Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Hedera number 2 is coming along. As you can see the leg and heel flap are done and I turned the heel. It always feels like a huge accomplishment to get to this point. Take that SSS (Second Sock Syndrome)!

A new woman who designs jewlery came to Upper East Side Knitters last night and we're going to trade skills. She's going to help me with wire wrapping so I can improve my stitch markers. I'm going to teach her to crochet so she can do all those fancy picot edgings. Then we're all going to live happily ever after in Craftland :-)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I was thinking as I walked home from work today (Yes, I know it's, it wasn't my choice to be there!) that we need a common project that is the opposite of the ubiquitous "garter stitch scarf." In conversation and blogversation (ooo, new word :-) people discuss the garter stitch scarf as often being the first project attempted by a beginner knitter (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

So in order for everyone to be on the same page I was thinking we needed a generic project to encompass something most advanced knitters work on. As I was trying to choose between Aran sweater and Entrelac socks I came to a realization. Like many things in life, as knitters, we all begin in the same place and end up in entirely different ones. Each one of us learned to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off either from a friend or family member or a book or website. We all sat there cursing the needles thinking we would never get the hang of it.

And for those of us that became enamored with knitting no two are the same. I know very skilled knitters who focus mostly on delicate lace shawls or cabled socks or steeked sweaters. Knitting takes you as far as your skill and imagination is willing to go. So I suppose the garter stitch scarf really has no equivalent on the other side of the spectrum. Anyway, "intarsia jacket in fingering weight yarn with bust dart" just doesn't sound as catchy!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm a little concerned about the pain I have in my left wrist lately when I knit. I thought at first I was just imagining it and if I ignored it it would go away. It started on the airplane ride to California when I knit for about 4 hours straight on my Secret Feet Socks. I was in the middle seat and even though I was on circular needles my arm tensed up and my wrist started aching by the time we landed. I think the small yarn and needles and trying to do those impossible left slanting M1's didn't help any either. It's continued on and off in the last week. I really hope this isn't a precursor to carpal tunnel. Maybe I should rest it for awhile. Does anyone have any experience with this problem?

Here's the hat I knit for A-M's baby. The yarn is Louisa Harding's Kimono Angora. It's the softest yarn everrrrrrr. The colors came out different when knitted than they did in the skein. It appeared semi-striped in the skein but then looked more variegated when knitted. Hmmm, wonder why that happens. I made up the pattern myself. Since it was my first baby hat I was worried it was too small because I was bad and assumed the gauge of 5.5 stiches to the inch on the label when mine came out closer to 7 stitches per inch. I came to visit and see the baby and when we put it on her head it was actually too big! Which isn't really a problem as she'll grow into it. It was just funny to me as I was all ready to take it back and make a larger size.

When I wasn't looking Merino went ahead and tried the hat on. The only way to get it out of his hooves was to promise to make him his own. Sheep hats....maybe I'm on to something!

Friday, March 23, 2007

JF has been telling me I should write more about my thoughts and perspective on knitting and not just provide pics of my WIP's. So in an effort to make this blog more entertaining and interesting I'm going to be writing more about my thoughts. I have to warn you: some of my ideas are contradictory to the general knitting culture. Do not read on if you are faint of heart.

I'M NOT INTO KNITTING FOR CHARITY. Wow, it feels dangerous to admit this to the knitting public. It's not that I'm against volunteering and donating to charity per se. It's just I'd rather knit things for myself and friends and family. I did make a few squares for a Project Linus blanket last year but that's it. I know the Yarn Harlot last night said something along the lines of 'A century ago it was expected that you would knit hats for your family rather than buy them. In less than a few generations it's now expected that you buy hats rather than knit them.' I think it sounded more eloquent when she said it.

Anyway when I think about people who are really poor and needy it does make more sense to me to send them, for example, one hundred store bought hats rather than 10 hand knit ones. I know about the whole concept where the person feels special because it's handknit. In the case of third world countries where they're just trying to survive I think they'd rather have that ubiquitious $1 Walmart hat rather than no hat at all while their neighbor is flaunting a beautiful striped Koigu beret.

I do make an exception for oncology patients or hospitalized children though. Maybe that's why I went ahead and made those Project Linus squares. In the former case it's hard to buy a hat soft enough that it won't irritate the scalp for people who have lost all their hair to chemo. In the latter case children in the hospital, even if their families are of limited means, still have access to blankets. Then having a one-of-a-kind colorful blanket would seem more special than the generic scratchy hospital linens.

I can also relate to people who make blankets for cats in shelters but that's probably more because I have a soft spot for cats than based on logical reasoning. In fact now that I think about it, it actually makes less sense since the cats do not have the concept of something handknit vs. machine made. If you took a really soft blanket and cut it up into cage-sized squares it would probably have the same effect for the cat. In most cases it probably just makes the knitter feel better.

The other reason I can see knitting for charity making sense is that most likely people will not go out and buy blankets and cut them up for cats or purchase one hundred hats at Walmart. Perhaps this is a way to get people involved in donating who otherwise would not. I also understand that there are charitable knitting groups at hospitals and churchs who enjoy the social aspect of knitting together. If that makes your needles click then go for it.

I think my overall problem with charity knitting relates to the pressure I sometimes feel that I'm supposed to be knitting for charity. Are other hobbies or interests like that? To bring up similar obsessive pasttimes to the ones Stephanie mentioned on the tour do Star Trek fans, fly-fishers, and model builders frequently donate to charities in the context of their shared interest? Not that I know of although feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I spend all day at work helping other people and I have volunteered my time for causes in the past. Am I terribly selfish if I only want to knit myself a scarf or only make a baby hat if it's for a friend?

I just want to encourage knitters to think for themselves on a variety of topics and not feel pressured into thinking and doing things the way everyone else seems to. And please, don't take this as me urging people to stop knitting for charity. In fact go ahead and knit double to make up for me and thousands of other knitters who haven't knit for charity but are too ashamed to admit it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Look at all the knitters! I was fortunate enough to attend the Yarn Harlot's book launch and "Show the Muggles Night" at FIT tonight. Nearly all the seats in the 750 seat auditorium really were filled. And for once I wasn't the only one in the audience knitting! I went ahead and bought a signed copy of her new book "Cast Off." Originally I thought the premise was her traveling around the country and writing about the knitting related places she saw and people she met. Then I realized it was actually a trip to the fictional land of knitting. I havn't had a chance to read it at all yet but will give a review when I do.

They handed out these pins to everyone who entered the auditorium. It took me awhile to figure out that the "Y" in knyitters was for "NY." Am I the only slow one this wasn't obvious to? Every chair had a bag on it containing a pair of Boye size 8 straight needles and a skein of Patons SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) yarn. There was a pattern for making a square for Warm Up America. The stated idea was for everyone in the audience to make a 7x9 square during the evening and hand it in the end to make into a blanket. I think this was a thinly veiled attempt to quell Stephanie's nerves by talking to a room full of bentover heads rather having to look anyone in the face as she spoke. I finished about 6 inches before my arm started to hurt. I'm not used to using straights when the seats are so close together. But I'll finish it at home and mail it in.

As for the event itself Stephanie came out wearing her Bohus sweater and jeans as I and other readers had recommended to her on her blog. I took pics but I was so far back that you can barely see her in them. The sweater did look really nice in person and fit well. At one point she started overheating and took the sweater off tossing it on the floor of the stage. The New Yorkers in the audience called out to her to pick it up off the floor. Apparently in Toronto the bitter cold keeps all the floors clean (note hint of sarcasm).

Her response was that wool is washable. I guess she has never lived in a NYC apartment where your bathroom is the size of a moth's balls, your two tables are constantly covered with clutter, and even if it's superwash you still have to treck to the laundromat and pay $2 for what they claim is a doubleloader. Sorry for the tangent but if you haven't lived here you just don't get how 8 million people can live together in such a small area and only kill each other occasionally (more so in certain neighborhoods). Things get dirty...really we don't put our handknit sweaters on the floor!

Anyway she was totally nervous in the beginning. But once she opened up she gave a really funny speech; part standup comedy routine, part rallying cry for people to see knitters for who we really are and how many of us there are and not succumb to stereotypes. She used the acronym CHOKE which stands for Constant Humiliation of Knitters Everywhere. She told some really funny stories of people's reactions to her such as when a man literally withdrew his business card after a ten minute conversation with her when he realized she wrote knitting books. One of the funnier bits was when she told people what they should say should a non-knitter come across your stash in all its glory without any preparation. You could say something along the lines of "Thanks for noticing. It took me a long time but I'm almost there" or "This is only the amount of yarn I need for the week" or pick up and stroke a skein of yarn and call it your kitten.

The only downside to the evening was the so called "Question and Answer" part. Only about 3 out of 15 people who took the mic actually asked questions. The others all just gushed to Stephanie about how great and funny she was and then competed by comparing how far away they had traveled to come to the book launch. I think she liked this because she didn't get put on the spot but I really wanted to call out "She's just a normal person. Unless you want to go backstage and feel her up under her Bohus just ask a simple question and then shut up. I know we're all these happy feel-good knitters but it's getting late, I haven't eaten dinner, and I don't care that you caught the red eye from Sweden or that your 5-year-old cracks up when you read Yarn Harlot books as bedtime stories." Wow, I feel better now that I got that off my chest!

To end on a more positive note I was interviewed for the "Let's Knit2gether" podcast. You can access it here. I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring my fliers for UES Knitters but the interviewer was happy to let me put in a plug for my group on her podcast. Hopefully it'll get into the final version. I'm going to go read my new book now. Now I don't have worry about finishing "At Knit's End" and having no other good knitting humor to read!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I've been AWOL from blogland due to a much needed vaca in California :-) JF and I flew to San Franciso last week where we stayed for a few days before driving down the coast, stopping in Monterey, then continuing on to LA. I have about 500 pics and JF has another 350 or so but I'll spare you guys and give you some highlights:

Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier

Carousel also in Santa Monica
Morro Rock-it's actually made of lava!

Seals sunbathing on the coast

Fisherman's Wharf-you can see Alcatrez in the background

Muscle Beach on the "boardwalk" in Venice

Chinatown in San Francisco

Nemo at the Long Beach Aquarium

Mr. Friendly Seal


Lion fish-beautiful but poisonous!

Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day

Buddha statue at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Waterfall in the park

Sonoma County

Barrels of wine

While JF was antiquing in Monterey I came across this knitting section of the store :-)

Anyone ever heard of this yarn?

Beginner knitting book from the '50's

Some patterns from the book

This is where the novel "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck took place. Alright I'll admit I never read it but I did muddle through "The Grapes of Wrath" in 11th grade!

Knitting themed charm bracelet I purchased in San Francisco

"Till the sun comes up over Santa Monica Bld!"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I've become addicted to making stitch markers. It's taking away a little bit from my knitting addiction but I'm ok with that. I opened up a shop on and already made 2 sales! My shop is called Code Purl. First I made several sets with beads I purchased such as these:

Then I moved onto making my own beads with Fimo clay. After baking them in the oven I applied glaze to make them shiny.

So take a look around and tell your knitting friends. You can never have too many stitch markers ;-) You may have noticed that the quality of my pics has improved. JF bought me a new camera in anticipation of our vacation next week. We're going to California-not sure what the knitting is like over there although I vowed I would not turn this trip into a tour of West Coast LYS's!

I have more good news to report. I found my Glittens pattern!
It was stuck in the couch between the arm and the bottom cushion. I was in the process of making a stitch marker and dropped it down there. When I reached down to get it, voila!

Friday, March 02, 2007

JF and I "felted together" last weekend. It was a bonding experience. I bought 5 skeins of Paintbox by Classic Elite Yarns. It is a "colorful merino wool" that "felts beautifully" per the label.
I decided I was going to make a proper knitting bag for JF. I wanted to do this right so we conducted a little experiment. We knit several different swatches of the yarn. We tried 3 different sizes of needles: size 11's as indicated on the label:
Size 13's:

and size 17's (no 15's were available so we jumped up a size):

We took turns knitting a swatch in each size. I did the stockinette stitch swatches with a garter border and JF did all garter. I just made one swatch on the 17's as it was getting to be a lot of swatches! Here they all are in their pre-washed states:

As you can imagine we needed some sort of system so that we would be able to identify which swatch was which once they had been washed. As there was no shortage of stash yarn lying around JF cut a small piece of 5 different yarns and knotted one onto the corner of each swatch. Then I measured each one and wrote down all the information in this chart:

After all that preparation the time had finally come to actually wash them. Since we were at JF's parents' house we took advantage of the "free" washing machine. We put all the swatches into a lingerie bag and put them in the machine with a pair of jeans. First we washed it on the lightly soiled cycle checking on it every five minutes. We found the agigation phase of this cycle didn't last very long. Then we washed it on the heavily soiled cycle to get the most agigtation. And here are the results. First the size 11's:

Then the size 13's:
And finally the size 17 swatch:

Here they are all posing together:

It was interesting to hold each swatch and get a feel for the relative stiffness of it depending on the needle size. I liked the look of the stockinette swatches better since they were smoother but JF preferred the garter since there was more surface area to felt.

After they had dried I remeasured all the swatches. Then I calculated the percentage of shrinkage lengthwise and widthwise for each swatch and took an average of all the numbers. The numbers actually worked out pretty consistently. The swatches shrank by 1/4 widthwise and 1/3 lengthwise. So now everyone reading this can go out and buy this yarn with confidence knowing how much it's going to felt. You're welcome :-)

In other knews I recieved my Secret Feet partner today. We each knit each other a pair of socks then exchange them in two months. Of course the person you knit for isn't the same as the one who knits for you; otherwise it wouldn't be much of a secret! So I have her favorite colors and yarns and have to decide on a pattern. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to get too fancy. Otherwise I'll never get them done in time. I'm going to try to knit them together using Magic Loop. Penelope (no blog) demonstrated this to me and it didn't seem too difficult. She said the most difficult part was casting on then it's smooth sailing from there. To the sock yarn stash I go!