Monday, March 31, 2008

I Can't Knit

There is a mistake in the socks I am currently knitting, about 10 rounds back.

Kid Silk Haze is not for middle-aged eyes. Except in direct sunlight, I can't see what I am doing, much less how to correct something I should not have done.

And I tried playing around with the Sea Silk, experimenting with different patterns, but nothing seems to work.

At least this dishcloth turned out okay. The pattern is called "Chinese waves" and may be found here.

As large and open as the last one turned out, this one is small and dense.

Despite the frustrations listed above, I am itching to start on something BIG. On Saturday I saw a woman wearing a pinwheel sweater sans sleeves (which makes it a vest, I guess), and I have the yarn for one myself, but it doesn't seem very springlike. But then the weather is not very springlike, either. Maybe if I start something warm and cozy, the weather gods will shake things up a bit, just to spite me.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Black Swamp Spinner's Guild Market Day

When we stepped into the building at the fairgrounds in Bowling Green, OH, I was nearly overcome by wool fumes. Or so I thought. Later on I realized that wooly-headed feeling was actually from the handmade scented soap near the door. That did not detract from my excitement, though. Yarn! I barely knew where to start.

I meant to do some homework beforehand and find patterns from my pattern stash that are in need of yarn, but neglected to do so. That left me reluctant to pick out a sweater's worth of skeins. But sock yarn doesn't count as stash enhancement, does it? I found some semi-solids and could not make up my mind over which color, so I bought all three that were whispering my name.

These were at a bargain price because they are the first attempts at hand-dyeing of the woman whose name I neglected to get. She is planning to offer them online, though, so keep an eye out for

When I go to fiber fests, I like to buy something unusual, so I picked up this skein of Sea Silk by Hand Maiden.

It's 70% silk, 30% Seacell. Seacell is developed by Smartfiber and they make a lot of claims about this fiber, including that it will enhance one's feeling of well-being. We'll see about that! The yarn came with a scarf pattern, and it will look great with a deep purple summer shift of mine.

Other items I picked up:

I can't seem to locate my little pair of Fiskars, so I bought these from a vendor selling re-enactment do-dads. (I can't find the sheet listing the vendors - sorry!)

Wooden buttons from the same vendor.

Pewter buttons from the same vendor. I'm starting a button collection.

There was also a lot of roving and homespun and spindles and dyes and pattern books, etc. I fought off the temptation to invest in some spinning supplies because, although we watched the demos, I just don't quite get how it works. I think there is a spinning guild here too, so I will have to try to hook up with them so someone can teach me one-on-one. Besides, with summer coming (yes, it is - really!) I'm a little hesitant about taking on one more activity.

While we were in Bowling Green, we decided to check out the LYS's but it was not to be. Both the Loving Traditions Yarn Shoppe and Kathy's Quality Yarns are no longer in business. I had found these two stores through Google and one is still listed at KnitMap, so I guess the lesson learned here is to call ahead. Not that we begrudged seeing downtown Bowling Green - it looks like a lovely town - but we might have made other plans if we had known.

Knowing I would be gone most of the day today, I took yesterday off to do my usual Saturday chores. But now I can't shake the feeling I should be going to work tomorrow. Time to chill with some knitting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Few Random Things

While having the oil changed in my car, I was knitting (of course) on socks for the son-in-law. And still having second thoughts about my color choice.

I was going to ask the man sitting next to me if he would wear such green socks, but I noticed he was not wearing any socks. He looked like a snow bird who flew north a bit too soon.

One thing I will miss when the temperatures finally heat up (and they will, won't they?) is wearing my handknits. Not only do I wear my handknits, I display them in my cubicle, draping the scarf-of-the-day around my coat and laying out the mitts and hat next to the monitor. Maybe I need to work on some summer knits.

This Saturday my SO and I are going to take a road trip to Bowling Green, OH, to check out the Black Swamp Spinner's Guild Market Day. I was originally thinking I might find some nice homespun there, but later it occurred to me that the target audience will be spinners. I may be bringing home some rove and a spindle!

Whenever I travel out of town, I look up likely yarn stores to visit. While doing that today for the trip to Bowling Green, I found this site. It's a mapping tool for yarn stores. It looks like anyone with minimal info about a store can enter data. I had never heard of this site before. Have you? The two LYS's closest to me are not in it yet. Are yours?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Once Again...

... I have picked up the lace top from Glamour Knits that I promised my daughter so long ago. The problem is that Rowan Kidsilk Haze. Well, that and my knitting skills. This time, instead of the body, I started on a sleeve.

This strategy has several advantages: 1) fewer stitches, 2) the sleeve is in ribbing instead of lace, which gives me a chance to reacquaint myself with the yarn, and 3) if I do the sleeves first, the whole thing is more likely to get finished.

I'm not sure what to do with what I have knitted so far on the body, which isn't much but Kidsilk Haze is nearly impossible to frog. The stitches are 'way too tight, though, so once the sleeves are done, I will restart the body once again. I think this will be the third time, so hopefully it will be the charm.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Think Spring!

Yesterday I stopped at Knitting Off Broadway to buy some sock yarn, and were they happy to see me! Apparently, Easter Saturday is not a busy day at yarn stores. The woman who taught me to knit socks was there, so we chatted a bit, and I received a lot of help picking out yarn. It was a little overwhelming, in fact. I wanted "manly" sock yarn, but everything they suggested, while beautiful, looked so sober and dull. I wound up selecting this Opal, just because it shouted "Spring!"

It's one of their Rainforest colorways, and it is called "Veronica die Wilde." Last night, I cast on and under the Ott light, the colors looked a bit fluorescent, and I was having second thoughts about my selection. But this morning, in the light of day, they looked much calmer, shades of green from lime to forest, plus gray.

Meanwhile, I finished the Blue Lagoon baby blanket.

When I rediscovered knitting a couple of years ago, I went overboard ordering yarn from Lion Brand, and bought enough to do three of these blankets, in three different color combinations. The first one was Sweet Cherries, and this is the second; one more to go and that yarn will have served its purpose. While the blankets are cushy and soft and colorful, they are also acrylic, which means they are machine washable but also not flame retardant. Wool, on the other hand, is naturally flame retardant, so I am starting to switch to that for baby blankets (superwash, of course). But waste not, want not - by God, I am going to use up that Microspun one way or another!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't They Shrink?

At work I attended a general meeting about retirement benefits (wishful thinking on my part) and took along some knitting. On our way out, a (female) co-worker asked what I was working on and I said a dishcloth. To which a (male) co-worker said, "A dishcloth?!? Don't they shrink?"

Well, no, do your towels shrink? He wasn't sure, but he did know that he had never heard of knitting dishcloths.

  • Pattern from 2007 A Pattern A Day Calendar, June 25, "Lickety Split Cloths and Towels" FYI - The instructions for the items in this pattern are a little vague and general.
  • Yarn: Lion Cotton "Sagebrush" - I stopped when I had used half the skein, which is why the dishcloth is a bit rectangular
  • Needles: I use US5 for worsted weight cotton because the yarn is so inelastic; I cast on with US7, then switch to the US5 and knit loosely.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Look, Ma! No Wires!

Finally. Finally, my laptop and I are wireless, and all it cost me was a homemade pot roast dinner. Last night my son-in-law found the magic key that unlocks the door between my router and modem and the Internet. Now I can actually hold my laptop in my lap while I blog. I would give him my first born, but he already has my second born. Maybe I should knit him a pair of socks that actually fit.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Know What You Can Make Me

Have you ever heard that phrase from a loved one? My SO delivered it last week. I have already told him that sweaters are out (the boy friend sweater curse, you know), but I was a little leery just the same. Turned out all he wanted was a cover for his camera lens. At first, I pooh-poohed the idea, thinking that wool would make things quite linty. He has been using the eyeglass case I knit him, though, and that is made from bamboo, which is virtually lint-free. So I said ok.

I was afraid it was going to end up looking like a short, stout condom, but it looks more like a thumbless mitten. I used the same US2 needles and cast on the same number of stitches as I did for the eyeglass case, but the colors pooled much differently.

The stitch count is even the same. Chalk it up to my erratic knitting, I guess.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Gift Drawer

Do you always knit for someone? Or do you sometimes knit with no specific recipient in mind? I do both, and the latter projects go into my gift drawer. Most of the gifts-in-waiting are baby items - bibs, burp rags, blankets, kimonos - to have on hand should the need arise for a little something for parents- or grandparents-to-be. There are a few "grown-up" things there as well.

A while back, I knit this neck warmer and these arm warmers. Last week they each left the gift drawer for new homes. The neck warmer went to the neighbor across the street who repeatedly cleared my driveway this winter. The arm warmers I gave to a young woman who was canvassing the neighborhood; she absentmindedly forgot that, once the sun went down, it would get cold (ah, to be 18 again!)

I guess we always knit for someone. Sometimes who is a surprise.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Do you have a Required Daily Amount when it comes to knitting? I find that, if I knit less than three hours a day, my fingers get itchy and I need a mini-marathon of stitchery to get over it.

The second best cure to a lack of knitting is a yarn purchase. I took my 40%-off-one-item coupon to Joann's Friday and bought a big spool of crochet thread. I wanted enough to play with unhindered while I learn the (literally) finer art of filet crochet, aka thread crochet. It's more than a little frustrating and hand-cramping, and I'm not sure whether it will become a new needle art in my heart, but it's always fun to try something new.

Meanwhile, the Jaywalkers are finally finished.

I don't know why I had so much trouble with this pair. I have made the pattern before, in the same yarn. The only difference is I made these larger, per the pattern instructions. I am glad to be done with them. I am also glad to have them on my feet this chilly morning.

Pattern may be found here. Yarn is Austermann Step (mit Aloe Vera und Jojoba). Needle size is US1.

In other knitting, the blob of powder puff pink is growing bigger. I seem to have plenty of yarn, so I am increasing the size of the shawl by two 10-row repeats. And I have been hacking away at the Blue Lagoon baby blanket. I would have pix but right now I am lacking AA's for my camera. I think it is time to switch to rechargeable batteries.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar

I like shopping for yarn, online or in stores, but each have their pluses and shortcomings. Online you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for, in the colors you want, in the quantity you need, but the colors may not be accurately rendered on your monitor or the yarn may not live up to your expectations. Conversely, at your LYS you can see the yarn in daylight, feel it, sniff it, rub it against your cheek, but the variety and quantity may come up short.

If you are buying a single skein of hand-dyed superwash for a pair of socks, a lot of these differences disappear. Or if you like surprises, you may not care. But if you are looking for sweater quantities in certain colors, well, good luck.

I purchased some yarn from Elann recently, enough for the pinwheel sweater and the sun ray shawl. Being color challenged, I decided to go with the colors on the model for the pinwheel sweater except I didn't like the looks of the grape heather, so I substituted garnet. The switch looked okay on my monitor but not so much in real life. In fact, my color consultant (daughter) suggested I should stick with the original.

Likewise, yellows make me look jaundiced, so I substituted dusty rose for the shawl, but in real life the pink looks kind of flesh-colored. Sometimes colors knit up better than they look on the skein, so I think I will stick with my choice... for now.

I don't blame Elann for my color choices. After all, I have purchased yarn in an LYS, knitted it up, and only later realized that it is not the colors I thought. But this is an example of why we need both online sources and LYS's.

That's not the end of my whining, though. There is good news and bad news about the Jaywalker socks. For one thing, my daughter eyeballed them and declared them too big for the son-in-law (this is bad news for him but good news for me because now they are mine!)

But I ran out of yarn. I knit them in the larger size, which requires more stitches around but (surprisingly) fewer rows. As they are now, the toes are way too big, so I am going to rip them back far enough to decrease the toes and give me enough yarn to finish them properly.

A little more whining: I decided to pick up the lovely powder puff pink shawl I started a while back and make some progress. The problem is I can't count, which means I have to count more, over and over, while I figure out where I went wrong. This is very frustrating.

Right now, the shawl looks like most lace projects, a little blob of yarn. But it's a pretty blob of yarn, and I am getting better at counting.

Needing something simple to work on, I knitted up this neck warmer yesterday.

I found the pattern here - not that a neck warmer really needs a pattern but I was uncertain of how many stitches to cast on, plus this pattern provides a nice staggered ribbing. I used a 50g skein of Nashua Handknits "Snowbird," a wool-alpaca blend, on US8 needles but I ran out of yarn after about 5 inches. This seemed plenty big, though, unless you like your neck warmers scrunchy. Very quick to knit and you have to count to only 3. (Note: Use a sewn cast-off or something equally stretchy.)

And we enjoyed a little sunshine this weekend.

Time to start making preps for spring. Really!