Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SURPRISE ! (Knitty, that is...)

Dear Cynthia,

Introducing Elbac scarves. (Elbac = the reverse of "cable".....) These are two different cable scarves which are completely reversible.

Imagine my SURPRISE and joy when I learned that my Knitty submission was "gonna make it after all" (my apologies to Mary Tyler Moore). (Photo by DH.)These are scarves which look nice on any body. (Photo by Elizabeth Morrison.)
See what I mean?

I had been thinking about making a scarf for my dad, and I loved the look of all of the scarves people were making which had cables running lengthwise on them. As a knitter, I would make sure that the cables were showing nicely every time I wore such a scarf, but my dad? Probably not. So, I started reading and thinking about ways to get a similar look which was reversible. (Now I'd better get busy on a scarf for Dad, because I don't think pink and aqua are his favorite colors.....)

Warmest regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ode to Intarsia, or, how I spent my first year as a blogger

Dear Cynthia,

Yesterday marked one year since I made my first ever post to this here blog. (And, the day before that was one year since *your* first ever post to this here blog, also known as our "blogiversary".) Congratulations! There are many restaurants which haven't made it this long, and which have lost far more money than us, even including our yarn expenditures...

Anyway, looking back over the year, it seems I've made **five** sweaters having intarsia. It started with the "Big A" sweater for my godson's birthday in July, and I'm just finishing up my "Murphy" (which, I swear, really does look better in person.....) It seems only fitting to mark this occasion with a haiku. I call it, "Ode to Intarsia". It goes like this:

knitting intarsia
yarn gets tangled every row
yet I like the look

(Now I hope it is clear to everybody why my background is in science and *not* literature.....)

Anyway, I've loved having this blog, and the people (real and virtual, though really, you're all real!) I've "met" because of it!! Thanks for reading!

Speaking of people I've met through this blog.....I went to Elizabeth's knitting group this past Saturday morning -- three other bloggers and me. What fun! Elizabeth was wearing a gorgeous sweater which she knit using one of Alice Starmore's motifs. Really, so very impressive. As we all were walking out of the coffee shop to leave, a woman opened her car door, stood up, and shouted out to Elizabeth,"Did you knit that Starmore design? I've made two of those sweaters!" I'm taking this as a sign that knitters are, indeed, slowly taking over the world -- because they're starting to pop up everywhere! That can't be a bad thing.....

Well, time to get going on the rest of my day.
Warmest regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ha! I have a post!

Dear Laura:

Yes, I know. You thought I had been given a "Beach Knitting Around the World" trip for my birthday, and would not be heard from until all the wool had been knitted into little hats with grains of sand in the brim and paper umbrellas instead of pom-poms on top. (It was what I was hoping for....)

Nope. That's not it. Just had a weirdly busy week, but that's the way it goes! (Maybe next year....)
I did take a road trip to Indianapolis last Saturday, so I guess there has been travel - and there was knitting included, so it's kind of the same. (NOT!) Lora and I drove down, and our first stop was the Mass Ave Knit Shop. This place is incredible - there is TONS of yarn there. It is actually one of the larger shops that I've been in. They have an enormous selection of yarns. Lora was looking for (and found!) some Crystal Palace Chenille yarn to make some face clothes. She also bought some lovely green Cascade 220 to make a scarf with.

This yarn store has a huge room with 4 or 5 big tables in the middle for classes. Around the perimeter of the room, there are tables full of sale yarn. Yes. Yarn Heaven. An entire sale ROOM! They had some great stuff there, I was tempted by some Rowan Denim, and several other yarns, but I was strong. (Tip: When going on a trip where there will be yarn, only bring enough money to pay for food. Then you can choose - yarn or food? And if you choose yarn, you're at least limited to your food money and can't buy 10 skeins of that $15 yarn, even if you REALLY want to!)

My goal on the shopping trip was actually house-related. I had been collecting scrip (and gift cards) and saving to buy 2 bar-stools for the counter in the kitchen. I'd gotten 2/3 of the way there, and so I started to ask for gift-cards for Christmas. Then I sat down and looked at the room. I realized that I had lived there without the bar stools for 2 years, and I really didn't want them anymore. I don't think they would really get used very often, and they would block the traffic flow there. So, I decided to stop the collection and pick up some other things that I needed.

I found these really great sheets - they have just the right color for my bedroom.
I love the color in my bedroom/bathroom, but it can be tricky to find that shade in linens. I also picked up a vegetable steamer pan - mine had fallen apart some time ago, and a few other small items. Including 2 of these dish towels.
I can't resist the cherry vintage-look!
I knitted up the scarf for the store sample using the seven-color yarn that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. I really liked it - just a garter-stitch scarf with a ruffle on each end on a 7mm needle. The yarn itself is kind of a knitted tube, and I had to be careful not to snag it with the needle tip, but it went really quickly. I dropped the scarf off at Cass Street today - Sandy really liked it, so that's worked out well! Except for being a bad blogger, I forgot to get any pictures!! (Chalk it up to old age - I'm 28 now, you know!)
I did make this hat for a co-worker. Lauren knitted up a pair of Fetching, so I used some of her yarn to do a "fetching" brim, and then finished the hat in 4x1 ribbing, using the Dream Colors yarn that we got.
Angela is working on a matching scarf, then we'll give her the set.
I don't have any progress on the lady-bug sweater sleeves, and very little on the pink/brown blanket. But I have this weekend yet before the end of the month, so there is hope!

I'll try to post more this weekend, including February knitting goals. I'm going to leave you with this picture of my computer monitor at work. Cubicles get decorated for birthdays around here. They were quite creative tho (yo! Lauren!) and they HID the decorations in my drawers, under my keyboard, under my cup..... I loved the foam-flower-stickers tho, so as I discover them, I've been moving them to my monitor.

I'm told that I have not yet discovered them all!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All stockinette, all the time

Dear Cynthia (aka Birthday Girl -- Hey, Happy Birthday!!),

I have a few minutes to put a little post together, thanks to the magic of the library and the Scooby-Doo DVD my four year old found there today. The boys were playing the game Clue with dh last week, and dh made a comment to my six year old that he might want to enlist the help of Scooby-Doo in order to figure out who dunnit. I couldn't have been prouder when my six year old told dh that he didn't want Scooby-Doo's help; Velma is the one who figures everything out, so he wanted Velma on his team.

I've made some progress on the Murphy sweater. Here's the back and most of a sleeve.It's almost all stockinette, all the time. (The colors actually look better, so when the thing is done, I'll try to get some snap shots in real daylight.) Though I really enjoy the monotony of the stockinette thing most of the time because it's simple to carry around to the library, knit in front of the tv or during a piano lesson when others in the room are counting out loud, knit while I'm reading books with the boys, etc...I was getting a little bit weary of it...

...so I started a Leaf Lace Shawl using the hand painted yarn from the three quarters of a sweater I just ripped out. This yarn loves being a shawl so much more than it was loving the whole sweater thing. And, after the trials of my lace weight Summer in Kansas last year (recall the beginning...and several crises in the middle, etc., though it did have a happy ending (click on link in sidebar for proof - I still can't believe it myself, as it was certainly not without *major* frustration), using this thicker merino yarn, which is labelled as something between DK and Sport weight, and this pattern, I'm having a great time! I cast on the first two stitches for it on Saturday and I have almost half of the rows already knit (though, in shawl math, it means I am only one quarter of the way done). I wanted a really big shawl, and something I could throw on to take a walk around the neighborhood wearing normal mommy clothes. (I actually *have* worn Summer in Kansas twice -- once to go out to dinner and a concert when dh and I were celebrating ten years of wedded bliss, and once at a dinner thingy for dh's work -- though it is not the type of shawl to wear with birkenstocks and blue jeans when walking atop mulch next to a pond.)

Anyway, things here are a little bit off kilter, because dh has been out of town for work since Saturday afternoon. Of course, it snowed six to eight inches on Sunday, which was beautiful, even knowing that our snow blower, which I don't know how to use, has a flat tire....I generally shovel the stuff, anyway...but it's a little bit different when I'm solely responsible for getting it done. Things are going well, though, and dinners are down graded somewhat since the kids wouldn't appreciate Penne in Cream Sauce with Sausage even if I made it for them, so dinner time is a little bit easier....though I think everybody will breathe a sigh of relief when dh returns in two days.....

I went to Lakeside Fibers today (let's hear it for "double punch day"), and you'd be proud of me. I think I broke a record, which, for me, isn't saying a whole lot, but as a preview, I'll just tell you that I left the place with two full bags...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Big Foot

Dear Cynthia,

Your excursion to Cass Street Depot sounds like so much fun! I really do miss going there. We have so many nice yarn stores here, so I can't really complain, but the Fair Isle class I took at Cass Street Depot revolutionized the way I did colorwork, and helped me become a real "KNITTER". I'll always have fond memories of my history there. Anyway, I was not at all surprised that you were able to fill a bag :-)

My big L "Perfect Sweater" is dry, so I wore it today, and probably tomorrow, and maybe the next day, etc.... I really like it. It suits my needs for casual and comfy clothes, without looking too dumpy. And this sweater is warm and fitted, nothing fussy about it. I'm sure I'll make this same pattern again, though probably the vee-neck version, and probably no "L" on the front...

I seem to be on some kind of weird "simple stockinette with intarsia" kick lately, so when I started to think about what I should make for dh for Valentines' Day, I was relieved that what appealed most to me were the felted moccasins from Felted Knits (by Bev Galeskas). No intarsia, some stockinette... This pattern has many similarities to her felted clogs pattern. The double sole in particular is constructed much the same way. And, the moccasins are another very clever pattern. Here is the first one, not yet felted, complete except for knitting the second sole and sewing the bottom closed. (My reading glasses shown for "scale". When all is shrunk, this should fit a men's size 10 foot.) The white waste yarn goes inside the casing formed around the top/back of the slipper. It will keep this area from felting closed. Once felted, some leather cording, or a thick black shoelace, may be pulled through the casing by attaching it to the white waste yarn, and then pulling on the waste yarn to thread the cording through the casing. See?! Clever!

Well, it's *almost* time to think about dinner, which means that it *is* time to clean the kitchen.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Yarn Expedition......

Dear Laura:

Yesterday was an exciting lunch - we took a trip to
Cass Street Depot for YARN! (tee hee!) Knitting at Lunch and Crocheting at My Own Pace and I had a grand time feeling up all the yarn!

I know this will surprise you....but I walked out with the biggest bag. Sshhhhhh....

Here's the haul:

Now, don't freak out or anything, it's not quite as bad as it looks.

First of all, the front ball of yarn is Dream Colors - a hand-painted worsted-weight that is YUMMY merino. This is to make a hat for a co-worker who had to have her dog put down this week. It's really hard for her, and we wanted to do something to bring her some comfort. (Angela is making a scarf, and Lauren some fetching - so she'll have a matching set.)

The brightest ball on the left was the only ball they had of this baby yarn. I have a ball or two in my stash, and wanted to be sure I had enough for Knitting for Bubba. Pfft - it's just one ball!

In the back is two balls of a CHUNKY-ON-STEROIDS yarn from Schoeller & Stahl. I think it's actually called "Big Ball." I saw the cutest baby blanket in this yarn - it's basically the diagonal dishcloth pattern knit on with this huge yarn on huge needles. One of the gals at Knitting Guild said she made several and it only takes an hour or so to make one! These last two balls in the store were in the SALE BIN. They weren't marked, but Sandy gave them to me for $15 each. I looked online, and MFRP is $28 each, so I was tickled with the price!

So see? Not so very irresponsible. And everything is for a current project - nothing for "stash enhancement." What? Oh, the other three balls of yarn? Nicely colored? That is a new yarn called "Seven." It has....seven colors per ball. Hence the name. It's one of those yarns that looks like it's a knitted tube. A fine merino - very soft. I was looking at it, and Sandy mentioned that she'd been meaning to knit a scarf for a store sample and just hadn't gotten to it. I laughed and said, "Want me to do it for you?" She said yes!!! I get to knit this yarn and see how it feels and what it looks like.......FOR FREE!!! And you know that as a process knitter, that's the part I care about!

I can't wait! I'm going to get to it this weekend.

So, that's the story of the Yarn Expedition!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sorry Lauren, this one's mine...

Dear Cynthia,

I finished the "L" sweater, also known as "The Perfect Sweater", though I did make several revisions to the pattern. I went with rolled lower sleeve edges, I purposely selected a looser gauge than the pattern called for (so ended up having to do some of my own "math"), I knit the sleeves in the round instead of flat to avoid a couple of seams, I put in some extra rows for a deeper roll at the neckline....I think that's it. Anyway, I can't wait to wear this sweater. It's blocking now, but I love the fit and will show you what it looks like when I'm wearing it -- hopefully it will be dry by Friday. I have positioned it right next to a heater duct so that the air movement will speed up the drying process. Please tell Lauren that she can make her own "L" sweater. :-) I think this particular pattern would even work very well for her first ever sweater! Sewing in the sleeves is always my least favorite activity, and this sweater has "set in" sleeves, so though it's a little bit of effort, I think it's worth it for the fit.

I love the way the sleeve of your Dale sweater is starting out. That is going to be one adorable sweater when it is done! Your work looks beautiful so far!

I bought some yarn, and it is for a gift, so I'm still living up to my commitment to work from my stash (except for gifts and a couple of other exceptions I mentioned in a previous post). I'm going to make dh some felted moccasins from the Bev Galeskas book Felted Knits, and will use some gray Patons Classic Wool Merino. I'll try to find some gray slipper bottoms for them, once they are felted and I know exactly how long the bottoms of them are. Progress as it happens...

There still is a covering of snow on the ground, and I love it! It's very cold (less than zero at the bus stop this morning), but what can I say. This seems normal to me, and I'm comforted by it (as long as I have my nice warm house to live in, that is).

I'd better tackle today's "to-do" list.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)
P.S. You may have noticed that I started a "how-to" section in the side-bar, which will have things like how to install different types of zippers, how to line felted bags, etc.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bits and knits......

Dear Laura:

Wow - snow! That looks like so much fun.....much more fun than days and days of rain, which is what we have had. The ground around the house is so saturated with water that I feel the house may slide down into the creek! We were fortunate enough to miss the freezing rain, so I won't complain too much.

My nephew-in-law inquired lately about the status of his vest that I began knitting last year. (It was my Knitting Olympic project that has languished...) I replied that there hadn't been ice for ice-fishing since I cast on, and that perhaps it would be best if I frogged it, in case the two things were related! Not really....

We had the first meeting of a new knitting group at Church on Saturday night. There were 5 of us there - the woman who had originally brought up the idea wasn't able to come because she is having chemo-therapy. We hope she'll be able to join us soon. We opened it up to any crafters, and there were 2 crocheters there. They expressed interest in learning to knit also. Which is good, since we're always evangelizing the joy of knitting.... ;)

My sil Chris was there, and I spent a lot of time giggling inside. (While they are happy enough when I knit for them, my sil's generally feel that my level of knitting addiction is weird. They are not afraid to mock me. Having enticed one of them to the light cracks me up!) Chris tried knitting a couple of years ago, but it didn't stick. This year, she asked if I could teach her how to make dish clothes. I got her started, helped with any questions, and just sat back and let her go. Within a week or two, she seemed to always have one on the needles nearby at all times.

Then she discovered the novelty yarn fuzzy scarf on big needles. I just handed over my #17's and kept my mouth shut. She was still not ready for the "fine yarn" speech. And then it happened. She found a yarn shop when she was in Shipshewana shopping. She came back all agog. She fell in love with a scarf that carries three or four different yarns (REAL yarns!) and she bought a ball of
MaggiKnits wool. REAL WOOL! Laura, she spent $17 on one ball of yarn! Not a big double skein either! She is SO hooked. Her family is started to comment on the fact that she's always knitting - but they don't complain because they are all getting scarves! She wants to do a hat next..... But coming back with that MaggiKnits yarn and casting on a scarf that night - she's going to be a process knitter. Finding a yarn that you just have to see how it looks knitted up....she's a knitter after my own heart! (And The Rebellious Pastor's Wife did a great job with the "knit with good wool" speech - I love it! Disciples are the best!)

So, here's what I've been up to!
I finished the red scarf and it's ready to send off. I only bought one skein of this yarn, so the scarf is 4" x 68". I didn't put fringe on it since some guys I know are not in favor.

I finally got past the lady bugs on the first sleeve. Thanks Marie for the suggestion of writing out each row.
I always think that I'll "remember" without writing it out, but that was definitely not working. I did go ahead and make notes to work from, and it really helped! And since I have the notes, I'm not dreading the second sleeve as much.

And here is 5" of progress on the afghan.
I'm enjoying this pattern and I like the way the yarns look together. I showed the progress to my niece, and she approved the softness of the wool, so we're all set for sure.

Ok, well, that's all for now - keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Winter Wonderland

Dear Cynthia,
Winter has actually arrived, and it is the perfect day to stay inside and knit. Unfortunately, we have several appointments today, so that puts a wrench into my knitting fantasy... Fun, none-the-less...

Here is a shot of the boys in the sweaters I made them for Christmas. I'm so relieved that they aren't "itchy".My four year old has been noticing how many things say "Made in China" on them. Every time he discovers yet one more thing that has that printed on it, he announces it, almost in disbelief. Yesterday, out of the blue, he said, "Mommy, there must be a lot of people in China, to make all of that stuff." I almost told him that his sweater wasn't made in China, because I made it in the USA, but then I didn't, because the yarn came from Peru...

Your Dale of Norway hat is adorable!! I wouldn't have even noticed the errant ladybug if you wouldn't have pointed it out. I cracked up about your comments regarding the Dale instructions! I know exactly what you're talking about!

I started a new sweater a few days ago. I'm making "Murphy" from Knitter's, though I'm revising the shaping a little bit to accomodate my shorter stature. I'm using some hand painted yarn I got at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival from Briar Rose Fibers. I knew I wouldn't have enough yarn for a full sweater, but by combining it with the leftovers from my six year old's Christmas sweater, I think it will work.

I thought this hat was very fun! I might have to make one of those yet this winter, too.....

Well, I'd better get moving. We're going to meet "Daddy" for lunch, and then we have major plans to go sledding!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Zipper Installation (Part Two)

Dear Cynthia,

When I was last discussing the Hardangervidda zipper installation, the zipper had been taped in place, the sweater was sitting atop my ironing board, and I had some stick pins in the placket area to help keep things in place. My dh walked by the set-up and commented that it looked like I was doing acupuncture on his sweater... In any case, I secured the pins into the placket area to get ready for sewing it. Here is what it looked like on the outside:Then, I carefully turned the thing "inside out". Here is what it looked like on the inside:First, I used a backstitch to sew the zipper into place. Don't be too amazed by my high-tech graphics here... This is what I mean when I say "back stitch":
This next picture shows a dashed line along the place where the back stitch goes (viewed from wrong side of sweater): The stitches should be maybe about 1/8" away from the zipper teeth, certainly no less than that to allow the zipper pull to move freely. For this particular sweater, there is a double layer of knitting (a facing which has already been folded in and stitched down to the inside of sweater). When doing the back stitch, it shouldn't show on the outside of the sweater. So, when the needle goes down, it should only penetrate one layer of knitting (or at least not go all the way through to the outside of the sweater). Back stitch all the way around the zipper, along the dashed line.

Then, I hem stitched the edges of the zipper tape to the inside of the sweater, too, mostly for neatness. Also, the top of the zipper is stitched to the top edge of the sweater, etc. If the drawing and/or my directions are confusing and you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Here it is from the inside of the sweater after all the sewing is done:Ideally, I would have waited to fold over the facing of the neckband until after the zipper had been installed. That way, it would have made a nice finish, and the top part of the zipper would be hidden under the neckband facing. (However, I knew I was going to have to change out the first zipper I sewed in, so to minimize work for myself, I just sewed the neck facing down and slapped the zipper on top of it.) Even so, there is a nice black knit strip about one inch wide by twelve inches long (which came with the Dale zipper) which I may still sew over the zipper edges to create a nicer finish on the inside, though I haven't decided yet.

Here it is from the outside of the sweater:And, a note about the tape I used -- it did gum up my needle and fingers a little bit, though I'd definitely use it again. It is totally worth it for the way it really keeps things from slipping around as I'm sewing. I waited about 24 hours to sew this after I taped it, and I think that might have made the tape adhere better, too, so I'd recommend that extra time be allowed to let the tape just sit on the sweater/zipper before actually stitching the zipper into place.

Anyway, I'm planning a third zipper installation segment. It will be for a cardigan, so watch for that in a few weeks (after the sweater is all knitted, first -- more on that soon).

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Dear Cynthia,

First, a (almost) finished object...

It is a garter stitch scarf, three strands of Wool-Ease on size 11 needles. It's a variation on the popular method of making a scarf "the long way". Cast on 144 stitches LOOSELY. Prior to knitting each row, tie an overhand knot with the working yarn leaving a ten inch loop to form the fringe. When scarf is desired width, bind off LOOSELY. Cut the fringe loops on the ends open, wash and block. Voila'.

I'm going to send this off for the Red Scarf Project. This cause is one that really tugs at my heart, and as I sit here typing this, I am wondering if there are other ways I could contribute to the cause of students who have gotten themselves into college without the guidance of a "forever family". Admiration. That is what I have for these kids. My parents have always been so supportive; I'm not sure what I would have become if left only up to my own devices... These kids must be just amazing.

This year, I thought more about my goals than I have in most years past. I have goals in four categories: Health, Academic, Family, and Knitting (not necessarily in order of importance).

In health, I want to lower my total cholesterol to 180, and achieve better cardiac fitness. I've been working out regularly, at least three times a week, since October 1st, and have noticed a lot of improvement already. After the new year, I started eating much better, too, reducing my saturated fat intake to minimal amounts, and trying to eat more soluble fiber to help tackle the cholesteral issue. I only mention all of this because working out reduces my knitting time. If I could figure out a way to run without getting my needles and yarn all sweaty, that would be great, but so far.....

In the knitting category, like many bloggers I've read about, I'm going to try to knit from my stash. My stash is not enormous, but it could easily keep me busy for the year. I'm not totally depriving myself, and have made some allowances for purchasing yarn:
  • If it is for a gift
  • If I have an idea for a pattern submission (though, I really haven't enjoyed the whole "deadline" thing with the knitting, so only if it is for something which I was going to knit for myself anyway)
  • If I have a gift certificate
  • If I require additional yarn to complete a project I'm working on from my stash
Other knitting goals include really getting my work area organized. My work area includes my sewing machine, serger, and storage for all yarn and crafty supplies, as well as all files (medical, financial, etc) which keep the household running.

I've also toyed with the idea of working on my Master Knitter Level II certification, though haven't committed to that as a goal.

Anyway, I'd better get busy if I'm to get any of this done!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Don't worry, I've been knitting.......

Dear Laura:

First, the promised picture of my mom with her scarf and mittens.

She reports that these mittens are warmer than the crochet pair that I made her several years ago, which surprised her because they are lighter weight. I am happy with the colors - she wears alot of red, so they work well with that.

I also finished the green stripe socks for my sil.

I finished these New Year's Eve, so they are the final finished object of 2006. I used the short row heel, which I continue to maintain that I love, even though I've had to do each heel at least twice before I was happy with it. I just have this conviction that once I truly "master" it, these heels will be the ones I love to knit.

I do have some knitting goals - not necessarily for the entire year, but for the coming months.

1. I want to finish a scarf for the Red Scarf Project. I started this scarf last month when I was going to have knitting time when it was dark. It's about 1/2 finished, and is the most portable of my projects, so it should be done pretty quickly. I grabbed a couple extra balls of yarn in hopes that I can make a few extra through the year so that next January I'm ahead of the game.

2. I have cast on for my niece's blanket. This niece will graduate from high school in June, and she has chosen a blanket pattern that uses a slip-stitch pattern that looks like bricks. The main color is chocolate brown, with a pinkish "filling." It's called a Chocolate Petit-Fours Blanket pattern. My finish goal is 45" x 60", so my goal is to do 15" per month over the next 4 months.

3. I want to make one baby project per month for the next 5 months, when my new niece or nephew is scheduled to arrive. My sil has graciously agreed to give the baby a temporary name so I don't have to keep saying, "my new niece or nephew" or "Mark & Lee's baby." It's Bubba, people, I'm knitting for Bubba. January's project is the sweater kit that I pictured in my previous post. I've had this kit for over 5 years, and this feels like the right baby to knit it for. I've finished the hat - my first FO of 2007! There were a couple of "ladybug" issues, but we're moving right past that. (Yes, I know that one of the ladybugs is skinnier than the rest. We're calling that one a "fitness freak...")

Now, I could rest on my laurels - the hat is knitted, but there is still the sweater. I am, however, concerned that making January's project the hat AND the sweater may be a bit much, so I'm considering the hat and the sleeves as the minimum for January. While the hat went quickly, I have to admit that this ladybug thing is kicking my butt. I am working on the first sleeve, and I'm starting the third row of the ladybug pattern for the 4th or 5th time. (It's starting to blur together....) I would just like to point out to Dale of Norway that these patterns traditionally carry only TWO colors per row. This is especially a big deal when you are trying to carry three yarns while working on double-points. Just try to get some rhythm going...

And while I admire their ability to write the entire pattern for a stranded sweater (in FIVE sizes) in just a quarter page of text....that's requiring a lot of "figuring" on my part. For instance, pointing out the center stitch of the pattern and telling me to center it on the sleeve leaves me with quite a bit to figure out. Especially when the next sentance begins with my all-time favorite, "At the same time, increase 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every fourth row.....blah, blah, in pattern, blah blah....

Maybe I'll just go knit a few more rows on that garter stitch scarf....

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Lorna's Laces question

Dear Cynthia,

I'll finish posting about zipper installation later this week. (I sewed the zipper in, but before posting about it again, I want to make some sketches to use as visual aids.)

In the meantime, I'm finishing up some loose ends here. These socks are for my mom's friend who *gave* me lots of high quality knitting stuff -- yarn, needles, needle organizer, etc. Included in that batch was a bunch (six hanks) of Lorna's Laces sock yarn, and all she wanted in return was a pair of socks made out of the purple hanks. So, here they are! Now that they are done (not sure why it took me this long to realize it), it is clear to me that "dye lot" may not mean the same thing to everybody. These socks are clearly not the same color -- one is definitely darker than the other -- both made from yarn in the exact same dye lot, though each from a different hank. Any thoughts about that? Any similar experiences out there with Lorna's Laces?? It's probably not too big of a deal, although most people do have both feet in close proximity to each other, so it's not as though one sock will be hanging out too far from the other sock. Maybe after a few washings things will even out.....

Cleaning up other loose ends, you may remember the hand painted yarn I was using for a sweater, but which was causing me great angst because I wasn't sure if I would have enough yarn... It was the third sweater back when I was embarking on the "three sweaters in three months" challenge -- right before sanity took over again? Anyway, I am putting the thing out of its misery. For the first time in my life, the yarn was speaking to me -- more like screaming -- "this sweater thing isn't going to work out -- I really want to be a shawl". And so, I'm listening, with some relief, because I really wasn't sure where I was headed with all of that...

And, it's the Red Scarf Project time of year again, so I bought some Wool-ease for that.

I hope you're having a nice weekend and a Happy Epiphany!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Zipper Installation (Part One)

Dear Cynthia,

My favorite sweater closure is the zipper. I think zippers look tidy and "finished", and they are much easier for my kids to "operate" than buttons are. Here are a few notes about how I am going about the installation of the zipper into the Hardangervidda sweater... These are just things I've picked up from experience sewing zippers into several sweaters over the years, and if anybody has additional comments and tips, I'm all ears.

Here is the Dale of Norway zipper which I purchased for the sweater. A couple of comments about zippers, because they aren't all created equal.
  • For this particular installation, because it is a zipper in a placket (and **not** a zipper in a cardigan), I do **not** want a "separating" zipper. The zipper I am using for this sweater has a "stop" on the bottom of it, which does just that -- stops the zipper from going down any farther -- and, it does not separate. (Note that a zipper "stop" may be added to a zipper by sewing some overcast stitches at the location where the "stop" is desired, then cutting off the remainder of the zipper about an inch away from this newly created "stop".)
  • The other thing I must be careful about for this installation is the zipper length. The opening of my sweater is roughly 5 and a half inches. The length of the zipper between the upper and lower "stops" is about 5 inches. These two numbers do not have to match exactly. If the zipper is shorter than the opening, I wouldn't recommend going any shorter than about a half inch. If the zipper is just a little longer than the opening, it is okay to let the extra length just be on the inside of the sweater, though I'd sew it down. If the zipper is significantly (more than an inch and a half) longer than the opening, it can be made smaller without too much trouble. (Just use some overcast stitches to create a new "stop", and cut off the remainder of the zipper about an inch away from this newly created "stop".) Note that the zipper measurement does **not** include the "zipper tape" which continues beyond the upper stops and the lower stop.
Here is the sweater opening, all ready for the zipper to be installed. For this pattern, once the zipper is in place, the two placket edges should just about touch each other, covering the zipper when it is closed.At this point, take a good look at the area, and note if there are going to be any issues with symmetry. My sweater, for whatever reason, ended up with the right front collar being a little bit higher than the left front collar. Once the zipper is sewn in, I want the major "lines" to line up. Critial to me is the white area at the base of the neckband. When the zipper is closed, the right side should line up with the left side. In this next photo, the left side (which my scissors points to) is higher than the right side, so I must adjust for this when I'm sewing in the zipper, stretching the neckband on the left side slightly to bring it down, and crowding the neckband on the right side slightly to bring it up a little bit.
Fortunately, there is a product on the market called "Wonder Tape". The information on the package states that it "completely disappears in first washing", that it is "a double-sided transparent tape that can be stitched through -- it will not gum up your needle". So, I lined up this tape along the outer edges of my zipper, having the top of the tape in line with the upper stops, and allowing the lower edge of the tape to extend to the lower end of the zipper tape. The white you see in the photo is the paper backing on the tape.
Then, I removed the paper backing, and folded the top edges of the zipper tape down as shown in the photo. Do not cut off the extra zipper tape, because it will unravel. Leave it in tact, and just fold it down on the front side of the zipper, being careful so that it is far enough away from the zipper teeth so that it doesn't impede movement of the zipper pull. Since the top part of the zipper tape no longer has any tape exposed, I put another small piece of the double sided tape on top of each part that was folded over (though this part is not shown in the photo).
Then, I carefully placed the zipper into the opening of my sweater, making sure that all of the critical "lines" (such as the base of the neckband) were lined up, and also making sure that the front edges of the placket opening touch each other. I applied pressure so that the tape somewhat adheres the zipper to the sweater. I will still put in some pins, to hold it all together better, because the tape doesn't exactly "stick like glue", though it is very helpful in keeping things from shifting around too much, and it gives me a good idea of how it's all going to look once it's sewn into place.Stay tuned for part two, in which I actually do the sewing, hopefully without any crying, but I'll let you know :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Ninth Day of Christmas

Dear Cynthia,

On the ninth day of Christmas, my dear six year old went back to school. Though I really do enjoy the holidays, I'm always comforted when we return to our "normal" routine.
This photo shows my quartet during our concert this past Saturday. We are the "Madison Marimba Quartet", and in addition to some paid "gigs" throughout the year, we offer a free concert on the UW campus during the weekend between Christmas and New Years. It's a great place to bring kids during that time of year when not a whole lot is going on and people might be looking for something to do....

I have several goals for the new year. One of them is to lower my cholesterol by 40 points before May. It was 220 the last time I had it measured, which was September 2006. So, I started exercising in October and have successfully worked out for at least 30 minutes three times a week since then. I decided to re-vamp my diet, too, beginning yesterday. My brother told me about the "You" book, so I'm working through that, which has been somewhat inspiring. I keep telling myself "one step at a time". I'm not sure I'll reach my goal of 180 by May, but I liked a quote I read one time, which has really stuck with me: (paraphrased) "Shoot for the stars. You might not reach them, but you can chart your course by them."

Anyway, there are several knitting goals, too, but I'll share those in future posts. For now, I am working on the Perfect Sweater, though now I've made several more of my own revisions to make the pattern even more perfect for me. The front and back are done, and almost the first sleeve. I'm working the sleeves in the round up until the part where the shaping for the "set in" part begins, where I'll start working back and forth. Instead of a hem at the lower sleeve edge, it will be a rolled edge, to match the neckline. Also, I'll be knitting the neckline in the round instead of back and forth as called for in the pattern. Avoid sewing a seam when you can, that's what I always say :-)

I hope you are having a Happy New Year so far! Any goals? Anybody?

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)