January 2005 Archives

This page is an archive of entries from January 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

December 2004 is the previous archive.

February 2005 is the next archive.

To Kitchener or Not to Kitchener?

To graph or not to graph?  That is the question.

I kitchenered.   I sat down with my copy of Vogue Knitting and followed the instructions.  The worst part of the kitchener stitch, in my opinion, was starting it.  Once I established the rhythm (knitwise, purwise, purlwise, knitwise, repeat) it was smooth sailing.


Not too bad for my first try, eh?

Washing Madness!!

While I was washing and blocking the cardigan, I also washed one of my sweaters.  I've had this sweater for a few years, and while I love wearing it, the wool is very scratchy.  The yarn should be called Jamieson's Scratchy Shetland, if this sweater's feel is any indication.  There has been lots of talk around the blogs about scratchy wools softening with a nice, warm bath.   Maybe that would work here.


[I can hear my mother, "You are showing them a picture of dirty laundry in the sink!  Oh my goodness!  Dirty laundry!]  It is my dirty laundry, I guess, but it's dirty laundry that illustrates my point.

While I keep my woollens clean, I'm not methodical about how I do that.  Clearly it's time to pay more attention to my washing methods.  I soaked the sweater in a sink of warm water, with a capful of Dr. Bonner's Lavender Castile Liquid Soap.  This stuff is very soft on my hands (in fact, I recommend it if you are looking for a mild soap).  Would it be as soft on my sweater?

The difference was noticeable immediately, and the wool stayed soft as it dried.  Before, I couldn't wear anything but a long-sleeve turtleneck underneath the sweater.  Now the sweater is much softer, and I don't have to worry about its edges touching my skin.  The feel of the yarn is almost silky; there's no more scratching.

Blocking Madness!!

I don't know if I can top yesterday's exciting unveiling of a sock heel, but I'll try.

With the completion of the right front of my cardigan, the knitting portion of this project is complete.  Yippee!!! [That's a little exciting, right?]

As any knitter knows, the knitting is only one part of process.  Blocking and seaming remain.


Last night I washed and blocked the cardigan's pieces.   I laid out the body on my homemade blocking board (thanks Dad!), and I used a towel for the sleeves.  I'm blocking only to flatten the pieces, not to enforce a size on them, so no pins are needed.

You know how everyone says to wash your gauge swatches before measuring?  Well, I should have done that for the cardi.  These pieces grew and grew!  Good thing that I knit this sweater slightly smaller than my actual size.  I had a hunch about the growing. 

Okay, no, I actually didn't have any hunches whatsoever.  I got lucky.

We Have Heel!

Before I worked the heel, I crawled into Alison's archives to see what she wrote about knitting the heel of this sock.  Good thing that I did, because I found this helpful link in the comments section.  Thanks Michelle! I was confused about the entire "backwards yarn-over" thing in the Interweave pattern.  It simply didn't make any sense.  When I try something new and confusing, I read different versions of instructions for the same technique.  Between the Interweave pattern, and Michelle's modified instructions, I was fine.  As you can see, it worked.


In case you were curious...

Cara tagged me yesterday.  I guess that makes me a real blogger :-).  That said, no one needs to send me the personal-care meme that's been floating around blogland.   That information is a  little too personal for my little corner of the internet.

1.  What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

0.0GB.  That means that I have no music files on my computer.  I make no apologies if that makes me boring!  When it comes to technology, I'm all over the new-fangled communication devices, but less eager with the entertainment devices.  I suspect it will be years before I get an iPod.

2.  What was the last CD you bought?

Let's change this question to ask about the last CD that I received.  Last week I discovered Passenger.  Its drummer, Jimmy Hiatt, goes to the same gym as I do and he gave me a copy of their latest CD, Better Days.  Here's the website; tell 'em Subway Knitter sent you.

CD buying is one thing I can eliminate easily from my spending habits, and I do so often.  I haven't bought a CD for myself in a couple of months.  There's a little thing called a "yarn budget" ya know.

3.  What was the last song you last listened to before reading this message?

I assume that the "thumpa-bumpa-WHOOMP" seeping from the earphones of the person next to me on the Orange Line doesn't count.

Last night I was listening to Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" [Die Kunst Der Fugue for all you German speakers out there].  Not a song exactly, but certainly a piece of music.

4.  Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.  Gosh, there are so many songs that can immediately put me somewhere else.  Here are five that are part my current rotation (in no particular order):

  1. "Céu da Minha Rua" by Amália Rodrigues. My friend Ali introduced me to Fado a couple of years ago, and I find Amália's voice to be beautifully powerful.
  2. "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning", sung by David Olney on a folk compilation entitled Sunday Morning Sessions.  I bought this used several years ago at Dynamite Records in Northampton, Massachusetts.
  3. "Darlin' Cora" sung by Harry Belafonte on Belafonte at Carnegie Hall.  I found this CD in a in a curbside stack on my street.  No idea what the CDs were doing there and most of them were junk, except for this one.  I couldn't let it get away.
  4. "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" sung by Marvin Gaye.   One day during a fit of why-don't-I-do-this-more-often I went out and bought the re-released What's Going On.  Who-boy, I didn't regret that purchase for a moment.
  5. "Dig My Grave" sung by Chaim Tannenbaum, Dane Lanken, Kate and Anna McGarrigle.  I love the vocal harmonies in this song.  I first heard it in 1999 during a concert at Harvard's Memorial Hall featuring Kate and Anna McGarrigle, along with their friends and family.  It was the first concert that I didn't want to end.

5.  To whom will you pass the stick, and why? (Sorry, I had to correct the case of that pronoun, and eliminate the dangling preposition.)

I'm taking the opportunity to give this meme to three people who don't know me from Adam, people whom I'm unlikely to meet in real life.  They post often, and I don't think this will be too much of a burden.  Based on their blogs, they seem pretty darned cool.

  1. Laurie  (She has a "Fight Anti-Intellectualism button on her blog. Right on, grrl!)
  2. Madalyn (She totally confirmed that I'm not the only one with a sheet-protector fetish.)
  3. Jody (She shared a great sock pattern with me recently. Thanks!)

I hope that they don't hold this against me :-).

BONUS QUESTION (I added it) 6.  What is one song or album that you should listen to more often, or an album that you don't have and you should?

Come Away with Me by Norah Jones.  I really like a couple of these songs.  I don't know what's keeping me from buying the darned CD, especially when it's only $9.99 on Amazon, and I do have a birthday coming up shortly....

Hey!  This was fun.

A Scarf to Match

How can this scarf be the season's first?  What have I been doing all winter?  Using my leftover Classic Elite Gatsby, I'm making a scarf for my Dad to match his hat.  As per usual when I make a scarf, I'm worried that this one will be too narrow.  Then again, I don't want it to be too wide.  I think this will be okay once it's blocked:


I'm very pleased with the way the bold lines of the mistake rib seem to highlight the yarn's tweedy-ness.  This is nice, big, mindless knitting for the subway.

Time to Start the Heel

First: thank you to everyone who responded to my question about heel shaping last week, and to everyone who would have responded, if the question hadn't been answered already.  Our community of knitbloggers is so helpful. 

I thought I would post one final picture of my sock, before I drop off into the abyss of heel turning.  This is my last post as someone who has never turned a heel.  After this heel turning will become a non-newsworthy event in my life.


Oh, what am I carrying on about about?  As Valentina says, socks are nothing but a tube with a hiccup in the middle.  I like her description of it, because it takes all the trepidation out of heel turning.  I can do this!

More Cardigan (or Virtual Knitsmiths)

While the snow was flying outside, my needles were flying inside.  It was because of that snow that Knitsmiths was canceled (I know that's the way Americans should spell that word, but "cancelled" looks so much better to me.) yesterday, so consider this post as a substitute for my weekly fix of knitting and gabbing.


It was a productive afternoon, and I am ready to shape the armhole.  I like this part quite a bit.  There's always lots to do, binding off, decreasing, measuring, etc.  All of those knitting skills coming together to make that important sweater feature: the armhole.

The anticipation is killing me.  I'd better get knitting!

More Sock!

[Unless something changes with the weather and road conditions, I can't imagine how I'll make it to Knitsmiths this evening :-(.  Shucks!  I was really looking forward to going.  I miss you guys :-(.]

Thank you everyone for indulging me by reading post after post about minute progress in sock knitting.  I am thoroughly enjoying this project, and I appreciate your comments and encouragement, especially as I approach the heel.

The ribbing is finished:


I like the very subtly spiral effect that is developing with the purple.  It's not too obvious, and I worried that I'd get no striping or other sort of pooling in this yarn.

Of course, I'm not the only one blogging about socks.  Go look at the wonderful vertical stripes that Julia has in her latest knit.

Half-Way There!

I'm half-way though the bottom of the cardi front (By the way, is it "cardi", or "cardy"?  I've seen both.  "Cardi" makes more sense to me, because the word is the first two syllables of "cardigan", and "cardy" would mean "like a card".) 

I've knit this piece so many times it feels like an old friend.  Maybe the third time really is the charm, because it's been smooth sailing so far.


Compared to sock knitting, these needles feel huge, and every row makes noticeable progress.   It's a nice break for those times when I tire of the small needles.

Lookie Here!

The box was sitting on my chair when I arrived yesterday morning.  Finally!  It's my yarn that I ordered two weeks ago from Herrschners.


This was my first mail-order experience with the company.  I am completely spoiled by the stellar service I always receive from Lands' End, and my perspective may be slightly skewed by that.

It took ten business days for this yarn to arrive.  That's a long time.  Herrschners offers a rush service, for $7.00 additional.  I could not, however, justify a $17.95 shipping and handling charge to receive the yarn in three business days.  So, the choice was to wait a long time, or to pay more money.  I chose the wait over the additional cost.  That was my choice, and I acknowledge that. 

We're only talking about yarn here, so a long shipping time is nothing but an inconvenience to an impatient person like myself.  Maybe I complain too much.

Other than that, my experience was fine.  The colorway matches the swatch in the catalogue and on the website.  The catalogue swatches are small; the website offers the opportunity to pull up a larger swatch.

Would I order again?  Only if the price was fantastic I couldn't find the yarn locally (both conditions were met in this situation).  I would not depend on the company as a substitute LYS.  I noticed that Herrschners carried Addi Naturas, which I cannot find locally, so the next time I'm shopping for needles (and I can wait two weeks) I'll order.

The Sock Grows

"Enough already with the eye candy!" you shout.  "What's happening with your knitting?"

The first of Priscilla's Dream Socks continues to grow and grow.  I'm almost done with the ribbing:


To paraphrase one commenter from last week, I've certainly hit my double-point groove.  The K2P2 ribbing is a rhythmic stitch pattern, and the constant shifting with the DPNs keeps it from becoming monotonous.

The heel gets closer to knitting reality, and I have one question for experienced sock creators.  As I'm working across, the instructions indicate that I need to work to a certain point then turn (as you would, with short rows).  The instructions do not indicate if I need to wrap any stitches.  Is the stitch wrapping implied because of the short rows, or is the step not required because of the yarn overs?  Thanks!

Interweave Previews

As much as I like Vogue Knitting's latest, I'm also looking forward to receiving the next edition of Interweave Knit.  When I look at these things I'm in a would-I-knit-this-for-me mindset (selfish I know).  Take a look (if you please) and see what you think.

Here's what I'm putting on my Possible Knits list (held on my Palm, of course).


This (for Matt, or my Dad):


More socks (if I finish the first pair):


Finally, thinking ahead to summer (ah, summer):


But, if I'm planning  something like this, I think that I'd rather make Madeleine from Marta.

Other Progress

I'm slowing making my way through the reknitting of the cardigan's  right front.  A couple of hours at Starbucks got me this:


This piece almost feels like mindless knitting to me, because I've knit this so many times already.  The pattern, however, is very close to me.  No silly mistakes this time!

Vogue Knitting

I was pleasantly surprised with the latest edition of Vogue Knitting, which arrived in my mailbox late last week.  The last few issues hadn't rocked my world, in any appreciable way, but this one was different.  Not only did I notice the V-neck on the back cover (that's in a Classic Elite advertisement, so it can't truly be considered a part of the magazine), there were other sweaters that I'd consider knitting.




This cute twinset is a classic (I'd lengthen the shell):


All good reasons to keep my subscription up to date.

Dad Gets a Hat

I think my dad likes his hat:


What do you think?  Dad was a very good sport and instantly agreed to pose for a big picture on the front page of the internet (as if....)  What a guy! 

This was my knit for the Men in Hats Knit-along, over at Madalyn's.  I'm finished!  Even though I knit this hat the same way as Matt's, I used about a third less yarn.  That means that there's enough left over for a scarf, or matching mittens. 

My dad selected the scarf :-).

I "heart" DPNs

Does that make me a weirdo?

I surprise myself with my fond feelings toward DPNs. Last year about this time I was cursing them to you-know-where.  What happened?   I don't know, but I'll take it :-).

As I'm enjoying my needles, I'm also making progress on my sock cuff.  Again, I'm using Priscilla's Dream Sock Pattern, from the subscribers-only section of Interweave Knits.  It's a simple sock with a ribbed cuff, that's letting my Koigu shine.


Final Sale!

The Wild & Woolly sale was actually quite tame :-).  I arrived in Lexington at 7:00 on the dot, after braving the morning rush on 128 (People do that every day! It amazes me.)

There were lots of interesting bags on the sale floor (literally, the sale bags were on the floor) but I managed to stick with the one that said "Knit me!" the loudest:P1010031_2

15 balls of Tahki Yarn's New Tweed, in a sky-blue colorway.  I'm planning a warm sweater in spring colors (maybe one of these, from the back cover of the latest Vogue Knitting).  It will be perfect for those early spring days when the calendar says "Spring!" but the thermometer says "Nope, winter!"

Alison and Shannon were much more creative with their purchases.  I hope that they blog about their plans for the new yarn, because I can't wait to see the results.

Sock Swatching

Fear not, Valentina, it's your turn today.

I feel like I'm getting left in the dust over at the Knit-a-Long-Sock Knit-along.  I've got work to do!

Here's my Koigu swatch.  Fellow subway riders cast quizzical glances at me and my knitting during the last couple of days.  This being Boston, however, no one bothered to ask what I was doing.  They just stared at the four needles.


I'm knitting Priscilla's Dream Socks from the members-only section of Interweave Knits.  I like Interweave's patterns, and I've had my eye on this one for some time.

Coincidentally, Alison knit the same socks not too long ago.  I liked the way her socks turned out, but I remember that she had some frustrations with the pattern.  Oh dear!  Should I rethink this?

These are my first socks.  Before I cast on a single stitch, I will sit down with the pattern, read it, and understand it.

I better get a move on!  I have to be in Lexington for 7:00.  It's the first day of the Wild & Woolly sale.  Will I see you there?  Those of us who don't have to dash off somewhere afterwards can meet up at the Peet's Coffee on Mass. Ave. for a coffee and some knitting.

Third time's the Charm?

I present to you the right front of my cardigan!


"Um, Colleen?  Those cold meds must be going to your head," you say.  "Those are just balls of yarn."

Yeah, okay, well it was the right front until I ripped it out.

It was an experiment gone wrong.  When I cast on for the cardigan's right front, I cast on five extra stitches, thinking it would help center the button band.  What I didn't think of at the time was the neck shaping.  Those extra stitches would make the neck opening wider on the right than on the left.  Just writing about it now makes it seem so stupid.  Of course the extra stitches would alter the width of the piece!

So, it was off to the frog pond with me.  This will be the third attempt at knitting this piece of the cardigan.  I can take comfort in the fact that I'm not alone, we've all been there. 

I certainly won't make this mistake again.  Why repeat a mistake twice, where there are so many other new mistakes waiting to be made ?

Subway Knitter Trend Report


Before I get too far along with my hat, I thought I'd check out what my fellow Men-in-Hats alongers were making for their manly chapeaux.  Does my Dad's knit have any similarities to what's out there, hat-wise, for the fashion-conscious male of 2005?

It seems like ribby hats are THE hat to have this season.  Kris finished hers just before Christmas.  Gina finished her hat on Sunday.  It's so cute!  I like the stripes because they're a simple way to match a hat to a coat, support the team, or just make a dandy combination of two shades that you know will look good on the wearer.  I don't see that Katy is done with her hat just yet, but she's given me a new adjective: sucktacular.  That's funny!  Does the OED know about it?

Then again, Linda did this fabulous Fair Isle knit for her husband.  Not too shabby!

Unfortunatly, I didn't see an abundance of ear-flap hats.  It's a good thing that my Dad has a style all his own. He isn't easily swayed by fashion trends; he moves to his own beat.  Dad wanted earflaps, and earflaps he will get.

Knittin' along

My knit-along hostesses probably think that I'm a big slacker.  Not a single post about anything knit-along related has appeared on this blog since I joined.  Well, even though things seem to be jumping at the Very Long Knit-Along Sock, that one doesn't officially start until 15 January.  I'm safe there.  The Men-in-Hats Along is another story.

Well, Madalyn, today I have something for you!

Let's put the cardigan to the side for a few days.  It's not misbehaving, I just need to look at a different yarn for a while.  My Classic Elite Gatsby was patiently waiting to be knit.


At Knitsmiths today, I started Dad's hat.  With Matt's hat I confirmed that my gauge changes when I knit in the round.  I noticed it in previous knit-in-the-round projects.  No matter how much I checked my gauge with a flat swatch, the finished project would always be bigger than I expected.

This time, instead of swatching, I simply measured the gauge of Matt's hat.  Sure enough, I went from 3.25 stitches per inch in my flat swatch, to 2.75 stitches per inch in the finished object.  That's a whopping half stitch per inch!  No wonder I was having sizing problems.

We'll see if I get more exact sizing this time.

Knitting Light?

It's always interesting to me when interests I have collide in ways I hadn't anticipated.  I received the most recent issue of Cooking Light magazine last week.   In between the pages of healthy, tasty recipes, I noticed this:


What's an article about knitting doing in a magazine about cooking?  I guess the point is to illustrate that life is not all about food (What! It's not? Are you sure?), and the article seems to be first in a series about interesting hobbies.

Of course, there is the requisite shot of happy knitters.  What do you think?  Are they actually knitting?  From their expressions, they look as if they were sharing a joke just as the picture was snapped.  Wonder what it was.


Do you think that they'd like to come to Knitsmiths?

Sleeve Island

I've resisted posting about them earlier because sleeves are just so boring.  How much can you really write about them?  Look, I knit an inch!  Hey, here's another!  Say it with me, "BOR-ing."  Even the photo is quite uninspiring.  Yawn....


In spite of this, every cardigan must have sleeves.  Let's hope that this will be the first and only post about the sleeves for this cardigan.  Fingers crossed....

I'm knitting both sleeves at the same time, using two balls of yarn.  A few months ago, I saw Johanna using this technique for her Purple Ox sweater.  What a great idea, I thought to myself.  That way, I'll know that both sleeves are the same length, the cap shaping will be identical, and (probably most importantly) both sleeves will be finished at the same time.  Johanna said that she doesn't thing doing both sleeves simultaneously takes more time than doing both separately, and I agree.

As you may know, sleeves go on forever, then suddenly they're almost finished.  Melanie just returned from her latest trip to Sleeve Island with her Rogue sleeves.  That's where I am right now, and I can't wait to return to the mainland.


If the comments I received (either on this blog or in person) to my first post on the subject are any indication, quite a few bloggers are also handheld owners.  Some of you are newbies to the world of handhelds, like myself.  I'm curious to know how all of you are applying your PDAs to your knitting.  Has anyone downloaded the knitting applications from PalmSource.com?  Has anyone created a different program or system for yarn, pattern, or needle tracking?  Would you care to share it?

I've done a few things Palm-wise since my first post.  With the Memo function I created a list of patterns I'd like to knit in the future (with yarn requirements, and gauge information) and another list of the yarn purchases (which, as you may have read, is becoming surprisingly long).  With Excel, I started a simple spreadsheet for my needles.  So far, these are simple solutions that work for me.

I've created a new sidebar link section: "Knitting Resources for your PDA".  It's just below the "Technical Assistance" section.  You can see the links that I have.  If you have addtional ones, please let me know.  I'd love to add them.  Of course, if you do contribute, you'll receive full credit as the source.

Seamingly Beautiful

C'mon.  You knew there had to be a pun one of these days :-).

As reported in yesterday's post, last night was the final session in Circles finishing workshop series.  Believe me, it was well worth the $25.

This post will not adequately express the joy (yes, pure knitting joy) I felt upon creating my first invisible seam.   Look:

No more fudging!  Do you see the color of the seaming yarn?  It's purple.  Do you see the color of the stockinette?  It's blue.  In spite of that, you can't see the seam; it's truly invisible.

Lest you think that seaming vertical stockinette was all that we did, I'm also skilled with seaming horizontal to vertical stockinette (as in sleeves to a sweater body), reverse stockinette seaming, and attaching garter-stitch pieces (in all directions).  I just don't want to bore you with picture after picture of, yup, you guessed it, beautiful seams.

Finishing no longer seems (ahem) the daunting task it once was, and that's such a relief to me.

Thank you Allison for taking the stress out of finishing!

I think that I can confidently say:  Finisher

(Thanks Moon Arts!)

In other news, a catalogue from Herrschners somehow wended its way into my mailbox recently.  I was idly flipping through it last night and holy cow!  Most of the time mail-order yarn is not my thing (you can't feel the yarn before buying, and it's bad for your LYS) but I haven't been able to find a particular colorway of this yarn in sufficient quantities at my usual local yarn haunts.

Whoops!  Looks like someone is growing a stash.  This means that I'd better get back to my knitting.

No More Faking


My swatches are done and the Jack Frost looks tired.  These swatches are for the second session in the finishing-skills workshop series tonight at Circles.  (There's still time to register. Give Allison a call if you're interested.)  My seaming skills are far from what you might call "good".  Sometimes I think I could do a better job with a stapler than with a tapestry needle and strand of yarn :-).

When I see mattress stitching like Amy's, I have finishing envy.  She did a beautiful job on the side seams for her sweater.  Way to go Amy!

Well, I have fudged and faked it long enough; time for me to do something about it. That's why I signed up for this workshop.  I figure if Allison can teach me how to resize a pattern using my rusty old algebra, then she can also teach me how to make an invisible seam.  She's got her work cut out for her, let me tell you.

Dad Wants a Hat

My father saw Matt's hat over the Christmas weekend, and he wanted one for himself.  So, I took his measurements, left him with yarn-buying instructions, and he and my mother went off to WEBS.  They delivered this to me on Saturday:


It's more of the Classic Elite Gatsby that I used for Matt's hat in my second-choice colorway (well, it was a second choice for me, Matt never had any doubts about which colorway he wanted to use).


So, I have another chance to knit with this lovely, soft yarn, another opportunity to work with a pattern that I enjoy, and an excuse to join another knit-along.  Good deal!

A new place to KIP

My neighborhood has a new café that opened a few weeks ago, Java Jo's Coffeehouse.  I love to sit with a nice cup of coffee, watch some people, and knit a bit.  What with the holiday rush, I didn't get a chance to stop by until last night.  Well, I'm pleased to report that it's a good environment for café knitting: good lighting, nice music, friendly staff, and clean tables.  Even better: it's on my walking route home from the subway station.  I'll be a regular customer.


I have the second session in Circles's finishing workshop series on Wednesday, so I needed to get a few more swatches prepared.

Never too old for a Handknit

Does my grandmother rock, or what? Grandma made sure that I didn't leave without a few handknits to take with me.  First, there were new mittens in this zany variegated colorway.  (I think I have a striped afghan with this yarn in it.)


Then, these new slipper socks.  Yay! 


I love these socks for padding around the apartment at night; they're so warm and comfortable.  I've had several pairs which I completely wore out.  Grandma used to make these for us grandkids, so she's either resized the pattern, or there's an adult size out there.

Bring on the winter weather, because I'm ready!

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a knit-filled 2005....


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