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March 29, 2003

Bloomington Vacation

Vacation is a state of mind and Bloomington is as good a place to be as any. It's trying to snow right now though.

Sadly, I will not be visiting Rob and Matt while here. I considered contacting them and seeing what was going on this weekend, but I'm here for such a short time that I didn't want to make knitting/yarn related plans if I wasn't sure that my kind host would be up for them. As it turns out, we were downtown today and stopped into Yarns Unlimited to look around. I bought some Sockotta cotton/wool. I'm so tempted to take the Koigu socks off the needles and start a new pair of socks. However, I won't do that because it would be against my self imposed rule. [Yeah right, like I care about some stupid rule].

I've told my host all about Threadbear and encouraged her to look into their classes and such. She's not a regular knitter, but I keep tempting her into yarn purchases. I'm going to send her their web address. Maybe I can talk her into taking a class. I guess if I ever come back I should make more of an effort myself.

The reason I twist the purls on my socks: Because of the double pointed needles and the small circumference, it's difficult for me to purl in my usual manner. For this reason, I do my purls for socks using the method described by Annie for combined knitting. However, instead of taking care to untwist the stitches, I just keep the twist. It's easier for me and has the added advantage that it keeps the ribbing from stretching too much (which is probably another reason my socks don't fall down). Try twisting the purls on the 4x1 ribbing and see how you like it.

12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 28, 2003

Just a gentle ribbing

Hi, writing to you today from cloudy Bloomington, IN. [I hate flying. I've always hated flying.] Not that I want AT ALL to dwell on this, but FYI, 6" bamboo sock needles were no problem going through security today. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Theresa asked what ribbing I use on my socks. Always, 1x1 for the very top (about seven rows) and 4x1 for the ankle and top of the foot. Also, I twist all the purls. I don't worry too much about how tight the ribbing is because I always make short socks about the same dimensions as the "fashion" socks you get at the store. They are just too short to fall down. I also like making shorter socks because I can get a pair out of two skeins of Koigu and not have to worry about running out.

Hey look! Theresa is making Koigu socks too! Pretty! Apropos of her discussion of cast ons for socks: My favorite sock cast on is the Twisted German Cast On. I've been starting my socks like this for years. I wish I could remember where I first saw this cast on recommended for socks. It's firm, but more stretchy than a regular long tail cast on; however, I haven't made an extensive study of sock cast ons.

12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

Travel Knitting

Socks!

I'm going to be taking a quick trip this weekend. CPS is way too complicated to lug along so I'm taking that ever-popular travel knitting project?socks.

I'm horrible at finishing pairs of socks for myself. I have at least five six seven pairs in various stages of completion floating around here. Along with only working on one major project at a time, I've also made a vow of sorts to only work on one pair of socks at a time.

This pair is Koigu in a colorway I can't remember. The almost done one just needs a toe. The just started one is on my new 2.25 mm (US1) Pony Pearls. I picked them up to try the last time I was at Yarns International. All of you who also visit Wendy's blog know that she uses Pony Pearls but hers are obviously 2.00 mm (US0) because they are yellow, whereas mine are teal. The needles come in different colors according to size. Too bad that the 2.25 mms only come in teal, as it sets up a potential clash with the red socks I eventually want to knit. Guess I'll have to use bamboo needles for those.

[Did you notice that they are now also selling Pony circular, aluminium, and rosewood needles? I'm obviously way behind on the latest needle news.]

I've been using 6" Plymouth bamboo knitting needles for socks ever since I snapped practically every US1 Brittany Birch I've ever touched. The bamboos are stronger than the birches, but are easier on my hands than metal needles. The Ponys are plastic with a metal core, but they actually have more give than the bamboo needles. They're so flexy that they feel like they could snap at any moment; nevertheless, I'm betting they'll be more durable than the birches. I know you are supposed to be able to send broken Brittany's back for replacement, but I would really feel like I was taking advantage of them.

[CPS Update: 12" (30 cm) of the back done]

07:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 23, 2003

Sizing Dilemma

What have I been doing this weekend instead of writing blog entries?

CPS 3.23.03

This is about 9 1/2" (24 cm) up the back. The total length is supposed to be around 28" (71 cm), or just under four pattern repeats. That seems excessively long for me so I'll probably aim for 3 1/2 pattern repeats or 24" (61 cm).

The width is 24 1/2" (62 cm) and that's for a small. I originally intended to make a medium, but 26" seemed so wide. I'm probably going to fret about this until the sweater is done. I never know what size to make things anymore.

A few years ago after a typical life disappointment, I gained a lot of weight in a very short amount of time. My body didn't feel like my own and none of my clothes fit anymore. To make things worse, none of the sweaters I had started would fit the ultra-super sized me and it seemed pointless to finish them. I was miserable.

When I finally started to snap out of the funk that I was in, one of the things that motivated me to lose weight was my knitting. I wanted to be able to finish and wear what I'd started. I also didn't want to start having to knit the only largest sizes or having to size up the designs that appealed to me. I just didn't want to go through the bother, and, it gets expensive!

I've lost about half the weight I gained but I'm still paranoid about sizes. I'm afraid of gaining back the weight and sizing myself out of all my hard work. Something that fits perfectly today could become uncomfortably or unbecomingly tight. I've always liked things to be a bit oversized, but I don't have a firm concept of what that means anymore. So now the impulse is to make things a bit too large. That isn't especially attractive either. What's more, I could conceivably get back to my original weight; which would make today's oversized really oversized.

So, there's the dilemma. Is it big enough, is it too big? Hardly an earth shattering problem, but an appropriate topic for a simple knitting blog.

"There's the wind and the rain,
     and the mercy of the fallen,
Who say they have no claim to know
     what's right.
There's the weak and the strong
     and the beds that have no answer,
And that's where I may
     rest my head tonight."

Dar Williams, The Mercy of the Fallen
The Beauty of the Rain (Razor & Tie)

04:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 19, 2003

Country Plaid Shirt

For the past couple of days I've been basking in the satisfaction of my accomplishment, but now it's time to move on.

My next project is going to be the Country Plaid Shirt (henceforth, CPS) from Jo Sharp's Knitted Sweater Style: Inspirations in Color. This is the sweater that appears on the front cover of the book; however, I'll be doing it in the alternate colorway. Here's what I hope it resembles when I'm done. [Yes, I'm back to intarsia].

Country Plaid Shirt

This colorway isn't in the book, but is on a separate leaflet and on Jo Sharp's website. I've wanted to make this sweater for a long time although I can't exactly tell you why. Maybe I think that if I make it and wear it I'll be as cute as the girl in the picture and as happy as I imagine her to be. Nah, I think it's just because I like quadrilaterals.

I'll be using Jo Sharp yarn I ordered from Mansfield Craft Den in Australia. I would label my one transaction with them a success: they were very pleasant and easy to deal with and the yarn arrived fairly quickly, even coming all the way from Australia.

A bowl of yarn

I'm not sure if you can tell, but the picture of the sweater doesn't accurately represent all the colors. The color that appears bright blue in the sweater is actually quite purple.

It's going to be hard for CPS to measure up to Kilim. Kilim was so engaging for me on many different levels. I've had this yarn for several months now though, and I've been very strict about not letting myself touch it until Kilim was finished so I'm starting out with enthusiasm. I think I will grow to appreciate this project more as I get used to it. Let's see if the reality of this sweater can match up to my conception of it.

06:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2003

Kilim (all but) Kompleted

just hangin' out in the back yard

I bought the kit for this sweater in October 2001 when I didn't yet have the know-how or the courage to knit it. Now, it's all but done and it looks great and fits perfectly. Forgive me for giving myself a big ol' pat on the back for this one. I can't believe that I own this beauty, much less that I actually made it.

I sewed on the sleeves today while watching Amelie on DVD. I finally gave in and joined Netflix. I know half a dozen people who belong and all have been pretty happy with it. Of course, it helps that their distribution center is local to the DC area. I joined on Thursday night and my first three DVD picks were in my mailbox on Saturday when I got home from K2P2 at Border's. For anyone interested, the director's commentary for Amelie is excellent. [I only wish I could understand the French version as well]. In addition to Amelie, I also got My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the first season of Coupling. I could really get to like this.

In case you've been wondering all this time just what a kilim is: Kilim.com. Everything you could want to know about kilim rugs and more, including inspiring pictures of beautiful designs and downloadable wallpapers for your desktop. [My desktop was Mut Jijim for many months]. Given my attraction to geometric designs, I could imagine many of these motifs incorporated into sweater designs. Hmm...

04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 13, 2003

The deed is done

Now open for business

I ripped out and reknit the neck twice last night; tonight, I stopped fussing and got down to business. I sewed down the neckband and cut open the front and the armholes. I still have to cut away some of the excess inside, but I've reached my limit for one evening. As hypothesized, the front bands lie flatter now and will be even better after blocking. I plan to tack down the raw edges after I make sure they are trimmed and secured from raveling.

Alli, don't let my OCD knitting practices scare you off of making Kilim. Aside from the color thing (which may be my own personal bugaboo), knitting the body and sleeves wasn't exceedingly difficult. I'm finding the bands and facings require a bit more concentration; but if you look on the website, you can see that this design can also be made quite effectively as a pullover or as a cardigan with ribbed bands and no facings. That would eliminate at least one headache.

Lookie what my fabulous friend Christy sent me.

So pretty!

She made it just for me! Thanks Christy!

The bracelet is sitting on the swatch for my next project. I'm itching to get started on something new.

06:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 11, 2003

Neckband Hell

Oh, pity me. I'll in neckband hell. This is the most difficult part so far?I?m not sure yet that I won't have to rip it out and try again, and it's very hard on my hands to muscle this thing around. At this point, it would be easier to work on the neck if I cut the front open, but I can't seem to do it.

I'm rapidly approaching the point where I'll have to cut. The front bands are on and the facings are sewn down, both shoulder seams are done, and the neckband is almost completed (if I don't have to do it again, that is). At present, however, I'm lacking nerve. [Alas].

I can't let you go without a little technical geekiness. [Sorry, Kerstin]. I was inspired by Becky's explanation of using backstitch to sew neckbands onto sweaters. I adapted this technique for sewing down the facings of the front bands. I was concerned that I wouldn't bind off the facings loosely enough, so I used the backstitch to sew down the live stitches. I'm pretty happy with the results and it probably wasn't much more work than sewing down bound-off edges.

It's kind of hard to see because it's black-on-black, but here's the result.

believe me, it looks pretty good

And here's a closeup of the bands. I think they'll lie better when the front is cut open and the edges are folded back. [At least, I hope they will].

front bands

Finally, I was reading an article today about the latest scam aimed at PayPal users when I saw this article about some of the unscrupulous sales tactics used on digital camera buyers. I know a lot of knit bloggers would like to add images or would like to upgrade from the cameras they have. As always folks, caveat emptor.

08:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 09, 2003

Front band swatch

I realize it's a bit meta to analyze whether or not you overanalyze. However, I'm not just a 'look before you leap' person, I'm more a 'look, measure, chart, and graph before you leap' type. Oh well, back to the knitting.

Thanks to everyone for all the encouragement with Kilim. You guys are pulling me through this; I'm coming down to the home stretch.

I was almost stopped cold on yesterday though. The kit comes with enough yarn to complete the design and it trusts you to use it in the right proportion so that you don't run out. When I planned my color changes, it was based mainly on what I thought would be aesthetically pleasing, although I also tried to balance the color availability. Apparently, I didn't do an adequate job because I ran out of black yarn.

I had anticipated this and used other colors in the facings, but I still ran out. When I first realized that I was running out of black, I tried to compensate by cannibalizing a small project I had from a class I took last year at Yarn International from Ann and Eugene. The class taught a braided knitting technique that they have included in some of their newest designs [Jester Jacket and Circus Sweater] and the project was a small purse. Alas, even ripping out the purse and using all the black yarn, there still wasn't enough. So, yesterday I went to Yarns International because they sell PW yarn and kits there. They didn't have any black out front [Oh no!], but Tanya mysteriously found a skein somewhere in the back [Hooray!], so now I have more than enough to finish. [Whew!]

Another way that PW sweaters differ from the norm is how the front bands are attached. Usually, you cut open the front steek before you pick up and knit the bands. For PW sweaters, they recommend that you pick up and knit the bands before cutting it open. This is because the sweaters are large and heavy and can be unwieldy if cut open first. [Wallace cut his PW sweater open first and confirmed that it would have been easier if he hadn't].

Another wrinkle for the front bands is the test swatch they have you knit. This step helps you determine the correct needle size to use for the bands and helps you position them correctly. Here's my swatch. The edge of the band will be where the last red stitches are; the rows beyond that are for the facing.

front band swatch

It looks kind of funny, but it really is a time saver. I learned from this swatch that I was using the correct needles (two sizes down from the body), but that I needed to move the bands over and that I should start the pattern right away with the pick up row.

This version of the design doesn't button, it's held closed by a pewter clasp at the neck. For this reason, the front bands should just approximate each other and not overlap. I had to move them over three stitches from what I tried with the swatch. This means that the machine-sewn steeks are too far away. Looks like I may be hand sewing the front steek after all.

This was also the point at which I realized I was going to have to do the two-handed Fair Isle technique on the purl rows and not just the knit rows. It was a pain at first, but no more difficult that the two-handed technique was on the knit side when I was learning it. Now that I've gotten to the second band it's pretty easy.

Yes, I'm knitting the facing on the second band now. Making progress. [Whee!]

And finally, in related news, Melissa pointed out that KnitPicks currently has a few PW sweater kits on sale. The other day they still had Kilim in the Hollyberry colorway, but those appear to be gone now. They still have the very purplely Night Sky available though. If you'd like to knit this sweater in purple, you can get a kit at 20% off while they last.

06:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 07, 2003

But, is it blog-worthy?

There are lots of possible reasons to skip blogging every day. As I've mentioned, some days I don't blog because I don't have the time. Some days I don't blog because I'm just too tired. I've started hauling by flabby behind back to the gym after work three days a week and I'm not used to it yet. I'm momentarily invigorated, but by the time I get home and eat supper I'm falling asleep. I have all I can do to hold my knitting or pet the cat, let alone form grammatical sentences or upload images. [Those of you with spouses and children to care for: I salute you. You amaze me].

Then, there's always the problem of content. Other people who amaze me are those who just blog. They don't necessarily have any organizing concept like knitting or food or their pets; they just blog about their lives and their everyday lives produce an endless stream of interesting topics. My life certainly isn't that blog-worthy. [Ah, blog-worthy]. Too often, I think, I?m stepping out of direct participation in my own life and asking myself, "Is this blog-worthy?"; ?Should I write a post about this?"; or "Who the hell really cares what I cooked for supper tonight?" Most often, the answers are: "No," "No," and "Your mother," so I decide the blog can wait another day. Maybe something blog-worthy will happen tomorrow.

[Yes, I know, I tend to overanalyze].

Other days, the blog-worthies come in a flood. Lately, I've let several things go by without comment because my schedule and energy level have conspired against me. I still want to talk about all the progress I've made on the front bands of Kilim, I'd like to talk a little more about the latest issues of Knitty and Knitter's, and a handful of other things (pretty much all knitting related).

This weekend, at least, there will be a Kilim update.

09:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)