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.