Sunday, December 13, 2009


I can't stand to look at the picture of the turkey anymore, every time I open up this page to connect to my favorite links. So I am posting this here just as a placeholder. I will take some pictures soon to fill in some space. Kristen is home and that is very nice. I still have school for another week, though I am now mentally on vacation already, so that's a little awkward. We still haven't put up our tree or done any Christmas stuff yet though.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Ok, Martha Stewart will not be calling on me to do her food styling next year. I roast my turkey upside down with bacon on it, so it doesn't look like the Norman Rockwell images. But trust me, it tastes great!

hahaha, no there were NOT chopsticks sticking out of the turkey. Don't you hate the way photography flattens things out and makes you look like you have a lampshade on your head?

Stuffin muffins. Don't tell me about your oysters and chestnuts and laa-di-da stuffin. I like stuffin muffins!

And gravy. Lots of gravy. World-class gravy. mmm gravy.

Some knitting

Finished the little angora scarf in feather and fan. 2" of yarn left!

Started a cardigan sweater. I'm having difficulty incorporating the increases into the rib pattern, but I'm up to one elbow by now.

An assortment of lace sampler bookmarks, which I shared with my California bookie friends.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

From the Torrance Craft Faire

No, I don't know why they add an extra e at the end, but they do.

I think I should collect sheep in various forms. I have a couple of postcards and two sheep pillows. And now I have a needle-felted sheep:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ingenue Finished

Papa approves :-)

Magic Loop Improved aka Travelling Loop

I was knitting Ingenue, a top down sweater in the round, using, as advised, 24” needles which made it easy to knit the traditional in-the-round method. (

One of the selling points of knitting top down in the round is that you can try the sweater on as you go. Except that in order to do that, you have to slip all the stitches onto waste yarn, try it on, and then slip all the stitches back onto the needle again, (because the needle is always going to be smaller than the actual dimensions of the item being knit.) So that’s do-able, but a waste of good knitting time.

When I got near the bottom edge of the sweater, I decided to put the whole thing on a spare Knitpicks cord and knit the sleeves first before deciding on the exact length of the body. I used a 60” cord, for a 40” sweater. And as I knit the sleeves, I was able to try it on without fiddling around with putting the stitches onto waste yarn, since the cord was plenty long.

So it came time to re-attach the needles to the cord on the body, and I figured, ok, I’ll just keep this 60” cord in here and do the seed stitch border at the bottom by magic loop. That way, I could try it on without moving stitches. And that was good.

But at some point, instead of having the cord arranged Mickey Mouse style, with half the stitches in the front and half in the back and a loop coming out on the left and another length of cord on the right to knit with–I pulled all the cord to the right side in back. So now I had all the stitches in one circle, and a lot of excess cord on the right-hand side, and I was able to knit the entire round without turning and re-arranging stitches at all. Just knit from beginning of round to end of round in one smooth motion. And then pull the cord all the way to the right again, positioned the stitches near the tip of the left-hand needle, and off I went.

So I began puzzling about this! I had seen tutorials about how to finish up a hat without resorting to dpns, by using a single loop variant of magic loop. Is this the same thing as that? And most importantly, will this method work on socks and sleeves and hats and entire sweaters? And would it work using the same length needle that most of us have been using for magic loop all along? Is this an improvement to magic loop, or does it have some other drawbacks that I’m not seeing?

I posted these questions on Ravelry, and it was confirmed that this is a known and valid way of doing Magic Loop, by none other than TECHknitter, as well as a couple of other experienced knitters.

I saw a tutorial that explains this method, but somehow I didn’t see the beauty of it until I accidently unvented it again myself!

I have not been able to find a video tutorial, and unfortunately, I do not have the technological skill to create one. So here’s a verbal description. So let’s imagine that you have a sweater on a typical ML set-up, and you’re at the end of one section. Hold the knitting as you usually would to begin the next side, with two needles hanging out on the right side and a loop sticking out on the left, yarn coming from the back needle. Now pull on that back needle, pull so that the loop is eliminated and you have a long cord and needle coming out from the back. Slide the stitches into knitting position on the front needle.

Now look: you have stitches ready to knit, you have a needle available to knit onto, and you have enough cord to move easily…and you have all the stitches in one neat circle.

So start knitting, and keep knitting until all the stitches have been knit! Then repeat the instructions above again. The picture tutorial for Traveling Loop mentioned above says that the loop moves and that it knows where to go. But actually, you are just knitting all the way around, and the loop isn’t really “moving.”

I haven’t tried casting on and doing this from the start, but it seems that it would work. But you could start as you are used to and then after a few rounds are done, pull and eliminate the left hand loop and keep right on going.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not only is it a Pretty Thing....

it also feels heavenly, being made of (inexpensive!) cashmere. I can even feel virtuous, since it was recycled.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pretty Things

The Yarn Harlot put out a pattern for a lace neckwarmer named Pretty Thing that attracted a lot of attention when she first knit it, and I jumped on the bandwagon. I happened to have also recently purchased a single skein of recycled cashmere yarn in a lovely rapsberry color from, and all I needed were 16" size 4 needles. I am so in love with Knitpicks Harmony needles, so I ordered a pair, and when all the pieces were in place, I couldn't resist casting on. This pattern requires a fair amount of attention to the chart, so it's good for when I have good light and few distractions.

I'm up to row 12 out of 60 rows, so cruising right along, and so far, (bless me knitting goddess!), no mistakes. I'm not using a lifeline because frogging on a circular needle is just too much trouble.

The sweater continues apace. I know this is about as interesting as watching paint dry--it's only marginally more interesting to knit than that as well--but there is the excitement of wondering whether the whole thing will be a failure, so there's that. I tried it on and it is rather fitted, in a good way, I hope. It will grow a bit in the blocking.

This yarn seems quite soft to the touch, but up against bare tummy, it prickles a bit, so I will have to wear at least a camisole under it, and maybe a turtleneck. I tried on my old turtlenecks, and decided that they are ridiculously loose and baggy. So I placed an order today for 4 mock-turtlenecks from Lands'End in size small. I know, I'm not really a size small! But to wear under other things, I thought that might be better. If not, they will go back to Sears. Free shipping, so not much to lose.

The sweater is perfect to knit while watching 2 hours of Ugly Betty! Let's hope the Ugly doesn't rub off on the sweater. I have to say that I'm glad poor Betty is finally improving her appearance.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

As I Lay Dyeing

First the old news: I have been working on the top of this top-down sweater (Ingenue, which I ain't!) since August, but I wasn't sure it was working out. I cut the yarn and blocked what I have so far, and at this point it is looking a bit more hopeful. As I was warned, Patons Classic Wool has a tendency to grow quite a bit when it hits water. I did soak and block my swatch, so perhaps I am on the right track after all. Worth pressing on, once the shoulder section dries.

So to amuse myself this morning, I decided I needed to do some Kool-aid dyeing. I had purchased 2 50-gram skeins of 75% wool sock yarn at Let's Knit a week or two ago, marked down to $3 a skein because the skeins were kind of messed up.

So I wound it into a skein, using one strand from each ball so that whatever pattern I ended up with would be the same in both socks.

Then as my exercise for the day, I walked over to Ralphs and bought 4 colors (um, flavors) of Kool-aid:

I dissolved the Kool-aid into 3 jars (I used the Grape to top off the jars and kind of deepen the brightness of the Black Cherry, Berry Blue and Strawberry) and put the whole set up in the microwave and nuked it a couple of times.

The colors seem to be fairly promising:

So my yarn is drying on the patio, and I will rewind it into 2 separate but pretty much matching balls, ready to start a pair of socks one of these days. I want to weigh the yarn at the PO to make sure I got the full 100 grams I am supposed to have. (One skein had far less than the other, for some reason, so I evened them out, but yardage may be missing. Hey, it was $6 total.) So I may try the toe-up method, in case the yardage is a little low. Socks that don't come up very high on the ankles are more useful than socks that don't quite reach the toes....

So while my sweater dries and my yarn dries, I still need something to knit!

Luckily, I have some monster knitting to work on. A couple of weeks ago (July?? August??) Beach Knitting had a big sale, all sale yarns $2 a skein. There were 3 skeins of Rowan's Big Wool in a most unappetizing beige color. But hey, it listed at $16 a skein, and I could buy it for $2 a skein, each 100 grams of super chunky a 100% pure wool. Color is no obstacle!So I also bought a jar of Wilton's Food Dye Gel in Leaf Green and back in September, I wound and spit-spliced all three skeins into one continuous skein and dyed it Leaf Green. The beige was no more!

And this yarn was exactly the yarn called for in a pattern that I had been thinking of for quite a while--an oversized Basketweave pattern to use as a cushion cover (from Knitting For Good.) I even had 3 over-sized buttons in my button stash, just right for the look.

Knitting with size 17 needles is not really as much faster as you might expect, because all the movements are larger and less efficient. The cover is maybe 2/3rds knit. I picked up a 16"pillow form at Joann's yesterday so that I could make sure of the size as I finish it up. Not sure who the lucky recipient of this pillow will be, but it has been a lot of fun to work on.

On the sports front, a lightbulb went off in my head this morning that should have gone off years ago. Sam remains a Chicago sports fan, but he can't get the games live on tv. He was planning to follow along on today's Chicago Bears game by watching the online scoring, and he said, yeah, it's almost like listening to the game on the radio. Wait a minute, what did you say? Radio? Maybe you could **listen** to Chicago radio online! And guess what? Sure you can! Live streaming of the local Chicago stations! That means that Cubs games can also be followed on the radio, play by play! How did I never think of this before?? I have known since 2006 that I could listen to WFMT on the computer! I just never put 2 and 2 together (and in my defense, neither did Sam or Kristen.) Anyhow, Sam is now listening to the Bears live on the radio online.

This is a good time to be alive and I don't want to hear from anyone who thinks the internet is making us stupid/isolated/whatever. It's the best thing since movable type!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Endings and New Beginnings

It seems appropriate as my summer vacation comes to an end today and Flex day looms up tomorrow, to tie up some loose threads, so to speak, and bring a couple of projects to an end, before starting fresh on a new challenge.

So I finished up a little necklace of leaves and called that done. I had originally intended to pick up stitches all around it and use it as the base for a smoke ring, but I think I am finished with it and it will be more wearable as a necklace. Knit in Mini Mochi, which looks beautiful but behaves badly while knitting it.

Then I decided that the mermaid scarf in Malabrigo laceweight was no longer giving me any pleasure at all, so I bound that off as well. What is it? It is nothing. Just an 8" square of soft lace.

But my binding off and ending up was not all of the abortive attempt sort. I completed a second Ishbel shawlette, this one for Kristen. She loves the blueberry color and the cashmere softness, and I am quite pleased with how fast and easy this one went--less than 3 weeks start to finish.

And for new beginnings? I swatched Patons Classic Wool in the colorway Moss Heather to get started on a top-down raglan sweater from Custom Knits called Ingenue. Details to follow! This one will probably be for me, unless it turns out that I am not an ingenue, actually, and it knits up too small, as can happen to the best of us, in which case, well ther eis an actual ingenue in the house! :-)