Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Holidays

I'm quite certain that all seven every one of my regular readers is already well-acquainted with the Yarn Harlot, but on the off chance that you've landed here on a google search gone awry, please check out this post. Dontcha just wish you could vote for Stephanie for President???

There's been a knitting funk and an impending-holiday angst happening around here lately, and there's about to be a trip Down South to keep me from this here blog, but I'll be back. I look forward to being refreshed and maybe even ready to show off some finished items or yarn purchases or promising swatches early in 2007.

Best wishes to all for a Joyous Holiday and Healthy New Year!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Patent Pending

This was all Toby's idea. He wanted a hat with a secret pocket, kept hidden by a giant pom-pom. I didn't get it completely right, but it's right enough and he's being terribly gracious about it. I'd like to say I'll do better next time, but there will not be a next time for this hat. First off, it's the equivalent to two hats knitting-wise (Do I get extra Good Mom points for that?) Secondly, it has a pom-pom on top.

I'm delighted that my sweet boy is totally immune to any sort of fashion standards. He wanted a pom-pom and is not at all concerned with how his peers will react.

The whole pocket thing is kind of a dud. He originally thought it would be cool to have a pencil hidden away, just for those times when you suddenly need a pencil. Or better yet, when your friend needs a pencil and you can pull one out of your hat. What was I thinking? Oh, you can get a pencil in there, but it's no secret ...

I did learn a thing or two (besides how deeply I dislike pom-poms). I did my first provisional cast-on. This was so I could turn around and knit the "pocket" in the other direction. I followed instructions found here. It's very cool, though I must've done something wrong because my crocheted edge didn't unzip as smoothly as it was supposed to. It required more of a zip one/tug one operation. I'll need to work on that. I also did EZ's sewn bind-off for stretchability. I highly recommend it! I made and rejected two pom-poms before Toby helped me with one that made the cut. Pathetic, I know. Makes you kind of wonder about the two that didn't make it.

Toby's Secret Pocket Hat
Pattern: You're kidding, right?
Yarn: KnitPicks Swish
Needles: US #6 Addi Turbo 16" Circs and Susan Bates DPNs

ETA: True confession time: I wrote this post last night and held off posting until I could take daylight photos before Toby headed off to school. He was very accommodating (so accommodating that he missed the bus). BUT he didn't want to wear it to school ..

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Knitting The Blues

Blue socks. Blue Shawl. Blue hat. It seems that the only knitting happening around here lately is knitting in shades of blue.

SO here's a blue-knitting-in-progress post. You can see that progress, albeit slow progress, is being made on everything blue.

Ene's Scarf is, according to the wondrous shawl progress calculator found here, just past the half-way point. I'm expecting it to start growing quickly now that I know I'm on the downhill side - and with ever diminishing row lengths, no less!

The mystery hat is moving along, doesn't look like much yet, but you just wait.

And the sock, poor sock. It's the only blue thing that's for me, and as such it's been neglected. The hat bumped it from it's soccer-knitting status .. I've stuffed it like a sausage here, so you can see the pretty pattern. Don't worry, sock, I'll be back.

Friday, November 17, 2006

3650 Days

Knitting production has been a bit slow at Chez Knitting Weather lately. We have entered that hellish time of year the holiday season early, as we always do around here. It's the result of extremely poor family planning. Three birthdays, Thanksgiving, Chanukah AND Christmas all in the two month period between Halloween (Oh, did I mention Halloween?) and New Year's.

For some, these occasions just mean an increase in knitting production. Not so much around here. Though I love to make and give away hand knitted gifts, I enjoy it most when a gift is unexpected. Around this time of year I often get the urge to knit for someone with whom I don't regularly exchange gifts, but I don't manically knit for every recipient on my gift-list.

My youngest turned 10 yesterday. (That's good news, 2 out of 3 Scorpios at this house have now celebrated their birthdays.) This is the son who brought me great joy last fall when he finally asked me to teach him to knit. The joy lasted a few weeks. The obligatory first garter stitch scarf is stuffed in a bag taking up closet space somewhere. BUT the interest was genuine and he's retained some basic knitting knowledge. From time to time he'll come look over my shoulder and make a knitterly observation that warms my heart. He understands about knits and purls, and was curious about the lace business.

This same son asked several months back if it would be possible to knit a hat of a very specific design that he had floating around in his imagination. We talked about it from time to time, but I just didn't have the will to try and make it happen. Maybe I needed the onset of winter, or the crush of gift-giving opportunities. Whatever the reason, when he asked again about two weeks ago, overcome by a wave of maternal love and knitting optimism, I thought I could order and receive yarn and realize his vision by his birthday. Alas, a federal holiday and a snowstorm conspired to make mail delivery slow, even for the speedy KnitPicks. The yarn finally arrived on Wednesday.

This is the snow

that slowed the mail.

This hat is not going to be knit that quickly. But after a birthday dinner and birthday presents and birthday cake, the birthday boy went to bed, and I cast on for his new hat.

Maybe it'll be done in time for Chanukah...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Addicted To Lace

My needles were still warm from the Shetland Triangle yet I had to have more. On to Nancy Bush's Ene's Scarf: my newest lace obsession. It was a bit slower to get going, as you begin with the wide end rather than the tip, and it was an effort to get 375 stitches cast on and established. But after one false start (Can anyone fix mistakes in the first row without messing up the cast on edge?), I got it going. Even though it appears to grow more slowly when knitting from the wide end, I'm appreciating the psychological lift I get knowing the stitch count is decreasing with every other row.

I'm not working on it quite as manically as I did the Shetland Triangle, but I am loving it. Now that the pattern is established it's easier to read the stitches and stay on track. I'm using Garnstudio Drops Alpaca in a blue that is close to, but not quite the blue you see here. Mine is a little duskier.

Thanks to everyone who left such kind and flattering comments after my last post. It was good for my knitting soul.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Knit With Love

A Shawl For Dee

: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, from Wrap Style.
Yarn: Zephyr Wool/Silk from Halcyon Yarn. Yarn used double throughout. I started with 3 mini-cones of 600 yards each. I finished the first two cones right before beginning the "Edging" chart.
Needles: US Size 4, KnitPicks Options (My first project with these needles and I was very pleased.)
Date Started/Ended: October 2, 2006 - October 20, 2006.
Finished Size: 67" wide across top edge and 32" from center of top edge to bottom of point, after blocking. (Pre-blocked dimensions: 52" x 23")
  • Yarn and needle substitutions.
  • I added 8 extra repeats of the main pattern for a total of 16.
  • I left off the last two rows of the edging chart for a more subtly scalloped edge. This is how BrooklynTweed did it and I'm so glad he thought of it because I never would have on my own and it's perfect. Thank you, Jared, for e-walking me through it.

Thanks to Nick for the photoshoot at Mendenhall Lake.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

This Post Brought To You By Acme Welding

A week ago, as I was anticipating the shawl finish, I paused in my knitting and went on a quest for blocking wires. Someday maybe I'll order the real deal, but for now I was going to have to make do. A Google search led me here, to the idea of welding rods as blocking wires. Brilliant.

A search through the Yellow Pages and I was on my way to Acme Welding.

It wasn't hard to find.

Sherman, of Acme Welding, couldn't have been kinder. He stopped mid-weld to listen to my tale of knitting lace and blocking woe, and began pulling welding rods of varying lengths and widths from the shoulder high bins behind him. I was as indecisive as ever, and he ultimately sent me forth with two each, of two different width rods, and the assurance that I could come back anytime if I needed something else. All at no charge. He told me he had a soft spot for fiber/fabric minded women, as his wife is a quilter. Made me wish I had something that needed welding. Thank you, Sherman.

Fast forward to last evening when I finished knitting the shawl and was ready to put my welding rods to good use. First, the obligatory soaking shot:

I never tire of looking at other bloggers'’ blocking photos. They are so beautiful to me and I have been looking forward to showing my own. Alas, I finished pinning out the shawl well after dark last night and today is the darkest, gloomiest day we'’ve had since last winter. I resorted to using a flash because I a’m too impatient and so anxious to unpin and try on this shawl. I'm holding out hope that tomorrow we'll have a rain break so we can get a few shots with natural light. My desire for beautiful shawl photos is at odds with my desire to get the shawl to the post office on Monday so that it can finally be on its way to its rightful owner. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Word is spreading throughout the knitting blog community of a Yarn Industry Scandal. A cryptic post here followed by a more direct post here and a lively debate here.
I'm wondering, with mid-term elections so close at hand, can we find a way to blame this on the GOP?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Indoor Soccer

The indoor recreational soccer season has begun. Halleluiah. Two indoor soccer players times at least one game per week and maybe some time hanging around practices yields several hours of potential knitting time. Of course, I invariably get too wrapped up in the game to knit, or too wrapped up in the knitting to see them score a goal or block a goal or otherwise make me proud. But the possibility that I might get some extra knitting time is always there with indoor soccer .. making indoor soccer a very cool sport.

We had some knitting drama at yesterday's game. It was the first game of the season and no chairs had been set up, no bleachers available. We parents sat on the floor with our backs against the wall. To my right sat fellow soccer mom and knitter, Lynn. We pulled out our knitting. (Foreboding, foreshadowy music should be cued now.)

There are no boundary lines in indoor soccer. The players may play off the wall or whatever other obstacle they bump up against. Play often comes excitingly close to the spectators. More than once my chivalrous husband has deflected a ball from his lovely wife (that would be me) who, head bent to knitting, was blissfully unaware of impending danger.

Back to yesterday. It was the second half of a close game. Tension was mounting on the court. At the edge of the court, the knitters persevered, despite frequent interference. And then, in that slow motiony way of disaster, play moved closer and closer to the side-line knitters. There were many legs and much scrambling for possession of the ball. A player kicked and made contact, not with the soccer ball, but with Lynn's bag 0' yarn. Next thing we knew, her lovely ball of yarn was rolling out into the court. Rolling and rolling. Time slowed. (Here the music would get dramatic and crescendo-y.) For one brief moment, it appeared that a player's legs were actually tangled in the trailing yarn. And then, as quickly as it happened it was over. The players moved away, the yarn stayed behind. The ball was retrieved. The knitting and the soccer game continued.

In preparation for indoor soccer, I cast on for a portable project. These socks out of the beautiful Nature's Palette yarn that Hilary brought me when she came to visit last summer. She's working on these socks too, and I'm being a copycat.

My not-so-portable project is that blur off to the right. It's also my current obsession and true love. It's just not suitable for schlepping to sporting events. It is the lovely Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark, and here's a peek:

.. more soon, I hope.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tension Issues

Apparently I have them. That's the word from TKGA regarding my Level I submission. It came back to me a few days ago and I have four swatches to rework. Nick finds it curious that I needed to work all those little swatches in order to learn I have Tension Issues when he could have told me without my knitting a stitch. "Not that kind of tension," said I through clenched teeth.

Gratefully, none of the written work needs to be redone. I hope to redo the four tension-challenged swatches and resubmit them sooner, rather than later.


Motivated by Zimmermania, I got started on a Ganomy hat for Nick this week. I finished it this morning. I love the clever construction and utilitarian design of this hat. I've been wanting to make one ever since finding Jared's last winter. However, despite admiring his and the way it looked on its owner, I've had some niggling doubts about how it would look on Nick. But never one to listen to that inner voice, until it's shrieking at me, I forged ahead.

I don't know if it's the knitting, the pattern or the head, but I was right. Flattering? Not so much. However, it's luxurious and soft and it covers the ears. I predict as the mercury dips and the wind blows and the dog still demands to be walked, it will be worn - and appreciated!

Nick's Ganomy Hat
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Ganomy Hat from Knitter's Almanac
Yarn:Noro (Again!) Cash Iroha
Needles: US size 7 circs and dpns
Modifications: Because I was knitting with a gauge of 4.5 sts/inch instead of 4, and because I needed a bigger finished hat, I cast on 108 sts instead of 80. That, combined with my desire for a more rounded, less pointy top, led me to a slightly modified decreasing strategy. If I make this again, I'll have to fine-tune the shaping, but this hat is DONE.

When the clouds lifted this weekend, they revealed fresh snow on the mountain tops. Nick may be wearing this sooner than I think..

A view to inspire the knitting of cold-weather wear ..

*SPECIAL THANKS to Chris for her "sidebar button" guidance!*

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ahhhhh, Noro

The vest is done. Well, almost. In an attempt to beat the rapidly fading daylight, and the forecast for rain, Nick offered to take some quick photos for me when I got home from work this evening. I still have a few ends that need weaving-in and I had to dispose of them discreetly for the photo shoot. Finding adequate daylight for taking blog photos is going to be a challenge this side of the equinox.

But I digress. Did I mention: THE NORO VEST IS DONE? I'm pretty happy with it. Really a simple, quick knit, except that I was flying by the seat of my pants sans pattern. Therefore, there was much ripping and reknitting as I figured things out along the way. Luckily I planned for a deep V-neck and fairly deep armholes, because over the weekend I took out my shoulder seams twice (once after blocking and weaving in the ends .. oy vey) to rip and shorten. I managed to get a length I like and still have my v-neck and roomy enough armholes.

I loved working with the Noro. The subtle color transitions, the sheen that the silk added, and how it got soft and drapey after washing. Yum.

Noro Vest Specs:

Pattern: There ain't one.
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden in colorway 47 (~6-7 skeins)
Needles: US 7/Addi Turbo Circs

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Koigu Diversion

A few years ago (3? 4?) while still living in California, my knitting group was overtaken by a moebius knitting frenzy. One of our fold, Karen, set things in motion and before long everyone was knitting moebiuses moebiuae moebi them. Fat ones, skinny ones, long ones, short ones, beaded, ribbed, and lace ones - you get the idea.

I seem to be missing that group more and more lately. Maybe it's the fall weather. Or perhaps even though I'm thousands of miles away, I'm sad because the LYS where we once gathered has closed its doors for good.

So I pulled out Cat Bordhi's book and my 47" Addi turbos and cast on the magical moebius stiches and thought of my Thursday night friends.

Koigu Moebius
Pattern: Basic Moebius Scarf a la Cat Bordhi
I cast on 130 stitches and worked a 5 row rib until it was wide enough
Needles: US 9 47" Addi Turbos
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM (ONE SKEIN!)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Beach Weather

I grudgingly went back to work this week, lamenting all the way my loss of valuable knitting time. Though I snuck in rows during lunch hours and evenings, I set my sights on today, because (lucky me) I'm only working 4 days a week and Fridays seem like they're going to be made for knitting. But around mid-day Wednesday the weather changed. The clouds parted, the sun shone, and the rain ceased to fall. AND this glorious weather is still going strong.

Just to put this all in perspective let me tell you that Juneau set wet-weather records this summer. In August alone there were 29 days with measurable precipitation. In the period from April to the end of August something like 109 out of 153 days were rainy days. These current days of sun are especially precious because we've seen so few of them, and as autumn approaches we can expect to see even fewer.

In light of all this, I did the only thing a sane person could do today. I went to the beach. I took my husband, our dog and my knitting with me. We saw the boys off to school("Bye-bye suckers kids, have a nice day!"), packed up lunches and the dog, and headed out the road to the Boy Scout Camp. It's a short hike through the woods to the camp and a beautiful crescent-shaped beach with views of the Chilkats. We saw sea lions from the beach, some sort of falcon that flew overhead, and three bikini-clad sun-bathers. (Only in Juneau is 60 degrees bikini weather.) We almost saw a bear, but some other hikers came upon it first and their dogs scared it off.

We had lunch on the beach and basked in the sun while I snuck in a few more rows on the back of my Noro vest...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

All's been quiet on the blogging front lately. I have been knitting. It's just that it's been a process of *k1,rip1* Repeat until you get it right! But I think I finally have the Noro Vest on track. I'm about 3/4 done with the front. The back should fly by after this since I've spent so much time figuring things out and reworking on the front's time.

Back to work tomorrow after a nice summer break. 4 days a week, but I fear knitting and blogging are going to be adversely impacted. OR maybe I'll be more productive since I'll have less free time. Yeah, I'm sure that's the way it'll go.

Oh, and I mailed my TKGA Level I stuff today ...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

That's the number of swatches required for Level I of TKGA Master Hand Knitter Program. That's the number of swatches safely ensconced in individual pocket pages in the binder sitting to my left. Mind you, the longer they sit there the more time I have to obsess about them and wonder which, if any, I should rework before submitting. I also have to finish up the written requirements. Procrastinating about the written requirements gives me more time to obsess about reworking the swatches.

It's a vicious knitter's circle, but one that must end soon as time is running out. In a few weeks my current instructions will have expired*.

In the meantime, I've also started working on a vest out of some Noro Silk Garden that's been ripening in my stash. I swatched a few months back and finally committed to the knitting last week. I'm loving the yarn and the subtle changes of color from stripe to stripe. Because I'm knitting by the seat of my pants (i.e. no real pattern, though I'm keeping it awfully simple) I don't have complete confidence in the outcome. Time will tell.

*There is no overall time limit, but if the instructions are revised, as they recently were, the old instructions are only good for one year from the time you signed on. As there have been significant changes since I received my packet, my goal is to get my submission in under the old instructions.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Baby Stripes

Home again after nearly two weeks. All in all it was a good trip.

A few highlights:

After the soccer tournament (no, they didn't win, but they sure had a good time) we headed to Denali Park. We spent a day touring the Park and though we did see Caribou, one grizzly bear, a moose, ptarmigan and rugged and beautiful vistas, we never did see The Mountain.

Though I'm not much of a wildlife
photographer, I did manage to
get a quick shot of these wild creatures ...

(They were making do, having been temporarily removed from their natural habitat and suffering from electronic-plaything-

From Denali we traveled East and South into the Yukon and ultimately to Whitehorse. We traveled the magnificent Denali Highway and were reminded, anew, how VAST this state is. The map makes it look big, but nothing like driving in a car for two days with two children to make you appreciate just how huge it is.

In Whitehorse we visited the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and had a visit with this fellow, an adolescent Musk Ox - the source of luxurious and precious Qiviut.

And, of course, some knitting got done along the way. Remember that yarn I dyed right before I left?

There's a baby due in the neighborhood in a few weeks, and I'm going to be ready! I'm quite tickled with the way the stripe widths match. I dyed one skein for the socks and one for the hat.

Baby Duds Specs:
Yarn: Kool Aid dyed Baby Ull
Needles: US 0 dpns
Hat Pattern: Just your basic hat . . I took some guidance from Here
Sock Pattern: Better -Than-Booties Baby Socks
Modifications: I modified the socks by just doing a 1x1 rib on the top of the foot, as seen Here.
And I finished the toes with a Kitchener Stitch instead of the zigzag bind-off for which the pattern called.

Lake Bennett, BC, photographed as we drove from Whitehorse to Skagway on our return to Juneau. Another breathtaking drive. As we traveled along the Chilkoot Trail, we marveled at just how great the lure of gold was, to induce people to make this trek on foot and in winter.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heading North ..

Sunday morning, bright and early, we'll be driving our minivan onto the MV Fairweather and traveling the Alaska Marine Highway to Haines. From Haines we'll drive to Wasilla where Son #1 has a soccer tournament next week. We're all tagging along. We are going to hit the road for points farther North and East after the tournament. Our goal is to see a little bit more of this GREAT state (and the Yukon as well) as our last hurrah of Summer 2006.

While my husband is pulling together an Emergency Road Supply Kit (flares, electrical tape, Goop, Hose Repair Bandage, magic tire patch spray) and trying to locate the First Aid Kit (it's probably wedged under one of the passenger seats, I keep telling him), I am making command decisions about which yarn and projects to bring. I am also making lists of potential yarn shop visits. (Likely locales for this are Anchorage, Wasilla, Whitehorse and Skagway if anyone has a suggestion). I consider this to be a fair and balanced distribution of labor. (Oh, alright, I am also doing mountains of laundry, and stocking up on Audiobooks - these have a wonderful calming effect on our children who are otherwise prone to bickering with one another and kvetching and declaring they never wanted to come on whatever trip we're on in the first place.)

I dyed some more Dale Baby Ull earlier this week. Once again I started with Mid Gray.

I went for narrow stripes of cherry and grape separated by undyed gray stripes.

I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Natural as my ties during dying. What a difference overdying the gray yarn makes:

Things will be quiet around here for a few weeks. I don't expect to be blogging from the road, but I hope to have some knitting to show upon our return.

Thanks to everyone who left such complimentary and encouraging comments about my finished scarf. I am so grateful to have a cyber-knitting community!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Close Call

Do you want to know how close?? I'll show you ..

That's all that remains of my Habu wool, after finishing up the Flower Basket Shawl.

When I had completed three extra pattern repeats, the post office scale indicated I had 30% of my yarn remaining. The mystical shawl calculator indicated at that point in the shawl, assuming I was going to add an 11th pattern repeat, I had completed 72.1%. I knew I was cutting it close and with each row I became more anxious and more obsessed with finishing.

Even after adding four pattern repeats, the shawl is actually a scarf. I was expecting it to be small and am quite happy to have a red lace scarf. I will probably get lots more wear out of it this way, and the Habu seems appropriate for an everyday scarf. It softened up some with washing and didn't lose a bit of it's rich red color. (Hard to capture, but that bit in my palm comes the closest.) AND there wasn't a single knot in the whole 808 yards. I had exactly two ends to weave in. I'm pleased with it. (Though now that I've fallen prey to this lace knitting addiction, I'm thinking about the next shawl and imagining a more luxurious yarn.)

It doesn't look like much right off the needles:

But let the magic begin:

and finally...

Flower Basket Shawl
Habu Textiles 2/26 Geelong Lamb Wool / 808 yards/2 ounces - used double throughout
Needles:Susan Bates 29" circular-US 3
Pattern:Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark/Interweave Knits Fall 2004
Aside from using different yarn and needles, my only modification was to knit four extra pattern repeats.
Finished Measurements: 52" long x 21" deep
Started:July 13
July 30

Thanks to Nick, for patiently photographing the shawl and me, in the rain.