November 2003 Archives

Back from the North

No pictures today... we got back into Chicago around midnight last night. Trust me, tomorrow I will make up for that in spades. Hold on to your bandwidth!

Thank you to everyone who sent their sympathy or wished me a safe trip. Even though the weekend started with a funeral, it did turn out to be a really nice weekend. While I wish that more of my family could be collected together without such an unhappy event, it was really nice to see all my cousins and their children and my aunts and uncles on my Dad's side. I don't see my cousins very much any more, but I used to see them a lot during the summers when I was growing up.

When I was still living with my parents, the whole big connected family thing seemed so effortless. We got in a car several times during the summer and at holidays and drove to Ludington to see everyone. Now I am old enough to appreciate that it wasn't effortless. Mom and dad had to put a lot of effort into packing us up, making the drive, finding a place to stay and making the rounds once they were up there. Fourth of July never meant a calm weekend around the house taking care of something that they needed to do. It was a time to go and make sure that the family ties stayed strong.

And all their efforts paid off for me this weekend. It's so strange to see people that you haven't seen in 4 or 5 years and feel like you never stopped seeing them on a regular basis. Strange and wonderful. Made me realize that it's time for me to start putting some effort into maintaining the bond. We're all spread out now. My cousin Julie is still in Ludington teaching, but her younger brother, who is my age, now has a hunting lodge in Manitoba! Some of my younger cousins are in southern Michigan. My brother is in Houston. I have my work cut out for me.

On the knitting side... I wore my Eros scarf on Friday to the funeral and luncheon. I had one lady come up to admire it. She was wearing an intarsia sweater, so I just explained to her how the scarf was made. She smiled at me. Sometimes you just know when you meet another knitter. My felted daypack also got a few nice comments. And the wife of the cousin in Manitoba said she was trying to learn how to knit -- but that it was hard for her to learn from a book. Apparently they get to Chicago every now and again for hunting conventions, so I am hoping that next time I will get to teach her some basics.

After the funeral I wandered around Ludington a bit with my mom (took in a yarn shop and a handmade goods store...these were the first stops on my over the top consumerism trip this weekend) before we headed back to Ann Arbor. Lots of good things found their way into my car, there too. I got a few small things finished, but suffice it to say I need to stop shopping and start knitting.

Good Monday to you!

Somebody Stop Me

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Pack your bags my friends, we're going on a little crafty excursion. This keyboard biologist was on the loose in Michigan doing her best to support the economy. If all those consumer confidence indices don't rise you can't blame me!

Before we left Ludington Mom and I had to check out a few places. Our first stop was Maude's -- all sorts of crafts and jewelry. Some mundane (i.e. eyelash yarn scarves), some more dramatic. One impressive element of this store is that the things inside were reasonably priced. Not cheap, but affordable enough so that you didn't feel bad taking a few things home. This is what hopped into my bag...

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Seriously Neat Poly Clay Buttons

Polyclay is an amazing thing, and these buttons just made me happy. I almost feel like I need to design a sweater for the leaf and flower buttons on the right side of the photo. I liked them so much I got the matching barette. I haven't decided whether the soap will be used or just be used to keep my stash smelling nice. Right now it's adding it's peaceful lavendar aroma to my knitting room.

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Sometimes a Girl Needs a Little Novelty Yarn

The next stop was Nautical Yarns. The store had a much better yarn selection than I would have guessed for Ludington. I got drawn in by the novelty yarns at the front of the store... more railroad variations. Will I ever learn? Probably not. The yarn on the left is Lana Grossa Viale Print, colorway 302. The yarn on the right is SRK Collection Persia. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is a railroad yarn edged with co-ordinating wool threads. Both yarns are destined for fun scarves. The gadget in the middle is an I-cord maker that looks capable of working with big yarn. Booga Bag here I come!

On Friday night we drove back to Ann Arbor. I finished this off Saturday morning before Mom and I hit the road for southeastern Michigan fiber adventures.

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Seaside Angel

Here's my skinny Angel scarf. I just let the stockinette roll and the ends ruffle. Simple and pretty and soft. I'll post the "pattern" in the gallery if anyone is interested in it.

Just so you know, there are way too many crafty stores in the Ann Arbor metro area. Our first stop for the morning was Flying Sheep.

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Goodies from Flying Sheep

I just went in for Opal sock yarn... really! But then that Trendsetter Voila Print jumped into my hand... and it needed a friend, so the Matchmaker came along. The top left Opal is from the Southwestern collection, the top right Opal is Brasil. I also finally found my size 13 Addi Turbo... so that I could do a little more weekend knitting. Only I would by a $14 needle to knit up a $11 skein of yarn...

And, of course, no trip to Ann Arbor would be complete without a trip to Knit A Round. I really can't say enough good things about this store, or how much fun I have every time I go there.

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What I Found at Knit A Round

First off, if you haven't touched Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, what are you waiting for?!? This stuff is incredible. It's soft and the mohair makes the colors so rich and sumptuous. They only had 3 colors left when I got there... lupine and pheasant are the two I picked. The lupine is definitely for me. This stuff was so awesome that my mother decided to get a skein too to try out a lace scarf.

The Plymouth Fusion and the pattern you see in the middle are a testimony to the value of shop models. That sweater was hanging in the window. I decided that I just had to have a gossamer striped mohair bullseye to wear this winter. The Fusion stripes like Noro. So here I am, all ready to start my first real mohair adventure. The only real question is whether or not I will be able to be careful enough to avoid errors so I don't have to do a lot of ripping.

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New Hobby? What New Hobby

After that, we set off for Plymouth. The Lost Arts Stitchery is worth the trip for anyone making dolls or interested in tatting. Mom found the pattern off which my Chrismas doll will be based. I've been thinking about tatted edges for a while and the owner of this store had some beautiful examples of her work that just sucked me in and encouraged me to take the plunge into needle tatting. I haven't opened the kit yet, but I'm looking forward to trying it out.

We hit a third yarn store, also in Plymouth, whose name, unfortunately, escapes me. It was quite large and had lots of good yarn. I picked up a couple of patterns there, but my credit card arm had already had a pretty major work out, so I didn't let myself look at too much yarn.

Armed with my big fat Addi Turbos, I spent that evening and the following morning working on my Crystal Palace Splash scarf. The colorway I used is called "Tide Pool" -- 7189. This is a complete no brainer scarf and the result is totally fab. Cast on 12, garter stitch until the end. I'll let other people lead the anti-novelty yarn revolution -- I'm having too much fun with it to let anyone else's feelings keep me from enjoying it.

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Splashing in my TidePool

I managed to stay out of trouble on Sunday. Mom and I put together a little emergency knitting repair kit so she would be able to keep going on her scarf. We topped off my Ann Arbor trip with a visit to Zingerman's Deli. This is one of those Ann Arbor landmarks that shouldn't be missed. Of special note is their Chocolate Cherry bread. Almost better than brownies. If you're ever in Ann Arbor, this is the one local place that lives up to the incredible hype it gets. It's almost more dangerous than a good yarn store.

Holographic Sweater, Exit Front Left

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I've decided that I can't start any more sweater projects until I get Mom's sweater done. So, with that in mind, here's my current progress -- adding the button band to the front left of the sweater.

This button band is actually quite clever, now that I've done it. Most button bands don't have any structure, but this one is very solid. First you pick up stitches on the wrong side of the fabric at the base of the band. Then you knit a few rows in stockinette in a needle smaller than the regular project needle. You get something that looks like this from the back:

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The Dark Side of the Holographic Sweater

Then you work a Japanese Three Needle Bind Off to bring the flaps together and bind off the edge all together. Click the link above to take a look at how I did it. It didn't seem like a very common technique, so I thought I would take a few pictures in case anyone else wanted to see how it was done. (Hi Mary! I hope this helps make it clear) When you're done with the bind off, this is what you see get:

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Puffed Fair Isle

And here's what the whole sweater panel looks like:

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One Piece Closer to Victory

The whole effect with the button band is one I am going to tuck away for future reference. I love encountering clever new things, and after my Fair Isle frustration, this made everything better.

Barbara Ann asked about my I-cord maker. I spent a little time with this new toy tonight -- the "Wonder Knitter" which makes the I-cords. It's made by Clover and has a product number 3101. It is easy to use and it comes with two heads -- one which lets you do 3 stitch I-cord and one which lets you do 6-stitch I-cord. It works fine with the worsted weight wool that I tried. Just so everyone knows, this is not a "turn the crank get a cord" kind of thing, There is some loop hooking that you have to do. Overall it does seem faster than knitting I-cord, but it's not instantaneous. It also produces a nice, even cord, which I don't always do when I knit.

Meg asked if I would put links to locations for my favorite Michigan stores in my side bar. You can find them under the Chicago links along with a nice reference page I found with addresses for a lot of Michigan fiber sources.

I put the Skinny Angel Scarf and pattern in my Gallery, you can find it here. It's *very* easy and not a bad option if you have a small amount of a nice yarn.

Not Croc'd Socks

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It's a slow knitting week for me. I forgot to show my Croc sock completion from the weekend, so here it is now.

Apparently Croc'ing is very stitch number dependent. Around the toe and heel the yarn Croc'd, everywhere else, nada. At least the second sock is turning out the same way. Some recent posts on the OpalChatters list suggest that where you start in the ball has something to do with Croc'ing or not Croc'ing. I tend to believe it has more to do with gauge and number of stitches around. Could be both. Which end of the skein you start from is also believed to have an effect. Some knitters get a Croc'd sock and an un-Croc'd sock from the same skein.

I just wish they'd Croc'd because they would have been more interesting to knit. But once they're both knit up, I'll enjoy them either way. And I've got more Opal to play with. Should my next socks be Brasil? Or Southwest? Or that fabulous Bearfoot? Hmm...

I got two lovely books in the mail today: The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and Viking Patterns for Knitting, both from KnitPicks, both on sale. I'm looking forward to actually reading the Lavold book since there is so much interesting information in it.

My first copy of Interweave Knits showed up in the mail today, too. I'm intrigued by the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Eastern European Footlets and the article on making gloves. Unusually enough for me, I do not like the Cable-Chic sweater in Silk Garden at all (I'm a Silk Garden junkie) -- I think it would look terrible except on the skinniest of people and at least in the pictures, that colorway is not very attractive. But that's just my opinion. Certainly I would have left out this sweater in preference to Annie Modesitt's lovely Morris Fern cardigan. It's not something I could wear colorwise but I still think it's gorgeous and wearable.

Happy Hallowe'en

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Okay. I know I'm a little off on this one. But I wanted to introduce another one of Mom's dolls last week and that didn't really work out very well. And this special doll is very appropriate to Hallowe'en. So stick your hand into the last of that candy that you didn't hand out and meet Bea Witched.

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Bea Witched

Mom writes:

It's a little late for Halloween, but let me introduce you to Bea Witched. She's an adaptation of Julie McCollough's "Pumpkin Head". In Julie's rendition, Pumpkin Head literally has a pumpkin head. With the nose you see on the doll. Because it was October when I started her, I early-on decided she needed to be my little witch. She also told me that she was not just any ordinary witch, but a fashion follower and so her wings (bet you didn't know witches had wings - much more practical than a broom) and dress were made from one-of-kind fabric. The wings are orange cotton covered with embossed black net and her dress was made from ribbons of material sewn together and then cut out as one piece. Do you like her fancy boots? On the other hand, she couldn't have too fancy a coiff or she wouldn't look like a witch. Her hair is actually ravelings from a strange piece of cloth that someone brought to club meeting. Despite the bats in her hair and pet spider on her wrist, she's really quite lovable.

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Bea Witched Up Close and Personal

Even if you don't make cloth dolls, Julie McCollough's Magic Threads site is worth a look for her creative shapes and characters.

Mom has asked me if I know of any blog rings that contain fabric dolls or if I know of any bloggers who are making fabric dolls and blogging about it. If you know of either (or any other really good doll resources), please leave me a message in my comments or send me an email.

Croc Socks Almost Rock

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Just a Little Croc'ing

Cue up "Crocodile Rock". Friday night saw the completion of my Crocs. Here they are in their finished glory. They're fraternal, but its not something you notice too much given the randomness of the pattern.

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Reptile Feet

The only place these socks Croc'd in was the inch or so after the heel gusset. I suspect if I'd done the socks a little wider or a little narrower I'd have seen Croc'ing all the way. I cast on 64 stitches and got about 8 stitches/inch and was using US 1s.

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Croc'd A Little

Here's a close up of the area that Croc'd. I thought about trying some more of this yarn, but there's a lot of sock yarn out there and life's too short to knit too many pairs of socks that don't leave me excited. I've got enough left for a child-sized pair of socks so maybe someday I'll go back and try again.

On Saturday I got together with Julie. I got to see her new Lily bag up close. Both the one on her website and another that will be revealed later. It's a lovely pattern.

I did a lot of swatching while we were together. The results will be revealed as the week progresses, but since the Crocs were finished, the first thing I tried out was the Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn I bought last weekend. Here's a better shot of the skein. The colorway is "Pheasant".

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Mountain Colors Bearfoot Pheasant

My folks have the occasional pheasant wandering through their backyard. This yarn is a little darker than in the picture, and very evocative of the bird and its colors. Bearfoot is a superwash wool, mohair, nylong blend and is just about the softest sock yarn that has ever run through my fingers. These socks are for the dear friend who taught me how to knit. She's a pediatrician and a dancer and a researcher and a knitter (amongst other things) and spends a lot of time on her feet. I figured soft warm socks would work out as a nice birthday gift. Of course, she won't get them until Christmas... but she understands that it's hard to put deadlines on knitting projects.

While I was sitting their swatching and watching Julie work on her second Lily, I started to think about a felted design that I've had floating around in my brain and on paper for a while. Initially I'd wanted to do it for Knitty, but then I decided that I'd have more fun doing the project and documenting it on my blog. I had the yarn skeined up. I had my pattern mostly written out and I'd figured out how I was going to deal with a few design elements.

Why haven't I knitted it then? Not sure. Lately I don't feel like I can be monogamous with any one project. There's so much that I want to do and try that it's distracting me from accomplishing much. That's an ongoing theme in my life: an embarrassment of riches that leads to an inability to progress. Just ask my PhD advisor...

So when I got home from being inspired by Julie, I wandered into my stash room. Of course, all my unfinished projects had something to say... Mom's sweater looked at me forlornly, Dad's Lo Tech begged for some acknowledgement, the little cabled sock that I started for John reminded me that it's only cold for a little while, and half a dozen skeins that haven't even been cast on reminded me how neglected they were feeling. And then there were these two skeins:

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Charcoal and Grey Beginnings

These two skeins represented my own creativity and somehow, at that moment, it seemed pretty terrible that I was shoving my own ideas aside for other peoples. Why was I afraid of bringing my idea into being?

I don't have an answer for that question, but combined with watching Julie's Lily, it got me motivated. This week I am going to work on my own design. Here's the start of the project I'm calling "Chicago":

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Invisible Cast On

I know.. not much to see yet. This is just the invisible cast on for the bottom. More and better to come.

The Foundations of Chicago

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The Base of Chicago

Every project has to start somewhere. This one starts with a rectangular base knit in garter stitch. In retrospect, it was probably a poor choice to use the charcoal colored Cascade 220 to do my demo project in, but I wanted this bag to have a wintery stylish quality, so the black/grey combo seemed like a good call.

The ugly turquoise colored strip is scrap yarn used for an invisible cast on (in case you care, it's Cascade 220 Quattro in a color that felts up like old carpet padding and is incredibly unattractive... all it seems to be good for is scrap yarn). I prefer this cast on to picking up stitches at the edge because I think it results in smoother bag edge, at least in my hands. In case

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Invisible Cast On In Action

Here's the bottom right before picking up the stitches in the invisible cast on. That ridge of black stitches is what I am going to pick up -- with the non-working needle. Like so:

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Picking Up Stitches in the ICO

After you pick up the stitches, you remove the waste yarn. You can do it by a reverse Kitchener process or you can just snip the waste yarn. I have a serious fear of scissors near my projects for anything but snipping yarn tails, so I always opt for the manual approach of unthreading the last row of the invisible cast on.

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All Picked Up

Once the waste yarn is removed, all you have to do is knit across that row of picked up stitches on the non-working needle. Et Voila! It's time for circular knitting to commence. And this is where the fun begins. This bag is going to be all about the shaping. It worked in the minature test bag I tried... so this double sized bigger bag will be the acid test.

Miscalculation

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A Little Back Shaping

Before I started what I'm posting here, I did a miniature 1/2 size version of this bag to see if the shaping would work the way I wanted it to. It did. I was happy. It took a little less than 1/2 skein of the main color. So I thought "cool! only one skein of each color". Word to the wise... doubling the width and height of a project does more than double the yarn required (area) for the project. I know this should have been obvious to me (Julie will be laughing now for reasons too detailed to explain here). Now it should be clear why I am a biologist and not a mathematician...

Anyway. The picture above is the the shaping on the long edge of the bag. The white lines were added by me to make the shaping clearer. This is about 2/3 of the way up. Try to imagine hemi-circular.

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Side Shaping

There's also shaping to the sides, but it's more gradual than the shaping on the front and back.

And that's as far as I got before that lovely charcoal colored yarn ran out. So now I've got to track down another skein of Cascade 220 in 4002. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the ThreadBears have a skein of the stuff stashed away.

Good thing I have some other things to keep myself busy with while I wait.

Mo-cha Latte BullsEye

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What I am about to talk about today is a perfect example of why it is important to have store model sweaters. If this sweater had not been hanging in the window of Knit A Round, I probably never would have noticed it. Or I would have said "neat" and moved on.

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Right on Target

It wasn't really the striping that got me (I love Noro, but a girl can only have so many striped sweaters) -- it was the big circle in the middle and the airy gossamer quality the yarn had. How perfect, I thought, for a sweater to wear over a turtleneck. This is when I realized why people like mohair.

Up to this point in my knitting career, I have avoided mohair like the plague. It seemed pretty obvious to me that any ripping adventures would be met with frustration and that it wasn't stuff I could wear against my skin unless I wanted to take up itching as professional sport. But this sweater is all stockinette and it was meant to be worn over something. It seemed like the right time to try something new.

Reynolds Fusion comes in a number of colors. For once I acted like a real midwesterner contemplating a long winter and picked something subdued -- browns and greys with blue undertones. I figured it was bold enough to have a bulls eye on my chest, I could probably keep the color more simple. Fusion is 64% mohair, 27% acrylic and 9% wool. There's a dark center cord with a lot of fuzzy mohair blossoming out of it. Almost like eyelash but somewhat more diffuse.

In spite of there being 136 yards in 50 grams, the stuff knits up on US #10 (6 mm) needles. So it knits up fast.

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The Back of the Mo-cha Latte BullsEye

I started the sweater late Saturday afternoon and finished the back on Sunday morning. It took a skein and a half. Yes, it's all sockinette and there's no shaping except at the shoulders. But it knits up so fast, and I had so much fun watching the stripes that I never really got bored. I just love the chocolately brown stripes... I can almost smell the coffee.

Here's a close-up of the back that shows off the texture a bit better:

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Up Close and Personal with Fusion

Soft and fuzzy and light as a cloud. And the mohair hasn't given me one iota of grief so far. Probably the only drawback is that I have picked yet another pattern where one of the pieces is worked with two balls at once -- and I am going to have to pick up a bunch of stitches. Otherwise, its perfect to work on while I am waiting for my Cascade 220 from ThreadBear -- they had a skein of the color I needed in the dye lot I needed. How could a girl get more lucky than that? A big thanks to Rob for helping me get my project back on track! I have access to a lot of local yarn stores, but I don't know a single one that I can get personal service from at 11 at night.

Mo-cha Latte Front Begins

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Bulls Eye Shaping

Not so much knitting tonight because a good friend from Denmark arrived today and I spent the evening talking to him. But I did make some progress. I'm really fascinated by shaping right now. Mostly because of the felting thing. Bags lend themselves to all sorts of novel shapes. The idea of knitting a circlular piece intrigues me.

In this sweater, you leave a space for the circle and then pick up stitches and knit inward. What you see here is the shaping for the base of the circle. Each side is knit from a different skein of yarn. I made no attempt to match the colors. I like the contrasts as well as the blending.

This is knitting very fast. I can definitely see the front of this sweater getting finished over the weekend. I just love things that come together quickly!

Almost On Target

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Hole in One

Here's the front of the Mo-cha Latte BullsEye before I picked up the stitches to create the circular area.

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Almost On Target

I'm ambivalent about this project at the moment. I love the look of the bullseye part (I think the striping came out well), but the addition of the circular center is causing more distortion than I would like -- the front grew length-wise and width-wise by about an inch. And, probably not surprisingly, the BullsEye area pooches out a little bit. And, finally, the edge of the BullsEye looks a little "dirty" because of only one row of stitches in the charcoal color where I picked up the stitches.

I need to think a little bit before I go on. I'm going to try pulling in the BullsEye seam on the back of this panel and see if that pulls the shape together a little better. If that doesn't work, I am going to have to decide whether to frog or just to block the other pieces into a compatible shape. Fortunately, there's enough give in this fabric that the blocking option isn't necessarily a bad one. And his sweater is already a little on the large size for me (38" at the bust line), so a little extra roominess probably won't hurt the look.

I'd love to hear any other opinions or suggestions!

Pheasant Feet and Patridge Eyes

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Nifty Stripes

I was a little bit project promiscuous over the weekend. I flitted from the sweater, to a scarf, to these socks, thought about a headband for my husband, browsed some of my knitting books, and then came back to the sweater. When I needed some thinking time for the sweater, the sock popped back in my hand.

Normally I wouldn't bother putting up pictures of the front and back of a sock, but I thought the way these were striping was pretty neat. I was expecting some pooling from this yarn, but I didn't expect the lovely stripes that gently spiraled down the sock. Anyone else have this experience with the Mountain Colors Bearfoot? I'm knitting about 7.5 stitches/inch and have 64 sitches around.

Because I was doing the same 'ol same 'ol with the body of the sock, I wanted to try something new with the heel flap: the eye of partridge stitch. I found help with this online at Mare's site. I did the second variation exactly as Mare described with the two knit stitches at the end. The resulting fabric can be seen in the left-hand picture. Nifty, eh? I think it's a little more showy looking than the standard stitch.

The someday owner of these socks will be in Chicago this weekend, so now I have a little more motivation to get finished. I'd at least like to get one sock done so I can be sure my measurements are good.

I think I've decided to rip on the BullsEye. I like the suggestion of repeating it on smaller needles. I think that will probably do the trick. Not looking forward to ripping out that mohair. I wish now I'd put in a lifeline at the base, just in case. Ah well. I can still do it after the fact -- it'll just take me a little longer.

Textured Scarf

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It's a little embarrassing how long ago I started this scarf. It's from the Vogue Knitting On The Go Scarves Book.

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The Model

I bought the book when I was out on one of my first knitting store trips with Julie. And, of course, I decided that I needed to do something out of it. I didn't want anything difficult, but I was curious about fuzzy chenille yarns and ribbon yarns. So this project seemed ideal.

But I couldn't find the yarns in the store I was at, so I bought some Anny Blatt ribbon and chenille instead. In black, which I thought would be sophisticated.(You can see it here) And no matter what I did, I couldn't get gauge. This was pretty frustrating for me. I had just gotten back into actively knitting again, and a simple garter stitch scarf refused to behave. Not only that, but if you're going to substitute yarns, subsituting Berroco for Anny Blatt, from a cost perspective, is not a very smart one.

It took me awhile, doing gauge swatch after gauge swatch and ripping and tearing, to decide that this was not to be.

And then I ran into the Berroco stuff in another yarn store. And, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to try again.

This time, things worked out more or less in my favor gauge-wise (and I relaxed a little and decide that row gauge was pretty much irrelevant for a scarf). But I started the scarf on long straight needles and I decided that garter stitch was boring. And I decided I didn't much like knitting with Chinchilla. And then it got warm. Who needs a fuzzy scarf in May? So it stalled in my basket until I got to doing some cleaning.

And then I decided that I needed another fuzzy scarf. So I put the project on circs, ignored the Chinchilla (it feels nice knit up, it just has an abrasive cord in the middle) and moved this projet from stalled to mostly finished. Along the way I realized something though...

This pattern is 9 repeats of 20 rows Chinchilla, 22 rows Glace plus another Chinchilla panel. Other people who hated knitting in ends probably would have realized without too much extra thought that 19 alternating panels meant 38 ends to weave in. I actually got 75% of the way through before this thought passed through my brain.

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Whole Lotta Finishing

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. And Ugh again!

I like the scarf, I like the weight of the fabric (it's on the heavier side), but I don't like the looks of those ends. And then there's the fringe...

Hopefully I can get all those ends tucked in before Claudia's Silly Furry Scarf Season ends! After all, I've got to get moving with a certain Bucket Hat, and a couple of sweaters....

P.S. Chicago Knitters: don't forget -- the ChicKnits KIP is Thursday, November 20th at Letizia's Natural Bakery on Division!

So Much Fiber...

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Not much knitting related to talk about today... yesterday was all about work and about all I got time to do was sew in a few ends on the textured scarf before John came home and we headed out for our date and a little victory celebration for both of us (we both had good work days).

But I did get some goodies in the mail yesterday from ThreadBear Fiber Arts that I just have to share:

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The Haul

Two copies of the new Lavold book (one for Emma!), the new Lucy Neatby sock book (which I haven't dug into exhaustively but which looks to be jam-packed full of helpful and interesting sock making tips and creative ideas), two skeins of Classic Elite Ibis in two colorways, a sagey green and a nice burgundy, destined for scarfhood. This stuff is just incredibley soft and inviting and there's a pattern for a simple scarf on the ball band. A skein of fun orange Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille for the flowery washcloth in the last Interweave Knits. A skein of Moutain Colors Bearfoot in Midnight Sapphire (which has the husband seal of approval for being dark and manly, but fits my criteria of being lovely and interesting to knit). And last, but certainly not least, some more Lorna's Laces Angel -- this time in the Aslan color way.

Because I am in love with this beautiful subtle colorway (which is also destined to be a special gift for a special person), here's a closeup:

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Aslan Angel

This will also become a scarf, in K2 P2 rib (I think). Angel is a wonderful thing to wrap around your neck. It's so luxurious, it just makes you feel good all day. In case you are interested in this wonderful yarn, it does have to be special ordered, but the ThreadBears have very good pricing ($3 less/skein than I paid locally).

Lately I've been all over the place with my yarn buying. I've also had a hard time settling down on one project and getting it accomplished. I think this is because I have too many things to choose from. This always happens to me when I have too many projects at work, often I don't get much done on any of them until I hunker down and get few of them completely taken care of.

So, at the risk of damaging the worldwide yarn economy, I am joining in on this:

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Not sure how long I'll be able to do this, but I am shooting for no new yarn for me until after my birthday (February 5, 2004) -- or until I complete the projects in my sidebar, whichever comes first. This diet will not include books or tools or things like buttons. And it will not preclude trading -- since this is just substitution, not addition.

Don't forget -- the ChicKnits KIP is tonight! If you're in Chicago or the surroundings, check in with us at Letizia's, we love to meet new folks!

Ibis

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Classic Elite Ibis Up Close

After a somewhat impersonal introduction yesterday, here's a close up of the Classic Elite Ibis. Ibis is 100% nylon and 100% soft to the touch. There's a fine cord carrying the soft, feather like eyelashes and a slightly thicker cord with varying colors that is carried along and gives it some extra added shine. Ibis is the sort of thing you don't mind holding against your skin and even in the skein it begs to be stroked.

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Ibis on the Needles

This is what it looks like knit up (using the scarf pattern that comes on the back of the ball band). Its a swatch, and also the start of a scarf for my mother-in-law. She saw my Splash scarf and seemed to like it, but I don't really want to knit again with the Splash. Rob assured me that the Ibis was nicer to knit with than the Splash, and I'm not disappointed with his judgement. It's a little slippery, but otherwise quite pleasant to work with. If you want to see all the colors of Ibis, check here. It's a ways down on the page and the colors are quite true to what I have on my desk. If you "need" some, those ThreadBears can help you out!

I had a fun evening knitting with the other Chics at the KIP tonight. I think my favorite part of these get togethers is the show and tell. I got to see Bonne Marie's new cardie up close and personal and got a demonstration of a tubular cast on. Everyone had a neat project to work on. We had so much fun that we decided that the next meeting would be in two weeks. Mark your calendars now for December 4th!

Friends and Socks

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One Bearfoot Pheasant Sock

It was a lovely weekend for me. Weather wasn't so lovely (lots and lots of rain) but at least it was warm. The best part of the weekend was Saturday. The friend who taught me how to knit was in town. This year, for her birthday, I decided to put my knitting skills in gear and knit her a pair of socks. They weren't completed for her visit, but I did get to make sure that the first one was shaped correctly. She seemed pretty excited about having her first pair of handknit socks, so, of course, I got psyched to at least finish the first one.I completed the sock late Saturday night and cast the next one on this morning. I'm betting that her October birthday present will make it to her by Christmas. Much better than my usual record.

What was really fun was letting her do a little stash diving in my stash. Judy, mistress of the worlds most complicated Fair Isle and Intarsia sweaters had never knit herself a simple scarf! So I loaned her a pair of my straight needles and gave her some Kitty railroad yarn in jewel blues, greens and pinks. It was fun to share something with the person who got me into the whole knitting experience. Casting on a second time, dealing with dropped stitches, she knows these things are part of knitting. It's a lot of fun to knit with someone who's not afraid of mistakes. And by the time she gets back to Cincinnati I'm betting she's going to have a brand new very pretty scarf.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty smitten with the Bearfoot. It's a little more expensive than your average sock yarn, but it's a soft and wonderful yarn. If you know someone special who needs a pair of socks, this is the stuff to do them in.

I was busy with a few other things this weekend, and made a firm resolution to get back to Mom's sweater. Amazing how an impending visit can get me inspired about a project.

Fringe Elements

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All Fringed Up and Ready to Go

Can you even believe it? Not only did I weave in all those ends but I even fringed it. I know, I know, it's just a scarf, but It makes me happy to be finshed with it and this is my project log, so you get a picture.

This scarf is a combination of Berroco Chinchilla Colors in color 5866 and Berroco Glace Colors in color 2866, both in the same variagated colorway, which now appears to be discontinued in both yarn lines Kind of a shame, because it's a good combination. I love jewel tones, especially magenta and purple and blue, so this colorway was kind of a no-brainer for me. This colorway was bright and happy without being too out there.

Now that it's finished, I have to say that I like this scarf. The combination of Chinchilla and Glace gives it a nice weightiness -- this scarf stays where you put it. I think I'll be able to wear it with a coat or just to dress up my standard winter black turtleneck wardrobe

While I was knitting it, I pretty much decided that these aren't my favorite yarns to knit with. The Chinchilla is soft when it's in the skein and in fabric form, but the transitional form running through your fingers feels a little harsh because the cord on which the chenille is bound is somewhat rough and scratchy. The Glace is really easy to puncture and split with a needle tip, even though it is a relatively thick ribbon. Thus, the knitting is slower than you expect it to be for what is otherwise a very simple garter stitch scarf.

I won't be knitting another one anytime soon, but it's hard not to reccommend it if you enjoy texture and you like soft and shiny, and a scarf that goes beyond all those really ugly Gap-style ratty looking garter stitch scarves in really ugly Baskin Robbins/ 70's vinyl chair colors that seem to be all the rage right now(my apologies if you like those... I've seen about million of them here in Chicago and they are getting a little old to my eyes). You could do this pattern in almost any chenille/ribbon combination at almost any gauge and get a nice result. If you made the panels a little wider, you'd have a fun and funky stole.

And I couldn't have finished this project at a more perfect time. The temperature dropped from about 60 degrees to about 20 degrees overnight and we even got snow today! How better to welcome in the cold than with a fun new winter wardrobe addition?

I updated my Stash Trading Blog over the weekend. Check it out as there are some good scarfy yarns looking for good new homes!

Revisiting Chicago

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It might not have looked like much, but one of the things I was happiest to see in my last package from ThreadBear was a skein of Cascade 220 that matched the nice charcoal color I had started my Chicago bag in. You might recall that I grossly underestimated my yarn requirements because I forgot some rules of basic geometry. I should have been paying better attention when the teacher told me I might need this stuff someday.

Like all felted stuff, it doesn't look like too much yet. But now I've completed the entire bag part and the shaping is a little clearer. For those of you who aren't familiar which Chicago or Chicagoans, we like to orient ourselves with landmarks. We drive towards the Lake, we live near Wrigley Field, or in my case, not too far from the United Center. So I'm taking you on a little trip around my bag from a Chicago perspective. Fasten your seatbelt... sometimes I drive a little fast.

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Chicago from the Lake

Here's the front of the bag. There's a lot of beautiful things on the Chicago lake shore -- many, such as Buckingham Fountain, were meant to be viewed from Lake Michigan. Believe it or not, some of the city planners of long ago believed that Lake Michigan would be one of the major access points for the city. So this is the view of the bag from the Lake side. It will be clearer when felted, but the front and back of the back are roughly hemicircular (or as hemicircular as a knitted piece can easily get).

If we take a little trip up Lake Shore Drive (did you know that, technically, it is illegal to drive any vehicle registered as a truck on LSD? ) we can get a view of Chicago from the north side of the city.

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Chicago from the North Side

The shaping of the sides of the bag is a little like that of the John Hancock tower -- which you can get a lovely view of if you drive south down LSD from Lincoln Park. (The John Hancock has a lovely restaurant on the 96th floor, called The Signature Room. Pricey but nice and panoramic views are available. If you aren't up for dropping a lot of cash, but want to enjoy the view and a drink, take the elevator up one floor more and check out the bar on the 97th floor).

One of the special elements of this bag is going to be the handles. Rather than just a flat band of fabric, the strap is going to be composed of two i-cords running in parallel.

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Chicago's Loop

Here's a close-up of the set up for the "Loops" in my Chicago (click here for some info on the origins of "the Loop".) I guess you could also see it as the antenna that spring up from the top of the tower. Two-4 stitch i-cords are going to start from this point. I hope this design element will work out the way I think it will. I'm a little worried that the straps will end up different lengths... but no guts, no glory! as my dad would say.

If you want to check out a little more of Chicago the city, check out Chicago Uncommon Photographs. This site/blog is full of lovely images of the city that aren't just your typical tourist perspectives. Check out the Wicker Park section if you want to see some images from my 'hood.

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