Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just in time for summer

I've been thinking a lot about knitting between stitches lately, and after some swatching, ended up with this hat:


It's really just a variation on a slip-stitch, but I'm pretty fond of it, and have great plans for more swatching and tinkering.


I worried all through knitting that it would be too big, and it's not. It's not totally snug, but I was actually aiming for that since I'm not-so-fond of hat head. I know, crazy.


It's a nice dense fabric and cozy like whoa. I defy you, summer weather!

Well. While I was in the Poconos (which are in Pennsylvania, for those of you playing at home) I stopped in at Mountain Knits and Pearls in East Stroudsburg. It's a great shop with lots of Dale of Norway patterns and yarns, plenty of sock yarns (including Noro's Kureyon sock), and what looked like a charming knit afternoon. Plus beads and stuff, but I mostly ignored that.

ANYhoo, I was browsing the Dale of Norway patterns and saw these Lillelam pants:


And my ovaries melted into a puddle of goo. I mean, I'm not really one to get all in a fluff about clothes, but there's clearly some kind of subliminal cuteypants message in all that fair isle. Even now I keep thinking "Pssh, they're pants, whatever, I'll just take a look and awwww those are so CUTE I love you yes I do."

Yes I do.

But! I was going to Maryland Sheep and Wool the next weekend, so I refrained! And in the following week thought better of it, and called the shop and ordered the pattern book AND the yarn. I couldn't find a website that had both together, so I figured I was being clever. And in conclusion, I was. Sort of. Dale Ull is pretty expensive. I won't tell you what I ended up paying for the yarn and the book because it pains me.


So. I pulled out the book and started to read the directions. They're short -- like 3 paragraphs. And it's all dense and abbreviated and it uses 7 colors, y'all, 7, and GOD do you know how many ends that will be? and this is for an infant and all they do is eat and poop and make messes and then they grow out of EVERYTHING and 7 colors, people! AND ONLY 3 PARAGRAPHS OF DIRECTIONS. How smart do these people think I am?!

And then I have to go lie down for a while. But they're cute pants.

Monday, May 19, 2008



His name is Jackson! He's cute as pie, healthy and mostly happy (being an infant is hard, often upsetting work, you know). I haven't gotten to smoosh over him too much yet, but soon. Oh yes. Soon.

While I, family and friends were bonding with the really uncomfortable waiting room chairs as Jackson took his sweet time in joining us in the bright, harsh world I cast on, and finished, these:


They're Saartje's bootees (pdf!), modified as closed-toe because my SIL wasn't impressed with the strappy version I'd knit previously (she called them Mary Janes. I scoffed at her). They're actually cuter in real life.

My mods (for the large size):
Row 26: k16, ssk x3, k1, k2tog x3, k to end
Row 27-29: work plain
Row 30: k13, ssk x3, k1, k2tog x3, k to end
Row 31-32: work plain
Row 33: bind off

(Though you could probably bind off on row 31. Am going to try that next time). The only problem is that they're Koigu KPPPM and not machine washable. I'll gift 'em anyway, just because they're cute.

So. Remember back in, oh, December when I showed a bunch of knits I finished while in NZ? Like the Tomten Jacket which just needed a zipper or some toggles?

Y'all, I searched at LEAST... like... four stores for non-huge, non-ugly toggles, and there was NARY A ONE to be found. And then I tried looking for zippers. Did you know there are at least two kinds of zipper? Separating and non-separating. The non-separating kind are like the ones in your pants. Separating are like jacket zippers.

I couldn't find a short (and I needed short -- babies, it turns out, are tiny) separating zipper. So the jacket remained in my Ravelry WIP list. For MONTHS.

Finally (see how I reference my title? I was an English major!), I was in the Poconos and hit the American Ribbon and Craft Outlet in Stroudsburg -- which is a strange place. Not Stroudsburg -- the store. Stroudsburg is very charming. It (the store) is old and dusty and has weird stuff like old ribbon bobbins and lots of train set equipment. There are big empty spaces and things aren't quite put away properly. It's got a lot of character I'll tell you what.

But! The point is they had zippers, and I found a 12" white separating zipper (the shortest they had) and bought it, took it home, held it up to the jacket, and found it was about 3" too long. At which point I threw it all into a corner for another few weeks.

When Jackson arrived I had fresh resolve (fresh!) and looked up how to shorten a zipper. It's not that hard, actually, and I ended up using a mishmash of techniques.

1. Figure out where you want the zip to stop, then sew a stopper in between the two teeth like so:


I used 3 threads of embroidery floss (a half a usual strand).

2. With some needle-nose pliers remove the four teeth above your stopper. I found grabbing the tip of the tooth worked best, for some reason.

3. Cut below where the teeth start up again, and fold that extra bit of fabric to the back for a nice neat edge.

Then I followed Claudia's technique for installation. Except that I hand sewed it because I don't have a zipper foot for my sewing machine.

I find the uneven row of stitches pretty charming.

I sewed a zipper!

And it's finished! Ha HA! And too big for little Jackson for a while yet, but that's okay! It'll fit eventually.

In other news! Yesterday I trekked over to the Philadelphia Book Fair, met up with the entirely cool knitting/spinning/contra dancing Marie and we yanked out our knitting to see the Yarn Harlot!


She was riotously funny, and we all learned about how knitters are on mental par with Buddhist monks, which is very encouraging.

She spoke about this Cambridge study (and if you're planning to see her I'm not spoiling anything here) which essentially concluded that having a repetitive physical task during a traumatic event can make people less traumatized. I immediately thought about being on a plane, and how if we could somehow show the FAA and other airline security groups this study, maybe -- maybe! -- they would finally and totally ease up on our need for pointy sticks.

Less trauma means fewer lawsuits, right? (Okay, so the image I immediately got was a plane crashing and two or three people furiously knitting as the plane goes down. To reduce the trauma! ...right? Are you with me? Hello?).

Anyway. As I handed my book to Stephanie for her to sign I started to mention this theory, and she replied, "Needles are allowed on planes." I was a little thrown and said yes, but not always! IcelandAir didn't allow my needles. National flights, sure -- but -- and she agreed that international flights don't always, and then everything was kind of a blur as I tried to explain my theory and got flustered because they were shooing the line along, but she called out a "Nice to meet you!" as I dazed away.

But! I have explained myself to all y'all in a lengthy way, so I feel better now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Some of y'all may have seen Grace's post today about how we met, and I'd just like to clarify a few things.

It's true, we met at SAFF two years ago, but she says "I grabbed her sleeve and babbled excitedly and mostly incoherently about her sweater while she was very gracious about being attacked by a crazy person."

This, y'all, is not entirely true. What really happened is that she said something to me about my sweater, and then I strategically glued myself to her side. I was on my third-or-so lap around the building, and hadn't talked to anybody and was beside myself with joy that I'd met someone. Plus she looked pretty cool, iffin' I say so myself.

So I hung around awkwardly while she and Elizabeth tried out wheels. Grace hipped me to the blogger meetup, and whispered excitedly that La of Jen and- were there, and I played excited even though I didn't actually know who that was. And then there was exchangery of emails, and now we're totally IBFFs (Internets BFFs).

And she is hella cool. I mean honestly. And not just because she graciously lets me inundate her with often-random knitting-and-spinning questions. She's also hilarious and a FABulous step-ma to a singularly awesome young man.

Plus she sends me cool gifts. Look!

Gift box!

Clockwise from left - her own handspun! 190 yards of smooshy colonial wool! Mmmm!; Merci chocolates, half of which are, heh, now gone. I mean, they're so SMALL, it's okay to have five or six in a sitting. At 10am.; more chocolate, which is getting saved for when the Merci chocolates are gone, because sometimes I have self control; and some superwash merino in "Emily" colorway! I admit to you in confidence here that I geeked out just a little bit when I saw it was in the "Emily" colorway.

Grace wins.

And to cap off this post, gratuitous nephew shot!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's POSSIBLE that I'm a little bit biased

...but I'm pretty sure there never was a cuter nephew:


Yes, he showed up on mother's day. Yes, all are well and hopefully getting some much-needed rest. No, he doesn't have a name yet. Yes, I damn near cried when I saw him. Yes, I'm close to crying now just thinking about it.

Oop. Crying.

Welcome out, Infant X!


More soon!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Maryland Sheep and Allergies

Before I left the house for the Maryland Sheep and Wool I saw a box of tissues -- the decent kind, with aloe and lotion -- and thought ah! I should bring those along, what with my heinously evil allergies, even though I have already had some benadryl, and have some extra in my pocket. Naturally, I forgot to grab the tissues on my way out. I stopped at the gas station, and there were no boxes of tissues, but they had a generic pocket pack of sandpaper brand tissues. I bought a roll of paper towels instead.

And what did I do? I left them in the car. A compacted nasal passage makes me stupid.

MDSW is pretty amazing. It's huge and confusing and there's wool and people and sheep EVERYWHERE. I had to walk around four times before I could actually focus on any one product. This is the line for Socks That Rock:

The line for Socks That Rock.

The weather was pretty good -- cloudy and cool in the morning. The afternoon got warmer and humid, and I started to feel badly for all the people who were wearing their recently-finished wool sweaters.

There was a Ravelry meet-up, and BOY was it crowded.

Saturday's MDSW Ravelry meet-up

Saturday's MDSW Ravelry meet-up

Being not so wild about big crowds I got my Official Ravelry Pin and took off for shopping. So here're my spoils:

My spoils from MDSW

Clockwise from that blue stuff on the left (or you can click for flickr notes): 2 braids Flying Fibers hand painted BFL; 1 oz Nono Cashmere; Socks That Rock (I had to see what all the fuss was about) in Purple Rain; more Cashmere*, this time from The Fold (aka the Socks That Rock booth); three small skeins of Koigu KPPPM which were 25¢/ounce which is actually not as good a deal as you might think, but will make good baby booties**; and finally, in the gold bag, an ounce of buffalo roving. I rave about it all the time and thought since I cause such a fuss about it (and since it was half the price that I've seen it for online -- thank you, The Fold!) I should have some to show off. This may never get used for spinning, but kept for fondling.

I wanted to go to the Ravelry party, but at around 4pm I got hit with some really bad allergies -- sneezing, itchy eyes, general misery, and I dealt with it for an hour, and finally decided it wasn't worth it and went home.

So! Project update. I blame this one on Grace. She was all talking about knitting baby sweaters, and then all of a sudden there I was, knitting a baby sweater.

Whale sweater

It also hasn't helped that I've been lusting after colorwork knitting lately, and than it's looking like my nephew is going to be a hefty fella, and everything I knit him already is a little on the small side. But there you go. I'm still debating what to do for the neck. I like button necks but haven't done one before, and am not sure how they should work. Whatever. I'll figure something out.

I used the Yarn Standards website to try and get some sizing ideas, and y'all, babies are some weird-ass sizes. For a 3 month old the length from their armpit to armpit is 8", but the length from the nape of their neck to their waist is just 6".

That makes for a freaky looking sweater, so I'm just using it as a guideline. And if it doesn't fit, well, then I'll just cry.

*See, I stuck my hand into the cashmere bag at The Fold and was all NOM NOM NOM but ended up buying some from a different booth (the Nono cashmere), but then I got back to the Fold, realized THAT cashmere was 1. nicer, and 2. half the price, I bought some of that, and then didn't feel like I could return the first one, and can you really have too much cashmere? I didn't think so.

**Although since I just found out it's not machine washable it'll only be used for knitters' babies. Shoot.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Seriously. Babies everywhere.

Two friends of mine have just had a little girl, and let me tell you, y'all: this girl is CUTE. I mean cute. Spiky gold-brown hair, big eyes, and a sweet pout.

So, of course, it's hat time:

Top-down bonnet

Final successful cast on: April something.

Finished weaving in the ends: May 1.

The originator: Top-down Bonnet by Adrian Bizilia of HelloYarn fame.

The string: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Tahoe

The sticks: Size 3 addis.

Pattern shmattern: The only thing I changed was that I cut the yarn after binding off.

I gots more to blog about but I need to head to bed, since I'm hitting Maryland Sheep and Wool tomorrow!