I picked up the HerringboneCowl again. Close scrutiny of it revealed several things that displeased me. (Scissors are included as a pointer, also as something with hard edges for my camera to focus on.)
First, there was this. Believe me, it is much more obvious in real life.
Then there was this little mess:
But mostly there was this:
The first half dozen rows (bottom) look fine, which tells me that the pattern instructions contain the secret to making a seamless transition from K2tog in one round to K2togtbl in the next and vice versa. Apparently after that first half dozen rows I decided that I knew what I had to do and no longer looked at the directions.
If I were making this for myself I might let it go, since I generally subscribe to the galloping horse theory of knitting. But it is for Alex, and I just cannot give such a substandard piece of knitting to a loved one.
Frog pond, here I come*!
* But I am only going to frog back to the good part. I may have perfectionist tendencies but I ain't stupid.
I finished knitting Alex's Kill Bill scarf. (If you are reading this, Alex -- here it is!)
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Tough Love sock yarn, "Kill Bill" colorway (no longer available Pattern:Cinnamon Grace Needles:Signature US#3 circ
The pattern was well-written, the knitting was nearly mindless (my favorite kind), the yarn was pleasant, the Signature needle was a dream. All in all, a successful project.
The pattern has the knitter make a slipstitch along the straight edge. Early in the knitting I had trouble keeping track in my mind as to which edge that was, so that straight edge -- the one that does not get a ruffle -- was not as neat it should have been.
The bits sticking out are stitches where I did... something other than what I should have done.
So I got brave and dropped down that edge stitch.
I didn't do it recklessly; first I experimented dropping down just a few rows. When I found it was easy to pick up that edge stitch again, I got braver and dropped down farther (above)
Behold, a neat slip-stitch edge!
Fixing something right at the edge of knitting has always intimidated me. I feel more confident now.
That is Alex's lovely hand above. I made these for her from the same yarn I used for her hat and cowl last winter. Great pattern, fast to knit*, impressive result. I have plans to make myself a pair from the same yarn in my stash but in blue. These are the BEST fingerless mitts I have ever knit -- I loved making them and I will love wearing mine.
* "Fast to knit", assuming the knitters does not miscross cables -- and who among us has NOT miscrossed a cable or three? -- or lose her place in the pattern. I ended up rewriting the pattern to demarcate the cable panel from the stockinette portion, after which I did not lose my place again.
After searching the blog it seems to me that I never showed you photos of Alex's lace shawl after it was blocked. How I could have forgotten to do this is a mystery, since this is a project of which I am over-proud. If pride were a sin, I am doomed. Oops.
And now, the money shot.
Pattern:Haruni by Emily Ross Yarn: Dream in Color Baby in 'Spring Tickle' Needle: Signature US#4 circ, an awesome needle. Mods: None (on purpose; a few inadvertent ones that of the type that are usually referred to as "mistakes")
I am a charter member of the apostrophe police, and I currently trying to find out who I need to arrest for this egregious overuse of the little curvy devils.
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This year's birthday was quite restrained, but Smokey and I did go out for dinner at a very picturesque location nearby. Tthe menu turned out to be unimaginative, but the food was excellent and the setting was lovely.
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The shawl is slowly coming off the needles, which leads me to the all important question: what to cast on next? Should it be the sweater on the left but done with vertical stripes like the swatch on the right (please turn the swatch 90˚ clockwise in your mind), using the Noro yarns below?
Alex has requested a rugby-style doggie sweater for Percy, her and Matthew's rescued pit bull terrier, and has chosen yarn from my stash:
I am all excited about lace knitting and am considering using some Rowan Calmer I bought on closeout at Webs for a Cece (but I would make it longer and with 3/4 sleeves):
(I am not fond of the color of the Calmer -- color at right side of skein is truest -- and am thinking of overdyeing it. Tea, for a browner tone? Rit, if I wanted dusky blue? Anyone have experience?)
There are a number of other project swimming in my head but I'll stop here.
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I picked these wild blackberries three feet outside my front door.
I have two finished scarves, one for me and one for the Red Scarf Project, but you are not going to see them until they are blocked and attractively staged. Instead I will catch you up on other matters.
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The other Olde Tyme Photo, this one of The Young Couple.
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Last week Smokey asked me what I had planned for Friday. Nothing, I replied. Good, he said, I need you to drive me to the VA in Minneapolis. He was scheduled for an epidural injection of local anesthetic and steroids into his lower back in hopes of relieving his near-constant pain, and they would not perform the procedure unless he had someone to drive him home afterwards. He was apologetic about commandeering my day (I know you have other things to do) but all I could think was, I'll have to hang around the VA all day. Knitting time!
Such are a knitter's thoughts.
The procedure went fine, no reactions or after effects, and he ended up being the one to drive us back to Wisconsin after all. It has been two days now and he says it is a miracle to be able to stand up and walk pain free. If this hadn't worked, the next step would have been surgery. The pain stems from an old injury suffered when he fell off a ladder in the mid-1980s. X-rays have shown that there are vertebrae in his back that are nowhere near being in a proper lineup. Age, weight, and rheumatoid arthritis have combined in the past few years to make that injury a source of pain that sometimes even Vicodin doesn't touch. He (and I) are hopeful that he can resume a normal active life again: there are cars to be fixed! home repairs to be done! walks to take! trips to be traveled! The effects are temporary and the procedure has to be repeated every X months, but it is sooo much better than the alternative as long as it works.
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Last Sunday I worked at the country fair, first at the library Friends booth, then at the booth for the energy fair later this month. It was hot, and as far as I know, there is only one small office in the entire fair park that is air conditioned; I was not in that office. It was very hot. It was very humid. Think Louisiana swamp hot and humid.
I saw this sign in the fair society's office:
It made me smile in spite of my dripping brow.
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Yesterday I helped at a pet adoption event at the local branch of Tractor Supply Company. (Click on that link today -- Sunday, August 7 -- and sign up for a chance to win a year's supply of pet food.) I was at the booth of the county's designated animal shelter (county rep on their board), and they were there as part of Tractor Supply Company's annual P.A.W. -- Pet Appreciation Week. There were two or three other shelters and rescue organizations there as well. We all had a good time visiting each other's animals and, of course, talking to the people who stopped at our display and were interested in pets.
A few extremely poor photos taken with my iPod. This is Lulu, a 1-year-old energetic Boston terrier cross female scheduled to be neutered on Wednesday (shhh, don't tell her):
Meet Wendy, an adorable 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier spayed female:
I do not care for energetic, short-haired dogs -- I want my animals to be calm and furry -- but Wendy was an awfully nice little dog. A couple came by and were as taken with her as I was. They have a special needs child, aged 10, who needs a pet and were seriously considering Wendy. She may have a home soon.
Mary, the shelter director, with Margo, a beagle cross, and Linda, a volunteer dog walker, with Margo's leash (Linda, I apologize for the less-than-flattering photo, but I was concentrating on the dogs):
Angie, this sweet three-year-old spayed female Pug, went home with her new owner, who had found her on Petfinders and had been telephoning back and forth with the shelter for two weeks to settle the adoption. Yay for Angie (and Charlie, her new brother, a basset)!
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And now, if you will excuse me, I need to go sit on the deck and knit. It is finally getting cool enough to be outdoors by choice.
I got carded last night when I ordered a Negro Modelo with my burrito bowl at Chipotle. x
It was not enough that they looked at my birthday (which was in the first half of the last century), they had to check the restrictions on the license, too. WTF? x
I pointed at my graying hair, but then the manager said they had to check the restrictions. Since when do drivers licenses say anything about whether the holder can have a beer? x
At the office today. So far I have had a 20-minute meeting with my HR person to discuss my schedule, exchanged my laptop for a loaner while they set up a new laptop for me (old one's lease is up), and... and... checked my email about a gazillion times. Because I have nothing else to do. x
All in all, I've done about 2 hours of work ::commence tapping fingersnails on desk:: x
That's a lot different than what it was like on, say, April 1. Or what it will be like on September 10. Or October 10. x
I think I prefer the busy times. x
I knitted a couple rows on The Lace Shawl last night. x
I almost knitted a couple more this morning before I came in to the office. x
Then I reminded myself that there are 533 stitches in each row. And I needed to leave for work in 15 minutes or my parking cost would double. x
No knitting this morning. x
Having lunch with BGFE today. #2 Son is participating in a 24-hour bike race in Milwaukee. x
I sincerely hope the humidity is lower there. It's at least 110% here. x
Horribly uncomfortable, even when the temperature is 72 degrees. x (later) x
Back from lunch with BGFE (need to change that to Best Fiance Ever) today. Date set (6/7/13), dress picked, registry begun, venue auditioning started. x
I am kinda glad I am the mother of the groom. No need to be responsible for the planning; need only to be interested and offer opinion when solicited. Excellent for someone as lazy/low energy as I. x
Two years to organize a mother-of-the-groom dress. Even I can do that. x
My new laptop is ready. Time to go home! (I think I may be the only person actually in the tax department right now anyway. Such are Friday afternoons in summertime...) x
I am slowly catching up on blog reading, where catching up = reading the blogs in my Google Reader Must Read folder and hitting Mark as read on all the rest. Or maybe it is the other way around, I'm not sure. The heat and humidity here are playing havoc with my brain.
I need to walk down the stairs, out the front door, into the mini-mini-motorhome and retrieve the bag of dirty clothes so I can do the laundry. Because I am wearing my last clean pair of underwear. (Knew you wanted to know.) But I have been procrastinating on that task for 5 hours so far and there are no indications that it it going to happen soon. Heat and humidity, you know...
In the meantime I am catching up on blog reading. Because that is the most important thing to do right now.
Not grocery shopping.
Not unpacking the m-m-mh.
Not clearing the wild raspberry bushes that have taken over Lucy The Wonder Dog's poop yard.*
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In knitting news, I now understand in a visceral way why people like knitting lace. It.Is.Addicting. As I emailed to BGFE earlier today, once I got into the flow of knitting the lace shawl it became like a good crossword puzzle or a particularly complex tax return: a challenge, but one that I knew I could work through.
I find myself scrutinizing things on Ravelry that involve lace. Scary, I know.
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One teeny-tiny bit of news: #2 Son and BGFE are engaged (!)
We were notified by an email from #2 Son last Friday. I saw the subject line -- "I'm engaged" -- and burst out with something dignified like, Holy sh!t! Matthew's engaged! Smokey and I couldn't be happier for the two of them. They are so obviously delighted together and good with each other. They say they won't be tieing the knot for a couple of years, though, until she is through school.
The happy family group, pre-engagement, in Hill City, SD:
* Lucy cannot even get into it at present. Smokey has had to take her down the stairs and out the front door to the other side of the house, and that is not easy when one has rheumatoid arthritis and incipient heat stroke.
Y'all saw the Citron when it was 99.47%done and I ran out of yarn. Well, thanks to the magic of the internet and Ravelry and family and friends, I was able to finish it exactly as written -- no fudging that last ruffle or binding off with a different color of yarn.
btw, blocking wires -- or, in my case, welding rods repurposed as blocking wires -- are Da Bomb.
A few days after I posted about running out of yarn, I got a message on Ravelry from loftysara, who lives in western North Dakota but used to live in the Twin Cities and worked at Banana Republic with BGFE (remember her?). BGFE must have mentioned to her that I was knitting something for her and told her how to look me up on Ravelry and Sara started reading the blog. Remember, loftysara and I have never met. So I get a message from her saying she has that exact yarn and would I like it... but it is living with her parents in Minnesota. Yes, I reply, but I only need a few grams -- how can we work this out? Can I buy it/trade for it? I didn't get a reply and I kind of forgot about the whole thing. By this time tax season was whipping my ass and I had no time to knit anyway.
The next time #2 Son and BGFE came to visit, she handed me a hat crocheted from The Yarn! Turned out loftysara had gotten the hat to her but forgotten to reply to my reply.
So I was having breakfast with #2 Son and BGFE* and they excitedly told me about the yarn they had seen on their way to the diner on their bikes. That reminded me that today was InternationalYarnBombingDay. Nothing would do but that I took a detour on my way from the diner to Wisconsin to check out the reported yarn bomb.
It was awesome.
This is a pedestrian bridge over I-35W at 40th Street in Minneapolis.
His page may not get any bigger, though. He is no longer the assistant colorist, having been promoted to being the engineer for the firm. Now he is the guy responsible for making sure the million-dollar machines work properly, plus being the all-around computer guy. He loves this, and it suits his talents and temperment better. Win-win.
Why, yes, all the men in my life have beards. Doesn't everyone?
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Yesterday was the first day I sat on the deck and knitted. It was glorious.
It was actually a brilliant sunny day, but I waited until the sun went behind a cloud to take a photo. Otherwise my iPod camera would have shown you washed-out sunny areas and blacked-out shade. I was way too lazy and lace-obsessed to go into the house and get a proper camera.
The shawl for GF is no larger than the last time I showed it to you but not for lack of knitting. I have knat the last inch of it at least five times, maybe more. Yesterday, however, for the first time I felt like I was beginning to be able to read my knitting. That column of stitches that runs up through the center of the lace/pine cone motif? It should continue through the solid stockinette and become the center column of the subsequent lace/pine cone motif! Hallelujah and praise jeebus! If it doesn't (as happened on the right-hand half of the shawl) there is something wrong.* When I take my coffee and knitting out to the deck today** I hope to be able to break through the barrier that seems to hover around row 42.
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I finished a scarf and two pairs of socks since I last caught you up on my knitting, but they all remain to be photographed. You will have to wait with bated breath for another post on those.
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Smokey got himself a new watch.
Okay, now, all you former hippies: what is that watch face a replica of?
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Did I ever show you this?
* My eternal thanks to the commenter who suggested putting a marker between pattern repeats. That tip is the one that enabled the knit-reading.
** Or not. Today is 60˚ and cloudy. I may be knitting in the porch instead.::le sigh:: It's a tough life...
What happened, you ask? What about my phobia against lace?
I offered to knit something like a shrug for #2 Son's girlfriend and sent her a link to a search for shrugs on Ravelry. She came back with this. I gulped and immediately emailed back, Okay, now let's figure out the yarn. And we were on.
Happily, this pattern is fairly easy lace (I think; I am nothing if not inexperienced in lace). Yarnovers, k2tog, ssk, and an occasional double decrease -- all things I can do, no problem. It's the counting and paying attention that has always screwed me up in the past. But so far, so good. I never had to rip the whole thing out and start again, and I never had to tink back more than half a row. That last is because the shawl is exactly the same on both halves; the chart is for one half, and the knitter just repeats the chart on the second half of each right-side row, after the center stitch.
I find it intimidating every time I start a right-side row and immensely rewarding when I get to the end of the chart row and discover I have the right number of stitches. It will get a bit more difficult in a few rows, where I use just part of the chart and repeat it across the row. Might need to purchase some of that magic knitter's tape to help keep my place. So far, a couple large Post-its have been sufficient.
This opens up a whole new realm of knitting...(and I got to add a couple new categories on Typepad)
Many small projects are flying off the needles these days.
First was that headband for #2 Son's GF that turned out to be too narrow. I did some calculations, figured out a different edging, and decided that a cable worked in a panel of 14 stitches should be just about right. Paging through my Barbara Walker books, I came upon the perfect cable.
A closer look:
It fastens in the back with a button, a la Calorimetry.
I was inordinately clever with the button loop, if I do say so myself. As described in the post linked above, I had done a provisional cast on and worked until the length seemed right to begin the last bit, where the cable panel ends and the whole thing narrows down. I pulled out the provisional cast on and picked up those stitches (on the same circ, so for awhile I had both ends of the headband on the needle). I worked the narrowed end, improvising how to do it neatly and took a few notes so I could replicate it at the other end. When that was done, I tried it on my head and determined that it needed to be a bit longer. (My head is exactly the same sIze as GF. Isn't that special handy?) Another 20 minutes of knitting and the length was right. I followed my notes and decreased down to six stitches.
Next comes the inordinately clever part.
I put three of the stitches on a holder and made the button loop by working about an inch of i-cord on the other three stitches. Then I flattened the i-cord and kitchenered those three stitches to the first three stitches, thereby closing the loop. It turned out perfectly. Cat hairs added for verisimilitude; everything I knit includes animal hairs.
This is an awfully lot of blather about what is really a very small project, but since I designed it myself (and it turned out) I'm feeling rather proud.
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Next up was the second hat for Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads. It is 2x2 rib, almost identical to the first one except that it is deep slate blue instead of brown. No photo, just use your imagination. I finished it Friday night. Given the fireworks in Madison this past week, I think WHNHH is a very timely endeavor.
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After finishing the hat I knit on a sock for awhile. The Sunday a couple weeks ago before I went back to work I sort of panicked about how much the job would cut into my knitting time. Ack, less knitting time! What to do?
Clearly, the solution was to cast on for more projects: the headband, above; the hat just mentioned, the sock, and another little experiment that may or may not ever see the light of day.
Here is the sock in its present state of UFO-ness.
The sharp-eyed among you may notice that, while the toe of the sock has been reinforced with red reinforcing yarn, the half-done heel... has not.
I was working on this Friday night at Knit Night at the Yarnery in St. Paul, a delightful place to be and to which I was introduced a couple years ago by my friend soxanne. (We met at a Yarn Harlot event when her friend canceled because of bad weather and I ended up sitting next to her. We chatted and discovered that we both had blogs, and the rest, as they say, is history.) This is only the second time I have been able to attend Knit Night, but my work schedule this tax season -- which I have lain out in exquisite detail -- may permit me to attend at least one more time. I say, Yippee!
Anyway, I was knitting away on the sock whilst chatting and was congratulating myself on how well my short rows were working... and totally forgot about the reinforcing thread. I hope my short rows work as well the second time around...
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Last night I cast on for the second pair of felted slippers for my friend Colleen. It is a really fast pattern. I did the entire first slipper last evening, and I was in bed by 11:00.
Please excuse the shadow, bad photographer.
I should be able to finish the second one tonight, no problem. I'll see her on Wednesday morning; getting them felted and dried by then should be easy.
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The latest thing I cast on is this, which will be Citron when it grows up.
It will be a gift to our assistant librarian (sssh, if you read this, don't tell her -- she has no idea she will be getting it). The yarn is a skein of Misti Alpaca fingering weight I bought a couple years ago on our anniversary trip to the North Shore. Souvenir yarn, ya know? It took me several weeks of hard thought before I could give it up for this scarf. The color is absolutely perfect for her (she has red hair and wears a lot of browns), but I had previously decided that the yarn was going to be the bright color in this scarf for me, with charcoal for the contrast color. I had seen it (I think) on sophanne's blog and loved it. Really, though, it is better for the gift; I am not entirely sure I could wear a wool/alpaca scarf indoors without sweating to death. Plus, I have wanted to knit Citron ever since I first saw it. And I'm not the only one -- there are 6,102 projects in Ravelry!
The temperature in Minneapolis was, I think, around zero or colder every morning of this, my first week back at work. Thanks, weather gods, for giving me such a memorable welcome.
Note: photo above is Lucy at the lake house, not in Minneapolis. The only difference is that the snow in Minneapolis is dirtier and piled higher.
Just to give you an idea of what sub-zero temperatures are like:
The inside of one's nose frosts up when one inhales;
When I get home after work I tend not to get really warm again until I am in bed under a couple comforters (the radiator in the bedroom has been turned off for a couple years and now the handle doesn't turn; I may need to employ Large Tools);
The digital read-out on my car radio changes v-e-r-y slowly, if at all, when I change radio stations;
On Thursday morning, the coldest one so far, the driver's window, which I had put down so I could see the outside rear-view mirror, would not go back up. I had to pull up on the button with one hand and pull the window itself with the other. I did NOT want to get onto the freeway with an open window.
Last night I came back home to Wisconsin; temperature on the only outdoor thermometer I saw was -3˚ F. For various reasons I had a lot of trouble warming up once I got home. Three comforters, two pairs of sweats including a hoodie with the hood UP, wool knee socks, a dog, and two cats... and I finally got warm. It was the second set of sweats and the hood that did it.
Today I am still in the sweats and wool socks and perfectly comfortable.
Look what the wind has done to the snow that piles up on the railing outside my office:
That black silhouette is En Esch glaring at me. Why are you messing around with that little box? Why are you not petting me?
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I came upon this video in praise of Minneapolis over at twentytwowords.com. #2 Son says he knows a couple people in the video -- the bicyclist and his girlfriend, of course.
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In knitting news, by request I made a headband for #2's GF. She picked out the pattern on Ravelry but asked that it be wider. I recommended Malabrigo worsted for purely selfish reasons -- I had never knit with it -- and she picked out a gorgeous teal color (called "Aguas" at the link). My efforts at widening the pattern were for naught. Take it away, Bubbles!
(Bubbles's head is significantly smaller than Alex's; when the headband is stretched a bit more, as it would be on Alex's head, the seed stitch edging lies down flat. So I tried again, this time with a wider cable and a different edge treatment. Perfect -- 3-1/2 inches wide, just like she asked for!
The cable is one from Barbara Walker. The edge is (on the right side) sl1, p1, k1, p1, k1, (cable panel) k1, p1, k2.
After I finish the cabled section I will pull out the provisional cast on and knit both ends at the same time, tapering them to a point. A button loop at the end of one, a button on the other. I'll give both headbands to her; if she doesn't want the narrower one I'll reclaim the yarn and dream about what to make from it and the rest of the skein.
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I finished the first hat for Warm Heads, Not Hot Heads last weekend. It can be worn with the brim flipped up or down, depending on the head size of the wearer.
My mittens. One done to the thumb, the other nearly so.
I have never cared for that method of finishing a mitten where it comes to a point, but I was at a loss for a better one. I have since discovered a decrease method I like better; perhaps I'll frog that last 1.5" and redo it.
Child's washable wool hat and mitten set, due a week from today for a community project.
The mitten is the Target Mitten pattern from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature. I hope it does not require a child with a hand mounted at 90˚ to her hand to fit. First mitten done, second still requires a thumb. Hat, ribbing done; it will be the Sunflower Tam from that same book. I have a plan to make it even more amazing than the original. Hat and mittens knit from more leftovers, mostly from the same Berrocco Vintage that was left over from the baby sweater. Knit from stash, yay!
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This is from Thanksgiving Day, when Alex and Matthew were making cornbread to go with the enchiladas. Matthew posed his elbow thusly so I could get an action shot of him breaking an egg.