November 2006 Archives

This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

October 2006 is the previous archive.

December 2006 is the next archive.

Mystery Back Bay Knitter of the Week

While I wouldn't consider the Pizza Depot in Back Bay Station to be the ideal spot for KIPing, sometimes you need to make do with what you got:


While I was photographing this woman, I couldn't determine why the shots were so blurry. DUH! There's obviously a plate-glass window separating us. Why didn't I notice that at the time?


Dark skies and straightforward knitting do not a good blog entry make.

Or something like that.

Yesterday was one of those gray, overcast mornings that make me want to curl up in bed for a few more hours. Because it was Tuesday, I didn't have the option of doing that. I also didn't have the option of blogging. Or, I did, but unless you wanted to see a picture of a blurry red blob, I think that I was better off skipping my post.

In spite of the weather, subway knitting has been going very well. Extremely well. I have nothing more to report about Wavy Cables, except to say that I have about eight more inches before I bind off. Oh wait! I mistwisted some cables yesterday. But all that I had to do was tink back two rows, retwist them and keep on knitting. No surgery was required. Yawn!


Turkey Hangover

This long holiday weekend leaves me with a lot of leftovers and a slightly longer scarf:


As you can see, I'm about two and a half inches into the fourth ball of yarn. I think that I'll be able to wear this well before Christmas.

Gobble Gobble, Knit Knit


I didn't knit this, honest. But, if you want to give this pattern a try (it is kind of cute--it might make a nice hostess gift for a fellow knitter) you can find it here.

Happy Thanksgiving, if you're celebrating, and enjoy the weekend!

Keep on Going

This Wavy Cables Scarf is addicting. By now I don't need the chart (to tell you the truth, after I worked out the pattern, I didn't need the chart again) so I can knit with abandon.


And knit with abandon I have done. Morning, noon, and night I'm knitting this scarf and enjoying it every minute. I'm two-and-a-half skeins in, and the scarf measures about 40 inches. I'll start trying it on when it gets to four feet, but I suspect that I'll want to knit until the scarf is at five feet before thinking about binding off.

Mystery Subway Knitter of the Week

Just when I was thinking that it's been a long time since I spotted a fellow subway knitter:


Amid the blur of the morning commute our knitter was busy working with some light-purple yarn, English style. Is it a scarf? A sweater? A hat? I guess we'll never know.

Yarn Doesn't Grow on Chairs

Or does it?


Imagine my surprise when I discovered two skeins of Socka lying on my desk chair. They weren't there when I left the previous night. Had the yarn fairies been at work? Yes, in a way. Turns out that a knitter in another office inherited a stash from a relative. Knowing that I knit, she decided to share.

So, I now have two skeins of colorway 9140. Aren't they pretty? Those Germans sure know how to make sock yarns.

Thanks Stacey!

Thirty One Inches

That's the length of my Wavy Cables Scarf as of this morning.


It goes on, and on, and I'm only two skeins in! I should have more than enough for the scarf, with perhaps some left over for a simple hat.


I was being so careful with my cabling. Or so I thought.


Look at that cable on the left hand side of the photo. This pattern makes the stockinette columns sway back and forth by alternating C2B and C2F cables every six rows. I knew this, yet somehow I managed to twist one cable wrong in that row.

Of course, I didn't discover this until I was a few repeats above the mistake. Did I stop knitting when I noticed it? No way! I was in some waiting room where I could not imagine not knitting. Later on, I could easily unravel those four stitches to the mistwisted cable, redo that repeat, and work my way back up.

At home, I did just that. First, I prepared myself and my space. I made sure that all was right with my world. I was fed, hydrated, and comfortable. I harbored no ill will toward anything or anyone. I took out the trash (it was trash night, after all). I considered unplugging the phone, but in the end decided to let the voicemail take any incoming calls (none came). I put a glass of water by my side. My knitting implements were on the table. Everything I would need for the next hour or so was within an arm's reach.

One by one, I undid those four stitches down to the wrong cable. When each stitch was unraveled as far as I needed to go, I placed it on a spare piece of yarn. Eventually I had four stitches ready to be reworked.


It looks scary, doesn't it? I refused to get nervous about the sight of all those loose strings. After all, I know how to fix a dropped stitch, and this fix was doing that with four of them. I patiently began to rework each row. For reworking a single stitch, I would use a crochet hook. But, for four stitches I wanted to make sure that each new loop was properly sized. I used a pair of US8 straights to lift and drop each loop over that row's length of yarn. When I came to a cable row, I twisted the stitches first, then rehooked the loops just as you would do with a dropped stitch.

Patience, of which I possess little, was key here. I used my entire supply. Eventually (about 90 minutes later) I had reworked the four stitches back to the top. I was ready to continue, only this time I checked every cable as I knit them. I don't want to waste another evening on another careless error.


Wavy Cables Scarf

Here it is, just in time for cold weather and holiday knitting, the pattern text for my Wavy Cables Scarf. It's a reversible-cable scarf that looks good on both the front and the back. There'll be a chart as soon as I can download that knitting font and create a grid in Excel.

Wavy Cables Scarf





Yarn: Valley Yarns "Amherst" 109 yards/50g. Colorway 163445 "Burgundy". Available here via WEBS online store. Five balls.
[I'm actually using some merino handspun that I bought way back in October at Rhinebeck. I know little about this yarn, and since I bought Morehouse's entire stock (all four hanks), most importantly I don't know where you'll be able to find more of it. Not to worry, the WEBS yarn is an extremely soft worsted-weight merino and it will be perfect for this scarf.]

Needles: US8s, cable needle

Notions: stitch markers

Gauge: People, it's a scarf; gauge isn't key here. For my scarf, I'm getting about six to seven stitches per inch in pattern. The pattern calls for 40 stitches (nine repeats, plus two stitches worked in seed on each end) and my scarf measures six inches across before blocking. I expect that it'll expand in width when blocked.

Length: You can make it as long or as short as you want. To give you a better sense of how much yarn you need to buy, five skeins of Amherst will probably yield about 72 inches of scarf. That'll be perfect for wrapping around your neck over, and over, and over again.

Abbreviations: C2B: slip two stitches onto a cable needle and hold to the back, knit the next two stitches. Return the stitches held on the cable neede to the left needle and knit them.
C2F: slip two stitches onto a cable needle and hold to the front, knit the next two stitches. Return the stitches held on the cable neede to the left needle and knit them.
OR, do the cables without a cable needle. Instructions here.
k: knit
p: purl
PM: Place marker

Cast on 40 stitches. [The pattern is in multiples of four stitches.] Changed the width by casting on fewer or more stitches. Always ensure, however, that you have enough stitches for an ODD number of repeats across. 40 stitches = 9 cable repeats (9x4=36), plus 4 stitches for the edging (36+4=40)

Knit two rows of seed stitch.

Begin working the 12-row stitch pattern as follows:

Row 1: k1, p1, PM, *(k4, PM, p4, PM)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, k4, PM, k1,p1
Row 2: p1, k1, *(p4, k4)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, p4, p1, k1
Row 3: k1, p1, *(C2B, p4)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, C2B, k1, p1
Row 4: as row 2
Row 5: k1, p1, *(k4, p4)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, k4, k1, p1
Row 6: p1, k1, *(p4 C2B)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, p4, p1, k1
Row 7: as row 5
Row 8: as row 2
Row 9: k1, p1, *(C2F, p4)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, C2F, k1, p1
Row 10: as row 2
Row 11: as row 5
Row 12: p1, k1, *(p4 C2F)* Repeat from * to * 4 times, p4, p1, k1

When you're satisfied with your scarf's length, end the last repeat at Row 11 (corrected from Row 8). Knit two rows of seed stitch and bind off. Block the scarf, add some tassles if you would like, and enjoy your warm neck!

Look Ma, No Needle!

Cables are the big scam of the knitting world. They're great for fooling the non-knitters in your life. Give a non-knitter a cabled handknit and they'll think that you labored endlessly to achieve that look. We knitters know the truth: cables are nothing more than a few twisted stitches every couple of rows. They're very easy, and lots of fun.


The same goes for cabling without a cable needle. It's so easy to do! I figured this out in about 15 minutes on my couch. What's with all the step-by-step video tutorials out there? I admit that I clung fiercely to my cable needle because I wasn't sure that it would be a good idea to have live stitches dangling in space while I was riding the train. I shouldn't have worried.

You just need to get the pairs twisted and rearranged on your left needle before you knit them. Yes, there are live stitches hanging, but for only a few seconds.

So, to do a C2B (cable 2 back) just insert your right needle into the front of the cable's second pair of stitches (as if to do a P2Tog). Next, slip all four cable stitches off of your left needle, while keeping that second pair on your right. You now have two live stitches (the first cable pair) off of the needles. Scary! But, quickly slip that first pair onto your left needle. You now have the first cable pair on your left needle, and the second cable pair on your right. Transfer the second pair from your right needle to your left. All four cable stitches are now on the left needle, with both pairs properly positioned for a C2B. Knit those four stitches.

That's it--I think. If I'm missing a far easier technique, please let me know.

With two repeats of the scarf done, I know that this cable pattern works as I want it to. Barring some kind of computer or server disaster, I will post the pattern text tomorrow.

Crazy For Cables

Yup, tweaking the Reversible Cables Scarf pattern to resemble the twisty cable in the Harmony Guide was not very difficult at all.


After I charted the Lion Brand pattern for the Reversible Cable Scarf (free on the website), I noticed that the cables on the front and back were separated by columns of purl stitches. Those columns of purl stitches became the cables of the opposite side. Simple, yet clever.

When I swatched up a couple of repeats in a six-stitch version of the Harmony Guide's cable the result looked a little chunky. Not only do the wide cables strain the yarn, the purl-stitch column was too wide and distracted one's eye from the cable. The scarf also needs to be wider. Since I need an odd number of repeats (to keep the cables and columns centered across the scarf) I would need to add two addtional repeats. With five six-stitch cables across, the scarf would become too wide.

I knit a few rows of stockinette, respaced my stitch markers, and started again. This second repeat at the top uses only a four-stitch cable--just like the Harmony Guide pattern. Much better! The stitches are less stretched, the purl columns sink into the background, and the eight additional stitches (which I did not add in this swatch) will give me the perfect width.

Next up, cabling without a cable needle!

Next on the Needles

What's next for Subway Knitter?

Well, remember this burgundy yarn that I picked up in Rhinebeck? It's time to make some use of that.


A dig through some of my pattern books yielded a nice eight-row cable that twists back and forth. This one comes from The Harmony Guides 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns, Volume 5.

But, knitting neighbor Amy recently showed me a pattern for a Reversible Cable Scarf. It's free on the Lion Brand website (although registration is required). This pattern is cleverly designed to look good on both the front and back sides. That's the catch with most cabled scarves. They look great on the front, but not so much on the back. I like the twisty eight-row cable, but I like the reversible design of the Lion Brand Scarf

What's a knitter to do? Well, to continue grand tradition of never leaving well enough alone, I'm about to combine the twisty eight-row cable and the Reversible Cable Scarf into one crazy cabled scarf. Can I do it? As I type this, I have no idea. It's certainly worth a try. The first step will be to chart out the Lion Brand pattern to see just what the heck is going on. Stay tuned.

Sock Spectacular

I spent this past weekend visiting with my niece, and knitting my second sock:


The sock was easier to photograph than the niece. Kate was surrounded by doting relatives all weekend long, and I caught only fleeting glipses of her as she was passed from grandparent to grandparent to great-grandparent. There should have been a waiting list for that rocking chair. It was a busy weekend for Miss K, let me tell you.

While I was watching Kate from afar, I had my hands free to knit and knit and knit some more. I finished the sock, and still had yarn left over. I bet that Lucy's skeins have enough yarn to knit proper kneehighs. Next time, perhaps I'll give them a try.

I also had time to watch some cable television this weekend. I'm left with two questions. Who gave Hulk Hogan a reality TV show? Why was I unable to stop watching it until someone else changed the channel?

I Feel Like Singing!

Heck, I live alone. I might as well break into song. Maybe I should sing a French song. Maybe I would, if I knew any besides "Frère Jacques."


It was knit twice, and blocked three times. This was definitely a knitting victory snatched from the wooly jaws of defeat. I love this beret. It flops perfectly. From now on, this will be my beret pattern of choice.

The details:

The Birdwatcher's Beret KnitKit from Morehouse Merino. It's available here. I don't know if the pattern is available by itself, but I bet Morehouse does--ask them. A few people have requested a copy of the pattern, sorry can't do it.

Needles: US6s

Yarn: Morehouse Featherlight Merino (it comes with the kit) in the Grey Bluebird colorway.

What I changed: I substituted the three-row garter-stitch band for a four-row, K1P1 band. I also adjusted the pattern for my gauge.

Would I knit this again? Two skeins of Malabrigo, patiently waiting in the Subway Stash, say "yes!"

What would I do differently next time? I would definitely use the ribbed band again. I'm not sure that I wouldn't chop off a few stitches, and make the band about an inch smaller. It's something to try for the next version.

Second Nature

I remember a time when I had to focus on knitting short-row heels. All that wrapping, turning, SSSP action required all of my attention.

Now, however, heel turning seems to have become second nature. When did that happen? And the heels seem to go quickly, too. That's almost too bad, because the heels and toes of socks are my favorite parts.

I finished the first part of this heel on the subway yesterday and the second part while I was on the phone. Did you hear me? On the phone! Talk, talk, chat, chat, and before I knew it there was a finished heel on my DPNs. Amazing!


So pretty. Now why would anyone knit a heel flap? :-)

Oh, and uh, don't read blogs on Saturdays? You might want to breeze by tomorrow morning. Just sayin'...

Dry, Dry, Dry!

Since minimal sock progress was made yesterday, I'm right back to the hat.


There is just a touch more moisture in this hat. If I could get my heat to come on once more, the radiator beneath the hat would take care of that lingering bit of wetness. [Yes, the hat is resting on a cooling rack. I do find interesting ways of using my cookware.]

It's been pretty mild, temperature-wise, in Boston these past couple of days. I'm not complaining about that. I suppose that I could turn up my thermostat to an absurd level, and get the heat to come on that way, but somehow I think that the more planet-friendly approach would be to let the water evaporate on its own.

Let's Change the Subject

By now, I'm sure that you're all begging for a break from post after post about my struggles with the Birdwatcher's Beret. I'm happy to oblige:


(please ignore the rare use of flash photography--what an awful photo)

The cuff of sock number two is moving along well. No struggles here! To remind everyone, the yarn is Lucy's merino-tencel handdyed sock yarn. I am enjoying this simple pair very much. I can knit without thinking too much about it, although I notice that when I take my eyes off of the ribbing for too long, I tend to split stiches.

The first time that I knit with Lucy's yarn, I timidly worked eight-inch cuffs. This time, I'm knitting long 10-inch cuffs that will surely keep my ankles warm when the winter winds are blowing.


Here goes nothing:


What you have above is your kitchen sink blocking action shot, or, as we knitters prefer, the KSBAS. Before dumping the hat into the sink for bath number three (But really, who's counting?), I ran a length of yarn under the knit stitches and above the purl stitches of my ribbing. Then I cinched the yarn tight.

This might just work. Not only will the cinching pull the ribbing in and possibly restore its stretch, the band will dry smaller. Might we possibly see a properly fitting Birdwatcher's Beret in the next few days?

Well, I don't like to say too much. But by now I am bound and determined to get this hat to fit in just the same way that the store sample did. It is a matter of principle. I know that it can, so it should. If this doesn't work, I'm frogging the hat, and rewinding the yarn. I'll felt all the ends together. Then I'll tie the yarn together, wash, weight, and dry it. I'll start over again, and again, and again, if I have to.

Obsessed? Yeah, probably. So, uh, please keep your fingers crossed that this reblocking works.

Do remember to put down your needles today and vote.

No, That Was Not Clever

(Part 1,798,204 in the saga of the Birdwatcher's Beret)

One of these days you're all expecting the obligatory FO post about the Birdwatcher's Beret from Morehouse. Sorry folks, but it ain't going to be today.

While the beret blocked on its soup-pot lid, I was completely unaware of the grave error I was committing. Remember what I wrote about the garter stitch band? That it wasn't stretchy enough? Well, if you overblock ribbing, it also looses its elasticity. That's precisely what I was doing with the soup-pot lid.

Sure, sure, the lid was a nifty form for the body of the hat, but it was too large to block the hat without stretching the dickens out of the ribbed band.


My plan is to run some yarn through the ribbing, cinch it together, and reblock. If that doesn't work, you're all invited to my house for a hat burning ceremony.

A Pattern With My Name On It


Pretty Clever

I struggled to come up with a clever title for this post, and, well, that's what I got. I finished knitting the beret, did a bit of finishing, and I was ready to wear it outside.

The problem was that the beret was not ready for its world debut. The yarn was all puckered from being knit and reknit. It despirately needed to be blocked.

After a good soak in the sink, and a good wring in a towel, I laid out the beret to block.


What is holding that beret? A soup-pot lid! Conveniently, the pot lid rests on my radiator. So, as the radiator warms the room, the lid conducts heat and gently warms the beret. Clever, no?

That's Better

The Birdwatcher's Beret needed a little ribbing on the bottom. The garter stitch looked nice, but the band it created wasn't elastic enough to hold itself snugly on my head. Now that I think about it, the store sample I tried on might have had ribbing at the band. That would explain why it fit me so well.


Ah, that's better. Four rows of ribbing, instead of three rows of garter makes a huge difference. This might just be the perfect beret pattern for my head.

I'm so excited to finish this hat! Must go knit....


ATTENTION KNITSMITHS: This Sunday's (November 5th) meeting at Booksmith is canceled. Just this Sunday's meeting is canceled. Don't get any crazy idea that every meeting is canceled. It's just this Sunday. Repeat: don't go to Booksmith looking for the Knitsmiths on Sunday November 5th, because we won't be there. Apparently they need the downstairs space for a reading, and they can't host both us and the author (who obviously isn't a knitter) this Sunday. Boo.

In other "boo" news, finishing the Birdwatcher's Beret from Morehouse didn't take long. But, I wasn't happy with the result. Despite painstakingly checking my gauge and adjusting the pattern for that gauge (4.5 stitches instead of 4) it's hard to hide the fact that this hat is much to big for my noggin.


I'm telling you: the store sample fit me perfectly. There was nothing else to do but frog that thing. What went wrong?

The brim was too wide. The straightforward solution would be to cast on fewer stitches.

That's what I did. But, after knitting the first three rows in garter stitch I became concerned that the brim was too small. To check the size, I slipped the brim off of the needles and tried to slip it over my head. Yup, too small for Subway Knitter's big head.

Frog, frog, frog. Accidentally break the yarn, get the yarn hopelessly tangled, and resist the urge to swear and fling this hat across the apartment. Untangle the yarn, rewind it, and go to bed. More tomorrow.

Dear Amtrak,

I write to thank you for Monday morning. We were almost an hour late leaving Penn Station, and you kept us well entertained the entire time. That conductor was quite funny: telling us that he didn't "think" that the smoke we smelled was anything to worry about, and that it was "just something" to do with the overhead wires. Oh, you mean the wires that supply the electricity that propels the trains forward, closer to their destinations? Is that all? What a kidder!

In addition to that wannabe standup-comedian who had us rolling in the aisle ("We might need to reverse into New Jersey before we can get going again!") you gave me 60 more minutes of knitting time than I had expected. I really appreciated it. And, I'll never forget about those extra 10 minutes in New London when we waited for the barge at the drawbridge (although, in all fairness, that really wasn't your doing). Knit, knit, knit! With this extra time I was able to finish the foot, and even the toe. If I had had my grafting instructions with me, and if you had figured out a way to hang around Providence for 30 minutes or so, I would have been able to finish the entire thing.


As it was, I was pleased with the progress I made. But, there's no reason for you to repeat this ever again. Trust me, once was enough.


Subway Knitter

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