Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Dear fellow cult members (and if you are reading this, chances are that you are at least a closet member of the knitter's cult), the high priestesses of this branch of the knitter's cult (The Purly Gate) will be having a somewhat impromptu weekend conference to discuss the tenets of the cult (read yarn shopping, yarn fondling, and of course KNITTING!!!). As a result, for this upcoming weekend our bi-coastal cult will be on only one coast.

On which coast will we meet you may ask? Well, you may be able to make an educated guess. One of us lives in an area where 50 degrees is warm for this time of year and the other lives in an area where 50 degrees is cold. I have done the math, and I don't like cold, so Boston is out for our weekend conference (besides I am the one complaining about ruts). On Friday at the awful hour of 5:50 a.m. I will be boarding a plane that will take me to sunny southern California, I will stay there until Monday morning. Thanks so much to K and her husband for allowing me to crash with them as I try to get over my doldrums. To our San Diego readers, I would like to meet you all, I know that K just had a home stitch 'n bitch, but would you all be up for something this weekend? K and I will be talking more about what "something" will be.

On to my knitting progress...Well, I have finished up the right front for my jacket and have started the sleeves. I have blocked the back and both front sides. I would like to have all the knitting, with the exception of the hood done before I get on the plane on Friday. I know that merino wool isn't necessary for San Diego, but I would like something new, and hopefully pretty, to show off.

Lissy, who is basically the founder of the N.End Wed knitting group gave me some lovely yarn last week. She originally bought it to make Birch, but wasn't like the way it knit up, the color though is perfect for a Birch shawl in my opinion. Now I have the fun of figuring out what I will use the yarn for.

Finally, on Saturday I went over to Circles to place an order for the yarn to make that Fall, 2005 VK cover shrug, you know, the one by Annie Modesett. I did order my yarn, Circles is doing a KAL for it and I wanted to get in on the action. I also bought some sock yarn (because you can never have too much sock yarn, right?). The colorway is kind of ugly, but in a pretty way. I saw it and it spoke to me. It is Shelridge Farms sock yarn, 100% wool, and I think that I am going to try designing my own socks. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Thank You Secret Pal 7!!

On Friday, after a pretty crummy day that I recounted in my previous post, I received this box of goodies from my wonderful, super duper awesome SP7:

She sent me some yummy chocolates from Harry & David (I've already eaten the bag of blueberries), a homemade CD, the pattern for the Girlfriend Swing Jacket from Knit and Tonic and two notepads. I just love everything! Thank you! You're the best!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Breakin' Up with the UPS Guy

It sounds like a country song, I know, but after several years of working at a failing relationship, I'm afraid we're going to have to pull the plug on my relationship with the UPS Guy. Here is my sad story of woe...

When I got married, I did what many engaged women do - I registered at Crate and Barrel. For the next several months, I had a torrid affair with my UPS guy. To be sure, it was full of heartbreak and longing. But it started out good, it truly did. A couple of times a week, a reasonably handsome man in tight shorts would come to my door bearing gifts of china, crystal and other lovely items from Crate and Barrel. It was like a dream come true. He never seemed to want anything in return except my signature. Sometimes, he didn't even want that. After a while, I figured out that I could check my registry to see what items had been purchased. This, I believe, was the beginning of the end of our relationship. At this point, I began to have expectations. You ladies out there know how well men to respond to these nasty things. Each day, I began to expect him. But did he come? No. Each and every day, I'd wait at home all day, waiting for him to buzz. Days would go by and I'd get nothing from him, not even a set of salt and pepper shakers. I became concerned. What had I done? Concern turned to anger and then to rage. Finally, he would come, but it wasn't the same anymore. Something was permanently altered.

Today was the final straw. I got home from school and I saw that familar yellow and brown note on our gate that could only mean he had let me down one more time. He knows he can leave packages with my upstairs neighbor if no one is home, but he decided to toy with me today. He decided he needed a signature. Ha! Doesn't he know me by now? In that infuriating way that he has, he offered to redeliver on Monday, AGAIN when I'm in class. That simply wouldn't do. So, I bit the bullet and offered to pick it up from him. I was told I'd have to go to Chula Vista - 30 minutes from my home, but I knew I couldn't wait for him. Haven't I suffered enough?! To make matters worse, I could only pick the package up between 8 and 8:30 p.m....on a Friday night, no less. What, he thinks I have no life?!

Of course, like a lovesick puppy, I went. I arrived 20 minutes early and was told that I couldn't even get in line until exactly 8 o'clock. Finally, the time came and I drove up the long, winding driveway that seemed to go nowhere. After a while, all of the cars in front of me came to a stop. For 10 minutes, we sat there, not moving. I got out of my car to see what was the matter, and I saw it...first the completely filled parking lot and then...the LINE. Holy Crap! There had to be 50 people waiting for packages. Outside. In 40 degree weather. So, I backtracked, parked down the hill, walked back up, and got in line. I waited and waited and waited. First, we passed 8:15, then 8:30, then 8:45, then 9:00. Let me tell you that I hadn't eaten dinner yet because I thought I could grab some Indian food on my way home. At this point, most restaurants, except maybe Wendy's, would be closed. My fingers were turning blue and I had lost feeling in my nose. Every 3 or 4 minutes, someone would get a package and we'd inch forward in the line. Everybody around me had stories about how UPS had screwed up their delivery, requested a signature when they weren't supposed to, did doorbell ditching without even waiting for the person to answer. At this point, the steam that was coming out of my ears couldn't keep me warm. I was on the verge of tears, starving to death and nearly frozen. After all, I hadn't dressed expecting to wait outside in the middle of winter, at night, for over an hour. Finally, at 9:15, I got to the front of the line, gave the woman behind the counter my address and waited some more. They finally brought out my package, and it was a letter. Addressed to someone else. I had already started walking to my car before I realized they had given me someone else's package. Oh, for cryin' out loud! What the f&^k is wrong with these people? After another couple of minutes, I got my package, and it turned out to be from my Secret Pal 7! So, even though I had a horrible night, at least I had knitting stuff to look forward to. Regardless, I think the UPS guy and I are through.

Pictures tomorrow!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Knitzalot - Designer?

I'm really embarassed to say that I have nothing photo-worthy to show you. I guess my time available for knitting hasn't been much lately. I'm up to 10 inches on my hood, which is good (I need 13). I cast on for the front of Savannah's hoodie, which is also good. I also started the heel flap of my Embossed Leaves socks. However, none of it is particularly interesting to look at, nor does it look like I've made much progress since the last time you saw these items. So...

Moving on...

I've been giving more and more thought to the idea of designing my own sweater. I've thought about it before, and always decided against it because I never quite got the creative juices flowing, and as soon as I began, I always started to see what an enormous amount of work it would be to create multiple sizes and have a pattern test-knitted so it could be published. Not to mention the difficulty of coming up with something that is original enough to actually put out there. Well, I've been perusing stitch pattern books and I've been inspired. I don't think I will actually try to submit my first design anywhere, so I feel that it's OK to begin talking about it. My main thought about the sweater is that it should be elegant and classy, while being feminine, pretty and delicate at the same time. I have some GGH Soft Kid in black that I bought at an LYS sale over the summer. As of yet, I haven't found an appropriate use for it. I'm picturing something that's rather fitted, maybe with 1 or 2 inches of ease, raglan sleeves with some delicate detailing around the seam and bell shaping at the wrist, waist shaping, and some lace/ruffle/crocheted edging details that make it a unique piece. I'm still shopping around for the particulars, but I'm quite excited about it. I'll keep you updated as I go along.

Finally, I have definitely decided to have a Stitch 'n' Bitch-type get together at my house here in San Diego this Saturday evening. I've already invited people who's email/blog addresses I have (and haven't managed to lose) but to those others of you out there who I haven't reached, (yes, Cora and Allison, that means you, and any of our other readers in San Diego), if you read this post, consider this an official invitation. If you're able to make it, I think it will be a really good time. There will be wine (of course), finger food, and plenty of knitting and good conversation. If you're allergic to cats, then uh oh, because I have three of them. If you think you can make it, email me at thepurlygate@gmail.com to let me know and I'll give you directions to my house!

By the way, there's a small chance that J will actually be making a San Diego appearance in February! She wanted to make it to our little gathering this weekend, but circumstances and money being what they are, it hasn't worked out. BUT, maybe, maybe, in early February. If she comes, we're definitely going to have our own little knitting party, either at the Grove or at my house. Let's keep our fingers crossed! Toodles!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

KNITTING GENERALS WARNING: The knitting content of this post is low. The following paragraph(s) constitute an off topic whine. In an attempt to alleviate the low knit quantity knitting photos have been randomly place. For actual knitting content please skip to the end of this post. Thank you.

Last night as I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep while my mind went over some firm management thoughts I realized that at some point I have lost part of who I am, and the part that seemed to be missing was a part only relatively recently discovered (like past 10 years). Let me back track. I grew up in PA, near Philly, and moved to Boston to go to law school. While in law school I started to branch out and to spread beyond my PA self that had been basically living up to expectations but not considering my own wants, needs, etc. My PA self was someone who decided in Jr. high that I wanted to be a lawyer, and told everyone that that was what I wanted to be and blindly set of to become that. In Boston I started to realize that that had been a path that ignored all other possibilities. In Boston I became a person who got her belly button pierced, who took midnight trips up to Freeport, ME to go to LL Bean (K's doing really), who blew off studying for a test to see Mars Attacks, who planned a trip to London on like a months notice (again K's doing), and who got a tattoo. By West coast standards nothing exceptional there, but by east coast, particularly New England standards, someone who was a bit quirky. Around this point in time I also took up photograph, and LOVED it. Loved the magic of the darkroom especially. Now that seems to be gone from my life. My 4x5 camera has gone dusty and my film and chemicals have gotten old. The spontaneity is also gone from my life. I have fallen into a rut and don't' know what to do about it. I am bored. There is nothing that makes me any different now from the staid New Englanders who have lived here their whole life. I MUST do something about this, but the question is what to do?

KNITTING CONTENT: Enough whine, now to explain the photos as you can see from the first picture, I have finished the left front of my jacket! From the next picture you can see that I started the right front. The yarn pictured is my knitpicks merino style for the Knitting Olympics. Those photos don't really do it justice, the darker color is pretty, but I don't know if you can fully see the lighter color in it's true splendor. It is a color that you almost have to pull the sunglasses out to look at. Here are the two colors together. You get a better sense, perhaps, of the brightness of the lighter color. I think that I now know where the color magicians from Lion Brand cotton-ease when after Lion Brand decided to discontinue the yarn. They went over to knitpicks to spread their fabulous color magic (read sarcasm into this sentence).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Time Crunch

I am now panicking about the Knitting Olympics. I'm back in school, back in the real world, and I'm remembering how, when I'm in school, I have NO time to knit. How on earth am I supposed to finish a sweater in 16 days?! I couldn't tell you what I do all day, except that I know it involves going to class, reading boring derivations, working homework problems, riding the bus, doing laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving my mother all over creation, (isn't that a daughter's duty?) etc. Finally, at around 8 at night, I pick up my needles for a bit. AND I've had a break from work this week. Next week will be worse! OK, I'm going to calm down now. Now for solutions. I have to believe that it's just a matter of time managment. I mean, there are people out there who work for a living AND knit. Look at Wendyknits for Pete's sake. So, here's my plan. I've decided to claim my mornings before class for knitting and definitely my one hour break between classes. Also, if I'm disciplined about getting my schoolwork done during the week (yeah, right), then I'll have a good chunk of the weekend, too. Hmm, maybe the plan should involve a little attitude adjustment, too.

I'm so tired right now. I did laundry today, 5 huge bags that cost $25! It took me three hours and the woman who worked there chuckled when she saw my my mountain of clothes to be folded. I was so beat when I got home that all I wanted to do was drink a glass of wine. Bear in mind that this was AFTER school, BEFORE homework, BEFORE making dinner, and more importantly, BEFORE knitting. Wait, wasn't I going to calm down? OK, enough whining. Now onto knitting progress.

Under the Hoodie isn't photo-worthy. Just take my word for it that hood is 6 inches long. I meant to do more tonight but I didn't want to use precious knitting time for something so tedious. So, I continued work on my Embossed Leaves socks, which I'm loving by the way. They're beautiful AND quick to knit. Can't go wrong with that, can you? This is my first experience with making a sock out of yarn not intended for socks, i.e. sans nylon (ooh, the bilingual thing again!). I'd have to say that I'm not loving that part of it. There's a definite dearth of elasticity. My sock is already out of shape just from trying it on. But that's the only real downside. Otherwise, they're fablicious! Yes, those are my Addi Turbo dpn's. I know I said I hated them, but we kissed and made up. They work just perfectly with this yarn.

Anybody else out there dying to make Grumperina's hat pattern? I can't wait until she puts it out there for public consumption.

My plan is to get the hood done on Under the Hoodie by the weekend, seam 'er up and have a new sweater! Yay! There's nothing like it. I also thought it might be fun to invite my friends who I've recently taught to knit over for a little in-home Stitch n Bitch. Btw, Jeanette tells me that some non-knitting-related corporation owns the rights to the phrase Stitch n Bitch so all of the groups all over the nation have to change their names. What a crock! What a great use of attorneys, huh? Well, I'm having a Stitch n Bitch this weekend, so there! Any San Diego people up for it? Shoot, Boston people can fly out here too if they want to. Toodles!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flaws are Good, Right?

I have heard that a number of religious philosophies believe that only god (in whatever form therefore lower case g here) is perfect, so they purposely build mistakes into every project they make. I whole heartedly embrace this philosophy, however, I don't make my mistakes on purpose, they just seem to happen. For instance, I started a pair of Falling Leaves Socks from Knitty. They are a toe up sock, my first experience with them. So far it has not been smooth sailing. I somehow screwed up my crochet cast on so that when I removed the waste yarn instead of having nice, defined, live stitches, I had a relaxed cast on edge. Frog time! I started again with a more traditional provisional cast on, which worked pretty well. It was fun to see the toe pocket emerge as I was knitting flat. Then I started the lace pattern. I did about 3 repeats when I finally noticed something, a line in the instructions which told you to knit a row between each line of the chart. Shit! To frog or not to frog? As you can see, I chose not to frog. This is this sock's tribute to the fact that only the gods or god is perfect. See how close together the repeats are at the top? well that is the look without the knit row, also the repeats separate a lot more, as you can see, without the knit row.

I am still plugging away at Fichu. The question of how big to make it has been more and more on my mind. Since I have stepped down my needle size I decided to add repeats to make it bigger. The question is how many repeats to add. I have 2 choices, 1 just keep going until I run out of yarn, and 2 use math to figure it out. Method 1 is not terribly attractive because I am still on my first skein of yarn and I have 2 more skeins, and I don't think I want to keep working on this that long. I tried method 2 and am not sure of the results. I blocked part of the shawl and calculated that each repeat increases the width by about 6 inches and the depth/height by about 5 inches. I would like the shawl to span about the length of my arms, over 60" but I think it might make the thing too long. For now, though I am in no danger of nearing the end, I think I need about 11 repeats to get it over 60" and I have only about 4 1/2 done. Yikes! don't like that thought.

Yesterday it snowed. This is relevant today because while waiting for my late bus to go home, I decided that I didn't like my newest hat. It doesn't fit right, and it could be warmer. So, I made another hat when I got home. I used a pattern from "The Next Big Thing" by Rowan and 2 plies of my left over Baby Grande Alpaca. I started running out of one of my plies, so it is 2 rows shorter than it should be. I also added some double knit ear flaps at the end. Still goofy looking, but definitely warmer, and no chin strap necessary to keep it on my head and down around my ears. Here is goofy hat on a goofy head. :)

I guess that is about all for now. Have a good day!

Monday, January 23, 2006


No, I'm not planning on titling every post from here on out with profanity. However, I do think my stupidity this evening deserves a label like "Dumbass". All weekend, I have been looking forward to going to the Grove to experience the Greek Goddess Knitting Circle led by Allison of Circles. I remembered that it started around 5 or 6 p.m. on Sunday, so around 4:45, I decided to double-check the time, and I discovered that it had started at 2! Ugh, by that time, I had almost missed the entire thing! So, I decided to stay home, feel sorry for myself, and continue knitting.

What was I knitting, you ask? Well, I've been working full-throttle on Under the Hoodie, and I've made good progress. Since last Sunday, I've knitted the front and both the sleeves. Tonight, I started the hood and quickly realized that it's going to involve knitting 13 inches of fabric 96 stitches wide. So, I did roughly 2 1/2 inches and switched to another project. It's going to be torture getting it done, but it's pretty much all I have left, so hopefully, that will be motivation. I pinned it all together and tried it on, and I really like the way it fits, so I'm totally excited to wear it!

I was also thrilled to see the latest Interweave preview for the Spring issue. The link can be found here. There were several projects that I thought looked really good - much better than the very blah Winter issue. Here are photos of some of my favorites:

Here is a pretty lace scarf with a trellis pattern made out of Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud. I just happen to have some of that on hand.

This is a really cute intarsia felted tote bag.

Here's what's looks like a really great Fair Isle Sweater designed by Debbie Bliss and made out of Alpaca Silk DK. Yum!

Finally, a cute hoodie with a drop-stitch pattern.

As soon as Under the Hoodie is done, I'm going to get back to work on some other sweaters I had going, i.e. the pink hoodie I'm making for Savannah and the VK sweater I'm making out of Big Wool. That didn't stop me from casting on for the Embossed Leaf socks tonight. C'est la vie! I bet you didn't know I was bilingual - oh la la!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Unfortunately, I've had no celebrity sightings on this coast, nothing near K's exciting events has happened here.

I did learn last night that 3 skeins of Aurora 8 is not enough to finish the left front of my hooded jacket. The back took about 5 skeins, so I thought 3 would be enough, but I guess the fact it is double breasted made that not happen. I started my neck shaping and my arm hole shaping then BAM! the yarn was gone, I have no more. The rest of my yarn is sitting in Circles waiting to be bought. I stilll have a lot of the front to do, the red lines are approximately the outline of what is left, I overlaid the front on the back so that I could see how very much is left. While working on this jacket I did something I don't usually do. I read parts of the pattern early! I am one of those knitters who believes a pattern is like a good book, you ruin the surprise by reading ahead. Unfortunately this philosophy has cost me in the past when out of the blue there is that dreaded phrase "At the same time" but after being caught off guard twice or so I have gotten to the point where I know when I have to look beyond the next sentence. This time I went beyond that. The jacket has a hood. I have never made a hood before so I was curious about it's composition, so I read the hood instructions. They have you make the hood as a separate piece and sew it on. Additionally, they have you pick up stitches around the neck only to immediately bind them off, I assume this is to make attaching the hood easier. There must be a way to just pick up the stitches and make the hood. I detest seeming, and will do anything to reduce my seaming. I have already decided to do the shoulders as a 3 needle bind off rather than seem them. Since I haven't made a hood before I am doing a "draft" hood today to see if I can figure out why it is seamed together instead of what seems to be a better method of just knitting it to the jacket. It could be as simple as this being a VK pattern and therefore not very technically sophisticated. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile I am still making some occasional progress on Fichu. It is hard to say how far along I am because I will do more repeats than the pattern calls for, possibly as many as I can get from the 3 skeins of Misti alpaca that I have.

It looks like it could be a lovely day today. I think I may stroll over to the MFA (art museum) and wander a bit. Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Holy Crap!

In the famous words of Frank Barone...

Tonight was the Knit Salon at the Grove, and instead of having our usual knitting group, most of us took a class from Annie Modesitt on Combination Knitting. Prior to taking this class, I had no idea what Combination Knitting was. I thought it was a combination of Continental and English knitting, maybe doing knits one way and purls the other or something. But it was simply a way to knit quicker and with less strain on your wrists. The Holy Crap part comes when she demonstrated the process to us. She's like a knitting machine! She is so fast that the yarn is a blur and you can't even see what she's doing. She does a combination of picking, throwing, Eastern, Western and whatever the hell else knitting. It's the most bass-ackwards, random way of knitting that I've ever seen, but damn, THAT's what I want to learn! I couldn't even get a handle on what she was doing. She said things like, "Well, I sort of pick the yarn and then throw it over there and pull it through while standing on my head and singing the Star Spangled Banner." Everybody in the class was completely floored. Man, if I could knit that fast, I would NEVER have the feeling that I needed to quit my job in order to knit full time so I can do all of the projects I want to do. Of course, if I did that, I would end up needing to use the grocery money to buy all of the yarn I'd need for all of these fabulous projects. Naturally, in my fantasy world where I quit my job to knit full time, the government gives out yarn subsidies, yarn companies and LYS's have as much power as oil and pharmaceutical companies, yarn is tax deductible, and I get paid to knit fabulous garments for myself. I'm sure the Bush Administration is hard at work on that yarn subsidy right now...

But I digress.

In the end, I'm not sure how I liked Combination Knitting. It did seem faster and it involved less movement of my wrist. These are very good things. I think my expectations were a little screwy. First of all, I thought it would help me with fair isle, which it won't. Secondly, I was hoping that it would neaten up my ribbing, but it really didn't seem to. I'll keep trying it and see how it goes. Maybe I'll get better at it and everything will fall into place.

Before the class, though, I had one of those out of body experiences. Of course, I met Annie Modesitt today, which for a knitter is like meeting a rock star. I mean, this woman is famous. She's been published in Interweave and Vogue a million times. She designed that shrug on the cover of the Fall 2005 VK for cryin' out loud! Which brings me to my out of body experience.

The owner of Circles, Jeanette's LYS in Boston, is out here in San Diego for the TNNA, and she's staying with the owner of the Grove, Susan. Of course, I've already had my moment of trippin' about that one, about how frickin' small the knitting world is. I mean, they didn't meet through us at all. They met completely by accident.

But I digress.

Anyway, Circles is doing a knitalong for the aforementioned shrug, and I want to participate. I wasn't sure if Allison, the owner of Circles, would be up for me participating remotely in the knitalong from San Diego. Well, tonight, we all went out to dinner together, Susan, Annie Modesitt, Allison from Circles, me and fellow Grover Allison. So, I had a complete out of body experience when I went to ask Allison if I could participate in a knitalong in Boston for a pattern that was designed by the woman sitting across from me! A pattern from VK, no less. Isn't that wild?!

Well, I was impressed. Maybe next I'll get to meet Evelyn Clark or Sharon Miller or Kim Hargreaves - oh the mind reels! I already got to meet the Yarn Harlot. I remember when I saw her crossing the street from Rebecca's coffee shop to go into the Grove, I felt like I was having a Paul McCartney sighting or something. Yarn groupies, that's what we are.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Well, here it is, Thursday. I think this will be a brief post, I have gotten further into the left front of my jacket, but it just doesn't look photo worthy to me. Neither does my progress on Ethereal Fichu. I have, however, decided (I think) on my Olympic project. I am going to do the Bi-Color Brioche from the Spring, 2005 Interweave. I am going to use some Knitpicks Merino Style in Tide Pool and Storm. Would it be cheating to do a gauge swatch and to try to learn the brioche stitch (which I have never done before) before the flame lights?

I have an image in my head for a b&w photograph. I briefly set up and shot the still life this morning, I was going to post it, but the lighting wasn't right and the shot looked mediocre, if I viewed it generously, so no b&w today either.

Non-knitting note, I have decided to omit dairy and eggs from my cooking, not from my diet when I go to restaurants, but from my home. Is there any reasonable substitution for feta out there? I have fresh spinach and a recipe for polenta with spinach and feta that I was thinking of making for dinner, but first must figure out some substitution for the feta. If you have any thoughts please leave them in the comments. Thank you!

Finally note, Isis loves hand knit socks. Being a cat she doesn't wear them. She also doesn't play with them when I am home. On several occasions, including last night, hand knit socks that were in the living room when I left for work turn up in the kitchen when I get home. I would love to catch her in the act of hunting and carrying off my sock, any thoughts on how that can be done?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Knitting Olympics

Like many other bloggers out there, I was intrigued by the Yarn Harlot's challenge to participate in her Knitting Olympics. As you probably know, in yesterday's post, she threw down the gauntlet and issued an invitation for all mentally challenged knitters (read: OCD knitters) to enter into the dark underworld of competitive knitting. Since knitting is definitely the only "sport" I have a chance of succeeding at, I immediately set about to come up with just the right project, the one that was doable in the time allotted but one that also was a challenge to my knitting skills. So far, there are three candidates that fit the bill.

First off is Rosita a lace sweater by Jaeger that definitely poses a time challenge because it is knit on size 2 needles. I already have the yarn for this one, but I don't yet have the pattern. Since we still have a couple of weeks until the torch is lit, I think getting the pattern is doable. I have seen the pattern, and it isn't charted, if you can believe it, so step 1 of knitting it will be to create a clever chart that will hopefully help, rather than hinder, my progress. It is a beautiful sweater, and I've seen the finished product in person - it is very impressive.

The second option is the dreaded Arisaig sweater, which I've droned on about on this blog (didn't realize until today that I was misspelling it). The reason this is a viable candidate is because half of this sweater is ribbing done on size 1 needles. I'm going to need to need some sort of motivation to finish it, and I think this self-competition is just the sort of thing to help me get through. I also already have the yarn for this sweater.

Finally, there is the Fair Isle Bag from Interweave Knits Summer 2004. I've been wanting to try fair isle knitting for a while, but I have definitely been intimidated. Although a sweater is out of the question (more power to the Harlot for going for the gusto), I think a bag could be just the ticket. It's knit on fingering weight yarn on size 3 needles, I believe, so it will pose a skill challenge as well as a time challenge. I don't have the yarn for this yet, but I think that Knitpicks Palette would be perfect for it, and cheap, too! It would also be fun to design the color combinations. I'm not really fond of the original colors in the design.

Now that I've taken a rather enjoyable trip to Fantasyland, I can get down to real knitting progress. I had hoped to be done with the front of my Under the Hoodie before my post today, but it just didn't happen. I had to frog a few inches, and I think that sealed my fate. Alas, here is what I've accomplished, in all of its glory:

The reason I had to tink back was because I was merrilly knitting away as if the front was identical to the back, not realizing that the neck split pretty much immediately after the stripe section. C'est la vie. Tomorrow, I'll finish the front and start thinking about the sleeves! Making the pocket was pretty interesting. I had to knit to the top of where the pocket would be, go back pick up stitches and knit the pocket to the same point, and then knit the stitches together. Here's how it looks close up:

It didn't turn out too bad, I don't think. I'm really looking forward to finishing this sweater and wearing it like it was a second skin. Thank goodness it's machine washable or I'd be in real trouble.

Until Friday...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's A Bird, No, It's a Plane, No, It's SuperKnitter (a/k/a the woman with no life)

Ah, the progress to report...
First on the hooded jacket front, (or back actually), when I last wrote I had just received the Karabella Gossamer that I needed to go any further on the back and had put in my contrasting colors, but was undecided if I liked it. After that I knit up a storm. I knit all day Saturday, went over to Circles where I continued to knit up a storm by Sunday I had this:
This is the completely finished back to my hooded jacket! Also had only 3 skeins in of Aurora 8 in my possession, so wanted not to go through them too quickly, and therefore didn't cast on for the front immediately. The pattern changes that I am making so far are: 1) provisional cast on rather than 2 rows of garter in CC and 2) placing shoulder stitches to holders so that I can do a 3 needle bind off for the shoulders instead of seaming them. I hate seaming. I think that after I seam the fronts to the back I will then do the 2 rows of garter around the entire thing, hopefully this will solidify my side seams.
Next, onto MaryElla, I really thought that MaryElla would languish with my hooded jacket to be worked on, but there were times when my living lap blanket (a/k/a Isis) sat on my lap and started to purr just as a skein was ending. What is a girl to do? I couldn't kick here off my lap, so I had to switch to something that was near me, something like MaryElla. As a result, MaryElla is done! Yesterday I made a trip over to Windsor Button and bought the ribbon in the center, I took Christine's suggestion there, and some snaps then I did put the finishing touches that you see here. An additional pix is in my FO gallery if you are interested.
Next, how can a knitter reasonably be expected to go to a yarn store and not buy at least one skein? I think the answer is obvious, she can't be expected to leave yarnless. Well, I did not leave Windsor Button yarnless. I bought one skein of Plymouth Baby Grande Alpaca, in the same color as the mittens that I made last fall, and set forth to make a hat. For the pattern I chose the Trapper Hat (#7) from the Winter, 2006 VK that just came out. The hat knit up remarkably quickly and now, I have a brand new hat! I may tink some of it and make it a little longer, but I am not positive that I will do that.
Next, Ethereal Fichu. Remember that I was uncertain about how I liked it? The pattern wanted you to use size 6 needles, which I thought created way too loose a look, so I was using size 0. Well after getting about 2 1/3 of repeats done I decided it was too dense. I am using Misti Alpaca Lace, which I have already learned doesn't tink well. I decided that since I wasn't liking it on the 0 I might as well try it on my size 3 needles, so I just took all the stitches off the 0, cut the yarn and cast on with the 3s. On the left is size 0, on the right size 3, I think I made the right decision, and this way I won't have to work on this shawl for nearly as long. I now have 2 repeats done, I will probably end up doing more repeats than the pattern calls for so that I can get it to a size I want.

Finally, back where we started, last night I cast on for the left front of the Hooded Jacket, no picture to show, I have gotten to about the point that I was at on the back in my Saturday post.

That covers my progress for the weekend. Not bad, huh?
K and I are both thinking of taking up the Yarn Harlot's Olympic challenge, so now I just have to think of an appropriate challenge, any suggestions?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Secret Pal Info

I finally finished my Amazon wish list! It can be found by going here. Also, I thought of a few other things to add that I'll put on my own wish list here.


Vesper sock yarn
Lorna's Laces yarn - any kind
Blue Sky Alpacas yarn - any kind
Koigu sock yarn
Socks that Rock sock yarn


Girlfriend Swing Coat
Somewhat Cowl
Ribby Cardi
Scoop du Jour
Karabella Supercashmere Cabled Sweater
Karabella pattern from Winter VK ad (pink sweater)


Brittany straight needles - size 5,6,7, or 8
Inox metal dpn's - size 1

This is all I can come up with for the moment. Hopefully this will help you get an idea of what my tastes are.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Clapotis is finished!

Well, at least the knitting part is done. I still have to finish blocking it and weaving in the ends. But, here it is:

She's a beauty, ain't she? The colors in this colorway of Silk Garden are so amazing. It completely envelops me when I wrap it around myself, which I absolutely love, and it doubles as both a scarf and a wrap. I tried to get it into the shape of a parallelogram, but it just wasn't working out, so this will have to do.

So, since I finished a project, I naturally cast on for another one. Actually, first I decided to go to Needlecraft Cottage in Pacific Beach to buy some cute little gifts for my Secret Pal, which I did find, but I also found yarn for myself. I didn't go crazy, though. I was actually really impressed with this LYS this time. Usually when I got in there I'm pretty disappointed, but I felt that they'd ordered a lot of new yarn, much of which I have never seen at any other LYS in the area. They seemed to have a lot of Karabella, which is fairly unusual. Anyway, the pink yarn is a 60/40 blend of acrylic and cotton to make a sweater for Savannah and the blue/purplish yarn is a fingering weight washable wool yarn that I'm going to use to make the Embossed Leaf socks from the Winter Interweave Knits. It doesn't have any nylon in it, so I'm a little wary, but it's wonderfully soft and I love the color.

This is the sweater that I'm making for Savannah out of the pink yarn:

It's a Kim Hargreaves design out of the Pipsqueaks book they published a while back. I believe it's out of print, but it came in my Treasury of Rowan Knits book. I cast on yesterday at the Stitch and Bitch I went to at the Grove, and I think I'll finish with the back this morning. I don't know if I'll work on it at the Whistlestop this afternoon because Savannah's mom will be there and I want it to be a surprise. I may also decide, "Screw it" and work on it anyway. I love making baby sweaters because they go so quickly. Anyway, the Whistle should be fun today because I'm bringing my two friends who I have taught to knit. I love spreading the joy of knitting to others, don't you?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Knitting Yin and Yang

Yesterday was something of a knitting roller coaster of emotions. Okay, it wasn't an exciting roller coaster, more of the kind designed fore or 4 year olds, but you get my drift.

The day began with my going to Borders and finding the Winter VK on the newsstands! Yippee, I was able to buy a brand new knitting magazine! The coaster begins to rise. I got into the office, however, where I received an email from Kpixie telling me that while I thought I was one of the lucky few who purchased one of the 12 skeins of Vesper sock yarn, I wasn't. They sold out, despite the skein I wanted (knit and tonic) being in my shopping cart, and despite them accepting my credit card. The coaster plummets! Fortunately I wasn't ready to knit with the yarn, and there will be more coming in in 2-3 weeks, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

In the afternoon My Gossamer arrived! Kpixie is redeeemed, it shipped on Thursday and I had it by Friday! The coaster was ascending again! I actually am able to continue with my hooded jacket this LONG weekend! Yippee! As soon as I got home I picked up my jacket and set down MaryElla, after all, I only started MaryElla because I didn't think I would have the Gossamer to work on my jacket for the weekend. You can see, though, that I have gotten most of MaryElla done, so I may end up driven to work on it sporadically this weekend. I don't love the harshness of the dark green again the stark white. I plan on putting some green ribbon through the eyelets in the center, hopefully that will help a bit.

After starting again the jacket I came to a quandary. I can't decide if I like my Gossamer choice when combined with the main color. Also I don't really like the way the color change looks. The jacket is primarily reverse stockinette stitch, and as anyone who has done color changes knows, the change usually looks MUCH better on the knit side than the purl side. I plunged on anyway, and will continue to plunge on hoping that I will like the finished product. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy knit, a nice change, in some ways, from all the lace work I have done recently. The color on the picture to the left seems to be fairly accurate.

The final plunge of the coaster came this morning when I logged onto the internet and remembered I had to work. Well, I guess no coaster can end at the top of a hill, and it could be much worse.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Free the Needles!!!! Free the Needles!!!!

You can call me the Great Emancipator! I've freed the needles! I finally finished this languishing project:

It didn't turn out as long as I thought it would, but I got tired of knitting it. It's long enough I guess. It's really soft and it will keep me really warm on those cold San Diego nights ;). In other words, it will make a nice closet decoration. I was going to put fringe on it, but I wasn't sure. What do you think? I made it out of some Rowan Polar that I scored at an LYS a while back. It's a pattern out of a Big Wool pattern book that I modified to work with this yarn.

The good news is that my needles are free to work on my Big Wool sweater from VK! I'm really excited about it. I haven't even been able to do a swatch because my needles have been tied up, but now, there's no stopping me! That will be my weekend project, right after I finish this:

This is Clapotis with all of the straight knitting done. The only thing that's left do is the decreases on one end and it's done! I love the colors, but I find the yarn a little scratchy. I think it will be an eye-catching piece. Here's another close-up photo of the dropped stitches:

I shouldn't have more than a day's work to do on it. I have some knitting time today, but I have two KIP events this weekend, so I should be able to make progress on this and on my VK sweater.

I did a lot of shopping yesterday for my Secret Pal. It sure is easy to get to $50 in a hurry. I only chose items from her wishlist because I figured she's guaranteed to like them that way. I'll post some photos of my purchases over the weekend.

Well, I start school next Wednesday at San Diego State University. I finally did it! I'm a graduate student! When I started this whole thing, I didn't think I could do it. I was switching careers from being a lawyer to being an engineer. My history degree was suddenly worth absolutely nothing. I had to start at the bottom, taking calculus, general chemistry, physics, etc., and it took two years to take my first upper division engineering course. This semester, I'm taking nothing but Aerospace Engineering courses, and I'm thrilled. I should be graduating in May 2007 with a Master's Degree! It will be my greatest achievement, surpassing law school definitely. That being said, I've enjoyed my five weeks off (A LOT of knitting time), but it will be good to get back to being productive. At least that's what I keep telling myself. I'll enjoy my last few days off, though, and try to get at least one more FO done.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Honeymoon

While there have been no wedding bells ringing for me since Monday's post, I have had a honeymoon, of a sort. You know the exhilaration, the rush, the sheer joy of a new project? Well, after finishing Lace & Tuck on Monday night I awoke on Tuesday to begin casting on for my hooded jacket. Since I only had the Aurora 8 (MC) and not Gossamer (CC) and since the pattern called for 2 rows of CC to start, I reviewed Knitty and did a provisional cast on. I checked and rechecked my cast on stitches and with joy and anticipation began the project. I finished casting on the 148 stitches on my bus ride into the office, and wasn't able to begin knitting until work was over. I established my pattern and was exuberantly knitting along (btw, Karabella Aurora 8 is lovely to work with) when after 13 rows the next instruction said something like with CC continue pattern for 2 rows. Shit! Foiled, honeymoon over in less than 24 hours! I would have to order my Gossamer now rather than later, Circles didn't have a colorway of Gossamer in that I liked when last I was there, so Kpixie to the rescue! With any luck I will have my Gossamer tomorrow and the honeymoon can begin anew. Until then, on the right is where I am stuck.

In the meantime, what does one do when one reaches a knitting impasse? I chose to pick up a UFO that was, and may still be, at grave risk of being abandoned. I picked up my VK shawl. I don't have a finished picture to show today, but there are 2 colors and it was from the Fall VK, I think (the issue with all the shawls) It is being knit from knitpicks Alpaca Cloud, which I am enjoying working with. Why is it at risk of being abandoned then? Well, for starters, I am worried that it won't block wide enough and will end up just being a wide scarf rather than a stole. Next, I don't really see an obvious stitch pattern, I am following the pattern correctly, but there is no clear thing popping out at me. Desperate times call for desperate measures though.

desperation also leads to more projects being cast on. In addition to working on my VK shawl (stole really), I decided to make a MaryElla from Knitty. I saw Jessimuhla's MaryElla and loved the idea of it. I have a bunch of beads from about 5 years ago when I became infatuated with beading. The infatuation has ended, but it left with with more seed beads than I know what to do with. Because I was overly anxious to start MaryElla I decided that I could use the left over lace weight merino from my Tea Shawl instead of DMC Perle Cotton. I loaded about 1,400 bead (guessing here) onto the merino, which broke once. I started knitting with the 0000 dpns that BitterKnitter picked up for me, and had to move the beads down the yarn again. The Merino broke yet again. Did this stop me? No, of course not, that would be sensible. I tried to move the beads onto the other side of the break so I could just continue. The fricken yarn kept breaking. Obviously there is a reason the pattern called for cotton. Finally, I got off my but and found the left over cotton from Mom's table runner and tried to move the beads from the merino onto the cotton. Not an easy job. I gave up and used the beads that were still on their original strings, but I am one string short. I just won't think of this now. This morning I started with the cotton and was even able to get to the bead adding part. Because I didn't bother buying anything, other than the needles, I am not sure that I will like the finished product, but I am enjoying the process, so I can always do a second one later.

Final thoughts for the post: 1. If you are a secret pal reading this, I am not your target. Knitzalot is and she post yesterday, since there are two of us on this blog be careful not to get us confused, while we agree on some knitting things we disagree on many others, our styles can be quite different. 2. I put up a link to my FO gallery for this year. If you want to see it, just go to the big green writing and that will be your link.

That's all the news that's fit to print.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

For My Secret Pal 7

Hi! I'm really excited to be participating in Secret Pal 7. This is my first time doing this and I'm sure it will be a blast. Here are my answers to the questionnaire.

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

Yes, I'd have to say I'm a yarn snob, with one major exception. I love now discontinued Cotton-Ease by Lion Brand. Other than that, I pretty much avoid the yarns sold at Michael's and Joann Fabrics. I like merino wool, cashmere (of course), alpaca, angora - pretty much any animal fiber. I use silk and cotton because I live in San Diego, but I don't really like to work with them all that much.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

I do not spin and I only crochet when it enhances my knitting projects, i.e. edgings, etc.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a Lantern Moon needle case where I store my straights, dpn's and crochet hooks, although I'd like to find a better system for my dpn's since I have so many now. I have no system whatsoever for my circs. They have made a rat's nest on the bottom of my knitting bag.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I have been knitting for just over a year, although I've learned a lot in that time and have tried a lot of new things. I have done lace, made socks, all kinds of sweaters, added short row shaping, and done intarsia. I haven't done fair isle, steeking, or any techniques at that level. I guess I'd consider myself intermediate.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wishlist?

Not yet, although I will put something together and update this blog with the info.

6. What's your favorite scent ? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

I'm not very particular really. I can tell you what I don't like - musk. I'm also not particularly fond of vanilla or anything really sweet. I've found that I like jasmine, gardenia and other florals, although some fruity smells are nice, too.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Yes, unfortunately I do have wicked sweet tooth. I love all things chocolate, particularly milk chocolate, especially when it's covering toffee. I REALLY like Cary's toffee which is sold at some Whole Foods Markets.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

I don't consider myself a crafty person at all. Knitting is really the only thing in that vein that I do.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3's? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

My taste in music is wide-ranging. I like everything from Green Day to Depeche Mode to Jesse Cook to Neil Diamond and everything in between. I'm a little hard to pin down. I might be the only person on earth with a homemade CD containing a track by Queen back to back with a track from Barry Manilow. My computer can play MP3's.

10. What is your favorite color? Or --do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

My favorite colors to wear are blue and purple because they look the best on me. For things I don't wear, I love autumn colors - greens, browns, orange, rust, etc. They don't look good on me but my entire condo is decorated with them. I really don't like tomato red or peach at all.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married and have been for two years (in fact my anniversary is today!). I have 3 hairball-spitting cats who basically run the house. Their names are Teacup, Princess and Giselle.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Well, the weather here doesn't really allow me to wear these things often, especially mittens and hats (I look like a water buffalo in a poncho). However, I love them and wear them anyway, particularly in the evenings or when I travel. Scarves are probably the items that I can wear most often.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

My all time favorite yarn is Rowan's Wool Cotton, followed closely by pretty anything made by Lorna's Laces. I also like Debbie Bliss' alpaca silk. I'm loving working with Noro Silk Garden, too. I'm dying to work with Koigu. Basically I love anything soft and luxurious with pretty colors. Oh, and I LOVE Blue Sky Alpacas yarns, too. Rowan's Cashcotton DK is a great yarn, too.

14. What fibers do you absolutely not like?

With the exception of acrylic, I'm open to most things, as long as they have a good hand. I am sensitive to scratchy yarns, particularly if they're going to be around my neck. I don't love cotton, but there are a lot of good cotton yarns out there. I'm working with Rowan Cork right now - not loving that one.

Edited to add: I generally don't like unnatural fibers, such as rayon, etc.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsessions?

I enjoy knitting socks and sweaters the most. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed by any one thing except wanting to start a ton of new projects everyday and searching the earth for new patterns. I'm quite obsessive about these things. Oh, and I absolutely have to knit everyday. With the exception of when I had the stomach flu, I don't think I've gone a single day without doing at least a little knitting.

16. What is/are your favorite items to knit?

The answer is pretty much the same as above. I like a variety to keep me interested and usually have several projects going to appeal to all my moods. I also like doing lacework.

17. What are you knitting right now?

A better question is what am I NOT knitting right now. I'm working on a Clapotis in Noro Silk Garden, the Birch shawl, a cabled scarf in Polar, Picovoli, a sweater called Chill from an old Rowan mag and the Ombre Alpaca Blanket from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I'm chomping at the bit to start Louisa Harding's Big Wool sweater from the Fall Vogue Knitting, pattern #11, but I must exercise a little patience (ha!)

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Yes, especially knitted gifts.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

It depends upon the project, but almost always circulars, Addi Turbos if possible, although Lantern Moon straights are lovely as well.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

See above. Addi Naturals are also fabulous needles as are Brittany birch straights and dpn's.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yeah, it's called my two hands and my chair. All kidding aside, I wish I did.

22. How did you learn to knit?

Jeanette, the other participant in this blog, taught me on one of her trips to San Diego.

23. What is your oldest UFO?

I'm embarassed to say that my oldest UFO has been around almost as long as I've known how to knit. I started a cabled afghan in Lamb's Pride Bulky about a year ago that I still haven't finished.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

I love Looney Toones, Bugs, Pepe le Peu, the Tasmanian Devil and the rest of the gang. For live action, I love cats and dogs.

25. What is your favorite holiday?

I have always loved Christmas and Thanksgiving the best.

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Besides yarn? Well, no, that pretty much takes up all of my space and money.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I subscribe to Interweave Knits only at the moment. I don't subscribe to Vogue because it hits the newstands faster. I read Rebecca and Rowan, but don't have a subscription to either. I don't bother with the others, Knitters, Cast On, etc.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns that you are dying to get your hands on?

In addition to the yarns mentioned above, I want to try knitting socks with Vesper sock yarn from kpixie.com, and I would love to try handpainted yarn from a small mill that I've never tried before. I would also really like some Brittany dpn's size 1's (can't find them around here), the book Luxury Knits, Alterknits or Knitting Vintage Socks. I'd also like to get my hands on the discontinued pattern book Rowan Wool Cotton Concertina.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Knitting socks on circular needles, fair isle, steeking, continental knitting.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes I am a sock knitter. I am a size 8, my foot is 9 1/2 inches long and 9 1/2 inches in circumference.

31. When is your birthday?

August 6

Finally, I'd like to leave you with this photo of my sister-in-law, Pam, knitting while her baby sleeps. I think she's a true convert.