Thursday, December 31, 2015


I can see the future.

I foresee a Kitty Pi Bed in mine.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


I can't believe I did it.  Fell into the over-ambitious knitting for Christmas trap.   

It started out almost reasonably.  Having succeeded in NAtional KNIt a SWEater MOnth - not only participating but actually finishing a sweater (more about that later, to make up for not posting at all in November) - I decided I could make a sizable dent in the stash by knitting the sweater for the brother who asked for one back when I knit the Seamless Yoke Sweater for the Lord Protector. That would be the sweater that started in 2007 and finished in 2008.  

I was so flattered I went looking for yarn right away (the stash was much smaller seven years ago).  Seven years is a long time to hold onto a yarn.  So long that Rowan had discontinued it.  I bought lots of it, though, thinking about what a tall man he is. Scottish Tweed Aran  is (was?) a really heavy worsted, maybe even a heavy aran. Either way, I figured 1) heavy yarn means big needles equals fast knitting; 2) it's commercial yarn, not indie-spun or indie-dyed so no pooling or mis-matched skeins; 3) I knit a big honking sweater in less than a month, and would have done it in two weeks if I hadn't done the indie-dyer thing; 4) I had a month to Christmas, so I wasn't planning unrealistically; 5) the Lord Protecor had strict instructions to bring his sweater home from college, so I would have a template, as long as the new sweater matched the old sweater in size, I was golden.

It all went so wrong.  I may never trust Elizabeth Zimmermann again.  Admitedly, I went for the raglan rather than the shirt-yoke variation, but I still maintain the yoke should have come out the same size.  It didn't.

While I was living in happy delusion, I got an email that Their Father's goddaughter had found a tree-skirt. It's crochet, but I know how to do that. 

"Well," I thought, "crochet is fast and I still have weeks before Christmas." I figured I could finish both projects. It might be tight, but not irrational.  Besides the pattern is free.  Yes, it calls for acrylic yarn, but all the local big-box craft stores carry the product.  Except two of the colors had been discontinued and it turns out you have to get up pretty early - like October - if you want Christmas color yarn around here.  Okay, fine. I didn't really want to knit it in acrylic anyway. No problem. I have Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in almost every color I need and I can get the rest semi-locally.  The pattern calls for 316 yarn skeins.  The Pure Wool Worsted comes in 209 yard skeins. If I got 2 of the Rowan per each skein of acrylic, I'd have a generous plenty.

How then, when I should have had 100 yards left over, did I run out of the dark red three repeats from the end of the third to last row?

I should add.  When one is crocheting a circle, each round gets progressively longer. Ergo, therefore and Q.E.D. each round will take more time.  Factor in having to rip out the third to the last round (which, by the way used the most-yarn- and time- guzzling stitches I have ever some across), because of that yarn shortfall and perhaps you'll understand why the embroidery didn't happen.

You would think that between a sweater and a tree skirt I would have said enough.  Not so.  I decided I had to knit a scarf.  While powering away (as I thought) on the sweater, I realized I had never knit anything for one of my brothers. Admittedly, looking back, I think I got the idea for the scarf before I got the request for the tree skirt, but maybe not.  I do sometimes get chronologically challenged that way.  Anyway, once I had the idea the result was inevitable.  Not just that I would commence knitting a scarf but that I would fail to finish it.  I just didn't know about the inevitable failure bit until two days before Christmas and I still refused to admit it right up to the  point where I had to wrap the unfinished scarf still on the needles with it's ball of yarn still attached because I had no back-up gift.

Well. I certainly have a good start on next year's Christmas crisis presents.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I'm Ready

A couple days ago, Janet Avila of String Theory Yarn Co. sent off an email reminding knitters that November is NAtional KNIt a SWEater in a MOnth month. I've been all about sweaters lately, and I've decided it's time to run with the herd. Since the email came, I have spent ages trying to find the perfect yarn, hoping I could persuade myself into breaking the yarn budget on a really over-the-top sweater. Nothing sang to me. I faced the fact that I'm not really the over-the-top type. Then I realized that I could continue my slide down the Heidi Kirrmaier slope, and that if I did, I already I have the perfect yarn for the perfect pattern.

Way back when, in a fit of greed, I ordered a lot of (the now discontinued) Miss Babs Northumbria Aran.  At the time I only admitted to a box full. I'm still not coming clean, but suffice to say, I will have enough to knit a sweater for me and still have more than adequate yarn to complete the shawl (If the spirit should ever so move me. It should be noted that that photograph in that post, taken back in February 2012, is still an accurate depiction of my progress).

My current most favorite cardigan, beating out the fingering weight Vitamin D in the preceding post, is Heidi Kirrmaier's Fine Sand.  I have two finished and another one started.  That's news for another post or two.  I foresee Sweater V2.0 and V2.1 or something along those lines. Anyway. Fine Sand is a sport/DK/22 stitches-per-inch pattern.  Up until yesterday, I thought all my sweaters would be made from fingering to DK yarns.

Yesterday, the boiler failed.  Well, possibly the night before.  Not a quick fix either.  Something was leaking and needed to be replaced.  Even though the temperature here was in the 40's, it was cold enough inside to remind me why heavier sweaters and Chicago winters are like tea and cakes, needle and thread, milk and cookies. Aran weight yarn won't work for Fine Sand.  It will, though, for the companion cardigan - Quick Sand.

Not only that, it will give me a chance to try out my new Indian Lakes Artisans Made in Michigan Right Here in the USA hexagon shaped circulars (They came back to Stitches Midwest this year).

I'm winding and swatching and come Sunday, I'm casting on.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sweater v1.0

I am trying to be inspired here.  If Kay and Ann can come back to blogging, surely there is hope for the patient, right?  And don't I want to keep said patient alive? Of course I do.  All of which makes the fact that I have knit three sweaters in the past six months and started two more and never mentioned a one of them in the blog, nothing short of reprehensible.

It started when I decided what I needed more than anything else in the world was a silk-blend sweater to wear to a spring wedding.  A careful examination on Ravelry led me to Heidi Kirrmaier and the Vitamin D Cardigan.  As an added benefit, I already had the pattern. I had bought it back in 2012. 

I spent I don't know how many mornings paging through the projects on Ravelry (there are a lot).  I did notice (probably around page 53 and/or Day 4) that the sweaters I liked best were knit with sock yarn, rather than the sport weight the pattern called for.  A thorough examination of the stash turned up nothing suitable. A great sale on Craftsy for Cascade Heritage Silk determined the yarn choice.  Too bad the color I wanted was out of stock.  Still, one must give credit where credit is due, and it was there that I decided the sweater would be knit in Heritage Silk or not at all.  I ended up with Cerulean  from the good folk at The Loopy Ewe (Good heavens. I checked. I ordered the yarn in March. I note that the Blog has absolutely no mention of yarn buying in March. Well, at least now I have a record of when the project started). 

In an astonishing exercise in discipline, I swatched. Even more astonishing, I got gauge (24 stitches and 32 rows/4 inches (US 6's). Most astonishing, I finished in time for the wedding. I knit like the wind, no mean feat for the world's slowest knitter.  The yarn was lovely to work with and the pattern one of the clearest and best written ones I have come across.  It made me a Heidi Kirrmaier fan for life.  And while I didn't wear the sweater to the wedding (too casual for formal wear, even with the beads I added to the cuffs and hem),

and am now regretting the beaded cast-off (too dressy for ordinary wear),  it ranks right up there with the three most favorite sweaters I ever knit. I did at least have it to wear at Stitches.

I will probably, someday,  remove the beads. 

 If only I didn't have to frog the front-and-neck trim so I can get them off the bottom hem.

Pattern: Heidi Kirrmaier's Vitamin D.
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk in Cerulean.
Needles: Addi US 6/ 4.0 mm for body, US 5/3.75 mm for the garter stitch trim at cuffs, hem and front and neck.

Monday, August 17, 2015


I can't explain why I keep failing to buy anything from Miss Babs in Vlad's, but it happened again this year.  There's history here.

The first year that Miss Babs came to Stitches Midwest I saw a worsted weight Blue-faced Leicester yarn called Northumbria Aran in a color called Vlad's (Yes, as in Vlad Dracula.  It must have been the first of the big vampire-craze years).  It wasn't eye-searing or stop sign-ish, or washed-out or anemic. Put simply, it was, I thought, the best red I had ever seen.  I was determined, before that Market closed on the last day, I was going to get that yarn. Except I didn't. I got cold feet, or pre-emptive assumptive buyer's remorse, or something.

I regretted it for a whole year.  The next time Miss Babs came to Stitches, I went into the Market with the rock-hard determination that I would get me sweater quantities of that yarn. Except I didn't, again. That might have been the year someone got there ahead of me.  Yarn delayed is yarn denied, so I came up with a clever plan. I would order it from the website. I ordered Navy instead.  It's a wonderful yarn and a beautiful shade of blue.  Admittedly I haven't knit anything out of it yet.

Back to Stitches the following year.  I had given up the plan to buy vast quantities of the Northumbria Aran, but I was sure, sure, I would buy something in Vlad's, probably in Yowza! Whatta Skein!  That was the year almost every booth had a Color Affection Shawl on display.  The designer had used red in one of the pattern samples.  This was going to be easy.  So what did I end up with?  Yummy 3-ply in Denim, Wheaten and Deep Sea Jellyfish. It is my most favorite winter scarf.

This year?  Failed again, despite setting my sights a little lower.  I wasn't looking for sweater or afghan quantities of Vlad's in any weight this year.  This year I decided to finally treat myself to a replacement of the Knitspot  Les Abeilles Shawl I knit with one skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk in Ruby.  The one that it seems I alluded to only once and that briefly, and which came out approximately the size of a folded cowboy bandana. So yes, pretty much unwearable. I came to Stitches with a really unshakable plan to get two skeins of Vlad's in a wool/silk fingering weight so I could make the largest Les Abeilles that Anne Hanson had included in the pattern (800 yards).

I came away with two skeins of red Shiruku, a lovely 50/50 merino/silk fingering weight, just not in Vlad's.  It's called Scarlet Letter (so not my favorite 19th Century American Novel).  

And not for Les Abeilles. For that I bought two skeins of Seda Sock (also merino/silk fingering) in Petals from Grinning Gargoyle.

Maybe next year?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Red Letter Day

Important Day here at Chez WoolGathering. We've been counting down for months (since Christmas, really), then for weeks, finally for days.  Now it's here. The Pirate turned 26 today.

It's always been all about the party with him, hasn't it.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Seems like a long, long time

Remember this? The Barn Raising Quilt from Knitalong?  I decided when the book first came out that it was the perfect summer knitting project. Modular and therefore portable.  Sock yarn (something I hadn't had an excuse to stockpile, not yet having discovered fingering weight shawls) and therefore posing no risk of lap-full of worsted on a hot July afternoon.

It wasn't that big a project.  It still isn't, at the gauge I got. No more than 42 squares. Okay, maybe 48. Or 56. Anyway, given that the squares max out at 43 stitches per side, that once you've got your stitch markers in place (and have remembered to us an odd one to mark the start of the round) the knitting is self-correcting, and that the knitting is simple stockinette in the round, they just don't take that long to knit. A day, a day-an-a-half, tops.

Why then, one might wonder, have I been knitting on this since 2008 and still have only 16 squares finished? That would be because I haven't touched it since 2010, when I jokingly estimated 4 more summers to completion. What happened is, alas, a sad, sad tale of indecision and hand-dyed yarn, not in that order.

The last time I wrote anything about the Barn Raising Quilt, I referred to a serious dyelot issue, but claimed a happy ending.  I was unduly optimistic. Had the yarn at issue been any other than the colorway I had chosen to base the blanket on (on which I had chosen to base the blanket?) (A preposition is a perfectly good word . . .), I could have coped. Had the first two dyelots of Claudia Handpainted Fingering in Walk in the Woods been close, I could have coped. When the third dyelot, which I had bought directly from Claudia at the Fine Points booth at Stitches Midwest, and which (I thought) I had minutley compared to a knitted square in the original dyelot, didn't match, I called it three strikes and hid the project deep-deep in frustrated and rejected project-land until this summer.

This summer I am feeling brave.  This summer I am feeling capable.  This summer I really, really needed something to distract me from the disaster that overtook my home in the name of kitchen renovation.  Chaos everywhere meant I needed to impose order somewhere, so the Princess and I tossed the stash with an eye to String Theory's Stash Sale.  We didn't make it (although we'll be ready for next year), but I found most of the yarn from the original Barn Raising.  I still have some absentees -- the second of the original Walk in the Woods comes to mind, along with the tiny stitch markers I used on the tiny needles -- but by laying out the finished squares and the remaining skeins, I realized that I can make a pretty darn nice looking blanket, even if I can't base it on the Walk in the Woods Dyelot of My Dreams.

I've suffered one slight set-back.  I had planned on three squares per 50g/175 yard skein of Claudia Handpaints fingering (now known as Addiction).  As it happens, I come up about 9 rows and a bind-off short.  That safety pin marks the start of the new skein of yarn.

Make that two slight setbacks - some of the colorways have been discontinued (Claudia Handpainted in Taupe, the Shibui Knits in Pagoda and in Dragonfly), others are lost in the stash (the dark blue, which may be Claudia Handpainted Antique Jeans). Some are both ( the Claudia Handpainted in Jungle).

Poor me.  I had to buy more yarn. Since I've learned my lesson from the Walk in the Woods disaster, I'm  not even going to attempt to match the absent yarns.

Instead I'm trying three completely new colors: Rubies Playing, Honey and Mushroom Hunting.  All Claudia Handpainted Addiction. The plan (I always need a plan, don't I?) is to knit one square of each color, see if any of them work, and go from there.

That, or I'll scout Fine Points booth at Stitches again this year and come away with a fourth Walk in the Woods dyelot.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Saga Continues

I bet you thought I'd be done with the kitchen by now. I know I did.

This was such a limited excursion into remodeling. We had to replace the (original, cast-iron, ca. 1920) pipes, but why install the replacements in the same place, the middle of the room?

 As long as we were putting new in, why not put them in in someplace that makes sense? Like an existing perimeter wall. Then just put things back. That's all. No big deal.  I figured 3, maybe 4 weeks, tops. Yet here I am and the carpenters are only just getting here to re-install the last of the cabinets, fit the last of the counters, oh, and fix that 8" by 30" hole in my floor, the one left when the pipes got pulled out.

It's all compromises at this point. Not being a big enough project to demand the full time and attention of any given contractor on any given day -- well, except for the plumbers who got to play with all that brand new copper pipe -- the whole take apart and reassemble bit has been fit in between other, bigger projects from other crankier more demanding, less tolerant clients than I am.  I'm holding hard to the knowledge that once this round is finished, I'll only have to get the drywall people back in to paint and we'll be done, at least as done as I'm willing to take the project for now.

Because there will be more. The floor looks awful.  That's the kindest thing that can be said for it.  It's all going to have to come out, if for no other reason than that it's higher than the rest of the floors. And while we do now know that there is actual hardwood flooring (probably maple, possibly oak) under the ½"+ layers of linoleum tile and sub-flooring, it's damaged and I don't know if it will be salvageable. Even if it is, the floor itself waves like a child's drawing of the ocean, partly due to the steel beam that runs beneath the middle of it.

In order to take the floor out, we have to uninstall the cabinets. The few that we removed amply demonstrated that even heavy duty carpenter's glue does not last forever.  It doesn't even last 30 years.  I'm quite sure that trying to shift the cabinets so we could get all the way down to the original floor would mean I wouldn't have any cabinets left. Since I have no idea what I want to replace them with, this would not be good.

So, all in all, I suppose it's not a bad thing to live with this new floor plan for a while.  I had been thinking we'd shrink the kitchen by a few feet and build in yarn storage a closet.  Their Father, however, has decided he likes the feel of a kitchen this size.

I'll just have to knit faster.

Which reminds me. There has indeed been knitting through all this. In addition to the Grown-up Walt, I have finished a Churchmouse Before and After Scarf in Handmaiden Sea Silk, and a Vitamin D Sweater in Cascade Hertiage Silk and I am two-thirds of the way through the Fine Sand Sweater in Madelintosh Worsted (yes, the original stuff, before it was called Tosh DK), in Tart. The sky has been so uncooperative that I haven't bothered with pictures.That, and I have no idea where the camera is.

Maybe I'll have found it by next time. Maybe next time I'll even talk about knitting.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Phase 2

It's been a week of  peace here at Chez WoolGathering.  Well, I say peace.  No contractors since the stove hook-up. Well, I say no contractors.  Three came in to give estimates to repair the demolition done by water damage and the installation of the new pipes, but their visits were short and didn't involve any noise, dust, or relocation of major portion of our living space.  By my lowered standards, they don't count. Other areas of life burst forth like 5-year-olds denied recess, but most of that has now settled down, too.  Just in time for the next wave of contractors.

They're looking at tearing out between 64 and 100 square feet of my kitchen ceiling. It sounds like a lot, doesn't it?  I've done the math, though. Several times.  That's what an 8' to 10' square area comes out to.  That's a sizable chunk of my ceiling.  The kitchen itself only measures 15' by 19', with a cut out for the small bathroom hall.

It's surprising how disturbing it feels to sit here typing, listening to chunks of my ceiling hit the floor while the workmen mutter things like, "Oh, man." and "Look at that." I begin to wonder if more of my ceiling is coming down than expected, and I expected a lot.

I tell myself that this is the worst part.  Once this is over, we'll move on to putting things back together. Then the noise will, not abate, but at least change. From thunks and crashes to sawing and hammering and sanding.

Any guesses about what I've been doing to soothe my nerves and soften my flinches?

Ta-da! It's Super Walt. Or Walt all grown up. It's big.  Taller than the Lord Protector.  Almost as handsome as he is. 

Cast off.  Not really finished, because of all those ends to weave in - the curse of wide-striped blankets. Not washed/blocked yet either.  Sweet Georgia Superwash is a very round, tight, almost hard yarn to knit with, but experience has taught me that it will soften up considerably once it meets water.

Pattern: The Walt Painted Chevron Baby Blanket (substantially enlarged).
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted in Nightshade (MC), Silver (CC1), Slate (CC2) and just a touch of Cypress, with a little bit of Madelinetosh Ink filling in where I ran out of yarn for the last of the narrow navy stripes. Fifteen skeins altogether.
Needles: Addi Turbos, US 9/5.5mm.

Maybe I'll start a sweater now, as long as the ceiling is still falling.

Friday, May 01, 2015

April was the cruellest month

Fair warning. No knitting.

I don't think I've written much about this, but I hate my kitchen. I've hated it since the first meal I prepared in it. 

Back when the building was converted to condo, someone decided to enlarge the kitchen. They took out most of the wall between the kitchen and the maid's room (circa 1920's apartments in my neighborhood pretty much all had a maid's room), then went on to appropriate a couple of closets. What they didn't do was move the plumbing. In the middle of this 20' by 15' kitchen, is a 3' by 6" floor to ceiling piece of wall that the pipes run through, remnant of the maid's room wall (remember I said "most"?). I assume they thought that by arranging cabinets and appliances around it, it would function like the ubiquitous island. Just to make things more annoying, the kitchen sink is on one side of this piece of wall, and the stove is on the other, with a set of cabinets boxing them in. The refrigerator is opposite the stove.

Think about that for a minute. The water supply is around the corner and across two cabinets from the U-shaped food supply and cooking area. I'm pretty sure, even back in the '70s the kitchen standard was the triangle, and if you couldn't achieve that, the L-shape.

Also, keep in mind this is a condo. No attic. No basement. No garage. Why would you give up two closets? I figure the original developer/owner/designer/whoever was deeply attached to inefficiency.

Something further to keep in mind - they didn't move the pipes. When were these pipes installed? 1920-something, right? No surprise that we have been plagued by water issues almost since Day One and Day One was a long time ago.

I have always planned to redo the kitchen. Shift the pipes to a different wall and lose the wannabe island. Move the remaining appliances into a triangle. Shrink the kitchen to restore the closet space into one big storage closet (I'm pretty sure I'll be perfectly happy with a 15' by 15' kitchen). I just thought we'd do it in a couple of years (we won't go into just how many "couple of years" it's been).

Fast forward to this April, when a waterfall of dirty water cascaded through my ceiling as the drain pipes finally failed. Factor in scheduling issues which meant the repair didn't start until last week. Consider further that three units are involved in the scheduling. I'm getting my kitchen reconfigured whether I'm ready or not.

Do I need to mention that I am not ready? Not ready for demolition. Not ready for holes in my walls. Not ready to lose my dining room to storing what had been in the cabinets the plumbing contractors had to take down to get to the pipes. Not ready for the most recent indignity: finding out that the floor tile didn't extend under the cabinets so now I have exposed sub-floor where I had imagined I'd put the kitchen table.

I could learn to hate April.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I know I don't usually post on Saturdays.  Okay, I pretty much never post on Saturdays. I'm kind of irked that I've blown off the blog this month, though, especially since I need it to help me keep track of what I'm doing (i.e. how I've faked something).  And fine, first there was the frenzied shower knitting, then there was the week with meetings and assignments every day, then there were the days spent pulling life back together after the frenzied shower and meeting weeks.  Just because I know why it happened doesn't mean I like it.

I was made aware of this in particular last evening as I attempted to knit my way through Frozen - which, by the way, is the lamest thing Disney has come out with since Toy Story 3. ( It was the Pirate's movie night; he gets to pick the feature).  I picked up Knitting Rage and confounded myself when I reached the marker on the eyelet row I was working with a k2tog instead of a k1. KR being an improvisational piece, I just went with it.  The same pattern worked out for each of the 4 sections, so I decided to give up puzzling about it and call it a design feature.

Then I got to puzzle some more when I couldn't remember what I did next.  I was pretty sure it was the purl row for the garter ridge, except it was also an increase row and I didn't remember doing a pfb increase on the previous eyelet section.  Having just completely lapsed on the eyelet row, though, I bulled on forward only to find, when I compared the two eyelet sections, that I had indeed not done anything so complicated as purling and increasing on the same row. 

The rule for this blanket, then, is clearly Keep It Simple, Stupid (may need to rename the project, yes?).  Given how I 've been assuming complications, I evidently need to store the recipe somewhere.  I am, after all, going to be doing additional eyelet sections on this thing, not to mention future blankets.

All of which means you get an extra Saturday post.

Rectangle Blanket Recipe:

Math to figure out the difference desired between the length and width of the blanket. (This involves choosing yarn and needles.  A good person would swatch.  I am not a good person. Therefore I guess.)

Tunisian cast-on for the number of stitches set by the Math.

Knit first round.

Place markers for corners.  For reasons I'm not sure of, I started the project with kfb, place marker, kfb, so the first stitch of the row is actually the stitch before the first marker. I find myself cognitively dissonated by this every time I knit an increase row and may have to re-orient my mind so next time the increase before the first marker is the final one instead of the first one.

KFB on either side of each marker. Next time remember to try twisted yo or m1l and m1r increases.

Knit the first skein, increasing on alternate rows. 

Join next skein using Russian Join or Magic Knot.

Work eyelet sections  -
Knit an increase row. Purl the next row. Knit an increase row. K1 *yo, k2tog* to marker (or possibly K1 * yo, k2tog* to last stitch before marker, yo, k1), repeat for all four sections. Knit an increase row.  Purl next row. Knit 3 more rows - one increase, one even, one increase.  Repeat eyelet pattern. 

Return to stockinette knitting.

Which is as far as I've gotten. We'll see what happens next.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Good Heavens, how did it get to be this late in March? What have I been knitting?

Well, knitting Rage progresses.  I've added some eyelet rows to break up the stockinette a bit.  The jury is out on using the side-by-side kfb for the increases.  I'm starting to wish I had used twisted yarn overs.  I am not, however, so sorry that I'm going to rip back and begin again.  I'll just hope the note here reminds me when I go to knit the next in-the-rectangle blanket (and we know there will be a next one, don't we).

The Lord Protector's Blanket proceeds apace.  In fact, I have reached a major milestone.  I finished the last grey section.  One more skein of the navy and it's done.  I'm trying to forget the close inspection I did on the beginning section where it looks like I introduced a row or two from the odd lot skein.  If I did, that means I won't have enough yarn to make the ends match.  Although, come to think about it, I'd actually hit a similar snag in the knitting on the previous navy section, and the fudging I did there may stand me in good stead for this bit.

I'll write about them in more detail and with pictures another time.

Because then there was pink. I think I've noted in various places that I'm not a big fan of pink.  It's not my least favorite color - that dubious accolade might belong to orange.  Or maybe some shades of brown. It is not, however, ever the first color I would pick to knit anything from. For a gift, though? A gift for a bride-to-be?  Yeah, I'll suck it up for that. 

This particular young woman is quite dear to me.  Shopping from her registry was important.  Even 37 years later, I remember that I didn't get some of the things I really wanted and needed.  Shopping from a registry, though, seems so unimaginative.  I also remember that some of my most favorite and used gifts came from people who shopped off the registry. 

Anyway, duty done, I was casting about for a way to make the gift more, what? Personal?  Individual? Hand-made? And thought of my first Stitches and the felted oven mitts.  Mine have been in daily use for the last almost 7 years.  They are only now beginning to wear out.  There are thin places near the tips and if I'm not careful the heat from the pan penetrates. I have my two new skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Blue Flannel, but I've been putting the knitting off because it involves dpn's and a thumb gusset, and a thumb (ever notice that there are no mittens on this Blog? Not one, much less a pair).  All that, and the original class was an all day class.  Six hours of knitting and I came home with one almost finished oven mitt.  Twelve hours to knit two?  For a shower on Saturday when this was Monday? And me without a skein of pink bulky, or even worsted, yarn in the stash and not a yarn store open.

Hoping that the felting craze was still on, I tried the two crafting giants.  I would like to take a moment here to report that apparently the felting craze is over.  Not a single skein of non-superwash, all wool at the one store.  The other did have real wool worsted, but the closest thing to the color I needed was a light pink/blue/purple heather. Beggar that I was at that point, I bought it.  Three skeins just to be safe.  Got it home, dug out my size 11 dpn's -- that I don't believe have been used since that first Stitches class -- and found I'd lost the pattern. Two copies of it, in fact, since there should have been the original from the class and the one I bought the year I contemplated making the oven mitts for Christmas gifts (I didn't, so there's no point going looking for the post).

All I can say at this point is, thank God for Ravelry.  I downloaded two or three free patterns and between those and the Blog posts from the original set, I've cobbled together a pattern that is at least a close relative.  I cast on, and here's the thing.  When you've been knitting for 7 or 8 years, you get better at it.  I had the first mitt finished, except for the thumb, and the second almost to the half way point by the time the Princess got in from work.

She took one look and got very quiet.  As a rule, this is not a good sign. Looking at them through her silence, I knew what she was trying to get her nerve up tactfully (since I was a bit wild-eyed at that point), trying to draw my attention to.  Pale pink/blue/purple heather is not this bride's shade of pink. 

The whole thing dragged to a halt while we considered our alternatives.  No place nearby carried Lamb's Pride Bulky.  That Tuesday, for me, was out for a yarn hunt anyway. The Princess, however, had gotten pretty invested in the idea, or at least in the idea of humoring the crazed look in my eye.  She stopped at Loopy after work and came home with four skeins of Cascade 220 in the perfect shade: 7805, Flamingo.

Compare that there on the right with the bit on the left. The Princess' silence becomes understandable, doesn't it.

I cast on Tuesday night.  Switched from the dpn's to a 16" circular almost immeditately, and finished the knitting Wednesday afternoon.

This with several corrections and rip-backs as I fine-tuned the pattern (Cascade 220 doubled isn't quite as thick as Lamb's Pride Bulky, so I had to adjust the stitch count. The first thumb came out looking like an onion.).

They felted down (two hot water wash/cold rinse cycles), but I never got a chance to take pictures.  You'll have to take my word.  Three dishcloths (pink,white and green) and two tawashi's (pink-and-green and green-and- blue), rolled up and attached to barbeque skewers made a kitchen utensil bouquet in a flour sifter vase.  No pictures of any of that either, though. Sorry. It was down to the wire knitting and frenzied day-of-the-event gift assembly.

Pink Yeti mittens.  I'm so proud.

The photos with the ruler are to help me the next time I have to reinvent these.  The mitts themselves, unfelted, measured about 12.5 inches (little longer than the ruler).  I held the Cascade 220 doubled to make up the bulky weight. Knit on Addi Turbo 16" US 11/8 mm needles, switching to bamboo dpn's for the tips and the thumbs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coming Up Short

After serious and deep consultation with the Princess, we decided to go with the Silver, Kansas and Provence combination.  Some good knitting fairy prompted me to weigh the skein of Silver that was already wound.

That is not a full skein of yarn.  I'd forgotten I'd used it, along with some scraps of Provence, for my Stitches Midwest class with Franklin Habit two years ago.

We went back to the drawing board, or in this case the dining room table, and started playing with colors again.  None of them worked as well together as the original three.  I did not, however, want to buy another skein of yarn when all I needed was 30 grams. 

We did some serious stash searching. We dug through my stash, her secret stash, odd corners and old knitting bags. Nothing. At which point the Princess got inspired.  She has a grey sweater, not a hand-knit, that came with a belt she never wears.

 It looked darn close to me, even in the bad winter light of a February afternoon.

Raveled, it looks pretty close to worsted weight.  I've wound it around the backs of a couple of chairs, wet it down to get the kinks out, and started knitting the Silver.  Of course, now I'm knitting dark blue and gray in the middle of winter again, but I have yellow and red to look forward to.

I feel so proud, Eco-friendly and frugal.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What I Know

Because I never posted about these and because now, more than a year later, I can't remember all the details. 

I know all the yarn was superwash wool - because these were gifts and I don't give non-knitting people huge swaths of wool that they can't wash if, say, a bottle of orange pop overturns while one is wrapped up in a hand-knit afghan during a particularly exciting episode of Dr. Who.

I know the pattern is Stephen West's Garter Squish Blanket from Ravelry.  The pattern calls for US 15/10 mm needles, and while I can't put my hand on any right now, I know I had them to knit the pumpkins, and I know that when looking at the Original Garter Squish that I thought the gauge was too loose, which is why I'm knitting the new one on US 13/ 9 mm.  So we'll call the needles Addi Turbos, US 15.

I know the yarn was Lorna's Laces, Dream in Color and Squoosh Fiberarts.  In fact, the one color I am absolutely sure of is the red. It's the Squoosh Superwash and the color name is Velvet. I think.  I'm pretty sure the gold, the navy and the pink-ish peach are Lorna's Laces.  And I think they are Harvest, Cookie A's Deep Dark Secret and Brick, respectively. I know I recognize China Apple and the green version of Cloud Jungle and I think that brown must be November Muse, all from Dream in Color and the really dark whatever just might be DIC Black Parade. I just don't think I can sort them all out.

I know I knit three more of these, but never took pictures.  I really wasn't thinking like a blogger back then was I?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We're Having Weather Here

It's cold here. It's been cold here. It is going to continue to be cold here. As we approached record-setting low temperatures last night, The Princess and I were noting how useful wool blankets are. In fact, it occurred to us that a couple more couldn't hurt.

I went stash diving today. Turns out I have 8 skeins of Cascade 220 in 9336 Lapis. I also have two skeins each of 2437 Kansas, 2425 Provence, 2448 Mallard, 8400 Charcoal, 8401 Silver Heather, 7818 Blue Velvet, 9326 Colonial Blue Heather and a grey-ish green that I think is either 4011 Sparrow or 2446 Bronzed Green.

I feel a Garter Squish coming on.  I'm thinking I'll double-strand like colors on this one and make a seven stripe, that way I'll have Lapis on each end.

That leaves me with only one decision.


Or neutrals?

Either way, I'll end up with a lapful of wool.  Which, in this Artic environment, is a most desirable condition.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


In the Seven Per Cent Solution, there's a Sondheim song called "The Madam's Song". It has a line, "I Never Do Anything Twice." Once I would have said that line was the theme of my knitting life.  Then came last Christmas with the Garter Squish Blankets and the Inspira Cowls (neither of which ever got their whole story - must do something about that).

This year, though in addition to two more Inspira Cowls (knit at the request on those who had not gotten one last year) I discovered the Piega Cowl.  At Thanksgiving dinner my Knitting Sister showed me the ones she was knitting for her girls ( She knit hers in Malabrigo Silky Merino - I think - and I can't remember if she used Silk cloud or if she went with Kidsilk Haze.) Anyway. It's a Shibui Knits design, and so the pattern calls for Shibui Baby Alpaca and Silk Cloud double stranded. My problem was the color options in the Baby Alpaca didn't sing for me.  Truth be told, I thought they were a little washed out looking.

I used Fibre Company Acadia instead of the Baby Alpaca for this set.  There are actually two more, one in Fibre Company Acadia Poppy and Cascade Kid Seta Syrah, but I never took pictures of it.  The other is mine, still Fiber Company Acadia, but with Kidsilk Haze.  Mine was the original and it's still not finished.

The construction was quite clever. Two stockinette rectangles with holes that you join and braid with a series of three needle bind-offs.

Blocking makes a difference.

Top to bottom, that's Acadia in Blue Heron with Silk Cloud Fjord. Then Acadia in Egret with Ivory Silk Cloud and on the bottom, Acadia in Bog (I know, awful, muddy name fore such a pretty color) and Silk Cloud in Fog. (Special thanks to Veronica for modeling)

So soft, shiny and pretty.  So clearly worth repeating.  Maybe I'll go finish mine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Rose by Any Other Name

I'm not convinced that Rage is a good name for this yarn. Yes, it's red over-dyed with black. Okay sure, I get it.  Yet, it is the most un-enraging red over-dyed with black you could imagine. Maybe it's the cashmere. Maybe it's the fact that I really like red.  Maybe it's that the knitting did its work by the end of the first skein.  Whatever it is, I really like this yarn.  I look forward to knitting with it.  I put aside all sorts of other things I thought I wanted before winter is over.*

This is a center out rectangular blanket. It started out with the Turkish cast-on.

Well, it started out with a little math and a WAG about what my gauge might be. I decided an 18 inch difference between the length and the width would be good.  I decided I'd probably knit pretty close to the recommended gauge, if I used a larger needle, multiplied my expected gauge by 18 inches and cast on that many stitches.  I say cast on. All you do is wind the yarn around two circular needles. You pull the bottom one so the stitches are wrapped around one needle and the cord, kit across those stitches, pull the top needle through and the bottom needle into the stitches and knit what are effectively the same stitches, just the bottom of them.  Trust me.  It works.  Most often for toe-up socks that you don't want a seam for, but just fine for center out blankets when you don't want a square one.

The tricky part was going to be the increase.  Generally, and this is the method recommended in Circular Knitting Workshop, you mark the first and last stitch on each needle for your corners, then build the blanket using yarn-overs on either side of that stitch.  I did that for the HPKY Navy Blanket and was never really happy with it. I'm also lazy, and I lose track of whether I'm doing a right or left leaning increase, and where and when and why I'm supposed to do them. I wanted something easy, in keeping with the simple, straightforward knitting I was planning.

More math.  Also maybe some very basic sketches. Also maybe some consultation with The Princess.

I set up my markers, but did KFB on either side of them.  Interestingly, I still seem to get a spine stitch.  It's actually the KF of the second KFB.

It seems to be working.  I'm almost to the end of the second skein, though, and now I need to make a decision.  Do I want to keep churning out the stockinette, or do I search out a pattern stitch and start alternating stitch patterns with every new skein?  If I go with all stockinette all the time, do I want to end the blanket with a broad garter stitch border, or something a little fancier?

Who knew knitting rage would be such fun?

* Partial list: Piega cowl out of The Fibre company Acadia and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Color Affection in Malabrigo Silky Merino and Manos Silk Blend, To Eyre with Fleece Artist River in Raven.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


This is really a Stitches story. It's also a sisters story. And possibly one about how willing I am to follow along like a sheep in the wake of the stronger personality.

It might have been Stitches Midwest 2011, but I only think that because that was the first year I didn't write about Stitches.

Whatever year it was, Yarn Mountain  came to Stitches Midwest that year.  I noticed the knitted pumpkins in their booth right away.  I kept walking by and thinking how cool they were.  But the yarn was huge - roving wrapped with a thin nylon strand.  The yarn and the thought of the size needles I would need to knit it, between them, talked me out of it. Repeatedly. Then I walked into the booth with MySister.  MySister was also charmed with the pumpkins.  So charmed, that she bought a couple skeins of pumpkin-appropriate color yarns, and one purple and green combination that looked like Frankenstein's Monster to me. But she was planning one for each of her girls, and any girls there got to pick their own yarn.  I'm not quite sure how it happend, but I left the booth with three skeins of the yarn myself and the link for the pattern.

Then I somehow ended up with a set of US 15 circulars from the HiyaHiya booth.

And then I got home and stared at my purchases and wondered where my brain had gone during Stitches.

The needles got buried.  The yarn eventually worked it's way down to the bottom of the stash.  MySister knit her pumpkins. They came out fantastic (she even figured out a pattern for leaves). But mine stayed theoretical and I was happy to have it so.

Until this past fall.  I don't know why I decided I needed these this year, but I did. The construction is really quite clever.  You divide the skein in half and alternate skeins in the same row to make the lobes.  The inside looks like a spider web.

They need to be stuffed.  I got all green and ecological and used plastic grocery store bags.

The pumpkins are different sizes based on the number of bags I crammed into each section.


Yarn: Kraemer Yarns Bear Creek in (counterclockwise from the left) Peach Cobbler, Spice and Pumpkin.
Needles: HiyaHiya circulars and ChiaGoo bamboo DPNs in US 15/10mm (ouch!).
Pattern: Bear Creek Pumpkin by Clara Masessa for Kraemer Yarns (scroll down to Miscellaneous, it's free!)

For the record, these were every bit as much not fun to knit as I expected them to be.  On the plus side, the misery doesn't last long. And now I have these cool knitted pumpkins that can come out for Halloween and stay out through Thanksgiving.

So there you go. Pumpkins

Monday, February 02, 2015

Knitting Rage

Long, long ago, I bought a super-wash merino/cashmere worsted blend by a small company called "Have You Any Wool"  (aka as knitmommy on Etsy) from Eat.Sleep.Knit in a colorway called Rage.  I like red and it looked like a good one.  As it happens, it's more of a strong red over-dyed with black. 

I've had this for at least 4 years (knitmommy went on hiatus in 2011 and hasn't been back that I can find). Over those years, I would pull the yarn out for whatever project I was contemplating, and put it back. Every time. I began to realize I was superstitious about the yarn.  After all, did I really want a sweater or shawl filled with Rage?  How could I bear to wear it? Why would I ever want to knit such a thing?  Who wants to knit in a rage?  Think of what it would do to your gauge.

It's been a tense time here at Chez WoolGathering.  It's political, in the sense that you put a group of people together and you get politics, and affects, not so much work I enjoy, as work I do in support of work I love. It's nothing that has anything to do with knitting or the Blog, or most of life for that matter, except that it's sucking time and joy like a sump pump and I resent it.

I'm a great believer in knitting to overcome the garbage that life can hand out, but I was finding myself hating everything I started as I try to deal with this stuff.

Saturday evening, I got an idea.

It was time to knit Rage.  A lot of it, since I have way more than those three skeins (I bought the whole dye-lot). No more soft silvers.  No more warm golds.  No more calm blues. I will knit through Rage and come out the other side in a better place.

It's going to be a blanket and it's going to be cathartic, by Harry, or I'll know the reason why. 

Well, the stash-busting part isn't to be sneezed at, either.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'll Do Better Next Week

Ack! How did it get to be the end of the week? Time to finally post that September entry about Summer.

I really will do better next week. After all, I've never told you about the pumpkins.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sabotaging Myself?

I actually can think of a number of other things to title this post.  "What Was I Thinking?" would be one.  "Why Do I Do These Things To Myself?" was another.  "Insanity" was yet another.  All would have been appropriate, they just wouldn't all fit in the title box together.

I've joined another Mystery Knit-along.  Let's review my  history with MKALs, shall we?  In the gaps in last year's blogging, I failed to mention that I have fallen for been suckered into joined several such things.

Failure #1 -
About this time last year I decided to try Ysolda's first MKAL, the Follow Your Arrow Shawl.  That didn't end well.  Keeping up was not a problem.  I tried to make sure I would like the ultimate result by waiting for others to post spoilers of the clues so I could choose the one I liked best.  I even added it to my Ravelry projects. No go.  I think I made it through clue 3. Maybe clue 4.  Then I faced the music, 'fessed up, and admitted I hated it.  It was a sad waste of some fabulous (and now discontinued) fingering weight yarn.  I listed it as frogged on Ravelry, but it is in fact, still on the needles.  I'm toying with the idea of binding it off and calling it a scarf.  Once I've lost all my other scarves, I'll probably (maybe?) be glad to have it.

Failure #2-
It took me until this past Fall before I let myself try another.  This one was Kaffe Fassett's for Rowan Yarns.  My arguments to join were much the same as the ones I used to talk myself into Follow Your Arrow, starting with how much I liked and admired the work of the designer involved.  Plus, this was Rowan.  It was a blanket and I love knitting blankets.  The knitting here was simple, a series of striped squares knit on the bias, because the focus would be on how to use color and I am weak at combining colors.  I didn't even pretend I would keep up this time, but figured I would be so glad to have the pattern and the notes and did I mention that Rowan had Kaffe do a series of YouTube videos on the project? The problems started when people stared posting photos of their squares in various combinations.  They all made my eyes hurt.  When we got to the final clue and it confirmed that the most painful possible combinations were the ones we were supposed to use I lost it. They were like optical illusions, or Pop Art where all the lines fly off in different directions and nothing makes any sense.  I like my blankets to make sense.  So now I have a huge collection of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted Super-wash, in a lot of colors I will never use again. 

Failure #3-
I only got as far as buying the pattern this time. Well, that and the yarn (Malabrigo Mechas in Pocion).

Had I read the notes on the group MKAL page, I would have known the project was a poncho and I do not do ponchos.  But it was, again, a designer I really like (Laura Aylor, she of Lizard Ridge Blanket and Faberge Shawl fame)(I begin to see a pattern here) and it was the end of the year and the end of the year had been pretty sucky, so when offered a MKAL  called "Just For You" what was I supposed to do?

Which bring us up to this year, and what have I gone and done?  Signed up for Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow 2 Mystery Knit-along. Only the first clue has been released, and I've finished it already.  But, and here's a big but, much as I like the short-row shaping, this clue calls for a picot edge.  Have I ever mentioned how much I despise picot edges?  It's a chicken and egg thing.  Do I hate them because I'm bad at them, or am I bad at them because I really, really, really hate them? 

Why did this take me by surprise?  What did I think it was going to be when I had to bind off two stitches at the start of every row?  Or when the designer stated that the garter tab would be 118 rows long and I would have 59 "points" when I had finished it?

Isn't one of the definitions of insanity to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


For every action 

 there is an equal and opposite


Newton's Third Law.