Friday, December 29, 2006

The Fifth Day of Christmas

Dear Laura:

I was glad to hear that you had a great Christmas despite the sickness your boys had. We had some family members who were sick before Christmas, but it all seemed to have run its course by then.

We had a great Christmas as well. All 30 members of my immediate family gathered on Christmas Eve after church for our annual exchange...a wonderful time was had by all. Look at the great gift my niece gave me!!

I finished mom's scarf and mittens....earlier that afternoon. I was at the point of grafting the scarf together and blocking it, and just could not find the time. It got to be a lot more difficult that last week because my parents arrived on Wednesday, so I had to be sneaky.

Grafting is, as you may recall, a skill that eludes me. I've done it a few times, but was never that satisfied with the result, so my "dirty secret" as a knitter who teaches sock classes is that I use the 3-needle bind-off for toes! However, that was just not going to fly for this scarf.

I sat down at the table to begin. This picture shows the scene after I wisely decided to go get a lamp to improve visibility. (Note the towel on the chair next to the table, to be used to cover my work if my mom "dropped by!") My first attempt at this grafting had several points against it. First of all, there was not enough light, and second of all, I was reading the directions for grafting stockinette to stockinette, while my actual project was grafting stockinette to 2x2 rib.

This first attempt did not go well. The ripping out of this first attempt was actually pretty disastrous. Until this morning, when I checked the label, I was convinced that this yarn was a mohair blend, because it stuck together SO tenaciously. For the first time ever, I ended up CUTTING the yarn at a stuck point and then had to rip back several rows and reknit them. When I did look at the label, I was shocked to see "100% Wool!" Can't imagine how they got it off the sheep!

The second attempt, with more light and both sides being a stockinette row, I was able to successfully graft the pieces together. I did heed your advice to keep the grafting loose until I was done, and then tighten it. It was still quite a production, but I was happy with the result.

Here is an update on the "Not Christmas Knitting!"

1. Feather and Fan scarf for mom. This was completed and steam blocked, along with a matching pair of mittens. (I'll post a picture soon!)
2. Warm brown hat for middle brother. This was completed several weeks ago.
3. Socks for middle SIL (they are always doing something for me!) 2nd Sock finished, 1st sock 4" of cuff done.
Here's a picture of the progress. I'm using new double-points, which are really quite short. I really do like them, altho I would not if they were ANY bit shorter. And I have to watch because the stitches are prone to slipping off in transport. These will be a birthday gift in early Feb.

4. Fuzzy feet for niece-who-is-also my beautician. NOPE.
5. Tech guy socks with the Apple logo for my Mac-pusher friend. NOPE
6. Angora baby hat NOPE
7. I know, I know, there was no 7 on the original list. This was the soap sweaters that I hoped to make, and I did get two prototypes done and the pattern posted.

And just for kicks, I made this hat for my great-nieces birthday on December 21st! Chunky baby chenille that I picked up at a hobby store and knitted in a couple of hours. I also dug some fun yarn out of my "remanant" stash to make a quick scarf, but it has not progressed very far.

So, I need to finish the socks, the furry scarf and my Red Scarf project over the weekend so that I can begin THE NEW YEAR'S KNITTING. Time to finish up the 2006 Finished Object Gallery and start the 2007 Gallery!!


Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The fourth day of Christmas

Dear Cynthia,

We had a great Christmas, in spite of the fact that both kids have been sick, each with an illness different from the other. The sigh of relief I sighed yesterday when both kids were well again was quickly replaced by a sigh of irony today when my six year old started exhibiting symptoms of the illness his brother had just a few days ago. In any case, still, a great Christmas, for which I am very thankful!

DH's sweater fits him great, and the new zipper for it arrived on the 26th (which was the day **after** Christmas). I'm sure the zipper's arrival here was catalyzed by my sewing in a "temporary" zipper so that dh could actually wear the sweater; if not for me taking that step, I imagine I'd be waiting until Valentine's Day for the Dale zipper to arrive. DH really likes his sweater! I know this, because he told me he likes it voluntarily and without me first asking, "Do you like it?" After ten years of marriage, I know that this sort of unsolicited expression of "like" is truly saved for only those items which really impress him, so I think the sweater is a hit. Also, I think it was actually a surprise. In spite of the times I thought for sure he had seen it lying around the house, he never figured out what I was doing.....something about seeing sweater parts lying around the house all the time and always thinking they are for somebody apparently laying sweater parts in plain sight is enough of a common occurrence to actually be camouflage.

In any case, I'll show the zipper installation in the next week or so, and then we can all rest well knowing that the Hardangervidda will no longer have to be discussed. I know I'm a little tired of it.....

With all of that out of the way, I started a new sweater for myself. This is The Perfect Sweater pattern, though as a typical knitter often does, I'm changing the pattern, to make it even **more perfect** for myself. For Cascade 220, I like a looser gauge, so I'm working on size 8 needles and getting 4.5 stitches per inch, for a less dense, more drapey fabric. Of course, this throws off all of the numbers in the I'm doing some calculating along the way. Also, just for fun, I'm using a contrasting hem. This is the first time I've ever used a provisional cast-on by knitting into a crochet chain. I love the technique, even when I was "un-zipping" it and it snagged on one stitch (which was due to the fact that I had knit into the wrong part of the single crochet chain for that one stitch while casting on). Anyway, the explanation in the pattern is great, and I love the way the hem looks. The back is done, and I'm just starting the front...

And finally, in the "am I nuts?!" category after just finishing up the Hardangervidda, and sitting here with a nice gift certificate from my dh to a nice yarn store, I decided that I'm going to make myself a nice Norwegian sweater. I bought the pattern booklet for the 2007 Norwegian Ski Team (Sapporo), and I'm going to make the colorway shown in this picture which is second from the left. It's a great pattern, including hats and sweaters for infants through adults, and options for making raglan or dropped sleeves, so I expect to get a lot of use out of it. It's complicated enough for lots of interest, but appears to be less of a monster than Hardangervidda.....

Well, I hope this finds you well and enjoying the fourth day of Christmas!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Dear Cynthia,

Merry Christmas to me! I just finished Hardangervidda (while dh is at the grocery store). It is wrapped and under the tree, ready to be opened tonight after church and after the festive dinner which dh has made a Christmas Eve tradition for us -- fried shrimp, fries, green beans, and cheesecake (mac and cheese for the boys).

I blocked the shoulders and neckline, so now those areas are behaving much better (though I'll wash and re-block the entire thing when I have more time to let it dry, to benefit the sleeve seams and all of the hems). I sewed in the metal zipper so that dh may wear the sweater. When I get the Dale zipper, I'll show the intermediate steps as I sew that one in more securely. (Also, I'll let you know, Elizabeth, if my husband's reaction to this gift is one of worship...though I have to say I have my doubts :-)

I started this on September 27; I finished it on December 24th, of **the same year**. (It was a bit of a lofty goal for me with everything else going on around here, and also my complete lack of commitment to any one knitting project at any one given time. More on goals as I think about the new year later this week. Also, I realize that this completely pales in comparison to the Yarn Harlot who used this pattern for her Knitting Olympics project, completing it in something like 16 *days*.)

Anyway, after just completing three sweaters for gifts for the other three people who live in this house, I started a new and very easy sweater for myself in the car yesterday as we headed toward Milwaukee. My six year old asked me what I was making. I said a sweater. He asked who it was for. I said it was for me. He then asked how come I always make everything for myself..... Sigh.....

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!

Warmest regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

$1.65 or $1.79

Dear Cynthia,

Well, one of these days I'm going to show you the Hardangervidda all wrapped up, looking the way a nice gift should. Unfortunately, today is not that day.

I've made progress, but it is slow and painful. I have most of the neckline sewn down, and the right half of the placket is done. What do you think? Will anybody notice the cut edge on the left side if I just leave it like this because I am very tired of trying to find better light so that I may actually see what I'm doing on this very dark, black fabric? (This neckline will benefit greatly from some blocking, as the block ribbing on the outside tends to scrunch up a little bit, making the inside of the neckline pucker.)

Today, I bought two cheap zippers (thanks for your suggestion Elizabeth), and I'd like your help you decide which one I should go with (on a hopefully temporary basis, until the one I ordered, which actually says "Dale" someplace on it, arrives). My plan is to sew in the temporary zipper in such a way that I may easily remove it. (Care to place any bets on how that's going to work?)

Anyway, here are the two zipper choices:

The one in the top of the photo I'll call "$1.65". It is really a zipper for jeans, but I was attracted to it because it is metal, black, and seven inches. The one in the bottom of the photo I'll call "$1.79". I was attracted to this one because it is black, also seven inches, and the one my four year old found perusing the zipper rack after I told him I was looking for a zipper which is black and seven inches long.

So, what do you think?

Now, I have some finishing work to do.....

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The News, Good and Bad

Dear Cynthia,

What fun patterns you posted on our site! I'm so thankful for the nice response they seem to be getting, too! Also, a thank you to the commenters regarding my work on the Hardangervidda. It's gratifying to hear approval from others who know a little something about knitting (and from those who don't, too). And Elizabeth, you cracked me up -- not sure I'll get dh to wear it inside out to show off the sleeve facings.... I think I'll feel lucky if he doesn't think it's too itchy, which is the response I got from my six year old when I completed his Fana cardigan...

Well, I haven't posted in a week, and I wish I had more progress to show for it. I've been busy getting gifts ready for various people over the past week, mostly my gingerbread cookies, which I package up and give to the man who delivers our milk, various friends, and yesterday, our mailman....or so I thought it would be our mailman. I put some cookies into a cute little holiday bag, put them in the mailbox, put the flag up, and then waited in the house to make sure that our regular mailman would be the one who picked them up. Well, the man who delivered our mail yesterday was somebody else, though he did smile as he pulled the cookies out of the mailbox, probably thinking something about how great it was that he was subbing for our regular guy on this particular day..... Anyway, this afternoon I will watch and wait to see if our regular mailman delivers our mail, and if it is, I'll make a mad dash out to the street to hand deliver a package of cookies to him.....

So, the good news is that finishing Hardangervidda by Christmas is completely within reach at this point. The bad news is that the zipper which I ordered has been discontinued, and though there are several people who have scrambled to try to find and ship a suitable alternative from Dale of Norway, the soonest it will arrive is December 26th -- ironically, the day AFTER Christmas. Hmmm...what to do..... I'm still considering options, and if any readers have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.....

Both sleeves are on, so that leaves the neckline, which started out looking like the above photo. The front opening is cut in the region which is three black stitches wide. At the base of that region, there is a buttonhole, so the bottom of the placket has a finished edge which is just simply three bound off stitches. Then the sides of the placket are machine reinforced with two lines of stitches on each side of the placket. Then, the placket is *gasp* cut, but this was much less stressful than the cutting on the sleeves, because it is much more obvious exactly where the cut is to be made on the placket.

That done, stitches are picked up around the collar edge, and block ribbing is worked for a couple of inches, followed by a purl turning ridge, then stockinette to form the lining of the neckline. Phew. Okay, still with me? Then, stitches are picked up along one side of the placket, including up the side of the neck edge to the turning ridge, and a few rows are worked, then another turning ridge, then a facing, etc. I'm to the point now in which I have to knit one remaining side of the placket, then sew down all of the facings. It is a mess of curling edges and yarn tails right now, but in this photo, I've tried to pin it in place a little bit to give an idea of what it will look like when it is finished.

The very last steps are to sew in the zipper, then to sew down the inside facing of the neckline. I'll try to get much better photos tomorrow, after most of the hemming is done and I can work on achieving a better lighting arrangement.

As for now, it's time to watch for the mailman...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reversible Baby Hat

Lily’s Hat
A Pattern by Designated Knitter

This hat is knit from the tip to the brim, then the color changes and is knit from the brim to tip! It can be knit with a striping yarn on one end and a solid on the other, or with two solids or two coordinating stripes.

(This pattern is the property of DesignatedKnitter and may not be reproduced except for one copy for individual use. If you otherwise print or distribute this pattern without DesignatedKnitter's written permission, you are stealing.)


  • Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino (1) skein stripe and (1) skein solid
  • Set of (5) double-pointed needles, size 3
  • 16” circular needle, size 3
  • (4) stitch markers
  • Darning needle

    Gauge: 8 stitches per inch on #3 needles or size needed for guage.
    Finished hat is 17” around and 8” long.
    Directions are for size 6-18 months. (The hat can be made larger, but requires a second ball of solid yarn.)
    In order to make increases, knit in the front and back of each stitch (K1fb). Each increase row will add 8 stitches and each decrease row will decrease 8 stitches.
    Hat can be made larger or smaller by making more or less increases. Basically, increase until the hat is the circumference that you want.
    For size 0-6 months, increase to 120 stitches.
    For size 18 months – 4 years, increase to 152 stitches.
    For size 4 years to adult S, increase to 160 stitches
    For size adult M, increase to 168 stitches
    For size adult L, increase to 184 stitches.
    When working different size than pattern, when you are ready to decrease, divide work onto 4 dpns and place markers in the middle of each dpn. Start directions for decrease on Row 3

  • Cast on 8 stitches and arrange on (4) dpn, 2 stitches per needle. Join, being careful not to twist.

  • Work increases as follows:
  • Row 1: On each needle, K1fb, place marker, K1fb
  • Row 2: (and all even numbered rows)K around
  • Row 3: On each needle, K1fb, K to marker, K1fb, K to end of needle.
  • Alternate Row 2 & 3 until there are 136 stitches.
  • Switch to circular needle, and continue in stockinette stitch until you have knit an additional 7” (longer if you are doing a larger hat!)
  • Color change row:
  • K2TOG, yo around.
  • Join solid yarn.

  • Continue in stockinette stitch for 7”. (Or the same length as you did the stripe!)

    Work decreases as follows:
  • Row 1: With dpn, K2tog, K 15, place marker, K2tog, K to end of needle. Switch to next needle, and repeat process 3 more times.
  • Row 2: K around
  • Row 3: On each needle, K2tog, K to marker, K2tog, K to end of needle.

  • Alternate Row 2 and 3 until 8 stitches remain.
  • Cut 6” tail, and draw tail through remaining 8 stitches and pull closed.
  • Weave in end.

  • Knitting at Lunch.....

    I am lucky enough to work with two fellow fiber bloggers! Knitting @ Lunch and Crocheting at My Own Pace are co-workers, and we decided about a month ago to knit for an hour every Mon, Wed and Fri so that we could get all of our Christmas projects done. (Not that I'm doing any Christmas knitting - no siree....)

    Knitting at Lunch is working on a scarf for her mother - this is a commission project.

    Her mother chose and bought the yarn, a lovely rich burgundy Manos de Uruguay. Yum!

    Crochet is working on a blanket that is SO soft - and

    since it's crochet with a big hook, it's going really quickly.

    I am, of course, focused on the scarf and mittens for my mother. (If pushed, I would have to admit that these are "Christmas Knitting" since I have her name in the exchange and these are her present. But let's not quibble about a technicality, ok??)
    However yesterday...well, my attention was perhaps a bit scattered. Not only was I working on something besides the scarf, I was cross-crafting!!

    I decided to quickly crochet a pair of mittens from some beloved stash yarn for a Secret Santa gift.

    (I know it sounds suspiciously like Christmas knitting, but we're not quibbling, remember?? Plus, it's crochet!) In addition, I wanted to get a free pattern up on the web-site, and I wanted a picture "in progress," so I was switching back and forth. Hmm, was that 2 sc in the next sc or Kfb in next 2 st?

    I do have the pattern up now, and as far as I know it's my own invention. I read this about sweaters on soap, but it was about liquid soap. It intrigued me tho, the thought of a bar of soap wrapped in wool. I did find this site where you truly "felt" fiber around the soap, but I had knitting in mind. So, viola! Soap Sweaters!

    This is a great last-minute project (takes me an hour to an hour and a half for a bar) and is really inexpensive. I bought a skein of Cascade 220 and that would to do a BUNCH of them, but you can also just use up scraps of wool. Leftovers from Lambs Pride or Noro would be great! I had some glycerin bars from Bath & Body Works that I had accumulated during sales, but I also used regular bar soap!

    I tried the green one out for a week or two and I loved it. It lathers up and is a scrubby, and it doesn't leave a mess on the sink. So, Merry Christmas from the Designated Knitter!

    Keep knitting!

    Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Great last-minute gift!


    A pattern by Designated Knitter
    This pattern results in a bar of soap which is encased in knitted fabric – it should be a fairly snug fit. As the soap is used, warm/hot water and agitation will felt the fabric around the soap, and it will shrink around the soap. You have both lather and scrubbing action, and the sweater keeps the soapy liquid from leaving a mess on the sink.
    (This pattern is the property of DesignatedKnitter and may not be reproduced except for one copy for individual use. If you otherwise print or distribute this pattern without DesignatedKnitter's written permission, you are stealing.)
    Abbreviation note: Kfb is Knit into the Front & Back of the stitch. An explanation of this technique (with video support) is available at this link.

  • Cascade 220 (or 100% wool, worsted weight which felts well. Lambs Pride, Noro, Manos would all work well. Be sure you do not have superwash or a blend with cotton or acrylic as these will not felt. The addition of mohair actually helps the felting, so those yarns are good as well.)
  • Size 8 DPN’s
  • Bar of Soap (Bath & Body Works Glycerin Soap or any soap you choose.)

  • Cast on 6 stitches on one DPN.
  • Row 1 – Kfb, pick up new needle, Kfb 2, pick up new needle, Kfb, pick up new needle, Kfb2.
  • Round 2 – Join, being careful not to twist. Knit round.
  • Round 3 – Needle 1: Kfb 2 (4 on needle) Needle 2: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (6 on needle) Needle 3: Kfb 2 (4 on needle) Needle 4: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (6 on needle)
  • Round 4 – Knit around
  • Round 5 - Needle 1: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (6 on needle) Needle 2: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (8 on needle) Needle 3: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (6 on needle) Needle 4: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (8 on needle)
  • Round 6 – Knit around
  • Round 7 - Needle 1: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 2: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (10 on needle) Needle 3: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 4: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (10 on needle)
  • Round 8 - Needle 1: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 2: Kfb, knit to last stitch, Kfb (12 on needle) Needle 3: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 4: Knit (10 on needle)

    Knit around until soap begins to narrow. (Mine was about 8 rows even)
  • Work decreases as follows:
  • Round 1 - Needle 1: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 2: SSK, knit to last stitch, K2tog (10 on needle) Needle 3: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 4: Knit (10 on needle)
  • Round 2 - Knit around(put soap into sweater and work final rows around the soap.
  • Round 3 - Needle 1: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 2: SSK, knit to last stitch, K2tog (8 on needle) Needle 3: Knit (6 on needle) Needle 4: SSK, knit to last stitch, K2tog (8 on needle)
  • Round 4 – Knit around
  • Round 5 - Needle 1: SSK, K2tog (4 on needle) Needle 2: SSK, knit to last stitch, K2tog (6 on needle) Needle 3: SSK, K2tog (4 on needle) Needle 4: SSK, knit to last stitch, K2tog (6 on needle)
  • Round 6 – Knit around
  • Round 7 - K2tog all the way around.

  • Break the yarn and use darning needle to draw yarn through the stitches.
  • Pull tight.
  • Weave in ends.

    This is a stitch-by-stitch pattern of how I made the soap sweater for a bar of Bath & Body Glycerin soap. (Shown in green sweater.) The tan sweater is a rectangular bar of soap – the pattern is generally the same, I just did the increases & decreases more quickly (no knit rows between increases or decreases) so that the ends were shorter. With this pattern as a beginning point, you can fit a sweater to any soap shape or size.
  • So far, no crying...

    Dear Cynthia,

    Things are going smoothly in "attaching sleeves to sweater land". At this point, I am halfway done attaching sleeves to the Hardangervidda. In other words, one down, one to go.

    At the very top of these sleeves, the directions say to work in reverse stockinette for several rows, and this is what will become the facing which is sewn down on the inside of the sweater. I'm not sure my pictures and explanation will be coherent, but I'll try anyway. Here is a look at the reverse stockinette on the top of a sleeve:
    However, before installing the sleeve into the sweater, I had to sew the shoulder seam. Following a small illustration in the pattern book, this was done with sort of an overcast stitch from the outside of the garment. It's true what they say about pictures, and being worth 1000 words... I think it looks nice, though will require blocking, because right now it doesn't lay very flat unless I'm holding it down in order to take a picture...Here's a snap taken when there were only a few inches more to go to finish sewing the sleeve in place. The part to the right of the tee pin is the sleeve already sewn to the sweater body. The part to the left of the tee pin shows the facing, which will be folded in as I stitch the purl bumps (from the first row of reverse stockinette at the top of the sleeve) to the sweater body. Once the sleeve is in place, I sewed the facing down to cover all of the raw edges on the inside. Doesn't it make a nice finish on the inside? It's tedious, and we all know how I feel about finishing work on sweaters, but I think it's worth the effort.And finally, the sleeve, completely installed:I have another one to install today... Then, hopefully tomorrow, I'll start working on the neckline and front placket...

    Well, I'd better get lunch on the table. My four year old and I are going over to the school where my six year old is, because they are building gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and assorted candies today, and parents are allowed to participate, and my son's very nice teacher sent a note home to me indicating it would be okay to bring my four year old that will be fun, or interesting -- hopefully both...

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    A woman preparing to cut her knitting...

    Dear Cynthia,

    This week is the big push to finish Hardangervidda! My goal for today is to sew in a sleeve. Given my speed of seaming, and all of the picky stuff with the seam facings which are part of this pattern, it is a lofty goal for me...but I got started on it this morning.

    First, I measured the top of a sleeve about ten times and carefully marked how far down from the top of the sweater body I'd have to cut in order to fit the sleeve into the resulting opening. I also placed the sleeve next to the body of the sweater to double check that it looked right. The idea here is to measure twenty times, machine stitch and cut once (because I don't want this to end with anybody (me) crying because an armhole is the wrong size).Then, I put pins along what would be my cutting line in the sweater body. Two knit stitches out from this center cutting line is where I would be machine stitching, so I placed additional pins to mark my actual machine stitching lines. (The stitching lines have four knit stitches between them, and the machine stitches go across those four knit stitches at the bottom of the opening.) I machine stitched once, and then I machine stitched again, just inside of the first stitching, about half of a knit stitch over.
    Finally, I cut the opening for my first sleeve. The rest of the day will be spent sewing the shoulder seam, placing the sleeve into the armhole, stitching it in place, and then loosely sewing down the facing on the inside. As I go, I'll take some photos to hopefully show in my next post.

    Wish me luck!

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Two Down...

    Dear Cynthia,
    Catapulted by the relief of getting my four year old's Christmas gift brown sweater sewn together, tonight I finished sewing together the blue sweater for my six year old. And, it is just in time, because today we got our tree. I was thinking that I'd wrap the sweaters and put them under the tree, where they will wait to be opened until Christmas Eve, when we exchange our family gifts with each other. The boys would be so excited to see a present under there for each of them...

    Also shown in the picture are four premie hats, reinforcing my confidence in the power of math. The directions for the hats say that it takes 3/4 of an ounce to make one hat, and I had a three ounce skein of yarn, so four hats -- exactly correct, with very little yarn left over. I'm going to try to mail these out on Monday.

    Regarding Hardangervidda...the last remaining gift sweater...and the most complicated saved for last... Before Thanksgiving, I special ordered a zipper for the front placket, which is not here yet. I decided that I wanted it to be an official Dale of Norway zipper with a really nice zipper pull, and nobody in town had it in stock, so one of the local shops placed an order for me. I'm not ready for it yet, but hopefully I will be by the end of next week. The sleeves are blocking right now, and then I must do some machine stitching followed by some cutting in the body of the sweater in the locations where the sleeves will go. I'm nervous already.

    Well, tomorrow after church I have a lot of baking to do, so I'd better get some rest. I hope you had a great trip!

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Road trip......

    Dear Laura:

    I believe that I've posted before that one of the....interesting..... things about being in my family is the phenomenon of the "last minute road trip." Those of us who are "genetic" Halls are up for a road trip on less than an hour's notice - anytime. Just ask. Those who have married into the family - not so much.

    This doesn't really count as "last minute" since I've got 6 hours before we leave, and I had an idea that it MIGHT happen as early as 6:30 this morning....but I'm going to Kentucky this afternoon. It's about a 7 hour ride (knitting time!) but only about 2 hours with any kind of daylight, so I'm going to have to come up with an appropriate project.

    I'll be able to work on my "not Christmas Knitting" scarf whenever it is daylight, but nothing else on my list qualifies. Hmm, wonder if I have time for a yarn run - I could work on a scarf for the Red Scarf Project.....

    I'll keep you posted!
    Keep knitting!
    Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    One down...

    Dear Cynthia,

    Well, for somebody who **isn't** doing any Christmas knitting, you certainly are getting a lot done!

    I have one finished Christmas gift sweater to show you! This one is for my four year old, to match his big brown eyes. When I changed colors in the ribbing for the stripes, for the first row of each new color, I knit one row, then continued with the ribbing as established on the second row of each new color. Otherwise, there would have been little purl bumps of contrasting color showing at each color change, which sometimes is a look a person might be going for, but I just wanted plain solid stripes on this sweater. It "seems" to take forever for me to sew "seams". Somebody once told me that at the first inkling that something looks a little bit funny as you are seaming, rip it out right away. Not sure that was the best advice for me, because it's often three steps forward, one step back as I'm sewing along..... Also, I might be a little bit out of practice.....

    Also shown in the first photo are two and three quarter premie caps. I read about a project on BaxterKnits, and having an extra skein of yarn, and now some extra time (I'll explain in a minute), I thought I'd knit as many as I could get out of one skein. The total will be three for sure, possibly four.

    Finally, I'm filled with a great sense of relief right now. I had my fourth unit test last night in my Developmental Psychology class. The final was scheduled for next Tuesday, and it was to be cumulative, covering 25 chapters in a very large book, and worth 40 percent of our grade. And so, after our test last night, the teacher asked the class, "Do you guys want a final exam?" I was stunned, but at least the other people in the class had the presence of mind to say, "No". And so it is. No final exam, and I am done for the semester! I can't tell you how much this frees up my time this week!! Which is a good thing...because today I took a little look around the house, and beginning tomorrow, I must start addressing some of the chaos, because it is affecting my emotional well-being. Every once in a while, when things seem out of control, it's as though I reach a threshold, and I think I'm there, and so tomorrow I'm going to spend some serious time trying to get a handle on all things domestic.

    Perhaps I'll try to sew another sweater together, too. That also helps alleviate some of the chaos I'm feeling...

    Have a great Friday! Stay warm! It's about six degrees F here right now.....

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Still not Christmas Knitting........

    Dear Laura:

    I do not envy you the finishing! Maybe that's why I do so many scarves, hats and socks. Weave in the ends and off you go! When I do knit a sweater, I'm very fond of the "knit it all in one piece" method. However, I always drool over the beautiful sweaters that you produce, so I do believe that all the finishing work is worth the effort.

    Here's an update on the "not Christmas Knitting:"

    1. Feather and Fan scarf for mom (note that this pattern does not lend itself to multi-tasking. You answer a question while knitting a pattern row,'s just not pretty.) NOTE: This scarf is going to be 3 skeins. 1.3 are knitted up AND I've bought yarn to add a pair of matching mittens.

    2. Warm brown hat for middle brother DONE
    3. Socks for middle SIL (they are always doing something for me!) 2nd Sock finished, 1st sock 1" of cuff done.

    4. Fuzzy feet for niece-who-is-also my beautician Hmmm, we'll see......
    5. Tech guy socks with the Apple logo for my Mac-pusher friend. HA - I bought yarn, but it's fingering weight and the pattern calls for sport weight. This will likely be the first project to drop off the list.
    6. Angora baby know, we draw names for the exchange on Thursday, and if I get one of the baby girls...and then I could do a little sweater or some socks, or mittens.... Well, I didn't get either of their names for Christmas, so this is probably off. But maybe if I did TWO hats, so both would get one....
    7. I know, I know, there was no 7 on the original list. But I need - oh say - a dozen "little gifts" to pass out at work, and I have this experimental project.....more about that later.

    I was happy with my progress this weekend, so I'm not freaking out. Of course, what would I have to freak out about - I'm not doing any Christmas knitting.....

    Keep knitting!

    Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)


    Dear Cynthia,

    I was able to find some size 15 dpn's, which I love, at Lakeside Fibers! And, as an added bonus, they are from a company in Milwaukee called Lakewood Needle Company. Of course, I bought them only hours before I read Elizabeth's comment with her great idea to make dpn's by using a dowel, a pencil sharpener, some sand paper, and some parafin. I'm going to try her idea, anyway, except with a different diameter dowel, because I think it would be a fun thing to try.

    Anyway, the new needles enabled the completion of the hat. It is much needed today, as the temperature was about 9 degrees F at the bus stop this morning. Not sure what the other mothers thought about the hat, but I really like it. For one thing, it is quite warm, especially with the ear flaps. For another thing, I think it's just fun.

    I've also made some progress on the socks I'm making for my mom's friend. This is the lady who has given me six hanks of Lorna's Laces sock yarns, a bunch of other very nice yarn, about a dozen pattern books and magazines, and most recently, this needle organizer stocked with the circular knitting needles shown. The socks seem a bit on the loose side, but most of my socks seem to tighten up after a trip through the washing machine, so I'll try that with these. I'm almost halfway done with the second sock.

    Again, I want to thank our commenters! They always make me smile!

    Marie, I'm so glad that you find lifelines helpful. I think I first read about the technique in one of the Yarn Harlot's books, and I would have pulled all of my hair out last summer if it wasn't for lifelines. They remind me of buying insurance...

    Regarding the hem on the Hardangervidda, the pattern calls for twelve rows of stockinette at the start (bottom) of the sweater, then one row of purl, then back to stockinette. The row of purl is called a "turning ridge", so the bottom of the sweater folds very nicely back onto itself at the point of this turning ridge. Holding this "hem" in place, and using the same yarn as I'm using to knit the sweater, I carefully hand-sew the hem in place. I'm not sure if I'm being very clear about this. Let me know if you would like more clarification.

    Well, so much to do today, and so little time. I'm sure it's the same for you!

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Finishing (a misnomer)

    Dear Cynthia,

    This post really isn't about the finishing of the three Christmas gift sweaters. It is really about the starting of the finishing.

    There is the weaving in of gobs of ends:There is the hemming:And there is much more not yet done, future blog material, for another day or month or so.

    In the meantime, a knitter still must have projects to tote around town, so watch this space for several little projects over the next few weeks, made from stash yarns and providing almost instant gratification. The first one is this little Elf Cap from Handknit Holidays. (I checked this book out of the library, and now am trying to make several of the nice little projects in it before I must return it.) I think if I owned the correct needles (and it's hard for me to believe my needle collection is actually not complete), I could have knocked this out in two hours or less. However, it turns out that **finding** size 15 double pointed needles (in order to knit the pointy top of the cap) is the hardest part of the project. In fact, I called one store (which happens to have a feminine name rhyming with "low fans" and which is open until 10:00pm during the holiday season) to find out if they had some. The nice person on the other end of the line told me that they carried three different kinds of them, but they all had "a little string connecting them together at the bottom". Of course, those won't work, because I was looking for the double pointed needles which aren't connected to each other (not having the word "circular" on the package), and which have at least four to a set..... I know Lakeside Fibers has them, so next week when I'm on that side of town..... It's not like I'm going to run out of other things to knit around here.

    Anyway, time to get this place cleaned up a little bit. And then, there will be the blocking of the blue "circle square triangle" sweater parts. Have I mentioned that I really don't enjoy finishing? I really, really like the part in which it's finished, but the finishing, not so much...

    Warm regards,
    Laura (YarnThrower)