Archive for October, 2014

It’s been awhile since Yarn Rascal last snagged a Golden Paw Award, but he’s outdone himself once again.


I was attempting to pull together the prototype of the 1960s baby girl sweater I’m designing. I had a small ball of merino wool (the perfect size to fit comfortably in Yarn Rascal’s mouth) cast on to a dpn to test run the placket construction. It was innocently sitting on the table next to my knitting chair. In my lap were the two halves of the sweater and a large ball of alpaca yarn attached to the front half of the sweater. I was trying to figure out why the front half of the sweater was a full 2 inches (5) cm longer from hem to the start of armhole shaping than the back half. I checked gauge, needle size, and strained my eyes to count each row. All to no end. I kept losing count after 10. I took my reading glasses off, closed my tired eyes, and laid my head back on the chair for a 5 minute time out during which I planned to pull myself together and do away with the vision of climbing onto the roof and jumping off.

The Yarn Rascal attack was almost instant. He jumped into my lap, snatched the small ball of merino into his mouth and then plastered himself to the front of me, his little front paws wrapped tightly around my neck. The plastering and wrapping is new behavior. Lately, when he has something in his mouth that he knows he shouldn’t have, he flattens himself against my chest and, like a human child, wraps his little front arms around my neck. In doing so, he places his head and mouth so far behind me that it is impossible to extract the thing from his mouth. When I try to reach back, his neck grows longer, as if he’s part giraffe, and I can’t gain access to his mouth. It’s a win-win situation for him. I adore the hug, and at the same time I feel terrible about taking whatever it is out of his little mouth. Thus, he ends up with it in his mouth a little longer.

In the meanwhile, his little back feet, nails and all, were dancing on the sweater halves and the ball of alpaca yarn in my lap. Now alpaca isn’t the type of yarn that can take heavy wear and tear. It tends to shed and shred when abused. So I lifted his adorable little back feet off my lap and swept everything to the floor. With Yarn Rascal clinging to my front like a bib, and the dpn needle dangling from the yarn down my back, I sought out The Skipper who prised my little darling loose and removed the wet yarn from his mouth. I then raced Yarn Rascal back to the living room throwing myself onto the knitting and yarn I had swept to the floor like a football player on a loose ball.

Finally, at the end of the evening I crawled into bed and found release from my aching lower back vowing never to throw myself on yarn like that again. I stared up at the ceiling took a deep, relaxing breath, released it, and heard the distinct crinkling sound of a yarn band still wrapped on a skein of yarn. My head snapped to the bedroom door and there he was, tail thumping in wild pleasure, an entire new skein of alpaca in his mouth. He opened and closed his smiling little jaws twice, the paper yarn band rustling. The chase was on.

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As I’ve said, sometimes I experience Second Sock Syndrome even if the pattern is of my own making. Second Sock Syndrome is when the second of a pair of socks takes an unrealistically long, long time from cast on to cast off. I’ve had Second Sock Syndrome that lasted two years. Hence, when The Skipper’s second sock was beginning to lag I decided a major intervention was needed.

Like the old ball and chain prison inmates carried around with them in the silent movies of yore, I decided the sock would become my constant companion. As long as it was unfinished, I had to carry it with me wherever I went.

The sock chills out with a pumpkin and Autumn flowers.

The sock chills out with a pumpkin and Autumn flowers.

The sock takes the long walk down the hill to gather the mail. The sock had no problem coming back up the hill, though I can't say the same for me.

The sock takes the long walk down the hill to gather the mail. The sock had no problem coming back up the hill, though I can’t say the same for me.

The sock running errands in the car. It got a lot of knitting time waiting in the doctor's office.

The sock running errands in the car. It got a lot of knitting time waiting in the doctor’s office.

The ball and chain theory worked. The Skipper’s second sock is done. Photographs on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

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I’ve just released the pattern for the Charleston Socks. These socks are dear to my heart as their creation took place during a difficult time for me. They became my stalwart companions. Knitting them soothed my nerves many times. When the last stitches were cast off, it was a little sad. They had been my knitting companions for so long. On the flip side, I really love wearing them. They are my go to socks when I need a cheering up or I need comforting.

charleston socks 1

Sized to fit babies 6-12 mos and adults small, medium, and large. The knitter has the option of making a mother and daughter matching set, if desired. Pretty and feminine, these socks are constructed toe-up. The design has an easy to memorize pattern.


Use your favorite fingering weight yarn. One skein will do.

To purchase the pattern click the buy now button.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Knitting as Armor

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.

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