Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pet Peeve #143

I've gotten pretty good at ordering yarn online. My initial attempts resulted in some pretty peculiar purchases, like 40 large balls of coarse, magenta-colored thick-and-thin wool, 20 balls of really ugly orange and purple viscose, and a whole lot of some rather frightening bulky weight green acrylic that I deny ordering to this very day. And when I entered the world of hand-dyes, it took a couple of disasters before I realized that colors that look wonderful on the skein may look nauseatingly like a bad tv test pattern when wound into a ball. But I take full responsibility for these learning experiences. One must learn to read descriptions with care, estimate yardage needs accurately, be realistic about one's knitting habits, and curb the frenetic buying impulse sparked by the words "discontinued" and "sale." The occasional stubbed toe is inevitable.

But I do not take responsibility for what I have come to think of as "Pet Peeve #143": online yarn sellers who post pictures of yarn that bears no resemblance to the actual yarn that will be arriving in your mailbox.

Case in point:

I ordered some lovely silk for a summer top based on this photo:

It looks like red, purple, and green, with some pretty gold, right?

This is what arrived today:

The picture does not do justice to the true neon brilliance of the warning-sign yellow. The red, purple, and green? It's there. See that little stripe on the left side? That's it. Now, I have nothing against yellow. It makes for lovely flowers and attention-grabbing "Yield" signs. It does not, however, work well with my bright red hair and freckled skin. I would never knowingly have ordered this particular shade of yellow for a garment for myself--or, to be honest, for anyone.

And now I'm faced with a Hobson's choice: I can either box it all up, get a return authorization, find the right address, make a label, take it to the post office, wait in line, pay for postage, insurance, and a return receipt, and wait a month (or two or three) for the charge (minus shipping both ways, of course) to be reversed to my credit card--or I can suck it up and put the yarn in the stash for that day when I am finally ready to knit really expensive summer tops for a whole swarm of honeybees.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Letdown

I just got my copy of the latest Vogue Knitting. I was really looking forward to it, because it's the big 25th anniversary issue, and has been pretty hyped as the greatest issue ever. And maybe from a fashion perspective it is. But from a looking-for-great-patterns-to-knit perspective, it was a real letdown for me.

I'm not a fashion maven. The ubiquitous yoga pants and t-shirt ensemble that I wear most days would be a pretty big tip-off, if you could see me. Since you can't, let me just say that my primary consideration in choosing clothing is comfort. I do require that my clothing also fit well and be flattering in cut and color, but beyond that, I'm just not into fashion. I refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes or anything that needs dry-cleaning. I knit because I love it. The final product is just gravy. But if I'm going to spend the money and time to make a hand-knit garment, I also want to be able to wear it. So it must be comfortable and flattering in fit and color.

The patterns in the new issue of Vogue are certainly interesting. There is a sort of retrospective of popular designs over the last 25 years, "updated" for modern-day knitters. I don't know. Personally, I can't see ever wearing the massive poufy sweater on page 134 that looks like a knitted equivalent of those stupid, hugely baggy pants the suspects on "Cops" are always tripping over while trying to run away. Or the "timeless ski sweater" on page 138, that you couldn't possibly ski in. Or the mind-bendingly wild "Diamond Sweater" on page 143 that is easily big enough to use as a sleeping bag for two. They're all interesting, in the same way runway fashions are interesting--as a novelty, but not as clothing. I would never, ever spend time or money actually knitting any of them.

There are some good articles and interesting interviews in this issue. It makes for a decent read. But that's not really why I buy knitting magazines. I have enough--more than enough--reading material in my life. I buy knitting magazines for the patterns and for design inspiration. This one left me completely uninspired. I guess I'll have to wait for the new Interweave Knits.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Backing Away From the Edge

Okay. Sanity is slowly reasserting itself. I have now spent roughly 18 hours online, searching google-yahoo-ask for information about clothes (wool) moths. The good news is, my moths do not appear to be either of the two common types of wool-eating moths. Both of them are pale yellow or cream colored.


Mine are dark grey, with lighter grey bars on the wings. (Ask me how close I had to get to a quarter-inch-long moth to figure that out. Reading glasses and alcohol were required.) The bad news is, they're probably just some uncommon form of clothes moth that produces ten million wool-eating larvae every day and grows to be the size of a crow and pecks your eyes out while you're sleeping. Sorry. I'm not good with bugs, especially bugs in my house!

I'm itching all over. Seriously. I can't stop scratching, rubbing, and wiggling in place. Is it possible to die from being grossed out beyond your tolerance? The moths continue to appear at regular intervals on the ceiling of my son's room, and all efforts to locate the source have failed, although I am certain it is somewhere in the closet. Most of the contents of his closet are piled in the backyard, where they will stay until I screw up the courage to sort through them and confirm that they are moth-and-larvae-free. I continue to make hourly raids on his room, vacuum cleaner in hand. I am hoping, probably unreasonably, that if I keep vacuuming the new hatchlings as soon as they appear, they won't have time to reproduce and I will eventually get rid of them all. I know this is not a good plan, but until the exterminator can get here, it's all I've got. If you have a better idea, please feel free to share it.

I am a little stressed out about this. When I am stressed, I knit. (Actually, I always knit. When I am stressed, I knit faster.) This is the result:

Grecian Plaits is almost done. I just have a few more inches to do. I still need to redo the grafting on the yoke, which I will take care of as soon as the knitting is done. Which, if the moths continue to appear, will be tonight.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Moths! Moths!

There are MOTHS in my house! Not the kind you find in the pantry when you forget about that pound of old chocolate that got buried behind the cereal boxes (which we had a few months ago). Real, scary, ugly little black closet moths! Wool moths!

Picture this scene: My 10-year-old son is in his room. He yells, "Hey, Mom, there are moths in my room!" I figure, okay, a moth got in through the open front window. I go in to remove it.

"Where?" I ask calmly.

"On the ceiling. And there are these little wormy things on the wall."

Little wormy things?! I look up. There are maybe 20 little black moths hanging upside down from his ceiling, like tiny bats. And, much more alarming, there are little yellowish larvae crawling on the walls! Larvae! You know, wool-eaters?

As horrified as I am by this repulsive turn of events, I still have the presence of mind to appreciate the true magnitude of the disaster. My yarn stash is ten feet from my son's door. Still looking up at this little preview of hell, I reach out and slam the door shut. I'm sure moths (and larvae, too, considering the rate at which the little monsters were inching across the walls) can get past closed doors. But I see no need to make it easier for them.

"Honey?" I yell. "Get the vacuum cleaner!"

Ten minutes later, I have removed all posters, bedding, and pets and vacuumed the entire room--walls, ceiling, floor, furniture. Twenty minutes later, hubby has returned from Home Depot with a bug bomb, which we promptly detonate. Four hours later, the room is airing out, and my son is sleeping in his brother's room. The next day...we have moths. Aaargh!

More things are removed from the room. More vacuuming is performed. Another bug bomb is detonated. The stash (mostly sealed in plastic bags, thank god) has been inspected and double bagged. Four hours later, the room is aired again and re-vacuumed. And the next day? We have moths!

My son has permanently abandoned his room, which has been declared a bio-hazard zone. The door is sealed. I make hourly moth-and-larvae checks and vacuum up any offenders. What else can I do? What? What?

If anyone has any suggestions, you'll find me quietly sobbing in the stash closet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Win

All right, all right.

I'll redo the grafting. I don't want to. (Picture my lower lip sticking out.) But I will. As soon as I'm done knitting the rest of the sweater. Special thanks to Haley and Melissa for directions on grafting garter stitch. I think I get it. If I can untangle my hopeless cast on row, I should be able to fix it. The rest of the sweater is coming along nicely.

I do love that Cotton Fleece. It's such a delight to work with: smooth and soft, with a lovely hand and great stitch definition. And it's really comfortable to wear, especially against the skin. And the yardage is terrific. Almost makes me want to give up my alpaca fetish. Not quite, but almost.

And now a question (or plea, to be more accurate). I know a lot of knitters are also spinners. I read your blogs and drool over your handspun. I've been wanting to learn to spin for a while now, and I've come to the conclusion that it is inevitable. I've made many inquiries but I cannot find anyone locally who can teach me to spin, and no local place where I can try out different spinning wheels (which I'm told is important in choosing a wheel of your own).

So my question--questions--are these:

How did you learn to spin?

What type of wheel(s) do you use, and what do you like/dislike about it/them?

Do you have any advice for someone who's never tried spinning and will have to go it alone, either about choosing a wheel or learning to spin?

I can tell you that, based on my reading and research (and some simply arbitrary decision-making), I am leaning toward an Ashford Traveller (double-treadle, single drive). I'd appreciate any information you'd care to share (especially of the "No, don't touch the fragistat or the chisinflop will explode!" variety), since I'm sort of wallowing in the dark, here. You can leave your advice in comments, or email me (suzanne@vetalaw.com). Thanks, all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Provisional Cast On Recap

So, remember how I did that new provisional cast on for Grecian Plaits? The one I tried six times before I got it right? I should have done it seven times. I finished the yoke last night and carefully untied the knot to pull out the waste yarn, and all hell broke loose. I tried to pick up the stitches one at a time, but got hopelessly tangled. As nearly as I can tell, I did something wrong in the cast on. (Gee, really? How did you come to that brilliant conclusion? Could it be the wadded mess that was your cast on row?)

Then I thought I'd just pull out all the waste yarn and pick up the hanging stitches. (This is the point in a scary movie where you'd scream "No! Go back!" at the screen.) This was an even worse idea than it sounds, because the very first row after the cast on is cabled, which means the cast on stitches were all twisted up. I struggled with this mess for over an hour, quietly swearing and taking deep breaths, while the stitches slowly unraveled from the cast on row up, until I was finally forced to admit defeat. I eventually just picked up stitches wherever I could until I had the right number and everything seemed to be secured. I then grafted the ends of the yoke together. Here's the result:

I'm not pleased. Some of this is clearly my fault (see above). But some of it is not. The cables don't seem to match up, even though I did the proper number of rows, and I don't at all like the grafting in the garter stitch section. I am guessing there must be a technique for grafting garter stitch, which I obviously don't know. I think I'd have been better off just casting on normally and sewing the ends together. I considered taking out the grafting and redoing it, but I'm afraid I'd never be able to find the picked up stitches again. The seam will be on top of my left shoulder. Since I am quite tall, I am guessing no one will ever see it, unless they're sitting in a tree while I stand underneath. What do you think: is it worth trying to do over, or should I just file it under "hand-made charm" and pretend it doesn't matter?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wild Mohair Sighted in San Diego

I can always tell when fall is on its way by the return of cool weather fibers. When the wool, alpaca, and mohair start appearing on my doorstep, I know summer is almost over.

Case in point:

This was waiting for me when I got home from Jamaica. Six balls of the softest, coffee brown mohair I've ever felt. It's just begging to be made into a fuzzy shawl.

And then, I got an email from Ram Wools, telling me that the hand-painted BFL I ordered is on its way. I don't entirely remember placing such an order, but hey, who am I to argue with serendipity?

And a huge box of bulky weight alpaca (enough for four sweaters) has also made its appearance. I do remember placing that order, but I'm still not sure what I was thinking when I ordered so much. Two of the lots are even the same color. Different texture, though. The fact that it never actually gets cold enough in San Diego for bulky weight alpaca evidently did not figure into my calculations.

In the meantime, I am still working on my last summer sweater for the year. I am a bit behind, because I did not do any knitting while on vacation! Can you imagine such a thing? I did knit a little on the plane, but only enough to make it this far:

That's most of the yoke for Grecian Plaits. It's supposed to be 46 inches long. I'm at about 40 inches. Once the length is right, I will graft the ends together to make a loop, then pick up and knit downward in the round. I love this design for many reasons, not the least of which is that, apart from the short grafted seam that closes the yoke, there are no seams and no finishing. You will notice that the entire yoke is cabled. I cannot even begin to tell you how much faster and easier cabling is if you learn to do it without a cable needle. If you haven't tried it, I beg you to go check out Grumperina's tutorial. It only takes a couple of minutes to learn and saves hours of time over the course of a sweater.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to catch up on some blog reading.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back in the Saddle

I'm back! Thank you for all your well-wishes. The vacation was wonderful, thanks for asking. There were the usual glitches. Every year before we go on vacation, some minor disaster strikes. Two years ago, the dog's eye popped out the morning of the day we were leaving, and I spent most of the day at the emergency vet with her, waiting our turn while another dog who had eaten a pound of rat poison slowly died in the treatment room, despite the best efforts of the staff to save it. Last year, the washer died the day before we were to leave--full of wet, dirty clothes, with twelve loads waiting to go in so that I could pack for everyone. And this year, my husband's car finally gave up the ghost the day we left--while he was out running errands so that we could go. It's kind of a tradition, so I don't really mind. I figure, if we suffer some minor crisis before we leave, it sort of relieves the pressure so that we don't have to suffer some major crisis while on vacation. Like the valve on a pressure cooker.

On our flight out, we flew through four hours of storms (read: turbulence), followed by a three-hour layover at dawn in Charlotte, and another three hour flight, then an hour bus ride on a one-lane dirt road with two-way traffic. It was...exciting. Oh, and the water bottle in my carry-on leaked...all over my knitting. And my two knitting magazines. And my book. I'll tell you what, though: Cotton Fleece is really good for soaking up water. The book didn't fare so well. And the magazines are a total loss.

On our flight home, we went through security twice in Jamaica. Funny, I still didn't feel all that secure. Then we arrived in Charlotte, where we waited on the tarmac for 20 minutes because--get this--the waiting area for immigration was completely full, so they couldn't let us off. This was not a good sign. We had a connecting flight. After waiting in line for an hour and a half, we finally cleared immigration, only to discover that we had to claim our luggage, pack the four bottles of rum we were carrying in our checked luggage, clear customs, re-check our bags, and go through security again. Did I mention the connecting flight? Did I mention the lines? Did I mention that rum does not travel well?

When we reached San Diego, we waited for our luggage. And waited. And waited. There were five flights arriving at the same time, and for some reason, even though there are eight baggage carousels, all of the flights ended up at the same carousel. We finally got our bags, called for a shuttle, arrived at the lot where our car was parked--and discovered we had someone else's bag. Back to the airport. Pull up at the "no waiting" sign. Pretend not to hear the honking horns. Run in with the wrong bag. Run out with the right bag--trailing a gallon of rum from the broken bottles in the bag.

By this time, we'd been traveling for 15 hours. And we still had to drive to Nana's house, pack the kids, and drive home. I finally collapsed into bed at about 11 pm and curled into a fetal position.

But the vacation was great. I'd show you pictures, only my camera died.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Same Time Next Week

Well, folks, it's that time of year. Time for our annual No-Kids Vacation! Brought to us courtesy of one very generous Nana, who takes the kids for a week every summer so that hubby and I can spend the week together, celebrating our wedding anniversary (11 years this August) and remembering why we got married in the first place.

This year, our destination hot-spot is Jamaica (yes, we've been there many times, though not for three years now). For the next week, you can just picture me sprawled on the beach with a trashy novel in one hand and a Dirty Banana in the other--get your mind out of the gutter, it's a drink!

I'm not certain about internet service, or my own motivation in light of the aforementioned novels and drinks, so you may not hear from me for a week. But I'll be back soon! Now...where's that sunscreen?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Provisional Cast On--Alternate Methods

A few posts ago, I asked whether anyone knew of an alternative to the two provisional cast ons that I know (the long-tail with waste yarn and the crochet chain). It turns out you know of quite a few! It also turns out that there are even more provisional cast-ons out there. I sorted through those that you brought to my attention and those that I uncovered through the magic of the internet and picked out the following as the ones that seem the simplest and most workable. I have not tried all of these, so I could be wrong about their usefulness. But if you're looking for a better provisional cast on than the one you are currently using, or you haven't yet had need of one but may in the future, it can't hurt to check out these. If you do try one (or more) and want to share your experience, or you know of another one that deserves mention, feel free to comment here for the benefit of all.

Ravel Cord Cast-On
This link is courtesy of Kathleen at Quail Hill Knits. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks like a good option. The only drawback is that you have to have ravel cord on hand to do it.

Direct Crochet
This tutorial is from Stitch Diva. This method has the benefit of an easy-to-unzip crochet chain, but does not require first making a chain and then picking up stitches through it (which I loathe).

Invisible Cast-On

This tutorial is from Eunny Jang. It is very similar to the method I used for Prosperous, for which I cannot find either a tutorial or online instructions. The instructions I actually used are in the Summer 2007 issue of Knitter's. This is a little fiddly, but not really any more difficult than a long-tail cast on, and the waste yarn should pull out easily when the time comes. I'll let you know how that works for me.

Loose Cast-On (for picot edge only)
These instructions come from a sock pattern. The link is courtesy of Mel at Aspire to Knit. Basically, you just cast on over two needles (or one very large one) to create a loose cast on row. When the time comes to turn under your hem, you can easily pick up and knit the extra large stitches of the cast on row together with your working stitches. Note that this is not an alternative to a provisional cast on where you will be picking up and knitting again in another direction, since that first row will be distorted. It only works for the underside of a hem.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

FO: Prosperous

I know I posted this morning, but I was able to get a decent picture to show, so this is a bonus post.


Pattern: Prosperous Plum

Size: 32" finished bust

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece; 2.5 skeins "Dusty Sage"

Modifications: very few. I made it two inches longer (1 inch below the waist shaping; 1 inch above) to accommodate my height. I worked two rows of single crochet for the edging instead of two rows of crab stitch (since I don't know what that is).

Thoughts: I love this pattern. It is worked in the round with only two short seams for the shoulders. The pattern is made up of two simple charts. The only slightly tricky part is the picot edging, which requires a provisional cast on and seam. The designer recommends four inches of negative ease, which seems to be about right. As I already mentioned, mine ended up with only two inches of negative ease, and it is a little looser than I would have liked. Still, it fits pretty well and is comfortable and very wearable.

Greek Style

I finished Prosperous last night. Here's a blocking shot.

Note to self: overhead kitchen lighting at night + digital camera = crappy photo.

I haven't had a chance to get one of it on. That may take a day or two. I'm not thrilled with the crocheted edging at the front of the neckline. It's not visible in this photo, but it seems to be pulling to one side a bit. I may pull it back and redo that part. The pattern calls for two rows of "crab stitch" around the edges. Since I don't know what that is, I did two rows of single crochet. I'm happy with it, except for that little uneven area.

And, since there is no way I could have slept without having a sweater on the needles, I cast on for Grecian Plaits:


If you look at the bottom edge, you will see that it uses a provisional cast on. This is one I've never seen before. The designer calls it an "invisible cast on." I don't know whether that is her name for it or a common name that I've just never heard. It is a bit fiddly--it took me about six tries to figure out how to do it--but I think it may be the easiest one yet, once you get the hang of it. I'll let you know when I try to pull out the waste yarn and pick up the stitches, in another 46 (!) inches.

I have now collected several different provisional cast ons, most with links showing how to do them. I will put them all together into one post, with a link to it in on my sidebar, so that anyone faced with the need for one can look up the options and pick the one that appeals the most. If that interests you, look for it in the next couple of days. Now I'm off to take the kids bike riding on Coronado Island.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Busted...and Not Busted

My husband came downstairs this morning while I was paying bills. He looked a bit miffed. "What's the matter?" I asked.
"I just figured out how you played me."
"Huh?" I responded, looking perfectly innocent, because, naturally, I never play him.
"I'm talking about the attic. I just figured out why you really wanted that door," he elaborated. He doesn't usually read my blog, so I continued to look innocent. "I looked in that closet where you keep your yarn. It's completely full." I just stared at him blankly. "There is no more room for yarn in the closet. That's why you wanted to get into the attic." He looked triumphant. I just grinned foolishly.
Busted.

In other news, here's Prosperous.


Isn't it lovely? I continue to love the yarn and the pattern. Last night, I finished the front shaping and, following the directions, tried it on to determine how long to make the straps. I made this with a 32 inch chest, because the designer recommended 4 inches of negative ease, and I have a 36 inch chest. I was a little surprised, then, that it was so loose around the chest. I was expecting clingy. I got drapey. I took it off and checked the measurements. 32 inches. I checked my gauge. 19 stitches to four inches, exactly as it should be. I checked the pattern. Yep--four inches of negative ease recommended. I looked at the work in progress expectantly for a little while, waiting for it to tell me why it was so loose. Finally, out of ideas, I decided to measure my bust. Not that I thought that would tell me anything. I am a 36. I've been a 36 for twenty years. My bras are all 36's. I always knit for a 36 inch bust. I got out my tape measure and wrapped it around my chest. Over my shirt. Over my (lightly padded) bra. Just as I thought...34 inches. Wait. I must have measured wrong. Re-wrap, checking the position of the tape. 34 inches. Get my glasses, because I must be reading this wrong. 34 inches.

34 inches. I am 5'11". 34 inches? That's ridiculous! Where did the other two inches go? Did they disappear while I was sleeping? Are they on vacation in Mexico? I looked in the mirror. I wrapped the tape measure around my hips. Nope. They haven't left. They've just moved south. Damn.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Out of the Closet

We didn't have an attic when I was growing up. Our house had a flat roof, hence, no space for an attic. We also didn't have a basement. No one does in Southern California. Earthquakes, you know. So "storage space" to me has always meant "the garage." So much so that, when we bought our house eight years ago, I never even thought about using the attic for storage. In eight years, I have never once looked in the attic. I know it's there; there is a tiny trapdoor in my yarn closet that leads up there. But the trapdoor is so small, a person can barely squeeze through, and that's only if you first drag a ladder upstairs, make space in the closet, and then climb the ladder, remove the trapdoor, and wiggle through into the unfinished attic above, being very careful to step only on the joists, since there is no floor.

So maybe it's not so surprising that it never occurred to me, in my never-ending quest for storage space, that we could actually use the enormous open area above our ceiling. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me, as I was climbing over the file boxes piled in our "storage room" in the garage and clambering up the elliptical trainer to reach the suitcases, that, if we just put in an actual access door to the attic and laid some plywood, we could have a HUGE storage space without adding onto the house.

This is an enormous realization, no matter how stupid I am for not considering it for eight years. We run a law practice and have boxes and boxes of files that we are required to keep for years and years. Our office does not have storage space, so they stay at our house. It doesn't take long for these files to overrun any available space in the house or garage. We have cleared space, installed shelving, and stacked boxes in several places, several times, to accommodate these files. Lately, we concluded that we needed to move the files to a rental space, just to reclaim our garage for our own things. But that was before I remembered the attic.

Today, we got a handyman out. And in just a few hours, we went from this:


To this:

And another lightbulb went off. All together now: STASH STORAGE!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Can't...Stop...Knitting...

This Cotton Fleece is absurdly addictive. I've knitted some nice yarns in my time, but the speed, ease, and comfort of this stuff is amazing. Here's Prosperous:

My buddy Rod is there for scale. Prosperous is knitted in the round, so this is almost half of the complete project. And may I just point out, this is ONE skein of Cotton Fleece! This pattern is delightful, too. Two simple charts, all in the round, almost no finishing, and written clearly and correctly. I did have to rip back once--my own error: s2 k1 p2sso is not the same as s1 k1 psso. Who'd have thought? But I caught it early, and as you can see, it didn't slow me down much.

I've already found two more patterns I want to do in Cotton Fleece, and I have plans for a couple of my own as well. Whatever am I going to do with all that wool in the stash?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Prosperous

The best thing about finishing a project is getting to start another one.

This is Prosperous (pdf link). The designer named it Prosperous Plum, which made sense for her, since she used purple. I'm going with the more succinct "Prosperous". And I love it. Of course, I always love a project when I cast it on. It's only later, when the road starts getting rocky, that the passion fades and I have second thoughts and wonder if I might have been better off with Grecian Plaits. Or Swallowtail. Or that cute cardigan I saw that one time at that yarn store the next town over. I really should have gotten its name. But I digress.

Look at that adorable (yes, I'm really going to refer to it as "adorable") picot hem! Ignoring for the moment that it was an enormous pain in the butt--provisional cast on, worsted weight on size 5 needles, fold over and knit one stitch off each needle together until you reach the end or your hand falls off--it is a beautiful detail. The hemming gives the edge a nice weight and body that should really help the finished sweater to drape well. And look at that great little eyelet detail!

I'm doing this one in Cotton Fleece, which Green Apples has recommended very highly. I can see why. This is a lovely yarn, 80% cotton, 20% wool. It is very soft, and has the nice dry hand of cotton with the springiness of wool. Unlike many cottons I've worked with (see the baby dress and blanket), it is not heavy or stiff, and the stitches are smooth and even. At about $8 for a 100 gram skein with 215 yards, it's more expensive than the yarns I usually buy, but not outrageous. (I am the queen of internet yarn sales, so I generally get my yarns at about half the retail price. I actually had to go to the not-so-local yarn store for this and pay full price.) This tank should take three skeins, which is well within bounds of what I consider a reasonable price.

And now a question. If you use or have used a provisional cast on, which one do you/did you use? There seem to be at least three variations, and I dislike all of them. I know of two versions that use a crocheted chain, meaning you first crochet a chain, then pick up and knit stitches in the crochet loops. When you are ready to take out the cast on edge, the crochet chain just unzips, and you can pick up the live stitches. The disadvantage to this one is the extra step of crocheting a chain, and then the tedium of picking up stitches in a narrow crocheted chain.

The other version I know uses a long tail cast on with one of the tails being a piece of scrap yarn. This is quicker to cast on--it works exactly like a regular long tail cast on. The disadvantage is that the scrap yarn does not unzip. You have to carefully cut and pick it out one stitch at a time when you are ready to expose the live stitches. I used this method for Prosperous, and I was not a happy camper.

Does anyone have another provisional cast on, maybe one that combines the ease of a long-tail with the simplicity of unzipping the crocheted chain? Or am I way too optimistic that such a thing is possible?