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« December 2002 | Main | February 2003 »

January 31, 2003


I wore Checkers to work today and got every knitter's favorite questionable complement: 'Wow, that looks great; it doesn't look like you made it at all!'


01:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 30, 2003

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who shared an opinion about which sweater I should finish next. It looks like the winner is Kilim; although several people suggested that I keep working on Cables & Lace as well?if only as an occasional change of pace. I think that sounds like a mighty fine plan. Now, let's see how long it takes me to get distracted by something else.

On Tuesday night, I went to the Knitting-N-The-City meeting at the Savory. A TV crew from the neighborhood cable channel was there to interview us and film us knitting. Have you ever tried to knit while someone is filming you? I found it disconcerting. When the camera was focused on my hands I seemed to have trouble maintaining fine motor control. [Pay no attention to all those stitches sliding off the needles, I really do know how to knit].

The interviewer spent time talking to almost all of us individually?getting the stories of our projects, how we got started knitting, and why we still do it. I know I said something. I think I was using full, grammatical sentences. I have no idea what I said.

When the interview was over, they got some close-up shots of my knitting, the pattern, and my home-made color charts for Kilim. That was amusing; it seemed like the cameraman spent about five minutes just getting shots of the stuff sitting on the table in front of me.

Also, at some point during the interview, I flashed the inside of the sweater and the interviewer was truly fixated by the facing at the bottom of the body. I hated to have to tell him that the interesting striped pattern was only there because I was afraid of running out of black yarn. I think he was hoping for something a bit deeper than that. [Secret knitting rituals revealed! Film at 11!]

what does it mean?

03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 28, 2003

Woo Hoo!

Checkers is done!

Woo hoo!

However, I must be the anti-Wendy, because I've been working on it since November...

...of 2001.

I admit, in the intervening time I did knit my first Fair Isle sweater, completed two afghans and lots of socks (all gifts), and got 2/3 of the way through a Philosopher's Wool cardigan [there was also that pesky doctoral defense]; but I really am determined to be a bit more resolute in my knitting. Having so many open projects is stressful, and I do not knit to add to the stress in my life. This is going to be hard for me because I love the promise and excitement of starting a new project. Even now, I have the yarn for for two tempting new sweaters staring me in the face. But,

Maybe you can help me out. Right now I have two sweaters in the works?Cables & Lace and Kilim (the Philosopher's Wool). Which do you think I should finish next?

Here's the progress on Kilim. The body is worked in the round so I'm almost ready to start the steeks for the arm holes. [I had a picture of Cables & Lace a few days ago].


09:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 26, 2003

Magazine Reviews

Last Saturday when I was at Border's for K2P2 I couldn't resist picking up a few knitting related magazines?the second annual edition of Knit It! and the Winter 2002 edition of Spin-Off.

Although Knit It! is geared toward novice knitters, I found enough interesting bits in it to convince me to buy a copy. At least some of Knit It!'s appeal should probably be credited to Nancy J. Thomas, the former editor of Knitter's magazine and now the Editorial Director of Lion Brand Yarn (the magazine is a collaboration between Lion Brand and Better Homes and Gardens).

Some of the interesting bits include...

...a photo of the exquisite and extravagant knitting needles available from When you've bought all the yarn your heart desires and still have money left in your knitting budget, how about a pair of rosewood needles with glass bead tops ($44)? Or how about ebony with fresh water pearls ($58-68)? [Truthfully, I covet ebony circulars]. excerpt from a new book coauthored by Nancy J. Thomas and Ilana Rabinowitz, A Passion for Knitting. I would almost buy this book, sight unseen, on the strength of Ms. Thomas' involvement alone. The excerpt is from a chapter on the history of knitting. At the end is a list of other books that discuss parts or all of the history of knitting.

Read some reviews or buy at

  • Simon & Schuster?see the list the contents or read an excerpt (includes charity knitting patterns)
  • Needle Arts Book Shop
  • Armadillo Needlecraft
    [Do I really need another basic knitting technique book?]

    Now, as an aside...

    The list of knitting history books at the end of the article includes The History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt. This book has been out of print for awhile but will shortly be reprinted by Interweave Press and will have a new forward written by Meg Swansen (read her review). Being back in print may bring the price for this formerly rare find down some; but at $40, I still will probably be looking for a used copy. [But, $28 at Amazon].

    Back to Knit It!...

    ...projects that interest me: a felted flower tote, a very simple cardigan, and an Aran-inspired jacket.

    Even though My First Cardigan is a very basic pattern knit in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, I see it as having some potential. It's just basic enough that a non-designer like me could use it as a jumping-off point for getting a little creative. I could come up with some fun ways to jazz it up with embroidery, different colors, or simple patterns. Moreover, this sweater is introduced in the context of an excellent mini-tutorial on sweater assembly and finishing. The techniques covered include mattress stitch, 3-needle bind-off, and button hole placement.

    Finally, this issue also has an introduction to cabling and a pattern for a cable sampler afghan.


    The other magazine I bought was Spin-Off. I don't spin; I bought this magazine almost entirely for the pattern for Sideways Garter-Stitch Gloves. These could make for a very engaging and challenging project. [There is garter stitch grafting involved].

    OK, I've rambled enough.

    06:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    January 24, 2003


    Once again, I'm motivated to post by Alison. The topic this time is knitting needle holders. I've meant to post a few pictures of the beautiful one I received for Christmas from my friend Jenny. She did a great job. Up to now, I don't think she's sewn anything much more complicated than drapes and pillow covers.



    I have to point out that the fabric is little batik kitties. Hee!


    I am awed and intimidated by sewing?I think I have used a sewing machine exactly once in my life. Both of my older sisters received sewing machines for high school graduation, but I got an electric typewriter. [I've always been the family oddball]. I still have the typewriter; although don't have much use for it. Right now, I can think of plenty of uses for a sewing machine (including sewing steeks).

    10:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    January 23, 2003

    Poking Along

    I must have been completely delusional last month when I blithely stated that I would finish up Checkers the weekend before flying off for vacation. What was I thinking? Here I am, a month later, still poking along. Oh, I'm making progress, but it's glacial. I pick it up for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, but I can't stayed focused much longer than that. It's easier to work on Cables & Lace; the pattern is simple and repetitive, but not at all boring. As a result, in the past few days I've gotten 3/4 of the way up the back.

    Sort of bland to look at...

    sweater back

    but very soothing to knit.


    03:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    January 21, 2003

    Oh, Bother.

    Oh bother, I can't seem to post about anything that someone else hasn't just talked about. Go read what Marilyn has to say about the 'magic loop'. [If this happens much more I'm giving up].

    06:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    Modified Magic Loop

    Alison noticed the nifty new link button on the right. That was made by my very talented friend Christy. We kept each other sane in graduate school until she left to explore other opportunities and eventually co-founded Daisy Soap. I love their soap and use it exclusively. Some of my current favorites are Vanilla Oatmeal, Oatmeal Lavender, and Autumn Clove. I'm also never without a tube of their Peppermint Mind Your Own Beeswax Lip Balm. Ooh, and right now they have Special Valentine's Day Gift Sets.

    Also prompted by Alison: In her blog entry for today, Alison says that she had to stop working on the adorable Dale bug sweater she is knitting because, after casting off for the neck steeks, her circular needle is too long. Until she can get a shorter one she's going to start working on a new project. Hey, I'm all for starting new projects, but if you are ever stuck in this situation and you can't wait or just have to finish, you can use a trick that has been rather enterprisingly dubbed 'The Magic Loop' method by Sarah Hauschka. Ms. Hauschka has written a 20-page booklet on how to use one 40" circular needle to knit a range of circumferences [I've seen this booklet advertised several places including here and here]. Here is a close-up of the method in action (from the second link).

    I've never actually seen this booklet, but I am using a variation of this trick in the project that I hope to return to after Checkers is moved out of the 'pending' column. I've got the body and two sleeves of a Philosopher's Wool sweater on three different length US8 circular needles. I've had to resort to knitting one of the sleeves on a 32" needle. To remove some of the extra length, I've drawn up a loop of the needle's cable between two stitches well ahead of the stitches being knit. [Notice the loop is twisted].

    new loop

    I continue to knit, getting closer to the loop on the left,

    working along

    until all the stitches are knit. I then pull up another loop somewhere down the row and repeat.

    almost done

    [Note: I cannot seem to get these colors to come out anything like they look like in real life].

    As they say on the list servs, YMMV. I'm sure this isn't as polished as Ms. Hauschka's presentation; but then again, you didn't have to pay $8+s&h for it either.

    05:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    January 17, 2003

    Mattress stitch seams

    This afternoon I'm going to the K2P2 knitting group at Border's Books in DC/Friendship Heights. We meet the third Saturday of the month at 4:30pm somewhere on the second floor. Sometimes they have us in the back, wedged between the computer and business books; sometimes they have us at the top of the escalators, nestled in the the cookbook section. If you are in town please stop by, I'd love to meet you.

    Another knitting group that I regularly attend is Knitting-N-The-City at the Savory Cafe in Takoma Park. That group meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7pm. Look for us downstairs. This month a TV crew from Takoma Park's Channel 13 will be there to interview us. [Yikes!]

    Last week, Daria was asking about the possible advantages of mattress stitch over backstitch for seaming. When I assembled my first sweaters I exclusively used backstitch. As I executed it, it was never quite right. Either I would pull the stitches too tight and produce an inflexible and puckered seam, or I would leave it too loose and the seam would gap. At some point, I learned how to use mattress stitch for seaming and find that it produces a strong, yet flexible seam that is virtually undetectable.

    I also like that mattress stitch is done with the right sides of the garment facing you. Another problem I had with backstitch was splitting the yarn while sewing because I couldn't see what I was doing. It was either that or constantly having to stitch flip check flip stitch flip check flip...

    Finally, I find that I have the most success with my seams if I include a selvedge stitch. There are many kinds of selvedges available—simple and decorative—but I almost always use the garter stitch selvedge (knit the first and last stitch of every row). [I really should play around with some of the other possibilities and expand my repertoire]. Before beginning a new project, I check to see if the pattern allows for a selvedge stitch; if it doesn't, I add two cast on stitches to the number called for in the pattern. At the arm holes, I make sure to maintain the extra stitches and continue the selvedge edge all the way up. [The pattern for Checkers included selvedge stitches].

    Here's an attempt to show you the side seam of Checkers.

    seam outside

    Here's the inside. [I don't have the yarn ends from the seaming woven in yet].

    seam inside

    10:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    January 16, 2003


    synchronicity: si[ng]-kr&-'ni-s&-tE, sin- (noun)
    1·:·the quality or fact of being synchronous
    2·:·the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality -- used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung

    01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)