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Archive for April, 2015

I’ve been thinking of writing a tutorial on how to make socks fit an individual foot. It would give the new sock knitter guidance and the veteran sock knitter information on how to cope with perennial trouble areas. I wish every knitter would give sock knitting a go at least once and everyone deserves and can make a sock to fit their foot. The tutorial would include all the math one needs to know in order to make the sock fit. Sock math isn’t very hard and there’s not a lot of it. Food for thought.

On the lace leaf shawl KAL front: I am dropping out. Yes, last night I reached my limit for repetitive mistakes and decided to put myself, the shawl, and the yarn out of misery. Why I wasn’t able to work two yarn overs perfectly distanced from their decrease I’ll never know. The pattern is well-written and easy. It doesn’t require knitting gymnastics, a degree in aerodynamics, or perfection in second guessing what the designer intended. It’s totally me and not the pattern.

I’m feeling the pressure from three baby sweaters all in various states of design. I suspect, my mind has been more on those than the knitting right in front of me. It’s to these three imps I will now turn my attention. One needs a bit of frogging and that will done first.

In other news, Spring is trying to make an appearance. According to my gardening journal we are at least 3 weeks behind where we were weather-wise last year at this time. We may reach into the 70s F / 20s C today. I just planted my lettuce seeds yesterday. The ground is still very cold.

The terrarium continues to live to my utter amazement. I may soon be facing my first pruning, which I am not looking forward to. First, however, I think it may be wise for me to identify the three plants that make up the terrarium and do a little research on their growing habits and shapes.

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When working socks from the toe up, my preferred provisional cast on is the short-row. The kind with the wrap and turn (w&t) at the ends. Sometimes, however, this doesn’t work. Depending on the yarn, holes form at the w&t points when the wraps are picked up and knitted or purled together with their stitches. I border on being pathological when it comes to holes in knitting. The only time a hole in knitting is acceptable is when it is intentionally made. All other holes drive me more crazy than I naturally am. So when I was knitting my most recent socks and holes started to appear at the w&t points in the toe it was time for alternate action.

I’ve tried the various non-short-row provisional cast ons and don’t like them. I dislike them for any number of reasons but the main two are: 1) they don’t look as neat as a short-row toe; 2) they don’t add reinforcing to the area of the sock that gets heavy wear and thus is worn through more quickly. I like my socks to hang around with me longer than a season or two, which is why I knit so many. The more I have, the more choice, the less chance of one pair being excessively worn till it’s thread bare. After all, I use them from the beginning of autumn to the end of spring. That’s a lot of wear to spread out.

So instead of ditching the short-row, I changed the type of short-row from the w&t to the yarn over short-row. The problem of holes in the toes was solved. Suzanne Bryan has a good YouTube tutorial on how to work the yarn over short row here for both the knitters who pick and those that throw. Check it out.

The yarn over short-row is begun on a RS row and knit to one stitch before the end of a row. With one stitch remaining on the left needle, turn the work.

WS Row: Work a backward yo by simply laying the yarn over the needle as if to purl. (Do not wrap the yarn all the way around the needle as you would for a normal yo between two purl stitches). Purl the first st. When the completed purl stitch is slipped to the right needle a yarn over should be between it and the stitch already sitting on the right needle. Hence, three stitches are now on the right needle. Purl to one stitch before the end of the row. With one stitch remaining on the left needle, turn the work.

RS Row: Make a normal yo and knit to one stitch before the backward yo. Turn work.

WS Row: Move yarn as if to purl and purl the first st on the left needle. When stitch is complete and slipped to the right needle, make sure a yarn over is between it and the stitches already on the right needle. Purl to one stitch before yo. Turn work.

Repeat these rows until the desired amount of unworked toe stitches remain.

Begin the second part of the short-row toe by knitting or purling the stitches with their yarn overs as follows:

RS Row: Make a normal yo then knit to the first backward yo. Reseat the backward yarn over so the rear leg of the stitch is now in front. Knit the yo together with the next st. Turn work.

WS Row: Make a backward yo and purl across to the first yo. Work a SSP (slip one stitch knitwise, slip the next stitch knitwise, return both sts to left needle and then purl them together through their back loops). Turn work.

RS Row: Make a normal yo then knit to the first 2 backward yos. Reseat both yarn overs and return them to left needle. K3 together (the 2 yos and the next knit stitch). Turn work.

WS Row: Make a backward yo and purl across to first 2 normal yos. Work SSSP (slip one stitch knitwise, slip next stitch knitwise, slip next stitch knitwise. Return all three stitches to the left needle and then purl them together through their back loops). Turn work.

Repeat the last two rows until all wraps and their stitches have been worked. For the heel, follow the same procedure.

I’m pretty happy with the results.

Toe up socks knit with Schoeller and Stahl Fortissima Colori in Mexiko Country colors on US 1 (2.25) mm needles.

Toe up socks knit with Schoeller and Stahl Fortissima Colori in Mexiko Country colors on US 1 (2.25) mm needles.

knitted socks toe up 2

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studio b knits by betsy hershberg

studio b knits by betsy hershberg

crochet earrings

knit necklace by Jessie at home

knit necklace by Jessie at home

Crochet leaves necklace found on Etsy

Crochet leaves necklace found on Etsy

studio b knits by betsy hershberg

studio b knits by betsy hershberg

tatting found on squidoo

tatting found on squidoo


Copper wire leaf earrings by lucy neatby

Copper wire leaf earrings by lucy neatby

inspiration realization knitted silver bracelet.

inspiration realization knitted silver bracelet.

Crochet fern earrings by Junng Jung

Crochet fern earrings by Junng Jung

crochet bracelet

This is a tatted necklace and earring set. The intricate work is mind blowing.

This is a tatted necklace and earring set. The intricate work is mind blowing.

bead wire crochet jewelry

knit bracelets by knit hacker

knit bracelets by knit hacker

necklace

found on etsy. crochet owl earrings

found on etsy. crochet owl earrings

emmastine.com

emmastine.com

Chinese decorative knot earrings

Chinese decorative knot earrings

Elizabeths's Lace earrings

Elizabeths’s Lace earrings

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shawl kal

My KAL Lace Leaf Shawl with Claire and friends is coming along. The yarn is Schachenmayr Select Tahiti 99% cotton. It is the softest cotton yarn I think I’ve ever knitted. Also, I love the color changes–they are long and fade well in and out of transitions. Webs has it on sale this month. I bought a couple more in different colors. Each ball has 306 yds / 280 m in it, plenty for a small shawl worked on US size 5 (3.75)mm needles.

The pattern for the shawl is well-written. Still, I stumble on rows 3 and 5, wanting to put yarn overs where they don’t belong. Whenever I reach one of those rows it’s all concentration on the knitting. The life line has saved my sanity many times. I just can’t seem to get the rhythm of those rows.

Yesterday I had my MRI with contrast (ugh), my final big test this year to scout for any recurrence of breast cancer. The MRI was very difficult for me. I felt like a death penalty convict when they strapped the tube to my vein. I hate it when the radioactive stuff is finally released into my arm. I can actually feel it as it spreads through my body. My heart always stutter steps for a couple of beats as if it’s not sure it wants to pump this stuff through when it reaches there. It’s a slightly alarming feeling, but to stop the test at that point means I’d have to take it from the top all over again another day. So I grit my teeth and pray that my heart will normalize its beat on its own.

For the past two years, I’ve had family members drive me to and from the MRI because I am so woozy for about an hour after the procedure. But I hate that feeling of dependency. So yesterday I drove myself. I sat in the car for about 30 minutes after the test waiting to get my bearings and sea legs under me. On the way back there was an accident that closed the road I was on for about 20 minutes. People are so impatient. Traffic wasn’t moving so I turned my car off but left the radio on. The station I was listening to was playing some pretty great songs from my beloved 1960s. So while those around me were showing signs of exasperation and impatience I was moving and grooving to my songs. Frankly, I was just so happy that the MRI was over with, a traffic jam was the least of my problems.

The terrarium still lives. In fact, dare I say it? The plants look down right happy. Strange because I did some heavy root pruning to get them to fit into the bowl. I keep thinking of that old story about the guy who’s told how well he looks only to drop dead 24 hours later. I hope that’s not what’s going to happen here.

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Picture2

Yes, that is the signal that the Golden Paw Award was handed out this weekend and only one member of this family can win it and he did.
I now firmly believe that Yarn Rascal not only thinks, but has the capability to formulate and then carry out a plan.

Saturday was windy and warm. The outside temps were near 80 F / 27 C. All the windows were open. When the windows first open after being shut all winter, it is my task to nail down, tack down, pick up, sort and file, or remand to the dust bin all loose papers that accumulated over the winter in the craft room. Yarn Rascal’s second dearest love, next to pure Shetland yarn, is ripping to small, teeny shreds any piece of paper that lands on the floor no matter its importance or insignificance. Last winter was particularly heavy on sketching. Unlike most sane artists who have sketchbooks in which to keep their drawings, mine are on loose paper and may or may not find their way into a file folder depending on a number of criteria.

But Saturday I was clearly out of my mind. I didn’t realize I was out of my mind, I just thought I had an incredibly long agenda for the day and somehow it began by my running late. So when I pushed open the window in the craft room I failed to secure any of the paper that was around. In my mind I was already three steps ahead of where my body was. Mind and body separation is never a good thing for me. It’s precisely the slip up Yarn Rascal patiently waits for day in and day out. So my feet were in the craft room but my mind was in the basement planting the terrarium I decided to use, as one would a canary in a coal mine, to see whether I had it in me to snip and train plants to grow in miniature before I went into the big expense of bonsai.

Training and reining in of live things is not a strong point of mine. Yarn Rascal runs wild because I don’t want to impinge on his personality. The deer eat every thing in the outside gardens because they have a right to live too. That brings me to plants. The only plants I’ve ever trimmed and trained in my life are my roses and I only do that when they are looking like they are dead. Cutting a plant that is alive is somewhat painful for me.

Nevertheless, most of Saturday I spent in the basement with potting soil, mud, plants, rocks, and moss creating a natural landscape that looked like it was already years old in a large antique bowl I scavenged from a yard sale years ago. Yarn Rascal spent part of his Saturday in the craft room shredding paper like he was the head of the CIA and about to appear before a congressional committee. But when he stopped shredding, the little imp gained access to the yarn vault. That moment of entry was the pinnacle of his weekend because the minute he breached the doors there lay the Shetland Yarn. It’s the same snaggle of yarn Yarn Rascal has ruined played with before. I keep it intentionally unguarded in the yarn vault as a distraction for when he gains entry. For once he has the Shetland, all other search and seizure halts.

Thus it was with mud and moist potting soil covering my hands and arms up to the elbows and pieces of moss entwined in my hair that I heard the thump, thump, thump of an insanely happy puppy tail at the top of the stairs behind me. Lo and behold, Yarn Rascal’s face was like a child’s on the 4th of July watching fireworks. In short, he was besides himself with delight as he clenched the matted, snarled mess of yarn in his mouth. Dear sweet little Yarn Rascal didn’t realize he’d been set up. I quickly cleaned my arms, hands and hair and began the chase he so desperately loves. By the time we finished running, little one was exhausted. He dropped the yarn to drink some water whereupon I swiftly grabbed it up. But by then his little tongue was hanging down to his feet. He barely had the energy to stretch out on the floor by his dish to relax. I, on the other hand, still had a mess to clean up downstairs.

This is how the terrarium turned out.

After planting, I learned that one can get special miniature plants made specifically for terrariums that maintain their smallness. These are not those plants. (Sigh).

After planting, I learned that one can get special miniature plants made specifically for terrariums that maintain their smallness. These are not those plants. (Sigh).

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These are very small dresses. Source is makinology on tumblr.

These are very small dresses. Source is makinology on tumblr.

I don't usually go for this type of knitting. But this artist makes the fruit almost real. Source is fruit face on flickr.

I don’t usually go for this type of knitting. But this artist makes the fruit almost real. Source is fruit face on flickr.

The sheer artistry takes my breath away. It is beautiful Source is podkins on tumblr.

The sheer artistry takes my breath away. It is beautiful. Source is podkins on tumblr.

This is the result of a second grade project in Katonah. They spun, dyed, and knit this as a second grade community project. Amazing.

This is the result of a second grade project in Katonah. They spun, dyed the yarns with Kool Aid and Wiltons Icing Gels, and knit this as a second grade community project with the help of Frankie Brown. Amazing.

Knitted glass by Carol Milne.

Knitted glass by Carol Milne.

catalogue raisonne. Yes we've all had enough of snow, but this blanket is beautiful.

catalogue raisonne. Yes we’ve all had enough of snow, but this blanket is beautiful.

Source is kgthreads on tumblr.

Source is kgthreads on tumblr.

The construction of the non-shoulder and the sleeve area is interesting. Source is Zara.

The construction of the non-shoulder and the sleeve area is interesting. Source is Zara.

I have to admit, the feathers caught my eye much more than the knit top below. I love the whole construct of the picture, though. Source is tumbler.

I have to admit, the feathers caught my eye much more than the knit top below. I love the whole construct of the picture, though. Source is tumbler.

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I live by the sentiment that I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. Ninety-nine percent of the time I live in peace with past and present. But that one percent can be a thorn. It deals with my decision in college and grad school not to follow my love of drawing and painting.

At the age of seven I knew what I wanted to be: a writer. I commandeered my mother’s old manual typewriter from the 1930s (I still have it!) and pounded out story after story at my little desk in our basement. I was writer, editor, printer, and illustrator of my own little books. One of the most prominent memories from that time was that darn typewriter and how I literally had to hammer each key to get it to print, with mom upstairs calling “You better not break that typewriter.” When the black ribbon that ran from spool to spool would come to an end, I had to rewind it. Usually I could almost get three rewinds off the ribbon before I had to beg a new one off my mother.

“What are you writing down there”, she’d ask while handing over yet another fresh black ribbon.

“Nothing.” I’d say. The classic kid response to everything.

In addition to the typewriter on my little desk, what once was a tin can of peas was now a holder for pens, drawing pencils, editing pencils, and a pink eraser. Stored in the desk cubby hole was paper for the typewriter, carbon paper, paper for drawing, and the old standard black and white cardboard covered notebooks used for school, but which I used for journaling all my ideas both written and drawn. I was a conservationist’s nightmare when it came to paper products. I also had, prominently displayed next to a  large old fashioned industrial counting machine, a pink message pad with the words While You Were Out printed boldly across the top.

In high school, I dropped story writing for poetry. I call those four years my Lord Byron period. I also drew a lot and discovered painting and art class. I was drawn to poets like Silvia Plath and other writers and artists who had tragic endings. I could understand why she put her head in an oven. I comprehended why Hemingway shot himself. Mom and the school counselor introduced me to psychology via the school psychologist. The upshot of which was I stopped writing so they had nothing to read. I withdrew into my world of drawings and paintings most of which had to do with what would be called fantasy art: a world of fairies and elves. I had found Tolkein, Beowulf, King Arthur, Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight. My art teacher and I formally parted ways in that I took no further classes with him. He wasn’t into fantasy art. So on my free periods I would sit in the school hallway and draw.

When college time came my parents and grandparents all agreed that unless I was going to study something that had relevance (translation: that led to a J-O-B) they would not be funding my education. And so I studied journalism, Literature and creative writing. I took no art classes, but for one where I honed my focus to drawing broken things. The art teacher just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t studying art. I had the talent but I needed the formal knowledge. I almost switched. But the family financial aid would go away and so I didn’t step foot in another art class.

But I guess it all worked out as it should. Perhaps I was not ready to study art. I don’t think I would have made it to here because I was in a period of my life in which I was shutting down. I have found that  I can’t make art and be shut down; apart from my emotions. Everything I create requires me to be emotionally involved with it. Even the knitted garments I create engage my emotions. I really have to feel when making art.

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Lots of things are going on. Regarding knitted things: 2 shawls, a pair of socks that are so close to finished I need to be ashamed I haven’t completed them yet, the new baby sweater with the new collar worked out, the baby boy sweater needs to move into sketching mode, and Ming Blue needs revisiting as it is haunting me.

Instead last night was a very late night for me. I didn’t hit the sack until 4 am. Mr. Nocturnal, Yarn Rascal, delights in these late nights, but they just sap the heck out of my energy and I walk around all day in a fog. I sketched, drew, laid out, designed, on my logo last night. I am trying to pin myself down to workable designs that can effectively convey the feeling and mood as well as clearly and easily let people know what I do. In short, I’m branding. I have hired a graphic designer, she is such a lovely person, and I fear I might be driving her crazy.

Last night I came up with a wonderful design I just loved. The only problem is it would perfectly fit as a book cover for a cozy mystery along the lines of Maisey Dobbs or the Ian Rutledge series. Alas, it works less well as branding my technical editing and knitwear design business. The Skipper thought it a book cover and that I was writing and printing my own books now.

Today I am on the search for something to bonsai. It’s lovely out and I’ve wanted a miniature landscape with rocks, moss, and a tree to set nicely in a bowl on our large farm table. The question is begin one from scratch or purchase one already in progress and hope I don’t kill it. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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On Friday, I had said I was expecting more packages of yarn and wondered how to get them inside the house without The Skipper noticing. The comment Notewords wrote is right: it’s smuggling. I hadn’t thought of it that way before so I  pondered it a bit and I decided I’m okay with smuggling yarn into the house. No sneaky tendrils of guilt hid anywhere in my being over this.

Also in the comments on Friday was a great one from Jennifer suggesting I stash the yarn package in the trunk until The Skipper fell asleep then joyfully bring it into the house and immediately secure it in the yarn vault. I thought this a brilliant idea and so I went with it, even though I don’t have a trunk in my car.

I own a Subaru Forester. It has a cargo area visible to all who walk by but it is not a trunk. True, it has a fabric covering I can pull out to hide whatever I have in the back, but doing that would be like raising a red flag. The Skipper’s interest would be peaked and he would surely look to see what I was hiding.

The closest I get to having a trunk like enclosure is the front end of my ‘Buru, under the hood. Admittedly, a lot of things are already under the hood, not least of which is the engine, but I thought perhaps I could sneak in one more thing. To keep the yarn clean I took  a large plastic bag with me and drove down to the mailbox. Yarn Rascal hates riding in cars so he was fit to be tied  stood sentinel in the picture window as I vanished down the hill.

Open the mailbox, sure enough out pops the large yarn package that contains a sweater-to-be for me. Needless to say, I just couldn’t put it in the plastic bag without first opening it to squeeze and bury my face in the new yarn. When I was done loving it, I put the package in the plastic bag and drove back up the hill. The idea was to stash the yarn under the hood until The Skipper went to bed and then bring it into the house. It would be safe out of sight under the hood because we were finished with the car for the day.

I got out and tried to open the hood. How hard can it be to open the hood of my car? Quite a bit, since I don’t ever remember doing so. Hoods don’t simply open. They need to be unlatched. I came up with that brilliant piece of deduction after repeatedly trying to pull up the hood while standing on the bumper for better leverage.

Locating the latch was done by feel. I gingerly ran my fingers around the dark, grimy underside of the hood three times before I found it.  Although the latch was located I somehow failed to understand how it unlatched. Push, pull, swipe right, swipe left, no matter what I did it remained latched. My growing anxiety told me I was taking too long to open the hood to pop in the yarn. I was at risk of raising the interest of The Skipper. Also of no help whatsoever, Yarn Rascal was in the window jumping up and down yelping because he knew what was in the package and he wanted his share of the yarn. So I frantically pushed, pulled, swiped, banged, grabbed at the latch even faster because time was running out. The Skipper was bound to come out to see what was going on.

I gave one last tug and the hood popped opened. I stuffed the package on top of the least dirtiest item under the hood: a large round thing and slammed the hood shut. Just then the door opened and The Skipper stuck his head out to ask if something was wrong. I waved his mail at him and inside the house I went.

After dinner, while I was loading the dishwasher, I thought I heard the car start up. Impossible. For a brief second I was paralyzed, frozen to the spot with a fork in one hand and a pan in the other. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the car glide down the driveway. This is not happening, I kept saying while I ran full tilt and banged open the screen door sending it off its hinges. A quick stumble down the stairs and there I stood in the middle of the driveway watching the tail lights disappear around the corner. Nooooooooo, I screamed. But it was too late. The car with The Skipper at the wheel and the yarn on top of some engine part was gone.

My mind began to race. How long would it take the plastic bag and yarn to catch fire? Plastic doesn’t burn, does it? No it melts. The yarn won’t burn either; it’s wool. No it will smolder and singe. Sh#@$&%t. The yarn had been on sale and the color was discontinued. In short, it was the last of its kind. The magnitude of the extinction I just witnessed hit me like a rogue ocean wave.

What could I do? I turned to go back inside. There was Yarn Rascal standing in the picture window with a skein of yarn in his mouth that looked an awful amount like the yarn I thought went down the drive. Needless to say the chase was on. True to form, Yarn Rascal led me right back to the initial scene of the crime. On the bed in the bedroom was my ripped open bag of yarn. The yarn I thought had just sailed down the road with The Skipper was here and almost safe.

After I tackled Yarn Rascal and pried the yarn from his little jaws, I took the entire bag and put it in the yarn vault. The Skipper returned with some ice cream and the three of us sat quietly enjoying our bowlfuls. The yarn was never mentioned.

The next package due to arrive is only one skein. It’s coming from abroad. It will be small, hardly noticeable at all. I’m thinking I’ll take a small basket with me and say I am going to collect some rocks for a bonsai project. I’ll stash the package underneath them. Then I’m on a yarn diet for awhile.

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Here are some of the pictures I found interesting as I sailed around the Web this week.

Wollow Scarf by Nancy Marchant in one of many brioche stitches.

Willow Scarf by Nancy Marchant in Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze. From her book Knitting Fresh Brioche–Creating Two Color Twists and Turns.

Lace socks found on Knitty

Lace socks found on Knitty

Chloe

Source: Chloe. Colorful left over yarn can add a pop to a sweater knit in neutral colors.

Twisted Yarn's Cottage Bag worked in Crochet. Love it!

Twisted Yarn’s Cottage Bag worked in Crochet. Love it!

source bontheuishouden

source bontheuishouden

I don't know. I thought I had the gauge right.

I don’t know what happened. I thought I had gauge. Only kidding! Trending this year on the runways are structural knits and clothing.

Okay, it's embroidery not knitting. But I love the 3-D artistry.

Okay, it’s embroidery not knitting. But I love the 3-D artistry. And no weaving in of the ends!

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