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 knittinghelp.com 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.