Monday, December 31, 2007

Mr. Greenjeans Sweater, Attempts I, II & III

In the last three weeks, I've completed two mr greenjeans sweaters, frogged one and am about to start number three (which is actually a remake of number two). I love the look of this sweater, the clarity of how the pattern is written, and the fact that it is knit in one piece, from the neck down. I am determined to have a mr greenjeans sweater that I am proud of and comfortable in and that I will wear.

Here's the backstory: I started version number one with yarn that I've had in my stash for a while, Plymouth DK Encore Colors, an interesting red-based tweed. It is a lighter weight yarn than called for in the pattern, but hey, that's never stopped me before. I worked on the sweater for a few days, taking it with me up to the mountains, and then I started thinking that maybe the lighter weight wasn't really going to work. Within a day, I had convinced myself that it wasn't working and that I needed new yarn to start another version.

I found that my local yarn store had just gotten in a tremendous selection of Cascade 220, almost too many colors to choose from. But I chose and started right in on mr greenjeans number two. The yarn worked up beautifully and the knitting just sailed along. Before I knew it, the sweater was finished. I tried it on and discovered that the sweater just didn't fit me right--the stockinette stitch part of the sweater was just too much, too baggy, there was excess fabric under the arms and around the chest.

The beauty of today's knitting world is the Internet: I found a multitude of blogs and KAL's and, most importantly, photos of other people's mr greenjeans. All the sweaters that were well-fitting were modeled on women with boobs. I don't have boobs.

So I went back to the first version that I had abandoned just after picking up and starting sleeve number one. It didn't take long for me to finish both sleeves, and today I finished the buttonband/neck ribbing. I think that the lighter weight yarn, which made a tighter fitting sweater, will work on my shape. Right now, the sweater is pinned to the guest bed for a little bit of blocking. Tomorrow I can try it on and see whether it fits the way I want it to or whether it will find its way to the bottom of a large trash bag.

This afternoon, I frogged the entire Cascade 220 mr greenjeans and re-wound all the yarn. I think to make it fit my body, I need to make the sweater smaller. Whether this means scaling the entire sweater down or just the yoke/sleeve area remains to be seen. I also need to take another look at what needles I'm using. I used a size 7 and found that I really ended up with three different gauges: working back and forth on the yoke gave me the loosest gauge, the sleeves worked on a circular needle gave a slightly tighter gauge, and when I switched to dpns to finish the sleeves, it was an even tighter gauge. I need to look at the pattern and crunch the numbers and also really pay attention to gauge.

The other thing that occurred to me was to make the sweater as a pullover--that's another interesting thought that I'm going to explore.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I Didn't Know that I am a Home-Wrecking Hussy (or, put down the gun, Robin)

I had no idea the power I have over men other than my husband until this morning, when I retrieved five voice mails on my cell phone. They were from Robin who identified herself as the "partner and fiance" of D**. She wanted to know why my phone number was on their caller ID and why D** had called me. She knew what city I live in. She wanted me to call her back.

It took me a few moments (senior moments, that is) to remember who D** was. And no, it's not because I had drunk so much I blacked out or had such a wild night that I couldn't remember which one D** was. Those days are a good thirty-five years in the past, and even then, I was never that wild and crazy. It took me a while to remember because, believe it or not Robin, I'm approaching sixty faster than I would like (and I'm not talking about speed limits, honey).

And then I remembered. Last week, I had gone up to our get-away place in the Pocono mountains and had needed to have our driveway plowed so I could actually get in the house. D** was one of the numbers given to me by the office personel who keep a list of people who do various jobs up there. I called, left a message, he called back about five hours later, I said Forget it, no problem, I had parked by the lake and walked a mile back to the house. We talked for a couple of minutes about how deep and hard the ice in the driveway was, and how it held his weight, 200 pounds that he is. That was it. That was as personal as it got. Or so I thought. Robin obviously thinks it was more than that. I'm going to be looking over my shoulder for a while in case she heads south.


As a member of AKD (Association of Knitwear Designers), I get to participate in making up swatches for the GWOY (Great Wall of Yarn) for TNNA(The National NeedleArts Association) convention that meets in January. Trendsetter Yarns sends me a box of usually 8 different yarns, and I get to make swatches so that people in the industry can see what the new yarns look like worked up. The majority of the yarns in my box this year were novelty yarns, something that I rarely, if ever, work with. Making the swatches in these yarns was a challenge.

So, here are the swatches I finished yesterday.

A Nylon/Cotton/Rayon blend in a colorway that I found a little sickening, but physically, it was a nice yarn to work with: a ribbon yarn alternating with a matte, almost suede-like yarn.

A sock yarn that is 100% merino--I could knit a pair of socks in this and then felt them just like I did this weekend with another pair. Honestly, this was a very nice yarn, much more to my liking than the novelty yarns. And since I'm currently in a sock craze/phase, this was right up my alley.

A blend of Silk/Viscose/Microfiber, this felt a little creepy on the skein but actually felt very nice knitting up. Very clear stitch definition.

Not to dis this yarn company, but I think the term for this yarn is "clown barf"--too many different yarns tied together in a jumble.

This absolutely the worst to swatch in. A very fine Rayon yarn with sequins strung along it, finer than sock yarn, I guess lace weight would be the closest? In any case, the sequins catch and pull and I have no idea what use this yarn would be except to carry it along with a heavier, smoother yarn. Beats me.

Yet another joyful mess of a yarn: a curly rayon yarn with big fat slugs--I mean slubs-- in it. Again difficult to work with as the slubs kept catching and being difficult about being made into stitches.

When Allie saw this yarn, she said it looked very Renaissance Faire-ish; maybe the colorway should be called Huzzah.

This one was hard to knit and hard to scan. It's a ruffle and the yarn is cotton/rayon/metallic. Yet another of the My Little Pony yarns that I had to knit up.

I'm interested to see what yarn I get next time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Time Flies...

...and we're having a good time.

Right after my last post, our knitting/crochet class at ASB held a fashion show at the in-house ASB Volunteer Recognition event. And it was great. I'll post photos when we get them developed. Many of the clients participated and showed off their items---sweaters, pillows, blankets, an Einstein jacket---very impressive work. I'm very sure that next time there's an event like this, we'll have even more participants. It all does my heart good.

And I sold my first design. Previously, any designs that I've had published have been gratis, which is fine since I get exposure in exchange for having my designs published online (ie, For the Love of Yarn). But this design I sold to WEBS for their Valley Yarns, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in their print and on-line catalogs (next edition, please please please!). And since I got paid with a gift certificate to WEBS, this means that I can buy more yarn for the ASB class when we need it since I have so much yarn in my own stash it would greedy and kind of disgusting to buy more yarn for myself (at the moment).

And I'm pretty much moved into my new workroom: out of the basement and up on the second floor where there is light and there is air. The move has meant sorting through all the crap that I accumulated in the basement and much, much throwing out. The upside is that only what I need and use has come upstairs with me; the downside is being overwhelmed with how much stuff I ended up throwing away.

And I sent the book out to the publisher and am waiting to hear from them as to what needs to be done. I had a major anxiety dream the other night about this, coming on the heels of Michael's office party where I drank too much and ate beef for the first time in almost six months. Bad combination.

And I've put my hat patterns in pdf book form, available for download, and have also put together a calendar with photos from the up-coming book on each month. So I've been mastering all kinds of computer/techie type things, which makes me feel smart. Wow.

And I have a new friend, Joan, who has joined our volunteer teachers at ASB, and she is definitely a great asset: very down to earth, very dry humor, and she taught middle school students for years so she's very good at cutting through the crap. I enjoy her company very much.

And I've been making socks--oh, god, do I love making socks! I'm working on pair for Allie using some of the Jojoland yarn that I got at Stitches this year--they're turning out beautifully: little cables up the front of the sock and 2x2 ribbing on the back--really nice.

And I'm working on my swatches for the Great Wall of Yarn for TNNA. This year, I received eight yarns to swatch, and six of them are novelty yarns. This has been a challenge for me, as I'm not at all a novelty yarn person. It's very difficult for me to look at a fancy, "My Little Pony" yarn (as Allie called them) and think of a stitch that would look good. To me, novelty yarns look like dog barf when knitted up. I'm on my last novelty swatch (saving the smooth yarns that speak to me for last), and I realized that I really don't care what it looks like--not the right attitude, I guess, but as long as it's worked up, that should be ok. I mean, if the yarn company is going to conceive of and manufacture some stupid, hard to work with, ugly yarn, they can't be disappointed or surprised if the finished product is stupid and ugly.

So that's what's been going on in the last month. Sounds like a lot. It is a lot.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Close

I'm this close to sending all the book text and photos off to the publisher--hopefully, it will be by the end of the week.

Everything is formatted, laid out, edited, ready to go. I just need to hear from the publisher about submitting the photos, and then it can go out.

Soooo close. It's almost a year that I've been working on this--longer than being pregnant (if I had gotten pregnant in January, I'd have a two-month old by now).
But instead I have a 70+ page book dummy and a couple of disks with photos and text on them.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Design Process

Designing always ends up taking more time, effort and brain power than I plan for. It seems, every time, as if it's going to be easy (this time). I have the idea, I have the sketch, the yarn, the time--I'm ready to go.

I write the pattern as I'm working, and there is most certainly ripping out and re-writing that goes on. I usually end up with at least three drafts of a pattern before I finish the (first) prototype.

So, the prototype is finished, as it was today. And I looked at it and thought Mmmmm--something doesn't look quite right. And it was the proportion of the body of the sweater.

And so it was back to re-figuring what the new length would be, and re-writing the pattern to accommodate those changes. I think I'll start knitting the (second) prototype tomorrow.

At least I took a break this afternoon from sitting in the house and went down the street to Java where I had a cup of coffee and a Harvest Bar (buttery coffee cake topped with dried cranberries, apricots, dark and light raisins).....yum.

Maybe if I take a break every time I run into a problem with a design or pattern writing and go down to Java, I can grow me a backside that'll fill up a pair of big-ass-mom jeans.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


A couple of days ago, I did what I had been thinking about for a while: I got a knitting tattoo. A ball of yarn, it's on my left inner forearm just below the elbow. Yes, it's real. Yes, I really did it. I feel very strong: Allie says now I can get in a fight at a bar.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Knitting Class

The class is really moving along this year. Luis and Sara are two of the more prolific needle-workers in the group; it seems that every week, one of them (at least) has something new to show us.

This is Luis modeling the poncho he made for his mother. She didn't care for the color of the first poncho he made, so this is his second attempt: we're hoping she likes this one because it is beautifully made as well as striking in the color combination. He is amazing: he worked out the stripe sequence himself, added the fringe, and figured out how to add on a stand-up collar. His current project is the Einstein Jacket designed by Sally Melville for her "Knit Stitch" book.

Sara is a crocheter. Last winter, she made a shawl-collared jacket in a deep green, chunky yarn; this is a baby blanket that she made of granny squares. Now she's working on a shawl.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Class Resumes

Our knitting class for the blind began again a couple of weeks ago. In a switch from last year, the morning class is quiet and has fewer students and the afternoon class is much more crowded. We may have to do some juggling.

The photo is of Brenda, wearing the ribbed hat she made last winter.

Many of last year's students are back, but a few aren't. I'm sure, as the year progresses, some of these will turn up again. But Ben is back. Ben looooves crochet. Ben, in addition to being visually impaired, is brain-damaged and has a terrible disposition and bad BO. None of us (the volunteers) have experience in social work, so we treat Ben as we do the other students, except from time to time, one of us speaks a little sharply to him to bring him back in line.

In November, the ASB (where we hold the class) will be having an in-house event for all the volunteers, and a fashion show from our students will be featured. I guess we need to credit Fluffy for this (our wanna-be leader who knows all about everything), because she was adament that there be a fashion show at the annual volunteers luncheon, which is held at a hotel. And even thought it's for the volunteers and not the clients, Fluffy couldn't see why our class couldn't be singled out and made much of. So this is the compromise: we get an in-house fashion show and Fluffy gets to take credit for getting a fashion show at all. As always, it promises to be a very interesting year.

Monday, September 17, 2007


September is a tough time of year: it's not still summer but not yet autumn. The weather vacillates between cool and too hot. The garden looks like hell because parts of the summer were too hot (and our outdoor plumbing never got fixed), but it's too early to cut everything back and pretend that we're ready for winter. And psychologically, September is always a time of tension: the hope and anxiety of the new. Starting school in September has imprinted on me even though years and years and years have gone by since I needed to face new teachers, new classrooms, new classmates. It's still a trigger-time for change and the anxiety that goes with it.

But in the midst of all this, knitting goes on (isn't that remarkable???)

Since being seduced by socks, I've made two pairs of socks and am working on a third (for my husband). Although I just turned the heel on the first sock of this pair, I'm already thinking ahead to socks yet unknit: cabled socks, lace socks, textured socks. This is all part of my obsessive nature: the need to collect, amass, organize, collate.

I'm already lining up yarn that wants to be made into socks, and I haven't yet hit weather that's cold enough for me to wear the socks that I've already made (and how do I know, yet, that I even want to have handknit socks on my feet?). But I need/want to make them. Which is the life of a knitter.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sock Seduction

I've been seduced by socks. Toe-up socks to be exact. I've knitted socks in the past, the traditional top-down type, and while I've enjoyed the process to a point, I never fully understood why people were so into knitting socks. They never quite fit right, never quite matched in size; things were always a little off somehow. At Stitches and other knitting events, I'd see people parading in their socks and didn't quite get it.

Then last week, I decided to try toe-up socks, since the big reason for doing socks this way is that you can try them on as you knit them.

I used yarn from my stash: fingering weight from Sheldridge Farms in a nice heathery blue-green, and worked with Ann Budd's article on toe-up socks from InterweaveKnits. Once I got the toe going, I found that yes, indeed, I could try on the sock as I worked. The moment I slipped the sock on over my toes and it fit my foot as if it had been made for me, I knew this is what I want to knit. I realized that a well-made, well-fitting pair of socks is a treat to the feet. And, unlike sweaters where you pick a pattern and knit it up and then find out that the style is unflattering or there's some other problem with the finished item, socks will always fit, always be flattering, never make you look fat.

The second sock matches the first sock exactly and both fit like a dream.

And, as I've progressed to my second pair, I see that you don't really need a pattern or a gauge swatch, once you understand the basic principle.

So here I go. Now I'm looking at sock yarn and sock needles because of course I need to have the right supplies........

Thursday, August 16, 2007


This is completely off the topic of knitting, unless you're one to collect, card, spin and knit pet hair.

I think I've reached my saturation point with the cats, all three of them, all 35 years of them (if you add up their ages).

Last week, we made a big mistake and bought a self-cleaning litter box. It probably would work if we had only one small, co-operative cat, but having three (two of which are large, one of which is sly and manipulative) made it utterly impossible. Miss Sly Pants figured out how to pee on the wrong side of the automatic sweeper so that said sweeper clogged and couldn't move at all. And having three cats meant that I had to check the status of the box four or five times a day to make sure that it was operating properly.

And then someone pooped in the guest room. So that was that. I cleaned up the new box as best as I could and put the old, scoop-by-hand box back. I hope it makes them (the cats) happy.

Anybody out there want a barely used automatic self-cleaning litter box?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Summer Knitting

I've gotten a lot done over the summer (and by summer, I mean since June 26 which was the last day of blind knitting until September). I've completed all the patterns for my book, they are now in my tech editor's hands--the goal is to have the editing finished by the end of September. In the meantime, I've started working on the photography for the book, doing what I can without live models. Hopefully, in a few weeks, when this disgusting heat passes, I'll be able to find some co-operative babies and get some hats and sweaters photographed.

I've also had my second design published at For the Love of Yarn , an online knitting magazine that has been very receptive to my designs. And from that, I've gotten a couple of fan emails about that design, so it makes me feel that I'm being recognized.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New Blog

Back in the fall, I threw together a blog so that I could post photos of my finished knitting projects. I didn't realize until I was well into the posting that people could only comment if they registered and signed in. And honestly, how many people are going to register at some random site just so they can comment on a stranger's sweater or shawl or what-have-you?

And another drawback of the old blog host is that I don't seem to be able to copy what I've written so that I can transfer it over here.
So I'm starting over. In the meantime, you can take a look at the old blog and see what went on in my knitting world before now.

In the meantime, I have figured out how to add photos to this site.