Thursday, 31 July 2008

Blogging from a secret location

No blog this morning due to unforeseen complications at previous place of employment where I still consult. Unforeseen complications is why I still consult.

In the mean time, check out some of the neat blog links on my side bar, like Curlerchick, or Achenblog, or the absolutely stunning Contemporary Embroidery by Karen Ruane.

I'll post this evening after the days kerfuffule is resolved or the day is done, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dusting out the corners of my mind

and I can, now that I have a nifty new duster. The fibre of the 1824 cotton will work, just not as well or as fluffy as a wool or acrylic yarn. For a project from leftover yarns, this is fine.

Part of me is appalled that I have done this. I am not into knitting or crocheting the little towel toppers, and kitchen fripperies. I will make dishcloths only when my supply needs replacement. Part of me is thrilled to bits. Like a dishcloth, I'll make these when I need them because they work, and work well.

The original was worked flat, cuff first and then sewn up one side, this one was worked as a long narrow rectangle, with the sides being sewn and a cuff worked circularly after the rest was done. If I was doing this again, I would start with dpns and work circular for the entire thing, rather than just doing the cuff in the round. so there is any number of ways you could work it. I won't write up a pattern, because it really doesn't need a pattern, it needs more of a recipe. I might write up a recipe on the weekend, along with the Bride's bag, which is still awaiting a pattern.

All the other knitting I am doing is backwards knitting and not the kind of backwards knitting that moves a project forward. Or maybe it is, even if I am unknitting. If I am unknitting, and I know where I am going after the unknitting is done, I am in essence moving forward. It is just taking me twice as long to get there. If cutting corners is taking a shortcut, this is surely a longcut.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Just Sayin'


There is just nothing more to say.

Thank you to whoever first did this and thank you to the friend who sent the link.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Interesting Finds

In order to start sewing, I had to do a little refining in the sewing room. the sewing room also functions as the laundry room, and occasionally - normally - the sewing space is overwhelmed by the flotsam and jetsam of daily living. As usual, the flotsam and jetsam is deeper than I think it is.

Under piles of prepared fabrics (I wash them all first) I found a little treat I have been looking for for quite some time.

Many moons ago, we lived near and became friendly with a family from a Hutterian Brethren community. They stopped by on their way back from the farmers markets on Saturdays and would give me a good price on whatever was left of the garden produce. It meant that the ladies would have less to do when they got home and they were greatful, so occasionally they would give me other little things. One of them was this duster. It is made of acrylic fibres, garter stitched, sewn together, with a cuff to hold it on your hand. On one side of the palm, around each stitch of the garter, a short piece of yarn is latch hooked, making a fluffy dust catching surface.

It's quite obvious that the last time I saw it, it was in use, doing its dusty job. Please forgive it.

I have used this for 20 years, and when clean, it is a wonderful thing. Beats the heck out of a throw away duster, or plain cloth. Its great for cleaning in tight places, like on stair balusters, and small edges of almost everything.

For years I meant to make more of these out of crochet. Crochet a rectangle about the size of your hand, crochet a ribbed cuff, and then latch hook the duster yarns. It never quite happened, though I did think of it a lot. Being a little lazier than the industrious women of the Hutterian Colony, I long ago decided that I would work the duster part, using a short loop stitch rather than latch hooking.

And I would do this in Knitting too. I'm doing it in fact. Here is a quick look at the loop stitch via Crazy Aunt Purl

I dug for yarn in the leftover basket, and came up with what I hope will be enough Cottonlicious and 1824 Cotton. I'm going to make this with two side seams, rather than the one seam the Hutterian ladies did, and I'll do the cuff in the round. No reason you couldn't do the entire project in the round.

Though it is looking really nice, the 1824 Cotton might be a little too well mannered for a duster. The Cloud Cotton I have, with its heavier loosely spun texture, would work much better. Any good heavier weight acrylic or washable wool would be nice too.

I like things you toss in the washer rather than toss out and this is a great idea. I might use this same technique to make a knitted replacement for my dust mop too, rather than buying the new duster end.

And the sewing? Hah, I was trying to avoid that it seems.

I sewed two tops, have one skirt cut, the fabric washed for the dress, another couple tops and the skirts. It was really lovely outside in a dog days of summer sort of way and most of the time I sat outside.

I finished the sleeve bands on the knitted top from More Big Girl Knits (Not too much to do now. I need to block and decide if I want to do a collar edging but otherwise its looking good), and worked on socks and thought about spinning and avoiding sewing.

More sewing tomorrow though. I really really need the clothes.

Friday, 25 July 2008

A stitch in time

Today I plan to make a foray into the world of sewing. I've sewn a lot in my life. There was a point where most of the boys clothing, and most of my own clothing was handmade. For most of the many years I worked in an office environment, my clothing was sewn. It was only the last 5 years that my sewing dwindled.

Working in the yarn shop this year I realize how much my clothing choices were tailored to fit that office environment. I have a lot of suit type things. Jackets to coordinate and match almost everything. I have several black jackets so I could have a variety of sleeve lengths. I never had to worry what fabric they were made from because the office was always cold. There were summer days where it felt like we were sitting an arctic cavern, and winter? Don't get me started on winter. Heavy sweaters were a must. A lot of my knitting goals were designed around that office.

Now that I no longer spend all my time in that office, I have come to realize, people don't wear long sleeved heavy polyester fabrics in summer. People have actual short sleeve shirts and blouses. People wear jersey knits. I mean really, for 15 years I did not know these things, because I worked in a cold space.

In the store, we work under normal conditions. It is warm (a mild understatement) on Mondays before the air conditioning cuts in. It is still warm the rest of the week, only not unbearably so. Cotton and linen are my new best friend. It is urgent that I have some cotton and linen in my wardrobe, and has been urgent for some time.

So today I'm starting with tops. One simple pattern, and two mildly more complex patterns. Next will be a couple of skirts from 2 different patterns, again, one basic and simple, and the other a little fancier and new to me. I hope to squeeze in at least one simple sleeved dress in there somewhere too. These are goals, mind so don't hold me to it.

Usually when I do a mass of sewing, I work up the main sewing, and get the garment bodies sewn together. I leave all the finishing to later for one long sit down session of hemming and button sewing. If you work off just a few patterns you can do an amazing amount of work in a very short period but I expect to have some finishing to do through the evenings next week.

Sewing is not nearly as much fun for me as knitting, crocheting and embroidery, but I do it because it is very hard for a plus sized person, such as I to find stylish garments at a price I want to pay. OK, that is not really true. I'm not into stylish at all. I'm into ordinary, I just don't want to have to pay 40 dollars for a simple lightweight polyester blouse that won't last a full season. I am so tired of paying big bucks for ill fitting clothing. I am so tired of clothing fitting my bottom but not my top, or my top but not my bottom.

I shop in the discount aisles and I watch for sales. Even when I wasn't sewing I shopped. So yes there is some stash here, and only a little new stuff. My choices tend to be plain and classic fabrics and colours, so I usually get away with a deep clothing fabric stash.

Really the knitting stash is just in its baby stages in comparison to the age of some of my other stash. Thank heavens for small mercies.


Thank you Kathryn for your comment about knitting machines. I love your website and I already learned a ton from you.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The fine art of doing it wrong.

This morning I got up and decided to just knit for fun.

Knitting for fun can mean socks but today, I was trying to understand a new pattern. It is an intriguing all over pattern called herringbone. On a sweater with a plain dyed yarn, it will bring a little zip and on a sweater with a tweedy yarn, yowza.
The herringbone should be a constantly interrupted, steadily flowing pattern, where every few stitches intersect with the next row slanting across. Nice isn't it?

I sat down to read what should be fairly simple directions. Well they are simple directions. Decrease, knit a few, increase, knit a few, get the picture. And then purl back. It should be so simple even a child could do it. Good thing I am not even a child.

Obviously I missed something. There is no intersecting of coolness, there is no steady flow. What we have here is a nice solid angling stitches pattern, but it is not the herringbone I was aiming for. I knew something was wrong when the swatch which should be balanced, had the most alarming lean. But did I try to find out what I was doing?

Heck no. I had to wait till I spent more time knitting. Practise makes perfect, even if what you are practising is wrong. If you are going to do it wrong, you might as well be perfectly wrong.

Practising imperfection is a fine art. So is ripping back. Don't forget to include some of each in your study of the knitting world.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A knitting machine

This morning I slept in. For an ordinary sleeper, this would mean 10 a.m., but when you usually wake at 4, 6 feels just like sleeping in. So no knitting content this morning.

A month or so ago, one of the items in the store newsletter was from a woman who was moving out of country, and who had two knitting machines to sell. One sold almost instantly, and I did think about going to look at the remaining machine, but I was slow and assumed it would be gone just as fast. Last week I learned that the move was imminent, and the machine had still not sold. I went and took a look and came home with it. it is a bulky machine, meaning it can do down to about worsted weight yarn, and has a ribber and lead with it. There is a table to set it all up on and there are all kinds of little bits and pieces that I haven't even looked at yet.

I like the idea of being able to do bigger projects just a little more quickly. I can't see me doing anything too fancy, but if all I use it for is blankets, and afghans, and plain knitting, I'll save hours of hand knitting time for smaller yarns and fancier knitting. I can see using it for plain backs and sleeves, combined with hand knit fronts too. It might be a great way to get some knitting for felted bags done. I am also fully aware that this machine might get as much use as my sewing machine, which has not been used in a long, long time.

I know there is a huge learning curve and I am sort of looking forward to it. Reading the wee bit I have on the Internet, has taught me that I have to think about machine knitting in a very different way. It isn't going to be a problem. My adventures into knitting this last year or so, have been about learning to look at it in a different way and that there is no wrong in knitting, there are just different way of getting to the same end. I suspect that this will have a little less of the flexibility of hand knitting, but more speed.

I'm going to try a baby sweater on it shortly. A small sweater will teach me all the things I need to know about most sweater construction. Sleeve decreases, ribbing. It should all be there. With luck and a little Internet searching, I hope to have actual knitting from it soon.

And time. I'll need some time before there is actual real wearable knitting from it. That always does seem to be the missing ingredient. If we could just invent a machine to give us all a little more time...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Too darn hot to knit.

Ever feel like that? That the weather was just plain old too hot and sticky to knit? That all you could really find the energy to do was to sit back and sip a long cool drink of water?

Nah, me either. That does not mean that it was not hot here yesterday but summer heat on this part of the prairie is generally dry heat. Humidity only becomes noticeable as the temperature falls as the sun gets low to the horizon.

We sat outside, till well after 9 p.m. Near the end of the evening, I was wishing that what I was working on for the store was an afghan, or bed blanket, or pretty much anything that was pure wool and really big. As the air cooled, even with a temperature of 28 at 5p.m., by 9:30 we were all crying for warm sweaters. ( and the others went and got some)

My not knitting last evening had nothing to do with weather and sunset. My not needing a sweater had nothing to do with weather. It was all the knitting's fault.

I knit for a couple of hours after coming home, only to find it had gone mobius on me. So I took it apart and reworked it, very carefully making sure that it would not go mobius on me this time. I blinked and it of course, went mobius on me.

Its not like I had a hissy fit, or even a mild temper tantrum. Its not like my behaviour was that of a 4 year old at all. No my behaviour on finding the mobius mojo twice, was to just absolutely drop the beast in disgust and speak to it in carefully couched terms, that were very, very adult. Longshoreman adult, but still very adult.

I was just a little to hot to knit last night.

I'm working the bleeping thing flat this time. Nuff said.

Maybe pictures tomorrow.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Down to the Wire with the Summer Chevron

I'm down to the wire on my sweater from More Big Girl Knits. The knit fabric is really really pleasing. The sweater seems to fit all right in the crucial areas. Sleeves seem just perfect, not too wide. The underarm insertion has done it job beautifully.

And on to the next. It is going to need a severe blocking to make the pulled in centre of the design, the part where the v goes down the front and back, to make it appear level with the outer edges when wearing it. As you can see here, it seems to like to pull a bit.

The centre stitches are very very firm, and if I was doing this again, I think I would work these centre stitches really really loosely. My hope is that, as everyone says, plant fibres relax, and that this centre part just relaxes right into place.

One thing I am going to do for certain, is to work in a border of seed stitch in the neck line. No doubt about it, it needs a little something. The pattern doesn't add a neck edging, but there is a lot of room in the neck for, well, my neck. It's going to look better on me if there is just a little something crisp anchoring it.

Except for this need for serious blocking, I feel pretty good about the sweater, the gauge, the resizing. I am looking forward to doing up the cardigan interpretation of this design. Or not. I might put that off for a project for later.

I do want to get moving on another sweater project, this time for SS. She is so darn small, it won't take any time at all to work one up for her.

Friday, 18 July 2008

American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane

I know that I've mentioned it before, but I like to stop by the used bookstore not far from my previous place of employment and check out their old books. They get things from all sources, and sometimes have the most amazing things there. Libraries are getting rid of books that are no longer read or things are donated from private collections. I have gathered some seriously fine books this way.

Along the way I came a cross the Woman's Day Book of American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane. I'm still debating if I was excited to see this book because it was written by Rose Wilder Lane who was the daughter of my favourite childhood author, Laura Ingalls Wilder (who I still read at least once a year) or because books like this are a unique collection of fibre arts and crafts.

The book, like many others of its day, were not devoted to one craft. They tried to cover most of the things people did at that time. The book includes general embroidery, crewel work, candlewicking, cross stitch, needlepoint as it covers thread arts. It covers patchwork, applique, and general quilting as it covers quilted arts. It covers two styles of rugmaking, and weaving before finally getting to knitting and crochet.

Much of the book is a history of the craft, but there is also a detailed discussion of how to do each craft, and then finally one project. That is the sad part. Only one project. I suppose that this came about because each book section probably began life as something for a magazine article for Woman's Day Magazine. Usually the project they have included is not one I would have chosen. Usually I'd have picked something else from among the many projects pictured.

This book is why it was an absolute delight to come across The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann. Mary Schiffmann had a hand in providing the lace samples, and is the person who wrote up the knitting instructions for American Needlework. Wandering through the Woman's Day book, looking for clues of Mary Schiffmanns work, I immediately found these. the first is from American Needlework, and the second is from the Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann. In the first book, only the pictures are shown, and in the second, Mary Schiffmann says her pattern is an adaptation from the first piece. The design actually was knitted about 1890, and is now at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Museum in Mansfield Mo., and is part of a luncheon set. I have no doubt that somewhere in Mary's collection of patterns, there are the written instructions for the other edging patterns in this book too.

If you should happen to see the book at a second hand sale, you may want to pick it up. Some of the history may be out of date, but some is right on target. Some of the projects look a little dated, but these days we are calling old styles 'retro'. For a couple bucks, this is an interesting book. Pick it up. I rank it a half double crochet.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Swift reversal

Yesterday I was talking about the store project with my boss, and she had a really great idea. Which I can't talk about till I work it up. But let me just say, this kind of thing is why she is the owner of a yarn store and I will always only be a needle person who loves yarn.

This whole retail experience has been so very interesting. Sure there are a lot of little mundane tasks, like dusting, and pricing, and restocking shelves, but over all the other jobs I have had recently, these simple mundane tasks are just lovely. It is so nice to go home at the end of the day and have a brain that feels almost whole. I'll admit, the first few weeks were a BIG learning curve, and sometimes I wondered if I could possibly get it all right. I still make stupid mistakes, but only a normal amount of stupid mistakes. Usually they are the sort of things that make me laugh at myself, and are quick to fix. Its a simple job, certainly in keeping with this weeks blog posts. I realized as I wrote this that there is a theme this week. I might have to worry about this. I'm not sure yet. Themes sound like advanced blogging and I don't know that I want to be advanced. I like simple things, right?

I really enjoy my time in the store. I knew I would but I'm a little surprised at what I find the most satisfying.

I'm starting to observe the knitters and crocheters who come into the store, as subgroups inside the bigger world of yarn.

People my age fall into two categories. There are people task oriented knitters and crocheters. They might have a daughter who is getting married and it has been a dream of theirs to knit or crochet her something for her birthday or their daughter is having their first or 5th grandchild and they just want to make something special for the baby from grandma, who loves them waaaaay before they are even a twinkle in their mothers and fathers eyes. (Grandmas are like that) They are generally knitting or crocheting to a specific task and they will keep on knitting to task and to project till people stop giving them babies to knit for and things to make.

Then there are people who are like me who cannot possibly explain. Yarn is a compulsion that has always been a quiet closely guarded little secret that lived inside their minds, and would only ever be referred to as 'I like knitting'. They have never met anyone whom they could talk to about how they feel about yarns and strings and needles, and may even be the tiniest little bit ashamed of how they feel about yarn. They were taught to knit by mothers and grandmothers, who saw knitting as work, and well, in polite 60's modern society, it was just a little hobby. Generally, a passion for 'hobby' was not encouraged. You could like your hobby, you could even really enjoy your hobby, but your hobby could not rule your life. It just wasn't done. There is a whole generation of women my age, who have been hiding this compulsion to touch and feel yarn, like some dirty little secret. These people are just waiting for the chance to talk with someone who understands, and who shares this little obsession. Its such a relief and you can see it on their faces when they realize that you are like that too.

Younger women are a slightly different kettle of fish. they are very open about their love of yarn. they are vibrant and interested, and see this compulsion about yarn as the way a life should be lived. It is refreshing, and delightful to be surrounded by such cheery warm sensible folk.

The other group of young women are the ones who feel isolated in their knitting and crochet now that they are out of college. They want to do it. They feel fulfilled by yarn things in a way aren't filled by other things. When the knitting classes are done and when their student days are past, they move forward to the rest of life. They quite suddenly find they have no one to work with. The social aspect of knitting is gone, and in some places, the resources to find new knitting companions are thin or non existent. They have no one, they are alone and feel bereft. None of their grandmas knit or they live far away. Their moms don't knit. Maybe an aunt does but they only see her a couple times a year. In the general business of getting on with life, knitting slips away.

The nicest thing about working in the store is when you find one of these people and help them satisfy their particular itch. It is a joy to be able to be part of their social aspect of knitting, to be the support they miss, or to be a compatriot in our love of yarns. Helping someone find something they didn't know they were looking for is a delight in my day. I love watching their faces light up when they feel just the right thing between their fingers. I love watching someone who isn't confident in their work, realize that yeah, they are too a knitter.

Working with the customers, filling their needs, and wants, and unknown desires with lovely yarns and solid knitting and crochet is quite simply the best part.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Verrrrrry interesting

The store I work at asked me to do a little knitting home work. I had to come up with a quick to knit project for a yarn project they are working on.

I knit it a couple different ways already and found that each way of working it was defeating the yarn project yarns. So once again, just like socks, after a couple weeks of stressing and avoiding, I am adopting simple is as simple does motto.

Once again things are zooming along. The yarns I am working with are showing off what they are supposed to show off.

and if the photo ever decides to upload properly, you'll even get to see it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Regina and socks

Back from our travels. It is years since I was in the Queen City, close to twenty. Regina is a small city, but fits perfectly in her place in the world and fits her people. She is unassuming and keeps her flash all to herself.

Going to Regina has been one of those trips people from Saskatchewan find about as exciting as weeding the back 40. It is a step down from going to Winnipeg in winter. The trick about Regina is that is is filled with these hidden corners of beauty and you would be hard pressed to match them anywhere. Wascana Park, and its environs are lovely.

Our hotel was a typical Regina expression of that prairie secret. Very unassuming. A little careworn on the outside, and one of those sprawling places built with 50 rooms and then added on and on and on again, and mangled, making that first trip looking for your room comparable to being in a maze. The inside of the facility was grand. The food was amazing. It was simple fare, but well prepared and well served. It stands against the fanciest of haute cuisines any day. It was a wonderful wedding dinner, a wonderful stay, and the city and the parks can hold their head up among all the cities of the world.

At it's heart, Regina is a small town, just don't think less of her for it. She can pull out all the big city she needs when the time is right. Victoria Regina would be pleased, methinks.

Now about that sock thing. Driving to Regina means I was captive for a long time. I worked on unfinished socks. 9 hours of travel, means you can get a lot done.

I finished this pair.I worked on this pair. I worked on this pair a lot.

I knit two heels for this sock, and neither of them matched. I could not make the flap length and the slipped stitches on the side match the first completed sock without going seriously off track on the total length for the foot. The starting pioints matched. The stitch counts matched. They just refused to work out the same.

I ripped, and thought about things for a while. I snoozed and dreamt. I debated long and hard. If I can't seem to make an adequate repeat and I was having serious avoidance issues on this sock anyway, maybe it's time for something different. It would mean a lot more knitting, but it's simpler, more basic approach might be just right.

Back to basics, back to idiot knitting, back to simple, do the heels at the same time in the same couple of hours. Back to peasant heels and you know, I just might stay there.

Simple socks, a simple heel, but they can hold their head up with the fanciest of sock architectures. Suits a prairie person just right.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Friday again

For a couple years, I emailed my family every Friday. The email was notable for its title, which varied from 'Friday', to 'Friday Again', and occasionally,' Its Friday, what happened to the week?'. That is what this week feels like.

It Friday, where did the rest of my days go? Surely some days went missing? Ah me. I did not accomplish nearly enough.

I'll have to go to town this morning for a haircut, and I'll have to do up a bunch of laundry, and then somewhere in the middle of the day, I am being whisked away to the fair City of Regina Saskatchewan for the second of the family weddings. I have all my supplies for the Bride's Memory Bag, but I really meant to get the beads set up so I wouldn't have to bead while we drove.

This time the beads are going to be mounted on a small wire, so that the dangly short strings can simply be knit in. I am just going to suck up and figure out how to manage stringing beads and knitting at the same time. I figured out how to knit backwards, I'm in the middle of figuring out how the rest of the world knits, so I will do this to.

And maybe if I keep saying it to myself often enough, it will magically be true.

I'll try to get photos of the finished bag this time, and then I'll see what I can do about writing it up.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

A sleeve?

A sleeve, a sleeve, my kingdom for a sleeve.

No matter what it looks like, it fits! No dreaded and fretted over gargantuan extra width as I worked the extra 20% to accommodate the size I needed. Just nice space in the armsyce. I don't think that I will have the dropping shoulder problem that many have had. Well, near as I can tell with needles and yarn hanging all over the place.

Whenever I see the works in progress on the Internet, it always looks so tidy and neat. Obviously there is something out there about trying on top down sweaters that I don't know (keeping in mind that I really don't know a lot about knitting at all) . What is obvious that most people whose photos I see on the Internet have help. I'm thinking it is a good thing I didn't go looking for help when I was trying this on. I can just imagine the kind of response I'd get to 'honey, I need a hand with my knitting' at 4:30 a.m.

But it does fit decently. The sleeves are about right, the neckline should be just about right. I knit the sweater a full two inches longer than called for and I hope that will be enough, though I guess I could make the bottom edging deeper if I need just a little more.

I'm definitely adding some hip shaping, but it will be pretty much what I do whenever I sew. I need another inch to the hip area for added ease. Always have, probably always will. That has stayed the same no matter what size I wore.

I'm not a big fan of ribbing at the bottom edge. The last thing I need is something hinting at pulling in at my hips, so I'm considering side slits for part of the lowest area. This might mess with drape, so if I can't keep a wide rib with slits at the side, I will use a seed stitch.

Here is one of the nicest little features of this design. It is one of the things that drew me to the sweater in the first place (Its the return of my personal camera, a camera I know how to operate!). See the nice strong ridge line that develops as you increase? It anchors the chevron, and makes the V of the knitting show up all the more.

If this sweater turns out as good as I think it just might, there will be more of these in my future, including the cardigan sweater I'd like to make to coordinate with this one.

As I'm knitting I'm planning that out. I'll start with some short row chevron work to fill in the back neck area, and then when the stitch count is right, I'll start knitting along the front portion. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to do the edging after the rest of the sweater is complete. I can't see how I'd accommodate the increase with its strong ridge and make a nice seed or other stitch. I need to think on that part more. (If any of you have any good ideas, wild ideas, even freakishly weird ideas, do tell.)

Lots to think about before the set is done, but, I'm feeling really upbeat about what is my first sweater for myself.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

59, 60

Mad Grover waves to the boy who commented on the blog. Kerric is my middle son, and no this is not the son who called me a stool stealer, but he probably will now.....

I've been working diligently on my sweater. It took an entire day to do about 12 rows. Sorting stitches for the arms had to be done 3 times due to miscounts and the serious problems of one side having 1 more stitch than the other. Then I had to figure out how many stitches I should cast on for the underarm. Too many, it looks sloppy, too few and I'll be feeling just like I did when my auntie starched our summer t shirts. Then there was the problem of how exactly to keep adding length without adding width to the sweater.

Ravelry was a great help there. Others had tried different things, and the most sensible sounding comment was to continue to work around the whole sweater increasing at the centre front and centre back, to keep the chevron, and taking off that increase along the side. This is where any waist and hip shaping will be done too. (Many steps ahead) As soon as I get to the length I want at the centre front point, I can go back to working the pattern to get the straight bottom edge that makes this chevron top so interesting.

(photo of decreases along the underarm edge)I'm going to work another row or two for added stability on those extra cast on stitches at the under arm, and then I will try it on and see exactly where I stand. It's so exciting.

This is when I will really see if the sleeves are too wide to drape properly. This is where I see if I have allowed enough depth in the arm hole. This is where I will see if my percentages to up size the top worked. This is where I will see if worrying about gauge when you do all these other adjustments really matters.

I read somewhere that a pattern should not be followed blindly unless you have exactly the same shape and size body as the original sweater was designed for. The same source said all patterns are really just starting points, inspirations and it is up to us to interpret the design so it fits us, and looks just as great as the original.

It feels like it is working right, I see very clearly what my goals at each point should be. I have every confidence that I am very close to where I need to be. Now it just is going to take a little more knitting to get there.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Bad knitting pictures and silly memories.

The camera is charged, but I cannot vouch for the quality of the pictures. Picture quality on this camera is directly related to the quality of the camera user, and using this camera is not my forte. Later today I will have my trusty camera again by my side and I will once again ride the wind with decent photos.
Summer chevron top.Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop practise knitting.

Fun knitting for the store.

These are my most recent knits, not one of which I worked on last evening.

We generally don't eat dinner till 7:30 p.m. or 8:00, and after dinner last night we just all sat around and chatted and talked and made fun of each other. Times like this, usually brings up old memories, mostly of silly things.

Over the years, my boys have gotten all sorts of interesting things from their paternal grandmother. She was very much into giving the kids something she made for Christmas, and her being a child in the 30's made her incredibly thrifty. One year, she made each of the grandchildren little stools. The stools were made of 7 empty 19 oz soup cans and were padded and upholstered. They were just like the grownup versions she had made the year before for the daughters in law out of coffee cans. A quick Internet search leads me to this link, exactly like it (you can find everything on the Internet).

Anyway, the boys used them when they were very small to sit on in front of the TV, to roll across the room, to stack and all other manner of silly small boy games. When they outgrew a thing the size of a soup can, I put them in a garage sale as we approached yet another move. They were a great seller. They were upholstered in nice fabrics, and they really were just the right size for little boys and girls. I made 15 bucks from the 3, but my desire to be rid of things that no longer fit with the stage of life the boys were at, has landed me with a heinous label.

No matter what I bring forth in my defense, the label sticks. That his 12 year old behind could no longer fit on a stool meant for a 4 year old, that the sewing was coming apart, that no one had used them as anything other than a bomb for years, none of these are adequate defence against the label he has coined. (The way he says it, you'd think I sold his best friend)

I will always be branded a stool seller.

But only after family dinners when there is much wine and more laughter. Ach, maybe you had to be there.

Monday, 7 July 2008

SS arrived home on the weekend, much improved. she is putting some weight on her leg, and the cast comes off soon. she is feeling great, and is getting around just fine. Now if we can just keep her off horses for a while longer.

This means my camera is home. I don't have it yet since SS still has to get her photos onto her computer, but we should be back in regular photo production shortly. The camera I have been using has a dead battery, and the Canons are great, but use their own battery technology. It will be a couple hours for the recharge.

So we are photo-less today and darn it, I had some really great knitting to show off.

I'm working on the Summer Chevron Tee from Big Girl Knits, and the talk on
Ravelry is not that encouraging. It seems a lot of people were confused by the gauge, and according to the designer, the gauge is related and created by the drape. I began mine with different yarn and need a larger size than what they have in the book, so I didn't worry about gauge too much. I am working off percentages, and so far so fair. I have about 6 more rows to go to get to the under arm section, and the side work. Once I get those 6 rows done, I am going to have a good look at how it is so far. Is there enough depth, and are the arms OK, or are they getting too wide.

When you play with dimensions like I am, you have to look at how the pattern is keeping its shape. If it would have been easy, they would have worked it up one more step when they were designing it. I am very aware that I might need more depth, and that by the time I reach the depth I want in the under arm, the sleeve might be miles too wide. Right from the get go, I knew that this is the one place I would have to watch carefully and be prepared to play with it. If the sleeves are too wide at the right depth, I'll have to go back and increase at the arm sides less often, so that the cap sleeves dip to follow the shape of my arm.

I am definitely going to have to make the tee longer. After reading the ravelry info on it, I think I know how I am going to work it, but, I'm not going to talk too much about that till I am working on that section. Which should be tonight. Whatever else this pattern is, it just zips along.

It was a lot of knitting getting to that point, so I thought I'd pick up a book and read. I picked up my brand new Zimmerman books. Which of course means I was knitting. I'm starting with Knitting workshop, so of course instead of giving my hands a break, I decided to follow along with the skill progression. It might very well be impossible to read thios book and not knit. I played some with colour work, but I admit if you want to start feeling like a beginner again, just try doing colour work with two hands. My right hand is not used to being that much in charge and I have only the faintest notion of how to hang onto the yarn, throw it, and then knit without dropping everything to the floor.

I think it is time I learned to knit Western. Be prepared for the mess.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann

I cast on for the top from More Big Girl Knits. Twice. I had a little mobeius action going on, and once that happens, there is nothing you can do but rip. Second time around appears to be going better, but I find myself wondering if it is as easy to make a mobeius when a mobeius is part of your plan.

One of the books I picked up at the River City Yarns sale earlier this week was the Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann. This book published in 1998, is now into it's third printing. Its a small book. Sort of unassuming. Inside is a wealth of knowledge, knitting and tales of this lovely woman's life. The book intersects neatly with some of my other treasures, Arctic Lace by Donna Druchnas and the much older Woman's Day Book of American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane.

There are some lovely patterns included in this book, doilies, scarves, and many many edging patterns but the best part of the book is the peek into Mary's story that we are privy too. The chatty format makes it feel like sitting down to tea, and having Mary teach us a few things while we chat. The book is warm and cozy and lovely. There is a reason why it is still in print after all these years.

If, like me, you are becoming, or already are a knitting bookophile, do consider this one. If you are like me, and fascinated by knitted lace, do consider this book. If you are like me, interested in the history of modern knitting, do consider this book.

In my books, this is top notch, a definite treble. If you are looking for a little lace theory, and a little lace history and a little refined patterning, this is the one.

If lace is part of your knitting journey, stop here and rest a while.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Stash enchancement

I picked up a few things at the sale too. I was in the search for sweater quantities, though even the search for that was hard. Choices choices, so many choices. It almost killed me to leave the Lang SilkDream behind. There is enough in stock for even a woman of my size to have a splendidly gorgeously sinfully luxurious summer wardrobe booster. I stayed responsible and did what I came to do.

I picked up more of the Rowan Cotton Jeans that I worked with for the camping hat. I fell hard for it while making the hat, and have been dreaming of something more since then.

I'm hoping to make a cardigan and t shirt type top out of it. 19 balls will do one or the other, but not both, so I am going to mix in some of the marvelous 1824 Cotton. The starting point for the set will be the Summer Chevron Tee from Big Girl Knits. A cardigan will have to mimic the shaping of the front v, but do a more normal back neck thing. I don't see this as a humongous problem. I could be wrong. It could be a huge problem. OK, it will probably be an enormous problem, but I'm silly enough to try it anyway. Being a fearless knitter usually gets me into trouble.

I'd also been looking at the last of the FilTweed that was in the store. 4 skeins of a nice double knitting weight yarn, with a really great feel as you knit with it. This is the same yarn that I picked up for Mr. Needles sweater in green. It's a little hard to see here, but one of the really interesting things about FilTweed is the multi colours of the tweed. It's not that easy to find. Most manufacturers seem to have gone to a single colour tweed effect, or a tone on tone tweed.

Last but not least, is more sweater yarn, for Mr. Needles. Or myself. We'll see how he likes his first sweater. Its a wonderful yarn from Lang, called Zoom. Its a light airy wool, cotton, nylon mix in a lovely soft heathered gray. I didn't want to keep the store ladies waiting so I grabbed two full bags. There is going to be enough for a second project if I add just a little something else with it.

There were a few other bits and pieces in my bag when I got home, a little sock yarn for a pair of stranded work socks from Interweave Crochet, some miscellaneous yarn that was just too good lo leave behind, and a few books. And a beautiful bag. A really beautiful straw bag (on sale for a few weeks more at River City).

I'll get to the books another day.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Civility Rules

Yesterday the store had a great big sale. 25 % off everything on regular prices in the whole store brings out a lot of people.

There was civility everywhere. There was no rushing, or pushing, or grabbing for yarn. There was no rush for needles or accessories. Well, there was, but it was a civil sort of excuse me kind of rush.

My job was to run the store computer system to get everyone's proper price and to make sure the discounts were right. The first 10 minutes were quiet, but from that point on, to the end of the day, I was punching people through the till as fast as the computer could operate. It was amazing. We finally took one person off the floor, and had that person bag, and run the debit and credit card machine. As they did that, I'd get started on the next person in line.

The line was unreal. It wrapped around the store, through the shelves, and back. No one ever seemed to get bothered by the wait even with armfuls of wondrous wools, and silks. The air conditioning was running at full capacity, but not once was a single yarn covered person remotely upset or angry, or even rattled by the wait.

And one poor lady had a great reason to be rattled. I tabbed a right key, when I should have tabbed a left (or something - it got pretty foggy there for a while), and found myself in foreign territory. We redid her transaction, and after all was said and done, made one error. She patiently waited (the line thing) while we fit her in to correct things. A very nice lady.

People bought so many good things and sitting there at the till, I got to see them all. Through the evening, colour and shapes and textures were still running through my head. I was overwhelmed by the scope of things hiding in the corners of the store that wise and canny shoppers took home.

The whole thing was lovely, but the absolutely best thing about a yarn store sale is meeting knitters. Nothing is nicer than being surrounded by people who are passionate about the same thing as you, and no one is more polite or patient than yarn people.

Yarn people are nice people. Just plain nice.