April 2003 Archives

Hitting the Shoulders

Not too much knitting today, but I do have a picture of the progress on the pullover for John:

Collar and Shoulders of Rubino Sweater

This is the sweater after casting on the shoulder rows. I'm really quite surprised how nice an edge this makes. Now it'll be pretty much smooth sailing down the armholes and to the bottom.

And what was I doing instead of knitting.... configuring Movable Type at my new webhost. I registered keyboardbiologist.net (I know, you're all heartbroken now that this domain isn't available any more) at GoDaddy for $8.95/year. I'll be at blogspot a while longer while I set up my new place but I am having a lot of fun re-decorating in my new home!

Genomics Humor

Happy April Fool's Day to Everyone!

A Major Sequencing Center (Sanger) in the UK Released the T. rex Genome Sequence today.

Check it out at Ensembl T.rex

I've been subject to a lot of April Foolishness today, but this is the only one that got me -- probably because it would be so totally cool if it really was true. Even if you're not a biologist, it's fun to check out.

Be sure not to miss the section on Unique Dinosaur Genes. You don't have to like science to be amused by some of the entries they created.

Have fun!

Midweek Report

It's been one of those knitting weeks where I spend time going from project to project to project working a little bit on each one. The result? Nothing gets finished fast.

A lovely phone conversation with a good friend whose baby was supposed to be due today got me motivated to get back to the secret thing I was making for her. I'd gotten it most of the way through and then was sure that it wasn't going to look good, so I didn't even block it. Well, after blocking it, I discovered that I shouldn't have waited so long to block it, because the blocking really did make a difference. So now I am working on the border in hopes that I can finish it and get it together before the baby is too old. Here's a pic of the border:

Border Pattern in Cashmerino

When I first started knitting this I had no idea how neat it would turn out. The more things I do by Debbie Bliss the more I really like her stuff. I learned something new with this border as well -- how to handle a yarn forward while knitting. Before this little piece, I understood the part about bring the yarn to the front, but I was sort of baffled as to where the stitch increase came from. Not any more! Thanks to another Debbie Bliss book Learning to Knit that has great pictures (I've learned several techniques from this book), I finally was able to figure how the yarn forward/knit thing works. So after I finish up a few of my current projects, I should be ready to take on Neroli again.

TV time means simple project I can knit in the dark time, so I got back to Mom's sock. Here's a picture of the progress so far:

Koigu Sock Top

I'm liking the colors in this sock better than I did when I put up the first pictures. Especially, since the more I look at it, the more I think how well it will go with my mom! The Koigu is so soft and easy to work with, too. It was hard to put the sock down so I could blog tonight.

And, last but not least, for those of you who love quizzes and have been confused about what your gender might be, I bring you the most entertainment I got from the web today:

The Super Scientific Remarkably Accurate Gender Test

Answer some questions, let the test tell you where you fall. I fell right on the middle between male and female (it thought I was male), but my husband got the right prediction. Definitely worth the 5 minutes, even if you don't get some HTML and a cute picture at the end to post on your blog!

Yarn Forward, Knit


Well, I spent some of the day preparing for my move to my new home: www.keyboardbiologist.net. I'm still working on getting Movable Type to do what I want it to, so it will probably still be a little while before I stop posting at my blogger space. I'm looking forward to the move though, because Blogger just doesn't always work when it should. Tonight, for instance, I can't upload a new template so that I can update my links. Not sure why.

I am still making gradual progress on several projects. Not enough to be worth using up bandwidth on pictures though. However, I do invite you to check out a little something I put together this afternoon: a pictoral guide to Yarn Forward, Knit

Welcome to My New Home


Well, I am a little embarrassed. I invited everyone over here, but didn't turn on the porch light or shake out the welcome mat. Thanks to everyone who left nice house-warming words anyway! And to those of you just dropping by, welcome on in!

I am still working on the template and the stuff in it. I'm more familiar with tables than with HTML layout by div tags so it'll be a while before I get everything tweaked just like I want it. Overall, though, I am definitely enjoying Movable Type -- almost everything can be tweaked or changed. So very cool.

What is also cool is my webhost, at least so far. I am pleased with how quickly pages load. Some of this is because I no longer have to have HaloScan to have comments, but a lot of it is probably due to a good webhost.

Life is very busy at work, so I don't have any new pictures to share (unless you want to see my explorations into Gantt diagrams). But I am working on my border, my sock, and John's sweater. I need to keep working on that border since the recipient just announced the arrival of a beautiful baby girl!

Happy Birthday, Jane!

A Short Break


Its been really lovely to get so many nice wishes for the blog. I would do it even if it was only my mom who read it, but it is nice to know that other people drop by.

Note to Mac users... I don't have access to a Mac I can test with, but I will try to figure out how to make it better. My mom has a Mac at her house and I will be visiting Ann Arbor this weekend for my Dad's 60th birthday, so there's a chance I will at least get to play see what the problem is there. Hopefully I will get a chance to make a trip to Knit A Round tomorrow while we are there -- they have a huge selection of fun yarn.

I can't believe that this will be my third entry without pics. I hope after the weekend (8 hours of driving between Chicago and A2) I'll at least have a sock or a border to show for my efforts. These past two weeks at work have been extremely busy and trying. Thank goodness that I have a wonderful husband who knows when a woman needs a margarita!

Have a good weekend!

On the Road


I had a wonderful day yesterday. The weather is perfect for spring here in Ann Arbor, and my parents live on 10 acres of wonderful land north of the city. Yesterday was filled with good coffee, birds, yarn stores, tractors and accessory design.

Mom and I only got to wander through one store yesterday: Flying Sheep Yarns. If we were only going to see one store, this store turned out to be a good place to go for two reasons: Opal and Colinette. My only purchase was a skein of CR-10, but I finally got to lay my hands on some Giotto. It's always nice to find fun sock yarn, but finding the Giotto was like falling in love -- this stuff is beautiful. I like the Colinette yarns I have seen, but this is the first one that I have actually thought, Wow...I really need to do something with this!

The day also took us to a bead shop (which I enjoyed, but in which I was unable to find any combinations that really grabbed me for stitch markers) in Plymouth, MI called Plymouth Beading.

We tried to visit the Old Village Yarn Shop (also in Plymouth), but the store closed earlier than we had anticipated.

Because none of the other stores I would like to visit are open today, Mom and I are going to do something else instead... cases for circular needles and double points. Mom has a huge collection of fat quarters for doll making and an extraordinary Husqvarna sewing machine so we're going to spend the morning coming up with some storage solutions for my burgeoning needle collection

Happy Birthday Dad!


I'm going to make up for the lack of pictures in my last several entries. First of all, I'd like to introduce the most wonderful father in the whole world: my Dad.


The tractor I am sitting on is one of his favorite toys -- a genuine John Deere with a front loader. It's an awful lot of fun to drive around on this big green machine -- especially when you've got 10 acres of land to cruise around on. Here's a picture of Mom & Dad's backyard:


In case you wanted a better shot of the tractor, here's a pic of John getting some quality time in with "J.D." (as Dad occasionally refers to the tractor).


Lest you think that this tractor has no relationship to the knitting content of this blog, I'd like to present this shot:


These tire treads screamed out to me that there should be a stitch pattern for them. I'm thinking it might be cute on a pair of socks or as panels down the front and back of a sweater for Dad.

Speaking of socks... I did finish the first of Mom's Koigu socks today. Now I can get to work on the second of the pair. I had a reasonable amount left over from the skein. So, if I had wanted to, I could have added a couple of inches to the sock top (this one is only 6" from ribbing to top of heel).


While I was working on the sock, Mom was working magick with her sewing machine to create two circular needle sorters. I did a little of the grunt work for these, but she did all the sewing and decorating. The one one the left was the first one we did and we kept the embellishments to a minumum because I wanted the fabric and pretty bead fringe and hanging cord to stand out. The one on the right was the second one, and Mom decided that she wanted to spice it up so that it would be more fun to make.

JuliesHolder.jpg CircularNeedleHolder.jpg

This project was definitely a family production. It's hard to see, but the cords are tied into a lovely piece of walnut that my Dad cut and prepared. The idea for this came from a simple canvas version that I saw in a Patternworks catalog. Since I have been collecting quite a few circular needles these days, it seemed like it would be quite a useful thing. However, I wanted something more attractive than the one in the catalog. So these are the result.

She doesn't know it yet (wink, wink) but the green one with the leaf-motif will be going to visit (and hopefully stay!) with Julie as a little thank you for her help with making those stitch markers a while back.

This Shouldn't Be A Surprise to Anyone...

Sometimes these quizzes do give you a surprisingly "correct" answer.

Gratuluje! You are Polish!

Find your inner European Part Two
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm not Polish myself, but I definitely come pretty close (my Dad's family is from Lithuania, my husband is Polish).

Hopefully this will be the first of two entries tonight. I do want to explain how the needle holders were made -- the whole thing is very simple if you have a sewing machine.

Right now I am sitting at work waiting for an ornery server to reboot...

Circular Needle Caddy Pattern


For anyone interested, here's the link to my "pattern" for the circular needle caddy.

Circular Needle Caddy

The pattern is pretty simple -- there aren't too many tricks to making it work out. It is handy, however, to have a mother who knows how to work a sewing machine and a father with woodworking tools -- especially if you are like me and don't know how to use them yourself.

If you don't want to deal with pieces of wood, you can substitute in a regular plastic tubular hanger -- not the same look, but definitely the same functionality!

Please let me know if there are things I can make clearer in the pattern.



Well, here it is! I finally have both pieces of the suprise gift in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino completed! Here's the border in all it's glory:


Doesn't seem like much in the picture, and while I love how it looks, after almost 60 pattern repeats I must say that I am a little bored with it. Here's a close-up that shows more of the detail.


Now I am trying to convince myself to attach it to the piece that needs the border. Finishing doesn't bother me all that much, but once again, this is something like 98 inches of mattress stitch and it's a little hard for me to get myself motivated. So in order to create a little motivation, I've told myself that I can't start turning this


Into this:


until I get that border attached to its mate. There is still a lot of today left to go, so I actually do have hope that I might be working on my Summer Tweed tomorrow!

Summer Tweed


First off -- I did accomplish my mission of last night to finish the baby present. All that remains to be done is to give it a wash in the washing machine and then to send it on to Boston where the good friends and new baby reside. I don't think Sue checks my blog out, but until she gets it, I'll hold off on the pictures and commentary on the project. Suffice it to say, I am happy it is done. Does anyone know if Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino can go into the dryer as well as the washer? I've been searching for info this morning but haven't come across anything conclusive yet.

I altered my "deal" with myself yesterday so that I could have a few treats along the way in the finishing process. I let myself start the Summer Tweed swatch. When I finished the first edge, I got to cast on the swatch. When I finished the second edge I got to do the garter stitch border... just little bribes so that I could try something new while I finished something old. Here's a picture of the swatch, minus my usual messy desk background (this picture also represents my first foray into trying to use the magical parts of PhotoShop). The little jacked in yesterday's post is called "Pebbles" and the body of it is primarily moss stitch. The swatch has a garter stitch border and moss stitch inside, but with this yarn it is difficult to tell the difference.


I was pleased with myself, because I did knit to gauge on the first try with the suggested needles. Here's a closeup of the swatch to give you a better idea of the color (no PhotoShop magic here because I got lazy...)


First impressions and comments on Summer Tweed, which is a 70% silk, 30% cotton blend and is pretty much dry clean only...

1) This stuff has exactly NO elasticity. It pretty much stays where you put it. For me, this means that I really have to remember to snug up edge stitches and not pull too hard on anything that would lead to creating a gap.
2) I did not like the way it knit on bamboo needles -- too much grab. I switched to my Swallow Casein needles and liked the process much better. I suspect metal needles would work well, too, althought that might be too slippery.
3) This yarn has 2 plys, and it can split, although it doesn't split easily like some other yarns. The Swallows have more rounded, shorter points and this also decreases the likelihood of accidental splitting.
4) Because of the lack of elasticity, I find that this stuff takes more effort to knit with than does wool-based fiber. It has definitely slowed my pace down a bit.
5) The yarn is not at all scratchy and feels nice against my skin -- almost like a broken in terry-cloth washcloth.

I like the look very much. Powder (the color I am working with) ends up having a very "faded denim" look to it when knit up -- I love blues in this range, so it's perfect for me. I think it's going to be a great little jacket thrown over a T shirt and jeans.

If I like the way this project comes out, I would very much like to do another pattern out of the same issue of Rowan Magazine, Dune(I'm very into lace edges right now), but maybe in a very different type of color -- there are some lovely colors in the "deeper red" or purple range (like Sunset and Brilliant) that I think would be great.



Look what I got in the mail today from Rob and Matt at ThreadBear. Koigu in three wonderful shades and Cascade 220 in Rainer Heather!


I think most of the Koigu is destined to be socks. The Cascade is likely to be felted into a daypack. I am really looking forward to diving in to another felting project!.

I'm almost finished with the second Brazil sock and am making gradual progress up the back of Pebbles. Pictures of those will show up this weekend.

Note (Added 4/25/03): I can't believe I forgot to put the colorways up for the Koigu! From left to right they are p107, p122 and p126. And the p126 is much more interesting in person than it is in the picture: purple and blue and green jewel tones with orangey accents.

Sometimes there's nothing like seeing the recipient to make me get my act together and get something finished. Watching my Dad try on the first of these socks when we visited for his birthday got me set on getting the second one completed so that he could have a set!


These socks are made in Opal Brasil which Emma gifted me with to encourage me to get started knitting socks.

What did I learn from this project?

1) I knit these socks on needles that were too big. The recommended needles for Opal are 2.5 mm. Since this is between US size 1 and US size 2, I decided to go for the bigger needles since I tend to knit tightly. I think US size 1's would have been a better call.

2) I knit these socks on two circular needles and chose Crystal Palace bamboo needles. Bad choice again. The needles are nice, but not when you have to slide stitches over the joins a lot. The metal joins definitely aren't as smooth as the joins on my Addis. Also, these needles are 16". The ends of the needles kept getting in my way. I'll be sticking with 24" and greater from now on.

3) Opal can be a little strange. Take a look at the toe of the top sock. It almost looks like the Opal changed patterns. This was the first sock. I had 10-20 yards of this odd colorway and then it switched back to the main pattern.

4) Opal is fun yarn to knit with. I love the patterning -- in spite of the sock being all stockinette, the pattern in the yarn kept me going.

Here's a closeup of the pattern:


The question I leave for the reader to ponder is "Why are these socks fraternal?" (Hint...it's not because of the funky toe of the top sock).

Back to Pebbles


My focus for the weekend was Pebbles. Much to my own surprise, I am finding that I like working with the Summer Tweed. I like that it stays where it gets put. I also think it drapes nicely for a yarn that I would have expected to be kind of stiff. I have not had problems with it breaking, nor does it smell bad (even when I dampened it to block the back). I think moss stitch is an excellent stitch for the yarn -- you can tell there's texture and I think it enhances the tweedy quality. I do find that working with it dries my fingers out a little bit, but once I got a little more comfortable with my tension, it wasn't rough on my skin and didn't feel bad at all.

This isn't the greatest picture, but here's the back as it blocks:


The colors are a little deeper in real life. I found that on the first few inches my tension was a little bit tight. I loosened it up (I stopped pulling at the stitches after I pulled them through, and the tension was much better) and both gauge and knitting comfort got better. It was good to do the back first. Not only did I get the most boring piece out of the way, but I got to figure out how the yarn behaves on a part of the sweater that most people won't be scrutinizing. Now onto the front!

I also got a few more goodies in the mail from Rob and Matt at ThreadBear. Here's the Cascade that I plan to make my next felting -- the Two Old Bags Felted Daypack -- project in:


The purplish skeins are the Rainer Heather, the greenish skeins are 9450 (I don't know what it is called). I've actually got enough for two bags. In one the dominant color will be the Ranier Heather and in the other the dominant color will be the 9450. Rob has kindly felted both colors and displayed them on his blog -- I think they will go well together.

I also got some color consulting help from Matt for a project which I cannot describe here on this blog. But I wanted to show you one of the beautiful color combinations that he selected (and the one that came in the mail for me).


The top skein is p201, the bottom skein is p319. I wish the beautiful orange and green tones came out better in the p319. I think they will be stunning together, both skein's colors complement each other so well! Thanks again, Matt! I think these are going to be perfect together.

And last, but certainly not least, I wanted to direct you to a neat page: my mom's dollmaking club, Looking Glass Dolls. My mom has recently gotten into dollmaking, and I am hoping someday she'll let me post some pictures of her wonderful creations. One of the dolls on the page is actually a knitted doll -- the one called Green Angel. The woman who makes the knitted doll, Kate Carras, is having a class at Knit A Round in Ann Arbor on May 17th. I'm hoping to take a little trip to A2 to see if I can take the class with Mom.

Danish Design


I am lucky enough to have a good friend in Denmark. I met him through my currect job and I learned a great deal from him about programming and user interfaces before he returned to Denmark to take a university position. I've been talking to him a little bit about Danish knitting designers and he sent me a link that I thought I would put up so that everyone could check it out:

Marianne Isager

I would love to make Skyggejakke (the sweater on the front page). Looks like she also has her own yarn. No US distribution yet, however.

Not much knitting action to report. I cast on the second of mom's socks last night (literally, that is all I did, one cast on row of stitches), and I figured out the increases for the left front of Pebbles. Talk about not entirely clear pattern information for a sweater that is supposed to be "easy". Oh well, I think I figured it out -- if anyone else does this sweater and would like my charting, let me know. I'm not quite 1/2 way to the armhole on the front left. I love the cable! Aside from the instructions being a little opaque, this is a very clever little sweater.