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.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Found a great book at the library:  Charmed Knits -- Projects for Fans of Harry Potter.

Wizard caps, magic invisible shawl, sox, sweaters, mittens.  Very cool.  Colors for all houses.  Naturally I chose Harry's house colors.

Immediate new project -- you know the feeling.  Gotta make that!  Gotta have the yarn now!  Gotta get gauge!
Gryffindor house colors.
The yarn is Heritage 150 Superwash by Cascade.  I'm using Tangerine and a wine/burgundy color whose name I don't know but the number is 5663.  The wonderful team at Yellow House Yarns helped me get just the colors I needed.  And even though we had to special order the burgundy, it was worth the day of waiting to get it right.

I've worked two sox together on one long circular, using the Magic Loop method.  I've worked them one at a time on dpn's.  Megan at Yellow House shared that she prefers 'sticks' and has two sets of each sock size so she can knit the pair of sox side-by-side.  This method is working for me.

With two colors I can switch between sox as each stripe
is finished.  With a single color I'd use two balls of yarn, separating
a single skein into two smaller ones if that's what was needed

Progress, major progress.  And so very portable.  The US#1 needles have already developed a slight bowing.  The bamboo Chia Goo needles are warm and gentle on my hands.  I've finished the entire heel process of sock 1 and am proceeding with the instep portion.  Making my way down the leg of sock 2.

A favorite book of mine is by Ann Budd -- the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.  This one has the basics for mittens, gloves, sweaters, and sox, plus scarves and two kinds of caps.  She's done all the math -- so you just need to choose yarn and establish the gauge.  Then you match it up to her matrix/table.  Recently I saw that this is available as an app for iPad.

One of Ann Budd's tips suggests adding sewing thread to accompany the yarn when knitting the heel and setting up the gusset.  I expected this to be fiddly and fussy but the sewing thread and yarn made themselves into a single strand, double ply yarn and thread, and it was no problem.  Ms. Budd reports that this addition strengthens the heel area, keeping it from wearing thin.

I think our friends are that special strand that keeps us strong.  They weave in and out of our lives just when we most need their support and shared joy.  There are lots of books with this tip written down -- either by example or in words that cannot be misconstrued.  

It's just that we don't always remember this tip.  Thanks again to all my friends who faithfully read and comment on my knitting journey.  I'm so glad to have you along for the ride.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another Lace Tag

In the distribution list of the tags for this blog, I noticed that "lace" appears right near the top. When I checked it was actually the most often used tag.

So it won't surprise you that I'm again knitting a lace pattern.  This time it's a Spring Cardi.

Spring has not arrived in Western Washington (USA), unless you count the daffs, the brilliant purple heather, and the pansies that made it thru the winter.  Oh, and the buds on the trees.

But hope prevails and so I have begun  -- for the second time -- my Spring Cardi.

The pattern and yarn are from Cascade.  Yarn is Sierra, a wonderful blend of cotton with a bit of wool.  This is a go-to yarn for what passes as 'warmer temps' in the chilly spring of the Pacific Northwest.  I also like the blend because the wool stabilizes the no-memory cotton yarn.

The pattern is the Luna Cardigan which tempted me from Cascade's FaceBook page, a free pattern using their Peruvian cotton (no wool.)  The pattern is nice because they include the best ways to add length to either or both of the body and sleeves.  

I'm into stash-reduction so retrieved my supply of Cascade Sierra.  Bot this last summer and actually knitted a garter stitch, top-down cardi.  Well, almost.  Got to the the sleeve and decided I did not like the somewhat sloppy nature of the all over garter stitch.  I'd trimmed it with a few rows of Feather and Fan at the bottom and planned that for finishing the sleeves.  But still . . . 

So I frogged the entire thing and when the Luna Cardigan showed up, I knew this one would work for me.
Here it all is together -- past present and a hint of the future.
Left side -- what's left of the garter stitch, top-down cardigan.
In the middle, with the flower pin -- the piles of frogged yarn.
Lower right -- the ribbing and lace pattern of the Luna Cardigan.

This one is almost seamless -- body of the sweater is knit from the bottom to armholes, then separated for fronts and back.  Sleeves are knit from rib to top of sleeve, which is a set-in sleeve.  

One last comment about Cascade Sierra.  The wool content is 20% and the colors are just glorious.  This one is called Moth -- who is that person whose job it is to sit and match the yarn color to its intended name?  Moth is a perfect match, a neutral with lights.

Still working on sox.  And that afghan?  I know how to sew it together now, but still a few blocks behind in the knitting.  Well, maybe more than a few.    

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Virus

I've got a bad case of sock-itis this Spring. I am almost certain there is no cure.  Pesky viruses seem to be immune to anything we try, including chicken soup.  I'm well enough to knit, thank goodness, so the virus will undoubtedly continue unabated.  You don't hear me complaining, do you?

Every virus attacks at some time with a wizard spell from Harry Potter, eh?

These for grandson.  Yellow House Yarns in Puyullup, WA , USA
helped me find the right burgundy.  Both are from
Heritage by Cascade, Merino Superwash.
Yummy.  Needles are US1

Then there's the mondo yarn and mondo needle socks for wearing around the house.  Would keep my feet warm but gave them to daughter, though grandson is the one who wore them home.
Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky with their slipper sox pattern.
Pattern called for US13 but I stepped down to US11
to 'get gauge.'
These using Paton's Kroy, probably a discontinued shade, since this is from stash.  Frogged these when I thought I might be able to avoid the virus.
Started here, with plain pattern, and US2 but decided
to frog it.
Here's where I am today with the Kroy socks, using a pattern from Favorite Socks -- 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave.  This one is Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn A. Clark.

I've switched from Magic Loop for sox, to don's and on the advice
of Yellow House Yarn owner Megan, have purchased two
sets of the sizes I use.
Here's the two of them as I work my way down the leg of each to arrive at the heel flap.  Sometimes the virus attacks with a double dose.
Lots of sticks!
And finally, a close-up of the wonderful rib pattern, which shows even in the variegated self-striping -- and it's funner (yikes, bad grammar!) to work, imo.
Nice ribbing.  The single knit column is Ktbl every other row.

As you can see I have a serious case of this particular virus, so I reckon the only cure is a) starting yet another pair of sox (using stash which keeps the guilts away and the dollars in the pocket) and b) staying inside with plenty of liquids while I knit.

Let me know if you have other suggested 'cures.'

Meanwhile, I'll be sure to get plenty of rest while I'm knitting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ultimate Flexibility

Knitters have it and enjoy it -- ultimate flexibility.  We can begin a sweater at the neck, at the yoke, at the end of one sleeve (and knit 'across') or the traditional way, from the bottom up.

Top down is the appropriate adjective for this one.

This KAL is proceeding nicely.  It's the Lapis Yoke Pullover from Interweave and is the subject of their KAL.   You will have to purchase the pattern; look for an Interweave special or coupon.  Reliable patterns, always.

Start this one at the neckline with a US6 and a few rows of
knit and purl in the round, to make it look like garter stitch.
Then move to 1x1 ribbing.  After a few rows, increase to
create 1x2 ribbing.  Follow this pattern for a few rows,
increase again to 1x3 ribbing. . . etc.

The yoke expands and the 1-stitch knit in the ribbing is on display.  Here's a close-up.
For my size I ended the yoke with 1x5 ribbing.
The body of the sweater, and the sleeves are knit
in stockinette stitch.  1x1 ribbing at the end of the sleeves
and around the bottom of the sweater.
Some shaping at the waist.

This one allows me to report several items of good news -- 
  • I'm knitting up stash;  bot this Cascade 220 Superwash when they wound the skeins as part of manufacturing.
  • I'm already at the body of the sweater, which means I'm keeping pace (I think) with the KAL.
  • I'm knitting with one of my absolute favorite colors.
  • I'm knitting with size US7 needles and in the round so things are smooth and easy for knitting.

Can't get much better than that!

No, wait!  The SUN is shining in Lakewood.  Now that is something to see and celebrate and enjoy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Been there, done Hat

Okay, it's a groaner.  It's Monday and groaners help remind us that we can laugh at ourselves and our situations (sometimes.)

Finished the hat for re-submission to TKGA for the Master Knitting Designation Level 1.  This time I managed the following:
  • Used smaller needles for the ribbing;
  • Used yarn that was light and bright so the stitches show clearly;
  • Finally 'got it' for the jogless join-in-the-round when knitting with colors;
  • Used duplicate stitch for weaving in those pesky yarn tails;
  • Knitted and assemble yet another top=knot.

Hoping for the best.  Still more paperwork to edit.

TMI:  The hat in the pic below is covering a roll of toilet paper.  I reckon I might have an entire set of paper-toppers if I have to keep knitting hats in colors that may not be choice #1.

Hope your Monday is as bright as the orange and yellow in the Been There Done Hat.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Take time to check your gauge

Time and yarn.  That's what it takes for swatches to check gauge (or tension, as some people say.)

Gauge is the measure of how you and your yarn and your needles are working together.

  • How many stitches per inch?
  • How many rows per inch?
  • Are your results matching what the pattern is expecting?
  • If not, will you be able to adjust the needle size or find a sweater size that will work using the gauge you have knit?
Big surprises and maybe unwelcome ones, if you are unable to make adjustments described in that last item in the list above.  Thus the Knitting Proverb:  To save time, take the time to check your gauge.  I'd insert "heartache and disappointment" in there, too.

I keep trying.
You probably can't see it.  It's 3x3 ribbing; k3,p3.
Will wait for it to dry and set and then measure.
The entire sweater is a ribbed one, with a boat neck.  Simple.
As long as the gauge matches.

This one didn't work out at all.  I used the yarn weight and needle
prescribed, but you can clearly see -- I think -- that the rows are
scrunched.  What are supposed to be diamonds, look like
boats, curved at the bottom, with the line of their
sails curved at the top point down.

Still trying for that 1942 cardigan inspiration item.

From top to bottom:  US2 (2.75 mm); Addi 2(2.5mm),
something between a 3 and a 4 (more than 3.5mm and less
than 4.0 mm)

Three swatches, three different needle sizes.  Still not sure which will be the choice.

Everyone who's known me for any length of time knows my favorite expression:  It's not supposed to be this hard.  I thought needles had been standardized.  Guess not.

So I've taken the time to check my gauge.  Stay tuned.

PS  This process will surely save me the heartache of a sweater too small or too large, but yes, it's taken quite a bit of time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some assembly required.

That afghan, the one with the gorgeous colors?  That one.  Squares are piling up

I took an inventory yesterday and today.  24 blocks in total using 5 different colors and 4 different block patterns.  Sounds like one of those horrible map-coloring problems -- you know the ones:  "How many colors do you need if you have 13 countries and no countries which share a border can be the same color?"

Today, I really believe I'd almost rather color the map.

Big however!  I have completed more than half of the blocks.  Still love the colors, but tis a lot of knitting my friends, a lot of knitting.

Inventory follows.  The box of yarn I showed last week (check label afghan) is slowly being converted from skeins of yarn to squares.   Some assembly required.  Tomorrow's clue, I hope.

I need four of each.
I have four of the beige/pink.
I have three of the blue/pink.

I need a total of eight and I have only two.
I need four of each.  I have one of each.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hat revisited

Surely not as wonderful a title -- or story -- as Evelyn Waugh's great classic.

I've been revisiting the hat for re-submission to TKGA.  Lots of items to consider from their critique.

  • Smaller needles for ribbing (I absolutely spaced on this when reading their pattern!)
  • Brighter and lighter colors, so they can see the stitches.
  • Better transitions when changing colors.

It's bright, you can't argue with that!

The ribbing is knit using US5 dpn's and the hat is knit with US7 dpn's.  To minimize the possibility of a ladder between needles, I'm knitting an extra 2-3 stitches from the next full needle before I consider the right needle full.  In this way, I'm 'knitting around' (my term) and the transition stitches between each of the 4 needles changes every row.

Challenges with the color transition?  Yup, I've read it at least 6 times.  "When you get to the end of the first row of the new color, pick up the right side of the stitch in the row below (in the old color) and k2tog with the old color and the new."  Seems to work, when it's done correctly.

The tip of the white/gray needle points to the first
color change.  Without this new-to-me method, the
color change would look like a stair step when the
orange is joined.  This only happens when knitting in the round
as in with dpn's or circulars.

So I'm carefully and studiously knitting the hat.  Still have a pile of paperwork to resubmit so will have to set aside an afternoon or evening to plow thru that, including the pattern for the cable swatch.

And like life -- which I am wont to remind readers -- knitting often demands closer inspection, more careful navigation, and a revisit of mistakes big and small.  I think we enter such re-examinations, such re-visits, with the hope that we won't repeat the silliness, the foolishness, or the mis-reading of a knitting pattern.

Makes for better knitting, no matter the outcome from TKGA.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Remember Thuh Notebook?  The one I sent to TKGA for review for Level 1 toward the Master Knitter Designation?

It arrived on Saturday, accompanied by a 4 page letter advising me of the good news and the do-over news.

Good marks on blocking, even knitting, professional approach to the notebook assembly and presentation.
Out of 16 swatches, 14 were accepted.  So I found the hot pink yarn and finished re-knitting Swatch 8 and Swatch 15.

On the left we have the Cable Swatch, #15.  Apparently I did almost nothing correct for this one, first time around.  Since this step also includes writing the pattern, I will have a do-over on that, also.  Found a great Celtic braided cable in a book I found at the library, by Lily Chin, Power Cables.  I'm counting on the transfer of positive vibes.

On the right is  Swatch 8, decreases, though from this perspective it looks as if the swatch started skinny and grew.  Apparently, I didn't have enough stitches to begin.  Also didn't remember to include directions for one of the stitches.  

Are you getting a theme here?  It's all about following the directions -- the right number of stitches or rows, the right way to write a pattern, the right way to explain how you did something.

And that hat!  It's a do-over too.  But I had my doubts when I turned it in.  The dark pink was too dark.  The color changes were not neat.  I didn't follow the directions (that theme, again) exactly.  But they liked the top knot and said the knitting was wonderfully even.

The dark pink is too dark.  The Committee looks at
every stitch and dark yarns make the examination

The corollary good news is that I had to buy more yarn.  I know, poor me.  But what's a gal to do?!

Yellow House Yarns has a wonderful line that is dyed in the US, Shepherd's Wool.  I bot two light and bright colors.  I'm expecting the hat will be quite fun to knit.  And the do-over 'required' me to add to my stash.  Really.
Bright colors and good contrast.

The rest of the committee's 4 pages is a list of re-submits, mostly in the answers to the questions that are included.  The process requires research, lots of it, and it's a basic requirement that the knitter know how to write about what they've discovered, including footnotes and bibliography.  

I'll be back at the computer, in between hat knitting.  I hope to get the new stuff in the mail next week.

Best news?  This is a do-over process and I have a friendly, knowledgable contact from the TKGA Committee as my guide.

Monday, March 5, 2012

George and I and telling the truth

The Washington one, the one that could not tell a lie according to the iconic story of his childhood cherry-tree-chopping episode.

And for all of my hints and tips about keeping multiple strands of yarn untangled while knitting several items at one time -- well, I cannot tell a lie.

I can hear you laughing ---

Yup, bits of yarn, skeins of yarn, even another needle.  Can you see the cord of the circular needle at the top of the foto?  This mess is connected to the following:

  • One rose/cream square that's just on it's way to becoming a diamond;
  • One rose/blue square that's only a few decreases from completion;
  • One rose/? square that's about half way to the middle, growing with increases every other row; and
  • One rose/? square that's 2 sets of increases from the middle, waiting on the circular needle.

Each square grows from 3 stitches to 55 before the color change and the decreasing.  When I got to about 48 stitches on each of the three on one needle, the knitting got both crowded and heavy so I put two onto a circular to wait their turn.  Then when the top half, now in blue, started getting smaller, about when the stitch count was 25, I add a new square.  Knitting along on these two was a snap -- one growing and one losing stitches.  Then the losing-stitches square got to about 20 stitches and I decided I had room (and patience) for a third square so I transferred one of the pieces from the circular.

If you haven't followed all the bread crumbs, no matter.  Here's where I am now.

You're looking at the back side (see the ridge of blue
snuggled inside the rose toward the bottom center?)
Left -- rose/blue, almost finished.
Center -- the new fourth square nestled in between its
neighbors and growing.
Right -- rose/cream and just beginning the down slope

More efficient this way?  Probably not.  I can't lie to you.  There's a bit of fussing and untwisting now and then.  And transferring pieces off and on needles.

Truthfully?  I think it's a self-made deception allowing me to convince myself I'm really knitting more than one thing at a time.  

Truthfully?  Each piece still requires the yarn to be wrapped around the needles for each stitch and a knitter can only do one stitch at a time.

Did you notice how that's like life?  No matter how much we pretend we're multi-tasking, we're still only doing one thing and often in small steps.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not even for Bacon

And that's saying quite a lot.

It's time to get busy on the Bernat Afgan KAL as I am 'behind' -- though the pace and end date are really of my own choosing.  I reckon I don't really need to finish when the clue givers tell me to finish.  How's that for knitter rebellion.

As for the bacon and the time, the dots are connected this way.  Decided it was time to make haste on the many blocks of the Afghan KAL.  The latest clue calls for 8 more blocks.  The first clue was for 8 and the second clue for 4.  I'm hugely and majorly 'behind.'

So I decided on three-at-a-time.
The blue block is this week's clue, so it might be a
'spoiler' for any readers who are also doing the KAL.

There are three Clue 1 blocks on my US8 Brittany wood needles.  The purple pins at the bottom of each tell me which is the right side, which is where the increases take place.  The blocks shown each have about 13 stitches.  The blocks are all knit, garter stitch, where each row -- back and front -- are knit.  BUT you have to increase on each side of the right side.  Thus the pins.

Bacon?  I love bacon and as a small gift many mornings, my husband will add a few slices to his microwave plate and present the finished items on a paper towel for me to nibble as I finish my coffee.  Yes, quite sweet.

This morning when he presented the bacon gift, I was in the middle of a row of the three blocks.  And here's the essential rule: do not -- underline not -- stop in the middle of a row, leaving one or two blocks on a needle, with the remaining on the other.  No matter how carefully you put down the set of needles, Murphy says something will happen, and you will lose your place.  Not irredeemable but a pain when there are many more stitches on each of the three blocks.

So the bacon had to wait.  The treat was worth it.

Sample blocks of Clues 1 and 2 follow.  I love the colors, though I had no idea how they would be distributed in the afghan.  

Clue 1 -- I will need 4 of each combination.

Clue 3 is blue.  I'll need 8 of these.
Clue 2 is the partially completed
cream one on the holder.  It's knitted as a regular
square, not on the diagonal.  I'll need 4 of these, I think.

Close-up of the various textures.  The designers have
done a great job making sure the afghan will be
snuggly.  Texture stitches add depth to the appearance
as well as to the final fabric.  The yarn is also quite soft
but this doesn't interfere with knitting.  It's a very
knittable yarn.
Making a fair bit of progress.  The 3-at-a-time keeps the project from being portable, but I can always slip off two of the squares, make a note of the stitch count, and take one of the squares with me to the dentist's waiting room or next baseball club board meeting.  

Lesley asked me about keeping multiple items on one needle, especially for a tip about how to keep tangling to a minimum.  Here's the secret that works for me.  At the end of a right side row I establish how I will turn the left needle, now the one with knitting on it.  I use the point as a reference and turn it either away from me or toward my body.  Opposite turn at the end of the wrong side row.  This goes a long way toward keeping things fairly neat.  Even if you forget once or twice it's not a mess to undo.  

Another tip -- keep the balls of yarn lying on the floor next to the couch.  Keep them in order based on the right side knitting.  This will give you a hint when it's time to turn at the end of a wrong side row.    You could label the label with a 1, 2, or 3, depending on which ball of yarn is being used for which piece on the needle.

After all of that I think I need more bacon.