September 2004 Archives

Thinking About Fall

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The weather here in Chicago has been all over the place lately. Last Saturday night, John and I went downtown to take in some of the Viva! Latin Music Festival. It was raining and cold and felt like October instead of August. We felt bad for the performers, since the Petrillo Bandshell doesn't offer visitors any shelter and the crowds were pretty small. Even we didn't stick around as long as we wanted to since we got cold and damp so quickly.

All throughout our time downtown I kept thinking how much happier I would have been if I had had a nice wool sweater underneath my jean jacket. Is it any surprise that I got the back of Salt Peanuts finished up?

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The Back of Salt Peanuts: A Sweater with Hips

It is an interesting coincidence that I finished up the back of this sweater at almost exactly the same time that John finished Doom 3. Hopefully I won't need to convince him to start another video game for me to get the rest of the project finished!

I think it's striking how shapely the back of this sweater looks pinned down on my board, and how shapeless the sweater looks on the model in the magazine. I suspect that the thickness of the fabric will minimize some of the shaping, but I have hopes that it will look a little more flattering on me when I try it on. I think I have a few more curves than the model, at least on my lower half. I hope that will work in my favor!

Filigree Finished

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Is This Picture a Cheat, or What?

Yes, she's finished, but like most divas she doesn't want to come out of her dressing room until she's properly dressed and pressed. The sweater definitely needs the edging smoothed into place and the pattern detail blocked out. She also needs a button if I don't want to use one of my pearl earrings as a clasp. I think this sweater merits a trip to Tender Buttons for something special.

I've never blocked a mohair sweater before, so a new adventure awaits. I'm very open to success/horror stories with blocking mohair in general or Kidsilk Haze in specific. Hopefully this weekend my photographer and I will get the chance to give her a proper photo shoot!

New Inspiration (Or Following Trends)

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Salt Peanuts and I are having a bit of a snit right at the moment. And the tiff really isn't to be blamed on the sweater at all, but, instead, on my ability to deal with complex and somewhat unclear instructions. I can work with either complex or unclear instructions independently, but the two combined are too much of a match for me. At least tonight.

If anyone else is working on Salt Peanuts, there was/is a knit-a-long group who worked on this sweater a while back (I can't tell if the knit-a-long is active or not). One of their members posted a very helpful page that offers suggestions and instruction interpretation. You can find it here.

Of course, the finishing of the Filigree Lace Jacket (my fussy sweater is gently blocking under a cold spritz right now) and reaching the greater than half way mark with Salt Peanuts (a sleeve, the back and almost one of the fronts) has gotten me thinking about what will come next.

Lately, I've seen a number of bloggers (Steph and Julie in particular) talking about Butterfly, a Jane Ellison creation from her new Noro Knits book. I love the shape of this sweater, and seeing the waves and stripes in the back of Julie's Butterfly just put me over the top with the need to add this sweater to my wardrobe.

But I really didn't want to spend a bazillion dollars on Kureyon. Not that I am above spending a lot of money on yarn for a sweater, but I am really trying to be good right now. Enter Wool Needle Works in Canada. Check this out.... $5.79/skein for Kureyon. How can you beat that when it's more than $9/skein in most places in Chicago? So now I have 14 skeins of Kureyon in color 90 winging (or rather surfacing, becauase I was too cheap to spring for the "air mail" postage from Canada) its way to me. Supposedly it's already shipped, so now all I have to do is be patient....

...and finish Salt Peanuts....

...and think about my poor neglected Audrey....

...and wonder when I am going to finish all those unmated socks...

Happy Labor Day Weekend to Everyone!

Diva Makes Her Debut

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Sometimes its all about the sweater. In this case, it most definitely is. This sweater should have been called "Diva" from the beginning, but her true name didn't come to me until it was almost time to show her off.

You aren't going to model me in the dark and unblocked and without a button are you?

Well, I just can't believe you're finally finished! After all this time...

Oh, please! I've been over six months in the making. Do you really think that a few more days will really make a difference?

But I've put so much work into you...

All the more reason not to show me to the world until I am all that I can be! Shouldn't I have a grand and dramatic entrance? Much better to arrive late, but arrive in style!

How could I argue with that?

So this weekend saw a trip to Tender Buttons to find the perfect button (which isn't actually used as a button, just as a decoration to cover the plastic snap that I purchased at JoAnn's). After I got the snaps in place this morning, it was too hot to take a picture in anything containg mohair, but it was cool enough this evening for my Diva to make her debut.

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Diva, Glowing for the Photographer

Diva, in the spirit of making a grand entrance, thought you might also want to see her from a few other directions and in a few other moods. Pay no attention, she would remind you, to the model.

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So Tell Me, Dahling
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Diva Shows Off Her Lacy Side

It should now be clear that Diva is no waif of a sweater, She is a big, voluminous girl who likes her space, and isn't afraid to drape over the divan. The Diva's pattern has 4 sizes 34", 42", 50" and 58". I chose the 42" size because I didn't want her to be clingy. Here's a shot that demonstrates that she is anything but clingy.

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Diva Prepares to Take A Bow

One of my favorite elements of the sweater is the very feminine and delicate neckline, set off with a sparkly button. In honor of the neckline (and my recent acquisition of PhotoShop Elements 2.0 -- is there anything more wonderful than having a boy who looks for good deals on software that makes my blogging experience better?), Diva bids you adieu with the final shot:

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A Swarovski Studded Neckline

But I don't think I could start my wrap up without sharing a closeup of the button -- I just love Swarovski crystal. And this little bit of bling bling seemed like the perfect accompanyment to my Diva.

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Can You Tell I Like Playing with My Photo Editing Software? It's on Sale at Fry's

Diva would not want me to spend too long focusing on the technical details of things, so I with no further delay, this is what I learned...

  • I both love and hate working with Kidsilk Haze. It is divine and soft and elegant and an utter pain in the you-know-what to have to rip. Definitely the sort of yarn that you want to take your time with. If I started getting tired, I put it down. That kept my stitches looser and my mistake level low.
  • KSH is very bare skin friendly, and that surprised me, since mohair and I don't always get along very well.
  • Don't let the lacy quality fool you, Diva is a very warm jacket (both silk and mohair are excellent insulators). She will be great in the fall and certainly do well over a turtle neck in the winter.
  • If you work with this pattern, read carefully. There are a number of confusing elements that are not confusing if you read ahead, but will be frustrating if you don't.
  • Figure out how to do picot edging on a test swatch with a yarn that is a little less attracted to itself. The edging really makes the jacket, but it has the potential to look awful if you don't do it right. And I think the instructions, as written in the pattern, for making the picot edging are not very good.
  • They may take me forever, but I love lace projects. I love blocking them out and watching them come alive.
  • I want to make Birch, or maybe the poncho from the new Rowan mag

Peanuts Progress

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Thank you to everyone who came by and said nice things about Diva. She is very appreciative of the warm reception and agrees quite heartily with those who feel she needs to be taken out and about on a special outing. As soon as it gets a little cooler in Chicago, she will get her wish.

A couple of people asked about the button and the snaps and how I got the button not to drag the lace down. The answer is a simple one: I cheated. The snap was attached firmly to the fronts of the garment. When the snap was snapped, I found a place just above the snap to push the button shank through. I pushed the shank through both layers, then I used a button holder saftey pin to secure the button in place. I also worked hard to find a button that wasn't too heavy. This button is actually just on the edge of being too heavy. I don't think I'll ever be able to sew it down and have it behave properly. But that's okay, because it will need to come off if Diva ever gets a bath (the snap, on the other hand, is a clear plastic, totally washable, ironable, abusable clear nylon snap).

Salt Peanuts also saw some action this weekend. Friday night, I finished the left front and got the piece ready to be blocked. The front, like the back, is very curvy and shapely.

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Salt Peanuts, Front Left

The fronts of this sweater are really an exercise in "how well can you follow instructions". I won't go so far as to say that the instructions are bad, but I feel like there should have been a better way to communicate all the things that are going on at the same time. I had three different ripping moments with this piece. The ripping in and of itself wasn't bad, and it didn't take that long to repeat what I'd ripped out, but it was a real pain to pick up the stitches. The Bergamo loops are much tighter than you might expect and don't grip each other as well as you might like. This means that you need a tiny need to grab them all up with and you still have to be careful.

Other than that, the knitting goes fairly quickly. I'm almost done with the right front. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode.

P.S. The other thing I did over the weekend was experiment a bit wit Movable Type. I finally figured out how to get a real live archives page set up and I started to set up subcategories (a new feature of MT 3.1). You can get to my archive page by clicking on the word "Archive" in my tool bar above. Also, you'll see below the comment link for every post, information about which category the post is in. If you want to see more about the back story of a project, you can click the name of the category the project is in and pull up all the entries.

Those Who Do Not Study History...

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...are doomed to repeat it.

Sometimes a quote can be applied to many situations. In this case, it applies to my knitting of Salt Peanuts.

One would have thought that making many annoying and frustrating mistakes on the left front of the sweater would have made me read just that much more carefully when I started on the right front of the sweater. One might have thought that I would actually create better instructions for myself to follow so that I could spare myself the ripping and picking up of stitches.

Alas, this was not the case. I did read through everything, but apparently the part of my brain that can integrate knitting instructions, overwhelmed by the complexity of dealing with decreasing on two edges and shaping with short rows, simply turned itself off for a second time. Believe it or not, I made almost exactly the same set of mistakes on the second front that I did on the first front... botching where the first set of short rows in the collar went, not handing the collar shaping decrease intervals correctly, forgetting an imporant yarn over in the lace patterning on the collar. It was as if I had amnesia.

When you are a project rather than process oriented knitter, this kind of experience just creates serious misery.

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All Fronts Present and Accounted For

But but big yarn and big gauge and a little perserverence paid off in this case. I am now only one sleeve short of a full sweater. While the instructions for the fronts are a little frustrating, and I did not execute them to the degree of technical perfection that I wanted to, I am also happy to say that the way this sweater is constructed, combined with the bulkiness of the merino tape yarn, makes some of the problems difficult to detect.

For instance, can you see the decreasing interval differences at the neckline between the two front pieces? Go ahead, be honest. I can take it.

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Can You See the Mistakes?

Even if you can see them, I have an ace in the hole with this sweater. The collar pieces are actually in the reverse orientation to the rest of the fronts. When the sweater is assembled, they will flop over and cover the areas where the decreases occur. So even if my little mistakes are visible now, when I am wearing the sweater, they will be pretty much invisible.

And that's one of those things I love about knitting... mistakes happen, but you don't always need to lose sleep over them.

I've already made a little headway on the final sleeve. John went out and found himself another first person shooter to get involved with, so now I am knitting while he prowls around an island covered in tropical jungle and gets chased around by mercenary commandos and exotic birds. You get extra geek girl brownie points if you can guess what game he's playing now...

Goodies

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Hooray! The Postman Cometh! And look what he left on my doorstep...

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Noro Kureyon #90 and Jane Ellison's Noro Knits

Now I am all ready to get started on Butterfly. Whenever I'm looking at colors on-line, especially with Noro yarn, I'm always suspicious. But these are exactly the colors I hoped they would be:

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Noro Kureyon 90 in Profile

Lovely winter jewel tones always call out to me. And I think the little bits of apple green and aqua blue will provide the perfect accent punches. Now I am all ready for the incredible Butterfly Knit-Along that Jessica is hosting.

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If you're thinking about knitting this sweater, drop Jessica a line. You don't have to knit with Kureyon to do the project. Claudia is using her own gorgeous handspun to create a Butterfly.

I think there will be at least one other pattern out of the Jane Ellison book that I take on:

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Can You Guess Why The Boy Likes This Sweater?

When I showed "Fitzgerald" to John, he tilted his head to the side, considered it, I might wear that... if you make it, you should pick something that's washable, because if I liked it, I would probably want to wear it a lot

Not only an endorsement, but a yarn request. Amazing. Kureyon is definitely not washable, though. And I think it might be a little scratchy for him. Silk Garden is also not washable and I think it would overheat him. I am thinking maybe Diakeito Diadomina could be a substitute. Does anyone know whether this yarn is up to the challenge of being washed a reaonable amount? I know it's soft and that it stripes...

P.S. Those of you who guessed that John is playing Far Cry are absolutely correct!

Presenting Purple Peanuts

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Salt Peanuts in Huntley

Woohoo! It's another finished sweater! I can't believe that I actually finished a heavy weight sweater before fall set in. I would have been doing a happy dance in this picture, but I was actually standing on the side of a hill and dancing combined with my poor balance would have resulted in me finding out whether Salt Peanuts added to my bouyancy or not. (If I was to have started to dance, it would have been to "It was a one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater.." which for some reason kept running through my head while I was doing the finishing work).

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Top: A Side Shot Bottom: Salt Peanuts Shapely Back

The color of the sweater is best represented in the top picture where I'm facing front. The others were affected by the fading afternoon sun. (Yes, only a crazy knitting blogger out shopping for luggage in a Huntley, IL outlet mall would actually pack a sweater and a camera "just in case" we didn't make it back to Chicago proper when it was still daylight. Amazingly enough, my husband plays along and has not yet decided that I am slowly slipping into insanity). The ribbon tie is a little piece of Giotto left over from another project, and it will be replaced when I find a suitably purple ribbon to replace it with.

On the overall, I am quite pleased with this sweater. It came together quickly, has a comfortable quality to it that reminds me of a well broken in sweatshirt, and it has a few body conscious elements that make it figure friendly as well -- or at least as figure friendly as you can be when you are working in a bulky yarn gauge. It assembled easily after I wove in the large number of ends that result from knitting with big yarn without a lot of yardage per ball. While the instructions for the fronts of this sweater gave me some frustration, the designer included a number of details that made it much easier to put together than it could have been. I really do love it when a designer includes knit selvedge stitches on edges when ribbing has to be seamed together. The same selvedge stitches were also created for those neck bands, and it made putting them together a breeze, too.

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Attaching the Neckband

Because of the way the lace neckline needs to fall, on this garment you actually do your mattress stitching with the wrong side facing,so the seam stitches are on the right side.

I also thought that the three needle bind-off used to join the two neck bands at the back was a clever touch -- and much easier than grafting.

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Salt Peanuts Neckline After Joining

The above pic is a better representation of the neckline finishing than the pic showing the back of the sweater. Since John and I were "on location" I didn't have the tools to make sure that everything was set correctly. Actually, one of the reason I like taking pictures of the sweater is so that I can see where the finishing didn't quite finish. In this case, it looks like I need to get out my steam iron and make sure that the collar lays flat. I also discovered that I need to flatten the inside seams of the right front sleeve. It doesn't stand out too much (but you can see it if you look) in any of the model shots, but it bulges a bit and takes away from the overall polish of the sweater.

What did I learn from this sweater?

  • Not all bulky yarns are the enemy if the design is architected correctly. And Veronik Avery is a good architect.
  • Yes, you can do simple lace in a bulky weight yarn. I think the open work ribbing in this sweater is very effective.
  • This is not a lightweight sweater. At 50g/ball and 15 balls (yes, the pattern yardage suggestions for the 37-1/4 size can be trusted, I had almost all of the 16th ball left, even after doing my swatch), that's about .75 kilos or 1.7 lbs (if I'm doing my conversions correctly). This could be a recipe for disaster if the tension had not been chosen correctly, but the yarn is knit at a very firm gauge and allows the sweater to support itself better.
  • Don't be afraid to leave my AddiTurbos in their packages. My Crystal Palace bamboo circulars were perfect with this yarn where a little grip contributed positively to keeping my stitches even and the yarn from slipping off my needles.
  • When dealing with knit-tube based yarns that can unravel, when cutting the ends, cut on a diagonal. It doesn't completely arrest the un-raveling, but it does impede the process.
  • And I've said it before, but it bears repeating... never underestimate the power of a simple selvedge stitch to make the seaming process more seamless.

In spite of the bulky yarn gauge, I wouldn't consider this a "beginner sweater", only because the instructions for the fronts require a relatively high degree of integration. You definitely have to read ahead. There are also a couple of (what I consider) to be mistakes in the pattern with regard to the instructions for the short rows and the placement of the short rows. But these could be interpretation problems on my part.

Of course, by finishing a bulky-weight wool sweater in early September, I am sure that I have commited the fall-knitting equivalent of washing my car on a sunny day -- I am guaranteeing that it will be tank-top weather until November. My apologies to all you fall, cold weather loving Chicagoans. At least now you know who to blame!

Presents from Poland

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My father-in-law recently returned from southern Poland (you can also find more interesting info about Poland here) where he was visiting family and friends. My husband and his family are from a small village in the Carpathian Mountains near Zakopane. John and his family are Goral or "Highlanders". John isn't terribly traditional, but being married to him has been an immersion into a whole host of interesting traditions and experiences.

What fascinates me the most, however, is the clothing and textiles that this primarily shepherding culture created for themselves.

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Doll in Traditional Dress and Shearling Slippers

The doll in the picture is wearing something similar to the traditional dress of Highlander girls and women. To get a look at the clothing the men and boys wear, you can see a few examples here and in this fabulous photo album of traditional clothing.

The wonderfully detailed capes and pants that the men wear and vests that are part of the women's outfits are all made of wool. A great deal of work by skilled craftspeople goes into the creation of these garments. According to my husband, a pair of the traditional pants can cost $400 -- even in Poland -- and they are a very special gift for an American Goral.

When I look at the women's vests, with their elaborate floral designs, I can't help but think that it would be interesting to come up with a felted version where the designs were created with intarsia. I've looked all over the place for charts of the designs or books that describe the designs and their symbolism, but I haven't come up with very much. John has asked around a bit for me, but no one has been able to point him to anything.

So I was wondering if anyone out there might know of any place that I could find patterns for these vests or designs -- or other traditional Polish garment designs -- charted or not. Polish charts and instructions are just fine, because John can translate for me if knowledge of Polish is required. Polish craft sites are great, too! I'm open to anything that might help me track down something useful.

P.S. Thanks for all the compliments on Salt Peanuts -- y'all are too kind! If anyone out there is doing/going to do this sweater and I can help you in any way, let me know. I'm happy to share any details that might help you along!

Metamorphosis

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Something about getting Salt Peanuts finished in such a relatively short period of time got me feeling intensely guilty about the fact that my Audrey sweater has been languishing in a heap on top of some books in a bookcase. That hardly seemed elegant or dignfied, so I have decided that I can't get started on Butterfly until I give Audrey a chance to have her own starring role.

I think my stumbling block with getting this sweater completed is that the front and the back are the same and you have to knit two sleeves. At some level, Audrey is like sleeve hell times two. And my attention span is a relatively short one, so knitting the exact same thing twice, two times in the same top just tends to leave me bored. But I think there's been a long enough gap now. I started knitting the second front/back piece on Sunday morning and I'm now 20 rows away from binding off.

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Audrey Transformation

I've been going back and forth on the "to block or not to block" question. Most of the time I think ribbing should be left alone to do it's own thing, but I decided to not leave well enough alone on this occasion, as you can see in the picture above.

Why? Well, to be frank, I wasn't pleased with the stitch conformation in the knit stitches next to purl stitches in the ribbing, and I feel that a good blocking will help ameliorate that problem. I also didn't think that it would be much of a treat to seam together the pieces if they were all as compressed as the piece I am currently working on. Finally, I am just curious to see how the Calmer blocks out. It has enough elasticity that I think that even with a little blocking the ribbing will be pretty stretchy.

And, I just like seeing the curvy lines of the ribbing when the piece is stretched out.

Early on after this sweater was published in Rowan #35, a lot of people seemed to think that the dart increases and decreases were unattractive, myself included. But after seeing a few of the sweaters get completed on the Audrey blog I became convinced that my first impressions might not have been the correct ones.

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Darts and Increases

I rather like what I see in the picture above. I now think that they are a neat design element instead of being unattractive and crude.

I am also enjoying my Calmer experience. Calmer thinks that my Denise needles are AddiTurbos. Hopefully this combination of speed and smoothness will help me power on through to project completion.

P.S. Check this out... it's an official Audrey Hepburn stamp issued by the US Postal Service. I think I am going to need to get some of these to send out labels to the Audrey finishers!

Man Acceptable Stripes

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A very short while ago, I showed you all this sweater:

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Fitzgerald in Silk Garden

I was pleasantly shocked at the time because John actually expressed an interest in it and suggested that he might actually like the whole stripe concept. For anyone just tuning in, I should remind you that John has an issue with stripes. Actually he usually has an issue with more than one color in any garment, and multicolor stripes usually send him off in the other direction shaking his head.

I really want to knit my boy a sweater that he likes, but to maintain my sanity during a man-sized mostly stockinette sweater knitting experience I also need to have a certain amount of entertainment. (John also has no itnerest in Arans or Ganseys).

Initially, I thought he liked the color way in the picture.

Well, Treese, it would be perfect, except for the blue stripes

John, I really just can't get rid of the blue stripes. Besides, the blue stripes are what make the rest of the sweater interesting.

That's fine, but I don't like them.

I thought you told me you liked the stripes.'

I do, just not the blue ones.

Sulk. Pout. Surf.

This launched me off into a weekend of scouring the Internet for any Noro colorway that might meet his needs. A number of Kureyon colorways were considered:

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Kureyon 51 (too much white), 55 (too brown, too white and too blue) and 116 (also too white)

And a few Silk Garden as well:

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Silk Garden 47 (definitely too brown), 86 (blue stripes -- this is the model color)

All were rejected. And I was feeling pretty dejected until I started browsing through Debbie Bliss Noro #2 and came across a sweater in Noro Shinano #9

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Just Perfect

I feel like I found this yarn just in the nick of time. I don't see it listed on Knitting Fever's site in the Noro section. Has Shinano been discontinued? Apparently it has the right balance of light and dark and lacks any colors that make statements on their own. It had the extra added benefit of being available on Wool NeedleWork. Even if it hadn't I would have tracked some down somewhere else -- I love him enough to seek out yarn for him from the farthest reaches of the planet or stalking Ebay for months. But getting a good deal makes the sweater just that much sweeter for John, my king of bargain shopping.

It's going to be a Noro kind of fall!

Almost Audrey

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Twins

Tonight we celebrated one whole year of Knitting in Public in Chicago with cake and other goodies at Letizia's. Three cheers for Bonne Marie who played hostess to our feast and made sure that there were door prizes to share. She even made sure that I took home some cheesecake for John. Cheesecake for dinner in our house? You bet!

I also got to finish off and bind off the second back/front piece for Audrey. I would have gotten started on the sleeve as well, except I forgot to bring the smaller needles that I needed to cast onto. Ah well, that just gave me more time to chat and catch up as our fun little group isn't so little any more.

And for anyone else who is thinking about knitting Fitzgerald, Pixie is holding a knitalong. I obviously won't be starting until my yarn arrives, but I'll definitely be joining her.

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Gina suggested a "Man A-long" -- and I'd love to start one, but there is already one of these going on. Check out the goings on at knit-o-rama for more info.

Renegade Biologist

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The Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in Chicago. Perfect weather for the Renegade Craft Fair. This is the second year for the fair. I didn't manage to get down to it last year, and I am glad I didn't miss it this time.

While it would have been fun all on its own, the time was made better by good company. Bonne Marie and Julie and I wandered through the booths and at various intervals ran into a host of other folks from out Thursday night knitting group. I even came face to face with a professor from grad school. Wicker Park has a way of drawing everyone in these days.

I was actually pretty low key when it came to purchasing things. I didn't really have any "have to find" items. But I did find a few things that caught my attention and "needed" to come home with me.

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Bracelets and Stationary

My favorite finds were the two bracelets. I'd been looking for something fun to wear around my wrist, and these two fit my mood perfectly. The multitude of multicolored stones reminded me of a bracelet that I loved but broke sometime back and can no longer wear. The metal rings spoke a little industrial, a little urban and will likely become one of those things that I wear all the time. And a girl can never have too much nifty stationary, especially when she has fun knit buds to trade with.

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Soap from Eudora Clare

I'm also a soft touch for things that smell good. This lovely soap vendor had the most delicious smells in her booth. I resisted the chocolate scented bath fizzies but came home with a sampling of soap in the earthy, spicy, citrusy range.

After the fair, I came home and found this waiting for me in the mail...

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How Long In Coming Was This?

It's official! I have my diploma and am completely finished with my computer science degree (we won't talk about when I started it... suffice it to say that it was well before I started blogging). I can now add a few more letters to my CV. Happy dancing all around! Perhaps, since I finished all the main knitting for Audrey over the weekend, I will swatch for Butterfly to celebrate!

Can I Get Some Lace With That?

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Warning: gratuitous display of bra straps ahead. To anyone who is disturbed by the suggestion of white lingerie and even pastier white skin I apologize heartily. I promise the Keyboard Biologist will be bra strap free tomorrow.

I finished seaming Audrey tonight. Let me just say that I did not really enjoy the process of seaming up a lot of reverse stockinette edges, but with perserverence I was able to bring the main body of Audrey together. I always enjoy watching seams create the structure of a garment, and Audrey was even more rewarding than most, as seaming accentuated her curves.

(As an aside...Before I started seaming I took a look back through the Audrey blog to see how others had done it. That led me back to the blog entry of a certain dancing rabbit and her Flashdance references. For the entire time I was seaming up this garment I had "She's a maniac..." going through my head over and over. (Keyboard Biologist trivia for the day: the first R rated movie I ever went to was Flashdance -- my mother took me, ostensibly so that we could see the dancing. I thought I had a very cool mom). What is it about 80's music that makes the stuff so easy to lodge in ones brain? It's probably a good thing she didn't mention "My Sharona"...)

Normally I wait until the sweater is finished before a try on session. But I just couldn't resist seeing what she felt like on.

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Audrey Topless

Wow, is Calmer nice to wear! So incredibly soft and nice to have next to my skin. And so far, I think Audrey fits well, too. John thought at first that the sweater was actually finished. He's apparently so used to unwoven in ends that the ones hanging down didn't phase him at all. He almost looked disappointed when I told him that there would be a lace band around the top.

I wonder how many lace repeats I can get done in the dark while watching John play Far Cry... and humming the theme to Flashdance.

Laced Up

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A bit of a two part post today. First the progress, then the public service announcement.

I completed the lace neckband for Audrey. 19 intervals of stretchy garter stitch lace. Gotta say that I didn't really get off on knitting this stuff. It wasn't that hard, but it wasn't that easy to remember, either and I never really memorized the chart (April actually created a very helpful chart and shared it on the Audrey blog). I almost put it down a couple of times, but reminded myself that it would be a shame to stop this close to the finish line.

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A Lace Band for Audrey -- 19 Repeats

Since that long stretched out piece doesn't give you a good sense for what the lace actually looks like, here's a photo from a little closer perspective.

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Audrey Lace Up Close

I'm all patienced out for the evening. So attaching the lace to the body of the sweater will have to happen tomorrow.

The public service announcement of this post has to do with machine washing and drying my Phil Ruban swatch in anticipation of doing the same to the top I made out of Phil Ruban.

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Washed and Dressed Phil Ruban Swatch

Over all, the washing and drying process doesn't have much of a negative impact on the look of the swatch. The swatch did, however, undergo some shrinkag. The original swatch was 20 stitches and 27 rows to 4", the washed swatch is 21 stitches and 30 rows to 4" (in other words, what used to be 4" x 4" is now 3-3/4" x 3-1/2" (most of the shrinkage was in the vertical direction. So if you're planning on working with this yarn, I'd recommend doing the same experiment -- it's definitely not shrink resistant.

Time Out for Audrey

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I was hoping to post something about attaching the lace band to the body of Audrey. However, Audrey and I are not on speaking terms right at the moment. After spending several hours trying to figure out how to join the lace to the top and do this in a way that looked acceptable to me I decided to give up for a while. I spent a lot of time looking at the pictures in the Rowan magazine, looking and the successful sweaters on the Audrey blog, trying to understand the right balance of lace repeats and just how much the lace should be stretched and combining that with attaching the lace to the body in a tidy fashion.

And nothing worked the way I wanted it to.

I am actually considering re-knitting the lace and attaching it to the body of Audrey as I go. But I am not yet ready to tackle that yet, so Audrey has been put aside while I consider the best course.

In the meantime, I decided to move up a couple of needle sizes and get started on Butterfly. Even though I have a pretty good feel for how Kureyon knits up, I decided to be a good little knitter and swatch, just to make sure. Soaking the swatch in water and letting it dry did have the effect of loosening it up just a bit and softening up the Kureyon quite a lot.

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The Swatch and the Start

So far, the chevron pattern is a nice balance of interesting and mindless. I can actually work on it and watch John's jungle mercenary progress.

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Butterfly Chevron Detail

I'm enjoying the color progression of the Kureyon a lot. Amazing how a simple texture pattern can change the whole character of the yarn. I've been wondering how this pattern might work in socks with a striping sock yarn. Could be kind of interesting, I think!

Group Therapy

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Thanks to all the helpful comments I received yesterday, Audrey and I were able to start to work out our differences. Using Becky's suggestion that I divide the lace units proportionally over the various parts of the sweater, I was able to get things matched up where they needed to be.

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Audrey in Waiting

The jury is still out on the seaming, which is why there are no closeups yet. And there are no modeling shots because I decided to try to block the lace a little bit -- when I tried it on, I found the lace rolled in an unflattering manner. So we'll be in therapy for a week or so longer...

Why a week? Well, I've got to take a little business trip that's going to take me away from my usual computer keyboard for all of next week. I wish I could bring Audrey, but my luggage room is limited. I'll be taking a couple of lace scarf projects to work on since they should be small and easy to work on as well as light weight.

I'm hoping that I will have some internet connectivity, but it is still hard for me to predict right now.

Where am I going? Well, in the spirit of Carmen Sandiego, I'm not going to say. But I will be taking my camera and if I can get to an internet connection I'll be posting photos (if not, I'll post photos when I get back). To whomever can guess the most locations will go a fabulous prize. Well, okay, not like Oprah giving away cars fabulous, but definitely something nice.

P.S. I know there are some people out there who already have some clues about what direction I am travelling in. You can play along, too, but I might require more specific answers...

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