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July 31, 2003

Frogging my day away...

For the two of you who have never heard of frogging in the context of knitting: to 'frog' is to unravel large portions of your knitting in a rather quick way--you 'rip-it, rip-it'. [har, har, ugh].

Sometimes frogging is necessary or advisable when things just aren't going right with a design or a yarn, or when we just can't bear to complete some despised project. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either torture or liberation.

It can also be great fun to frog something to which you have little attachment in front of a non-knitter and watch the horror spread across his or her face. If at first they marveled at you creative handiwork, they will boggle at its seeming wanton destruction.

Frogging came to my mind today in a completely different context. I spent many hours today calibrating equipment in the lab with another postdoc before we realized that one of the connecting cables wasn't completely plugged in, thereby invalidating an entire day's worth of work. It was as if my workday had been frogged back to its cast-on edge and I was left with nothing. [sigh]. Tomorrow, we'll have to start over from the beginning and hopefully get it right this time.

No frogging in my knitting though. I've started the first sleeve of Mandalay and I'm also trying to make progress on the tumbling block afghan again. The afghan is a gift and needs to be done by the end of August, so I'm going to have to make sure I spend a little time on it every day, even if I would rather be working on Mandalay instead.

08:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 30, 2003

Crocheted Seams

Melissa asked if I would show how I did the seams. I tried my best to take pictures of the second shoulder, but it's very hard to capture the process single-handed.

Step 1: Insert the hook through corresponding stitches on the front and back pieces. Make sure you insert the hook into the stitches and not merely into the bound-off edge?that's where I went wrong the first time.

Step 1

Step 2: Pull a loop through from the back. Use the hook to pull the loop on the left through the loop on the right.

Step 2

One stitch made. Repeat Step 1.

Rinse. Repeat.

Here's the finished seam. It will flatten out more with wear.


Just to be completely obsessive, I used different colors for each segment.

More ends to weave.

I hope this helps.

09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 28, 2003

How knitting ate my Sunday...

Yesterday I was loving Mandalay, today it almost drove me crazy. I have redone one of the shoulder seams four times.

Originally, I cast off the shoulders as directed [well, almost as directed: I used short-row wrapping]. I haven't cast off shoulders in a long time, preferring a three-needle bind off most times. I used a crochet hook to slip stitch the seam together for the first shoulder and it looked precisely like ass. So, I ripped it out.

I ripped back to the start of the shoulder shaping and tried again. This time I tried keeping the stitches live so I could do a three-needle bind off. I also wrapped short rows. Once again, ass. [This option really only failed because there are stripes involved].

Try three: live stitches, no short-row wrapping. Result: ass.

Attempt, the fourth: back to casting off, this time slipping the first stitch at the turn to minimize any stair steps. Also, back to slip stitching with the crochet hook, doing what I probably should have done from the beginning and inserting the hook just a bit further from the edge. The result is something I can live with. [Or, the result is something with which I can live].

Time for the second shoulder and my Sunday almost gone.

Interweave Knits Fall '03The new Interweave Knits came in the mail last week [First issue with the new editor, Pam Allen]. Although at first glance there is nothing in it that makes me go, "Wow!"; it doesn't make me want to weep openly the way Knitter's does either.

There are some interesting articles, including one on geeky knitting that mentions June Oshrio's DNA cable scarf, the mathematical knitting at Woolly Thoughts and Cliff Stoll's Klein Bottle hat. [I will point out that Knits made mistakes in the web addresses for both the scarf and Woolly Thoughts. Really, how hard would it have been to have tested them?].

The most probable design to end up on my 'to do' list from this issue: the Short-Row Striped Pullover by Fiona Ellis; however, in a completely different colorway.

09:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 26, 2003

Pity Party

Ok, the pity party is over...for now. Don't feel too bad if you missed the invitation, this event occurs semi-regularly. I think my birthday self-analysis went too far. Once the festivities were over, I crashed after the birthday cake sugar rush.

Thanks, Emma![A cup of tea with lemon for Emma].

But really, I do bill myself as a pessimist, so what can you expect?

In that vein, have found the perfect t-shirt; although those of you with a more upbeat perspective may prefer the alternative.

[ is pretty interesting in general. And, she saw the same freaky clouds formations in the Chicagoland area on July 8th that Bonne Marie did].

I also came across a reference on a knitting-related list to a company that it looks like I ought to invest in. They sell an appropriate coffee mug for the likes of me.

Progress on Mandalay has been substantial. It's completely addictive. Dishes have gone undone and laundry basket is looking pretty full. Just one more row and then I'll stop. Really, I will.

Why won't I knit the sleeves from the shoulder down? My first reaction is, "Because I don't want to and you can't make me!" Not the height of logical reasoning, I know.

Actually, I'm not completely convinced that I would be saving myself a lot of heartache by doing that. Knitting set-in sleeves from the shoulder down is on my short list of knitting techniques to learn, but this just isn't the time or the project. [I haven't started to research how to do this yet. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to start?]

Second, and some of you may not think that it matters, knitting from the shoulder down will make all the motifs upside down. No one will notice, you say. If no one can see it on a galloping horse it doesn't matter, you say. Well, I don't ride horses, galloping or otherwise; I sit very still for long periods of time, giving me lots of opportunities to contemplate the minute details of my knitting. Deep down, in the depths of my twisted, obsessive little soul, it would bother me. [ETA: I say this because of the gauge. At a smaller gauge, I can deal].

Dixie, to answer your questions: as written, the afghan is 15 pattern repeats wide with a six stitch border on each edge (192 stitches). This makes the afghan approximately 39" wide (20 sts & 24 rows to 4" on US size 8 needles) . The pattern calls for eight 100 gram balls of Plymouth Encore. The finished length is supposed to be around 59", but I just knit until I run out of yarn. This doesn't really seem like a "full-size" afghan. Certainly, you could make it any size you like. It's up to you!

10:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2003

It's official!

Am currently the most boring person alive! Oh wait, that's not very exciting news...nevermind...

09:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

The fix is in

I promised I would give the update about how I (potentially) solved my Mandalay dilemma.

As I said, I brought my problem to the excellent knitters at K2P2 at Border's on Saturday and solicited their opinions. The options discussed for lengthening the body were to add above or below the bottom row of motifs or under the armhole. I chose to add about an inch to the bottom striped section.

First, I removed the bottom row of the striped section, placing the live stitches back on the needles.

the separation

Next, I knit six new rows onto the bottom section. Then, I grafted the whole thing back together, reinserting the row I had previously removed.

the joyful reunion

It's hard to see, but the join is a single green row above a pink stripe.

The consensus also was that the armhole could benefit from additional depth. That raises questions of how to deal with the sleeve cap to compensate for the modified armhole. Phyliss helped me cut full-size mockups of the upperback and sleeve out of newspaper so we could see how the sleeve is eased into the opening and where the extra length would end up. [Thanks so much, Phyliss! I never would have thought to do that, but it really helped me see what was going on].

I added an extra inch to the top of the shoulder and I think I understand where the sleeve will also have to lengthen. We'll all see if that's true soon enough because I can't stop knitting it.

Altogether, I added two additional inches to the body length. I think this will be enough. The sweater will still have a slight cropped look, but will now fall just below my waistband instead of just above it—much more comfortable for me.

Here's a closeup of the flower motif. It's a mix of intarsia and stranding.

flower power

09:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 20, 2003

Birthday Recap

You guessed it, Friday was my birthday. Thanks for all the birthday wishes.

My birthday is my time for yearly reflection and seeing where things are going—even moreso now because last year I defended my dissertation (successfully) on my birthday. So, how are things going? Ok, I guess. How are things compared to where I was at 21 and where I thought I'd end up? Not even close!

[Yes, I knew how to knit at 21, but wouldn't pick it up in earnest for several more years].

I get so caught up in how I think things should be and agonize over all my decisions, but I've hardly made a decision in the last 15 years that I still regret. Maybe I have for awhile, but life sweeps it all along and evens it all out to the point that I can't mope too much about the past [especially when there's always a new 'crisis' on the horizon!].

I had a great day. I took the day off to spend how ever I wished. I started the day with laundry in a completely empty laundry room [what luxury!] and a present sent to me from my friend Christy from the Red Envelope.

A gift!  For me?

I had this pretty little box sitting on my desk at work for a week. I was so good and kept it unopened until the day. Inside was this flirty little silver necklace. Now all I need is a little black dress and someone to take me out for cocktails.

Thank you!

The bracelet is my birthday gift to myself. I got that at the gift shop of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery where I went to see Lightscreens—the exhibit of the leaded glass windows of Frank Lloyd Wright—before it closed today. I also took myself out for lunch and went out for beers and supper with friends. All and all a very good day.

Yesterday, I met up again with my friend Jenny, who was visiting from Indiana, so she could give me a present.

Super sock!

I've made several pairs of socks for her, so she returned the favor. I think this is only her second or third pair of socks. She was afraid that I wouldn't like them, but I think they are terrific. Isn't the yarn great? I think it's Opal, although I've never seen this particular colorway anywhere else before.

I also went to the monthly K2P2 meeting at Border's. I think this was the best attended meeting for months, which is somewhat ironic considering it's the middle of the summer. I brought Mandalay and consulted with everyone about what to do. Based on the advice I received, along with the opinions I got here, I decided on a course of action that I've already implemented. More on that in my next post.

09:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2003

This girl...

Happy Birthday to me!

...was starting her Senior year in college.
...had just decided not to go to med. school
...had just had her heart seriously broken for the first, but not the last, time.
...worked out at least an hour a day.
...drove very fast and never got caught.
...worked in a factory in her home town over the summer.
...was getting ready to move into an apartment for the first time.
...wore blue eyeliner.
...could not cook anything.
...was me on my 21st birthday.

[What could I say about the last 15 years?]

05:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 15, 2003

Good News/Bad News

Good News: Genia sent word of a sale 'til this Saturday at Yarns International.

Bad News: There wasn't enough of any one color of to make anything I already had in mind.

I have been trying for weeks to find some yarn for Sitcom Chic that wasn't Cotton-Ease. [I don't have any good reason to reject it. I haven't even gone to the store to check it out]. One yarn I thought I would consider is Mission Falls Cotton because I like the color palette and I think I've seen it as a successful substitution with this design.

Good News: Jennifer brought out the Mission Falls in living colour pattern book and we found the Mandalay Cardi as a possible multi-color design. I didn't like the colorways of either the Mandalay Cardi or Vest, so we picked my favorite colors to come up with a better colorway than either in the book.

[top row: sea (402), chili (201), moss (304), musk (200); bottom row: lentil (204), pebble (103), merlot (208), coral (201)]

my own colorway

Bad News: I spent way too much on yarn...again. [This wasn't the only yarn I bought].

Good News: I love knitting with MF cotton. It knits so fast and feels so soft.

I started on Friday night and all but finished the back tonight. [The shoulder on the right is done].

Mandalay back

[It's hard to get the colors right in the artificial light. The colors on the balls above are more accurate.].

Bad News: I'm uneasy about the size.

It's the size it's supposed to be (22.5" width at bust; 18.5" length). I realize it's supposed to be cropped, I'm just not sure how I feel about cropped.

I've been thinking about what to do next. So far, I've come up with a few possibilities:

  1. Separate the bottom at the lower striped section, add in about an inch of rows, and graft the bottom back on. That would mess up the spacing of the body increases a little, but probably wouldn't be noticeable

  2. Lengthen the armhole. The current armhole depth is around 9.5". However, because it's a set-in sleeve, any changes will have to be accounted for in the sleeve cap and I'm not sure about the best way to do that.

  3. Follow the pattern and get onboard with the whole cropped vibe.
Anyone have any opinions or suggestions?

10:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 13, 2003

Pure & Simple

As requested, here's a picture of the almost completed Pure & Simple cardigan.

Pure & Simple

All it needs is buttons and probably won't get any until some brisk day next fall when I'll want to wear it. Then, I'll have to make an emergency trip to the button room at G Street Fabrics. More likely, I'll wear it for months without buttons.

Don't make me move, I'm helping

So you don't miss it, I'm including a comment left by Sharon on my July 5th post about Ann Sinclair's Fair Isle knitting.

Here's my 2 cents from MS. sinclair. Really a nice lady! She has been knitting since age 7 using the super long double points and attaches one needle to a belt around her waist to keep that needle stable, which she then knits onto. (it's weird you can't see that from the picture because she said she couldn't knit any other way!)I asked her about books of traditional patterns- she said there are really none on the market, that the samples you see in your pictures that are predominately red are the true fairisle- and the traditional x and o design is what you would expect to see. I thought it was amazing that her sweater designs come from the maintenance of the x and o design rows and she takes them off of a set of sheets of graph paper that she has designs jotted down on. also the thing I thought was most "sad" I guess was that until the 1950s most people knitting sweaters in fairisle never owned their own work-- the sweaters were too dear and had to be used for income.
Very interesting. Thanks, Sharon! [BTW, you'll notice I was wrong about the knitting belt].

After a week off, tomorrow I go back to yoga class. I'm excited, but a bit nervous, because I'll be moving up to Level I/II; I'm no longer an absolute beginner [yay!]. We'll see how sore I feel on Tuesday. By the end of the last session, the class was kicking my butt; however, the first five weeks of Level I one focus heavily on basic good alignment and I've taken that level twice now. As much as I feel I still have a lot to learn, I'm ready to be challenged by more than standing straight. Actually, Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is a pose I regularly practice throughout the day. Once you start paying attention, it's surprising how often you catch yourself slouching and leaning.

10:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)