Tuesday, September 29, 2009


For its own protection the yoke sweater, currently referred to as the-sweater-that-shall-not-be-named, has been moved into a secure facility where a frustrated knitter armed with scissors cannot get at it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Iron Knitter

BOB: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to tonight's episode of Iron Knitter, the new reality knitting show where we give our unsuspecting knitter a completely messed up pattern which she must fix without any help from the original designer.

Tonight's pattern, the notorious Yoke Pullover, has a cleverly concealed big floppy neck that, while perfect for a two-headed knitter, has driven most other knitters completely crazy. The designer was careful to NOT knit the yoke in the round to ensure that the unsuspecting knitter will not realize how floppy the neck is until she has actually finished knitting ALL the pieces AND sewing them together. A true masterpiece of sadistic design, wouldn't you agree Dave?

DAVE: Absolutely Bob. It's a rare occasion when we can find a pattern that can so cleverly hide its "gotcha" moment even in a photograph. See how the model's hair completely covers the floppiness of the neck? True brilliance. We're dealing with an artist tonight.

BOB: And what about Toni, tonight's contender? Is she really up the challenge?

DAVE: Well, Bob, she's been knitting for a very long time--since around the age of 7 or 8--so she's a plausible contender. We thought we had her at the Mystery Stole episode, but she recovered and pulled through, so we can't underestimate her. She managed to come through steeking stronger than we thought, but she is currently refusing all knowledge of a red shawl started on size zero needles, so she has some weak spots. It should be a good match tonight.

BOB: She's starting out with a conventional ripping out of seams, and it looks like we have frogging, but look at that! She's only ripping back a few inches and...yes! She's going circular!
DAVE: A bold move indeed, because as you remember, the designer used the straight needle & seam method. And it looks like......is she going to.....BOB: She has broken free of the pattern! Who could have seen this coming and so early in the competition? Well, now anything is possible. What a tremendous step!

DAVE: She has a couple options here--changing the pattern, going down in needle size, and look at this!She's dropped not one, but TWO needle sizes! Bob, I don't mind saying that I haven't seen knitting this bold since Florence Gibbons broke free of the shoulder pad designs and fluorescent yarns in 1986. Really this is a knitter to watch.

BOB: Uh oh, it looks like...yes, it is she's got a snarl! THAT's going to set her back. And she was really showing great speed.

DAVE: That's always a risk of frogging without rewinding. It was a big risk to take and it just didn't pan out. And Toni raises a new question--were the designer's parents actually married? That might be a good question to go into at the post-event recap.

BOB: Look at this! She's going to go on without unwinding the snarl! Unbelievable! This is a brave knitter, Dave. I think her recent success with steeks is giving her a little more confidence in taking chances.

DAVE: I think you're right, Bob. Facing those scissors is such a tremendous hurdle and once a knitter gets past it, it's hard to even scare her with Fair Isle.

BOB: You're right there, Dave. And it looks like Toni is going to attempt a little pattern alteration here....yep, there she goes--she's changing to a 5-stitch cable instead of a six-stitch. This is going to be tricky, and she may not be able to really pull it off...Yep, just as we feared, she has changed the cable pattern too much. The cable doesn't cross now, it just bends, and she's going to have to frog again. It sounds like Ms. Sutton has a suggestion for the designer, but I'm not sure it's actually something that's humanly possible.

DAVE: She's backed up a couple rows, changed the stitch pattern, and it looks like we're back on track, but we've still got some curling issuesBOB: It looks like the designer got her again with that curling issue. With some really clever blocking, the picture was able to hide the fact that there just isn't enough purling as part of the pattern to stop the neck from rolling. This designer certainly knows some of the best ways to mess up a knitter, and her clever use of starch to cover up the rolling was just a sign of sheer brilliance.

DAVE: I don't know about you, Bob, but I'm on the edge of my seat here and can't wait to see what happens next week. Will Toni find a way around the rolling, or is she going to throw in the towel and frog the whole thing? I really think it could go either way at this point.

BOB: It will be an exciting finish. Looks like Toni is headed for a little relaxation and maybe a little therapyand we'll be back next week with the exciting conclusion to....

Iron Knitter

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coming Up On This Week's "Finishing Friday...."

One knitter, driven to a WIP-finishing frenzy by a double dog dare,

One sweater with a neck only the designer could love,

Two cats who have resolved that knitting is at least better than canning......

Tune in tomorrow for the yoke sweater showdown.....

Reality Knitting. I think it could be BIG, and I'm not just talking about that darn yoke.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Everybody's "Fussy"

Between a barrage of rodent gifts yesterday--and by the way, I am the leading mouser here at Chateau Sutton-Goar--and making a roasted tomato-chipotle salsa today, I have only had little snatches of time for knitting here & there, which doesn't work for "fussy" projects such as redesigning a sweater. So, since it is now "fall" here--or at least in the mornings--I dug out the Kauni cardigan to work on. I love this sweater & it only got moved to the Project Timeout Bin because wool is just too warm to knit with during the summer, so we're still on good terms. I got a few rounds done and was closing in on the divide for the neck and ran into an issue with a splice. Normally, I get really irritated with splices in the middle of balls of yarn, but these balls are MASSIVE and I have almost completed the entire body with the original 2 balls of yarn. I was at a spot in the pattern where I could start the new color on a stripe, so I cut out a bit, backed up, andthe change is too abrupt. I need to wind another ball of yarn to get to the right starting place, and I really didn't want to be "fussing" with my 20 minutes of available knitting time today, so.....
There are a few perks to having 15 WIPS hanging around after all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good News & Bad News

The good news is, I am down to 15 WIPS. YAY!

The bad news is, it isn't because I finished the sweater I have been working on. By early last night, I had finished knitting all the piecesand again, I would wish to reiterate that I don't see why one would knit a yoked sweater in pieces, but I assume that designers know what they are talking about. I started diligently sewing all the dratted seams, when I thought I remembered someone mentioning on Ravelry a problem with the neck being too big.

Not "someone." EVERYONE.

Since the only thing worse than sewing sweater seams is ripping them out, I decided to pin mine to see what it would look like before sewing any more: Does that look big to you? How about this?
(I couldn't find my ruler). Hem gauges are 6 inches long, and they're overlapping by 2 inches. Just to make sure, I tried it on, and can now state absolutely that a 20-inch "mock turtleneck" looks dreadful, or at least on me. It's in the Vogue winter 2005/2006 magazine, so I flipped back to the picture to see if it showed a really big neck--either on the model, the sweater, or both. The model has her head sort of tilted, and her hair covers up the large expanse of neck--sweater, not her--so it's there if you know to look for it. So this isn't a mistake. This is what the designer intended.

Her name sounded vaguely familiar, so I did a search on Ravelry. Turns out, I have one of her books. I have tried exactly ONE pattern from it, and it was so flawed that I would have had to almost totally design the sweater from scratch to continue. I don't know what the other sweaters are like, but I don't think I'm going to find out. All the rest of her patterns might be indeed be flawless, but after 0 for 2, I can't give her the benefit of the doubt.

So, when I'm less frustrated, I will be ripping back part of the yoke, redesigning the neck, and finding a way for this sweater still to work. However, I've had a bit of a lousy week, and this is not the time to be looking for patience anywhere. One more irritation, and it was going to meet the food processor.

Last night was the closest I have come to breaking my cold sheep vow. Frustrated, tempted, and left without supervision, I was SOOOOO close to buying yarn! I ACTUALLY HAD TO SHRED THE PATTERNWORKS CATALOG. Which will be good for the compost bin, and kept me away from temptation. And you know, running the shredder is a bit therapeutic--all that grinding and snarling. It sounded about like I felt. And the glass of wine certainly didn't hurt.

I was still miffed that I wasn't going to finish a WIP this week, so I dug through my bag and pulled out thiswhich I dubbed the "French Poodle" as it's a mohair blend of some sort, but it's blended with mostly synthetic fibers, and looks like curly dog hair from a distance. I was using size 11 needles, so there was hope. Until I realized I would NEVER wear it. The yarn is too scratchy to be a pullover, and I had originally bought it for an openwork vest-sort of thing, which I think it would be much better suited for it. So.......I frogged it, and was officially down one WIP. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re-motivated after a good night's sleep and a morning chilly enough to allow me to wear my new January aran sweater for the first time (YAY!), today I pulled out the blanket for my nephew's birthday next month, decided I didn't like the new edging,ripped it back and tried a crocheted edgingdecided I didn't like it, ripped it backand decided I like it better without an edging. So, I have woven in the ends, will be washing it this afternoon, and have declared it FINISHED!!!!

So, not EXACTLY how I planned to decrease my WIPs this weekend, but I have to take what I can get. AND, I no longer feel the need to buy yarn! (Well, the OVERWHELMING need to buy yarn--let's not get crazy here......)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


They're killing me!

A week ago, the new Webs yarn catalog arrived. I stood firm! I marched it directly to the recycling bin.

Yesterday, the new Knit Picks yarn catalog arrived. I set it aside. I picked it up. I put it down. I sighed, picked it up again, and took it out to the recycling bin.

Today, the new Patternworks yarn catalog arrived. WAAAAAHHHHHH! They have tweed yarns ON THE COVER! It's fall--it's wool! It's tweedy wool!!! It would be best to put it in the recycling bin....especially since Andy is gone for the weekend and I am home alone with a yarn sale catalog and my credit cards......and is that free shipping I see.......???????

I'm weak!

Maybe if I take it up to the sewing room and look through it....it's easier to resist new yarn when surrounded by boxes and tubs of existing yarn. I'll just keep it out of the room with the credit cards......


Friday, September 18, 2009

Finishing Friday

Argggghhhh! I ALMOST have the sleeves done. Of course, I've been engaging too much in political debates today so my gauge is probably shot to hell. I don't care whether one supports health-care or not, but I will NOT support campaigns of hate NOR "debates" staged with bumper sticker slogans.

I apologize to anyone not interested in politics or not from America, but the hate groups screaming "socialism" are claiming they have a "majority" because they are yelling the loudest and I think it's time for those of us who want to have intelligent debates to stand up and be heard.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fall Yarns Are Coming.......

Heaven help me, this is the time of year Cold Sheeping gets really, really hard.

Fall yarns are arriving.

I love the colors of summer cotton yarns, but I can resist buying them because I keep reminding myself: I almost never wear the sweaters. I am sure there is an appropriate climate for cotton summer sweaters, but it isn't here. Our summers are WAY too hot for any sort of sweater--it could be made of floss and STILL be too hot. Not to mention obscene, but that's another story. I have a secret theory that walking around with the full weight of a cotton sweater on must be good exercise, but I can really only wear them for one or two months of the year and knitting is a LOT of work for a couple wearings a year. Oh--and don't even get me started on splicing a mercerized cotton. The very thought gives me all the willpower I need in the spring and summer.

But it's fall. Sort of. Okay, it's 91 degrees here but it is September and it might be fall soon, so it's wool weather. Tweedy wools, plain wools--it doesn't matter. These are the yarns I love. The REAL test of willpower is about to begin.....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So with my birthday & Soup Night this week, we hosted 2 parties in 2 days. I may have an abnormal energy level, but even I am wiped out at this point. BUT...
I did find buttons and the sweater is now washed and blocking. I'm pleased with how the buttons look. I found some I liked better, but one could only be dry cleaned and no dry cleaner is getting so much as a fingernail on one of my sweaters, and one could not be washed OR dry cleaned, which is sort of baffling. Even upholstery needs to be cleaned sometimes. Do you think there are people who would actually remove the buttons before washing something????? Some days I feel lucky just to GET things washed.

I was really hoping to dazzle you with a finished WIP #2, but sleeves always take longer than I think they will. I know they're really about half of an entire front or back, so making both at the same time is actually the biggest chunk of knitting in the whole sweater as they tend to be a bit longer and also tend to be fussier with increases, but I ALWAYS think they won't take as long. ALWAYS.

It's that eternal knitterly optimism that made me tackle lace on size 0 needles.....and live to regret it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Finishing Friday

And I actually finished something. YAY!!!!!!!
I need to find some buttons for it, and it needs to be washed and blocked, but the January Aran is done, steeks and all!!!

And to be honest, I don't think the steeks were any big time saver--not even counting the hours of whining and whimpering. When you cut knitting, you're left with fuzzies like this
which drive me crazy. So, I'm going over all the edges with a needle and thread and making the edges less "messy" which is really the same as sewing all the darn pieces together in the first place but without the psychological trauma. Still, it's a new technique and I'm glad I learned it, but I might reserve it only for fair aisle, or if I pick up a taste for self-torture.

I have my FIRST WIP DONE for the Double Dog Dare Challenge, which leaves me at with 17 WIPS. The challenge, as you may remember, is to get down into the single digits on WIPS. Some would, of course, ask why not try to get down to NO WIPS, but let's not get too crazy. A year without buying any yarn? THAT I can do. Work on only one knitting project at a time? Not even close!

And as for the sweater--I love it! Of course, it's 90 degrees right now (even at 8:30 at night), so I tried it on only for the briefest of moments, but I love it. I didn't like some of EZ's directions, so I made my own collar & button bands, but that's all in the spirit of EZ. Of course, she made hers in a month, but I try not to think about that part......

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Need a Drink

OK. There has been knitting. In fact, the second sleeve is almost done, and there was no way around it.

The steeks were coming.

I have been putting this off and putting this off. Seriously, what is more frightening to a knitter than CUTTING a sweater??? Maybe a colony of moths, but it would be a close thing.

The sleeves are almost done
and I could feel myself getting really nervous, and I was afraid I was going to shove this lovely sweater into the bottom of the project bin to get out of cutting steeks--which would be really unfortunate as I truly love this sweater. So, it was time.

This is a cardigan, so there will be steeks for the front as well as the armholes, so first I set my sewing machine's presser foot to the lowest possible pressure, said a prayer to the knitting gods, then basted right down the center of the guide stitch I'd added I thought my hands might be shaking so badly when I did the steeks that I would need a very obvious cutting target. And alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Then, setting my stitch length to the tiniest stitch possible, I stitched two seams on either side of the center stitch.

So far, so good. Now the moment of truth!
I AM CUTTING MY KNITTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! Someone bring me a paper bag!!!!

I have cut up a sweater!

I need to go lay down.....


Heaven help me, I'm sewing the cutting lines now....it's the scissors next!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Knitting Update

Yesterday: family reunion, no knitting

Today: cooking and canning 15 pints of tomato sauce, no knitting

Tomorrow: garden be damned, knitting

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Project A Month "Club"

I have enjoyed the "Project a Month" idea so much that I have decided to continue next year, so a couple weeks ago I packed up 12 sewing or knitting projects: I thought I would do it early so I would definitely not remember what was in them by January, but I've already lost track so that was easier than I thought.

I've also been bagging up "extra" projects in big bags:because my stash is big enough that in slightly more cases than I am willing to admit to, I have forgotten what I bought a particular yarn or fabric for. As you may remember, my goal next year is to FINISH 100 projects, so I thought it might help to have "ready to go" projects. Often when I want to start something new it takes so long to browse the stash that the urge to start something dissipates before I've decided on anything. Currently, this is a GOOD thing, but will be a problem next year. So, I just have to reach into the bag & go.

And as a side benefit, it turns out that I had ideas for some REALLY great projects, so I'm pretty excited about these bags. And I don't think that's just because I'm doing the Double Dog-Dare WIP marathon right now......


I have passed the 10,000 yards knitted mark!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The January aran almost has one full-length sleeve. Well, okay it almost has 2 full length sleeves, but only one is on the needles right now. I'll fix the other one later.

The steeks are sort of freaking me out, so last night I did a little hand-sewing reinforcement of where I'm going to cut for the front. I'll still sew it on the machine, but this is "just in case."

I may not be cut out for steeks....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Finishing Friday

So....do I get any credit on Finishing Friday for 8 quarts of pickles and 12 pints of tomatoes canned? I mean, they're "finished" and everything, and I planted the garden back in May, so that counts, right?

And on that very weak note, I'm going to go work on that sleeve. I'm pushing to have to do the steeks during canning season, because it's hard to be intimidated by anything after facing 20 pounds of tomatoes.....

New Lesson Learned

You know, you just can't do a good spit splice after eating a chocolate cookie

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Choices, Choices, Choices

One perk to having an entire tub of WIPs is the great variety. Yesterday I was helping a beginner knitter to do a knitted edging on a blanket, so it seemed like a good time to dig out the baby blanket
which is STILL on the first side, but at least I'm more than halfway along the side by now.

Today I have been taking a break from canning--which thrills Theo almost as much as it does me--and have been knitting. Remember the January Aran? Probably not, since it's September by now, but I had only one sleeve to go before the steeking which totally freaked me out and sent the project to the Project Time Out Bin. Apparently it's for projects that frighten me as well. Deciding finally that I AM an adult (sort of), I dug it out andhave a second sleeve well underway. I had the sense to keep the first sleeve in the bag with it as reference, but when I dug it out I discoveredit's about 2 inches too short. No idea what I was thinking, though as this was during the kitty rehab episode it's quite possible that severe sleep deprivation led me to read "18 inches" as "16 inches," so I have a bit more to do on that sleeve as well. But at least one sleeve is almost done.

Theo has been enjoying the knitting more than usualcurling up near me no matter what room I'm in as he really hates canning. I can't stop and pet him whenever he comes in and rubs against my legs, and there's just no good place for him to supervise in the kitchen. I don't think he's all that crazy about the smell of cooking vinegar or dehydrating jalapenos either, which I can't really fault him for. Tomorrow I'm doing some carrot salsa and more pickles, so maybe I'll set up a little card table for him in the dining room.

Spoiled??? Never!!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


You know, I don't know if I've ever said that in a good way, but today I pulled out the next "Project of the Month" bag to reveal:
I bought these on clearance at some point--they're rooms and furnishings for Barbie dolls. I have two young nieces who might be the right age for Barbie. I have a kitchen & a bedroom (there wasn't enough to get two of each), and theoretically they'll be pretty cute. They have curtains & furniture. I'm thinking they will either be a fun little project that doesn't take too long....which of course increases the odds that it will be anything but. But at least it wasn't another knitting project.

Day TWO of the double-dog dare has gone well. The baby sweater got some attention early this morning:and the sleeves got some this afternoon after an episode with zucchini marmalade left me pretty well wiped out by two o'clock. Still 18 WIPS, but there was a lot of PROGRESS on them. I even did 10 rows on the mind-numbingly boring edging on the baby blanket. I'm still on the first side, but thankfully it's a rectangle so this is one of the longest sides. I have worked out a system of making myself knit 10 rows before I can knit something more fun, so that will get me there. Or make me give up knitting. One of the two....