Friday, December 30, 2011


(1) a remedy to counteract the effects of poison 
(2) something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts.

I have found the perfect antidote for frustrating lace knitting. Turns out, it is cotton washcloths. 

You can churn a finished product out in less than two hours, they are so quick and easy. 

You can choose a different stitch pattern for each one. 

You can reassure yourself that you really do know how to knit and purl, and follow a pattern. 

(Except for when you can't and then their size makes it dead obvious. I had no time to rip this one back and correct it because it was my last gift to finish, literally done one hour before it was gifted.) 

Best of all, you can recover from a stressful couple of weeks finishing Christmas knits in a way that doesn't produce a headache, restore your faith in your own knitting ability and eventually contemplate casting on a slightly more difficult project. 

Yes, this one is a scarf with little points, though these are worked at the same time that the scarf is knit. Little points, I will master you yet. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

a most frustrating knit

(Before I begin, let me emphasize: the following discussion has nothing to do with the pattern in question, or the yarn in question. It is solely limited to my own boneheadedness and lack of lace knitting experience. The products in question are without fault.)

At the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival this year, my mother and I had a lovely time strolling around the vendors and admiring their wares together. I may have bought too much sock yarn at the same point, but that is a post for a different day. Brooke, at Twisted Fiber, had a beautiful red shawlette hanging up, made of red alpaca lace, which my mother admired. It so happened that I had that precise yarn in my stash (purchased the previous year, and of course not used yet) and I decided to make the same shawlette for her for Christmas.

I cast on in very good time, around the end of September. My progress was quick and encouraging, as progress on things that start with instructions such as "cast on three stitches" tend to be. You get through those first thirty rows so rapidly, it seems as if the project will be done in an instant!

The pattern is elegantly simple, and right there is where I ran into problems. It seems that after I had 100 or so stitches on the needles, I lost all abilities to (1) follow a simple pattern; and (2) count to any number greater than 100. It got to the point that I began to question whether I really knew how to knit and purl. I finally wrote out every line count of the pattern, all the way to the 99th (and final) row, and obsessively counted each row as I knit. It didn't solve all the problems but it did cut down on them significantly.

At long last, round about December 17th, I got to that fabled 99th row, and my count was correct. I did a little happy jig of Christmas completion (with a week to spare, even!) and turned the page...

And saw that 75 little points had to be knit onto the border.

Lacking lace knitting experience, I neglected to put in a lifeline (i.e., extra thread that will hold your place so you can rip back if necessary without dropping all the stitches) and just plunged in, determined to be done by the end of the weekend. With Bramwell playing away on Netflix, I doggedly worked my way through those darn points. I tried not to cry when I finished, and found that I had 37 points on one side (correct number) and 38 points on the other (incorrect, and errors easily spotted). I thought about ripping out, but due to the lack of lifeline and lack of time, realized it was a fool's undertaking.

I was stuck with what I had. I contemplated my spit of red dog barf, which is what all lace projects resemble prior to blocking, breathed deeply, and finally went ahead with the washing and blocking.

Stretching it out to block it was when I discovered not one, but two, dropped stitches, as they merrily unraveled their way up the shawl. Of course. And of course the errors were that much easier to spot, once I had it all pinned out.

Once again, what choice did I have? It was December 23 at this point. Dropped stitches were repaired. Shawl was wrapped and placed under the tree, once it dried.

And after all that... thank goodness... it still looks perfectly lovely on my lovely mom. But Mom -- whatever you do -- resist the urge to count those blasted points.

Friday, December 23, 2011

falling off the needles

Irreconcilable differences between my computer and me did not permit a post yesterday... but it did give me more time to get a few more projects done! I have spent so many days working on a bunch of projects, a little bit at a time, that it is nice that they are hitting the "finished" stage, one after another.

First up is an easy-peasy pattern that I made up, "Patch Pocket Scarf." Just little stockinette stitch pockets, sewn up after the fact, with a garter stitch scarf, for my little nephew, which is why it's a bit small on my model.

This one is for a huge Diego fan, can you tell? Unfortunately I couldn't find Diego patches, or even Diego fabric to make patches out of, so I made my own using clip art and the fabric that you put in your printer.

I am a little worried about the effect of rain on the patches, because I used an inkjet printer, but at least I have something to put under the tree. His brother is getting a black scarf with Batman (or as he calls him, "Bacmac") patches. I have about two feet to go. Argh. (I should note that I would never have proposed a scarf as a gift, because holy crow, those things go on and on and on. The scarves were a specific request, however, though the personalized touches were my own.)

Also finished today: another pair of socks for Secondo.

Part of his Grand Champion prize for his felted fruit basket last year was a gift certificate for a very high end yarn vendor. Lo and behold, their sock line shares his first name. It was meant to be. I picked up the yarn at Rhinebeck this year.

And yet another project: a Lego hat for my Lego fan.

You have to squint a bit to get the idea but it is supposed to be Lego bricks with little Lego man faces. I discovered that it is very difficult to make Lego bricks using knit stitches, because they tend to look like castles or little crowns instead. Not sure if this one will get any wear but if not, it can keep the dead fish hat company in the "never to be worn" pile.

I probably won't fit it another post before Sunday, so let me take this chance to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. See you on the back side!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

fast and furious

The title refers to the state of my knitting this week, though thankfully progress is being made! Most gifts are off the needles, a few even have the ends woven in, but the majority still need me to take time off knitting to wrap them.

I did manage to finish one, from start to finish. I was a bit stuck on a gift for my lovely sister-in-law. I had originally planned felted French Press Slippers, but I don't know what I was thinking. Me and felted objects so close to the holidays are a disaster waiting to happen, as evidenced by the four felted tote bags, in various stages of completion, that have yet to be gifted five years after that particular Christmas debacle.

Last night I was helping Primo shop for his girlfriend, and I came across this beautiful soap:

Yes, that is soap, and it smells as wonderful as it looks. Turquoise is her favorite color, so that was a no-brainer. Now, what to put with it? Another no-brainer: hand-knit washcloths, of course. I had the perfect cotton yarn in my stash. Two different patterns, a few hours, a little ribbon, et voila:

Another project to be revealed tomorrow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

red kettle day

Since the holiday crafting continues more or less nonstop around here, in the faint hope of having it all done in six short days, I find myself planning my day around knittable occasions. My thought process during the morning dog walk/run is all about how I can work on current projects throughout the day to make the most progress.

Complicated knitting? Early morning when the house is quiet.

Sock knitting? Must be done when the intended recipient is nowhere in sight.

Straight garter scarf? Keep that sucker in my bag and knit it everywhere I go: music concerts, in line at the bank drive thru, waiting for kid pick-up, any occasion works.

Yesterday was no exception, part of which was spent watching the 4-H kids take shifts ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. This was the second year in a row for them and I think they enjoy it but at the end of the shifts their feet are so cold that it can be hard to tell.

This was definitely garter stitch conditions, to the extent I could get my fingers to move, but we did get to see Santa drive by in his spiffy red convertible, which definitely added to the holiday cheer!

OK, enough chitchat. Back to knitting. Hopefully I'll have some progress to report in the next day or two.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the slouching trombonist

We attended the middle school band/chorus holiday concert tonight, and I was interested -- but not entirely surprised -- to discover that my middle child has the worst posture in the entire 7th grade band.

Note the stylish white socks and black shoes combo, too.

I have no idea how he has any sort of lung capacity slouched over like that, let alone how he keeps the trombone slide from hitting the floor.

As an aside, I found this joke when I was checking the correct term for a trombone player:

Q: What do you call a guy who knows how to play the trombone, but doesn't?

A: A gentleman.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It finally feels like the season around here, with hard frosts over the past several days. Just in the nick of time too, because of course I am busy knitting my fingers to the bone for the holidays. It just doesn't seem like Christmas to me unless the ground is hard... clearly I will never be able to live in Florida or Australia.

The knitting has picked up as the cold weather has set in. The current count is:

Two projects (that cannot be named) done.

Four projects (most of which cannot be named) on the needles.

Two projects still to be cast on.

Typing it all out like that... it looks a little grim, seeing as how there are only 12 more days until Christmas. That would mean finishing one project every other day.

Hmmm.  All the cold weather in the world may not be enough to save me from my own particular brand of insanity.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


While I was in Rhinebeck, my friend Mel admired the gloves I was wearing.

The yarn, Lana Grosso Chiara, had been a birthday gift from my brother and sister-in-law, along with a suggested pattern. I decided to honor their choice and work it exactly as intended when gifted. The yarn is not something I would have normally picked out myself, and that made it all the more wonderful. I loved working with, loved its slight sheen and halo, and adore the finished result. I even made a cowl to go along with it:

(Pardon the blocking picture, but it is the best way to see the lovely pattern:
Eleanor from Knitty Deep Fall 2010.)

Mel like them so much that I decided to make her a matching pair to thank her for bringing her sheep along for the breed display, two years in a row now. I chose orange because her son goes to Virginia Tech, and she wears a lot of orange and maroon to commemorate that!

Just after I finished the mitts, I heard some very sad news from Mel about her farm. Long story short, she probably won't have sheep to bring next year, which has understandably made her quite sad.

Now the color seems the perfect shade of bittersweet.