Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'd Like to Do This More Often

I'd really love to post to the blog more often, but it seems the moon and stars have to align. First, I need to have interesting knitting to show. Then I have to have a decent photo of my interesting knitting. (Surprisingly difficult to come by.) And then I have to have a few minutes to pull it all together.

I could blame my lack of time on Libby living at home now and Laura popping in at random intervals, but in all fairness, it's mostly because I finally took the plunge and began redecorating the guest bath. I chose it as a jumping off point to a total wallpaper purge. We've got wallpaper in eight rooms and our realtor says we have to get rid of all of it. I figure it would cost $10,000 to have it done by a proper professional, so I'm having a whack at it to see what I can accomplish myself. I think I could do it, too, if I didn't have a full-time job!

DH lacks the confidence to do much on his own, and I do agree it took some nerve to keep going after I saw what the walls looked like under the paper in the guest bath. I started there because it was small. Turns out small is a problem. You can hardly turn around, no one can fit in there to give you a hand, and every two feet it seems you run into a corner or crevice that requires infinite patience to get right. Anyhow, I've discovered that I'm capable of applying skim coat to smooth the walls. Now the next test is whether I'm capable of sanding it off to actually result in walls smooth enough to paint. I'm hoping that DH is capable of being trained to help with the sanding!

I am managing to do some knitting in between frantically trashing the bathroom and adjoining laundry room. I've got all the pieces done on my cable maze cardigan, and now only have to weave in ends, block everything, assemble, knit neck and button bands and sew on buttons. I just realized that my fantasy of wearing it to the department party on Saturday evening is pretty ridiculous. I'd forgotten about knitting the bands, I guess. And I don't have buttons yet. Not gonna happen in time. I am happy with how it's turning out. Of course, I still don't believe it will fit me, but that's only because every other sweater I've ever knit has turned out to have the flattering properties of a feed sack. I do love the Plymouth Royal Bamboo as a finished product, but DAMN that stuff is splitty! I'm not sure how durable it is going to turn out to be either, but it is SOFT and has a nice sheen. It reminds me a lot of rayon, but it's not nearly as slippery to work with. I spoke to a local LYS owner at the guild meeting last week, and he told me, "Everyone hates bamboo." Nice thing to say to someone in the middle of a bamboo project! I think to be a good YS owner, you need to have a better bedside manner than that!

I also started swatching and dyeing main color for a housewarming gift for Laura's first apartment -- a set of placemats in her favorite colors - rust with navy trim. I'm using the felted trivet pattern from Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, resized to placemats. KnitPicks didn't have the rust color I wanted in their bulky, feltable stuff, so I bought "bare" and some of their Jacquard acid dye and took the afternoon off to dye it yesterday. It's not as deep a color as I'd envisioned, but it is pretty. I think she'll like it. I was surprised how much yarn 600 grams turned out to be! I had to do the dyeing in the washing machine because it was way too much for my stainless steel dutch oven. That required an extra 2 gallons of water (ideally would have used 4, ended up having to use 6 to fill the tub to cover the yarn), and of course I couldn't "cook" it in the washer, so that probably accounts somewhat for the light color. All things considered, I guess it turned out pretty well! Now all I have to do is untangle the hanks (I swear I cannot understand how it gets tangled the way it does even though it's secured in two places on the hank) and wind them into my hand-made flat center-pull balls for knitting.
What is the "logic" that prompts me to start a new project just BEFORE finishing a prior project, I wonder. Surely it would be smarter to finish project one before diving into project two. I know I'm not the only knitter who struggles with "start-itis." And it sure is fun to get new yarn in the mail and play with dye and all that. It's a constant battle to maintain discipline, though! Ah, hell with it. I'm having a good time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I love EZ

Favorite quote so far:

"Carry yarn very loosely across the back of your work, otherwise your knitting will pucker, and be wasted and unloved."

Unloved indeed, she cracks me up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What's going on over there?

My copy of the Opinionated Knitter came today! I forgot it was coming, very nice surprise. Thanks so much. I'm excited to get to start on a real project here soon, I've been doing little things that leave me a teeny bit unsatisfied, I need something to sink my teeth into. Like perhaps a Fair Isle Yoke what do you think? What have you been up to lately? How are the curved shawl and the sweater?

I've emailed with Kate from Knitting on the Square today and I think the final set up will be the two of us tandem teaching the beginner sock class with me doing a more intermediate/advanced class for customizing fit, adding interesting patterns, and troubleshooting kind of stuff. I think that'll be a good fit for me, I was worried about teaching people to use dpn's and the really basic stuff that needs really good explanations. I also sent a picture of my BSJ and suggested she think about a class for it so cross your fingers!

Some highlights of my week in review to entertain the masses:

A finished internship application adds up to something like 46 pieces of paper that have to be fedex-ed. I'm quite proud of my little cover letter, with the enclusures listed and everything. :)

I also organized my kitchen in anticipation of moving and as a result of being bored. Seen here, the top of my refridgerator and the inside of my tupperware cabinet. Nice huh? There was more, I just don't imagine that you want any more silly pictures of it. (Don't worry, I'm working on the paper every day, I just can't do it ALL day every day.)

And there was some knitting as well -- This is a little market bag, a pattern from the purl bee called Elisa's Nest Tote and took about three hours total to make, even the i-cord for the handles was done before I knew it. It's made of Sugar 'n Cream cotton I got for wash cloths but I think it's better as a bag. I've washed the washcloths I made myself a couple times now and the colors aren't holding up to the hot water at all. This will probably stay bright as a bag and it's fun for trips to the farmer's market.

I would put in a picture of the books I've been reading for the paper but I think the titles would cause you to pity me and we can't have that :) I also finished a sock but no pictures yet, they'll come when I can take a decent shot of it on my foot, it needs to be stretched out to look like anything. I need some sock blockers!

p.s. what's laura been up to? take pictures and post for her, i'm curious!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Ok, so, having gotten Mom's approval for impractical baby clothing when accompanied by practical clothing, I made some baby booties. They're Saartje's booties, seen first at brooklyntweed and I like them well enough. They aren't finished to a high degree of quality but they're still pretty cute. I think something about the buttons bother me. They make the booties look a bit like little frogs...

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Here's my little jacket. You're right, Libby. They are so cute you can hardly stand it.

I keep complaining about how rustic mine looks, but your sweet little Baby Ull job is proof that it's totally within the control of the knitter to make them as rustic or refined as one wishes. And I have the feeling that the mom who's getting mine will prefer something "sensible" looking. I toyed with the idea of i-cord trim, but have decided that simple is best.

Next, I'm going to design some "Baby Surprise" socks. I envision an inch of garter stitch at the top, followed by an inch of 1x1 rib, followed by a flap heel and round toe in stockinette. Will post a photo soon. In the meantime, here's a closeup of the button I picked, which also shows off the beautiful colors in this yarn:

Now for some really big news - I bought yarn at Knitting on the Square's Bag Sale yesterday for my Cable/Lace cardigan. It's Plymouth Yarn Royal Bamboo in a muted yellow (think fresh butter). You know that Trekking 25% bamboo stuff I'm making into socks for your Dad that feel like they've got twine (or at least linen) in them? Well this stuff couldn't be more different. It must have at least a dozen super-thin plies in the strand, and it's a major splitter and manages to get itself twisted after only a dozen or so stitches. Still, it's gorgeous and I'm getting better (I think) at not splitting it. My lingering concern over this choice is that it seems a little heavy in weight -- I'm getting perfect gauge (23 sts over 4") but I'm afraid the fabric is going to seem too stiff for this lacy pattern. Kate said she thought it would work, and the yarn itself has a very silky soft feel, and my swatch is drapey, if a little thick, so I've got my fingers crossed.

I've cast on and knitted the eyelet trim along the back bottom. I'm following the pattern and knitting in pieces instead of in the round. I'll probably end up deciding this was a mistake, but kind of want to keep things lower stress, and it seemed like following the pattern might do that. Ha! It will probably do the opposite -- especially when I run into something like I did in row 5 (I actually made it to the fifth row before second-guessing the designer) where you increase every 4th stitch starting at the right side of 111 stitches, but only do it 25 times, which means that when you're done, you still have a dozen stitches and the instructions say "purl to end." Now why not just space them out evenly across the whole row? I've read ahead in the pattern and can see no reason. I'm so unsettled by it that I actually put it down, and I'm 90% sure that when I pick it back up I'm going to end up ripping out that row. I must be kidding myself to think that I have it in me to just follow the damn pattern! There is some good news about the dreaded row 5 -- I learned to do a nearly invisible increase in a purl row by lifting up the bump from the stitch in the row below.

Speaking of Kate, she told me she's going to call you. She said she just can't use anyone full time right now, but maybe you could teach a class for her. How about a class making the BSJ? You can get the pattern for your students from SchoolHouse Press as a stand-alone for $4 (plus shipping). Maybe you could ALSO do a class on one of the teddy bears or other toys you've made. You're on your own as far as figuring out those copyrights ! Anyhow, I figure if you hang that little sweater up in the store, people will flock to sign up for the class. And you can teach my baby surprise socks, too, to people who finish their sweaters ahead of the pack! (I won't charge you too much for it!) This DOES mean, Libby dear, that you're going to need an additional job or two. As much as I believe that someday everyone will knit and it will be possible to support ourselves giving classes, I do not think we're there yet.

Knit on,


Baby Surprise Jacket

I have finished my Baby Surprise Jacket. It is so adorable I can hardly stand it. I wish it fit me.
Duck buttons and all.
It needs a nice blocking to help smooth out all that garter stitch but it looks pretty nice over all.
I wish the baby this was intended for was due sooner than September, I don't imagine I'll be around to see her actually wear it, I'll have to depend on Miranda for pictures.

How's yours coming Mom?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Look! Eee!

Mom, did you see the impossibly sweet baby booties at brooklyntweed? If you are knitting someone something useful for their baby is it an acceptable self-indulgence to also gift them something not-so-useful just because it's fun to make and stare at? Just curious :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Lots going on!

Wow, Mom, you did have a lot to tell! I also have lots so I thought I'd post answers/responses to your post and then add my own thoughts.

So, to start from the top:

Washcloths: I, too, made a trip to JoAnn's and came away with some washcloth cotton and have knit up two. They're very fun and easy and I like using a washcloth every day that I made myself. I like the idea of knits for the home, it feels so wholesome. I hope you can get Dad interested, I think knitting has the potential to be relaxing for him too. Good luck! You should tell Laura we'll tolerate her genre jumping (crochet indeed...) if she'll take pictures and post on the blog!

Baby Surprise Jacket: Mine is in its second incarnation (the first incarnation having been ripped due to excessive thickness) however it shall need to be ripped and reincarnated once more -- I've had a rather serious misalignment of decreases which I blame on late night knitting and poor bedside lighting. See?
I would be glad of suggestions as to how to keep that line straight, the knit wiki doesn't seem to address that. I'd love to have a copy of the Opinionated Knitter, I ordered myself a Knitter's Almanac from Amazon because it was very cheap and helped me to qualify for free shipping on my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter. :-D Oh, and in my defense, those increases at the sleeves weren't make one increases, they were yarn overs, don't know why I tried that, maybe because that fabric was so thick I wanted to add some eyelets. The make one increases on v.2 look much nicer. I'm liking the Baby Ull on a size 5 addi, the fabric is nice and drapey.

Photo: Cool! Knitters in the news! Specifically, WE knitters in the news! Cool!

And now on to new stuff.

Finished Monkeys: Cute socks, nice cushy fabric that will probably need to wait for fall to get much use. (Weather today in Bloomington: 86 with 66% humidity...)

New Socks: Gentleman Socks, pattern by Designedly Kristi. Knit in Trekking XXL, Color 102. Very nice so far. See the close up? I'm very entertained by the stitch pattern, and I think it looks great in this yarn. This is actually what I was knitting in the picture of us from the newspaper but it's so teeny in the picture you can't tell, I had just cast on half an hour before the picture was taken.

Gloves: Pattern from Not Just More Socks, yarn is Koigu Merino, from Fine Points. It has you start with the cuff, add button bands, overlap them and join in the round to knit the hand. fingers are added one at a time starting at the pinky.

One finger,

Two fingers,

Three fingers,

Um...five fingers...forgot to take a four fingers picture :) the second pic shows the palm side.

So, that's what I've been up to the past couple weeks, and I agree with you Mom, I should also do this more often so it won't be such an ordeal!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

New Yarn! New Skills! New Appreciation for EZ!

Clearly, I'm going to have to do this more often. I have so many things to tell you, I don't know where to start. I have news. I have advice. I think I'll start with some news.
I took Laura with me to JoAnn's today to get some buttons for my Baby Surprise jacket, which I could probably get done tonight if not for inconvenient necessities such as dinner and laundry. My goal for the buttons was that they complement the little sweater without calling too much attention to themselves. I believe we were successful.
While there, I decided to get some washcloth cotton and a pair of wooden needles to use to try one more time to cajole your Dad into trying some garter stitch. I just think it would be calming, and he would really benefit. He believes it would just be frustrating. He may be right. If so, I'll knit my washcloths myself.
Anyhow, Laura decides to get some washcloth cotton herself, and then sees a pattern on the ball band for place mats and decides they would be just the thing to protect her new wooden table from her roomates. I see the wisdom in this, so we slip off the ball band to read the pattern so we know how much yarn to get. It takes a lot! three-and-a-half balls per mat. Then I realize why -- they're CROCHETED! Wouldn't you know -- the little contrarian has decided to go ahead and make them anyway. So of course we had to hie to the nearest bookstore to pick up the Happy Hooker. She's happily reading and chaining at this very moment.
I spent virtually all weekend working on my little Baby Surprise Jacket. Which is weird, because I'm making it to give to a woman I don't really know that well, and for whom I would not willfully give up an entire weekend. I think the Yarn Harlot's idea that some people knit for the stuff and some people knit for the process is interesting. I don't really agree with the either/or model, but I do ponder from time to time which I am mostly. I think I'm decidedly toward the process end of the spectrum.
My little sweater is cute, but doesn't look very babyish. That skein of Cherry Tree Hill "Birches" finally found a calling, but it's much darker than I expected (I thought it would be primarily, or at least 50% white). It looks a little like camouflage. If I can figure out how, I'll put a picture I took late yesterday afternoon here:

As I knit yesterday and today, I sat out on the deck and reveled in the fabulous spring-like weather. And I read my borrowed copy of The Opinionated Knitter from cover to cover, including most of the patterns. I've come to several conclusions:
1) you need the book in hand as you work on your own BSJ. If you can't get it from the library, let me know and I'll order two copies for us from School House Press. The book contains many hints. For example, how to make a straight line with your double decreases and side-by-side increases. And how to make an invisible increase (I now realize that what I thought were buttonholes when you showed me that very large swatch were your "make 1" increases. I avoid the holes by just knitting into the back of the picked up stitch, and it seems to be working great on the garter stitch. But then, I'm using camo yarn!
2) I need The Opinionated Knitter in my permanent collection. And I need Knitter's Almanac, too. I already have Knitting Without Tears. And once I have all three, I'm probably going to have to invest in a set of DVDs, too. Although I do think I may be able to borrow them from the library. Wouldn't that be great? Anyhow, let me know if you want me to place an order. I'll order both books for both of us.
I'm editing this post because I just learned that Knit Wiki has a terrific post on the BSJ. Although I think she's wrong about breaking the yarn to pick up the stitches on the right side (I picked them up just as EZ instructed, using Charlene Schurch's instructions for picking up along a garter edge) and didn't feel like I had the "wrong side" showing. Anyhow, it's a good post and you should check it out.

New subject: Did I tell you that our picture from the night we knitted with the Northcoast Guild appeared in the Willoughby News Herald last week? You can check it out here. Supposedly one can e-mail the image from their Website, but I haven't had any luck getting that to work. Ann Smrekar (guild newsletter editor and all-around sweet person) sent me the clipping, so I've scanned it and post it here for posterity:

Knit on, kiddo!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

First Knitting Mojo

A friend asked me to teach her to knit a couple weeks ago and I, of course jumped at the chance. Always willing to spread the joy/obsession of knitting. I think we both did pretty well, she better than me actually, I'm not sure I was very clear but she was doing quite well by the end of three hours.

Well, three hours if you count the time it took at the craft store to pick out a ball of Lion Wool and some fuscsia Boye needles (how convenient that the fuscia ones were the size the label reccomended? good thing, we might have gotten them anyhow). At the store I tried to explain relation of needle and yarn size to gauge and what that meant in finished fabric, not sure that made sense to her either but being an avid collector of clothing, especially sweaters, I think she got it on some level.

We set ourselves up in my kitchen and I showed her how to make a slip knot, surprisingly difficult to master it seems, there was much discussion of a "big loop" and subsequent "baby loop" but eventually we had a breakthrough and moved on to casting on. She filled up her needle, pulled them off and did another practice needleful and then we moved on to the knit stitch . Had the typical issues with accidental yarn overs and mysterious extra stitches but eventually learned to remember to keep the yarn in back to knit and we were ready to start with new stitches to make the start of a scarf. I know, I know, boring and a bit tedious for a begining project but it's what she wanted to make. She had a few very nice looking rows when we realized it had been three hours and that she needed to go home. I sent her off with my copy of S 'n B for later when she inevitably forgot how to continue. Hopefully she'll look through it and be inspired to keep practicing and to make something beyond a garter stitch scarf.

We really had a good time during our lesson and it was a really good feeling that at least one friend saw how much fun I think knitting is and wanted to try it herself. I was proud of her for her great effort, I know she usually sticks to crafts that are much more intuitive. We both marveled a bit at how someone came up with this stuff in the first place, it boggles the mind.
I took a couple of pictures for the blog, feeling that First Knitting and the birth of a new knitter should be recorded for posterity and that they probably carry a bit of healthy Knitting Mojo of their own and might lend some of that to this blog and its readers. So here you are, some First Knitting on the needles of a New Knitter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's Alive!

She did it! The blog lives!

Ok, Mom (Judi) got the first post so I (Libby) will get the first photo (because after all, what's a knitting blog without pictures?).

Might as well jump right in with what I'm working on today -- A monkey sock knit from Cookie A's pattern at Knitty in Socks that Rock Lightweight in Rhodonite colorway. I've always lusted after heavily verigated hand painted sock yarns just for the colors but I don't like the flashing/pooling/striping thing that usually happens. So when I saw Cara over at january one knitting adorable monkeys in STR and saw how nicely the color repeats were getting broken up I was very excited. I'm having a great time so far with the pattern and the yarn. Extremely yummy sock yarn, perhaps my new favorite.

There it is. Bright, huh?
So, I will now use this image to explain a few things about my knitting personality.
1. I knit mostly for myself, thus the crazy colors -- while I love them, I would never gift those colors to an unsuspecting recipient.
2. I like to knit socks. That's what I've been knitting all summer so far. I think the reasons for my love of socks are numerous, some of them include the fact that they're infinitely variable while adhering to a basic structure that is easily understood and that they're relatively cheap projects -- sweaters need too much yarn and lace calls for luxury fibers. They're also very customizable. On this sock for example, I used three different sized needles to obtain three seperate gauges to fit me -- a US 2 for the cuff, a US 1 for the leg, and a US 0 for the foot.
3. I like to knit socks magic loop style with one long circular, Addi Turbos to be specific. I like that method because I lose my place less often for some reason. I guess counting to two (to complete a round) is easier than counting to four.
So there you have it, my inagural post. You're up, Laura!

Alright Already - I'll Do It Myself!

Libby had the great idea that we should set up a family blog. It would be an easy way for her, Laura and me to share progress reports on knitting projects, post photos and generally obsess as a team, which is kinda hard to do when the girls are off on their college campuses and I'm at home with only their non-knitting-obsessed father to show off for.

That was six weeks ago.I have things to show off. I can't wait any longer.

So here is our blog. And here's the first thing I have to show off. This is the e-mail Libby sent me this morning containing a beautifully annotated list of her fave knitting blogs for me (apparently she has another list of faves that aren't for me ... hmmm, must find out what knitting blogs she thinks would be inappropriate for me!).

Hey i just remembered i promised to send you a list of my favorite blogs that i thought you would like. so here you go, my faves for you :)

Black Dog Knits-- variety of crafts, likes neutral colors, beautiful photography

Brooklyn Tweed-- which i think i saw you bookmark but can't remember -- handsome man, beautiful sweaters, loves noro and tweeds

The Daily Purl-- infrequent poster but has nice work and good ideas, good yarn reccomendations, also beautiful photos... i'm a sucker for pretty photos, they make anyone's knitting look good

Dogs Steal Yarn-- one of my first, young mother living in brooklyn, vegetarian, writer, nice stuff, writes patterns occasionaly

Enchanting Juno-- friends with the Harlot, single forty-something woman who tends towards the sarcastic and is funny

January One-- professional photographer, gets obsessed by one thing like a specific sock pattern she'll knit over and over or mitered squares to make a blanket, i love her color sense

Knitspot-- Anne from ohio who i think you already know about, very skilled knitter and designer, has lately been posting pictures of her yard tha make me want to plant a garden (oh wait, my landlord just turned my yard into a parking lot...)

Knitters Annonymous-- a dual-poster blog, young girls, Cookie A. of sock pattern fame (monkey, for example)

Knitting on Impulse-- lives in colorado like, on a mountain, likes to experiment, knits creative and wearable sweaters and jewelry with silver wire and stuff, very cool, not tacky :)

You've got Mason Dixon right?

Nona Knits (and Nona Swatches where she makes a swatch of some kind EVERY DAY)-- neat lady who knits cool stuff, just designed a pattern for sideways socks that i want to try

See Eunny Knit!-- Eunny aka new IK editor, extremely talented, great designer, rare posts, but they're good when you get them

Ysolda-- scottish girl who deisgns cute stuff and bakes yummy looking things that make me hungry, studies literature and film, interesting girl

Yarnstorm-- british lady who likes quilting as much as knitting, good with color and great photos, good stuff :)

there you go, nice list huh? not even half the blogs i read :-D

love you,libby

Of course, she didn't need to mention Stephanie's blog. I'm proud to say that I'm the one who turned Libby on to knitting blogs in the first place by sending her here ... at least that's the way I remember it!
Yarn Harlot-- reels you in with her humor and great knitting advice, keeps you coming back with her insights on life in general