Why this journey?

I've been retired now for over a year. Husband has been sick but is now doing quite well with new pacemaker. I continue to knit and knit and crochet. Recently I became friends again with my sewing machine so you will see some of those projects, too. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mail Arrived!

The title sounds like something a retired person would cheer about, as an event to break up an otherwise tiresome day.  Not so for this RP (retired person.)

The mail brings a regular supply of used books I order from Abe Books.  Love that site.  Lots of used book sellers in one place; thorough reviews of both the seller and the book; customer service is grand.  So I buy from them a lot -- especially knitting books.

I use my knitting books a lot.  I enjoy searching out the best way to execute a particular technique.  Patterns are always fun to browse and dream about.  Finishing a garment has its special challenges so the books help in that area.

Here's the newest volume I've added to my library.  It's from 1993, author is a Spanish woman named Montse Stanley.  Great details on all techniques from beginning to finishing.  I especially like the section titled "For Beginners in a Hurry."  That way the eager learner can get started right away, minimizing what can be the intimidating aspects of knitting.
Montse Stanley -- a really great handbook.
If you're just getting started, go to Abe Books and buy a used copy.
The one in the picture is 'gently used.'
Nancie Wiseman is a knitting expert I turn to for details on finishing, lace, cables, entrelac, etc.  Here are two of her books I use a lot.

Big Book of Knitting is another great one, as are two magazine volumes I've had since the 70's.  The mags are from Mon Tricot  (which I think means My Knitting, in French, and the French-speaking readers can correct me.)  Great books of stitches and specialities like pockets and v-necks and buttonholes.  You probably never imagined that two needles and yarn would require so many books!
Big Book of Knitting (Buss) with a very famous reprint
from Elizabeth Zimmerman, "Knitting without Tears."
And there's Nancie's book again, the best book ever
for finishing techniques.
Here's one of the two volumes I have from the old
Mon Tricot.  Notice it includes crochet also.
Oven alert!!!  That's what I get for believing I can multi-task.  Almost burned a batch of cookies.  They're chocolate with mint chips and ooooh so good.  Can you smell them?  Chocolate dough comes, not from that awful dry cocoa, but from melting butter (1/2 cup) with semi-sweet choc chips.  Too wonderful for words.

More on the books -- 

A must-have if you're going to try Lace Knitting.
In this volume the charming and talented Jane Sowerby
explores and explains the early knitters who put patterns into print
during Victorian days.  Jane collects those beautiful ideas and stitch patterns
into a collection of perfectly wonderful lace shawls and scarves.
BTW:  The photography in this book is worth the cost of the book.
Alexis Xenakis, of XRX is the picture-taker.

Start your own library today.  Knitpicks usually has 40% off on some collection of titles.  Interweave on line always has a sale on patterns or books.  And never forget to browse your LYS (local yarn shop) to see what new thing might not have made it to the used book category yet. 

If the Santa in your life asked you to give some ideas -- what's better than a good knitting book.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swatch 15 -- Fancy Cable

Other knitters probably all get this question, especially from non-knitters:  "How long did that take you to knit?"

The answer is seldom precise or satisfying; knitters that I know don't keep a journal of the minutes and hours they knit, but of the projects and its recipient, as in "scarf for Dad, 2008, his 65th b-day." And with a closet filled with UFO's -- those cast aways waiting for attention -- it's nigh on impossible to remember the projects, much less the time you spent on each one.

In this case, though, I can say that Swatch 15 took 2 hours.  And that included some time spent writing down the pattern (a requirement.)  So here's the 2 hour swatch:  a couple of Fancy Cables, each one a mirror image of the other.  Notice how the ropes/cables twist in opposite directions.
Can you see the twists and in opposite directions?

This swatch is the one that allows me to choose my own cable.  So I searched my reference books and stitch libraries and found a couple of candidates.  TKGA instructions listed at least 6 'boundaries' on the choice of cable, 'demanding' that I get two of the cable pattern across a row of not more than 32 stitches.  This greatly reduced the options.  

Reading closely I discovered I could use an original design, as long as I explained this fact.  So I used Potter Craft's 6-Stitch Fancy Cable which used 9 stitches (don't even ask for that reconciliation!) and decided to take another 9 stitches, do the same cable but twist everything in the opposite direction.  Mirror images!  Here's the book and a closeup of the swatch.

You probably won't be able to read the text, but wanted to show you what a knitting reference looks like when it's well-used.  This page shows the text, the chart, a picture of the cable (and isn't that one nicer than mine, groan), and a sticky note with stitch count, and if you look very carefully some ball point pen notes right in the text.  If you're a buyer of used books this one would come with the comment: some tiny notes on a few pages.

Today I will bind off the last row (get rid of all the stitches in a way that prevents unraveling of the entire piece of work.)  Swatch 16 -- yes 16, not 15 -- introduces colors, so at least the pictures will have more appeal.

Speaking of colors -- we're still all gray and foggy here.  I'm pulling out Christmas decorations slowly.  Each window along the front of the house has battery-operated flickering candles to light the way for the Holy Family to reach our hearts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Horseshoe Cable (Sw 14)

Now we're having some knitting fun!  I know, Knitting Geek excitement that surely doesn't measure up to your own choice of great entertainment.  But I liked working this one.  Cables are intricate and require some tedious stuff every now and then, which breaks up what can be monotony.  Swatch 15 will be really fun since I finally get to choose my own pattern.  More on that after I finish Swatch 15.

Here's Swatch 14, called a Horseshoe Cable.  If you look closely (and assuming my photographic 'skills' show the pattern) you can see twists and turns that together look like the hoof-prints of a horseshoe.
 Hoping you can see the knitting that looks like horseshoes.

The background in the picture above is one of my favorite books.  It's a reference book, a how-to volume, that I turn to frequently to help me refine my skills or learn a new one.  Over the years I've compiled a bit of a library (read:  tooooo many patterns and I won't live long enuf to make all the items).  I've cleared a shelf in my office -- taking away all the paid-work reports and booklets and handouts and filling the shelf with my knitting references.  More later.

Here's a shot of the instructions for the cable.  Hopefully you can see the coded language.  I hope, at least, that you can see that the instructions are written row by row.  And each row's instructions are different from the one before.  You may see odd numbered or right side rows with one set of instructions and then  all the even or wrong side rows with different instructions. This is good news, really good news, because it means that all the complexity takes place when you're knitting on the right side and you can relax and take a bit of a break when every back/wrong side row, where -- introducing new knitting lingo -- you knit the knits and purl the purls. 

The contrast is abysmal, but it's all copyrighted (see that in the footer?)
so it's really better if you can't read it so well.
Same pattern is available in any one of several dozen stitch dictionaries.

Well, it took me longer to explain than it takes a knitter to read the instructions and notice the complexity and 'take a break' nature of the pattern.

Another life lesson here:  It often takes longer to explain a life choice than just to step forward into life and proceed.

Weather Icon:  gray clouds, heavy rain.  I must find some icons for this.  Good day to be inside and knit.  I'm listening to a time-travel story where historians from 2060 travel to the Blitz and Dunkirk.  Really quite entertaining.  Connie Willis' Blackout.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lace Shawl is growing

That's the thing about lace knitting.  It keeps going and growing.  You keep knitting until it's the size you want.  If the shawl is in the shape of a triangle, keep knitting.  If the shawl is a rectangle, keep knitting and soon you can wrap the fambly in warmth, or yarn bomb your neighbor's garage.

In case you don't remember a previous post, here's the lace shawl when I began -- well after a day or two of knitting, during which time I got used to the pattern, etched it onto a memory chip in my brain.

It's just a little bit of a thing here.  I think this is still the first ball of yarn.
In the beginning were a few rows.  The Triangle Shawl
begins at the bottom point, the one that will
hang down the back.
Now it's big enough to put on the bamboo pot on the deck.  I missed the sun yesterday for the foto (read disappointed) but still, it's an outdoor shot, which means it wasn't raining.

Now a few more rows, enough so that the shawl
embraces the pot, the way it will soon
embrace the wearer's shoulders.
As you might have already guessed, I still have a ways to go.  That's the thing about lace knitting -- it grows and grows, which means lots of knitting.  I haven't counted the stitches on the needle lately and truthfully will be happier in my ignorance.  Every row gets new stitches (adding stitches, remember that from previous posts?) so by the time the triangle has 'matured' it's carrying beau coups stitches, as in the hundreds.  I'm about ready to begin the THIRD ball of yarn.  

Lace knitting is a quiet time to meditate or listen to a book.  But first you have to learn and memorize the pattern.  Like life:  develop a few good habits and some days go more smoothly than others.  For example, no speeding tickets or fewer kitchen spills or more joy from choosing the right thing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cable fun and Fixes, too

Do you remember when you were in school?  You studied, read, made notes and wore out your brain doing the assignments.  Then, to give your brain a rest -- and thinking you deserved it -- you picked up a novel, or celebrity mag/rag, or maybe even the newspaper.

Knitting's like that, especially this Master Knitter Designation thing for me.  I read instructions, cast on, knit, follow the instructions, knit, bind off (cast off) and call it 'good to go.'  Then, like school, I decide to check my work and discover  I can't turn this in for anybody to see; it's wrong.

So here's my treat to myself -- Swatch 13, a simple cable stitch.  Though I confess I'm challenged with  (or over thinking?) the instructions.  It says to repeat the 4 rows in the pattern til the swatch is 4 inches long.  I'd rather knit another row so I don't have to finish with the cable, but they said 4 inches.  So 4 inches is what they'll get.  Here tis, along with a close-up so you can see the cable, which looks like a heavy rope, or 'line' in marine language.
Running up the middle of the swatch is a cable.
It's made by actually twisting the stitches as you knit.
You store a few on a separate little needle, called a cable hook.
Then you knit a couple of stitches from the left needle and
then you back-track and knit the stitches from the little hook.

A close-up of the cable.
But before I had fun with the cable, I fixed two of the swatches that were wrong.  And -- major groan -- i went back to check my work, like a good student, and -- yes -- discovered a couple of other swatches that are now on my do-over list.  

Here's the new Swatch 10, next to the wrong one.  The wrong one has holes running directly up a diagonal , one right after the other.  The corrected swatch 10 has a steeper slope for the line of holes.  And it's longer.
Correct Swatch 10 on the left.
Error message on the right.
Fixed Swatch 4, too.  The swatch error looks a bit like a tea-cup.  The corrected swatch looks more like a mug.  Hoping you can see the difference.  

Tea-cup (error) on the left.
Nice tall mug (corrected Swatch 4) on the right.

Again I wish there was a place to put a weather icon.  Today is glorious.  I hope to take advantage of the sunshine to do another bamboo picture shoot with a work-in-progress.  Took a nice long walk and enjoyed the bright sun on my face.  Seems like I'm always ready to walk just a little farther if the sun is shining.

Another life lesson, perhaps?  When life is good, we seem ready to face it and keep moving; it's the rainy days that make us stumble.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Swatch 12 and Do-Over #2

Well, this is not going exactly as I'd hoped.  Mistakes abound.  Humbling, if nothing else.

But first, Swatch 12.  Another lace pattern, very like Swatch 11.  Hoping that one of the pix below will show you the difference.  Here's Swatch 12.
Swatch 12 lace pattern
Looks a lot like Swatch 11
And here are the swatches side-by-side.  Maybe you can see the ridge along the bottom of the diamond in the swatch on the right.  That's #12.  Different techniques for getting rid of stitches; I won't bore you with the details

Swatch 11 on the left.
Swatch 12 on the right -- can you see the ridge running up
along each side of the diamond, from bottom to middle?

And wouldn't you know -- now that I've decided to really read the instructions I discover YAM (Yet Another Mistake.)  So Do-Over #2 awaits.  Again, I completed the required stitch on EVERY right side row instead of EVERY OTHER right side row.  Some people's kids, huh!  

Anyway, this is the swatch that's boring to look at and was boring to make and now I have to submit myself to Boring again.  Proof in hand that we are each our own worst enemy.  Learning all these life lessons . . . 

Swatch 10 -- mistake
Hope your Thanksgiving (for the US readers) is warm, toasty, and filled with laughter and joy with family and friends.  Enjoy the pie of your choice!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I just added the location to this post, as I do to all the posts, even though they all indicate I'm writing from Lakewood, WA, USA.  Too bad there's not a similar spot to put one of those little weather icons.  It's November in Washington State.  It's pouring and it's blowing.  And it's been doing that for the entire day.

It's now almost 10 pm and I've just finished reading ahead in the Master Knitter instructions.  I got to the section that asks questions about each swatch.  Eventually I'll have to sit at my Mac and type out some sensible answers to each one, citing resources and references.

Not right now because, well, I've knit one of the swatches wrong.  I didn't pay close attention to the instructions.  And this 'event' is a very real and tangible representation of at least one of the lessons I'm supposed to be learning:  to follow instructions.

Feeling quite silly, actually.  If it were a sweater, about now I'd be wondering why the sleeve turned out to be only 5 inches long when the pattern told me to expect a 10 inch sleeve.  Or worse, why the waist-length sweater I expected to create ended up as a bolero vest, one of those short things that bullfighters wear.

Here's a brief bit about what I did:  increase a stitch each side every other row.  So I increased one stitch each side on every right side row of the knitting.

Here's a brief bit about what the pattern said to do:  increase a stitch each side every OTHER right side row.

Do you see the difference?  A couple of rows to knit between each row of increases.  Groan.

I have this tiny little swatch.  Meanwhile I knit the next one and it's quite a bit longer, almost twice as long, in fact.

Here's what the pattern actually said:  increase a stitch every FOURTH (4th) row.  I got that, but read the other instruction with too much haste, and frankly, with too much presumption that I already knew what the professor was looking for.

I'll take a do-over on swatch 4.  Will show you the old and the new one in the next post.  Meanwhile here's a picture of the wrong Swatch 4 and the correct Swatch 5 (which is a lot longer, huh!)

Swatch 5 on the left -- increase each side every 4th row
Swatch 4 Error -- increase each side every Right Side row
If this were golf I'd take a mulligan, but I don't think the TKGA works that way.

I'm adding the label "mistake" to the list.  At the very least, when I do make a mistake I can also record what I did to rectify the error.

Thought for the day:  If only life were as simple as becoming a Master Knitter.

Swatch 11: Eyelet Pattern

Here we are again -- adding stitches and taking them away.  This one is the second of the lace swatches.  The first one is done, but it is so pedestrian I went right to this one to share.

Eyelet Pattern -- yarn-overs and decreases

The idea is that we're building on our skill set, like any training class.  The idea of eyelets (the holes) is used in lots of lace patterns.  In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the picture of a real live work-in-progress that uses the same idea.  Though as you can see, this actual project is a bit more complex -- but not by much.
See the holes?  And can you see the leaves"
It's not magic -- it's knitting!

Off to get the much-needed hair cut.  My shiny gray/white hair is nice, but it's now poker-straight and needs regular scissor attention.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Independent Knitter

Most knitting patterns are very particular about what kind of yarn should be used, sometimes even specifying a brand.  Sometimes, though, the rebellious knitter deviates from the specifications -- and this surprises you because?

Lace knitting is one group of patterns that I find allows me to choose my own yarn and needles, not necessarily what the designer suggests.

Here are two shots that show the same pattern, using different yarns and different needles.
Finer yarn, smaller needles
(Lyndon Hill cotton/silk and
size 6 US)
Heavy yarn, larger needles
(Rowan worsted wool and
size 10.5US)
In an earlier post I mentioned the holes and the 'take away stitches' that can look (and BE) mistakes.  In lace knitting, the holes (called YarnOvers) and the 'take aways' (called Decreases) are put together to form leaves or other designs.  Often the instructions are given in chart form, which means more code.  Each symbol stands for a different action the knitter needs to take.

I like lace knitting for a lot of reasons.  The possibilities of yarn and needle choice appeal to my sense of independence; I may be knitting someone else's design but I will make it my own by choosing a different yarn and needle combo.  

Lace knitting just looks complicated.  Actually the pattern is often as few as 10-12 stitch instructions that just repeat over and over across a row of stitches.  Then there are as few as 3-4 rows that repeat.  So after a few times of reading and doing, you can memorize the instructions.  This means it becomes somewhat mindless, though you must still pay attention so as to avoid mistakes.  Mistakes in lace knitting can be corrected but sometimes you have to rip back (moan and groan and sometimes tears.)

Back to the shawls -- they start at either the top (shoulder) or at the point that hangs down the back.  The pattern shown starts at the point, adds stitches, adds rows, etc etc etc until you either run out of yarn or have the shawl the size you want.  It can be a small scarf or a huge wrap around shawl that drapes with elegance.

More accessories -- Can you see the tiny yellow sliver on the needle on the left?  This is a piece of plastic that slips onto the needle so I can always know the size.  Hoping you can see the 10.5.  And while we're at it, notice the needles.  They aren't the straight sticks you might remember from watching your aunt knit.  In this case the pointy parts are connected by a flexible plastic cord.  So, as in lace knitting, you can work with lots and lots of stitches.

I enjoy this blogging thing.  It's a convenient -- and fun -- way for me to keep a diary of my work toward the designation.  But it has its challenges.  I haven't yet figured out how to knit while I'm posting.  I will be listening to a book, though.  A saga or spy story, something that moves along while I do the mindless repeats of the lace pattern in these two shawls.

Didn't I mention that problem before?  And hasn't anyone solved it yet?  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Swatch 4: Bar Increase

. . . wait for it . . . all the jokes about which global locale wants to add drinking establishments.  Yuk, Yuk.

Think of this swatch as the opposite of Swatch 7 (the 'get rid of stitches' swatch.)  This swatch is in the category of 'add stitches.'

Here's the picture (and it should look like an upside down version of Swatch 7.  Swatch 7 could be the upside down one?  Where is Escher when we need him?

Adding stitches
And in case you decided to skip the previous post, here's what they look like side-by-side.
Decreasing the number of stitches on the left.
Increasing the number of stitches on the right.
The close-up again.  This time look for the little horizontal bars in the swatch on the right.
The little bars on the right swatch -- well maybe I need another  close-up?
Back to projects and swatches.  Though I consider myself a multi-tasker, I find I cannot post posts while I knit.  Maybe I need a voice recognition program that would record my posts, translate them to type, add the labels and pics and then post them to the blog?  Somebody out there has already developed this kewel idea, surely.  I find my imagination usually trails the invention.  How about your imagination?  Ahead of the game?

Swatch 7: ssk and k2tog decrease

And the vocabulary code continues.  This is a swatch that demonstrates whether or not you can get rid of stitches, not by dropping them, but by following two (of many) ways to decrease.

Getting rid of stitches using SSK and K2Tog
Definitely not going to bore you with translations of the codes.  Knitters will know;  non-knitters can enjoy not having to add this set of abbreviations to their own hobby's list.

I'm skipping around on the swatches.  Cannot even think about doing two more decreasing swatches so have decided to alternate the 'end up with fewer stitches' swatches with the 'end up with more stitches' swatches.

Here's a picture showing both #4 and #7.  Now appearing, on the left, Ladies and Gentlemen, the swatch that begins with 20 stitches and ends with only 15.  And in the opposing corner is the swatch that starts with 15 stitches and ends with 25.  What's a measly 10 stitches among swatches?
Decrease swatch on the left and increase swatch on the right.
And finally, a close-up of our contenders.  This one shows off the actual stitches, as the knitter adds stitches or gets rid of them.

I've got several new projects to work on for Thanksgiving Holiday time.  Trying not to take on Christmas projects.  Every year I decide on December 5th to make an afghan or a sweater or BOTH.  Yikes.  Last year there was the brown sweater vest for husband and the burgundy wine wool cardigan for daughter.  

Friday, November 18, 2011


Accessories are essential for all people who seriously pursue an art -- rebuilding an antique car; encasing a model ship in a tiny bottle; designing, cutting, assembling, and quilting a quilt; knitting a new something or other.

Best part about accessories is searching for the next new thing to add to the collection, some helpful item that inventors decide will make the stitches more even (like square needles), or measure your gauge more accurately, or mark your pattern progress (highlight tape.)

Here's a picture of some of my simplest accessories:  a small ruler, a retractable tape measure, a pair of very sharp scissors with nice points, and a coaster for my tea or coffee cup.

Yes, a good cuppa is almost as essential as the ruler and scissors.

You may be asking, "But what about the needles?"  Oh, they are everywhere, in project bags, attached to UFO's, in a needle case (the prize Brittany set), and in a drawer.  You really don't wanna know how many.

Though I do have the size 8 Boye needles I used for the first cable sweater, red wool, I knit when I was still in high school.

Here are some more accessories, each picture caption will tell you what's what.
Yarn Winder

The thing with sticks is a "swift" -- expands and contracts
 to hold the skein of yarn.
Sometimes you ask your child or husband to hold the yarn skein
 with two hands spread to  provide some tension on the skein.
But a Swift is more reliable and less trouble.
This is the whole party --
the winder, the swift and a nice, neat ball of yarn.

The fishing box from Cabela's that holds things like stitch markers and yarn needles.
The box opens
from the other side, too, so I have 'stuff' there.
And just so we can continue our profound discussion of UFO's, here's a pic of a new scarf pattern from Whit's Knits at Purl Bee, Soho NY.  Great stuff.  She tells stories about the project (this pattern was used in her first knitting project) and has great photos about techniques.  I'll add the link on the blog footer.

Hoping you can see the twisty-twirly effect from the RicRac stitch
The yarn is Rowan wool.  Needles are US 8 (5.00 mm)
It's a wonderful scarf and I can't get the picture to load.  Groan.  Gotta go put my brain and hands around something else.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More on UFO's

Been thinking a lot about UFO's since I began this journey.  I find myself identifying a UFO and working to finish it in between working on the swatches.

Here are some things most of us would never confess about our own collection of UFO's (except to a group of knitters on a retreat, perhaps) --
  • They multiply without our knowledge.  They get stuck in a box or a closet and when we re-dscover the one we remember, we find 3 or 4 more.
  • They have enough money attached to them that we could probably vacation for a week in an exotic location if we had just saved the money.  Meanwhile, we're 'vacationing' at home with too many projects.
  • We move them from house to house sometimes in the boxes they've lived in for too many years.  And we know that our spouse really loves us because he/she never comments on just how many of these mystery cartons find their way onto the moving truck.
  • We would have more room for out-of-season clothes if the extra closet was not filled to overflowing.
  • We love re-discovering a long forgotten UFO, knowing that this discovery is almost as good as receiving a UPS package with a new project inside. 
But we will confess this one true thing about UFO's -- we love every one of them.

Wonder if we could make February the "inventory your UFO" month?  Oh, probably not -- might require admitting what we actually have that's about to spill out of that spare closet.

Bumper sticker:  Rediscover your UFO's


Acronyms.  The world needs more acronyms -- NOT!  Tis hard enuf to remember the ones we really need to know (and which ones are they?) without adding a bunch of new ones.  Think URL, NFL, ACL (CIO), etc.

Anyway -- the blue afghan is, as I write, in the wash with a triple dose of fabric softener.  Two in the dispenser and one mixed with the detergent.  The other clothes in the load, for balance, will likely slip right off the wearer because of softness.  But a fiber artist's gotta do what a fiber artist's gotta do.

Here's two pix
Here you can see the rows of colors.  Quite like the rusty brown with the denim blue.  How about You!?  Also you can see the stitches of each of the two crochet rows.

Denim blue with cream and rust accents

And as for the acronyms in the title
  • NUFO -- Not an UnFinished Object
  • UFON -- UnFinished Object Not
  • UFONL -- UnFinished Object No Longer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Swatch 3: Seed Stitch

Making progress.  Finished swatch 3.  It's a simple stitch, a combination of knits and purls but  -- now non-knitters, don't worry if you don't get this -- on the return row you knit the purls and purl the knits.

Swatch 3:  Seed Stitch
See it makes a nice, dense fabric, with little bumps (the purl stitches) alternating with the smooth v-shaped knit stitches.

It's a stitch used for garments that need to be firm, not stretchy.  Sometimes it's used instead of ribbing.

I don't like doing this stitch because I spend as much time moving the yarn from the front of the work, between the needles, to the back of the work and then vice versa -- as I do actually making the stitch.  It feels like time slows down and I can't seem to get any rhythm to the process.

Process -- now's there's a word.  I am a Process Knitter.  I like knitting because of the process:  the feel of the fibers, the movement of the yarn, the rhythm of the actions.  Sometimes I am quite indifferent to the actual product that results from the work.  I just like doing the work.  Of course, as I get close to the end of a project I sometimes am launched into a new territory known as Finishing.  And sometimes the prospect of Finishing can motivate me to actually finish the project.  But often as not, and too often for allowable storage space, the prospect of Finishing can propel that particular project right in the UFO pile.

More later on UFO's.

I put Swatch 3 into a plastic page protector (lots of P's in this post -- plastic, page, protector, process, project, propel) and inserted the page in the Blue Notebook.

On to Swatch 4.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I now understand what a blogger means when they thank their followers. It is wonderful to know that even a few folks find these observations and pictures either amusing or interesting.

My friend and former neighbor, Jean, sends me emails now and then after reading a post. The one she sent yesterday is special and poignant and so I am putting part of it here.

Hi Becky

I love to knit, although I haven't done any in probably 30 years.  Still have a cedar chest full of yarn, and recently pulled from the cedar chest a cable sweater I made for Red about 1975.  He didn't like it because it had dropped shoulders, the newest thing at the time.  The pattern was a v-neck pullover, but he wanted it made cardigan with buttons.  So I changed it. And now I am wearing it.

Some of you probably don't want to have YAEMA (yet another email account) so you can leave comments. FYI you don't need another email, like gmail. I just use my regular Comcast.net email with Google and that works. Hoping this info might encourage you to leave comments.

I'll be knitting today. What does your day look like?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Swatch 2: k1p1 rib with stockinette

Two down, 13 to go.  And the 15th one is not a swatch it is a hat.

Anyway, glass is half full . . .

Swatch 2, front side, before blacking
Here's swatch 2.  You can see how it has a smooth side, which means instead of every row knitting (needle from from to back, wrap and remove to right needle) we introduce the purl stitch.  Every other row is knit; which means every other row is purl.  (needle into the front loop on the needle, but from back to front, and yes, the words make it sound worse than it is.  Pictures are better.)
And here is the back side.  Rows look like bumps instead of smooth.  This is the purl row side.
Swatch 2, back side, before blocking
You can see how it curls on the edges.  This is what it looks like before I wet it down, pin it down and steam it, and then let it dry.  (Blocking)

So, it was time to start "The Notebook" -- the one that I will send off to the judges.  Which brings me, a bit late, to The Knitting Guild Association I'll be following their precise instructions for knitting the swatches and presenting my work.  Knitting, like a lot of life, requires more than a bit of precision.  In sewing it's straight seams; in quilting it's the seam thing plus matching the right corners; in building a house it's making sure things are plumb; and in knitting it's the yarn, the gauge, the needles, the stitches, the pattern, the seams, the blocking, the finishing.

Swatch 2 in a page-protector, in the notebook
The folks at The Knitting Guild Association have a 27 page document detailing every aspect of the submission, from type of yarn to stitches for each swatch, to (yes!) the size of the notebook -- as in 'not more than a 2" binder.'  Here's a picture of swatch 2 in my notebook.  More on this later as I fill it.

Please note the outrageously rebellious nature of the notebook.  It's BLUE because they didn't specify and I had a blue one in the no-longer-needed collection of why-did-I-think-I-needed-that Business Supplies

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crochet Interlude #2

Yes, yes, need to knit swatches.  But I'm stuck in the solemn oath territory that says:  Gotta finish the UFO's before embarking on a new project (becoming a Master Knitter.)

Here's the latest in crochet (and you thought this would be about knitting, silly reader with unmet expectations!).  And you knitting snobs -- alert -- for this one I'm using an acrylic (sshh, whisper this please.)
Blue and Rust afghan, Bernat Super Value
Acrylic is indestructible and perfect for heavy-use items, like afghans.  It feels harsh while you work with it, but my sister taught me to wash it with a double or triple dose of liquid fabric softener.  Voila!  it's soft and wonderful to cuddle with a grandchild.  Best of all, you can keep washing and softening and it gets more wonderful. 

It's not wool or mohair or silk or pima cotton -- but it has its place.  

Lumps of Knitting seem to be a theme so here's a picture of the afghan in a lump with the three skeins/balls of yarn.  The cream color was a total Lump of Tangles when I picked it up and the inside section decided to separate itself from the outside section.  This stuff comes in a long pre-wound skein as the picture shows, but when you pull the loose yarn end from the middle it gets squishy as you use the yarn.  Then it gets unruly and becomes a Lump of Tangles.

Afghan in progress with cleaned-up cream lump of tangles and two other skeins of Bernat Super Value

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nancy Pearl Friday

If you know books you know Nancy Pearl.  She's the former librarian for the Seattle library.  Here's a link to her site:  Nancy Pearl

Today, thanks to a retirement gift, I was privileged to dine with Nancy at Campagne, a French bistro in Seattle's Pike Place Market.  (So now that I've dropped all those place names, let's get on with the substance of the wonderful lunch.)

What else!  Books and books and more books.  Nancy travels all over the world, knows the editors and how they select books, has her own book agent (of course), and speaks about books to a variety of audiences.

But none of us is defined by what we do, but rather by who we are.  And Nancy is warm, humorous, genuine, in a word -- delightful.  We spent a too-quickly-passing two hours discussing authors, genre, why some books work and others don't, how much your mood can effect your choice of what to read.

What a wonderful time for me to be able to share my love of reading with a reading pro.  Yes, I came away with a few recommendations, some for me and some for grandson Sid.  And actually, Nancy also walked away with a suggestion or two from me.

We parted on a rainy corner in stormy Seattle, she with her take-away box from Campagne and my book list from 10+ years; me with a warm memory of an engaging intellect, fascinating conversationalist, and a list of books that will go immediately to the top of my reading list.

No knitting today, just book talk with a reading celebrity:  Nancy Pearl, the only librarian with her own bobble-head doll that sssshhhushes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shawl in the Sun

Short post today -- picking up Sid (grandson) at noon and then to favorite Vietnam restaurant, Wendy's II, in Tacoma.  Sid orders Black Bean Tofu; I will have Tofu Salad.

Shawl in the Sun - can you see the holes that make the design?
That's Lace Knitting
This is a shawlette in one of the Noro Yarns, from Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood.  The pattern is from KnitPicks, one of their independent designers.  Have made the shawlette several times for gifts.  Easy pattern to begin lace-type knitting, which means holes from yarn-overs and knitting two stitches together.  Both of these actions feel like mistakes the first time but they are required for the lacy look, even if the yarn is chunky like this Noro.

And here it is in a lump.  Most knitting includes LUMPS (which I'm gonna use in my tags/labels!)  You begin with a lump of skeins, a lump of in-progress knitting on the needles, and a lump of knitted work before you spread it out and block it into shape.  Most knitters also encounter the awful 
Lump of Tangles, 
which is not a character in any book, but a pile of knotted yarn that appears when you drop the loosely wound ball of yarn or pull out too many yards to knit and then walk away.  The Lump of Tangles works best when left alone quietly in the dark of overnight.

But this lump is the shawl, so you can see all the colors.  They happen 'automatically' because the Noro Yarn, like a lot of yarns these days, includes all these colors in one ball of  yarn.  As you knit the colors change and depending on the needle size (big or small) and the decision of the yarn colorer (is that a word?), you get strips that are wide or narrow.  Very Kewel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spun by Darliss

Scarf #1 knit with Darliss' yarn
Darliss is my friend.  Darliss is talented.  She dyes fibers, she spins fibers into yarn, she knits using all the different techniques and stitches available to knitters.

Darliss also shares -- and the yarn she spun for me last Christmas is worthy of a few pics.  She will correct me if I wrongly state that the yarn is mohair and silk.  The color washes thru periwinkle and lavender.  And the photos will not clearly show the sparkle and shine.  But it does -- sparkle and shine.

Skein of Darliss yarn, with scarf #2 on the needles
I'm starting Swatch #2 today while I work on Scarf #2.

Scarf #1 from Darliss' gift.  Can you see the color wash?