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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Solomon's Knot

Wonderful new shawl which I hope to wear on Saturday night.  Do you think I'll make it?

Crochet is usually a bit faster than knitting, but the Solomon's Knot in this one requires a bit of delicate loop-making.

This was a new stitch for me, so I went searching for help and found a wonderful site. Here's a great story about Teresa Richardson, a self-proclaimed Crochet Geek.  Richardson in Forbes Article.  I first found Teresa on YouTube -- duh!  In her wonderful videos I learned about the Solomon's Knot.  The angles are good, the contrast is great, the yarn and hook are a size you can see, her voice is wonderful -- great place to learn a new stitch (or begin your crochet life.)  

Here's a detail shot.

Yarn is Red Heart Stardust using their free pattern Beatrice Wrap.  The link will get you to pattern and yarn.

Many thanks to Teresa Richardson, who also answered my email.  She may be a crocheter but she's good at knitting together the community.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where is the Butler when we need him?

The butlers of this world must be overworked.  So many mystery something-alongs.  And when I can't seem to finish mine I sure wish the proverbial "Butler did it" would appear and whisk away my unfinished odds and ends.

By this point you surely have realized I've embarked on YAM (Yet Another Mystery.)  This one is a second verse sorta thang.  Last fall I was one of over 100 quilters participating in a mystery quilt along brought to us by Heather Spence Designs.  Each QAL raises funds to help augment the medical expenses of cancer patients.  You can read more at Heather's site.

We're doing it again, making one of Heather's wonderful originals and sharing our enthusiasm and struggles via Facebook group.  I hope you'll join us.  We're already a group of 125!  From all over the world.

First clue is tomorrow, April 27, 2012.  Direct link to Mystery Quilt FAQ's.

Here are my fabrics.

The quilt patterns are each originals by Heather Spence, a talented and enthusiastic quilting professional.  We're all gathered on a FaceBook group page.  Most fun I've had on FB -- ever.

Here's last Fall's quilt.
Design by Heather Spence Designs.  Fabric collection and
assembly by me.  Quilting by HSD.

So invite the Butler.  Maybe he likes to quilt.  And maybe, if you don't like what shows up at the end of the mystery you can always say, "The Butler did it."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Match dot com

I don't think there's a site -- yet -- that promises to match you with the best pattern / yarn combination for the item you wanna knit.  Maybe there's an app waiting to be released?

Matching site or not, we knitters 'just know' when we've got it right.

I've had this wonderful Heritage Cascade Superwash sock yarn for several months.  Original intent was to make a lovely neutral cardi, inspired by some of the classics of the 40's.  Then I found a pullover from Textured Stitches.  I think I made at least 5 swatches, cast on about 200 stitches, knit or ribbed a few rows -- and ultimately set them aside, every one.

Now I think I've got it!  (with apologies to Professor Henry Higgins?)

The Paravel Wrap from Tricksy Knitter.  It's just grand and surprise!  It calls for fingering weight yarn (I've got plenty of that!) and size US#6 needles, straight or circular.  The designer gives the how-to for making the shawl wider and longer.  Ssssshhh -- I didn't even swatch this one.

I've  only finished one border repeat (8 rows, repeated 12 times), but it's working up quite nicely.

This one's knit across the wrap, so there is a manageable number of stitches.  I added multiples of 8 so I'd have a nice wide wrap.  Each edge has a scalloped border and then one long side has the v-shape border you can see in the link picture.  In between is a rib section on each end and a basket-weave type pattern for body of the wrap.
On the iPad using GoodReader.  I'm marking rows and
counting repeats with bright green highlights.

This one's a match -- wrap and yarn will be perfect together.  Check out Tricksy Knitter and sign up for the blog.  You may just find one half of your own pattern / yarn match there.

General announcement of note to no one but knitters -- I cleaned my house.  You know, with a dust rag, and a vacuum cleaner, and glass cleaner.  This process also included mopping the kitchen wood veneer floor (great look, terribly high-maintenance.)  If you knit or do any sort of craft that is more fun than cleaning you'll 'get it' that this is a momentous announcement.

But the BIG announcement of the day is the Match dot Com that resulted in a pattern / yarn combination that will be absolutely wonderful.  I can hardly wait to wear it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's a knitter to do?

Here in Western WA (USA) we're all hoping the April showers bring more May flowers.  The trees are bright, new green and the bulbs bloom no matter what.  Flowering trees are glorious.

But it's still cold and wet and gray.  What's a knitter to do?  Well I can think of several things --

  1. Buy more yarn.  Did that.  Box arrived last week; envelope this week; and I received the shipping notice on a third purchase.  
  2. Visit with knitting friend.  Did that.  Hadn't chat-chat or knit-knit since before Easter so we had a good catchup.
  3. Start more projects.  Did that, too.  Two new shawls.  Yes, shawls -- remember it's still cold and wet and rainy and gray (I said that, didn't I?)  Showing off one of the two shawls in today's post.
  4. Take more walks.  Doing that -- put on the rain gear, put in the ear buds and turn on the book or prayers.  New iPhone app:  Map My Walk records pace and distance on my phone.  Very cool.
Cape Meares Shawl     This is from a wonderful new ebook from Knit Picks.  Rocky Shores has 6 patterns, each with lots of cables and texture.  I have stash yarn for at least 3 of these and decided to buy yarn for the Cape Meares Shawl.  (See numbers 1 and 3 above, please.)  I expect to hear lots of oohs and aahs after you've previewed the patterns shown at the link.

Isn't the texture just yummy?  I'm using US#13 Brittany birch needles.  The shawl begins at the point of a triangle and then after increasing on both edges the pattern shifts to an increase on one edge and a decrease on the other.  The result is a shawl that looks like it's knit on the diagonal.

I've downloaded Rocky Shores into GoodReader (another wonderful app) which allows me to highlight the rows, mark my progress, and of course, enlarge the tiny chart so I can actually read it!  Great app, if you don't have it.  Less than $5 US.

Using Knit Picks Bulky Brava, a soft, soft, luxurious acrylic that's working up just beautifully.  As always, the Knit Picks folks make things relatively affordable, so you will want to check this price.  I ordered 7 skeins and with shipping to my location (and taxes) the total was still less than $30 US.  I'm hoping your own personal situation has room for this kind of project.

Gosh that's dark, but wanted you to see the label.  Brava Bulky.

I hope your spring gives you opportunities to buy yarn, visit with friends (even those who don't knit), get outdoors for walking or just casual viewing, and especially time for knitting.

What's a knitter to do?  We do what knitters do, don't we!?  Buy yarn and patterns and knit!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Heel Back Border

That title sounds a bit like dance steps, maybe for square dancing?  Each noun refers not to the next step in the waltz nor to the end-up-here spot on the dancing diagram.

Instead, these words are a way for me to quickly update you on the three major items in my knitting bag.  (Note I said "major" which means -- no surprise, huh! -- I have a few more in the beginning stages, thinking-about-them stage, the matching-pattern-and-yarn stage.)

The Harry Potter Sox.  Both heels are done.  Finishing the gusset on sock 2 and making my way down the foot on sock one.  I really enjoy working the socks individually on dpn's, but with two sets of needles I can keep up with myself on sock 2.  Great motivator.  The yarn is Heritage Superwash by Cascade and I love, love, love this yarn.

The Luna Cardigan from Cascade Yarns.  The designer, Vera Sanon, deserves a special mention.  She has a note about shaping with lace patterns that really helped me to create neck and armholes while keeping the lace on track.  You know how sometimes it takes just the right combination of words to hit the neuron in your brain?  Well, this one worked for me.  Many thanks to Vera.  She's got lots of designs on Ravelry, so check her out there.  I am using Cascade Sierra for this cardigan, though Cascade Luna is what the designer used.

Working my way up the left front.  Back is all finished.
I've used every stitch holder I have, including a set of
the sloppy cord Kollage needles.  Stitches on holders
are waiting for 3-needle bind-off at shoulder, and then neck
ribbing, all after blocking, of course.

The Bernat Mystery Afghan KAL uses a wonderfully soft acrylic, Waverly by Bernat.  Square by square I'm making my way.  Sewing and knitting and weaving in ends.  I pick up the border when I want something that shows quick progress.  It's a 14 row repeat and not difficult.  But still, it seems the box has more yarn left than has been knitted.  Sometimes I think the yarn skeins conspire when I am not watching, creating more skeins and more tangles.  I try to remember the glass is always half full.
The green strip is the border (right edge) and the bit of
light blue triangle will become another square.  The little ball
of pink is all that's left of that wonderful color.

You're thinking:  "That crazy lady could finish at least one of these projects if she'd just stick with it.  But NO she has to float from one to the other, doing a few rows here and then a few rows there."

Yup, and for good reason.  The dark yarn in the sox is too dark to work at the end of the day, even with a good Ott light.  The lace pattern requires 150% attention which I don't always have.  The afghan has some simple stitches and patterns that are often very relaxing.

So I drift back and forth, like someone learning a new dance.

Heel Back Border

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pinwheel -- Bernat Mystery KAL Spoiler Alert

The Bernat Mystery KAL Afghan has a center pinwheel.  (Spoiler, if you're not there yet.  Sorry.)

Testures prevail.  The different stitches -- a brioche-like rib
in pink/rose and garter in green -- really show up in the
center pinwheel.

I'm knitting and assembly as I go.  The prospect of all those seams and worse, all those loose ends, is daunting and can be discouraging.  Assembly-as-you-knit is the answer for me.  I'm so married to this self-encourager technique that I now choose the next block to knit based on the next one I can assemble.

Also I started the left border.  It's knit in a strip and -- groan -- sewed on to the finished afghan.  Same for the right border.  Then the top and bottom are picked up on a long circular needle.  By that time you will be hearing my cheering no matter where you are on the globe.

And so it goes.  Pinwheel in the center with a variety of colors and shapes around in quilt-like fashion.  I'm persevering.  The original shipping box still has skeins of yarn and I have at least one block on my favorite Brittany birch US#8 needles.  Two of the 6" dpn US#8's are carrying the border.  I am knitting and sewing and weaving and clipping and lions and tigers and bears, oh no.  (Just to see if you're reading to the end.)

Though sometimes I feel like a spinning pinwheel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Lace.  You know I knit lots of lace things.  The Luna Cardigan from Cascade is all-over lace.  This means it will be gorgeous.  Except the all-over lace pattern means I must read the pattern not just in its 10-stitch repeat, but also in the way that in lace patterns the stitches added are then taken away.

Back to the left, The big "U" is the armhole.  The
right front is on the right.  The "L" is the neckline.

Details.  This one has a 10- stitch repeat.  All along the rows, the 10 stitch pattern repeats itself, except -- and this is a huge 'except' -- except when there aren't 10 stitches.  Here's an example.
You can see the diamond running just to the right of
center along what will be the shoulder.  On the right are stitches
which will become the neck ribbing, along the flat edge
and then up to the shoulder.  Looks like an "L".
The 19 stitches in the arm hole/shoulder had to work out in the lace pattern.  On the left side of the picture you can see that the patten isn't quite complete; there are some missing pieces to the diamonds.  That's to be expected.  For every hole in the lace, there's a corresponding stitch taken away.  This rule is essential to maintain the pattern repeat.

More details.  The above strip of 19 stitches took me three tries, maybe four.  Every time I thought I could decipher the lace pattern without its required 10 stitches I would look at my work and say, "Nope.  That's still not right."  Tink, tink, tink.

Now I'm making my way up the back.  The body of the sweater is knit in one piece which means each of the two fronts and the back are then continued from that wrap-around piece.
Looking good.  Check the right side of the knitting.
You'll see similar adjustments for portions of the lace
pattern, when the required 10 stitches are not

The cardi will have short sleeves.

Except -- I may lengthen them a bit to fall to elbow instead of mid-bicep.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Agatha Christie

Ms. Christie's name has been mentioned several times in the novel I'm listening to -- The House at Riverton.  It's one of those soap opera things, told by the former lower house maid.  Think Downton Abbey for time period, clothes, social change, war.  Ms. Christie's mysteries first appeared shortly after the end of WWI.

I've always enjoyed a mystery, but I gotta tell ya -- this afghan thing.  I have all the clues and bits and pieces of the final product.  The solution is beginning to present itself.  (Wait for it -- the butler didn't do it.)
The center line runs down between the two dark blue
triangles.  The green and pink ones will be joined
by two more, forming a pink/green pinwheel right in the
middle of the afghan.

The glass IS half full, after all.  The inventory of blocks is increasing.  Here are my needles with the last of the pinwheel green/pink blocks.
Total of three blocks.  The green topped ones are in the
decreasing stage while the pink one in the center is
still growing.
Again, seemingly unable to learn from my past adventures with multi-tasking knitting style, I had to finally separate the three-in-one.  I finished one of them and started sewing together the blocks in the inventory.

Lots of knitting.  Lots.  I don't wanna even think about the number of stitches and throws that even one block represents.  Well, that makes me curious.  The diamonds start with 1 stitch and increase 2 stitches every other row to 55 stitches.  That would be 110 rows and I don't wanna search for that formula that adds up 1 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 5 + etc.  Boring.

If you haven't read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, get it from the library.  It has a very interesting twist and I won't spoil it for you except to say -- again -- it's not the butler.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bunnies on the bed

Finally!  No, it's not yet spring here in the great Pacific Northwest.  It's cool and gray and wet.  Last night a horrible hail storm whose pellets lingered for at least an hour.  But at least we are not in Texas where damage from all of the worst of spring has rained down on the folks there.

My "finally!" is because I finally finished hemming the last side of the spring quilt I started last fall.  I was part of a mystery quilt along sponsored by Heather Spence Designs.  The pattern for the quilt is Heather's own:  Dan's Climb.  (I think you can buy it on Etsy.com).

Here's mine, all finished and on the bed, with the bunnies.

The colors are cheerful and springy.  Like others who are gray-soaked and gray-tired, I'm doing what I can daily to stay bright.  A brisk walk near the water's edge at Nisqually Delta is a good choice.  And bunnies on the bed bring a smile.

Heather has a new quilt along beginning soon, with funds benefiting cancer patients' extraordinary expenses.  Check her site or find her on FaceBook.

I think I'll choose a winter theme for my next quilt.  Based on past performance -- which in this case can be a big predictor of future behavior -- my 2012 spring quilt just might make it on the bed next January.

Where will the bunnies be then?

Bunnies enjoying the bright colors.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just Not for Me

If you've been reading along you will know that I began the journey to obtain the designation of Master Knitter from The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA).

 -- Just not for me.

You can read for yourself the objectives of the program.  The TKGA site has a very thorough and detailed description of the activities you will be required to submit -- swatches, a hat, answers to questions, a report, a notebook (a 2" notebook, using font size not smaller than 12 and not larger than 14, etc.)

 -- Just not for me.

The TKGA program began in the Fall of 1987.  You can become a member of the Guild for a nominal fee and will receive their magazine Cast On, plus access to the 'members only' section of the web.  Here's what they say about the Master's program.

While the Master Knitter certificate is not a professional certificate, it does enhance any knitting resume. It verifies, among other things that you: 

     • Knit very well 
     • Understand knitting techniques 
     • Can properly prepare designs for submission 
     • Can write reasonably well about knitting 

  -- Just not for me.

Submission 1:  I sent in my swatches, answers, gauge calculations and my hat.
This one didn't get a passing review.
I spaced on using smaller needles for the rib.
TKGA reviewers didn't like the color jogs; they didn't like
the method I used for weaving in the loose ends; they didn't
like the extra trim around the bottom.
"You've knit a nice hat but you didn't follow directions."
I sent in my reports and the pattern for my cable swatch.  TKGA asked for a rewrite of the pattern.  Twice.  I wrote:  K1, P1.  TKGA wants K1, p1.

 -- Just not for me.

After the first review I re-knit the hat, refined my answers to their questions, and expanded the report ("too many bullets" -- so I removed the bullets, among other things.)  Here's Hat 2.
Altogether a much better job and TKGA liked the hat.

After a few days I received a second review.  "Nice hat."  But please rewrite the pattern.  ("Put the pattern name and heading on one line.  Put the pattern source and reference on one line."  Etc.)  All of my knitted items were accepted, but much of the written work needed to be changed, edited, fixed.

 -- Just not for me.

Go back and read those four objectives of the program, because that's what I did.  And I made a wonderfully freeing discovery.  This program is Just Not for Me.

Here's my response after receiving the second review --
Thanks for your thorough review of the second round.  I won't be submitting a third or fourth or fifth time.  Upon reflection I realize the TKGA program is not in alignment with my own goals for knitting -- I have no plans (or dreams) of being a designer or writing patterns; I don't have a desire to be published or edited or become a go-to resource for others.

I enjoy my knitting and I enjoy learning about knitting and will continue to do both.  Frankly, this process came very close to taking all the joy away -- the joy of creating, the pleasure of the process, and the pride in a finished item enjoyed by the friend to whom I gifted the article.

The cost of the program was given to me as a gift when I retired.  I will be donating the balance of the funds, which would otherwise be allocated to the cost of the next levels, to World Vision for their work in securing clean water for those who do not have it.

  (I added the underlining for the benefit of blog readers.)

 -- Just not for me.  You will have to decide for yourself.