April 29, 2003 Yesterday (well, I read it yesterday) there were some posts to the Knitlist about coned yarn, which my red wool that I'm knitting Mom's Fuzzy Foot happens to be. These remarks shed some light on my query about its properties:
"There are a couple tips: 1) knit your swatch and let it lie for 24 hours--the process of coning the yarn makes it stretch a bit and it will need to relax to get a true gauge.
2) When knitting from the cone, I wind off a couple rows' worth of yarn ahead of time so that the 'relaxing' begins before it hits my needles. Check your yardage before you begin--and remember, this may be the 'stretched yardage'--so make sure you have some extra yards (not miles, yards!)"
I used my groovy ball winder to pull two big hunks from the cone before I started, since I wanted to knit with a double strand, so the relaxing probably happened. And, since I've already knit one FF pair, and this is to be felted, I confess I didn't knit a gauge swatch (gasp!).
"Cone yarn usually has a different hand then skein yarn. It is designed for commercial machines and often has a finish on it (sometimes oily) that makes it easier to work in machines. Be sure to swatch it (with washing) so that you can see how it will end up. Coned yarn almost always blooms quite a bit in the swatch. I use lots of coned yarn, as do my friends, but experience has taught that it needs more foresight than a lot of skeined yarn (which has usually had either no finish - or the finish washed off in the skeining process).
This is the comment that seems to relate to my sense that this yarn is a bit rough to the hand. And I got one more email reply to my post about that, suggesting shampoo and conditioner, much like Bonne Marie did when I wrote La Bonne Tricoteuse at Knitty about recycling yarn. I'm into the toe decreases now, so I may even get to the felting tonight. Perhaps I'll give it a handwash with the shampoo and conditioner first, pre-agitation.
posted by Maggi at 4/29/2003 11:32:00 AM
April 27, 2003 And the winner is :
A gorgeous day, a few hundred people, one yarn vendor: it seemed like the best place to start. I'll save Maryland for another spring, when my stash has had a chance to dwindle. Purchase-wise, I came away with DK yarn for a sweater each for me and Caroline, who started the day in her sheep jacket, and finished in a wool fair T. Along the way we fed the llamas, goats and camels; took a tractor-pulled hayride; ate our picnic lunch; watched the shearing, the goat-catching and the clogging; and had our shopping moment in the barn, where we saw a knitting machine demo to boot. On the way out, we said good-bye to one of Chester Farms' newest additions, a lamb just a day or two old.
P.S. Chester started their fair in 1971, and then some folks from Maryland came down to check it out and ask if they could borrow the concept. Proprietor Francis Chester said sure, but requested that they not call it a "wool fair." Hence, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, in which Chester Farms remains a supportive participant, now in its 30th year. The guide to the fair shared this history and noted the date, next weekend, of the other, now larger, event.
posted by Maggi at 4/27/2003 10:17:00 PM
April 25, 2003 Decisions, decisions. I know I want to go to a wool fest and see some critters and some fresh yarn, but I can't decide whether we'll choose Chester Farms Wool Fair this weekend, when we could go on Sunday, or Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend. The latter sounds a bit overwhelming, with so many offerings, but the timing may be better. Chester usually has theirs two weekends, but dropped last week's because of Easter. Too bad, as I was off on Friday -- but, then again, it rained. Well, I'll have pictures here from one or the other, and welcome your recommendations.
As it's Friday again, the last in National Poetry Month, I'll offer this one from 1996 Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, who was born in Poland in 1923. I'm assuming she wrote this in response to WWII, but it certainly feels timely. (Translated by Joanna Trzeciak)
The End and the Beginning
After every war
someone has to clean up.
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
and bloody rags.
Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.
Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.
We'll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.
From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
and carries them to the garbage pile.
Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.
In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.
April 24, 2003 I started Mom's Fuzzy Foot Tuesday night with some yarn that a friend gave me. She used to have a knitting business; we have some Christmas stockings from that venture. Now that she is focusing on writing and teaching, she's gifted me with pounds of red yarn. When I started felting, I asked her if this yarn would felt, and she assured me it's all wool and quite feltable. The thing is, it's far from soft to the hand. Does anyone with great fiber knowledge want to say what factors make for softness? Does it depend on the breed of sheep? Does dying affect it? I posted these questions to the Knitlist yesterday, but have only received one response so far: "Softness of wool fiber is largely a function of the fineness of same. Various chemical treatments can make the fiber softer or harsher." Sounds like I was on the right track with my guesses. When I finish this slipper I will discover how the felted fabric feels, but I thought I'd make inquiries in the mean time.
posted by Maggi at 4/24/2003 10:08:00 AM
April 23, 2003
to my dear friend Pam, a new knitter of baby and doll booties, hats, scarves, bags (and that's just this year) who turns thirty (30) today!
Caroline stays with Pam during the day, so this morning we moms & kids gave her a little surprise breakfast party. The gift bag Caroline & I presented contained a vintage pair of US10-1/2 straight needles, a half-pound cone of red wool yarn, and Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting without Tears. Pam's nephew Jordan, 5, looking on as she flipped through its pages, exclaimed, "You can make anything!" Right on, little man.
posted by Maggi at 4/23/2003 07:11:00 AM
April 21, 2003 Today I decided that I'm going to make a single Fuzzy Foot for my mom, who had her right leg amputated in December. She's still in PT rehab and doesn't have her prosthesis yet, so one slipper will do her right for her upcoming birthday, even if slipper season is passing. She's watched me knitting every time we've visited, and got to see the Suki bag before and after, but I think it would be nice for her to have a little sample at hand (or foot, as the case may be!). She's had the Christmas quilt I made for her in 1999 on the bed since she's been there (I pulled it out as a seasonal addition, but she likes keeping it around), so I'll photograph it for the blog, too, when I deliver the foot on her birthday next month.
Now the pseudo-Suki will have something to go into the washer with. And if I'm fast enough, there's another pair in the queue for the fiance of the friend I made the first pair for (Lizzi, don't let Matt read the blog!), which I can try to present as a wedding gift, also in May. I guess these will lap the Haiku for a time, but I need a new carry-to-work project, and that sweater wouldn't be it.
posted by Maggi at 4/21/2003 04:07:00 PM
April 20, 2003 Easter greetings! I'm wearing the one-cable shell today, proudly, and will try to photograph it for the gallery later, now that it's not got ends dangling. And I'm making i-cord for the black bag, which is otherwise finished. I may wait to felt it with some other items, though, since it's an undesignated gift. If there's enough yarn, I may also make a tab closure that I'll sew to the inside.
Caroline's wearing something Maggi stitched today, too -- this bishop's dress I made last year when I took a smocking class. I'm so glad it fits perfectly right now, because I did not yet know what her size would be when I made it.
WE did a sort of practice piece in that class as well, which I plan to set into a jumper at some point. But I think the garment needs to be a bit bigger to show it off, so we'll have to wait for my little mouse to grow!
posted by Maggi at 4/20/2003 01:40:00 PM
April 19, 2003 I was happy with both swatches, but took a survey of two other women in the room when I was binding off the second (2 strands on 8s) swatch at Caroline's sitter's last night. They both chose the smaller stitches, which I agree is appropriate for a small garment for a child. So this morning I cast on the two sleeves, after calculating the pattern numbers last night. A Knitlister I corresponded with after she wrote about the same sweater had had difficulty fitting her sleeves into the armholes and suggested that I start with the sleeves. She ended up frogging her Haiku and I don't want that to happen, so I'll try to keep a close eye on the measurements as I go.
Gorgeous yarns arrived yesterday from Threadbear Fiber Arts, the Indiana business run by knit bloggers Matt and Rob (see links for Crowing Ram and Black Dog at right). Granted, I made the selection after perusing the dozens of Cascade 220 shades they offer, but my choice got the nod from Matt, who's something of a color guru. I should've taken a photo, but I already stashed it. I'll use it to make a felted daypack, from a pattern they also sold me (I pined for it after Rob featured it on his blog). So now I'm racing to finish the pseudo-Suki -- even if I may end up felting them at the same time.
posted by Maggi at 4/19/2003 03:28:00 PM
April 18, 2003 Still swatching. Here's a shot of the current sample, which is three strands of the yarn on US10s (6mm). I like this fabric; even though it's on the dense side, I still think it is workable. I don't want to go up a size, since the last thing I finished also used 10s, and the to-be-felted is coming along on 11s. So I will also want to see what I think of two strands, on the #8s.
And, it's another Friday in Poetry Month, so I've found a poem to share by a Dutch-American poet I've never previously read. This poem was anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2002. I chose it because Easter's two days away, before I noticed the word knitted in the last stanza.
Return to Saint Odilienberg, Easter 2000 by Claire Nicolas White
At the mouth
of a minor tributary
winding about a man-made hill,
rises the church, its two towers
like teeth. At its feet my parents lie
tucked under river stones
that she assembled there to cover him
then she too slipped in
pulling the coverlet up to her chin.
Years go by, time growing thin.
The bells ring distantly.
I hear them tug at me and bring
my own descendants there
to be aware of roots. They bring
bluebells picked in the meadows
left on the stony hearts
of those who built me.
Then the doors fly open
when Christ rises. In the dark
apse red blazes like blood.
Here all the cherubim assembled
sing me back, a child from the age
of those I brought from far to hear
what I heard then, AGNUS DEI.
Trumpets are announcing
a future still intact
with alleluias. How improbably
eternal is the need to resurrect
past knitted into future,
the world wrapped in a river,
the children and the dead.
posted by Maggi at 4/18/2003 10:43:00 AM
April 17, 2003 After I got those many ends woven in, I turned to swatching for the next project: the Haiku sweater from the first Knitty, to be a birthday gift for my goddaughter Amelia who turns one in July. I crocheted her brother a sweater for his first, then knitted the matching hat and haven't stopped knitting since!
The thing about this pattern is, the knitter sets the gauge. It's great in that it allows you to knit it with any yarn, but it's a bit of a challenge for me because I don't have the experience of knowing what texture of knitted fabric is "correct." Knowing that Kate has some of the same yarn I want to use, an acrylic called Nevada Misty (we both bought it by the bagful from Elann), I asked her what she was planning, strandwise and needlewise. The ball band calls for a US2 with one strand, but I knew I wanted to use two or three. She replied that she liked her swatch of 21st/24 rows to 4 in. (10cm), knit with two strands on size 8 (5mm) needles.
The thing is, I read that in the afternoon, but by the night my memory had messed with the message and I recalled her having used 7s, which I don't (yet) own. So I started a swatch on size 6, with the two strands, and got a pretty dense fabric. It's thicker than I think I'd want the sweater to be -- but am I the only judge? I guess it wasn't the easiest to knit at that thickness either. Too bad I didn't start out with US8, like Kate did, in the first place. Then I might have been happy matching her gauge -- but missed this learning opportunity. So I'll try that size next, but I think I'll also continue the experimentation, and education, by seeing what I want for three strands of Misty.
posted by Maggi at 4/17/2003 09:26:00 AM
April 16, 2003 Time for a photo of the cabled shell, pre-blocking and with unwoven ends hanging. I wasn't sure if I should block a body-in-the-round before or after the edge finishing, but I haven't done it yet, so this time it's going to be after. There's one big cable on the (wearer's) right side; I hope you can see it with this variegated yarn, which is Tahki's Fargo, a yummy wool/alpaca/acrylic/nylon blend, in the Neutrals Multi colorway.
The pattern came from Artful Yarns, one designed by Norah Gaughan for their Dance cotton. I had to go down a needle size to get gauge, so that means the yarn I used is bigger, right? When I ordered this yarn from Elann, I tried to get close to the amount the pattern called for in the Dance, so I am a bit surprised to find myself with three 60-yd. skeins left over. My neck and arm bands are slightly less wide than the pattern directs, but that, and knitting it circular, is all I changed. I'm not concerned to have leftovers -- I'm sure they'll end up in a scarf or something, and it wasn't particularly expensive -- just curious as to why my estimate was right far off.
In other news, Caroline attended her first baseball game last night and enjoyed it greatly. (Alas, I left the camera in the car.) Ten of my coworkers and their various family members went together to celebrate one staffer's April birthday, and it was a beautiful night for baseball, with a full moon rising over the outfield. Caroline learned how to remove peanuts from the shell, and got to practice her clapping. She was not ready to leave at the bottom of the fifth inning, but her bed was calling.
posted by Maggi at 4/16/2003 09:36:00 AM
April 13, 2003 I completed one arm band successfully last night, picking up three more stitches than called for because that's how it worked out and I need an odd number for the k1 p1 seed stitch I'm using instead of ribbing. This afternoon I tried to do the other one, ended up with four more stitches than the first (overage of 7 total), did it anyway to see if I could tell the difference, and discovered that yes, I could tell the difference and it looked BAD. So, a quick frogging and it's in the works now for a second go.
In blog news, I posted a fresh-today photo of the cat Ethan, looking regal on the sofa. Not bad for a teenager.
posted by Maggi at 4/13/2003 10:50:00 PM
April 12, 2003 While I'm about to turn to the finishing of the shell, here's a photo of the next bag-in-progress.
It occurred to me that I may want to stitch the handle on so that the pink part is rolled over, like a cuff, since that is sort of its inclination anyway. And with one strap, it may need a closure -- that could just go on the inside, so as not to interfere with the fuzziness. We'll see. (You may notice the beaded marker -- I made a few for myself last weekend when I was twisting some up for a gift.)
In other knitting news, I'm trying to decide what will become project #3 when the shell is done. I think the Haiku sweater for goddaughter Amelia, who turns one in July, is the front runner, although I'm dying to get to the Sitcom Chic for me (both from Knitty, of course), as well as what I'll call my Como sweater, since I scored that ribbon yarn from Elann about the same time Kathy did. And there's yet another summer sweater for myself waiting in that queue . . . plus a cabled dress for Caroline . . .
posted by Maggi at 4/12/2003 09:58:00 PM
April 11, 2003 I've finished up the fuzzy pink part of the new Suki-like bag, so it's on to the black remainder. Yesterday I broke down and purchased a US8 16" circ to finish the neck and arm openings on the cabled shell. I have one on order, but I'm feeling impatient and eager to complete the sweater. I did receive a reply to my emailed inquiry about the status of said order, and it's probably coming next week . . .
As it's the second Friday in National Poetry Month, I'm thinking it's time for a poem. (If I make this a Friday feature, you'll only have to see two more -- if I stop when the month does!)
This is quite an old one from Virgil, in a fresh translation by Robert Pinsky (who was U.S. poet laureate 1997-2000).
As when far off in the middle of the ocean
A breast-shaped curve of wave begins to whiten
And rise above the surface, then rolling on
Gathers and gathers until it reaches land
Huge as a mountain and crashes among the rocks
With a prodigious roar, and what was deep
Comes churning up from the bottom in mighty swirls
Of sunken sand and living things and water --
So in the springtime every race of people
And all the creatures on earth or in the water,
Wild animals and flocks and all the birds
In all their painted colors, all rush to charge
Into the fire that burns them: love moves them all.
April 10, 2003 OK, let's start with the blurry photo of the vintage button. I put the camera on close-up mode and everything, but its shiny surface is a reflective challenge, and let's say my less than steady hand was another.
Half a sphere of clear yellow plastic, it's incised on the back and those lines are painted with orange, yellow or green. The shank pokes in like a little 3-D flower -- the whole thing alludes to nature while remaining relatively abstract. Nice. Frances told me the other night that when an elderly neighbor lost his wife, he asked if there was anything she might want while he was in the difficult throes of packing and tossing. She knew the wife had this button collection, and he gave it freely. Now I'm just wanting to have a look at the rest of the lot!
And here is the new scarf, described last night, worn today.
Even in this detail shot, I don't think the sequins show up. Like I said, subtle. My colleagues who'd watched me work on it were duly impressed, as they were with the new felted bag I'd worked on in a prior meeting. They don't knit, so they're easily impressed. I'm just relieved they allow me to.
I like to have three projects on the needles at any given time, so last night I started another bag to felt, this one a variation on Kathy's Suki from Knitty, which I already made and use as my knitting bag. (See it on my knit stiches gallery page, or the magazine's.) Since I had some of the hot pink Cascade 220 and Duchess yarns left over, I'm trying a smaller black bag with the furry pink at the top and probably no stripes. I cast on 78 stitches instead of 112, and will work it back up to 84 instead of 120 when I finish off the eyelash. And I'm thinking of just one I-cord handle. We'll see how I improvise.
posted by Maggi at 4/10/2003 09:23:00 PM
April 09, 2003 I worked on my latest scarf during a staff meeting this morning, which is probably why I was able to finish it tonight. I thought I might put fringe on it, but there wasn't enough of the Lily left for ample fringe, and it's plenty long and good-looking (if I may say so) without it. I want to photograph it on, so that will have to be shot tomorrow. I'll describe it, though: It's 13 stitches on US13 needles, worked *p2tog, yo* p for the whole length. The two yarns stranded together are ivory Noro Lily (cotton/silk) and Great Adirondack Sequins, which is a hand-dyed rayon weave with the occasional tiny sequin attached. Subtle sparkle. I ran into a trunk sale for their yarns at my LYS in February when I went to buy another skein for the Fuzzy Feet. I ended up with the Sequin (the least expensive offering) and another ~350 yards of a mostly silk yarn in pinks to greens that I haven't decided what to do with yet. Suggestions?
posted by Maggi at 4/09/2003 11:06:00 PM
This is a test . . . this is only a test . . . to see if the commenting by Enetation will show up in a new post. Hello? Commenti? Dov'e'?
posted by Maggi at 4/09/2003 02:51:00 PM
April 08, 2003 I'm posting from work as I'm leaving soon to meet Frances for her (early) birthday dinner. She and I and her twin daughters were all born in the Year of the Rat, not that that's relevant. Inspired by Mama Kate's creativity, I made Frances some stitch markers to go in the Knitty mug along with a ball of some sequiny Berocco yarn, Lazer FX. I'll take my scarf-in-progess along, in case I am the first to arrive at The Hermitage Grill.
Still finding this blog building to be a sticky wicket, but I'm determined to figure it out. And I'll have a bit more time for it tonight, instead of knitting, unless the needles I ordered what seems like AGES ago from JKL Needles arrive without the anticipated e-mail notice. I need the small circ to finish the neck and armholes on the cabled shell . . .
posted by Maggi at 4/08/2003 05:34:00 PM
April 07, 2003 Here's the little purse I felted at S&B last week, knit in Plymouth Galway to a pattern they sell. My friend Frances gave me the yarn and pattern for my birthday, along with the crowning glory -- the vintage button, which, unfortunately, is not fully visible here. I'm tickled with my fun new bag.
I have spent a lot of time tonight trying to build this blog. Also a bit of time at work today. Stitch by stitch . . .
posted by Maggi at 4/07/2003 10:43:00 PM
April 06, 2003 I just did my first three-needle bind-off! These shoulders were only four stitches each, so it was pretty simple -- not sure I'd want to go that route for a greater distance. I'm working in a bulky yarn on this cabled shell, so I chose it for eliminating seams -- the same reason I knit in the round rather than on two needles. I certainly found, when I switched to two needles to shape the armholes, that circs are easier on the wrists, at least with this yarn. It's almost finished, and I think there's enough cool weather yet in spring to enjoy it!
posted by Maggi at 4/06/2003 10:54:00 PM
April 05, 2003 OK, just rounding out 2002 in this lengthy, multiple entry, again with the intention that I'll figure out how to put the pix in a gallery eventually. This is a small lap quilt I made for my dear friend Elizabeth for Christmas. When I visited her in September 2001 and was working on the 100 Good Wishes quilt pictured below, I had to run to Wal-Mart (it was the only option in her tiny college town) for some more muslin, and bought us each a tidy stack of "fat quarters," with the suggestion that we each make something for the other from the fabrics. She presented me with a beautiful crazy-quilt pillow for my 2002 birthday; it took me to the end of the year to return the gesture. I called this one Lizzi's Blues (& Matt's), because she got engaged while I was making it. The title alludes to a short film she & I made in 2000, Fishin' Blues (& Pinks). Their four initials are stitched on the corner squares. I ordered this pattern from Keepsake Quilting.
posted by Maggi at 4/05/2003 10:24:00 PM
I'm really not intending to overload readers with pictures of my adorable child, but at the time I chose to photograph her sweater on the model rather than on the hanger. This is the hooded sweater from the first Knit It!, designed by Bonnie Evans, knit in the Lion Brand Microspun the pattern specified, and even the same color, just because it was the one that most appealed to me. I've subsequently corresponded with the designer, who informed me of the erratum: the sweater is to be knit with a double strand. I didn't do that, and did wonder why I had a whole skein left. I had spotted another error, I thought, but didn't try to confirm it with her. My first go at grafting the shoulder seams was far from perfect -- somehow I must've done the opposite of kitchener, because it looks like a purl ridge rather than invisible stst. I decided to consider it a design element, and had better luck with the hood (I got my friend Frances to help!). I purchased the buttons at my LYS, The Knitting Basket.
posted by Maggi at 4/05/2003 10:13:00 PM
And here's the first thing I knitted in 2002, a pillow for Caroline's room. The pattern's from Rebecca 13; the yarn is Classic Elite Maya, a 50/50 wool/llama blend that I think is no longer available. If, in my first year of hosting a monthly Stitch & Bitch, I mended, quilted and made curtains, in the second year knitting took over, and now that we're about to start the third year (if we didn't last week), it's fully in control of my needles -- and most of the others that grace my living room on first Tuesdays.
[This photo was taken in January 2003, when Caroline was 20 months old]
posted by Maggi at 4/05/2003 09:53:00 PM
Some of the stitches I'll feature on this blog are quilting stitches. I want to put the pictures in a gallery when I learn how to do so. Thought I'd start with 2002: this quilt is the first stitched thing I finished last year, on 02/02/02, my birthday. This is a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes, quilt for my daughter Caroline. Almost all of the fabrics were contributed by friends, family, and other waiting parents whose adoption dossiers arrived in China in March 2001. I called this quilt Marcher Wishes and More; it was the second such quilt I made for Caroline, the first having been completed in April 2001 (in great part while watching my Duke Blue Devils advance to the NCAA championship!).
posted by Maggi at 4/05/2003 09:39:00 PM
April 04, 2003 This is a test. only a test.
Am I blogging yet?
did the date thing change?