I spent the weekend at the Nikon School, and I now can
recite at least fifty reasons that my photos are such poor representations of
my knitting and yarns.Although I
have all this “book learning”, it will take a while to put the new things I
learned into practice.So over the
next few weeks, I hope there is a noticeable improvement.The Nikon School sessions are held in
many major cities, and the first on learning to use a D-SLR camera applies to
any model camera.If you end up
with such a camera and are as clueless as I appear to have been, I’d recommend
I was lucky enough to have one of the instructors sit next
to me at lunch, and I asked him about the specific issues in photographing
yarns so their colors were true.On the downside, he explained that the camera could never capture the
subtleties of the colors we see with our eyes, but he also gave me some great
advice on getting more accurate colors, starting with calibrating my monitor (a
device is required for this) and using a photographic gray card before shooting.But even without these technological advances
in my camera equipment, I can start playing with my camera settings.This might just be the exercise that
will get me to post my stash photos on Ravelry.
Because I had intended to have four leisurely hours on the
train as I rode back and forth to Manhattan on Saturday and Sunday, I managed
to get super-express trains (straight from Grand Central to Croton, with no
stops).These offer only about 40
minutes of knitting time, and so my cowl is still in progress, but close to
Thora is finished, although the seams would benefit from a light
steaming.After an unseasonably
warm fall, we just had our first snow of the season followed by cold.So I’ll need to pick the warmest day I
can for an outdoor modeling shot.I am really pleased with the way it turned out.
To avoid a totally pictureless post, I’ll play the cute-card
and show what my birdies have been up to.Larry Bird has now been with us a year.Although he is shy, he has a very sunny personality and
adores Addi.He does have favorite
Addi is fonder of human contact.This behavior is quite remarkable because she was terrified
of large men when I first took her in from our deck.We suspect she was mistreated.For the last several months, she has
had a particular interest in sweatshirt pockets.
And she is the main reason that Kindles will not be suitable
in our household.
My next post will have actual knitting content as I either return to UFOs to clean my slate, or swatch for my 2010 projects.
My pack-rat tendencies extend beyond yarn, patterns, and knitting
books to cable hooks.[I actually
find it shocking to stumble upon Ravelers who claim they do not have a stash
and complete one project before buying yarn for the next.] I don’t cable
without a needle, and so cable needles are essential.When I first started knitting, there didn’t seem to be many
options for cable hooks.My first
one, which I used for years and years, is this:
I believe it came in a “small” (as shown) and “large”, and
since I rarely knit or cable with very heavy yarn, if I had one, it has long
since disappeared.I also have a
set of Clover cable hooks that I inherited from my mother, but I have switched
from hooks to the straight or wing variety, and seldom use them.
I try to get a cable needle that matches the needle size I’m
working with (to avoid cables that have a different stitch size from the rest
of the knitting), and therein lies the need for many different cable
needles.And so as a public service,
I’ll give you the needle sizes of all my cable needles.
The Clovers are equivalent to 2.50 US (3 mm), 6 US (4.25
mm), and 8 (5mm) needles.
The Knit Picks cable needles are equivalent to 3 US (3.25
mm), 5 US (3.75 mm), and 10 US (6mm) needles.I prefer the cable needles without the grooves, and although
these are pretty and have nice points, they aren’t my cable needles of choice.
The Brittany Birch match 3 US (3.25 mm), 7 US (4.50 mm), and
9 (5.50 mm) needles.
This left me with a dilemma when I began to knit Thora.I am using size 1s (2.50 mm) for the
body and cables.I searched everywhere for a cable that would work on such thin needles, partly
for Thora and partly to cable on socks.I found one from Inox and ordered it immediately, but it is very
odd.It is much too long to use
conveniently.The Inox cable needles come in
sizes 1 US (2.50 mm) and 5 ½ US (4mm).
While knitting Thora, I had an epiphany that will probably
eliminate the need for any more cable needle purchases (although I can’t
imagine there are too many other cable needles out there that I don’t already
own).Why not use 4-inch dpns—or,
more precisely, one 4-inch dpn?That is indeed what I did on Thora.
I have a few pairs of Suzanne dpns, which I got in sizes
that would be typical for knitting gloves and mittens.And when I saw that Knit Picks had a
whole set of Harmony 4-inch dpns, I immediately added them to my needle
arsenal.Those shown below (from
top to bottom are Suzanne ebony in size 2.50 mm, Suzanne rosewood in size 3.0
mm, KnitPicks 0 US (2 mm), and KnitPicks 1 US (2.50 mm).
The Suzanne needles aren’t that easy to find and they can be
expensive.I got mine at
Patternworks, which no longer seems to have them, but WEBS has a few
sizes.I like them better than the KnitPicks
because they feel more substantial and have rounder points, but the KnitPicks
are very good, especially for the price.
So armed with my 4-inch dpns, I’ll be cabling away on socks
as soon as Thora is done.
I’ve been thinking about fall for most of this summer and
reveling in the not-so-warm days and pleasant nights, smiling to myself when
others have complained about “the summer that wasn’t”.But however cool July and August might
be, they are not fall.Fall begins
for me around my son’s birthday, which will be this weekend when he turns 25.My mental image is taking him out as a
baby in a carriage when we lived in New York City, and enjoying the bright
sunshine and turning leaves in Washington Square Park.
The reason that I still think mid-September is fall is that
for the past several years, Ed and I have taken a ride to one of the orchards
around here that sells apples and apple-related items.Our particular favorite is Salinger's.We used to visit Salinger's with Will
when he was little so he could get the fresh doughnuts made on the premises and
the apple cider.
The apple selection is the most impressive I’ve seen
And here is part of this year’s birthday haul of doughnuts.
Even a chocolate-lover like me makes an exception for
these.The smell of cinnamon that fills the car while driving home from the orchard is overwhelming, and Ed’s antidote for it is to
eat as quickly as possible (minus the very large bite for me) some fruit-filled
strudel that is also for sale.
It may seem to some that we are copping out on the true
experience of apples in New York State in the fall.The most dedicated will go to the many orchards and pick
their own.We do not.Apple picking is one of those many things
that you do with small children that sound great but turn out to be near or
total disasters.Like most parents
around here, we thought picking apples would be a fun day out for a 6- or
7-year-old child.And at that
time, we packed Will into the car and drove off.We paid our entrance fee, got our bags and picking pole, and
proceeded to the trees.At this particular pick-your-own orchard, the trees were surrounded by the lushest growth of poison
ivy that I’ve ever seen.It extended
so far beyond the trees that anyone under 6 feet who wanted to get an apple
would also get poison ivy.So Will and I stood and watched Ed from
a safe distance as he got one bag of apples with the picking pole, and then we took
the long drive home—with one disappointed kid.About two hours of driving for ten minutes of apple picking.
This experience can’t hold a candle to the one that
backfired on the mom of one of Will’s childhood friends.She was the type of person who would
spend rainy days with her kids making macaroni pictures (something I never knew
was even possible).She decided
that Nicky and his brother should learn to look things up in the dictionary,
and every time they came upon a new word, she would tell them to get the
dictionary and see what it said.One day, little Nicky was eating pumpernickel and pondered on the
meaning of the name.So his mom
did what she always did—checked the dictionary.In her version of Webster’s, its word origin is “fart of the
devil”.As you can imagine, the
kids were delighted and shared this bit of knowledge with anyone within earshot.This was the end of the
dictionary lessons, and I’m sure their SAT scores suffered from this setback.
But fall will be here soon enough, and with it Rhinebeck and
Stitches East—the true Fall Classics for me.I’ve already begun my yarn-buying fantasies, which I’ll
share in subsequent posts.And,
yes, knitting has been progressing.Thora II is about up to the back armholes, but this has been
photographed before.So photos
will have to wait until I’ve got something new to show.
I’m at the point where I can taste freedom from seven-day
workweeks, after what will be a marathon session over the next few days to get
my last late assignment finished.Monday is the actual due date, but if I hunker down and devote some long
days to it, Tuesday afternoon is the possible end to the project
conflicts.All this work has
not only made me a dull girl, but I feel totally exhausted.I have to drag myself out of bed in the
morning, and I nod off occasionally in the afternoon.I am looking forward to taking a few days off toward the end
of next week to do some of the cleaning chores that have mounted up.At this point, mindless physical labor
seems fantastically appealing.
And nearly all of my seeds are here, with the rest to
arrive by the beginning of next week, so if the weather cooperates I can plant
some spinach and get my indoor flats started.
Knitting has been slow, but modestly steady.The front of Arbor Rose is done (but not blocked), and I
planned and began Sleeve #1.
I usually like to knit my sleeves together because I know
the increases and decreases match, but this time I decided to do them one at a
time.There will be less frogging
if I’m not happy with the result.The only challenge, aside from getting the dimensions right, was to
match the stretchiness of the sleeve fabric with the body fabric.I planned for the stitch pattern to
stretch only slightly as it conformed to the shape of the wearer’s body, so I
had to leave an equal amount of slack in the sleeve as in the body.
Also this week, I learned more about bird droppings than I
ever wanted to know.Addi, who
will have been with us a year on April 20, began to have wet droppings, which
is not a great thing for parakeets.At first I thought it was too much lettuce, but after stopping the
lettuce for a week, there was only mild improvement—sometimes the poops were
fine, but sometimes they weren’t.She looks fine, and acts fine, getting into things that she has no
business investigating, and continues to boss poor Larry Bird around, but her
digestive problems persisted.I
finally realized that the wet poops occur after she has been drinking water, and
I took her to our local avian vet.It is possible that she has birdie diabetes or a condition called
polyurea.The vet said that
diabetes isn’t the problem in birds that it is in humans, and not to worry
because she looks so healthy.The
vet visit was quite an ordeal, though.Addi doesn’t like being in a plastic box to get weighed.She is a whopping 42 grams, up from 38
grams in November—a good thing.She doesn’t like having her nails clipped.During the exam, she flew away twice and had to be captured
with a towel, something I know she hates and I never do at home.So after returning home, she just
Her spirits are much better today, and I have to collect her
urine using this:
It is not as horrendous as it looks.I put wax paper on the cage floor and
use the device like a pipette.Once I get enough, it will be tested for glucose.But I can do this without a return
visit with Addi, which is definitely a good thing for everyone.
My third sweater, knit in about 1967, was a cabled tennis
sweater.It was the first one that
really fit the way it ought to and the first that I was proud to say I
knit. It also ushered in a
lifetime of cable knitting.My
favorite kinds of knitting are cables and lace, and cables definitely have a
I’m also not the kind of knitter who cables without a
needle.Sure, I do simple twists
without a needle, but if I’m manipulating two or more stitches, I need a cable
hook or needle.And so, over the
time I’ve been knitting, I have acquired quite a few—and they’re all in use.
The top cable needle was my first, and I used that style for
at least 20 years.The aluminum
hook complemented my collection of hollow aluminum needles (Boye or Susan
Bates), that I eagerly put aside when I discovered the matte gray Milward
needles in England, and Inox needles shortly after that.But I never did get a matte gray cable
hook, and I don’t know if they existed.So I continued to use the aluminum cable hook, which is the size of a
U.S. 1 (2.25 mm) needle. And I still use it for knitting on fine yarn.
I like Clover accessories, and when I saw the plastic hooks (probably in the 1980s),
I snatched them up. The smallest hook (the green one) is 3 mm, the white is U.S. 6, and the pink is
U.S. 8 (5 mm).
When I tried the corresponding version that is straight with
the dip to hold the stitches, I liked them much better.Until that point, I’d put the stitches
on the hook and return them to my needles.With the straight version, I’d knit right off the cable
needle, speeding up my knitting.I
wish these came in a smaller size, but the green and white needles work for most
Having discovered the benefits of knitting right off the
cable needle, I wanted to try the cable needles that Knit Picks now
has to complement their Harmony needle line.I love the Harmony needles, and I hoped that the cable
needles would also be as satisfactory.They arrived yesterday along with a few additions to my knitting book
collection.The smallest size is a
U.S. 3 (3.25 mm), the next is 4 mm, and the big one is 10 U.S. (6 mm).I rarely knit with needles over size 8,
and so the big one won’t get much use (as is also the case for the biggest size
of the Clover cable hooks and needles).I’ll be trying out the middle size on Sweater #2, which should be my
main project by next week.I have
high hopes for these—the points are tapered beautifully and they have a nice
I am still on the lookout for cable needles that could
replace my aluminum hook for use on finer yarn, like that I’d use for socks.
The need to knit small presents is weighing on my knitting
project plans.I think it is a
knitter’s affliction that Christmas always seems to come at least two weeks
earlier than it ought to. I’d like to thank a few people who’ve done nice
things for me this year, and in years past—the trainers who run my exercise
classes, people I work with who’ve given me assignments for many years and
often when I’ve been in need of a quick job to fill unexpected free time.I also thought it would be interesting
to see why projects like washcloths were so fascinating for many knitters.I’ve only made garments, and I never
really considered what “knitting for the home” would be like.I also thought that I could use up some
cotton, which I don’t much like for clothing, and as an exercise to try out
some patterns to see what the reverse side would look like.
I planned the washcloths long before I decided to knit twelve
sweaters in 2009.Now I’m obsessed
with swatching and studying the sweater patterns I’m planning, and I want to
barrel through the washcloths quickly.So to cut down on my thinking time, I just resorted to the same checked
pattern I used for my pink scarf:
The cotton yarn is a discontinued Reynolds yarn, Saucy, and
the two 100-g balls will make three cloths each.I’m using size 4 US (Harmony circulars, but knitted
straight) for the pattern.
I think the first washcloth turned out quite well, and it
took a bit over one evening to finish.And so if I dedicate myself to the remaining yarn, I will have six of
these—all identical—to give away with soap I purchased from gotsoap.com
I had bought soap like this at Rhinebeck, in the almond
scent, and I like it very much.I
should point out that Ed doesn’t like the scent, but he will start sneezing if
I inadvertently open one of the flaps of a perfume ad or if we walk into a
store that is promoting a new fragrance by spritzing it everywhere.One option from Simpler Thyme was an
eight-soap pack of different scents, and I selected it.I only need six presents, and so I’ll
have the chance to try two more—actually three more because they kindly
included a free bar.In addition
to the bars you see, my selection includes basil, calendula-thyme, cinnamon
oatmeal, cedarwood, and aloe vera herbal.It is going to be a tough choice to determine who gets what and which I
get to try out. I think this is
lovely soap, and if you’re ever planning a similar present, give it a try (and
if you’re at Rhinebeck, be sure to visit the booth—or check this part of the GotSoap site for a sample).
I couldn’t tear myself away from my blue-green STR socks
last night, and so I naughtily got half the foot of Sock #1 done.But tonight I’d better be nice, or I
won’t have presents to give away next week.
This is one of those weeks where I’ve felt like a circus
juggler—you know, the fellow who starts with one or two balls and then adds
more and more balls as his confederate throws them to him.In my case, however, after two balls,
the whole shebang just dropped on the floor bouncing in all directions.I think Thanksgiving, a surprise
“you’ve got to do this in five hours” assignment (which is still on my desk
waiting to be completed), and a problem with my email program that took a
half-day to fix pushed me over the edge.I have been knitting, but blogging was one of the first things to drop
from my repertoire.
I’m proud to say that the Target Wave Mittens are on their
way to the mitten drive run by the Rochester Knitting Guild.Although late, I hope they are in time
for the December giveaway.
These turned out acceptably, but not as good as the picture
in Norah Gaughan’s book.If you
decide to use this pattern, look at the many suggestions on Ravelry for
alteration.I reduced the number
of circles around the thumb, and it still seems a bit wonky.I am glad, though, that my meager stash
of acrylic is depleted and the mittens are going to someone who could use them.
I also finished Ed’s hat from Charlene Schurch’s Hats On!
This took about 2 ½ skeins
of Heilo, and I knit it on size 0 needles so it would be warm and dense.I also made a very deep brim so that it
would be double over Ed’s ears.Heilo can be a bit splitty on such small needles, but I’m very pleased
with this hat—as is Ed.Usually
when I finish a warm sweater or other garment, the weather gets too warm to
wear it.Although we had a couple
of relatively mild days, it is now snowing, and I think our warmish weather is
In fact, one other obstacle to getting on with my life was
the need to put my garden to bed.October was so mild that I was harvesting tomatoes into the first few
weeks, and lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard through the end of the month.Then we had a cold snap, and I never
pulled up my spent plants or took down the row covers.That took most of yesterday.
But to give myself a treat for working so hard through the
summer, I ordered some things from KnitPicks.
The wonderful brown box, which arrived around a week ago,
contained copies of Nancy Bush’s new book on Estonian shawls and Folk
Shawls, which I ordered before, but was out of stock.I’ve wanted to try KnitPicks Gloss for socks, and the purple
(color Cosmos) was inside.Also
enclosed are some extra points for my Harmony circular needle set, chocolate
Andean Silk for a scarf for Ed, and some Superwash Merino in gray (cobblestone
heather) for fingerless gloves for Ed.Ed insists that they have to be washable, and so Superwash seemed the
only way to go.
I decided to cook on Thanksgiving, for just the three of us.Ed does most of the cooking ordinarily, and so this was intended to be a
treat for him, since he could just watch football and let me do the
work.He didn’t quite sit with his
feet up—he did cook the vegetables and raced over whenever it seemed as if I wasn’t
in command of what I was doing.But I roasted Cornish game hens and made cranberry sauce.And, for what has become a tradition, I
made a chocolate layer cake.This
is what’s left:
I’m not a skilled baker because I don’t bake that often, but
this cake, from a recipe on the back of the Swan’s Down Cake Flour box is
really a winner.I usually frost
it with vanilla butter cream icing, but the new flour box had a recipe for
chocolate butter cream, and this variation was a success.
Now if I can only manage to add one more ball to my juggling
routine and get these projects up on Ravelry—I think that just might have to
wait for next week.
I’m recovering from second-mitten syndrome and I feel a serious bout of startitis coming on. For the past week, I’ve procrastinated about finishing Norah Gaughan’s Target mittens while I worked on a hat for Ed.
I bit the bullet last night and got the second thumb done, and if I can muster the enthusiasm to sew the seams, I’ll have the mittens ready to send off to the mitten drive run by the Knitting Guild of Rochester.
Ed’s hat is not complicated. It is a pattern from Charlene Schurch’s Hats On! book, and I already knit this hat in the past for my son.
His hat has lasted for at least six years, and it looks brand new. If you could see the condition of his other clothing, you would realize just what a miracle this is. But my knitted garments for DH and DS come with “lifetime maintenance”—my lifetime. That means that I remove the garments from their possession in early spring, or as soon as they’re willing to part with hats, scarves, and sweaters, and I wash them and store them. Then they get the garments back in September.
Although simple, the hat is wonderfully elegant and it fulfills my need to create perfect garments. The tough part for me is the tubular cast-on in the round.
The instructions in the book are excellent, but it does take an entire evening to get the first 6 rows started. Both hats are knit from Heilo—on very tiny needles. My son’s hat was done on size 1 US, and Ed’s hat is being knit on size 1.5 US. It makes for a very dense and warm hat, with a lot of shape. The yarn for Ed’s had has been in my stash since about 1998—and I got it at Patternworks’ after-Christmas sale when they were in Poughkeepsie. Oh, how I miss that.
But ribbing holds only so much interest, and so my mind wanders to other projects. I need to knit at least one washcloth to give as a gift this Christmas, and I remembered those in Knitter’s Stash.
These call for Louet linen, and I don’t want to buy new yarn until I know I am “into” washcloths. Heretofore, I’ve knit only clothing. The cotton yarn I thought about is not as thin as the Louet…but (what a surprise) I do have other stash yarn that would be suitable.
I have no idea how old this yarn is, but I put it at circa 1975. It was intended for a sleeveless top. And even when I was thinner than I am now (and sagged less), the 7 skeins of cream and 1 skein of brown weren’t going to cover my chest. I figured this out after the yarn was discontinued, and so it has languished all these years. So will it make good washcloths? I guess it is worth a try.
While I was browsing Knitter’s Stash, I flipped to a sweater I always liked:
This is knit from cashmere, and I probably never could and never will be able to afford that much cashmere. But the sweater called to me for my Tess Silk and Wool stash yarn:
In my mind’s eye, I can see changing the shape of the sweater a little so it is fitted around the waist. The cables at the shoulders will give the very drapy Tess yarn some shape—but swatching that cable is the only way to tell. Some of the past week was spent washing the Tess yarn (the sales woman claimed it might bleed—but it doesn’t bleed enough to warrant doing this). It takes forever to dry. This project will take a bit of thinking, and if I have thinking time, I should spend it on my UFOs. So to avoid the guilt, my mind flitted to socks.
Should I use the medium STR in the rose color or blue-green in a design from Sensational Knitted socks? That would take no time, since I’ve knitted two pairs from that book already in the same weight yarn. Or should I work on an original design from the Fearless Fibers yarn (more brown than it looks here) that I already started to swatch.
Or, should I start the cabled sweater for the Fall Cable KAL and use up my blue stash yarn?
I suspect the answer is going to be “all of the above”.
As Bee Fields is winding down and fall, with its crisp beautiful days, seems on the threshold, my thoughts have turned to Rhinebeck. As I drive along the stretch of the Hudson River that flows through my part of New York and see bits of yellow and orange among the green trees, I can’t think of anything but the splendid drive north to Rhinebeck. In less than a month, I’ll be taking that drive just at the time when all the trees are at the peak of glorious color.
It isn’t easy to decide what kinds of yarn to buy, but if I don't set some guidelines now my purchases will be haphazard. I definitely don’t need more shawl yarn, although it is always tempting. I think this year it will be sweaters and some modest additions to my sock yarn stash. There are some yarns I’ve bought in past years to try out, and after Bee Fields, I think I could use a simple project for a week or so. Last night, I foraged in my stash for the yarns I thought I’d use for scarves as a way to decide whether to get a sweater’s worth of yarn. The most likely candidate is this hand-dyed Cormo-silk mix from Fox Fire Fibers.
From the website it seems that this exact yarn isn’t offered, but an intriguing alternative (Cormo-silk-alpaca) is listed. Fox Fiber also has the most beautiful sock yarn, and so I won’t come home empty handed.
Several years ago, I purchased this llama yarn from Rhodie Hill Farms. It has a beautiful hand-spun texture, and it positively glows. I wish you could feel how soft it is.
I was going to try it out using one of Myrna Stahman’s seaman’s scarves, but I never got to it. I had hoped to knit DS a sweater using several of the natural shades, and he decided that he had enough sweaters (yes, there are times when I wonder if he is really my son). But I would like to knit a bit of it to see what it is like. If I’m not quite up to a sweater from it, it would make a great choice for some special gift scarves.
Another vendor that has always intrigued me is Shelridge Farm, and I’m considering one (or more) of their beautiful DK yarns for a pullover sweater. I want to do more self-designed sweaters, and these yarns seem perfect.
I’ve been blogging now for just over a year and a half, and it has been a wonderful experience. I’ve enjoyed writing about my projects and progress (or lack thereof) and “meeting” other knitters. Helena made my day by giving me an “I Love Your Blog” award, and part of the requirements is to pass this on to four other blogs. It is hard to decide which of the blogs I visit regularly to choose, but some do stand out for particular reasons.
I’d like to pass it on to Dorothy, whose blog I started reading shortly after I discovered (quite inadvertently) that there were knitting blogs. I’ve enjoyed reading Dorothy’s posts on all sorts of topics beyond knitting, particularly her success in gaining a college degree.
Robin really counts as my first blog friend. She hosted the Manly Gift Along KAL, which was my first KAL, and has graciously shared her thoughts and opinions with me from virtually day one of my blog launch. She is my window on younger knitters (and often my enabler), and I think my project choices have been shaped by her selection—even though I’m not always ready to give up “boxy”.
I came upon Susan’s blog not long ago (in blog years), but watching her progress and reading about the changes she makes to every project has often given me new insight for doing the same on mine. I enjoy her nonknitting pictures of mountains and Western landscapes almost as much as the FO pictures.
Finally, I’d like to mention a blog that is a relatively new stop in blogland—another Marjorie. (That alone is almost a reason to pass the award on—“Marjories” are a dying breed. What young girl is given that name nowadays?) Marji sent me an email not long ago complimenting my blog, and when I checked hers I was astounded by her sewing and tailoring skills—skill that I’ve let go dormant. Her posts have inspired me to dust off my machine and think about woven fabric. She knits beautifully too.
So ladies, you now have to pass the award on to four others.
And to end summer in style, I picked my first of what seems to be a dozen, red tomatoes: