Monday, October 31, 2005

Garden Party Shawl

Finally, here are pictures of the completed shawl:

Big thanks to my friend Beth for the photo shoot.

I have worn it a lot already and I love it. This is, for sure, one of my favorite knitted items of 2005.

1,600 stitches!

So, I cast off the 1,600 stitches and went a looking for my husband to give me a little admiration. I grabbed him in the hallway and did the ole "Honey.....notice anything?"

Him: Looking me up and down, registering on something new: "Nice sweater!"
Me: Well, thanks! Hmmm, (mumbling) it's not a sweater."
Him, trying: "Nice jacket......nice tiara....nice shawl..."
Me: No response (I was stuck on tiara. What the heck!? Tiara?!)
Him, still trying: Nice.....woolen item #857.

Woolen Item #857 (Garden Party Shawl by Two Old Bags)
6 skeins Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool
The dk weight yarn, knitted at a worsted gauge, gives the fabric a beautiful drape.
I might even make another one. Someday.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Survivor Update

We have a frontrunner! Jan correctly guessed that Amy would be voted off. I was so sorry to see her go, I loved her voice. So with one correct guess, someone has finally taken the lead! Yea Jan!

And I have to admit, like others have said, I'm just not as into it this season. Maybe it's partly due to the contest, (Like joining a KAL mysteriously kills my enthusiasm for a project) or maybe its because I'm watching too many darn reality shows. I'm watching Amazing Race, Survivor, and both Apprentices, and I'm having trouble keeping eveyone apart. Except for that Jim on the Martha Apprentice. I guessed Judd last night because he was the main one I could remember! Okay, I took notes last night like a big nerd, and I will now do better.

So I have finished the back and one side front of Willow. I read somewhere that the each back and front is 30%, and both arms together are 40%. (Which doesn't take into account the sewing and finishing, etc.) But if that is the case, I'm 45% done.

Which is pretty much where I get bored with a project and put it down. Needing a little variety, I dug into my Cotton Ease stash and matched it with this pattern, from VK Winter '02:

I was considering doing another Hourglass sweater, (one that fit better, this time) but then I remembered this pattern, and it fits the bill of being a basic pullover, like the Hourglass, but with that nice little cable detail on the shoulder and the mock turtleneck that I like.

I planned to knit it in the round, and had already ordered the new Bryspun circulars I'd need for the Hourglass. (My favorite needles, now in circular!) I can't knit cotton with metal, my wrists can't take it.

Humming away last night, on truly mindless stockinette in the round, when bam! I've never broken a needle before at the join. I guess I'll be calling the company today to see what their policy is. I'm just bummed because I was really excited about these needles.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 27, 2005


All day today, I've been thinking it was Wednesday, and I had plenty of time before my Survivor Contest reminder! Thanks to Lauren and Jan for the reminders!!!

So, I guess, I'll say Judd to get voted off, and I'll be knitting on my Willow, or pehaps that new thing I just cast on (bad Em!) But more about that later.

And, believe it or not, I have something for you, even though I already posted today, because my friend Beth came over to take pictures for me (shout out and a big thank you to Beth!).

Here's my finished Rebecca sweater; I wore it today for the first time. I knit it mostly over the summer, and it went so fast I hardly blogged about it at all. But when I finished it the neck was too tall, and I didn't like it (the whole sweater). I took it to a knitting group the other night, prepared to steek it into a cardigan, when someone said "if you just rip an inch or so off the neck, it will be cute" and everyone agreed. Alrighty then, how easy was that?!

I was a little self conscious in it, being big and white and bulky and all, but I actually got 2 compliments in the 30 minutes I was out in public. So here goes:

Details: Free pattern online from Rebecca magazine found here.
GGH Goa 16 balls (the pattern called for 17) and I did make it a little longer.
Overall a very cute and easy lace pattern, although I think I did encounter an error or two along the way, if you are knitting this, check to see if the numbers add up before hand, or e-mail me and I'll look back at my notes.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Useful Information

First, thank you to everyone who left comments about my Halloween costumes. I love your comments! Especially on those days that I don't get out much, having a blog makes me feel like I have a party going on in my living room, and we're all in there talking about our projects, and there are people there who get it, and care about my little stuff.

Thank you thank you thank you!

So, I was lucky enough to actually be at a little knitting party this weekend, which was wonderful, (Hi Carla! Hi Jodee!) and I was knitting away on my Willow, and someone noticed that I was cabling without a cable needle. I was thrilled to find several people to whom I could demonstrate how awesome and easy it is. I learned a few years back, at Wendy's site. Definitely go there and try it, you will never use a cable needle again (except for stirring coffee, or poking people).

And then, I was knitting at home on the armhole decreases, and I remembered this really useful piece of information that I learned a few years ago from the knitlist, and I thought it might be a handy thing to share here.

Most people know by now, when doing decreases on the armhole or neck, to make a SSK for the left-leaning-decrease, and a K2T for the right-leaning decrease.

And most of the time, you will have instructions (for one side of a cardigan) like, say:
(RS) Bind off 5 stitches
(WS) K one row
(RS) dec. 1 stitch at the armhole edge this row and every alternate row 4 times.

Fine. You are always decreasing on the right side of the fabric, and so you know to do a SSK or a K2T, depending on what side you are on.

But what if it says this:
(RS) Bind off 5 stitches
(WS) K one row
(RS) dec. one stitch next 3 rows.
Then dec. one stitch alternate rows 3 times.

When you have to decrease one stitch next 3 rows, you will be decreasing sometimes on the wrong side of the fabric, so what do you use? You are decreasing on the wrong side, and you want the stitch to lean a certain way on the right side. Well, you could do what I did for awhile and fudge it, so it looks like crap.

Or, you could learn these 2 more decreases:

For the K2T side, it is easy, you always pair it with P2T on the wrong side, and it will lean the same way.

For the SSK side, it is trickier. You need to use a Purl 2 together, through the back loop. I attempt to show with my crappy close up photos:

Here I am after binding off the 5 stitches, and I've done one SSK on the right side, I'm purling across the back, ready to do a P2TBL (but I'm showing you what it looks like on the front, so far):

Here I am at the last 3 stitches:

The trick is, you really have to turn that fabric around, and go in from the opposite side, (the front, in this case) first through the 2nd stitch on your LH needle, then the 1st stitch, both as if to purl:

Here I am scooping my yarn and purling it through:

This is what it looks like from the front--see how there are 2 rows of leaning stitches?:

Now I have done the third row of decreasing, another SSK on the front side:

And I had to do the same thing on the neckline, see those decreases traveling up the neck? Those are K2Ts paired with P2Ts on the backside:

I expect you can understand it better from my words than from the photos. I just think that this is one of the most helpful pieces of knitting information I ever learned, and I wanted to pass it on.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All About the Halloween Costumes: Part II

Which brings us to Halloween, this year. I really intended to rise above my Halloween over-achiever tendencies and just buy the darn things.

Sweet Miss Four Year Old (who just recently discovered Princesses) decided that she would be Cinderella. Easy. There must be a billion Cinderella costumes in America. I casually checked out the costumes at Target the other weekend. Hmmm. $24.99. For a piece of crap. Husband could see the wheels turning. Uh oh.

But here's my reasoning. I could make something for $24.99, that would be substantial, something that the girls could play dress up in for years to come, something that wouldn't melt at the first drop of rain like the total cheese costume you can get for $24.99.

So I venture out to Joann's last week, Cinderella in tow (and baby sister.)

We make a beeline for the "Costume Fabric" clearly labeled, right inside the door. 50% off. We pick out a white organza number bejewled like sprinkles. Excellent. I can't find a decent light blue sateen, so we head back to bridal. We're going through the fabrics, I'm pumped up. I'm eyeing the prices as best I can, but I am confident, since I am armed with 40% off coupon.

Then, faced with bejeweled fabrics in the cart, Baby won't stay belted. Must. Stand. Up. Cinderella, faced with design decisions, transforms into Isaac Mizrahi. Won't listen to mom. Must have dark green zipper with light blue fabric.

My magical little trip with daughters has gone wrong. Carrying baby around like a football since she won't stay in the cart, pushing the cart with the other hand, we make the necessary selection of ribbon trim. Get a number at the cutting counter. Realize that I didn't get a pattern. Fabric amounts to cut? I can't risk getting out of line now. I can wing it. Anyway, I have a coupon, right?!

So I'm wrestling the baby, Cinderella is still whining about the green zipper, and I find out the organza with sprinkes was on the wrong table, and is expensive, and is NOT half off. And by now, Isaac Mizrahi has her heart set on the sprinkles, so there's no going back. But I have a coupon. Right. So we get through the cutting counter experience, go get a pattern, and head up front to pay.

In summary, I've now spent fifty bucks on this freakin Halloween costume, and there is major assembly required. What was I thinking.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

All About the Halloween Costumes: Part I

I have fond memories of making Halloween costumes with my family as a kid. My dad had a box of theatrical makeup from his college theater days, and he really got into it. I swear: face paint, a box, and some duct tape, and you were in business. My favorite was when my brother went as a tree. That one required a little chicken wire, as I recall. Those were the days that we wore view-obstructing masks and mobility-restricting appendages, and trick or treated way after dark.

Good times.

Even in college, I have some favorites that were simple. The teabag, that just required a yard or so of fusible interfacing, some leaves, string, and a little tag you could magic marker up in just a few minutes after being invited to that party. Or the leftover, which just requires a box of aluminum foil to wrap yourself in, and some masking tape to make a little label "Meatloaf. March '89".

These days it is much more complicated. Year one of babydom, we had the skunk:

What a success! (Success not measured by how good the costume was, or even how cute he was in it, but by how much he made the friends and neighbors laugh! Lots of laughs! Hooray!)

Next up, we bring you the monkeys (same pattern, McCalls 8938):

Not such a success. Are they mice? Cats?

No, see the tails! Oh, they're MONKEYS. Oh. Hmmm.

As I look back, this might have been the turning point from sewing their costumes to knitting them. I bring you, my all time favorite, the Ladybug:

She liked it so much she wore it two years in a row. Gotta love that. And she wore the hat all year long with her little red coat.

And the Tiger:

Same deal, he wore it two years in a row, and he wore the hat all winter.

Here are the specs:

Ladybug hat from Zoe Mellor Animal Knits. Cascade 220 red and black, one skein each. Black turtleneck, tights, and ladybug wings from Old Navy.

Tiger hat from Zoe Mellor Double Knits. Rowan Magpie orange and black, one skein each. Tiger jam jams from Hanna Andersson.
Posted by Picasa


The winner of my new-project tryouts was "Willow" from Rowan's A Season's Tale. Apparently, there are 2 Rowan patterns called Willow, because when I googled it, I found several of the "other" Willow, but none of this one. It is the cabled coat on the right in this picture.

I am doing it exactly as the pattern, except for the stripes on the collar. Mine will be solid. I'm using black bulky Thaki Soho Tweed, that I scored at at sale 2 years ago. I got a lot. Then I went back and got more. Enough for a big sweater, so big it could be considered a coat. It's been in the "Too Good To Use" bin for long enough, don't you think?

Its black with tweedy flecks of purple, pumpkin orange, red, olive green, and dark aqua blue. And, being bulky, it's working up fast. I've got the back and one front done up to the armhole shaping.

I love making a marriage between a Beloved Stash Member and a Pattern-I've-Always-Wanted-To-Make. We'll see if this is a match made in heaven. So far, so good.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New Project Night!

Sorry for the crap photo, and this post will be brief! It's only 2 hours til Survivor and I was wondering if any of my hard core Survivor players were going to check in. (In case you're just joining us, leave a comment and tell me what you're knitting, and who you think will be voted off.) I think it's starting to get interesting!

Here's what I've finished in the past week or so:

The Garden Party Shawl (1600 stitches!)
The Rebecca sweater out of Goa
The Tiger socks for #1
The multi socks for #2
The knee highs for #2
A pair of flip-flop socks for sis

Here is what is auditioning for my next project(s)

Willow from Rowan A Seasons Tale in Thaki Soho Tweed
Triada Scarf Summer 05 IK) in Anny Blatt Chimere
Lacy Kerchief Scarf in Rowan Cash Soft
Dinosaurs (Christmas) from Xtreme Knitting
Lorna's Laces sock to finish
Sally Melville gauntlets in Koigu
Swirly Wrap from Blue Moon Fiber Arts--won't make the cut because I can't find the yarn
Charlotte's Web--but it won't make the cut because I can't break into my pairs of Koigu
Kathy and Moll from a Cork Collection in Rowan Cork
Meringue Yoke Cardigan in Merino Frappe

Sorry for the lack of links and photos, gotta run before dinner burns and the kids ransack the kitchen!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Girls Day Out

I am lucky to have a fantastic Creative Arts Center nearby. The Fine Line Creative Arts Center was started 25 years ago by some wonderful and inspired nuns. They have classes in fibers (knitting, quilting, dyeing, baskets), pottery (sigh, someday), jewelry and painting, among other things. (This is the place we rented out to do our dye day back in February.) They also have a small but very nice yarn (whoo!) store.

Every year they have a wearable art fashion show fundraiser, Uncommon Threads. It's at a fancy hotel in Oak Brook, with a luncheon, a runway show, and a boutique of accessories. My sister has been a juried artist in the boutique for the past three years, and this year the three of us (my sister Allison, my mom, and me) went, for a very special girls day out.

Here is Allison, at the boutique, standing behind her hats.

Close-up of the hats.

I ran into another friend that I had met a few years ago at the Fine Line when we both worked the holiday show. Here she is, standing in front of her beautiful felted scarves, bags, (and she also had knitted-wire-jewelry in the show). Laura has a full time job, does this artistry on the side, and is even president of the Windy City Knitting Guild, Wow! Go see her great website.

Here is my mom, standing in the big (400 audience members big) ballroom. Mom is wearing a quilted jacket I made her, and one of Allison's hats. Awwwww.

And of course, the day would not be complete without a group shot!

Tomorrow, the shawl!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sam Sweater

You've seen this sweater finished already, but here's a modeled shot. I got the meteor to stop hurtling through the living room long enough to get a quick photo.

"Sam" from Mission Falls Wee Knits. Cotton Ease in Strawberry Cream, less than 3 skeins. I knit the CE on one size smaller needles (at about 19st per 4") and it doesn't seem to stretch out at all in this firmer fabric. I'll do the same next time I knit a sweater for me.

I'm ready for your Survivor guesses! In case you are new to the Survivor Contest: Leave me a comment and tell me what you are knitting, and who you think will be voted off. At the end of the season, the person with the most correct guesses will win Fleece Artist sock yarn. So far, no one has made a correct guess, so the odds are pretty darn good.

I wove in the ends of my shawl last night! Tonight I will be finishing up some socks and swatching. My guess is: Cindy. Good luck!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

She Likes It!

Here it is, my first Mindless Knitting FO of the reality-show season. The French Market Bag for my mom. See! She likes it!

Great project. I used 2 skeins of Cascade 220 in burgundy, and 1 skein denim blue. I used the excellent strap modifications found here, and I knit the bag 13" tall before felting.

Since I was knitting the bag taller than the pattern, I wanted the blue contrast portion to go higher up also. I was running out of the blue at the base of the bag, and I didn't know if I would have enough to do the handles. So, I decided to go ahead and knit the handles ahead of time, then set them aside and finish the blue completely on the base. How thrifty am I?!

Here I am running out of blue while knitting the handles, I actually had to rip back about half a round on the base to have enough for the second handle. How mad would I have been, to have knit the whole bag and run out of blue yarn a few rows from the end of the handle? It was a proud knitting moment, I felt so clever. And thank goodness I have a blog, because the moms at preschool pickup just wouldn't understand.

This is one thing I love about knitting. There is almost always a different way (or several ways) of doing something. By doing the contrast portion of the handles ahead of time, I just had to kitchener on either side of the handles (4 times) instead of at the middle of handles (2 times). No big deal. Besides, the magic of felting covers up the crappy kitchener job a person might do when they are tired, and on their fourth kitchener seam.

No felted bag post would be complete without the ubiquitous gigantic pre-felted-photo:

This bag was a fun, straight-forward project. I knit at least one felted bag every year before I remember how much I don't like making felted bags. So, so long felted bags, see ya next year! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Still Ruffling

One ruffle down, one to go.

I didn't mention in my last post, that there are actually TWO ruffles at the bottom of this shawl. I was in denial. I can't believe that the last five inches of anything could take me more than a week to finish!

I had hoped to wear this Sunday to church. Not finished. Then the goal became Tuesday (today) to the zoo. After all, if you're going to run around like a crazy woman muttering "1,400 stitches!" to anyone in the vicinity, where better to do that then to the zoo animals. They won't talk about me behind my back when I'm gone. But its still not finished.

The thing is, though, I don't care. I'm such a "finished product" person, that I'm usually impatient with the process. With this one, I love the yarn, I'm immersed in the knitting, I really don't care that it's not done, no matter how much I want to wear it. I love, love, love knitting it. Love the Silky Wool. Love the color. Love the ruffle. So pretty!!! Love it!

I really intended to write an intelligent commentary here, but I see that the shawl has reduced me to first grade story homework. See the ruffle. So pretty. Love the purple. Yum. The end.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Real Knitting Content, For A Change

Survivor Update!

I have to admit that I haven’t been enjoying Survivor as much this season. Maybe it’s just getting a little old. But old, schmold, Fleece Artist sock yarn is at stake!! The Survivor Contest is just gearing up, no one has been right so far, the field is still wide open! Just leave a comment, tell me what you will be knitting, and who you think will be voted off.

I going to stick with last week's vote of Stephanie, and to see what I’ll be knitting, read on.

Last week we had a one-day cold snap here in Chicagoland. It was about 60 degrees, excellent weather for that Perfect Little Something.

I wore this.

*Warning: 4 year old photographer at work*

Here's a better shot:

Manos Cotton Stria, great yarn, cute pattern, but bad marriage of yarn, style and my body type. This is NOT “That Perfect Little Something”. It turns out, I don’t have That Perfect Little Something. A nice lightweight little something, something chic but comfy.

In search of the P.L.S., I cast on the Garden Party Shawl from Two Old Bags.

I bought the pattern at Stitches. With all due respect the two old bags, the picture on the pattern front does not do justice to the beauty of this simple shawl. In fact, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance if it were not being modeled by one of the Old Bags herself (who IMO, was not old, nor was she baggy.)

Now I’ve knit one shawl before, its a big triangle knit with bulky yarn. I know that shawls require a lot of stitches. I understand the concept that, if I’m using DK yarn for this one, it would require a WHOLE LOT MORE stitches.

So, I start with twenty-something stitches at the neck area, and knit down. The rows get bigger and bigger and slower and slower. I am now about ¾ through the shawl, and I have over 350 stitches on my needles. Then, get this. There’s a ruffle. Oh yeah, ruffles use a lot of stitches, don’t they? Well, after giving a precise stitch count after every row, the Old Bags now tell you “don’t do the math, it’s too overwhelming.” As far as I’m concerned, they might as well have sent me an engraved invitation to do the math.

So here I am at the ruffle, with already over 350 stitches on the needle, and I’m supposed to freakin KFB (knit into the front and back of EVERY stitch), and then knit back across that row. Then, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Are you ready to do the math with me? Hold your breath.

350 stitches.

KFB every stitch= 700 stitches.

K back across. (700 sts)

Again, KFB every (freakin) stitch= 1,400 stitches.

K back across (1,400 stitches)

Bind off 1,400 stitches.

Will you please pause with me now, for a moment of silence?

Thank you.
Posted by Picasa