Saturday, January 30, 2010

You should probably sit down before you read this.....

Greetings and Dear Laura: I know, you're already in a dead faint that I'm posting again so soon! But that's not why you should be sitting down, and maybe have a stiff drink nearby. I'm about to talk about something that frankly makes knitters with healthy stashes break out in hives and get lightheaded.


*Deep Breaths*

A few weeks ago, my mom asked me about some small holes in her
felted mittens. You can imagine the panic and dread when I saw those obvious moth holes. I mean, altho I have my own apartment, we live in the same house! And apparently we've been sharing it with some wool eaters.

I went into rescue mode. I gathered all the wool items, washed them in my Eucalyptus wash, and stuck them in the freezer. Then I started sorting my stash, and putting all of the wool into space bags and sucking the air out. I started calling family members looking for freezer space, because weeks and weeks of very cold temperatures, it had warmed up and we spent two weeks or so above freezing. All of the snow melted, and everything was muddy. I put the first batch of space bags in a freezer at my sil's and left them there for a week. (The treatments I read about said 2-3 days, but I didn't have time during the week to get them back!) In the end, I could see the forecast finally getting colder, so I waited until this weekend for the rest. I've loaded up all the wool into my car, and I'm parking outside. With lows in the single digits and highs around 20, any little pests should be dead.

The up side of this process has been the fun of playing with my stash. I did at one point read that wool blends are not at risk, but I had put most of those in the first batch, so they've been frozen anyway. I ended up with four categories, and I have pictures.

1. Less-than-full skeins and leftover balls of wool yarn.

2. Wool and wool blends, bagged with all the air sucked out, have been added.

3. One basket of acrylic and acrylic blends have been added.

4. Cotton yarn has been added.
Yes! This is my entire stash, in one place and here for all the world to see!!

Oh, and mom looks fabulous in her sweater, don't you think??
Keep knitting! Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Friday, January 29, 2010


Greetings and Dear Laura:

Oh, I love your Two Hearts sweater! The cables are beautiful. And you're rolling right along on those socks. For someone who has had all your time sucked into a vacuum, you're getting an amazing amount of knitting done!

Me? Not so much. January is always when I have to 'catch up' and finalize the financial stuff for my parents business. This year I was pretty up-to-date, but there is always a lot of reviewing and reconciling. At this time last year, I decided that it was definitely time to migrate them to a business software, and so I bought the Mac version and then spent 2 months unsuccessfully trying to move the old data into the new software. Long story short, I ended up using the old system for another year, and this year I've given up on having the history in the new software, and I'm just starting the year fresh. I'll finalize all the stuff this weekend and then we can ship it off to the accountant, and I'll be back to my usual schedule.

So, I have done SOME knitting, but not nearly as much as I would like. Cassidy?? It is ALMOST done. Truly. ALMOST!

(Sorry the picture is sideways - I thought I had that fixed!)

First of all, I should clear up the issue of the row count on that wonky neckline. I shared your surprise about the difference in the length with the same row-count. The answer is that it turns out my GOAL was to have the same row count. Seems there was a variance in the execution! ;) There WERE more rows on one side. In the end, I took my mom and the sweater in to Knitting Today, and Lea-Ann went over it with me. When my mom had the sweater on, it hung just fine and you really couldn't see a problem. Lea-Ann advised me to make the second button band the same length as the first and reblock a few areas. The other issue I had when she had the assembled sweater on was that the sleeves were about 2" too long. (And I made them 1" shorter than the pattern!)

Last weekend, I intended to do those finishing details, but, well, refer to paragraph 2. I did get the second button band done, and the collar, and then on Wednesday night I sewed the buttons in place and started shortening a sleeve. I did this several years ago for a friend who bought a sweater with sleeves that were way too long, and it's kind of a cool process.

The first time I tried to shorten sleeves, I found out that you really can't easily unravel from the cast-on edge. I ended up picking out the seams to the point I wanted and then cutting the sleeve off and only having to unravel one row. I picked up the stitches and worked a row, then bound off. I had in my head that I would do the same thing here, except that I had to cut in between cables, and knit down a 2" cuff. I vaguely considered the issue of the stitches being upside down, but didn't worry.

It has worked out pretty well. If you've never picked up stitches at the bottom and worked in the opposite direction, I will let you know that it shifts everything over by 1/2 a stitch. Therefore, I can see the line exactly where I did it, but it's where the cuff and cables meet, so I don't mind the effect. If I had messed up in any way, and cut too high into the cables, I would have been well and truly messed up. The thought of how casually I did this, waving my scissors around without a care still makes me break out in a cold sweat, but all's well that ends well.

I finished one sleeve and put it on a yarn holder so that I could try it on her to be sure of the length. It is spot-on perfect, and so I just need to do the knitting on the second sleeve, bind them off and ta-da! She will be wearing that sweater tomorrow! It looked really great on her last night, even with one short sleeve on DPNs. I almost took a picture, but I decided to wait until it is well and truly complete. Watch this space!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka DesignatedKnitter)

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, January 22, 2010

Two Hearts update

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I'm back in school, and that sucking sound you hear is the noise made by my time being vacuumed up by school work. I didn't meet all of my goals for break, knitting or otherwise (ran out of time before I ran out of "to do" items), though in terms of knitting, there was only one item left unfinished -- this pair of socks. Here's the status on those:
Bamboo yarn, good fit, my mindless knitting for when I'm waiting for something... FUN!

The reason I didn't finish the socks is because of my Two Hearts sweater, also FUN:
My sweaters tend to flare out at the waist, especially if I knit them with waist shaping. So, I've started doing only the top half of the waist shaping. So, for this sweater, I cast on enough stitches for a sweater which is four inches smaller than my standard bust dimension, and after knitting seven or eight inches, I started making increases every six rows. I'll continue increasing this way until I reach my bust dimension, and by then I'll be close to the point at which I will start armhole shaping.

Still wondering how your Cassidy is going...

Have a great weekend!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Hearts

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I am wondering how your mom's cardigan is faring right now. I felt terrible when I saw that the fronts were different lengths, and was surprised that it is even possible when the row count is the same....though I don't know why that would surprise me. Knitting, and especially gauge, has a mind of its own.....

Also, I want to thank you for your kind suggestion regarding the ugly socks. I didn't even think about toning down the color by combining it with a darker color of yarn. Until my mom said she would wear them if I finished them and gave them to her, I was thinking of just using two skeins of the same yarn, only starting at different points in the color repeat...sort of like those Kauni Cardigans which were so popular a couple of years ago... Anyway, one of these days I'll finish them, but I've totally been sidetracked by my new sweater.

Here is the first several inches of the first sleeve of Two Hearts:
My gauge is right on, and I'm happy with the way the cables are showing up. Thank you to Cindy G who gave me some peace of mind that the cables would 'pop' just fine using Lambs' Pride.

My first modification was to use size 5 and 8 needles, instead of the size 5 and 7 called for. I needed the size 8 size in order to get gauge, though I decided to knit the rolled edge section with the size 5's called for (without going up in needle size). By doing the rolled edge with needles so much smaller than the rest of the sweater, the rolled edge is well contained and really cinches the lower edge. I think this will be especially helpful when I make the body of the sweater, because the lower, rolled edge, looks a little bit sloppy in the photos in the book (in my opinion, anyway)...

My second modification is regarding the sleeve increases. I'm not going to make the sleeves as big around as the pattern calls for, so I'm increasing every six rows until the length is sufficient to go from my wrist to my armpit. I'm changing them to be set-in rather than modified drop. I'll discuss that more in my next post.

Here's a picture taken while we were making lefse at my mil's house, which I am including just so that there is another picture in this blog post:
So, DH was driving the boys around in the van last Friday evening and was hit from behind by a large pick-up truck having a brush guard on the front of it. All people walked away from the accident. Our van didn't fare so well. The bumper was sliced in half, and the tailgate was completely pushed in, window shattered so badly that the estimator couldn't even tell if it had a defroster in it. Nothing screams "My vehicle was in an accident" more loudly than driving around in a car which has rather large "Gates Auto Body -- Free Loaner Cars" decals on the front, back, and both sides, though that is the state of things, and frankly, I'm just relieved we have a vehicle to use.

My boys have an "early release" from school today, so we're going ice skating this afternoon. Kids keep a person young, that's for sure, and also, kids keep a person tired...

I hope I haven't put anybody into shock by posting multiple times in one week!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goals update

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

First, some pictures of my new Basic Chic Hoodie:
I love love love this sweater.
I am also sporting my sorely needed haircut, the first one since summer I think... One thing remains constant -- my devotion to bathroom mirror shots for my finished object photos. I had to clean the mirror before taking the pictures...

I went yarn shopping with my mom, to a cute little store in Burlington called Artistic Fibers. Look at this cute little package of stuff:
The lady at the store wrapped up the yarn we bought with tissue paper and a store sticker, then placed the packets into a little bag with handles. It was a nice touch, which reminded me of how things might have been years ago, even though it was generating paper waste (though I'll recycle most of it...) In any case, here is some yarn for a new hat for myself (pattern: Thorpe):
...and some new socks (LOVE the Regia Stretch sock yarn!):
...and some buttons which I loved, though have no project in mind for them right now:
You know me, and how difficult it is for me to purchase anything without some clear vision about how it is going to be used, so I really went outside my comfort zone to buy the buttons -- THAT is how much I loved them!

Finally, the cover sweater on this magazine totally grabbed me:
It only has two sizes (33.5" and 36.75"), though I think the 36" will work for me. I was surprised by the sizing! It is a European magazine, but surely they have people with busts larger than 36" over there?

One of the four knitting goals I had for my semester break was to re-start the "ugly sock." In fact, after discussing it with one knitting friend, she thought I could alternate skeins of yarn to get smaller stripes, which would tone down the whole color thing that's going on. I was about to do that when MollyBee left a comment to save the sock. Then my mom (Hi Mom!) also told me how much she loves them, so I'm going to proceed with them and gift them to my mom. After all of this, I'll probably run out of yarn before they are done...though it's a chance I'm taking as I press onward with them... To make this long story short, I'm calling that goal item complete.

This is my third (out of four, which was my goal) blog post for this break. I'll have an update on my new Two Hearts brown sweater in my next post. I'm already loving it, and I only have part of a sleeve finished.....

Have a great week!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

January already?

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Wow! You finished your sweater! It looks great - I can't wait to see a picture of you wearing it.

I do support your decision to rip the boldly colored Jaywalkers. If you don't like them now, and can't be talked into liking them, then you shouldn't put anymore effort into that yarn/pattern combo. I wonder about pairing them with a darker neutral yarn. Something like the sock on the cover of "A Cuff Above" - I can't wait to do those socks! Some kind of pattern that stripes or slip stitches with that yarn to tone it down....

I had to laugh when I read about your 'burning question' relating to my mom's sweater. I had to go and check - I've mentally written a post about it so many times that I couldn't believe I hadn't actually posted!! I'll try to catch up a bit....

The short answer to your question is: No.

I was optimistic about sewing the seams and making button bands and the neckline when I last posted. To be sure that it turned out nicely, I drove up to Knitting Today on the 22nd to get instruction and support for the finishing. Oh, and I bought some clips to hold the pieces in place instead of pins, and I'm now an avid fan of those!! Best thing since sliced bread! LeaAnn walked me through the steps and I headed home to sew.

And hit the wall. I was SO tired that night that I couldn't even think about anything knitting related. (My mom considered calling 911 when I told her I was too tired to knit!) She did, however, bring me down her checkbooks to fix up, and I realized that given the choice of a completed sweater or having her checkbook fixed, her presents wrapped for her, and food & cookies done for Christmas Eve, that she would not choose the sweater. So I put it aside, fixed the checkbook, wrapped the presents and baked cookies and other stuff over the next two evenings. And on Christmas morning, I gave her sweater pieces!

I did get the sweater sewn up, and I'm really happy with the seaming. That part was the best I've done! And then I started the button bands. I did the button-hole side first, since that one always gives me trouble. I picked up 107 stitches and it looks great - I like the button-holes and it doesn't pucker or pull. Then I started picking up stitches for the 2nd button band, and I couldn't get 107 stitches to work out. It was like I needed another 7-10 stitches, which was totally weird. So I carefully laid it out to see what was going on.

Oh. Problem at the neckline. May I just say that GAUGE LIES! I was freakishly (for me) meticulous about counting rows and pattern repeats so that these would match. Evidently, however, my gauge changed on one of my fronts. I do remember at one point thinking that I should be ready to bind off the neckline, but I didn't have enough rows, so I kept going. I hate when I ignore that nagging feeling!

I tried it on her as I was seaming, and it does fit nicely. I made the sleeves an inch shorter than the pattern, and so it turns out they are only about two inches too long. I've put it aside right now tho, because I want to take it up to LeaAnn to work out how to fix these things. I know I can shorten the sleeves - I've done that before, and I have an idea on the neckline, but I'd like her input. I've put in too much time and effort on this to have it look ratty because I fudged on the finishing!

I did finish the crochet mittens and gave that pair away. I have done the first mitten of another pair for myself, and I'm anxious to have them done.

I'm working on some kid sweaters - and I'm going to start a sweater for myself! I've decided on February Lady in Forest Green Dream in Color Smooshy. I can't wait to get started, I haven't done a sweater for myself since the first year that I was knitting! I'm debating whether to do 3/4 sleeves as the pattern is written or to lengthen them to full long sleeves. Other than that, I'm not planning any mods, but it's early....

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)
-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

First Goal Achieved

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Today was THE DAY! As soon as the boys got on their bus for school, I sat down and got rolling on the finishing of this, my Basic Chic Hoodie:
When I entered the finishing information into Ravelry, I noticed that I started this sweater one year ago, in January, 2009! The knitting on it has been complete for months on end; what a relief to have the finishing all done TODAY, too! It fits great, and I'll get a photo of me wearing it once it is all dry. I have it hovering over an air vent, which works surprisingly well in speeding up the whole drying process. I'd like to wear it tomorrow, as I'm meeting my mom to go to a yarn store...

Speaking of yarn stores, I am a gal without a sweater project, and I really miss knitting on a big sweater, especially when it is so frigid, I looked through several knitting books, and finally decided on Two Hearts, from the book "A Fine Fleece." I have several modifications planned for the pattern, including making the waist area a little smaller, knitting the sleeves (and possibly the body) in the round, and making the sleeves "set in" instead of "modified drop." I think that what really grabs me about the pattern is the wonderful cable on the front and back... Here is the yarn for this project:
I am hoping that it isn't *too* darkish for the cables to really pop, though I think it will be okay. One of the samples in the book is made out of a similar brown yarn, and I just really like the way it looks: two_hearts_lg.jpg

Well, it's time to jump start the laundry (don't think I can put up a blog post without saying something about the ever-present laundry...), and then begin my new sweater project!! More soon!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

The pictures of your sil's "girls" (are they her grandchildren?) are adorable!

My burning question, however, is whether or not your mom was able to try on her finished Chic Knits Cassidy sweater on Christmas Day.... I hope you all had a nice Christmas season!

Any knitting resolutions for the new year?

I have the next *two weeks off* before I start my *last* complete semester, possibly for the rest of my life... (I have no intentions of ever going back to school again, really...)

During these two weeks, my goals are:
1.) Finish Basic Chic Hoodie (only "finishing" remains)
2.) Finish 2nd sock of bamboo socks (pictures soon)
3.) Rip and restart the ugly socks.
4.) Post to the blog at least four times - that will give me incentive to jump start my knitting, as well as share with you all of the progress I'm making on getting my dumpy house in order. A year and a half of neglect since I started school is really starting to catch up with it...though I confess a certain desensitization to disorder which has taken place in my psyche.
Some discussion about the ugly socks... From those of you who commented, and also two knitters I regularly see on the bus, the colors are bold, and for the right person, they would be perfect. The first comments from the ladies on the bus were, "I like the pattern," which I think is a nice way to say, "Whoa, those are bright and not my thing," though they encouraged me to continue on with the Jaywalkers pattern, saying that it was not the fault of the pattern that the colors are so bold. However, I'm with Marit, that if I'm already afraid I'm going to run out of yarn and I've just gotten past the heel, probably best to rip. Also, I keep coming back to the queasy feeling I have when I look at the sock in progress and think to myself how much better I think they would look in more of a basic stripe (non-chevron). So, I'm keeping the socks, and dumping the pattern, though it is a lovely pattern, I honestly don't think it's for me, even in a different yarn. Crazy, but I just really like a nice, vanilla sock!

My sister and I were playing around with the "Photo Booth" on the Mac using the special effects. Here is our self portrait in "x-ray":
Here is "comic book":
So, I'm watching Brett Favre right now (I mean the Vikings), waiting for Green Bay to begin at 3:15. It's a frozen tundra outside of our house, and I'm thankful that I'll have a pot of soup simmering on the stove in a short while and I can hunker down for the rest of the day. Nice to *finally* have a day in which I actually have a chance to take a nap...

Have the best 2010 ever!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)