Friday, October 31, 2008

Snowdrops, Shawl Pins, and Socks

Won't you be glad when I move on to a project that doesn't trigger my alliterative reflex?

Here's the gorgeous dragonfly shawl pin that I got on eBay. It's about 7" long and theoretically pewter, but it's pretty shiny (does pewter shine?), and I love it.

I finished the body of The Harlot's Snowdrop shawl. I'm embarrassed to say that I had never done an I-Cord bind-off before. What in the world was I thinking? It's super simple, and makes a fantastic edging. I'll be using that technique more often from now on.

I also picked up 438 (!!) sts around the outside edge of the shawl, and I started the lace edging. The repeat isn't difficult, but it's going to take awhile. The edging rows go from 9-18 sts, and it takes 2 rows to advance 1 stitch around the edge of the shawl. That's a bazillion stitches and not many fewer rows. I've worked my way through about half of one side. I am a little anxious about getting to the bottom point at the right place in the edging repeat, but I'll worry about that when I get there (which may not be for days). And if it's not exact, I'll do what I always do when it's not for publication: fake it.

And some sock progress- Christmas socks for an honorary Granddaughter: Twisted Playful (heavy fingering weight, superwash merino), Tulip colorway, with pink heel and toe yarn. I'm using up leftover yarn, which is why I am working on both at the same time-I have plenty of Tulip, but not a lot of the heel/toe coordinate. This sock has a very simple texture: Rnd 1: *K 1 P 1*, rep around, Rnd 2: *P 1, K 1*, rep around, Rnds 3-8: K. It's enough to keep the knitting from being boring, but not so complex that I need a chart.
Have a Safe and Hilarious Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Tab- Whitman Malibu Francie, Boxed Set, 1976

I collected mostly uncut paper doll books, but I do have a few boxed sets. As a kid, I thought boxed sets were nice- you had a handy carry-all for the cut (or punched) clothes, the dolls were heavy and much more sturdy than the ones you cut (or punched) from the book covers, and you always got that little pastel plastic circle dealie with the 4 bumps, that was the doll stand, though it usually ended up on the floor, stepped on and broken.
This Malibu Francie boxed set, from 1976, is fun- such awful clothes in such terrible colors and fabrics. You gotta laugh (or if you remember wearing stuff that looked exactly like that, maybe weep a bit too). Did we really sport so many jaunty neck things in the 70's? (on the other hand, I saw a green skirt, very much like that long flowered one, on the sale rack at Christopher & Banks on Tuesday, so the 00's can't laugh too much).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


For your Halloweeny Pleasure (with thanks to Girl on the Rocks for the Haunted Mansion heads up):

Paper Crafts:

Got My Motor Runnin'

Okay, so it's only a mile, with a half-mile warmup/cool down walk on either side, but I run 6 days a week now. For three seasons, I go the distance outside (unless it's rumbling- I don't tempt lightning. It wants me. I can tell). And I'll run outside in the winter if it's nice (nice does not mean warm, nice means no ice and no wind). But the majority of my winter exercising is done indoors, on the weight machine and treadmill. While the wind chill factor is pretty low in my basement, the scenery is sorely lacking, so in order not to die of boredom, I listen to music as I run.

I start out the warmup slow, working up to 4mph by the end of the first half mile (about 8 minutes total), then I start jogging at 5mph and work my way to 6.5 by the end (about 11 minutes total jogging), and then slow back down (another 8). Real runners will laugh at my times and numbers, but dammit, I'm 56, and my default mode is sitting, so that's pretty good. I've worked out a playlist that helps me keep the proper pace. The timing doesn't always work out right, but it's close. There's a bit of dissonance in the styles, but it keeps me going.

Twist & Shout (The Isley Brothers)
There's Your Trouble (The Dixie Chicks)
Wild Thing (The Troggs)

YMCA (The Village People)
Bad Moon Rising (CCR)
Marrakesh Express (CSN&Y)
Born to Be Wild (Steppenwolf) (which may be the most perfect jogging song ever)

Smooth (Rob Thomas and Santana)
It's Growing (James Taylor)

What music do you listen to as you exercise (or not?)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Snowdrops and Spideys

The French translation of the We Call Him Spidey Mittens is up here . It's pretty cool to see my pattern in another language! Thanks so much, Nathalie.

I'm in the thousand-stitches-per-row (not really, it just seems that way) part of The Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl, so even though I only have about 30 rows left on the main portion, it's taking forever for progress to show. I should not complain about this part because the knitted border is going to go even more slowly. I suppose no one starts triangle shawls at the *big end* because casting on hundreds of stitches is a royal pain, but it would sure be nicer to have 2 fewer stitches every other row than the other way around.

But, despite a big honkin' hole that I'll have to fix (doesn't show in that shot- I must have dropped a YO), and despite having come to hate this yarn (Pima cotton on a cone- it feels like knitting string), its coming along beautifully. That's a 40" circular, so this is going to be a nice size when it's finally done. I'm ready to work with wool for the next scarf- something with a little bounce and grab. And color.

The lace projects so far have been process knits- I'm feeling my way into lace knitting, and can see working on something long-term with lace in the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spideys and Snowdrops...

... and whiskers on kittens.... (sorry)

I got a lovely e-mail this morning from a French knitter. She made my Freebie Friday We Call Them Spidey Mittens for her son, and sent me a pic. Aren't they adorable? And she asked if she could translate the pattern into French and post it on her blog (with a link back here). I am delighted by the notion of my pattern being available in multiple languages. When she gets the translation up, I'll let everyone know. Here's her blog:

As always, if you knit something from a Freebie Friday pattern and send me a pic (under 500kb please), I'll post it here.

And here are the Spidey Mittens, if you missed the pattern the first time around:

So, Karen, your Swallowtail definitely unleashed a monster. Here's the progress on The Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop shawl- I am almost to the solid-neck portion, and it's coming along pretty quickly, with a minimum of errors. I still can't keep track of the pattern without the chart (more than 2 rows and my brain boggles), but it's a pretty easy design. I suspect that the added border will take as long as the rest of the shawl, but it's going to be gorgeous.

My kids gave me an eBay gift cert for my birthday (do they know me or what?), and I used a portion yesterday to buy this pewter dragonfly shawl pin. Cool, no?

Friday, October 24, 2008

It IS a Wrap!

Up until I unpinned it this morning, and flung it around my shoulders, I still wasn't sure if this finished object would be a wrap or a table runner, or a whatever. But the decision has been made: it's a wrap.

And a lovely wrap it is. The Conshohocken Softball Cotton (Green/Natural Fox Fiber organic), sportweight yarn didn't seem to shrink at all in the pot, and it blocked out longer than I expected. Before boiling and blocking, it was 16" x 75". After pinning, it was 20" x 82", which is a healthy length for a shawl. It weighs just under 10 ozs, and used between 800-1,000 yds of yarn (I knitted directly from the cone, and forgot to weigh the cone before starting). I used size 5 needles, 90 sts, and worked from both ends. Note to self: no more Kitchenering across 90 sts. It took well over an hour to join the ends (and the join looks sloppy- which is the fault of the Kitchenerer, not the stitch itself). The 4 lace patterns are all original (though the lower one was inspired by one I saw somewhere online, but I can't remember where), and variably successful. I'd skip #2 from the end, and eliminate some of the holes in the dividing sections of the center length, and I can tell already that the edges are going to roll, but otherwise, I am pleased.

The wet shawl was a lovely khaki green, but it dried lighter- it's now a nice pastel green (much greener than the unboiled yarn, but not as dark as I'd like). I boiled it for almost an hour, but we have untreated artesian well water that is very alkaline, so perhaps in spring water, it would have come out a different color.

I think I'm going to have to find a nice shawl pin to wear with this, and I imagine this will show up as a Freebie Friday pattern eventually. The Lace Fever has not abated- I cast on The Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl (pattern available on her blog- link on the right side of this page), in Pima Cotton. I'm glad I finally found a use for all those cones of cotton yarn I bought for no reason that I can remember. This cotton yarn is tighter and finer than the Conshohocken- but it should loosen up after washing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Revision- November 28 Scarf

A very kind reader pointed out that there is an error in the November 28 Scarf Freebie Friday pattern. All even rows are PURLED, not knit. I've revised the pattern page. Please download the corrected page for your records (the chart on page 2 is correct, the error was in the written instructions).

So sorry for the error.
Find page 2 and the original post here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do you want to see Snow White enacted by dominoes?

Yes, you do.

Trust me.

Didja miss me?

If there is anything sweeter in this whole entire world than having your grandchildren sing Happy Birthday, and then excitedly blowing out your candles for you, I don't know what it is. But I spent the last 4 days trying to find out.

Amazingly enough, , in addition to walks to the park, movies watched (Iron Man and The Spiderwick Chronicles), books read (the 2nd Beyond the Spiderwick book), pictures drawn, games played, and smooches given and received, I did get a bunch of knitting done (of course, a fair amount of knitting happened during the 6 hours we were in the car).

I finished a pair of socks (destined for an honorary Granddaughter)- these were knit from Twisted Fiber Arts Kabam (bamboo/wool) yarn, in the Agnes Colorway (wonderful muted green and purple stripes- and it is a testament to Meg's amazing dyeing abilities that the green and purple mute into each other without even a speck of brown blending). This is just my generic sock pattern, with an easy texture thrown in: Rnds 1-5: K, Rnd 6: *K 2 tog, YO*, rep around.

And I finished 2 handspun ribbed hats- from charcoal romney with a bit of glitz (which actually shows in the pic), and some leftover lighter yarn for stripes. I'm happily reducing the stash of bulky handspun yarns (I have 2 child size hats left to knit, and up to 4 adult, if I get the ambition).
I started another pair of socks (for another Honorary Granddaughter), and ripped the first effort out (a disastrous notion of contrasting bobbles which sounded good in theory, but was hideous in practice). I like this version much better- 2 Rnds of Seed Stitch with 6 Rnds of K in between- just enough texture to look good, but not too much for car knitting. This yarn is also Twisted, the Playful blend (heavy fingering weight, Superwash Merino) in the Tulip colorway.

After we got home, late yesterday, I worked on the cotton wrap (I know better than to try to knit something complex around grandkids)- it totals 65" now, and I need it to be at least 72" (though since it's coming along so quickly, I may work a few more, just for shrinkage insurance). I haven't gotten bored with this project yet, which is a minor miracle. I can't wait to see what it's going to look like finished.

But today, I have a copy edited chapter to go over. So, back to work.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Freebie Friday- November 28 Lace Scarf

Please Note: Page 1 of the pattern has been revised. All even rows are Purled, not Knit. Please download the revised page. I am so sorry for the error!

Whaddaya know? Another Freebie Friday pattern!

This scarf was inspired by the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year perpetual calendar, that my friend Melanie (Hands to Soul blog, link on the right side of this page) gave me several years ago. The November 28 pattern is called Staggered Fern, though it looks more like wheat stalks to me. This scarf is super simple- one repeat of the lace pattern with a garter/eyelet border on either edge, worked in halves and joined in the middle. It takes just 1 skein of Malabrigo Worsted (Mariposa colorway), and size 10 needles. If you're new to lace knitting (as I am), it's a good way to get your feet wet. It's also a good way to get used to reading lace charts, which I heartily recommend- so much easier than trying to follow the written instructions row by row (especially if you're short-term memory impaired, like I am. I can barely remember a phone number from the time I look it up to when I punch it in. A 12 row pattern repeat is beyond my RAM).

click on the 2 pattern pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Excerpt of The Given Day

Once upon a time, Dennis Lehane and I shared an editor (he was just on the cusp of real fame, and I started low and was already sliding down the fiction food chain). I don't know if Harper Collins still keeps track of my stuff, or if Dennis's in-house publicist is just doing a great job, but either way, they asked if I would post a link to an excerpt of Dennis's latest book, The Given Day.

I am more than happy to do so- I am savoring the book, reading it in small bursts. It is wonderful. Read this bit and see if you don't agree:

Thursday Tab- Monster Paper Dolls, Part 2

And here are pages 5-10 of the clothes for last week's Monster Paper Doll set. Next week, I'll upload the final 4 clothing pages, and a couple pages of artwork from the book.
Part 1 uploaded here:
Have a Booful Day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Wrap That Ate South Dakota

I know that cotton yarn has a propensity to *grow*, that sweaters knit with all-cotton yarn tend get bigger and longer with each wearing, until they're popped in the wash to tighten back up again. Knitted cotton fabric stretches because, unlike wool, cotton yarn has no natural elasticity.

But usually, you have to wear the thing, or at least let Gravity do her dirty work, for the effect to take place.

However, the first end of my cotton lace wrap (table runner/whatever), which measured 22 1/2" long when I put it on a stitch holder, was plopped unceremoniously on the plastic kiddie chair that doubles as a knitting book storage/project shelf/footstool. It wasn't hanging over the edge, stretched out, or in any way subject to the pull of the Earth's surface, except in that it didn't float away. And yet, when I finished the second end of the wrap (tr/w), and measured them against each other, the first end clocked in at 25". It sat there, mostly ignored, certainly not worn, or even artfully draped, and grew. Who knows how long it'll be when it finally reaches maturity?

So, I'm done with the 2 ends of the w (tr/w) and am working on the long center lace section. Given that this yarn shrinks in the wash (and I'll have to boil it to bring out the organic, natural green color), but grows when no one is looking at it, I am going to call it a wash and just make sure that the 2 pieces, when joined, measure 72". That way, after shrinkage, and growage, and blockage, it'll still be somewhere near 72" long, which is what I want it to be.

Unexpected sizing issues aside, I love how this is coming out.

I also finished another handspun, ribbed Christmas hat for the pile. And did I show you all the finished November 28 Lace Scarf (made with 1 skein of Malabrigo Worsted?). It'll be this week's Freebie Friday pattern.

I was going to knit today, but I have some sock book editing work to do, and my copy of Dennis Lehane's (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and many more wonderful books) The Given Day arrived. I've been waiting for this book for a long time (he talked about it in '02, when he was the Guest of Honor and I was Toastmaster of Honor at the annual Mayhem in the Midlands Mystery Conference, held in Omaha, NE). I think, when I finish book work, I'll read instead.