March 28, 2006

FLAK progress

First, a slightly poor picture of my FLAK progress so far. I've split the main middle cable in half for the two front sections, so the front will actually end up about an inch wider than the back, since I intend to add a ribbed button band, but I think that won't be an issue.

I've made a little more progress on the bear rug since I washed it, but I didn't feel it was all that important to show you a picture of the back end of a fuzzy bear skin rug, just because I managed to finish the back feet. Later, when it has a head, I'll see if I can't convince one or two of the more color-coordinated cats to pose on it for scale.

Oh. I forgot to mention that I started the Pacific Northwest shawl a week or so ago. It's an insanely easy pattern to follow since it is all garter stitch lace, and the people at Fibertrends realize that there are some people, like me, whose brains and charts do not mix, so there are clear text instructions included. I was going along quite well when I was working on it at home, but then I went to Yarn-stricken and I really ought to know better than to try to do lace in large groups because no matter how easy the pattern is, lace is just not the best project to be working on when you are not really paying attention to what you are doing and instead sitting around a table packed with knitters at a bakery, talking about Roombas (we have one and we love it because how can you not love a little robot that vacuums the house for you while you knit?). This is actually the reason why I have not touched the shawl since Sunday before last, because I made it about halfway through the evergreen tree lace section, but something seems off, and I suspect I'm going to need to rip back a few rows to fix it. If it was just for me I probably wouldn't bother, because visually it'll likely turn out fine, but this is being made for a shop sample, so I really want to make sure it's as close to perfect as it can be.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:40 PM | Comments (2)

March 26, 2006

What lurks below

I have determined that there are invisible creatures out there who lurk in the homes of knitters. Specifically, they lurk in the homes of knitters who do cables. And their sole purpose in life is to lie in wait until the knitter has done a significant enough amount of a particular cable that it would be extremely inconvenient to have to rip it back, and then they strike. When the knitter is distracted - by cats or the need for food or a particularly gripping moment on Lost, for example - the creatures creep out of their hiding places and rearrange the cabled stitches, all the while cackling evilly in a range too high for the human ear to hear. And suddenly, without warning, the knitter will look down at what she has been working on, which seemed to be turning out perfectly fine for the past 30 rows or so, and realize that something went horribly wrong. And these creatures never make tiny little errors - the type that you might be able to cover up with duplicate stitch, or by claiming that it is a design feature. No, they delight in great big obvious errors - the sort that any idiot should have seen within a row or two of them occurring, instead of waiting thirty two rows to be noticed.

There may be swearing. Oh yes. And there may be moments when the knitter has to put the cabled work aside and walk away to avoid flinging it across the room (to the utter disappointment of the wool-eating cats). But the clever knitter does not give these nasty little creatures the benefit of sinking into sobs of dispair. No, the clever and resourceful knitter heaves a big sigh of determination, resolutely rips out huge sections of her hard work, and declares that redoing it is better because she can now add something even better, like being able to mirror the outer cables, or add that extra selvedge stitch she had been thinking would have been a good idea if only she'd thought about it sooner.

Or in other words, progress on the FLAK cardigan has been coming along well (back and front sections only need a few more rows each before I can start the sleeves), but it has not been without a few stumbles along the way.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:23 AM | Comments (4)

March 17, 2006

Saddles, Socks and Suds

Tuesday night I sat down and whipped out my shoulder saddles for FLAK. I got the first one done before the library knitting group, got a few rows done at the library, and then finished up the second once I got home. They're on stitch holders now and I am hoping that tomorrow I will be able to get a really good start on the back. Amusingly I am still eying my chosen cables and pondering a few tweaks to the pattern, but I am hopeful that once I finally get started on the back, I will be less willing to rip it all out and try something new. At least, this is the prevailing theory. Considering that the window of time I've got to get this cardigan done before we leave for Ireland is closing rapidly, I just need to shut my brain off and do the cables I've got, and if I really find I wanted something different, use that as the perfect excuse to make myself another cabled sweater or cardigan later.

Wednesday I carefully unwrapped the bear rug, wove in the remaning ends, removed the wrappers from the yarn skeins which had been 'blessed' (euww), and took the afflicted Denise needles apart to soak in some warm soapy water. I went onto the Lion Brand website to double check that the fun fur can go through the wash - and yes, by the way, it can - so in it went. The doused skeins also went into the washing machine, dumped inside a pillow case I tied shut. And so far, it appears that everything has come out clean and fresh and none the worse for wear. Phew. However, until the rug is done, it is going to live in the one room of the house where the cats cannot enter - the laundry room. They can 'help' me all they want when I am actively working on it, but this is just a reminder that when it comes to cats and yarn, cats just cannot be trusted (grin).

And in the middle of all the FLAK'ing and the bear rug bathing, I managed to finish up the first of Richard's slowly striping Limbo socks (when I post a picture you will see what I mean about the slowly striping part) and it fits him perfectly. I've cast on for the second and am about halfway through the leg, and I am really hoping to get it finished soon because I've got some Sockpal000za socks to start one of these days and I do prefer to only have one pair of socks on the needles at a time.

Speaking of socks, I think it's time I admit that I have a teensy little problem with sock yarn. Every time I tell myself that I am not allowed to buy any more yarn, there is always the caveat of 'but sock yarn doesn't count'. And naturally this has resulted in a rather large pile of sock yarn in my stash - enough to keep me busy for quite a long time, even if I did nothing but knit socks. So it was probably for the best that I discovered The Sock Yarn Addicts Club and was able to join just in the nick of time. Of course, I do have until April 1st, when it officially starts, and there is at least one more opportunity to go browse the huge selection of gorgeous Opal sock yarn at Fiber Elements between now and then, but I am telling myself to be strong and resist. And also thinking that it might be a really, really good idea if the next time I went to Fiber Elements (and was faced with Opal sock yarn temptation) that I ought to leave my checkbook at home.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:44 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2006

The perils of knitting with (certain) cats

Despite my claims to the contrary, I have not been casting on for multiple projects this past week, and instead have been soley focused on knitting the bear skin rug. In fact, yesterday morning I finished the body and the top of the head and picked up the stitches for the first back leg. By the time I reached this point the rug was getting pretty darn unwieldy (the body itself is about four feet long, and that doesn't include length of tail or head, plus it's several feet wide) and heavy, so I moved downstairs to the dining room table so I could spread it out and work on it there. I ended up going out to lunch with my parents (Richard was off at a writing group brunch) so I carefully folded it up to hide all the ends and left it in the middle of the dining room table. Prior to this I was always very good to stuff the entire thing into a large plastic bag and close it up, so as to avoid feline assistance with the ends, but I figured it would be safe there.

Hah. Sigh.

One of our cats, Zucchini, is kind of a problem child. He's had fear issues all his life (he was a former foster baby of mine and this is why I have him, because he was otherwise unadoptable - and we are pretty sure that it's chemical in nature because of the five in his litter, three were okay, and he and his brother, who I also kept, weren't). He's very sweet and affectionate to me, although it's taken him twelve years to decide that I am safe enough for him to actually come sit on my lap (he was never feral, but you'd never know it by the way he acts at times - we call him our Invisible Cat because Richard and I (and the house call vet) are the ONLY ones who ever see him). But he does have some problems. And one of them is the occasional bout of inappropriate peeing. He's improved tremendously over the past few years, but still, there is always the occasional setback. And considering how long it's been since the last time, I guess we were overdue.

So while I ponder the best way to clean the thing (can Denise cables go through the wash, do you suppose?), the bear skin rug project is on hold. And in a way this is likely for the best. The remainig five skeins of yarn arrived from Black Water Abbey, so this evening I will pull out my swift and my ball winder (oh how I love my swift and my ball winder!) and wind up the first skein and see if I can't at least crank out the shoulder saddles for my FLAK cardigan.

Posted by Jenipurr at 06:31 PM | Comments (4)

March 05, 2006


I decided that the only way I was going to get that sweater done was if I took all the pieces with me to craft night, and not bring anything else, thus forcing me to do nothing but seam. So I did, and I seamed and we talked and I knit the ribbing edges for the front placket, and there was a small kitten making the rounds of all of our laps because there was lots of yarn to bap at, and by the time I was ready to leave, it was done. Phew.

I washed it and wore it today and it's a little on the loose side, which suggest that either my real gauge didn't match my swatch gauge, or else I was too generous on the measurements; either way I'm going to have to make some modifications to what I plug into the Sweater Wizard software next time. But overall I am quite pleased with the result.

The yarn is a cotton and acrylic slub that I picked up last year at Stitches West (don't recall the booth). It's a heavy yarn - not in width, but in how the fabric turns out, but this means that it has a nice drape - especially since it's rather roomy. I got a lot of compliments on it, especially since I discovered that the socks I received in my first sock pal exchange match it perfectly!

Speaking of socks, I completely forgot to include something sock-related and very cool that happened to me when I was at Stitches West. I got to meet Emy, the person who is responsible for getting me into sock knitting in the first place! When I did the knitting Secret Pal last spring, she sent me a ball of blue striped sock yarn and a set of DPN's and most importantly, a pattern which was so easy that I decided I just needed to get over my irrational fear of turning heels once and for all, and once I started I just couldn't stop. She was working at one of the boothes and had mentioned she might be there, so at one point during Stitches I wandered around all the booths surrounding the one she said hers was next to, eying all the people working at all of them and trying to figure out which one might be her. Luckily she recognized me first. Heh.

So now that the sweater is done, I've been working on a few new things. This evening I cast on for the bear rug, since I decided I needed something frivolous, although I would like to point out that fun fur tangles if you look at it cross-eyed, and when you multiply that by three strands of fun fur held together plus a strand of wool-ease, well, you can just imagine the sweari...I mean, the joy.

I'm also finally making more progress on my FLAK cardigan. After about three more rounds of cable swapping and a few more hours of pouring through my stitch pattern books, I finally decided on the cables I wanted to use, swatched it out in the little chunk of yarn they gave me, and what do you know, about the time I finished that, my first three skeins of yarn from Black Water Abbey arrived!

Here's my swatch, which actually captures the color pretty well.

After washing and blocking (which wasn't much more than laying it on a towel to dry) the swatch is just about exactly the width I need for the back section, which makes me quite relieved because I wasn't exactly looking forward to having to go through the whole process of picking cables/swatching again. Although I will admit that I decided to take advantage of all this cable swatching to transition entirely to cabling without a needle. I'd been doing it all along for some of the smaller two or three-stitch cables, but hadn't really tried it for the larger ones. When I finally looked up the directions, I laughed, because it wouldn't have been that much longer til I'd figured it all out on my own anyway.

And while I haven't cast on for it yet, there's one more large project coming up. While at craft night, I picked up a skein of peacock Zephyr and the pattern for the Pacific Northwest Shawl, because I'm going to be making that for a friend to display in her shop. It works out well - I like knitting lace but I just don't wear it, so I get to do something I enjoy and someone else gets to benefit. I suspect I'll be casting on for that before the week is out, since there is only so much swearing at fun fur and wrestling of cables that a woman can do at a time.

Posted by Jenipurr at 06:40 PM | Comments (6)