Thursday, July 28, 2005

Knitting vicariously

Knitting vicariously

If it weren't for my students I don't think I'd be doing any knitting at all. It's still too uncomfortable in the evenings to do much. But at least with all the different projects I'm helping with I get the sense of knitting even if it's not exactly hands on. Well, except for the part where I'm showing them how to correct a mistake.

I have managed a few rows on the shop sample shrug, not many. And I have a new sock started, but that's for only the early morning hours when it's less than 90 degrees. I've finished a couple of scarves as well but the pictures don't help much so I'll just leave that for now. I'm still trying to finish the scarves I'm making for my pattern page. Scarves take a long time, depending.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lassitude and other excuses

Lassitude and other excuses

For years and years I have maintained that the weather doesn't affect my knitting. I thought it was a foolish idea to let something like hot weather interfere with my knitting. I would even knit a wool sweater in the middle of summer just to prove my point. That's just not the case this year.

This heat has produced such a level of lassitude and lethargy that I can't even begin to pick up my at-home knitting. I do manage while I'm in the air conditioned comfort of Skein. But even then it seems like I can't get really excited about it. I am working on the shop sample shrug but I have enough students that progress is slow. Ergo, not much to write about.

I tried starting a new project just to see it that would get me going. Nothing. I put it down after just a few rows and there it sits, on top of all the other projects that I can't bring myself to pick up. My ancient air conditioner just isn't up to the task of really cooling off my living room. Even with its best efforts there's still just too much humidity. So I guess it will join the list of things that just don't work right anymore, along with my car and my knees.

I've pretty much decided that I'm not going to the Knitters Retreat this year. I'll probably keep waffling about this for some time yet. I had a grand time last year and I have been looking forward to going again this year. But, having put my decision before the board of fiscal reality and examining my own fear of flying and all the other stuff, I've decided that I'll skip it this year. Maybe next year, once I have a new car, air conditioner and maybe a replacement for the broken VCR, and provided the creeks don't rise, I will once again join the good ladies and good friends. I'm already regretting this decision but I think it's the right one for now. I think I'll go knit on a sock. Maybe that will help.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Old and decrepit

Old and decrepit

but still valiant. That's my A/C. I finally gave in and turned it on. When it's 97F in the shade you just have to forget about how noisy and expensive it is to operate. It's only in the living room but I can survive.

The heat hasn't kept people away from Skein the past couple of days though. I went in a little early and was busy from the time I got there right up 'til time to leave. Taught sock heel turning to one, the importance of gauge swatches to another (after she had already learned the hard way), another one who keeps wrapping her yarn the wrong way around the needle and how to use crochet to finish a sweater to another.

And I learned all about different birthing techniques. Yesterday it was all about cloth diapers versus the disposable kind.

I didn't have time to take a lunch break so I brought my lunch home and had it for dinner instead of my usual Thursday night stop at Quizno's. There were three traffic lights that were not working, during rush hour, on my drive to the Thursday night group. It took about an extra forty five minutes to get to Monrovia so it was a good thing I didn't need to stop for dinner. We had a good time even though there were only four of us. I finished the collar of the new shrug. That's the hardest part. Well, not hard, but it has a huge number of stitches that you reduce by half once you've finished.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shrugging along

Shrugging along

At last, after several days with no students, I had a busy day. Seven students spread out over the day, instead of the usual mass meeting. I love the courage of new knitters. Several today were working on projects that are more challenging than some I see more experienced knitters taking on.

One of the people today (Hi, Holly) was working on one of the shoulder shrugs from the summer issue of Interweave Knits. I had been mulling whether to make this one or not. Now that I've seen it I think I will. And I get to learn in advance where the pitfalls are and figure out how to maybe make it a little more generous. I really liked the Oasis (Southwest Trading Company) that she was using. But I have stash that I need to use.

But I can't start another shrug right now. I have one going already plus I started another ribbed shrug, like the one I showed last week, as a shop sample. I was too busy today to get much done, so no picture yet, but I'm very pleased with how Berroco's Zen works up. There are some wonderful colorways as well as solids that would be great in this pattern. (I sound like a Threadbear newsletter.) Anyway I want to get this done as soon as possible.

Ann Mary is busy making knitted necklaces. She made a felted one a couple of months ago using Rowan's R2. And now she has some kits that she's determined to promote. I guess they're interesting but I'm not convinced they're going to be big sellers. I'm willing to be wrong on this.

I did finish the latest HP book. And I'm not going to discuss it. Well, I will say that I enjoyed it, maybe not as much as the last one. I heard that the next and last book comes out in November. Can that be true?

It was 96F today, according to the official weather report. That means it was probably over a hundred in my part of town. Pat the Cat is spending his days sprawled out on his back, mostly in front of the fan.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who won?

Who won?

Harry Potter won. Doesn't he always? After spending most of the morning doing laundry, and a little bit of knitting on the shoulder shrug, I decided I really couldn't wait any longer to read the sixth book. So I spent most of the afternoon and evening lost in a world of wizards and assorted evil doers.

I didn't finish. I have about a third of the book to go which I will do this evening. But I did get a lot of knitting done today at Skein, almost the whole five hours. No students. Just a couple of quick questions and some time wasters.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A conflict of interests

A conflict of interests

I'm doing some swatching for a new shrug pattern and I'd like to get a lot of this done today. I also have a copy of the new Harry Potter book. Which to do. Which to do.

Actually I started the swatching yesterday while I waited for my daughter Lisa to arrive. And I started reading the new book after she left. I didn't get very far because I couldn't stay awake. Too much pasta and wine plus the heat and humidity.

I'm not one of those knitters who can read and knit at the same time. And, unless it's pretty easy knitting, I don't try to knit and talk at the same time. Since I have to do laundry this morning I'll probably opt for the knitting and save the book for when it's really too hot to go back and forth to the laundry room.

I managed to break my sewing machine. I used to sew at lot but haven't done much for years and years. My machine belonged to my mother originally. I bought it from her sometime in the late eighties. I think I've only used it once or twice since then. I have had it serviced, maybe five years ago. But anyway. Lisa wanted to do some slight alterations to some blouses she bought so I got everything set up. And the first one went just fine. It was when I needed to fill a bobbin with a different color that things went wrong. I didn't set up the bobbin winder correctly and now I think I have a jam in the bobbin feeder. I'll have to see if I can take it apart and get out whatever I managed to jam. This is not a top priority. I really felt bad that Lisa couldn't get her stuff done though.

I've been a little slow at Skein for the past few days. So I've been trying to finish some of my scarf projects. And I'm trying to crochet a cloche using a pattern from the new book Fun and Funky Crochet by Sophie Britten. I know how to do the stitches but I have some problem with reading crochet patterns and things like joining and turning at the end of the row and where to start the next row. So I got this book which seems to be pretty good at explaining things. I've crocheted hats before but they were just spirals so you didn't have to be careful to keep track of where the rounds began. This one, if I'm interpreting correctly, is supposed to join with a slip stitch at the end of every round. Sometimes I'm okay and sometimes I'm off a stitch or two. So there's a bit of faking it going on. I don't think that will work though if I try something more complicated.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In a handbasket

In a handbasket

I finally, after what seems like months and months, got the Habu handbag finished. Well, at least I'm done with it. I never did get the handle to retain the twist that the pattern called for. I tried to kitchener stitch the handle join first. That didn't look so great so I used a three needle bind off. Tried that at least three times. That made the join too stiff and I still didn't have any twists in the handle.

After I got home last night I ripped the handle again and rejoined it with kitchener stitch after all. And I got it right this time. I even had the twist I wanted, or so I thought. But it untwisted. I've just faked it for the photo.

The bag is floppy. I guess it's supposed to be that way. Right now I have a couple of skeins of Brown Sheep Nature Spun stuck in it so you can see a little of the detail. The actual knitting wasn't difficult but the linen paper yarn is stiff and it's not easy to get up much speed. It took me two weeks to get around to sewing the whole thing together. And that took most of a day. Well, there were a few students interrupting my progress but that kept me sane.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Everybody says bling bling

Everybody says bling bling

This is the child's skirt that I finished last week for Skein. Would you pay $78US for the yarn for a skirt for a four year old? If the answer is yes, Ann Mary would like to talk to you. Actually, I cut the cost by $30 because I didn't need to open the second skein of Suede or the third skein of Bling Bling, both Berroco yarns. I had enough to work the waistband to the six inches in the pattern directions. The skirt is about one half an inch short. But you get the idea. Besides that bind off will curl no matter what. But it's what the pattern called for and I almost never change a pattern when I'm making a shop pattern, unless there's a serious math error or something like that.

I told Ann Mary that I thought only a grandmother would make this skirt, because of the cost. She disagreed. She said if the mother was working she would spend that much money. I think that's too much bling bling for the Bling Bling. But what do I know?

There's at least one other yarn company that has a yarn with this name. I forget if it's Patons or Lion Brand, but it's nothing like the Berroco. But the name seems to be catchy enough that it sells. I've certainly seen and heard plenty of customers get all giggly when they hear the name.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pretty boring post

Pretty boring post

Not a whole lot to write about. It was a long, hot, muggy day and still is, even after midnight. I spent all day indoors only going out long enough to pick up my daily load of "free gift" offers and assorted other junk mail.

Patrick, as you know, is a long hair. He does not do well at all in this kind of heat. I brushed him three times today, per his request. Each time I got masses of hair. He's not very interested in playing either. Right now he's just stretched out in front of the fan trying to sleep.

I worked a lot on one of my scarf projects. I just joined the third and final skein. I did have to stop for the evening though. I worked so much on the skirt for Skein last week that I'm having a bit of a problem with my wrist and thumb. Nothing new. I just know I need to stop for a while. So I'm not as far along as I hoped to be but I'm making progress.

I spent some time going through Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, volumes one and two. These are amazing books. I've had them for years and they never cease to entertain and even inspire. I started a lace pattern scarf a couple of days ago that is taken directly from one of her stitch patterns. Only needed to add a garter stitch border, et voila! Instant designer. If only I had time to try them all.

Monday, July 11, 2005



I could be in NYC. That's how muggy it is here today. Everything sticks to everything. I have nothing planned except knitting on my still incomplete scarves for my pattern page. I think it's going to be a bit irritating.

alt="" />

Here are the photos of the shrug I finished a week or so ago plus one of the funky black shawl from even longer ago. The 2x2 rib doesn't show up all that well, mostly because of the busy-ness of the ribbon yarn. I really like the pattern though. Ann Mary wants me to make one for the shop, probably using Berroco's Zen. I think I'll finish some other things first though. (I have no idea why that link looking thingie is showing up, and I can't figure out how to get rid of it. I've already wasted fifteen minutes trying to get it to disappear.)

The shawl is knit from the top down in garter stitch with yarn over increases in the middle and at each end on the right side rows. I retied the fringe to give it a little more body.

I tried to go to the new yarn shop yesterday but I couldn't find it. I forgot to take the exact address with me. I know I was in the approximate area though and that area doesn't bode well for a yarn shop. I'll try again just to satisfy my curiosity. I did hear though that it's disappointing.

Well, I guess I'll go stick to my knitting.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Yeah, but what else is new?

Yeah, but what else is new?

Actually, not very much. There are still plenty of frou-frou novelty yarns to choose from for the scarf-inclined. And ribbon of various kinds. It's a bit of a problem to fit everything in right now. Ann Mary has started stacking unopened package on top of shelves around the shop and boxes are piling up in the small storage area in back. And we haven't even received the major shipments. It's going to be an interesting rest of the summer, tripping over boxes and shifting things around.

I love this time of year in the shop. We've already been looking at summer yarns since February. The fall and winter yarns are much more appealing to me so I really like to see what comes in. We're not expecting a lot until the middle of next month but a little trickles in almost every day.

I've finished the waistband on the skirt and am about eighteen rows into the main skirt. I hope I can finish tomorrow but that will depend on how many students I have during the day. I had three today and two of them were brand new so that always takes more attention. I spent most of Thursday night knitting working on the skirt. And eating Trader Joe's Truffles. I haven't worked on my scarves for two days now so I'm definitely not going to make it for Saturday, but soon. I hope.

And there's a new yarn shop opening this weekend. That Yarn Store is in Eagle Rock, just a little west of Pasadena. I'm not sure if I'll be able to check it out this weekend though. I'm supposed to go yarn shopping in another direction but haven't received a confirmation from the friends I'm planning on going with. So I'll wait and see.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So, what's new?

So, what's new?

We've already received a lot of the new fall yarns, especially from Berroco. Along with their newest pattern books. I don't remember when I've see Ann Mary so excited about new stuff. Some of it is pretty neat. You can see it at here along with pictures of the new patterns and get some free patterns at the same time.

Skein got some samples along with the shipment and I'm making an addtional sample. It's a child's skirt made from Suede, the waistband, and Bling Bling for the skirt itself. I hadn't worked with Suede before. It's pretty nice stuff but the six inches of 1X1 rib is taking a long time. This is probably going to get in the way of my finishing the two scarves I'm making for my new pattern blog. I may just use what I have and pretend they're full length.

We also got a big shipment from Brown Sheep. I know the felters will be glad about that. There's some Lamb's Pride, worsted and bulky, and some Nature Spun worsted. There are some new colors in the Nature Spun that I'd like to get for myself but I'm waiting to see what else comes in before I spend my store credits. Unless I change my mind.

Shrugs seem to be the hot new thing. At least around here. We're getting lots more calls for them now even though ponchos still sell well. I know. Not exactly cutting edge. I'm trying to put together a simple shrug pattern for the shop but there are so many variations that I'm having trouble narrowing it down to just one basic pattern. So I'll probably do a couple. First I have to find out which yarns Ann Mary wants to use. And find the time to knit them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005



After a night of explosions and screeching rockets Patrick is exhausted and is sleeping soundly, contented as though nothing had happened. He is a little strange this evening though. I wish I knew what he was trying to tell me. I've done all the things he usually wants and he's still meowing as though there's something else I'm supposed to understand. He probably just wants more treats, even though I've pointed out repeatedly that he's already had his treats for today. It does worry me though that there might be something wrong.

Today started off pretty slowly. Ann Mary and I had both had our lunch before things began to pick up. It never did get wild though. I had a good group of students. Four of the five knew each other from previous classes. That's part of the fun of teaching on a drop-in basis. You can never tell what the mix is going to be. And it makes it easier for me to work with one individual while the others entertain themselves.

And I realized that as long and Rowan keeps writing patterns the way they do I'll never have to worry about a job. And Debbie Bliss. And Sirdar. Rowan at least has schematics. The other two don't. I like schematics and charts. I know some people don't, but to me it's so much easier to see where you're going when you have a map.

I started a second sample for what will become my first pattern. I might be far enough along by the end of the week to post it. I'm excited.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005



I had intended to work on my new scarf and some other projects today but I was just too restless. Instead I started a couple of new swatches. Then I decided I'd start a new blog for my patterns. I even managed to figure out how to add a link. It's over there in the right hand column.

There's nothing there right now. Except a brief intro. I'm not sure how to organize everything yet. I still have to play around with the template, not something I feel very secure doing. Anyway, I'll post here when I add something.

I had all my storage cubes assembled and filled with yarn. Then I tried to move them. They pretty much came apart. I didn't think about them being just snapped together. So I took all the yarn out and re-assembled the cubes where I wanted them to be and then reshelved everything. I still have the one that's holding mostly current projects to do but I haven't figured out where to put it yet. But I'm very pleased with the ones I have done. And it really opened up lots of floor space.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Charles Ives would have loved this

Charles Ives would have loved this

The late night and early morning low clouds and fog have begun to lift and the day is beginning to warm up. Just as it should on the Fourth of July. The local classical, member supported, radio station is featuring all kinds of patriotic music, mostly by American composers. That means we get lots of Charles Ives' compositions. They just played "Variations on America" which is one of my favorites.

In additon to listening to all that fervent marching and parade music I'm doing the other traditional Monday thing, laundry. I did most of my holiday celebrating on Saturday night when Lisa came over for the evening, and some more last night when I went to my friend Robert's house for dinner. Patrick is not enjoying his holiday so much. All those explosions are just not what he's used to. So I'll be staying close tonight to help him cope. As it is, he's already clinging to me in a very uncharacteristic way.

I finished the shrug that I was working on last week and Lisa took it home with her, along with the funky black shawl. I had to re-tie the fringe and it looks a lot better. I'm hoping Lisa will take some pictures and send them to me so I'll be able to post them later. The shrug wasn't a good fit with what she was wearing on Saturday night so I didn't get a photo then.

I've also finished the knitting part of the Habu hand bag. I'll be blocking that later today and getting it sewn together. Ann Mary seems to big on handbags this season. She ordered some kits from Bagsmith and has already started on one of them. I don't know what she has planned for me after I finish the Habu bag. I hope it's a little more interesting to work.

Meanwhile, even though I have lots of other stuff I could be working on, I've started a new scarf.

I got the yarn about four years ago when I went to a weaving show and sell. It's called Andito but I have no other information except it's made in Italy. There's no yardage shown on the ball band so I'm making a scarf until I run out.