Friday, September 13, 2013

Chance Favors the Prepared

Thirty degrees is a lot.

It's strange, but no matter how many times I hear it, no matter how much I look forward to it (at least when the drop starts from the mid-90's), no matter that except for that brief stint in California, I have spent my whole life in the Midwest, I am never prepared for just how big a temperature change thirty degrees is until it happens. Tuesday we were sweltering. Today I've thrown open my windows and am sitting here in a sweatshirt. It's Fall in Chicago.

You know what this means, don't you? This means I can confess. This means I can go public. This means I don't have to hide any more. No more pretending all I'm working on is easy warm weather knitting like cowls and fingering-weight shawls. This means I can announce that I am (wait for it) knitting another blanket!

I've written a couple times that the Princess and I are valiantly working our way through reducing the stash. When you work on cowls, mittens, socks, hats and children's sweaters, though (well, socks and mittens not me, but she does) the stash fades away gradually. I want some major disappearing here. I want my stash to fit in its baskets. I want Their Father to not walk from room to room and wonder if we're single-handedly supporting a sheep farm somewhere in Montana. Dang it, I want to buy more yarn with a clear conscience.

Which is why I am saying thank-you to Stephen West for the Garter Squish Blanket (it's free on Ravelry).

Worsted Weight. Double-stranded. Big needles. Full-size blanket. We're talking about ridding the Stash of 16 skeins in one fell swoop. And easy. It's garter stitch. Knit until the skeins run out and then start the next two. This thing eats yarn. Even better, I'm using up some of those lost, lone and left-over skeins. Those eight skeins of Rainier Heather Cascade 220 that I bought online when I thought they were blue and they turned out to be purple? They have found their project.

Okay, so this is me and I had to change it. That would be because two of those lost lone skeins are a really awful orange-and-green-heather-makes-for-one-muddy-brown.

I worried about knitting a large block with it. Even double-stranded with the Rainier Heather (purple) it looks brown. Keeping in mind that if you only choose pretty colors for a project you'll end up with a pretty boring project, I took the advice of Lady Macbeth and "screwed [my] courage to the sticking place" (that and I may have knit with one eye closed at the start). Somehow, though, juxtaposed in narrower bands between navy/purple and charcoal heather/purple, I like it. I'm curious to see what it looks like between the charcoal heather/purple and the more bluish/greenish-grey of the Smoke Heather/purple combination.

I find the knit-as-you-go I-cord edging particularly fetching. I may do this for all my garter stitch blankets from now on.

Not to mention that now that it's getting chilly here, instead of shivering in this robust northeasterly breeze, I get to sit with a lapful of wool.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Stitches 2013

This is partly about Inspira Cowls, but mostly about what they drove me to learn at Stitches.

If you page through the over 1700 Inspira Cowls on Ravelry, you may notice that every now and then one pops out with a flared top edge.  This does not appear to bother the knitters.  When Mesa Rock I turned out that way, it bothered me.  Graphica says to "BO just loose enough in rib." "Just loose enough." Right. I bound off with a larger needle. Flared. I bound off using the lace bind-off. Flared.  I bound off using Judy's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. Flared. 

I was not happy. I ripped out the bind off, put the whole thing back on the needles and proceeded to ignore it. 

Then I got my email reminder about homework for my Stitches classes.  Yes, I signed up for more than one. No, I don't know what I was thinking. Yes there was homework for one of them. No I don't know how I missed that one of them was for 8 AM Saturday morning. Yes, it was the one I had to knit seven swatches for.  It was worth it.  The class was a bind-off class with Sarah Peasley

Any class with Sarah Peasley is worth it.  This one was exactly what I needed. In the course of the morning, I mastered seven different bind-offs. 

Okay, six out of seven. That one on the bottom was supposed to be the bind-off based on Kitchener stitch (I think), but the field marshal and I had a disagreement and I ripped it out and put the swatch back on the needles. I will prevail over that one, just - later. Anyway. I also acquired the piece of wisdom that saved Mesa Rock and all future Inspira Cowls.  When you do stretchy bind-offs that involve yarn overs?  You don't need to yarn-over for every stitch.  Let me repeat that.

When you do stretchy bind-offs that involve yarn overs?  You don't need to yarn-over for every stitch.

Honestly, you would have thought I had discovered the wheel. 

Binding off with yarn-overs, as for the lace bind-off or Judy's Surprisingly Stretchy one, means you increase a stitch at the point before you close the stitch. That extra yarn is what makes the bind-off stretchy.  It's also what made my bind-off flare out. By spacing out the yarn-overs, you can control the amount of stretch in the bind-off.  I reduced my yarn-overs by half, doing one for every pair of stitches. And it worked.

Stretch without the flare.  If I didn't tell you that the edge on the top is the bottom and the edge below is the top of the cowl, would you know?

Good thing, given that I have all that new self-striping yarn, no?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Late to the Party, Again

Believe it or not, I am knitting something other than corrugated ribbing. But you have to get the story before you get the pictures.

It's not that I go looking for excuses to cheat on my resolution to knit from stash.  It's that there are always extenuating circumstances. The Market at Stitches Midwest has always qualified as the ultimate extenuating circumstance. As if all the yarn I bought there for Inspira Cowls had never happened (which technically, I can argue didn't, because yarn bought to make gifts doesn't count, right?), I went searching for my Stitches yarn.

True confessions time.  I have, in the past, bought some truly delicious yarn at Stitches.  There are the two hanks of Brooks Farm Mas Acero in a cornflower/porcelain kind of blue.  A couple years ago I succumbed to the lure of Silk/Merino Worsted from Ellen's Half-pint Farm and bought yarn that makes me think of poppies thinly scattered in wheat fields. Then there was the year I bought vast quantities of Jojoland Melody Superwash. I have never found the right pattern for any of these yarns, and so they languish. 

This time, I determined, would be different. This time I would restrain myself.  This time I went with a pattern in mind.  This time, when I returned from Stitches, it would be with something I wanted to make immediately.  I chose my pattern and downloaded my knitting folder onto my Nook, to make sure I had all the information I needed to make Carina Spencer's Catkin Shawl, and made a beeline for the Miss Babs booth.

I did not come away with yarn for the Catkin Shawl. Instead I was seduced by Color Affection.

I should mention that I had never been excited by CA.  I admit I looked at it pretty closely when the Yarn Harlot extolled it. Despite one of my favorite knit blogger's praise, despite the inspiration of nearly 10,000 knitters on Ravelry alone, I was unmoved. Just couldn't see the appeal.  

Back to the present. Miss Bab's has put together color sets called Trios designed specifically for Color Affection (or other three color objects).  She had a sample knit up in colors that, for me, recalled nothing so much as the Wicked Witch of the West - black, green, and purple. So not my colors, and yet I was completely won over. I liked the way the colors moved through the pattern.  I was intrigued by the cleverness of the construction.  And then there's that part of me that is something of a sucker for a curving shawl. 

As it turned out, none of the color sets called my name, but that didn't stop me. By the time Stitches was over, I had a Trio of my  own - Denim, Deep Sea Jellyfish, and Wheaten.

I am loving this shawl.

I've already started sneaking onto the Miss Babs website looking for new combinations. Although, now that I think about it, I do have some pretty amazing fingering yarn that hasn't been set aside for anything yet.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

There's Always Room for More

When one is most determinedly not yarn-buying, one needs to get one's fix somehow.  Ravelry helps.  One can locate patterns to knit some of that beautiful yarn one has accummulated almost obsessively over the years (which is why one is not yarn-buying, after all).  Marketing emails from semi-local yarn stores are even better, although more insidious. I know whereof I speak.  One of my favorite shops knocked me right off the wagon.

String Theory sent an email about perfect July 4 knitting.  She described it as "portable, mindless and impressive since I'll be knitting in public." Yes!  Exactly. The project she chose was the Inspira Cowl.  I bought the pattern last August, almost a year ago.  What I don't have is a huge stash of self-striping worsted weight yarn. You do see where this is going?

Knitting Inspira in the Classic Elite Liberty Print at the Fourth on 53rd Picnic fulfilled all my expectations about knitting in public.  It does indeed look impressive in progress:  yarn in both hands, stranding, colors emerging as if by magic from single skeins.  The reactions of the nieces attendant were particularly gratifying. They want one. All of them.  So does the Princess.  In fact, the Youngest Niece Present was all set to lay claim to the cowl in progress, based on the barely one-third I had knitted. (Sorry, YNP, the Princess tried it on when I resolved my bind-off issues - another post - and I don't think she's planning on releasing it.)

Except, poor me, I have very little love for self-striping yarns and so have very little in my stash.  I bought the Liberty Print especially to make the Mesa Rock Inspira.  Those two skeins or Noro Kureyon I'm using in the second, numerically-challenged cowl, which, unless claimed by one of said nieces, is intended for the local Christmas Bazaar, represented over half of my remaining self-striping yarn.  

That was then.  This is now.

In my defense, the Princess wanted a cowl big enough to pull over her head and still come down to her shoulders in the back.  That calls for extra yarn.

She chose Stained Glass for her main color with Cascade 220 Heather "Summer Sky" for her contrast.

The Eldest Niece chose Caribbean Tide with Malabrigo Twist in Teal Feather. 

I didn't have any Teal Feather Twist in my stash, either, so I had to buy a skein of that.

Well, what would you have done?
Special thanks to Wool and Company in St. Charles for coming to Stitches Midwest this year.  And to FiberWild for putting the Liberty Wool Print on sale this week. 

Oh. That Noro and the Liberty Wool Print in Cupcake, Cloudy Day and Tropical Sea?  I'm still working on those excuses.

Monday, August 26, 2013


or, "Is it a mistake or is it a design element?"

Under the influence of String Theory's e-newsletter, over the fourth of July weekend I started and (almost) finished this.

This is the Inspira Cowl.  The pattern has three variations: Mesa Rock for aran weight yarns, Steampunk for sock or fingering weight and Afrique for bulky.  I used Classic Elite Liberty Prints -- a worsted to light worsted weight --  in Brick Road and Cloudy Day and obediently went with the Mesa Rock variation, but cast on 160 stitches to compensate for my slightly thinner yarn. It was fun. Fast. Easy but engaging.  Until I got to the bind-off, but that's another story.

I decided to  make another one.

This one is Noro Kureyon in a mystery color (I have had this forever, I don't remember for what and the ball-bands have gone the way of stitch markers, tape dispensers at wrapping time, my good scissors and single socks).  The cream yarn is Jaeger Matchmaker that I bought as a bag lot lo, these many ages ago, when Flying Colors closed and was clearing out their stock.

Since yarn for this one is DK I decided to try the Steampunk version. Except I decided I had to compensate for the fact the DK is heavier than fingering yarn. 

This is where I demonstrate that a little learning is the road to good intentions. 

The Mesa Rock version is 2 x 2 rib, so you need to cast on a multiple of 4.  The Steampunk cowl is supposed to be 3 x 3 rib (more gear-like in the designer's mind?), so between that and the thinner yarn, I cast on 180 stitches.  Except 180 is also divisible by 4 and that's when it all went sliding down the razor blade of Math.  I merrily knit my corrugated rib in 2 x 2, not 3 x 3. The Mesa Rock version has you work a progression of repeats. Three sets of 9, followed by three sets of 7 and then three sets of 5.  Steampunk repeats 3 times too, but repeats sets of 12,6, 3, that is, 12,6,3 - 12,6,3 - 12,6,3 - 12.  I left my instructions stashed in my knitting bag and mindlessly knit two sets of 12, then pulled out the pattern and, while maintaining my original delusion, misread it further and did a set of 6 and a set of 3.

Now I had choices. Do a second set of 6, 3 and then go back into pattern for the final 12,6,3,12? Go for a mirror image thing, and do another 3 rows making the pattern 12,12, 6, 3,3, 6, 12, 12? Except then I'm short 9 rounds, so maybe I need 12, 12, 6,6, 3,3, 6, 6, 12, 12?  Which would leave me three rows over the pattern total and while I want to use up all this yarn that might be calling it dangerously close?

The designer says, "The most valuable lesson by far is to make your Inspira all your own. Modify it to your heart's content, & you will be better for it, Gentle Knitter." Which, it cannot be denied, I had done. I just wish I had taken her advice on purpose instead of as a math failure.

Is it a surprise that before the Princess and I left for Stitches Midwest, I frogged back to the middle of the second set of 12 rows?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Turn Around, Turn Around

I remember watching Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when I was a little girl.  Kodak ran a commercial -- and let's tip our hats to Madison Avenue -- that I remember better than any of the actual shows.  It featured the Malvina Reynolds/Harry Belafonte song about "Where are you going my little one, little one..."  The point, of course, was to make sure we used Kodak film and cameras to capture those Kodak moments.

Since yesterday I keep singing in my head, "turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four, turn around and your a young man going out of my door."

The Lord Protector left for college this morning. Wasn't he just hip-high yesterday?
And then I turned around.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It Worked

It's amazing what a difference the details make. 

From this (very generic, almost boy-like run of the mill dark red sweater)

to this.

Pattern: Arrowhead lace pattern from Nicki Epstein's Knitting Over the Edge (or Beyond the Edge) added to Knitting Pure and Simple's basic Children's Neckdown Pullover.
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Red Wine Heather.
Needles: Addi Turbo's, US 9 for body, US 7 for the edging and neckline.

Things I want to remember.
- I did fewer repeats for the sleeves than I did for the bottom, making a narrower edge.

- The pattern called for a multiple of 10 plus 1.  Since I knit it in the round, I could have skipped the plus 1. Since I didn't, one of the repeats has a two-row vertical bar instead of one-row.  It's at the side seam, so it's not that noticeable, but I wish I had paid attention sooner than I did (which was after I bound off).  

- The sweater ended with 138 stitches, so I knit a transition row on the smaller needles and increased 3 stitches evenly across the bottom edge. I decreased a couple stitches at the sleeves (and forgot to write down how many) on the theory that a closer cuff would be warmer than a looser one, and that the additional give in the lace pattern would still accommodate the widest part of the hand.  Since I could get my hand through, I figure it worked.

Don't get me wrong. I love the basic neckdown raglan sleeve child's sweater.  It's in the round, so it's mindless.  It's worsted weight yarn, so it's fast without looking clunky (an attribute of bulky wools, at least the way I knit them). The call, however, was for a pretty sweater. Basic just wasn't going to cut it.

The sweater is on its way, packed up with the last two pairs of socks The Princess knit.  The deadline is the end of the month, so it should get to a4A headquarters in plenty of time. 

Don't you just love details?

Monday, July 15, 2013


Or, What to Do When You're at Loose Ends.

Turns out I've been knitting all this time.  

When one is actually knitting (as opposed to surfing, scrolling, reading, flipping through books and magazines looking at pretty pictures and knitting accoutrements), once accumulates finished objects.

Sadly, once the knitting is done, there's all that other stuff (washing, blocking and sewing in the ends).
I had a very busy weekend.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Waking the Sleeping Giant

Speaking of unearthing. 

This all started over two years ago.  I had been wildly irresponsible, in a yarn-ish  sort of way, and bought an entire dyelot of Briar Rose Fibers Wistful and needed to justify it. I saw Spud Says Hi's  "Last Gasp of Winter" blanket, a.k.a. "Embellished Squares" (pattern is still here). It seemed ideal.  So what if hers was based on self-striping yarn and my yarn was merely variegated? It was beautifully variegated, so I told myself.  Besides, a pattern that increased every other row was guaranteed to ward off the bane of almost all varicolored yarn - pooling.

Well, we all know what happens to projects that start out with an excess of optimism and justification, and my blanket was not immune.  First, and very early on, came the part where I decided Spud knew something I didn't and I would need to find a way to break up the yarn into stripes.  I'm sure coming across Carol Sunday's yarn at Knitche had nothing to do with the decision.

All went swimmingly through the first 500 yard skein of Wistful.  And seemingly through almost all of the second, for that matter.  Which is when I took a good look at it and relearned the lesson of hand-dyed artisan yarn most emphatically.  The second skein, though equally beautiful, did not match the first and no amount of arguing would change that fact.

Disheartened, I set the blanket aside.  Every now and then, when tossing the stash or scrounging for a simple half-finished project, I would disturb the mammoth, sigh despondently, and move on.  I knew it would eventually need to be frogged, but it was a pretty good size.  Well, not to put too fine a point on it, it was huge. Massive. Gargantuan, even. We're talking 1000 yards of the Wistful and several hundred yards of various Sunday Knits solids.  Going forward seemed pointless, but going back was overwhelming, so it would sink back into the depths.

Periodically, I would try to devise clever and creative schemes for finishing it.  I could rip back the second skein, buy more Sunday knits fingering yarns in the solids that I used and double-strand to camouflage the visual discord.  I could rip it back and use the second skein for the border, trusting that the change from stockinette to garter-stitch would disguise the color change.  I would tell myself I could bind it off and give it away and whoever got it would just be stuck with the mismatched dyelots, too intimidated by the vast amount of knitting to do anything but drape it over a chair whenever I came visiting; it would at least be out of the house.

Imagine my surprise then, this past winter, when it broke surface again. I noticed what I had never noticed before.  By introducing the solid color contrasting stripes, I had separated the two skeins.  I had, in fact, already performed that sleight of hand that turned the not-quite-the same skeins into a design element. 

So I wound up the final 500 yard skein and I've been knitting away at that garter-stitch border (because I am not entirely confident that I will forgive this blanket for a third variation) ever since.

Leviathan that it is, rather than unearthing perhaps, like humpback whales,  it breached. Both the surface and my defenses.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Heart's Ease

We are and have been a cat family for thirty years.  We learned when our first cat died at the ripe old age (for a cat) of 15, that a cat-less household is lacking.  Basil was a purebred British Shorthair and the cat who saw us through our expansion from the birth of our first child to our last. When he died, we knew we wouldn't get another British Shorthair, but we still had small children who needed a stable, calm-demeanored, sweet-tempered cat.  So we went the purebred route again, this time with an American Shorthair and got Liz as a kitten.  When we went (to Kalamazoo) to pick her up, the breeder introduced us to Autumn, a mom-cat who was going to be retired from breeding.  Two weeks later we went back for her and became a two-cat household.

This was a mistake.

They never adjusted to each other.  Eight years of internecine warfare.  I found myself noting how few species of cats live in groups.  I would observe that cats are not pack animals. No one sees herds of cats roaming the prairies and plains alongside the buffalo and caribou, right?  Lizzie was a much happier cat after Autumn died and she was the one-and-only, so much so that I swore I would never again have multiple cats.

When Lizzie died in April, I started scouting British Shorthair breeders again, thinking it was time to go back to the breed of my most favorite cat.  I stalked websites.  I watched for news of new litters or retired cats. I had three cats picked out and was planning that roadtrip to make a final decision. I never, not for a single moment, contemplated a rescued or shelter cat.

Let me digress here and note that my good friend over at Katzundyarner Bits is a multiple cat owner (look at the list on her sidebar). She also works with the local Trap/Neuter/Release program (Hyde Park Cats). Said local TNR program also fosters out cats - rescued cats and cats from shelters.  I have known of her work with this group for a long time.  Somehow, every time I thought I had made a decision on the next pure-bred, I found that I hadn't.  Instead I was spending increasing time at Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet.  After all, I didn't have little kids that might terrorize or be terrorized by a shelter cat.  Maybe it was time to broaden my horizon.  Eventually I started stalking the Hyde Park Cats blog.  Astra, a sweet looking female calico showed up. Aha! The perfect cat for us, I thought. Okay, so there were also this pair of cute black kittens, a sister and her adopted brother. But there were two of them and the listing said they had to be adopted together. And they weren't calicos. Or even tabbies.  HPC seemed to think I should inquire after a couple choices, though, so I included them in my email. Guess which we chose?

Meet Zoe (formerly Hennessy, but I'm married to a history major and he had just finished a book on Byzantium and really wanted to name a female cat after the 11th century Empress) and Remy.  They joined Chez Wool-Gathering in May. 

They've grown.

Turns out a bonded pair is a whole different kindle of kittens than the two divas we had before.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Can This Sweater be Saved?

It's pretty obvious that I've been terribly neglectful of Afghans for Afghans.  The Princess sends off socks and mittens and hats and I  - watch.  This latest campaign, the one for sweaters for schoolgirls finally got me engaged again.  For one thing, I love sweaters.  A child's sweater, I figured, would be a piece of cake.  The a4A website asked, "Shouldn't all school girls have a new, beautiful wool sweater to wear to class? Yes! Yes! Yes!" and I knew I was in. 

The trick was finding a yarn that would make the sweater pretty.  The Princess and I have absolutely committed to knitting from stash until the yarn we have can be contained in the space we have.  I had no idea I had bought so many variations on dark until I went stash-diving for pretty.  Dream in Color Classy in Black Parade and Gothic Rose. Dream in Color Knitosophy in Superhero.  Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester in Raven.  Sunshine Yarns Merino Silk Fine in Black Truffle.  There's Sweet Georgia Superwash in Nightshade. Madelintosh Vintage in Ink.  My collection of sweater quantities of Cascade 220 -- my absolute favorite workhorse yarn for sweaters -- is comprised almost entirely of dark blues and browns.  What isn't is dark red or greyish green or sickly tarnished gold. I have only an odd skein here and there of soft, pretty colors.  So I went with the dark red. I reasoned it was less dismal than the others.  That, and I like red.

I cast on for Knitting Pure and Simple's basic Neck-down Child's pullover, figuring I 'd power through it in no time. I had most of the body knit when I pulled it out to show a fellow knitter.  It was the just-a-little-too-long pause followed by a comment that suggested she thought it would work for a boy that brought me up short and made me take a good look at what I had. She was right.  There was no way this could be called a pretty sweater.  Striping the waistband turned out just ugly. It seems most soft, pretty colors fight with this red.  What to do, what to do?  Something to the bottom hem and cuffs, since any other alternative would involve ripping out the whole sweater.

I hauled out Nicky Epstein's Knitting On the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge. I swatched.

Surely one of these will work?

Friday, April 05, 2013


Back when the Princess was spending her junior year abroad, she was befriended.  As I wrote at the time, this so eased my heart that I knit a blanket for the family that enfolded her. It took forever to get the right match of pattern and yarn, but once I had it, the blanket flew off my needles.  I always thought it would be my go-to blanket pattern.  The one I would knit when, in some excess offering of comfort or devotion, I needed to give something major to someone.

So when my most favorite neighbor moved, it made perfect sense to me to make one for her.  Once again, getting two yarns to work together involved a lot of trial and error.  And I mean a lot.  I still have vast quantities of yarn that proved to be dreadful mistakes from this foray.  Except I never finished it.  She's been gone for years and the yarn, pattern and knitting languish in the bottom of one of the knitting baskets.

Undeterred, I heard from/of a dear person who was going through such a nightmare series of loss and dismay that I determined she needed a blanket.  My previous failure blithely ignored, I once again started on that toilsome journey of swatching and experimentation to find the perfect yarn combination.  It took three yarns to achieve the effect I wanted this time, and some innovative knitting to get the colors where I wanted them, but I did it.

Guess what project is now unearthed here only for the photo opportunity, destined to sit neglected in the bottom of another knitting basket, referred to in the previous post as the blanket that will probably be frogged?

 It seems the blanket I sent over the Atlantic is and always will be one of a kind.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


When you decide it's a good idea to take advantage of half the family being out of the country to drive 3 hours to central Michigan to possibly meet a cat owner and pick up a three-year old adult cat because you're not sure you want to raise another kitten.  When you call up Google Maps to plot a route and try to determine if you can make it there and back before the Pirate gets home from his sheltered workshop.  When you try to convince yourself that the temporarily non-present members of the family will not object to finding a full-grown cat installed when they get home.  All of this before you've contacted the cat owner and have no idea of the exact address of the place you're planning to drive to or even if the cat is still available, perhaps it would be the better part of valor to distract yourself with knitting, or at least with writing about knitting.   The planned activity being, perhaps, not the most rational response to the silence.

Quite a lot of knitting has been happening here, finishing knitting, in point of fact, since -- when did I last post?  January? February?  The list includes a blanket (Christmas present yarn), three cowls (intended for Christmas market fundraiser, but I was strangely reluctant to part with them to strangers), a shawlette, and two scarves.  

Still, perhaps it would be wiser to look at the objects in progress, since one of the most frustrating things about not blogging is that when I finally return to a project, I often have pulled the needles or lost the pattern. With no blog, there's no record of what I was thinking. And yes, I know I could just throw the pictures up on Ravelry, but the Blog came first and I am loyal to my first love.

There may actually be more works in progress than there are finished objects anyway.  Right here and now, just off the top of my head, I can think of two sweaters, another blanket, two - no - three shawls (maybe four?), a third blanket (but it's probably going to be frogged so maybe it doesn't count).   Make that four blankets counting the potential frogee ("I'll come in again. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!").

Today, let me log in the almost forgotten blanket.

Pattern - Briar Rose Fibers, the Rosebud Blanket (and why has no one on Ravelry knit this already, hmm?).
Yarn - Dream in Color Classy in Chinatown Apple from Eat.Sleep.Knit.  Purchased so long ago I almost feel guilty for disturbing what I'm sure the yarn had hoped would be a permanent sinecure.
Needles - Addi Turbo's, US 10/6mm.

This is actually an adaptation, since I wanted a bigger blanket but got gauge to match the one recommended for the smaller version.  This meant math.  Which meant miscalculation, as was brought home to me most painfully when I K1P1'ed my way across the lower seed-stitch border trying to make it match the width of what would be the side borders.  I consider it a testament to my dedication to perfection that I knit that border for a solid four inches and did not strangle myself with my circulars.

*** Insert segue here, something about noticing the number of projects listed above and the almost total neglect of the Blog over lo these many months. ***

I notice I only posted seventeen times 2012.  Here's a wild and crazy idea.  Can I post more times in April than I posted all last year? 

Kind of makes one wonder which plan is the more irrational.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tuesday, 3 AM

"How could this small body hold
So immense a thing as Death? "
                        -Sara Henderson Hay

March 7, 1998 - April 2, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Style or Substance

I've got a variety of stockinette based knitting going on right now, with plans for another one as soon as the yarn gets here. I suppose it was to be expected that I would break out in another direction entirely, and soon, just to maintain my balance.

I don't think it's working. The pattern, the Surprise Hat and Cowl from Cinzia Knits, is easy to memorize and fun to knit.  The yarn is Mirasol's Tufa, a 50% merino and 50% silk blend, so it's soft and shimmery.  The combination should have been a no-brainer, except I got, I don't know, lazy? hurried? fixated on instant gratification (and if that's what I wanted why didn't I just go shopping? What made me think any of those things were compatible with sticks and string?)?  I decided that since one of the options for the matching hat involved bulky yarn, I could double-strand my DK weight yarn for the cowl, and then it would knit up fast.  Seeing it typed up here makes it look really idiotish.  Did I really think I could do that and not end up with a piece that was so rigid it could stand (literally) against gale-force winds?  Maybe I should blog before I knit.

It looks pretty, I know, but it feels like - I don't know what.  Heavy. Stiff. Clunky. All the things merino and silk should not feel like. 

On the Princess' advice, I slipped the stitches off my needle and sent the project off to wet block.  She pointed out that sometimes wet-blocking a piece, especially a piece with lots of decreases and yarn-overs, transforms the knitting in unexpected ways.  Not this time. It looks exactly like I expected it, but doesn't feel any better than it did while still on the needles.  All right, so it's still damp and so it may be too soon to tell.  I've gone this far and will wait until the knitting has dried before I rip it all out, but I think the yarn and the pattern deserve better. Substance is not synonymous with substantial. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Infinite Variety

Or, "Why I love the watch cap pattern from Knits Men Want."

In a stunning display of dramatic activity, the three hats for afghans for Afghans are finished and on their way, piggybacking on the 7 (yes, seven) hats The Princess knit up.  Good thing I'm not the competitive type of mother.  

I've needed something to kick start my knitting.  I spend ages on Ravelry looking at pattens and think, "Oh! Isn't that pretty," but I don't knit them.  I pick up skeins of yarn or look around at the Stash and think, "Wouldn't that work up into something wonderful," but I don't cast on.

When I do start something, the bloom fades off the rose with astonishing rapidity.  Three cowls never got finished for the Christmas Market.  I ran into dyelot issues with the green sweater and haven't had the gumption to frog and re-knit. An afghan for a friend currently living the life of Job gets pulled out only to be stuffed back into another random stash basket.

None of this does much for the Blog, either.

The plea for hats, mittens and knitted socks for the latest campaign for a4A couldn't have some at a more opportune time.  Apparently my hands have been itching to knit, they just needed a purpose (as opposed to a reason).

Three watch caps, then, all started at multiples of 4 to accommodate 2x2 ribbing in the round.  All easily adjusted at the transition row to a multiple of 6 or 7 to make for an easy pattern of successive decreases.  All in yarn that was such fun to knit up.

Green hat - Malabrigo chunky in Emerald and Cascade 128 in Sapphire
Needles - Addi Turbos, US 11/8 mm.

Red hat - Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Red Hot Passion (no, it does not actually fluoresce)
Needles - Addi Turbos, US 8/5 mm.

Multicolor hat - Malabrigo Rios in Indiecita
Needles - Addi Turbos, US 8/5 mm.

A rousing cheer then, for a4A.  Not only have I started the year with three finished objects, I finished one of the cowls (sort of, but that may be another post).

Except they really want mittens and socks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Stanford won the Rose Bowl and Alabama defeated Notre Dame.

I blocked the Mara shawl and St. Nicholas brought me a new knitting bag.

Not necessarily in that order.

Life is good.

Friday, January 04, 2013


Or, "In with the new out with the old."

dianeH and I were chatting and blogging came up.  We noted with sadness how infrequently even some of our most favorite bloggers were posting, theorizing that we (or at least I) was less inclined to post, because other bloggers weren't out there to inspire me anymore.  We postulated that maybe we needed to find some new blogs, which is when she mentioned that some of the people I list in the sidebar haven't posted for years. 

Not only have some of the people not posted in years (and years and years), some of the websites are gone and some of the LYS and CyberYS are defunct. Add in my confession that I missed writing on a regular basis, and attending to This Blog suddenly became a priority.

I have hereby re-acquainted myself with Blogger's dashboard.  Removed from the list of Favorite People those that have clearly fallen by the wayside.  Added new LYS and CYS to the Instant Gratification and Delayed Gratification sections and chosen a new Motto.  

Back when I started this, I promised myself that I would post faithfully at least three times a week.   I also acknowledged to myself that I'm a lot more interested in the stories in the knitting than I am in the teaching or technical or how-to aspects.   What I screw up and discover is part of the story, diagrams and instruction are not. While the blog is still about what happens when you come to knitting late in life, I think the new motto, from (I think) Jef Mallett via the Frazz comic strip, pretty much sums up my knitting philosophy.  

Which, come to think of it, may be my attitude toward Life, the Universe and Everything.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Begin As You Mean To Go On

Despite my determination to knit for myself this year, I find it strangely satisfying that the last thing off my needles in 2012 was for someone else,

and so is the first thing on my needles for 2013.

Happy New Year.