August 2007 Archives

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

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

July 2007 is the previous archive.

September 2007 is the next archive.

Operation Shortrow

I have the perfect excuse for not blogging yesterday. I, Subway Knitter, was on a secret mission!

"A secret mission?" you ask. "In New York City?" Indeed! A secret mission to KIP (or knit in public, to the person who asked).

Of course, everything being all secret-mission like, I grabbed some supplies:


And headed to an undisclosed location:


Upon arrival at said undisclosed location, I did a quick visual recon:



and connected with my undercover informant. My undercover informant actually coined the name of this operation in a well-encrypted email message, and I almost fell off of my chair back at SKHQ (that's Subway Knitter Headquarters). That whole "Viva Knitsmiths South" business over on the right of my blog? That's all Shireen, uh, I mean, the work of my fellow agent.

Our first task? Sustenance.


Here's the secret password: black-and-white shake. Repeat after me: black-and-white shake. Mmmm-mmm good.

Once that was out of the way, we liaised with fellow field operatives:


[Please note second KIP photo in two days. Could things be picking up?]

And then we got to work:


Yup, I'm still pecking away at Kate's sweater. Graft, graft, graft. It's going rather well, Better pictures to follow.

Mystery BUS Knitter of the Week!

The sorry state of KIPing affairs around here means that I must resort to others' pictures of KIPers.


Colleen (I know, it's about to become confusing) upon reading of my troubles in capturing the KIPers of NYC Transit, graciously sent me this picture of a knitter on her bus. Thank you Colleen (not me), for making this blog a little bit better.


The point of this post (mostly) is to show off my cute (one-year-old) niece.


But another point is to show off her cute clothes.


Did somebody sew this dress for her? Because, like, it's cutie-patootie (hey, just like the niece).


The dress itself is a very simple design, but it's the detailing that makes it. I almost want a dress like this myself. Except that a 32-year-old woman walking around in a dress like this wouldn't look cute. Strange, definitely. Sad? Possibly. Cute? Not so much.

If this is a sewing pattern then I want to know what it is. Imagine the possibilities with a pattern like this. Switch out the blue cotton for some pink gingham and add some green polka-dot ribbons? Spring dress! Green with more green? St. Patrick's Day! Red checks with some red ribbon (with optional bandanna-inspired sunbonnet)? Someone's going to a picnic!

I know that Alison has been doing a lot of sewing for the wee one lately. The dress she used (although extremely cute as finished) would be a great candidate for some ribbon embellishments.

Astoria Report

I spotted a new awning on 31st Street yesterday, right at the end of the N/W.


Yup, pretty soon there's going to be a fabric store at my subway stop--right at the base of the stairs, in fact. Too bad that my sewing machine can't say the same thing...

Don't ask me about this Queens fixation on combining a fabric store with a variety store. I didn't realize that many people said to themselves "Hmm, I need milk, a newspaper, and a couple of yards of poplin." Apparently, however, people do.


As I hinted yesterday, today's post is all about a mysterious package that apparated into my apartment some time on Tuesday.

I unlocked my door on Tuesday evening, after an uneventful day marked by two subway rides and a quick stop at Whole Foods. Imagine my surprise when my eyes focused upon a manilla envelope leaning against the wall opposite the door. Hmmm, I thought. I know that wasn't there this morning when I left. Maybe Sven got home early? And then went back out (or disapparated)? There was no evidence of that. Besides, the mail was still in the box, and everyone knows that the first person home collects the mail from the box.

While I considered a few magical causes, the real reason behind the envelope and its location was anything but. Like many buildings in NYC, our super accepts packages and hangs on to them until he sees you. He has this uncanny ability to know when you've arrived in the lobby so that he can hand you the package as you're going upstairs. [Although he thinks that Sven's name is really Steve. "I have a package for Steve," he once said to me. It was on the tip of my tongue to say "Good for you!" Instead I asked "For Sven?" "Yeah, Steve." Whatever...] Or, he simply leaves the package outside of your door. I don't know what happens in other buildings, but this is what happens here.

For some reason the super decided to put the package inside the apartment. He's never done that before. It was a little bit strange, but no biggie. The super's a nice guy, and it's not like I found him sitting in the living room leafing through a copy of Interweave, "Hey! I made some coffee. Want some?" He just put the package inside the hallway and relocked the door. Maybe he thought that someone might kick it when getting out of the elevator (which is right near our door).

Or maybe this means that there have been reports of packages getting stolen when left in front of doorways. If that's the case, then I'm glad that he took the trouble to leave my envelope in a safe place, because this was what was inside:


First, let me say that this is not a book that I would ever buy for myself. And it's not just because there's a yarn/book moratorium chez Subway Knitter QNS. Romantic Knits? Me? Not so much.

After further investigation, I wholeheartedly agree with Claudia's assessment of the book. There's only a few things in here that I could actually envision myself wearing, but overall the patterns are the work of technological brilliance.

Before I go any further, I would like to officially apologize for the next several photos. I simply used my digital camera to take pictures of the pages. I didn't feel like sitting at my scanner for hours and hours. Perhaps in the future, blogger-reviewers could be lead to a website where we could download high quality images for our posts. Just a thought.

Annie Modesitt is not afraid to get technical with her designs,and push the idea of what's possible in knitwear. I like that. And yet, a few of my favorites are the most straightforward designs in the book.


Yeah, it's a ribbed tank with a funky edging. Nothing new here. Visually, however, I like the color combination, and I like the use of the ribs combined with the edging. It's definitely an idea to file away.


Call me crazy, but I like this design. I love long, flowing skirts in the summer. They're much more convenient than shorts for us weekend subway riders (bare skin on those seats? not on your life!) Of course, I would have to change it so that it wasn't a low-rise garment. I would want some guarantees that the skirt would splay out (like an A-line skirt), and not simply droop and cling as gravity pulled on the fabric. A clingy skirt is fine (see above) but it's not the look I want to achieve. Can such a look be achieved with a knitted fabric through the choice of yarn? Shaping? Construction? I wish that I knew. Remind me to continue this discussion in another post.


Lurve this! Of course, I would need to eliminate the peek-a-boo lace on the body, or be assured that I could find a cool white tee to wear underneath it. I want to know more, however, about the arm shaping. What's with the model's chicken wings? Is there puckering under there that we need to know about?

Designs that I thought were cool but that I would never, ever knit or wear:


First, because it's too long. I don't want to drag a beautiful silk skirt through the grass! Second, because knitting it would drive me bonkers. All that stockinette!! But, ironically, a pattern for a skirt has given me an idea for a sweater. Remember Kate Gilbert's swingy jacket a few Interweaves ago? What was it called? (Heck, you might think that sitting here with the internet at my fingertips I would look it up, but nooooo.) Imagine that shape with this stitch pattern and embroidery at the bottom. Nice, no?


Sexy. And I could think of people on whom this dress would be fantastic, but I'm not one of them. Didn't Grumperina knit this sample? Grumperina, designer of the Jaywalker? Who inspired whom, here :-)?


I don't like this dress at all (too clingy and too short), but look at the design, especially the front. Man, that's clever! I've been looking to do something like that for a long time.


I thumbed through many of the designs and was left with the idea that I could learn a lot from this book. And isn't that what we look for in knitting books and pattern? Inspiration? Education? I think so. If there's a great pattern or two thrown in, then so much the better.

Kudos to the publisher for not skimping on details like large, well-labeled schematics. Those are always helpful, especially in this book, when you need to know a lot about a garment to know if it'll work for you (or how to change it if it doesn't). If there's one thing I dislike it's a wimpy schematic (hello? Rowan?)

Also, I thought Anne's bibliography was a thoughtful touch. As someone who tries to design ocassionally, I was curious to see which resources a professional designer used to write her book and as overall knitting references. That's a great help to any knitter.

Annie's next book should be about design components--along the lines of Nicky Epstein's Knitting On (Over, Under, Beyond, Around, and Through :-P) the Edge series. I would buy it.

I Forgot to Blog This Morning

Apparently the dee-light of being able to read blogs with abandon has not yet worn off.

Picture me, click, click, clicking my way through Bloglines this morning. Suddenly dawns on me: why aren't my feeds updating? Because you didn't post anything. Duuuuuh!

Anyway, there's not much to talk about knitting wise today. I'm still working on the extension to Kate's sweater. It's going uneventfully well.


Purple, orange, purple, orange, purple, orange. I'm one happy subway knitter since I ditched the 4,5.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about a mysterious package (nope not Sockapalooooza, I didn't participate this time--and thank goodness for that, what with the move and stuff) that appeared in my apartment yesterday.

A Sweater for the Birthday Girl

I would like to take a moment here to wish our Miss Kate a happy first birthday. Way to go, girl! Can't wait to see some pictures from the big day.

It was a big day here this weekend as I finished and bound off Kate's sweater. And that's when it hit me. This thing is too darn short. Sure, kids this age are a little stubby (sorry, Kate, but it's true) but this would be a little extreme. And, as cute as Kate's belly button is, I'm not sure about a sweater that allows her to flash that belly button to all the world. I mean, what's the point of a sweater that doesn't cover your stomach? How's that supposed to keep you warm?


I was wrapping my brain around the idea of frogging back the shoulders, removing the sleeves, knitting a few more inches, and reattaching the sleeves. Basically, redoing the entire top of the sweater. I have the time. Kate can't think about wearing a sweater for at least two more months. Sure it would be a pain, but as all knitters know, sometimes that's the only solution.

Not the only solution, however, in this instance. I can kitchener, can't I? Couldn't I simply knit a few inches of stripes, then graft that extra length onto the bottom of the sweater? I could!

In fact, that's what I'm doing right now:


Some readers might wonder why I can't remove the seed-stitch waistband, pick up the live stitches at the bottom and knit down from there. I certainly could do that, if I didn't care about seeing a jog in my stitches. Think about it. Stockinette stitch is a series of Vs on its right side VVVVVVVVVVV. When the Vs are upright, so's your knitting. If I suddenly switch the direction of the stockinette, I'll have to switch the direction of the Vs. Visually, the difference will be slight, but it'll be there.

And that won't do for Kate! Besides, grafting is so much fun.

Lazy Summer Days

As of 10am this morning I was still the only one in my office. For a while I wondered if I had missed the take-Friday-off-it's-summer memo.

My knitting, however, is most definitely not taking the summer off. It keeps me hopping. Fair warning: I'm about to delve into a technical discussion that involves knitting math. If this is too much for you (and, hey, I don't blame you if it is) then just click on over to another knitting blog. You have every excuse not to keep reading.


So, one of the things that I like about the Child's Placket Neck Sweater from LMKG is that it's an easy pattern to modify. And you know if there's one thing that Subway Knitter likes doing, it's modifying patterns.

Or I should say that I'm not afraid of doing it. I sometimes don't enjoy the process, but I enjoy bossing around a pattern so that I does what I need it to do.

In this case I needed the pattern to accommodate a different yarn. The yarn that I'm using has a very similar stitch gauge (4.75 sts/in instead of the called-for 4.25 sts/in) to, but a hugely different row gauge (5.25 rows/in instead of the pattern's 8 rows/in) than the Lorna's for which the pattern was designed. Normally, if the stitch gauge is just a wee off, I'll mostly fudge the adjustments. I'll double check the number of cast-on stitches or change the overall amount of decreased or increased stitches. But if the instructions say to bind off three stitches, I'm not going to bother to worry about the fact that, at my gauge, I should be binding off 3.35 stitches. That's not enough of a difference to make a difference (and it goes without saying that one cannot bind off .35ths of a stitch).

But, the significant difference in row gauge and a slight difference in stitch gauge meant that not only would I need to adjust the number of decreased stitches in the shoulder shaping (125 stitches decreased instead of 112) but also that the larger number of decreased stitches would need to be spaced within fewer rows (15 decrease rows in 17 overall rows instead of 14 decrease rows within 26 overall rows).

Is your head spinning yet? Mine certainly was at this point. Furthermore, because these are raglan decreases they need to happen in quantities of 4, 8, 12, or 16 (email me privately if you don't understand why--but to briefly explain: what happens at one raglan needs to happen at all four). Let's think. The pattern decreases eight stitches at a time. 15 x 8 = 120. That's not quite enough stitches for me. How could I add four more decreases to get it to 124? Let's just forget about that extra stitch, 124 or 125, it won't make a huge difference at this gauge.

What if I did a double decrease on one side of each of the the raglan lines in one of the decrease rows? Ha! That'll work. I decided to do it on the first row. So, because four of the decreases are double decreases (and decrease two stitches instead of one), I decreased 12 stitches in that one row instead of only 8. 14 x 8 = 112, 112 + 12 = 124.

Still with me? Good, now follow these instructions: go mix yourself a nice mojito, sit on a beach chair, and relax. It's summer.


No, this isn't a post about seeing the Yarn Harlot somewhere (although that would be totally cool if I did and this were).

As Decision 2008 (or whatever silly title some network executive invents this time) looms large for American voters, I must remind all of us knitters in the US of the collective might we have.

Although I do take issue with the fact that this article is filed under Slate's "Low Concept" series. Knitting low concept? Harumph! I challenge Jessica Whatever-Her-Name-Is to turn a short-row heel and tell me that kind of magic is "low concept".

Knitters: we will not be ignored!

Carrot Juice

Longtime readers might be aware that KIPing photos have fallen from frequency on this here blog. There's no denying that. And let's not even get into the subway knitting photos. Where are all of you so-called NYC subway knitters? Did I scare you away? Come back! Come back!

Anyway, on a recent afternoon I found myself (by virtue of the R train) in Union Square. I realized that it had been a while since I took the time to sit and knit at a café. As one might do upon discovering that one is in Union Square, I headed to Souen, on E. 13th. Shireen introduced me to this establishment a few months ago, and I was happy for the opportunity to return.

Despite what you might think about an establishment that describes itself as macrobiotic, and mostly vegan, Souen is yummy. There I had an appallingly healthy (and extremely tasty) lunch.

I also realized that I'm losing my touch:


I swear to you that there was nothing but carrot juice in that glass.


Carrot juice and a bit of ginger.


Well, I promise to do better next time. But in more upbeat news, I think that I finally have a new banner shot:


Does anybody know the of the font used in the NYC subway?

It's a Good Thing...

that I don't use my butt for knitting.

Because, wow, after biking around Long Island on Saturday my behind was a bit sore.

That doesn't mean that I spent my entire weekend biking.

The first sleeve continues to grow.


Happy stripes, happy knitter, happy knitting! Unhappy butt.

Meet the Mets!

Alternatively, I could have titled this post "The Day I Got on the 'Tron"


Okay, well you can't see me right there, but I promise you I was on there for like a second.

Or, "Knitters Take Shea"? Despite what the NYT wrote there were no light-up needle freebies, and some of us were actual baseball fans and not a bunch of bimbos with pointy sticks.

Ours, all ours!

Yup, it's the annual Stitch and Pitch at Shea Stadium. Thanks to The Spiders, a ticket fell into my hands. And thanks to the 7 train, I actually made it there (yes, after Wednesday morning I was surprised as well).

I got interviewed for my first video podcast:


Let me tell you that whole "Way! No Way!" bit is going to make podcasting history.

Whew, all the camaraderie (and beer?) must have gone to my head. Pretty soon I started seeing fibery things everywhere!

Hey, is that roving you're handing out? No, just cotton candy.

And, look, are they carding that field? Oh, no, just raking the dirt.


Much fun was to be had. All the knitting! I can't believe that I saw knitters working on lace. Me? I could barely keep track of my two stripes.


Kate's sweater made it to Shea! This is appropriate. I hear that Kate's a big Carolina Mudcats fan.


Serious Knitting Time

Early yesterday morning I woke to the sounds of rain against the bedroom window and the low rumble of faraway thunder. It was cozy, so I rolled over and drifted off to sleep again.

What I should have done is immediately dressed and raced out of the apartment to catch the next subway.

Yesterday morning could best be described as commuting hell. New York needs to worry less about the next terrorist attack and worry more about the next weather forecast. And if the MTA wants us all to stay home, perhaps they should mention this before the majority of us leave for work.


It is at times like that when I am most thankful to be the Subway Knitter. Why? I'll tell you. I hopped on an N, found a seat, and while the train inched its way through Queens I inched my way up the body of Kate's sweater. As the train continued to Manhattan (after totally kidding about that whole we're-stopping-this-train-at-Queensboro-Plaza business), I continued with my stripes. All this worked well until I was unceremoniously booted off at Canal.

The colors shown in today's photo are a better representation than yesterday's. If things keep going like this I should be beginning the sleeves very soon.

Stripey Swatching

The swatch habit has really slipped of late. The yarn I'm using has a wacky gauge listed on the label (3.5 stitches and 4.75 rows per inch on a US10). I need to figure out my gauge on US7s, and double-check if the yarn likes to be knit on a much smaller needle than the label indicates. Maybe this yarn needs a US10. I don't think so, but it's best to be sure before starting the sweater.


As I suspected, a US10 would have been much too large of a needle to be using for what looks like a worsted-weight yarn. Can I just say that I love these two colorways together? [Neither is well represented in the above photo.] The combination is so cheery, yet so autumnal. I think that it'll be perfect for Kate.

Birthday Knits for Kate!

It's hard to believe, but our girl Kate is about to turn a year old. Whoo-hoo! Way to go! And what better way to celebrate than with some new duds?

Handknit duds, to be exact. How about a sweater? Since the bootie madness has died down around here, it's time to yank out my favorite childrens sweater pattern. The Child's Placket Neck Pullover from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. Why is this my favorite pattern? Because it's so easy to modify. I have yet to use the yarn specified in the pattern. Why? I refuse to knit a kid's sweater in anything but easy-care yarn. And to me easy care means machine wash and machine dry.

Late last week my quest began to find some Woolease. You might think that there's just about nothing that you can't find in Manhattan, and I would tend to agree with that. I'm here to tell you, however, that Woolease is not well represented amongst Manhattan yarn establishments.

Oh Windsor Button, how I miss thee!

Queens, however, wasn't about to let me down. We have a Michaels, and of course, Smiley's Yarns (which might form the closest approximation of WB to be had in the five boroughs).

Each of those places should be awash in Woolease. I can't tell you, however, because I never made it to either. Smiley's is closed on Sunday. The Michael's in Woodside required a subway/bus maneuver that I was loathe to attempt on a steamy summer day. A day which came hot on the heels of a very late night (yup, Subway Knitter's a bit of a party girl now and again).

What's a knitter to do? Remember that I blogged about the two yarn stores I discovered just blocks from chez Subway Knitter QNS? I almost forgot about them until Sven reminded me. (See? It's still not second nature to have these things in walking distance.) I struck out at Lamia's. Lots of Red Heart, but really icky colorways of Woolease. But there was Woolease on the shelves, so I can't complain.

Fabric Center is closed on Saturdays. So on Sunday, I stopped off there on (what I thought was) my way to Michael's. Lo and behold! There was no Woolease, but there was lots of something called Lazer by a company called Erdal. According to the label, it's 75 percent acrylic, 25 percent wool. Just about the same fiber content as Woolease. Score! While the label says "hand wash only" I'm not sure why (especially given that a nearby yarn, with the exactly the same fiber content and spin was machine wash and dry). It's soft to the touch, and I'm very happy with the colorways I found.


No more baby colors! We can't have Kate walking around (which she will be, shortly) in something that doesn't reflect the maturity and sophistication that one whole year of life confers.

Six Booties on the Sixth

The knitting mojo might be back, but somehow that doesn't correspond into blogging more regularly. Eh, well, I'm still getting used to the routine down here. It'll show, eventually.

And eventually I might fill this apartment with booties! [Pattern link is there, and it's free.] These things are fun, and fast, to knit. I discovered that with a little "luck" (i.e. a seat for most of the ride downtown) I can knit one bootie (my spell check isn't liking that spelling) in the morning, and one at night.


Thus, we have three pairs. All I need are little button loops on the ends of the straps, and we are good to go.


Now that I'm in New York, I should be thinking about that word as "HOW-ston" not "HEW-ston". I'll let you decide for yourself how to pronounce the title of today's post.

I making great progress on my booties, aided and abetted about a two-hour wait at a doctor's office for a simple prescription re-write (oh yeah, we here at Subway Knitter were in a fine mood after all that).

Then I compared the results.


We have a problem. I obviously knitted a few too many rows in that lower bootie. Luckily these things whip-up very quickly (in fact, they're my new last-minute baby-knitting pattern of choice) and I anticipate super-cute FOs. So, while I was waiting, I frogged the too-long bootie and fixed it to look like the upper version. Whew! Crisis averted.

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