The second sock, in a knitted pair, carries a curse. For me, the curse is anything that can go wrong will go wrong when knitting the second sock. It’s why I like to quietly cast on my tiny stitches for the second sock with no announcement or fanfare and knit it as discreetly as possible, hiding it under other knitting when putting it away for the evening, in short doing everything I can not to catch the attention of the knitting-powers-that-be and hopefully skirt the curse. Instead I made a gruesome error.

madelinetosh sock yarn

When I completed the first sock, I mistakenly called the accomplishment to The Skipper’s attention. With great effort, he pulled his eyes away from the sports channel, glimpsed the sock, and said, “So the second one should be easier.”

I inhaled sharply as if I had suffered a severe paper cut. He didn’t say that, I thought to myself, tell me he didn’t say that. I could feel the attention of the knitting-powers-that-be rivet onto me, taking in my tiny, pathetic sock needles and the innocent ball of yarn awaiting cast on as the second sock. I closed my eyes and practiced deep breathing for the next 10 seconds and tried to accept that the second sock would be a hellion.

No sense in chastising The Skipper. The man isn’t superstitious in the least. If I had explained the curse, he would dismiss it as irrational. Yes, irrational to him, but he wasn’t the one who would struggle to knit through the curse.

I have restarted the sock twice. Despite the progress shown in the picture above, I will most likely be ripping it back for a third time as I don’t like the way the short rows look on the two initial right side rows that begin the toe shaping. I am going to give the toe a little soak today to see if it blocks out. I know that it won’t.

On a positive note, I ordered yarn to begin a small shawl that I have wanted to knit for months. If I am lucky, the yarn will be in today’s post and I will cast on for the shawl while the wretched sock dries. If I’m really, really, lucky it will take the entire weekend for the thing to dry.

Have a good weekend.

Sometimes knitted garments turn out just as I envisioned them and it is such a joy when that happens. Case in point is the Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat set. It looks just like what I had in mind.

Charleston Baby Sweater.

Charleston Baby Sweater.

I love the texture of this sweater. The way the vertical lines and the horizontal wavy lines interact as a unified whole. Believe it or not the inspiration was Art Deco architecture combined with the style of 1920s bed jackets worn by women. The hat, with the ribbon positioned at the side of the head is reminiscent of the Cloche worn in that era.

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

Since my inspiration was the 1920s, I wanted the photographs to look like 1920 photos. After “playing” around with the camera—truth is error upon error—I unexpectedly but pleasingly stumbled upon just the way I wanted the photos to look. Something wrong gone right doesn’t often happen to me. I was pleased as a chipmunk with a cache of nuts for the winter.

Charleston Baby Hat

Charleston Baby Hat

The pattern as a set or as separate pieces is up for sale on Ravelry.

The sizes are 3 mos (6 mos, 12 mos, 18, mos and 24 mos). Made in fingering weight yarn it is perfect for cool days and nights as well as air-conditioned environments.

To purchase the pattern as a set .

To purchase the sweater only

To purchase the hat only

Changing Projects

The Skipper’s Sock has 14 more rows before cast off. (Sounds like a NASA countdown.) Instead of starting the second sock, I will switch projects and go back to the 1960s Girl’s Sweater by casting on for the front. This means I must get myself motivated and out the stores to select buttons. I can’t do the final math calculations for the front unless I have the button sizes in front of me.

The sweater has a three button placket at the top. In order to calculate the width and length of the placket I need the buttons first. I’ve pretty much decided the placket will be worked horizontally in seed stitch.

sketch girl's 1960 smock 1

This means the front will be separated at the start of the placket and each side will be worked separately to the shoulders. I don’t favor this type of construction because I hate joining yarn and getting it to look right. It drives me right around the bend the same way those little holes at the top of the gusset of a sock used to until I found ways to eradicate them.

The crux of all this is that lately I haven’t been feeling all that well. Tired, cranky, and just out of sorts. The same way I felt when I had the cancer, but I am trying not to let my mind go there.

On the one hand, I want to ring the doctor and say I think its time to take an MRI or PET Scan to search for cancer, while on the other hand, I don’t want to give credence to the fear. It’s heading into the time of year when we found the cancer and so I may just be reliving the trauma again. On the other hand…. And so this back and forth goes on in my head.

For those who follow the exploits of Yarn Rascal, he still lives. Whatever he ate worked its way out of his system. He may get a chance at a Golden Paw Award this weekend if I decide to open the yarn vault and search out the sweater I was knitting for myself before the cancer diagnosis. I only need to finish the shoulder part of one front and knit the sleeves. It would be a perfect sweater for me to toss on in the house this winter. So if I go searching for it, Yarn Rascal should have a clear shot at the Shetland Wool that he so does cherish.

Have a good weekend.

Kingdom of Keys

Today was going to be an up-and-at-‘em early day. Get all the chores that include driving done early. Try and figure out what I am doing with a pocketbook full of keys, of which I only use two. Start restoring work on a table. Finish the inch (2.5) cm left on The Skipper’s Sock. Transfer all the pictures I took yesterday from the camera to a flash drive for my mother and give it to her. All of which would bring me to about dinner time. Cook dinner, clean up the dinner dishes. Cast on the stitches for the front of the Girl’s 1960s sweater even though I haven’t completed my research into lantern sleeves, sewn on pockets or the split neckline. That was the plan.

At 9 am Yarn Rascal came into the work room looking all sad. A face that sad means he ate something he had no business eating. He crawled into my lap, curled into a ball with his tail covering his eyes and has been sleeping ever since. It is now noon. I hate to disturb him when he’s feeling ill like this. So I’ve been moving chores from today’s list to tomorrow’s list getting nothing done while Yarn Rascal sleeps on.

Yesterday I went in search of a pocketbook only to be disappointed. The store I went to had nothing below $149.00. I’ve always shopped there for pocketbooks and found durable ones at reasonable prices. The store used to have a wide selection. Now it carries only 4 different designer brands and every one was marked genuine leather. Genuine leather means to me that some animal had to die in order for this thing to be made. I’m an animal lover. I don’t want to walk around with a genuine leather anything.

Hence no pocketbook. But while taking inventory of my current pocketbook I discovered what can only be described as a kingdom of keys. Some were on little key rings, many were single keys on no rings. Of the 20 or so keys, I absolutely identified 2. I have a vague idea of the locks 3 others might fit. That leaves 15 mysterious keys. Heaven only knows how long they have been floating around the bottom of my pocketbook or why they are there. But I can’t toss them away until I am sure they don’t belong to locks I need to open.

I spread them on the kitchen table–The Skipper thought I was making a mural of keys to frame and put on the wall–to try and wrap my mind around all the things in my life that might have locks on them. Most of them looked like door keys. A few looked as if they might go to hope chest kind of things, and 4 are definitely old and probably from the late 1800s which means they go to things in my great grandfather’s house. Unable to identify them, I did what any crafter would do. I took one of the many glass jars I hoard save and put them in it. I crocheted a quick little lace collar for the jar, then closed the lid. I got one of my antique hang tags, wrote “mystery keys” on it and placed it round the jar. It looks quite at home sitting on my antique secretary’s desk.

I have never in my life had a perfect glass of lemonade. Either it was too sweet, too tart, or too blah. In fact I stopped trying to find the right product many years ago. So when my neighbor and friend, Mary, offered me a glass of her homemade lemonade I wasn’t prepared to be wowed. Just one sip sent my taste buds spinning with delight. It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart, lemony and refreshing. The perfect glass of lemonade: the epitome of the taste of summer in a cool, tall glass. I’m not sure Mary would want to spend her days squeezing lemons, but she could make millions of dollars selling her perfect concoction.

In other news, the back of the Girl’s 1960s Sweater is complete. The sweater is sized 12 mos, 18 mos, 24 mos, and 4 years. I purposely left out the 3 to 6 mos sizes because this has a nehru collar and the child needs to clearly have a neck. The necks of babies start to be defined around 9 mos. I’m knitting the 12 mos size. Before I begin the front, however, I want to write the pattern for the back. This is where I am stuck as the designer.

I believe good patterns are clear, concise, and consistent in their directions so that the knitter can duplicate the garment with as little confusion as possible. The dot pattern stitch used is an 8 row pattern. However, only 2 of the 8 rows are patterned. The other 6 are alternate knit and purl rows. I figured the rate of decrease for the A-Line style and only 2 of the sizes rates coincide. The 18 mos and 4 year rates are different from each other and the other two sizes. The 2 patterned rows move the dot stitch so it alternates position and is not aligned in straight vertical rows.

girl's sweater 1960s a

My problem is 2 of the 3 Cs: clear and concise. I don’t want to write out 59 or so rows of instructions 3 separate times to deal with the decreases that affect the dot pattern on just two rows, yet I don’t feel comfortable with the concise alternative of telling the knitter to “keep in pattern” while decreasing x stitches every y row z times. Knitters come to a pattern with very different experience levels. While the experienced knitter can easily figure the x y z direction, the intermediate knitter will struggle with it at first, and the knitter with limited experience will be lost completely, unable to read the knitting and decipher the stitch repeats and how they work.

While the skill level for this pattern is intermediate I don’t want the knitter who is branching out, trying to learn new things to be frustrated and lost. I’ve thought of charting just the beginnings and ends of the 2 pattern rows for more clarity. But many knitters, regardless of level, aren’t chart readers. Thus, written directions are also needed. So I am stumped. Unsure how to be concise and clear at the same time to as many knitters as possible.

This is a picture heavy post. Let’s get to the good stuff right away.

First up, The Skipper’s Socks tentatively titled Secret Love.

Toe up knit socks in Madelinetosh  Sock Yarn in Aura

Toe up knit socks in Madelinetosh Sock Yarn in Aura

The heel that I worked so hard on to get right. I am happy with all the wraps being invisible.

Skippers socks heel

The socks I made for myself. They are from the book Socks From the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson. I highly recommend getting the book if you love toe up socks. It’s a pleasure to have it in my personal knitting library. The socks I made are called Serpentine Socks.

serpintine socks toe up 1

Serpentine socks knit in Fiesta Yarn Boomerang colorway Abalone

Serpentine socks knit in Fiesta Yarn Boomerang colorway Abalone

While I know I will love them during the winter, the Fiesta Yarn was a little heavier than I am used to working with when knitting socks. Needless to say, I waited for the hottest and most humid of all days this summer to put them on and photograph them. While uncomfortably warm now, they will be cozy during the winter.

Last up is the Girl’s 1960’s Sweater I’m designing. I don’t have a name for it, which is not really true, I do call it a certain name but to write it here would be rude. It seems the simple dot stitch pattern I am using is only simple when there are no decreases. Work 1 decrease each end of the needle every 6th (7th, 6th, 8th) row 8 (5, 4, 6) times then every 5th (3rd, 4th, 2nd) row 2 (6, 7, 3) times and simply writing the words “while keeping in pattern” is not going to cut it. Keeping the little purl dots in proper alteration after every decrease is one step short of mind boggling. Of course this will all be worked out in neat and tidy instructions for the knitter, as long as the creator doesn’t go insane first.

girl's sweater 1960s a

The floats on the back side of the sweater.

The floats on the back side of the sweater.

The facing I created to sew over the floats to keep the hem line neat looking on the reverse side and protect the floats from being pulled out of line.

The facing I created to sew over the floats to keep the hem line neat looking on the reverse side and protect the floats from being pulled out of line.

I plan on spending the weekend alternating my knitting between the teeny twisted and crossed stitches on The Skipper’s Socks and keeping the purl dots in proper order on the Girl’s Sweater. If I have the timeline correct, by Sunday night around 8 pm I should be ready for a nice relaxing retreat in a padded room with a view.

Have a good weekend.

This weekend all I wanted was a small space of quiet time so I could mangle the heel of the sock I’m knitting. But I didn’t get it. The quiet time, I mean. I did mangle the heel. Life is such a compromise at times.

Instead the weekend was filled with heavy moving and lifting of antique armoires, bureaus and putting the finishing touches on one of two houses I own that I rent out. Of the two I have, both were built by my great-grandfather in the late 1800s. The one I was working on this weekend is the one dearest to my heart as it has always been inhabited by family. It will be the one I move back into when the time comes. I find it very hard to rent it out, but I must.

The good news is the mastectomy side of me held up very well through all the lifting and moving. The left arm pulled its weight and I never once felt a twinge. I worried that I might have a lymphedema build up, but that never occurred either. This is the first time since the mastectomy that I have used the arm for really heavy work. I am delighted with the results. I have a small, but heavy table in the attic that I have wanted to restore since before the mastectomy. I think I can now drag it down and do it. I miss working with wood and furniture.

On the knitting front, The Skipper’s Socks are looking superb. They look just as I envisioned them. The heel turn came out very well after the initial mangling. Pictures will be shown soon. I worked the heel in short rows with a different way of wrapping the stitches so the heel would look nice and smooth. I didn’t want the wraps to show because that would ruin the dominant visual vertical line I want. After the heel was turned I knit a round to prevent holes at the gussets from forming. Then I worked the heel flap. The Skipper is very hard on his socks, so he always gets a heel flap. I am now knitting the leg with its 16 teeny twisted and crossed stitches. Yarn Rascal never misses the chance to jump on my lap and attack the knitting just as I am working on the teeny twisted and crossed areas. When those kind of stitches are dropped it’s difficult to catch them and slip them back on the needle. But what does Yarn Rascal care? He’s off and running with the ball of wool in his mouth. Quiet, calm knitting it’s not.

No, for me to have quiet time I would need to lock myself away where there are no phones (that could be almost anywhere for my cell phone, it never works right), no people, and no Yarn Rascal. Then I could spend my time worrying about what trouble Yarn Rascal, The Skipper and The Parents are getting into while trying to calmly knit. No, even locking myself away from them won’t do. I think quiet time is a state of mind and not a place. And that I can work on.

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