This photo is a bit dark, since it was 7:30 p.m. when it was taken.

Pattern: My own, detailed below.

Yarn: 1 skein Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted, 75% wool, 25% alpaca, color: natural heather. $9 from Homespun, in Ithaca, NY.

Needles: 16″ bamboo Clovers, size 7

Gauge: 22 stitches per 4″, unstretched in pattern stitch

Project began/ended: I started this on February 16, and finished yesterday, March 31, while watching, of all things, an episode of Girlfriends about how knitting made you old. The funniest line was when Diana Ross’s daughter (in real life; not on the show), who is kind of the nerd of the group and is angry because she had been dragged out to a club to recapture her youth, says, “I would have been halfway through that headwrap if you had let me stay home and knit.”

How to make it:

1. Find some yarn. This yarn is 220 yards, and a quarter alpaca, so it has some drape and fuzz. If you want drape and no fuzz, go with something that has some silk or something slinky in it. Find a 16″ circular needle that goes with your yarn.

2. I don’t think gauge is very important in this project. Use a long-tail cast on to cast on some multiple of 4 stitches. I’m pretty sure I cast on 108 stitches. Cast on more or less based on your own experience with hats and gauge.

3. Join into a circle. Don’t twist. Though actually, I think this might have worked nicer as a moebius cowl, so if you want that, twist.

4. Place marker at beginning of round. (I actually found it helpful to place markers every 10 stitches until the pattern was established. If doing so, make sure the marker that identifies the beginning of the round is different than the others.)

5. Mistake rib:

Round 1: *K2, p2; repeat from *
Round 2: K1 *p2, k2; repeat from *, until you have 3 stitches left, then p2, k1.

By the way, I found it helpful to think of the pattern as a column of knits and a column of purls, each bordered with columns of alternating knits and purls. This is what gives the stitch such a raised and sunken surface, unlike regular ribbing.

6. Keep repeating these two rounds until you run out of yarn.

7. Bind off with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind-Off.

8. No need to block. Wear dramatically.

Download the pattern: The Ithacowl [pdf]

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, patterns, Scarves, Uncategorized at March 31st, 2008.

Two balls of Ornaghi Filati Luna Park Sock Yarn.

Two years ago, (also in March), I went to visit Seaport Yarn, one of the weirdest yarn stores in Manhattan. Recently, I had heard that the store moved, and this weekend, since I was going near City Hall anyway, I took a visit to its new location. (It’s still in the Financial District, just in a different building.)

Okay, the store is still weird, and continues to be in an odd office space:

(I looked at the photos from two years ago and I was carrying that same handbag, which is funny because I actually don’t use it that often, as it’s quite heavy.) Anyway, that’s me pointing to a paper sign that says: “Seaport Yarn, Fifth Floor.”

The new layout is much more open, and isn’t as kookily Being John Malkovitch-y as the old one. The owner continues to run her marketing business out of the same office though.

But it’s still hidden–it’s in that 181 building, surrounded by hawkers selling knock-off pashminas.

This brings me to a question I’ve been thinking about. Do you feel like you have to buy yarn at your local yarn store if you visit? What if you linger for more than a certain time? What if you’re the only person in the store? I do. If there’s a lot of people, or if I’m just in and out, then I don’t feel obligated to get anything, but if it’s just me (and Adam), and/or I browse for longer then 10-15 minutes, and especially if I’ve chatted with the store owner, I feel I have to buy something. (Hence the sock yarn in the top photo.)

It’s tricky, because I try not to have too much stash (in fact, I am aiming for zero stash), and it would be fiscally irresponsible for my own budget if I always bought something. (I’m not even going to discuss the enviromental and global pros and cons of consuming something you don’t need.) But small businesses do have a certain charm. I used to be less swayed by this argument–buy local to keep your neighborhood’s character–simply because I felt like businesses of any size needed to figure out how to compete with big box stores, instead of soliciting pity purchases from its customers. But with the growth of the internet, it’s something that’s become more and more of an issue.

We went to brunch on the Upper West Side today, and I was all grouchy thinking about the loss of Murder Ink. I never shopped there that much, but it was a GREAT bookstore, and it always sold a ton of Ellery Queens* (unlike *cough*The Strand,*cough* which is too highfalutin to ever have more than a couple of Agatha Christies on a sad little cart somewhere). It WAS something that contributed to the character of the neighborhood, and I was thinking about how if a murder mystery bookstore couldn’t survive on the Upper West Side, the heartland of cat-owning, tea-drinking, Agatha Christie-reading old ladies**, where can something like that thrive?

*If you like murder mysteries, I highly reccomend Ellery Queen. That said, one of my friends considers the detective “too smug,” so he’s not everyone’s taste.

** Totally me. I don’t own a cat or live on UWS, but I say that with respect. And as a former resident of Morningside Heights, I feel I know the UWS enough to comment on its change.

I grew up, like so many people, reading these kids books set in New York*** and watching Woody Allen movies (my dad is a big Woody fan, though I am on the fence myself), and wanting to live in that New York, a New York of the 1960s and 1970s–a New York that is now changed. I’m not so curmudgeonly that I think the change is always for the worse, and it’s easy to romanticize something that’s gone. (When I lived here in the 1970s with my parents, there was no air-conditioning in the subway, something that I think is Totally Insane.)

***E.g. The One Hundredth Thing About Caroline

I’ve always had an almost automatic dislike of the jingoism of “Buy American” or the righteous yuppieness of “Buy Local,” but as I age into a middle-aged crank, I’ve begun to understand the emotions behind these slogans more. Without local yarn stores and other small businesses, neighborhoods do lose some of their flavor. Anyway. I have more to say on this topic, including some supportive thoughts about the opposing point of view, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts about whether you shop at your LYS or online and why.

Oh, and the new Seaport Yarn info:

Address: 181 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Phone: 1-800-347-2662



Posted in the Business, Uncategorized, Yarn Stores at March 30th, 2008.

One day I was chatting with my friend about this and that when she said, “Well, you know, there are blankets with sleeves.” I was like, “What in the world is a blanket with sleeves?” This was a concept that baffled me. I am no longer baffled.

Back when I was on my mini-break to Ithaca, I bought a copy of a knitting magazine called Creative Knitting because it had a cute skirt in it. It also had some of the most genuinely insane projects I have ever seen, like this:


Sometimes, there are no words.

Posted in Crazy Knitting, Uncategorized at March 24th, 2008.

Pattern: Tropicana, from MagKnits, by Sabine Riefler.

Yarn: One skein of Koigu KPPPM in P319 (pale purple and orange), and one skein of Koigu KPPPM in P113 (peacock) from Article Pract, in Oakland, California. Each skein is $13.50, so $27 for two.

Needles: Inox 8″ DPNs, size 1, also from Article Pract. They come in a set of five; I lost one the first day. I prefer the Susan Bates DPNs, which are shorter and slicker, but yarn stores seem to only carry Inox.

Project began/ended: December 28, 2007 to March 15, 2008.

Notes and Modifications: 

Notes: First, a little info about the name of the socks. Even though Article Pract is in Oakland, I kept thinking it was in Berkeley, since I seem to think all of the East Bay is one big entity. A couple of years ago, when Adam and I went to visit my family, we ate at Pizzaiolo and I was like, OMG, this pizza place is next to a yarn store! But unfortunately, it was closed, which made me sad. So, this past Christmas, when I was having lunch with a friend who had eaten with us at Pizzaiolo, I was like “I need to go to that yarn store.” (This is the same friend who said, “I thought when you said you started a knitting blog, you meant that you were going to use knitting as a metaphor for life; I didn’t realize it was actually going to be about knitting.”) Anyway, I also think the colors are Very Berkeley: Rainbow! Hippy! Vaguely ethnic! Earthy! Peace-loving!

Modifications: The first and most obvious modification was that I striped two colors in the pattern. This was an idea that I got from the many many chevron scarves floating around the internet that use this same feather and fan pattern, and specifically, from’s chevron scarf, aka the scarf that inspired many. I picked two colors of Koigu that I thought would contrast well; the final effect is a little weird, but I do like them. I think ugly colors of sock yarns have a special siren call for me.

The other modification I made is that I started with 66 stitches in a k2, p1 rib, and then I decreased immediately to 55 stitches to begin the pattern. After a few rounds I decreased again to 44 stitches to finish off the rest of the sock. (You can sort of see how I tried two different methods of decreasing–one from the outside in of one repeat and one from the inside out of one repeat above.) This turned out to be a bad idea.

It would have been okay if I had made the sock a little longer, closer to 7″ or 7.5″ instead of 6″, but I freaked out due to the short yardage of Koigu, and began the foot after 6″ of leg. (Also, I was kind of mad, because I had paid almost $30 for this yarn, and I think that buying another skein of yarn would have made these super-expensive socks, only suitable for black-tie events.) In fact, I actually had some yarn left over, so I could have made the leg a little longer, but the way it is now, it kind of puckers and puffs out around the top. Also, the ankle area is tight, but I’m hoping that is going to stretch.

Photo shoot notes: While these photos were being taken, Laura Bennett, Project Runway Season 3 finalist, her husband, and her children were frolicking in the background. I thought about asking her to pose with the socks, but Adam was like, “Um, after she’s seen you wearing them?” And then I realized that asking a reality show celebrity to hold your sweaty socks might be good blog fodder, but potentially really weird behavior.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Socks, Uncategorized at March 15th, 2008.

I’m never quite sure how interested my readers are in vacation photos. I always think I’m going to think other people’s vacation photos are boring, but actually, I find them fairly interesting. For example, I want to go everywhere Fig and Plum goes. So, in the spirit of conducting a little service journalism, here are some more photos of Ithaca: 2008. (I reviewed all of the yarn stores in Ithaca last year in these posts: Michael’s, Homespun, Knitting Etc.)

Ithaca is Gorges. I am someone who is fairly immune to beauty in nature, and have always felt a certain sympathy for Ronald Reagan’s oft-derided (para)phrase, “You’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all,” particularly because my mother was constantly bringing houseguests (and by extension, me) to Muir Woods during my childhood, which were the woods that inspired Reagan’s comment. My parents always tell a story about how I was reading a book when they tried to make me appreciate some natural California scenery, and without looking up, I said, “Beautiful, so beautiful.”* I lack a certain part of the soul, I guess.

Anyway. I’ve never been a huge fan of vacations that have nature-gazing as their primary focus, but I don’t mind it as a side feature, as long as I don’t have to sleep in a tent. Ithaca is actually rather nice for this, because it has some quite spectacular scenery built-in. My sister actually walks across this gorge every day, which even I, nature-hater, have to admit is pretty spectacular.

Last year, we came at the same time, and the gorges were frozen over.

*Sarah once made me a hilarious calendar of photos of me at different stages in my childhood looking annoyed and reading books like The Shaggy Dog in the middle of trees and camp equipment, photos that were taken over a decade’s worth of annual school-mandated camping trips.

I crave different kinds of vacations at different times of the year–sometimes I want to travel alone, sometimes with friends, etc., but I often am in the mood for a paperback mystery reading / knitting / slothing-kind of vacation, and Ithaca suits that need.

Posted in Uncategorized at March 6th, 2008.

yarn at the game

A few weeks ago, I went to Ithaca, and I popped into Homespun to get a ball of yarn. I just wanted a one-skein project. I thought this skein was pretty, but once I started unwinding it, I realized it was part alpaca, which means that the result project would be drape-y, and hairy, which means that it would be difficult to do anything requiring a lot of stitch definition. Combined with a desire to do something simple, I went into the Ithaca public library, where they had a wonderfully large knitting section, including Books 1-3 of Barbara Walker’s stitch treasuries, and decided to do a cowl in mistake rib. Here’s the start of it:


(Oh, and Knitsane tagged me a while back with a You Make My Day list. Thanks! I’ve got some more blogs I want to link to, but I’m going to spread them out over the next few posts, instead of listing them in this post.)

Posted in Scarves, Uncategorized at March 2nd, 2008.