Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Dear Cynthia,

I clearly have a **bad** case of KAD (Knitter's Attention Deficit), which I'm not calling a "disorder", because, well, that's just how knitters can be...

Here is exhibit A: a ski band I started on Sunday.It is a pattern from Knitter's, Winter 2002 (K69), except the pattern calls for stockinette in the center area, and am knitting in a cable, instead. I've loved the look of the xo cable for some time now, and decided to try it for myself. I'm using an extra hank I have on hand of Classic Elite Lush (Angora Wool), because it is soooo soft and won't make my head itch when I wear it. Very fast, so should be done in no time....except for the KAD thing...

I give you exhibit B:
This is the Leaf Lace Shawl, and I am loving this yarn for this project. I'm making the larger size (45 inches from neck to center back point, 90 inches across the top). The yarn is merino, between sport and dk weight according to the vendor, hand painted, from Briar Rose Fibers. I purchased 1500 yards of it, all in one hank, at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last fall. (This probably all sounds familiar, because I was trying to make a sweater out of it before I ripped it back all the way and started on this.) Anyway, to achieve my desired length, the pattern specifies between 150 and 180 rows for this weight of yarn (I'll just knit enough repeats until I think its big enough), and I currently have 132 rows completed, and since this follows the laws of shawl math, it means I am anywhere between 77 percent and 54 percent done... It's a great shawl pattern, pretty, and not too complicated. I'm using the note card method which Allison shared on her blog some time ago for keeping track of rows when knitting lace. I made one notecard for each right side row (wrong side rows are purled across), and after I'm done with the row, I just flip to the next card. (Since I'm into the math thing, I also jot down on each card the number of the row which I completed...because, you know, I like to keep track of that....along with the number of stitches I should have after each row...)This is my "portable" project, travelling with me to have the car worked on, piano lessons, library story time, etc.....

Well, speaking of library story time, we should start getting ready to go, so I must get my knitting packed up!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, February 26, 2007

You rock!

Dear Laura:

Laura Mae, you are my very best friend forever and ever - you saved the ladybug sweater!!! Your tutorial on two-handed color weaving.....sheer genius! It works! I'm so excited that I can't wait to get to the next ladybug panel to practice.

Once I got over the hump of finishing that ladybug panel around the sleeve, I wizzed through the rest of the sleeve yesterday.
From Knitting Pict...

So, now we have the hat and two sleeves, with the body to go. That's not an insignificant amount of knitting, BUT I'm working on a circular, which will go faster than the dpns.

I did get bit again by the Dale of Norway pattern. The sleeves say to cast on in CC2, work the hem, then follow the chart. Ok. Then the instructions for the body say to cast on with MC (Main Color) and work the hem and then follow the chart. That seemed odd to me, since I thought the picture showed the sleeves matching the sweater at the bottom. However, I didn't want to get up from my chair to find the picture, so after double checking the instructions, I cast on in Spring Green and knitted 5 hem rows, purled a turning ridge and started the first five rows of the chart...wait, why is the chart calling for CC2?? I got the picture. The instructions are WRONG. You cast on and begin in CC2 - turquoise in my case. Oh well, I did get the hem rows done in the correct color before bed last night.

Friday was Finished Object Day - I finished crocheting the Girth Strap for my niece's horse.
From Knitting Pict...

From Knitting Pict...
My brother had estimated that they needed 42-44" - before felting I had around 70". I felted it Saturday morning - it didn't become a solid fabric, but it did lose all stretch, which was what we wanted. However, he looked at it and kept saying..."It's way too long!" I showed him that I would loop it through the second ring, and then sew and trim the excess. In fact, I actually doubled it, and he thought that was sturdier, although still too long. I measured, and it was 44". Which means that it grew from 70" to 88" in the felting process!! It didn't really lose much width tho - so it was quite interesting.

I went to my brother and sil's last night - she wanted me to help her start a baby blanket for a baby shower gift. She's doing the "make a big dishcloth" blanket. I'm doing one as well, although my yarn is chunkier than hers. I kept reminding her - mine will go faster because of the big yarn!! We had just knitted a few rows when the power went out. Now, I can certainly knit chunky garter stitch in the dark, but she's a pretty new knitter. She got up and got an oil lantern and put on the table between us. My brother came in from the barn and chuckled. I welcomed him to "Pioneer Days! Knitting by Lantern Light!" He went back out and came in with his camping lantern, which was MUCH brighter! We had a fun 1/2 hour recreating the past. (Except for him using his cell-phone to text-message his daughter...hmm..)

While I did start my quickie blanket last night, it's not in February goals, so I've put it back aside. I'm not going to give it at the shower - I went in on the car seat/stroller combo. And since my sil is a new knitter, I think it would be cool if she's giving the cool hand knitted gift at the shower. Having people making a fuss over her blanket will be good "positive reinforcement!" Besides, it will be a surprise to the new mom, as she doesn't know that Chris is knitting for her. She already knows I'm knitting like mad for this baby!

And finally from the weekend files....spotted while lost in Warsaw trying to find a co-worker's wedding.....
From Just for fun....

Fort Wayne Street!!! I've seen Auburn Road, Lower Huntington Road, New Haven Ave.....but never a street named for Fort Wayne!

Keep Knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Can you spot the mailbox in this photo?

Dear Cynthia and other friends,

Seriously, can you spot the mailbox in this photo?We got **ahem** some snow. Fortunately, the snow plows have cleared the roads. It is up to each of us, however, to clear the end of the driveway after the snow plow goes by...But, it's the kind of really dense, heavy snow that sticks together really well for fun projects! Here is my four year old (mittens from Bev Galeskas' "Felted Knits", scarf using yarn dyed with Kool-Aid and "one row" scarf pattern from Yarn Harlet -- Had to get the knitting content in **somewhere** in this post) with his new friend -- a snow man which is taller than I am, though I think much, much heavier, and I would know, because I struggled to lift his middle up from ground level to belly level....
And so, "they" are telling all of us not to drive today unless absolutely necessary. That's okay, because we have a big **party** planned. At 3:00, the #1 ranked basketball team in the whole nation (for the first time in the history of the school), also known as the WISCONSIN BADGERS, will be playing the #2 ranked basketball team in the whole nation, The Ohio State University Buckeyes. The boys and I are all wearing our Badger garb, and we each picked out a snack to make this morning for us to enjoy during the game this afternoon (which will be televised on CBS -- good news for us, because we don't have cable tv....). Afterwards, it's going to be a homemade pizza dinner....so for one day, I guess it's okay to be "snowed in".

Tomorrow, however, there better be school!!

More about knitting in my next post. I'll have some time, now that the shovelling is done for the time being, and I'll be sitting in front of a basketball game for a couple of hours today.....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Won't buy any lottery tickets today!

Dear Cynthia (and other friends),

The amount of yarn in one hank of Classic Elite "Lush" Angora Wool is 124 yards.The amount of yarn required to make the mobius scarf, even with the pattern reduced by seven rows, is 125 yards.The number of stitches which cannot be bound off without first splicing on the second hank of yarn is 34. AAUGH!

So, not a good day for me to be buying lottery tickets, not that I ever have -- I figure I've already paid enough taxes in other forms..... Thankfully, I had an extra hank of this yarn on hand.

I omitted some rows in a couple of areas of the pattern, because I didn't think the extra length was necessary. I'm happy with how it turned out, though I did have to mess with it a little bit in order to arrange it for this picture....poor quality "bathroom mirror" snapshot that it is....but it gives you an idea of the thing.I think it will work nice as a dressy little "scarf" thingy under my dressy winter coat, or by itself as an accent to a plain top.

In other news, my six year old was telling us the other night about a kid at school whose backpack he zipped open (which is, apparently, a mean thing to do). DH and I asked him why he did this. It sounded like the kid had previously pushed my six year old, or something like that. Anyway, DH was encouraging our son to try to be nice to the kid, anyway, because it's "easy to be mean to somebody who is mean to you". I added that "it takes a special kind of person to be **nice** to somebody who is mean to you". Dear son asked, "Who's that?"

There are many things which, if you survive them, make you stronger. Parenting is clearly one of those things.....

Anyway, warm regards!
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Check this out...

Dear Cynthia and other friends,

My hands were so dry that continuing to knit with the Heilo yarn on Sapporo was starting to be a bit irritating, plus after a marathon of working on it when my six year old was sick, I was in need of a jump start. That's just what I got with this:But first, some loose ends. Cindy - The yarn for Murphy was from Briar Rose Fibers. I can't remember exactly which one it is, though I do know that it is worsted weight, 100% wool (I don't think it is merino), and came in an 850 yard hank. I purchased it at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson last fall, because I loved the colors, and it had good yardage. Of course, to make myself a complete sweater, I need over 900 yards, so alone it wouldn't have been sufficient, but, I thought that with the Murphy pattern, and by using Cascade 220 for the color blocks, it might work out. Thanks for your comment regarding the color! Briar Rose Fibers had some beautiful things, and much more yardage than I'm accustomed to seeing in a single hank of hand-painted. You're right about the zipper, too! It's the one I used for my tutorial, now weeks ago, and it's taken me this long to sew the rest of the thing together... Did I mention that I really dislike the "finishing" part of knitting? Elizabeth - You're always so positive! Thank you! Lynn - the pattern is "Murphy", from Knitters Magazine #80. Thank you for sharing your experiences of taking a break from knitting. Sometimes I think I'm getting to that point, too, and it's good to know that it is completely "normal".

To give myself a jump start, I decided I needed to work a small project with some really soft yarn to give my hands a chance to heal from their severe dryness. Enter, Classic Elite Angora Wool. I'm working on a mobius. It's crazy! It took me two tries to cast on (and I learned from the experience that it needs to be a little bit loose), but once I got past that part, it's just been amazing watching how the thing works. In this picture, notice there is one circular needle, which wraps around the work twice. (You see the needle tips on the right side of the photo; you see just a cable on the left side. It is a pretty long needle - 47 inches.) I just keep knitting away (note -- absolutely no purl stitches) with just a couple of yarn overs and K2togs thrown in, and I end up with a piece which is, for the most part, half stockinette and half reverse stockinette. In the middle, where those two parts meet, is actually where the thing was cast on. For every complete "round" I knit, the thing grows lengthwise by two rows. Here is what it looks like from the side opposite where my needle tips are:Anyway, I've been wanting to try this technique, and the yarn is so soft, and it's just so fun to try...

One other note today: I contacted Skacel regarding my addi TURBO which is having a problem with one of the joins, and they told me to send my needle to a PO Box which they provided. This is good, because it's quite possible the store in which I purchased them is now out of business...never mind that I'd never be able to locate a receipt...

Well, time to put some lunch on the table!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mittens done

Dear Laura:

Well, after my marathon snow-day-of-knitting, I was physically "tired of knitting!" As much as I enjoyed a day curled up under a blanket with my knitting, my hands and wrists ached, and I even had pains in my shoulder as late as Sunday. So, I backed off and didn't knit much of anything except for a bit on the mittens during my lunch hours. Saturday evening, I finished off the second mitten! Ta da!

From Knitting Pict...

That's a "drop-in" project off the list for February!

Ahem. However. Saturday morning I ran errands, and I took my almost-13-year-old niece along to Rural King, where she needed to buy a larger halter and girth strap for the horse they are boarding, and she is learning to ride. This is a HUGE horse. The saddle they are using has a 32" girth strap, and my brother told her to buy 42-44". The largest strap that Rural King carried was 36".

Now, a girth strap goes under the belly of the horse and is tightened to keep the saddle from sliding off (for anyone who doesn't do horse stuff. Like me.) There is a ring on both ends of a strap which is either made of leather or knotted/braided cord. (You see where this is going, don't you?????) Seriously. You just need something sturdy and 3-4" wide - you can make it out of anything. Like this.....
From Knitting Pict...
From Knitting Pict...

We bought the rings and I got started. My original plan was to knit the strap wider, maybe garter stitch, and then felt it to stop it from stretching. However, after a couple of hours knitting with size 11 needles and Lamb's Pride Bulky (don't you love the colors?? It was all I had in my stash....) with that heavy ring hanging off the end, I only had about 7" - but very sore hands. Plan B involves doubled yarn and crochet. I'll let you know how that plays out.

Hmm, first a
knitted cow sling and now a crocheted girth strap. I'm afraid I'm going to end up being famous as "The Fiber Artist of Farm Animals!"

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Dear Cynthia (and other friends),

After sitting atop a table next to the recliner for weeks, and in pieces (the sweater that is, not **me**), I finally felt the urge to sew my Murphy sweater together so that I could wear it today. (It's from Knitters issue #80, Fall 2005.) My six year old has been sick since Friday morning, so I checked out gobs of DVD's from the library and relaxed as we watched tv for the past two and a half days. I actually got **tired** of knitting yesterday, though I'm having a hard time believing it myself...so I picked up the Murphy and completed all of the "finishing" work. Glad that's over, though worth it, because I really like the sweater. In any case, the sleeves each have a color block on the back of them, which I thought would show up in the photo above, but I guess you'll have to take my word for it. Finally, dh, who was kind enough to take these photos in the bright sunlight we had today, thought you might enjoy this close-up shot of the left sleeve. Live it up!

Have a great week!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The demise of my "amazing addi TURBO"

Dear Cynthia,

First, I'm so glad that Barb outside of Boston shared her comment about teaching her son to knit, and what a quick study he is! That is so great!! I'm not sure I would have thought it good sense to try to teach my son to knit a sweater, but after reading her comment, I just might get out some needles for him to try, if he is interested... His progress on his scarf has slowed, though he still does work on it periodically. It has taken a back seat to Scooby Doo books...

Progress on Sapporo:This is the front of the sweater. (On the back of the sweater, there is no super giant star.) I love the stripes on this design. That is one of the features which drew me to this sweater. And, compared to the "symmetric about the center" patterning of various star (or flower?) varieties, for which the chart must be consulted as **every single stitch** is worked, stripes are simple and nice and a good contrast. The previous Dale sweater I made (Hardangervidda) was much more complicated by comparison, and also much larger (for my dh), so this one just seems quicker overall... I could use it on a day like today! I think the cold weather has inspired much knitting progress. And, this sweater is at the point in which it is perfect to warm my lap as I work on it in front of the tv.

Last night as I was knitting, I noticed my yarn snagging very badly on one of the joins on my circular needle. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this needle can no longer be used in its current form. Anybody ever have a problem like this which you were able to fix? Anybody ever send a needle like this back to the company? I thought it was "the perfect needle" as is written on the package, until this happened anyway. To be fair, this particular needle has seen a lot of knitting... Anyway, I had another size 4 circular needle on hand and am totally back in business.....

We're going to the library in a little while to replenish the Scooby Doo books. Then, since dh won't be home for dinner, we're going to have French Toast made with French Country Wheat Bread, and pears. Mmmm.... Next time you're in town, remind me to take you over to Clasen's Bakery. They have amazing things there....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Poor little kitten lost her mittens......

Dear Laura:

Well, it was our turn to have a snow day.
From Family
Tuesday was a snowy, blowy day in our neck of the woods. It didn't look too bad when I got up yesterday morning, and I probably could have made it to work, but it was only going to get worse, and I did NOT want to get stuck in town and not be able to get home. It was just as well, because had I struggled through 30 miles of bad weather, I would felt it a wasted effort when 2 1/2 hours later they sent everyone home! Instead, I spent the day curled up under a blanket! Hurray for a snow day!

When I talked to mom over the weekend, she sheepishly (ha!) admitted that she has lost the mittens that I made her for Christmas. She is still hunting, but asked if I could possibly make her another pair, as they were the warmest thing she has for her hands. I was happy that I had managed to "over-buy" on yarn (imagine!) and so I have a skein and a half left. It takes less than a skein for the mittens, so I was prepared in the yarn department.

Now, this wasn't in the February goals, but my mom has
Limited Scleroderma, and one of the symptoms is Raynauds Syndrome. Basically, her hands way over-react to any temperature change. They turn dead white and go numb at the slightest sign of a chill. It isn't as bad as it was at first, where just walking through an air-conditioned grocery store sent her to the restroom to run warm water over her hands so that she use her fingers enough to sign a check, but it is still critical that she keep her hands warm.

So, here's how much I can knit during one snow day.....

Today is better - the snow is still blowing, but the main roads are in decent shape. Of course, the trick is always getting TO the road! My driveway is not-quite a quarter-of-a-mile long, and it runs north/south, so it's "a drifter." Now, I have two brothers who live very close by (and have new warm hats!) and they have a farm-tractor with a large snow-blower attached. They live for this stuff. As soon as the weatherman starts talking about snow, they're on the phone, planning if they should hook up the blower, fuel up, etc. (Whatever 10-year-old boys do when it's gonna snow...) Which is great for me. My driveway is one of the two places they can really get some speed up and make the snow fly really high!

However, this is a bit of a conflict for me. I'm grateful that they take care of me. But I got a mini-SUV with 4-wheel drive about 3 years ago, and they always have the driveway plowed before I can "try it out!" So today, I let them think I was gonna stay home all day. I called Mark after I got to the road and said, "Ha! I made it!!" He got a chuckle. The part of my driveway from the garage to the front of the house was drifted so deep and I couldn't get a "running go" so I took off "cross country" and drove around the house through the yard, and got the driveway from the other side. (Which got another chuckle. Don't tell dad tho...) Then the only trick was figuring out WHERE the driveway was under those 2 foot drifts. I think I had it most of the way...... ;)

So....back to work.

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Dear Cynthia,

Liver, eh? At my house, there is no chance I'll reach for hamburger and accidently get liver. I don't keep it on hand... Congrats on getting your Dale sleeve completed. May your second sleeve end up being exactly the same size as your first one.

Thanks to a worksheet my first grader brought home from school the other day, I **finally** realized that "tink" is "knit" spelled backwards. I've known what tinking is, and have spent many hours **enjoying** (though I don't think that is *exactly* the right work for it) tinking, but it's origin never occurred to me... Maybe I should go back to first grade to pick up some knitting basics.

This same first grader told me that he wanted to learn how to knit. I've purchased looms for birthday gifts for some nieces as they've turned seven years old, and my son told me that he wanted a loom, too. So, during our snow day last week, I got him one, along with some yarn, and though it doesn't appear to be a compulsion for him, he does work on it regularly. This is his progress after about a week. He's a natural. Is there such a thing as a knitting gene which I might have passed down to him?

In knitting news, I got to 11 inches on Sapporo (and I'm *not* going to make the mistake of measuring it more than once) and then started the colorwork. I'm trying to knit it loosely enough so that the colorwork part doesn't pull in. I'm using the same size needle, so just trying to make sure my carries are loose enough...

I'm also trying to finish up some Valentines' Day projects over here. In my efforts to further reduce my stash of polar fleece, I'm making each of my kids a fleece hoodie. I put a "made with love" label in each one, and that is probably what they will appreciate the most.It seems like I have some sort of compulsion to keep my family members warm...

Anyway.....we're expecting snow and strong winds. Perfect knitting weather continues!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, February 12, 2007

I thought it said hamburger.....

Dear Laura:

First of all, LOVE the slippers - they look very comfy!

Well, I thought I was going to post all weekend. I can't even claim to being too busy - in fact it was a lovely lazy weekend. I got some things done, but basically if I felt like sitting around and knitting, that's exactly what I did! One of the perks of the single life is the occasional Saturday to putz around the house.

I did get laundry done, and a little cleaning, plus I cooked. I thawed hamburger for a meatloaf and also a roast. Yesterday I mixed the egg, tomato, onion and salt, and went to add the hamburger. I thought as I unwrapped it that it had leaked quite a bit for hamburger....and then it didn't really look like hamburger....so I double-checked the label. You know, you can't really make meatloaf out of "Beef Liver."

It's a good thing that I love liver as much as meatloaf!

So, I did get some knitting done this weekend! First of all, I finished the brown/green hat for my brother.

From Knitting Pict...

He spent all day Saturday cutting wood, while I furiously knit to the finish. I got the hat to him in the afternoon, just as he was finishing stacking the wood. He said after working all day and still being cold, he'd worked up a sweat after wearing the hat for just 10 minutes. A wool hat is much warmer than a cotton sweatshirt hood! He was really excited to have it, so that was cool.

Last Thursday, I finished the chart and bound off the first sleeve of the baby sweater. Then I happened to check the directions, which clearly stated..."Knit the sleeve chart. Sleeve should measure 9". Purl 5 rows for facing." Right. Facing. And 9"? Mine was about 8.5". Fine. So I pulled out the bind-off and knit another 1/2" and started purling. Then, just for kicks, I measured to be sure I was at 9". I was at 9.5" I don't know WHY I am so tape-measure challenged, but I frogged back to 9" and then added the facing. I'm not gonna measure it again. I'll make the second sleeve to match and it will be as long as it will be!
From Knitting Pict...

I cast on for the second sleeve and am about 1/2" through the lady bug stripe. Once I get through this, I won't have to do the fiddly little pattern on dpns anymore. I'm actually very happy that I did these sleeves first, because I can see this would be the portion of the project that would make finishing iffy. If I had done the body first, the kid might end up with a vest......

I also made some progress on the blanket and February socks, so it was a good weekend!

Keep knitting! (And don't forget to eat some beef liver!)

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Why yes, I am addicted

Dear Cynthia,

First, regarding laundry... I have to agree with Elizabeth, who commented about laundry being her Sisyphean task. I had to consult the encyclopedia and the dictionary in order to fully understand, but now that I've learned it has to do with a king rolling a rock up a hill for all of eternity, or similar futile yet endless tasks, it sounds about right. Just one more comment, and then I'm done with the laundry topic (for now) -- Nobody notices when the laundry happens to be going smoothly and clothes magically appear in closets and drawers all over the house; everybody notices if there is a shortage of even one thing, say, underwear, for example...

I completely finished one slipper for dh for Valentines' Day by sewing on the leather bottom and threading the lace through the cuff. It is slow going. I am using a really sharp tapestry needle (instead of the dull chibi I typically use for seaming) and I have a hole in my thumb and two in my left thigh to prove it. Ouch! Anyway, I've had a set of these slipper soles on my felted clogs, and they have lasted years, even with daily wear from September through May...

I did not let the fact that I already have several projects on various needles all over the house deter me from starting Sapporo. I cast on for it one week ago today. When dh asked me what I was knitting, I told him a ski sweater for myself. He said, "I think you're addicted." I was not surprised in the least that he said this; I'm quite surprised it has taken this long. By my calculations, I've been addicted since November 1999, when I was pregnant with my first son... Anyway, I stand by the fact that knitting is still cheaper than smoking, and though I've never smoked, if I add up $4.00 per day for cigarettes, and the fact that I don't have to actually pay a therapist for my "therapy", I'm way ahead. There are worse things to be addicted to. If you think this looks so far like a hem facing, a turning ridge, and a sea of stockinette, then you're right! In another couple of inches the colorwork begins. Also, this pattern has a shock cord which goes through the casing formed by the hem, so that explains the two eyelets.

Well, my four year old is watching Scooby Doo, so I'm going to join him, with my mindless stockinette knitting... It's still the perfect temperature outside to be knitting inside, though we're supposed to be in the positive double digits today! That means my six year old will have recess outdoors today, and we'll all be the better for it.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Dear Cynthia,This past Monday, it occurred to me that Valentines' Day is next week Wednesday. That realization was enough to kick me into high gear regarding the felted moccasins I was planning for dh. I finished knitting them yesterday, put them in the washing machine, started felting them, and then walked away and totally forgot about them......

Oops..... The directions say that during the felting process, it is very important to tug/loosen the waste yarn so that the back cuff, which also serves as a casing for the ties, does not felt shut. **Ahem**, yes, that is very important. With enough force, I was able to loosen mine, but next time I start the washer for a felting project, I don't think I'll be walking away from it. My 42 year old brain moves on to other things and forgets what I was doing in the first place. (By the way, my four year old informed me the other day that I am the oldest thing he knows.... Thank you...)I think the finished size is about right, though, and I'm pretty happy with the way they are turning out. The bottoms have two layers of felted fabric (similar to the felted clogs by the same author), and they are quite comfy. Tomorrow I'll go to Lakeside Fibers and try to find some nice bottoms for them, and I'll also put some real ties in them. It's an extremely clever pattern, from Bev Galeskas "Felted Knits".I'm still working on the garter stitch section of my Mad Money Bag. MollyBee and Allison - This is a great starter project for beads. I've never strung beads before, and with this pattern, they are knit in using garter stitch, and they end up on the opposite side (the side not facing me -- not what I expected, but very fun). Now I want to try beads on something other than garter stitch, just to see how they "work"... Anyway, I've got almost 100 rows of garter stitch done, out of 120 total... Then I have to decide what sort of cord to make...
Finally, I've really been trying to get my work area organized. I filed months worth of paperwork (which had to be done before I even attempt to get at our taxes), and now I'm trying to use up some of the polar fleece I have on hand. They are having a cold weather clothing drive where dh works, so I made up a bunch of hats for that. (Simple pattern -- cut a rectangle having the long side along the stretch of the fabric, stitch the short sides together, fold up the bottom 2 inches and stitch in place to form a hem, then tie the top closed with some cording.)

I suppose I ought to get some laundry going..... Do I say that in every post? I probably could...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Workin' workin'

Dear Laura:

First of all - THANK YOU for demystifying zippers and sweaters. I must confess that I am one of those people who have avoided patterns that call for zippers. I always love your sweaters....but the zippers scare me! I'm going to give it a try tho, at my next available opportunity.

This weekend was about the hats. I knitted my fingers to the bone. (Well, I knitted so much that my hands were numb all night as I slept, even with my braces on..) I finished Andy's orange hat and gave it to him yesterday. He was really happy with it - it was longer than the first hat that I made for him, at his request.

Back in December 2005, I knitted a hat for my brother Tim, from the top down. When it came off the needles it was about 26" around instead of 22". GINORMOUS. He seemed pretty happy not to have been subjected to a knitted cap, as he's just not "a hat kind of guy," so I just left it in a basket to someday be frogged. However, since Andy has been raving about the warmth of his hat, Tim expressed an interest in having one, so I pulled it out of the frog pond and ripped it to the point in the increase section where it hit 22". And now I've started knitting again. I want the overall length to be around 10", and I'm at 7" so it's really moving along.

Gotta get the hats done!!

I really enjoyed the class in Navajo Spinning on Saturday. It will definitely take some practice, but it's the first time that I've been spinning, and could see myself actually wanting to do it. I like the long spindle, and the motions feel somewhat natural, so I'd like to continue.

Sure, I have time for another hobby......

If I quit my job......

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Quick, fun project

Dear Cynthia,

YAY for the Colts! Either they have a really great PR department there in Indianapolis, or it really is a thoughtful organization, bringing their entire staff to the SuperBowl (including the janitors), and having a coach who never raises his voice or curses. Nice to see! We had a homemade pizza party, and we rooted for the Colts, because, as you know, our six year old was born in Indiana!

Over the weekend, I caught part of "America's Sweethearts" on tv. In the movie, Julia Roberts knits a little bit, and she is a "thrower".....just sayin'.... :-)In knitting news, I'm working on a "Mad Money Bag". I've knit with beads before, but I've never had to string them onto my yarn first. This is just a fun little project, and I actually use little bags like these, to carry my cell phone and a little cash around in summer when I'm out at the park with the boys. Very fun to knit..... Well, it was more fun when I was working on the part with the beads. Now it's 120 rows of garter stitch.....but very quick.....

It's so cold today (-20 on our thermometer when we woke up this morning, wind chills much lower than that) that they closed Madison Schools (and all surrounding schools, including ours). I have to wonder if I have a geek for a kid when my six year old started crying because school was cancelled. I guess that's a good thing, though he's over it now.....

Warmest regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sewing a Zipper into a Cardigan

I'll never forget talking with one of the authors of a pattern book for extremely cute children's sweaters. She said that if a pattern calls for a zipper, she won't even consider it. Since most directions I've encountered for inserting zippers say something like, "Sew in zipper", I felt there was a need for a tutorial for knitters who want to install zippers. People who sew clothes often have a bit of training and experience with zipper insertion, but it might be a little bit harder for knitters...

I am going to share with you a method for zipper insertion which I developed as I sewed zippers into more than half a dozen handknit sweaters over the years. Since I learned to sew long before I learned to knit, my method employs some of the techniques I learned in various sewing books and classes, though I've adapted the techniques to apply them to handknit items.

The sewing may be done by machine, or by hand. It all depends on the garment, the presence or lack of a sewing machine, and/or personal preference.

A zipper that is going to be used in a cardigan must be able to separate, and the zipper package will say "separating" someplace on it.Often I will plan my knitting so that the front opening will be just the right size for a "standard" zipper length, typically 18", 22", 24", etc. If I finish the sweater and discover that my opening isn't quite the same as a standard zipper length, then I'll purchase a zipper slightly shorter than the opening. (Generally over time and with wear, my handknit sweaters get a little bit wider and shorter...so it is better to have the zipper be slightly shorter than the front edge rather than longer. Sometimes the front edge may be "eased" a little bit into a shorter length zipper...or, the zipper can begin and end half inch from the top and/or bottom of the sweater. (I haven't had much luck with shortening cardigan zippers... It either gets too bulky having the zipper coil turned back on itself at the top of the zipper, or if the excess coil is cut off, then I worry about the zipper tape unravelling.) When selecting a zipper, if I can't find an exact color match, I'll go a little bit darker, or I'll go with something neutral, such as black or navy to go with darker colors, etc.

For my Murphy sweater, my opening is about 22", though I couldn't find a very good match to the blue, so the zipper I purchased was 22" long, navy, and separating. (Note that there are also choices for zipper style, such as sport versions having large plastic teeth, or coiled teeth, or metal teeth, etc. These are all a matter of personal preference. Most critical is getting the right length, color, and that it will separate.)

I prepare the zipper for installation. I almost always use this tape (Wash-A-Way Wonder Tape).... It is not necessary, but I find that it is helpful.Place a length of the tape along the outside edges of the right side of the zipper. Here the zipper is shown with the tape still having the paper backing on it. With the zipper still zipped, remove the paper backing of the tape, and fold the top edges of the zipper tape down to overlap the top front of the zipper, making sure that the part which is folded over will not interfere with the movement of the slider. I generally put another piece of the double sided tape along each of the edges which have just been folded over. (Note: Do not cut off the excess zipper tape. It is typically woven, and it will unravel. Once the zipper has been sewn in, it will barely be noticeable.)

With zipper still zipped, align each cardigan front edge with the zipper tape, taking care to position the front edges of the cardigan where you want them to be. (Sometimes you want the zipper to be seen when it is zipped. Sometimes you want the zipper to be hidden when it is zipped. For the latter case, there will probably be some sort of special treatment on the front edges, such as a folded over placket, or an I-cord knit in, which will form the portion which will cover the zipper.) For my Murphy sweater, the front edges are made up of garter stitch which is two stitches wide. This particular stitch does not lend itself well to covering over a zipper, so I will be sewing my zipper in so that the zipper teeth will be seen when the zipper is closed. Also, this is how it is shown in the magazine photo.

When placing the zipper into position, it is also critical that any horizontal "lines" inherent in the garment match up. For instance, in my Murphy sweater, I want the part where the collar is attached to line up, that is, to be in the same position on the right side as it is on the left side. Similarly, the top edges should line up, and the bottom edges should line up when the zipper is closed. (The horizontal white strips shown in this next photo mark the places in which alignment is critical.) This photo shows the zipper taped in place, though I've added some stick pins to hold it together, too.Specific to this project, as I'm placing the zipper into my Murphy sweater, I am positioning the knitted fabric so that it is almost next to the zipper teeth (though not so close that it will interfere with the movement of the slider), and taking care so that the base of the collar on the left side lines up with the base of the collar on the right side. My Murphy sweater has a collar facing which will be folded over after the zipper is inserted, so I will align the top edges of my zipper to a position just below the fold line of the collar. Finally, I will make sure that my bottom edges are all even, too.

Press down firmly on the taped areas to allow the tape to adhere well. (If the assembly is allowed to sit for a few hours, the tape seems to become a bit tackier and adheres better. However, this also will make it be a bit "gummy", but for me, it is a small price to pay for the "help" in holding things together better.) Carefully unzip the zipper. I generally add many pins to keep the zipper/garment properly in place.

(Now a word about machine sewing versus hand sewing the zipper into place. Any zipper may be sewn in by hand. Only certain zipper installations allow for sewing in by machine. If the zipper is going to be hidden by a folded over or I-corded front edge, it will probably work best to sew by hand, since you don't want the machine stitching to ruin the look of the folded over facing, etc. An example of this can be found here. (Scroll down to the bottom of the linked page.) If the zipper isn't going to be hidden, and if the front edges of the garment have a bit of texture, such as seed stitch or garter stitch, then if a nice matching thread is selected, the zipper will lend itself well to being sewn in by machine. The stitches **may** be detected if studied closely, but for the most part, they are very difficult to see. These next photos illustrate this - all of these zippers were sewn in by machine, yet it is extremely difficult to see the lines of stitching.)(One drawback of machine stitching is that it may be more difficult than hand stitching to remove if any adjustments are required in the zipper installation. A couple of advantages, however, are that machine stitching is quite fast, and also very secure.)

Sew a stitching line on each side of the zipper as close to the front edge of the fabric as the garment allows. For my Murphy sweater, I sewed about 1/8" away from the edge of the knitting. I sewed mine using a sewing machine, standard straight stitch (2.5mm), though a longer stitch length (3.0 or 3.5mm) may be better for bulkier knits. If sewing by hand, use a backstitch, being careful to keep stitches from showing on the outside of the garment. (The following diagram illustrates how to do backstitch.)For machine sewing, stitch again about 3/16" away from first stitching to secure outside edges of zipper tape. For hand sewing, secure zipper tape by using a hem stitch to attach it to the garment along the edges.

At this point, feel free to cover the inside of the zipper with your choice of trim. I've never used any sort of decorative covering over my zippers, because I think that if the zipper tape edges are secured neatly by hemming them in place, it already has a very clean finish...but using a nice trim to hide the inside of the zipper might be fun. Again, make sure to keep the edges of the trim far enough away from the zipper teeth to allow free movement of the slider.

For my Murphy sweater, I folded down the collar facing, and used matching thread to secure the front edges of the facing to the zipper tape, again making sure the slider moves freely. Now I'm ready to complete the rest of the sweater!

Feel free to let me know if any of this is confusing, or if anything is missing, or if you've found this information helpful, or if you have a better idea! Have fun!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)