Tuesday, February 27, 2007

M Visits LYS: A Play in Two Scenes

Cast of Characters

Me: that is I
M: 6'4" of curly-headed manliness
Rebecca: Proprietress of LYS
LatBTs: Ladies at the Big Table (four of them)

A dark and stormy lunch hour at the LYS

Scene 1:

Me and M enter LYS.
Rebecca: Hi again! How are you?

Me: Great. I'm here to look at sock yarn.

Rebecca: Let me know if you have any questions.

Me spots the Tofutsies yarn and completely ignores Rebecca. Rebecca doesn't seem to mind.

M: Is that the yarn you were looking for?

Me: Yes, it has soy silk fiber mixed with the wool so it will make a lighter sock for the warmer spring weather.

LatBT: Do you knit?

M: No, I'm just the cheerleader.

Me: Oh, look Panda Cotton! (Me moves around the display)

LatBT (holding a big sweater and advancing on M): Would you try this on for me please?

M: Umm...

LatBT: I want to see if my repair is invisible when the sweater is worn.

M: OK (starts putting the sweater on).

LatBT: You're much larger than the sweater's owner (eyes M quite thoroughly), but I think you'll do. Yes, I can't see the mistake at all. Thanks, Rebecca, for your help.

Rebecca: No problem. You did a great job.

M suddenly crouches down by Me sans sweater. He sticks to Me like glue.

M: The colors are really pretty. Which ones do you want?

Me: I really want the pink and white one, but I can't decide between these two.

M: Why don't you get both?

Me: I shouldn't...

M (still glued to Me): Sure, you should.

Rebecca: Here's a sock I knit with the Tofutsies. (holds out a sock to Me)

Me (taking the sock): Very nice. What size needles did you use?

Rebecca: I used twos for the cuff and size ones for the foot.

M: Do you need any size one dpns? (school-girlish sighs are heard from the LatBTs)

Rebecca, Me and M move to the front counter, where Rebecca starts ringing up the yarn.

M reaching for his wallet: My treat. (More sighes from LatBTs.)

Me: Oh! You don't have to!

M: My pleasure!

Rebecca: You've earned 10% off today.

M (signing receipt): Great! Have a good afternoon!

Rebecca: Thank you! You too!

Me and M leave LYS.

Scene 2
A few minutes later in Me and M's pick-up.

M (starting the engine): I thought for a few minutes that I would have some serious explaining to do back there.

Me (looking up confused from yarn bag): What would you have to explain in a yarn store?

M: That NO means NO!

Suddenly Me understands M's glue-like behavior in the LYS. A chilling image of Rebecca restrained at the counter by Addi Turbo cables and Me with a size 10 Brittany Birch needle sticking out of her chest as the LatBTs drag a protesting M into the back room of the LYS where all the Jaeggerspun Zephyr, Classic Elite Lush, and Frog Tree alpaca yarn is kept. Me silently resolves that if M ever accompanies her to the LYS again, she will be sure to have armed herself with her size 17 Bryspun needles in order to protect M's virtue. She pats M's knee in sympathy. They drive off into the lunch hour rain.


M has recovered from his ordeal. And the yarn is beautiful:


Three cheers for M!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How I Spent My Sunday

Lately, I have been in a sweater slump, so much so that I read with alarm Sheepish Annie's post in which she mentions the dreaded "I Started a Blog and Now I Can't Seem to Knit Sweaters Anymore" Curse. All my sweater issues can be summed up by that one horrendous word gauge. I have a jacket on the needles, that I swatched for last autumn, and I seem to have gauge. I got side-tracked for awhile with the Landscape Shawl and the Aran Pocket Shawl and the pink and periwinkle sweater swatches. But, the Landscape Shawl is done, the Aran Pocket Shawl moves along steadily as TV knitting, and the pink and periwinkles sweaters remain swatches and ideas for now. So, maybe it would be OK to really work on this jacket. Maybe I won't have a tremendous gauge disappointment. I did a little appeasement for the Gauge Goddess this afternoon.

Why yes, that is a 10 lb. chocolate bar. M bought it.

M really did buy the 10 lb. chocolate bar the last time we shopped at Trader Joe's. It was only $20, and he couldn't pass up the bargain. The jacket pattern is from Knitter's recent book of jacket patterns, and this one is by Jean Frost, who writes nice patterns with good fit and detailing. It is a good style for a bosc pear like me. Not too huge, but not too fitted either; neither too long, nor too short. And I like knit/purl brocade patterns. They are interesting without creating bulk like cables or holes like lace. The yarn is Cascade 220, a personal favorite, and I love the shade of blue--neither too dark nor too light. It's all just right. Or, it could be all just right, if I keep gauge.

I had trouble reading the chart for the brocade pattern. This caused me much shame, especially when I broke down and wrote out the chart as knitting text.


Then I realized that I could read the chart well enough to transcribe it to text, so it was only during the knitting that I kept screwing up. After far more puzzling than should have been necessary, I realized that I am most used to reading knitting charts for socks knit in the round where every chart row is read right to left. Or, I've knit from charts where the backside row is "in pattern" with the right side row, so the chart is pretty much superfluous for the WS rows. But with this brocade pattern, every row is different, and the wrong side rows were from left to right. Arghh! I have now accepted that I needed to write out the pattern, and that that is OK. So now it's all up to Mistress Gauge being kind.

I really spent most of the afternoon working on a manuscript for work and rewriting much of the statistical analyses. FUN! FUN! FUN! Therefore, I cajoled M into making me a new cocktail as soon as it was a reasonable cocktail hour.

emerald cocktail.JPG
The Emerald Cocktail made with Bushmills 10 year Irish Whiskey

The recipe for the Emerald comes from Esquire Drinks by David Wondrich; it is a Manhattan made with Irish whiskey instead of rye and orange bitters instead of Angostura. I would call it yummylicious, but if I call it that in my blog, and then M reads it, he will never ever make me another cocktail as long as we both shall live. So, instead I will say that it was quite smooth and good, not as brawny as a rye Manhattan, but still rather sophisticated. Wondrich describes it as "delightfully smooth and mellow," and I quite agree.

Perhaps if the chocolate was not to Mistress Gauge's liking, the cocktail was.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Good Swatch, Bad Swatch

Bad light pink swatch. Good fuschia swatch.

In good news/bad news situations, I try to get the bad news out of the way first. That way, after I survive the bad news, I have the good to brighten me up. So I'll start with the bad swatch.

While reading one of Margaux's posts at tentenknits last week, I realized that I wasn't as far along in my swatching with the light pink Shelburne yarn as I had thought. I can be pretty cavalier about row gauge, but thanks to Margaux I realized that row gauge is pretty important in a V-neck. I had stitches per inch, but rows per inch was off by an entire row (4.5 rpi vs 3.5 rpi in the pattern). Not good. I also knit the swatch the way I've knit all other stockinette swatches: flat. The sweater is knit in the round (a new thing for me). Not good. I tend to knit tighter in the round than flat. Really not good. So I knit on some WIPs (but that's a different post) and swatched for a fuschia scarf.

The fuschia chunky baby alpaca from Plymouth Yarns made a good swatch, a very good swatch. I used the Piecrust Basketweave from Vogue Stitchionary, Volume 1 (pattern #33). I charted the pattern because the repeat of 8 stitches plus 10 confused me. It really is a repeat of 8 stitches plus 2, the swatch in the book has wide borders which is reflected in the 10 stitches for symmetry. The Piecrust Basketweave is a narrow, horizontal basket weave. To look good in a scarf, I thought it would be best to cast on the length and then knit to the width. My lovely gauge swatch indicated that I was getting 3.5 spi, and I wanted a 60-inch scarf. My calculator told me that would be 210 stitches which is a multiple of 8 + 2. Destiny! I cast on 212 stitches so I could have a knit stitch at each end for making a picot selvage.

I'm almost half done!

I used a cable cast on, which looks nice given that the first row of the pattern is a WS row, so the decorative look of the cable cast on shows on the right side. I need to look at some bind offs to see if there is a good one to use as the opposite of this cast on. Montse Stanley has always come to my aid before, I hope she can again. If any readers have a suggestion, I would be happy to hear it!

Right now, I need to block the Sea Silk Berry scarf from Victorian Lace Today so I can send it to Grandma Adeline. Pictures to follow soon. I'm going to make another wide-bordered scarf from VLT next. I want to do the diamond insertion (p. 90), but I can't decide between two different wide borders (Diamond Lace border, p. 90; Clarence border, p.82). Unfortunately, both work with the diamond insertion, and both are really pretty. Decisions, decisions!

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


M's joinery:

tongue and groove


interlocking dados

My joinery:

knitting on the second border perpendicular to the scarf length

OK, so I don't use power tools, I don't make a lot of sawdust, and I don't know a nifty name for this type of "joinery," but knitting the second border of the wide-bordered scarf perpendicular to the scarf body, and attaching it to the scarf as I knit is fun. Grandma Adeline will have a new scarf! The Sea Silk is soft; I think she'll like it. FO pictures to follow soon.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Landscape Shawl: Pattern Notes

I've worn the Landscape Shawl a couple of times now, even though we are having unseasonably warm weather, and I am completely hooked on the whole shawl gestalt. They are so handy and pretty! Last Friday dawned a sunny day, so I cajoled M into taking some pictures outside.

GMM Landscape Shawl

Landscape Shawl

Pattern: Landscape Shawl from Fibertrends (2000)
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Green Mountain Madness (2.3 skeins; 420 yd/skein)
Needles: Inox, US 5, 24-inch circular (pointy tip, scratchy sound)
Dimensions: 40" deep; wingspan 75" (very good for my body)
New Techniques: knitting a triangle, picot selvedge, knitted cast-on

Options: The pattern is written for several different yarn weights (lace to worsted). I used a fingering weight, and used a needle one size smaller than suggested. There were two options for the bind off depending upon the shape of the triangle I wanted. I chose to use a size 8 needle so that I could get more wingspan, which worked out very well. The other option was to use the same size needle as for the knitting, and then the result should be a longer, truer triangle shape.

Notes: As some readers have commented in WIP posts, this is a good pattern for a variegated yarn, as there are some stitch pattern variations, but no lace or cabling to get lost in the color changes. I like the drape and lightness of the supersock fabric, but golly jeepers, that made it a big project. If I were to ever knit this pattern again, it would be with a multi-colored DK or worsted weight yarn. I really only see myself making this again if I were to have such a yarn, and not enough of it for a sweater. In fingering yarn, this was 47,600 stitches, in worsted weight only 17,800 (67,900 in lace weight!). All in all, it was a long, easy knit. I'm glad I knit it; it stays on my shoulders without falling. I love the colors and the fabric, but I'm ready for more of a challenge.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I did it. Finally.

I finally successfully "Kitchenered" the toe of a sock (you thought I was going to talk about the Landscape shawl--that's waiting for a nice daylight photo-op). I have grafted the toes before, but have usually ended up with some loop I can't do anything with except hide on the inside. There was also the time I ended up with a beautiful row of purl bumps (3 attempts), when I swear I was doing stockinette grafting. This time I was determined to get it right. I went to the Knitty Kitchener tutorial and followed the big pictures for every stitch. The test subject was the first Fleece Artist Merino Parrot sock.


The result isn't perfect, mostly because I kept fussing with it, but it is grafted with no extra loops (or knots!), and the grafting is stockinette. Mission accomplished.

I usually don't graft because I do a variety of pointed toes that I have learned from several of Nancy Bush's excellent sock patterns. I intended that with these socks, but I knit the foot rather longer than I planned, so it was graft the toe or rip back. I have pointy feet so a pointed toe is a good choice. I also generally choose a square or Dutch heel because my heel is pretty square shaped. While the rest of me is all curves, my feet chose to be all angles.

I am eager to start my pink sweater, however, M's parents are visiting us this weekend en route to a 10-day cruise among the Hawaiian Islands (retirement is a real killer). I need to dust, tidy, and bake a chocolate cake. This is a recipe to die for. It is very easy, and sensationally delicious. The only drawback is the requirement for 2 10-inch cake pans (no cake pan sizes are not easily interchangeable). M's Dad has lost most of his sense of taste, but he can still taste chocolate, so chocolate he will get! However, this limits my knitting time. I think I shall concentrate on my socks and other UFOs, and I'll cast on for the sweater next week. I also have a lot of swatching for learning purposes and my periwinkle sweater to contemplate. So much to knit!

Well, it is time here to watch House and then Boston Legal and do a little sock knitting.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Off. The. Needles.

It's not blocked yet (tomorrow), or the few ends woven in, but the Landscape Shawl is bound off!!! 47,600 stitches. Bound off!


Thanks to everyone who left such encouraging comments concerning this shawl! I hope to coerce M in to helping with a photo shoot after it is blocked.

Now, it's time for one of these:

Blinker Cocktail

I hope you had a good weekend!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Only recently have I become aware that pink causes controversy among knitters. Pink's a love it or leave it color. One meme that made its way around asked a simple question: red or pink? I thought both. But most people had a definite preference. Red is red and pink is pink, and never the twain shall meet. I admit that I am not much for the two hues together, a little too Valentine, but separately, I love them both. In fact, my wedding dress was pink. I have blue skin undertones, therefore pink makes me look healthy and awake, so I am always open to a new pink garment.

A few weeks ago while browsing Webs, I found a steal of a deal on a bulky yarn that came in a lovely shade of icy pink. The yarn even came with a free pattern for a wide V-neck raglan sweater, just the sort of sweater I could use to showcase some of my beaded jewelry. I couldn't resist.

Valley Yarns Sherburne in icy pink and Cascade Yarns Baby Grand Alpaca in fuschia.

I couldn't help but add a few skeins of the baby alpaca for a scarf. If the chunky alpaca doesn't get too fluffy, I will try it in a brioche cable scarf from the Winter 2006 Twists and Turns.

As soon as the yarn arrived I swatched for the sweater, and unlike my usual tendency, I had to go up rather than down a needle size.


I'll be knitting on size 10.5 needles! Fast knit! Yay! As soon as the Landscape Shawl is blocking, the icy pink is on the needles.

To stay with the pink theme, I'm trying a new author for some very light reading, The Secret of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. This is Willig's debut novel, which reviews have described as a swashbuckling, romantic romp. The story takes place both in present day and during the early 19th century. The present day heroine, Eloise Kelly, is a history graduate student researching British aristocratic spies during the Napoleonic Wars such as the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian, and the Pink Carnation, the most secret of the flower spies. The present day part of the story is in first person with self-deprecating humor and a chatty tone. When she starts to make some progress in her research, the story switches to third person in 1803 London. I'm not any farther than this first switch, but I am pretty sure the story goes back and forth. There is a lot of witty repartee between the characters. It is a fun story so far. There aren't going to be any insights into the human condition or humanity's place in the cosmos, but it's a nice bit of leaven during a rainy February.

Well, the Landscape Shawl is hollering at me from the knitting basket, best get to it.

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


It's all Landscape Shawl all the time here at Molecular Knitting. Well, there's a little work on the FA parrot socks, too. I'm almost done with the first sock! Here it is relaxing on our faux black mink throw.


Progress on the Landscape Shawl is up to 67%. Two-thirds done! It was only a little over a week ago that I had just started the moss stitch chevron. Now I am into the final stitch pattern of reverse stockinette. Because each row is one stitch greater than the previous row, I can calculate my percentage completed after each row with the formula:

R/2 x (R+1)= S
S/T x 100= percent completed
Where R=last completed row #; S= # stitches knit; T=total stitches in completed shawl (can be calculated with the first formula, using the total number of rows in the shawl for R). This does assume that you started with one stitch in row 1, so it works well for triangles. I cast on three stitches to begin, but I figure the two extra stitches won't change any percentage value considering the entire shawl is 47,600 stitches.

All the green of the Parrot yarn in the socks, and the Green Mountain Madness of the shawl led me to determine what color green I am.

You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts any strange habits you may have.

Hmm...I haven't done the 6 Weird Things About Me meme, but perhaps I should.

Now I must get ready for my weekly phone call with Mom. She lives in Wisconsin. This afternoon it was 3 degrees in Oshkosh, WI (Farenheit) and 63 degrees here in Davis, CA. We also have daffodils and almond trees in bloom. I think I'll lead with the weather.

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I'll get to the turquoise in a moment. This weekend Karen arrived and approved her mitts, and she requested another pair. I showed her both my fingering weight screaming red mitts and the chunky baby alpaca mitts I made last summer. She really liked the alpaca, so I gave them to her also. I know she will wear both pairs, as she wore them while visiting us. In addition, I know she will take good care of them, because when I mentioned that they shouldn't be washed in the machine, she answered, "Of course, not! They're made of wool and fine fibers." Did I plan to take a photo of Karen in her mitts? Yes. Did I remember to do so? No. Did I take my camera with us on Saturday when Karen, M and I went wine tasting (they tasted, I drove) in the Sierra Nevada Foothills in the glorious sunshine? No. Am I a complete goofball blogger? Quite possibly.

Karen offered to pay for the mitts, but I declined. I knew M wouldn't want her to pay, and I was pleased she was very pleased with the mitts. After she left this afternoon, M took me to the LYS and paid for my purchases. I needed a size 10.5 32-inch circular needle (why in a later post), and I chose Addi Turbos, and I also bought 5 balls of beautiful turquoise cotton.


Since I have decided to give the Sea Silk berry scarf with the wide border I am knitting from Victorian Lace Today to my grandmother, I decided that I wanted to make a different wide bordered scarf for myself. And, since it is usually blazingly hot here, I thought glossy "baumwolle-cable" would be more wearable than wool or silk. The yarn came in several lovely colors, but I really liked this light turquoise. It reminded me of a shop clerk in London, who, when I said the yarn in a particular sweater was a lovely turquoise (TURkoise), said, "turKWAAHHZ, love, turKWAAHHZ." I am about half done with the scarf for my grandmother, and then I'll start my turKWAAHHZ scarf for myself.

But now it's back to the Landscape Shawl.


See those two red marker next to each other? They signify the start of the final stitch pattern, reverse stockinette (a real tough stitch pattern there). I am 63% done! This is much more exciting than it looks and sounds. My in-laws are visiting the weekend of February 16th on their way from Illinois to Hawaii. Do you think I can have the shawl done and blocked by then? It's a goal.

I hope you had a good weekend!