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Archive for October, 2016

Weaving In Ends

When I was a very young knitter both in age and experience, I knit my first sweater and wore it to an event called Rhinebeck where I was introduced to a rather famous knitter. Since the knitter is still living and still famous I will avoid naming the individual. The person doing the introduction was crowing about how well my first knitted sweater turned out. The famous knitter looked at the cardigan then pulled it off me and scrutinized the inside of the sweater. She said that the hallmark of good knitting was a very neat wrong side where the ends of the yarn are woven in so they cannot be seen. While most of my ends met her approval, some did not. She took the time to demonstrate how these should be handled. She did this by undoing them and then weaving them back together again. While I am grateful for her sharing her talent, I was traumatized by the whole thing. I didn’t knit another thing for five years and when I did, I dreaded the moment of weaving in the ends. I still do.

Shawls produce the ultimate dread regarding weaving in ends so they can’t be seen. After all, the wrong side of a shawl is easily visible and I’d rather you see my underwear than die of embarrassment from an improperly woven in end. So here is what I’ve learned since that first fateful trip to Rhinebeck.

With a sweater, yarn ends can be hidden in seams. Not so with a shawl. Often the edges of a shawl are patterned in lace which doesn’t make a great place to hide yarn ends. Unlike with a sweater, where the rule is join in new yarn at the edges where it will be lost in the seam, this doesn’t happen with a shawl. Sometimes I need to join new yarn while in the middle of a row. It is best to pick a point where there is a block of stockinette stitch surrounding the join. I keep my joins simple. The more simple, the less noticeable. I join new yarn by wrapping the new and old yarn around the needle and knit the stitch. This creates two stitches, which I mark so I remember to decrease it on the wrong side row. Below is an example of where I joined yarn in mid row. This kind of join has never unraveled for me. In fact the garment will wear out before the join gives way. It is, for me, the surest way to join yarn.

weave-in-ends-1

When it comes time to weave in the ends of the yarn, I want to prevent a hole. I do that by crossing the yarns.

weave-in-ends-2

Then when weaving in I weave yarn A one way and yarn B in the opposite direction. By weaving in, I mean that I am piercing the yarn of the purl stitches and drawing the yarn end through them.

weave-in-ends-4

I pierce three going down one row and then pierce three going up the next row. It is like duplicate purl stitching except that I am piercing the yarn and drawing the yarn end through in order to have it hold. If I just duplicate stitched, the end of the yarn would always be exposed as the garment is used. By piercing I am burying the yarn end.

In order to “lock” my weaving I select a purl stitch, pass the needle and yarn end underneath without piercing, draw yarn end up and pierce it as close to the purl stitch as I can get so it locks into itself.

weave-in-ends-3

This locking works very well with slippery yarns. Then I continue to work three down and three up piercing the purl stitches. Should my yarn end come unraveled the point at which it locks will stop it from further coming undone. In the end, my weaving in of ends looks like this:

weave-in-ends-6

I hope this helps some. My way is not the only way. There are many techniques for weaving in yarn ends. Give them all a try and find which one works best for you.

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A Real Mountain Lion

Well the powers-that-be seem to  be  listening to me. In keeping with their wicked sense of humor, last night around 2 am I met face to face with a real mountain lion in my own yard. It is a unique stomach-dropping sensation that occurs when you go from top of the food chain to the bottom rapidly.

What was I doing in the yard at 2 am? Remember if you will, Yarn Rascal is nocturnal. He lays siege all night to the yarn vault and in between plays with his toys and chews his bones or, if it’s been a particularly  good night in the yarn vault, he chews up the paper yarn ball bands. A busy dog, he drinks a bowlful or more of water at night. Therefore, he needs to go outside at all hours.

The mountain lion seemed to be passing through. We have a distinct animal trail that runs through our property. Lucky us. This morning I called the local DEP and the nature preserve to alert them but they already knew the lion was around. They said they “think” it is moving north back into areas that would be more suitable.

This is my first face to face with a mountain lion and I can say I do hope it is my last. It didn’t stop to acknowledge me or anything but you could tell by the way it moved it considered itself top of the list.

I am not looking forward to nightfall.

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I don’t know why it is true but it is: Each time The Skipper steps out of the house things go south in a big way. Yesterday afternoon The Skipper was out and I thought I’d sit down to some quiet knitting on the SIL shawl. What with 20 rows left I was feeling pretty good about my knitting progress and I was careful not to say that aloud for fear the knitting gods would hear. I only thought it. Still I paid the price.

I had found a cozy position in the chair with the 500 plus stitch shawl in my lap. The television was on my regular news channel which I now watch with the sound off. It is so much better if you can’t hear what they are saying. Yarn Rascal was upstairs  breaching the yarn vault, banging on the doors to pop them open to gain entrance. All was well.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement out the picture window down by the pond. My knitting was in the middle of a lacey motif that I had to finish or else lose my place. But I just couldn’t keep my eyes from the pond where Hank had landed and was now stalking fish and frogs. A yelp of glee floated down the stairs letting me know Yarn Rascal had gained access to the yarn vault and just in that quick moment I lost count and my place in the lace motif.

Taking a deep breath, I put aside the knitting, got up and opened the sliding door to extend my hand and shake the handful of keys to move Hank out of the pond. Of course anytime a door to the outside opens Yarn Rascal is immediately there to add to the confusion. I shook the keys with one hand and kept Yarn Rascal inside by blocking all his attempts of escape with my leg.

When it was clear Hank was not going to move from the pond I opened the sliding door a little wider to step out. As I stepped out in rushed a chipmunk. He went between my feet and under Yarn Rascal racing for the living room. For Yarn Rascal, the next best thing to a cake of Shetland yarn is to have some live animal, other than himself, running around the house. In short, he was delighted beyond all reason that we now had a chipmunk in the house, while I was wishing The Skipper had never left.

Naturally, as all chipmunks probably do, the little creature headed straight for the knitting. It’s a big shawl. Lots of little places to hide in when placed in a heap. With the chipmunk under the shawl and Yarn Rascal on top of it digging, I could see disaster. I captured Yarn Rascal, detangled him and his nails from the shawl and fought the squiggling monster into another room and closed the door. While he yelped, barked, howled and hurled himself repeatedly at the door I took a moment to catch my breath. Next I decided to go back into the living room, grab up the shawl with the chipmunk in it and trying not to get bit, take it outside where I would unravel chipmunk and shawl.

I did just that. Got the shawl outside and viola! no chipmunk. The chipmunk was still somewhere in the house. How does one get a chipmunk out of the house? Darn if the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel didn’t pop into my head. A food trail might entice him back out the door. Thankfully The Skipper loves nuts. All kinds of nuts, so we keep a lot on hand. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, you name it we have it. I made a big, wide trail of most of the nuts we had. It went from the living room out the sliding glass door.

It took awhile, but along came the chipmunk and followed the nut trail. Of course The Skipper was now without any nuts. But as I told him it was the choice of having nuts and a chipmunk in the house or having no nuts and no chipmunk.

The shawl came out of the ordeal pretty well. A few snags that I can ease back into place and a loss of 10 rows, but no major damage. Yarn Rascal is no worse for the wear. He just loves a good adventure. As for The Skipper, he says he’s not going anywhere for a long while. That’s okay by me.

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All Is Normal

Things are moving along.

Hank, the Great Blue Heron, is back in our pond. The heron statutes I thought were deterrents are no longer working. I hate to think I might have to go the alligator route. Percy, the osprey is also back. I am constantly picking up the fish parts he discards. As if this weren’t enough, two new players have emerged. A young buck that seems to think the area belongs to him. He stomps, snorts and rushes at me to claim his ground. It’s rutting time and bucks get a little crazy. I explained to him that if he continues in this manner he’s going to be chasing his teeth down the hill after I smack them out of his mouth. I can’t have him being aggressive when I am walking Yarn Rascal, though I must say whenever he sees Yarn Rascal he doesn’t charge. This leads me to believe this is the buck that as a baby, repeatedly played and touched noses with Yarn Rascal.

The second newcomer who wants to claim territory is a coyote. This is not good and I keep him moving whenever I see him. I’ve looked up coyote deterrents on Google and it seems that mountain lion urine is the suggested method. I have a few thoughts on this. How does one safely get urine from a mountain lion? Here kitty, kitty, urinate in the bottle just isn’t the right approach. On the other hand, luring a mountain lion onto your property so it can freely relieve itself doesn’t seem the correct approach either.

Nevertheless, the internet has tons of mountain lion urine for sale. We have 2 acres to cover, that’s a lot of mountain lion urine. Of course, how does one know if the mountain lion urine purchased is true mountain lion urine? Again, how does one acquire mountain lion urine and live to tell about it much less sell it in large quantities?

All this might lead you to think not much knitting is getting done. Untrue. The SIL shawl is about 30 long rows from being complete and I have designed a new baby sweater and hat set which I am tentatively calling Anastasia. I need to grade the outfit and then I’ll photograph it and look for test knitters.

In the meantime, the Shetland wool for my next project has arrived, much to Yarn Rascal’s delight. True Shetland wool is Yarn Rascal’s most favorite. I haven’t unpacked the wool yet because it would not be safe from Yarn Rascal. Instead I have hung the package from the ceiling of the yarn vault, sort of like a piñata, but high enough that Yarn Rascal can’t get it in his nightly forays into the vault. Still, he knows that it is there and he spends his evenings trying to reach it.

In summation, everything here is progressing normally.

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