on the needles

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Jo-Anne has already knit three teddy bears from the yarn I sent her! She kindly sent me this picture so I could show you guys.

Here is her email if anyone else would like to send her some yarn:

In Bettna news:

I am just about finished with the right sleeve and upper body section of the pattern. I should be able to start the left side by tomorrow. This is proving to be a super fast knit. Really simple but enjoyable. I'm truckin' right along on it - in fact I'm getting through a skein of Silk Garden everytime I sit down to knit. Yep, I'm up to a skein a day. How bad is your yarn habit? LOL!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bettna Progress

Here's what I've got so far. I'm only a few inches away from completing the skirt section. I'm using Silk Garden #244 - though it's a bit washed out in the photo. It looks a bit weird to me because of the way the colors are ending up - almost like the first section is a totally different colorway. Oh well - I really don't mind, part of the whole fun of Silk Garden is seeing what you'll get.

Now I'm contemplating the best way to do the sleeves....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Meet Bettna

Thanks everyone for the nice comments about the Fair Isle Yoke Sweater. It helped get me over the FO doldrums. Do you ever get that? Feeling a bit down after finishing a long project? It's not really a depression - more like a little feeling of deflation, the wind out of your sails. I get the same sort of "where do I go next?" feeling after I finish reading a really long book that I liked.

Luckily doesn't seem to last long though. Within a day I had cast on for Bettna. It's Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's design - the one on the cover of her Noro Revisited pattern book. After my experience with EZ I feel like I could knit Bettna in my sleep. In fact I have already pretty much abandoned any idea of actually following the pattern per se - it's really more of a guideline. :)

For instance, the pattern calls for using Silk Garden at a 16 sts per 4 inches gauge. Now, in my opinion Silk Garden is an 18 sts per 4 inches gauge yarn. Period. It doesn't look good at any other gauge and doesn't make a nice fabric. So I've stuck to my own gauge of 18 sts. I'm also not messing around knitting the "skirt" section in three pieces. Why? Why would you do that? Just makes more seaming later for no good reason. So I'm knitting it all as one piece.

Hopefully, this won't all backfire on me later - but for now I'm thinking "Thank you EZ for freeing me from the chains of pattern slavery!"

PS - Has anyone worked with any Silk Garden that was produced in 2006? I've noticed a HUGE difference in the quality of the yarn compared to previous years. There's WAY less "stuff" in it. I'm not stopping to pick out bits every five seconds. But mostly it's significantly softer. I mean, it's almost like they've actually started putting silk in it. ;) You don't suppose they got spooked by this whole thing do you?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fair Isle Yoke Sweater

Here's the finished Fair Isle Yoke Sweater (unblocked):

A close up of the yoke:

I used about 5 or 6 skeins of Rowanspun Aran in "Midnight" and 3/4ths of a skein of the wine colored yarn.

The sweater has hems at the sleeves and body. If I were doing this again I would turn them under and knit them in as I worked the body rather than sewing them down later as I did. I also would knit them in the contrast color. I didn't do that here though because I didn't decide that the sweater was going to have a yoke design until later.

I did add a row of garter stitch that serves as the edging of the sleeves and body. When you turn the hem under at the garter stitched row it almost looks like a masculine version of a picot edge - if you can picture that. I couldn't get a good photo of that because the yarn is so dark. If I knit this again I would possibly add three rows of edging to make the design feature stronger.

Rowanspun was a good yarn for this kind of sweater. I've heard of people complaining about breakage but I didn't have any problems like that. I thought the yarn was really sturdy - if a bit rough on my hands. Crusing along knitting on the body I actually gave myself a yarn burn on my left forefinger. Ouch!

Chris mentioned that EZ's percentage system is...well, I guess old, and will give an old style fit. I guess I'd have to agree with that based on this knitting experience - because I'm totally positive I did the math right.

Jennifer mentioned that Barbara Walker measures the armpit from two inches below so you make sure to have a comfy fit. I would definitely do that next time around.

All in all I'm pretty proud of this sweater. It's the first one I have birthed from beginning to end and it fits so I guess I have to be happy with that! However I wouldn't say I am entirely satisfied. I won't be satisfied until I knit the perfect sweater with not one problem during the knitting and a perfect fit after. Dream on I guess!

Charity Knitting

Is your stash overflowing?

I know mine was (okay still is but let's not get off topic here..)!

So I packed up a box full of odds and ends and shipped them off to Jo-Anne.

Jo-Anne makes teddy bears which she then donates to charity.

She can use any type of yarn. Any weight and any amount, even the smallest leftovers. She says she loves getting a wide variety of yarns because that gives her even more options in making the bears and no two are ever alike.

I know I always like to do at least SOME charity knitting every year. But realistically I knew I would never get around to using up all of those odd skeins. Jo-Anne focuses on knitting for charity. I think it's all she does! So anything you send to her will definitely go to good use.

If you have leftover yarn just sitting around, consider sending some to Jo-Anne. She doesn't have a blog but you can email her here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Insomniac Knitter Strikes Again!!

I woke hubby up whilst crawling into bed last night at 4:30 am. And no, that's not a typo. :( I'm a total insomniac.**

So - since he was already awake :) - I asked him if he wanted to get up and try on his sweater. I'm this close to being finished with it. I just have to sew sown the hem on one arm and the body, kitchner one armpit, and weave in about three stray ends and then fini!

Hubbs is a good sport - and also totally out of it when he's been sleeping - so he agreed to try the sweater on and - tada! - it fits. He loved it. I gotta say - I thought it looked pretty good.

My only problem with it is that I felt like it was a bit tight in the armpit area. Of course I tried it on too. :)

So my question is - do you think that I can block the armpits a bit bigger? I was thinking I need to buy one of those wooly board thingys to block this and all the other fair isle sweaters in my future.

And why are the armpits tight in the first place? I used EZ's percentage system and as far as I can tell there are three possible reasons:

1. I just didn't measure quite right. I think I did but now I wonder. Just how are you supposed to measure from the armpit to the neck anyway? That bothered me because it was so vague. Where exactly are the starting and ending points for that measurement?

2. Maybe I didn't leave enough stitches off the body and arm for the armpit area. I doubt this one though because I just did the math for that number. I don't see how I could have gotten that wrong. (And yes I used a calculator AND double checked. I'm well aware that I suck with numbers!).

3. This seems the most likely - I didn't do the yoke deep enough. I only did a nine inch yoke because it really looked like the ten inch would have been just too long - but now I'm wondering about that.

Oh and I guess there is a #4 possibility as well. Hubbs thinks that a little blocking will take care of the whole problem.

I guess we'll see - but any suggestions/ideas/previous experience would be very appreciated.

**I've been wondering how many knitters also tend to be insomniacs or at least have trouble getting to sleep. I'm betting a whole bunch of us are knitting away in the wee small hours. It always seems like crafty people are non-sleepers. And vice versa - almost as if we sub-consciously took up some craft to keep us busy and to have something to do other than to watch infomercials. Am I right??**

Monday, January 08, 2007

My Current Project

It's about time for a photo on this old blog - dontcha think?

So here's what I have been working on lately:

You can click to see it larger.

It the seamless yoke sweater from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears. It started out life attempting to be a seamless hybrid sweater but I didn't like the way that looked so - frog frog frog and back to the drawing board. My Mom had this wine colored yarn in her stash for ages and when I went over for Christmas I saw it - bling - light bulb over the head - and the sweater became a yoke sweater. It's for hubby - the poor, but warmly clad victim of all of my experiments with new knitting techniques. :)

The blue yarn is Rowanspun Aran and the wine yarn is either Classic Elite or Twilley's and, as I said, it is of ancient vintage. The wine colored yarn is every so slightly thicker than the Rowanspun but I didn't think it would make any difference for my gauge and it hasn't. I think they go really well together. Serendipity!

This is only my second try at fair isle & so far so good. My first attempt was a small headband I made for my daughter about a year or so ago. You can't tell from the photo, but I hold one color in each hand - the design color in my left and the background color in my right. So I "pick" and "throw". I'm not having any problems getting the right amount of tension in the floats - probably because in my regular knitting style I work with the yarn really spread out on the right needle and I work each stitch sort of excessively far down on the right needle as well. Most things I have read about getting good tension on fair isle recommend this exact same thing so, lucky me! Maybe now I will have more confidence to tackle a larger fair isle project in the near future.

I used EZ's percentage system and everything seems to fit so far. I had hubbs try it all on as it was knit. I'm going for a slightly long, slightly loose look so - we'll see! I'm at the point where all I have left is to knit the neck ribbing (which I tried earlier tonight and ended up frogging - didn't like the look of EZ's method for avoiding holes at the end of the turning rows - or at least I didn't like my interpretation of her method!). After that I weave the armpit stitches together & sew down the hems & cross all my fingers and toes while hubby tries it on.

Wish me luck! Even though I have double and triple checked the fit along the way I'm still nervous because - during the long blog silence - I knit my daughter a raglan sleeve pullover sweater out of Cash Iroha and using a percentage system (not EZ's but pretty much the same thing.) That sweater was knit top down, seamless, and only took four days to knit! It was a real pleasure every step of the way. And when I went to try it on my daughter - I could pull the blasted thing over her head!!!!! WTF? I measured properly, swatched and checked my gauge etc... The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the percentages I used were based on adult measurements and didn't take into account the big heads kids have. :(

But what to do with the darn thing at this point? As I see it, there are two options.

1. Bite the bullet & frog the whole thing.

2. Somehow magically figure out how to steek it and turn it into a v-neck.

Any suggestions??

PS - I left a message for the Yarn Basket (not Yarn Market as I had previously said) about the errant yarn. Any bets as to how fast they will get back to me?? LOL!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another Weird Thing

The strangest thing happened yesterday. My hubby and I have been taking advantage of the post-Christmas sales so lots of little packages have been arriving at our home. So I didn't think anything of it when hubby said there were some packages on the front steps. He went out to get them and then announced that some of it "looked like yarn". He has enough experience to know what Westminster Fibers is when he sees it. Thing is - I hadn't ordered any yarn. None.

So I was totally perplexed and then a bit freaked out when hubby proceeded to drag in two enormous boxes. I mean - these things are huge. I had a moment of sheer panic. I mean - Westminster Fibers is Rowan right? Two huge boxes of Rowan has got to be big bucks right? I was imagining my credit cards on fire and my bank account crashing due to this huge yarn purchase that had apparently somehow been credited to me. But I knew I hadn't ordered any yarn.

For a second I thought - Good Lord maybe I am so far gone in my yarn addiction that I don't even remember purchasing all of this Rowan yarn. (It's just within the realm of the possible.)

And then I thought perhaps one of my knitting friends had gone mad and bought me an insane Christmas present. I was even starting to wonder if we were having some charity yarn drive over at KTC and somehow I just didn't know about it.

Well, we opened the boxes up. Turned out to be tons (Probably literally!) of Gedifra, with a bit of Regia and some Rowan Soft Tweed. And the invoice was addressed to...some place called The Yarn Market in Iowa??? WTF??

How the heck did my name get on the address label? I get the Rowan magazine in the mail but other than that I have had no dealings with them.

Obviously, I have to call someone to figure out what is up here. I hope it won't be too much of a hassle to resolve this - and I really hope I didn't somehow get charged for this yarn. The invoice said it was about $300 worth wholesale and (hold onto your hats!!) over $2,000 retail!! Holy Cripes - I guess I really need to become a wholesaler!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hello? Anybody out there??


Hello? Anybody still there? I can't tell through all of these cobwebs and dust.

Well, it looks like I took a long but unintended vacation from the blog. No real reason - just the usual getting swamped with the general busyness of life. And then all of the to and fro and traveling about of the holidays - oh and did I mention we are re-doing our kitchen? Gutting it completely, including the floor. So all of that put together equals = disappearing from blogland.

Not entirely though. I have been carrying on as usual at my other blog home Knit the Classics and keeping up with reading everyone else's blogs. I've mostly been too brain dead to comment though. :(

Anyhoo - Melanie is attempting to prod my blog back to life by tagging me with the Six Weird Things About Me meme. I don't usually do memes but I've got to get back into this somehow so...hmmm...this is actually a tough one. I sort of don't know where to start. Probably because I think just about everything about me is weird in one way or another. I don't think anyone is really "normal". In fact, just don't believe in the whole idea of "normal". I think it's a myth. If "normal" exists I've never seen it. And when I do meet people who seem to be normal they just scare me. Because I just know that if you scratch that surface you'll find something really truly scary weird! Know what I mean? Maybe not...well maybe my ideas about "normal" should have been "weird thing about me number 1". ;)

1. I can't sleep unless the covers are all just so. The top and bottom sheets have to be pretty much flat - no big lumps or wrinkles. All the covers have to be pulled up to around my ears and folded back so that they cover my cheek but don't touch my nose. If one of the covers touches my nose I am unhappy and have to start rearranging all over again. Depending on which sheets & blankets are on the bed it can take me awhile to get this whole set up to my liking. If I'm really unable to get comfy I contemplate waking up my husband so we can switch the sheets or blankets - whichever one is offending me. Luckily I stop short of actually waking him up & thus am able to pretend to myself that I am at least slightly sane! I take comfort in all of the other bloggers who have mentioned a similar "weirdness". There seem to be a few of us!

2. Melanie mentioned that she hates being outside. I pretty much feel the same way - especially as I have gotten older and my asthma and allergies have gotten worse. As a kid I thought it was a punishment to have to come inside & now I feel the reverse. It kind of sucks because I truly love nature. Nothing inspires me or restores my soul like the gorgeous colors and shapes and magical beinginess that is the whole wonder of the natural growing world. I just don't want to be out in it.

**I just asked my hubby for some help in identifying weird things about me and he said that was a tough one because all of my weirdnesses seem normal to him now. :)**

3. Hubby likes making fun of my mixed up "accent". I have lived in so many different places that I have a strange variety of regionalisms and pronunciations in my speech. Add to that the fact that I taught myself to read before pre-school and I was reading lots of "big words" before I ever heard them - so I have some funny mispronunciations which have stuck. All of this together means it's probably pretty hard to figure out where I come from just by listening to me talk.

4. I don't consider myself very girly. I hardly ever wear make up or heels or dresses or do any of the stereotypical girly things. But I love glitter. The more the better. Glitter and shiny things. And I firmly believe that diamonds go with anything. Ratty t-shirt and jeans - slap on some diamonds and you look fabulous. PJ's? Sweatpants? Best accessorized by diamonds. I don't know if this is weird - maybe it's just contradictory. But I consider my love of fine jewelry to be my one concession to girlyness.

5. I can't lie. Really. I can't. Please don't ever ask me to. It will just turn out bad. I've never practiced lying so I'm no good at it. I can usually muster up a diplomatic "white lie" if I have to - like when a friend gets a horrible haircut and asks if I like it. But even then I can't just lie and say that I do like it. Instead I will avoid a direct answer and desperately find anything nice to say. And I'm only successful at this if I'm not taken by surprise. And only if it is a lie about my opinion about something. If it is a lie about a fact - like what I ate for breakfast or something, I can't say I had eggs if I had toast. And I can't just not say anything either. Needless to say, this has been the cause of some bad social situations for me. My compulsion to tell the truth is so strong that it overtakes my ability for self-preservation. I just can't lie even when I know that it would probably be better for me to do so because people usually really don't want the truth - even when they say they do. :(

6. I don't know if this is that strange but I really hate wearing shoes. If I could I would probably go through my entire life barefoot. Actually, it's not so much shoes that I hate - because I can stand wearing some sandal type shoes okay - like Birkenstocks - that qualifies as shoes right? What I really hate is the combination of shoes and socks. Socks only are semi-okay - but barefoot is better. Even in the middle of winter I'd rather have cold feet then wear socks and I definitely would rather have cold feet than socks AND shoes. Okay - I guess that is weird. :) And it kind of sucks being a knitter who doesn't really like socks that much.

So there you go. You don't hear from me for months and then I hit you with Six Weird Things. If I still have any readers left - I thank you! :)

I'll end off with my New Years Resolution - which also has nothing to do with knitting.

This year I resolve to: Wear perfume everyday.

Like I said - I'm not much of a girly girl with the no make up and all. And I don't really have a fancy dress up kind of lifestyle. And I have kids and dogs and a million things to do everyday so I usually end up neglecting myself a bit. So this year I resolve to take care of me by wearing perfume everyday. Doesn't take any extra time or effort but when I put on perfume I feel like I look good - even if I really don't. When I wear perfume I feel fancy - even if I'm just in my PJ's. Good smells also have a calming effect on me & lower my stress level. Plus I need to get over the idea - that I think a lot of women have - of "saving" perfume for special occasions. (I do this with yarn too.) "Saving" is like saying you really aren't good enough for the good stuff and in 2007 I resolve to get over thinking like that.

So here's to spending 2007 wafting around in a cloud of fabulousness smellyness and knitting with super scrumptious yarn. :)

ps - I hope everyone will say hi & let me know you're still out there & that you forgive me for my long silence!