Thursday, December 28, 2006

The seduction of big needles

Well, I've finished the baby blanket:

(Here's the back)

This has to be something of a record for me: start to finish in one week. Granted, I have been home with nothing but knitting, sleeping off a cold, and laundry to do for the last several days, but on the other hand, there were Christmas Eve and Christmas in there, when no knitting got done. You saw my last post--I had all of six, maybe eight inches done. Now here I am, two days later, with a full 29" of baby blanket to show.

How can this be, you ask?

Well. It's the size 17 needles, of course. Blue Sky Organic Cotton is worsted weight, normally knit on size 9s or so. But the herringbone stitch requires a bigger-than-usual needle, and thus I am done in a flash.

I like the Blue Sky Organic Cotton a lot, but I am somewhat concerned that, nice though it looks, this may not have been the right stitch for it--it seems to be pilling a bit already. Being unmercerized and loosely spun, I guess it is more prone to pilling, and I should therefore probably have knit it much tighter. We shall see how it looks after I run it through the wash (yes, the wash: it's a baby blanket, and what's a baby blanket that is not washable? Worse than useless, I say). I might get lucky--the pilling is manifesting as a slight fuzz that might end up being more charming than ratty, and the blanket should shrink some in the wash, and tighten up. We can only hope. And it is wonderfully soft, perfect for a baby.

I guess, since the baby's not due for over a month, I have time to knit something else :-).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

After Christmas pictures

As promised, some pictures. On some blogs you will see boring pictures of smiling kids in front of Christmas trees. Here, you get knitting:

Dad's socks, on my feet (note how the toes turn up because they're too big for me :-).

My dad loves them. As it happens, he had been looking for some warm socks, and had been unable to find any. Their house can get quite cold, and he had been searching high and low for wool socks, with no success. So, these cashmere beauties were very timely. He was so excited I think I may have to knit him another pair--if he wears these every day, I suspect they will not last long!

Here is the baby dress, knit out of Knitpicks Shine Worsted. I adapted a Debbie Bliss pattern, changing the yarn weight from fingering to worsted, and adding the stripes, because I didn't have enough yarn in either color to make it solid (yes, this was a true stash buster!). I think it turned out very fine. The adorable baby was born on Thursday, December 21, a day or two after I finished the dress.

And, here are the beginnings of the baby blanket for the baby due in February:

A closeup of the herringbone texture:

I am knitting this out of Blue Sky Organic Cotton (another true stash buster); the colors are naturally grown in the cotton; no dyes used. It's wonderfully soft and has a lovely sheen. I am using a stitch pattern I took from a poncho pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts; you will never convince me that ponchos are a good thing, but the stitch pattern is lovely.

I hope you had a great Christmas! Mine was really wonderful, despite a nasty cold, and my very sweet boyfriend gave me a copy of Socks, Sock, Socks (despite feeling a bit embarrassed standing in the Knitting/Crocheting section of the Barnes & Noble, he persevered until he found it), so I have many new plans for the new year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A recipe

I have finished dad's socks; they have been shipped off (with mom's socks) to the parents, and will arrive in time for Christmas. Whee!

Baby dress is also done, for the baby who was due on Saturday but has not yet arrived. Her mother is going to the hospital today to give her a little "inducement".

Pics to come shortly. Though, happily, dad's second sock looks much like the first, so you could just imagine the last picture doubled.

As a result of the FO frenzy, last night I found myself with no knitting demanding attention (what's that you say? I can't hear you. Did you say something about a "Kool-Aid lace sweater"? Did you say "Somewhat Cowl sweater"? I do not understand you; you'll have to speak up). I've brought out the yarn for the baby blanket I plan for the February baby, but in my swatching I have discovered I need a bigger needle, and I cannot borrow such needle from a friend until tomorrow.

So, I stopped in a farmer's market on the way home and picked up some collard greens and onions, and made a very fine soup, if I do say so myself.

And so, in my first official Departure from Knitting Entries, a recipe of sorts:

Collard Green Soup
Serves 2, with leftovers

Remove the tough ribs from a bunch of collards and tear the leaves into eatable pieces. Wash them.

Chop two small onions and smash several (about five or six) cloves of garlic. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a largish pot over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic. When the onion is soft, splash in some soy sauce.

(I added the soy sauce because I lacked bacon or ham or some other smoky, salty thing, the usual accompaniment to collards. I probably put in a couple tabelspoons, enough to give some flavor but not enough to taste of soy sauce.)

Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of white wine, and boil for a few seconds to cook off the alcohol. Pour in two cans of less-sodium fat free chicken broth (see how healthy this is?). Bring to a boil, then stir in the collards. Cover and simmer for 1/2 an hour.

Drain and rinse a can of white beans and add them. Simmer another fifteen minutes, or until beans are soft. Then season to taste with cumin (for more smoky flavor), salt, pepper, and cayenne. I made mine spicy with plenty of pepper and cayenne. Simmer another five minutes or so.

This was really delicious, and scary healthy. Low fat, high fiber, vitamin rich, and perfect for my sweetie, who has a bad cold. Sheesh.

In other news: Kimono Angora is on sale at WEBS. What's that you say? I already have 11.5 skeins of Kimono Angora burning a hole in my yarn stash? You'll have to speak up--I can't hear you over my drooling....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday madness

I've been slow to update the blog because holiday madness has taken over, and I have not done much knitting. This is starting to make me very nervous, as I still have one sock for dad to finish before Christmas!

Alas, because I am basically making up the sock (combining a couple different patterns and making up the heel flap based on the one [one!] I've done before--this caused by my failure to bring the right items on the plane with me), I made an error in second sock. OK, two errors: 1) I made the ribbbing one row too long. 2) I flipped the stitch pattern around to make symmetrical socks, without realizing that this meant I had to change the ribbing from k1, p1 to p1, k1.

Now, I caught error 1 fairly early, but I thought it wouldn't bother me. I told myself that my dad would never notice one extra row of ribbing and I don't have a lot of time; I should just keep going. Naturally, after another inch of knitting I concluded I Just Couldn't Bear It. So, I tried to fix the problem by dropping stitches and hooking them back up, only to discover error 2. Error 2 was noticeably ugly. I think even someone not anal about knitting would notice it.

Now, I know knitting is a forgiving craft. I know I could have fudged something. But I think fudging would have taken just as long as what I did: I frogged the whole thing and started over. >sigh< It took me only about three hours to get back to where I was, so perhaps in the grand scheme of things I have not lost a great deal of time. But: I have to ship the presents in time for Christmas, which means, by my reckoning, I have until Tuesday to finish the socks.

Guess what I will be doing this weekend? Baby dress (for a baby due any minute) has been put aside for the sock. All other projects are on hold. I am not even to think about/swatch for/fondle the yarn of a baby blanket I plan to make for a February baby. And I certainly am not to start fantasizing about this:

What, you might ask, is this? This is ten skeins of Kimono Angora. Ten skeins, won on eBay for very respectable amount. Ten skeins in the same colorway (though not the same dyelot) as the leftovers I have from my mom's socks. Which means I really have 11, maybe 11.5 skeins. I am drooling over the sweater I am giong to make with this!

January, will you never come??

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hawaii is not for knitters

So, I haven't been knitting much (I know!), because I have been on vacation in Hawaii (the Big Island). I have to admit: hiking, kayaking and snorkeling, not to mention volcanoes, mountains and beaches, don't leave a lot of room (or energy) for knitting.

Nevertheless, it does take thirteen hours to get to Hawaii, including the layover in LA--that's as long as it takes to get to Japan. (Actually, now that I think about it, the plane tickets to Japan in March were cheaper than to Hawaii in November. Hmm.) So, some knitting did get done, to wit:

One sock for dad, knit out of 100% cashmere from Smiley's.

I've also made progress on my Kool-Aid project:

This is the beginnings of the sleeve of the Vogue lace sweater. It's hard to really see the pattern, since lace benefits hugely from blocking, but I'm quite happy with it so far. As you can see, the variegations in the colors are making some nice subtle stripes, which I am liking quite a bit. I hope different balls don't lead to different patterning (always a danger with handpainted variegated yarn). But so far, I'm pleased.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Berry Blue + Grape = Teal?

Here is my yarn, happily boiling in Kool-Aid:

Looks tasty, doesn't it?

Here is is, rinsed, washed, and hung up to dry:

What you can't really see here is that I've actually produced a variegated yarn--the amount of yarn I had was really jammed into my 6-quart pot, so some parts of the yarn did not dye as thoroughly as others. I actually like this; I was a little worried the Kool-Aid would make for a rather flat color. My only concern is how it's going to knit up, since the variegation certainly does not follow any planned pattern. I hope I don't end up with large patches of light blue and large blotches of dark blue.

What you can tell from this photo is that the yarn has come out a blue that is almost teal. Not quite, but it definitely edges a little into green. Since I had blue and purple Kool-Aid, this puzzles me.

The answer, I think lies here:

The photo is blurry, but you can hopefully see in the center of that circle, the yarn I used to tie these skeins. That yarn was white 100% wool, and it's now purple. So that 34% silk in my main yarn is having a pretty significant effect. Happily, not only did it make the color turn teal, it also made it a strong and glossy color. It's not what expected, but I really, really, like it.

I hope it stays this nice as it dries!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Potato chip

So, I've reached the point of sewing up the baby dress, and my mom was visiting, so no work could be done on Dad's socks, so the only answer this weekend was a throwaway project, the potato chip scarf:

This is a free pattern from Knitpicks, and it's pretty simple: cast on 150 stitches, knit one row, Knit front and back of every stitch on the next row, knit two rows, knit front and back, etc. It's super easy, but what they don't tell you is that, since the stitch count increases exponentially, in no time at all your 150 stitches have become 1,200 stitches, and you're taking over an hour per row. Binding off took me well over two hours. I had to stop halfway because I had to go to bed. So, even though overall the scarf took me only about a day and a half, I feel like it took forever.

For you non-knitters out there, 1,200 stitches is a lot--the sweaters I make are usually between 200-300 stitches around. Now, of course there are many more stitches total in a sweater, but there's something about that psychological milepost of the finished row that makes for easy knitting.

I used two balls of Berroco Furz in plum and one ball of Le Fibre Nobili Geisha in cherry (I think). Both are fun furs I had in my stash, so at least this interminable scarf was a true stash-buster. I can tell you the Furz is a much nicer yarn to work with than the Geisha, but since they're both discontinued, I don't know how much use this info is :-)

This is a lousy picture of it on (boy, do I need to clean that mirror!), but hopefully you can see the scarf's charming tendency to corkscrew. I'm actually extremely fond of it. I can see how making scarfs for gifts can be addicting, my grad school experience aside. I am considering giving away this scarf, though the more I prance about in it, the less likely that becomes.

Yes, it is called the potato chip scarf because no one can make just one. Maybe next time I will make liberal use of stitch markers for milestones.

Saturday, November 11, 2006



What you see here are 15 packets of Berry Blue, and six packets of Grape. I'm supposed to have one packet for every ounce of yarn, so this is about right. I am hoping to produce a nice blue with hints of purple.

Where did I find it? A giant Gristedes, almost as big as a suburban supermarket (or so I like to think; whenever I go into one of those suburban places I am astonished a building can cover so much acreage without the roof falling in), about ten blocks from my house. They didn't have a lot of flavors, but they had the ones I needed.

My mom is visting me right now, and I think she will think I have gone completely over the deep end if she were to witness me boiling yarn in Kool-Aid, so I think I will wait 'til next week to begin the experiment :-).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cute pics

Here is my sweetie, humoring my strange penchant for taking pictures of knitting:

It is, alas, a bit big for him, though at least I got the circumference right!

He confirms it is very warm. And just in time, too, as it is just about winter-coat-and-hat weather here.

I am still ridiculously proud of this hat--and the guy who wears it :-).

Savor the irony

I am obsessed. I have now been to 7 stores (6 grocery stores [two Gristedes, one D'Agostino's, one C-Town, one Associated, one Food Emporium], and one Rite-Aid), and remain unable to find Kool-Aid. I have even gone out to Astoria, Queens, where my boyfriend lives in a somewhat more kid-friendly neighborhood, and, even though his grocery store has an aisle labeled "powdered drink mixes", there was no unsweetened Kool-Aid to be found. I guess moms today prefer to allow the Kool-Aid man or the Capri Sun lady to decide how much sugar goes in their kids' drinks.

So, this morning, I have gone online to find unsweetened Kool-Aid, and the first link turned up by Google is that old reliable, Amazon.

Go ahead, click on the link. Savor the irony:

"Ships from and sold by Gristedes Supermarkets of New York."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hey, Kool-Aid!

I was recently explaining to my friend Christina that there are not a lot of kids in my neighborhood. Small apartments + sky-high real estate costs makes for not a lot of families with small children.

This was brought home to me in the last day or two by my inability to find Kool-Aid.

The grocery store nearest my apartment had some Kool-Aid, but they were unusual "ethnic" flavors like "Jamaica" (browny-red), "Mango" (orangey-yellow) and "Tamarindo" (dirty brown). Tasty, I am sure, but unfrotunately not the colors I am looking for. I really just want some Blue Moon Berry, maybe mixed with some Lemon Lime or Grape Berry Squash.

So, I went to the next nearest grocery store, and get this--they don't carry Kool-Aid at all. I know! Even the checkout girl I asked was surprised when the manager told her. I mean, I know grocery stores in Manhattan are pressed for space and have to make some hard choices, but I feel there is something wrong with the world when there is no room for Kool-Aid.

I've lived in Manhattan ten years, and in that time I have been on more than few food quests. I once visited six grocery stores in search of guava paste. Glaceed cherries was quite a challenge. Dried porcini mushrooms, chipotle en adobo, Chimay Belgian ale....I am used to the hunt. I even get a thrill out of it.

But...Kool-Aid? Kool-Aid, the ubiquitous bug juice of my childhood, an exotic ingredient?

Where is the Kool-Aid man when you need him?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Project

Here is the sweater I bought in the thrift store on Saturday, two weekends ago:

It's a Casual Corner sweater, size XL, 66% wool, 34% silk. It's got a lovely sheen to it, and when measured in rib, it's about 7 stitches per inch. I bought it for $4.49 at the Goodwill store on 181st Street, waaaaayyyy uptown, in a Dominican neighborhood.

Here is the same sweater, unraveled into fluffy kinky balls. I love this stage, and the bounciness of these hanks of yarn.

Those same hanks, after washing, hanging in my shower to drip dry and unkink:

The finished product, 22 oz. of yummy (almost edible!) wool/silk yarn, waiting to be turned into lace:

But wait, wait, there's one more step. You see, I've decided that I simply cannot wear white lace. It's too girly. Quite honestly, I do not know what line white lace crosses to become "too girly", since, after all, I just finished knitting a pair of pink fuzzy angora socks, but I know it has crossed that line. So the only thing for it is to change the color of this lovely yarn.

How, you ask?


Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, here are mom's socks, on my feet:

I used, in total, slightly less than two balls of Louisa Harding Kimono Angora in color #4, and somewhat less than 3 balls of Elann's Baby Cashmere in "Claret," knit at 6 stitches per inch on size 3 double-points.

The pattern comes from the sock book shaped like a sock; I don't remember what the pattern is called, as I have already returned the book ton its owner :-).

It's got a subtle windowpane texture which is lost, visually, in the variegated yarn, but trust me: it looks nice in 3D.

The Kimono Angora is 70% angora, 25% wool, 5% nylon; the Baby Cashmere is 60% baby alpaca, 30% merino wool, and 10% cashmere. I guess that makes these socks 35% angora, 30% baby alpaca, 27.5% wool, 5% cashmere, and 2.5% nylon. Easily the most luxurious socks I have ever had on my feet. I love them, and I have been well-bitten by the sock bug. I think I will make socks for my dad for Christmas, too, in 100% cashmere, as he is a cashmere junkie.

I love the Kimono Angora, by the way: it is soft and fuzzy as angora should be, but it doesn't have the shedding I associate with angora and, most importantly, it doesn't itch. I'm not joking: I stuck my swatch inside my bra for a few hours and didn't notice it at all. Normally if I put something with angora next to my skin, it itches like crazy. This is a great tragedy for me, as I adore angora. But I can wear Kimono Angora! I only wish it weren't so darned expensive; I'd make a sweater out of it.

Maybe I can afford a Kimono Angora bikini :-).

Friday, October 27, 2006


I am not a big fan of knitted lace. I think it's a bit clunky, and not at all airy or ethereal, as lace should be. This is too bad, because knitting lace is actually kind of fun, what little I've done of it. I like yarnovers. I like it better than I like cables, which require too much fiddling around with a little cable needle that I'm always misplacing.

So, not being a fan of knitted lace, I have completely ignored most knitted lace patterns I've seen. Yeah, I thought, it would be fun, but it's ugly.

Then I saw this.

Now, I know that I am by no means the first or the only person to be impressed by the Yarn Harlot. I am very late to the party. And much, much praise has been heaped on this shawl, and justly so. It's stunning. It is so stunning that it has inspired in me a fierce desire to knit some lace.

Here's the problem: I have no use for a shawl. Lace knitters seem to knit lots and lots of shawls, and for the most part when I admire a piece of lace knitting, it is usually a shawl. They're pretty amazing. But my life is not a shawl-wearing life. I can barely keep the pashmina I have in my office to guard against the arctic air conditioning off of the floor long enough that I don't roll my chair over it more than three times a day. If I knit a shawl, it will lie folded up in my closet, to be admired on occasion but never worn. And even though that is the fate of a lot of my knitting, I just can't accept starting out a project with that understanding in mind. That's a lot of knitting for art's sake.

Unfortunately, last weekend I bought a sweater at a thrift store in a lovely cream 66% wool / 34% silk blend. As is my wont, I am the process of unraveling this beauty to have a sweater's worth of yarn for a mere $4.50. The yarn is thinner than I normally go for--it looks like sport or even fingering weight--and so, naturally, it has become the focus of my lace hunger.

And so, with my better judgment in full protest, I have been looking high and low for a top with a lace that is sufficiently pretty to feed my idea of what lace should be, yet not so over-the-top that it looks ridiculous, and have been having real problems. For a while, it looked like I might win the battle, Finicky Taste uniting with Better Judgment (not to mention a few things like WIP Baby Dress and WIP Mom's Socks) to fight off the lace urge long enough to let it die, as so many of my knitting urges do. Then, I flipped through the Winter Vogue Knitting again, and came upon this:

Mind you, I have flipped through this issue several times already, and never paused on this. It's ridiculously girly, and the stupid model's pose makes it impossible to tell what it looks like. But, but...look at that sleeve! I love the lace, and I love the way the end of the sleeve flares, and I love, love, love the geometric hem of the sleeve, which kind of reins in the floral fantasy. As for the rest of the thing....well. I like the ruffled neckline well enough (I actually am in a ruffle period in my life right now. I know: I need help), though it's a bit aggressive for my taste, and, frankly, combined with the lace it's just a little too much. I don't like the length--I'm not sure I'll have enough yarn for it, and I think it will look dumb.

But the major problem is, am I going to wear a lace top? In white, no less? Am I that princessy? Is there any way I could conceivably modify this that it would be wearable? Do I care?

Or, to put it more simply...what do I knit for?

Friday, October 20, 2006


As promised, some pictures.

Here is my sweetie's hat.

Yes, that's "hat," not "hats." It's a Mets hat on one side, and, when you turn it inside-out, it's a Rangers hat.

I am, I must admit, insanely proud of this hat. I made it up myself. I charted the design, I made the pom-poms. I basically figured out intarsia and duplicate stitching as I went along. Probably if I had it to do again, I would do things differently, and better, but I love this nonetheless.

I only hope it not to big for my sweetie's tiny pinhead :-).

Here is a pic of my mom's sock:

I knitted this with a strand of Elann's Baby Cashmere and a strand Louisa Harding Kimono Angora, held together. It is beautifully fuzzy and soft, and very warm: the perfect sleeping sock. Not bad fo my first attempt at sock-making, I must admit. And socks are the perfect portable kntting: I knitted the bulk of this one on a plane.

Now, I just have to finish the second one before Christmas!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Traveling and knitting

I realize I have been remiss in updating this blog, but I have been traveling (and knitting).

I am home now, with considerable progress made on:

1) Mom's socks: I have finished one sock, and it's soft and beautiful and I am totally in love with it.

2) My boyfriend's hat: the deadline for this is Nov. 10, but happily I am nearly done. It looks pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself, despite the challenges of the Rangers logo. I just have a lot of duplicate-stitch embroidery to do, and the finishing, which will be the tricky part. But I think I may even be done with this tonight!

3) A Lizard Ridge afghan: this is a pattern in the new knitty. I love it, even though I don't really like Noro Kureyon, and even though I flat-out hate afghans. Yet I could not resist this. It's pretty, each block is small and quick to knit, and it's interesting. I am almost done with the second of 22 blocks. I have no idea what I am going to do with it when it's done: I really dislike afghans.

The Somewhat Cowl and the mittens are stalled, alas, as I try to meet deadlines. In the twinkle-in-the-eye stage: a baby dress and booties for a friend having a baby in December, and a baby blanket for my boyfriend's brother, whose wife is having a baby in February.

Pictures to come!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The hazards of knitting

My hands and wrists have been hurting a lot lately, in part thanks to knitting.

My right wrist, in particular: I injured it some 15 years ago and it has not been the same since (don't get me started on how much I hate futons!). When it rains, it hurts. And when I've been typing or knitting too much, it hurts. It doesn't hurt where most people with carpal tunnel seems to hurt, on the underside. No, it hurts on the outside, right where that protruding knob is.

The sweater I've been working on is on Knitpicks Options needles, and I don't think this has helped. Normally I work on Denises, but the yarn I am using was too "grabby" on the ,so I switched to the Options. They're metal, and they lack flexibility. They hurt.

So, rather than stop knitting (hah!), I've done two things:

1) I've switched (back) to combination knitting.

2) I've bought some Handeze gloves:

I bought the kind that come up the fingers, since my fingers hurt, too. As far as I can tell, you can only get these on the website.

Don't I look like some kind of snazzy knitting superhero? Batknitter, or Purlgirl. I should be able to shoot hand-dyed wool from my wrists like Spider-Man.

They've been surprisingly helpful so far. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hey, cool hat!

I'm loving it:

I'm in the groove right now, that great groove where you love what you're knitting and you can't wait to finish it.

Alas, there are times (many times; most times) when that groove fails; you hit a pebble on the track, and suddenly you just don't care anymore. Something has happened to spoil your pleasure: you've made a mistake too huge to fix, you've realized the pattern is ugly/boring/unflattering. Maybe you're just very, very tired of cables, or of the feel of that yarn. You can't finish. You want to move on to something else, something more interesting, something where that groove is still waiting, something that is not starting to stink of failure.

Right now my mittens are languishing. I am ashamed. They are languishing because I can't decide how to decrease the top of the second mitten. I know I dislike how I did it on the first mitten, but I can't decide how to change it. Also the thumb is placed too low, I think, after having been placed too high on the first mitten. I feel defeated.

But the hat, the hat still loves me. It is still turning out the way I planned it in my head. Each row is a thing of beauty. I really, really, hope it stay this way, because I actually want to finish this one.

I just know it will be perfect.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Well, I've been working on that hat for my boyfriend, and I hate it. Check it out:

This is actually my third attempt. The first time through, my stranding across the back was a mess--much too tight, no doubt because I am stranding across 18 stitches. I've never really done intarsia before, and I'm just winging it and finding that doing it in the round is a mistake. The second tme through, I fixed the stranding tension, but the gauge was completely off, so I had to rechart it.

This is the third time, and it's perfect. The stranding is great:

And you can clearly see the pattern (yes, it's a Mets logo). It looks great, and I hate it.

My objection is simply that it looks like a hat you could buy. Blue with an orange logo centered on the front. Such hats ae everywhere. Sure, maybe my logo is a bit larger than your average commercial hat, but why go through all this trouble to make a hat I could buy?

I want a hat which will make other Mets fans say, "Hey, cool hat!"

It doesn't help that I want to make this a doubled hat, with a Rangers logo on the other side. The Rangers logo could not have been better designed to make it difficult to knit:

I've realized that the only thing to do is to make the logo huge, cut off the top and bottom, and make it more of an impressionistic Rangers hat. But this will make the Mets side all the more boring.

I've decided therefore, that, however proud I am about how good it looks, I must rip the whole thing out and start over. I'm going to blow up the Mets logo, too, rechart it, and do some serious intarsia, back-and-forth and seamed. This will be an interesting experiment.

I am learning, as I start designing, that I appear to be a hit-or-miss designer. This is frustratng to me, since knitting takes so very long. I want to get it right the first time! But I'm also an impatient type, and at a certain point I just want to dive in and knit; there's only so much visualizing, planning, and charting I can do (and it's a very small amount, I admit). So, I am resigning myself to rippng out a lot. I have to say, my poor blue yarn is looking a little ragged. It's tough stuff--Elann's Highland Wool--but I've now frogged it three times. Good thing it's cheap!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Last weekend, I visited my parents in San Francisco.

I get out there once a year on business, and I take the opportunity to see them while I am at it. It's a good deal.

This year, the first time I visited as a knitter, I discovered to my chagrin that I cannot knit while my father is talking.

Now, I am an obsessive enough knitter that I have knit wile conversing with many people, even with people who require more reciprocal interaction from me than my father, and I have done so without mistakes. Granted, I was working on my mittens, a relatively complicated two-color project, but I had completed the entire first mitten prior to the visit, without trouble. On the second mitten, with my dad talking, I made a mistake in the very first row. And the second row. And the fourth row. There is a mistake in the seventh row that I didn't catch and will have to fix with duplicate stitching. It is...magic.

That's the thing about parents. I can't remember who said it, but it's the truth: they know how to push your buttons because they installed them. I love my father, and for the most part his conversation (which begins the moment I set foot in the door and continues nonstop until the moment I leave, with little to no input from me) is simply an expression of his concern and love for me. I get that. In my old age it doesn't even bother me as much it used to.

Or does it? I thought I was doing fine, but there's that knitting, making a liar of me....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Knittin' mittens

I just wanted to say, I am loving my mittens. I designed them myself and am almost done with the thumb gusset on the first mitten. Since I made the cuff very long, this means I am about 5" into the knitting. I love how fast it's going. I've never made mittens before, but I am thoroughly charmed. I wonder if I will have the same reaction to socks?

I would tell more about my mittens, but I love them so much I think I may try to get them published. Wouldn't that be a hoot? We'll see how they turn out, first :-).

Because they're small, the mittens have me thinking about knitting gifts this year. I am definitely going to knit socks for my mom for Christmas--I am curious about sock knitting, and she did request a pair. I am knitting that hat for my boyfriend. But my boyfriend has several gift requirements this fall: there's our first date anniversary, then Christmas, then his birthday, all within two months. I feel that I cannot, however much I am tempted, give him knitted things for every occasion.

For one thing, I don't think I have the time to knit everything I want to knit in the first place.

For another, well: knitting doesn't excite him the way it excites me :-).

Besides, there's the Curse of the Love Sweater. Part of me wants to invoke it: I'm at a point in my life where, if it's not going to work out, I want to know sooner rather than later, and the Curse is as good a way as any to find out. On the other hand, I'd hate to put all that work and yarn to waste.

While I ponder it, here's another FO:

This is the second (technically third) thing I knitted, the alien illusion scarf from Stitch 'n' Bitch. It was a gift for my "pseudoniece." I'm not sure she much cared for it, which is why I am wary of giving too many knitted gifts. Knitting is just not interesting to non-knitters. When I was a non-knitter, I couldn't imagine ever taking up knitting, because I just didn't see myself ever needing that much knitted stuff. Indeed, though I've knitted quite a few things, I find I hardly ever wear them. Part of this is, well, it's summer right now, and too beastly hot to wear anything knitted. As fall settles in, we'll see where my knitted garments stand.

At least I'll have a pair of gorgeous warm mittens!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not enough pictures on this blog

Real knitting blogs have pictures, many pictures of FOs.

I have only recently acquired a digital camera. I'm a Luddite, you could say: I am the only person I know (other than my parents) who does not own a cellphone. For years I held out against digital cameras. I don't care what they say: prints from digital files are flat and grainy. I've yet to see a digital print that I thought was of decent quality. Yes, I know professional photographers use digital cameras today, but I am not a professional photographer; I take snapshots, and so do my friends. And every digital snapshot I've ever seen has been flat and grainy.

Doubtless the secret is in the megapixels, but for now, I hold stubbornly onto my film camera, and I have bought the cheapest possible digital camera for blog pics.

Here are pics of my first project, that beaded sweater knitted on size 3 needles:

(My friend took these pics with her digital camera.)

I believe I used Anny Blatt Baby wool, and got 7 stitches per inch. I honestly don't know if I will ever be able to do that again. I love the fabric small needles make, but I am just too impatient to knit at such a small gauge. I want to be done so I can move onto the next thing!

Yet I hate chunky knits, so I will never be a big gauge girl. For now I seem to have settled on DK (5.5 spi) as my favorite gauge.

Now, if I am being absolutely honest, this is not the very first thing I ever knitted. The very first thing was a scarf I knit in grad school, in 1992. I knit it in the round, with broad black-and-white stripes, and if you laid the scarf out flat you could see that the stripes were actually large letters which spelled "Brian" (the friend for whom the scarf was a gift). I designed it with the help of a knitting friend and, I must say, it turned out nicely. I also was so bored by the end of it I swore never to knit again.

Fast-forward 13 years, and a beaded sweater on size 3's was the perfect distraction for a broken heart. Hopefully I will never have to take such drastic measures again!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Project Runway

I recently discovered Project Runway. My friends had talked about it, they'd even shown me episodes from Season 2. But I had not been hooked until recently.

The first episode I saw this season was the dog episode. I don't like dogs, and I especially despise those little yappy dogs that people put clothes on. In my neighborhood there are two "dress your dog in stupid and expensive crap" stores within three blocks of my apartment. I know New York City is full of weirdos with too much money, but can there really be that high a demand for this stuff?

But nevertheless, I loved the dog episode of Project Runway. I suppose you could say I loved it despite the dogs. I loved the criss-cross bodice onMichael's outfit. I loved the mix-and-match prints of Uli's outfit. I loved the super cool pleated neck of Keith's dress (though I loathe Keith).

I used to be a sewer, and I admit Project Runway appeals most to the buried sewer lurking beneath the knitter. Alas, sewing is difficult to do in a small apartment: you get little bits of thread and tissue paper and fabric everywhere. I am no neatnik by any stretch of the imagination, but this drives even me to distraction. I fear that sewing will not return to my lineup of hobbies until I have a dedicated room for it. Someday.

Knitting has an advantage over sewing in that it is fairly portable and contained. I can do it sitting on my couch watching Project Runway, and it doesn't get all over the place. Sure, I find bits of yarn here and there, but even when weaving in ends the bits of yarn do not add up to an unbearable mess.

The other advantage I am finding with knitting over sewing is that I am far more likely to experiment. Knitting has stretch, so you don't have to make the pieces fit utterly perfectly; close enough is good enough. If you find you don't like something, you can rip it out and all you've wasted is time; with sewing, if you cut a piece of fabric wrong, you've cut it wrong. I am jumping into design so much more readily than I ever did with sewing: I cannot remember a single time I took liberties with a pattern in years of sewing (I mean real design liberties, not fitting adjustments), yet I have already done it in mere months of knitting. The mittens and the hat I am knitting are of my own design, and it is only a matter of time before I start a bigger garment on my own. I love this, and the design process is starting to fascinate me in a way it did not before. Hence my fascination, perhaps, with Project Runway.

However, knitting has one huge disadvantage over sewing: it takes forever to make anything. If I am focused I can whip out a sewn garment in a weekend; a skirt might take only a few hours. With knitting I consider a month for a tank top lightning fast. There are times when I find this wildly frustrating.

With all the knits coming into fashion this fall, I am imagining a knitter on Project Runway, with 2 days to make a three-piece outfit to star in the window of Macy's. Even a tank top, leg warmers and a shrug would take longer. It's simply not possible. I will have to relegate that fantasy to my buried sewer.

But....but if I had been on this season, I might still have knit a ridiculous sweater for the dog.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stash busting

From my wanderings in the online knitting world, I gather that many, many knitters have multiple "WIP"s, or works-in-progress. When I started knitting, I was bound and determined not to start anything new until I had finished the thing I was working on. In fact, I even swore I would not buy yarn for any project until I had finished the one I had "on the needles."

You can imagine how long that lasted.

I used to be a sewer (as in one who sews, not a drainage pit). I have stashes of fabric in a two different closets, fabric I will never get to in a million years. Now I have yarn to match. It's a sickness, this need to hoard.

I am proud, though: two of my last three FOs came from yarn in my stash. I feel particularly proud because when I purchased these two yarns, I did not have the projects they eventually became in mind. I consider this a true stash-busting achievement.

Never mind that in the course of knitting these two projects I bought enough yarn for three more. We must accentuate the positive.

Right now I have three things I am knitting:

1) a hat for my boyfriend (the first gift I ever gave him, when we had been dating a mere six weeks, was a hat I had knitted. I am starting a small tradition). I am knitting this from yarn I bought for the purpose.

2) mittens, also from purpose-bought yarn.

3) a Somewhat Cowl sweater (pattern from Knit and Tonic) in yarn I bought on a whim, with no project in mind. A true stash-buster.

Maybe I should try a new resolution: I must always have one true stash-buster on the needles. Something I am knitting from a yarn that has been in my stash for long enough that I have lost interest in the project I bought it for. If I bought it with no project in mind, even better.

It's not that I don't have ideas: right now I am obsessed with an idea I have for a dress, using a silk yarn in my stash, bought for no reason but that I loved it. But a dress is an enormous amount of knitting, and I have not yet dived fully into designing, and so I am intimidated by the project. Maybe by the time I get through that Somewhat Cowl, I'll have built up the courage.

Or I will have moved on to the next idea. I always have more ideas than I have time to knit. Which is how the stash began in the first place.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You know you're addicted to knitting when you start blogging about it.

I used to think I didn't have anything to say that would be of interest to the general world.

I still think I don't.

But, I have become addicted to knitting, and I read a number of knitting blogs, and I understand: a blog is where you can go on and on about knitting without boring your friends, your family, your coworkers....

So, a bit about me and my knitting journey:

I started knitting in September of 2005, as a cure to a broken heart. My first project was a beaded short-sleeved sweater knitted on size 3 needles (from Sarah Dallas' Vintage Knits). The friend who taught me to knit thought I was crazy, but I needed something on which to focus. Also, I didn't see any point in knitting something I wouldn't wear, and I have never been a chunky sweater fan.

I finished the sweater six weeks later, and a coworker exclaimed (admittedly while eating a chocolate cookie I'd also made), "You made that?! [Ex's name] is stupid!"

Is there any wonder I became addicted?

Since then I have made quite a few tops (and reaffirmed my dislike of chunky knits), and a hat for a new boyfriend. My stash has begun to take over my apartment, causing me to seriously consider buying new furniture to house it. I intend to start my first pair of socks soon, as a Christmas present for my mom. And I am starting to do a bit of designing, and I can see already that I will not be able to knit fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head. This is going to be fun!

I hope the blog will be half so interesting.