Pictured, as promised

Hopeful in my heart that “The Sun Will Come Out – Tomorrow”, I delayed my photo shoot by one grey, winter day.  Good news:  sunshine!  Bad news:  arctic air mass, low of 22 forecast for Louisiana!

Here, then, are my Saffron socks.  They have been my travel-in-your-purse-knitting.  Such projects always take longer than those that get my everyday attention. I cast them on November 1, 2009, and completed the second sock on December 26, 2009.  They got my full attention that last day because I wanted my Knit Picks circs for other socks.  As long as I don’t purchase a second pair of KP #1.5’s, they should remain an impetus to second sock completion.

The specifications are Premier Yarn’s Serenity Sock Weight, color Saffron.  This yarn is 50% wool, 25% bamboo, 25% nylon.  Hobby Lobby sells it for a very attractive price of $4.29/skein, or just about $9 for a pair of socks, tax included.  The striping is consistent, and the yardage sufficiently generous (230 yards/50 grams) that knitting identical socks was a breeze.  Best of all, I have discovered only one knot after knitting six skeins of this yarn.

As I prepared my Ravelry entry for this sock I thought of a knitting (low)tech tip I should share.  I put my print-out patterns in a plastic page protector for ease of handling and pattern preservation.  But Wait! (as they say on infomercials) There’s More! As I begin knitting I slip the first yarn label down into the page protector, too.  Then when I’m all done (could be months later) I have the label at hand.

What is that in the background, you ask?  Why, it’s a cat tower.  Where else would Meezermeowmy pose her socks?


The course I am taking requires us to write a spiritual biography at the beginning of the year.  This year the format asks that we describe our life in terms of friends, physical life, and play life.  If I were writing about my play life for you to read, I would simply refer to the knitting/blogging/Ravelry lifestyle.  However, for these muggles I have a lot of explaining to do.  The nuances will still be lost, I fear.

I finished my Mother’s Day socks last night.  DD gave me yarn for two pairs of socks; this pair is Knit Picks Essential in Peacock Multi (purple/green/robin’s egg blue). It’s perfect:  she loves purple, and her name is Robyn.  The cuff was knit in 2 x 2 rib.  When the yarn behaved very nicely in that pattern, I carried it on for the whole sock.

Alison blogged about having to re-learn Kitchener stitch after a long time of not using it.   As I read her blog, I was reminded of today’s tech tip.  The most versatile knitting tool you have in your purse is a cell phone with another knitter’s phone number in the contacts.  You see, I often take socks as my road-trip knitting.  Last year I had to call my knitting DD in Texas several times to tell me how to set up the Kitchener stitch.  I can do the stitch with the best of them once I get started–my mind just can’t keep the pattern stored.  Finally, I saw and purchased a Kitchener dog tag key chain from Knitcellaneous.  It’s a delightful gadget, and I never leave home without it.

Geeks don’t waste time counting

Yesterday I cast on for my second Ulmus, this time in Malabrigo sock yarn.  (I’ll share details and pictures tomorrow, after this rainy weather passes.  Why, yes, I’m bragging – we’re getting rain!)  After knitting the set-up charts you have, let’s say 45 stitches on the needle.  (I am changing numbers for the sake of the illustration.  You are clever knitters, and it wouldn’t be fair to the designer to use the real ones.) The next instruction is to continue repeats of the rows of the second chart until you have 395 stitches on the needle.

Whoa – 395 stitches.  Visions of repeatedly counting to see if I was at the 395 mark danced through my head like a nightmare.  Not gonna do it!  So I started playing with my calculator:  395 – the 45 I already have = 350.  I could see from the chart that doing one repeat of the chart rows would add 14 stitches.  So, the question is:  How many times through the chart (14 stitches)  would equal 350?  Type 350 in calculator, divide by 14,  = 25.

Okay, 25 repeats of the chart will do it.  Where to write that down do I won’t lose it?  How to remember, through TV shows and movies and interruptions, that it’s 25 repeats?  Time to use my Geek powers! My counter application for my PDA, CountAble has multiple counters, and the ability to count down as well as up.  I set “pattern repeats” at 25, and knit away.  Every time I finish a chart repeat, I click one down.  When it says “0”, it’s time to add the lace.  Much less stressful.  Having invested a few minutes of thought, I don’t have to think about this again for days…except to remember to use the counter.

Cast On, Maties!

Swing Swing was completed, I was tired of the second sock I’ve been working on,  and…you know what happened.  I cast on the Ladies Jacquard Sweater Vest from Knit Picks.   I have had the pattern and yarn on hand for several months, waiting for opportunity and sufficient boldness to begin.   The yarn I’m using is Palette (it’s fingering weight) in Celadon Heather and Bark. 

Let me say that the instructions are clear and there is bonus information from the designer available on the Knit Picks web site.  However, the chart was small and faint (to this old knitter’s eyes).  Here’s today’s knitting technology tip:  I took my charts to Office Depot’s copy center.  They enlarged them and darkened them for me.  The clerk even gave me the intermediate color copies, in case I ever needed them enlarged again.  Sweet! I just looked in my copy bag, and found a receipt for $3.36, including tax.  It is worth every penny, in my opinion.

On those few occasions in the past when I have knit color work, I wove all the floats in, using the Philosopher’s Wool technique.  This pattern specifies not weaving in the floats, twisting only on runs greater than 11 stitches.  On the needle it looks all “loopy”, and makes me a bit twitchy.  I find myself stretching out sections, to verify I am doing the right thing.  (I know I am.)

The only problem with the Jacquard Sweater Vest is that I lost my place if I listened to my audio books.  I have two books checked out that I had to wait in line for;  listening must happen.  Therefore, I cast on another sweater.  (Hey, knitting logic works for me!)

When the Spring/summer 2009 edition of debbie bliss knitting magazine hit the book store I saw an add for Jennifer by designer Jenny Watson.  It’s in the Araucania Collection, Book 1.  Both DH and I loved the picture.   I didn’t find it then, but never forgot that marvelous cabled sweater that played well with kettle-dyed yarn.

Then last week I was called to bring some keys to Baton Rouge for DH.  As long as I was in town, I decided to drop by Knits by Nana.  I was puttering around the book room/sale yarn room, when Missy asked if I needed help.  Spotting that same debbie bliss magazine, I showed her the ad and asked if she carried that pattern.  Why, yes she did.  In fact, she was knitting that very sweater herself.  It was fate…DH had caused me to drive to Baton Rouge, and he is, after all, my official Patron of the Knitting Arts.  Show me the Araucania!

Here’s where it got complicated.  The colorways Missy had were more variegated than tone-on-tone.  There was a blue/green colorway I could have enjoyed, but Missy fessed up she had been knitting with that one.  One sweater front came out green, one blue.  Oopsie!  I went hunting for yarn equivalents, and found Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica in color 19, Dove.  It is pale grey with green and blush overtones.  Love! 

I have completed the back and begun the left front. This is one sweater that will look much better after blocking.  I know other knitters will understand that this is its “ugly duckling” stage.

Yes, I can knit this and listen to my books.  I have just finished Summer on Blossom Street, book 5 in the series by Debbie Macomber.  It was the usual Blossom Street book delightful character development, good knitting.

Now I am listening to The Cemetery Yew, book 3 in the Martha’s Vineyard Series by Cynthia Riggs.  I began this series when I discovered the eMedia service from my library this summer.  The hardest part is when I have finished one, and must wait my turn for the following book.  The Martha’s Vineyard Series is that perfect marriage of good writing and good narrator.

Little things mean a lot

My left upper arm (deltoid area) has been really painful for almost two weeks.  I’ve been using heat and pain meds, and spent many hours in the early a.m. in the recliner because I couldn’t sleep.  I knew that other knitters had reported arm pain from knitting in chairs with arms that forced them to raise their shoulders, so I had been careful to scoot away from the arm of the sofa when I knit.  Still, the problem persisted.

DH and I have identical desk chairs, and they are super for back support.  Mine has been wonderful as a sewing chair, too.   The arms of the chairs adjust, but I have a short body, and the shortest position of the arms is still too high for me.  I’m suspicious that the chair arms are, if not the cause, at least a large factor in my continued arm pain.  I mouse left-handed, and can’t avoid the arm rest when I sit at my computer.

Having said that, I should admit that the chairs are at least two years old.  Could this be a Ravelry injury?  I know I use my computer more than ever.  So why haven’t I done something about it?  I thought I might be able to take the arm rests off, but would end up with amputated stumps of armrest that I would repeatedly hurt myself on (you know I would).  DH to the rescue!  He went out to his workbench and got his set of Allen wrenches, and removed the entire arm assemblies.  Now I have the ultimate secretary’s chair, as modeled by Minky.  Torrie heard the photo shoot, and me speaking to Minky.  Supervision was required!  How could we proceed without her? 

This tutorial hasn’t been the usual “knitting technology”, but it certainly has been a case of technology interfering with my knitting.

Good morning, sun!

‘Tis a beautiful sunny morning, time for a photo shoot.  My Chic Knits Basic Hoodie has been waiting for the rain to go away. 

I used 5.5 skeins of Plymouth Galway Highland Heather, color 728, on size 6 needles.  My variation, as you will recall, is that I forgot to knit the lace pattern on the sleeves.  I did continue the lace panels up the hoodie.

I must admit I didn’t  save the sweater’s premiere for the photo shoot, but wore it yesterday afternoon to go to Office Depot.  They are a marvelous resource for knitting projects.  How, you ask?  I took them the charts for Knit Pick’s Ladie’s Jacquard Sweater Vest and they both enlarged the charts and deepened the contrast for me.   It took a $3.36 investment, but my, what a difference it will make in the knitting!

Today’s knitting will be trying to finish a clue chart of a mystery shawl that has been languishing on my magnetic board.  I knit about eight rows last night, and found that I still enjoy it.  However, I do want to use the board for the Jacquard Sweater Vest’s charts, so my compromise is to finish this installment of the shawl before I put it to nap (not hibernate).

The Geek Knits, Part 2

I have a lot of knitting patterns that I have printed out.   Patterns have a way of disappearing from the internet; go back for one you loved and you could have your heart broken. I have them;  the trick is finding them again in my studio.

The patterns are kept in page protectors, organized in notebooks with index dividers.  ( DH knows to ask on his way out the door to Office Depot “Need any more page protectors?”  It’s on his list, like bananas and milk.)

The next logical step was a table of contents, which I typed up as a Word document, saved the document in computer memory, and printed it out.  The printed copy becomes the first page of the notebook.    Having it as a saved document means that if there is room in the notebook to add more patterns, I can type the new titles on the end of the list, and print out just the last page.  This sure beats starting over each time!

When I knit a pattern I take it out of the notebook collection and keep those page-protected sheets in my knitting bag…or beside me on the sofa, whatever.  Part of celebrating a finished object is putting the pattern back in the notebook.  Now, don’t laugh at me too much, please, but it took years for this lightbulb to come on.  I finally realized that I could save myself all the effort of hunting for the correct slot  by simply penciling the index number on the upper corner of the pattern when I pull it from the notebook … “#17”.

Why, yes, I could have done this when I set up the notebooks.  I told you it took a long time for my lightbulb moment.  For now, it doesn’t matter if they all have numbers…only the one I take out has to find its way back home.

Premier of “the geek knits”

This is the premier of “the geek knits”.  Today, I’m  using modern technology to solve problems caused by older eyes.  I downloaded the pattern for the Celtic Cable Scarf, a free pattern from Kraemer Yarns.  It is a written, not charted, pattern;  that’s not a problem for someone who learned to knit in the 1950’s.  The size of the print is, however.  Oh, I could read it, but I would need to pay careful attention to those 16 rows of cable pattern, over and over.  Not fun.  So here is how I fixed it:

First,  I used my mouse to highlight the text of the pattern, and clicked “copy” under edit.  (Sometimes you can just highlight and right mouse click to have “copy” pop up as an option.  It didn’t work on this pdf file.)

Second, I opened a blank Word document, then right clicked my mouse on it, and selected “paste”.  Now I had a second copy of too small instructions.  Great, you say.  Just wait…

Third, go to the control bar at the top of your page and click on the number beside the font.  (Mine started out saying “Times New Roman” and “12”, in case this is new to you.)  I changed the 12 to 24.  Presto, large type, but run together a bit.  I went to the end of each row’s instructions and hit “enter”, which put a space between the knitting rows.

Forth, print.  I got my pattern on two pages, which I inserted in a plastic page protector.

I suspect that many of you knew how to do some or all of this, but hadn’t considered using the technique to enlarge a knitting pattern.  You say you’re a chart knitter?  I often do something similar, copying and pasting the chart for a sock pattern.  Once it is on the Word document, you can click on a corner of the chart and drag it down diagonally to enlarge the chart.  I like to print sock charts out on light card stock, then cut out just the chart square.  This little/big chart fits nicely in my sock knitting bag.