Monday, December 31, 2007

we are only occasional vegetarians

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Me-blogger-pal-Faith haz introduced me to the lolcats. Haz u seen dem?

That is my kid, I swear. (No, not really, but Joe would totally have done that when he was little if given the chance. He used to lick everything. He even licked a light post in the winter once--and we watch A Christmas Story every year, so it's not like he was surprised when his tongue stuck to the pole.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

happy, merry, joyous

Dear readers, I hope this season of the year is full of happiness for you. Our family celebrates Christmas and I got this little finger puppet nativity set last year. I found it at a wonderful little store that carries handcrafted fair-trade items from around the world. The store is Ten Thousand Villages and their website says they have 160 retail locations in the United States. They are definately worth seeking out.

It's been a fun day here at the Shoeless household. A highlight of the evening would have to be when Little Bitty (7-year-old) was taking her turn reading a verse from the Bible on the birth of Jesus Christ. She read, "And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of heavenly ghosts..."

Monday, December 17, 2007

lists help maintain the illusion of order

  • Camera: missing again and I'm peeved because I was almost ready to get her one for Christmas. (Did you hear that, Bob? Too late now!)
  • Christmas knitting: a little behind, but not too bad since I deleted 8 items off the list.
  • Other Christmas preparations: hahahahaha.
  • Herniation in the L4-5 discspace: doing much better.
  • PeeWee: wearing panties 'round the clock (YAY!!!!!!).

I really wanted to pad this post with a picture of the Brea bag that I'm making for my sister-in-law. It's waaaay cute. I think she'll like it. I'll probably have to make one for myself when the holidays are over, since I don't need to carry diapers in my purse anymore. Oh YEAH!

That is all.

Oh, all right--let's have the gratuitous shot of PeeWee. This is our farewell-to-nursing picture. Yes. She's done with that now, too. Sigh. My baby is such a big girl. I wish I'd had this handy camera when my other lovies were babies. There's so much about their infancies and early childhoods that has just faded into the void.

Friday, December 07, 2007

a tale of two mittens

PeeWee has a pair of little white mitts. They're a little thin, a little small, and they don't have thumbs. They're okay in a pinch, but the poor thing has a mother who knits, for crying out loud. (Yes, that's my Cheesehead version of Larissa's infamous and darling Meathead on her noggin. It's her favorite hat because it has a mousie, doncha know. We took her dollies for a walk on Tuesday.)

Yesterday, spurred on by the A.D.D Knitter's words ("...the power of the mitten. It will do you right every time.") I decided to whip out a pair of mittens from a bit of leftover handspun merino from Hello Yarn. Such ickle-bitty things! At 3-1/2 stitches per inch, I knew they would be done before I could say bobshrunkle. The first one was finished before lunch. PeeWee was delighted. She pulled it on and wore it the rest of the day. The thumb was a little wonky, but it looked pretty cute and I was very pleased with myself (handspun! handknit!).

After dinner, I settled in to knit the second mitten. PeeWee wouldn't give up the first one for comparison, but no worries! I had noted the stitch and row counts and I was ready to roll. I was also very excited about the idea of ripping back the ribbing on the matching hat I had knit from this handspun and turning it into a wee tam for my darlin'. I think you can all guess where this is heading. Yes. I'll just show you. Sigh.

I know my tension always tightens when I get comfortable with a pattern. I know it. Why do I blow off gauge like this? (Why do my children blow off their homework until it smacks them in the face? Where do they get that from? It must be their father, because I certainly don't live in a near-constant state of denial...)

I have enough yarn for a third mitten. If I start now, I could possibly get it done by lunch if I ditch the laundry. Hmmm. Yeah, because I might strain my back if I lift those heavy wet clothes out of the washer.

***Later in the day...***

PeeWee doesn't care in the slightest whether the mittens are rather homely rustic and mismatched. I reknit the bottom of the hat, and she danced around the living room with the mittens on, asking periodically, "You netting my hat? You made my mettens?" It's so gratifying. When I got the hat done, she put it on and then had to go out to play in the fizzly rain/snow that's coming down today. I don't think I'll bother with another mitten.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

warning: exclamation overload

My secret pal is completely AWESOME! Thank you, Valerie!!! (Her name is my name, too!) How fun is that? She sent me this great bag (which Boberly has already hijacked), a package of peach and passionfruit herb tea, a ball of variegated blue merino wool yarn (I've already got a project in mind for this), a hank of georgous blue Manos del Uruguay yarn, one of those fun compacted wash cloths that expand magically when wet, a beautiful red rose journal, a notepad with VIOLETS (LOVE 'EM!), a bar of fabulous chocolate, all accompanied by a very sweet note on the back of the postcard print of a painting by A.X. Pena. (This was originally published in 1937 as a tourism poster--I would love to have a full-size, maybe 24x30, copy of this painting. I love paintings of strong-looking women--Note my affection for Rosie the Riveter...) Thanks again, pal!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If you're happy and you know it...

Clapotis! (I'm probably the 57th knitter to start a post that way.) I joined the Clapotis Second-Wave KAL a few months ago and, thanks to my infirmity ("No, honey, I can't get you a roll of toilet paper. I have to lie here on the couch and knit rest my back.") I'm finally working on it. I like to knit on it in bed, falling asleep with it clutched to my bosom.

The yarn is the Mountain Colors yarn that I dyed at the beginning of October at a Mountain Colors dye workshop hosted by my LYS. I love the knitting and I love the feel of the wool, but I'm not sure that the color lives up to my expectations. I might over-dye it with blue after I'm done knitting.

I'm twisting the stitches (on either side of the dropped stitches) on both the knit and purl rows. I'm also just doing a purl stitch to mark the to-be-dropped stitches, instead of using markers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm about to have a great-nephew. This will be my 4th! I've even got two darlin' great-neices. Their parents, my nephews and neices, are such great parents and I'm so impressed with them. They are good and kind, just the sort of people I'd like my children to be when they grow up. This is one of my neices leading races in the sand this past July at nearby Bear Lake with her daughter, another niece, and my little PeeWee.

I have planned to knit adorable and amazing little gifts for each new little grand-nephew/neice, but this bib will be my first completed effort. Finally, I've finished something. It's a variation on the Mason-Dixon Knitting Baby Bib o' Love. I used less than one ball of brown Peaches n' Creme, knitted one strap instead of 2, and made a giant bobble in place of a button. I think I need to make a boatload (not to be confused with a buttload--even if I do live within a schoolbus-ride of Napoleon Dynamite's stomping grounds...) of these for this nephew and the other 2 impending arrivals.

I love brown. Back when I was developing what one might generously term my "fashion sense", I used to hate it. Was that just because it was the 80's and brown was out? I was all about the forest green and salmon pink. Yeah. I used to boldly declare that nothing should be dyed brown except silk, because flat brown is UGGGG-ly. Ha.


Right around Halloween I began to get nervous. (Let's insert a Halloween picture here, shall we? Yes, we shall. If this were your child, you'd be nervous, too. Just kidding, Bob! Love ya, babe.) I started mildly freaking out in the quiet recesses of my brain, worrying that maybe the reason I had a pinchy nerve that kept getting worse was because of a tumor. I went to my nice family doc and told him about my worries and he suggested an MRI. I thought that was a great idea. So I had an MRI two weeks ago and found that IT'S NOT A TUMOR! (said in my best Arnie-as-Kindergarten-Cop voice) Yay. It's just a herniated disk! Who'd have thought that would make me so happy?

I think the initial injury happened back in May when Eric was out of town and I decided to move a couch down to the basement by myself. Moving it down wasn't so bad, because I had gravity on my side. I think the problem was that I decided about 20 seconds later that I didn't want the couch in the basement after all, so I wrestled it back upstairs. I had just started doing that Couch-to-5K thing and I thought I was having sciatica from not stretching properly after exercising. And for the past 6 months, I've just been making it worse.

So now, I'm lying around or standing, avoiding sitting if at all possible, not driving, and (hardest of all) not picking up any children. Ever. Well, for a while, at least. PeeWee doesn't mind, she's 2 and she wants to do everything by herself anyway. I mind it more than she does.

You'll notice that I'm back at the computer--that's because I finally thought outside of the box and realized I can stand and type at the same time! Duh. Also, I'm feeling much better today and I must show off my latest obsession: entrelac! I ripped out the langishing 1-1/2 inches of ribbing on the Boberly Hat and made another entrelac hat. That entrelac, it's more fun than a bottle of Percocet.

The yarn is Noro Silk Garden, color #258, just over 2 balls. I cast on 64 stitches and started with 3/4" of 2x2 ribbing, did 8-stitch sections for the base triangles and 2 rows of rectangles. I then reduced to 6-stitch rectangles for 2 rows, then 4-stitch triangles at the top. The top was finished up with 2 rounds of k2tog, then I cinched up the last 8 stitches to close the top. Boberly has been wearing it which makes my heart very happy. I've been enjoying knitting backwards so much that I think it's time to make the plunge into my long-awaited Lizard Ridge Afghan. Yeah, remember that KAL I joined about 2 years ago? :) It's time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


At the beginning of this month, I took a dyeing class at a fiber retreat that my LYS hosted--Didn't I mention that in the last post? I tink so. I also took an entrelac class. Did I mention that part before? Did I yak about the fact that I now know how to knit backwards? Yeah. It's fun. I made a hat, see?

I'm kind of empty of words tonight. I've got a stoopid pinchy nerve in my hip and I'm currently dizzy/pukey from the stoopid pain medication that I tried out today. I'm squeezing in one last post for the month because if I don't I'll be in trouble with the Secret Pal peoples (4 posts per month, it's not too much to ask!). I don't think I'll do the next round of SP, but I don't want to be blacklisted, ya know? I feel myself pulling back from the blogging stuff, and I think it's mostly because of the aforementioned stoopid pinchy nerve. I'm not functioning terribly well in real life, let alone as a knitblogger. No worries, though. The pinchy nerve will not be around forever. But right now I just feel Stoopid. I like spelling it that way. We must find pleasure in the little things...

Saturday, October 13, 2007


My amazing secret pal has TOTALLY spoiled me. Look. Just look at this. LANTERN MOON!!!!

This is a beautiful needle organizer, a lovely needle sleeve (perfect for the pair of ebony Lantern Moon needles I got in the Jimmy Beans prize pack), a darling soap, adorable stitch markers, and a pretty note pad. Thank you Pal! After opening your package and recovering from the wonderful surprise, I upended my ratty needle tote bag and put all my needles in the roll. I love it--Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Indians and Red Sox have just gone into extra innings. What a game. I love baseball. It's the perfect complement for knitting. I thought of calling this hat the Swirly Hat (yes, I'm not terribly imaginative--it's the same swirly pattern as PeeWee's Swirly pullover), but I think it might get called the ALCS hat. Cleveland and Boston have the same colors, have you noticed? And they both match the hat. It's knit from my handspun, a bulky 2-ply spun from 4 ounces of Hello Yarn handpainted merino top called "Darling".

PeeWee is wearing panties now. She does really well with tinkling, but we've been having problems with the solid matter. She likes to go hide in a sheltered location and work her magic, emerging with a surprise in her pants. Sigh. I can't be too upset. There was a time that we thought the nerves controlling bladder and bowel function had been messed up by the neuroblastoma tumor. I'm just so glad that she can poop when she wants to--it doesn't seem to matter very much whether it's in my closet or the toilet. She's cuddling and watching baseball with Eric right now, poking her fingers in his ears and up his nose.

Monday, October 08, 2007

lost (top) and found (skillz)

I can't find my superwash merino top. (Sisties, top is fiber that has been combed to prepare it for spinning.) It was my favorite of all the hunks o' fiber that we dyed at Yarn School. I'm almost certain that I remember squeezing it into my suitcase. What if it popped out and fell on the floor at the Howard Johnson's in Kansas City when I had to stay over Sunday night? I'm desolate. Wellllll, not really. Disappointed, though.

I'm consoled by this yarn. I dyed it this weekend under the direction of two Mad Dye Scientists and who happen to be the owners of Mountain Colors Yarns, Diana McKay and Leslie Taylor. !!! This is half of the 1 pound of Mountain Colors 4/8's wool that I dyed in these colors--around 1000 wonderful yards. You know, it kind of reminds me of another yarn I adore... (If you follow that yarn link, scroll down to the bottom. I'm talking about the STR, not the Anabel Fox, because though my feelings for the Anabel Fox Donegal are deep, they are of a different, tweedy variety of yarn-love. End of aside.) Maybe I should call this yarn Chicken Hawk instead of Rough-Legged Hawk.

Yarn Today, a yarn shop here in my little valley, hosted a fiber retreat on Friday and Saturday. I was able to take the Mountain Colors dye workshop on Friday and a class on Saturday on entrelac knitting. Two of my fondest knitting desires have been realized: 1) I've learned how to knit backwards, and 2)I had the creators of the most beautiful hand-painted yarn of all time (Mountain Colors Red-Tail Hawk--What can I say, I like the hawks...) coach me on how to find color palettes I love and then replicate them in fiber. I'm feeling completely spoiled--first Yarn School and now this!

Leslie and Diana had a quick and brilliant way to get us to dive right in with the colors: They handed out magazines and asked us to pick out a picture that spoke to us and use it as our inspiration for dying. First we did a test skein of their Weaver's Wool, decided what worked and what did not, then dyed the two giant skeins of 4/8's. I don't really like my test skein. It reminds me a little too much of some variegated Red Heart yarn that I crocheted with when I was about 11. Maybe I'd like it better knit up, maybe not. I'm very glad that Diana and Leslie had us do the practice run, because I would have been peeved to end up with 1000 yards of early-80's Red Heart look-alike yarn. Anyway, I decided that I needed to concentrate on the reds and golds and leave all blue out of the equation. I also lightened concentration of the the darker dyes (the browns and purples) and used more of the gold.

What shall I do with it? Clapotis, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

yarn school aftermath

My living room looks like a sheep exploded (well, just the fleece). I got back from Yarn School Monday night. Today is Wednesday and I still haven't managed to put much away. Yes, I said Monday night. I was supposed to get home Sunday night but I got stuck in Kansas City. Until United Airlines does a serious overhaul of their customer service policies, I would advise anyone reading this to avoid United whenever possible. I understand that delays and breakdowns happen, but there's no excuse for the rudeness with which I and the passengers around me were treated. Harrumph. Now, back to something more pleasant...

What happened there in beautiful downtown Harveyville, Kansas, you ask? We dyed, we spun, we knit, and we talked--a lot. It was wonderful. I was able to obsessively pursue whatever wooly endeavor my little heart pleased. The only down side was that I missed my chicklets so much my heart ached. I missed Eric, too--but I wasn't worried about him developing any abandonment issues. I know, 4 days isn't going to scar my kids for life, but still. When I told Eric how badly I missed the kids, he said that I just need to go places by myself more often. The idea is starting to grow on me. :)

I was trying to organize things for the family so they wouldn't suffer too greatly in my absence [said with a completly straight face] right up until the moment I ran out the door Thursday morning. Consequently, I forgot a few items--like my yarn and fiber for the swap, an extra bag for the fiber I would get at Yarn School, and MY CAMERA! We shall just have to be content with a few after-the-fact pictures, and here they are:

I dyed...

I spun...

Okay, there's only one picture here, but I really did spend a lot of time spinning. I had this Spunky Club fiber started on my wheel and I was determined to finish it off rather than flit around doing 10 yards here and there of other stuff. One of the reasons I really wanted to go to Yarn School was the chance to devote myself to a singular goal with out distraction. After I finished this 4 ounces of Shetland wool, I did mess around with some Navajo plying and making novelty yarn, but I didn't produce much of anything. It was fun, though. :D

And I knit...

I met some marvelous people. I learned some very interesting things. And that fiber up there isn't even the half of what I came home with. I had to mail the rest home to myself because I didn't have room in my bags. Ah, PeeWee awakens from her nap. Good timing. I was about to start blathering on about United Airlines again.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately. I credit it to my experiment with "professional" knitwear designing (read: doing the blasted magazine sweater, also known as the BMS, not to be confused with, although not unlike PMS). I've come to the conclusion that using my precious and limited crafting time to produce something under a strict deadline serves only to suck the joy out of knitting for me. I don't think I'll do it again. I have momentary fits of ambition, but they soon pass and I find myself to be, yet again, a sluggard.

I mentioned in my last post that I had started a sweater for PeeWee--Well, knitting this little item was just the thing to speed my recovery from the BMS. I give you The Swirly Sweater.

I don't know if you can see the swirly yoke terribly well, but trust me, it's there.

I loved knitting this seamless yoke sweater. It was a nice, quick knit and I'm revved up and ready to knit versions for my entire family. I think it would be particularly nice in handspun for my sweetie. Right now, I'm trying desperately (What was that I said about deadlines? Heh.) to knit one for myself before Yarn School which is in 11 days. Denial: it ain't just a river in Egypt...

Some details about The Swirly...

  • Yarn: Marble by James C. Brett in the color "Berries". It has a lovely marled subtle stripe, as you can see. It is 100% acrylic (gasp), but stay with me here--I'm teetering on the brink of Laundry Chaos as it is. If I were to start knitting anything besides machine washable items for my kids, I would probably plummet into the abyss.
  • Pattern: Seamless yoke sweater template from The Knitter's Handy book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd.
  • Modifications/Customizations: There are 6 rows of garter stitch on the hem and cuffs, then random purl rows in the mostly-stockinette body and sleeves (actually, the sleeves only have a few purl rows near the cuff). At the yoke, after 1 purl row, there are randomly spaced 2-stitch purl columns that shift over one stitch on every row, creating the swirls. As I neared the neck, some of the columns petered out and some reduced down to 1 stitch. If I were doing it again (oh wait, I am!) I would will regularly and more widely space the swirly columns and see if that results in a pattern that is easier to discern.

    The off-center one-button placket was necessary to accomodate PeeWee's gigantic melon. It was meant to be centered, but I counted the stitches wrong and it ended up where it is. Yes. It's a design feature. :}

I have more to say, but it will keep for the next post. Aw, I can't help myself; here's a preview: I went to the Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair with Kim this weekend--Wohoo! And my local newspaper got a press release from Jimmy Beans and decided that they'd better do a "local girl makes good" story on me and my knitting. [snicker] It was in today's--Sunday's--paper. I look like a complete dork who needs a makeover, more supportive undergarments, and better posture, but at least the yarn is beautiful...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I have a secret pal!

Look! This time I have a secret pal who sends stuff! Yay! (My last secret pal forgot that little detail.) Thank you, Pal! I'm tickled that you sent me "shoes". The yarn is luscious and lovely. And a knitting and beading book! I love it! Thank you, again!

I've been knitting a sweater for PeeWee. It's a bottom-up, knit-in-the-round, circular yoke pullover. When she sees me working on it, she says to me, "You netting my setter? Oh, tank you!" Then she insists that she MUST try it on. I should probably quit knitting the sweater right now and just hand over the sleeves. They make great leg-warmers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hey Presto! (modifications)

I've had a some questions about the modifications I made on the 24-month size of Presto Chango, which I'll call the Lightning Bolt Version (LBV). Sara, since I'm not sure that the email address I have for you is correct--and Karen, since you asked, here are the specifics.

About 2 weeks ago, I sent some pattern edits to Jimmy Beans Wool. Laura (Jimmy) was so reassuring and kind (because I was feeling like a complete idiot) in her reply and told me that she had forwarded those changes to her webmaster. The edits were posted today, August 17, and they correct the neck and sleeve on the larger sizes to more reasonable dimensions. The neck has been brought in on the 12- and 24- month sizes; the straight-across sleeve width has been decreased on the 24-month size. So what am I trying to say here? The Jimmy Beans pattern is now good to go. If, however, you are like me and are rarely content to knit a pattern as written, read on.

What necessitated the changes, you ask? I was very concerned that you lovely trusting knitters who want to make the 24-month size might have the same disappointment I had upon seeing the very-wide neck. Commenter Karen also pointed out the huge cuffs on the unmodified 24-month size. If you're after the full-on kimono look for the sweater, the big cuffs would be good, but I think they were a little too big--so they got changed.

After considering how to explain the LBV mods, I thought you might want to see exactly what got changed in the original version, as well. So, along with the sleeve and shoulder shaping and lightning bolt panel pattern that I post today, I will include those changes that I sent along to Jimmy Beans. I refer to the Jimmy Beans site throughout these pattern changes and I got the okay from Jimmy Beans to post this, so here we go.

P.S. If you are knitting for a chunky baby and want to have the original wider sleeve width at the top where it meets the body of the sweater, I would highly recommend shaping the sleeve so that it is not huge at the wrist; that's what I did on the LBV. The numbers for that mod are included below {in these kind of brackets}.

Changes are in red.

  • CO 36 (39, 45) sts.

  • Rows 1-5: Work seed stitch, creating bottom band of back.

  • Row 6: P across, increasing 5 (6, 6) sts evenly across the row; 41 (45, 51) sts.

  • Row 7: K across.

  • Continue in st st until back measures 6 (7, 9 {8 for LBV shaped sleeves}) inches from cast on edge.

Add Sleeves

  • Cast on 24 (28, 32) stitches at beginning of next 2 rows; 89 (101, 115) sts.

  • Work k1, p1, k1 on first 3 sts, stockinette across row and k1, p1, k1 on last 3 sts of each row until back measures 9 (11, 13) inches from cast on edge.

  • Begin seed stitch band for neck edge as follows: K1, p1, k1 (cuff), st st 29 (35, 42) sts, seed stitch on next 25 (25 for all sizes) sts (neck border), st st 29 (35, 42), k1, p1, k1 (cuff).

  • Repeat this row 4 more times.

Neck opening

  • Next row: K1, p1, k1, st st 29 (35, 42); seed stitch 4 at neck edge, Cast off 17 (17 for all sizes), seed st 4, st st 29 (35, 42). k1, p1, k1.

  • Sweater will now be worked back and forth to form one side of front.

  • Continue in st st, maintaining 4 seed stitch border at neck edge and 3 seed stitch border at cuff. Work until sleeve measures 8 (10, 10 {11 for LBV}) inches, ending at cuff edge. Piece measures 14 (17, 19) inches from cast on edge.

Side fronts

  • Cast off 24 (28, 32) stitches to end sleeve; 12 (14, 17) sts remain.

  • Work remaining stitches for side front in st st, maintaining 4 seed st border along inner edge.

  • When work measures 6 (7, 9 {8 for LBV} ) inches from sleeve cast off edge, work seed st across row, decreasing 1 (1, 2) stitch(es) by k2tog.

  • Work seed st 4 more rows.

  • Cast off remaining stitches.

  • Join yarn to neck edge for other side front.

  • Work back and forth in st st maintaining 4 seed st border at inner edge and 3 seed st border at cuff.

  • When second sleeve measures same as first, cast off 24 (28, 32) stitches to end sleeve.

  • Work remaining sts as mirror image of other side front.

Front panel with cascading leaves

  • Directions for all 3 sizes are changed to the same stitch counts as the smallest size--please see the pattern on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. Buttonhole spacing and panel length are unchanged.

  • As the panel is knit, make a buttonhole in each side at an interval of 2 (2 1/2, 2 1/4) inches, approximately every 12 (15, 14) rows. The top buttonholes should be 1/2 inch from the top.

  • Repeat the 8 pattern rows until panel is 6 (7 1/2, 9) inches from cast on edge.

  • End with 5 rows of seed stitch (remember the top two buttonholes) then cast off.

  • Panel measures 7 (8 1/2, 9) inches from cast on edge.


  • Sew up seams on sides and under arms. Sew on buttons, using buttonholes on panel to mark placement for buttons.

Lightning Bolt Version sleeve shaping

  • Follow directions for casting on and working body as above.

  • After adding sleeves, work 4 rows. On next row, knit to 4 sts from left edge. Bring yarn to front work, slip st from left needle to right, take yarn to back of work and slip st from right needle back to left needle; turn work. (If you haven't done short rows before, this is called "wrap and turn", often abbreviated as "w&t".) Purl back to within 4 sts of edge, w&t. *Knit to 6 sts before previous turning point on this sleeve, w&t. Purl to 6 sts before previous turning point on this sleeve, w&t. Repeat from * 2 more times (4 turning points on each sleeve).

  • Now this is the nifty part: Knit all the way to the cuff. As you reach a wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap together with the stitch it encircles. Knit the two strands together, making sure to lay the stitch yarn over the top of the wrap yarn and so that the wrap yarn disappears behind the stitch.

  • Continue to knit the sweater, following directions for making the neck opening.

  • After about 2 1/2 inches of sleeve after casting off for the neck opening, start the short rows again: work to 22 sts from the cuff edge, w&t the next st. *Work back to neck edge, turn and then work back to 6 sts past last turning point, w&t. Repeat from * 2 more times (4 turning points). Return to neck edge, then work all the way to the cuff edge, again knitting the wraps together with the sts they encircle. Finish knitting sleeve as directed in original pattern, taking measurement of the sleeve only at the point where it meets the body. Finish sweater front as specified in the pattern on the Jimmy Beans site.

  • Join yarn to neck edge for other sleeve and follow shaping directions as for first sleeve. Finish front same as other side.

Lightning Bolt Version shoulder shaping

  • This is going to take some time to put into words. I fully intend to edit this post to include this info after I'm done knitting the blasted magazine sweater. If, however, I don't get back to it, I followed the shoulder shaping instructions for the Bog Jacket found in Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I did four increases every other row as I approached the top of the shoulder, then 4 decreases every other row as I came down the front of the shoulder.

Lightning Bolt Version front panel

(This panel was designed for the 24-month size before the neck opening width was changed to be narrower. It would still work for the revised 24-month size, but it would bow out a little, as it is wider than the opening. That might be a good thing, considering little tummies bow out, too.)

  • Cast on 27 sts. Work 6 rows in seed sts, just as for original panel pattern, placing buttonholes as directed. Work one plain row of knitting between seed st borders, increasing 4 sts evenly across row (31 sts).

  • Keeping 4 sts on each edge in seed st, work zig-zag pattern across the middle 23 sts.

Zig-zag pattern:

  1. K3, k2tog, k3, [yo, k2tog] twice, yo, k11.

  2. Purl.

  3. K2, k2tog, k3, yo, k1, yo, [ssk, yo] twice, k3, ssk, k6.

  4. Purl.

  5. K1, k2tog, [k3, yo] twice, [ssk, yo] twice, k3, ssk, k5.

  6. Purl.

  7. K2tog, k3, yo, k5, yo, [ssk, yo] twice, k3, ssk, k4.

  8. Purl.

  9. K 11, yo, [ssk, yo] twice, k3, ssk, k3.

  10. Purl.

  11. K6, k2tog, k3, [yo, k2tog] twice, yo, k1, yo, k3, ssk, k2.

  12. Purl.

  13. K5, k2tog, k3, [yo, k2tog] twice, [yo, k3] twice, ssk, k1.

  14. Purl.

  15. k4, k2tog, k3, [yo, k2tog] twice, yo, k5, yo, k3, ssk.

  16. Purl.

  • Continue to place button holes as specified in original pattern. Repeat 16 rows of zig-zag pattern until 1" from desired length. Finish with 6 rows of seed st, evenly spacing 4 decreases across in first row of seed st.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

no knitting, just Cousin It's dog

What do you get when two bored boys find a wig?

SP11 Q/A

My camera is missing again. Grrr. So we have a picture-less post--No cute pictures of PeeWee, no annoyingly teasing pictures of the blasted magazine sweater, no bizarro pictures of a dog wearing a wig... Please pay no attention to the time stamp on this post. It's not really 2 AM, I'm not really up in the middle of the night waiting for a wash load to finish spinning so that I can put it in the dryer and go back to bed, and laundry is not really ruling my life. Denial is my friend.

I'm in Secret Pal 11 (Wohoo!) and I've been instructed to get this little Q&A session posted tout de suite. Alors, c'est voici. (I think those last two words were redundant, but I don't remember my college French well enough to be sure. Quel dommage.)

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Favorites: springy natural fibers. (That's code for wool, right?) Non-favorites: furry yarns, although I do have a soft spot in my heart for pink fuzzy and/or eyelash yarn because my girls love it so.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? They're currently squashed into an old canvas tote bag.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I've been knitting for about 9 years. My dear, darling friend Wendi answered her door one day wearing a sweater she had knit and my jaw dropped when she said she had made it. That afternoon, she placed two mis-matched aluminum Boye needles and a ball of forest-green acrylic yarn in my hands and taught me how to knit. It was one of the best days of my life and I have been unable to adequately repay her, lo these many years. I would consider myself to be on the advanced side of intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? Grapefruity-limey-citrusy type scents.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Ah, yes. Unfortunately, I love pretty much every candy there is. I especially enjoy crystalized ginger, lemony candies, and dark chocolate.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I like to sew and bead. I enjoy the thought of gardening, though you wouldn't know it to look at my yard. I learned to spin this past winter and it's probably my favorite thing in the whole entire world.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I like almost any music that has interesting and creative instrumental qualities, but my current favorites are bluegrass and Scottish music. I recently downloaded Lost and Gone Forever from Guster and I think they're pretty nifty. Bongos on every song? Oh yeah. MP3s: yes.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I love colors on the purple-blue-green side of the wheel. And I love reds--from russet, to aubergine. Ooooo, go look at this picture. Gorgeous! It makes me want to dye some wool.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I'm married with children--5 little cheeky monkeys. I have a sweet elderly lab/border-collie named Dottie. She's a love. Want to see a picture?

There. Picture-less no longer.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Not so much with the ponchos; yes to the others.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I like to knit baby sweaters because they make me feel like I'm making a major item, but they go so fast since they're little. And tiny things are just cute. I like socks for the same reason.

13. What are you knitting right now? I'm working on a sample for a pattern that will be in the May '08 issue of Creative Knitting. It's my first magazine pattern and the deadline is making my fingernails sweat. I don't know that I'll do this again. I'm experiencing barely-controllable urges to knit anything, anything else besides the sweater.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes! That's the best kind of gift.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I like my on-the-go projects on circulars, but straights were my first love.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes, both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? Hmmm. That would have to be the Lion Brand Homespun sweater for my 12-year-old son that was started when he was 5. I need to let it go already!

18. What is your favorite holiday? Easter--besides the holiday part, you can always find cute lambs and the PAAS egg dye is really cheap on the day after Easter. :)

19. Is there anything that you collect? I'm assuming that this question is not referring to my library overdue fines... I used to think I collected pottery, but most of it has been broken in the past few years. I have two matryoshka dolls and I hope someday to have more. I like ladybugs, does that help?

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? At the top of my book list is Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I've been wanting to knit with some angora. I'd like some wood DPNs in the mid-range of sizes (between 4 and 7). I want to get the pattern for this Blue Sky Alpacas Crochet Trim Hoodie. I subcribe to Interweave Knits, Spin-Off, and Vogue Knitting.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I like to bead. I like to knit. Interestingly (at least to me) I haven't knit with beads and I'd like to try it.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes, but I'm a newbie. I'm on only my second pair of socks. I knit them in the car, but with school out for the summer, I haven't had a lot of car-knitting time. I wear a size 8 shoe and I have average width feet.

23. When is your birthday? April 3.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID? Yep, I'm 'shoeless'.

C'est fini.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Let's start out with a cute picture, shall we? Here's our Pretty Princess PeeWee, applying her lip gloss. She calls it her "diptick".

Many thanks for telling me about your favorite pies! I wrote the entrants' names on cards, shuffled them, assigned each card a number, then let the random number generator do it's magic. (And this time, I only asked for one number. It's definately better that way. I'll play around with the numbers on my own time.) Tina wins the Whoops-I-Picked-a-Prize-Winner-a-Day-Early-So-Let's-Have-Another-Drawing prize. So our two winners are Nell and Tina. I'll send out Nell's froggy and yarn on Monday. But Tina gets her yarn hand-delivered, because it turns out that we live in the same town! How about that? When she sent me her entry email I followed it back to her family website and was surprised to recognize her son as a classmate of my 9-year-old son. I need to get out more. I go to a bi-weekly spinning night, but I don't get out and meet with any knitting groups--and I think that needs to change.

Eric is gone to a show. He took our two older daughters (13 year-old Bob and 6-year-old LB) with him. It's very calm and quiet in the house. I like it. To be sure, I dearly love and miss my absent family members, but I'm really enjoying the near complete absence of sibling rivalry. Eric called today and said that even sleep didn't stop the two girls from bickering last night.

I've been working on that magazine sweater. Want to see the swatch? I think that would be legal, don't you? I have figured that if I could manage to knit 40 stitches per minute (that would be SPM) in the reverse stockinette sections and 20 SPM in the charted areas, I could knit it in 22 hours. I have 19 to go. I finally got the right yarn about a week and a half ago, swatched and started writing out the pattern. Yesterday I actually began knitting the thing. It has made my hair go grayer. I figure there's a learning curve to this process of submitting, writing, and knitting a pattern for a magazine and I'm at that first really steep part. I'm not quite sure if I want to keep climbing. Maybe I'll just go back down the trail and sit on a rock.

In order to restore my equilibrium and relieve the tension caused by worrying about my SPM, I spent yesterday afternoon focusing on RPM. Me loves spinning. I finished up this Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club wool, 4 ounces of Blue-Faced Leicester called "Tulip".

It went fast, 'cause I spun (spinned?) it bulky. I got 145 yards out of it, and I think I'll make a hat. Speaking of hats...

I cast on for this hat after finishing the Tulip spinning. It's Kuryon, number 215. My LYS got some new Kuryon colors in last week, so I went in to get a couple balls for my Lizard Ridge afghan, and ended up getting maybe a few extra of this color. It was calling to me, "Valerie, hold me, love me, knit me!" It might just get turned upside down and become a collar for a sweater. And I could carry the cables down the sleeves. Yeah.

You don't think I'm stalling on the magazine sweater, do you? Nah.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

power to change

***Whoops! I just realized that I jumped the gun and picked the winner a day early. If anyone missed entering for the froggy and sock yarn and still would like to send me an email, I'll give away more yarn tomorrow on the proper deadline. If no one else enters, I think I'll pick another prize winner anyway. It's fun. :D

I really like the Random Number Generator. The last time I picked a prize winner, I discovered that I have to do the same thing that I do with stoplights. When I'm driving along and approaching a stoplight, I have to say out loud, "I'm going, I'm going, okay NOW I'm going!" And up until the moment I say NOW, I will stop if it turns yellow; after that point, I have passed the point of no return. What's the official term for it? You know, the words they use for when you've gone past the point where you have enough fuel to fly back where you came from... ?? The Point of No Return? (Would that be the PNR in military jargon? I have a brother in the Air Force, for crying out loud; I should know these things!)

Anyway, I could sit (and have sat) for an embarassingly long time, hitting the "Again!" button and asking for new numbers to be generated, just for the fun of seeing what will pop up. So when I selected the prize winners last time, I had to say, "I'm picking, I'm picking, okay NOW I'm picking!" Please don't let this distress you as to whether the choice is truly random. We are assured by the Random Number Generator website that each number is truely random--like atmospheric noise, they say--and not just produced from a mathematical formula. (Speaking of randomness, and to confuse you, I have a random picture of yarn to spice up the story. This is Hello Yarn Fiber Club's May selection, 5 ounces of Blue-Faced Leicester wool, called "Cricket". I got 297 yards of worsted weight 2-ply yarn out of it. I think it's the most beautiful, gentle, sublime mix of colors I have ever seen in wool. It's softly spun and very fluffy. I can't wait to knit it.)

Tonight, to choose the winner of the froggy and sock yarn, I said, "I'm picking, I'm picking, okay N--aaaarh!" Because the power went out just as I was going to get the final number. Grrrr. It's just as well. Now I can go into it fresh and just say that the first number is the one (won!). I can play around with more numbers later... (Another random picture of yarn: Boberly is knitting a hat out of one of the new colors of Noro Silk Garden. I'm not sure of the color number, but there's some very bright pink in there! Doesn't it make a pretty flower? She saw this yarn at the LYS on Saturday and asked if I'd teach her to knit a hat. She's only done flat knitting up until now. I think she's quite impressed with herself, and she's smitten with the Silk Garden. I know I am.)

Back to the Random Number Generator (that would be the RNG): The winner is...Number 2!!!! (Hang on, I've got to go look at the emails and see who that is.) It's Nell of Chicken Knits! Yay Nell!

Little Lovey PeeWee (that's LLPW) has started sleeping through the night! (Hallelujah!) Not every night, but about every other night. The other nights she has been waking up at odd intervals and shouting things like "I NEED IT!" She's a funny little bird. She finally let me take pictures of her in the Presto.

I have to admit that I'm very disappointed in how the neck fits her. She has skinny little shoulders, but I think that the pattern needs a serious edit to bring the neck opening in closer on the 24-month size. If anyone reading this happens to be knitting the bigger size, I'm going to contact Jimmy Beans and see if they wouldn't mind letting me tweak the numbers to fix it. If you've already knit it, you have my sincerest apology. I didn't realize until I actually knit the 24-month size that increasing the neck opening at the same rate as the body width would come out this way. The 6-month size will be unchanged; I think it's fine as is. The 12-month and the 24-month size neck openings will be changed to be the same measurement as the 6-month. (They will all have 17 stitches cast off for the neck opening.) The front panel will be the same width for all three sizes, just increasing in length as needed for each size. (This was Jean's brilliant suggestion when I presented her with the problem.) I'm sorry I'm such an amateur. Tsk. I'll do better next time!

Can you hear her? Can you hear LLPW singing her favorite song? It's by Laurie Berkner: Boots, boots, B-O-O-T-S!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


My cutie 6-year-old has let me know that spelling a word c-h-a-n-g-o means that it should be pronounced "chan-go" (rhymes with fandango). Hmmm. Anyhoo, here it are!

I finally finished the 24-month-size. PeeWee won't let me put it on her for a glamour shot. It's just as well--I don't have the buttons sewn on yet. I posed the sweater with these daisy buttons but I only have 8 of them. I'll probably get some more of these green shell buttons

  • Pattern: Presto Chango by yours truly; size 24 months.
  • Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton #81 Nut, just barely more than 2 balls.
  • Modifications: I widened the cuffs from 3 to 5 seed stitches. I wish I had only done 4; 5 is a little too wide. I specified 3 stitches in the pattern because I thought it would be easier for people to remember to knit-purl-knit on the end of every row rather than worry about whether it should be kpk or pkp. I think I needn't have worried. After all, I didn't let that stop me from using 4 stitches along the front.

    I shaped the shoulders by increasing 4 times every other row on the uphill side of the shoulders and decreasing equally on the downhill side. I got the idea for the shoulder shaping from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Bog Jacket.

    The sleeves are shaped with short rows, 4 turns before the center line of the sleeve and 4 turns after. I was worried that I'd have a hard time matching the second half of the sleeve shaping to the first half (since I hadn't written anything down) but I just peered at the wrong side of the knitting and tried to do my turns in approximately the same places. I picked up the wraps and knit them in behind the stitches, but they did leave little lumps. They'll probably smooth out when I block it.

    I also knit a different pattern on the front panel. I knitted the front panel while listening to Harry Potter 7 read aloud by my dear friend Wendi. She and her husband hosted a weekend Read-HP7-Until-We-All-Pass-Out-Or-It's-Over-Whichever-Comes-First Party. It was fantastic. I got to listen to Harry Potter AND knit. In honor of the occasion, I knit a lightning bolt into the front panel. :)

    If anyone is interested in the specifics on the sleeve or shoulder shaping, I'll type that up and post it...

Jen of Knitting Sutra is having a great contest and looking for pool-defying sock pattern suggestions. Here are the details, so go give her your ideas--and be sure to tell her I sent you (because then I get another shot at the gorgeous German yarn and the nifty Dutch bag she's offering).

I can't bear it--I want to have a contest, too. I'm such a lemming. And I want to reward the hardy souls who made it to the end of this post. :)

Does anyone remember the frog accessory case that I tried to give away a couple of months ago? The prize winner never came back to claim it. Sad, I know. But I have learnt my lesson: I shall try again, but I will ask for email addresses! I'd like to send Froggy out to someone with some sock yarn--So if you're interested, send me a note at shoeless UNDERSCORE valerie AT yahoo DOT com (there's a link on my blogger profile) and tell me your favorite kind of pie. Hey, I like pie. It's not really a contest, is it. I just thought it would be interesting... I'll put your names in a hat and draw one out on August 1 after dinner, say 8 PM? Good? Okay.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I cleaned out my closet yesterday. It's not a huge closet, but once I had all the yarn and unspun fiber out on my bed, it was frightening. I have a cedar chest in there and 6 big canvas bin thingys that I bought for off-season clothes. Haha. They hold my yarn. It's a very good thing that Eric and I don't have a lot of clothes, because they wouldn't have anywhere to go.

There were some happy re-discoveries: this Elsbeth Lavold gold Silky Wool that got swatched and then forgotten in the rush to make Presto Chango; some Dalegarn Stork that's meant for a little lacy bolero for PeeWee; some blue 1824 Wool intended for my middle son; and this beaded wool from Blue Heron Yarns in Leaf--that I had no plans for, but I bought anyway because it was just so beautiful. (Go look at those Blue Heron color cards--they're gorgeous.)

I ordered it from my LYS based on a color card and a sample skein of the colorway in Egyptian Cotton. When the beaded wool arrived it was vastly different from the color card and I was rather disappointed. (You may kindly remind me that cotton and wool take up dye very differently.) I promptly socked it away in my closet.

Boberly walked in my room yesterday just as I was taking the beaded wool out of the bag to look at it. She started saying words like "lurve it" and "make me a sweater" and "pleeeeeease". I'm sure you can guess what came out of the closet next. Yes. The swift and the ballwinder. I now have a ball of Leaf and an anxious daughter. She pestered me all last night about when I was going to start swatching for her sweater. She drew up a design and with a little help from Maggie Righetti and Sweater Design in Plain English, I will be knitting the Boberly Sweater: a top-down raglan with an off-center two-button placket, stockinette body, and deep ribbing at the cuffs and bottom. My two Maggie Righetti books (the other one is Knitting in Plain English) are the two most frequently referenced books on my knitting shelf. I HIGHLY recommend them. They're not flashy, there's no eye-catching color photography--but there is the wisdom of a veteran no-nonsense knitting instructor who will spell it all out for you at any time of the day.

I'm still spinning away on my Hello Yarn BFL for my Bohussy mittens. It's slow, but steady progress. Hmmm, am I seeing a color theme in this post?