Thursday, June 30, 2005

Almost, but not quite

Almost, but not quite.

Another inch to go and I will have finished the knitting part of the shrug. I was almost finished tonight but we had to stop for birthday cake for Mendy. And some champagne. And then there was the candle melting all over the place, including my bag but not my knitting. So maybe I'll finish tomorrow at Skein and sew up the sides and underarms. And if I don't forget, like I did with the socks I knit for Mendy, I'll take a picture. Unless, of course, I don't finish or it doesn't fit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Too many projects?

Too many projects?

I started filling the new storage cubes. The one I'm working on now is holding some of my in progress projects. It's almost full. And these are just the ones that were sitting around my knitting chair. There's a whole other corner of the room that needs to be dealt with. That should be fun. All those things I've started and forgotten about. I'm sure some of them will be ripped and recycled. But until I see what's actually there I won't know which ones.

One of my friends read me a blurb from a book she's been reading. "When you can count the number of projects you have going you know it's time to start another one." Or something like that. I'm sure I could count the number of projects I have going but that would take too much time and totally disrupt my home. I don't mind knowing I have a lot of things in the works. I actually get a kick out of finding a project I've forgotten, in some cases, for years.

There was no time to knit at Skein yesterday. There was a yarn rep there when I arrived so that means that I cover the floor while AM gets to have all the fun, browsing and buying. I did get to see some of the new sock yarns that Skacel is offering this year. I'm not sure which ones AM settled on but I know she bought a lot. I've already started a special account so I can horde some more when it arrives in a few weeks.

Anyway. I had an all day sequence of students. One brand new knitter, two returnees and the rest were continuing on current projects. My five hour days are gradually expanding to six or seven hours. It's really cutting into my own knitting time.

I worked for about three hours last night on the new shrug. I'm more than halfway there but I'll really have to push if I'm going to finish by the weekend. I'm going to take it with me to Skein today even though it's not a shop project.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chicken feet and more

Chicken feet and more

Had dim sum on Sunday with three of my Chinese friends. It was amazing. The leftovers alone were enough for two very generous meals. Sadly though, there were no chicken feet left over.

I had never had chicken feet before, and probably won't ever again, so it was, ummm...interesting. Actually they taste like chicken. Surprise, surprise. I don't think it would be so bad if they didn't look so much like chicken feet. And there's even a protocol for eating them. Bite of a section, get as much meat off the bone as you can, spit the knuckles and bones back on your plate. Not your usual western style.

We had lots of different rolls, including some I've never heard of. And steamed buns of several kinds. One had a whole egg yolk inside that gushed out all over you if you didn't know what to expect.

Dim sum on a Sunday takes a long time. It's expected that you'll spend a couple of hours just nibbling and chatting while long lines wait outside the door. But it was fun to catch up with friends I hadn't seen since before last Thanksgiving.

Yesterday was home owners' association stuff. All day. On the phone, leaving messages, waiting for someone to call me back. Spending money to get things done. But it did leave some time for knitting.

I wasn't going to start anything new. But I did. I'm making a shrug. I got the pattern at Unwind a couple of weeks ago. The photo on the pattern is wrong. It's similar to the one I'm making but not the same. I wonder if they know that.

You can't tell much about it yet, and it's not so dreary as it looks in this photo. We're having a little hold-over June gloom today. I'm using some Tahki Chat that I've had in stash for a couple of years. Didn't know what I was going to do with it when I bought it. It's perfect for this shrug, and I think I have more than enough. The whole piece is K2, P2 ribbing which gets old pretty fast but on 10.5US needles it's moving along. I hope to be done before the weekend.

And I finished assembling the storage cubes that I got for Father's Day. I'm still trying to decide how to rearrange the furniture. And the cubes too. If I plan it right I'll be able to add two or three extra spaces. Patrick doesn't know what to make of it all. He's mostly frightened of the noise I make while putting them together. He's the original scardy cat.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Saturday morning

Saturday morning

Well, I had all these pictures that I took on my morning walk. Blogger has changed a bunch of stuff and I haven't figured out why I'm having trouble getting images to load. I really wish they wouldn't do that, change stuff, I mean. Just when I'm beginning to feel competent. So I have a few days of experimenting ahead.

I managed to get a lot done on the Habu bag yesterday. Only a couple of students. And last night I added a bunch to the eyelet rib scarf. Not a lot of excitement, I know. Going yarn shopping tomorrow though. That's exciting.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Practically zip OKC

Practically zip OKC

It's pretty difficult to have knitting content when there hasn't been much knitting to be content with. After my deadly dull Wednesday I wasn't expecting much yesterday. I was wrong. I had one student right after another all day long. That was nice, having them one at a time, instead of all together in one big mob. But it didn't allow for any wip handling by me. I might have done three rows on the Habu bag. That was it.

We did have knitting together last night though. I got the first triangle of a new multi-directional scarf finished. And some more rows done on my alpaca eyelet rib scarf. It was all kind of drudge work that has to be done before you can have holiday gifts ready in time. We also had a delicious apple pie and some equally delicious brownies.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Habu any wool?

Habu any wool?

No. That's not a manta ray that I'm knitting. It's the long drawn out handbag that I making for Skein using Habu's silk and linen paper yarns. I can't begin to tell you how slowly it's growing. I need some wool or cotton to get back my perspective. (I was going to say mojo. Everyone seems to be using that word but I'm not sure exactly how it's supposed to be used so I'm not going to say mojo.)

At first it was fun to work with these yarns. Then it got a little less interesting. Now it's just plain boring. Not the yarn but the working with it. Each stitch has to be consciously formed so that I don't lose one of the strands. I cannot get up much speed.

I usually only work on Skein projects while I'm there. I took this along yesterday thinking it would be good filler between students. Well, I worked on it almost without interruption for eight hours. I managed about four inches. It was a very slow, long day. I'm now back to the narrow part that's going to become the handle of the bag. Looks like a few more days before I'll be steaming and blocking before assembly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Father's Day, part two

Father's Day, part two

I've been wanting some of these for a long time. That's what Lisa got me for Father's Day.

I got the first one assembled last night.

And partially filled this morning. That's just the stuff that was on my dining table. You can see more in the background awaiting further assembly.

Now I just need to figure out where to put them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Old dog

Old dog

I like to think that I can still learn new techniques, that it's just knitting after all, and I shouldn't have any problems. Sort of old dog/new tricks kind of thing.

I've been meaning to learn the short row heel. I've had Simple Socks by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in my sock kntting book stash for a couple of years but had never really tried to apply her technique. Yesterday seemed like the perfect day to take it on. So between trips to the laundy room, and stops to play with the cat, I got started.

I don't have a picture. I ripped the whole mess for the third time about ten o'clock last night. Anyone familiar with this technique? I understand most of it but I got confused when the book says "The last stitch on each side will consume two yarn-overs." What does that mean? And what about that last stitch? I thought all the joining stitches consumed two yarn-overs plus the next stitch, except the first one. Have I totally misunderstood?

It looked pretty much the way I thought it would except I still had that line of lacy stitches. It was better than some short row heels I've tried but still not what I'm hoping for. I started working the foot and stopped. This just wasn't going to be okay. So I'm going to start over. Maybe a light will come on.

I was planning to have pictures of my Father's Day gift but that will have to wait. No time left to assemble it after spending eight hours on a heel.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Final day

Final day

Just one more day of vacation. It's going to be a lazy one. I will do a few chores but mostly will just putter with some knitting and napping. I'm pretty sure the luncheon date has been cancelled or postponed again. Sometimes life just gets in the way of things.

I have had a great vacation though. I got to spend hours and hours listening to the local classical music station and just knitting. I didn't make my goal of visiting a different yarn shop every day. I did enough damage in the first four days that I decided I really didn't need to go get more yarn.

My first order from Knit Picks arrived on Saturday. Only a week. They had said it would take two weeks so that was a nice surprise. I got four skeins each of these socks yarns. I'm not making socks. I think these will become zigzag scarves. At least that's the plan for now. These particular yarns require handwashing. I'm not going to make anyone socks that can't be put in the washer, at least not intentionally. Oh, the yarn seems pretty nice. I'll let you know about the knitting once I've tried it.

I'm kind of in a sock knitting frenzy right now. Nothing fancy, just enjoying the color play. I got the yarn for these last weekend.

Lisa took them home with her last night, along with the Swizzle socks and the little blue lace shawl. I have started two more pairs. And I'm almost done with the back of the Marissa top that I started last week.

Thursday, June 16, 2005



If you live in Southern California you already know what I'm talking about. For weeks and weeks we have this dark gloom that opens every day. Today is no exception. There have been one or two days in the last month when the sun was out early. Usually though it's midday or even late afternoon before there is any bright light. That's why I almost always have to use a flash to even get a photo.

Yesterday was better than usual so I went out on the balcony to take this photo.

I also figured out that I have a zoom feature on my digital camera. I like it. And this is a pretty fair representation of what this yarn looks like.

The yarn is Patagonia from Araucania. I got it at Needle in a Haystack. There were nine skeins but I left one behind. It was too far outside the colorway. It's the same cotton as their regular Nature Cotton, just hand dyed in multi-color. It's about $3US more than the regular stuff. I'm thinking vest, knit sideways.

I did finish one of the socks and cast on for the second. No picture yet though, because of the gloom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005



Having trouble getting to sleep? Need something to relax? Try sock knitting. The best way I know to calm down and doze off.

I've been working on these socks intermittently for a couple of months. Yesterday I decided it was totally time to finish them. The pattern is pretty simple, just K6, P2. I carried the ribbing down the instep. Not much there to stimulate me. So several nods-off later I was done. I also started another pair right after that. Just so I could see how the yarn would repeat. Maybe tomorrow I'll have another pair.

While I was looking for some more size 2US dpns I came across this.

The two skeins of greenish/gold stuff was a gift from one of my students. It's Gedifra Poesie. Enough for a short scarf. But I might find something to put with it to make a longer one.

That orange pile in the front is Gedifra Cascade that I got at Velona's Needlecraft last summer. Only two skeins because it was expensive. The spool of Berocco Glace, of which I have another, I got at Temple City Knit Shop last summer during their going out of business sale. I think this will be one of the scarves from the first Little Box of Scarves.

Speaking of Temple City Knit Shop, it's been reopened under new ownership. Actually it's been open for a while but I hadn't been yet. So yesterday I drove over. I wish them well but it's going to take a while. Minimal stock, poor lighting and odd decor. They do have a nice new parking lot in back, although I wish they hadn't taken out the trees.

I like to always get something whenever I go to a new shop. I needed some more size 2 dpns. The saleslady didn't even know what I was talking about. "What kind of knitting is that?" she asked. "You know, socks."

"We've been learning to knit socks." Putting two and two together doesn't seem to be one of her strong points. Maybe that's why they use a large key calculator. No fancy automated check out system for them. Just a quaint handwritten receipt.

So I got my needles. They only had them in a seven inch length and a couple of skeins of sock yarn.

This is from a company named Four Seasons and is their Print No. 216. The other choices were not quite so lively. If I'm going to knit socks I need something to keep me awake.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Patrick helps out

Patrick helps out

I don't have a lot of room for blocking. The living room floor is about the only space that's large enough, or clear enough. I had a couple of things that I'd been meaning to wash and block for quite some time.

Patrick had only ever seen me try to block once before and that time I gave up and didn't do it. So he was very curious about what was going on. He was especially interested in the pins. It took a few tries but he finally got the message that he wasn't to touch anything. He was a little sulky but agreed that he wouldn't bother the knitting.

But he just couldn't resist. I came back later to find him sleeping soundly but carefully between the two pieces. He stayed there a long time. Even when he got up to have his share of the frozen yogurt he was very cautious about where to step. He did have to be reminded a few times to leave the pins alone. This morning I watched him jump over the sweater rather than step on it. He's a pretty good guard cat.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Is it Monday?

Is it Monday?

Day five of my vacation and I'm losing track. I had to check with my computer to be sure what day it is. Really! But I would have known once I started reading the blogs. Lots of people don't post on the weekend. So it's kinda like going to work on a Monday to find out what everyone did with their two days off.

So, here's part of what I did:

The beginning of Marissa from Melissa Leapman's Hot Knits. I've been meaning to make this since I got the book last summer. I even have the exact yarn in stash, except the color is slightly different. I tried a gauge a few weeks ago and was way off. Tried again Saturday and was okay. I've made one sleeve already. I think it might be a little tight so I'll have Lisa try it on before it's too late.

Had a slight work injury yesterday. Bamboo needles will apparently begin to deteriorate after a few years. I got a tiny sliver from the tip of one of my Clovers. I'm not sure if I got it out. I can feel a tiny twinge every once in a while. Anyway I checked the tips of my needles and sure enough they're beginning to fall apart. I think I have some more size 5US bamboos but I've switched to some Inox Express circulars now.

I've never been crazy about circular needles and only use them when I have to. I was surprised to discover how much more comfortable they are. There's a lot of weight on the straight needles since I'm using a cotton yarn. With the circulars the weight is all in the center. And I spend a lot less time moving the stitches up. And I really like the Inox Express. More than my Addis. They're smooth and have a little sharper point than the Addis. Anyway, I like 'em. Now you know.

Since this is Monday I'll be able to hit a couple of yarn shops that are closed on Sunday. I may not get to a yarn shop every day of my vacation but I'm going to try. I walked over to Michael's on Sunday. Not exactly a yarn shop but it was the best I could do locally. I think I'll go to Needle in a Haystack and Stitch in Time today.

Here's some of the new sock yarn and a couple of patterns that I've already acquired. Got the pattern for the shrug at Unwind and the Sock Hop book at Michael's.

I'm not planning to buy a lot though. I do have a coupon for 20% off at Needle in a Haystack. My reward for participating in their Knit for the Cure event. And Stitch in Time is having a 25% off sales on all knitting yarn.

Friday, June 10, 2005



I just got back from a mini-yarn shop hop. Went to lunch with Mendy at The Peach Company, a new sandwich/pastry deli in Monrovia. Very good, by the way, if you're in the neighborhood. After lunch we walked next door to Unraveled. (Sorry. They don't have a website yet.) There were at least three other people there that I know from Skein or La Knitterie Parisienne or Mariposa, all yarn shops where I've worked. And one lady, while we were having lunch, came over to ask if I would be teaching at Unraveled. No, I won't.

I always try to buy something when I go to a yarn shop, even if it's only needles. I found a skein of Sockotta that I don't think I already have. Then I found some Kureyon in the same color way that I used for a multi-directional scarf last year for me.

I have had a request for the same scarf for a Christmas gift this year. I wasn't able to find the same colorway so I used a similar colorway. I just finished it last night, actually. Anyway. I'll make another one using the yarn I got today. So I'll be ahead one scarf when Christmas comes around again.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Umm! Vacation!

Umm! Vacation!

It's day one of my vacation. Here are a couple of things that I hope are only the beginning of a goodly number of finished projects that will happen over the next week or so.

I never did get a satisfactory picture of this funky black shawl. But it's done. I used some really old stash. Katia Flash and Lana Borgosesia Flower. Lisa tells me she has a sweater somewhere that used the Flower, the multi-color yarn. I don't remember it. Anyway. This is just a simple garter stitch pattern worked from the top edge on size 13US needles. There are four yarn over increases on each right side row. If you lookly closely you will be able to see the central line of increases. The finished piece is a little on the small side but will be okay for a summer evening wrap.

And here's the final item for this shipment, the Dulaan hat with pompom. I know the pompom looks like earthworms in a rugby match but I don't have a pompom maker so I improvised. I don't usually put pompoms on hats but this one was a little too lacy around the top so I needed to hide that. (I don't think I'll use the Ann Budd pattern for hats again. Too ruffly as well as lacy.)

I've printed out the inventory form for the stuff I'm sending to the Dulaan project. Now I have to make myself fill it out and get the items boxed and go to the post office. I'm such a procrastinator!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New destashing project

New destashing project

That's what I'm telling myself. This is not just another start on a project that will end up in the ever increasing stack of things that are somewhere between cast on and just needs the ends woven in.

When I showed this pattern to Lisa she got very excited. I knew it was the kind of thing she likes to wear. And then I showed her the yarn I was planning to use. She got very excited about that too. The pattern is from the current "Knitter's" and is designed by Denise Powell. I'm not a big fan of "Knitter's" but there are a few things in this issue that I'd like to make before the summer is over.

I have some Cascade Sierra in stash that is right in all respects, except one. The pattern calls for 1320 yards. I have 1337 yards. That should be enough but I'm more than a little apprehensive. Anyone have an extra skein of Sierra #22, lot #2898? I've had this yarn for maybe three years. All this time I've thought I had eight skeins. I only have seven.

Anyway, it's an easy pattern and so far it's fun to work.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Truth in labeling

Truth in labeling

Those little pictures and all those small print numbers on a ball band or tag are there to tell you something about the contents. The fiber composition, how many yards or meters, what size needle the yarn was designed to work on and how many rows and stitches per inch you should get if you use the specified needles. Right! So what's the big deal? The label doesn't tell you about what it will be like to work with the yarn. Is it going to split easily? Will it felt or pill? Will it reach out and grab every little snag or burr or hang nail you have? You have to find out all that stuff by actually using the yarn.

My cat, Patrick, has been having some problem with hair balls. I thought hair balls were something that a cat would just throw up and then be done with it. Apparently that isn't the whole story. Putting this as delicately as possible, food was going in but nothing was coming out. So, Lisa told me to get some Cat-Lax. I didn't know there was anything like this on the market. I had considered giving him some milk of magnesia but was afraid it would be too much for him.

I went to PetsMart to get some Cat-Lax. They don't have it but they do have lots of alternatives, similar ingredients, similar claims of efficaciousness. I read all the labels on each product. They all told me that I should just squeeze out about an inch of the stuff and give it to my cat either on a spoon or on my finger. Failing that, the labels said, I should just rub it on his paws and he'll lick it off. Sounds simple enough.

What the label doesn't tell you is that your cat is going to freak when you rub that stuff on his paws. (I tried the spoon and my finger but Patrick was having none of that. He won't even eat his favorite treats from my hand.) It took about five seconds for Patrick to realize that something was on his paws. He was off and running, trying to shake whatever it was off his paws. Up and down all the chairs, in and out and under all the tables and china cupboards. He's hyperventilating like crazy and all his fur is falling out. He finally comes to a stop under the bed. He refuses to come out. I feel terrible.

Several hours later Patrick has indeed licked all the gel off of his paws. He's still a little sulky and is giving me some really hurt and betrayed looks. But the stuff is very effective. If I didn't know better I'd think a German shepherd had been using the litter box. I'm supposed to dose him again today and tomorrow. I just don't know if I can put him through that again. I think I'll go get some of those kibble type treats. They are supposed to do the same thing. I'm a little worried that the label isn't telling me everything.

I did almost finish the funky black shawl. Maybe four more rows and then some fringe.

Monday, June 06, 2005



I was supposed to go to lunch with a close friend today. But that got postponed. So now I can do laundry today instead of next Thursday. This is a good change, in a way. Thursday begins my forced vacation. Skein will be closing for a week or so, from June 9 through June 20. Ann Mary is going to TNNA in Columbus, Ohio. And then she'll take a few days off. So Skein closes and I don't get to go in to teach or visit with my usual cronies. It will be nice to have some days away but I'll miss the extra pocket money.

I wrote a few days ago, maybe a couple of weeks, about a problem I was having with some 2nd Time Cotton (Knit One, Crochet Too). Every time I started a new skein the color looked different even though all the skeins are from the same dye lot. It happened again last week. I showed it to Ann Mary, who was mystified as usual. So I decided to rip the whole thing and find a different pattern that would disguise or at least blur the difference. After I had ripped everything Ann Mary decided to call the company to see it they'd had any similar complaints. They hadn't, or didn't admit to it. So now, I'm going to have to reknit what I've already ripped, or at least a large swatch, to demonstrate the differences and then Ann Mary will send everything back to the manufacturer so they can evaluate the problem. I'll try to get this done while I'm on vacation. But I'm returning everything for store credit. I'm very disappointed in this yarn. I'd like to support the recycled cotton idea but not if this is what I get.

One of my favorite new cotton yarn is Jamaica from Katia. I love the vibrant colorways and the hand is really nice. I do think their recommended gauge is a little loose, especially for cotton. When we first got the yarn it sold like crazy. I didn't get around to getting any before we were almost sold out. When I finally decided which project and which colorway I wanted to use there wasn't enough left. So Ann Mary ordered some more. What a change! The original color was intense and fairly glowed. This new stuff looks like they ran out of dye before they got to it. But I brought it home, planning to show it to Lisa when she came over this weekend. But first I showed her the pattern. She wasn't all that excited about it. So I'm taking the yarn back and will get some of the Arc en Ciel, also from Katia, to make a different pattern from the same book. I think we have enough of the color we decided on in stock. I'll know tomorrow when I go in.

(Right about here is where I lost the second half of my original post so the rest of this is a reconstruction of what I think I wrote. I tried Save as Draft and when I went to edit the second part was gone.)

I've read through Loop-d-loop, the new book from Teva Durham. I think I was hoping for some kind of life changing experience, like when I first read Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knits. Of course, I was a lot younger then and a lot less jaded. I've only read a few of the pattern instructions so far. And I think they're fascinating. I'm not sure if this is really a pattern book, in the conventional sense. It's more of a "let's look at this in another way" kind of thing. I do plan to make the "woven" scarf, even if I don't make anything else.

I have been knitting but not on anything new. The Habu handbag is about halfway done. It's slow going though. The paper yarn doesn't wrap the needle very well so I have to keep an eye on every stitch to make sure it doesn't get left behind. The customers who've seen the progress seem to like it but I don't see any of the kits going out the door.

While Lisa was here last night she helped me rip and separate the two yarns I used in last week's too tight bind off scarf. So that's done and I'll be able to finish the triangular shawl I started with the left overs. Maybe tonight or tomorrow.

The Fern Leaf wrap is a few inches longer than it was this time last week but still not quite half way. It's an easy, relaxing lace pattern. I have a couple of pairs of socks that I need to finish so those should see some action this week sometime.

So if nothing else changes there should be some FOs soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Newton's Knitting Laws

Newton's Knitting Laws

There is a Newton's knitting company but that's not the one I mean. I'm talking about that other Newton. Or Deborah Newton either. But that other Newton. Sir Isaac Newton. The one who was all about the laws of this or that other thing.

I think it's the "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" one that has taken over my knitting. Twice in the past week I have had problems with my bind offs. That big shawl I made last week was just fine, at first. The bind off was so loose that I thought it looked wavy. But that was before the full weight of the shawl took effect. The bind off is now so tight that one of our customers even commented on it. Rude but true.

Then, just last night, I bound off a long scarf. The pattern warned me to make the bind off as loose as possible, even to do it with my hands if necessary. So I did. Again, the weight of the yarn, pulling downwards on the longways knit, was just more than the bind off could take. It's so tight that the scarf wants to spiral. (If I'd wanted a spiral I would have made one!) I think I'm going to rip that one and recycle the yarn into the shawl that I've started with what was just left over yarn.

And then there's another axiom. "The third time's the charm." Don't know who to credit for that one. But it's sure true for me. I've been trying to make a top from 2nd Time Cotton, Knit One, Crochet Too's recycled cotton. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the second skein was different from the first. So I started over. Even rewound the yarn to see if that would help. It didn't. The twist on the yarn was just different. The dye lot was the same. So I finally started a new skein today, the third attempt. It looked pretty good at first but after a few inches it was clear that the same thing was happening. So that top is history. If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

I don't know what Sir Isaac would have to say about this. I probably should ask Deborah.

I got Teva Durham's Loop-d-Loop today. I haven't looked at it yet. Maybe she'll have some ideas.