Sunday, February 27, 2011


Focusing on the good things created during the week...

This week:  Lots of freshly organized space in the studio, and one happy cat!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On my needles: The facing facts edition

On my needles this week are one project I have grown to love and one about which I have grown ambivalent.  On the right is a Pointy Elf Hat, for me, in the Strawberry Smoothie colorway hand dyed by Woolbearers in Malabrigo Gruesa.  I used this yarn to make everyone in the family such a hat at Christmastime except D and me, so now I am making ours.  The thick-and-thin merino is soft and luxurious to work with and I can't wait to put it on my head.  (Aside:  K gave everyone an "Elf name" on Christmas Day:  Grandma was the Cooking Elf, Grandpa the Sleeping Elf, D was the Computer Elf, Aunt S the Reading Elf, and Uncle A the Stinky Elf!  I, of course, was the Knitting Elf.)

The Shalom Cardigan, on the other hand, is turning out to be a bit of a disappointment.  Despite the many glowing comments I read about Cascade Ecological Wool on Ravelry, I am not entranced with the yarn.  I can see that it will make a good, sturdy, comfortable sweater but I am not falling over myself to knit on it.  I can see clearly that I will never make my end-of-February deadline with this sweater, and I'm having the occasional fleeting thought of frogging the thing and starting over with a chunky alpaca I have stashed away.  For the moment, however, I will persevere.  

If you have not already popped over there, I invite you to take a look at Soulemama's post for today, titled "an EZ set."  She has some whimsical and wise words to say about -- and quotations from -- the inimitable Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitter extraordinaire. 

Monday, February 21, 2011


Focusing on the good things created during the week...
A pretty impressive tangle incurred when I tried to ply my newly spun "art yarn singles."  Hooray for time to spin!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On my needles -- the On-again-off-again Edition

I finally cast on for my Shalom in Ecological Wool on size 10 1/2's last Friday, then promptly lost track of it as I scrambled to finish K's quilt in time for Valentine's Day (which, as you can see by the lack of a corresponding post, I did not do.)  I felt kind of iffy about the extremely loose and stretchy fabric of the garter-stitch collar at the start.  Then I had some trouble with the twisted-rib portion of the yoke, which I knew I had been doing incorrectly in the original and which I wanted to set straight.  Between one thing and another, I decided to frog it.

I have started knitting again on a size 10 needle, and things are looking up.  Meanwhile, I have learned:
  1. I was doing the M1 increase all wrong!  You lift the little bar with the right needle and place it knitwise on the left, and then there is no hole after the increase!  Hooray!
  2. To do the twisted rib, you twist the knit stitches on the wrong side and the purl stitches on the right side.  Voila!
Even if I don't finish this sweater by the end of February (and I still very well might!), it will have been well worth making for the lessons it is teaching me.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Another week, another bout with bronchitis.

Focusing on the good things created during the week:

This week, courtesy Aunt H:  A whirling dervish!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

(Just like) starting over

I'm over my lost weekend with the green Lopi yarn and it's time to start rethinking the Shalom sweater.

Frogging was a disaster.  Apparently Lopi is pretty apt to give in and fall apart when you tug on it with any force, and it clings to itself fiercely, so reclaiming the wool I used was not an option.  I might have enough left to finish a 3/4-sleeved sweater with, but there's no way to be sure, and I really want this sweater to work.  Off to the LYS, where I purchased 2 enormous skeins of Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool, then home to wind the yarn into balls and crunch the numbers.

478 is a lot of yards to wind.  It took at least an hour before I was ready to start swatching.  The yarn called for #10 needles but the pattern called for #10 1/2, which is what I used.  

Before blocking, my swatch gave 4 stitches to the inch, and the same was true after blocking.  Using Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system from Knitting Without Tears and my favorite yoked sweater (not a cardigan, so I added 4 stitches for the button band), I calculated that I would need:
  • 88 stitches for the neck
  • 186 stitches for the chest
  • 60 stitches for the arm circumference at the underarm
  • 15 stitches at the bottom of the underarm (to be cast on after placing live arm stitches on waste yarn)
  • 45 stitches for the arm to be placed on waste yarn and picked up when working the arms.
That was the easy part.

The number crunching got ugly after that.  I had to ask for help from an expert (thank you, D) and consider several courses of action before deciding that I would work the pattern as follows:
  • Cast on 88 stitches
  • Follow rows 1-7
  • Complete row 8 as given; 142 stitches
  • Follow rows 9-19
  • Row 20: k5, m1, k2; (m1, k4) until 7 stitches remain; m1, k2, m1, k5; 170 stitches
  • follow rows 121-131
  • Row 32: k5; (m1, k4, m1, k3) until 11 stitches remain; (m1, k2) twice; m1; k5; 217 stitches
  • Follow rows 33-44
  • Row 45: k20, place 45 sts on waste yarn, k87, place 45 sts on waste yarn, k20; 127 stitches
  • Row 46: k5, p to first armhole, cast on 15 stitches, p to second armhole, cast on 20 stitches, p 15, k5
  • work in stockinette stitch with garter stitch border until desired length; knit 9 rows of garter stitch; bind off all stitches (note -- no waist shaping!)
I have not yet decided how I am going to work the arms -- I have seen several designs that I like and I want to try on the body before I make a final decision about that.  Also I want to get this yarn on my needles and get to work!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Well, I had a premonition but I didn't want to say anything.  The neck looked a little too small, the sleeves a little funny, the chest not quite chesty enough.  And (oh, shame) I had not swatched.  I got about three inches into the body and had started inserting some desperate little increases when I noticed three little links on the Ravelry Shalom Cardigan page:


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On my needles

My February Challenge Sweater is coming along nicely.  I have finished the yoke and bound off for the sleeves, and am ready to begin the body.  I also found some buttons in my button box that I think will work nicely.  From here on it should be smooth sailing.

Things I have learned so far:

  1. I love, love, love the look of garter stitch.  I'm looking forward to starting the Sonnet sweater from (well, ok, I already started it, but it's on hiatus till I finish a couple of other WIP's) which has rows and rows of garter stitch. 
  2. Do buttonholes neatly.  The first time.  I am not going to want to go back and fix sloppy ones later, and it may not be worth it.  I plan on keeping my sweater buttoned most of the time.
  3. Maybe I should not watch tv or listen to podcasts or music when I'm working on a pattern stitch, even a simple one as appears here.  I had to rip out the first tier of the yoke at least three times because of mass confusion in the second or third row, and it was only when I began working in complete silence that I got control of the thing.
  4. I can weave in ends invisibly and firmly.  It's not hard to do that, but I need to take my time to do it right, which I never want to do when I'm frantic to get a finished sweater on my body.  I heard someone on a Knit Picks podcast suggest that weaving in ends as you go might be a good idea, and I wholeheartedly agree.
  5. I am learning quite a bit about top-down construction and how miraculous and versatile this sort of design can be.  I rather think I'm going to prefer it from here on in.
All in all, not bad for a week's work.  What's on your needles?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Due to a bout with bronchitis, I'm afraid I haven't been particularly active this week, and so haven't been taking many photographs.  "created" will have to take its form in words today:

Focusing on the good things created during the week...
  • Progress on my tea leaves cardigan
  • One spinach quiche for Sunday dinner and one herbed quiche for the freezer
  • Cottage cheese dill bread and French Lentil Soup 
  • A good start on K's Science Fair project with help from D
  • A totally doable challenge to myself to knit a sweater in a (short!) month
  • A significantly greater challenge in accepting the role of craft table chairperson for the church Christmas bazaar -- but still doable
  • A precious memory of time spent with a good friend in need
If you are inclined to share, please leave a comment with some of your week's good creations.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February challenge: Shalom cardigan

On the first of the month I began working on the Shalom Cardigan in Lopi Wool, having finished all of the interesting parts of the Tea Leaves Cardigan for a while -- I have miles of boring stockinette stitch to finish there.  And, while I am still devoted to Tea Leaves, I got to thinking how I love working in bulky yarn, and what fun the Shalom pattern is to knit, and could I?  Maybe?  If I really pushed myself, could I get the Shalom sweater finished by the end of February?  I think maybe I could.

It's going to take some discipline, particularly since I want to follow Soulemama's lead and add sleeves to the finished garment (where would I be without her creative guidance?), but I think it's doable.  Look for updates here as I work hard to create an actual finished garment -- we process knitters have to do that occasionally -- and feel free to add your own comments and suggestions along the way.  Won't this be fun?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On my needles

Making plenty of progress on my Tea Leaves Cardigan!