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August 2004 Archives

August 1, 2004

One Down....

One more to go... mom visits that is. My mom left last night. We had a super week. Tons of knitting, a couple of yarn store visits, a trip to the boardwalk in Santa Cruz where the boy got to ride his first kiddie rides and I, despite the clouds, walked away with an unexpectedly red nose and forehead, the obligatory-but-fun trip to Pier 39 here in SF, painting of car-laden coffee mugs at Terra Mia (a local paint-your-own ceramics store), general mall and bookstore shopping, plenty of LEGO building, and lots of knit discussion, gift-list making, and I'd-like-to-make this and that list making as we passed around the baby and the boy. We even racked up several finished objects... let's see, with the three of us combined, I think we finished 8 scarves, 3 hats, and 1 pair of socks, and all of us started several other things just to see how certain yarns were going to work up. No, we didn't finish huge projects, but it's pretty easy and relaxing to sit and knit on a mindless fun and fuzzy garter stitch scarf that you can pick up any time you sit down while company is around versus something you really want or need to pay more attention to as you knit.

making wavesAmong other things, I was working on my Making Waves socks (from 6 Sox), and they're turning out nicely. I don't think I want to continue the cabling down the foot, necessarily, but I don't mind working the cable pattern at all. Mom and M, however, kept laughing and rolling their eyes every time they saw my cable needle - which to them far too closely resembles a toothpick!

They both prefer working on big needles and projects that offer instant gratification. I like things a little more complicated. But, it's funny... I don't mind cabling my socks, but when it came to rolling my skein of Chili Pepper Fluff yarn from the Great Adirondack company and ran almost instantly into some major knotting (and three apparent ends, which yes, meant there were four), I was not happy. M, on the other hand, took over the rolling and unkotting. It took well over an hour, maybe even two, but she sat there until it was all neatly unravelled and loosely rolled (since our experience with Fluff shows that it crushes). (I remember one weekend when she must have spent 10 hours working on rolling a hank of chenille that had knotted badly. Me - it'd have been in the trash an hour in!)

fluff scarfMom and M both made Fluff scarves when Mom was here in February after the baby was born. The yarn really is wonderful and soft and comes in amazing colors. It's also fairly pricey at around $30. My hank of Chili Pepper was a surprise from M sometime after the baby, and I just hadn't ever started it. So, I pulled it out and, once rolled, several hours later had a new scarf - which I proudly sported the next day at the Pier. The fiesty red/pink colorway was super combined woth my soft red jean jacket (even if you could only see part of it peeking out above the Baby Bjorn).

During one of our yarn shopping trips this week, we were talking to a shop owner about Fluff, and she told us that Splash by Crystal Palace works up similarly (at a fraction of the price). We both bought some - with gift scarves in mind, and both of us made a Splash scarf last week. It did, indeed, work up very much like Fluff. Fluff has a slightly softer hand, more rayon shine, and a bit of a lighter feel, but they are very close when finished. So, it was a good yarn find. One of the colorways mom picked up was a super baby pink variegated. I'm hoping that one is for me for Christmas!

The other mom comes for a visit in another week...

August 2, 2004

Yukon Hat

I guess it was last year... Every Christmas, we head "home" to where my mom and brother (and his family) live. One of the things we always do is hit a local yarn store sale there that happens the day after Christmas. It's not a "great" yarn store for someone who lives in a big city like we do, but it's not a bad store either. It's actually yarn and craft - needlepoint, cross stitch, etc. Still, they have a good bit of yarn and lots and lots of samples. When we all decided to make felted bags last Christmas, we picked up plenty of Galway and WookPak there as well as our first quantities of novelty "fuzzy" yarn to work with in the trim.

While browsing, I saw a great hat they had made up as a sample. It was knit in a bulky yarn and had a roll brim out of a fuzz/fur yarn. The sample was adorable - and I liked it because it was not felted. I asked about the pattern, and it turned out to be something the shop owner had adapted from a free pattern they hand out. So, I took the pattern and her general words of wisdom and headed out.

fuzzy hatThe yarn has been sitting in stash ever since, but it's been in a "possibly-soon" basket (versus the basement). And, at some point in the last few months, I rolled the fuzzy yarn (Sirdar Funky Fur) into three balls in preparation for working on the hat.

Last week, the Yukon and the Funky Fur got their chance. After a mis-start when I tried the brim with "just" the three strands of Funky Fur rather than with them and the Yukon (as I said, it's been a few months, and she gave me really general directions, which included "I used three strands of the Funky Fur"), things were on track. I diverged from the basic pattern a good bit, casting on a few less and then reworking the entire decrease section my own way. But the gist is the same.

It's a very cute little hat, and the Yukon was super to work with. The fur brim isn't for everyone (of course), and I tend to like more of the skull cap look and less bulk. But in this case, its just adorable.

It would be such a cute hat for a little girl - or even for a baby gift (sized down appropriately). Not that I have any little girls to knit for though! Two boys of my own - and one nephew. Ah, well, preschool at the Co-Op starts in Septemer, which means a huge fundraiser auction is in our future, so we're going to be knitting lots for that. Maybe I'll take the opportunity to indulge in some more "girly" knitting for that. (No feminist comments needed. I bought the rainbow bright Lorna's Laces the other day because the boy loved it. I'm thinking vest but may downgrade to matching hats for both boys. So, we push color limits around here for sure. Still, there just "is" a limit to what you can make for a little boy sometimes!)

In blogging about this hat, I had a moment of pride that I'm doing such a good job this year working from my stash. Then I reminded myself that I've made several yarn store trips recently and ordered a box-load of sock yarn from Carodan Farms (all because I saw a link to some new Regia Jubilee fair isle yarn they have that is hard to resist, and since I was ordering I figured I might as well try this and this and that). Plus, I have a list of Koigu to order for my first C. Web (see other post from today). You all understand, I know.

In my defense, I was down in the basement just last night pulling skeins as I try to decide what color scheme I want to use for a new vest I want to make. I didn't get far, however. I got overwhelmed by the possibilities and am just not sure where I'm headed. I left my first pass at colors on one of the rockers to evaluate today. But I may have to spend more time in the basement before I settle.

Mom Wants...

Charlotte's Web is finally "really" on my radar. I've been sort of addicted since I first started blogging and saw so many people working on it - and saw so many wonderful combinations posted on Rob's BlackDog site. But, I kept putting it off - partly because I couldn't decide on colors. Partly because I know it's not 100% practical while the baby is so little.

But then I showed it to my mom. She, like me, has never been a shawl person. However, she, like me, is a color person. She loved it. She wants it. She doesn't want to make it though. She wants me to do that. So, while part of me thinks it might get even less use in her house, it's on my agenda as a possible holiday gift add-on. So, we did some color looking so that I could get a sense of what she was liking. I didn't expect it, but it turned out she liked many of the same color combos I liked. Pretty funny.

So, I'm going to be picking up yarn for that soon and getting it started. In the meantime, I'm going to be scouring the blogs for tips and trips. It will be my first lace project.

Beaded Markers?

Anyone tried the beaded markers which you see around these days? I've seen them on web sites and in catalogs. But we ran into them in a LYS the other day, too. There, they were $40 for non-sterling and $90 for sterling. Yes, we had to catch our breath, too. Being creative people and having lots of beading experience, we know that um, that seems high. Still, they were pretty. But what we were wondering is how practical are they? Do they not "catch" on your knitting or get in the way? Just wondering if any of you have tried them...

August 3, 2004

Help for my Secret Pal…

Secret Pal 2 is in full swing, and it's funny all of us out there trying to find out a little more about our pals as we figure out what they might like and what makes them tick. It can feel like a giant fishing expedition, for sure!

One of the best approaches to "helping" this situation was a post I saw at Mindful Moderation. Lynn did a wonderful "about me" blog which gives her secret pal (and her blog readers) a well-rounded glimpse of her. It's great.

I don't know that I'll be as prosaic or witty, but I did promise my pal that I'd do an "about me" entry to try and help fill in the gaps.

This isn't an "I want" list. Instead, it's more an attempt to put on paper some of the things I like when it comes to knitting so that my pal has a sense of who I am.

It's interesting that there are so many gaps. Even though we blog regularly about our projects, and our lives, likes, and interests slip in, it often seems that our blogs don't reveal as much as we might think they do. Something I'll have to ponder and analyze more later. (The ex-academic and postmodern theorist side of me is into "meta-blogging" - or blogging about blogging.)

So, me (in no particular order)…

Partly, I'm analytical and orderly. Those traits play into my work as a web developer and technical writer. I'm among those rare people that find beauty in a page of code.

Mostly, I'm a creative type. Creative threads are woven throughout everything I do, even those things that seem analytical. I'm a knitter, a writer, a designer, a wanna-be watercolorist, a needlepointer, and more.

With my last pregnancy came an unexplainable love of the color pink. Right now, I'm also loving lime, olive, reds, oranges, and purples and lavenders. Here are a few colorway snaps I saved when considering Charlotte's Web combos. They give a sense of the kinds of colors that really capture my interest these days.

me me
me me
I can't resist the colors of Koigu. They are just so beautiful. The only thing I've actually made in Koigu, however, is a baby hat that I started while in the hospital with the baby in February.

I knit all kinds of things… hats, scarves, cardigans, vests, sweaters, socks.

I made my first felted bag last winter (a Fiber Trends design) and love it. I've got yarns to make another bag in grays and pinks with a cool gray/pink novelty yarn around the top - and hopefully lots of pockets. It's on my to-do list.

I haven't ever knitted a tank. Maybe next year.

I've never tried lace, but I'm getting ready to.

I've never made a shawl, but I'm getting ready to.

I am currently getting back into socks since I'm knitting along with the 6 Sox group. Maybe I'll use my left-overs to make socks for the baby.

I love Lucy Neatby's sock designs.

I like cables. I like ribs. I like fair isle. I like circular knitting.

I don't love working intarsia.

I love Sally Melville's "tweed stitch" pattern from Sally Melville Styles. I started a cardigan in it once but didn't finish. It's still on my "to do" list. This time, however, I'll make it much smaller than I started it out last time.

When working on straight needles or double points, I prefer bamboo. However, when working in the round, I tend to prefer Addi Turbos. Even with socks, I tend to cast on with DPNs in bamboo and then switch over to two circular Addis after a few rows.

I like classic looks and styling. I love Rowan designs, particularly Kim Hargreaves. I've always been a fan of Debbie Bliss, Jo Sharp, and Mission Falls.

I probably won't make or wear anything from Hot Knits, but I really like Hip to Knit, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's in Hip Knits.

I'm supposed to be on Atkins, trying to shed more post-baby pounds. But I do seem to have developed a real weakness for chocolate.

I love little bags to store knitting accessories (markers, tape measure, needle sizer, etc.) in. Mesh bags, see-through bags, bags in bright colors… doesn't matter. If it's a little zip-up bag, it's cool.

I love little books to keep track of my projects, to-do lists, etc.

I love pens in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

I love knitting paraphernalia.

I'm a big de-caf coffee drinker.

I tend to buy yarns that both feel good and catch my attention in terms of color.

I like self-patterning yarns. I love Opal. I like novelty yarns. I like wool. I like handpainted and variegated yarns.

I bought fabrics to make myself needle rolls, but I haven't made them yet.

I'm a mom of two boys - 3 1/2 and 6 months.

That's a start.


August 5, 2004

It takes a village…

I am looking forward to seeing a full photo of the crocheted Hannan shawl completed by Stella (She Who Knits) in Berroco's Zen. It does take 8 skeins, making it steep. But the stitch work looks beautiful in her closeup.

I'm not really considering a crochet project right now. I've got my hands - and I-want-to-make lists - full with knit projects. But, the photo (and color) caught my eye, so I thought I'd share.

(While you're visiting her site, don't miss these bags. Evidently quite a rage given the number of sites with how-to information.)

Several months ago, I got really interested in a yellow shawl Jessica Simpson wears on MTV's "The Newlyweds." Some poking around on the web underscored that there is/was lots of interest in that shawl, and several claiming-to-be "similar" patterns appear in various places. (It's crocheted, too.)

Ironically, this shawl obsession pre-dates my awareness of Charlotte's Web, so I guess my interest in Simpson's shawl just blurred into my fascination with Charlotte.

There's always another project! (Which is partly why it amazes me how many knitters I've seen who've made Charlotte and plan to make another.)

As for Jessica's shawl(s)… I was flipping through a-few-weeks-old copy of Us magazine the other day. A friend started giving me her week-olds when I was in the hospital with the baby and then continued when I was sitting up all night nursing and rocking in those early weeks. Then, I was devouring them. They were perfect fluff for the all-nighters when I was too bleary-eyed for whatever book I was in the middle of reading. Now, they're sort of piling up. But occasionally I grab one and give it a cursory look to sort of "catch up."

simpson shawl

Anyway… in the last one I looked at, I caught a half-page snippet on how Jessica Simpson has "saved a village" by wearing her shawls (designed by Cecilia De Bucourt and retailing for around $200 each) on the show. According to the article, Simpson's single-handedly created an "economic boomlet" in Florencio Varela.

An interesting fiber-flip on the "it takes a village" sentiment.

(Update: In her comment, Stella posted the pattern information for the Hannan shawl. It's from Berrocco book #218 "etc, etc" . Thanks, Stella!)

Secret Pal 2 Shopping...

After a relatively frenzied day working on a firestorm project (one of those that everyone knows about for weeks in advance but two days before it's got to be live no one has sent me anything and then it all comes in last second), having my SMTP server down so I could get but not send mail, and juggling the boys, we escaped for some light shopping, errand-running, and fast food.

I needed to return buttons to Jo-Ann's that I bought as "possibles" for finishing the Cascade Skye cardigan a few weeks back. I bought the same button in two sizes because when I stopped in to pick out buttons, I couldn't decide what size I actually needed. So, I've been carrying the too-big ones around in my diaper bag to return. (I do still need to take pictures of the finished cardigan. But, ummm, first I do need to actually get the buttons sewn on! It's boiled down to a blocking issue. I just haven't found the right amount of hands-free time and gung-ho ironing energy to get the cardigan blocked so I can put the buttons on and call it really finished.)

So, I returned the buttons and then did a bit of poking around for my Secret Pal 2 person. She hasn't given me a lot of info to go on, and I'm feeling the "age divide" keenly, but I still have lots of ideas about what I'm going to be mailing her way in small packages. So, I picked up a few things.

In my quick browsing (boys asleep with M in the car), I ran into these:

children's needles

They're "children's" knitting needles, size 10 US, from Lion Brand. Do I have children of an age to learn to knit? No. Do I think I'll ever use these myself? No. Do I like plastic straights? No. Did I have to have them? Yes. Are they just too cute? Yes.

I just couldn't resist. I think they are so darn cute that I couldn't imagine not having them at least poking out of a pencil holder on my desk. And, just maybe, one of the boys will find them fun to learn to knit with one of these days. (Although it seems to me that brightly colored wood with a fun topper would be a better choice than plastic? But maybe the plastic really is lighter. I haven't taken them out of the packaging yet.)

After picking up odds and ends, we grabbed a bite to eat. Then, on impulse, and despite it being late, we headed to another favorite has-everything store. My Secret Pal 2 person racked up! I found lots and lots of goodies and had a great time.

August 7, 2004

More threads of me...

It seems I left out some things (could we ever write it all and really sum ourselves up in an entry or two?)…

I am a San Francisco transplant.

Before that, my post-grad work took me (and partner) from Kentucky to Louisiana to Maryland.

Before landing in SF and joining the then tech boom, I was a stone's throw from finishing my PhD in Feminist Theory and 20th Century Postmodern Women's Literature.

I'm in high-tech, but my cell phone is currently being held together with Scotch tape, and I've never sent a text message.

I read a lot, but probably more SF/fantasy and less highbrow fiction than I should.

I'm a member of 30-Something Knitters

I haven't traveled widely, but I'd love to visit Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France, and Greece for starters.

A friend of mine recommends 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and just got back from Iceland herself.

I like the idea of mountain (or rock wall climbing), but when it boils right down to it, I'm not really the "outdoorsy" type.

I don't camp. I don't do bugs. Bright sun makes me sneeze.

I like fog.

I love the ocean - especially Maine's rugged and rocky coast.

CD's currently in my car shuffler: Shrek soundtrack (boy's favorite), Joan Osborne's How Sweet It Is, an Eva Cassidy compilation, Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach, and the soundtrack from Mona Lisa Smile. Most frequently switched in: a favorite Celtic instrumental.

(I love Celtic things and can imagine myself wearing a plaid and wandering the moors.)

I love LEGOs and Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars.

I look at this staccato list (and the earlier one), and there is still much left out. But "about me" info adds a lot to our blogs. So often we read blogs and are not even able to determine the author's name.

I look forward to finding out more about the authors of the blogs I frequent as they blog for their Secret Pals. It benefits the whole knit blogging community.

By the way, I'm Amy.

August 9, 2004

Going for Gauntlets…

While I think they are cute, I'm not much of a gloves person. They always make my fingers feel clumsy and encumbered. Mittens are almost worse because I feel lost without the ability to use my fingers as separate entities. Of course, when visiting in the winter, I break down and wear one or the other. But for a while now (years), I've thought that fingerless gloves would be a good choice for me. There was always something else to make though.

This year, Savannah Chic Knits pointed out (and then made) the Hooray For Me Gloves which are interesting from a technique standpoint as well as because they use cool self-patterning yarn.

Inspired, fingerless gloves moved from a tiny itch in the back of my brain to the to-make "this year" list.

So, the idea has been simmering when…

Out of the blue, M. says that she'd really like fingerless fingerless gloves. That took me a minute. So, she wants fingerless gloves, but ones with no finger holes other than for the thumb.

Fingerless mittens, I believe she called them, which threw me because mittens are fingerless.

(I now know that what she wants are gauntlets.)

To confirm that was what she was talking about, I grabbed Knit Mittens!: 15 Cool Patterns to Keep You Warm off the shelf (it was the first mittens book I spotted) to see if there were any fingerless gloves or fingerless mittens in it. To my surprise, there are. I don't like the execution of the ones in that book, but I figured the pattern would give me a sense of the shaping and so on.

(At that point, I didn't realize gauntlets are a really hot commodity these days, so I was figuring I'd have to "figure" out/modify/adapt an existing pattern to match up to what she wants.)


A few days later, I was flipping through The Purl Stitch and, lo and behold, there were super cool (and elegant) gauntlets staring up at me from the page.

In Koigu no less!


That's exactly what she was talking about - just shorter. She really does want them to be similar to mittens, just with the fingers cut off.

I sat down and looked over the pattern last night. It will be easy to pick up the pattern at a lower (closer to the wrist) point and start from there. Now we're just waiting for a box of sock yarns to arrive (it's been a LONG time since I ordered, and I'm doing major toe tapping now since it was the first time I'd ordered from this retailer) so she can decide if she wants the gauntlets in a self-patterning sock yarn she had me order or if she wants Koigu (of which we have many to choose from).

I'm excited about starting them - and hope she chooses Koigu.

Not that it really matters. I've got several Koigu projects coming up anyway.

I ordered a selection of Koigu colors over the weekend so I can finally get started on my first Charlotte's Web shawl. I picked up a few other skeins Saturday at Knitting Arts in Saratoga after seeing on Sequin K's blog that they'd received a large shipment of Koigu.

They did have a pretty good supply. Could you have found five skeins for a Charlotte's Web along a common color theme/scheme? Maybe. I didn't. But then I was looking for something specific in terms of colorways, and I also knew I could log on and order specific colors from an online retailer (at a better price even). So, it wasn't like I "had" to choose from what they had.

Still, I picked up a few skeins. I've been gathering skeins in a pink/red theme for the last few weeks as we've ventured from one yarn store to another to make a cardigan modeled off of one from an old Rowan magazine I have. Once what I ordered over the weekend arrives, I should have enough to finally plot it out and get it started. I'm really excited about that project. More detail once I get the final shipment.

At Knitting Arts, M. bought a bag of various yarns and made a really wonderful scarf over the weekend. I was good and stuck to my Koigu - since my to-make list over-runneth (especially with the major yarn shopping we did while Mom was in town). But the one thing I did pick up that is super cool is a set of gray handles. One of the projects I'm preparing to start is a felted bag (with many pockets - I am, after all, a mother of two) in gray and pink wools and a grey and pink novelty mix. I tend to be a long strap person, but I couldn't pass these handles up, and I think they'll work great on a the tote.


They also had a pair in a chartreuse that I loved, but the gray ones really do go with the yarns I was already planning to use. A perfect match, and a lucky find.

(Speaking of inventory… I am much more likely to order from an online retailer if I can see what they have, know that the colors I choose are in stock, and know that what I've ordered will be shipped out quickly. I wish, wish, wish more online sources offered up-to-date inventory.)

August 11, 2004

Needs fringe

M. finished another scarf last night in a yarn called Blossom. It's very soft and snuggly and pretty with different colored bobble-like fibers running throughout the soft blue background. I keep telling her she needs her own knit blog. She has a blog, but she doesn't keep it very up-to-date, partly because I think she isn't talking about knitting in it! We'll see if I can convert her from thinking she needs a serious (read: business) blog to realizing that a knit blog would make her happy.

I almost finished an Eros scarf I'm working on in a wonderful almost stained glass colorway. It's primarily red with stained glass blocks in the ladders. I intended it as a holiday scarf for me. But M. is in love with it. So, maybe it will be for her. Let's see, she wants that and gauntlets and socks. Geez. And we don't usually make each other things.

I did finish the scarf, technically. But I'm adding fringe and didn't get done. The oldest boy (who started pre-school this week) woke up upset and mumbling about "not want[ing] to play games." I think it's been a week of a lot of change for him. So, my fringe pieces are scattered all over my rocker, but it's an easy-to-finish project.

I have read other bloggers who hate knitting with ladder yarns like Eros. I made my first one in the Spring and enjoyed it. I liked making this one even more. I used a smaller needle this time and cast on a few more (since my other one got really skinny and long once I put it on and wore it for a day). At any rate, it's easy knitting and a nice "switch-off" from the Making Waves socks that I keep sitting by my chair.

August 12, 2004

Secret Pal 3

Wow. I am still trying to wrap my mind around what to give/send/buy for my Secret Pal 2 person (I really want to be a "good" pal), and I see reference to the fact that sign-up for Secret Pal 3 has already begun. Yikes! To think, I could have missed it if I hadn't stumbled over the info today while reading someone's blog and searching for Charlotte's Web tips/tricks/hints in anticipation/preparation for my Charlotte yarn and pattern arriving hopefully soon. (Date-wise, it looks like it will overlap Secret Pal 2.) More info here...

I think I should rename my blog the "parenthetical slash" - I use both a lot!

August 15, 2004

Postcard from Australia!

I got an email from my Secret Pal on Friday saying that a package was in the mail and would take x amount of days coming from Australia. Yes, Australia! Way cool. I was all excited just to learn my Pal is from such a beautiful place, and it was my first clue that she's not from the US. (We're so US-centric, it's awful.) THEN, in the mail that afternoon, I got a postcard from her. (And, yes, I'm assuming it's a her based on our exchanges so far, the "voice" of her email, handwriting, and so on.) She says the postcard is the first of a series of "cheesy tourist postcards" from Australia. Cheesy? No way. This is very cool.

Even the stamp is beautiful! (I'll add pics later.)

Thanks, SP2!

August 16, 2004

Seeing Rainbows

A few weeks back, I picked up some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in the "Rainbow" colorway. A fan of rainbows, tie-dye, etc., it caught my eye, and then Matthew said he'd really like a vest out of it. I was skeptical of that since he is notorious for refusing to wear what we make. (The Love Bug vest I recently made both boys is the only knitted thing other than a hat that he's willingly worn since he's been old enough to care what he wears.) Still, I walked out with two hanks and let ideas of "what" to make simmer.

LL rainbow

Since great minds think alike, and since we are very similar in many things, M. bought two hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Rainbow" on the same day. (The color changes appear much more quickly in that one - or appear to - so on the hank, they do look very different.)

We decided to make family hats (we love that sort of thing). I'm going to make Matthew and me hats out of the bulky using the "Canadian Hat" pattern from The Purl Stitch. M. will make Spencer and herself hats using the worsted and some yet-to-be-determined pattern.

So, after debating over the pattern, which uses the same number of stitches worked at different gauges to achieve different sizes, I decided not to swatch, figuring that if it worked up smaller, it would fit Matthew (who has a huge head), or if it worked up bigger, it would be for me, and I would adjust needle sizes for hat #2.

Well, that's a good theory...

LL rainbow hat

But after working several inches and then checking to see what my gauge was in the garter rib, it turned out I was working at 4 1/2 stitches per inch. The pattern calls for 15, 14, or 13 over 4 inches. So, even for the smallest size, my gauge was way off. It wasn't a huge surprise. LL Bulky says on the label that it works up at 3 1/2 on 10's. But the pattern works a "bulky" yarn on 8's (for the largest size), so that is what I was using. (Conversely, the pattern works a light and a worsted yarn [held together] on 10's for the largest size, which seemed odd. Seems like whether you use a bulky or the two worked together, you should be using the same needle size to achieve gauge. I think my yarn on a 10 would have been the right choice.)

So, gauge is off.

I put it away for the night so M. could confirm the bad news for me in the morning.

She did.

I pulled it off the needles.

We then tried it on. It's plenty big enough for all of us.

The only thing I can figure is that the pattern uses a much bulkier yarn. The pattern does note that a bulky yarn is worked tightly for the hat, making it warmer. My LL isn't feeling really "tight" at this gauge even. So, a bulkier yarn worked tightly might not have much stretch, and the LL worked up still has a lot of stretch, so it's fitting fine.

Yep. I then sat and picked all the stitches back up on a half dozen DPNs so that I could work it back onto my circular.

I'm just going to keep going and see what happens. The fabric feels great at this gauge, so if the fit works, that's what matters in the end!

Don't worry, you'll hear what happens one way or the other.

August 17, 2004

Sentimental Vibe

There's been an unusual vibe in the air...

M's mother is in town. It's her first visit to SF (though we've lived here for almost eight years). So we've been doing some of the typical touristy things, which put us at Pier 39 on Saturday.

In one of the souvenir shops, we were checking out Beanie Babies while the mother-in-law picked up a few things.

As an aside, I used to be a huge Beanie collector, back when they were hard to get hold of, worth a lot of money, and so on. I purchased my first one while we were vacationing in Ogunquit, ME. It was a lion. It was the only lion they had. It was in my hands when a little girl started telling her mom she wanted it. Yes, I bought it anyway. The only thing I can offer in my own defense is that I didn't have my own kids then.

Unfortunately, the realities of our smallish house in SF and the addition of one and now two little boys put my Beanie craze into perspective. There are now bins of them in the basement in hopes that maybe someday they have value again. On the other hand, Matthew has gotten interested in them over the last year, so my interest has to large extent shifted from collector-level to mom-level interest. Tags get torn, cut, bent, and it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they are cute, adorable... you get the picture.

Since he started liking them, several more have made their way into the house (some new acquisitions; some that he's hand-selected from the ones in the basement), and I've started looking at them again when I see them as we're out and about. Even if we don't have space for them, I still find many of them just so cute. Which leads me to the strange vibe in the air...

First I found a magenta wooly mammoth, which is very cute, and hey, you don't see a "mammoth" every day. Then I found "Zeus the Moose." It's a great name, anyway. But the birthday for Zeus is the date that was my grandmother's birthday. So, Zeus was a must-have.

Then, we go into Studio 56, which has holiday decorations, and I'm immediately captivated by a glass hummingbird ornament. My grandmother collected hummingbirds. She loved them. They're pretty, but none of us love them in the same way. So, none of us continued the collection or adopted it as our own. I don't think I own anything with a hummingbird, in fact. They're pretty outside, and we have them in my backyard. But I don't crave hummingbird "things."

But, this hummingbird was speaking to me. I had to have it for sentimental reasons.

Two things so closely tied to my grandmother in such a short span of time seems strange.

And then, to top off the day, I dropped everyone off at home, nursed the baby, and then ran out to pick up In n Out burgers, Krispy Kremes, and a Happy Meal for Matthew. As I'm pulling out of the In n Out parking lot, I glance up and see an owl perched on top of a parked Krispy Kreme truck.

Though driving, I did a doubletake.

The owl turned its head, and I saw the brightest yellow eyes I've ever seen.

It was surreal seeing it sitting there just watching.

I don't know how it's related to the other things, but somehow it was the right touch to end the day.

Fringed Eros

I posted last week about finishing up the second Eros scarf in the stained glass red yarn. I'm back again with a few pictures.

The scarf did turn out very pretty, and though I'm in he minority, like working with the Eros. I end up knitting a tad slower to be sure to catch both sides of the ladder, but it's a rhythmic process, jut as if I was working with some other sweater-weight fiber.

These pictures aren't great. I'm sure a red cabinet is not the best backdrop for a red scarf, but I was taking other photos the other day so had a chance to snap this.

eros scarf

It's the first time I've added fringe, and I like how it turned out.

Here's a closeup of it (doubled) while it was still on the needles. This image gives a better sense of the texture, but still the color is off here, too.

eros scarf

August 19, 2004

Completed Rainbow...

The first Canadian Winter hat in Lorna's Laces Bulky Shepherd, color "Rainbow," is now complete. It's really adorable. I didn't get a good picture of this on Matthew yet. He wasn't being a willing model. He was more than willing to wear the hat - just not to let me snap a photo. So, here it is, modeled once again on the red cabinet:

ll rainbow hat

It's really adorable, and I loved the I-cord finishing on this pattern. You can only see half of it in this photo, but you end by working two separate I-cords (off of the remaining stitches of the hat), fringing them, and then knotting the I-cords at the base. Very cute, and it's nice that it's all integrated - nothing extra to seam into place when you're finished.

The hat fits Matthew great, despite the gauge issues. I've cast on the second hat (ostensibly for me) with 10's this time. A picture of the second of our family of rainbow hats will no doubt grace the site soon.

Icelandic Lopi

I mentioned that a friend of mine recently traveled to Iceland for vacation and to soak in volcanic pools. As a souvenir from the trip, she brought M and me back two skeins of Icelandic Lopi in a wonderful tweedy blue:

lopi lopi

It's a great color, the company's logo has a volcano on it (shown above), and it's just overall cool. It will be wonderful either worked into a larger project or for hats.

Thank You Secret Pal 2

The forces directing the mail carrier looked down on me today and smiled. For the last week, I've been awaiting a package of Koigu for my first Charlotte's Web. It didn't come, and it didn't come.

Today it came!

But, even better... a package came from my Secret Pal 2 in Australia.

I tore open the package to find a cool special "Scarves" issue of Creative Knitting, an Australian knit magazine (perfect since I'm still in such a scarf craze and can't seem to find my way out) and a bunch of individually wrapped packages. Here's what the ensemble looked like:

secret pal gifts

(I am proud that I stopped long enough to get the picture. I wanted to open everything immediately, but I was so amazed that my pal took time to wrap and ribbon-tie everything that I had to get a blog-worthy shot of the package contents!)

After taking the photo, the unwrapping began. I felt like a child at Christmas as I opened up a beautiful set of handmade beaded markers (which I had just recently been blogging about), a gorgeous beaded shawl pin (again, perfect because I'm starting my first shawl - and I was recently given a Scottish wrap in my family's plaid, so the pin is perfect for that, too), chocolate biscuits called Tim Tam's (which I fully intend to try tonight while watching Olympic gymnastics), and a box of Eucalyptus incense cones that smell wonderful (and made the whole package smell great!).

secret pal gifts

secret pal gifts

secret pal gifts

I feel really lucky to have such a super Secret Pal 2. Obviously, she's read my blog and taken into account the kinds of things I'm doing, liking, and contemplating. And, it's really special that she made the beaded markers and shawl pin herself. I love them. They are really beautiful!

Thank you Secret Pal 2!

August 21, 2004

Blog Spam

Checked email today to find over a dozen spam comments. So frustrating. So time-consuming to clear them out. Following a tip from The Keyboard Biologist, I had been looking into MT-Blacklist recently. I even had the directions for installation still up on my screen this morning, so I finally got on the stick and installed it. If you're a Movable Type user and don't have MT-Blacklist running, you might check it out. Here is to spam-free blogging... hopefully.

August 24, 2004

Rainbow Hat Cont'd

Work on rainbow hat #2 has progressed quickly. I haven't worked on it steadily because the Charlotte (progress/experience to be blogged) has had my attention, but I was able to pick the hat up for a while yesterday and finish the garter ribbing and get the shaping started. Of course, starting the decreases for the crown meant switching to DPNs, which meant finding five (the pattern is written for five, and the decreasing is pretty brainless if you follow along that way). Unfortunately, I've been in a 'losing' things phase - probably partially caused by our sporadic clean-up-before-company-comes routine which inevitably means things get tucked away in never-to-be-found-again locations.

Searching through my handy Vera Bradley case that holds my DPNs (too bad they stopped making this style a few years back since it's perfect for DPNs) didn't turn up any 10's on first pass. Rifling through the cup of recently used needles on the end table by my rocker turned up 2. So I knew I had a full set - which made not being able to find the others even more frustrating. A more thorough dump and search of the Vera case turned up 2 more I had missed on my initial look. Still 1 short. I continued to look, but never did find needle number 5. I found an abundance of 8s and 9s, and even a new set of 10 1/2s, but not another 10. In the end, I ended up splitting the round onto the four DPN 10s and the 10 circular I'd worked the rest of the hat on.

Not the most elegant of solutions, but it works. The decreases are speeding along. Hat no. 2 should be a wrap soon.

Matthew loves his. However, little boy love can be tough, so as he was swinging the hat by its tassels the other night, a few strands of fringe came out.

It was a good thing to see. I'll try and get mine more securely attached!

August 26, 2004

Starting Charlotte

As I mentioned last week, the additional Koigu I'd ordered to choose from for my first Charlotte's Web shawl arrived last week. I was torn between two colorways for this one (which is to be a gift), so I ordered yarns in both. After much debating and playing with various colors, M. and I finally picked out the five to use for this first shawl. It's going to be really beautiful. Unfortunately, I can't show you the colors because the recipient (my Mom) also reads my blog. She knows I'm making it (or she probably assumed I would since she asked), so I'm not giving anything away by blogging about the process. But I don't want to show the colors and ruin the surprise. Black and white will have to do for now - and will add extra suspense to the project.



The pattern arrived with the yarn, so I got my first look at what I was getting myself into. I admit it took me a while to wrap my mind around the pattern. What confused me most was which color was on the bottom. After reading it many times, I thought I had it. But I also thought, having never worked lace or made a shawl before, that I was starting at the bottom of the shawl (at the apex of the triangular shape), partly because you start the pattern with 7 stitches, so somehow my head was equating that with the bottom point.

So, I picked out my colors accordingly and got started. About 15 rows in, I realized I'd lost a stitch (or forgotten a yarnover). At that point, I was trying to follow the "written" pattern rather than the chart. The pattern has the first handful of rows written out stitch for stitch, and I was trying to follow along that way. I kept losing my place, however, and my eyes kept straying. It's no wonder I lost or forgot a stitch. Those first rows went quickly though (they start with only 7 stitches), so it wasn't a big deal to pull them out and plan to start over.

What happened when I pulled them out, however, is that it was clear that the starting point was not the bottom of the shawl as I'd assumed. Instead, it's the top. Because that is the smallest section of color when you look at a finished Charlotte's Web, it does make sense, and of course you have to work "out" rather than in, and, yes, in my initial confusion, I had noted that there are no decreases, so you couldn't be working bottom up. I was just being obtuse, I guess, and looking at the photograph was interfering with my brain's understanding of the construction.

But watching the triangle flop into place after the stitches were free of the needle, it was clear which end was up, and I couls see how the color bands would arc around the row already completed forming the nice triangular bands of color that make Charlotte Charlotte.

So, my colors had to be reversed, meaning I had to roll the yarn I'd pegged as number 5 and start with it instead of number 1. Messing up at row 15 turned out to be a fruitful and fortunate mistake.

I got started again, and once more I had to rip out after about 15 rows. I'd been working on it in the car on a rare trip when I wasn't the driver, and I'd again lost or forgotten a stitch.

So, out it came again.

Things went more smoothly after that - meaning I was more careful!

The first 26 rows are in the first color, and those went easily and quickly. I switched over to using the chart. I was a little wary of that since I don't have a lot of chart-reading experience. But it's very easy, and now I can't imagine reading and following the "written" directions again!

The next 26 rows use two colors, and those also went smoothly. I was, however, scrambling to find markers. Well, to find small markers, specifically. I found a ton of larger markers. Why I have so many big ones, I don't know, but every bag and pouch I checked turned up large ones. But I couldn't find any small ones. I've been searching for days now and just making do with the larger ones. In my head I could picture the small boxes of red and blue marker rings I used to buy. Now I mostly have organge and lime safety-pin style ones, but they all seem to be bigger.

So, I worked along with the too-big markers, planning every day to make it to the store to pick up some smaller ones. (I finally found some of the missing small ones last night. Not enough, but enough for now.)

I threaded in a life-line, as recommended on many sites I checked, and that worked well, too, except a few rows later I realized I'd caught every marker in the thread! When I moved my life-line up later, the same thing happened again.

Yeah, I was running the needle through the marker and just not thinking through that the marker was then "caught." Last night, the little one fell asleep in my lap and I got to work 6 rows and moved the life-line up just as his power nap was ending. This time, I went around the markers, so they should be free and clear.

So far, I love the pattern. The lace is not difficult, and the chart reading is going like a breeze now that I'm 50 rows into it and familiar with what is happening with the lace panels, how the repeats go, and so on. The rows are, of course, getting longer now though!

Stay tuned for more black-and-white photos!

August 30, 2004

Small scale; Big job

Not much in the way of photos to show today, but there are a number I need to post.

On the knitting front, I finished the second rainbow hat (and now think I'll make a third, which I'll explain in another post), started Koigu gauntlets for M., and worked a bit on my second Making Waves sock for the 6 Sox knitalong (I really want to be working on a new sock, not a second sock, but that's the nature of sock knitting for me). So, there is a lot to blog, and a lot to show.

But, it's not knitting that has taken center stage over the last few days (and probably most of this week).

Instead, we have spent every free minute over the last few days renovating the dollhouse for my son's preschool.

This isn't just any dollhouse either. It is huge - somewhere in the range of 4 ½ feet (h) x 4 ½ feet (w) x 2 feet (d). Just huge. And it was a total mess when we got it home - paper peeling, tiles broken and coming up, ratty carpet, bad colors, the list goes on.

Fixing it up is a great project for the two of us. We don't have girls, but M. loves to build (she built an amazing Ferris wheel for a play I directed many years ago) and has always had an affinity for dollhouses (which I don't share), she has a small business making the most beautiful hand-decorated books (perfect for knitting, so I'll have to show you sometime), so repapering the insides is up her alley. For my part, I do decorative painting (someday the floor to ceiling armoire in the dining room will really be finished, but you should see pieces like the 5 foot birdhouse cd holder which I painted to match a wallpaper border we used in our living room, and the medieval magnetic office door). We both sew. And, we both have a Mary Engelbreit sensibility when it comes to design and decoration.

That's just the beginning... This really is a perfect project for us.

However, M. seriously underestimated the amount of work fixing it up involves.

The school is a co-op, so we will work off 5 hours of our required maintenance work (for the year) on this project. The reality is, however, we will likely have put in 60 or more hours by the time all is said and done.

It took us the better part of three days to strip off multiple layers of really ugly wallpaper, paint, adhesive, tile, and carpet. The remaining framework is still uneven, nicked, and chipped. In my experience, a coat of primer can work miracles, and casts a fresh light on what you've got to work with.

But even primer didn't make me feel optimistic about this dollhouse.

I think we could have started from scratch and spent less time and money and come out with something amazing in the end.

(I guess I am too much of a perfectionist. It is hard to work on this knowing that it can only be 'so' good no matter how much we do to it because it's intrinsic 'bones' are only 'so' good.)

M. spent hours yesterday cutting moldings for the windows and installing new flooring (hardwood and wood laminate so far). I finished priming the exterior and painted the ceilings. Luckily we have around 30 containers of odds and ends paint in the basement from other projects (and I have probably a hundred or so small plastic bottles of acrylics for detail work), so while we did spend far too long debating colors (and I'm still not 100% happy about the ultimate decision), we didn't have to buy new latex.

Typing it here, it doesn't sound like such an overwhelming project. But I know it's down there in the garage - where M.'s car is usually parked. It's waiting patiently for a new coat of paint and some Mary Engelbreit-esque trim. It's waiting for new paper and fresh color. Hopefully the TLC we are dispensing will breathe fresh life into its old bones and at least one little girl or boy's eyes will light up when it greets them back at school next week after the break.

Stay tuned for a photo essay chronicling the transformation!


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