March 2005 Archives

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

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

April 2005 is the next archive.

I knit because...

I enjoy it.  As Margene is so fond of writing, "it's the process."  I also enjoy the finished objects and the oohs and ahhs from friends and family, but more importantly the act of knitting is rewarding for me.

In yesterday's New York Times Carol Lee wrote a brief survey of knitting from the late 19th century to today (the piece is here, but registration--it's free--is required).  Not a surprise: over time knitting's popularity has experienced many peaks and valleys.

We're at one of those peaks right now.  As you might know, quite a few Hollywood stars are knitting and purling until the their fingers turn blue (and that's not from the bad Kool-Aid dye job).  Apparently, when Hollywood does something, that something becomes very cool.  (Guess what, kids?!  I'm cool!  Who knew?) 

In fact the author of this editorial is so impressed by all of us knitters that she's thinking of taking up knitting, just to keep up with the trends.  How, um, trendy.

I wonder how long a knitter will last if he or she is doing it only to keep up with a style.  Where will the breaking point be?  When will the needles be thrown down in disgust, never to be picked up again?  Mine would have been the first time that I needed to change yarns.  And yours?

Although, perhaps Ms. Lee will discover that it is, indeed, all about the process.

In the Clear?

Do you think that Boston will see any more of these this season?

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Let's hope not.  Come on Spring!  I'm ready.

Yarn Supply (and one more thing)

I am completely flabbergasted by all of the kind words everyone has had for my sweater and its pattern.   Those of you who wrote that you too wanted to knit one, have flattered me beyond words.  To all: thank you!

If you are searching for more Tahki New Tweed in its old fiber configuration (old New Tweed, I guess).  Chris forwarded me this link from Rosie's Yarn Cellar.  [Chris said that she already ordered her yarn, so I have no worries that I'm scooping her on her find.]  Even better, the yarn is on sale!  I have no affiliation with Rosie's Yarn Cellar, or Tahki Stacy Charles, I simply know good yarn when I feel it.

One more thing: if you have a blogger-powered blog, leaving comments on it has been impossible for me.  And, there's a lot that I want to say :-).  What gives?

I Love Stockinette!

It's true.  Knitting stockinette for mile after mile might be a little bit boring, but as far as stitches go, its look is my favorite.

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Ready for a Quickie?

Happy Easter everyone, if you are celebrating.  If you're not celebrating, kick back with some jelly beans and enjoy the lovely day we're having in the Northeast US.

Because I suspect that blog reading will be at a minimum today, I'm presenting a simple, quick sewing project that is a great way to use up a length of leftover fabric.

First, grab your fabric and your sewing machine.  I was lucky enough to score a piece of crushed velvet in a deep red from Dana at the Knitsmiths' swap last week.  How long and wide should your fabric be?  You be the judge.  I wanted a shawl/scarf, so the amount of material I had (it was probably about five feet long, and 45 inches wide) was perfect.

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Next, press some hems around the edges.  How wide?  I don't know.  Do whatever suits you.

Then, with right sides together, sew the thing like a pillowcase, leaving one side open.  Turn the piece right side out, and sew the last side shut. 

Done and done!

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Look, it's a shawl!

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Now it's a scarf!  I know that Christmas is months and months away, but this would be a great, crafty idea for anyone on your list.

Thanks Dana!

How do you Learn to Read Charts?

You write some of your own.

I guess that I learn best by example.  I understood chart reading in theory, but in practice I still prefered line-by line instructions.  Not so anymore!  I love chart reading.  I can see exactly how a row should be worked, and understand the logic behind a stitch pattern, quite quickly.

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This is how I have been using the Lambs Pride superwash yarn that I got at the Knitsmiths' swap last weekend.  I have a few ideas kicking around in the ol' noggin that need fleshing out.  A sketch grew into a chart, which morphed into another chart, which might result in a design.  We'll see.

The Pattern....

is here!  Just remember, this pattern is for personal use only.  No one should sell this pattern, or sell any garment produced with this pattern.  Hey, if I'm not making any money from this, no one should be making any money from this :-).

Remember PDA users: you can download the pattern into your handheld.

*Blush* I'm so flattered by all of your compliments on my sweater.  Thank you!

Good Friday

It is a good Friday, indeed, because I can report that my sweater pieces seamed together perfectly!

Here's what the sweater looked like about a third of the way through, with one shoulder in place, and one side seam together.

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This was simply beyond words exciting!  In a burst of excited energy, I seamed, and seamed, and seamed some more.  Result:

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Yup, I love it.  After washing, the Tahki New Tweed became even softer and took on a very light drape.  It's perfect for this sweater.   Although Merino wool composes 70 percent of the fiber blend (with the remaining 30 percent being 15 percent silk, 11 percent cotton, and 4 percent viscose), the knitted fabric feels like linen.  I had no idea that the yarn would have these qualities, and I could not have made a better choice for this knit.  Can you tell that I love this yarn as much as the sweater I knit with it?

Maybe you'll want to knit this sweater too?  Check back later today for the pattern.

NOTE: Apparently, Tahki Stacy Charles changed the composition of the New Tweed and reduced the amount of yarn in each ball.  According to the company's website the yarn now comprises 60 percent wool, 26 percent viscose, and 14 percent silk.  Rats!  I can't say how the changes in fiber composition would affect the fabric's feel and appearance.

On the Block

Here's my sweater, laid out and drying on my blocking board:

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When I laid out the pieces I measured them to make sure that they dried to the dimensions I specified in my initial calculations.  This was the first time that I did that, and now I know why I struggle with sizing and fit.  In previous knits I suspect that I laid out the pieces slightly stretched, so they dried larger than I expected.

It took a long time to lay out and size the pieces.  I am doing a sort of double block (my term) when I laid out identical pieces on top of each other.  Their sizes will match, although the drying time will be slightly longer.  March in Massachusetts is not what I'd call humid, so I'm not too worried.

I cannot wait to seam!

Pretty in Picot

I like this picot bind off even more than I thought that I would:

Picotpicture

It looks a little like a ruffle in its pre-blocked state.  When I began this project, I conceived ruffled edges for the body and sleeves.  Perhaps this was inspired by the finished Cheesylove on Jstrizzy's blog (click here for the FO pick).  When, however, I swatched for my project, I quickly discovered that the line created by that ruffle would be too severe for the look I had in mind.

Thank you for all of your input and suggestions for sequencing the bind off.  I decided to do the picot with the same size needle (US 8) that I used for the body, and do it before I blocked and seamed.  A US 10 would have been too big, and I don't seem to possess a US 9.  The bigger needles would have been to difficult to jam into the stitches, anyway.

I'm happy that I decided to do the bind off before I blocked.  Look at how the bind off curls.  That will definitely be fixed with a nice lie-in on my blocking board.

Speaking of Knitty, shouldn't the spring edition be arriving soon?

When the Knitsmiths Have a Swap,

...you never know what you might find.

There was a load of great stuff at the Knitsmiths annual spring swap.  I had two ground rules: one, I would take nothing for which I could not instantly conceive a project, and two, no more than two projects' worth of yarn.  Come on, how much knitting can one woman really do?

Here are my choices:

First, some stretchy crushed-velvet in a deep red from Dana.  Mmmm, that's a shawl waiting to happen.  It's a good Easter weekend, hanging-out-at-my-parents', project.

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Then, there was some cotton-y khaki, blue, and pink yarn from Gina (click on the link to look at Gina's oh-so-cute baby Ugg booties).  There's enough to do a cute cropped cardi, or a tank, or a pullover.  I'm going to swatch first, and let the yarn inspire me.

Finally, I picked up some Lambs Pride Superwash that I've already begun to swatch.

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"Wait," you say.  "That's three projects."  Good point, and one that I had not considered until writing this sentence.

Another thing I like about the swap (besides all of the great yarns on offer) is seeing what others take.  I can't wait to see what Johanna, Alison, Shannon, and Amber do with their stash additions.

It's All Over...

...but the edging, blocking, and seaming:

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Provisional Cast On

As knitting continues on the second V-neck sleeve, I know that I approach an important knitting decision (IKD).

Provisional

I plan to use a picot bind off to edge the bottoms of the sleeves and the body of my V-Neck.  To do that, I began my knitting with a provisional cast on.  When I'm ready, I simply slip a needle through the bottom row of stitches, pull out the crocheted chain that I used for the cast on, and I'm ready to go.

I've seen so many cute examples of picot edgings out in blogland that it wasn't a difficult sell for my V-neck.  Picot edgings are so springy and cute--very feminine, without being overly fru-fru.  I knew early on that it would be the perfect compliment to the shape of this project.

My IKD concerns the timing of edging.  To make said IKD, I need to answer the following questions:

Do I do the picot edging before or after I block?

If I edge after I block, do I do the edging before or after I seam together the pieces of the sweater?

On a related IKD note:

Should I do the edging with a needle one (or two?) sizes larger than the needle size I used to knit the sweater body?

Any and all comments and advice would be appreciated.

This week's KIP

In honor (honour?) of St. Patrick's Day, I give you the latest installment of KIP, Boston style:

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The Greenhills Bakery (motto: Freshness and Quality) at 780 Adams Street in the city's Dorchester neighborhood was packed on Thursday morning.  In spite of the throngs of Bostonians seeking their loaves of soda bread, I was still able to find a seat for a little KIP after my scone and coffee.  I think this qualified as the best scone I have ever eaten in Boston, or anywhere else for that matter.  If you're ever in Boston, make the effort to pay a visit.

The knitting wasn't too bad, either.

Now, in honor of St. Joseph's Day, go eat a zeppole!

Now Arriving on Sleeve Island...

...is our friend Subway Knitter.

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Yes, readers, this second sleeve is feeling a bit too Sleeve Island-y for my liking.  Now, granted, the first sleeve went lickety-split because I had tons of knitting time during last weekend's rain/slush/snow storm.   Let's not forget the long stretch of knitting time during Sunday's knitting group.   Suffice it to say I had a lot of time to knit last weekend.  Last Sunday, the Circles' Sunday group kindly hosted a few of us Knitsmiths refugees while Brookline Booksmith renovated its Used Book Cellar.

This week, of course, I haven't been so blessed with knitting time.  No big deal, and I have to remember that it's not a race against time.  The sleeve will get finished, and pretty quickly.  It just won't be as quickly as the first one.

Now, I knew if I invested the time to knit both sleeves at the same time (which, as Johanna and I have discussed, seems like a lot less time than knitting both separately) I knew that somehow, somewhere my calculations of sleeve decreases or cap shaping would have been wrong.  If , however, I didn't knit both sleeves at once everything would be okay.

So, does that make me a pessimist or a realist?

Sleeve Success!

Yesssss!  I could not hide my glee when I discovered that my sleeve-cap calculations were correct.  The cap fits!  I should have more faith in my math.

Here is my sleeve in all its unblocked glory:

Sleevecap

I made two slight modifications as I was knitting.  First, I eliminated two decreases from the wrist area and moved them to the cap.  Then, I followed Jody's advice for the final bind off rows.  I think that this made the top slightly smoother.

Maybe this can be my Easter sweater, after all.

May I be among the first to wish you all a happy Evacuation Day!   Boston still celebrates a Revolutionary War-era holiday that conveniently coincides with St. Patrick's Day.  I have the day off work.  Very convenient, indeed!

Update!

My cardigan pattern modifications are now available in PDF format.  Thanks to the very-wonderful Shannon, I can now offer the cardigan in a more universal format.

Thank you for your help, Shannon, you rock!

Click here for the PDF version of A Big Collared Cardigan.

Sleeve me Alone

Last weekend's weather was perfect for knitting.  If you live in New England, you know exactly why it was perfect stay-inside-with-tea-and-yarn time.  If you don't live in New England, just imagine: first rain, then wet snow.  Got that image?  Good.

I cast on for the first of my V-neck sleeves.  Usually I do both sleeves at once.  Because, however, I am unsure about my design for both the bell shape and the sleeve cap, I'm knitting each sleeve individually.  I want to travel light just in case I I am called away to The Pond (and you know to which pond I refer).

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Laying it out like this makes me excited to get the sleeve finished and see if my calculations worked.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Notes on a Sweater

After a few weeks of wear, I'm ready to release notes on my February cardigan.  As some may recall, I extensively modified a very basic cardigan pattern I received at WEBS.  The oh-so-helpful Jill at WEBS produced a pattern for me with the Sweater Wizard software.  My version adjusts for a different gauge; and includes ribbing, waist shaping, and a nifty collar.

Cardi

If you decide to knit this pattern, please let me know if you have any questions or problems with my modified instructions.  As I note at the bottom of each page, this pattern is for personal use only.  You can neither sell the pattern, nor can you sell any garment produced from this pattern.

A Big-Collared Cardigan (48.5K)


It's the Process, Right?

That's what I continued repeating to myself last night, as I began to shape the other side of the V-neck.

For some reason, a giant gap developed at the base of the V-neck, between the first and second stitches.  What happened?

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The short answer is that I don't know.  Not a very good answer if I'm designing this pattern with the expectation that one or two other people might want to knit it also.  The gap could have something to do with the K2Tog that I did just before I separated the two sides.  I did a K1, Sl1, PSSO.  Was the increase leaning the wrong way?  Maybe a simple K2Tog would have prevented the gap.  Maybe I should have left well enough alone and skipped the K2Tog completely.

All night that gap stared at me, while I continued to work and contemplated how to close it.  Claudia always seems to boss her knitting around successfully, and I took inspiration from that.  I grabbed my yarn needle and a small length of yarn and cinched a couple of loops together on the back.  Some knitters have a problem with using knots in their work.  I, fortunately, do not.

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Order and discipline was restored in Knitting Land, but I'm still bothered that I needed to do that in the first place.

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Café Knitter?

Maybe I should change the name of my blog.

It would not be too much of a stretch to say that I'm living in one of Boston's up-and-coming neighborhoods.  The type of commercial activity which you would expect in any decent urban area is slowly creeping into our corner of the city.  Our first café opened late last year.  The novelty of stopping there on my way home for an hour or so has not yet worn off, and I do so often.  I love knitting in public.  While I'm stitching away I can have a chat, listen to some music, watch people, or simply stare off into a space that is not my living room.

Last night I made some progress on the right side of my V-neck.

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Boo on Bernat! (and more sillies from my stats)

So, yesterday, Bernat released a free pattern that copies the poncho that Martha Stewart wore when she left prison last week.  Bernat advertised this as a "match" to Martha's poncho.

Someone (if you're a member of the list, sign in and you can access this link) on the Stitch-n-Bitch Boston  list (no membership required) pointed out that nowhere in the pattern was the actual designer, a woman who is an inmate in a Federal prison in the United States, credited.

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Now, if I designed a pattern that was a "match" for something that Bernat created (copyrighted or not) and released it as such, would I not (at least in spirit)  be stealing another person's intellectual property?  Regardless, I have no doubt that I'd be contacted by one of Bernat's lawyers rather quickly to discuss my "design".

Am I making too much of this?  I don't think so.  Someone at that company should take the time to seek this woman's permission to use her idea and credit her as the designer of this poncho pattern.

And now for something completely different: apparently wool fetishes are a particularly European fixation, although not exclusively.  People have hit my site from Google.co.uk; .pt; ; .fr; .ru; .de; and .ca.  (Yes, I know that Canada is not in Europe.  We Americans are not completely hopeless in the geography department.)  All used the search term "wool fetish".  I don't understand it, but then that doesn't really matter.  Subway Knitter is one open-minded woman and welcomes one and all.  Sorry that my site was not exactly what you were looking for ;-).

Another Lesson

When you design, you should add the height of the neck to the height of the front when you begin the neck shaping to see if the equal the entire height of the piece.

I, apparently, did not do that when planned my V-neck shaping.  As I approached the final decrease, I noticed that my armhole looked long.  Too long.  Sure enough, I began the neck shaping about two inches too high on the front.  R-r-r-r-i-p.

Sorry, I have no pictures of the offending neck shaping.  I discovered the mistake yesterday afternoon, and spent my subway knitting time frogging.

Neck shaping is instant-gratification knitting; there's always so much happening that the rows go quickly.  Very soon, I was almost back to my pre-frogging point:

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Freedom

My obligation knitting (thanks Dava, for that term) is finished, and even I must say the result is very cute:

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Those birds have good reason to be leery.  I can't wait to get this thing in the mail!  I am truly not a baby knitter, unlike Shireen and Johanna.  Their stuff is always exceptionally cute and practical.

Progress

Thanks for your thoughts about my post yesterday.  Those who were both pro- and con-knitting made good points.  Just to clarify, I do not think that a concert is an appropriate venue for a full-out KIP, like I might do in a café, but certain situations could be okay for a quiet, inconspicuous lap project when I can keep my hands covered.

The caterpillar has gone off to sit on the finishing shelf until this evening, when I can attach the legs, stuff, and sew the ends together.

In other knitting news, I am working feverishly on the front of my V-neck.  Through two small, innocent errors (forgot one increase, and bound off one less stitch on an armhole) I ended up with 72 stitches instead of the required 70.  I fretted about this for a good while until I realized that I can simply slip in another decrease row.  No one will notice, and I'll be back at 70.  Whew!  That was a close call.

Speaking of no one noticing, please don't notice my dark photo.

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I'm a little disappointed with myself for not having caught those two mistakes (I thought that I was being extremely careful).  Lesson for the day: count, and count, and count again!

Strange Places Where I Have Knit

Last Saturday night, Matt and I attended a concert by Boston Baroque at the New England Conservatory of Music's Jordan Hall.  Before the concert, we were out and about in the neighborhood, and I had a small bit of knitting with me (the in-progress front of my V-neck).  Before the concert began, I knit in my seat.  When the concert began, I covered my lap with my shawl and continued to work while I listened to the performance.

Was this rude?  I'm not so sure.  My project was small; I didn't pull out a giant afghan, three big skeins of yarn and have at it.  I didn't drag a giant bag into the seats with me.  Everything fit comfortably on my lap.  My eyes didn't need to stray from the stage, and accept for the woman sitting next to me (a fellow knitter, who thought it was fine if I didn't cover up my work!) no one could have been distracted by what I was doing.

Certainly, my progress during the concert was not huge; I finished two increase repeats.  I let listening to the concert take priority, as was appropriate for the occasion.

I'm usually quite sensitive to what are acceptable activities in a particular surrounding, and I didn't think that quiet knitting like that would be objectionable.

Comments?  Opinions?  Was I going too far?

Metamorphosis

Through the magic of knitting patterns, this square will somehow become a caterpillar:

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Knitting this brought back memories of scarf knitting as a beginning knitter.  Miles and miles (kilometers if you're metric) of nothing by garter or stockinette.  Of course, not knowing any better, I was too intimidated to try anything more complex (or even be a little creative with the scarf).

This toy has to be finished and in the mail no later than Wednesday.  I better get going!

Surprises!

The doorbell rang yesterday afternoon.  It was our postman (yes, our postal carrier is a man, so I can very legitimately call him "our postman".) with a package.  A package for me!

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I become giddy with delight when I receive a package unexpectedly.   After thanking the postman, I raced back up the stairs with box in hand.  A package!  A package!  Look what I discovered inside:

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A box of beautiful notecards from none other than Cara!  Cara, some readers may remember, was up in Boston a little more than a week ago and we met for lunch.  I was sorry that I missed out on the afternoon's yarn-shopping adventures, but I needed to scurry back to my office to finish up a few things before I left for New York.

Cara, these photographs make me feel so good!  Spring is on its way!  Cara is a wonderful photographer; take a look at her work!

New York Knitting

I got quite a bit accomplished on the back of my V-neck during the bus ride to NYC.  My seatmate, Nathan, was extremely curious about my knitting, and it was all I could do to stop from giving him some needles and yarn and teaching him how to cast on (he was interested, but not THAT interested).

The four-hour block of knitting time ensured that I finished the back of the V-neck this week:

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So far, so good,  I love the feel of this yarn.  Can't wait to return to it as soon as I finish this baby gift.

An update on my Palm Pilot experiment: it is so easy to make pattern alterations, change wording for clarity.  I am loving this too.

I owe you all notes on my cardigan.  They are coming, trust me.

Does Stitchy Know?

Does Ms. McYarnpants know about this?

Fresh from this week's installment of the Knitter's Pattern-a-Day Calendar (or whatever it's called--personally I am ready to chuck the whole thing in the recycling bin) we have this:

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What the heck....  Did anyone in the marketing department do any research to determine what we knitters might actually want to knit?  Apparently not! 

Finally, may I just rant a bit?  It's not a pattern-a-day calendar when there is one page for both Saturday and Sunday, and at least one pattern a week continues over two days.  Let's call it the five-patterns-a-week calendar.

I'm Knitting Baby!

You know, I am simply not motivated to do a complicated baby knit for an upcoming baby shower.  This kid is getting a knitted toy, and that's it.  I've got a chunk of knitting stuff on my plate that needs to be moved before the spring knits can begin (ah, spring!)

Does that make me a selfish knitter?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.

From the cocoon of yarn emerges a caterpillar (I know, I know, it should be the other way around):

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The Lion Brand Wool-Ease is machine washable and dryable, and I'm using it for those reasons only.  I find that the yarn is quite splitty, and simply not as much fun to knit with as my Tahki New Tweed.

New York Report

[With apologies to Cassie] I saw them:

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I took some fiber home with me:

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Hey!  Where's the yarn?  Where are the buttons?  Did you buy any trim?  Weee-llll, in a word, "no".

I know, slap a big "L" on my forehead, and call me a "loser".

Frankly, I don't need any yarn, and I know enough about myself to know that stockpiling buttons and trim is a waste of time.  By the time that I get around to using any of the stuff, its appeal will have long worn off.

I do find New York to be an inspiring environment.  There is creativity oozing up from the sidewalks ("That's not creativity," a few of you remark.)  Well, I guess that I mean figuratively oozing.  This alone, was worth the trip.

Truly, there is almost nothing that I cannot find in one of Boston's many fine yarnshops.  Why deprive them of the business?  There will be other NY yarn-shopping opportunities (for those things that Beantown cannot provide); especially when it is so cheap, and so easy to get down there on the bus.  Next time, however, I will take Greyhound.  I don't believe in rewarding overbooking and a confusing ticketing system with my business.

Koigu's Dirty Little Secret

Valentina was right, Koigu is superwash!  Valentina, Ms. MeMoiJa mentioned this little tidbit in my comments, and I thought "nah, can't be."

Well, sure enough, she's right.  I put my socks into a cold-water wash, in a lingerie bag.  I washed on the normal cycle, with normal detergent.  They were none the worse for wear when I removed them from the machine.

Good to know, eh?


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