Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lazy Summer Days

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Not much going on around here. I do have a couple of small finished things. I finished a pair of baby socks - these are just a basic "Infant Sock" pattern using leftover Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino. (I love that yarn! Generous skeins - I've done projects with it and still have plenty left to make baby sock gifts for ages!)
Also, I did a quick Baby Eyelet sock from the free pattern I have posted. I wanted one in a nice plain color so that the detail shows up.

So, that's what I've been up to...knitting and of course, Ravelry. Which I totally love. I'm about to sit down and do some project planning. I have five (COUNT THEM, FIVE) babies coming up to knit for...no, wait, if you count the project I'm working on now, it's SEVEN...and so I need to get organized. Also, it's really time to start looking at Christmas knitting...and I have a couple of projects for ME that I'd like to do, such as SOCKS for this winter. So, I'm looking forward to the organizational help from Ravelry.

(sigh) Having a job is RUINING my life! Think of all the knitting I could be doing! But to make it all happier, let me introduce Zeke. Our office mascot. Which shows what happens when someone brings a zucchini to work and leaves it on the candy table.
Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, July 27, 2007

From least prepared to most prepared...

in less than a week!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, my Baby Surprise Jacket is complete, except for a little steam blocking this evening. And the party isn't until tomorrow at noon. This is even better than the blanket, which I finished the day OF the party - but in the morning!

Without further ado...


Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket (using worsted-weight yarn for the 1-year-old size)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Solid
Colorway: Bold Red
Needles: Knit Picks Options size 7
Cast on: JUly 11, 2007
Complete: Julyy 27, 2007

I had a double-size skein of this yarn - when I rolled it into a ball, I had to split it into a small, medium and large ball. I'm sure that I used more than 1/2 the yarn, but I do still have a good quantity left.

The color is a bit brighter in person, more red than burgundy. I love the way the colors move from almost pink to a great red. I'm becoming more a fan of "almost solids!"

I used a provisional cast on for the stitches that comprise the cuff of the sleeve so that I could go back and pick up stitches to lengthen the sleeves. That worked out really well - I added 10 rows to each sleeve.

This is a really fun project - the first one made no sense as I was knitting, but this time I had an idea of what was going on.

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Button, button, let's pick a button!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Hello! Hope all is well with you and that you're surviving your class. Things are very calm around here lately and I love that! We also got a good rain last week and again yesterday, so now the grass has gone from "crunchy brown" to at least "mostly green!"

We had a mini-baby-shower yesterday for a friend from Work. Neither Lauren or I could attend her baby shower last weekend, so we met for lunch at Panera to have our own! It was lots of fun - we ended up with a "bath" theme. Lauren got a really cute "bath-toy storage" turtle and some lavender bath scent, and I got towels and a toy. Too fun.


Now I am all about finishing the baby surprise sweater. I got quite a bit done last night, and today at lunch. I may be able to finish tonight - for sure tomorrow night. That means that this birthday gift just might get blocked!

I knew that I would get to the button holes today, so I went through my button jar and brought some possibilities along.
The heart button was cute, but I'm hoping this sweater will be something she can wear also at Christmas, so that didn't work as well. The three-button set was the wrong color, but the two-buttons are just right, so that's what I went with. The button holes are worked now, so just 4 more rows to bind off. YAY!! Then I'm going to add some length to the sleeves, sew shoulder seams and add the buttons and it's ready to block.

I thought this morning that if I buckle down and get the ladybug sweater ready for Stitches and knock out those baby socks, by next week I can actually cast on a new project, WHATEVER I WANT, guilt free!

Then when I got to work, someone dropped off an invitation to a baby shower for a co-worker who is having twin girls. The shower is in two weeks. Good thing I have an ample supply of pink yarn. Can you say "worsted weight??"

Keep knitting!! Take your example from Lauren, who is back to "
Knitting at Lunch!"


Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Least prepared....

that I have ever been for an event.
Two pair of baby socks for a shower gift. One-half of a sock done. The shower is in an hour and a half. And I'm at work.

I'm going to have to stop and buy and gift on the way. I've given a gift "on-the-needles" before, and she is a knitter, but I just can't do half-a-sock out of four!!! You have to at least be "almost done!"

And I have a Baby Surprise Jacket due for a birthday party Saturday noon.

If anyone knows why I do these things to myself, I'm all ears!

Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, July 23, 2007

And home....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, I had a grand time this weekend. It was so much fun to take a road trip again and see my friends! The kids have all grown SO tall, and last year's baby is running now.

Saturday was so gorgeous - sunny and warm with a lovely breeze. We spent a few hours at the beach, which was very relaxing. I want a yarn that has all those blues!!


I also made a trip to the new yarn store in Kenosha called
Fiddlehead Yarns. The store is a nice size, very bright and airy with lots of great yarns. They have a generous selection of books and needles and tools, as well as bags and patterns. The walls are lined with square "cubbies" of yarn, and I greatly appreciated that each cubbie was labeled with the name, gauge, needle size and yardage. Also, many of the yarns had a knitted sample in the area. The samples were all clearly labeled with the name of the yarn, fiber content, and needle size used. And the bonus was the baseball game on the radio!!

The yarn was split between 2 rooms, and the back room featured a large table and chairs for classes or just for drop-in knitting. There were several knitters there, knitting and asking questions about their projects. The shop-person was very friendly and helpful, taking time to get them on track.

I chose 2 colors of Kureyon for my Lizard Ridge collection. She asked what I was going to do with the yarn, and when I told her, she asked how far along I am. I explained that I'm still collecting the yarn, and she pulled out her half-finished afghan from under the counter! It looks great, and I think it's wise that she is joining the pieces together as she goes, so that it's not a marathon finishing project at the end.

All in all, I could only think of 2 things that I would do differently. I am in an "interesting sock yarn" mood lately, so I would have liked to have seen that section be expanded. She had a good selection of Lorna's Laces, and several self-patterning yarns (including a nice selection of the Austerman Step) but I wasn't very tempted.

And the baseball game on the radio? It was a Cubs game, and I would have to arrange to have the Cardinal's games playing!!

So, other than the scary lion in the living room it was a grand weekend! (It was just too large for my comfort. I had "lion in my bedroom" nightmares as a child...the girls ASSURED me that it isn't real, but I don't like to take a chance when it comes to lions...)


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, July 20, 2007

On the Road Again.....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

My apologies to anyone who, like me, now has the Willie Nelson song stuck in their head! But hey, if I gotta - you gotta.

Thanks to all the commenters lately - I've enjoyed hearing from you. I appreciate the positive response to the Seaside Sweater - and Elizabeth - fun to hear that you share my "style!"

I've had a really stressful week somehow and that translates into a back-ache and not sleeping well and....ok...being irritable. I'm sure that no one noticed....(eek!) And I'm not even taking an intensive class or anything.

Anyway. The bright spot in the week was Sunday morning when I checked my email and found my
Ravelry invite! YAY!!! (NO - I did not skip church to start entering my stash!) I had taken a bunch of stash pictures and posted them on Flickr so that I would have a head start. I had also posted notes and tags about dye lot, color, yardage, gauge, stuff like that, and that was helpful. I did go back and retake some pictures after I found my tri-pod, because I could get much better color. Anyway, that did keep me occupied a lot this week.

I highly recommend signing up at the site to get on the waiting list. The good news is that they are making swift progress on the list. I expected to wait another 2-3 weeks! They're making a mad dash for the finish line to go out of Beta and be open to all, so that's good news.

I did get some knitting done - more progress on the Baby Surprise jacket, and I made three of my
Soap Sweaters for gifts. I keep tweaking the cables for interest. If I make many more of these, I'm going to need an auxilliary stitch dictionary to keep interested.


And now I'm off for a weekend trip to Kenosha, WI to visit friends. This last year has been an almost complete "no-travel" year for me. I used to pull out my suitcase in March and use it 2-3 weekends a month until November, and even in the winter I made occasional trips somewhere, but that has changed. I did have trouble with my car last fall, so other than a failed attempt to drive it for an overnighter in MI, it hasn't been on the road for almost 8 months. I'm excited to visit my friends and see how the kids have all grown! At least they were able to visit me a few times this year.....

And the other excitement is that since my last visit, a
yarn store has opened up in their town! So tomorrow will include S.tash E.nhancement X.pedition! I have really had withdrawal from hanging around a yarn store, even when I'm not buying. I still have to sit down and set up my "Yarn Store Rules" for this trip. One of the rules used to be not to buy anything while traveling that is readily available at my LYS, but that's not really an issue anymore. I will have set my budget carefully tho, because Stitches is only 2 weeks away (!) and there will be SO MUCH there.....

Just for some color to this post, here is the picture of my Kureyon stash....


And on that happy note, I leave you....

Keep knitting,

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

She's got style.......

Hey there!

I'm a bit blog-blocked, so I thought I'd try something different and shake it up a bit. Yes....a BLOG MEME!! But it's sort of knitting related - knowing someone's personal style preferences is very helpful information for a knitter.

Personal Style Quiz

Rules: You have to choose one of the two. You cannot answer "neither" or "both." You can indicate that you like both or neither, but you must state a preference.

Animal fiber or plant? Animal (Ok, I'm a wool girl. BUt in the summer I do love cotton!)

Natural or synthetic? Natural

Ornate or simple? Simple

Color or Neutral? Color (I know - you knew that.)

Pastel or Vibrant? Vibrant ;)

Blue/Green or Red/Orange? Red Orange

White Gold or Yellow Gold? Yellow Gold

Gems or texture? I'm about the sparkle!! Gems!

Watch or no-watch? No-watch

Comfort or fashion? Comfort

Trendy or classic? Classic

Cables or lace? This is a tough one, but I'm going to go cables.

Heels or flats? Flats

Flip-flops or sandals? FLIP-FLOPS ARE EVIL. Sandals

Skirts or pants? Pants

Geometric or floral? Geometric

V-neck or turtle-neck? I'm going with V-neck, but it's a change for me.

Skulls or butterflys? Neither really, but I'll choose butterflys. I don't get the skull thing.

Loose or snug? Loose.

Long hair or short? Short.

Headbands or barrettes? Hmm, headbands?

Shoulder bag or handbag? Shoulder bag!

Ok, that's it. Just a little something different for today. I tag Rebellious Pastor's Wife, Yarnthrower, Knitting at Lunch, Not Worthy and Homestead Lutheran Academy. If you'd like to join in, just leave a comment and link back to your blog, I'd love to see your answers!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Seaside Sweater Pattern

Seaside Sweater
A pattern by Designated Knitter
I designed this pattern in the Spring of 2007 as a store-pattern for Cass Street Depot in Fort Wayne Indiana. A short time later, the store went out of business and the owner returned the pattern rights to me. I've decided to offer it here as a free pattern - enjoy!
(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.)

Size – 2T
Finished Chest 26”
Gauge – 5” per inch on #7 or 8 needles
Cascade 220 – 1-2 skein Cream or other solid color
Lorna’s Laces – 1 skein Seaside (#203)

Pattern Stitches:
For Twisted Garter Stitch, knit all stitches through the back loop.
**Throughout the pattern, always slip the last stitch of each row with the yarn behind the work, and knit the first stitch of each row. This makes a nice selvedge for sewing.**

Using solid color, cast on 62 stitches. Work 7 rows Twisted Garter Stitch.
Public Side:
Knit across, slip last stitch.
Wrong Side:
K2 *P3, K2* to last five stitches, P3, K1, slip last stitch.
Repeat this pattern for 7”.
Join variegated color, and switch to plain stockinette stitch for 6 ½”

Knit as back until 5” past the color change, ending with a purl row.

Shape right side of neck:
Knit 25, SSK, turn.
Purl 2 tog, purl to end of row.
Knit 23, SSK, turn.
Purl 2 tog, purl to end of row.
Knit 21, SSK, turn.
Purl one row.
Continue in stockinette stitch until color section measures 6 ½” ending with a knit row. Cut yarn.
Slip next ten stitches onto holder, then join yarn.

Shape left side of neck:
K2tog, knit 25 to end of row.
Purl 24, purl 2 tog.
K2tog, knit 23 to end of row.
Purl 22, purl 2 tog
K2tog, knit 21 to end of row.
Purl 20, purl 2 tog
K2tog, knit 19 to end of row.
Continue in stockinette until color section measures 6 ½” ending with a knit row.

Hold front and back together with public sides together.
Join shoulders with 3-needle bind off, knitting back of neck stitches between.

Sleeves (make two):
Cast on 30 stitches.
Work in Twisted Garter for 7 rows.
Work pattern stitch (Knit one row, K2 *P3, K2* to last five stitches, P3, K1, slip last stitch second row) until sleeve measures 5 ½”
Increase first row, and every 4th knit row by KFB in 2nd stitch, and 2nd to last stitch.
Join variegated yarn and switch to stockinette stitch, increasing on both ends every other knit row.
When you have increased to 60 stitches, bind off sleeve.

Block sleeves and body.

At neck, join yarn at left shoulder seam. Using smaller DPN’s, pick up 9 stitches, knit across 10 stitches on neck holder, pick up 9 stitches along right side, knit across back of neck. Knit 7 rows of Twisted Garter Stitch. Bind off loosely.

Sew sleeves to body. Sew up side seams, and sew sleeve seams together. Weave in all ends.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

In more than one way, I am cramming today. First -- our blog -- lots to cram into today's post. Second -- my class -- our first test is Monday, after having ten lectures in a week and a half. I find the material extremely interesting, so at least I don't mind the work too much...though it **is** a lot of material in a short time. Two weeks completed. Four weeks to go (which, by the way, means only four weeks until we go to Stitches Midwest)...

Your socks look so great, and WOW -- done with three weeks remaining before the deadline? I think your "setting goals" is paying off! Will you miss the feeling of panic as the deadline approaches? And your mailbox is certainly much more interesting than mine these days...unless you call "Highlights" magazine interesting. I guess my kids love it, so that's something...

Thank you all for the kind comments regarding our tie-dyed shirts. For those of you interested, here is a mini-tutorial of how you might go about getting a heart in the middle of a tie-dyed shirt. I will use a paper towel for illustration purposes. Pretend the paper towel has a double layer, just like a tee shirt does when you lay it flat on a table. First, fold it in half along its vertical centerline. Then, using a water soluble pen, or a pencil (lightly), draw half of a heart as shown in the photo (except I used a marker -- don't use a marker on your shirt!). Then, the object of this game is to get a rubberband to cinch the fabric along the line just drawn. To do this, start at the top of the heart and begin cinching the fabric... little by little... following the line, until you get to the other end of the line. Then, put a rubber band tightly around the cinched area, directly over the line. If you like, you may put additional rubber bands farther out from the center area to give more of a sunburst effect. Tie dye following directions for your dye, and voila' -- a heart in the center! (I used some food coloring for my paper towel....and if you squint, you may see the white heart in the photo below...but really, an absorbent paper towel really works hard to pull the water under the rubberband, so perhaps an absorbent paper towel is not the best material for tie-dying.....)Okay, now some sock talk. Debi was most insistent that I try her tutorial for the Turkish cast on for toe-up socks. She also suggested that I could do this with only one circular needle, holding both ends of the needle in the same hand and having both ends pointing the same direction, then follow her directions for sliding the needles through the stitches, etc. It sounds complicated as I say it here. It isn't!!!!! In fact, in *The Ultimate Toe-up Sock" pattern which I am compiling as I am trying out various toe-up methods (and which will only include my final favorite method for each stage of sock construction), Debi's version of casting on the toe is going to be the winner....BECAUSE.....no waste yarn is required, it can be done with only one needle (which does not include anything with crochet hooks) and then knitting may proceed with the magic loop method for the rest of the sock. Yes, you heard me right -- the magic loop. I've so far seen no need to learn how to do that, but after using Debi's tutorial, I am actually able to visualize just how the magic loop works, and the thought of a toe-up sock without any special tools required is very appealing to me. For now, however, I'm finishing this sock using the dpn's I started with. It is the Embossed Leaves pattern from Favorite Socks, except I used the cast-on I just described, so I'm making it toe-up, then started knitting the lace pattern (which I changed to only be 15 stitches wide instead of 16, so there are only two stitches of reverse stockinette between each column of leaves). I didn't turn my chart upside down, though, because when I turned my book upside down, I decided that I liked the look of the leaves "growing up" instead of "growing down"....so these socks will have the pattern topsy turvy compared to the photo in the book. In any case, I think it is a lovely pattern!

Anyway, for the record, here is "The Ultimate Sock Pattern" so far:

Cast on using Turkish Cast-On and one 40" circular needle, size US2.

Make the toe -- increase increments yet to be refined --may be every other row -- may be every row until 32 stitches, then switch to every other row -- until 60 stitches are on needles.

Knit until length is two inches less than desired finished length.

Make the heel -- yet to be determined -- trying to decide between short row vs yarnover method.

Knit leg until it is the desired length.

Bind off: *Purl two together. Return this new stitch loosely to left needle.* Repeat between ** until all stitches are bound off. I like this bind off IMMENSELY -- it looks really nice, it doesn't require any hand sewing (except for weaving in the end), and most importantly, it forms a very elastic (but not sloppy) edge.

Since I am totally late to this toe-up party, I think that many of you are way ahead of me on this process of having a favorite way to make a toe-up sock. I'm slow that way sometimes, and change is difficult :-)

Anyway, I'd better run. More soon!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Socks done!!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Oh, I knitted furiously last night, trying to finish my Sockapalooza Socks so that I could post them as finished on Tuesday. (Official update day.) Alas, it did not happen.

I finally admitted defeat at about 11:30, with 13 1/2 rounds to go. I was able to finish on my lunch hour today, tho, so it's a Wednesday update! Here they are, bound off, ends woven in and ready to be blocked and sent. And I would like to point out that I am 3 weeks early!! In the previous Sockapalooza's, I was finishing up during the last week, so this is a bit of an odd feeling for me. GOOD, but odd.
Socks are done!

I was left with 10 minutes in my lunch hour. Fortunately I was optimistic this morning, and I packed the supplies to begin swatching for an EZ Surprise jacket for my great-niece's birthday present later this month.
Surprise Jacket Swatch

I talked it over with Lea-Ann at Knitting Today on Saturday, and mentioned that my hesitation about using the pattern was that when I made it a few month ago, the arms were too short for the child. I was unsure how to approach an alteration. She immediately knew of a solution - to either pick up stitches at the cuffs and lengthen the sleeves, or else to cast on the cuff sleeves with a provision cast-on, making live stitches available for adding length.

I'm going to try the provisional cast-on and see how that works. I also need to do a few pairs of baby socks for a gift, so those two projects should keep me busy and content!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mail call!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Hey, great t-shirts - I love your variation! Sounds like you're working on a fun tradition there!

Yesterday, I made a trip to my remaining LYS, Knitting Today, which is about 20 miles north of me. Having fallen in love with the "magic loop," I needed 47" circulars in size 0 and 1. I'm trying the size 1 in the Addi Turbo Lace needle to see how I like that. Since I'm still dinking around with short-row heels, the sharp point might be helpful. (For the purling three together, not for stabbing myself, although the thought crosses my mind.....) I did have a little bit of a accident at the Noro Kureyon bin, but I'm collecting for a project, so I don't think that counts. I just needed to hang around a yarn store for a while!

(BTW, the Sockapalooza sock is having a bit of a time-out this afternoon...)Time out

And then I got home and checked the mail.....w00t!!

There was a package.....
Mail from Canada!
from Canada!

I confess that Knitting at Lunch and I had a bit of an "online accident" a couple of weeks ago after the Yarn Harlot posted about these baby sweaters. We both have plenty of babies on the way to knit for! I got the Tulip colorway and she got the Rocketry. By ordering together, we did save a bit on shipping.
Sweater kits Yarn!

And there was more......

Going to Stitches!

Just a month away!

Keep knitting....

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sock Break

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I interrupt this blog to bring you photos from our most recent tie-dying extravaganza. Every year, I ask the boys something like, "What should we get Daddy for his birthday?", and I can always expect the answer to be something along the lines of a tie dye shirt. It isn't because they think their Daddy looks great in a tie dye shirt; their thought process is more along the lines of, "Hey, I think **I** can get a new tie dye shirt out of this deal." In any case, I confess that my thought process isn't very different from theirs. And, each year we get a little better at it. Here are our creations from this year, in "age of owner" order, which puts mine totally last, because, as my kids point out publicly and loudly several times a week, "Mommy is the oldest one in our family."

This year's theme was "sunburst". The boys picked and applied their own colors.

My four year old's shirt (**four and a half**, as he will emphasize to anybody who will listen):My six year old's shirt:My dh's shirt (I picked and applied the colors, with emphasis on using colors that are "not too bright" -- my dh's most comfortable "fashion statement"):My shirt (in which I cheated on the sunburst theme a little bit):In my next post, I'm planning to begin the "Embossed Leaves Socks" from Favorite Socks, except I'll be revising the pattern to knit them from the toe up using the Turkish Cast On. I used to be a firm believer in knitting a sock from the top down, but lately, and I'm very surprised at myself, I think I'm being converted to the toe up approach.

Anyway, I would be happy to be your support group when you cut your first steek, though I make it clear right here and with witnesses that you are completely responsible for the location of said steek, and it is up to **you** to measure four times and cut once.

Regarding Duluth, I made both of the items (two Dale of Norway headbands) I set out to make with my purchase there, and now my six year old son wears the headband. It looks much better on him than it ever did on me, and I think he likes the fact that it matches his Daddy's headband..... You could teach me a thing or two about stash.....though I have been picking up a little on my own :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stash Talk II (and socks and babies!)

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Great looking socks!! This blog may have a bit of a sock-focus for a while, as I'm working on Sockapalooza 4, and I have several other sock projects "in process!" (I don't know if I mentioned, but I'm thinking of bringing the Lady Bug sweater I'm working on when we meet for Stitches. Wanna be my support group when I cut my first steeks???????)

I've finished the first sock and done the toe of the second sock, so I am well on my sockapalooza way! I used the cast-on that you mentioned, and I'm really happy with how stretchy it is. Thanks!

Color correct

Ok, a bit more about stash - I'm kind of obsessed with it lately! I've been remembering the beginning of my stash - do you remember? That trip to Duluth? You and Ruth were saying that you weren't going to buy any more "craft projects" until you had completed some. I announced that I had stopped doing any crafts, so I didn't have to worry about buying any. Then Ruth, that sly minx, took us to her LYS and stood back and watched as you bought a little yarn and I, well, I "had an accident" of mammoth proportions.

I got that white furry yarn for my first scarf (where I learned about lifelines!) and a navy wool with little white slubs in it. I think I bought a pattern book and some needles.....and of course, the discontinued Dale of Norway Cotton/Alpaca blend. It was only like THREE DOLLARS A BALL!! How could I not??? Of course, I didn't know if I would like it, but it was Dale of Norway! and ALPACA, which I had already noticed was expensive. And DISCONTINUED!! What if I loved it????

Turns out I didn't love it, and all but about 2 balls are still in my stash..... I did make a scarf (my third FO) of my own design. Remember that you noticed all the stockinette stitches were twisted? I couldn't figure out why, and eventually discovered some Eastern European style of knitting where they purposely twisted the stitches, so I always called it my Slavic Scarf!

And then for quite a while, when I would see a yarn that I loved, I would try to decide at that moment what I would make of it. I always ended up buying about a sweater's-worth, just in case, and so the stash grew. Fortunately for my pocketbook, I saw a tip that said to buy only one ball, take it home and decide if you love it and exactly what to make before you buy so much. I stopped haunting Elann.com and learned to make socks, so the bulk of my stash is now smaller lots.

I haven't decided to STOP buying yarn, but I am working on organizing, cataloging and USING my stash. There is still some yarn that I no longer love and would like to de-stash. The best thing that has happened since I stopped neglecting my stash is that I have begun to use it!

I have done a couple of commission projects this year, and of course the blanket - those were not from the stash. But most of the rest of my knitting from this year HAS been from the stash, including the Sockapalooza socks!


So, now I'll quit babbling about stash - at least for a little while.

Because I need to spend some quality time with my stash and pattern books and imagination. I just found out that my niece-who-is-a-new-bride is expecting a baby next spring!! Yay!! (That brings to FIVE the number of babies I get to knit for by March...I really don't have time to talk to you, now do I???)

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Socks (still).....

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

First, Happy 4th of July! It's a bit on the gloomy side here today, so we haven't put our flag out yet because it looks like it is probably going to rain. However, a day off from the routine is a day off from the routine! No kids' programming today! DH has to go to the office for a little while, but he can set his own hours today....so, for the most part, a relaxing day...

Second, your blanket looks so wonderful! AND, YAY FOR YOU for getting it done on time!! It sounds like you're having a fun time deciding what to work on, now that you are freed from that huge project! Fun to hear about your stash thought process. Makes me feel a little bit more sane...

Thank you to our commenters for your strong encouragement to try using a circular needle for the Turkish cast on. On my very next pair of socks, I'm going to try that -- I promise! For now, I continue working with the pattern in the current (Summer 2007) issue of Interweave Knits, for a "better toe-up sock". I have one sock finished, the other just past the toe.So, let's talk about short row heels again.....your **favorite** topic, Cynthia :-) This pattern teaches a method that utilizes yarn overs instead of wraps and turns. I particularly love it for the first half of the heel, because there are no wraps! YAY! It got a little confusing for the second half of the heel, because there is some manipulating of the yarnovers so that they are oriented properly, and also some purling through the back loops of three stitches at a time, which sounded like a horror to me initially, but which ended up being just fine....once I figure it out. Both sides of the heel match nicely, and I love the fit. It seems to me that doing the yarnover method basically achieves a result quite similar to knitting the wraps together, only the way it is executed is different. Not sure which way I like better. Maybe I'll arrive at a conclusion after I do the yarnover technique for a second time on my current sock..... (Please disregard the huge welt that is on my leg, as shown in the photo above. I think it's from a bug of some sort..... I have two words regarding that -- "topical Benadryl")

AND, my class started this seek -- Physiology of Exercise -- and already I'm up to my ears in glycolysis and other bodily processes which serve to convert the food we eat into forms of energy our muscles and brains can use. I just really love learning about this stuff, and I think it is partly because for the first time in my life, I've managed to keep up with an exercise regimen for over nine months in a row, averaging three workouts per week. It's helped my cholesterol and triglyceride levels, too. My HDL (good cholesterol) is 73, and I've been reading that having a high HDL is more important than keeping the total below 200 (my total is 244 -- high cholesterol runs in my family). I still have some dietary things I want to work on modifying in order bring my total cholesterol down, but it's a good start, and my doctor isn't concerned. Anyway, I digressed..... This class is going to be stealing away some of my knitting time for the next five weeks, so it's a good thing I've been getting you all accustomed to posts about socks, because I have a feeling that's what I'll have to show you in the coming weeks.

Right after that in mid August, of course, is our planned meeting/excursion to Stitches Midwest, so I know we will have LOTS to talk about and show on the blog after that!....well, for me it will hopefully be something more than socks. Perhaps the Mystery Stole 3, which I think is going to be the project I'll work on while on the bus on the way to Stitches.....because even though I joined the Yahoo group, realistically I won't be able to work on it until my class has finished.

Well, I think I've rambled long enough! I hope you have a great day!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Stash Talk

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Whew! With the blanket in my rear-view mirror, I feel like I'm on vacation or something! Just knitting away on whatever I'd like. The cuff of my first
Sockapalooza 4 sock only needs a few more inches to the cuff, so I'm in good shape there. I'm hoping to do some swatching tomorrow on a baby sweater. Oh, and cleaning my house! Good heavens, it's amazing how quickly it reverts to dust-bunnies.

Last March, I posted about my genetic tendency to stash in a post called
My Grandmother's Stash. I followed up later in the spring with a stash sale that lightened the load and also resulted in a bit of organization. At least it all saw the light of day, if only for a few weeks!

I've pretty much always lived with a stash philosophy of "More is Better." Or, "She who dies with the most yarn wins!" Let's just say what when someone would bring up ideas for breaking a stash addiction, my response has always been a resounding, "WHY???"

My attitude is shifting, however, and I blame this.

Best dressed iPod

I listen to my iPod at work. Depending on the project and level of concentration, I either listen to music, an audiobook or podcasts. High concentration - music. Medium concentration - a book that I have already liked in print or audio. Low concentration - a new book or podcast. I also tend to listen to podcasts in bunches. When I discover a new podcast, I download all of the available episodes and listen to them in order. Sometimes after the first few episodes I decide not to continue. However, if I liked the podcast, the next time I go on a podcast jag, I'll catch up-to-date on those that I enjoy.

Early last March, I discovered the first few episodes of "
Stash and Burn" featuring Jenny and Nicole from San Francisco. I was amazed that they are tracking their stash on a spreadsheet (hello!) and knew exactly how many yard of yarn that they have. (One of them had 65,000 yards!!!) I was torn between admiration, horror, fear, and the nagging question....(whispered) how much do I actually have???? It can't be THAT much, can it??

Then I went into my hall closet to find something, grabbed a bag that was stuffed under a pile of things and opened it to discover yarn that I had no recollection of acquiring. Kinda freaked me out, I have to say.

In my defense, having touched all of my stash in the last few months, those 4 balls are the only ones that I have no recollection of. I sometimes have to think awhile, and some yarn brings to mind more detail than other yarn.....but even with the receipt, I don't remember buying this yarn!

Since discovering "Stash and Burn," I've toyed with the idea of a Stash Spreadsheet of my own. I've mostly been restrained by thinking about how much knitting time would be used up in data entry. Then along came
Ravelry, which is so much better than just a spreadsheet! It's a full featured stash-o-rama, online and shared! I am so psyched!

I think the best thing that I have learned so far in my Stash Management (I'm not DE-stashing!) journey is that I want to SEE my stash. At some point, I wanted all of this yarn. Even if it hadn't spoken about what it wanted to be, or even if it has changed what it will be, if I don't see it I don't love it. And if I'm always adding yarn that I love then I'm missing an opportunity to knit what I already loved.

Alright. Enough for now. More stash talk on the way tho!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, July 02, 2007


Greetings and Dear Laura:
The blanket is finished! Thank you all for the support and encouragement as I was madly knitting to the end! I cast off at around 2 pm on Saturday, so I was a full three-hours ahead of schedule. The blanket was wrapped and presented at the party - a first for me!
Kayla with her blanket
I ran out of pink yarn at about 55" and then began the border. I was amazed by the fact that my gauge was considerably different at the end than at the beginning. I would have assumed that if my gauge were to change, it would be tighter because of the stress and tension of trying to finish on time. Turns out it was considerably looser than when I started out. I had changed my "grip" somewhat in an attempt to relieve the pain in my wrists, shoulders and hands, so I suppose that accounts for it. The top border was a bit "wavy" because it was looser garter-stitch, but I'm hopeful that it will block out. Which I do still have to do - blocking. Hopefully this week I'll be able to give it a bath and square it up.

And so now I'm off and running on my Sockapalooza 4 socks. I had several inches on the cuff of the first sock, but Saturday evening I had to admit that something was wonky and ripped back almost to the heel. This was distressing to my aunts and uncles who were watching me knit. One of my aunts said, "It's a sock! Won't it be covered up by the pants anyway????" I explained that these socks are a gift. For a KNITTER. Who will know wonky when she sees it!! I'm still not sure that I went back quite far enough, and even though I'm back into positive progress, I'll be taking a closer look again tonight to see if it needs to be ripped out again.

The center cables alternate between right-left turn and left-right turn. At the very bottom of the cuff, in the back, I did right-left turn 2 times in a row. It wouldn't bother me so much, but I didn't make this mistake on the front 1/2 of the sock. While it's not something you'd ever really notice unless you were working hard to find it, it means that I have to consciously remember to do the back cables differently than the front cables. This is making me crazy and would have to continue for the rest of the cuff. EEEEKK!

I do have another project that I'll be working on in July - I'd like to do a sweater in a size 18 mos for my great-niece who is turning 1 at the end of this month. I'd like something in wool, preferably worsted weight. I'm perusing the stash and pattern collection and I'd like to start this week. Other than that, I'm not really going to have "GOALS" for the month. As much as it has been helpful and I've appreciated the discipline (such as it was,) I'd like to have a break this month. Just knitting. No crazy impossible goals. And....I don't think I want to cast on anything else, and I don't want to be bound to finishing anything else off....I may cast on something(s) and/or finish something(s) but I'm just going to follow the mood this month.

What I am hoping to concentrate on in the near future is STASH. Stayed tuned to this station......

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)