Friday, September 25, 2009

Bad Things Come in Threes

Knitting is not going my way lately. I hate to confess it, but I've been a little whiny about it. I've drooped around as if I had nothing to knit. Just because I can't get the join to come out how I want it to on the Malabrigo Squash Blanket doesn't mean I can't knit anything else. Jess left a comment (hey, Jess!) with a suggestion. I'll give it a shot when I'm less disgusted by the whole thing.

I decided to knit on the beaded scarf. I changed my mind about the color beads I want to use -- the clear amber will be more sparkly and I want sparkly for this -- and stripped the black ones off. Except in a strange contradiction to the laws of physics, matter would appear to have been destroyed, i.e., my beading needle has evaporated. Not a huge set-back, except the Michael's I went to was sold out of long beading needles, and so I can't string the new color and thus can't knit the scarf. Still, is that any reason to mope? Of course not. Well, maybe a little.

I regrouped. Perhaps, I thought, my error was in switching from knitting for others to knitting frivolously. I do want to gift another afghan. I arbitrarily and on the spur of the moment decided the ideal time for said gifting would be when the intended recipients get back from Colorado at the end of the month. This necessitated a pattern and yarn that would do the work for me. I thought to kill two birds with one stone and chose another mitered square afghan, this one written slightly differently than the one I've been fighting, in hopes that it would clear out whatever road-block I've developed.

Then I let myself be seduced by Lorna's Laces again. This never goes well. I finished the first square and thought I was on to something really good. A third of the way through the second square I realized two things. One - this pattern calls for all the decreases to slant in the same direction, joining them horizontally. The Squash Blanket has the squares oriented in different directions and they're joined vertically. I'm knitting apples and oranges here, aren't I? An orange you can peel without a knife; try that with an apple. So, it won't help me past that barrier.

Almost more annoying is how wrong I was about the yarn. For one thing, the more I knit, the louder the yarn gets. As the Light of My Life put it, the pattern is trying too hard for the yarn. I had hoped the continual decreases in a mitered square would keep the yarn from pooling, which it sort of did.

Just not enough.

I am trying to address all these issues. I've ordered yarn and chosen a different pattern for the afghan. I've ordered four beading needles from Beadaholic. I plan to thread them through painfully bright strips of paper, possibly even day-glo, so I never lose one again. And I am coming to terms with the fact that the Squash Blanket may have to be frogged, too. I'll try Jess's idea, possibly twisting the stitch on the return row to tightened it up, but if that doesn't pan out? It can just join the other two projects.

And then that's three and I'm out of the woods. Right?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Knitter as Hunter-Gatherer

I sat down several times last week, well, off and on, trying to turn this post into something other than a tale of greed and acquisition. I failed. Let's just admit that Sunday at Stitches with no class meant a full day at the Market. A full day at The Market is not an activity inclined to elicit one's best instincts. Herewith, I give you "Stitches, the Story of a Knitter Run Amok."

I am a Stitches geek. Or maybe a junkie. I started last year's post, "I love Stitches" and it still holds true. I have loved Stitches since Diane dragged me to my first one when I started knitting. The next year Clare came. Last year I snookered my sister in, along with her daughter and our non-knitting mother.

Perhaps I should make clear that I do the essential Stitches. I've heard -- let's just say -- mixed reviews of the fashion show and the dinner. Mixed enough to make me avoid them.I'd always confined myself to a class or two and the Market. For the last two years, ever since they changed the venue, I've added The Hotel to the essential list. Staying on site is the best fun. Besides, I've always gone in good company. See above.

This year, for a not-change, let's start with The Market. I did. While we didn't get in early enough on Friday to scope it out, we were down bright-eyed and eager-fingered, wallets at the ready, Saturday morning (before my class). Even better, this year I didn't have to be anywhere Sunday, and none of us (my sister, her daughter, my daughter) had a class. Sunday we were dangerous. We didn't close the Market, but we certainly cut quite a swathe through it.

Some of my favorite people were missing. Jennie the Potter wasn't there. Neither was The Fold or Philosophers Wool. The economy maybe? Too bad. Philosophers Wool has some great-looking new designs up on their website. I would have loved to have seen them for real. Oh, who are we kidding? After last year, when I bought a pattern book, I was looking for a yarn fix. I was going to promote myself to a kit. Maybe next year. Besides, I managed to console myself quite adequately.

Coloratura Yarns (previously known as Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) was there, in an even bigger space. Behold Clare's Christmas present. It's a Giant Skein in Aqua (how did I buy something not named after an opera?).

She's promised to act surprised, again.

Fine Points from Cleveland Ohio was there. My husband was born in Cleveland. It would have been disloyal had I not bought something from them.

It's a Claudia Hand Painted Yarns kit. A Claudia Hand Painted Yarns shawl Kit. Not just a Claudia Hand Painted Yarns shawl kit, a Walk in the Woods shawl kit. What, I was supposed to resist? It's got mohair, which makes me a little nervous. I have not, as yet, attempted mohair. Oh, of course. That's it. I needed to buy the kit so I could broaden my skill set to include mohair yarn. I knew there was a good reason.

I discovered Tess Designer Yarns.

This was not the indulgence you might think it is. My neighbor of 20 years is moving in with her other daughter. I need to make She needs an afghan from me us.

The disconcerting thing? Once I went to take pictures for this post, I was forced to recognize that this is not everything. I'm too embarrassed to list the rest. Okay maybe not. I mean really, didn't I need a set of buttons (yes, but two sets?) for Lake of the Woods? Would Fenna be complete without a shawl pin? You did know they only sell shawl pins in Pennsylvania, where the vendor I bought it from is located. Nope, no shawl pins in Illinois. And what if I had skipped Yarn Barn of Kansas? I might not have picked up Wrap Style and my collection of "Style" books would be forever incomplete (there's not a Sock Style is there?). And then there was Green Mountain Spinnery. Am I the only one who read Understood Betsy and is therefore delighted that GMS is in Putney, Vermont? Of course I had to buy a book from them.

Come to think of it, except for my class (I'll tell you about that next time) the one thing I didn't do much of was knit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Like the White Rabbit

I'm late. I meant to get this particular piece of yarn pr0n posted Monday, when the yarn arrived. Then the birthday background would have been topical. Also an explanation of why I haven't posted about Knitaplooza (a.k.a. Stitches Midwest) -- where I had been since Friday -- since Stitches and John's 15th birthday coinciding made for a somewhat hectic Monday.

The above is the latest shipment in the Six Kingdoms Yarn Club - Plants. The yarn is Unique Sheep's Green Sheep Wool Sport in Sequoia 1 through 6. The lace in the shawl grows a tree - shading from brown to green and widening from leaf patterned lace to tree/branch patterned lace. The shawl pin is oak. The candy made from honey, arguably a plant product.

Better late than never. Better never late. Real Stitches still to come.

Friday, September 11, 2009


"All of mankind is of one author and is one volume.... Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls."

John Donne
Meditation XVII (No Man is an Island)
1624 C.E.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Waiting for the Dishwasher Man

We've lived here at Chez WoolGathering for a long time. A really long time. We bought the unit back in the day when we were DINKS. One of the first things we did was replace the dishwasher. We did good. It's held up through three refrigerators and two stoves. The time had come, however, to say goodbye. It didn't work as it used to. It had become a tad, shall we say, temperamental ( more of that anon). Not only that, many of the non-motor and -water related pieces had broken. Half the little axles that held the little wheels that kept the bottom rack rolling smoothly in and out are cracked or broken. The cap for the rinse-aid dispenser is long gone. The kick plate on the bottom had been kicked too many times. The tines had had started to snap.

Worst, though, was the way it had started to decline to start if I didn't remember to hit the cancel button right after the final dry cycle had supposedly ended. Right after. We figured out that it (the drying cycle) wasn't (finished, that is) and that if the dishwasher thought it was still supposed to be drying dishes there was no way it was going to start washing unless we engaged in some pretty heavy duty persuasion. This persuasion took the form of pushing random buttons followed by the cancel button, slamming the door hard, latching and unlatching the latch (it's an old dishwasher; it had a latch) with varying degrees of force, creative language, more buttons, more slamming, hitting the inside of the door, more creative language, until finally it would consent to give up those last few clicks that signaled the real end of the cycle.

Perhaps I should mention how firmly I seem believe in inertia. This routine has been going on for months. I meant to have a new dishwasher in time for the graduations. Yet there I was, hitting the cancel button until it almost became second nature, going through the dishwasher dance when I forgot, for months and months.

Today, however, is the day. The new one was delivered yesterday. Today the plumber came by to install it. Okay, after some initial inspection accompanied by sundry thumps and mutterings, he left and has been gone for a really long time. I'm not nervous. I know he's not finished because the dishwasher is laying on its side in the middle of my kitchen floor. I suspect something about a 25 year old dishwasher-hook-up not meshing with a 21st century dishwasher.

To keep myself engaged (and patient, patient, PATIENT), did I choose something pleasant to work on? Something that was a delight to the eye? Something I actually like? In a word - no. I've picked up the Autumn's Delight Blanket, the one that I'm working on for Afghans for Afghans, a.k.a. the World's Loudest Blanket. I've been rather studiously avoiding it of late. I haven't kept you informed, because, well, look at this. Does this look attractive to you?

Ignore the yarn. Consider it solely from a technical perspective. Does it look like something you would want to send off to anyone? Does it even look right? I think not.

So here I sit, unraveling, dampening the yarn with Soak to relax it, checking it periodically to see if it's dry (not yet).

In the meantime, maybe I'll go read my dishwasher manual.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Eternal Question

What's for dinner?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nothing Like

It doesn't take much to encourage me. A few admiring comments and I am all over this like Quaker on oats. I started on My Sister's Scarf. (Note the emphasis on "my." It modifies "scarf.") I made a design decision to go with one color for the beads - the pseudo-hematite (well, it can't be real hematite, they're glass).

I strung my 270 beads (actually 280, just in case. Taking as a rule of thumb the number of needle sizes up from the suggested gauge, I cast on using a US size 8/5 mm needles (she went from a US 1 to a US 6).

And started fudging and swearing my way through the pattern. It's one of those that make sense if you already know how to do what she's telling you to do, but if you're not sure and you don't speak knitting in her particular idiom (that is, if you are me) the only thing to do is start knitting. Trying to read the pattern and just figure it out are not going to work.

It turns out it's pretty simple. Two rows of garter stitch and one 2 row pattern stitch where the pattern creates a dropped stitch. I have done this before, just not the way she does it. The double wrap is the same, it's the way she drops the stitch. The pattern says to unwrap one strand and knit the remaining, now a single very long stitch. I think it's way easier to insert you're needle under the two wraps, knit the front leg of the stitch and slip the whole thing off in one motion. Just sayin'.

That, however, is not the real issue. After knitting a couple repeats ( it's only 30 stitches wide) I came upon a fundamental difference in vision. One that has nothing to do with whatever variations there may be in knitting vernacular. Each complete pattern repeat/4 rows only works out to about an inch. The pattern calls for adding beads to only the first and last 9 pattern repeats. Do you understand what that means? Only the ends are beaded. I want the whole scarf to have beads. And I do not want an 18 inch scarf. This is more that poo-tay-to, po-tah-to. This is more than po-tay-to, pomme de terre. This is po-tay-to, asparagus. Possibly po-tay-to, pomegranate.

I believe the phrase we're looking for here is, "Oh, snap." I have to do some Math. I have to swatch.

Then I have to string a lot more beads.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Quick! Quick!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to bring you this PSA.

Let me guess. You're drowning in stash, right? You know you need to get rid of it, right? You know it's too late for the sidewalk sale at String Theory, right?

Tan-tan-tan- aa! Let me help you. More accurately, let IBOL Guy help.

This is really immediate. The deadline is less than a week away. Go see IBOL guy, leave him a comment and he'll send you the address. Besides, he can write.

It may sound like he only wants sewing stuff, but if you check the FAQ's he says "Of course there’s love for knitters. Send yarn. Send needle thingies. Send the Yard Harlot" so I think we get to help.

Or you could use it as an excuse to shop the closeouts at JoAnn.

And thanks and a hat tip to Kathleen for blogging about this.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Sister's Scarf

Over the course of the summer, I went missing for a while. Perhaps you noticed. At one point, I had so many things to write about and so little time to write that when I'd sit down to post I couldn't decide what to start with. So I didn't post. On the one hand, it meant if you showed up here, it was like walkinginto an unexpectedly empty room. The furniture was there, but nobody was home. On the other hand, I have lots of stuff left to write about. One of the posts that never got written was the one about my sister's scarf.

This is from early July. I work on this local 4th of July parade. Have for years and years. Since before John was born, as a matter of fact. As a result, it's become something of a tradition for my sister's family to join us for the parade and a picnic afterward. Since the parade steps off at 11 AM, we're all free to go off to fireworks or other festivities for the evening. This year, my sister's crew had tickets to Mary Poppins, the play. My sister's going-to-the-theater ensemble included a - scarf. A fabulous scarf, casually draped around her neck and hanging open over the front of her jacket, just as if it weren't a work of art. Fine yarn. Sparkly. Beautiful colors. I wanted it. Really badly. We're talking a serious case of apple-green envy here. I needed a scarf like that.

I've been in pursuit, admittedly as an on and off sort of thing until lately, ever since. It's been there, nibbling at the edges of my consciousness, every time I went into a yarn store, every time I browsed online. The search got earnest over these past few weeks. I have finally tracked down the components. I found the pattern - or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof, on Ravelry. Since then I've been hunting yarn. I was thinking silk.

Yesterday I hauled Marco off to Knitche, ostensibly to check out their bagged yarn sale. In reality, however secret and un-admitted, I wanted my scarf. That, and there was the problem of not remembering nearly as much as I thought I did about knitting with beads. I could not figure out the pattern directions. At Knitche, I found my yarn, which is not silk, nor is it the fingering weight that pattern called for. It's Prism Saki in Woodland.

I was pretty sure I had beads left over from the class. That didn't stop me from taking a side trip to Michael's (the bead store next door to Knitche didn't open until noon) and, let's call it, expanding my options.

Not only that, before we left Knitche, I found a Reference Work. I love Reference Works.

Okay, if I got determined a bit, I could probably locate the folder Susanna Hanson provided for the class on beaded knitting I took at Stitches a couple of years back, with all the tips and tricks I'd need, making the purchase of the book sheer self-indulgence. I'm justifying it by saying the patterns are pretty and the book covers two other beading techniques - neither of which I need to make this scarf.

Now all I have to do is locate my beading needle (I think it may be in my button box) and start stringing those 270 size 6 glass seed beads called for by the pattern.

Huh. Stringing 270 beads. Maybe I don't want this as much as I thought I did.