Monday, September 28, 2009

Embarrassed and disappointed

I am embarrassed over how long it has taken me to officially finish the February Lady Sweater. I swatched in January, knit off and on until July when I blocked it, then it sat until now, waiting for three little buttons to be sewn on.

So much for the embarrassment. Now for the disappointment. The sweater looks like crap on me. My efforts to make the neck smaller did not help because my shoulders are just too broad for this style. My daughter tried it on, and while it looked better on her, she said it felt like an "armpit wedgie" because there was too much material under the arms for her taste.

But it's so cute! And I loved knitting it in spite of the splicey yarn! I guess it will take up residence in the gift drawer, waiting for its true owner to show up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A better record keeper

Thanks to a previous blog entry, I was able to determine that the roving I was spindling last Sunday must be the shetland I bought almost a year ago. Most of my roving is identifiable, but there are two balls of something incredibly soft that must be merino, but I have no memory of where they came from. Blogs are great for keeping records, but the record keeper needs to actually enter the information for the record keeping to be effective. Doh.

The knitting of the BSJ is done, but I'm not going to seam it until I've shown it to a few people, to see if they can fold it into a baby sweater. I must admit, the BSJ is an ingenious design. Like socks, the first one is the hardest.

While picking up the stitches from the ten center ridges of the BSJ, I had an epiphany. Instead my usual method of knitting stitches in the valleys of the ridges (which creates a lumpy join), I picked up stitches from the bumps of the ridges with the left needle, then knitted them with the right needle. The join is practically invisible! Am I the last knitter on earth to learn this? Now I want to try this on a Mason-Dixon nine-patch dishcloth, and I mean NOW.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Now I am REALLY out of yarn money

The last time I went to the Johnny Appleseed Festival, I swear there was only one yarn vendor. Something happened between then and now, though.

I should have been suspicious when I saw alpacas...

... and spinners...

... and a spindler.

Instead of carrying a knitting project with her, this woman totes along her spindle and even spins in the car!

There was also a demonstration of flax spinning.

Can I grow flax in my backyard?

Somehow - I'm not sure how - this roving came home with me.

It's from an alpaca named Spartacus who lives on the Michel Century Farm in Huntington, IN. The picture does not show it well, but the color is a rose gray.

For some reason, I have had a thing for purples this year.

This yarn was hand spun and hand dyed with logwood and alum, and comes from the Annie Goatley Farm in Potterville, MI.

And these odds and ends were being offered by Hoosier Pride Products, for a dollar a piece.

Wouldn't they make a nice BSJ? I'm already planning another!

Coming home with roving reminded me that I was going to do some spindling during football season. And today I did, but not very well. Now I know why some people designate a day of the week for spinning - use it or lose it!

BTW, I cleaned up the sidebar a bit today. What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

O ye of little faith (in two parts)

Faithless, part I

When I purchased a skein of Dragon Brook Yarns sock yarn at Metaphor Yarns while on vacation, I was skeptical that one skein would produce an entire pair of socks. But the price was such that I was willing to risk it. Still, I was skeptical enough to force myself to knit toe-up, figuring if I ran out, I could knit the cuff in a complementary yarn.

But guess what?

There was plenty of yarn, if by plenty, I mean 5 grams left over from the original 80. And I am glad I did not have to find a complementary yarn because this stuff is one-of-a-kind.

I will quote directly from the label: Dragon Brook Yarns is a small hobby farm in Shelburne, Massachusetts. All of our yarn is created from our own Romney-cross sheep. The wool is sent out to a mill to be processed into single ply yarns. When it comes back it is dyed in 1 lb batches and then plied together by hand to create these unique marled yarns.

The yarn is a coarse blend of 75% wool and 25% nylon and has no spring to it, but I loved knitting it, I think because it feels so close to the source. I could practically hear the sheep baa-ing! And I loved the mixture of gray, brown, orange, and gold. It reminds me of autumn.

The label lacks any reference to needle size or gauge, so using the wraps-per-inch method, I guessed it to be sport weight, but just barely. I used US2 needles and the number of stitches per round was 56. The pattern was cobbled together from Socks from the Toe Up: "easy" toe, gusset heel, stockinette stitch, 1x1 ribbing for the cuff. These socks are a woman's large/man's medium and are destined for my SO (he picked out the yarn), but I hate to see them go.

Faithless, part II

Thanks to Qutecowgirl's suggestion in the comments, I visited Ravelry (my Id there is "bittenbyknittin") and found a spreadsheet similar to the one I am creating as I knit my Baby Surprise Jacket, and already I have found a difference in interpretations! On the row of increases (for fullness above the cuff), The Boy Who Knits did no decreases. While this makes a certain amount of sense, his method differs from yesterday's source. I think I prefer the latter, as then the lines of double decreases are uninterrupted, but it probably does not matter. TBWK also interpreted the "work 3 rows even" as including the even numbered rows, while I was toying with the idea of treating them as just odd numbered rows, i.e. work SIX rows total even. Again, it probably does not matter. What do YOU think?

In spite of the instruction frustrations, the BSJ is a fun knit. I am working this one plain, in one color, while I get the hang of just how the whole thing works. As I knit along, I envision doing many more, each with an embellishment or modification to make it different from the others and to make it my own. Which is probably just what EZ wanted us to do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I have had the urge to knit a sweater lately. I pulled out the instructions for the Dollar and a Half sweater from Interweave and the denim yarn I planned to use, but in a fit of sanity, I actually read the directions, PLUS read the inside of the ball band of the yarn, and decided that, yes, I want to knit a sweater, but not one that requires this much work.

So I switched gears and - don't laugh - started a Baby Surprise Jacket. Using Lion Brand Micropun, the splittiest yarn on the planet, a yarn that does not withstand frogging, no, not one little bit. Once knit, there is no going back except tink by tink.

In a second fit of sanity, I read the BSJ directions and discovered that the "surprise" in the BSJ pattern is, while EZ may be the queen of knitting, she is NOT the queen of pattern writing. I love her designs, but hate, hate, HATE her instructions, or the lack thereof.

But this is a really popular pattern and the sweater construction is intriguing and surely if I just knit, the directions will become clear. Right?

Eight rows into the pattern, and I'm feeling insecure. The decreases I get, but where to I put the increases? And on what row? And how do I know I am doing it right?

Internet to the rescue. Sort of.

One resource removed her BSJ notes (boo) because Meg & Cully Swanson have published a line-by-line version that includes the baby, child, and adult patterns (yay) but it's $10 (boo). I already paid for the pattern I have, which apparently is the Cliff Notes version, and now "they" expect me to fork over more money for the unabridged edition? Very annoying. Very Scott Adams-ish. It's like charging for errata or a KAL.

Fortunately, I found some help with the increases/decreases here. The math did not work for me, but I did get past the first hurdle. And there is more help here.

Hopefully I will continue to find still more help online should I need it. But it seems to me that, if a pattern is written in less than clear language, it is up for grabs on the information highway.

What is really ironic is one of EZ's books is titled Knitting without Tears - HAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One down, twelve to go

Even though I did not watch much football today (saw Peyton throw an interception - it is going to be a long season), I did finish the Tribbles.

Pattern: The Tribble, found here
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton
Needles: US6 or US7 (I forget which and I already put them away)
Modifications: None

I also prepped the yarn so I can redo the Hedgerow socks. In this case, that meant completely ripping out the socks, then soaking the yarn to get the kinks out. I really like the pattern and the yarn, so I'm determined to simply reknit them without making any modifications to the pattern this time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ready, set, go!

Football season started last night. I contemplated waiting until Sunday to start on my UFOs, but since I had a pinched nerve in my hip, sitting on a heating pad while knitting seemed like a really good idea. I finished the knitting of the Tribbles, and now just need to perform the final assembly. That would have occurred last night, but I had to abandon the game at halftime because it was bedtime.

The toe-up socks (which a co-worker dubbed the "meatball socks" because the balls of yarn look like meatballs) took a little time-out recently, which is how another pair of socks found their way onto some needles. But the toe-ups are back in action, feet done and one heel ready to be turned.

The only other news is I bought a couple of knitting books:


They are nice references to have around, in case I get the urge to knit without a pattern.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mr. Manly models the entrelac scarf

On one vacation, my SO and I checked out a local "bargain barn" which is where I found this mannequin. I bought him as a prop for My Daughter the Photographer. She finally tired of him, so he has returned to me.

Pattern: Entrelac scarf by Freckles and Purls
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, colorway 184
Needles: US7
Modifications: none

This is a good pattern for learning entrelac, and the yarn does the color-changing for you. My knitting didn't seem to match the pattern on the "Final Tier Triangles" section, but otherwise I had no difficulties except those self-inflicted.

The pattern calls for Silk Garden, and the Kureyon is a bit stiff and bulky, but with a little use, I think it will be okay. Said daughter has already claimed the scarf. I guess that's a good trade for Mr. Manly.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The ugly truth

While unearthing all those long neglected projects, I found myself categorizing them according to their status and what further needs to be done.

UFO = Unfinished Object, long abandoned

DoOver = Project that I considered finished at one time but now see that something needs to be corrected or added or redone

Tribbles - find instructions so I can finish these - UFO

February Lady Sweater - sew on buttons - UFO

Minimalist Cardigan - sew pieces together - UFO

Denim Fat Bottom Bag - add lining - DoOver

Chocolate Fat Button Bag - finish crocheting, line, add handles - UFO

Vintage bag - seam, line, add handles - UFO

Baby Hoodie - seam, add button - UFO

One skein baby sweater - seam, add button - UFO

Twined mitts - finish knitting - UFO

Red, red, red sweater - change to V-neck - DoOver

Sunray shawl - reblock to form points (rays) - DoOver

Sitcom Chic - add buttons - DoOver

Hedgerow socks - completely reknit - DoOver

Apparently, I am allergic to buttons, linings, and seams.

There are 13 projects here and 17 weeks in the regular NFL season, so even if I miss a few games, my goal is still very attainable, except for the twined mitts and Hedgerow socks - those may take a while. Or I could double (even triple) up some of those really easy ones, and extend the whole effort into the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Then I would have no excuses left at all.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mittened out

After weaving in a bazillion ends, the Mittnz are done!

Yarn: Plymouth Encore in primary colors
Needles: US5

For patterns, the infant ones are based on this pattern, the next size up are based on this pattern, and the biggest are based on this pattern. I made slight modifications to each pattern, and while the infant ones were the easiest and fastest to knit (small! no thumbs!), my favorite pattern was the one for the middle sized mittens.

Now all I need to do is get them in the mail the last week of this month. I think I can do that.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Are your ready for some football? And mixed metaphors?

When I first returned to knitting, after a 25+ year hiatus, I struggled. I don't remember how I learned to knit - probably self-taught from a book - but I have a dishcloth and a sweater (talk about extremes!) to prove that knit I did. So why was it so difficult? I actually laid awake at night, fretting about my knitting and how imperfect it was. Intellectually, I knew the two rules of knitting: There are no knitting police and It is only knitting. But my ego was bruised and bleeding.

And then a co-worker talked me into taking a class on knitting the swallowtail shawl. O.M.G. Talk about hard. In class, I whined. At home, I cried. But my competitive nature rose to the challenge, because, by god, I was NOT going to be the only one not to finish. Not only did I complete the bind off by the end of the last class, I was the only one in the class to do so. But then, I did not use the recommended Kidsilk Haze. Thank god.

And after that class, a funny thing happened. Suddenly, the rest of my knitting became a breeze, easy as pie, a piece of cake. a walk in the proverbial park. I still slavishly followed patterns and fretted a bit here and there, but I had made it over Beginner's Hump. I proudly proclaimed, We are a knitter!

And then I grew a little bored and started trying new things, bigger things, fancier things. Sometimes I kick butt and sometimes I get my butt kicked. And sometimes I retreat to stockinette and garter for a respite. But I feel myself reaching a new level of knitting, one where I'm less interested in following directions and using the recommended yarn to create exactly what the pattern pictures show, and more interested in trying this and trying that and forging ahead and seeing how things turn out and at the same time, being detached from the outcome. At least, some of the time.

The good thing about all this is I feel ready to face that pile of UFOs. Most of them are there because I hit a snag in their progress, reached a step that required something called THINKING, took a peek into the abyss of my knitting (and sometimes sewing) ignorance. There was something that needed to be overcome in order to continue. Now it is time to man up and finish off those ghosts of projects past.

So (here is where football comes in) this fall will be open season on UFOs. My plan is to spend Sundays watching football and finishing UFOs, hopefully one per week. And to reward myself, when a project is completed, I get to spin! (I miss spinning.)

Next up: A brutal inventory of those UFOs.

(Bonus question: When does a WIP become a UFO?)