Friday, October 30, 2009

Subway Encounters

I live in Queens.

If you live (or have lived in) NYC you might be vaguely familiar with Queens.

Or you might know Queens from the TV. If the characters in the show “The King of Queens” were real people, they would be neighbors (well, not next door neighbors, but close enough)—Spiderman, too, lives in my neighborhood—or rather his aunt and uncle do.

If Ugly Betty really lived in Queens, she’d be a few train stations away.
I used to live not far from where Archie Bunker lived—another part of Queens.

Queens is BIG. It’s 110 square miles or so—(and Queens is just 1 borough of NYC). It has: 2 international air ports, some farm land (still!) and a farm museum, and part of a National Park-- (Gateway National Park). It has several sports stadiums (CitiCenter (home of the Mets) and the Arthur Ashe Tennis stadium, home of the US Open (tennis)—as well as being home to 2.5 million NYers. (You can double or even triple that number if you count all the permanent residents in Queen’s necropolises!)

Many of us are living not in apartments(as I do) , but in single family homes—the single family homes featured in the shows mentioned are common styles in Queens. (for over 20 years, I lived in a single family home in Queens)

Queens is somewhat poorly served by the subway system—One train line(#7) end at 135th street or so--and Queens continues to 254th street –another, (the E train) goes to 169th—but that part of Queens continues to 270th street!

This is partly because, until the end of WW 2, Queens had LOTS of farms—(I remember some from my childhood!)—and the subways just didn’t go out to these in the city rural areas!

Queens is also international—The US government knows: more languages are spoken in Queen’s homes—than in any other county, in any state in the Union.

By comparison, Brooklyn has more residents, (about 3 mil) in about half the space—and it has more extensive subway coverage.

So it not any wonder that over on Ravelry, in the Subway Knitters groups, knitters in Brooklyn and Manhattan (NY county) meet up much more often than knitters from Queens.

Me? I meet knitters all the time on the subway. About half of them don’t speak English—or speak with a very limited vocabulary—and knitting terms aren’t usually part of their vocabulary.
(and there is an almost 0% that are also computer literate (in English).) So meeting fellow knitters who are also Raveler's--is not a common occurance!

Still it’s fun, as happened this morning, to sit next to another knitter, and to talk about knitting with out exchanging any words!--She (a Chinese woman of a certain age) spoke some English--but most of our conversation was smiles and hand gestures.

I was working on Penny for Your Thoughts—which is, if you haven’t already guessed, a small cape like shrug.

I envision it being about 8 inches long center front (and might have to compromise based on how much yarn I have!) –right now, it’s just past 6 inches long. (I am up to skein 3 (not counting the 2 partial skeins I started with) of 5)

I started the 80 yard skein yesterday afternoon—at work—and, in spite of the 2 more rows worked this AM, (on the subway) I still have another 10 or so yards of the skein left.

I am hoping to finish it, and wear it Sunday. That means 1 skein’s worth of knitting today, (not counting the left over!) and 1 skeins worth of knitting tomorrow—Will I make it? We’ll see.

Then back to Peachy. (and socks, and sometime, soon, some holiday knitting, and … )

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mellowing out

I wore 2 different pairs of new socks this week.

Sunday, I wore my Mast (aka acorn) socks—and Tuesday, my short striped ribbed socks.

The Mast socks were finished the beginning of April —and are very autumnal…
(And I don’t much wear socks in the summer anyway) so it’s not surprising I didn’t wear them till now.

The Striped cable socks –they mellowed about a month…
I do this—with all my knitting. (I don’t know all the wheres and whyfor’s, but, I know I do it.)

I like to have my knitting mellow. I don’t put it away, but rather leave it in sight, and glance at it, and frequently pick it up and fondle it-- for a few day, or weeks or even months before I wear it.

The more I like it, the longer it tends to mellow.

I like to stop and admire my work as it progresses too.

I almost never frog, because, I almost never need to. I am not some paragon who doesn’t make errors-- I make lots of mistakes!

It’s just the case that I stop every few rows and admire my progress, (and give it a critical once over!)-I use this as a time to find the errors--in the past row, or the row before that. If it’s a small error, I drop the offending stitch and correct, or if a big one, I’ll tink. But is a rare occasion when an error gets missed for more than a few rows.

Penny for your thoughts... (As I am thinking of my bronze project) is about half done. I am thinking of making an all out effort—and having it completed --and wearing it! With out letting it mellow!-- this weekend.

NYC is at near peak for autumn colors, and my plan is to drive up to Wave Hill Park and take in Robyn Love’s class on natural dying.

I tend to be lazy, so while I have dyed some wool, and use various dyes (mostly food grade stuff, because that is the easiest!) I haven’t made my own dye in eons. But some of the plant dyes are so pretty—maybe I’ll be moved!

If you are in NYC and not planning on watching the marathon—you can come up to Wave Hill, too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No Post Yesterday--

Because there was no knitting Monday—no progress to show!

But I knit yesterday-- Finished the body of Peachy—bound off the lower edge and got about half the ends woven in. I try to weave in tails as I go along—waiting till all the knitting is done to start, means leaving all the tedious work till the end.. it’s so much better to weave in as you go along.

Next—the sleeves—the plan is to starting them tonight—but there are a lot of plans for tonight… PBS has a show based on Michael Pollan’s book Botany of Desire (my hard copy of the book has a personalized autograph)—and the baseball season is in full swing.

I am not a hard core TV watcher—No big screen—when things went digital, I did buy a new TV—and it was almost 50% bigger than my old one—I went from a 13 inch screen to a 19 inch screen. But no fancy features (like picture in picture).
A feature that would be a nice feature tonight! What with the rain, the game will likely be slow—but PBS features are generally great because they don’t have commercial breaks (the natural time to switch to check the game)

With any luck, no matter what happens tonight, by this time next week, I should have the sweater finished—and maybe even the bonus sleeves.

Right now, the center front still pulls up a bit… (you can see that in the photo)

The i-cord edge, like a tight cast on, has less stretch than the knitting. But with blocking—it will stretch just enough to hang straight, (and be tight enough to prevent stretching out and sagging in the front)

The mystery knitting (Penny for your thoughts) is inching along..I was going to take a photo this AM—but I over slept (well actually I woke at 6 am—and then fell back to sleep and over stayed my 6:50 get up out of bed time—dozing more than sleeping. Just by 5 minutes, put enough that I didn’t have time to set up for a photo shoot—so you’ll have to wait!

Monday, October 26, 2009

They WON.

I might have finished Peachy—well the main body at least,(or taken a photo of it!) but…
I got another (the last) lace repeat done yesterday at Sunday knitting, and even got the first garter ridge done. But when I got home, it was all crossword puzzle (I didn’t make a dent) and baseball.

At Sunday knitting (at Panera’s) I got to see another version of the Cascade sock—2/3rds done (sock 1).

Did I mention that I wrote up the pattern (really wrote up the pattern, didn’t just write an outline/recipe.) And that I plan to make this my first pattern for sale?

Well it will be. I need to upgrade the photo’s—and make the PDF—so its not quite ready yet, but some time later this week, you'll be able to make your own pair, too!

To make things easy (for me!), it will only be available on Ravelry.

Rena (glassneedle on rav) has been kind enough to be the test knitter—which is both good and bad.

Part of the problems is: she is a good knitter, and gets knitting directions—I hope the directions are good enough for the not so good knitter. Still the pattern is designed for DPN’s (as Rena is using) or for Circ’s (2 or magic loop) and it has both a chart and written directions, for the stitch pattern. I am a master at over kill.

Everyone has loved the Bronze gauntlets—and wants that pattern too—well--no pattern—but a recipe—this recipe PRESUMES you have basic skills, and/or a good reference book for the detail.

3 skeins of Patons Angora Bamboo.
I used US-Size 6 needles (or as needed to get a nice looking rib-I have no idea of the gauge!)
I worked on 2 circ’s but if you use DPN’s a set of 4 is better than 5—keep the 15 stitches of the pattern together!

Usually other stuff (stitch markers, tapestry needles, row counter—as desired)

Cast on 48, join into round with out twisting
(I used my Italian cast on—(but Judy’s magic would work)—and worked 2 rounds as:
R1- K1, yarn forward as if to purl, slip 1, yarn back
R2—Slip 1, yarn forward, P1, yarn back as if to knit..
This is simple double knitting.
This combo (the cast on, the simple double knitting) will create a tubular edge. It is optional.

Alternately, you can cast on anyway you want, and start with 1 X 1 ribbing, (and make R3 into your R1)
R3: K1, P1
Work about 1.25 inches in 1 X 1 ribbing, then start pattern in center front.

K1, P1 (3 times—6 stitches) place marker if desired-
Pattern is alternate rows, (even rows, knit every stitch in pattern)

Pattern uses right and left twist stitches --knit the second stitch on needle first, then the first stitch on the needle (second), then let both drop of left needle.

A Right Twist (RT) starts with the needle going into the second stitch from the front, working it, then working the first stitch on the needle.

A Left Twist, (LT) you put the needle behind stitch 1, knit stitch 2 (it’s often easier to knit through back loop of this stitch, and then knit stitch 1 ( a PITA to do through front loop, but it really looks better!) these are RT and LT in directions.

R1: RT, K5, RT, LT, K2, LT.
(continue rest of round in established ribbing, starting with a P1 –every pattern row)
R3: RT, K4, RT, K2 LT, K1, LT.
R5: RT, K3, RT, K4, LT, LT
R7: RT, K2, RT, LT, K5 LT
R9: RT, K1, RT, K2, LT, K4, LT.
R11: RT, RT, K4, LT, K3, LT.
This pattern is from the Big Book of Knitting Stitches, (check latter for page).- which also has a chart.

Work in pattern and ribbing till the gauntlet(s) is long enough—(base of the wrist to as far up the arm as you desire--this is a flexible measurement—try them on!)

Thumb Gusset. In a PURL stitch 7 stitches AFTER (or BEFORE) pattern motif, make a gusset. Place markers for gussets if needed-(on one of the gauntlets, the 7th purl will be last stitch in round—reposition stitches on needles if this is a problem for you)

R1: K, P, K into the P stitch (yes, it will make a hole, but when you finish up, you can close it)
R3: increase 2 times –in gusset
You can do that 2 ways, either at side edges or in center (of the K, P, K in R1 of gusset). Pick one. Increase! (M1 or Kf&b—or any increase you want!)
This is a recipe, not a pattern!—if you don’t know how, consult a reference book!

Repeat increases ever other round till the gusset has 9 stitches.
Keep work in ribbing, what ever increase you use. Then work 2 rounds even (continue to work pattern element)—You can work 3 rounds if you a longer thumb base.

The slip the 9 gusset stitches onto a stitch holder, and cast on 3 stitches (a single yarn cast on of your choice—I use a simple cast on)

Next round work in ribbing –(no more pattern)
Work in ribbing for about 1.25 inches, and bind off.

For the bind off, I reversed the cast on, and worked 2 rounds of simple double knitting, and then bound off with grafting—I know how to graft 1 X 1 ribbing with out dividing the stitches onto 2 needles--and well, it works for me—but no details!

With a new yarn, work the 9 stitches from stitch holder –continuing in the established 1 X 1 ribbing, pick up 1 stitch in ‘side’ then 3 stitches in base of cast on, another side stitch (7 new stitches + 9 stitches from holder, 16 stitches in all.) All this in 1 X 1 ribbing.

Work a few (3 to 5) rounds—bind off –(if you are obsessive, bind off the thumb in grafting too, after 2 rounds of simple double knitting.. I did!)

When finishing, weave tail of new yarn (thumb) down to base of gusset(s), and snug up the hole from first increase.

Weave all the other tails. Block if desire--or just wear and enjoy!

The gauntlets, when finished will just reach base of fingers (they do not cover fingers at all). You will have plenty of yarn left—and can make the post thumb gusset portion longer, (continue in pattern for a few round, before changing to ribbing) if desired and cover the base of fingers. Just try them on, and decide for yourself.

(if you are very thin, you can consider casting on 44, not 48, and putting the first stitch of thumb gusset in 5th Purl, not 7th.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Penny for your thoughts

Is it obvious? Making ¢’s (sense)?

It’s spread out over 3 circs for the photo, but I won’t be knit that way! It will be done on a single needle—bunched up, but manageable.

It’s paused momentarily—I left my camera at work—and didn’t want to unpin (and work on it) so this how it looked yesterday—and how it looks this afternoon—since I didn’t work on it today at all!
But—I am (unusually) working again tomorrow—and won’t buy a morning newspaper—so I will likely knit both going to, and coming home—so I’ll make for lost time tomorrow.

It’s really warm—the doubled neck band – (you knew that right?) is soft and cozy, and lies close to the skin, and its warm! So much so, I am wonder if I’ll ever wear it!
But then over night, the weather went from 74° to 50°--and it might end up being just the thing—(if I get cracking and finish it before winter is full on)

I don’t like heavy clothing, and I like the cold—and I am often underdressed for the weather (I’d rather be chilly for a few minutes, than over heated for an hour)

This might be just the right amount of warmth—since it won’t be very big.

I let Peachy hang –to get a better measurement—and here it is (even my petite manikin has hips bigger than 30 inches, so I can’t spread it out (well I could, if I bothered to spread the stitches out over 2 needles) and it’s longer than I realized.

I am 2 rows short of 14 repeats—and I think 15 will be enough, (more than enough!) –Which is great! I am further along than I realized.

This morning I grabbed a bag of yarn and needles—(since I didn’t want to disturb the big ¢) -- and cast on some socks.

I have some ideas for socks—and the yarn I grabbed is not involved in any of the ideas—so these socks will be common garden variety ones.

One idea (the next pair to be knit) is not too fancy—except for the tops.

I am thinking of a very fancy bit of work at the top edge—(and still am working on ideas for the leg and instep.)—the top will be color, texture and layered—a triple wammy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Horsing around…

C what I mean?

This is new subway project—it’s not a secret, but I am being obtuse.

You’ll have to figure out what I am doing on your own—or just wait and see.

You can keep score:
1 point if you recognize the yarn--
2 point is you recognize what you are looking at—(what have I knit)
(1 point for this if you are a proficient sewer/have made your own clothes)
3 points if you can guess the next step.
Additional opportunities to earn points will be presented…points are worth a mil. 1000+ to win a penny --send a SASE if you want to collect your winnings.

More tomorrow (I hope!) and them maybe it will make ¢s (sense).
Maybe I should call this project word play!

I only got a single pattern repeat completed on Peachy because I was working on the big C—I made a mistake that required frogging—and lost a good 5 inches!

The curve is created by short rows. I have no problem at all dropping down a single stitch and working it back up with crochet hook, normally. But short row and the wraps made it hard to track EXACTLY which stitch to drop—and would have made picking up harder too, (and there were other factors in play..) Frogging was the only thing that made sense.

Oh and this whole project is being winged… If you like it, you’ll have to look, think and work out the details on your own. You’ve already got 1 hint --short row shaping!

I dug out my February Lady—the finished length, (center front) is 24 inches.

Peachy over 18 inches right now with 12 repeats of the lace pattern (each repeat is a fractional amount over an inch long) I am thinking 4 more repeats, (23 inches) then the bottom boarder of garter and the body will be completed.

(Or, as an alternate measurement--I’ll finish up this skein, and start another before the body is finished)

Most of a skein for the sleeves--that is, most of skein for EACH of the 2 sleeves, or 2 skeins—and then maybe a pair of matching ‘lower arms’ to match, as I did with the February Lady.
I think a matching hat would be overkill-- a set of 2 is interesting, a set of 3 becomes tacky (or so I think!)—but I could do a hat—and wear the sweater and hat, or the sweater and arms warmers, or arm warmers and the hat –and avoid the 3 piece matching set.

Or I could just knit a (matching) hat because, well, I knit hats! (But only rarely wear them!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The count is 11—

It might have been 12, but the Yankee’s were busy making a count of 10…No image, because, really one more repeat (or now, 3, since last photo) just isn’t much of change!
I am not much of sports fan—for me, the baseball season (when there is one) starts in October. If the Yankees are still playing, I start watching!

I did a bit of show and tell last night at LICKnits—(nothing you haven’t seen here) --others had show and tell too…
Carolyn discovered the joy of sock with Christmas stockings--maybe she’ll give up hats, now—for a while at least—she knits more hats than I do!

Randi had a new shawl --knit from yarn she got at the yankee swap just a few (3?) weeks ago.
Kim (hi, boss!) was finishing up a convertible hat/cowl…and pleased as punch to have gotten the TsockTsarina’s Firebird sock this past weekend at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool.
We dished some dirt too—(not a usual practice)—nothing surprising or juicy—just venting of grievances. It’s just the person we spoke of, wasn’t there.

We are generally an honest group—if we have something to say—we say it to your face, not behind your back—not with rancor, or snidely.. But every once in a while--Well we are human, after all!

I have a new subway project started (maybe tomorrow you’ll get to see (C) it.)

Today—some of the mosaic images and ceramic images I walk past most every day, for the most part-- with out a thought. They are really quite lovely—these are all from the 42nd Street /Times Square station. Many other stations have similar mosaics—often, as these are themed to the above ground area.

It’s easy to complain about NYC transit (as
I did last week) but reality is, it’s a pretty remarkable system. It’s old (100 years), it’s fast (almost every line has 4 track—2 express, 2 local), it runs
(more or less regularly) 24 hours a day, and it is huge (over 350 miles of track—all inside NYC!) I guess the truism is every one loves the subway, but hates how it’s managed. Every one is sure they could do a better job than the current management. (And some of us are right about that!)

(the mosiacs are about 70% life size, the ceramic tiles are about 12 inches square, framed and behind glass)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well I was wrong.

I thought I wouldn’t finish the bronze gauntlets till this evening—but the knitting was finished before I was half way home! I didn’t have a tapestry needle or scissors with me—but I don’t think I would have attempted a tubular (grafted/Kitchener) bind off on the train anyway!

So the first thing I did once I got home was bind off the main portion, and work a few rounds for the thumb—and Voila! A finished pair of gauntlets!

Finished length is 12 inches, and they are as warm as all get out!—a little angora goes a long way!

After dinner, I did 2 more repeats of the lace pattern on Peachy—(a total of 10 now) –and came to the end skein 3—you’ll have to take my word on that—I didn’t bother to take a progress photo—it really doesn’t look that much different with 2 more repeats.

Tonight is knit night—and since it involves socializing and eating (as well as knitting) I doubt I’ll get 2 full repeat done. But that’s’ OK—I am really happy with this sweater, and it’s not an effort at all to work on it.

Gayle asked about the lace—(what does it look like blocked?)—I am not going to block it much at all—the prime purpose of the blocking will be to relax and neaten the slightly wonky K2tog and SSK’s rather than to open the lace up more.

She also commented it looked ‘architectural’ –not the word I thought of but one the fits the look of the lace pattern. I wanted a ‘strong vertical’ element—and this lace provided one—its not a very lacy (femine) lace—(is what you meant by an architectural?) but a strong vertical (masculine lace?).

Perhaps that is part of what I like—the contrast between the strong vertical (a masculine element) and the soft peachy color (a feminine element) –I consciously wanted a strong vertical to contrast to the horizontal stripes—but perhaps there is more—the strong pattern in the soft color is another aspect of contrast.

It’s simple enough—and in reality, its just 5 repeats—the (stitch) pattern as written has a 6 row repeat. Every even repeat, I change 1 decrease (from a K2tog-to a SSK). So I really have 5 sets of 12 row pattern (not 10 sets of 6 row pattern) the simple change really changes the character of the lace.

And in reality, there are no SSK’s—all the decreases are K2tog’s.
(What?) As I work the purl rows (the supposed plain purl rows) I make sure to work 2 standard purls at specific points in the pattern, and then on the Knit side, I K2tog (combo stitches) and get a left leaning decrease, and latter, K2tog (conventionally mounted stitches) and get a right leaning decrease.

It makes the purl rows a bit more interesting—and the knit rows fast!

Monday, October 19, 2009

3, 5, 8

Fibonacci sequence?

Yes, but that is not relevant (since for sure, the next number is not going to be 13!)

What it is, is a record of this weekend’s progress.

Saturday morning, 3 full lace pattern repeats had been completed, (and a new ball of the waterchestnut (pale peach) yarn started.

Sunday morning found 5 full repeats.

This morning 8 full repeats completed. I’ll have to check with the previous sweater—(which had 24 lace repeats) and see if I’ll need more (or fewer) or the same—but 8 is about 1/3rd of the lace repeats LIKELY—(I remember I did 24 repeats on the purple one—I didn’t measure, but tried on Rena’s sweater, liked how it fit, and counted.)

I’m loving this lace. I like the braided cable effect it creates.

It’s interesting—the simple traveling cable of the bronze gauntlets has a very different look (but a very similar stitch pattern) to the pattern used in the Cascade socks (more on them later this week)—this lace pattern has a very similar look, (branching/braided) to the bronze gauntlets, but absolutely no similarity in the knitting!

The stitch is from the Big Book of Knitting Stitches, with a single variation (1 stitch!) and its exactly what I wanted!

Friday, on the subway ride home, the gauntlets got gussets started (nattering nabobs of nepotism! That is a mouthful of G’s!) And remained untouched since then—they didn’t even get pulled out of the bag for a photo op.

I’ll do more of the gusset today, and maybe will have them finished by Wednesday. Just in time--for not wearing them!

Last week was uncharacteristically cold, (many near by communities has snow) today is cool and by the end of the week, milder (mid 60°’s/ (circa 16°c) weather will be back. (Mid 60° as a day time temp is normal about this time of the year)

And the original plan (to make them for wearing at work)? Well if this past week is any indication, I’ll need them for the commute. I’ll be wearing summery short sleeves at work (which is sauna like!) and the gauntlets will be needed out side, not in!

Outside, the locust tree has golden tipped branches, but most of the foliage on it (and other trees) is still green—but there have been cool nights, and the coleus plants have suffered. I snipped a healthy branch of one this morning and put it in water and those jells for rooting plants—the low angle of the sun makes the office sunnier than ever--the awning works great against the hot summer sun, but now, the sunshine streams in.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The gauntlets are galloping along!

By the time I got home yesterday (with no significant transit delays) I had a full 9 inches of gauntlet—I am still undecided on exactly how long they are going to be. Either below the elbow –about 12 inches, or above the elbow about 15 inches. At this point the 12 inch length is ahead in the polls…

But what ever I ultimately decide—I am more than half way done!

And more than 90% done with the first ball(s) of yarn. Looks like each gauntlet will require about 1.25 or so balls of yarn. The extra be put to work as a scarf--or cowl or gaiter or smoke ring.. or something for around the neck!

It’s fast knitting (compared say to socks) –the suggested needle is a US size 7/
4.5mm, but since the bulk of the gauntlet (the back and sides) are ribbed, I am working on a size 6/4.25—with 48 stitches. Operationally –2 on 2 circ’s—it feels like socks.. but these are knitting up faster than any socks would!

At home last night, the bias ribbon socks are out of sight, and out of mind.

But Peachy (as I have come to call it) is progressing—the colors in this image (on my monitor at least!) are closer to the actual colors.

The yoke is finished, the sleeves separated and on a stitch holder (a spare circ actually) and the first repeat of the lace pattern is done. I found a lace pattern with a very VERTICAL effect --intentionally--to provide contrast to the very HORIZONTAL stripe in the yoke.

It’s fun now, with all the changes—but it will become boring and drudgery all too quickly—I KNOW myself. It will take effort to keep knitting it –but I do like the finished length of my purple February Lady—and I plan to make this sweater about the same length. The sleeves of this sweater will be a bit longer—I tend to like ¾ sleeves—but I should have made the sleeves longer on the purple sweater—they are just a tad short of ideal

Thursday, October 15, 2009

5 inches –of 15—done!

I am loving them! The pattern (it might not look it) is very similar to the ripple pattern I used in the just completed Cascade socks. So I learned it in a heart beat.

After I yesterday’s blog post, I just kept knitting them.—at first, I was thinking from knuckles to elbow… but now I think I’ll extend them to just past the elbow.

No image at the moment--(tomorrow!)

The yarn, Patons Angora Bamboo is so soft and comfy—and I love the colorway—they call it Sienna Bronze—I think its more coppery than bronze colored—but what every you want to call it, it’s a lovely deep saturated color.

The thinking behind the gauntlets was warmth—my job (which is quite simple—mostly to just sit and look pretty) has me inches from the front door.

The thought was, drafts and chills and a need for warm clothing.

There might yet be a need for it-- But right now, the place is like an oven!

There is a radiator –a huge one, towards the back of the store—and it puts out thousands of BTU’s –today it’s 40 something degrees-outside—the expected high will be under 50° (about 10°c) and easily 70°( about 20°c) in the store.. and I have the front door WIDE open! (and the ceiling fan on, too!)

I am wearing a very light weight sweater.(a finely knit store bought one) –a synthetic one (not a very warm one) over a t-shirt. I have the sleeves of the sweater pushed up—to cool off my arms!

Things might change.. and I might find myself in need of warm clothing (for work) but I don’t know—and I don’t care! I love the yarn, love the color and I am loving knitting them!
(Which is what I am about to do!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Finished Object..

Just another pair of socks.. but they are quite nice.

I always like the socks I knit (I am vain that way) but these socks have garnered a lot of very nice complements –while in progress.
I loved the colorway—and I need blue socks—and a happy error resulted in a perfect stitch pattern.

I tend to like Patons Kroy—and think it represents a value (even if this pattern did require a third ball (for the last few rounds of the toes!) but the knitting is tight and dense—these will be nice warm socks.

I finished them last night—and today—in a good news/bad news sort of way, I got a few inches of the Angora Bamboo gauntlets done—Good news is the progress—bad news was the delays and inconvenience of the NYC subway system.
I suppose ALL methods of commuting have problems—but today I was most definitely not in the mood. I walked (underground) from 41st Street and the west side of times square(7th Avenue) to 40th and the east side of times square (Broadway) 2 short blocks then I was forced to walk to 42nd and 7th Avenue, then to 41st (back to were I started, with an extra 2 block detour!)

From there (7th Avenue and 40th street) I walked to 8th Avenue, ( and then 3 blocks uptown) to 8th Avenue and 43rd—Not really much of walk (a quarter mile or so) but up and down several flights of stairs (or long ramps, equal to a flight of stairs) made more onerous that just a short walk

There were the normal bumps and jostles that one expects—but I just wasn't much in the mood for this today. The time and inconvenience (crowding and lack of seats because of the problem, and 4 different trains to get home) were just more than I wanted to deal with today!

But enough.. Here's the indigo yarn that looked like a tangled mess on Sunday, but was not nearly as tangled or as bad as it looked.

Just ½ hours effort on Monday made the mess into neat, skeins. Tuesday, there were just a few hiccoughs turning the skeins into nice cakey balls.

--And soon enough, into denim socks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why, Yes, since you asked…

Yes, I have been knitting!

But first things first!
(note--I wrote this hours ago, and had photo image issues.. so there are updates)

Look at my lovely indigo blue sock yarn! Kelly (aka LICraftGal- who is sporting a cute curly new do) dyed it for me.
It looks all tangled and messy—but I suspect a good talking to, and a few minutes of coxing, and it will be on the swift and balled up in no time—(we’ll know by tomorrow!)

(Not balls, but finger combed smooth and twisted into nice neat skeins.. that will ball up fine!)

My queue of socks to knit (we’ll just pretend I don’t already own dozens and dozens of pairs) is growing faster than I am knitting.
  • --I want some black/white/grey ones (cause being a NYer, black is a staple of my wardrobe)—and I don’t much like knitting solid black.
  • --I want some more blue ones (indigo, and other blues)—to match my denims.
  • --Last year, I got some lovely purple Kroy yarn (from Robyn who was destashing) and my February Lady sweater is purple (and I have a good deal of purple in my wardrobe… (I like purple!)—so I need some purple socks.
  • --And I have been visiting Nanette’s blog to often—and even though they don’t fit into 90% of my shoes, I want some fancy color work socks. They are just too pretty!—(and all my left over bits and pieces of yarn are crying to become socks, too!)
So where am I with the current sock on needles?
Well at home socks are sitting around not making much progress (more on why that is so in a bit)

Subway socks have gussets and then some. I am into plain knitting now. The pattern is interesting, but it has a definite bias. Just look at this image!

This not a problem in the leg, and I think the heel is enough to counter the effect, but I don’t want twisting socks on my foot—so the pattern ended with the gusset. (By now, I have a bit over 6 or so inches of the foot knit.. an other 1.5 inches since I started this post earlier today--and only need 9 and a smidge to finish them)

I’ve decided on a pattern for my Angora Bamboo gauntlets. I vaguely wanted a cable of some sort, since the soft yarn needs a pattern to buck it up. I had an idea, and then saw exactly want I wanted on Zippiknits blog—in her Socktober socks. (Now find the stitch pattern –I am sure I have it somewhere in some stitch dictionary.) Done!

And unfaithful friend that I am, I have ignored the almost done Teal shrug to start and work on an Almost February Lady.

Almost because I’ve made so many modifications, it’s really just a similar top down raglan, rather than a proper February Lady.

First off—the cast on. A very important consideration in a top down sweater.The cast on edge supports the bulk of the sweater.. (and any number of February Lady’s get way too stretched out at the neck)
I went with a Tubular cast on (in purl)—it’s stretchy –but to a limit. Enough to look good—but not enough to get to stretched out.

Then the yarn—hand painted –beautiful as they are—are mostly out of my budget—and while I could have overdyed some pastel yarn and gotten a semi solid in a darker color-(something I have frequently done for sock yarn) I wasn’t interested in doing that for all the skeins I would need for a sweater.

So I decided on a striped yoke—Alternating Peach (the color way name is water chestnut—but I’ve never seen a water chestnut this shade—it is the soft peach of pickled ginger) and Dark Salmon—(the color way is labeled Current) but when I grew red currents they were never this color!

The bulk of the sweater (the lace) will be in the lighter peach tone.

A final refinement is the inclusion of short rows in the back-without short rows or other shaping—sweaters like this ‘self adjust’ with wearing--the back rides up and the front sags.

(Do I have to mention that I will be using a different lace pattern, too?)

Peach (well orange) is compliment to blue—and I like the excitement that high contrast offers. (and back to where I started, I’ll need some socks to coordinate with this sweater, won’t I? Paton (the sweater is being knit in Patons Classic Merino wool) has a lovely copper colorway in the Fx sock yarn—So that’s one more pair of socks to knit!

I am 4 rows (2 stripes) 2 rows/1 stripe away from separating the sleeves from the yoke and working the body. The rows are long now—but striping helps make them interesting.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Turn, turn, turn

One heel of the subway socks is turned (well, it’s 90% turned) and today the second heel will be turned, and gusset stitches picked up and the race is on to finished socks!

In general, the heel is the half way point of the sock. I find that if I fold my socks, (at the heel) the toe and cuff just about line up. Sometimes, one half is a round or two longer, but with out putting to fine a point on it--the heel is half way—in reality.

But not mentally! Mentally once the heel is done, the rest of the sock seems to fly by.

Partly, it’s because all the decisions have been made.
I’ve cast on (so many choices!)
And knit a cuff (1 X1 ribbing? or 2 X 2? or 2 X 1? Or some other pattern?
There is even an option of no ribbing at all! (There are so many options!)

Picked out a stitch pattern, (or not!) learned it as I knit it—this can be a simple task, or not so simple depending on the stitch pattern.

The heel is another set of decisions--flap/turn/gusset?
Afterthought? Short row? Novelty?

Soon after the heel, the patterning ends (well most often it does--sometime continue a pattern to the toe—but most often, I end the pattern somewhere in the middle ground of toe and heel.

Plain knitting, (especially on the subway!) goes fast!
Plus—there is nothing to think about. I can just knit.
I’ve just knit and knit and knit. Sometimes, to the point that the foot is past my big toe, (with out any shaping!)— More than once, I’ve had to frog the foot of sock.

One part of planning is measure the foot against the leg—but sometimes, I get caught up in the knitting and forget!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Economic Politics

I don’t usually write political essays… but …

When I was a kid, we lived in tenement apartments
These are (were) simple building, with 6 to 20 apartments, always 5 to 6 (more often 5) stories tall. They weren’t slummy, just low income. Simple no frills housing.

In NYC, a six floor building (vs. a 5 floor building) requires an elevator—elevators are more expensive than stairs—and the most inexpensive housing didn’t have elevators.

And in NYC, our gravity feed water system works (on water pressure alone) to about 60 to 75 feet –building taller than this (that is to say building with more than 6 stories) require a water tower –(the iconic image of NYC includes rooftop water tanks—each building over 6 stories high (be they commercial or residential) has one.

Lower income buildings, (low rent building) were 5 stories tall--No elevator, no water tank—these are what I mean when I say tenement. Decent housing, but no frills.

But many of them are gone. Abandon in the bad old days.

Well there was rent control-- And because of rent control, many times the rent roll didn’t cover the cost of the building, (the mortgage, the maintenance, and the taxes.)

But they struggled along. Why? Well for a while the Tax law made it reasonable.
A landlord could buy a building, and depreciate the cost (100%) over 5 years.

And this ‘tax loss’ meant –that if no more money was invested, the building could, just break even, (and occasionally, even make some money)

Then the tax law changed. Instead of 5 years, depreciation took 20 years.

That change spurred (in late 1960’s /1970’s) mass abandonment of building.
Whole neighborhoods were abandon. The poor (the working poor, not welfare, or illegal immigrants) found themselves virtually homeless.
Squatter and drug dealers moved into abandon building. Junkies striped them for the copper water pipes, and copper wiring. Vermin overran neighborhoods.

Things have changed. (And not all for the good) there are fewer abandon buildings--And there is less low income housing in NYC.
More and more people need to work 2 jobs to pay rent. People are crowded into overpriced spaces. (There is more homelessness)

Other laws, beside the tax law changed. Rent control still exist, but its going away. Once an apartment is vacated, it become ‘rent stabilized’ –which is the start of slow but insidious process of increasing the rent till it is ‘normalize’
There is still a housing shortage, (and with demand outstripping supply, high rents are the norm.)

And once abandon building have been refurbished, and are once again providing decent housing. The cost of the housing is high, and the building are profitable (and maintained) –the landlords make money from rent rolls, not from paper losses. (And as captains of industry go, being a NYC landlord is not the way to get rich quick—while everyone hates them, there are few RICH landlords.)

Today-- the housing in NYC is better in many ways. The oldest of the tenements, are gone, and some new housing has gone up to replace it.
Other tenements were rebuilt, (and as “new housing” not rent controlled.)
But the problem we once had with housing, is now gone corporate—and not locally, but nationally.

Today’s NYTimes has an article on Simmons (mattress) company, and how it went from a profitable business to bankrupt in several ‘sales’.

The corporate owners weren’t interested in mattresses –only in making money.
They bought the company, saddled it with debt, and paid themselves fat salaries and bonuses for wisdom of their decisions. And when the debt exceeded the value, they walk away (or rather bail out with golden parachutes) and left the company to go down in flames.

Today, our tax laws encourage this behavior.
Our landscape is littered with abandon factories, with out of work employees, with debt, (and failures to pay the bond holders and stockholder who invested) and a few greedy individuals are behind it. (OK, so a few is a few thousand, but still a very small percentage of population.)

These greedy individuals want money with out work--And are contemptuous of those of us who work for money.

We need to change the way we do business, and they way corporations are managed. Managing a business to bankruptcy isn’t managing. It’s looting.

And it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t have tax laws that encourage looting.

Friday, October 02, 2009

My Cheating Heart

The Subway socks have an inch or so of heel flap knit. (no photo right now)--slow but steady progress is being made.

My at home socks are (w)edging their way upward. (The bias pattern has a wedge shape—with the center front ‘higher’ than the center back)—no image of these either, today.

And there, all innocent like, sit stitches on the needle for a pair (the first pair of what will be a few!) of arm warmers.
Yeah, arm warmers.. Long enough to come up to (or rather, in this case, down from) the elbow, cover the wrist, but leave the fingers bare.

The yarn is (yes, I succumbed) Patons new Bamboo angora, (a blend of 55% bamboo, 35% wool, and 10% angora) –it’s super soft, and has very little memory.So lace is out of the running for the stitch work--the resulting ‘sleeves would be so loose as to be useless!

I am into bias knitting at the moment—maybe a series of V or wedges down the center front.

But, for now, they are just sitting, waiting for (detailed!) inspiration.

But I am itching to knit them --and the past few days, have been cold --15° below normal for the daytime, and colder still at night—Next week will be closer to ‘normal’ (about 66° f/circa 17° c)—but daily, the average normal is cooler and cooler—Colder days are acoming!

And maybe something for my neck, too.. Not a scarf.. but something!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What is the BEST Cast on?

Or the best way to knit?
Or the best way to bind off?
Or the best …..

The search for the BEST is perennial on Knitting boards—be it Knitty’s coffee shop, or Knitter’s Review, or Ravelry.. (or any of the many others!)

The answer:
BEST is subjective--And often conditional!

The best cast on for lace is not the best cast on for a heavy (duty) men’s sweater.

The best cast on for socks? Well that depends on which directions you are working in--Toe up? Or Cuff down!

Do you need or want a super stretch cast on?
Or do you need and want a very attractive cast on?
Are you looking for durability? Or elasticity? Or some combination of traits?
There is no cast on that is best for everything!

I am (as many of you know) somewhat obsessed with cast on (and hats, and double knitting, well let’s go off track and discuss my obsessions!) and I have made some video’s demonstrating how to do them.

Well there are more video’s (and more to come!) of cast on’s and there will be videos for bind offs, and increases, and decreases, and special techniques, and links to other great videos--(There are so many out there!)

To make them easier to find, I have a new blog, dedicated just to showcasing my videos--Well I do include some links to other videos, too, because well, good as think my video’s are, you get to decide which one is best for you!

It’s organized, and indexed—and specialized. Here is a link (but there is also a link on left column, (and you can find another link on the about page of this blog.)

It’s still under construction—and will be for some time.. (I have a very ambitious index!) but its open for business as of today.