Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The muse for my burgandy throw blanket

A few months ago this beautiful aran throw showed up in a neighboring cube at work. I ogled it in secret for weeks, gathering bravado like so many days of the week, just so as to speak to my coworker about it. One day when she was out I even poked my head a bit into her cube to ogle it close up. It had at least one cable I never remember seeing before. It was fantabulous.

Eventually, as these things usually are for me, out of nowhere I blurted out my admiration while walking past her cube. (Was it was the stored bravado that paid off, or just some wacky well of confidence from a convergence of hormones? Who can tell these things.) Said coworker was happy to tell me the story of the throw. Her mother made it years ago. When I inquired about the fiber, she told me in what I think was a wistful tone that it was made with acrylic yarn. I got a sense that she felt it's being acrylic threw a pall over it's obvious magnificence.

I remember the dark ages of knitting, when the throw was knit. Acrylic was what any knitter I knew used. It's what the local five and dime sold, as well as the local craft store.

I distinctly remember growing up in the 70's and 80's a sense that there was a great shift in public perception happening regarding fiber. The synthetics that seemed so cool to the modernists of the '60s and '70s gave way to an equally persistent pursuit of cotton, mostly, and wool, eventually, in hip clothing. The garish polyester shirts a la Saturday Night Fever were replaced with layered cotton Izod Lacoste polo shirts, a cotton sweater, and cotton chinos.

Either way the fantabulousness of the throw took root in me and grew. I wanted to make one, and bad. The knitless zone I had been in for a while was receding, and it turns out that I had an inordinate amount of Paton's Classic Merino wool in burgandy, a complementary color to one of our summer quilts. The yarn was part of a poncho project that stalled midway.

I loved the yarn and at the time I started the poncho (early 2005 maybe?) I was knee deep in love with Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting . I think I spent more time swatching cables than actually knitting the darn poncho. Maybe that's what wore me out, but either way the project was left mostly untouched for the past two years. It was time to move on. Classic styled ponchos are definitely on the way out, so why waste good yarn? Really! A good choice don't you think? Me too.

I was so in love with the idea of knitting a throw that I didn't even have patience to design my own. I threw a few ideas around for a weekend and then promptly headed out to a LYS and picked up one of those magazine type pamphlets on knitted throws. Another half day to settle on a pattern, make a few changes, and voila. I'm at least 80% done with this lovely, woolen throw. The picture doesn't reflect the much darker red it really is. Less brick, more cranberry.

The only reason it hasn't been completed is I need my entire lap to work on it and bonding with our new dog, Ripley, has taken precedence. I've been getting in a few inches here and there. I'm almost through the penultimate ball of yarn. I've included the crappy photo, for perspective.

The pattern I chose is far tamer than the eclectic mix of cables in my muse throw, but I'm loving it all the same. I never knitted with two yarns simultaneously. I love the loftiness, and lightness of the fabric weight.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've added some web tickers for the four works in progress (WIPs). The tickers are from The Ticker Factory.

Dog days of summer are already here...

Summer Set cardigan begins....

I've decided to do a cardigan in this spectacular Summer Set yarn. I will be knitting from the top down for the body and then adding 2 x 2 ribbing, on a much smaller needle, to the neck, front, and bottom.

Since my swatch doesn't match the the 4" guidelines, I'm winging it once again. I could have tried smaller needles, but I want this to be a loose knit sweater for spring and summer. My thinking on this is that a tightly knit sweater will not only be too warm, but too heavy weightwise, for the spring and summer.

I've made a third cast on last night and have knitted about 10 rows. At the last minute I decided to incorporate some holes in the design. My brilliant, middle aged mind can't remember what the pattern is called when knitting has holes interspersed. And the Google isn't cooperating, either. Maybe I should keep the Harmony stitch guide at work, as well as start me some Senior Moment.

Tonight I'll take it off the needles and see if it's shaping up well.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer Set Swatched

Here is the Classic Elite Summer Set yarn all swatched up. I used a cable cast on, which I learned a week or so ago, courtesy of Knitty Gritty (and Tivo!)

My crappy camera definitely gets the color wrong in these swatches.

A much better reflection of this yarn's color:

Classic Elite Yarns

I stated last week I had never worked with Classic Elite Yarns, but oops! this is one big lie! This first FO of the year was made using their Princess yarn in “Top Turq” back in March (or was it April?) Either way the set wasn’t finished until it was no longer needed.

It took so long because I was knitting freehand and I couldn’t decide on a pattern. I loved this seed stitch diamond pattern hat I made with gray Dale Baby Ull (which I purchased at a great yarn store in Brattleboro, VT).

I was trying to recapture the perfection with the Top Turq. Turns out perfection required frogging at least four or five times. Once I had settled on the checkerboard/thatch pattern, the project flowed. This is why I envy pattern people.

Back to the point, the Princess yarn was a dream to knit and it may have been the first time I used a luxury fiber (fiber content: 40% Merino/28% Viscose/10% Cashmere/7% Angora/15% Nylon).

It seems Classic Elite Yarns is my new best friend. First Princess, then LUSH (fiber content: 50% Angora/50% Wool), now Summer Set (fiber content: 64% cotton, 19% alpaca, 12% polyester, 5% lyocel).

I picked up the "Dune Grass" (more like granny apple green!) Summer Set yarn Friday night at my local Fabric Place. They've been having a fantastic 25% off sale and I've been so itching to knit a sweater. The stars were aligned! What can a girl do? Succomb, succomb, succomb. $68 for 15 skeins, a bahhgain!

Life at Chez Yarn....

Lifes' tough at Chez Yarn.... :-)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cherry Hill Tree Brights is now a WIP!

I've finally cast on the Cherry Hill Tree "Brights."

At this stage yesterday afternoon I was unsure if the colorway wasn't drowning out the cable pattern and I was all set to frog and design anew. But something stopped me. I remembered that the whole point of doing another CHT project was to improve upon the pattern I came up with on the fly for the "Blue/Green" xmas sock I finished last weekend.

As I mentioned earlier, the sock was too big in the foot, and the cable and knit sections of the heel weren't proportional, which is probably the source of the too wide foot section. So I continued to plug away.

Am I in love with this colorway now I've knit it up? Eh, not so much. The wine color seems to dominate, where I was really drawn to the apple greens, yellows, and rusty orange. But it is still a great yarn to work with.

Me loves me some internets!

Being a self-taught, self-contained knitter has been hard. I could have found many things out by doing what a great deal of knitters seem to do, and that is knit from patterns. But I hate following patterns. Hate, hate, hate following patterns. Did you get that? And before I really knew I hated it, I was stymied by not having access to knitting books and patterns.

When I first tried to learn to knit 20 or so years ago, I was working off of needlework pamphlets from Woolworth’s. When I finally figured how to crochet, which was over 10 years before I learned to knit, Woolworth’s was gone and I was stuck going to the only wool shop that was accessible by public transportation back in those dark days, Woolcott & Co., in Cambridge, MA. They didn’t have many books, but I was able to pick up a couple of stitch dictionaries, two “Harmony Guides,” one being the “100 crochet stitches” and a second, “another 100 knit stitches.”

On top of this I was on the poorer side of the poverty curve and I was stymied by fear. With so little to spend on yarn I was wracked with yarn fear, which still haunts me even today. I fear not buying enough yarn; I fear buying too much yarn; I fear not having the interest to finish a project so convince myself not to start; and back then I feared never making anything those snooty Woolcott people would consider acceptable. Bleh! Fear.

Being a lot younger, and all alone, it was easy to fall into these self-disapprobation traps. But I was meant to knit so I could never fully succumb to the fears and eventually I learned how to learn and learned how to allow myself to fail. It also helped that by 2000 we had a car and the crafting craze was in full force so we had an A.C. Moore, and then a Michael’s, right in my exurban neighborhood.

Between 2002 and really, just this year, I shied away from the net. I had had a bad experience with making cyber friends at a game forum back then. This had soured me something fierce. Plus we had a real-life “thing’ to deal with so again I plugged away at knitting with a couple of basic pamphlets and stitch books with little outside influence.

Things seem to change this spring. We had finally reached a settled state in our a new home, the real life “thing” was over, and I could return to knitting and I was ready to open myself up to the knitting world beyond. With FIOS we now had the DIY network so I could TIVO Knitty Gritty. And I returned to reading Crazy Aunt Purl’s blog. But this time I didn’t stop at her little corner of the web, I went searching and was bowled over by the sheer magnitude of the knitting blogosphere.

I understood knitting had become popular, which I gauged on Joann Fabrics now carrying yarn, but really, I had no friggin’ idea knitting was that big.

And now I just love me some blog stalkin’.

And the whole point of these musings is that I’ve learned many helpful tips in the past month or so. And the one striking AHA! bit came from reading maryse’s blog bag ‘n’ trash. She made a post about weighing yarn and it was a big D’OH! moment for me. It had never dawned on me that the weight info on the yarn package had any use. Then on Knitty Gritty there was a knit bit about figuring if you had enough yarn left by weighing what portion you had already knit. Geesh! My biggest yarn fear in starting a sweater erased. After years and years, it’s good to let that go.

So I went out and bought a cheapie 2lb food scale and just yesterday weighed this sweater. (Can you believe that was the best picture out of 5!) I had made the sweater with leftover yarn from a granny square throw of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. I made the throw about 10 years ago, the sweater about four years ago. I ran out of the main color 6/8’s of the way down, as you can plainly see, so I wound up using another color to finish it off. I called it ‘STYLE’ rather than yarn fuck up. See, I’ve come a long way baby. I have.

The sweater weighs 18 oz. With a little googling of “weight conversion grams to ounces” I found a handy web converter. Seems 50 grams (a standard yarn weight) equals 1.76369 oz. The cotton fleece comes in 100 gram yanks, so to make a similar sweater in cotton fleece I will need 510.29 grams, or over 5 yanks. I am such a nerd because I think that is the coolest MATHS ever!

Me loves me some internets!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Xmas Socks! Done!

Jen's Christmas socks in the blue/green Cherry Hill Tree are done! Considering I didn't use a pattern, and was using a smaller gauge than ever before, and incorporated ribbing for the first time, the socks came out pretty well-proportioned.

They are a definitely looser in the arch of the foot than they should be for a sock to be worn with shoes, but Jen'll be wearing these to sleep in so there was no reason to frog and restart. The next pair in ‘Brights’ will be for me and hopefully I’ll have worked out the ‘maths’ and get a snugger fit.

I seem to be having a bit of a learning curve with the ball winder, specifically creating nice looking balls with the string coming out the center and the exterior not all a mess. (AKA, I know the pic is pathetic!) On the second of these two CHT ‘Brights’ balls I increased the tension. When I knit up the socks I’ll see if increased tension is good or bad or unimportant.

Trip to Patternworks...

So we threw caution to the wind and trekked up to Patternworks in Center Harbor, New Hampshire in search of this 104" yarn swift/ball winder combo they sell in their catalog.

Saturday was beautiful, the hubster was obliging, and Ripley's never been in the car that long, so hey, why not go to the source, rather than using mail order. (Yes, I am the only long distance purchase aversive person alive – and the result? It’s taken me two years to get up the nerve to purchase the ball winder and swift!)

It didn't take long to realize there were more bikers on I-93 north than cars, but then again we rarely get into NH during the summer, and since it is the live free or die state, we first thought nothing of it. That is until we couldn't ignore it any longer. It's June, it's beautiful, and yes, it was a great day to take a long ride behind 20 bikers, with the one directly in front of us stowing a plush, stuffed penis. Yes, you read that right, a plush.stuffed.penis. Stupid me never even thought to get a photo. I was too busy being amused at my own prudishness.

Well, it turns out that this was the most popular of the two weekends that bookend Bike Week in NH, and Laconia - the heart of biker country in the northeast - is just south of Patternworks. The bad news was the traffic, the good news Patternworks was empty. There is nothing this aspy anthrophobe hates more than going into a new yarn store and being jostled by excessive clientele, which in a yarn store may consist of just one or two people.

This being my first visit to Patternworks, I was struck by it’s small size. It’s not as small as a LYS, but it wasn’t as large as I had expected. But more importantly, I did buy some beautiful yarn cheap! I purchased two skeins of LUSH by Classic Elite Yarns in "Keys Green" for $4.99 each!!!! It’ll be the first time I’ve worked with this yarn, though I’ve seen their ads in magazines.

My first wound ball! Supercalifragilisticispyalidocious!

Friday, June 15, 2007


I spent last night trying to get some of my work on camera. Very little success. So I'm technologically inept and that doesn't auger well for a blog, but never thee mind.

I've got two WIPs, a KFYOS blanket that was once going to be a cabled poncho and the above pair of xmas socks for my sister. This sock is my first foray with a superwash merino from Cherry Hill Tree in their colorway Green/Blue. It's like a dream, and a dream on size two bamboo dpns no less! For me, that's saying somethin'.

I found this yarn a few weeks ago when I ventured, quite trepiditously, into a LYS I've never been in before in Wakefield, MA, Butterfly Yarns. The proprietor was very nice and very friendly and loves her dogs. What else can I say? For an anthrophobe like me it was near stress free. She was perfectly gregarious and I made it out alive with only a little bit of unease. Good day for a fantabulous yarn.

So I went back two days ago and shuffled through what Cherry Hill Tree she had left and came back with a skein of "Bright." Can you say Yum! Yum!

From what I'm gathering Cherry Tree Hill isn't a mass producer of these yarns. So, if you find a colorway you like, grab it up. Then again I'm not an avid yarn consumer, so who knows the web may be crawling with their product.
What I am anticipating is finally getting a yarn winder thingy with a swift that expands out 104" at Patternworks. I just gotta get through the buying-on-the-web phobia thingy. But it's worth it, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

For starters....

I've been dying to start a blog and even moreso a knitting blog. Not sure where this will lead to, I'm HEE HO excited. Hopefully this blogger site will get me up to speed with some of the technology in an easy non-confrontation way.

My favorite blogs have pictures, so I'll start by introducing our family. The hubsters already made his debut, so below are 2 of our 3 cats and our two dogs. This formatting style is giving me ogida, so bear with my poor presentation skills!!!

Ripley: our chi chi mix whom we adopted by
way of an animal rescue group a week and a half ago

Grissom: Our holy terror and a one cat neighborhood de-rodenting machine

Hunter: The scarediest cat in the world, and way below, Atreyu, our Australian Shepherd

Pattern...Moi? Couldn't be, could it?

I christen my blog with one of my very first items knit truly and soley from a pattern. Lookee here, I done made me a[n] hallowig for my hubby!!!!

Using leftover Pattons Classic Merino in an Armor (heather) grey (on size eight bamboo straights) seemed appropriate for the pattern. The husband wanted me to incorporate a little dangling thing knit off the brow and down to his nose to similate a medieval helmut. Yes, I am thankful it is I wielding the needles and not him. A little reality check: would a floppy nub in the middle of ones face be useful in a winter gale? Errr, not so much. Practicality ye were my only hope!

Thanks Megan Reardon at Knitty and an unknown blogger who linked to it. My husband would thank you both if he had manners.


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