Thursday, September 29, 2005

My New Home

My internet has been down since shortly after I blogged on Tuesday. I am just barely over the feeling of being disconnected from my knitting sisters. I'd like to say that I have all kinds of knitting to report about, but no. Still pondering what to do about Weasley (thanks for all the advice) and still working on those socks.

In case you missed my friend Kara's comment, there's a golden opportunity for us in Scotland, on Fair Isle. The Scottish government is offering two charming properties to let, for the paltry sum of $600 a year. (Check out this link for more information.)

One of my dream lifestyles is to live somewhere romantically bleak, very green, and very cold. I might be the only person to ever watch the movie The Shipping News with an intense urge to emigrate. I am one of those (possibly very few) people to layover at the Reykjavik airport and wish I were staying for a while. In another life, I think I may have lived in a little sod cottage, knitting Aran sweaters for someone who looked a little like a rugged version of this. So, this is more or less my fantasy home. Hey, how about a time share for knitbloggers? I know Olga could do with some cold weather.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

You Might Think I'm Crazy

I don't like it. I've knit all the front up to the neck, including this wonky initial, and one shoulder and started the other. And now I don't like it. It definitely needs more curve at the bottom (Minty and Erica, I should have listened to you.) Plus, the top of the J looks weird. And the tension is all messed up because I stranded instead of breaking the yarn after each row.

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the stitches in the middle of the front are on a separate holder. I've been thinking. Uh-oh. I wonder if I could frog just the stitches in the middle of the front, after inserting a lifeline, of course. This would leave some strands going across, but couldn't I just cut them? And then attach a new ball to reknit the middle with the initial, and knit in all those loose ends? Have I lost it?

Remind me. No more caffeine with dinner. It leads to these late night knitting manias.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sock Nirvana

So here are the toe-up socks that have been such a pleasure for me lately. I am carrying this project around with me everywhere: from room to room, while running errands, etc. Nonetheless, I don't seem to be making much progress. This could be because:
1. I am doing most of my knitting this week at stoplights (it's been that kind of week);
2. I am frantically skipping around between projects (socks, Weasley, Katrina squares, back again--but that's another post); or
3. every time I pick this up to work on it I can't resist trying it on and marvelling at it.

First, there are the little things about the toe-up technique that I find amazing, since this is my first time attempting it. The provisional cast on and short rows produce something that, to me, is nothing short of genius and perfection--a seamless toe. (Those seams can really bug me, even in machine-made socks.) There's the fact that the toe shaping looks rather strange, being more trapezoidal (if that's a word) than toes generally look, but nonetheless fits beautifully.

Second, I can't stop trying it on because I can see already that these are going to be the ne plus ultra of my sock wardrobe. The yarn is KnitPicks (do they rock or do they rock?!) Simple Stripes in Vineyard. So soft already, and I'll bet they'll be even softer after they've been washed. And the fit is so perfect. Sigh... If I ever stop admiring this, I might get to turning the heel. And knitting the other sock.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Alterknits and Other News

So, the Tiny Vest is finished, for the most part. I'm not so happy with it. It looks handknit, and not in a good way. I had some real problems with the edging on the armholes and neck. I tried to do an I-cord edging, but in spite of the fact that I own a bazillion knitting books, couldn't find directions that made any sense at all. Maybe Grumperina has done a tutorial. Anyway, I ended up doing a crocheted edge and I'm not thrilled. Also, I'm unhappy with the shoulder seams. Next time, I'm going to try three-needle bind off. But I am going to try blocking, and I'm thinking about making another one with different yarn and see if I like the results. I'd like to, eventually, develop and post patterns here. I was thinking of this little vest as my first attempt. We'll see.

Anyhow, in spite of the ridiculous size of my knitting library, I have bought a few new knitting books recently. I ordered Alterknits from Amazon, after hearing some good things about it. It is, in a word, yummy. The book is lush and gorgeous, from the binding to the photography. Radford's idea behind the book was to change the way she thought about knitting and take it into new areas. Some of the resulting projects are not for me (such as knitting with crepe paper), but some have unexpectedly lovely touches that spark the imagination. That's part of her mission--to get the reader to expand the boundaries of her craft and try new things. To that end, the book includes some creativity exercises. Some are frankly goofy (imagine yourself as a knitting superhero -- wait, I've already done that), others are inspiring. The book includes a creativity notebook, which is really just a little booklet of knitter's graph paper, for recording your ideas and responses to the exercises. It also includes some projects that are not strictly knitting, but knitting-related. One is the Recycled Sweater Felted Bag. (I have a Big Loser FO in my closet that I now have a happy use for--yay!) As eye candy and inspiration, it's amazing. Alterknits comes highly recommended.

Strangely, while I was working on the vest, another UFO was calling to me. For some reason, the toe-up socks that I put down when I joined the KALs were looking more alluring every minute. I've started carrying them around with me everywhere I go. Even doing just a couple rounds is so deliciously relaxing. Yesterday, I had a rather trying day, involving roofers who took me for a ride and stepping on an amazingly huge thorn in my yard. I felt that all I wanted to do was sit and knit my sock. That feeling is still with me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Dangers of Reading Fashion Magazines

Reading fashion magazines is a dangerous pursuit. I almost think that they should come with a warning label. Most obviously, and on a serious note, I believe reading this stuff does incalculable damage to girls' (and women's) self-esteem and body image. What female hasn't, at one time or another, closed a copy of Marie Claire or Harper's Bazaar feeling vaguely dissatisfied with themselves? Notwithstanding the fact that fashion journalism can make me feel fat, the magazines are also very effective at fattening my credit card balance. Let's face it, every single page is advertising, designed to make you want to buy things you don't really need. And I fall for it--I have an unfortunate tendency to head for the mall shortly after visiting the newsstand.

But here's a lesser-known danger of fashion magazine reading. It can make you neglect your knitalongs. It can exacerbate mild cases of startitis. I was reading Lucky, and saw an article about the layering look for fall. There was a feature about tiny chunky knit vests with flowy things underneath. How cute. But how likely is it that I will want to wear it next fall? Not very. I thought to myself, I could absolutely make one of those vests. From my stash.

Thus, Laura enters the world of design-your-own-knitwear. Callously, I cast Weasley and Kepler aside to work on this little project. Yarn harlot, indeed--I'm dumping these worthies for a knitting one-night-stand. This is a garment that Fiber Snobs are bound to hate: a trendy shape, bulky gauge, made with two strands of Lion Brand Wool-Ease worsted held together. But it will satisfy my desire to indulge in a trend, at low cost in terms of time and money. And it's fun to create your own design. When it's done, I'll have a big reveal. Meanwhile, I'm on my way to buy some flowy things to go with my new tiny vest.

Mais, Bien Sur!

I swear I did not cheat. See number five on this list.

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and a little sassy, you were meant for Paris.

The art, the fashion, the wine, the men!

Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...

You'll love living in the most chic place on earth

What City Do You Belong in? Take This Quiz :-)

Friday, September 16, 2005

We Have a Decision, and Public Service Announcements

Thanks everyone for your input on the Weasley sweater. I have decided not to frog, and to proceed as is. Here's why:

1. J doesn't even know who Harry Potter is, let alone whether his sweater will be just like Harry's.

2. I still have another chance to make one that looks just like the original--S's Weasley.

3. Have you noticed that on the blog button for Another Weasley, the initials on Harry and Ron's sweaters are right up in the middle of their chests?

4. It will still be a nice sweater.

5. Too many other damn KALs (see sidebar).

6. As Carolyn much yarn, so little time. For a variation on this reason, take a looky at this lovely WIP on Christine's blog.

Moving along to the PSA portion of this post...

Speaking of lace...there is a neat thread on Knitter's Review forum about what drives lace knitters to knit lace. I have been thinking for a while, especially from reading Carolyn's blog and Yarn Harlot, that I would like to give lace a try. But this thread, and seeing Christine's River-in-Progress, may have just tipped the scale. The way the lace knitters on the forum articulated their love for this type of knitting make it sound so inviting. I sense a major yarn purchase in my future. Christine has said that River would make a good beginner lace project. Any other ideas?

I love love love knitters. They are so helpful. Working on my cable bands for Kepler, I was getting v. annoyed with the cable needle. And, then, voila, on Grumperina's blog, the most amazing tutorial on cabling without a cable needle. But I couldn't figure out how to do crossed stitches (like sl 2 sts to cn to back, k next 2 sts, p 2 sts from cn) without the cable needle and posted a question at the Knitty Coffeeshop. In about half an hour, maybe less, extremely helpful responses from three or four different people about how to do it. Incredible. Knitters rule.

Finally, yet another reason why I love love love the Internet -- podcasts! Have you all checked out the podcasts at Knitcast? (Probably you have, I tend to be the last person to catch on to a technology trend.) So fun. The other day when I was working on J's Weasley, I listened to about six of them. You don't need an MP3 player -- you can listen on your computer! Check it out!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More Weasley Issues

OK, if I had actually looked carefully at the other photos from Alison's site, I would have noticed that in the original Weasley sweater, the initial is (1) quite large and (2) centered right in the middle of the front, partially over the stomach. Here's Katia's J-Weasley, all finished. That looks amazing. She also used the Lumos font for her chart, but as she did it with the right size and placement, she avoids the issues I just posted about. Short of doing a lot of frogging, my Little Guy's sweater is not going to look like the originals.

{Taking a moment to breathe. In. Out. In. Out.}

I am very tempted to let go of the desire to make a Weasley that is like the Rowan original in every detail. After all, it will still be a very nice sweater. Right?

Also, other people seem to be doing the letters in intarsia. Is that because they are bigger? Questions, questions, questions.

Detailed, Somewhat Technical, (Hopefully) Grumperina-Style, Post to Follow

The planets aligned. The knitting goddesses were smiling on me. Blessings were heaped upon me in the form of Time Alone. That's right -- yesterday afternoon, J took a big long nap. So I used that time to make some serious headway on my first Weasley. I finished the back and bound off across the top. And then I realized that I need to do some planning about placing the initial on the front chest. So I got out my measuring tape, knitter's graph paper, highlighters, and other fun stuff and set to work. (Note Ineffective Product Placement of Diet Cherry Coke.)

I quickly realized that the whole job would be much easier if I had kept track of exactly how many rows I knit for the back, beginning from the place where I divided for the armholes. Well, now I know for S's Weasley. So I drew out the front on graph paper, including the shaping for the neck, and I realized two things. (1) My row gauge is a little off, and (2) I have probably just enough room to fit the initial on the chest before I have to bind off for the neck. Briefly considering ripping back in order to start initial before the division for armholes. Thought to self, What? Are you mental?! Decided to make initial a little smaller.

Then I decided that I really, really, really did not want to have to rip the front later after realizing that my initial just doesn't look right. Also considering my lack of experience with color knitting, I thought I'd better practice on a swatch first. First, let me say that my tension here is just a little wonky. I stranded across the back (intarsia makes no sense when it is generally only 3 sts wide) and that made the letter pucker up and sort of stand in relief. That's actually kind of cool. But the whole thing looks more than a little amateurish. Maybe that's OK. If it looks like an authentic Mrs. Weasley creation, then my amateur status is working for me.

Also, I'm not sure about the design of the letter. I created my chart using the method that Alison suggested on the blue blog, using the Lumos font, which you can find here. I love the antique-y, slightly magical look of this font. It is awesome in print. I am not so positive about how it translates to knitting. Mi Esposo thought that the bottom tail of the "J" ought to curve up some more. I was afraid it didn't look like a "J" at all, but rather a turkey baster or syringe or something. So I asked Little Guy what it was, and he said "J for John." So far so good. I'm slightly inclined to work it as is, but I'd like some other opinions. So, more curve at the bottom or no?

Monday, September 12, 2005

What a Scam, or "D*&$ You, Meg Whitman!"

Don't let them fool you. They'll try to sell it as a small business tool. They'll have you thinking that eBay is this wonderful opportunity to turn your unwanted yarn and knitting books and CDs into cash. Wrong. What eBay really is, is a giant bleeping Stash Exchange. For everything I sell, I manage to find some yarn that really needs a home. Preferably mine.

Lately, Chez Laura has become the Home for Unwanted Koigu. I have some ideas for this yarn. I have about 85 sock patterns I want to try. Also, a kind knitter at the Knitty Coffeeshop passed along a Seafoam Stitch scarf pattern that would look great in Koigu. Let me tell you, it is taking some serious willpower not to get this stuff on the needles.

I am making progress on my KALs, slowly but surely. (This yarn porn is really just a blatant attempt to hide the fact that my KAL progress is not worth blogging about.) DH asked the other day if I was working on the Weasley sweater. I told him that I was doing J's first, because it is smaller, and to fulfill my KAL obligations, I really need to do only one sweater. His response?

"Yes, but how un-Weasley-like would that be?"

I was shamed. Speaking of which, since I can't enchant my needles...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tag, I'm It

Christine, my Midwest Knitters neighbor, tagged me with this, so here goes:

Ten years ago: I was moving from Washington, DC to Charlottesville, VA to begin law school. I was coming off a string of unfortunate dating relationships, a few of which were bad and short and one of which (the previous year) was great fun but too short. I met my husband that year, but we didn't start dating until the next year. During that fall, I spent most of my time stressed out, studying, drinking coffee and smoking!

Five years ago: I had been married for two years, and I had just had my older son. I had quit my job as a corporate tax attorney to stay home with him. I was constantly breastfeeding and worrying about my abilities as a mother. LOL! I was living in DC again, in the most awesome pre-war apartment building right next door to the National Zoo. S and I walked everywhere: to the grocery store, Starbucks, the zoo and the library and took the metro to museums (well, he was in a stroller). It was great. This year I started knitting again after not having knit since college.

One year ago: I had two boys, S and J, ages 4 and 1. I had moved to Cleveland. Still at home with the kids, managing my older son's autism therapies. Knitting a lot as my own therapy! This is basically what I am still doing, though my kids are one year older and now I'm blogging too!

Five snacks: ice cream, salt & pepper potato chips, chocolate covered pretzels, dried cherries, Take 5 candy bars

Five songs I know all the words to: Let's Stay Together by Al Green; Kathy's Song by Simon & Garfunkel (actually almost any song by Paul Simon); Manha de Carnaval by Luis Bonfa; Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry; Too Marvelous for Words by Johnny Mercer

Five things I would do with $100 million: Pay off my mortgage and G's law school debt; fund S and J's educations; create foundation to give money away; help fund behavioral, educational and biomedical interventions for needy kids with autism; buy apartment in Paris (do I have enough for all that?)

Five places to run away to: Paris; St. John USVI; Salvador, Brazil; Yellowstone National Park; London

Five things I would never wear: extremely low-rise jeans or pants; anything bright orange (coral is ok); a tattoo; a ring in my navel; black lipstick

Five favorite TV shows: The Mary Tyler Moore Show (all-time favorite); Law and Order (the original and SVU); Frasier; Numbers and The Closer (current favorites)

Five biggest joys: My family; knitting; reading; writing; faith

Five favorite toys: Needles and yarn; Sirius satellite radio; music collection; DVD player; Blockbuster online subscription

Five people to pass this on to: Olga, my fellow lefty; Amanda, my knitting soul sister; Kathy, who is Kaffeinated; Wendy, my other Midwest Knitters neighbor & a fellow Knit the Classics member; and Carolyn, who is an inspiration!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I've Been RAK'd!!

Chrissy (AKA sevenby30) from the Knitty coffeeshop sent me this amazing RAK package today. I was seriously excited to get something fun in the mail. Two lovely boxes of organic tea, and two bars of organic chocolate -- one is milk chocolate (yum!) and one is an intriguing blend of dark chocolate, lime and macadamia nuts. Sounds delicious and it took a major act of willpower not to rip the wrapping off and snarf the whole thing down in seconds! Also two great looking books -- I'm always looking for a good read! And last but certainly not least, the yarn. I had said on my wishlist that I would love to have partial balls of yarn, so that I can try before I buy. Chrissy obliged with some Rowan All Seasons Cotton (grey), Berroco Pleasure (cream) and, sigh, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (green). I already have serious fiber lust for the Baby Cashmerino. Thanks again Chrissy! You made my day!

In other knitting news since this afternoon, I have frogged the Tubular Camisole. Remember I said I had the right gauge? Well, I lied. Checked again and Way, Way Off. Part of my problem is that there are no measurements on the pattern and the sizing is a little strange. I was making the size for a 34-36 inch bust (I'm a 35), and she said that the pattern incorporated a couple inches of ease. (What does a couple of inches of ease mean when you are already talking about a range of actual bust sizes?) So when I measured the width across the top and saw that it was 18 inches on one side, I figured that was about right. But, as I mentioned before, something seemed wrong. So I checked my gauge again by just measuring one inch of sts in various places, saw that I was off, and took the darn thing off the needles. It still measured 36 inches around but it became evident that that is way too big for a camisole. So R.I.P., Tubular Camisole. I'll come back to this someday, after I finish some of these KALs that Amanda keeps roping me into.

UFO Invasion

So here's the progress on the Tubular Camisole. I swear, my gauge is measuring five sts to the inch. But is it me, or does this look ginormous? It's hard to see in this picture, while it's on the circulars, but the lace and bobble pattern is pretty cool. It sort of has a turn of the (20th) century Vienna secessionist feel to it. Or maybe I just have an overactive imagination. Honestly, I'm sort of getting bored with this project, and I haven't even started the four and a half inches of ribbing.

And here is J's Weasley. It looks great, so far. I really like this Felted Tweed. After the Cotton Tots, it felt like sock yarn. But it is knitting up pretty quickly on my size six needles. I'm getting close to the point where I will divide for the front and back. I need to do some more planning about the placement of the letter on the front, and the size of the letter, so I'll probably do the back first. It's nice and soft, to me at least. My biggest fear right now is that J will refuse to wear it. Being two and all.
Finally, I found yarn for Kepler! Woo-hoo! I was really hoping to use something from the stash. Oh well... I found some Cascade 220 at one of my LYS's for a great price. Ever since seeing Wendy's Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan, I have been obsessed with the idea of having a merlot-colored sweater. (Or, rather, a pinot noir-colored sweater. Because at affiknitty, we don't drink any effing merlot.) Heathery green might have shown off the cable band a little better. But I. Love. This. Color. I've done one repeat of the cable pattern and, I haven't hardly sworn at all. Sweet!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I'm chugging along on my knitalong projects, but I can feel it coming on again. The urge to start a new project. Maybe it's just the urge to get something finished!

I have some Wool-Ease Chunky that I thought I would use for my Kepler, but after swatching, I realized that to get anywhere near the right gauge, the resulting fabric would be really dense and inflexible. Maybe good for mittens or hats, but not an indoor sweater. So I'm kind of at a loss on that project right now.

The Tubular Camisole is coming along OK, but I'm about to finish the main section of stockinette, bobbles and eyelets, and begin a big section of 3x2 rib. I can't say that I'm really looking forward to that part of the project. (This isn't a KAL, but I couldn't wait to wear it!)

I've also made some progress on J's Weasley. I'm knitting it in the round to the armholes, then dividing for back and front and working those flat. I'll probably do the sleeves in the round too. I'm about halfway up to the armholes. I really like the Felted Tweed. The name of this yarn is unfortunate. It gives one the idea that the FO will be complete with pilling on day one. But it doesn't look like that at all, and I think it's going to make a nice, lightweight but warm sweater.

Knit the Classics is another fun group that I joined. Every month, the group reads a literary novel and each knitter chooses her own project to work on during the month. So I need to pick my project. Since I already have a number of big projects going, I want to pick something small. I've been kind of intrigued by the idea of fingerless gloves or mitts that I could wear over a thin pair of gloves. This is something I would definitely wear often. (My steering wheel gets very cold in winter.) The book this month is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I have read, but am looking forward to revisiting!

Off to try and finish something...or at least start something else!