Sunday, December 23, 2007

History and local color

I saw a Shetland shawl this week! A real Shetland shawl, made on the islands and brought back by a friend of a friend. It was light and warm and soft - too bad the owner had it covered in cat hair. I know one thing though - I must make one of these! I don't even know what the yarn was, but I'm sure somebody somewhere has written a tome about the shawls.

In other fiber news - Lakeside Fibers in Madison, WI is a gorgeous store. They have one of the best color and brand selections I've ever seen, and the view (they have a huge window overlooking a lake) is gorgeous.

I'm visiting relatives in "the frozen north" and boy am I glad for all the wool thingies we brought! It's been snowing heavily here, and the temperatures are scary.

We are also enjoying learning about quilts (an aunt and uncle are passionate quilters, with a quilt room and all of Kaffe Fassett's quilting books and lots of knowledge), old doilies, older blankets and the rich fiber history of the "frozen north". There was also an article in the local newspaper about a local nun who's made thousands of bears for the Mother Bear project. The story about the bears inspired me - maybe I should make some as well.

No pics in this post, but I'm making great progress on a pair of socks from Black Bunny yarn. I'll try to take a picture tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Just in time for the holidays and the trip to the frozen north:

Pattern: Double Bordered Scarf with Diamond borders adapted from Weldon's 1904 from Victorian Lace Today (long and inspiring name, I know)

Yarn: Hunt Valley 2-ply cashmere, 2oz, ~400 yards, purchased at Maryland Sheep & Wool

Needles: size 4, I believe

Comments: I think this yarn weighed more than 2oz, and the scarf turned out much longer than I imagines. This is a great pattern for random quantities of yarn, because you can simply knit until you run out; most of the double-bordered scarves in VLT require some more planning. The pattern is also very easy. As for the cashmere... what can I say, I am in love. I love the subtlety of the color - it has a pearly sheen uncaptured in these photos; I knew I should taken the photographs while there was still some natural sunlight!

Did I say "the frozen north"? Yes, indeed. I will be away for the next two weeks, visiting family and friends in the snow-covered frozen tundra of the north. I had a very hard time deciding what knitting to pack, and after days of deliberation I decided that Venezia will have to stay home. I'm making good progress, but I cannot take it on the plane (stupid pointy metal needles) and I would be heartbroken if my luggage got lost with the sweater in it! Instead, I cast on for a pair of socks, and I might take this sampler shawl along as well:

This is the mighty shawl worthy of the Welsh wool. I've wanted to try a shawl worked from the long edge, and once you get past the line "cast on 400 stitches" the pattern is great. The long rows are perfect for mindless TV knitting! I also knew I needed a sampler shawl, because I want to use every last yard of the wool. It's a very sticky wool, which also makes it perfect for TV knitting - dropped stitches do not run; then even keep their shape! Oh, the pattern is from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. I'm appreciating her patterns and style more and more every day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do not disturb: blocking in progress

As I watched Anna's beautiful Hemlock Blanket being finished, the task of blocking my own blanket loomed on the horizon. I don't have quilter's T-pins, I don't have a blocking board. What I do have is a big dog that loves to sniff yarn - unfortunately, I have no idea how to use his talents for blocking purposes.

I finally bit the bullet, took out my pathetic box of push pins and the trusty old bedsheet, and got to work. Surprise:

The blanket is so heavy it doesn't even need to be pinned down. And it stretched to the advertised 4 feet diameter. I love Jared Flood. I need to make more Eco blankets.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mystery Stole 3 finished

The designer called this stole "Swan Lake". I call it "my ugly duckling" because despite all my previous blocking experience, I am still in awe of the transformation. From whatever mess I was showing you a few posts ago to this:

I wore it to the orchestra tonight, and I felt like the most glamorous woman there. (I usually do, but this time the feeling was even stronger...)

Pattern: Mystery Stole 3, aka Swan Lake from the wonderful, generous lady at Pink Lemon Twist

Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace, 2 skeins in natural (with about 1 yard leftover!) + beads! It's a wonderfully light and soft yarn; it doesn't hold blocking as severely as wool does, but I love the slight fuzz and the incredible drape. Also, the price is unbeatable: I believe the grand total for the yarn in this shawl came to $13.

Needles: size 4 bamboo circulars

Comments: beading slowed things down, but in the end it was worth it and I even added a few extra rows of beading at the end of the wing; I love hearing the beads click together when I walk. Not many modifications otherwise. I am not so keen on the very open fabric, but I think it has a nice ethereal quality.

I love this shawl so much that I'm reconsidering my relationship with lace: I need more! I cast on for another shawl immediately. Different pattern! I think I found the perfect match for the wild, wooly Wool Out of Wales!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blocking adventures

At the time this post was conceived, MS3 looked like this:

I am using my amazing cheap-ass "blocking wires" (read: steel wire from the hardware store), tied to all sorts of heavy objects: the two crates containing my stash, a paint can, a desk.. I am proud of the fact that my stash fits into those two crates - I'll try to keep it that way as long as possible.

There is another object awaiting blocking, except that I'm not sure blocking this one will be as easy as wires and paint can:

Yes, I know, it looks like ... nothing. I haven't blogged about it at all because it's nearly impossible, for me at least, to take decent photographs of a yarn this dark. Still, a dark yarn will be perfect for this project: Jared Flood's Hemlock Ring Blanket!

The Cascade Eco was just what I needed after that awful Louet Gems experience: a wooly yarn, full of fiber and goodness and natural smells. No superwash here, and I do think it's the superwash treatment that rendered the Louet so lifeless and boring. I think the Eco stands for both ecological and economical, because pure heavy-worsted wool doesn't get any better than this! I was debating on the color at the yarn store: (a) darker yarns are harder to photograph, (b) more difficult to work with and (c) might not show the pattern as spectacularly as lighter yarns. (a) was solved by not bothering to show photos of the object in progress; have I mentioned that the blanket is finished?! It just needs a good blocking - I'll get to that in a second. (b) wasn't much of an issue either: this was TV knitting, and color isn't a factor in a dark room. Finally, (c) is a minor annoyance; it's nothing compared to the major annoyance that would be washing a blanket a bazillion times. So "chocolate" it was, and I'm glad for it - it's really a nice, warm color to curl up under in the winter.

The only problem right now is the blocking... I don't really have a blocking board (unless you count the omnipresent fluorescent green bedsheet) and I'm afraid the wires-and-paintcan method might not work on such a thick project. Moreover, this blanket really needs to be stretched; "severe blocking" I believe is the right term. Suggestions?

Edited to add: I've just returned from a fun evening out, I unpinned the shawl and I almost cried. After all my bitching and complaining and disliking the object in progress, this turned out to be the most beautiful thing I've ever made.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mystery almost revealed

As Sunflowerfairy was frogging her mystery shawl, I was repeating the one more row, you can do this, one more row mantra, trying to finish my shawl. I did feel cheated when the rows started getting longer and longer, and I know there are more beautiful versions out there. Nevertheless, I wanted to finish this, if only because frogging it would have made a mess of beads in my house. And, as EZ famously said, "it will fit somebody".

Having just bound off the shawl, I have no amazing pictures to show you yet. I am however, glad I finished the shawl when I did, because this is how much yarn I have left over:

Less than 2 yards.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More ferny goodness

Some people get up on Black Friday to sit in the cold night, hoping to buy some cheap junk, as if we don't all have enough junk already. I will never be one of those people. I got up with the gorgeous morning sun streaming through the (unwashed) windows, read the news, drank a cup of coffee, then finished this:

(picture of hat)

Pattern: Ganomy Hat by EZ, in The Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Opal Gems Sport, color fern, leftovers from J's socks
Needles: bamboo DPNs and metal circular size 2 1/2 (why not?)
Comments: Had to adjust the pattern to match the gauge in sport weight; very easy to do. It's such a quick and satisfying pattern I didn't even have time to show you "in progress" pictures.

I still hate this yarn. I was hoping I'd run out for the hat, so I wouldn't have any leftovers, but there is still a small ball of fern-green yarn. Maybe I'll throw it away or something. It's such a lifeless, inelastic yarn. Sure it's shiny and somewhat soft, but it just doesn't do anything for me. Booooring.

This brings the total of works in progress to 3! Gauss would have been so proud of me for being industrious, orderly and whatever else. Remember this:

I picked it up earlier this week, and since I'm on clue 7 I will probably finish it soon. I don't know how I feel about this shawl, but it will be warm, it will be finished, and there are times when that should be enough.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The reason for not blogging...

.. is knitting, believe it or not. I've been trying to finish a pair of socks for J's birthday, so every knitting moment has been dedicated to actually knitting. The socks are the Diagonal Cross-Rib socks from Favorite Socks, and they are much further along than this picture indicates:

In fact, the socks are almost done. Which is good, because 1) I am very sick of them, and 2) the birthday is on Monday. I'll post the full project details on Monday, plus the lessons learned (I don't like Louet Gems, and I'm never knitting on a deadline again).

I will end this short post with a nugget of priceless wisdom: the body of a sweater is much wider than the sleeves:

On the bright side, having knit the sleeves makes knitting the body much faster: I've memorized entire rows of the pattern!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Busy, busy times

I got a just a tiny bit of knitting done this weekend; a few rows on the cashmere lace scarf, not even worth a picture. On the other hand, I did get a lot of politics done. If only I'd been born in the US, I could have made a great president some day...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Buxom Babe knits

With the much-expected arrival of Fall weather, J is appreciating his hand-knit socks more and more. I even got a request for more socks! Since the Kaffe Fassett socks didn't fit him, I rushed to finish them so I could start a pair for him:

Pattern: Plain socks with twisted rib and short row heel (see below)

Yarn: Kaffe Fassett for Regia, colorway Storm

Needles: bamboo size 1s, my favorite needles of all times

Comments: I didn't think I'd enjoy knitting stockinette socks, but this yarn made the process very enjoyable. The base yarn feels fabulous; it's silky but strong, and looks like it will last forever. And the colors are so pretty! K.F. is a genius.

I made these socks without a pattern, because after a while who needs a pattern? Started on 60 stitches (cast on using knitted method, the most elastic method, in my opinion). Work 12 rows of P1, K1tbl the stockinette for a while. Short row heel; again, completely made up; I have no idea how it relates to the short row heel found in books. The wrapping was definitely not as fancy as Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' wrapping, but the heel turned out allright. It's surprisingly flexible:

Finally, I drew the last 8 stitches of the toe into a "rosebud", thus avoiding the annoying Kitchener stitch. I much prefer the rosebud for socks.

I also finished the knitting on the Voyager Stole; J likes the unblocked version very much:

As I am a little more picky, I will wash and block the stole. Pictures to follow! Until then, here's how much yarn I had left from the four balls I used:

Yes, there is no picture. I had maybe one inch of yarn left. Phew!

As for the title, it has nothing to do with knitting. I just had to share the story: on my latest lingerie shopping trip, I had a difficult time finding a bra that would fit properly. I had a fitting and... I really should wear one cup bigger than what I was wearing before! I doubt my breasts grew, but I still felt like a movie star walking around the next day with a new, pretty bra in the new bigger size under my sweater.

I was reading somewhere that the majority of women might be wearing the wrong size bra. The most common mistake seems to be too large a band size and too small a cup size. So ladies, go and get yourself a proper bra fitting - you will fabulous wearing the right size bra!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Winter? what winter?

With the record temperatures here (short sleeves in October? WTF), it doesn't seem like winter will ever come back. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that it does get dark earlier and earlier. Princess of Pink has some great suggestions for preventing SAD:

Check it out. How do you deal with lack of sunshine in the winter months?

Monday, October 15, 2007

From the knitting machine

So much for Venezia providing two years' worth of knitting entertainment:

Less than three weeks for the first sleeve. This will be done by Christmas. And what will I do then?

I will probably walk around the cold city, looking for more exciting yarn and wearing this:

Pattern: Notre Dame de Grace by Veronik Avery, IK Spring '07
Yarn: Cestari Superfine Merino, color blush, a little over 4 skeins
Needles: Crystal Palace size 8 bamboo circulars
Comments: where to start, where to start... Well, I wanted to knit the sweater because of the interesting collar construction. Therefore, I knit the sleeves first (no way I'd knit two sleeves after finishing the interesting part of the pattern!). I probably knit a total of 4 sleeves: once I was trying to use size 7 needles - fabric was too dense, so I switched to size 8. Then I messed up the increases. Then I knit the two "correct" sleeves.

The collar is indeed interesting, and takes a bit of finishing work. I think there is an omission in the pattern: you are instructed to put the stitches at the middle of the back neck on a holder, but you are never instructed to pick them up or do anything with them! I decided to incorporate them in the collar (in the last few rows of the collar, knit one of the back neck stitches with the last stitch of the collar row). Seaming was a pain, and there are a few extra ends to be woven in because of the smart collar.

The "a little over 4 skeins" also proved to be a major pain, since I'd only bought 4 skeins at MD S&W. Normally this wouldn't be a problem; however, when the producer is a small farm in Virginia, it turns into a bigger and more expensive problem. That last skein cost me $22 with shipping, almost as much as the other 4 skeins (which were 50% off). Moral of the story: buy a little extra! I know I've said this before, but maybe if I repeat it enough times I'll actually obey.

I think I like the finished sweater. The sleeves are a little wonky, but they might settle as the yarn softens (it's soft now, and will bloom some, I'm sure). The collar is beautiful. I'm not sure about the rest of the sweater. Why did I choose pink? Oh wait, it was better than all the other colors in the "mega sale" bin. It was a fine knit, really - and I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tangled Yoke

Pattern: Tangled Yoke by Eunny Jang, IK Fall '07

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, a little over 5 skeins (gotta love the yardage and price of this yarn)

Needles: size 4 and 5 circulars

Comments: where to start? The instructions are very precise as always, and almost foolproof. The infinite cable technique is nice and not too difficult. I knitted the sleeves flat, since I tend to get ugly ladders when I knit with thicker yarns on DPNs. Picking up stitches for the button bands was a pain, but doable; I divided the fronts into eights, I think, then picked up the right number of stitches in each section. Not my favorite thing in the world, but the result was worth it.

The most difficult part of this cardigan, for me, was attaching ribbon and seaming the buttons. Partly because I've never done this before on a knit piece, and knits stretch! It can be a challenge to sew on the ribbon without stretching the button band. Also, I wanted the cardigan to be fitted, and this means that the button bands gape if I button it completely. I could have made the next size up, but I wanted a fitted shirt; I could have modified the pattern, but I was too lazy. Whatever - it's a warm cardigan and I can wear it unbuttoned, I suppose.

I might have said this before, but the sole reason for making this was the appeal of that horizontal cable. It's a great pattern, and highly recommended. As for the Silky Wool, I can't say enough good things about it. It's cheap, it's beautiful, it doesn't have a single knot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Beret Basque

Finally, a finished project. No, it's not a sweater; both Tangled Yoke and Notre Dame are awaiting some finishing work. I hope to have them done this weekend. The chilly weather prompted me to finish the beret:

Pattern: Beret Basque by Veronik Avery, in "Knitting Classic Style"

Yarn: Elann Cash Soft in granite, virtually 1 ball (I had about 1 meter left at the end)

Needles: no-name size 3 circulars and bamboo size 3 dpns

Comments: this was a great one skein project. I didn't want to use all the cashmere for the Voyager Stole, and the beret was a perfect answer to that "problem". It's not a quick knit on such small needles, but it's cute. I wouldn't mind the edge being a little tighter, but it drapes nicely in this shape and texture. Pair this with the fact that grey is supposed to be Fall's hot color; how's that for anticipating Fall trends? This beret makes me feel like a movie star!

On a side note, I am also wearing the Swallowtail shawl in the picture above, and the shirt is also a cashmere shirt. I was dressed very warmly and luxuriously that day...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

How to save money in the future

Decide that a yarn store that is not dog friendly shouldn't get my business any more. Seriously, my dog is a fluffy "stuffed bear". Children follow him down the street to pet him. He takes orders from 2-year olds. He doesn't even shed. People who are alergic to dogs are generally not alergic to him. So why isn't he allowed into the store?

This should cut down on spending.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A day's work on Venezia:

I didn't do much else on Sunday, though... The pattern is a lot of fun, once you get past the first few natural mistakes. I even made mistakes I don't normally make, like dropping stitches (in the single color part, fortunately). And there is the magic of fair isle, with its instant gratification qualities: you can actually see progress, even if it's just a few rows!

One of the "perks" of growing up in a Communist country is that you learn to do everything by hand quickly and efficiently. I can sew buttons on all sorts of fabrics, and I can sew clothes. I can put in zippers, including in pants (fun stuff, let me tell you). I can make mayo by hand and peel potatoes without a peeler, and if you ask me children would be much better off helping in the kitchen instead of watching TV or playing computer games all the time. I can darn socks, and I've actually darned socks a long time ago. These days I have perhaps more money and less free time, but the old darning skills still come in handy:

When you kitchener stitch together the arm openings for Tangled Yoke, you get two little holes. It is easy to sew them shut, but you do need to be careful not to pull on the existing fabric because you will end up with holes somewhere else!

The cardigan is currently taking a warm bath, because the knitting and the finishing are both done. I haven't had time to buy buttons this week, but I can already tell this will be a gorgeous piece.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


How knitting is saving me money: I have become a fiber snob. Whenever I see a cute sweater / coat / anything in a store, I now check the label very carefully. I then sneer at the large percentage of acrylic / polyester / plastic and put the item back on the shelf, shaking my head at the ignorance of the world. Exceptions: new clothes made from good quality natural fibers (which I cannot afford) and clothes from the local second hand store (which are usually cheap AND made from good quality fibers, e.g. a $5 pure cashmere sweater).

How knitting is not saving me money: I spent $80 on yarn for Venezia and bought at least $50 worth of new needles for the project (silly small needles! stupid half sizes!). I'll spend a lot of time on this project, and my time can be worth a bit (bless the rich Ivy league students who need tutoring!). On the other hand, Old Navy has recently launched a "fair isle" collection; sweaters cost $20 on sale. Now granted, they are not Venezia, and the "fair isle" is quite minimal, but nevertheless. They shouldn't call it "fair isle".

Too lazy to take pictures today. I am one bind-off row away from finishing the knitting on Tangled Yoke. There will be quite a bit of finishing work to do, all the hanging yarn ends plus buttons and all, but I am quite pleased with the result. Trying on the cardigan after binding off the neck band was a very exciting moment.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's here!!!

The blue and green sheep of Shetland have been kind enough to send me a few skeins of yarn:

After more than three and a half months of waiting, I finally have the Jamieson's yarn. Let Venezia begin!*

* not before finishing something else, I swear. Did you see how many projects I have on the needles? It's a disgrace.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I know, I know, the silences are getting longer and longer. Two weeks without posting. Between a leadership retreat, three career fairs and lots of meetings, there just wasn't much time for posting. I'd post more, but how exciting is a post without pictures? It's taking and uploading the photos that requires planning - I really need daylight to take good photos, and therefore I need to be home while it's still light outside!

Too busy to post, but not too busy to knit. I finished the Kaffe Fassett sock during the retreat. I might wait a bit to start the second one, since I have plenty of other things I'd rather do first:

The Basque Beret from Veronik Avery's new book Knitting Classic Style. I am in love with this book, and the beret will go perfectly with the Voyager Stole! I'd been looking for something to do with the extra yarn, because such a lovely cashmere-wool blend should be used to the last yard. No, I haven't finished the Voyager Stole yet; I will make the beret, and then use all the yarn that's left in the Stole.

The pattern is great, and not too complicated. I love the beginning band detail: it is stretchy and seamless but has just enough structure to keep the shape of the edge of the beret.

Finally, I've been zooming through the Tangled Yoke cardigan. I can't remember why I cast on for this project, maybe it's the addictive magic of Eunny Jang. In any case, I'm up to the "tangled" part, a few rows of a lovely infinite cable design. Almost finished, really:

Speaking of Eunny and her designs: I received a call from the LYS that the last two colors from the Venezia kit are currently going through customs. This means... I might actually have yarn for Venezia some day!! Unbelievable.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pictures, finally

It was about time, wasn't it? Here are some photos of the latest knitting, and a long-overdue photo of the red scarf for my mother

1. K.F. socks

On my latest trip to the yarn store (to check on that stupid Shetland yarn: do they have the lambs that will some day grow wool for my order??) I stumbled across Kaffe Fassett's sock yarn for Regia. The colors are so exuberant, so "Caribbean sea"-like, I just had to get some and cast on right away. Will make yummy socks, with the added advantage that I don't need a pattern: I'm making basic stockinette socks. The only twist is the ribbing: purl 2, knit 1 through the back loop. Looks cute. Depending on how big they turn out, they will become my socks or J's socks.

Notre Dame de Grace

I will indeed run out of yarn, so I'm waiting on the shipment from Cestari (crossing my fingers that they actually have the yarn in stock). Have no idea what the sweater will look like, but I didn't knit it for the looks - I knit it because I just had to try that smart construction of the collar. In any case, it will be a very warm sweater, and there's always room in the closet for a warm sweater.

Red scarf from VLT

The scarf has some cryptic name in Victorian Lace Today (scarf no. X with edging no. Y). It needs to be blocked. And then I need to ship it out, fast, before I decide that I'd rather keep it. Love the yarn.

Tangled Yoke cardigan

Everybody's doing it... and why not? It's a cute cardigan, goes quickly (lots of stockinette or garter stitch rib) and should be a very sexy finished object.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Breaking news!

I am saved. Notre Dame is saved. The Cestari site is up, online shopping is up (it's been down for weeks!) and I've just ordered another skein of SuperFine Merino in the color Blush - just what I need to finish the sweater.

This last skein will cost me $22 (skein + shipping) instead of the $8 it would have cost at Maryland Sheep and Wool. So ladies and gentlemen, please purchase enough yarn when planning for a project. In fact, please purchase one extra skein - it sucks to run out of yarn.

Back from vacation

Well, I am back from my trip to California. Mostly work-related, but I did get to do some sightseeing in San Francisco and some hiking in East Bay. Here's the knitterly update:

* my mom's scarf - got done so quickly I didn't even get to take "in progress" pictures. I'll block it some time soon and post those pictures.

* after planning for days and days what kind of knitting to take with me (what if it's too much? what if it's too little?) I had a perfect plan. It was going to be perfect. Unfortunately, I forgot most of the knitting at home! I only had Notre Dame de Grace with me, and only one skein of yarn. Fortunately, the trip was exciting enough that I didn't have much time for knitting. I finished the one skein during the flight back. I will definitely run out of yarn on this sweater, it's just a matter of "where" and "can I make it look like I planned it that way".

* the Arctic Diamonds stole did a superb job keeping me warm in airports, on planes, in chilly California evenings and in air-conditioned lecture halls.

* the pink scarf also did a great job keeping me warm in the evenings and elegant throughout. I might be known as "the scarf lady" in certain circles. Anyway, I felt very sophisticated in my lacy handknitted items.

* I was spending a few days in San Francisco, so I pulled some yarn store addresses and reviews from the web (knittersreview, to be more precise). Having a few key destinations is a fun way to explore a city, since you see so many interesting things along the way! "The yarn store hunt" took me to a sunny neighborhood park, to the top of an amazing hill, to a yuppie neighborhood and to the heart of the financial district. I was particularly impressed by Art Fibers: they custom-spin their own yarns, and they let you swatch these yarns in the store - they provide samples and needles and comfy armchairs. The lady working there was quite knowledgeable and never pressured me to buy stuff; great place. And did I mention the fabulous yarn? I got a couple of cones of deep red yarns in gorgeous fibers. I'm sure I'll figure out what to do with them.

Not all the stores were that amazing. At Noe Knit I was completely ignored: the staff didn't even say hello, despite the fact that I was the only customer in the store. Needless to say, I left fairly quickly. ImagiKnit had a great selection and some beautiful sock yarn; the staff was friendly and let me wander around for as long as I wanted. I spent so much time choosing stuff that I didn't buy anything in the end. I do understand though why it was such a popular place - the place had a great vibe.

And that was the trip. Back to regular knitting now, and hopefully regular posting.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ending and beginnings

I frogged the Austrian socks. I just couldn't make myself to love the twisted stitches. I am a loose knitter and these just looked tight and forced and unhappy. Plus, as I've already mentioned, the Louet Gems Sport is splitty. So... I'm swatching a lace project instead - I'll post about it at some point, if I decide to make it.

Now, for beginnings: what does the green marker stand for?

(picture here)

The green marker shows how much scarf you can get from one skein of Rowan Cashsoft 4-ply. I wanted to send a scarf / shawl to my mother this Fall, and I don't have anything practical enough and unfussy enough in my pile of shawls. Plus, you don't want to send as a gift something that needs extensive blocking and looks awful otherwise. Thus - the two skeins of Cashsoft, in a beautiful jewel-tone deep red. Have I mentioned how much I love red and pink tones? So far I am very, very pleased with the yarn. It is remarkably soft and buttery and should hold up allright in a scarf.

The scarf is the romantically-named "Scarf with edging 21 and insertion 25 from The Knitted Lace Pattern Book, Thompson Bros., Kilmarnock, Scotland 1850" from Victorian Lace Today. I did only three repeats for the border lace instead of 4 and narrowed the center panel pattern to fit those three repeats. Great pattern, easy to memorize and I'm already past the middle. I've wanted to try the wide-border scarf construction for some time, and this is the perfect opportunity.

Photo in the morning. It's been raining all day here, and the light is problematic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh my

I've broken my yarn diet. Duh, how long did I think it was going to last? Maybe I can make it "at most one purchase a month" - so August is done. Hopefully the yarn for Venezia will arrive in September, if it ever arrives. Are the sheep in Shetland still growing this yarn?

Anyway, who could resist Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool at $3.49 a hank?! I'll make the Tangled Yoke Cardigan from the latest IK, this yarn is perfect for cables and has enough structure to be interesting on the plain stockinette parts.

On a totally different note, we went hiking and camping this weekend. I wore some of my non-lacy handmade socks (Roza's socks! ancient storm striped socks! tiger stripe socks! wait, those were J's) while J wore some fancy hiking socks from EMS. Guess who got blisters. No, not me. I know this is not exactly a scientific experiment, so many things were different, but it makes me wonder. I think the handmade socks provide more cushion or something. I'll have to make more. I already have some ideas about working the leftover sock yarn into beautiful designs.

Finally, I finished the Arctic Diamonds stole. I did the last few rows this morning, I used EZ's cast-on cast-off for the ending, and then blocked it in the afternoon. I think I am quite pleased with the result; this one is coming to California with me.

Pattern: Arctic Diamonds Stole by Donna Druchunas, IK Winter '07

Yarn: KnitPicks Palette, Red, about 4.5 balls

Needles: size 3 circulars

Comments: I added a selvedge stitch on each side, and I think it make a difference. It was definitely worth knitting 6 repeats of the pattern, and I like the size of the finished product. Also, I am very much in love with Donna Druchunas' pattern style - I especially appreciate ktbl on the 2nd row above a YO, it makes a nice round opening in the pattern and I will definitely use this technique again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Noticing stuff

The first thing you notice when you start this pattern is that the instructions are wrong. "Work these stitches as an I-cord" does not produce the beautiful band at the top of the socks in the photo. Fortunately, there is a paragraph explaining the "Band Pattern" in a different section of the pattern - but it would be nice if the instructions mentioned this pattern.

The second thing you notice is that the fancy-schmansy Louet Gems yarn has a tendency to split. Not a good thing when you'll be manipulating and twisting stitches like crazy in these socks. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Austrian Socks from Interweave's Favorite Socks, with apologies for the blurry picture:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ute socks finished

What should I put on my feet on a hot, humid August day? Double-thickness socks, of course!

Pattern: Ute Socks by Nancy Bush, in Favorite Socks

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, in ash, scarlet, beet red and plumberry

Needles: steel 0 DPNs

Comments: Oh, how I hate steel needles. But I doubt they make size 0 bamboos that would last more than a day in my hands.

I am extremely pleased with how these socks turned out. I played a bit with the heel / toe colors, removed one pattern band from the leg (it was coming out too long) and made the patterns on the two socks mirror images of each other (very easy to do with such small patterns). The plumberry is an Ok substitute for the original color grape, but a little too dark.

The yarn was quite cheap but good to work with, if not the softest yarn around. It came from WooBee KnitShop, and I was very pleased with their selection, speed of shipping and care in packaging the order. I highly recommend them.

Friday, August 3, 2007


The Ute socks are done. I should weave in the ends, though, and block them before attempting a picture. Coming up this weekend!

Monday, July 30, 2007

In love

I am in love with the special issue of Vogue Knitting. Initially I bought the magazine because it was shiny and had interviews with big, big knitting legends. However, the patterns are also amazing! They are luxurious, extravagant, luscious... When I read IK, I think "this is so clever, I'd love to make that". When I read VK, I think "must have this, NOW!".

Case in point: the red lace pieces. Do I really need a cardigan with shawl fronts? Who cares, I love it! How about a deep red lace dress? Why not. I'll wear it around the house, just to feel glamorous.

I do have to admit, though, that modular knitting will always be fugly. Why, why, why would anyone want koigu pants? Seriously, why? Oh, I know: to use up all those puppy-poo colors (while I like some koigu colors, I do not like ALL their color combos).

On a different note, I am making good progress on the Arctic Lace shawl: I've just finished the 5th pattern repeat and am about to start the 6th (and last!! hurray!!) repeat. Given that it took me more than two months to make 2 pattern repeats, I am hoping that the shawl will be done by Thanksgiving.

Pictures? Why, it's just knitted lace - it doesn't look like anything until it's blocked.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Yarn diet rules!

Ahem. Yarn diets don't rule. I really mean to say "here are the rules for my yarn diet - to begin today!"

But wait, why do I need a yarn diet? My stash fits neatly into two milk crates (yes, the small kind). It's nothing compared to what other people have: if you are on ravelry, you can find people with more than 100 TYPES of yarn in their stash. It would get lost in the roomS containing the world's largest stash. So what's the problem?

The problem is two-fold: yarn takes money, quite a bit of money, especially if you like to work with nice yarn. Secondly, whenever I get new yarn, I am very tempted to cast on for a new project. Evidence:

Ordered on Monday, shipped on Tuesday, received on Thursday (I love elann's shipping speed and rates), cast-on on Friday. The Voyager Stole, done in the original Elann Special Edition Cash Tweed or whatever. Great pattern, great yarn, awesome picot cast-on / cast-off. The problem? I have two other stoles on the needles, plus another shawl just beginning (I haven't even blogged about this last one, in an effort to deny that I have started so many damn things lately!). I don't need yet another lacy stole to take away from the time of the other two.

I want to finish projects. I want to become reacquainted with the skeins hiding in those two milk crates. I know they are beautiful and they deserve to be made into beautiful things. And finally, I need to save more money, I really should. The local yarn stores have received my support for the year.

Rules: there's only one. No more yarn purchases until the end of the current calendar year. If I get really hardcore about this, we might say no yarn purchases until Maryland Sheep and Wool 2008. Includes knitting books, needles, notions, whatever.

Exceptions: running out of yarn for a project (hello, Notre Dame). Breaking a needle in the middle of a project. Winning the lottery or discovering rich aunt who makes me her sole heir. Yarn for Venezia (already ordered, but will take forever to arrive. It looks like they need to shear more sheep on the Shetland Islands, or perhaps wait for next year and raise some more lambs. Why is this yarn taking so long??).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A week like any other

Not much new to report from the knitting front. I am still working on Mystery Stole 3, I've reached the sole of the second Ute sock and I've restarted Notre Dame de Grace (this time on size 8 needles, which produce a more flexible fabric; I also have a plan for how to deal with running out of yarn early). The yarn for Venezia is taking forever to arive; did they have to shear more sheep over in Shetland to make my 10 skeins?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Socks and circles

For lack of better knitting content (it's almost too hot to hold yarn in my hands), I give you: the wrong side of an Ute sock.

I am extremely pleased with how this turned out, and with the fact that I can get away with carrying the yarn up a few rows, instead of breaking it and thus having to weave in a million more ends. Here is the precise area where the floats happen:

Not too shabby. I am working on the second sock now, and it really seems like color patterns move faster than other patterns.

I've also just finishes reading Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle and I have to confess that I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to. The premise - a knitting circle heals a woman's heart - seemed cheesy and contrived, but the book is well written and thoughtful and not all ends well. It's also a fast read. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

And so it begins

After waiting so anxiously for the first Mystery Stole clue to be posted on Friday morning, I took my time to finish the knitting of the first clue. Row 100 was done tonight, and here is a mediocre picture; the tiny glowing thingies are the beads I am using.

I think the light and the color of my bedsheet make the shawl look nicer, but I have to admit this will be a gorgeous design. Check out the edge:

The construction is also going to be very interesting. I am already very much in love. (which reminds me, must put in lifeline before I forget!)

I am also in love with lace these days. I realized that besides socks, I don't wear my knitted items that much - but I would like to wear more shawls when the weather is less sticky. There is also the issue of gauge, cost, beauty... Conclusion: I will focus on beautiful lace from now on. I've just bought a copy of "Best of Knitter's: Shawls and Scarves" or something like that - a collection of great lace shawls with great instructions for designing your own, as well as explanations and modern interpretations of traditional constructions. Together with "Victorian Lace", I think I have enough lace shawl patterns for the rest of my life!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I hate blocking

Enough said. On the other hand, I like having blocked lace pieces. One trip to the hardware store later (so much cheaper than buying "blocking wire" from fancy knitting stores), one evening of cursing later, we have this:

Various household items have been enlisted to help. A toolbox. A bookshelf. A dog water bowl.

... and they are all doing a great job. A can of paint. A crate filled with books.

I have to admit that the wire makes the whole process a lot faster and easier. Sure it's a pain to thread it through all the eyelets, but once you have it threaded it's a lot easier to make a straight edge!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Me so cool

I finished the spider web shawl. Or rather, finished making the spider web shawl. Blocking looks like such a pain, and I absolutely MUST get wires. There is no way I will stick a million pins to hold the edge of this thing.

The "thing" still looks like crumpled lace, so there's no reason to take new pictures. It does drape nicely, though, and will be a good size shawl. Not as big as the ones in the book, but huge shawls tend to be impractical.

I am also working away on the Ute socks, progressing at the amazing pace of 8 rows per evening. I am itching to start something easy and portable and mindless (hello Meida socks, why did I finish you so quickly? I'd start another pair if it wasn't so against my principles). Maybe toe-up socks for J? I have a skein of Colinette Jitterbug with his name on it.

Mystery Stole first clue will be posted on Friday. I can't wait. I think I've become addicted to lace.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Socks and shawl

I finished Meida's socks a few days ago, and finally found the time and the camera to post pictures:

Pattern: Meida's socks by Nancy Bush, in Favorite Socks

Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, blue and white, way under 2 skeins

Needles: my trusty #1 bamboo needles; I love the way they curve to the shape of my hands.

Comments: I am very pleased with the pattern and with the fit. The heel is pretty and looks sturdy, and the socks are quite cute. And I am very much in love with the bud toe.

The knitting on the spider web shawl is also completed. I was so excited to finish the last row, and then I looked at the pattern, made a little mental calculation, and realized that I have about 4000 crochet stitches to make for the edging. This is Ok, I can crochet and all, but it will take a little while. The result looks promising, so far:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Camera, internet, action

I am such a geek. A week without internet at home was not fun. What am I going to do if civilization ends?

Here is the beginning of an Ute sock:

The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, in ash, scarlet, beet red and plumberry. It looks like grape, the color suggested in the pattern instead of plumberry, has been discontinued. Plumberry seems a little too dark, but the socks don't look bad at all. I'm up to the heel flap, which will be knitted entirely in plumberry. Overall a great knit.

I've also joined Mystery Stole 3, and I will try to use the Welsh wool I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. Now, the mystery stole requires about 1200 yards of laceweight yarn. The Welsh wool, being Welsh, is measured in grams, so I know that I have 300 grams of laceweight wool. What does that mean in yards? I counted the number of loops in one skein (213), measured one typical loop, assumed the typical loop is the average loop, and came up with 402 yards in every skein. Since I have 3 skeins, that gives roughly 1206 yards of yarn.

Would you start a mystery stole with only 6 extra yards of yarn? And how good is my approximation anyway? There's only one way to find out: the mystery stole will now be a double mystery. What will it look like? And will I have enough yarn?

Whether it will be enough or not, the yarn is pretty. It's a 2-ply pure wool, in a natural color, and it's almost golden. The lady that sold it to me said it came from her small flock of sheep; the operation is so small they don't even have a website. Every sheep had a name and was dearly loved. The yarn itself is a little rough, a little rustic, but the sample shawls they had were divine.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Moving on

The pink lace camisole will be frogged tonight. It's one way to reduce the number of projects on needles!

Otherwise, all is going well. Meida's socks are almost done. I have only 15 rows left on the spider web shawl - so that's about one week of knitting. The first of the Ute socks is coming along nicely. I was trying so hard to get the gauge that the socks are coming a little too tight. I had to shorten the leg to compensate for this (and to account for the shape of my legs), and played with colors a little bit. Nothing radical, though.

Faced with two almost-completed projects, what did I do on Friday? I ordered the yarn for Venezia. I've decided I like colorwork and Venezia seems like a well-written pattern, exactly what I need for a first colorwork sweater. Eventually I'd like to move on to some Alice Starmore sweaters from Tudor Roses (I got the book, remember?), but it might be a while before I get there.

Did I mention that I now have an account on ravelry?

As you can imagine, I still have no internet at my house => no pictures.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Moving sucks. Not having internet (yet) at the new place also sucks. Making a mistake on row a zillion of the spider-web shawl also sucks: I thought I had to rip out the last 40 stitches! I am putting in a life line today - I don't need all that excitement in my life.

I started a pair of Ute Socks from Favorite Socks. I am so bad. Must finish something before... before starting something else!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

3 rows

That's my achievement for the night, on the half-hexagon spider web shawl from Victorian Lace Today.

The shawl starts at the neck with 9 stitches and you increase 6 stitches on every right side row; for simplicity, assume you increase 3 stitches every row. If r_0 = 9 and r_n is the number of stitches you have after knitting n rows (in this simplified model) then r_n = 9 + 3(n-1) = 3n + 6.

Unfortunately I've packed the book with the overall instructions; I am working on the Barege pattern and there is no way I would finish it before moving. But let's make a few guesses:

- the first chart has roughly 100 stitches -> 306 stitches after chart A.
- the second chart is narrow, only 17 rows, so after knitting it you have 357 stitches.
- the barege chart, auch. The first time you knit it you do 14 rows (that's 399 stitches), and then you do 4 more repeats of 12 rows each. These 48 final rows add an extra 144 stitches, so by the last row of the last Barege chart you have... 543 stitches on your needles!

Now, I am not quite there yet. I've just finished the second of the 4 repeats, so subtract 24 rows times 3 stitches... I must have around 471 stitches on my needles right now. I say "around" because there might be mistakes, dropped stitches (subtract one for each), extra random stitches (add one for each).

In any case, the shawl is an enjoyable knit, especially after you learn how to fix your mistakes (damn slippery yarn!). I found one mistake in chart B - but of course I cannot write down what it is, since the book is packed. I think there needs to be an extra yarn over on one of the rows, or something like that.

No pics today. The camera is packed or something.

Gauss would have been so proud of my math. It might be the most meaningful math I've done all week.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

New socks, and a story

Because it's been a while, because you can never have too many pairs of socks, and because they are small and they go so fast (after all the lace): a new pair of socks.

This is the beginning of Meida's socks by Nancy Bush, in Favorite socks. The yarn is Koigu, and I think the colors are subdued enough that they don't obscure this beautiful pattern. It's been a fun knit so far.

The story? I'll write it after I go to the market, and water the garden, and exercise the dog. I love summer weekends.

The Story

It's not even that big of a story. Perhaps it just stems from my sense of insecurity, or from the fact that yarn stores are the only stores where I feel that they are doing me a favor by letting me browse their store (instead of the other way around). Anyway, I wanted to pick up a copy of "Piecework" the other day, from the closest yarn store. The store was not particularly busy, except for a family - daughter, mother and grandmother - who were all fussing about the daughter's knitting project. All staff members were also fussing about this project (a piece of ugly knitting, for all I could tell). I picked up my magazine, set it down next to my bag, and wondered around the store some more. Well, gosh, I guess I was in the way, since the family moved my stuff. I also seemed to be in the staff's way, and there was not a chance I was going to get a word in, like "what kind of yarn is this?" or "can I have this magazine?" or "do you have bla-bla yarn?". I appreciate not being chased around by an employee trying to sell me stuff, but I also appreciate being able to talk to someone if I have questions.

I'm probably being too sensitive, but screw this - I am a customer, and yarn is expensive if you buy it from a store. I can get my stuff in other places, especially since there is another yarn store 5 blocks away (and I'm on a bike). I left the magazine in whatever place the family had set it, picked up my stuff and went shopping at the other yarn store. Unfortunately, they do not carry "PieceWork", so I got the blue Koigu sock yarn and a discounted copy of "America Knits".

Will I go back to the other yarn store? They can be very nice sometimes, rude at other times, and kind of clique-y in between. Maybe I'll subscribe to the magazine, so I don't have to go there much.

On a different note...

I have way too many works in progress. Must finish something, or else I'll never finish any of it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Sometimes life gets in the way of knitting, or knitting gets in the way of life. We had three house guests last week. Together with packing and with a first week of teaching an intensive course, this meant that precious little got done.

I am still working on the spider web shawl; the tencel is still pretty, and the shawl won't be as small as I feared it would be (my needles are 3 sizes smaller than the recommended sizes, and my yarn is finer). Very slowly I am also working on the Arctic Diamonds stole. I've found however that it is very difficult to work with yarn in the heat; it sticks to my hands, and feels unpleasantly warm (duh!).

And since one red lacy project and one reddish-pink lacy project are not enough, I've cast on for a pink lacy project! I woke up on Sunday morning with a vision for the hand-dyed hemp yarn I bought at MD Sheep and Wool. It will be a lacy and racy camisole, with empire waist. Stockinette above the waist, lace under the waist. I am using the Oriel lace pattern from IK Spring '07, and I think it will look good in the crunchy hemp yarn. Other than the lace chart, everything else is of my own design. I hope it turns out allright, or at least sexy...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Life is short

Too short for silly memes or knitting with ugly yarn. If you read my previous now deleted post, you will understand about the meme.

As for the yarn, I will spare you the pictures of the ugly, sort-of-spun silk I was trying to coerce into a scarf. I can make the scarf, but do I really want to, with all the beautiful things I still have around? For example, how about a spider-web shawl from Victorian Lace Today:

The yarn is Just our Yarn Almaza, a pure Tencel lace-weight yarn dyed in reds and pinks. I found it at MD Sheep & Wool and I am madly in love with it. It simply glows in my hands, and feels like heaven. The pictures don't do justice to the colors or the drape.