Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Have you seen this thing?

I was highly suspicious of the new Amazon Kindle e-book when I saw it on the cover of Newsweek. I like books. Real, tactile books. Bonus if they smell like old paper, glue, and leather. Although I spend much of my day staring at a computer screen, I'd much rather read from paper. I don't have the same retention from on-screen reading, or the same enjoyment. I like to see the books I have read on my shelves. I like to keep them around me, like old friends.

But as I read this article in Newsweek and this article in Slate, I warmed up to it a little.

For one thing, it has a new kind of display, e-ink, that's supposed to look more like paper. I'm always skeptical of "more like" claims. As in, "Tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper." Than what? Gasoline? If this e-ink is all it's cracked up to be, I could be interested. It looks good in photos, but, as far as I can tell, the only way to see for yourself is to shell out the $400 and buy one.

Its potential uses for knitters, though, are what really intrigue me.

You could have your entire knitting library on this little device in your knitting bag. You could go to a local yarn shop while on vacation, pick out a new yarn to go with a pattern you already have and cast on right away. Need to consult a reference tome for help with a certain technique? No problem, the Kindle stores up to 200 books. And it does magazines, too. Imagine being able to word search through your Interweave Knits subscription. Everything you could possibly need in a small, portable device.

Perhaps the best part is that it's a book that doesn't need to be propped open. I don't generally buy hardbacks, and reading a paperback while knitting is somewhat of a challenge; you have to be willing to break the spine of your book, for one thing, and that's just hard for me. My reading has dropped off significantly since I became obsessed with knitting, and that bothers me a little. With the Kindle, though, you just press a button to flip between pages. Even better, I think, than the audio book, because it doesn't keep going on without you when you drop a stitch or need to count or someone needs to speak with you.

Maybe I'll keep an eye out for the second generation. Don't tell my books.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yoke progress

I'm making some uncertain progress with the Fair Isle Yoke Sweater.

When I swatched , I used my new 16" Inox Express US 4 needle that I purchased to knit the sleeves with, and got pleasing fabric at a gauge of 5.5 stitches to the inch. And so I pulled out my Options US 4 tips, attached them to the cable, and put them in my knitting bag with many skeins of my 2-ply Jumper yarn to take with me on my holiday trip. I noticed straight away that the Options 4 was a little larger than the Inox 4, but I figured some slight variation between brands was to be expected.

Finding some quiet time to myself on Thursday night, I sat in my favorite knitting spot at my MIL's house, cranked up the podcasts, and cast on.

casting on

After several inches, I began to notice that the body looked rather large. I compared it to a sweater I had brought, one that fits me a little loosely, and it was a little bigger. Hmm. After a few more inches, I pulled out the measuring tape and checked my gauge. Of course, I didn't take a pre-washing gauge on my swatch, so this is apples and oranges, but I was getting 5 stitches to the inch. I finished knitting the body while I decided what to do.

If I had 220 stitches at 5 stitches to the inch, then I was going to get a 44" sweater, when I had planned for a 40" sweater. I decided that I would make it a cardigan, and when I steeked the front, I'd take out 10 stitches, giving me a 42", enough ease to wear over a turtleneck or tee shirt. So I marked my side stitches accordingly (thankfully I hadn't put in any shaping), and recalculated the number of stitches to cast on for the sleeve using a base number of 210.

I knit the first sleeve. It came out a little snug for a sweater that was supposed to be 2" larger than I originally planned, partially because I increased at a slower rate than the pattern specified. Then I attached it to the body of the sweater, and it just looked wrong.

so close, yet

I was so certain that I had knit the body with 5s instead of 4s that I refrained from casting on the second sleeve on the drive back and wasted a couple of hours of perfectly good knitting time.

I just double checked, and I was using 4s all along.

At this point, I'm thinking I'll move one of the phoney seams and reknit the sleeve using the original numbers and the correct rate of increase.

If I eat as much at Christmas as I did over Thanksgiving, I'll be needing a larger sweater anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I knit about an inch of the fair isle yoke sweater last night, but then I ripped it, so I don't have anything to show you. I can, however, give you a yummy recipe. I've been eating this for breakfast with my coffee.

Pumpkin Bread

Makes 3 loaves.


1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2/3 c. water
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Optional: chopped walnuts, white raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease and flour three 7x3" loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, water, sugar, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir dry mixture into pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into prepared pans.

3. Bake for 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Take gauge and cast on.

As expected, my Jamieson & Smith Shetland came yesterday. I had intended to knit a swatchcap, but I decided to go quick and dirty instead.


I am so glad to see this thing in natural light. I was running around from lamp to lamp last night trying to see if I liked the colors, if there was enough contrast or if it was all going to blend together. But I think it looks ok. And if I switch the blue and the green in the design above, I think it will look even better. Now all I have to do is take gauge and cast on.

The yarn for the Tomten has, I fear, been delayed. I ordered it from the same place I ordered the first batch from, figuring that's my best chance at matching dyelots. But I have this thing where it's almost impossible for me to buy just one item. I've put stuff down that I really sort of wanted or needed and left a store because I couldn't find anything else to buy. So of course I looked around before checking out. And this bag fell in my cart. (Actually, I wanted to buy it a while ago, but, well, I couldn't find anything else to buy with it.) And I only noticed later that it's backordered.

Lastly, the November sock prohibition has ended. Sunday night I was too tired to knit anything with a chart (so no Aino's Glove or Mom's Cardi), I didn't feel like i-cord casting on for the second mitered mitten, and I was nigh out of yarn for the Tomten, so sock happened.


Sock is good.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things are looking up.

First, the front porch is painted and the back doors are repainted, both in exterior paint. Last night I charged the ol' iPod and downloaded some knitting podcasts to ease the pain. Repainting the back doors took one episode of Cast On, and Lime and Violet entertained me while I painted the front porch. I'm so glad not to have to dread doing that anymore. The best part: we can finally put the front porch light back up! A new mailbox and a trellis on the front post, and we'll be positively spiffy.

Second, we have a wee tiny reprieve.

Wee Tiny Reprieve

When I posted earlier today, I had wet blocked the Tomten and panicked when the garter stitch grew and none of the things that I had hoped blocking would help were helped. Since I was pretty fed up with it, I threw it in the dryer. Behold the power of the dryer. Everything is squishy and cute again.

Tomten Sleeve

The ladders in the sleeve are less noticeable, which leads me to believe a run through the washer and dryer will work them out completely.

Tomten Front

The armhole pick-ups have snugged up and look neat and tidy.

Wee Tiny Hood Glitch

The hood glitch is still there, but I can probably live with it. I'm going to have to buy more yarn anyway, so I can reknit the top of the hood if I just can't stand it.

As for buying more yarn, I only need an additional 12 grams or so, so I'll have enough Smooshy left over for a pair of socks. That's not too bad. Since when do I complain about an excuse to buy sock yarn?

And there is really no such thing as "too big" for babies. He'll be able to wear it sometime.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the night is young, and I have knitting to do.

Let 'er rip.

The wee tiny Tomten has run into some trouble.

1: I don't have enough yarn to knit the second sleeve, and I don't want to buy any more.

2: I knit the first sleeve in the round on DPNs I was afraid I wouldn't have enough yarn to seam it, and the purl rows laddered.

3: I don't like the way the sleeve looks where I picked up stitches on the front side.

4: The sleeve looks way too long.

5: It's coming out too big, and I know it's going to grow when washed.

6: I made a mistake on the hood, but didn't discover it until after I had grafted it, and then snipped the wrong thread when I went to fix it, creating a colossal mess.

wee tiny Tomten wee tiny Tomten

So, I'll salvage the yarn if it's not in too many pieces, and maybe someday it will be something else.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I did today instead of knitting.

A while back, we had to replace part of our front porch because the porch roof was leaking, and we've been putting off repainting it until, well, this weekend. (Yes, we're those neighbors.) Finally, it's cool enough, not raining, and we're otherwise out of excuses, so we went to the local paint store and got the paint.

As chance would have it, this is the color that best matches the existing trim on our house:

Paint Can - color

I started with the back doors, because they needed repainting, too, and I was almost finished when, pouring more paint, I saw this:

Paint Can - uh oh

We got the wrong paint. I don't know about you, but if I worked in a paint store and someone came in and asked for "Duration," and we had two lines of paint called "Duration," and one was interior paint and one was exterior paint, I'd ask to clarify. Especially since the paint is nonreturnable once tinted.

The humor has worn off. These are not the "wool skeins" that I want to be spending my money on. And this is not the way I like to work with "wool skeins."

Sigh. I need a beer. And some knitting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Come Monday

I just got a notice from Schoolhouse Press that my yarn for the Fair Isle Yoke sweater has shipped and should arrive on Monday. Which means that I am way, way behind Whitney and Lynn, who are knitting away like wild women on their yoked sweaters. And my sweater will be in fingering weight yarn, so it will take that much longer. But I think both have another yoke queued, so there's a chance that I can yoke-along yet.

[How many times can I start a sentence with a conjunction? Three. Or four.]

At least I've got some good drive time ahead of me next week for knitting. We'll be spending Thanksgiving at the ranch, and the 6+ hour drive each way should be good enough for two sleeves, at a minimum. (Knock on wood.)

What to do in the meantime? I'll confess I started two new projects solely because the fact that I only had two WIPs in the sidebar was making me nervous. I could have brought the Hex Coat out of hibernation, but I wouldn't want to wake a bear in winter. It's been sleeping for so long, it might be grumpy.

And so, without further ado, presenting one EZ Mitered Mitten, sans thumb:

EZ Mitered Mitten

And one wee tiny Tomten, sans, well, most of it:
wee tiny tomten

I'll try to push through a good hunk of Mom's Cabled Cardi this weekend, because we all know what's going to happen come Monday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rippled Baby Blanket

Rippled Baby Blanket

Here it is! It's a modification of the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl*, but I made enough changes that it's probably worth writing down.

Any pleasing combination of yarn and needles will work. I used Dream in Color Classy in Beach Fog and Summer Sky (2 skeins each), and size US7 DPNs and circular needles.

m1: I used the EZ m1, which is basically a twisted yarn over. Form a backwards loop over the right needle with the working yarn. Depending on which way you form the loop, you may need to knit that stitch through the back loop when you pass it again on the next row.
pattern: k2tog 3 times, k1, (m1, k1) 6 times, k2tog 3 times
increase row: *k1, m1, knit to marker, m1, slip marker, repeat from *
pattern row: k1, m1, k(0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15), pattern (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) times, k(0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15), m1, slip marker

Use the first number in each set of parentheses on the first pattern repeat. On each subsequent repeat, use the next number in purple and the first number in blue, until all of the purple numbers have been used. Then repeat using the second number in blue. So you’ll knit six pattern repeats with one pattern, and then six with the three patterns, etc.

Co 8 sts using Emily Ocker’s circular beginning
Divide stitches over 2 double pointed needles, increasing to 4 and then circular needles when necessary
1(MC): *k1, m1, repeat from *
2(MC): knit
3(CC): *k1, m1, k3, m1, repeat from *
4(CC): purl
5(MC): *k1, m1, k5, m1, repeat from *
6(MC): purl
7(CC): *k1, m1, k7, m1, repeat from *
8(CC): knit
9(MC): *k1, m1, k9, m1, repeat from *
10(MC): purl
11(CC): *k1, m1, k11, m1, repeat from *
12(CC): purl
13(MC): *k1, m1, k13, m1, repeat from *
14(MC): knit
15(CC): *k1, m1, k15, m1, repeat from *
17(CC): purl
18(MC): *k1, m1, k17, m1, place marker, repeat from *
19(MC): purl
20(CC): begin pattern repeat, changing colors after every second row, carrying the unused color up one corner of the blanket

pattern repeat:
1: pattern row
2: knit
3: increase row
4: purl
5: increase row
6: purl

Continue until you reach the desired size. I cast off after plain knit row after the k0, pattern seven times, k0 row, and my blanket was 32" square unblocked, 40" square after blocking.

Cast on 2 stitches to left hand needle. *k1, k2tog through the back loop, slip 2 stitches back to left needle, repeat from * until all stitches are bound off. Weave in loose ends and block.

Rippled Baby Blanket - modeled

This is the closest thing we have to a baby around here to model the blankie. Well, besides Duke, but I didn't want dog hair on the clean blanket. You can see the wrong side and cast-off pretty well in this picture.

* Don't let the picture fool you; there are some breathtaking versions on Ravelry.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

At last.

To the delight of everyone in our household, the baby blanket is finished and taking a bath.


Remember how after last weekend I thought I was mostly done? Well, it took another full weekend of devoted knitting to finish. Unblocked, it was about 32 inches square, and I plan to block it to about 35 inches square.

I'm glad to have it done in plenty of time so that I can add in something that I might actually enjoy knitting. I have a skein of Smooshy in summer sky that should end up as either a baby bog jacket or a tomten to round out the gift.

Marking the end of another agonizing process, here are the colors I have chosen for my fair isle yoke sweater.

Fair Isle Yoke Sweater Colors


Thursday, November 8, 2007


The question of what to do with the Suri Merino has been answered by the Knitty surprise. A lacy cardigan would be completely wearable in alpaca, even in a warm climate. I'm not in any hurry to cast on, but it eases my mind to have a plan. As for the High Neck Cable, I might knit a tweedy version; I might not. It wouldn't be the first time I've purchased a pattern and not knit it.

But look at that sidebar -- only three WIPs. Looks a little thin to me. If I finish the baby blanket this weekend, it will be positively paltry. I got the new Knitting Around DVD from Schoolhouse Press in the mail yesterday, though, so maybe it's time for a new Zimmermann project. With colorwork, because I can't get enough of it right now.

new project?

Hear that, Whitney? I'll be yoke-ing along with you. Anyone else in?

I just need to put down the glove for half a minute and pick out some colors. After this row.

No yarn was harmed in the ripping of this sweater.

I'm still unsure about what to do about the High Neck Cable*, but the first, and most painful, step has been taken.

High Neck Cable goes rip

I had to rip. There really wasn't any getting around it. For one thing, as Kristy pointed out, alpaca is hot. A close-fitting alpaca turtleneck might not be the best idea, especially if you live in Texas and your office is like a sauna already.

So then the question was, how far do I rip? I could rip just some of the waist shaping and leave out a few decreases, or I could take it back to before the waist shaping and knit a straight tube as the pattern suggests. What I did not want to do was rip the whole thing out. And yet I knew that I'd never be happy with it, and it was my own fault. I started deviating from the pattern at row one by extending the cables into the ribbing. That, combined with my severe waist shaping, caused the center panel to bow out a little bit over my belly instead of forming a slimming straight column. Not. Flattering.

While I was mulling over what to do, I came across Kim Hargreaves' Heartfelt collection. While there's nothing there that I particularly itch to knit, I do like the look of the cream-colored sweaters with dark horn buttons. And then I saw Chic Knits Twist which reminded me about the Beaverslide Fisherman Weight yarn in Fringed Sagewort that I picked up when I bought the yarn for my husband's Tomten, thinking maybe I'd make one for myself someday. It might be pretty in cables, like that Land's End sweater I want.

And then suddenly, I had an idea. How about a High Neck Cable in a tweedy neutral yarn with dark horn buttons?

I swatched, and I'm liking the fabric best at just under 3.5 stitches to the inch. It could work, but I still need to ruminate a little bit before casting on. I think I might prefer more drape and less bulk with this pattern, but I'd really like to use yarn I already have. Maybe even the Suri Merino.

Perhaps I should devote some time to Mom's sweater before I decide.

*Correction: I stated before that the High Neck Cable pattern doesn't specify finished measurements. It does; I just apparently can't read. Or follow directions.

In other news, the Frostrosen Mittens are finished. And since we have a projected high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit this sunny November day, I suppose I can't control the weather with my needles after all. Humbug.

Frostrosen Mittens

These are from the kit at Nordic Fiber Arts, which includes the pattern and two skeins of Rauma Finullgarn. I like this yarn so much, I've ordered a color card and several skeins for the bounty of mittens and gloves I plan to knit. It's hairy and sticky, which makes colorwork considerably easier, and blocks to a nice fabric with a decent drape and doesn't itch. I made the medium size (using US2s) and they seem to fit nicely. I've never had mittens before, so I don't really have anything to compare them to. Others have noted that this style of mittens comes out long to accommodate the use of the double motif; I have maybe half an inch of extra fabric at the fingertips, but I have long fingers.

When I knit the first motif, I left out the very center stitch and didn't realize it until I got to the same spot in the second motif. Instead of correcting it, I just repeated it. But it started bugging me, so after all was said and done I pulled out some Palette from my stash and duplicate stitched the center stitch in light blue. It adds a little something, I think.

I'll try to get some better pictures later, but in the meantime here are some more detailed pictures of the first one. The second looks remarkably the same.

Frostrosen Frostrosen

My latest obsession is Folk Knitting in Estonia. I have had this book on my shelf for a while, but hadn't knit anything from it. Now I want to knit almost everything. So, why not start with the first pattern in the book?

aino's gloves

The design is created with a technique called roositud, which is achieved by weaving the contrasting yarn between the stitches as you knit them. It's a little tricky at first, but very addictive. I'm having serious one-more-row-itis with this glove, and I want to roositud everything now.

I love the patterning on the fingers. Remember the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha's beau gave her a large canary diamond to wear on her middle finger so he'd have something pretty to look at when she, er, gave him the one-finger-wave? Heh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm no quitter.

So I made a resolution after I finished my Ringwood socks that there would be no socks in November. I've knit 23 pairs since I learned to knit socks in March, and I needed a break. I wanted to knit hats, mittens, gloves, and other small accessories (they'll have to pry my DPNs out of my cold dead hands), but no socks for a while.

I even toyed with the idea of casting on a pair for my husband on Halloween and then leaving them untouched for the month because I had said I'd have a pair on the needles for him until he had seven pair, but the feeling of not having any socks on the needles was delicious, and I didn't want to lose it. So I amended my rule; if I'm knitting socks, I have to be knitting socks for him, too.

It's working. A week into November, I'm tempted everywhere I look. I get my KnitPicks catalog, and suddenly I must knit the New England socks in my green Smooshy. [They looked better in the catalog.] I've been dreaming of knitting some Scroll Lace Socks in my blue Wollmeise. And there's the Fancy Silk Socks and Child's First Socks and Gentlemen's Socks for Evening Wear and Child's French Socks that I've got the yarn picked out for. All your vintage socks are belong to me.

calling my name

And now Terhi has posted her beautiful Ringwood socks, and all I want to do is knit another pair with a contrast detail like hers.

Does anyone believe I can hold out until the end of the month? Right now the only thing that's keeping me from casting on is that little promise I made that means if I cast on one pair, I have to cast on two, and I still want to focus on the mittens and gloves and hats. And sweaters.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Enough for now.

I always tend to overestimate how much I can knit in a given period of time. As in, a baby blanket in a weekend. I sort of knew that I probably wouldn't actually finish, but it was a noble goal.

baby blanket progress

I'm far enough from it that I don't feel the need to stay up half the night finishing it just to prove a point, and close enough that I can put it aside for a little while without feeling guilty. January, after all, is still a little while away.

So now it's time for me to make like a Bruneaux.

dog tired

Friday, November 2, 2007

Baby Blanket, Take Three

Way back in June or July I promised a friend of mine that I would make her a baby blanket. I did this of my own volition, knowing full well how boring it would be for me to knit. After all, my first ever project was a baby blanket, and I never finished it (and don't plan to). Still, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, I purchased quantities of Dale Baby Ull in off white and set to planning. At first, I thought I'd knit a bias garter stitch square, and edge it in lace. I knit a few inches and put it away.


I had tried several types of needles, and it showed in the garter stitch, so I decided to rip and try something more, well, interesting. There was charting and lace and possibilities. I expected to finish sometime in October.

Baby Shawl Progress

But in my heart I knew that this mom-to-be isn't the lace type and that I'm quite possibly not the lace-knitting type. Stitch counts were off and the blanket was put aside again. And yet I struggled, because what kind of baby blanket does one knit with fingering weight off-white yarn besides lace?

October came and went, and still no progress on this blanket. January suddenly didn't seem so far away. So I decided to stop struggling against the yarn and go in a new direction entirely.

Baby Blanket

Worsted weight, for me. (Dream in Color Classy)

Color, for Little Boy Blue. (Summer Sky and Beach Fog)

No holes for little fingers to get caught in.

And machine washable and dryable for Mom. No blocking required.

I think we have a winner.

It's amazing what can happen when you look at the bright side; it's not failure, it's an opportunity to buy more yarn.

If I can knock this out this weekend, I'll be over the moon.