Wednesday, August 30, 2006


So . . . as you might have guessed, I've temporarily given up on that blanket. Horrid thing.

Knitting time has suddenly been extremely curtailed (work. yuck!), not to mention blogging time, but I did manage to sneak in a Vegas yarn crawl (not fruitful in the short term, but good for future reference), which I will blog about when I get a real few moments.

In the meantime, here's what's next for Dulaan 2007:

"Er . . . What are they?" you ask.



The goal is socks.

The reason they are so . . . odd . . . is not a problem with the knitting, but with the yarn -- Anonyknits' own vintage (read "shoddy") handspun.

Seriously uneven.

Seriously overspun. (Have to unspin the stuff every few feet before it is remotely knittable. The cats are amused.)

But it is mine.

So between the "let's knit it" and "let's trash it" options . . . Well, you know.

This recipe for socks is from the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, which is geared toward socks of the handspun variety. The book is good for many, many things, but what I like best about it is that it seems to be able to rescue even the worst handspun. In sockish quantities, anyway.

Rescues it successfully enough that I'd keep the socks for my own picky self. But they will be a little too big for me and will be way too warm for anywhere but Mongolia in the winter. Okay, or Manitoba. Maybe even Alaska. But I have no plans to be in any of those places (or their ilk) during the winter.

Any winter.



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nine Tenths of the Law

Now over half done.

But I gotta tell you, this one is boring me half to death. (If it bores me all the way to death, please do not resuscitate. No sense in coming back if it means I just have to face more of this one . . . )

It is very slow going.

And it is now big enough that it is unwieldy and even a little unpleasant to knit. (I begin to see the positive side of seams.)

Worst of all, it is now big enough that it is upsetting the natural order in my household.

The natural order: Anonyknits wakes up, or gets home from work, or whatever. Immediately goes to couch and picks up the knitting. Is quickly joined by both cats, who argue briefly about which gets to sit on the lap and which gets to sit on the yarn (cat hair protective shielding provided by Ziplock), then settle down. There is knitting. There is napping. And there is most definitely TiVo. Sometimes we do this for hours. Great fun.

I have just about perfected the technique of knitting projects even as large as a sweater back or a lace shawl without getting them covered in cat hair. Or viciously snagged by suddenly intrigued feline claws. Or, for that matter, eaten. (Magic!)

But the pseudo-Prairie blanket is just too big.

So either the knitting doesn't happen, or the cats get evicted.

Have tried eviction.

The cats are not pleased. Even if I manage to push them off me and the yarn (ever tried to evict a cat? you gotta be ruthless.), they just come back ten minutes later, yowling. ("Aren't you done yet???? Where's my lap???? Where's my yaaaaaaaaarn????")

And, of course, the second I leave my knitting spot to answer the phone or get a cup of coffee (or something stronger), I get this:

What is it they say? Something about possession . . .

(On the other hand, I think this is more than adequate excuse for not finishing the blanket in time for the shower.)


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Something to Blog About

In avoiding the Pit Of Despair (and lack of blog-fodder) that is the pseudo-Prairie Blanket, I have managed to weave in the last of those ends:

Dulaan 2007, Item #8.

I am going to keep the mismatched ribbing -- don't think it looks all that bad, and I'm really anxious to move on to other things.

Here's a closer shot of the yoke pattern:

This was done free-style, sort of like knitted doodling. (Very fun.)

As for the rest of the "pattern," I think it went quite well. I have a few nits, but these are problems I have with my own choices (don't think the 2x2 ribbing at the neck quite works) more than with Zimmerman's directions.

I do think that if I did another yoke-type sweater, I would try distributing the yoke decreases a little more evenly. Zimmerman suggests three rows of relatively dramatic decreases. Instead, I would decrease fewer stitches over more rows. As it is, when laid flat, I have some puckering in the yoke. I suppose this might be necessary to a good fit, but I think it more likely that it might be reduced somewhat (without harm) by a different pattern of decreases. I just can't tell whether it is a feature or a bug. (I lack a person of appropriate size to test this.)

When I joined the underarms, I did get loose areas (we won't call them holes) at either side of each underarm. I solved this by reinforcing a little with the darning needle. There might have been a better way to deal with it, but I think it looks fine:

Finally, Zimmerman's false seams are just brilliant. They do help immensely with the blocking. And, although I was a bit worried that they would look awkward, it turns out that they are hardly noticable:

(There's one going straight through the photo -- I know it's there, and I still have a hard time seeing it.)

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 18, 2006

Adapt to Win

Remember this?


I win.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dead Line

All babies are special. But this baby is particularly special. Blah, blah, blah . . . (You don't wanna hear it.)

A bunch of the little knits previously featured on the blog are meant for this kid. But still missing from the collection is a blanket.

A blanket seems key.

The pseudo-Prairie Blanket has 3 1/2 skeins in her as of this morning. I think she's got another 4 1/2 to go. Possibly more if I go with my original plan to do a 30" by 40" blanket. Since revised downward to a 30" square, which is still perfectly acceptable.

The baby shower is on September 2nd. Which means I've got just over two weeks.

(I'm telling you now, if I don't get the thing done in time for the shower, this is going to end up some other baby's blanket. Which would be kind of unfortunate. I hear that blanket-related takesie-backsies can scar a kid for life.)

I don't think this would be too ambitious, except that there are major knitting distractions all around me.

And to say that I don't like knitting deadlines would be an understatement.

I don't do knitting deadlines.

Not very well, anyway.

Mainly I knit baby stuff on a whim.

Which is why I invented the Strategic Baby Knits Reserves. I knit something baby-related on a whim. It goes into the Strategic Reserves. And it waits there until the right baby comes along.

Maybe it is a little gauche to give a kid a handknit that wasn't made especially for him or her. And for some kids, I do manage to get my needles in gear. But most of them seem to calculate when I will be whimless and time their arrival accordingly. So . . . Reserves are better than "out of luck" any day.

There are no blankets in the Strategic Baby Knits Reserves.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Now this is just silly.

A mere 13 more stitches to graft:

And no more than 2 dozen ends to weave in:

A little washing, a little blocking, and the entire sweater would be done.

The whole thing couldn't possibly take more than two hours.

But I just can't bring myself to do it.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mission Accomplished?

In my quest to reduce the number of projects I've got going on, I finished my second-to-oldest project over the weekend. (The oldest being the Baby Norgi . . . incredibly patient, that little guy.)

Socks for the Doctor.

You'll probably notice that the proportions of these socks seem a little off. This is because these are "oversocks." The Doctor and I might have made that word up. Anyway, they're socks meant to be worn over other socks for warmth in the winter. So being roomy was more important than length in the cuff.

Other details: Toe up, "figure eight" cast-on.

Stockinette foot and heel, with three-by-one ribbed cuff, over 72 stitches except for the last inch or so, where I added another pattern repeat to further prevent constriction:

Made from Regia Strato purchased on sale from here (currently available in some colours here -- excellent price!). Can't say which colourway as I tossed the ball band ages ago.

Knit simultaneously on two circulars (Addi Turbos in what they call size "1," although I'm not too certain what sizing system that refers to), except for the heels, which were "afterthought" heels using magic loop. Really don't see myself doing either the two circulars or the afterthought heels ever again.

So, that's two pairs of socks finished in recent days.


If I were strong, I would leave it at that and move on to finishing something else. But knitters need their rewards. And there isn't really any harm in starting a new pair, since that would still be fewer work-in-progress than before. So:

But I neglected to bring that one home with me yesterday. So . . .

What is wrong with me?

Labels: ,

Monday, August 14, 2006

Those Socks That Only Needed a Toe

I'm making progress, people! Finished a few things, the first of which are these:

Stitch pattern is the same as Conwy from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road.

But I didn't really bother following that pattern -- I know from a previous and very frustrating experience that a true Conwy doesn't actually fit me.

So, these guys have an extra six stitches (one additional pattern repeat), and the calf shaping is eliminated. We probably differ on several other points, but I really couldn't say which, as I stopped paying attention to the pattern long ago.

Some other details:

Size 1 (US) Brittany Birch dpns.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Flames colourway.

Top down, with ye olde heel flap. Close-up of point where cuff, heel and gusset meet:

Have no idea how I avoided that gaping hole I usually get at this point. Probably I picked up 17 extra stitches here, rather than the 1 or 2 extra stitches that are generally recommended (but that never really seem to help in my case).

Perhaps it is boring of me, but I've now tried many, many of the exciting-and-new methods of knitting socks, yet still I think this is my favorite. At least for knitting socks for my own feet.

Unlike a short row or afterthought heel, the heel flap allows me to make the heel just as roomy as I need it -- which is quite roomy. (I can't, for example, wear Jaywalkers. Believe that I have tried.) In any event, the socks I have made using these other methods are always a bit tight in the heel. Unless they're a bit loose everywhere else. The heel flap gives me flexibility, options.

Doing it top-down allows me to check the fit of the heel separately from the fit of the foot, before even moving onto the gusset. If I've got it wrong, I only need to re-do the heel. With a toe-up sock, if I've got the fit wrong, it is invariably because I followed the pattern and didn't start increasing soon enough to get the larger gusset I need. Which means a heck of a lot more ripping.

As for the DPNs: Yep, just like everyone else, I've got problems with laddering. If I'm doing a ribbed sock, I can hide most of this. If I really, really don't want the laddering, I'll use magic loop.

Magic loop is quite nice, until I get to the heel. Just don't like it as much for that. Couldn't say why.

Two circulars? Very bothersome, all those needles flying about. I thought I'd particularly like doing two socks at once, but really all this means is that if I don't like the shaping, I have to rip out twice as much.

One final comment: Lorna's Laces is very nice. But you all know that already.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 11, 2006

Posy Progress

First ball of yarn is all used up. If the pattern's take on yarn requirements is to be believed, I am something like 1/6 done with the knitting. (Maybe 1/7 done, if you count the finishing?) Haven't had to rip out more than, say, 10 rows. Thankfully, I have reached the point where I have an intimate understanding of the role each stitch plays in the lace pattern.

I don't have any real clue whether this will fit in the end.

Because I have a "short waist."

What is a "short waist?" Basically, this means I'm just a little bit smooshed in the middle.

To be more precise: The distance between my waist and my, um, chest, is shorter by a good inch or two than the standard/average/whatever that garment designers expect for a female of my size. (Yes. If it wasn't clear before, I am female. Can I get a "shame, really"?) Which means that tops that have high or empire waists or that flare out considerably near the bottom fit me nicely. And everything else gets just a little scrunched up at my waist, since the shaping on everything else just doesn't happen in the right place.

Posy does not have a high waist.

Nor does it flare out at the bottom.

A problem with three possible solutions. (Four, if you count "choose another pattern" as an option. I don't.)

One is to just follow the pattern for what should be my size and make a garment I almost-for-certain know is not going to fit right. (Why?)

Two is to cast on way more stitches at the beginning than called for, then decrease away all the extra stitches before the ribbing is done. This would cause the garment to flare out just enough at the bottom to accommodate ze 'ips. But it would also ruin the sweater's lines. (Yuck.)

Three is to whack an inch or two out of the pattern's waistial expanse. (Waistial. Ha!)

The third option is The Right Thing To Do.

So I'm going to do that.

Only, I'm going to do it wrong.

If I were really a proper knitter, I would accurately measure myself, carefully review the pattern and my swatch, do the maths, and thereby know precisely how many rows to leave out.

But I'm not.

My plan really is to just whack that inch or two out of the middle.

This is not to say that I'm not thinking ahead. To the contrary.

For example, there are some increases up either side of the front and back. If I knit these according to the pattern, I might find that I haven't fit them all in before the armholes arrive. And I really do need every one.

(Again, a little extra effort and I could be sure one way or the other whether this is an issue. But, you know . . . )

So I am slightly accelerating the increases -- from one stitch per side every 12 rows to one stitch per side every 10 rows. (Conveniently, the pattern has a 10 row repeat, so I have cleverly avoided needing to keep separate track of when my next increase should be.)

With more luck than I deserve, this will all work out great.


Anyone else notice that almost everything I am working on is predominantly blue? Posy. The sweater for Dulaan. The denim mitered squares. The pseudo-Prairie Blanket. My poor, ignored Baby-Norgi-Which-You-Have-Not-Seen -- also blue, though you couldn't have known that. And then there's that Blue Sweater. . . . Downright creepy.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lily v. Rowan: You Decide

You see before you six swatches of adequate size, champion Rowan handknit cotton dk in orange and the contender Lily Elite Cotton in blue. All knit to the same gauge, on the same needles, within a 48 hour time span, blah, blah, blah . . .

(Photo taken before any wetting, blocking, etc.)

From left to right, we have:

1.) the "control" swatches (identified by a knot-free cast-on tail);

2.) the "test" swatches (identified by a single knot in the cast-on tail); and

3.) the "I don't care what your precious 'care instructions' say, you are going into that dryer along with everything else" swatches.

Important note: Did not spend nearly long enough on this project to determine whether either yarn had fading issues. And I'm not gonna.

First, a quick demonstration of why, if we wish to maintain the dimensions of our knitting, we really don't want to indiscriminately toss this stuff into the dryer:

Note that the Rowan and the Lily have remarkably similar reactions to this abuse.

Even if you stop short of the dryer, both yarns have an increased fuzz-factor:


If your question is, "Which is better?" . . .


No contest. (Are you on crack?)

Although you can't see it so good in the pictures, Rowan beats Lily hands down.

The Rowan has a superior sheen, stitch definition, and suppleness. The Lily, while soft to the touch, is a little stiffer -- that is, it doesn't drape as well. (Possibly knitting the Lily at a slightly looser gauge would alleviate some of this. But that would defeat the purpose of this exercise, which was to evaluate the Lily as a substitute for the Rowan.) And the inferior stitch definition gives it a slightly muddier look. This is the case both before and after washing, and regardless of being blocked to dry or sent through the dryer.

And this is aside from the larger array of colors available from Rowan.

So, if you are making a "gonna wear this forever" garment, or if you just enjoy nice stuff, and if you can part with the dinero, you really do want the Rowan.


If your question is, "I really want to make such and such, which calls for a good quantity of Rowan handknit cotton dk, but I'm ashamed to say that I'm not quite ready to sell one of my kidneys to do it. Can I use the Lily instead?"

I would have to say . . .


Don't be under any delusions that it is a perfect substitute, or even a great substitute.

But it is an adequate substitute.

(You probably want to swatch it yourself to make sure you agree before you start hoarding the stuff . . . )


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Now the Fun Begins

Sleeves (up to the armholes) are both done, attached, and now we're onto the yoke.

So I figure this guy is at least half done.

Maybe more.

Probably not less.

But I prefer the feeling I have about the doneness of this sweater -- i.e., uncertainty -- to the usually inevitable feeling of euphoria-followed-by-betrayal.

Yes, yes. Uncertainty is much better.

Probably you notice that the ribbing on the sleeves does not match the ribbing on the body.

I could tell you that this is part of my "total knitting freedom" theory, and that I fully intend to stick with this little bit of wackiness.

But that wouldn't exactly be the truth.

The truth is that while I was knitting the body, I decided I really didn't like the contrasting ribbing. Have vague plans to cut off the body ribbing when I'm otherwise done, and then pick up stitches to re-knit. Re-rib. Whatever.

So I don't really have plans to leave it as-is.

I'm not quite that cool.

(I may, however, be that lazy.)

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 07, 2006


Friday, August 04, 2006

Anyone Tried This?

So, about a week ago, this was posted.

Lily Elite Cotton.

Hadn't heard of it before, and was intrigued. I'm pretty new to the whole cotton yarn thing, but it is quickly taking over my stash. I hadn't ever seen it in a store before, so I went ahead and ordered it from Smiley's, despite their minimum order policy.

It arrived yesterday.

Whether it would be more appropriate for facetowels and such than Sugar or Peaches 'n Cream/Creme, as Kaitie Tee wonders, I really can't say. Possibly. But then I'm pretty happy with things as they are on that front.

But what struck me immediately was its strong resemblance to:

Both are 100% cotton.

Both have 4 plies.

You can tell that the Rowan (red strand) is a higher quality, as the plies are more evenly spun.

And the Lily Elite is perhaps a little rougher in the skein, but not by much.

The Rowan is described as DK weight and the Lily as worsted, but I think they are closer in weight than this would suggest. In fact, the length / weight is identical, at least within any reasonable margin of error. With the Rowan, you get 85 meters per 50 g skein. With the Lily, you get 169 meters per 100 g skein. That's just one meter less of the Lily per 100 g.

Now. I love me some Rowan handknit cotton dk. Mighty fine stuff.

But even its strongest proponents have to admit that it is a bit pricey. According to Yarndex, the "MSRP" is $5.50 American for 50 g. I've seen it for less on eBay. And for way more in some yarn shops.

Lily Elite Cotton's Yarndex entry has an MSRP of $2.69-$2.99 for 100 g. Smiley's has it right now for $2.50, and says the "suggested retail price" is $4.99.

Assuming a price of $5.50 for the Rowan and $3.00 for the Lily (even Smiley's adds shipping), that's:

6 - 7 cents a meter for the Rowan, and
1 - 2 cents a meter for the Lily.

Seems like a crazy good deal.

Must explore further . . .

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some People Are Just Evil

Take, Dave, for example.

He's evil.

Just a little bit.

Dave is the sort of person who looks at your shaky resolve to finish at least one of the current projects (for example, that second sock that only needs a toe) before starting something new.

He looks at that resolve.

And he says to himself (or perhaps to one of his many minions), "Hrmmmm . . . maybe I can push this one over the edge."

(I imagine him rubbing his hands together at this point, eyes narrowed in focus on his nefarious plan. But you could imagine him laughing maniacally if you prefer.)

And then he does it.

He goes and leaves a comment on your blog.

Like this one.

"I say go for it."


Dave! Look upon what you have wrought!


In a good way.

It is awfully fun, after all.

Maybe I'll finish that sock this weekend . . .

(Awesome dishcloths, by the way.)


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No Such Place

You've heard of it, right?

Sleeve Island.

Marooned on Sleeve Island.

That place where knitters the blogosphere over find themselves once they've finished the backs and the fronts of their sweaters. The sweater is practically done.

Only it isn't really.

It only seemed that way.

Before the sleeves were started.

Because, as it turns out, they really aren't that small. (Why does it always end this way?)

Once we cast on the sleeves, the depth of our folly becomes entirely clear. It isn't even that the sweater is no-where near done. It is that the sweater has no end. It is Interminable.

Nowadays, I try to deal with this by doing the sleeves first. Ideally, I would do the sleeves first, then the front(s), then the back.

Because even I couldn't fool myself into thinking the sweater is practically done if the back hasn't been started.

In practice, though, I generally do the back first (can't resist), then a sleeve. And then the front and the remaining sleeve duke it out for last place.

Or (more often) I choose a pattern with very small sleeves. Or no sleeves at all.

Clever me!

And in this backwards manner, I've steered clear.

But the Island always remains out there . . . because there's always the risk that I will leave the sleeves to the last and run aground.

But check this out:

In Elizabeth Zimmerman's seamless yoke sweater, you start with the body as usual. You do the front and back simultaneously, in the round.

But before you can get too far -- before you can even approach a feeling of substantial progress -- you have to do the sleeves.

I repeat: You have to do the sleeves -- both of them -- up to the underarms, anyway -- before you can go any further.


No awful feelings of helplessness and despair.

Sure, you still have to do the sleeves. (No way around that.) But you're not stuck.

There is a very clear route back home.

And the way isn't so far.

Sleeve Island?

No such place.

It's more like Sleeve Isthmus.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006