Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big Pile of Yarn Crap

So a couple of days ago I was so pleased with myself for doing the short-row, set-in, top-down sleeve on my sweater. Today I finished the sweater and began sewing the side seams, and guess what? I discovered that I had knitted a crap sweater.

The sleeve caps look like crap, and over all, the finished product just doesn't make it. The wonkiness that I thought would be ok just isn't; it's ugly and misshapen.

I have started and re-started this sweater so many times. I want a gray cardigan that looks amazing with one great deep red button.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I was going to end up making (yet) another
Mr Greenjeans. I was trying to avoid falling back on that terrific pattern that never fails and be creative and make something new, but my first instincts were the right ones: Mr Greenjeans has never failed me.

Tomorrow I will frog the sweater (which is shoved in my workroom wastebasket), rewind the wool, and begin, again, with Mr Greenjeans.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be happy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

50 Sock Project

When I travel, I need a small, portable, mindless project. In July, when we went up to Massachussetts, I started my Sock Project which is to make baby socks and send them toWarm Woolies. That week, I made five pairs of socks and sent them off.

At first, it was an open-ended project, but I realized that I liked being able to put a percentage-of-completeness on my project entry on Ravelry. I decided that I'm going to make fifty pairs.

This weekend, down in Charleston, I made one and a half pairs.

Anyone who wants to join in and match me (or get competitive and out-do me) is welcome to. There are a lot of cold feet out there. Warm them up.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Technique

I've added a new technique to my knitting repetoire: the shoulder-down-set-in sleeve with short-row cap shaping.

At the first Stitches East where I took classes, one class covered this technique: the teacher was very thorough, got all the information across, but yelled the entire three hours. I was exhausted and had a splitting headache (as did other students) by the time the class was over. From that point on, I associated the technique with the headache.

In addition to the stole pattern I'm working out, I have another project on my needles, one that involves set-in sleeves. I hate sewing in sleeves, and I hate the seam that results. All of a sudden, the short-row technique bubbled up out of my locked box of knitting secrets: I can do that!

And I did.

The first sleeve has a little bit of wonkiness where I worked back picking up the wraps, but if I do the same thing on the second sleeve, it will look deliberate. And I'll know what not to do the next time around.

I love it when I figure something out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Knitting

Now that the gigantic Christmas stocking is finished, I had time to spend straightening up my workroom and putting things (and my brain) in order.

I have a cone of gorgeous sport-weight cotton (scroll down and check out the color Passion) that has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be turned into something wonderful. I've been working on a stole, starting and re-starting it a few times to get the stitch pattern and the over-all shape in the right combination. Today, I think I got it.

It's nice to work with fine, light, smooth yarn, especially in this heat, and especially after The Stocking.

It's interesting what kick-starts the design process: I've had this yarn for several months and kept looking at it and thinking about it, with ideas floating in and out. Then last week, in a cosmetics ad of all places, I saw a dress that was similar in color and had a ridged bodice. BAM! I knew what I wanted to do with the yarn.

Funny how the brain works.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Woodstock Weekend

So this past weekend was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (no need to say The Woodstock Music Festival, is there?). I wasn't there. I was in Toronto being live-in nanny for my baby nephew: mom was working as a secretary and dad was being stoned just about 24/7, and I was learning child care on the fly. Where I wanted to be was in Guadalajara with my boyfriend; he had made plans with a friend to take classes there before we started dating, and I really wanted to go with him. But I had no money and no guts, and there wasn't room in their car, so instead I got to take a bus to Toronto and change diapers.

Woodstock happened while I was up north, and it didn't register on anyone's radar until a couple of buses of Canadian teenagers and their adult chaperones were held at the US border because our customs people didn't want to let them in. One of the chaperones was originally from Luxemburg and compared the US customs people to the Nazis who had occupied Luxemburg during WWII. That made the news.

So my Woodstock experience was being taken off the bus at the US/Canada border with a couple of other kids; I guess we looked like hippies (I wasn't wearing a dress, carrying a nice handbag and my hair wasn't in a flip). And we were all searched and questioned----got to make sure that we're not bringing drugs or subversive thoughts in.

And where are we all now? That would make an interesting documentary.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knitting Squirrels in My Brain

I have knitting squirrels in my head. They work like this: I get an idea for a design, plot it out, and start working on it. I think it looks pretty good and the pattern writing is going well. Immediately, the knitting squirrels wake up and start running in circles in my brain. Their chatter is very distracting: what about this design? are you sure this is what you want to do? how would it look if you did this? how would it look if you did that? how about you rip it out and start over and do this instead?

And lo and behold, what was a pretty clear, straight forward idea and design suddenly becomes A BIG DEAL.

Sometimes it's very difficult to shut those squirrels up and make them lie down, go back to sleep, and leave me alone.

Does anyone else have knitting squirrels in their heads? Or knitting monkeys? Hamsters? Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Blankie or Not To Blankie....

I'm kind of having second thoughts about the Blankie. I like winding little balls of different yarns and arranging them by color and thinking about it, but I don't actually like the process of knitting all those little mitered squares and having to figure out what color comes next. It's too much like quilting, and I finally learned that I don't like quilting (again, I like looking at the fabric and sorting the fabric but not putting it all together).

The thought of making a scarf or a stole came to mind----not quite as large and open-ended as an entire Blankie. I like to know where the end of a project is, and an entire blanket (or even afghan) is a little too ambiguous for me.

We'll see.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


And I'm finished.

Goodness gracious, that was a lot of yarn! As I progressed, it got heavier and more unwieldy, of course---kind of like knitting an afghan but in the round. What an experience.

I wrote up the pattern and tomorrow will turn it all in.

But enough about knitting (for now). Let's talk about Chuck.

Chuck is an amazing cat. I would almost say that he's Sheila reincarnated. He's not as vocal as she was, but he is certainly as sharp. He is very sweet and affectionate without being in your face about it, very loving. Also very curious. As soon as something is open (drawer, door, mouth, whatever), he is all over it and trying to get in it and check it out.

He and Henry are actually getting along well---there is some wrestling and tussling that goes on, but it's not vicious. I think big old fat hairy Henry is happy to finally have someone he can play with and hang out with, someone he doesn't feel that he has to either torment or avoid.

Happy cat days are ahead of us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


And I made it to the heel and turned the heel this morning. Now I just have to soldier through the foot and the toe.

What's challenging about this (besides being sooooo big) is that when my usual mode of sock knitting is on double points. Whether I'm aware of it or not, each needle orients me to where I am on the sock; shifting my brain to orient the sock on a circular needle isn't impossible, but I'm aware of having to "translate" the parts of the sock as I go along. I don't know if that makes sense (barely makes sense to me), but I just know that I feel as if I'm patting my head and rubbing my stomach.

Foot and heel, then I'm done.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to Big

So it's back to supersized sock today. Last night, I ripped it all out and started over with a striped ribbing (much better than the seed stitch for the top), and am plugging away. I think I have about 12" to go until the heel, and that, I'm hoping, will not be too difficult to do. I've done so many human-scaled short row heels that I have confidence that I'll be able to fudge my way through a giant one. I keep telling myself that this doesn't have to fit anyone. Or anyone that I know.

For perspective: the sock is 22" across at the ribbing, and 20" long as knit so far.
It's going to be a lot bigger.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ping Pong

Big/little, big/little.....

I started the day working on the gi-normous Christmas stocking (size 15 needles), but had to put it on hold as I need clarification from the designer as to what she wants: the parameters were just vague enough that I thought I free rein, given the yarns and stitch suggestions I had been given. But having sent a photo of the WIP, I got an email suggesting that some aspects be changed; now I need a response to either my email or phone message so that I can continue working.

So, in the meantime, I went back to working on my Blankie (size 2 needles). I'm starting each square with a dark brown; it makes it easier for me to place random squares next to each other with this brown buffer. Otherwise, I was stuck and obsessing about each freaking little square.

Big/little, big/little.....

Maybe tomorrow will be a big day.

I Can See Clearly Now

Back in April, I was feeling very much like I had nothing to say, so why say anything? And who was reading this, anyway? But now that I'm off statins (again) because they cause depression in me (again), even the natural ones found in red rice yeast, my mind is clearer, and there's purpose in life again.

And a lot happened over the last three months: I've gotten a few more designs up and out there, especially for Flo at Elmore Pisgah; two of my freebies from For the Love of Yarn are in the top 100 favorite patterns in their categories (Baby and Child) on Ravelry (but my Sachiko Baby Kimono dropped out of the top 100 in the last couple of days, and that's a whole different post); I struggled mightily with a pattern/sample for StellaPop (which I cried "Uncle" over), and now I'm working on a mammoth Christmas stocking for StellaPop which is supposedly for the Anthropology winter or holiday catalog.

I made six pairs of baby socks that I sent off to Warm Woolies; I joined a knitting group which is made up of younger (much younger) knitters who are rowdy, fun, warm, and welcoming, and who have recruited me to the cult of the blankie (click on All About the Blankie).

Our wonderful tuxedo cat of 17.5 years, Sheila, died which was very sad. We now have a tuxedo kitten, Chuck,who is terrific. I think from here on in it's tuxedos all the way (sorry, Henry: even with all your wonderful white hugeness, tuxedos rule).

I went on a personal knitting binge and got a couple of sweaters finished that will be staple parts of my fall wardrobe. It's supposed to hit 98 today, but that definitely won't last forever.

We spent a long weekend in Charleston visiting Jon and Rebecca and are going back at the end of next week.

I made a dynamite sweet cherry cobbler and several equally good blueberry cobblers.

Now it's time to knit on the enormous Christmas stocking and see how it progresses.