Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Are you tired of the Fana Cardigan yet?

Dear Cynthia,

I have been knitting the right front ribbing, and sewing it on as I go. If you look closely, you can see the "facing", which is reverse stockinette and which is knitted adjacent to, and with, the ribbing.

Eventually (which right now seems like it will take a while, until everybody is just rather tired of hearing about the "Fana Cardigan"), the facing will be sewn down on the inside to cover over the cut edges of the center front. Here is how the inside looks.

I have a little bit to go on it yet :-) Two fronts, the neckband, then the sleeves...
Ah, finishing. Yuck, but still more enjoyable than trying to find tonsils on a dead cat. That reminds me....I'd better go back to studying.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Walking with Scissors

Dear Cynthia,

I'm glad to hear that your Fair Isle hat class was a great success, and that you are spreading the knitting bug toward our ultimate pursuit of world peace. Also, congrats on a great finishing in the short program for your Olympic Knitting. (I'm still anxiously awaiting a full report from the president of the knitting olympics committee. I think she would have won gold, if not for that problem with needle size on the sleeve. B-u-m-m-e-r ! ) In any case, your hat looks so fun, and well done!...and, let's not forget, finished!!

Speaking of "finishing", progress on the Fana Cardigan has been hanpered by real-life events that required more immediate attention (such as illness, dh being out of town for a couple of days, and oh yes, laundry and cooking), though it has not been stalled completely. I blocked the pieces:
Then I stitched four lines of machine stitching along the center front ribbing edges:

Then I cut (**gasp**) the knitting, being extremely careful to not accidently slice through both front and back, which would have been a nightmare only slightly less frightening than one about teaching a class full of 30 people how to do corrugated ribbing complicated by the fact that only seven of them have materials:

I'm currently working on the ribbing and facing for the right side (and since I have a test tomorrow evening, this is prime keep-myself-from-studying-by-knitting time). I'll show you progress on the front edges tomorrow. It's no secret that I don't like the finishing work on knitting projects, and this particular project has a significant amount of it. My son is kind of excited about it, though, so I'm staying motivated to get it completed. Plus, I have my eyes on a couple of my "next" projects which I (repeat after me) "can't begin until my other wip's are finished."

Well, I should go "study" for my test...
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Reporting in...

But first, I think that the scarf your sil made is beautiful! I'm with you...now I want to try Entrelac, but my WIP list is already out of control.

So, Saturday's class on the Fair Isle-type hat. First, as a demonstration of how nervous I was about this, I should tell you about the nightmare that got me out of bed an hour early! I dreamt that after I got all of the students assembled and settled down a bit, the room seemed really full, and there were a lot of faces I didn't recognize. I did a quick head count...30. That can't be right, try again....30. Third try...30.

Now, we had 7 people signed up for this class. And it makes a difference because we were supplying the yarn in a kit, included in the price of the class as a materials fee. If an individual had bought skeins of yarn for this hat, it would have cost over $120. Sure, you can get four hats from that yarn, but who wants to sink that much money into yarn for a class? So the owners wound the skeins into smaller balls and made kits, so that students got the yarn for one hat for $30. However, splitting 18 skeins into 72 balls took them most of a whole day. So, in my dream, having 23 extra people show up was a true nightmare!!

Fortunately, when I got to the store, that did not happen. I taught the second session of a mitten class, and then gathered my SEVEN students and began. I "gently shoved them off a cliff!" I read them excerpts from your post & comments so that they knew their lives were about to change! I had to laugh tho that you had to tell me to have them purl with their right hand. I'm so used to doing it with my left that it hadn't occurred to me. What I told them was to carry the blue yarn in the hand you usually use and purl the way you normally do.

There were some tense moments (every so often I would have them put down their needles and take a deep breath!!) but in the end, everyone had at least 1/2 of the ribbing done and several people were starting the pattern rows. Even those who were doubtful after the first half a round had settled in to a sense of "Ok, I can do this." Nancy, our most creative knitter (that's who you should talk to about color - she is amazing!) was pretty uncomfortable being boxed in doing a pattern. We all encouraged her that if she makes this hat, following the directions, she will have a new skill that she can use to do amazing things. I can't wait to see what she'll do!!

So, all in all, I think it was a successful class! Thanks for your advice and encouragement....I really appreciate it.

Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Guest Artist

Dear Cynthia,

My sil sent me a picture of a scarf she made. It is Danica from Knitty. (Now I really want to try entrelec, too. Of course, there still is the list of works-in-progress I've published here, and so have witnesses, and then stupidly vowed in front of those same witnesses to finish all wip's before I can start anything new...) In any case, I thought you might enjoy having a look at the pic, too. She claims that it's not difficult, that you "just follow the directions", or something like that. It is knit from some handspun from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival, having some variation in color from one end to the other, contrasted with a solid color Blackberry Ridge yarn. Isn't it lovely?! Perhaps someday you or my sil could give me a tutorial on (successfully) picking out exotic fun yarns for new projects. I tend to gravitate toward the "standards"...

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Dear Cynthia,

My priority this week should have been the test I took last night, and it sort of was, but I've always found that study breaks are very important...so I don't hesitate to take them...which gave me some opportunity to make more progress on my second sleeve for the Fana Cardigan. I've started the star pattern at the top, then will block the pieces, sew some lines on the body, cut it (gasp), and assemble it. Stay tuned...

I'm interested in seeing any results you might have from the students in your class this weekend!! My vote would be to teach them the corrugated ribbing right off the bat (that's how I learned knitting with two hands -- a gentle shove off the edge of a cliff). There will be struggles, there will be very little progress during the first week, but your students will be changed forever. And, on the corrugated ribbing, I'd have them do the purl stitches with their right hand yarn, knitted stitches with the left, unless they've lost their minds and are brave enough to take on purling continental style at the same time, but as I've mentioned before, that would put me into traction.

I'm also dreaming of my next project, thinking possibly something like this in the near future, leaning toward the light blue colorway. How do you think that would look with a crew neckline? Or, possibly hemmed? I know that the turtleneck as shown would really bother my sensitive skin, and I would definitely have to wear a cotton turtleneck underneath it... Of course, that Hardangervidda sweater is also tempting me, though perhaps in more of a medium blue colorway? Any thoughts?

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Always a change of plans....

I got a call on Tuesday that the materials for my Olympic short program wouldn't be ready until today. I picked it up afer work and I was able to cast on. I'm gonna give it a shot, but it's gonna be iffy. Here's a picture of the first three rows of corrugated ribbing.

This is the Stained-Glass Hat from Green Mountain Spinnery. I'm anxious to see the progress.

I'd like your advice about class that I'm teaching this Saturday. All but one of the students will be knitting continental for the first time. The hat pattern has several variations to start out with. You can do a single color "rolled brim" before you start the color work OR you can start with a two-color corrugated rib. I'm concerned that joining and knitting the first row in two colors may be just a little nerve-wracking. Plus if we do the rolled brim, I don't have to teach Continental purling!! And I could have them knit the first rows of stockinette Continental, which would give them some practice. You were in their shoes at one point...which do you advise??

I do have a serious need to have a completed project done soon, so I dedicated my last two lunch hours to finishing my red/white striped scarf. (Oh, I have to interject this - I thought of it when I type "striping." I recently saw a calendar of classes that included both socks & mittens using "self-stripping" yarn!!) Anyway, it is off the needles and only needs to be blocked and fringe added.

Well, off to bed - wish I could figure out how to knit AND sleep....

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Key to Knitting Fast

Dear Cynthia,

You're correct, that when I'm knitting with two colors, I hold one strand of yarn in each hand. I've tried knitting with both colors in my left hand, using the trick in which the middle finger separates them on the inside, and they both then slide over the top of the first finger. If it had been for more than a couple of rows, I would have required traction, because I still very much favor "throwing" my yarn to "picking" it....so, in fact, I carry whichever color has the fewest stitches (in the row) in my left hand. I also take extreme care to make sure that my carries on the back of the work are quite loose. In fact, often I think they might be too loose, because I really work hard to make sure they allow for a little stretch in the knitted piece. It all seems to come out in the wash, literally..... Anyway, thank you for your very kind comments!

I was glad to hear that you have found a way to switch directions and yet maintain respectibility in the Knitting Olympics! I still commend your extreme efforts and your incredible progress in such a short time, and note that you are in good company with many of your fellow knit-thletes. I'm anxious to see how the Yarn Harlot's sweater looks, and whether or not she will finish on time. I love the pattern she chose, and I actually own that pattern (Dale book 126), so perhaps once my backlog is out of the way..... In the meantime, all I have is this to show you: The start of the second sleeve for the Fana Cardigan. (This sweater marks the beginning of what I think might be a love affair with Dale of Norway patterns.) And, regarding the speed of working on this project, I have three words for you: Child's size 8.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Be careful with that snow shovel!

Ouch! Yes, you are right, shoveling snow can certainly bring on a back injury faster than knitting. I remember my last place had a very LONG sidewalk that was uphill all the way. My original back injury happened after a big snow storm. Normally I would counsel that snow shoveling is a job for your husband, since you do have your knitting to consider, but since I know he has already blown a disc.....you may have to go tech and get a snow blower!

While I don't believe the point of this is shoveling snow, remember this motto to live by: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Maybe a riding snow blower.....

Anyway, I hope your back is healing. Mine hasn't given me much problem for awhile, as long as I don't spend too much time just standing or bending. And since knitting requires neither of those positions, I'm doing just fine!

I think that your sweater looks amazing, and it's going really fast. You do fair-isle carrying the yarn in both hands, don't you? Do you enjoy that? You must, you do such great colorwork. I did the corrugated ribbing on the vest that way, but then switched to carrying both yarns in my left hand once I started the stockinette stitch. I'm thinking about doing more with both hands tho. I think it slows me down a bit, but it evens out the motion a bit and I think might cause less fatigue.

Oh, and my vote for the title of the book is "Don't Make Me Get My Knitting!" If it works for 2 squabbling boys, it should work for the rest of the world, which is, in the end, squabbling kids on a larger scale!! World Peace Through Knitting - Each One Reach One." We need a counter to track our "knitters reached!"

Knit carefully,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Weather Woes

Dear Cynthia,

Perhaps we are zeroing in on the subject matter for our book. I loved your suggestions about having knitting stops along the sides of the roads. It would get us one step closer to our mutual goal of converting the whole world to knitters and thereby achieving world peace. Some working titles for said book might be, "Taking Knitting Beyond Garments and Accessories", or, "How I Achieved Sanity One Stitch at a Time", or, "Don't Make Me Get My Knitting!", or, "Knitting for Peace"... There's still time for us to figure this out...

Thank you for your responses to my query about which yarn was a different dye lot. The prize for accurateness goes to Lauren, because she figured it out, though you're all winners for trying, especially since the prize isn't very tangible. Also, Lauren has my deepest appreciation for being the first person to leave a comment on any one of my posts. It's sort of like the dollar which is framed and hung by the check-out register as the first buck ever earned by a new business...

My back was feeling better, so I was knitting for a while yesterday. It was a perfect day for it, because it was snowing, a lot. It snowed so much, in fact, that schools were closed, and at about 4:00pm they closed the university, something that rarely happens since most students here do not commute. In any case, I shovelled four inches of snow. Then, later in the day, I shovelled nine inches of snow. Then, even later in the day, I realized that shovelling snow can cause a back injury much, much faster than knitting can. And so, my upper back just really, really hurts, no matter how I sit or stand or lie down. Since I can clearly blame the shovelling this time around, I decided to keep knitting through the pain. (Possibly I was inspired by the woman skier who injured herself in her downhill run, and participated in the slalom runs in great pain. Never mind that she fell and disqualified herself on her second run. It was the spirit of the thing, right? In any case, my pain is probably no match for hers, but it gives me a great appreciation for people who have pain like this chronically.)

Where was I.... Oh yes, knitting through the pain. And so, I have the body portion of the Fana Cardigan off of the needles. It doesn't look like a cardigan yet, but with a little sewing machine action and with some front ribbing, it will. There was one glaring mistake in the pattern, which I found one row after I knit it, so not too bad to correct it, and all is better now.

The snow has been cleared from the streets and driveways, and is so pretty to look at, and there is soooooo much! I'd take a picture of it to show you, but the temperatures have dropped remarkably today, and even though we keep our house at 66F, the difference in temperature between inside and outside exceeds 75 degrees, even more if you include wind chill, and perhaps I'll wait until a day when I'm feeling more adventurous and less like a middle-aged woman who has gone soft.

I'm off to take some more ibuprofen. In the meantime, knit on!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Knitter's Disabled List..

Dear Laura:

Wow! I really enjoyed the tour of your knitting spots! You did an excellent job of establishing a focal point for your room…and I love how you use knitting in your parenting.

Not just parenting – it’s a safe driving skill! More people should pull over and knit when they’re upset, someone cuts them off in traffic, or they just can’t handle the stress of “bumper-to-bumper” any more. Perhaps we should lobby to have “Rest Areas” upgraded to “Knitting Zones.” A place to not only take a potty break, but also browse some yarns, replace a lost cable needle, sip a cup of coffee and knit for 1/2 hour. The vending machines have Koigu, Cascade 220, Blackberry Ridge… Add a play area for the kids. (Maybe with one of those “nannies” on duty! J) Make the world a better place…..

Sorry…drifted off into a utopian daydream there.

I’m sorry to hear about your injury. I know it’s difficult to not knit. I remember that one summer I struggled with tendonitis in my right arm, but I resisted the idea of not knitting. At about that time, one of my favorite pitchers went on the “DL” because of tendonitis. I decided that if he could do it, I could do it. So now when I need to, I’m able to “go on the DL” and rest.

Oh, and my guess for which of the four wound balls is not like the other?? I'm going to have to guess the front one, but that could just be the angle of the photo....otherwise I'm not sure....

Take care of your back!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

One of these things is not like the other...

Dear Cynthia,

I can't spend too many more days "not knitting", or I'll go crazy. My back is improving, so I'll start knitting (with frequent breaks) again tomorrow. In the meantime, I am making some preparations for more knitting by winding some yarn today.

Which one of these things just doesn't belong?

<--These are all the same dye lot -- If you guessed that the center-pull ball is different, then you're right!!!! (You may have noticed that being a stay-at-home mom to two small boys has influenced my thought processes....)

This one's a little tougher. Which one of these things just doesn't belong?

Three of these hanks are one dye lot; the fourth is a different dye lot. When I was buying the additional yarn, there were two different dye lots at the shop to choose from, and the other was decidedly much more "yellow". In the light of day, the one I bought seemed to be pretty close. I'm hoping the difference is beyond detection by the naked eye for the sweater I blogged about yesterday. Anybody?? Answer to be revealed in my next post.

Have a great Wednesday!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Places I knit

Dear Cynthia,

Your fuzzy feet look so fun (and by "fuzzy feet", I am totally referring to your knitting, and nothing else)! And, the progress for your vest for the Knitters Olympics looks excellent! You "tagged" me at the perfect time: I believe I am suffering from a knitting injury (upper back pain), and am now convinced I totally made the right decision to not enter the olympics, and so now will not have to be subjected to any potentially embarrassing situations involving press conferences in which I explain why I am dropping out now after the games have already started.

In any case, to participate in the "tag", since I don't have a lot of new knitting to show you, and because I have an injury, today I bring you pictures of the places in which today I am not knitting. Here I am not knitting in our recliner. Notice the knitting bag sitting within arms' reach, so it is difficult to just sit there and not knit, but my upper back just hurts so much that it is actually worth trying to restrain myself. Notice also the two "Stitch n Bitch" books sitting on top of the table, which I got from the library, and which I always have something piled on top of in order to keep my dear son, a kindergartener who is reading beyond my expectations, from absorbing a new word into his vocabulary.

Then, here is a picture of the couch, located at an angle, just on the other side of the knitting bag. Notice how all furniture in the room has been placed around the knitting bag. I've read that when decorating, one should find a "focal point" in the room...

Here are the two front seats of our van. Right now I am not knitting from the passenger seat when my dh is driving, generally only on long trips, because though I usually don't actually say, "quiet, I'm counting", I know I give off that aura, so during short trips, I try to focus on other things and be an active participant in my family. Sometimes, too, in special circumstances involving two small boys who are fighting, screaming, or throwing things, and when my back was feeling better, I have been known to knit from the drivers' seat. Prior to the kids and me all piling into the van, all it takes is my utterance of the words "okay, well, I'm BRINGING MY KNITTING ALONG" for my dear sons to say, "Nooooo, Mommy, nooooooo", because they know, then, that they can carry-on forever as we are parked next to the side of the road (and they have done this) and I am doing my own thing (and smiling inside about it) until the commotion has reduced to a level more safe for a mother-on-the-edge to resume driving.

And, here is one more unfinished project, which I will not be knitting today, from all of the locations shown above. It is a cardigan for me, of my own design, rather plain, and it will have a front zipper and be so warm, made out of leftover nubby wool (bulky) from Blackberry Ridge. Unfortunately, there weren't enough leftovers for an entire sweater, so I purchased additional yarn from a different dye lot, so this will also be an exercise in detecting differences in dye lots, and if found, using subtle "stripes" in order to even the color out. More on that potential disaster later.

Well, I'd better stop "sitting" so long, too, as I've read that that could also be causing my upper back pain, so I'll leave you with nice wishes for a Happy Tuesday!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Stopping to stretch....

Dear Laura:

Thanks for your input and encouragement. Today is going better, and I'm not going to stress about the fact that it looks small for another couple of days. I am confident in my gauge, and I do think it is about being crunched up on the needles.

But you have to stop to stretch!!

So I have a "truly finished" object to display. I knitted a fun pair of fuzzy feet for my niece, but they hadn't been felted yet. I haven't been felting in my washing machine because it is a new type - it's a top load machine but the tub is like a front load, so there is no agitator. They say that it isn't as hard on your clothes, which is a plus for laundry, but I'm not so sure about felting. (Or fulling...as they say is a more correct term!) Plus it locks once the cycle starts, so it's more of a pain to keep checking the project.

I usually use my mom's machine upstairs, but it had been out of commission. When Kayla got here today to clean, I decided to do a quick job on the slippers, and then we formed them to her feet. So here they are, in all their bright fuzzy glory!

Ok, back to knitting now!

Designated Knitter

You CAN do this!

Dear Cynthia,

I noticed today that you are making great progress in your project for the Knitting Olympics. I know what it is like to feel a little uneasy about the size of a sweater at the beginning. Sometimes I've been able to make myself feel better by putting the stitches on a lifeline (removing the needle) and getting a flat measurement...although, sometimes I've put the stitches on a lifeline and right then pulled the lifeline out to start over in a larger size. Anyway, if you are really really confident in your gauge, then all else is an illusion created by ribbing and the bit of a "cinch" the needles cause, right?? I hope??

Regarding steeks, thte knitting blogs seem to be filled with talk about them lately. I know that Wendy has discussed them, as well as the Yarn Harlot, though the most comprehensive information I've seen about them is on the "techniques" section in the sidebar of Eunny's site. You make me blush with your talk of my expertise in the area of steeks, unless, by "expertise", you mean that I "have knit with steeks twice in 41 years". When I made a Fair Isle vest using steeks, for each armhole I put something like 15 or 20 underarm stitches on a holder and then cast on four steek stitches, knit in alternating colors. At the end of the project, I think I machine stitched along the edges of the steeks prior to cutting (though given the stickiness of the yarn, machine stitching is supposed to be optional, but I take the extra measure), then picked up the armhole cuffs from just inside the machine stitching and from the 15 to 20 stitches on the holder.

On my current project, I will use what I've seen referred to as "Norwegian steeks", in which the body is knit in a tube from bottom to neckline. Then, some lines of machine stitching are sewn vertically on each side of the body and as deep as the sleeves are, and a line is cut between the stitching lines to make the sleeve opening. (Let me know if you want more details about how this is to be done.) Here I show the "tube" for the body of the Fana cardigan. I just cast off some stitches to begin the front neckline decreasing -- which means I'm not knitting in the round anymore. Now it's back and forth until I get to the top, about two more inches.

Stay the course, lady! I have complete confidence you will get a gold medal in the Knitting Olympics! And, I love the colors you are using!!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Of adjusting the schedule and steeks.....

Dear Yarn Thrower:

I believe that we may have to tweek the schedule a bit. Ahem. Day One was not quite the brilliant success I had hoped for - I have not made quite 3" of progress.... Today's goal will be 2" of ribbing. Anything beyond that is gravy! I may have to adjust to 3.5" per day for the rest of it in order to make up for a slow start.

But I have not lost heart! It has occurred to me however, that I do not have a plan for the steeks. Well, unless you consider "knit to the armholes and then deal with it" to be a plan. Perhaps then, o great Master of Steeks, you would consent to be poised to leap in with answers to the following questions.....

How many stitches wide do you think the steek(s) should be?
A steek is just where you take a certain number of stitches and alternate your colors, right?
I can do this, right??????

I have to tell you...the other night when I was paging through some emails, looking for information, my friend Lora was looking over my shoulder. She saw the pictures on the email where you explained why some of your housework was left undone. She was completely amazed and declared that you do incredible fair-isle work! Which is so true, and why I have proclaimed you to be the Master of the Steeks. (It was not just sucking up to get you to help me with them! See!!)

Your humble servant,


Thursday, February 09, 2006

It all depends...

Dear Cynthia,

I think your plan for participation in the Knitting Olympics is both challenging and noble. I will assist in any way I can...especially since I am not a "knit-thlete" myself. I will be rooting for you all the way!

Regarding a schedule for knitting... I do have some experience with tight deadlines. Most recently I recall from last summer a period of temporary insanity thinking in a yarn store someplace that "I can easily knit an entire sweater out of worsted weight yarn in garter stitch for my three-year-old godson, wash it, block it, and have it dry in less than one week." And so, I put myself on a schedule.

Schedules are great things...especially if they allow for the unexpected, which mine did not. And so, I want you to know that I totally have confidence that you will be able to knit this vest within the allotted time, though I have to say it depends on these two things:
  1. How many times you will end up knitting certain parts of it
  2. Whether or not you sustain any knitting injuries.
    I learned from my own experience that sometimes
    1. One might knit the entire left sleeve twice** (Kudos to you for selecting an item having no sleeves)
    2. One might sustain raw skin on the index finger due to running so much yarn across it in such a short period of time, though a carefully placed bandaid can be of immense help
    ** I put some green accents on the top of the sleeve, which is picked up and knit from the armhole down to the cuff...and I kept telling myself as I was partway through that sleeve that it wouldn't look so ugly once I got the whole thing done and it was "pulled together" by knitting the green also on the cuff. I was denying that "ugly" usually never becomes "smashing" just by having more of it. The sweater was just plain ugly with the green, and I didn't want to give the ugly sweater away, so I purchased a nice blue and really buckled down to even more furious knitting.

    And so, in the end, I purchased the yarn on a Saturday, knit like crazy, worried over color choices, re-worked, etc., and I think I bound off on late Thursday night (which was five days later), washed and blocked it. Then, late on Friday, after it was dry, I sewed in the zipper, all ready for gift giving the next morning, Saturday, almost one week to the hour from when I bought the yarn.

    From this experience, I have these thoughts to coach you to your impending victory:
    1. Aim to knit three inches per day. I'm guessing you'll have about 6.5 rows per inch, so that's about 20 rows per day....something like 5000 stitches per day. This will give you ten days to do the knitting knitting knitting, and allows for some time to make minor changes or think about how to handle henley necklines with steeks (commending your bravery), and allows for the unexpected, which we all know, is to be expected.
    2. There are a lot more free moments in the day for knitting than I ever dreamed. As I tried to stay on top of things during the first two days during my personal knitting marathon, I got way ahead of schedule, which was a pleasant surprise and helped me retain shreds of sanity. And so, it is critical to get out of the starting blocks quickly and really push at the beginning. You will amaze yourself (and all of us, your loyal blog readers) with what you can do!
    In other knitting news, the fana cardigan is halfway done! I just finished knitting through roughly half of the required yarn, and the dimensions are just over the halfway point for the body, all in over 2.5 weeks. I would never have finished it on time if I had entered the knitting olympics.....

    You go girl!
    Warm regards,
    Laura (aka YarnThrower)

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Finally! The up-side of having short, stubby fingers! No mitten patterns are too short for me..

    Dear Laura:

    What beautiful mittens! I’m always amazed at the complex patterns that you tackle and how great they look.

    I have a “Knit-Bits” calendar (a different knitting quote every day) and today it says:
    “Mittens are for fun. They should be knitted in colors that make you smile.” So there! You are so appropriate for today’s calendar.

    Ok….philosophically speaking…one sock is only a finished object if you are knitting for someone like my friend Sheree’s husband. He is an amputee, so she’s the only one I know who gets “finished object” status for one sock! (Whenever anyone in our group moans that they still have a “second sock” to go, she offers to just take the first one to Bob and let them start a new project!)

    But I did read about a cure for “Second Sock Syndrome.” Knit the second sock first. Then you can knit the first one, which is the fun one anyway! ;)

    I am perhaps a stickler for “finished object” status as I am 2 days away from casting-on my project for the Knitting Olympics.

    THEY don’t give you FO status until you’ve woven in ends and BLOCKED IT.

    I’m starting to get nervous. I’m going to need for you to figure out my knitting schedule so that I am on time. I have decided to make the vest that my nephew-in-law asked for. It is stranded with two colors – a dark green, and a variegated green. I’m using sport weight Blackberry Ridge yarn and a #5 circular. (I think….I forgot to write that in my notes) Aaron has a 43” chest, so I’m making it 48” around, so he has ease to wear something under it.

    I have done my gauge swatch, and I need to cast on 264 stitches.

    I’m not following a specific pattern, I’m kind of doing a “design as you go” thing. (Mucho scary) I’ll start with a 2x2 two-color ribbing for 3” and then knit a 2x2 spiraling pattern for 16” to the chest. Then I’ll start steeks for the arms and neck. He wants a “henly style,” where you have a button placket at the neck… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it….

    So, I’ll cast on Friday when I get home from work. (The rules state that casting-on may commence at 2:00 pm local time, but I won’t be leaving work early. Save that little trick for if I need it at the end!) Now, weaving ends and blocking have to be done “before the flame goes out” on the 26th. (Hope they’re planning on doing that VERY late in the day!)

    So, 16 days. I will have to have it ready to block actually on the 15th, so….how much must I knit per day to finish in 15 days? Oh – from the bottom to the top is 26 or 29 inches. I have to measure him again….

    Starting to shake….

    Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Mittens that fit!

    Dear Cynthia,

    Here's a finished object, which I started a very short time prior to my decree about finishing all of my works-in-progress:

    It is a scarf (though I'm confident you knew that) for a hat/mitten/scarf drive they are having at dh's workplace for people who need warm winter items.

    And, here is a photo of my hand having very long fingers, holding my knitting journal open to the page on which I wrote pattern notes for the Wisconsin Warmer Mittens. My fingers don't look freakishly long in the photo, and in fact, they are not freakishly long. However, they are long enough so that shortly after I was born and my mom asked my dad how I looked, he said, "She's ugly, but she has really long fingers. She'll play the piano." In any case, mittens are one of the items which I always must alter the pattern in order to make them so that they fit my skinny but long hands (good grammar optional, obviously). And because winter has returned (temps back in the 20's, where they should have been for the past several weeks), I took some time today in order to finish the knitting of the left thumb and then weave in all of the ends. So now I have a complete set (shown here in 3D). These are warm mittens! And they fit! And they sort of match, or maybe are just the same colors as, the Norwegian Star hat I made from Hats On. So with these mittens done, that's one less thing I have to finish before I can start any new projects! I'm going to wear them when I go to class tonight. 20 degrees seems so cold to me all of a sudden.

    Now a philosophical question. Can this be considered a finished object all its own...
    ...even if the second one looks like this?
    Warm regards,
    Laura (aka YarnThrower)

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Do we really want to look at "unfinished?"

    Dear Laura:

    Yikes! Unfinished projects...you're making me rather nervous here. I've gotten to carrying 3-4 "current" projects that I'm working on, and I seem to be able to fool myself that it's the extent of my UFO stash. I'm not sure that I want to investigate any further.

    So, here's what is in the current bag......

    My "Harry Potter-esque" scarf. I like the pattern and it's working up so beautifully in Cascade 220...but I didn't go with any Hogswort colors. I'm using STL Cardinals Red with creamy white. I'm making steady progress - the only question is if I can get by with the 2 skeins of red that I have or if I'll need another.

    Then there is my first Jaywalker sock

    I've got the heel turned....and on of the needles managed to make it's way out, so I have stitches to pick up. Eh, it will get there.

    Then there is the pair of orange mittens for my god-son.

    I somehow ended up with 2 right-handed mittens and so I have to make a minimum of 1 more - 2 if I'm going to just even it up.

    And finally, this ribbed scarf that I've been working on. It's a store sample, and I decided to stop at 2 skeins. It isn't a very long scarf, but it shows the yarn beautifully. It's called "Paintbox" by Knit One/Crochet Two. The colors are actually more subtle in normal light. I've left a row of picot to thread a ribbon through on one side. So, finally, a finished object!

    I taught a new knitter on Saturday. She seemed more comfortable with throwing, so that's what I taught her. Her SIL had tried to teach her, so that was kind of what she had an idea of. I had to call someone in to show her how to purl.

    I've kind of worked out when I teach someone that I cast on for them, then have them knit a row, and then purl back. I like them to learn to purl right away, so it just seems like more of knitting. I really like for a beginner to do stockinette stitch because it's easier to see and fix mistakes. She did ok with the knit and purl, but she wanted to do her piece in garter stitch, so that's what she's doing.

    So, I'm going to have to work up a counter, and we can keep track of new knitters that we teach, and "lapsed" knitters that we bring back to the fold!

    Well, that's enough for now - hope you had a good weekend!

    Cynthia (Designated Knitter)

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    A Work in Progress

    Dear Cynthia,

    I decided that if I revealed all of my current works-in-progress to you in one post, it would be too embarrassing for me. And so, I will reveal these items little by little... For example, this sweater only took a couple of weeks to knit, but I have been unable to bring myself to sew on the remaining sleeve:

    It is the Campus Coat from the August-October 2005 issue of Cast On magazine. Sorry about being sideways. (I'm having technical difficulties with the disk which is storing the image, and it's late for me, so I'm just maybe having a few technical difficulties myself :-)

    Then there's the mitten without a thumb (see post below), and a few other unfinished works yet to be revealed. I'm not sure what my thought process is in getting these items so close to completion and then moving on. I guess that today, I just found the Fana cardigan for my dear son more interesting. Here is the body in progress, knit in the round, with a steek for the center front opening, and two more steeks for the sleeve openings when I get there... Those red threads are holding the stitches for the front ribbings which will be worked as one of the final steps.

    Hmmm... Perhaps I should be the work in progress... Perhaps I should try to change my ways and not start new projects until the backlog has been cleared out. I've heard that there might be a knitter or two out there who is able to do that. It's late. I might be delirious. I'm going to try, right here on this blog, in this here cyberspace, on these internets, to hold myself accountable to finish everything I have started before I move on to anything new.

    What do you think? Can this be done?

    Warm regards,
    Laura (aka YarnThrower)

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Two Pickers and a Thrower

    Dear Cynthia,

    Today I taught some ladies in my Moms' Club at church how to knit. We each had a skein of yarn. I was demonstrating how nicely the yarn will pull from the center of the skein.

    I don't think anybody was convinced. Out of four new skeins, none of them worked the way they are supposed to.

    In any case, I taught both American and Continental styles of holding the yarn, and two of the three knitters naturally gravitated toward Continental. To be fair, one of them has been knitting Continental style for a while, but had twisted stitches. I know that sounds familiar to you. Perhaps it is part of the learning curve for all Continental knitters. In any case, in my small sample, that's 67% pickers and 33% throwers -- information I thought you might appreciate.

    Today everybody learned how to cast on and "knit". Next week, the lesson will be on how to "purl". That means I have to brush up on how to purl holding the yarn in my left hand. Any tips you might have on this topic would be very much appreciated!

    Warm regards,
    Laura (aka YarnThrower)

    The hazards of buying birthday presents for people with no memory....

    Dear Laura:

    Oh my. How embarassing!

    On my birthday last week, my dear friend Lauren told me to watch for a package from Amazon.com that would arrive, containing my birthday present from her. Which I thought was SO nice, and then put out of my mind. (You see where this is going, don't you?)

    So the other night, when a box arrived containing THE knitting book that I most desired and was most likely to buy for myself, I assumed that (memory being what it isn't) that I had forgotten a back-order. I was so excited about the book that I didn't bother being concerned about such a serious memory lapse. Oh, it was more serious than that!

    I gleefully posted about my new book, and still, no bells were ringing in the emtpy cavern of my brain. Until Lauren came over to check if the shipment had arrived, since she had shipping notification from last week....



    Cynthia (Designated Knitter)

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Excuses, I mean, good reasons.....

    Hi Cynthia,

    Your retreat to the B&B sounds wonderful, and a bargain, besides! Also, what a great name for your new knitting guild! Awesome that part of your focus is on charity knitting. I've been thinking about being more intentional about that myself... What fun to find a new book in your mailbox (and thank you so much in advance for sending me a surprise! - now I'll be really watching for that mail truck!!).
    Today I'm having a laundry marathon. Also, of course, I have some knitting works in progress. These are the "Wisconsin Warmer Mittens" from Blackberry Ridge, made out of Lambs Pride worsted. I added some knit braid trim around the cuffs because I saw the technique in a pattern book for socks, and I wanted to try it out. The discerning will notice that the left one is missing a thumb.

    I'd like to say that this is the reason for the so-far-not-knit-thumb:

    It is the pile of clothes I have waiting to be repaired, about a five or ten minute job per item, such as replacing a button, patching a knee, etc.

    However, here is the real reason: It is the Fana cardigan from Dale of Norway book 125, in Heilo yarn. I finished one sleeve (also known as the "gauge swatch"), and have started on the body. I'm already having the "holy cow, I'm really going through the yarn - I hope I have enough" thoughts... After knitting a couple more inches on the body, I'll know whether or not I have enough for the whole thing. Anyway, if my dear son ever has muscles like Popeye, the sleeve will fit him just fine...

    Well, I really do have to get some laundry jump-started now.

    Warm regards,
    Laura (aka YarnThrower)

    I had a surprise yesterday!

    Dear Laura:

    When I got home last night, there was a surprise in the mailbox. Something from Amazon.com.....

    It shouldn't have been a surprise....I ordered it! But that was right after Christmas, and I'd forgotten it was backordered. The miracle is that I didn't buy another copy while I waited - that is typical for me.

    Which reminds me, I did manage to end up with two copies of another book....so keep an eye on your mailbox!!

    I worked for a bit on the red and white scarf last night. I'm past the 4th stripe repeat. The pattern calls for 13 repeats, but that makes it quite long. I'm thinking 9 or 10, but we'll see.

    Oh, and I was browsing some of my favorite blogs last night and was reminded of this great hat pattern that I'd like to try. I think it will work well with that red yarn that I bought for the scarf, but it didn't want to be a scarf. I think it wants to be an Esther Williams hat!

    Keep knitting!

    Designated Knitter