Saturday, December 30, 2006

Motoring up the body of the sweater

I finally settled to do the increases half and half. The math worked out by 228 is divisible by 12, which leaves 8 stitches left over, so the formula was to k2 after the marker, start the k19 increase 1, after 6 times you're at 2 before the half-way marker, k2 after the marker and repeat.

The remaining 12 will be increased in 3 rounds of 4 increases each, one of which has been put in at 10 rounds above the ribbing. Shown here is a picture in the snow, which was the best lighting. Yes, Lexington has had a surprise snow storm, which was supposed to be rain and later in the day. Not enough to ski on, but.... it's a sign of winter-like weather. The black and the jewel tones show up much better in this light than the yellow-ish indoor lighting.

Next decision after this will be how far from the hips to the underarms. Inches to go. Still well within the first skein.

Cogitating on the increases

The Sockotta sweater is about to start row 24 of the ribbing and it looks deep enough that I'm going to stop that at row 25, switch to the 3s and start the stockinette. This means I need to make up my mind about how I want to get from 236 stitches up to the key number of 260.

That's a 24 stitch difference. I could just increase them all in one round, but that will produce a blousing effect on the order of 4 inches (since gauge is 6.4 stitches to the inch). Do you want your sweater to poof by 4 inches just about your hips? Me neither.

I usually do a portion of the increases in one round, and then do a series of spaced rounds that each have 4 increases (one on either side of the side markers). So, how to divvy up the 24 stitches between the all in a round increases and the later up the sides increases? That's what I'm working on. And if the all in a round increases divide evenly into 236, that's a bonus. Since that's unlikely, in the past what I've done is figure out the next lowest number that is evenly divisible, and then spread the remainder around.

It's hard to compose and type with Himself and his parents talking about other things entirely around my head, let alone do math. Results later, probably with pictures.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bad color pictures of the Sockotta

These are bad morning pictures with flash, but the light is not up early enough for me yet, still. To the right is the progress made last night, about 3 rounds around the bottom. Not much to show, but at least it's documentation of the process.

On the left is a picture of the swatch. The yarn is all over a black with a white thread and small lengths of bright colors every few inches. The colors seem to pool nicely together, but it's all a function of how the respective lengths line up as knit. As the circumference of pieces change, the pooling should change, too. This is going to be a fun part of the process.

When I'm done with this Sockotta, I've got some Wildefoot stashed for a similar experiment, and I ordered something at Lucy's Sock Fest that has yet to be delivered. Part of doing this sweater is figuring out what the yardage requirements for sweaters for me in lighter yarns are, so I'm going to try to remember to make a statement as I start each of the skeins. I have 10 of the Sockotta, one has been used for the swatch, but could be reclaimed, one was used to start the sweater itself, leaving 8 in the bag for now. Yes, I'm making notes to the future for myself here.

I really do need to get to work now, don't I?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Getting into some decision-making

Tonight I took my Sockotta swatch off the size 3 needles (3.25 mm) (Crystal Palace) and measured. It seems to be fairly consistently 6.4 stitches to the inch.

I'm going to aim for a 41 inch around sweater, so that comes to 262.4 stitches, which I'm going to round down to 260. Subtracting 26 stitches (10% of key), brings me to 234 stitches, which is not divisible by 4 for a K2P2 rib, so rounding to 236. I'll deal with what intervals of increasing get me back to the key number by the bust later.

Skein 1 -- Casting on 236 stitches on size zeros with markers at the start and half-way points. K2 P2 rib, making sure cast on is not twisted. Next decision point -- how deep to make the rib? I'm going for at least pinky depth, which is about 2 inches, and then see if I want it thicker.

Okay, that's enough to get started with for now. We'll see how far skein one goes and how speedy a knit this is with more stitches than usual.

Pictures added in the morning, maybe.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Anyone know anything about the Eastern Townships of Quebec?

Himself and I are planning to get away for the week of the MLK holiday and are looking to rent a vacation cottage somewhere in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, where we're hoping they'll have snow. Cottage with kitchen, laundry, snow removal, shower, not too far from a road. Waterfront optional, but they all seem to have it. Prefer <$800 cdn per week for rental.

We've been looking at an awful lot of websites. If anyone knows anything about this part of Quebec and can recommend a town to head for, we'll seeking info. We're wondering if the lack of information about cross country skiing areas is because it would be like listing the area has gas stations -- common enough to why mention? We're looking for groomed trails for the most part and a lodge that gives me a place to sit in warmth when I'm tired enough to stop and he has another couple hours in him.

In the meantime I'm starting the design process for the upcoming small gauge Sockotta sweater, and decided to survey the measurements of current EPS-based sweaters, all in Cascade 200 or Lamb's Pride Worsted.



Neck to hip

Underarm to hip

Underarm to cuff


Hip circumference


Gray cardigan








Black stripe








Blue green








Pink cardigan








Gray tweed
























(multiply any circumference by 2)

So, since most of these are vaguely loose anyway and I won't want a worsted's ease, I should be making it a little smaller around. This will affect the other percentages. Most of the hip circumferences can be taken in, too. Decisions to be made. Tomorrow I measure the gauge of the swatch and start doing numbers. I'm thinking a provisional cast on so I can deal with the hip later. Probably a Hybrid shoulder (see Knitting Workshop), which is a blend of the Raglan and Saddle Shoulder sweater, or a true Saddle Shoulder.

This gives me something to work on this upcoming weekend while Himself's folks are in town. Not sure what they'll want to do while they're here, but this is good company knitting. Acreage to cover between needing to change course.

Speaking of changing course, a number of strangers out and about have complimented me on the pirate hat, though the fellow at the supermarket deli seems to thing it's a revolutionary thing, or Napoleonic (they wore bicornes I think and this is a tricorne). I made it fit better by 1. resewing the brim to the crown more level rather than having the brim so much higher than the crown and 2. burying a length of black elastic (the 1" wide type you buy by the yard) in the bottom of the fold, doing a rough measurement, stapling the ends together at the needed length and trimming the ends. Where the hat had been loose before and the wind got in, it's now holding on tight and fits better. I feel is has panache, which is something needed around Boston in the winter.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Gauge does matter

This is not a sad post, but there's an example at the end of why gauge matters.

So, first the gift that was thought of last year and took the better part of this year to execute. Last December, I started thinking I'd like to make a sweater for Himself, this time with his input. He finally decided on the Wonderous Woven Cables out of a Knitter's magazine that's not too far back, I think, and it looked like Green Mountain Spinnery's Mountain Mohair would work. Sometime that month we went up to my friend Deb Degan's Woolery in Wilton, NH where after much looking, he decided on the dark navy blue and we took a guess that 13 skeins would be needed. Famous last words, "I don't need it soon," meaning, if it came shortly after the New Year I'd be ready to get started. I think it showed up in April. Other projects pushed it out of the way at various points, but the knitting was finished a few weeks ago, Lucy at Mind's Eye did her usual excellent sewing bits together job, and yesterday afternoon I sat myself down for 50 concentrated minutes of taking care of ends. Himself is happy with it, and, after all that, it fits!

Christmas present knitting was also finished yesterday afternoon. Mom's shapely shawlette in the custom dyed green from Lucy got picked up off the towels it had been blocking on, the ends sewn in and we'll see how well she likes it this afternoon. Mom has this funny habit that she won't open presents. We were brought up to take turns opening things so everyone gets a chance and you can all see what each other got. Mom keeps holding up the line by being handed presents and just refusing to do anything with them. It may be a bid for attention thing. Eh, we love her anyway. Given the way my father was trying to buy the store sample when he saw how much she liked it, I hope she has the same reaction to this.

My brother's socks are also finished. They're from one of the Trekkings out of the stash, can't say which one, other than it's a very nice dark with some subtle bits of color. If I find another I might make some for me..... Not much else to say, other than they got finished yesterday afternoon after realizing when I took this picture yesterday morning that I was less along on the foot than I had thought.

And then we come to the surprise. Last Monday or thereabouts I realized, gee, I was so far along on the Christmas knitting that I could think about making something else as a present and still have time (Lucy, you're not alone in this). So, one call to Handpaint Heaven to discover that what I hoped to buy had been discontinued later (watch out Cherry Tree Hill is discontinuing a number of yarns!), Potluck Worsted in Earthtones was available for immediate shipment, arrived Tuesday lunch, was wound into a ball and 5 rows of ribbing were accomplished at lunchtime. It took just into the 2nd skein to finish the foot, but we have an exact (mostly) replica of Himself's standard sock, done in worsted weight gauge. It holds presents, such as hot chocolate, DVDs, a small book, a chocolate bar and a bag of dark chocolate covered ginger puffs (Nelsons, also in Wilton). On the left, shown in actual wear. I may have persuaded Himself that it was a loan from Boulevus (pronouned bull-uh-vus with emphasis on the first syllable), the invisible giant who has lived in my family's attic for as long as I can remember. Why would Boulevus need holes in the back of the ribbing about an inch down that look like they're meant to have a hook go through them? Well, to hang them up to dry, of course.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Goodie Four Hooves am I?

As found on Splinderella's blog....

You Are Prancer

You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You're Naughty: Because you're Santa's pet, and you won't let anyone show you up.

Why You're Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.
Which of Santa's Reindeer Are You?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've done something about a few things

Sunday's gathering was quite nice, and I got a lot done on the current Baby Surprise, but only on the to and from part of the trip, not the during the visit.

Mom's present is done and blocking out at Himself's house, though I forgot to take pictures in the dark of Sunday evening. Himself was immensely helpful with the yardstick and the evening eye, as I was fussy enough to want the thing laid out symmetrically, but too tired to make it happen by myself.

My brother's socks are still in progress, but it's okay, I've got confirmation that we're not getting together until Monday.

Himself's sweater has the neck done, though there's an unfortunate accident of picking up K3, P3 in rib and having the round both begin and end K3. Anyone staring that closely ought to ..... I'm waiting for the weekend to gather the energy to sew in the ends.

Which means...... yup, I'm working on a surprise for someone. Actually, to allay suspicion, I should really work on two surprise projects, so that the recipient thinks that it's a project for someone else.

Next week at this time, Himself's parents will be up and visiting. Those who know me have heard the stories. I'm trying not to focus on it too much, since there's not much to say when they're around. Trust me, I'll have plenty of knitting to work on New Year's weekend.

Other than that, it has crossed my mind this week that, in Heaven, there should be nothing that has the phrase "introducer needle" associated with it, nor spring-powered devices for putting sharps through skin. Year 13 starts in a few weeks and this time of year gets to me as I remember the lead-in to diagnosis.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I suppose I ought to be doing something about...

Lucy finished the hard finishing of Himself's sweater and passed it over tonight. It fits! Like it was made for him or something. Now I need to do something about sewing in the ends and doing the neck. And there's just enough yarn left over to make me comfortable about having enough to do the neck and keeping some for future fixes, but not feel like I bought waaay too much.

I still await confirmation of change from my mother, but, things having been set to be held at my folks house for Christmas day, my former sister-in-law has changed her mind about what days my brother can have my nephew for the weekend, and we may be moved to Saturday. What? Wipe two knitting days off my calendar at this date?

Himself's folks are now talking about coming up during the last week of December, but it's uncertain which end of the last week. Time to get that sweater project for me underway. Let me put it this way -- they (at least Himself Sr.) have a lot to say, but not much real conversation. One good thing, at a small gauge, there'll be lots of knitting on that sweater, very little chance of running out of project.

Time to go figure out what needs doing next.....

Other options coming out of the woodwork

He's back in the States, and presumably New England, though with his flight landing at 5 minutes shy of midnight, it seemed reasonable that he wouldn't wake me up in the dark of night just to say hi! and I won't wake him up when I head off to work.

We won't into what it says about me that I don't want to go to a purely social occasion without my knitting, because, after all, I can put it down any time I want to. On the other hand, it may keep my mitts out of the tempting food.

After I posted last, I realized that it's silly to think I really only have three projects available to me. There is the Sockotta swatch on size 3s for a full-size sweater for me that I should get to work on. The problem with working on the swatch is that once I have "enough" swatch (it's about 4-5 inches long now), then I'll need to make decisions. Decisions like what size various bits of me really are, like how deep the armscythe should be. I'm roughly estimating that it's going to come out somewhere between 7 - 8 stitches to the inch, as opposed to your standard 4 - 5 of worsted weight. I'm used to doing EPS in the 4-fraction to 5 inch range, where you can get away with a fair bit of rounding. I'm not sure how forgiving the math will be at the tighter gauges. Sockotta's swatch has not been worked on much, since that postpones needing to face those facts.

There's also the perpetual Baby Surprise Jacket that got put on hold when I started my brother's birthday socks. The problem with that is I've had an idea of using two strands at once, changing one color each day, which will lead to interesting shading (I hope) and double the rate of yarn usage and increase the finished size to maybe a toddler size. All good things, so now I need to finish the single-strand one already underway before I can start that idea.

The Baby Surprise might be a good idea for the Sunday afternoon gathering. It's amorphous enough that no one will be drawing any unwanted conclusions and if anyone does ask, I get to promote charity knitting.

Okay. Where did I put it last?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back on topic -- Knitting before Recipient?

Damn, having left my endocrinologist email that the 311 can be explained, she wants to discuss it tomorrow morning.

Enough of that. Himself has posted and he's okay. And I showed myself able to stress completely internally, while maintaining outward composure and intellectual calm. On the other hand, we may need a rule that if one finds oneself in a foreign city that unexpectedly becomes a dateline on CNN, one should make an effort to make contact with those at home, soon as logistically possible.

I need to look ahead to the weekend. My current active projects are the shawlette for my mother and a pair of socks for my brother (or Himself, depending), both Christmas presents. A soon to be active project is the baby sweater trying out Lucy's sock yarn on the existing pattern.

My aunt is having two of her grandchildren dedicated on Sunday (i.e, in churches with adult baptism, this is how you get the young'uns covered until they can decide for themselves) with an open house later. I haven't seen much of the extended family lately, so it will be nice to catch up with the cousins and meet these new once-removeds. Odds are my mother and brother will both be at the party, so I really can't bring their presents to be working on. That leaves the baby sweater, which I'd really rather not get into in front of relatives I don't see often, particularly one who I did not send anything for her fourth child, even though my aunt suggested people bring gifts for her to the shower for her sister's first.

So the question is, 1. what do I feel like starting, 2. what do I feel like working on, 3. what can I get started and progressed enough to be reasonable by Sunday afternoon without ruining the timing on the other projects and 4. is suitable to not need a whole lot of attention in company?

Hedgehog goes with one and two and falls apart on three and four. Or would you just work ahead on a gift in front of the giftee?

Astounding Sheep Gift Post here. I love that picture.

Waiting for word

Himself was supposed to fly out of Santiago to Lima last night sometime. Last email yesterday he was off to book that, so no flight info.

Then Pinochet died. It looks like there are small demonstrations and clashes. No word about trouble with Americans or the airport being shut down.

Just waiting for word that Himself is happy in Lima. Just waiting. Waiting.

Same as the time he transferred through Heathrow that July morning when the London subways were bombed.

Update -- it's 10:30 a.m. and I'm 311 (where normals stay 70 - 115). Why yes, underlying stress will raise blood sugar, even when subject is outwardly calm. Still no contact.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Astounding Sheep-Themed Gift Alert

Found yesterday at Joie De Vivre on MA Ave. near Porter Square, this visual and auditory stimulating animatronic sheep. (It sings a rendition of Barbara Ann while doing a better bounce-bop than I can get out of my 40-year old knees.) For less than $35. And yes, it does have an off switch.

It will be gifted very, very soon to someone in my immediate knitting circle. And I'll state here and now, I don't mind if it is regifted, so long as it goes to a home that will also appreciate its unique attributes, and presumably will send it along to similar homes when they, too, have been overwhelmed by spirit of giving. It ain't Yarn Aboard, it's something else.

In other news, I finally got around to catching up on the pile of patterns and books that needed to get entered into Needletrax. Ever since I found myself buying 2 (and 3) of some patterns because they looked interesting and I couldn't remember if I already had them, I got this, it exports to Excel and then gets carried with me on my Palm. Comes in handy for the "do I?" questions when out at far-away yarn stores, except if you havn't keep it up to date. For the record, the Excel is now up to over 800 rows and Himself will have a place to sit and put his slippers on when he gets back from South America later this week.

While I was going through things, I came across a project that I had trouble recognizing at first. Good thing it had its pattern with it, so it turned out to be Lucy's top-down baby raglan sweater that I'm trying out in the hand-dyed sock yarn so we can see if the pattern works with it and how much it takes. It had been put in a bag and not touched for weeks. Now that Himself's sweater is in the finishing stages, maybe it will make some progress.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A grand day out

With just a bit of retail therapy thrown in for good measure.

First off, the knitting of Himself's Wonderous Woven Cables (from a some time ago Knitter's) done in Green Mountain Spinnery Moutain Mohair in an unphotographable dark blue was finished last night. This is completely the wrong shade of blue, but it's evidence. The bundle has been passed to Lucy to do her marvelous finishing services on.

This morning I met up with Danielle and we headed off to the Farmer's Diner for a road trip breakfast, near where 89 passes 91 and just up the road for Quechee Gorge. Worth the trip for the food. I'd go back again. In the same plaza there was a Danforth pewter shop. I indulged myself in hair jewelry, with matching buttons. Yup. Let other people get earrings and necklaces, I know what I use. No plans for the buttons right now, but six seems a reasonable number to stash.

We then headed back down 89 and stopped at the Elegant Ewe in Concord. I've been bumping into them at fiber events for several years now, but never made it into their shop -- usually because when I'm passing by I'm on my way to or from the Granite State Knit-In, an event they regularly appear at, so they would be busy packing the show. I hadn't realized we'd been there as long as we stayed. And, yes, yarn followed me home, as did patterns. Not sure what I'm going to do with 2 oz skeins of Zephyr, but it should be good for something. And they have lots more if I run out......

Knitting happened along the way. Here we have Before:

and After:

At the end of the day, not bad, not bad at all.

Okay, quickie quiz

Though I take exception to that question about the lean of decreases. I think they have it backwards, but then again, I haven't had a fasting test yet this morning.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Purist. You are an accomplished knitter producing beautiful pieces with a classic feel. You sometimes lament losing half of your local yarn shop to garish novelty yarns. Perhaps you consider fun fur scarves the bane of knitting society and prefer to steer new knitters towards the wool and cotton blends. Some might call you a bit of an elitist but you know that you've been doing this craft long enough to respect the history behind it and honor it with beautiful piece that can last a lifetime.
Take this quiz!

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Yes, Dear, and it's so cute to watch you do it.

Himself has added his comment to my Wednesday post about the necessity of fussing.

In the meantime, the annual "holiday party" is coming up in two Fridays and I got to thinking about what kind of dressiness I want this year. This is an occasion that we do dress for, though it's daytime so it's not formals. Usually I get some sort of dressy suit, or recycle one from prior years, highly dependent on what fits at the time. I really don't have many times in the cold weather that I need to get dressed up, and in the summertime the contradancing outfits do nicely.

However, as I was commenting to a younger co-worker earlier yesterday, as you get older, you realize that one should always having something suitable for a wake in whatever size you are at the time. Wakes do not give you time to go shopping. Yes I've been caught out once and now realize, no, you don't go "casual" to calling hours.

I wandered over to Lord and Taylor after work yesterday, ostensibly for more underwear, but I took a gander at the party stuff. Suits were still in the plentiful but expensive phase, so I found my way to the dressy separates. Revelation. Cheaper and easier to wear. And, score! Without having changed my weight and with everyday wear fitting pretty much the same as last year, this year the size 6 skirt fit where last year I was demoralized in a size 14 suit that wasn't comfy. Then I found a lined bodice lace top, admittedly cut lower than anything I've worn before, but it fit, doesn't show my sternum to the world and it's a dark burgundy color that seems to suit. Now to check the selection of shawls to see what I have in colors that go with this.

And as promised, here is the green yarn that Lucy special-dyed earlier this week. I had originally asked for just one skein, but I picked up an extra. There should me more showing up on her Etsy site soon. It's a lovely pea-green apply dappled color. This is destined to be made into a Christmas present for my mother. Which means I'd best be getting on with Himself's sweater.

Tomorrow, Danielle and I are going to go find an organic diner in Vermont. Mom's present will be great car-riding knitting.

Can anyone see my blog?

I can see other people's blogs, but mine appears to me as a blank page. We'll see if posting makes it recover.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Let there be light

It's how many days left until the daylight turns around? Can't come soon enough for me.

Tomorrow, if the sky isn't completely gray, I'll be able to post pictures of the green yarn Lucy dyed custom for me. This is destined to be a Shapely Shawlette for my Mom for Christmas.

Other than that, the commuting fairies either have an axe to grind or they've gone off the job. Can't decide. Outright charity knitting ready to be worked on, if they'd just make the train come and fork up a seat, ain't cutting it.

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