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Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’

Design feature…

Dear Jan,

How could it be that I finished knitting up a cozy hat this weekend, when I had finished off the skein (Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, a single skein, deep discount, no more available)  from which I knit it almost two months back while in the middle of decreasing for the crown?

Here is the hat at the end of the skein.


Here it is after weaving ends in today.


How, without procuring more of the same yarn? You’ve already guessed, I’m sure.

I snipped and ravelled a the yarn from one row just below the top of the cuff.  Splicing the now live end onto the live end at the crown of the hat, I continued from where I had been forced to stop when I ran out of yarn until the crown was neatly finished off.  Breaking the yarn, I then spliced some equally soft tweed Berocco Blackstone Tweed on to the new live end and knit to replace what I had raveled to knit the crown.


Some mad Kitchener skills, some end weaving, and ta da! a hat –  one that will be much warmer for not having a gaping hole in the crown.


The brassy stripe inside the cuff?  I’m calling that a design feature.



Unexpected Design Innovations (UDIs)

Dear Ellen,

Herewith, I am coining a new knitting acronym — the UDI or unexpected design innovation.  These are those changes to patterns we make when we are well into the pattern and we realize that if we continue executing the pattern as written, we will be unhappy.  So, we make changes.  We may be worried about running out of yarn, so we adapt to use another color, reduce rounds between decreases, or shorten sleeves — or we may realize we’re going to have loads of yarn left so we add repeats or lengthen sleeves — or we discover we worked the pattern incorrectly about umpteen rows back so we determine we can make it work if we make sure to make the same deviation on the other side — or…you get the idea…and we discover we love the result better than we thought we would like the original.


This little sock is a UDI…I was sizing up the fast baby booties and discovered that adding only 2 stitches to the cast on yielded a toddler sized sock, not a 6-9 month bootie as I was targeting.  I kept going though and realized the resulting footy (you can’t call a big girl or boy’s sock a bootie, right?!) would fit the foam stress reliever foot that we had in the office at work.  And if knit in a harder wearing worsted, it would make a nice little slipper sock for toddlers.  I still have to write up the pattern…the weekend disappeared on me.  (We got surprised by early arrival of some furniture and it took almost all of Saturday to get it from the warehouse and into place.)

dsc03552.JPGNot much more knitting to highlight this week.  I did finish the cuff of a pair of socks that is part of The Knit Wits Socks Around the World.  They’ll go into the mail next week headed for the next knitter who will do the heel.  I think I’ll cast on a pair of socks for myself as soon as I’m done here.

It was great fun to see you Thursday night.  Sorry you’re flight cancellation stuck you in DC, but I benefited from it.  Hope you had a blast at Rhinebeck, and I’m expecting those sheep.  😉

Love, Jan

Beyond point and shoot…

Dear Jan,

One of the delights of really diving deep into our passion for knitting is how it brings opportunities to learn far beyond the realm of pointy sticks and string.  Thanks to knitting which led to blogging which is leading to designing, I had a yen for improving my photography.  A class with Gale Zucker of She Shoots Sheep Shots as well as Shear Spirit and soon, Craft Activism has moved me closer to that goal.

I won’t take you through all that Gale shared in a whirlwind 3.5 hours, but I did want to share a couple of wows.  As alway, click on individual photos to embiggen – it is worth it for some of these*.



First – reflected light.  Look at the difference in detail and liveliness when Gale bounced a little natural light back at the model using a simple disk reflector.  I have had trouble shooting dark colored yarn – this is going to help a lot!



33.jpg42.jpg51.jpg62.jpgSecond – background color.  From black velvet (which seemed to make lots of project/yarns sing) to fat quarters (of which I have tons of from my quilting days – why didn’t I think of this?!), you can pick the background color that brings out the character you want to showcase in your work.  I personally like the velvet background best for this yarn (click to embiggen), and find that multi-color fine print background just makes it look like mud.  The brown background really brought up the blue, and the blue played up the green.

I learned a lot more, part of which is that I have a ton left to learn.  Someday I hope to take one of  Gale’s weekend workshops, she is an awesome teacher, balancing lecture with hands-on kinetic learning and leaving you feeling you got great value for class dollar.  I encourage you to take any class with her that  you can fit into your crazy life. 26.jpg

15.jpgOf course, spinning is an area of immense learning potential for me still.  Look at these crazy plies – pigtails galore, the potential energy in these bobbins is almost scary.  But what a lovely well-behaved yarn it seems to want to ply into!  I have struggled with getting enough twist into my singles to allow a well twisted yarn… I think I might be making progress.

I’ll let you know after I get the skein washed, whacked and dried.  And after I dig out some of my old quilting fabric so I can find the best background for its photo shoot!



*Gale shared a few tips that may help me size photos appropriately for the blog, but before I can experiment with them I need to go catch up on some work stuff that I neglected while taking Gale’s class.  Someday soon!

Don’t be a Blockhead

Dear Ellen,

In an earlier post I shared my favored method for blocking lace — put it on the wires dry, then give it a soak and stretch it out to all it’s glory.  I have found this approach to be very fast, very effective and very fun!  Here’s how it went for my Campanula Variation:

dsc03104.JPGdsc03107.JPGFirst, thread blocking wires through the edges of the scarf.  Sometimes I thread through the bumps on the edges of the garter stitch border, but this time I chose to catch the purl bumps of the edge stitch of the border.  Truth be told, this is actually the bar between the 1st and 2nd stitches, because half a stitch is tied up in the very edge.

dsc03106.JPGdsc03109.JPGI thread wires on one side of the scarf and then go back and do the other side.  This process goes pretty quickly — the dry yarn is far more slippery than yarn that has been soaked.  The wires slide right through the stitches and with a bit of practice you can slide through 5-6 stitches at a time.  When you’ve got the wires all in, be sure you’ve slid them in far enough to allow for a healthy extension beyond the knitted article.

dsc03111.JPGdsc03112.JPGdsc03113.JPGOnce you’ve got your wires in, your piece needs to be readied for soaking.  Simply fold one side over the other being careful to keep the stitches on the wires.  Make sure a few inches of wire extends from the fold.  Gather this end of all the wires in one hand and push the scarf into a wad at that end of the wires.

dsc03108.JPGdsc03114.JPGdsc03115.JPGNow it’s time for a Soak. Submerge the bunched up scarf into a nice deep sink of lukewarm water and your favorite fiber wash.  (You don’t have to add the fiber wash, but I feel it does a good job of helping any remnants of dye to release and it encourages the most softness out of your yarn.)  Make sure the piece is below water level.  Be careful not to accidentally push it off the ends of the wires.  You need to fill the sink near capacity to make it as easy as possible.

dsc03117.JPGdsc03118.JPGdsc03119.JPGAfter about 10-15 minutes, carefully lift your sodden item from its bath.  To remove a good bit of the moisture, gently stretch it out along the wires and then place it on a thick towel so that the item is still folded and the wires are parallel.  You can roll up the towel in alignment with the wires and then press out the excess water.  (Some stand on their knitting — I find you can just press down on it on the sink top.)

dsc03121.JPGdsc03128.JPGHere’s where the miraculous part comes in…unroll the towel, transport the item to your blocking board, open the fold to extend the item and stretch it out and pin it.  Again, be careful to mind where the ends of your wires are — you want to keep the item threaded on them.  I pinned this scarf out in 110 seconds from the time I unrolled the towel.  That’s less than 2 minutes!!  Awesome!  This method sure saves you sore knees and sore backs!  (Note the full picture looks a bit distorted because I took it with the panorama setting on my camera — kind of hard to stay steady when you are so pleased with the outcome of your work!)

dsc03131.JPGThe end product (the next day) is one very lovely, beautifully blocked scarf.  I do have to weave in one end, but that’ll only take a jiffy — just like the blocking!  I’ve used this method for triangular shawls as well, with the same easy-peasy process and fabu results.  Give it a try!

Love, Jan

P.S. We’re really, really close to 3,000!  Surely this post or the next!

A Prize Winning Week

Dear Ellen,

dsc03046.JPGWell, the Parade of Homes is wrapping up today.  Over the course of the week we had about 4,500+ visitors come through our home.  Reports are that there were many nice comments and our builders are very happy with the number of leads that the Parade has generated.  We’re all a bit glad that it’s coming to a close.  The builders will get some of their lives back — and next weekend we’ll actually get possession of our home!

dsc03049.JPGI finished up my Global Connections socks.  I called these Global Connections because I knit them (mostly) on two 13 hour flights to and from the Middle East and the colorway is “Global”…perfect.  The original pattern inspiration is from the   Faceted Rib Socks in the Little Box of Socks by Charlene Schurch and beth Parrott.  I modified it to be knit toe up.  The stitch pattern yields a very cushy fabric, but it wants to be a tighter gauge than the stockinette of the sole.  Wet blocking resolved the difference, but in the future I think I’d knit the sole on a smaller needle.

dsc03051.JPGThese used my basic recipe for toe-up socks which normally involves a set of wrapped turns as part of the turning of the heel.  (K across to the turn point, Kfb, K1, w/t.)  I came up with an alternative with which I’m rather pleased.  Instead I knit right up to the turn point, make a lifted left leaning increase and then turn without wrapping.  I slip the first stitch (the lifted increase) and continue knitting to the next turn.  The effect is smooth uninterrupted stockinette stitch, accomplished without having to wrap or pick up wraps later.  Because the pivot point is that lifted increase stitch, which is not stitched on the return, it provides a nice smooth transition point.  And the stitch count is increased without the unsightly bump of a Kfb…a win on all counts!

dsc03052.JPGdsc03054.JPGdsc03053.JPG  I also got moving on a simple little scarf which is a minor variation on Anne Hanson of Knitspot’s Campanula Scarf, so I’m just calling it my Campanula Scarf Variation. The yarn is 90% Suri Alpaca and 10% Merino.  It feels incredibly luxurious as it slides through my fingers.  I’m enjoying the knitting a lot.  When I got tired of following the lace pattern I grabbed some leftover yarn from my Einstein bathrobe and cast on Another Purple Hat.  I’ll figure out who needs this Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project later.  I also wound the yarn for a project that I hope will be at the standard for submission to Knitty.  I plan on bringing swatches, design notes, pattern and product to Sock Summit for my class on “Making the Next Monkey.”  I expect to get started tonight!

I’ve got to run…we have a neighborhood pot luck dinner tonight, so I’ve got to get moving.  (Remember pot lucks?  They’re a lot like hot dish suppers in case you forgot!)

Love, Jan

Ending the Merry Month of May

Dear Ellen,

dsc02755.JPGdsc02740.JPGdsc02765.JPGI am relieved to be back in my home…it’s been a whirlwind wind up to this month as I’ve been traveling since we left for Cleveland and the wedding.  That was certainly a fun event with much merriment and romance in the air.   Although blurry, I thought this shot of Craig and Lauren really captured it.  And I did enjoy the reception with my brothers and sisters.  Beth did a great job on the seating chart.  And Patty did a great job tracking our pork and beef orders.  dsc02781.JPGdscf1380.JPGdsc02786.JPGI’m quite sure that you, Patty and I were the hit of the evening entertainment-wise.  We may have pounded a little too hard based on the way Wilson and Patty were holding their heads the next morning.  I wonder if Ken and Kristen will be next?

dsc02838.JPGdsc02832.JPGdsc02833.JPGI left the wedding and headed out to the west coast where I met up with good friends from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the Combined Communications Electronics Board.  We did much dsc02857.JPGdsc02855.JPGofficial work and also spent a day and a half out on an aircraft carrier.  MUCH fun and good work done as well.  I was glad to have a chance to be underway — and very pleased to know Allen was underway on PROVIDENCE at the same time…likely the only time that will happen in our careers.  As always, our city at sea had lots going on.  Flight operations, combat direction center, radio shack, the bakery, Yoplait!!  What’s not to like?

Check out some flight ops — Here’s a launch and here’s a trap.

dsc02922.JPGOn return I got a few scant hours of sleep and then Dale and I and the doggies headed to Fair Winds for a one night camp out in the shadow of the new house.  Dale did lots of property grooming and I knit the second of my First Flame Socks.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original dpns on which I dsc02956.JPGdsc02980.JPGdsc02981.JPGknit the first…found another set the same size, but then, not really.   The second sock is slightly smaller.  As the needles were different materials (carbon fiber vs. metal) they knit at a slightly different gauge.  The socks blocked out to the same size, but I know one will feel looser.  I’ll be sure the recipient knows to wear the smaller one on her smaller foot.

dsc02951.JPGdsc02950.JPGRuby and Max worked very hard too — lots of sniffing and running about and trying to catch squirrels.  They had to get a lot of extra rest to regain their energy.

dsc02945.JPGdsc02939.JPGdscf1426.JPGThe house is all but finished.  It is without doubt the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.  The interior decorator working the show had most of the furniture in place for the Parade along with many small touches…he said more dscf1419.JPGdscf1430.JPGdscf1418.JPGwere to come before the event. dscf1416.JPGdscf1432.JPGThere is no doubt that his furniture is nicer than ours…but we should have 30-40 years to work on upgrading what we have — some of which has literally been around the world for 3+ decades.  The landscaping was almost dsc02970.JPGdsc02965.JPGdsc02943.JPGall in by the time we left…lots of flowering trees and lovely dsc02947.JPGdsc02948.JPGdsc02813.JPGhot pink roses, bushy bright shrubs and promising perennials.  I’ll not try to list them.  You can identify them for me when you come visit as I’ll undoubtedly have forgotten what they are by then.  I am just thrilled with my own flight deck too.  I picture grandchildren practicing traps and cats for hours at a time!  dsc02936.JPGdsc02933.JPGdsc02978.JPGI also enjoyed the other plants around the farm — from ferns and wild strawberries to the corn that grew about two inches in the 30 hours we were there.  The big VIP opening party is tonight.

dsc02983.JPGDale and I are heading up early in the day.  We’ll drink champagne with the Parade judges and then head to a hotel at BWI from whence we can head to Tampa for the weekend to celebrate Jim’s retirement and Tom’s H.S. graduation.  I hope to finish up a cap and booties to go with the overalls I’ve made for my friend’s baby (yet to be smocked — the overalls, not the baby!)  And I’ll likely get another pair of socks started.

dsc02727.JPGdsc02973.JPGA very busy end to May and beginning of June, but it sure is fun!  Did I mention that we saw a giant rabbit?…and a bear?  (Just in case you were wondering about that expression about bears and their activities in the woods.)

Love, Jan

Deer Ellen…

dsc01829.JPGOh, I guess I meant “Dear Ellen,” but I was so pleased by the fact that even with the construction noise and disturbances, the deer are still frequenting our backyard.  I do realize that I may not appreciate this when I am trying to keep them from eating my plantings one day.  For now, though, I’m very pleased that we’ll have visitors once we’ve moved in.

dsc01819.JPGdsc01818.JPGI became acquainted with some other animal friends while we visited our cabinetry guy, Levi.  He’s an Amish craftsman who works on his farm.  Our timing is perfect as the farming workload is down in the winter and there’s more time to work on furniture and cabinetry.  It’s also the end of the Amish wedding season, so our order will be started right away.  We spent about 3 hours with Levi going over plans, picking finishes and hardware and watching him work — as you might expect, he drafts the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil and the shop was illuminated with a really big “Coleman lantern”.  The quality of his work is great and he made some really nice suggestions.  The kitchen is going to have farm-style cabinetry — a pale straw (barely yellow) color with black hardware.  It’ll look great with our soapstone countertops and island surface.  Our appliances are all Kitchenaid — a professional line stainless steel stove and the remainder are their quality line in black.  It will be about 10 weeks before the kitchen comes together, but we’re getting a good feel for it now.

dsc01810.JPGcopy-of-dsc01815.JPGThe house itself really is moving along quickly…when we showed up to do the walk through with the electrician on Saturday, there was a crew of roofers putting shingles on.  You can see the stacks of shingles at the roof peaks and the strips of wood that are tacked onto the roof so they can walk around up there as they work.  dsc01821.JPGBy the end of the day they had done about half of the job…amazing.  The rooftop that no longer has the wood strips is the part that is finished.  The photo doesn’t show it well, but the shingles have a lovely cinnamon grit along with charcoal gray and black. They will complement the copper roof that is going to go on the porch and the pineapple weathervane that will go on top of the turret.

copy-of-dsc01823.JPGcopy-of-dsc01825.JPGWe were pleased to see the front door in place — it will be stained…a dark, dark burgundy/mahogany red.  The house itself will be coastal blue — Dale’s holding up a sample piece of the cement-fiber composite siding that we’re using.  It will go up soon and I think will look fantastic with the crisp white trim and antique white soffits.

copy-of-dsc01833.JPGdsc01834.JPGIn the back you can see where the screened in porch will be framed out just to the left of the pop out dining area at the back of the kitchen.  The wrap around porch in front will give the screened porch some good competition for img_5442.JPGsitting and knitting.  The area at the end that is closest in this photo has enough room for a table and chairs or just for plenty of rocking chairs.  I keep imagining the small fiber retreats that could be held out there!

copy-of-dsc01813.JPGcopy-of-dsc01811.JPGcopy-of-dsc01814.JPGInside there is some more progress too…the rough installation of the the gas fireplace and the staircase being the most obvious.  The staircase will be adjusted before it’s made permanent, but it is safe to use now which makes going up to see the great second floor views far easier.   The view looking up from the great room to the 2nd floor landing is now framed an archway that is echoed in the front window seat — still visible on the 2nd floor until the dry wall goes up.  img_5437.JPGdsc01839.JPGOther archways throughout the house soften all the angles seen in the window selection.  The one framing the view out of the dining area from the kitchen is one of my favorites.  The area can accommodate a 12 foot table, but we’ve decided to go for a 10 and a 1/2 footer instead.  We picked out some bowback chairs that can benefit from the extra room.  We’re having another Amish guy build the table and chairs.  They’ll look much like the ones shown, but the table top will be much thicker to give better proportion to a table that long.

dsc01845.JPGI get to do a good bit of knitting on our trips up and back to visit the property and do the work of making decisions to support the building process.  I’m now down to a single WIP from 2010. A Sweater from Down Under.  I think I’ll finish it fairly soon — am really enjoying knitting it, so will have one more sweater for my repertoire this winter.  Here I am in Woodland Vines.  I got some great buttons on etsy and quickly stitched them on.  I do think I need to go ahead and find some matching grosgrain and redo them as my “eyeball” technique makes their spacing a tiny bit wonky.  I’ll wear it in the meantime…very comfortable and I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it while wearing it out and about.

dsc01852.JPGdsc01855.JPGOn travel for work this week I finished A Simple Lace Scarf, another 2010 project completed!  I tried a new blocking approach by feeding the scarf onto blocking wires while dry and then soaking them with the wires in them. Wow! It was so much easier to slip the wires into place and though I had to fill the sink to a higher level so the scarf would be fully submerged, there was no problem doing so. After its soak, it was easy enough to wrap with a fluffy towel and squeeze to damp. dsc01859.JPGdsc01858.JPGAnd then, a double miracle…the emergence of the lace pattern at lightning speed — it only took about 5 minutes to pin out! I will definitely do this again for smaller pieces that can be managed. I don’t think larger sweater pieces that won’t scrunch up into a small ball at the end of the wires would work very well, but scarves and shawls — absolutely!  I wasn’t able to hold out on not casting anything else on until I finished the 2010 projects as I had decided that hauling the sweater on travel with me would be too much.  (It’s a tunic length medium weight pullover and is at least 60% done.)  As I knew the scarf was within a few hours of completion (and therefore would be done before I ran out of travel time) I brought along a skein of Socrates from Alpaca with a Twist.  I now have another pair of socks on the needle.  More on them later.

I hope you are feeling better and that you enjoy your three-day weekend!

Love, Jan

The First Rule of Fight Club

dsc01163.JPG  Dear Ellen,

This is about a week old, suffered while in Brussels.  Yes, the story behind it is indeed embarassing.  No, the story behind it does not involve alcohol.  ‘Nuff said.

The remainder of the Brussels trip was too fast.  I landed Sunday, had all day meetings Monday, and flew out on Tuesday morning.  dsc01146.JPGdsc01153.JPGdsc01160.JPGdsc01149.JPG“Blink!” And it was gone.  I did have a great view from my hotel room — same hotel as usual, but I’m usually in a room looking over the back alley — and we did go walking out on Sunday night for dinner.  I almost didn’t bring my camera, but am pleased that I did.  I only took about a half dozen shots, but they were good ones.  I think the shot of Saint Catherine’s Church at night is my favorite.  Camera will travel with me this week as I head for Philadelphia and “Vision 2020” where I’m one of two delegates from Virginia.  This is one trip I’m really looking forward to!

dsc01161.JPGdsc01162.JPGOn the Brussels trip I finished my Tangled Vines socks.  I will write up the pattern for them, hopefully tonight, but we’ll see.  It is Sunday and almost 5:30PM already, so it may have to wait till next week.   I enjoyed knitting these and I like the fabric.  Some lace socks seem to have too flimsy delicate of a fabric, but these are lacey looking and still feel like they aren’t one thread-snap away from unraveling.  I designed them for a high instep with average ankle thickness and find that they fit very nicely.  The pattern will have both written and charted instructions for the lace stitch, the traveling vines pattern in Walker.  I had to work out the chart myself and managed to get past a challenge that others seemed to have with it (I did some web searching to see if it had already been done) by shifting the pattern a few stitches so that the decreases all fall within the bounds of the repeat.  That makes it very workable for a sock pattern and eliminated the fiddliness of shifting stitches around needles when worked on dpn’s.

dsc01165.JPGI solved another knitting problem this weekend as I finally pulled my Kniestrüpmfe out of the drawer and sat down with a needle and elastic thread to work some extra elasticity into the ribbing at the top of the cuffs.  I simply turned them inside out and then ran the needle through the backs of the purl stitches (all right, all right, I do know that the back of a purl stitch is a knit stitch!) around the sock.  I knotted the ends securely and then trimmed them close.  This was repeated about 15 times on each sock to form parallel rounds from the bottom of the ribbed section to the very edge of the cuff.  I love how it turned out.  It’s invisible from the right side (the picture is of the wrong side) and when I put the socks on they feel snug, but not tight.  I’ll be able to wear these with no fear that they’ll fall down.  Now to find a corduroy skirt to wear with them!

dsc01167.JPGdsc01170.JPGMy last knitting report is on Baby’s First Angora, a new pattern of mine (still in pencil notations, but which will be converted for upload soon!) for simple, but luxurious accessories for the 3-6 month old.  (I’ll make a version for the 0-3 month old as well, but haven’t done so yet.)  These are fun to knit as they finish so quickly and take such a small amount of yarn.  These are of Phildar Phil’Angora 70 — it took 30 wopping grams of it for the entire set.  I only wish that I had a real baby to try them out on!!

Breathe deeply…another week is heading our way!

Love, Jan

What’s Nupp?

Dear Ellen,

dsc00863.JPGI loved your little froggy visitor and had to show you a toady friend I discovered on our  last trip to Fair Winds.  I helped him escape Ruby out of harm’s way.


dsc00997.JPGWe made it back to the farm this weekend as well.  And we spent our first night on our property!  Dale was resistant at first, but I think if you were to ask him now, he’d claim it was his idea.  We had a wonderful time.  dsc00996.JPGdsc00999.JPGWe stopped by the mercantile (I love that our future county has a mercantile) and picked up a pair of bib overalls for Dale so he can avoid constantly having to pull up his jeans.  He loved them…I may have a struggle to keep them on the farm!  We got a lot of work done both days and spent a delicious night by the fire listening to the insects, looking at the stars and roasting marshmallows.  dsc01009.JPGdsc01010.JPGHere Dale is searching for an honest man ridiculing my baby Coleman lantern.  However, I proved that by using it, it is possible to knit by the campfire, though I ended up correcting a few issues the next day.  We will be camping again soon…Dale went out and bought another sleeping bag and a blow-up queen-sized airbed at the sale at Sport’s Authority today — a sure sing that he’s hooked.  A portable camp toilet is on my wish list, though I managed in the woods just fine.

dsc01021.JPGdsc01020.JPGdsc01018-1.JPGThe knitting I was doing is the Annis Shawlette from  I’m calling it my Crescent Beach Shawlette because the pattern has a lovely crescent shape to it and the colorway is Ocean Memories which brings back college memories of visiting the ocean at Crescent Beach, FL when I was a student at UF.  Man, I’m flying through this pattern!  LOTS of fun once you get the first few rows out of the way.  And this was my first experience with nupps, so I had a bit of dsc01023.JPGexperimenting and learning to do.  For instance, I found that you can’t be too inattentive when you are completing the nupps.  The first stage is easy, in same loop *K1, YO* three times, K1 so you end up with 7 live stitches in one loop.  Coming back on the purl side you purl all 7 loops together.  dsc01024.JPG(Thank goodness for pointy tipped lace needles!)  My issue was that I tended to either realize I was at the nupp a loop too late (I kept trying to purl the first loop of the nupp as its own stitch) or I managed to drop a loop during the operation.  In my defense, remember that this was knitting by the campfire!  No worries though, I corrected my occasional dropped loop or extra stitch in the daylight by dropping back a row to redo or as is seen in the photos, by doing a bit dsc01025.JPGof stitch collection after the fact.  Very easy — I just found a bit of the same color repeat from the end of the ball, wove it in to catch at the back of the nupp, brought the needle to the front at the top of the nupp where the loops are collected on the single purl stitch, caught the loose loop and returned dsc01026.JPGthe needle back through the same hole pulling the top of the loop through to the back and then securing the yarn end.  All better. I only have 15 or so rows to go and it’s all easy stockinette short rows.  These introduce the nice crescent curve to this shawl.  A fun knit and fast.

dsc01017.JPGMaking progress on my Hsssssy Fit Mitts too…they’re Stephen West’s Diamondback Mitts.  I’m making them for a friend’s brother — he’s been just great helping with challenges her family has had and works outside in all weather, so thought they’d be a nice way to show him some appreciation.  I love the pattern, but am thinking I’d reverse the rows of main color so that the cabled stitches are in the second row vice the first row of main color rows.  As it is now, the cable stitch is worked over some already stretched stitches as they’ve been slipped over the contrasting color.  The look is fine, it works fine, I’m just curious to see if the stitches look a little more even that way.  I’ll have to see.

dsc01027.JPGdsc01028.JPGTGIF is temporarily finished.  I say temporarily as I think that in about 30 minutes I’ll be downstairs ripping out half of the shawl collar/button band.  STUPID mistake on my part regards buttonhole placement.  The distance of the lower buttonhole from the bottom edge is way out of proportion with the width of the button band itself.  I knew it and yet decided it wouldn’t matter much and pressed ahead to include sewing on buttons.  And I decided I needed four buttons — which places the top button a little too high to let the shawl collar open like it wants to.  dsc01030.JPGOnce again, I should have trusted my instincts when the warning in my head popped up in the first place.  After living with it for about a week and a half, I know I have to go back and do it right — three buttons, better placement…and maybe a different bind-off.  I may not get back to it for a few weeks though…I’m trying to stay on task with Single Skein September knitting.

It will be another crazy week at the Pentagon.  Luckily only 4 days thanks to the holiday!  Hope you had a great Labor Day and have a great week.

Love, Jan

Snacks and Chips

Dear Ellen,

dsc00991.JPGThanks for pointing me at the Knitmore Girls for their preemie/newborn hat design contest.  I was in dire need of snack knitting with a challenge, so the design contest was a perfect context.  I poured through the Japanese stitch pattern book, 250 Couture Knit Stitch Patterns by Hitomi Shida and dsc00969.JPGdsc00966.JPGfound a few intriguing patterns that worked out to make what I think is a pretty cute little pattern.  I knit one up in leftover elann Superwash Chunky and one in some leftover dsc00973.JPGTempted Hand Painted Good Grrl.  Since I made them with scraps I’m calling them my Scrap Babies. The two different yarn weights yielded two different sizes — one that will fit a newborn and one that will fit a preemie.  I stayed up late last night to get the pattern finished and entered.  Then I saw your note about how they had extended the deadline.  I’ve downloaded the podcasts, but I guess I should start listening to it if I want this kind of information while it actually helps.

dsc00962.JPGdsc00953.JPGI did some other snack knitting too.  Katie’s Sparkly Scarf is finished and I hope to get my act together enough to put it in the mail by the weekend.  This was a really fun knit.  I ran out of yarn too quickly, but there was  enough for the purpose.  This is one of those scarves that you start at the center back with a provisional cast on and knit to one end and then go back to the center and knit out to the other end so that you can have nicely matching ends, a good design feature for this pattern.  dsc00952.JPGInstead of doing a provisional cast on I did Jenny’s Magic cast on and just put one half on a stitch holder and then knit the first half from the other side.  Then I moved the reserved stitches back to a needle and did the other half.  It looked a little short when I was done, but thanks to the miracle of wet blocking (during which it reminded me of a planaria) it grew to a nice length for an accessory scarf.  I wouldn’t count on it much for actual warmth.

It’s Single Skein September — I haven’t started anything yet, but have ideas for socks (thanks to all the great patterns from Hitomi) and I have at least 2 pairs of mitts for Christmas presents.  I’ll get moving on those tomorrow.

Love, Jan