Archive for June, 2013

The Skipper has socks. He is a hard man to please when it comes to knitted items. These he loves.

waffle cream socks

waffle cream socks c

The pattern is Waffle Creams by Anne Hanson. You can get the pattern at her website knitspot. The yarn is also from Anne Hanson, Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend Fingering in oatmeal. To tell the truth, at first I wasn’t thrilled with the yarn for the first five rounds or so. But, once I got into the cables and started to see how well the yarn worked with the pattern…well I just can’t resist a perfect match. The yarn shows off the pattern perfectly. The Skipper says he loves the feel of the socks on his feet. A comment he has never made about the other socks in other yarns that I have knit him. Perhaps The Skipper has “found” his yarn.

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Aesop (Sixth Century B.C.) Fables
The Bald Man and the Fly
There was once a Bald man who sat down after work on a hot summer’s day. A fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging him from time to time. The man aimed a blow at his little enemy, but—whack—his palm came on his head instead; again the fly tormented him, but this time the man was wiser and said: You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable enemies.

This post was going to be about the socks I just finished for The Skipper. But the weather has been humid and hot and the darn things aren’t dry yet. I don’t really want to ask the man to put on moist socks and then subject him to a photograph session and bug fighting. He hates photograph sessions. The bugs and mosquitos are in swarm mode because of the weather. I’ve not seen so many mosquitos in my life and I once lived on a lake in Maine, so that is saying something. What with all the wet weather and now, the hots and humids, the bugs are having a great time.

Instead, I want you to feast your eyes on this.

madeltinetosh yarn

Yes, the yarn is for the Charlotte Baby Sweater. It’s MadelineTosh merino light in, get this now, the color Teddy Bear. Teddy bear…baby sweater…how perfect is that? Incredibly soft, the yarn is 100% superwash merino AND can go in the washing machine! I can’t wait to start knitting it.

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…Of wounden gold, she offered, to honor him, arm-jewels twain, corselet and rings, and of collars the noblest that ever I knew the earth around.


The desire for collars must go far back in human evolution because for the life of me, I do not understand why designers continue to construct collars on baby sweaters for babies that are 3 to 6 months old. No matter how sweet and rounded the collars, 3 to 6 month olds do not have necks.  There is little separation between round head and body. Therefore, the collars end up in baby’s face, up around it ears, and uncomfortably bolstered beneath the baby at the base of its skull when it is lying down.  Babies are in lying positions a lot at those ages.

The neck starts to form as a distinct part separating the head from the body at around 9 months. At 12 months, the neck clearly separates the head from the body. So why do designers continue to size patterns with collars for 3 to 6 month olds? I don’t know. However, I can tell you the photographs that go with these sweaters show them on children much older than 3 or 6 months, children with well-defined necks and heads.

I think making a pattern available in smaller sizes when it is clearly meant for the older baby is unfair to the novice and semi-experienced knitter who wants to feel great when he/she sees his/her sweater on the baby.  It is really a matter of trust. When a knitter buys a pattern, he/she trusts that the designer is telling the truth: His/her knitted effort will look and fit like the picture of the project.  The best advice I can give the novice and semi-experienced knitter is if you are looking to knit for a 3 or 6 month old, look for sweaters with the following necklines:  round neck with shoulder fastening, v-neck, or square neck with/without shoulder fastening.  Cardigans are great projects for all size babies.

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“The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.”
William Wordsworth, Great Narrative Poems Of The Romantic Age

The trip to Northampton Massachusetts was wonderful. The weather was perfect for a driveThe destination was Webs Yarns. I needed a change of scenery and browsing time in a quality yarn store. There are no yarn stores near me anymore so 100% of my purchases I make online. This week I just felt the need to squeeze yarn. Round trip, it’s about 5 hours of driving.  It’s the longest I’ve driven since the mastectomy. I was tired when I got home and unwound.

I bought yarn for the afghan I want to crochet. I believe every afghan has a story behind it that gives it meaning and this is no different.  The first thing I wanted to do after I learned I had cancer was grow things. It was January and winter here is not conducive to outside gardening. I planted seeds in pots, glass jars, and started terrariums all indoors. It was like an itch that no matter how much I scratched wouldn’t stop. The second obsession was the desire to crochet myself an afghan. I still have the afghan my grandmother crocheted for me 50 years ago. I have it wrapped in acid free paper and stored in a cedar chest. It is still in wonderful condition and I cherish it so much. But I couldn’t get to it without a lot of moving things around. You know how it is when you store something for safekeeping and it’s suddenly years later. Still, I wanted to crawl under that afghan and soak up the comfort I knew would come from it.

I spent the entire night after the operation in the hospital listening to sleet drumming on the windows and thinking about the afghan I would start and hopefully live to finish. You see, my grandmother had breast cancer too. The afghan she made for me was one of the last items she crocheted. While she survived the cancer, the lymphedema prevented her from ever crocheting again. My doctors had assured me that mastectomy and lymph node removal would not mean the end of my knitting or crocheting. So I thought about the afghan I would make and the socks I would knit, designing and redesigning them in my head, while the sleet fell against the window and tried not to think about the part of me that was now missing or the microscopic cancer cells that escaped and were travelling through my body.  Every afghan has a story.


The hydrangeas are beautiful this year.


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…Well, we’ll skip the details, no good going into details that wouldn’t be understood…”
Virginia Woolf    Kew Gardens

Oh no, Virginia. Details matter. Explaining them so we can understand is crucial. Details make our dreams, our imaginings, our wishes concrete. A dream stays a dream, living only in my head until I figure out and add the details, then I am closer to making my dream a reality. That is a lot of what knitting design is about: working out the details; right down to the buttons.

This is the baby sweater inspired by the Chrysler Building and the 1920s and women’s bed jackets.

The yarn color is the exact color I pictured in my head. I won’t even tell you the yarn company name, because it doesn’t make this color anymore. I am now searching for another yarn in the correct shade, with the correct stitch definition quality, the correct weight, and that matches the gauge of this sweater. And the yarn must go with the buttons.

The hat.


The socks.


The buttons.


I searched for just the correct button for 4 months. I wanted them to match the ones pictured in my mind. I found these on Etsy. I don’t remember the vendor, it was so long ago that I bought them.

My goal with this sweater set is to get the next correct yarn and reknit the entire set, moving the buttons to the new set. The patterns are already written, so I will be test knitting myself this time.

Tomorrow I travel to Massachusetts in search of the correct yarn for this project. It is beautiful and very satisfying when yarn and project compliment each other. I will donate the set in the pictures to the knitting shop at the hospital where I had my mastectomy and my wonderful cancer doctors work. The hospital has a knitting group which sells their finished items to help raise money for the things the hospital needs. It is a great arrangement. When I first saw them and all the knitted items I knew I was in the right place for the right care. Knitting has a way of easing things like that for me.

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That whisper inspiration…

Robert Burns The Charms of Lovely Davies

A question that invariably floats through my thoughts when looking at knitting patterns is what was the inspiration for the piece? Knitting magazines send out mood boards which are usually a collection of photographs intended to create a mood, a unity, for the issue. Sometimes the ideas for my patterns are stirred into being by mood boards I create for myself. Sometimes I look at a yarn and know what it wants to be and what kind of stitch patterns it’s eager to be reconfigured into.  These moments of sudden insight are rare occurrences for me. More often it is only after living with a mood board for a time that inspiration comes. And it comes as a whisper.

The Charlotte baby set was a murmur. I am ridiculously fond of 1920s fashion, art deco and art nouveau. I wanted to knit a baby set that would give a nod to 1920s. In my endeavor, I collected many, many picture snippets, watched lots of old movies set during the 20s, fell in love with the bed jackets the women wore. Out of all I collected, the one picture that whispered to me was this:

chrysler building1

This is the Chrysler Building in New York City. I loved the combination of strong vertical lines with the softness of curves at the top. To me, the top whispered lace that gently gathered into scallops. And so the Charlotte baby set was begun in earnest. Sketches were done. Yarns considered, more about this little fiasco later. Colors were collected, another fiasco, but I digress. Before the yarn and color traumas—they are all my fault I must admit—but during the thinking and sketching it occurred to me how much knitting is like good architecture: A well designed knit is affected by the laws of nature and reason, proportion and use. I think the Charlotte baby sweater meets those criteria after all this time.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Time has laid his hand
  Upon my heart gently, not smiting it,
  But as a harper lays his open palm
  Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.

The Golden Legend. iv

Time has passed since my last post. So many reasons could be given but I think the simplest and most concise will do: Life.

None of the time between then (my last post) and now has been wasted. Instead, it has been full of learning, changing, and accepting. My knitting and designs have been influenced in positive ways. I want to help others experience the sense of accomplishment and deep contentment I feel when a completed knitting project looks good and fits well. Whether it is socks, sweaters, shawls, scarves or whatever it is we choose to knit, I believe we have a right to know all the ins and outs that it takes for us to get there. To this end I am committed.

I am working on two baby sweater designs, actually one is a vest for the little man in your life, both of which were inspired by fashions of the 1920’s. More next time. And pictures too.

It’s good to be back.


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