Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Vintage knitting

Vintage knitting

I have recently begun to obsess, panic, evaluate, whatever, my stash. Some of it is so old that it truly qualifies as vintage. Some of it I don't even recognize. I'm really determined to use stash as often as possible for just about anything that comes along. I used some for my Dulaan projects and have managed to empty two small boxes.

This is the Fern Lace Wrap from the first Box of Scarves patterns. I came across this yarn one day when I went out on the balcony to water my plants. It's a yarn from Crystal Palace called Helena. Cotton and viscose. I thought I had just enough for this wrap. I later found another bag of the same yarn in a different color. I've not idea where I got it or when. But it's easy to work with and really shows off the stitches. (You'd be able to see them if I could get a decent picture. I can't believe I dug out my tripod and everything and still got this lousy image.)

I started this wrap a few weeks ago but put it aside to do some other projects. I picked it up on Sunday and worked about six rows before I realized I wasn't on track. It wasn't all that hard to correct but I did lose all that time. Anyway, I got about six inches done yesterday before I got sidetracked on another project. That one, which I expect to finish this evening, is another scarf from the Box and uses a couple or yarns that I've had for at least ten years. I'm going to have a lot left over so it will probably become another scarf. I suppose I could just donate it but I have a really hard time doing that. I don't mind giving away finished things but I really want to do the knitting part.

And I found another project today that will use the Cascade Sierra I've had for about three years. That was supposed to be a sweater for me but I don't like the pattern anymore.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Flash finish

Flash finish

I'm pretty pleased with myself. I started and finished this shawl all in one week. The final size is something like 90" wide and 35" deep. Of course I didn't get very much of anything else done.

The colors are more than a little off. The magenta and yellow are much brighter and the turquoise is clearer. Ann Mary has changed the way she originally draped the shawl, several times.

I think we're sold out on this colorway. But there are some others available. Just not quite so circus.

Now that this shawl is done I've started a small handbag using a kit from Habu Textiles. This is the first time I've used one of their patterns or any of their yarn. At first I thought the pattern made no sense but once I got over myself I realized that it's pretty logical. I don't know how like regular Japanese patterns this one is though. The text is in English so that's a help.

I'm using two yarns held together. One is viscose paper linen and the other is a nubby silk. I ripped about four inches of my first effort as the gauge, which the pattern says isn't terribly important, kept changing radically. So I went down two needle sizes. The gauge is still shifting as I go but not quite so much. But the pattern does say that the handbag is a living thing and will change sizes depending on climatic conditions. That's a new one.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Getting to the end

Getting to the end

Well, I had thought that I would finish the latest shop project today. It's been a pretty slow week and I did get to spend a lot of time on it yesterday. Today was a different story. I did exactly one stitch and then it got busy. I was an hour late leaving. So maybe tonight I'll get a lot done but I'm pretty sure I won't finish.

But it's a long weekend. Not for me, of course. We're always closed on Monday so the holiday doesn't matter. But lots of more fortunate folks will be going away. The main freeway going through Pasadena was already jammed with RVs and camper shells and a few boats by early this morning. So I'm not expecting much store traffic tomorrow. However, you never can tell.

And I'm almost at the end of the hat I'm making for the Dulaan project. I'd like to get all that stuff shipped off next week, or the following at the latest. I have to check to see when the next shipment date is since I'm not going to have time to finish the red sweater.

I heard that Stitch In Time, in San Marino, is having a yarn sale starting next Wednesday. 25% off. I have to be at Skein at eleven but I think I can squeeze in an hour beforehand. I haven't bought any yarn for at least a month. You can imagine the pressure that must be building. I don't need any yarn but I sure need a yarn buying fix. Maybe a couple of sock yarns would do it.

I took the curly mohair to my Thursday night group. They were all suitably impressed and envious. Least likely to happen suggestion: dreadlocks. How rude! Besides, I have nothing to attach them to.

Anyway, it's the end of the week and I'm happy about it. Hope you all have a great holiday and take a moment to remember what the day is really all about.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Curly mohair

Curly mohair

Not one of the Three Stooges. It's actually yarn. Beautiful, lush, handspun, hand dyed and all that. And sent to me all the way from back East, as we say out here. Picked up at MSWF by a friend who saw it and knew I would love it. If only I could capture its multi-hued orangeness.

I keep thinking "Shirley Temple on a bad hair day" but in a good way. I mean it's just so curly and twisty and at the same time has these soft, fuzzy areas that make the curls just pop. Exuberant! There's a warning label that mohair may contain vegetable matter. We all know that it's not just straw they're talking about. I don't see any.

Patrick isn't quite as excited about the yarn as I am. He much preferred the fragrance of the oatmeal/lavender soap that was in the same package. A big, generous bar! I'm torn between using it and saving it just for its scent. Although I was promised a resupply when I need it.

This package was waiting for me when I got home from that tedious meeting that I mentioned yesterday. What a way to forget all that bother! I'm going to show it off tonight at my knitting group. They're gonna love it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Rare day

Rare day

Do you ever look for meaning in meaningless things? I try not to but sometimes I just can't help it. Today is one of those increasingly rare days when my computer booted up the first time I tried and I haven't been blue-screened even once. Now that's a good sign if ever there was one.

I sure hope so. I'm not going to be at Skein tonight even though it's my normal evening. I have to go to a Home Owners Association meeting. I can think of at least two people who will probably come in for a lesson. And I won't be there. I don't like it when people are disappointed but I have no way of contacting those people. And who knows? Maybe they weren't planning to come in.

And it really gripes me that I have to go to this meeting. All because of one contentious person. We should have been able to conclude all our business last month
but this person insisted on having his way and causing such a fuss that we had to schedule yet another useless meeting.

And it also means I won't be able to do much, if any, knitting tonight. Major bummer! I really want to finish that new shawl so I can get back to some serious knitting.

So anyway. I'm hoping that my computer's benign behavior augers for a good day and that I'll get a lot of knitting done during the day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Not my kind of thing

Not my kind of thing

This is the current shop sample project. I'm using Karabella New Magic. It's a kind of half rail yarn with some gold metallic thrown in for good measure. Garter stitch with M1 increases at the beginning and end of every row. As Ann Mary pointed out, it's not my kind of thing. It's definitely flashy and gets lots of attention though. It looks more like a multi-flavored popsicle than anything else I can think of.

Actually that's all that's new around here. There was a power outage of some kind today. I wouldn't have even noticed except my answering machine was flashing in an odd sort of way. After I finally found the manual and the list of things that might be wrong I concluded that a power outage was the most likely thing. Sure enough, once I started looking, everything that could flash was. So, since I was already dealing with things electronic, I changed the batteries which have been low for a long time. I hate having to learn new things like this. But I managed and now I know how really simple it is. Even re-recording my message was easy, once I read the instructions a second time and saw what I was doing wrong. Now I just have to wait for someone to call so I'll know if it's really working.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mostly knitting stuff

Mostly knitting stuff

Here it is, the beginning of another week. And I actually have a couple of things finished.

Last summer Ann Mary, bless her little controlling heart, gave Lisa this scarf kit for her birthday. It was her plan that Lisa would want to learn to knit and that this was the perfect project for her debut. What AM doesn't get is that Lisa doesn't want, or ever intend, to learn to knit.

Anyway. This is probably scarf zero. The one that got the whole scarf rage going. You've probably seen their slightly titillating ads in some of the knitting ads. (Actually the ad is a throwback to a much older ad for Russian Leather cologne but you're probably not old enough to remember that.) You get a couple of skeins of yarn and some basic instructions. There's a strand of Victoria, the ribbon, and a strand of 100% angora, the fuzzy stuff. AM is always telling people that it's a two hour project. Well, it took about two and half hours to knit plus another half hour for the fringe so I guess if you were really fast you could do it in a couple of hours. I'm not that fast.

Lisa liked the scarf but since it was 95F here at six o'clock last night she decided she'd leave it with me so I could take a picture of it.

I also finished the mittens for the Dulaan project.

They're nothing special but aren't they cute? I've started a hat from the same yarn and I'll still have a couple of skeins left. Not enough for a scarf but maybe I'll combine it with something and make another sweater. I sure hope whoever gets these pieces isn't allergic to cats. Patrick is contributing lots of his fur to this project. He just wants to be a part of everything.

( I hope the pictures show up. Blogger is being a little iffy this morning.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Warm weather mittens

Warm weather mittens

Mitten number one is done and the second one is started. It seems odd to be making mittens when the outside temperatures are running in the high eighties, and expected to go higher tomorrow and through the weekend. I really don't like this time of year, well the weather anyway. There is a monotony to it that is much harder for me to take than the long stretches of winter rain and overcast.

But about the mitten. I'm using a pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. It's one of those books that gives you step by step instructions for different gauges and a wide range of sizes. A lot of Ann Norling's patterns are set up the same way. I find I have to be careful to follow the right column and gauge. I don't, as a rule, write in my pattern books and magazines. I'd make a copy but my scanner doesn't work anymore and I'm too lazy to go to Kinko's. So I have to be careful. So far I've only had to back up once on this pattern. I think the thumb is too long but I made it exactly like the pattern and I don't have a six year old available to try it on.

A fun day at Skein. Three quarters of the Monrovia Mom's came in for a couple of hours. There were socks to be examined, and praised. I got them started last week and was planning to cover heel flaps and turning the heel today. They had already done it, using their pattern and some online tutorials. I helped one get started on her attached I-cord for the felted bag she's making. And we practiced a couple of different cast-on methods. Other than that it was laughing and joking and eye-rolling. One of the things I like about this group is their willingness to try different things.

Patrick, my cat, likes the heat even less than I do. He spends most of his time sleeping, well he did that anyway, but now he stretches out on the tile instead of on a chair. And he does not want to play, except around eleven at night. And even then his interest fades pretty quickly. For which I'm thankful.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Free" night

"Free night"

Our Thursday night knitting group is not meeting this week so I have an extra night at home. I miss not going. Especially since I rarely get to see any of that group except on Thursday. But I will be knitting.

I started a pair of mittens last night using some of the yarn left from the sweater. I'm just about to put the thumb stitches on a string and to knit the hand. I couldn't find the dpns that I wanted to use. I know they're here somewhere but they're probably in some mittens I started a few years ago. So I'm working a DK weight yarn on size 3US. They'll be a lot warmer, that's for sure. And I think that's the whole point of the Dulaan project.

I've only been working on the 2nd Time Cotton top while I'm at Skein so the progress is less than I would like but there is progress. I had to start over because of yarn problems but I'm almost back to where I was when I restarted. The weather has suddenly taken a turn for summer so I need to get this one done.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Long day

Long day

Even though I've been doing it for a while I'm still not used to working a nine hour day on Wednesday and getting home close to 8:30 in the evening. By the time I get organized, have dinner and check email it's an hour later. And I still have to play with the cat.

Yesterday I was very busy at Skein but today there were only a couple of students. A friend came in to knit for a while and she brought me some home made pickled jalapeƱos. I can tell you this much. I won't need any decongestant for a while. And Ann Mary sent me home with a couple of apricot rugulas. Fresh and delicious!

In a total non sequitur, here's the Dulaan child's sweater I've been working on. Unblocked and underexposed. I used some Sirdar Country Style Tweed that I've had in stash for ten or so years. The pattern is from Ann Norling and is a basic top down raglan. Worked on a size 6US in the round.

I have three skeins of this yarn left over so I think I'll try some simple mittens and maybe a hot or two. I'm still working a bit at a time on the red cotton version of the sweater. I may not finish it in time for the July 1st shipment but I'll have for the next one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Really big

Really big

Yarn. Look at what I got in the mail.

Remember, a few months ago, when Stephanie organized the fund raiser for the tsunami victims? And lots and lots of kindly folks sent contributions? Well, little did I know, or perhaps notice, that there were rewards for doing this. This is the yarn that I received for being a part of that enterprise.

Susie, in Virginia, sent me six skeins of Schulana Bando. It's a bit darker in real life than the photo shows. What's really spectacular about it is that it works on a 20mm (US35) needles at 7 stitches to 10cm (4"). It's a blend of merino, acrylic and nylon. The ribbon is 20cm (3/4") wide and 25m (27yds)long. I haven't thought much about what I'm going to do with it. Most likely a shawlette or scarf. But I'll have to see. Thanks, Susie.

I didn't quite finish the Dulaan project sweater yesterday. I still have to pick up stitches for the neckband. I would have stayed up to finish it but actually I was too disappointed in how it looked. Everything looks good except the 1X1 ribbing. It sort of biases, probably because it was knit in the round. I'm sure it will look okay when it's worn and will keep someone warm but still it's a little loving hands at home looking. Maybe it will block straight. And maybe I'll have a photo tomorrow.

I had such a nice relaxing three day weekend that it was tough to get back into the swing of things. But it was a good day. Well, for me anyway. Almost everyone had a problem that needed some help. Unfortunately, we're still looking for the source of that extra stitch on one project. It's really critical as it's a drop stitch pattern and if you don't have everything lined up just right the drops will go through the cast on instead of being stopped by the yarn over at the beginning. Maybe you just had to be there.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sticking to my knitting

Sticking to my knitting

Literally. Yesterday it was in the mid eighties and humid to boot. I'm working on a child's sweater right now that has a bit of wool in it and the sweater is just big enough to cover most of my lap. And it makes for some sticky hands. I'm thankful that it's much cooler today because I'm almost done and I hope today's the day.

I've pretty much decided that I don't like the look of top down raglans. Plus the sleeves, which were worked in the round on dpns, look slightly different from the yoke and body which were worked on Addi turbos. It's subtle but it's there. I'm going to convert the pattern to be in the round from the bottom up and will probably work the sleeves flat. If that doesn't work I'll just stick to knitting in pieces and sew.

I meant to spend some time organizing and documenting my stash this weekend. The more I thought about it the more I realized that that would be depressing and would probably distract me from my current project which is only one of several that I need to finish and ship off before the middle of next month. So I decided to just stick to my knitting and leave the stash undisturbed for a while longer.

Friday, May 13, 2005



I've been away. Not Paris, Phoenix or Palm Springs kind of away. Just away. I'm still sort of away but I'm coming back. It's just that sometimes more of the same is just that and it's not easy to write when everything is just the same.

There has been progress on some of my projects, but not PROGRESS. Worked on some socks, did a bit on the multi-directional scarf and the latest Dulaan sweater is at the point of adding the sleeves.

My student load has been good this week. Sometimes very good. Except for the one schizophrenic that comes in and disrupts not only the students but everyone else in the store. It's hard to know how to handle this kind of situation. Especially when you can't hear both sides of the conversation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Down for maintenance

Down for maintenance

When I got home today and sat down to open Blogger, I got a screen that said "Down for maintenance." I wish I could do that. And I do have to do something like that. I need to cut back on my knitting and/or take more frequent breaks. Like every fifteen minutes or so. My arms are much better for having done very little knitting yesterday and, so far, today.

I could also use a sign that says "Take a number." Ann Mary always makes a big deal about having a teacher and drop-in classes. And I really appreciate that. What is a problem though is when everyone does drop in, at the same time. It was pretty slow most of today. Even our usual Tuesday lunchtime crowd didn't show. But around the middle of the afternoon we got very busy and three students showed up, all within about fifteen minutes of each other. One brand new and two with problems. I did have one other student in the morning. Actually she just needed me to fix her railroad yarn scarf. But when she started working on it I noticed that she purled combination style but made her knit stitches western. So we got that fixed as well.

I've been re-reading Annie Modesitt's Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. It's been very helpful. I don't think I would have spotted the problem my morning student was having if I hadn't been working through some of the same issues with other students, ones who learned to knit in Mexico or some of the eastern Mediterranean countries. I'm still sorting through some of the changes that need to be made when knitting combination and using a pattern written for western style. I'm even considering switching to combination as Annie says it's easier on the wrists.

Anyway, it ended up being a pretty good day for me and for Skein.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Knitting cotton

Knitting cotton

Oy! the pain! It does seem that almost every day there's some new ache or pain associated with either my age or my knitting. This one is new to me. My upper arm on both sides is sore and feels like I've been working out and using muscles that have lain dormant for many years. I'm pretty sure it's from knitting cotton for several hours at a stretch over the past few days.

I worked on the 2nd Time Cotton top for about three hours on Friday night. Half way through the second skein I noticed a big difference in how the stitches looked. I hadn't noticed before because I was so wrapped up in making progress. I took the work to Skein to show to Ann Mary before I ripped it out. I re-wound the skein from the opposite end. It made no difference. I looked at the other three skeins and they all seemed to be like the one I had just ripped out. So I'm concluding that the first skein was the aberration.

I was too busy on Saturday to get much done. Basically I just cast on and worked three or four rows. I tried to get a bit more done in the evening but I was too tired and a little depressed about having to start over. Meanwhile, I've been thinking about getting some more knitting done for the Dulaan project. I think I'm seriously behind here. So I cast on for a top down child's pullover using some Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton that I've had in stash for a couple of years.

It was at this point that I began to notice the pain in my upper arms. But I kept going for a couple of hours. Stopped for a nap and then continued for another two or three hours. It's not unusual for me to knit that long at a stretch but I'm rarely working with cotton although it's one of my favorites. It was time to stop for the day and get ready to go to dinner on the other side of LA.

By the time I got home I was really feeling the pain. It has subsided a lot overnight but it's still there. I'm pretty sure it was caused by knitting with cotton which although nice to work with requires a slightly more aggressive handling of the knitting. I've heard of and read that some people find kntting with cotton causes them pain. So I'm going with this for now.

This is really bad timing since today is one of my days off and I would like to continue on the two projects. I think I need to let my arms and hands rest for a while. I'm going to try working with a softer fiber and see what it feels like. I do have a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day which will take about three hours so there won't be any marathon going on. Or maybe there won't be any if it hurts when I start.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The second time

The second time

Here's my progress to date on the 2nd Time Cotton top. For those of you with really good eyes there is a checkerboard border of St st and seed stitch across the bottom edge. The rest of you will just have to take my word for it. I'm really surprised at how easy it is to work with this yarn. I had expected it to split like anything but so far that is not happening. I don't know if this is a true marl yarn or not. There are four plies, each one a distinct color, that are evenly twisted to make a tweedy looking fabric when knit. But I'm happy with how it looks so far.

I forgot one of my needles when I took the sweater to Skein so I borrowed one from Ann Mary. I stopped at home on my way to Mendy's last night to get the second needle. I got distracted and forgot the needle again so I borrowed one from Mendy. That's the second time. I also forgot my pattern and my box of knitting tools when I left Mendy's but she caught me in time. I hope this isn't going to become a permanent part of my repertoire.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Dark before the rain

Dark before the rain

It's dark here. Five o'clock in the morning dark. Even though it's already eight thirty. More than one person has commented about how odd the weather is this year, at least for Southern California. It's not supposed to be raining this late in the year but it is. Maybe we'll break the record for most precipitation in a single year. It's going to be very close and if the thunderstoms predicted for today actually materialize we should be good for the gold.

But all this rain and gloom does not make for good picture taking. And I don't have a lot to photo anyway so I'll just wait until I finish something. Like the second of the current plain ol' sock. I finished the first one on Wednesday morning. That's the quickest I've ever made a sock. Started on Monday and finished on Wednesday, all in the same week. I have cast on for the second one. I'm not superstitious but why take risks. I read somewhere that it's bad luck to not start the second sock immediately after you finish the first one. So don't finish a sock if you don't have time to start the second one as soon as you've woven in the ends of the first one.

I do have a second pair of socks in the works, the Swizzles that I started a few weeks ago. I'm about half way through the gusset of the second sock. I was sort of saving this for teaching heels but no one showed up that was interested in making socks so I just spent part of yesterday working on it. Didn't make much progress as I was super busy for most of the day. And that was without the Monrovia Moms. No, they didn't show at all. Maybe Friday.

Skein has some Second Time Cotton from K1C2. I've been wanting to do something with this yarn ever since it came in. I have to say it's not moving off the shelves very rapidly. I think only one person has bought any and that was just a couple of days ago. Anyway. I like the idea behind the yarn. Recycling cotton fiber that didn't make it through the first cycle. I think it would be considered "virgin" if things were still labeled that way because it's never been used. I have noticed that when I'm knitting at Skein and people get to see how a yarn looks once it's worked up that sales pick up. I'm making a summer top for Lisa but I will work on it at Skein and see if that gets more attention for the yarn. Not enough progress yet to photo. Plus, there's the dark and rain I mentioned above.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I got RAOKed!

I got RAOKed!

And it feels so good. Some really nice, large, ring markers and a now defunct bar of Godiva chocolate. Bob in Cincinnati sent these along. (And, Bob, they're not quite big enough for a 35US needle. Close but not quite. I noticed you were wondering.) Bob makes these markers and I gather is working on some other products that he'll be retailing through his LYS. He has lots of pictures of other styles on his blog. Scroll down a ways. Thanks a bunch, Bob.

The week is off to a good start at Skein. We were very busy during the lunch hour and through the afternoon. I had four students that I spent most of the afternoon with. I really enjoy watching all these students who come from so many different backgrounds interact with one another.

I didn't have much time to work on my new sock but I'll be able to finish it tonight, I think.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Shrug it off

Shrug it off

It all started because Alissa mentioned that she was going to make a shrug and was going to use one of the patterns that can be downloaded from Interweave. So, I thought, that's a good idea and should go pretty quickly. I also thought it would be a good thing for Lisa to wear in her air conditioned office.

I have some Classic Elite Poet. I've had it a long time and it looked like it had the appropriate gauge etc. that would be perfect for the shrug that I'd chosen. It wasn't. After a few hours of knitting the long, long rows for the sleeve ruffle, and starting the sleeve itself, it became painfully apparent that the yarn was way too heavy and the gauge was just not a match. So, that yarn has been rewound and is still waiting for the right project. And besides. Lisa says she doesn't really need a shrug for her office.

I really want to make a shrug though so I'm searching the stash for the right yarn for one of the other patterns, or maybe the same one. I have lots of choices so something should work out.

Since I couldn't make the shrug I cast on for the Conwy socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road. I'm using some Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton Multiringel. I didn't think to check the yardage requirements or gauge. I've tried to make this particular pattern before. It's pretty easy and straight forward. The first time I tried it I ripped it out because the yarn was too dark for the cable pattern. This time I ripped it out because the yarn is too heavy and I don't think there's quite enough yardage. So I'm making a plain ol' pair that will probably be better anyway given the self-striping nature of the cotton yarn.

I'm going to work on the socks until it's time to go pick up my car. It's been a couple of weeks since I have had to go see the mechanic. This time it's not the motor or anything vital like that. One of the door locks quit working yesterday. I had to tie it closed, using my belt, so that I could drive home from the market. The lock has to be special ordered and won't be in for a couple of days. So the mechanic is fixing the current lock at least to the point that the door can be closed. I hope I remember not to open it until the new lock is installed.