Friday, March 31, 2006

It's NOT stash!!

Dear Laura:

I’m happy that you are back on track (rhyming noted!) with your lace knitting! It looks beautiful and my fingers are quite itching to try, Although, if YOU are unable to do it with any distractions, I have faint hope of keeping track in a completely quiet room!

I’m plugging along on the red baby blanket. Progress is being made - I’m about a quarter of the way done. I hope to make significant progress this weekend, since I won’t be doing a lot of driving! I do enjoy this pattern, it’s very easy to get into a flow and just get lost in the knitting. The knitting pattern has a cool rhythm. There are 3 sets of 3 (k3, yo,k1,yo, k3) and 2 sets of decreases. I can chant “123,123,123, 2 become 1, 2 become 1….”

I had a surprise in the mail waiting for me when I got home. A box of yarn! Actually, when I picked it up, I thought, “Hmm, well it’s too heavy to be yarn…” An old friend ran across this vintage stash and sent it on to me. Happily with a note telling me that it wasn’t anything that I wanted, I should feel free toss it or pass it along.

Being freed from any obligation (and as you previously posted, such donations do NOT count as stash!) I’ve been contemplating this yarn. First we should note the colors, which as I mentioned are considered “vintage.” Those of you familiar with my color sense are saying, “Hmm, fat chance she’ll knit something that you don’t need to wear sunglasses to look at!” Well, just calm down. If you separate the box into individual color ways, there is some merit there. I pulled out a couple skeins that are an olive green color with some pink flecks that really is kind of cool. The red with the light blue also looks interesting.

I don’t know what the fiber is – I would be surprised tho if it is wool. I may have to do a flame test (ha ha, playing with fire!!) It also has an interesting texture. So, I think I’ll leave it lying out for a while, see if it speaks to me and what it may want to be. In the end, it may not want to be….but I’m giving it a chance.

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Back on Track

Dear Cynthia,

Upon hearing the words "back on track", my three year old would say, "Mommy, 'back' and 'track' - they rhyme." However, I am thinking that your first thoughts, instead, might be, "Hmmm, I wonder if something might have gone wrong in Laura's Land of Lace, but now it's all better."

The discerning will notice the complete lack of a needle of any kind accompanying the knitting in this photo. That is because, after ten additional rows of progress, I had an "oops" which got out of control so badly that, once again, I had to rip back to the most recent life-line. And so, I am revisiting row 40 again (and row 41, and row 42, etc). Life-lines are great. In fact, if I had put one in once I got to row 50, I wouldn't be having this conversation. In any case, thanks to the life-line, all stitches are now back on the needles, and I am plodding through the two-digit-rows which all begin with a "4" once again...

I sometimes ask my kids, "What did I learn from this?" I now know:
1.) I need a life-line more frequently than every 20 rows
2.) I should not knit lace when I am watching tv
3.) I should not knit lace when the tv happens to be on and I am sitting in the same room with it
4.) I should not knit lace if somebody is talking to me
5.) If the remote control for the tv is missing, and a quick glance around the room does not reveal its whereabouts, I should not put down my lace knitting in the middle of a row and start looking for said remote control.

See, through this project, I am learning LOTS of things about knitting lace.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I think I can do this

Dear Cynthia,

That was a fun excursion to East Troy! I'm so glad we could visit and talk knitting for a little while!

Back in the real world, it is Spring Break for my kindergartener. At the same time, I'm trying to get the play room de-cluttered. We are having a bookcase delivered tomorrow which I am anticipating will solve all clutter-related issues, though today we will have to rearrange the existing furniture just a little bit. It is all very exciting, even if only to me.

Here is my lace shawl so far. I've got about 46 rows done (out of 160 rows which comprise the main body of the thing). This might make it sound as though I'm pretty far along. However, I have to remember that every two rows adds either four or eight stitches, so the thing is growing growing growing, and though I currently have 137 stitches on my needles, by the time I finish the main body, I will have 405 stitches. The good news is that I'm starting to understand the pattern and it seems to be getting easier. I still would not be able to reconstruct a dropped stitch, but I am able to tell which stitch should come next just by looking at my knitting, so I know I'm improving. Don't get me wrong. I'm not so sure of myself that I would stop putting in a lifeline every ten to twenty rows. It gives me a sense of security. Looking at this blob of knitting, it is not easy to tell that it may one day look something like this, after the magic of blocking...

And, the sock progresses when I'm not working on the lace.

Well, today is a laundry marathon. It's looking pretty mild outside, too, so the boys and I will have to go play outside for a while! It is Spring Break, after all. Who needs Florida for that?!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring Mini-Yarn Crawl 2006

Dear Laura:

Ok, and now, as promised, the review of the Spring Mini-Yarn Crawl 2006!!

Yarn Thrower and Designated Knitter met in East Troy, WI last Saturday morning to check out a yarn store and also to knit and gab. I can honestly say that there is a store in East Troy that does have some yarn.

Moving right along, we found a cute little restaurant/bar called Ivan's. (We think it was called Ivan's) (reminder, on next yarn crawl, take notes!) This lovely gentleman greeted us as we arrived.

They were still serving from their Saturday brunch menu. I had the French Toast with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It was WONDERFUL. Our waitress did a great job - she took care of us, but she didn't hover, allowing us to chat and knit. If you ever find yourself in East Troy Wisconsin, be sure to keep an eye out for the little statue, it stands outside of a great place to take a knitting break!!

I'm back at home, trying to catch up on my sleep. It's amazing how long it takes me to recover from a simple weekend trip these days. I was messed up the whole trip about what time it was. I know it's only an hour difference, but I felt like I spent the whole weekend translating in my head what the clock "meant." The clock in my car (EST) meant an hour earlier in CST, but my cell phone displayed local time correctly. My alarm clock which said I was still awake at midnight meant that I was REALLY still awake at 1:00 am. My brain can't handle that much technical processing!!

Looks like your lace knitting is coming right along!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (Designated Knitter)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Friend or foe?

Dear Cynthia,

It was great to see you yesterday at the Spring mini-yarn-crawl. And, I'm pleased that we can tell everybody of our great restraint, and our lack of new yarn purchases. Out of control, us? Nope! However, perhaps it is also best if we refrain from revealing ALL of the details regarding the yarn store we found...

I started my shawl. And then I *started it again.* Repeat area between ** four times. Here is what I had to show for my efforts:If it looks like a mess of jumbled yarn to you, well then, you get the idea.

Then, I *started it again*. Repeat area between ** until it actually isn't falling off of the needles and is starting to look like it might work out. After an hour, it looked like this next photo, which you might notice is a little fuzzy. After working on this little bit for so long, I'd say the snapshot rather accurately depicts what my eyes were seeing and what my brain was perceiving.

I ended up going down one needle size (I'm using a size five circular). You might notice the little white thread running through the finished work. This is the first time I've ever used life lines in my knitting, and when I put one in after the 20th row, I thought to myself, "Boy, what a wimp. For this little bit of knitting, do I really need a life line?" Four rows later, I had my answer. Because, four rows later I had to take out part of a row, and I dropped a stitch during the process, and I'm not able to "read" my lace, so I had to rip it all back to the lifeline. Are there people who are able to reconstruct dropped stitches when they are making lace? In any case, the life line saved me from having to start over again. I'm going to put one in every 20th row. It's my only hope for sanity in this project. I'm so far undecided about whether or not I really like lace knitting. I'm determined to finish this shawl. There was a time just a few days ago when I thought I might try to make a lace shawl of a different pattern for my mom for Christmas, but now that seems a little optimistic. More thoughts on that as the project progresses... This will be a challenge for me!

In the meantime, here's the sock I'm working on when there are distractions and I am unable to work on the lace. I'm working on the heel flap. I love the tiny little stripes!

Thanks again for all of the duplicate magazines and for the books with knitting stories! I'm really enjoying them!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sock Yarn Stash, Part Deux

Dear Laura:

Hey, do you like that little French word in the title? Sounds pretty cosmopolitan, eh?? Yep, I'm a 'tres chic' sock knitter.... ;)

So, on to more sock yarn...(did I mention that I'm not showing my "other yarn?" That this is not all the yarn in my house by a long shot??? I have stash issues, you know.)

Now we are moving into the more current part of the stash. This is yarn for gift socks. The black-with-grey-flecks yarn is for socks for my nephew-in-law Todd. He joined the family last June when he married Amber, so he needs a pair of hand-knit socks. Hmm, better find out his birthday. The other yarn is for my sil Chris, who helps me out all the time, and invites me over for dinner when I stop by and shamelessly hint that it smells good. I think it might be Blackberry Ridge - that would be a good assumption anyway, since I love their yarn and it is usually my first pick. She loves autumn colors.

Next up is two colorways of Trekking XXL. I've got the leg of the first Jaywalker sock just about done - but when I grabbed it to take the picture I noticed that a couple of needles no longer have stitches on them, so I'll have to do some picking up next time I work on it. (Can you believe that I just said that?? Me, loosened up enough to let un-needled stitches lay around in the stash? Who knew?) The other pair is on its 2nd or 3rd try for the perfect stitch pattern. I don't know what it is in the picture, I just know this isn't the perfect pattern yet, so I'm still searching. Maybe something with eyelets. Cables haven't shown well at all.

Next we have some fun things. The two skeins on the left are Wool In The Woods, and I believe it is a cotton blend. It represents an attempt at an interesting colorway, yet without making anyone's eyes bleed. The upper right pair in green is a yarn that I used for my Sock-a-pal2za sock pal. I did hers in a blues/reds. I loved the long stripe, so I chose a pair in green for myself. I have a good number of green shirts that I wear with jeans, so I thought a green pair of socks would be good. And then the blue aqua pair. Well, that's just classic me. LOVE those colors, and these end up with fairly even 1" stripes. Can't wait to wear these!

And that brings us to my very latest acquisitions.
The upper left ball of yarn is the new Austermann Step. Just arrived in the Wool Barn last week. It has a long stripe pattern, and there is Jojoba and Aloe in the yarn. Sounds cool, but mostly I loved the colors (duh) so there it is. At the upper right we have another colorway of Trekking XXL. When I bought it, I was thinking I would use it as a carry-along for part of the red baby blanket that I'm working on. I tried it for the border, but in the end I decided that I really wanted that blanket to be solid red. And finally, the Stars and Stripes yarn by Fortissima. It's patriotic, what can I say???

That just leaves my SockapalOOOza socks. I grabbed them when I did the "summary photo." They are the kind of hanging off the top of the chair - navy blue "toes." I'm using blackberry ridge and am working out my own design. They are toe-up, worked on 2 circulars, both at the same time. And they are next on the list for my full attention. (I know, I know, I say that about all my projects.)

Well, that's all for now. You should know that I went to a yarn store on my way through Chicago yesterday, and I did NOT buy any sock yarn to add to this stash. And I'm not planning on buying any when we meet later today at a yarn store......unless it's really GREAT sock yarn in beautiful colors. Just sayin'.

Yes, loyal readers (hi mom!) the Yarnthrower and the Designated Knitter will be checking out a yarn store and having a 'show and tell' session later this morning. Since we're both in the same state this weekend, we couldn't resist the chance to actually TALK IN PERSON, so we'll be posting a report of Spring Mini-Yarn Crawl 2006 in the near future (right Laura?)

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Executive Decisions

Dear Cynthia,

WOW! Thank you for sharing "part one" of your stash. I will keep that particular post handy in the event my dh ever mentions that I might possibly have too much yarn, though that has never happened. I think I'm harder on myself than he is when it comes to yarn purchases.

The waiting room socks are almost completed; just a toe to kichener, and that will be it. My stitch markers are still in the second sock. They are spaced every ten rows. It makes it easier for me to count the rows as I go, and I don't have to worry about updating a piece of paper or something. Counting rows might be a little bit on the verge of insanity, but trust me; it would drive me even more insane if I thought there was even a possibility that a matching pair of socks were really different in length by a quarter inch just because one of them had an extra row or two in it.

Work continues on the green cardigan, knit using Blackberry Ridge Nubby Wool, which I am really enjoying. It is a bit of a dense yarn, bulky weight, and having just a little texture to it. I am designing the sweater as I go. Here is a shot of the collar and part of the front opening. It will have a zipped front. It is a very basic sweater, knit in one piece, having indented (square) armholes. All that remains are the sleeves, which will be picked up and knit from the armholes, but I have to sit down and do the math for them, and the spirit hasn't moved me yet. Besides, I had some new sock yarn calling out to me.....

The third time is the charm with this one. I was going to make Jaywalkers, but since I'm using size 2's instead of 1's, I decided to cast on only 68 stitches. After a few rounds, I was noticing that the very thin stripes weren't quite making it all the way around, and so a dark blue vertical stripe was emerging along the back of the sock. So, I decided to try again, with fewer stitches. With only 60 stitches, and an inch or so into the zig zag pattern, it seemed as though the sock might be too small. And, as the Yarn Harlot commented about yesterday, it just wasn't very elastic, either. So, I frogged back to the ribbing and decided to just do a plain stockinette sock. I'm really liking the little stripes! And, it's the perfect mindless project.

I feel better after delving into my stash of works in progress and yarn through my true confessions here on the blog during my last few posts. It's not as bad as I thought it was, so I'm making some executive decisions here. First, the cotton sweater has to wait until summer. I just can't bring myself to knit cotton when we have fresh snow on the ground today. Second, the Christmas stocking will have to wait until fall, when it will be much more seasonal knitting. It seems I have no choice but to get going on my new shawl, so that I have a complicated, technical project to go along with the other two basically stockinette items. It's all about personal growth, yeah, that's it, and making sure that I *always* have something with new challenges to turn to in my knitting when it is quiet in the house (okay, that would probably be the middle of the night, but what a great time to knit something complicated, right?) And so, though I won't be finishing all of my works-in-progress before starting something new, I now have a plan for getting them all done, which is more than I had a month ago.....

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Smiles and chuckles!

Dear Laura:

I'm glad to hear that you get a smile from my posts - I have to say that the chuckles that I get from your posts last a long time. I still laugh every so often when I think of you climbing in the van and announcing to your sons that "I'm bringing my knitting!"

Ok, ok, I've listed most of my WIP's at Designated Knitter. (I haven't dug really deep to find things that may be in process, so I'm not saying it's complete. In fact, I found a couple pair of socks on the needles this morning when I was taking pictures.) For you. My stash. Not all of it, mind you! I never promised anyone full disclosure.

But before we are a dear friend and I would hate to mock you....but...I'm gonna do it anyway. You call that a STASH??? That's a stash-lette! Stashish. Petty stash. You cannot insulate a house in Wisconsin with that puny amount of wool. We definitely need to do some stash enhancement for you.....

Ok. I'm done now.

I have stash. I'm not going to display all my stash. Not going there. But, in the interest of expanding my boundaries....I give you my sock stash. Roll up your bandwidth and get a cuppa tea....

Yes, this represents 21 pairs of socks. (More if I knit for kids and babies, but let's not go there...)

First of all....old sock yarn. Been in the stash for awhile. This represents "conservative socks." Things I could wear to work. Calmer colors. Seven pair.

Three more pair.
Been in the stash a long time - brighter colors.

And here's a pair from my very first Stitches in Minneapolis - somewhere there is also a pattern to turn these into Norwegian socks.

And I could knit them now....I just haven't yet...

Next up we up we have Blogger refusing to load pictures again. So, we will try again tomorrow to finish the sock stash!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Dear Cynthia,

First, I want you to know that your posts always make me smile! Your projects sound and look great! Are you by any chance going through a red streak? I know that the primary colors yarn is one of your favorites, and according to my kindergartener, who knows everything about a lot of different topics and will not be swayed by proven facts, red is, indeed, a primary color.

Second, I just want to say that when it comes to my stash, I will NOT be held accountable for:
1.) Skeins leftover from finished projects. These are just at "added bonus", and something I can dream about as I examine them once in a while and try to pair them with new fun patterns/projects.
2.) Yarn received from other knitters who have given up the craft and have given me their stash. I have several skeins which I obtained this way, some really really nice, some not quite as nice, but all of it very usable for nice knitting projects.

And so, I present my current stash..... The first picture shows "Fiesta Mittens". The picture doesn't do the finished mitten justice. I saw these at Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill in a bright colorway, and just had to try them. It is a pattern by Lucy Neatby, and a stitch which looks pretty interesting to try. Also shown here are two skeins of sock yarn. The top skein will be used for a pair of striped Jaywalkers; I'm not sure which pattern to use for the bottom skein.

This next photo shows my lace projects in queue. I think the Summer in Kansas lace shawl, knit in black wool/silk will be my next big project so that I'll have it for this spring/summer. I've made one lace project so far, but never a shawl. I've wanted to do one ever since I had that shetland scarf class when we were at Stitches Midwest a couple of years ago. The white yarn shown is a washable merino which I am going to dye pink using KoolAid, and then use it to make a mobius scarf, casting on as seen in the Magical Knitting book, but then using my own lace pattern.

This next picture shows Cascade 220. I'm going to make a Harry Potter weasley sweater with it, except it will have an "L" on the front of it (L is for "loser", "Laura", or "we're having 'Leftovers'", whatever seems appropriate for the moments I'm wearing it). I'm not sure why I've wanted to make one of these; it just seems like it would be fun. I'm going to add some ribbing on the sides which will run from the bottom edge up to the arm hole, just to try to give it a little shape and not hang too loosely in the back, which happens sometimes with my sweaters which have no waist shaping.

Finally, I bought this kit, including buttons, years ago, at Cass Street Depot in Fort Wayne. It is for a cute little girl 's sweater which I fell in love with in the store. I thought one day I might make it for one of my kids, or for a niece. Then, I had two boys, so I couldn't really make the sweater for them using this exact yarn. And so, I bought yarn in more masculine colors and made it for my little guy. BUT, the girlie colors remain in my stash, and my nieces have all grown past this size, so now I'm thinking I might try to find the same main color yarn and purchase enough additional to make an adult version of it for myself.

Well, my little guy is over at a friend's house, where he goes every Tuesday morning, and now it is time for me to get cracking on my homework which is due tomorrow. Blogging about knitting just always sounds so much more interesting, though.....

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Too Little Knitting Progress.....

Dear Laura:

I have so very little to report, and I have to tell you that it turns out if I don't get enough knitting time over the course of a week, apparently that makes me very cranky. So to those of my friends who think that yarn is so expensive that knitting CAN'T be cheaper than therapy, I have this to say. "If you would have been around yesterday, you would have been happy to buy me yarn!!"

"Hmm, that merino helped a little, throw in a ball of the cashmere!! And some Inox circulars!!"

Just sayin'.

So I've added up my production for the week.

The glowing orange scarf, plain garter stitch, I knitted a whopping 5".

(You'll have to take my word for it - Blogger just will not upload the picture...)

The glowing red baby blanket (really reddish yarn and a flash don't mix) I progressed another 1 1/2" for a total of 4".
Actually, I did knit another few rows but they had to be ripped out. I worked on this on Thursday night when I taught the second session of a mitten class.

Turns out I can't work on this project if I'm doing it between talking or demonstrating something. I did 3 yarnovers instead of 2 near the end of a row, and didn't discover it until 2 rows later. Negative progress!!

And finally, while I worked at the yarn shop on Saturday, I started a Panta with Lana Grossa Pashmina. It's a wonderful yarn, but it is pretty pricey, and so to help encourage sales I'm trying to knit a project that takes only one skein. I'm sure I'll get the Panta, and I hoping for some wristlet or fingerless mitts also.

I've really enjoyed seeing your WIP's and re-work projects. I do remember that trip where you got the green yarn, and I'm glad it's going to be put to good use! The striped cotton sweater looks great too! It's funny that you knit with cotton so much more than I do - I started out being the one who loved it, and now I very rarely knit with it!

And I completely support your starting a new project at the Urgent Care, er...Waiting Place.

I'll try to post my unfinished projects soon, but my real issue is stash....I "enhanced my stash" again over the weekend.

And I have a guild meeting tonight....

And I'll be driving past my favorite Chicago yarn store on Saturday....



Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Some Re-work Required...

Dear Cynthia,

After disclosing to you all of my current works-in-progress, I'm going to continue my true confessions and share with you what I have in my queue for re-work. I am not fond of "re-work". I think I dislike it even more than "finishing". However, to get the value of the money spent on the yarn (I am a "product knitter", after all), to be happy wearing it, etc., re-work is a harsh reality which I am finally bringing myself to acknowledge. (By the way, I'm not certain of how that word is spelled. I'm sure that by now, you have realized that spelling is not my strong suit. In fact, whenever I take a lab exam, I am always docked for bad spelling on at least three words. But, that's another subject...)

You might remember our trip to the north side of Milwaukee (Grafton, I think?) in which I bought the green yarn for this sweater. I like the yarn. I have a matching pair of socks, except the socks fit me, and the sweater doesn't. So, I tried to fix it, not by frogging, but by slightly felting it. That process did not make it fit better, but it did make it impossible to frog. And so, for the last few years, I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. I think I finally decided that I'm going to cut it up, sew the pieces together to make a bag, then felt it all the way, and finish it off with some needle felting of flowers or something.

I made this top last summer. I really like it, except it is cotton, and like almost everything I've ever made out of cotton, it makes me look like a bell when I wear it. I'm going to try to take out just the bottom of it, and re-work it back down to the hem. I'm not sure what I'll do to prevent it from flaring out so much..... I'll have to think about that a little more, and would welcome any thoughts on it which you might have.

This sweater I made when I was in college, more than (ahem) 20 years ago (gasp). I love the collar, but I've never liked the sleeves on it. I think they would look so much better set in a little bit instead of dropped. This might be crazy, but armed with my recent experience at cutting an armhole, I think I might try a little twist on the Norwegian Steek, and then maybe re-knit the sleeves to fit into the new hole? hmmm...not sure how that would work, though....

Work continues on the new pair of socks, which I am determined to finish very soon so that I can take them off of the list and put them into the sock drawer.

My next post will show my current stash, untouched by knitting needles. Speaking of stash, I went to the yarn store yesterday.... And now, I'd better get to work!!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A New Plan

Dear Cynthia,

I tallied up my works-in-progress, and it's not as out of control as I thought it might be.

First, here is a cabled cotton sweater. The yarn has been in my stash since the late 90's, and the sweater has been on the needles for two? years. Anyway, as with many of my projects lately, there is a possible issue of running out of some yarn, so I should really knit some more on this and place an order for any additional yarn which might possibly be required...if they still make this yarn, but I checked online a few months ago, and I think I'll be okay. Anyway, this is a little bit of a complicated project... Not difficult, but not so mindless that I would consider taking it to, say, an urgent care facility where there will be a two hour wait for my dear son to see a doctor.

Next is a Christmas stocking, my own pattern, using bulky yarn, and which I was trying to write up as I went. I was doing fine, until I ran out of steam at the toe, about a year ago. It is something that might take me all of one hour to complete...and yet, EVERYTHING else seems more compelling right now. Also, definitely NOT something lending itself well to being worked on while waiting for a doctor, hypothetically speaking, of course.

Third, and you might recognize this yarn as I received it in a "yarn bomb" package a year or two ago..... we have some nice wool chenille and some novelty yarn, two things I wouldn't be inclined to purchase myself (since I'm a Heilo / Cascade 220 / Lambs Pride / Blackberry Ridge kind of gal), but which I really enjoyed knitting a triangular scarf with, until I got to a point where I couldn't figure out what to do. I'm not sure if it is all knitters, or just me, but as you know, I very **often** have thoughts about whether or not there will be enough yarn. For this project, I started running short on the novelty yarn and ended up setting it aside until I figured out what I would do. And so, yesterday, I had an epiphany, and I will be moving this project out of the "wips" pile and into the "requires re-work" pile. I have a new scarf pattern churning in my head which I will try to work out with this yarn. Again, not something well-suited to an urgent care waiting area.

Fourth, and no up-to-date photo, but work continues on the green sweater of my own design, and while it was "mindless" for a little while, the next step is neck shaping and not quite as mindless...

And so, that is it for wips! Enter my dear son, who came home from school yesterday with a fever approaching 102, which he has had on and off since Sunday, and which I was sooo tired of messing around with and trying to figure out if he was going to get better on his own. And so, I decided to take him to urgent care (synonymous with "long wait") last night. And, as I saw it, I was left with no choice but to bring yarn for something mindless, and having clearly no such ongoing projects, well, I was forced to start a new sock. I hope you will understand why I had to start a new project without first finishing all of my existing ones. I generally consider myself to be a woman of my word, but it appears that desperate times call for desperate measures.....

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not thrilled, but it works.

Dear Cynthia,

The "Campus Coat" from Aug-Nov 2005 "Cast On" is done.

I think the main reason I decided on this project was that it looked very cute in the magazine, and I would feel younger wearing an item having such youthful connotations in its name.

There were some issues with the yarn called for. For my size, it said four skeins. I ended up using a full six. Also, the name of the yarn company rhymes with "dead part", but I thought since it appeared in a reputable magazine, I'd try it anyway, and there wouldn't be too much money lost if I didn't like the end result.

There were some issues with the neckline stretching out A LOT.

To fix this, I decided to do a row of single crochet into the ridge where I picked up the stitches for the collar. That helped.

Also, I like closure on things, and this sweater was no exception, so I added a couple of buttons. The knitted fabric is loose enough so that actual buttonholes weren't necessary.

Ultimately, this coat is rather bulky and extremely warm. I was too warm with it on in the house yesterday, and we keep our thermostat set at 66F. It is also comfortably light weight. It will be a great coat to wear this spring, when I take the boys to the park and toss a football around. I won't have to worry about "keeping it nice", because I can just throw it in the washer when it gets dirty, and it will keep me warm without being heavy. I don't think I'd make it again, and the more I used the yarn, the less I liked it, but all in all I think the finished product will be well suited to wearing with the rest of my play clothes.

And, I have to mention, another wip completed, moving me one step closer to being able to begin a "new project". In my next post, I will reveal all remaining wips. S-C-A-R-Y

Warm regards
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

One wip down, ???? to go

Dear Cynthia,

Your baby sweater/hat/blanket set is adorable, and I love how the buttons really finish it off so nicely. Also, your red and white striped scarf is so nice. Is it any coincidence that IU will be playing in the NCAA tournament this week, and you have a new scarf sporting IU colors to wear? Of course, we could also argue that it is Wisconsin colors...

I finished my socks which were languishing in second sock syndrome for hmmm....How long, I don't know. In any case, I was trying to get two socks out of one skein (210 meters, 7.5 st/inch gauge) of fortissima colori (hey, it was on sale, only one was available, etc). It is NO accident that the ankle parts of the socks, the heels, the gussets, and most of the feet are color matched. It IS an accident that the system broke down near the toes. I ran out of yarn, and so, since I had to cut so much yarn off before starting the second sock in order to get to the part of the color repeat that matched, I had some yarn I could use to finish the toe. Barely enough. Phew and thank you. I don't recommend the one skein thing if it has only 210 meters in it to be knit at this gauge.

In any case, I found a quick and easy solution to the toes not matching:

Well, my five-year-old is home sick today (well, he actually is feeling quite well enough to pick on his little brother), so I'd better get back to my station as a referee.

More soon. I was so inspired by your posting of so many finished objects that I have my Campus Coat almost completed. More on that in my next post..... Also yet to come at some point, a full disclosure of all remaining wip's...and a compilation of projects in my stash. That's something I've been wanting to figure out for a long time... I can't wait to begin my shawl! So cool that you're going to be making one, too!!

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Feverishly Finishing and Basically Blocking.....

Dear Laura:

Fana is incredible!! You did an amazing job - and made the yarn last as well! I didn't see anything wrong with the white facing around the collar, but now that I see it done, you were so correct to make that work with the grey.

Thanks for link to the lace lessons. I'm also about to embark on a lace project. I've been looking at this book, Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls. There is a great picture inside of a baptismal blanket that they have translated into a shawl. I would like to translate it back into a baptismal blanket. My oldest God-daughter will have her first baby in August, and this will be my gift.

I've had a wild fit of finishing and blocking this weekend! I've got a bunch of items laying out to dry. This is the view of my dining room table....

The scarf along the bottom of the picture is one that I actually knitted last spring. I never blocked it - just wove in the ends and put it away until cool weather. I've worn it a lot this winter, and so I decided that as long as I was blocking, I would give it a handwash and long over-due block. I was inspired by Crazy Aunt Purl and her blocking of a scarf. She steam-blocks and stretched her scarf more than I did, but I was amazed at how much wider it is and how great that looks.

I had gotten the baby sweater off the needles the other day, but I added buttons and blocked it. I also took some of the left-over yarn and fashioned a coordinating hat. The buttons are a little large, but I could not resist. They look like the face of a frog in a bubble. I had them in my button jar, waiting for the right project. This baby's grandma collects frogs, so I know she will love these. I had an extra button, so I added it to the top-knot on the hat.

I also drug out my sewing machine and hemmed the flannel receiving blanket that I picked up at the fabric store last week. It has a similar background color, and some cute frogs, so I have a theme going.
Also shown on the blocking table are the orange mittens I've been working on. I sat down and gave them a couple hours of undivided attention and viola! Two mittens, one right-hand and one left-hand. If you were beginning to wonder if these would ever happen, you're not alone! My poor God-son has waited since Epiphany...and he gets them at the same time we see the first signs of spring!

I picked up "Lily's Hat" and made the repairs to the purple part. I was pretty apprehensive when I first looked at it.

Closer scrutiny in better light was not comforting. I started that hat at the top of the dark purple hat, so dropped stitches were running differently than I anticipated and were part of the increases.
I took it one step at a time tho, and it turned out beautifully. You'd never know there had been a repair made. I'm not sure if I'm blocking it correctly, but it is pretty thick when it is doubled, so I didn't want to try to dry it that way.

Finally, I added the fringe to my red stripe scarf.

Whew!! Now I can work on other projects with a relatively clear conscience! Not that I think there will be much knitting at my house this week. I have a big database project for one of my part-time jobs, so other than lunch hour I won't be knitting until that is done.

But you can....

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Forever Fana Finally Finished (for the most part)

Dear Cynthia,

The yarn gods were smiling on me, because my skein ran out as I was binding off the neckband, and I had a large enough scrap to finish it off. Here it is! Still some small amount of finishing left (weave in ends, parts of two facings need to be sewn down, etc), but these are the last photos I will subject you all to. The finishing on this thing has been a long haul, and for somebody who really does not enjoy finishing, I'm ready to move on. Anyway, I found buttons having little snowflakes on them, and if you squint and wrinkle your nose, you might be able to make them out in the photo. I am quite happy with how it turned out. It was a very fun project, and it had a few techniques I hadn't done before, so a good learning project, too. My dear son cried yesterday, because the weather is getting warmer and he wanted to wear it to school, but it wasn't done yet, and it's not THAT warm...

I decided that after this, I'll finish my second sock, sew the pieces of my Campus Coat together (because "sweater weather" is almost here) and then I'm going to make this my next "technical" project. It is the "Summer in Kansas" shawl, by Two Old Bags. Speaking of lace, have you been reading Eunny's blog lately? Oh my..... What a gift she gives to people who read her blog. It is like taking a class from an expert, except without the fees, on my own time, in my pajamas, and in my own home. It has really motivated me to pull this shawl project out of my stash and tackle it. Besides, shawl weather is almost upon us, so I'm going to set aside my new addiction to Dale of Norway and try my hand at lace knitting.

Well, my circle from church is going to serve the lunch at a Habitat for Humanity work site this noon, so I'd better get my chores around the house done before that.

Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Next Generation of Peace Makers

On one hand, I have a hard time believing that it is STILL not Friday. It has been a long, SLOW week at work. But on the other hand, my question is “How did it get to be Thursday already?!?” I’ve only posted once since my trip!

I always enjoy a weekend away, but sometimes I think it takes me a couple of weeks to get back on track. We will not talk about nutrition – the only reason I have clean countertops is that I haven’t been in my kitchen other than to get a glass of water all week. And it’s not just that – I didn’t have anything planned to bring for my lunch, so I’ve made some pretty disastrous choices. Popcorn? For a meal? ^shudder^

There were a couple of other things that happened over the weekend that I wanted to report on. We shopped a bit on Saturday morning at a fabric store. K. wanted more flannel to make receiving blankets. Since I don’t have the temptation to sew, I didn’t even bring my wallet into the store. Well, while a fabric store is no where near as dangerous for me as a yarn store, I did not escape unscathed.

I picked up a square of flannel to make a receiving blanket to add to the baby gift I’m knitting. Even I can handle a rolled hem around the edges! There was also a fun kit to make a no-sew fleece pillow. I grabbed one of those to try as well.

And then I grabbed a ball of thick yarn and a large crochet hook. My god-daughter is so fascinated by my knitting that I thought it was time to start the yarn thing. So while her little sister was napping, we sat on the couch and started making chains. (The yarn was a bright rainbow color – we share a similar color taste!) She did pretty well – by time we were done she was grabbing the yarn with the hook correctly, and usually remembering to twist it down before pulling the loop through. I needed to hold the chain – three things to juggle was just too much for her, but she is barely five. I remember learning chains when I was her age!

I have to tell you that her mother is appalled by the price of good yarn. She always disagrees when I say that knitting is cheaper than therapy – at least therapy is covered by insurance! (Hmm, mental health insurance paying for yarn…we may have to explore that further…) Anyway, while she was pleased that R. was interesting in crochet, I did assure her that the yarn I had provided was something I would consider “crap yarn.” She was quite comforted by the fact that I’m not trying to hook her daugher on the good stuff! “Yeah kid, the first hit’s free….”

Later that evening, when I got to read books to her little sister, she also wanted to get started with knitting. She sat on my lap, and between books, wanted to help me knit. So I picked up the baby blanket I was working on and put her hands on the needles, then I put my hands over hers and knitted. We got about a row done!

She had been demanding pencils and “my baby yarn” all day. (She still has a scrap of red yarn that I gave her one time.) The next morning we found her yarn and gave her a pair of chop sticks. She’s having a fun time now!

So, training for world peace at a young age!!


Dear Cynthia,

Please pardon my language. I am running out of yarn. (No, not "in general", as if that is possible, but for the Fana Cardigan...) I had an entire skein of Heilo left with which to knit the front bands and the neckband, and as I was working on the neckband, I began having the "I'm going to run out, I'm going to run out" thoughts. And so, I figured, since it is a neckband which is folded and stitched down, the inside won't really be seen too much, maybe I could use some of the extra white on the inside of the neckband. However, I don't like it this way. And so, I decided I would get rid of the white, and re-knit using the black. (See photo above for all remaining scraps - now, this is going to be a close call.) I decided that I've come this far on the thing, it's not the time right now to do something which I end up thinking looks really shoddy... There is a lesson here, which I learned from reading something on Wendy's site, and that lesson is that Dale of Norway patterns are chincy on the yarn requirements. Her recommendation is to purchase yarn for the next size up.
I asked my three-year-old if he wanted me to make him a sweater, and I was showing him some possiblities. He was very adament about wanting a sweater just like his brother's Fana, except with no buttons. Aaugh. I'm not excited about knitting the same pattern any time soon, but my boys would look very cute....maybe in a couple of months. Anyway, here is the sweater having *ALL* of the sleeves sewn on (seemed like four, but really only two). I still have to sew some of the facings down, and re-knit part of the neck band. The next time I show it to you, I hope it is completed, having buttons, and with my son modelling it. I can almost hear his words already: "But Mommy, it itches!"

In other news, there still is the sock. It's not big news, but small progress is still progress, right?

I hope that your great niece is doing well. I agree with your assessment about mothers in labor trumping works-in-progress. I wonder... I have a godson who has a birthday in July, and I'd like to make him a sweater. It seems like birthdays which aren't necessarily the original birthday should trump wips, too, yes?

I'm anxious to see your completed baby sweater!
Warm regards,
Laura (aka YarnThrower)