Monday, September 25, 2006

Vanity! Vanity!

I admit it. I am vain.

It’s just one of a long list of personal flaws. The list is slightly shorter than it used to be years ago, but, it’s still awfully long—but enough of my personal failures. On to my sucesses!

Today, I received my copy of the 2007 Pattern a Day Knitting Calendar.
I have 3 patterns in the 2007 calendar.

I didn't know for sure if my pattern would be in the calendar--the editor didn't do that good a job confirming things--but it's petty to complain since they were included.

Last year at the 2005 NYC Knit Out, our guild planned to hand out book marks.

Ideas were solicited. My ideas were rejected (and truth be told, knitting them in quantity would have been a substantial effort.) Still the ideas and patterns got printed up in the Guild Newsletter, City Purls. Copies of back issues of CityPurls are available in PDF format on the BAKG web page, under member’s benefits.

Paulette Lane saw them there, and solicited them for the 2007 Page a Day calendar, and now they are in print. January 11, March 8 and August 13 are my days.

I’ve been published before—in a dark and distant past I was a coupon queen and wrote for a couponing and refunding magazine. One article I wrote was edited, and ran in Kings Features Syndicated column. that ran in over 500 US newpapers. (Martin Sloan was the official 'author' of the column, and publisher of the magazine I wrote for. He credited me when he published the peice--which original ran in the magazine.)

But knitting patterns are different. They are part of my creative side. Reporting facts, (no matter how well it’s done) is, well, pretty straight forward, and done right, factual.

Designing is creative --and pattern writing is a much more technical skill.

I’ve added some links in the left hand column, including one to my on line photo gallery. You can see images of the 3 bookmarks there, in the knitting album--if you don't want to wait or don't plan to purchase the calendar. Or just jump to an image of all three. Those are 3 mini apple bookmarkers in the center, braided loosely for effect.

Personally, I like the mini apple on the eye cord best--thought I think the medallion works the best.

It’s pretty funny. I almost never use bookmarks, I find it easier to just note the page I am on when I finish reading, and remember it. I forget lots of things, (been known to forget my purse!) but I love reading and I never forget what page I am on.

Actually is worse than that—if I read something really interesting, I will look at the page number, and remember it—sometimes for years. (And still forget to buy milk when I am in the grocery store) Even when I forget the page, I will remember if the information is on the right hand side or left hand side page, and will often remember the paragraph.

I used to be very good at this when I was a child (and into my teen and early adulthood) but I’m no where near as smart or have as good a memory now as I did then.

And from now on, I will remember January 11th, March 8th and August 13th!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Computers! If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

My ‘high speed’ line is dependant on a modem provided by the cable company.

My first modem (backing 1992) lasted 5 years. These new high-speed modems last 5 moths or so. Then you get into the “if there are problems, try ‘cycling the modem off, disconnecting it, waiting 10 minutes, turn your computer off, reconnect the modem and then restart your computer.

(and this is faster than dial up HOW?)
Not to mention, its cunning ability to drop your connection moments before you hit the save button, --and everything worked on is lost! That's happened more than once in the past 10 days.

So now I have to schedule time to wait for the cable guy and get yet another modem.

My printer is giving me grief too, though, it’s partly my fault. I got one of those do it yourself refill kits for the ink cartridges.

It worked fine the first time I refilled the cartridge. But the color cartridge was a bit pickier. I overfilled it I guess, and it leaked. The water soluble ink then leaked into the little circuits on the cartridge and print head, and nothing worked.
(Not to mention, water on electronic connections is a no-no!)

Now, the color is uneven --no, (or at least not much) red.

All this happened as I printing up material for the NYC Knit out—that is for the BAKG booth) at the knit out. The A in the logo is a big red apple. Thank goodness for red sharpies.

After the knit out, I was too tired to knit! Tuesday at my S&B group, (Yahoo group LICKNit2), all I did was ball up yarn. Somehow have gotten along all these years with out a ball winder or swift—fortunately, I was able to borrowed Dana’s ball winder, and 9 huge balls of yarn latter, I have some cotton I can use. (This stuff is fine boucle cotton. 3 strands held together = worsted weight. I haven’t decided yet if I will use it as 2 stranded DK or 3 stranded worsted.

No photo’s, since nothing is finished. And the bonus socks for the month are planned as presents. I could take some photos of my newest additions to my stash. The Black cotton (coned) was the largest of 5 cones I balled up. The other four cones I did by hand.

(next thing to master, neat links-- I suppose i will just go into the HTML mode and edit to at Href and anchors and such.)

Upgraded links!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Design 101, Part 2

5 The Knit-in-the-Round Square Poncho.

Intermediate beginner
Covers Arms
Can be tedious towards the end
Can appear tent like

Another favorite style.

This poncho is also started at the neck edge, but there are 4 points, and there are increases either side of each point, (8 increases every other round) and laid flat, it resembles a square.
But unless it is worked in garter will not quite lay flat--still Square is the best name for the shape.

The neck opening is square too (Vnecked in front and back) --though both this poncho and ponchos 4 and 6 can be started with 8 to 12 inches of ribbing to make a turtle neck –something I never do!

I have made this poncho as a ‘cape’ too… (instead of knitting in the round, I knit it ‘flat, with center front opening.)

6- The Knit-in-the-Round Round Poncho

Basicly the same as the square poncho, with all the same advantages and disadvantages. The major difference is, the 8 increases every other row are spaced further apart, and NOT LINED UP.

The round poncho looks best when knit short (elbow length) and its especially suitable for lace.

It can be knit flat, (cape like) with a center front opening, or knit in the round.

When worked in a pattern like feather and fan, the increases can occur, not regular as rain 8 every other row, but with 16 increase every 4 row, or 32 stiches increased every 8th row.
The naturally curvy edge of a feather and fan pattern is quite becomming at bothe edges too.

Beginning with 8 repeats of a 8 stitch pattern can be increased to a 10 stitch pattern after row . This would create 16 increase in 1 round. The pattern could be increased again, (to a 12 stitch pattern) after another 4 rows… and so on. Feather and Fan is one pattern that works will with this kind of increase.

You can even use Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi shawl formula, if you remember you are really starting your shawl at round 12 (and need to knit 4 rounds to be at a magic number (16) and double your stitches then, (and again at rounds 32, 64, 128, etc) –and fill the rounds in between the increase with small patterns, in lace or just using fancy stitches.

A variation on this basic design is the arc, or incomplete circle. Acr's are closer fitting. The stitch gauge and the number of increases in each round are the decisive factores in making a circle or arc shape. Both cthe circle and the arc also work well as capelets.

7-- The Triangle Poncho

Easy Versital
Very narrow/close fitting
Not perfectly symetrial
Can be tedious to knit towards the end

This poncho has less ease than most, (I’ve listed that as an advantage, but it could just as easily be seen as a disadvantage!)

Started with just 3 stitches, with increases every row, the poncho starts out as a large (very large!) triangle. It works best when the triangle is symmetrical, so garter, or even sead stitch are good choices.

The bound off edge is folded to make a smaller square shape, and then sewn together to make a center front seam, leaving the edge closest to the fold open a neck opening.

Because of the fold, the direction of the knitting in back is straight, but it's diagonal in front.

8—The Notch Square.

Versital shape
Roomy, with out being tent like
Good coverage for lower arm
Best suited for advanced knitting techniques.

This shape is more often seen in crocheted poncho’s, especially those made from ‘granny square’ motifs.

It is made from 2 idential notched square are sewn together.

It could be started at several points, but I think this style would look wonderful in entralac. One of the side seams could be replaced with a provisional cast on, the second side seam could be eliminated by grafting.

Plain or fancy, single color or multi color (or Noro self patterning colors) knit entralac square could be substituted for the normal granny squares.

I don’t think I have seen a poncho knit like this.. (but I would love to!)

There are, no doubt, other styles/techniques for knitting poncho’s -- but thesse 8 styles are by far the most common. And each of these styles have many variations, and are open to improvements: the Rhombuis poncho often has an extra line of increases at the shoulder line.—the Folded triangle benefits from this as well.

Changes as minor as a fringed or not fringed change the final appearence of a Poncho dramaticically. Solid colors or striped with a self striping yarn, or striped with a variety of yarns area other way to change the final result.

Poncho's might seem loject to start desgning with--but a simplely shaped geometric froms they offer a beginner opportunity to think about how to make shapes to fit the human form.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I am nothing more than star dust.
Long, I held myself to be,
Just, collected, the scattered dust,
from some past eternity

How random --how beautiful
Majesty, in such a simple form
humbled and at the same time, blessed,
From such stuff to be born.

But these days the dust I breathe
The dust I have become,
Is the dust of five thousand souls
And more, in me, as one

My city is a charnel house.
It sears me to the core
Now I am the dust of human souls
Of stardust, I am no more.

In 2001 I was working for a Federal agency in NY's downtown area(in a contract postion)

By Thursday (September 13) I was back to work--in other offices, doing my small part to make things better.

Monday September 23rd, I was back down town. TheWorld Trade Center was still burning, and would continue to burn for months.
At first there were full fires, but til late December, things smoldered.

Every day, the air was filled with awful smoldering smoke and and dust. I wrote the poem during those long dark months.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Design 101, part 1


Love’m or hate’m, they are a perennial favorite.

Many knitters don’t seem to realize, there are a limited number of templates that are used to ‘design’ poncho’s. Learn the templates or basic shapes for poncho’s –all are easy to learn—and you are half way to designing your own. Learning to design something as simple as a poncho is a good way to start learning to design. There are 20 to 30 ways to shape a an armseye and sleeve cap.
With poncho's, it is simpler to understand the basic shapes and how those shapes work.

Most are of the templates are easy..the final design, is the result of pairing a basic template with specific yarns, and stitch patterns, at a specific gauge.

Every template/style has advantages and disadvantages—and defining what is an advantage is what is a disadvantage is mostly personal opinion.

So here one of my governing opinions--
I like symmetry in clothes.
I personally think that asymmetrical clothes are unbecoming on everyone, but stunningly tall, thin and naturally very symmetrical bodies (ie, super models) can still look good in them.
Normal people, (ie not exceptionally tall, or exceptionally thin, or exceptionally symmetrical) people look less than their best in asymmetrical clothes.
Anyone who is short, or fat (or just not thin!) or is slightly out of balance just looks terrible.

I have other opinions about clothes, but most of them are not big factors in poncho’s.

So what are the basic shapes, and what are the advantage/disadvantages to them? I have created some drawing to help explain them.

Guide to images:
Dotted lines =folds
Red lines =seams (dotted red =optional seams)
Blue lines =neck line/opening
Green line= cast on edge
Pink line=increases
Large Arrow=common directions of knitting.

In many castes, there is more than one way to knit the basic shape. And in every case, there are many options available to the knitter/designer to customize the shape.

1—the Folded Rectangle.

Advantages ------Very Easy, Can be worn several ways
Disadvantages --Asysmmetrical

This poncho is knit, starting at narrow edge as a large rectangle.
It is ‘finished’ by folding it in half, and sewing 1 side seam, leaving a 10 or so inch gap at folded edge, which creates a neck opening.

Normal worn with the fold line at one center shoulder, and the seam line at other center shoulder.

It can also be worn with seam as center front, (which makes a shawl-like back, and a v neck front, or with seam line in back (and back v neck) and a boat neck in front.
No matter how you wear it, its not symmetrical!

The center front /center back styles are at least right/left symmetrical, (but not front/back symmetrical)

When its worn with one side having a seamed center shoulder edge, and the other arm having a folded edge, its totally skewed. And it gets more skewed with every wearing.

It can be modeled to look good, but I think this style is the most disappointing for knitters (especially new knitters who are least familiar with model tricks!)

2--2 Peice Rectangle Poncho

Advantages ---Very Easy, Less Asymmetrial than poncho1
Disadvangtes--Asymmetical, Seamed, Requires 2 identical pieces

The seamed 2 rectangle poncho is another popular pattern.

It is less asymmetrical than ponch 1, but I still don’t like it. It's often shown with a striped element, (either real stripes (horizontal) or cables or other Vertical stripes.
And right there at the seams, (2 since this poncho as mirror symmetry and the back is the mirror image of front) the “stripes” are at right angles.

This creates a strong diagonal line across the body—its not too bad on children, or any one thin, but its not the best choice for adults.

Secondly, since the knitting drapes and folds differently, (and stretches differenty over time) it becomes more asymmetrical over time. It also tends to twist while being worn--the seams end up a the center shoulder line, and the poncho ends up hanging even more asymmetirally.

3- Rectangular Poncho

Advantages----- Easy Symmetrical Versital (can be knit and worn several ways)
Disadvantages---Creating Neck opening, often called a serape or a ruana

This is a great poncho. It's easy, and it's symmetrical.
It can have a boat neck or V neck, it can even be knit as a ruana –
Its suitable for stripes --knit color stripes, or ‘stripe like patterns' (cables)

The side seams can be left open, sewn all or part way shut.
Depending on how you knit it, and which neck opening you chose, it can be more or less difficult to knit and to wear.
It can be knit in 2 long rectangles, with a center back seam and center front open as well.

4—The Rhombus (knit in the round)

Advantages -----Intermediate skills required, Can be worn several ways, Symmetrical
Disadvantages---Can be tedious towards the end, Doesn’t cover lower arm

One of my favorite poncho styles.

Normal worn folded so that looks like a notched Square, it can also be worn as a boat necked rhombus. (especially suitable when very short!)

The Cast On edge is the neck edge, and the shape is created by increasing 4 times every other round. (one increase each side of center front/center back stitch)

Because there are increases every other row, the pleasant rounds at the or near the cast on edge soon grow to be endlessly long by the lower edge.

And unless you knit it long enough to have the center front and back touch the ground, the poncho will only cover upper arms, not the lower arm.

Four more basic templates for poncho's, and some images of poncho's that use the basic templates shapes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


God knows I am not a yarn snob.
I have intermittable skeins of Red Heart acrylic. No matter how fast I knit it up into blocks for Warm Up America, or into hats for charity knitting, or even into ponchos for my granddaughter, there is always more--usually given to me, partly i suppose, because I am known to be a knitter.

So at the beginning of the summer, when I was almost out of Red Heart, I received, 4 ‘super saver’ (8 oz) skeins, and at the end of the summer, another half dozen skeins (fortunately, these were mostly 3 and 4 oz skeins!)

You know how it is. Some one dies, or moves, or has arthritis too painful to knit, and rather than throw the stuff out, they look to find someone or organization to donate it to.

I pass a lot of the Red Heart on. Still like proverbial rabbits, it seems that skeins of Red Heart multiply faster than I (or anyone!) can knit them up!

There is difference Knitting with Red Heart isn't as enjoyable as knitting with a fine silk or wool, or other natural fiber. When I was knitting my GD poncho, and each row got longer and longer, I dreaded each stitch (and put the whole thing aside for a few weeks). Red Heart has it uses, but it doesn't really feel good as you knit it.

This week, I have been knitting with silk, and I had trouble putting the knitting down! I won’t say I knit this in record time, but even I am surprised at how fast I worked—of course it was difficult putting down the knitting to sleep. The yarn, and fabric felt so good.

There was less than optimal yardage, (a scant 375 yards) so its really a shawlette. With a pattern that started with 7 stitches cast on, (a fast row!) and ended with 251—which took a bit more time!

This Morning, before I breakfasted, finished the last few row of garter on the bottom edge and I bound off. It’s not yet blocked or finished, and roughly measures 42 inches (apx. 1.1 meters) across the top, and 23 inches deep.

This silhouetted view obscured the colors, but does show the simple lace to advantage.

I ended with enough yarn to work 2 more rows –but its hard to estimate how much yarn is needed for 10 rows of garter (and with 4 increases ever other row, it’s even trickier!) and for a bind off. A shawl, or any garment can be ruined by a tight bind off. Better to have a few yards left over than not enough.

I am thinking about a tassel for the center back. Maybe even one at each end.

For the record
Septembers socks.. the heels look a bit weird, but they fit fine.

These socks were done toe up, with a banded toe, and band afterthought heel, in OnLine Seierra Effects, on size 1 needles, (circa 9.2 stitches to the inch).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Double Delight!

Friday, as I often do, was spend at Jill's (her husband Kevin deserves photocredit for the image of me)
She gave me (re-gifted) some 700 yards of hand spun tusshah silk. The stuff is gorgeous! It's not really Jills' colors, and even though she loves silk, she seemed happy to part with it.
All day Saturday, I fondled it, until finally Saturday night I balled it up, and started to knit.
I had a scant dozen or so more rows waiting to complete Septembers sock, but the 700 or so yard of hand spun tussah silk was driven me insane. I just couldn't not knit with it immediately!
I am not sure what I like best, the color or the hand! The golds, pinks, and raspberry are so warm, and such friendly colors against the skin. The tussah silk is dry, and crisp, yet soft.

By Sunday morning, I had 12 inches or so of knitting done--the start of a top down shawl.

This pattern is one of my favorites, so simple, so pretty. It works with any yarn, and after the
first 10 rows, its a simple 6 row pattern --and really of those 6 rows, 2 are 'repeats' so there
are only 4 'Pattern' rows. Only one row of purl stitches too, for those of you who don't like to purl-- though, personally I don't mind purling. One of the best things about it is, you really don't have to swatch.
Gauge is not critical--It is even a factor--looser, it makes for a more open lacy shawl, tighter, less lacy shawl. It's really a matter of what kind of finished effect you want.

Double Delight, a top down, simple lace shawl
This basic shawl can be worked with any yarn, in any gauge.
Use needles appropriate to the yarn to have firm, but still drapey fabric.
(suggested gauge on yarn ball usually right gauge)
skill level--intermediate/beginner.
you'll need 400 to 800 yards of yarn, or more as desired.(the finer the yarn, the more yards)
a 29 inch or longer circular needle
4 stitch markers.
Shawl shown is 7 wraps to inch hand spun tussah silk, worked on (US) size 8 needles)

Cast on 7 (any cast on method will work, I use long tail)
Row 1: K3, place marker, K1, place marker, K3
Row 2: K3, YO, slip marker(sm), K1,(sm), YO, K3
Row 3: Knit every stitch
Row 4: K4, YO, sm, K1, sm, YO, K4
Row 5: Knit every stitch
Row 6: K5, Yo, sm, K1, sm, YO, K5
Row 7: Knit every stitch
Row 8: K5, place marker, Yo, K1, Yo sm, K1, sm,Yo, k1, YO, Place marker, K5
Row 9: K5, sm, purl to center marker, sm, P1, sm, purl to edge marker, k5

Begin pattern: EVEN NUMBERED ROWS are Right side
Row 10: K5, sm, YO, Knit to center marker, YO, sm, K1, sm, YO, knit to edge marker, YO, sm, k5
Row 11: K5, sm, purl to center marker, sm, K1, sm, purl to edge marker, sm, K5
Row 12: K5, sm, YO, Knit to center marker, YO, sm, K1, sm, YO, knit to edge marker, YO, sm, K5
Row 13: K5, sm, knit to center marker, sm, P1, sm, knit to edge marker, sm, K5
Row 14: K5, sm, Yo, k1, *[Yo, K2tog] (to center marker-you will have 1 stitch remaining**), k1, YO, sm, K1, sm, Yo, k1, *[Yo, K2tog] (to edge marker-you will have 1 stitch remaining*), k1, YO, sm, K5
Row 15: K5, sm, knit to center marker, sm, P1, sm, knit to edge marker, sm, K5

Repeat rows 10 to 15 as many times as needed, till shawl is desired width and length, (or till
you being to run out of yarn.)
For the best finished edge, work 10 rows of garter (knit every stitch, every row) while still adding 4 YO's every other row. But, even a few rows of garter work well to finish, (if you underestimate, and run out of yarn before completing 10 rows)

Finish by sewing cast on edges together, and weaving in any yarn tails

(Optional-- add yarn fringe, or buy beaded fringe to match and sew onto lower edge of shawl.)
**On some rows, you will have 2 stitches remaining, do not knit these last 2 stitches together,
just knit them.
Rows 10, 11, 12 are stocking knit, with a 5 stitch garter border, 4 increases on right side,
with the center back stitch always knit.
Rows 13, 14, 15 are a lace pattern called beading. Beading consist of : a purl ridge row on right side, then a row of Yo, K2tog,"lace", followed by another row of purl ridge on right side.
In this pattern, there are increases (4) worked on every right side row, included the beading.
The center back stitch is worked as knit stitch on right side.

You can add more rows of stocking knit stitch between the rows of beading if desired.
Key to abbreviations:
K= Knit
P= Purl
K2tog = Knit 2 together
YO= Yarn Over
SM= Slip marker

The Red K1 and P1 in the pattern are 'place markers' to help read the pattern, they are the center stitch in each row.
Here is a rectangular shawl, that also uses "beading" lace pattern.

This shawl has a lacey contrasting edging, and has 9 rows of stocking knit between each beaded
lace section--(repeat Rows 10 to 12, 3 times, then knit Rows 13 to 15--with no increases in any of the rows.)
I cast on 88 stitches, size 10 needle,(or was it 10.5?), using Lion Brand Homespun yarn--
5 skeins, in 2 different colorways, the finished shawl is about 45 by 60 inches.
The actual pattern for these shawl is slightly more complicated--the lace edge is 'cast on' design, and was grafted on to the second edge. The lace edging (my own design) requires that you cast on 18 stitches for every 10 needed (8 stitches are 'lost' in the pattern). But other edgeing, would work as well.

I woke up yesterday morning, and before breakfast, finished (including weaving in!) September's socks. No photo's yet, though.
Since then, I've gotten another 3 inches of the shawl completed- and started yet another pair of socks! Holidays are coming, and I have things to knit.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sun set and footsteps...

It’s another grey day today. It’s been a week of rain, or so it seems. Not all day rain, but grey skys, and intermittent rain.

It’s the weather, and as they say, if you don’t like it, wait a minute, (or a day or two) and it will change. I am waiting.

Today’s rain is the last remnants of hurricane/tropical storm Ernesto. It wouldn’t be so bad if felt tropical, but its chilly, 62° or so.

Not cold--but cool and damp. I was trying to remember that last sunny day, and remembered instead, the great sun set we had on Thursday.

I’ve lived in NYC all my life. And for a good percentage, I’ve lived high up.

As a child (and 9 or so) till 17, in my parents apartment, on the top floor (5th) almost on top of a hill—and not just any hill, but the end of the Kingsbridge Crescent. The crescent is a geological formation, and the second highest point in NYC (the highest being Todd Hill on Staten Island).

The apartment was a wonderful place. The living room had a huge window with a with western view (and an almost equal as good eastern view, but this was in my parents bedroom). The south facing windows got lots of light, and breezes, but they only afforded a view into the neighbor’s windows!

When I was first married, I lived in another 5th floor walk up apartment with a western view. The windows weren’t as big, but the view was less obstructed.

Our first house was in a low land (a former swamp actually!) but the second house, was on top of hill, and from my deck, I could see (well in the winter, when the trees were bare) a good percentage of the NYC skyline when looking west.

Currently, I live in a high up (14th floor) apartment that has a spectacular western view. It is a great delight. A view was one of my priorities when I was house (apartment) hunting.

Thursday, I was treated to this:

Can you see the plane that is flying by? (it starts at left, near the empire state building)

A few minutes later, the sky looked like this:

Not Knitting…
But Wednesday, at the Citicorp Knitting Meet, Barbara (aka knitnerd) ooh’d, and aah’d over my sneakers.

I bought them just a few weeks ago, (remained, end of season sale at target’s-$3.25!) and in a fit of insanity, decided to gussy them up.

There is no fun like the fun of making French knots, and bullion stitch roses on the toe of shoe (with your hand stuck in, to reach the needle.) I didn't plan or design really, I just started to embroider. Not perfectly successful, but fun!