Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

As promised, meet Colonel.

The crocheted goldfish I designed back in 1994.

Inspired by One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I made another gold one for my younger sister (which she still has) and a red, white, and blue one for my uncle when he was in the late stages of cancer. I don't know if my aunt still has it.

Celtic Critter Cardigan: More Swatches

Celtic Critter Cardigan 1wdragon I think I'm getting perilously close to the point where if I continue swatching I'm going to have done a sweater's worth of knitting without having knit a sweater.

That is part of the peril of designing your own sweater. Especially one with so many motifs.

Here you see the dragon head swatch. Can you make him out in the photo? He still needs to be tacked down and finessed.

The stitch marker on the left was intended for a second dragon, but I realized I wouldn't have room so I skipped it. After all it's just a swatch.

The book then says something along the lines of "attach dragon with applique techniques." As though that means something to me. And I suddenly thought, "Hmm, there is going to be a lot of fussy finishing involved with these dragons. Maybe I don't want as many as I originally thought."

Currently I'm thinking I'll whip stitch the dragon in place from the wrong side of the cardigan, i.e, reach up from inside.

In the book, there is a picture of the dragon with little whiskers embroidered on. They really enhance his looks, but embroidery is so not in my skill set. I had the swatch and the book in the store recently. Pam and Jane (one of our regular teachers who is a little flashier than me) were trying to convince me to use some sort of shiny red yarn for the whiskers to make him really pop. I am debating this idea. It might stand out too much. But that is rather far down the line.

Cuff Reject
Celtic Critter Cardigan cuff reject As I mentioned last time, the top swatch is for the bottom hem and the front opening.

I was also planning that cable for the sleeve cuff. However, there are so many cool cables in Viking Patterns for Knitting that I couldn't resist the idea of perhaps incorporating more of them into the cardigan.

The result was a swatch of the one you see here, which is one I like and think looks "cuffy."

However, it looks anemic in comparison to the main cable, so I'm not going to use it.

In case you're wondering, there is a half cable on the left because I'm making all the swatches over 48 sts regardless of pattern repeat. My theory is this will make it easier to measure them for gauge and give me a better idea of how they might pull or flair. 8x8 swatch indeed.

Back Motif
Celtic Critter Cardigan back swatch The next swatch was this beautiful cable you see here. This is one of my favorites out the of the book. It's the Happiness Symbol Bisected by a Ring (or something like that). A smaller version, without the ring, is what I had wanted to put on the heel of the Angora Bed Socks of Power and Fortune!, but couldn't remember how to make it.

My plan is to center this on the back of the cardigan to break up the expanse of reverse stockinette stitch. I needed to know how tall and wide it will be so I can plot it.

I learned two things from swatching it.

First, it seems to pucker more than the other cables. However, I haven't blocked any of them so I'm not worried about it. Also, it will have the weight of the sweater pulling it straight.

Second, I'm going to have to float stitch markers up the entire sweater for it, or carefully plot the number of stitches it will be from the edge. The chart only has 4 sts on either side of the outer edge shown. Centering the very beginning of the cable in the middle wasn't a problem, but I got a little confused when it was time to work the increases for the outer rings.

See, swatching really is our friend!

Dragon Down
Celtic Critter Cardigan dragon 2 The last swatch (I thought) I knit was this wee one. Obviously not on 48 sts!

My plan is to have the cables grow up from the sleeve cuff and stop in dragon head(s) near the elbow. Then I want the cables to resume on the upper arm. The kind I'm using have stop and start points so I can skip a section like that.

What I didn't know what whether I could essentially work a dragon "down." As you can see, it came out just fine.

When I finished this second dragon I thought, "Phew. I've swatched my fingers off. I can figure out my gauge and start the scary math."

Ah-ha! Not so fast.
It occurred to me I had edged all my swatches in garter stitch, as you do.

I was planning to edge the sweater in four rows of seed stitch, just to be difficult.

It occurred to me I should swatch, again, with the seed stitch border to make sure it really will control curling and look alright.

The anti-curling objective seems to have been met. In the looks department it's kind of blah. The very bottom hem blends in with the rev st st of the body, which might be just as well, but is kind of annoying since seed stitch is so much work. However, on the sides, which represent the front opening, it looks just fine.

I'm also using this last swatch as an opportunity to work a shorter version of the main cable to see if I prefer it for the sleeve cuffs. The jury is still out, mainly because I haven't knit enough rows yet.

Color Variation
I don't know how well you can see the color variations among all the swatches.

Brooks Farm Solo is a hand-painted yarn. The general rule of thumb when working with hand-painted yarn is to blend the color variations from skein to skein by alternately working two rows from two different skeins. (i.e., rows 1 & 2 with skein A, rows 3 & 4 with skein B, back to A, etc.)

I wasn't planning to do that because I'm, you know, lazy.

However, seeing the difference in the colors of the various swatches when I had them laid out side by side for the photo shoot was very surprising.

Remember, I bought them all at once and they are supposedly the same dye lot.

But some of them look decidedly pink or washed out red in comparison to the others. After I saw it in the swatch I could even see it in the balls.

Also, I'm continually surprised by the amount of orange. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I think it is popping up in the cables in an interesting manner. And I realize it will be different spread out of the entire width of the cardigan rather than a wee 48 sts swatch. But still, hello orange.

Of course, all these color concerns are much more noticeable in the sun than they are in the living room.

The point is, I'll be alternating skeins.

I have three hanks I haven't balled yet. For some reason the colors seem more noticeable when in ball form. I'm going to try to determine which are pink and which are red and make sure I pair them up as much as possible.

Soon. Soon I will be able to start the real knitting on this cardigan.

Considering Mom just reserved our hotel room for Rhinebeck 2010, I better knit fast!

Monday, June 28, 2010

One Day Bowl

Naturgarn Since you know that nothing is simple with me you will not be surprised that this little bowl that took me around two hours to make has a very long back story.

We had a staff member at the store named Trudy. (Hi, Trudy!) She was not with us for very long when her husband retired and they moved south.

Before she left she gave each of us a little gift of yummy chocolates and one of her favorite books, "Everyday Sacred" by Sue Bender.

It's one of those quiet, meditative books. Not really a self-help book, but still about looking at the world around you and shifting your perspective on what you see.

This was actually my second attempt at reading it. I had started at one point, but guess I wasn't ready for the message. This time I stuck with it and enjoyed it. I might even troop over to the library to find her first book.

What does this have to do with yarn?
The main image and central theme of the book is a bowl and accepting what is placed in that bowl. Which is all explained quickly in the first few pages, so I haven't spoiled anything for you there.

Turns out I'm fairly suggestible, which is something I already knew about myself, because after spending all that time reading about bowls and looking at bowl drawings I had a sudden desire to make a bowl.

Here, fishy fishy
This is not the first time a book has caused me to create something with yarn, and I'm not talking about patterns or stitch dictionaries.

After college I read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One of the characters was obsessed with goldfish and spent a considerable amount of time making little metal ones.

That was a much longer book than Everyday Sacred so it might have been more understandable that after finishing it (or maybe while I was still reading it?) I designed a crocheted goldfish. I still have him. I'll have to take a picture for you. He's adorable.

Back to the BowlCrocheted bowl
Of course, I've seen patterns for felted bowls. And I made those felted wine cozies a few years ago. So I had the concept.

It made sense to make a bowl out of yarn, since it's my medium of choice.

I cast through my mental stash for feltable yarn. I just wanted to whip out a little bowl to satisfy the urge, so I didn't want anything complicated like making a striped bowl from scraps or something. I also didn't want it to be massive or take forever to make.

The single skein of green Naturgarn by Viking of Norway fit the bill. It even says "for knitting and felting" right there on the label.

[Ah-ha. I see on the website it is labeled "new." This is one of the yarns I received for my freelance project. You should check with your LYS, but it might not be in stock in the USA until the fall. I should check on that.]

Pattern Recap
Naturgarn is 100% wool. 50 meter/55 yard skein. At a suggested gauge of 12 sts to 4 inches. The recommended knitting needle is a 8mm/US 11. It has just a wee halo and is what I believe is called "singles" as the structure is just one fluffy, loosely twisted strand. My color, Lime #632.

I was planning to crochet my bowl, since it is faster and more structural than knitting.

Although I'm not a big felter, I understand that working at a looser gauge is desirable. I guess so the water can really get it between the stitches.

My crochet hooks jumped from a 6.5mm/K to big, plastic, mystery ones aren't imprinted with a size.

I went with one of the mystery ones. Perhaps a P. I'm really not sure.

I started the bowl with six single crochet in the starting loop. After working the bottom in single crochet I suddenly got bored and switched to double crochet.

I fiddled around a bit with working a back-post dc to turn the corner, but the sides were curving up naturally, so I ended up ripping that out and just working plain dc.

Felted bowlReally, this bowl took just over 2 hours to crochet. Let's see, we watched an episode of Dr. Who on-demand, two episodes of Jeopardy! off the DVR, and an episode of Justified off the DVR. So, taking out commercials, but I did fold a load of laundry...so call it 2 hours.

How is that for a fast project?

After I finished it I thought it looked a little more open than I anticipated.

This was not an issue because we were all getting together at Pam's house for a knit night, so I dragged it along.

She figured it would be fine with a few runs through the washer. I said I was going to hand felt it. Margaret and Laura both cried, "Are you insane?!" or something to that effect with the point Felted bowl intbeing that's why washing machines were invented.

Machine felting it seemed like a waste of resources to me, since it was just one little bowl, but by the time I got home I had come around.

Two quick trips through the agitation cycle and viola! A bowl.

I stretched it over the bottom of a big canister of Quaker Oatmeal to shape it.

I forgot to measure the dimensions of the pre-felted bowl, but the finished one is about 3.25" tall, 5" across, and 17.5" around.

The light does shine through in places, which I think is a combination of the overly big hook and the double crochet stitch. The bottom, in single crochet, is much less, um, translucent?

Still, I think that adds to the charm of the bowl. I mean, it's not like I'm going to eat soup out of it. Of course, part of my attitude might be in the spirit of Everyday Sacred's message of accepting things as they are.

More bowls! More Bowls!
This bowl was so quick and satisfying that I have a desire to make a second one. This urge can be satisfied because I have a second skein of Naturgarn in color 670, which is a blue/purple multi.

This time I think I'll go with the K hook. Still might stick with the dc though. If I switch to a smaller hook AND a shorter stitch the second bowl might end up too small.

Can't wait to see how the variegate looks felted.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Socking Along

In honor of the first day of Summer of Socks yesterday I focused on the Pink Static Socks during my knitting time.

I don't have an updated picture because, well, you know, I'm lazy.

Being lazy was also a factor in my devotion to the sock. It was in my work bag on the sofa table so I only had to reach over and grab it.

The gobs of supplies I needed to continue my endless swatching for the Celtic Critter Cardigan were tucked away safely in the dining room credenza. Retrieving them would have required me getting up off the couch.

Making an effort. ::shudder::

And so the heel on the first sock has been turned. The gusset has be picked up. It's all down foot from here.

At some point I'm going to have to put aside the CCC and work on these socks so I can get them done.

Who knows, that time might be now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer of Socks 2010!

Angora Bed Sock footAnd with the Summer Solstice comes the return of Summer of Socks!


Aside from the fact that it makes me pant in fear a little because it's one more thing to commit to and I just cast on for a sweater.

But as I said in the official Ravelry group: I intend to have fun if it kills me.

As you might remember from last year, the goal of Summer of Socks is to...knit socks...from June 21 through Sept. 21.

Some people might take the approach of only socks as their project during this time period. I, of course, generally have a pair of socks on the go, so I approach it as an additional focus on socks.

However, I've recently finally realized that I'm at my knitting best when I practice project monogamy, so we'll see how it goes. (Knitting best being finishing projects and not being stressed about projects. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing!) Oh, sure, I talk big about setting up rotations, but I always end up fixating.

Low Stress, again
This years SoS is planned to be even more low stress than last year. This year there are no prizes. Not that it bothers me since I never won any prizes anyway.

An unofficial official Wedding theme has popped up since the organizer is getting married soon. People are focusing on the "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" rhyme.

This totally works for me.

I have the Pink Static Socks already on the needles, and three pairs hibernating. The Angora Bed Socks of Power and Fortune!, the Peacock Socks (remember those), and my own Cubes and Cables Anklets.


Yeah, I knit the first sock as I designed the pattern, then it was at Knitting Central as a store sample for months and months, and I kind of never got around to knitting the second one.

I believe this is the only documented case of Second Sock Syndrome in my history of knitting socks.

My "something blue" would be the lovely yarn Danni gave me for Christmas. Ice Blue Sock yarn

My "something new" could be any of the sock yarns I have in stash that I haven't used yet. I suppose they might be shading into "something old" at this point, but if I haven't used the brand before that counts. OR knitting with something from my stash would be a new behavior. HA!

"Something borrowed" has me stumped. People are posting about borrowing a book from a friend or the library, so that might be the path of least resistance.

However, my best bet will probably be to focus on the four pairs I've already started.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Celtic Critter Cardigan: Swatch!

Celtic Critter Cardigan swatch For all my whining about not having time to knit lately I sure am starting projects like a fiend.

But, again, I have a perfectly legitimate excuse.

Shirley Paden was teaching her design class at Westport Yarns last night.

Now, we all just lived through me designing the Schleppy Sweater and the Bias Striped V-Neck so you might wonder that I would be interested in taking a design class. Well, I'm no fool.

Actually, I think it's been well established that I am a fool, but I'm a clever fool who knows her limitations.

I figured there would be tips and explanations and easier ways to do things.

You know what I've learned so far?

The scary math is still scary.

That was a bit of a relief. It wasn't just me. One of our teachers who has designed plenty of lovely patterns was sitting next to me and we were both like, "Wow, the math still sucks."

Granted, Shirely did it much quicker than I've been doing it, which gives me hope that it will get easier as I go along, but the steps are still the same.

She discussed the steps we should take as we approach our design. Really thinking about and writing down what we want the sweater to look like and the qualities it should have. She said these steps are our foundation and we shouldn't skimp on them. Also, we should make ourselves very familiar with our pattern stitch since it is the fabric of our garment.

Then we paired up and took all our measurements. She had a nice chart for us to follow and clarified some of the tricky bits.

Then she did all the scary math with a sample sweater and made up numbers.

I was very surprised I didn't dream about gauge last night.

We didn't touch the swatches.

I got an e-mail last week saying we should have a sketch and swatches done to bring to class.

Turns out she usually does this class as one marathon six hour day (with a break for lunch). However, ours was broken up into two three-hour sessions. Aaah. The swatches and that part of the process will come into play during the next session. I never got the second e-mail pointing it out.

No matter, I was going to have to swatch eventually.

Celtic Critter Cardigan: The Vision
This is a sweater I've been thinking of since before Rhinebeck. I can pin it to that time frame because I went to Rhinebeck with the mission of buying the Brooks Farm Solo to make this sweater.

It's a chicken/egg situation. After making my cropped poncho I wanted to make a sweater out of the Solo, so I started dreaming one up.

I've mentioned in the past that I'm slightly obsessed with Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold. Well, all the cables are being pulled from that book.

Toward the end of the book she has a section on the intertwined animals and directions for making the dragon heads. I knew I had to use them on something.

My idea is to have a big, braided cable go around the bottom hem, continue up the front opening, and around the hood opening.

To make the dragon heads you don't close off some of the cables, you continue them for a little neck, then make the head. I haven't decided how many little critter heads I'll have along the hem. I suppose it depends on how many pattern repeats I'll have.

Then I'll have a smaller version of the cable along the sleeve cuff. The center will continue up the arm and end in critter head near my elbow. I'd like to have a cable that starts with critter heads on the other side of the elbow, goes up the upper arm, and ends at the shoulder.

But I have to figure out if I can work the critter head upside down. You know how you loose have a stitch when you flip knitting. I don't know how much that will effect it. Which is what swatching is for.

I'd also like to have the cables on the hood extend into dragon heads, but at that point it will be the side of the cable. No points for the dragons to grow from. I'll have to think on that.

Then I was thinking a "happiness symbol" cable on the back. She also calls it the St. John's cross. It's neat and would break up the expanse of plain knitting. Of course, I could make critters come off that as well.

I should have been writing these ideas down as I came up with them. I know I've changed and tweaked things. When I finally sat down to start swatching I seemed all the ideas flew out of my head and I was like "What was I going to do on the sleeves?"

It didn't help that I have other pattern ideas floating around up there and things were getting kind of jumbled.

Everyone who saw my swatch last night thought it was very cool.

More measuring
After I got home last night, which was at like 10 pm! I was looking at the class materials and considering ease for the sweater.

All the measurements we took were actual body measurments, so I had to tack on ease.

I'd been figuring 4 inches, which lands it in the "roomy" category, because I want it to be an outdoor cardigan. One I can wear over other shirts and such when the weather gets cooler.

I ended up measuring a short leather jacket that I have. I like the fit and length of it and think it would be good dimensions for the cardigan.

It's a good thing I did because that jacket is 23 inches long and the length I had written down on my chart was only 19. Also, we didn't measure the "bottom of garment" point consistently, so my armhole to bottom of garment measurement was all out of whack. I wrote down all new measurements based on the jacket dimensions.

Now all I have to do is the scary math.

I think I swatch some more first.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Swift and a ball winder, too!

Yes, I splurged a little over the weekend.

But it's totally justified.

See, I've survived all these years without a swift and ball winder combo because I could just use the ones at the store. I would either wind the yarn when I bought it, or bring it with me when I worked.

This was a good system. It also allowed me to spend money on yarn rather than these tools. Of course, I had to wait until the weekend to wind or make a special stop on my way home from my day job, but it worked.

However, I recently required a metric ton of yarn from a freelance client that I'm going to start swatching and talking about. Much of it is in hanks that need to be wound before I can use it.

Now suddenly I need to be able to wind any time of the day or night. Doing it all by hand would just kill me. Shoot, I recently wound a skein of sock yarn by hand, it took a good half hour or longer.

Granted, winding by hand is a bit of a work out (if you squint. Work with me here. I brace the yarn over my feet so I have to lean forward and back to wind. And then you get the arm work out. Come on, if fidgeting burns calories winding yarn by hand totally has to.) and I'll be missing out on that, but time is of the essence.

Of course the first yarn I wound wasn't client yarn.

No, it was a skein of the Brooks Farm Solo I bought at Rhinebeck.

But it was totally justified.

Remember how Shirley Paden was the guest speaker at the grand opening for Westport Yarns?

And she was signing her new design book? And I got a copy?

Well, tomorrow she'll be back at the store for another book signing from 5pm to 6 pm. Then at 6pm she'll be teaching part one of her sweater design class.

And I'm going to sit in on it. The homework was to have a sketch and swatch of your potential sweater. I don't have a sketch, but I've been swatching my fingers off.

Yes, yes, I successfully executed the Schleppy Sweater. And the Bias Striped V-Neck looks good on paper.

But I'm sure she'll be sharing all kinds of tips that will make life easier going forward. And I'll have an even deeper understanding because I've been through it once (twice?). I'll totally know what she's talking about.

This sweater is going to be a cardigan with Celtic cables and a hood. I've apparently never mentioned it on the blog before and don't have any off-line notes about it. However, I've been thinking about it for quite a while now, so I'm sure the execution will be fine.

Puppy Response
That is Samson checking out my new toys in the picture.

As you might imagine Baru was frightened by them. I swear that dog gets more timid the older he gets.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pink Static Sock


I'm alive, barely.

And I've been knitting, barely.

Currently I'm on a business trip in Las Vegas. Yes, I know I don't usually admit to the jaunts until I'm back safe at home, but as I haven't been blogging lately all bets are off.

Besides, I've been tweeting like a maniac on two different IDs the entire time I've been out here, so I think the internet knows I'm not at home.


Last weekend I finished those blue striped socks I was working on. I didn't take a picture at the time and I can't take one now since I did not bring finished socks that I'm not planning to wear on my trip. That would have been silly.

I turned around and started these pink socks as soon as the US1 needles were freed. After all, I needed a project for the trip and everything else in progress was not travel friendly because of the size.

Well, aside from the Angora Bedsocks of Power and Fortune! Not that I've worked on them in months and months. Good things I took fairly reasonable notes on how I worked the toe. Considering I still haven't finished the first sock who knows when I'll finish the second sock.


These pink socks are creeping along. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Sockotta Limited in color 9844. And it's, well, cotton sock yarn. It's neither here nor there to knit with. Does that sound mean? I like the way the stripes come up. It's not a stiff as a 100% cotton is. The content is 40% superwash wool, 45% cotton, and 15% nylon. It does make a nice fabric knit up. I haven't found it splitty at all.

I cast on, um, Sunday, and worked a few rows. Then I was able to knit on the flight out here Monday. Between naps. I didn't have a direct flight so I took a damn long time to get out here.

But I haven't had another chance to knit until this evening. And what am I doing instead? Blogging. Seriously, what's wrong with me?

They've kept me hopping on this trip so I just haven't had time in the evenings to knit. I've just been coming back to my room and flopping.

Actually in about an hour or so I'll be trooping back downstairs to meet my coworkers. The company got some tickets to the Love show here at the Mirage. I guess as a reward for our hardwork. Hope I can stay awake for it!

In any event, the sock will get some attention on the trip home tomorrow.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, didn't have a single problem going through security. Ok, I packed my scissors in my checked bag even though they are suppposed to be permitted now. Still, security didn't bat an eye at my wee double points. Although I heard a woman in the waiting area on the way out saying her crochet hook was flagged. I don't know if she was talking about that day or not. That was interesting. Guess it's an argument for bamboo crochet hooks.

Ok, I think I've gone on long enough. Time to pay attention to the poor sock now.