December 2002 Archives

I hope everyone on this

I hope everyone on this side of the Atlantic had a good Thanksgiving and that everyone else had a good week. John and I just saw my parents and my brother and his fiance on their respective ways back home. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with a house full of people.

I got my first trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Chicago and we also took a trip down to the Science and Industry Museum in my old stomping ground of Hyde Park. Mom and I also found time to try out one new knitting store -- Tangled Web in Oak Park. This store packs so many good things into a small space and has very friendly people inside. Their selection is incredible -- in terms of both yarns and colors.

I was pretty restrained on this trip, but I did manange to find worsted weight "manly" dark colored soft superwash yarn and a pattern for making socks. I'm going to set off on a new knitting adventure: double pointed needles. Any good suggestions for working with them? I must admit to being a little bit intimidated by them.

Probably the only "bad news" of the week/weekend is that I ripped out my felted bag and am going to start over. It just seemed like it was coming out too tight and I was worried that it wasn't going to felt well. Since I was playing around with "correct continental knitting style" I made more mistakes than I think I should have. I know it will be felted, but it was driving me crazy.

I bought a bigger pair of circular needles from Tangled Web and am going to start tackling that operation again tonight!

What A Day! Usually the

What A Day!

Usually the worst day of the week is Monday, but this week, I think the dubious honor will go to Tuesday. One little disaster after another at work from data problems, to customer problems, to internal server problems to critical bugs to people problems and back to server problems.

I gave up on my socks last night (just temporarily) because after my third cast on and a couple of rows I wasn't happy about what I was seeing. It seemed like I was having problem getting good tension between the stitches that were on separate needles. I was also having great difficulty holding all the needles and tensioning correctly. I started using a K1P1 rib, but I am wondering if K2P2 would have been a better approach? I think maybe I am trying to do too much learning at once.

I was also cursing the EROS (ladder yarn) that I am knitting a top secret Christmas present with. I dropped a stitch and the stuff is nearly impossible to go back and correct errors in without major ripping. Nearly thought I was going to have to start the whole thing over, but I did manage to only have to rip out just before where the drop ended. I think after this project I will be done with ladder yarn for a while. I love the way it looks, but the stuff just requires too much concentration for "quick" projects.

To soothe my nerves from socks and EROS I switched to something totally for me and totally comforting -- a scarf knitted out of Berroco Furz -- black center strand with nice soft white fuzzies (shade 3811) . I picked up this yarn when I was up in Traverse City, MI about a month ago. The woman who was working in the yarn store also gave me a very simple pattern for making a scarf with it. Since it is so simple, I don't think it would be a problem for me to pass it on. I've got a couple of inches so far and I am very happy with how it looks.

Simple Furz Scarf Pattern
(courtesy of very nice people at Lost Art Yarn Shoppe in Traverse City, MI)

  1. Cast on 30 stitches
  2. Knit 12 rows
  3. Row 1 Knit
  4. Row 2 K1, P1
  5. Repeat steps 3,4 until desired length
  6. Knit 12 rows
  7. Bind off

The gauge for Furz is based on size 10 needles (but I am doing mine on size 10.5 because they are the only circulars I have free right at the moment). I think 3 balls of Furz are required to complete a scarf of reasonable length.

I'm thinking this might be a good "airplane project" for me. I am travelling to Paris on business next week and wanted to have a project I could take with me. Everything else besides the socks that I have going is on pretty large straight needles or just is a big project.

The Furz feels very nice to work with. It's lovely and soft and slips over my fingers and needles well. Since it has a K1, P1 row, it is giving me a good work out using tensioning that doesn't involve throwing. I hope by the time I am finished I will be comfortable enough switching back and forth with K and P stitches that the socks will be no problem at all.

Calm After a Pleasant Storm

Calm After a Pleasant Storm

Our Holiday party was last night and I think it was a success. We had way way too much food and now we have a house full of cookies from our cookie exchange. Guess who will be taking left over Polish food to work on Monday?

Now I am trying to relax and trying to get ready for my trip to Paris. Fortunately, I can dress pretty casually when I am there. Does anyone know any good yarn stores in Paris? I am going to have Saturday to myself to shop. I am looking forward to seeing the City of Lights before Christmas, but I must admit to being a little nervous about the whole trip. My French stops at:

Ou le taxi, si'l vous plait?


Je ne parle pas bien francais. Est-que vous parlez anglais?

I don't think I am going to get any time to edit my BLOG, but I will be taking the Furz scarf with me. I've got 16 hours of airplane time, so maybe I'll make some reasonable progress since I only have 2-4 hours of laptop time. It's gotten pretty cold here in Chicago so I could really use the scarf about now! When I get back, my amazing sock knitting friend, Julie has promised me a hands on sock knitting lesson. Hopefully by then my tensioning skills will have gotten a little better.

Julie also just delivered my beautiful Longaberger baskets. Two small ones I ordered are going to go along with two of my "top-secret" Christmas knitting projects. The other basket is going to be a "small project" travelling basket for my knitting.

Home Again I am back

Home Again

I am back from my journies in France. Paris is an incredible city to visit -- so many interesting slices of history. I got a chance to visit a wonderful store (La Drogherie) while I was in Paris. It had yarn by weight for sale and some adorable children's outfit kits along with the most incredible collection of buttons and ribbons and beads that I have ever seen. Since my current stash is already quite large, I decided to look without buying anything. But they did have some bulky chenille that I was very tempted to take home with me!

I was struck by how different Paris is from American cities (in terms of age and stores and types of food) but I was also struck by how similar it is as well. Very strange to see McDonalds and the Gap next to traditional French cheese shops! I really only had Saturday to look around at Paris (the rest was spent in Palaiseau where I was on business) -- someday I hope to go back with my husband and spend more time walking around and eating.

I was lucky to be able to stay in the home of a French colleague while I was there. She introduced me to some incredible cheese, fois gras and escargot. I never thought I would ever eat escargot, but they turned out to be quite good. I will add a little Christmas shopping to my list for her children who were beautiful and a pleasure to be with. Her oldest daughter is learning English and she spent some time teaching me French words while I read to her a little in English (she's 8).

I worked on the Furz scarf on the way to Paris, but stowed it in my checked luggage on my way back because I was worried the circular needle might not make it through the security check. I do like working with Furz, and I am getting much better at tensioning continental style and going back and forth between knit and purl stitches. I think I am almost ready for my sock lesson from Julie.

Christmas Gifts Completed Well, I

Christmas Gifts Completed

Well, I just finished my last "top secret" gift. To be honest, I only had three of them this year, and all three were pretty simple to complete. Pictures will come after Christmas -- after the recipients have had a chance to comment on them!

My Furz scarf is now 2/3 of the way completed. I think I should have made it a little narrower so that it could have been a little longer. I've only got one of the 3 balls left and it's only 36". I have a feeling it's only going to end up about 54" long -- but it will still be warm and toasty.

Now I have to decide to see if I can "rush" one final top secret gift project or if I am just going to go back to a few of the things I am working on for myself and John...

Successful Rush Job Well, last

Successful Rush Job

Well, last night I decided that I would take on one more secret Christmas present. It was my first stab at designing something on my own. It is very simple, but I think it worked out well. I used Stacy Charles Rondo in Color 610 I had picked up a couple of balls of this ribbon yarn over the summer and had no idea what to do with it. My secret project is meant to complement a Carribean cruise, so I wanted something lightweight, airy and with light-tropical colors.

This was one of the first times that my stash came to my rescue. Normally I know exactly what I am going to do with all the yarn I buy.

I have to say, sometimes I absolutely ADORE big needles. On size 15s, my project came together in 4-5 hours. I'll put up the picture (and the pattern) after the holidays.

In "honor" of my record knitting time for a project, I decided to take stock of my WIPs and post them at the top of my BLOG. I really need to get to work on my Arans!

SOCKS!!!! Yesterday was quite the


Yesterday was quite the day! I had planned a trip to visit my friend Julie for a lesson in sock knitting and double pointed needle usage that nearly got upset by something I needed to take care of at work. As a result of both projects I now know how to map sequencing reads to our genomes with BLAST (not earthshatteringly difficult) and I have the start of a beautiful sock for my husband!

I always learn better when I learn from someone. Sitting down with Julie to learn a few tricks about dealing with socks and double pointed needles made all the difference in the world. I know have about 1.5" of sock for John. It probably won't be fast going for me, but I don't think I have as much fear of socks as I used to.

John also did me a big favor last night by taking pictures of all my knit gifts. I should be able to get those up before the first of the year! Digital cameras are wonderful!

I am not sure if I will get to post anything else before the holidays commence and my trip to Ann Arbor commences along with them. Soo....

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Litany of Secret Creations, Part

Litany of Secret Creations, Part 1

Well, Christmas was an excellent time for me! I have a bunch of things that I want to post and talk about. I got some lovely gifts, added to my stash (of both books and yarn), made some progress on some existing projects and started some new ones.

I want to start with the first Christmas gift project that I completed. The design comes from a pamphlet called "Designs by Judith, Scarves and Stoles, D513" -- its the Quilted Lattice Scarf. This is a scarf using Manos del Uruguay -- I think the colourway is called "Wildflowers".

Unfortunately the large photo doesn't do the colors justice. I love the detail on this scarf -- just enough to make it interesting, but not so complex that it competes with the coloration of the yarn. Here's a detail snap that gives a better idea of the colors and the texture.

I probably should have blocked this scarf, but I decided that a little more rustic look was more fitting to both the yarn and the use -- a nice comfy winter scarf. The scarf was definitely a hit with Mom -- my dad liked it too, so I may have to make one for him in a more dark and manly colourway.

Litany of Secret Creations, Part

Litany of Secret Creations, Part 2

Scarves were the focus of my Christmas knitting this year. During the spring of last year my knitting buddy, Julie and I were touring Chicago knitting stores. We wandered into Knitter's Niche late in the afternoon and I discovered EROS -- metallic nifty ladder yarn. The store also had some model scarves made up of the stuff, which I assumed would be hard to make. The pattern I got is the same pattern that Bonnie Marie posted in her BLOG on December 8th.

I made the first one for myself (cursing that ladder yarn the whole time because it is not the easiest stuff to work with and its really tough to fix problems with it), and swore that was it. Until, of course, I got some complements on it. Then I went on to make one for Julie and my monther-in-law. Of course, those drew nice comments, too, so I decided to make them for my sister-in-laws-to-be for Christmas.

I made my brothers wife-to-be this one out of
Trendsetter Binario Colo Rio Red (103)
-- I loved it because it was so vibrant and because the ladder edge cords were red instead of black like they are with EROS. I knit it on size 13 needs to make it a little wider than the first ones I did.

I made John's brother's wife one with a more business oriented color palette -- black and silver and a little yellow -- EROS#3246 The colors don't come out quite as distinctly as I would like, but it looks great on a cream colored shirt or with a black jacket.

Now that I've done a number of these scarves in a number of different ladder yarns (Julie's scarf was out of Kitty, and my MIL's scarf was out of Schachenmeyer) and I am starting another using Madil Film, I have to say that I think the best one is Trendsetter Binario -- the colors are luminous and it knits up a little easier than the others. Big warning here -- this stuff requires a lot of attention when you are knitting it so that you don't stich into the ladders iinstead of your loops. But if you have a little patience, these make lovely gifts -- especially for yourself!

Litany of Secret Creations, Part

Litany of Secret Creations, Part 3

This is the last of my Christmas gift scarf pictures. This was the one that was the simplest and went together the most quickly. However, it is probably the one I am most proud of because it combined two things:

  • I learned how drop stitches work
  • I "designed" the scarf all by myself

I wanted Mom to have a Carribean cruise scarf, but I didn't have enough time for an EROS style scarf, so I used some Stacy Charles Rondo, color 610. This is what the scarf looked like:

And here is a close up detail of the "stitch pattern" that I used:

The "pattern" is very simple. It can be almost any width that you want it to be, for size 15 needles, somewhere between 12-15 stitches cast on would be good. Then:

  • Knit 4 rows
  • (K1 YO2 ) for as many stitches as you have
  • Knit 6th row, dropping YOs as you go
  • Continue until scarf is desired length, end with 4 knit rows

Mom liked it, and it did come out light and airy!