April 2007 Archives

This page is an archive of entries from April 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

March 2007 is the previous archive.

May 2007 is the next archive.


Well, comments have been restored, along with (unfortunately) the comment spam. Seems like the comment plugin was good--too good, actually. As many of you discovered it blocked not only comments on older posts, it blocked the comments for all posts. Whoops! Sorry about that. Thanks for all the emails alerting me to this. By the time, however, that I found out about the problem, I was away from a computer where I could access my MT software.

And anyway, blocking the comments kept the spammers away for approximately 36 hours. Needless to say, the search continues for a better fix.

Along with that quest, the sleeve continues. I finished the first sleeve on the subway during my Friday morning commute. Amtrak was good to me this weekend. Not only was my train to New York on time into Penn Station, I had heaps upon heaps of uninterrupted knitting time. Combine that with a quiet seatmate, pretty scenery (at least until it got too foggy and dark to see much of it), and I was one happy knitter.


I just reached the top increases as the train pulled into Back Bay.

So Close I Can Taste It

Thank you to everyone who responded to my plea for help with comment spam. I downloaded an anti-spam plug-in from Movable Type, installed it this morning, changed some settings, and it works. (Message to anyone who was told last night that I was having trouble doing this: I figured it out this morning.) Entries older than seven days no longer have comments enabled. When you try to leave a comment for these posts you encounter a blank page. Go ahead, try it! I'll wait......

Back? The only thing I don't like about this plug-in is that blank page. I wonder if there's a way to post some text, because it's confusing to a legit commenter. But, if it keeps the spammers away, all the better.

I'm almost done with sleeve one! Unfortunately, this ball of yarn is going to run out soon, I'll need to attach a new yarn for about five rows. Oh well, at least I have the yarn to attach. Imagine if I didn't.


Skirt Alert!

HELP! My blog is getting attacked by spam comments. Seems like I remember someone (Cara?) mentioning an MT plugin that allows you to shut off comment for old posts without having to go individually into each entry. I can't keep up with the spam; I need that plugin.

Anyway, most of the skirt sewing was done in an afternoon. Finishing (sewing the hem; and tacking down the waistband, the lining's edges against the zipper, and finally the lining's hem to the skirt's hem) took another few hours.

I'm more than a little pleased with the result:


Please excuse the self-portrait-with-timer composition. [Although, I could see some artist doing the same thing and getting a big gallery show out of it. "Jane Smith installed digital cameras throughout her apartment and set them to take photos every 12 seconds. This is a selection of those images. Says Jane, "It's really an experiment in time and place. I want us to question our own perceptions about our lives.'"] So, maybe I'm on to something here.

It must be really difficult to photograph silk without it looking like a wrinkled blob. I swear to you that this skirt is not as wrinkled as it looks in the photo.

The details:

Pattern: Butterick 3134, view B.

Fabric: 1 5/8ths yards of raw silk that I bought in New York (don't even ask me what store--I don't remember). Lining fabric from WinMil Fabrics, Boston.

Time to complete: About a day and a half.

What I changed: I added a lining. I also changed the direction of the pattern pieces on the material, so that the grain runs vertically, not horizontally.

Would I sew (I almost typed "knit"--ha!) this again: Yes! I would also sew the slightly fuller version included in the pattern.

How's That Sleeve?

The purple skirt is almost done, but the cardigan is slow going.

Slowly, slowly I work toward finishing sleeve one. After I solved the matter with the circular needle (by switching to two circs) my speed improved. I have a wedding to attend in about a week and a half, and while I could make myself miserable and finish this cardi in time (by doing nothing else but knitting for the next 10 days) I think that I'll continue to take it slow and find something else to wear.


I should have loads of additional knitting time towards the end of the week. After my last trip (which consisted of standing around in the cold at Port Authority for an hour getting accosted by panhandlers), I finally gave Greyhound the boot, and I'm back on the train!

Remember that Dress?

Yesterday's post reminded me that I never blogged about finishing the sundress that I sewed way, way, waaaaay back in March.

I finished the sundress with no problems, and then I tried it on. The top? Too big! This problem was mentioned in this Pattern Review thread, also. I was hesitant to believe what a random reviewer wrote (maybe she didn't measure herself properly, maybe her seam allowances were off) but you can trust me: go down one size in this pattern. Rather than throwing the whole thing down in disgust at the time, effort, and money wasted on this project, I took the thing to my tailor.

Richard, at Bostonian Tailoring on Province Street (right behind Borders Books in Downtown), is my tailor. And he's a nice guy. He's told me before when something's not worth fixing, and he's made a few suggestions about things that have worked out beautifully. I trust his judgment.

So, when I explained the problem I was having with my project, he immediately told me that he would help by doing a fitting. He graciously gushed all over the sundress--especially the zipper--and created a fix that involved leaving the zipper in place. He had me take out about a half-inch from each of the side seams. Richard even pinned up the hem--shorter than I would have done, but the end result was great (see what I mean about the good judgment.)

He even gave me a hook-and-eye closure for the back. And he didn't charge me a dime. This was very kind of him.

Here's the finished product, perfect for an evening out in Martinique:


A New Skirt (Almost)

Subway Knitter doesn't knit on the beach, and she doesn't sew on the subway (Could you imagine?) She sews at home, on weekends (Among other things. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I sit home--alone--doing nothing but clipping seam allowances and turning hems all weekend every weekend. No, no, no!)

Last Saturday, I pulled out my machine to work on this skirt. I bought the fabric during one of my March jaunts to New York.

Making the skirt proved not too challenging. Overall I had some trouble with this raw silk. The fabric frays like...like, well I don't know what it frays like, but it frays a lot and quickly. I made an executive decision to change the direction of the pattern pieces on the fabric (I wanted the lines in the raw silk to run vertically, nor horizontally) and that might have contributed to the fraying. I had some trouble closing seam below the zipper because the seam allowance frayed to the point where there almost wasn't enough fabric to make the seam. I fixed this by sewing a second seam from the hem to the zipper that was about 1/8th of an inch further in. Fortunately that worked just fine.


I'm rather proud of the way that this zipper looks, or rather doesn't. Another successfully invisible zipper! This one wasn't any less challenging than the first, but I think that the result is slightly better (just slightly). If anyone's curious, I used these instructions.

I also added a lining.


Miraculously I remembered to position the pattern pieces so that the stripes matched before I cut them. Usually a detail like that would have been an afterthought for me. The result is a series of mostly matched stripes (the seam on the right is a little off).

I had some trouble with the waistband. Despite cutting the fabric to the size indicated by the pattern piece (and I checked, twice) the waistband wouldn't fit around the skirt. Luckily I had some extra fabric and interfacing and I was able to cut out a second, longer, waistband. The second time I added too much extra length and ended up cutting off some from each end. No biggie. All's well that ends well in sewing.


Not bad for one afternoon. I figure that I spent about $35 to $40 on this project (including the fabric, pattern and notions). That's definitely cheaper than anything that I could have bought. (Anyway, I challenge you to find a simple, A-line silk skirt at any price these days.) Only the finishing remains. I do like the look of the lining peeking out from under the hem, but if I want a little splash of something down there I'll attach some lace, or perhaps a ruffle in some purple fabric. The stripes might match, but the repeats certainly don't, and I know that I would focus on that detail every time I wear this skirt.

Une Tricoteuse Mysterieuse à la Plage*

[Did anyone besides Dorothy B have problems commenting on Friday?}

The weather was such a distraction yesterday that I forgot to blog. That's right, forgot! I had a post lined up in my head and everything, but between the weather and my sewing machine that thought just went right out the (open) window.

So, it's time, I think, to tell a few stories from my recent vacation. Martinique was a whole week of sun, warm beaches, good food, and pleasant scenery. What more could you want? Oh, and Veronique, the only thing petit about those 'Ti Punches is the amount of fruit juice relative to the amount of rum. Egads! (They're good though--try one.)

Anyway, it would seem that even though I was on vacation, blogging wasn't. I spotted this woman a few blankets down.


It looked like she was knitting a scarf, or a dishcloth, or perhaps she was swatching for a sweater. And what was I doing during all this (besides taking photos)? Reading a book. Subway Knitter doesn't knit on the beach. There's just too much sand.

* Thanks to Maryse, who double-checked my French.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Hear The Knitters (Thanks to Sven, for sending me the link).

There's a contest to win tickets. Unfortunately, I won't be in NY on the 2nd. Those of you who will be, though, should enter.

On a completely different note, the weather today is perfect for a public wearing of the Santa Cruz hat. Whoo! Almost makes me want to leave early for work. Almost. The coffee cup, however, draws me right back to my chair.

Mystery Sidewalk Knitter of the Week?

You all know me, I'll knit just about anywhere.


Maybe not, however, on the Mass. Ave. sidewalk in Central Square. Somehow this doesn't seem like it would be very comfortable, especially on a day like today.

But I'm thinking that knitting's exactly what I need on a day like today to chase away those weather blahs. Hopefully I'll have time for that later (indoors, where it's warm and dry).

Brilliant Idea!

Thank you all so much for your comments on Friday regarding the Lilac Cardigan's sleeve! As soon as I began to have trouble with the 30cm Addi Turbo, magic loop should have been the obvious alternative.

Except that I don't possess a US8 needles that has a cable long enough to do magic loop. And since that doesn't seem like an extremely practical purchase, I went with the next best thing: two circulars.

I took my 30cm Addi and combined it with another that's 60cm and I was off and running.


Progress was minimal. I was a bit distracted:


Now how could I bother with my needles when I was holding something this cute?


As you might have guessed, knitting the sleeves first gives me more time to think about how I want the body of the cardigan to look.

This is the first time that I have knit with a 12-inch (or 30cm) Addi Turbo. I must say that I wish that cable were just a touch longer, or that I could further bend the needle points to make a tighter curve. Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to the angle at which the needles must be held in order to make a stitch. Or maybe the next time that you see this sleeve it'll be on DPNs.


I cast on during my morning commute, but little progress was made on the way home. Why? I was soaked! Somehow I managed to pick the absolute rainiest 10 minutes of the day to walk to the train. Let's not forget the hail and wind, too!



Ready, Set, Go!

I swatched, I thought, I even did some math. The simple fact is that I'm ready to begin my lilac cardigan.


I spent a long time with the swatch for this one. Which needle? Which cable? At the last minute I decided to knit a few rows with US9s in an attempt to get the gauge indicated on the yarn label. The stitches were just a touch too loose in stockinette. Plan abandoned, and I'm back at 4.5 stitches an inch on my US 8s.

I thought a lot about the edgings for this project. On Tuesday, Silvia's post reminded me to look through my pattern books to find a decorative edging. But then, in a hazy thought just before I drifted off to sleep on Tuesday night, I realized that I'm using ribbon yarn. How clear is a lacy pattern going to show in this stuff? Not very. So, I'm back to simple garter stitch for the edging, and I'm quite pleased about the idea.

Now that it's time to cast on, I decided to begin the sleeves first. But which sleeves do I use? I love the bell sleeves in the Hourglass Sweater, and I incorporated their shape into my Subway Sweater. In that sweater I think that I finally achieved the right armhole shape for me. Why not use it again? I easily adjusted those sleeve instructions for my gauge.

I'm finally back to only one project on the needles. It's so much easier for me to think about one project at a time.

Weather Appropriate

The cold weather that's been hanging around in New England has made it easier to be knitting a pair of my Charlie Card Mittens in April.


I need to run down to Windsor Button at lunch to buy a button. I started these about a month ago, and slowly knit my way through. I have only some ends to weave in; otherwise, these are done.

You'll see them again. Promise ;-).

Easter Bonnet

Were you in Boston this weekend? I don't know about you, but the only "bonnet" that I was wearing was a thick layer of wool in the form of my Birdwatcher's Beret from Morehouse Farm. It was freezing. I'm not the first person to say that we had Easter weather at Christmas, and Christmas weather at Easter. Weather equilibrium has been restored! May we have spring now, please?

Anyway, I've been waiting for an appropriate day to unveil this finished hat. It's been either too cold or two warm. We haven't had that day of cool, blustery weather when this type of hat would be perfect. Therefore, I officially give up.


The Details:

Pattern: Santa Cruz Hat (free pattern from the February 2007 MagKnits by Sarah-Hope Parmeter.

Yarn: Cascade 220 (what else?)

Needles: US8s

What I changed: I made the hat bigger (in circumference) by adding one more repeat.

What would I change next time? I fluctuate between thinking that this hat needs to be longer and thinking that this hat needs to be more like a beret to fit differently on my head. Or maybe I just need to relax and get used to my head a snug-fitting hat. Everyone who sees this knit loves it.

Would I knit this again? You bet! I really, really enjoyed this pattern. Because it's written for different yarn weights, the pattern is a great stash buster, and a good one to keep in mind for the all-important Christmas Gift Knitting. Plus, I just thought that it was fun to knit. The above mentioned alterations would be very easy to make without changing the spirit of the design. In addition to wool, this hat would would knit up very well in an elasticized cotton yarn (Don't ask me which one. Do I know any elasticized cottons off the top of my head? I do not.)

What's Up My Sleeve?


It's my cardigan swatch in the Jaeger Albany. Images of this cardigan are slowly forming, but its original inspiration was the Wanda cardigan that Berroco issued recently as a free pattern.

Concerns, however, about Wanda are many. Is it just me, or does Wanda seem a bit unfinished? Look at how the decreases along the cable line pucker. Does the rope-like cable along the waistband not match at the seams? Why can't we see the front? What mysteries lurk there?

If I were a different type of knitter, I could look at the pattern and pick out the decrease problems and figure out why the front of the cardigan remains invisible.

As it is, I'm using Wanda as a staring point for my own (probably simplified) design. The matter for this swatch was the cabling. Would a two-stitch or four-stitch cable work? (Four, definitely.) Should I cable ever two or four rows? (Again, four works best.)

I'm looking forward to having only one project on my needles. It's much easier to focus.

One More About New York

Riding the subway a couple of Fridays ago I was reading Time Out New York to see all the things that I could have done if I vacationed there that week, instead of Martinique.

Flipping through the pages, I stumbled upon this Q&A:


Now, well, I'm not a big drinker (the term "cheap date" comes to mind) but this sounds worth a try. Next time that I'm in New York on a Monday evening, you'll know where to find me.

One More about Fabric

I'm having trouble creating interesting titles for my posts.

I want to write a little bit more about fabric shopping in the Garment District. This is mostly for myself, as a way to remember a couple of interesting stores I encountered. I can predict that pretty soon I'm going to toss or lose the few business cards I collected on that day.


Wow! I've never seen a fabric like this for sale to normal folk like myself. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but it's a piece of (wool?) felt with those strands of white felt sewn onto it. This was proof that the range of product available in New York is deeper than in most other places. Certainly I haven't encountered anything similar to this in the few fabric stores we have in downtown Boston.

It was a wee spendy--something like $60 a yard. But, if you consider that you would probably need no more than a yard or so for a skirt, that's not a lot to pay for something this unusual. I would love to sew a long, narrow A-line skirt from this, but I wonder if my machine could handle two (or more) layers of this dense material. I'll test its strength on the swatch.

The swatch came from N.Y. Elegant Fabrics, on W. 40th. Although the store didn't have exactly what I was looking for silk-wise, the selection of heavier fabrics (like the swatch above) was impressive. I'll definitely return. I found the staff helpful, and (as you already know) the inventory inspiring.

Before visiting this store, I stopped by Mood. You TV watchers know Mood, right? It's the store that's on Project Runway. I can't claim to know much about the the program or its format, because I don't watch the show, but others have told me that this store is featured prominently.

Upon entering one could tell that the place had very high hip factor. There were loads of young, chromatically coiffed design-types fingering expensive designer fabrics. And maybe if I had been in the market for a print designed by or produced for a big-name fashion person, I would have found my place. I wasn't. I found the store completely overwhelming and expensive (for what I wanted). In fairness to Mood, I'm always going to find a store with stacked bolts (rather than ones that are vertically shelved) to be overwhelming. To me, it's a store that cannot be fully appreciated after only one visit, rather it's a place that could slowly grow in appeal, as I learned the inventory.

In the end, I was happy with my purchase, and it should be no surprise to me that it came from a teeny store rather than somewhere like Mood. In all things shopping I seem to do better at small stores.

And, one more thing, I just saw this link on Nikki-Shell. Apparently sewing could be the new knitting (although don't expect to see any photographs of subway seamstresses on this blog any time soon). This gives me hope that we'll soon begin to see some more innovative designs available to the home sewer.

What's the Plan?

So, I arrived in midtown with a couple of hours to myself before the Harlot's appearance. The day was warm and I had a bulky suitcase with me, so a stroll through a museum was not exactly what I was looking for at the moment.

On the list for that New York visit was some fabric shopping. There's another sewing project in the works--this time a skirt--and I thought that a piece of silk would be nice. I wandered and I let the visual overload of all those colors and textures and fibers wash right over me. I spent a long time just letting my eyes wander in every shop that I visited.

It would have been sheer folly to allow myself to wander without giving myself some ground rules. Remember that great cotton ribbon yarn that I got from Kris in the swap? Finding a darker shade to coordinate with the Jaeger Albany was the goal.

After an hour or two, I settled on this. From a tiny shop on 37th. Or was it 38th? I don't remember.


It's time to start swatching the Jaeger.

She Returns

Yes, I am back. You can expect vacation details to trickle out over the next week or so.

What I need to blog about today is the Harlot's appearance in NYC. I went, I saw, I was happy. By now, I'm certain that every other blogger in attendance has written a detailed post. I won't bother with another rehash.

My original plan was to land at JFK with enough time to leisurely arrive at FIT with, perhaps, time for a coffee. But then, Stephanie mentioned a tour of the FIT knitting labs early on that Thursday afternoon. I couldn't change my flight (Well, I suppose that I could have done that, but that would have been a little extreme) but what I could do is hope that every link in the transportation chain went seamlessly.

I had two good omens on my side. First, I saw this:


Another airport knitter! And, I'm could be mistaken about this, but I think that she's in the same seat (or darn close) as my first airport knitter. I don't know what it is about that particular gate in Terminal C, but it certainly attracts the fibery types.

Second, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a knitting spouse on my flight to New York. Apparently this man's wife just started knitting. "And she's going like crazy!" he said. Poor man. The guy simply has no idea what's he's gotten himself into. In a show of solidarity with knitters everywhere, I told him that he needs to support his wife by buying her lots of yarn. "Oh, she's doing that quite a good job of that on her own." And so it begins....

So, I obviously thought that karma was on my side. It was not. Getting to FIT by 4:10 with a 3:00 arrival at JFK was cutting it close--I knew that. The next series of events didn't help. There was a ten minute delay at Logan due to "traffic at JKF." Then we left the gate but hung around the tarmac for at least 20 minutes. Then we landed and waited on the tarmac for several minutes. JetBlue took 15 minutes to get me my bag, then there was a problem with the AirTrain. All this put me at Jamaica a mere six minutes after the LIRR train I needed (the one that would have gotten me to Penn Station with nine minutes to get to FIT) departed. At that point, it might as well have been 600 minutes, and I was in a mood most foul. Couldn't airport things go my way once in a while?

Deflated, I dragged myself and my suitcase to the subway platform (no sense paying for a LIRR ticket, when a subway train would do the trick) just as a train roared out of the station. Fitting, I thought.

I had an hour to myself to hatch Plan B. Stay tuned.

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