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January, 2008:

In reference to the “Yo Mom” in your last post

I’m not making huge progress on anything right now. I’m working on a pair of wrist warmers (from stash …to complete The Challenge). It was supposed to be a quickie project, but I haven’t done much entrelac so the first attempt had to be torn out. I’m knitting these, making ‘em up as I go (and maybe making up how to do entrelac right along with it!). The first one turned out fine, so I’m verifying the pattern as I do the second one. I don’t have any “interim pictures” to put up, but so far so good. I like the way these hug the hand tightly but are still full enough to go over a sweater or shirt sleeve easily.
By the way, I love the photos of Indy … I wouldn’t turn my back on that cat for a second, though!

A story of Rowan All Seasons Cotton

Yo, Mom, could you think of something to post here so that we can get my silly face off the top of this website?
I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t knit much of anything. This weekend I worked on unknitting. I ripped out an entire sleeve of the St. Mawes sweater of doom.

, originally uploaded by AMK.

Indy was extremely helpful throughout the process. Indy has developed a lust for Rowan All Seasons Cotton that rivals my own. I, however, do not actually try to consume the yarn as Indy does, though I have been known to describe it as “delicious”.
In fact, a few weeks ago Indy did consume a very large strand of this particular yarn (a 10-ply, no less). Brad and I watched and waited nervously for the next few days to see if we were going to have to bring him into the vet for an emergency surgery. But he continued on as normal. Actually, he was even a bit more purr-ful and happy than normal (probably because of all the extra attention we were giving him, trying to figure out if his insides were tied up in 10-ply knots). We dutifully checked the litterbox every day to see if there was any evidence there. Nothing. As the days dragged on we had to ask ourselves if he was digesting the yarn or knitting a little mitten with it, which he would eventually poop out.
So. Moral(s) of the story? You never know when a story will veer off into the topic of poop; my cat isn’t to be trusted with expensive Rowan yarns; and, judging from my track record with this sweater, neither am I!

Knit a Mile Show and Tell, Project 1

Cables and Coins Shawl

Well, here’s the finished Coin Lace and Cable Wrap, Project 1 of the Knit a Mile from Stash commitment. I gave it to Andrea. It’s cozy warm, and v-e-r-y long … here she is wearing it, looking a little what … sassy? haughty? smug?
I have 125 yards left to successfully complete The Challenge. I’m improvising some wrist warmers using partial skeins from my stash. First attempt wasn’t quite right so I tore that out last night. Net accomplishment this week toward completion of that last 125 yards: 0 … but a willingness to give it another go.
(Actually, that sort of sums up my week!)

Blue Yarnography Friday

I’ve had this yarn in my stash for several years. It came from a yarn swap with an online friend. I have a couple of skeins of the same yarn in a green colorway and I’ve always thought I could do something fun with combining these yarns, but I’ve never gotten around to it. It’s such a pretty yarn I just kind of want to stare at it in skein-form and not even necessarily knit it.

And just for fun, here’s an accidental picture of the same yarn. I like how it looks like a painting.

Any suggestions for what to do with three skeins of Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals, two green and one blue?

Sun dogs and felted clogs

I know nobody really wants to hear about the weather, but come on! It was 15 degrees below zero when I left the house this morning! A few cold days are fine by me, but this cold snap is getting wearisome. But I do think the cold weather can create some beautiful moments. This morning, I saw something like this on the way to work:

Sun dog 7910, originally uploaded by Yukon White Light.

It’s a sun dog. The one I saw (unfortunately, I couldn’t stop to get a picture; this is a picture from someone on Flickr) had two really bright, clear, big rainbows on either side of the sun. The sky was perfectly clear and blue. It was amazing. I guess I can put up with such a bloody cold morning, if I can get a chance to see something like that.
All this cold weather is making me think I need to get going on felting those Fiber Trends felted clogs. They’ve been sitting there for several weeks, all pretty and knitted and ready to take a dip in the washing machine, but I’ve been obsessed with a gift I’ve been making and haven’t taken much time for anything else. Maybe tonight. (The gift is finished, but I’m not going to post about it until after it’s been received by my friend). I do know I’ve gotta take a trip to the post office today!

Knitting disaster: averted!

People say it’s a good thing to make mistakes. Making mistakes allows us to learn, builds character, yadda yadda.
Those people are crazy.
I was too demoralized to mention it at the time, but when I was trying to finish Brad’s St. Mawes sweater just before Christmas, I ran into a monumental knitting disaster.
This may be difficult to see, but it’s a hole in the sweater. You see, I realized after I sewed the front and back together, knitted on the collar, and sewed on one of the sleeves, that I had knitted the sleeves FOUR INCHES too long. In the process of trying to remove the seamed sleeve, I accidentally CUT a stitch in the front of the sweater.
Let me pause here while we all finish gasping in horror.
Okay, I’m recovered now.
Like I said, I was too demoralized to face this. I put the sweater away for a month and finally got up the nerve to bring it back out and figure out what to do about this problem. The answer was simpler than I had even hoped. There’s a very clearly photographed example in Knitty of how to fix this type of problem: Knitty: Repairs 101. You basically undo the knitting horizontally until you have weave-in-able ends and use a new piece of yarn to graft the stitches together, much like a kitchener stitch.
See? All better:
The only real problem I ran into was that this hole occurred in the second-to-the-edge stitch, so I didn’t have a long end on that side to weave in. Here was my solution:
I tied a new piece of yarn to the short end using as tight of a square knot as I could manage. I plan on weaving the knotted end into the sleeve seam.
All’s well that ends well. Now I just have to take care of that small problem of the extra eight inches of sleeve.

Mile-O-Stash Project Report

Yea, last night I finished the shawl I did as the first part of the Knit a Mile Challenge. This project used up 1635 yards from my stash. I’ll post a photo once the blocking is done. In the meantime, l love this video … it pretty much sums up how it was feeling toward the end of it!

No knitting for me today. I need a break. I’m going to bake bread and maybe give myself a pedicure!

Yarnography Friday

I bought myself a little present this week: a Canon speedlight 430EX. A flash for my DSLR camera. I know there’s a lot of dissing out there of flash photography, but when you get the flash up off the camera, suddenly all sorts of photography possibilities arise. Bouncing light off a wall or ceiling allows you to simulate a real light source, not a glaring burst of light coming directly from the camera.
Turns out, I’m not the only person out there who loves to take pictures of yarn. There’s a Yarnographers group on Ravelry, complete with lessons to help people learn how to take better pictures of their yarn.
I’m so excited to see what I can do with my new camera equipment. I plan on posting some yarnography every Friday.

On being a perfectionist

I’m stuck in sort of an endless loop of perfectionism in my knitting/spinning lately. I have a love-hate relationship with perfectionism, and it’s because I’m also kind of an impatient person. I want to figure out how to do something perfectly, but I don’t want it to take forever. In the past, I’ve let impatience win out and ended up making a bunch of stuff I wasn’t too happy with. Lately, I’ve been letting perfectionism take over, which means it’s hard to finish anything.
I need balance!

This is what I’m currently working with, and it’s destined to become a scarf for a friend of mine. She saw the singles I was spinning in this colorway and loved it and wanted a scarf. I started to have some very specific ideas of what sort of scarf would be perfect for this person, and that’s what led me down the path of perfectionism. I’ve never spun anything with a knitting project in mind. I’ve always just spun yarn and then figured out what to do with it. So this adds a whole new realm in which I can be a perfectionist and take forever to accomplish anything.
I plied the singles I had spun. They weren’t right. I wanted longer, slower color changes. I wanted a thinner yarn, yet still soft and lofty. I then spun and plied four different versions. Navajo plying gave me the types of color changes I wanted, but it used up the singles so fast that the color changes were distinct, but very short.
I finally settled on splitting my rovings in half lengthwise and labeling the other half of each one that I used to spin my first single, so that I could spin a second bobbin using other halves of the rovings in the same order. I added very little twist, creating a fluffy, squishy yarn. The colors lined up surprisingly well when I plied them together.
So now I’ve been knitting and reknitting swatch after swatch trying to come up with the perfect pattern that will be just right for my friend. I’ve come up with about five different scarf patterns that might be right for some other yarn or some other person, but I think I FINALLY hit on the right one, last night.
Creating this scarf is taking way longer than it really needs to. But it’s satisfying to have a vision and try to create something that’s right for a particular person or a particular situation. The key is to be able to realize when it’s good enough or it will never get done.
My latest swatch has promise, but I made it a little too narrow. I think it’s safe to say this will be the last time I’ll have to rip this out and start over. Stay tuned….

Installing a zipper

I recently added a zipper to a sweater and people asked how I got it in straight, without having it look all “ruffly.”
It’s pretty simple. In addition to a sewing machine, your garment and the zipper, you’ll need a sheet or two of white tissue paper.
This technique works for all sorts of finicky fabrics …
Here I’m putting an open-end zipper in the front of a sweater. First, carefully block the sweater, making sure both edges for the zipper are the same length, that they’re straight and any stripes or patterns line up left to right.

Installing zipper Installing zipper

I generally leave the zipper zipped when I do all this, but if it’s easier for you to take the two halves apart, that works, too.
Position the first side of your zipper along the edge of the sweater as shown, and pin it in place. Then lay a sheet of thin tissue paper over it. The tissue paper permits the sewing machine foot to glide over the knitting without pulling at or catching on the yarn. With the tissue side up, carefully stitch through tissue, sweater and zipper, making your row of stitches far enough back from the teeth so the zipper pull will be able to move freely along teeth without any yarn catching in it. It’s pretty easy to see what you’re doing right through the tissue paper.

Installing zipper Installed zipper

Then carefully tear the perforated tissue paper away and remove the pins. Repeat for the second side of the zipper.

Finished project
Photo by Andrea

That’s all there is to it. When you’re finished, you’ll want to give it a good blocking, of course.
I just grabbed a bit of scrap yarn and tied it to the zipper pull on this sweater, but it’s fun to find an interesting bead or bauble to dress it up. I’m keeping my eyes open for just the right thing!