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Monday, July 14, 2014

At Loose Ends

Friday, July 11.

I don't know what I want to knit next.  I'm almost done with two sweaters. They just need finishing, sewing/weaving in ends.  Not surprisingly, I've been procrastinating finishing. 

My Stella Dolman top needs to be sewn/ends woven in. 

I've finished knitting Davis, but I'm not sure if I'm happy with the neck. The pattern called for picking up stitches and binding off.  Instead I knit a roll neck. Only problem is, it's not rolling in the back.

I finished my first Customfit sweater and absolutely loved the experience.  More on that another day.

Now I'm betwixt and between.  I started Open Waters, which is fine.  What a pleasure to be on #8 needles. I'm also using stash yarn from at least 5 years ago, Ellyn Cooper's Grand Crinkle (Worsted: 100% Rayon, 100 yards). This is a (mostly) mindless poncho pattern.

I just picked up Not Just Plain Jane's Super Crescent Renaissance Shawl pattern.

Store samples that need knitting.

Design ideas that need work.

There are three babies on the way (friends becoming Grandmothers).

Holidays need to be considered.


Monday, July 14

After overwhelming myself with my knitting "to do" list, I settled in to finish the two sweaters that were done. 

Here is the key to doing the tedious finishing work, phone a friend and pickup your sewing needle.  Time flies when your catching up and before I knew it, I was done sewing. 

In answer to my concerns about Davis, I tacked down the roll neck. The yarn is Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy (DK: 41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon, 153 yards). I did a little modifying with the pattern.  I didn’t like how the fabric looked at 15 sts/4” stated gauge - it was very sloppy looking.  I’m knitting a bigger size at 19 sts/4” to achieve the smallest actual size. I’ve bought a couple of extra skeins to account for the change in gauge. It worked like a charm, I'm happy to say. 

I used a #8 needle on my knit row and #7 needle on my purl row.  I've learned that my purl stitches are looser and create random acts of sloppy big looking stitches.  This seems to mitigate that.  I've been doing this a lot lately with good results.  Interchangeable needles make this quite easy, #8 on one end and #7 on the other. When I knit in the round (to the armholes and the sleeves, I used #8's.

 My friend Cynthia taught me how to knit fair isle and I brought my #28 Mobius Cowl to show her my progress. Having brought that out of hibernation, I knit another motif. (No comment on the closed eyes, we are focusing in the knitting, remember.)

All that and I still didn't answer what's next. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frog, Fix or Finish

I learned to weave two years ago.  I've woven four scarves and a cover for a throw pillow.  Beth brought the book, Kismet, into the shop and I loved how they combined knitting and crochet with weaving. I chose Wine & Roses,  an infinity scarf. I enjoy mixed media project.  

I had two skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky (Bulky:100% Merino, 121 yards) and one skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson (Worsted: 100% Merino, 250 yards).  The chunky yarn isn't really chunky and was close enough (for me) to the Hudson. 
The first new thing I had to do was weave in allllll the warp threads.  Not fun.  That's why it went into hibernation.  I knew I wanted to finish this so I forced myself to weave in the ends one morning.
 Tucker had other plans.  He was feeling needy because his Momma (Thing #2) was dog sitting a puppy at our house. He rarely tries to sit on my lap and never for very long; he has a very short attention span.  Would you believe he sat on my lap for an hour!

I kind of liked the puppy cuddles so I went with it.  I did get a little bored though and took a few "selfies" with him.

When he finally got fidgety himself, I got back down to business.

Once I finished weaving in the warp threads, the directions called for picking up stitches and knitting in moss stitch for 15".  I crocheted across the bottom to make a nicer pick up edge.  Then being that I am a selective reader, I did seed stitch instead of moss stitch.  By the time I realized, I wasn't going back.  Seed Stitch vs. Moss Stitch in a scarf - not a deal breaker.

Life being what it is, I did find six random acts of ribbing 3" down that I did have to fix though. I used the fixastitch knitting tool to work the seed stitch up. I did a yarnover bind off to create button loops.

With the yarn I have left over, I'd like to knit the Lucy Hat. Hopefully I have enough, because I think the hat/scarf combo would be awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wednesday Stitch and Chat

Lois hadn't knit in a while so I helped her find her place on her Holy Cowl.  The yarn is Road to China (Aran: 65% Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere, 69 yards). 

 Michelle found this pattern, Seaside Stripes Blanket

Not surprisingly, she wants to modify it to be smaller (it's what we do).  She knit enough rows for me to get a rough idea of her row gauge.  Then I set about doing the math to make the pattern work for 30" x 36" baby blanket.

6 rows = 1"
36" - 3" (border) = 33"
33" x 6 = 198 rows

From there we worked the stripe pattern to fit with the rows she had left. It took a little jiggery-pokery with the math, but we got there.

Since I'm writing this post a few days after Stitch and Chat, I can share her progress. As you can see, she added a contrast color.

The Westport Yarns Stash Amnesty program has been a great motivator. Michelle sorted through her yarns and found more than a few with ample yardage to knit a vest or shell.  We sorted through the yardage and weights to come up with a plan.

Mary started a block for her Outer Block Blanket.  She was concerned that the size of the block was too big.  It was actually right on gauge.  It's just a super bulky yarn/blanket.

Mary knit a couple of rows past the armhole of the left front of her Kersti Baby Cardigan; knit with Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe (DK: 100% Merino, 114 yards). We ripped back the couple of rows.

While looking for stash to donate to Westport Yarns, Mary found three projects that have been hibernating in long-term parking for years.  One is the Sasha Linen Skirt.  This has many layers of different lace patterns with sport weight linen yarn on small needles.  It went back into long-term parking again. The second is Summer Flies.

The third project was going to be a sweater coat.  Mary has lost so much weight that to continue to make this coat as is would be ridiculous.  However, we had the brilliant idea that she could knit a rectangular poncho and thus keep knitting till the length measured 56" or she ran out of yarn.  The yarn is Ironstone Island Cotton (Super Bulky: 69% Cotton, 31% Rayon, 150 yards).

Most of Elizabeth's yarn is in storage while her house is being rebuilt (Hurricane Sandy) and hopes we will do the Stash Amnesty again next year.  I'm pretty sure we will.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


As I share the joy of having dogs, I'll share some of the sadness too.  Yesterday we had to put down Boris, our Yellow Lab.  It was a very sad day and will bring tears to our eyes for quite a while. His health was rapidly declining and we wanted him to pass with dignity. 

Boris came into our life as an "oops" dog.  We had gone to a pick up a Golden Retriever (Winkie).  Joe and Thing #2 fell in love with Boris and his perpetually confused look (his brows were always furrowed).  

My husband wrote the tribute below; I couldn't have said it better.

Sadly it's time to say goodbye to a good friend Boris. Boris lived his life as a "dog's dog"...


with a youthful spirit, a playful heart,

 and was the loyalist of friends never wanting more than a belly rub, his head scratched, a stick to chew on and 2 bowls of food every day... although he wasn't "dog friendly", he was people friendly... and everyone loved him...

He was an icon on our front lawn, where drivers would slow to "say hi", walkers would bring treats...and even the UPS and FedEx guys would slow down to toss him a biscuit, even if they didn't have a package to deliver.

He loved to chase snowballs (even after they disappreared into the snow) and swim in the pool, barking at the water being splashed...as he would always keep a watchful eye on the kids when they swam making sure they got to the steps.... but his favorite game was "find the stick" (no matter how small it was, or where I threw it in the yard)... he wouldn't stop until he found the exact twig I threw...and he would bring it back - every time!... 

He would turn 12 on Friday, unfortunately he's not going to make it... it's just not right or fair to extend his "existence" as it is not... a dog that was so full of life should not spend his final days alone in his crate.... we are sorry to see him go... but a dog with his dignity deserves to go out with it... so yesterday at 5pm, we said our final goodbye... and sent him to hang out with Rexx, Rocky and is buddy Winkie... all of which should be chiseled into the Mount Rushmore of Dogs!

For those of you wondering... I am fine, and accept that this is part of the responsiblity of the friendship (not ownership) with our canine friend... we are here to make their lives more fulfilled... as they are for ours. When the time comes, we have to be there for them, as they have been for us...

Bye, Boris.  We loved you and we will miss you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Frog, Fix or Finish

Thing #2 has been on me for years (exactly how many is a source of constant discussion) to knit her a black lace sweater.  She claims I promised her.  I know I would NEVER promise a black lace sweater.  However, she put on the guilt about never getting a sweater.  It's been a long time coming.

I finally found the pictures that spawned the idea in the first place.

Thing #2 was shopping with her BFF and texted me these pictures.  For the record, my computer shows November 2011.  She claims it's been more like 4 or 5 years. 


Given that she felt that I promised, I settled on Cascade Ultra Pima (DK: 100% cotton, 220 yards) and swatched. I tried out Sweater Wizard to generate a pattern for her.  (Jury is out on Sweater Wizard). By Hanukkah, I had all the pieces done.  I gave it to her in pieces for Hanukkah, I needed to check sleeve length.

Feeling that I'd gotten the ball rolling and it was winter, I set the sweater aside.  There it sat in a Hanukkah gift bag for the past 5 months.  I finally shook off the dust and measured the sleeve length against her arm.

I knit it a little longer, than happily bound off and blocked it.  I was feeling very happy with myself. Both in blocking and sewing, I noticed that the sleeve width was much narrower than the sweater. 

I just kept sewing away, gathering it in - not listening to the little voice that said "Something is just not right." (You get points if you know what book this came from.)

Still feeling quite happy with myself, I laid the sweater prominently so she would see it right away.  She did.  However when she tried it on, the sleeves were WAY too tight.  You're not surprised are you? Ready for the major knitting faux pas?  This is a doozy.  I forgot to knit the sleeve cap.  DUH!

I had to frog it, and begin again.  Just the sleeves that is.  I am determined to finish this.  I'm working them at the same time to insure they are even.  Cross your fingers.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rainy Days and Yarnia

For the past few months I have been "throwing things" into Yarnia: patterns, class outlines, random acts of yarn, you name it. You can see some of the stuff in the upper left.  There is even a bag of yarn from Knit Together which closed seven years ago.

Finally I had a day off and it was rainy outside so I didn't feel compelled to be outside.  Since my husband had a meeting at the house, I decided to further tether myself to the process by staying in my pj's and not putting on make up.  This way there was no way I was going downstairs and therefore could not be distracted.

At one point, all three kids and two of the dogs decided to join me.

It was a welcome interlude.

Needless to say, that slowed up my progress. 

Another impetus was the upcoming Westport Yarns Stash Amnesty.

 I found several yarns that I decided to part with using the same logic as when you clean out a clothes closet.  Namely, if I haven't knit with it in two years, give it away.  This only worked up to a point, then emotion kicked in. 

There are some yarns in my stash I truly want to knit and have forgotten about. 

 And some yarns I truly doubt I'll ever use.

Then there was the random shuttle wrapped with two different yarns.  I have no idea what I was planning with this.

At the end of the day, Yarnia was saved from disorder... for now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Do you have a whisk?

I've noticed that a lot of the sweaters I've been drawn to lately are designed for fingering weight yarn. Being a loose knitter, this can pose a problem - as in "are there needles small enough for me to get gauge with?"

Last year I learned that if you get random acts of loose stitches in your knitting it is because your purl stitch is looser than your knit stitch. The way to remedy this is to purl on a needle one size smaller that you knit with. I've been swatching this way on stockinette fabrics and it has made a world of difference. Where before there "ain't no needle small enough" now I can knit get gauge.

 © Tamara Erbacher

This pattern is called Raiun.  I love it's simplicity and lines.  I chose Cephalopod Bugga, Man of War colorway (Sport: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 400 yards).

The gauge is specified as washed and blocked using a #6 needle.  With an inward sigh, I knit two swatches and washed and blocked them.  I have to admit the difference was significant. (Oh, who am I kidding?  It was an outward sigh.) First I swatched with a #4 & #3, no good, stitches were a little too big.  Then I swatched with a #3 & #2 and it was perfect.  The washed/blocked swatch just melted into place.

Next I had to figure out size. This was a little puzzling at first because the sweater is not intended to close.  The designer has a detailed schematic with measurements for all the sizes.  This was very helpful.  I measured the cross back of a sweater I liked and compared that to the measurements in the pattern.  Voila, size picked.

I was enjoying knitting the sweater so much I didn't stop to take any progress pictures.  It's knit from the top down so there were no seams. Truth be told I was on a self induced deadline.  My goal was to wear the sweater when we had the Cephalopod Trunk Show, specifically when Sarah (Owner/Dyer) was going to be in the shop.

Here it is pre-blocking.  I finished the knitting the day before deadline - NOT including blocking.  It's been very damp lately so I put a fan on it.

So here comes the best part of the story. Friday night I was lamenting to Thing #2 and her boyfriend (now known as Boy Genius) that the sweater was still damp.  Boy Genius listened very attentively (points to him).

I should preface this with the fact that the night before while we were watching a movie, I was finishing the sleeve and my knitting looked (to him) like a blue lump of knitting.  In his experience knitting was always a tube that never seemed to get finished. The following morning he was stunned  to see the blue lump of knitting was a sweater.  That blew him away. 

So anyway, back to Friday night.  He asked me if I had any whisks.  I thought, "what the heck is he talking about".  When I looked at him blankly, he explained.

He suggested that I take whisks (and other kitchen utensils) and use them to open up the sleeves and prop up the body so the air from the fan can circulate.

In a word, BRILLIANT!  Hence the nickname, Boy Genius.  This may forever go into the annals of knitting as how to dry your sweater overnight in humid damp weather.

                                    Love the sweater.