26 February 2006

On the podium..

I'm not sure how technical the start and end times and definitions of complete are to be, but I think I qualify for a medal in the Knitting Olympics. I finished the knitting of Fair Isle 101 Friday in the car and attached the sleeves by midday Saturday.

I decided to try to block in the dryer with Dryel, but it effected absolutely no change in the evenness of the stitches, so I soaked it in mom's laundry room sink and laid it out (without pins) to dry on her cutting table.

The soaking seems to have evened things out quite satisfactorily, but I'm a little worried that is also stretched the sweater out so that it's going to be too big. :/ We'll see.

Mom's cutting table is in their basement, so it didn't dry overnight. That's where I'm not sure about the whole how-do-we-define-finished thing - it's still damp, so technically not finished blocking. But there's no additional action that needs to be taken to finish it, so I think it's pr'bly close enough.

In the meantime, I started another pair of socks, but haven't gotten that far on them. We had a wedding this weekend and were up too late and got up too early, so I slept in the car on the way home instead of knitting. Tomorrow is Rogue night, but I doubt I'll get very far on it as I need to let my hands rest some and also have to go to bed early so I can be on campus by 6 Tuesday morning.

22 February 2006

Catching up..

Olympic knitting proceeds apace. I finished the first sleeve last night:

I knit it in the round to the point where the shaping for the sleeve cap started and then finished flat. If you look closely, you can tell where I switched (other than by noting where the decreases start) because my purl gauge doesn't match my knit gauge so the rows are a little uneven. I'm sure that blocking/the first tumble through with Dryel will even that out.

Still haven't blocked the body. I think I've decided to take mamacate's suggestion and weave in the ends and tighten up the seam first and then I may just run it through the dryer with Dryel to even things out. Yes, I know, I really should properly block it, but I'm still concerned that just soaking it and pinning it really won't even things out enough. In any case, I hope to try to get some of that finished tonight (though I have plans for much-needed drinks after work, so that may be all that gets done tonight).

I'm glad this one is almost finished though. While I normally do knit at least some most days, I'm finding that I have to knit a lot more regularly and for longer periods to keep up the pace I need to finish this sweater on time. If I weren't on the deadline, I would likely take another week or two to finish a sweater of this size and construction.

And, Monday was Rogue night! Yea! I think I might have overdone it a bit in trying to catch up to G, though as my hands and wrists are a bit sore today.

I have something like 20 rows left before I divide for front and back. I rather like it so far and really can't wait to finish it. Keeping it to just Monday nights after this week is going to be hard! Good thing I have at least three or four other projects I can start to keep me occupied the rest of the week.

And, as I expected, I did attach the pocket to the body this week and I really rather like how they did the pocket. I've never done a knit-in pocket before and I like how smooth it looks. I think if I were to do something like this again, I might make the pocket a little deeper (assuming I can figure out how to do it and keep it looking neat).

19 February 2006

Slightly ahead of schedule..

The body is finished. The shoulders are seamed and the neck is finished. And it fits.

It needs blocking, which I'm a little dubious about. Having been knit in the round, I'm concerned that just soaking it and pinning it won't really even things out. And since I don't want to make it harder for individual strands to pull out extra if needed, I haven't woven the ends yet, which might mean it'll need to be reblocked once I have the ends woven and the seam situated. Or I could just weave in the ends and try to block it like that. (Suggestions from those more experienced with fair isle are more than welcome!)

I started the first sleeve late yesterday afternoon. I've decided that I'm really not enamoured of the idea of doing the sleeves flat, so I'm doing them in the round to the point where the cap will need to be shaped. I'm almost finished with the increase rows on the first sleeve; they go pretty quick.

This *might* mean sleeve 1 finished Tuesday and sleeve 2 finished Thursday and seams sewn Friday on the drive to the Cities and whole thing finished somewhat more than a day ahead of schedule! Or it might mean that given the evening meetings I have this week, sleeve 1 will be finished Tuesday, but sleeve 2 won't be finished until the drive Friday, leaving seams and such for sometime Saturday/Sunday between wedding stuff.

18 February 2006

Baby otters!

It's a bright sunshiney day!

(The thermometer is notorious wrong - it gets direct sunlight on sunny days from the back so it's always high. The actually temperature here is a Minnesota-wintery 2 below zero and I'm told the windchill is supposed to be in the 20 below range.)

And the birds have finally found my feeders again (I neglected to fill them regularly for the last several months and was lamenting to my mother the other night that now that I was paying attention to them again, they were shunning me).

I have decide to spend today curled up in my comfy PJs with some coffee, a fuzzy blanket (handmade by Jess!), a little black pig curled up at my feet, watching the Olympics (cross country ski relay at the moment) and working on Fair Isle 101. I've reached the split for the front and back, so with the back stitches on some scratch yarn, today's the first time I've been able to uncrumple it enough to really check the size and see how the fair isle looks all spread out.

Size is good - a bit big, which means I'm likely to actually wear it comfortably. I notice the puckeriness less with it laid out like this, which gives me hope that blocking will, indeed, fix it.

The seam is still troublesome, though..

Goal for the weekend is to finish the body, which means the front gets finished today and the back tomorrow. At that point, the body gets blocked while I start working on the sleeves (tricksy, tricksy! I kept trying to figure out when next weekend I was going to be able to block once I got the sleeves finished since we'll be out of town for a wedding, and then it just occured to me that I can block the body while working on the sleeves! Clever knitter!) which will get finished Wednesday and Friday* if all goes to plan. That leaves Saturday and Sunday to attach sleeves and weave in ends. Eminently do-able. I think.

* This would be Tuesday and Thursday, but Monday is Rogue night and I don't want to fall behind! I think I should get to the part where I can attach the pocket to the body this week.

17 February 2006


I am finished with the Fair Isle portion of Fair Isle 101. I'll snap some pictures later and get them up. It's a bit puckery, but I think blocking will get rid of most of it. At the moment, I'm more concerned about the "seam" where all the color changes happened because it looks sloppy. Here's hoping weaving in the ends after blocking will tighten it up enough.

Worked from home yesterday because we got something around 8 inches of snow, at least 6 of which fell between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The roads were bad enough after the first 2 when we tried to drive in that we turned around half way to campus and headed home figuring they were only going to get far worse as the day progressed. All in all, though, it made for a lovely productive little day and I knocked off several things that had been looming. There are still things looming, but fewer of them and a couple hours today and a couple more over the weekend will hopefully knock those down as well.

I just realized that my lunch meeting (wherein a colleague working on her master's degree is buying me lunch in exchange for stats help re ANOVAs) rescheduling to Monday (due to a 3-year-old with the stomach flu - poor thing!) means I am suddenly without lunch. *sigh* Campus options are not all that exciting, but Jack will have the car so I can't really go out. Guess I'm going to order something in and hope they find my office in the maze of this building.

14 February 2006

"A tentative process.."

Knitting is a tentative process. At any point a firm tug on an unsecured piece of yarn could unravel the entire work. Because knitting uses no knots, every stitch is little more than a twisted and twined bit of yarn making up a simple tenuous web. - Zen and the Art of Knitting, by Bernadette Murphy, as quote in my KnitBits page-a-day calendar for February 11-12
I found that quote particularly appropriate as I started my very first fair isle project this weekend - with all those unsecured ends hanging about! - so thought I'd share.

Right then, lots to blog about; hopefully I won't lose too many of you in the process!

First, Miriam asked about Adamas: Did you like the pattern? Any suggestions? What yarn did you use?

Yes, I liked the finished pattern, but I have to admit that the center-out style was hard for me. I like rows to get shorter as I get farther into a project and the rows getting longer made the end seem like it would never come. But I do like the pattern and the shapes it makes, so in a few months once I forget my aversion to longer-toward-the-end rows, I will pr'bly try it (or another like it) again.

Suggestions.. hrm. This is only the second real lace piece I've done, so I'm not sure what to suggest. Patience? This is not mindless knitting - you have to pay attention to where you are. In addition to counting stitches on the right side rows, I learned that counting stitches on the wrong side helped me to pick up missed yarn overs before they became hard to find. That pr'bly saved me quite a bit of time ripping back as my most frequent mistake was missing a yarn over.

I used stitch markers as suggested in the pattern, but found it a little futzy to have to shift them after each repeat. Even with the futzy-factor, I'd still recommend using the stitch markers, though. Even as I neared the end, this pattern never really became intuitive for me - I could see what stitches needed to happen next without referencing the pattern sometimes, but really did have to have the pattern near to hand all the way through to the end.

As I mentioned earlier, I purposely tried to stay a little detached from this one as I knit it as it's a gift and I didn't want to be too torn at having to give it away!

Yarn was KnitPicks Shadow in the Lost Lake colorway. I'm not sure I'd use this yarn for a shawl like this again as the heatheryness of the yarn tends to get overlooked with the lace and to me, that's the attraction of this particular yarn. I think it something like Gossamer would complement this pattern a little better. And as I have a couple skeins of Gossamer in Blue Jeans, I might just find out once I'm through with the sweaters I'm working on at the moment!

Okay, moving on to the Knitting Olympics.. despite being a complete and utter idiot Friday and forgetting the pattern at home when we left to go out of town for a winter wonderland weekend at a friends' resort, and thanks to my knitting goddess guardian angel Kim who fielded the phone call from half a continent away to get me the information I needed to get working without the physical pattern (I had my little swatch, so I could figure out the chart, but needed to know how many stitches to cast on and what do to until I got to the part with the chart), I made enough progress this weekend to feel like I'll be able to finish the sweater by the end of the Olympics.

I'm still struggling a bit with the tension, but I think I'm more often erring on the side of being slightly too loose instead of slightly too tight (if you look at the yellow stitches in the top/will-be-middle band, you can see that they're too big and drown out the red stitches directly under/over them in places). But I'm learning. I figured out the two-handed thing in the car this morning which is making things go a little quicker, so I'm hoping to finish the colorwork by Thursday and then finish the body by next Monday.

And, at least so far, I'm really liking my alterations to the color scheme. It's earthy enough that I have no problem envisioning myself actually wearing the sweater, but also colorful and bright enough not to be ho-hum. Jack suggested that I repeat the colorwork chart on the sleeves, just before the wrists, and if I can figure out a point where that would work sufficiently well and have enough time when I get to that point, I might give it a go.

Photos show progress through yesterday, most of which was really done by Sunday because...

Monday is Rogue night! I finished the pocket last night and got almost finished with the first chart, but had to stop as it was getting late and I needed to go to bed.

The pocket picture is not at all color-true - the yarn is no where near that green! I like it so far, but am a bit worried about how well it will wear. I've only ever done felted slippers with Wool of the Andes and they tend to wear out pretty quickly. Granted, a sweater shouldn't go through the same abuse as slippers, but it still makes me a little nervous.

I'm hoping blocking will erase a multitude of sins when it comes to the cables (which you can't really see in the picture because it's a tad blurry - sorry!). I can see loose stitches from the longer crosses that really stand out to me now, but if I tug at the cable panel I can get most of them to behave, so I'm thinking blocking will work to even out most, if not all, of my inconsistencies.

There's another post in here brewing about some stuff I'm digging into as I learn how to be a good board member for Houston County Women's Resources, but I think that's quite enough for now.

09 February 2006

C is also for Cables and Colorwork..

Since it works with the knitting I've been doing lately, I figured a bonus ABC entry was in order.

I started Rogue this week and got the bias hem finished Tuesday night and then needed to get different needles to continue with the body. I worked on it more Wednesday night and got through the first 13 pattern rows and started on the kangaroo pocket. The interesting part at the moment is just the side cable, which you can start to see:

I don't think I like the charts for the cables, but now that they're started I can read where they're going well enough from the finished fabric that it's not so bad. Some of the crosses have a loose end stitch, but blocking should fix that once it's finished.

And tonight I swatched for my very first attempt at Fair Isle, in "training" for the Knitting Olympics (starts tomorrow at 2 p.m.!). I chose a different color scheme than the original pattern, and I rather like how it's going to look.

You can't really tell the light brown from the yellow in the picture. The yellow is in the two rows around the middle and in the top (which is really the center of the pattern - I decided not to repeat the bottom block as it's just shifted for the top). I wasn't sure how I'd like the orange in it, but like it in the pattern.

I'm going to have to figure out whether I want to carry the yarn up the inside or just cut and weave in more ends. I'm at least going to cut ends between the two pattern blocks - it's just too far to carry that much yarn up the side over the center stripe.

I think I'm going to have to cut strands anytime I carry the yarn more than a couple rows, though, or I'm going to have too many strands hanging off the finished work for this to be at all manageable.

My floats, while a bit tight (which I expected - I tried to do this as an inside out tube, but that was really fiddly on double points), aren't too messy, which is good to know.

It will be easier to knit this as an inside out tube on a 24 inch circular, though, so I imagine that the little bit of snugness can be accomodated for more easily. My gauge is also a bit too tight, but again, I suspect that it will be easier to keep things loose on a circ.

The socks I started Sunday are almost finished as well. I managed to make siblings, though, rather than twins - there's two extra stitches in the ankle on the second one. I decreased two extra stitches in the gussett so the foot will be the same circumference and the toes the same length, and I doubt anyone will ever notice unless I point it out, so I'm not really worried about it. Considering it's the first pair I've made without even referencing a pattern, I'll consider it a success. I'll finish the second sock in the car tomorrow on the way up north - even if it means I get a slightly later start on the Knitting Olympics!

C is for..

This one took me awhile, but when I hit on one it was an immediate winner.

C is for grandma's Cuckoo Clock:

Yes, it's just like millions of others out there, just some brown painted wood cut out and stuck to a box, but it was still worth paying something in the neighborhood of $200 some four or five years ago to have it restored to working order. See, this particular clock was purchased for my grandmother by either my father or my aunt (I've never gotten a straight answer on that one) while they were in Germany. It hung in Grandma's house from sometime in the 1960's until she had to move into an assisted living center after Grandpa died.

Grandma started developing symptoms of mild Alzheimer's just after I left home to go to college. Sometime while I was at school, they moved her out of the home her children had all been born in and packed up the stacks and stacks of shoe boxes full of buttons and fabric scraps and plastic bags and kept what was worth keeping and donated or sold or otherwise destroyed the rest. At that point, dad took possession of the cuckoo clock in my name, knowing that I'd always like it and it's tie back to him (or my aunt) and Germany (where my father served during the Vietnam conflict) and grandma.

As I progressed through college - in upstate New York, half a continent away from home and grandma - it became apparent that grandma's memory was failing severly. She saw my sister more often than me and would usually remember her, but toward the end thought that my sister was one of her daughters rather than one of her granddaughters. I saw her a couple times when I would come home, but when it became clear that she didn't remember me, I decided more or less consciously that I wanted to remember her as she was when I was growing up - shooing us away from the string beans in the garden, or playing cards in the kitchen, or finding vases for the bouquets of johnny-jump-ups we'd proudly deliver to her after returning from the park - and stopped going to visit when I was in town.

By the time I got the clock from dad after I graduated, the chains had rusted and the internal mechanisms of the clock were damaged so badly it wouldn't move. I brought it into a clock shop in SeaTac, WA where the proprietor told me flat out that it wasn't worth saving unless it had sentimental value. I assured him it did and three weeks later, I picked it up, with new chains and in good working order. She would never know, and her own body and mind could not be so easily repaired, but I could have the clock fixed so I could hear it every day and be reminded of her.

Grandma died a year or two ago. I never have regretted not going to visit her more toward the end - it was easier on both of us (it upset her to the very end to know that she should know things but didn't remember them; if I could spare her the mental anguish of being reminded that she *should* know who I am, that at least was something).

And the cuckoo clock hangs in our home in the living room. The bird stays "caged" more often than not - it dosn't have a light sensor or anything on it so if we forget to cage it before going to bed, we wake up to it every half hour throughout the night so it tends to just stay caged all the time - but the tick-tock is an everpresent (if often unconscious) reminder of family and home.

07 February 2006

Fits and starts.

The yarn for my Rogue arrived today so I sat down to start it tonight. I did the bias hem option on US 4 needles and then went to dig through my needles to find US 6 circs (fearing all the while that US 6's are going to be too large - I apparently tend to knit loose and going up two full needle sizes when my gauge is only half a stitch off in the bias hem part is a little nervewracking).. and .. the pair that I thought were US 6's ended up being US 8's and only 16 inches anyway. Hmph. So I had to stop and tomorrow I'll need to run out and get some US 5 circs (and I might grab some 6's while I'm at it) so I can start the actual pattern part.

I also need to swatch for Fair Isle 101, but the yarn hits gauge on US 5's, so I imagine I will be find on US 4's. I'll find out more or less for sure tomorrow or the next day, though, certainly before I leave for the weekend (and spend 6 hours in a car working on said sweater). Which reminds me that I should look for my two missing US 4 DPNs, or just get a set of those tomorrow, too.

In the meantime, I'm working on the sock I started Sunday and half listening to A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

06 February 2006

Signs of Monday.

It's a Monday. This is how I know:

  • I woke up late. I thought it was 6:30, only to discover it was 7:30.

  • That meant I didn't get a chance to shower. Not that I needed to, having showered yesterday late afternoon after finishing Adamas* before heading out for the Super Bowl party, but I would have liked to have gotten a chance to wash the smoke from the half dozen smokers at said Super Bowl party out of my hair.

  • I forgot the coffee scoop at home, which means I had to guesstimate how much grounds to use to make my coffee.

  • In trying to be kind to my office plants, I remembered to water them this morning only to have the one on my filing cabinet by my desk tell me it was quite full already, thank you, and dribble water into a stack of files that undoubtedly contain the Question to Life the Universe and Everything, now smudged beyond recognition.

  • Due to various "this will only take a minute" tasks, it's after 10 and I'm just now getting my first cup of coffee. Here's hoping it's not too bloody strong. At least, I think here's hoping.

* Yes, it's finished and blocked and lovely. The left edge is folded under in the pictures and there's a funny not-laying-flat bit, but that's because I folded it to bring it into work to get pictures today while the bright sunshine is out. The third picture is the most color true, but it really doesn't capture the heatheryness of the yarn very well. I need to weave in the ends still, but otherwise it's ready to go in the mail.

In the end, I don't like it as much as my Birch, but that could very easily be because I knew not to get attached to it from the beginning because I wouldn't be keeping it.

And in answer to the question of what to knit during the Super Bowl, I settled on starting a pair of socks.

So far I rather like it. *smile* There will hopefully be a pair by the end of the week.

Tonight, hopefully, Rogue begins. Tomorrow I'll swatch for Fair Isle 101. And there's a C entry coming sometime in the next day or two as well.

04 February 2006


I'm half way through the 15th repeat. One and a half to go! And then the edging. But since today is a lazy stay at home and listen to audiobooks day (we're about 11 hours into The Time Traveler's Wife, though that's not all from today!), it's possible that it will actually get finished today. Which means blocked tonight or tomorrow morning which means pictures soon. And then it will be all ready to get scrunched back up and stuffed in a suitable package to be mailed since I won't likely see the recipient at this point until April or so.

And that leaves me trying to decide if I want to try to swatch for Fair Isle 101 during a Super Bowl party tomorrow, or try to spin (amidst kids and boisterous fans.. not likely to be safe), or continue working on the Lily tank, or try to start a pair of socks or the scarfy bit that I wanted to make with the Mountain Colors yarn.

Oh, and in a fit of impulsiveness, I've joined a small knit-along for Rogue with a couple friends. The deal is that we'll only work on it Monday evenings, so I figure I can make time even during the Olympics to work on it. I ordered yarn for it Wednesday or Thursday, so here's hoping it will arrive Monday so I can start it with the rest of the group. After months of indecision on the yarn, and after just dropping a fair amount to get the yarn for Fair Isle 101, I decided to go with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Evergreen. I don't have a dark green sweater and it's a color I really like, so it was a fairly logical choice. Progress pictures will get posted every week so I can keep the others (who all see each other in person Monday evenings) informed of my progress.

02 February 2006

An oldie..

In keeping with the theme going around "blogland", as invited by Grace's Poppies, I bring you one of mine from awhile back.


I want to drink my freedom like
from the hands and bodies and mouths of
other people, not lock it in a cask to
age and turn rancid. I haven't yet held
the body
I would forsake all other bodies for, haven't drank
the nectar
of a flower that would make all other flowers seem
pale and limp
by comparison. My skin hasn't been
caressed by the
eyes and voice
that I would feel

I want to be kissed by the
suns first rays
as I lay down to go to sleep, I want to keep
the moon
in her solitary guard company. I want to
dance in the rain
with only my hair and arms and those of others to
clothe me. I want to be the colors of the
at all.

I want to walk barefoot through the
alkaline flats of the desert and
burn. I want to
wake up,
a stranger in a strange land,
to learn as I did as a child, to be
I want to swim in waters the
color of my eyes
and drink wine like
I want to dive into waterfalls and
land in the trees. I want to be
bruised and battered,
to be in pain so that I know

I want to be
I want to form my life again and
again from the
raw clay of my soul.
I want my eyes to burn with tears.
I want to know the smalls of my lovers' backs,
the hollows of their hips,
the points of their jaws,
the backs of their knees,
the palm of their hands.

I want to be held in the strength of a
hurricane and ripped apart by
tornadoes. I want to know
and make her a friend and a lover,
she'll leave when I need her most.
I want to make love to a bank of moss,

I want to pass
in a crowded room.
I want to jump double dutch,
weaving in and out.
I want to know the untouchables,
learn their stories, drink their tears and
bask in their

I want to march to my own drum beat and
dance to no one's music save that of the
pounding of my heart and the

(c) 2000, Teri Lyn Hinds

"Ambrosia" was written in the summer of 2000. It was a reaction to the contradiction between where I was at that point in my life and where several of my friends were. It's worth noting that I lied when I wrote this one, even though I didn't know it then.

Noch immer weider

I have 11 repeats of Adamas finished. Five more to go. And the rows get longer and longer.. I normally don't try to time myself, but with an approximately-30-minute commute, it's sometimes unavoidable. I can do two rows in the half hour it takes to go from work to home or vice versa. And because I'm a statistician, I can't, despite *really*REALLY* trying not to, not do the math to figure out that there are ten rows per repeat, or 50 rows left to go (plus the edging), which means I have another *12 and a half hours* of knitting time until I can expect to be finished.

And then I realize that that means it's taking me two and a half hours to do a repeat now and I think "That *can't* be right", except that with the hour in the car and the hour over lunch, and at least an hour at home, I realize it pr'bly really is. *mutters something about damn well better be appreciated*

I'm a little concerned that it's going to be smaller than I want because I'm not finished with the first skein and the pattern calls for 2. It's undoubted that I'll need at least some of the second skein, but certainly not all of it, nowhere near, in fact. I did, granted, use a size smaller needle (US 4 instead of US 5) because when I did Birch it was *huge* (I love it that way, don't get me wrong; just thought I'd try for more moderate for this one). And because it's knit middle out, I can't really pull it all out all the way to see how big it's getting to be. I can pull the middle down and it looks like it will be long enough, but not as long as my Birch. Here's hoping.

I'm ahead of schedule, all the same, so that's pr'bly okay. I have seven days until I need to start Fair Isle 101 for the Knitting Olympics and am still managing to get at least a full pattern repeat done each day, so if I keep up at at least that pace, I'll be finished no later than Monday or Tuesday. And with that silly football thing on Sunday, it's possible I'll be done even sooner. Which gives me most of next week to swatch. All good.

(I wonder if I can also get a pair of socks done..? Ohh.. nono.. spinning. I shall spin with the "spare" time. *makes note to figure out if one can ply on a drop spindle*)

Somewhere in my crazed little head is the idea of needing to do another of these (at least.. so far I've had requests for two more, but I'm not sure how serious the second one is). And a saner part of my little head says I need to find another pattern that starts at the long end and decreases to the point, like Birch. I'm definitely not likely the longer and longer rows at the *end*.

And the part of my head that likes to think it's sanest of all says, yeah right, maybe in June.