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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So between that last post and this one, I've gone and moved to a whole 'nother country! Sort of. I mean, moving from Germany to the Netherlands is probably a bit like moving from Seattle to Vancouver, but you know, it's... kinda different.

Anyway, I packed up all my yarn, started some things, re-started some other things, tabled some other-other things, and kind of, um, misplaced a project or two, oops? And I can't find my camera... well, I haven't actually tried real hard because I don't like it, but I'm sure it's around somewhere. The light's been kinda crappy anyway - all right, scratch that last excuse. Today has been drizzly, but the first 29 days of September were actually pretty nice. Anyhoo. No camera. No internet for a week, and then VERY limited internet for two weeks, uploading photos is a PITA under the best circumstances, which these are not - and the result is that my knitting reality no longer bears much resemblance to my Ravelry project page.

I should do something about that.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

love knitting, not sure about the other stuff

I used to think tucking in the ends was the most tedious part of a knitting project. Well, a successful one - frogging and fixing whatever you did wrong on an unsuccessful project would be the übertedious part, but in general, end-tucking used to seem like the most annoying use of my knitting time. I did that last night. Today I photographed, measured, washed, blocked, edited the photographs, uploaded them to Flickr, emailed them to the beta-knitters group, and then added them to the Ravelry project page. I mean, I did other things too, today, but documenting the finished-ness of the project has turned into a really involved process, hasn't it? And of course, mustn't forget the final step: BLOG IT!!

Laris's Cheesehead pattern, resized for teeny tiny babies at my request, double-knit in Wollmeise 100% on Knitpicks 2.25mm circs. Currently drying outside on the laundry rack, I sure hope no birds poop on them. (Yeah, you laugh, but guess why I had to re-wash the sheets last week.)

baby cheesehead, donebaby cheesehead, donebaby cheesehead, white sidebaby cheesehead, rainbow sidebaby cheesehead, blackbaby cheesehead, black

Thursday, August 06, 2009


5-hour baby sweater, knitside5-hour baby sweater, purlside

Well, now I know that one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Multi is enough for a baby sweater, size newborn (probably). You never know, with babies. Lo, another 5-hour baby sweater, knitted in, um, a little over a week because I kept frogging and refining. And I had an annoying amount of yarn left over, too small to do anything useful with, too big to throw away.

But it's done, and sent off to a friend who has another friend who'll be having a baby in November, which is a good time for a wool sweater.

Next project: matching teeny-tiny sweaters and meathead hats in BMFA Socks that Rock, Mediumweight, for the twins next door, due in October. No photos yet. I'll get right on that.

Oh, and another test-knit for Laris, hopefully to make some real progress after several false starts. Here's false start #2:
Baby Cheesehead, up to row17

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Miss Sophie's Hands

Miss Sophie's HandsMiss Sophie's HandsMiss Sophie's Hands
This was a test-knit for the inimitable Laris (seriously, HOW does she do it?), sorry I couldn't get better color in the photos. But these are fancy princess-gloves, knit in Wollmeise Twin, colorway Merlot, two at a time on magic loop. They were very fun to make, even the bobbles, until I was done and had 20 (twenty! two-zero!) little ends to tuck in. And now I am giving them to my mother-in-law so that I have to make more for myself. Hee.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

what I did yesterday

case closed
I bought a double CD case at Aldi for €2.99 (they were only available in gray, can you believe it?) and stuck all my circular needles in it. They're all sorted, first by size and then by cable length, with little labels so I don't have to keep measuring things to be sure I've got the right one.

I've been looking for a good way to store circs since - well, pretty much since I started knitting. The first thing I did was stick them all through a stitch marker and hang it from the ceiling, but then I had to measure to find the right one every time, and that was kind of annoying. It did make a very nice wind-chimey sound, but it didn't look very nice.

I saw recipes for a circular-needle-holding wall hangy-thing made out of old jeans, but that's not really the sort of thing I tend to hang on my wall. This is a prettier version, but still, it has all these needles hanging out of it.

Then I tried this linen silverware holder we have for the nice silver (which lives in a drawer right now, and so doesn't need its holder). The premise is good, but this is made for knives and forks, not for knitting needles, so it rolled up clunkily and there was no reasonable way to sort them by length. I also couldn't label the sizes, because I knew I'd want to use it as a silverware holder again.

case open So then I had this smaller square CD case, but the needle points stuck out too far. So I cut out all the little envelope-things, labeled them by size and length with a Sharpie, and stored them in a flat plastic box so I could flip through them, like we used to flip through records, back in the olden days. I ran out of envelopes before I ran out of sizes, though, and kept getting them out of order and being too lazy to put the needles back when I was done.

Here's an idea I love - but I tend to work with whatever materials I have to hand, and the binders I have have only two rings and the plastic sheet protectors are kind of baggy. The weight of the needles makes them sag, and the two rings that hold them are not enough to prevent that. If I ever do get the materials (there's a Muji in Munich), I probably will make one, but, you know. That could take forever.

dpns It's a bit squeezy to shut it, and of course I don't have all my needles in it because I have 8 or 9 WIPs lying around, but there was also room in the back of the case for my DPNs - there sure are a lot of them! Some I bought, some were given to me, most of the sets are incomplete, and since I really only use them occasionally, as a cable needle or a pointer to help me count chart-squares, I probably don't need to organize them. If I ever do need a set, there's my needle gauge, voilà.

So. We'll see if the latest of my many systems works.

Also, I have now organized maybe 30 square centimeters of space. In my 140-square-meter house. Talk about your baby steps.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pfaffenhofen and the Wollmeise Shop

imperfect basket
Saturday I went to Pfaffenhofen! My friend Yasmin drove, she lives in a nearby town so we're practically neighbors. And we (she) found a parking place right in front of the shop and we saw lots and lots of people and hugged lots and lots of yarn and sat on couches and knitted and it was fun. And now some pictures. My photos here, Elemm's photos here, Goldbek's photos here, and here is Maria's post.

And I really wasn't going to buy any yarn. I just wanted to say hi to people and see the shop, and um, well, I didn't buy a lot, not really. I mean, compared to what I already have, it was actually quite a small amount.

Eh. Maybe that's not the best argument.

I got mail!

Today I went to Pfaffenhofen, but that post will have to wait till tomorrow, because before that, on Thursday, a box came in the mail. It looked like this:

When I opened it, there was, open

Under the newspaper, there was this!
box, shinyI almost stopped right there, because oo! Shiny! But eventually I remembered I was sort of a grown-up, and peered under the shiny. box contentsThere was happy!

It's a swap, I'm sending some of my blue-and-green yarn in return.

Here's the not-yarn: box contents, non-yarn Chocolate! Stitch markers! A teeny-tiny sock and a very nice note!

And here's the yarn:
Merlot. merlot, endwise
Buxkranzl. buxkranzl
Der letzte Versuch. der letzte versuch

And roter Himbeermund. roter himbeermund


Sunday, June 14, 2009

a handy tip that is also a very bad tip

So I picked up this habit, when I knit socks, of jotting notes on the back of the ball band about gauge, cast-on, things to remember about the heel turn, etc. I suppose it would also work for hats and gloves.

You know what it doesn't work for? A sweater for a largish man. I'm making a sweater for DrBob, designing it myself because I have a problem with authority am wholly incapable of following directions am creative like that, and the bottom of my knitting bag now holds a salad of pointy, slippery, pencilled gibberish. There's a design that will never get published.

Hm. Perhaps I should learn from this experience...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sindelfingen photos

Not that I took any pictures of Sindelfingen itself, though I should have because it was all half-timbered medieval fabulousness of the sort that makes American tourists squee. But I didn't think to take my camera because the battery's only good for five minutes or so, and anyway it takes sucky photos. Have I mentioned lately that I hate my camera?

But it was sunny today, and really, what is the point of buying superfabulous yarn if you can't photograph it, post it to your blog and try not to feel smug about it? So without further ado, my Wollmeise haul. Click to embiggen.

lwfarn Ooo, the laceweight - we were told there wouldn't be any at the market, something about the supplier running out. I'm not sure if that meant permanently or what. Anyway, around lunchtime they brought out the last two bags of dyed laceweight, and I managed to snag one for me and one for a friend (not photographed, because I sent it off on Tuesday, though you can see it in the previous entry's group photo).

twinfarn I also got some Twin sock yarn in Farn, which is my favorite non-busy colorway. (I couldn't possibly choose a favorite busy colorway - as my stash will attest, I have about 25 favorites.) I've never actually knit with Twin, though I do have a skein of Boboli Twin that I really should do something with...

Aaaaand the old faithful, 100% Superwash Sockenwolle, the yarn I have more of than any other kind. I hardly ever use it because I love it too much to waste on something that isn't truly fantastic. Yes, yes I am insane. What, you're only just noticing?

preneptun100vergmn100suendig100herzblut100Anyway, none of these photos really capture the color of the yarn, but they're as close as I could get them. From left to right: a versuchskaninchen that is almost like Neptun, a bit more green in real life; Vergißmeinnicht (forget-me-not), my other favorite semi-solid colorway; sündig & verrucht (sinful and wicked), a bit less blue in real life; and herzblut (heart's blood). There are so many other colors I would have loved to get, but ten skeins seemed like enough to buy for one day. Eleven, with the laceweight. Fourteen, with the laceweight and sock yarn that I picked up for a friend.

So there you have it. Sindelfingen. A very good weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


All right, just a quick photo - I'll try to go into more detail later, but you can't imagine how tired I am right now, and I still have the whole Eurovision Song Contest to get through.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

more zero-sum knitting on the same thing, yay.

Turns out, that mitten-cuff from the previous entry was actually a swatch, though not a very good one: when I was first getting the hang of double knitting, I kind of knit too loose and the cuff was huge. I got up about 26 rows and decided that, while I loved the two colorways together, they weren't working with the zigzag pattern. So I frogged it and started over with the same red (Campari Orange) and a new color, Zur Lederhos'n, left over from the test knit, and my second draft is much more even and less loosey-goosey. Sometimes you just have to back up.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

zero-sum knitting

Yesterday I had a train ride and then two hours to kill while Ignatz had his first Dutch lesson. A knitter never minds having time to kill (as long as she has her knitting handy) and I did make some lovely progress, though it's double knitting, which naturally goes rather slowly. But then I found an error, had to frog waaaaaay back, and by the time I had all my stitches back on the needles it was time to fetch Ig and go home. The rest of the day did not contain any uninterrupted 2-hour stretches of knitting time, so it took me the rest of the day to get back to where I'd been when I found the error and had to frog. Twice the knitting, half the progress.

Gnarf, as Tini says.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

grade fail

So Aliénor was not graded for different sizes because it was written to be flexible: do this until it's long enough, pick up enough stitches, stop when it fits there and then do this, that sort of thing. And I did it that way on purpose, because I really don't much care for standardized size charts. I, for one, am one size when buying pants and skirts, and another size when buying shirts. (I don't wear dresses. Or, God forbid, jumpsuits.) I think many people are, and that bust measurement A doesn't necessarily mean armhole depth B. It all makes me feel quite curmudgeonly.

But Juana is... different. Yes, you're supposed to try it on as you go, but certain things have to happen in just the right place, so you have to know when you cast on exactly what will happen 55 rows later. So it required much intricate planning, and I can't just say "do this until it fits." Therefore, I need to write the pattern for multiple sizes, and hooee, pattern grading is a fussy business. Once I had the initial pattern charted, the math was easy, but drawing seven pattern outlines on the same chart is... not easy. I mean, it was fairly easy to draw them, but now what I have looks less like a knitting chart and more like... a subway map drawn by a demented neo-plasticist.

Hm. I've known for some time that this charting strategy would not work out, but I keep plowing ahead with it in the hope that a solution will occur to me. Something other than seven completely separate charts, resulting in a gigantamundo file that's too big to email or upload, and requires ten trees' worth of paper to print out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

busy fingers

Well, eleven people bought my pattern, which makes me feel like all this time spent knitting ain't been in vain fer nothin', which in turn justifies spending all my time knitting now! Yay! Yes, I am working on another sweater, called Juana La Loca, and it's taking awhile because I'm pausing to document every stitch I knit (twice - once in knitterese, once on a chart). But I'm about halfway done and liking it a lot, so that makes me happy.

In other news, I'm re-knitting one part of the Dunegrass Socks so that I can fix the pattern, based on some very helpful user feedback. Tricky business, this pattern writing - I wanted to keep it flexible, but wound up being confusing. Now I'm making it as clear as I can, but if you follow my directions the socks will fit me, not you. Oh dear, oh dear.

I'm also working on a sweater I'm calling Fernán for now, a design for men. I'm not writing down every stitch, which would turn out to be a problem except that the prototype is for DrBob, so I'm knitting it in black, which is unphotographable. So I'll have to knit it again anyway if I want decent photos, and when I do that, I'll write down every stitch. Two-Skein Shrug, detailMaybe I'll make it for my 8-year-old, so it'll be done faster. Maybe I'll make it for the 14-year-old, so that by the time it's done, it'll fit the 8-year-old. We are awash in growth spurts here, they're eating like horses and outgrowing their clothes faster than they can ruin them.

<-- The two-skein shrug is also awake now, after hibernating all winter. I don't think I'll publish a pattern for that, because it's too simple. Anybody could figure it out. But I am looking forward to wearing it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

oh. em. gee

TEN pattern sales, and one of them? Was to the incomparable Yarnissima, my favorite knitstuff designer, the only designer whose patterns I knit without modifying them somehow. Well, except for Spina di Pesce, which I modified to fit a bigger foot than the pattern was written for, and then sent her my notes so she could offer the pattern in a larger size too. I've met her, she is made of awesome, I am a total fan, and she liked my pattern! Swoon!

SO, I'm not blogging lately, yeah? Because my hands are busy knitting. And that, um, whaddyacallit, that job-thingy I've had for a few years now, that takes up a little of my time (too little of my time - I should actually be working right now). Still here, though. Working on a test-knit, plus the inevitable Sniglet-Socks, I always have Sniglet-Socks on the needles. I also have several patterns buzzing around in my head, bapping at the inside of my skull like a fly at the window, and have started developing two, while frantically shushing the others.

Yep. Still here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Two people bought my pattern! Two whole people thought it was worth actual money!

I am completely floored.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

gone savant

I'm trying to get the Aliénor pattern into a presentable form, and I've been at it all day. The in-laws came over for coffee and I sat on the couch and twitched while DrBob and they talked about cats. I fidgeted through dinner with the family. But other than that I've been here, typing, tweaking, fixing, re-thinking. This is so fiddly! I'm learning to hate .pdfs.

Anyway, that's why y'all haven't heard from me in a bit, even though I've been right here. I hope to get it finished and uploaded tomorrow.

(Photo by Elemmaciltur)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

or, not

Nonward. Nupward! Nowhere! Brace yourselves, people, because what I am about to say will truly shock many of you:

From Tuesday to Saturday of last week, I was too sick to knit.

YES! All the more amazing because I am posting today, when everybody knows that the next step after "too sick to knit" is "quite thoroughly dead." And yet, here I am. And it wasn't cancer or polio or arthritis or anything horrid, it was just some stupid virus. I wouldn't believe it either except I'm still feeling it if I try to do anything physically strenuous, like, you know, walk. Or stand up for more than five minutes. My bones feel tired.

So, despite my lofty ambitions, no more patterns or pictures or .pdfs have been achieved in the week since I put up Dunegrass. Although that has been downloaded 15 times! OMG I'm all famous! And I forgot to put any gauge information in the pattern, so, you know, I'm famous for being annoying and stupid. Well, if Paris Hilton can bear it, I suppose I can too.

Monday, March 02, 2009

onward. also upward.

ZERO progress on Zur Lederhos'n today. I've got the dark variation of the ZL colorway, and I can only knit during daylight hours, so even though the day's not over, I can safely say that I won't knit on those today.

My daylight hours - the ones where no children were home, anyway - were full of Dunegrass! I wrote a from-scratch web page of the Dunegrass sock pattern, hoping I could convert that into a .pdf, but the conversion process was fraught, I tell you, fraught with peril. Much searching through the Ravelry Wiki eventually revealed that you can make .pdfs with Google Documents. Turns out, that is also fraught, and the code is trés messy, but it was successful in increments just big enough to make me keep trying, and around 1 p.m. I emerged from the digital thickets, flushed and sweaty, triumphantly clutching a squawking, flapping, finished Dunegrass_Socks(eleventy-nine).pdf by one leg. I uploaded it to my Ravelry shop and it looks like there is now a freely downloadable pattern. And I just checked: one person has downloaded it! I'm famous!

Then the kids got home and I was too busy making lunch and shopping and criticizing. A mother's work is never done.

Still, the other patterns shouldn't take quite as long, right? And once I know all about uploading free patterns I can spifflicate the Aliénor pattern (needs more photos, which means I need to knit some more) and get that up... soonish. I hope. Can you believe it's been over a month since I finished knitting it?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

just checking in

Because egad, has it really been three weeks since I posted? Yike.

Okay, so I've been test knitting a scarf for a friend, and I can't post photos yet. I bound that one off today, just in time to frog Zur Lederhos'n and re-start it; it was on hiatus while the designer worked out some kinks, and she ended up redesigning it from stitch one, so we're all starting over. I liked the old pattern fine, but I like this one better, so I'm happy.

I've written up a bare-bones Aliénor pattern and sent it off to test-knitters, but I can see that the pattern needs more detail and more pictures, so I'll be doing that as soon as I stop finding excuses not to, basically. I've activated my Ravelry store, I think, but haven't tried it out yet, so I'm also planning to re-publish my other patterns as free Ravelry downloads. Mostly I'm stalling, but I was just in Utrecht and was very busy and productive for four days, so maybe I can keep being busy and productive until it's a habit. That would be nice.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pattern Angst

You know, clothes used to fit much better. Before factories were built to churn out sewn-together rectangles that more or less fit most people, pretty much, there were seamstresses and tailors who made clothing to fit the body that would actually be wearing it, not some clearly defined yet potentially non-existent "average."

Now, part of the reason we knit is to make things to fit our own selves, or our best beloveds (or someone we owe a favor, I guess). This is what I did with Aliénor. I took very good notes, so I could tell you, stitch for stitch, exactly how I made it, and then there you'd be, gauge permitting, with a sweater that fits me perfectly - then you can email me for my postal address and send it to me, thanks! But if you want to make it for someone other than me, or someone shaped exactly like me, well, that's trickier. Marnie MacLean has a spreadsheet tutorial for figuring out different sizes, but it still operates on assumptions like "if your bust is x, then your waist is y, and your armhole depth must be z." Speaking as someone who has to buy tops and bottoms in different sizes (and usually buys jeans from the men's department), I'm gonna have to call doubtsies. This is why I'm a big fan of Karen Alfke's Unpatterns.

Then, too, a lot of knitters are people who sew, or used to, and their patterns reflect that way of thinking: knit up a bunch of pieces of fabric and sew them together. That's not how I think. And of course we're all used to patterns from magazines and books, where they have to keep things as brief as possible due to printing costs. Also not how I think: I usually have to re-write those patterns before I can use them.

So I'm writing up this you-do-the-math pattern, and it reads like an essay, all blurry stuff like "where you think the armpit should be," and "until it's long enough," not like "knit 32 [36, 40, 44, 48]..." And what I really don't want is for people to say "ZOMG this pattern SUCKS!" because it's not what they're used to.

So I think I'll need some test-knitters.

Friday, February 06, 2009

having a Sally Field moment

Wow. People like my sweater. I'm... surprised and gratified. Yes I will definitely write up a pattern, at some point. I'm going over the page proofs for my husband's next book, and we're on a deadline that is made shorter by the fact that the proofs have to be mailed to and from the U.S. So that's taking most of my time right now.

And... well, you've seen my other patterns, they're a bit haphazard, a bit stream-of-consciousness. I don't really know how to write a pattern well enough to sell it - if people pay for something, they expect it to be really good, and I am no Marnie MacLean (seriously, the woman is a genius; how does she DO that!?). I'd have to figure out how to knit the sweater in 10 sizes, and ack.

So those are the major obstacles, and I am thinking a lot about how to get around the second one. The first one, I know what to do: get back to work!


Saturday, January 31, 2009

a photo and an award

Aliénor, finished
The sun came out today, so I got Mr. Husband to take a few pictures. I still think this could be shown to better effect, but at least you can sort of see the whole thing. This is Aliénor, and it is very warm and comfy. I should have made it a bit longer, but it's been really cold and I wanted a warm sweater to wear NOW.

It's Valley Yarns Stockbridge, in Deep Teal, and I am thinking a nice alpaca silk blend would also be good for this. Maybe I'll make another one. Yeah, right, like I ever make anything twice, I can barely manage to make two socks. Maybe next winter?

And look! Elemmaciltur called me an awesome designer! Thank you! What have you been smoking? Just kidding, isn't he sweet? I changed the colors of the award, though, hope the original artist doesn't mind. I'm really not a pink person.

The rules are:
1. The winner must copy this Award to their own blog. (check)
2. Link to the blog from whence you received the Award
3. Nominate a minimum of 7 other bloggers
4. Link to the nominated on your blog
5. Leave comment about the award on the nominated blogs.

Right, well, Amy, of course, because she only just started sewing recently - at least I think she said she started recently, though the things she makes don't look like a beginner's work - and also because of the way she writes: I really hope that she spends hours editing and fiddling and agonizing over every sentence like I do, but since she's a homeschooler with three children under 7, she probably doesn't. Sigh.

Speaking of sewing, Tini sews clothes that can be worn by actual grown-ups. I think babies and small children are a lot easier to make clothes for, knitting for grown-ups is harder, and sewing for grown-ups is so hard that if I decided to learn how, it would take me longer than I am currently expecting to live.

Hm, who else? Gonna cheat and say Elemmaciltur because he really belongs on the list, even though he's already gotten the award.

...and then Blogger ate my post, and this is what I was able to fish out of the drafts list. Dang. I'll finish it tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I love winter because you get to wear all those fabulous sweaters that you spend the year knitting!

I hate winter because the light is so bad you can't photograph said fabulous sweaters. Aliénor is a FO! Washed and blocked and on me right now, and fairly fabulous, actually, though it would look better on someone a tad more swanlike and princessy. Whatever. It's done! And you can't see it because I can't take pictures in this light. Garg.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Almost-almost-almost done

alienor yoke
So I had this idea for a sweater, and I swatched extensively and knit it halfway in purple and then decided it should be green. Then I started it in green, and divided for the sleeves in the wrong place and frogged back, did it right, made the plain bit too long, frogged back, finally finished it, decided the sleeves were too tight, and frogged again. In terms of stitch count, I have probably knit this thing three times over. I still like it, though, and will probably be quite pleased when I can finally wear it. alienor waist

Wikipedia says Aliénor is an alternate spelling for Eleanor of Aquitaine (because Ravelry lists one zillion projects named Eleanor), and I thought of her because the sweater seems kind of high-middle-agey, though there wasn't much in the way of knitting back then. She was a big proponent of the cult of courtly love, something DrBob has written about - well, he writes about courtly love in Spanish literature, but it was Eleanor who brought it to the French and English courts. So there you go. Can't you just hear the lutes a-twanging?

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Back in August, Tini had a blog contestlet in which you listed things you were grateful for in the comments, and the winner (me) got a skein of hand-dyed yarn. It was purple and blue and black, and the colorway was called "Sorrow," and it was so very soft that I knew it had to be for something special.
Sorrow Clapotis, finished
Tragically, something special was needed before long: in late November an uncle died - my husband has a lot of uncles, all getting on in years, but this one was comparatively young and had no health problems that anybody knew of, and his death left the family reeling, his widow grappling with reality, and his daughter was the family rock. It was a rough Christmas for them, and for all of us, really. The yarn said it wanted to be a scarf for this cousin, who lost her father unexpectedly, like I did 15 years ago, and still managed to be there for everyone else (like I didn't - I checked out totally. Sorry, family).

So. A FO: