August 2003 Archives

St Tropez, Skein 1

My 4th Filatura summer top has begun in earnest. Here's the progress from the first skein:

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Yep, I know, it's very exciting 18" x 7" of stockinette (I've actually managed to get a few more inches done since the picture was taken a couple of hours ago). So far, so good, however. This stuff doesn't knit up too badly. I have to watch it a little more than non-boucle type yarn, but I still had no problem cruising around the blog ring and working on this piece. I do like the drape of the fabric as it is knitting up. It's not a terribly elastic fabric, however, and even though I am knitting to gauge, I have a feeling that the top will end up a little looser than it looks on the model. I'm thinking I've got a good chance of getting the back finished this weekend and having a good start on the front by the time Monday rolls around.

I am beginning to tire a little of cotton-based yarns, however. Which is not so good, given that I have two more of them to go before the summer's done.

I got a chance to duck into a Borders on Wednesday night, and I was hoping to find the new Interweave Knits or Vogue Knitting.

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I pretty much struck out on both counts with the magazines, but I did finally decide to pick up Nancie Wiseman's The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. This is one of those books that I've picked up and put down a number of times, mostly because I kept telling myself that I already knew how to do mattress stitch, and I had a copy of the Vogue Knitting Bible. But after paging through it again I decided I liked both the illustrations in the book and the author's attempt to provide hints about when -- and when not -- to use a particular technique. It goes way beyond mattress stitch. It also has the extra added advantage of being a lot more portable than the big Vogue book.

Julie and I are heading off to Flying Colors in Clarendon Hills tomorrow to check out another Chicagoland store that we haven't visited yet and to engage in a little retail therapy (we'll be there around noon for anyone who might like to join us). My goal is to be good and not indulge in too much (or any) new yarn, but I know I will probably cave in over something. I've been thinking that I might like to try Julie's felted bag pattern in some fall colored Kureyon, and I need some US size 4 Addis...

St. Tropez to Completion

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2 Skeins:

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3 Skeins:

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Finished:

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The take home message from this project: don't trust Filatura's yarn requirements, get yourself some extra buffer yarn if you decide to do a pattern from this book. I needed a reasonable amount of yarn from a 4th ball of St. Tropez to finish off the front of this top. Granted, it is possible that my gauge was not exact. It seemed pretty close, but it's a little hard to tell with the St. Tropez.

In fact, it's hard to tell a lot of things with this yarn. Can you tell whether this is the right side or the wrong side (the right side is stockinette)?

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Can you tell that I accidentally switched from knitting on the right side to purling on the right side in this picture? If you can, you've got better eyes than me. I've got the fabric in front of me and really can't tell unless the light hits it the right way. St. Tropez is pretty much the ultimate in error hiding yarn. Even though I can't tell, this piece will probably become the back (where I can definitely pretend it's all knitted correctly).

I did get to try out a new technique for this top -- knitting backwards. For the straps, you are working back and forth with either end of the ball of yarn (one for each strap) and it gets to be kind of painful to turn the thing back and forth for knitting and purling, esp. since there are ony 7 stitches. So I pulled out my Winter 2002 copy of Vogue Knitting, which had an article on knitting backwards. Very handy. I wouldn't use it for everything (because I can purl faster than I can do this), but it sure is a nicer way to deal with narrow areas.

Here's a few places you can go to find instructions for this technique. Try here, and here (pictures) and here (mpeg movie) if you don't have the issue of Vogue Knitting.

Julie and I did a little yarn store hopping yesterday: Flying Colors in Clarendon Hills and Have Ewe Any Wool in Elmhurst. Even I am finding it hard to believe, but all I bought were the new Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits, Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Noro Collection and one size 4 Inox circular needle. The Hamilton book is definitely worth taking a look at if you get the chance. The cover sweater is definitely on my "to do" list, assuming I can find the Noro Iro at a reasonable price.

Ambivalence

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Here it is all seamed up. Word to the wise -- don't try to seam St Tropez with itself, it's like trying to pull two pieces of velcro past each other. It looked pretty decent on the hanger, so I was looking forward to trying it on for size.

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I want to stop here and make the comment that I blocked this top to the measurements in the book. If you check out this entry you can see that the top looks a lot more fitted on the model, and the straps look a good deal narrower (they were also blocked to the correct size). As I look back and forth between the pattern and the picture, I'm just not sure that I think the shaping they describe will get you to a fit like the one in the picture.

My version of this tank is definitely much looser and drapier. Given that I think my gauge was pretty close, I was expecting something with a little spiffier fit. Perhaps by leaving out the Brilla I changed the shaping? Maybe I should try blocking it again? Maybe I should look into breast enlargement surgery? I'm definitely not going to entertain ideas of ripping... this stuff is like mohair and doesn't really want to be ripped out.

On the positive side, as long as it's a demi, I can wear a bra underneath it. And the fabric feels fine against my skin. It's definitely light and airy and there's no problem with "breathability". And it is most certainly wearable -- it just wasn't what I was expecting it to be.

I like the texture of the St. Tropez, but I don't think I would recommend this pattern to anyone without some modification. I probably wouldn't do the increases in the pattern (they add an inch to the width) -- I might even consider some gentle shaping at the waist.

So what next? Either the Woodstock lace camisole from this summer's IK or the Karabella Zodiac halter. But before I can get started, a little swatching must ensue.

Zodiac

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Well, I'm giving St. Tropez a little vacation until I can get to a yarn store and see if I can find any embellishments that will make a difference. Something tells me that those bulldog clips Emma mentioned in the comments to my last post won't make the fashion statement I'm looking for, and I've been told that there's no budget for unnecessary surgery.

One thing I can say about not having a project come out exactly the way I would like, it gets me even more motivated to get started on something else that I can try to make perfect.

Now, I've tried to gauge swatch the Karabella Zodiac that I have twice before. Once on the recommended size needles and once on a size higher. Apparently the designer for the halter and I have radically different knitting styles because I had to go up two needle sizes to hit gauge. Once again, I'm back to my faithful AddiTurbos. Here's the results of tonight's efforts:

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I have a feeling this is going to go a little slower than I want it to. For one, while I like the feel of the Zodiac, it's still cotton and it just doesn't move as fast as wool. For another, it likes to twist, so I have to stop all the time and let the yarn relax. And finally, also because it's cotton, I have to pay a little bit more attention to the tensioning to make sure that my stitches don't end up uneven across the fabric, and cabling across 6 stitches with a totally inelastic yarn is not really a lot of fun (even though I think the look will be worth the effort).

Besides those reasons, I'm beginning to get a little cottoned out. Even though it's warm, I am missing the feeling of wool fibers. Charlotte is raising her voice to be heard from my knitting basket and I have some wool for a project for my dad that is crying out to be swatched -- 25 skeins of Schoeller Esslinger Merino Light in Denim from Elann. I know I shouldn't start another project... but merion has a very soothing voice. For me, merino yarns have voices like Barry White.

Fabulous!

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It just doesn't get much more fabulous than this!

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I am very fortunate to be able to trade fibery goodies with Emma. After a long day at work filled with all sorts of operational and financial issues, it just made my day to come home and find this lovely padded envelope sitting on the counter waiting for me. Is there anything better than diving into a bag of fiber?

Not very many, at least for me. And especially not when it's a bag full of Colinette. You should have seen my jaw drop when I ripped open that padded envelope and pulled out this astounding stuff. I kept bringing skeins up to John and telling him how incredible it was. They sat on my desk all evening and I kept reaching over and picking one up and imagining what it could become. Truly wonderful stuff. Emma -- I can't say thank you enough for taking the time to put together something so beautiful and inspiring

Just so you all know... the front skein is Mercury in color #139 (which I think might be blue saturn, but I am not sure). It reminds me of Tai without the wide and narrow parts. The skein on the far left is Tagliatelli, a wool tape, in "Neptune" -- even taken in the sunshine, this picture doesn't do justice to the deep rich turquoise blues and greens of this yarn. Interestingly, my normally non-bright color loving husband took a liking to the Tagliatelli.

The next two skeins are Skye, a 100% aran weight wool. The one on the left is called "velvet olive" the one on the right is "jay". Both are stunning and soft. They would be gorgeous in a felting project. But they might end up in some special winter scarf pattern for yours truly (I'm not sure I could bear to felt them!). And the velvet olive actually received the husband seal of approval. I've been thinking of designing a sweater for him... and this stuff would be perfect and gorgeous. Large gauge, but not too large, and soft enough for him to wear against his skin. I'll be putting my pennies away for that one!

Last, but certainly not least, the three skeins on the right are Giotto in "Jay". The picture doesn't do this spectacular yarn justice. If you haven't seen Giotto, run, don't walk, to your LYS and take a look at it, it's amazing stuff the way it reflects light.

All I can say is: Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!

Thanks, Emma, for all this inspiration. I can't wait to put your next goodie bag together!

Zodiac: 2nd Interval

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I'm finding it a little hard on my hands to knit a lot of this top at once, so I'm going to shoot for doing one cable interval a day. In the mean time, I'm getting back to some wooly adventures.

I've started swatching the Schoeller Esslinger Merino Light and so far I am very pleased. It appears to knit up to 18/24 on US size 8 (bamboo) for me. What I really like is that it creates a thick, soft fabric that will be perfect for the pattern it's going into -- Bonnie Marie Burns of ChicKnits Lo Tech Sweat. It's going to be a Christmas present for my health conscious Dad -- something that he can go out running in in the winter and throw in the washer.

My only beef with this yarn so far is that my first ball is a little barf globby (thanks to Wendy for that useful and descriptive term). Otherwise, so far, so good.

Progress

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Slow but steady wins the race -- hopefully! I got past my third cable iteration and started on the first set of shaping increases with the halter. While I am still not falling desperately in love with the yarn, the more I knit, the more I like the way the top itself is coming out.

I also started something new to fulfill my need for a simple, fun wooly project:

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Here's the bottom of the back of the ChicKnits Lo Tech Sweat done in Schoeller Esslinger Merino Light. (Check here, too, for some of their upcoming yarn offerings). The color is Denim. Merino Light is a 100% merino wool yarn. It's also superwash, which is what I wanted. It's a pretty respectable match for Mission Falls 1824 wool. It knits up big and squishy and soft and definitely makes my hands happier than the Zodiac does.

Last but not least, please feel free to check out my newest site addition -- Links to Yarn Manufacturers and Distributors (you can find a permanent link under my "knitting info" panel in the right hand bar). Of course, it is not all inclusive, but I am going to work towards making it that way. Email me if you find a link that doesn't work, have a company that should be added, or know a link for one of the companies that I couldn't find a link for. It's meant as a personal resource, but I'm happy to share!

Omnivorous Knitting

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My slow work with the halter continues. I thought about getting wild and doing another cable interval yesterday, but then my wrists reminded me why that wouldn't be such a good idea. I'm quite enamoured of this simple cable pattern, however. If you want to take a look at a closeup, click here.

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After the halter, I switched my attention back to Charlotte's Web for the first time in a long time. Probably because I had enough peace and quiet to do the repetitive counting that I need to do to maintain lace patterns. Those of you who are familiar with Charlotte know that the basic pattern is 18 repetitions of the primary lace panel, divided up into 2-repetition stripes, which alternate between a solid color (or as solid as Koigu gets) and alternating stripes of two colors. I'm halfway through the 4th solid color stripe, which means that I am actually starting to come down the home stretch. At this point there are ~220 stitches on my needles. By the time it's done there will be greater than 300 stitches. Fortunately, the lace pattern is fairly easy to memorize, and Koigu is a joy to knit with.

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By around eleven or so, my brain isn't usually functioning well enough to cope with lace patterns so I decided to switch off onto another wooly project, Dad's LoTech Sweat. The perfect knitting to end the day with -- simple but satisfying. I love the way this wool is knitting up. My stitches are even, the fabric is soft and dense, and even the purl side looks great. Just makes me happy, even though it's simple stockinette.

When I was in the lab, I always liked to have several projects moving at once. That way, if I got stalled with one of them, there was always something to do. These three projects work well together, given their yarn and complexity levels.

I took the marquee tags off my works in progress list. Those tags don't seem to be equally compatible with all browsers, plus, I discovered that it was annoying to me to wait to see them come by. Of course, I was surprised to see how big the whole list has gotten.

It's a good thing a lot of the projects I have waiting in the wings are done on size 8 needles... means I have to wait to free up my AddiTurbos, which are fast becoming my only needles. Working with bamboo just seems to slow for me now that I have my Addis.

Ambitious Zodiac

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Yesterday I looked at my top after one cable interval of progress and looked at the calendar and realized that I needed to be a little more ambitious. After all, come September, we can expect the beginning of cooler weather here in Chicago. If I wanted to wear this little top more than once, I needed to work faster.

I talked to my wrists... asked them how they felt about the top. They thought they would look great in it and that they were willing to work a little overtime to get it ready. And this morning, they feel fine, so they lived up to their end of the bargain. There's just a little bit more to go before I Kitchener the top edges together and start on the back. I'm hoping to have it done by the time I go to the Michigan Fiber Festival on Saturday. I know I don't need a sexy halter top to see sheep and fiber, but hey!

Julie and I will be there on Saturday. We're trying to find a good place to meet up and hopefully meet up with other Great Lakes area bloggers. Please leave me a comment or drop me an email if you're going to be there & I'll let you know what we're planning!

Halter Neckline

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Slow night tonight. Not such great day at work and kind of a blue evening. I probably should have picked up my knitting sooner than I did, because it did make me feel better to accomplish something. I knit the 2 remaining inches and then Kitchenered the ends together. Pretty neat. Something else I'll have to put in my knitting play book for the future. I've Kitchenered sock toes, but never worked with it in any other kind of garment. The cotton isn't very forgiving though. I ripped it out a couple of times before I got something that I liked.

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Pretty spiffy! Came out better than I thought it would. The pattern has you slip stitches on all the edges once you get to the neckline and it definitely helps make for a smoother edge.

Off to the blocking board I go!

Zodiac Halter Back

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Thanks to everyone who left nice comments yesterday -- I'm quite excited about the top so far and it's really nice to get so much encouragement. It's exactly what I need to help me get through the back, which doesn't have as much visual or knitting interest as the front. I got about 4-1/2 inches done last night (out of 14 inches total). And really, anyone can knit this little number up fast -- the front only used up about 3-1/2 skeins of the yarn (there's 90 m on each Zodiac skein) for the medium size.

I'm modifying the pattern just a little bit. I'm not the only blogger who has decided to work on this one this summer, Michelle at My Knitting and Great Danes also tackled this project. Based on her reports that the back was a little loose fitting, I decided to extend the ribbing a little bit farther around to give the back a little more elasticity. (There's only 2 knit ribs on either side in the original). I thought about doing it all the way across the back, but couldn't figure out a really good way to make the increases and decreases work out in the subtle way they are when there's a panel of non-ribbing in the back. Hopefully the ribbing will give it enough elasticity to pick up some of the slack in the back.

For anyone who would like to know, the pattern is Karabella KK201 (you can find it if you go to their website, select "patterns", and "Zodiac Solid" -- it's the first pattern). I bought it from the lovely people at School Products. I don't think the yarn or the pattern is listed on their website. You can call them at 1-800-847-4127. They are an extremely friendly bunch and will help you do everything from pick the color yarn to making sure you have enough to complete the pattern. When I bought the yarn, they included the pattern for free.

Oh, and as to trying to mimic the model... I've talked to my chief fashion photographer and he's up to the challenge. He's pretty interested in this top, too!

Zodiac Halter Knitting Finished!

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No pictures until later today -- I literally finished the back and got it to the blocking board right before running off to work today. The back is blocking as I type. It's kind of humid in Chicago right now, so I knew that if I didn't get the blocking started before this evening I probably wouldn't be able to get the garment all seamed up in time for tomorrow and my big trip the the

Michigan Fiber Festival

Should be a pretty awesome trip. I'm driving out with ChicKnits Bonnie Marie and meeting up with Julie so that we can all run amok amidst the incredible fibers and furry creatures. We're hoping to meet up with Lynn and any other bloggers who are going to be there.

If you're going to be there, drop me and email and I'll send you my mobile number so we can all meet up spontaneously at the fair ground.

Shrinking and Thinking

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Well... good news and bad news... the good news is that I got the halter top seamed up and that my husband's first words when he saw the front were "Oh! I like that!".

The bad news? The back is hopelessly too wide. I probably shouldn't have blocked it before seaming it. So now it is back on my blocking board kind of bunched up and wet, and I'm hoping that the ribbing will pull things back in enough to make it better.

Otherwise... it's going to be ribbing all the way across the back and I'm gonna be doing a whole lotta frogging. Bummer.

I think to make myself feel better I am going to swatch my Giotto....yum!

Michigan Fiber Festival

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The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, MI turned out to be a wonderful daytrip. Neat people, neat critters and neat fiber -- what more could a knitty city girl want? Advance apologies to people with dialup connections -- this is a pretty picture heavy post.

Neat People

I'll start with the neat people! One of the best thing about blogging for me has been making a wonderful collection of new online creative friends. While online is great, I think it's even more fun to move online into "real life". Yesterday I got to do just that. Originally, I planned this trip with just my knitbud, Julie. Then, after a little local knit night, I got to meet Bonnie Marie, and she came with us, too! After I posted about our trip, Tonya dropped me an email to say she was going to be there, too. Here we all are not too long after meeting up.

Julie, Me, Bonnie Marie and Tonya
From Left to Right: Julie, Me, Bonnie Marie and Tonya

Later on in the day (just as we were on our way out of the last barn) we all ran into Lynn -- who had spent most of the week at the festival. Lynn had so much happy exuberance that I wished I had been there all week, too.

Julie, Me and Lynn
From Left to Right: Julie, Me and Lynn

There's really nothing like being able to put real faces and voices to the blogs I read. It was wonderful to meet Tonya and Lynn and to get to spend the day with new and old friends.

Neat Critters

But this was a fiber festival, and of course, some beautiful sources of fiber were at the show to be seen and shown off. Angora rabbits, alpacas, llamas and at least zillion different types of sheep, were there to see and enjoy. Here's a little sample of the wonderful creatures we got to see:

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Baby Alpacas
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Adult Male Llama
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A Rainbow of Shetland Sheep
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My favorite picture of the whole show: a lovely ram whose breed I can't remember

Neat Fiber

I wouldn't want anyone to think that I got away from this show without spending my pennies on some fibery goodness. Fortunately for my wallet, I am not a spinner -- there was so much top there in a rainbow of amazing colors. Interestingly, almost all of my purchases were inspired by neat patterns and not just impulse fiber grabbing.

My first stop was Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill of Mt. Horeb, WI. The very nice folks at this booth were lovely to talk to and had a lovely selection of fibers and colors. The thing that initially drew me to their booth was, actually, my husband. John pointed to a sweater hanging up on display and said "I'd wear that". Well, John likes so few sweater patterns, that I had to find out if there was a pattern that I could buy. Sure enough, it was their Lattice and Seed Stitch Pullover Sweater. After looking at that, my eyes travelled over to a lovely lace scarf display. A Week in the Life of a Knitter's Cat has 8 lovely lace scarf patterns. It inspired my first yarn purchase:

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Lace Weight Silk Wool Blend in Dark Violet

The next purchase was from Dzined. The skein below is destined to be socks, as Bonnie Marie assured us that this incredible Wool, Hemp, Mohair blend was wore well and just keeps getting softer wash after wash. Apparently, while the wool will full in the wash, the hemp fibers keep the felting process from happening. Her colorways are all unique and it was almost hard to choose from all the possibilities. (I picked up the Noro at a different booth. It's not terribly special, I've just been looking for a few skeins in this colorway to try out Julie's Felted Bag pattern with).

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The Shelridge Farm booth got my attention because of a Lucy Neatby pattern I've been coveting: Fiesta Feet Socks. A combination of Fair Isle and other kntting techniques that were just impossible for me to pass by yesterday. Not only that, but the owner who was there was lovely and helpful and not at all pushy. I bought some yarn from their flock (they have about 100 sheep) that reminded me of Koigu which will eventually become these lovely socks. They've got some lovely kits and their website is worth checking out.

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By now you are almost thinking that I was relatively well behaved and in control with my yarn purcahses. Really, I would have been had it not been for Tracy Bunkers and her Bonkers yarn. Really. But there was just too much color and texture for me to escape the pull of this particular fibery gravitational sink. I saw this sweater -- just enough texture to make the sweater fun and interesting, but not too much so that it doesn't come together quickly. And that led to this purchase:

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Yum! It's a little hard to see how turquoise this yarn is. This sweater is going to glow when it's all done up. It really needs to get cooler in Chicago soon...

This was a wonderful trip. A great adventure and feast for the eyes. I want to say a great big THANK YOU to my incredible husband (I know a lot of you out there think that you have the worlds greatest guy... but well, I'd put serious odds on my sweetie) -- he did all the driving so that Bonnie Marie and I could knit and he patiently tromped through the barns and helped me take sheep pictures. He's definitely the sort of guy who needs a custom designed sweater soon!

I'm off to work on the back of the Karabella Halter... I ripped the whole thing out and decided to do the back one size smaller (it's just narrower, not shorter) and to do K2 P2 ribbing all the way across. I've finshed decreasing for the waist and now am starting the increases. Wish me luck! If that doesn't snug up the fit, I'm gonna be one unhappy camper.

Zodiac Halter Finsihed

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It's for real this time -- I think I am finished (well, finished except for sewing 3-4 ends). My fashion photographer had to take care of some other business this morning, so the real photo shoot won't happen until later tonight.

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Because of the potential loss of elasticity, I decided to attach the back without blocking. Here's what it looks like:

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I decided to change the back from being P2 K2 ribbing at just the sides to being P2 K2 ribbing all across the back. When I needed to decrease or increase I did it in what would be the purl grooves on the right side of the work. I also shifted down from the medium size (17.5") to the small size (16") for the back in hopes of shoring up some of the extra fabric that I had the first time. It was my hope that the combination of ribbing and a narrower fabric and no blocking would eliminate the looseness I experienced the first time.

Here's a shot of the back the first time so you can see the difference in how they looked (I actually did a little more than twice as much ribbing as called for in the pattern):

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The modeling shots will be up later, but I will say that while I was happier with this than the previous fit, I still don't think it's perfect. However, at this point, I don't think ripping and re-knitting will solve the problem. I will pass on some words of advice to those who haven't started this project yet, but want to -- and don't mind getting a little unsolicited advice.

  1. Shorten the pattern a little bit if you are short-waisted like me. I think part of the reason that it rolls a little in back has to do with the fact that it hits and falls over my hips. The shaping isn't bad, it's probably just not the best for me. Especially when you combine the shaping with the fact that cotton is heavy and inelastic and submits to the force of gravity.
  2. Change the back, even if you're not short-wasted. I'd recommend ribbing all the way across the back, but there are probably other ways to go as well. You can match a smaller back with a larger front because all the backs are knit to the same height, and have the same shaping, it's just the starting width that changes.
  3. If you block, block minimally until after the project is done. Once you wet and stretch that cotton out, it's definitely not going anywhere.
  4. Try it on before you get all your ends woven in and tied down. It's a lot easier to undo/re-do if you need to fuss with it.
  5. Consider starting with K2 P2 ribbing on the right side instead of P2 K2. The effect won't be that different and you'll save yourself some frustration at the end. I found seaming up purl edges to be time consuming and I didn't get as neat a seam as I would have liked because my purl edges are never as neat as I would like them

And what was I knitting on the way to the fiber festival? My Dad's Lo Tech sweat, of course. The fall running season is almost here so I need to get cracking! Here's the back so far. Have I mentioned that I love knitting with this yarn?

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Zodiac Halter Show and Tell

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Well, here's the moment of truth -- the unveiling of the Zodiac Halter Top on my frame. Here are the "serious" shots, meant to show how the fit and finish came out. Please excuse my funky looking skin and hair. It's been a warm day and I've spent most of it scratching my head in front of a computer.

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I think it's pretty clear from the back and the side shot that there is a little rippling action that's not terribly desirable. I'm going to darn all the ends in and dump this baby in the wash to see if I can't get things to tighten up a little bit.

It is comfortable to wear -- nothing feels too exposed and the Zodiac is pretty smooth against the skin.

Of course, this whole photo shoot wouldn't be complete with out a few hair swinging shots, so here you go....Every knitter should have a photographer this great!

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So what's next? I spent some time working on Charlotte tonight -- only two more bands to go! I really should finish Charlotte and Pebbles before starting on anything else. However, I've got these size 8 AddiTurbos free now and a couple of fall sweaters that want to go on them. And that lace scarf from Blackberry Ridge... hmmm...

ChicKnits KIP

Hey everybody! If you're in Chicago and looking for a few knitting buddies head on over to Letizia's Natural Bakery at 2144 W. Division between 7 and 9 pm tonight. Letizia's is a nice place with good muchies and a nice space to hang out in (if it's nice tonight, be sure to check on the back patio).

Hope to see you there!

Happy Anniversary

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Wedding Photo

Five years ago today, at three in the afternoon, I walked down the aisle of St. Camilus Catholic Church to stand at the altar with the wonderful man who was almost my husband. Almost anyone who knew me or knows me was surprised by the fact that I was so emotional that I could hardly speak. Emotional in a good way. I was about to marry the most remarkable person I had ever met.

For anyone who hasn't heard the story, John and I met in the ultimate geek way -- through a long-gone Internet personals site. I was in the last years of my PhD and he was living at home and working as a software engineer to put enough money away to buy a house. I posted a personal, he answered. Less than a week later we met for the first time.

Before I met John, I asked a lot of people "How do you know you've found the right guy?" The answer from most: "You just know." Being a scientist, that answer didn't do much for me. But now I know it's true. By the end of our first meeting I knew I had met someone special. It took only a few more meetings for me to "just know" that John was someone meant to play a special and singular role in my life.

He had all the qualities that I could want: smart, patient, funny, kind, thoughtful. He was the sort of person who could make me think differently about something or see things in a light I had never seen them before. Even more importantly, when I pushed, he pushed back. He gave me the intellectual challenge I needed. To this day I am amazed at the way he can work with people in a way that makes everyone feel like they are winners.

While I see it as a little corny to call him my "soul mate" or to pull words out of Jerry Maguire to say "he completes me", both statements are true. I'm an individual, and I can stand for myself, but John often gives me the love and support to go just one step farther than I thought I could. He suffered with me through my mostly miserable post-doc, encouraged me when I decided to go in for another round of school and get my masters in computer science, and listens patiently when I tell him of my struggles in my current job and company as I learn my new role as a member of my company's management team. He never complains when I buy yarn. No matter how down I get, he can always make me smile. He treats me like an equal partner in all things. For me, it's an incredible thing to be able to think "no matter what happens, we'll be there for each other".

So today I will spend a lot of time remembering back to 5 years ago. I'm going to see myself at that alter, wearing the big white dress standing in front of this fabulous guy who looks so perfect in his tuxedo even in the heat of a Chicago August. If there's one thing in my life that I will never have any regret saying, and would say over again today, it was the two simple words I said five years ago:

"I do"

Charlotte in the Home Stretch

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Thank you so much to everyone who left anniversary wishes. John and I both appreciate them. I'm fortunate to have a great husband and to be part of the wonderful Internet blogging community. I wish I could share these with everyone!

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4 Dozen?!?

My mom and dad actually share our anniversary date with us. They came in from Ann Arbor to celebrate with us and to see the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai that is currently in Chicago. (This is a great show, and I would encourage anyone who has a chance to see it to go!)

Of course, Mom and I took a quick trip out to Knitting Workshop. They were having their end of the season sale and a number of summer yarns were discounted between 50% and 70%. I didn't find much of interest because I am pretty done with cotton and cotton-blend yarns for the year, but I did pick up a few things:

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The Trendsetter Fizz was $3/skein and there were three skeins of the lovely Denim color that will be meeting their destiny as a fall scarf for me to wear with jeans. As to the Rowan Plaid book, all I can say is that there will be some Plaid in my future. KW had a whole treasure trove of it and it feels wonderful. I'm particularly taken by the Lavender Mist, but I think I need to do a littl stash decreasing before I order yarn for another project.

Along those lines, I did bring another project close to a close: Charlotte's Web. Here's a picture of my unblocked accomplishment:

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I am so taken by the colors and how they blend together. Matt of ThreadBear fame helped me pick them out and I am even more convinced of his color genius now that I am mostly finished, than I was when I first got the yarn. I'm particularly amazed how you almost can't tell where I am changing colors -- the way these skeins mixed it almost looks like I had 10 skeins instead of 5.

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4th and 5th colors

Here's what the colors look like on the skein, placed next to where they are in my shawl:

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I only have one last thing to sort out with this shawl -- what color will the crochet edge be? I really don't have enough of either of the last two colors to do the edge and still have a little yarn for the tassles. Here's the options I'm left with:

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Right now I'm leaning toward edging it with the color used for the very first "stripe" -- the green/rust/brown skein on the bottom of the picture above. I think it would be both subtle and tie the whole thing together. But then there is a part of me that says I should be more adventurous and use the bright red/orange/yellow skein (the top one in the picture above) -- that this would bring out the rusty colors in the 5th color and make the edge of the shawl look fiery and vivid. There are three crochet chains... I could do one in each color... so many things to think about!

Opinions and comments are welcome!

Charlotte's Debut

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Last night I finished the last touches on my Charlotte's Web Shawl. Putting all those tassles on took me a lot longer than I thought it would -- and used up a good portion of the yarn I had remaining from the project. I have some leftovers from the first three colors, but none of the last two.

When I first read the instructions I didn't think to hard about blocking this shawl. I figured my Spaceboard would do the job for me. Not quite. Charlotte has a wingspan of 76" and is 38" deep when blocked (or at least she is supposed to -- mine works out to those dimensions, but only if you include the tassles). The Spaceboard is deep enough but definitely not wide enough.

Good thing we have a queen sized bed in our guest room for Charlotte to stretch out on.

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Pinning Charlotte down for blocking felt a lot like mounting a butterfly for a collection. Let me say that it is still remarkable to me what wool will do when exposed to a little strategic watering. When I came downstairs this morning to free Charlotte from her pinning, I half expected her to shrivel up into her pre-stretched state.

Here she is relaxing along my upstairs balcony rail. When I looked at this picture (taken in natural light, no flash) I was surprised at how much the red tones showed up in it.

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And here she is basking in full Chicago morning sun. She's quite a large, dramatic girl, so it was difficult to find places in good light where I could show her off.

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I hope this shot shows off the colorway to a little better advantage. I am so taken by how well all these colors went together. To me, they just seem to flow together. Thanks again to Matt of ThreadBear who spent the time with me to get this "Fall Comes to Northern Michigan" colorway put together.

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Just one last picture before I run off to work... here's an up close look at the lace pattern.

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As my first ever "serious" lace project, Charlotte was a lot of fun. I learned the importance of stitch markers, counting and how to think about the sort of texture that a yarn over creates. Because of all the color in the Koigu, it's also a very forgiving pattern. I made a lot of mistakes that I probably should have corrected, but didn't, early on in the pattern. If you look close you can see them, but most people don't get that close. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try a big lacework pattern for the first time. The basic pattern is easy to memorize, it only takes 5 skeins of Koigu (making it a not-so-unreasonably priced project) and the result is quite spectacular. Even John, who normally doesn't pay too much attention kept coming over to admire Charlotte.

Of course, now that I have finshed a merino wool shawl, the mercury in Chicago is hovering around the 90 degree mark. It'll be a while before Charlotte sees too much action -- but I'll be ready when the cooler weather comes.

Planting a Silk Garden in August

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Yes, I know it is still August, but I like to plant my seeds early when it comes to growing flowers that will become Fall sweaters -- since I think it would be wonderful to have several new sweaters before March, 2004! Lately I've been assessing my stash and I have decided that it is time to get some of my previously planned projects started. It's particularly sad to see 8 skeins of Silk Garden languishing in a closet. And then there's that lonely Chamonix...

This is about 2/3 of the back of the Scoop Neck Cardigan out of Debbie Bliss Noro #1. I'm using Noro Silk Garden that I ordered from Matt and Rob longer ago than I want to admit to. The colorway is #71. This pattern, while mostly simple knitting, does have some details that make it more interesting than other stockinette pullovers I've done:

  • It's knit side to side instead of top to bottom
  • It has a very pretty crochet edging
  • It has simple short row shaping
  • It has buttons

Yes, I know, I've done buttons before. But I have never felt I've done them particularly well. I've decided that it is time to put that demon to rest because I do really love cardigans.

I have a feeling that this sweater is going to knit up very fast.


I want to say "THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!!!!" to everyone who came and left nice comments about Charlotte. Y'all are way too kind and made me feel so good. I haven't had time to get John to take a picture yet, but I will take one. I threw it over a white V-neck T-shirt and black jeans and she did pretty well -- believe it or not, that fringe helps to give her a go out and party sort of hippy-chic feel. I'll try to get an action shot over the weekend.


Just got rid of the tag bars and the flash progress bars... page was just stalling too often. I also noticed something that I consider totally unacceptable -- something was causing a pop-behind to be loaded when my blog came up. I don't think it's my webhost (my service is not free service), and I am suspcious of the Tagboard and pnavy, so they're gone. If you want to say something, leave it in my comments or send me an email -- I try to respond to both!

Silk Garden #71

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I got the back finished on the Silk Garden sweater last night and got started on the right front. This may seem like an amazing feat of speed, but it's not, really. It's pretty easy knitting, it's on "big" needles (US size 8), and I only have 34" bust line and this is a tight fitting sweater. Not to mention that being part of a DINK family, I don't have a lot of the responsibilities that many others have.

But if you want to know something that did change my knitting speed dramatically -- it was learning how to knit Continental without throwing. About a year ago I realized that I was doing a lot more work than I needed to be and learned a better method of tensioning that doesn't involve throwing. After I got comfortable with it I was faster, my tension was more even, and my gauge stayed bang-on. I also became a much tighter knitter.

I am not sure that this would make a difference for everyone, but it made a difference for me. My goal is to get the fronts finished today...

The Silk Garden Grows

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Not the best picture, but it gets the main point across. I completed the two fronts for the sweater and am now onto the sleeves. So far, I've used just under 3 skeins of Silk Garden (the sweater is supposed to take 4), so everything is working out the way it is supposed to.

One of the things that makes this sweater special is that it is finished with a pretty crocheted edging. At the rate I am going, I though it would be wise to see if I had the right crochet hook. The pattern calls for a 1.5 mm hook (I have no idea how this is going to work with worsted weight SG, but Debbie Bliss hasn't steered me wrong so far.). This is a very small hook. So small that I couldn't find one at any of the LYS that I would usually run to for a quick purchase. But I'd been looking for an excuse to go back to Mosaic Yarn Studio. Not only did they have the crochet hook, but they also had the AddiTurbo circular that I needed for another project. So off I went. Determined only to get my "justafiable" knitting supplies... and maybe, just maybe, a copy of the new knitters if I liked a few of the designs up close as much as I did over the net.

Of course, with that kind of set up, you know I didn't behave myself.

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I wasn't so bad. In addition to the hook, needle and the magazine (which yes, I do like very much), I also picked up Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch and 3 skeins of Silk Garden in colorway 87. I haven't had time to thoroughly digest The Purl Stitch, but the thing that struck me most about it is that there are some good template patterns in it to go along with some excellent technique visuals.

The Silk Garden...I'm just addicted to the stuff. For me, it's like heroin. There's something about the silk-based yarns that just sucks me in. I couldn't see making a sweater out of that rainbow colorway, but I thought it would be perfect for that scarf I've seen everyone making. I should've added it to my order with Rob and Matt (it would have been cheaper) but a girl has to support a good LYS. At least that was my justification this time...

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