Friday, December 26, 2008


No, I haven't abandoned the blog. It's just that I wanted my next post to be about my completed Ingenue and how much I was enjoying it. I kept thinking of other things to post, but then I'd put it off because I didn't want to waste time blogging when I could be knitting. Slight problem with that tactic.

It's never going to be done. It's's in the Hell do other people do it so much faster? I mean, I know I'm knitting two or three sizes larger than my size because my gauge turned out to be so tight, but that just means that I'm only knitting as much as someone two or three sizes up from me would legitimately be knitting, right?

Yes, I swatched. And washed the swatch. Twice. And I should have frogged and restarted once I realized that this was going to be a problem, which I did realize about three inches down from the neckline, but I didn't. I made the choice and committed to this gauge and the modifications I'd have to do in order to make it work.

I am further along than this now, but it feels like not very much further along. I have the body done, but I need to undo the lower hem and a couple of inches in order to lengthen it and move the pattern up a little bit. I've resisted doing it so far because the only thing keeping me going with it is my ability to try it on and see how cute it's eventually going to be. If I undo the hem, I lose the ability to even do that. One arm is knit to about the midpoint of my elbow, but I can now see that I've picked up too many stitches around the bound off area, so there's too much fabric there. It's bunching up in a way that I don't think I'm going to be able to accept. I really ought to undo that arm back to the lifeline and redo it for a closer fit.

I keep pushing out the deadline. First, it was the end of November. Then it was last Friday, because I was going to wear it to a coworker's going-away lunch. Then it was Christmas Eve. Then it became "I'll work on it on Christmas Eve and have it done I'm just lying to myself." The current unrealistic goal is New Year's Eve. We'll see. Maybe I should put it away for a couple of weeks and make it January's sweater.

So much yarn out in the stash bins, and I'm still stuck on this one project. I really need to sit down and figure out how to use that knitting machine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chugging Along

I'm a few rounds below the sleeves. It feels like slow going. I keep reminding myself that this isn't a chunky knit, so it's going to take longer to see progress on it. Also? This thing's going to attract pet hair more strongly than a Furminator.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Strange Public Lives of Birds, Part 2

Remember when there were only two of them?

Our office park has been overrun by turkeys. We stood in my soon-to-not-be-my-boss's office and counted them. Thirty-five birds had gathered on the patch of grass outside his window. They'd been out in the parking lot a few minutes earlier, a couple of the hens perched on the roof of a minivan, most of them wandering around the cars.

Of course, this meant that everyone in the building with a camera had to come out and take a picture, so then we had two flocks circling the parking lot, one flock of turkeys and one flock of people holding their cameras at arm's length to try to get the closest shot possible of a puffed-out tom.

The turkeys made a long circle through the parking lot and came back to the shaded grass. This might have seemed like a smart strategic move, because very few of us had cameras equipped to shoot in that light, so they'd found a way to be left alone. Then again, they're turkeys. I don't think they're capable of strategic thinking. Yes, I know, noble creature being underestimated by the arrogant humans and we don't understand animal intelligence and they probably evolved from dinosaurs so they've been around a lot longer than we have and blah blah blah, alright? Nothing against the turkeys, but it's not like they're going to form a war college or anything.

As evidence, I present this picture. This is what happens when turkeys turn and take flight and they don't see the five-story building in their path. This, friends, is turkey snot on a window.

"It literally smacked the snot out of itself. Why did Ben Franklin think that this should be our national bird?"

"Well, he (Franklin) was kind of heavy. Maybe he liked them because they were the only birds he could catch."

In other news, here's yesterday's progress on Ingenue. I'm halfway done with the increase section. It's not coming along as fast as KnottyGnome's, but it is coming along. I love the colors of hers. I wish I had more green in my stash.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Did I finish it on time? Yes, yes I did. Do I love it? Yes...sort of. It could be a wee bit narrower and a smidge longer in both the sleeves and the body, and it'll probably benefit from a row of crochet along the inside of the neck to keep it from sliding down my shoulders, but it doesn't NEED any of those things and everyone seems to love it as it is, so I'll probably never lengthen or tighten up any of the edges.

Did I wear it proudly to my dearest friend's wedding? Uh, yeah, about that. You know how Tulare in November is usually a grey, misty affair? Fog caressing the ridges of the fallow ground and all that? Perfect weather for a wool capelet over a heavy jersey dress? Funny thing about that. It was hot and sunny on Saturday. Record-breaking heat and surprisingly strong sun. I put the sweater on to shield my back from the burning solar rays, but it was back off again within seconds each time I tried. So now I have a sunburnt neck and cleavage, the itchiest kind of sunburn, by the way, but no modeled pictures of my little sweater.

Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet for the gauge and the number of stitches to cast on, but it's my own beyond that.

Bouton d'Or Dandy in 'Raisin', Anny Blatt Victoria in 'Chocolate', probably no more than three hundred yards of each. Once I recount the Dandy left in my stash, I'll have an exact yardage measurement. Both yarns were from the stash, so it's another stash-bust quick hit. Woohoo!

Boye Interchangeables with the size 13 tips for most of it, Brittany 13s for the sleeves. I'd forgotten how much of a difference a sharper point makes when knitting certain yarns. The Brittany needles seem really blunt when compared to the Boyes. I used the Brittanys for the sleeves because it was easier than continually pulling the stitches up onto the needles from the Boye cable. The transition from the join to the body of the needle is really steep on the larger sizes, so my stitches kept tightening up as they slid down to the cable. I spent a lot of time grabbing them between my fingers and working them up to the end so that I could knit them.

I started on Monday night, and I finished seaming the arms on Friday night. If I could string the hours together, I'd say it was about a ten-hour job. If I'd had a long, straight, aluminum 13 needle, it probably would have taken about half that amount of time.

Modifications/Design Notes
I thought I'd try something a little different, so I added short rows along the bottom of the whole sweater to give it a little cut-away action. I started wrapping and turning at six stitches from each front edge, then repeated at twelve, eighteen, twenty-four, and so on, until I'd done a couple of w&ts that would show up at the back. I didn't go all the way to the center of the back with them. In the flat picture, it looks like this would give me a little bit curved edge on the back. When I wear it, the edge looks almost straight. I have to imagine that this thing would ride up something fierce if I didn't add a lot of shaping to it.

The original Anthropologie capelet had short sleeves, but I thought my version would look better with at least an elbow-length sleeve. I knit twenty rows down on the sleeve, increased nine stitches evenly across the width, then knit another six or seven rows and a four-row garter border. Why'd I knit the arms flat? No needle suitable for knitting them in the round. I tried with the Boyes, but the stitches looked so bad that I had to unravel all of that sleeve and start over.

What else is different? I kept it stockinette-side out. There's no ribbing. The increases are kfb instead of yarnovers. It's not really an AIC. I keep trying to make it, and I keep making something else.

When I hugged the bride's father, he said, "Long time no see! Showing more chest than I remember!" Thanks, bride's father! That's just the kind of compliment a girl loves to hear. Realizing that I'd knit a perfect boob frame, I scrambled to find a way to make it more modest. As it turns out, the stitches on the front edge are so loose that one can easily thread the tie cords through them and lace up the sweater. The bride's stepdaughters suggested this modification. Thanks, bride's stepdaughters! I might crochet some loops to the fronts to make it easier to do this in the future.

There is one picture of the sweater and the dress together under the blinding rays of the unforgiving sun. Guess what? I don't have that picture with me. Guess what else? The colors of the sweater and the dress don't match under intense light. The two look like they were meant to go together under most other lighting, though, so the little sweater's still going to be permanently paired with the dress.

I'm sorry I don't have more FO pictures, but I didn't make time to take them so now I don't have them and I don't want to wait until I take more to post about the project because I just want to move on, you know?

If I'd known it was going to be ninety degrees last Saturday, and if I'd known that other women were going to be less dressy than I am on a typical Tuesday at work, I might not have bothered making this sweater. I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish it on time, and knitting under pressure makes me stressy.

And bitchy, the Woman. Don't forget bitchy. Where were my hours of soothing ear massages? Replaced by your screechings of 'Buddy, for Christ's sake! Shut your pie-hole! Don't get fur on that! Stop f$*king with the dog! JeeSUS!' I am distraught, the Woman. - Buddy the Cat

I'm sorry, Buddy. I know I wasn't pleasant to deal with last week.

I'm sorry as well, the woman. Sorry for what your attitude forced me to do on the bedroom carpet. You know that I have a nervous stomach. - BtC

Well, given that response, perhaps it wasn't worth it. But I don't know. Bird's been my friend since the fifth grade, and that's worth working hard to look a little snazzy. I'm so happy for her.

Bird and I have had some grand adventures in our time. Our nicknames alone would make great titles for children's stories. "Bird and Banana Beseige the Burger King" or "Bird and Banana Beleaguer the Bovines". No, not cow tipping, because that'd be cruel, and Bird and I would never have done anything purposely to hurt those cows. We loved them. Besides, cows don't necessarily sleep standing up. They spring to their feet pretty quickly when a camera flash goes off in their faces, though. And then, startled and confused, they pee. For several minutes. I don't know exactly how long, because we were chased back to our car by a ranch-hand shouting at us in Portuguese before they'd finished. I need to track down the pictures and find the time to tell the stories, but that's for another day.

Now I can get back to my NaKniSweMo project, Ingenue. I finished the yoke last night and I'm on the upper body and sleeves. Ahhh. Little needles and round after round of stockinette. Oh, how I've missed you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

third world hell hole spitting ground

The readers have spoken. Thank you, readers! Capelet it is.

I'm four inches into it, with another three and a half to go before separating the sleeves. It took a little less than an hour last night, with most of that time taken up by struggling to find the right needles to use with this combination of yarns. This is one situation where my beloved Brittany Birch needles are a bad choice. The yarns tightened up on them so badly that I couldn't get the stitches to move to the end of the needles. It's now being knit on Boye Needlemaster size 13 US, which is giving me three stitches per inch.

This is one strand of Dandy and one strand of Victoria. I like how it's turning out so far, shiny just often enough to give it some zing, but not all-over flashy.

I've already deviated from the pattern quite a bit. I did a garter neckline instead of ribbing, and I'm doing kfb increases instead of yarnovers. I'm planning on making it much longer, and it's going to have 3/4 length flared sleeves. All of these things might change as I get closer to the deadline.

What's with that subject line? I sometimes get bored and start reading through the comments in the articles on SFGate. This one was about the California State University system tightening up its enrollment process. Somehow, the conversation devolved to the point where one of the commenters began complaining, at length in several posts, about loogies on the sidewalk at SFSU. "It's not just on the ground! They'll spit on your car! People spitting everywhere! They'll spit on your shoes! It's DISGUSTING!" I'd almost believe that the comments are a joke intended to lighten the heated discussion, but what if I'm wrong? What if the campus is really overrun by serial expectorators? I just grossed myself out a little.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick Pick. Seriously. Quick! Pick!

Quick! I have to make a decision and I have to make it soon-ish. I own this dress. Bought it at a consignment store for forty bucks, because really? Two hundred and fifty smackers for this thing, Betsey?

I have this yarn, about six hundred yards of the Anny Blatt Victoria, and a thousand of the Bouton d'Or Dandy. This is the other color I was talking about in the Alexandra posts, the raisin color.

I'm going to a wedding next weekend in Tulare, a place not necessarily known for its mild, spaghetti-strap suitable climate in mid-November. I realized this weekend that I would be unable to find and buy anything that would go with this dress in the stores, because it's kind of an odd color and I've kind of blown my clothing budget for the next six months on some basics at Ann Taylor Loft. Also, as the dress was only forty bucks, it seems silly to spend more than that in time and money for an accessory to wear with it. I subsequently realized that I have two yarns that match perfectly with the dress. I then realized that I had less than a week to decide what to make and knit it. I need help!

Here are the things to consider:

- I do NOT look like the model. When I gain weight, even a pound, I thicken up around the middle first. Not saying that I wouldn't want or wear a cropped sweater, but it's something to keep in mind.

- Accountant Boy and I are the photographers at the wedding. This may play into the decision between shawl and shrug/sweater. It might be awkward with the constant readjusting.

- I have four days to do whatever I'm going to do. During the drive to Tulare, I'm going to be sitting in the back seat with Winston, who gets carsick if the road isn't completely straight and smooth. I will not be able to knit on the drive. Sure, I've done this kind of close timing thing before, but I'd rather not do it again.

My choices are:

- Swamp Witch - I think I could knock this out in an evening or two. It'd be a skein or two of Dandy and Victoria knit together on big needles. It wouldn't be as bulky as the one pictured. I could, decide at a point during the knitting to bind it off, sew up the sides and make it a shrug, or knit it full-length and put some buttons along one side so that it'd be convertible. I saw a pattern like that a few days ago and thought it was brilliant. This is, therefore, the most flexible option.

- Carie Cropped Cardigan from Fitted Knits (Ravelry Link) - I like the neck shaping, and I'd be willing to spare the two or three hundred yards of Dandy to make it. On the other hand, it's going to pull in and button right where I don't need a button if I want to avoid having people ask if I'm pregnant. (It's the curse of the thick-middled petite gal, that question. My usual response is, "No! And by the way, f&$k YOU!", but I don't think that'd be appropriate at my oldest friend's wedding.) I could modify the lower band so that it was more flattering, maybe have it cut away instead of fastening.

- Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet - I've always liked it, and my attempt to make a smaller-gauge version earlier this summer wasn't a complete failure, although I never actually wear it because, well, see constant whining above re: my torso. This is my least likely choice, because the way the fronts slant down and away toward the widest point of my chest, but it'd also be the fastest, so it's in the running.

I need to decide in the next couple of hours, because I want to cast on at lunch. Help!

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Way, Way Back

"That sweater is so '70s!"

I don't remember which of them said it, Daisy or The Wolf's girlfriend, but that what what was exclaimed when I pulled out the pattern for this sweater.

"Actually, it's from 1984, not the '70s," I replied defensively. "I think it's going to look cute, and not in a retro, half-mocking, 'look how self-assuredly I wear these completely dated clothes because I am unconventional' way."

"Oh my God, it IS totally '70s!" That would almost certainly have come from The Wolf's girl, because I remember being inwardly annoyed about it, as she wasn't even born yet, being at most only a year older than my pattern leaflet. What did she know about anything before the smothering flannel waves of the grunge movement?

There wasn't much point in discussing it with Daisy, as she has a degree from Parsons and did some fashion drawing while she was there, so she'd know a little more about it than I would. She was at Parsons while I was in high school. I remember my wardrobe from back then - stirrup pants, coordinating knee-length sweaters, spiral perm - and those memories are strong enough to remind me that I have no place telling anyone else anything about fashion.

"Well, anyway, I'm giving it a go, so..." My sentence trailed off into dead air as I walked away, but it continued on in my mind. " I guess we'll just see who's making disco jokes when it's done. This is going to be a great, timeless sweater."

I feel protective of this pattern. We've traveled a long road together. Way back in 1993, when I was in school at Santa Barbara, I signed up for a knitting class. Our first projects weren't scarves or hats. No, our instructor, who may or may not have taught beginning knitters before, suggested that we dive right into sweaters if sweaters were what we wanted to make. Knowing what I know now, I'd probably have recommended at least one rectangular scarf.

Anyway, my first sweater was going to be a seafoam green turtleneck. I bought a Patons booklet with several variations of very basic sweaters, and enough seafoam green yarn to make my first knitted garment. The problem with this was that the patterns were all designed for DK-weight yarn, and there was something like three inches of ribbing at the lower hem. I don't know if you remember your very first knitting project, or how slow you were in the beginning, but I remember how slow I was. Five classes in, I was still knitting that ribbing while the other students were learning how to seam. Every Thursday night, I sat at the little round table at the back of In Stitches and fell further and further behind. Everyone else laughed and had a good time while I concentrated on the same section of ribbing with my tiny needles. I felt like crying.

The instructor noticed my distress during the sixth week and suggested that I pick out a different project that would use bigger needles. That project was Crystal Palace '206 - Alexandra'. Not surprisingly, they didn't have the yarn called for in the pattern. For all I know it had been discontinued in 1985. To this day, I've never found any information about it. She looked at the pattern gauge and picked a substitute based on stitch count. Here's why I think she might not have been all that experienced. She picked Lambs Pride Bulky. Like I said, I don't know anything about Alexandra, but I'd bet that it's probably more of a lofty worsted or aran weight than truly bulky. But the pattern said 3.5 stitches per inch, so that's what we grabbed out of the bins, nine skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in a color of blue that they don't make anymore, but was somewhat akin to Grover from Sesame Street. I dove happily into my new project.

I didn't finish before the end of the class, and because money was tight for us as college students, I didn't sign up for the next round. I finished it on my own a few months later, and the results were predictably bad. I didn't know how to seam, barely remembered how to bind off, and didn't know thing one about wool care. When the sweater was finished, I was able to stand it up on the counter without anything inside it. It was as dense as plate armor. "Maybe if I wash it in hot water it'll loosen up..." You can guess at what happened next.

I didn't knit again for a long time. In 2002, while on a trip to JoAnn's to buy fabric for a cushion, I picked up a skein of green yarn from a bargain bin. I only remembered how to do a long-tail cast on and how to knit, not purl. I cast on and knit until I ran out of yarn, and Daisy had to show me how to bind off. I still have that scarf, the green Lion Brand Homespun scarf. That simple rectangle, and seeing the things that Daisy was able to do with her knitting, really started me on it. I taught myself everything beyond casting on, knitting and purling from reading Stitch N' Bitch. If you ask me how long I've been knitting, I'll say six years, but really it's more like fifteen with a long break in the middle.

I still have the Paton's booklet with the turtleneck, v-neck and crew neck pullovers and cardigans. They're hideous by today's standards, clearly out of date. You wouldn't think such a thing is possible for something so simple, but if I'd taken a picture of that pattern booklet, you'd see that I'm right. Two years ago, the seafoam yarn became Bristow.

I kept the blue monstrosity around until a couple of years ago, when I finally steeled my nerve enough to throw it out. I wish I still had that sweater, because it'd be fun to compare it to this one. Maybe it's better this way.

Crystal Palace Yarns '206 - Alexandra'. This pattern was published in 1984. I purchased it in 1993. It was the second knitting pattern I ever purchased.

37" (small) to fit my bust at approximately 35" without padding. If I assume that the stitches relaxed by a quarter-stitch per inch, that makes this sweater about 40" at the bust, which is probably about right based on how it's fitting right now. If I'd wanted it to fit the way it does on the model, I'd probably have needed to knit the large. And I'd need to be the size of a petite wood sprite. Look at how big the arms are, even at her wrists.

Bouton d'Or Dandy in Cordouan, 70% wool/30% silk, knit at 3.5 st/in. It's relaxed to about 3.25 st/in after wearing it for a few hours, which has given it an even nicer drape and a little bit of fuzziness.

I got this yarn from the clearance bin at Fashion Knit. I really like it, which can only mean that it's been discontinued.

Brittany Birch 6 US for the ribbing, 9 US for the body. Addi Turbo 16" circular, size 10 US for the neck. The Addi being slightly smaller than a standard size 10 and my gauge being tighter in the round evened everything out. There's no noticeable difference in size between the body and the cowl ribbings.

October 19 to November 1st. I was aiming for a week, but two weeks still isn't bad. I don't think I could have done it much faster. The sixteen inches of cowl ribbing made me feel like I was knitting an entire second sweater body.

I tried really hard to knit this exactly to pattern - no knitting in the round to avoid seams, no changing the drop sleeves to set-in or raglan, no getting rid of some of the yoke ribbing. I don't know what put that idea into my head. I guess I thought it'd be fun to reknit this sweater now and see if the original pattern would hold up over time.

I did make a couple of changes. I went all the way out to the shoulders with the ribbing stair-steps at the yoke because I remembered the way my original sweater looked with only the few columns of ribbing going up to the neck. It looked like an ant poison stake. Didn't want a repeat of that visual. Have I mentioned that ant stakes are scented with chemicals that smell like peanut butter to insects and small animals? Have I also mentioned that Winston is especially fond of peanut butter and of chewing plastic? As it turns out, the newer, safer ant stakes aren't all that toxic to larger dogs or to people, so he suffered no ill effects from crunching down on the stake and licking out the gooey insides. But ribbing that might remind me of an ant stake every time I look in the mirror? Let's not.

I shortened the body by two inches, which was easy to do as the two pieces are shapeless rectangles. I simply started the yoke ribbing sooner. Finally, because I thought seaming the length of a cowl neck would be difficult and make the cowl unattractive, I knit that in the round.

I'm really happy with it, even though it doesn't look quite like the picture on the leaflet. I like that the cowl's smaller, almost like a really relaxed turtleneck. I honestly don't know how they got it to look like it did on the model. In addition to being allover tiny, she must have had a very, very slender neck.

I used up another 850 yards from my stash, and now I know how far 850 yards of aran weight yarn will go. There's a lot of yarn still out there in the garage. I need these benchmark projects to figure out what I can do with it. In fact, I have another twelve hundred yards of this yarn in a darker color, and two skeins in a toffee shade. Now I know that it's enough to make a roomy pullover with a 16" ribbed cowl.

I love this sweater. I kind of still wish I had the more drapey, twelve-inches-of-positive-ease sweater from the leaflet, but not enough to turn around and knit it again right away. When I do make another one, I'll knit more of it in the round and maybe, maybe set in the sleeves and switch to much bigger needles for the cowl. I don't know, though. Maybe I'd do it just like this one. It came out alright without all of that. I don't think I'll look back in twenty years and say, "Can you believe what we were wearing back then? Oh my God, it's SO 2008!"

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Ocean Blue

I changed my mind about the Black Water Abbey sweater. That might be the December or January project. After seaming Alexandra, which was a big pain in the ass because a reverse stockinette edge is harder to keep track of than right-side stockinette edge, and after trying on the slouchy end product (pictures and FO post pending), I decided that I needed something with less finishing, and something that would be more form-fitting. I've swatched for Ingenue from Custom Knits and I'm going to cast on for it today.

Look at this stuff. I've got two balls of it, about eleven hundred yards if I've guessed right on the weight and size. It's a gorgeous inky blue with a little bit of charcoal. I'm going to be knitting it along with a strand of Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro, purchased way back during Stitches 2005, in black. It's a Stitches reunion project! The carryalong is giving the Interlacements mystery wool more softness and just enough of a gauge boost to bring it up from light worsted to regular old worsted. I've been knitting with some pretty heavy aran yarns lately, so it's weird to work with a thinner weight.

In other news, A.B. and I drove to Santa Cruz yesterday to see the historically accurate replica of the NiƱa. That's a teensy little vessel! We had no idea it was so small. I'm pretty sure the Alcatraz ferries are twice as big.

If you're further down the California coast from Santa Cruz, be on the lookout for it in a port near you between now and the new year. It's worth the five bucks to climb aboard and gaze out over the bow toward the open ocean.

Friday, October 31, 2008


In the interest of not putting yarn back in the bins, I took the rest of the Silkroad Aran from FEFI and made this sporty scarf. It took about three hours last Friday. Stash busting isn't just for big projects. Every little bit counts.

Hmmm. Yeah. Not so much. I chained until I thought it'd be long enough once it stretched out a little, somewhere around 60" (stretched out to about 72"). Turned around and half-double crocheted across. As I ran out of one color, I'd add another. I had this idea that it'd create a color block effect, but it didn't quite come out as I'd planned. It would have worked if I'd done a taller stitch. I thought about fringe for the ends, but it seemed like it would have made the whole thing too fussy.

Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in the following quantities: Parchment - 25 grams, Merlot - 25 grams, Casket - 34 grams, Venezian - 14 grams.

Brittany Birch size K. Good, big hook. I have a set of metal hooks, and I use them when the yarn's clingy, but I much prefer the Brittany hooks.

Rough guess? Maybe three hours. I started it here at work last Friday, and then when my boss' boss came by and asked why we were all still hanging around on such a nice day, I packed it in my purse and took it home. I remember watching 'Fast Money' while working on it, and I think I was done about halfway through Cramer's show.

I hate to say it, but I think I love this scarf about a hundred times more than the Fairly Easy Fair Isle sweater. I think up excuses to wear it, find myself looking for casual tops that will just 'happen' to go with it.

It's slightly itchy around my neck, which tells me that I wouldn't want to make a turtleneck out of Silkroad Aran. A.B. asked me last night if I'd bought any more SA in the discontinued colors. "Shouldn't you do that before it's all gone?" Good man, that A.B.

I love half-double crochet. Look at how cool those rows look. It's reversible, which is a prerequisite for any scarf that I make. If I have to keep worrying about the right side showing when it's hanging around my neck, then forget about it.

I'm getting better at photo location scouting around my house. I think it's a matter of getting to know the new house and coming to terms with how different it is from the old one. In the old house, the front room got pretty much the same light all year round because it faces south-southeast, so I could always use the chaise for flat pictures, and the kitchen for modeled shots. This house is on the lot in such a way that the light in the summer is totally different from the light in the winter. We're in the part of the year where the natural light comes in at dramatic angles. Good thing I took this picture when I did, because when the house isn't being lit at dramatic angles, it's very, very dark. That's why my modeled picture was taken at work. Pale skin and wide pupils mean that I can't ever use a flash when taking a picture of myself without looking like a demon.

All I have left on Alexandra is the arm seaming and attaching. I got the sides sewn up last night, and I tried it on. It's a tad small when compared to the voluminous sweater shown on the model, but it's a good fit on me. I can't wait until it's done...which it has to be by the end of the night tonight so that I can start on my November sweater. Here's yet another reason that A.B. is the best husband in the whole wide world. When I told him that I had a deadline for Alexandra, he told Buddy and Winston that they needed to settle down and stop hassling me. "Guys, the Woman has to knit. Leave her alone. How's it going, honey? Can I get you a soda while you work?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Ah, memories. It seems like only yesterday I took this picture of my haul from Stitches West 2007. The patterns, the yarns, the lovely Jordana Paige bag full of so much hope. What has become of the pieces of this merry still life?

All of the yarn is stashed. All of it. I haven't used any of it. I've swatched the Black Water Abbey wool. I've read a little bit about knitters' problems with the Nantucket Jacket I intended to make from the Berroco. Daisy wound the blue skeins into tight balls which I then did nothing more than admire until we packed up and moved. They're sitting in a bin with those two huge skeins of variegated Interlacements merino.

I did nothing with the Krista pattern because I found that it was pretty much a resized version of Bella with a different neck, and then I found an identical version in Knitting Lingerie Style under a different name. (It's the only White Lies loose-leaf pattern that's reproduced in the book, by the way. The book's totally worth the purchase price.) I haven't done anything with the other patterns, either.

I use the bag all the time, so that's something.

I said that I'd use all of this yarn before the next Stitches, but I say that every year. Didn't happen in 2006, didn't happen in 2007, didn't happen this year, either. I make these declarations, and then I don't hold myself to them.

O.K., then, here's the deal. I've got four months before the next Stitches, and I've got yarn for four distinct projects in the picture above. Starting with the Blackwater Abbey and starting this weekend, I'm going to work through those four yarns before Stitches West 2009. I'm unofficially doing NaKniSweMo with some other Knittyboarders, so that should get me off to a good start.

I'm two inches away from finishing the first arm of Alexandra, and I should be able to get the second arm knit tonight. I'm enjoying my "Knit, damn you! KNIT!"* method of project selection. As the storage bins in my garage illustrate, I've spent a lot of time over the years dithering over my hoard. I spent as much time thinking about whether or not to use yarns as I did knitting them. It feels good to be working with them.

*I picture Ricardo Montalban in his Khan regalia grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me as he shouts this at me, his eyes white-rimmed and blazing with crazed fervor. It makes me laugh to myself, and it makes me work harder. Does that make me a brilliant self-motivator or a big f$%king dork?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Autumn Haze

"Did you take the Flu Prevention Awareness course? Everyone has to have completed the module and passed the test by the end of the month."

"Yep. But you know I don't believe in half of that stuff, so I was forced to lie to pass the test. That's what I'm paid to do now. Sit here and lie."


"Yes, lie because I don't believe that the single best way to prevent influenza is for me to get a flu shot, but I had to say so in order to pass the test. In fact, I believe that we're making ourselves less able to fight off ailments through the antibacterial crusade and the peer pressure to receive annual flu vaccines that may or may not work in any given year, and all of this incessant hand rubbing and opening doors with paper towels is making us a society of dry-skinned mamby-pamby weaklings. You know who never seems to get the flu? Marta, the woman who cleans the bathrooms in our building and picks up all of those paper towels that people throw on the floor in the general direction of the wastebasket as they sidestep through the doorway as though they were leaving a stall in a porn arcade. Why are we so afraid of each other?"

"Uh, Suzanne..."

"I mean, why are we so afraid that we're going to get some wretched necrotic disease by touching a door handle? And have you seen that commercial where the woman flushes the toilet IN HER OWN HOME with her foot?! Check out the look of abject terror on her face as she kneels next to her little girl and holds her on the toilet as she pees. You know, that whole commercial is perverse. The little girl is old enough to sit on the toilet without her mother holding her there. I believe that if I were that little girl, I might be so scared by my mother's barely contained fear that I might never urinate again. She's f$%king creepy. Where was I? Oh, yeah. What the Hell is wrong with our society that we feel as though we have to sterilize everything? If I don't bleach the bejesus out of my kitchen, I might as well wipe it down with a raw chicken leg?!? My GOD! It's a wonder we don't all live in BUBBLES!"

"Suzanne, did you pass the test? I need to check you off the list."

"Yes, I passed, but at what cost to my integrity? At WHAT COST?"

And then I spent the next four days at home with a cold. I want it noted that it was a cold, not the flu. Bastards.

So I've been done with this sweater for a week and a half, but just came out of my diphenhydramine haze far enough to blog about it today. This drug-induced fog also explains the modeled picture.


It's Fairly Easy Fair Isle from Stitch 'N Bitch Nation (Ravelry link to my project).

I'm always drawn to it when I see it in the book, and then I think, "No, that's nothing I'd ever want," and then I think, "But it's really cute," and then I think "But it's Fair Isle and I don't want to learn to do Fair Isle", and then I think "But it says fairly EASY right in the title, so maybe..." and then I go and do something else. I don't know why I finally decided to give it a try, with a yarn that isn't quite right for it, but what the Hell. It didn't seem like the worst idea I'd ever had.

I knit the small size which, as I'm 38" through the bust, gave me zero ease. With the inevitable stretching that happens when a garment is worn, it ended up very slightly wider, which made it perfect.

Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran - seven skeins of the main color, half a skein each of the red and white, about a third of a skein of orange. I love this stuff, although I love it more when it's knit to the right gauge, as in the version of Starsky that I did. It's not bad at a looser gauge, just less smooth.

As I mentioned in a previous post, all of these colors are being discontinued. When I told Accountant Boy how sad this made me, as my yarn budget and stash-busting asprirations do not allow for further stockpiling, he said, "But that orange is really nice..." Dammit, Accountant Boy! You're supposed to STOP ME.

Brittany Birch 11 US (14" length). Crazy? Crazy to knit the entire yoke on straight needles instead of putting all of those stitches on a circular needle? Yeah, maybe. It worked, so maybe it wasn't such a crazy idea. I didn't have an 11 circular in wood, and I was afraid that knitting on a 10.5 or knitting on metal would make my gauge too tight. I dropped down to an Addi 10.5 for the top of the collar and the button bands and the resulting garter stitch looked great, so maybe redoing a big portion of the yoke would have been smart, but I just wanted to be done.

One month. I had it done in two weeks for the most part, but then I thought that the collar was too high and too loose, and then I had to knit the button bands, and then I had to reknit the button bands because I'd put the holes on the wrong edge.

I worried that it might have been too sack-like at the waist as designed, so I put in some shaping. With my gauge issues on the yoke, I ended up with a lot of material at the neck. It was a turtleneck with buttons. I ripped back to the section above the solid stripes and redid everything, then started the garter collar immediately above the last section of red crosses. I liked the look of it with more rows above them, but it just didn't look right. Finally, I knit the body in one piece up to the armholes. I think the original pattern had it in three pieces.

I picked up more stitches along the button bands than the pattern said I'd need, because I think my row gauge was way different from the book.

It's a cuddly, warm sweater. The yoke's a little too loose and the sleeves are just slightly too short, but it doesn't bother me enough that I won't wear this sweater around on the weekends.

Overall, I'd give this one good marks. I learned how to work Fair Isle, and I made my first yoke-necked sweater. Good stuff to know. And it is a cute sweater, even though it's too rustic for pairing with business clothes so it's not fulfilling my "knit wardrobe instead of spending scads of money at Ann Taylor" needs.

Would I knit it again? Maybe, with a bulkier yarn, but that's a long way off. I've got enough stash to work through without buying a big bunch of Lamb's Pride Bulky, which brings back all kinds of bad memories for me.

On deck: another stash buster. It's the second pattern I ever bought and I used it for the first knitting project I ever completed. In Lamb's Pride Bulky. Let's just say that it's a wonder I picked the hobby up again. Second time's a charm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not-As-Black-But-Still-Quite-Dark Wednesday

Another one down! This ball of Karabella Frost has been in my stash for years, never far from the surface, always in the area with the other yarn that I keep at the ready for the quick little projects. Do I often do these quick little projects? No, of course not. I'll carry a ball of yarn and a crochet hook around in my purse for seven straight weeks without chaining a stitch. I rarely do more than place the ball gently back in the stash bin after cleaning out my bag, but carrying it around makes me feel like at any moment I COULD knock out a quick little project, and that's comforting.

Lately, though, I've felt the need to do more. Maybe it's the stunning lack of work here at my job. Maybe it's that I haven't been happy with most of the shows I used to like on television, so I have to have something to distract me while Accountant Boy watches them. Maybe it's that I realized that I have to make all of my clothes and accessories for the next year from my stash, because A.B. and I have sunk so much of our cash into the 'bottomed' stock market that we have to slash the clothing budget. By the way, everyone go out and buy lots of tacos, O.K.? I had this wacky financial strategy based solely the belief that people will flock to Taco Bell because it's a frugal choice in these trying economic times. And it was working, I tell you! Working! Until today, when my beloved taco stock closed down ten percent.

Yes, it is a dark day for SuzannaBanana. I'm not sleeping well, and I'm grinding my teeth so hard at night that I'm giving myself blinding headaches. I come to the office and sit in my chair with no work to do and no idea how long I'll still have a job. Jo Sharp has apparently discontinued every color of Silkroad Aran that I like, and I can't buy any of it. But what do we do when faced with darkest adversity? We find the light. We claw upward from the depths of our despair. We persevere.

And so it is with great pride that I now present and actual finished project with one of my oddballs.

The Pattern

Cameo Faggot-Stitch Scarf from Crystal Palace. You're certainly free to go and look at the printed pattern, but let me give you the quick version. Every row: *K1, YO, K2Tog; Repeat from *. Good, mindless fun.

The Yarn
Karabella Frost - one skein in black. I'd find a link to it, but since Karabella doesn't produce it anymore, it wouldn't do anyone much good. It's a real shame, because this yarn was an absolute joy to knit.

The Needles
Brittany Birch, size 11 US (10 inch length). I had them out while doing some needle juggling with the Fairly Easy Fair Isle sleeves, so rather than swatching and picking the perfect size needles, I just went for it.

The Time
Ten days? I guess that's about right. I knit it primarily while sitting here at work, because I was feeling pissy and I wanted to Prove A Point about the ridiculousness of being paid a salary to sit at my desk and knit. About mid-week last week, I realized that nobody cared that I was proving this point, and that being angry about having a job that involved doing no actual work meant that I was an asshole. I finished the last couple of inches at home.

The Modifications
I was concerned about the width, so I made it three stitches narrower than the pattern. As is usually the case when I make a decision four inches into a scarf that's going to be fifteen times that long, I was wrong. The resulting scarf is quite skinny as a result of these missing stitches and the stretchiness of the thin yarn and the lace. It's also stretched out to about six feet long.

I added some crocheted swags to the ends so that they wouldn't look so raw.

I'm sure that I'm driving A.B. crazy with this scarf. I wear it all the time, even occasionally sleeping with it around my neck. It's light, but warm. The yarn is incredibly soft without being at all fuzzy, and it's not one bit itchy. I like that it's an all-purpose neckwarmer instead of looking more like outerwear. I can wear it around the office when my neck gets chilly and nobody will think it looks weird.

This was a good pattern for a purse knitting project. I've got another few stash yarns in mind for a thicker version, more like Crystal Palace Cameo.

What of the Fair Isle, you ask? Oh, that. I've redone the neck three times in order to get it to be the right height and gauge. I finally got it where I wanted it. I then worked on the botton bands, ripped and reworked the button bands, measured carefully so that I'd get the buttons spaced just right, tried it on before sewing on said buttons, and realized that I'd made the buttonholes on the wrong side. I've come too far on the project to let that large of a mistake go, so it looks like I'll be redoing the button bands again tonight. I'm hoping to have it done by tomorrow. Note to self: finishing a sweater takes twice as long as knitting a sweater.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Stash busting. Stash busting? Stash...using? Complementing? What would I call this project? Yes, it started as an attempt to get rid of the yarn left over after Starsky plus a couple of balls that I bought for not particular reason last year, but now I've bought four more balls of yarn in order to finish it. Is that really stash busting or is it something else? If I end up with seven fewer balls in the bin, but I spent forty-five bucks to do it, does it count? I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm not all that good at Fair Isle, but I refuse to rip back and redo those sections so that the floats are looser, so the finished pieces is going to have a charming gathered effect at the yoke and sleeves. Another checkerboard and another cross section left, and then I can put the Fair Isle to my rudder and never look back.

I love these colors together, which is a good thing since I'm going to take whatever's left and crochet a scarf with it. That Silkroad Aran is not going back into the stash again. God knows how much more money I'd end up spending the next time I came across it and decided to 'use it up'.

I wanted something quick and this is coming along at a good clip. It became too unweildly to carry around, so it's my evening project. I'm optimistic about finishing it this week. On the other hand, my optimism is almost always misplaced, so it's more likely that it'll be finished sometime in mid-October.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Black Monday

One ball from the stash. One pair of needles that I hadn't bothered to put away. *K1, YO, k2tog; repeat from * to end. Go!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Silver and Soot

I wasn't going to do it, but the unfinished pieces kept floating up out of every dark hold where I'd stowed them. They wouldn't do me the courtesy of staying down so that I could forget about them. Here, then, is the finished Julia tank from Hot Knits.

I don't have too many details about it, because I kept trying to forget everything about making it. I think I used size 11 needles, and I think I made the small. I know it all came out wrong. The armholes were too deep, and the body was too short.

I picked up and knit three out of four stitches around the armholes and bound off on the next row. Rather than making the turtleneck, I went with a little rolled neck.

I don't even know how much yarn I used, because when I abandoned it a few months ago, I took a couple of skeins of what was left and used it to make that crocheted top. On the bright side, I did get that yarn out of my stash, so that's cool. That's the main reason I picked it back up and finished it. I kept shoving the unfinished pieces into the stash bin, so it still felt like it was part of the stash to me. It's graduated to garment status now, even if I only wear it once before giving it away. I feel good about that.

If I'd been happier with any part of it, I would have kept better notes. As it stands, I don't have enough to say about it to warrant the usual finished object details rundown. Besides which, I don't want anyone else to be so influenced by the details section that they try to make one. Save yourselves. It's too late for me.


Pirate Skull Planter? Is that you?

"Aye, lass, though I fear I'm not long for these waters."

Was it the sweater? Was it that I didn't make a flag out of the yarn instead of trying to fashion it into a garment? You know I'd do it differently if I had it to do over, right?

"Ye've done nothin' wrong, lass. 'Tis a nice little top. Perhaps you'd be good enough to wear it to see me off to Davey Jones' locker."

What the Hell are you talking about?

"Have ye not noticed? I be dyin'. Shufflin' off the coil. Look at my head!"

But that's just the plants, Pirate Skull Planter. They've been flagging since we moved down here last year.

"What makes me what I am if I'm a Planter what can't keep plants? I'm steerin' toward a Charybdis of existential crisis. I am broken in spirit, lass! Can the rest of me be more than a day's sail behind?"

Oh, for God's sake. I'll buy you some new plants and hot-glue them to your head, O.K.? You'll be good as new. I'll put it on the list of things to do to kill time during the workday. I'll put it above "knit", "look up useless facts on the internet", "see how long it takes to walk around the building", and "chew gum". I think all of those things should come in second to "make Pirate Skull Planter feel jaunty". Which should itself come in second to "do actual work for which I'm paid", but never mind that now. Cool?


I do have some better projects in the works, now that my Summer of Ribbon Knitting is officially over. I don't want to go out to the car to get it, though. Pirate Skull Planter seems kind of fragile right now.