Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Snowing Again?!?

February is asserting itself with another snowfall, making sure we know it is Leap Year and not March yet. Now that I have other plans for tomorrow, there will probably be enough snow for cross country skiing. This year I just can't win.

Snowing again

This is the house of one of the neighbors who did not blow my driveway after the last snow. Neither did my next door neighbor. I shoveled a bit, enough to get my car out of the garage, but have not had the time nor the energy to finish the job. Both these neighbors have been very helpful this winter, but I guess even they have their limits. I'm home sick (the usual: sore throat, headache, runny nose, etc.) so I'm not going to tackle it today. Maybe tomorrow afternoon, if it doesn't melt first. One can always hope!

Meanwhile, I needed something bright and cheerful to work on, plus I am out of "expectant grandmother sets," so I knitted up this Mason-Dixon Knitting baby bib and burp rag.

Sunny baby big and burp rag

They are in Peaches & Cream on US 6 needles. I like how the "Daisy Ombre" colorway pools on the bib but not the burp rag. All I need to do is add a button to the bib and they will be ready to go.

The other night, I had to try my hand at filet crochet, so I worked up this pattern from Filet Crochet.

Filet Crochet anchor

It's in Red Heart Sport (not the best choice), on a size 00 crochet hook, and it took about two hours, including time to figure out what the heck I was doing and to undo some mistakes. The square is about 8.5 inches on a side and took 20g of yarn. It was kinda fun, so I'll probably do more in the future.

Meanwhile, I got this out of the library:

I have to admit, this Harmony Guide is kind of disappointing. I don't know if it is the photography or the yarn, but the pictures are not very enticing. The other Harmony Guides I have looked at were lacking charts, but this book has charts... for some of the designs. I wonder what the editors based that decision on, besides cost.

Well, sick or not, I am washing the dishes. Otherwise I will have no pots to cook supper in. Then it is time for a nap.

P.S. The spell-checker is back, but Blogger is balking at uploading photos today, so I have resorted to using Flickr. The template seems to be chopping off some of the pix, though. *sigh*

Monday, February 25, 2008

In Stitches

Does anyone out there have experience with filet crochet? Me neither. I picked up a book on it at the library, though: Filet Crochet, by Betty Barnden.

Basically, you crochet mesh squares, filling in some of them with extra double crochet stitches and leaving some open, to create a design or pattern. And you don't have to use teeny tiny crochet hooks and finer-than-fine threads. Any yarn and an appropriately sized crochet hook will do. It doesn't look difficult. I might give it a go some night, with some leftover fingering, just to see what it is like. (Just what I need, another yarn craft!)

Other books I have been getting out of the library as they come available include the new releases of the Harmony Guides. Apparently, many other knitters are also looking for them because the only two I have seen so far are Knit and Purl and Lace and Eyelets.

The surprising thing about these books is they do not include charts. Instead, the stitch work is described row by row. Personally, I prefer charts. At least, that is what I am used to.

As far as content goes, I can see myself making use of Knit and Purl, but not so much Lace and Eyelets. I do enjoy some of the names of the patterns, though, like "Lawn Hyacinths" and "Papyrus Lace" and "Raised Tyre Track Panel".

Despite my good intentions, I bought more yarn last night, online from The Pinwheel Sweater is on my list of things to knit this year, so yarn for that is okay, but I included yarn for the Sun Ray Shawl as well. This is my first order with Elann, and that is a lot of yarn to buy sight unseen. Fingers and toes and knitting needles crossed, that I like what I bought.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Givers and Givees

In a previous lifetime, I baked bread for my family. Four loaves a week, every week. (We also heated with wood and raised chickens and grew all our vegetables, too. Right out of Mother Earth News.) I didn't think too much about it; baking bread was just something I did.

A friend of mine decided she was going to bake some bread, too. She made one loaf and served it with dinner. The next day, her husband used a couple of slices for a sandwich, which just incensed her. That loaf of bread was something special and it shouldn't be used for something as plebeian as sandwiches.

I know knitters like that, who consider each handmade object a work of art, something to be stored in a drawer and taken out to be admired or worn only for special occasions. I doubt they would ever knit socks.

But I also know knittees like that, who are so impressed with the handmade thingy with which you have gifted them that they store it away for safekeeping. Example: I crocheted a baby afghan for some friends. They loved it and used it to bring the baby home from the hospital, where upon said baby pooped and puked on said afghan. It (the afghan) was cleaned and folded and put away as a keepsake. A keepsake made of cheap acrylic, stitched up in my spare time. Some giftees are reluctant to use even cotton dishcloths.

Few things make me happier than to know my knitting is being used for its intended purpose. I hear from my SO how his daughters found their cotton dishcloths to be particularly useful for particularly difficult cleaning jobs. Almost every time I see my daughter, she is wearing a pair of handknit socks. My stepmother wears her swallowtail shawl when she is out and about with her friends, and passes their compliments on to me (and I think the primary purpose of a swallowtail shawl is to elicit compliments).

And, to take gifting one step further, I try to detach myself from where an object may ultimately wind up. A scarf may get lost, but hopefully will still be used by someone somewhere. A pair of socks may be passed around until they find the right feet. An afghan may become Fido's favorite bed.


It's just knitting.

(BTW, this post is number 200!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Sheep for You

How would you like to own your very own sheep? Read all about it here. Unfortunately, the adoption site is in Icelandic, but with enough hits from us Yanks, maybe they will translate.

I took a mini-break from knitting, about as much of a break as I do, and have now picked up the Jaywalkers again (and yes, I am frogging the gussets). My son-in-law liked/disliked the Thuja socks - comfy and warm but they would not stay up on his chicken legs. So now we are playing musical socks - they will fit someone - and he will have a chance at the Jaywalkers. The colorway is blues and I don't think the stitchery is too girly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


It was so cold today that I fetched the red-red-red sweater from the guest bedroom and put it on. The fit is far from perfect, but I said, Screw it, I'm wearing it to work. So I did. But I did not show it off.

Details: I started with the "Miss Priss Hoodie" pattern from Schaefer Yarns but I used Cascade 220 instead, then eliminated the zipper, knit it in the round on US7 needles, added lace stitchery on the sleeves and front ("lace diagonal" and "snowdrop" respectively, from The Knitting Stitch Bible), and tried a couple different necks (including a snood) before settling on one that would increase the likelihood that I would actually wear the sweater.

If I had a do-over, I would increase the garter stitch rows at the cuffs and the hem, as they have a tendency to curl. And I would have made it a little bigger, as blocking didn't add as much width as I had hoped. And I might have chosen a yarn with more drape. But I like the color and I like the way the material breathes. It is both warm and comfy. So, even if I don't wear it out and about much, I will still definitely wear it. In fact, I have it on right now.

Time to put on all my wool and check on the lunar eclipse.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Small Accomplishments

My previous employer was big on diversity but we did not get MLK Day off, much less Presidents Day. The holidayless stretch from New Year's to Memorial Day seemed endless. Current job is the pits, but at least we get those two days off. So today was a do-as-little-as-possible day. My biggest accomplishment was eating the last piece of fruit from the citrus box I purchased from a co-worker at xmas (school fundraiser). Oh, and I got a haircut and brow waxing. Woo-hoo.

The red-red-red sweater cannot dry fast enough for me.

My son came up with the idea of blocking wool sweaters on plastic bags, but he placed his over an electric blanket turned on low. Alas, I have no electric blanket and my waterbed is long gone, but I could set up a fan, I supposed.

And for some reason, I just can't face the Jaywalkers. For one thing, I made a mistake on the gussets, and I'm contemplating how anal I shall be about it - the pause before the frog. Also, I need a break from US1 needles. So I pulled out the US6's and a cone of cotton for Mason-Dixon baby bibs and burp rags.

My SO made this turntable for my cotton cones. Slick, huh?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Good Day to Stay In

February may be the month with the fewest days, but this year it feels interminable. Today it was warmish (50 degrees) and rainy, but the next few days promise a return of wintery conditions. Many blogs that I follow contain similar rants against the weather. Will it never end? Those of us who garden need to smell some dirt!

To fend off winter's chill, I finished another pair of Maine Morning Mitts:

... so now I have a complete ensemble:

To refresh your memory, these items are the Math Geek scarf, Lark's Bubble Wrap cap, and from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, Maine Morning Mitts, all from two skeins of Cascade 220 Paints, all knit on size US7 needles. Each mitt weighs 26g and all that remained when I finished was 1g of yarn. That's calling it close!

The weather being what it was, I decided to spend the afternoon doing taxes. Not my favorite activity, but TurboTax makes it relatively painless. This year I am getting a refund :-) but only because I withheld more than usual :-(. But at least that task is out of the way.

While working up a spreadsheet of my charitable donations, I came across an old budget from 2006, which got me wondering how I spent my money this past year. I started working up a summary of 2007 and had to enter a separate line item for yarn. Yikes! Maybe I should practice more stash busting this year.

And tonight I am finally, finally blocking the red-red-red sweater. Hopefully it will be wearable, another layer of armor against the cold.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I finished the Maine Morning Mitts at lunch today and showed them to a co-worker, and each person who happened by had to try them on, which led to ooh's and aah's and these are so warm and my wife would love these.

They may have a craft bazaar at work this fall, and these mitts are so quick and easy I was thinking of including them in my offerings.

But I would probably knit them in something friendlier (and cheaper). I loved watching the colors emerge in the Noro Kureyon, but the wool itself? Not so much. Although Clara Parkes includes this yarn in the single ply section of her book, I think it is actually two-ply, but a very stiff and inelastic and scratchy two-ply.

But, oddly enough, once knit up, the yarn felt softer. I expected the colorway to repeat but it did not, so if you want matching mitts, you will need to buy two skeins.

Oh, look, here is another FO: Lark's Bubble Wrap Cap.

I used Cascade 220 Paints and US7 needles, just like for the Math Geek scarf.

And, in case you missed it, the yarn is not maroon and black, but cranberry, berry, and navy.

Since there was still 50g of this yarn left, I started another pair of Maine Morning Mitts to complete the ensemble. Since the Noro mitts were a bit snug on my ginormous hands, I am increasing the row length by 3 stitches. The first one is almost done already. Like I said, they are quick to knit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What an Ordeal

Tonight I decided to try entering a project into Ravelry and link in my Flickr photos. The linking worked just fine, but entering the project was something else, because there were six colors of the same yarn and, being the anal compulsive that I am, I entered them all, one at a time. Then Ravelry didn't have the pattern, so I tried to add it, which involved entering a link, but Lion Brand "forgot" who I was, so I could not get to the pattern. Then I kept clicking on something on the Ravelry page that would take me back to the beginning of the project entry and lose my data. And I had to find the blog entry, too. It just seemed like 'way too much work. But if you don't enter all the details, then Ravelry can't do it's linking thing, which is the whole point, isn't it? I don't know - I'm feeling like a Luddite tonight.

And I feel like I am getting behind on blogging, because I have an FO that I have yet to photograph, let alone post, and I started a pair of Maine Morning Mitts, and I have the tops of the Jaywalkers done. But tonight I had snow to shovel and yoga class to attend and dishes to wash, and now it is time to feed the bunny and take the dog out for one last pee before bed. The days are just packed! Who has time for Ravelry?

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Can Quit Anytime

Sunday morning, the local paper carried an article on redefining alcoholism. After my SO reads the article, he turns to me and asks, "So. When do you know you have a knitting addiction?"

"It's not an addiction," I say. "It's an obsession."

"Oka-a-ay. What are the signs your knitting is out of control? It's the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?"

"Um, I knit while drinking my morning coffee. And I knit at lunch. And I knit during bunny hour."

"Bunny hour is a good time to knit."

"I suppose if knitting were to get in the way of other things one should be doing..." (Don't notice the dust. Don't notice the dust. Don't notice the dust.) "... or if it became an issue with the other people in one's life, then one might have a knitting problem."

"Sure. Like any addiction."

This, from a man who, at the very moment of this conversation, is wearing a pair of handknit socks, socks which he tells me not only warm his feet and his heart but also give him a psychological lift on gray winter days, a man who has requested a handknit fez, for Pete's sake. He'd better watch it, or the supply line for his addiction to handknits just might dry up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What a Maroon

Yesterday, on my way home from yoga, I stopped in at Sarah Jane's to see if I could find some wool to match the maroon in my Math Geek scarf. I ran into my SO in the parking lot (no, he was not buying yarn, he was after coffee), and I was explaining my dilemma of wanting to make some maroon and black mittens to match the scarf. We both examined the scarf in the light of day and discovered it is not maroon and black but more of a berry, cranberry, and navy. In my defense, there has not been very much sunshine around here lately.

More about yesterday: Needing some motivation to vacuum, I rearranged the livingroom furniture, a side effect of which is there is now more natural light where I sit (and knit) on the couch. Needing something simple to work on - socks on US1 seemed too myopic, a lace shawl in fingerling involved too much counting - I started Lark's Bubble Wrap Cap in the same yarn as the Math Geek scarf. Not needing it, I kept being reminded that the yarn is berry, cranberry, and navy.

Now something about today: I finished the red-red-red sweater!!! At least, the knitting part and the grafting the armpits part and the weaving of the ends part. Now all that remains is the blocking part. However, I tried on the sweater one last time, and since it is so freakin' cold today, I kept the sweater on. The blocking can wait until a warmer day.

(You David Sedaris fans have probably read Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I am contemplating a companion book: Dress Yourself (and Your Baby!) in Wool and Cotton. Besides the sweater, I am wearing my Clara Barton socks, and when I took pity on the wildlife and went outside to fill the bird feeders, I added the Math Geek scarf and the hat from the Chunky Winter Set. Yes, I did resemble a homeless person, but believe me, no one else was outside to witness my fashion statement.)

For the record, the red-red-red sweater is still seamless and purl-less, but now also snoodless. I was really attached to the idea of calling it the Snoody-Hoody, but the snood part was just too bulky. Maybe in another yarn, one with more drape, it would work, but not Cascade 220. And for you purists, the seamless part may be compromised by the armpit grafts, depending on how you feel about grafting. I find it much simpler than seaming - even though I had to resort to The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques to learn how to graft live stitches with bound off stitches - that I declare it to be different from seaming. So the seamless status of this sweater stands.

Speaking of babies (and I was, more or less, two paragraphs ago), a friend of mine just became a new grandma, so she is getting one of my "grandmother sets". That's the last set, and I have more friends who are expectant grandmas, so it's time to knit some more. Babies are messy!

Friday, February 08, 2008


Playing with the header, but I'm not 100% satisfied with the way Blogger centers it. The cat in the photo is Lily, sister to my Fern, photo courtesy of my daughter and her new camera. Modifications (i.e. tinting) by me.

Is anyone else tired of this weather? February is the longest month of the year. I don't suffer from SAD, but I would still like a little sunshine.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

They don't call this city Fort Rain for nothin'. And now the rain is getting into my house. I'm used to it seeping over the sill of the Florida room (which is basically just an enclosed patio), but tonight I noticed it dripping down the brickwork of my fireplace. I'm afraid to look in the crawl space. *sigh* The joys of home ownership are greatly exaggerated. IMHO.

Once I got started on the falling leaves shawl last Sunday, I just could not stop. Until today, that is, when I finished the knitting. No mean task, either, as I used a picot bind off. Following the instructions I found at knitty, each picot involved 14 moves, which was still much simpler than the instructions in Vogue Knitting. Now all I need to do is weave in ends and graft the corners and figure out how in the world I can block Plymouth Encore, which is a wool-acrylic blend. Maybe a little starch will help?

And I have been playing in Ravelry, entering a few projects and yarns and books, adding a few friends, joining a few groups, etc. I am trying to work out in my mind how I am going to blend blogging with Ravelrying, as they seem to overlap. It is almost like having two bank accounts and trying to keep track of which one is for what. Maybe once Ravelry is open to the public, it will all fall into place.

Oh! I almost forgot - Knitting Off Broadway has a website now.

(Is anyone else having trouble activating the spell checker in Blogger? Pleeze excuse any speling errrors you may find!)

Monday, February 04, 2008

I'm In

I received my invite to Ravelry today, user name bittenbyknittin. I haven't had the chance to really explore yet, but when you hear that huge sucking noise from Hoosierland, you will know that I have fallen down the Ravelry hole. Help me!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I Must Be Sick

I finished up Jason's Thuja socks this morning (pix below), then cast about for something new to knit (ha ha - pun intended!) and could not think of anything. I already have some socks on the needle and nothing else came to mind, so I actually picked up some UFO's to work on. Gasp!

My original intention was to reseam parts of Elizabeth's outfit. The good thing about mattress stitch is it is invisible. That is also the bad thing, because I could not see where to pick out stitches. Figuring I would do more damage than good, I decided that, since Elizabeth is a doll, the knitting police are not going to arrest me for just letting the not-quite-right seams lay.

So I picked up falling leaves shawl. Remember that? I barely do. The last time I worked on it, the problem was how to graft the two halves together. Going further back in memory, we recall that since the falling leaves pattern has direction, I knit the shawl in two halves, so the leaves will fall from each shoulder. I researched different methods for joining the two halves, then today whimped out and just used kitchener stitch.

It may not be the "right" way or the best way, but I think it will look okay, once it is blocked.

Next problem was the edging. Some kind of lattice work seemed appropriate, so that is what I am experimenting with right now.

Again, I think it will look okay, once blocked.

Here are Jason's new socks:

Pattern: Thuja from Knitty
Yarn: Art Yarns Supermerino
Needle size: US6

Since the pattern called for three 50g balls of yarn, I was more generous with the cuff and leg than I might otherwise have been.

I love this yarn! It is soft and springy, with no funny spots. Everyone is going to want some Art Yarns socks.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bunny Hour

I have to tell you, that dog sweater is the cat's pajamas (so to speak). When the air turns arctic, Betsy dons her new outfit and actually stays outside for ten or fifteen minutes instead of seconds. The only problem has been that the whole sweater shifts backwards on her, stretching the neck and putting stress on the seams. So tonight, during Bunny Hour, I added a turtleneck and cuffs.

I have been using Lion Brand Thick 'n Quick, leftover from Sean's Go Go Garter Scarf, but there was not enough for tonight's additions, so I had to switch to the leftovers from Nate's Slipper Socks.

Now the outfit reminds me of those "anatomy of a sock" pictures, where the parts of a sock are knit in different colors.

Betsy doesn't care - she is colorblind. Plus, probably from resignation, she actually posed for me and my camera.

FYI - Bunny Hour is the time in the evening when the bedrooms doors are closed and Hip Hop aka Bunny Guy gets the run of the house for a little while. Oh, and Fern has to be locked away in the Florida room for the duration.

She may look like a big fat raccoon, but she is quick.