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July 2004 Archives

July 6, 2004

Behind, Behind, Behind

There has been a lot of knitting going on around here, and I'm seriously behind blogging it all. A couple of other deadlines on assignments are looming, and I feel a little guilty blogging when I should be writing on those pieces - even though I'd much rather talk knitting. But, I'll be back soon, with lots of pictures, several finished objects, and some newfound insight into pattern writing.

Me... I'm just hoping that tomorrow in between thinking about grid computing and mobile marketing I can finally get the 3 year old into his newest knitwear for a photo shoot. The five month old wore his today (he's too little to negotiate or refuse) - and promptly spit up all over it halfway through me trying to catch the perfect shot! Sigh...

In the meantime, check out the following:

July 8, 2004

Return of the Arans

Having wrapped up ends on the Cascade Skye Cardigan (and a number of other small things), I've been toying with what to work on "next." Every night, I start moaning about not having anything major (a sweater-worthy project) actively on my needles that I can sit down and pick up when I get a free moment - or when I need to destress. I've made numerous trips to the basement, returning each time with various skeins of yarn bought in years past that I'd be interested in working with now. The problem is, I don't have a specific pattern in mind for any of these yarns. So, I've rummaged through a number of pattern books, and looked and re-looked at my stash of winter Rowan magazine issues from years past. There are several things that have caught my eye. Unfortunately, nothing that's caught my eye matches up with the yarn that I'm contemplating.

So, back to square one...

But not really.

In the course of the last month, I've gone through a number of Vera Bradley bags in my closet. They all contain projects in varying stages of completion - or random collections of yarn. One of those bags contains the doomed-to-be-frogged Philosopher's Wool cardigan. I'm not up for the frogging of all that work yet though!

matthew sweaterAnother of the bags contained what I termed my "Family of Arans" when I first started them in 2002 (or at least I think it was then). I hoped to make myself, my partner, and my son coordinating arans of my own design for the holiday season. I did make and finish my son's. It's pictured here at right.

At the time, I also started my own Aran. But, I guess life and work got in the way, and I never got it done. Having rediscovered it this year, I was amazed at how "much" I had actually finished on it. But, alas, it looks huge, and I'm not wearing (or knitting) "huge" anymore. Still, the Aran lying in the bag next to my bed has been tugging at my consciousness for the last few days. So, I got it out today and applied a tape measure. It's big - but not as big as it looks. It'll be roomy - but that's not necessarily bad for an aran.

I also pulled out the notebook with all my notes in it from that project. It took a bit of deciphering, but all in all, the notes are very well done, I must admit. All the sizing info is there, the aran charts are written out in matched up repeats that make them easy to follow, and I even wrote out all directions for the front and sleeves ahead of time (sigh of relief). So, I've got a perfect map for picking up this sweater (even two years later) and seeing it (hopefully) to conclusion. (Of course, I did intend this to be a "family" of arans. And now the family includes yet one more little boy!)

my sweaterMy only dilemma now is whether or not to convert it to a cardigan. I'm almost done with the back (that's what's shown here). When I first designed this, I designed it as a pullover - and I picked cables accordingly. The reality, however, is that I prefer to make and wear cardigans - mostly because it seems they get more use. In this case, I know I'd love it as a cardigan. But I can really "picture" it as a sweater, too. Haven't totally decided yet what I really want this sweater to "be."

The next step... got to dig in the hallway closet and see if the rest of the yarn is still there (which is where I remember putting the rest of that color, as well as the same yarn in Charcoal and a Slate Blue for sweaters for my son back when I first ordered it). If it's not there, I'm off on a virtual search to see if they still "make" this colorway. Seems likely though.

Another Aran

Yet another project I pulled from a bag in my closet was a Sirdar Aran I started for my son a few years back. (I had a real knitting spurt somewhere around 2001/02, I guess. It got sidetracked later by other projects and then the pregnancy doldrums.) All that was left to do on this sweater was seam it up and pick up and knit the neck. Unfortunately, I really hate seaming. So, the sweater has sat for more than a year, just waiting to be completed.

And I had resigned myself to the fact that when finally completed, it would no longer fit my son and would have to be given to someone.

Upon finding it this time, however, my partner offered to do the seams. For whatever perverse reason, she doesn't really mind seaming. So, she quickly put it together, leaving me just with the neck. That's a part I actually like. So, we've got another finished sweater.

I love the detailing on this sweater, and I'm a fan of moss/seed stitch in all variations. But I particularly like the collar treatment on this sweater. It is first ribbed for several rows and then has a bit of stockinette to create a roll right at the top. It's nice - and different.

Irony of all ironies... I think it will probably still fit older son. I seem to have made everything "bigger" than necessary when he was little! And, if it doesn't, it will fit the baby in a year or so.

(There's still one more sweater lying around that also needs seaming and a neck. It's next on my "to finish" list.)

July 14, 2004

Ballet Pink

Baby is asleep in my arms, but luckily, my little Fujitsu Lifebook is very small, so I can prop it on my knees and do some typing and surfing while still letting him snooze. (If you guessed he's one of those babies that only sleeps when being held, you're pretty much right. I'm sure there are readers out there shaking their heads and tsking that it's totally my/our fault. To some degree, that's probably true. Baby number one was the same way. They grow up so quickly, however, and the comfort babies clearly derive from attachment practices makes it worthwhile. Plus, they grow up well-adjusted, affectionate, loving, and just downright sweet. Or at least that has proven true with Baby #1!)

At any rate, I don't have access to all my photos in here, so I can't visually blog about some of the things I'm working on or have finished recently. But, I don't think I ever showed a picture of the Touch Me scarf that I finished a while back. touch me scarf pinkIt's shown here draped on my pink suede Birkenstocks. Now, did I buy this yarn because it matches my Birks? No. I actually think I bought the yarn first. Then, I stumbled across these limited issue pink Birks. As a long-time Birk wearer (with, yes, a closet full of them), these were a must have. However, when they arrived (yep, even though I live in SF where the flagship store is, it was still easier to order them and have them delivered to my door), I wasn't thrilled with the color. "Ballet pink," my partner kept telling me. I had been hoping for something a bit more baby pink. They've grown on me, however. And then, when I pulled the Touch Me out to start work on the scarf, I had to laugh as I realized it is the same color!

The scarf took two balls of Touch Me. It's fairly short, but long enough. I wore it last night for the first time (it's actually chilly here in SF a good bit of the time, especially in the summer) with a jean jacket (recent sale purchase from L.L Bean) when I ran out with Baby #2 in tow to pick up a dozen Krispy Kreme's to have this morning for my partner's birthday. (Forget Atkins for a day!)

The scarf was amazingly comfortable on, and just felt so "right." It's such an amazingly soft yarn. I just love the feel of it. I tried a number of stitch patterns before finding something I liked that showed up well in such a plush yarn and that was reversible "enough" to look great on both sides for a scarf. It's a simple rib to knit, but has enough variety to make it interesting visually. It was from Lesley Stanfield's The New Knitting Stitch Library, which I like (as an addition to my set of Harmony Guides).

I haven't washed it yet, but Sharon at KnitKnacks has suggested I do that. (And I know Sally M. has some directions for that in The Purl Stitch.) I don't know how the yarn could get any softer, but there are some rogue loopy threads that have appeared (instances of worming, I believe) that washing supposedly may help eliminate.

July 15, 2004

Touch Me Rib

The photo of the Touch Me scarf I posted yesterday shows the color but not the stitch pattern. It was the only photo I'd uploaded previously, however, so that's what you got. Here are two more images taken early on that show the nice little rib from the right side (first image) and wrong side (second image).

scarf scarf

As you can see, it's not a true reversible stitch. It does, however, have enough texture and interest to work on both sides - and was a nice change from a traditional rib or seed.

Elizabeth Zimmerman

This morning I popped in a tape my mother sent me a while back. We recently bought a DVD writer so we could transfer the box full of Mini-DV tapes we've taken of the boys to DVD for posterity (or until DVD becomes obsolete). So, when mom ran across a tape that my grandmother had made of Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Workshop" on PBS, she thought I might want to take a look.

EZ is, of course, such an icon in the knitting world, and it gave me a little shiver to put the tape in and see and hear her giving knitting lessons on things such as SSK. I only saw the first show (episode #4 of Series 1) so far - and it may be all that's on the tape. (I haven't fast forwarded through the rest yet to see if there's more.) Pretty neat though.

July 16, 2004

Problems with Sock Along #1

I'd been wanting to be a part of a knitalong since starting my blog. After all, I've got some naked real estate in my right-hand navigation column without a string of knitalongs I belong to - or so seems to be the unspoken design and user interface rules of knit blogdom.

When I first caught sight to the 6 Sox Knitalong on one blog or another, I quickly signed up. I've got some sock knitting experience and lots of sock yarn. It seemed a good way to get involved in a knitting community while working on short projects that wouldn't take away from other major projects and design creation I'm working on.

I had good intentions, and I downloaded and printed out the pattern for the first of six socks right away. I didn't get started right away though, and quickly I felt myself slipping into a 6 Sox swamp. The email list for the knitalong generates tons of mail which even in digest I don't necessarily have time to wade through - and if you're not yet knitting the sock, then it's easy to just ignore the mail. (The sock knitters list, which I use to jump on and off of, generates a ton of mail, too. There are just a lot of sock knitters out there, I guess, and they do a good job at community building via email lists.)

At any rate, last week, the moderators gave sort of a first sock "warning" since the first sock is supposed to be done by the end of July. I figured I'd better hop to it.

sockI started first in some Stahl that someone gave me a while back as a stocking stuffer. It is white with primary colored confetti throughout. After a few inches in the cloverleaf pattern, I decided I didn't like how the pattern looked in the yarn. The confetti obscured the cloverleaf holes. So, out the sock came.

Most of the sock yarn I have lying around is variegated, so even though I realize the pattern is shown off best in a solid, I thought I'd try it in some Sockotta I bought on a sock-yarn buying excursion with my mom a year or so ago when she was suddenly really "into" sock knitting.

The variegated yarn doesn't do the pattern as much justice as I'd like, but it's still pretty - and it ended up making unexpected vertical zigzags in terms of color (at first I thought it was striping itself diagonally, and then they changed directions), so I kept going. Everything was going along fine until I hit the heel.

Just assuming since so many knitters had already made the sock that the pattern was accurate, I knit as directed to turn the heel. Or at least I tried to. But the pattern is clearly erroneous. Here's what it says:

    *Slip1, knit1* 15 times (30 sts total), turn and slip1, purl back. Repeat these two rows until 30 rows are worked, ending with a right side row.

    Purl 17, p2 tog, p1, turn.

    *Slip 1, k5, k2 tog, k1, turn.
    Slip 1, p2, p2 tog, p1, turn.*

    Continue in this manner (between *'s, adding one more stitch each time) until all stitches are being worked. 10 sts remain.

Okay, first, if you start the heel on a RS row and work 30 rows, you'll be ended with a WS row, not a RS row. So starting the heel turn with a set of purls is in error.

But keep reading. You then do the first short row with a K5 and the next with a P2. That's not right.

It's clearly not right if you're really familiar with heels and sock production.

But, I'm not enough of a sock knitter to have a heel pattern committed to memory. So, sitting in the car while waiting on someone at the Dr's office, I was stuck. I didn't realize the problem was with the P2 of the second row. I was, instead, confused about "adding one more stitch each time" since the pattern denotes you do this while working between the *'s, which would only add a single stitch over two rows. At least if you read it literally, that's what it says.

I kept trying and the heel was looking obviously skewed, so I gave up for then and waited until I got home so I could check out a dozen or more sock books to see how the heel turn progressed in other patterns.

I finally came to the conclusion that the P2 has to be a typo. It should be P6 (if the previous row is K5), and you have to add one to the number of stitches before the K2tog or P2tog on each row. Okay, so that's fine.

I set off on the heel again only to get worried when I finished because I ended up with 18 stitches left on the needles, not 10.

I kept going, picked up the gusset stitches, and started decreasing them. But then I got worried. After flipping through pattern books again, I just wasn't sure if I'd ended up with too many or not.

So, I frogged back to the start of the heel turn and used the generic heel turn directions from the Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles book. When all was said and done, I did end up with 18 on the needles, but at least I had followed line by line directions and knew that's what I was supposed to end up with!

So, I'm progressing down the foot now. But I still am amazed that I couldn't find any mention in the 6 Sox archives about the pattern having problems. I searched and searched, but nothing turned up indicating anyone had written in and complained - or even posted corrected or clarified directions.

I'm the only one who ran into the problem?

(I somehow doubt it.)

GPS-toting Rescue Heroes

We live with a mite-sized Rescue Hero. And now that the Cartoon Network has started reshowing Rescue Heroes (albeit at 6AM), we get a week-daily dose (via DVD tapings) of rescue action which feeds the rescue craze around the house.

It's tough sometimes living in a world where there are constantly fires, earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, traffic lights falling down, avalanches, floods, storms, and so on. "911. It's an emergency" is the refrain we fall asleep to.

And the last time Grandma visited and took the tyke to the Golden Arches as an after-the-bookstore pit stop, she found herself hearing "911. There's an earthquake. Earthquake. 911" as she walked away to get more ketchup.

Surely it's a phase.

At least it's a cute one - and not a gun toting, war-mongering, I can fight better than you one.

With characters like Ariel Flyer, Billy Blazes, Wendy Waters, Jake Justice, Jack Hammer, Pat Pending, Rocky Canyon, and Rip Rockefeller constantly on the scene, there's a lot to like in this kid-friendly show. Plus, the "Think like a Rescue Hero. Think Safe" motto is one worth hearing - over and over and over.

(We moms do acknowledge, however, that a few more female heroes would be nice.)

Today, however, I had to laugh as Bill Blazes found himself in trouble and told his co-pilot (who happens to be his estranged father in this episode): "turn on the GPS Beacon so the team can stay apprised of our location."

Sure, the Rescue Heroes are always able to move from their headquarters halfway around the world to a rescue scene in a matter of moments. And last week, Commander Warren Waters was able to have a call with Ariel Flyer from the space station and then be at the high school where she was giving a safety speech just a few minutes later.

We don't really question that kind of inter-galactic and trans-continental speed. They're rescue heroes.

But having worked on numerous articles about beacons and location- and context-aware devices and services, the Billy Blazes beacon reference emerged as just such a perfect head-nod to the high-tech and mobile world these kids are growing up in!

(We don't even need to get into the cool world of tech-savvy teenage super girl Kim Possible!)

No wonder parents are engaged in these kinds of conversations with their kids.


    "Poetry is the human soul entire, squeezed like a lemon or a lime, drop by drop, into atomic words." -- Langston Hughes

July 21, 2004

Comment on Comments

Don't really have time for a full entry. Final edits on a white paper are calling me since I've got to get it out the door today so a Bristol-based team can take a look. But, I was in my blog clearing out yet more spam comments (anyone else beleaguered by them?), so I thought I'd check in just quickly.

By the way, I also took time to respond to a few comments that had come in recently. I always read them right away and am so excited to get them - and amazed that these women found my blog in the first place since I didn't start blogging with a network of friend knitters who would be pointing to my blog. I guess in each case, I found their blog and left a note, and then they popped into my blog, and we made a knit connection. It's wonderful. But I don't always email back to let them know I'm glad to hear from them. And I don't always leave comments even when I think I should or when a post they write strikes a chord. I should, and Sharon's post today was a gentle reminder to all of us. Part of the beauty of blogging is the community we're building and the friends we're making - friends who know something about us because they understand the pull of knit and purl. So take time to check in every once in a while. It's easy to get sucked into the silence and feel you're blogging (and knitting) in a vacuum.

Cloverleaf Socks
In 6 Sox Knitalong news, I'm now well into the second sock. A restless night last night allowed me to finished the cloverleaf ribbing and start the heel, so things are moving along smoothly, and I totally am ready to be done with these. They just look enormous to me. The first sock does fit - but it's not a tight-has-to-stretch fit. It's much looser - not necessarily bad, but the sock along will give me good opportunity and excuse to really figure out sizing for my socks (and I love the chart in The Purl Stitch for variable sizes/gauges/needles). It could be that I'm seeing a lot of stretch and not a lot of rebound in the Sockotta cotton. So, I'll be interested to see how they look after washing.

At any rate, hopefully they'll be finished soon.

I've got my mother coming in for a visit tomorrow (from Kentucky), so lots of cleaning on the agenda -- after those white paper edits.

July 26, 2004

Finished Cloverleafs

Over the weekend, I finally finished my Cloverleaf Rib socks - #1 in the 6 Sox Knitalong. It's amazing how having a "deadline" (with raffle entry being contingent upon meeting the deadline) for finishing proved to be such an incentive on the way to completion. Not that I think I'll win, but still, I had to get done to at least have a "chance" of winning! (Nope. I don't buy lottery tickets.)

socksSo, here's the finished pair of socks.

Pattern: Cloverleaf Rib
Needles: #2 US
Yarn: Sockotta

They turned out nice.

I'm now on to sock #2, the Making Waves sock. I've done several rounds of the 8-row cable pattern. It's going well. The variegated yarn I'm using is fairly dark, which may not have been the best choice. But I do love the colorway.

My mom's in town, so we're busy and doing a good bit of knitting, pattern talking, project planning, and even yarn store hopping - as always.


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