Friday, January 28, 2011

It fits!

Yes, indeedy!  My pretty sweater does indeed fit me.  It's a bit snug, which is what I wanted to accomplish, hence that side shaping (which I did totally on the fly.  Winged it as I went along.).   My kids are always telling me that nobody wears boxy sweaters any more.  And they could be right.  The thing about boxy sweaters is that you can put 3 layers underneath them, and it doesn't matter.  This little sweater only tolerates one turtleneck, so I'm not going to be very warm in it, but one must suffer for beauty.

I took a basic lace pattern and played with it, and I really do like the result.  Then I broke that pattern down to a very simple element, and that became the bodice.  I'm sorry now I did that, since I love the bottom lace to bits.  But it's fine, and then I repeated the bodice pattern as a edge ruffle effect.  No lace on the sleeve proper; I was too lazy to put it in, and besides, I'm always cold, so no holes on the arms made sense to me.  OK, it was total laziness.  So?

No, the sleeve is not short, I just squashed the sleeve so that you could see the ruffle.

As usual, I worked the sleeve top down.  I hate sewing in sleeves, and learned very quickly from Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker how to do sleeves by picking up armhole stitches and working down.  I almost always pick up the stitches and knit them, and then work a couple of rows of garter stitch.  I love the way it sets off the armhole, and it just works.  Here's a pic.  you can see the garter stitch rows lying snug up against the bodice.  Usually I just do a t-shape armhole, but this time I did a little bit of shaping, which you can also see.

I did a garter stitch border on the neckline.  All together, it was a fun knit.  I winged about 90% of it.  I did the math for how many stitches and repeats, made sure that the armhole wouldn't bump into the lace pattern, totally fudged that side shaping, which looks very nice on me despite how weird it looks flat.  Picked up my armhole stitches, never wrote down exactly how many stitches I picked up for the first sleeve, so had to wing it with the second one, but I can't tell any difference so it came out OK.

I like a fake side seam; I do every thing in the round when possible; no sewing for me, ever, ever, ever!  My side "seam" is a purl stitch which I work every round.  I did my usual 3-needle bind-off for the shoulder.  I do this a bit different from most people:  first I knit the knit through the front and back stitches, and then turn the work and bind off.  I like the extra strength it gives the shoulder.  Here's a pic inside out, so you can see all this.  Oh, and as I went along, I worked in the yarn so that I had virtually nothing to finish off at the end.

Maybe I can get the Hubbo to take a decent picture of me wearing it.  Or maybe not.

pendie - I basically just did it off the top of my head once I had to correct number of sts to cast on. I've not done a sweater design for sale yet, so I'd really have to behave myself on redoing this and actually write down numbers. Maybe a KAL? What do you think?

Ibunnysavetroy - Thanks!  It looks very well with my white hair!

Wall-to-wall books - So go finish a sweater!  tee hee. 

KV - I have a lot of sweaters, only they are ancient.  Really really old.  I just haven't felt like knitting one for a long time, but this was such fun that I'm planning the next one.

DJNL - It's not very warm at all, even with a turtleneck underneath it, but it feels very nice on. 

CathyR  - Thank you.  I'm enjoying it. 

I finished the sweater!

In less than 3 weeks, I made myself a lacy sweater with fingering wt yarn.  Can you imagine?  I actually finished a sweater.  And not only that, now I want to make another one.  Good Grief!  Does this mean that the sweater mojo, missing for about 15 years, is back?  Yep, I've done a few sweaters in those 15 years, but they took me forever simply because I really didn't want to knit them.  But now my head is spinning with new ideas.

Now if only the grands would want sweaters!  I'd be happy to make Miss P matching sweaters for her and her dolls, but will she wear them?  Noooo.  I keep asking her, and she keeps saying nope.  Kids!

OK, here are the first pics, and as you can see, it's on its blocking towel with all the loose threads showing.  All I have to do is weave the threads in, and I can wear it.  It's so light weight that it took about 12 hours to dry, which is pretty good in my chilly house.  I did something sensible this time; I wove in threads as I went along.  Why, after all these years of knitting I didn't do this before baffles me.  So now all I have to do is work in the beginning and ending threads and it's done!

Ta da!

Off I go to finish it, and try it on. Oh, yeah, I have no idea how it will fit. Keep your fingers crossed it does, otherwise it gets donated to a thrift shop!

Scrabblequeen - When I really enjoy something, I can move on it very quickly. And I knit much faster on skinny yarn than DK or fatter. I have it on right now, and I like it, so it's not getting donated. tee hee.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I have too much to do.  Either it's feast or famine, and right now I'm in an overabundance of feasting.

1.  Mailed out the first clue of the Light & Dark Lace Club KAL.  My wonderful test knitter, DragonYady, thoroughly worked on the project and pointed out all my mistakes and miss-counts.  I think I fixed them all, but you never know.  So I'll be on Ravelry all day to see how people are doing.

2.  I'm in process of dyeing up a bunch of yarn for the crazed knitters on Sock Madness Forever on Ravelry.  That forum has the funniest, wittiest, nicest bunch of knitters on Ravelry.  No drama, just lively, witty conversations until the contest begins.  And then it's fun to watch those crazy fast knitters zoom away.  Me, I can't do it, not with my cranky wrist, so I hang out in the Treehouse and cheer with my pompoms and such.  I'm dyeing up 2 special colorways for the group, and that's what I'm doing in a little while.

3.  Working merrily away on the next design of the Lace Club.  I'm doing the test model on my own yarn, and frogging away if I don't like the results.  So it's knit, frog, repeat.  And then, when I think a section is fine, I'm working it in Roxanne's yarn.  Gorgeous stuff, Zen Yarn Garden.  I chose a very dark color, so this gets done only in daylight.

4. Knitting the sleeves to my sweater.  Nope, it's not "work" related; it's just for me, but I want to finish it 'cause I have some other ideas to play with.

5.  I need to visit the Mommie.  It's so cold outside, and I'm a weather wimp.  The trouble is that whenever I arrive, she's sound asleep.  I make noise, I kiss her.  Nope, she keeps snoozing.  Ah well, she's winding down, that's for sure.  So I don't visit as often as I should.  And then I feel guilty.  But she's always asleep.  She gets dragged out for meals, tends to doze off while drinking her coffee.  She's 96, and in pretty good health, but she really is very very old.  The staff tells me that this is not uncommon.  When she's awake, she's with it and still witty.  I'm glad to have her, but visiting her is a one-sided activity.  I want the old Mommie back, the one from 4 months ago when she slept a lot less.  Not going to happen.

6.  I have enough laundry to reach the top of the Empire State Building.

7.  Need to mail out the yarn packages.  I'll wait until tomorrow for the rest of the yarn to be dyed.

8.  And why am I blogging when there is a lot to do?

Miss P and the igloo she built together with her Minnesota grandparents.  It was about 7 feet high and they all fit into it.

And now I'm off to do something on my list.

DJNL - It is very hard, and yet I'm so fortunate to still have her.  But I do miss who she was only a couple of months ago.  Ah well, she's comfortable, her needs are tended to and she's still not in a nursing home.

Anonymous - I know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Where did it go?

My get-up-and-go has left and I can't find it. I've run out of steam, and the train just left the station. If I put the tea kettle on, will I get more steam? It surely looks like a loggy day for me.

I worked my little tail off the past 5 days, and now I want to loll around, eat bonbons, and generally be a lazy, good-for-nothing bum.   Of course it would be nice if I could find my tail, but since I worked it off, well, it will just have to grow back.  That takes time, so a couch day might be in order.

What was I doing?  I finished all the dyeing for the Light & Dark Lace Club, packaged everything up, mailed it out.  I know, it doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it all took a lot of time.  It's not a matter of printing off a bunch of labels; each person gets her own order with her own color, and that takes time.  Plus, I don't work in a great spot.  I really need a studio with a packing room.  Uh huh.  Right.  So with much aerobic activity Yep, getting up from my chair, grabbing the label, pasting it on, wrapping the yarn, etc etc is really a workout in a very weird way.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

But I did it all, and now I'm so virtuous I can hardly stand myself.  So since I can't stand myself, I shall have to plop myself on the couch.  Being virtuous is exhausting.

I have some nice new yarns that I dyed up before all the massive lace club dyeing.  I just never got around to listing them.  These are all done in a new technique that I've been enjoying.  Many of them have been dyed with one dye solution; others have another color added, but they are not painted the way I usually dye my yarns.  Some are almost solids, and others are almost almost solids.  This is the same technique that I used to dye up the lace club yarns, and I'd show you a pic of one knitted up, but it's a secret at the moment.  Here they are:  Bright Coral, Misty Green, Soft Brown, and Muted Red.  These are dyed with only one color.

And then we have  Orchidee and Lilacs, which use more than one color, but dyed in the same way as the first ones.

All are in Penny Yarn, and are available now in my Etsy shop:

And now, dear reader, I feel the need to do a bit of couch sitting.

Scrabblequeen - I'm happily knitting on the couch.  What a treat!  I could get used to retirement.

Wall-to-wall books   - The only good thing I can say about a cold is that all you can do is sit and knit and read and drink tons of tea.  Feel better.

Grace - I haven't had tea all day!  Had cafe au lait instead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bread, again.

 Mmmmm, tasty and delicious!


Lately my loaves have been so big that it's hard to cut them.  If I put the dough into a normal size bread pan, it just mushrooms out of the pan.  So, the genius Hubbo suggested that I make 2 small loaves instead of one enormous one.  Smart guy.  The last couple of weeks I've been doing exactly this and it's a great idea.

Now I freeze one and we eat the other.   I wrap up the loaf in aluminum foil, and then pop it into a zip lock bag and toss it into the freezer.  And when I want fresh bread, it's waiting for me.  At this point I have 3 frozen loaves and one from today.  Last Friday I made challah, and tossed in dried cranberries, pieces of dried apricot and golden raisins.  I braided 2 small loaves.  We scarfed down the first one, and now the second way is waiting for this Friday to be eaten.

Today I made 2 rye loaves.  About 3/4 cup of rye flour, and the rest bread flour.  I tossed in tons of caraway seeds since I love them, and then some ground-up flax seeds.   I've developed a thing about ground flax seeds; I now put them into everything from bread to soup to my yogurt lunch.  You can see the caraway seeds and the flax if you embiggen the picture.  We are talking one tasty loaf of bread here.

Aren't those slashes cute?  I used to use a lame, but it got dull, so I use a little wavy edge paring knife from Victorinox (the people who make Swiss Army Knives).

Wall-to-wall books - We ate up the first loaf by breakfast this morning.

Scrabblequeen - It's been cold and snowy here, and just perfect bread-baking weather.

Henya - So what did you bake?

merrilymarylee - I buy them whole at Whole Foods, and then grind them up in my little coffee grinder that I use just for seeds and spices.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Yarnarian Chats.

I haven't been blogging much the last few weeks, but I have been busy.  Lots of dyeing for the Light & Dark Lace Club, pattern revision and such, working out some ideas for Roxanne's shipment way off in April, etc, etc.

I decided that I needed to somehow get my sweater mojo back, so I started playing with ideas by making outfits for the American Girl Doll.  These are not the nicest knits, far from it, but they have become a great place to noodle around with ideas.   So here's a mini-dress/tunic/skating dress that I did the other day.  When you look at it, you'll see immediately a major design flaw.  I wanted to decrease the skirt between lace patterns, so I did a bit of k1,p1 ribbing and then decreased within it.  Bad move.  I should have done either reverse stockinette or garter and decreased within it.  So now I know.  And the dopey thing is that I knew it was wrong as I was doing it, but I just wanted to keep going and see what happens and after blocking whether it would improve.  Nope.  Ah well, Miss P won't care, and I do love the shaping of the little tunic.  I particularly like the garter border on the skirt and the waviness of the edge.  Cute.  I also like the square neck.  It goes over the doll's head very easily.  I used Knit Picks Palette which knits and blocks so nicely, and it softens up considerable after washing.  I will do another one, only top down, and longer.

The tunic is totally without seams.  The shoulders use a 3 needle bind-off and the sleeves are picked up and knit downwards.  I used garter stitch to set off various design components.  I do this a lot because I really like it.  I used on ball, and have plenty left over.  How can you go wrong with a tunic that costs $1.99?

So now I've started a sweater for me.  Gasp!  Shock!  Amazement!  This is also out of Palette.  It will not be very warm because it's loosely knitted and Palette is a 2-ply fingering wt. yarn, but it's so easy on my hands and it just zooms along.  I can actually knit this much faster than a heavier wt yarn.  Lots of lace and I may change the lace pattern as i go up the sweater.  I'm going to do a square neckline and pick up the sleeves and work downward as usual.  Because the body of the sweater goes up, and the sleeves go down, I may use a different sleeve pattern.  I'm very used to this, and I like it.  By the time I get to the sleeves, I'll be so bored with the pattern that I will be happy to do something else.  Or maybe whatever I do further up the sweater body, I'll also do on the sleeves.  If it doesn't look dopey. 

A bit of note on the yarn:  This is how yarn used to feel before merino got into our hands:  woolly and not as soft as merino.  I love this kind of yarn; it's what I've knit with all my life.  It washes well, wears like iron, doesn't itch me, although I do wear a turtleneck or a blouse underneath sweaters.  Not to say anything at all against merino.  I love merino, but it's nice to work on something else for a change.  This yarn is not Shetland, which is probably my all-time favorite yarn, but it's very pleasant, unbelievably cheap, and good quality and yardage.  Now I want to dig through my stock of Shetland and see if I have enough of any one color for a sweater.  Wool!  The best fiber out there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm thinking.

Always a dangerous pursuit.  All those thoughts going through my head.  So here is my latest mind moment.

I want to change how I present yarns on Etsy.  My model up until August of 2010 was to show one-of-a-kind colorways.  It worked beautifully for almost 3 years.  And then bam!  It all slowed down to a crawl.  And to tell the truth, I am kind of tired of dyeing this way.  Don't get me wrong; it's a lot of fun, but I like a new challenge now and then, and also, I'm now seriously into almost solids.  So what to do?  That is where all my new thoughts are going.

I'm thinking of doing seasonal colorways.  Maybe a new colorway series every 2-3 months.  So I would present 5 new colorways and people could order more than one skein for larger projects.  What do you think?

Initially I did OOAK colorways because I was constantly knitting socks.  But I'm over my sock craze, and am now into shawls and scarves and possibly sweaters (!), and I need more skeins for larger shawls and sweaters.  So if people want to knit bigger shawls, they would need more yardage.  Hence buying more skeins.  Yes?  Does this make sense?

I'm not in competition with any of my fellow dyers here; I'm a low-volume gal, and like a small business, but this would suit me just fine.  I realized the other day now much I like dyeing up multiples of the same colorways.  I've been doing that for a few lace KALs and now especially for the Light & Dark Lace Club, and it's fun for me to do. 

Do you think this is a viable idea?  Got any better ideas?

Speaking of the Light & Dark Lace Club, it's a roaring success!  I'm so happy about it.  The biggies in the indie dyer field are probably howling with laughter, but I have gone way beyond what I expected in responses.  Such a delight!  If you are interested in joining, registration is going to close on Fri.  I have so many orders, that I need a chunk of time to get all the dyeing done.  All the details are right here, and you can buy through my Etsy shop.

Sharon - I like your idea.  The more I think about this, the better it gets.  I think I'll gradually list a large number of regular colorways, and of course, I do need to toss in the weird and wacky and fun.  After all, a girl's gotta play, no?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Malka is now available for purchase.  Thanks to a group of wonderful test knitters from the Sock Madness Forever forum on Ravelry, she's ready to go.  I knit the shawl in my Heather yarn, which is a 3-ply skinny fingering yarn, approx 400 yards.  You can easily do this in any sock yarn.  The shawl is knitted top-down with a center pattern and 2 wings.  The wings mirror each other, and the outside is increased on every row, giving it that nice shape and drape.  This is an intermediate pattern.

And now I'm off to do a gazillion things.

Wall-to-wall books - OK a gazillion and one things to do.

merrilymarylee - Thanks.  I just had a major giggle at your squirrels. We're blessed with a rotten groundhog.


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