on knitting and healing and other stuff

Archive for July, 2007

Curve Ahead

Posted by Janis on July 30, 2007

In knitting news, I’m a little past the halfway mark on the Lacy Kerchief Scarf. I had a helluva time figuring out the increase directions on the garter stitch center panel — I figured there were 2 things the designer could mean and, stubborn Missouri mule that I am, I decided on the wrong one first, doggedly screwing up the pattern several times before conceding that MAYBE, just maybe … it was the second of the choices that was the correct one. Once that was sorted, it has been moving right along.

curve.jpgI am quite pleased with the curve of the curve that happened when I went from increasing to decreasing the center panel. I mean, really, a curve in my knitting that is meant to be there! An exciting moment in my knitting history…

I just signed up for my first knit-along, the Hanami shawl. It’s a gorgeous thing, full of symbolism about friendship and cherry blossoms, which I hope I won’t pollute with swearing over screwing up the pattern. The KAL plans on 60 rows a week, which is certainly doable and should mean that I can take my time and ask lots of questions and do it right. There! I’ve talked myself into it. Oh, did I mention it has beads, too? I’ll be adding beads for the first time, with a crochet hook so tiny that I could pass it through a pore on my face without feeling it…

lisaandme.jpgI forgot to upload this picture of Lisa and me in NOTL in the last post, and it got kinda crowded, so here we are. Saint Joan herself had just ridden past on a bicycle  and Lisa was getting ready to drive back to Toronto. It was so great to meet up — and to regale the breakfast table at the B&B with how we got to know each other and the bond one has with another when you knit a pair of socks for her. One of the women said, “Oh, that meeting on the Internet – it scares me!” I said, “She’s a knitter – and a doctor, to boot, for God’s sake! – she can do only good!”


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O Canada!

Posted by Janis on July 30, 2007

ocanada.jpgNeed to catch up a bit with my summer gallivanting, as my mother used to call it. Great word, huh? — “gallivanting.” One of my little projects I never quite got to before she passed was making a little book of “Mom-isms” for her. She had all these funny phrases and words, some of them from her Oklahoma upbringing (like “sweet patootie” – I think that’s a Southern thing), and some she may have just made up. (Like when we’d lose a tooth when we were little, she called us “Fanny Snaggle-tooth” – how great is that? Anyone who’s heard these before and can help track them, please let me know.)

Oh, but I digress… A couple of weekends ago we took our first real trip to Canada, besides for changing planes. OK, we were only in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, which isn’t too far into the great country of Canada, but we were impressed. Besides the obvious attractions like a national anthem that kicks butt, prettier money, and national health care, the place is gorgeous and the people are great. (You can afford to be kind and friendly when you know you won’t be homeless next month because of unforeseen medical bills.)

We went to take in the Shaw Festival — just had to see their “Saint Joan” and it was worth the whole trip, stunning! — and I was able to meet up with my sock swap Knitty friend, Lisa (click on “purlthis” under blogroll), who’s now based in Toronto. She came bearing gifts: an absolutely edible skein of Fleece Artist SeaWool (no, you may NOT taste my yarn! I know it looks delicious, but you can’t have it), and a very cool raku-fired ceramic apple. (That description does NOT do it justice – it’s one of the most aesthetically appealing things I’ve held in a long time — besides yarn. See photo for better idea of its beauty and inherent holdability). I’m so glad Lisa thought of bringing yarn, as it was incredibly difficult to be in Canada, which = Yarnland, and not be within striking distance of a LYS. Left to my own devices, I’d have assumed there would be one on every corner, in every village, no matter how small… lisagifts.jpg

We took an afternoon to see Niagara Falls, and I must say I was completely clueless as to what to expect. It is spectacular (duh) and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, we came into town a dumbass way and were subjected to major touro-trash before getting to the object of great natural beauty. Yes, that’s right, we encountered Frankenstein yomping a Whopperburgerfrank.jpg before we got to this:fallsrbow.jpg

Alas… ’twas a shock, to be sure. Did we ride the Maid of the Mist? Oh yes, we did — I may be critical of Clifton Hill tourist traps, but I know an authentic tourist attraction when I see it. This was the real deal. maidomist.jpg (And I was so glad we went on the Canadian side, with the blue ponchos — I look terrible in yellow.)

[I’m thinking maybe I should rename this blog “travel*therapy” — I seem to be doing a lot of that this summer.]

Posted in In the Stash, Random | 2 Comments »

Look Who’s Here!

Posted by Janis on July 19, 2007


Meet Ermina, pictured here at just 6 hours old! She is the brand-new cria of my new Knitty pal, Laurel, in Ontario. That didn’t come out right — I mean that Ermina is the baby of Roxie, who is one of Laurel’s alpacas. Is that any better? Anyway — Ermina is adorable and we wish all the best for baby, mother, and humans!

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5th Time’s a Charm…

Posted by Janis on July 19, 2007

Here is the cold, harsh truth: CSI reruns and lace knitting are a BAD combination. Last night I finally got around to casting on for the Lacy Kerchief Scarf (IK Holiday ’06), after doing a little swatch for a sweater for my dad and deciding to wait till I actually measured the nieces properly for their sweaters.

I got out my beautifully wound cakes of Butterfly 10 and my shiny new Addi Lace #6, did that easy Knit and Tonic provisional cast on, and set off. Only 26 stitches, no repeats of the lace pattern, just 8 rows to the pattern. Easy peasy, right? Except that I kept getting to about row 6 and having a stitch too many. Since I was enjoying a gin and tonic along with the CSI reruns, I thought I’d merrily knit along, doing an extra little skpsso every now and again to correct those pesky little extra stitches. After about 6 repeats of the pattern, I was so consistently screwing up at the same place that I contemplated Googling errata for the pattern. I frogged back to the beginning three or four times, with no better luck (or skill, as it turns out). Instead I went to bed, after first reading a little Yarn Harlot on the subject of process vs. product knitters. I went to bed pretty certain I was firmly in the process camp.

bfly10.jpgI woke up this morning thinking, “What am I doing wrong with that pattern?!” I blush to disclose that I did indeed Google for pattern errata — there are none, except in my flawed little fingers — so I decided to frog and start AGAIN. From the top, as we say in the theatre, and in the bright sunshine of my kitchen, no TV allowed. It will hardly come as a surprise to my knitting friends that the fault, dear Brutus, was in my self, not my pattern. I have now completed the first 6 repeats without disaster and look forward to the next section, in which a garter stitch middle section is added.

Lessons learned: a) I think I may be growing into a product knitter after all – yikes! b) I really love knitting from a chart, even when I’m doing it badly (or wrong) — I love the suspense in seeing that I have 7 more knit stitches to go on the row according to the chart, but not being able to quiiiiiiite see all of them on my left needle behind my thumb. Am I still on track? Have I derailed? Are there really seven stitches waiting to be knit, or have I cheated myself out of one or sneaked in an extra somewhere? And if so, can I fix it without ripping it out?

Yarn note: The Butterfly 10 may change my mind about knitting with cotton. I am loving this stuff!

Needle note: I want to knit everything with Addi Lace needles. Everything is so much easier with those points (tips?)!

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Finished the Ugly Sock

Posted by Janis on July 18, 2007

ugsock.jpgAnd it’s … ugly. Yup. No way around it, I just don’t like the little guy. The pattern is fine, the fit is good, I just hate the colorway for the lace pattern. My bad. Why, oh why, did it not occur to me that when the Panda Cotton people said they’d done the Hedera socks in Panda Cotton, that I didn’t think, “Yeah, musta been one of the solid colors…” I was all wigged out about using a pattern that allowed for the teeny bit of elastic in the Panda Cotton, and I’m not sure it even mattered much.

I’m sure in a more philosophical mood I’ll see all the lessons I’ve learned from knitting this sock, and I’ll be all glad for the experience. But right now, I’m just pissed. What a waste of time. (Not to mention the second sock, which I’ll no doubt go ahead and knit, just in case someone I know would like a pair of ugly socks. Guess after this post, they’re kinda toast as Christmas gifts, huh?)

I knew I would finish the sock last night, so as a preventive measure, I went to Knitorious and self-medicated, stocking up on Noro and Malabrigo. I knew they would erase the pain of this little mistake, and even though it’s probably wrong to rely on artificial stimulants, I’m not sorry I’ll be able to cast on sweaters for my nieces today. And because I’ve already switched yarn for these projects at least 3 times, I’m a little more certain I’ll be happy with the results. Here’s hoping.

Posted in On the Needles | 6 Comments »

On Frittering

Posted by Janis on July 15, 2007

Where has the morning gone? I just looked at the clock in the corner of my monitor and realize I’ve been zipping around online wasted nearly 2 hours poking around online. And what do I have to show for it? A small Knitpicks order (40% off  books there, so that’s all good), and that’s just about it. (Oh, and I did post a question on a Disneyland discussion board about the presence or absence of the electrical parade over Labor Day weekend.)

I’m fairly certain that I am the Queen of the Fritterers. I fritter away my free time in a way that appalls me – sometimes, that is (and obviously not enough to stop frittering). I discovered my talent for frittering at a crucial intersection in my life:  leaving full-time, 40-60 hour weeks as an arts administrator to go to grad school AND internet access at home. In the decade that’s followed, I’ve been fortunate to have various teaching jobs that do not require me to be anywhere all day, every day. Much of my spare time I have devoted to the art of frittering. My specialty is, of course, online frittering or Web frittering. Within that specialty, I have areas of extreme expertise:  Travel  Surfing and Trolling for Knit. I’m pursuing a minor in Blog Hopping, but have a long way to go to compete with my dear Kay, who recently shared with me a blog entry about a knitted iPhone! (She is just too au courant, y’know?)

I do need to go to my LYS today (that’s Knitorious, for any St. Louis area knitters) and it opens in 9 minutes. It’s one proven way to end the frittering…

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Slow Going Sock(s)

Posted by Janis on July 12, 2007

I’m making a pair of Hedera socks out of Panda Cotton, in the strawberries and limes colorway. Gosh, it seemed so springy and cheery back in April when I bought the yarn, and again in May when I cast on. I’ve made one whole sweater and the back to another one since then, and just can’t seem to get in gear to finish these socks. (Socks – ha! – that’s an overstatement. I only have a little over half of the first one done at this point.) I’m not so crazy about what the colorway is doing in this pattern and I’m wishing I’d done the Hedera ones in a solid color. What do you think? (In all fairness, I should say that frogging is like, NEVER an option for me when I’ve gone this far with a lace pattern.)pandasox.jpg

I also have a Captain Jack Sparrow’s Favorite Sock(s) on another set of needles. I regret to say that I cheaped out on Trillian’s original yarn and went with some stuff I had in the stash. So my pirate sock looks much more… uhhh… folkloric, shall we say? Whimsical? Not as truly roguish and pirate-like as the original. And here’s why I love my husband so much: when I asked him if he minded that they wouldn’t be as cool-looking as the originals, he said, “But they’re really funny this way. I like ’em better.” (He should’ve said “it” — “I like it better,” as there are – again – nowhere near 2 socks here we’re talkin’ about.) I will share with you the whimsical, folkloric sock: piratesock.jpg

(Please note the beautiful stitch markers made for me by Lisa.)

I have the sweater bug, though — I just seem to want to knit sweaters. Or knit a big scarf or shawl I can wear when we go to the Shaw Festival next weekend. But my Sea Silk isn’t here yet – at least not the colorway I want to do it in (OK, OK, so I caved — I got “Forest” AND “Periwinkle”) So I keep plodding along to get the Hedera sock finished. Orestes should have his silly, woolly socks in time for cold weather.

But what, oh what shall I knit for holiday gifts this year? I had pledged to start those in July, but can’t seem to decide what patterns to choose for which people. I’m looking at all these gorgeous lace projects, but I don’t think I’d get many of THOSE finished in time for December, even if I did lace scarves. Maybe I’ll do mittens this year. Mittens and hats,
mittens OR hats. Trish just sent me a great new hat pattern, so that’s inspiring, and I have a ton of yarn in the stash I bought to make mittens last winter. (Completed mittens, Winter 2007: 0) I’m ready.

P.S. – Despite the enormous victory of learning the (an?) invisible provisional cast-on late Saturday night, I have yet to cast on for the Lacey Kerchief Scarf (damn big scarf – really more of a shawl, I think.) This weekend for sure.

Posted in On the Needles | 2 Comments »

Words I Never, EVER Want to Read Again

Posted by Janis on July 7, 2007


The first words I never, EVER want to read again are these:

“in the usual manner” — as found in many knitting patterns regarding increases, decreases, bind-offs, etc.

Now, if I were a very experienced knitter at this point, I’d say, “Whew – glad I don’t have to read through all those dreary DIRECTIONS again!” and “I really appreciate the effort to cut down on paper and printing ink here!” But for those of us who are newer to the craft, it just doesn’t quite cut it. It’s like following a recipe and realizing after you have all the stuff in the bowl that there are no cooking directions. How the hell are we supposed to finish this thing?!

In a related story, tonight I decided to cast on for the Lacy Kerchief Scarf from IK. I’ve had the yarn for a long time, but had avoided starting it because I didn’t know how to do the invisible provisional cast-on required. I had looked at the instructions in the back of the magazine a number of times but it just wasn’t resonating. So tonight I hauled out all my knitting books, got out 2 colors of yarn and needles, and sat down to teach myself a new technique. (Astrology buffs will note that Mercury is in retrograde till the 9th, so it’s probably not the time to try anything that involves communication. But alas… I forged ahead.)

I felt that good ol’ Montse Stanley let me down in the Readers Digest Knitters Handbook, if for no other reason than that instructions and diagrams were on two different pages. This required me to try to follow the directions, look at the drawings, AND flip the page at the crucial moment. At least Montse tried; Maggie Righetti was silent on the subject in Knitting in Plain English. (I had some pretty plain English for her when I discovered it.) Nothin’ doin’ in Stitch n’ Bitch, either. (So I did a bit of the latter.) On to Victorian Lace Today — better, but I still couldn’t get it from reading and trying to follow the diagrams. Give up? I don’t think so. Cyberspace must hold the answer.

I Google “invisible provisional cast-on tutorial” and up pop hundreds of hits. I recognize the first one right away, and click on her lace cast-on tutorial. I am not at all amused or heartened by the following words:

                                                                                            “ridiculously simple”

especially when referring to something I’ve been trying to learn with no success for the past hour and a half! Her directions and photos seem very clear, but I STILL wasn’t matching the image of the finished cast on. Guess it’ll be awhile before I’m up for any Eunny Jang patterns, huh?

I will spare you a couple of the other sites I tried, but finally I ended up at Wendy Bernard’s blog, Knit and Tonic. She teaches a provisional cast on that’s really (shhhh!) a long-tail cast-on, just using waste yarn on one side and the working yarn on the other. BRILLIANT!!! I am saved! And besides learning a provisional cast-on I can actually DO, I learned that the designer known as Wendy Bernard (“Tomato” top) is Knit and Tonic.

Will share pics of the scarf as soon as it is a WIP.

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