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Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

I never thought it would happen, but I’ve finally come across sock yarn that doesn’t want to be a sock. The culprit is Smooshy by Dream In Color in the Butter Peeps colorway. Smooshy, along with MadelineTosh Sock, are my go to yarns for socks and I’ve never had them fight me the way this yarn is doing.

knit socks

I’ve had Butter Peeps in my stash for a long, long time. Yarn Rascal unearthed it when I was trying out the Mary Mary sock pattern on Ravelry. (I’d put the link in to the pattern but WordPress is acting strange lately and won’t let me).

The Mary Mary pattern is the perfect pattern for this colorway. So no matter how hard the yarn fights me I am determined to make it into this sock. After all, masochistic knitting is not new to me.

Since I knit socks from the toe up the first place the yarn gave me trouble was making the short-row toe look right. It did not want to make a nice neat short-row. So each toe of each sock was *worked, ripped, and worked again* repeat from * to * four times. I never have this much trouble with short-row toes.

The second problem is why I don’t “usually” buy sock patterns, though you would never know it what with all the sock books and loose patterns I have in the sock making area of my stash. I could knit socks forever and never complete all the sock patterns I have stashed. Yes, in addition to stashing yarn I stash patterns.

Back to the second problem: I can never get gauge. The gauge will say 9 stitches per inch on size US 1 needles (2.25 mm) and I can only average about 7. I would need to drop down 2 needle sizes to even begin to reach 9 stitches. I can hear the snapping of dpns as I write this. No, 2.25 mm is the tiniest I can go and stay sane. I use the word “sane” loosely.

Because I can’t get gauge and my sock size is 7.5 inches (19 cm) in circumference I need to adapt whatever sock pattern I am working from. This means studying the pattern, deciding how I can adapt it so it looks close to what it was. Sometimes that is easier in theory than in practice. Though, with this particular sock all I needed to do was drop the cable at both sides of the instep and replace it with broken garter stitch. For me, the look is still close enough to the original to be pleasing.

Since I was experiencing all sorts of idiosyncracies working on dpns—holes where there shouldn’t be holes, wonky stockinette stitches, and a strange puckering of fabric every so often— I decided to knit it on a 9 inch (23 cm) small circular needle. It helped tame the yarn somewhat, though the yarn still does not want to play nice with p2tog.

I have about 30 more rows to go before I have to work the short-row heel. I have zero expectation that it will work out well on the first go round. The last heel took three tries before it looked right.

Finally, I thought I’d share this picture of Yarn Rascal with you. Notice the gleam in the eyes, he is planning his evening activities in the yarn vault.

yarn rascal

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Mad Woman In The Attic

The search for the elusive Rowan Glace continues. It’s now turned from a past time activity into an obsessive endeavor. With the blizzard dumping 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow in a 24 hour period, I had some time on my hands regarding indoor activities and that’s how I ended up in the attic.

I still have a few closets yet to be inventoried but I became obsessed with the idea that the yarn was in the attic. This was delusional thinking since I have never put a Rubbermaid bin full of yarn in the attic since I’ve lived here. But that didn’t stop me.

I folded down the attic steps and up I went. It was the middle of the blizzard and the sound of the wind was so much clearer up there. The sound of strong winds set my nerves on edge so the clarity of the sound was not comforting. In addition, the only light in the attic is in the middle of the ceiling, up high, with a 3 inch (8 centimeters) chain pull. Needless to say, I couldn’t reach it, so I was using the flashlight on my cell phone to see.

What I saw were bins and bins of Rubbermaid. Some were see-through, most weren’t. My first thought was I need to take out stock in this company. My second thought, as I looked at bins stacked on bins with some stacks as tall as me, was that this was an impossible and foolish undertaking. All of the bins in the attic came from my house when I moved here. Not one bin was added– where the heck would I find room to put it– since I’d lived here. Nonetheless this sane thought didn’t stop me.

Thus I began my own archeological dig through time. My allergies came on full bloom the minute I started moving the bins around. Some of what I found were clothes, books, shoes, half-finished embroidery that was set to be a fire place screen, crewel work, half finished crochet projects, the framed invitation to my wedding, wedding album, and so on. At about the fifth bin of fond mementos, I thought I’d caught sight of something white and furry out of the corner of my eye. I heard some scrabbling of nails on the floor coming from the direction where the flash of white disappeared. Now, I don’t mind field mice and with the weather the way it was outside I figured let the poor thing stay. But it did cross my mind that I had never seen a white field mouse.

As I opened the seventh bin, I thought I again saw something white and furry out of the corner of my eye again only it was bigger this time. It disappeared around the corner of a stack of bins I had yet to get to. Again, the scampering sound of nails across the floor. I thought it might have been a squirrels tail, though the color didn’t match that of a squirrel.

Working my way through the tenth bin the elusive creature brushed my legs. I jumped a little only to look down and see Yarn Rascal. Little one is a climber and he had climbed the steps to the attic and was having a grand old time sniffing and checking out a brand new area of the house. It was clear to me, if not to Yarn Rascal, that while he got up the steps, he wasn’t able to get down them. Nor was I able to carry him down without killing both of us.

It took about 15 minutes of calling and thumping on the floor of the attic to get The Skipper’s attention. I handed a squiggling Yarn Rascal to him and told him fold up the steps so Rascal couldn’t get back up.

Around bin number 16 I became tired of my little trip down memory lane and wanted to get down from the attic. Only I couldn’t. Unfolding the steps from where I was wasn’t possible. I was marooned in the attic for a good half hour before I got The Skipper’s attention and had him unfold the stairs.

I have three more places to look, none of which is in an attic or basement. If I find the Rowan Glace I think I’m going to strangle it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Searching

I’ve been looking for the Rowan Glace I know is lurking somewhere in one of my stashes. Having come up empty handed I thought I’d turn the task over to the master of the stashes, Yarn Rascal. After all, he spends his entire nights not sleeping but unearthing things from the yarn vault.

Lately he’s been in archeological mode. Finding and uncovering wips that I have long since forgotten about. He carefully drags them from the closet and displays them on the floor in the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom where I can’t help but see them. Two of them have caught my interest and if I can find the yarns, beads, and patterns I was using I would love to finish them. Yarn Rascal can’t help me find the beads because he will eat them. Nor can he help me locate the patterns because he will shred them as he does yarn ball bands. Anything that’s paper, including money, must be ripped into small fragments.

So last night I begged him to put his archeology hat away and find the Glace. Along with some archeological finds he unearthed a significant amount of yarn. Alas, none of it the Glace. While putting the yarns -sans ball bands- back into their respective places I realized that all the yarns Yarn Rascal had taken out were either Shetland, merino, or some other pure wool yarn. Not one was a combo of wool and silk or wool and cotton. None were cotton or linen yarns. The dog has his preferences and if it is not pure wool he ignores it. Until now I hadn’t recognized how particular he is in his choices.

Unfortunately for me, Glace is a pure cotton yarn and therefore not on Yarn Rascal’s radar. That means it’s up to me to find it. I’ll give it one more week of searching and then I’ll buy a skein. All I want it for is to swatch a baby dress idea that’s been kicking around my head and because it is a spring/summer sort of thing I’d like to use cotton yarn. Why is nothing every easy?

 

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I assure you, knitting is taking place. I am working on the Cameron Shetland Shawl by Susan Miller.

the-cameron-shawl

I am working from the center out, which means I only need navigate 125 stitches at a time. The stitch repeat is only 10 or 12 stitches. Oh the numerous ways a 10 to 12 stitch repeat can go wrong. Let’s count them, shall we?

1) Knit the wrong row entirely. Repeat this periodically throughout the 242 row process.
2) Knit while someone is talking to you.
3) Knit while watching television.
4) Dog steals knitting and dismantles it to his liking. Dismantle what dog has dismantled and try to pick up stitches from life line.
5) Realize you can’t see life line because it is a very pale lavender and fades away completely against the white frothy-ness of the Shetland yarn. Starting from the beginning is the only answer. Do not cry. It is too early in the process for crying.
6) Toss stash for a darker life line yarn. Come up empty. Have an argument with yourself over whether to shelve the knitting until you go to the store and get a darker yarn or to continue with the very pale lavender because you’re afraid a darker cotton yarn might unintentionally stain the white Shetland yarn. When the migraine appears, knitting is done for the night effectively ending the debate. Take two headache pills. Go to bed.
7) Memorize the repeat of a row, only memorize it wrong. When you get to the end of the row notice the stitch count is off. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line and try to pick up the tiny white stitches. Make a cup of Chamomile tea, drink it slowly while repeating the words “It’s okay. Everything will be fine.” Put the knitting away for the night.
8) Memorize repeat of row, memorize it correctly. At end of row stitch count is off. Carefully review row. Repeat the review at least 3 more times. Fail to see where the mistake is. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line. Crying is now allowed.

Of the 242 rows I managed to knit 60 rows successfully.

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Random Notes

After the SIL shawl sat in a time-out for a little over a week, I am once again knitting on it. I have 20 rows until it’s done. Why this is being the mother of all shawls is beyond me. It’s not the pattern, it’s me. Somehow I can’t count to 24. I also keep blowing the double central decreases. Why I don’t know. The knitting is not hard to read, I just can’t seem to shake the sense of doom I get each time I pick up this shawl.

The Skipper seems to think I have other things on my mind. I went to my oncologist last week and found out that my bone marrow is not making platelets so I have a low volume of platelets. It’s called thrombocytopenia. Why the marrow is not making platelets may be a combo of the radiation treatments and the cancer med I am on. Or it could be that my spleen is destroying them. While they can’t take me off the cancer med, they did pull me off the nsaid they had me on for the pain in my bones. It’s a shame because the nsaid was working pretty well. At the moment, they won’t even let me take a simple aspirin or Tylenol. Still I knit and sketch new designs and dither over the designs I have completed.

I used to like to have a span of time between completing a design and writing it up in good pattern form. It gave me some distance on the design so that when I returned to it again it was with fresh eyes. But these latest designs are sitting and sitting. Every time I think of picking up my notes and writing them up in pattern form something crops up and I have to put it off. This weekend I am locking myself in my work room and getting at least one of the patterns typed up. I also need to take some pictures for the tutorial that will be included in the patter regarding ribbon work on the bonnet. The ribbon work is simple enough, but not many people today know how to hand-sew things neatly. Once hand-sewing skills were the norm, now they are not. I have a friend who tosses a shirt if it looses a button. She owns no needle and thread and wouldn’t know where to start to even try and attach it. How things have changed.

Yarn Rascal still has his eyes on the prized Shetland wool package that is hanging from the closet ceiling out of his reach. I may not be able to hold him at bay much longer. When he breaks into the yarn vault he now stands on his hind legs and howls at the package. Usually this is around the 2 am time of night. I almost broke the package open and gave him a cake of wool last night as he just wouldn’t settle down. But if I do that now, he will just want another one when I start working with it and I only bought one extra for him. I didn’t think it would take me this long to get the Shetland Shawl up and running.

All things in the yard are normal. The buck now has a little harem of does with him. Hank still visits the pond. I haven’t seen the coyote or the mountain lion, but if the deer and the Great Blue Heron are around it’s a pretty good sign that the coyote and the mountain lion aren’t in the area. Oh yes, and the skunks haven’t gone into hibernation yet. Don’t even ask how I know this.

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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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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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