Thursday, August 28, 2008

Design Decision

Dearly as I love you all, you have to admit you're not the most chatty group. I'm going out on a limb here anyway, though, and doing a comment-beg. It's about the Orphans for Orphans sweater.

I'm having second thoughts about one of my design decisions. Second thoughts to the point that I've started daydreaming over new projects, checking stash, considering swatching. You know, the whole avoidance thing. This is getting serious. I may be rationalizing that I'm only researching so I'll have a project ready to go as soon as I finish this, but we all know about those sorts of fantasies and where they lead.

Back to the business at hand. I'm looking at the bottom of the sweater. I thought adding a few rows of the solid to the bottom would sort of unify the sweater before I got into the K2P2 rib/switch yarn every row border. Now I'm wondering if it makes the center panel look too out of place, too much like a bib?

So, really, truly, do me a favor? Please let me know what you think, before I commit any further or abandon my commitment entirely (that Alice Starmore sweater in the foreground is looking mighty tempting).

Maybe if I say, "Pretty please?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stitches, Part 2 - Striving for Lucidity

While I knocked over the hurdle and didn't finish any Olympic Knitting this year, Stitches provided me with any number of events.

Friday. Relay - Driving down to Urbana and back with Marco to pick up Clare. Handing off the boys to the sitter, driving to the Loop to leave the car with Marc, getting on the Blue Line to the Far North, connecting with my sister and mother at the train station, waiting for my niece who was two trains after us and finally arriving at the Renaissance Schaumburg (that's a link to the hotel's photo page). Then staying up until 1 doing the homework for the class I wasn't even registered for that was meeting the next morning. On second thought, maybe Friday was the Marathon.

Saturday - Crack of dawn to get up so I could be human by 7:15 (the time the mirror in the bathroom said the Registration Desk opened) to try to get into Melissa Leapman's Pattern Drafting class, which was meeting that morning from 8:30 to 11:30. The Registration Desk didn't, in point of fact, open until 7:30 -a crucial 15 minutes when you haven't had coffee. I got into the class, though, so it was worth it. And you better believe I ingested some caffeine before I walked into The Perfection Parlor for the class. I think that may have been Gymnastics.

Which reminds me. The most hilarious thing -- after the computer screen in the bathroom mirror running the days events on a continuous loop -- was the naming system for the meeting rooms. You could go to Nirvana or Utopia. You could achieve Euphoria or Perfection. You could let your Imagination run wild. Strive for Knowledge, Innovation, Serenity and Prosperity. Make a Connection. Have an Epiphany. Forget the "Boardroom A" experience.

Next, Diving. Melissa Leapman walks in and informs us that this is her most boring class. It's all lecture. No knitting. She had a an over-sized pad on an easel and colored markers and everything. We spent three hours listening to her, asking questions and not taking notes because everything was in the handout. We even did Algebra. She had samples of the fabulous sweaters she's designed to illustrate her points, including the one featured on the cover of the new book. The time flew. Trust me. I don't think Melissa Leapman could find boring if she looked with both hands and a map for a month. She's fun and knowledgeable and, while I may not have knit a thing, I feel like I've come away with a whole new skill-set.

It was after that that I went to The Market, which, as I'm sure you could tell from yesterday's post, was an Olympian Event in a class by itself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Annual Gobsmacking

I love Stitches.

This is the first time I've stayed at The Event. I am so going to do this again next year, except for more than Friday and Saturday night. The immediate company was great. Five of us in 2 rooms on the 15th floor of the Renaissance Schaumburg. Clare came. So did my sister and one of her daughters. So did my mother (the woman who got half way through her second mitten about 50 years ago and hasn't picked up a knitting needle since). Then, on Saturday night, my sister's other two daughters joined us at The Market and stuck around for dinner (I suppose it might have been "joined us for dinner and endured The Market until we were ready to go," but I'm a knitter and prefer the other interpretation).

So, what would you like to hear about first? Pattern Drafting with Melissa Leapman (yes, that Melissa Leapman, Cables Untangled Melissa Leapman, soon to be Continuous Cables Melissa Leapman.)

Perhaps you are curious about the fabulous yarn I scored at the Interlacements booth for the winners of The Blog Anniversary non-Contest?

Then again, maybe you'd like me to describe the incredible afghan at the Philosopher's Wool booth? (It's made out of squares. You know I'm a complete sucker for afghan squares.) I'll admit to a moment of serious cognitive dissonance when I realised the book was published by Leisure Arts. Leisure Arts and Philosophers Wool seem like very strange bedfellows to me. Then again, it's politics that makes strange bedfellows and this is an election year here in the States, isn't it?

I honestly don't know where to begin. There were the people from Esther's Place in Big Rock, IL. My sister talked to them for longer than I did, apparently there's an effort to reintroduce sheep farming into some of the less urban areas of Cook County.

The list goes on and on (and on). Yarn Barn of Kansas, who I always think I'm not going to buy anything from, and from whom I always do. Hand Painted Knitting Yarns (last years extravagant purchase) was (were?) there with these fabulous Shawl kits (I know what I hope my sister is giving me for Christmas this year, but you'll just have to wait until December). Brooks Farm. The Fold. Jennie the Potter.

Well. I'll try to be more coherent tomorrow. Perhaps by then the yarn fumes will have cleared a bit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And the Winners Are

I had a brilliant idea last night. It's gone now, though. So, rather than subject my poor brain to further frustrated feats of lost memory, let's call it done with the two comments that were left on the anniversary post. Diane and Cathy, come on down!

Diane and Cathy are both connected to one of the latest knitting projects here -- the a4A Rectangular Shawl Project and the Campaign for Youth. Diane got me started knitting for afghans for Afghans. Cathy's Blogger profile has the a4A Knitalong as the blog she posts to. She even posted a link there to the "I Did It My Way" shawl. So I'm thinking, if you two don't already have one, how about a copy of Knitting for Peace and yarn to make the Orphans for Orphans sweater?

It's fun. There's hardly any assembly. It knits up quickly, even if you forget to make all the adjustments for not getting gauge and have to rip out occasionally.

This plan has so many added advantages. I get to send people presents. I get to promote the Campaign for Youth, and -- not least by any means -- I get to shop Stitches Midwest with a clear conscience. I have an idea of Diane's yarn preferences (Not Orange!), but Cathy, I need hear from you. It probably wouldn't hurt to include things like "I despise multi-colored yarns," or "Green gives me hives." If you'd rather email, it's over there in the side-bar.

Yarn buying doesn't count if it's not for me, right?

Friday, August 15, 2008


Completely. Absolutely. Out of Ideas. Or rather, idea-less ("out of ideas" seems to imply there were some, but now they're gone). I sat down this morning, rather pleased with the project in hand (Marco's sweater) which, despite some minor cable repair necessitated by errors made in the throes of the excitement of Women's Gymnastics, I quite like, and all set to apologize for yesterday's moan-y post. Then I looked at the date. The blog is two years old today. I have no Anniversary Post prepared. No contest. No excuse to send presents out to anyone. And no ideas.

I have prizes. I'm sure I do. Not as many as before The Purge, but there's all that blue Cascade 220. Or, be still my beating heart, I could go shopping at Stitches Midwest next week. Maybe I could invent something cable-centered. I have, however, no way to determine who to send something to.

Oh dang, and there's no knitting pictures. Okay, how about one of what I was planning to write about?

I don't suppose you have any? You know, ideas?

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Or, You Can't Get There from Here.

My knitting is being mean to me. I'm on about chart number eleventy-hundred for the Different Blessingway Blanket. The latest set-back is the realization that I'm going to have to either do a double increase on one edge of every right side row or an increase on every row. Otherwise the base of the triangle will never fit in the allotted space. For some reason, this has me unreasonably unnerved and I've hidden all my graph paper from myself. Again.

Then there's my a4A sweater. I quite love the front and back panels. I got downright excited at the way it was working up exactly the way I had hoped it would. Then came the pick up stitches for the side part. Picking up stitches doesn't exactly set my hair on fire. At least, it doesn't when I'm picking a different number of stitches than the rows or stitches I have available. It's that "evenly across" part that leaves me cursing and throwing my knitting across the room. Still, I'm nothing if not stupidly persistent. I finally got it right and started merrily knitting the sides. Then I looked at it. I need to vent a heavy sigh here, perhaps with a little, underlying, whimper.

I've picked this up and put it down without adding a single stitch at least 5 times today.Like the green yarn for the rectangular shawl, these two don't play well together. Let me correct that. I don't think they should be allowed to play together at all. Let's pause for a rousing cheer here, or at least a sigh of relief (as opposed to heavy one exhaled above), that I'm not a Ravelympian.

The artist behind Cherry Hill can no longer convince me that these two share the same patrimony. Clare's theory is that someone spilled the brown dye-pot and didn't tell. "Earth," indeed.

I think I have to admit defeat and set the brown stuff aside for String Theory's sidewalk sale next year. If I rip out a bit on the two panels, I should have enough of the more colorful skein to make the next size down. Well, that, or chance the 14 yards I'm short (the yarn is a 586 yard skein, the largest size calls for 600 yards).

It's not all frustration and despair here, though. While I've been dithering over the frogging decision, I've also been flailing about, looking for something else to keep my hands busy. You know all that blue Cascade 220? I do believe there's some Marco Blue there after all.

This one I think I'll start with a 2 by 2 ribbing. A few inches of that and I'll be ready to face ripping out the brown.

Next time someone asks me who I'm going to believe, them or my own eyes, I'm going to get the answer right.

Whine over.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Not Quite an Olympian

Now that I've said it, I sort of feel I ought to do something about it. I am thinking about that newest a4A campaign, the campaign for youth. That's the one that calls for sweaters and such for children (as opposed to babies, toddlers and/or adults). The one for which I'm too late for the Ravelympics Team. I'm not yet ready to give up the not-quite-Marco-blue sweater, but I kind of need something to keep my hands busy while I ponder shades of blue again.

Besides, despite String Theory's efforts on my behalf, I still have all this yarn.

This specifically: discontinued Cherry Tree Hill Twister. Both skeins purport to be of the "Earth" colorway. Right. I can't get more, so I have no hope of ever matching either of them. I have never been able to figure out a non-scarf project for these, which is why they almost made it to the String Theory pile. In fact, I'm not sure why I held them back. Then, earlier today, I paged through the Campaign for Youth thread in Fans for Afghans on Ravelry. One of the knitters mentioned the Orphans for Orphans sweater in Knitting For Peace. I own Knitting For Peace. My sister gave it to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I have yet to realize my ambition to knit something from it.

Do you notice things coming together here? Factor in my compulsion to not cheap out for charity. I think this is the perfect project for these two oddly related skeins of yarn.

The sweater is made with a front and back panel. Once these are complete you pick up stitches and knit the sides and sleeves. My thought is, I can use one skein (probably the more colorful one) for the panels and the other (the more earthly colored one) for the sides. I might even be able to make another one with the colors reversed.

Late off the dime? Yeah, kinda. A day late and a dollar short, at least for the Ravelympic group? Definitely. Maybe I'll try to finish before the Olympics, anyway.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Marco Blue

When he was little, Marco had this sweater, a cabled Nautica-brand cardigan from the TJ MAXX clearance rack. I can't remember what Family Celebration I decided he needed it for, but the first time he wore it one of my older brothers looked down at him and said, "Whoa. Is that your color or what?"

Back when I first decided to knit sweaters for my kids, I wanted to make Marco's in that particular blue and I didn't care how many on-line and local yarn stores I went through to find it. I now own one huge stash of blue Cascade 220. There was the one that was close, but had that electric purple/pink heather. One was too dark, the next one too gray, a third was too pale, a fourth was too pretty. It's very elusiveness made me dig in my heels. For his sweater, I would have that blue or none. It didn't help that I was relying on photographs -- many of which featured him in blue, but none of which featured him in that particular sweater -- and memory.

I finally shanghaied Clare and dragged her along to Nana's Knitting Shop. Tricia at Nana's has the best collection of Cascade 220 in the city and she stocks sweater quantities. Together, I was sure Clare and I would recognize "that blue."

Clare pulled a beautiful, bright, deep royal blue from one of the bins. "This is Marco blue."

"But I really want a heathered blue. Heathers are so much more fun to knit. What about this one?"

She gave me this look over her glasses and shook the skein at me. "This is Marco blue."

"Well. I suppose but what about...?"

She raised her eyebrow (I hate that she can do that and I can't) and practically hit me on the nose with the yarn. "This is Marco blue."

"Huh. So it is." (I've never been proof against The Eyebrow.)

In between the various closet projects, I've been knitting happily away for days now, secure in the knowledge that I was not relying on my faulty memory or those photos that should have been there but weren't.

Well. I was knitting happily once I ripped back and started over because I had twisted my cast-on and didn't notice for way more inches than you need to know (just in case you thought my knitting might have finally succumbed and acknowledged me as master of the universe).

Speaking of the closet projects, guess what I unearthed this morning?

Guess what else. That yarn? It's not Marco blue.

I hear afghans for Afghans wants sweaters.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I don't know if I'm thrilled or horribly embarrassed.

You may remember that, off and on, I've been sorting through my life, thinly disguised as the closets and pantry and storage bin projects. I can now add, and my stash. It's my stash that's got me conflicted.

Before I learned that purling was knitting, I had a fiber art. I crocheted, but sporadically. I only ever bought yarn when I had a pattern, a project and a deadline. I'm sure this was in part because of the way crochet eats yarn. It takes an average of three times as much yarn to make a comparable crochet project than it takes for the knitted version. A crochet afghan represents Big Bucks. So I have really only embraced my inner acquisitiveness over the past two years. No. I lie. Let me rephrase that. I've always been acquisitive, otherwise my closets and pantry and storage bin would never have reached the state they were in and clearing them out wouldn't require an Environmental Impact Statement. Yarn just wasn't one of those things I thought about acquiring. I was, therefore, particularly disconcerted when those boxes from Jo Ann weren't big enough, or much less, enough enough. So disconcerted I was compelled to hide my head in the sand about the whole project.

I de-ostriched myself for brief intervals. There was the trip to the Container Store to acquire the stuff to organize the de-aquisition of my life. That purchase of the XXXXXXL Ziploc bags to hold the rejects from the stash. Some desultory sorting when I thought about it.

Then I got that email from String Theory. The one that said they would sell my stash for me. They would track what was sold and I would get a store credit for the amount. Not only that, what didn't sell, they would donate to charity. Are you hearing this? Anything I brought out to them, I would never need to see again. It would be as if it had never been. And I would have a yarn fund. At String Theory. Home of Dream in Color Classy and Shibui sock yarn.

Well, while all the life that has kept from the blog has been happening, I got another email from String Theory. I sold the most yarn of anyone. I now have a huge, gigantic, humongous, really really Big store credit waiting for me. So big I'm embarrassed and will not divulge the amount. It will never expire and I can spend it any way I want.

This all sounds wonderful, yes? Why, then, am I bemused? Well. Think about it. Do you really think I sold the most because all the mistakes I made over the past two years were so good, so desirable to other knitters?

Or do you think it's because I managed, in only two years, to accumulate so much yarn that I simply had more inventory to sell than anyone else in Northern Illinois?