Friday, December 31, 2010

Never Did Run Smooth

No Christmas post?

No day after Christmas/Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day (gloating) post?

No anniversary (33 years and counting) post?

I'll just have to write a last day of the year post. Closure and all that.

The variously named Grey/Gray/Eldest Nephew/Oldest Nephew Sweater did indeed get finished in time for the Great Gift Exchange on Christmas Eve. I even remembered to work in the phony seams.

The home stretch was not, however, without trauma.

Trauma #1. You'll just have to take my word for it. The trauma was so great I didn't photograph it. Despite all the careful measuring both with ruler and yardstick (because tape measures stretch and are therefore unreliable) and against the original sweater, despite having the Lord Protector stand in for fittings, despite previous experience with this yarn, when compared to the original sweater the finished object came out about 1/2 to 1 inch short in the body -- which I could have lived with (knitting stretches) -- and a good 3 inches (!) short in the sleeves. (I know. That was a dreadful sentence, both in form and content. Imagine the horror that must have engendered it.) A fitting on the Lord Protector -- forced into mannequin service as the only available young male -- was not reassuring. It didn't matter that my brain knew he is taller and stockier than the Eldest Nephew. I foresaw Christmas Sweater Disaster looming and wished I had heeded The Panopticon's video and bought the Eldest Nephew a new pair of roller skates.

At this point the Princess was sent off to Brooks Brothers for a gift card. Desperation, however, will drive one to any and all things; I went ahead and blocked the sweater.

Trauma #2. It blocked huge. Even huger than I had been expecting, given previous blocking experience.

Standing and staring in horror at the blocking board, I was irresistibly reminded of the "Useful presents" in "A Child's Christmas in Wales" where Dylan Thomas writes about "engulfing mufflers of the old coach days" and "zebra scarfs of a substance like sticky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes." The gift card was looking better all the time.

Trauma #3. No photograph here either, but The Cat, apparently compulsively drawn to a sweater so near to her own coloring, and at that time desperately in need of having her claws trimmed (see where this is going, do you?), not only nested on the sweater over-night, but managed to catch a single stitch on her claw. I cannot begin to express the panic. I was clearly not nearly as wedded to the idea of the gift card as I thought I had become.

Factor in my apparent complete inability to make a square into a circle (neckline) and the resulting gaping stitches where the corners had been. These had only been exacerbated when the Lord Protector did the fitting thing. The incredible stretching properties of the wet yarn had done nothing to improve matters.

There I was on December 23rd, I think I can safely say, not rejoicing. This does not mean, however, that my ability to deny reality was in any way diminished. In a mind-boggling episode of "wishing will make it so," I threaded up my Chibi and started weaving in ends. Which led to my final burst of creativity and decision to reinforce the stress points (the grafting under the arms, the corners of the neckline) and, while I was at it, to duplicate stitch over the Cat Disaster and several stitches beyond.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Otherwise there is no way that all of this should have resulted in a wearable sweater. The weaving in and reinforcing worked. The sweater pulled in some while it dried. I handed it over on Christmas Eve, along with the original and a sweater shaver (because the yarn is so soft, it pills if you look at it cross-eyed). It is a little big. I'll say I made it that way on purpose in case he ever wants to wear it over a button-down shirt.

Oh, and those 3-inches-too-short sleeves?

The sweater didn't pull in that much.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Day at the Races

I am prey to two mutually exclusive but nonetheless compelling convictions.

The first is that the eight decreases every other row necessary for raglan sleeves are way too many decreases in much too short a space and will result in a sweater fit only for the victims of head-shrinking tribes.

The other is that there is no way that that there are enough decreases close enough together to get to the 10 shoulder stitches Elizabeth Zimmermann says will mark the point where I can begin to shape the neck without knitting the most enormous sweater known to man.

Furthermore, (because things weren't interesting enough), I have to knit really fast, otherwise I fear I will run out of the remaining new, unused, pristine yarn (I have 3 full skeins of 136 yards each and some random bits) and therefore have to unravel and reclaim the vast quantities used up to knit the deliberate and accidental swatches.

Today, I'm going for the win. I'm jut not sure which one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Also procrastination. More on that later in the post.

While the truism states that one picture is worth a thousand words, the picture of the gray sweater clearly did not convey the right thousand. Joining the sleeves to the body on Friday was the goal, not the reality. In point of fact, the goal didn't have a more than a nodding acquaintance with reality. As of the last post I had 2 to 3 inches of knitting left on the body and a good 5 to 6 inches on each sleeve (the Eldest Nephew is strappy, not stunted).

Back on Tuesday, when I started this post (which means I had figured out another good word for the title), I had achieved the necessary for the sleeves, but still had a good 10 to 12 rows to slog through for the body (my theory is that it's a lot harder to knit big tubes than it is to knit small ones).

Now, however, the pieces really are ready to be joined and instead of brewing a fresh cup of coffee, grabbing my copy of EZ's Knitting Workshop and getting on with it, I'm over here at the computer, delaying.

Admittedly, it's a new computer -- very nice, with none of the odd behaviors the old one had developed after the poor thing's recovery from viral onslaught. Further, I could argue that posting to the blog is at least related to knitting (as opposed to playing multiple games of Mahjong Titan). Christmas, however, is not going to hold itself back until I finish the Gray Sweater.

And knitting hats for the Pirate and the Lord Protector won't do much to delay it, either.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Don't you just love a good word? My online dictionary and thesaurus tell me that hoary can mean "ancient" or "antediluvian," "belonging to, existing, or occurring in times long past," "gray or white with age." Dust-covered, in fact. It can also mean just plain gray. So appropriate to everything I have to write about.

To clear the air, let me state that the red scarf is languishing (read: dead in the water), the green sweater in all knit up (and has been for a couple weeks now), and I seem to have lost the blue sweater. Neither sweater has its (their?) ends sewn in. I suppose it goes without saying that they're not blocked, either, but I'll say it anyway: They're not blocked, either. Just in case you were wondering. That's all old news, though. Hoary with age, in fact.

Since the a4A deadline isn't until after Christmas, and I haven't a prayer of finishing the Red Scarf, I'm not going to worry about them for now. (Thank heavens for a knitting daughter who sent her red scarf off last week -- I think she posted a picture on Ravelry, though I'm not sure -- the OFA hasn't been completely frozen out.) Now I'm all about Christmas. Which might not strike you as a hoary topic until you are informed that new Christmas knitting is on a determined hold until old Christmas knitting, a.k.a, the Gray Sweater, is finished. And there you have hoary on multiple levels.

I am supposed to be inspired to knit feverishly so I can move on to other projects. So what if two of those projects are another sweater and an afghan? Once the gray sweater is done, I plan to allow myself to intersperse small knitting projects with the large. So many rounds of a sweater done? Maybe I'll knit a hat to match one of the scarves I gave last year. A nice swathe cut through the afghan knitting? Perhaps I'll cast on for that neck gaiter for the brother who was so taken with the one I knit for his wife. Serious progress on a sleeve? Well, there is that other brother who was supposed to get a scarf last year but didn't. Let's not forget to factor in a serious cold snap here in the Midwest and my sons' need for hats.

I'm noticing a pattern here. I think I can safely say that all of my knitting plans have their origins in events occurring in times long past. None of them are going to happen, though, if I don't get cracking on that sweater for the Oldest Nephew. I've set today as the day I join the sleeves to the body. Once I shake the dust of neglect off and do that, perhaps then it will again only be hoary because of the color.

Don't you just love a good word?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Raising the Bar

Or at least we're going to make the attempt.

I'm not as far along on Rosemary's Little Sweater (that would be the green one) as I had hoped to be. That is to say, I'm not finished yesterday. I'm not even as far as I was on the Puntas Sweater (a.k.a., the blue one) as I was when I set my eminently attainable goal of finishing it in five days. Still, while not abandoning my newly declared rule of not setting my goals high, let's see what happens by next Friday.

I may have stacked the deck a bit in my favor. I don't know why I've made such heavy work of picking up the stitches for both these little sweaters, but I have. I noticed how close I was to attaining the finish line on sleeve 1 and it occurred to me that, once I had bound off the cuff, I might just put the sweater down for another year (or more) rather than face picking up another 60 stitches. I've only got four rows left on the first sleeve and have cleverly already hacked and slashed my way through picking up the stitches for the second sleeve.

I may have raised the bar, but I've set a ladder up against the pole.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Well. That was surprisingly successful. Don't even think about pointing out that a project isn't finished finished until the ends are woven in and its been blocked.

I'd try the method on green sweater, except I haven't even started the sleeves.

So, is the lesson here set your goal low; if you don't shoot yourself in the foot first, you may achieve it?

Monday, November 08, 2010


Despite the intense -- one might say, nearly overmastering -- distaste I have conceived for knitting sleeves,

I will finish this sweater this week.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Channeling Auntie M.

My Father had this aunt. Well, he had a couple. This one was his mother's youngest sister. Auntie M. After a fairly severe heart episode, Auntie M. came to live with us. This was not entirely a bad thing, you understand --she had a sense of humor and so did we (I vividly recall channelling Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz; you know, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!") -- but, let's just say it was not always stress-free.

One of Auntie M.'s convictions was that our family unit maintained a certain not always acceptable to her level of arrogance. "You McCauleys," she would say, "you think you know everything." She had a point. We had our ways of doing things, and we were convinced they were the best. We would make allowances for the uninitiated, but only so far. This family-wide quirk, not unnaturally, eventually got on her nerves. After one too many times when someone redid or improved on something she had done, she took a deep, theatrically mournful breath, the quintessential heavy sigh, and on the exhalation said,

" Failed again."

I'm not sure how the other family members reacted the first time they heard her, but I know I had to laugh. Honestly, did it really matter which rags were used on the floor or the windows. Or whether you wiped the kitchen table before you swept? (Okay, I totally get the rags thing - old t-shirts for windows, old towels for floors. Trust me. It really is better. Missing a few crumbs because you swept first? Maybe not so much.)

"Failed again." It became something of a mantra. It was certainly quickly picked up by Their Father and I still get to hear it anytime I go off on a rant about doors let slam and tissues not making it to the wastepaper basket. (You don't want to know about the time there were four tubes of toothpaste going simultaneously.) (Well, really. Four? At once? There are only five people in this household. If the toothpaste went on a road trip, how hard would it have been to return it to the medicine cabinet? Four open tubes of toothpaste. At the same time. Sheesh.)

All of which goes to explain what happened here with my excellent intention to NaBloPoMo. "Failed again."

November is also National Knit a Sweater Month. And no, I'm not even tempted. I have three sweaters on my needles as it is. I don't need to cast on another one while I ruthlessly abandon them.

It's just a swatch. (She said with all the conviction of one perilously close to jumping over the edge and sliding, gleefully, down the slippery slope)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

'Nuff Said

It matters.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You Say Potato

Red Scarf ? Zero.

Other Knitting? Well - more than zero.

Puntas Sweater from The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book, for afghans for Afghans Youth Campaign. That would be last year's campaign for youth. Last seen here.

Rosemary's Little Sweater, also for a4A, same source, same vintage. Last seen in the same place as the Puntas Sweater.

Eldest Nephew's Sweater.

Last seen here (the picture at the bottom of the post, not the top).

Some might say it's avoidance; I'll say it's a new twist on incentives and rewards.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again*

Truth be told, I don't much like knitting scarves. I usually need a good reward system set up to get anywhere. Failing that, a really compelling incentive, like guilt, can work.

I'm trying to get a good head of steam up over my Red Scarf. With neither a reward or an incentive in place, the going is about as slow as the proverbial molasses in January. We're talking snail's pace here. Actually, no. Even that would be faster than my knitting. Maybe a dead snail.

I thought maybe if I could mark progress in something other than inches, that could be it's own reward. I started measuring by getting the first full stripe from the left side to the right (see the green markers). Once I'd done that, I thought, I could set the starting point for the next stripe and follow that up (that would be the orange marker).

It's not working well. I've only got two such stripes done so far. While gazing down at it in mild despair this morning, I noticed something else about it. It looked familiar. This -- given how infrequently I knit scarves -- made no sense. I knit scarves so infrequently that I can count them without taking my shoes off. I couldn't figure out where I had seen this before. For that matter, I couldn't figure out why it almost felt like I had knit this before.

The penny dropped when I looked at the wrong side.

I've knit a whole blanket like it. I just didn't recognize it until I turned the scarf over. Surely, then, I can pull off a scarf's worth.

Maybe, just maybe though, it's time to investigate rewards.

*Attributed to Yogi Berra.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Opportunities Abounding

It's been one of those weeks where my life decides to impose on my knitting. I hate when that happens. Still, some things are important, so here's a PSA (two, actually). My favorite (all right all right, my only) charity knitting groups are in need. It's time to hop back on the charity knitting bandwagon.

Red Scarf, 2010. Made famous by Now Norma Knits, it's taken on a life of its own. Details at OFA. The request is out for red (or other unisex color) scarves for Valentine's Day care packages for college students who grew up in the foster care system but were never adopted. That still astounds and amazes me. Never made part of a family, but they've gotten themselves together enough to tackle college. Scarves are being accepted now through December 5. The princess has started an Island Embrace scarf. I've gotten the ScWiNoNa going in Lorna's Laces Brick.

The Princess assures me it's not pink, it's orange. I may have used Red Scarf as an excuse to order something from Brooklyn Tweed. I'll be making it in Long Johns.

Afghans for Afghans Campaign for Youth. Details here. Knit-and-Crochet-along is here. Pretty much anything and everything to keep 7 through 16 year olds warm (except, I think, scarves). Due date is December 2010/January 2011. Time for me to finish those Green Mountain Spinnery sweaters.

And even if I don't? Once Her Highness gets her latest pair of a4A socks done, I'm getting rid of that purple sweater.

Charity knitting: the perfect opportunity to rid my knitting bags of those unsightly half-finished projects and my stash baskets of that pesky yarn.

Friday, October 08, 2010


Needles and pins. Pepper and Salt. Pen and Ink.

I wallowed in some heavy yarn therapy early this week. The first installment (yes, things were that bad) arrived yesterday. I want to use this yarn. I should mention that this is not the greatest picture. The yarn is darker, the colors richer, but I can't get my camera to cooperate. You'll have to trust me.

Briar Rose Abundance, 1500 yards of 100% corriedale wool in color 8232.

I've been casting about for an afghan for the front room for some time now. I think I've found it. I want to do Totally Autumn from Knitty's First Fall 2010 issue, but not in all those hot reds and oranges. Oh, I get the maple leaf analogy, but I think the lace pattern could pass for elm leaves, too.

I'm enamored of the dusky blue, the grayish green, the gold, and the rusty overtones of the brown in this yarn. They say "Autumn" much more eloquently to me than all those heated colors.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Warming a New Home

I Ab-Fabbed in secret for a friend. I finished months ago; the Absolutely Fabulous Afghan by Colinette does knit up quickly. My friend has been over for coffee a couple times since the knitting was finished but I had about a dozen ends to weave in and the Ab-Fab afghan really needed a good blocking before I could hand it over. I finally delivered it yesterday, so now I can post about it.

Not only did I Ab-Fab in secret, I Ab-Fabbed in purple (the things I'll do in friendship's name).


Absolutely Fabulous Afghan by Colinette in Amethyst, which originally contained:

Mohair - Heather
Mohair - Cinnamon
Mohair - Lilac
Wigwam (cotton tape) - Lilac
Fandango (chenille/eyelash) - Lilac (?) (might have been Heather)
Zanziba (thick and thin rayon) - Heather
Zanziba - Lilac
Skye - Damson (although despite its plum-like name, Damson is Not Purple. Which makes me wonder if it was a substitution on the seller's end).

Knit on US 11/8 mm Addi Turbos.

Substitutions (Of course I did, I couldn't help myself). I'm a little vague about the details. This really did all happen about 6 months ago and I don't seem to have kept the labels of anything. Something purple and curly by, I think, Louisa Harding for the much-too-pinkish Lilac Fandango. Malabrigo Twist (?) also in something purple (Velvet Grape?) for the very pink Lilac Wigwam.

I'll knit purple, but I draw the line at Barbie.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Closure Post

Just for the record. I did finish Their Father's sweater on Friday.

Yarn: Cascade 220 in Mallard/2448.
Needles: Addi Turbos US 7/4.5 mm.
Pattern: Based on the Set-In Sleeve Cardigan from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.
Modified: According to Their Father's Specifications.
Buttons: Leather-covered 3/4" shank buttons from JoAnn Fabrics.

Things to remember.

With a little patience and planning, it is possible to grow 2x2 cables out of 1x1 rib. Witness the knitting on the left. I admit, I had to chart it out before I could see it, but it was as simple as moving the stockinette columns over by 1 row.

Cables make knitting go faster. I'm convinced I knit both the front pieces in half the time it took to knit the back.

Things to reconsider.

As mentioned in the previous post, use short-row shaping and three-needle bind-off for the shoulders, move the armhole decreases in another stitch (I still can't help wondering if this is why the seams look so wonky to me).

Pay closer attention to ending the cables. There's still a part of me that wonders if I didn't do something at the bind-off that unbalanced the two sides.

Rethink the whole set-in sleeve thing. After all, would the sky really have crashed or the heavens tumbled had I opted for the modified-drop sleeve instead?

All things considered, I begin to see the advantages to knitting in the round and steeking.

Was it worth it? The jury's still out. Their Father's initial reaction seemed, to me, to lack whelm. In fact, I would go so far as to say he seemed distinctly underwhelmed.

On the other hand, it was seen in the wild. He put it on last night to read the paper without any whingeing prompting from me.

Friday, October 01, 2010


I bet you've all been glued to your terminals waiting to hear if I finished the sweater in time.

Define "finished" and then define "in time."

Does finished mean all the knitting is done? Then it's finished. Does finished mean all the pieces are blocked and sewn up? Then it's finished.

Does finished mean the ends are woven in and the buttons sewn on? Does finished mean I'm happy with it? Then it's not.

I need to remember that a cardigan can be knit in almost one piece. I need to remember short row shaping for the shoulders so I can join the shoulder seams with a three-needle bind-off. Should I forget about short-row shaping again, as I surely will, I need to remember to slip the first stitch of the bind-offs. I need to remember to place my decreases farther in, maybe two stitches instead of only one.

Most of all, I need to remember that set in sleeves are just not worth it. I actually kind of enjoy sewing side seams. For that matter, I don't even mind the stitches to rows at the sleeve cap or the stitches to stitches under the arm. I think it's the whole setting the sleeves that gets me. All that pinning. all those transitions, from cap to sides, from the sides to the underarm. What with the pinning, stitching, ripping back, re-pinning, ripping out, I probably spent three times as long attaching the sleeves to the body as I did on all the other seams combined. The worst part? Even with all the checking of techniques from my various knitting books, even with and Berroco how-to videos on YouTube, even with all that evidence that I have sewn the sleeves in exactly how they should be, I'm not happy.They don't look as bad as they did before I steamed the seam allowances toward the sleeve,

but I'm still not thrilled.

It didn't help that the sweater still looked like an amoeba when Their Father got home. So, dinner and cake and pie and other presents and cards later, I picked up the sweater and finished the side and sleeve seams. Ends still hanging all over. No buttons. But at least it looked like a sweater. And it was before midnight, so I say it counts (my blog, my knitting, my rules).

Consider "enough." "Enough" means wanting for nothing, "I have enough." Enough can mean having too much, "I have had enough of this [fill in the blank]." Enough is adequate, sufficient, satisfactory, decent.

So, was it done? No. Not really. But it was done enough.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Ask You

What kind of man invites people to dinner when his wife needs to go off on a button quest?

All I can say is, it's a good thing he needs to be around to wear this sweater. Dire things could happen to such a man otherwise.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Not Much

That's all I have to show for days and days of knitting. Remind me next time that I don't want to use cables for a sweater. I don't have pictures of the failures. Sorry. The fact is, I'm not even fully satisfied with the "success." I've knit the neckband four times in four different ways now. I think it was four times. It might be more. In between completely reknitting it, I've dropped stitches down and tried in situ modifications.

I've finally realized that the crux of the matter isn't the neckband it self. It's the way the cables feed into the neckband. I want the left and right fronts to match, allowing for the fact that I mirror imaged the cables.

They don't. Match, that is. It looks to me like the left front has an additional row of knitting. I'm wondering if it has to do with the way you have to bind off on a right-side row for the left front and a wrong side row for the right front. That's the comforting fiction I'm going with. I've run out of ideas and I don't think I can bear to frog the neckband again.

All of the above means that I am drastically behind on my time table. I've got the sleeves blotting in towels now and will pin them out and hide them in the Princess' room this morning. The only reassuring thing is that I checked stitch and row gauge over 8 inches of knitting and came up with 39 stitches and 52 rows, which worked out to a ratio of 3 to 4, which is the ratio the stitches to rows is supposed to come out to for the button-band. Thank the knitting gods, because I have to finish the knitting today.

Now, will someone please explain why I have only 6 buttons?

Not much. My worry is that, like the buttons, it will be not enough.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Impossible Dreams

If, when I first contemplated this madness, you had told me that by 9:30 this morning I would have bound off both front pieces, I would have laughed myself into a stupor. Truly, looking over this past year or so, with the notable exception of the Christmas gifts, knitting here has been more about dwelling in the realm of possibility (sounds so much nicer than slacking) than actual production. (Remind me that at some point I have to blog about the Cedar Leaf Shawlette, finished lo these many months, in the last flush of energy from all that holiday knitting.)

I have one week to block, assemble and (here' s what's got me a little panicky) knit my first button and buttonhole bands.

I can do this. I 'm pretty sure. There's at least a chance. Doing it in secret had me stymied for a bit,(I can hardly use the dining room table or our bed; it's supposed to be a surprise, remember?) but the Princess and I have conspired. I'll do it in stages to accommodate that lack of large flat surface areas. I'll do it with her blocking board, which is twice the size of mine. And I'll do it in her room (their Father having a praiseworthy respect for his children's privacy, i.e. he just about never pokes his head in there).

On the theory that the next steps are the shoulder seams, the neck band and the button and buttonhole bands -- all which require the the back and fronts -- I've got the body pieces prepping now. I've gone for wet-blocking at this stage, rather than spray and pin or hit the steam button on my iron. If I'm going to have to pick up some number plus infinity stitches, I don't want to find that I've used a skewed ratio of rows to stitches. The schedule is pretty tight. Having to do the math is bad enough. Doing it with inaccurate data is not in the cards.

The plan is that tomorrow I can finish the neckband while the sleeves are blocking. In an ideal world I'll get the stitches picked up for the front bands, too. The weekend is not an ideal time for secret knitting, but I'll see what I get through - he will take off for a run at some point. And then there's all that nap time. If he comes down with my cold that could prove extensive. With a combination of chance and careful planning (and depending on how many times I have to redo the button bands), I can finish the seaming by Wednesday and do a final blocking in time to astonish him Thursday night.

Hey. It could happen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have a dreadful head cold.

I find misery focuses one's attention wonderfully.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Know You've Been Missing It

The return of Foolishness on Friday.

I've been an awfully good blogger ltely. I think I've earned some foolery, and this appeals to the failed Psych Major in me.

You are Energetic and Bright

You view people with optimism. You have many meaningful relationships in your life.

You had more conflict with your mother than your father. Your relationship with her was healthy but challenging.

You deal with stress in an effective and competent matter. You are able to remain calm.

You are a natural multitasker. You enjoy being busy, even if the amount of things you need to do is overwhelming.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 11:22 A.M.

Guess what I found?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Ace Up My Sleeve

The front (s?) of Their Father's sweater is still missing. Looking at the last photo I have of the project, it occurred to me that I may be looking for the wrong thing. I've been searching for yarn. Perhaps I should be searching for the muslin project bag with the yellow birds.

And I will. It's just that the days are slipping by. In that deep dark secret part of my brain where my knitting fantasies live, I keep envisioning giving him the sweater for his birthday, more specifically, this birthday. I know I do, because when little bits of fantasies bubble to the surface of my brain and pop open, in between the ones where I knit like Elizabeth Zimmermann, or the ones where suddenly the Blog is one of the top 200 knitting blogs and has the comments to prove it, I envision him opening a box and being astounded by the reality of his sweater.

Yes, yes, I know it's not going to happen. That's why these are fantasies. Still, my fingers are itching to work on this particular project.

I've been chasing ideas around my brain like a dog chases squirrels. I could marathon knit. People here are old enough to fend for themselves. So what if the Lord Protector will live on Flaming Hot Cheetos and the Pirate subsist entirely on birthday cake? I could double, no, quadruple my knitting speed. Hey, it could happen (and pigs may whistle but they've poor mouths for it). The sweater could knit itself, like the ones Mrs. Weasley knits (I seem to be having a hard time separating fiction from reality here). None of them, however, will work if I don't have enough yarn.

That's the crux of things. Memory is notoriously unreliable (seen Rashomon lately?). Yet my memory insists I have not one (as pictured) but both the sweater fronts started. Not knit very far, but started. It's not the loss of work that has me chewing my fingernails as if they were made out of chocolate, it's the loss of the yarn. Two sweater fronts means two full skeins of yarn. That's a lot. I could knit my fingers to the bone. I could knit so fast my needles smoke and I need to keep a fire extinguisher by my side. It won't matter if I run out of yarn.

I've been staring at my remaining supply. It's about 2.5 skeins, maybe a little more. In between wondering if I really overbought the yarn by that much, or if my doppelganger slipped in, frogged the fronts, reclaimed the yarn and wound it back into skeins, complete with manufacturer's label, I've been trying to gauge how much I've actually used so far, trying to determine if I have enough. I don't think the back took more than two skeins. Will two and a half be sufficient? I have to consider the cables. Cables eat yarn. I know each sleeve took a little more than two skeins. Will the fronts use more than that? There's a button band to consider. How much more will that need?

Well, you get the idea. All dithery I've been, when I'm not tearing apart knitting bags and stash baskets. When not occupying the forefront of my brain, it's been niggling at the back. Neither of which is actually knitting the sweater for me. Conditions were ripe for a brainstorm, and last night as I was winding up one of the remaining skeins, that's what I got.

I have a kitchen scale, well, the Princess does. We picked it up so we could translate some of her trans-Atlantic recipes. If it works on flour and sugar, it will work on yarn.

The back weighs 7.5 ounces. The sleeves weigh 9.4. The remaining yarn?9.6 ounces. That's close. That's really, really close. I could just make it. Or I could just miss.

Know what I just remembered?

I have the Swatch.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Celebrate! Celebrate!

It's the Lord Protector's Birthday.

Are these the best candles or what? (Well, they are if you know his favorite class is Latin.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Clean Version

Darn. Drat. Heck.

You know what the trouble with de-cluttering is? Sometimes things disappear.

Dang it. Shoot. Spit.

Their Father's birthday is the end of the month. Given my recent track record, I don't expect to have his sweater finished by then. Okay, maybe I indulged in a few delusions, which is why I went looking for it in the first place.

Nuts. Goldarn. Odd rot it.

I did, however, expect to be able to lay my hands on all the pieces before I made that determination.

Blast. Dad gum. Cheese and crackers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Which One, Which One

I've reached the point where I need to make a decision time. Sooner than I expected. The Green Shawl has reached the it-takes-forever-to-knit-a-row-while-at-the-same-time eating-yarn-like cup-cakes stage. That ball of yarn is only 2 or 3 inches across. I'm betting it's only got a couple more rows left in it.

I'm pretty sure I need to know what color to make the border.

And whether to add an inner border in black.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Going In Circles

The good thing about abandoning projects is that you have something to go to when the current ones pall.

The good thing about being forced to bring 26 years worth of storage into your living quarters is that it makes you pathological about de-cluttering anything and everything you can.

The good thing about de-cluttering is that you have someplace to put the stuff you actually want.

The good thing about having someplace to put the stuff you want is that you can find things again.

Like the long lost skein of yarn I needed for the Green Shawl.

Which is why it got abandoned in the first place.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Playing With Color

Way back when, at last year's Stitches, I bought these from Tess Designer Yarns for a gift afghan/housewarming present. When I figured out that the bulky variation wasn't going to work, I switched the yarn from 4 skeins of bulky to 4 skeins of worsted weight. Ever since I knew the worsted yarn wouldn't pan out for the afghan, either, I've been looking for another project for it. Otherwise I have to count it as stash, and I have a lot of it. Trading bulky for worsted resulted in a lot more yardage (570 yards per skein compared to 115). That much yarn kind of sings crochet to me.

I have this book. It has this afghan. I find the color scheme muddy and discordant, but I like the stitch. And the stripes.

Once again proving my firm grasp of the obvious, let me note that stripes mean more than one color. The Tess green is a given, but the pattern calls for four colors altogether. I'm thinking about Dream in Color Classy in China Apple. I'm debating between the Copper Penny Madelintosh DK and the Dream in Color Classy in Gold Experience. I'm wondering if Dream In Color November Muse would bee too dark. Maybe I should use up some of my Madelintosh DK in Turquoise. Maybe I should use five colors.

Further, since I can see no reason to be decisive when I can dither, perhaps I should confess that I also hear the call of the Moorish Mosaic Afghan from the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet. That calls for a different color strategy. This one I think, needs the colors from the rug in the front room. It wouldn't be quite the stash-buster the stripy afghan would be. While crochet eats yarn, I will need to buy at least two skeins each in two or three more colors; I am sadly lacking in Golds and Neutrals.

Maybe I'll do both.

Maybe I just want to crochet. It has, after all, been a while.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Weeks

So now I'm more or less up to date on the knitting front, I feel free to admit that the high point of the summer -- pause for dramatic effect -- has not, in point of fact, been knitting. It's been Our Company.

There was the getting ready of course, a summer's worth of it, but rather than go into that in exhausted exhaustive detail, let me, like Inigo, "sum up." First, the 3 deep 6 high incursion of storage boxes that has dominated my dining room since Last October(!) has been reduced to 3 boxes of recycling and 6 boxes of shred-first-then-recycling (All right, so the wall in my bedroom is now home to a 6 x7 row, but it's just a single row. There may be a few odd ones tucked stacked into corners). Secondly, we discovered the source of our chronic hanger shortage - they were nesting in the back corner of the Boys' Closet, unbeknownst to us because we haven't been able to get much beyond a foot on either side of the closet door for years. Let it suffice to add that the lists were impressive, and that we managed to get everything done and crossed off except for the two items at the top of List #2 that we could never decipher.

This is supposed to be a (mostly) knitting blog, so let me focus on that a little. There was Stitches Midwest, of course, but I'll save that for later. She knit and finished one project while she was with us, which means she pretty much knit every day she was here. She has a good start on her top-down model sweater from the Stitches class she and The Princess took. She may not be leaving us as a knitting convert -- I'm pretty sure she thinks we're a little mad, albeit in a nice way -- but that triumph of finishing a first knitted object is a pretty powerful thing.

So now it's the last day of Our Company. The word that comes to mind is "delight." The Princess, the Lord Protector and Their Father all approved her long ago. It was only two weeks, yet she slipped into our lives like she had a place waiting for her, a spot that was empty that we hadn't known about until it was filled. And yes, I know she's leaving today, but her place will remain intact, occupied.

Last night, she asked if she was a knitter now. We said that was for her to say. But we gave her knitting needles and a project bag for a going away gift.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Disturbance in the Space/Time Continuum

That's the only possible explanation for the lack of blogging going on here. I've got three, count 'em, THREE more posts, all written over the past few weeks, waiting for photos. I'm going to finish them up today and publish them all in one fell swoop. I never do that -- I always post on the same day I write -- but drastic times call for drastic measures. I think I'll even leave them with their original dates. They'll pop up periodically today as I finish them. Anyway, you've been warned.

Just to keep you interested, here's a photo of my souvenirs from Nashville. All from Bliss Yarns.

The clever little bag is a small (because they come in various sizes) Knitsack, local produce from the very talented Erin Lane (it says "tink" on the back). That bigger skein of yarn is blue-faced Leicester fingering/sock, also local produce by Jan Quarles at Daily Fibers (couldn't find a website), colorway #9498. The pretty stitch-markers are even more local produce by the also very talented Tactile Design and Press. I tell you, those Tennessee women are a talented lot.

The smaller skeins of yarn are my very first Koigu, bought with a someday second Barn-Raising Quilt in mind - which at the time I thought might have to happen sooner rather than later because I crashed face-first into a Serious Dye Lot Issue with the Claudia Handpainted Walk In The Woods. That's a story with a happy ending, though, and it involves Stitches, so I'll save it for later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Presto Chango

I have been avoiding the decision for way too long, but last night I had the amazing good fortune to be surrounded by a team of young realists. That would be the Princess and her regal counterparts, the Eldest Niece and the Visiting Royalty. The result of our deliberations is that the Oldest Nephew's sweater has to go.

I may have paled at this news. Even gone a little green about the gills. Done some deep, sorrowful and heartfelt sighing. All that frogging. All that yarn reclamation. All that knitting to do again. Not that I mind the knitting. It's the starting from nothing all over that gets me.

Honestly, though, these young women are Thinkers. I'd really like to believe it was me (age and guile), but I'm pretty sure it was their (youth and skill) idea that I do the starting over part before I do the ripping out part. As they pointed out, I have many skeins of the yarn left un-knit. There is no reason why I couldn't cast on with one of the remaining skeins before I actually rip and reclaim. Kind of like knitting two sleeves or two socks at the same time, or the front and the back of a flat knit sweater.

I find myself irrationally cheered by this. It doesn't change anything. The sweater is wrong and will have to be knit over. I find myself taking great solace, though, from knowing I won't be at ground zero when I rip out what is now the largest swatch I have ever made.

As a sort of bonus, I think I can say that I'm pretty confident of my gauge now. Despite my concerns that the knitting was too loose, the fabric of the blocked no-longer-a-sweater looks good. This means I have a 12 inch, 242 stitch swatch - a pretty impressive sample on which to base my gauge. Admittedly I had to recalculate all my percentages a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. What's art without a little angst?

So, in an astounding feat of prestidigitation, albeit not of the "now you see it, now you don't" variety, behold the New Sweater.

That's 2 inches of 2 x 2 ribbing using the new, improved gauge swatch.

Snap. I just realised that I'll have to re-knit the sleeves from point zero as well; no saving the ribbing because 1/3 of 232 is not the same as 1/3 of 242. Good thing The Oldest Nephew's birthday isn't until November (and that there's always Christmas when I blow that deadline).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three R's Redux

Um. Yeah. About those gauge issues I mentioned last time. Once I measured the gauge for the sleeves, I took a good look at the body of the sweater. I've been dogged by a vague unease while knitting this project, a sense as I'm knitting of the general looseness of the fabric, a growing suspicion that the loops I'm knitting into feel awfully not-so-tight as they should. I've been ignoring this, because I planned the whole sweater to adjust for the change in my gauge, for going from a flat swatch to an in the round garment. As long as I had the tape measure out, I decided to check.

Everybody knows that knitters purl looser than they knit. This is like the given in a geometric proof, right? Like all triangles have three sides or the sum of the angles in a parallelogram will equal 360 degrees or that Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. It's the fixed star in the night sky of knitting. Therefore, if one is going to knit in the round, one's gauge will be tighter.

Not this one's. The body of the sweater measured 46 inches instead of 44.

The Oldest Nephew is not stocky. The Oldest Nephew is not scrawny, either, but he is lean. The decision to knit a sweater with 4 inches of ease was made, in part, to accommodate the incontrovertible fact that the actual sweater would knit up at a tighter gauge. The expectation was that the sweater would eventually measure closer to 42 or 43 inches, not a whopping 46.

In a last ditch attempt to cling to my delusion, I decided to block what I had. Rumor had it that Rowan yarn initially stretches out and then pulls in. Rumor didn't prepare me for the sweater stretching out to 50 inches. It didn't lie, either, because once dry the sweater measured less, just not enough less - 46.5 inches to be precise, which is still Way Too Big.

Apologies to the Oldest Nephew. He'll have to go off to Grad School gray sweater-less. This time the Three R's stand for Rip, Reclaim, Re-knit. Or maybe Rail (as at the heavens), Rend, beRate.