September 2005 Archives

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

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

August 2005 is the previous archive.

October 2005 is the next archive.

On The Edge

The edging of the Softwist Cardigan is growing nicely.


As I wrote yesterday, the edging is knit in multiples of 10 stitches plus one.  It's not the most convenient multiple if you're working with a rather large gauge, like I am (3.875 stitches per inch).  When I worked out my math, I calculated that I needed 147 stitches.

Now, the obvious thing to do would be to cast on 150 stitches (or 151).  But that would have left 75 stitches for the back, and an uneven number for the front halves.  So, I went down to 140 (or 141) that leaves a multiple of 10 for the back (70) and 35 for each half.

This does two things for my sweater.  First, it allows the edging to be centered along the cardigan back, and the side "seams" (I'm knitting this as one piece, so the side seams will really be a narrow rib of purl stitches).  Second, it forces me to apply Grumperina's oh-s0-successful negative ease theory for the fit.  I know that it works, but it goes against every knitting instinct that I have, mainly that a garment won't fit well if it's knit smaller than the intented wearer.

I'm choosing to ignore the nagging worry in the back of my brain.  I know this will work!

A Sweater Begins

Here is the cast-on row for my Softwist Cardigan:


I marked off the stitches in multiples of 10.  The zig-zag rib edging happens in multiples of 10 stitches plus one, so the last group contains 11 stitches.  This will make chart reading on the subway a piece of cake.

I'm So Happy

...that I didn't see this link before I placed my yarn order at The Point.

Why?  Because I know which colors I would have chosen if I had been able to see the entire Claudia Handpainted array (and, it's Claudia Handpainted, not Claudia'S Handpainted as I insisted on calling it all this month).  Not that any of these colors are anything but mighty fine; it's that lately I seem to buy the same colorway over and over and over, and it's always some shade of blue.  I'm about to knit a blue cardigan.  Why do I need another blue one?


Walk in the Woods has blue, but it also has pink,green, gray, and purple.  All of these are colors that need more prominence in my wardrobe, and yet I probably would have passed right by WiTW had I seen those other colorways.

Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing.

Sweater Sample

Here's my Softwist Cardigan swatch drying on my blocking board.  I must tell you that I love the color of this yarn, and I especially love that single, shiny rayon thread going through each strand.


Essentially it's a sample of the how the left (to the wearer) front of the sweater will look.  The ribbing for waist shaping on one side, Annie Modesitt's knitted i-cord edging (my finishing discovery of the year) on the other, and everything starts off from the zig-zag rib on the bottom.  The angular nature of the edging harmonizes with the twisted stockinette.  I like it!

Once this swatch dries, it will be time to take some measurements and figure out the pattern.

Monday Morning FO

William asked me for more pictures of my knitted items in use:


Here I am with the Lace-in-a-Box scarf at Jamaica Plain Open Studios.  Saturday was one of those perfect early autumn days.  New England weather sure knows how to go from hot and humid summer to cool and crisp autumn in a matter of hours, and I needed a little something for the breeze on my neck.  Here I am at 5 Brewster Street with Hilary Law's bags in the background.  Nice photo, but I would love to know where I was looking when the shutter clicked.

The details:

Lace-in-a-Box Scarf:

Yarn: Artisan NZ Merino Laceweight, Wedgewood colorway.

Needles: US8s

Pattern:  "St. John's Wort" from Mon Tricot

What would I do differently: I would probably make this scarf slightly wider if I were to knit this again.

Two Timing

Most project planning needs to happen at home.  The Softwist Cardigan has not yet made the transition from my brain to my knitting needles.  Because of that, I lacked a subway project by late last week.

Subway Knitter without her subway knitting?  I don't think so!

So, I started this scarf:


Using my Rule of One (interesting detail per project), I let the yarn be the predominant detail for the scarf.  Aren't those foil speckles cool?  With my new stitch pattern books, I had hundreds of intricate patterns at my disposal, but an intricate pattern combined with a eye-catching yarn would be too busy.  Mistake rib seems simple enough.

Plymouth recommends knitting Mira Mira on US7s, which was too stiff for a scarf.  I frogged and began again, this time with 39 stitches on US 10s.  This resulted in some very distracting pooling of the foil bits at the scarf's sides.  I frogged that and cast on 31 stitches.  At the tension I'm knitting (don't know what it is, because I didn't check), the pooling has been eliminated, and the foil flecks are more evenly distributed.

Oooh!  I can't wait to wear this with my new winter coat.  Which means that I should probably start shopping for a new winter coat.

Second, Second Thoughts

What does this giant swatch tell you?


It tells me that I didn't have a clue about this cardigan for a long time.  Twisted or plain stockinette?  Ribbing?  Waist shaping?  It was all up in the air.

As I swatched the slip-stitch edging from Cinxia, I realized that it looked nothing like I thought it would.  It looked a lot like seed stitch.  This was disappointing.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of seed stitch, but for this project I want something new.

That threw everything into question.  This latest knitting dilemma quickly justified a trip to the bookstore, where I purchased Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments, and the Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.

Flipping through both, I decided that twisted stockinette was the way to go for the overall pattern.  Then I needed something angular for the edging.  I thought about lace, but quickly rejected it.  Kathy just finished that beautiful Toccata Sweater with the lace edging, but I didn't want an open pattern for a winter cardigan.

With those criteria, I looked again and found the edging that you see on the top of the swatch.  From the Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns, it's called the Zig Zag Rib Pattern.

It's closed, it's angular, and it's unusual without screaming "HANDKNIT!"  With that settled, it's time for measurements and math!

Second Thoughts

You all know that I love Cinxia from the latest Knitty.  The construction of the sweater, however, gives me pause.  I want to use my Berroco Softwist Bulky for this knit (whatever it turns out to be).  This bag has been lying in my yarn box for over a year, quietly mocking my knitting skills.  I must use it, and soon. 


I cannot overemphasise how heavy the Softwist is.  It is, in fact, twice as heavy as the yarn called for in the pattern.  I wonder if the lack of seams in Cinxia would allow the Softwist to stretch too much.  I spent a good few days thinking about this.  What I like about the sweater: the cuffs, the collar, the cropped look, and the twisted stockinette pattern.  What I'm not so keen on: the flaring.  I'm not sure how the front length relates to the back length.  The schematic leads me to believe that the back is somewhat shorter than the front.  But how much shorter?  It's a mystery.

Mary's design is, nevertheless, inspiring.  I can take the collar and cuff details from her sweater, apply them to a simple cropped cardigan.  Like Mary's version, I won't use buttons.  Here's another opportunity to use Annie Modesitt's attached i-cord edging in place of a button band. 

What could I add?  Allison was wearing a cute cardigan knit from Rowan Denim.  What I especially loved about it was the ribbing used for the waist shaping.  How could I have forgotten about that?

In case you haven't realized it already, I'll be embarking on my own design once again.  Now that lace-in-a-box is winding down, it's time to swatch for something new.   (The colorway is more accurate in the upper photo.)


Blocking Lace

Yay!  My Lace-in-a-Box scarf is almost an official FO!

Here it is blocking on my carpet.


This is my version of Stephanie's technique.  First, I washed the scarf (this scarf has been everywhere, and it has probably been dropped on the subway floor once or twice), then I squished out most of the water, and finally, I pinned it to the carpet to dry.


Many people think that Boston is an uptight city.  Not so! (Well, not all the time.)  I noticed this from my office window yesterday:


Sam seems to be sporting sneakers.  Perhaps he's planning a run to Windsor Button.

Have a Safe Trip!

Well, my Malabrigo is on its way to blogless Eva in Luxembourg.  There it is, getting all of its stickers and stamps.  It's the package equivalent of airline screening.


Wish that I could go with it.  Wait a minute!  Maybe I can; Eva said that she would cover the shipping.

Global Priority: 18.00USD (4 to 7 days)

Air Mail (Parcel Post): 17.50USD (7 to 10 days)

Global Express: 24.95USD (2 to 3 days)

Hand Delivery: 600.35USD  (Guaranteed delivery by 30 September).

Eva, it's your call, but don't you want to play it safe with this one ;-)?

Sneaky Little FO

The working week begins with sneaky FO:  my Koigu headband:


This was my test swatch for Cozy which I lengthened into a headband.  I finished it way back in early August, but only thought to seam the ends together last weekend.  It works, and I like it.  With the windy fall weather approaching, this will be perfect for keeping my hair out of my face.

Yellowish modeling shot:


Yeah, bathroom mirror shot, too (look closely: the camera's letters are reversed).

Lace Supplies

My second order of Malabrigo laceweight reached my mailbox late last week.  I've been letting it sit and stew before I decided which hanks to keep and which hanks to return or offer for sale.

First, we have some laceweight merino in a gorgeous emerald green.  I recently bought this from Malabrigo's eBay store.


While it's similar to my current lace project's colorway it's not exactly the same.  The yarn's weight is heavier too.  This will be my Cozy yarn.

Next, we have the wool laceweight from the Malabrigo website.  The colorways in this second shipment are much more to my liking.  Don't ask me which hank corresponds to which colorway.  I don't know, and I'm not too inclined to look up the information.


I'm keeping only three: a grayish-purple (bottom center), the light green (top center), and the sky blue (top right).  The rest?  Hey Knitsmiths, anyone interested?

Scarf Report

My lace-in-a-box scarf is coming along nicely:


Want a pattern close up?


This will be a lovely scarf for cool fall evenings.

Put the Needles Down!

This is when you know that you're too serious about your knitting:


Card available from Olive Sandwiches of Gig Harbor, WA.  Sorry, there's no online retail, but there is a list of stores by state.  Maybe there's one near you.

Knitting in Art

Adapted from General Ginger....

I recently found myself with a free day.  There were no plans, no commitments, no projects to complete, no nothing.  That could mean only one thing: road trip!

Zooming along the back roads of the Berkshire hilltowns, I arrived in North Adams, Massachusetts, Mass MoCA to be more specific.  The museum has been open for more than six years, and I hadn't yet been.  Shame on me!

You're probably wondering where am I going with all this.  I'm going to tell you that there was a lot of knitting happening at this museum.  You might know that Mass MoCA was the location of David Cole's Knitting Machine.  The flag is now folded and in a case, but there's a video installation of the project, if you're interested.

That wasn't all.  There were the knitting needles:


Evolution of the Knitting Needle Through Modern Warfare, David Cole, 2001.  It doesn't photograph very well.  From the exhibit's press release "In Evolution of the Knitting Needle Through Modern Warfare -- which Cole describes as 'hypothetical anthropology' -- each set of needles references a specific war in American history. The piece contrasts a basic form of production, knitting, with the progress of technology made through war. It is a study of the relationship between technology and violence." 


Then there were the paintings (all photographs taken without a flash, if you're concerned):



The New (Das Neue), Neo Rauch, 2003

Is she knitting?  I don't see the other needle,  but let's just assume that she is.

Finally, I'll leave you with this, just because I liked it:


Planks (Bretter), David Schnell, 2005

A Little Math

What could be better than a little mathematics to celebrate the back-to-school season?  I had a surprising amount of fun with this, and thought that I would share it.

Although I had a pretty good idea that I would be yarn shopping for my cardigan in New York, I stupidly left the pattern information at home in Boston.  I meant to photocopy it, or at least write down the yarn amounts before I left, but I forgot.

In the end it was for the best.  There was slightly more thinking involved with this yarn order than I would have been able to do while sitting at The Point, and I didn't have to lug around a pattern book all day.  I easily made plans with Helane to email her an order once I worked out the yarn amounts. 

Ready to do that?  Here we go.

Given (remember geometry class?):
DK gauge: 5.5sts/in
Fingering gauge: 6.75sts/in
Jaeger yardage: 2170 yards
Jaeger yarn weights:  main 500g (10 skeins, 50g each); accent 250g (5 skeins, 50g each), total: 750g
Downtown Yarns shrug yardage: main 200 yards; accent 150 yards
My yarn information:
Artyarns (main):  6.75 sts/in, 191 yards/50g
Claudia's Handpainted (accent): 6.5 to 7.5sts/in, 190 yards/50g

First question: I'll need more of the Artyarns than I will Claudia's Handpainted.  How will I accurately divide the yardage between the two yarns?

Using the yardages given in the Downtown Yarns shrug (because it contains the striping sequence that I want), I calculated what percent of the shrug's total yardage comprised the accent yarn.


DTY shrug total yardage: 350 yards
150 is 42 percent of the total yardage, leaving 58 percent for the main yarn.

This means that 58 percent of my total yardage must be from the Artyarns, and 42 percent from the Claudia's Handpainted.

Because I will be substituting a fingering-weight yarn for a DK-weight, I knew that I will need more yarn than the Jaeger pattern specifies.  But how much more?  I asked a few knitters I know, and consulted a few internet resources.  One knitter told me to work out a proportion between the gauges (new gauge/old gauge) and multiply the total yardage in the pattern by the result.

6.75/5.5 = 1.23
1.23(2170) = 2669.1 yards (or 2670 yards, rounding up)

The internet told me to keep the weight of the new yarn the same when substituting.

Total weight of the yarn used in the Jaeger pattern: 750g.

Using the percentages from above, I know that 58 percent of this weight must come from the Artyarns, with 42 percent from the Claudia's Handpainted.


.58(750)=435g of the Artyarns, leaving 315g for the Claudia's Handpainted.  Dividing each of those amounts by the weight of 1 skein of each yarn (50g), I will know how many skeins I will need.

435/50 = 8.7 skeins (9, rounding up), or 1667.1 yards

315/50 = 6.3 skeins of Claudia's Handpainted (7, rounding up) or 1197 yards

This equals a total yardage amount of 2864.1 yards.  That's a little more than the proportional calculation above, but I would rather err on the side of caution.

Any knitter knows that sometimes the yardage estimates in patterns can be little more than a big joke.  Let us also not forget that I'm changing the V-neck to a crew.  I suppose that I could figure out the area of extra fabric, compare it with the total garment area, cross multiply to figure out the additional yardage, and apply the above percentages to get the additional yardage for each yarn.

I would do that, except that Jaeger's schematics are just about worthless.  Let's just wing it!  I'll add five more skeins to the Artyarns, and four more to the Claudia's quantity.

I'll surely have yarn left over, but I would rather have lots of leftovers than be looking hopelessly for one skein of a particular dyelot.


Do you remember the shrug/jacket idea (ala Alison's) that I was kicking around in August?  Since I first mentioned it, I have decided that I'm not much of a shrug person.  Still, I liked the striping sequence in the shrug and the idea of an entire garment knit in feather-and-fan.  Cardigan, anyone?


It's Flora from Jaeger's Book 19.  The colors are all wrong for me, and the yarn is mohair.  We all know that I'm iffy about the mohair.  What about the V-neck?  That must be changed to a crew.  I might make the body longer.  But, other than those changes, I love it.  Those bell sleeves are perfect!  Essentially, I'll use the Jaeger pattern as the basis for my idea, and apply to it the striping sequence and stitch pattern from the Downtown Yarns shrug.

Time for yarn choices.  Unlike my disappointing Koigu experience in Boston, I had an absolutely delightful time at The Point a couple of weeks ago.  [The next time that you're in NY, please stop by this store and buy some yarn.]  Although there was no Koigu, Helane pointed out the Claudia's Handpainted to me.  Of course!  How could I have forgotten about Lisa's gushing praise of this yarn?

Since Claudia's Handpainted doesn't come in solids, Helane suggested an Artyarns Ultramerino 4 solid to use as the main color.  I could special order both.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a project!  All that remained was to estimate the yardage required.  Stay tuned....

I think I can make it

As of last week the new Knitty is up.  This is one of the very best editions that I have seen in a long time.  Either that's a coincidence or the editors responded to criticism (some of it constructive) and tweaked the offerings.

There are lots of good patterns, but this especially caught my eye:


Cinxia by Mary Burr.  This would be a fantastic way to use my bag of Berroco Softwist Bulky.  It's a cropped cardi that won't be too heavy.  Softwist Bulky is a heavy yarn, works best for something small.

I love the slip-stitch pattern for the cuffs and collar, and I think that the overall twisted stockinette is just divine!

Want to hear more?  I especially liked what Mary wrote in her description:

"I was thrilled with the variations you came up with on my last Knitty pattern, Aibhlinn. I'm sure you'll come up with some more imaginative variations here."

A designer after my own heart!  Mary, I already have some ideas about changing this.  I'll keep everyone posted.

I HATE Mohair!


I don't like mohair, and I'll never knit anything with it.

Good thing that there are alternatives.  A couple of weeks ago at Knitsmiths, Kerstin was knitting a shawl with an absolutely lovely yarn.  The yarn was so soft, and just a little bit fuzzy.  There had to be some angora or alpaca mixed in to make the yarn so soft.  What was this amazing yarn?  "Brooks Farm....something," she said.

"Okay!" I said.  Once home, I found myself on the Brooks Farm website.  Scanning their yarn offerings all I could see was mohair.  Mohair, mohair, mohair.  Hmmm, maybe they bring their non-mohair stuff to the festivals.

The next day I dropped an email inquiring about the mohair-free yarns which I knew that they must sell.  A few hours later a cheery reply landed in my inbox.  "All of our yarns contain mohair."  Indeed, later that day Kerstin blogged about the shawl.  She was using a mohair yarn, a 100-percent mohair yarn!


What happened?  Had the late August heat softened the gray matter?  Dena indulged my curiosity by answering a few questions about their mohair.  Why do I like Brooks Farm mohair and hate all the others?  Apparently Brooks Farm uses kid mohair in all of the yarns, and only the fiber from the first two shearings. 

Good to know.  I would like to imagine that the goats go off to some lazy retirement life after those first two shearings, but this makes me doubt that idea.

More Lace

Subway Knitter should be called "Whining Knitter".

I feel like the second shipment of my Malabrigo laceweight is taking for-ev-er to arrive.  Due to a couple of ordering snafus (the electronic order got stuck in the "cart") and supply problems (some of the colorways needed to be dyed--despite the fact that each was listed with a quantity of hanks in stock) nothing has yet arrived.


Well, it's only yarn and it's not as if I lack for things to knit.  After the knitting jumble that was August, it feels good to be a one-project gal again.


Here's my progress with my skinny lace scarf.  Now that I've memorized the pattern repeat, I can happily knit away anywhere, stop-and-go, so long as I finish a repeat before I stop.

He Likes It

I think that Matt is quite happy with the vest:


Personally, I think that the armholes are a little long, but the wearer disagrees with me, so they'll stay.  I love the simplicity and color of this garment.

The details:

Pattern:  the vest in Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.

Yarn:  Heirloom Easy Care 8-Ply (10+ skeins), shade: 727

Needles:  US 6

Gauge: 5.5 sts/in and 7 rows/in

What I changed: not much.  The pattern's structure builds in opportunities to make modifications.  I used an i-cord edging for the V-neck, and a modified i-cord edging for the armholes.  I reinforced the back neck by picking up and immediately binding off stitches.

Tonight at 11....

Topless on the T - a Bay State woman's knitting nightmare.
Well, it wasn't that sensational, but it was a problem nevertheless.  Imagine glancing over your left shoulder and noticing that the shoulder seam was coming undone.  Not only that, but since I use the three-needle bind off, I had LIVE STITCHES hanging out there.

Can you see it?


What's a knitter to do when she discovers this midday and has no knitting supplies (I know, I know, it's like one of the five days a year when I DON'T have knitting on the T)?  Lie low, that's what.  I didn't do much for the rest of the day but sit in my chair working.  I had a spare T-shirt which I slipped on for my ride home, (so there was no actual risk of toplessness) and home I went (immediately).

NotaclueWhen I got home, I grabbed some needles and spare yarn.  I looped some spare yarn through the escaping stitches, pulled them tight, and reinforced the entire seam.  Once done with the left, I repeated the reinforcement on the right side, just in case.


Technically, this fix is crap.  I thought briefly of taking apart the entire shoulder and rebinding off.  While that fix would have been more proper I knew that I ran the risk of things going  ruinously wrong.  The result does not look 100 percent perfect (although that picture makes it look worse than it is in real life); you'll only see it if you're looking VERY closely at my shoulder.  And honestly, if you're that close to my shoulder, you shouldn't be thinking about my skills as a knitter anyway ;-).

Going Nutty

Yes, I went a little nutty on this vest--in a few different ways.  I pushed ahead, got myself to the V-neck shaping, and couldn't control myself:


It's finished and blocking!  I was planning to write a post about the V-neck shaping, but you all know what a knit in progress looks like, so let's just cut to the chase.

Here's a closeup on both Kathy's modified i-cord edging, and Annie Modesitt's i-cord edging:


Modified, a very simple flat edge.
Row 1 (RS): K1, wyif sl1, k1, work to last 3 sts, k1, wyif sk1, k1
Row 2 (WS): wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1, work to last 3 sts, wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1


Row 1 (RS): K1, wyif sl1, k1, p2, work to last 5 sts, p2, k1, wyif sk1, k1
Row 2 (WS): wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1, k2, work to last 5 sts, k2, wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1

For future reference, the two complement each other, and because the edging is knit as you go, there's no need to go back and pick up stitches.  I like that.

Lace Update

So far, so good:

On further inspection, the patterns that came with this yarn weren't working for me.  Fear not!  Out came my 1972 copy of Mon Tricot (serious score with this one, thanks to Knitting Grandma).  I was looking for a lace pattern that was somewhat open, didn't involve any contortionist instructions (P5 Tog TBL, for example), and was worked on 6 rows or fewer.

I think I found it:


This one is called "St. John's Wort".  Do you that this is a coincidence, or was someone thinking about the therapeutic qualities of knitting when naming this pattern.


I am speeding along on the front of Matt's vest.  I'm up to the armholes:


Once again, I am incredibly pleased with this armhole shaping technique.  It looks much more finished than anything that I've done in the past.  I'm keeping the armhole edges very simple, using Grumperina's modified i-cord edging:

Row 1 (RS): K1, with yarn in front Sl1, K1, K to last three stitches, K1, with yarn in front Sl1, K1.
Row 2 (WS): With yarn in front Sl1, K1, with yarn in front Sl1, P to last three stitches, with yarn in front Sl1, K1, with yarn in front Sl1.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  I don't want to say to much, but as a reward for making it all the way to the bottom of this post on a holiday, I will tell you to expect an FO post this week :-).

Back to the knitting!


After only a couple of days of knitting I am speeding along on the front of Matt's vest.


Yeah, it looks like a big block of curling stockinette.

I've set a goal for next week: finishing frenzy.  I have Baccarat, a little headband thing, and this vest that will all require seaming.  That means I need to get to the interesting part of the front-- the V-neck shaping--soon!  I'm knitting like a fiend: five inches a day!  Don't ask me how long I can keep up this pace :-).

Yarn to Tide Me Over


Some of my replacement Malabrigo Laceweight needs to be dyed before it can be shipped, thus scuttling my grand plans to have Cozy on the needles as a first project.

Despite my lack of Malabrigo, lace is happening.  Lucky for me that I had something in my back pocket, so to speak.  I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Sakonnet Purls a couple of weeks ago.  The usual suspects were with me.  All I can say is thank goodness that this store is about an hour's drive from Boston!  (Although the Bookish One turned me on to a shortcut that could dramatically cut my driving time).  I completely and totally loved the store!  Loved.  It.  (Despite the slightly stale smell.)  I hadn't gone expecting to buy anything,but I left with a few things.





I can see a few felted hats of different sizes coming my way.

I hadn't seen the Plymouth before this.  It's going to be a cute scarf, or felted hat (haven't decided yet).  The women at SP told me that it felts very well (hence the purchase of the felted hat patterns above), but I wish that I could see for myself how the foil bits fare.  I also wonder what they'll do to my washer....

Before I left I noticed a small basket on the floor of (what I thought) were lace kits.  Some of them were lace kits, but some of them were just skeins of laceweight.



Oooh, I liked this one immediately.  What more: it came with a pattern attached!  The hitch, the price ($29).  But, the color and the feel of this yarn were impossible to ignore.

What really sold me was that Kathy mentioned that one of her friends (an experienced knitter with a mature stash) always goes for this stuff when she sees it.  I had to have it!  There was also that nagging voice telling me that I had better have a backup plan just in case there's a hitch with the Malabrigo.  Good thing that I listened....

Oh Dear (or: A Small Rant)

I recently visited a yarn store which is a newcomer to the downtown Boston yarn scene.  The store is not one of my usual yarn haunts and seems unlikely to become one.  I had been there only twice before, and on this particular occasion I was with two friends, one of whom had traveled a significant distance to make a (not very small) yarn purchase.  I, myself, was there to register for a class.

After registering (and paying) for the class, I began to browse through the selection of solid Koigu KPPPM (say it with me: "mmmmm").  Some of you might remember that I'm planning to knit myself a feather-and-fan jacket this fall and Koigu KPPPM is most definitely a yarn contender.

I saw a wonderful solid: maybe purple, maybe gray, maybe brown.  You just couldn't tell which it was.  "Gorgeous" would have been an understatement.  I wandered over to the variegated skeins and chose a complimentary colorway.  Suddenly I had a project!  The colors were perfect, but absolutely not what I had envisioned for this sweater (I was thinking of something more blue/gray).  Was this true inspiration or a whim?  Would I like this combination on second inspection?

There was only one way to know.  I grabbed my Palm, and copied down the colorway numbers.  I did not, however, copy down the price.  I wasn't ready to buy that day, I was just planning.  This will be a special project, and there's no way that I'm going to buy (expensive) yarn that I don't completely love and is not exactly what I want.

At this point, the shop owner came over to me and said, "Ah!  What are you doing in front of me?  Just so you can go on-line and buy it!"

Excuse me?!  Frankly, the thought hadn't entered my head.  I wasn't ready to buy anything; I was merely doing research and planning for a special project.  I explained this to the owner, and she backed down.

After I had had a chance to think about what had happened, the comment really annoyed me.  Didn't I just get bullied by the shop owner?  The fact that I had to defend my (perfectly innocent and reasonable) action makes me reluctant to return to her shop.  My yarn notebook (now on my Palm) is filled with lots of things: yarns I like, yardage, gauges, pattern ideas, you name it.  For all she knew, I could have been noting a design idea, converting yards to meters, or multiplying how many skeins I needed for a project.  I take notes all the time.  Even if I was noting the colorways for on-line shopping, it was none of her business!

I know that this shop does not have the very best yarn prices in the area (and I suspect that the shop owner knows this, too).  The price was reasonable given the shop's location on a well-heeled shopping street in the Back Bay, and certainly within the general price range for Koigu.  If the shop owner had been the least bit helpful (mentioning similar colorways, enquiring about the combination that I was laying out, etc.), I would have overlooked the price in return for superior service.  Give me a good brick-and-mortar LYS over an on-line store any day of the week--price be damned! 

There's no way that I'd give up the personal service, good advice, and friendly atmosphere of my LYS to save (in this instance) a few dollars.  I'm in a position where having the yarn in-stock and available is more important to me than saving a buck or two a skein.  In my experience, on-line yarn shopping requires a lot of guesswork, waiting, and back-and-forth.  I don't have time to do that with every yarn purchase.  I do it rarely: when the price savings is significant (50 percent or more), or when I cannot buy the yarn locally.  The touching, discussing, and browsing (i.e. the shopping) before I buy are important steps for me.  I'm a big believer that good LYSs will be around if we support them. 

[Before I get slammed with comments, let me acknowledge that I realize that my situation is not representative of others, and "significant" savings means different things to different people.]

I also believe that LYSs will be around if they offer us knitters outstanding service in a way that no on-line store could ever achieve.  Treat me well, and I'll be a loyal customer (and recommend others!)  This does mean that sometimes I'll come to your store to browse, to look at color cards, to touch, to pick your brain, and (yes!) to take notes--without buying a skein.  It's give and take.

Let me give you an example.  Just before visiting this store, I popped by A Good Yarn (Definitely one of my LYSs, and if you're local to Boston, it should be one of yours, too.  See what I mean about recommendations?).  I had a credit there, and I needed a US5 Addi circular.  I also wanted to browse a bit among the books.  I spent a friendly half hour (at least!) feeling yarns, skimming books, and talking to the staff.  Guess what: I walked out with not only my needle but also a pattern book (everyone's having babies you know).

It must stink to be a yarn-store owner and realize that someone is using your expertise and your store's resources to research an on-line purchase.  I'm not sure what can be done about that, but I know that chastising potential customers is not a good business strategy.

I'm definitely leaning towards the Koigu for this project.  Unfortunately, I won't be placing the order at this store.


So, I finished the back of Matt's vest, did a little dance, and got right back to work.  I cast on for the front.


When I cast on, I did something new.  I placed stitch markers every ten stitches.  This way, I only needed to count to ten, something that even I can do with relative ease.

A lot of you do this when you're casting on a large amount of stitches, for something like a lace shawl.  Perhaps I'm just getting warmed up!

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