rope. tree. fan. spear. snake. wall.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


That's squee with an extra syllable because I'm so darn excited!
We have received your application and are pleased to inform you that you are now an official participant of Secret Pal 11!
Is that not teh awesome? My first-ever Secret Pal! Oh lordy, I hope I can be organized enough to do this, I still have a pile of stuff to send ~d, it's waiting on one more item and it's been months! Months! I will slap my own hand.

Project update: Arwen. Stalled. I'm sorry, but I am just! so! bored! Because I swatched and swatched and swatched and then knit half the sweater with the wrong yarn and then swatched some more before I found the right yarn and I knew I'd get sick of that cable. If I hadn't done all that, I could've made the sweater and a matching hat and scarf (duh, who needs a hat and scarf with a hoodie?) before I got sick of the cable, but no.

Openwork Hat 2Aurora's hat: Right here. I'd like to thank my lovely model, Blank CD Case.

The helmet liner for some lucky soldier - a lucky little soldier I hope, because it fits me just about right and I have a teeny tiny head - still miles of 2x2 ribbing. Those people who groan about miles and miles of stockinette? That is exactly how I feel about ribbing. I love miles of stockinette, actually, because then I can read while I knit.

The baby argyle sweater: still stockinette. That'd be going faster if I spent any time waiting at the doctor's or the post office lately, since it's living in my purse.

The stranded house socks: stalled. I think that yarn is cursed.

Also I joined the designers' group on Ravelry and oh. mygod. I am so outclassed. Oh well, I should be used to it by now. Oh, and I went to a local um, meetingy-sort-of thing, a local women's group that meets on Tuesdays for breakfast, and a Turkish woman there taught me Turkish knitting! It'll take me awhile to get the hang of it, but it's cool. The yarn goes around the back of your neck, and you control the tension with your right thumb, and move the yarn around the needle with your left thumb.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Oops, this was supposed to be the general knit-blog, not just a place to store my patterns! Yeah, well, I can't knit and type at the same time, is the thing. Also, I spend about as much time frogging and tinking as I spend knitting right now. I seem to need to get about 2/3 of the way through a product before I can realize that this particular yarn really wants to be something else, so my projects keep hitting the rewind button.

Openwork HatAnd that's really stupid, because with 13 years of knitting under my belt, I should already know that shiny mercerised cotton doesn't cable well: why on earth did I think it could be a Shedir? So that's turning into an openwork hat, which I have to design myself because hunting down a pattern would take time away from knitting. Of course, so does all the frogging and tinking I have to do when I realize that my gauge is way off, or the decrease pattern is not going to work out. Maybe I should publish that pattern as well, once I get it figured out, because seriously: this would be a 4-hour project if it weren't for all the mistakes.

Also, this week I've finally decided to get on with the charity knitting. What's been holding me back is the geographic aspect, i.e. the fact that I'd have to mail something to, say, Indiana so the charity could mail it to an orphanage in Poland. All that postage and pollution, when I could practically throw it to Poland? But I've decided to ignore that, because it kept me from getting started. Next hurdle: I went down the list of charities, and the ones that appealed most were the chemo and preemie ones, but the yarn I have on hand is mostly too scratchy for such sensitive skin. Yes, I'm using charity knitting to whittle down my stash - gee, selfish much? But I promise I will buy yarn for the purpose once I don't have a closetful just sitting there, staring at me. I will. Anyway, I found some nice washable Norwegian Baby Ull and cast on, but then I saw Eunny Jang's argyle vest and I have enough, and seriously, how unbearably cute is that? I have to make it.

Um... does anybody have a new baby boy coming this fall? Because I'll have this cool sweater and I need someone to give it to. Well I could send that to a charity, I guess. But the openwork hat, I don't know, that might still be too scratchy/bumpy, so it'll probably wind up on my best friend's kid, and I'll still owe Caps for a Cure a Shedir.

bazaar socksWhat else? House socks for Ignatz, using yarn I'm sure you recognize. That yarn has been frogged so many times it's getting to be like dental floss, but I can't just put it aside. Some mental block is forcing me to use it up before I can move on. The strandedness should consume yarn at a fearsome rate, and they will be house socks for a boy who refuses to wear house shoes - although he may well refuse to wear these, maybe I should just send them out too - I heard that charites that outfit kids get a lot of baby stuff, but they really need things for the 6-14 age range.

So that's the project tally for now: House Socks for (probably) Ignatz; a blue baby vest; an openwork hat, probably for Miss Aurora; and Arwen. I'm on the back half of the second sleeve, which is practically done, but a lapful of merino is not my favorite thing these (late July) days. Still, I should get Arwen over with because I've invested too much to abandon her, but she has taught me a very valuable lesson: I don't like knitting other people's patterns.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the entrelac bag

bagIt started with Elemmaciltur's blog. He wrote about this yarn dyer called the Wollmeise, and I investigated, couldn't choose, and so ordered one test-skein in each colorway. The day they arrived was very exciting.

yarn muppetI don't really know what I had planned for them, but Claudia, in an email, said, "Can't wait to see what you do with them. Are you going to make a bag?" and the idea was born.

front openedIn attempting to write out the pattern for this bag stitch-by-stitch (more or less), I'm realizing that there are two separate issues here: entrelac, and this particular bag. And in trying to write out entrelac instructions, I realized that it is very difficult to describe using only words. Therefore, at some point I will post an entrelac photo tutorial for backwards knitters. If you don't knit backwards, the Danica scarf pattern will teach you what you need to know.

backSo for now, I'll assume that you know entrelac, and just focus on the bag part. Okay? Let's rock.

Stuff: needles, size 8 (5mm). About 40 test-skeins of Wollmeise Merino-Lammdochtwolle. That's all.

Dimensions: about 12 inches deep, about 12 1/2 inches wide, strap about 27 inches long.

Caveat: I didn't really document the process, I just improvised, so this is the how I remember something I knitted back in february. Please let me know if you run across anything that sounds impossible or doesn't work, or if you find a better way to describe something. I'd be grateful.
front closed
  • cast on 40 stitches
  • make 4 base triangles, each 10 stitches wide
  • work even, in entrelac, um, until it's as long as you want. You want a sort of burrito-fold, the two sides of the bag plus some more for the flap. Mine was about 33 inches long, so the bag is now about 12 inches deep.
  • You can work the end triangles if you want, for an even edge on the flap, but I just cast-off on the zigzag. Because it was more fun that way.
The Strap
  • once you have the big rectangle done, fold it the way you want the bag to be, and locate what will be the bottom of the bag. You'll want 10 selvedge stitches on one side, and you may want to mark the 10 on the other side with safety-pins or something, just to make sure you end up in the right place.
  • pick up 10 stitches in the selvedge edge, working from left to right.
  • work one entrelac base triangle.
  • work the left edge triangle as usual, except: instead of kfb at the left edge, pick up a stitch in the next selvedge stitch of the big piece.
  • ditto the right edge triangle: work to the end minus two, k2tg. pick up a stitch in the next selvedge stitch of the big piece, and pass it over the previous stitch.
  • do that until the bag is as deep as you want (you should have run out of selvedge stitches to knit into on one side), then continue in normal entrelac. How many skeins did it take you to reach the top of the bag? Call that x, and knit up until you have x skeins left, then start again with the smoodging into the selvedge stitches.
  • In the final triangle, you'll have to do a sort of modified 3-needle bind-off.
OR, shake your head over the ridiculous lengths I will go to to avoid sewing seams, and just sew the damn bag shut and sew on the strap. I admit that I am completely irrational about seams.
  • Finally, invite some friends over for dinner and chat with them while you tuck in the eleventy bazillion little yarn-ends. It's the only way to make the job bearable.
Erratum: the strap is too long, the bag too soft to hold anything more substantial than styrofoam packing peanuts. I am still trying to decide whether to line it or felt it.


Elemmaciltur said...
so, what are all the colourways you got?
Oop, did I leave that out? Right, I think I wanted to make a little photo-montage or something. Let's see...
  • Farn, for the Elfine socks, which I don't know how I found out about, but I already had the pattern bookmarked before Saint Brenda talked about making the Amos socks, and I think making socks inspired by literary characters is such a good idea...
  • Pfauenauge ... ...that I decided I wanted to make Julia Larwood socks, after the Woman Who Drops Things, from Sarah Caudwell's wonderful novels.
  • Miss May, for the Laura Florand socks - she is a literary character, but also a real person, so maybe I should name the socks after the book she wrote instead, Blame It On Paris. Calling them the Laura Florand socks might be a bit... stalkery. I should ask her.
  • Tiefer See. I made the first attempt at the Find the River socks (because before I hit on the literary characters I was naming sock patterns after songs), and sent them to Kelly and I hope she likes them, but I don't. I mean, they are fine as socks, but the pattern didn't turn out the way I wanted it to (which is why I stopped writing about it), so I've started over on that.
  • Gewitterhimmel, for the Billy Reid socks, which I really should get started on because the others are way ahead of me. In keeping with the song genre, these will be named "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Feet."
  • Amazonas. The colorway is named for one river, but it really reminds me of another river, in another rain forest, near my hometown: the Elwha. I only have a few vague impressions in mind yet, but with the Elwha socks I want to try to convey busy, sun-dappled water, mossy rocks, and graceful madronas. If I get it right, these socks'll make me homesick.
  • Pfefferminz Prinz, because I'm thinking of making another Kate Gilbert pattern, the Equestrian Blazer, with this colorway, probably in the merino though now, in July, it's hard to imagine ever wanting anything so warm. So I bought the sock yarn to sort of mess around with, see if I love it a whole sweater's worth. (I know the merino will be different, but still.)
  • Versuchskaninchen 1 and 2. Love! These! And she's not going to have them for long, so I have to grab them while I can. No particular project in mind, I just want to see what they say to me.
  • Veilchen, because it's Purple! I love Purple! Maybe I'll make more baby flower-hats with that and the leftover Farn from the Elfine socks.
I should make a picture of them all so you can see them. But now I have to mess around with the entrelac bag photos and get them up on Flickr. I'll put them here too. I'm really proud of that bag.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I just ordered 10 skeins of Wollmeise yarn. I had to - it's so preeeetty, and some of it's limited edition and will be gone soon! And I didn't get nearly as much as I wanted, so that's my nod to self-restraint.

Not too long ago, I heard someone ask, "Are you a knitter, or a yarn-collector?" Probably on Stash & Burn. It's a good question, and I actually gave it a fair bit of thought, and concluded that I'm actually, and sadly, a knitter. All the yarn I have, I bought for a specific project. I may not have used it for that project, but it had a purpose beyond "I'm sure this will come in handy at some point." This might be because we were quite poor when I learned to knit, and I was trying to be frugal. Anyway, this purchase may be me sort of dipping my toes into stasher-ness - 7 of the 10 skeins are intended a specific project, and three of them I bought just to have. It's so beautiful, I'm sure I'll be able to find some use for it.

I'm such a renegade. Don't smirk, unless you want to volunteer to explain this purchase to my husband.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Hanna, finishedMade for a friend's baby, with Wollmeise yarn the friend chose herself, in the Rhabarber colorway.

The stuff: Needles are size 8, or 5mm bamboo circulars. Gauge is 5 stitches and 6 rows per inch. Hanna is about a year old, so the measurements I’m assuming are: chest circumference 22″. Wrist circumference 5″, upper arm circumference about 7 1/2″. Shoulder width 3″, neck hole width 5″, bearing in mind that this is not a pullover so we don’t have to worry about accommodating that big baby head. What else? Oh, length from underarm to waist. Tricky, because this is supposed to tie around the waist, so I don’t want to make the sweater too long. I’ll say about 4 or 4 1/2 inches.Plan
  • channel-island cast-on, but with a one-strand tail (because I’m lazy about end-tucking), to cast on 19 stitches.
  • knit three rows of garter stitch
  • k across, yarn-over every third stitch for a total of 25
  • on the next row, twist each yarn-over as you purl (or knit, if you knit backwards like I do) into it, so as to make the hole less gaping. The other sleeve will be knit in the other direction, so there’ll be decreases instead of increases. So you really don’t want to make the yarn-over holes a part of the design, though otherwise it might be a fine idea.
  • knit even, mostly. increase (anyway you want - I used the yarn-over) at the beginning and end of rows 5, 13, 21, 29, 37, and 45. Now there are 37 stitches. Knit up 3 more rows, for a total of 48 rows, not including the ribbing.
  • On the other needle, cast on 23, using the Invisible Crochet Cast On I, as described by Eunny Jang - you’ll have to scroll down to the second cast-on method there.
  • Purl into those 23 cast-on stitches. Or knit, if you knit backwards like me. This provisional cast-on will unzip from the armpit downwards. Consider this row 1 of the right front.
  • Row 2, knit across front and sleeve. Again on the empty needle, cast on 23 with the Invisible Crochet Cast On I. Knit 23 into that cast-on row, which again will unzip from the armpit. Note that the front of the sweater has 1 extra row. That’s okay.
  • There should now be 83 stitches on the needles. Work even for 3 inches, or 20 rows (counting on the front side), finishing at the end of a knit row.
  • Purl (or knit backwards) 41 stitches. place the remaining 42 on a holder. Knit those 41 back stitches up even for 5 inches, or 30 rows.
  • Row 30 should be a knit row, so purl (or knit backwards) across, then cast on 42 stitches on the other end of the needle for the left front. Purl (or knit backwards) across those: this’ll unzip from the neck down.
  • Work even for 19 rows. On row 20, knit along front and sleeve, place back (23) stitches on holder. Back is 68 rows high.
  • Purl (or knit back) 37, place front (23) stitches on holder. Think of this as row 2 on the sleeve, and knit down to the wrist, decreasing once at each end of rows 5, 13, 21, 29, 37, 45
Halfway to Hanna
  • knit to row 48
  • row 49, purl 2, p2tg across = 19 stitches
  • Cut the yarn.
  • Channel-island cast on 19, knit 2 rows (garter stitch)
  • Okay, it gets a bit fiddly here: Kitchener the cuff to the sleeve, with the purl-side of the last-knit rows facing out. That kitchener row will form the knit-row for the garter-stitch cuff. Does that make sense? Also, that row really needed to be tightened up once I had it finished.
  • Mattress-stitch the sleeve closed. For the side, unzip the provisional cast-on, and do a 3-needle bind-off for 19 stitches. Bind off the next two stitches on each side separately, then 3-needle bind-off the last four. That makes the hole for the tie to pass through.
  • Do the other side just like that.
  • Pick up the right front stitches from their holder, starting at the neck end. Purl (or knit backward) into and bind off the first five. Purl across, come back.
  • Bind off the first four. P across, come back.
  • Bind off the first three…
  • Bind off the first two…
  • Continue binding off the first two stitches of each purl-row for, um… awhile. Until there are 16 stitches left on the needle.
  • P2tg every other row (at the neck end) until there are six stitches left. Put them on a holder.
  • Do the same for the left front, start at the neck end, follow the same decrease pattern. When there are six stitches left, do a single crochet edge all around the front and neck, starting with the six stitches on a holder.
  • Tuck in ends, sew ribbon to each little 6-stitch front edge there. On the side of the front that will wrap under, thread that ribbon through the side-seam hold on the opposite side. All done!

Baby Blackadder

Baby Blackadder, closedRight, well, it's really obvious that this was inspired by Tulip Toes, isn't it? I just made a pair of those for another friend, and as I knitted them I was thinking "hm, not sure about this join, and this could be longer, and this isn't pointy enough, et cetera," and thus the Baby Blackadder pattern was born.

Size: newborn. I hope.

Stuff: The main yarn is Wolle Rödel's Siena Big, from my stash. The ties are i-cord, also from my stash, and I lost the ball band but it's probably this. Needle size 8, or 5mm, and one optional size F crochet hook.

So. The pattern. The left and right booties are more or less the same, but differences are marked: Right bootie in green, left bootie in purple.
  • cast on 5 stitches.
  • * k1, kfb, k to the last 2 stitches, kfb, k1 *
  • work even, 3 rows
  • repeat this: * *
  • work even, 5 rows.
  • attach new yarn and cast on 9 more stitches. This will be the top of the foot.
  • work back, across the new 9 stitches and the old 9 stitches.
  • work forward, putting the stitches onto your two circs, magic loop, or dpns, join.
  • work around even for 11 more rows, for a total of 14 rows, including the cast-on.
  • every odd row, k across to the last 2 stitches on the sole, right-leaning decrease. then do the same on the top of the foot.
  • every odd row, sl1, left-leaning decrease, k across to the end. then do the same on the top of the foot.
  • every even row, work even.
  • once there are 6 stitches, do the even row and then shoop back to the start, as if you were making i-cord. k1, k2tg, k1, k2tg. k2tg, k1, k2tg, k1.
  • shoop back to the start again, k2tg, twice.
  • shoop, k2tg, break the yarn and pull it through that last loop.
Now you have this: bootie begun
Note that the green yarn is just so you can see the cast-on, sort of, but you wouldn't do the cast-on with green yarn unless you want the whole back of the bootie to be green.

Anyway, the cast-on yarn.
  • Use that to pick up 18 stitches around the back of the foot: 7 each side, and 4 across the heel. turn.
  • sl1, kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k1 = 4 increases, 22 stitches total.
  • work back even.
  • sl1, kfb, k4, kfb, k4, m1, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k1 = 5 increases, 27 stitches total.
  • work back even.
  • start the right-hand pointy-bit:
  • sl1, k8. stop.
  • work back across those 9 stitches you just knit.
  • eyelet row: sl1, k1, bo1, k2, bo1, k1.
  • sl1, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2
  • 4 rows even.
  • do a right-leaning decrease on the left-hand edge of this pointy bit for the next three rows, then every other row until there's 1 stitch left.
  • slip down the left-hand edge. That means in each selvedge stitch, pick up one stitch and then bind it off. This is a lot easier with a crochet hook, actually.
  • pass the last stitch over the first stitch of the second pointy-bit.
  • do the second pointy bit just like the first, only with balanced decreases: alternate sides.
  • on the third pointy bit, do all left-leaning decreases on the right-hand edge of the pointy bit.
  • break the yarn, tuck in all the ends, wash, block, etc.
Baby Blackadder, openMake 2 pieces of 3-stitch i-cord, about 12 inches each. Thread them through the eyelets in the heel spikes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Maddy's Bluebell Hat

MaddysBluebellHatThis hat uses a sort of modified entrelac, so you should be comfortable with that, as well as knitting in the round.

I want this to be a flexible pattern, to use yarn you have lying around, so I didn't want to be too specific on yarns and gauges and such. Pick some yarn you like, and the needles that go with it. Figure out how many stitches per inch you get, and multiply that by the head circumference of the hat's future owner - here's a helpful guide. Fudge that into a multiple of 5. Okay? Good. Let's call that x.

Knit an inch of i-cord, 3-stitch or 4-stitch, it doesn't matter. Use the increase method of your choice to bring it up to 5 stitches. Bring the yarn back around to the front as if you were going to do another row of i-cord. k1, m1 onto the dpns, two circs, or magic loop that you're going to be using. Call that row 1. You have 10 stitches.

2 and all even-numbered rows: k around
3: k1, m1, k1 around. 15 stitches.
5: k1, m1, k2 around. 20 stitches.
7: k1, m1, k3 around...
...etc, until you have reached that magic (x, the head circumference times gauge but divisible by 5) number we talked about up there.

Work one more even row.

The hat should be clearly divided into leaves now, marked by the m1s you did in the same place every round. We'll call the width of each leaf y. 5y = x. This will matter later.

*Slip the first stitch, k across one leaf until 2 before the end, and do a right-leaning decrease.

Now either turn the work, or knit backward - I find the latter much easier. Slip the first stitch, work across to the beginning of that leaf, the first stitch you slipped? Then turn again, or knit forwards, whatever.*

Repeat the bit in * *, until you have one stitch left. Pick up one stitch in each selvedge stitch along the left edge of the leaf.

That's one leaf. Do that four more times. Then you'll have five leaves.

Okay, now the petals! Color change! I used purple, but, you know, substitute the color of your choice. White is nice. I know we avoid white for baby sweaters, because spit-up stains, but they hardly ever spit up on their hats.

*At the lowest point between two leaves, pick up one purple stitch. Pick up another one in the right selvedge edge of the leaf to its left. This row has two stitches.

Turn, or knit back: slip the first one, k (or p, if you turned the work) the starter-stitch together with the first picked-up stitch to the right, there. You still have two stitches.

Turn, or knit forward: slip the first stitch, k the next one, pick up another one in the right selvedge edge. 3 stitches!

Turn, or knit back: slip the first stitch, work across, k the last stitch together with the next picked-up stitch.

See the theme here? Work back and forth between the leaves. Always slip the first stitch of each row. At the end of each odd (knit) row, pick up another stitch from the leaf to the left. At the end of each even (purl, or knit-back) row, k the last purple stitch together with the first green pick-up stitch on the leaf to the right.

Do this until you run out of picked-up stitches on the right, but don't knit that last green stitch at the very point of the leaf. The number of petal stitches plus the last green stitch on the very point of the leaf should equal y: the width of a leaf at its widest point, one-fifth of the total hat circumference.

K across the petal, slip the very first green stitch at the point of the next leaf, k along the picked-up green stitches down the left side of that leaf.* Pick up one stitch at the lowest point between leaves, and another one in the left-leaf selvedge edge. Work back, knitting the first stitch together with the edge-stitch on the right petal, as above. In other words, do the bit between the * * four more times.

Keep doing petals until there are x stitches on the needle(s). Then k across each petal, and purl into the green leaf-point stitches. K y-1, p 1. Around. For awhile. Until the petals measure 3.5 or 4 inches from the lowest point to the knitting needle.

Time for the petal-points! See, you're almost done!

*1. Knit across a petal, not including the purl stitch,
2 and all even rows: and then go back - purl, or knit in reverse.
3 and all odd rows: slip 1, left-leaning decrease, k across...

...until you have 3 stitches left. slip 1, k2tg, psso. Slip stitch down the side of that petal point (this job is a lot easier with a crochet hook. Slip the purl stitch.* Do the other four petals the same way.

Tuck in ends, block, take a picture and post it on Flickr so I can see it!

I kind of see why people don’t knit like this: it’s quite easy to do, but hard to describe.

me again

Umm, yeah. Wordpress is fine, but I'm starting to see a reason to separate knitting content from the Other Stuff, so that's why I'm back. I'll be posting the patterns that are already on the Wordpress blog, and bringing the 5-hour baby sweater over from yet another site, and posting the long-promised Ruby sweater pattern as well. Soon. I'll also fill my blogroll with knitters and put a buncha buttons in and mess with the background image and all that fun stuff that wordpress tends to be less cheerful about.

But, you know, for the mama, expat, fiction-reader, orphan, cat "owner" (hah), movie-lover, occasional sports-fan, academic wife, song du jour of the day and general all-around freak stuff, that's still over here.

Okay? Okay!