Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is not a yarn diet, but....

I have been thinking an awful lot about my stash since Ravelry
  • Forced me/gave me a place to organize and catalog what I have.
  • Enabled me to buy more by showing me new yarns, new projects, and lovely links and discounts to new retailers.
  • Hosted discussions about materialism and stash, stash-busting, and yarn diets.

If you’ve read any knit blogs at all, I’m sure you’ve seen this by now: The World’s Biggest Stash. When the pictures were posted on Ravelry, I thought a person could write a sociological study on the reactions knitters had to it. Some thought it was the greatest thing ever and wished she could aspire to such a stash. Some thought the Stash Owner was a mentally ill hoarder on the level of that poor woman on Oprah who hoarded 10,000 square feet of stuff into a 3000 square foot house. And some used the picture to spin off threads about how “excessive” stash was yet another product of the materialism that runs rampant in this country. All very interesting stuff that made me examine how I felt about my own stash.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the very idea that someone else gets to pronounce judgment on how much yarn someone has is disconcerting. If I feel comfortable with my stash, it’s no one else’s business but mine and the person I share my home and my finances with. I actually think that woman's stash is awesome, a true artist's studio. And yet as we get to the time of year where we make all kinds of good-intentioned resolutions, I am going to closely examine my stash and where my yarn money goes. I don’t feel comfortable with how many posts in this blog have received the label of “yarn shopping” this year. This is not a diet. This is not exactly a year of stash-busting either. But for now, here are the rules.

I may purchase yarn if

  • I have a gift card (which I do, both for Natural Stitches and Jimmy Beans Wool, go me).
  • It is needed for a gift and I have looked in my stash first.
  • It is something I am totally and completely sure I will not be able to get at a later date and I absolutely love it (keeping in mind that I am a member of the 2008 Rockin Sock Club and the Chewy Spaghetti Blue Plate Special and if that doesn’t satisfy my jonesing for “new and exclusive” I don’t know what will).
  • It is a special occasion, like the Pittsburgh Knitting Festival.
  • It is Malabrigo (sorry, I can’t stay away from this crack. I will try, though).

I will try to stash-bust in the following ways

  • I will haul out the stash and put it where I can see and access it, not stuffed in one cabinet, thus preventing me from throwing up my hands and saying “I have no suitable hat yarn” and running off to the store. I will also be honest about the projects I plan to complete and put all the yarn I have for them into my Ravelry stash.
  • I will knit from stash throughout the year, interspersing large projects with small, and putting projects away into a “Long Term Planning Box” ala The Yarn Harlot, thus preventing a yarn binge in October and November and subsequent frantic knitting for Christmas 2008 (because, dude, I still haven’t finished Christmas 2007).
  • I will embark on some charity knitting such as the Dulaan Project.

Okay, so I’m posting this on my blog to keep myself honest. Let’s see how long I can go.

PS: I want a new knitting bag, one that does not scream "Here is my cheap knitting bag from Joann's!" (okay, I actually like my cheap Joann's bag, but I want something I can use in all grownup, professional situations and still have some knitting on hand). Jordana Paige? Namaste? Everything is getting mixed reviews on Ravelry and I don't know what to do.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thumbless Toddler Mittens: In Which I Attempt to "Design"

I’ve been on a mission, in between the frenzy of Christmas knitting, to find the Perfect Toddler Mitten pattern. My requirements:

  • Must be easy to put on a moving toddler
  • Must stay on said moving toddler
  • Must not be easy to lose

It turns out that finding this pattern was harder than I thought, in part because I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cannot get my squirmy toddler’s thumb to fit into a thumb gusset. I just needed something to stick over his hands so they’d stay warm while we’re out walking with the stroller.

I ended up adapting Louisa Harding’s pattern from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. The original is knit with a light DK weight yarn and worked flat and then seamed. My version is knit with a light worsted and converted to be worked in the round. I don’t know if my changes are substantial enough to be considered a new pattern (please weigh in on this in the comments section if you can), so with apologies to Louisa Harding, here is my adaptation. This is my first substantial attempt at changing a pattern/design, so please be gentle.

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (I used two colors, you can use whatever strikes your fancy)
Needles: Size 4 US DPNs, Size 7 US DPNs
Gauge: Not sure it matters for toddler mittens!

With Size 4 needles, CO 32 stitches in Color 1, place marker, and join for working in the round.

Work in K2, P2 ribbing for three inches (this creates a cuff that can extend down the wrist or can be folded as desired).

Increase round: Work 4 stitches in rib, M1 around.

Change to Size 7 needles (and Color 2 if desired). Knit around until hand is just short of desired length. (To determine this, hold your squirmy toddler down and measure from wrist to fingertip. Then let said Toddler wander off with your new Lantern Moon sheep tape measure, which he will then promptly put in the cat’s water dish.)

Decrease for top of Hand
Change back to Color 1 if desired.

Place a second marker in the middle of the round.

Round 1: K3tog tbl, knit to 3 stitches before marker 2, K3tog, K3tog tbl, K to last three stitches of the round, K3tog.

Round 2: Knit

Rounds 3 and 4: Repeat Rounds 1 and 2.

Round 5: K2tog tbl, knit to 2 stitches before marker 2, K2tog, K2tog tbl, K to last two stitches of the round, K2tog.

Round 6: Knit

Rounds 7 and 8: Repeat Rounds 5 and 6

Cut yarn, thread tail through remaining stitches and secure.

This is a rough prototype, so please let me know if you see any mistakes. My plan is to knit the second the same as the first and join them with a three stitch I-cord.

Of course, when I showed the mitten to The Toddler, he shook his head and walked off. Your Toddler May Vary.

Malabrigo is the New Crack

Crafts 055,
originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.
I took a break from Christmas Knitting to cast on for Foliage, from last fall's Knitty. I love Malabrigo. I love the softness. I love the colors. I even love the price. I can't walk out of Natural Stitches without a hank of it in my bag.

Crafts 055

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So how's that Christmas Knitting coming along?

  1. Gigantic Garter Rib Socks: ALL DONE!
  2. Clapotis: I don't think it's going to happen before Christmas. I got way too ambitious with this one, and when I realized how bad it was getting, I confessed to my mom what was happening and she ordered me to put it aside and finish everyone else's gifts.
  3. Fetching and Calorimetry: ALL DONE!
  4. Thuja: Despite The Toddler, I should be able to finish these tonight or tomorrow. I just have one foot and toe to complete.
  5. Gentlemen's Fancy Socks: Yep, I have the yarn.
  6. Child's Sweater Vest: Have I mentioned I have the yarn?
So obviously, these final two are not going to be even cast on before Christmas. I whipped up a pair of Men's Handwarmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts to stand in for the socks. For Henry's vest, I started a pair of mittens adapted from Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies. I'm actually kind of excited about these; I've changed the pattern so much it might almost be an original design that I'll share here after Christmas.

I've been thinking a lot about stash and projects for the New Year, and avoiding this situation next year (!), so look for entries on that soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I turned my back just for a minute....

....and The Toddler pulled out two of the three DPNs on my Thuja sock. And put the stitch marker in his mouth.

You would think I would have learned by now.

I'd update the status of my Christmas Knitting, but I think I hear The Toddler playing in the toilet. More later.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Going to the Crazy Place, aka Christmas Knitting


You know how the Yarn Harlot talks about going to the crazy place around this time each year? I fear I am going there too. Here's what I have to do before Christmas:
  1. Gigantic Garter Rib Socks: I just turned the heel last night. I have to knit the too-long foot to match the other one, and this project should be done by the end of the weekend.
  2. Clapotis: I'm on the 5th repeat on the straight section. Why am I knitting this again, again? The Sheep Shop yarn is really beautiful and lovely to work with, though.
  3. Fetching and Calorimetry: I bought the yarn yesterday at Natural Stitches. Have I mentioned I've been there three times since the shop opened less than two weeks ago?
  4. Thuja: Uh, I have the yarn.
  5. Gentlemen's Fancy Socks: Yep, I have the yarn.
  6. Child's Sweater Vest: Have I mentioned I have the yarn?

Anyone else at the Crazy Place yet?

Friday, November 23, 2007

My knitting is making me really happy

Knitting is always pleasurable for me, otherwise I wouldn't do it. But every once and awhile, all good forces in the Knitting Universe collide, thus making the experience truly wonderful.

This tree is what I see every morning when I wake up:

Now this is the sock I'm making:

Isn't that wonderful? I know the pictures don't do it justice, but the beautiful colorway of this sock yarn is the exact same color of the trees outside. The variation, the subtle shift in hue, it's all there. This gorgeous stuff is Dream in Color Smooshy in the Chinatown Apple colorway. The pattern is Embossed Leaves from Interweave's Favorite Socks. Both yarn and pattern are now my new favorites. I know I have no business knitting non-gift items at this time of year, but this project is truly a pleasure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Knitting for Plimoth Plantation: Happy Thanksgiving!

Ever since all those "[insert historical period here] House" shows on PBS started coming out, my fantasy job has been to be one of those historical consultants that they use to do things like decorate the house, provide recipes and stock the kitchen, determine what the family will wear, etc. In fact, the spark of my dissertation came from my obsession with 1940s House and "Kitchen Front" recipes. My #2 fantasy job is to be one of those women who walk around Sturbridge Village knitting stockings and answering questions.

And now, just in time for Thanksgiving, a very small part of #2 has come true. I am going to be a volunteer knitter, making stockings for the historical re-enactors at Plimoth Plantation. Bill saw the call for volunteers linked into Ravelry and passed on the information to me. I'm going to be knitting plain stockings to start with, but the idea of knitting the fancy ones are intriguing. I'm such a geek, but I'm so, so pleased about this.

Speaking of stockings, I started my first foray into lace socks, casting on for Embossed Leaves. No, my Enormous Man Socks aren't done, but 1. I'm bored with them, and 2. I'm paranoid I'm not going to get the extra hank I haggled for on Ravelry. Here are some more sock skills I need to learn to complete these successfully:
  • How to keep track of where I am on the chart.
  • How to prevent huge, gaping ladders when the first stitch on each needle is a purl stitch.
  • How to recover my project and pick up tiny dropped stitches after stupidly leaving the sock project where the toddler can get at it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Could this sock be any bigger?

Crafts 013
Crafts 013,
originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.

Seriously? I mean, I'm knitting for a man's size 11, and this is the sock that never ends. From what I'm learning on Ravelry, socks need to be knit at a really tight gauge, much tighter than what the label on the yarn suggests. I'm knitting these, made of a fairly thick fingering (KnitPicks Memories), on a size 1.5 DPN set. I'm not sure what my gauge is, but the stitches are very, very tiny, and I've had to beg for a third skein of this colorway on Ravelry. Combine that with a mindless but fiddly garter rib pattern and you have Sock Boredom kicking in pretty quickly. One down, one to go!

I'm having a really good time knitting with friends lately. Last week, Amy held an informal "Take Your Knitting Up a Notch" class and wrote a hat pattern for three friends who knew how to knit and purl but not much else. We went to Bloomin' Yarns, hereafter known as the Sock Crack Den, where I picked up two different colorways of Claudia Handpainted fingering for gifts. Then yesterday I met up with Lisa, Beth, and Michelle and ended up taking an impromptu fieldtrip to the newest LYS, Natural Stitches, where I bought yarn to do Backyard Leaves. The Cascade Wall is really fantastic, and the store has the best Malabrigo Worsted selection I've ever seen, so I will definitely be back with my husband to choose yarn for that sweater I've been promising him for years.

And also? When I worked at PKAB, I never had a stash. I never understood the concept of a stash. Sure, I worked on more than one project at a time, but I bought the yarn for projects as I went along. Today I am merrily entering my purchases into my Ravelry stash and it tells me "You are entering your 78th stashed yarn!" Where did all this yarn come from?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Posts that describe yesterday better than I could

Melissa and Amy summarize yesterday's "Knitting Bee."

All I can say is God bless Panera for not kicking us out for loudly discussing breast pumps, lactation consultants, Jenny McCarthy, controversial semi-famous in-laws and many other interesting subjects. ;)

Look! I can finish projects and blog about them, too!

Long time, no blog. I'm going to have to do an Amy-style list to catch up.

My new knitting rule is that for each project I want to start, I have to finish a WIP. My hope is that this will combat Startitis; if I have to slow down and make myself finish something before casting something else on, this should (ha ha) prevent me from starting projects on a whim.

So, SOCKS! Here's what I've learned:
  • Socks are so much fun to do, with the magical turning of the heel.
  • There's pretty much no finishing whatsover, which means that I can complete them and not have them stuffed in the bottom of my knitting bag for over a year like certain projects we will not mention.
  • One can purchase all the sock yarn one wants because sock yarn doesn't count in a yarn diet*.
  • Socks should be knitted on needles much smaller than you think because loose socks will wear out.
* In a fit of madness, I joined Blue Moon Fibers Socks that Rock 2008 and the Chewy Spaghetti Blue Plate Special Club. So that's $300+ worth of yarn that "doesn't count." Hmm.

I still think this pattern is the cutest thing going in knitting. But I have to say, I am disappointed with the yarn and have my doubts about how well this sizes up. I'd knit it again for a newborn, with something with a little bounce in it like Cotton-Ease, in a heartbeat.

Many thanks to Lisa for doing some of the finishing work for me, and anyone who wants to join our Finishing Club, in which we trade projects we're tired of looking at, is welcome!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

zomg! I turned a heel!

Wow. I get it now, I really get it.

I was forced to take a little break from Anouk (I need to reprint the chart, and the printer is on the third floor, and it wakes the baby, yadda yadda) so I picked up my sock again, which had been languishing as a boring tube for months. I'd started the heel flap at Beth's, and while zipping through my tivo'd Ugly Betty and Gray's Anatomy, I followed the Yarn Harlot's directions from Knitting Rules and turned the heel.

It was amazing. It was magical. People have said not to try to make sense of turning the heel ahead of time, just do what the pattern says and it will turn out. I never believed them because who the heck does a pattern without visualizing what you're supposed to do? But it's true. You just slip and knit and purl and suddenly, a heel!

Can you tell I'm really excited about this? I broke a DPN*, messed up somehow picking up stitches so I have two holes in various parts of the gusset, and discovered that the whole sock is full of ladders. But I've unlocked the mystery! I can do it!

* I've been using Crystal Palace DPNs and after this latest needle-breakage, I've come to the conclusion that long, fine bamboo ones just won't work for me. I need either the Lantern Moon Sock Sticks (ahem, stocking stuffer, ahem) or the set of Knitpicks Harmony DPNs with extra included in case of breakage or loss. (And yes, I realize that the third option is to learn to do it on two circs or Magic Loop, but one new skill at a time, people.)

PS. I went on a lovely yarn crawl with Lisa last week, where we hit Yarns Unlimited and Bloomin' Yarns.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Anouk musings

So I've been having a heck of a time getting gauge on Anouk. The recommended size 6 needle gives me 5.5 stitches per inch. Going up a size gives me 5.25 stitches per inch. The gauge on the original pattern is 4.5 stitches per inch. On Ravelry, my BFF Kate Gilbert told me she thinks Cascade must have reformulated the Pima Tencel since she originally designed and knit the pattern.

Oh well. So I plowed ahead and knit the front of the largest size with size 7 needles. It looks HUGE. The drape is nice, but the fabric is a tad bit see-through, and I wonder how on earth it's going to hang on a big baby or toddler, and I'm starting to wonder if my BFF Kate Gilbert actually tried a size other than the smallest one on a real baby. Plus, I don't know if it's me or the pattern (I suspect it's me), but the directions as written for the shoulders are backwards. Still, it's a super-cute design. I'll finish it and see how it works; if it doesn't, I'll rip it out and start over again on smaller needles. With any luck, I'll have it finished in time for Melissa to take with her when they visit Sophia, and by then, I hope the Guatamalan government can get its act together and let the adoptions in limbo go forward before the deadline.

In other news, my sister tried on her Tempting! We still need to get a nice ribbon, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

To Knit or Not to Knit

....knit Christmas gifts this year, that is. If I am going to do it, now is the time to decide.

  1. Economical! I can combine the Christmas budget with my Knitting budget and get hours and hours of entertainment.
  2. Stash Busting!
  3. Ravelry Queue! I can justify knitting those crapzillion scarves I put on my Ravelry queue. I can add them to my finished projects and have a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Appreciative Recipients! I don't knit for "Muggles" anymore, so I know the recipients will like what I make for them. (Shameful Confession: I knit a Haiku each for my husband's niece and nephew but didn't give them to them when I realized my sister-in-law wouldn't appreciate what they were and they'd get trashed.)
  1. Not Economical!
  2. Not Stash-Busting!
  3. Horribly Time Consuming!

Here's why: I am, for some unknown and unfortunate reason, fixated on making a Clapotis for my mother (yeah, I know that's sooo 2004 and moreover, I vowed never to make one again). I have no Stash suitable for a Clap; I would have to buy more yarn. Hmmm.

In addition, I have horrible visions of me being consumed by Holiday Knitting, ala the Yarn Harlot, and family members opening boxes of half-finished projects and random scraps of yarn.

In other news, I have the back and right front of the Tilted Duster completed. It's a quick knit, but I think I messed up the shoulders. Sigh.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I joined a KAL

I've never done this before! I joined the Tilted Duster KAL, thinking I could use all the help I could get on this one. I feel like I'm making my first grown-up sweater, which is odd considering how long I've been knitting.

I allowed myself to cast on last night because I'd finished almost all the projects I started last summer in my Fit of Startitis. Tempting is now completed except for threading the ribbon through! I'm not 100% happy with it and I've decided that I just don't have the finishing skills to deal with those underarm seams. But to a non-knitter, it probably looks fine, and I'll post a picture when my sister tries it on.

I also swatched for Anouk, and I can't quite get gauge without it looking too open and airy. I'm terrible at this gauge thing, but if I'm getting 5 stitches per inch instead of 4.5, would that really be so bad for a baby garment? It would just be slightly smaller than it's supposed to be, right? Or maybe I should just try again with bamboo needles instead of my Denises. I know I sound like a complete idiot, but since I stopped working at a LYS, all common sense I had about gauge seems to have left my brain. Sigh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Still more finished projects

The Placket Pullover from LMKG and the Moss Grid Handtowel from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I'm not entirely thrilled with either one of them. Both could certainly benefit from some blocking!

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Finished Projects

I've noticed this blog has become more about what I'd like to make and not so much about things I've actually done. Whoops. So here are two projects, just to prove that I am capable of finishing what I start.

The Men's Cashmere Scarf from LMKG; here it's become the Men's Sort-Of Cashmere Scarf. I used KnitPicks Panache. It feels absolutely beautiful, but it does fuzz a bit, and the stitch definition isn't as sharp as the 100% cashmere looks in the book.

Adaptation of the Candy Cane hat from Itty-Bitty Hats. Oh dear. This is going on the UGH! list on Ravelry. I was going for a fun Steelers hat for a toddler, but this looks like a misshapen bee disaster. It doesn't help that I used wool instead of cotton (the KnitPicks wool was the only yarn I could find that came in true Steeler colors), as the wool gives it this fuzzy blended look that makes the gold look dirty. Cotton would have been a lot crisper, at least. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So many projects, so little time

I've decided I NEED to make the Tilted Duster, pictured on the cover of the latest Interweave Knits. Something about it is so appealing to me, from the beautiful drape of the "skirt" falling from the empire waist to the jauntiness of the asymmetrical fastening. It's been staring at me from the cover of the magazine ever since it came in the mail, and I finally succumbed. Jimmy Beans pulls through again with the yarn pre-packaged by size. Mine is going to be a beautiful heathered gray.

The other really lovely thing from the latest issue is the Minimalist Cardigan. I was daunted by the amount of seaming on it (I have vowed to knit in the round as much as possible) but my mother kindly volunteered to do the finishing work for me. Woo Hoo! These two sweaters are truly lovely and unlike anything you can buy in a store these days. I feel fortunate that I can knit well enough to make what I like.

And as always, I need to finish some projects before I begin the new ones. The boyfriend scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts is done. Henry's placket neck pullover, also from LMKG is also just about done, except for (what else) the finishing work. I think I will make myself finish Tempting and allow myself the pleasure of casting on Anouk, and then I can begin on my own sweaters.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

There's hope for me after all

Brian May earns his doctorate after 30 years.


Our time in Jackson is coming to an end, and I've made two more trips to Knit on Pearl. Now that I don't go to That Pittsburgh LYS That Shall Not Be Named*, I'm thrilled to support a nice, friendly LYS here. I picked up the special Interweave Felt issue, and felt (ha ha) an urge to felt again, after a felting hiatus of 2+ years. So I added Sophie and The French Market Bag to my Ravelry queue and picked up two lovely colors, Spice and Aubergine, of Lamb's Pride. I also bought Scarf Style; as I am highly suggestible, I added Falling Leaves to my queue as well because everyone else is doing it. Apparently I think I am going to knit from a chart. I have never knit from a chart before in my entire life. I don't know what gets into me sometimes.

* I received an email from CarlaK, via the knittiness and PGHKnitters groups on Yahoo. Apparently she has left the shop and is offering private lessons until the new store opens in Friendship this fall. The rates are very reasonable and she offers a huge variety of classes for all skill levels.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I finally get to make Anouk

Anouk! Anouk! I get to make Anouk!

I have been wanting to make this for pretty much forever, and now I get my chance to make this for the beautiful Sophia, who Melissa and Jon are so patiently waiting to bring home from Guatemala.

And whoever does the marketing at Jimmy Beans Wool is once again a genius. You can buy the yarn and the buttons for Anouk as a kit, which makes it a lot easier than bouncing back and forth between browsers, trying to remember how much you need for the size you want to make.

I'm so excited to begin the project. But, um, maybe I better finish some of the other things first.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The problem with yarn shopping on the internets

Could anyone look at the color card for Rowan Handknit Cotton on the Jimmy Beans site and tell me what color is closest to Steeler gold? (Hint: it is not "nectar," as I originally thought.)

Monday, August 13, 2007



Proof that Mason Dixon is crack

That dang book has made me knit a fancy handtowel. Who knits a handtowel??? Me, apparently, and anyone else who has swallowed the Mason Dixon Kool-Aid. The towel has a seed stitch border with a 14 row repeat inside. For the first set of repeats, I hated this project, and had to do a lot of tinking (but thankfully no ripping back). By the time I started the third set, I got into a groove and thought, okay, I can do this. I don't think I'll make stacks and stacks of them, but it is a nice break from all my other projects, all of which involve mindless circular knitting.
And since there is a picture of the handtowel, you may assume I found my camera cord. Here's a picture of the scenery here in Wyoming.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hello from Wyoming!

For the month of August, I'm writing from Jackson Hole, where my husband plays in the Grand Teton Music Festival each summer. I'd put off doing any blogging until I uploaded pictures to share, but this morning, I realized I must have forgotten the cord for the digital camera at home. Ooops. I'll have to show my readers (all two of you) pictures of the mountains and moose-sightings when we get home.

This also means I have no knitting pictures. But here's an update, done Amy-style, of my projects.

  1. Socks: I was rolling merrily along, comfortable in the knowledge that I have an extra skein in case I run out. I was also feeling smug that after my rough start with knitting on DPNs, I didn't have any ladders in my knitting. Lesson #1: Never feel smug because it will bite you in the ass. I stretched out the sock to see if it would fit around my calf and what did I see? Ladders. In my defense, I didn't have them before; I'm thinking my gauge changed when I started knitting out here.
  2. Placket Pullover: I'm ready to do the sleeves and I see the same confusion about attaching the sleeves as I encountered on Tempting. I'm just going to do it my way and see what happens. Also, the idea that this is a four to six hour project is a LIE. Maybe for the newborn size, but definitely not for the toddler size. And finally, this Cotton-Ease, is, uh, growing. I thought the acrylic was supposed to prevent this issue?
  3. Speaking of Tempting: nothing to say. It's in the bag, looking at me reproachfully for neglecting it in a recent fit of Startitis.
  4. Men's scarf: I'm doing the Men's Cashmere Scarf for my husband for our anniversary. Did I mention our anniversary was two days ago? I'm loving the Panache yarn from KnitPicks, but I cannot get the gauge right: size 11, as called for in the pattern, is too loose. Size 10 is too tight? And guess where my size 10.5 needles are? Yes, they're at home. Oh well.

Happily, there is a LYS here, and a very nice little one it is, tucked under a chichi shoe store in a side-street of "downtown" Jackson. I added to the stash:

  • one skein of PURPLE varigated Manos
  • three skeins of Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals, which I've never found at home, and
  • one skein of Trekking sock yarn

Other things of interest: I picked up the anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting, and it has two wonderful, informative roundtable discussions, one from the "Old Guard" of knitting (Meg Swanson, Alice Starmore, Kaffe Fasset, etc), and one from the "New Guard" (Debbie Stoller, the Yarn Harlot, Vickie Howell, etc). I'm dying for someone else to read it and discuss it.

And finally, HOORAY! I heard through the Ravelry grapevine that Martha Underwood is re-opening her yarn shop in Friendship. Hooray! Her shop is sorely needed, and I'm so excited for it to open.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

'Cause everyone else is doing it!

I don't know if it's just me, but if there's a current popular knitting pattern sweeping the internets, I want to knit it. Witness the Booga Bag Explosion of 2004. The Clapotis Craze of 2005. I had a baby in 2006, so I'm excused from that year, but right now, it's all about the Calorimetry. Once more, I blame Ravelry.

What is a Calorimetry? It's basically a fancy knitted Babushka, a head kerchief designed to keep your head warm when you're wearing your hair up and don't want it to be smushed by a hat. What makes this interesting to knit?
  • It's a great way to learn short rows (that is, if you want to learn short rows that leave holes).
  • It can be knit with any kind of yarn, as long as you get gauge. This one is knit up in Patons new SWS (soy wool stripes); it's fun to knit with, but one skein had three knots in it, which is unacceptable.
  • And it is a FAST knit. I made this in basically two evenings of tv (why, oh why, Nigel Lithgoe, did you send my Hok away?).
So what if I have three UFOs in my knitting bag? I finished something!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The downside of Ravelry

I have been so busy Raveling (Ravelating?) that I have not been knitting much at all in the past week since I got in. I'm a "single parent" this weekend, and last night I knit two rounds of the Placket Sweater before I put it down and dozed off in front of my tivo of "What Not to Wear." This is probably for the best, though, as the more I look at it, the more I think I should frog it and start over in the two year old size. The Cotton-Ease is knitting up like a dream, which is a pleasant surprise.

The good news, for those of you still waiting to get in to Ravelry, is that they've installed a feature that lets you type in your email address and then it shows you where you are in the queue to get in. Every day something new is added, or a function is improved. It's a lot of fun, and I'm really impressed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Troubling lys experience

I just got back from the lys with Lisa. I'm not going to go into the details because I didn't hear the specifics myself, but I will say that this is the last straw in a series of disappointing shopping experiences at that store. I've spent hundreds of dollars there, but no more. Plenty of online stores that have exactly what I want for less money. As a former LYS employee from long ago and far away, I know how stressful it can be to deal with customers, and hey, we all have bad days, but I hope I never made anyone feel like I felt today, and if I did, I am most sincerely sorry.

I actually feel like a sucker for buying what I did there today, but I'm comforting myself with the thought that I touched their Malabrigo, and now that I know what it feels like, I'll buy a lot of it elsewhere.

Terrible Case of Startitis

Yes, I have one. I blame that Knitting Crack known as Ravelry. I got my KnitPicks order this morning, including the dark blue Panache to start the Men's ("Cashmere") Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I also cast on last night for the Child's Placket Sweater, also from LMKG, inspired by Erin's baby sweater from the Knit and Stitch. I'm using Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, and this yarn snob is impressed so far. The swatch is amazingly soft and the stitch definition is great.

I'm still plugging away on my socks. I realized that one skein of Koigu isn't enough for one sock! What a dirty trick! My options are to make the leg shorter or suck it up and buy another skein. Thankfully I realized I was going to run short while I was still on the leg, so I won't have to frog anything. Sheesh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I broke our digital camera while taking pictures of my FO's for Ravelry (okay, I dropped it and jammed the power button, but that's fine because we needed a new one anyway) so you will be spared pictures, but my socks actually seem to be working out now that I've got an inch of ribbing completed. I'm still concerned that the gauge is too loose, but I think (I hope) it will resolve itself when I get to the plain stockinette part.

Here's my Ravelry Shout-Out of the Day: two of my photos have been selected for their featured pictures. So if you're looking to make anything out of the Itty-Bitty Hats book, that's my Candy Cane and Rainbow Marley hat you'll see.

And now for some grumpiness: I am mad at KnitPicks and mad at myself. I put two books in my stash there when the 40% off sale was announced. I left them in my stash because I wanted to wait until July 11, the next promised date for CotLin delivery, so I could combine the order and get free shipping. This morning I logged into KnitPicks, and found that the books had been sold out and, yes, you guessed it, still no CotLin. Argh!

Monday, July 09, 2007


Braaaaaaains. I feel like a zombie. Must. Play. With. Ravelry. It's wonderful. It's addictive. And best of all, I have told my husband that it will help me organize my yarn. He's been on me to clean out my yarn cupboards and other hidey-holes for months. I seem to have him thinking that this Ravelry thing is good and he's let me play on it for the past day and a half while he takes care of Henry. Ha! Can I also say that my favorite part of Ravelry so far is the UGH! section? It makes me feel better that other people have disastrous projects sometimes.

Speaking of disastrous projects, yesterday at the Knit and Stitch, Erin asked me if I brought my sock. Well, I had, but I was too embarrassed to bring it out. So instead, I will show it to the entire internets. I have no idea what I am doing wrong except that the needles feel too clunky and the tension is terrible - very loose and shapeless. Is this something that will shake out as I continue, or have I screwed it all up?

In happier news, I'm making a scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts for my husband for our anniversary. Not exactly cotton, but it'll do.

Sunday, July 08, 2007



Dudes, I got into Ravelry this morning! Too bad I can't quite figure out how to use it yet.

I'm AnnaW over there for those of you who are in already.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

First sock attempt

Here's why I've never tried socks before: I hate DPNs. I've used them grudgingly on sleeves and the tops of hats, and figured it was worth it not to have to seam anything. But this is beyond me.

Last night I swatched my Koigu and got the right gauge for the Yarn Harlot's sock recipe. Then I attempted to knit with these skinny, pointy needles and impossibly thin yarn. I can't do it. I made such a mess that I can't even post a picture of it.

Argh! Perhaps I should start with something other than Koigu? Try the Class Sock in Sensational Knitted Socks? Learn to do this on two circulars?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fun quiz, lame-o graphics

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In which I attempt to get organized...

...and fail miserably.

Every so often, I think I ought to clean up my yarn cupboard. I virtuously got out my ziplock bags in assorted sizes and put yarn I'd bought specifically for projects into bags, labelled the bags with the name of the project, what book or website the pattern was from, and if I had them handy, put the correct needles in the bag. This worked well for about five minutes. Then I got overwhelmed with all the random crap I have: dishcloth cotton, remnants of past projects, and a surprising amount of stash yarn from the closing sales of the Pittsburgh Knit and Bead. It's a disaster in there. I stuffed everything back in the cupboard and ran away.

I have a project that I need to brainstorm. My husband and I follow the traditional list for anniversary gifts. This year is our second, so the gift is "cotton." He suggested that I knit him something. But what? I don't have time to finish the Manly Sweater from Stitch 'n Bitch. He has two scarves. What can I make for a man that I can finish in a month?

Finally, you know what is really entertaining for a thirteen month old? Watching yarn being wound from a swift. It's enough to make me want to haul out my entire stash and wind it up.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tempting Sleeve

I am pleased to say that I have Achieved Sleeves. The Ann Norling method worked, and I note that Jenna Adorno changed her directions for attaching sleeves to sweaters knit in the round to basically the Norling method in her pattern featured on Knitty Gritty and Stitch and Bitch Nation. My only problem is that the join is a mess; the stitches are all stretched out, and I hope that can be repaired when I graft the armpits. Well, okay, my other problem is that it looks teeny tiny! I got gauge when I swatched. I guess this is where I trust the yarn and hope the ribbing stretches appropriately.

Speaking of gauge, is it me, or do they never, ever talk about gauge on Knitty Gritty? On the old shows, they would give the specific yarn and a needle size. On the new shows, they don't mention any specific brand but talk about yarn weight in a very offhand, vague way. Granted many of the projects don't require gauge, but I think this does a huge disservice to new knitters who need to know 1. what gauge is, and 2. how to substitute brands of yarn, both in terms of weight and yardage needed.

And now for some Mason-Dixon knitting, which of course I started up again as soon as I got my new needles. I am a junkie for sure. Both of these are gifts and you all will note that none of the ends are woven in, nor are there any buttons. Have I mentioned I hate finishing work?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Finished Objects

Thought I'd share pictures of some of the things I made while I was on Blogging Hiatus.

I didn't make this one, but it's so nice, I wanted to share it. Lisa made this cardigan from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Treasured Babies for my baby shower.

Bottom-up pullover from an Ann Norling pattern. This one turned out to be kind of a disaster. The collar is a mess, which I disguised with a strategically placed sheep button. I feel lucky that it went over his head at all -- we won't speak of the green and blue striped pullover that won't. Let's just say it's fortunate that I'm a Process Knitter rather than a Project Knitter.

Candy Cane Hat from Itty-Bitty Baby Hats. I used Svale from Dale of Norway, which I would not use again because the stretch and drape isn't right. But I like the pattern very much and plan to make another in Steeler colors for the fall.

Cardigan from the above Ann Norling pattern with matching Umbilical Cord hat from Stitch 'n Bitch. The yarn is Pittsburgh Print, which is what we carried in the old Knit and Bead rather than Encore. I really like this yarn a lot, but haven't seen it since the store closed. I wish I'd bought some for The Stash when the store closed and I got my super-duper discount.

Big Bad Baby Blanket from Stitch 'n Bitch. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherds Worsted. I know it seems insane to use $17 a skein yarn for a blanket, but this wears and washes beautifully, and at the time I still had my employee discount.

Vest from Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. I wish I had a better picture of this because the stitch detail is beautiful: I used Rowan Calmer, which again, seems insane, but it washes surprisingly well, despite the Dire Warnings on the label. I bought the Harding book because it has two patterns for nursing sweaters in it. I don't like these particular nursing sweaters, but I feel like any designer who thinks to make one should be supported.

We will not speak of the three unfinished baby sweaters I have in my closet. I'm so embarrassed to say that I hate seaming so much, I stuffed them away and now they don't fit Henry anyway. See the bit about it's a good thing I'm a Process Knitter above.

By the way, there's an interesting discussion going on now on Yahoo's Knitlist about Destashing and going on Yarn Diets. Looking over my own stash, I'm surprised that for a Process Knitter, most of the stash has been purchased for specific projects. The only random stash things I have are things I snapped up when the store went out of business. Hmm.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Jimmy Beans Love

My new needles arrived yesterday! So to recap, I sent off broken needles last Wednesday, got a confirmation email on Friday, and the needles came on Monday. In less than a week they replaced $20 needles that they didn't even sell me in the first place for $4, and then basically refunded that $4 with a free shipping coupon. Amazing.

Everyone go buy a lot of yarn from them now!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tempting sleeve join - thinking out loud

I'm at the point in Tempting where I've knit most of the body and need to join the sleeves, working in the round.

I've done this before using the Ann Norling children's sweaters from the bottom up pattern. Her method goes something like this: The beginning of the round is the back of the sweater. Knit x number of stitches until you get to where the sleeve begins. Place a marker. Slide y number of stitches to a stitch marker. Take the sleeve and knit from the DPNs or stitch holders onto the circular needle. Leave y number of stitches onto the holder (the same amount as you left on the body). Those two sets of stitches will be grafted together or joined by a three needle bind off later. Place another marker. Continue to knit across the front, then repeat the process when you get to the other sleeve point.

In Tempting, though, Jenna Adorno gives these instructions:
Place next 12 [14,16,18,20] sts on waste yarn, work across 60[66, 74, 82, 88] sts, place next 12 [14,16,18,20] sts on waste yarn, work to end of rnd. Set aside. Do not break yarn.

[Sleeve instructions, blah, blah, blah]

Join Sleeves to Body
NOTE: Read through this entire step before beginning.Using circular needle and ball of yarn attached to body, and working in 2x2 rib as set, work across 40[46, 52, 58, 64] sts of one sleeve, work across 60[66, 74, 82, 88] sts of front of body, work across 40[46, 52, 58, 64] sts of second sleeve, work across 60[66, 74, 82, 88] sts of back of body.There should now be 200[224, 252, 280, 304] sts on the circular needle, and the sleeves and body should be joined, ready for the yoke to be worked. At the underarms, the sts on waste yarn from the body and from the sleeves will be opposite each other. These sts will be joined later on.

This makes no sense to me, in part because I tried to work it out last night at 10:30 while watching Munich (not exactly an uplifting or subtle film - were you all aware that terrorism is wrong, no matter who does it? Thanks, Stephen Spielberg!), and in part because I'm so used to Ann Norling's method. Adorno's method, as far as I can tell, leaves long floats across the armpit? Do you knit the stitches before putting them on the waste yarn? If you don't, how do not join the sweater inadvertently before adding the sleeves?

If you've made this before, help! Is there a reason to this madness, or will this work using the method I know?

Okay, knitting-related things to be grumpy about:
  • Everyone is on Ravelry except me! I feel like I'm looking in, my face pressed up against the glass. Let me in!
  • It's June 25. Do you know where your CotLin is? Apparently Knitpicks doesn't either. New date? July 11.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jimmy Beans rocks

I heart them. Here's the email I just received:

Hi Anna,

I just wanted to let you know that we received the Lantern Moon Needle that you sent in for the broken needle exchange. We are sending you a new set of needles this afternoon, and have created an order in our system for them. The order number is 79805, should you need to call us for any reason about your needles.

They should arrive shortly, and thanks for checking us out!

And in a separate email, they sent a coupon code for free shipping on my next order. Wow. Where's my credit card? I have shopping to do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Amanda has saved the day!

Jimmy Beans Wool will replace broken Lantern Moon needles for just the cost of shipping and handling, even if the needles were purchased elsewhere. Hooray! Hooray!

Since the pain of breaking an expensive needle has been alleviated, I figure this is the Knitting Universe's way of telling me Enough with the Mason Dixon Bibs already. I'll continue work on Tempting and perhaps begin my socks. (By the way, I bought 8 inch DPNs for those. Too long?)

PS Just so I don't lose my grumpy edge, KnitPicks is now claiming June 25 as the date when CotLin will be available. Hmm.

Extra-Grumpy Knitter

And it's all my fault this time.

I sat down on the couch this morning and saw my knitting out of the corner of my eye. The thought "Oh, I should be care--" flashed through my mind, and then I heard it. SNAP.

I sat on my size 7 Lantern Moon needle and broke it. :( Not my cheap Clovers that I purchased with my employee discount, but my $20+ beautiful rosewood Lantern Moons.

Is there anything I can do? Wood glue? Or is it doomed?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Grumpy Knitter

Dear Knitpicks:

I really would like to purchase some CotLin. Would you please sell me some? At first you said it would be back in stock on May 31. So on May 31, I went to your website and you'd changed it to June 15. Last Friday was June 15, so I eagerly went online to choose my colors. No! You changed the date again to June 18!

It's June 18. Your website indicates that you have CotLin available. I placed six skeins in my cart. But when I went to my cart, you wouldn't let me buy it!

What is wrong with you people? Either you have it, or you don't. If you're sold out, stop advertising CotLin tantalizingly from your main page. It's cruel to hold out the promise of CotLin, only never to deliver.


PS I'm reading the Yarn Harlot books, which I confess I've never read before. Why, dear Yarn Harlot, did you stick that Dead Baby story in the middle of an otherwise charming and funny book? I know you mean it as a Tender Story that Shows the Emotional Power of Knitting, but it's not a Lesson I need right now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Knit One yarn sale

I am proud of myself. Lisa and I hit the big sale at Knit One this morning around 9:30, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not completely crazy as expected. The checkout line was actually quick and efficient (note to Knit One: whatever you did today to get people through the line quickly, do that again all the time).

Usually at these things I get overwhelmed and turn into a magpie, buying bits and bobs of yarn I think are pretty or interesting and then they sit unused in my stash. This time. I bought yarn for three projects and spent "only" $110:
  • "UltraFemme" from Stitch and Bitch Nation, also shown on Knitty Gritty, yarn as called for in the pattern
  • "Tempting," from Knitty (what can I say, I like Jenna Adorno's designs), Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a beautiful pewter blue color. I'm currently making one in taupe for my sister, and after all the MDK knitting I've been doing, it was so nice to knock out a few inches of that sweater while visiting with Lisa.
  • Two skeins of Koigu sock yarn in a lovely red colorway. I've never knit socks before! Any tips or hints for a beginner? What pattern should I use? Should I teach myself the Magic Loop method or muddle through on DPNs?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How quickly time flies

How we got from the top photo to the bottom one, I don't know. I know it's a cliche, but I'm amazed how quickly the year has passed. The birthday was a success, even though the birthday boy got a tad bit overwhelmed by the cake and the singing. Please note, though, that he is not wearing his hat!

PS Lisa, I know you tagged me, but things have been crazy around here! I'm sorry!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Completed Birthday Hat!

You can see how the recipient really appreciates my efforts. ;)

I made the size intended for a 2 year old because Henry's hat size has tended to run larger than recommended for his age. I knit to gauge, but the Bernat yarn stretched to the point where the hat also fits me and my husband. A hat for the whole family!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Itty Bitty Birthday Hat

Henry's first birthday is a week from Monday, and his party is on Saturday. I've been working on the birthday cake hat from Itty Bitty Hats all this week in preparation. After months of doing Mason-Dixon Knitting with the cheapest yarn there is, I thought I was over my yarn snobbery, but no, this project has brought it back in full force. Instead of using RYC Cashsoft as the pattern calls for (which Knit One didn't have in the right colors, as usual, and it was too late to order online), I've substituted a Bernat yarn. Ick. It squeaks! It sticks to the needles! I'm violating my rule of life is too short and there are too many lovely things to knit to use yucky yarn, but I figure this hat is a one-time only deal. It will look adorable, and that's what counts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bibs inspired by a mobile

I chose the colors of this latest batch of MDK bibs because they reminded me of the thing my son loved most in the early months of his life, theTiny Love mobile (aka Baby Crack....if you are expecting a baby or wish to give a baby gift everyone raves about, get this one).

But the ends to weave in, ugh! Is there any way I could get away with just tying knots on the multicolored ballband bib and call it a day?

In non-MDK knitting news (non-MDK? shocking, I know), I am contemplating making the Birthday Cake Hat from Itty-Bitty Hats for Henry's upcoming birthday. But would it be worth it for something that's basically a one-time deal? Will I have time to order the yarn needed, and finish it? Hmmm.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Messy, Messy Ballbands

Maybe it's because I'm sick with whatever creeping crud is going around, but the edges of my Ballband Bibs are seriously deteriorating. The tension is terrible, strange little loops are popping up, and I can't seem to be able to carry the color I'm not working with up on the purl row. What could I be doing wrong? Even my very first attempts at a Ballband Warshcloth are not this bad. Hmmm.

PS Dear Knitpicks: Please get some CotLin back in stock soon! I want to make hand towels without coughing up $20 a skein for Euroflax!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Knitty Gritty

Is it okay to confess I usually hate all the projects featured on the DIY show Knitty Gritty? As a knitter, I feel I am obligated to watch and support a tv show about knitting, but really, if this is the best we can do, I'm sad. I do not want to knit fuzzy dice for my car. I do not want to make a rasta hat. I do not want to knit a monitor cover. And I most certainly do not want to "knit on."

I will grudgingly admit that though obviously I am not the target audience for this show (as I will not be knitting bikini tops anytime soon) sometimes the show is excellent for showing techniques. This show on the double knitting technique was fabulous, for example, even though the project itself was beyond lame.

And the improvements continue: last week Cat Bordhi demonstrated her amazing Coriolis Sock. And how cute is this vintage inspired apron by Jordana Paige? It makes me want to actually knit something from the show. So I guess I won't delete Knitty Gritty from my dvr just yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is there a Mason Dixon 12-Step Program?

Because I really need an intervention.

If you haven't picked up Mason Dixon Knitting yet, I really urge you to do so. This book of patterns for seeming everyday objects is the most fun and inspirational knitting book I've seen. The possibilities for things to do with cheap dishcloth cotton are endless. And keep in mind, I once managed a yarn store and wouldn't dream of using yarn from a Big Box store. If this book can convert a yarn snob like me, surely it has some power.

My latest obsession is the simple Baby Bib O' Love pattern. Cast on 40 stitches. Knit. Make some straps by binding off in the middle. Here's my Product Tester surveying my initial attempts, made with Sugar and Cream yarn.

But wait! It turns out that the good people at Elmore-Pisgah provide the Crack to feed the Mason Dixon craving. Amanda turned me on to the Mason Dixon pack, and the addiction really began. The customer service, by the way, at Elmore-Pisgah is outstanding. The shipping is a bit nuts, but the box of yarn arrives in two days, which is almost, but not quite, instant gratification. They also called me at home about my order and are just generally nice. I'll be ordering from them a lot.

Here are my latest efforts, in various states of finishing work (minus two I sent off for baby shower gifts). I started with the basic pattern, but found that the slip stitch pattern used for the Baby Genius Burp Cloths is much more pleasing. I also adapted the Ballband Dishcloth pattern for a bib after seeing one on the very inspirational Mason Dixon Knitalong Blog. Overall, I'd recommend making the effort to order the Peaches and Creme from Elmore Pisgah rather than settling for the Sugar and Cream from the Big Box stores: it wears better, feels softer, and the ombres are a million times more interesting.

It's been a lot of fun. I have a lot more bibs left in me, and luckily, a messy baby of my own as well as several new babies on the way to knit for. When I'm tired of that, I can move on to Ballband warshcloths and linen handtowels.