Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No complaints.

Since the whole family was going away last weekend, I had an opportunity to block the Peacock Shawl. I had just read Stephanie's discussion of how she blocks, and I do pretty much the same for shawls (I'm a little more casual about sweaters). But the idea of a string along the straight edge struck me as genius.

In retrospect, choosing string that wouldn't break would be even more brilliant. And no configuration of pins would give me much tension, so I was sort of tying the ends to parts of the bedframe. (I block on my daughter Eva's bed. Can't use mine; the cat sleeps there. Of the girls' beds, Eva's is preferable, because it's the lower bunk. But either bunk is a little small for the job.)

Also, I think I must once have owned some straight pins (doesn't everyone? Besides, I took Home Ec in 8th grade). But I can't find them now. So I had one lollipop-head blocking pin, and a ridiculous-but-just-short-of-adequate number of safety pins from the drycleaner. Consequently, I was only able to use a pin in about every alternate loop of the bindoff. Annoying result:

Well, I can always re-block someday. The bigger picture:

I needn't have worried about the size; it's at least 70-some inches wide by more than 40" deep. (I should measure it. But insofar as Eva's bed is about 39" wide and +/- 72" long, it's bigger than that.) For scale:

In these pictures, the pattern doesn't look much airier or clearer than it did in the unblocked photos. But in person it seems more open, and also much crisper, in hand as well as in pattern definition.

Now, if we could just get a break in the weather.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Kippah Project: Wrap-Up

Sorry no post in so long; I was away for a few days and was certain I'd be able to upload this from a remote location--but I was wrong.

There they are, in all their glory: courtesy of my brother Jonathan, who had a camera on the spot, these are all the kippot, a few hours before the wedding, lined up on the vent/windowsill in the hotel room in Pittsburgh.

I'm a lot more cheerful about the whole event than I was a month ago--largely, I suspect, because I've regained better than 95% of the sensation in my right middle finger. I hadn't wanted to say anything before, because it seemed petty to complain about such a minor injury, but the way I was holding the crochet hook must have been pinching a nerve or something. The last joint on my finger had gone all numb and tingly, and not just while I was working, but all the time. But things began to improve within a couple days after I stopped using that size hook, and now they're pretty much back to normal, and I can even contemplate the two remaining kippot--one for the bride, one for Suzanne--with equanimity. Which is not to say I'm working on them just yet.

But for those who wondered, here's the pattern I developed. It's approximate; no two of the ten I made are exactly alike (even putting aside the colorwork bands).

Linen Kippah

Finished size: approx. 6" in diameter. This is smaller than Grandmom used to make, but larger than a lot of the crocheted ones you see in stores nowadays.

Approx. 45 yards of Euroflax sport-weight linen in Main Color (MC)
Approx. 10 yards in Contrast Color (CC)
crochet hook, 3 mm, or size to obtain gauge
darning needle

Gauge: approx. 6 sc per inch? Exact gauge isn't crucial, as long as the fabric is firm.

Using MC, use Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning to form the center ring into which you work the star motif: Ch3, (yo, insert hook through center ring, pull a loop through; yo and pull through two loops) twice, yo and pull through all 3 loops on hook; ch2; *(yo, insert hook through center ring, pull a loop through; yo and pull through two loops) 3x, yo and pull through all 4 loops on hook; ch2;* rep from * to * 4 more times--6 clusters formed. Slip st to top of beginning ch3.
Round 1: Ch1, 4 sc in next ch2 sp; then 5 sc in each ch2 sp to end of rnd; join with sl st to top of first st. 30 sts.
Rnd 2: Ch1; sc in next sc; *2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc;* rep from * to * to end of round, ending with 2 sc in last st. 40 sts. Do not join; from now on, work in a continuous spiral, but mark the beginning of the round.
Rnd 3: *sc in each of next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 3 sts;* rep from * to * to end of rnd. 45 sts. Note: The goal here (and from now on) is to stagger the increases from round to round. This is accomplished in part by changing the number of sts increased each time, but it's still easy to wind up always increasing in the last st of the rnd if you don't anticipate and avoid doing so.
Rnd 4: 1 sc in each st around.
Rnd 5: *1 sc in each of next 4 sts; 2 sc in foll st;* rep from * to * to end of rnd. 54 sts.
Rnd 6: *1 sc in each of next 2 sts; 2 sc in foll st; 1 sc in each of next 6 sts;* rep from * to * to end of rnd. 60 sts.
Rnd 7: *1 sc in each of next 4 sts; 2 sc in foll st;* rep from * to * to end of rnd. 72 sts.
Rnd 8: 1 sc in each st around.
Rnd 9: *1 sc in each of next 7 sts; 2 sc in foll st; 1 sc in each of next 4 sts;* rep from * to * around. 78 sts.
Rnd 10: *1 sc in each of next 3 sts; 2 sc in foll st; 1 sc in each of next 9 sts;* rep from * to * around. 84 sts.
Rnd 11: *2 sc in next st; 1 sc in each of next 9 sts;* rep from * to * to end of round. The round won't come out even. Don't worry about it. 93 sts.
Rnd 12: *1 sc in each of next 7 sts; 2 sc in foll st; 1 sc in each of next 7 sts;* rep from * to * around, with a couple left over. 99 sts.
Rnd 13: *1 sc in each of next 10 sts; 2 sc in foll st; 1 sc in each of next 9 sts;* rep from * to * around. 104 sts.
Everything from about Rnd 4 onward is just a guess. The idea is to get to a number of stitches between 100 and 110, choosing the exact number based on the color pattern you want to use, and taking between 12 and 15 rounds to get there. If your color band is a narrow one, you'll want to have more solid rounds; if your color band is wide, you'll want fewer.
If you think of it, start joining in the CC a few sts before the end of the last plain round.
Colorwork: To see how I manipulated the two strands of yarn, look back at the blog entry for July 7. (Sorry, I don't know how to link back to other entries within the blog yet.) Choose any simple geometric pattern. Chart books for Fair Isle knitting are a great resource; look at the small borders and peerie patterns. (Pause a moment to enjoy the multicultural aspect of the experience.) I tended to choose patterns with 6-stitch repeats, worked over 4 or 5 rounds.
There's no increasing during the colorwork. This should be reassuring if you're (a) intimidated by working with two colors at all, or (b) worried that your kippah looks too close to flat after Round 14.
After the colorwork is finished, do 2 more rounds of MC, still with no increasing. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Blocking: Block like hell. I mean, you need to even out the fabric--don't panic that your "finished" piece looks more like a casserole lid than a headcovering, it's not finished until it's blocked. The Euroflax has a surprising amount of give when it's wet. Soak it thoroughly, in several changes of water (the dark purple I used had a lot of dye discharge). Then pull and tug and stretch it into a nice shape, and let it dry over a likely-shaped inverted bowl. When it's dry, you'll be surprised how soft and drapey it is--not at all like the stiff cotton ones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oh. My. God.

It took four different UPS guys in three different trucks to deliver our stuff yesterday: 17 boxes from Westminster Fibers, Nashua, NH, which means--ROWAN.

Not to exaggerate, two of the boxes were small-ish (books, including like 5 different titles from the RYC collection). But the other 15 were large, like 60 lbs, like what you'd ship a dishwasher in. So they went right into the dungeon--where they piled up nicely in front of the 11 boxes of Manos from last week--and now we're starting to dig through them.

Here's what's surfaced so far: Kid Silk Haze, along with its new counterparts, Kid Silk Spray and Kid Silk Night, and lots of things beginning with Cash- (Cashsoft DK, Cashsoft 4-Ply, Cashsoft Aran, Cashcotton DK, Cashcotton 4-Ply).

It's going to take us days to wade through it all, and it's bound to take Alec-the-web-guy some time to get it all online. But if you've seen something in the magazine (or on the Rowan website) that's got you worked up, don't hesitate to ask when you're in here. And we've basically got every color in every yarn now, so if you usually order online, you can go ahead--including new colors that aren't on our website yet--just order any random color and then make a note in the "Notes" section like "What I really want is #849 Sandstone." (Sandstone is one of the new Kid Classic colors.)

I'm pretty sure that I'm pretty excited. For now, though, it seems like I'm mostly overwhelmed and claustrophobic.

Come and get it!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Rowan 38

Kim who?

I mean, I like Kim Hargreaves's designs, and I've been wondering (along with everyone else) what Rowan is going to do without her--but the answer seems to be, "We're just fine, thanks." There are oodles of unfamiliar names in this issue, and no single designer has more than about 3 items, which is all to the good: lots of fresh ideas. More than I know what to do with, right off hand.

In fact, I'd argue that Kim's habit of ringing the changes on an idea--cardigan, pullover, kids' sweater, hat--may have stifled creativity. Not hers, ours. In this issue, if there's a stitch or a collar you like, you're invited to apply it to some other garment on your own--there are hardly any pairs or families of designs.

The idea of customizing our knitted pieces is in fact a theme here. There are embellishments to quite a few items (beads, fringe, buttons, embroidery),

and some of the designs are themselves embellishments--flower broaches, felted appliques. Some of the directions are pointlessly precise ("Place 6 faceted crystal beads at the point of each petal"),

but others leave us to our own tastes ("Sew an assortment of buttons and sequins")
. There are also lots of felted items, and as I know only too well, anything felted is going to be highly individualized.

There's also a lot less stockinette than I'm used to seeing from Rowan. Grace says it's as if a copy of Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns only just made it to England: in addition to the familiar cables (very few, and those worked with idiosyncratic knots and so forth)
there are plenty of slip-stitch patterns,

some mosaic knitting,

a couple pieces that combine knitting and crochet, and other kinds of textures that are hard to categorize.

Moreover, as if Rowan didn't make enough colors in any particular yarn, quite a few garments combine different yarns. Sometimes it's for textural counterpoint, sometimes a change in scale, sometimes it is just the hunt for the perfect color (yes, there are designs by Kaffe and Brandon here). Two different items feature 3 strands of the same yarn held together--one each of three different colors. I've never been so pleased that we carry virtually all the yarns Rowan makes, and in every color. (When did that happen? One day we were wondering about trying maybe 6 colors of Wool Cotton, and then suddenly, I look up and we've got all but 4 of them--at which point, you might as well say "What the ----, order the rest.")

Some of the stuff is crazy. I don't see many people making the little hat-like item with the flowers made of Kid Silk Haze and sewn onto a bit of veil. But some of it is great, and all of it is food for thought.

One thought I've had already: We should do some classes around some of the less-familiar techniques. Maybe a Sunday workshop for the crocheted-flower broach with beads. And definitely a stitch clinic to practice some of the patterns, especially with increases and decreases. (Almost all the garments are shaped at the sides, and there are a couple stitches where I'm wondering how to work the increases:

So I ask you a number of questions: What do you think of Rowan 38? And which projects would you like classes on? And if we have to do the stitch clinic either on a couple weekday evenings (say, 2 or 3 Tuesdays) or else wait until October to find an available Sunday, what's your vote? Speak up!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

On Judging Designs and Who to Blame

Lisa and I started our own e-mail conversation about some of the issues she raised in her series of posts about not liking the designs in a book or magazine. We thought you might enjoy hearing our back-and-forth, and, of course, chiming in with your own thoughts. So here goes:

Lisa begins:

Who do I not blame when I don't like the designs in a book or a magazine? The designer(s).

Very few people come to handknitting and think, "I want to design things for the whole world to knit, and become rich and famous in the process." They're like you or me: they knit what they want to knit, and after awhile they start making up the instructions because they want to knit something they haven't found a pattern for.

After enough people praise their original creation, they may start thinking, "Hey! Maybe other people would like to know how to make one of these. Maybe someone would even . . . pay me to show them how to do it."

You can't blame them for thinking that way; who wouldn't want to get paid for doing something they enjoy doing? And if an editor or design director buys their design, hooray for the designer!

But even after she's sold a bunch of designs, the designer is usually still motivated by whatever interested her in the first place: could be the way cables cross, could be how a bias fabric can drape a shoulder line, could be how she can make herself a mohair sweater that's not too warm to wear at home in Arkansas. Maybe magazine editors keep buying her work--congratulations: artistic satisfaction, and income, too. But probably she still submits plenty of designs that don't get published, too.

Almost no designer thinks to themselves, "Wait! If I design something everyone loves, a magazine will be sure to buy it, because everyone will want to knit one!" First of all, I don't think anyone except Gap, Inc. aspires to clothing everyone. Second of all, no design looks good on everyone, and designers and editors know it. Third of all, no design appeals to everyone, and any design that comes remotely close--J. Crew Rollneck Raglan, as interpreted by Yankee Knitter Designs, circa 1987, for instance--is so simple and basic and straightforward that, once it's been done, no one needs another pattern like it for another 20 years.

About 10 years ago, Knitter's Magazine did a feature on Classic Elite Yarns, and they interviewed Kristin Nicholas, who was then the director of marketing and product development there. She talked about designs for their line: "We know, for example, that if we do a plain stockinette sweater with a cable in the center, it'll be our best selling pattern. . . . We want to keep the design classic, updated, yet not too far out." (Remember Reykjavik, Classic Elite Pattern #479?) This illustrates a special category: the in-house designer for a yarn company incorporates some of the editor's function at a magazine, in that she has the responsibility to make sure that a season's patterns are sufficiently diverse and representative. But it also illustrates the way "the marketplace" clamors simultaneously for novelty and for familiarity, for innovation and for repetition.

For the editors and design directors, it's all about sales and target market and what will photograph well and which advertiser's yarn to use. For the designer, I truly believe that it's almost entirely about "Wouldn't it look cool if we tried it this way? Or wouldn't it?"

You wouldn't tell a novelist to stop writing books that were only about middle-aged people; you'd either alternate reading that author's books with reading other people's, or you'd just not read that author at all. If someone suggested making rules about what kind of characters a novel has to have, you'd think that was ridiculous--or an unconstitutional curtailment of the author's artistic freedom. You don't walk into an Italian restaurant and complain that there's no souvlaki on the menu (you probably wouldn't even complain if there's no fettucine Alfredo on the menu, though you might be more surprised). So why do so many people seem to think that a knitwear designer has a responsibility to produce designs that everyone likes, everyone can knit, and everyone looks good wearing

Carol responds:

Hmm. I am perplexed by Lisa’s analysis a bit, maybe because I think a designer's role can take either of two forms: Is the designer's role to create patterns that others can make and will want to make and will look good wearing? Or is the designer's role to create garments that satisfy her inner urge to create or are faithful to her artistic vision?

If you think the designer’s job is to create patterns for magazine/book readers to make and wear – which, admittedly, is a practical or utilitarian way to look at it – then you probably will be irked by a designer who creates items no one wants to make, or no one will look good wearing. A good many knitters will think, I'm shelling out $7 for a magazine, and the stuff is all made for stick figures or is so way-out I'd never wear it. Or you will think "God, I'm so tired when I get home from work, I don't feel like thinking and I just want to follow a pattern and end up with a sweater that looks halfway decent on me, and I can't find anything I want to make. Or if I make it, I have to modify it, so I might as well design my own." Or maybe you are just baffled by it all: you don't know enough about kinds of sleeves to know which look good on you, and you are too clueless to realize that a 48-inch waist probably doesn't need a peplum. Knitting these designs, which is what the editors seem to want you to do since they provide those handy-dandy patterns, becomes an exercise in frustration and wasting money.

On the other hand -- if you take the second view, you are looking at any designer's creation as inspirational, a piece of fiber art to be admired without any concern about making it yourself, or whether it would look good on you. You might, if you are a young hip-ster, think "Wow! What a cool sweater. I could wear that to the next rave in the empty warehouse!" or, more likely, you could think "That makes me think about knitting the sweater I’m working on with a neckline like that" or "I wonder what would happen if I made that sweater without the cables in a different color". The knitting magazine isn't so much a recipe for creating a garment as it is a look at other people's ideas, and a jolt to your own creativity. I know very few readers of knitting magazines who completely fall into this category, although most knitters take inspiration in some form or another from their magazines (but they want to be able to make SOMETHING for themselves from the magazines, not use them solely for inspiration).

The problem comes, I think, because most magazines are neither fish nor fowl. They are providing patterns, which assumes the point is for SOMEONE to make the garment, and they are commercially driven by yarn manufacturers who want to sell yarn for people to make garments from. They are purchased by many knitters who want to follow a pattern, and who lack the desire or knowledge to design or modify patterns on their own. At the same time, they strive to provide inspiration and creativity and information for more adventurous knitters to riff off of (or they ought to; some magazines do this better than others). But is the designer really following her muse when her garment gets switched to a completely different type and style of yarn, simply because the yarn company buys a lot of ad space? No. And is the reader getting garments that are likely to make her look good, that she will feel good in and enjoy wearing, when the designer is following her quite-possibly-obscure artistic vsion? No. (No one looks good in a sweater so full of lavender fun fur that it makes you look like a guy on the beach with a mauve-colored hairy back. Drop shoulders may be preferable to use when you want to do crazy intarsia stuff on the sweater body, but they tend not to look flattering on most women.)

Ironically, I have often complained about the demise of wearability in these magazines: that creating a garment that is wearable has become almost shameful -- as if designing something that someone will look good in, or feel good in, or is flattering, is crass, or bourgeois, or pedestrian or artless. I think it is the greatest challenge of a designer to create a pattern that preserves the artistic sensibility while accommodating wearability. So in my mind, yes, the designer does bear some of the blame for the frustration the reader may feel (or at least, one type of reader may feel) with her knitting magazines.

Lisa responds to Carol:

Sure, there are two kinds of designs, the functional and the inspirational (and plenty of hybrids), and way too many clueless designers who don't know the difference (or which they're producing). But I think my point is, the designers don't control what gets into your hands: the editors (technical and otherwise) do. People will praise an up-and-upcoming designer and publish her and offer her a book contract based on the things of hers they saw—even when they are a little outlandish and in limited size ranges, etc.--but no one gives classes on how to design for larger people, no one certifies or authorizes someone as qualified to size a garment, and no editor who's bought a proposal will say, "Gee, I thought there'd be more things in here for real people to wear, and I'm not going to pay you unless you produce some." In other words, nothing in the system enables--let alone requires--someone who's made one cute thing to become someone who can produce instructions for many people to make similar things that will be cute on them.

"Wearability" is a whole topic of its own, as far as I'm concerned: do we mean, "fits a standard range of sizes"? "Flatters more body types than one, or if only one, then a common one"? "Won't get you stared at in the supermarket"? "Doesn't prevent you from typing/walking/eating"? For me, fringe bits hanging all over a cardigan make it unwearable; I worry that for the core Knitter's reader, fringe bits all over are what takes the design from "something I could have bought" to "something that makes me feel unique and fashion-conscious." Lots of times, Rowan looks unwearable to me when it arrives--and then people here cast on and it turns out to be o.k. as long as you're not in the forest wearing warpaint or whatever.

And Carol replies to that:

I still think some of the responsibility rests within the designer. Look at the book "Vintage Knits" - sizes 32, 34 and 36. Ought not the designer know that this is an extremely limited size range by any standard? Is the designer being lazy by deciding not to size the garment up any more? Does someone have to tell say "Gee, Ms. Designer, do you think that there's a bunch of women out there who might like your designs but whose busts measure larger than 36 inches around?"

If small sizing is deliberate (because the designer thinks someone of a larger size won't look good in her designs) then we're getting into a separate issue, of poundism.

Scroll through You knit what? -- can any designer in their right mind think that someone, somewhere (anyone, anywhere) is going to wear some of that crap? and oughtn't a designer want someone, somewhere to make their garments? Otherwise, what is the point to being a designer of patterns for others, as opposed to a designer who makes one-off garments and sells them? and if you call yourself a professional designer, shouldn't you take on some of the responsibility to learn things like, say, how to size a garment up and down? (by trial and error if by no other way).

I agree that wearability is a relative concept. Perhaps I could quote the Supreme Court justice who, when asked to define pornography as opposed to erotic art, said he couldn't, "but I know it when I see it." Or maybe it's best defined negatively, or by reference to "most people." A few people might wear X, but most wouldn't. If you are a model and either so gorgeous no one looks at your clothes, or so beautifully proportioned that you can pretty much wear anything and look good in it, then wearability is irrelevant. You can wear anything you want. Period. But for the rest of us, it's not that simple. I think the fascinating, nonsnarky element of You knit what? is it helps you define what is wearable. Dolman bat sleeves -- not very. Tufts of fur all over the garment -- not very, but to some extent a matter of taste. Mohawk hat -- not at all.

And now we would like to hear what you think.

Friday, August 19, 2005


This is from weeks ago, but it's really stuck with me. I was walking down the street on my way to work one morning, and I walked by a bunch of workmen on their coffee break. I didn't notice much--regular guys, you know? Painters, carpenters, something like that; maybe half a dozen of them.

But as I walked by, I heard one of them saying, "I don't know how you can work like that and not have some sense of achievement at the end of the day. What sustains you?"

I'm not kidding. And I wasn't mistaken; it was a very quiet block of a very small street (the 1800 block of Manning, I believe), and they and I were the only people on it.

I didn't hear anybody answer. But now, as I go about my day, I find myself asking the question repeatedly.

What sustains you?

It's Here!

Fall begins at last: the new Rowan magazine is here.

I don't really know what I think of it yet; give me a few days, you all look it over too, and then we'll talk.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Contest Alert

The annual Philadelphia Area Knit Out and Crochet Event is scheduled for Sunday, September 18, at the Convention Center (12th and Arch), and this year there's an added feature: a scarf contest.

To publicize the American Heart Association's current campaign for women's heart health awareness, Go Red for Women, the Knit Out is sponsoring a Go Red Scarf Contest. To enter, knit or crochet a scarf--your own original design--in any shade of red, and bring it to the Knit Out. The winners will be announced at 4:30, and each of 4 runners-up will receive goodies like signed copies of Scarf Style, gift certificates, and knitting accessories. The winner will receive a library of 5 Interweave Press knitting titles, plus publication of her/his scarf pattern on Interweave Knits' website.

Two important things to know: you must be present at 4:30 to win, and all entries become the property of the Knit Out, and will be donated to the American Heart Association.

There's still plenty of time; surely there's a pattern idea you've been looking for an opportunity to try out? Go to it!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

WOMN 8/14

Sorry for the hiatus; this heat slows everything down.

I was working happily along on Summer in Kansas, which seemed kind of appropriate to the weather, and making some progress:

--when I began to worry a bit about the recent section, the beginning of the larger pattern:

Does the upper part look a little stretched to you? I mean, I know it's stretched; I've pinned it out to 18 sts per 4", the gauge given in the pattern, and the gauge my blocked swatch measured. But I swatched the smaller pattern, not the larger, and now I'm wondering. I know it will bloom a little and relax a little after blocking, but is that upper area looking uncomfortable? Should I rip back the 10 rows to the transition, and work the next section of the shawl on a larger needle?

What happens when we reach these forks in the pathway of our knitting? Say it with me, knitters: put the project down. I don't want to let this become an official dormant UFO, but I can't bear to keep working on it when there's a distinct possibility that I'll rip out everything I do.

So . . . remember this old thing?

You may have seen it looking not much smaller in the What's On Our Needles section of the website. It's been on needles for, at a guess, over two years. It tends to see daylight (and progress) about this time of year, because I get it into my head that I could finish it in time to wear it for Rosh Hashanah.

It's getting a little unwieldy. The row is over 600 stitches long now. You can see

that there are several needles in it--five, I think--because the middle section got too wide for a 24" circular, and I didn't have another longer one, and I couldn't face buying another 3.25 mm circular when, as you can see, there were already quite a few lying around the house.

I should be in the home stretch. I know I've started the seed stitch blocks in the four corners, and planned out the final color sequence. But my project notes are, um, well . . . here, look:

The two columns of numbers on the left are Koigu dye codes, I know, representing two possible endgame color series. I must have opted for the one on the right, because one of the two balls attached to the work is #623 (the ball band is wound into the ball in anticipation of just such occasions). But how many rows am I working with each skein? How many to transition between skeins? The tally on the right is fairly clear about how far one skein will go--though I have no idea what the numbers 8, 6, and 3 1/2 represent.

The important stuff is at the bottom of the right column:

That's where I'm trying to tell myself how many rows it is from this point (what point? The point where I made the notes, of course) to the end, and how they're distributed. I think they were actually just a counting device so the seed stitch blocks would start at the right point.

You'd think by now I'd know my own knitting habits well enough to keep better records, wouldn't you? I mean, by the time I made these notes, the project had been on needles for more than a year and had gone dormant at least twice. Apparently some part of my brain thinks the rest of me likes a challenge.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Quiz & WOMN

Thanks for your patience with the Rosie's First (and maybe last?) Annual Trivia Quiz. We're glad to see that the quiz was as hard as we thought it was, Fuzzy Navels aside. We are in the process of contacting the winner and will update you with her name (sorry, guys) and the correct answers shortly.

In the meantime... here's what's on my needles:

The beginnings of a sock in one of the new Supersocke Nepal colors. This one is number 779 - it's brighter than it looks in the skein. I am a huge fan of the socks on two circulars method; I prefer 16-inch cables on my needles -- most people use 24" -- but I like having less cable dangling around. I'll keep you updated on the sock's progress. Maybe blogging about it will shame me into finishing it faster.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Just a Little Catching Up Here

Wendy’s making stockings out of Blue-Faced Leicester from the Sheep and Wool Festival—will it ever be cold enough to wear them?

Sherry is beginning a belt made out of hemp:

Dorlynn finished this first sleeve of a Calmer sweater from last summer’s Rowan—

--but then discovered she’d left the smaller needle at home, so she couldn’t start the second one. These are the sorrows of the mobile knitter.

Amy is using Manos to make the yoga-mat bag from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch,

Cheri is making a sock,

and their friend Elisa is making a light-blue baby blanket, but the photo didn’t come out well.

Awhile back, I mentioned swatching the pencil roving from Chester Farms in a “real” pattern. Here’s how it looked:

It was my first thought for the Big Cable Hat that became the Project of the Month:

And there wasn’t anything wrong with it from a knitting standpoint; I just realized how hard it would be to put kits of the roving up to buy online, because the stuff is sold by weight, and each disk varies in size. It turned out that I kind of loved working with the Eco Wool anyway, so no harm done. But the roving was neat: the warnings on the packaging about how weak it is, and how you should double-strand it, are unduly alarmist. Yes, it’s soft. You can’t unravel and re-knit it at all. But it didn’t drift apart as I was knitting, and my tension is pretty average. I was also deliberately using a pattern that had cables and slipped stitches, more or less to test it. It held up fine. It looks and feels a bit like the late, lamented Waterspun from Classic Elite—light, fluffy, soft, dry, almost cotton-ball-like.

The hat was a quickie. Just so you’ll know I wasn’t kidding about starting a new shawl when I’d finished the last one:

This is Summer in Kansas, from Two Old Bags, in Grignasco’s Merino
, a yarn I’ve been dying to get my hands on. The pattern calls for Icelandic laceweight on US #7 needles at 4.5 sts per inch. I’m getting the 4.5, but on US #3s—such are the marvels of lace, such is the mystery of gauge, and such is the bounciness of merino.