Monday, 28 January 2008

My New "Invention"

As we all know I’m rather easily pleased with myself sometimes and can be made disproportionately happy about little things. Sometimes this is good, sometimes, well, I go a little overboard, like now.

I made it my mission this weekend to come up with the material for a chart board, which I did. It cost more than I wanted to spend, but it is exactly what I had in mind, excepting one small detail, but I didn’t/don’t have time to hunt all over the country for one. Anyway, here it is:

Basically it’s just a flat magnetic board with a cut to fit strip magnet on it. Exciting isn’t it? I told you I was easily pleased. It does have the added advantage of having holes at the top and bottom, which, if used in conjunction with two straight knitting needles, allow me to prop it up so that I could sit it on a table, or on the couch next to me should I desire to do so. I had also recently ordered some magnets (reason below for coherency’s sake) and was “given” about 20 really tiny magnets, which I couldn’t bring myself to throw out, but had no idea what I would ever use them for. Now I know. See them around the edge of the paper? Handy no? Then see the cluster of the leftovers near the top right hand corner? I use those to put my darning needles, options cable keys and crochet hooks on. That way I don’t lose them and always have them when I need them. YAY! No more searching for random knitting paraphernalia on the couch, between cushions, hidden in my clothes etc. I am lovin this. See? Easily pleased. The only thing missing is the magnifying thingy for over the chart line you're doing, but like I said, I don't have time to hunt all over the country for one.

Now to the magnets. This was another one of my better ideas. My neighbour has cats. Three to be exact. These cats are not allowed in the house and she often forgets to feed them. These cats are also not stupid. They know that I have a warm apartment with self-service cat food. I had no problem with them living with me until I started going through cat food by the ton. Then when they started chasing my cats out of my apartment, it had to stop. I got a cat door with a “key”. The key is a magnet in the shape of a mouse’s head. They cost $15 a pop. If you own a cat, you will know that all cat collars, with good reason, have an elastic band or a clip that will open under pressure so that the cat can get it off if it gets caught on something. This is a good thing for the cat, but bad for the owner if there is a $15 magnet attached to the collar. Up until this point, I had been labouring under the assumption that the “key” is somehow special, after all, it is in the shape of a mouse’s head. I began to wonder what that “special” thing could be and decided to see if I could find out. It looked normal, reacted normally (for a magnet) and didn’t seem to have any other special features. So, I decided to try and see if a normal magnet would work. I checked, it worked, I Googled and several days later was the owner of 20 ring magnets – cost: $20 including shipping and small order charges. They work like a dream. Now when my cat loses its collar, all I have to do is replace the collar itself and attach said ring magnet to the collar. yay. Granted, these magnets don’t look like a mouse’s head, but somehow I think I’m fairly safe in the assumption that the cats do not care.

In knitting news: I finished my phone socks on Sunday and CO another pair, CO what were supposed to be the TBGA socks for my aunt, but have since decided I want softer wool for her and will CO another pair for her tonight. That won’t stop me from doing the others for myself. No work on the Stole this weekend as I want to the TGBA socks done as soon as possible, before the guilt over the telephone bill is totally alleviated and I no longer feel the need to make reparations, however symbolic they might be.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Stole Progress and Other Things

It’s funny. My two year knitting anniversary is in March. I started with a garter stitch “scarf” in grey wool. I had to throw it away later because it was so bad. The edges looked like my friendly local mice had been chewing on them and the stitching was uneven. Plus there were probably a few dropped stitches in it too. I remember sitting there desperately trying to get the needle under the stitch without dropping it and thinking it was bloody impossible and who in their right mind would ever want to sit here and do this because it was stupid and annoying and absobloodylutely no fun at all, aka dontcomenearmebecauseiamarmedwithsharpsticksandamsupremelymiffed syndrome. Alas, I am stubborn and persisted; not because I wanted to produce pretty pieces, but because I refused to be beaten by two sticks and a piece string. Looking at it like that, I feel like I’ve come a long way, even if it often doesn’t seem like it. Other times I fell like a beginning knitter because there are a lot of things I’ve never done and I’ve never done anything really difficult, like steeking *faints at thought*. Weird how perspective can change things. I would really love to have 30 years of knitting experience under my belt without actually being 30 years older. Can anyone arrange that for me?

Work on the Stole continues, with one major improvement. I’ve taken Mari’s advice and put in a life line. Should have learned to do this long ago. I’m planning on putting in multiple lines now that I’ve actually taken the trouble to figure out how it works – yeah, it was real hard, I know. Note the words “taken the trouble” Looking up how to do it is a prerequisite for doing it, i.e. unless you’re sooper intelligent and it’s glaringly obvious how it works without instruction, which I’m not. I looked it up. - So, multiple. I want to be secure in the knowledge that I will not have to rip out a week’s worth of work if I suddenly notice something one pattern repeat down.

Next improvement: I plan on putting something together to hold my charts up, or at least where I can mark them better. I’m thinking along the lines of a metal clipboard with anti-slip stuff on the back (so it doesn’t slide off the pillow I keep it on) and a strip magnet to hold my place. There are commercial ones you can buy, but I’d have to get it from the States, pay for shipping and wait for it to come. I want it NOW (patience is not one of my better qualities) and they all aren’t what I really want. The only thing I might have trouble finding here are the magnifying strips, which would be cool, but nothing’s perfect.

I do have to admit that it’s nice to see the pattern appearing as you knit. You can really see (and measure) the project. This means I also am now sure that I don’t have enough yarn to do the length I want. I’m going back and getting more yarn tomorrow. If I have leftovers, I’ll do her the matching Tam. It will look nice on her and she’ll be thrilled.

I think I’ll give myself a break from that tonight and just work on my sock. It seems silly to have the first half of a second sock on the needles when it could be finished and wearable with just a couple of hours work – Oh I do so love the thick sock yarn. The knit up so much faster! They’re also warmer. Not that we need it since we seem to have skipped winter all together this year and just gone over to a harsh spring of sorts, but still, I’d rather be wearing them.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Stole Update

I went home last night, looked at the stole and thought it didn’t look too bad, except for a couple of mistakes in the diamond pattern (one on each side to be exact). Figuring it would be easier to open just that panel and fix it, this is what I did. Yeah. Opened the panel. Opened it right up. What a good idea. Yeah. Just as I was beginning to think that lace wasn’t all that bad, I opened a panel. With arans, this is not a problem. You open the panel, re-knit it and life goes on. Theoretically, this should be the same with lace, but those little YOs are just sitting there laughing at you as you open them up. Bwahahahahahaha! We have a live one now! Let’s just disappear! And that, my friends, is just what they did. Even when I caught the little buggers before they just dropped off, I wound up with the strangest, most inexplicable stitch counts in that panel. I opened even more in the hopes of eventually hitting the right number, suddenly I had 2 more, but this was too many, then three were missing, then they came back, then one went missing…you get the point.

The other thing about lace, and this is important, you can’t just “fix it”. Too few stitches? M1 is not an option. Too many? K2togging is not an option. It messes with the pattern and the pattern is the whole point. Anything else, you can fix easily, but lace laughs in the face of quick fixes. In short, I’ve come to the conclusion that lace is evil and it likes it that way.

Now, I may be blond (sometimes more than others), but I am capable of learning. Having been here before, I decided that the speediest way of fixing the problem would be to frog the 21 rows of pattern that I had already done and re-knit the piece. This is what I did. It was a good idea. I managed to re-knit 12 rows last night. Apparently I also learned quite a lot between knitting it the first time and creating my own excel chart because it looks ever so much better now. Even the bits that looked fine before look better. The pattern is coming out clearer and it will take less blocking to get it to look good. When I finish the first pattern repeat, I’ll stretch it and take pictures…

providing I ever get the first repeat done that is. I’m not naïve. This is lace. Pink lace. It hasn’t finished with me yet. Can one ever be prepared enough to do battle with pink lace and win?

I think not.

Monday, 21 January 2008

My Weekend, Yarn Sale, The Stole and other Ramblings.

I had several things to post today and now I’ve forgotten it all. You know this means you’ll now be subjected to lots of rambling. Either grab a cup of tea, sit down and try and follow the strange twisty-windey paths of my brain, or run away as fast as you can. The latter is more conducive to your own mental health. Trust me on this one.

The Rogue: I LOVE IT. Love. Love. Love. Love. It is so comfortable. I foresee lots of wear. There is only one thing I don’t like about it, but that goes for about 90% of my clothes. It’s dark blue and I have tan dogs and black and white cats. I just washed it and it still looks like one or more of them has been sleeping on it, even though that’s impossible. I will have to get out the tweezers and de-fur it. Then hope I can get out of the house without forgetting to not touch the animals.

I went yarn shopping this weekend to get some new yarn for my grandmother’s stole. Short aside - my aunt braved it and spoke to her about it. She is fine with me not using the yarn. YAY! I think it will eventually go in the rubbish bin. I say think. I still find it very difficult to throw out yarn, even though I know I’m never going to knit with it.

OK, back to yarn shopping for Grandma’s stole. I arrive at the store fully intending to LOOK AT yarn for the Eris and buy solid colour sock yarn for about three pair of socks, the stole yarn and groceries (it is effectively a small department/grocery store with a very large yarn and material section). I walk up to the store, already noticing that there are neon orange signs everywhere. I get closer. These neon orange signs say 10% in large letters. I get even closer. Below the 10% it says ”on all wool”. My first thought? Good thing I’m on a diet. Second thought? How much of my grocery budget can I reallocate for yarn acquisition without starving to death? Third thought? Buy yarn first and groceries with what is left over. Fourth thought? Must seek psychiatric help.

Out went any ideas of only looking at yarn for the Eris. It’s a sweater. Sweaters are expensive. 10% is a lot on yarn for a sweater. Ergo, I was going to buy yarn for the sweater. Granted, the yarn I was planning on would only have been $50 at the regular price, but that’s a savings of $5 or, in yarny terms, one pair of socks. - Let me just point out here that I wear my hand knit socks on a daily basis. They are not a luxury, they are a life tool. They get worn for work, walking the dogs, cleaning the house and even going onto the balcony without shoes, ergo, I do not buy hand spun, hand dyed sock yarn for myself. Now I was given two lovely hanks of it (one from thepinksheep and one from Karoline Knits) and I will cherish those and try and knit something fabulous out of them, but it’s not money I would spend on myself for daily wear. The point? Oh yes, the point was it was enough of a savings that starving for a week was an option (one that got taken). Not that I am in any danger of actually starving within a month, let alone two weeks. Trust me.

OK, back to the yarn sale. Whilst choosing the yarn, I made a discovery: the women in that store can be nice. The prerequisites you ask? A: They must have seen you in the store many, many times before and B: You must casually mention that you have already knit a sweater and several pair of socks (in their yarn). This apparently gets you “in”. So much so that I almost couldn’t get rid of said nice sales lady. So much so that I forgot to purchase reinforcement yarn for my socks. I’ll have to go back now. ( I’ll be nice and spare you the convo details though.) The point you ask again? The point being that you really do have to live here forever to be accepted, unlike the States. Two years it took to get to this point. I am finally in. OK, there’s one woman I don’t think anyone ever gets “in” with, but then, she looks like she’s been sucking on lemons for most of her life. Certainly right before work anyway.

Back to the yarn sale. I bought a cotton blend, dark beige colour for the Eris. I would have preferred another colour myself, but it’s not for me, which is also why I went with the cotton blend. Wool is not for everyone. I also didn’t want to go too dark because of the cables, so light beige it was. Then I found a lovely 100% merino superwash on sale ($2 for 50g/160 meters) for my grandmother’s stole. I only bought 6 skeins and am now worried it won’t be enough. I think I’ll need almost one skein per Star repeat and there are 9 repeats. Another reason I will have to go back. By the way, it’s pink. I am now knitting pink lace. (I hear that evil laugh Tara! Pen! Mag! Sherrie!) Hell must have frozen over when I wasn’t looking.

I’ll spare you the details of the random sock yarn. I had to get plain because I want to do a pair for my aunt as a thank you, which brings me to…

The phone bill. $36 for a 6 min. collect call from Dulles Ariport to Ca. I nearly dropped dead from shock when I heard that. Then, I made a 4 min. phone call to Switzerland. That cost something like $14. Falling off chair ensued. There are another 8 min. of calls to Switzerland that haven’t shown up yet! That’s another $28. *hds* I don’t feel guilty about making the calls because they really weren’t frivolous “how are you and how is the weather” phone calls, but I do feel bad about the Humongoginormous costs and will be making her a pair of socks as a thank you. They shall be henceforth known as the TBGA Socks (Telephone Bill Guilt Alleviation). I’m planning on doing Dad’s Easy Cable Socks from Socks, Socks, Socks. They’re plain enough that she will like them, and not so plain that I will feel guilty about just knitting up a pair of plain socks like I didn’t really care enough to put an effort into it.

Oh, maybe I should mention at this point that there are exactly two things I have found to be cheaper in Switzerland than in the US: International telephone calls and yarn. In contrast to the $3.50 a minute in the States, I pay less than $3 an hour here, or a little less than $6 an hour during peak times. Yarn is just generally less expensive, if you know where to buy it, although even my Really LYS isn’t as expensive as the LYS in Fresno. So, I telephone to my heart’s content and buy more yarn than is good for me. I console myself with the fact that I have not, as of yet, reached SABLE (or SELE).

I spent the rest of the weekend immersed in yarn. I catalogued (incl. pics) my new yarn in Ravelry, and continued by taking pictures of the old stash and adding those to my Ravelry page. Now I’ll know exactly which yarn is which instead of having to guess.

Then I started knitting the Stole. 19 rows in and I may have to frog the whole thing. I think, I think, I’ve made a mistake. However, I may have made a mistake about the mistake. I spent this morning making up a chart in Excel (remember, I sell ACs and it’s Jan.) that reflects the pattern changes I made and now think I might actually have done it right – at least on the one side. I’m fairly certain that I made a mistake on the other side, which I will have to fix, but I might try doing that by just opening the panel. We’ll see tonight when I get home. Fortunately I still have a nice Fröhlich Wolle Plain Sock on the needles and should I get too frustrated, I’ll knit on that for a while. Good therapy.

Looking back on the length of this, I think I’d better just quit. Too bad I’m not getting paid for this. I’d be in overtime / overwords by now.

If you read all that, you have earned yourself a cookie (but none of those funny ones if you please!)

Monday, 14 January 2008

Rogue Details

As announced shortly yesterday, I finished the Rogue. Now my notes to it, or as many of them as I can remember:

The hem is done in twisted stitch. It gives and interesting finish, but it difficult to work for as long as you must work it. Makes for a slow hem. It’s just a question of preference. If you prefer ribbing, then do that. I might next time just for a change.

The body was fairly easy. I didn’t want the shaping, so I substituted the composite cable panel for the original side panel. It still looks great. I guess you would never notice if you didn’t know what the original was.

The back was also easy. The difficulties arrived with splitting the neck and shaping the shoulders. It still all turned out all right, but I did have to think about it a bit and sometimes I just set the knitting down when I came to a new section so that I could continue with a fresh brain, so to speak. Some of it could have been a bit tighter, so I went tightened some bits up by weaving in on the WS, using the ends when I could. Looks much better for it too.

The hood was also fairly easy to do, but did require thought. It also didn’t work the way I expected it to, so that required a thought shift too, but I got there in the end. Mostly if you just follow the pattern you’ll get there. Just do and don’t question. Makes life easier.

I kind of got myself into a fuddle with the sleeves. I should have written the decreases out. I would have done better. However, they turned out fine in the end anyway. They’re both the same length and fit. Again I panicked about the pattern for nothing. The shaped armholes freaked me out a bit since I’ve never done those before. They came out just fine, so I learned something new. Oh, I did knit them in the round and not flat, at least up to where I had to split them. That worked well for me.

Sewing up took ages. I only had to do the arms, but I hate sewing. Then I also had to hem the sleeves, the bottom and the hood. Not fun, but necessary. I couldn’t just leave it knit but not finished. Too much knitting involved not to wear it. Hemming the hood was optional, but it does give the hood a better finish, especially as the edges were a bit loose in places. It just hangs nicer now that it’s seamed.

All in all I’m quite happy with the whole sweater. I never think I will be, but it all turns out OK in the end. It’s very comfy and nice to wear. I will do it in wool next time though, just so I have one that’s really warm.

I spoke to my aunt about the stole this weekend. She knows my grandmother (well, obviously as she is her daughter) well and felt I could get away with telling her that the yarn was just too difficult and unpleasant to work with. It is part acrylic and acrylics go bad over the years. Anyway, she is of the opinion that I can get away with buying another fabulous yarn and knitting up the stole with that. Maybe I’ll find something in a nice green. She’s going to need a bit of colour I think. It will have to be a strong colour, whether green, pink or whatever. It doesn’t really matter, as long as the end result is Fab and she’s thrilled enough about it to forget the other. It should be. I want to do the Star pattern from Arctic Lace and just double it to make the stole. It’ll be rectangular, but it will still keep her warm and be pretty at the same time. What more could she want?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Blip in Your Day

Just a blip in your day to say:

I've finished the Rogue!! Go me! More tomorrow. I've got to try and remember everything I did so I can write up the notes for it. At the moment, I'm just happy to have it done. Can't wait to knit the Eris.

The real Colour

The hood

The neck

The Sleeve

Friday, 11 January 2008


I am in serious need of suggestions.

Background: Last year my grandmother showed me a sweater that she has started knitting years ago. She asked me if I wanted to finish it. Honest answer: No, but she’s my grandmother, so I agree. However, I wasn’t able to get it and the yarn into my luggage, so I gave it back to her. This year I asked her about it again. I did tell her that I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the sweater because her gauge was surely looser than mine and it would just turn out wonky. I also didn’t think that I would be able to frog the part she had knit after all that time. It would be too kinky and you would have to wash it which would be a mess. So, I offered to take the rest of the yarn and knit her a stole. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Ok, the yarn is pink (old Rose). I can live with that. No problem. What I’m having difficulty with is the yarn itself. It’s an acrylic mohair mix. 50/50 if I remember correctly. It. Is. Horrible. Horrible I tell you. Those of you who remember the Barf Scarf (fun yarn that was a real horse’s backside with road apples on top to knit) will understand how bad it is when I tell you that I would really rather be working with sooper fuzzy fun yarn than with this stuff. It feels like plastic. It works like mohair. Tink because you made a mistake? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Not in this lifetime! I knit several rows of garter stitch and then tried a lace pattern. After an hour of trying to find a mistake in the first row, I abandoned ship and tried to frog. Note the d on the end of tried. It. Wasn’t. Coming. Apart. It was a bit like it had been welded together by some new sort of super astronautic velcro that would hold Pluto and Mars together if you really thought it necessary that they become a planetary couple. This recognized, I broke off the yarn and threw it away. Obviously a pattern was not going to happen. I’ve since read in Arctic Lace (praise be to Tara for giving that to me) that acrylics aren’t very good lace yarns anyway since they have no pattern memory and revert to their original form when washed. Add this to the mohair fuzz hiding the YOs anyway, and I don’t feel too guilty about abandoning a pattern for a simple garter boarder and stockinet stitch.

Unfortunately, now that I’m back to knitting it, I’ve started to notice how bad this yarn is. I really don’t want to do this project. It’s not fun to knit. It’s not even exciting. I can’t even enjoy the feel of the yarn since I would rather just not have to feel it. So creative on-line people (not that you aren’t people when you’re off-line too, but, you know): How do I get out of this? How do I either tell my grandmother, who obviously liked this yarn because she bought a huge amount of it, that I don’t want to knit it for her? Or should I just have something “happen” to the yarn, and if so, what? Remember, I have 12 skeins of it to dispose of. I could tell her that we had a repeat of the Great Yarn Carnage of 2006 (Left bag with 10-15 skeins of new yarn in it out, and then went to work. The results were not pretty. There were tears and much gnashing of teeth), but then she’ll think I was careless with her prize yarn. I could manage to burn one or two skeins with a candle or something, but not 12. I could also tell her I fainted repetitively while knitting from breathing in the mothball fumes, but what if they never came in contact with mothballs and it’s just my grandmother who smells like that? (Seriously, I smell this yarn and think “grandmother”) Moths? Would moths eat acrylic/mohair? Oh wait, if there were mothballs in there, moths won’t go near it, even if I put up a little sign that says “Free Lunch. Raise Your Larvae Here!!” I’m running out of options. I’m also trying desperately to remember that she’s 86 and won’t be around forever (even though Great Aunt Tia is still steadfastly refusing to visit the afterlife at 101. There are still people on earth to torment, so why bother going to heaven? (Yes, I’m evil, but you haven’t met her. I have. Given the chance, Aunt Tia would have managed to make Mother Teresa break out in a string of expletives.)). I should do what I can for her while I can really. Unfortunately, although it might increase my determination, it does not make it easier for me to knit this thing. What I’d really like to do is go out and buy some fantastic lace weight yarn and knit her a stole that would make her break out in tears of joy when she saw it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would make her forget the other stuff. *sigh*

Tonight, or maybe tomorrow depending on my mood, I am going to sew Rogue together. Lord I hope this sweater fits and looks good. I’d seriously be disappointed if it didn’t.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


I'm back.

Potential thieves please note this. It wasn't worth it when I was gone and it's not worth it now that I'm back, especially as there are now two Great Danes residing in my apartment again. All the same, thank you for leaving what little I have intact.

Both the trip there and the trip back was horrible and the visit itself had its problems. Suffice it to say that life goes on.

Now on to the important stuff: knitting.

I managed nearly an entire phone sock recipe on the trip there. It was a long flight. I had time and couldn't sleep. It was also a much longer trip than I had planned on it being. I started the other, but didn't work on it much.

Instead I worked on the Rogue. I finished all but one sleeve while I was there. That I finished last night. I haven't sewn it up yet because the pattern says to block first, so I am. As soon as it's finished blocking, I'll take on the daunting task of sewing it together. Not that there's a whole lot to do, but there is some. I sewed the body and the sleeves in the round, so no seaming there, but I do have to sew on the arms and hem the bottom and the sleeves and I do believe I'm going to hem the hood too. The yarn, for some odd reason, curls outwards instead of in like it's supposed to, so I want to hem that down. Then I will be done. YAY! My third ever sweater will be finished.

I loved the pattern, although I wouldn't recommend it for sweater beginners. The charts were well explained, but some of the general sweater directions were a bit, well, general and I might have had problems had I not done it before. As always, there are things (on the sweater) I'm not happy with, but can't be bothered to fix, so it's going to stay like that. I don't suppose anyone else will ever notice anyway. It's not like people walk up to you and look to see how well you seamed the shoulders together is it?. It's also dark yarn, so you really have to have light to see it. Needless to say, I did not take pics of them. Why voluntarily parade your seaming inability when you can just remain quiet and no one will ever know?

So, here are the pics I have now, unblocked and unsewn:

The side:

The Hood:

Now I'm at a loss for what to do. I still have the sock, but somehow I don't feel like socks right now. I must have ODed at Christmas. Maybe I should start some Christmas ornaments for next year. hmmmm....

And just because I think it's cute, here are some pics of my aunt's dog after she "celebrated" Christmas. I swear we didn't feed her eggnog. We just inflicted my 8 year old hyperactive niece on her. Better than eggnog or valium.

Oh yes! The sweater! I might as well have knit her a straight jacket. That's how much she loves and appreciates it. Smart dog.


Thanks Karoline Knits! Now I have another two, not one, but two, knitting books I want. A Treasury of Rowan Knits: 80 Patterns from Favourite Designers and because I looked that up, I found this: The Best Of Rowan: Fifty Designer Patterns. One would have thought that I'd gotten enough knitting books for Christmas! Arctic Lace from Thepinksheep, Harmony Guide: Cables & Arans: 250 Stitches to Knit from Inkysticks and Cables: The Basics from myself. I could make up my own cable and Aran patterns now, but no, I have to drool over new books. Bugger. Must. Be. Strong. Can't knit everything at once.