Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Instant Blog Content

I've taken out all the questions about who is least likely/most likely to respond, etc. Because I really think I am the last person to hop on this meme.

1. FIRST NAME? Laura


3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Um, sometime last week.


5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Very thinly shaved ham, also known as chip-chop ham.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yes. I have a great music collection.

7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? You're reading it.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Only with inducement of the sizable and monetary variety.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Granola, with plain yogurt and sliced bananas.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? I very rarely wear shoes that tie.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I think I am tough, in the sense that I feel I can endure a lot, which is sort of the same thing.


14. SHOE SIZE? 7 or 7.5.

5. RED OR PINK? Do you really have to ask?

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? That I worry excessively about whether I have offended or angered people that I like, and that I apologize too much. They're obviously related.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My sisters and my best friend Kara. They live far away.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Tan skirt, cream colored blouse, brown sweater, brown boots.

19. LAST THING YOU ATE? Cheese and crackers last night for dinner.


21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Actually, I think I'd be midnight blue.

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Ozone in the air, cut grass, sauteing onions, coffee brewing.




26. FAVORITE DRINK? A caipirinha, if we're talking alcohol. Diet Cherry Coke, if we're not.

27. FAVORITE SPORT? I don't play sports, but I like to watch baseball and basketball.

28. EYE COLOR? Blue.

29. HAT SIZE? No clue. Small? Medium?


31. FAVORITE FOOD? My favorite meal would be steak au poivre, medium rare, with pommes frites (Belgian fries), a green salad with vinaigrette and warm goat cheese, and a lot of red wine.




35. FAVORITE DESSERT? Creme brulee.

36. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? With No One as Witness by Elizabeth George. Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann.

37. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? Don't have one.

38. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? As my three-year-old would say, "the newses."

39. FAVORITE SOUNDS? My sons laughing. Thunderstorms.

40. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? No question, the Beatles. This leads to two important follow-up questions!

40 (a). JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, OR RINGO? There is only one correct answer: John. Partial credit given for "Maybe George."

40(b). RUBBER SOUL OR REVOLVER? Rubber Soul.

41. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Probably Europe when I lived in Washington, or the States when I lived in Brazil. I'd have to check the mileage!

42. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? Nearly irrational optimism and always seeing the bright side.

43. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Akron, Ohio.

44. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Snagged it from Olga and many others.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Status Report

This week, I've mostly been working on Clapotis. (Sorry for the rotten photography, but if I wait for a good day, there may be no pictures until spring.)

The picture does not show the full size, but rather is folded so you can see the dropped stitches. I am using Noro Silk Garden in color #226. As others have noted, this yarn seems to have improved in quality lately. In the past, I have found whole gardens full of vegetable matter in the yarn, as well as many knots. I've used almost three skeins so far and encountered few twigs and only two knots. Oddly, one of these knots was at the very end of a skein; the tied-on yarn measured approximately two and a half inches.

Licorice Whip is currently languishing on Sleeve Island. The body is done, but I am finding it difficult to summon the motivation to finish the thing up. I'll get to it eventually, though, because it's cold here.

In an effort to create some good karma, which I could use, I have decided to put aside knitting for myself for now (other than to finish Clapotis and Licorice Whip). Several people in my family are way overdue for a handknitted item. These projects may or may not be holiday gifts. I will probably hand them over as they are finished. First on the list is my mom, who has requested--nay, demanded--a pair of socks. I started Karen's Sugar-Free Socks for her in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Who knows what's really in this yarn, but it feels like buttah. Yum.

Inspired perhaps by recent episodes of Knitty D and the City, I also cleaned out my stash yesterday. Most of the Yarn of Shame has been sent along to the thrift shop, along with some other things that I was certain I would never, ever knit. Click here to see a horrifying before picture, and here to see the newly reorganized stash closet. Because I am a big Yarn Dork, I also created a detailed inventory of what I have, typed it up as a table in a Word document, printed it out, stuck it in plastic page protectors, and have it in a binder with patterns I would like to knit in the nearish future. Of course, if I had true dork cred, I'd have done it as a spreadsheet, but I don't know how to use Microsoft Works. Pathetic, I know. Seeing it all written down is oddly comforting, and makes the stash seem somewhat smaller. I suppose some people might find yarn to make 30 pairs of socks a little excessive, but I am not one of those people. If you are reading this, I would hazard a guess that neither are you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Is What You May See in October...

...if you live on the east side of Cleveland.

I guess my late nights on the patio with Thom Yorke and a Newcastle are out of the question for now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yarn Crawl!

Yesterday, I went on an all-day yarn crawl extravaganza with my friends Joyce, Preeti and Deanna from the East-Side Cleveland SnB group! (All sadly blogless, I regret to inform you.) The day started out with breakfast and a little gift swap. We were meant to give something recycled or handmade: I gave Joyce some sock knitting books from my shelf, some chocolate and other little knitting support materials. But look what Deanna gave me!

The most gorgeous crocheted throw in my color of the moment! I love it! Deanna is a new knitter, so she didn't have much of a stash to draw from, so instead she finished this blanket. I must say, Deanna is amazing. This was either her first or second knitting project. And she followed that up with this. She is currently knitting a cabled cardigan from Men in Knits for her husband. Yeah. Amazing.

And, of course, there was yarn shopping. We hit three stores: Tamarella Yarns in Painesville, Knitting on the Square in Chardon, and Cast On Cafe in Willoughby. The proprietors of each shop were very friendly and each had a nice selection. The Cast On Cafe has a nice little room at the back where you can sit and knit and have a cup of coffee. They also have an amazing selection of mmmmm-Manos. I couldn't resist. I got two skeins of this:

which will become this (I think it's even the same colorway). I also got some Kidsilk Haze to make some Mrs. Beeton's and some Silk Garden to make a Clapotis (more on this in the coming days).

There was knitting, too. Just before the pizza arrived at Preeti's, I finished a project!

Pattern: Waving Lace Socks by Evelyn A. Clark, published in Interweave Knits
ETA: The pattern appears in the Spring 2004 issue of IK.
Yarn: 1 skein of handdyed Knit Picks Color Your Own merino sock yarn.
Needles: Size 0 (2 mm) 40 inch Inox circular for Magic Loop method.
Comments: Fabulous pattern! I highly recommend it. I chose the scalloped cuffs and, as I have mentioned before, I opted to knit a heel flap instead of my customary short-row heel. I like them, though I probably could have made the flaps a little shorter. I just love the way the gusset looks. Let's see a close-up, shall we?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Can You Hear the Squeeing?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Caution: This Post May Induce Swooning.

That means you, Kate.

My October package arrived from Sundara.

And, is it gorgeous or what? (Sorry these photos aren't better. It's late on a very grey day.)

The pattern is very lacy,with a falling leaves motif; it's really lovely. Do I mind that I am just finishing up a pair of lacy, dark red socks? Indeed, I do not. This yarn would also make a sumptuous pair of Baudelaires. Food for thought.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From the Department of Other Crafty Goodness

Because I clearly lack for things to do, I've taken up another needlecraft! I bought Jenny Hart's Stitch-It Kit long ago, and it's just been collecting dust. Jenny Hart is the brilliant mastermind behind Sublime Stitching, an internet business offering hip, fun, non-Kountry Kitchen type embroidery patterns. Since I first became acquainted with her site, I have felt that Ms. Hart must be deeply, deeply cool. Yesterday, I found out exactly how cool she is.

Lolly sent me an email that she had received from Sublime Stitching with exciting news. Ms. Hart was recently commissioned to create a set of embroidery patterns by the Decemberists.

Oh. My. GOD!

The patterns are based on artwork from their website and album covers; if you'd like to see some of said artwork, visit the band here. The patterns will be sold at the merchandise booths at their upcoming concerts, but she had a limited number of them to offer people buying her new book. I ordered the book in an attempt to get the Decemberist patterns that much sooner, but I doubt I was one of the first 15 orders. I will certainly be buying those patterns at the concert!

Anyhow, this was just the kick in the pants I needed to get out the embroidery stuff and get started. And, you know, it's really fun. I don't think it will ever take the place of knitting, but it's a nice little change of pace. Plus, it's not an expensive craft to practice. If you'll excuse me, I need more plain tea towels.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not Bitter. Really.

It's that time of year, folks, the time of year that fortunate knitbloggers all across North America start posting about their Rhinebeck projects, their plans to meet blogfriends at Rhinebeck, their Rhinebeck shopping lists. You'll be reading none of that at affiknitty, however, because I am not going to Rhinebeck. I wouldn't want you all to get the impression that I resent all of you lucky enough to go, however. So I offer you a little song to accompany your packing and preparations. It's sung to the tune of Cake's "Rock and Roll Lifestyle."

"Sheep and Wool Lifestyle"

Well, your needle collection looks shiny and costly.
How much did you pay for your Lexie Barnes bag?
And how much did you spend on your new spinning wheel
And the half of a fleece that you didn't even feel?

Now tickets to workshops and buying of books,
Sometimes for designers that you haven't even heard of.
And how much did you pay for your Brenda Dayne t-shirt,
That proves you were there,
That you heard of her first?

How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?
How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?
How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?
Ah, tell me.

How much did you pay for the handpainted yarn,
The stuff you'll throw in your stash at the end of the day?
And how much will you pay for some brand new sock yarn,
Stuff which you'll ruthlessly stash at the end of another day?
And how long will the knitters keep hoarding up skeins?
As long as their DPNs are sharp, slick and light ones.
And how long will the spinners keep buying up fiber?
As long as their spindles are balanced and fine ones.

Fluffy soft merino and cashmere in barns,
Alpaca, and quiviut, and dozens of yarns.
Your wallet pays dearly now for Rhinebeck acquisitions,
But knit on intently with some new Knit Picks Options.

How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?
How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?
How do you afford your Sheep and Wool lifestyle?

Excess ain't rebellion.
You're knitting what they're selling.
Your stash expansion doesn't hurt them.
Your hoarding won't divert them.
They're so happy to restock it.
They'll never really fill it.
Yeah, excess ain't rebellion.
You're spinning what they're selling.
Excess ain't rebellion.
You're knitting,
You're spinning,
You're knitting what they're selling.

Seriously, have fun everyone. I'm hoping next year to be right there with you!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anecdotal Evidence

Again, I am convinced that Theresa is right about swatches. They lie like little tiny knitted rugs.

When I knit the Simple Knitted Bodice, I carefully swatched with different needle sizes. I measured. I determined that I had the right gauge. I started. I ripped once, and started over. I picked a smaller size. And, still, the gauge and sweater were too big.

I started Licorice Whip. I did not knit a swatch. I chose a yarn from the stash with a recommended gauge that matched the pattern gauge. I started the pattern and knit a few inches. It was measuring a little too big. I ripped and restarted with smaller needles.

And, so far, the fit looks perfect. Same amount of ripping and restarting, swatch or not. I'm beginning to think that sweaters are not that different than socks. The best swatch is the project, and frogging is an essential part of the process.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When in Doubt, Follow the Crowd

I really didn't mean to go so long without a new post, but progress on a sock and restarting a huge stockinette tube hardly make for a thrilling read. So why not jump on the "10 knitterly things" meme? Perhaps I can have the distinction of being the very last person to do it.

10 Knitterly Things You Don't Know About Me (or Maybe Knew at One Time, But Have Likely Forgotten)

1. My Pottery Yarn post notwithstanding, I in fact possess a shockingly large stash of Wool-Ease. Before I started blogging and before Knit Picks started selling their own yarn, I fell prey to the marketing siren song and bought boatloads thinking I was getting a great deal. I am trying to use it up as I can. Soon, I may throw in the towel and pack the rest of it off to the charity shop.

2. I am allergic to knitting with ribbon or tape yarns. I like the way some of them look, but I don't like knitting with them. And chenille? That is the fiber of the devil.

3. You all know I have issues with tension. (Knitting tension, I mean.) When I first started knitting, I was a very tight knitter. To get gauge on a project, I often would have to go up one or two needle sizes. Now I am apparently a very loose knitter. I invariably have to go down in needle size. For example, I am knitting Intolerable Cruelty on size 1 needles. Ironically, the amount of tension in my knitting has been inversely proportional to the amount of tension in my life.

4. I am currently harboring a dark fear about knitalongs. The last few I have joined (not counting the Petals Collection Knitalong) have been less than rousing successes for me. The Sunrise Circle Jacket, the Knitting Nature knitalong, my complete slackitude when it comes to Knit the Classics...I am convinced that nothing will curse a project, for me, more effectively than joining the knitalong. This is why I did not join the SKB knitalong. Or the Intolerable Cruelty knitalong. And you can see how well that's worked out.

5. I would rather eat glass than knit with wire. But, as I've gotten older, I've learned to never say never.

6. About three years ago, I went through a garter stitch (even in novelty yarn!) scarf stage. It was around the time that my older son was first diagnosed with autism and we moved from the D.C. area up to Ohio. At the time, I had no mental energy for anything else. Fortunately, I've been able to move on.

7. Until very recently, knitting has been a solitary activity for me. This summer I started attending the east-side Cleveland SnB meetings and have made some wonderful, wonderful friends. If you happen to be in Cleveland, we gather on Saturday afternoons at Phoenix Coffee between 2 and 5 pm. We also hang out there on Wednesday afternoons between say 1:30 and 3:30 pm. Come join us!

8. I own 39 knitting pattern books and stitch dictionaries. This does not include my collection of Rowan magazines. I have four binders filled with patterns that I have saved from magazines, printed from the internet, or bought singly. I have every issue of Interweave Knits going back to Spring 2003, plus many back issues of Vogue Knitting and Knitter's. If I live to be 100, I will never knit even a tenth of these projects. Yet, I cannot stop buying pattern books and collecting patterns from the Web. Clearly, I am a pattern ho.

9. When I first started knitting again, I could not believe that people would pay over twenty dollars for yarn to make a pair of socks. Heh.

10. I'm pretty proud of the new knitting skills I've acquired in the last year or so. Lace knitting, dyeing, and felting were all new to me. Next year, I may attempt knitting with beads and steeking.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


...couldn't come at a better time for me. Gauge problems with larger garments have left my knitting ego in tatters. It's high time I got back to something I know I can do passably well.

Socks, of course.

Per Lolly's suggestion...

1. When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself? Take a class?
I made my first pair of socks not long after I started knitting in earnest. I finished my first pair in spring of 2002. I taught myself.

2. What was your first pair of socks? How have they held up over time?
This is my first pair of socks. They are heelless bed socks knit in a spiral rib on DPNs, in Lion Brand Wool-Ease. They've held up fairly well, but I rarely wear them. As you can see, they nevertheless need to be washed.

3. What would you have done differently?
Um, everything. For one thing, I would have used a different yarn. Also, I don't think I'll be knitting any more socks that have no heels.

4. What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Sundara's and Jessie's sock yarns are my favorites so far. But undoubtedly Socks That Rock will be joining the list when I get a chance to knit it.

5. Do you crochet socks? Knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, using the Magic Loop method?
I use the Magic Loop method. Very rarely, two circulars.

6. What type of heel do you prefer?
I used to think that the short-row heel was the only way to go. But I am coming around to the allure of the heel flap. Both are nice.

7. How many pairs have you made?
Only nine pairs. But others have been started and abandoned for various reasons.

And, for fun, just some of the socks on my knitting dream list...
1. Karen's Sugar-Free Socks
2. Hedera
3. Pomatomus
4. Knit Picks Fair Isle Socks
5. Norwegian Stockings
6. Elfine
7. Broken Cable Rib Socks

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Various and Sundry Thoughts

On the Pottery Yarn post ... I thought all your comments were very interesting, and I tried to reply directly to everyone. (Again, Blogger doesn't always provide me an email or a link.) I wanted to clarify that I'm not criticizing Lion Brand for trying to create a more attractive catalog, and especially not for providing a product that falls somewhere between Red Heart and Rowan. Here's what does bother me about Lion Brand. In terms of quality, they are neither "Fear Factor" nor "Masterpiece Theatre." They are distinctly middlebrow. The problem is, their prices are not. And higher quality fibers are available at a much lower cost. Let's compare:

Lion Brand Cashmere Blend: 72% merino, 14% cashmere, 14% nylon. 84 yards. $7.99 a ball.
Knit Picks Ambrosia: 80% baby alpaca, 20% cashmere. 110 yards. $6.99 a ball.
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran: 55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere. 98 yards. $7.75 a ball at the Knitting Garden.

Lion Wool: 100% wool. 158 yards for solids. $5.99 a ball.
Elann Peruvian Highland Wool: 100% wool. 109 yards. $2.25 a ball.
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes: 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. 110 yards. $1.99 a ball.
Knit Picks Merino Style: 100% merino wool. 123 yards. $2.49 a ball.

You get the point. If you haven't read Kate's thoughtful post on these and related issues, you should.


I knit a 40 stitch swatch in the round with worsted weight wool on 3 mm needles and got a gauge of 5.7 sts per inch, after washing and blocking. Could someone explain to me how I could get a gauge of 5.125 sts per inch, using the same yarn and needles, when I cast on 164 stitches for my garment? Theresa is right. Swatches lie. Now what do I do? I really need to get a gauge that is at least approaching 6 sts per inch, so that the skirt is modest and doesn't sag. Could it be a result of using a 32 inch needle? Am I really going to have to knit a skirt in worsted on a size 1 needle?


A while back, Vera destashed some knitting magazines on her blog. I snatched up a couple of copies of Yarn ("Australia's new magazine about knitting and more!"). Because Vera doesn't have a Paypal account and we were not up for DIY currency exchange, we did a little swap instead. I sent her the new Cutting Edge magazine, some tea and chocolate, and Knit Picks yarn. And she sent me all this:
That's two issues of Yarn, some Opal undyed sock yarn (!!), a sweet little notepad, some point protectors and one of those row counters that you can put on your needles (I needed one of those), and then this:A pincushion and little bag that she made herself! And if you can believe it, she actually called her sewing skills abysmal. Please. It's fantastic! Perfect for when I'm blocking! Thanks, Vera!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Where I Went Wrong: A Cautionary Tale

Several people have asked me questions about choosing a size when knitting the Simple Knitted Bodice. I decided to go back and take another careful look at the pattern and try to determine what went wrong. Hopefully, this will be helpful to other people who are planning to make this sweater, especially those who decide to make it in Silky Wool. This is going to get very technical, so if you're with me at the end, pat yourself on the back and go pour a nice big glass of Shiraz.

I looked at the schematic again, and now I realize that my gauge was off. I knit the size small, which says it's for a 32-34 inch bust. (Possibly TMI: I have about a 33.5 inch bust.) The finished bust measurement for that size, on the schematic, is 33.5 inches. I ended up with a finished bust of 35.5 inches, which falls between a small and a medium. No wonder it's too big.

But here's the thing. This sweater is definitely sized generously. If you want a sexy, fitted sweater -- as pictured on the model -- you are going to need to know your own bust measurement, look at the finished bust measurements on the schematic, understand a little about the miracle of negative ease, and choose your size accordingly. Conventional wisdom (otherwise known as The Knitter's Companion) suggests that the knitter should allow five to ten percent negative ease to achieve a body-hugging fit. Assuming an actual bust measurement of 34 inches, that's two to three inches of negative ease.

For a person with a 34 inch bust, the size small provides only half an inch of negative ease. That's not nearly enough to provide a close fit for that size, especially in a yarn that grows with wear, as a 100% silk yarn does. For a 32 inch bust, you've got a whole inch and a half of positive ease, which isn't fitted at all. The gal with the 34 inch bust should knit something between the extra-small and small. Since my gauge was a little off on the large side, if I had knit the extra-small, I'd probably have been right on the money.

Another thing you should note about the schematic ... it suggests that the waist panel will measure as wide as the bust. Not so. It is knit on much smaller needles. My finished waist measurement is nearly two inches smaller than the bust. This is a good thing, if you want a nice, tailored look.

If you plan to use Silky Wool, I have the following advice. The stated gauge for the pattern in stockinette is 20 sts/4 inches. The recommended gauge for the yarn is smaller, 22 sts/4 inches. If you knit the Silky Wool to the larger gauge, it will be very drapey. I recommend swatching with the yarn with different sized needles until you get a fabric that you like. Then wash and block your swatch and let it dry. You would not believe how much my sweater grew when wet. Think, airplane hangar cozy.

Now determine your gauge for the swatch that pleases you. Multiply your gauge by the number of inches that you want your finished bust to be -- to make this easy, choose a number represented on the schematic. Then look at the stitch counts in the pattern for the point just before you join the fronts of the sweater and start knitting in the round. Find the number that is closest to your answer above, and that is the size you should knit. Alternatively, you could pick the finished bust measurement you want, if it is not represented in the pattern, consider your gauge, and then redo all the maths. You may then begin to wonder why you bought the pattern, but you will end up with a sweater that fits.

My final piece of advice is this. Try it on as you go. This is the beauty of knitting sweaters from the top down, so take advantage of it! More importantly, don't ignore what you see in the mirror. If it seems too big or too small when you try it on, rip or keep increasing as needed. Don't assume it will block to measurements. Learn from my mistakes.

Whew! I hope I haven't scared anyone off from this pattern. It really is fun and easy, and could be a first sweater. You just need to be thoughtful about your size selection if you really want to be happy with it. Now I need a big glass of Shiraz.