Thursday, September 27, 2012


Took hours. I started before noon—with a good 20 minute soak of the shawl to get it good and wet—It really takes a long time for wool to be throughly wet. Then I squeezed out the excess water, and rolled the shawl in a towel to remove more water.

Previous to that, I had prepared my work area—the floor was cleared, vacuumed and washed, plastic put down, and then my styrene panels. Pins were at the ready, and the brushes, water and the paints.

Finally I spread the shawl on the prepared surface and stretched it out. I could have stretched and blocked it harder (It went from just short of 60 inches to 66 inches)But—my priority was painting, not blocking.

Still just pinning it out took an hour. By then, part of the shawl had already dried a bit—and so it got misted with water to re dampen.

Then came the painting. I started in the center, and worked my way out—Reaching to the center (from the side) was possible, but starting on the second tier--(second chart, too) I had to get up, walk around the perimeter, and re-position my self. The third and forth tier needed several re-positioning maneuvers.

And by the fourth (outer most) tier, a re-misting—too. By that time (3 hours later!) part of the shawl were in direct sun light—and drying out faster than other--an open door to the outside (terrace) and nice breeze contributed to the quick drying.

I wasn't done with the painting till close to 4PM—and by then I was exhausted!

Tuesday evening I went to knit night—and was already feeling the effects of all the squatting, bending, twisting and reaching—both my legs and my back were registering their disapproval of the afternoons work.

Yesterday—(and today) I still have residual discomfort--I am feeling my age--(this would have never bothered me in the past)--but on the other hand--it's not so bad---I took some aspirin to sleep--but I really wasn't in pain all day--and was able to get stuff done--some discomfort, yes, but agony? NO.

But—who cares? Like Monet said, the pain passes, and beauty remains. I love the results. The colors are paler and more muted than on the swatch—but the results are still glorious. I won't steal the show at my daughters wedding (Her dress? Stunning, breathtakingly stunning!)--but I won't be a wall flower either!

I coddled my aching body yesterday—and realized, by the uncomfortable tickle in the back of my throat, that I have caught a cold--that is just starting.   A second good reason to take some ease. And some Vitamin C—I swear by extra Vit. C for a cold—not mega doses—but rather small ones--(100mg)--but 1 dose every hour. This keeps my body  awash with plenty of the vitamin. 

Mega doses really don't work as well--your body excretes the excess-and it can only really use 60 to 100mg in an hour.  Many small doses are really much more effective than a single large dose.  

It might be just wishful thinking on my part—but I am convinced it works. It's not harmful, its cheap enough—and it makes me feel better. But between the achy feeling in my legs and back, and the uncomfortable feeling in the back of my throat--I didn't do much yesterday.  Well I returned the living room to a semblance of order—the blocking bits are put away, area rug is back in place--(but the vacuum and mop still haven't been put away--but then I have more cleaning to do--you might remember--I just repaired my vacuum 2 weeks ago--so there is a backlog of cleaning to do)

Mostly what I did was admire my handy work! (and made frequent checks to Facebook and Ravelry to garner praise.) I don't feel much worse today--but different.  My legs and back are less painful, but my nose is a bit congested--and I am sneezing and showing other symptoms of a cold.   I plan to take it easy the next few days—I don't want to have anything more than a cold--(no complications of nasal infections, or bronchitis.)

I got a little bit more of the Diamond Brocade Vest done last night—skein 4 has bit the dust—and the length is just past 9 inches—This is working out fine. One more skein for length--before I divide up the work into fronts, armholes and back.  I'll have half the wool (5 full skeins) to work the top 8 or so inches--with plenty left over for binding the armholes and other finishing details.  It will end up being a nice long vest—and I'll have it finished just in time for the cooler weather.

Today the plan is to continue to take it easy—but also to get some sewing done--(there is this dress I need to make!) I can't just wear the shawl alone!

This weekend is the NYC Makers Faire—I am volunteering to work (teaching Knitting for the TNNA)
and my DIL Sonya will be in town, too.  -(She is a Maker at the fair) If I want to have energy for this weekend, I need to take care of myself for the next few days.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Am Exhausted

 And my back hurts—but its all in a good cause. I spent several hours this afternoon painting my shawl.

It's still damp (it actually dried out too fast, and I had to use a spray bottle of water to re moisten it). I wanted the paints to bleed as I painted, and that works best if the fabric is damp.

   By the time I was done, my left hand was several colors of the rainbow—I could have worn gloves, but I wanted to be able to feel if the paint was dripping (and drip it did at times)--and gloves—while they would have kept my fingers clean, also would have left me with less sensation.

So here is the first glimpse—By afternoon—the sun is full in the window—and I get strong sunlight and shadows (from the door jam, and the coffee table leg) –and its not the best view. The strong sun light washes out the color a bit, the shadows create unevenness... but still you get the idea—Amazing!

I started in the center and worked my way out. The colors and paint are uneven (which is fine—I don't want the look of something machine printed, or even some thing (block) printed—because some parts dried faster than others (the open door and gentle breeze plus the sun light made a big difference!) and I had to stop and spritz the shawl to keep it evenly damp—or close to evenly damp. 

I have another inch worked on the vest--(and will do more tonight) but I am taking it easy for the rest of the day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Not Quite 3 Inches--Doubled

 My vest have doubled—from not quite 3 inches to twice that and then some. It's just about to 7 inches, now. And there is still enough yarn in the skein for another row. What with the cast on and the first few rows of garter—the yield for the first skien was just 2 inches. Since then, I've decreases a bit for a bit of waist shaping (the decreases are actually a bit to steep—but I'll live with them as they are) and the simpler brocade which has a row gauge closer to stocking knit than to garter-- means each skien is yielding a bit more than 2 inches.

So 7 inches knit from 3 skeins, and skein 3 still has enough yarn for another row and then some. 

The next 3 skeins will easily bring the underarm length to 13 inches—maybe even 14 inches. Easily, the vest will be a nice length.

I had hoped to paint the shawl today—but I am still involved in setting up (getting the floor cleared, cleaned and covered up!) The paints bled quite a bit on the sample. Nothing ruined—but I don't want to end up painting my floor (or area rug—which is also wool!) or anything else.

But since there have been so many questions (some here, many more on my Golden Apples Facebook page)about the painting process—I thought I would take this opportunity to explain a bit.

What I am using to paint the shawl are silk PAINTS—the ones I am using are made by Jacquard—a name many might know for their silk and wool dyes. The paints come in 2 oz bottles of concentrated color. I purchased them at a (not to local) art supply store. (There are other brands--but this is all my art store stocked) 
I used some inexpensive paint brushes (art paint brushes) to paint the colors on—at full strength. (I have lots of art supplies --from years of fine art work and craft work--always handy) 

The colors can be set 2 ways, one by a Dye set concentrate—the second way by steaming. (I am going to use a “steam mop” to steam the shawl to set the colors. —I don't mind if the colors aren't 100% color fast—the shawl isn't going to be washed that often.  The first time I wash it, I will use a vinegar in the wash  water (and hot water) to help set the colors, too. (I am going to suggest that Joyce use a spray bottle (and not immersion) to dampen the shawl for blocking.

I bought 8 different colors—a combination of blues, greens, and blue-greens, as well a some purple, yellow and brown. For the placement of the colors—I just used a peacock feather! The sample swatch helped—It's hard to judge some of the colors--(one blue was way darker than I thought it would be..) Fortunately, this is not the sort of project that needs careful and precise color placement—Rather just the opposite. I like how the various shade of blues and greens bled and blended. I worked with the wool damp—but I could have gotten sharper lines (if that was what I wanted) with the wool (or silk) dry.

The small bottles go far—there is a HUGE amount of paint in each. (I don't think you could easily measure (on digital scale for home use) the amount of paint I used for the swatch—I don't think I will end up using half of any one bottle for the whole shawl. They are not very expensive (all 8 bottle cost under $25—which isn't really very much when you consider the value of the shawl (the knitting, not the basic cost of the wool). They can be used to paint “blanks” (knit squares—that get unraveled) or to paint finished objects (as well as to paint silk—for works of art, or for scarves, or...)

I have used these silk dyes before—many years ago, it was the style to have hand painted silk scarves—and, of course, me, being me, had to design and paint my own silk—and not buy a mass produced (well semi mass produced) one. I worked in a fabric store then, and could by silk at a discount—but a yard and quarter (basically 45 inches by 45 inches) made 4 22 inch square scarves—for not too much of an investment.. Another 2 yard, made 2 36 inch square scarves, and long rectangular one.(9 inches by 72). 3 yards (and bit) of silk, at $10 a yard gave me 7 scarves for under $40--(the hand painted ones each sold for $10)—so it was a not much cheaper (with the cost of the paints) but I ended up with really one of kind designs.

A few years ago, I used the same silk paint to update some beautiful (but yellowed with age) silk lampshades for my daughter. She was unhappy with the lamps (and shades) she had inherited from her grandparents when she bought their apartment—but also strapped for cash (isn't every new home owner?!) and couldn't afford to re-do everything she wanted to do—at least not right away.

I helped by updated the lamp shades. Using a silk paint, and painting them red, then adding a fringe—one I had in my stash of sewing supplies--change the look so dramatically. Well-- she has redone just about everything in the apartment in the past 10 years—except the lamp shades!--She is still happy with their new look.

I hadn't asked her permission to paint them—I just listened to what she liked, and went to work. I was prepared to replace the shades if she hated the final result-- but she was very pleased (which made me happy!) Personally, I think they are, well, bordering on tacky being red with long black fringe—but my daughter is her own person, and I accept we have different tastes.

I also made her some new throw pillows (again to update the look) and I made a custom switch plate for bathroom light, too. --At the time, her bathroom d├ęcor was Hello Kitty themed—and I made her a switch plate with a big flower in Hello Kitty pink—Not really a copy right infringement—but in the same basic style as Hello Kitty's flower headband. I did what I could to help her out—as any mother would. She wasn't very impressed with the switch plate (OK, she liked it, but wasn't wowed)--but she was really impressed by the change the paint and fringe made—and was generally surprised by just the idea of painting the silk shade. She claims she never would have thought to do it. (And maybe she is right—If you aren't familiar with silk paint—well, you might not realize you could change the color of lamp shade!)

This plan to hand paint (the shawl) —well it just part of life long behavior for me. I love being able to make small art—small one of kind things for personal enjoyment and a personal sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Hodge Podge of Topics

First—The swatch was painted—and I love it. It will be fun painting the shawl—It won't quite be the same—I think some colors could be moved/ less prominent. But I like the overall effect, and I like how the center of the feather (the eye) come out. Do the colors surprise you? 

Until you look closely at a peacock feather (something I have been doing now for months!) you often fail to realize just how many colors there are in one—Everyone thinks about the blue green (peacock!) turquoise color but these feathers are body feather (and the background of the medallion)—but often over look the purples, browns and bronzes, the lime green—that are more common in the eye of the feather.  So  many colors!--have you ever really seen them before?

Socks? Nothing to report. (nothing done)

Vest—well enough done that you can see the beginning of the pattern. I think a small over all textured pattern like this is just right for a simple vest. Its enough to keep the knitting interesting, and enough to make an interesting fabric—but not too much. It's still hard to see much--its all bunched up on a circ.  Not quite three inches isn't very much to see, either.  

But its coming along.  I'll knit about 12 inches before I start the armholes—then another 7 or so till the neck shaping.. it will finish up about 20 inches long. I have 10 balls (50g) and the first 2 inches used up 1 ball.  But I am going to be decreasing soon--giving the vest a bit of shaping. And there will be fewer stitches come the armholes--but  it will use up most of the yarn. 

 It would be faster to knit with worsted weight—but finer yarns, and smaller needles make a nicer fabric in many ways—It's so worth the effort—at least some of the time.  The color is a bit off (well at least on my monitor.) It is actually a bit darker, browner-- But it is a warm, orangey brown--not a chocolate one. 

My top? Lots of adjustments to make.. It's too loose at the top (shoulders and above the bust) and too tight below (midriff)--I'll undo most of the seams, trim where needed, and put together again. Its the sort of thing that makes me very happy I am working with something other than my good fabric!

Some other contributions to this hodge podge—a recipe (and a memory of one)

Long, long ago, (circa the 1970's) I had a super simple recipe for cocktail franks and meatballs—in a sweet and tangy sauce. The sauce was deceptively simple: take 1 6oz jar (the kind that became a juice glass after) of grape jelly, plus 1 6 oz jar of mustard (the recipe called for the yellow kind, but it worked better with a coarse spicy one even better). Cook together over low heat, stirring frequently till the jelly is melted, and the sauce was heated. Add the cocktail franks and meatballs, and continue to cook until they are warmed. Serve.

The sauce is something like a honey mustard—the grape jelly adds a sweet—a fruity note—a bit different than honey; the mustard adds the spicy tang. Everyone liked it, (especially the cook). It sounds weird—but it worked. I haven't made it years (do they still sell little jars of grape jelly in re usable glasses?)--but I know it would be as good today as it was all those years ago. The sweet spice blend works. (even if this recipe  has gone out of style.)

This summer, at the pool, I came across another weird recipe—for a wine spritzer—and this one, too, works. Start with Dr Brown's cream soda. OK-- it doesn't have to be Dr Brown's--(even though Dr. Brown's is the best) but certainly—a really good quality cream soda.

I realize Dr. Brown's is a regional brand--(for sure, its not available on the west coast—My son misses Dr Brown's Black Cherry soda (with natural cherry flavor))--and real NY'ers enjoy Dr. Brown's Cel-ray soda--(the best thing to drink with a deli sandwich!)-as a local specialty. There are, likely, some other excellent brands of cream soda out there—but I can only speak to this recipe working with Dr. Brown's.

Mix the soda with your favorite wine (red is suggested, but it went well with white wine, too) 50/50, and serve over ice. I know, it sounds awful—but it's not—it's really quite good! It's the Maritza Spritza--(name for Maritza who brought the cream soda for our enjoyment)--We all thought it was weird, and that it wouldn't work. But we all tried it, and liked it, and had it, with of all things, pizza.
So try it yourself—you can mix it up by the glass full—with an inexpensive wine at your next picnic or pizza party.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Progress, Progress, Progress

My swatch knit –and just blocked (and photographed)--next,  (not to be seen till tomorrow--) the painting. The straight needle is subbing for a blocking wire--and sorry for the poor contrast--I am blocking painting it on an old (stained) kitchen towel--and that what I had. I need something cotton and absorbent and this was the best choice at hand.

My sock cuffs are completely knit, and grafted and stitches picked up. I still haven't decided on a leaf pattern for the leg—so they are stalled there.. Still there is a visible change since yesterday--but I am not showing you--once I get started--well there will be something to see. 

My "muslin" (not) top has been  cut (from a lovely chocolate brown poly-cotton)--and today I will get started on sewing it up. It's really a very fast to sew top—It's the fitting and altering I might need to do that will take the time. The sewing, not so much.

Mountains of garbage (junk mail and shredded paper work) have been thrown out, too. Most of it was just a back log of stuff that I just didn't pay attention to during the summer. But it makes a big difference—How quickly junk mail and paper work just pile up and make a mess.

My kitchen is getting a good going over too—My toaster oven died—and there is one on sale (a convection/toaster over!) so I am getting everything spiffy before I buy the new one. There is a bunch of accumulated clutter in the kitchen, too. I found not 1, not 2, but 3 open packages of crackers.  I sometime brought crackers and hummus as a snack to the pool—and clearly—I didn't keep track of the open stacks of crackers.

The good news is—I  didn't just snack on crackers--(I have open left over partial stacks!)  I love salty/sweet snacks—and salty crackers are close to the top of the list!  I was able to eat some (a serving (or maybe 1 and half servings) and  then I stopped.
(I didn't even snack on them as I tidied up, but packed them away in tin—and will eat them slowing, in measured servings.) This is a real change--(a hard one!) that I am working at –to change my eating habits.

I've cast on, too, a for another project-- A vest—a spicy brown one. The yarn is Knit Pick's Swish—a super wash DK weight wool. The plan is for a pretty simple vest, knit in one piece to the arm holes—with just a bit of texture. So far, not even a single repeat, (nor even a inch of knitting) of the simple knit and purl diamond stitch pattern I am using has been completed—so there isn't much to see.
Even I can't see the pattern yet—and have to pay attention to what I am doing. It will get easier after I have a few repeats done. (And its all bunched up on too short a circ, too. I know I have a longer one—but it went into hiding).

It's worked out nicely—the yarn suggests that 22 stitches =4 inches (on a US size 5 needle) and sure enough that's what I get. From there, it's simple math. 22 stitches=4 inches, 220 stitches =40 inches.

But 40 inches aren't enough—add another 22 +22(one for measure, one for ease) and the count is up to 264. A few more stitches for front bands.. The stitch pattern is an 8 stitch repeat. How convenient—22=3X8. No need for complex figuring or adding or subtracting to have the pattern fit the stitch count—with the addition of 1 stitch—it's even centered.

I love vests—way more than sweaters—they are faster to knit (sleeves are almost 1/3rd of sweater!) and work better for me. They are warm enough—with out being too warm. I have half a dozen knit sweaters—and it's rare for me to wear them more than 2 or 3 times in season. But vests? I have more—and they are worn (and washed) pretty frequently. There is always room for another.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Swatch

That's been about it for knitting—and I am not even done with the swatch!

It's free hand--after knitting feather motif after feather motif, I more or less have the hang of it, and since I wanted a more rectangular shape (vs a wedge shape) I am working free hand.. Not looking at the chart at all to make this swatch.

It doesn't have to be a perfect match—just a close one. The most important part is the center (the stocking knit part) of the feather. The yarn looks (and feels) very different—and it is. It is heavier-fingering weight vs cobweb, and it is smoother—especially now, since it is coated with a wax.

Most coned yarn, intended for knitting machines, are coated with a water soluble wax. After I wash this yarn, it will bloom and be softer and have a bit of halo. It will then look more like the yarn I used for the shawl. This yarn also has a bit of silk added, (10%) vs the 100% merino wool—but I don't think that will make much of difference. Besides, in addition to this swatch, the few remaining yards of the shawl yarn will be knit up into a simple stocking knit rectangle and used for a color test swatch--just to make sure the yarns pick up the colors the same.

Once both swatches are completed, I will stretch them out, into  rectangles, and paint, while still damp. I want the colors to run and to have blends, not clear colors “with in the lines”.
The lace swatch will be to try out where each color goes, the plain swatch will be to check out how the colors absorb—just in case there is a noticeable difference.

I have also started another pair of socks.. These will have a crosswise knit lace band. I haven't even finished the band yet. But I have finally got the pattern down. It's a bit more complex than it looks at first glance. There are increases (and a single decrease) on the wrong side rows (as well as on the right side rows. I started with a few rows of stocking knit that will be undone when I finish the length—the  last row of the pattern will be grafted to the first row—making a seamless band to start.

The body of the socks will continue the leaf motif—a natural for this green yarn, don't you think?

And, (about time!) I've started my “muslin” (not muslin, but also not the silky, grey, satiny crepe) of the top I intend for the dress for the wedding. I haven't started sewing yet—just organizing the pattern pieces, and pinning out the ones I intend to use. I am not doing a mock up of the skirt—I have made A-line skirts before (and recently) and I am not worried about the fit of the skirt. 

But princess seams? I want a nice fit. And this will be a good test run for another princess seamed pattern I have—the second pattern is more casual--a jacket like shirt--but I am sure I will learn things about the fit from this top.  I am small busted, and smaller in the shoulder than would be normal for my size.  I want a nice fit--and it might take some adjusting to get it right.

Later, when I make a jacket like shirt top--(and matching gored skirt) I'll end up with a better fit--this next top(and skirt)  will be from some of the cotton that is getting pre-washed and pre-shrunk.

I like the look of matching tops and skirts (vs a dress) sometimes--especially for a good fit. The cotton pieces will also lend themselves to being matched with other skirts and tops. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What a Week.

 All sorts of good stuff to report. (I am working hard to focus on the good stuff).

First—Striped socks completed. See? All knit, and finished too.

Striped socks
This is FO 3 for this week. Which is pretty amazing. I don't think I have ever finished 3 things in a week before—not even when I went on a kick to clean up and finish up a whole bunch of UFO's.

Getting back to the socks. They are a pretty generic socks—with just a few detail to make them special—The garter band as mitered corners –and there is a slit at the out side “seam”.--which isn't very evident in the images.
A view of banded heel

The heels are afterthought—done with a bit of care—an effort was made to have the stripes match-- at the back of the heel--(not, of course on the sole—it's pick on or the other), and have a banded construction, as do the toes. Banding as a way to finish a heel is a bit tedious to do--but well I did it anyway. With very simple socks, I think its important to have some special details.
second view of band on heel

The yarn is basic stuff—Kroy Jacquard sock yarn in the Cameo color way.

Then last night, I cast on some stitches for my Peacock (painting) Shawl swatch- Just 3 feathers—to experiment with -they don't look like much now, but LOOK at the time! 

 Less than 4 weeks till the wedding and the shawl still needs to be painted and blocked, my dress made, and my daughters wedding coat made. I had better get cracking!

Lace swatch
Any other good thing I did this week was laundry. 7 loads of laundry. A remarkable amount of laundry.. but more remarkable--All of it has been washed, dried, folded and put away! OK, well not the socks, they are were set out flat to dry,  and still need to be put away. But all the other stuff is away.

A big bag of clothes (too big for me now clothes) have packed for recycling, too. That freed up a lot of space for putting clean clothes away. 

Seven loads of wash! Well--some of it was really house cleaning—Floor mat 1 (of 3) got washed. It was a small 100% wool rug—in bright yellow. OK, not the best color for a floor mat by the entrance door, and it looked awful--filthy, and the bright yellow had been sullied to  a dull dingy  greyish yellow.  I figured machine washing it couldn't make it any worse—and might make it better. It survived—and looks better. Not perfect—so at some point, I will need something new—but I love these yellow mats. Next time I do laundry, the second one will get washed. Right now, it looks worse--sitting as it is next to the newly cleaned one. But that  won't be for long.

These mats are a perfect match for my yellow computer alcove--(it's not quite a room—size wise or legally (no window)  and just inside the front door and the first line of defense   The third mat, (by the terrace door) is machine washable—and not wool, so there is no question it will look better for getting washed. Other cleaning (masquerading as laundry) includes some curtains and throw pillows--and these need to be washed, too. So I will be doing a good bit of laundry for the next few weeks.

Another load of wash was really sewing. At the beginning of the summer, I bought and made some dresses and skirts out of cheap precut lengths—of 100% cotton. And totally forgot, 100% cotton shrinks. The clothes still fit--Cotton shrinks more in length than width—(my width shrunk a bit, too, over the summer) But they are a little shorter than I planned. So I decided to plan ahead and get some of the remaining lengths of cotton pre-washed (and preshrunk)--so one load of wash was just clean fabric.

So a half dozen pieces of  pre washed  cotton has been ironed, and put away. The next time I do laundry, a few remaining pieces will be pre-washed.  

Then when I get around to sewing some winter wear-- All of the 100% cotton pieces will be pre-washed and preshrunk and ready to go. While I had the iron out, all the newly washed clothes (made with the other cotton), got ironed, too.

The last unexpected load (well not really unexpected—just seasonal) was the collections of  Pool (beach)  towels. There are just 6 of them (the oldest is over 25 years old!) but they are over sized—and 6 makes up the best part of a load of wash (2 half loads—one for the mostly white towels, another for the mostly dark ones).  Some weren't really that dirty--but it makes sense to wash them before putting them away for the season.  They are the last bit of pool stuff to be packed away. 

Finally, I got my vacuum cleaner fixed too. (It had a blown fuse- and hasn't been working for an embarrassing long time) I've been sweeping (with my swiffer) and vacuuming with my hand held—but everything really needs a good vacuum.  I  didn't actually get any  vacuuming done (well one corner of one room) but at least now, I can.

A much better week than I expected at this time last week.  I am better, and things around the house are too. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Peculiar Sock Math

Where 5 inches equals a foot (minus a toe (2.25 inches) and heel, another 2.25 inches). And that is where the striped socks are now. 5 inches of foot knit. Today, the toes, tomorrow the heels and finishing and they will be socks. Nice progress.  With out a proper heel (yet) they don't look like much (a tube) and don't fit on LEGS--So there is not much to see until they are done

Wingspan got its wedge and its edge, and finished, too. 10 or so yards of yarn left—not too wasteful—and not so close or tight that I was worried about having enough.

I like—well, sort of. I like the idea of it, and I like how the colors worked out. I like the yarn, and the feel of it. But I don't know if I will like wearing it. It's too much fabric at my neck. I don't like a lot fabric round my neck—I love scoop necks, and V-necks, and open collars. I make cowls, but I don't much like wearing them. I like the idea of cowls, but, I rarely end up wearing them. They are popular—with most everyone but me.

The local tempts have to drop below 0°F (-17/18°c) before I think about wearing something close around my neck. Tempts sometimes drop that low in NYC, but not often. And most often when they do, I can avoid going out into the cold. I think this scarf is falls into the category of only useful when the tempts fall low—and since I already have half a dozen scarf and cowls that also fit the bill....

It's likely to find a home with some one else. Maybe my DIL when she comes to NY later this month, for the NYC Makers's Faire. She loves to wrap scarves round her neck. I have to restrain myself from undoing them--She always looks like she is strangling herself to me! The colors aren't her first choice.. but they wouldn't be her last choice either. She's been busy this year sewing—and hasn't done much knitting. She might really like having a new scarf to add to her wardrobe.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Wedge And an Edge

 Every day, I feel better—physically and mentally. Tuesday's evenings trip to the Dr. for a regularly scheduled check up showed I am healthier..(blood test results show all sorts of improvements—less of what there should be less of, more of what there should be more, nothing there shouldn't be.) And I can see I am healing; bruises are rapidly fading, discomfort is less. (My split lip has healed to the point where it is itchy-it doesn't count at pain, but Oh, it is itchy!)

Yesterday, Lost at DVM socks were finished. I intended to post about them yesterday, too, but the opportunity to spend time with a friend was much more attractive. N's a knitter too, but we have more in common than just knitting.

We both got some knitting done, too, as we spent time together, and then,I got more done last night. Now my Wingspan scarf has 7 wedges (and there is almost no yarn left). There is plenty to complete the final wedge which will balance out the colors—and likely a bit more. But not enough to even think about making it bigger. I'll see how it ends up—as written—with eight wedges. (and some 400 yards)  If I like it enough--well there is plenty more yarn that would be suitable for another one.

I don't think the final wedge will be perfectly cooperative and end just at the point of the color change. Likely I will need to cut the yarn and remove the last few yards of the green—Then I can start the edge with the purple. The skein ends at the darkest part of the purple. Since I am going to cut the yarn anyway, I will re-wind the left over yarn into a small center pull ball, making the outside into the inside, and start the edging strip with darkest part of the purple. I see no reason that it won't be done today.

I did a bit of work on the other pair of socks, too, they still need inches (2) before the foot is done, and the toes. After that, I need to add the afterthought heels—so there is quite a bit of work to do. It won't be long till they are done, too.

But as soon as finish the Wingspan, I will cast on for the swatch of lace to practice hand painting with.

I have lots of lace weight (not cobweb weight) merino I can use. And yes, every yarn does take up dye and paint differently—but merino is merino, and I think any one is a good sub. (I might make a mini swatch of stocking knit with the few yards left of the cobweb weight yarn to be double check!)

Then what? Well a slight break from knitting I think as I work on my dress, and other sewing projects. I need to take in some clothes (if I am going to keep them) and get rid of some clothes (if I decide they are not worth altering.) I gave N some silk blouses that just aren't worth altering. Silk tailored blouses are of the few things we share in our taste for clothes—but my bag of clothes for recycling will include some silk sweaters—in a style N doesn't like—so the wealth will be spread around.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


How can I not be.

It's September 11th again, and it's a Tuesday, and while its not severe clear, it is a clear bright day, cool and fall like just like it was 11 years ago.

Part of me doesn't want all the hoopla. Part of me wants a quiet, simple observance. It's still too new, too raw to forget—I don't want all the heavy reminders.

Then again, I realizes, its not for me, or about me or what I want.

Another part of being overwhelmed is I was in a car accident on Saturday. My car is totaled. The lovely new looking beautiful car, gone. It was good till the end. The seat belts worked, the air bags worked. The car died, and I walked away with a fat lip and not much more damage-a few small bruise, some abrasions on my lips, too. And most of the evidence (on me) is gone today. (I do have a bruise mustache—but its not nearly as unsightly as the fat lip.)

The accident is a blow to my ego as well as to my body and purse. I sort of prided myself on being a good driver (it's been decades since I last had a minor fender bender)--and I have never had a moving violation—ever. (I still don't—no one was cited.) I know, I know, they are called accidents because they aren't planned..and they can happen to anyone. But it's a first for me. Since the car was 10 years old, I had liability insurance, but not collision--so I am out of a car. 

The Lost at the DMV socks spent the weekend in the car, so they didn't see any progress. What was worse and more worrisome, was I had the peacock wedding shawl in the car, too. Both pieces of knitting were just were I left them (Weird stuff was missing from the car.. The food I was taking to the family reunion (hot dog rolls, relish, potato (sweet potato) chips and 3 bottles of soda—gone. And the sunscreen (The fold up kind use when you park in sun). But I had an (expensive) 40 foot extension cord in the trunk—and that was left there. Of course the body shop claims it was the police who took the stuff--not likely in my estimation. I suppose it could have been kids, (the window was left open, and the kids could have just rooted round when no one was looking—chips and soda are the start of party.

The emotional upset as a result of the accident required some simple mindless knitting. I cast on Wingspan. It was already in my queue, and everything was handy—I had the pattern printed, and the yarn and needles already packed in a project bag, ready to go. I have already completed 5 wedges—the next wedge/wedge and half will be another purple one, and then another wedge and half of green. Together there will be another 3 wedges. Which will finish up the scarf, and the most of the skein. It will also create a bit of color symmetry. Not perfect symmetry--but a balanced look, all the same.  A bit of purple will be left for the banding—which will be the perfect finishing touch. It should  work out quite nicely.

The yarn is Paton's Lace—mostly acrylic, with just a bit of wool and mohair to make it nicer. The color way is Sachet—I am not sure it actually matches anything I own—but I don't care. I like it.

In spite of the simple mindless nature of the scarf—I've made major mistakes and have frogged back to the beginning of wedge twice. Still its been a perfect, simple project.  Busy enough to keep me engaged, and to help still the emtional turmoil that the accident created.

Yesterday, after getting some of the clean up work (visiting the auto body shop, cleaning out the newly added to the car, maps and tools) I did a bit of work on the Lost at DMV socks. The foot is now just 6.5 inches—more will be knit today –and soon enough they will be finished. I have a regularly scheduled doctors appointment today, so there will be knitting progress made on one project or the other.. (or maybe both)

There is still more car/accident work to do—getting to the DMV and turning in the plates, and getting more paperwork done. I still don't have an accident report. (and won't till tomorrow). There were 2 fast moving destructive storms on Saturday (and NYC had two tornado's touch down) that made for some flooding (and accidents) plus the US open, and a Mets game.. Sources of more minor accidents.. My accident was between the storms—while the sun was shining—and the storms were not a factor.

(last year I reposted a memorial poem I wrote just after--you can read it, if you want) 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Pent Up Demand!

That's what I have! There are so many things I want to knit—for months I have been diligent, and have refused to start anything new (well eventually I did succumb to socks, but...) I worked exclusively (auto fill want to put in the word extensively—it's right, I worked extensively, too!) on the shawl.

Now I have a bad case of startitis—I look around and every skein of yarn I own is saying, ME! Me! Me! Me first, make something with me!

Wingspan is on the list--and has actually been cast on with Paton's Lace in the green/lavender color. A sweater vest (my cinnamon brown DK wool from KnitPick's) is right behind it. I don't have a pattern—just an idea—and I might just wing it. And there are other scarves, and hats, and sweaters, and, and, and!

I am working hard on both pairs of socks—both of them plain stocking knit—but I have plans for some patterned (lace) socks, and some color work sock, (2—my black eyed susan's and my dragon socks) and other socks. (my secret socks)--there are half a dozen bags of Sock kits packed up ready to go—and new sock yarn that want to get into the first empty bag available.

I have laundry to do, too and big mess to deal with—junk (junk? Well stuff) came out of the trunk of the old car--and hasn't been put into trunk of new car.. And the question is what should go into the trunk. Already I have added the the maps, and tools and flares back—I don't need to justify these. Packed up neatly, ready to go, are the jumper cables—they still haven't made it to the trunk—but that is where they belong.

But what about a spare blanket?—I've always carried a small blanket in the car—and a small first aid kit. The old one needs some new supplies—but better to have to throw out some old band aids—(unused) than to be caught need one—and not have one at hand. It's a bit paranoid of me--to have flares, a blanket and a first aid kits.   (Or I am a good scout, and always prepaired?!)

I think the tarp is going to find a new home in the broom closet top shelf—But I will tuck a few bottles of water into the trunk—they are another good emergency supply to have on hand.

There is pool junk hanging around, too. The ice chest that was used all summer for soda's and cold drinks.. and all the pool toys—noodles and frisbies, and beach balls (one bit the dust)--and bathing caps and nose plugs, and ear plugs—along with pool shoes. There is the chain (used to secure all the chairs and lounges and the ice chest) and the lock.  A mountain of beach towels in the laundry—along with all the swim suits. OK most of this stuff has been sorted—(towel & swimsuits in the laundry, paper plates, and plastic forks & knives packed into zip lock bags, empty soda cans into the recycle bag/bag)--but it really hasn't been dealt with (and once the laundry is done, it's time to put away the beach towels) 

AND-- some of the swimming stuff will be used later this year (in theory)—I will join the NYParks program for the indoor pool--no fun to go now—the pool shares a parking lot with Tennis Open—and normal free parking is at a premium ($$) for the duration. But a lot of the stuff can be packed away till next summer--but I have to decide--what!

Everywhere things are pulled apart, pilled up, and in a general disarray! Plus it's too damn hot! How I wish the pool still had water in it... It's hot hazy and humid and the perfect day for a cool dip!

Meanwhile, Lost at DMV socks have 5 inches of the foot knit—another 2 and half inches or so before I can start the toe—and other (the as of yet, unseen) striped socks have 3 inches of foot.. a bit more before I can start the toe on them. Plus there is still a heel to do after the toe is knit—so they are further than Lost at DMV from being finished.

There is also a lot of sewing to do this month! Dresses and coats and more!

Tomorrow the car goes to visit its former home—a small family reunion party is going on—and I won't be doing any of these chores—or activities--(cause knitting and sewing aren't really chores) .

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Lost and Found?

That has been the tentative name for one of the current pair of socks. Maybe Lost (at Sea) –the blue/green color way reminds me of sea tones...

Better still would be Lost at DMV!

These are in many ways, just another generic pair of socks. I suppose I could just call them generic sock number (what ever!)
The small scallop (can you even see it?)at the cuff, and the cabled clock (another obscure feature) aren't really enough to give these socks a distinctive identity. As for the color way and yarn, well while they are the first pair of sock in this color way, they are not the first pair in this yarn. (Though they might be the first public pair of socks in this yarn (more on yarn below)

What ever I end up calling them (Lost at DMV is likely to win)--they now have a heel. And I know, Once the heel is done is just a hop, skip and a jump till the sock is finished.

The yarn is Filatura Lanarota's “Fashion Toes” —Filatura Lanarota is Plymouth's “off brand”. They use that name for seconds --if this yarn is second-- Well I can't find any flaw. No knots, no off colors, no blank spots in the dye; no unevenness in the spinning or plying. The Lanarota brand is also use for overstocks (which is what I am guess this yarn is) –It's Smiley's current stock of sock yarn (in a half dozen color ways—all lovely, though some especially lovely, like this one—color 21) I really like it, and might find myself at Smiley's next week for the first of their fall sales—if I do get there, I'll pick up a few more skeins. I used 3 skeins in December 2010 knitting a scarf (Leafy Vines) —and never made socks out the mostly blue (medium/navy/purple) color way--and I don't have any more skeins of the blue either.  Blue socks are a good to have staple—I always have lots of denim in my wardrobe—but then doesn't everyone?

My other socks got a few rows knit, too, and 2 small (4 stitches each) gussets got made—to provide some ease at the top of the instep. 8 stitches (in total) don't sound like much (and really aren't much!) but they add a full inch of ease (in a sock knit to 8 stitches per inch gauge). Enough to make a difference in feel and fit around the ankle.

Next round I will add a half round of waste yarn to mark the heel position—and then decrease the gussets back to nothing—and resume knitting with the original number of stitches for the foot.

Once I finish one of these pairs of socks, I will knit my small peacock swatch to test the paints on.

It will be a quick swatch—some 78 or so stitches.. and 3 peacock feathers.   

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The First Reveal

Step 1 Done—every row knit and every stitch bound off. Unfinished, unpainted and unblocked—but still in a way, DONE.

All but a few yards--more than 5, less than 10 yard of the skein knit.  So lets say, 2240 yards of the 2250 knit, and 10 yards left over.


 It looks wonderful... but it can only look better!

I'll knit the sample for test painting out some other merino—a bit heavier.   --sock weight--I can't be 100% sure both yarns will take up the dye/paint the same.. (but I can test that on the few remaining yards).

Monday, September 03, 2012

One More Round--

 The pattern calls for there to be 2 plain rounds after the last pair of charted/plain (making it 3 plain rounds before the bind off)... But I am worried I don't have enough yarn for another plain--(the first of the 2 called for!) I am positive I don't have enough yarn for 2 rounds!

I have reeled of some 30 yards to reserve them  for the bind off. Sound like a lot.. Until you do the math. The shawl measure loosely—about 54 inches in diameter.. Let's round that up to 60--(math is so much easier with multiples of 10!)
The circumference equals the diameter (60) X Pi--(3.14) OK so lets round Pi down to 3. 
3 X 60 is 180 inches of diameter--that's 5 yards! 

The bind off needs at least 4 times that—or at least 20 yards. But I want a really loose bind off. An extra 10 yards is really not very much. So planning 30 yards for the bind off is OK—generous, but really not excessively so. With the 30 yards reeled off— (and made into a butterfly)--look at what is left of the skein—Nothing! Well, virtually nothing!

A single round will need –well I am going to measure out 10 yards—and see how much of the round I get knit. 10 yards should take me at least to the half way point of the round. I could be wrong with my math—and I would rather know it sooner, than later!

I think 16 yards (which is a bit more than 3 times the diameter--AND my usual approximation of yarn needed for a row/round)  is enough for another single round.. 

I also think that, even if I am wrong, and it is not, I will still have enough yarn left in the ball to complete the round. But I do want to have a clue! I don't want to run out of yarn with just a few stitches left to bind off.  

If I am wrong--well I might start the bind off at the half way point- and it is clear I don't have enough yarn to finish the round--Well -½ of the shawl will have 2 plain rounds before bind off, and the other half of the shawl will just have a single round of plain knitting before the bind off.

It looks like I am going to use almost every inch the 2250 yards in the skein!

Lost and Found sock is getting a heel flap—a good 20 rows completed—another dozen or so to go—The socks have 64 stitches—and 32 is just about the right number of rows. Stripe socks have been untouched this week end.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

It's A New Month

 But the same old knitting. 2 rounds completed on Thursday, another 2 rounds completed on Friday and there are 6 more rounds to go. 2 charted rounds, with companion plain ones, and 2 final rounds (an edging of a sort) before bind off.

See how the second “ribbon of lace” is joined at the top of the feather motif? The joined ribbons now have 5 stitches. These will be decreased to 3, and then to 1 (and in the lace valley's a new ribbon will begin to appear. This second ribbon is final one of the crown of lace that will complete the shawl—though I admit, I am tempted to make more and more-- I really love how they look.

2 things hold me in check—Time:I don't have time to knit any more on this shawl—it's not as if it is finished once I knit the last stitch and bind off! There is still painting and blocking to come).
And yarn: -- I'll have enough yarn to finish--(well I think I do!) Though, if I need more, I do have another full 2250 yards of this yarn!--not that I want to use any of the second skein. I am amazed at how much yarn each round takes.. The skein seems to be visible smaller with just the last 4 rounds. I don't really want to ball up the second skein, or to join in a new yarn. This skein is one length—no knots or joins.. The whole the shawl , a single thread. Amazing when you stop to think about it.

2 more rounds today, 2 more on Sunday and the final 2 on Monday. Unless I get over ambitious—I might. The end is in sight, and its exciting.

2 pairs of socks got some rounds added too. The last dozen rounds of the clock were finished on the Lost and Found socks—It's now time to start the heel flap!

The clock design is not very obvious—the all over pattern of the wool obscures the details. I might use this clock design again—Sometime when I use one of the many solid color sock yarns I have in my stash. I like the detail. Clocks on socks are an interesting idea—and generally under utilized.

The Striped socks have more stripes—and over 6.5 inches of leg knit. Time to start the little side gussets that I almost always add to afterthought heels socks. I have a high instep, and these simple little gussets add just enough ease to make a difference.

These are the last days for the pool, too. The water gets drained Monday (starting at about 5 PM—and the pool is empty by the time we need to clear the deck.) It's a sort of un-official end to summer.