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Archive for September, 2014

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.

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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.

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Where Did Quiet Time Go?

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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