Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cascade and Conservatives

Today I taught a knitting lesson. My super-cool hairstylist and I have been bartering: one haircut for two knitting lessons. We had our knit lesson last week, and moved on to purling today. It's fun to teach, especially in a barter context: I get to feel like I have a useful skill that somebody might actually want, which is not always the case when you're an academic. It's frustrating too, though, because it makes me remember exactly what it felt like to be learning to knit--like the most awkward toddler trying to use a fork. It just doesn't seem natural, until one day it suddenly does.

After the lesson I drove up to our new LYS, Bluebonnet Yarn Shop. I say local--not really. It took me about 40 minutes to get there, whereas our old LYS, Hill Country Weavers, is about 15 minutes away. But the trip was worth it. I like Hill Country Weavers and buy a lot of yarn there, but they are definitely skewed towards the luxury side of things. When I first started going there, there was some Lamb's Pride mixed in with the Rowan, but they've moved away from the basics. Bluebonnet, on the other hand, does have luxury stuff--I had to pry my hands off the Cherry Tree Hill--but it also has an entire WALL of Cascade 220. I wish I had had my camera with me to take a picture because it was beautiful, and just what I was after. I picked up this

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to make a buttonhole bag, and this

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to make...Pasha! I love him so much, but I am actually making him for a friend who is defending her dissertation next week--she is fond of a penguin. After the sweater, I wanted a smaller project for a little instant gratification, and I think both the bag and Pasha will take care of that.

Incidentally, I wound the Pasha balls while watching Hannity & Colmes on the wretched, wretched Fux "News" Network. Normally, I would never engage in such an activity, but my dad, a Catholic moral theologian, was asked to be on the show to comment on the Terri Schiavo case. Initally, they told him that he would be the only guest, but then they got Mel Gibson and Jesse Jackson to come on, so my dad only got a few minutes. In those minutes, however, he was a well-dressed voice of reason and dignity in the face of the trainwreck that is Sean Hannity. At least Alan Colmes had the courtesy to refer to my dad as "Dr." whereas Hannity kept calling him "Thomas" in the most scornful way possible, and when my dad said that Catholic moral theology permits the removal of the tube, Hannity accused him of personally wanting to kill Terri Schiavo. Man, Sean Hannity sucks.

An update: my dad has been receiving hate mail from the Christian right because of his appearance on H&C! A representative sample:

"What about the "spirit of charity" of some third rate Kennedy slave like you who condemn someone who is cognizant to death? I can't believe someone actually pays a guy like you who went to barber colleges (I went to Vanderbilt and Washington Univerisity in St. Louis) to sit on staff, even if it is a podunk place in Worchester. It's a good thing that the homosexuals have a good use for you; otherwise, you would have to earn a living like the rest of us. I am sure your wife can't wait to give you the power of life and death over her; you will show the same charity to her as Terri Schiavo; execution first, trial in a theoretical sense later."

My dad's response:
"My wife and children know not to prolong my life when the efforts to do so are disproportionate, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith says I may.

I am always appreciative of the spirit of charity of the pro-life adherents."

Wow, the restraint of that man--he is a better human being than I would have been in that situation. Meanwhile, my dad's a pawn of both Ted Kennedy and the gay mafia! I couldn't be prouder. I'd better go knit him something...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I proudly give you my Very First Sweater: Bella
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Pretty girl, no? There’s no shot of it being worn because it’s too big for me and hangs all funny when I put it on—a photo would not have done it justice. I’ll have to try to get my mom to send me a picture of her wearing it.

Here’s a closeup of the button, which I think is pretty:
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I got this button last year—someone sewed it onto the turtleneck of a store-bought sweater that they gave me for Christmas. I Goodwilled the sweater, but saved the button, and now I’m glad I did. It’s hard to see from the picture but there’s some green in the mother-of-pearl that goes perfectly with the yarn.

Speaking of, the yarn is the called-for Classic Elite Lush, a 50/50 angora-wool blend. I found it on Ebay, which is good, because I’m not sure I would have shelled out for it otherwise, and boy, am I glad I did. It is a yummy, yummy yarn.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I made some modifications to the pattern.

As designed, Bella had 3/4 length sleeves, which my mom does not like.

(Personally, at 6’1”, I am all about the 3/4 sleeve and the Capri pant, as I don’t have to worry about whether they’re too short. They are! But it’s on purpose! My mom, on the other hand (who’s 6’), just feels like bits of her are sticking out in ways they shouldn’t be.)

So I knew I was going to make a full length sleeve, but then I thought that the flowy open lace pattern on the original probably wouldn’t look so hot full-length. So I picked out the clover pattern from a stitch book, worked up a swatch, and then headed off to the Knitty sleeve tutorial and did me some math. And it worked out! I have to admit I was shocked. I also added an inch and a half to the body length, which I fear is something I am going to have to do for every sweater I ever make. Sigh.

So, what did I learn from this?

  • How to design a drop sleeve

  • How to knit a ruffle

  • How to work an easy lace pattern

  • How to redesign a pattern to meet my needs

I also learned not to be embarrassed about asking for help: when I realized I was going to have to redo the sleeve, I emailed the designer, Jillian Moreno, and she was totally generous with her time and interested in the project. I don’t imagine that every designer is so available and helpful, but it’s nice to know that there are real people behind these patterns, and that they want you to do a good job on them. Thanks, Jillian!

I also finished writing my chapter, by the way, but really, I am far prouder of the sweater.

Bailey is glad that I am finished with both. She’s been sulking for the past two days:
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Poor weiner.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Almost there...

A ruffled sleeve....
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A frilly lapel....
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Bella's almost done!
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She's being coy because there are still many, many ends left to weave in, and I won't have time for that for a few days. But I'm through the ruffles, which almost killed me. Suffice it to say that it took me nearly two hours just to bind off the ruffle around the neck. Granted, I'm not the fastest knitter, but I think even a speed demon would have taken some time on this one, since by the end there were over 900 stitches to bind off, if my math is right (start with 228, double it twice).

It also--and I should have figured this one out--took a full skein and a half to create the sleeve and neck ruffles, so now I'm really glad I bought a lot of extra yarn just in case (original pattern called for 9 skeins; I bought 14). I still have 2.5 skeins, which I think will be more than enough to make myself the coziest, softest hat ever.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

But of course!

Over at The Crafty Wench, I found a suggestion to move sleeve increases/decreases in one stitch from the selvedge on a RS row, and in two stitches on the WS, thus eliminating the lumpy sleeve seam problem I complained about. Ooof. This is one of those things that seems so glaringly obvious once somebody says it, yet it probably would have taken me two or three more sweaters to get there on my own. Thanks, Crafty Wench!

Friday, March 25, 2005


How could I forget? Please meet
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Miss Bailey Bean O'Sullivan. AKA The Bailer, Bay, Bailey-Whale, Bailarooney, Little Roo, Dingo, Dingaling, Little One, and Buttmunch.

Bailey's hobbies include

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hiding under the bed and

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trying to kick M off the couch.

Sadly, Bailey's hobbies also include eating DPNs, no matter how often I try to explain to her that they are not, in fact, sticks.

Seaming...not such a party.

Last night I started seaming Bella. I'm still waiting for sleeve #2 to finish blocking, so I thought I would get half the seaming out of the way and then have a smaller task staring me in the face later. Much later, please--I have to finish my chapter before I finish the sweater. It's just the way it is.

Anyway, I was very pleased, for the most part, with my side seams; they're neat, even, and, if you don't look too closely, nigh-on undetectable:
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I heart mattress stitch!

The underarm and shoulder seams are another matter, however. Turns out it is not as easy to seam along decrease edges; there are a few lumps, and not all of the angle joins are as neat as I'd like them to be:
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Somewhat lumpy.

Something to practice--I'm sure there's a resource out there that discusses this, but I don't have it (yet).

As for the shoulder seams, I am pleased as punch that they didn't pucker, because when I divided the bigger number by the smaller number to figure out how many side stitches to stitch per top stitch, I neglected to consider the fact that the top of the sleeve actually had more stitches than the shoulders--so picking up two or three bars from the shoulder wan't doing anyone any favors. Still, I think it came out ok, although a bit lumpy where the clover pattern was right at the top of the sleeve. I started in the middle and worked out to both ends, which I think helped keep things even.
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A note on that clover pattern: I saw over at the Lucky Clover Knitalong site that lots of people are throwing down their needles in despair over this one. I say to you: do not despair. I ripped back that first sleeve about 4 or 5 times, but I persevered, and by the time I got to the end of the second sleeve, I barely even had to count stitches to stay in pattern. It's a pain in the ass at first, but you'll get it. And to borrow the ever-practical Nona's line, if Ashley can do it, so can you.

And for the record, I'm not Lucky-Clovering. I thought I would, but then I remembered wrap sweaters are just not that flattering on me. I should make a list of things that aren't flattering on me, so that I wouldn't have to remember these things on my own.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh man...

Apparently, I'm starting a knit blog.

Why? It's not like the world needs another one. And it's not like I have a lot of spare time these days. But I wanted to have a place where I could keep a record of what I'm creating, what I'm learning, and what I've done, and I hope that I get to become part of the fun and supportive community of knitbloggers that I've observed over the past few months. I don't know a lot of knitters in real life, and I'd welcome the opportunity to share ideas, techniques, etc. with people who understand and care about this craft. But even if no one ends up reading this but me, I know I'll want to have the information that I plan to put in this blog as a record of my progress as a knitter.

A little about me, just in case: I'm a graduate student living in Austin, TX. My current projest is my biggest one: I'm trying to finish a dissertation on 19th century nationalist novels (by April 22nd, no less). This is important, because I have to start a job in the fall: I'll be moving to Michigan at the beginning of August. I'll miss Austin, but really, Austin is no place for a knitter-it's only cold here for, like, 2 days a year. When I found out I would be moving to Michigan, I bought A LOT of yarn. Yay sweaters!

I've been knitting since the summer of 2002; my mom and my aunt taught me between them. My first project was the obligatory scarf in an itchy gray worsted; since then I've branched out into, well, more scarves. And an afghan, 4 baby blankets, several hats, wrist warmers, felted handbags, pot holders and whatnot. I'm about to embark on a lot of sweaters, though (see below), and I'm looking forward to bigger, more adventurous projects.

Currently on the needles:

  • Bella, designed by the incredibly helpful Jillian Moreno, for my mom. This is all done, except for some blocking and ruffling; I made some modifications to the pattern, but I'll talk about those later.

  • Socks, in a self-patterning Lana Grossa yarn. I have one sock finished, and about 1 inch of the other one. Sadly, I decided that I didn't much care for the colors (pink, green, and baby-poo brown), but I'll persevere.

  • Fluffy Cuff mittens, from S'n'B. The mittens are in a yummy chocolate merino, and the fluffy cuffs are some anonymous cream-colored boucle that I bought from my LYS about 3 years ago. These are about 75% (i.e. 1 and a half mittens) complete

  • Slip stitch scarf in a gorgeous tweedy alpaca that I bought in Philadelphia between Job interviews this December. I've got about a foot done.

Projects in the wings:

  • Hourglass Sweater, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in a dark gray cashmere blend from elann

  • Lara Sweater, from Debbie Bliss's Alpaca Silk Book, in Alpaca Silk Color #12 (a yummy dark berry)

  • Honey, from Rowan's Ribbon Twist book, in a gorgeous vibrant orange bulky merino from Hand Pained Yarn

  • Salt Peanuts, from IK Fall 2004 (I think), in chocolate-colored Karabella Aurora 8 merino

  • Koigu socks, pattern to be determined

  • Amish Rug, from IK Spring 2005

Anyway, that's a start, I suppose. Welcome to the world, little knit blog.
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