Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Deep Purple

I think it's finally time...

I've had the yarn for this in the stash for almost a year now. I bought four HUGE (250 gram) hanks of this deep purple Kid Aran at Little Knits last fall with this project in mind. I know that's a lot of yarn, but I have had way too many experiences with running out halfway through the second sleeve, and I knew I'd probably never be able to get more of this hand dyed yarn to match.

After finishing up two lingering projects in the past two days (an endeavor that involved lace repairs, rescue yarn, and the dyepot), I feel I have served my penance for putting the Round Yoke Jacket on the shelf. (I'll show you the finished projects once I can get pictures.) After several rounds of swatching for projects in my queue and not really feeling the love for any of them, I think I am ready to tackle this one. I've been looking forward to it for a long time, but Death By Cables sort of took the edge off my cable love for a while there.

I'm planning to make this one significantly longer than the original. I don't really like cropped sweaters. I hit 5'11" when I was 14, so I've spent most of my life tugging on clothes that are too short. I have a hard time deliberately making a short sweater. I want mine to be hip-length. I think I can just add length to the peplum, but I'll have to see. For those who aren't familiar with this pattern, the peplum is knitted as one long piece, then the upper part of the sweater is worked in right and left halves, each incorporating front, back, and one sleeve. It looks to be a bit complicated to adjust sizing. Fortunately, I fall comfortably within one of the existing sizes, except for the length.

I'm hoping to cast on tonight, after my birthday party! Yes, indeed. Yarnhog is a year older today. I've been 29 for the past 10 years, so I think it may be time to turn 35.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"We Need To Talk"

Dear Round Yoke Jacket,

We need to talk. You know that I love you. I love your soft, tweedy texture, your garter stitch yoke, your soft green color. I love your versatility and your willingness to change for me. But I think we need some time apart. Lately I have found our relationship to be more of a trial than a pleasure. I feel like I'm knitting on eggshells, never knowing when something is going to go terribly wrong. I'm tired of the frustration, the misunderstandings, the late-night tears.

It's not like we haven't tried to make it work. Remember the seven times we ripped and re-knitted the yoke together? Remember the needle size changes? Remember the five inches of garter stitch ribbing? We've put an awful lot into this relationship, and I'm not willing to give it up entirely, but I think some time apart would help us both. So I'm going to have to put you in the stash closet--just for a little while--while I pursue some other interests. I hope we will be able to return to each other refreshed and ready to try again.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ten Things

I saw this meme at On The Needles, and it made me think, so I decided to participate (spurred on, I must admit, by some tough work days that haven't left much time or energy for knitting or blogging). The photo mosaic was my own addition.

The rules? List ten things you can't do without. Tag [pick a number] people and let them know they're tagged. That's it! Easy, huh?

Ten Things I Can't Do Without

Credits (from left to right, top to bottom): 1. My own, 2. My own, 3. The Color of Crema Coffee, 4. My own, 5. Entering Hyperspace, 6. llibreria - bookstore - Amsterdam - HDR, 7. Jaz, 8. Pequeños Placeres / Little Pleasures, 9. Sugar Lips, 10. blessing of nature

1. My family, of course. That's almost cheating, isn't it?
2. Yarn and needles. Yeah, yeah. Still cheating.
3. Coffee. Enough said.
4. Dogs. They are so much easier to relate to than humans. Why, yes, I am antisocial. How did you know?
5. Internet access. How could I ever survive without you all?
6. Books. Yes, I did notice this somehow came in below internet access. This is disturbing to me, particularly since I have a degree in literature, but still true.
7. My alarm clock. I'm not a morning person, but morning comes all the same.
8. Privacy. I am naturally introverted and need time alone every day to recharge.
9. Sugar. There is no chance at all that I will ever do a low-carb diet. Or, well, any diet, actually.
10. Plants. I love the way they look. I love the way they feel. I love their constant, silent, living presence. Emphasis on silent. I did mention my family, did I not? They are not silent. At all.

And despite the mental image I have now created of a fat, sluggish, caffeine- and sugar-addicted, antisocial, knitting bookworm digging in the dirt surrounded by dogs, I'm happy to share my list with you! I won't tag anyone, so no pressure, but I would love to read your lists, too (and see your pictures), so if you're inclined to play, please leave a message to let me know when you post, and I'll come visit.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is what five inches of garter stitch ribbing looks like after you rip it out because you realize that you should probably have measured the length of the sweater before starting the five inches of garter stitch ribbing. Had you measured instead of eye-balling it, you would have realized you had knitted the stockinette part of the body two inches longer than it needed to be. That's a 100 gram skein of yarn there, folks. And it's a bloody good thing I like to knit, because now I get to knit five inches of garter stitch trim. Again. &$*!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chocolate-Covered Cherry

If you guessed it was the Chevron Scarf, you were right! I may not be the last knitter in the world to do this one. (That honor is reserved for my non-participation in the Clapotis craze. I haven't knitted Clapotis on principle; until I can identify what it is supposed to be, it would be irresponsible for me to make one.) But according to Ravelry, there are 1492 of these recorded, which is probably only a small percentage of the total number in existence, so I have a lot of company.

I cannot explain my desire to knit this scarf. I don't wear scarves, nor do I know anyone who does. There are only about three days a year here when wearing wool wrapped around your neck would not be likely to send you to the emergency room with heat stroke. Still, I couldn't resist. After all, the lack of wool-appropriate weather hasn't prevented me from knitting innumerable wool sweaters, which reside, neatly stacked, in my closet, awaiting the next Ice Age. If you ever wake up to woolly mammoths outside your window, you'll know there is a knitter in San Diego crying tears of joy.

My version is made with a skein of semi-solid chocolate colored Koigu (my first!) and a skein of Fly Dyed Monarch in Ruby Redmond that's been in the stash for a long time, awaiting a project that isn't socks. Together, the colors remind me of those chocolate covered cherries with the creamy pink filling. Mmmmm....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Any guesses what this will be? Need a hint? It's my new purse project, and I'm blaming The A.D.D. Knitter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

FO: Opulent Raglan

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled frog-fest to bring you:

The Opulent Raglan!

Pattern: Opulent Raglan by Wendy Bernard, from the Fall 2008 Knitscene.
Size: 34"
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Classic Al
Needles: Size 5 and 6 KnitPicks Options circulars

Modifications: Only a few. I increased the length and adjusted the waist shaping to fit. I did a 1x1 ribbing at the bottom instead of a turned hem, because I thought the turned hem looked a little bulky (and ribbing is so much easier, anyway). I lengthened the sleeves a bit, too. The neckline on mine is higher, but this doesn't really count as a mod, since it was the result of my smaller row gauge. I wanted the neck higher, anyway, so the gauge difference just saved me the trouble. Gotta love that!

Thoughts: I love this pattern. The design is elegant in execution, top down, one piece, and yet very shapely and even a bit fancy. The cable is gorgeous; it makes me think of a intricate ribbon, like the kind you get when you have the department store wrap the package for you. It kept the knitting just tricky enough to be interesting, without making me want to stick a dpn in my eye. I even went with the short, belled sleeves, because I decided I liked that feminine, almost old-fashioned touch, and the sweater would lose something if I deleted them. All in all, a satisfying knit, and a very pretty FO!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Knitting Today

Completely non-knitting content. Political statements follow.

I don't talk politics here, because this blog is about knitting, which I think of as something that brings us together, not something that pulls us apart. We have enough stuff pulling up apart, and I think it is a better use of my time to try to build connections, rather than to sever them. But I do have very strong political opinions, and as we approach another election, after eight years that I don't think anyone can honestly say have been good, I believe with all my heart that it is critical to our survival as a nation that we all commit ourselves to being informed and involved in the political process. So I'm going to use this blog, for today only, to say some things that I believe need saying.

Although I consider myself to be moderate in my beliefs (don't we all?), it would be fair to say that most people would characterize me as pretty far left. I believe in civil rights and human rights. I believe that the only criterion for entitlement to these rights is being human, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation, wealth, education, or any other characteristic people try to use to separate us into "us" and "them". I believe that women have the right to control their own bodies, because there is no one else who has a greater right to do so, and that, while this may sometimes lead to decisions that sadden us, it is better than all other alternatives. I believe that everyone has the right to marry and to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage, and that no one else's marriage has any bearing on my own. I believe that all children should have access to decent food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education, regardless of the choices their parents may have made. I believe that adults should be held accountable for their own choices, but that it is to our benefit as a society to give a hand up to anyone who wants to make positive changes in his or her life. I believe that we have an obligation to protect our environment, even at the expense of our convenience, because anything else would be foolish and self-destructive. Even animals know better than to shit where they sleep. I believe that freedom is not an entitlement, but a privilege for which we must constantly struggle, usually against our own government. I believe that fear is a weapon used by government to control and subjugate people. I believe that power corrupts and that we, the people, must exercise constant vigilance to prevent those in power from using that power for their own ends. And I believe that we have failed in this basic duty as citizens.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican and never have been. I prefer to think for myself. I belong to no church or organized religion, for the same reason. I honestly do not care where you are on the political spectrum, as long as you are informed and have made a reasoned decision about your beliefs, values, and priorities. Intelligent minds can differ, and often do. If you support the Republican platform, that's fine, as long as you know what it is and genuinely believe in the positions it represents. Ditto the Democratic platform. I much prefer informed dissent to ignorant agreement. Nothing outrages me more than when someone blindly follows a doctrine simply because someone else (family, church, neighbors, whatever) does, especially if that person is uninformed about what it is he or she is supporting. Unfortunately, I find that most people I know fall into this category.

I am a card-carrying member of both the ACLU and Amnesty International, not because I agree with everything they do (I don't), but because I believe that they are necessary checks on the powers that be. I support them financially because the government uses my tax dollars--and yours--to support the activities they oppose. I am a big believer in checks and balances. Governing a democracy was never meant to be easy; it is the complexity that is supposed to keep it from swinging too far to either extreme. Dictatorship is easy, but that doesn't make it right. In recent years, sweeping changes to our laws, allowed by a congress that has abdicated its responsibility, have largely done away with these critical checks and balances, and we are seeing the results now.

What are the results? The evisceration of civil rights, a broken election system, a government run by corporate America, a corporate-controlled media, irreversible environmental damage, unprecedented conflict with other countries (including our allies), economic free-fall, a super-elite that has sucked the money out of the system while sending our jobs abroad, and a middle-class that is being crushed beneath the weight of unemployment, rampant foreclosures, high fuel costs, unmanageable debt, and rising inflation. Let me know if I've forgotten any.

I'm not writing this to add to the gloom and doom atmosphere that seems to pervade everything these days. I'm writing it as a plea to my fellow Americans. The election is coming. Everywhere, everyone will be telling you to get out and vote. By all means, do. But first, stop and think. Let go of your fear and think about what you really believe, not what other people tell you to believe. Think about what is important to you. Think about what will make this a better country. And then, be informed. If you know, in the privacy of your own heart, that you're not sure about what's going on, take the time to get informed before you vote. Read. Not just the newspapers, or your news station of choice. Read online. Seek out sources. Be open to opposing points of view. It won't hurt any of us to listen to things we don't like. We are all in this together, so it makes sense to understand those who disagree with us, doesn't it?

We who live in the United States are engaged in the greatest political experiment of all time, but it's not a guaranteed success. It is easy to disregard the possibility of failure, to go on with our lives with the blithe assumption that things will go on as they always have. But we must never forget that this country has been around less than 250 years. By historical standards, we're barely toddling around the living room, despite all that we've accomplished in that time. The Roman Empire lasted 2000 years before it fell, but fall it did. Our survival as a nation requires that we, the people, be informed, involved, and ever-vigilant. Please, do your part.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take Two

The first yoke didn't work out quite right. The general idea was correct, but the fit was off. The neck was too wide, and the increases seemed to be happening too quickly, so I ripped and started over. (This poor yarn. Some of it has already been ripped eight times. Seems to be holding up well, though.)

I cast on fewer stitches, and also used a larger needle for the garter stitch section to compensate for my tighter gauge in garter stitch. While I was at it, I found a better way to work short rows in garter stitch. I've never been that comfortable with the whole "wrap and turn" drill. I don't quite get it, and half the time, I can't hide the wraps. Some designers recommend not wrapping, but just pulling the stitches extra tight at the turn. In the past, I've had success just turning and slipping the first stitch of each short row, which makes the transition between rows less abrupt. This is what I did with the first few attempts at the yoke, but I didn't like the way the slipped stitch was noticeable against the garter stitch pattern. In the current incarnation, I tried just pulling the stitches tighter at the turn, which seems to be much less noticeable.

I also tried a different approach to the increases, working fewer increase rows spaced a bit further apart, but with more increases in each row (which is what Jared did in Cobblestone). I hoped this would result in a shape that is closer to the actual shape of my shoulders, instead of a funnel, which is what I was getting with the first yoke. I don't actually mind ripping and reknitting. It would drive me crazy if I were working a published pattern, because the whole reason I knit from patterns in the first place is for simplicity. The point of this project is to work it out for myself, though, so the effort is part of the fun.

Which is, um, a good thing, because when I tried on the yoke above, I wasn't happy with it. There were two significant problems. First, my row gauge in stockinette was dramatically different than in garter stitch, so my raglan increases in the stockinette section were happening at a slower rate than in the garter yoke. This means the angle of the yoke changed once it turned to stockinette, so that the edges didn't match up properly. I tried to denial; I even got out the iron and steam blocked the yoke to try to smooth it out, but in the end, I was forced to admit that I would never be happy with it. Which wasn't too upsetting, once I discovered problem number two, which is that I completely forgot to continue the button band in garter stitch, so that it was rolling at the edges, and the buttonholes were not evenly spaced, thanks to the different row gauge. Sigh.

But, never daunted...

Here's Take Three. This time, I took kmkat's advice and turned to the venerable Elizabeth Zimmerman for guidance. After several hours, much math, and some slight bleeding from the ears, I used her formula (more or less) for the yoke increases. All of the increases will now happen in the garter stitch part, so that they will be done before I switch to stockinette, which will eliminate the problem of different row gauge. This means I have given up on the neat little raglan increases that I so enjoy, but it may result in something I can actually wear. So we'll see. I haven't ripped Take Two yet...just in case.

For those who have expressed an interest, if this works out, I will write up a pattern and make it available here. Assuming, after I finish laying my incompetence bare before you, that you are willing to trust anything I say!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Knitting Without a Net

Some of you have asked me how I plan to knit the round yoke jacket without a pattern, so I thought it might be interesting for me to do a sort of running commentary of how I'm working it out. (Or not. I guess we'll see.) But I'll tell you now, I don't actually know what I'm doing, so a lot of this is trial and error.

As with any project, I started with a swatch to figure out a gauge. With a written pattern, the object is, of course, to get the gauge specified in the pattern. Since I am not using a pattern, my goal is to come up with a fabric that I like, then use that gauge to figure out my stitch and row counts.

This is a chunky or bulky weight yarn, and the recommended gauge is 3-4 stitches per inch on a size 8-10 needle. I tend to knit loosely, so I started with a size 8 needle, which gave me 14 stitches and 20 rows (the top swatch). I liked it pretty well, but it was perhaps a tiny bit stiff, so I went up a needle size and did another swatch on size 9 needles. That gave me 15 stitches and 20 rows (the bottom swatch). But the stitches were a little loose and uneven.

Next, I washed both swatches, which is an important but often neglected step. Both of them bloomed quite a bit. The stitches in both evened out and filled in, creating a cohesive fabric that looks almost felted. Both swatches also relaxed considerably, becoming more drapey. Interestingly, only the swatch knitted on the smaller needles had a change in gauge, from 14 to 15 stitches per four inches.

As a result of my swatching and washing, I decided to go with size 8 needles.

Next, I had to think a little bit about the structure of the jacket. I knew I wanted to knit it top down, with a round yoke, instead of a raglan. Not having much experience knitting a round yoke, I did a little reading. I remembered that Cobblestone used a round yoke, but it was knitted bottom-up. Still, I thought it would be helpful to consider, so I pulled out the pattern and read it. In Cobblestone, all the decreases for the yoke (working upward) were done by decreasingly a certain number of stitches evenly around every few rounds. I figured this ought to work top-down, too, only increasing instead of decreasing. For a top-down raglan, you do decrease eight stitches every row. I figured decreasing 16 stitches every other row would work for a round yoke.

But before I could start, I needed to work out another little issue. When you knit a sweater in pieces, the front neck is always cut lower than the back neck, right? This is because our necks are not set on our bodies parallel to the floor. The base of your neck is higher in the back than in the front (go look in a mirror if you doubt this). So a perfectly round yoke won't make for a very good fit. If I just knit a circle, it will sag at the back, or pull up at the front, or both. I needed a way to bring the back of the neck up higher than the front.

I was certain this was job for short rows. Only I wasn't sure quite how short rows were going to take care of it. If you haven't worked with them before, short rows are just that: rows that don't go all the way across the piece. They allow you to build up one section of the knitting without building up the whole thing, so they're useful for creating a little ease in areas that might need it--to accommodate the girls in a fitted knit, for example. Cobblestone used short rows to bring up the back neck, but it was bottom up.

Then I remembered that when I knitted Sahara, the sleeves were picked up and knitted from the top down using short row shaping. So I thought about that for a while. Eventually I decided that the way to go would be to cast on the stitches for the entire neck, then insert a few short rows to build up the center part of the neck (which would be the back of the jacket), and then start increasing for the yoke.

I had the right general idea, but it took me four tries to get this:

Do you see how the center is wider than the ends? That will be the back of the neck.

The first time I cast on, I worked the short rows in reverse. That is, I worked them as though I were working bottom up, with each row a little longer than the one before. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I would need to turn the short rows over when working from the top down, so that each row was a little shorter than the one before.

The second time, I did this, but I didn't like the spacing of the rows; they started too far from the edges. The third time, I had the opposite problem--I started the short rows too close to the edges--and also realized the collar was too tight. To come up with the right number of stitches to cast on, I had taken a piece of yarn, wrapped it around my neck until it draped the way I wanted the collar to fit, then I measured the piece of yarn and figured out how many stitches to cast on to get that length. But for some reason, it was coming out much too short. After measuring several times, I was forced to admit that there was definitely something wrong. That something was that my gauge in garter stitch is much smaller than my gauge in stockinette, and I had measured my gauge only in stockinette. So I ripped a third time and cast on again, and now I seem to have an actual yoke happening.

This yoke is the result of casting on for the neck, working short rows to make the back of the neck higher, then increasing 16 stitches evenly spaced every four rounds. If you look really closely, you may see that I've also made button holes along the what will be the right side.

I don't know whether this will end up fitting correctly. I have it on a 40 inch circular, but it's still too short to allow the stitches to spread out enough for me to see if it fits. My next step will be to put the stitches on scrap yarn and wrap it around my shoulders to see if I'm heading in the right direction. If so, there is another issue I need to work out. I don't want just a plain, garter stitch, round yoke. I only want the garter stitch to go to about the edges of my shoulders. At that point, I'll switch to stockinette and begin working raglan increased instead of increases in the round. Why? Because the sweater that is my inspiration used this sort of hybrid construction, and I love it. So I need to try this on to see if the stockinette portion is long enough, and if it fits correctly over my shoulders. If not, I'll be ripping again, but at least now I know how to get the shape I need.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"I Wish I Were a Pill Bug."

My husband and I aren't really sports fans. Okay, okay: we're not sports fans at all. I can't tell you when baseball season is or who won the Super Bowl last year or name more than three big name sports stars. Or maybe two.

We don't watch sports on tv, our kids have been to exactly one baseball game (where we stayed for two innings while one slept and one whined), and our one attempt at Little League was an unmitigated disaster.

So we were a little surprised when our then-seven-year-old announced last year that he wanted to play football. I didn't even know he knew what football was. Are you sure? Do you know how to play? That's the game with the pointy ball, you know? If you sign up, you have to play the whole season, right? Yeah, yeah, Mom.

I started hunting down a football league. It turns out, around here at least, the only kids' football league is Pop Warner. I was a little put off by the expense, and the paperwork, and the letter that read, in part: "Football is a very serious commitment," (because, you know, I have a hard time taking anyone in tight pants running around after a ball all that seriously). But the most astonishing part was that the flag football teams, which are made up of 5-7 year olds, have mandatory practice three nights a week for an hour and half, with games every Saturday! This, in my not-so-humble opinion, is completely insane. But if your kid wants to play football, it's literally the only game in town.

And as crazy as it is, it's nothing compared to the absurdity that is tackle football, which is what my now eight-year-old is playing this year. The eight-year-olds have practice two hours a night, five nights a week, with games every Saturday. Which means, if you're counting, that they play football six times a week. If you factor in driving time, we as a family are committed to nearly 20 hours per week of pee wee football--when the completely football-mad coach doesn't keep us half an hour late at practice or insist on a meeting after the game. On practice nights (i.e. every weeknight), my son doesn't get dinner until eight pm, which is actually his bedtime.

But if I find it all annoying and just slightly over-the-top, my poor husband has it much, much worse. He's an assistant coach. He coaches at every practice and every game and is regularly required to attend coaching workshops on the weekends and coaches' meetings at night. He is not a football fan; he's a dad, and he's doing his best to be supportive of his kid. He's a good coach, because he's good with the kids and does a great job of keeping them enthusiastic and making it fun. But I think it's safe to say he doesn't care a whole heck of a lot about playbook or the game films (yes, really) or the coach's latest plan for scoping out the competition.

So when he found out that he had to attend a coaches' meeting tonight (to go over game films at the bachelor apartment of the head coach--who doesn't even have kids, by the way--to the accompaniment of "hot links"--and I can only speculate what those might be), the one football-free night of the week, he was...disappointed. He's been...disappointed...all day. But the closer it got to the time he needed to leave, the more he slumped into the sofa, and the more scrunched up his face got, and the more his whole demeanor just sort of projected "I don't wanna!"

When I got home from walking the dog this evening and asked him, very gently, "Isn't it time for you to be going?", he gave me the same expression the dog usually reserves for those mornings when she doesn't get waffles and answered morosely:

"I wish I were a pill bug."

At least they don't play football, huh?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Since I just finished the Lacy Hug-Me-Tight, I'm down to one project on the needles (that would be the Opulent Raglan, which only needs sleeves). I prefer to have only one or two projects going at a time, otherwise I start to feel overwhelmed. (Sort of why I only have two kids, come to think of it.) But with only the one, and only a few days of knitting to finish it, I'm starting to itch for my next project.

So I put in a little quality time with my Ravelry queue. I find the queue function useful, not so much to plan what I'm going to knit when (because I'm way too fickle for that), but just to have a list of things I like and might want to knit or use as inspiration for something to knit. I do have some specific projects in mind, including the Winter Wonderland coat, Silver Belle, and Shirley Paden's Pewter Coat, (all Ravelry links, sorry!) just to name a few, with yarn waiting in the stash for each of them. And I do plan to knit them all this fall/winter. I was just clicking around, trying to decide which one appeals to me the most right now this second, when the doorbell rang.

Sometimes fate sounds just like a ringing doorbell.

I opened it to find a box full of this:

This is Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed in Arrowleaf Balsamroot (it's green, I swear, but I can't convince my camera--click on the color name to see the real color), which I couldn't resist ordering after reading Jared waxing poetic about it one more time. I tried. I really did. I visited the website at least six times in three days, each time adding yarn to my cart and then closing my browser without hitting the "submit" button. But, weakness, thy name is yarn--and I finally couldn't stand it anymore.

I popped open the box and pulled out the first skein...and all I could say was, "Wow."

It's gorgeous. Nubby and rich and tweedy, of course, but also soft. Much softer than I ever thought a wool tweed could be. And when I--the queen of all wool wimps--can call it soft with sincerity, that means you could knit a bra out of it and not be sorry. (At least about the texture. I can't speak to the issue of support, never having had anything that required support myself.) This is wool, no doubt about it, with a delightfully rustic, "mule spun" texture, and subtle sheepy fragrance, but it feels almost like a cotton or silk blend. I keep squeezing it and rubbing it against my neck, just to see if I'm mistaken about its softness.

I was immediately possessed with the need to cast on with this stuff. Unfortunately, I bought it without an actual project in mind. (Bad Yarnhog!) There isn't anything in my queue that calls for this weight of yarn either. But there is a project in my favorites that has been haunting me for a while now. It's another knitter's own creation (Ravelry link here), so there is no pattern, but it shouldn't be hard to figure out. For those of you who aren't on Ravelry, it's a top down, hip length, swingy jacket in an aran weight tweed. The yoke is done in garter stitch, as are deep bands around the cuffs and bottom. The rest is stockinette. Very simple and totally appealing. Also perfect for wearing around the house, working at my desk, taking the kids to school, running out to the grocery store, and a multitude of other daily activities, which most of my sweaters are not, since I tend to knit projects that require an outfit to look good.

And it just screams for a soft, nubby tweed. So if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of sleeve knitting to get through before I can cast on for my new project. If you need me, I'll be in my butt groove.

Monday, September 8, 2008

FO: Lacy Hug-Me-Tight

Pattern: Lacy Hug-Me-Tight from Knit 2 Together by Tracy Ullman and Mel Clark
Size: Small/Medium

Yarn: 5 skeins Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk dk in Ivory
Needles: Sizes 5 and 8 KnitPicks Options circulars

Modifications: Absolutely none.

I loved knitting this, despite the Endless Lace Trim. I think I've covered the issue of not being a lace-knitter pretty thoroughly in previous posts. This was, by any definition, easy lace. Still, it took me a long time and a lot of teeth-gritting to get it done. Most people complain about all the 2 x 2 ribbing. I enjoyed that part the most. I suspect this is because I knit continental style, and it appears to me that ribbing is easier to knit that way. (Please note, this is not a value judgment or a condemnation of English style, or combined knitting, or any other way you may choose to make loops out of yarn, including--gasp!--with a hook. It's all good with me. This is just an observation, 'k?)

This took much less yarn than I expected. In fact, I have enough of this yarn left to make at least one more of these, and maybe two. Not that I'm planning to do so. But I could!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

60 Inches...and Counting!

It's true: I finished the Endless Lace Trim! Well, at least, I finished the trim for the body, aided by the season premier of The Shield and the series premier of Sons of Anarchy. At this point, I'll take that as a victory.

But, as you probably figured out some time ago, I have been ignoring a basic reality of separately-knitted trim, which is that, at some point, the trim needs to be sewn on to the sweater, or it's really just a fancy scarf.

Yes, those are binder clips from the local office supply store. I find them to be extremely useful for holding seams together while I sew them.

So as not to lose heart at the thought of 60 inches of mattress stitching in lace, I pretended I was done with the lace knitting and that this was the last step in the finishing of this sweater.

It seems to have worked, since the trim went on with surprising speed and ease and didn't even require ripping! I've laid the shrug out to give you some idea of how it looks on. The structure is odd. The body is really just a rectangle, folded in half and sewn halfway up the side seams, leaving half open to serve as armholes. Then the long strip of lace is sewn on around the bottom edge of the rectangle, and the two short strips of lace are sewn around the armholes, and voila! A shrug. The fabric is so drapey that the rectangle eases into a soft, curved shape around the shoulders that is surprisingly flattering. It will be a few days before I can get a modeled shot, so you'll have to take my word for it for the moment.

In the interests of not losing momentum, I've already cast on for the sleeve trim.

I wonder what's on tv tonight?

And just for the heck of it, here's a typical shot of Sophie the Escher Dog napping on the kitchen floor. How do you suppose she twists her spine like that?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fashion Cycle

Is anybody else feeling the need to party like it's 1977?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

36 Inches

I'll admit this is getting tedious.

Here's the ubiquitous progress shot on the endless lace trim:

But I have officially reached three feet, of the five that I need for this piece, and the seven that I need total.

It would probably be going faster if I weren't also working on this, which is ever so much more fun:

Yes, it's time for another crappy bathroom mirror wip photoshoot. Note to self: clean bathroom mirror before next photoshoot. But as you can see, despite the embarrassing spots of what I can only hope is toothpaste, the Opulent Raglan is progressing swimmingly. I love that fancy cable up the front, and it's so easy! I haven't done much in the way of modification to this one, except for increasing the length and adjusting the spacing of the waist shaping to fit. Oh, and I replaced the turned hem with some simple 1x1 ribbing, which will match the ribbing on the neckline. The turned hem looked sort of lumpy and unfinished to me in other FO pictures, and ribbing is faster and easier and gives a more finished look, in my opinion.

I'm just about to pick up stitches for the sleeves, having already done my daily lace-knitting penance. I still haven't decided exactly how I'm going to do the sleeves, but to my own surprise, I'm leaning toward knitting them as written!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

School Daze

It's official. The new school year is kicking my butt. (No, we didn't just start school today. I am competent enough to handle one day. This is week three for us, and I'm apparently not competent enough to sustain that first day performance for three weeks.)

Getting up at six am is the worst part. I'm not a morning person. I'm not even a before noon person. It is still dark out at six am. My body flatly refuses to accept that it is daytime when it is still dark out. The alarm goes off and I have the same reaction every morning: "WTF?! Who set the $@%#!&^ alarm clock for the middle of the night? Oh...no. That's just not possible. Already?! &*%!"

But my scatterbrained kid's morning performance is a close second. My older son is very, very bright, and very, very distracted. He talks at me a mile a minute while my brain is working in slow motion, and somehow manages to misplace his glasses/wallet/bus pass/homework/shoes every single morning. Last night I asked him 16 times, "Are you ready for school tomorrow? Do you have any homework left? Is your backpack packed? Are you SURE?" To which he responded each time, "YES, Mom!" with much disgusted eye-rolling. At eleven, he's just on the brink of coming into his own as a teenager. I shudder to think what he'll be like in two years, once he's in the full grip of testosterone psychosis.

This morning, he couldn't find his glasses, his wallet, his student ID, or his bus pass. He hadn't done his reading response and hadn't added his reading totals, nor had he given me any of the papers that needed signing. He discovered each of these lacks individually, after I asked him, "Do you have your [fill in the blank]?" To which he responded each time, "Uh...no! I'll go find it." Note the choice of word here. Not "I'll go get it," which would imply he knows where it is, but "I'll go find it," which implies (correctly) that he has no freakin' clue where it is.

By the time I finally got him out of the house (after sending him back in from the car when I discovered he had socks but no shoes), I knew we were going to be racing the bus to the bus stop. We lost. So I hung an illegal U-turn and hauled him through three different school traffic jams to the middle school, sans sunglasses, which were in my purse on the counter, in the brilliant morning light, and before my morning coffee. "Why are you so mad, Mom?" he asked, bewildered.

By the time I got home from that little unplanned jaunt, I was 20 minutes late waking up my younger son for school. "Come on, Sweetie. Time to wake up. We're really late today," I whispered. Younger son smiled sleepily, stretched leisurely, opened his eyes slowly, and looked at the clock. "Oh, you think?" he exclaimed, with a vast wealth of sarcasm. "Next time, wake me up earlier, Mom!"

It's eight am. I'm going back to bed.