benefit to hanging out with Pam, I knit my first socks! OK, they are Fuzzy Feet so there are big needles and medium weight yarn involved but Pam assures me that it counts. It was also cool to have an almost finished project in one weekend.

Here's the finished, pre-felting picture:

The Fuzzy Feet in the wild (don't those colors look scrumptious?):

The yarn is Paton's SWS in Natural Earth. I could not believe how soft this yarn was. It is a single-ply, softly spun. The color changes are gradual, just how I like them. Pam was saying that this yarn would probably be good for the pattern Lizard Ridges, perhaps another project to add to the list.

There will be some felting tonight and hopefully it will clear up so I can take some decent pictures of the yarn I bought. Happy knitting indeed. :-)

25 October 2006

A little late

So you want to see some swatches? You know you do. C'mon, who doesn't want to see swatches?

OK, seriously, I usually get gauge with the recommended yarn weight and needles. Why has this not happened this time, I have no idea.

Here's an overall look at my swatches using (from left to right) a size 4, 5, 6, and 7 needles:

Hmm, not real helpful that photo...

a close-up of the swatch using the size 4 needle

a close-up of the swatch using the size 7 needle

Sorry for the poor picture quality, it was overcast when I took these pictures. Trust me, there is a difference between them.

The pattern calls for 20 stitches/24 rows per 4'' which translates into 5 stitches/ 6 rows per inch. Now what did I get? Not gauge, that's for sure.

size 7 needle = 4.32 stitches/ 5.5 rows per inch
size 6 needle = 4.4 stitches/ 5.7 rows per inch
size 5 needle = 4.7 stitches/ 6.2 rows per inch
size 4 needle = 4.8 stitches/6.25 rows per inch

I definitely like the tighter fabric that I get with the smaller needle. Since the gauge is not too different I should be able to get by with minimal changes. What worries me? At some point in the pattern, I'm supposed to switch to smaller needles (size 4 in the instructions) and get a gauge of 28 stitches/32 rows per 4" using the same yarn. (The yarn I'm using as a sub does not come with sequins or beads so I'm sticking with the plain silk. I know, I could string the beads or sequins myself, but I'm not ready for that.) Now if I was supposed to get the smaller gauge with a size 4 but am getting close to the larger gauge with the size 4, does this mean that I will need to switch to a size 1 needle to even come close?! Apparently the swatching adventures will continue because I'll need to figure that out next before I can even start.

23 October 2006

Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?*
*Lyrics to Weird Al's 2006 release "White and Nerdy".

OK, I didn't mean to leave the blog unattended for so long. Apparently I got the summer slow down bug late. Seriously, I have not knit a single stitch in about 2 (maybe 3) weeks. I haven't even bought yarn in well over a month. Crazy, I know. I've just been obsessed with...um...not doing anything. This whole "not having a steady job" thing is a real drag. I've been networking and doing some random work at the doggie daycare but all that has been a drain on what energy I do have. People, I have been working at least part-time since I was 16. Making the transition to housewife was just supposed to be temporary so I'm feeling a little lost. I know I should enjoy this time to myself and spend some time reflecting but being a housewife involves lots of busy work. I mean, with the two dogs, there is always a need to vacuum, and there is always laundry. It wouldn't hurt to clean up the kitchen regularly and then there is dusting, grocery shopping and paying the bills. It doesn't sound like much but somehow it eats up my days. I cannot believe that it is almost November. I'm leaving for Stitches East next Tues. Yikes. I better work on getting my knitting groove back.

So here I am, re-committing myself to the blog and my knittting. Before I fell off the wagon, I did work on some swatches for the Simple Knitted Bodice with the Estelle 100% silk from Busy Hands. All I can say is that it is a good thing I bought an extra skein because I made 4 swatches and even using a size 4 needle I couldn't get gauge. Normally, I am not a loose knitter so I don't know what is going on there. Since its dark out and the swatches are still drying, I'll share pics tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, feel free to enjoy Weird Al's video. It cracks me up every time. :-)

21 September 2006


I had a really great yarn exchange with Tesoro from the Knitty Coffeeshop. She graciously took the 10 skeins of hemp/cotton, and in exchange I got these wonderful goodies:

The Takhi Yarns fall/winter 2003 collection, two cakes of a black/burgundy Cascade 220, Lamb's Pride Bulky in Almond Blosson, and in Aubergine. (Sorry the yarns are dark so the color isn't very good but trust me these are great colors.) As a bonus, Tesoro threw in 3 stitch markers using my favorite color, sage green.

My friends, I am a happy camper. This won't come as a surprise to you, but yarn can make just about anything better.

Because I can be a space cadet, I apparently forgot to show you the cool gift I got from my One Skein Secret Pal last month. She sent me the cutest clutch:

Now, these are not my usual colors *but* how cute is it? A little pocket that matches the strap, and a personalized tag are all part of the allure of this clutch. Not to mention, it is perfect for my wallet, keys, and cell phone. It has inspired me to think about making my own clutch using a mosaic pattern using the Lamb's Pride yarn, or perhaps some double-knitting a la Twig's hat. I like that cream and aubergine combination and it would make a perfect fall bag.

Because I can't resist, here are the doggies:

My MIL (who loves her grandpuppies) brought them each their own Steelers neckerchief. Yes, "neckerchief" not to be confused with a handkerchief or bandana. My hubby grew up in the Pittsburgh area so they are "Stillers" fans. Personally, I think they look as cute as heck in their matching neckerchiefs.

For those of you interested in doggie daycare, it can be really great. It is extremely physical work, which can be tiring. The owner boards dogs at her home so they are constantly with her. Now, I need some down time, down time that is quiet and allows for some serious vegging on the couch so I don't think I'm cut out to have my own doggie daycare. (You may want to forgo the boarding but it is my understanding that this is a significant source of income.) However, unlike your human co-workers, the dogs are always happy to see you. They can be very sweet and can immediately boost your energy. The tough part is when they get competitive and maybe a little too rough.

Exhibit A:

(Please ignore the unattractive stretch marks. I grew quickly when I was about 10, and then apparently stopped.)
This is what happens when you pull two dogs apart who are quickly escalating past playing. I grabbed one dog by the collar and before my co-worker could grab the other dog, the loose dog nipped the dog I had by the collar, and when that dog whipped his head around to retaliate, he got my knee instead. Luckily, I did have him by the collar so he couldn't get his head all the way around and I was wearing long pants so his teeth didn't nick me. Two seconds later, the dog who got me was trying to lick me. The beauty of living in the moment, the dog was back to his usual happy self. What can I say, you can't stay mad at them when they look at you with all that devotion.

18 September 2006

Ups and downs

So much has been going on. First, the week before last I actually worked almost full-time at the doggie daycare. (They were short a person for the week.) On a good day, I'm coherent after a very strong cup of coffee and a few hours to ease into the day. Showing up at 8:30am to attend to 15+ rambunctious dogs is a little tough for me. I have grown to really enjoy working with the dogs but a full day (well, until 3:30pm or 4pm) is a bit much. Lots of physical labor (picking up after the dogs, keeping them from getting too out of hand, and no fighting) is....well, frankly, hard. At the end of the week, it was also demoralizing to see my paycheck. Seriously, I made more money at my afterschool job in high school.

Last week I was motivated to up the ante with the job hunting. Applied to many jobs, haven't heard from any of them. On Wed. there was a city-wide job fair. Good, right? Well, after making the rounds, even the staffing agencies said that they didn't really know what they could do for me. Forget my five years work experience, the fact that I was in line for a manager position, and have a master's degree--nope, they cared about how many words per minute I could type. Apparently, the employment market around here consists of opportunities for engineers and customer service (lots of call centers). Let's just say I came home and wanted to wallow in self-pity, preferrably with a very strong drink.

So the last two weeks, I have felt rundown and depressed--I haven't even wanted to knit. Like I wasn't already on edge, my inlaws were coming for the weekend. I actually really like my inlaws but it inspires a frenzied need to get my house in some semblence of order before they arrived. My poor husband, I don't think he really knew what to do with the fact that I kept breaking down in tears and then ordering him around to help me pick up the house. (Um, yes, I was also pre-menstrual and I really do have terrible mood swings some months. Of course, he is not allowed to point that out.)

Well, today, some of the angst is gone and I'm trying to focus on the good. I get to play with my own doggies, I am home when my hubby comes home, and I have time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Now that I'm not feeling so down, I can spend time on knitting.

Without further ado, here is the box-lace shawl pattern from Folk Shawls as a throw in Caron's One Pound of Love yarn in Peach

You can just see the box-lace coming together. It is getting to the point where the pattern is becoming more intuitive.

I also maybe bought some yarn...WEBS was having a sale, what could I do? Technically, I wanted the soft pink color and a blue color so I could make shrugs for my nieces. However, I apparently made a mistake and ordered the green color. I was switching between the color card on Yarndex and the WEBS order site.

I maybe also took advantage of the sale at Busy Hands Yarn, and bought some Estelle 100% silk yarn. Isn't it yummy? I'm hoping to turn this into a Simple Knitted Bodice by Stefanie Japel. I even joined the knitalong to motivate me to finish it in a timely fashion.

The crimson color doesn't come across well on the computer. Its actually more pink than I thought it would be based on the website photos. However, I think it will still work for me. Because, of course, this is going to be for me, me, me. heh, heh,heh.... I just need to start finishing some stuff. (Famous last words.)

11 September 2006

So much...

I didn't realize how long it had been since I last posted. First, I bought more Denise needles at Busy Hands Yarn.

The needle set was on sale, so how could I resist getting a second set? I also got the longer cords--the blanket I was working on has used up all the extra cords from my original Denise set.

Over the holiday weekend I worked on the Andi cardigan from Rowan's Linen Print collection.

(Sorry about the poor lighting, the flash washed out the pattern completely.)

I am using the Sandy print, color 343. This is for a friend of mine who is getting married next month. (Yikes! I just realized that doesn't leave me much time to finish.) When I offered to make her something, I thought she would ask for a shawl or maybe even a purse but she wanted a "holey" wrap. I am enjoying the pattern, it was going smoothly until the armhole shaping. After some assistance from the wonderful people at the Knitty Coffeeshop, I am back on track. The yarn is actually pretty cool, I like the color changes. The only down side is the fact that I have to join new yarn at the end of a row. The yarn is a bulky weight and chain construction so none of the other joining methods I usually use would work. This means that I have some very long ends to deal with later.

The Leo sweater continues to come along. I am almost finished with the front. Who knows, it may actually be done in time for hubby to wear once it cools down around here.

For those of you who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11th tragedies, you have my utmost sympathies.

25 August 2006

Knitting Techniques
(*picture heavy post)

I haven't done much knitting the last few days but I have been reading about knitting. As I've been looking at some patterns and reading other people's experiences with them, I realized that I don't know enough about technique. Now, I can (usually) follow directions and get something that looks roughly like the picture that goes with the pattern. By reading blogs of those who know more than me, I have been humbled by the way other knitters just seem to know things--things like how to make jogless stripes in a sweater knit in the round, tips about when to bind off for a neck, when you want to put the stitches on a stitch holder, variations on left-leaning and right-leaning decreases, the way that different increases can be used as design features, and (the truly impressive) adding short rows and still maintaining the pattern.

According to some of the knitting books I've read (a few of EZ's books and currently reading Knitting in Plain English), once you know how to knit and purl, you are free to try anything. Actually, Righetti explains how once you understand how to do a knit stitch you are set to go. Well, when I first learned to knit that was essentially what my friend said. She started me off on a sweater, pictured below:

I only knew how to knit English, so I just held strands of all the colors in my right hand and just used whatever color was needed for a particular stitch. I didn't know about tacking the floats down every 3 or 4 stitches so I just carried along until I needed the color. Here are a couple of pics of the inside of the yoke:


I knew nothing about gauge and didn't own a tape measure, so I "eye-balled" the lengths--not good. The finished sweater, from neck band to the bottom is 30.5 inches. At first, I considered giving this to my boyfriend at the time who was over 6 feet tall (I knew nothing about the boyfriend sweater curse at that time). When he showed little interest in it, I decided to keep it. Let us just say that the few times I wore it, it came down to about mid-thigh. However, I went to school in the south so I only got a chance to wear it about twice a year, on the coldest days with leggings.

One of the main problems with this sweater (beyond the fact that it is waaaay too big):

That's right, I knit the ribbing on one sleeve tighter than the other. Even for me, that tight ribbing makes it hard to wear it comfortably. Also, I knew nothing about blocking so after I finished the sweater I took it to get dry-cleaned. I knew enough not to wash it like normal laundry since it was made from wool but not enough to avoid the dry-cleaner. It came back with a ton of pills. I was so upset that I took it back. I made the dry-cleaner cut off the pills but it has never been quite as smooth since.

At some point I should just recycle the yarn (felted bag?) but the sentimental value as my first knit project has stopped me. Now that I live in Florida, and have made many other knit items, I think I may be able to part with it.

Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about knitting (oh the arrogance of youth), my second project was a sweater for my mom. Now, over 10 years later, it is still not done.

the front:

the back:

one sleeve where you can barely make out the eyelet pattern (I'm not sure who told me that it was best to make them at the same time but they are both on the needle):

Again, I didn't have a tape measure so the back and front measure a mere 16.5 inches from the shoulder to the bottom. Granted, it is supposed to have a crocheted bottom edge, and cropped, boxy sweaters were much more in fashion back then but it is still too short. At a minimum, I should have made the large size for my mom just because this would have been too small for her taste anyway.

I did both with just the knowledge of how to knit and purl and how to read directions. In retrospect, I really needed some more basic information on finishing and the correct way to seam projects, information you can get from a good "learn to knit" book. Not that my lack of finesse has stopped me from continuing on my knitting journey. :-)

I have started reading some "standard" knitting books and blogs entries on techniques to get a clue. The phoney seams that EZ describes, genius. The personal research that Nona does on different knitting techniques, riveting. I can't say enough about Eunny's descriptions of how to master lace, steeks, grafting, and cables. (As soon as her techniques book is available, I am going to run right out and get it.) I already have a rather frightening queue of projects, but now I have additional projects that I want to try just to practice techniques.

Needless to say, I am going back to my reading and research.

17 August 2006


As the deadline for the One Skein Secret Pal nears, I felt like I really needed to just focus on the Dream Swatch project. Unfortunately, once I got the hang of crossing the stitches, the pattern got a little...well, boring. Now don't get me wrong, I think the finished product is pretty cool and the bamboo yarn was lovely. However, its a long time to be repeating the same six rows, not to mention its only 30 stitches wide so it was hard to get into a real knitting rhythm before it was time to cross stitches again. I would make this again but I would probably vary the rows of stockinette and possibly the number of stitches that get crossed.

Here it is blocking:

That's right, it is the same length as the queen size bed (aka blocking board). It really does look very pretty, here's a close-up:

Now, some time ago I mentioned getting some hemp/cotton yarn from a coop. After doing some swatching and looking at patterns, nothing is calling to me. I bought this from the coop because they needed more people to buy yarn to make the purchasing minimums. Its not really next-to-the-skin soft and most people have been making market bags out of it. However, its not really what I wanted so I'm hoping to trade it for something else.

Pics of the 10 skeins up for trade, each skein is 4 oz, 250 yds:

One skein was used for swatching, I am happy to include that bit of yarn as well since you can then undo it and re-knit to figure out your own gauge. (I think I got about 4.5 stitches per inch on size 8 needles.) It is the hemp/cotton yarn from Hemp Traders in natural. The color in the picture is a little washed out because its overcast outside. (Genny is already in hiding in preparation for the thunderstorm that is threatening.) The color in this swatch is a little better.

Oh yeah, remember that poncho I started for my niece? Apparently, ponchos are out so I frogged it and am going to use the yarn to test out the pattern for the Box-Lace Shawl from Folk Shawls. It is an acrylic yarn so I'm thinking this will be used as a throw. If its cute enough after its done, it might still go to one of the nieces for Christmas. I'll post a pic once I have more than two rows of garter stitch.

For your viewing pleasure, I leave you with a few cute photos of the doggies.

Genny and Cam laying down on the same bed after I told them it was time for bed.

Genny in her favorite safe place, peaking out from under the bed: