Wednesday, August 31, 2005

For my next act

For my next act

Click here to see my next Skein project. I'm not making this up. Ann Mary wants to really push the western and gypsy look that she saw when she went to TNNA this past June.

I've thought and thought and can't come up one person that would actually make this, let alone wear it. But she's the boss.

The side panels are just K1,P1 ribs and the center is stocking stitch that you let ravel when you're all done.

I was planning to start when I got home but decided to finish the front of my Marissa project. Which I did, but not without a disaster at the end. I had everything set up via short rows for a three needle bind off. Well, I came up one stitch short on the bind off. When I went back to investigate I managed to drop another few stitches. So that was ripped and reknit. All is well for now but there's still another shoulder to go.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More sock stuff

More sock stuff

Here's a new book about sock knitting. It's one of the best I've seen so far. Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. (I also have her Hats Off book. Or is that Hats On?)

The book is filled with tables that take into account all the variables of yarn, needle size, gauge and foot circumference. And there are plenty of stitch patterns that can be easily used with the basic format of each style. She itemizes three different approaches to knitting needles: 3 dpns, 4 dpns and 2 circular. There are top down and toe up patterns plus a variety of heels and toes. And there are various tips scattered throughout the book that will make sock knitting even more enjoyable.

And, just because it was there, I had to have this new sock yarn. The colors are clearer and a little more intense in the actual skein. I'm glad I had some store credits from knitting shop samples to purchase this yarn. $19.00 per skein seems a bit on the high side for a commercially produced sock yarn.

The scheduled power outage seems to have gone okay. I went to bed an hour before it started but was still awake when it began. Amazing how quiet it is when all the appliances are off in the whole neighborhood. Guess I'd better go reset all the clocks.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The perils of purling

The perils of purling

I'm still working on my Marissa sweater and it's getting close. Meanwhile, I decided I'd take a break and finish one of my lingering sock projects.

These are the Double Eyelet Ribs socks that I started a month ago, well approximately. The pattern is Summer Solstice from The Sock Calendar by Catherine Wingate and Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, a book I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. I used some yarn from that was a gift to me from one of my Thursday night knitting buddies.

I think I had more problems with this project than almost any sock I've done. Nothing wrong with the pattern. I just kept dropping stitches. And the two skeins of yarn were very different. The first one was fine but the second one kept wanting to pool and looked very different from the first. I ended up breaking the yarn a couple of times to get it to look more like the first sock. It's hard to see the pattern in my photo but there is a rib of double eyelet lace.

And then I decided to continue my break and start the Denmark socks from Knitting on the Road, Nancy Bush's famous book.

These socks are hard. Well, perhaps not hard, but they're tricky. Each needle starts and ends with a purl. On every cable row there is a left cross cable that requires moving one stitch to a cable needle and holding it in front. There is only one purl stitch holding the right hand needle. If you're not very careful that needle will fall out and you'll lose the purl stitch.

When I first started I decided I'd cable without a cable needle. Lots of problems with that because the needle tips were too fat to slip the stitches. So I switched to using a dpn for a cable needle. That's when I started losing the first stitch. Then I noticed that the dpn I was using had a sharper point than the main needles. So I'm back to cabling without a cable needle and it's getting a little easier but it's still a struggle. If you're not real fast those little knit stitches will just pop undone and run. I'm using a set of five inch Brittany needles, the shortest I've ever used. Not too bad.

It's still really hot here. The City of Pasadena has decided it needs to turn off the power tonight for about six hours. No a/c, no fan, no computer, no lights. I hope I can get to sleep before this all starts so I'll miss most of it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Wrong! They got it wrong!

Wrong! They got it wrong!

Those guys over there at the weather forecasting place were way off. It never got to 100 or 101 yesterday. It was a paltry 96. Nothing to get too excited about. That probably explains why there were at least two people yesterday wearing jackets. But I, at least, got my part right. There were no students to divert me from working on the Marissa sweater.

The secret knitting project has been delivered. The photo was not usable. And, after all, it was another pair of socks. But they're cute. Lavender and pink stripes. Maybe Lisa will take a pic and send it to me.

I need at least one student today to make my self-inflicted quota. And Saturday is usually a good day for that. Students, I mean. There's half a pizza in my refrigerator and a bunch of empty beer bottles in my trash. Evidence of a fun evening celebrating Lisa's birthday. I hope I can stay awake. And can pay attention.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Even hotter

Even hotter

When I first looked at the predicted temperatures for today it was 100F. It's been revised upwards to 101. I thought yesterday's 97 was more than enough. I wonder how many people will actually venture forth to a yarn store. I wouldn't, if I wasn't being paid to be there. And the A/C is better than mine at home. I hope I don't come home to baked cat.

Not much knitting since last night. Four rows on Marissa. I'll probably have plenty of time today. See weather report above.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The long short day

The long short day

If it hadn't been for the accident on the corner outside of Skein (no one was injured) today would have been almost completely non-eventful. Only one student, and she really only needed a little reassurance. So I spent most of the day working on Marissa and got through the first thirty six row repeat. If it stays this slow I'll be able to finish by next week. Anyway, it was a long five hours.

I'm glad I had Thursday night knitting to look forward to. That was nice, as always. One person who hasn't been there in several months made an appearance and we're hoping for another of our missing persons to show up next week. I spent part of my evening helping Mendy get the stitches straightened out on her current project. It's an interesting cable pattern, full of errors that we've had to figure out, and it's finally making sense. But it's tricky to do.

My daughter, Lisa, is coming over tomorrow night to kick off her birthday weekend. Yeah, it's been a year already. I'm just about ready except I went to the store to get her card and forgot that's what I went for. But I did get the beer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Harder knitting

Harder knitting

I'm really getting busy at Skein. More and more I'm finding people want to move away from scarves and into more challenging projects. I saw a couple of Loop-d-loop designs today that one of my sometime students had knit. The colors and textures were wilder than the ones in Teva Durham's book. And I got my first up close and personal look at a Viking Raw Chicken Hat.

Other people are moving into sock knitting and even if they're still doing scarves they're tackling more challenging patterns, like the ones in Scarf Style. And cables are another big favorite. Projects with a longer turnaround seem to be more in demand.

I was too busy today to make any progress on the Marissa top but I managed a few rows tonight. Good thing we still have a couple of months of summer left.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The return of Marissa

The return of Marissa

The secret knitting project is done. All it needs is to be wrapped. So now I'm going to go back to this stalled project.

I started this months ago, probably back in April or May. It's actually a lot farther along now even though it's been on hold for a while. If I remember I'm just about to start the back neck shaping. The pattern is from Hot Knits by Melissa Leapman. When Mendy and I went to lunch on Monday we stopped by Michael's and she picked up a copy of this book and it reminded me that I still had it on hold. So I'll pull it out and get it finished. One of my regular students is also making it. She was in today and showed me her progress. So now I'm jazzed to get back to it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Better than nothing

Better than nothing

My current knitting project is a secret so I can't write about that. My car didn't have any problems this week. In fact it's running quite well right now. So there's nothing to write about there. And the weather is just about normal for this time of year. So that pretty much takes care of my usual topics.

I did have a very nice lunch today with my good friend Mendy. We went back to Houston's where the food is always excellent and the service is near perfect. Anyway, it was good to be able just to sit and catch up and toss some project ideas around.

The gardener was here today to replace the sprinkler line. Should have been a pretty straightforward operation. It ended up that they had to come in and clean out my kitchen faucet and replace the sink drain connection. I guess there is so much corrosion in the old pipes that whenever the water is turned off bits of rust and stuff collect in the water and when I turned on my faucet some of the gunk jammed the line. Everything that was under my sink is now up on the counter waiting until the cupboard dries out. Patrick is enjoying exploring that previously unknown space.

I'm just about finished with my secret project so maybe I'll have some knitting content later in the week.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Even less happened

Even less happened

It's a good thing I had all those students yesterday, plus the ones on Tuesday, because I only had one today. And that makes for a long day as well as a dent in my pocket money. But I did almost finish the leg of the vintage sock. My row gauge is off so I have to do a few more pattern repeats to get to the length suggested in the pattern.

We got in the new Wrap Style book. I'm not as excited about it as I was with Scarf Style but I bought it anyway. And enough Noro Kochoran to make one of the patterns. I left it in my car, along with the yarn, so I can't get a picture right now. There are still a lot of poncho patterns in the book as well as several that are crocheted. And some of the things look like they'd be more trouble to wear than they're worth. But other than that I guess it's okay.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Nothing happened

Nothing happened

Or practically nothing. I did manage to turn the heel on the second eyelet rib sock. It will probably be a few more days before I actually finish. And while I was at Skein today I worked on the vintage socks from Interweave. Three inches of ribbing and twenty four rows of the cable pattern.

I was pretty busy for most of the afternoon and evening. Eight students but none that were absolutely new so it was pretty easy. But a long day nevertheless. It looks like I will be continuing with the Wednesday night class. The other teacher who has been on an indefinite leave has decided she doesn't want to teach on a regular basis. So I guess if people want to learn to crochet they'll have to wait until there are enough people to justify having a strictly crochet session, maybe once a month. Or they can put up with me and my beginner knowledge. Or go to Michael's.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Early Autumn?

Early Autumn?

It's so dark in the morning that I now have to turn on a light to make my way to the kitchen for Patrick's early, really early, breakfast. Cats can see in the dark but not me. I'm really happy that it's cooler by fifteen or so degrees. No more fans for a while and I may even close a window or two. But there's still Labor Day to get through. It's always a hundred plus on that weekend so maybe this is just a short reminder of fall and it won't last for very long.

It was a perfect day for knitting yesterday. And I did. I spent several hours on the eyelet rib sock and am just about ready to start the heel. That's all that I knit though. The rest of my day was the usual housekeeping stuff. And I did some birthday shopping on line and wrote some long overdue emails. Just a generally pleasant day. And now my work week is about to begin. And doing some more of the ribbing on the vintage socks that I started last week.

Monday, August 15, 2005


That's all it took to get my car back. Bupkis compared to some of the repair bills I've had this year. This time it was just a brake light switch. But now it's done and I can spend the rest of today working on the current socks and fantasizing about the next project.

I really, really want to make Annie Modesitt's circular shrug that's on the cover of the new Vogue Knitting. We don't have the yarn at Skein but I found it at Needle in a Haystack. Actually I got an email from them telling me that had it in stock. I just have to call and find out how much it is and if they have the colors that Annie used. I probably have something I could substitute but I like the colors as they are. So we'll see.

I'm being very responsible and finishing a pair of socks that I started a couple of weeks ago. I had to wash the yarn for the second sock because I was recycling from an older, unsatisfactory one. I tried knitting it without washing it but the yarn was so crimped that I was getting a totally different look from sock number one. Anyway, it's done and wound into a ball and it's much easier to work with. Should have done that to begin with. Will I ever learn?

Friday, August 12, 2005



It's been a while coming but it's finally done, the shop sample shrug. There was no one at Skein who was willing to model it for a photo so you get it flat on a table. It's a little hard to make out the shawl collar that wraps around and becomes part of the side seam. Trust me. It looks very cute on and it stretches to accommodate a wide range of sizes. I used five skeins of Berroco Zen and 10.5US (7mm) circular needle. It's basically just K2,P2 rib with some decreases and cast ons for the sleeves. It's knit in one piece from the collar edge to the back.

I'm glad it's done so I can have a few days of working on my own projects while I'm at Skein, some scarves and socks, of course.

Another busy day for me. I taught three young ladies today. I had taught them to cast on and knit last year. The time they came in to learn to purl. We had a good time and grandma got a couple of hours without them.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I'm really tired today. I've had this new thing going on lately. I cannot get to sleep no matter how tired I am, or how heavy my eyelids are, I just can't let go. So it was two hours last night and I'm still trying to go to sleep.

I suppose I'm sort of asleep because I keep having these little dreams. Not big long involved stories. More like vignettes. One really scary one last night. I was teaching crochet! Too much like what's happening IRL. I try to avoid crochet as much as possible. But we don't have anyone to teach it right now so I'm occasionally drawn in, but always with the caveat that I don't really crochet. Anyway, the only part of the dream that I remember is the crochet and the hook flying out of my hands and disappearing.

Yesterday was more stressful than usual. Teaching how to mattress stitch garter stitch edges, how to do short rows for shoulder shaping and to do a three needle bind off all in one session, a long one, is a lot. And then there was teaching kitchener stitch to another newish knitter, using a very slippery yarn and on a 57 stitch long seam. And then two people with patterns that I could not decipher no matter how hard I tried. Has anyone tried to make the Monster Slippers from Stitch 'N' Bitch Nation? Or the berry tart hat from Knitty? I need to see if there are any errata posted for these patterns.

But I did finish the knitting on the shop sample shrug and got one seam done which I think I'm going to take out and redo as well as do the other seam today. Maybe there'll be a picture tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

No more socks

No more socks

Well, for at least a week. I finished the Summer Stripes last night. I'm off by a couple of stitches from having a perfect match. I think I can live with that.

I have been battling technology this morning. It's only because I'm stubborn and don't have to be anywhere until eleven o'clock that I'm able to post at all this morning. A couple of the infamous blue screens, which seems to only happen when I'm in my bookmarks folder, a disconnect by my ISP and a freeze or two. And then not being able to sign back on because the connection failed. But I've won. At least temporarily.

It's going to be a very good day at Skein. I know of at least three students, all of whom I enjoy, that are coming to see me. And I'm close to finishing the shop sample shrug. It's my long day so I may have time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Socks; fear of knitting

Socks; fear of knitting

Last week one of my former students came by Skein for a visit. I hadn't seen her in at least a year. And she's one of only two of my knitting friends to have ever seen my yarn stash. When she asked me what I have been working on my immediate reply was "Socks."

"Socks? You're still knitting socks? I can't believe it." Kind of an over reaction but she really seemed amazed, even turned off, that I would be knitting socks. I get a similar or related reaction from lots of people. Generally they're just afraid of trying something new. On the other hand, I get lots of people telling me they learned to knit by making a pair of socks.

I love knitting socks but I can't imagine that I would have been able to make a pair when I first started knitting. Not that I started with a garter stitch scarf either. I can visualize making nothing but socks from here on out, except I have lots of other stuff to do. And yarn that isn't really sock appropriate.

I took Knitting on the Road, one of Nancy Bush's sock knitting books, with me to dinner at Amigos' last night. It's pretty dark in the restaurant so I couldn't read the charts very easily. But that didn't matter. I've looked at that book so many times I practically have it memorized. I think I've decided to make the Denmark pattern next, nup stitches and all. I have lots of sock knitting books. Well, maybe it's only ten or twelve but there's plenty of choices. And then there's all the free patterns on the Internet.

I've only been making socks for about three years. Like so many others I thought it would be hard and, honestly, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. And I didn't want anyone to know how awkward I'd look. Actually, it's quite easy once you let go and just knit instead of fretting over whether the stitches will fall off the needles. (Bamboo needles work very well; metal ones not so much.)

I have been teaching socks a lot recently. It's such a kick to see the look of satisfaction that most people get when they've turned their first heel or completed their first pair.

I didn't finish the second sock of the Summer Stripes but I am past the gusset. So those should be done later today. I still have a way to go on the double eyelet rib socks though. When my student saw my stash a couple of years ago it didn't include all that much sock yarn. There's enough there now that it constitutes a whole separate category and almost a room of its own.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Summer socks

Summer socks

Monday, being the second day of my weekend, is going to be just as uneventful as yesterday. I spent most of yesterday dressed in an amazing display of skin. Digusting to contemplate but necessitated by the high humidity and heat combination. Today is supposed to be a couple of degrees cooler, but I've been misled before. I was tricked last week into thinking that summer was over so I've already put all the furniture back. I may have to move it again to be able to use my a/c.

Patrick, being the long haired cat that he is, does not like the heat all that much either. One thing about him though is that he will never throw up on the tile if he can do it on the carpet. Even though he gets regular dosages of anti-hairball treats he still manages to injest a lot more hair than his overheated system can handle. Ergo, we're keeping the paper towels handy.

So, what about the knitting? See this?

I spent several hours on Friday night trying to get a short row heel that looked at least decent. I'm pretty sure I get the process but I sure don't care for the final look. Way too big in the hole department. I'm using Pricilla Gibson-Roberts', or PGR as she is affectionately known, step-by-step instructions from her book Simple Socks. I even consulted Alison's excellent tutorial. So, you can see, I really tried. I think I just don't like the look of short row heels. Or maybe it doesn't look good on such small yarn. I'm going to try a wrap and turn technique the next time and see if I like the results any more.

After I ripped that heel for the fourth and final time,

I had this, plus the start of the second sock. (Always cast on for the second sock immediately to avoid bad luck.) I probably won't get this finished today. I'm not all that fast of a knitter, and I'll probably take several heat-induced naps.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sock yarn

Sock yarn

Well, here it is, the sock yarn I got at Skein a couple of days ago.

It's pretty ho-hum stuff but you should have seen the ones I left behind. Mostly really dark, men's socks kinda, or at least what Ann Mary thinks of as men's socks. And maybe it is. But there was one that was at least a little exciting:

These are all Trekking XXL from Zitron, which I think is part of Skacel. I've worked with Trekking yarn before but never actually finished anything. It's pretty thin. But I think, now that I'm more or less over the self-patterning stuff, I'll be able to use these for some cabled and textured styles.

I stopped by Unraveled when I went to Monrovia for my Thursday night knitting group. They're having a sale where you get to draw a number to determine what discount you'll get on your purchases. I got 20% off on two hanks of Schaeffer Anne, another sock yarn. The sale runs through Saturday, if you're in the area.

What's up with all the sock yarn? I haven't finished a single sock in weeks. But you never know. I may find some time some day. And it's cheaper than a sweater and easier to store. I'd do an inventory but I don't know where it all is.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Talking to cats

Talking to cats

Cats can talk. I just wish they'd talk in English. I could even manage a little French or Spanish. But no. Cats choose to speak in innuendo and body language that is mysterious and unknowable. It's always a matter of trying different things to see if you have translated correctly.

Patrick doesn't actually speak all that much. But when he does, wow!, is he ever insistent. He does head butts, walking on me, plaintive meowing and big sighs. None of which are conclusive. No, not more food? No, don't want to play? How about a nice brush? Oh, I guess that must have been it. I sure got a lot of loose hair out and he's stretched out, dangerously close, by my chair.

He also seems to be happier with the weather. He's actually been seen running through the house in the early morning, while it's still cool.

I have some pictures of my new sock yarn but the batteries have to be recharged first.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Who needs to shop?

Who needs to shop?

I haven't been yarn shopping for quite a while, several weeks at least. I am quasi-committed to reducing my stash and none of my usual fiber acquisitionists have been available. But the stash continues to grow.

My bi-polar student, who has re-surfaced after a three or four month hiatus, has been in to see me a few times in the past two weeks. Yesterday she gave me this:

Four skeins of Anny Blatt Chimere, wool/mohair/nylon boucle. Lovely, soft stuff. That'll make a nice shoulder wrap of some kind.

And this:

Three balls of GGH Jolina. It's one of zigzag-y ribbon yarns. There's a total of 275 yards, or so. Not sure what I'll do with this as it's not a colorway I normally use. There's probably something in the stash that will pull it over to my side of the spectrum.

And, Ann Mary finally got the newest batch of sock yarn marked and on the floor. I need to get my fair share of that before it's all gone. I meant to get it yesterday but I got distracted.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005



I see lots of lace knitting going on. There's even a knit-along called Summer of Lace out there. I have several books devoted to lace knitting. Right now I'm carrying around a copy of Lavish Lace by Carol Rasmussen Noble and Cheryl Potter (autographed by Ms Potter)that I read whenever I stop for dinner. And, of course, there are lots of lace stitch patterns in the Barbara Walker books.

Last night, after it got too dark for me to see the stitches on the Double Eyelet Rib sock, I picked up this scarf that I had started a couple of weeks ago. It's a Lace Cable or Germaine stitch. Very easy and relaxing to do. Worked on size 5US in a yarn called Saint-Tropez from Almedahls. I don't remember where or when I got the yarn but I have five skeins so that should be enough for a longish scarf.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ars domestica

Ars domestica

Today is laundry day. That's done now, and even put away. I did my token housecleaning last Friday so that when Lisa came over she wouldn't see the squalor that I usually live in. I hate household chores, always have. But I do it since no one else is going to. Personally, I'm not bothered by stacks of knitting magazines on every chair, or by the pile of knitting projects hiding the top of every table. I find, if I put stuff away, I forget where it is or even that I've started it. Either way, it's a curse or a blessing that comes with living alone. Except for the cat. The cat who contributes greatly to the work load. Fur, kitty litter and kibble all over the place.

I finished this scarf over the weekend. It's the classic feather and fan stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns , Volume I, page 205 in my copy. It is also the same stitch used in the Jo Sharp design in Scarf Style. The yarn is something I got at a weaving show a few years ago, from an unknown company. It's very textured so the pattern doesn't show all that well but I like the subtlety of a pattern that is barely discernable.

And another scarf, the Double Eyelet Rib. I used three skeins of Grignasco Top Print, 100% alpaca. This pattern stitch is from the same Walker book, page 46, and is the same stitch pattern used in one of the scarves in the Box of Scarves box.

I didn't notice until I was half way through the first leg of these socks that the stitch pattern is the same as the Double Eyelet Rib scarf. There are two additional purls between the ribs, that's all. The sock's a bit of a pain to knit as the number of stitches in the pattern repeat doesn't divide evenly on to three or four needles. So I have one needle with only one repeat on it, but that makes it easier to work. I'm about to start the Dutch heel. I'm using some yarn that a friend gave me. It's one of's sock yarns. I made one sock with it before and didn't like the results so I've ripped that one and am recycling.

So, I'm wondering, what makes for an original design? The two scarves and the socks are simply the application of a known stitch pattern to a specific item. Does that make for an original design? Is it just because someone thought to use a given stitch pattern to make something? Does just doing the math and writing out the pattern constitute an original design? Can it be copyrighted?

I had a customer a couple of weeks ago who wanted to show me the sweater she was designing. I don't know who she thought she was kidding. That sweater is from The Purl Stitch by Sally Melville. Only the yarn was different. I think that's taking the word design a bit too loosely. I'm not sure if just adapting a stitch pattern is really designing either. I rather think not.

But, getting back to the domestica stuff. I think I'd better go to the market and maybe drop off some dry cleaning. And then it'll be time for my afternoon nap.