Archive for July, 2016

The Pembroke baby sweater pattern is now live on Ravelry.

pembroke knit baby sweater

My original inspiration for designing this was the rugby sweater. Tired of the same old stripes, I played around with color and shape to create a look that was not like everything else out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 2016

The result is an individualist sweater that is different from the rest of the stripes out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater sideways cu

Best of all, the unique look doesn’t come at the expense of knitting frustration. The sweater is a quick, fun knit done in garter stitch. The striping is only on the front, leaving the back plain, so there is no anxiety of having to match up stripes when finishing the sweater. The rolled neck, hem and cuffs also make for easy finishing. The stripes are made in easy no-wrap short-rows. The short-row instructions are easy to follow and the knitter can’t get lost. Each row is written out and stitches are counted for you. All you need do is enjoy the knitting.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 4

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Never Make A Plan

I had planned the weekend to be quiet and fruitful. I was going to make a major dent in the shawl work, hopefully knocking out most of the 168 lace rows of the body so I can start the first border on Monday.

You know what they say about plans.

Friday morning the entire plan was negated. Instead, I went in for emergency root canal work on a tooth that is perfectly healthy, except that pressure mysteriously built up inside of it.

I don’t relate to dentistry well. In fact it has gone past absolute fear into absolute phobia. The panic starts the minute I know I’m headed to the dentist.

Because of my extreme phobia, I have a very good dentist who specializes in people like me. I mean how many dentist’s offices have a meditation room, massaging dental chairs, a tv in every room, and head phones where you can listen to any type of music you want? I always choose the spa music channel. She also has nice soft pillows to fit around your neck. Cozy, soothing, blankets, and eye pads that keep the harsh dental light out of your eyes.

So Friday was a lost cause. Between pain meds and the terror of going through the root canal, I was totally spent.

Saturday dawned and I was still drained. This time with the lingering hangover from having gotten my nerves so strung out plus I was still on the pain medication.

Now it’s Sunday and I am feeling more myself and I plan to tackle the shawl as soon as I figure out what the hell the immature red tail hawk is doing. He is extremely immature, I can tell by his markings, but I am not sure that his mind is all there. He flew into and got tangled up in the butterfly bush early this morning. He can fly from tree to tree, but he doesn’t go into the upper branches like hawks do so they can see their food source. So far he’s swooped down and pounced on a stick, which he then preceded to play with for 15 minutes. Jumping away from it, then pouncing back on it. He also swooped down and pounced on a rather large leaf and exhibited the same playing movements.

He sits in the trees and will cry for hours. When he’s not crying, he’s sleeping. He shows no fear of us and I am wondering if he’s getting enough food. I don’t eat meat or flesh of any kind, but The Skipper has a big steak in the fridge for his dinner tonight. I am wondering if I cut a nice slab off, and if I can locate some falconry gloves, if the hawk would eat out of my hand. I have some knowledge of hawking.

Like I said, I am planning on working on the shawl today and knitting does require two hand and two arms that are working. But the hawk is once again awake. I’m going to call around the neighborhood. Somebody must have falconry gloves they can lend me.

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Turn Off The TV

By the end of the summer, I promise to have a completed shawl. Despite the shawl’s best efforts not to be knitted, I have completed 21 of the 41 body rows and am not thinking ahead to the number or rows or nupps in the first border. At the end of this, I may have repeatedly made every mistake one can make while knitting. It is masochistic knitting at its best.

Usually I have the tv on while knitting. In crazy times such as these this is not a good idea. Many mistakes come from the “Wow I can’t believe what I am seeing / hearing” response where I stop in the middle of the lace motif to gape at the television and then editorialize for the next 5 minutes. At the end of the riposte I go back to knitting not realizing I am now knitting the lace motif for the 5th row and not the 3rd row. I knit to the last 3 stitches of the 100 plus stitch row before I realize that things are not coming out right. I curse. Both Yarn Rascal and The Skipper flinch. I am enough rows away from the lifeline that I don’t want to wantonly rip back, which means I now have to tink the row, ssks, double central decreases and all. This can get messy. Stitches can drop and mysteriously disappear into the knitted fabric below necessitating a complete rip back to the lifeline. I do not want that to happen.

Unfortunately, I don’t turn off the tv. As I methodically tink back I come to a double central decrease involving three stitches. At the same time another “I can’t believe this” moment happens on tv and in that short blink of an eye one of the three stitches is lost into the knitted fabric below. Now I must rip all the way back to the lifeline.

I editorialize on life, the universe and what’s on tv while ripping back. At one point, it comes to my attention that Yarn Rascal is gnawing away on a small bundle of the ripped out yarn. I remove it from his mouth like one removes dental floss and wind the ripped back yarn onto the ball of yarn.

I put the stitches back on the needles and repeat the whole procedure a second time. That’s when I call it a night.

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This is the Estonian Garden Shawl designed by Evelyn Clark that I made many years ago.

estonian garden shawl 3I can’t for the life of me remember the yarn I used. In those days I didn’t make notes on patterns, things like yarn, weight, needle size and my own gauge. I do remember the wool was heavier than what was called for so it is probably fingering weight. I also remember that the composition was wool and cotton. I wanted the cotton for the durability because I intended on wearing it often and it has seen a lot of use through the years.

If you are wondering what are those things on the large border they are nupps. The “just purl seven together” kind of nupps. It was my first time dealing with nupps and I can tell you that there is no such thing as simply purling seven stitches together that are comprised of yarn overs. I also remember tears and thinking I had gotten that far and wouldn’t be able to complete the pattern. Yes, nupps are masochistic knitting at its best.

So there is really no surprise that I selected this pattern for my MIL shawl. I worked on it most of the weekend.

shawl in making

This is the mouse nest that will become her Estonian Garden Shawl. This time I am using MadelineTosh Prairie lace weight yarn in the Antique Lace colorway and a size US 4 needle. I have a long way to go yet before I get to the nupp part.

This, my friends, is a labor of love. Every time I pick it up and work on it I can think of so many other projects I’d like to be knitting instead. So far, I’ve designed two more baby sweaters in my head and am seriously thinking of doing Fringe Association’s top down sweater KAL that starts in August. The latter would be masochistic knitting at its height since I have never done a top down adult sweater and I despise raglan shaping and the way it looks on me.

All of this is simply a way to divert myself from the current shawl and then the other one I need to make for my SIL. Frankly, I don’t know how much longer I can carry the monogamy before I pick up a sock.

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I am knitting away on my mother-in-law’s shawl. I am trying my best to stay with one project at a time. Currently I have a number of wips on the needles: two socks, two shawls, a cowl, a sweater for me, a baby sweater and hat set that just needs ribbon detail and the urge to start fiddling around with another knitting project. Knitting monogamy is not a strong suit of mine.

The weather here is much like it is in the Amazon: very hot, very humid. The growing season has been less than ideal. Many flowers have not appeared. The lettuce at first refused to grow and then bolted quickly, the tomatoes are showing signs of end rot on them. The green and yellow squash are plentiful, but really there is just so much of it I can stand. Frankly, I’m rooting for winter. I’m having day dreams of Antarctica: penguins, snow, ice and all. I am not a beach-loving, warm Caribbean type of person. Give me snow and a wind chill.

All of this is to say I am having a hard time staying motivated for the shawl haul. My MIL is 92 years old and my SIL has been living with cancer for over 5 years now, so I would like to get these shawls completed in a reasonably rapid time frame. By that I mean I’d really like them finished by yesterday, but October or November seems more realistic. I am so not motivated that yesterday I fell asleep while knitting the MIL shawl. I’ve never fallen asleep while knitting. I fear my knitting mojo has abandoned me once again.

Even Yarn Rascal has been low energy these last few days. He hasn’t broken into the yarn vault at all. Usually he’s good for at least one raid a day. If his little paws were hands he’d be a professional safe cracker.

It all leaves me thinking where the heck did my knitting mojo go? There is an old Shetland blanket pattern which is incorrectly written that I’d love to track down and get. My masochistic knitting side is just itching for this old pattern. Which is not to say that the current lace knitting is boring. In fact my blood pressure and heart beat each rise as I near the end of a lace row waiting to see if I end up with the correct stitch count.

Maybe I’ll shake things up a bit and do something exciting this weekend…then again, maybe not.

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In The Meantime…

In the true spirit of masochistic knitting, the Pothos shawl shown in the last blog has…well…gone to shawl heaven. It was a very painful passing for me. I had made a mistake that couldn’t stay and when I went to rip it back very bad things happened. I have more yarn, but since part of the problem is the yarn, I am not sure I will use it for this project even though it is the perfect weight. The truth is not all lace weight yarns are the same weight. I need to be able to work this on a US size 6 (4 mm) UK 8 needle at least. What I ended up ordering is MadTosh Merino Light. Not a lace weight, but more of a fingering. I’m hoping that if I bump the needle size up to a US 7 I’ll get the kind of fabric I want.

Yarn Rascal senses yarn is on the way and sits in the window watching for the mail truck to arrive down the road. When it comes he’s like a siren that can’t be ignored. On goes the leash and down we walk to get the mail.

In the meantime, I’ve started The Skipper’s mother’s stole with MadelineTosh Prairie and there is no way Prairie can be worked with a US 6 needle. In fact, I tried to get away with a US 5 (3.75) UK 9 and had to drop down one size to a US 4. The insane part of me believes that I will finish this stole before the yarn arrives for Pothos. I am not a speed knitter, so this is delusional at best.

The stole I am making is Evelyn Clark’s Estonian Garden Wrap.


I made it a long time ago for me and used a fingering weight yarn in a wool and cotton mix. For the life of me I can’t remember the name because I wanted to use the same yarn for the current one. I will have to take a picture of mine and post it. It was one of the first lace projects I knit and I remember the nupps were just killers. But I love my stole and wear it a lot, so I thought it would be great for The Skipper’s mother.

This time around I am using a true lace weight yarn. The pattern is perfect for the novice lace knitter. The nupps are kept to a minimum and can be altered if the knitter doesn’t want to tackle them.

Knitting is what I will be doing this weekend. I hope to make progress, though the middle finger on my right hand has developed what feels like arthritis. I’d go to the doctor about it but I just don’t want any more radiation. Besides, with the way things are going in the world having a stiff middle finger in the air all the time seems to sum up my internal sentiment. It does, however, interfere with the amount of knitting I can get done so I will have to ask the good doctor about it the next time I see him.

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Masochistic knitting and lace are a match made in heaven. All those yarn overs, decreases, increases, double decreases, double yarn overs, either written out or charted over squares so small that even a dust mite looks huge, these are the elements that could bring a lesser knitter to his / her knees, but not the masochistic knitter. No, the masochistic knitter peruses the chart through a magnifying glass and thinks, “Oh yeah, I got this. No problem.” Add the correct size of circular needles and lace weight yarn that likes to adhere to itself and one is very close to the fine art of masochistic lace knitting.

Purists will say that not all lace knitting is knitted lace. One way  lace knitting takes place is only on right side rows. Wrong side rows, considered “rest” rows, are worked in purls. The other way lace knitting takes place is on all rows, no “rest”. Both qualify as masochistic knitting, though the latter kind will get you into a nicely padded “rest” room in a quiet, calming color faster.

Pothos knit lace shawl 1

This is the Pothos shawl I am knitting for my sister-in-law. When a shawl is unblocked and still on the needles I call it the mouse nest stage. The yarn is  Miss Babbs lace weight yarn called Isadora. The colorway may be Rainforest.

The shawl has “rest” rows. I say this with a insane giggle immediately following my words. Yes, they are all purl stitches, and no they are not restful. In true masochistic knitting nothing is restful. There are just so many ways to mess up that it is hard to get through any row with ease. Yarnovers, double decreases, directional decreases, double yarn overs provide an abundance of opportunities for a mis-knit. On the rest rows yarnovers hide beneath a stitch making two stitches look like one. Knit it that way and there goes the row count. Another masochistic beauty of knitting lace is that being one little stitch off  there goes the whole row of 300 plus stitches down the drain. Holes in lace are strategically positioned. When they are not in their proper places it is noticeable.

pothosh lace knit shawl 3

I know what you are thinking: This is what a life line is for. The knitting gets ripped back to where the life line is technically holding the correct amount of stitches in their correct order. In true masochistic knitting this is a theory that doesn’t always hold true. In masochistic knitting many bad things can happen to a life line.

The most masochistic of all those things is thinking the count on the life line is correct only to realize it isn’t. There are so many ways this can happen but here are just a few: 1) The life line count is really correct but you’ve miss counted that count twice and are now slowly removing the life line and trying to catch all the teeny crazy stitches knowing if you do it successfully you’ll just have to rip out the next row too to get back to a correct count. 2) You missed a stitch when you inserted the life line and said stitch is now obscenely dangling unhinged five rows below. 3) When you pulled the knitting off the needles to rip it back to the life line you somehow also removed the life line from most of the 300 plus stitches.

This is only an introduction to the art of masochistic knitting and lace. There is so much more to share with you.


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