December 2004 Archives

Another Little Scarf

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If you want a quick and simple but lovely project for a Saturday afternoon, the Bow-knot Scarf is a good pick.

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Bow-knot in Tahoe
This is one of the few patterns that I have ever worked more than once (the others being a simple Eros scarf and my standard sock pattern -- I guess the moral of the story is that anything I do more than once needs to be mostly mindless knitting). It's a nice pattern, geared for a worsted weight yarn, but it's simple enough that it can be adjusted without too much difficulty so that almost any weight yarn could be an option. I think it's also one of those patterns that even a very beginning knitter can achieve great results with, given that it's almost entirely worked in garter stitch.

This project was worked on US size 7 needles (4.5 mm) with Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Tahoe (left over from Clapotis). I think, without a doubt, that one skein of Lion and Lamb could yield two of these lovely little neck warmers. The last one of these that I made took just under one skein of Silk Garden.

Because this little scarf goes easily into the opening of almost any jacket, is light and soft and very skin friendly, it's a good bet that I will probably actually wear it more often than I wear Clapotis. And it's also a good bet that I will probably make another one. I just need to find some more delicious yarn to work with!

Not Quite a Capelet

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I was excited before I left for Texas because I knew when I got back to Chicago there would be one more skein of Goddess Phoebe waiting for me (one more than required by the pattern) -- and I was anticipating finishing it up and having a lovely alpaca garment to add to my winter sweater collection.

10 skeins of of Phoebe got me this far:

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Goddess Capelet Minus one Shoulder Panel

It looks more complete than it is -- but actually I am one shoulder panel short of being able to get this garment finished. Fortunately, my second call to Ruhama's resulted in another skein of Phoebe in the correct dye lot.

There's one very special feature of this garment. I love the basketweave panel in the center. So much so that I figured I needed to post a close up. The alpaca worked surprisingly well in the cabling department.

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Capelet Detail

That last skein arrived today, so I am very psyched to get this project finished. Hopefully I won't need anymore emergency calls to Ruhamas...

Paddling Out to Sleeve Island

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I'm afraid I don't have much to show for myself this evening. Work kept me away from KIP-ing and a husband who wanted to actually turn out the lights while we watched some of our favorite TV shows kept me from seaming up the capelet. To be fair, watching TV does involve his home theatre, a projector and a very nice screen, and he has installed some smaller lights so that I can knit and watch while he enjoys his audio-visual experience to the fullest. But it does limit what I can get done.

Fortunately, the sleeves of Fitzgerald (actually, any part of Fitzgerald) don't require much light or much thought and are a good project for a darkened room.

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Fitzgerald Sleeve #1

Gotta love sleeves for a manly sweater. You can knit and knit and knit and knit and still feel like you will be knitting sleeves forever. Fortunately, I've only got three or four inches to go on this one. A good thing, since there are only very few days of the year that it gets cold enough for John to actually want to wear a sweater, so I need to get cracking if I want to see him in it once or twice before spring.

Besides... John is telling me that he wants a pair of socks out of some very interesting yarn he was reading about. Who needs a bulletproof vest when you can have bulletproof foot protection!

Shimmering Beginnings

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Just because I am still utterly in love with the look of this yarn, I have to post a daylight beauty shot of it all stretched out on my back balcony.

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Shimmer Sunning

Unfortunately, not all that is beautiful is easy to knit with. So much so, that for a while I considered not knitting anything and just wearing it a la Mr. T.

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Fortunately, It Weighs Less and is More Insulating than Gold Jewelry

The hubster did't think that it was quite the right look for me, so I went back to trying to get it knit into a garment. It took me several attempts just to get gauge.

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Bulky is as Bulky Does: 7.5 stiches and 9 rows to 4"

That tree trunk that the swatch is still attached to is a 15 mm (US 19) needle. I actually had to invest in some new knitting needles (I know, how tragic for me!) just to swatch since the 12 mm Addis just didn't get me where I needed to go. But I'm quite fond of the needles I found -- Lantern Moon needles in palmwood. Very slick and a nice sharp point for a big needle.

There were a few other things that made this yarn a little challenging for me to work with. For one, I like to loop the yarn around my pinky before it goes to my left hand fore-finger. This yarn is big and slubby, so it just kept getting caught on my pinky, so that slowed me down a lot and didn't do much for keeping my tension even. Eliminating the pinky wrap worked much better.

For another, the slubbyness of the yarn means that it doesn't always slip through the loops evenly when I knit it. And sometimes it got "stuck" and created bigger loops than I would have liked, making it so that I have to tug a little bit on each stitch.

Also, in spite of the instructions for the yarn, I just have no idea how I could work from two balls and carry yarn up one side without creating an incredibly bulky seam, so I'm doing just one ball at a time (of course, I had to knit up a goodly part of the back before realizing the problem).

Since I was already on Sleeve Island with the sleeves from Fitzgerald, I decided to order myself up another fruity tropical drink and work the sleeves for Margot. After a lot of soul searching, I decided that a shaped cardigan would probably end up being a much better choice than an unshaped tunic (can you believe that this sweater actually has short-row shaping in the front panels?). As a cardigan, it will probably also get a little more wear and thus I will get a lot more enjoyment out of snuggling up in it.

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Margot's Sleeves

Because of the big yarn and the big needles, I hadn't even finished my fruity island beverage by the time I had both sleeves finished. I couldn't easily tell from the photograph in the book, and it's hard to tell here as well, but Margot has slightly ruffly bell sleeves. How cool is that?

The back is next (since some of the instructions for the fronts are made relative to the back. While I'm looking forward to the sweater, I'm not really looking forward to holding the weight of the piece on the needles. I thought I could just power my way through this sweater, but the weight and the fact that I am working with straight needles means that my wrists and elbows are getting quite a work out, and I need to rest them more than usual. So I'll be alternating between Margot and Fitzgerald this week during my knitting time.

Completed Capelet

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I was seaming like mad on Saturday in hopes of getting my capelet complete for the week. By Saturday afternoon it was all put together. I put it on and raced to a mirror.

And was terribly disappointed.

Why?

Big. The capelet was just too big. The nice woven motif hung down around the area of my navel when the capelet was situated evenly on my shoulders. So you don't get a victory shot. But I will show the finished product. Unfortunately, the picture leaves a little something to be desired. Gotta love grey fall/winter weather in Chicago. Believe it or not, this was probably the brightest space in my house this morning.

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Goddess Capelet Completed

I think the biggest part of my disappointment, however, was not really that the garment was too big, but because I should have seen it coming. The garment is not too big because my gauge was off, or because I mismeasured things. Believe me, I checked those things many times. No, the garment turned out too big because of wishful thinking and because I didn't listen to my own instincts.

I should have done the math and realized that even the small was going to be too big for my body shape and size. Why didn't I? Well, it was the picture in the advertisement. That woman didn't look large, so I figured that a small would be find for me. Definitely not good logic. I had really thought that I had gotten beyond being bowled over by a picture, but apparently not.

But even if she doesn't fit me, she's still a lovely garment, and I'd just hate to have to go on a ripping expedition. About a year ago, I started working on a Charlotte's Web shawl -- a garment that I had intended for my mom, but which after I got it knit up, I decided I couldn't part with. As I look at this capelet that doesn't want to be from me, I'm wondering if it was really meant to be for Mom.

What did I learn?

  • Even if a pattern doesn't come with a schematic, it pays to make one and consider it in the context of my own measurements.
  • Bulky alpaca is wonderful, but it would be more wonderful at a slightly tighter gauge. Alpaca has no elasticity and almost no memory. Gravity can take a significant toll.
  • Stay away from a three needle bind-off for bulky alpaca -- for the same reasons listed above. It's not a good seam to support a heavy weight garment that hangs from the shoulder.
  • Don't trust a picture. I could have taken a picture for you of this capelet that would have made it look perfect just by hiking it up and letting an uneven amount of the garment fall behind my back.

This pattern has a few problems, they aren't insurmountable, but anyone interested in it should probably be aware that you will need to make a few small changes to the short-row shaping in order for them to work correctly. Also, my copy of the pattern completely lacked instructions for the right side neckline shaping. It's not so hard to reverse the instructions, but you do have to spend a little time thinking about it.

Sorry if this sounds a little distracted, there was a major fire in a downtown high-rise in Chicago and I've been watching the coverage all evening. Scary.

A Second Set of Sleeves

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Shhhh! Be very quiet... I'm trying to quietly sneak away from Sleeve Island. I've packed my knitting bag and have slipped it into the little boat that I tied up under the dock. As soon as it gets dark I'm planning to make my escape.

I'm making my get away with not one, but two, whole pairs of sleeves tucked into my knitting bag. Margot and Fitzgerald are ready to meet me on the mainland.

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Almost Perfect Fitzgerald Sleeve

I just gotta say, I am truly impresed with how the striping matched up. I spent about 15 minutes pain-stakingly picking out just the right skeins to do the sleeves with so they would match up just right and be oerfect for my stripe-perfection demanding husband.

Everytime he sat down next to me as I was working on the second sleeve I would line the two pieces up and say "See? See how incredibly matched up and beautiful those are? This, my friend, is true love!"

John responded by telling me, with a sneaky little grin, "Yeah, they look great -- people might even think that I bought it at the store."

Yes, he did duck and move quickly after he said that.

That said, I do have some concern about the length of these sleeves, but since the sweater has a dropped shoulder, I'm probably getting concerned over nothing (I'm not concerned about not having enough yarn, so I have to worry about something).

What next? Not sure. It has just occurred to me that I have a few Christmas presents that need to be attended to, given that there's really only 18 knitting days until the big holiday arrives...

On Blossom Street

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This was going to be a picture-less entry with a short review of The Shop on Blossom Street that I finished over the weekend. But I arrived home this evening to find a package from the UK on my doorstep. Because I love treats that come from Wales, I thought I'd brighten up this post with a picture of the surprise I got from Marie:

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Colinette Skye in Turquoise

These bright and beautiful colors (not as well rendered by my camera as I might like) were a special treat on a grey and not-so-great work day. (Thanks, Marie! You had excellent timing!) In fact, in this colorway, the Skye makes me think of Koigu on steroids. I'm beginning to have quite a lovely stash of Skye in my closet, soon I am going to have to come up with something creative to do with it.

We now return to my regularly scheduled blog post: The Shop on Blossom Street, by Debbie Macomber

This book was a pass-along from my mother, who picked it up for light reading and because she was curious about the knitting content. The story centers around a woman who has battled cancer setting up a yarn store and getting to know three other women as a result of the first class she offers.

As you might imagine, our cancer survivor and the three other women all come from different socio-economic backgrounds, all have issues in their lives that they are trying to work out (most of which revolve around men and family) and, in spite of their differences, all become friends and work through some of their problems together. By the end of the book everyone has pretty much made it through their difficulties (that shouldn't really spoil it for anyone as similar things are more or less said in the front leaf description of the book). Ah, better human relationships as the result of yarn and knitting!

While the characters are relatively well fleshed out, and it's easy to understand what motivates their problems and struggles, all of them conform to their stereotypes a little too well, and I found it hard to get too deeply engaged by any of them. I kept reading because I was hoping there might be some surprises that effected real character development, but that never really comes. Although there are a few bumps and false starts along the way, the book comes to the end with everyone getting a happy ending.

There are some nice references to current knitting community events, such as the Linus project, but otherwise, knitting related content is limited to the mention of a yarn purchase here or there or the peace and joy found in owning a yarn store. This is probably a good thing, since long-winded technical discussion of fixing knitting mistakes probably wouldn't make for a very enjoyable novel experience.

This book is a great light read for when you are looking for a little brain candy. It was a perfect "right before bed" book to help me relax before I turned out the lights, and would be a perfect read for when you need a little more happy ending in your life.

A is for Angora

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I've put aside my sweater knitting for a little while to get another Christmas taken care of. When I was in Maryland last spring, I found a lovely Merino/Angora blend in a lovely subtle colorway that I thought would be perfect for my sister-in-law. She had made nice comments about one of the Lorna's Laces Angel scarves that I made last year, and I decided that if I could find something in the blues and greens and purples that she liked, that I would make her an Angora scarf for the next Christmas.

It seems like every time I tackle a variagated yarn on my own, it takes me a while to find the right stitch to make it happy. This experience was no different. I wanted something that would be trendy, but not so trendy as to be something that she wouldn't want to see next year. I tried a drop stitch, purse stitch, and a variety of widths. None of them did it for me.

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Tess Designer Yarns Merino and Angora

I settled on a a mistake rib stitch, not too narrow, not too wide. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get at least 6' of scarf, and my sister-in-law will be able to wrap it around her neck a few times. I think the pooling worked out well at the width I chose. I love the way the dark purple and green are pooling in a zig zag fashion.

This yarn is really lovely to work with, although it does seem to be shedding a little bit. I think the merino/angora blend of this yarn is actually a little softer than the lamb's wool/angora blend in Angel. Makes me wish that I'd gotten a little bit for myself, as well. Good thing I have something special coming soon that I can used to add to my own scarf collection with.

Thoughts on a Shimmer 5 Sweater

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The Last Pieces of Margot
Is the Right Front Blushing?

This weekend was all about knitting and shopping and X-box games. John and I made progress in our trek through Baldur's Gate, Dark Alliance II, Julie and I did some damage at Oak Brook Mall, and I made some reasonable progress on Margot. Now all the pieces are knit up and all that remains is to get this bad girl seamed up.

I have to admit, though, I am feeling a little hesitant. I was more or less comfortable with the differences between the back and the left front, but the jury is still out on the differences between the left front and the right front. The right front skein definitely had more pink in it.

After knitting the better part of this project, I still have one whole skein of Shimmer 5 left (shown at the top of the picture). And knitting the front pieces really isn't that time consuming. So now I am trying to decide whether I should rip back on the front right to where I started a new ball (just above the waist shaping) and re-knit with the yarn from the remaining skein, or just roll with it the way it is, knowing that there is really no way to make the color look more even without knitting this sweater from alternating skeins (which I opted not to do because of the bulk of the yarn).

Once I've figured that out, I'll have one more decision left to make: to crochet around the front edges of the garmet or not. I was actually able to find a 15 mm crochet hook (Lion Brand mondo plastic thing) to do the job with, but I have no idea whether that's the right size to choose or not. Should one usually match needle and crochet hook sizes when both fabric construction methods are used?

So many questions. Who would have thought that a bulky sweater could be so thought provoking!

A Short Swatching Interlude

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Ribbie Swatch

I know, not terribly interesting as blog subjects go, but I love the denimy color of the medium indigo heather Peruvian Highland Wool that I bought to make my single color ChicKnits Ribby Cardie.

The goal with this sweater was to pick a color that I love and know I would wear and pair the color with a sweater design that I also love and would wear. My hope is that, when combining these two, I will get something that I will both love and wear -- and can wear for every day.

This swatch does present something of a mystery for me. I'm definitely getting 6 rows to the inch, and somewhere between 9 to 9.5 stitches/two inches (it's supposed to be 4.75 stitches/inch) but 19 stiches comes closer to 4.5 inches wide. Yes, I know all my measurements can't quite be right. But I measured each dimension several times and I get the same strange results. So the only thing I can conclude is that Claudia is right: swatches lie.

I think it is also a sign of a strange phenomenon in my life right now: I'm becoming a looser knitter. I actually have to think about knitting more tightly. In this case, since my row gauge appears to be good, and the fabric density feels right, so I'm going to go with what I've got and try to knit just a little tighter. I've got enough yarn to do one size larger than I was planning on doing, and it is a ribbed sweater, so even if it's a little bigger than planned width wise, it should still be fine.

Scarfy

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Scarfy Possibilities
Top Center: Lion and Lamb in Pewter, (moving clockwise) Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk, Lang Tonga (in red and green), Plymouth 24K, Angel, a Strange Baby Yarn from Filatura di Crossa and a laceweight merino from Emma

I can't say that I've been on a yarn diet this fall. I wish I had the resolve of Monica and Lynette and their no yarn buying agreement. Instead, I've tried to limit myself to small portions. Since I have a pretty impressive sock yarn stash, it seemed reasonable to buy yarn for scarves.

I've gotten a lot more interested in scarves lately because of a wonderful book,

While I am normally skeptical of scarf books, this one goes beyond garter stitch into some wonderful and creative patterns. There are at least 4 or 5 that I want to try. If you don't have this book already, it's definitely worth putting on your holiday wish list. The Lion and Lamb is meant for the wonderful curly scarf pattern. I think the pewter color will make for a metallic shimmery scarf. The Angel (also in pewter) is meant for a simple K2P2 ribbed scarf for John. Both of these yarns arrived from ThreadBear in Michigan. (And the Angel has been man-approved by the man who will be getting the scarf).

The Lang Tonga came from a new yarn shop in Chicago -- Nina's. I now have a yarn store that is truly in my hood. Not only that, but I think she has the broadest selection of knitting needles around: Mango Moon, Crystal Palace, Bryspun, Skacel and Clover (I think she may have additional varieties as well, but those are the ones I am remembering). She also has a very nice, very hip selection of yarns, including Rowan, Manos, Lang aand Lorna's Laces. I'd never had the opportunity to see yarns from Habu Textiles before, and I'm trying to figure out an excuse to go back and buy some. The red Tonga is being worked up into my favorite ladder yarn scarf pattern and the green will likely be used for the same purpose. (For those of you who might need a quick holiday gift for someone, I've given away several of these scarves and they never fail to please. Not only that, but even the guys where I work comment on the one I made for myself. It may be a little on the flashy trashy side, but it still knits up into something that people love.)

The Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk sort of jumped into my basket when I was at Knitting Workshop not too long ago. Is this stuff soft, or what? I'm thinking it needs to become some sort of keyhole scarf. Perhaps this one? And the Funky Baby Yarn that I think is a Filatura offering (I'm too lazy to run upstairs and find the ball band) is going to be something for my 18 month old niece. This yarn is strange stuff -- imagine Rowan Calmer with some strange poofy tufty things attached. Not quite sure what kind of pattern I'm going to use... something that will both lie flat and show off the poofy bits. I saw a shop model using the Plymouth 24K yarn knit up into a skinny scarf using Purse stitch and decided that it would be a fun touch for my wardrobe. It's a ribbon style yarn with a gold fiber wrapped around to add sparkle. And best of all, it's only $10/skein, which makes it a very affordable wardrobe addition as well.

And last, but certainly not least, that purply lace weight merino (which I am also unable to identify absolutely correctly because of the distance between my couch and the yarn band), something I got trading with Emma. It's destined to be a lovely lacy scarf that I can wear to dress up with or just add a touch of color to a standard work outfit. I never really thought of myself as a lace girl before, but more and more I find myself wanting to use it as an accent. And I enjoy having one project with a reasonable amount of complexity in my ongoing project collection.

So I've shown you mine, now you tell me about yours! Got a favorite scarf yarn or scarf pattern? I'd love to hear about it. It's definitely the time of the year when a scarf can be an easy to make and much appreciated gift, either to yourself or to someone else.

A Few Things About Me

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I don't have time to get through 100 things tonight, but here's the first 10:

  1. I was born in the last year that the Beatles were still together. All while I was in grade school I can remember my parents playing the Abbey Road and Hey Jude albums. At one point in time I could sing most of the songs from these albums from memory.
  2. When I was 6 months old, my parents got me up out of bed early so that I could watch Niel Armstrong walk on the moon. They knew I wouldn't remember it, but they thought I should be there to watch it.
  3. When I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer, an astronomer and finally a biologist. I got hooked by immunology during my senior year in high school when I read a National Geographic article "The Wars Within" which described the role of the immune system in HIV infection.
  4. I only spent one year in public school -- kindergarden. All the rest of my schooling has been in private institutions.
  5. I've only lived in four different places in my life: Buffalo, NY, Ann Arbor, MI, San Antonio, TX and Chicago,IL. But while in Chicago, I've moved 5 times. Three of those moves were within Hyde Park.
  6. I currently live in a house I don't want to leave -- a 4 bedroom house in the city. I love my house. Even though it's not new to us any more, I will still walk around my house and tell my husband how much I love it.
  7. I almost married the wrong man. But that experience helped me recognize when I met the right one.
  8. My husband and I met through an Internet personals site. For a long time I thought he was too good to be true.
  9. I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing in an obsessive compulsive manner.
  10. I was introduced to computers by my father who bought an Apple II+ when I was 12. I have been infatuated with them ever since.

The First Gift of the Christmas Season

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Tess Designer Yarns Merino/Angora Blend Mistake-Stitch Rib Scarf

I thought this scarf deserved a daylight shot. This scarf is made in a 50/50 merino/angora blend dyed "Lime Splash" by Tess Designer Yarns. The scarf, in mistake stitch rib, is about 2.5" wide and a little over 6 foot long. For the first time in the history of my knitting, I am considering blocking a scarf, just to get everything to line up and be perfect when it comes out of its box for my sister-in-law.

I am thinking that I may need one of my own... but maybe instead of merino and angora mine will be out of some of Axelle's beautifully hand-dyed cashmere.

And in answer to some of the questions left in my comments yesterday -- yep, I am a U of Chicago grad. I was there from 91-97. And Buffalo? Most definitely. I was born there, and lived there until I was four. And is #9 really true? Oh yes, it most definitely is! We met in 1996 and were married in 1998. I know a good deal when I see one!

Margot Approaches Completion

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Margo, Assembled

It was a happy weekend filled with John and my usual last-minute shopping efforts and a holiday party at a friends house and liberal dose of X-box game playing. Not so much knitting occurred, but I did get Margot seamed up. Margot is definitely going to need some edging around the front opening and neckline and perhaps even a button or a clasp before she will begin to be what I want her to be.

(It should probably be noted here that I decided not to rip the front panel that I thought looked more pink. My reasoning for this was two fold: 1) the panel as is now has a homogeneous kind of color, and the ball that I added to finish the panel started somewhere in the middle. The skein I have left over is likely to look very different, especially if started in the middle, and it takes a little more than one skein to complete the front panel 2) the garment hangs at an angle with me in the middle, when I actually put it on after it was seamed up, I didn't even notice the difference on each side. Thus I decided that discretion was the better part of valor here and no ripping and re-knitting was attempted).

I've left all the ends from the seaming of the sleeves and sides un-woven in. There's a nagging little doubt in the back of my mind that says I might have to re-work some aspect of them and having to deal with un-weaving ends would just make the process more difficult. When I tried the sweater on last night, it was a little tighter in the arm-hole/shoulder area than I would have liked. I know better than to completely judge a garment before all the trim/structural elements have been added (and a crochet edging will definitely add structure). But I also have a feeling that the bind off edge of the sleeve caps may have been too tight and that I am going to need to re-bind off while thinking very sloppy loose thoughts.

Spectacular Socks

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Beautiful Swap Socks from Stephanie

Are these not beautiful? These gorgeous socks come from Stephanie in Belgium as a result of a sock swap I took part in. I'm in love! I don't know how she knew that I was dying to get my hands on some of this yarn (I've seen other color variants around the knitting blog ring, but no one seemed to remember where they got it from), but she certainly picked the perfect colorway. (In real life they don't come across as quite so green...they have a more rich autumnal color quality). They fit incredibly well and are nice against the skin. In fact, I haven't taken them off since the photo shoot. It was just a little bit of luck that they would show up on one of the coldest days we've had so far this winter.

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Extra Goodies for Christmas

She also packed a few extra goodies into the package for me. A lovely black/brown marl sock yarn which will make a very sophisticated pair of socks and a very cool magazine with all sorts of great holiday craft ideas. I'm definitely going to have to dust off my French-English dictionary for this one.

Thank you, Stephanie for the wonderful socks and for making my day a little brighter!

A Few More Things About Me

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All that was seamed is in pieces again. The addition of a single-crochet edging didn't do Margot any favors in the armhole department, so I took her completely apart and re-bound off the tops of the sleeve caps using the 15 mm needle held together with another large diameter needle in order to get a looser bound off edge. I've gotten one side of the sweater re-seamed, and the seaming looks neater than before, so at least I am making progress in the right direction.

Today was a milestone day for me -- not only did I get a haircut after about 2 years of "letting it grow out" (read: too lazy to make a hair appointment, not satisfied with any hair stylist I could find and in denial about my hair and what I was willing to spend time doing to it) but I think I have finally found a hair dresser that I can live with. This appointment got rid of the shaggy tendrils in the back. The next appointment will include not only a re-shaping but (gasp) highlighting. If you want to see the "new look" you can click here. (Whether I can re-create it on a day-to-day basis is anyone's guess).

So, since this was one of those "all about me" days, I'll close with a few more additions to my "100 things" list.

  1. I was raised Catholic, but don't practice anything in particular now if I can avoid it. I do feel I have strong values, however. I believe in treating people with respect and trying to do my best to make the planet a better place
  2. I am definitely in my middle-thirties, but often regarded to be in my twenties. I consider this a mixed blessing.
  3. Unlike most women, I am congenitally incapable of using a blow drier or a curling iron in any effective manner. This could be laziness or a lack of co-ordination or both.
  4. I was introduced to knitting by a dear friend during graduate school. She believed that anyone could knit anything. She taught me to knit Continental and my first completed sweater was Grapevine from Alice Starmore's "Stillwater".
  5. I currently have three cats, all boys. The first two were littermates that I adopted just before I met John. One of them, Sydney, got his name because of an Internet "penpal" I had who was from Australia.
  6. I played my fair share of Dungeons and Dragons in grade school. I have a continuing love-affair with computer roll playing games. When given the opportunity to choose, I almost always play a magic user.
  7. I learned to read when I was three years old and I haven't stopped reading since. My favorite genre used to be science fiction or fantasy (lots and lots of fantasy), but now I find myself drawn more to the history of science and mysteries/suspense/thrillers. And knitting books.
  8. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that I am very much a geek girl.
  9. All the men in my immediate family are engineers, and they are all different flavors: my father is an aerospace/automotive engineer, my brother is a chemical engineer, my husband is a software engineer and my brother-in-law is a mechanical engineer.
  10. I consider my career in biology, computers and management to be the natural result of crossing an engineer with a speech, literature and drama major.

When I started blogging I had no idea that I would get to meet, trade, share tips with and come to be friends with so many people all around the world. A little project that started out to just be a journal of my knitting progress has come to have a much more significant role in my life. So while I am most definitely saying thank you to Emma who sent me the lovelies below, I also want to take a moment to say thank you everyone who has become a part of my life because of this blog. (As an aside, I am way way behind on my blog-emailing, so if you are expecting a response from me... be patient, I need to get into my holiday vacation zone).

Emma, my most long-term trading buddy (can you believe it's been almost 2 years now?) sent me a little something in the mail. I subscribe to the notion that you can never be too rich, have too many friends or have too much Colinette in your stash. What a fabulous set of treasures.

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A Little Winter Festival from Emma

The Silky Chic (in Raphael) has to be petted to be believed when it comes to softness. Absolutely wonderful it is. And it couldn't have come at a better time! I won't show any pictures of my neck, but lately I've been having a lot of irritation that I think could be do to some kind of wool/fiber sensitivity, so I'm trying to stick with cottons or synthetics for a little while as I test out my theory. These two skeins are destined, I think, to be a lovely, and soothing scarf.

The stitch markers on the right of the photo are far too lovely not to have their own close-up.

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So Pretty They Deserve a Close Up

Just like candy they are!

But perhaps the most dangerous thing that came across the ocean is the Colinette Wayfarer book that has this zip-front cardigan on the cover:

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Does my Shimmer 5 Really Want to Be Cerys instead of Margot?

It takes the same number of skeins as Margot does... and I have this nagging feeling that because of Margot's neck line, she is never really going to be the sweater I want her to be. Am I just chasing after another pretty, but unattainable face with Cerys? This cardigan is also shaped at the waist.

Decisions... decisions...

P.S. to Emma... Sometime, when you least expect it (even I don't know when) you might get a little something on your doorstep, too!

Knitted Mark of Zorro

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Now, I do think it is likely that if Zorro were to knit, he would probably not knit for children and he would certainly not knit with pastel blue funky baby novelty yarn. Nonetheless, I present the second knitted gift I've made for the holiday (there will be a third gift, but I don't need it until after the holidays are over):

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Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon Scarf

This little scarf is almost exactly 36" (I think that will be perfect for the 18 month-old that it's for and maybe give her another year or two) and is just over 3" wide. It's made out of Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon, color 12 (which I mentioned briefly here) -- a very funky novelty yarn with tufts at regular intervals. It's 100% polyamide and machine washable, so even though it has an impractical looking texture, I think it should still be a mother-friendly gift to give a child.

The pattern is a very simple one:

Cast on 14 stitches on US 10 needles.

Knit 2 rows
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row

Repeat this unit until you have enough yarn left to knit 2 more rows and bind off... then knit 2 more rows and bind-off knitwise. Basically, you are alternating 2 rows of garter stitch with 4 rows of stockinette -- a pattern I chose so that I could minimize any curling that the stockinette wanted to do. In a wool yarn, I probably would have needed more garter stitch, but in this yarn, which doesn't move much from where you put it, the garter stitch balance is fine.

Up close, the texture looks like this:

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Bon Bon Scarf Up Close

You can see the garter stitch ridges framing an interval of stockinette. I chose not to do all garter stitch A) because I wanted as long a scarf as possible out of 99 yards and B) because I think the tufty things come out better on stockinette.

While I am not going to run out and buy any more of this yarn (it's not a real blast to knit with for the same reason that it makes a neat texture) I do like the fact that the tufty bits make it so that both the "right" side and the "wrong" side of the scarf look more or less the same or are at least equally nice to look at.

Chuckle... I just have to add an aside here that I think it is a testament to my wordiness that I can create so much hypertext about a simple scarf for a baby

And on an unrelated note... a front view of "Cerys" the purple Point 5 sweater for Claudia:

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Cerys From the Front

Not the best picture, but the only other picture they provide. Looking at the pattern, I think the shaping is almost the same as Margot's, there's just a few places that the sweaters differ (neckline, cuffs, zipper and bottom edging). I do think it's the sweater that my Shimmer 5 was meant to be though. Much ripping will ensue as soon as I have the chance to get back to what will only briefly be Margot. Looks like I am going to get my money's worth out of those 15 mm tree trunks that I bought!

I almost forgot! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it this weekend, and for the rest of you, a peaceful and happy weekend!

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