Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wrapped Up

I must be getting faster at one-handed knitting, because I've already reached the point where I can't go further till I have my hand back on several projects! None of which I have photographed...

So I'll distract you with this:

Wrap Cardi

Sorry for the built-in camera photography! But can you see the button closure at all? I tried Gale's suggestion of toggle button and i-cord loop, and I think it mostly works. There's an hidden button to keep the inside front in place, and I don't think the placement is quite right yet, but I like it otherwise.

I'm not sure about writing it up. It's a top-down raglan and it always feels a little artificial to write up top-down raglan patterns for specific sizes, since the size can be adjusted so easily by working more or fewer increase rounds before you separate the sleeves. But then it feels like cheating to write that Like it's one step removed from a scarf pattern that says cast on X stitches, work in garter stitch till desired length is reached, then stop. But on the other hand one of the sweaters I wear the most is exactly that kind of pattern, and I was happy to buy that...

And on the third hand (I wish!), I think it turned out well, and it's a flexible shape that would work in lots of yarns and on lots of different body shapes (I think?), so maybe I will. Somehow though, the idea of typing up patterns one-handed seems like too much work. (Don't remind me that knitting one-handed would feel like too much work to any normal person, ok?)

Anyway... back to my "too many projects I need to put on hold" problem... only never mind, I'll wait till I have pictures!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Little-known Side Effect

I usually try have just 2 or 3 projects going at a time--it's enough that I can switch when I get bored, but not so many that I never finish anything (and that includes everything--I don't have any long-term UFOs). But apparently startitis is a side effect of broken bones, because I suddenly have more works-in-progress than usual:

1. The sock from the video, using the Spunky Eclectic yarn I nearly used for the chevron scarf (started 2 days ago). It's plain stockinette stitch, except for the ribs. If I somehow get to the heel before my splint is off, it will have an afterthought heel since a heel seems too fiddly.

2. A vest for me from my handspun (started before the hand incident). I thought I'd just set this aside, but I've done the armhole shaping one handed. I'm not so sure about sewing the shoulders together or finishing the neck and arms. Not that the stitch pattern shows here, but there are ribs on the lower body and ridges one the upper body.

3. The harvest gold blob from last week, which is the base of a felted wreath (started 1/23, because it seemed easy).

4. A secret thingy, for a present (started 1/22, because it seemed easy).

5. The red/orange Heather socks (started 1/2, currently on hold because the yarn/needle/pattern/broken hand combo seems like a recipe for disaster).

6. Swatches for a sweater for Schaefer (pre-hand, currently on hold because my gauge is wacky).

OK, maybe it's not SO many, but it's twice or three times what I'd usually have, and most of them are going to reach a point where they need to wait till I have my hand back, so I'll just have to cast on more projects. Which will mean millions of FOs in quick succession once I can finish things... won't that be exciting?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Higher Tech

A coworker, to whom I am eternally grateful because I really missed socks, sent Kevin home with her fly-tying pedestal vise. And we made a tiny movie.

Naturally, when he started filming me I immediately dropped a stitch, so I think I only knit one stitch total.

The doctor said this morning that my wrist looks good, but I still can't use that hand for typing or knitting (so no work till next week). I can, however, take off my fancy new removable splint to bathe. You have no idea how exciting that is!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Low Tech

So it turns out that holding the other needle in my knee works better than the clamp, mostly b/c it's easier to turn--no unclamping needed, I just unbend my leg. And it means I can knit on the couch.

This is the beginning of the wreath from Felt Forward (the yarn and book were part of my xmas knitting loot). Someday, it will look like this:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

no caps

so, i went to see the orthopedist later yesterday, and he doesn't want me to use my hand at all till the bones start to heal in the right place (well, he said i could button my clothes, but nothing else). so no knitting for that hand! but since i knit so weirdly, i think i can do it with just my left hand and a stationary needle... so i'm going to try clamping one needle to tables and desks and whatnot. i foresee many garter st rectangles in my future!

i'm especially obsessed with this because because i can't type with my right hand either either, so i'm home from work. one handed typing is also my excuse for abandoning capitalization.

i've tested spinning, and it works ok because i do the delicate parts of drafting with my left hand. my right hand just supports the rest of the roving and keeps it in place. so i can stack pillows in my lap to the height of my sling and rest my whole right forearm on top of the roving. it feels clumsy, but my left-handed mousing has improved dramatically since yesterday, and i bet this will too--muscles are a lot smarter than they seem.

what's really fun is showering--i have this vinyl cast cover thing (stylish, isn't it?). it's brilliant, but way too long (my splint doens't event reach my elbow), so there's a lot of extra vinyl flapping around. but isn't it amazing that these exist at all?

thanks so much for all your good wishes. impressively, it's never actually hurt. it was a little twinge-y before they put the splint on, and now it sometimes feels like it's been sitting in one place for too long (perhaps because it has?), but no actual pain. hurray, because i am a big wimp about imagining how much things will hurt!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish for

Remember when I said that at the beginning of a long run I often think, if only I could break my ankle and not have to do this?



I tripped while running this morning, cut open my chin (it looks like 6 sts), and broke the bone along the pinky side of my hand. Since Kevin was there, I went to the doctor, rather than telling myself it probably wasn't that bad, and that going to the doctor would be overreacting.

I did knit a little while I waited, but it kinda hurt (perhaps because my hand was broken?). The real question is whether I can knit with the splint (if not, boy, will I be cranky! Although I'm pretty sure I'll be able to spin.)

And it turns out that I might have still wanted to run with a broken ankle--the first thing I asked the doctor about the split was whether I could still work out!

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Pattern on TGB

Work has been a flurry of activity lately, so all I want to do at home is knit garter stitch (not such a bad thing: I finished the blue shawl last night, and will try to take pictures over the weekend). But all that garter stitch does mean that I haven't been blogging in the evenings, so this isn't exactly new news. But, I wrote up the pattern for the shawl I made for Kevin's grandma, and it's now available on the Garter Belt.

Yarn: About 350 yards of sock yarn (I used Anne, from Schaefer Yarns)

Needle: US size 6

Size: 48 inches along the long side, 24 inches deep at the point

Price: $4

Also, if you want to buy the pattern, have an Etsy account, and would like to do me a favor, could you try to buy it through Etsy, here? I should have it set up right, but it feels like something is missing. And of course Etsy/Paypal won't let you buy from yourself, so I can't check (and I'll have to think of a new way to launder money, darn it!). It still costs $4. Merci buckets!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I'm still waffling about how to close the jacket. I really liked Gale's idea about toggles and i-cord loops--I keep thinking of those button closures on internal mail envelopes (the ones with a button on the flap and one on the envelope and the little string you wind around the buttons). If I found the right buttons (and lived through the i-cord), I wonder if that would work? or maybe crocheted cord, if I-cord would be too thick?

Buttons are kind of a theme lately, for some reason. My mother-in-law gave me two ceramic buttons for Christmas, and by chance one of them matches my piCardi and the other my Garnstudio Jacket (good thing too--I'm using a hair accessory to keep the jacket closed in that picture!).

But I don't want to take them away from where they match so well, and besides the wrap jacket is a different kind of gray. A while a go I made some buttons out of Sculpey. They weren't perfect, but that might be fun to try again. Or maybe the Internets has something? (although I hate to buy buttons without knowing whether the idea will even work--I'd need two, which might make that side of the jacket heavy).

Anyway. Still thinking about that, obviously.

The blue blob grows apace--I finished the darker blue yarn from yesterday and decided to use the tweedy brown/blue/purple yarn next. Of course after I'd knit about half of that I thought how fun it would have been to switch yarns gradually, alternating skeins to soften the color change (knitting 2 rows/1 ridge of the second color before the first was completely used up, then working ridges in alternate colors till the first yarn was used up, eventually finishing up the first and continuing with only the second). Maybe next time!

And I borrowed EZ's Knitting Almanac and Knitting Without Tears from my friendly local knitting library. I know I read KWT about 18 months ago, and I'm pretty sure I've read the Knitter's Almanac too (possibly when I was in middle school?), but this time I really just want to play around with the instructions/notes. Oddly, I'm especially interested in the re-footable socks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Almost Wrapped Up

Great progress on the wrap sweater front (front! ha-ha!) this weekend! I finished the border--which seemed to take forever because the rows were quite long--at SnB yesterday, and blocked it last night. So it's finally un-squished, and photographable.

Thinking and Blocking

Normally I would not block this much (this is the second time!), but I'm still thinking about how to keep it closed, and I want to know how it will behave. The longer I think about miles of i-cord or seed stitch ties, the more appealing scotch tape seems, but I'll try to do better than that. Currently, I'm contemplating some kind of frog out of i-cord, because I think seed stitch ties might seem wimpy and last minute compared to the weight of the borders. I don't think I have enough yarn left over for double knit ties (or enough patience).

In the mean time, I've started a garter stitch shawl out of 2 kinds of handspun plus one skein of Christmas yarn from my friend Molly. The bluer ones are the handspun and the silvery-brown with purple flecks is the present.

Tangled Up in Blue

I'm essentially making the triangular shawl where you start with seven or so at the back of the neck, then increase one on each end and two in the center, except that I started with more stitches so my center increases are ten stitches apart. Kind of a top-down Faroese shawl, but without the shoulder shaping. Clear as mud, right? For some reason I was feeling anit-point when I started, but still basically wanted a triangle. I have a half circular shawl at work and I kind of miss having tie-able ends.

I started with the darker blue, and was going to use the gray blue next, then the tweedy one, but looking at the colors in the picture I wonder if the tweedy one should go in the middle (that would also mean the tweedy band could be wider... since that's the one I have the least of, putting it at the bottom where the rows are longest may not a be a good idea).

Hmmm... either way, right now it's just a blue blob. Kind of a big blob, actually, because I'm using size 10 needles, and it feels like it's zipping along.

In between, I'm still contemplating what kind of vest to use my other handspun for, and inching towards needing to make a decision about the legs and cuffs of my current socks (the redish, orangeish ones). For socks I tend to pick a stitch pattern and stick with it, but I think this pattern might want to evolve into something slightly different as it moves up the leg. Or maybe not--it's hard to tell with stitch patterns.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

From Depths of My Cell Phone

In the absence of anything both new and photogenic, I present a recent cell phone discovery: a sweater I designed for Schaefer in May 2006.

Very Red!

At the time, it seemed insanely bright, but in retrospect (or through the intervention of the cell phone camera), it seems much more restrained. I still probably wouldn't make one for myself in this color combo, but that's definitely me: on top of the red thing, I wear stripes so infrequently that when I do I announce it to Kevin periodically throughout the day ("Kevin! Stripes! Stripes are sporty!" Poor Kevin.) So he probably doesn't want me to make this either.

Without taking any photographic evidence, I decided to block the wrap cardigan from a couple of days ago (after I finished the second sleeve), to see how long it would really be, and what the sees stitch and non-seed stitch hems would look like post block. Plus, blocking gave me time to think about whether to redo the lower hem in seed stitch without feeling like I should just pick one and do it already.

Blocked, it turned out that I liked the plain hem too, and think it's a better option for me (and probably most other people too, since the seed stitch hems attract the eye and add a little volume--not what anyone wants for their hips). So I picked up a million stitches around the fronts and neck, and got started on that hem (which will be seed stitch).

Two rows of a million stitches each made me want to start something new, so I swatched some of my blue/purple handspun. I even blocked my swatch! I think I have about 350-375 yards, so I'm thinking about a vest. I like Garnstudio #102-11 which has a shawl collar and belt (and which might very well be terrible on me, now that I look at it again). But I don't think I have nearly enought yarn, so I may just make up a standard vest shape. Or something... I haven't decided yet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Quandary

Here's part (the boring part, admittedly) of the wrap sweater I've been doodling.

See? Boring!

I finished the body with a simple turned up hem--I knit to the length I wanted, purled a row on the wrong side, knit some more, then bound off and sewed the hem inside. I'd planned all along to do something more interesting on the cuffs, but nothing really spoke to me, so once the first one was long enough (about 3/4 length, to conserve yarn and because I always push up my sleeves anyway), I worked 3 inches of seed stitch. I tried just binding off, but it looked funny, so I worked a purl row, then a facing, and sewed it down.

It turns out that it's amazing! The yarn is squishy and the variegation works really well with seed stitch. I'm definitely doing that on the front edges (I was planning to have the cuffs and front edges the same all along). I'm leaning towards seed stitch for the ties, although I hate knitting narrow strips more than anything, so I may try i-cord or fabric first (if I can find good fabric).

But there's just one problem: I think I might also want this edging on the lower edge (and if I did that I'd lengthen the body a smidge too)... but the yarn doesn't really stand up to ripping, and I'm kind of lazy--I'm not crazy about reworking the lower edge. Especially since I'm not quite sure (and if it turns out I don't like the seed stitch, that's another round of ripping, since I don't think I have enough not to reuse what I rip).

So I've been thinking hard about this as I've worked on the second sleeve. And since I'm working on the cuff now, I'll have to decide soon!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Magic Toe Mystery

First off, thanks all your comments about trusting the pattern (and reassurance about the meanies). No single person has really written an email quite that obnoxious (but they've been close), although one woman really did say that she'd had other knitters review what she'd done and they all came up with the same wrong numbers she did. Which isn't that surprising, actually--it's hard to interpret directions for yourself when you have one possible interpretation sitting in front of you (but there's still no reason to be rude).

So, I'm knitting yet another pair of socks, with Scheafer Heather...

As an aside, the tag says to hand wash, but I have a theory that it could be carefully machine washed... especially by someone who would not be heartbroken to trade longest possible sock life for convenience)... I will report back after I wash a swatch (I am not crazy--I'm willing to lose some time off the end of my socks' life, not ruin them immediately).

Anyway, new socks. I started on bamboo needles but it turns out that Heather, this stitch pattern, and I are happier working with metal needles. I used a regular figure-eight cast on, like I usually do for toe ups. (Toe-ups? Apparently, hyphens should not be used unless the would-be hyphenated phrase/word is modifying a noun. Is that true? I would love to follow a rule, rather than hyphenating at random!)

Anyway again, regular figure-eight cast on. I've tried Judy's magic cast on, but I'm not as comfortable doing it as the regular F-8 CO (but that would come with time). More significantly, I don't prefer the appearance of one over the other, so I just go back to the F-8.

But now I'm confused. I was re-reading Judy's article, and I noticed again that one of the things she was trying to avoid was the blank space she gets between the first two purl rows with a F-8 CO. I don't get a blank space, although I do go back to tighten up that first row once I get going (I think this part is kind of fun, but maybe that's just me). See?

Weird, huh?

And here's the outside. Purty yarn!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Small Rant

I've been following the discussion on Donna's blog (part 1 and part 2), and was going to post a comment but then got a little wordy. So I'm going to write here instead. To sum up, she wrote about how stressful she finds tech editing knitting patterns, because there are so many places errors can be introduced, and because she worries about the errors lurking in her patterns that no one's noticed yet.

I'm the queen of worrying about the moment when what I've done (which has seemed fine up till that point) will suddenly be revealed as inadequate, so of course I worry about this too.

So you can imagine how much I dread opening emails about my patterns. The vast majority (of the tiny percentage of the tiny number of knitters who knit my patterns and then decide to write me) are just saying they like their FOs, and maybe sending me pictures, and once I peek at the email through the cracks between my fingers and can see that, it's fine. I love those emails after I open them. (Especially pictures, and links to blog posts! Send more!)

Of course I've gotten a few emails pointing out mistakes and/or things I've explained weirdly. I've fixed the mistakes, and have changed the way I explain things for the future. While these emails confirm my worries, I'm happy to be able to correct things and spare the next knitter.

But sometimes the knitter thinks there's a mistake in the pattern where there isn't one, and for some reason those emails are always rude.

Dear Rebecca,

You idiot! Your pattern is stupid, your math abilities are non-existent, and your stitch counts don't add up. I had 12 stitches and I decreased 2 and I have 9 left, not 10 like your pattern says! Every knitter I know has read the directions and they agree that there should be 9 stitches after the decreases. Fix it before I waste any more time on your pattern, which is ugly anyway!

A Knitter

So I recheck my math, then write back explaining how first you have 12 and you decrease 1 and have 11, then decrease 1 a second time and have 10, as many different ways as I can. I'm polite, in case it turns out that I've checked my math incorrectly, and the pattern really does have a mistake.

No one has ever written back to say thanks for my time, apologize for having called me an idiot, or even acknowledge that they got my email. Argh! Couldn't they have been polite, just in case?

My other least favorite email is only least favorite in retrospect. Every so often I'll get am email from someone who doesn't understand a step in my directions. I review the directions, then write back explaining the step in another way, and pointing out blogs and websites with other explanations or instructions with pictures, then send it off to the knitter, feeling helpful.

Mostly, they just write back thanks, but couple of times they've emailed back, "Thanks! I'm sure this will help when I get to that step!" I understand that it's important to read through and understand directions before you begin, but it's also important to have some faith in your abilities and in the pattern, and believe that once you reach the step that seemed confusing and can do the directions as you read them, it may make sense. If it doesn't, that's the time to ask for help.

In this case, I guess it's not actually the knitters I'm bothered by, but the writers of learn to knit books who tell you to understand the pattern before you begin. You do need to understand some things (the abbreviations, whether there are any "and at the same time..." directions, and which parts of the pattern apply to you, etc), but I don't think you necessarily need to understand how the directions turn into the knitted item. Maybe it works for some people, but my brain isn't quite spatial enough that I could visualize how heels worked the first time I read sock directions, or that I could see how an amoeba folded into a baby surprise jacket. But it still worked when I did it--and now that I've made a socks and turned an amoeba into a jacket, I get it. I don't think the learn to knit authors meant "be able to visualize" by " understand," but who knows!

So, how much do you try to understand before you start knitting?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Knitting in the Car

Wow, but it's been a while. Blogging feels weird!

The K & R Travelfest '07 continued till New Year's--I was in Maumee, Ohio when I wrote before, then we went on to Columbus, then North Carolina, then DC, then back home. We got back between 1 and 2 AM on the 31st (I started unpacking anyway, till it became clear that our upstairs neighbors were not amused), mostly lazed around at home on Monday, barely stayed awake till midnight, then leapt out of bed on Tuesday to run a New Year's Day race two towns over (there wasn't actually much leaping--the race started at 11 AM, and we were nearly late).

I felt silly bringing so much yarn on our trip, but it turned out that I got to do all kinds of knitting, even when we weren't driving. I finished my Marigold socks on the way to Ithaca:

And then I tried to start a chevron scarf as my replacement easy project, but without much luck. I was trying to follow a printed pattern (from Last Minute Knitted Gifts), but I knit the first inch or so three times, switching up which yarn I used first and trying different kinds of increases (of course I forgot to take pictures). Once I found one I liked (I started the pattern with a purl row, so I could work the increases and decreases in the second row of the two-row stripe, but on the right side...), I decided that the contrast between the very multicolored Spunky Eclectic and the nearly solid STR made the STR read as totally solid--a waste, considering how great the subtle variation is when the yarn is on its own.

So I abandoned the scarf as my mindless knitting, in favor of some basic stockinette stitch socks--which I finished in North Carolina, wore immediately, and can't photograph till the laundry dries. Socks done, I started a top-down raglan with an improvised wrap front as my new mindless project.

I realized right after Christmas that it was just possible that I could finish Rachel's shawl in time to see her as we passed through DC on the 30th, provided I knit like a maniac the entire time I was in the car then minimized non-knitting compatible activities once we arrived in NC. (I worked on the socks during semi-knitting compatible activities, like computer shopping... salespeople will be talking about the lunatic with the knitting needles for months.)

Incredibly, I'd calculated correctly, because I finished the shawl the evening of our last day in NC, blocked it overnight, wrapped it up, and gave it to my sister at dinner the next day.

Here it is blocking (the stripes helped--the edges are mostly parallel), but I didn't get any pictures of my sister wearing it.

In the car on the way home, I decided I didn't like the increases in the top-down raglan (picky-ness about increases and decreases seems to be a theme), so I unraveled it to start over. That meant there were a few minutes when I didn't have any projects on the needles. I thought about trying not to cast on anything else till the first (wouldn't it be interesting to start the New Year with no works in progress? OK, maybe only to me... I think it's been since right after college that I spent more than a few minutes with nothing in progress), but we still had hours of driving at that point, so I started the sweater again. It's going fine now, by the way. I've finished the body to the waist, and no pooling so far.