on the needles

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Knitting Like a Hurricane

I've been knitting like mad lately in order to try to finish my Rowan Willow jacket (my Fall Cable KAL project) before the end of my knitting class. I wanted to have supervision to do all of the elements of construction which I haven't attempted before: tacking on pockets, a pocket border, picking up and knitting a collar, and sewing on button bands and making buttonholes. I thought I had done it too! I had all the knitting done and the back piece blocked (steam blocking - also a new thing for me). When I went to block the two front panels.....arggh! I had neglected to reverse the neck shaping for the right side panel. Damn it! I am going to have to take the last ten rows out and reknit them. Not a big deal, but it did mean that I wasn't finished in time to finish up the project for my class. :( Luckily, my very generous teacher has offered to help me out during regular hours. Hooray! Hopefully, I will put a big dent in the finishing by this time next week.

Here's a shot of Willow when it was in progress:

These are the sleeves. The yarn is a bit washed out in these photos unfortunately - the usual problem with the camera flash and dark yarn. :( You can see the small stripe of brown at the cuff. It will be repeated in the collar.

While Willow is busy blocking, I picked up an old project from last fall. Remember Myrtle? I finished the back last year and this week I did one front side and 3/4ths of the other. Wow! My knitting has gotten alot faster since the last time I laid my hands on good old Myrtle. Stockinette just whizzes by these days! My on the needles list on the sidebar is getting embarrassing so I am actually going to try to finish up a few of those projects - starting with Myrtle. :)

Don't let that make you think I have turned over a new leaf though because I also started a new project. :) Blush! I got some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky at the fall sale at the LYS. I had been wanting to do something in this yarn so I got enough to knit a vest for my husband. It is Hurricane from Rowan's Plaid Collection. There are alot of great patterns in that book - gotta love that Kim Hargreaves! But after my intense three weeks of knitting on Willow I wanted a quick project (read - no sleeves and simple construction!). And boy is this quick! I just started it tonight and am 3/4th of the way through the back. I think they should rename the Superchunky and call it Superspeedy instead! The real fun will start when I do the front. I am determined to stick with my non-cable needle cabling method and the Debbie Bliss is decidedly more slippery than the Chunky Tweed. I think I will be fine though. Or maybe that's just the punch drunk optimism of a productive knitting day talking!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Quilt from my "Collection"

Tons of knitting going on around here but I can't find the cable to download the pictures off of my camera so I will save the knitting news for later.

For now, here's another one of the quilts from my "collection".

It is Amish and all hand quilted. It is signed and dated as well. I'm not sure of the name of this star pattern - I think maybe the Kansas Star?? Can't remember.

I'm not as fond of this quilt as I am of the Lone Star quilt. The Lone Star is better quality overall and the colors are really fabulous. The Kansas Star is more subdued - in fact my favorite feature on this quilt is the creamy white print used as the background fabric.

I am really attracted to the star pattern for quilts. I like the large central motif better than the more busy, and perhaps more folksy looking overall motif's (such as Wedding Ring, Log Cabin etc.) although I do have examples of those types of patterns in my collection as well. I think I have six king sized quilts and probably six twin sized. In the past I bought about a quilt a year - but I didn't get to Pennsylvania this year so no new quilt! Just as well for my pocket book!! No matter how many I have, if I see one that is really special I just can't resist. :)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yarn Management for the Highly Organized

I keep a spreadsheet of my yarn stash. It has all the stats on each yarn - how much of it, the gauge it works to etc. I also have photos of each yarn so I can see the color. This is really handy so that if, in my wide travels across the internet, I come across a great pattern, I can instantly tell if I have the yarn which will suit.

I also have a "work in progress" spreadsheet. The name is a bit misleading (ambitious?!) because this list is for all of the projects I am currently working on as well as all of the projects I have waiting in my stash. There are pictures of the pattern and the yarn and all of the info that goes with it.

I also, (and this is where it starts to get a little, well, maybe weird? I call it well organized but there are a number of other names for it!) have a spreadsheet of projects I want to make in the future. It has a photo of the project, what yarn it calls for and all of the specs for that yarn (most importantly the yardage and gauge so I can easily substitute). Sometimes I also have the number of skeins for a preferred sub yarn already worked out. This database is really useful when you see that great batch of lovely yarn at a bargain price on eBay.

A few days ago I spent about 2 hours updating all of my spreadsheets. That sounds like a lot of time but I hadn't done it in months. I got distracted from organizing my virtual stash while I worked in my craft room organizing my actual stash. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The Rowan Harris Yorkshire Tweed Chunky has been cast on in the Willow pattern and is going swimmingly. I am joined the Fall For Cables KAL since I was just starting a cable project anyway. I took a photo two days ago but it turned out really dark & you couldn't see a darn thing on it! Oh well, since then I have finished the back up to the start of decreasing for the armholes. I had forgotten how quickly chunky yarn works up. :) The larger needles start to cramp up my hands a bit if I knit for a long time though.

This is my first major project with cables. I made a pillow with cables for my son last year and started (but haven't finished - note the sidebar :( - a hat) but that's the extent of my cable experience. I really love the look of cables. Whenever I see anything knit with cables I always think it looks really impressive. But, I found working with the cable needle to be quite fiddly and strange. So this time around I was determined to learn to cable without a cable needle. I read up on the subject in a book called Cable Needle Freedom. To my surprise, it was a very obvious method once you stopped to think about it. Better yet it is REALLY EASY to do - even with slippery, blunt Addi Turbos (which I won't give up for any project!). It has been a breeze! I'm moving right along, not making any mistakes or dropping any stitches. (Knock Wood!) If you are going to try to learn this method I highly recommend using a chunky, 100% wool yarn. The stitches stay put when you take them off the needle, are super easy to pick up and transfer to the other needle & back again.

Give it a try. It's quick and painless - I promise.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

What's up with Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed?

I bought a bunch of this yarn about two weeks ago. It was on sale & I love her other yarns so I thought I would give this a try. I thought it would make a nice sweater for my husband. I chose the green color.

So last night I sat down to swatch for the sweater & it was a disaster. The yarn snagged a little and then broke when I tried to pull the end out of the middle of the skein. Then as I cast on it broke again, and again, and again. I finally gave up after it broke four times. I was never able to get more than ten stitches on the needles. I used the German Cast On method and didn't yank or mistreat the yarn in anyway. But everytime the yarn caught a bit on the slubby tweedy bits it would just come apart. It's not breaking in a clean, snapping break - it's more like the yarn just disintegrates. The way a cotton ball does when it is pulled apart.

Has this happened before to anyone else? With this yarn or others? I have another bunch of a different color so I am going to try swatching with that. Maybe the green dye was too harsh and over time has compromised the yarn fibers? I don't know - any ideas? I'm hoping the store will take it back but it was on sale so.....I'm a bit worried about it. :(

I swatched with the lighter color which is #10 in case anyone wants to look it up. Although the yarn itself tends to get relaly thin in spots I didn't have any trouble with the lighter color. I am really leaning toward the harsh dye theory. The other defective yarn is color #08.

I'm not too sure about this yarn in general. It is kind of a pain in the *** to work with. Alot of people complain about how scratchy Noro Kureyon is (and it really can be although I still like it!) but this yarn is much worse. I doesn't slide across your fingers AT ALL and also tends to get tangled up on itself with very little reason. I do like the lighter color but I only have 1540 yards of it. The sweater I was going to make calls for 1520 yards. (I had around 1700 of the bad color). That is just cutting it too close for comfort for me. Especially since I think this yarn is a b***h to keep gauge with. It suggests a size 8 needle and I have had to go down to size 5 and I'm still a stitch short.

What d'ya think? I think this yarn is trouble. :(

Another entertaining way to waste time on the web

The Political Compass

Here's mine:
Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: -6.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.72

So reassuring that I am the exact opposite of Bush! Thank goodness!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reading Novels

I've done quite a bit of reading lately. I normally read about 40 books a year with most of those books being in the 400 - 600 page range. I read quite a lot of history and biographies but over the past year I have finally gotten back into reading novels. It felt like there was a long "dry spell" where there was just nothing too tempting to read in novels. But given the recent explosion of historical novels perhaps it's not too surprising I have found my way back to reading them!

Here's what I have read lately:

Nectar From a Stone by Jane Guill : This book started out pretty sterotypically with somewhat inferior plotting and the usual romantic historical novel devices. But by the third chapter or so I felt the characters started to develop and become more real. The plot was still rather predictable (sometimes it is hard to write anything really new and surprising!) but it was fun to read and I liked the characters. I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5.

The Rose of York in Love and War by Sandra Worth: Unfortunately this book was not as good. I was really hoping it would be good since it is part of a series and it's always exciting when you discover the first book of a great series. But I knew when I looked at the cover that it was probably rather commonplace. You know how you can sometimes (despite the old adage) tell a book by it's cover? Well that was the case here. The soft focus Pre-Raphaelite painting was really pushing this book over the top of the romantic historical novel and down the otherside into the dark valley of the romance novel with a historic setting. Believe me there is a huge and ugly difference. Too bad too because who doesn;t like to read about the Wars of the Roses? But this author was so busy being a Richard apolgist that the book and the characters suffered. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 mainly because the Wars of the Roses time period really halfway write itself.

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier: There was so much hype about this book - mostly due to her other novel The Girl With the Pearl Earring that I was a bit turned off of reading it. I saw the movie of Pearl Earring but haven't read the book. The movie was also super hyped & was really a disappointment. I thought it was good but not any better than good. So consequently I didn't read Falling Angels until now. But I'm glad I finally did. This book is a very fast read but it is a little gem. I really like her style and the format she uses of telling the story through each characters voice and experience. This didn't come off like a writing gimmick which would have ruined everything. I really liked all of the characters and didn't think the book was predictable. I'd give this one a 4.5 out of 5.

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier: As soon as I finished Falling Angels I picked up this one. It is in the same format and I wanted to see if the total switch of time and place would be handled as successfully. It was. I liked this story only slightly less than Angels. Now I am inspired to go out and get her other books and may actually read Pearl Earring. I give the book 4.25.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: I read this one for Knit the Classics. I had read it before and sometimes a book I liked the forst time around doesn't hold up under more scrutiny. Of course this one did. The book is WAY better than the movie so if you have only seen the movie you should read the book. It's very sad how people hide themselves from themselves and have to rationalize their lives instead of living them. This book gives you plenty to think about. 5 out of 5.

Come on over and join KTC and discuss Remains of the Day with us. We will be reading something from the Neo-Classical period in October.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

O finally some common sense!

The Oriole's lose some weight.

It's about time!