Friday, April 27, 2007

Orange you glad you know how to knit?

This week I attended my first ever Klondike Middle School Academic Awards Night. I have been invited before, but the boy never wanted to go and be recognized. The girl is a different story. She wants to be recognized.

I knew from talking with Elizabeth that these affairs can be lengthy and a little boring. But I'm a knitter. Bring on the boring!

I took the second of my "put Sam in pink" pair of CIC socks. I had turned the heel and thought I could make pretty good progress during this lengthy affair I was headed for.

I got to the auditorium, lost my girl to her friends, and took out the sock. The sock is knit from Nature Spun Sport (which you should all use.'s from Nebraska) and the knitting was wonderful.

A fellow soccer team mom leaned up from the row behind me and asked what I was knitting for her. I told her I was making her a tiny orange sock. She laughed and we talked about other things until the show began.

Here's what the pair looks like....

As we were leaving, after this lengthy (and hot! Elizabeth and I decided next year we bring someone to fan us with palm fronds while we knit) affair was over, Fellow Soccer Team Mom asked me if I'd finished her sock. I told her it was almost done. She asked if I could also make her a purple one...

Can I also make her a purple one? Of course I can!

Monday, April 23, 2007

World Book and Copyright Day

Today is April 23, the anniversary of the deaths of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, who both died on this date in 1616. In their honor, UNESCO has proclaimed this World Book and Copyright Day.

What does this mean to knitters?

Glad you asked.

I think it's an excellent opportunity for us to familiarize ourselves with copyright law and how it applies to our craft. Please remember that patterns, books and magazines (both in print and online) are all protected by copyright laws. Everytime you photocopy a pattern to "share" with a friend, you are taking money out of the pockets of designers and publishers. This is bad for all of us because if designers and publishers don't make a profit, they will stop publishing those patterns, books and magazines we all love.

For more information, please check out The Copyright FAQ for Knitters. (Admittedly, it hasn't been updated in quite some time, but the information is still useful and offers good basic guidelines.)

And, while you're at it, in the true spirit of the day, read a few sonnets, go rent one of the many movie versions of Hamlet (or, better yet, read it), or curl up and read a chapter or two from Don Quixote.

Stepping off my soapbox and returning to my knitting......

Sunday, April 22, 2007

SABLE*? Not quite yet.....

Or, how I spent my weekend.

Last weekend, while I was attending The Fiber Event and purchasing more yarn and wool to add to my stash, Tim bought me this:

Sweet guy, huh? Well, he had his reasons. My yarn, spinning, and knitting implements had taken over the living room. Sure, I have a wonderful yarn closet upstairs where I keep my stash and various tools. But, who wants to run up and down the stairs a million times a day to get needles, waste yarn, a different project, or whatever? Not me. So, the things I used most often, including 6 or 7 current projects, were scattered about the living room.

Now, Tim is a wonderful, easy-going, laid-back kind of guy, but he was pretty tired of looking at my stuff. He didn't want me to get rid of the stuff. He never complained about the fact that I had the stuff. He just didn't want to have to look at it while he was trying to enjoy a movie or watch TV. I can appreciate that. I wouldn't want to have to look past his tube amps and electronics all the time. So, the obvious solution was to find someplace downstairs where I could keep my current projects and needles. Enter the new armoire.

In the top, current projects, needles, current issues of knitting magazines, and various tools. In the bottom, seasonal dishes and kitchen stuff. Life is good and the living room actually looks....nice....not cluttery.

Inspired by this newfound neatness in the main living space, I decided it was time to sort through the stash closet and see what's going on up there. I hadn't really gone through it since we moved into the house a year ago, so it was definitely time. I found lots of odd balls of yarn, a few abandoned projects, and tons of inspiration. For the first time, there was no purging. In the past, I'd always find at least a few things that I knew I would never knit, but not today. I suppose maybe I've become a little more discriminating about the yarn I buy. Some might call me a yarn snob....and I'll accept that. Anyway, here are the fruits of my labors:

A nice, organized yarn closet. The best part is that I know there's room for more. Of course, this has given me a serious case of startitis! (check out the Gaea Creations Blog for more on this.) Having a key to River Knits can be a dangerous thing.....maybe I'll stop there tomorrow while Aaron is at school.....

*SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

PS: Please don't tell my husband I have more than 72 miles of yarn.....yes. That's right. 72 miles. And that doesn't include the somewhat large bin of partial balls of leftover yarns.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Considering Shawls

Amanda just posted a webpage showing many of the shawls she has knit and I have to say I'm pretty tempted to jump in to her Shawl Knit Along myself! Two summers ago before heading out on the Great Western Adventure (1 family; 5 national parks; only one can of flying rootbeer) someone commonly referred to as the Free Range Enabler, convinced me it would be a good idea to take a skein of Helen's Lace to start a Pi Shawl. I never really got past Emily Ocker's cast on and that little skein has been in a Ziplock bag with The Knitter's Alamanac ever since.

Last summer when we went on our Great Lakes Sojourn (1 family; 2 Great Lakes; only one day locked out of our camper's bathroom) I took the ball of Helen's Lace again. This time I also threw in the book One Skein because it has a cute little tank top that uses "one skein" of Helen's Lace, held doubled. I didn't even think about casting on for that one, but I enjoyed knowing it was there in case I needed it.

So here we are again--summer; no really big trips planned this time. But still the ball of Helen's Lace awaits. Is it time to think about that Pi Shawl again?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Love/Hate Relationship (Amanda)

Note: I wrote this post a few days ago and just haven't had a chance to post it. I think it's sort of funny that Elizabeth is having a Love/Hate relationship with her Summer Tee right now....

We've all been there. The yarn is perfect--the perfect color, the perfect texture, just perfect. The pattern is fun to knit. Your gauge is right on. The finished garment is exactly right. You love it. You just *know* it's going to be your favorite sweater ever. Until you put it on. Once you have the garment on your body, all of your glowing pride sinks into the depths of dispair. Despite having exactly the right measurements and being the most wonderful color in the world, it just looks terrible on you. Now what?

The way I see it, you have three options:

1: Give it away to someone who will love it. Maybe this person is built differently than you. Or maybe they don't care how they look. Whatever the case, if you can find a good home for your creation, by all means, do it! Charities are an excellent way to get rid of your love/hate project.

2: Stuff it into a bag and hide it in the back of your closet. Sadly, I think too many knitters go this route when encountering the love/hate project. There's one very good reason not to do it: If your garment is knit with wool or other protein fiber, being stuffed in a bag and hiding in the back of your dark, quiet closet makes it the ideal treat for moths. The sweater has already caused you enough grief. Don't add to its (and your) misery by making it a moth motel. Better to just throw it in the trash.

3: Rip it out. Yes, the entire thing. The whole finished garment. Take out the seams and rip the whole damn thing out. This may sound extreme. I know. But stick with me on this. After all, if you enjoyed knitting the yarn the first time, you'll enjoy it just as much the second time....and without spending any more money!

Certain projects are better candidates than others for ripping out. If the yarn was very inexpensive or not of good quality to begin with, just go with #1 or #2. Ditto for mohair, eyelash and other "hairy" or heavily textured novelty yarns. They don't like to be ripped out. They don't hold up well under this kind of treatment. Just cut your losses and run.

Other projects are perfect for this. Smooth yarns. Expensive yarns. Yarns that you LOVE (expensive or not). Reclaiming an entire project's worth of yarn can be liberating. And it feels like shopping for new yarn without spending any money! Let's look at some examples, shall we?

This is a lace vest I knit in 2002. The yarn is a handpainted superwash wool from Morenna Woolen Goods which I purchsed at Fleece Fair. The yarn is soft and wonderful, and the photo really doesn't do it justice. I designed the vest myself. The finished vest was truly perfect. It blocked to the exact measurements I envisioned for it. I was so excited! Then I put it on. It was the most unflattering thing I've ever worn in my life. Really. The problem was not the vest, but the yarn. The yarn was too clingy and didn't have enough drape. If I had knit the vest in a cotton or cotton blend, it would have worked out great. But I didn't. I knit it in a relatively expensive handpainted wool. So, I laid out the vest, took pictures of it, and immediately ripped out the entire thing. The yarn is still in my stash. It has attempted to be other things in the last 5 years, but nothing has quite worked out. Someday, the perfect project will come along.

This is the Rambling Rows Jacket I made in 2005. The yarn is Noro Kureyon. 17 balls of it, to be exact. Laying on the floor like that, it's gorgeous, isn't it? The yarn compliments the pattern beautifully! But, can you see the problem? It's a box. It's a box with sleeves. This type of sweater is not flattering for an overweight person like myself. Add to that the fact that I have a bad habit of overestimating my size. I tend to knit things way to big for myself, and this jacket is a prime example. It was soooo huge. But, unlike the vest, I didn't rip out the jacket right away. I put it away, thinking that I'd come up with some way to fix it. By August 2006, I still didn't have a solution, so I spent the afternoon of my birthday ripping it out. It felt great! Now I have a lovely basket full of Kureyon sitting on a trunk in my living room. Someday, it will tell me what it wants to be. For a while, it thought it wanted to be a Babies and Bears jacket, but I think it changed its mind.

I also have a finished Bombshell from Big Girl Knits that I won't even show you. It's huge on me too. Once again, I overestimated my size. For those familiar with the pattern, you are saying, "But it says to try it on as you go so you won't make this mistake." Well, I was working on it last summer on our road trip to Niagara Falls, and it's very difficult to try something on while you are sitting in the passenger seat of a van. I know it's my own fault. The good news is that the yarn is an ideal canditate for ripping out (Cascade Sierra), and I won't have to rip out the entire thing, just back to the raglan shaping. There are a few other things about it I will change too--not just the size. A couple short rows here, a little added length there, and it should be just perfect.

The moral of the story: Not every project is perfect, even if it seems like it at first. Don't be afraid to take drastic measures to reclaim your yarn and your mental energy. You'll be glad you did. Also, remember that no project is a complete loss if you've learned something--either about knitting or yourself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Decision Time (Or What to do now that I'm way past the swatch stage)

I could try to blame it on Michelle I guess. She was thinking of doing a class on a summer t-shirt. So I thought maybe I would knit up one for me and it could also be a shop model. I also wanted to try out the new Shire Silk from Plymouth, so I thought it would be a win-win situation. (That might be the first miscalculation now that I think about it.)

Knowing I knit a little bit loosely I cast on my pretty salmon colored Shire Silk on a #5 instead of the #6 recommended in the patttern. It being a top down pattern I thought I'd just check in on my gauge as I went and make adjustments as needed. That's where it starts to get fuzzy. The gauge needed to get a top slightly smaller than I thought I needed was 5 stitches to the inch. To the best of my calculation I was getting 4.75+ per inch. I thought that was pretty good and if it came out a smidge larger, that would be just perfect.

Needless to say it did not come out just perfect or I'd be showing you a picture now instead of rambling on here. To say that it is a little too large for me would be stating it diplomatically. The 4.75+ that I swear I was getting in the upper part of this garment has expanded to dead on 4 stitches to the inch in the rest of the garment, giving me quite a few extra inches.

The question is what to do now? I see several choices each with its own merit:
1. Rip back up to the armholes and
a. use a smaller needle
b. use fewer stitches throughout the body
c. both a. and b.
2. Promptly forget I ever heard of this garment and bury it in the back of my closet.
3. Use it as a prize for an exciting new game at the retreat. Ask each person in attendance to secretly write her bust and hip measurements on a paper and the one with the closest actual measurements to this garment wins the t-shirt!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This and That (Elizabeth)

After a week of exhaustion & not knitting much, I do have a few things to show! Last year at TNNA Michelle & I found a little pattern for baby booties using leftover sock yarn. Since the Trinity Nursing Center is asking for baby hats & booties, I finally decided to try this pattern! Mine is made from leftover Regia 6-ply. I finished one on the way to the Fiber Event (since Amanda volunteered to drive my car--isn't she great?) Michelle thought it looked like a Peter Pan slipper.

At the Fiber Event I managed to buy a spinning kit with assorted fibers like silk, wool and various synthetics that I don't really recognize. It is all blue and swirly. Also a kit for knitting a hat & mittens (can you believe I don't have a wool hat myself?) and I was helpless in the power of some Fleece Artist Sea Wool sock yarn. But that's all I bought. Other than shaving soap for Brent.

I also saw something on another blog that has captured my attention. A blanket made entirely of mitered squares of leftover sock yarn. I've been thinking about this for days. It's truly insane but I had to try a square. Yes, those are my new Addi lace needles too. No, it's not lace, but the needles are fabulous. So pointy and smooth. I love them! Do I love making teeny mitered squares out of sock yarn? I'm not sure. But I think I do have to make at least another one to figure it out.

AND I did finish my pink socks for CIC for the Sam-in-Pink project! (Sorry no pics yet.)

I also managed to spin a bit on this sunny afternoon. One of these days I'll have some yarn to make my 2nd Buffalo sock!

Now to pay some River Knits bills and get ready for a new week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

GOTCHA! (Heather)

We've added another knitter to our numbers.

A few weeks ago, Joe's niece, Michaela, and her two boys spent a weekend with us, and I taught them all to knit...then I took Michaela shopping at River Knits. I kind of thought we had her when she said "Won't I need like a bag or a basket or something to keep it all in?"

She picked a basic ribbed hat/scarf pattern and some cascade 220...and that night I heard her say something to one of the boys, which reinforced to me that we had her...

"Just a minute, Cory. I'm knitting."

She called last night and when I answered, she said...

"Guess what I'm wearing."

She had finished the hat and worn it upstairs (she lives in the basement of her dad's house) to show it to the folks up there, but they weren't impressed enough (maybe because they were in bed...), so she called me. I was so proud. :)

Now I need to make a trip to Omaha for a knitalong....

Lessons from the Yarn Harlot (Elizabeth)

That Stephanie Pearl-McPhee always has something to say that rings true, doesn't she? The morning after putting my silk Tee on two really long circs so I could try it on, I read this in her newest book:

"It is plan knitting down to the finest detail....All processes can be as thoughtful and deliberate as though you were launching a space shuttle...Then after all the planning and thorough regard...your sweater can suck and you will never know why."

Does the fact that she hits the nail on the proverbial head really make it feel better that I think my summer tee is going to look more like a tent than a t-shirt? My kids would call this quite a co-inky-dink! I am having some serious reservations about how this thing is going to look. On me anyway. The Shire Silk is really attractive, the Knitting Pure and Simple neck down V-neck t-shirt has been delightful. But I am still having serious reservations about this project actually fitting it's intended recipient, that is MYSELF.

In all fairness to the rules of knitting, I didn't meticulously swatch. (!) I thought that I would just use the first few inches of the project as a swatch and hedge my bets against knowing how I knit and choosing the appropriate needle size. The gauge really is pretty close. But I am still ...concerned. I find myself wondering just how much the ribbing at the end can be counted on to give this garment some shape. I'll find out pretty soon. If you never hear about this project again, you'll know that the answer wasn't the one I was looking for. But I will remember to hold on to this bit of Yarn Harlot wisdom:

"The element of surprise is an indelible part of knitting."

Friday, April 6, 2007

Put Sam in Pink Promotion! (Elizabeth)

If you know Samantha B., you know how she has....issues....with PINK. Sam goes to great lengths to avoid pink. In fact, she won't even eat pink food. We really don't know what happened in her formative years to cause this, and we hope that we can provide a cathartic experience for her. After much discussion about this topic Sam has greatly offered to appear IN PUBLIC in a pink t-shirt if every member of her SockDay Club will knit a sock to donate to CIC. (I just cast on for mine; what color do you think it is?)

I would like to challenge more knitters to contribute a pair of socks to this "Put-Sam-in-Pink" CIC challenge.* The more socks, the more times we get her to wear the shirt in public. Maybe we can even get her to make it a Sock Club ritual. Maybe Sam can finally make friends with PINK.

How many socks will it take? Will you join me?
*(Remember - All or mostly all wool for CIC!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tempting fate? (Elizabeth)

I have a half a finished object anyway....It all started because I wanted to have something new to knit at Sock Club. I figured if I cast on for my Buffalo Sock I could mindlessly knit on it if I ended up having time to knit Saturday. It turned out to be a very quick knit--lo and behold I am done already! I'm very pleased with my thick and hearty sock. I usually have no trouble at all with the dreaded 2nd Sock Syndrome. I usually cast right on, spurred on by the joy of the first warm sock on my foot. But what's a person to do if the yarn for the 2nd sock hasn't been spun yet?

Monday, April 2, 2007

What a

I've been in a bit of a sock rut lately. I love, love, love knitting much so that my only finished projects for several months have been socks. While I am not giving up on them altogether, I have decided that I need to have a couple of other types of projects on the needles. I'm thinking about knitting several scarves over the next few months, to be assembled in a basket and taken home with me at Christmas time. I'll let my family and friends pick one if they find one that they like, or not pick one if they are not interested. I think this is a good way to get rid of the inability to not knit Christmas presents...and the inevitable frustration when they are not appreciated.

The trouble with this plan is that I like to have at least one project on the needles that is mindless knitting. Socks are perfect for this.

But I'm not knitting socks right now...

I decided to make a couple of Multidirectional Scarves. I love this pattern. The self striping yarn and an easy short row technique make this the perfect scarf...mindless knitting that looks complicated. Isn't this one pretty? Perfect for knitting without thinking, allowing me to concentrate on a wonderful adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South.

I think I took a wrong turn somewhere...

It seems even when I'm not knitting a sock, I can't help but turn a heel...