Sunday, July 30, 2006

Knitting with Broomsticks and Rope

Dear Cynthia,

I'm not *actually* knitting with broomsticks and rope, but it seems that way.

(By the way, thanks **so much** to everybody who commented about my Summer in Kansas! It is sooo nice to be able to share the "thrill of victory" with others, and I really appreciated your kind words!)

As quite a contrast to my shawl (lace weight yarn, size 5 needles), I'm now working on my own design for a felted bag (double strand of worsted weight, size 13 needles). I bought some yarn to use for this project, but then I thought I'd make a (slightly smaller) prototype version, first.....just to make sure that my calculations about what is going to happen when I shrink it in the washer are at least in the ball park (though now that I think about it, a swatch would have been MUCH quicker).....(but hey, if it turns out nicely, I'll have a hostess gift to take with me on a trip later this summer.....). And so, I've pulled out my bag of leftover worsted weight 100% feltable wool, and am sort of hap-hazardly putting the colors together as I go.... I'm also thinking (hoping?) that the colors will be somewhat muted once it is felted, but we'll see! I'll be sure to share the "before" and "after" photos with you! I'm roughly halfway done with the knitting, and expect it will all be completed in the next few days.....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blocking -- Everything it's cracked up to be!

Dear Cynthia,

After today, you won't have to hear me droning on and on about Summer in Kansas any more.

Here is a snap just prior to blocking -- distance from the neckline to the point in back is 27 inches, and there is plenty of room for it on the folded sheet.

Here is a snap as it is blocking -- distance from the neckline to the point in back is 36 inches, and it no longer fits completely on the folded sheet.
It grew about 33% by blocking it. That little "vee" shape dip on the neckline edge is a feature of the pattern, so that it sits nicely on the shoulders.

I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome (though, for the record, I don't see myself ever wearing it again with a daisy print dress and in the midst of the ugliest cabinets in the world).I keep thinking I want to make another patterned shawl **right away**, and I keep reminding myself that I have other deadlines looming, such as a felted bag pattern which I'm just starting to work up, a sweater for each of my boys for Christmas, and a Noni bag for my mom, also for Christmas..... Plus, I want to get going on level two of the Master Knitter program (which I haven't purchased yet), and the usual socks which are always hanging around...... Another shawl will have to wait, right???

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How the lace is going.......

Dear Laura:

First of all, congratulations on finishing the counting!! That's such a great place to be! And your shawl is gorgeous.....

I wish I could say the same.

There have been a few......issues.

I don't think I posted about this, but.....I carry the lace project in this zippered bag. I like to have it protected from any hazards when it is being transported. A while back, when I unzipped the bag to work on it, the yarn was caught in the zipper. I worked around and fiddled with it, and in the end, I cut the yarn, did a Russian join and moved on. After that I was careful to "wrap" the pattern around the project before I put it in the bag to keep it from the zipper.

Just last week, a little bit got caught again, but I was able to get it out without cutting. That evening, I got it out to show my brother that I had finally gotten past the part that was kickin' my behind on a regular basis, and discovered that I had snagged it, and there was a pulled piece of yarn about 5" long. (My brother observed that I had it coming for saying that the hard part was over!) I was able to carefully work the pull back into place and I moved on. ( I also got a plastic ziploc to put the lace in, and then THAT goes in the zippered bag. I learn eventually!)

Despite my confidence that it's all downhill from here, I decided to put in a lifeline and spread it out for a picture. My lifeline wasn't long enough to spread all the way, but this gives you an idea of the progress from the center flower. I love looking at the pictures - it's easier to see the actual pattern in the picture than just looking at the lace.

So, back on the needles and off we go. I did a pattern row at lunch, and then started the first of three plain rows. And got through a couple of pattern repeats when I noticed this. There is a column of circles, and I missed one. The one right BEFORE the lifeline. I carefully counted each repeat, but didn't notice that I'd skipped the circle.

*Sigh* I'm thinking of trying to fix it without going back. I'll let you know how it goes!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Late Update..........

Ta da! It wasn't too bad of a fix.....which is good, because I've discovered that I need the fix in all 7 repeats of the pattern......possibly knitters with my concentration level aren't cut out for lace, but I'm gonna keep going......

Monday, July 24, 2006

No More Counting

Dear Cynthia,

Well, I suppose there will be more counting again for other projects, but for Summer in Kansas, my counting days are done. (YAY!)

I finished all 890 rows of the knitted on border.

Then, I did the knitting and purling to pick up the stitches along the top edge. All that remains is to complete the "picot bind-off", which is another new technique (of many) I learned during this project, but which isn't too bad....and then, what we've all been waiting for.....The Blocking. I'll hopefully have pictures of that to show you on Wednesday!

Marie -- Thank you for your kind comments to the blog! I haven't picked out which colors I'm going to use for the Noni bag yet. If you think of any colors which you think would be particularly nice, I'm all ears! I'm also sort of watching Wendy's progress on her Noni bag (scroll down toward the end of her posting). She is adding feet to hers, a zipper, a lining, and handles of I'll be watching what she posts later today to see how it's going.

Time to finish this week's grocery list. Mondays are really busy days here, because I try to get most of my big "chores" completed on Mondays.....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

lace lace lace lace lace lace lace lace

Dear Cynthia,

I've been working on lace.

I can almost spot the light at the end of the tunnel on Summer in Kansas. I have completed 799 out of 890 knitted on border rows, and am heading toward the finish line. After that, a bunch of stitches are picked up along the top edge and some sort of picot edging is worked there which, I think?, is quite minimal compared to what the rest of this shawl has been. Famous last words, of course.

Back about a year ago, when I was thinking to myself, "I'd like to make a really nice lace shawl," I looked through a LOT of shawl patterns. I chose Summer in Kansas because:
  • It had a knitted on border, which is something I wanted to try.
  • It seemed rather large and would keep my arms warm on a cool night at the outdoor theater (though we're probably not going to get there this summer -- but there are other opportunities to wear the shawl)
  • I thought it was visually appealing.
  • It only had 160 rows for the main body.
I don't think it is working out to be as large as I thought it would be, because I went down one needle size, and I'm not using the optional mohair yarn the pattern mentions. However, and especially once it is blocked, arm coverage will be quite adequate. Also, 160 rows for the main body might not seem like much, but when a row has over 400 stitches in it, that IS a consideration..... I'm a little less naive about lace now than I once was.....

In any case, the criteria for the NEXT shawl I make will be:
  • No knitted on border. There are many pretty patterns which don't have one, and now I know how to do that already.
  • Possibly a slightly heavier gauge yarn for added warmth and size -- I'm thinking for walks in fall.
  • Something visually appealing.
I was seriously thinking about the Fiber Trends Leaf Lace shawl which I showed a post or two ago, but now I'm thinking about Kiri. The person who designed Kiri indicated that she made it in about 24 hours!!!! I am thinking that I would have to multiply that number by two, and switch to the next higher 48 days (which would still be a lot less time than I've spent on Summer in Kansas). In any case, I'd try to keep track of my knitting time, just to see how lace-challenged I am compared to the experts.....

In other lace news, the Foulard from the Morehouse Merino book is coming right along, too. It starts at one corner, increases every row until there are lots of stitches on the needles, then starts decreasing. I've just passed the part where it starts decreasing -- see the little "corners" at the sides?

We have a long car ride later today..... You all know what that means!! Knitting progress!! :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Recognized in Public

Dear Cynthia,

I **finally** got myself over to my LYS, Lakeside Fibers, this past Sunday so that I could spend the nice $25.00 gift certificate which my recent houseguests sent to me out of appreciation for staying at my house. I found myself some nice Cascade yarn to make a felted bag which I am designing....but also, a few weeks ago this same LYS sent out a newsletter to let everybody know that they are now carrying patterns for Noni bags...and ever since then, I've been wanting to check them out. And so, check them out I did, right through to the cash register.

Actually, I only bought one Noni pattern, shown here. I wanted the flower pattern, and it is sold separately for $5.50. But, I also thought these two bags were cute, and the flower pattern was included, all for $8.00, so that is what I did. Here is the bag on the front of the pattern:....and here is the bag on the back of the pattern.

I'm going to make one of the little ruffled bags for my mom for Christmas this year. I think it is okay to tell you this, because my mom doesn't read this here little blog.

I must tell you, however, that THE most amazing part of this story is that, while I was paying with my $25.00 gift certificate, the person whom I gave the money to said, "You're YarnThrower, aren't you?"...or something like that. I was so dumbfounded that it is all just a blur, so details might be sketchy. I asked her how she knew, and she said that she had stumbled on our site by accident one day, and at some point she saw the posting in which I showed the gift certificate, and she recognized the writing on the gift certificate to be hers, and MY MOM had mentioned something about the blog to her when purchasing the gift certificate via phone -- yes, my same mom who doesn't actually READ the blog is PROMOTING the blog, so that's definitely worth something...... Anyway, I was sooo caught off guard that I didn't know what to say, or how to act, or whether or not I should give her a knitted dishcloth for being the first non-virtual person to address me as "YarnThrower"...... What would you have done? I think I mumbled something about obscurity and thank you very much, and I walked away feeling all weird. Anyway.....

In other news, a friend of our family gave me some knit fabric having printed bugs on it, so I'm trying to sew a shirt for each of the boys using it, adding some black ribbing for the neckbands. Here is the first shirt. Can you guess what is missing?

And the Summer in Kansas Shawl had a bad day yesterday. Three stitches slipped right off the needle and got lost about four rows below..... After first just grabbing them with a needle to contain the damage, I ended up having to un-knit seven rows and dink around with it for an hour or once fixed, I decided to work on other things yesterday and am back on track today. Also, after not putting in a lifeline for something like 500 rows, I thought it was time for another one. It could have been really ugly.....

We've been having cable outages this week, so hopefully when I click "Publish", this will work!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Back to normal

Dear Cynthia,

Congrats on a very successful shower and your adorable little baby booties! Having everything set up half an hour before festivities begin is a skill I've never mastered. (What's your secret?) At our house, a party isn't a party unless I greet the first guest to arrive with my cleaning gloves on and a toilet brush in my hand.

We all survived the birthday party for my ds who turned six years old (which I still can't believe)! Since the day he was born, I've been hearing or reading some of the media, most doctors, and many books all saying to "limit sugar", give him only one serving of juice per day, provide healthy snacks and balanced meals, you get the picture. All of that is countered by what has generally been the reality of kids constantly having opportunities to get food which is not nutritious. The people who advertise all of the "juice boxes", and many other foods which are made with "real juice" try to lead us to believe that "more is better" in the juice department, and it's not really sugar if it is in "juice". Then there are the "special holidays", such as halloween (which I don't consider a holiday, but which is "celebrated" none-the-less), Christmas, Easter, birthday parties, play groups, and any number of other venues which I can't think of right now, and pretty soon the opportunites for kids to accumulate more and more sugar and fat escalate. This has been a lot of verbiage for me to simply say that what is best for my children has not been the easiest road to follow, and though my children have plenty 'o sweets, I often feel like a curmudgeon denying happiness by trying to limit some of the excess.

Anyway, I'm almost getting to the point of this. I have nothing inherently against the little treat bags given away at little kids' birthday parties these days, but I decided that I needed to try to support healthier choices for kids, and not spend money on sweets and junkie little toys to include. So for this party, I spent the same money on 3-packs of Hanes tee-shirts, two buckets of foamie stickers from the craft store (one having all letters in it, the other sea creatures), and six bottles of "spray on" fabric paint from the same craft store (Michaels). The kids each got an envelope containing the letters for his/her name, and a shirt which had a flattened grocery bag inside of it. (I first put each shirt on a large plastic hanger. Then, I put the grocery bag inside the shirt having the opening edges down, so that the bottom fold of the grocery bag could sort of "hang" off of the hanger, so it stayed put inside the shirt.) Then the kids sat down and got to work, sticking their letters to the shirt, and adding the sea creature stickers. Once they were happy with their designs, the kids decided what colors they wanted their shirts to be painted, and each kid watched and directed as a grown up sprayed paint onto his/her shirt. I originally thought the kids would be able to handle the paint, but after a couple of the kids almost squirt it into my eye and on their clothes, I decided it was just better if the kids said what to paint where, and the adults just followed the directions. Anyway, the stickers were removed at the end of the party, after the shirts were dry, leaving behind white shapes and letters. And, they turned out great! A big hit with the kids and their parents, and presto -- the only sugar the kids got from me was in the birthday cake (water was the featured beverage, since we were outside in the heat wave that day).

In knitting news, 715 out of 890 border rows complete on Summer in Kansas. I had thoughts about really pushing myself to finish it this week to wear it for an event this coming Sunday night, but then I remembered about the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and playing with children that all must happen this week, too, so I'm still pushing for an August 4th finish..... But a girl can I've been contemplating the Leaf Lace Shawl from Fiber Trends, out of a heavier, hand-painted yarn :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)
P.S. My next post will have some very, very exciting news about the trip I took to the yarn store this past Sunday!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Baby Bootie Bounty......

Dear Laura:

I hope that your birthday party was a smashing success! The baby shower for my niece went really well - I was pleased. I peaked a little early with the preparations. The shower started at 3:30, and at 3:00 I sat down to wait for guests to start arriving. That's the way I like things to go!

Here is a picture of the result of the "bootie knitting frenzy!" 3 pairs, all ready to be wrapped as prizes. The top pair was from a pattern I got from Knitting to Go which was a gift from my good friend Lauren at Knitting at Lunch.

The other two pair are from a pattern that I discovered on the "Free Patterns" site. (Hmm, wonder how I knew about that!?!) I love this pattern! I knit one bootie looking at the pattern, and the next 3 from memory. I love a pattern that makes that kind of sense! And actually, the gauge of my yarn on the last pair was bigger than the first pair, so I reduced the pattern by approx 1/3...and it worked out great!

I had a great trip to St. Louis - lots of driving in 2 days, but that's how I finished the booties, so that was fine. Besides the baseball game, I enjoyed a visit with Ross, who sends his greetings. I skipped out of town just before it got REALLY hot!

Now I am back at work on the shawl. I've managed 8 rows in the last 24 hours - at 476 per row, that's not bad! I'm on row 77 of 190 - but remember that I'm not planning to make it the full width of 60". I think I might be done somewhere around row 124....but I'm not nuts enough to count up how many stitches per row it will be at that point!! (I only calculated my current stitches per row so that I could report it to you!)

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

BIND-OFF (Amazing Lace Challenge #4)

If I bound-off my Summer in Kansas lace shawl right now (at row 689 out of 890 "knitted on border" rows), it could be used as a designer lampshade.

I would sell it for no less than a thousand dollars (possibly more, as I have a bit of time and frustration tied up in this) and it would look very similar to this photo, except it wouldn't have the needle sticking out the side of it like a curling iron hanging tangled in somebody's hair.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Baby Shower Central!

Dear Laura:
I had to laugh when you titled your last post, "Party Central." I've been refering to my place as "Baby Shower Central!"

One of my nieces is due to have her first baby on August 6, and so my sil's and I are giving her a baby shower this Sunday. At my house. Did I mention that I'm leaving today for St. Louis???

Early in the spring, I agreed to drive one of my friends to St. Louis for a conference (in exchange for gas money and a baseball ticket!). I planned on staying with Ross for 2 nights and then come home Sunday evening. However, when we started planning the shower it turned out that this Sunday was the only date that would work. So, I'm driving down today, going to a ballgame, having breakfast with Ross tomorrow and then driving back home to finish preparing for the shower!

I've worked really hard over the last week, getting as much done ahead as possible, so I'm really not concerned. (I even washed windows! A little last minute-sweeping and furniture arrangement, make little sausage appetizers and punch and we should be good to go.

And of course....knitting! I'm making booties for the prizes. I have 2 pair done, and the yarn for 2-3 more in my bag. I have a 6-hour drive down there and a ballgame, that's plenty of time for booties! Heck, I may even knit a hat or two by Sunday!! ;)

Sorry I don't have any pictures yet....I hope to post the whole batch when I get home.......

Have a happy party!!

Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Party Central

Dear Cynthia,

I am so thankful for this blog, and for the people who responded to my plea for help regarding the sun screen issue. After the screaming incident on Monday, we had a rain day on Tuesday, so a break from all sun screen on that day, which allowed a lot of healing. Then, yesterday, before swimming lessons, we ran to the Lands End section of Sears and found SPF 40 swim shirts for the boys to wear, so presto, no sun screen required on the areas which had been most sensitive -- namely, their chests and backs. I'm still going to check around at some of the places recommended in the comments in order to find less chemical-filled sunscreens, because even using the baby sun screen, my fore arms are starting to itch like crazy. I did find some for $26 per three ounces, but I think I will do some more comparison shopping before I resign myself to paying that much -- That much money could buy enough yarn for a shawl!!

Anyway, my five year old is turning six, and we are having his first, ever, birthday party in which he may invite friends over. It is this Saturday, so because I have been knitting so much (but am not showing progress of it here today -- picture everything I'm working on as you've already seen it, only a few inches longer, and you'll be up to speed), it means I really have to pull some things together for the party before Saturday, which means today and tomorrow. The picture shows some burlap and some rejected crummy old white tee-shirts which my husband placed in the rag pile. I'm going to sew this stuff into "bases" (as in first, second, third, and home plate, the latter of which my son informed me must be shaped like an upside down house) for kick ball, which my son just loves. It is a party at the park, because I think that's where kids should be in their summer free time! We will play kick ball, paint tee-shirts, and eat pizza and cake. They are predicting temperatures of 93 degrees for that I must buy more bottled water for the party..... Anyway, time to get things moving here today.....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cheaper than Flying

Dear Cynthia,

There was a pancake breakfast / fly-in at the local airport over the weekend, and we went to it. Very fun! Lots of tables set up in a nice clean hangar, and good food. Plus, a lot more airplane traffic in and out of our little airport than we've ever seen, and the little 2-seater and 4-seater planes were literally taxi-ing around us as we wandered around the airplane parking lot. Many of the planes were built from "kits". I asked one man there how long it takes to assemble an airplane kit. He told me "about five years, if you really work at it." I could probably say the same thing about certain shawls or sweaters, except I'd be talking about a much lower price tag. In any case, I can see what would be so addicting and exhilarating about flying. The passion of many of the people there, the amount of knowledge that some of the people there had, etc... -- It all reminded me a lot of knitting...

I replaced my broken set of #1 dpn's and made a start on my Elite Feet Traveling Companion Socks. This is Blackberry Ridge Mer-Made in the variegated pink colorway. The pattern utilizes cables and broken ribs. It is more work than I typically devote to a sock, but fun for a change.

Also, more progress on my shawl. One could say that I "turned the corner", because, actually, I worked the "knitted on border" around the corner and started up the other side. There are four rows of border per every "live stitch" in the corner section, compared to only two rows of border per every "live stitch" on the sides. This helps it to fill in the corner area better. In order to get this far, I finished up my first Excel "check off sheet", and started the second one. For anybody keeping score, I've completed 521out of 890 border rows. Somehow I'm more motivated now that I'm heading toward the finish line. Finishing by August 4th is still within reach.

We're in our last week of swimming lessons for the summer. It's a good thing, too, because my three-year-old son is having a bad reaction to sun screen. I tried switching to a more baby-friendly brand today, but his skin is so sensitive that even that seemed to really bother him (which I could tell because he was screaming for about a minute after I put some on his chest). If you or anybody has first-hand experience with this issue, I'm all ears! Another lady at the pool thinks that once his skin clears up from this episode, the baby-friendly sun screen should be okay..... I hope that's the case! In the meantime, tomorrow he'll probably wear a tee-shirt in the pool...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)
P.S. I've updated the dishrag count on the side bar. Will this pound of Kitchen Cotton never end?

The part that slapped me around.....

Dear Laura:

Yay! I finished the center flower of the lace shawl...the part that kept kickin' my butt. I just couldn't seem to get a handle on the "big picture." I put a lifeline at one point, and got within 2 rounds of finishing the medallion, and discovered a problem just after my lifeline, so I ripped back about 10 rounds....and picked up the lifeline stitches, and still couldn't make it work. Turned out that there was a mistake BEFORE the lifeline, so I had to go back a few extra rows. Stitch by stitch. More fun than I can express, since at this point each round is 240 stitches....

But we're past that now. I finished the center, double checked it, put in a new lifeline and laid it out for a picture. TaDa!!

Now I'm on the feather and fan part of the pattern. (Huge sigh of relief) There is a sense of "pattern." It's semi-memorizable. And after each pattern row is 3 rows of stockinette!!! YAY!!

I'm hosting a baby shower for my niece next Sunday, but will be out of town on Fri/Sat, so I spent the weekend doing everything I could think of ahead. All of the bugs that crawl across my carpet and die at the baseboards have been swept up, which is a step. However, as usual, as soon as I put the sweeper away, I noticed a bug crawling across the carpet. I tried to warn it - "No, no! Stay away from the baseboards! They're a death-trap!" but it didn't seem to be deterred. Oh well. I tried!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Easy problems

Dear Cynthia,

I might have mentioned that my mom and a friend of hers stayed here for a few days last week because they were attending a handbell workshop in the area. In any case, a few days ago they surprised me with a letter in the mail having a "Lakeside Fibers" return address, and guess what was inside?!! It was a very nice, very generous, thank you gift :-)

In other news, I started a pair of socks last night, just to get a break from the whole dishcloth thing and the lace thing. On row #2 of the sock, I broke a size 1 needle. I can't complain, because I think it is the first needle I've ever broken in half? It was an old, old dpn set that was in my grandma's stash. Now I **have** to go to the yarn store today, because I have no other size 1 dpn's. This is one "problem" which I think can can really take "in stride" :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Managing Multiple Priorities

Dear Cynthia,

True to our "pact" to each complete the "finishing" of a sweater by Monday night, I sewed together the "Big A" sweater and it is ready for "game time" (birthday party for recipient this next weekend). Here it is being worn by an almost-six-year-old. The recipient is only four, but I always try to err on the side of "way too big" for kids.....

I bought this wonderful yarn for half price, which made it affordable for me - otherwise I never would have even considered this alpaca blend for a kids' sweater. While seaming it together, I was reminded of the words of one of my former knitting instructors about nice yarn yielding better results than crap yarn, particularly noticeable in the finishing. Here is a close-up shot of the side seam. I used mattress stitch, even through the ribbing, and the seam is barely detectable. As my knitting instructor told her students, it has little to do with skills as a knitter and a lot to do with the quality of the yarn. I started writing out the pattern for this sweater, and should have it posted in another week or two.....

My response to your question, "Why do we knit lace" (in the context of the difficulties we seem to be having with it) is, "I don't know." And, I find it horrifying that yesterday I found myself looking through magazines trying to find my next shawl project. I'm trying to put the brakes on that right now! Current status for Summer in Kansas is 331 out of 890 knitted-on-border rows completed. I've been achieving 20 rows per day, so I should meet my August 4th deadline. It seems like it is really taking a long time, and it has been hard for me to stay with it, but I'm really trying to be disciplined about it.

Finally, here at dishcloth central I am finishing up my 9th dishcloth from the original pound of Kitchen Cotton, and here is what is left of the yarn. (Updated counts are in the side bar in my finished objects section.) And so, I have a winner to announce in the "Guess how many dishcloths may be made out of one pound of Kitchen Cotton" contest. Lauren guessed ten, and no other responders guessed anything higher than that, so Lauren, please send me your snail mail address (feel free to use the brand new "e-mail yarnthrower" link on the side bar, which Cynthia installed over the weekend to make our addresses more accessible -- Thank you Cynthia!) and let me know if you'd prefer your dishcloth to be "Grandma's favorite" or of the pattern on the yarn package.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Yes, by the way, I did finish by Monday evening!

Dear Laura:

In fact, I finished before I went to bed on Sunday night! This is a really fast knit. When we chatted on Sunday, I had only the left front and 1/2 of the back to knit. Sewing up took longer than expected, and then there was the finish ribbing. I took the picture this morning, and it is blocking even now.
So, when we left off the Convergence report, I was once again wandering the vendor tables. I was searching for Julie, and when I found her, we decided to head for the area where there was a knitting & spinning area. We stopped by a booth that had materials for Japanese weaving, The Braidershand. They had a small starter kit....

Despite the chant in my head "I need another hobby like I need a hole in my head...." I became intrigued and....well....I bought the 6" disk and some E-Z-Bobs and some threads to weave. I don't really know why.....but I did.

After I started looking at the weaving threads more closely, I noticed that it really is THREAD and I thought I should have something less fine to start out with. As I sat thinking about it, something in my head clicked, and I remember seeing "mini-skiens" of silk in a fingering weight. So one last mad dash through the vendors, while the announcement that the exhibit was closing...and I picked up these mini-skeins to start out with. (Reminded me of the Stitches we went to, and I came out of my top-down sweater class needing the perfect yarn to make my class project into a sweater for my niece - remember?)

So, I haven't started yet.....but I have the stuff.

I did spend time today on the lace shawl. I had moved my lifeline last week, and made about 8 rows of progress. (Let's see, each row is 8 repeats of a 30-32 stitch pattern....that's....a bunch of stitches per row, and it's only about 12" around....) So last night, I noticed a problem about 7 rows back, and after sleeping on it, decided I was going to have to go back to the lifeline. (Big Hole) I picked up again at the life line, and kept running into problems in several of the pattern repeats. Eventually I determined that there were problems BEFORE the life line. So, I am unhappily tinking back a few more rows. Remind me again why we are knitting lace??

Do you have your sweater sewn together??

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, July 03, 2006


Dear Laura:

On Saturday morning, I boarded a bus bright and early for a day trip to Convergence 2006! It is a HUGE bi-annual event, much like Stitches-on-Steroids, with the focus on handweaving and spinning, although there is also knitting and crochet. The Fort Wayne-area Spinning Guild, Flax and Fleecers sponsored the bus to Grand Rapids, and we had a full bus!

We made good time to Grand Rapids, and arrived just as the vendor area was opening for the day. The picture is just a general idea of the space - it was, I think, even larger than the Marketplace at you may well imagine how overwhelming it was! I did an "opening round" walk just to get an idea of where I wanted to spend more time, then sat down for a knitting break.

I was glad I made the first scouting foray - once I had given it the once-over, it was much more managable, since there was so much that dealt with weaving and spinning. My strategy for the day was to not purchase anything that is available locally and to focus on items that I've been searching for. However, since the focus of the exhibition was weaving, I could browse with much less temptation than usual. There was also more 'finished work" available than I am used to. Very beautifully woven garment and dyed textiles - there was even a booth of 18k gold jewelry that had been woven on a loom. (I'm assuming it was a smaller loom that the big ones we automatically picture in our minds!)

On my second trip around, I stopped at a booth which featured hand-dyed yarn and roving. Lisa Souza Dyeworks is right up my color alley! I fell in love with this sock yarn (because we all know that I desparately need more sock yarn!!) and so it rode home with me..... It was by no means the only colorway that I loved, but at that point, I still had some reasonable amount of sanity to work with.

I also stopped at a table that offered free samples of angora fiber from German Angora Rabbits. (I'll add a link when I find the paper....) I've heard that it's wicked-hard to spin angora because it is so light, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Someday.

After another knitting break, I headed off to the exhibits. That ended up being my favorite part of the day. It's like going to a great art museum, but all of the pieces are fiber art. The items ranged from traditional weaving to weaving with a "twist" and then took off from there. On piece that I really enjoyed was a sweater, knickers and socks that were crocheted from wire. It was a large mesh-fabric, but the wire allowed it to be shaped as if it was around a person. Then they hung upside down, sweater on the bottom, socks on the top, so that you had the impression that an invisible person was diving. My description in no-way does it justice - but I really enjoyed it.

Several pieces left me scratching my head, but then I always think that was the effect the artist was going for! There was also a section of garments. Most of them were not really something that you would wear. I don't just mean that someone with my life wouldn't wear them, rather that they really are meant for display and would be worn in a fashion show or on exhibit like this. My favorites were ones that I could see someone actually wearing. There was a "Button Dress" that had a classic shape - a simple dress covered in a tulle fabric. It had buttons spaced on the tulle, some on top of, some below so that some were shiny and some were matte. Really random, but very beautiful.

I took another knitting break (note to self: Wear sneakers, not sandals to any "walk-all-day" event!)and then I wandered the vendors again. (This is where I lost all semblance of sanity. We'll save this for tomorrow...)

But the bus trip and knitting breaks were productive! On the ride up and during all of the knitting breaks, I worked on the sleeves of this baby bolero from One Skein. However, since I'm using a cotton yarn, by time I had finished the sleeves, my hands were crying for mercy, so I switched to my current sock project. I managed a few inches of cuff, turned the heel, and finished the gusset decreases. It was a productive trip!

So. I've been to Convergence....

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

POETRY (Amazing Lace Challenge #3)

Ode to Summer in Kansas

(first, the rhyming part)

My Summer in Kansas,
Taped on the window glass...
If there's one thing you do well,
It's that you can really kick my...

...brain into high gear,
Counting all the stitches.
K2tog's and SSK's,
And other sons-of-...

have distracted me as I knit.
And sometimes when this happens,
You'll hear me screaming...rats!

(now, the free-form part)

Oh, my dear Summer in Kansas, with your 160 main body rows, and your 890 knitted-on-border rows (of which I have completed only 261), and your picked up stitches along the top edge (which I am too afraid to count)...

My dear, dear Summer in Kansas, let us please complete this journey together before my new deadline of August 4th...

And, my dear, dear, dear shawl, please bloom when you are blocked so that I will not cry whenever I look at you in the pile with all the other car-washing rags.