Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Couldn't Resist...

...and so I cast on for my Tilted Duster the other night, even after I swore off yarn for a long while. But I am using the exact yarn called for in the pattern, and I got gauge so that goes a long way towards getting a good finished product!

Progress pic:

Yes, it's true: I am only just finishing up the back panel. But I hit a snag tonight and I don't know how to fix it! See, the pattern tells you to join another ball of yarn when you get to the shoulders and bind off the neckline section. Fine, I get it. But then you're supposed to bind off stitches on the neck side and at the same time bind off stitches on the shoulder side?

Since I am really trying to do this absolutely right and avoid a knitting disaster like the Green Cherry, this has me a little confused. When you bind off at the end of a row, you end up with one stitch left over, right? So...(and this may be a stupid question because I have searched all over the internet for the answer and no one else seems to be having this problem) I supposed to bind off those stitches at the beginning of the row on my way back? This seems the most logical solution unless there is some magic knitting trick that I don't know about (and truly, that wouldn't surprise me).

I just put the lovely thing away until I either find the proper answer or just say to hell with it and stagger the rows, which will probably happen sometime tomorrow afternoon. I'm not the most patient person. ;-)

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I finished my green tank top today. I was really excited about it! The color is perfect (it matches my eyes), the design is fun, and I have really been aching to knit something that I'm actually able to wear!

Unfortunately, things did not work out exactly as planned. So even though this is a knitting blog, I am not going to write about knitting today and I am going to write about something that never fails to make me happy instead.

Yes, that's right. I have been addicted to Lay's Baked Sour Cream and Onion Potato Crisps for years. Their crunchy goodness always puts a smile on my face. They never disappoint. They always turn out exactly the way I expect them to.

Unlike my knitting. For some reason, even though I added two inches to the row count called for in the pattern, my sweater is too short!

These chips, excuse me, crisps, are so light and tasty I crave them all the time. I never get enough of them. Toss me a bag of these on a bad day and it's like sunshine everywhere.

Unlike my knitting. Toss me some needles and a ball of yarn and I will knit you a mystery sweater. It follows the pattern exactly. It looks like it will fit. When I slip it onto waste yarn and try it on as I'm going, it does fit. But when I bind off and try it on, there isn't enough room inside it for me!

These chips are so good that The Brain has to physically take the whole bag away from me or I'll eat it all in one sitting. The first thing I scout for when I move to a new city is the nearest grocery store that stocks these in Sour Cream and Onion. Many of them don't. They carry Original and Barbecue and even Sour Cream and Cheddar, but the SC&O are a hard-to-find variety. When I lived in Pittsburgh last year for school I literally had a classmate drive 3 bags in from Moon for me. That's how desperate I was for a fix.

Unlike my knitting. Right now I don't even want to look at yarn. You could take me on a tour of the world's most fabulous yarn stores and I wouldn't even blink. My yarn has betrayed me. Even the bind-offs, which I took care to do loosely and in ribbing, have no give and are threatening to cut off circulation to my arms.

And my chips would never ever do something like that.

Obligatory shot of the offending sweater:

I figure any sweater that allows people to count your ribs through the wool is too tight!

I'll save it because I love the yarn, but I just can't bring myself to do anything else with it right now. Someday down the line I will get up the courage to frog it and start over.

But tonight I'm just consoling myself with a bag of chips...and some Dr. Pepper.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to the MS3

OK, so I decided to do some work on my MS3 because...well, because I have 3 sweaters waiting in the wings that I really would rather get to! Plus, I'm one of those people who loathes to leave things unfinished, and I would really rather finish one thing before I move on to another. I'm the same way with food: I have to eat all my fries before touching my burger, etc.

Anyway, I'm halfway through Clue 6 now:

It doesn't look much different than my last progress pic, but I can see the difference! I had to join my second skein of yarn and I tried the method Eunny Jang describes on her blog. It was a bit tricky, especially since the Misti Alpaca laceweight that I'm using is very frail. I separated it into 2 strands, but each strand by itself is so wispy that it kept just...disintegrating. I finally managed to get it done but there are a couple stitches in there that only use one strand and I really hope they don't break during blocking. I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Speaking of frail, since the new rows of the wing are picked up one stitch every other row from the end of the main body, those stitches that have been sitting there for ages waiting to be picked up are getting quite worn. I swear, if this stole falls apart on me before I'm done, I'm going to...well I don't know what I'm going to do but it will probably involve a bonfire!

On a happier note, my "DVD knitting" project is going quite well:

It's my Cherry Twist tank top without the cherry and without the twist. Yes, I know it looks really small, but the pattern does say that it is very close-fitting. I did try on the progress so far and it stretches quite well. (To get an idea of the scale, the ribbed top section actually goes around the shoulders and the body as is falls right below my bust.) I would have taken pictures of it while I was wearing it, but The Brain isn't home right now and I'm no expert with cameras and mirrors. I'll take another picture soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Hmmm...not much progress on the knitting front these past couple of days.

I finished Clue 5 on the MS3 a few days ago but then I promptly ran out of yarn and haven't bothered to join the next ball. Progress pic:

To give my itchy fingers something else to work on, I also decided to cast on for a new tank top. I'm using the Cherry Twist pattern from knitty and 3 skeins of Cascade 220 in color number 2429. It's one of their heathered yarns in a bright green/olive mix and I really like how the color is turning out:

Not much progress at this point! I cast on and knit one row and then I had to go to bed. This is the first time I've used Cascade 220 and I am really surprised by how soft it seems. I would have expected it to be rougher, so I am very happy.

The original pattern for this sweater used yarn that was much bulkier than this stuff. We're talking 3 stitches to the inch! But I didn't really want a bulky tank and I was really just looking for something to do with the 3 skeins of this yarn that I have, so I spent a good amount of time with a pencil and calculator changing the stitch count in the pattern to fit my gauge. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope it looks OK (and that I have enough yarn!).

In more exciting news, I got my invite to Ravelry over the weekend. :) It looks super cool! I am really excited about the prospect of being able to store all the information about my projects in one place, digitally. That was one of the big reasons I started this blog! The only thing I'm disappointed about at the moment is that you can only post photos by using a Flickr account. I don't have a Flickr account and I never planned on getting one. I use Snapfish to host all the photos I share with family and friends. If I end up getting really into Ravelry I suppose I will have to get one (because come on, half the point is having your pictures up, right?). I just don't have the time or energy to do it at the moment. I don't have much up yet, but you're always welcome to come visit me there. My screen name is ClumsyKnitter. :)

Speaking of time, the past couple days have been kind of crazy for me. I've been running up to LA trying to meet with people to nail down an internship for fall. Today I found myself in the neighborhood of the Knit Cafe (and like any good knitter, I have a list of names and addresses for potential yarn store stops in my car). In need of some air conditioning (and, let's face it, some yarn therapy), I parked right in front and ambled inside.

First of all, it really is just as cute as it looks in the photos! As you're looking at the home page photo, all the yarn is along the walls to the right and left. The open area behind the front table is actually a little gathering place with cushy chairs and a low coffee table. I was browsing around for a while and then one of the workers started chatting with me, and the owner (Suzan) came over to sit down and join and pretty soon there were 4 of us (they had a friend visiting to knit) sitting around the coffee table chit chatting. It was really great to finally meet some other knitters (at this point, the only knitter I know in person is my 19-year-old brother) AND it was just really nice to have some other people to talk to! I love The Brain and all, but frankly I think he's getting tired of hearing about yarn all the time.

I couldn't resist: I just had to bring two little skeins of Koigu KPPPM home. Sort of as a yarn souvenir:

I'm sure I'll be back to the shop. The people there were so friendly and the owner made sure to let me know that they are open late on Thursday nights. I may have to make a habit of stopping by after work.

Gosh, this post is getting long! Sorry! I also stopped by the local Barnes and Noble on the way home and picked up the brand new Interweave Knits magazine. I am so excited because I already have the yarn for the cover sweater AND because it's Eunny's first issue as editor so I'm very excited to see what she's done with it. (Although I already really liked the magazine before.)

Wow, it's amazing what a long post I pumped out without having done much knitting!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Long-Ago Love Affair

When I was in grade school, I had a love affair with the color seafoam green. I adored it. I even had a set of pop beads that were all seafoam green. I guess you could say I was a little obsessed. I would sit in my room with a box of crayons, trying to recreate the perfect shade by lightly layering green, light blue, and a touch of gray. It never worked perfectly, but I never stopped trying. When Crayola came out with their pastel markers, it was a match made in heaven...until the seafoam green color wore out.

I remember this because it coincided with the first knitted item I ever loved. I was 8 years old and my family lived in Duluth, MN. There were 7 kids in my family by then and it was the first year of my life that I got to pick out a brand new winter jacket. Of course, I got a seafoam green one.

We were at the big craft fair/fundraiser for school. Rows of tables were set up in the gym and women (they were pretty much all women) sat behind the tables and offered up their knitted/quilted/beaded/whatever items for sale. As the fair wore down and people started packing up their things, an elderly woman was trying to get rid of a box of knitted mittens. This woman knit wool mittens year-round and she had a large box FULL of some of the ugliest-colored mittens you can imagine. Seeing that my mother had a lot of kids on her hands, and that we would all need warm mittens for the winter, she let my mom have the entire box for $10.

I was less than thrilled. There I was, an 8-year-old girl with a fabulous new jacket and my mom expected me to ruin it by wearing rust-colored mittens? Or pine green with orange stripes? Or brown the color of cow pies? No way!

We got home and started going through the box. Ugly mitten after ugly mitten came out. My mother cheerfully told us that there were so many mittens in the box we would be able to switch off the wet ones for dry ones when we were playing outside. I was not appeased. But then there, in the bottom corner of the box, was a flash of white. I reached in and yanked out a pair of snowy white mittens with 3 stripes of seafoam green around the wrist band. They were beautiful! They matched! They were MINE!

But they couldn't be all mine. I had 4 other sisters who didn't want to wear ugly mittens either. From that day on, going outside became a contest to see who could get dressed the fastest and snag the pretty mittens. When we lay our sopping wet mittens on a radiator to dry, I would shove mine behind the radiator in the hopes that no one would notice them. I never touched dirty snow with those mittens on because I didn't want them to get dirty.

I have no idea what ever happened to those mittens. I know I wore them for a few years, but then I probably became too old and cool to play outside in the snow. Or else my family moved and they got lost in all the packing. Maybe they wore out. Maybe my brothers got older and wouldn't be caught dead in girly white-and-seafoam green mittens. But I will always remember them.

(Btw, the mittens in the photo are for illustrative purposes only. I pulled the photo from Google images and I think they are mighty cute. The ones we had were U-G-L-Y!)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

2 Steps Forward, 3 Steps Back

Someone must have put a jinx on me at birth or something. Just when I thought everything was going well, I ended up with an extra stitch on my stole and couldn't figure out where for the life of me. I ended up frogging back to the end of Clue 4.

It wasn't pretty. Neither is the picture, and for that I apologize. I have never been a good photographer so I guess it's a good thing I ditched the filmmaking program I was in and went to grad school instead, huh?

I managed to clean everything up and get back to where I was with the correct number of stitches by the end of the evening. But by that point I was kind of sick of looking at the thing so I went online to look at some better-behaved yarn and ended up buying yarn for another sweater I've been wanting to make for a while.

Someone needs to take my credit card away from me because I can't be trusted with it! Buying new yarn is like an emotional salve: the yarn I have is misbehaving so I should buy new, better yarn to compensate! Uh...yeah. Then, as if I wasn't feeling guilty enough about the added expense, The Brain came home from running errands and announced that he had dropped his cell phone in the parking lot and now the antenna wouldn't work or something. Great. Two days after his warranty runs out, the guy drops the phone and we have to drop $150 or so to replace it.

Did I mention I'm jinxed?

Good thing I managed to resist ordering a few knitting books from Amazon. But I am positively drooling over Annie Modesitt's latest and I know where my spending money is going next!

Friday, August 10, 2007

3 FOs and One Great Find!

OK, so the 3 FOs are kind of cheating because they are a set of 20-inch-long headbands...but it's nice to say you completed something!

The patterns are free on the KnitPicks website. I knit them out of KnitPicks Elegance in the color Lilac. I bought the yarn for this purpose at the beginning of the summer and promised my little sister I would make her a headband...but I never got around to it and thought she forgot about it. But the day before I hit the road she sauntered up to me and put her hands on her hips and said, "So. How are those headbands coming?" Leave it to a 7-year-old to remember something like that for so long! I promised her I really would finish them this time and send them to her in a special package.

I have also made more progress on the MS3. I am done with the first half of Clue 5:

I just have a little corner done of the wing that people either love or hate. Personally, I am ambivalent about it. I'm not planning on keeping or wearing this stole (and I don't have anyone to give it to, either). I'm just knitting it because I happened to have the yarn to do it with and it's neat. I even bought yarn for the Hanami stole already and I have no idea what I'm going to do with that, either! LOL I guess that makes me a process knitter, huh?

And here is my great find of the day:

Berroco Peruvia in color 7140 at 40% off! That's enough to make the cover sweater for the upcoming Interweave Knits. I have really been wanting to make another sweater and really like the pics from the magazine. I decided I wanted this to be my next project before I even found the yarn. I am so excited about this that I am thinking about buying enough for a second sweater before it's all gone! (Which is why I'm hesitant to say where I found it.) I just wish moving hadn't eaten up every last cent I had!

But back to the yarn: when I ordered it, I thought it was just a solid purple color, but when I got it today I was delighted to see that it actually has a lot of other colors in it. Purple is the "main" color, but there is also some teal and even some gold in there. I think it gives the yarn more depth and I am even more excited now for the magazine to come out next week!

I tried to take good pictures but I really couldn't get the lighting right. The real color is somewhere in between the blue of the first one and the faded out color on the right.

I have to admit that I am a little apprehensive about knitting a pattern "right out of the box", so to speak. There won't be any errata yet and I don't think I'm that skilled yet that I can spot a mistake right away, notice one while I'm knitting the thing, or fix something if there's a big problem. Yes, I know that you can always "undo" knitting and mistakes but...I just don't think I can stomach that!

Btw, I'm sure many people have seen the Bohus sweaters but I recently came across them and I think they are so beautiful! Really not my style, but beautiful nonetheless and I would love to knit one for my mother someday. I particularly like the Blue Flowers one, but I wish it was a cardigan instead. I haven't done any colorwork yet so I'm going to have to learn that skill first. The Fairly Easy Fair Isle sweater from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation is pretty cute...maybe I'll have a go at that soon. I have a sister who would love it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'm Here!!!


After several HOT HOT HOT days in Minneapolis packing, a visit to the grandparents in North Dakota, and 4 DAYS in the car with The Brain...we finally made it to California!

Sorry that I have no pictures. I'm sitting in the public library near my apartment because I won't have a computer or internet access at home for at least another day (if all goes well and everything is delivered when promised.)

I was really looking forward to having a week off with no responsibilities except to drive and drive and drive. I was planning on catching up with my MS3. I was planning on winding my dozen or so skeins of sock yarn into balls. I was planning on teaching myself to knit socks on two circular needles...

Sadly, none of these things happened. I was too exhausted once we finally reached my grandparents' place to pull out the knitting. Then the rest of my family showed up and I was having too much fun playing poker and going swimming with my brothers to worry about knitting (even though one of my brothers is knitting the MS3 too, and he found time to teach himself how to knit a sock and finished it in 3 days!!!)

Then there was the car ride: 4 days going west across Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington and south through Oregon and California...with no air conditioning. This meant that all the windows had to be rolled down the entire way. Have you ever tried winding balls of yarn at 90 mph with the windows down? The draft tends to suck everything up to the roof and into the back. Yarn was flying everywhere, getting caught in my sunglasses, flailing out the window, etc. It was NOT FUN. The Brain figured out pretty quickly that this was NOT a situation to laugh at. I managed to wind one ball and then shoved the rest of my knitting away for the duration of the trip.

But now I'm here and even though I don't have furniture or a fridge yet, things are definitely getting back on track. The next week or so will be very busy trying to unload furniture and boxes, buy The Brain a car, get an internship lined up for fall, etc. In between all of that I am logging a lot of knitting time on the air mattress in the living room!

Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions for getting rid of the gap between two circular needles while you're making socks, let me know. My first attempt looks like two pieces of knitting loosely strung together on each side. I could try to pass it off as some lame-looking lace runner or...I could just learn to do it the right way!

Thanks for all the comments everyone! It's fun hearing from other knitters. :)