This weekend turned out to be an excellent drying weekend! My Venus dried quickly on Saturday.
I attached the shoulders with the three-needle bind-off (Why don't more patterns call for short-row shaping and the three-needle bind-off? They're both such easy techniques and the results look great.)
The great thing about tanks: no sleeves. Once I had the shoulders together all I needed to do was mattress stitch the side seams.
Ta-dah! Oh, it's not quite finished yet--there are still buttons to buy and sew to the front. I sense a trip to Windsor Button in my future.
Yesterday I visited my first every sheep and wool fair, Cummington. Matt, my parents, and I piled into a Subaru station wagon for the drive to the Cummington Fairgrounds. It is safe to say that I, Subway Knitter, had a posse.
It is also safe to say that Cummington is in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere. I am amazed at just how rural some parts of Massachusetts can be. Yet at the same time, these areas are not remote; you're never very far from civilization. This comes from someone who can find Boston to be a bit on the small side some days, so perhaps this city girl's perspective is a bit skewed.
Anyway, you aren't reading this blog to know more about the settlement patterns of my home state. "Tell us about the wool, Colleen," you plead. "Show us pictures of the sheep." Never being one to disappoint my readership, here ya go:
We're little Angora lambs, and we know we're cute.
I just got sheared, and I'm lookin' mighty fine!
Got any snacks?
I had a fabulous time looking at the sheep, walking around and talking to a few vendors. I didn't see any of my knitblogging buddies, although I saw evidence (a vendor's mailing list) that Amber had been by the booth earlier.
I highly, highly recommend this festival if you are nearby and looking for a day trip. Along with the sheep, there were two barns filled with vendor booths, and a few tents outside, but the size of the festival was not overwhelming. I even saw some sheep dogs in action:
I fondled some amazing yarns from small regional spinneries that you'd never find in even the best LYS. Delightfully, I discovered a yarn producer in Dorchester! Who would have thought? Of course, knowing that Dorchester Farms (the website listed on the business card is www.dorchesterfarms.com, but I don't think that's correct) is a local business, I couldn't avoid buying a few skeins of crazy sock yarn:
There were loads of other vendors of both yarn and spinning supplies. WEBS even sponsored a drop-in spinning center for anyone to give it a try. This was definitely a spinner's paradise, although we knitters had a great deal to choose from also. Here are my highlights:
Kay ten Kraft at Moonacres, 3077 Route 82, Pleasant Valley, NY 12569, 1-845-677-8394. No website. Email: kayten[at]earthlink[dot]net. Oh-so-soft hand-dyed merino and silk blends.
Snow Star Farm, Loveren Mill Road, Antrim, NH 03440, 1-603-522-2552. No website. Email: snowstar[at]tds[dot]net.
Foxhill Farm, P.O. Box 6, 380 Maple Street, Lee, MA 01238. 1-413-243-2558. No website. No email. Lovely, soft wools in natural and hand-dyed colors. Some very lovely variegated yarns, ala Noro.
Dorchester Farms, 8 Florida Street, Dorchester, MA 02124. No phone. Website (not funtioning): www.dorchesterfarms.com. Email: dorfarms[at]aol[dot]com.
Greenwood Hill Farm, 59 Brigham Street, P.O. Box 534, Hubbardston, MA 01452. 1-978-928-5175. Email: ghfmerinos[at]aol[dot]com. Super soft merino yarn.
Crippen Works, P.O. Box Y, Millerton, NY 12546. 1-518-789-6703. Email: kcrippenshapiro[at]taconic[dot]net. Fantastic fabric needle cases (for straights, DPNs, and circulars), and knitting bags, at surprisingly low prices. Kathy, I know that I could sew one myself, but I figure that by the time I figure out how much fabric to buy, measure, cut, and sew, I will have spent the same amount of money. Think of the knitting time that I've bought for myself :-).
I was surprised to note that many vendors had no web presence. Maybe it's easier to sell at these regional gatherings than to set up an e-commerce (isn't that term so 1999?) system. I don't know. Seems to me as if they are missing an opportunity.
After a couple of hours browsing, sheep-petting, and chatting, it was time to go. Will I go again next year? You bet!
There must be a song title with "Madeleine" in it, I simply cannot think of one at the moment.
So...with Venus under the knitting belt, it's time to move on to the next Rowan project: Madeleine. I spend a long time studying the pattern, making notes, and checking measurements.
I plan to change the collar. (Knit a pattern as written? Me? Never!) I thought long and hard about the turtleneck, and since I spend (what seems like) 90 percent of the year in heavy winter clothes, whenever possible I have to break out with lighter things.
A dramatic top like Madeleine deserves better than a simple round neck. I found the solution in 1000 Sweaters--the book I use when I need to find just the right garment detail:
A nehru collar, with its little slit in the front. What do you think?
I think that things look pretty good for a trip to Cummington later this morning.
Once I start shaping the slope of each of these front pieces, the knitting goes quickly. Suddenly, I was at the shoulder shaping, then suddenly I was done.
What else was left to do except block and seam?
I'll get to the seaming eventually, if this stuff ever dries. Is it just me, or do others remember a time when "May" meant "warm weather when you can dry things outside"?
The challenge with the ripping is the twisted stitches every other row. When I pick up a row with a needle, I have to make sure that I frog back to a purl row, so that the next row I work has the twist. Believe me, this just makes it easier.
I stopped off at my local café on my way home last evening. Over a steaming pot of herbal tea (steaming, because apparently it is still almost winter in Boston) I knit a bit on the right front of Venus:
Once the slanted bottom is finished, these pieces seem to go fast. Maybe the weather is waiting for me to finish my top. Better get knitting!
In case you were curious, it was this windy in Boston yesterday:
Just call me Swearing Subway Knitter. After reaching a pivotal point in my knitting, I paused to count my stitches. Count, count, count: 43. That's odd, because I should have 38; let me do that again. Yup, it's 43.
The knitting went back into the bag, where it would be safe from harm.
Isn't it funny how I immediately blamed the knitting? As if somehow five stitches magically appeared out of nowhere. When I ascertained that the knitting was not to blame, I shifted to the pattern. Nope, all is well there. Then, and only then, did I count the cast-on stitches.
Now, if you think that I'm an obsessive swatcher, you don't know about my counting. I constantly count. Unfortunately, I counted for the wrong number: 59 instead of 55. Whoops!
Not a big deal, but in some projects that could spell disaster. I can make up the extra ease by moving the fastener a bit if I need to do so.
As you other Typepadders know, Typepad gives me limited information about how people find my blog. I know if someone has hit my site from a search engine, and which terms were used to find me. I don't, however, know who is doing this, and that is just fine with me.
There are a few informational posts, such as the one about Boston Chinatown fabric stores (see my sidebar), which generate quite a lot of traffic. I'm glad that many people find practical information from my blog.
Then there are the search terms that always make me laugh. Back in April I wrote a post entitled "Free Yarn". Do you know how many people google "free yarn"? Free yarn?! Let's get real, people.
There are also the search terms that I can describe only as odd. "Nake girl" is a popular one (and will be even more so, now that I've used those two words together). Why "nake" instead of "naked"? I must be missing something. Does anyone care to clue me in?
Now that the weather has warmed in much of the Northern hemisphere, (Boston, Massachusetts being the notable exception) the "wool fetish" hits have decreased. They have been replaced by "subway girl". Who is this subway girl, and why is she so popular?
Of course, there are also hits from people who are googling my blog name, and that's just exciting.
Get a bunch of knitters together, and what do we do? Eat, drink, and make merry, of course! We will also knit. If you're lucky, everyone brings some new yarn to try, and you each get a taste.
Well, I got lucky on Saturday.
A bunch of us gathered on Saturday afternoon to sample some yarns. This was a fabulous idea, organized by none other than Mrs. Bookish herself. We packed ourselves, our yarn, and our casserole dishes into Bookish Manor for an afternoon of good food and good knitting. We missed you Julia, we really did :-(.
So many yarns to try, so little time. I focused on five yarns that I had heard a lot about Knitpicks (Elegance), some Rowan (Cotton Glace) because you know I'm a Rowan ho, Berroco Suede, some Noro tree bark stuff, and some Debbie Bliss (Cathay) because I heard good things. If I were really clever I would link to each of them. I'm not (clever or linking). If you're curious, visit Google.
Here are four little samples that I made (click on the photos to enlarge them):
Tree bark: very cool. Looks and feels a little bit like paper, and makes an unusual fabric. Definitely good for a tank.
Knitpicks: Wowza! Is this stuff soft! There's Cybergoddess Amy (see above links) knitting with it.
Cotton Glace: Okay, but for the price I'd rather knit with Butterfly 10.
Cathay: Soft, nice to knit.
Berroco Suede: once I got past the splitty-ness of this yarn, I actually enjoyed it.
Thank you Mrs. B! I had a wonderful time, reconnected with some friends, and met some wonderful ladies whom I knew only through their blogs. I probably tried at least $100 worth of yarn, and found some fibers (tree bark!) that require further experiments.
Some of us even tried spinning. Here's Obsession du Jour Kellee giving JCK Jackie (see above) some pointers before she has a go. Apparently Kellee doesn't travel anywhere without her wheel. Honestly, it was in the trunk of her car. I have this idea that she spins in traffic :-)?
My LYS rocks! One week (yes, that's seven days) after I placed a special order for some Rowan Wool Cotton, my cellphone was ringing in my bag. My yarn had arrived!
I don't know what it says about me that my LYS knows how to reach me 24/7 :-).
The Violet coloway, 933, looks nothing like what you see on Rowan's website.
It's not really a definable color. Depending on the light source the
yarn can be gray, violet, or blue. It's very mysterious. The below photos are an attempt to illustrate the colorway's mutability.
Do you see what I mean?
Oooh, I cannot wait to start Madeleine!
This piece of knitting is actually slanted.
I cast on for the left front of Venus. The slanting is a result of short-row shaping. I love shortrows; they're so much fun and so easy to do.
Venus has sloped fronts. Because the entire garment is angled in some way, I don't think a slight slant to each piece of the tank will be noticeable if some of the wonkiness I showed you yesterday remains after blocking.
Here's is the back of Venus:
A couple of weeks ago, Lauren left a comment warning about the potential for twisted stockinette to result in a crooked piece of knitting. Although I knew that she was correct, I didn't see the slant happening in my swatch. Somehow, I thought, I had appeased the knitting goddess and was getting unusually straight results.
Bwaaah-ha-ha-ha! Wrong! You can't see it well in the photo, this piece is, indeed, crooked. If I didn't reposition it for the photograph, you'd see that it is quite crooked. The good news is that I was able to reshape the fabric so that it lies straight. I'll have to block this bad boy into submission.
Look at the curve of this armhole:
I love it! Every four rows I knit three together on each side. I like the line that the decreases make in the fabric, and the curve is somehow different than other armholes that I have worked. It seems rounder than other techniques.
Oooh, I am one happy knitter these days.
Summer knitting with my Summer Tweed. All I need are my new sunglasses, some iced tea (Long Island or otherwise), and a beach chair.
Granted, a beach chair would look a little bit strange in downtown Boston, so I'll settle for a park bench.
So far so good with Venus. My gauge is oh-so-slightly different than the pattern's. I'm getting 17 stitches and 25 rows to 10 centimeters, versus the pattern's 18 stitches and 26 rows. That equates to about 1/4th less of a stitch and a row per 2.5 centimeters (1 inch). Not much, but enough to add up a little bit over an entire garment.
I'm winging the adjustments here. I changed the number of stitches I cast on (80 versus 85), the bust increases and the armhole shaping, but when I sat down to do the math for the waist decreases, the difference between the pattern and my revised instructions was so slight that I decided to knit the pattern as written.
I used that title so that anyone who is seriously disinterested in this can simply skip my blog today.
This post is courtesy of our favorite grumpy gal, Kathy. She tagged me a while ago, stating that she wanted to get into my brain. If that's the case it would certainly go a long way to explain the voices (kidding, kidding). Sorry, Kathy, that it took me this long to write this. So much writing lately, so little time. Know what I mean?
The trick with this meme will be to convince someone that I didn't spend the last year knitting feverishly. I did indeed spend most of the last year knitting, and it is only recently that I again began to carry a book with me wherever I go. My vocabulary has seriously suffered from my lack of challenging reading in the past several moths. It's either that or the booze (kidding, kidding).
1. How many books do I have?
I have a small bookshelf with a rotating selection of volumes. After my move two years ago, I had a serious heart-to-heart with myself about my book collection. Books that had not been or would not be read were boxed up and given to a book fair. Since that time I've been reluctant to stockpile book after book after book. The Boston Public Library is a terrific resource for the minimalist reader.
2. What's my current read, or what's the last book that I bought?
At Knit's End, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I bought the book a few days before I saw The Harlot in person. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. It's entertaining, thought provoking, and there have been more than one occasion when I've wanted to shout "Yes! Yes! Me too!" to no one in particular after reading a particular passage. It's a great way to clear out a corner of a subway car, let me tell you!
3. What is the last book that I read:
Tears of the Giraffe. I've been on a mystery kick lately. My last two reads have been part of the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith. Both were purchased at Brookline Booksmith--the store that very generously lets us knitters take over its Used Book Cellar every Sunday afternoon. Every week people walk down those stairs and think "what are all these knitters doing here? I thought that this was a bookstore."
4. List 5 books that mean a lot to you.
Kathy's list got me thinking. There are a lot of books and authors that I've enjoyed, but they're not books that I go back to again and again, or books that I would miss if they suddenly disappeared. Here are a list of five books which I find useful, almost on a daily basis, or which are special to me:
5. To whom will I pass this?
I think that I'm the last person in Blogland to complete this meme. If you want to do it, consider yourself "tagged".
Yes, it sounded like I was complaining about Rowan last week. I guess that I was, a little bit. I just wish the pattern wording was clearer, that is all.
Here's my progress on Venus.
Can I tell you how nice it is to have a blogable (bloggable? bloggible?) project once again? It's fun! It was tough keeping the mystery project from all of you. Thanks for tolerating my secrecy.
Orange Line, 08:30, EDT:
Who is this mystery subway knitter?
It doesn't help that the woman's face isn't in the photograph (and the photograph itself is shaky), but it was not fair to do that without her permission. I wanted an unsuspecting knitting-in-action shot.
Maybe someone recongizes the project or the knitting bag. Maybe that someone is you!
By the way, do you all know about World Wide Knit in Public Day? It's June 11th. Count me in, although the way I see it, every day is Knit in Public Day for me.
All I can say is that the secret project is finished! I enjoyed the process, but I'm ready for something new. That means it's full speed ahead for the summer knits.
Here's a swatch of my Summer Tweed in the Rush colorway:
Mmmm. So. Yummy. I love the look, I love the feel, and strangely enough I love the smell. The twisted stockinette is a little bit tight on the needles, but not unbearbly so.
You might be wondering why I'm swatching again, if you remember the swatch of the leftover Summer Tweed. Long-time blog readers know that I'm swatch obsessed. So concerned am I about accurate gauge counting that I don't trust my gauge from project to project or from colorway to colorway. I have learned that it never hurts to swatch and wash. It's much easier to do an extra swatch than to rip out a missized knit.
I don't know if this is a problem that is unique to me, or if other knitters have this challenge, but I find Rowan's patterns to be less than user friendly.
How do you non-native English speakers knit from them? Why does Rowan write "Cast off 4 sts and moss st until there are 9 sts on right needle..." when "Cast off 4 stitches and then work 9 sts..." would be much clearer (to me, at least)? Am I getting confused by a British pattern-writing style?
Admittedly, I sometimes have trouble properly interpreting any knitting instructions on the first go. With Rowan patterns I find that I need to read through the pattern line-by-line and sketch a schematic as I go. This sketch is helpful, because Rowan's own schematics are not very descriptive at all. Maybe I'm being too picky. After all, who really needs to know how low V-neck is? The Rowan models seem to love cavorting around in sweaters with necklines to their navels. I guess that Rowan assumes that we knitters do the same thing.
Rowan patterns are not for the faint of heart, or for the beginning knitter. They require attentiveness and patience, which I suppose are not bad qualities to cultivate in myself.
If you live in Boston, you know that the Green Line is not what one might describe as "reliable". I could have driven to Worcester in the same time that it took me to go three for four lousy miles. [Former Bostonians, am I bringing back any memories?] I couldn't even knit! The train was that crowded. As we pulled into Hynes (formerly Auditorium), who was there waiting on the platform, but Knitsmith Elizabeth. Of course the train was so crowded that Elizabeth couldn't get on (or she was waiting for another train).
Okay, well, not the best picture, but she caught me by surprise. As the Subway Knitter, I feel a responsibility to chronicle fellow strap-hanging fiber fanatics whenever possible. We raised our knitting bags in some sort of strange fibery salute, and off I went through the tunnel. An hour later, I arrived at my destination.
When I learned how to knit, many years ago (six) I never imagined that such a quiet solitary activity could, at the same time, be such a public and social one. You knitters know what I mean. Isn't it fun?
Get a group of us together and we immediately have at least one thing in common. Once the ice is broken and the needles come out we'll discover many more similarities.
Yup, eating great food and knitting with friends; it's a nice way to spend a Tuesday evening. I need to get over my fear of entertaining and do something like this myself.
Blogging is, as you all know, another fantastic resource for us knitters. A big "thank you" to everyone who offered a comment or advice on the Bling Bling I blogged about yesterday. It will be a while before I make my way to knitting with it--there are a few projects ahead of it in the queue.
Speaking of knit bloggers, have you read this interesting article? Not too surprising.
One more thing...Knitsmith Emily has a newish blog.
Look at this skein of Berroco Bling Bling. That's a cotton-acrylic blend with spots of aluminum thrown in. Very cool.
I bought this as an experimental skein. I haven't seen a swatch of it in person, but I'm thinking "dressy tank". A dressy thing is on the Subway Knitter 2005 to-knit list. Because of the glittery metallic bits, I don't think that I would want to see anything more than a tank's worth of this yarn. And, at $15 a pop (and "a pop" is 92 yards) it's perfect for something small.
Claudia, Knitter of Steel, do you have any opinions on this?
It will be a while before I get around to knitting anything with this yarn, so let's just stew a bit on the possibilities.
...and the only prescription is MORE ROWAN!
It's Summer Tweed in "Rush", colorway 507. As you might remember it was down to either the Summer Tweed or the Wool Cotton. I let my LYS's inventory make the decision for me. I'm sorry Marta. I really wanted the winner to be the Wool Cotton, but my first-choice colorway (Violet, 933) was not in stock. The wonderful new manager at A Good Yarn placed a special order for me last week, so there will be some Violet in the stash box very soon.
It's full speed ahead for Venus. Let the summer knitting begin!
At Windsor Button I saw this:
Look! It's Summer Tweed!
A couple of weeks ago at Knitsmiths, Claire and I were chatting with Sara (Sarah?) about yarn stores. Claire mentioned that Windsor Button has expanded its yarn department by leaps and bounds. I agree! Every time I go in there I see more yarn, books, and supplies for us knitters.
I think that we Bostonians are lucky to have so many yarn shops, and yarn shops staffed by knowledgeable knitters. The two women behind the counter were passionately discussing the merits of the Summer Sundress on the cover of IK. That's another thing that I like to see in a yarn store: people who are aware of what's out there now.
This doesn't mean that I'm about to ditch my usual yarn haunts, but I'm excited to know that there's Rowan within walking distance of my office.
Here I am, doing my part (along with Julia and Margene) to hold down KnitBlogland USA while the rest of you go to MDS$W. Oh well, I shall live vicariously through the newsy, photo-laden blog posts I expect to read. Do some yarn shopping for me, would ya?
Back to the knitting....
So, I reknit the secret project to match a dimension on the SP prototype (it didn't take very long). This was the dimension that I first thought was too small, then I thought it was just right. Now, again, I'm nervous that this dimension is too small.
AHHHHH! What is happening? Did the prototype relax and stretch a bit? Perhaps. The thing to do, I think, is to block it and see if that relaxes the fibers and the fit. This yarn has seriouls blockability. Take water, add a little soap, and your Cascade 220 will turn into a knitted ball of mush. If the blocking doesn't work, I'll be vexed. Vexed, I tell you. Vexed!
Want to see:
Too bad the soap suds are in the way.... :-).
Whew! That was a close one. Last night I thought that maybe, just perhaps, I might be finished knitting a portion of the secret project.
Good thing that I was wrong! Otherwise, I might have started something else. I swear that the prototype for the prototype was too small at those measurements, but now it looks just right. What happened?
Whatever happened, the reality is that I had to rip out about eight inches of good, solid knitting. I hate that.
We'll cover up the lack of progress with my knitting, with a photo of my neighbor Amy, a new knitter whose needles are, apparently, on fire. [I had nothing to do with this, I swear. Amy discovered knitting all on her own.] She's been knitting for only a couple of months and she's already on project four. Go Amy! Amy is also a very good sport. She came upstairs only to drop off her condo check not thinking that she would be a star in a photo shoot. Here she is with project two, the Darci Scarf, by Datherine Shu, from knit wit:
I like her version a lot better than the one pictured in the book.
We've got another knitter in the house. Who-hoo!
On Tuesday I wrote that I had the Rowan itch. Oh boy do I ever have that itch.
There are two patterns that call for Rowan yarns which are currently under consideration:
1. Madeleine, by none other than Marta (Marta just had a birthday, so go over there and wish her a happy one). I could fit myself into the largest size. There are cables, lots of cables, and this would be an opportunity to try Wool Cotton. Marta, I have a couple questions for you. How much ease do you expect this garment to have? Yours fits quite snuggly, and it's very flattering. Does the all-over cable require a reverse ease?
2. Venus, in Rowan 33. I saw Dava knitting this and thought "must have". I love the style, and need I extoll the virtues of Summer Tweed? No, I don't think so. The seed stitch pattern might be a little too much for my eyes, but how about that twisted stockinette?
Well, what's a knitter to do? How do I choose? I'm heading over to my local Rowan "stockist", and base my decision on the coloways available for each yarn.
Knit one of her patterns!
Since I don't have a photo of the top (but Chris does, so bop on over to her blog and have a look) I'll leave you with a Boston-in-spring photo:
That's Park Street Church standing tall behind the Granary Burying Ground. Both are stops on the Freedom Trail. The third week of April (traditionally school-vacation week in the northeast US) marks the beginning of tourist season in ye olde Boston. By now, we are well on our way to summertime tourist overload. Look at the expressions of those people at the bottom: Must keep walking! Must see Boston!
p.s. For everyone who wondered but was afraid to ask, twisted stockinette is a two-row stitch pattern that is easy-peasy.
Row 1: Knit each stitch through the back loop.
Row 2: Purl across normally.
Repeat. That's it!
Sometimes I swatch to see if I like a stitch pattern.
Using some leftover Summer Tweed, I tested twisted stockinette as an alternative to the seed stitch recommended for Venus. I think I like it better than seed stitch, which is a good thing. I cannot do an entire project in seed. Although I love the look, I know the constant K1,P1 will drive my eyes batty, not to mention make me crazy.
Sometimes I swatch to see if I like the yarn. In this case it's a resounding "no!"
The yarn has all the right ingredients: good colors, interesting fiber combination (cotton and chenille), and it's very nice to knit with, but it looks too cute for a sophisticated urban woman such as myself to wear (stop laughing).
That's okay. Shannon pointed out that this yarn will make an excellent baby knit. It's not a bad idea to have the supplies for a baby sweater or two on hand, just in case. So, back to the stash box it goes, awaiting a wee recipient.
Do you know what this means? I'll have to go yarn shopping for my next summer knit, and I have a Rowan itch like you would not believe.
Friday evening, pre-Harlot, I was at my usual subway station, Forest Hills. It's the end of the line for us Orange Line straphangers. A well-dressed woman in a red coat and matching polka-dot scarf was to my left on the stairs. She removed her iPod earphones, turned to me, and asked "Excuse me, are you Subway Knitter?" Well, if you're reading this blog you know that I am, indeed, Subway Knitter, but imagine my surprise when I realized that I could be spotted in a crowd. (Spotted without yarn and needles in my hand, no less! It was a rare no-knitting subway journey.) Turns out that Kate (sp?) is a passionate (but blogless) knitter from Roslindale, and I was pleased that she said hello. Hi, Kate! Thanks for reading. I'll admit that I felt a little bit like a rock star.
Then there's Kat who lives right down the street from me. Literally, I walk by her house every day. Not in a kind of stalker sort of way, but rather an it's-on-my-way-to-the-train kind of thing. She, I just discovered, recently started her own blog, For My Next Project. I know Kat from Circles, and I'm happy to see that she's blogging now. Everyone go on over there and say hi to Kat.
There are knitters everywhere you go. You just have to know where to look.
Hey, happy May Day everyone!