That Little Scarf

This is the back side of the scarf showing.

Pattern: That Little Scarf, by Anne Hanson, from Knitspot.

Yarn: One skein of superwash merino sock yarn from Maple Creek Farm Fine Wools. I seem to have lost the tag, but I think it was 450 yards and $20/skein. This was the only thing I bought from Rhinebeck 2007, and it took me until now to knit it!

Needles: Size 4 Addi Lace, from Purl.

Project started/ended: Started July 28, finished November 23.

That Little Scarf

This is the front side of the scarf.

Modifications: Well, 3/4 of the way through the scarf I realized that I was doing the p2tog tbl and p3tog tbl wrong–I would slip the stitches knit-wise, and then replace the stitches on the left needle and knit them together. I did this on one of my other shawls, and it seemed okay, but I suddenly realized on this one that you really do need to knit them together by inserting your needle from left to right, tbl, not right to left, tbl. Anyway, it was too late, and I decided to embrace this mistake variation, and continued to do it for the rest of the scarf. But it means that the top of the diamond is different than originally written.

That Little Scarf

I cannot pose with my arms not on my hips. Obviously.

Also, I knit 30 repeats instead of 20. I had quite a bit (maybe 80 yards?) left over, so I could have kept on going, but I got bored, so I stopped. It blocks out quite a bit longer–before blocking, it was 44″ and it blocked out to 60″+. It does have a cool pre-blocking texture, but I decided to block out to get the length.

All in all, it was a fun knit, though not a great subway knit, because I had to look at the pattern for every line. The yarn color is pretty too, no? Also, unlike a triangle shawl, each row is pretty short, instead of an ever-increasing triangle of madness. It took me about a 45 mins. to do each 12-row repeat.

That Little Scarf

I am freezing in these photos. But you wouldn’t have been able to see my “accent scarf” with my big puffy coat on. Sigh. What I do for the blog.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, lace, Scarves, Uncategorized at November 28th, 2008.

How to make a pompom

I think pompom making isn’t too tricky, but here are some step-by-step instructions in case you are confused. This is the Susan Bates set from Purl.

1. Fit two of the circle halves together, bump side touching the flat side of the other. Wrap the halves together until they’re full with yarn–more than you think is necessary.

2. Repeat with another two halves.

3. Slide the legs of the two parts together so they lock.

4. Cut through the groove between the rings.

5. Tie the pompom together by bringing a new piece of yarn through the grooves. Knot and pull tight.

6. Gently pull apart each frame piece.

7. Use the ties to sew pompom on!

Posted in Gadgets, Uncategorized at November 23rd, 2008.

Double Irish Chain Hat

Pattern: Patterned watch cap, with the Double Irish Chain pattern, from Robin Hansen’s Favorite Mittens.

Yarn: Two skeins of Colinette Cadenza, in Slate, $10/skein; 1 skein of white Zara Merino extrafine, $10; both from Downtown Yarns. If you make the brim shorter, like 1.5″ and no pompom, you could probably get away with one skein of Cadenza.

Needles: Size 4 Hiya Hiya bamboo 16″ for brim, size 8 Balene plastic 16″ for stranded colorwork, size 5 Clover bamboo 16″ for the stockinette top, and size 6 Boye DPNs for decreases. (The DPNs and stockinette top should have been on the same size needle, but I didn’t have a size 6 16″ or size 5 DPNs, hence the change.)

Project started/ended: November 10 to November 16–5 days from cast on to cast off, with 1 more day for the pompom!

 Double Irish Chain Hat

This is my first stranded project–whee! I think I did a pretty good job. I’ll have to take a photo of the insides so you can see the floats. The Colinette Cadenza yarn color is beautiful–I felt sad to have to interrupt it with the pattern, but nothing was going to stop me from fair-isle-ing!

I enjoyed learning how to do stranded knitting, but I was shocked because I am normally a loose knitter, and have to go down two sizes from the recommended gauge, but on the stranded knitting, I had to go up two sizes to make the gauge. Robin Hansen’s book is very clear and helpful about how to do the actual knitting, and all in all, it went pretty well. (There were two periods of knitting rage: once, when I couldn’t get gauge and the second time when I couldn’t figure out how to decrease within the pattern–hence the solid top.)

My last two projects were with rougher yarns, so I was shocked how soft the merino felt. It was like butter! Here’s a blocking shot:
Blocking hat

The hat is blocking over a tupperware bowl (one of a set, the smaller size is to the left) balanced precariously on a drinking glass placed over a Ms. Bento container. (P.S. That sink’s rusty corner once cut Adam’s finger so deep we had to go to the emergency room. This was early on in my knitting career, so I was actually kind of excited because I got to knit during the 4+ hours we waited, before they finally gave him stitches.) It was cool this weekend, so to speed up the drying, I started blow-drying it. You know you’ve reached a stage of insanity in your life when you’re standing in a bathroom, blow-drying a hat pulled over a bowl, balanced on a glass, on top of a thermos.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Hats, Uncategorized at November 17th, 2008.

I’m almost done with my scarf, though I’ve already knitted nine more repeats than the pattern, and I haven’t decided how many more to do. I’ve also started another project, which will be the subject of my next post. <–And if that preview sentence isn’t the most exciting one you’ve ever read, then clearly you haven’t been reading this blog very long. It’s true: My next post will talk about knitting.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Anyway, the scarf, at least, has been having a mildly interesting life, even if its knitter has not. Here, it and a Claes Oldenburg shuttlecock get ready for lift-off, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, in Kansas City, MO.

That Little Scarf

Here, it watches the New York City Marathon.

Here is a funny bit of news about how an elderly lady who was slashing her neighbors’ tires (because she thought too many people were parking in her neighborhood) was sentenced to knitting sweaters for all of her “victims.” [via The Rainey Sisters] On a semi-related note, I was reading my Folk Mittens book, and it mentioned that in certain cultures, children were not allowed to go out and play until they had knitted a certain amount of rows (I think the Faroe Islands) and that brides were expected to knit mittens for all of their wedding guests (I think Latvia).

I’ve had a couple people suggest that I sell some of my projects, and I’m like, um no, because then I would turn into a sweatshop serf at home, instead of having a fun little hobby. I would guess that’s how people who had to knit might feel, instead of those who do it for fun. Here, obviously, is the place to link again to that Freakonomics article about knitting, with the salient quote being, “Whether or not you’re getting paid, it’s work if someone else tells you to do it and leisure if you choose to do it yourself. ”

Though on a side note, I am actually rather fascinated by the economics of how people try to make money from their knitting hobby, particularly designers. Sometimes I think that the knitting designers (on the Ravelry boards, at least) seem to get all up in arms about things like copyright, in an attitude very similar to freelance magazine writers. I was a full-time freelancer for a while, and still do some stuff on the side sometimes, and I’ve found that freelance writers seem to get upset (on message boards, at least) in the same way as knitting designers. In a way, I think it’s because neither profession is particularly profitable, so people get outraged about copyright infringement and all-rights contracts (hot topics for both designers and writers) because they need to hold on to every dollar they can. Sometimes I think the better solution would be to (a) find a more profitable line of work and/or (b) look at the future of their business and actual challenges they’re facing. I think the internet has really changed the notion of access and copyright, and for lack of a better term, the “knowledge economy.”

The internet had totally changed something like knitting. In ye olden times, people pretty much knit what their neighbors and families knit, and then when books and magazines became popular, maybe people learned from that. But the internet has totally broadened people’s knowledge of techniques and styles, and more importantly, provided that information mostly for free. I mentioned to Adam yesterday over dinner that I was interested to see how Twist Collective does, compared to Interweave [an internet-only magazine, versus a traditional print magazine], and he said, correctly, I think, that Interweave should be much more worried about Ravelry. Ravelry allows you to search with such speed and ease for patterns for pretty much anything that you want, whether free or paid, that it has become a de facto crowdsourced knitting encyclopedia. For freelance writers and knitting pattern designers, their specialized knowledge has become almost obliterated by everything from Wikipedia to Ravelry.

For something like a medical problem, I would still prefer to go to a doctor who went to medical school, rather than trying to self-diagnose myself, but I think many less-specialized forms of knowledge have shrunk in value, as a direct result of the information posted for free on the internet. So, on that cheerful note, I suggest that all of my readers learn a new skill to see them through the economic recession. Or go to medical school.

Posted in the Business, travelingproject, Uncategorized at November 15th, 2008.

Knitting and voting

I voted and I knitted.

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at November 4th, 2008.

I was going to write up a free pattern for these mittens, but I have been busy with work and life, (and being obsessed with the election, like the rest of the country), so I’m just going to show them off. The cables are from The Harmony Guides: Cables and Arans, which Adam gave me for Christmas last year (along with the knit and purl volume of the guides). Let me say that I like this book and its clear photos, instructions, and charts. However, it is organized in an extremely illogical way. These two cables, WHICH ARE CLEARLY THE SAME CABLE, mirrored, are separated by a number of pages. I’m not sure whether the editor of the book decided to trick the reader by not grouping together related cables (and techniques) so that the reader would think they were getting more for their money than they really were, or he/she/they had some sort of life/work melt down, and just decided to throw all the pages together haphazardly, and be like, eff-it, here you go. So, though I like the book, I am warning you that it could be improved, organization-wise.

Pattern: My own. I’m calling them Waffle House Mittens, because the cables look like half a waffle. And I like Waffle House, though sadly, I do not live in the South, and thus, never get to go there. Why New York City does not have a cheap grits-to-go place is a tragedy I cannot understand.

Yarn: Less than 1 skein of Cascade 220 Heathers, color: 9452/summer sky. $7.25 from Purl. This is a common yarn, so you can probably get it cheaper somewhere else, I just happen to like Purl.

Needles: Size 3, Susan Bates. I knit super loose though, so the gauge on these is 21 stitches=4″ in stockinette.

Project started/ended: October 18 to 26. This was a quick project, it took me three days to knit each mitten.

Modifications: Well, this was my own pattern, so I don’t really think they were “modifications,” per se, but on the first mitten, my thumb gore came out weird because I increased every other round, which made my thumb look like it had a goiter. Also, the cuff was a little loose. I fixed this on the second mitten, by, respectively, increasing every third round, and knitting less stitches on the cuff, and then increasing before starting the hand, but then I decreased the top a little too pointy, even though I took notes on the first to try to make it the same. If you can knit a basic mitten, all you have to do is stick in the cables (on pages 100 and 104 of the new version of the Harmony Guides: Cables and Aran), but remember that if you’re knitting in the round, you’ll have to adapt the pattern a bit. (On even rounds, read the instructions from right to left, reversing knits with purls, and purls with knits, and crossing the cables in the front, instead of the back.)

Photo shoot notes: These photos were taken at Old Stone House, Brooklyn, which is a recreated version of a Dutch stone house located on the site of a Revolutionary War battle. Once, revolutionaries roamed Park Slope. Now, just yuppies.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Mittens, Uncategorized at November 2nd, 2008.

I’m not normally into post revision, but I did change a post about Black Mountain Weavers. I have received a couple of negative comments, and I realized that I was inadvertently having a more powerful impact on this store’s image than I meant to.

I was tipped off to my secret super powers when I noticed that I would occasionally get a comment on that post, and when I noticed that it was turning up as a fairly common search term on my stat analytics. Basically, Black Mountain Weavers does not really have a web presence, so whenever anyone googled the store, my blog post would come up as the second item. So my somewhat flip assessment of the store was transformed, via the power of the Google search engine, from a review read by the three people who read my blog, to The Review that anyone looking for info about this store would read.

I don’t necessarily think my assessment of the store was unfair–it did have a pretty small and rather pricey selection–but I reviewed that store fairly early on in my knitting store reviews, and I didn’t necessarily have a sense of the full range of the prices common to indie yarns. Also, I visited it before I read Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, which had a paragraph that I found particularly persuasive: “I’m always on high alert for anything indicating small-scale, locally produced yarn. Not only is it a chance  to get something totally unique in an age of increasing conformity, but it’s a small way to validate and support what these farmers are trying to do…by supporting a sheep farm–by making even one purchase a year–you’re helping sustain an important business and a rapidly disappearing agricultural way of life. You’re also helping ensure a richer, higher-quality variety of yarns for all knitters.”

Adam calls the woo version of the food movement “sustainorganica,” and though it’s easy to make fun of, and not necessarily what I want all the time (I went through a period of addiction to McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish, despite having grown up in the  “sustainorganica” capital, San Francisco), I think the movement does have worthy goals. So, I put my original review in strike-through and moved it to the bottom of the post, so it wouldn’t show up “above the fold” on Google searches, and tried to write a slightly more neutral review of the store so that knitters who are interested in the store will not necessarily be dissuaded from visiting it.

I don’t necessarily agree with some of the comments on that post, but I think the real lesson is not whether you should or should not support independent yarn spinners and dyers, but rather, how all businesses need to make the internet work for them, not against them. Even if you are some sort of live-off-the-land business or one that was created as a response to our overly technical world (not that that is necessarily Black Mountain Weaver’s philosophy, just a hypothetical), it is important to establish a strong web presence so that when people search for you, they will find how YOU want to be represented on a Google search, instead of a third-party’s opinion. This includes learning how to properly tag and program your posts, so that your page will show up high on the Google rankings. Whether you like it or not, the internet is the future, and any business that wants to survive needs to be aware of the power of customer-generated comments, whether on their own blogs or user-generated sites like Yelp.

Posted in the Business, Uncategorized, Yarn Stores at November 1st, 2008.