Monday, July 30, 2007

will the knitting disasters never end?

Let me tell you, I really know how to pick a pattern. I've been working on the All Season Shell for a few days now, and finished up the back this morning. I use the term "finished" loosely because I may or may not be frogging most or all of it. But here it is anyway. It looks pretty good from far away:

I thought I picked a simple pattern for my first (sleeveless) sweater. But the pattern I chose was, in fact, too simple--some parts of it were very vague, which left me guessing how to work the stitches, and not always coming up with the correct answer. The row count was also amiss, complicating things further. I know what you're thinking--if I've been having so many problems with patterns recently, maybe the problem is me, right? I was beginning to suspect the same, but then came across another blog with complaints about the A.S.S. (hah!) pattern. So, the problem is not me. At least, not this time.
Here's my first "iffy" area: the armholes.

Armhole on the left side looks ok, but on the right, the decreases are a bit wonky. Worth frogging for? Maybe. This is a gift, but I'm sure my mother doesn't expect perfection. And unless you're looking for it, you might miss it.
Problem number 2, also with the decreases, this time, at the top of the shoulders:
Again, some wonky stitches with the decreases, likely because I had to unravel a row to redo the neck bind off (more on that later!) and ended up with some twisted stitches--I tried to fix them all, but, you know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions . . . The bound off edges are also a little messy, but they'll be hidden in the seams, so I'm not as worried about them.
And the biggest dilemma--the neck. My old enemy, the bind off, has risen up to torment me again. I bound off the neck stitches once, and they were way too tight. I undid them and tried again with a larger needle, and still very tight. Will my mother even be able to fit her head through the neck hole? It's impossible to know without having the front done, but I'm worried.
So, should I frog it? Ideally I'd like to be able to unravel up to the armholes and try that whole mess again, but, as I think I bemoaned before, unraveling isn't my strong suit. I usually end up dropping stitches and making a mess of things, especially with ribbing, where the stitches aren't all in a row. I could just rip out the entire thing, but doing the initial 14 inches of K2P2 rib was a little mind-numbing, and I already have to do it again for the front; I don't know if I could do it twice more while maintaining my sanity--although it may be just the kind of thoughtless knitting that I could do on the Metro.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Cal Ripken Jr. Day!

Cal is being inducted today, hurrah for him! Now, on to the knitting . . .

Since The Devil's Shawl has been banished for its insolence (well, actually, it's just crumpled up on the couch awaiting divine intervention; God probably knits, right?), I've moved on to the All Season Shell. So far, it's not much to look at:

This is the back, and I've now reached the point where I can start shaping the armholes. It's not the most exciting pattern to work on, but since this is my first real sweater, sleeveless though it may be, I thought it best to keep it simple.
Tomorrow I'll be ordering more goodies from Knit Picks. For reasons unknown to me, the local Michael's refuses to carry straight needles under size 3 or DPNs under size 6, it seems, so I'll be buying some from Knit Picks. I really want to buy the Options interchangeable set, but since they're so $$ I'm holding off in the hopes that a kind soul will buy them for me for my birthday (in October). I still haven't used circs yet, but I ordered my first set from eBay last week (Michael's stock of circs is even more pitiful, and the size 2 circs are out of stock at Knit Picks for whatever reason) in preparation for working on Chapeau Marnier.
In my last post with the knitting quiz, I came across a term unfamiliar to me, so I decided to do some research on "steeking." Dear Lord, not for the faint of heart! Apparently steeking is a technique where one voluntarily cuts HOLES in a piece of knitting! I can't even fathom doing that. Just thinking about it makes me want to lie down with a cold compress across my forehead. Of course, this technique is used to make this adorable vest that I've decided I desperately need. Between the steeking and the colorwork, I think it's safe to say I am never going to own this vest. Sigh.
Stranding, Fair Isle, colorwork--whatever you want to call it, it's on my list of things to learn, I just don't know how to tackle it. While I've managed to teach myself what I know about knitting so far using books and online videos, I really wish I had a Grandma to teach me something this complex.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two quizzes I stole from someone else's blog . . .

I nabbed these from Leann. ;o)

Mark with bold the things you have knit, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchange
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Free-form knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm-warmers
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public


Look at the list of (100) books below.
Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
Movies don’t count.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) - it's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages, my TBR list is so long!
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

it's official!

I went down to DC today to review my official job offer. I signed it, so now I'm officially employed by the Organization of American States. My official start date is August 1! Woo hoo! I'm officially psyched! I finally feel like I didn't waste $40,000 on graduate school.

In knitting news, The Devil's Shawl has been moved to a spare needle until I can figure out what to do with it. I may try to very slowly and carefully unravel 8 rows and see if I can get it back on track. If that doesn't work, I'm going to have to frog it completely, and I know that will leave me a tangle of yarn (this lace weight yarn gets tangled if I look at it funny, I swear!), good for little else than a cat toy, so I hope it doesn't come to that. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

spoke too soon

Of course, I jinxed myself. I was working on my shawl and found myself short a stitch. I added a stitch in, but now, the pattern is thrown off. All my yarn overs are shifted 1 stitch to the left, meaning I no longer have pretty columns. And of course, I didn't put any waste yarn in. I know if I try to unravel I'll just wind up with a mess of clumped yarn. GRRRR. Words of wisdom welcome . . . I'm going to look for a bridge to jump off . . .

Monday, July 23, 2007

stalking the mail carrier . . .

That's what I spent most of the day doing--I pegged today for Yarn Arrival Day, even though the estimated in-home date wasn't until tomorrow. And I was right; Mr. Mailman dropped my yarn off late this afternoon. It's beautiful! I felt somewhat ridiculous, tearing around my house looking for scissors to open the stupid box, running from room to room with my box of yarn in hand like a maniac. A normal, better adjusted person would've just put the box on a table and calmly looked for scissors in the normal places one might find them--a drawer, knitting bag, etc. But not me, I need to hold onto the box of yarn as if it might sprout legs and run away if left unattended, as I search for scissors under the bed, in the fridge and inside my shoes. I am sure I would hold up really well in a crisis . . .
Unfortunately, I can't do anything with my new treasure yet. I need size 8 needles for mom's shell, and my shawl is on them, and I don't have the right size DPNs for dad's socks. A trip to Michael's is in order, but hubby's car is in the shop, so we're sharing a car for the week, and apparently him going to work is more important. Phooey.
Good news on my job front--I had an unofficial offer for a job almost 2 months ago, and finally my official offer is ready! So I'm heading down to DC on Wednesday to look it over and, presumably, sign it. My days as a hobo are almost over! There are some great things about being a hobo--like unlimited time for knitting--that I will miss, but overall, it was boring and depressing, so I'm quite ready to be a contributing member of society again.
Back to knitting news, my shawl is coming along, but I haven't taken any pictures, because it doesn't look much different, it's just a larger triangle. I've had no new mishaps, knock on wood.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

my new worst enemy: lace

Ugh, what was I thinking with this project? As it turns out, lace is kind of hard. It was hard before I even started--trying to wind 440 yds of lace weight yarn into a ball is no easy task!

I started this project 2 days ago, and I've frogged it 4 times already! I was saved from a 5th frogging because I got a clue and put in a piece of waste yarn so I would only have to unravel to that row and not the whole thing should I run into a problem--which I did, of course. The problem being, the person who transcribed this patten left some crucial stitches out!

I gave up reading the chart early because it's cut off on the website (and I hate charts anyway--who doesn't?), so I was going just by the written pattern, which says:

For the k3 to k8 section: k2, yo, k2tog, k3, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo, [ k1, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo ] 1 time, k1, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo, ssk, yo, k2.

But, oops, following this pattern (tried it twice!) left me with an extra 3 stitches. I compared it to earlier rows and identified the part where the author left out those 3 stitches. Tried it again, and there weren't enough stitches for the next repeat--must've left some YOs out too! Finally got it all figured out; this is the correct pattern:

For the k3 to k8 section: k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo, [ k1, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo ] 1 time, k1, yo, k3, sk2psso, k3, yo, k3, yo, ssk, yo, k2.

Gah! This shawl better turn out damn pretty for all this work! Here's what I've got so far:

This certainly won't be a quick knit either; it's not the kind of thing you can work on while watching TV, it requires a lot of focus. The problem with lace is, you can't fudge anything. For most patterns, if I find myself short a stitch or with an extra stitch, I can do a quick increase or decrease and go along my merry way, with a negligible impact on the piece. Unfortunately, an extra or missing stitch in a piece of lace will throw the whole beautiful pattern off. Fortunately it won't be shawl weather until October, so there's no rush.

I'm anxiously awaiting my KnitPicks order. I think it's great that you can track your shipment online, but doing so always upsets me. I become very impatient and find myself muttering things like, "If it arrived in Ohio 2 days ago, why is it just leaving Ohio this morning?!?" As if talking to myself will make my yarn arrive any faster.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a new project begins

I have some brown heathered lace weight yarn in my stash, so I've decided to try my first real lace project, The Frozen Lake shawl. I'm not sure I really understand the pattern/chart (all this talk of repeating full patterns and half patterns and panels--confusing!), but I'm going to give it a whirl. If it turns out well, it will be nice to keep in my new office--ok, cubicle--since I'm one of those people that's always cold. And if it doesn't turn out well . . . well, I guess we'll jump off that bridge when we come to it.
In other exciting news, CotLin has become available! So I ordered yarn for mom's tank and dad's socks yesterday. Both birthdays are next month, and my knitting exchange "due date" is early September, so I'll have plenty of projects to keep me busy through the rest of summer.
I've had a few readers ask about my progress bars, so I will admit to you all now that I've shamelessly stolen them from Lickety Knit. I guess it's not really stealing though, since she has posted the link to them right on her blog so anyone can use them. So have at it!
In sad/annoying news, today is my and my hubby's "dating" anniversary (we've been together 7 years! eek!), and he's away in Texas. Boo.

Monday, July 16, 2007

the one skein exchange has arrived!

I got my knitting "assignment," the name of the person I will be knitting for in the one-skein wonder swap. I'm so psyched to get started! Of course, first I have to figure out what on earth to knit. My knittee (?) lives in a warm-ish climate, so I don't want to pick anything too wool-y. And of course, whatever it is has to be from one skein. I also don't have any size information, so it can't be anything too size-dependent (I was thinking hat, but what if my knittee has a particularly large head? I would feel bad sending someone a hat they couldn't actually wear!). Hmmm . . . I probably won't post too much info on here about my project, just in case my knittee is a closet fan of my blog (ha ha! As if!), but if anyone has any fantastic one-skein suggestions, please let me know!

I also wanted to take a quick second to thank everyone for reading my blog, and thank the people who have left comments. I really appreciate them! Unfortunately, I haven't figured out the protocol for "commenting" back. Do I just go to someone's blog and leave a comment in return? What if they don't have a blog? Is there some secret way to send people a message through blogger that I'm unaware of? Clearly blogging is just too complicated for me. Sigh.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

a quick woohoo!

I dropped by to get an ISBN # for Knit 2 Together so I could put it on my wishlist, and lo and behold, they were selling it for only $5.50!! Even with $3.99 shipping, it was a great deal--the list price is almost $30, and the lowest price on was $14.95 + shipping. So I just ordered it. ;o)

i am in love . . .

So believe it or not, I've already finished my one skein wonder shrug! And, let me tell you, it is adorable. I just love it; it's a bit itchy, but I can't wait until it's cooler so I can wear it. Here are the photos:

The whole time I was knitting I couldn't figure out how on earth this pattern was going to make sleeves when there was no knitting in the round and no seaming. It's pretty clever--you bind off the sleeve stitches, and then continue knitting the lives stitches around them. So you don't have "real" sleeves, just caps, which I happen to love.
This is my first "real" article of clothing, and I'm so proud of it! At first I was surprised by how tiny it was, but blocking helped stretch it a bit--and of course, it's a shrug, so it's really just supposed to cover your shoulders. I think this pattern could be fiddled with to make a cute cap-sleeved cardigan, but I really know nothing about tweaking patterns, so I don't think I'll try it.
In other news, KnitPicks, sadly, has disappointed me. I was all ready to buy my CotLin yarn on July 11, but alas, I discovered that the release date has been pushed back! Now I have to wait until July 27, which doesn't give me much time to knit for mom's birthday--especially since I'll be starting a new job on August 1! So I'm mulling over the idea of using a different yarn . . .
I got a fantastic knitting book from the library, Knit 2 Together. I love almost every pattern in this book. Of course, most of them are far, far too advanced for me . . . but I can't wait to give them a try! I'll definitely be purchasing this book ASAP.
And yay, by Monday I will have my knitting swap buddy from my myspace group.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

yum! a little yarn snack

So, I don't actually have anything new on the needles just yet. But I did go to The Celtic Yarn Shop and buy some more yarn I totally didn't need--that counts for something, right? I got 2 skeins of each of these:

The light one is pure alpaca (so soft!), and the other is a wool/mohair/silk blend. Even better, she gave me the red skeins for $5 each because she was planning to put them in the clearance bin. The shop was pretty cute, and even had a little dog named Pearl (or, I guess, Purl) wandering about inspecting the customers. I will definitely be visiting again . . .
But, I have no plans to give up KnitPicks--it's just so much cheaper! Tomorrow is the day CotLin becomes available, so I plan to order the yarn for mom's tank, plus some sock yarn for some birthday socks for dad. Parents with birthdays a week apart are simply unfair.
After I brought my precious yarn treasure home, I took a crack at winding up a center pull ball. It looks, well, sort of like a ball.

But perhaps I should just invest in a ball winder.
I'm planning to use this pretty red stuff for this one-skein shrug. I think this yarn is a bit heavier, though, than the specified Rowan Kid Classic, so I guess I'm going to have to mess around a bit with the needle size, etc. Blech. I'll get started tonight during the All-Star Game. I don't even know why they call it the All-Star game; they should just call it "Watch the Yankees Play Baseball with Some Other Guys."

Friday, July 6, 2007

happy belated 4th!

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday. It rained here, so no fireworks for me. :o(
The arm warmers are done. I'm not posting a pic of arm warmer #2, because it looks just like arm warmer #1. And also, I'm too lazy. My tension stayed pretty even over both pieces, so they're almost exactly the same size--hurrah! My major problem seems to be binding off in the round--how do you not end up with one end higher than the other? I assume there's some trick to working the yarn back into itself to make both sides look even, but it's a magical move I haven't been alerted to yet, so both warmers have a bit of a wonky blip on the top edge where I did my best to make an invisible seam. But unless you're looking for wonkiness, you wouldn't notice, so I'm happy with them.
Now I am again without a project on needles. Still a few days until KnitPicks Cotlin becomes available, and I'm at a loss for other projects, since my Knit Knack exchange hasn't started yet and I still haven't decided what to make most people for their upcoming birthdays and Christmas (I do want to make me a set of arm warmers, but I really need to take a break from circular knitting for a bit.). I got a coupon for my LYS, so I might trek over there soon. Hubby is traveling for work next week and maybe the week after (boo!) and my new job hasn't started yet, so I have plenty of free time for knitting and should definitely take advantage of it. I did get a few cute yarn books from the library, but most of the patterns are way over my head--some of the charts in No Sheep for You look like abstract art rather than knitting guides, I can't fathom how anyone would make any sense of them.