on knitting and healing and other stuff

Archive for January, 2008

Knitterly Things

Posted by Janis on January 27, 2008

My reward for a busy day yesterday (striking a show and rehearsing another show) was an evening of knit-minded things. Not just knitting, per se, but ball-winding (6 skeins – whee!), end-weaving, AND four rows of (*&^%$!) intarsia. All of this kicked off by a stop at a LYS, where I bought the needles I THOUGHT I needed for the next project (and why would a LYS not have a copy of the current IK so I could check??). Of course, I bought the wrong size – too short on the cables, the diameter is fine. They don’t allow returns on needles, so I’m kinda screwed. What will I do with 12″ Addi’s in sizes 1 & 2? Anybody out there – speak up if you need these needles! I suppose I could use them to make fine-gauge baby hats, but I don’t really do much baby knitting. I’m going to call them today and see if maybe just once they’ll let me swap for the 16″ ones. (I really did think those needles seemed very short, but I was determined… and wrong.)

So here’s the clean-up, woven-in bag beginning: tidy-endings.jpg I feel better about it now that I can see what the hell is going on back there, but what a pain and I didn’t even weave them in very much, just the bare minimum for the felting. Next, fun with the swift and ballwinder. Here’s the Harrisville New England Shetland, ready to begin the Ivy League Vest, when the bag is finished: harrisville-new-england-shetland.jpgDo you hear me — I said “finished” — even though I swatched a bit last night for the vest… It will take me the rest of my adult life to do that vest — but I’m sure I will learn many truths about Fair Isle knitting in the process. I already know I like it so much more than (*&^%!) intarsia, so it’ll seem like a breath of fresh air, I’m sure. And I’ve been practicing the two-handed method of carrying the 2 colors, so that’s getting a little less clumsy.

Finally, this morning I decided that the pile of knitting books and magazines on my nightstand and the nearby bookshelf in our bedroom was getting a little out of hand. I piled everything up (except the Yarn Harlot – those stay) and carried them downstairs, where I took this picture. knitbooks.jpg
Even Harry Houdini is astonished at the pile. The knitting bookshelves are groaning again under the weight of their returned comrades, and I feel like a new woman. (But I gotta get rid of some of these books — like the ones I know I’ll NEVER make anything from, for instance…)


Posted in On the Needles, On the Nightstand | 6 Comments »

Intarsia Insanity

Posted by Janis on January 25, 2008


Does this look like fun? I ask you — please, reply honestly. Would you relish weaving in all these *&^%$ ends? Put another way: how badly do I really want this bag?

Answer: I REALLY want this bag, which is the Weekend Getaway Satchel (IK Fall ’05). It’s been on my list for ages, last summer one of my LYS’s was clearing out their Lite Lopi so I got most of the yarn on sale, and here I am… knitting INTARSIA that will then be felted AND have a whole host of finishing items required, some of which require POWER TOOLS. The base requires a piece of masonite which will need to be sawed to fit, and I presume I’ll have to attach the soigné little handbag feet with a drill. A DRILL. At which point this project will no longer have anything to do with knitting, but will be some sort of perverse combination of home ec. and shop class, neither of which I bothered to take in high school.

In a slightly more optimistic view of things, here’s a pic of the finished pieces (base and one strap – 8’+ of glorious stockinette) and the intarsia front in progress:

My big plan is to weave in the ends every 20 rows or so, to avoid losing my mind completely at the end. I’m glad that I generally don’t leave projects languishing, because this one would likely get shoved in a bin and forgotten forever. I am determined, however — I will finish this bag. And like it.

Posted in On the Needles | 6 Comments »

First FO’s of ’08

Posted by Janis on January 25, 2008


Spurred on by the Ravelry Stash Knit-down Group and its “Knit A Mile in January” Challenge, I’ve finished my first projects of the year (short trumpet fanfare here). I did the Fairly Easy Fair Isle from “Stitch n’ Bitch Nation” that’s been hanging around for a year and a half (yarn & everything – I had the pattern in mind for a year before that). It was a quick and easy knit in the Lamb’s Pride Bulky and I’m pretty pleased with it — after tidying up my crummy-looking buttonholes, that is. I decided to be really thorough and knit up the end of the black LPB by making a matching hat, and ended up going through the end of some Valley Berkshire (doubled) I had around, AND some Patons Classic Merino (doubled) in order to finish the thing. Luckily, the blacks match very well and it’s not too obvious where one yarn stops and the second begins – or the third, in this case. Best of all, I have lightened my stashload of about 900 yards of yarn — woo hooo!

While working on the sweater, I also started the base for the Weekend Getaway Satchel, for a little mindless knitting I can do while supervising rehearsals. I’ll finish up that piece today and start on the fun part — the intarsia front of the bag. If I can finish this project this winter, I’ll have all sorts of room in my yarn bins. That sucker takes almost 2 miles of yarn! (Ahhh, nothing like felting for eating up yarn.)

All this bulky-gauge knitting makes me yearn to get back to lace knitting or to start a finer gauge sweater. I love the speed of bulky, but am less and less enamored of the look…

Posted in In the Stash, On the Needles | 3 Comments »

The Last Word on Christmas Knitting

Posted by Janis on January 2, 2008

Final score for 2007 holiday knitting:  Sweaters 3, Fetching 1. Here are my nieces with their sweaters and a pic of my Dad’s in its finished state. I didn’t get a pic of the Fetching, but they turned out nicely (you’ll have to take my word for it).


Christmas Eve included a mad dash to Jo-Ann (which I felt bad for patronizing after reading the horror story about the customer who wasn’t allowed to use the employee restroom…) for buttons and a bad moment of thinking I might run out of yarn for the button bands and bind-off, even though I had 3 MORE BALLS of it at home… But – WHEW – made it, with yards to spare. I did forget to buy regular thread to sew the buttons on, so I tacked ’em on with yarn for Christmas morning then put them on properly the 26th (back to Jo-Ann).

I feel really grateful that my family makes a big deal over my handknit gifts – even the girls. After reading so many accounts of rudely received knitted gifts on Ravelry and the Knittyboard, I breathed a big sigh of relief when the packages were opened and the girls were waving their sweaters and shouting, “Look! Aunt Jannie KNITTED this for me!!” Rachel put hers on immediately and wore it until the alpaca started to roast her like a mini Christmas turkey. Hannah modeled hers briefly and so did Dad. Annie the dog got to wear Hannah’s on her head for a Kodak moment, and I was basking in some knitterly glory.

Now I have a problem:  I miss knitting Dad’s sweater. It was so full of hope and ambition to be a great finished piece, and I really did my homework and did all the finishing right. When I didn’t like the way the picked-up stitches looked on the left button band, I ripped ’em back and did them again. I studied every tutorial I could find on sewing in the sleeves, and even basted them in with cotton thread before seaming. Even so, I sewed the first one in three times before I liked the way it looked. OK, it’s worth it.  All the things that used to scare the pants off me in finishing and sewing up, I managed to do and it turned out –  well. It turned out well.

I share these thoughts with you not to brag (well, maybe a little), but because I’ve learned a great deal by knitting this sweater. I learned that if I take my time, plan and prepare well, I can make something really nice. That may seem ridiculously simplistic to you, but to me, it’s a revelation. I always have delusions of grandeur when starting a project — “It will be the BEST lace shawl EVER! It will look just like the picture – or better! AND I will finish it in two weeks, washed, blocked, dried, and on my back!” But usually – especially if I’m knitting for myself – I let little mistakes go unfixed in my rush to finish and in my enjoyment of the process itself. I am notorious for making bad or stupid yarn substitutions and not admitting it till it’s waaaay too late to go back, even when I swatch first and have concerns about the swatch. (Full disclosure here, even though it’s rather mortifying to admit being so damn stubborn. But I am from Missouri, so I guess muleish-ness comes naturally.)

So my resolution in the new year is to remember these lessons. Take my time, do it right, and be proud of the result. It’s not rocket science, but I think it might take me over the moon…

Posted in On the Needles, Therapy | 1 Comment »

Winding Up 2007

Posted by Janis on January 2, 2008

diasnow.jpgThis was the scene at Denver International Airport on December 27, as we waited (and waited) for our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We were supposed to go through Chicago, but a wise and kind American Airlines associate named Rick (you know who you are and you’re fabulous) rerouted us through Dallas/Ft. Worth to get away from the snow. I hopped on Priceline, got us a great room at the DFW Hyatt Regency for $50, and voila! Lemonade — maybe even a lemon drop martini — it was sooooo nice to have a night to ourselves between the 2 family visits! Our luggage was somewhere else, but we were safe and warm, enjoying a great meal, cushy hotel room, and the front desk even hooked us up with complimentary toiletries so we could have clean teeth! If only I carried extra smalls in my knitting bag, we’d have wanted for nothing… When we did arrive in Ft. Lauderdale the next evening, we were rested, relaxed, and ready for another round of holiday cheer. Orestes is lobbying for building in a night like this every time we do the 2-family loop…

I did get a couple of things accomplished while waiting at DIA, namely winding a skein of Lorna’s Laces to cast on for Orestes’ pirate socks (again). Orestes said he had always wanted to be “one of those husbands who holds the yarn in old movies,” so I was in luck. Here we are: kikiwinder.jpg

When we finally got on the plane to DFW, I realized I needed the cream yarn wound, too, so I improvised this handy in-flight ball winder. (Orestes was sleeping.) It worked better than I had hoped and I was able to get through about half of the pirate pattern chart on the flight. I would be completely through the chart before I’d realize there was a problem, but that’s another story for another post. ballwinding.jpg

Posted in On the Needles, Travel | Leave a Comment »