December 27, 2005


I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season, with a minimum of stress and a maximum of pastry seasonal cheer.

Me, I'm just glad it's winding down. Despite my efforts to keep things simple, everything combined always ends up being too...too, what with the booze and the sodium and the electronics and the paper and the lights and the crowds and the general atomoshpere of frenzy. I spend the last week of every year slightly dazed, as though I've just emerged from out of a particularly garish pinball machine.

Last night, that sweater coat became

a lot of very fine, somewhat fragile yarn. I was wrong when I guessed that it would be a fingering weight made of several plies - turns out it's two strands of laceweight-ish knit together. It needs to dry, and be wound, and then we'll see what we see.

To rip the coat, I used this


Courtesy of my boyfriend, who apparantly braved the uncharted and highly treacherous territory that is the knitting store in order to pick this up. It's perfect, since I don't need a ballwinder - I'm getting pretty handy with the nostepinne method - but the whole outstretched-knees-as-skein-holder thing wasn't really cutting it.

He gave me this, too:

I've been wanting this collection for a long time; there are some unbelievably beautiful patterns and motifs in here (Frost Flowers, anyone?). It's worth having for the charts alone, but the prose is charming and some real effort went into making this a coherent collection. Huzzah for wonderfully thoughtful, much-needed and much-appreciated presents!

Yesterday, I got my first (long-delayed) closeup look at the winter Interweave. This design was the only thing that caught my eye in the magazine -

but, oh, what a winner it is! I'm not crazy about the colors, but I love the concept, the shaping, the sense of geometry together with those sinuous cables that interlace and join the panels of the garment as though they grew that way. This is the sort of stuff I want to come up with - there's so little that's truly innovative when it comes to a craft as old as knitting, but man, is this a clever take on things.

Project Rundown:

--I decided Friday afternoon that I wouldn't try to finish my dad's sweater or the houndstooth clogs - a copout, maybe, but there were shrimp to be fried and temaki to be rolled in preparation for a big party. I really should learn not to bite off more than I can chew or choke down or chug.

--Some time ago, I took stalled-out projects off of the progress list. Brief obituaries follow:

  • Circular shrug: I hated the way the motifs were looking, hated the length of my rib section, was running out of yarn, and probably would not have found a shrug all that flattering (I think I was induced to cast on by the same flight of wild fancy that makes me think every May that yeah! This is the summer I can pull off one of those cute string triangle bikini tops. Yeah, no). I've been thinking lately of making a tightly shaped felt cloche, the mohair brushed up and shaved to resemble rabbit skin. Some wilting felted flowers and a droopy ribbon, and Ann Darrow'd have nothing on me.
  • Fair Isle Vest and the Fair Isle Sweater Jacket: The Fair Isle Exercise lives on, as the Fair Isle Armwarmers. The sweater jacket was poorly planned (suprise!), while the vest never really got off the ground. Until I develop an eye for color and pattern, I'll experiment with small projects.
  • Martha: Sigh. I have no excuses here, except that I got tired of knitting it. I came to dislike the Dale Stork (weird-feeling, like knitting with a full strand of embroidery floss), and dreaded the thought of stringing more beads. Maybe I'll get back to it when spring rolls around, or maybe it'll become a little baby jean-ish jacket.

Phew! Now, I just have to decide what knitting to take on vacation with me. The Austrian stockings? The baby sweater I've got to make? Those damn convertible mittens?

October 12, 2005


A Play In Two Acts

Cast of Characters

The Baby Fair Isle------A shower gift.
The Circular Shrug-----An experiment.
Dad's Gansey----------The martyr.
The Lace Scarf---------The lucky one.
Martha---------------The good girl.
The Rib and Cable Sock-A filler.
The Striped Sock-------A second filler.
The Sweater Jacket-----The vixen.
Eunny----------------------The narrator.

Act The First

(Lights come up)

Eunny: There are things I ought to be knitting. There's the shower gift for January, the one that started fine but looked all wonky and had to be restarted.

(enter The Baby Fair Isle)

There's sweet, lovely Martha, who I loved briefly and then chucked without a tear or a kind word.

(enter Martha, the Good Girl)

And there's Dad's gansey - the long-suffering sweater for my sainted father, the WIP who's patiently borne my indiscretions and my straying ways, the one I'll come back to, the only one that means anything to me.

(enter The Martyr)

Act The Second

(Lights come up, this time in lurid red)

Eunny: Then there are the temptations, the things I want to knit, the things I covet and dream about and creep out doors at midnight to rendezvous with in seedy bars and nightclubs. The ones for whom I duck into yarn stores, the ones for whom I buy presents of materials, the ones I lavish time and attention on - the bright moths that captivate and then disappear, having flown too close to the flame.

I'm going to rip out that shrug and start again. It gives me no grief, no pause - after all, it's just an experiment, right?

(enter The Shrug)

And the socks - who cares? I'll knit them when I feel like it. They're just socks, a dime a dozen, they don't mean anything.

(enter The Socks)

That lace scarf? I'm done with her. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Already forgotten; she was beautiful, but she was shallow and cold.

(The Lace Scarf enters, but remains at far stage right)

I've moved on.

(enter the Sweater Jacket)

I give up. I've tried and tried to reign myself in, but I just can't seem to control my appetites. I embrace my profligacy; I welcome licentiousness. Monogamy is for suckers.

September 06, 2005


Goodbye, albatross!

I am in love with Martha:

All right, all right, maybe it's lust.

August 26, 2005

The Executive Summary

Jeff's sweater is on the homestretch -

I'm going to knit both sleeves at once; that way, once they're off the needle, the main knitting is done. I have an idea for the actual construction of this garment (the shoulder straps, particularly), but I have to think about it. If I know me, it will probably turn out to be a ridiculous, unwieldly method that manages to actually be worse than the sewing I was trying to avoid in the first place.

Martha's clipping along at a nice pace, too:">

The pattern in the forming fabric is a series of groovy interlocking waves, but the stitches should open up to almost perfect squares when blocked. To tell the truth, I'm not sure which I like better:

And Butterfly, slut that she is, is actually becoming easier the less time I spend on her. I'd guess I'm about 30% through the back now. No, wait...make that 50 or 60 if you count the frill.

I apologize. I know...there are only so many pictures one can take of crumpled lace-in-progress.

August 24, 2005

Actual progress

The front panel of Butterfly is done:

I'm amazed at how quickly this went. I sat down this morning and completed the top half of this in a couple hours - I'd guess there are maybe only six or seven actual knitting hours in this front piece. The back will go even faster, as I've decided to do a straight bind-off at the armhole, rather than duplicate the front neckshaping.

I got a nice chunk of Martha done as well:

I love this fabric, these beads, this color, this pattern, everything. I'm busy thinking, too, about the mechanics of the mods I'm planning on - split side seams and sleeve cuffs; lapels; etc. With the rate this is going, it won't be long.

Tomorrow, I'll have an Actual! Finished! Object! to show you, but I'm not adverse to showing it during the wet-blocking it's undergoing to correct some shaping:

The Beowulf hoodie?

August 23, 2005

Lovely and amazing

So sometimes I have these really vivid dreams about knitting - once I dreamt that a drop spindle was whirling my hair around and inching slowly, inexorably, towards my scalp, and once I dreamt that a giant knitting needle was lunging at me, epee style. Still, I think I've never dreamt of anything quite like this:

417 stitches. In moss stitch (anyone with me on the k1, p1 hate?). In stringy cotton. Crammed on a way-too-small needle, necessitating a major stitch redistribution every 20 stitches or so. Four hundred and seventeen stitches. I have five and half rows done...only seven more to go. The really perverse part, of course, is that none of this is called for in the pattern for a simple pullover - I blundered into this merrily, quite of my own accord.

In other news, I finally cast on for Martha:

I'm planning on doing split sides, with some corner shaping, so I'm knitting into a foundation row of contrasting cotton and hoping to do the garter edging later, after this thing is seamed (want to make something of it?) Too bad I totally failed to notice this little issue:

One of my needles was a 3.25mm needle, where all my others were a 2.75mm. Aughhh. I was at Jeff's house, and didn't see any way I could cram the stitches onto two needles and knit with the remaining needle of the correct I had to cry uncle on this for the night.

On the other hand, it meant I got to work on Jeff's sweater a little more - I'm a solid 3/4 of a way into the front panel before the neck shaping:

The safety pins are my incredibly sophisticated row-counting method...a pin every ten rows means I never lose my place and can match shapings (not that there are any in this piece) for opposing sections. In fact, I'm so sophisticated, this is how I fix mistakes I don't notice until almost too late:

To cement my amazingly, astonishingly fancy refinement in your minds forever, and win your knitting awe and respect for time immemorial, I offer you my very elegant row-counting method for Butterfly:

August 22, 2005

Jessica at Rose-Kim Knits has

Jessica at Rose-Kim Knits has sweetly added me to the Martha-along list, even though I'm six months late to the party. I went yarn shopping today:

I'm going to use Dale Stork, a soft 100% cotton, for this in a muted navy color. This stuff seems pretty lush so far - it contains no acrylic or animal fiber, but it's bouncy and very soft and not at all "stringy". While I was out, I also got some beads that might look good:">

And swatched my little heart out:

I pitched the iridescent black seeds beads and went with the sea green ones in front - I love the way the green glass looks against the dark blue, the way it subtly brings out the green in the yarn and keeps it from looking like denim. Wearing something embellished in this way is a bit of a stretch for me, but I already adore this...I think it's the juxtaposition of the very square stitch pattern and the very dainty adornments. To take the theme a little further, I'm thinking that I'm going to alter the neckline and add some more shaping to turn this into a fitted jacket:

It's such a dense, firm fabric patterned in such a structural fashion; I think it would be fabulous as a nipped-waist jacket closed with a single hook-and-eye under the bust and finished with a wide lapel collar shaped with short rows. We'll see how all this works out - I really like this idea, though.

I also started playing with Baby Ull colors for the baby fair isle -

Unfortunately, the colors that looked so pretty together in the basket turned out looking like something a Fourth-of-July rodeo clown would wear when swatched. I'm going to look for a darker, wine-ier red, I think, a brighter pink, a darker gray for background, and a better blue (or eliminate the blue altogether).

In other news, I sucked it up and finished the main knitting of the aran cardigan - I didn't realize blogging would provide such an impetus to make measurable progress on things :)

I was so pleased with myself for managing the three-needle bindoff on the top of the hood so cleverly, getting the cable band to cross right in the middle and everything...

but totally failed to realize that the cable is crossed the wrong way - the only incorrect cable in this whole freaking sweater - until I looked at this photo more closely just now. Now I'm taking perverse pleasure in wondering whether I should rip and fix this.

I'm thinking not, because it's at the top of my head where no one will notice, and because I have this to deal with right now:

Seriously, a veritable runway of stitches to be picked up and knit. Worse than a runway, actually, because once I get to the vanishing point you see above, at the tip of the hood, I have to turn and come back to the other bottom front edge. Gah.

August 19, 2005

In progress now...

Like everyone else, I have a couple things on the needles right now and a bunch I can't wait to get started on. The main thing I'm working on is a sweater for my boyfriend - promised to him for his birthday two months ago, it's been lingering in various stages of half-completion for a long time. I'm bound and determined to get it done now, as quickly as possible - it's a worsted-weight cotton sweater with traditional motifs; a summer sweater if I ever saw one. I had these vague ideas that he'd wear it with shorts and flipflops walking on a boardwalk...and now August is more than half gone.

I have to say, though, it's kind of fun to see this thing go from a vague sketch:

To a fully fleshed-out, detailed and swatched and calculated blueprint:

To this.

Here's a detail of the motifs: it's going to be a proper old-school aran, drop-shouldered and saddle strapped, with an arrangement of moss stitch, split cables, and a braided cable around a traveling-stitch lattice.

I'm already a day behind - I've been trying to knit a skein a day, working on the assumption that this thing will take about ten skeins. I'm done with the back and halfway through the front panel now, since casting on Sunday.

The Cotton Fleece I'm using is nice enough, but despite its wool content, it's pretty unforgiving when it comes to heavy cabling. It's absolute murder on my hands - so I'm breaking with this lovely thing:

Butterfly, from Rowan 37. I'm using delicious wool/silk Jaggerspun Zephyr in a warm toffee kind of shade. Despite the fineness of the yarn and the size of the garment, the lace pattern really cranks the pattern along - there are only 87 stitches on the needle at the widest point. I've done the double ruffle for the front, and am about halfway done with the panel itself:

And a detail that shows the true color much better than the awful photo above:

Blocked out, this one is going to be an absolute winner.

I can't wait to get started on Martha from the same magazine -

In fingering wool, I think, instead of cotton. Maybe in a dull sage color, with iridescent black or silver beads. Besides that, I have at least ten thousand baby sweaters to knit (I'm thinking fairisle stranded each stitch), and Christmas gifting to get a jump on...and I have a bunch of ideas that I haven't gotten around to patterning or working up yet: a felted jaquard knitting bag; a pullover quilted with knotwork cables; a shawl with a pattern of cherry blossoms...