Monday, December 21, 2009

Done: Hubby's Striped Sweater

Hubby sweater doneI finished Hubby's Striped Sweater!

Around 8:30 last night.

Which is why there isn't a finished object picture (yet).

He even humored me and posed for pictures. Stood right next to the Christmas tree. Then rejected all the images.

If I used the flash all the colors came out electric (as you've been seeing all along). If I didn't use the flash the image was too dark to see anything.

We decided to wait and take it in the sunshine. But it's Monday morning and there were places to be (for me at least, he's on winter break already).

Hopefully I'll have a picture for you soon. Almost as exciting as it being finished is that it actually fits and looks good. When he first put it on I was flipping out because it looked tight across his shoulders. I mean, he has broad shoulders and all, but I made the size large to take that into account.

After he had it on for about half an hour it suddenly looked better. I suppose the fabric was able to shift around and his body heat blocked it a bit. Because, really, I wove in the last end and he put it on, so it's not like any washing, blocking, or other finessing took place before it hit his body.

Then, when it was time for the photo shoot, he revealed he had it on over a T-shirt (which I knew) AND an undershirt (which I didn't know but should have realized). That was a lot of fabric for the sweater to accommodate.

The only snag I hit as I was finishing the sewing was where the collar met the shoulder. There was a gap where the shoulder didn't close and also a big, nasty, loose tan/white stitch from when I picked up for the collar. After I finished sewing the collar shut I used a piece of green yarn (remember the shoulders are green) to do a funky duplicate stitch embroidery train wreck type of maneuver to close the hole and cover the icky stitch.

It seemed to work out well, I might even take a picture for you. Choosing the green was the no-brainer key, since it made it all blend in. Of course no one will ever notice because (and you know what's coming) no one should be close enough to my Hubby's collar to tell.

He loves it. (phew, didn't want to have to kill him. The back yard is frozen, there would have been nowhere to hide the body). He said it was nice and soft. He wore it until bed time last night, then he put it on again first thing this morning. He also had on the Yankees Socks I knit him.

He has to do the grocery shopping today. I wonder if he'll wear his new sweater out of the house?

Project Stats
The pattern is #12 Striped Turtle Neck Sweater by Brandon Malby from the 2002 Vogue Knitting Men's Special Issue.

I made two modification: changing the color scheme radically because I used different yarn than specified. Made a mock turtle neck, which is what Hubby wanted, rather than a full-blown, fold-over turtle neck.

Oh, and I worked the collar on the big needles rather than the small needles because I was worried about it being stiff/tight.

US 5 & 2 needles.

Yarn: Zara and Zara Chine from Filatura Di Crosa 100% merino wool, 136.5 yards each. (The chine are the two tone colors.)
Originally I was going to substitute Zara colors but follow the stripe sequence in the pattern. So I bought two balls of all stripe color and four of the main charcoal color, because the yardage should have worked out since I would be hitting each color as the pattern hit the original colors.

Quantities became a bit of a guessing game once I switched up the stripe sequence and hit some colors more than the original pattern intended. I ended up going back for more on a few, which means I now have some nice Zara colors in stash.

Charcoal was the main stripe color and also appeared in all the ribbing (and I used it for all the sewing). Used: 4.75 skeins. Now stashed: 1
Tan/White was the other color in the ribbing and was also a one row stripe between all the other colors. Used: 3. Now stashed: 1

All the other colors were just used for stripes.

Black Used 1.75. Now stashed: 0.25
Maroon Used: 2. Now stashed: 1
Dark navy: Used: 1.25. Now stashed: 0.75
Green Used: 2
Black/White Used 1.5. Now stashed: 1.5
Royal Used 1. Now stashed: 1

I don't know if that will help you determine quantities if you make this sweater as well.

I think the take away would be to consider both yardage and frequency when substituting yarn in a striped pattern. My main color and a few of my supporting colors showed up with much more often than the original colors in the pattern and it made all the difference in the amounts I needed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Done: Christmas Stocking


I finished the Christmas stocking. And well before Christmas, too.

What a relief.

I didn't bother taking a picture since it basically looks the same as yesterday, except without a bunch of dpns sticking out of it.

Project Stats
As I said the other day, the pattern is The 2002 Holiday Stocking from Mary McCall on this page here.
The yarn is "Merry Pop'n Christmas Yarn" in the Christmas Red and Christmas Green colors.
US7 needles.
Looks like I got about 4 sts to the inch.
I worked the green part of the leg for 6 inches from picking up off the cuff to marking for the heel. If I stretch the cuff out, the leg from the top of the cuff to the top of the heel measures 12 inches (give or take).
Then I worked the foot section from the heel for 6 inches before switching to red for the toe.
The entire stocking from the top of the cuff (stretched) to the tip of the toe is about 20 inches.
Looks like the leg has a circumference of about 13 inches.

Which are pretty good stocking dimensions, if you ask me.

The last thing left to do is a hanger loop thingy. But I seem to remember something funky about the loops for the other stockings/mittens. They get hung from the railing on the steps, so I think I've made loops and then we use extra yarn to tie them to the railing. It might be best to make two cords instead.

The point is, I'm going to take the yarn with me and wait to make the loop until I'm up there.

Hubby's Sweater is still in a seamless state.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stocking progress

Stocking almost The stocking is working up rather quickly.

As you can see, I finished the toe the other day and have started on the heel.

What you can't see is that I forgot to pick up extra stitches at the corners of the heel so there are massive gaps there.

Now on one hand I say, "It's a Christmas stocking, nothing is going to be small enough to fall out."

And on the other hand I say, "AAAAHHHH! Look at those massive gaps! How could I let that happen?!"

So I'll probably be going back with some green yarn and attempting to sew the buggers shut.

What you also can't see is a true representation of the colors. I took this one without a flash, but I am in my office so the florescent lights probably aren't helping. The yarn is vibrant, but not as vibrant in the picture. I'm actually wondering whether I should have used the green for the cuff instead. Well too late now.

I'm also thinking that I should have made the green portion of the leg longer. At the time I was thinking the cuff counted as part of the leg length, which made it plenty long. But the visual break because of the color change kind of skews it.

It looks a little more proportional in person. And if I fold it in half at the heel the green leg and foot sections are the same length. So I guess I'm ok.

Once again, too late now.

Hubby's Sweater
Is still crawling along. Even though these side seams are easier to line up, they still take quite a bit of time to execute.

I didn't have any time to work on it Monday night. But I was able to take a whack at it yesterday.

The first side seam is done and I've made a start on the first sleeve.

I am still holding out hope for having it finished by Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Breakthrough!

HS side seam I've conquered the sleeves!

They have been beaten into submission!

Perseverance pays off. I am victorious. yippee!

There were a few more missteps along the path, of course. On Friday night someone on Ravelry said she read an idea in a Meg Swanson book to pick-up stitches along the arm hole then Kitchener or three-needle bind off to attach the sleeve.

This sounded brilliant. I ran down stairs to try it out. There are, of course, more rows in the sweater body in the 20 inches the top of the sleeve covered than there are stitches in the sleeve. I couldn't get the correct number of stitches picked up nicely along the body edge.

I struggling with it for about an hour before giving up. Frustrated, I fought the urge to throw the sweater across the room and burst into tears. Instead I complained that I was hungry.

Outside In
I settled myself down, repinned the sleeve, and had my breakthrough.

This time I started at the outside edge, where I wanted the sleeves to end, and worked my way toward the middle from both ends.

I thought of this because I had mentioned the other day that it is the direction I go when I'm attaching a set in sleeve that has shaping.

You might remember in my first attempt to attach the sleeves I started at one end and went straight across. But everything shifted out of place.

Since I own two darning needles (well, ok, four actually) I was able to work from both ends at once. I would work 10 rows (one stripe) on the right, then 10 rows on the left, etc. The whole time I kept smoothing the body down and it was much easier to see where it was buckling up and needing to be "eased in" by taking two stitches on the body instead of just one. In this manner I ended in the middle, at the shoulder seam, and was able to hide any remaining pucker there.


Of course, that was just one sleeve. The second sleeve I had to once again rip back before I could go forward.

I got the second sleeve finished Sunday evening and plunged right into working on the body.

(I didn't work on it Saturday night. Hubby was out for the evening. I borrowed Love Actually from the library. Even though I'd seen it before I opted to sit and watch it and work on the stocking. The stocking is into the toe shaping. When the toe is finished I just have to go back and do the afterthought heel. I might actually finish this stocking by Christmas! Although I suspect it might be smaller than the other ones I've made.)

The amorphous blob you see at the beginning of the post is the sweater in position to have the first side seem sewn.

I've used a combination of wee, spring loaded, butterfly hair clips and my trusty Lake Placid stitch markers to pin it together. (I'm not sure those hair clips have ever actually touched my hair, but they are awfully handy for seaming a sweater.)

Smooth Sailing
As you might imagine, sewing up the side is much easier. First off, working mattress stitch on two even vertical pieces like this is easy-peasy once you know what you're doing. I like to work a few rows then pull the yarn and watch the work zip into place. whoosh!

On this sweater I have the additional guide of the stripes. If the colors start shifting out of place so the pattern doesn't match up I can see it right away.

I made it all the way up to the second charcoal stripe before I stopped to go to bed. Of course, for this part, I wished it was still the weekend so I could just stay up all night working on the sweater.

Alas, that was not the case. But now that I'm on a roll I might actually have the sweater finished by Christmas too!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Shameless promotion ahead.

If you have any friends who speak Russian and you want to impress them this Christmas or on their next birthday you should totally check out the greeting cards at Bash Designs, a small company based in California.

There are Russian language and bilingual (Russian/English) cards for Christmas, Birthdays, Names Days, Easter, and Thank You notes.

(Names Days are the feast day of the saint for which you are named.)

These aren't stodgy old cards either. They have cute, stylish designs.

Now, despite how obviously biased my review is, I haven't actually seen these cards in person. But they are being made by my younger cousin, so I know first hand how neurotic, I mean, detail oriented and fashionable she is. So I trust in their quality.

Considering Russian Orthodox Christmas isn't until Jan 7, you probably still have time to order.

What Knitting?
Oh, I'm sorry, those cute cards were supposed to distract you.

Do we really have to discuss Hubby's Sweater? I pulled it out last night, but decided going to bed was a better idea. Hubby was at one end of the dining room table grading papers. I spread out at the other end. He sighed and said, "It will never be done." Boy obviously doesn't realize these things take time. I'm going to conquer this blasted sweater this weekend if it's the only thing I do!

On the other hand, the Christmas stocking is moving along nicely. The entire thing measures 12 inches from the top of the cuff. I'm trying to decide if I can mark for the after thought heel here or if I should work the green part of the leg for a few more inches.

What did me in on the claddagh stocking was that I couldn't get the proportions to look nice, I'd rather avoid that this time round.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Square One

Sleeve jog Hubby is a bit distressed at the lack of progress on his sweater.

And believe you me, I'm right there with him.


Part of the hold up is that I can't multitask when I'm seaming. When I'm knitting (or crocheting) I can sprawl on the couch and also watch TV with only occasional glaces down at my work. When I'm seaming I have to park myself at the dining room table and give the work my undivided attention. So I can either join Hubby in watching our TV shows or I can work on his sweater. I have not actually laid those choices before him. I wonder which he'd select?

Well, I better get cracking. Last night I told him it would be done by Christmas.

Two Sleeves Forward, One Step Back
I settled down last night to start sewing the sides together.

Things immediately went wrong when I couldn't line up the underarm area. If the points of the sleeves lined up the hem of the body didn't.


I took a closer look and realized the points of the sleeve didn't land at the same spot on the front and back of the sweater. I tried to get a picture of it, but don't know if you can tell what is going on.

See, on the front of the sweater the sleeve ended on the third row of green. But on the back it ended on the eighth row of green. Which is a five row difference. There was no way to fudge it. If I proceeded, the sleeve seam would run along the side of the arm instead of under it.

This was the case on both sleeves.

I know how it happened. As I was attaching the sleeves the fabric slid and flexed and I just fudged it and kept sewing figuring it would all even out in the end.

I kind of forgot at the time that I was working on a drop-shoulder sweater and the sleeves had to land at the same spot on both sides.

The last few sweaters I made for myself had set in sleeves. Those were easier to fudge because I could see if they were coming out of line and it made more sense were I had to "ease them in."

Hmm, thinking about it, for those sweaters I think I started at each end of the sleeve and worked my way toward the middle, so all slack ended up at the top of the shoulder. On Hubby's Sweater I started at one end and worked straight across.

Take That You Curling Beast!
Sleeve flatWith a heavy heart I ripped the seams out. All my hard work over the weekend destroyed.

Then I dragged the sweater up the spare room, set the iron on wool, cranked the steam valve, and steamed the thing to death.

Yeah, you read that right, I blocked.

I have to imagine that part of the problem last time was that I was fighting the curl and couldn't see what I was doing.

I repinned the sleeves taking care to ensure the ends hit on the same rows this time.

(It was around this time Hubby came wandering in to see what was happening. I'm not sure whether he realized the sleeves were attached earlier in the evening and weren't any longer. I did tell him it was messed up and I had to start over. While I was talking he examined the ribbing, fingered the fabric remorsefully, then sighed and wandered away. That's when I promised it would be done by Christmas. I'm starting to see the wisdom of paying someone to do this bit.)

This time I started in the middle and worked my way toward the ends. My thinking was any slack will get pushed out evenly to the ends and keep the sleeve balanced.

I was able to mostly reattach one sleeve last night before bedtime.

Two issue have presented themselves.
  1. Despite the fact that I'm reusing the piece of yarn from the first time around, it has run short. This is annoying because now I'm going to need two wee lengths to finish off both ends of the sleeve. This means more ends to weave in. grrr
  2. There is a good chance the sleeve is once again going to hit on two different points. It might only be a row or two this time, which might be fine in the end. I'm really annoyed about it since I was being careful and don't know how it happened. I'm also debating whether I can fudge the short end by stretching or scrunching. sigh.
By then it was 10 pm, so I abandoned the sweater and went to bed. Well, not really. I let the dogs out, wrapped up the sweater and stuck it in the dining room credenza to keep it safe, let the dogs back in, then went to bed.

At this point, I think I'll work on the second sleeve tonight and see if I have better luck.

Maybe I should be using more pins.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Joining the Fray

Joe's stocking Or is it "joining the frenzy"?

Or even "participating in the panic".

I'm not one for Christmas knitting. This will not come as a surprise to you since I'm not one for gift knitting much. Why should I change my habits just because a certain month rolls around?

However, I've suddenly decided to finally start working on a Christmas stocking for my father-in-law. If that isn't the definition of Christmas knitting I don't know what is.

Have I mentioned the Christmas Stocking saga?
I'm really not sure where to begin.

Ok, I've mentioned that my MIL taught me to knit. She also crochets. (But I think my grandmother taught me that.)

My MIL has/had a collection of Christmas stockings for the nine people who usually attend Christmas at her house. They were made by her mother or grandmother, I don't remember, and are red, white, and green granny squares.

Sure, they've been around a while, but I think her main complaint was they are a bit narrow and long, so it's hard to get presents that fit nicely.

In a fit of newly wed bliss, I crocheted new stockings for me and Hubby.

MIL thought they were grand and somehow got me to agree to make new stockings for the other seven people. Keep in mind this was early in my marriage so I was probably still trying to make a good impression.

The next "stockings" I made were actually giant mittens from a Mary Maxim kit. They are cute and worked up quickly. I got my MIL back on those as I was having trouble seaming them (it was when I'd first started knitting). So I made her sew them shut. Those are for my BIL and SIL.

Then I decided to design a stocking. This is where everything went wrong. I worked a clahhdagh symbol (the heart, hands, crown) in intarsia on the leg. That wasn't too bad. But I couldn't get the proportions of the rest of the stocking to be pleasing. The foot is too short for the leg and the toe is kind of snubbed. It still annoys me, but I was so very sick of it and trying to fix it that I just ended it and moved on. And I was using some old acrylic stuff out of stash and I swear it was squeeking.

That was year before last, I think.

Which makes it about time to make another stocking.

This time I'm being smart and going with a published pattern. The 2002 Holiday Stocking from Mary McCall on this page here. Only it turns out the pattern says "knit to desired length," which returns to the issue I had with my claddagh stocking. But other people on Ravelry put in the dimensions they used, so that will help.

I'm using some Christmas colored yarn that I got as a Christmas present from my Cousin AKM a few years ago. I wasn't sure what to make with it, but it fairly screams Christmas Stocking. In fact, when I went to the attic to dig it out the pattern and both skeins of yarn were sitting together on a shelf.

It's "Merry Pop'n Christmas Yarn." The picture is horrible, but it's bright red yarn with a green strand. The other ball is bright green with a red strand. It's really eye catching. Because the picture is bad you can't tell that it's ribbing with a cable in the middle. That will be joined then the leg will be picked up and worked down.

I'm doing the cuff, heel, and toe in the red and the leg and foot in green.

Let's see if I can get it done by Dec. 24!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Assembly Required

Assembly The process of seaming Hubby's Striped Sweater has begun.

It's going slowly, but at least it's going.

Hubby's Sweater has been languishing since I finished the actual knitting last week. But isn't that always the way? I knit my Nell Sweater is like two months, but took two years to finish it because of the blasted button band.

There is no button band on Hubby's Sweater, so my excuse is that I was in no condition to mattress stitch because of my head cold.

This was working out rather well for me. I finished the back of my Stella Sweater. I was hanging out on the loveseat Friday night debating binding off the shoulders as instructed or leaving the stitches live for a three-needle bind off later, when Hubby suddenly noticed I was messing with a little light blue thing rather than a big striped thing.

Some adorable, silent pouting ensued.

The result of which you see above. Along with the all important cup of tea.

Simply Sleeves
I spent Saturday night and all of Sunday on and off attaching the sleeves.

I told you it was a slow process.

In fact, seaming sweaters is such a good motivator for me that on Sunday I also cleaned the kitchen, wash a load of towels and two loads of sheets, changed the bed, and vacuumed the whole house.

Just think how much further along I'd be on the sweater if I didn't keep taking breaks to "stretch."

Hubby's sweater is a drop shoulder style, so no shaping to line up.

I folded the sleeve in half to find the center point then pinned it to the shoulder seam.

Then I flattened the sleeve out (yes, I still think blocking is overrated) and pinned the two ends to the body of the sweater. Then I flattened the sweater body and the sleeve and pinned a few more points in between the ends and the center.

The extra pin points help me make sure I'm on track and the sleeve isn't slipping out of alignment. If there is a little slippage I might grab two bars on the sweater body to even it out. If there is a lot of slippage I yank a small section out and try again.

Terribly tedious.

I'm saying "pin" but what I actually used was the stitch markers I made in Lake Placid that have jewelry lobster claw closures instead of rings. Very handy.

For the sleeves I decided to do the seaming with the maroon yarn. I figured it probably wouldn't be visible anyway, but since the sleeves are a solid color the sewing yarn should match. Since the body is striped the sewing yarn isn't going to match all the colors anyway.

For the body I'm going to start the seaming with the left over charcoal grey yarn and moved on to other long scraps from there. I know on the sides the sewing yarn won't show, so I feel pretty safe going with the grey.

I'll just have to be disciplined and work on it a little every night.

Necking, Again
Neckline Just for grins, here is a picture of the collar.

You can see how the fabric is buckling just a wee bit where I picked up stitches.

Huh, that center bit, where it really looks wobbly is where the stitches were cast off so I could pick up 1 for 1. Overall I think I did a good job of picking up evenly.

Anyway, the theory is it will hang flat when he's wearing it.

By the way, everyone who has seen the pictures then seen the sweater in person say the pictures don't do it justice. No prompting required. The colors are much nicer in person. My best guess is the flash keeps activating and that is distorting things.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Weaving & Necking

Totally fell off the face of the blog there, didn't I?

First we were out of town for Thanksgiving.

Then I got sick.

Then I got cranky. Why is all the news these days so very gloomy and depressing? Or am I just looking at the world through mud colored glasses?


One thing that is not mud colored is Hubby's Striped Sweater. You can't see this for yourself as I've lost track of the camera. We took it to Thanksgiving (but didn't use it). I think I saw it on the bed in the office this morning....

Because of the lack of photographic evidence you will have to trust me that Hubby's Sweater is rapidly approaching completion. yippee! All the knitting is done. I just have to sew it up. But a head cold is not conducive to putting me in the mood to mattress stitch. Therefore I've shoved it into the dinning room credenza and returned to working on Stella.

The Ends Go In, The Ends Go Out
I took only the sweater to Thanksgiving to force myself to weave in ends during any yarn time I might have had. Weaving the ends was the major obstacle between me and finishing.

On Wednesday night, before I settled down to work, I held the body of the sweater up to my mother-in-law and exclaimed, "Do you see how much I love your son!!" Because she would appreciate how much time a man-sized sweater would take to knit.

She admired my handy work and declared again that I had far surpassed her. Of course, she takes special pride in my abilities since she's the one who taught me to knit. I'm sure she could keep up with me if she applied herself, but she prefers crocheting and is an afghan making machine.

Then on Thursday, after dinner, when everyone else settled down to watch the Giants football game, I parked myself in the recliner in the corner under a floor lap and wove ends for almost the entire game. That's, what, four hours of end weaving? But it was done!

I made two changes to the collar.

I was supposed to work it on the smaller sized needle, but I was concerned it would be too stiff, so I worked it on the larger needle I used for the body.

It was supposed to be a full turtle neck, but Hubby wants a mock turtle neck, so I cut it short. I worked it for about two inches. I draped the sweater over him and it seems like a good length. I figure I can open the bind off and work a few more rows if it turns out too short once the sweater is all done.

Picking up necklines gives me almost as many conniptions as buttonbands do. But necklines I can conquer.

It took me two tries to get it right. Not counting the half starts when I realized the stitches weren't evenly distributed and I had to start over.

I had worked the neckline decreases one stitch in from the edge. I do that on side shaping as well, since it make it easier to seam if you aren't fighting with lumpy stitches.

On the neck it didn't work out so well. My first attempt at picking up I did under that lone edge stitch. I worked about two rows of the collar and took a look. It was rather stretched and gaping because the single stitch wasn't very stable. Aahhhh!

I tore it out and picked up again, this time going under the second stitch, which is the decreased stitch. I hope it doesn't make the neck to bulky.

After I knit the whole collar I looked at it again and decided it was puckering where I had picked up along the shaped edge of the neckline. I thought my only recourse would be to rip out the collar, rip out the neckline shaping, and rework the neck/shoulder area with the decreases on the first stitch.

Fortunately, before I did anything that rash I took it into Knitting Central for a second opinion. I told the other staff members to be brutally honest.

The Other Ann pointed out that when he's wearing it the slack will be pulled out and the pucker will disappear. C agreed. So I was on my way again.

Now all I have to do is buckle down and seam the sucker.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Maintaining Focus

I finished the sleeves on Sunday.

Did I tell you that?

It was quite the adventure. I had measured the back to the designated length and thought I would need six rows of maroon. But the sleeves were half an inch short. So I measured the back again and suddenly needed all 10 rows. I worked three more rows on the sleeves, at which point they were measuring half an inch to long. I measured the back again and eight rows seemed right.

So I made a whimpering noise and went to bed.

Of course yesterday the sleeves measured the correct length. I stopped measuring and bound off. I know not to push my luck.

I didn't get to do a lick of work on them yesterday. Well, that's an exaggeration. I was able to devote about an hour to the sweater (maybe less, we do fast forward through commercials). However that was only enough time to weave in the ends on one edge of one sleeve. Does that mean I have three more hours of sleeve end weaving to go? I tremble to think about end weaving on the front and back pieces.


I was even being good and trying to knit the ends in as I went along. This was only really effective on the knit sides. I trapped the yarn when I was on the purl sides, but it isn't quite the same. Hopefully this means I only have to weave in half as many ends are I potentially could have faced.

Of course, all the ends have to be woven in before I sew it together, or its not going to happen. Which would be bad. Visions of the sweater unraveling....aaaahh! Sadly the ends aren't long enough to be used for the seaming. That would be a real pain. Woven in they must be.

I blame the holidays
My evening was tanked yesterday because first I had to do an interview for an article I'm working on. That went til 6:45.

Then I had to make the tassies for Thanksgiving (I volunteered to help my MIL out). They are little bite sized pie thingies. Do a search on "cashew tassies" and you'll find plenty of recipes. Only I used walnuts left over from the date nut bread I baked Friday. (I am racking up the awesome daughter-in-law points this year).

The tassie dough is basically butter mixed with cream cheese. Samson and Baru were going nuts. They were right on top of me the entire time. Breathing their hot puppy breath on my legs. I kept ordering them out of the kitchen, but a few minutes later they were back.

Anyway, you mix the butter and cream cheese together with a little flour, then push it into mini muffin tins like little pie shells. That was the high maintenance part. I forgot how long that took.

And the whole production was interrupted for an hour and a half by dinner. I ended up putting the muffin tin in the freezer while I mixed the brown sugar/egg filling so the dough could stiffen up a bit and be easier to squish into shape.

They weren't done until well after 9 pm. Sadly, two tassies got stuck to the pan. I had no choice but to destroy the evidence. No one will know they are missing.

Good Hubby
We were watching that show Lie to Me while I was weaving in end.

The teenaged daughter on the show had on a cute, red, knit hat. It was a few rows of ribbing, then seed stitch in the center, then wide ribbing on the crown. And there were two little buttons on the side.

Oh, how do I know what it looked like so well? Because after the third or fourth shot of it Hubby hit the pause button unprompted (we have digital cable with DVR service). He said something along the lines of, "I bet you like that hat." And that he was pausing it so I could get a good look.

Isn't he adorable? Further confirmation he does deserve a handknit sweater.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh, Now I Feel Bad

The Heart Harf came home Friday.

Just in time for 60 degree F weather all weekend. Obviously my concern about having it in time for cold weather was premature.

Also in the box was the company's current pattern book and a tan skein of their Guanaco yarn. Kind of like a consolation prize, which is nice because the rules didn't say anything about a consolation prize.

So now I feel a little bad for disparaging their lack of taste the other day.

On the other hand, just because they're nice doesn't change the fact that I didn't win. I think I'll continue to feel snubbed. But the pretty stuff is a bit soothing.

Of course, I immediately started plotting what to make with the yarn. It might be the correct gauge to make another attempt at the uncooperative cabled hat I was trying to design recently. The handspun yarn I used for my first attempt ran out. The second yarn I used worked up at a different gauge so the hat was too big for me (but fit Hubby). But I don't know if I want to revisit that situation.

There is a pattern for a pair of Aran Gaunlets by Dina More that take one skein of Guanaco in the booklet. They have potential. But a couple people on Ravelry mentioned they thought the yarn was itchy. It's a blend of alpaca and merino. I don't remember the yarn feeling itchy when I was playing with it on Friday, but that Misti Alpaca I'd used to make Hubby a scarf (which was then harvested for a hat) made my neck prickle. So maybe alpaca yarn isn't to be trusted.

Someone on Ravelry used this yarn to make the Captian Hat by Rosi Garmendia. It's a cute cabled thing with a brim like on a baseball cap. It looks like it has potential to be a good winter hat. But I have my lovely Coronet and how many winter hats does a girl need?

I suppose I should finish some of the projects I already have on the go before I plunge into a new one. Being disciplined is so constricting.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Got Nuthin'

Not even a picture.

I shouldn't even bother blogging today.

I'm chugging along on the sleeves. I'm through the first set of increases and working on the second set.

I've realized that I have about three colors to go (which is really around 33 rows, give or take). To arrive at this estimate, I measured the back to the specified length for the sleeves, which ended up being in the second maroon stripe. So that is my target, when I hit the maroon stripe I'll start measuring.

I half suspect I'll be able to get through these 33 rows tonight. Definitely over the weekend.

That gave me a moment of excitement. I thought, "Maybe I will be done in time for Thanksgiving." That developed as a vague goal somewhere along the line. If I finish by Thanksgiving the maximum number of family members will be able to see and admire the sweater.

Then I came to my senses. Even if I do finish knitting the sleeves tonight or tomorrow, I still have to weave in the zillion ends, sew it together, and knit the collar.


Well, the family will have to see and admire it in an unfinished state.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Two Times the Fun

I'm slogging along on the sleeves for Hubby's Striped Sweater.

Now I think I'm on sleeve island.

Why do sleeves feel like they take forever to knit? Is it because I'm almost done but not as close as I think? Similar to the last few days before vacation seem to have more than 24 hours. I thought the sleeves would be more interesting than the back and front because of the increases. Instead, they are happening frequently enough to be distracting when I'm trying to watch TV.

I'm almost done with the first set of increases. Then I'll have two more to work before I "knit even" to the specified length.

Actually, I tend to knit sleeves first if I can.

I also like to knit them at the same time on one long circular cable if I can. Which is what I'm doing with Hubby's sleeves. I wasn't planning to, since they are going to have over 100 stitches each by the time I bind off, but when I was running short on charcoal yarn I worked them to the same point so as not to loose time.

It's working out just fine. I haven't needed to go up a cable yet.

Potential Pitfalls
There are some hazards to working both sleeves simultaneously. Here are some tips.
  • I find it best to treat them as one long row. That is, make sure you work both sleeves before walking away, otherwise you might work one twice and then be thrown off. I actually worked one sleeve twice without putting my project down, but it was easy to catch because of the stripes (oh, this sleeve has 3 and that one has 2).
  • You could knit them together by forgetting to switch balls. I've never done this, but I bet it could happen if you are engrossed in your show. Sometimes I put a hanging row counter between them as a prompt.
  • Your balls of yarn are going to tangle. This is easier to manage if you are working from two balls of yarn. I'm using both ends of one ball and it's getting messy. Happily, since the stripes are only 10 rows I don't have to wait long to cut them and free myself.
Seriously? You want to learn?
Earlier in the week Bossman declared that he wants to learn to knit so he can make himself a scarf. He says he hasn't see any he likes in stores.

I laughed at him and walked away.

Now, I remind you that his wife knows how to knit (although it sounds like she doesn't) so he has another resource to pursue this goal, since I'm just taunting him. I've also directed him to and I found these helpful tips (you have to click through to get a PDF) from my Twitter friend BlondeChicken.

I know you are thinking that all potential knitters should be encouraged, but you don't know my boss. He could be up to something. This is the same man who over the summer at our company's conference convinced me and the Other Associate Editor that we had suddenly been slated for a speaking role the next morning. This was while the team was a dinner the night before our supposed stage appearance. It didn't help things that the Deadline Setter and The Guy in The Art Department picked up the gag seamlessly. Of course, TGtAD cracked first and started laughing, so he can be forgiven.

Bossman is being persistent in expressing interest, but also telling me to talk him out of it. Like that's going to happen. Potential knitters and crocheters must be encouraged. The more of us there are the better the industry is financially.

However, I've tipped my hand. I told him I'm going to convince him to buy some nice cashmere yarn. That way when he decides knitting isn't for him I'll be able to graciously take it off his hands (and have myself some yummy new yarn). hehehe. I've also threatened to distribute his picture to the KC staff so they will know what to do if he shows up when I'm not around.

Speaking of encouraging knitters...I wonder whether my nephew has stuck with it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Angora Bed Socks of Power and Fortune!

Angora sock front What I haven't mentioned is that at the beginning of November I went on a business trip to Denver. Which is why I didn't post for a week.

I did not take Hubby's Striped Sweater with me. I hated losing the three days of knitting time, but it isn't exactly what you would call a "portable project." Heck, even the non-knitters in my office were able to recognize that a man-sized sweater requiring eight balls of yarn is not a portable project.

So I seized the opportunity to cast on for the angora bed socks I was planning to make with the yarn I bought at Rhinebeck.

I was just going to do plain stockinette stitch socks. However, we had a cold snap, which caused me to start wearing my Alchemy Girlfriend Cable Socks as bed socks. I thought, "These are bed socks and they have cables. Why should the angora ones be plain just because they won't leave the house?"

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm mildly obsessed with the book Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold. I flipped through it and settled on the Intertwined Linked Rings Cable. At least, I think that's what it's called, I don't have the pattern with me.

angora sock heelGetting Funky
Since I only have the two balls of yarn clocking in at 85 yards each, I want to make sure I use it all up, but I didn't want to work them toe-up. Technically, the socks only have to cover my feet and have a long enough leg that they don't fall off easily.

Therefore, I'm employing a funky construction I read about in a2004 issue of INKnitters Magazine (I'm pretty sure). In a nut shell, you use a provisional cast on to start at the ankle, work the foot down, then work the leg up. You should track down the article, if you can, because the author went into details about working the technique and making the pattern in self-patterning yarn match up.

My cable will work because it's reversible and there are two rest rows between the links (and of course I could add more if I wanted).

I was also going to do a plain heel, but it looked weird in the white, white yarn, so I threw a little infinity cable onto it. I wanted to do the St. John's Cross from the book, but I didn't have it with me, couldn't remember all the steps, and don't think it would have fit anyway.

Wee Circs
mini circs Starting the socks was exciting because I had an excuse to use the cute little sheep markers I got in my ChooChooKnits goody bag that I won at Rhinebeck.

You might remember that goody bag included a gift certificate to Kaleidoscope Yarn. Well, obviously I wasn't going to use it on something I could get at my beloved Knitting Central, so no yarn.

I found they carry the 9" HiyaHiya circular needles. As expected, I had to pitch in some of my own funds, but I had some Rhinebeck spending money left over.

It is a set of three in US1, 2, and 3 and it came with the cute kitty bag. Two of the needles had a locking stitch marker and the other had a pattern for a 12" doll dress. There was also a bag of cinnamon spice tea in the box and a sock pattern from HiyaHiya. It arrived very quickly from the time I placed my order.

(The kitty bag is very cute, but it had a strong smell of plastic or latex or something, I assume because it's hand-painted. I had to leave it on the dining room credenza for a few days to air it out. It seems ok now.)

Anyway. I'm using the US3 needles. They do take a little getting used to. I discovered that I leverage my left hand needle against the far side of my palm, which you can't do with these circs. I did get accustomed to them fairly quickly during my trip, but I had to reacclimate to them the other day when I took that break from Hubby's Sweater. Also, I brought along a set of US3 dpns, which I had to use when knitting the heel flap (and as my cable needle). I hear tell I'll have to switch to DPNs again when I'm doing the toe decreases.

Still, all in all, I'm glad I got them. They are interesting. I'm sure they'll prove useful when I get to do some more heavy sock knitting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Knitting Friends Rule

River Fog 2 My charcoal yarn deficiency has been remedied.

My new favorite person, P , was going through her stash and discovered 1 3/4 balls of 1469 with which she could bear to part. (Obviously I've liked her all along, but the champion in the quest for more of the correct color yarn deserves an elevation in status.)

The swap took place yesterday. I exchanged my two balls of close-but-no-cigar 1468 for a pair of creams and handed them over.

These new balls are a different dyelot, but the correct color in the wrong dyelot has got to be better than a totally different color. And the stripes will totally help me out here. Now I have 2 3/4 balls to get me through the sleeves and collar (remember I still had the fourth ball I originally purchased.) The back and front each took one ball and a bit. What's that rule of thumb? The sleeves together equal the back? So I should be fine.

I have added incentive to knit faster. Some poor soul contacted me via Ravelry scrounging for the black/white chine. She (?) said she can't find it anywhere. I told her I would let her know when I finish my project. I bought three balls total and don't think I'll need the third, since each sleeve is probably only going to have one black/white stripe. But I don't want to give her false hope, and I can't fight my instinct to hoard until the sweater is done. (Or at least passed that stripe.)

Holding Pattern
Stella sleeve closeThe uncertainty about finding more 1469 put Hubby's Sweater in a brief holding pattern over the weekend. I worked both sleeves up through the black and maroon striped then stopped because charcoal was next. I didn't want to bust into 1468 until I knew I had to.

This freed me to work on Stella for an evening. Remember Stella? Lovely sweater. First thing I did was count stitches, which made me realize I'd dropped one of the edge stitches and it ran, oh 8 rows or so. Most of my knitting time was spent ripping out and reknitting. I'm terrible at picking up edge stitches. Actually the only thing stopping it from going all the way to the cast on edge was the fact I had changed to a new ball of yarn and the knot caught it. sigh.

I think I started with 14 rows of st st and ended the evening with 18 rows. wheee!

The amazing part, to me, was that Hubby didn't comment on me not working on his sweater. Maybe I'd been keeping him updated about the yarn situation. I remember showing him the two colors at one point. Anyway, I expected him to protest but didn't hear a peep.

Earlier in the week he asked when it would be done. I said if I'd married someone my own size it would have been done weeks ago.

That's me, wanting a big, strong protector for a mate. Wasn't thinking about knitting/crocheting sweaters when I was creating my "perfect husband" checklist.

Consider yourself warned.

River Fog 1Foggy
So most of these pictures have nothing to do with yarn.

I came down this morning, let the pups out, and thought, "Outside just looks wrong."

It took me a second to realize just the river was fogged in, so I couldn't see the other bank. Usually everything is fogged in.
River no Fog
I tried to get pictures of it, since it looked cool. It looked weirder at 6:15 am when it was still relatively dark out, but I figured the camera wouldn't capture it.

I see now that I should have uploaded the original, massive size, so you could see details better.
For comparison, here is the same view after the fog burned off.

Maybe I'm just easily amused/impressed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Can't Account For Taste

Harf detail I am sad to inform you that the Heart Harf didn't win that contest I entered.


The only thing I can figure is they don't know true brilliance when they see it.

Nope, very few self-esteem issues around here.

I'll show them, I'll write the pattern up and people will be clamoring to buy it!

My only comfort, aside from disparaging the judges' ability to recognize awesome knitwear when they see it, is that I didn't knit the Harf for the contest.

I wasn't actually positive, so I dug through my old blog posts (which wasn't easy, apparently I don't apply tags consistently) to confirm.

As far as I can tell, although I knew about the contest when I dreamt the Harf up, I didn't dream it up for that reason. Looks to me like I was intending to make it one way or the other. I only made it for the contest because I was able to find suitable yarn from that company. This means it's not a total loss, since it's something I already wanted.

My only hope now is that they return it in a timely so I can start wearing it. humph.

Positive Thinking My Eye
This shows you that "the power of positive thinking" people are spouting nonsense.

I don't think I could have been more consistently positive about my anticipated win than I was.

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?

Hubby's Sweater
I've decided that substituting light charcoal 1468 for my original dark charcoal 1469 is unacceptable. I decided I at least had to make an effort to get the right color, even in a different dyelot, before I used the wrong color.

I have a message out to Cynthia to see if she's reordering my color. If she isn't then I will proceed with the wrong color, knowing that at least I tried.

Or maybe I'll knit what I can and then ping the other people on Ravelry who have it.

I just can't decide.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Sleeve Island

Hubby sweater front Actually, I only just started the sleeves and I'm not tired of them yet, so perhaps it's not Sleeve Island.

At what point do you land on Sleeve Island? Are there guidelines?

Anyway, what you see here, at a really bizarre angle it turns out, is the front (and back!) of Hubby's Sweater. yippee!

It's laying on a stack of patio cushions in the Green Room in front of the glass doors. I thought it would get good light there, but the flash still went off.

So I finished the front on Sunday, I believe, and jumped into the sleeves.

I've made a change to the pattern. Just a minor one. I'm using a 3-needle bind off on the shoulders instead of sewing them.

I was supposed to bind off all the stitches when I finished the back. Instead, I knit an extra row, then cut the yarn, picked out that last row, and left the live stitches on a holder. I did that to make sure I had enough yarn attached to it. Then when the front was the matching length I used a DPN as my extra needle to 3-needle the right shoulder. Then I bound off the center back stitches, leaving the other shoulder stitches on both front and back live.

The collar is picked up and worked flat. I'm half tempted to close that other shoulder so I can work the collar in the round. Hubby wants a mock turtle neck. I figure the length (height?) will be easier to judge if he can actually try it on.

Maybe I can pick them up flat, then close the shoulder and join to work in the round. Hmm.

Color Ratios
For the cuffs, I have knit the ribbing for one then jumped ahead to knit the ribbing for the second one right away. Remember I had debated knitting all the ribbing at once? I didn't. It has gotten easier with each piece, so there wasn't a need.

I'm doing it for the cuffs because I'm rather concerned about running out of the charcoal grey.

The last time I was at the store I confirmed we're out of the charcoal grey #1469. All we had was #1468. It is a smidgen lighter. The other two staff members agreed that it was weird we would have two such similar colors. But I had to get it because I need to finish the sweater. My hope is that it will be in the sleeves and with all the other colors it won't be noticeable. And, really, what choice did I have?

Well, I could have forced the situation by asking Cynthia to order more of the color I needed, but then the dyelot probably wouldn't match. And I didn't want to wait.

My plan is to use the 1469 in the cuffs and collar and 1468 as the stripes in the sleeves. The colors are awfully close, but I wouldn't want to run out mid stripe and have to mix them.

For most of the colors I bought two balls of yarn. For the charcoal grey I'd bought four. I think I didn't notice that there were two different charcoals when I originally bought the yarn (which shows you how similar they are) or I would have gone with the one we had more of. When we redid the stripe sequence I ended up with three balls each of the black/white and maroon.

As I've been watching the colors deplete I've realized I probably won't need three each of those. I'll probably just use the two. What I need is more tan/white.

My plan over the weekend was to swap the third balls of maroon and black/white for a charcoal and a tan/white. But after I did that I realized my discarded black/white was the last one in the store. What if I suddenly needed it?! So I took it back. Then I thought since I was keeping that one I should keep the maroon one as well. Then I noticed that after I bought one each of the charcoal and tan/white there was only one of each left in the store. What if I needed them as well?!

In the end, instead of swapping two for two with no financial investment, I bought four more balls of yarn.


One of the other staff members reminded me that Zara is a great yarn and even if I have leftovers it will be easy to use and good to have in stash. That amused me greatly, since I say similar things to customers when I'm encouraging them to buy a spare ball. It's a safety net.

Of course, you only have to run out of yarn once to be more than willing to buy a spare ball (or four).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh, I See What You Did There

I have the blog comments set up to be e-mailed to me (on the rare occasions that I get one).

This is very convenient, but can take the comments a little out of context. Despite the fact the e-mail subject is the title of the blog post, I sometimes only remember the broad strokes of what I wrote and not the details.

That's the situation I found myself in Sunday night when I saw this comment from my Older Brother:

I would like a green sweater lovingly knitted by my little sister... hint, hint.

On the post where I talked about Hubby asking me to make him a sweater. (Which is your third example of my family's sass levels. Not Hubby's request, my brother's request.)

I scoffed, "A green sweater! I won't even make his kids little kid-sized socks. Why would he think I'd make a man-sized sweater for him?" And I deleted the e-mail and went to bed.

After all, Husbands are made of steak dinners, pancake breakfasts, and back rub goodness, while Brothers are made of eels, and snails, and puppy dog tails.

(Although I'm not sure about that last one. My puppy dogs' tails are rather lovely. Except when they are being used a weapons of mass destruction to sweep my cup of tea off the coffee table.)

Click, Click, Lightbulb
However, since I'm cold hearted not totally heartless, I started thinking about it again Monday morning.

I thought I could make him a green egg cozy sized sweater. That would be funny and obnoxious. (And fast.)

Then I thought about how man-sized sweaters are expensive. Of course, I could use less expensive yarn than I'm using for Hubby's sweater, since after all he's just a brother. Or I could price it and tell him to pony up for the yarn.

But thinking about the egg cozy made me think of the attic stash, which started a cascade of connections in the back of my mind.

Suddenly a realization popped into my brain fully formed. Ruben yarn

That post was also the post where I showed the picture and yarn for the Ruben sweater. Hubby turned his nose up at it.

Brother wasn't asking for "a" green sweater. He was asking for "that" green sweater, which I had basically announced to the world was up for grabs.

This is not only cunning, but a good example of just how very dangerous older brothers can be.

You don't see the danger? Perhaps you don't have an Older Brother of your own so you are not familiar with their ways? I will spell it out for you: I already had the stuff and wanted to make the sweater. He was generously offering me a reason to proceed.

See, very cunning. And very self-sacrificing.

Don't worry, I'll be fine. I know how to cope with these Older Brother Tricks. I have applied Little Sister Logic to the situation and dismissed the whole idea.

See, I can't make him that sweater, because I wouldn't know which size to make since I don't know his chest size.

Ha! Problem solved.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stopping Sweater Abuse

Hubby has decided to fight back. Throwing his sweater on the floor is no longer a valid way to control him.

The other day, when I knew the ribbing was dry after its encounter with the maple syrup, I ran upstairs to get it so I could work on it after dinner.

Of course, I made this decision just as Hubby was ready to fill our plates. Well, as soon as I crossed the threshold he launched into histrionics about slaving over the hot stove and now my food is going to be cold.

Since it took me, like, two seconds to run up, grab it, and come down, I was back in the kitchen while he was still talking.

So I held the ribbing over my head in a threatening manner.

When he saw what I was doing he pivoted and held my serving of spaghetti over the floor instead of my plate.

Obviously spaghetti on the floor was a more potent threat than knitting on the floor. You can't just pick spaghetti up and dust it off. Especially with two furry vacuums waiting to pounce on a situation like that.

I didn't realize he'd be willing to escalate the arms race to that level. We're at a stalemate now. Or would it be an impasse?

Anyway, the sweater is safe from any sudden, purposeful collisions with the ground from here on.

I'll just have to go back to fluttering my eyelashes as my primary means of bending him to my will.

The ribbing is done and I'm three colors into the body. I think I'll exchange the second ball of royal blue for a fifth charcoal. The royal blue will only have one stripe on each piece, so I have to imagine one ball will be enough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rhinebeck: More Stash Enhancement

STR tlingit yarnOk, I would say I'm going to be brief, but that would be a lie. Or at least an unachievable goal. You must realize by now that I'm totally missing the brief gene.

The portion of Hubby's Striped Sweater that had the encounter with maple syrup over the weekend was dry enough to knit on again last night. I have about 10 rows of ribbing to go on the front piece.

Right. On to more Rhinebeck yarn! My shopping strategy was to look for unique stuff that we don't carry at KC. If we carry it at KC not only do I have constant, easy access to it, but I get a staff discount. So why would I buy it someplace else?

Socks that Rock
As you can see, I bought a skein in the Tlingit colorway. But it was a real struggle. It shouldn't be this hard to buy yarn, especially sock yarn. And it wasn't hard in the way you might think.

As far as I can tell, there is a lot of buzz in the online knitting world about this yarn. However, it's hard to get your hands on. Well, unless you shop online, which I don't. I like to see and feel yarn before I buy it.

So I was very interested when I heard one of the booths at Rhinebeck would be carrying it. I also saw on Ravelry posts that it can be a bit of a feeding frenzy when the festival first opens, which kind of made me glad we arrived a little late.

Well, I found the booth...and I wasn't impressed. None of the colors reached out and grabbed me. None filled my little heart with greed and the need to possess it. I thought, "What is all the fuss about?" Maybe all the good colors were gone by the time I arrived, or maybe it just wasn't my style.

Decidedly underwhelmed, I moved on.

I might have made another pass during the day, again without buying anything. Then at the end of the day, really we were heading for the exit gate, I ran into my co-workers. G had a skein. I don't know if she had ever used it before. It gave me a chance to revisit my nagging concern that if I didn't buy a skein at Rhinebeck I didn't know when I'd have another chance, and I would be left continuing to wonder why everyone was so excited.

So I left mom and our bags on a bench (my nephew was watching the pumpkin carver) and I zoomed back to the booth.

Again, nothing grabbed me. There was a rainbow colored one, but it was no better than other primary colored rainbow ones I've seen in the past.

Since an impulse purchase wasn't working out I decided a more practical approach was in order. I remembered I needed more dark socks for when I wear dark pants. That narrowed things down.

I settled on this skein. It's got black, and some purply-red and green for interest.

I turned around to pay and asked Thor (as his Ravelry ID pin informed me) if the hype was deserved. He explained the woman who makes it is very particular about her base yarn, explained her dying process (which was Greek to me), and concluded the hype was deserved.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of projects in line before this, so it will be a while before I test it out.

Aussi Soxxi
Aussi SoxxiNow this is a yarn that did grab me.

This yarn is 90 percent merino and 10 percent nylon. It's soft. Not the softest sock yarn I've ever felt, but also not stringy like Jawool, or scratch like Opal can be.

It's from Oasis Yarn.

I haven't used it before. Don't the colors make your eyes water? Apparently I prefer vibrant sock colors.

There were two other skeins I dithered over before I selected this one. One was in neon 80s day-glo colors. The second was a pastel version of 80s day-glo colors (if that is even possible). However, I thought this one might be more usable (ha!). I debated getting two colors, but didn't want to spend all my money in one booth.

See, not that is the way I expect yarn buying to be difficult. Because it's all so beautiful I can't settle on just one.

Samson's Angora
angora yarn It wasn't until after I bought this yarn that I realized it was named for one of my puppies.

Aside from the Solo yarn, angora sock yarn was my other solid goal for Rhinebeck.

My feet get really cold in the winter. I mean really cold. Forget about not letting them touch Hubby at night, I don't even want them touching me! (Actually, Hubby loves me so much that he does let me put them on him to warm up.) I've heard that angora has some homeopathic thing going on for poor circulation.

This yarn is 50 percent angora, 20 percent merino, and 30 percent nylon. I'm happy about the high nylon content since it means the finished socks should have some durability. They shouldn't wear out the first time I forget and walk around the house in them. At the same time the yarn is still soft and fuzzy.

I don't mind that it's plain white since these are just bed socks.

Actually, I saw some nice dyed angora yarn at the end of the day. However it cost more and the angora content wasn't as high, so I'm happy I bought this instead.

Maple Creek Farm Alexandria
maple creek farm Again, here is a yarn that reached out and grabbed me. I had to have it. The tag just says superwash and nylon with out ratios. It has a good softness.

At the end of the day, when we were heading for the exit, we realized there was an entire section of the fair we had missed. All the buildings housing the 4-H displays, which is where the live sheep, alpacas, and llamas were hanging out. There were more vendors in that area as well. We missed them because when we arrived we immediately veered off in search of the kiddie section. I can see why some people spend two days at this festival.

As we were zooming through, this yarn caught my eye. I saw it and was once again mesmerized. In addition to liking vibrant socks, I apparently think you can't have too many pairs of red socks.

Mom seemed a little iffy about them, but my nephew said to go for it. Of course, my nephew said I should buy it to make socks for him. I was like, "Right, kid, don't hold your breath." (Please see my previous post about being cold hearted.) Heck, since I taught him how to knit, he can now make his own socks.

Ok. That is all the yarn I bought at Rhinebeck. I can't wait to get to use it.

That Sunday morning, when we woke up, I snuggled up to Hubby and was telling him all about the festival and my beautiful new yarns. He asked how much I spent. I mumbled a figure that was probably on the low side (despite my vow never to smuggle purchases). He was like, "Geez, honey!" because it's almost time for his case of wine. In a panic I blurted, "Mom gave me some spending money!" And he said, "What are you, 15?" because he doesn't like me to take advantage of her. And I said, "Well, yeah!" But I wonder whether he was secretly happy, since this meant his wine purchase was safe.

In case you are wondering about my lack of post took me two days to write this. My lunch hour ran out and I didn't want to drag the yarn purchases out to a third post. :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hubby's Sweater: Argh! Maple Syrup

Hubby sweater 1 See? I knew that if I just stalled long enough there would eventually be something interesting to report about Hubby's Striped Sweater.

The maple syrup incident was on Sunday morning.

I was working on the ribbing for the front and had my stuff all over my love seat and the coffee table.

Hubby made French toast for breakfast. We were lounging around after eating.

Then I got up for something. Decided to take some dishes. Grabbed the wee pitcher full of maple syrup without looking/paying attention...

I was walking away when I glanced down and wondered why the pitcher looked like the syrup was recently poured...

Glanced back to see a puddle of maple syrup on the coffee table and a trail across my knitting and the charcoal ball (the tan ball was out of range)!

The keening noise I emitted sent Baru scurrying for the Puppy Fort. I think even Samson made himself scarce.

I grabbed a napkin and blotted it up. But I knew I wasn't going to want to knit with sticky yarn. I wrapped the ball around my arm to make a hank. Then I very carefully, with no agitation at all, rinsed the yarn and the ribbing in hot water in the kitchen sink.

I was going to do cold, which seemed safer, but Hubby pointed out it wouldn't melt the syrup away as effectively. Actually, Hubby thought I should zap it in the microwave, but it was on my Addi Turbos and I didn't want to waste time transferring it to scrap yarn.

I just held it under the faucet and let the water flush it. Then I carefully squished the water out and hung it on the towel rack in my bathroom.

It doesn't look like any damage was done. And it seemed pretty dry this morning, but I figured I give it the working day to finish off.

That's a Back
First, that picture is a total lie. It shows about half the back. As of, oh, Saturday night, the back is done!

Wheee! That took just over two weeks, judging by the start date I entered on my Ravelry project page. But I don't know if that takes swatching into account.

The stripe pattern we had decided in the store that day fell three colors short of the length I needed. So I finished it off with Navy, Charcoal, and Green.

Hubby has blue eyes. But they are the kind of blue eyes that will look green if he wears green. So I had wanted the sweater to finish on either the royal blue or the green.

Hubby was watching like a hawk when I laid it on the coffee table to take a final measure. He commented it was getting big. I agreed and said it was done. He took it (after I put on point protectors) and held it up to admire it in the mirror over the mantel. Then he sprawled on the couch and used it as a blanket for his chest.

It was all very cute.

I've started on the ribbing for the front now, which is how I managed to spill syrup all over it. It is moving along much better than the first round of ribbing did.

Speaking of Charcoal
I'm starting to worry about running out.

I'm sure that I have enough total yardage to make the sweater. It's having enough of the individual colors I'm worried about. Charcoal especially.

I have four balls, as it's my main color and that is the amount the original pattern called for.

But in messing with the color sequence we dropped a color and my main color is appearing more frequently than the main color in the magazine.

I have already used up one entire ball of charcoal just on the back. Then I dipped into the second one. Which means I'll need one and a bit for the front.

So I have to decided if I should just buy an additional ball. Or swap out one of the second balls of one of the other colors that might not get hit as hard. Like the royal blue.

I'm so concerned about this that I even sat down with the magazine and determined how many times each color appears in the sweater in the picture (which is only a size medium) and compared it to how many time I can expect each of my colors to appear. I was hoping this would help me decide how to rebalance my colors.

I thought if I could determine the pattern only calls for one 124 yard ball of a color that appears X times, then my one 136 yard ball should be fine.

Yeah, I don't think it helped much.

Although I'm really really sure I'm going to need more charcoal.

More Sweater Abuse
The sweater had a bit of a rough time over the weekend.

On Friday I had a fit of pique at Hubby and flung the sweater back off my lap and onto the floor! Where it landed half on Samson. Who didn't flinch.

I don't even remember what Hubby did to tick me off, aside from making me cook my own dinner. (If you ever had my cooking you would realize how cruel this was.)

As expected, Hubby gasped in horror and cried, "That's my sweater!" He dashed back into the living room to rescue it, protesting the entire time that it would be full of puppy hair now.

I, however, had a pretty good pout on by then and was impervious to his pleading. Until I realized that several stitches had popped off the needles! My ice queen facade crumbled in an instant as I snatched it back. Fortunately, no stitches ran.

Obviously we kissed and made up since I've started the front of his sweater and he's back to doing the cooking.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rhinebeck: Stash Enhancement Solo

BFY solo NY 18 Finally, the post you've been waiting for!

Of course yarn was purchased.

But I was smart, I went in with a budget, cash, and a (vague) plan.

I knew for sure that if I didn't buy any other yarn I was going to stock up on Solo from Brooks Farm Yarn.

You might remember I was introduced to this yarn last year when Cynthia gave me a skein. I used it to make my Cropped Poncho. Well, I found it so lovely and squishy I decided I needed more.

When I was working on that uncooperative hat the other week, I was inspired with the idea of making a cabled sweater. A cardigan type that I could wear over other tops as a transition piece during the fall. Since I knew by then I was attending Rhinebeck, it made sense to get yarn for this potential sweater. (Especially since I'm making such awesome progress with that other cabled sweater I'm designing. [which would be none.])

I was thinking blue. Or maybe green.

As you can see I ended up with a glorious red. Turns out Brooks Farm is a very popular booth. I found a single skein in a nice green and asked whether there was more. The guy said what's out is it and there used to be 11 others just like it. sigh.

I considered getting one of their other yarns that they did have in green (or blue), but I had my heart set on Solo.

I ended up with six hanks in the NY18 color way. It is different than my poncho color. My poncho is dark red, with hinds of brown and dark orange. These new ones are more bright, scarlet red, with just a hint of orange. Trust me, they are different.

I had calculated that five hanks should be enough (they are 400 yards each) but there were six on the pegs and I didn't want some other poor knitter to go through what I just experienced with the pretty green one. Besides, what if I had stuck with the five and run out!?BFYSolo NY18

Step Away from the Yarn
I got into the long line with my treasure. We were all chatting as we inched up.

Near the register was a rack of single skeins that were on sale. Some yellow caught my eye, so I switched the position of two skeins so I could get a better look at it.

It was a single hank of Solo. It was bright, sunny yellow and tangerine. It was like sunshine glinting off a glass of Tang.

I was mesmerized.

So I added it to my pile.

Then I reconsidered. It was only marked down $3. What would I do with a single hank?

I put it back.

Then I thought I could make another poncho and took it again. Then I put it back. But I had to give it a pet.

By now the lady behind me was laughing. I asked what she thought. She said I should get it, but pointed out she wasn't the best person to ask. I agreed that for that advice I should call my mom.

I took it again. Then I saw P from the store. She hadn't seen me yet. I held up the beautiful yellow skein and called, "Hey, P! What do you think?"

She told me to put it back. She said it as orange and she never saw me work with orange, so I obviously didn't like orange.

I put it back again. At which time the lady behind me snapped it up. Proving she was only encouraging me to get it so she couldn't! Oh, these games us yarn lovers play. At least it got a good home.

I also thought it was interesting that I looked at it and saw yellow, but P looked at it and saw orange.

Ah, drat, I really have to get to work. More yarn was bought, but will have to wait.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rhinebeck: Faces and Fun

CJ big sock When Mom arrived with CJ in tow Friday night I was surprised since he and his sister had both said "No" to the original invite.

(He got his face painted like a pirate.)

We all settled down to watch the Yankees game.

I was happily knitting on Hubby's Striped Sweater when CJ asked me to teach him how to knit.

Now, most knitters might get giddy with excitement at such a request, but most knitters aren't as cold-hearted as I am.

"No," I said. "I tried that once and it didn't work out so well."

"I was four," he retorted. "I'm nine now."

Since I couldn't argue with that logic, and I didn't remember our previous attempt was so long ago, I fished out the US8 Colonial Rosewood Needles Cynthia gave me for Christmas a few years ago and a ball of light blue Red Heart that was lurking in the dining room credenza. (Proving it really was time to clean the credenza out.)

Despite firmly believing that if you don't know how to cast on you don't know how to knit, I decided to jump to the good stuff and cast on a few stitches.

He called my bluff and asked where the stitches came from and how I did it.

I demonstrated the long-tail cast on. He seemed to get it right away. I demonstrated the knit stitch. He started knitting.

Well, he had a little trouble remembering which direction to throw the yarn, but he got the hang of it awfully quickly.

He complained the wood needles were too pointy, but when I switched him to some metal #9 he said those were too slippery and wanted to switch back. So I said, "Just knit with the wooden one. When the metal one comes free, put it aside for the second wooden one." And he did!

Dude, I've met some adults who have trouble grasping that concept.

The Big Sock
There is a Rhinebeck connection to all this.

I had read that The Big Sock would be at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival and wanted to knit on it.

You can read more about it here but basically it's an effort to get a Guinness Record for the biggest hand knit sock.

Me big sock It is distributed over several circular needles that all just feed into each other. The yarn was mostly worsted weight, as far as I could tell. It has been traveling around the country and the yarn store that has it contributes yarn, in this case Uncommon Threads.

You could just wander up and knit on it. Provided there was an open spot with a working ball attached (there were plenty of open needles, but no yarn).

Maybe you can tell, but I'm totally faking it in this picture. I didn't have yarn to work with, but wanted evidence. I did really add 20 or so stitches of my own.

CJ knit on it to. He did a good job, if I do say so myself. At one point I was next to him and said, "Remember not to pull to tightly." The woman next to me was like, "Oh I know, I'm just fixing this." Ooops! So I explained CJ had only learned to knit the night before. I guess that made someone else suspicious because she told me he had dropped a stitch. But he hadn't. He only split one. So I tinked back and fixed it.

After that, we got our commemorative buttons and moved on.

Of course, this newly acquired skill would explain why he wouldn't part with the yarn is his goody bag. If only I had known about the goody bag contents...but then hindsight is 20/20.

I know you!
Let's see. I ran into Lisa from when I used to take the train.

P from Knitting Central. (She has good Rhinebeck accounts and pictures on her blog too, as you might expect.) I had been chatting on P's Facebook page with one of her friends about how many layers of knitwear we could manage. Turns out it was P's sister, so I got to meet her too.

I saw MathCutie, who I only know from Ravelry and Facebook. She liked the Yankees Socks I made for Hubby and asked for the pattern. She found me at the big sock. I was looking down at the sock and she said she recognized my Coronet.
Ravelry Bob
I also saw the Other Associate Editor from work (who doesn't knit) and G, the woman who does mysterious things with our website database (who does knit).

And I saw Bob! Ravlery's mascot. I don't think it was the real Bob, I don't think the real Bob is that tall.

This was at the Ravelry meet up. Bob was treated like a celebrity and got swarmed. I don't know these people in the picture, so I hid them in case they don't want to be online. :-)

I think that's everyone I saw. Really, I was focused on the yarn.

I had my Felted Ravelry ID Bag with me. As you can imagine, at an event like this, my bag finally got the recognition and respect it deserves. I spend most of my time with non-knitters, who admire the bag, but don't really understand.

Well, some people gawked at my bag in admiration from afar. Most told me how awesome it was. And a couple even took my picture! (link to someone else's flickr stream)

In addition to admiring all the fiber, we saw some cute animals, watched the shepherding dogs, and saw the Frisbee dogs. There were a lot of activities to take in. Did I already mention that CJ must have done the bouncy castle a half dozen times? And the big slide twice? I can see why some people attend both days of the festival.

Ravelry Party
We also stayed for the Ravelry party, which you knew from the goody bag in yesterday's post.
bob tree cupcake It was fun to see all the people and all their fabulous knitwear. The variety of hats alone was mind-boggling.

There were appetizers: spanikopita, chicken wings, mini quiches (which were burnt), pigs in a blanket, and fried veggies. Cash bar, but water, tea, and coffee were free.

There were also yummy cupcakes with fancy designs on the icing. I noticed the images were off the grab bag. How very coordinated!

My only complaint would be that it was cold. The whole damn day was cold. The party was in tents, and they had space heaters, but we ended up in the main tent which just had net sides. So unless you were right under a heater they weren't helping much. We managed to have fun anyway. Despite not winning any of the many, quality door prizes.

You might be wondering how a 9-year-old boy could stand all this. Well, when we were taking pictures of the cupcakes a 6-year-old boy appeared. He had come prepared with two plastic pirate swords. In case he happened to encounter a dueling partner, I suppose. They spent the evening running around having sword fights.

The Measure of a Foot
Also while we were admiring the cupcakes, a woman came over and asked if I knew how long my son's foot was. She said a friend was making socks for a little boy who wasn't around and couldn't believe that 8 inches was the target length.

I said he was my nephew so she would understand why I didn't know his shoe size. CJ and his new friend very obligingly took off a shoe each and let the lady measure their feet. They also reported on their shoe size. I also heard CJ tell her he was short for his age. How clever is that? I think they already knew the other boy was tall for his age.

Only at a gathering of knitters would this encounter not seem odd.

We didn't end up leaving until 10 pm! With a two hour drive ahead of us. We kept debating leaving earlier, but we wanted to be there for the raffle.

When we got in line for the shuttle bus we realized we'd be three, if not four, runs back. Did I mention is was cold? We ended up walking the mile to the school parking lot. In the dark. A bunch of other people walked too, so we felt safe. We also got to the parking lot at the same time as the second bus run, so we would have still been standing at the party if we hadn't walked.

Hubby was flabbergasted when he called at 10 to check on us (at least we were in the car by then!). The drive home was fine. I was flabbergasted at first that Hubby was still awake when we got home at midnight, but the Yankees game was still on. The two of us ended up staying up until 1 am, since the game went into extra-innings.

It was a very full day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rhinebeck: Goody Bags

Rhinebeck goodiebag Since Hubby's sweater is not making for good blog fodder these days, I'm going to milk my trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday for all it's worth.

Considering how amazingly long winded I can be when I'm not even trying getting multiple blog posts out of one day shouldn't be difficult at all.

I know that what you want to see are pictures of the yarn I bought, but I haven't had a chance to photograph it yet. So just hold your horses.

Instead, I shall start with the fun, free stuff I acquired by being in the right places at the right times.

ChooChooKnits Goodies
I've been following Somebunnyslove (blog link) on Twitter and saw her tweet about a contest being run by ChooChooKnits (blog link)

She was going to tweet her location during Rhinebeck and if you found her you got a goody bag.

My little group was me, Mom, and my 9-year-old nephew CJ. We arrived just around noon and CJ was pretty insistent that we check out the kid's section first. Mom and I agreed in order to shut him up and get on to the shopping. Somehow he knew where the kiddie rides were located.

Turns out the rides were right next to the field were the Ravelry meet up was happening. Ravelry Rhinebeck meetup That was very convenient.

I went over and started skulking around the perimeter to see if I recognized anyone.

I passed a lady whose pin said "Choo Choo Knits." I stopped and said to myself, "Wait a minute." Then doubled back and said, "Are you the Choo Choo Knits doing the Twitter contest?"

And she said, "Yes! you found me. Let me get you a bag." It was her last one!

It is a nice canvas tote bag (with the sponsors' logos on it) filled with all kinds of goodies! A copy of Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel, which is a cool book I've flipped through at KC but haven't bought. And three loose Glampyre Knits patterns—a cardigan, a cropped shrug, and that little one-skein shoulder warmer she designed.

A $15 gift certificate to Kaleidoscope Yarns, a Kaleidoscope Yarns mug (which got broken when mom dropped the bag as we were trying to settle down for lunch. sniffle), as well a KYarn pen and post it pad.

A skein of Tilli Thomas Milan yarn, which is a silk/cashmere/merino blend, along with a scarf pattern. The pattern looks sort of feather and fanish. I will follow it and this will be my Rhinebeck scarf!

A t-shirt that says "Knit Glam."

Sheep markersBut I think my favorite item, well, they are all my favorites, but this one made me squeel, are the wee sheep stitch markers! They were wrapped up in tissue paper and then tucked in a jewelry box so I didn't see them until I was rooting through the bag again at lunch time.

Aren't they just so cute you could die?

They are from WeeOnes Creations (esty shop link)

When I found them I said, "Now I have to knit something with a pattern so I can use them." Hmm, I guess the Napoleon Scarf for the Milan yarn would do the trick. I suppose I could also randomly stick them on Hubby's sweater, just because they are so adorable.

Ravelry Party
Ravelry goodiebag We also went to the Ravelry Party when the NYSWF closed.

They handed out goody bags as soon as you walked in the door.

There is a drawstring canvas project bag that has sheep, lama, alpacas, and Bob cavorting on the front under a banner that says "Ravelry at Rhinebeck 2009" on the front. The back has all the sponsors' logos.

In side was a skein of Knit Picks Gloss DK. I got two because I stole Mom's since she doesn't knit. CJ wouldn't cough his up. I will probably use it to make a little scarf. Or maybe a hat. Or fingerless mitts. I just don't know yet. There is so much potential in a new ball of yarn.

A pink Namaste project tote out of a funky material. (Some of the bags had green totes.)

Little nibbly sample skeins of Classic Elete Provence Marl, Classic Elite Verde Collection Allegoro, Miss Babs Yummy sock yarn. Again, I managed to steal one of Mom's skeins. She kept her Miss Babs one and said she was going to make a key chain. CJ wouldn't fork his over.

A sample size of Unicorn Fibre Wash, which I've never used.

An a post it pad from (whoops, I covered the name).

There were also coupons and fliers, but I'm not sure if they were only valid during Rhinebeck.

As you can see, fun stuff was to be had at every turn.

Now, I must do more actual work.