Sunday, April 30, 2006

Spring 2006 Yarn Crawl, Part Deux

Dear Laura:

It was great to see you and your family yesterday! And of course...the yarn!

I was glad that Blackberry Ridge was having their open house yesterday so that we got to go on the tour. That carding machine is immense! And while I had heard of spinning frames, I could never imagine what they looked like. It is amazing how many labor-intensive steps there are to turning wool into yarn!

While I hate to see any yarn store go out of business, it was fun to go to a 50% off sale! Coyote Yarns has an incredible variety of yarns, and a great space. I'm sure you'll miss having yarn just 4 blocks away....

And now, for all our loyal readers (hi mom!) we have a contest! When we returned from our yarn adventures, we took a picture of the combined "stash enhancement!"

The haul consists of: (4) skeins of Cascade 220, one each of pink, yellow, green and purple; (2) skeins of Blackberry Ridge Mer-made fingering weight, one in variegated pink and one in blues and greens; (1) sock pattern; (2) skeins of Blackberry Ridge Silky Merino in cream; 6 skeins of worsted Gedifra yarn, five in a heathered grey and one in cream; (1) large skein of Lorna's Laces sport weight in Bold Red; and finally, (1) book, Shadow Knitting by Vivian Høxbro.

Sorry....I typed this post, and it got lost and I had to post it again, so I forgot the point of the contest the second time!! The picture is our combined purchases. The prize (tbd) is for the person who guesses correctly which of us purchased what! (For the record, I posted earlier that I would not be purchasing, and for a change the delightful Yarnthrower would finally win the "Who Spent the Most Award.") Post your guesses in the comment section and we'll announce the winner and the prize later next week!! For a tie-breaker, you can guess which of us "Spent the most!"

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rookie mistake, sure...but today I did missionary work!

Dear Laura:

Ok, shawl math looks scary! Better your sharp engineering mind than my fuzzy old one! However, the shawl itself looks like it is coming along beautifully.

Yes, I made a rookie mistake yesterday. In all the frenzy of getting ready to leave the house to run errands and go to playland, making lists, checking supplies, etc, I managed to take off without my knitting! We got to our main destination, and I had to buy a newspaper to distract myself while the girls played. Prime knitting time wasted! And I seemed to pay for it all day. Every other opportunity that I plotted out just didn't happen. Someone fussed, or needed to be fed, or changed - by the end of the day, I still hadn't started the heel of my second sock.

However, I hope I made up for it this morning. We took the kids to a local restaurant that we all enjoy. After I finished my breakfast, I pulled out my sock to work on. (Can't keep nibbling if you have your hands full of yarn!) I looked up to see a lady from across the room standing beside me. She eagerly asked me if I was making a heel, and could I show her how? She looked at the one that was done and the one that I was doing and said, "Oh! I see!" She wanted to make notes from my pattern, but since I can do a standard heel in my sleep, and this was just a variation, I made a few notes and then gave her my pattern to keep.

She was so excited and grateful that she insisted on giving me $5 for the pattern. I didn't want to offend her, but I also couldn't really feel ok about "selling the pattern." Yes, I own the book, but that was my working copy! So, I left the money for the waitress. In the middle of all of this, the waitress stopped by and told us that our breakfast had been purchased by a gentleman at one of the other tables. Turns out he was a friend of the family who had seen them and wanted to do something nice for them. We felt like such celebrities!

Today I think I will work on finishing the heel, but then I'll pick up the blanket to work on. The foot of the sock will be much more portable for tomorrow than the blanket!! I certainly want to have that sock done in the next day or two, and the blanket soon thereafter. I have some pretty yarn that I got last summer at the Michigan Fiber Festival and I will have a new great-niece in a few days who will need something made of it!

Oh...when I told Kathryn that we would be going to a yarn store that is going out of business, she asked me, "Do you really think that is safe??" Safe??? NO WAY!! Safe is for sissies!!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Shawl math

Dear Cynthia,

While I can't seem to be 'project monogamous' lately, I have been true to three projects. Here is Summer in Kansas, complete through 84 rows (253 stitches on the needle). Since there are 160 rows in the main body of this shawl, I am tempted to view this as being halfway. Note, however, that this follows the laws of "shawl math", which vary from shawl to shawl, but for this particular case, it is most pessimistic. It started as five stitches at the back of the neck, adding 12 stitches every four rows, forming an ever-enlarging triangle working its way outward from the neck. I haven't done the exact math (due to some special shaping for the neck section requiring extra increases -- though I am about to embark on the part of the project which is more normal for shawl shaping in which the increases are only 8 stitches per four rows)....but roughly speaking, if the thing was a true triangle and I was halfway through the ever-increasing rows, it would mean that I'm only one quarter of the way through all of the stitches. But hey, it's one quarter done!! Only 152 more increases to go.....

I set a goal. My life did not have enough stress in it with my final tests in the next couple of weeks, so I decided to add a deadline to the shawl project. I want to wear it to my nephew's confirmation on June 25th (though, I'm sure it will probably be 95 degrees that day). If I do three rows per day starting yesterday, it should allow enough time to add the border and block it by the deadline.

I only have one more thing to say about this: "Lifelines" are called that for a reason -- without using them, I'm sure I would have killed somebody by now.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mothers Day shopping done!

Dear Cynthia,

Richard is a cutie! I can't believe how big he is already. I CAN believe the going up and down the stairs thing... Been there, still doing that, except instead of chasing poopy diapers, these days I'm running interference for fighting boys. Richard is fortunate to have such an "auntie" like you to dote over him these two weeks! I'll talk with "the friend who is a boy" to see what we might work out.

I've been knitting, so I have something to show for the past day, because a clean house I do not have, nor, well, much else "finished" for that matter. I did, however, purchase something for my mom (who doesn't read this blog, but who will probably just take a peek at it today!) for Mothers Day. I am fortunate that she is a knitter, though not quite as intensive as some I know. I have been coveting a couple of things from Morehouse Merino, and this is what I ordered, in the waterlilies colorway, and I'm really going to give it away....really, I am, really. I think it is elegant, fun, charming...just like my mom! I think she'll enjoy working with the nice merino yarn, too. I'm having it shipped to my house just so that I may look at it for a while before I give it to her. I just think it looks dreamy, and I might have to get one for myself at some point...right after I'm done with the mitten and the shawl and the green sweater yadda yadda yadda.

Well, I'd better get started on dinner.
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Meet my new exercise program!

Dear Laura:

This is Richard. Richard is 4 weeks old. His changing table and cradle are upstairs! His swing and massage chair are downstairs. His laundry is done in the basement. See Cynthia lose weight the next two weeks!!

He's sitting in his "massage chair." It has a mobile that swings above, and it has a vibrating setting, and also soothing sounds - he can choose between a heartbeat, ocean waves, or wind blowing. I think this is something more needed by the adults in his life - he just has eating, sleeping and pooping to do!!
I've gotten some knitting progress posted on Designated Knitter - I cast on the second sock of my sockapaloooza socks on Sunday night. Yesterday was a work/travel day, so I'm content with my progress.
Hope your classes go well - and Renata sent a message (after bedtime, via her father) that she wanted to see her boy friend, Aunt Cynthia would know who it is! (She seems to have relegated him to "friend who is a boy" which is probably best, given their ages.....)

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

New and Improved...

Dear Cynthia,

Without even sobbing, I ripped out the Blackberry Ridge Nubby Wool sweater and started again. I revised the design a little bit, so not only will it actually fit this time (not sure what went wrong with my gauge the first time, but I think I have a better handle on it now....because an entire sweater except for one of the sleeves is an incredibly large and time consuming "gauge swatch"...I have learned that I am getting 4.2 stitches per inch, whereas I originally thought I was getting 3.75 stitches per inch)....but also, I changed the ribbing on the lower edges to be 2x2, which I think looks better with this thick yarn. I'm also going to add ribbing in the underarm areas of the body, for just a little bit of "shaping".

Well, not much time for blogging today. I have another appointment at the clinic, this time for something which rhymes with "slammogram" and somehow seems more fitting to be called that..... It's just another fun activity for which I may thank the process of aging. (Who knew there would be such fun in my 40's?) And, there is a large homework assignment looming over my head which is due on Thursday. (Only three? more weeks of class, I think....)

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Seriously..... Well-rested IS required !

Dear Cynthia,

I am so glad you'll be in my neighborhood during the next couple of weeks, and there are plenty of yarn establishments to choose from in the south-eastern Wisconsin area so we will not end up at the place which has yarn in East Troy.

I hope you know that I publish messy kitchen photos and pictures of my stash more as therapy for myself than for any other reason. I don't know why, but it motivates me. I don't want to spend too much time analyzing it, however, because addictive issues I might have regarding yarn might surface, and I don't want any kind of evidence lurking around in some therapist's notes.

We all survived the water park, some better than others. After spending a few hours in the ER last night, DH received confirmation that he broke one of his toe bones, and so he'll have to be more careful and keep it taped to another toe for a while as it heals, but his toe joints all looked good, so if a person is going to break a bone, that is probably the way to go.

I got one of the sleeves of my Blackberry Ridge Nubby Yarn cardigan finished. (Note: Blackberry Ridge is having an open house next Saturday, and in your pursuit of nice lace weight yarn....just sayin'.) I also closed the hole in the underarm on the drive home from the water park. It's a four-inch seam; two inches of it looked fine, the other two inches of it were bugging me, so I decided to rip it out. I'm distressed to mention that it looked much worse before it looked any better...ahem. I'll digress: While I was making the Fana cardigan a couple of months ago, I had a rule about cutting steaks, which was that it must be done while sober and well-rested, and fortunately for the Fana (and my sanity), all ended well in that instance. Not so with the nubby sweater. Though I was sober last night, I was NOT well-rested, and somehow ended up cutting through a knit stitch, instead of cutting the yarn I used to sew the hole closed. And so, the two edge stitches for several rows at the top of the sleeve ravelled (or is it "un-ravelled"?). Aaugh! That's what I get for not following my own rules. 45 minutes later, I was able to achieve a look I could live with on the outside. The inside had about nine loose ends to weave in, though I'm not sure where all of them came from. But now, I think that all ends have been secured.....the same way I sometimes think that I can go a whole week without doing laundry..... We'll see.

However, and even more distressing, I have to tell you that none of this matters. I've tried on the sweater several times during the past few months, and finally today, I faced reality when I decided that I have to rip it out, the whole sweater. I didn't think about the thickness of the bulky weight yarn when I did my calculations while designing this sweater, and it is just too snug for me, and though I've sensed this all along, today I finally decided that I will be much happier with this sweater if it is a few inches larger around. And so, my ball winder and I are just going to have a little party in the next few days..... Sigh..... That's how it goes with the creative process once in a while.....

In good news, I am not allergic to wool! I have contact dermatitis to nickel, and the doc thinks that I might want to check my metal needles to see if they have some nickel content which could have been contributing to some of the issues I was having with the skin on my knuckles. Interesting, because I don't hold the needles with my knuckles....but I suppose they are in the vicinity. Mostly I'm relieved about the wool thing. I guess this all means that I can't get a dog since I'm allergic to them, but I could get a sheep, right?

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Friday, April 21, 2006

No Pictures.....

Dear Laura:

Whew. I'm glad you've posted again since the kitchen pictures. Somehow I feel challenged when you post a pictures of your entire stash, or your messy kitchen or some such thing. I feel I must reciprocate....but I'm not showing my ENTIRE stash to anyone! And I'm a little leery about the kitchen thing....but! We've moved on! Yay! (Plus my camera is on its way via UPS from my parents in KY, so I couldn't post pictures even if I wanted to!!)

I'm anxious to know more about the decrease for that mitten. I'm always up for a new technique - although I'm not sure I want to do it on tiny yarn with tiny needles! I do knit with size 1 or 2 needles fairly often, but those final rounds sound pretty crazy.

My big news is that we need to start planning more yarn crawls and play dates! Yes, I'm heading back to WI! My current plan is to leave Monday after work and spend the next 2 weeks in Kenosha. I'll fill you in with particulars when I get a chance, but meanwhile, let's start thinking about where we might want to "yarn crawl." (Not Troy, ok??)

I'm not going to be buying tho. ^pause^ Come now, that snort was not particularily attractive! Seriously!! This is not about stash enhancement! Although, I'm just gonna say that I do need the laceweight yarn for the baptismal shawl, but that's not stash! And that's the only thing I'll even consider buying. Fine. Laugh. We'll see if you're laughing when YOU'RE the one who spends the most for a change!!


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

"First Thumb" Syndrome

Dear Cynthia,

One mitten done, but no thumb yet. Using five size zero needles, fingering weight yarn, and a decreasing number of stitches on the fingertip section just about pushed me over the edge -- just too many needle points sticking out of such a small number of stitches, it became more about untangling the two strands of yarn from all of those needles and figuring out which needles I was supposed to be holding than it was about actual knitting, so this is sidelined for a day or two, until I am motivated for it again. In any case, knitting the fingertip utilizes a technique called the "one wick decrease". It's kind of a snazzy technique, and one which I've never done before.

We are going to a water park tonight. When I was a little kid, it was all about the swimming, and that's how it is for my kids right now. They are very much looking forward to the trip, and to spending some time with one of their Grandmas. For me, it is all about driving two hours to get there, and driving two hours back tomorrow, hopefully in daylight both ways, to facilitate KNITTING! And since my dh and I might actually have a chance for a normal conversation as we are driving, it means that I should bring mindless knitting (and perhaps a list of conversation starters, since we are not used to having so much time to chat :-). And so, I'm back to the Blackberry Ridge Nubby Wool cardigan (bulky weight, size eight needles, a nice diversion from the little mitten project). I picked up the stitches for the first sleeve... I will knit the sleeve from the top down, stockinette, back and forth for two inches (the distance from where the sleeve edge is to where the side of the body is), then join to knit in the round the rest of the way, decreasing periodically as I go. It's been a while since I knit something so mindless, it will be nice to see quick progress and something I don't have to think too much about. And, the only "finishing" will be to sew the underarm closed.

Well, back to my chores.
Ward regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kitchens are not portable

Dear Cynthia,

It has been a very busy day/week. Here is a snapshot of my kitchen. I know you have seen very similar pictures of my kitchen, and not so long ago.

This morning, I had an oil change scheduled for the van. After about half an hour, "the man" came into the waiting area, and you know how it goes from there. Either the work on the vehicle has been completed, or there are other matters which must be addressed before you even think about driving away in the newly-condemned thing. This morning, as my three-year-old and I were waiting, the latter happened. Something about a transmission solenoid, and something else about brakes which would cost an additional $200 to fix if we waiting another 3000 miles and the pads happened to wear clear through to the rotors, so that would be taking a risk. And so, we caved to "the man", and since they had the parts in stock, and we had already driven half an hour to get there, I told him to live it up.

So, an appointment which began at 8:30am, and which was originally expected to take about half hour, suddenly expanded to fill the entire morning. "The man" said that they would probably be able to have us out of there by noon.

Okay, I can be flexible, and when it is just my three-year-old and me, things go pretty smoothly. What I really needed to do was my dishes. I spend an awful lot of my time knitting. So, for a change of pace, what I REALLY would have done if I could have brought my kitchen along with us would have been to clean it up, rediscover the color of the countertops, wipe egg off the floor. Instead, all I had was my knitting. And so, I was "stuck", having to knit the mitten all the way up to the place in which decreases begin for the fingertips. I saw no other option... How do people who don't knit tolerate waiting for indeterminate amounts of time? There aren't a lot of other options which are so completely portable.....

Now, since my kitchen and I are both in the same place right now, I'm really going to clean it!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Master Knitter info

Dear Cynthia,

I visited an allergist this morning. I learned that I am not insane. Spread the word!

I complained about this and that. I was tested for this and that. It turns out that I'm allergic to this and that. Now, I must do things to encase, kill, or remove the dust mites who live with me in this house. Also, there are no pet dogs or cats in my immediate future, and now would not be the time for me to take up mowing the lawn.

This is the first doctor I've seen who has been able to explain the weird skin condition I've been dealing with on my hands for the past five years. In addition to my allergy testing today, I have to wear a series of patches on my back until Friday, at which time my back will be examined to determine possible allergies due to other antigens which trigger a slightly different immune response. One of the patches is testing for an allergy to wool !! My doctor thinks such an allergy is highly unlikely, but possible. Aargh. I'll ignore this possibility until confronted with the experimental data on Friday. Note the progress on the mitten, made after antigens were applied to my arms, while I was waiting for the appropriate reaction times to elapse. Not something I care to do every day, but certainly handy to have knitting with me to keep from thinking about how much my arms were itching from the skin tests. The black stitches mark the thumb location. (It will be a peasant thumb.)

Lauren sent a note and asked: "What's this master knitter thing now? A swatch award????"

After I stopped laughing, I thought it might be informative to put a quick blurb here about it. TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association) has an education program which includes a "master knitter" designation. To hold such a title, a student must pass three levels of increasing complexity. The first level involves 16 required swatches, about as many "questions", and a
one-page report about blocking. I haven't yet purchased the packet for the second level (though I probably will soon), but I understand that it has requirements for more swatches, questions, as well as knitting a vest and an argyle sock. I think the third level has additional requirements, including an original aran or fair isle sweater?? or something like that? Once a student has completed the requirements for his/her level, the finished work is put into a packet and then sent around the country to various reviewers who critique the work and determine what, if anything, must be remediated before the student is allowed to pass to the next level.

It is a great knitting education, because the answers to the questions aren't simplistic, and often various resources are required to get a full understanding of the topics. Also, for me it was just nice to have a couple of "experts" give me some feedback on my knitting.

Go for it, Lauren!!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Some new-to-me things

Dear Cynthia,

I have "Folk Knitting in Estonia" currently checked out of the library, so I am on a deadline to get a pair of mittens done, so that I may try out a couple of nice new techniques by making the mittens, then return the book to the library before its due date less than four weeks from now.

I'm working from the directions for "Sander's Mittens", though I also considered "Kristi's Mittens", which have a similar cuff treatment.
First big decision: Make the mittens which are written up in a child's size. They take less time, and I'll still get me all the good learnin'.

What learnin' you ask? Well, I now know that the "continental cast on" is the same thing as the "sling shot cast on", also known as the "long tail cast on". I also did a "crossover join", which seems to have worked extremely well at hiding the little jagged edge which otherwise must be modified when weaving in the tail from the cast on.

I have no children who will be able to wear these small mittens.
Second big decision: Make a long I-cord to connect the two cute little mittens, and hang them on my front door as a decoration during winter.

I cast on really loosely, as I typically do, except with this cuff pattern, it looks really, really loose.
Third big decision: What cute ruffles on the beginning of the cuffs.

I accidently did only three rows of each color instead of four.
Fourth big decision: Hey, the little mittens will take even less time to make.

It's sort of fun to use size zero needles, except I just keep dropping one. It's as though my fingers aren't programmed yet to hold such a skinny needle without it slipping through them. Anyway, progress isn't at a lightning pace, so I feel pretty good about my first "big decision"...

Your parents look great! I'm glad you were able to have a lot of nice family time, and also squeeze in a little bit of knitting, too! And, congrats on getting your taxes finished SO EARLY!

I'm glad to hear you're proceeding with your level one swatches! I know you won't have any problems with them! I was thinking I might try to get going on level two this summer, but there are so many other things I want to knit, first, so maybe more towards fall. But, you're right about not waiting until other projects are all out of the way, because that never happens. Hmmm..... I'll have to think about that.

Well, my eyes are straining from looking at these tiny stitches, so I might just close them for a few minutes while my dear son is in quiet time. Just for a few minutes, though. Then it's back to re-claiming some counter space in the kitchen...

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Back to Normal....

or whatever passes for normal around here!

Dear Laura:

It was a crazy week all around, but in a good way. My parents came home from Kentucky last Saturday, in time for Palm Sunday and will leave again this morning. (Note Mom's cool Easter dress! She wanted a picture to see if she likes the hem or not. Sshhh, don't tell her I posted it on the internet!)

I love having them around (Mom cooks!! Dad fixes stuff!!) and it's also fun to have my siblings and their families stopping by more often......BUT I never seem to get much done while they're here. Seems I never got to sit down in my chair until 1/2 hour before bedtime and then I was too pooped to knit or blog or anything I would normally do.....

...and don't start me on the evils of Daylight Savings time. It just seemed to throw everything out of whack. After finally seeing a hint of light in the morning, I'm getting up in full dark again and it's harder somehow to go to bed when it hasn't been dark for very long. (I don't think anyone saw me snoozing at my desk last week!)

Since I was being such a slug, I haven't told you how much I enjoyed seeing your progress! I have a bad case of Sock Envy... those are so cool and there are TWO of them!! WOW!! AND you scored Cascade 220, which is one of my all-time favorite yarns. That and Brown Sheep Lambs Pride are my "go-to yarns" for anything in that approximate gauge.

I do remember when you declared that you would only knit will size 8 or larger needles! I'm not going to give you grief over it tho, as I suppose you remember when I declared..."I just don't DO any craft projects anymore" a scant 2 hours before my first visit to an actual yarn store.....

I did get to the fourth ball of yarn on the baby blanket when I went to a hockey game Saturday night. I had hoped to get more knitting done over the weekend, but I helped my Dad clean out his garage Saturday which was good, but used up all of my "discretionary time!" Anyway, the blanket is going well - in the home stretch! I'm not quite sure if I'll hit 30" at the end of this ball or if I'll need to break into a fifth.

I also got some knitting done while getting ready for Easter dinner, which I'm pretty proud of! I went with my brothers and their families to the Sunrise Service, and went I got home Mom & Dad had gone to a later service. One of my nieces rode home with me and helped with the potato peeling and such, so I got all of the food prep done and started some things cooking. Then, since I was kind of tied to the stove in my kitchen, I wasn't available for the usual madness surrounding the table/chairs/table setting/beverage preparation stuff that was going on upstairs. I brought a chair into the kitchen and knit some rows on my SockapalOOOza sock between stirring the pots. Then when everything was ready I just carried it upstairs and I had missed the part of the gathering that I don't enjoy! Plus - knitting!!

And after cleanup and some visiting (otherwise known as knitting time) I had a brief nap and then finished my Easter celebration with did my taxes. I usually don't like to do them so early, but I have a Knitting Guild meeting tonight, so I pretty much had to...

Lately, when I was searching for something, I found my course materials for the Master Knitter program. I thought about it, and decided if I continue to wait until I'm caught up with my dead-line knitting...(I'll pause so you can compose yourself from hysterical laughter)..ok, I decided that if I wait until I have time to work on it, it will never happen. So, I'm reserving one hour each Tuesday evening to work on my swatches. I have most of a ball of a cream color Cascade 220, and so tomorrow evening I will begin!

I trust that your celebration of the Great Feast of Victory was filled with joy, as was ours! Christ is Risen!

Keep knitting.....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

No second sock syndrome here!

Dear Cynthia,

I'm not sure what to attribute it to, but for the past several months, I have had no second sock syndrome. In fact, I just finished another pair of socks this morning (when I should have been cleaning toilets to prepare for a house full of visitors tomorrow). I really like the little stripes, and the two socks match each other quite well, if I do say so myself, EXCEPT, I can't figure out what happened on the heel. The toes match almost perfectly, the cuff tops match almost perfectly, the pick-up rows on the heel gussets look strikingly alike, and yet, the bottom of the heels clearly do not match. Just a little curve ball from the tricky knitting gods, I suppose. If somebody is taking the time to really examine the bottom of my heels, though, then he/she has too much time on his/her hands. Note to self: wear clogs...just in case I was thinking about walking around in my nice new hand-knit socks outside with no shoes on. Right.

In other news, the shawl looks like a bigger pile of tangled string than it did before, and with your fine imagination, I did not think an up-to-date photo of such a thing was necessary. For anybody keeping track, I finished up through row 78, and I get to begin a new pattern on row 87 (in only eight more rows, not that I'm paying a LOT of attention to it AT ALL, as I row by row keep adding stitches and am approaching the "black hole" in which no progress will be apparent for a long time). I haven't had to rip back to a lifeline for about 35 rows, though I can't believe I put that in print. (Now I'm just asking for the knitting gods to wreak havoc with me. I guess it's a good thing I don't really believe in the knitting gods.)

Have a blessed and joyous Easter, as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Did I say that?

Dear Cynthia,

Today I uttered words I thought I would never speak. I made a special trip over to the yarn store, and said, "I'm looking for some double pointed needles, size zero." Even the sales person wondered what I might be doing with such tiny needles. Up until now, the smallest needle I've used has been a size two. (I don't know if you recall a time in which I decreed that I would not knit with any needles smaller than size eight. It's hard to believe that nowadays, most of my knitting is done with needles smaller than size eight. I guess I have been "enlightened", or possibly I've gone insane.) In any case, I got a book from the library this week, Nancy Bush's "Folk Knitting in Estonia". I put the book on hold months ago, hoping that it had a pattern for an Estonian scarf of Nancy Bush's which I saw online a while back. In any case, no scarves of any kind in this particular book, but several pairs of mittens, one of which really caught my eye because of how the cuff was made. I looked in my "yarn collection" (doesn't that sound so much better than "stash"), and decided that I have yarn which should work just fine for this project, but I lacked size zero needles. So, now I have some, and I have to really get going on these mittens right away, just so that I may return the book to the library in four weeks.....

As I was buying the needles, the sales person said, "Do you know about our sale?" Sale, what sale? The bad news is that the yarn store, which is walking distance from my house, is going out of business for the time being. The good news is that there is a close-out sale. Spend $75, and get 40% off. And so, I accepted the challenge. They have a nice selection of Cascade 220 right now (less so after my visit). I bought enough to make each of the boys a sweater of my own design which has been churning around in my head for a while. (Note: The colors are much deeper and wonderful than this rather crummy photo shows.) Anyway, more on that project at a later time. I also treated myself to a pattern for some felted bowls. A columnar-shaped one caught my eye, because I'd like to make it to "cover" a used tin can, for use as a pencil holder, or straight needle holder, or flowers, or something like that. More on that at a later time, too.

I have also made a little progress on my shawl and sock ('little' being the key word in that sentence, thanks to all of the time which was vacuumed up with the studying I did for last night's exam). New photos of current projects in my next post. Not exactly a "cliff hanger", is it.... However, until then, warm regards!

Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Great minds think alike.....

Dear Laura:

I toyed with pre-ordering the Yarn Harlot's new book, but I decided to wait and try to "find it in the wild." However, I needed to order a kids book for a gift...and if I ordered more I could get free shipping, and I've always been a sucker for books...


Sitting on my side-table I have not only "Knitting Rules" but also....Mason Dixon Knitting. (One extra book wouldn't get me that free shipping....) However, I'm currently hip deep in lace knitting books from the library, picking out a pattern for that baptismal shawl. It is with great strength of character that I have resisted the new books since last Friday. I want to savor them...and that means dealing with library books first! I'm hoping to find some quiet time on Saturday to dig in and enjoy.

I'm still plugging away on the baby blanket - I'll probably finish the 3rd ball of yarn today, then only 2 more to go! And I'm working on socks for the Sock-a-pal-000-za......

Things are kind of routine, but you'll never hear me complain about that!! A spot of lovely weather tho....

Good luck with your test, and keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Just thought I'd mention.....

Dear Cynthia,

I went to the bookstore on Saturday, and I purchased a book! This is not my normal behavior, as most people who know me accept that I am a bit, er.... "thoughtful" with most purchases, thrifty, and perhaps bordering on the edge of tight-wad-ism. And regarding books, I generally tire of them after I've checked them out of the library for a couple of weeks and am happy to return them without any outlay of cash. Saturday was different. I wanted to discover what was inside the covers of the Yarn Harlot's latest book, and I bought it because it is something I'll be able to refer to again and again. It sort of gives the basics for making plain vanilla scarves, shawls, hats, etc., and offers tips for embellishments. Included are estimated yardages required for various sizes and gauges, and also some tables indicating what typical sizes might be, which will be helpful when I finally make my dad a black scarf and begin to wonder if a width of 12 inches is normal. Guess what! It is! In any case, I couldn't let it go completely un-noticed that the author of this gem of a book, whose picture appears on the front of it, with knitting, and with yarn wrapped over a finger in her right hand, appears to be a yarn thrower. Ahem...not that anybody is keeping score or anything.

In other things which may or may not be going un-noticed, I am wondering if other people using other blog readers might be having the same post from our blog mysteriously popping up at the top of the list day after day. For some odd reason, the post "Second verse same as the first" keeps rising to the top. It will go to a lower position in the list for a few hours, but then somehow it ends up at the top of the heap again. I am thinking about just deleting it. Of course, then my computer might explode.....

Well, I have a very big test on Wednesday, and this time I'm really serious when I say it is going to take away from my knitting time. It's a huge amount of material (I never knew that lungs and kidneys were so complex), so free moments until Wednesday night will be filled by boring old studying (except, maybe, I might knit a few rows on my sock)... I promise to have a more interesting post toward the end of the week!

By the way, you may already know about this, but the new Knitty is up!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Friday, April 07, 2006


Dear Cynthia,

I decided that I would show a couple of knitting-related activities, so that readers of this blog might not notice the lack of real progress on my current knitting projects. Also, I have a confession. Remember when we went to the yarn store in East Troy? Well, since I did not make any purchases in East Troy, and since I happened to *notice* a new yarn store in Cambridge as I was driving by it on my way home that day (I am still agog at the thought that I almost drove right by it), I parked the car and went into the store, called "Knit Whit". They have lots of very nice yarn, including a nice selection of Cascade 220, some Cascade sock yarn, some Noro Kureyon, some Donegal Tweed, and many, many, other nice things packed into this tiny store. However, what caught my eye was the needle-felting kit, which I purchased, and which I tried out this week on the big mystery project (which will be disclosed on this blog when the timing is right). It included four felting needles (one blunt, one fine, and two standard), instructions, and a piece of foam. It was perfect for my project.

I've also been reading some knitting literature, and laughing out loud, except for the one or two poignant sections which made me cry. Only 40 more pages to go..... What a fun book! I'm so glad you let me borrow your special autographed copy, and it fed my soul when I read the personal notation to you from Stephanie, "Obsession is normal." I am so glad!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

When will I learn to listen to you??

Dear Laura:

I have begun lace. Sunday afternoon I started a Feather and Fan shawl from the book "Folk Shawls." I'm using a Lopi unspun yarn. Unspun lace weight. It comes in a "cake" or "patty" shape. It has characteristics that we will explore later that make it a challenging material for lace.

Actually, I don't plan to knit this complete project. However, it the pattern that several of my students chose for the lace shawl class this week (they chose, now everyone in the class will knit this pattern!) Seemed to me that if I was going to teach this pattern, I should, you know, maybe knit up a bit of it....

Exhibit A is my initial progress before I got "off pattern." Let's see, it started with 7 stitches and added 4 stitches per row, but somehow I ended up with an even number...

THAT can't be right. And the thing that makes this yarn challenging to work with? Being unspun, I have to say that it doesn't split a lot, and it seems to hold itself together. But, although I was careful when frogging, after a couple of rows the yarn just broke. Unspun gets its strength from the fabric, and so you don't want to tug on a strand very much or it just pulls apart!

You would think at this point that I would have taken heed of your experiences, but no...I was certain that if I didn't pay attention to it (well, very much attention) the television would not be a distraction for me. Knitting patterns smite us for such arrogance.

Here is my current progress. I got to this point and was supposed to have 43 stitches...but I had 42. I tried fudging on the next row to make it come out, but after a couple more rows that were still wrong, I frogged back to 27 and fixed it. Then I very, very carefully progressed, stopping at the end of each increase row to count....I got to 39 safely. I did the eyelet row...counted 39 again...then I did the row of 4 increases. I have 44 stitches. This is not possible, I KNOW that I did the correct increases.

I've put it off to the side until it learns that I'm not going to put up with this behavior. Maybe tonight it will be ready to move on....

Last night, however, there was rebellion of another sort at my house. I boiled a chicken for supper so that I could bring the leftovers in salads for my lunches the rest of the week. After I cleaned the carcass, I poured the broth into a large container and took it to the refrigerator. Now, I knew that it was VERY full, which is why I was very careful putting the lid on. But when I got it to refrigerator, it had slopped and dripped all the way across the floor and into the fridge. And of course, all the way back to the counter.

So I decided to pour some into another container, which is when the rebellion went wild. The original container had a pouring spout! I poured slowly! Why then did several cups of broth end up all over my counter, down the side of the cabinet, even enough to be sloshing in my silverware drawer?? Can someone answer that for me!!

Last night's allotted knitting time was spent sanitizing my kitchen. I don't want to talk about it any more.

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Lack of Progress Report

Dear Cynthia,

Just a quick update, and then I must work on my huge homework assignment while my three-year-old is at a friend's house this morning.

Stats on the Shawl: No picture -- refer to my previous update for that, as it looks a lot the same. 64 rows knit; 96 left to go (YAY!! Less than 100 rows remaining!) Of course, row one of this shawl had five stitches, and row 160 of this shawl has 405 stitches, but I don't want to dwell on the facts...

Other knitting: There has been some other knitting, as shown in this picture of more than one sock accompanied by six feet of I-cord for something else. This is not very glamorous knitting, but I still really think that knitting is the most bestest hobby in the whole wide world! (My vocabulary has become a product of my current environment.)

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Cacophany of the Stash....

Dear Laura:

Hmm, well, being a process knitter, I depend on my yarn to speak to me. Occasionally, I have a project in mind, and I look for the right yarn - such as when I was looking for the red yarn for the baby blanket.

Often I see yarn that tells me immediately what it wants to be - usually sock yarn. Sometimes, I have yarn that tells me I want it, but several years later, still has not told me what it wants to be. Such as this yarn...

I thought it wanted to be mittens, but when I sat down to knit them, I knitted up the first ball, and wasn't finished with the first mitten. Since I only had two balls, that wouldn't work. So, this year I tried to make toddler mittens out of it. There was enough, but it was really too bulky to make nice mittens - it came to a point at the top of the hand and the top of the thumb that I didn't like.

So here I am with two balls of this, I love it, but I still don't know what it is going to be. And I have no idea where the ball bands are, so I won't be getting more!

But you asked about the new "non-stash" yarn. Frankly, with all the noise from the "dead-line yarn" (projects that I have to work on soon!) and the "WIP" stash and the screaming from the sock's hard to hear anything new speak.

But I did hear some muttering from these two about maybe a purse using a true basket-weave stitch...I'm able to ignore a little muttering now and then tho!!

Keep knitting...

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Second verse, same as the first

Dear Cynthia,

First and most importantly, I am waiting to hear if your new non-stash yarn has spoken to you yet. I can only recall one instance in which my yarn spoke to me, and that was when I was using a bulky ragg yarn in a garter stitch pattern, and really, it was more screaming than speaking, to let me know that this combination was not working well. But, I'm a product knitter, so that could explain my lack of direct communication with my stash.

I'm not sure how to tell you this, but I am working on a secret project. It will be revealed when the time is right, but for now, it must remain a secret. I only mention it because it has taken some time away from my other knitting, and I don't want you to think I've been a slacker.

Though, to help keep your mind from obsessing about what my big secret might be, I did manage to make a little progress on the shawl. I have completed 56 (out of 160) rows. When I get to the 87th row, I get to switch over to a "thistle pattern". I fear that this will just look like a bigger and bigger blob until it is blocked (at which time I am really hoping that it looks less like a blob and more like a really nice shawl). And so, one more thing I've learned about knitting shawls: It might be boring to read my blog about it. Hang in there, though. According to my calculations, you will only be subjected to it for another 50 days.

And, because my "sock knitting" is now also my "tv knitting" (recall recent post in which it was established that knitting on the shawl, my "real project", is not possible for me when the tv is on, and last night I just had to watch "Numbers" -- love that show, because it's about a bunch of geeks who are "cool" and I've always been a bit of a geek, not knowing that "cool" was even possible for a geek)...sorry, lost my train of thought. Oh yes, socks are being worked on whenever I watch tv, so there's been a little progress there, too.

Well, I suppose I should get started on making dinner.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)