30 September 2006

Pretty Soon You'll Feel Like You're Here

I lack the brainpower to write anything of much interest tonight. Have a picture instead.

pile of knitting

In this picture, you can see:

- I've got big balls, he's got big balls, she's got big... you get the idea
- a Project Linus blanket sitting on a bag of LemonEgg skeins sitting on a stack of craft books (the one with the orange covers and yellow binding? the orange is actually corduroy. seriously. published by Time-Life in 1976. bitchin'.)
- a candle in a bowl... *shrug*
- a pair of batik-print, silk pajama shorts
- a straw hat purchased at Mount Vernon on recent visit
- two Fiesta socks
- two faire stockings (one unfinished)
- a ball of icky acrylic
- the LemonEgg shrug and some more of its yarn
- a ball of dark-bright purple Patons Classic Merino
- the hoodie sleeve (stay tuned, folks, there may be news about this soon)
- a niddy-noddy holding a merino-silk single
- a screen of earrings, all of which will become useless as soon as school starts (piercings aren't allowed, and my holes close up after five minutes, so I'll be re-piercing my ears in about a year)
- a Dremel tool in its case
- a turntable

That last one makes me want to listen to some Ella Fitzgerald before bed. G'night, folks.

26 September 2006

Nothing To Do With Knitting

Have you ever had a project that just couldn't make up its mind about what it wanted to be?

Sometimes you can force a project to be something in particular. You match the yarn and gauge to a pattern, follow the directions, and bingo, a FO that (hopefully) came out exactly the way it was supposed to.

Then there are the projects that need time to make up their minds about what they want to be. They start with an abstract concept, work their way through various permutations, almost arrive at a decision, then ask for a little more tweaking. If you're lucky, the project has decided what it wants to be before construction begins. But that's only if you're lucky.

I'm not lucky today.

This morning I had seven yards of blue linen, almost two yards of tan linen, and an idea. The idea was abstract: something to go over my brown faire kirtle to hide the fact that it's four inches too short. At first I thought I'd go with a sideless surcoat. It's a simple and easily-constructed design. Then I started looking through my historical costuming books.

I should have known better.

The sideless surcoat morphed into a sleeved surcoat with a v-neck and high waist. That would have been the end of it... if I'd been able to figure out how to put the bloody thing on. None of the pictures I found showed any sort of closures, and only one showed a belt with a buckle-type thing, which I lack the skills and equipment to replicate. That's okay, I can try something else.

A cotehardie! Perfect! I essentially have a pattern already, since it's pretty much the same as my kirtle. All I have to do is alter the sleeves and make the whole thing longer. No problem!

With all of the pieces cut out, I realized I still loved the sleeved surcoat, and had, in my absent-mindedness, cut a few pieces with that design in mind instead of the current one. This wasn't a problem, since I'd cut them bigger than they needed to be, but it still proved that the project wasn't finished making up its mind. It's having a time-out right now so I can work through the last issues before I start sewing.

I'm volunteering at the Faire on Friday ("School Day"), so I need either this or a new doublet (half-finished) to be ready by Thursday night. I work best under pressure, so this deadline is a good thing.

I apologize to the non-costumers who have no idea what this whole entry is about. Knitting content will return later in the week.

24 September 2006

Toque Toque

I got a little toasted in the short time the sun was out at the Faire today. It was okay, though, a good time was had by all. I'm becoming less and less satisfied with the outfit I wear to this faire, which means costume construction may get in the way of even more knitting in the near future. For being a knitblogger, I'm not doing so well with the whole, y'know, knitting thing. Hmm.

It's about time I told y'all about the project in my profile picture, isn't it? See, I have a love for Aran... well, Aran anything, really. Sweaters, hats, blankets, socks... you make it natural-wool-colored and full of cable-y goodness, and I'm in love. That love is what prompted this project. I picked up some Lion Brand Wool-Ease in "Natural Heather" and knit this up on US#8 circs and DPNs.

cable hat, v.1.0

It lacks the complexity of most Aran patterns, but this was another one of those "I want to try this technique and see what happens" projects, so I kept it fairly simple. I loved the way it turned out, until I realized that I'd calculated the gauge without considering the cables, and every time I wore the hat it tried to jump off my fat head.

Some say that a "true" knitter* isn't afraid of frogging FOs. I must be a true knitter, then, because I ripped this sucker apart and started something new.

cable hat, v.2.0

It still isn't perfect, but at least it stays on my head. The yarn is now so overworked that I couldn't use it for anything else even if I wanted to, so my next Aran-ish project will require more yarn. I should use wool, but I can't wear pure wool next to my skin (except my hands), so hats have to be made with blends or synthetics.

I'll try to have some current-project reports this week.

*Are there degrees of knitterdom, or is it a binary thing? Are there false knitters out there? A gal needs to know these things.

23 September 2006

It's In The Bag

The rain this morning convinced me to stay home and work on a sewing project instead of going to Nature Day. I'm in the process of making a new winter coat out of some brown wool plaid I bought when I worked at a fabric store (almost a decade ago, like everything else). The design is complicated enough that I'm actually following a purchased pattern instead of drafting one for myself. Yeah. It's that complicated.

Since there's no knitting going on today, here's another FO from the collection.

Lite-Lopi felted bag

The yarn is Lite-Lopi by Reynolds, in colors 422 (Sage Heather) and (I think) 429 (Dk. Berry Heather) and a little 431 (Brick Heather) around the top. I'm not entirely sure about the reds... Lite-Lopi has a bunch of reds/purples/bricks/pinks that look similar, and I've lost the ball bands, so I'm guessing at those color numbers. I held two strands together on US#11 needles, and made my very first I-cord for the handle. Then I tossed it in the washing machine for a few agitation cycles, and ended up with this lovely felted bag.

I was flipping through a catalog (North Style, I think) and saw a knit sweater with a pretty Fair Isle design on it. I went to the company's website, found a picture of the sweater, enlarged it, and charted part of the design, which I then used on this bag.

Yes, I'm crazy. It makes life more interesting.

22 September 2006

Foot Fetish

Now that the merino/silk (I need to name it... suggestions?) has been spun and wound onto the niddy-noddy to set, it looks even nicer than it did on the spindle.

merino silk singlesI'm almost tempted to just use the single, but it's a little stiff, so plying would definitely be better for it. The single comes out to about 90 yards, which will make the two-ply something a little short of 45, which... isn't much. Maybe I'll use the fair-intarsia technique from the hoodie to do delicate cables on a pair of grey or black socks. A New Englander can never have too many socks.

And speaking of socks...

I wasn't sure I'd have enough yarn to do it, but it looks like the 4-ish ounces of the second "vintage" yarn I have (100% acrylic Silky Soft by TMA in "Sherbert Ombre") are enough to make a pair of ankle socks. I've dubbed this pair "Acrylicky" because the yarn has a dry, almost squeaky feel. This isn't surprising, considering the content, and while they feel weird to work with, they'll do fine on my feet. At least the color is pretty.


One sock is already finished, and I'll probably begin the other one tonight. I'm going to be busy all weekend, so there won't be much time for knitting. I'll be at Family Nature Day at the White Memorial Conservation Center with my greyhound tomorrow, and at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire on Sunday.

For now, I'm off to get ready to visit my grandmother while she's in town. Lucky me.

21 September 2006

Sheep + Moths = Pretty Fiber

Sorry about not posting yesterday. I got distracted and forgot all about blogging.

One of the things that distracted me was the joy of spinning. I'm a little rusty, but after a decade without practice, I think I'm doing pretty well. This is the merino/silk I've been working with:

merino-silk blend

I've only spun with plain wool before, so the way this stuff draws is totally new to me. I discovered that I'm not talented enough to draw it as I spin, so I pre-draw each length. It's cheating, sort of, but... it has silk in it! Silk has very long, slightly sticky fibers, which makes it difficult to draw. Maybe with a lot of practice I can figure out how to draw and spin at the same time.

Here's the result of my hard work:


My scanner doesn't like this stuff... I'm sorry for the picture quality. The yarn isn't as even as I'd like, and I have a tendency to over-spin sections, but I'm hoping it will ply nicely.

I'm going to be buying some undyed mohair from a fellow chainmailler* in a week or two... I wonder how that's going to spin up, compared to this stuff. I'm also really looking forward to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (Lucky Charmz, are you going to that? It's in Rhinebeck.), because I get to meet David and spend the small amount of cash I've saved up to get something exotic to play with. *ahem* For Christmas presents. Yes. I promise.

*Chainmaillers make chainmaille (who'd've thunk it?), both for armor/clothing (for LARPing, SCA, and RenFaires, among other things) and jewelry (which is primarily what I do). We take wire, wind it around a rod to make a coil, cut the coil into individual rings, then link those rings together in various formations to make chains and "cloth."

19 September 2006

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn

I seem to be overdosing on new projects this week. I started a new pair of socks (with another "vintage" yarn), I'm planning the gloves I'll make with the Patons Merino, and I just spent 90 minutes and $1.71 making this:


That's right, folks, I'm getting into spinning. Well, back into spinning, I should say. I used to do it every other weekend when I was a tour guide at Noah Webster's birthplace. That was... oof... about a decade ago. (Dang, that makes me feel old.) Since my mother has my never-worked-right-anyway Ashford wheel, and I'm very, very far from being able to afford my dream wheel, I decided to make myself a spindle.

In the footsteps of Alton Brown, I firmly believe that tools should be able to multi-task. Since I'm not sure how long it'll be before I can afford my dream wheel, and I don't know what variety of fibers I'll be spinning in the meantime, I've made this spindle so it can be either a high-whorl or a low-whorl. Sounds technical to non-spinners, doesn't it? All it means is that I notched both ends of the shaft. (Why not hooks? Simple: I don't like them.)

notch for low-whorl use

Above: notch for low-whorl use. Below: notch for high-whorl use.

notch for high-whorl use

Now I need to dig out some fiber. I gave my cards away a while back, so I can't really do anything with the grey fleece that's been sitting in the attic for the last decade... it's a PITA to work with even under the best circumstances. What I'll probably work with is the sample bag of merino/silk that I got at a fiber festival ages ago. It's an ambitious first project, but spinning is something fingers remember how to do, even after years of disuse.

Wish me luck!

18 September 2006

No, Surely Not! No One Was Aliiiive Then!

Weekend Statistics:

hours on buses: 19
hours in bus stations: 4
hours of sleep: 18
hours awake with friends: 35
projects completed: 1
projects worked on: 4
yarn-craft-related purchases: 2
fun had: tons

I encountered the one good driver who works for Peter Pan Bus Lines yesterday. His name is Jeff, he drove from Washington, D.C. to New York City, and he impressed me so much that I emailed the bus company to sing his praises. Every other Peter Pan driver I've ridden with has cut people off, tailgated them, driven at dangerous speeds, and, in one case, nearly caused at least three accidents by not checking mirrors before changing lanes. Riding with Jeff was like a breath of fresh air.

You'd think, with all the time I spent on buses over the weekend, I'd've accomplished more than I did. I worked on the faire stockings before leaving Connecticut, during my stay in Virginia, and from Washington to New York. The vintage-yarn shrug (I think I'm calling it LemonEgg from now on) is half-finished, which took one full skein (3 oz.). The second Fiesta sock was begun Saturday night and finished Sunday afternoon, with just weaving-in to be done. I also started the second half of the brown bag Saturday night, but didn't get very far because I was so tired.

We went to Mount Vernon on Saturday for the colonial craft fair/encampment. I was pleased with the quality of the vendors and re-enactors, and bought a hat for my faire outfit. I have to reshape it to make it appropriate for the 16th century instead of the 18th, but that shouldn't be much trouble. I hope. Washington's mansion was beautiful on the inside, even though the tour was interrupted by cannon or musket fire every few minutes.

I picked up a new Tunisian crochet hook for MarimbaChick and a ball of Patons Classic Merino ("That's Purple"... and boy, is it ever!) for myself. David suggested I use it to make fingerless gloves, and since gloves are on my list of things to learn how to make, I think that's what I'll do. If they come out well, I'll give them away for the holidays. If they don't, I'll probably frog them and try again. Frogging FOs makes me a little twitchy, but sometimes it's necessary.

So the trip was tons of fun and fairly productive. Thank you, Mike and Alli, for inviting me, putting me up, treating me to some great food (Mike, you're giving me that mac-n-cheese recipe!), and showing me a good time. You rock. :D

Gloves, here I come!

(The title, by the way, is an Eddie Izzard quote. We watched "Dress to Kill" Saturday night, and it's impossible to watch Eddie Izzard without having the urge to quote him for the next week.)

14 September 2006


I'm bringing just about every knitting project I have with me tomorrow. In my carry-on bag are three pairs of socks, the shrug I've decided to make out of the vintage yarn, and the cabled shrug. For the trip back, I have the brown bag and a blanket I'm working on for Project Linus.

I wonder how much I can finish in twenty hours of knitting this weekend.

Back on Monday!

13 September 2006

Happy Feet

On Friday, at way-too-freaking-early in the morning, I'm getting on a bus bound for Virginia to visit MarimbaChick and her man. The twenty-hour round trip will give me plenty of time to knit, so I'm trying to decide which projects to bring. I want to avoid the more mundane stuff so I don't get too bored, but I don't want to have to pay careful attention to a pattern, either. Socks are perfect for this because a) they're quick, b) even stockinette is interesting when it's done on DPNs, and c) I can practically make them in my sleep.

One of the pairs I'm working on is a Christmas present, and I absolutely love the yarn. It's Plymouth "Encore Colorspun" in colorway #7132 (the store calls it "Fiesta"). The proportions of the pattern make for some neat pooling:


I still need to finish a similar pair for my sister. They were supposed to be a birthday present (in June), and they were essentially finished in time, but I haven't gotten around to weaving in the ends yet. With the weather turning chilly, I should probably finish the darned things before the next time she comes home from school. They're in an even brighter colorway, #7137 ("Citrus"):


I love making brightly-colored socks to wear around the house in the winter. They help make up for the waning daylight hours. Making them in worsted-weight yarn means I can churn them out fairly quickly, keeping my mood up with that feeling of accomplishment.

And no, I didn't apply for Sock Wars. School starts next month, and I need to be able to devote time to that without worrying about whether I'm going to get "killed." ;)

12 September 2006

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A... Something

I figured I should show y'all the yarn Pat and I used last night.


My knowledge of the current yarn market isn't extensive by any means, so I'm not sure what this yarn's modern equivalent is, but it's very soft and a little fuzzy. It almost looks sparkly in certain lighting conditions. It's also a little more orangey than the scan shows. The name of the colorway is "Lemons Ombre," but I think it should be called "Sunny Side Up" because it has all the colors of a poached egg.

I'm thinking of making something useful with this yarn. I have about six skeins (total: 18 oz.), but the label doesn't give yardage. I wouldn't mind wearing it next to my skin, since it's not the least bit scratchy. Any suggestions?

11 September 2006

Yessss, Maaaster!

I have never known a ten-year-old boy to be as enthusiastic about knitting as Pat was tonight. I brought some free-to-me acrylic so old that people on ebay list it as "vintage,"* and two pairs of needles so we could work at the same time. He learned how to knit on, and then both the knit and purl stitches so he can do stockinette. He managed about four rows in two hours (we were going for something the size of a washcloth), but decided to rip it all out and start over because somewhere along the line he'd dropped half a row of stitches. I think I was too concerned with him frequently missing the "off jumps Jack" part of the stitch to notice the missing half-row until it was too late to easily fix it. He now has about a month to practice until his next lesson, which will probably involve knit-purl patterns.

His younger brother spent the whole evening declaring, at top volume, his desire to learn along with his brother. If his attention span matched his desire for attention, I might try to teach him, and I will bring needles and yarn for him to play with next time, but I doubt anything will come of it.

So tired. Must sleep.

*Caron "DazzleAire" in "Lemons Ombre"

10 September 2006

Simply Stocking

No knitting done today, so I bring you yet another old project. After I got the hang of making socks, I decided to make some knee-high stockings to wear with my RenFaire outfits. Being poor, (which is only a good thing if you're applying for student loans or prescription drug assistance,) I got some of Caron's "Simply Soft" acrylic. I think the pair of stockings took about a skein and a half.

faire stocking

The leg is fitted, with increases and decreases on either side of center-back. The stockings are held up with garters (not the elastic kind, just a thin strip of garter-stitch that ties below the kneecap) that are eight stitches wide and something like 180 rows long [not shown]. "Tedious" doesn't even come close to describing the job of making them. Still, I like that I'm using a technique that's a little closer to being historically accurate.

People are always telling me that I should start my own knitting/sewing/costuming/general-craft business. I keep talking myself out of it because of my attention span, my somewhat lethargic progress rate, and especially the fact that I'm terrible at marketing myself. I under-price, I'm not an aggressive seller, and I'm never happy enough with my work to keep from mentioning its faults. In spite of all of that, I keep thinking about breaking into a niche market: RenFaire legware. Nobody else does it, as far as I know. Of course, the reason for that may be that nobody will shell out for a nice pair of hand-knit stockings. It's tough to do market research for a market that doesn't exist.

Even if I start such a business, (and I'd love to, if only to have an excuse to practically live at my favorite faire,) it'll be a few years down the line, when I'm (hopefully) away from my folks and doing my own thing. In the meantime, if y'all have any thoughts on the matter, sock it to me! (I know, it's lame. I didn't get much sleep last night.)

09 September 2006

In the Bag

First off, to make up for not posting yesterday, here's a clear shot of the finished hoodie sleeve. The seam is being held together with mini clothespins for the time being.

finished sleeve

I've completely re-thought the brown bag. The new design is much more fun to work and has milestones that let me feel like I'm accomplishing something. While I frog the first (square-ish) half, here's the new one:

brown bag front

That's short-row groovy-ness, folks. Every row I stop two stitches earlier than the row before, and when I don't have enough stitches to do another turn, I do a full row, picking up the ends of the short rows as I go. (Did that make sense?) As I mentioned, I'm using sample skeinlets, which means I'm adding yarn every few rows. Because I can't afford to waste yarn by only starting a new piece at the beginning of a row, there are a lot of little ends in the middle of the knitting.

brown bag back

I'm going to do a lot of weaving-in once this thing is assembled. Then the felting begins! Hopefully it won't shrink too much. I'm thinking of adding a few rows to the straight side to make the bag deeper, but we'll see how much yarn I have after the other pieces are finished.

07 September 2006

Lonely Alpaca Sock

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. I slept way too much and got nothing done. Today I bring you an old project:

alpaca sock

This is a solitary sock, with no plans for a mate any time soon. It's made with Frog Tree sport-weight alpaca on US#00 needles. I should have knit it inside-out to get the Fair Isle tension a bit looser... as it is, it's really difficult to put on because it's so tight. I might rip the whole thing out and try again, just so I can be happy with it and make a full pair, but it's such a slow project because of the tiny needles. I might give up on the Fair Isle and just work stripes instead, since that's what caused the most trouble.

I'm such a sock snob. After my first sock, a top-down, flap-heel pain in the butt, I found a toe-up, short-row toe and heel pattern that I feel in love with, and I refuse to make socks any other way now. I also found a short-row technique that eliminates the pesky wrapping of the best-known technique. The short row technique is shown here, and the toe-up technique is used in this (pdf) pattern.

Let's see if I can get some knitting done this evening. Heh.

05 September 2006


If you're viewing this with Internet Explorer, the nifty little progress segment I added to the sidebar won't look as spiffy as it should. Firefox and Opera, however, show it the way it's supposed to be.

This does not surprise me.

The brown bag isn't coming out quite the way I had envisioned, but I think I'll stop futzing with it and just let it be. I realized just how slow a knitter I am when I spent roughly six hours making a piece with an area of roughly two square feet. In stockinette. On US#11 needles. Kill me.

half of the bag

My OCD is screaming at me for not planning out the color progression better, but my creative side kind of likes the "whoops, this is suddenly more orangey" unpredictability. Since this bag will be felted, I'm not too worried about the color shifts sticking out like sore thumbs. Besides, I think I'm going to have a big flap covering most of the front anyway. What you don't see can't make you crazy, right?


This is a closer look at the coloring. I think it'll felt quite nicely.


I do still have that chestnut skeinlet tucked away. The idea of using it as a focal point on the flap is sounding better and better. I may have to go on a treasure hunt in the attic to find some more yarn, though... this bag is eating it up pretty quickly.

04 September 2006

Bad cam! Bad!

When I said my webcam was low-quality, I meant it. Evidence:

Zee sleeve, eet ees finished!

That's a finished sleeve of the hoodie. I'm going to leave the top un-bound-off (is there a word for that?) so I can just grab those stitches to bring the cable up over the hood. That's the plan, anyway. Assuming I figure out the logistics, I'll do something similar with the body... my sensitive neck hates seams that join body to hood.

The brown bag has been re-thought and re-started, with a decent amount of progress today.

the beginning of the brown bag

The problem? I made a stupid mistake about eight rows ago. Frog-tastic. Because I'm using little sample skeinlets and holding two strands together, ripping out significant amounts is... interesting. Fortunately, this wool is "sticky"... it holds onto itself very well. As long as I don't get up in the middle of frogging, the tangled-looking pile of yarn stays remarkably untangled, making it easy for me to pick it up again as I re-knit.

zoomed view of brown bag

I mentioned that my cam is low-quality, right? This is the clearest shot I could get. Aren't you amazed at the broad spectrum of color to be had from natural dyes? ;) Well, natural dyes to be found within a few miles of my house, that is, and with no toxic/exotic mordants. There's a brilliant chestnut waiting in the bag, but I'm not sure how to work it into the otherwise-dull color scheme. Each skeinlet is only about nine yards, so there isn't a lot to work with. I suppose I could do an intarsia diamond in the center or something. Any suggestions?

A non-knitting-related note:

My thoughts are with the Irwin family today. Steve was a beloved part of my family's life through his television shows, and we were shocked and saddened by news of his death. He packed more activity into his 44 years than most people do in 80, and he died doing what he loved. I hope his passion inspires others to continue his mission to conserve nature and educate our youth about the natural world. Goodbye, Steve. We'll miss you.

03 September 2006


Sad news, folks: my sister has taken back her digital camera. This means that progress shots will be taken with my cheap, low-quality webcam. My inner photographer mourns.

I finished the sleeve last night, and it looks pretty good. Unfortunately, I'm almost out of charcoal yarn, and all of my earnings for the next month or two are spoken for already. (Rhinebeck, here I come!) Until I can afford more yarn, the hoodie is on hold.

Moving up the list of priority projects are the brown bag and two socks. One sock will complete a pair that will be a Christmas present for my mother, and the other will complete a pair of RenFaire stockings as a Yule present for myself. Speaking of holidays, I need to make a list of what I'm buying/making for people and work out a budget. I may need to skip a faire to afford supplies. Most of the purchases I make at Rhinebeck will be for gifts.

Time to curl up with my knitting and veg out for a while.

02 September 2006

Progress and Distraction

The sleeve isn't finished. It's close, though. I had to take out almost an hour's work to change the decrease pattern, so that set me back a bit. This was before I sat down to work tonight:

almost there

I worked on the brown bag earlier in the day, and in spite of the current piece being a 16-stitch-wide strip on US#11 needles, progress is very slow. The bag-to-be lives in a zippered bag to keep any of my furry babies from taking out the several dozen mini-skeins.

brown bag in the bag

I promise I'll give you a more chatty post soon. The clouds have been getting to me.

01 September 2006

Getting There

My Fair Intarsia gained a few rows today, and the cable solution I came up with seems to be working well.

graduated diamonds

I have grand ideas about connecting cables from the sleeves to the body over the seams, but I don't think I'm that brave/insane, so I'll probably taper the diamonds down at the top of the sleeve.

This project should be going a lot more quickly, but I got distracted and started something new. It will (hopefully) be a felted bag made with the ton of natural dye sample hanks I made for a 4-H project. It'll be... interesting, to say the least.

Sis and I are about to watch House, so the hoodie will get some more attention. Maybe I can have this sleeve finished by tomorrow's post.