Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Dear Cynthia,
I interupt this knitting blog to bring you the reason I have been knitting less the past few days. (Well, actually, the **real** reason I have been knitting less is because I have two sweaters which I just finished knitting and I am stalling to do the finishing on them. We all know how much I **enjoy** finishing sweaters.)

The **pseudo** reason is that I'm on a skirt-making kick, for a birthday and also for somebody needing comfy/cool clothes for a European vacation (which is not me, by the way -- no European vacations scheduled here -- just a trip to Door County later this summer). These look much better once they have been washed and then dried all bunched up (tied to keep them scrunched together), sort of like the old broomstick style skirts having vertical pleats/crinkles.

Also, I bought some "Kitchen Cotton" Lion Brand, a whole pound of it. [My knitting friend, whom I'll call "Catherine", bought a pound of white Peaches and Cream a few weeks ago, and I laughed. Catherine, are you laughing now?] I feel like I'm letting you down, Cynthia, because I know that yarn which may be found at Michael's is not your **favorite** brand of yarn, nor is it my favorite. For nice sweaters, I usually get the best I think I can afford, and it is generally worth the extra money for the quality and feel of the finished product. However, with this cotton, I figured that cheapo would be okay since it is for simple workhorse dishcloths, and by simple, I mean it will probably be the standard square ones where you start at one corner and end at the diagonally opposite corner (known as "Grandma's Fav" on this page). A colleague of dh's from Indiana is moving here in the next few weeks, and my current "stash" of dishcloths for misc small gifts (including house-warming) is depleted, so time to make some more.

Well, there is much to do if I'm going to have more knitting content in the next few days. It would be nice if I could share a sweater which is actually finished! Hopefully in the next couple of days, with free patterns for both at some point, too.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Response from Knitty

Dear Cynthia,

At the beginning of April, you might remember that I had been working on a special "secret project", which I could not reveal on the blog.

In any case, it was a pattern submission to Knitty, for a project I designed using one of the sweaters I knit which had been languishing in the "rework" pile. I did not hear back from Knitty for a long time, which, according to their web site, means it might have possibly been in the queue for consideration..........until today, that is. Here is an excerpt from the response I received:

"Thanks so much for your submission! We were inundated with designs this issue and had to make some touch choices, so unfortunately we won't be able to use yours. It didn't help that someone just published something quite similar in concept at the whipup blog. But at least that means you're on the right track! :-) "

I checked out the whipup blog, and there is, indeed, an idea of the same genre which was submitted just three days ago, long after mine got into the Knitty inbox, but soon enough to be referenced by Knitty's publisher in my rejection notice. And so that's how it goes sometimes.

I just posted the Satchel Oopsy Daisy Bag Pattern to our blog, however, so check out the "free patterns" section on the sidebar... Also, in the next day or two, I'll try to post directions for the other two bags shown, as well.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Oopsy Daisy Satchel Bag (Felted)

A pattern by YarnThrower

The creative process is not without risks. Occasionally a finished project falls short of an idealized vision for how it is supposed to look. A few years ago, I made a sweater that couldn't have been less flattering on me. I thought that slightly shrinking it would make it look better, but all it did was to make it impossible for me to unravel and reclaim the yarn. And so, I decided to try an experiment to turn it into something completely different. I felted the sweater until it would shrink no more, made some strategic cuts, sewed a couple of hems, added some notions from my local fabric store, and tried my hand at needle felting. And so was born these Oopsy Daisy bags. Try these techniques with your own sweater which might be too big, or which might have been accidentally shrunk in the wash, or use an old wool sweater from a second-hand store.

(This pattern is the property of YarnThrower and may not be reproduced except for one copy for individual use. If you print or distribute this pattern without YarnThrower's written permission, you are stealing.)

Varies, depending on the size of sweater and the amount of felting. The Oopsy Daisy Satchel Bag shown measures 17 x 12 x 4 inches (without handles).

  • Any sweater which has been made using fiber which can be felted
  • 2 to 3 yards of feltable yarn which matches sweater, to sew bottom closed
  • Pillow case, preferably one with a zipper closure
  • Sewing shears
  • Sharp tapestry needle
  • A few yards yarn for hemming edges, matching or contrasting nicely with sweater
  • Sharp hand-sewing needle
  • Thread to match sweater
  • Felting needle
  • Foam (to use underneath "fabric" when needle felting)
  • Assorted scrap bits of yarn, of any material including novelty, whatever you have
  • Chalk pencil (optional)
  • Serger or sewing machine (optional)
  • Set of two oval purse handles, 5 x 8 inches
Whatever gauge your finished sweater has will be fine. Mine was made of worsted weight yarn, having a gauge of 4.5 stitches per inch before felting.

  • With wrong sides together, and using a loose overcast stitch which catches only the very edges of the fabric, attach front to back of sweater at lower edges using matching feltable yarn and a sharp tapestry needle, completely closing off the bottom.
  • Place sweater into pillow case, zip or tie it closed, and place it in washing machine. Start washing machine with it set for longest cycle, hot water, and maximum agitation. Just before washing machine goes into spin cycle, check the sweater to see how much it has felted. If desired, reset the washing machine to the beginning of the agitation cycle and start it again. When sweater has felted the desired amount, allow washing machine to complete its cycle. Remove sweater from pillowcase and lay flat to dry.
  • After sweater is completely dry, make two cuts using sewing shears. Each cut will go from the underarm and diagonally up to the side edge of the neckline, as though following along an imaginary raglan sleeve line. Also cut the back neckline to follow the same curve as the front neckline does.

  • Using the body of the sweater, fold the edges (from where the sleeves were cut) 0.5 inches to the inside. Overcast stitch them in place using sharp tapestry needle and matching or contrasting yarn.

  • Using a serger, or a sewing machine zig-zag stitch, or an overcast stitch by hand, edge-finish the neckline cut edges of the sweater. This will give the fabric edge more stability (especially the back edge, where the cut was made to make it match the front) and help prevent the fabric from tearing.
  • Folding front neckline edge over one side of an oval purse handle, and using sharp hand-sewing needle and matching thread, sew neckline edge to inside of bag, allowing enough of a casing for the purse handle to move slightly, but not too much. Repeat with the other purse handle along the back neckline edge.
  • Turn bag inside-out. On one lower corner, bring long center line of bag bottom to meet long center line of side, forming a point at the corner. Mark a line 2 inches from the corner point, and stitch across this line, forming the base of an isosceles triangle in which the bag's corner point is at the top. This gives the bag some width. (Then, and optionally, fold the corner point to bottom inside of bag and stitch in place using matching thread and sharp sewing needle.) Repeat on other lower corner.
  • Turn bag right-side-out. Insert foam into bag, behind area which will be needle-felted. (Optional: On right side of bag, use chalk pencil to draw an outline for the picture which will be needle-felted.) Place scrap of yarn onto bag surface. Using felting-needle in one hand, and holding scrap yarn or a knitting needle to guide the scrap yarn with the other hand, poke scrap yarn straight down, through yarn and bag, in a couple of places to tack it down. Continue tacking various scrap yarn pieces to form desired design. Then, securely fasten all of the scrap yarn by really poking away at it until all of the yarn is firmly attached to the bag and the desired look has been achieved.
  • Feel free to finish off the Satchel Bag by adding a pocket inside made from part of one of the sleeves, or from a nice fabric. This bag would also be quite easy to line with a fun print fabric.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Back on Sleeve Island

Dear Cynthia,

I wonder what a psychiatrist would think if you told him/her that you have issues with socks. I know that many knitters do, myself included.... I just wonder if it has ever been explored in therapy, and if it ever catches mental health professionals off guard... It is still so much cheaper, healthier, therapeutic, etc., than smoking, so as far as addictions go, great choice!

I'm having a little problem with the neckline bind-off on the sweater for my nephew's birthday (the first time it was way too loose, then way too tight, still not quite "just right", but I think I'll have it if I bind it off with a size 15 needle in my right hand), but other than that, things are progressing and I'm making sleeves. Target completion date is early July, so no panic.

I keep telling myself that after these sleeves are done, I am going to have a little disciplined session of sewing up this sweater, and doing the finishing on my green sweater. I will make myself do this, because I will feel so much better once done. Knitting "finishing" really is a lot like exercise that way...

Anyway, I'm off to fix that neckline bind-off! Have a great day!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Dear Laura:

A couple of posts ago, I blithely tossed off a remark about how I'd cast on a pair of socks. No big deal...having some issues with the baby sweater, thought I'd get a little "distance" while still being productive.

And you are so didn't call me on it.

Because it isn't like I needed to cast on new socks - there are plenty of socks-in-progress I could have picked up...some of them from when I posted my sock-yarn stash pictures.

Clockwise from the lower left we have:

The two-at-a-time-on-circular-needles-toe-up socks that I started I've been "working on" for ages.

The second one is my second start for my sockapaloooza socks, which I abandoned because they were coming out too small. These will be frogged.

Next is a sock that...well...I'd forgotten about. I don't know when or why I started it. But there it is. I found it.

Then we have the FIRST sock I started for my sockapaloooza socks. They are a heavier weight, 3x2 garter rib. I got a couple of inches done and decided that I wanted better socks for my sock pal - not just my "in-a-hurry" standby pattern.

And first jaywalker. I'm at the heel....and just a few rows ago figured out a part of the instructions so the last few rows look right. I decided that I would just keep going forward and not let it bother me that the first cuff was mostly wrong. Yeah, like I can do that. These will also be frogged, I expect.

Especially since I robbed the needles out of them to start THIS sock!! I'm using the yarn that my sock pal sent me, and I really like them!! It's a pattern from "Vintage Socks" by Nancy Bush, which I tweeked just a little.

So, still avoiding the baby sweater. After TWO gage swatches, and TWO cast-ons, I'm still conflicted about it. Maybe if I let it marinate another weekend.....

Keep knitting!!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"A" is for Intarsia

Dear Cynthia,

Though I like the look of intarsia work......I had forgotten the part about all of the "butterflies" hanging from the back. This is working out just fine, but I don't think I'd want many more than the five strands I'm working with. I used the technique from the Spring 2006 Interweave for estimating the amount of yarn to put into each "butterfly" -- determine the number of stitches which are going to be made with the strand, and then wrap the yarn around the needle that many times loosely. (Of course, I'm a doubter, so I added significant extra "just in case"...)

Anyway, The Blue Blog's idea for printing out knitters' graph paper and then printing a letter onto the same sheet of paper worked like a charm. I did a quick search on "knitters graph paper", input my exact gauge, and presto, it printed out a page, almost exactly to scale 1:1 (though I have to say, a little bit scant, but for this it really doesn't matter much). Then, I found a font in Word which I liked, printed off a letter of size huge (something like 650, or maybe 400??). If I was to do it again, the only thing I'd do differently is to print the letter in a much lighter shade than black, so that I could see the graph paper lines behind it...

Well, it's rainy here today, and my three-year-old got up in the middle of the night to go potty and was dry this morning, so we're going to celebrate by making chocolate chip scones.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fort Wayne Fiber Festival

Yes, last weekend was the Fort Wayne Fiber Festival! Ok, admittedly not quite up to Maryland Sheep & Wool or Rhinebeck, but we do our part.

This was the third year of the festival....last year I was out of town, but I heard that it was almost washed away in a rainstorm. Not so this year, both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful days. I of course forgot to take my camera (bad blogger!) so I don't have pictures of the event itself. (Not that this should be taken as a hint that I have pictures of any purchases. Me?? Buy yarn?? Hush your mouth!)

It was lots of fun - I got to see some of the gang from the Wooly Knob. (Mostly why I went!) Jamie's dad had some of the yarn from their spinning operation, so I was glad that is going well. I saw both Julie and Kathy from my days of "skirting" fleeces, and got the info on the next big spinning event. Julie's daughter had made some beaded stitch markers for sale, and I had just noticed that all of mine were "in project" and so I did buy a couple of those.

Ok, ok, yes, I also bought some yarn. Man, you people will just nag a girl to death for pictures of yarn aquisitions! ;)

The tan and cream is a cormo-blend from a local handspinner. It is luscious to hold - they had a childs hat knit out of this and it was so yummy-feeling. I thought I'd make a couple of those hats for a charity project, so I picked up a skein. The More-Cynthia-Colored yarn is a sock yarn (duh!) that is enough merino for a pair of socks. Because we've seen the sock stash, and it is in desperate need of additional yarn....

I also have to confess that my pre-knitting addiction has reared its head. I've always kept reading (I can count on both hands the number of times I've fallen asleep at night without a book in my hands....and there may have been...ahem...alcohol involved....) but since I've been knitting I find that most of my reading happens during the last 10-20 minutes of consciousness each day. However, I just picked up a new book by Laurie King in her Mary Russell series. Looks like it was published last year and I missed that. I love these books - starting with The Beekeepers Apprentice - and when I start one, I cannot put it down until it is done. I've spent more daylight hours reading in the last few days than in the last year put together...

So...way to go with the sweater!! And the lace.....that shawl is beautiful! Good luck with the Amazing Lace!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

LOVE / HATE (Amazing Lace Challenge #1)

My name is Laura (aka YarnThrower).

I brought Summer in Kansas home more than a year ago. What's not to love? Its delicate border, its special shaping at the neckline to help keep it in place atop shoulders, its nice size... I could go on and on...

I'm smiling in the photo, but don't get the wrong idea. Things haven't always looked so good between us.

Our relationship really began at the end of March 2006, with turbulent times right from the start. Here is what resulted from our first rendevous... and our second... and our third... and our fourth... I know you get the picture. It was hard to love the lace at that point, and I began to wonder if this relationship was going to be worth all of the work.

However, we persevered. At least three times we had to enlist assistance from a third party (the "lifeline"). Without lifelines I'm not sure where the shawl and I would be, but I'm confident there is a dress code there and nice jackets having sleeves which tie in the back.

In any case, we got through it, and this week we are about to embark on a new phase of our relationship: The knitted-on border. If it doesn't kill us, it will make us stronger!

(I'm also struggling with monogamy, but more on that at another time.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blanket Blocking...

Dear Laura:
Yay! The blanket is blocking! I cast off when I got home Friday evening, and now
it is washed and pinned and looking lovely. It ended up being roughly 34" square - love the whole blocking thing. I was worried that it would be barely 30" square, but it laid out beautifully.

So, now it's onward with the baby sweater. I decided not to start the baptismal shawl until I have a bit more of the sweater done. Of course, you know what that means....PROBLEM!!

I've got about 2-2 1/2" of the sweater done, and I'm troubled by the the garter stitch section along the bottom. It insists upon rolling up! I have two chants running through my head.

Chant #1 - Blocking will fix that roll.

Chant #2 - If you think it's hinky when you're knitting will be hinky when you finish it..

So, what do you think? Will blocking fix that roll?? Because if it always tends to roll up, it will make me seriously cranky...

(And because I was plagued by indecision about this over the weekend, I did what any sane knitter would do....I cast on a pair of socks!!)

Keep knitting!!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sans Zipper, But Very Close!

Dear Cynthia,

This may look a little bit familiar... After knitting almost the entire sweater twice, and learning lessons which I thought I already knew regarding things possibly appearing to be too small at the start of a project, and situations not resolving themselves by ignoring critical facts, I think I have something here which fits. It has to, because I'm not sure I would be able to muster the fortitude to rip it out and then knit it a third time. Gaining or losing weight will be my first line of defense if this sweater is still the wrong size. I'll let you know...

All that remains is weaving in a few ends, sewing the underarm seams, washing, blocking, and zipper insertion. I'll try to post the pattern by the end of the week, along with a photo of me wearing it.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting my entry for the first challenge of The Amazing Lace. The rules clearly state there are no million dollar prizes, so I'll still have to find other income sources to support my "little knitting hobby", but it just sounded so fun.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)
P.S. Congrats on finishing the blanket! I know I'll enjoy reading about your baby sweater and lace shawl, too!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Getting there.....

The excitement is building....last night I got to the point of adding the baby-mohair carry-along yarn for the bottom (top??) border. Just a few more rows.....and the Red Baby Blanket will be off the needles!!! **Pause for party music and cake.....**

Then is it the sherbet colors baby sweater, and the beginning of the Baptismal Shawl. Yes. Lace, teeny yarn, the whole shebang. And as soon as the yarn for the baby sweater is all knit up, I'm going to do socks for my "portable" project. (Which, I assume from all I've read, is not lace. I have to be able to do my "portable" project while carrying on a conversation, teaching a class, cheering at a T-ball game, etc.)

I'm interested in your Morehouse Merino book. It sounds like something I would enjoy reading. I'll have to express that interest at the library - sometimes that is effective..... I know what you mean tho, about not always wanting a complicated project. I love the rhythm of a long row of just knitting or purling....

This weekend is the Fiber Festival at Salomon Farms in Fort Wayne. I think it's the third annual - I went the first year, but last year I was in Wisconsin and missed it. I'm excited about going - haven't seen the gang from the Wooly Knob in a long time, and they'll be there. Just thinking about it has my fingers itching to spin. I have a "loaner" wheel that I haven't tried out yet (it's been collecting dust for quite a while!!) so I may have to get it out. I have a very small stash of roving........

It has finally stopped raining, at least for a day or two they say, so I hope to do some "open the windows and CLEAN" type stuff this weekend also. Of course, Monday morning will arrive and I'll be lucky to have just gotten a little sleep, so being too ambitious probably isn't wise....


Keep knitting!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time to think...

Dear Cynthia,

Again, I assure you that I am feverishly working on the Summer in Kansas shawl (completed 147 rows, 84%, approximately :-) and also the collared zip cardigan, but nothing exciting to photograph there, and so I present another post of diversions.

I've been carrying my new Morehouse Farm Merino Knits book around the house, not sure why I am so fond of it. On Page 16, the author, Margrit Lohrer, says, "Stop-and-go projects bother me--stop and check, stop and read, stop and count--they don't give me time to think. Knitting is the time when I digest the day's events, my life's, and the world's."

I enjoy a challenging project as much as the next totally-fanatical knitter. I know there are some knitters who will consider only those projects which will tantalize their minds, and I think that is admirable and ambitious. I had been feeling a little bit like a slug, working away on my simple mostly-stockinette-stitch collared zip cardigan. And then I read Margrit Lohrer's quote, and I felt instantly better and very much affirmed. Sometimes it is just about the repetition of it, and the peaceful simpleness of making something square. I am so glad!

Because, for another "deadline knitting" project (my mother-in-law's birthday in September), I have selected "Foulard" out of the Morehouse Farm Merino Knits book. It is a simple 50 inch square knit from corner to corner in garter stitch! I'm even more excited about it today, because I split a Knit Picks order with a friend whom I'll call Catherine, so the yarn for this project is "in the building". It is Shimmer, an alpaca/silk blend, in the Stained Glass colorway, and it is so soft.

Well, I've got some knitting to do!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Christmas in May

Dear Cynthia,

Just a quick note... I posted a free pattern on Pickin' and Throwin' which is available in the "Free Patterns" section of the sidebar (though I'm confident you would have figured that out on your own). Consider it a diversion, so that you don't notice my lack of posting any project updates (though I assure you, I haven't stopped knitting)...

My test last night went well, but I'm some kind of weirdo, because I might have been the only one leaving the exam room with a tremendous sense of loss. I think I just get "attached" to things, even being a student in a class. I don't remember this ever happening the first time I went to college... In any case, I know I won't miss the dead cats, and I already notice more free time. It will take a few days to shake those "I ought to be studying right now instead of (insert any number of words here, such as knitting, blogging, housekeeping, etc)" thoughts. Nothing else for me to report today...

Hang in there with the blanket! I just know you'll be showing a photo of it in all its completed glory very, very soon!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Black Hole Time....

The red blanket. I really want to finish it. NOW! I want to move on to the baby sweater and lace shawl without the blanket screaming for attention. But it has reached that stage. I have convinced myself that a 30" square blanket will be good. I'm going to finish this ball of yarn, and if it goes over 30" that's fine, but it just looks silly to be any shorter than 30".

So I've been measuring, then knitting, then measuring....and I finally got to 28" - so it was time to add the mohair for the border. Just to be sure I laid it out (as per the instructions) and pulled it to full width before measuring.



It may never end.

We had a mushroom party tonight. When I was growing up, spring meant hunting and eating morel mushrooms. I haven't had any in years tho, I was never a successful hunter. Dad managed to supply us with 4 POUNDS of mushrooms. My three brothers and some of their kids came over, and we fried for about 45 minutes. Ate every last bit. It was wonderful!

And it stopped raining, so my brother mowed the lawn. And I took my houseplants out to enjoy the mild weather. So, lots going on here!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

I Control the Weather

Dear Cynthia,

I'm planning on washing my kids' winter coats today so that I may store them away for the summer. This guarantees that tomorrow our temperatures will be hovering in the 20 degree F range, much too cold for them to wear only their sweaters. Further, I have been working on this bulky green sweater, fully anticipating that I won't be able to wear it yet this spring because it will be too warm here in May. Well, it is May, and I have a little more than half of a sleeve and the collar remaining, and though today would make a fine day to be wearing this sweater outside, when I finally have it completed in a week or two, our summer will have arrived suddenly, and without that month of "free" climate control in which the furnace has been shut down but the air conditioner has not yet been invoked. I could stop working on the green sweater altogether until fall. However, that would only guarantee a summer that arrived really late and extended into November. I think I really need to get in contact with the people who are working on the global warming problem.

I have this to say about the sweater right now, however: I am decreasing on the sleeve, and so there are fewer and fewer stiches as I work toward the cuff. Contrast that with the shawl, in which there are more and more stitches as I work. Here it is with 138 of 160 rows completed, making the main body of it 74% done in terms of stitch count. To make "yet one more picture of the lump of shawl" more interesting, it is shown with the latest issue of Cast On. I'm thinking that the Donegal Tweed Jacket from it is in my future.

I have my last test of the semester today. Then you won't have to hear anything more about any classes until fall, and perhaps I'll actually crank out a finished object or two...

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"Basic Sock" Christmas Stocking w/ Satin Bow

A pattern by YarnThrower

(These directions are for the red stocking shown on the left in the photo. To make the off-white stocking shown on the right in the photo, go here.)

Make a Christmas Stocking in an evening, using large needles and super bulky yarn! The stocking shown here was made with Lion Brand Chenille. Add a satin ribbon bow, and it is a quick sock decoration to hang on the front door!

This is a great pattern to learn how to knit socks, as it uses all of the techniques for a "basic sock". As an added bonus, there is no "second sock syndrome" with Christmas stockings!

(This pattern is the property of YarnThrower and may not be reproduced except for one copy for individual use. If you print or distribute this pattern without YarnThrower's written permission, you are stealing.)

Finished Dimensions:
  • Red Stocking shown is 8 inches wide by 19 inches long
Materials required:
  • One skein Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick, or Wool-East Thick & Quick, or any super-bulky weight yarn (category 6) which knits up at about 8 or 9 stitches per four inches in stockinette.
  • Set of four size 13 double pointed needles
  • Size 13 circular needle, 16 inch (optional -- may use double pointed needles throughout, or may cast stitches onto circular needle and knit most of the sock on the circular needle, though double pointed needles will still be needed at the heel and toe)
  • Darning needle
  • Scissors
  • Two yards of 2 inch wide satin ribbon

Cast On:
  1. Holding two double pointed needles together, cast on 36 stitches tightly over both needles. Carefully pull out one of the needles. This will yield a loose, uniform cast on edge.
  2. Divide stitches evenly onto three needles. You will have 12 stitches per needle.
  1. Place marker and join to work in the round, knitting one row. (Note that the first 12 stitches knit are on needle #1, the next 12 stitches knit are on needle #2, and the last 12 stitches knit are on needle #3.)
  2. Work in K1 P1 ribbing for five rows.

  1. Knit three rows in stockinette.
  2. On fourth row, *K1, YO, K2tog*, repeat between *__* to end of round. There should still be 36 stitches total on needles.
  3. Continue in stockinette stitch until work measures about 12 inches, stopping at end of round.

Heel Flap:
  1. Arrange stitches on needles so that needle #1 has 18 stitches, and needles #2 and #3 have 9 stitches each. The heel will be worked back and forth on needle #1.
  2. Row 1: *Slip one stitch as if to purl, K1*, repeat section between *__* until the end of needle #1, turn work.
  3. Row 2: S1, purl across, turn work.
  4. Rows 3-9: Repeat rows 1-2, ending with row 1.
Turn Heel:
(Note that when you turn work on rows 1-5 you will not be at the end of the row.)
  1. Row 1: P11, P2tog, P1, turn work.
  2. Row 2: S1, K5, K2tog, K1, turn work.
  3. Row 3: S1, P6, P2tog, P1, turn work.
  4. Row 4: S1, K7, K2tog, K1, turn work.
  5. Row 5: S1, P8, P2tog, P1, turn work.
  6. Row 6: S1, K9, K2tog, K1.
  1. Pick-up round (Row 1): Pick up and knit 9 stitches along right edge of heel flap. Combine instep stitches (those stitches on needles #2 and #3) onto one needle by using a free double pointed needle and knitting across the 18 instep stitches. Using the needle which was just freed up, pick up and knit 9 stitches along left edge of heel flap. Continue knitting with this same needle and knit 6 stitches from the heel. You are now at the center back, end of round. Move next 6 stitches onto needle #1. Needle #1 should have 15 stitches on it, needle #2 should have 18 stitches on it, and needle #3 should have 15 stitches on it, with yarn end between needle #1 and needle #3.
  2. Row 2: Knit around.
  3. Row 3: Decreasing round -- Knit to last three stitches of needle #1, K2tog, K1. Knit across needle #2. On needle #3, K1, SSK, knit to end of needle.
  4. Repeat row 2 and row 3 until 36 stitches total in round. Needle #1 and needle #3 will each have 9 stitches, and needle #2 will have 18 stitches.
  5. Knit in stockinette until foot part is 5.5 to 6 inches long from picked up edges, stopping at end of round.

  1. Row 1: On next round, knit to last three stitches of needle #1, K2tog, K1. On needle #2, K1, SSK, knit to last three stitches, K2tog, K1. On needle #3, K1, SSK, knit to end of round.
  2. Row 2: Knit around.
  3. Repeat rows 1 and 2 until there are a total of 16 stitches remaining, stopping at end of round.
  4. Continue knitting with needle #3, and knit 4 stitches from needle #1 onto needle #3. You should now have two needles, each with 8 stitches.
  5. Cut yarn leaving an 18 inch tail, and use Kitchener Stitch to close toe.
  1. Weave in all ends.
  2. Add a crochet chain or I-cord for hanging stocking.
  3. Weave Satin Ribbon through eyelets formed by Step 2 of leg section, and tie it in a nice bow.
Note: Text in red indicates revision made since original issue date.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yes, In Fact, I AM Paranoid

Dear Cynthia,

Here is my executive summary:
Summer in Kansas Shawl: 131 of 160 rows completed (67% done)
Cardigan with Collar & Zipper (green): Still on sleeve island
Nephew's "A" Sweater: Back almost completed

Regarding my nephew's "A" Sweater -- I have just a little bit of yarn left on the first hank (out of six which I own, including yesterday's impulsive "insurance" purchase), and I have the entire back completed except for an inch. This means that I will be able to easily finish the sweater using four skeins or less, leaving two remaining which have now been designated for a nice scarf for my dad's birthday in October. And so, indeed, I will most definitely NOT be running out of yarn for this project. This proves that I AM paranoid, probably resulting from some baggage I still carry from prior projects in which I HAVE run out of yarn. Have I mentioned yet how much I LOVE this yarn? It is the first alpaca blend I've tried, and I am smitten.

You may have noticed already, but I put some sections for finished objects on the side bar. Let me know what you think. I went back to January and tried to post everything finished since then. Please feel free to revise to your liking.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Knitters' Insurance

Dear Cynthia,

Your mold experience reminded me of the time we spent a few days at Ruth's place in Duluth, when the water from the lower level shower, for months, had been detouring through the carpeting in the spare bedroom on its way out to the sewer, and I was sneezing like crazy. I hope you are able to find a quick and complete solution! There is knitting to be done, and messing around with house issues is taking time away from what you should be doing! I guess that's why they say "Your home is your hastle", I mean castle.

I have an exam next Tuesday, and I am behind in putting laundry away to the tune of about five loads, and my kitchen floor hasn't been mopped in weeks, so I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. And so, I did what any sane knitter would do: I cast on for a new sweater.

This is the Gedifra which I got at Coyote Yarns for 50% off, a wonderful and beautiful wool/alpaca blend. It is going to be a sweater for my godson, whose birthday is in July. It is going to have a big "A" on the front of it, sort of like the Harry Potter sweaters, but I've added a little bit of a rolled edge to the bottom, some striped ribbing, and am using a thicker yarn. The first time I worked across the ribbing with the contrast color, I forgot to "knit" all of the stitches, and so I had little gray purl bumps showing on the right side...but then I ripped back and started knitting each stitch across one row each time I changed color, and so now it is full speed ahead.

For knitters, money is of no value in terms of "insurance" against running out of yarn near the end of a project. (Maybe I'm paranoid, but, halfway through the first skein, I am having angst about not having enough yarn.) Since Coyote Yarns is closing in mere weeks, and since the sale is incredible (40% off for all purchases over $40), this yarn is not going to be within my easy reach very soon, so I bought myself a little insurance knitters' style -- one more skein of the gray, which can easily become a matching hat if not consumed in the making of the sweater.

The weather is cold and rainy here today, and I heard on the news last night that it is coming to us by way of Indiana, including 50 mph winds expected tonight. I hope that all is well on your homefront over there in Hoosierland. At least you don't have to worry about being stuck in your house without any knitting supplies :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Back home again....

Dear Laura:
That was the slogan on our license plates a few years ago....Back Home Again In Indiana. And I am! I got back late Sunday night from my two week vacation in Wisconsin.

My dogs were happy to see me, and so were my parents - they were also back in Indiana and waiting to go back to Kentucky until I got home, so they could see me!

It was also fun to come back home and find my sockapaloooza socks waiting! And my wonderful sockpal included some sock yarn - yay! I love sock yarn! Remember at Coyote Yarns that I looked at a sock yarn with narrow stipes, but they didn't have enough to do a pair of socks? This is that same yarn in a different colorway, in a bigger skein! So, hurray!!

After all the joy and fun of the initial homecoming, I relaxed a bit and then fell into bed. I dozed off, but woke up about half an hour later, coughing, eyes watering, sinuses draining. Which was exactly what was going on when I left for Wisconsin. I thought I had a cold the week before my trip, which ended a day or two after I left home.

The other piece of the puzzle is that two weeks before my trip, we got a new water heater. Later that week, I noticed water under my washing machine, so it was determined I should turn the water off to the washer and use the one upstairs. While I was gone, they had determined that the new drain hose they installed for the water heater/water softner hadn't been properly hooked into the drain, so that water was going into my laundry room.

They used a fan to dry out the carpet, but it had been getting wet and drying out without my noticing for a couple of weeks by time it was fixed, and developed mold/mildew. So, my "cold" and my nasal distress seem to have been caused by an allergy to that.
The carpet is glued down, so we haven't been able to take it up easily. I've been spraying it with a bleach solution and a mold/mildew cleaner. Meanwhile, I spent the first two nights up in the spare bedroom up-upstairs and that helped. Last night I slept in my own bed with no adverse effects! If I have any more trouble, we'll have to get serious about removing the carpet.

While there is still lots of madness involved in settling back in, unpacking (ha!) and catching up on things, I did get some knitting done on the baby blanket yesterday, and that felt good.

Today I brought the yarn for the baby sweater that I'm working on and some size 4 needles. I'm glad I got to talk to you during my drive home about this project. I've decided to do a gauge swatch with size 4 needles and see if the fabric drapes more softly and determine the number of stitches I would need. At this point, I'm no longer making the pattern from the book, just matching the measurements. I'm going to knit it flat on circulars, using steeks for the sleeve holes, and putting a zipper in the front. That should keep the variegation from looking different in the fronts than the back.

Also, at lunch....browsing the new issue of Cast On that was in my mailbox last night! ^wink^ Good luck with the paperwork - I feel your pain all too clearly. But I have 2 weeks worth of TV shows recorded on DVR and plenty-o-baby-knitting to distract me from my stacks!

Keep knitting!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

And Still With the Green Sweater

Dear Cynthia,

Well, the second time around is a charm.

You might recall seeing another sweater looking a lot like this one (only five inches smaller in circumference) just a week or two ago, which was subsequently frogged, completely.

I've tried on this second version of the green sweater in its current state and I am quite happy with the fit of it. It will be loose enough to wear as more of a jacket, which works well for how bulky the knitted fabric is, yet the ribbing in the underarm area of the body does a great job of cinching it in and giving it a hint of shape.

Things I've learned from this experience:
1.) If it is too small, then it is too small, and no amount of additional knitting using the same faulty math is going to change that.
2.) Rippit sooner rather than later.
3.) My next project will definitely not use green yarn. I've grown a bit tired of the thing, though I have to add that it is a nice, mindless project (though, apparently not TOO mindless, which could explain part of the reason to frog so much in the first place)...
4.) It's a great project to enjoy in front of the tv.
5.) I am a product knitter, and will not be ripping this out yet again just so that I might enjoy the whole process again... This has been plenty-o-fun already.

This week is my big push to "file/get rid of/act on" that big pile of paperwork that seems to accumulate of its own accord merely due to the passage of time (and the mail carrier and junk-mail senders might have something to do with that). I have piles which have been years in the making which are now reduced to about two inches worth of things which must be dealt with. Every day I do a little bit toward the goal of eliminating the piles completely, and as long as I don't rest on my laurels today and give up, allowing all of that stuff to germinate for another year, I think I might just "win" this time around. Then, I may focus my efforts on waiting for the mailman to bring me something more exciting, such as the latest issue of Cast On, due any day now....

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

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Break From Knitting

Dear Cynthia (aka the person who spent more than me again :-)

I'm anxious to get started on my new, fun, pink socks. I've been wanting to try the Mer-Made yarn for a while, and the hand-painted pink hank was calling my name, as was the Traveling Companion Socks pattern, which looked so great when we saw it made up in a hand-painted yarn while at the Blackberry Ridge open house.


.....first, I'm committed to finishing my Summer in Kansas Shawl. It looks like such a lump right now. I'm getting anxious to see what this will look like after blocking! I hope the whole "magic of blocking" thing regarding shawls is not an evil myth. No, it can't be. I've seen too many beautiful shawls transformed via blocking by other knitters as recorded in their blogs, so I'm confident mine will be no different, except for the part in which I'll notice a glaring and huge error smack in the middle of the thing once the stitches are opened up more and defined by the blocking...

I've completed 120 out of 160 rows. To bore you with the math, and using concepts of similar triangles, and because I will always be a geek and have stopped fighting it, the fraction of the area which has been knit is a multiple of the square of the ratio of rows. (This only is true for shawls in which the rows start out really short and then grow steadily.) In other words, when I had knit half of the rows, I was (1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4) done with the shawl. Now that I have knit 120/160, or three-quarters, of the rows, I am (3/4 x 3/4 = 9/16) done with the shawl, so just a little bit more than half done. I am making steady progress, continuing to work at least three rows per day. At this rate, the main body of the shawl will be done in two weeks. Sorry, but yes, I imagine you will be hearing about this project for another month as I also expound on the whole process of knitting my first ever border onto a shawl.

While my mom and I were at Nancy's Notions Sewing Expo this past weekend in Beaver Dam, we took a quilting class together. They taught a quilt-as-you-go method, which I have some mixed feelings about, but it was a fun project, and something else which has now achieved UFO status. When completed, there will be some wool felt leaves sewn into the large middle section, and a few more strips along the edges. It is a table runner... My goal is to finish it by fall, so that I may use it this year.

Well, time to get some lunch on the table.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Contest Winner!

Dear Laura:

Well, it's time for us to announce the winner of our first contest! The results have been tabulated (thanks for doing the math!) and the winner was Trek! She guessed 6 of the items correctly.

From the original post, we have:
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.

The actual breakdown was:

(1) skein of Blackberry Ridge Mer-made fingering weight in the variegated pink (she got the bright color this time!); (1) sock pattern and (6) skeins of worsted Gedifra yarn, five in a heathered grey and one in cream (to make a sweater for a birthday gift..)

Well. All the rest. (4) skeins of Cascade 220 (as a gift for a friend!); (1) skein of Blackberry Ridge Mer-made fingering weight in the more subdued colors ^wink^; (2) skeins of Blackberry Ridge Silky Merino in cream (for the baptismal shawl I'm making); (1) large skein of Lorna's Laces sport weight in Bold Red (it was HALF PRICE!); and finally, (1) book, Shadow Knitting by Vivian Høxbro.

While we didn't need a tie-breaker, for the record, AS USUAL, Cynthia spent the most! ^blush^

The prize for our winner is a 95 gram skein of hand spun /hand dyed alpaca. It isn't labeled, but seems to be about a worsted weight. It is a blue/tan color overall, but lots of interesting colors up close. There is a hint of sparkle spun in as well! I got it from my local LYS (The Wool Barn) and I'll have to check with them to get more info on the source. So, watch your mailbox Trek - it will soon be headed your way. We hope you enjoy it, and thanks to all of our fine contestants!!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Brown Truck

Dear Cynthia,

Who doesn't love it when the Brown Truck stops right in front of the house? Having a package tracking system which allows a Mommy to figure out exactly when an expected delivery is loaded on the truck and "out for delivery", the UPS company and, more specifically, the Brown Truck, has captivated my children's anticipation from an early age. Even the old song from The Music Man about the Wells Fargo Wagon is reminiscent of such anticipation.

I am no different. The Brown Truck stopped in front of my house yesterday. It delivered a package ADDRESSED TO ME! Inside the box was a shawl kit and a new book. My mom had just arrived from out of town shortly before this. I think it is good that my mom was here when the package was delievered and when I opened it, because the shawl kit is her Mothers' Day present, and it might not have worked out that way if I had opened the package solo. Luxurious yarn with a simple pattern, and I love the look of the finished product in the photo. I've also been throroughly enjoying the book. It is one of very few books which I have ever purchased without paging through it first. There is something about the Morehouse Merino web site which draws me to it, and I think I figured this book might have the same powers. Well, it does! The patterns inside are not at all difficult, but the book is refreshing to me. My favorite chapter is the one about lace, and I can see myself making several of the items. I didn't get too excited about the sweaters. I think that all except for one of them is dropped shoulder, and so I'd definitely make some revisions to them if I decided to make any for myself. However, the photos of the farm, people, animals, and knitted items, coupled with a lot of great, fun patterns for kids' stuff, are thoroughly engaging me, and I am loving it!

My little guy and I really had a nice time at the zoo yesterday! Can you find the three-year-old in this photo?

My mom will be staying here until tomorrow. The boys are very excited because she is here for "two sleepovers". She and I are going to sewing mecca tomorrow, to attend an expo which happens every year at about this time in Beaver Dam. It has been an annual event for us to attend together for the past five years, and it is just nice to be able to spend some time together immersing ourselves in *gasp* a hobby other than knitting *double gasp*. We are signed up for one quilting class in the afternoon, so we will stock up on sewing supplies in the morning at the Nancy's Notions warehouse. Talk about dangerous.....

I leave you with some photos of the new carousel at our zoo. It it indoors, so there is a ceiling which is really cool, too, though because of the lighting I was unable to get photos of the fun pictures of animals up there.Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

A little progress....

Dear Laura:

It seems like I should have more progress to report. You will laugh, but when I planned my time here, I somehow thought I would get more knitting done.

Now, that isn't as crazy as it sounds. I have to say that I have had a fair amount of free time.
I am, after all, the babysitter for 3 kids, not the mom. And, take right now for instance. The baby is sleeping and the other two are watching "the babysitter's best friend." There is nap time, and we have fairly early bedtime. I can knit while they play outside, or at the park...

But sometimes (ok, ok, often) when I sit down for a quiet minute, it turns out that my brain is mush! I think, "I could knit...or blog...or something," but it doesn't happen. Yesterday, I did sit down with my knitting during naps.....and then my snoring woke me up about 1/2 an hour later.

So, I have a meager gauge swatch and an inch of progress to show.

I started the gauge swatch doing a faster purl stitch, but it twists so you have to knit through the back loop on the next row. It turned out looking very uneven, so I went back to the usual way, and liked it better. (You can see where I made the switch.) The pattern is a 4-1 garter stitch rib. When I was doing the swatch, I figured that if I knit across, then purl 4, knit 1 on the back side I was doing more knit stitches, which is my preference.

However, when I started the pattern, I cast on and blindly knit the directions, which calls for knit 4, purl 1, then purl back across. Now that I'm an inch into it, I find it seems to make a difference. There is almost a hole on the front side when I do the purl. So I'm trying to decide if it bugs me enough to rip it back, or whether I'd like to keep knitting and grumbling and make more progress before I decide to frog it. I did consider switching at this point, but there would be a row that had two purls in a row, and that would bug me worse than the little holes and extra purling.

The other fun was when I noticed that the garter-stitch on the bottom of the sweater needed size 2 needles and the only ones I had with me were the DPNs that I used for the sockapaloooza socks. So, mental math mistake #1. 72 stitches, 5 needles, hmm, 72 divided by 5 should be about 12 stitches per needle. Mental math mistake #2. Whoops, this set only has 4 needles. 72 divided by 4...15-16 stitches per needle. Yes, you see it coming, don't you?? Only after I had them all arranged did it occur to me that I hadn't left myself a needle to knit with!! Oh my.

So! There's the progress on the baby sweater. The girls have been fed and are upstairs for nippy-nap (they don't have to sleep, but they have to stay in bed!) so I should be knitting. And I'm going to try really hard not to snore!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Of blocking and swatching....

Dear Laura:

Hurray for guilt-free knitting! I'm glad that lab test is behind you, and that the shawl is going smoothly. It's beautiful!

I had to laugh when I read about the DNA in your sweater! It seems I'm always connecting life to CSI. I had to be fingerprinted for a background check on a job application, and besides thinking "Wow, now I'm in the system" I kept thinking, "Hmm, if they end up doing an autopsy today, they'll have to figure out the traces of fingerprinting ink on my hands..." Anyway, now they would just have to determine the content of the loose fibers which no doubt are on my clothes and furniture....hint: usually Merino!

I finished my sockapaloooza socks on Tuesday. Since they're for an exchange, I did all the official stuff: kitchnering the toes, blocking...things I don't normally do. (My socks become shaped when I put them on!) I am still not a fan of kitchner. I took your advice and kept it loose until the end, but found that tightening the tension at the end was very frustrating, and the last few stitches didn't look even. I tightened as I went on the second toe, and it looked better, but I'm still leaning toward the three needle bind off. But I hate to have a technique "beat me...."

Thanks for the great sock blockers! They worked really well, see??

Since the socks are done, I've been working on the baby blanket. And I can't have only ONE I began the process of a baby sweater. I brought the yarn, needles, and some books with me, and it was a lovely day yesterday, so I did the prelim work outside.

The yarn is that hand-dyed mohair/merino blend from Maple Creek Farm that I got at the Michigan Fiber Festival last year. The ball band doesn't have any gauge/needle information, so when I needed to choose needles, I tried a new tip I'd heard. I doubled the yarn and passed it through the holes of a needle gauge until I found the smallest one it would fit. Ta da - size 3 needles!

I found a pattern in a Debbie Bliss book that I have from the library. I wasn't sure if I was looking for inspiration or a pattern, but in the end, I decided to follow the pattern My stitch gauge was fine, my row gauge is a little off, but I can make the pattern adjustments for that. So, swatching done and pattern chosen. And the baby to wear the sweater was born yesterday to my niece Amanda. A new baby girl, Lydia Marie!

Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

PS - Yes, let's work out the winner...and I have an idea for the prize!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Progress on The Same Two Big Projects

Dear Cynthia,

With last night's big lab exam behind me, I can knit guilt-free, unlike yesterday, when I was knitting with plenty-o-guilt. However, things went well regarding my test, and it is a load off... I'm still focussing on the same two big knitting projects, and you'll no doubt hear much more about them in the coming week or two.... Please, try to contain your excitement... Here is Summer in Kansas after 100 rows! Since starting the "thistle" section, things seem to be going more smoothly. Also, since there is a chart beginning with this section and not just written directions, it is a little easier for me to troubleshoot, when there is trouble, and there was trouble once, but no ripping I might just be getting the hang of this lace knitting thing. After saying that so boldly I think I'd better put in another lifeline, just so that the knitting gods don't curse me too badly for such a hint of arrogance.

Progress continues on the cardigan, too! Sometimes it is just fun to knit something that is so quick, and since I'm taking care of the ends as I go by splicing my joins (complete with DNA from my saliva, so I'd better make sure that this cardigan is never involved in any kind of foul play), and having no seams, the finishing will be minimal... Not all that exciting of a picture, and its just a basic cardigan, but it will be a nice sort of fall "jacket", and the yarn is more interesting to look at live-and-in-person (is that redundant?). I'll write out and post the pattern upon completion.

I went to the dentist yesterday for a check-up. I think I have sore muscles in my jaws today from holding my mouth open so wide for so long. My five year old explained to me that he knows the difference between baby teeth and grown-up teeth, because grown-up teeth are yellow... Thank you. At least he has stopped reminding me that I am in my 40's so I will die sooner than him.

This morning my three-year-old and I will be going to the zoo in Madison. They have a new carousel there which I've been wanting to check out... Not sure if you've been to the Milwaukee zoo with your clan there in Kenosha, but that is a pretty nice place, too! We went there with my parents last fall, and it was glorious.

Do you think it is time for us to crown a winner in our contest? Let me know if you'd like to huddle about it...

Well, enjoy this lovely day!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Dear Cynthia,

Saturday was so much fun! Here's a hint regarding the contest: When you (Designated Knitter) buy yarn, it often "speaks" to you at some later date, long after the purchase. When I (YarnThrower) buy yarn, it must speak to me before the purchase, because I won't buy it unless I have a project identified for it (perhaps because I am more of a "product" knitter, and you are more of a "process" knitter?).

I'm supposed to be intensely studying for the lab exam I have tomorrow night. It will involve looking at dead, dissected cats, and trying to find various blood vessels and other assorted body parts in them. I have to say it is a sensory experience, giving new meaning to Phoebe's song "Smelly Cat" (of "Friends" fame). Generally, I don't allowed exam preparation to get in the way of my knitting... It's not a rule, but it seems to be how things work out...perhaps because housework gets side-lined first...

I just finished row 97 of the shawl, and for those keeping score at home, it means only 63 more ever-lengthening rows. Three rows per day seems to be attainable, and is a good amount of time for such intense concentration. More, and I think I'd just be asking for mistakes.

My "mindless" knitting continues to be the Blackberry Ridge Nubby Wool cardigan. I just divided for the fronts and back, and it is definitely going to fit much, much better than the first version did. I like having the ribbing under the arms for some "shaping", and I like the wider ribbing better, though it was a pain to face ripping out the whole sweater before, all in all I am going to be sooo much happier with the finished product. This will have a zip front and a seed stitch collar to match the front bands.

Well, back to ignoring my studies...

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)