Friday, January 30, 2009

Dry Fit the Pieces

Finally forced myself to sit down with a mug of encouragement and finish the fronts of the Twist & Shout cardigan. (go all the way back to December blogs) This one hit a dry spell. It was just decor on the coffee table for weeks. But now I need it done! I know the exact date of the first wearing. So I am back in focus.

The instructions for the fronts were confusing at first. I still can't decide if what I knit is what the pattern wanted me to knit - but it looks OK. Even better, the fronts match the back at that all important arm hole/sleeve area.

Talk about a good thing that I always work two fronts or two sleeves at the same time. All of the cabling, decreasing, binding off and worrying about matching the back armhole shaping got the better of me. When I focused in on the final 24ish rows I had to read, read, sketch, count and read again. Just could not 'see' the way it was going to work because every time I counted there were either 3 or 6 rows more than there should have been.

Ended up writing my own version of the detail for each row and what happened on the right front and on the left front. Only then did it click in. Even the row count was working out to match the back. Somehow my mind kept missing that bind off for shoulder slope and bind off for neckline can not happen on the same row for each front. On the left front the shoulder was bound off on a
right side row; the neckline was shaped on a wrong side row. And the OPPOSITE for the right front.

Toss in that shoulder bind off for the back was on every row - due to working one side on the RS and one on the WS. So, that was a total of 6 rows and I kept thinking that I needed to bind off the front 6 times. DUH - 3 on each front side times 2 sides actually equals 6. Who knew?

You know what? Once the brain clicks, the knitting is not so much. It is highly possible that more time was spent in the figuring out and rewriting than in the actual doing. But it is done.

The fronts, pre-blocking, dry fit well. I like it. Don't fret the center edge. It is rolling back in the photo. But it will be blocked and eventually a nice crochet edge will add a half inch to each front.

On to the sleeves!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do Over!

Remind me that knitting and car maintenance do not always go hand in hand. This is the current state of the lap robe, my current item destined for a worthy senior.

I want a do over! A mulligan.

The skein was collapsing in on itself; the robe was growing toward success. Practically one-third completed.

And then nothing. A twenty stitch section became only eighteen stitches. A yarn over became wrapped three times. Garter somehow transformed into reverse stockinette.

Total stoppage.

How does one go from almost ten inches to the above in only thirty minutes? Rude behavior. That's how.

I was calmly sitting in the waiting room of the auto repair shop and knitting in public on the lap robe for seniors. Several other trapped souls were also calmly waiting. You should know that the other calm souls were engaged in the following totally appropriate public behaviors: reading a newspaper, managing children while patting the babe in arms and updating family on the medical condition of "mom" (ok, perhaps I did listen in on that one sided phone call).

And then she stormed in. Rudeness in motion. Taking out her anger on the repair shop by looking up at the service manager and declaring, "I am through - no more. Someone will come to get me!!" Actually, the tone of her voice should be emphasized by more than two exclamation points. But I do not want to offend you.

Everyone overheard her next phone call. Clearly a family member who is comfortable with an aggressive conversational style was making utterances on the other end of the conversations but not able to neutralize the situation. Seems she had simply been driving along when the scary red warning light flashed on in her car. And it did not go off. So, she did one thing right, and stopped in to have it checked. From her side of the conversation we all, those of us doing perfectly acceptable public activity, know that:
  • the light came on
  • she came to this shop because she rarely bothers them with car trouble
  • she so rarely bothers them with her car that she had not taken it in for any service in the last year
  • they should take care of the people who are not a constant bother first
  • they must be stupid because they can't even fix her perfectly fine car
  • it had been 'hours' and now 'some stupid test drive' and she still did not have the car back
  • all she wanted was for the engine light to go off because now she would be late for the party and probably have to change on the way there and the make-up is at home and what about her hair...
So, when the above referenced service manager attempted to calm her down and tell her the car was ready and they felt it now safe for her to be driving, she blew up and that is when she announced (see above) that someone would come get her. And, further more, she would have to come back in the morning to get the car - if she had time.

Any wonder that the lap robe is now totally frogged.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Swapping for Charity

Went to a yarn swap yesterday. It was a lively and fun event. The Vanna wannabees did their thing in describing the yarns being re-stashed to a new home. Now normally, this group conducts a yarn swap under generally loose guidelines - bring something, get something. Fairly typical. We've all participated in one of those.

AH, but this was different. At the suggestion of a forward thinking participant there were new rules.
1. Discounted selling is acceptable. Yours truly scored six balls of Kidsilk Haze at a steep discount.
2. Plain giving away is acceptable.
3. Offering up a prized jewel of fibre in exchange for a donation to The Women's Room at Friends in Deed is desired.
4. Donating unclaimed swappable yarn to
The Women's Room at Friends in Deed is desired.

Swapping for Charity. And it worked. It worked fabulously and generously.

One of the women in attendance is associated with The Women's Room. It is a safe daytime refuge for women who are alone and homeless or at risk. Totally free services are offered including shower and laundry facilities, computer and telephone access and a place to rest. A recent offering was free hair styles from a professional. And soon to begin - free knitting classes where the women can make items for their personal use and spend time relaxing with a group in the safety of the facility.

Without hesitation, many items were declared by the original owner as a swappable for a donation to this cause. Two hours of fun and petting of yarns interspersed stories about life in general and the facility for women in particular.

And, at the end of the swapping, selling and donating - our little group sent over $100 to our chosen charity and an entire bag filled with enough yarn for the clients to learn and make for months to come.

Swapping for Charity. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shuttle Along

Gee it is hard to believe it has been six whole days away from the desk. Mostly, non-knitting life has taken a front burner these days and the knitting is suffering.

A quick day flight away on business, a quick day drive away on business, conference calls and dinner events have taken a huge chunk of time. But this very day there was time to refocus on the knitting and the gloating over accomplishments.

Today was the inaugural wearing of the scarf - to go along with other inaugural events.

As promised by the designer, Ms. Japel herself, it truly looks wonderful no matter which side of the pattern one declares to be the "right" side. No wrong side. Gotta respect that.

I brought the scarf to share with the Guild today. Now you must understand that the Guild members are quite accomplished knitters. We have teachers, experts and international brilliance. So, for a pattern to impress this bunch it must be remarkable indeed.

We contemplated the visual effect of both sides - both close up and from afar. Final result? Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

So wander on over to the Glampyre Etsy shop (link is above) and check out the current offerings. Last I looked, the bamboo is all gone, but cotton remains. This was the best $25 I have spent in quite a while. Custom hand dyed bamboo, three (3) scarf patterns and two stitch markers. A true value indeed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

With Charity For All

Having finished and blocked the scarf, a new project seemed appropriate. I still have cables -lots of cables - to complete and the mind and fingers were wanting something mindless. When I don't know what to do, doing for others is appropriate.

Thus, the needles are now occupied with a lap robe that will find a home with seniors. This one is an adaptation of my K2Tog Scarf pattern (link is over on the left). The modification is to cast on 140 then k 20 before the YO and K2Tog.

I'm enjoying focusing on "charity" knitting for a bit. Busy hands lead to grateful hearts.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On the Launch Pad

Ready to take off. The Wild Blue Space Shuttle, courtesy of Stefanie Japel's hand dyed bamboo, is on the launch pad.

You need to just accept, as fact, that I do not own blocking wires. If I owned such items, making lace on a regular basis would be required so that the cost per use got down to a sensible 2 cents. Or some ridiculously low amount. So the few times I have needed to actually be straight and even in a long length I rely on my handy dandy towel.

You read correctly. My towel. Please understand that this is a special towel. It is old and not soft. It is old school loopy cotton - not at all the soft plush stuff of today. And, this towel has stripes. Good stripes that are actually straight and level (no, I didn't bring out an actual level and check the bubble, but level and true enough for the casual observer)

The stripes are wonderful for getting a straight edge on any long length of knitting. Just follow the little line. Even a child can do it. A towel is not threatening like wires and boards printed with squares. Nope, not at all threatening.
A towel is familiar - it is comfortable - it is and every day item. And if it is not an every day item, well I don't want to hear about it.

Other than the straight stripes, the afore mentioned not soft loopy cotton grabs the fiber that is laid upon it and holds it in place. Well, mostly in place. But it works sort of like the loop side of hook and loop tape.

Some pinning is still required. But I am convinced, in my own little world, that fewer pins are required and thus the whole blocking process seems to take but a few minutes.

At any rate, the Space Shuttle is almost ready to take off on great adventures with yours truly. Oh, where shall we head off to first? Such possibilities. Such adventures. The universe is our oyster - - - or something like that.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tales From The Organizer

Phew! Organizing “takes it’s toll and the soul outta you” to quote lyricist Richard Stilgoe. But the task is done.

Well, it’s done if you count keeping the acrylic in a plastic shopping bag and shoved between the file drawers and the wall.
Turns out that my reference library is not impressive at all. Most everything I need is accessed via a video online or is a pattern that I keep electronically – having paid and downloaded or secured legitimately via free postings for personal use.

Now, I will confess that I often save downloaded patterns with a file name that is not the exact title of the pattern. Usually I’ll tag on a word such as “cardi” or “sox”
or even the name of a suitable person to the file name. That seems to make it easier to search for the drive for patterns rather than scrolling through a long list and randomly opening files to see if it is what I’m seeking.

Sure, one might recall that “Hey Teach” is a short sleeve sweater. But then again, if one has not had a caffeine surge, one might need to see that extra word “ME” added to the file name.

The organizing did uncover this lovely thing, which when yarns are clipped and woven, seams closed and felting occurs will turn into a sack suitable for holding a beverage bottle.

Due to actually cleaning out the file drawers that I use for storage, there was room to file away some of the stash. One drawer for cotton, one for fancy/special stuff, one for the wool and one for blends. At least that is the general scheme. Mostly it works. The sock stash is not in a drawer. Neither is the acrylic that is earmarked for certain projects (like lap robes for seniors).

For the most part, I can find what I’m looking for within thirty seconds. But, as you can probably tell, I don’t keep very much on hand.

It works for me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

And Organize She Did

Yes, the organizing occurred. Crocheted Tee bag, now adapted to hold needles, works as expected. Note to self: make another one or two.

Felted bag for straights is actually hanging rather than laying atop the magazines.

And whilst I worked, Bert read the paper.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Just a note that links to my FREE patterns are over to the left. All are PDF files, so be sure you have at least the Reader. Once there, just click the little download arrow (right side of screen).


Getting Organized

Time to get organized for the new year. Not my favorite thing in the world, but every now and again an event or a thing inspires me to challenge the professional organizers on television. You might say that it was news of an event and the resulting gift that brought on my current need for neatness.

A phone call. Just a phone call with daughter #2 and I was shocked to discover that the man in her life gifted her with golf clubs. My daughter and golf! Who'd have ever thunk it. Well, as we all can attest, each new gift deserves another gift - often referred to as an accessory - so off to Ravelry I went and discovered a swift to crochet golf
Tee Bag designed by Priscilla Hewitt.

Stash diving for a color that would not disappear when dropped on a golf course revealed left over Kollage Yummy in Miami colorway, which owing to it's 80/20 bamboo/merino nature makes it quite 'green'. It is important to go green to the greens, don't you know. And given where daughter is most likely to hit the links, going green is quite important.

Not more than half way through this very quick to make project the light bulb of inspiration flashed and I realized that this is way more than a golf tee bag. It is a marvel of design that goes far beyond the intended purpose.

It is an organizer for knitting needles and crochet hooks. Yes, indeed. An organizer. Why there is even a button hole that is just the right size for hanging from a hook placed on a wall, a bulletin board or (as I have done before) from one of those removable hooky things placed on the side of a desk. Brilliant. Flexible. Blog worthy. Gift worthy. And, I must confess, Show and Share worthy at your next guild meeting or knit/crochet gathering. Which of course I shared with the Riverside Knitting Guild just yesterday.

So now all thoughts and efforts are focused on making several hook and needle hangers to jump start the organizing efforts for 2009. I'm even dreaming of sewing two onto a place mat, spaced apart appropriately to hold the straights. I'm telling you this is practically a miracle pattern. Multi-use, quick to complete and a stash buster.

Click on over to Priscilla's patterns (link is above) and make one for yourself.