May 2004 Archives

Still Unpacking after MS&W

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I'm still unpacking and getting settled in back at home. Lots of good things to talk about from a wonderful trip. Here's my goody bag as I started unpacking for a little photo shoot this morning.

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A Bag Full of Fiber Booty

Lots of good stuff to tell and talk about, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Digging into my Suitcase, Part 1

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I have a midterm in my programming class today, and this week is going to be a busy one, so I thought I'd talk about Maryland Sheep & Wool and the goodies I brought home in stages.

So what was in the top of my little black travel bag?

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Koigu Kersti, Zircote Lucet, Dzined Hemp Sock Weight Yarn and Some Luscious Mohair from Brooks Farm

Originally, I promised myself that I wouldn't bother fighting off the crowds at the Koigu booth. Most of Saturday there was an almost impenetrable collection of people tucked into their stall. After all, I figured, I can order almost anything Koigu from ThreadBear. But the opportunity to buy small hanks of Kersti at about half the cost per gram as retail was too much for me. I bought four skeins in colors that I think might be compatible with my skin tones so that I can swatch for a turtleneck sweater that I would like to design for myself.

From left to right the colorways are K801, K513, K105 and K823. K105 is my favorite, but the colors in it are a bit yellowy. I'll be swatching these little samples when I need a break from other projects so that I can do a color check and plan for how much Kersti I might want to order. Kersti is lovely and definitely not cheap, so I want to make sure that I don't order more than I need and that I absolutely love the way the color will look on me.

Next in my circle of goodies is a new tool/toy that I've wanted to try ever since I saw Claudia talk about them in a post that I can't find quickly tonight -- a lucet. This particular lovely lucet is made by the folks at the Rouge Lucet and it's made out of a wood called "Zircote" from Mexico. Lucets are used for making a firm cording. I've tried playing with it a little bit already, but have decided that I need to set aside a little more time to be focused with it before I say too much more about it.

I encountered Dzined when I went to the Michigan Fiber Festival last summer. I haven't knit with the skein I bought there yet, but I couldn't resist this skein with it's lovely harvesty colors -- sagey greens, golds, berry purples, teals and indigo blues. It's really hard for me to turn away from hand dyed sock yarn. Yarns from Dzined are wool/hemp blends and Bonne Marie swears that they wear like iron, which would seem perfect for a sock experience.

The last skein up there is much more impressive in person than in the picture. It's a very subtly colored (blues, muted purples, greens, soft teals) 100% kid mohair yarn from Brooks Fiber Farm in Lancaster, Texas. Forget everything you ever thought about mohair being scratchy, this stuff is completely soft and neck-skin friendly. And the sheen of the yarn is just out of this world. It was one of the last things I bought on Sunday -- at a point when I had decided that I was finished buying. But it was just love at first sight when I found it and I had to bring it home with me. And at $30 for 500 yards (8 oz) it seemed like a real bargain. It's destined to become a lace scarf of my own design once fall rolls around. If you want to see a somewhat better rendering of the color (and the email address and phone number of the Brooks folks), click here.

That's it for tonight. But it's definitely not all that was in my bag. More to come after my midterm exam!

It is really nice to think that my last midterm ever could be done and over with. I say "could" because, while I really feel like I am done now, I am a bit of an education junkie. I have to admit that I actually like the feeling of being in classes. Except that part about taking tests and doing homework.

But now that the testing is done I have more time to share the rest of what came back with me from Maryland.

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Morehouse Lace Weight Merino and Foxhill Farm Cormo/Silk in Cathedral

I just can't get enough laceweight yarn these days, so it was almost impossible for me to walk past the Morehouse Merino booth without sticking my head in and coming away with something. In fact, I came away with two somethings. The first something is the Gigi scarf kit with a yarn in lovely autumnal colors -- deep pumpkin orange, rich dark raspberry, end of season grass green and slate grey/blue. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't wear these colors, but I do know one special person who can. The second something is the Belladonna Scarf Kit. This yarn has some of my favorite colors in it -- purple, blues and greens abound. One thing that sets these Morehouse yarns apart from other lace weight yarns that I have found is the texture of the yarn. It has thick and thin regions that give the yarn a lot of depth. Almost like laceweight Manos. I'm looking forward to knitting up both colorways.

As you will see in the picture below as well, I am pretty smitten with blues and purples. Our first stop on Saturday morning was the American Cormo Sheep Association booth. I was trying to be good, but I was unable to put the wool/silk blend from Foxhill Farm down. Cormo wool is just about the softest thing going and the silk gives the yarn a luster that only silk has. Thus, the blues and purples in this yarn are very deep and rich -- the yarn is almost iridescent. From a price perspective, this yarn was probably my biggest splurge. It will need to become something special. I'm waiting for it to tell me what it would like to be.

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Yarns from Tess' Designer Yarns

The one booth that I just couldn't get enough of was Tess' Designer Yarns. This booth is just a wonderful riot of color and texture. It's hard to walk past without wanting to bury your hands into all the wonderful fiber. And the colorways are a perfect match with the kinds of colors I like, as many of them fall into the jewel tone range. This whole batch was the result of two trips to the booth -- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. In the top left corner is a hank of an Angora/Merino blend in the color way called "Lime Splash". It's destined to be a scarf for my sister-in-law for Christmas. Just to the right of it, also in "Lime Splash" is a skein of Tess' sock yarn. It reminds me of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. The front left and right yarns are Microfiber Ribbon yarn in "Lime Splash" (left) and "Confetti" (right). The Lime Splash was a present for the wonderful secretary at my company who has really helped me out a lot in the past year or so and who also loves to knit. The Confetti is for me. Two hanks is enough to make a lovely tank top (a pattern by Jill Ramos) with a slip stitch detail. Yes, it's bright and out there, but it's for summer. And the microfiber ribbon is machine washable. It's hard to beat that for something I want to wear next to my skin.

So that's it for my unpacking project! More about the Festival and my travelling companions tomorrow. It's going to be hard for me to focus on my current projects with all this good new stuff looking at me longingly. Especially the Confetti. And little tank top season is just minutes away...

Warning -- image heavy post ahead. I didn't get my camera out as often as I should have (but I still did better than I normally do). Here are a few of the things that fascinated me while I was at MS&W.

The real stars of Maryland Sheep and Wool are the sheep. And there are just so many different kinds of sheep to look at. Big sheep, little sheep, young sheep, mature sheep. rams and ewes, sheep with and without horns, sheep of all sorts of colors and textures. A few of my faves are here:

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Karakul Sheep

The Karakul were probably my favorite -- but only because they almost didn't look like sheep to me. Their fleece was long and straight and they reminded me more of llamas than sheep from a wool perspective. They look cuddly, but Claudia assures me that their wool is really not very good for garments -- rugs and carpets. Apparently it's long staple and kind of coarse.

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Baa Baa Red Sheep

I don't remember which breed these little red guys belong to, but they were sure cute! I saw several more of them being walked around the fair grounds on leashes (only at MS&W would you not be surprised to see a sheep on a leash!). I love the color.

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Handsome Sheep in Profile

Yes, it's another sheep from a breed I can't remember the name of. If I had to guess tho, I'd guess that its a breed that has some Merino heritage. I just thought this guy looked regal and self possessed.

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Sheepy Fun On the Playground

Who needs a carousel when you can have a sheep-go-round? I have no idea what these folks were selling. Sheep replicas of some kind for those of us who can't have our own live specimen in our back yard?

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Fleece Sale Corner

Not too far from the sheep-go-round was the huge area set aside for raw fleeces. I stayed away from this area because I just don't have any interest in unwashed sheep wool (although I suspect my cats would get off on it), but I was intrigued by the bags of fleece and all the people digging through it. I suspect even if I learn to spin, I won't find much alluring about processing the raw stuff. But you never know, I could change my tune.

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Tailgate Sock Party

All we're missing are the brats and the brewskis. Silvia kindly took this picture of Bonne Marie, me and Claudia furiously working on our socks Sunday afternoon just before we headed back to the airport. Apparently we were an amusing sight for a lot of people as we got many offers of picture taking and many friendly comments in passing.

The best part of MS&W truly was meeting all the people and hanging out with a wonderful crowd of folks. What a treat to meet Leigh, Claudia and Silvia in person for the first time. They are all as witty and wonderful as they seem on their blogs. Silvia kindly brought me some white Phil'Onde that she had left over from her Onde sweater project. So now I can knit on in confidence on that project. Claudia and Silvia also acted as native guides. Nothing like having help finding the best vendors and the neatest stuff in the park. And not just fibery vendors -- the soap from GotSoap.com smelled to fabulous to leave at the fair.

And you can never beat an evening with Bonne Marie and Carolyn who I'll get to see again tonight at KIP. Could there be more fesitvals in my future? Quite possibly. I've been told I might get a spinning lesson if I can find a way to get to Rhinebeck. Who could resist an offer like that?

Phil'Onde Sleeve #1

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First off, I hope all of you motherly types had a wonderful Mother's Day. I got to spend the weekend with mine. We spent Sunday afternoon at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It is absolutely beautiful there right now. The tulips are still out, the flowering trees are in full bloom and everything is getting green and happy. I was particularly taken with the Sensory Garden and Spider Island. I'd never been there before this early in the spring. It's definitely a treat! If you live in Chicago and have never made it that far north, it really is worht the trip. If you would like a few more images of the garden, you can also take a look at some lovely photographs taken by Dawn Mikulich of Chicago Uncommon.

It was a lazy weekend and I didn't do very much besides relax with Mom and Dad and knit. Right now, I find myself surrounded by ribbed sweater projects. Over the weekend, I buckled down and got serious about getting a move on so that I can wear these sweaters before spring and summer have flown. Here's the first sleeve of my Phil'Onde sweater.

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One down...

I like the smooth color shading on the sleeve. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that in this size, I actually had some yarn left over from the 100 g ball with the color shading. I don't think I will have any more worries about having enough white.

I am thinking of casting on for the second sleeve before I do the front. It's not exciting, but there's no shaping until you get to the sleeve cap so it doesn't take much thinking, either.

If you want to see a lovely finished Phil'Onde sweater, check out Silvia's cardigan done in the Hyacinthe colorway.

Something interesting arrived at my house this weekend. There'll be pictures of that later this week.

Never Enough Treats from the UK

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Let's just say that I am not on a yarn diet, and leave it at that. These lovelies arrived in the mail last week from Marie. With all the stuff from Maryland Sheep and Wool to talk about, I didn't get a chance to post about this box of fun stuff.

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Left: Opal 188, Opal 1040 (Magic), Opal 1041 (Magic), Fortissima Colori 18
Right: Colinette Cushion Kits Snakes and Ladders in Amber and Chequers in Travertine
Center: Colinette "BackStage" and "Comfy Cosy" Pattern Leaflets

Inspired by my first adventures with Giotto and needlepoint, I decided I needed to have the other two cushion kits in what I hope will be co-ordinating colorways (I'm doing the colorway on the cover of the Chequers kit, but I selected the more subdued colorway for the Snakes and Ladders kit -- if you can call any Colinette colorway "subdued"). I'm going to turn them into wall hangings instead of cushions (three creatures with fur and claws remind me that ribbony pillows are not likely to have a long half life in my house). These are not difficult projects and make for the perfect outlet when you don't have enough brain power to dig into a knitting project. Whenever I need a pick-me-up there is almost nothing better than bathing in a little color a la Colinette.

And I've decided that (in spite of a previous post) that you really can't have too much sock yarn. Opal is one of my special favorites because knitting it up is often an adventure. The color to the far left is numbered "188" and I've never seen it here in the US before (it looks like a Jacquard colorway from the picture). Anyone know whether it's an oldie-but-goodie or something new? The other two Opal skeins are from the "Magic" collection. The 1040 is a nice, subdued blue and grey colorway that I am hoping might interest my husband someday (I know he won't go near it now, but maybe in the future...), the 1041 is most definitely for me, as I have no vividly minty green socks in my collection. The Fortissima Colori was a little treat that Marie snuck in the box after hearing that I liked the cotton wool blend yarns that I had tried. It's a nice blend of maroon and white and black that should make for a really nice pair of fall socks.

I have to stop now and tell you that Marie has a connection to some of the neatest cards. I love the one she sent with this box. It's sitting on top of Colinette's "BackStage" book and a little treat for Bonne Marie -- the leaflet that contains the Flounce Trimmed Jacket (if you want to see an awesome rendition, take a look at Jennifer's Jacket). And, last but not least, a bar of "White Chocolate Mousse" soap that smells absolutely edible.

Which cusion should I start next? Vote in the comments. I'll start the cushion that gets the most votes first!

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The vote from yesterday's cushion poll:

3 in favor of Chequers
6 in favor of Snakes and Ladders
1 abstention

Snakes and Ladders it is! Expect an inside the box color tour of the project soon!

In the meantime, I just couldn't resist getting another project started over the weekend. (Anyone who has looked at my WIP list will notice that it has grown dramatically over the last week or so. Not sure why, except that I've been feeling inspired by all the fibery goodness in my house right now). It seems like I swatched for Audrey forever-ago and then couldn't break the cast-on barrier. So in an attempt to get myself kick-started with this project I decided to choose something smaller than the body -- a sleeve.

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Audrey's First Sleeve

All that ribbing makes it look amazingly long and narrow. I suspect some blocking will be in order before I put the project together. The only interesting part of the sleeve is the decreases in the cap:

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Audrey Sleeve Cap

Once again Kim Hargreaves demonstrates her shaping cleverness. I'll be looking forward to doing set in sleeves for once.

And just in case you missed my post on the Audrey blog, I thought I'd also share an extreme closeup of the decrease detail, just because I think it looks so neat and clean.

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Extreme Closeup of Sleeve Cap Decreases

I really did enjoy knitting with the Calmer. It really just flew off my needles once I discovered that it had an excellent working relationship with my Denise needles. I'll be looking forward to getting back to it. I was planning to alternate between Phil'Onde pullover pieces and Audrey, but today I decided that I need my Phil'Onde pullover for my trip to San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend (I'd love to have both tops, but there's no chance in a very warm place that I will have the time to get both finished in two weeks). So everything else is going to come in second until "Le Pull" is complete and I can be Springy Green in California!

A Wheel with a Story

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On Monday, I mentioned that something special showed up at my house. I know I have mentioned on several occasions that spinning holds no interest for me. Julie tried her best to teach me how to work with a drop spindle, but I didn't turn out to be such a good student. I'm pretty easily frustrated when it comes to things that require hand-eye co-ordination, so I figured that I would just leave spinning to others with more patience. After all, this stuff is supposed to be relaxing.

But then I saw Claudia giving Carolyn spinning lessons with a drop spindle at Maryland Sheep and Wool. And I watched Leigh make the most lovely blue yarn from this indigo dyed batt that she bought. And I remembered that my mother had a slightly neglected spinning wheel sitting at her house.
When she came for her mother's day visit, I asked her if she might not be willing to share her wheel with me.

And so, after a liberal bath in some Murphy's Oil Soap, here's the new visitor in my living room. Those of you who know spinning, will know exactly what kind of wheel it is, but I'm going to save its true identity for a bit.

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Happy Shiny Spinning Wheel

Now, my mother has many many crafty hobbies, but I can tell you that from the time this wheel arrived in our house (sometime while I was in Junior High or High School) up until current times, that spinning has never been one of those hobbies. Not, I think, because my mom is averse to spinning. In fact, she loves all things fibery. It just wasn't one of those things she expected to come into her life.

Something else that might be surprising is that I never bothered to ask her how it was she came by a spinning wheel but never got into spinning. I mean, if mom goes out and buys a craft tool, she'll use it. Maybe not forever, but definitely until she decides whether its her thing or not. So I just had to ask, "what's up with the wheel, Mom?"

Apparently, the story goes something like this....

A long time ago, my mother handled a lot of administrative work for a wonderful British professor who worked in her department. I remember both him and his family pretty well. They were lovely people with a sense of humor and a few neat animals.

Well, at one point they took a trip to New Zealand and they asked mom to do a little pet-sitting for them. They jokingly asked my mother what she would like from New Zealand. And she told them that she wanted them to bring her back a sheep. Now, all of us who knit can appreciate how cool it would be to get a sheepy friend from the South Pacific. But apparently there were a few problems with the immigration process and they had to figure something else out for mom. So, in lieu of a sheep, this lovely wheel came to live with us.

In the long run, this was probably a good thing, as I am not sure that our neighbors would have appreciated the whole livestock in our back yard thing. And sheep are just a little bit more work to look after (but probably a lot less work than the two messy children that lived in the house).

As I was growing up, it never occured to me to want to know much about the wheel. But as we were browsing through MS&W I suddenly realized that Mom's lonely wheel had a pretty nice parentage.

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Ashford Traditional

So now I have the wheel, but it's days on display have not been completely kind to it. If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice that the treadle and the wheel are not actually connected. That's because of this:

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Unhappy Leather Tether

This little leather piece that connects the treadle to the wheel moving board (I'm sure it has a technical term) dried out and broke away. So before I can go any farther than just cleaning mom's wheel, I have to find a replacement piece.

And then I have to find a good book. Anyone want to make any recommendations? If you could have only one book on spinning while you were stranded on a remote desert island in the South Pacific, and you needed to spin coconut husk fiber into clothing, what book would you bring? Or would you just wait until Rhinebeck when you could get Claudia to show you the ropes in by a beautiful lake in New York? Hmmm...

Something Simple

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Thank you to everyone with spinning wheel book and repair suggestions. I'll definitely be looking into a number of them. I'm actually kind of looking forward to making this wheel work, and then actually seeing if I can figure out how to use it to make yarn. Something tells me another great adventure and stash adding opportunity has arrived.

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Morehouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

I was somewhere between my Phil'Onde sweater sleeve and my Audrey sleeve when I realized almost all of my projects involved ribbing. Now, I've got nothing against ribbing. Lately, I've realized that it's quite flattering for me. But I just can't knit only on projects with ribbing. And I really did want to play with some of my new yarn from Maryland Sheep and Wool. One of the project patterns that came from Morehouse Merino was a very simple garter stitch scarf using a laceweight multi-color yarn. Garter stitch on reasonably big needles seemed like the perfect antidote to my ribbing overdose.

The colors are a little funky because the light was just low enough outside after today's rainstorm to set off my camera's flash. The yarn really doesn't have any yellow in it. Anything that looks like yellow should really be in the Shrek-y green range. Like my fancy schmancy yarn bra? I love zip-lock bags. They are the perfect storage for lace weight and sock weight yarns.

I'm happy with the project so far. The colors remind me of a wildflower meadow, so the scarf has a very summery happy quality. I'm constantly surprised by how much I like knitting with lace weight yarn. The yarn is a little rough for what I expect from Merino. I'm hoping that once I finish the scarf and give it a little Eucalan bath and blocking it will loosen up and soften up a bit. I'm a little over halfway through with the first half of the scarf. I like how this scarf is constructed. After you get to the middle you start decreasing -- gives me the illusion of running downhill quickly after I get to the mountain top.

Happy Friday to All!

Green Sleeves and Green Leaves

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While I love the green growing things, I am not always very good at keeping them alive. Thus, I can't help but get excited every year when my clematis voluntarily come back from their winter hibernation. They're only three years old, so I think they're still getting themselves established, and I still worry that something tragic will befall them. So far though, all three of the plants that we settled up against our garage (in the hopes of giving them a protected space) are alive and well. The poor things are desperate for a little more light, though, so all three of them have sent up vines as far as they can go.

The first couple of years, I got a few blossoms from each one, but I think they were concentrating on getting their roots and vines established. This is the first year that I'm getting a real show. The first one to get going this year is the one that is supposed to be the early bloomer, a variety called "Nelly Moser". Nelly has big showy single flowers (they're probably about 6" in diameter) that have whitish/pinkish petals with deeper pink to magenta petal centers.

Nelly still has plenty of buds to share with us, and the second one is also getting ready to put on a show for us. We may be urban, but we still get to enjoy our little garden.

Speaking of green and growing, I made good progress on my Phil'Onde pullover this weekend. I now have both sleeves finished.

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Sleeves for Phil'Onde Pullover

The astute amongst you will recongize that these sleeves are fraternal, rather than identical twins. I'm actually pleased that this is somewhat difficult to see int he picture, because hopefully that means that it will not be completely obvious in the sweater. But just to make it completely clear, I also present this closeup of the sleeve caps:

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Phil'Onde Sleeve Caps

I'm actually considering myself quite lucky that I decided to do the second sleeve before I did the front and that I grabbed the ball of Phil'Onde that I did to knit the second sleeve. You might notice in the sleeve on the right (the second sleeve) that there is an area just around where the shaping starts that looks a little whiter than the rest of the surrounding area. Well, as I was knitting through the last and lightest color, I suddenly encountered a rather lengthy area of white, followed by a big globby green area that was rather thicker than the rest of the yarn, followed by a return to the appropriate color. Because I was knitting in a low light area I didn't notice that the light green went to white before hitting the glob. Once I got it into high light areas, there was some ripping (and a little grumbling) to do.

Now, a truly dedicated knitter would rip the first sleeve back in an attempt to make the two match. I decided that since the two sleeves would be separated by the body of the sweater, the imbalance probably wouldn't be very noticeable. And it seemed a real shame to rip back, just to give myself a few more ends to weave in. Hopefully I will not regret my decision after I have painstakingly set in the sleeves.

So far, this is the only problem that I have had with the Phil'Onde. Unfortunately, the yarn's format makes it almost impossible to anticipate flaws deep within the skein. Kureyon and Silk Garden have given me similar problems in the past as well. I guess it is just one of the hazzards of working with striping yarns.

Even so, I'm getting quite excited about having this sweater done. On Saturday, I met up with Julie to do a bit of shopping and a bit of knitting. I got quite a bit done on the last piece of the sweater, so I'm thinking that I could be wearing this sweater next weekend. And then it will be time to focus on Audrey! I'm so inspired by all the lovely finished Audrey's that have shown up as part of the knit along. If you were worried about the shaping decreases and increases or wondering whether the lace would lie flat, worry and wonder no more! We've got 6 beautiful finishers who got incredible results!

Almost Onde Finish Line

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Well, I was planning on talking about my programming class project tonight, as I think I have most of the project mapped out, and I have a nice chunk of the user interface coded up. But I think I will defer until later in the week, and instead follow the advice from Silvia and Claudia that I just knit on as fast as I can and get finished with my Phil'Onde pullover.

Et Voila! La Devant du Pull...*

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The Front of the Phil'Onde Pullover in Chlorophylle

For once, my poor little camera did a good job on an indoor shot, with regards to color. Maybe that bright white Onde reflects just enough to make it work out. The piece is all pinned down to my SpaceBoard just waiting to get hosed down and block over night. Yes, I know that a little water will not fundamentally change the shape of a cotton/acrylic piece of fabric, but the stretching and the water do seem to help even out my sitches a bit, and I think that will be helpful when I go to assemble it.

In response to Julie M.'s comment from yesterday, my assembly process is pretty simple. The first thing I will do is attach the shoulder seams and see how it hangs. Then I'll sew up the side seams (which won't be a lot of fun, because I've got purl stitches on the edges -- I forgot to add that handy selvedge stitch) and try the body on to get a sense for how it's going to fit. Then I'll sew up the sleeve seams and attach the sleeves to the armholes. This might seem like more trouble than it's worth, but I think the extra stability this order of sewing gives the sleeve will be worth it. After I've got the sleeves taken care of, I'll try it on one more time and make a quick assessment of the neckline before doing the simple neckband finishing.

After that I will put it on and dance -- maybe even outside in the sunshine!


*my apologies to anyone who speaks and writes French correctly. I hope I haven't butchered that little phrase too badly.

Visualizing "Le Pull"

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I always forget how long it takes to seam up a sweater. Once I get the pieces blocked, I inevitably convince myself that I am just a few hours away from a finished garment. Even though I didn't finish the sweater tonight, I did get about halfway through the seaming adventure. Shoulder and side seams are now in place. The side seams took longer than they should have since I neglected to give myself a selvedge stitch and thus found myself seaming up reverse stockinette edges, which is not, to say the least, my favorite seaming situation.

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So Close and So Far

But I think the seaming effort turned out well (I'll try to provide a few closeups when I can take pictures during the daylight) and I got to try on the body for size. So far I'm very pleased with the shaping and the fit. The Phil'Onde is also just the perfect weight -- it's very very light and I think it will resist gravity better than most summer weight yarns tha I've worked with. The ribbing is very figure flattering. I'm looking forward to getting the sleeves attached and getting a look at the final product. I've learned through experience that you can't trust the fit of a sweater until all the pieces are in place.

The picture above gives a little bit of an idea of what the finished garment will look like. I guess the uneven shading on the sleeves is probably going to stand out more than I would like, at least based on this picture. I'm still not sure it's worth ripping out the sleeve cap to try to achieve perfection, though, as I am quite capable of making it worse by trying to guesstimate how much green I would need to take out in order to make the things match.

I think I'll sleep on it. But I am interested in hearing opinions. What would you do?

Slept On It

Heh. You'll all be happy to know that I ripped that sleeve cap back right after breakfast. Those of you who pointed out that I had mentioned it twice, and if I was bringing it up a second time, I would probably be bugged by it forever, are definitely right.

I was just too excited about getting it all put together to realize that I wasn't happy about that detail. Better to rip now than to rip after I had set in the sleeve. So I'll be finishing up the sleeve cap tonight and then I'll get back to the business of finishing. Thanks for everyone who commented! I definitely needed the moral support/butt-kicking in the right direction.

Much Better

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Much Happier Now

It may not be exactly perfect, but I'm much happier with the shading in the sleeves. I finished the sleeve cap after I got home from work and sewed up one sleeve seam. I had hoped to get both done, but my weekly date with my sweetie intervened.

But I do have something else to show and talk about -- my Palm application.

I ended up deciding to put together a little program that would focus on tracking projects, but would have supplementary yarn and needle databases so that one can keep track fo needle and yarn stash and know what needles and what yarn are allocated to what particular project. It's tentatively called "KnitTrack". I'm going to be keeping it simple at first and then, if there is enough interest, I will build on it. My first goal is to get the interface for the projects and needles worked out. Here's the intro screen:

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Knit Track Projects

Can you tell what is supposed to be going on in this screen? The first column is the priority for the project, the second is the project name, the third and fourth columns are the start and end date, respectively and the final column is the percent completed (eventually I will get the percent sign in there). The "P", "N" and "Y" push buttons stand for "Projects", "Needles" and "Yarn" and they can be used to navigate between three main screens that let you see the items in those categories. Projects will also be able to be categorized, but I haven't implemented that yet.

If you click the "New" or "Edit" button on this screen, you will get something that looks like this:

20040519_NewProjectScreen.bmp
Add a Project

These are the project information fields. Is this enough information? Too much? I haven't figured out exactly which "widgets" I will use for each field. I want to use tap-down lists whenever possible to make data entry easier since I won't be creating a desktop app for data entry.

I haven't dealt with the main needle listing screen yet, but here's the new record screen for needles:

20040519_NewNeedleScreen.bmp
Add Needles

Should there be more fields? The "Type" drop down will let you select straight, circular or dp. The "Current Project" label indicates where I will put information about what project the needles are associated with (if any).

Any and all comments and criticisms are appreciated. Don't be shy!

I know that when I first talked about this I mentioned that there would be goodies for the person who came up with the idea that I used. But everone who posted came up with good ideas, and I hope that I will be able to grow this little program to incorporate several of them. This makes it difficult for me to declare a "winner". So I would like to declare everyone a winner here and let everyone know, that once I finish it, anyone who reads my blog and is interested in having this program for their Palm will be able to have it when it is finished. I am implementing it under Palm OS 3, so it should be compatible with a wide range of devices.

Not Quite Onde Mark

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Now I have two seamed sleeves for my Phil'Onde pullover, but it still doesn't give me much to show off until I get those sleeves attached to the body. While I don't mind knitting in public, I'm not very good at finishing in public. Thus, I worked on my Morhouse Merino Belladonna scarf project while hanging out with the largest collection of knit-nighters than I've ever seen at Letizia's before. Wonderful new folks and and old friends abounded. And I got to meet Jen (who used to have the Moving Hands blog) who was back from Japan. Very cool.

I'm making good progress on the scarf, and it is a delightfully easy project.

20040520_MorehouseMerinoScarf.JPG
Morehouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

Somehow, this scarf seems very appropriate to accompany the opening of Shrek 2 this weekend.

This weekend is going to be one of weddings, finishing and programming. Hopefully I'll have good things to show on Monday.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who left feed back on my little program! I may take some of you volunteering to beta test up on your offer, but I want to make sure that it behaves itself before I let it loose. My project is due in 3 weeks, so expect my first release during the first part of June!

Onde Finish Line

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There was no way I was going to go into the weekend being so close to sweater completion without finishing my Phil'Onde sweater. I finished it Friday night, but a wedding and bad weather got in the way of any photos on Saturday. Here's the results from Sunday's photo shoot:

20040523_LePullOndeFront.JPG     20040523_LePullOndeSide.JPG
"Le Pull" in Phil'Onde Cholorphylle, Front and Side Views
20040523_LePullOndeBack.JPG
A Phil'Onde Hourglass

So there you have it! One of my favorite projects of the year so far. It's not a complicated sweater, which is just fine, because the yarn is complicated enough -- having both the color gradient and a boucle texture. There is just a little bit of shaping to make it pinch in at the waist just a little bit. But other than that, it's the ribbing that is doing all the work.

It's hard to describe how light and airy the sweater is. Even though it's composed of about 600 g of yarn, it has a light-as-a-feather quality about it. I think this is achieved due to a combination of the texture and gauge and composition of the yarn. Phil'Onde is a fairly fine yarn (somewhere between sport and DK weight) so you wouldn't expect it to work well knit on 5 mm (US 8) needles. But the nubbly texture works in your favor here and sort of fills in the nooks and crannies. I think the fact that this yarn is mostly acrylic also works in my favor -- a lightweight springy garment is less susceptible to the ravages of gravity.

And I guess it goes without saying that I'm happy I fixed that first sleeve cap. I was a little worried that the sleeves were going to feel kind of tight with the ribbing. As it turns out, they are wonderful and loose. I think over time they will bell a little bit at the wrist.

One of the nice things about a simple sweater is that I can focus on the details. For this sweater to come off well, it was important that I do a good job of setting in the sleeves and finishing the neckline.

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Neck line detail

The neckline finishing is simple and elegant -- a row of crocheted chain stitch followed by two rounds of single crochet. I haven't always been successful when it comes to getting crochet to lay flat, but this worked out well, I think.

20040523_LePullOndeShoulder.JPG
Set-In Sleeves Accomplished!

But the detail that I am most proud of is the setting-in of the sleeves. I was worried that it would be difficult to get the ribbing to look right. I did a lot of ripping as I attached the sleeves to make subtle corrections that would get everything lined up correctly. It took me a lot more time than I thought it would, but I think the results are worth it.

So what did I learn on this project?

  • Set-in sleeves are a little more challenging, but a very flattering look for me (at least I think so!).
  • I have more tolerance for doing an all over ribbed sweater than I would have imagined.
  • Phildar patterns are well written and easy to follow. I could have almost done the pattern from the schematic alone! I think they have some of the best pattern schematics around. It also pays to have a few people who can help you with the nuances of French patterns (thanks, Becky!).
  • Not everything acrylic is a bad thing.
  • Ripping is good for the soul and even better for the finished look of the project
  • There will be more Phildar projects going on for me this summer.

I've had a lot of people ask me "where did you get the Phil'Onde?" My Phil'Onde arrived special delivery from Lyon, courtesy of a blogging buddy who has easy access to all things Phildar. But I'm very excited because I know a little secret that I've been allowed to share -- I'm now going to have a source of Phildar yarns in the US. According to Rob, ThreadBear is going to have the whole spectrum of Phil'Onde sometime in June. Finally a US retail source of Phildary goodness!

I'll leave you with this shot of my Beezle doing his best to imitate Claudia's Igor. No sooner had I finished this sweater and folded it on my desk than he decided to lay down on it and "claim" it for his very own pillow. Apparently I am not the only one who appreciates French yarn.

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Who's Sweater is it Really?

Morhouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

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First off -- thank you all for the comments about the Phil'Onde pullover. I don't think I've ever gotten so much positive feedback on a sweater before. I feel a bit like Sally Field. This sweater does make me quite happy. It's going to get its first outing when I arrive in San Francisco at the end of the week. I'm saving it as a special treat to myself for the trip out.

After the Phil'Onde pullover, my next little finished item seems a bit anti-climactic. It was a project I started to give myself a little relief from all the ribbing going on with the Phil'Onde project and Audrey. It also went to class with me and just generally became my travelling project since I didn't feel like dealing with socks.

On Saturday and Sunday I spent a lot of hours in the car travelling back and forth to Stockton (near Galena), IL for a friend's wedding. That proved to be an excellent opportunity to finish up another quick and easy project, the Belladonna Scarf kit that I purchased from the Morehouse Merino booth when I was at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

Pretty amaxing what you can do with some water and some pins. This scarf went from barely extending all the way around my shoulders to practically a full sized shawl -- it's about 2 feet deep and a little over 4 foot wide. Garter stitch coupled with lace weight wool is neat stuff that way. I did a full soak in Eucalan with this scarf in hopes that it would soften a bit. It most definitely did! I'm also happy to report that it didn't bleed at all.

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Amazing What A Little Blocking Will Do

The photo was taken in the morning, but it was pretty overcast. The colors refuse to do what I would like them to. Those areas that look almost pink are actually regions of Shreky green and purple running together. You can see a swatch that is a little truer to the colors below:

20040524_MorehouseMerinoBelladonnaUpClose.JPG
Morehouse Merino Lace Weight Up Close

So what am I working on now? Well, I'm going to switch back to socks now for my travelling projects since I have several pairs started that need to be finished up. As for a bigger project, I think it's time to give Audrey my full attention. Audrey also has the benefit of being very happy on my Denise needles, so it's a good project for the plane ride to San Francisco and back.

The rest of this week is going to be rather un-knitful. With my project due date coming up quickly, most of my evening time is going to be devoted to getting things up and working. It also means that I'm probably not going to be very good at answering my email quickly, although I will try to do what I can. I'll be sharing my progress on the project this week, complete with screen shots so that I can get feedback on the direction I'm going in.

A number of very kind people have volunteered to beta test for me. I'm not quite ready for that yet, but I will definitely want some help with that when I get a little farther along.

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One Is the Lonliest Number When It Comes to Socks

This really is the last knitting picture that I will be posting for a while (at least this week). It's the first of a pair of socks in Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, colorway number 807. I started this sock while on the way to Maryland a few weeks back. It had been sitting on my desk for a while waiting for the toe to be sewn up and the afterthought heel to be added. Over the weekend I got that little project taken care of, so now it's time to get the second sock cast on and started.

Even though I would almost never like any of these colors in isolation, when you put them together, I find them quite appealing as a whole. I'm sure there's a color wheel discussion that I could bring to bear here, but it's late, so I'll postpone that discussion until another time, perhaps when I finish the second sock.

I did make some more progress on my project tonight. I now have one database that can almost be subsetted properly by category, which means that I can almost sort needles by the type of needle they are... i.e. straight, circular, or double pointed. Are there any other types of needles that I am leaving out of the basic category set?

Most of this week I've been trying to crank away on the knitting needle database component of my KnitTrack software. I'm starting with the knitting needle info component of the program because it's one of the simplest parts of the project. Once I work through this part, it should be a good prototype for the other two databases that I have to build.

Like most programming projects I have embarked upon, I've underestimated the challenge of doing something new, even if it is simple. I am actually considering setting the knitting needle information database tool up to be an independent component for the first release, and seeing if I can do enough things with it to make it an acceptable final project for my class.

The knitting needle database tool has two primary "viewers". The first viewer displays all the needle records in the database, with the records viewed and their display order specified by the user. The second viewer displays the details of individual needle records. Here's a set of screen shots for the first viewer:

20040526_NeedleListing.bmp20040526_NeedleListingCategories.bmp20040526_NeedleListingCircular.bmp
The Entry Screen to the Needle Database in KnitTrack

The screen shot on the left demonstrates what the user will see when the program is launched. The category indicator at the top says "All" so all the records are displayed. The Palm screen is too narrow for me to display all the information in each needle record, so I've selected what I think is the most useful information:

Needle Maker US/UK Size/Length Composition Category

If you click down on the category selector, you see the screen in the middle. The default categories are Circular, Double Point, Straight and Unfiled. You can work with these categories, or you can change them to suit your needs or add your own categories just by clicking on "Edit Categories". You can have up to 15 total categories.

After selecting a category, the listing box is updated to display only the records from the category selected. In this case, I selected the "Circular" category, for which there are only two records.

The next thing I need to do is set up some general sort types so that the user can see the records in an order that is useful. Here are the sorts that I think would be useful:

  • By Category, then by Size, Length and Maker
  • By Category, then by Size, Length and Composition
  • By Category, then by Composition, Size and Length
  • By Category, then by Maker, Size and Length

Are there other orders that might be beneficial? See below for a description of the available fields. I will have an option for the user to filter the records for all the needles that are not already in projects.

When you click on the "new" button in the bottom left corner, you pull up a screen that looks like this:

20040525_NeedleCategories.bmp 20040526_AddNeedleSizeOpts.bmp 20040526_AddNeedleLengthOpts.bmp
The Record Editing Screen in KnitTrack

There are 8 basic fields in the database: Type of Needle ("Type"), the US or UK size ("Size"), the metric size ("Size (mm)"), length ("Length"), the manufacturer of the needle ("Maker"), the composition ("Composition"), notes and there will be a place to indicate whether the needle is in use or not via a check box. You can indicate the current project via the notes field, if you wish, or use it for other purposes (this is just for the needle database only version of the program, when I integrate it with the tracker, I'll change how this works so that the two databases are connected).

In the three screen shots above, you can see the pulldowns for the Type, Size and Length fields. I added the pulldowns for Size and Length so that the program would be workable outside of the US.

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Needle Manufacturer Selections

For the Manufacturer field, you can see a selection of the options I've set as defaults: Bryspun, Clover, Crystal Palace, Inox, Pony, Skacel, Susan Bates and Swallow (I'll be adding Brittany as well). This list will also be editable so that those of you who have other types you wish to include can add them. Are there other "big name" manufacturers that I've left out? (Note: AddiTurbos are made by Skacel).

20040526_AddNeedleCompositionOpts.bmp
Needle Composition Selections

For the Composition field, you can see a selection of the options I've set as defaults: Aluminum, Bamboo, Birch, Brass, Casein, Ebony, Plastic, Rosewood, Steel, and Teflon Coated. As with the manufacturer list, this list will be editable to allow more options. Are there other defaults that I should have included?

Finally, there are three buttons on the bottom. "OK" saves the record. "Cancel" deletes the record if it's a new record or just ignores changes if it is an existing record. And "Delete" deletes the record. After any of the buttons are clicked, the user is returned to the main listing.

So that's the basic tour of the first component. Scary to think I can write more words about the beginning of a programming project than I do about most knitting projects. I think the basic screens are mostly done. What I have left to implement is the sorting, (and the on-screen mechanisms for dealing with sorting), dealing with scrolling (when you have more records than list box space) and setting an option for whether you want to see the US/UK or metric size in the record listing.

So tell me what you think!

Phildar Phrom Phrance

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Sorry about the bad alliterations. I just can't help myself when it comes to showing off this box of goodies that arrived this week from Lyon:

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Phil Eponge in Camelia, Wonderful Linen Yarn from Russia and Phil'Onde in Jeans and Ciel

How can I not be happy when I get a stash update like that? Yumyumyum! The Phil'Eponge is for me so that I can make this sweater. The Phil'Onde is for both me and my mom. I'm going to make this for my sweetie and mom is going to make the sweater on the right for herself. (Just in case you are concerned, the Phil'Onde Ciel is not quite so baby blue as it comes out in the picture, the color is much closer to the snapshot below). The beautiful natural yarn in the middle of the picture is a very special gift from a woman that I work with. She just travelled to Russia on vacation. It is a 100% pure and beautiful laceweight linen yarn. And it smells absolutely delicious. It's much softer than you might imagine. I'm not sure what it will become yet. I don't know if there is enough for a tank top if I use it doubled. But there might be enough for a lacy scarf. It's certainly going to be a lovely summer treat.

I thought some closeups were in order of the Phil'Eponge and the Phil'Onde.

20040527_PhilEpongeCamelia.JPG  20040527_PhilOndeJeansEtCiel.JPG
Phil'Eponge and Phil'Onde Up Close

The Phil'Eponge is a *very* neat yarn. It reminds me a bit of a much finer, boucle version of Cascade Fixation. It's soft and very springy to the touch. The color in the picture is a bit more intense than in real life. After Audrey, this stuff will be next up!

I've already said a lot about Phil'Onde, so this shot is just to show off how sophisticated the Jeans and Ciel colorways are. It's going to be all I can do not to start playing with the stuff.

In relatively few hours I will be on a jet plane to San Francisco. Art Fibers is, of course, on my list, as is a long visit with a good friend who I haven't seen in ages. I won't be meeting up with any other bloggers just because I'm not sure a knitting festival would be all that fun for the sweet guy I am flying out to spend the weekend with. We're flying back home on Monday, so I don't have as much time there as I would like.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone!

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