January 2008 Archives

This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

Sock Progress

When we last saw Marie's sock, I was working my way around the heel.

Now, I'm making great progress on the leg.

SockProgress0131.jpg

Incidentally, this is the first picture that accurately catches this electric colorway. I love it.

Some of you might remember that this is my first attempt at magic looping my socks. So far, here are my observations about the the technique:

1. It's much easier to knit while standing on the train if I'm using magic loop. Now that my commute begins far from the beginning of my subway line (and thank goodness for that) this is an important development.

2. Once I switched to the all-over stitch pattern, instead of knitting half and half (pattern on the top of the foot and stockinette on the bottom) moving the needles on the sock became so much easier. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to knit the foot on DPNs and then switch to magic loop above the heel. But that's just me.

Today on Donaghue: The Passengers Who Photograph the Knitters who Photograph other Knitters and the Knitters Who Love Them....

What?

If you ever ride the 1 train from South Ferry you're going to meet lots of tourists. Lots of German tourists if my observations are accurate, but maybe that's a story for another day.

Anyway, there I was, doing what I always do on the subway when I have a seat (knitting, of course) and these two (German tourists--seriously) found it so interesting that they asked if they could take my picture.

TouristsOn10130.jpg

Now, who was I to say no in this situation? After all, a good proportion of this blog's content has come from doing just that. Especially after they asked my permission. Do I ever ask? No!

But, who was I to miss out on a blogging opportunity? And this opened an interesting discussion among strangers of where they lived in New York, what their favorite places were, and so on. Who says New Yorkers aren't friendly?

A Knitter Lives Here!

Claudia has her lawn sheep, but here in New York I don't have a lawn.

I do, however, have a doormat.

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The doormat is so cute that I'm tempted to step over it as I enter and exit the apartment.

Oh the Internet

Several years ago (okay, more like 10 years ago) I lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Has it really been that long? Yes, I suppose it has. Right after college I moved into an apartment on the East Side (not to be confused with East Providence. No. No. No.) that I shared with a friend. I lived there for a year, and at the time I wasn't a knitter.

Ah Providence! It was my first taste of urban living, and I certainly must have liked the experience. Since then my life has been a progression of increasingly larger cities: Boston and now New York. Although if you had told me 10 years ago that one day I would find myself living in Brooklyn I probably would not have believed you. Providence was just fine for me then.

So, why am I telling you this? I was just looking at Dani's new site for Sunshine Yarns. [Caution: you will want to buy everything.] I clicked on her link to the retailers that sell her yarns, one of which, Fresh Purls, is on Hope Street on Providence's East Side, only about four or five blocks from my old apartment on Sargent Ave.

Of course I couldn't tell you what was in that shop when I lived there, but I know for certain that the space wasn't a yarn store. It looks like a great shop. I'll have to check it out the next time that I'm back in the old 'hood.

Breaking Fiber News (sorta)

So, Sven and I are walking down Union Street in Park Slope last weekend, and I glance over to my right and see this:

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This awning is new, put up within the past month or so. Can you read it? It reads "Fiber Notion". Fiber Notion, I wonder what that's about. I'm desperately hoping that it's not solely a yarn store (I like yarn stores as much as the next person, but really, how many does one neighborhood need?) Stitch Therapy is just up the road, and I like it (and it's closer to my apartment).

What I don't have abundant access to is fabric and sewing notions. For fabric, the closest place I know is BG (And BG rocks. I love it.). Sewing notions? I'll bet that I need to head into Manhattan for anything but a spool of thread.

So, with a great deal of excitement, I went to Fiber Notion's website. Hmmm, while there is fabric, the inventory seems geared toward quilters. Not that that's a bad thing. And perhaps the online inventory is slightly edited. I await the grand opening.

I wonder if they'll offer quilting classes. Yeah, that's just what I need for spring: another hobby.

Praha, ha, ha

Today's post will be in reverse order from prior posts concerning out visit to Europe. I just couldn't resist the title.

When I last wrote about our trip, we were in Cologne. For New Year's, however, we went over to Prague.

Mmmm, mmm. I first visited Prague three years ago, and at the time I thought "Everybody has to go to Prague." I felt the same way this visit, too. Everybody needs to go to Prague! Quick, make those travel plans. I'll wait.

Done? Good. Being in Prague means that I can officially unveil my next-to-last 2007 FO:

SvenAndMeInPraha.jpg

Ta dah! If you remember, this was the hat that I started just before Christmas. I finished it "easily" before I left the US. If, by easily, you mean "reknit the top three times." Yep. Three times. The first time I knit the pattern "as written" (if, by "as written", you mean "adjusted for a different gauge). And upon finishing it I thought that it was much too short. It didn't reach my ears.

Okaaaaay, so I needed to frog back and add about an inch. Frog, frog, knit (is this now too long?), knit. And guess what? It was too long. Way too long. Grrrr. So, frog, frog, knit, knit. And, guess what? The second time that I knit the pattern the way I was directed to knit the pattern it fit pretty well. [Don't ask why, I don't know.] I admit that the photo makes the hat look a wee too long, but I think that my scarf was pushing it up from the back and pushing the brim slightly too far down.

The Details:

Pattern: The beret pattern was free from The Point, when I purchased yarn.

Yarn: Twinkle, Soft Chunky, colorway Urchin. One hank.

Needles: US15s, DPNs.

What I changed: I adjusted the pattern for a different gauge. Other than that, nothing.

Would I knit this again: Yes. I like the chunky appearance and easy shaping of this beret. It avoids the "hat head" I so dread this time of year.

Moving on to 2008, here's the latest on Marie's socks.

ShortRowHeel0124jpg.jpg

Not only am I perfecting my magic loop, I'm also learning a great new way to knit short-row heels. Or, rather, I'm learning this technique again, and this time the correct way. I thought I knew how to do this, but apparently I did not. This might explain why I found this technique fiddly the first time that I used it, and overall I saw it as only a slight improvement on the backwards-YO method.

But if you use this technique correctly (as I now am) it's a HUGE improvement over what I was doing before.

Lovin' this pattern! Whoo!

A Close Scrape

Coming to you wirelessly from Chez Subway Knitter BKLN! Sven hunted down a wireless router on Craigslist over the weekend. (Not only did he save money by doing this but he also reduced electronic waste. What a guy!) He's got me all set up so that I'm able to sit down on the couch and use my computer without dragging an Ethernet cable across the apartment or swiping internet access from an unsecured connection (not that I ever did that, ahem.)

Anyway, do you want to hear about my close call? Knitting wise, that is. You do?! Great! Wednesday night tends to be laundry night 'round these parts. I'm not sure why that's become its official designation, but whatever. Last Wednesday was a big one. You know those times when you decide that you need to wash every single textile in your place? That was Wednesday.

So, in the spirit of laundry night, I threw a load of sheets into the machine. Unbeknownst to me, however, I accidentally scooped up my Cascade 220 (non superwash) garter-stitch scarf. It's a simple little thing that I knit years and years ago. The scarf was my first FO, and despite its wonky gauge and the occasional (inadvertent) slipped stitch, I love it. The scarf is warm, soft, and goes with just about anything.

Anyway, I threw those sheets (and the scarf) in a hot-water wash. I added detergent, OxyMagic powder, and fabric softener.

Then I went away. When I came back to throw the sheets in the dryer, imagine my surprise when my scarf tumbled out. A Cascade 220 scarf that, despite a hot-water wash, remained unfelted. And you know that Cascade 220 felts like a dream. So what's the no felting about? Could it be the front-loading machine? Is it really true that front loaders don't felt?

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At least my front loader doesn't felt. And that makes me one lucky knitter. One lucky knitter with a nice, clean scarf that's none the worse for wear.

More Toe Knitting

Is this getting boring?

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I easily frogged back the three and half rows of total pattern, to reknit three and a half rows of pattern on the top, stockinette on the bottom.

At least I'm getting the correct gauge. Last night I could have sworn that I was at only six stitches per inch (this based on the ultra-accurate eyeballing method of gauge calculation). But today, armed with a measuring tape, I measured and counted. Nope, seven stitches per inch. Score!

Let's take a break from my endless yammering about our Christmas vacation to do a little bloggy business. The new layout and design are working good, no? I'm very happy with the clean, sparse look, and the MT 4.0 software is a huge leap forward. I think that Steph did a great job managing it all. Like I said, it would have taken me months to figure all of this out by myself, and I don't have a good enough grasp on the technology stuff to know when something isn't right. I didn't think that it would make *that* much of a difference to upgrade, but wow, it really did. If you're on the fence about whether or not to go forward, I highly recommend doing it. I'm happy!

Mistake 1

Whoops! The stitch pattern in Marie's sock is so much fun to knit, I neglected to obey the instruction to knit only stockinette on the bottom of the foot.

WhoopsToe0117.jpg

Good thing that I'm only a few rows in.

Okay, back to Christmas.

So, early on Christmas Day, I said goodbye to Kate & Company and made my way back to NYC. To JFK airport, to be specific. I gave myself four hours to drive down there, return the rental car, arrive at the Terminal, and check in for my flight two hours early (with about 45 minutes of wiggle room for something going amiss--gots to have me the wiggle room when arriving at the airport). Of course, because it was Christmas Day I arrived at the rental-car place in just under three hours. There was almost no traffic--even in the spots where there's always a delay, there were no delays.

Yep, I arrived at JFK almost four hours before my flight. What to do with those four hours? I discovered that there's a surprising amount of things to do at airport these days. I walked around a large terminal, and rode the moving walkways (love those!). I did a bit of tax-free shopping. I had my Christmas dinner (vegetarian shumai). I had a pedicure. (Seriously! I probably wouldn't do it again, but the novelty value of having this done at the airport--when all you have to do is sit around and wait anyway--was worth it.) I enjoyed a little QT with me. I knit a bit. Just a bit. As I wrote earlier, I started to feel a twinge in my wrist, so I didn't want to push it. I stared into space. I called people on my cellphone. ("It's me. I'm at the airport. Good. Fine. No traffic. Not crowded. On time so far. Getting a pedicure! Really, yeah!") All in all I must be getting older, because I easily found a myriad of ways to make four hours go by quickly.

The same with the flight. I don't fly to Europe all that often, maybe every couple of years. And it was three and a half years since my prior trip, so I don't even stick to that schedule so well. In past flights, I noticed a point when I realize that I'm stuck in that plane for the next several hours. It takes a while for me to mentally accept that I'm essentially rooted to that seat until we land. If I were five years old, I could get up and run around (and maybe someone would think it cute if I sneaked into Business Class). But I'm 32. If I ran around the plane someone would tackle me, tie me up, and a police officer would arrest me at the other end. Let's not even think about Business Class. So, I stayed in the seat.

This time, however, I didn't get that. By the time I settled in, read, knit (damn twinge), ate, watched a movie (Ratatouille), drank some OJ, dozed, watched TV (The Office), and thought about how annoying it was for the person in front of me to push his seatback into my face, it was almost time to land. Ha!

Then Heathrow keeps you busy. I had a two-hour layover, with a solid hour consumed just by getting myself from gate to gate. Then once I was where I needed to be I waited (and waited) for the flight gate to Düsseldorf flight to be announced. I was tired of everything at that point. Tired of flying, waiting, sitting, standing, walking, moving. In other words I needed to be stationary for a few hours, which I did as soon as I arrived in Cologne (think ZZZzzzzzz).

One Toe...

...coming right up!

ToeUpToe0116.jpg

As you all wrote in your comments, it was easy-peasy. I think that I'm a convert.

First WIP of 2008

I have to admit that I'm rather excited about my next knit. Marie has entrusted me with test knitting a sock pattern. So, armed with her design, a hank of luscious Brooklyn Handspun sock yarn, and a 47-inch (120cm) Addi Turbo, I'm about to start.

BrooklynHandspun0115.jpg

It's been a while since I've expanded the knitter's bag o' tricks, and with this project I get to do it twice. First, because I'm using the magic loop method, and second because it's a toe-up pattern. I've wanted to try toe-up socks for a while now, and it's anyone's guess as to why I just haven't done it.

First off will be mastering the figure-eight cast on. It looks easy, but I'm betting that there's a learning curve. It also looks like something that can't be done on the train. Indeed, it cannot because it would seem that this technique involves two circular needles, and today I had with me only one. I couldn't find a seat on the train anyway, so I made do with reading the instructions a few times.

Then, it'll be on to magic loop. I have a vague memory of long ago working a sleeve with this method. If I recall it was a little tricky to start, but once you get your rhythm (as with all things) it gets easier. What I don't yet understand, however, is how to make the jump from the figure-eight cast on to the magic-loop method. It seems like I need to start with three needle points, and then somehow switch to just two. And when are the cast-on stitches officially "cast on"? After I knit them?

It's been a while since I've had to sit down and figure something out about a pattern. I'll probably need to frog and reknit a couple of times until I get this right, and I'll probably be back here in a day or two complaining about my own stupidity. Fun times. Stay tuned.

Now back to Christmas. As I said, Kate was mighty taken by a ball of yarn. Would she be as smitten by the act of knitting?

KatesKnitting0115.jpg

Seems so. Now, lest anyone get the idea that Kate sat on my lap for hours, mesmerized by the sight of wool being looped around needles, let me say that this moment was just that. Kate sat there for about 15 seconds before something else grabbed her attention and she was off and running (literally) to some other part of the house. My father just happened to have the camera at the ready.

All Tied Up

Today, I can safely unveil the project I was racing to complete last week:

PinkStripesHat0114.jpg

It's a baby hat! I feel like a baby-hat machine these days. This is not exactly a bad thing, as baby hats have the two qualities that provide almost instant gratification to knitters everywhere: 1) they're cute 2) they work up quickly.

Hey, as long as a project can deliver that time and time again, who am I to complain?

The details:

Pink Stripes Baby Hat

Pattern: I grabbed the basic pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and to it I added a simple horizontal stripe pattern, and a simple picot row above the rolled hem. I slipped threaded a ribbon through the picot row and tied a bow.

Yarn: GGH Goa that I picked up at Seaport Yarns.

Needles: US8s circulars, and finished with DPNs. I knit the hat in the round.

Time to complete: Two days, with lots of subway knitting time.

Would I knit this again: Sure! This knit kept me happy.

Notions: About a half yard of 1/4-inch grosgrain ribbon.

Now, I know that we're working on mid January here, but I haven't had time to share much with you about Christmas, or my after-Christmas European jaunt. Because I think that post after post of just me blabbing on and on about things that happened weeks ago would get boooooring, I'll tack on these posts after current information about the knitting project du jour. So, without further ado:

KateYarn0114.jpg

This was the Christmas that Kate discovered yarn. She first discovered that it's a lot of fun to run across the room carrying my ball of working yarn. I guess that it wasn't so smart to leave my knitting bag withing Kate's reach. This was quickly substituted with some spare Claudia Handpainted that I had with me. Can you see it there in her hand? Even all decked out in her Christmas finery (white cardigan hand-knit by none other than KG--that's Knitting Grandma to new blog readers), she had to carry some yarn with her. I hear that this yarn also went to bed with her.

Hey, what can I say? It's probably in her blood.

There's a New Look Around Here

Chez Subway Knitter has a new look for 2008. And this is my first post using the MT 4.0 interface (Interface, right? That's what it's called, no? Please somebody tell me if it isn't.). Big thanks to Steph for doing all of the designing, working out all of the bugs, and fixing a huge fundamental problem with Pair's initial setup of my MT account. It would have taken me two years to figure out all of this stuff by myself. I think that Steph's available for hire, if you too need a blog overhaul.

In the spirit of the new year, it's time for me to come clean with all of you. I didn't knit very much over my two-week break because (and I'm being completely honest with you here) I hated the project I was working on. Hated. Despised. Loathed. It wasn't the project's fault. The yarn could not be blamed either, so I'm not going to bother posting a photo of what I was knitting. Let's just say that it was a project that would not have suited the recipient in any way, and this fact wasn't helping my waning excitement in a project that was going nowhere fast.

Late on Tuesday I had a wee epiphany. I needed to finish what I was working on by the end of the week, yet I hadn't picked up the needles in days. It was time for a drastic change. So, on Wednesday evening I postponed Laundry Night for about an hour to visit Seaport Yarns in search of something new.

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Seaport Yarns. The weirdest yarn "store" that I've visited to date. Why "store"? Well, it's not really a store. There's another business being run out of the same space at the same time. Indeed, when I was shopping, the occupant of the office I was in briefly put aside her business deal ["Look at the EXPOSURE I'm getting you! Do you know how many people are going to be in town for Super Tuesday? Thousands and thousands! This is the type of media time that you want."] to sigh in my direction "Do you need any help?" Of course, the answer she was expecting was "no". I said no.

SeaportYarnsII.jpg

Combine that with the space's visual qualities, and you don't get a place where you want to spend a lot of time browsing (and thus, buying). It's not comfortable at all. The office is so chaotic and disorganized that I wanted to beat a path back out almost as soon as I walked in the door. Imagine the pre-renovated warehouse at WEBS moved into a 1990s Manhattan office interior with all the merchandise spilled onto folding tables and stuffed into half-broken display cabinets. That, my friends, is Seaport Yarns, only without the bargain prices of the WEBS warehouse.

The lighting was terrible! It was so poor, in fact, that I had to wonder if there was some kind of electrical problem affecting the ceiling lights. Nightime is not the best time for color accuracy anyway, but with dim florescent fixtures it's impossible.

Besides the office-worker-cum-store-clerk, there was one woman working the whole space. And she, I must say, was a lone bright spot (figuratively, of course) in this scene. Personable and knowledgeable, she seemed to know where stuff was, but she was much too busy to provide anything beyond the basic level of aid. At least two full-time people are needed to properly staff the store. I can imagine that the multi-room layout lends itself to easy shoplifting.

Anyway, I finally found what I needed and got out of there. I left with some GGH Goa which suited my needs perfectly. I was a bit surprised that GGH sells to this place. I have heard that it can be difficult for stores to become GGH stockists (to use the British term) and I wonder if other, better, NYC stores are losing out.

PinkandWhiteGGH0111.jpg

[I can give only a hint at what I'm knitting.]

In spite of the shortcomings I was impressed with the depth of the inventory at Seaport Yarns. Of course, you couldn't find anything without a map, but in a brief survey of the various rooms I noted that many of the typical go-to brands (Rowan, Noro, Koigu, Malabrigo, etc.) were available, and I didn't see a huge heap (I mean that literally here) of novelty yarns. This store could be great, and it's filling a need in a part of the city where there are no other woolly outlets. In the right space, with the right kind of business (something design oriented, perhaps) and with the right kind of employees, this could be a funky example of a creative shared use that results from an overheated real-estate market. I'm sure that there are a lot of Wall Street types who knit. Unfortunately Seaport Yarns is in an environment that's ill-suited for retail. The owner needs to hire a professional organizer, find an electrician, invest in some proper display furniture, and find another staff person.

It would be lovely to have a yarn store close to work, but I can't imagine that I would return here. Maybe some long-time New Yorkers know if my experience is typical, or is a result of an upcoming relocation. I heard that the store is closing at the end of the month and will reopen in a yet-to-be-determined spot. Let's hope that the owner can find a proper retail space to give the store a chance to flourish.

And I Got Frisked Twice

Wow, has it really been two weeks away? It was a wonderful, relaxing, enjoyable time, but it's good to be back to the normal routine in New York. The trip was, overall, a resounding success, I just wish that some of the details had been a bit smoother. Interestingly, all those details somehow revolved around Heathrow (long delays, flight cancellations, lost and damaged baggage). And, because I look so suspicious, I got frisked not just once, but twice. Actually, it wouldn't be a trip through Heathrow if I didn't get frisked. Every time I use that airport, without fail, I am always subjected into extra searches. That, and my wristwatch breaks. I'm not making this up. These two things alway happen. Whenever I get close to London something goes wrong with my watch. This time the battery died two days before the trip began.

Anyway, I'm happy to see that was once again I was able to stick to tradition. My baggage liked Heathrow so much that it decided to stay an extra day.

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You're back! I thought that I had created an enormous problem for myself by attempting to change the bags' delivery address midstream. I thought that American Airlines at JFK would have the capacity to accept one delivery address on Sunday, and another address (my office) on Monday. Apparently, never in the history of American Airlines or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has anyone ever attempted something so brazen as to request this. So, despite being told initially by American Airlines that changing the delivery address after a day would be "no problem," it was indeed, "a problem." Luckily, the address change never worked its way through the impenetrable system of the baggage department at JFK, and the delivery service redelivered my luggage the next day to my home. And luckily I was able to zip home quickly to pick it up.

Anyway, this is a knitting blog, not a travel blog.

Maybe all this is just to disguise the fact that I took a two-week break from knitting. Yep, I have minimal progress to show for all the time that I spent in planes and trains. Why? Well, I was a bit of an eager beaver in the days leading up to Christmas. So eager, in fact, that I noticed a distinct twinge in my right-hand wrist on the outgoing flight. While some knitters would pop some Tylenol and keep on going, I am not that kind of knitter. So, I stopped.

Then, simultaneous with landing in Germany I came down with a whopper of a cold. Cold + jetlag = not so good. In fact, I didn't think that I truly adjusted to European time while I was there. Then again, now that I'm back in New York I want to go to bed every night at 8:30, so something must have happened.

I've got some catching up to do in the next week or so. Stay tuned.


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