Friday, October 31, 2008

Zipper Zany (AAUGH)

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

School has been keeping me very busy, though I'm still enjoying it quite a bit. (It's going extremely fast! I've already completely nine weeks this semester, with six weeks of classes and a week of finals left.)

The past two weeks, I've been learning about muscle testing, neural tension testing, and lots of other stuff, but my biggest "take-away" so far in the PT program is that my own body is weak and full of tension. I'm assured that at some point, we'll learn how to fix all of these things. For the time being, I just have to laugh.

I LOVE taking the bus. Sometimes it is a bit of a "multisensory" experience, but it is a very social thing, relaxing, convenient, and has the added benefit of me not having to remember where I parked my car.

My knitting/blog reading is a bit sporadic, though a great way to relax when I have a few minutes. I sewed Ibenholt together completely (YAY! -- sleeves are attached to the body of the sweater, all but a few ends woven in), then whip stitched the front edges together (using thread in a contrasting color) in preparation for zipper installation:With all of the patterning in this sweater, it is critical that the cables are aligned on each side of the zipper, and sewing the fronts together before installing the zipper will assure this. (Plus, it was called for in the pattern.)

I needed a zipper which was 19", though my only available choices (without spending a lot for a custom zipper) were 18" or 20", so I violated my own cardinal rule and went with the longer length, thinking that I could extend the zipper into the one-inch undercollar, which can sort of be seen in this next photo:
The "undercollar" is an area in which there are only two ribbing stitches between cables, and it runs for about an inch. Then, the pattern is changed so that there are three ribbing stitches between each cable, so the collar flares/fans out a little bit.

I sewed the zipper into the sweater by machine, then removed the stitches which were basting the fronts together. It looked fine when completely zipped up. When unzipped, however, I thought the black zipper tape was just too much, especially at the neckline. So, I sewed a ribbon to cover the edges of the black zipper tape:
Don't get too attached to this photo, because I've already taken it all out! I hated the way it looked, and didn't like it that the ribbon ended one inch into the cabled section of the collar -- even though it is technically an "undercollar," it still looked ridiculous to end an inch after the start of the cables. It would be much more natural for it to end at the base of the collar, where the stitches are initially picked up.

So, I'm going to switch to the shorter zipper. This should alleviate a small amount of puckering which occured along the front edges, too, and if I'm extremely careful to not stretch the front even one iota as I'm sewing the zipper in, the length just might work... AAUGH!

Now, I need help deciding if I should change to a pink zipper, or the non-metallic black one shown below. What do you think?
My kids have off from school today. I have just a couple of finishing touches to sew today for their Halloween costumes, and we'll get together with friends to go Trick-or-Treating tonight. I bought candy to pass out at the house, but we're not going to be here, so oh well. (A few years ago, I tried putting out the candy in a big bowl with a note for the kids to limit themselves to one piece each, but apparently kids these days can't read and the candy mysteriously disappeared in record time, so I'm not going to bother with that.)

I have a lot of progress to show on the Must Have Cardi, but will show that in another post.

I'm still going to get on my soap box about the importance of exercise, too, but want to think about that for a little bit. For now, suffice it to say that there are incredible benefits to staying active, and so I would encourage everybody to at least start walking, even if only ten minutes a day is what you can handle at first -- no matter how little you do, there is still benefit. You can even do other things while you're walking/running, such as plan your menus in your head, make a grocery list, study 53 manual muscle tests for a "skill check" on Monday (just sayin'), etc. There are many changes our bodies naturally progress through as we age, and activity is one of the best things we can do in order to slow some of those processes.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flat Feet Yarn!

Flat Feet Yarn!
Originally uploaded by designatedknitter

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Wow. I so did not get that sleeve done last night as planned. And I have no idea if I'll have it done by the party tonight. Of course, blocking it is out. Hmm, I don't think I should give a one-year-old a sweater with the sharp pointy needles in it... maybe I could put the stitches on some waste yarn.....

Anyway. I was at Knitting Off Broadway twice in the last week. The first time, I noticed several panels (like the one pictured) hanging with the sock yarn. I was curious, and stopped to look, but I couldn't figure out HOW ON EARTH someone could dye yarn that would knit up to look like that. The gauge would have to be incredibly exact to get everything to line up for the patterns....they even had some that looked like random drops of dye on a background color. I looked around for skeins that might have been used to knit these samples, but I didn't see anything. Oh well. Moved on to what I was looking for.

Then I went back on Saturday with Libertine Knits and I heard people talking about them, and then it clicked. These are not knitted samples of yarn. This is Flat Feet Yarn - skeins of yarn that you knit from! They are machine knit panels with waste yarn on the edges, not bound off. Then the PANELS are hand-dyed. When you are ready to knit, you simply start unraveling the panel, and knit with the yarn. Some of the designs are basically stripes, or diagonal stripes, or other simple type patterns. The panels that I bought are from a limited edition series of special graphics. (There is another identical panel underneath this - you get two panels joined together with waste yarn. If you want to knit your socks "two at a time" you just cut the panels apart at the waste yarn, and unravel from both!)

I simply would have never conceived of such a thing! It's just quirky enough to make me fork over the extra $6 beyond my "most I will pay for yarn for a pair of socks" limit. I am DYING to cast on, but alas, I really have to finish a Tulips cardigan. And a "Must Have Cardigan." And..... you get the idea.

So, keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, I'm closing in on finishing the Tulips Cardigan. As usual, the project would be going better if my brain were not half dead!

When I started this sweater, I needed size 4 & 6 needles. No problem, I have an entire set of Knit-Picks Options, which I LOVE! I am all about the slippery shiny metal with sharp points! I went to my handy storage case....and didn't have anything smaller than a size 10. I wandered around, checking UFO's for tips. Oddly, most of the needles in UFO's weren't part of the Options set. The truth is, when I finish a project, or finish swatching, I'm not very consistent about putting the tips back in the bag. I'll leave them in the basket with the yarn, or in the bag I was carrying the project in, etc.

I wanted to get started on this, so I turned to the lamp beside my chair. That's where I store my other circulars, dangling over the neck. (Knitters are usually amused by this lamp, non-knitters think it's weird.) I did manage to find the size 4 tips, so I was set for the edging. I found a size 6, 24" circular, and that worked fine for the body. When I got to the sleeves, I wanted to do magic loop instead of DPN's, so I made another search for the size 6 tips. I ended up with a size 6, 32" circular which was theoretically long enough for magic loop, but not long enough to do it comfortably. I decided that since this happens to me rather frequently, I would bite the bullet and order additional tips in size 5, 6 & 7, the most common ones that I can't find.

My first pass at a sleeve came while I was waiting for an additional colorway of yarn to arrive. When the yarn arrived, I was able to switch back to the body, and wait for the size 6 tips to arrive. I had hopes they would arrive on Friday, but no such luck. I did buckle down and finish the body and edging on Thursday, so Friday night I did a few sleeve rows with the 32" needle, then gave it up. The tips arrived on Saturday, but since I was out gallivanting with Libertine Knits (yay!) and enjoying Knitting at Lunch's wedding, no sleeve knitting happened! However, the tips did arrive while I was out and about.

Sunday, I sat down to conquer that first sleeve. I opened the package, put the tips on the 40" cable, and knit the sleeve from the short needle to the longer one. I turned to put the short needle on the lamp (you can see where this is going, can't you????) and there, dangling with the regular circular needles, I noticed the red cables of 2 Options needles. The size 6 and 7. Sitting there right beside me for the last 3 weeks. HOW I managed to search that conglomeration of needles and not notice them BEFORE - that remains a mystery.

But typical for me!

I finished that sleeve on Sunday, and before picking up the second sleeve, I stopped and wove in the ends. It looks much closer to "finished" without all those ends! Monday was busy however, and so now I am at Tuesday. The party is tomorrow. That means I have to finish the second sleeve, weave in those ends, and have it blocking e'er I sleep tonight!


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Oh! And I can't WAIT to show you the sock yarn I got!! Soon, I promise!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The heat is on.....

The heat is on.....
Originally uploaded by

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, it's officially fall. I arrived home last night to find the indoor temperature at 61 degrees, and I gave in and turned on the furnace. I was hoping to last until November, but I've fallen a bit short!

Whitny's Tulips cardigan is moving along nicely. In the end, I decided that I really wanted the purple color. I also had JUST ENOUGH of the light green "Spring Tickle" colorway to finish this sweater, while I have enough of the remaining colors to make 10 sweaters, so I needed to reorder that. Having checked all three local yarn shops that carry Dream in Color, (Knitting Today, Sarah Jane's Yarn Shoppe and Knitting Off Broadway) I found that Simply Socks stocked the colors that I needed. While she doesn't have a storefront operation, this still qualifies as local, since she operates her online order business just a few miles from Fort Wayne. My order arrived last night, and so now I only have one body stripe plus the sleeves and edging to go.

Knitting at Lunch is counting down the days to her wedding on Saturday! (Stop by and see the shawl that she cast-off last night!) I was asked to RSVP which project I would be working on at the wedding/reception, and so I had chosen this cardigan, but now I have hopes of finishing before then, so I've had to ask for permission to substitute if necessary. One of her out-of-town friends (who is also a knit-blogger!) is flying in on Friday night, and so Jessica & I are planning an LYS "Yarn Crawl" for Saturday before the wedding. (Lauren has decided that having her hair and nails done, etc is going to take precedence over yarn shopping! I guess so......) I'm looking forward to meeting a new knitter and sharing our great shops!

Meanwhile, keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cracker Jack Needles

Greetings and Dear Laura:

First of all - Thank you, Marit for your comment about my baby hat! It was worth the effort to get it right. Next time maybe I'll believe my own notes!

I know I haven't even mentioned the "Must Have Cardigan" lately, and you're probably almost done with yours....but I had to wait two weeks for
the yarn. The mill was having a hard time keeping up with the orders, which is a testimony to how wonderful it is! (I wish there was a way to let people feel the softness over the internet!)
Feel how soft that is???? I picked up the yarn last Saturday, but instead of casting on the Cardigan, I got a little side tracked.

My great-niece Whitny is turning 1 on the 29th, and I'd been considering what to knit for her. (I always knit for their first birthday!) While I was at
Knitting Today, I was completely tempted by the remaining "Dream In Color." (Ok, LeaAnn is SO smart - she has a laptop set up so you can check your Ravelry!) A quick check of my stash showed that I had 3 colors of the DIC Classy in stock, and so I purchased the 3 colors for the Tulip Cardigan that she had, and so long story short, I'm making a Tulip Cardigan for Whitny.
It's going pretty quickly, and I'm really enjoying it. Since I'm using 6 colors instead of 8, each stripe is 12 rows instead of 8. I have 4 1/2 stripes done, and hope to finish the body tonight. (Yes, it's an incredibly expensive baby sweater....but there are 4 more little girls in the family who don't have this sweater yet. Those will be free!)

I knitted a tulip sweater for my niece Missy, and I did the 9-month size that the kit allowed for. She is a 1 1/2 now, and she still wears it. (Don't you just love seeing a project in the wild? I stopped by one day last week and saw Missy toddling around wearing that sweater!) I bumped the size up to the 2-year for Whitny. It may be a bit big, but she should get lots of wear from it.

While I was at Knitting Today, I picked up a 40" #3 needle for magic looping some sport weight socks. I got the Hiya-Hiya needles, since I like them and they are priced right. I had recently noticed that my first set of needles had a sock pattern tucked in the package. I was curious, so I checked this package. This set included a stitch marker!
(I googled, and sure enough, each package includes a "promotional item.")

I'm gonna call them Crackerjack needles!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)


Originally uploaded by

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Whoo hoo! I have a finished object. A baby hat...but still.

I like to have several baby hats on hand for those 'last minute' baby gifts. It doesn't seem like something that takes 9 months should really be unexpected, but I have been grateful to have stash of these on several occasions!

This is my old standby, a "Fetching-Inspired" hat. I love Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for this. (When I make an adult hat, I like Debbie Bliss Cashmerino! Gotta love cashmere on your head!) I started this last spring, I think. It was always just something I worked on sporatically. I took it along on a road trip in late September. I finished it off on the way home, and held it up to show my brother (who offered to drive so I could knit! Best brother ever!)

He looked at it and said, "Awfully small baby." I tossed it to my SIL, who agreed that it was very small. No problem. I counted the stitches I had used (80) and frogged it and cast on again with 100, which did seem more like what I usually did. My brother asked what I was knitting now, and I showed him the ball of yarn that had been a hat a few minutes before. I said, "I'm knitting it over, but bigger."

His jaw dropped and he said, "You undid that whole hat???"

"Sure. It was too small."

He said, "I think I may puke!! All that work and you just ripped it out!?! I would have never said anything if I had known you'd do that!!"

There followed a lengthy discussion about process/product knitters, criteria for tinking, frogging and moving on, and loving to knit enough that you can re-knit a hat if need be. And for the record, if he had managed to make a major repair to a vehicle, and discovered he had done something wrong and it needed to be done again, he would most certainly re-do it. He would, however, be sick about it.

I finished the hat for the second time on Sunday evening. I noticed when I went to update my Ravelry that I had originally noted - "I cast on 100 as usual, but it looked large, so I frogged and cast on 80."

*rolled eyes*

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tightening up that purl stitch!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

I thought I would post a quick tip on how I was able to snug up that pesky purl stitch following the cable!

I have a book by Annie Modesitt on Combination Knitting. She does a hybrid of American and Continental knitting which is very fast for her. I use it sporatically, depending on the situation. I do really like it for situations of knit/purl patterns where I'm going to knit the knits and purl the purls on the reverse side. You'll see why.

You can follow this link to see Annie's illustrations. Basically, what you want to do for this purl stitch is to scoop the yarn UNDER the right needle instead of wrapping over the TOP of the right needle. After you've slid the stitch off the left needle, then you can snug it up a bit. Going under instead of over uses a wee bit less yarn, and makes that stitch a bit tighter. (This effect is why I don't use it all the time for stockinette stitch - it changes my gauge coming back.)

The other effect of this is that this stitch is now seated incorrectly on the needle. However, it's easy enough to correct on the next side by knitting that stitch through the back loop. I hardly even pay attention any more, I just automatically knit those stitches as they come. This is the reason that I don't use the method on a true seed stitch, where I will be purling that stitch on the next row. Purling through the back loop to correct the seat saves time for no one!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dangerous indeed....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Oh my - things got really busy for a few weeks! Two family reunions, including road trips, a funeral, followed by the Fall 4-H Fair where my niece and nephew showed animals. (And speaking of the fair, I checked out the open class crafting exhibit and once again, I swear I am going to knit something for the fair next year! There were only about four crochet/knit entries, and nothing that really seemed at all intricate or complicated. I'm thinking I could run away with it all if I did, say, the Hemlock Ring blanket....)

This was followed by weekend houseguests, a Tastefully Simple party, and plenty of housecleaning in preparation, all of which resulted in my collapsing in my chair all weekend.....well, just didn't have much time for posting! (And I've fallen into the old trap of trying to catch up 3 weeks in a single post. Silly me.)

Anyway. I did work on the Must Have Cardigan for my mom, and yes, it is a dangerous pattern! I struggled with the first sleeve - I think I did the first repeat of the pattern 6 times! After I ripped the second or third time, I copied the pertinent pattern information a bit smaller and taped it to index cards.

That did help, but after I got to the end of the first repeat again, I noticed that the first purl stitch after some of the cable sections was really loose. I frogged and tried again, and I was able to snug that up so that I was finally happy with the fabric and pattern. At this point I measured the width of the sleeve and instead of 9 1/2", I had 8".

I had gauge in stockinette! I already felt this fabric was as loose as I wanted it to be, especially since this is Cotton Fleece yarn, and so isn't as elastic as I might like. A bigger needle was out of the question. I threw up my hands and decided that this yarn/pattern combination was not going to work. However, I'm hooked on the pattern, so...

I made a trip to Knitting Today, and found a WONDERFUL new worsted wool. It's called "Shepherd's Wool" and it is incredibly soft for 100% wool. I can't imagine my mom would find it in any way "scratchy." So I've ordered this yarn - they only had 4 of the 6 balls that I needed, and some lady ahead of me had her hands on them, so I'm trying to wait patiently. Meanwhile, I have my Kiri Shawl to keep me busy, and lots of inspiration working.....

That's all for now!
Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)