Friday, October 30, 2009

An afternoon's dalliance

Don't get your hopes up. I don't have any titillating news to report. Only that my hard drive is dying - and that's not too exciting now, is it?

I've spent the day transferring files from my soon-to-be-comatose computer to a brand new PC. I didn't think this would take all damn day, but it has. So while I wait, I decided to whip up an ice scraper cover for my boyfriend's upcoming birthday.


I used Cirilia Rose's free Ember pattern from Berroco.com with a few modifications. I added:

  • Two inches of length because my boyfriend has very large hands
  • One extra round of decreases at the top - k2, k2tog around

  • An extra round of purl stitches at the top

  • Some additional bound-off stitches - after binding off, I picked up one stitch, bound it off, then skipped two stitches and picked up another stitch and bound it off. I did this six times to make the opening a little tighter.

I used the prescribed Berroco Peruvia doubled which makes for a thick, warm glove. I figured if I was going to all the trouble to knit this, I might as well splurge on a nicer ice scraper, too. I found one with a no-slip grip and a built-in shock absorber. Pretty fancy, huh?

Let's hope he likes the ice scraper glove. I pray this doesn't go the way of so many boyfriend sweaters that women slave over only to have their best efforts buried in the back of their beloveds' closets. Tom and I have already experienced this phenomenon. I started making him a sweater after our second date; I was pretty convinced he'd be around for Christmas even then. I slaved over a V-neck pullover made of a self-striping yarn, something I'd never used before. And won't use again! The sweater fits him perfectly, but it has way too many stripes for Tom. Now that I know him, I know less is a lot more - if the sweater were solid navy blue, he still might think it was too wild. Tom also claims the sweater is too hot for even the coldest days. All this means that he'll wear it when hell freezes over! Oh well. It's the thought that counts, right?

Tom and I collaborated on a fair isle hat for him earlier this year and he loves it. Michael, his 17-year-old son was so impressed, he asked for one, too. Yet another item for my unending knitting queue.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Diamond Yoke Cardigan pics

Yikes... after a week of computer troubles, I've discovered I'm having a hard drive failure. Now I have to decide whether to replace the hard drive or just buy a new computer... decisions, decisions...

Anyway, I'm posting these new Diamond Yoke Cardigan pictures quickly before everything electronic goes to hell in a handbasket.



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fini, terminado, færdig, finito, färdiga, klaar...

Finished! After two or three months of knitting nothing but the Diamond Yoke Cardigan, I've finally finished. I need to get some better pictures, but here are at least a couple to start.


I was worried that my new sweater wouldn't fit me; when I first finished, all the cables were so scrunched together it looked like it was made for a skinny teenager. But with blocking, it opened up, thank God.

If you look at the picture, you'll see that the buttons are out of whack. As luck would have it, the buttonholes are placed correctly, but the buttons were not. I cut a couple of them off and sewed them back on in the proper spot. All is well in the button department.


But there is a potential issue with the neckline. Beware to anyone who makes this pattern! The last step says to knit 35 rows of 1x1 rib, which I did. As you can see, I mistakenly made myself a turtleneck. If you look at the picture from the book, you can see that the sweater only has about ten rows on its final round. I'm waiting for my sweater to completely dry and then I'll decide about whether to whack off an inch or three from the neckline. Of course, I'll keep you posted about whatever I do next.


Come back soon... I'll have photos of me modeling my creation. I hope it ends up looking nice on me. This cardigan was a ton of work... what a terrible shame it will be if the cardigan is unbecoming on me. I wish it would hurry up and dry so I could find out for sure.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Progess!

Land ho! The end is in sight!

I am excited to show you my progress on the Diamond Yoke Cardigan. It actually looks like a cardigan now - a really cute cardigan! It would fit a skinny girl just fine as it is, but I'm going to need to have it blocked and all those cables stretched out to fit my overample figure.




I'll be finally getting to the yoke's first decrease row here shortly; that means the whole process will speed up. I've got two more cable row repeats and then a couple of dozen rows of upper yoke decreases and then it will be done. Woo fricking hoo. I even found some buttons I like. All in all, I'm really pleased with my Diamond. I am glad I decided to switch to the Louet Riverstone. The wool works better for this pattern.

Next up: Jared Flood's Willoughby scarf. I was going to hold out until I had an extra $250 to spring for the Classic Elite Marly cashmere yarn, but I just can't justify the expense. Earlier this week, I found some highly-rated-on-Raverly Karabella Margrite yarn on sale at Kpixie.com. It's dk weight, 70% merino and 30% cashmere and looks sumptuous. I'm hoping it will be a good replacement yarn for the Marly. Who knows. I hope I won't be disappointed again in my yarn substitution. It seems to me that the hardest thing in knitting is not technique but finding the right yarn. It makes all the difference.


I want to make some lacy mittens to go with the Willoughby so I've settled on Ysolda's Veyla mitts. Although I'm going to turn them into actual mittens, I think the lacy cuff will complement the Willoughby well. I like the mods Chumily made to turn her Veyla mitts into mittens.


I'm envisioning wearing this duo with everything from my formal black wool dress coat to my embroidered denim jacket. I've never knitted lace before so this should be fun - and challenging. Perhaps I should start with the mittens first. Good idea, don't you think?

But I've got to finish my pink Diamond first. It's so nice to be coming down the homestretch. As I said: land ho!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A stitch in time saves nine

Have you ever wondered about this meaning of this proverb?

A stitch in time saves nine

After pondering this inponderable, I took my question to the second font of all knowledge, Google. (The first font of all knowledge is Wikipedia, where anyone can write anything and proclaim it so. I like it.) Google pointed me to the UK's Phrases.org, which says:

The stitch in time is simply the sewing up of a small hole in a piece of material and so saving the need for more stitching at a later date, when the hole has become larger. Clearly, the first users of this expression were referring to saving nine stitches...

The 'stitch in time' notion has been current in English for a very long time and is first recorded in Thomas Fuller's Gnomologia, Adagies and Proverbs, Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British, 1732:
"A Stitch in Time May save nine."
Fuller, who recorded a large number of the early proverbs in the language, wrote a little explanatory preamble to this one:

"Because verses are easier got by heart, and stick faster in the memory than prose; and because ordinary people use to be much taken with the clinking of syllables; many of our proverbs are so formed, and very often put into false rhymes; as, a stitch in time, may save nine; many a little will make a mickle. This little artiface, I imagine, was contrived purposely to make the sense abide the longer in the memory, by reason of its oddness and archness."
Isn't that fabulous? I writer in me loves the "clinking of syllables" and "many a little will make a mickle." What's a mickle? Apparently it means "a large amount."

This makes a great segue to my mickle of a Diamond Yoke Cardigan. As you can see, I've finished the body and am almost done with the second sleeve. Next I will be putting all the stitches on a very long needle and commence knitting the yoke.


The Brits are right: many a little makes a mickle indeed! Soon my mickle will blossom into a muckle - which is just a whole lot of mickle. Little to mickle to muckle? No matter. I'll just be glad to finish my sweater.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to fold a shirt

While I'm slaving away on sleeves, I thought I'd share this fantastic 22-second video that will show you how to fold a shirt in two seconds. Beware: you're going to watch this 27 times and still be confused, but consider it a challenge. And imagine the glory when you finally master the trick! Your closet will thank you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Diamond sleeves, take two

I've finished the body of my Diamond Yoke cardi and am now onto the sleeves. Just thought I'd do a quick comparison between the first cotton version (which I abandoned) and the new wool version:



My first response is that I can't wait to block the wool version; it's hard to even compare these sleeves.

I also think it's weird for the two sleeves to be so different. They're both pink chunky yarn knitted in the same stitch pattern, but otherwise they have little in common other than being sleeves!

I have learned a lot about yarn selection with this project. I thought I'd learned this lesson while knitting my Ditto cardigan, but I guess I had to learn it again. I want to learn how to quickly and easily make yarn substitutions. I'll do some research and let you know what I find out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Forging ahead

Just a quick post to show my Diamond progress. First, I pinned the new Diamond Yoke Cardigan to my dress form and it looks like it's going to fit. It's very different from my first attempt at this garment which I knitted in a cotton blend. This has actually been a very interesting experience for me to knit the same sweater in different yarns.


(What a great class idea, knitting teachers. Have your students knit a little Christmas sweater ornament in different kinds of yarns; boy, they would learn a lot about yarn selection and substitution.)


In my original version, I added two sets of cable rows to make the sweater about four inches longer. This time, I decided to make only one set. I felt like the original version looked like a miniskirt, it was so long. But hopefully the revised version will look fine on the sweater and still be long enough for me, too.



I finally got to the diamond cables yesterday. It's a complicated pattern at least for me since I've not done this much cabling for a garment before. As I always feel in the middle of knitting something, I can't wait to see it blocked! Every sweater starts out as an ugly duckling but blossoms into a swan after blocking. I can't wait to see it finished.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

I received two Knitting Pure & Simple patterns today from Jimmy Beans Wool. I'm irked. Not at Jimmy Beans, but at Knitting Pure & Simple. Take a look at this pattern and tell me why I'm aggravated:

That's right. The pattern is missing a schematic. It comes with only two measurements: bust and length. That's it. The pattern apparently includes some instructions about making the garment length and sleeves longer, but anyone who has ever knitted a sweater knows this is the simplest alteration to make. But what if I want a wider sweater? Or a higher neckline? Or deeper armscyes? Tough luck!

Knitting Pure & Simple shouldn't mean simpleton patterns. Schematics should be standard fare on every knitting pattern. I bought these patterns precisely because I wanted to use the schematics to make them larger. I am very disappointed.

And another complaint: why do Knitting Pure & Simple and Knit One Crochet Two among other companies persist in selling hard-copy patterns only? I don't want to pay the postage to ship these one- or two-page patterns - and I never get to pay 44 cents to do so either! Selling downloadable patterns is the best way to help your customers save money - and if I'm not paying overpriced postage, I can buy more patterns. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

A quick attagirl to Jimmy Beans Wool: I applaud this company's simple, affordable shipping policy. If you order more than $75, the order is free; otherwise, the shipping is only $4. THANK YOU. I'm sick of online retailers charging $9.00 to send me a $3.00 item. It's ridiculous. Jimmy Beans also offers lots of great discounts, including free shipping on your next order and 5% back on all purchases, too. My nearly $15 order ended up costing me only $8.50. I need all the breaks I can get! I'll definitely be shopping with Jimmy Beans again soon.

So come on knitwear designers. Give us schematics and zero postage. And while you're at it, larger sizes, too. I took a quick look at the latest issue of Vogue Knitting yesterday; the magazine proudly touted its plus-size patterns - which are size 14, hardly a plus size.

Okay, I'm done bitching. Hope you have a very nice knitting weekend! :-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Even better the second time around

There are those who'd bet
Love comes but once - and yet
I'm oh so glad we met
The second time around

There is a certain joy of being a certain age and falling in love again.

When I was in my late 20s, Time Magazine announced that an unmarried woman at 30 had a great chance of being hit by a bus than ever landing a man. Well, that's not quite right. It was actually Newsweek, which in 1986 reported the results of a Harvard and Yale research study on marriage. The gist:
  • White, college-educated women who failed to marry in their 20s faced abysmal odds of ever tying the knot.

  • A woman who remained single at 30 had only a 20 percent chance of ever marrying.

  • By 35, the probability dropped to 5 percent.

  • A 40-year-old single woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry.
I absolutely panicked. I was 27, white, fat, and in college. I was also involved in a very unfortunate relationship with a... uh... unavailable man. What were my chances of getting married? Absolutely zero.

(Of course, I failed to ask the real question: why would being married make me any happier, smarter, prettier, successful, or more acceptable than being single?!)

Since that unfortunate Newsweek article, I managed to break up with the unavailable asshole, got married at 36, and separated at 47. Now I am 50, fat, white, college educated, and divorced. And I am in love with a good man - and he is in love with me.

Love truly is better the second - or forty-second - time around.

Why do I bring this up? Because I have renewed my love affair with my Diamond Yoke Cardigan, which now features Louet Riverstone Bulky. I dreaded abandoning my first version, but now I'm convinced I'm on to a bigger and better sweater with this passionate new yarn. I mean look at that color! If it's not about romance, I don't know what is.


I know the damn pattern by heart now, so I'm speeding right along. This gives me a chance to reflect on all that original pink cotton yarn I've frogged from my original version. What in the heck should I make with it? I really like the yarn, just not for this sweater. It needs to be knitted at a much tighter gauge for a different pattern and then it will be fine.

This whole thought process reminds me of my ex-husband. I worried a lot about him after we separated. I still liked him very much; I just didn't want to be married to him for assorted reasons. He epitomized a raggedy, forlorn vagabond for a while, which always made me feel guilty. But now he's got a new girlfriend who takes excellent care of him. His socks even match! It is clear: he's better off with her than he ever was with me. They're a much better fit.

So perhaps soon I'll find a better fit for my forlorn-vagabond-pink-cotton yarn. Let's hope. Because the truth is, love - and knitting - really are better the second time around.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What I did on my autumn vacation

My beloved boyfriend, Tom and I are back from our weekend getaway to Luray, VA. We were hoping for fabulous fall color, but alas were at least two weeks too early - all the trees are still green. No matter. We had perfect weather, a relaxing time, and lovely trip.


Moose, my mega-spoiled pug, went along for the ride. Much to his chargin, he spent most of the trip in the back of my VW New Beetle Convertible. I felt guilty, but Tom kept saying, "He'll get over it!" And he did.


So what did I do on my fall vacation? Knitted, of course. An hour before we left, the Louet Riverstone Bulky in Crabapple arrived from Webs; I ordered this replacement yarn for my Diamond Yoke Cardigan after abandoning the cotton blend I'd used to knit more than half the sweater. On our way out the door, I grabbed a Riverstone skein and worked up a swatch on the way down to the cabin. I had also brought some magenta yarn to make a sweater of my own design, which I also worked on.

But last night, I decided I should knock out Diamond Yoke Cardigan since I already have the pattern stitches in my head. It's moving pretty quickly, as you can see below.


I like this 100% wool yarn much better, at least for this cardigan. It's much less drapey and holds it's shape far better, plus I think it will make for a much lighter sweater. The Comfy Bulky cotton version of the cardigan was already heavy and I was only halfway done. I think I made the right decision no matter how discouraging it was to start over midstream.

The other good knitting news from my trip: I bought a new knitting basket - and for only $28! We stumbled across a little fruit stand north of Luray that sold apples and baskets - so of course I bought both. I like the basket's large size and wide, flat bottom - just perfect for knitting projects. Mind you, I have a gazillion knitting baskets, bags, buckets, totes, ziplocs, bins, boxes and the like. But as you know, one can never have too many yarn storage devices!




So today it's back to reality: clients, work, laundry, taxes, and life. But I'm grateful for the break and for a chance to be with the two people I love most: Tom and Moose. :-)