Friday, August 31, 2007

Ah, now I remember...

There's a reason that I haven't knitted a pair of gloves for about 3 years- they're awkward and slow and slow and awkward (and that's plain gloves, double that for Fair Isle). This is the first time I've done stranded work on the fingers of a glove. It probably won't be the last, but it might be several years before I try it again.
This is a really pretty pattern, though I had forgotten that this is one of those *figure the stitch counts out for yourself and adapt the generic pattern* books. It's not hard to do, it just takes more time.

Needle Update

I mentioned that my 24" Knit Picks circular needle separated from the cable while I was knitting the Sedestal sweater. This morning, I wrote an email to the customer service dept about the problem, and this afternoon I got word that a replacement needle is on the way.

I'm not an objective observer when it comes to Knit Picks- I design for them. But I'm also a customer, and I was a customer before I did any designs for them. I wrote as a customer. I'm delighted with the speedy reply.

Cunningsburgh Star Outline Variation

Isn't this a lovely pattern? It's from Carol Rasmussen Noble's Knitting Fair Isle Mittens & Gloves. I'm still on a mission to use up stash yarn, but gloves are complex enough, so I'm just using 2 (rather than the several listed in the pattern)- Knit picks Essential Solid Coral, and Knit Picks Essential Tweed Plum. They're both lovely yarns to knit with and these gloves will be soft and warm, and machine washable.

I like the folded cuff- that'll provide extra warmth at the wrist, which will make a big difference in our South Dakota winters.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Second Cousin to Setesdal

Though it's the same pattern (larger needles, heavier yarn), there is no superficial resemblance between the Setesdal in the Dale of Norway baby book, and the one I knitted. Just as a reminder- this is what it's supposed to look like.

And this is how my version came out. More like second cousins, twice removed, than siblings. I do like the sweater, though in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I messed up the steeking and somehow got off a few stitches, so the shoulder seams are narrower than they're supposed to be (because I had to fold the facing in more on one side to make up for the unevenness because I didn't notice the problem until AFTER I had cut the steek open)(and this was my umpteenth steek, I just got sloppy). And the tweedy colors do war with the patterning. And I would have liked it more if I would have had one more skein of black (rather than having to use the green as a filler). But all told, it still looks nice. Oh, I didn't put a picot edge along the boat-neck facing. I thought this looked more like a masculine sweater.

It came out a bit bigger than a 12 month size- it'll go in my finished-object-tote, for the next time I need a baby gift.

And why am I knitting so much these days? Easy, I'm procrastinating. I have some tedious deadline-type paperwork to do, and two new workshops to prepare for (which means knitting samples, writing up handouts, and working out what I'm going to do fill 3-4 hours of class time). I suppose I'd better buckle down.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Carnival

Not everyone knows that I also collect paper dolls (and for awhile in the 80's and early 90's, I drew them for several magazines. I still draw some on the computer). I have a pretty fair collection of vintage uncut sets and books that I've scanned. Every Thursday, I will upload one set from my collection. I can't give permission for you to print out these scans (the dolls on card stock, the clothes on plain white paper) and share them with anyone who does (or might grow to) love paper dolls, but... wink wink... I won't know if you do exactly that.
This set is from Saalfield, #2488 Carnival, copyright 1944. According to Mary Young's Price Guide to Saalfield and Merrill Paper Dolls (I have the 2000 reprint), this set is worth about $45. My copy doesn't have the peek-a-boo cover that is pictured in the reference book, but otherwise it's in very good shape. I love love love the colors and the detail in the outfits. Sorry about the extra white space around the scans- I had to add that so that the pages would print out with the clothes all the same size (so they fit the dolls, in other words).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cable Lust

This is just a screenshot from a movie (not from a pattern book), but I need to knit this sweater.


Okay, I think I'm going to have to order this bag from The Pemberley Store . Its available from The Republic of Pemberley (see list at lower right, in the Non-Knitting Places I Love) .
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a married grandma in possession of a large stash, must be in want of a(nother) bag.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scary Sleeve

This rather frightening object is one sleeve for the Setesdal sweater. Taken by itself, it's pretty hideous, but I am pretty sure that when it's assembled (with a matching sleeve, and the body with the same sort of color changes), and blocked, that it'll look good. I hope.

I decided to skip the knitted facing (to cover the armhole steek seam) because this is a rather heavy fabric, and I am not sure how far my yarn will go. I am still okay with the subtle stranding in the tweed- in fact, that may be my favorite thing about this sweater.

*Using up the stash* has been... well... interesting. Luckily, this sweater isn't destined for any baby in particular, so if it turns out awful, I don't have to scramble for another present. And if it turns out fine (which I suspect it will be, even if it doesn't look much like what the Setesdal designer had in mind), it'll come in handy at the next baby shower I attend.

What I am Knitting- Setesdal

I'm about 6" into Setesdal (see yesterday's post)- it's coming along swimmingly, though I couldn't find my 16" Size 3 circular (I bought 2 of them, I know I bought 2 of them, but I could only find the empty packet for one), and the 24" size 3 Knit Picks circular cable suddenly came loose from its mooring in the middle of a round (something that has never happened to me before- I know they'll replace it, but it was still unsettling. Luckily, I did find my 24" Size 3 inox).

The tweediness of the yarn wars with the Fair Isle patterning in this design, but I actually like the subtle flecks of red in the body (rather than bright splotches)- you can see it, and yet you can't really see it (and I would rather do a bit of stranding every 5th rnd that doesn't show well, then endless rnds of plain stockinette). Since I'm using bigger needles and heavier yarn than called for in the pattern, I can tell already that this is going to come out more like a 12month sweater than the 0-3 instructions I'm using, which means I will have to lentghen everything accordingly. That also means that I won't have enough black and red yarn to complete the sweater in those two colors. Since this is a stash-using project, and I have almost used up one of the 3 skeins of black, I'm going to switch to dark blue soon on the body (and I'll start the sleeves independently, so that they match).

It's not going to look like the instruction picture, but I think it'll be pretty anyway.

What I Watched Last Night While I Was Knitting

Little Miss Sunshine

I can't figure out what I think about this movie- mostly because I was too busy watching (and admiring) the performances to pay much attention to the plot. I love Steve Carell (not quite enough to go see Evan Almighty, but a lot) and he was amazing in this role. Compare it to Michael Scott and marvel at the guy's range. I love Greg Kinnear, who is a totally underrated actor. I love Alan Arkin ( The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming and The In-Laws- the first one of course are two of my favorite movies ever). I love Toni Collette. I didn't know Abigail Breslin, but I love her now, as well as Paul Dano (who played Dwayne). They were all marvelous.

As for the plot? I still don't know- nothing much happened (except life, death, love, reconciliation, growth, acceptance, resignation, and reconnection), but it was fun to watch.

What I'm Watching While I Knit- Prime Suspect Season 2

Jane Tennison has a lot on her hands- she's trying to quit smoking, her secret lover has been assigned to her task force, and a body has been found buried in a garden. Only the first disc has arrived (via Blockbuster), but it's a good one. I have no idea where the story is leading, but I'll bet it's not where it seems to be going. By the time I get done with all 6 (or is it 7) seasons of Prime Suspect, I'll have knitted an entire wardrobe.

Prime Suspect Season 2

Monday, August 27, 2007

Next up- Setesdal

After yesterday's abject failure, I need a break from lace socks (though I do have a notion for an original lace design that is percolating)- so it's back to the Dale of Norway books. I settled on Setesdal, from book 8101. It's a lovely, simple, Nordic design. I'm using up stash yarn (which does not have any Dale Baby Ull at the moment), so the colors will be different. Way different- I'm going to use Hobby Kids Color (60% polyacryl/40% superwash wool, 50 gr, 110 m) from Schoeller Stahl. It's heavier than Baby Ull (not quite sport weight, but a bit heavier than regular sock yarn). I have 3 skeins of the black, 2 red, 1@ blue, green, orange and pink. The listed yarn requirements sound lean to me anyway, so though I hope to knit the pullover in the smallest size in just black and red, I may have to do green and/or blue sleeves, and some orange Fair Isle (with different colors for the ribbings). It'll look grand, no matter what, but not quite as *unified* as the samples. I'm switching up to size 3 needles to accommodate the heavier yarn, but otherwise, going to knit the instructions for the size 0/3 month (lengthening the body and sleeves as necessary).

I don't have any 0/3 month babies (or 6/9 month, which is probably what the sweater will come out with the larger needles and heavier yarn) on the horizon, but this sweater and yarn are calling me, and I'm not going to argue.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Okay, so the last couple of knitting days went well. Really well. I knitted a pair of complex socks- the pattern was easy to understand, the yarn was scrumptious, the colors came out great, the fabric is perfect, the knitting was remarkably error-free (except for the one heel where I got *off* by a stitch, and had to tear out the short-rows and start over), and the socks fit like the pattern was designed just for me. The knitting was joyful, and the bragging was totally satisfying.

I should have known that there would be a price for all that. I paid it today.

Today, I knitted nearly an entire lace fingerless mitten, only to discover (when I was just about to the top ribbing) that the lace pattern was too tight, and not centered properly. I ripped it out, put the yarn away, and started another project- a pair of lacy socks in a lovely variegated peach yarn. I got past the heel (past the heel, I tell you, on a lace sock) before it became obvious that the sock was not going to fit me. Nor was it going to fit anyone on my sock-list because the lace upper was too loose for granddaughters (while being stretched to the max on me), and the heel-flap was too short for any adults, and the yarn was too fine for the pattern I was using. It's not the pattern's fault- it was written for heavier yarn. It's not the yarn's fault that I didn't realize that it was just too thin for this pattern (I'll put it away for Fair Isle, maybe mittens). I'm not even sure that it was my fault (though why I persist in knitting on when I know that something isn't right, I'll never know). All told- I spent about 6 hours knitting today, and have nothing to show for it.

It was karma.

Monkey Done

I think I was possessed by the Monkey Sock pattern- I finished the entire pair in 2 days. It helped that I really really loved the yarn, and that the pattern was so well written. This pic comes pretty close to the actual neon colors of the yarn. I give away most of the socks I knit (for Christmas, etc) but I'm keeping these for myself. And given that this summer's weather has been so very odd, I might actually get to wear them soon. There was a small ball of yarn left after finishing the socks- I wear a 7-8 shoe, and I'm not sure that you could get a pair of 9-10's out of one skein of yarn (though knitting the entire pair with smaller needles would save some yarn).

And here is my high-tech system for keeping track of which row I'm on: I copy the pattern repeat and print it out. Then I use a metal board and magnetic strips to cover up every row except the one I'm knitting, and then I use the needle to poke a hole in the paper after finishing every round. It probably goes without saying that my knitting chair is an old cloth one that won't be damaged by repeated poking.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Poncho of Ugliness Update

I tried the Poncho of Ugliness(see post below)on the closest comprably-sized little girl, and what do you know? It not only fit her, but it looked pretty cute. So I guess TPoU will go under the tree after all. But without an adorable little girl inside, it's still pretty ugly.

Monkey More

I knit pretty fast, but this is something of a record for me. I started, and finished the first Monkey Sock (see post below for pattern link)in one day! I love love love how this sock came out, and I love this yarn Fly Super Sport even more. I used the Citrus colorway, and also have a skein of Hyacinth.

I did switch to the smaller size 2 needles after the 4th pattern repeat on the cuff, and I like the tighter fabric better. The looser top portion is fine for socks, but if I make the pattern again, I'll use the smaller needles throughout. And what may be a first for me: I followed the pattern exactly, right down to using 5 dpns instead of my usual 4 (it worked very well- one pattern repeat per needle- made the knitting very quick). I'm not sure about the *no slip-stitch* heel flap, but I just wear clogs anyway, so there won't be extra wear there (I'm keeping these socks for me).

I've already cast on the mate. I'll post a pic when I get them both done and blocked.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Monkeying around

So I'm the last sock knitter to try Monkey Socks , but I'm catching up. I've done 4 of the 6 pattern repeats for the cuff and will get to the heel today sometime. It's not a pattern that I can memorize (11 rows is about 8 too many for my mental hard drive), but it's easy enough to follow, and I love how it's coming out. My only worry is that they're going to be a little loose on me- my generic sock pattern is 56 sts on size 2 needles (3mm Knit Picks), this one is 64 sts with YOs, so it's going to be more flexible. But I'm reluctant to rip it out for smaller needles (the 2.75mm Knit Picks) unless I have to. I'll keep on to the heel, and then I'll have a better sense of how the sock will fit.
I'm using a wonderful yarn that I bought at Great Yarns in Everett WA, while on vacation this summer. It's Fly Super Sport, 3 ply, machine washable merino, hand-dyed Monarch, color: citrus. It's a bit heavier than my usual sock yarn (more like Socks That Rock than Opal or Regia), and it's wonderfully springy. The colors are brighter than in my photo- very Rainbow Sherbet.

Wither Ravelry?

I'm in line, but it's gonna be awhile before I get in.


I finished my granddaughter's Christmas poncho, and I think it's awful. Just plain ugly. But is it something a 6 year old might love? It's pink- very pink, and that counts for a lot in the 1st grade. It also sparkles here and there, which is a plus. But the hem wants to roll (despite the garter stitch edge), and I think I mentioned that it's ugly. I'm washing it now, and I have enough yarn to add a fringe, but that might just be compounding the ugliness. It was incredibly boring to knit (there were something like 300 sts by the end), and I don't intend to make another. If this one doesn't make the grade, she'll just have to make do with handknit socks and mittens since she doesn't like to wear sweaters.
What do you think?

Stats: approx 16" side length, about 20" center front/back length, approx 27" across. Crocheted chain drawstring at the neck, from the ribbon yarn.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dakota Dreams

I hope to publish this pattern eventually (whether in a book, magazine, or as a pattern leaflet). But I thought I'd show a bit of the sweater that inspired the blog title. This is East River, part of what I hope will be an entire Dakota Dreams series of knits inspired by South Dakota. The motifs in this sweater all represent common things in my neck of the woods: wheat, pheasants, and thistle. I loved designing and knitting this sweater- it was made from Rowanspun 4 ply (unfortunately discontinued), knit on Size 2 needles. The buttons are made from coconut shells. It took me 6 months to complete, and I am very proud of it.

Here are scans of the motifs- the colors are pretty close to actual.

Webring Links Not Functional Yet

Ignore the Midwest Knitter Webring and the Fair Isle Webring links on the right side of the page. I submitted the blog to those lists, but it has to be approved first, and until it is approved, the links won't work. I hope to be accepted soon. I'll post when/if the the blog is accepted.

Womansong, September 8-9, '07, Grand Rapids, ND

I won't be able to attend Womansong this year, which makes me sad. I've spoken/signed/demoed at almost all of them, since the festival's inception. It's a wonderful gathering of women, a celebration of arts and community on the Prairie, held each September in a really beautiful park in Grand Rapids, ND. Go, you'll have a wonderful time.


Ram what?

Doesn't this look like the illustrations of the female reproductive system that were in those little books they handed out in 7th grade P.E.? Personally, I wouldn't mind driving a Dodge Hysterectomy, but I hear that the transmissions are wonky.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What I'm Watching While I Knit- Prime Suspect 1

Helen Mirren has been in her prime for about 20 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, she is probably the Primiest actress in the world- racking up awards, critical raves and popular acclaim everywhere, and managing to become more beautiful every year. Back in '92, she was every bit as good, as DCI Jane Tennison, in the BBC production of Prime Suspect, Season 1. Peppered with great performances, the characters in this gritty procedural come to life, warts and all. Jane must not only solve a nasty murder, but she has to deal with a messy personal life, and collegues who neither like, nor respect her. This is a cracking 4 part (2 disc) story, and well worth renting (or owning, or watching on BBC, if they run it again). Check out a pre-pre-pre-Voldemort Ralph Feinnes in a small role.

Prime Suspect Season 1
You can tell this was made awhile ago- I think every single character smokes. Constantly.

North Country Fiber Fair- Sept 15-16 2007, Watertown, SD

I'll be teaching 2 workshops on Saturday September 15 at the North Country Fiber Fair : NCFF

The 9 am-1pm class is on Steeking. I'll walk the class through cutting their knitting (eek!) as they make a doll-size sweater. The 2pm-5pm class is demystifying no-wrap short-row heels. Each class has a bit of homework for the student to bring already completed. All of the info is on the website (click on Fiber Workshops, or download the entire booklet).

I love NCCF- it's a small festival with vendors from several states, classes, fiber animals, and lots of fun. If you have one, bring your wheel along and spin- or knit with us!

Nope, not a sweater

I love knitting sweaters for my grandchildren. Unfortunately, one of my grandchildren doesn't like wearing handknit sweaters (or sweaters of any kind, if she can help it). She likes wearing ponchos. I don't like ponchos much, and I don't enjoy knitting them. But I love my granddaughter, and so I'm knitting a poncho for Addy.

The rule this Christmas is to use up stash yarns, therefore this brightly colored poncho is made from : Plymouth Yarns Bella Colour Italian (it's a braided yarn), Crystal Palace Decco-Ribbon, Carnival from Euro Yarns (a carry-along short eyelash), a ladder yarn from Lana d'Oro (I think, I've had it a long time and the label is gone), and a plush from Lana d'Oro (same label problem).

This is a *make it up as you go* pattern- I started with size 8 needles, CO 90 sts, placed markers before and after the 45th, and last st. I increase on either side of the center sts with a YO, every other rnd. I worked 2 rnds of K1P1 to keep the neckline from rolling, and the rest is either stockinette, or garter st (working in the round, Garter is K1 rnd, P1 rnd). I have about 700 yds of assorted yarns and that should be enough to make the poncho a good 16" long at the side, and maybe still have enough for a fringe.

The pic isn't great because I'm using a 32" circular and the bottom is bigger than that already- I have about 10" done. I think Addy will like it (I'll add some sort of drawstring at the neck).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finished Sweaters- ssh, don't tell my grandkids

I'm using stash yarn for Christmas sweaters this year. Here's Evan's sweater (Gurnsey Gals- ssh, don't tell him that it's a women's design- from The Best of Knitter's Arans & Celtics). I used assorted Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. I followed the pattern pretty closely except that I couldn't get the hang of the yoke pattern on the purl side, so I did each design row twice (it elongated the zig-zag but otherwise didn't change the design). I also had to revamp the Knit and Purl divider rows so that only gold showed on the front. I like how it turned out.

This is the same sweater, done in Knit Picks Bare for my friend Kris's grandson, Connor, who is 10 months old (though the sweater is a size 2). I think the stitching shows up better with the light solid color, but otherwise, I think I like Evan's version (above) better. And yes, I'm giving hand-wash-only sweaters to children. I'm evil that way.

And this is Sophie's sweater. I fell in love with this Dale of Norway pattern (Book 152) but didn't have any babies to knit it for, or the proper yarn. So I delved into the stash and found worsted weight yarns in approximate colors (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, Cascade 220 Quatro, Patons Classic Merino) and used Size 8 needles and the smallest size from the pattern and knitted the sweater. The only real variation I made was to put 2 Ladybug borders in the sleeves, picot edging on the hems, and because the neckline looked too wide, I picked up and knit a 2nd ribbing. I love this sweater, and I think Sophie will too (it's approx a child size 8). I don't like working with 3 strands at once in Fair Isle, so I embroidered the Ladybug dots after I finished the sweater.

I take the plunge

Okay, so I've been reading and enjoying knitting blogs for awhile, and I finally decided that it was time to join the fray. This looks like it'll be fun, and a perfectly handy time-absorber, which World-Class Procrastinators like myself always enjoy.

I won't be able to show much from any current writing/designing projects because publishers sort of frown on that kind of thing (though I think I can show teasers, or corners, or bits and pieces of larger projects), but I also knit a lot from other people's patterns, and those I can show. And I buy a lot of yarn, and I can show that off as well. And I'm always ready to talk about the books and music and TV shows, and yarn stores that I like. So I don't think I'll run out of things to say.

We'll get the Shameless Self Promotion out of the way right now- I have a new book coming out in February from The Taunton Press. It's called I Heart Felt: 33 Eye-Popping Designs for the Inspired Knitter. Amazon has the cover up and everything, and if I can figure out how to make a link without the whole html stuff showing, I'll post one. I am very excited about this book, and Taunton did a marvelous job with the photography and layout.

Okay, on to the knitting.