27 February 2009

Labyrinth Rug Update II

This is why you get "before" pictures. I frequently forget the "before" picture, and I'm glad I remembered here. This is my Labyrinth Rug wayyyyyy back forever ago. My original blog post is from February 2008, and I claimed that I'd been working on it for months (that seems laughable to me now). I do remember driving up to Vermont from Georgia with the basket o' green yarn in the trunk of my car, so it has been at least fifteen months since I started -- eighteen or twenty, probably.

And this is the rug in early September.

I've pretty much ignored the mounting pile of green yarn next to my living room chair since then, but... well, like I said, I'm "between projects." And, of course, being "between projects" when it's Oscar time and the President's giving a not-quite-State-of-the-Union speech... well, that's what the Labyrinth Rug is for.

And I decided that, for the first time ever, really, I probably ought to measure this baby to see how far I've gotten. Up until now, I've kind of been guessing about my progress. So I got out the old sheepie measuring tape and learned that the tape itself is five feet long. (I've never bothered to pull it out all the way! I figure, if a project is big enough that you've got to measure it in feet, it's probably something you should just be estimating anyway. A blanket's a blanket, right?)

Anyway, I spread the tape on the floor and the rug beside it in lengths, and learned that it's a whopping thirty feet long! And, um, ten+ of that I've done in the past four days or so.

I marked the 30-foot point and added about two more while watching the Daily Show. Now I'll have a better visible gauge of my progress than trying to make Kitty stand next to the rug every time I want to take a photo of it. The safety pin is far less likely to get up and walk away while I'm lining up the shot.

Also, I'm getting to the point where I'm using up some of the smaller skeins of yarn. Since I'm only halfway through, I may need to reconsider some of my pacing. Then again, the point of this rug is to use the scraps, so I'm not going to sweat it. I'm only about halfway through the skein of Lamb's Pride Worsted I bought just for this project, so I'm okay with that.

I'm not entirely sure that I'm okay with going another eighteen or twenty months on this project. (A math problem: if I'm halfway through the knitting at thirty feet, and it took me twenty months to get there, what is the probability that I will poke my own eyes out before I finish this rug. And not for not liking it. I still like this rug, even after twenty months of knitting and only half a rug to show for it.) What I'm saying is, I may need to step it up a bit.

25 February 2009

Into the Frogpile with you!

This is Thorpe (Ravelry link), a pretty stranded hat. I wanted to make it for Husband. I must have cast on for this baby five different times. When I finally got my fingers to follow the pattern, the hat was wayyyyy too small to fit on my head, much less Husband's -- but I was totally getting gauge! I do not understand.

There was so much about this project that wasn't coming together anyway: I didn't have any bulky yarn I liked handy, so was doubling worsted for both colors. I couldn't find all my size 9 needles, so was making do with two DPNs and a circular. I had to concentrate on the increases far more than was fun.

The icing on the cake: by the time I got enough of the hat done to see whether or not it was going to fit, etc., I decided the colors looked ugly anyway. FROG.

Yarn: Peace Fleece worsted (the oatmeal color - I forget the name of the colorway), Bartlett Yarns unlabeled worsted (the orange/creamsicle color) (this was a gift, I think, or a quick sale -- hence no label).

19 February 2009

Accidents Happen

So, Husband and I were supposed to go to Boston this past weekend, but Sister called on Sunday after church to say "I'm sick. Nephew's sick. Don't come."

So suddenly we had a free two days that we weren't anticipating. We were bummed, because we really want to see Nephew, but we didn't want to be a burden on Sister and didn't want to risk spreading the germs anyway. So we stayed home.

I'd planned to go to my Sunday afternoon knitting group, but took a nap that went a wee bit too long, and just couldn't motivate myself to get out of the house. Besides, the knitting that was tugging at me was something I've been wanting to learn for a while -- and not something I wanted to learn while sitting in a coffee shop with my 4-12 closest knitting buddies. You know what I mean. I love you gals and all, but learning something new requires a kind of focus I'm just not going to achieve in that space.

I'd looked it up on Ravelry, this thing I wanted to learn. I've seen a few mittens lately with a beautiful vertical-stripey cuff, and (a) had no idea how to do it, and (b) had no idea what it's called, so didn't really know how to ask. Turns out, it's called the Corrugated Cuff, and someone who claims to be an expert says it's a traditional Norwegian thing -- although, Selbuvotter doesn't mention the Corrugated Cuff or show any pictures of it at all. That kind of has me wondering.

Let me back up a minute here. Selbuvotter is, in the words of author Terri Shea, "a research project that [she] accidentally over-achieved." Really, it's a book about Norwegian mittens, particularly from the region/town of Selbu, and the economy that was built on the backs of the women who knit these particular mittens. And then it has a ton of patterns!

Anyway, I bought this book in the KnitPicks book sale, read the whole thing on the airplane to DC two weeks ago, and decided that a stranded mitten project was just the thing for my personal Lenten Discipline. (The book in the photo above is Mason-Dixon Knitting's second book: really good section/instructions on beginning Fair Isle technique.)

Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter. Traditionally, it's a time when Christians give up something they like (maybe a bit too much) -- something like chocolate, or red meat -- something that is perhaps a bit of an indulgence anyway. It's a good time to think about what's really important in our lives, why we make the choices we make, etc. It's a time where we focus on self-discipline.

And, in the self-discipline mode, there has been a newer movement in the last, ohhhh, maybe 10-20 years? that suggests we take on a discipline for Lent rather than give up something. In years past, I've carried around a bottle of water and been very intentional about drinking a certain amount every day -- normally, I forget to drink water, and generally tend to ignore my body and its legitimate basic needs (sleep, food, water). For several years, Lent was a time when I'd focus on my physical well-being through simply making sure I wasn't dehydrated.

Well, I'm totally still dehydrated. But I needed something new for Lent this year, and I figured that a knitting goal to learn something new would be just about right. I've known theoretically how to do stranded knitting for several years -- but knowing theoretically how to do something and actually doing it are two different things. This year is the year I actually do a stranded project, dammit!

I like the Corrugated Cuff, I wanted to learn how to do it, and yeah, Lent is still ten days away or so (it begins on Ash Wednesday, which is February 25 this year), but I'm between projects and kind of chomping at the bit on this thing, so I figured I'd just learn how to do the cuff. That would take a while, right? And meanwhile I could think about what other project(s) I'd like to do.

Weeeeell, it turns out that figuring out the cuff was easier than I thought. Looking it up on Ravelry helped, of course, but I thought I might have a harder time than I did. I cast on 54 stitches, knit one solid round, and began a k2, p1 rib (on a corrugated cuff, you knit with the main color and purl with the contrasting color -- a very cool effect). The next thing I knew, I'd made a good 2.5 inches or so, had gotten the hang of it, and was ready to move on. Out comes Selbuvotter!

I figured that, since this is my first stranded project, I'd try one of the simpler, symmetrical patterns -- one I liked enough to wear, but not so much that I'd be heartbroken if my tension was all off and it looked funny. I settled on Annemor #2, figured out how to fudge some of the math (the pattern calls for a ribbed cuff of 40 stitches -- I started with 54!), and found an America's Next Top Model marathon on TV. In other words, I settled in.

Um, the mitten didn't quite take as long as I thought it might. I did modify the thumb-hole a tiny bit, in that I did a tubular cast-on rather than a backwards loop cast-on for the top stitches. (That way I could alternate the colors and carry both strands more evenly.) Husband made dinner, I knit. I got to the decrease-for-fingertip part and went to bed -- at a reasonable hour, even!

Monday, we got up and I finished the fingertip. Then I talked Husband into accompanying me to a local coffee shop, where I proceeded to cast on for the second mitten. Five hours later, I'd finished that fingertip, too. We went home, we ate dinner, I knit a thumb, we went to bed.

Tuesday after work, I finished the second thumb and wove in the ends. I... accidentally made a pair of mittens. And accidentally did my Lenten knitting project before Lent started. Whoops!

So I guess now I have to figure out what my Lenten Discipline is going to be. Hmmm.

(Yarn is Blue Sky's Alpaca Silk; size 4 needles. I used almost a whole skein each of the gray and the white -- I only had one skein of white, but two of the gray, which is why I made gray the main color. Just in case I ran out of that first, you know. I'm kind of amazed at how little yarn these mittens used, really. Or how much yardage comes in a single skein of Alpaca Silk.)

Not perfect, but pretty anyway!

16 February 2009

And now, a picture of sheep.

Since I'm between projects, I thought I'd just show you all a picture of sheep and be done with it for a little while. These sheep are being herded by a team of dogs during the Scottish Festival in Stone Mountain, GA. Must be 2007? Something like that. It looks like they are running straight towards me -- and, well, they are -- but they will soon turn because the dogs will make them. I did not get trampled by sheep.

14 February 2009


My friend Samantha managed to take pictures of me wearing multiple Finished Objects at once: Tangled Yoke Cardigan, and Flurries Hat and Mittens. Perhaps she should win a prize. How's "undying love and affection" for you, Sam? Or maybe continued invitations to Friday Night at My House? I'm hoping that will be acceptable, 'cause I ain't got much else to give right now.

Yes, the Flurries Hat is done. The 126 stitches of the lining was exactly right, and my original math of 98 stitches for the Flurries was right-on despite the earlier math difficulties with the Cashsoft, so I have no idea what I was thinking. I love that it's a little bit cloche-like, and also that the pink of the lining peeks out next to my face. It peeks out from the cuffs of the mittens, too.
I knit the lining all the way up to where I'd need to start decreasing, so the hat is super-thick and -warm. Hooray! You can kind of see the "ridge" where the lining ends in this photo that Samantha took -->

After she left, I tried to take more pictures of the hat myself. Most of these attempts were rather unsuccessful, like this one:

(who am I kidding? That's one of the good unsuccessful attempts!) But eventually I did get it right.

Anyway, I'm officially "between projects" right now... which actually means that I am only working on the Ugliest Socks Ever and the Labyrinth Rug, neither of which are seeing much progress at the moment.

11 February 2009

Taking a Mulligan

I'm trying to make the lining for the hat that will match these mittens.

I went to DC last week to visit some friends and take a little mini-break. Through a perfectly normal series of plane-delay happenings -- which seemed rather surreal due to a significant lack of sleep the night before -- I managed to get stuck in Kennedy airport during the first half of the Superbowl. And what else can you do when you're stuck in an airport during the Superbowl but sidle up to the bar, order dinner and a large Cosmo, and watch the game and halftime show?

Oh, yeah. You can cast on for a hat, too.

Now, I did my math well. I did my math sober and after a good night of sleep, even. And I double-checked that-there gauge. I was supposed to cast on 140 stitches of this Cashsoft for this hat, and that's what I did. Twice, in fact. The first time, during the Superbowl, I managed to twist my stitches, and only discovered the mobius-strip quality of my knitting the next day. So I frogged it, and made extra-sure (no Cosmo this time) not to twist my stitches when I cast on my 140 again. Two days of travel-knitting: in the car, in the DC Metro, in Jennie's living room while watching movies... came to the end of the ball... aaaannd the darn thing is huge. The above photo is me, wearing the hat lining over my glasses. It fit quite comfortably that way, thank you. A little hard to see, though.

I did attempt to salvage the work by trying out my friend Tara's serger -- not on the Cashsoft, thank goodness, but on some spare knitting scraps that Tara had lying around her apartment. (And forgot to take photos, of course.) The serger idea didn't so much work, so...

Into the Frogpile with you!
There goes all the travel knitting from my time in DC.

Ah, well, frogging builds character.

Then again, I forgot to recheck my gauge before I frogged, so I just had to guess. I cast on 126 stitches last night, and hopefully that'll be a better fit.

09 February 2009

Good Cable, Bad Cable

See this cable here? The one my finger is pointing to?

You wouldn't know it unless I told you, but that is a mis-crossed cable. The cable that's crossed over the top is supposed to be underneath, and vice versa.

Oh, and it's two rows down.

I mis-crossed this cable on all 20 pattern repeats. Because I'm awesome. Sigh.

Rather than rip out several rows of cabling, thereby risking untold numbers of dropped stitches and losing my place in the chart (there were 400-some stitches per row at this point!), I decided that it would be better to do a micro-fix of each mis-crossed cable. First I took out the four stitches above the mis-cross, and dropped down to where the cable-crossing actually happened.

Using an extra DPN of the same size as my main needles, I picked up the four offending stitches and crossed them correctly, then (using a second extra DPN) re-knit the next stitches up one-by-one, very carefully.

Then I continued knitting along until I got to the next spot where I needed to drop stitches and start over. I did this on all 20 mis-crossed cables, so my Tangled Yoke came out perfectly. (The misadventures along the way are half the fun of the knitting, right?)

Et voilĂ ! A correctly crossed cable!

My Tangled Yoke Cardigan has now made public appearances in both DC and Vermont. If by "public" you mean "a friend's living room." I have yet to get someone to take an actual picture of me wearing the darn thing, though. Still, it has been OOHed and AAHed over appropriately, so I ain't complainin'. I have a nasty head cold right now, so it's not like I'm really out and about anyway.

06 February 2009


I cannot believe I've been knitblogging for three years. I missed my 2nd blogiversary altogether, and celebrated the first a couple of months after the fact. But now I've done year three, and, frankly, I'm amazed that I've stuck with it this long.

I think that knitting is a bigger part of my life now than it was when I started the blog. Thanks for reading, and sharing this journey with me.

03 February 2009

The Tangled Yoke Cardigan Is Officially Done

For now, I'm just posting a couple of Finished Object photos. Tales of my escapades with this project will have to wait for another day.

Wet-blocking. There was so much lanolin in the yarn, the FO needed to be washed pretty thoroughly anyway. I will have to go back and steam-block the buttonhole band, because it's curling as it dries.

A close-up of the yoke. When I did a search as I first started the project and needed getting-over-it help, I couldn't find any close-ups on the internets. So here's mine. Pay it forward.

02 February 2009

Flurries Mittens -- Felted!

Dear Laundromat Washing Machine Repair Guy,

Okay, so I know it's not really all that nice of me to felt my knitted items in a machine that is not my own. That's why I put the mittens in the pillowcase. I checked faithfully, but the pillowcase kept opening and the mittens kept swishing themselves out as the machine agitated. I am terribly sorry. Next time, I promise I will use safety pins to keep the pillowcase closed. This is the way it's going to have to be until we are able to get our own washing machine. Monday was laundry day.

Please forgive me,

p.s. but aren't these mittens so wonderful?!!?!? love love love!

01 February 2009

The Knitting Queen

Now that she's done with graduate school (CONGRATULATIONS!!!!), my friend Jennie has resurrected her knitting blog, which was the original inspiration for my blog. She's even given it a facelift, with new pretty colors and a cleaner general aesthetic. So you should all go visit her blog and leave lots of encouraging "glad you're back!" comments.

I, for one, am going to visit her. In person. Right now.

In fact, I wrote this entry ahead of time and scheduled it to post while I'm in-flight. Jennie, please remember to pick me up at the airport!