I’ve been trying to kill my washing machine for years now. When The Twisted Yarn wrote about her experience with felting and her washing machine, I thought I had found the perfect way to murder mine. Over the years, I have amassed a good deal of rovings hoping I would find the time to learn to spin. I shared my idea with The Twisted Yarn of filling the washing machine with the rovings, letting it go through its washing cycles and kill itself. Luckily, before I embarked on my murderous plot, The Twisted Yarn got back to me that such a plan wouldn’t actually kill the thing as much as clog up the works. I would instead spend my day draining and pulling out small pieces of wet, matted yarn from a tiny tube located at the bottom of the machine. I am so grateful she told me this because I would have taken an ax to that machine before I lovingly drained and removed anything from it.

The machine washes clothes. Dirt, spots, set-in stains vanish as does the fabric they were on. That’s right, my washing machine is a serial hole ripper. A slasher of the first order. No matter what I do, if the item goes in the washing machine it’s coming out with a rip in it. I’ve tried light loads, medium loads, heavy loads. It slashes them all. I’ve put clothes into pillowcases to protect them. The pillowcases come out looking like a mad man with scissors had a go at them. The clothes are clean with new holes in them.

I have never been a slave to fashion. I like to wear what I want, when I want. So I found it interesting to discover that wearing clothes with rips in them are right in style.

Chanel's little sweat suit .

Chanel’s little sweat suit .

My washing machine could have produced that little Chanel sweatsuit on its gentle cycle.

Stella McCartney's 2015 spring line

Stella McCartney’s 2015 spring line

I’ve had a fashion designer right in my laundry room all this time and didn’t know it. Foolish me for trying to kill it.

I seem to take it for granted that everyone knows how to knit socks. So when asked how long should a foot of a sock be for a foot that measures 10 inches (25.5) cm from toe to heel, I temporarily experience disorientation. In general, sock knitting requires 3 measurements. Circumference of foot, length of foot, and length of leg. Length of foot and length of leg are knit to their full lengths. Only the circumference of the foot is knit an inch (2.5) cm smaller than the true measurement.

Foot circumference determines the size sock to make. The measurement is taken around the ball of the foot. The ball of the foot is the padded part just below the toes. My circumference is 8.5 inches (21.5) cm, but I would never choose to make my sock that size because it would be too loose. Instead, I choose a sock size of 7.5 inches (19) cm, one inch less than the actual circumference.

An inch (2.5) cm smaller than the actual circumference of the foot is ideal because it helps the sock stay up on the leg. At the same time, it provides enough stretch to easily slip the sock over the heel and ankle. In sock knitting the circumference is the only number that is made smaller than the actual measurement.

Length of foot is measured from the heel to the end of the longest toe. The foot of the sock is knit to that measurement. If the foot is 9 inches (23) cm then the foot of the knitted sock including heel and toe must be 9 inches (23) cm. When a pattern says to knit to 3 inches (7.5) cm less than total foot length before shaping the heel (toe-up socks) or toe (cuff down socks), this is the most likely place where an error can occur resulting in the failure of the sock to fit the foot.

The remedy, however, is easy. Determine your row gauge. How many rows per inch are you getting? Multiply that number by the 3 inches. The answer is the number of rows you need to knit in order to get 3 inches. Now look at the pattern. Count up the number of rows required for the shaping. Does it match your number of rows needed for 3 inches? Probably not. So knitting to 3 inches less isn’t going to work. You need to find the number of inches that does work. To do this, divide the number of rows required for the shaping by the number of rows you’re getting per inch. The answer is the number of inches less you need to work before shaping begins.

In other sock news, The Skipper’s second sock has now become the equivalent of the ball and chain convicts in old movies before sound carried around. Wherever I go, it goes with me. By doing this, I hope to get it finished so I can move on. I have 56 more rounds before bind off.

Problem? Buy Yarn

The weather is grey, wet and cool. Perfect, actually for a walk. I find a slow walk in weather like this refreshing. For some reason it releases me from what is troubling me. The bothersome bits I carry around fall away and I can breathe again.

The doctor I saw yesterday says the pain on the mastectomy side is probably nothing more than muscle strain. This is the same doctor who said the cancerous lump in my breast was nothing to be concerned about. So I don’t necessarily believe what he says.

On Tuesday I will check in with the surgeon who performed the mastectomy and see what she says.

In truth, the pain is much less than it was. I see my cancer doctor this week and I see my radiation doctor at the beginning of November. I vote for walks in the rain and let’s see what these two doctors have to say.

In the meantime, I had a small hair-on-fire moment where I full out panicked about not having any yarn. Trust me, the panic is not rooted in fact. I have yarn vaults into which Yarn Rascal and I could fall and lose ourselves for hours. The news week was heavy on the “world as we know it is ending” stories, combined with my own health issues and my response is, naturally, buy more yarn. Yes, catastrophe equals yarn purchases in my mind.

Instead of buying yarn, I cast on for The Skipper’s winter hat. If I chain myself to the chair and knit 5 hours a day for the next two days, I can have it finished by Sunday night providing I don’t make a mistake that needs ripping back. The hat should use about 4 skeins of yarn, which means I will have to purchase 4 skeins of yarn to keep the stash numbers up. Yes, it all keeps coming back to buying yarn, doesn’t it?

I am entering another round of seeing doctors.

I’ve been in bad pain since Sunday in the scapula area on my mastectomy side. It’s the same area that pained me from the middle to the end of my radiation treatments. When the pain hit Sunday, I temporarily lost power in my left arm. While I’ve regained the power, the bicep and entire surgical area feels weird.

I have a real fear of doctors and medical procedures, so I am not thrilled at having to do this. On the other hand, the pain is not going away and it is interrupting my knitting. I might have talked myself into accepting and living with the pain, but when it interrupts my knitting that’s where I draw the line.

So while I make the calls to find out which doctor I need to see, I am also frantically trying to find yarn in my stash for a mindless little vanilla sock project I can carry from waiting room to waiting room. Something I can put down quickly and then pick up again without fretting about what round I was on. Of course all my size 1 dpns are either in use or not to be found. While I know this sounds ridiculous, I have to say, I am not going to go through all this doctor visiting without a knitting project close at hand. My knitting is my armor in matters like these.

It watched as I stored my gently folded, recently completed shawl. It’s four double-pointed needles sticking out from the small ball of yarn like the top of a tee-pee. “You know you want to knit me,” the in-progress sock said. I was at that vulnerable stage: the end of one knitting project and looking for the next love affair. I took stock of the in-progress sock. It had about an inch (2.5) cm of knitting to go before the heel turn began.

“Heel turns are so magical, aren’t they,” the sock purred.

Yes. I get a deep sense of joy and satisfaction when a heel of a sock is precisely worked. The gentle fullness of the cup of a heel formed by smooth, neat stitches. No pulling, no holes. A continuous flow of knit stitches curving in gentle transition from the sole to the heel flap.

“You and I. We can do it,” the sock said.

And so I reached out and picked up the sock. I carried it to my knitting chair, caught up in the romance and beauty of a perfectly turned heel.

The inch of knitting leading up to the heel turn went smoothly and easily. The sock and I were cruising together. It was pleasurable and lovely. The dpns were in sync, the yarn flowed through my fingers like water.

Before moving on to the next step I stopped to enjoy my heel turn and that’s when the spell was broken. Four holes. I am completely anal retentive about this, but I can’t stand holes in socks. My entire sock knitting routine is built around producing no holes. To make matters worse, these four holes were not at the wrap and turn points of the heel shaping. They were where the increases occurred.

I had no choice but to rip back and figure out why the holes were appearing.

All in all, I ripped back and re-knit the heel turn of that sock four times until it met with my approval. We-Can-Do-It and You-Know-You-Want-To-Knit-Me has spent the last 24 hours in a time out. I hope it has used this time to think real hard about it’s behavior too, because tonight I want to knit the heel flap.

Bind Off Loosely

The minute I read those words in a pattern I instinctively tense up. Am I going to work it loose enough? On the other hand, I don’t want it too loose. Should I use the regular two-needle bind off? A sewn bind off? Maybe I should be getting out my books on various bind offs and search through them for a bind off that might work. Do I really need to run upstairs and retrieve the books? Can’t I just bind off? Why am I making this so difficult?

Such was the relaxed state of mind I possessed going into the bind off for the shawl. After working out the few kinks in the pattern, the shawl was actually looking very good and I didn’t want a tight bind off to ruin it.

Scallop Edge Shawl 1 knit

I debated and stressed over sewn bind off or two needle bind off. It’s a routine torture I put myself through at the end of every knitting project. Finally I decided on the two needle bind off because the final row to be bound off had yarn overs in it and I felt a sewn bind off wouldn’t work.

Scallop Edge Shawl 2 knit

To get a loose, but not too loose, bind off I decided to go up one needle size. I looked for that size needle in every needle box I have: straight, circulars, even my double-pointed needle box. I have been knitting for years, yet I never have the needle size I need. How is that possible?

When I dumped out the needles on the floor, the pile was higher than my ankle, and nowhere in that stack was the size I needed. However, Yarn Rascal was besides himself with tail thumping joy when he saw the needles hit the floor. He made right for the pile and I quickly intercepted him. He spent the rest of my search on The Skipper’s lap. Oh, how that little dog wanted to help.

Scallop Edge Shawl 3 knit

I ended up doing the regular two needle bind off with the same size needles as I used for the body. I’m pretty happy with the overall results. It’s the Scallop-Edge Shawlette by Tempting Ewe.

As a designer, not everything that is cast on ends up as a published pattern. Some designs will never see the lens of a camera. Most are finished, a few are at a half-way point. All have been abandoned for good reasons.

Sometimes what I envisioned doesn’t completely match what comes off the needles. I may have had to alter a stitch pattern or substitute a construction technique and the finished piece doesn’t elicit the same emotional response the imagined one did. As a designer what I most want to do is create an emotional response in the knitter.

As a knitter and sometime crocheter I want to fall in love with a design. I want the piece to make me stop cruising through the rest of the designs. I want to have the desire to click through to get more information about the project. But most designs I see elicit no emotional response in me. Yes, they may be well-designed and all, but emotionally they have no resonance. Instead I find myself looking through designs with the same dispassion as shopping for a head of lettuce. As long as the outer leaves aren’t already rotting, one head of lettuce is the same as the next.

Clever construction, a new technique are interesting, but they don’t make me feel excited about purchasing the pattern and collecting the yarn for it. I yearn for knitting and crochet that has emotional resonance.

While I’m yearning, I have enough work to do to keep me busy for a long while. Tech editing, photographing, and pulling into shape 4 patterns for the overseas company are on the front burner.

In updates: Yarn Rascal was in his glory with the small ball of merino yarn I gave him. He spent most of the day destroying playing with it. He even took it into bed with him and slept with it under his chin. I told The Skipper I think we should look into getting a merino sheep or two. The Skipper just looked at me.

I sent a PM to the shawl designer yesterday. I’ve heard nothing back. I have 4 more rows to complete and then I start the cast off for the shawl. I’m looking forward to it getting done.

The Contented Crafter

A blog containing random thoughts, creations from my craft room and tales about a cat called Orlando and a puppy called Siddy

the twisted yarn

Knitting and crochet for a home in need of colour.


The Visible Mending Programme: making and re-making


Writing stuff

Northern Lace

Fibre life in Orkney

Mollie & Claire

A blog about knitting, making things & life with a black Labrador called Mollie


life at the cottage on the green

The Panopticon

Knitting Yarn and Life

ella gordon

textile maker


Fiber Artist and Introvert making her way through an Extrovert Centered World

knit the hell out

More obsessed with each passing stitch.

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)

Knitting to Stay Sane

Challenging myself, one stitch at a time.


random posts about things I am doing or thinking


recording creative ideas, adventures and finds


sharing and learning our creative crochet and knitting ideas and achievements

A Conversation with Moo

A crafter and a puppy named Moo


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