Knitting Hubris

Oh, I was being cocky.  The back of Audrey went so well.  I started the cast-on, went right on to the cast-off at the neck without ripping once.  I did those increase and decrease darts without a hitch.  Hah, I said.  The rest of this one will be easy, I said.  I can have it done in a week, so when the weather is no longer 97 freaking degrees outside, I can wear it.

I have ripped the front of this sucker more than once.  I am not going to put it into writing how many places I have had to go back.  First the decreases looked like crap.  Then it was those increase darts.  I got to the armhole shaping and thought, well I have this one whipped; I had no trouble with this on the other half.

Somehow I got off a stitch on the shaping.  It wasn’t looking right, but I thought, you know, it took a few rows on the back before it all started to look right.  So I forged ahead, knitting more rows.  I looked at it last night, counted, counted again.  Then I said a lot of really bad words that would probably get me “googled” from some  decidedly juicy non-knitting sites if I repeated them here.  And ripped.  I am partway into the armhole shaping section and so far so good.  But I’m not saying nothin’ from now on till this front piece is done.

The good thing is that this yarn is just wonderful to knit with.  I’ve said that before, haven’t I?  Why can’t yarn that costs only $3 a ball be this soft??

No pictures today, I’m not tempting fate.

Ikea, The New Knitting Store

I made my first foray out to the local Ikea store over the weekend.  What an adventure!  That place is just amazing;  I won’t even go into the Swedish meatballs in their cafe.  I made one knitting-related purchase.  For some time now, my stash has over-run the storage containers I have.  Mostly these are a variety of Rubbermaid-style boxes in different sizes and shapes.  Then there were the shipping boxes from several months of online shopping.

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Those are the empty boxes that I finally threw out after I bought these cuties at Ikea:

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Aren’t those just adorable?  They have lids, they stack, and you can buy casters for the bottom one so you can roll the whole thing around.  Please note the other storage thingie off to the side, full of yarn also; and the yarn in a bag sitting on the top.  That’s the Beaverslide yarn intended eventually for Rogue.

And here is a shot of another storage solution I found at Target some time back:

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And a wicker basket full of a variety of things:

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There is just no way I am crawling under the bed to take a picture of the three plastic storage boxes in hiding there.  I call that the Yarn Protection Program.

As you can see, I am well-prepared for when the Big Earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest.  I can pack all this into the car with a couple of gallons of water, and head for high ground.  The yarn shops could be closed for years, and I wouldn’t run out of knitting projects.  Well, OK, I would need an RV to pack all of this anywhere; it’s really sort of a rhetorical discussion.

I am still working on the front of Audrey; I’m into the armhole shaping.  Work is getting in the way of knitting this week.  I have a man cooking my dinner tonight so will get a little knitting done while the pork roast is cooking on the barbecue spit.  Now, what kind of wine goes with barbecued pork roast??
(That’s actually also a rhetorical question; the answer is “whatever bottle you have handy”.)

Half Finished

I’m not talking about the Audrey sweater.  I’ve finished a sock, and started the second of the pair.  The yarn is Sheep’s Gift, from Joslyn’s Fiber Farm, in the color Montego Bay.  Here are a couple pictures before I finished the toes:

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And after:

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Yes, I have big feet.  It takes more than the average amount of yarn to make socks for size 10 1/2 feet.

This is the Blueberry Waffle pattern; I’ve been working on these a while in between other projects.  Socks make a great portable knitting project.

I’m just to the end of the increases on the front of the Audrey sweater.  For some reason, I had to redo one section of the increases twice.  I was more than a little cranky over this.  I did the “make one” increase wrong twice in exactly the same place after tinking back, leaving a big honking hole.  I’m sure this was intended to make me humble as a knitter.  No picture, as it still looks just like the back piece.  I thought I would spare you pictures of the holes.

I will leave you with these pictures.  I have never in my life put bumper stickers on my car before this election year.  I will make an exception for this year.

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You can buy these here.

This and That

I think I need a doctor.  I’ve been in three yarn shops in the past few weeks, all with lovely stuff, and have bought NO yarn.  I bought a set of double point needles in one shop to finish the blue sweater, and that’s it.  What’s with that?  Buying something for a specific project, and nothing else??  Of course, it might have something to do with the embarrassing stash I already own.  I have so much yarn I almost need to hire a full-time Stash Manager to deal with it.  If you add in the knitting tools, books, and patterns, it really could be a full-time job.

So in an effort to get rehabilitated quickly, I went to Elann and bought enough Schachenmayr Aurora in Claret to make a sweater.  It might turn into a Sitcom Chic type of sweater.  I’ll have to swatch it up to see what it wants to be.

I did finally break down and buy a steamer.  It’s a Rowenta hand-held steamer; the kind you use to steam wrinkles out of your business suit.  This could make blocking almost fun!

On the knitting front, I am up to the increase section on the second piece for the Audrey sweater.  It looks just like the first piece, so no pictures.  This is just such nice yarn that I might have to get some more for another sweater.

We had a Bastille Day celebration at our house last night.  The neighbors came over, we listened to a lot of French music, and drank a lot of French wine.  The menu was as follows:

Gougeres

Cucumber Mint Salad

Roast Chicken

Steamed Green Beans with Fresh Marjoram

Potato Galettes

French Bread

Cheese course, with several lovely French and non-French cheeses

Strawberry Tart

One of my French cookbooks points out that although three courses technically makes it a Menu, no self-respecting French chef would serve only three courses, especially to company.  So we had five courses.  I got absolutely no knitting done yesterday, but we have some great leftovers!

Ferry Knitting

We took a little trip to Seattle this weekend.  Instead of driving up I-5 hell, we drove across the bridge to Gig Harbor and took the Bremerton ferry across the Sound.  This gave me a couple extra knitting hours.  I have a little trouble knitting in the car due to motion sickness, but the ferry is great.  I love living in a place where part of the public transportation system involves boats and water.

Here I am waiting in the car line to get on the ferry:

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And on the ferry:

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And the return trip:

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I finished the back of Audrey this weekend.  Here is Willie’s opinion:

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I really love the shaping on this pattern:

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I am just not convinced that this is going to fit.  It seems like everyone on line says the same thing, so I am going to knit on and hope for the best.  It just looks so….skinny.  We’ll see.

Ice Blue, Finished!

Here it is:

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There is another picture of the finished sweater, and the specifications here.

I had to do the cast-off on the turtleneck twice.  I finished this thing at 2AM last night (don’t ask), and when I tried it on, it barely went over my head.  I had done just a plain pullover knit cast-off.  I went to bed with my June Hiatt knitting bible, and read about sewn cast-off methods.  This morning I ripped out the edge and re-did it, and it turned out perfectly.

The sewn cast-off is pretty easy.  I took a couple of pictures, and although they are a bit fuzzy, here they are:

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The first step is to put your needle through the second stitch on the left needle as if to knit; pull the yarn through.

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Then put your needle through the first stitch on the needle as if to purl, then drop that stitch off the needle.  Fiddle with it a bit to make sure it’s not too tight or too loose, and repeat these steps.  With the last stitch, go  through it as if to knit, then fidget around and find a place to hide your yarn end so it looks right.  June’s instructions run to two pages, and are much more detailed, but this is the basic idea.

I’m most proud of the way that the cable drifted into the ribbed collar.  The two cable branches continue right up into the columns of ribbing. This was totally accidental, but if I had not done this, I would have ripped and done it over this way.

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I’m getting rid of my On The Needles page.  It’s too much stuff for me to keep track of.  I’ve decided for now to have 2 pages, the main blog page, and the finished project page.  At some point I will set up a list in the sidebar for things I’m working on.

Ice Blue Sweater

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Pattern: Schoeller Stahl Winter 2002/2003

Yarn: Schoeller Stahl Sunshine, color 09 (catchy name, eh?)
88% wool, 12% polyamid

Modifications: I changed the cable down the front so it was a cross-over cable, with a purl row on each side.

Started: April 2004
Finished: July 2004

What I learned from this project:

I learned how to drop a stitch down many rows and knit it back up with a crochet hook, rather than ripping out those many rows.
I learned how to do raglan shaping, somewhat painfully.
I learned that I can change a pattern feature to suit the way I want it to look.
I learned how to do a sewn cast-off to allow for a stretchy neck so it will go over my head. I learned this on my SECOND attempt at casting off the neckline.

Bad-Ass Knitter

There is a new button on the sidebar.  Check out Wendy’s Bad-Ass Knitter Manifesto here.

And my Bad-Ass Knitter award for today goes to Norma.

Rule 11.

Never keep knitting something you hate.

Four Easy Pieces:

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I see seaming in my future.  Actually, near-future; this is on the agenda for today.  I think I need a good movie to watch.

Audrey; Reunion

I am back from North Dakota!  The family reunion was fun.  I was raised in a little farm town of about 800 people, and we had the reunion there so it would be easier for the oldest member of the clan to be there.  My mother had 8 siblings; her father had 7 siblings, so it potentially could have been a huge gathering.  It started out as a reunion of my grandfather’s descendants, but expanded when we were contacted by one of his siblings’ grandchildren; our second cousins twice removed, or something like that.  I had met one of them as a kid, but otherwise none of us had ever met before.  So it was a great experience to get to know some relatives that we didn’t know, and a way to re-connect with the cousins that we haven’t seen in years.  As the older members of the family are passing on, there was more of a sense of urgency to talk to the remaining elders to preserve memories.  There is an old family feud from the previous generation that rather stupidly has passed down to my generation, so one branch of the cousins decided not to show up.  We laughed and ate, took a lot of pictures, and just in general had a great time.  We made a pilgrimage out to the original family farm that my grandfather homesteaded in the early 1900’s.  The original farmhouse is long gone, but the house that I grew up in is still there, though it hasn’t been occupied in years.

Here is my old home:

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It was truly sort of weird to be there.  The house was open so we walked through it.  It is still actually in good shape other than a lot of cosmetic things that would need to be done.  I don’t think I have the fortitude to live in a North Dakota farmhouse in the winter though!

Here is what main street looks like.  Note the pickup drivers stopping to visit:

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We had a couple of meals in the local cafe.  This is the sort of place where you are in your seat for dinner promptly at 12 noon; not 12:05, but noon.  “Supper” is in the evening, and “lunch” is that meal you eat between dinner and supper, or maybe between breakfast and dinner if someone stops over at 10 AM.  The whistle blows exactly at noon and 6PM so you know it’s time to eat, and again at 9 PM so you know it’s time you got your butt home if you’re a kid.

Here’s the day’s menu from the cafe:

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On to knitting news.  I got a bit of knitting done while there.  I worked on the Rowan Audrey sweater, and am about two thirds done with the first piece (front? back?).  Initially I didn’t like the shaping but it is growing on me.  I think the darts really help draw the eye in the direction it is supposed to go to make it look shapely.  I don’t think I would have figured them out on the first try without this from Norma.  The directions in the pattern for the increases/decreases leave a little to be desired.

I don’t have good pictures.  I tried to get pictures tonight but the light is just not right, and they just suck.  So rather than showing pictures that suck, I will try again.  Actually I am going to block the pieces to that blue sweater this weekend and seam them together.  My goal is to finish this next week; I still have to knit the turtleneck collar after the seaming is done.

Yee-Haa!

I finished knitting the pieces to the ice blue sweater. Or, rather, reknitting them. This time the decreases turned out pretty nicely.  Not perfect, but good enough.   Now I just have to block them, sew them together, and knit the turtleneck collar on.

My timing is a bit off for finishing this project.  I leave town tomorrow for several days for a family reunion in North Dakota.  (This is why there are no pictures of the finished pieces; the camera is already packed.)  Blocking and seaming on the road just doesn’t sound like it will happen.  So I guess it will have to wait till I get home.

And you all know what that means.

A new project!!

I dithered quite a bit about what I will knit next.  God knows I have enough yarn to choose from.  I think it will be the Audrey sweater, from the Rowan # 35 magazine.  I have the yarn and the pattern already, so I think this one will go in the carry-on to start swatching on the airplane.

This will be our first real family reunion.  My mother had seven siblings; there are three surviving, and a multitude of cousins from my generation.  We are meeting in the little town where my grandfather homesteaded, and are planning a whole long weekend of fun activities.

I’ll be back in a week!

That Damned Ice Blue Sweater

I can explain. I really do think I will like this sweater once it is done.  I could have titled this post “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.  It’s the decreases this time that are giving me fits.  Normally I do increases and decreases reasonably neatly.  This pattern does a slip-knit-pass-stitch-over type of decrease for one side of the garment piece.  They just look sloppy in this bulky shiny yarn.  The real b***h of it is that I didn’t decide this until I got to the sleeve cap on the first sleeve.  After I had finished the front and back pieces and put those stitches on holders.  I re-did the sleeve and like it much better, and then looked at the finished front and back pieces, and my gut just says I need to rip those back to where the decreases start and re-do them.

Here are a few pictures.

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I don’t have “before” pictures of the sleeves, and I am not taking close ups of the big pieces to show the sloppiness.  I’ll just say that I am not pleased.  It doesn’t help that this is a long sleeved wool turtleneck sweater, and it has been in the high 80’s here.  I want to be knitting a snappy little cotton tank.  I know if I set this aside that I will forget what the hell I have changed when it’s time to pick it up again.

Just for some fun, try the Essay Generator.

Here is what I got when I put today’s blog title in:

Download Essay.html

Gadgets

Here are a few of my favorite knitting gadgets.  I have a whole room full of the usual knitting stuff; some of my “indispensable” gadgets are the usual ones you would find in a knitting store.  Others are not so usual.

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This is my current knitting project notebook.  I have separate tabbed sections for each project, with a copy of the pattern, and loose leaf paper to take notes.  I keep a ball band from each project in the pocket in the front, and I have a zippered canvas pocket that fits into the binder to keep a pencil or anything else that I need to carry around.  I’ve looked at some of the ready-made knitting journals that are available, but this is just more functional for me.

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This is my favorite row counter.  It’s a “clicker counter” from the office supply store.  I have 4 or 5 of these, so I have them in every project bag.  They are cheap, and count up to 9999, in case you have a project with that many rows.

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Pins.  I have lots of these.  My favorites are the no-coil safety pins, though I like the plastic ones also.

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String tags are a great way to keep track of what you are doing.  If I want to mark something on my knitting that I did differently from the pattern, I’ll write it on one of these and pin it right to the spot.  From the office supply store, and cheap.

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I made these.  They are probably not as practical as just plain ring markers, but they sure are pretty.

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These are the more garden-variety kind of markers.  My favorites, hands down, are the flexible rubber ones.

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And a box in which to keep everything.  This is from the hardware store…another great place to find knitting notions.

John’s Sweater

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Yarn: Classic Elite Provence, in mariner blue and ivory shades. The pattern called for the blue stripes to be 2 different shades of blue, I just used one. The yarn is 100% mercerized cotton; very nice to knit with.

Pattern: Seaside Stripes, from the book A Close Knit Family, by Melissa Leapman.

Started: I think I started this in about 1999, when I first started knitting.

Finished: June 12, 2004

For: My husband, John (the model)