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, February 29, 2012


I really like it when projects reach the "almost" point -- almost to a waypoint, almost to a blocking board, almost to a final garment.  "Almost" for me is a reminder that the glass really is half full, even on bleak, gray days like today when the wind is howling and the rain wants to be snow.

Slipper Sox Almost ready to turn the heel.  Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick.  Slipper Sox, also from LB.  Size US11 needles.  The pattern called for US13, which I bot just for this project.  Sssshhh -- I didn't swatch.  The sock would have fit the Abominable Snowman, as if he needed sox!  Frogged it and started over with US11.  Wonderful, just grand.  And very, very warm, as the yarn has 20% wool.

Heel flap done, ready to turn the heel -- almost.

PS  There's another pair just like this one waiting in the leftover yarn.

Just Plain Mittens  I found an old Leisure Arts booklet with a plain mitten pattern, using worsted yarn.  Into the leftovers I dove and came up with the Cascade 200 Superwash I'd used for the yoked sweater.  Perfect.

Almost to the hands.  The cuff needs to be about another inch and then I'll switch from US5 to US7 and in no time I'll have blue mittens.

Did you notice I'm using Magic Loop for both the sox and the mitts?  One sock on the 'loop' and two mittens on the 'loop.'

As long as the cord is long enough and has the right flexibility, this is a great method.  I'll admit to a bit of a challenge (opportunity?) with the mittens.  The circular needle is an old one with a nice long cord, but it's stiff as straw and putting it under hot water won't make it more pliable.  I think it would be great for something in lace, but I'll tough it out to finish the cuff of the mittens.  After all, I'm almost done.

Patons Kroy Sox  These are on tiny twos, the Addi Lace variety, which is a 2.5mm (vs the usual 2.75 mm that conventionally corresponds to a US2.)  I'm making my way down the leg of the sox, again using the Magic Loop method.  This time with two sox.  Short answer?  I'm 'almost' to the heel.

These 'almost' milestones are good markers for me, reminding me that soon I will have sox and mittens.  Meanwhile, I'm a process knitter so moving yarn and needles is quite satisfying, thank you very much.

Almost . . . 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All is well in the Vest

The vest is finished, but not without a few "oh no's" and a lot of research.  I got about half way thru the hood and realized that there would not be enough yarn, especially since I also had to do some ribbing around the armholes.

Seems like the "Yikes" show up a lot in my story-telling.  This particular yikes didn't present itself with many options.  The yarn had come via mail and I surely did not want to risk a mis-match in color OR the wait while yet another skein arrived.

I ripped out the hood (called frogging, because of the groaner "rip it") and took another approach.  I needed to find some way to finish the neckline, something that would not require more yarn than the remaining bits I had in the yarn bowl.

Ribbing -- instead of a hood.

If you look closely at both right and left side of the neckline you won't see any ugly seams where I added the ribbing stitches.  I used something called double pick-up (no jokes, please!).  This method is explained in The Big Book of Knitting by Katharina Buss; an invaluable resource.  The effect is to hide the rough edges of the neck inside a band of knitting.  With this effect I won't have to worry when the neck falls to one side.  Keeps down the fussiness.

This close-up shows the finished ribbing on the neck.
It's also a good view of the cable.

The vest is warm and the color is wonderful.  I'm quite pleased to be able to add this one to my sweater collection and expect to be pulling it on quite often here in the wet Northwest.

All done.  All's well.  Nuff said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paths and Choices

It's really hard to think about life in a completed way.  Life is always journeying, moving us along its path, presenting choices for us to make at every step.  If you've been reading this blog for any length of time at all you know that I take the perspective that knitting and life intersect in so many ways, not just at the times when the needles are clacking.

I picked up the blocked pieces of the vest, intending to join the shoulders using a 3-needle bind off.  (There are lots of ads around this one, but the voice is nice and pictures are at a good distance for really learning.)

Charged down the 3-needle path, short DPN's in hand.  Nope -- not a good choice.  I decided not to take this path.  Thus, I needed to backtrack and make a real and regular sewed seam.  So that meant I needed to bind off each of the four shoulders -- 2 front and 2 back.
Love those DPN's for binding off short distances.  The
shorter needle is not in the way and doesn't poke at the
already-knit portions of the piece.

The cable pattern runs right up thru the middle of the shoulder, both front and back.  3-needle bind-off doesn't easily accommodate to patterned stitches -- though if a reader has hints I'd sure love to hear them.  This method seems to work best on just knit or just purl stitches.

Now that the edges are ready to seam, I've joined the front to the back using a mattress seaming technique. These gals from Knit Picks are fun to watch if you wanna learn the Mattress Seam.

Left shoulder seam.  The left front is on the right of the
picture.  Confused yet?  

The hood is about half way to the finish line.  It has lots of shaping, including some shaping in the middle so it will pull in at center back and not be bulky.   

The ribbing edge will be around the face when the hood
is worn.

Paths and choices -- Life and Knitting.  Happens every day, all the time.  Relish the mystery.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Got shape?

Blocking a sweater can feel like "just another step when I'm so close to the end."  Blocking, however intimidating or time-consuming, is essential.

See what I mean?
On the left -- back, armhole, blocked, shape!
On the right -- left front, armhole, shapeless!
If you look closely you'll see that the edges of the unblocked piece are curled under and the curved edge of the armhole is sloppy looking.  Blocking delivers this chaos from its misery into order and shape -- factors that make the assembly easier and neater, and lend polish to the final garment.

The cable is also much more visible with each of the elements showing face.

Blocked -- take my word for it.

Right front will be finished tonight and on the blocking board.  One more skein of yarn is set aside for the hood.

Hank to Hoodie -- I'll wind it with my swift and winder
and then cast on for the hood, which is stockinette (knit
one row, purl one row) with a bit of shaping and some ribbing.

I wish my camera skills were better -- the color of this yarn is so rich and wonderful.  Here's a link, just in case you wanna see how Lion Brand shows the color on their site.  Lion Brand LB Collection Organic Wool.

Please check out Lesley Reynold's intriguing and fun site.  She uses a technique she calls "Shower Thoughts" to quickly alert you to the 4-6 things on her agenda for the day.  It's fun and clever.  She also has a poll going:  she'll be knitting a hat and she's letting her readers choose the pattern.  Again, interesting way to engage readers.  My Ordinary Journey.

Life's ordinary journey often takes us to extraordinary people and places.  My journey today has taken me to Crossfit and Safeway, perhaps 'ordinary' but Emily the trainer is fun and skilled and Denise at Safeway made me laugh.  Extraordinary!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twice as nice

If one sock is wonderful then two must be glorious.  And I do not want to catch a bad case of OSS (One Sock Syndrome.)

Two at a time, Magic Loop method.  The yarn is Patons Kroy, self striping.  The needles are Addi Lace, their 2, which is 2.5 mm.

Tiny needles, tiny yarn.  Washable wool for warm sox, with
a bit of nylon.

Not sure my color choice is still available.  I'm really focusing on stash decline, as in knitting with yarn already in the house or garage.  The color is Krazy Stripes and in French it's Rayures Funky. 

Here's the free pattern I am using, though Patons offers several for this yarn.  Free Kroy Sox Pattern.  Hope you can get it -- may need a login.  I've had one for several years.  They've never 'bothered' me with emails or ads.

I'm using Magic Loop method, which means two balls of yarn and two sox, both growing at the same time.  At this point I'm about half way down the cuff or leg, on my way to the heels.

I think I just might wear these funky sox with my
reliable black flats.

The second clue arrived for the Bernat Waverly Mystery Afghan.  Hoping some of you are knitting along. 

Fierce winds here today.  Makes the relatively warm 50 something (F) feel like icy teens.  I'm now in for the duration and the needles are calling.   

May you have a blessed Lenten season.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Project Details

Beatrice Wrap

Yarn:  Red Heart Stardust, superwash wool, nylon, and sparkle

Manufacturer:  Red Heart
Pattern:  Free from Red Heart
Bot the yarn online.  I will admit to price shopping.

Harry Potter Sox
Yarn:  Heritage Superwash, superwash wool and nylon

Manufacturer:  Cascade Yarns
Pattern:  from a library book, Charmed Knits for Harry Potter Fans
Needles:  size US1, dpn
Bot the yarn at Yellow House Yarns.

Bernat KAL Afghan

Yarn:  Waverly for Bernat

Manufacturer:  Bernat
Pattern:  Afghan Knit-along, 2012 Mystery Afghan
Needles:  US8 (5.00 mm)
Bot the yarn online from Bernat.  It was on sale with free shipping when they announced the afghan KAL.

Cream Comfy Shawl
Yarn: Paton's Shetland Chunky, 75% acrylic, 25% wool
Manufacturer: Paton's
Pattern: From The Prayer Shawl Companion by Bristow and Cole-Galo
Needles: US 13(9.0mm)
Don't remember where or when I bot the yarn, but patting myself on the back for using stash.

My Blue Sweater
Yarn:  100% washable wool
Manufacturer:  Cascade 220 washable wool and Cascade 220 Paints
Pattern:  New England Knits (it's on the cover, but I modified it)
Needles:  US8 (5.00 mm)
Bot the yarn:  Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood, WA and Yellow House Yarns in Puyallup, WA

Prayer Shawl
Yarn:  Red Heart Eco-Ways
Manufacturer:  Red Heart Yarns
Pattern:  Joyce Fassbender's Deja Vu Scarf/shawl from Knitpicks
Needles:  US10 (6.00mm)

Strolling Mitts
Yarn: Cascade 200, 100% wool
Manufacturer: Cascade Yarns
Pattern: Strolling Mitts from Stitch Nation
Needles: US6 (4.00 mm)
Bot the yarn for the TKGA Level I Master Knitter submission package of swatches and a hat.

White Lace Shawl
Yarn: Comfy Fingering, 75% pima cotton, 25% acrylic
Manufacturer: Knit Picks
Pattern: Spider half hexagon from Victorian Lace, by Jane Sowerby
Needles: US 6, 7, 8, and 9
Bot the yarn: online from KP, which has great customer service.

Mosaic Cowl
Yarn: Mosaic, 100% Acrylic
Manufacturer: Bernat
Pattern: Mosaic Cowl -- Knit, free from Bernat
Needles: US9
Bot the yarn: don't remember. I liked the colors.

Rick Rack Scarf
Yarn:  100% wool
Manufacturer:  Rowan
Pattern:  Rick Rack Scarf from Purl Bee
Needles:  US10.5
Bot the yarn:   online, this scarf made from last skeins left over from a cable sweater.
Burgundy Lace Crochet
Yarn: 100% wool, lace weight
Manufacturer: Knit Picks
Pattern: Emerald Scarf by Tracy St. John, Interweave
Needle: a crochet hook, USB, a little tiny one
Bot the yarn: as part of a shawl kit and stole this color for a special friend.

Mohair Gossamer Lace Scarf
Yarn: 37% acrylic, 33% mohair, 30% wool
Manufacturer: Nashua Handknits, Gelologie, 142 yds, Italy
Pattern: Gossamer Lace Shell, One Skein Wonders, pg 55
Needles: 10 1/2 US, wooden, Clover probably.
Bot the yarn: part of a scarf-of-the-month club from Patternworks in NH.

Swatches and Hat for Master Knitter Level I
Yarn: 100% wool, Cascade 220
Manufacturer: Cascade Yarns
Patterns: all instructions from Level I, TKGA
Needles: swatches and hat use 7US, ribbing on hat uses 5US
Bot the yarn: Yellow House Yarns and Shibori Dragon, in Lakewood, WA.

Hat -- resubmit for Level I, TKGA
Yarn:  100% wool, worsted weight
Manufacturer:  Shetland  Wools
Pattern:  Hat, Level I, TKGA
Needles:  US5 and US7
Bot the yarn:  Yellow House Yarns, Puyallup.

Blue Lace Shawl
Yarn: 85% cotton / 15% silk (Lyndon Hill)
Manufacturer: Bristol Yarn Gallery, Plymouth Yarn Co, spun in Peru
Pattern: from Victorian Lace Today, Jane Sowerby
Final measurements: will update when I finally finish it!
Needles: Size 6 US
Where I got the yarn: Webs (www.yarn.com), a favorite site for yarn and patterns and other supplies.

Crochet Interlude
Yarn: Silky Alpaca Lace, 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk
Manufacturer: Classic Elite Yarns
Pattern: Shawl from LionBrand free patterns
Hook: size US G
Where I got the yarn: Special gift from Fiona Pearce
Special notes: Decided to take the advice of wonderful owner at Yellow House Yarns in Puyallup. We were being knitting snobs and making derogatory comments about crochet. She then commented positively about the work of a friend who took a very light weight, lacy yarn and a very large crochet hook, creating a final fabric that was soft with a nice drape.
There you have it.

Crochet Interlude #2
Yarn: 100% acrylic
Manufacturer: Bernat Super Value acrylic
Pattern: from one of Bernat's afghan books
Hook: size US I
I bot the yarn online at Yarn and Thread by Lisa, outside of Lincoln, NE.

Shawl in the Sun
Yarn: Cotton, Silk, Wool, Nylon
Manufacturer: Noro "the world of nature"
Pattern: Joyce Fassbender, Deja Vu Shawl from Knitpicks IDP
Needles: probably a 10 US, but I don't remember
I bot the yarn at Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood, WA

Vested Interest

The teal vest is shaping up nicely.  I've put the back onto the blocking board, sprayed it down with cool water and given it several shots of steam.  Meanwhile the fronts are making their way to neck shaping.
Side by side, both on a long circular needle, the left and
right front of the vest have armholes now.

After all the armhole shaping, I'll knit for a bit and then work on shaping the neck.  Hope to have these two pieces on the blocking board this week.

The back will take a few days to dry, but no pressure so will leave it alone.  I've inserted US9 DPN's to hold the shoulder stitches.  After I block the fronts I'll use a 3-needle bind-off to join the shoulders.  If you haven't tried this yet, find a YouTube or tutorial.  Makes for nice smooth seams.

Schematic to the left -- the diagram that gives all the
measurements so I can block to the size I knitted.  At
the top you can see the wooden DPN holding the shoulder
The little kitten has her nose in everything.  Here's a close-up of the cable.

While the fronts are on the blocking board, I'll finish the hood.  Soon I will have a new vest!  And in one of my favorite colors.

Worked a bit on one of the garter stitch (knit every row, no purls) squares for the mystery KAL afghan.  When I reached what I thought was the end of the square I counted stitches and wouldn't you know, not the correct number.  Had to rip it (frog) back to the correct count.

Blame it on Downton Abbey.

Friday, February 17, 2012


No matter your opinion on the benefits and/or drawbacks of social networking, you have to admit that it does allow people with a common interest to 'convene' even when geography, finances, and circumstances keep them physically separate.

I have an account on www.GoodReads.com and enjoy this a lot because the focus is books and only books.  Readers come from all over, with diverse reading interests.  The demographics -- age, gender -- are also diverse and so different views emerge.  I enjoy GoodReads.

Another great example is the KAL/CAL (Knit-A-Long / Crochet-A-Long) where people who love yarn and their chosen craft can 'convene' to explore a new pattern, a new yarn, and get help from others.

I've decided to participate in two KAL's.  One will yield a sweater and the other an afghan.

This is a new acrylic from Bernat, taken from the lovely and elegant colors that you find in Waverly upholstery fabrics and wall coverings.  The afghan pattern is a mystery, which means the Afghan Master/Mistress reveals one clue every 1-2 weeks.  The idea is that you try to keep up so that your afghan is finished at the appointed time (but truly, it could just as easily go into the UFO closet.)

Links you'll need (and it's never too late to begin):  Bernat Waverly Yarn, Waverly Afghan Knit Along
I used the color tutorial to help me select the combination of yarns for the afghan.  I like the yarn; it's soft and the colors are just wonderful.  The afghan uses size US8 needles.  You'll have to join their forum to get the clues.  No big deal.

When the suggestion for a sweater KAL came from the Knitting Daily blog, I checked the pattern, checked the stash and I was good to go.  The sweater is a top-down with an increasing rib yoke.  You'll have to purchase the pattern or maybe find it in an old issue of the magazine at the library.   Everything HERE to get started -- weekly knitting expectations, link to pattern, etc.  Take it away!

Stash yarn:  Cascade 220 Superwash in a teal heather.
Needles:  US7 using a circular and Magic Loop method.

So that's what's new on the needles.  I'm binding off and decreasing for the armhole on each of the vest pieces.  Don't want to sound over-confident, but I may just get to wear the vest this winter.

Nope, not thinking about spring knitting yet.  I'm not that fond of cotton yarns unless they are blended.  I'm enjoying each of the projects on the needles and enjoy switching from one to the other.

Find the form of social networking you enjoy.  It's probably here to stay, though its path is not yet long enough for us to discover just where it's headed.  Maybe Mark Zuckerberg can tell us this on his way to the bank?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deja Vu -- all over again

The Amended Fassbender Shawl is finished.  It will go in a box and enter the complexities of the mail system.  Too bad we don't get blog posts from the items we mail -- what stories those might be, huh?!

I had fun with this one.  The 3-triangle idea worked out quite nicely.
You can see where I began with the Asparagus green.
Might have been better a few rows later, but I was
all out of the Chamois.

I'll give it a quick steam.  It's acrylic so blocking will not be very effective.  Still, it deserves a shot or two of steam to help even up the stitches.

Here's a closeup of the pattern -- 
Wrong setting on the camera?

As a total piece it's lovely and will warm the shoulders (or lap) of the wearer.  

Remember -- try Red Heart Eco-Ways.  Great colors, good stitch definition, very soft.  Worsted weight (4).
Pattern is from Joyce Fassbender, Deja Vu Scarf, from Knit Picks.  I used size US 10 1/2 needles, a long circular one to hold all of the stitches.

I've been in touch with Joyce to let her know about the revisions.  After all, it's her design; I just modified it a bit.

Take up knitting -- it will modify your life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Joyce Fassbender

Joyce is an independent designer whose talents are featured at Knit Picks.  She's known for lovely, elegant, yet simple-to-knit- shawls.

I've used her Deja Vu Scarf at least 4 times.  The pattern gives instructions to increase (or decrease) the size.  This scarf/shawl begins at the middle of the neck and expands as stitches are added.  Joyce's original design created two triangles, with a lacey pattern finishing the edges that wrap around your arms.

The center back (with a triangle on each side) can be
seen in the right of the photo.

If two is good, then three must be better.  I took out my pencil, calculator, a scrap of an envelope and proceeded to expand Joyce's 2-triangle design into a three triangle shawl.  I'm thinking that the final will wrap around the shoulders more securely and sit quietly without a lot of tugging or pulling or fretting.  You know shawls -- they look great but can sometimes be a fashion bother.

Here's the 2-triangle vs the 3-triangle.  The pin is where you wanna focus your attention.

Almost finished with the gold shawl (color is called Chamois.)  I'm knitting thru stash and will not have enough of the Chamois.  I've decided to finish the last of the border lace with the green, Asparagus.

Since I increased by another set of 18 rows in the st st
area, the final lace border has more repeats.  Lots of markers
to keep this one on track.  I Heart Markers.

The yarn is Red Heart Eco-Ways, 70% acrylic blended with 30% recycled polyester (old Nehru jackets and tacky plaid skirts, perhaps?)  This is one of the very nicest acrylics I have ever used.  It's soft and well-plied, which means the stitches are well-defined after knitting.  Check it out.

Now that I know I like the yarn, I'll be looking for the next stash-buster item to use the other skeins I have, in Cinnabar and Bark and Yam.  The color names are as wonderful as the colors.

Around the globe -- the Fassbender shawl is headed for Ocean Park, carrying prayers

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another one leaves the nest

Got to thinking about all the knitting projects that I've sent to different people over the years.

This one's ready to wing its way to the recipient.  I love knitting and I love knitting for others, thinking about them as I knit, thinking about them as I choose the project and pattern that will be best for them.

Paton's Chunky Shetland, size US13 needles.
Pattern from Prayer Shawl book

  • The cowl is in Richmond.
  • Scarves are in Wenatchee, Perth (Western Australia), Seattle, Connecticut, NYC, Anchorage.
  • Shawls are in Florida, Arizona, one to Amsterdam but now in Chicago, Lakewood.
  • Afghans are in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Alaska.
  • Sweaters are in Lakewood.
  • Baby preemie hats are in Africa.
  • Who knows where the Special Olympic scarves landed, around the neck of a deserving athlete.

Several projects on the needles will find their way to another place on the planet, to other people that share my world.

Most of the knitters I know knit for others, either a friend or a deserving group (homeless, preemies, chemo patients, and more.)  Keep sending your talent into the world; the world is better for it.  Leaving your nest allows the work of your hands to warm the next nest.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Vest of the Story . . .

. . . with apologies to Paul Harvey, a great newscaster.

Finally put the yarn and needles together for the dark teal vest.  LB Collection Organic Wool from Lion Brand.  It's a bit chunkier than worsted so I'm using US9 needles; the gauge worked out right per the pattern, so it's all good.

Big complex cables on the front and back.  Hoping you
can see that the big cable is encasing a smaller cable.

This is one of those patterns that demands even knitting tension and the cables are unforgiving, mistake-wise.  So I put all three pieces of the vest -- two fronts, left and right, and the back -- all on one long circular needle.  This means that each piece will be knit under the same conditions -- my stress level, the weather, the amount of moisture in the air -- and by knitting all pieces at once I have greatly increased the probability that the end product will appear (and BE) uniform.

You're looking at the two fronts as they will meet
when the garment is worn.  In the back, in the shadows is
the back of the vest (wrong side as you are viewing it.)

The cables are wonderful.  They are chunky and have several crossing areas within other crossing areas.  The chart is in the pattern, also from Lion Brand, Cabled Teal Vest, though of course there are other colors.  Finished garment will also have a hood.  I may try to find a pewter clasp (called a frog) to join the fronts when it's worn, but the pattern is designed to be worn open.

Here's a close-up of the cable.  Love it.
This shows two of the three chunky cables that will
snake there way up the back of the vest.

The Vest of my story is that this project is moving along nicely.  The additional not-to-be-ignored truth is that once again I have too many projects on my needles.

I am -- after all -- a knitter.  I am Vest-ed in keeping my needles busy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thuh Key

Knitters know this as an unforgivable truth:  The Key to knitting to size is gauge.  The number of stitches in each inch of each row and the number of rows in each inch of fabric creation dictate the final size (and fit) of the garment.

Lots of other variables, of course.  This IS life, after all.   You might knit with different tension one day versus another -- due to temperature or stress.  Your yarn might behave differently due to the weather, as in moisture content.

But it is a knitting truth that you must measure the gauge before you start the garment.  Here's the way it worked for me.

Two swatches, a ruler, a calculator and a place to
record the results.

Two swatches, using two different size needles.  The US3 yielded only 6 stitches to the inch; the US2 produced a finer fabric and almost 8 st to the inch.

Tiny needles either way.

Size US 3 above the pencil.

Size US2 below the pencil.

What difference does it make?

Two needles, same yarn, different 'fabric,' which means different feel, different texture, different look, and different drape.

The difference that shows most dramatically in pictures
is the difference in the ribbing.  On the left, two repeats
yields one inch+ of ribbing, with big holes and not
enuf definition.
Now look between the 1 and the 2 on the ruler.  Smaller
needles yield 'tighter' stitches and a 2 ribbing repeat of perhaps
3/4 of an inch.
And it makes a big major huge can-be-regrettable difference in the final size of the garment.  I won't bore you with the math.  And just in case you want to use the I am not good with math excuse, every book out there (well practically every one) tells you how to make the adjustments.

The gauge is the key and lest you forget, your finished garment will remind  you the first time you wear it.  It will either have sleeves that are too short or it will begin at your knees when you planned a nice plain cardi to sit at your waist.

Open the door --