Archive for September, 2008

Such simple things,

And we make of them something so complex it defeats us,

Almost. Why can’t everything be simple again? ….

John Ashley

I can’t tell you how many times in the past few days I have sat down at this computer of mine to accomplish a few simple tasks that in end still are not completed. A small upgrade here, a tiny download there. Things that would make my life easier. All still undone, though I have worked hours on getting them done.

Perhaps the one thing that stands out as a truly deranged moment in all this was when my computer—and it is mine, no one else in the house uses it unless my bichon and pointer lab are keeping things from me—told me that I did not have the authority to perform the action I wanted it to take. I needed to get the “okay” from the administrator. I mean I am the administrator.

It was like a Sarah Connor the Terminator Chronicles moment. Pick up the nearest, biggest thing you can find and bash the damn machine until its parts are just that: parts, strewn from wall to wall. Humpty Dumpty not to be put back together again. What should have taken maybe 15 minutes has been extended into days trying to prove to my computer that I do have the authority.

On a lighter note, I am almost finished with a pair of lace socks for girl babies. I am working on writing the pattern for not only baby girls, but girls, and women too. I think the socks are perfect for a mother / daughter kind of thing.

The baby sweater is still undone. I am hunting buttons for it; no small task since I don’t have a fabric store anywhere near me.

What did ever happen to simple?

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Due to the lack of experienced trumpeters, the end of the world has been postponed for three weeks.


When I was a teenager I was a master of the “Chicken Little Syndrome”. No matter what the IT was, IT was dire, more important than even important can be.  If the IT wasn’t going to be (choose one): a) done my way; b) done my way; or c) done my way,  then life, as I knew it would come crashing to an end.  Of course my mother always calmly threw the equivalent of ice water onto the burning flame I’d become with a roll of her eyes and the words: “It’s not the end of the world.” Thus came the end. Not of the world, but of my desperate need for whatever I thought I needed for my world to be right again.

What made me think of those times and her words is my  knitting journey. This weekend I felt the “Chicken Little Syndrome” creep up on me.

Part of my knitting journey is the baby sweater.  I have made progress on the front and am ready to begin the neck shaping. As I did with the back neck shaping  I am procrastinating. Fearful that I am going to do it wrong. To avoid the error, I distract myself with other projects that are on the needles or still in the thinking stages.

The truth: The back neck shaping went smoothly and came out right. Why then the fear of the front neck shaping? To which a little voice in my head answers, “because people will see it.” The fact: They’ll see the back too and it came out fine. So this weekend I scurried around crying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

Bottom line: If it comes out wrong frog it and knit it again.

It’s not the end of the world.


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Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.

W.R. Inge

I want to be a Fearless Knitter, and for the most part I really am. (Yes, I read Knitting Daily.) My second knitting project ever was an Icelandic Lace Shawl.

My third knitting project ever was fair isle color stranding work done on dpns.

Both the hat and the mitts are much loved and get a lot of wear. The patterns for both the Rhinebeck hat and mitts are in The Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes. Appropriately enough, I got the yarn for the hat and mitts at the NYS Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last year. The yarn is Brooks Farm Four Play, a worsted weight wool silk blend. Positively wonderful to work with and feels great against the skin. It also keeps its shine and colors wash after wash.  The colors offered at the festival were simply to die for and I had a hard time choosing. But I decided to use variegated colored yarn for the designs with an almost solid color as the background. I love the results.

My very first knitting project was a lace and cable fitted sweater for my sister. I have to find the book to show you a picture. My sister has the sweater and wears it all the time.

All this is just to say I am pretty fearless (or plain dumb) when it comes to knitting. The exception: the baby sweater. Yes, I did manage to come up with a nice diamond trellis pattern for the middle panel that I like a lot but the quivering and sniveling (along with coughing—still got that respiratory thing) and worrying that came before I decided on the panel pattern was uncharacteristic of me.

Originally I am a quilter. Applique work is my specialty. In one class I was having a difficult time getting the fabric to follow the shape of a leaf. My teacher said to me, “Stop being afraid. You are bigger and stronger than that fabric. Fold it into shape.” And I did. I take that kind of attitude with knitting. If something I try doesn’t work out I can always shape it into something else. I have the control over the yarn, over the fabric that is ultimately created. It’s probably the only place in my life where I am in such control. Scary.

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Patience, the beggar’s virtue, Shall find no harbour here.

Philip Massinger

A New Way to Pay Old Debts

I am without patience today. Perhaps it’s the inevitable result of still having this upper respiratory bug from hell and coughing into the late night and wee hours of the morning that’s got me so cranky and impatient. Add to these troubles the front of the baby sweater and I am just simply out of all patience at the moment.

The back of the baby sweater is fine. It’s the front that is giving me trouble. I want to have a cable panel of sorts going up the middle front of the sweater. I thought it would break up the monotony of knitting pure stockinette stitches as well as add some visual interest to the sweater. I also want this “panel” to not be more than 13 stitches wide and not more than 6 rows—preferably 4 rows—long. The 13 stitches and 4 rows proportion goes nicely with the proportion of the sweater as a whole.

So I have spent, I can’t tell you how many hours, looking for a panel pattern that is like a cable but does not use cable needles—its pattern coming from the use of twisted stitches instead. Hours, coughing and looking to come up with nada, niente, nothing.

Why is it that the stitch patterns seen in stitch dictionaries look so utterly different when they are knit? It’s like visual delusion. Something happens that changes what looks like a nice stitch pattern into something I  would not have looked twice at if it had been photographed looking like what just came from my needles. Sheesh!

And so I am going to rip back yet again and continue to look for something appropriate between 10 and 13 stitches wide and 4 rows long. I am toying with the idea of a moss stitch panel or some other pattern combo of knit-purl stitches. In the meantime, I need to find some knitting patience.

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Results are what you expect, and consequences are what you get.

School Girl’s definition

Ladies Home Journal 1942

The back of the baby sweater is complete. The neckline shaping was much easier than I thought it would be. No major calculus or trig skills needed.

Once I had the width of the neck and the widths of each shoulder I multiplied those figures by my stitch gauge to get how the number of stitches for each. Then I visually divided the piece into the three sections.

Once I had the number of stitches needed for the neck, I figured out the number of rows and the decreases needed to reasonably shape the back neckline. All resources I checked agreed that the center part of the neck, which is bound off first, is one-third the total neck stitches. I found the mathematical center and the one-third number and from there it was all pretty easy to come up with the number of rows I’d need to have a decent neckline while keeping the length of the sweater to 11 inches / 27.5 cm.

I am casting on for the front of the sweater today. I am toying with including an initial within a diamond shape on the front as part of the design.

Before I go, here is a fairly good close up of the ruffle hem. I am happy with the way it looks.

I can’t tell you how much I love this yarn and the colorway. Working with a yarn that I just love is wonderful. It is Cherry Tree Hill’s Supersock DK Merino in Wisteria. The colorway was a limited run just available for the summer. I have some available in my Etsy Store and you can click HERE to get there.

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Just a quick post for now. I am wondering if there would be any interest if I started an online class where I would guide / teach you how to design a baby sweater from start to finish. The knowledge you acquire in creating your baby sweater could then be applied to other projects you might want to design.Let me know if there is any interest.

P.S. The back of the baby sweater is done—neckline shaping and all. I will post a picture soon.

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All progress is experimental.

John Jay Chapman

Practical Agitation

I promised you pictures and here they are. First up is the back of the baby sweater.

I am about 3 inches / 7.5 cm from beginning the back neck shaping. The back is knit in stockinette stitch with no other design. There will be design elements on the front along with a stockinette stitch background.

What I am really liking is the baby sweater’s edge / hem I came up with. I love the way the ruffles and the transition stitches just seem to be made for each other.

The transitions stitches do exactly what I wanted them to do: make a seamless transition from ruffle hem to stockinette body stitch without calling attention to themselves or stopping the eye from moving up the sweater. I am pleased with this particular result. I love the way it looks. It is worth every melt-down, every tear shed, every hair pulled from my head—in short the struggle—I went through trying to find the right combination. It was an instance of knowing what I wanted and figuring out—experimenting—until what I saw in my head matched what I was holding in my hands. It is precisely this struggle and its resolution that I like the most about the design process.

With a little luck, I will finish the back of the sweater today. Hopefully the neck shaping that looks like it works on paper will also work in reality.

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