Monday, April 23, 2007

One Fine Yarn

My patterns arrived today from One Fine Yarn (isn't that a great song?). I ordered three patterns from Hyphen Boy and I am so excited. I ordered the "Great Excuse Scarf" because I love the stripes, I owe DH a decent scarf, and the patterns calls for Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, which I have in massive quantities and colors (I think I will use orange, blue, and khaki for one).

I also ordered the "Modular Shell Felted Backpack" because the design is so neat and I love seeing how creative people were in their choice of colors. I hope to do something cool and not just copy the colors that someone else came up with. I think I will make it as a tote instead of a backpack. The link shows all the cool things people did with their color choices.

Finally, there's the "Ocean Waves Shawl" and it's very pretty but I can't remember what my motivation was to order it. I mean, I am surrounded by shawl patterns and OH I REMEMBER NOW!!!! I ordered it because Hyphen Boy said the pattern would include his masterful concept of "instructions for making a flip-book for the lace pattern. Cards printed on card-stock can be cut out, hole-punched, and assembled with ring clasps. Each card has the instructions for a pair of right-side and wrong-side rows, and when each one has been completed, you just flip the page over. It's my best tip for lace knitting without losing your place in the pattern, even when you put your knitting down for some time." I NEED THIS because I am just as likely to cast this on and walk away from it for a year as I am to compulsively work on it for 10 days straight.

So 3 more patterns added to the collection... someday I will show my pattern stash, which is comparable to the yarn stash but easier to get away with because of the nature of its size. I do have binders for all my patterns and each is labeled. I'm a bit behind on putting some away, especially since I print so many of them, and those get put into plastic sleeves. Quite tidy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Busy Hands had a sale. Need I say more?

Of the purchases, this one had to be cast on immediately. Although it's annoying to be working this slippery mercerized cotton and all its YOs, the colors make me believe that we might actually have a summer approaching.

The top-down cardigan pattern is from Knitting Pure and Simple.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I've been making great progress on the beaded bag for Kristyn's wedding. I am past the half-way point, meaning I have completed 70 rows of k2, sl 6 beads, repeat 16 times... and I've finished 18 of the next 70 rows of the second half. This is good because we now have a shower date set, which means I have a deadline. If I didn't have deadlines like Christmas and birthdays, I'd never finish anything (and those don't always work for me anyway).

So the bag is really getting heavy, and after stringing my 5th hank, I started counting. I figured there were 100 beads per string, 10 strings per hank, and I made it halfway through with 4 hanks. So 10x100x4=4000 per half, or 8000 beads total. Doesn't that seem like a lot of beads? After that calculation, I counted the number of beads per string and discovered there are actually 300 beads per, so triple the total to 24,000. Is that normal? Granted, it is a nice size purse, not an amulet size but an actual evening bag, so I expected a lot of beads. But had you asked me, even after stringing them all, I'd have guessed in the neighborhood of 1500 to 2000. And this is why I never come close in the contests where you have to guess the # of pennies or jelly beans in a jar.

I hope it won't be too heavy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I started the Lillelam sweater awhile ago, from the Dale of Norway Soft Treasures for Little Ones. I really wanted to finish it by Easter, and in the end (even hopped up on steroids) had to make a vest of it. The bad news is that a sweater with dropped sleeves doesn't fit quite right as a vest. The good news is that I made the largest size (24 months) so I have until next year to knit the sleeves and the coordinating fair isle pants and by then it should either fit Jackson properly or be entirely too small. And honestly, not to be too biased, my cute little guy can pull of just about any outfit.

I did make some changes to the pattern (besides omitting sleeves). I knit in the round and so made some adjustments to the # of stitches. I found this much more desirable than purling with two colors on US2 needles. It may have been lazy, but I can promise that this sweater would never have gotten past the acres of lattice stitch if it weren't all knitting. Never mind that whole fence. Since I was knitting in the round, I couldn't do the intarsia for the sheep. No worries, I just did him in duplicate stitch. That change did make the second layer of embroidery, the fluffy loop stitch, a bit more challenging, but in the end it worked perfectly. I also modified the neck and shoulder area to have a button row, to accommodate Jackson's large head. This added extra time and a trip to Joann's that I could have lived without, especially since my husband pulled the sweater right on over Jackson's head without unbuttoning those buttons. I keep telling myself that he'll need them next year if he really is going to wear it again, even though I know the majority of his head growth has already occurred.

So since I knit this thing in the round, I had to steek for the arm holes. I didn't bother adding any stitches or anything, just took two stitches in either side of each center stitch and outlined them with contrasting color yarn.

I then machine stitched over those contrasting yarns, which now cannot be removed, as they are sewn in. Others might have basted in a single line and sewed along side it, but I am a lousy seamstress and I need those kind of guidelines to not get crooked. My mom stopped by while I was sewing and I said, "Oh good, you can witness my cutting up this vest!" She pretty much screamed in horror, but I made her take pictures anyway.

Once the stitches were cut, I seamed up the shoulders and picked up stitches for the armbands (no need to mention the 2 days I spent trying to figure out a facing) and neckband. The fit wasn't as perfect as I'd have liked, but I think when I get around to those sleeves it will be. And I did learn a lot about embroidery, steeking, and modifying patterns. I loved this project and loved making that fluffy little sheep!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Jackson's New Sweater

Last August, my sweet baby needed surgery. He was not quite 7 months old. His surgery was quite serious - a cranial vault reconstruction to correct a condition called craniosynostosis, and we were paralyzed with fear. In the waiting room on the day of his surgery, I cast on this special sweater for him. Knit on size US3 needles with Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashmerino, it's the picot cardigan from Fiona McTague's Knits for Babies and Toddlers. I knit it several sizes larger than he wore at the time, putting all my faith and courage that he would be fine and healthy to wear it soon. He spent a week in the hospital and about 5 minutes at home before declaring himself fully recovered. Though I haven't quite shaken the experience, he has never looked back. Here he is, modeling his new garb:

You may be able to see the button loops that I tatted. They were my first practice rings and I thought they were perfect as loops. Also, you may be able to see that the button band is a bit too long. This is what happens when you try to pick up the number of stitches the pattern tells you to pick up instead of using your own fool head to pick up the number that will actually give you a favorable result. Someday I may re-knit that button band, but I want my healthy thriving little babe to wear it while it still fits. There will be plenty of time for fixing it before I pack it up as his heirloom sweater.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fed Ex

Please explain why Fed Ex must ring my doorbell every time they make a delivery? And if that can't be answered, then why must they deliver during the only knitting time I have in daylight, AKA Jackson's nap time? Have you ever seen a woman with laryngitis try to chase after a barking dog, yelling STOP at the top of her no-voice, whilst a ball of yarn, still connected to a sweater, is wrapped around her foot? Well if you haven't, let me tell you that there are few more pathetic sites. In the end, I did not catch up to the dog before he made it to the foyer, which is directly under the nursery, and proceeded to perform the only job for which he exists - barking at the Fed Ex guy.

Felted Easter Basket

Felted Easter Egg Basket


Size 13 – 24” circular needles
Size 13 DPNs
2 skeins (100 yards each) worsted weight yarn for main color (or 1 skein bulky)
2 skeins (100 yards each) worsted weight yarn for contrasting color (optional) (or one skein bulky)
1 skein novelty yarn (optional)

I used a contrasting color for the basket bottom and brim. If using worsted weight yarn, two strands are held together throughout. Both Berocco Ultra Alpaca and Manos del Uruguay worked well for this project. Berocco’s Squiggle was a great novelty yarn with a grassy texture for the brim. A mohair blend also produced a nice fuzzy brim.

To form basket bottom:
Using contrasting color and circular needle, cast on 17 stitches. Knit every row for 32 rows, or until you have a square. Do not cast off.

To form basket sides:
Pick up stitches along the 3 sides of the square. You’ll pick up one stitch between each garter ridge – I was able to pick up 16 stitches on two sides and 17 on the cast-on side. Knit the 4th side and place marker. Change to main color and knit in the round until piece measures 6”.

To create brim:
Change to contrasting color and novelty yarn, if using. (If novelty yarn is bulky, use one strand of worsted and one strand of novelty.) Knit 6 stitches. Place 5 stitches onto holder. Cast on 5 stitches using the backward loop method. Knit the remaining 6 stitches on the basket side, then proceed to knit the next 16 or 17 stitches on the adjoining side. Repeat for the remaining two sides of the basket. Knit a 3” brim and cast off loosely. When cutting yarn, leave a good long tail; fold the brim and use the tail to slip stitch the brim in half. There will be a hole where the live stitches are on a holder. This will be filled in when you knit the handle. Simply cuff the rim as you pass those live stitches.

To knit handles:
Slip 5 stitches from holder onto DPN. Leaving a long tail, join yarn with contrasting color (or for a mottled look, use one strand of main color and one strand of contrasting color),
and knit 3 rows st st. Begin I-cord for remainder of handle. When handle is 17”, knit 3 rows st st and perform 3-needle bind off to connect handle to remaining 5 stitches on opposite side of bag. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Before weaving these tails in, stitch the handle to the rim along the bottom and sides. This gives the handle extra support so it doesn’t flop over. Weave in ends and felt.

To felt:
Place in washer on hottest setting, smallest load. Add a tiny bit of detergent and agitate, without going through spin cycle, for 15-20 minutes. Check frequently, as different wools felt at different rates. When desired felting level is reached, remove from washer and remove excess water (I squeeze mine out, then wrap it in a towel and step on it). Shape and allow to dry.

Knitting on Steroids

So I saw the Yarn Harlot on Sunday. I'll be one of those Ann Arbor knitters who waited patiently while Stephanie flew to Detroit, Chicago, and back to Detroit. I'll let her tell the story first.

I loved her speech. I love the way Stephanie makes knitting seem like a really grand acheivement. I laughed a lot - many of us did - but I was really tickled when she said how nice it was to be a writer so that now, when people ask her what she did, she didn't just have, "I breastfeed" as a response (which is how I really have to answer that question... for the past 5 years I've either been gestating or nursing a child, or both... it's really what you do when you're in the thick of it). There were a lot of things that I liked about her speech and I'd love to write about it more but the *&(@#^%$^@&*#$ FedEx guy just woke up my baby AGAIN. My other kid keeps tearing off the "Do not ring this doorbell for the love of wool PLEASE do not make my dog go crazy with the thrill of fulfilling his only purpose in life."

And at the speech, I lost my voice and my doctor put me on steroids. Suddenly I can knit much more quickly. I know I can't stay on them long term, but I wish I could.