Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where do I begin?

I have been so busy doing things that I haven’t made the time to blog. I told you all about the retreat held by the women of The Unique Sheep in the last episode. Two weeks later was Duchess County (NY) Sheep and Wool, better known as Rhinebeck. I went to my first Rhinebeck festival last year and was somewhat overwhelmed. However, I did get to meet Leo Pola otherwise known as MMario. He was there with Auntie Nin, Rarely and a few others whose name escapes me now. I had on my Scylla that I had just finished. Leo recognized it and it did get photographed by several people. He did say the design wasn’t as “viney and tendrilly” as he imagined, but like the execution. This year I was in less awe of the place and saw more. That in turn led to me buying more. I finally got all the yarn I need to do the Civil War Shawl. I had picked up a yak and silk blend from Skaska Yarns last year, but it wasn’t enough to do the whole thing. I got more this year. Thank goodness it doesn’t have a dye lot. But I will be alternating between the three skeins I have for the project just to be safe. I found the Fiber Optic booth and bought a beautiful red fingering weight for Leo’s current mystery shawl KAL. I also picked up some pencil roving in a beautiful coppery/ green autumnal color way. I was turned onto this yarn by Bad Cat of Bad Cat Designs. I took part in her Summer Swatch Me KAL and saw their yarns there. Bad Cat had used some of their yarns to do bookmarks with the different pattern stitches. The color of the yarns were so lovely and saturated, I knew I wanted some. I picked up some Shetland 1 ply for an heirloom shawl pattern that I recently purchased. Then I hit the Sanguine Griffon booth. The line was ridiculous on Saturday, so I went back on Sunday and got some of their DK wool for a sweater. I was there early so the line to check out was a bit more manageable. I went to the Ravelry meet-ups on both days. Saturday was massive, but I did get to talk to some designers and bloggers I follow. I talked to Ysolda Teague and Amy Herzog. I looked for Anna Dalvi but couldn’t find her in her World Heritage shawl. And then I stopped at the Fold to score some Blue Moon Fibers’ Socks that Rock yarn. I found a booth that was run by the Duchess County Spinners Guild. I picked up a beautiful hand-spun, hand dyed yarn there. It was a variegated blush pink to dusty rose. Not normally my colors, but it was love at first sight. I normally like pinks in combination with creams and greens, you know, the Santa Fe color scheme. I may add a solid green to it because I may not have quite enough for a sweater. I’m on the low end of what I would normally buy on speculation, but they didn’t have any more. I do have the spinner’s contact info, but I’m not sure if she could duplicate it well enough to get another skein. I was thinking of a cardigan anyway, so all the edges can be in a contrasting or coordinating color. And if I do a lace design and continue losing weight as I have been, I may be okay with what I bought when I get around to knitting it.

I have committed to doing a design for the Mohair contest being run by Vogue Knitting in conjunction with their Vogue Knitting Live event. I have finally come up with a design that I like. It is a bohemian, romantic feel with lace and ruffles. I think the haze from mohair translate well to a more romantic design. Now to write the pattern and knit it. I have the gauge swatch done and drying as I write this. Wish me luck in finishing it before the Dec 1 deadline. At least the sample can be made in a small. Less knitting than if it were for me. More to come on the NYC yarn crawl and Stitches East in the next few episodes. Bye

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Comings and Goings

This is a posting I started a while back.  I have written several that never got posted.  I will be posting them now.  Hopefully I will be better at blogging this year.

Late September and October have become very busy with all things fiber. I ended September by going to a retreat held by The Unique Sheep in Andrews, NC. It was two days of knitting, dyeing, spinning and all thing fiber. Laura and Kelly held the retreat at the Hawksdene House. It was situated in what appeared to be a regular neighborhood. The house had quite a bit of acreage around it so that once you were on the property, you felt quite isolated from the other houses. There were four cottages and the main house which we occupied. The cottages all had fireplaces and screened in porches. We had dinner on a covered patio which had an outdoor kitchen and a massive fireplace. There was a second area with a fire pit where we made s’mores. The two innkeepers provided us with wonderful meals, comfortable places to mingle and mix and a very relaxing atmosphere. There were several dogs and cats around along with llamas and a donkey. I wanted to take both dogs home with me and Laura wanted the donkey.

I took classes on spinning, dyeing and mosaic knitting. Laura taught the dyeing class. I had a lot of fun dyeing up several hanks of lace weight alpaca and wool. The things we did with red, blue, yellow fuchsia, brown and black was amazing. Here are some photos from my class.

Laura’s mother, Jan, taught needle felting and spinning. I had never attempted spinning before. And since I have lousy hand-eye coordination, I really didn’t think I would do well at this. But Jan got us started with a top whorl drop spindle and I got a feel for it using pencil roving. Then she taught us how to draft and park the spindle. I was able to do that and came away with some art yarn. I had never gotten the hang of drafting before. I had tried doing it to knit a mobius scarf using roving quite some time ago. I just couldn’t get the staple length right so I was always breaking the roving or having really thick areas. That made knitting quite impossible. This time, I got drafting and could actually do it without breaking the roving. Okay, I did break it once but I got it back together so I could keep on spinning. We then plied the single yarn we made. We discussed how to ply to keep long color runs in our yarn by Navajo plying. We had single color roving so we plied it by letting it spin back on itself. It was fun and I made some yarn. Yippee!

Susan Pandolf taught mosaic knitting. Some of us made eyeglass cases or small envelope purses while others worked on swatches to learn the technique. The more ambitious ones started on the Bag’s End Bag that Susan has designed as part of her Lord of the Rings series. The bag was just released for purchase on her website/blog, A Few Stitches Short, Laura and Kelly have worked up some kits for the bag as well. You can find them on their website,  You'll see some eye candy for knitters at both sites.  There has been a buzz on Ravelry on Susan's Even Star shawl.  You can see the finished product and get the pattern on her site.  And Laura and Kelly  colorways are gorgeous.  Their gradient colorways are so much fun to work with.  They gave a class on working with gradient yarns which I did not take.  I figured that since I've done a pair of socks and the Moon Fleet shawl with their gradient yarns and I had to choose only three classes, I could skip that one.  Plus, I really wanted to try the three techniques I chose.

I'll give you a preview of the next few postings continuing the season of fiber.  New York City held their second annual  yarn crawl over Columbus Day weekend which I attended. The Duchess County Sheep and Wool, better known as Rhinebeck (after the town where it's held), is the weekend of Oct 16.  Stitches East is at the end of the month in Hartford , CT.  That all for now. Bye.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Chapter

Today I did one of the things I never thought I would do.  I decided a few days ago that I would sign up to sell Avon.  I was contacted by one of the district leaders and met with her today.  At the end of the meeting, I had signed on.  I had known some women who worked for Avon when I was a member of Women in Flavors and Fragrance Commerce (WFFC) back in the early 80's.  I was impressed with the company then although I was a cosmetics snob.  I had interned for Eli Lilly Co in 1978 when I was going to pharmacy school.  I was assigned to work with the men who developed color products for Elizabeth Arden which was owned by Eli Lilly at the time.  I worked on replacing delisted color in lipsticks, gloss and blushers at first.  The only other women in the group was a Czech woman who developed the lipsticks.  The men developed and tested the powdered blushers, eye shadows, the cream blushers, lipsticks, bath products and perfumes.  They wore eye shadow, liner and mascara in the office to test how it wore in real life situations.  This sometimes brought about weird stares from the people who worked in the drug division when they forgot to take the make-up off when they went to lunch or meetings with corporate.  But I had associated Avon with less than high quality goods.  After all, how could it be that good if it was that inexpensive? I learned better during that summer at Lilly..  The researchers at Avon know more about skin than many working at the high priced cosmetic companies.  In fact the high priced companies are following what Avon has been doing in the past years.  I know we copied the colors that Avon, Lancome, Revlon and Maybelline had put out the season before.  And since I am really into taking care of my skin and think all women should do that,  but maybe can't afford a regimen that costs over $100 when it's all put together.  I will sheepishly admit that I've paid that much just for a jar of moisturizer in my search for products that won't irritate my skin.  Somehow, I became allergic to some of the ingredients used in products for sensitive skin.  I've tied Elizabeth Arden, Lancome, Clinique, Revlon, Bobbie Brown, Victoria Jackson and Erbe Dermocosmetica.  Within two months of use, they have all left my skin burning and red to the point I'm at the doctor getting topical steroids for my skin.  I talk to the person who sold me the products or contact the company but basically get no where because of the time span it takes for the symptoms to develop.  I can't (and won't) even  tally up the money I've spent on all of them.  Now I'm going to try Avon and see how they do.  Honestly, they can't do any worse than the others.  So I'm asking you if I can be your Avon Lady.  Leave me a comment and I'll get you access to the site where you can see the products, process your order and provide little goodies for you.

Here are some pictures of my latest creation.  It is the Yleonore's Sampler from MMario KKnits.  I made it in a 70% silk/ 30% cashmere lace weight yarn from China I got on eBay.  I am really impressed with the quality of the yarn.  It blocked well and feels wonderful.  The yellow is very rich as you can tell from this photo.   This one will be going on my website where it will be available for sale.  More on that later.

And here it is modeled by my friend Angela.  I hope to have my first pattern ready to publish in my next edition.  It's for a cowl I designed for
Team ColourMart during Ravelympics 2010.  The first post will be for the lace wight original.  That will be followed by a version in sock weight yarn.  Bye.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm Back

This was a tough month for me.  A week after the July 4th holidays, I came down with a miserable sinus infection.  It was viral so there really wasn't any need to go to the doctor because they can't do much for viral infections.  So I was miserable for about a week and a half.  Just vegged out, coughing, sniffling and sleeping.  Once I started to feel better, I got to trying to clean up around the house.  I really have no motivation to keep the house spotless.  Well, not the motivation I used to have.  It's funny, I'm a better housekeeper when I'm working even though I have less time to do it.  I procrastinate now.  No, I've always procrastinated in my life.  Not to the very last minute, but close.  I blame it on having to take care of the house when I was a kid.  Mom worked and I cleaned the house to help out and earn my allowance.  I started helping out when I was in third grade by starting dinner when I came home from school.  Yes, I was a latchkey kid back in the 60's.  Funny, I didn't think much of lighting a gas oven back then, but now I think who would let their eight year old do that now.  I was sort of like an only child since there is a 10 year difference in ages between me and my older brother.  Looking back, I was a very responsible child, more like a miniature adult.  I never had a set bedtime.  I just decided when I would go.  It was later than most of my friends' but not unreasonable and earlier than I see a lot of my friends have for their children now.  When I was 15, Mom bought a little store/deli on Ocean Ave in Point Pleasant Beach about a block from where Jenkinson has its aquarium.  I was down there yesterday looking for something unique to New Jersey to bring as a hostess gift to a knitting retreat at the end of the month.  The store is now split into a bagel shop and laundromat.  I spent 2 summers working there with Mom.  It's where I learned how to run a slicer, cut up chickens and cut up meat.  Spent the mornings getting the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia papers together for sale at 7 AM, ran the cash register most of the day and help Mom close the store around 9 PM.  I got one afternoon off to go to the beach.  I came back from the shore almost as white as when I went down.  I worked for two summers and did not get paid.  I did get a used '66 Mustang coupe when I was 16 1/2 and had my learner's permit.  I had that car for a year and a half until I went to college.  Then Mom and Dad sold it while I was away.  They said they really didn't need three cars with me away in school.  I could use one of theirs when I was home for vacations.  That meant I used Mom's car, a 1968 Mercury station wagon.  I took my driver's exam with that car or should I say boat.  Needless to say, it was a great comedown from my '66 Mustang.  I didn't have a car of my own again until my last year of college.  I got Mom's '72 Maverick.  It was a fast car, had the same V-8 engine that powered the '68 station wagon and maybe weighed 2/3 the weight of the station wagon.  I had the car on campus and could go where ever I wanted.  And since I had a very light schedule for my last year (more about that in another posting to come), I did enjoy the car.  On a trip to see my boyfriend (more about him to come too), I had the car doing 110 mph on the I-77 going from Marietta to Canton.  I blew past a state trooper and luckily he didn't stop me.  I was about the only car on the road but I guess he didn't want to chase me down.

Boy, did I take a turn down memory lane there.  So once I recovered, I took a trip to Delaware to see my brother and sister-in-law.  He finally retired from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield this summer, about 6 years after he really wanted.  But he's now starting up a consulting business for insurance brokers.  I think my sister-in-law is relieved.  I love my brother but he can be a pain and is somewhat spoiled.  Since Linda (my sister-in-law) was a stay at home mom, she waited on my brother.  So now that he's home, he still expects it.  He's not real bad, but will ask her for a cup of tea and dessert at night rather than getting it himself.  He just generally disrupts her day, expecting meals at certain times etc.  She had her routines down and maybe not eat lunch or have a really small one.  At least he hasn't started going with her to the store and such.  That used to drive my mother crazy when Dad did that.  He wanted out of the house and she wanted the time alone. Hopefully working 20 hours a week will get him out of her hair long enough.  Linda isn't a knitter as such.  She can knit but it isn't her thing.  She is into needlework, mainly crewel and needlepoint. She's joined the Needlework Guild in Delaware.  During my visit, she took me to a store in Bethany Beach, Sea Needles, which caters to both needlework and knitters.  They even carried homespun from local spinners on the Delmarva peninsula.  I was pretty good and only got some Kolliage sock needles (square 5" double points) and two ball of Mini Mochi.  I haven't found any Mini Mochi in my local stores so I was really interested in trying it.  It feels wonderfully soft and the color is remarkable.  I got a colorway that goes from purple to blue to green, a favorite colorway of mine.  I started a pair of fingerless mitts on the Kolliage needles and that was a mistake.  The yarn is too soft an slippery for metal needles.  I had needles sliding out at least expected times.  Luckily, I had brought some bamboo double points so I transferred the mitts to those and it was much better.  I had been using the bamboos to experiment with the one stitch below technique.  I had some Dale Heilo from another project so decided to do the mitts in the book.  I planned to use them as a nurses' gift for Caring for Cooper.  I switched needles (both a 2.25 mm or US2) and was much happier on both projects.  The Mini Mochi didn't slide off the needles and the Kolliage needles didn't split the  Heilo like the bamboos did.  The metals were a bit sharper so it made going into the row below a lot easier.  A little thing, needle composition, can make knitting so much better or so frustrating.  Slippery yarn and slippery needles can make any project a disaster.  Changing to a more grabby needle can make all the difference.  And the choice of needles is so random among knitters.  A lot of times, it's based on what needles are available or your LYS carries.  But try to take a few minutes and really look at your needles, yarn and project before starting.  Are you going to be digging into stitches, as in the knit one below patterns or lace with it's double decreases?  Is the yarn smooth or fuzzy?  Is it grabby like some wools or slick like bamboo or silk?  Is the pattern mainly stockinette or garter or is it all cables or bobbles?  Are the points of the needles pointy or dull?  The answers to these questions will effect the choice of needle material, manufacturer and even length.  So take a moment and think before you grab a set of needles for your next project.  If you do, it can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the project.  Bye.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bad Blogger

That's what I am.  I guess it's because I don't think that I'm very interesting.  And lately I've been feeling very scattered. I have a bad case of startitis.  That's not my usual.  I usually finish what I start before going on to the next.  Or at least, I have only one type of project going at a time.  Like I have only one lace project, one mindless knitting, one heavily patterned, you get my drift.  Right now I have at least 5 lace projects, a pair of socks, the gift for my nephew and at least one charity knitting project.  And I got another charity project off the needles last night.  Then there are at least 5 other projects that need to be blocked and finished.  Only one of the lace projects has any business being on the needles, well maybe two.  I'm doing Bad Cat Designs' Summer Swatch Me Knit Along. It's still in progress since summer isn't over.  I'm up to date with the clues despite starting late.  We have 4 or 5 swatches left to finish the sampler shawl, just the edgings.  The second lace project that has some rights to be on my needles is the MMario design, Ylenore.  I would have finished this, but ran out of yarn.  I thought the 1000 m I had of a lace weight 70% silk/ 30% cashmere blend I had would be enough.  I need at least 500 m more. So I went back to the seller on eBay and got 1000 m more (2 balls).  Now I'm waiting for it to come from China.  They said it could be here in as little as 7 days or as many as 21.  I've been really surprised by this yarn.  I haven't had a knot in either ball, it feels wonderful in my hand, and it was really inexpensive.  I got it for $0.99 and $8.95 shipping for the 2 balls.  A silk/cashmere blend for less than $5 bucks a ball is pretty good.   I know telling you about this bargain might not be wise as I may not get this yarn for the minimum bid any longer, but they have quite a few listings, so I'm not  overly worried.  And I want to share with my friends.

So now onto the other UFOs that shouldn't be hanging around.  I have the Moonfleet shawl Knit Along still hanging around.  And two Goddess Knits Knit Along shawls languishing, one since the Fall of 2008 or 2009.  And MMario's Mystery Knit Along from earlier in the year is sitting waiting to be finished.  Then there are the socks for my friend Angela.  Part of it is the pattern, it's a bit fiddly. The ribbon and hearts pattern is different than any other I've done.  I have maybe 2 more repeats to finish the leg on the first sock.  I think it's just a tight knit for some of the stitch manipulations needed for the pattern.  But it's what I need to make sure the sock will fit.  My nephew's throw is big now and hot to have on my lap, so I'm not inclined to work on it. I should get it out and measure it.  I have 5 or 6 balls left so not too much left.  I guess I should do one big push and get it done.  The charity knitting deadline is in mid-October.  So I have some time for that.  But I would like to get a few more pieces done for the hospital.  We'll see, but at least I have 6 things to donate already done.  Maybe one more.  Then there are the 3 sweaters for me that need to be blocked and finished.  That's all they need, seaming and blocking.   Not a lot, but I'm not in the mood.  And I could use 2 of the sweaters now.  They are summer weights, one I designed for myself using a ramie/silk blend from ColourMart.  The other is a bamboo tape yarn made using a sideways pattern off Ravelry.  It really can go 3 seasons so it would be useful too.  I won't use the tape to seam it.  I think it might add bulk to the seam.  I'll use some embroidery floss that matches the main color of the yarn.  Not that it matters that much since I use mattress stitch for these seams and it's invisible.  The third sweater is a vest I made last Feb but haven't seamed up or blocked yet.  It's out of Debbie Bliss Chunky Donegal Luxury Tweed, a winter vest.  I'm in no hurry to do that.  But should get it done and out of the way.  Then I can take stock of what I have for me and plan my knitting accordingly.  I do have yarn to do another Vine Yolk Sweater from the Fall 09 Twist Collection.  I made it in Whisper, an alpaca blend (now discontinued) for winter use.  I want one in a cotton blend for the rest of the year.  I got some Rowan All Seasons Cotton in a dark olive green for it.  Then I have some hot pink Gedifra Top Soft for  Lorelei from that same issue of the Twist Collection.  There are about 3 or 4 sweaters I want to make in the current issue and have the yarn in my stash.  But I won't start anything else until I get this UFO list down.  I promise.  I have a big lace project planned.  I'm going to tackle the Queen Susan Shawl.  I have ordered some hand dyed yarn from Knitivity in Pearl for this.  This pattern is available on Ravelry.  It's an old Shetland shawl that a museum in the UK had published.  A group on Ravelry was interested and made some inquiries.  They wound up working out the pattern and published it with the museum's blessing.  Last time I checked, no one had completed knitting it but quite a few had started.  I haven't gotten the 10 skeins of Dura-Lace from Ray yet.  The shawl is quite big.  I figured out I would need 9 for the estimated amount given in the pattern, but chose to get 10 just in case and since it hasn't been completely knitted.  Queen Susan will be a massive knit on fairly small needles so I need to clear the decks.  So I'm off to knit.  Bye.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baseball, Butt Cracks and Slow Progress

Today I experienced the phenomenon that is Red Sox vs Yankee baseball.  If you've been reading this blog, you know I am a Yankee fan.  However, I do not hate the Red Sox.  I actually feel bad for them this year.  Given all the injuries they've had this year, it's pretty remarkable that they're in third place.  But there are some fans, both Yankee and Red Sox, that become really obnoxious at the game.  I'm not sure if it's just their personality or the amount of alcohol they've imbibed.  The obnoxious Red Sox fans quieted down when the Yankees tied the game in the bottom half of the inning where the Red Sox went out to a 2-0 lead.  And then some obnoxious Yankee fans gave it to the Red Sox fans when the Yankees took the lead and held it to the end of the game.  Some people do need to learn how to be gracious winners.    Oh, Mr. Buttcrack was back again.  Luckily, this time he had a shirt on that was untucked.  I did catch a glimpse of his red briefs when he reached up, pulling the shirt up a bit.  Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one with low riding pants.  It really isn't a pretty fashion statement and it really looks funny when the pants' crotch is halfway to the knees.  I guess this too shall pass, but not fast enough for my tastes.

I'm making slow progress on the Teal (Pink) Ribbon socks I'm making for Angela.  The pattern is a little tricky especially making the ribbon part.  It is also slow going because I started the sock on size 0 needles.  That was the size I needed to make the gauge that was given in stockinette stitch.  I got about 4 inches up from the toe and thought the sock looked too narrow.  I checked my gauge on the bottom of the foot and found that my gauge was off.  So I went up to a size 1 needle and it is at gauge and the circumference of the foot is correct.  I don't know why my first gauge swatch was off.  I did it in the round and stockinette, so it should have been okay.  The only thing I can think that made the gauge off was that I tightened up while doing all the cableling and pattern stitchwork on the top of the foot.  But it should go a bit better now that I'm off the 0's.  At least there will be a few less rows to the inch now.  I have another pair of socks from the Knitters Brewing Co for me waiting.  They are fishnet socks with a flower applique.  I'm not sure I'll put the applique on the socks or use them as a pin or hair clip.  I should get back to working on the shawls for the store I want to start.   I will be selling on Etsy and a stand alone website.  Right now I have only 3 shawls completed and think that I need more inventory than that.  Then I have a bunch of things I want to make for myself.  The latest Twist Collection has come out and there are at least three sweaters I want to make there.  Then there's the 40+ things in my Ravelry queue and the charity knitting I want to do and, well you get the picture.  There are just not enough hours in the day to get all that I want to do done.  I guess I'll either have to grow two more hands, clone myself or prioritize things.  I guess since the first two alternatives aren't going to happen, it will have to be the third.  So I'm off to do just that.  Bye.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spectator to History

Today I was a spectator to baseball history along with 47,500+ people.  I was at the game where Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run.  He became the youngest of the six other players who have achieved that mark.  It was very unexpected, happened in an instant and was the only hit he got during the game.  It was wondrous to watch the ball fly and hope that it would go over the wall.  And when it did, it landed in the net over Monument Park.  There was no fighting over the ball, no negotiations for it with a fan.  Just a pure and simple flight into history.  It seemed quite fitting.  The roar of the crowd was deafening.  The ovation lasted the whole trip around the bases and then some.  It started up again when Alex came out to play defense.  He tipped his cap to the crowd several times.  It was something to see.  The couple next to me had their 10 month old son with them.  I am sure they will be telling him about this and showing him all the pictures they took for a long time. 

I have now taken my knitting to the stadium twice with no problems.  Of course, it is mindless knitting so I can watch the game.  This time I took a snuggle sack to donate to Cooper University Hospital.  It was at a point when all I was doing was going round and round.  I did start decreasing for the bottom.  The sack is made like a big ski hat, a long tube that tapers at the bottom.  I'm doing a little variation by having the first 8 to 10 inches open.  It can be closed with a button, or left open.  There's a pattern for this on Ravelry.   Here's the link: .  I had made some plain sacks for them earlier and thought this variation would be good.  There will be some knit  fabric behind the baby's head and  may  keep the baby warmer.  I'm using an acrylic worsted weight held double.  If you have a chunky weight yarn, you won't need to double it.  They are cute and would make good baby gifts.  Many babies sleep better if they are swaddled.  It also adds a extra cover that is safe for the child.  So if you're caught in a rash of babies and need some quick gifts, give this one a look.  Bye.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Wimped Out

I didn't go to the game last Saturday.  It was just too hot.  So I stayed home in the A/C and watched the game on TV.  I could hear the A/C coming on very often during the game.  A friend went and said it was quite unbearable.  All in all, I think I made the right decision.  I would have been very uncomfortable at the game.  I don't like wearing shorts to the game.  I don't like how I look in shorts.  I have very heavy legs.  I don't know where they came from.  Both my parents had thin legs and so did my maternal grandparents and paternal grandfather.  I didn't know my paternal grandmother.  She died when I was about 2 years old.  But from the few pictures I have, she didn't look like she had heavy legs.  I blame it  on starting dance lessons at the age of 4 and continuing until age 13.  My legs are always the last place that slims down when I loose weight.  My shape is a cross between a pear and hourglass.  I have a rather large bust, a thinner waist and then larger hips and thighs.  When I buy slacks, I always have to either take in the waist or tightly belt them.  Lately, I have been eating better (with occasional splurges) and am slowly loosing weight.  The jeans I bought in early May can now be pulled off without unbuttoning them. (Okay, the fat does push in when I do that, but they slide down really low if I have my keys in the pockets.  They almost came down while I was out shopping.)

On the knitting front, I bought the charting program Intertwined Pattern Studio the other day.  It doesn't have a demo, but for $44 it isn't that much to invest in a charting program.  I do have the demo of Knitware Basics to try along with the Intertwined Pattern Studio.  I have seen a lot of beginning designers using the Intertwined program.  I haven't heard too much about Knitware Basics, but thought trying the demo couldn't hurt.  I have several designs I would like to put on the blog but want to have charts as well as written directions.  Personally, I like using charts.  I guess it's from all the cross stitching I did, or maybe the Fair Isle and intarsia knitting.  However, I know that some out there can't use charts for a variety of reasons.  That's why I want to give you both.  So I will spend some time playing with both of these programs and let you know what I think. I have finally finished knitting the seed stitch top.  I have yet to do all the finishing.  Bad of me, I know.  I could use another summer top.  But I got distracted by BadCat Designs Summer Swatch Me KAL.  I spent the whole week catching up to the group on the sampler.  I also decided to make it wider and longer than the original.  I can knit stockinette and lace fast.  Especially when there are no beads to add.  I normally use the crochet hook method of adding beads to knitting.  I've tried the dental floss leader method and am more comfortable with the hook.  But I found a curved beading needle when I was shopping at Michael's for some inexpensive worsted weight wool for the Level 1 Master Knitting swatches.  I haven't checked them for flexibility but if the curve flexes enough to go back on itself, I may have a new way to slip beads on stitches.  I'll let you know how it works.

I have to confess, I am not a monogamous knitter.  I cannot have just one project going.  I think I have 8 or 9 projects on needles right now and the one top to finish.  Five are not for me, an afghan for my nephew, a pair of socks for a friend and three baby things for charity.  The others are KALs that I've joined and got bogged down in (usually by beads) or lost interest.  I eventually do go back to them and get them done.  I get sidetracked by the next KAL or it's time to get the charity knitting out or something lures me away.  I get them together and go through them.  I tend to finish the seamless projects right away.  (Duh)  But don't think I hate finishing, I don't.  I need to be in the mood to finishing and I do it well.  If I'm not in the mood, I do an okay, but not great, job of it.  I think the finishing can take a garment from "home made" to "hand made" or "custom made".  Sort of the same difference between ready to wear and couture.  You really don't want your work to scream HOME MADE.  You want them to have a custom made look.  Your finishing skills can make all the difference.  So practice your seaming and blocking to get that professional look.  Bye.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do I stay or do I go?

No, not the song, but to the Yankee game?  I'm watching the game now trying to decide if I go to the game tomorrow.  I'm having a hard time deciding because we are having another hot spell.  It is supposed to be in the mid 90's tomorrow with a heat index of 103-105.  I'm not sure if I want to sit in the stadium tomorrow in that kind of heat.  Last weekend when I was there it was hot but not that hot.  It was in the low 90's and with the heat index, high 90's.  I went through 4 bottles of liquids during the 6 hours I was at the game.  Plus some ice cream.  I did have a little breeze and was in the shade, so it wasn't that bad.  But I'm not looking forward to 100+ temperatures at the stadium.  The only reason I would go is to see if A-Rod hits his 600th home run.  He got 599 on Thursday against Kansas City.  He has gotten a lot of milestone home runs against KC, his first, 250th and 500th.  So I'm waiting to see what happens tonight.  Already, Jorge Posada has gotten his 1000th run batted in so there's one reason not to go.  But 600 home runs is a big deal.  Only 6 others have gotten that many.  Yes, I know a lot of the players that have over 600 home runs used performance enhancing drugs, including A-Rod.   But unlike Jason Giambi, A-Rod hasn't had the dramatic drop-off in hits and home runs after going off the drugs.  It has been longer between 500 ans 600 than any other 100 run segment, but he is also getting older.  So I will watch the game tonight (like I wouldn't otherwise, NO WAY) and then make my decision.

I have started a pair of socks for a friend.  They are from the Knitters Brewing Co, their June KAL on Ravelry, and called the Pink Ribbon Socks.  I am doing them in teal for my knitting friend, Angie.  Angie has just completed chemo for fallopian tube cancer.  If you don't know the colors of Awareness ribbons, teal is the color for reproductive cancer.  Angie is doing well, all the treatments worked and she is getting back her hair.  So if I go to the game, I may take the socks to work on.  I did take knitting last week to the stadium and it wasn't a problem.  The hearts and ribbons pattern on the sock may be something I can't do without watching, especially since it's on 2.0 mm needles, US size 0.  It's a bit tough to see, so I may have to start something mindless to bring with me.  Maybe I should start another baby sleep sack or blanket for charity.  They are mindless and require no attention from me.  And the needles are big enough for me to feel the stitches as  they come up to the needle tip.  Everything I have on needles now require charts and I really don't want to take a chart that I will have to keep looking at.   I guess I will start a sack on large circulars,  US 11's or 13's.  The sack is done with heavy chunky wool or double worsted weight.   I made a few for Cooper last year and should do some more.  They help babies secure while sleeping and quieter.  They swaddle the baby.     I guess I now have a plan.  So next break, I'm off to see what I have that I can combine to make the sleep sack and find my 16" circulars in size 11 and 13 and do a swatch to see how I like the combo.  So I'm off.  Bye.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What happened to the time?

OK.  I promised I would be blogging from the TKGA/CGOA event in New Hampshire TWO weeks ago.  So you may be wondering what happened.  I did take my laptop to the show.  I figured out how to access the free wifi at the hotel.   I even went online to see how it would all work.  And did I blog?  NO!  I was alternating dying from the heat.  Manchester, NH was no cooler than New York City after July 4th.  OK, maybe 5 degrees cooler, so what's 99 with high humidity compared to 103 and high humidity.  No difference in my opinion.  Then I was freezing in the class rooms and my hotel room.  The classrooms, I had little control over the temperature; my room, I battled the maids.  I would set the room at 74-75 when I came in.  The temperature would be reset to 68 after the maid was done.  It would take some time to warm up.  Add on that I could not direct where the A/C blew, and, of corse, it blew directly on the head of the bed.  I came down with a terrible cramp/ strain/whatever of the muscle going over my left scapula.  You know, that wing shaped bone on the bottom of the shoulder.  I went out for some pain killers.  Got some generic Aleve at the local drug store because I wanted the longer relief but it didn't work as well as the ibuprofen I had in my bag.  So I braved the heat again to get some ibuprofen.  This happened on the second day of classes.  I made it through my classes and some friendly knitting in the lounge.  I then hoped that sleeping in my own bed and at the normal temperature I keep my house at would help heal the shoulder.  No such luck.  It still hurt and it was taking 600 mg of ibuprofen four times a day to keep it in check.  I decided that typing was not a priority until the shoulder felt better.  Even knitting was not a priority, so I did not finish the top for the ColourMart challenge.  In fact I finished the sleeves today, a full day after the challenge ended.  I still have to block the pieces, sew it together and run in the ends.  I did finish one entry, a lace shawl, but I doubt I will win any prizes.  I did not accumulate enough points for a first place in any category.

The classes at the conference were great.   I would say all of them were the quality you get at Stitches.  In fact they probably are the same as those given at Stitches since many of the teachers will be at Stitches.  The cost for classes were less than Stitches especially if you are a TKGA or CGOA member.  And if you're interested in crochet, there are may classes to learn or hone your skills.  It isn't as crowded as Stitches so you can really see what's in the market or get the attention you need in class.    The market isn't as  big as that at Stitches, it still gets enough of a choice and had everything you needed for the classes, in case you forgot something.  I saw Lion Brand and Dale of Norway there as well as some yarn shops from as far away as Virginia and Canada.  I started the TKGA  Masters program several years ago, but have been scared to send in my swatches for evaluation.  I went to an additional program specifically on the program.  It definitely helped me get over my nerves on submitting my book.  They had the books of previous Master candidates with their evaluation letters.  I could see what was acceptable and what was not.  So while I did see that I has some work to do and needed to replace some of my swatches, I gained confidence that I could get through it now without redoing any of my swatches.  I also learned that the program was being revamped with a greater emphasis on gauge, one of my pet peeves.  I noted that there was very little mention of gauge and how to obtain it in the Level 1 program.  I think it is a basic of knitting and the understanding of gauge, how it's measures and ways to obtain it should be in the Level 1 tests.  The committee agreed with me and are changing the program to do just that.  So now I have to wait until the end of the month to get the new program, redo some of the swatches, rewrite a report and submit my book.  Wish me luck.

I want to let you know about an independent fiber artist who is supporting wildlife rescue efforts in the Gulf.  As you know, the Gulf is rich in wildlife and they are in trouble with the oil leak there.  Susan of Susan's Spinning Bunny has made a special colorway called No More Oil Spill whose profits will go to help with Gulf wildlife.  Here's a link to her palette where you can see a picture of the yarn and a project made with the yarn, .  I picked up some for socks and mitts.  I know knitters are compassionate people and animal lovers at heart.  After all, we love the fibers and yarns that those animals provide.  Bye now.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Holiday Weekend

I was in the Bronx  today as it was one of my Saturdays for a game.  It was a warm, beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.  I was quite comfortable because my seat is under an overhang and not in the direct sunlight.  It was brutal if you were sitting in the sun.  Many men had wet handkerchiefs on their heads trying to keep cool.  I saw many a sunburn walking around the park.  In fact, I picked up a slight burn on my decolletage.  Not sure if I got it while driving over in the convertible or at the game.  I did put on a 45 or 60 SPF product about a half hour before taking the top down on the car.  It isn't bad, just a little pink.  I did get to see more decolletage at the game, more than I wanted.  The man in the seat in front of mine was a David Wells look alike.  He has either  lost a bunch of weight and hasn't replaced his wardrobe yet because he has more to go or wears his pants under his stomach without a belt.  Either way, there was a lot of butt cleavage showing, and not good butt cleavage, hairy butt cleavage, almost all the way down to the anus butt cleavage.   It was not a pretty site and I made sure to look away whenever he stood up or sat down.  It was shown during the 6th inning playing of YMCA and again at the 7th inning stretch.  He finally pulled up his pants and underwear a bit, they were boxers by the way, after the stretch.  I wanted to tell his wife or girlfriend to get him some shorts that fit or a belt, but that would have been presumptuous of me.

On the knitting front, I appear to have gotten my taste for seed stitch back.  I finished the back and started the front.  I have most of the front designed already from the back.  I still have to work out the neckline.  I was thinking about a deep U neck or a deep V neck.  The cardigan that will go with the top will have a V neck and some lace panels.  The V neck makes more sense, it will echo the cardigan.  But I want to wear the top on its own as well as with the cardigan.  I do have a lot of knitting to do before I have to decide.  I'm also working on the Moonfleet Shawl.   I've finished one edging and picked up for the body of the shawl.  I'm behind the others working on this KAL.  Most of the others working on this are more than half way done, probably three quarters of the way through.  I am enjoying it and it is a break from the seed stitch.

I am going to TKGA later in the week.  I will be posting from there.  I'm taking courses on Orenburg lace, a refresher actually.  I'm also taking a class on photographing your work and pattern drafting.   There's a couple more classes in the agenda as well.  I'll keep an eye out for any new things being exhibited at the show.  I am also planning a side trip to Webs on the way back from the conference.   I'll let you know about my finds in their back room, well actually their back warehouse.  Last time I was there, I got some Noro for about $5 a ball.  I wonder what surprises I will find this time.  Bye

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup and Knitting

Thanks to the World Cup, I have found out the nationality of my neighbors in the next house down.  I knew they were Hispanic and either from Central or South America.  My neighborhood has a fair number of Hispanics and the town seems to have a large contingent from South America.  My neighbors are from Paraguay.  I know this because after the match between Paraguay and Japan today, one of my neighbors came out cheering, grabbed the flag that was on their house and went running down the street.  I looked at the World Cup scores and found out that Paraguay won and is in the group of 8.  Funny, we Americans would rarely do that.  People at the Olympics will wave the flag at an event, but I've never seen people running through the streets waving the flag because a USA team won.  Perhaps, we've become too jaded with all the sporting events within the country.  Perhaps we no longer have a national sport, unlike many countries where football (soccer) is the national sport.  But it was nice to see this spontaneous demonstration of joy and national pride I saw this morning.

I have been watching some of the World Cup matches and not just the USA team's matches.  The crowd noise and the vuvusellas can be distracting, but I like watching the matches.  Maybe because my older brother played soccer while in college and did get a letter.  It and Yankee games are my prime knitting time.  I did get bored with all the seed stitch and jumped on the Icelandic Lace Group's KAL for a shawl.  It is the Lacy Shawl by Rowan.  I made it in Kidsilk Haze (the yarn specified in the pattern) in a color called Majestic.  It is the color of distant mountains, a hazy grayish lilac purple.  The color doesn't photograph well, but here are some of the finished shawl.  It took me about 2 weeks.  I used 5.0 mm (US 8) for it.  It really doesn't need to be dressed being knit in a fuzzy mohair.  Plus it is about 4 feet long at the center point.  I'm only 5'2" so if I stretched it out any more, it would definitely be too long.  I haven't decided if I'm keeping this one.  I have been thinking about sending it to my old college boyfriend's new fiancee as a wedding gift and peace offering.  What do you think?

I must be getting into a combination mood of wanting to finish things but I have startitis.  I went back to a drudge knit that I didn't think would be a drudge.  I was making a side to side top I found on Ravelry.  I chose a lovely bamboo tape yarn for it.  It was in stockinette stitch, mindless knitting, something I took to knitting group.  I started it in early April, I just finished the knitting today.  The thing just went on and on.  Now I just have to do the seams and crochet around the neck to finish it.  Whew!!  I have several projects waiting to be finished, a Goddess Knits shawl that only needs the edging completed, MMario's Mystery Shawl that's half done and the Moonfleet shawl.  But I want to cast on for a pair of socks.  I just got a kit from the Knitters Brewing Co for their Ravelry KAL of the Pink Ribbon Socks.  The KAL started in May, but is running through July.  I didn't get their Breast Cancer Pink yarn.  I got a teal yarn which is the color for reproductive cancers.  My knitting friend, Angela, has just completed chemo for fallopian tube cancer and so far, so good.  But I'm doing these in honor of Angela.  I may make them for Angela or make her a second pair.  Part of the cost of the kit is going to Susan G Komen so it's a good thing all around.  Or I could and probably should go back to the endless seed stitch and try to complete it for the challenge.  Choices, choices, what should I do?  Let me know what you would do.  Bye.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Is Here

It's finally starting to get hot here in New Jersey.  It actually feels more like August than late June.  And it has made me a bit lazy and changed my knitting habits.  Even though it is a summer top, I am really having trouble working on my ramie/silk moss stitch design for the Ravelry ColourMart group challenge.  I've put it aside and am working on the June KAL for the Icelandic Lace Yahoo group.  I think the light lacy mohair is just more appealing than the moss stitch design. 

In fact, I have several projects in wool and alpaca waiting to be finished.  One is a throw for my nephew that a blend of wool, alpaca and acrylic.  It's machine washable in cold water and can be hung to dry.  I wanted something warm for him and easily cared for because he has two cats.  I'm making the Sedona Throw that was in the Jan  2010 issue of Creative Knitting.  I'm using Schachenmayr Silenzio in a sage green.  It's a bit brighter than the picture here.  He has brown leather furniture and the cats are not declawed so I think there will be pulls and whatnot in it.  But I got the yarn on sale at Webs in January, so I'm not going to get stressed if the cats destroy it.  And my nephew asked me to make him a throw when I saw him at Christmas.  He has been very appreciative of the knitted things I have made for him so I made this for him.  He has also liked the socks I've made for him.  They do take a bit of time since he has size 12 feet.  But then, he is 6'4", so it would be weird if he had tiny feet. I told him I would have the throw completed for his birthday which is August 3.   So either I have to wish for a cold snap (highly unlikely), bring it with me to the TKGA conference in New Hampshire (and hope it's cold there in July), crank up the A/C (not very likely) or just suffer.  Perhaps, I'll take it to NH and crank up the A/C in the room that way, I don't have the electric bill and I'll have something to do in the evenings.

Speaking of TKGA, I have decided to do their Masters program.  I got the info and started it several years ago.  But the death of my mother interfered with completing Level 1.  I then got busy taking care of my father and never got back to it.  I checked on the requirements and can salvage most of what I did earlier.  So I will be taking part in the 'On the Way to Your Masters Day' that is being held on the Wednesday before the conference.   I'll bring my swatches along, because they asked attendees to bring the materials they have so far with them.  I have been stressing a bit on the swatches.  My knitting is good  except for the first stitch.  I knit continental (picking) normally and the first stitch is a little wonky, more like a knot.  I tried knitting American or English (throwing) but it didn't make a difference.  I did see some samples of the swatches on Ravelry and their first stitch is a bit off too.  I'm just hoping to get through the first level without redoing too many swatches.  I think it's because I've never had my knitting judged.  I've never entered the state fair.  Growing up, I don't think NJ had a state fair.  My county didn't have a county fair.  I lived in Passaic County while growing up.  It was too suburban to have a county fair.  Only counties like Hunterdon or Sussex, where there were farms, had county fairs.  The state fair is now held at the Meadowlands, not exactly the country.  Football hasn't started and basketball is over so there's a lot of parking and places to set up rides, but I think the race track is open.  I guess if the parents get bored, they can leave their older children and bet on the horses.  So wish me luck and I'll let you know how I do.  Bye.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Subway Series

Today I got to experience the phenomenon that is the Subway Series.  The Mets were playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Actually, I have been going to Yankee Stadium since the beginning of the season as I decided to get partial season ticket plan.  I have very nice people around me.  However, at this game, the whole stadium took on a different complexion.  It was more crowded than usual and a lot of the more expensive seats were full, full of Mets fans.  I have never heard so much cheering for the other team at any other game that I've been to.  And I have now seen the craziest rally hat ever, the Mets rally hat.  They wear their hats with the back folded against the front and the bill standing straight up.  Only one half of their head is covered.  The Yankees won the game, stopping a 4 game loosing streak. It was interesting to see them flash a shot of Paul O'Neill for a between innings game they have.  Paul was broadcasting the game on the YES Network.  They caught Paul eating a slice of pizza.  If you've ever watched a game on YES when Paul is broadcasting with Michael Kay or anyone else, there are lots of comments about the food that shows up in the booth for Paul.  Of course, there's just about any food you may want at the stadium.  You can find hot dog and Cracker Jacks to sushi and barbecued pork to salads and veggie burgers.  And if you splurge on the front row seats known as the Legend seats, you have all the food and non-alcoholic beverages you want.  And that area has its own restaurant and bar, with anything: Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Kosher, a carving station, you name it.   It is a buffet, but one with fine china, silverware, crystal glasses and table cloths.  You can watch the game from any table because there many monitors in the place for you to watch the game.  Heck, they even pipe the radio feed into the bathrooms.  You don't miss a play.

As for my knitting, I'm still working on my top and the shawl.  I have learned that I might be able to bring my knitting into the stadium.  I think I may try to bring one of my charity projects in an inexpensive acrylic to test the waters.  I've been told that Gate 8 has allowed knitting needles in.  I always thought that the Yankees didn't allow needles into the stadium, so I've never tried.  But the Yankee fan group on Ravelry has said they do and several members have brought projects to the games.  I try to do something for charity after each project I do for myself or family.  Right now I have been doing baby items for an in-state hospital near Camden.  Camden is either the most depressed city in the state or second most depressed.  Many babies go home in diapers only.  Many people across the country support the hospital with hats, sweaters, booties, flannel sheets, isolette covers, buntings, sleep sacks and what ever a new born may need.  Here's a link to the Yahoo group supporting them, .  I also make helmet liners for the troops.  The ones the military supplies are not very warm for the winters in Afghanistan or Iraq.     There are two groups doing that.  One is  the old Operation Helmet Liners which is part of Citizen SAM now.  Here's their link, .  The other is The Ships Project, .  I know the wars we are currently involved in are not very popular. In fact, I don't believe we should have invaded Iraq the last time. However, that doesn't mean I don't support the troops.  They are doing a job many of us would not want.  They are putting their lives on the line so we can have freedom and rights that others don't have.  They deserve our support.

 My LYS has a yearly charity project centering around a bus trip they run to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  This year it was wash cloths for Haiti and two local women's shelters.  Most years, the project supports the women's shelter with gloves, hats and afghans.  A local group run out of a library also does charitable projects.  I think most knitters are nurturing and find various outlets for that part of their personalities.  If they have large families, they most likely supply everyone with hats, gloves, scarves and the like.  Others, like me, with small families, find other outlets.  We  do for others to spread the fruits of our labors.  So if you are inclined to doing good works and need a place that would appreciate your works, you can investigate the ones here or look for others, like Afghans for Afghan, Project Linus, or many others.  I'm sure they can use your help.  Bye.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Improvements

I live in a house that was built in the mid 80's. I am the second owner of the house. The first owners ad the house built and it's been interesting finding out all the weird choices they made during that process. The house is well designed with a large kitchen and master suite. It has a walk-out finished basement with three rooms, a utility room and two others, one was called the exercise room and the largest was used for a business they had. It seemed odd to me that there was no bath on that level. I know that if I had planned an exercise room, I'd have a bath close to it, one with at least a stall shower in it. But no, you have to go up two floors to get to a shower and one to get to a sink. They had extra heavy duty wiring run throughout the house. In fact, it's so heavy duty that the quick connects you find on sockets and wall switches can't be used because the wire won't fit. I do a little electrical work in my house, like changing wall switches, sockets and light fixtures. I've even changed circuit breakers in the main box. But then my dad trained as an electrician and taught me how to do those things. The master bath was finished very modestly. The bath is huge, at least 12' by 15'. But it only has a toilet and a combo tub /shower. The sink is in a separate area with a closet, a small dressing area. Over the years I've had it, since 1998, I've replaced the roof, some of the plumbing, furnace, water heater and air conditioner. Now I'm replacing all the windows and redoing the landscaping. I can see how the economy is still not that great. I use a website called Service Magic to find contractors for the larger jobs around the house. Within 15 min of finishing the request for contractors to give me an estimate, they were calling. So now I am scheduling people to come to the house and give me estimates. And I need to clean up.

On the knitting front, I couldn't resist casting on for something new. I casted on for the June KAL in the Icelandic lace Yahoo group. It's called the Lacy shawl by Rowan. The chart is horrible. It was unreadable in the original published form. One member, De-De, redid the chart, finding there was a 14 stitch repeat in the pattern. The chart did not address the end of the shawl, just stating to keep decreasing until there are 5 stitches left where you switch to stockinette stitch and keep decreasing to 3 stitches for the bind off, basically 4 rows of stockinette to finish. Plus it's done in Rowan's Kid Silk Haze, a fluffy mohair, that is horrible to frog. However, it does hold a stitch, so if you have some slide off the needle, you can easily get them back on without any laddering. I chose a color called Majestic. It's a grayed pale lilac that should go well with my wardrobe. It's knit as a top down single triangle, so I had 268 stitches to cast on a 6.0 mm (US 10) needle. I used a cable cast on because 1) it's very stretchy and 2) it doesn't require me to figure out how long a tail is needed. I just need to leave some tail, make a slip knot on the needle, then go. I don't have to rip it out because I didn't leave enough of a tail. I use the cable cast on when I need a stretchy cast on, like cuff down socks, and where I have a lot of stitches to cast on. It's very stable and easy to do. It's a good one to add to your repertoire. As for my challenge top, I did work on it and I've gotten all the armhole shaping done. It's down to below 100 stitches so it will move along quickly. And I shouldn't have to do any edging unless I want to since it's in moss stitch.

I think I glossed over something in my last post that's really important. That is a gauge swatch. I ALWAYS do a gauge swatch. It was instilled in me by my mother who taught me to knit at a young age. She always made gauge with the suggested size needles, even with a substitute yarn. But she always checked and so do I. It's especially important if you are substituting yarns. I also use a lot of yarns that are leftovers from knitting mills. These yarns are oiled for machine knitting but I hand knit with them. I need to remove the oil and let the yarn bloom before I can tell how it will look in the final garment. You also need to see the drape of the yarn at the suggested gauge. It might be too drapey or stiff for your liking. You then may want to rethink the project, change the yarn, change the pattern or change both. A good gauge swatch can help in so many ways. I used to do a 20 stitch gauge swatch because I never used to do anything other than a sport or worsted weight yarn. They were always between 4 and 5 inches, enough stitches to measure accurately. Now I make sure I have 2 pattern repeats at a minimum, unless it's a huge repeat, 30 stitches or more, or 4 inches based on the reported gauge on the label from the manufacturer. Then I add at least 6 more stitches to have an edge of 3 garter stitches and a field of 4" in whatever the gauge pattern states. I mean if the pattern gauge is in a lace pattern like feather and fan, you should use feather and fan for the swatch. If it's a 2 by 2 right cross over cable on a reverse stockinette field with 10 stitches between cables, then you use as many cables with 10 stitches in between as allowed by the number of stitches. If there is no pattern stated for the gauge, the default is stockinette stitch. Remember, ding a gauge swatch can save much frustration, many disasters, and trips to the frog pond. Until next time, Bye.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dangers of the Internet

I may be more curious than some others, but I think many of us wonder what ever happened to our 7th grade crush or the old college boyfriend. The advent of social networks has now made it possible for us to satisfy that curiosity. I recently joined facebook and have been a member of Classmates for several years. Through those two I have caught up with old friends and acquaintances. But recently, I have had the two most diverse reactions to my inquiries. I have been looking for my college sweetheart for the last 20 years. We did not have a good end to our relationship, but I was long over it. He was never active in the alumni association so that avenue was closed. I really didn't want to hire a detective to find him, so I tried some of those online services such as people search. That too was a dead end. I tried to find him through Classmates, but he wasn't there. After joining facebook, I thought I would give that a try, although I didn't hold out much hope. Lo and behold, he was there. I sent him a message and he responded. We had some conversations but it turns out that he really feels guilty about his behavior towards me back then. I had told him that I wasn't interested in picking up where we had left off, but I would like to be friends with him. I didn't hear back for a while and decided to check my friends list. He wasn't there any more. I was upset and thought he had unfriended me. He eventually answered me saying it was a computer foul up but he didn't try to refriend me when it happened. Unfortunately, it turns out that he can't deal with his past behavior and the fact that I had forgiven him. Or maybe it's that he's now engaged for maybe the 8th time to a woman who is young enough to be his daughter. ( He's 62 and she's 36.) That was the bad encounter. Now for the good one. I was searching for some names of old friends on facebook and found my old high school boyfriend. We had a nice conversation, laughing about the fogged windows in his old car and agreed to keep in touch now that we had found each other. As I get older, I find I want to reconnect with those from my past. It's like putting on that old sweatshirt, warm and comfy.

Now to the knitting. I have been plugging along on the ramie/silk top I mentioned in the first
episode. I have about 7-1/2 in still to go to the armhole bind off and shaping. I'm finding seed stitch a bit boring and am still on the back.

I have until July 20 to finish this. Any bets that I will make it? I think this is worse than lace. I did sign up for a KAL with Knit n Knag based on Norse mythology. I got some yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon (the recommended yarn) for it in a lovely green and brown shades. Unfortunately, the color is either retired or discontinued now. The first pattern clue comes out today. I will have to resist the urge to start it. I am so behind in so many KALs I don't know why I signed on for this one, except I love her designs. I haven't started the Winter KAL from Goddess Knits. Part of that was because I just found the right color beads for the hand-dyed yarn I got from my friend Wendy. The beads Wendy suggested looked too purple against the
multi-shaded blues . I've finally found a navy blue matte bead that looks good against the wool. I have the MMario MMystery KAL to finish. I'm more than half done with it, but put it away to do the Ravelympics. I also got the Moonfleet KAL from The Unique Sheep through EarthFaire. I bought a kit from Ellen that included the pattern, wool and beads. I did do the swatch for that shawl with the darkest color of the Eos gradience I purchased. Here's a picture of that. The second repeat has the beads while the first does not. I did a swatch for gauge because I have a finite amount of each of the 4 colors in the gradient. I wanted to be sure I would have enough to finish the shawl. But I normally do a gauge if one is given. I always do one when I'm designing so I know the finished product will fit and to plan the shaping of the garment. I have to know how many stitches I need to increase or decrease and how many rows I have to do it in. Well, I'm off for today. Gotta get back to my challenge top. Au demain (for the non-French speakers, Bye.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fanaticism and Addiction

I am a sports fanatic even though I don't play one, unless you count scuba diving as a sport. I love pro football, college basketball and Yankees baseball. Then there's Formula 1 racing, hockey (although I'm still not sure of some of the rules), college baseball and softball and Indy car racing. I even like boxing. But right now, the boys of summer have my attention. I grew up watching the Yankees and Mets on television, but mainly the Yankees, Dad was an AL guy. I would go to the stadium for games with my dad when my brother couldn't get a client to go to the game. I even went to Shea to see the Yankees when the old house was being renovated. Now I have a partial season plan for Saturday afternoons. I would get a full season plan, but the Yankees don't allow knitting needles in the park. That's just too much prime knitting time to not have something to work on. Plus, given the length of some of the Yankee games, I can't see me getting home at midnight or later. So I stay home, curled up in my big, old, comfy chair working on socks, my nephew's afghan or sometimes the never ending sweater and watch the game on YES.

The current project is sweater set I'm designing. So far, I've gotten the back up through the waist shaping. So it's on to the rest of the back. I haven't worked out the armhole shaping yet. But that will be tomorrow. I have a good idea on how I will do this. It helps that I have taken a few fitting classes over years. The classes at Stitches and the TKGA meetings are good resources for leaning on how to change a pattern to fit your body. It is imperative that you get your self measured and then use those measurements. It may not be pretty and you may hate the numbers that you see, but they are just that, numbers. A well fitted garment will make you look better and thinner. It can give you the illusion of a waist where there is none, play up your assets, change your proportions to be more balanced visually. What more could you want? OK, it can't take the 20, 50 or how ever many pounds you may want to loose, but it can hide a multitude of sins. You just have to look at the good parts to play up and NOT the parts you hate. We all have them, from Julia Roberts to Mary Sue around the corner. So take a class, get measured by someone you trust and work on showing off your assets.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Start

This is the first post in my blog. I've often thought about doing this but never actually sat down and did it. I will be writing about my life, my knitting and whatever crosses my mind. I suppose I should tell you something about myself. I'm a single middle-aged woman living in a upscale suburban town in western New Jersey. I live in the section of town that once held the maid, gardeners and stone masons for the large estates in the area, a section known as Italian Hill. Now a days, it houses immigrants who perform those tasks for the rich people on the mountain and regular working people. I spent 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry, making many of the medicines you've probably used. For six years, I was responsible for the Neosporin product line along with many other products. I was quite successful at my work. I left my job to take care of my parents in their last days. Both of them are now gone and now I find that I like staying at home. I did not have children so I have been either working or in school since I was sixteen. It feels good to be at home, doing the things I like and those that I don't on my own schedule. I have more time to do some charitable works I always wanted to do. I have time to start designing some knitware. I have time to investigate what will be next for me. Enough about me, onto the knitting.

I am participating in a challenge on Ravelry, in the ColourMart group. If you are a knitter and
haven't joined Ravelry, you should. It's free to join and has a massive repository of patterns. You can get advise and have questions answered about your knitting and other things. The challenge involves using ColourMart yarns for garments and accessories. The challenge categories are lace, sweaters, shawls and designer. It started May 20th and runs to July 20. So far I have made a shawl and am working on part of a twin set for myself. This is not a little knit since I am not a little woman.

Here is a picture of the finished shawl. The design is Threadfall by MMario. It can be found in his Yahoo group, MMario KKnits. I made it in a light laceweight from ColourMart. It is a 2/36NM cashmere in a color called Argent. If you haven't tried ColourMart yarns yet, you should try one of their sets on eBay. You get a lot of cashmere yarn for a very small price.
The second project in this challenge is a twin set. I am designing the set in a ramie/silk dk weight yarn. The set is a short sleeved, u-neck top with a v-neck cardigan. The top is made in moss stitch, otherwise known as double seed stitch. The cardigan will have lace panels on the fronts and back. The lace panels, button bands and edges will either be or include seed stitch. I am entering the top and cardigan separately. I've just started the top. I've made all the notes I need to be able to make this again since I have some more ramie/silk and a linen/silk blend for tops and cardigans. Of course I will check my gauge with the other yarns because I want my garments to fit.

I think I've come to an end. So far, so good. See you next time.