Thursday, June 29, 2006

It’s Contest Time!

As promised, it’s time for our first contest here at the Fearless Fibers blog! Mind-bending fun is promised for all. The lucky contest winner will receive a free skein of any Fearless Fibers merino yarn. There are four types to choose from, with plenty of colorway options: Superwash Merino Sock Yarn, Merino Sock Yarn, Sport Weight Superwash Merino, and Two-Tone Twist Merino.

Here’s how it works:

1. Send me an e-mail with your answer to the question below.

2. Entries must be received by midnight PST on Monday July 10th.

3. The winner will be the entrant who comes closest to the correct answer to the contest question below. If by some bizarre coincidence there is a tie, the winner will be selected using the scientifically proven name-in-a-hat methodology.

4. The winner will be announced on Tuesday July 11th.

And so now for the mind-bending contest question!

How many stitches are there in the shawl pictured below? (Yes, it is HUGE!)

If you recognize this pattern, I will forewarn you that I not only amended the pattern a bit but I also used an entirely different gauge yarn than what the pattern recommends, so don’t waste your time trying to figure it out that way!

Please help spread the word about the contest. If you have a blog, links would be greatly appreciated. I know that may reduce your chances to win, but the more entries I receive, the more contests I’ll hold in the future.

Now here are two photos of the shawl ...

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bargain Time … and a Contest Coming Soon

It hit a sweltering 106 degrees yesterday here in Oregon. I darn near melted! Despite the heat, my mind is already racing ahead and planning for the Fall. To begin making room on the shelves for plenty of new yarn in the Fall, I think it’s about time that I get rid of some of the orphan skeins remaining from this past winter.

That means that it’s time for 99 cent starting price auctions on eBay! I’ve listed four of these auctions today. Each skein is a half pound of either Alpaca/Wool or Mohair/Wool and normally sells for $21.99 in my eBay store. Comparable full retail on this yarn is in the neighborhood of $32. Click on the photos at the bottom of this posting to go directly to the auction pages at eBay.

These 99 cent auctions are always great fun! Sometimes the buyer gets an absolutely fantastic deal and other times a particular item catches the attention of buyers and a bidding war ensues. At this time of year, I wouldn't be surprised if these sell at very, very low prices, so get in on the action while you can! Whatever the result, I always enjoy watching the auctions progress. One way or another, I need to make room on the shelves and so these items will sell with no reserve price!

I also wanted to let you know that I heard your comments about the possibility of a contest here on the Fearless Fiber blog and the wheels are already turning in my mind. Be on the lookout for a posting within the next several days announcing our first Fearless Fibers blog contest.

Let the fun begin!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blah, Blah, Blah ... I talk too much

I just wrote a very long post which I promptly deleted. It was a rambling explanation of my comment in a previous post about how I need to learn to knit. But who wants to read my lengthy review of the weak areas of my knitting game? Suffice it say that my stitchwork is good (no problems with intricate cables, texture, colorwork, etc.) but my finishing and knowledge of various techniques stink. And so I’ve vowed to improve my weak areas by trying to incorporate at least some small new technique in projects going forward.

OK. Enough of that. How about some yarn talk?

Last week, I posted a photo of a new yarn that I’m adding to my line. It’s a Superwash Merino Sock Yarn. I’m happy to report that it seems to be a reasonable hit. I had 20 skeins ready as of last week. I listed five in eBay auctions on Monday. All five have bids already and will sell tomorrow when the auctions end. I also listed some in my Etsy store and have sold eight of those. Not too bad for the first week with only a small selection to start.

In the meantime, I’ve developed four additional colorways on this new yarn and will be listing one of each at eBay auction tomorrow (and some on Etsy as well today and tomorrow). Here’s a photo of one of those new colorways, called Marrakesh.

I just love this! The colors are so rich, they’re almost aromatic. Hmmm … that makes no sense, but that’s just the feeling that I get from this colorway.

I also dyed roving for the first time this week. I hate it. Hate it. HATE IT! I did just two colorways, ½ pound each, and it took me forever. It’s just a big pain in the ass handling these long, long strips of fiber. And the ones I dyed are superwash. I have Australian Wool roving as well (not superwash), which will be even more of a nuisance because I’ll need to be even more gentle and painstaking so that it doesn’t felt.

Bottom line – the roving that I dyed is very pretty indeed, but I just don’t think it’s worth the time and effort. I’m committed to keeping my prices as low as possible and with the time it takes to handle roving properly, I just don’t see that I can do it. And so, if you want some roving, get it while you can because I doubt I’ll continue to dye it. I may even just rid myself of some of what I have in stock by selling it undyed at a bargain price in the Supplies section of Etsy. The small quantity that I’ve already dyed is not yet available for sale, as it’s still drying, but I’ll post pix and let you know when it’s available.

That’s it for me for today. Not much of a posting, I know. My apologies. I’ve got tons to do today and I’m anxious to get moving. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees here today and I’m hating the thought of doing anything! Sigh.

I will leave you with one teaser … I’m thinking it’s about time I have a little blog contest with yarn prizes. In fact, I thought it might be fun to have a contest a week throughout July. I’ll give it some thought and post something soon about that.

Have a wonderful day and Happy Knitting!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cashmere & Claudia

Just a quick note for those visitors who got here from the link from Claudia's blog. If you're looking to see the cashmere options available for the Fearless Fibers prize that is one of the jillion Claudia is offering, those are in my eBay store.

While you're here, please do visit a while and feel free to leave a comment if you have a moment. I'd love to "meet" you.

All the best and Happy Knitting!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Answers, WIP, and an Ugly Monstrosity

Kudos to Aija for her great work in identifying the famous first lines that I mutilated in my last posting. Before I jump into other talk, here are the answers with the true quotations:

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a knitting woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of more yarn.
Real Line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen)

2. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without more yarn,” grumbled Jo, lying on the knit rug.
Real Line: “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott)

3. Serene was a word you could put to knitting in New York.
Real Line: Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith)

4. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me a cable-stitch pattern that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
Real Line: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

5. In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together knitting.
Real Line: In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together. (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers)

6. Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father's house in Beldover, knitting and talking.
Real Line: Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father's house in Beldover, working and talking. (Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence)

7. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into a giant knitting needle.
Real Line: As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into a giant insect. (Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka)

Okay. Enough of that.

Once again, the only knitting-in-progress that I have going at the moment is my KWC shawl and again the only update is that it’s longer. I suppose another update might be that I’m growing to hate the damn thing, as it represents a deadline that I may not make. Why that bothers me so much is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps I think that if I don’t complete it by July 9th, I’ll be shunned and ostracized by the knitting community?

On the topic of knitting-in-progress, here is a photo of reader Patricia’s sock-in-progress using Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino Yarn in the Duck Season colorway.

Patricia is using a 1X1 rib at the top for a nice snug fit and then converting to a 3 X 1 rib. I really like the way it’s patterning with the four colors spiraling around in somewhat broad patches, but with all four visible on one side. It’s always amazing to me how the same yarn can pattern quite differently depending on the number of stitches, needle size, as well as the hand of the knitter.

Nice job, Patricia, and thank you for sharing the photo! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing what folks are doing with my yarns. Perhaps I’ll start a photo gallery here soon with projects folks have completed with Fearless Fibers yarns. Hmmm … I can almost smell the whiff of a contest in the air!


I just stepped out on my deck to finish my coffee and enjoy the quiet for a few minutes before the horrible noise begins. Why horrible noise, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. It is because there is a construction project going on right behind my townhouse.

I’ve seen so many beautiful photos that folks post to their blogs of the wonderful things growing in their gardens and such, that I thought I’d share a photo of the monstrosity that I see when I sit on my back deck and so I brought my camera outside with me. When I moved in here three years ago, the view from my back deck was lovely. Woods. Peaceful. Quiet. Lots of wildlife. At least once a week, I’d catch a glimpse of a deer or two peeking out through the trees.

Well, as if on cue just to make my photo op more poignant, here is what I captured this morning when I photographed the monstrosity that I get to look at every day:

Sigh. Poor dear deer. Can you hear his thoughts? “Uhhhh … what happened? Did I make a wrong turn somewhere?” Sigh again.

I must run off now to start another long day. I’ll be back to post again in a day or two and will share with you something that has been burning in my mind these past few days. I’ll explain more in an upcoming post, but the bottom line is that I think it’s about time that I learn to knit.

Everyone have a bang-up day and get some knitting done!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I don’t have time to read much these days, but in my younger days I read quite a bit. I got to thinking this morning how much more interesting all literature would be if only every author made a point of including knitting in some fashion.

Here are some famous first lines of books that I have amended ever-so-slightly to “improve” them (ha!). See how a change of just a couple of words can make such a difference?

Can you name the books and authors? I will post the answers on Thursday with the real first lines as well.

Yes, I know. I am wasting time because I am so tired of labeling and skeining yarn! Leave me be. I need my little diversions. Here goes …

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a knitting woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of more yarn.

2. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without more yarn,” grumbled Jo, lying on the knit rug.

3. Serene was a word you could put to knitting in New York.

4. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me a cable-stitch pattern that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

5. In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together knitting.

6. Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father's house in Beldover, knitting and talking.

7. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into a giant knitting needle.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, June 19, 2006

No Picking

Seems about time for another blog post. Maybe an update on my KWC project? Here it is: It’s longer now.

There’s not much else to saw about a rectangular shawl that just continues in the same stitch pattern throughout. You don’t need to see another picture just to prove that it’s grown, right?

I mentioned in my previous post about this project that my progress has been slow. The reason is that I am pretty much incapable of knitting continental style ("picking") when it comes to anything beyond basic knit and purl stitches. I converted to continental knitting about 18 months ago and have dramatically increased my knitting speed. But I can tell you, it wasn’t an easy conversion for me! My left hand might as well have been caught in a thrasher for all the use it is to me. I can open doors with it, but that seems to be pushing it to its limit. My two hands look like mirror images of one another, but that’s deceptive. They are like identical twins, one of whom emerged from the birth canal unscathed and the other of whom got stuck halfway through and was the victim of a doctor whose grasp was a bit too tight on the forceps! My poor little left hand. Pretty. Kind-hearted. Gentle. And dumb as a post.

And so I slowly push forward the old-fashioned way – throwing the yarn with my smart hand until my elbow aches – with that KWC July 9th deadline always in mind. I looked at the shawl this morning and thought it looked close to three feet long already. But alas, my mind was playing an evil trick on me. I got out the measuring tape and the damn thing is only 23 inches long. How could I think that 23 inches looked to be close to 3 feet? Perhaps my left hand is not the only victim of the tight forceps?

Sigh. I better get back to knitting!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Mocking Nipple

I’ve been very busy these past few days working on replenishing stock in my eBay and Etsy stores and also developing new colorways for a brand new yarn I am adding to my line.

The new yarn is a superwash merino sock/fingering weight yarn. I already carry superwash merino in a sport weight and I have a plain old (not superwash) merino sock yarn, but to date I have not carried a traditional sock weight superwash. I purchased a small quantity (well, small by my standards – 20 pounds) of the superwash sock yarn and will be testing buyer response over the next few weeks.

Nobody except my hubby has seen this yet, so you will be the first to get a glimpse of this new yarn. It’s a lighter-weight sock yarn, at 550 yards per four ounce skein, which makes it wonderfully versatile for both socks as well as lace knitting. It’s scrumptiously soft with a lovely twist to it. I am sooooo in love with this yarn! Here’s just one colorway to give you a taste of it. This, along with a couple of other colorways, will make their debut in eBay auctions on Monday.

Ready for the grand unveiling?

Drumroll please.

Without further ado, I present Fearless Fibers’ Brick House on Superwash Merino Sock Yarn.

Ain’t it just delicious? This one is a rainbow dye, rather than a handpaint. I’m not certain yet but I think I’ll mostly rainbow dye this yarn. It responds beautifully to rainbow dying (which is gradual addition of different colors to the dye pot at various stages in the dyeing process, creating a random mosaic of color rather than a self-patterning yarn). Here’s a closeup so that you can see the gorgeous nuance of colors.

Anyhow, I’ve been dyeing yarn like crazy these past few days, but today I quit early since I have to be somewhere in a couple of hours. Per my usual routine, I rested a few minutes and chatted with hubby Bruce before heading upstairs for a shower.

When I got upstairs and looked in the mirror, I had to laugh out loud at myself. Picture this: I am wearing a purple T-shirt that is splotched and stained with various colors, a pair of gray jersey shorts that have a big picture of Tweety Bird on one leg and are also splotched with dye, and white socks that are not only stained but also have holes in them. This is one of several of my “work” outfits. My hair is tied back in pigtails with wisps coming out everywhere. I am going quite gray and haven’t had a touch-up in months and so I have a speckled dark brown and white patch running down the center of my head. With my hair in school-girl pigtails and this speckled gray line down the center, my head is one giant oxymoron! I’m wearing my glasses rather than my contacts. I am extremely nearsighted and so my glasses … well, how can I explain … hubby Bruce occasionally calls me Mrs. Magoo when I wear them. ‘Nuff said.

I look so hideous it is almost unimaginable. Could I possibly look any worse? I shake my head, laugh it off, and begin to strip for my shower.

And then I see it, staring back at me in the mirror as if to mock me and say, “Yes, it can get worse!”

Dye has soaked through my T-shirt.

I have one green nipple.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Thank You to the Masses Plus Knitting World Cup Stuff

I’ve had several new visitors here in the past week or so and just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You! As I discussed in my very first blog post, I feared that blogging would be my first step toward insanity (well, arguably first) and that it was really just an elaborate form of talking to myself. And so it is with much gratitude that I greet these new visitors.

Ubercherry stopped by and left a comment. She reached me through the Etsy seller’s blogring. She has a blog of her own and also has an Etsy shop.

Tess and knitidiotsavant from my favorite LYS, Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton, Oregon, came by. (Thank you, ladies! You rock!).

The Kitchener Bitch was here too. Like Brenda the Knitter who began popping by some time ago, I don’t know how Kitchener found me, which is particularly fun to see! I popped over to Kitchener’s blog to check it out and I found lots of cool things, including a vintage stocking pattern that I really love and now want to knit (why, I don’t know, as I never wear skirts short enough to show off such lovely stockings. I might as well just wear old-lady-rolled-down knee-high’s under my skirts. Nobody would know the difference.)

And earlier today, barbp was here. She found me through the Stalk & Knit contest I sponsored on Anne’s fabulous KnitSpot blog. The comment Barb submitted began by saying that she was “ROTFLMAO” as she read some of my posts. I have to admit that I’m not very savvy on the commonly used acronyms online. I knew what LMAO meant, but when I first read barb’s comment, for one brief flash of a moment my mind automatically translated it to read “rotten f***er laughing my ass off”! I quickly realized that it actually meant Rolling on The Floor LMAO. Whew! I thought perhaps we had a bawdy broad in our midst.

And finally … hold your breath in anticipation now because this is both a “celebrity” blogger sighting as well as a smooth segue into the next topic … the YM was here. OK. That’s my attempt to sound hip and in-the-know with my acronyms. I know, I know. It didn’t work. Let me try again. The Yarn Monkey was here. That’s the Yarn Monkey as in Organizer of The Knitting World Cup! There is no comment submitted from YM, but she sent me an e-mail to acknowledge my participation in the KWC and mentioned her visit here and referenced something she saw posted here. So there!

And so thank you again to the new visitors. You may be saving me from the slippery slope that leads from blogger to madwoman!

And so, now on to KWC talk.

Let me begin by saying that when I first heard about the Knitting Olympics some months back, I just didn’t get it. I scratched my head and looked puzzled. Why would anyone do this? Just knit something between the start time and the finish time and then pat yourself on the back and stick a gold medal picture on your blog or website? I scratched my head again and continued with the whole puzzled-look thing I had going on. But why? WHY?!?

A few weeks ago, I started seeing the buzz spread about the upcoming Knitting World Cup. As I read about on different blogsites and eventually at the Yarn Monkey’s KWC site, the fog suddenly lifted and I saw the light. The answer to the question became clear:

Question: Why?
Answer: Just ‘coz!

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, I suppose. As I wind my way through the online knitting community (and as I’m learning, it really is a community albeit a vast and ethereal one), I began to feel the connectedness that events like the KWC bring to knitters all around the globe. You can find a sense of belonging, much as you find in your own LYS, as you begin and end a project in unison with scores of other knitters, knowing that you are all marching to the same deadline, starting and stopping in fits and starts as you begin that new project, debating whether there’s time to frog your UFO and start over, persevering in the face of doubt, and finally falling into that wonderful stride of certainty as your project begins to take shape. It’s just cool. You do it … well, just ‘coz.

And so I joined the KWC. My name may not yet appear on the roll on YM’s site, but it will be there in time. She has officially accepted my late entry.

For my KWC project, I decided it was time to finally start that lace shawl I keep saying I’ll start. Well, my first mistake: instead of sticking with the original plan of doing Anne of KnitSpot’s gorgeous ostrich plume shawl, I instead got a hair up my rear and decided to just wing something. That meant wasted time messing around with different possible stitch patterns. Why do I do that? I see a perfectly lovely pattern, read through it, pick the yarn I want to use, dye that yarn, and then suddenly sit bolt upright as if I just received an electric shock and say: “I think I’ll do something a little different.” I do this far too often. Truly. It’s some kind of genetic disease or something. It’s a particularly bad thing because I’m a pretty lousy designer. I’m not being humble folks. Just honest. I have a shelf in my closet that I call The Shelf of Shame. Needless to say, it is where I house those items that are completely unwearable that I have not had the heart to rip out. There lie my old friends “Monkey Sleeves,” “Disco Days,” and “Kansas Farm Girl” among others. Sigh.

But I digress. Back to the KWC project.

So I’ve decided on a cashmere lace shawl. I dyed some cashmere especially for this (well no, I dyed it for the ostrich plume shawl, but … well you understand. It’s a disease. I can’t help it.). It’s a springy shade of emerald green. The cashmere is a slightly lighter weight than the standard laceweight cashmere I carry in my eBay store. I bought this lighter/thinner cashmere planning on carrying it in my line, but I then decided that it’s just a little too lightweight for most people and so I changed suppliers and now have an ever-so-slightly heavier laceweight. (Perhaps I was just looking for an excuse to keep several pounds of laceweight cashmere for myself?)

And so I began the shawl last night. Here is a picture of it so far:

I think it will turn out nicely, although it’s always difficult to envision the FO exactly with lace. That’s particularly true of lace patterns that don’t lie anywhere near flat until they are blocked. That’s the case with this stitch pattern, so the end result will be a bit of a transformation from the WIP. You may ask yourself why I didn’t do a swatch and block it before beginning so that I would have a clearer picture of both how the stitch will look as well as how the gauge will end up when all is said and done. The answer is simple: NO TIME! I have a deadline. It’s the KWC for cryin’ out loud!

Yes, it’s ridiculous, but now that I have signed up for this event I feel compelled to complete this project by July 9th. I have no idea how I’m going to do that. It needs to be around 6 feet long and it’s taking me about a damn hour to complete an inch. EEK!

If you are wondering why my progress on this shawl is so slow, you’ll have to tune back in for a future posting. I’ve rambled on long enough for one day and need to get back to other pursuits now.

Thanks again to all for stopping by!

All the best to you and yours, and Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What awful typos in my last post. My favorite -- "yolk." HA! Too funny to correct.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Morticia, The Scarf, and the Icelandic "Sweata"

When asked, I always say that I taught myself to knit when I was a teenager, but as I lay in bed last night unable to sleep I got to thinking about it and realized that it was, in fact, my mother who first taught me to knit.

I was seven or eight years old at the time. My mother taught both me and my sister, Diana, the basics: cast on, knit, purl, cast off. My mother herself was not a knitter and likely knew very little more than these basics herself.

The project that my sister and I worked on together was a scarf. A 30-foot long scarf! Why a 30-foot scarf you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. Do you remember the old Addams Family TV show? Morticia was often shown sitting in her wingback chair, knitting a scarf that draped over knees, down to the floor, and snaked halfway across the room. My mother was part of an upcoming PTA show at our grade school and there was an Addams Family skit planned for the show. Our scarf was to be a prop.

Now, you may think my mother was a bit of a dimwit to use an actual handknit scarf for such a prop rather than simply using fabric or piecing together a few dime-store scarves. But no! My mother was a smart woman (and still is for the matter, at age 83!). A brutal New York winter was fast-approaching and my mother was confronted with the reality of two rambunctious little girls – aged seven and eight – who would be trapped indoors much of the time. What better idea than to set them to the task of knitting a 30-foot scarf? Wise woman, I say. And crafty too (aaaahhh … an unplanned half-pun!).

I didn’t knit again until I was a teenager. Don’t ask me what sparked my interest in knitting then. I have no idea what got me going again, but I do recall that the basics my mother had shown me all of those years ago came right back to me (muscle memory is an amazing thing!) and I taught myself the rest by carefully reading patterns, examining sweaters from my own closet, and experimenting.

When I visited my sister a couple of years ago and pulled out my knitting, she recalled my teenage days of knitting better than I. She told my husband (put on a rather thick but still ladylike New York accent when you read this), “Most people decide they wanna learn ta knit and so they make a scarf. Ya know? Kinda uneven an’ wavy at the edges? But not Debbie. She decides to knit and makes an Icelandic sweata.”

And she was right. I remember that. I’ve always liked working with intricate color charting. I made my mother a sweater for her birthday last year with a wonderful, detailed snowflake pattern across the yolk and hem, but other than that I haven’t done much of that sort of thing for quite some time. Maybe that will be something else to put on my To Knit list. I seem to do more planning of projects than I do knitting!

Enough reminiscing for now. It’s time for me to get back to work.

Happy Knitting!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Knit, Chat, Eat … Who Could Ask for More?

After a long absence from my favorite LYS (Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton, OR), I finally made an appearance there yesterday morning. I was scheduled to have lunch with a friend, Tess, who is an instructor at Farmhouse. She kindly invited me to join her before lunch at her Friday knit session. It’s a small group that meets on Fridays and pays a nominal fee to have the undivided attention and assistance of a great knitting instructor.

What I found when I arrived at FH were five of the nicest gals one could hope to meet. They were wonderfully friendly and welcoming, allowing me to feel at home and comfortable without any of the feelings of being an outsider that can come when a new person joins an established group. We knit, we chatted, we nibbled on farm-fresh strawberries. I even made some real progress on my latest project (more about that coming …)

Afterward was time for lunch with Tess which was, as always, a delight. Tess and I share the common ground of not only our love of knitting and fiber, but also the challenges of moving from a more traditional career to the rocky road of eking out a meager living in the world of knitting and fiber. And, of course, she’s just an all-around good egg.

Who could ask for a better Friday morning?

And so on to some knit chat now …

I’ve now finished the lacy cashmere scarf that I wrote about when I started a couple of weeks ago. No photo yet, as I need to block it before I can call it a “done.” I don’t usually bother to block scarves, but I think blocking will help bring out the stitch definition a bit more and improve the overall look. We shall see. I have not yet begun the lace shawl I keep meaning to start. Sigh.

My latest project is another pair of socks. Yes, I know. More socks. (Stop that feigned yawning and sighing! I can’t help it. I love knitting socks and I also don’t have the time for a major project right now.)

I’ve already finished the first one, thanks to that extra 90 minutes of knitting time I had at FM yesterday. Here’s a pic of sock number one. It’s knit with my Fearless Fibers Merino Sock Yarn in the Saltwater Taffy colorway.

The cuff is a double-eyelet rib. If you’re new to sock-knitting and looking to graduate from the most basic stockinet and rib sock to something with a bit more character, this is an easy way to do it. You can simply replace the ribbed cuff in your standard sock pattern with something a bit more interesting. In this case, I chose the double-eyelet rib. A few things to keep in mind when you’re selecting a stitch to replace the standard ribbed cuff:

Keep gauge in mind. Test the gauge of the stitch you are considering to be sure it’s close to the gauge of the ribbing in your standard pattern. If it’s not, you would need to do much more amending to your pattern to make it work.
Keep elasticity in mind. You don’t want to lose the elasticity of your sock ribbing when you change stitches. (Nobody wants a sock that slides down their leg all the time!) I personally like to simply choose an alternative stitch that is itself also a ribbed stitch, such as this double-eyelet rib. You can also retain a traditional ribbing for the first couple of inches and then move into a pattern stitch of your choosing, so that you still have a cuff to hold up the sock.
Keep the number of stitches in mind. When selecting your stitch pattern, keep in mind the number of stitches for a full round of your sock. The standard pattern I use calls for 56 stitches. That was another reason the double-eyelet rib worked so well. It’s a 7-stitch repeat and so 8 repeats of the pattern stitch work perfectly to complete one round of 56 stitches.
Keep in mind that you’re knitting in the round. Finally, don’t forget that the pattern stitch you are considering will likely be written for knitting on straight needles rather than in the round, so you’ll need to “reverse” every other row (knit the purls, purl the knits, etc) to knit the pattern stitch in the round. This is another reason the double-eyelet rib worked so well for my sock. Here’s how the seven-stitch repeat of the pattern stitch is written to begin with, followed by the revised stitch to knit in the round.

Double-Eyelet Rib – knit on straight needles:
Row 1: K5, P2
Row 2: K2, P5
Row 3: K2TOG, YO, K1, YO, SL1, K1, PSSO, P2
Row 4: K2, P5

Double-Eyelet Rib – knit in the round:
Row 1: K5, P2
Row 2: K5, P2
Row 3: K2TOG, YO, K1, YO, SL1, K1, PSSO, P2
Row 4: K5, P2

As you can see, the only differences are in every other row – rows 2 and 4 – and the modifications are virtually nothing, just a simple reversal of the knit and purl stitches to take into account that you are knitting in the round.

And so all in all, this was a very simple stitch to add to a straightforward sock pattern to give it a bit more character. Finally, I also purled one row at the start of the sock to give it a bit of foundation and then added three rows of garter (starting on a purl row) at the end of the ribbed section, to give a smoother look to where the stitch pattern transitions into stockinet.

Enough sock chat! I need to get my day underway now and decide whether or not to attend a get-together at another LYS across town where several local Etsy sellers are meeting this morning. I really want to go and I know I probably should, but I have so much yarn that is calling to me from my workshop (“Dye me! Dye me!” Can you hear it?), and the meeting is all the way on the other side of town, so I’m not sure yet if I will attend. I’ll have to noodle on it …

Happy Knitting

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Raise It … Damn, I Dropped a Stitch!

What do you do while you knit? Do you watch television? Listen to music? Or do you simply sit quietly, either with attention closely focused on a complex pattern or perhaps knitting repetitive stockinet stitch and allowing yourself to slip into a peaceful, thoughtless, almost meditative state?

I am going to admit something here that only my husband knows. Here it comes … Are you ready?

Oftentimes while I knit, I also play online poker.

Now, listen closely. I am not a trend-follower. I did not learn the game by watching the World Poker Tour on television. I am not part of the new wave of online players who think a hyper-aggressive strategy is the only way to go. I am also not a gambler when it comes to poker. I’ve been playing the game to some degree ever since I was a kid and began playing in cardrooms and casinos around fifteen years ago.

How I originally got involved in the game is a long story that I won’t go into here, but suffice it to say that before I ever sat down in a real game, I received quite a bit of one-on-one training, read all of the best poker books, received tips and advice from numerous pros, and spent countless hours discussing poker strategies, mathematics and probability, psychology and such with a host of people whose lives revolved around poker. So again I proclaim: I am not a trend-follower! It just happens that one of my favorite pastimes has suddenly become all the rage.

I converted from cardroom and casino poker to online poker about five years ago (still before the craze, mind you!). I don’t claim to be a great player, but I’m certainly what most players would call a “solid” player. I take the game seriously only in the sense that I’m competitive by nature and always try to do well at whatever I happen to do. Beyond that, I take it with a grain of salt. I don’t play high limits. I just play a bit to amuse myself. I certainly have no desire to risk a great deal of money or spend a great deal of time on poker.

I sit in my favorite recliner with my legs stretched out in front of me and my laptop resting not on my lap but on my thighs and down toward my knees, so that I have room in front of me to knit comfortably. Playing poker while I knit is perfect. Despite what the new breed of hyper-aggressive players may think, poker is in large part a game of patience. I am not by nature a patient person and so knitting while I play really helps stave off the boredom of folding a lot of hands and waiting for the right moment to make my move.

There. That’s my secret. This quiet, polite, middle-aged woman who loves nothing more than knitting and yarn and other calm and simple pursuits has an alter-ego in the online poker rooms and occasionally still in casino tournaments or ring-games. This seemingly quiet and gentle woman won’t hesitate to slow-play your ass when she flops the stone cold nuts, at times waiting all the way until the river to lower the hammer when you’re pot-committed. (Oops! I just stopped speaking English and started speaking pokerese, didn’t I? My apologies.)

If knitting while you play poker sounds fun to you, give it a whirl. It’s easy to get started. Pick a large, reputable poker site. There are plenty of them out there. Party Poker is my personal favorite. There are usually more than 50,000 players online at any time so the options of games, limits, tourneys, etc. is seemingly endless.

If you want to give it a try, you can get a $25 bonus with your first $50 deposit at Party Poker by typing in the bonus code: “wildcard” when you sign up. You have to play a certain number of hands before the $25 bonus is released to you, but it doesn’t take long to get there. There are lots of low limit games available. But beware … it’s rather addictive! And you may find yourself dropping a stitch from time to time when a hand you’re involved in becomes particularly riveting.

And whatever you do, be aware that poker is a very complicated game and luck is just one small part of it. There’s a saying in poker that may seem worn and hackneyed but is still very true: Poker is a game that takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. If you know nothing about the game, play at very low limits only with money you can not only afford to lose but also don’t mind losing. That way if you happen to win it will just be a nice surprise, and if you happen to lose you won’t suffer too much pain and will just consider it the price of an afternoon’s entertainment.

Happy Knitting (and card playing)!

Monday, June 05, 2006

My Husband’s Not Really a Moron

According to, a moron is: “A person of mild mental retardation having a mental age of from 7 to 12 years and generally having communication and social skills enabling some degree of academic or vocational education.”

Hmmm … maybe my husband is a moron. Ha! (That is, of course, totally untrue and uncalled for. I’m just having a bit of fun on the off chance that my darling, sweet, beloved husband actually decides to read his darling, sweet, beloved wife’s blog!)

So why am I talking about my husband and his case of mild retardation? I’ll get to that shortly.

After my last post about knitting for others versus knitting for oneself I got to thinking about what I’ve knit for husband. Have I been neglecting him? We’ve been together about two years now and married for one. Mostly, I’ve knit socks for him. In fact, I’ve probably made him about eight pair and I’m happy to say that he does appreciate them and does wear them pretty frequently. He has even been seen jumping up and down in the bowling alley (we are league bowlers, geeky I know) in his stocking feet crying, “Look how springy! They are my magic bowling socks!”

I’ve also knit him two sweaters, one this past winter and one the winter before. The first one I knit for him is a very bulky pullover in an allover Chevron pattern that he wore all of one time. My fault. The sweater is beautiful but it’s just too heavy for him. He’s one of those guys who’s always warm.

For hubby’s second sweater, I was smarter about it. I included him in the decision-making and design process. He liked the idea of simple pullover that would fit loosely so that he could wear it over something else and just take it off if he got too warm.

I had it in mind to use Elsbeth Lavold’s Silky Wool. If you aren’t familiar with this yarn, it’s a blend of silk and wool but the silk is raw silk, so there’s no sheen whatsoever to it and it also has just a hint of a nubby texture to it, although not nearly enough texture to interfere with the stitch definition or to feel in the least bit rough. The yarn is very light and airy, so the sweater is not too heavy to be practical. It’s also a good value yarn, with nice yardage because of the light, airy quality. (A 50 gram skein retails around $7 if I recall correctly and has 192 yards.) The entire sweater for hubby only cost about $80 or so. That may not sound inexpensive to new knitters, but believe me, it’s a very good price for a quality yarn. Someday I’ll tell you about the shawl I knit two years ago which cost me … ready for this … hang on because you might faint … omg … deep breath … around $275! And this was not a fancy, novelty yarn. It’s nice yarn, but just a tencel and wool blend. EEK!

To further involve hubby in the sweater process, we went to my favorite LYS together to buy the yarn. We spread out all of the color choices for the Silky Wool yarn and he chose three. I don’t recall the names of the colors he chose, but he picked a darkish gray, an olive shade of green, and a deep purple. Yep. Green, purple and gray. But somehow they seem to work together.

And so now we finally get to the point where I explain why I began this post by saying that my husband is not really a moron. I made this point because when I asked him to model the sweater this morning so that I could take a blog-photo, he simply would not stop making goofy faces and standing in silly “model” positions. Sigh.

OK. Fine then. Your picture is going on my blog looking like a moron. AND … you also look like you’re going bald! (Which he sort of is, but not nearly so much as the photo makes it appear.)

So here is My Husband The Dolt in his sweater.

For the most part, I like the way it came out. The sweater is large on him but that was mostly intentional, as I knew he wanted to wear it over something else (which he is not in the photo). It has no ribbing on the bottom, which is important because my beloved hubby would prefer to camouflage the basketball he has been growing around his midsection these past few months (sign of a happy marriage, I suppose?).

Here’s a closeup of the stitch detail.

It’s a very simple slip garter 4-row repeat. In this sweater, with the three colors, I simply alternated: two rows of color A, two rows of B, two rows of C, throughout. For those who haven’t tried a slip garter like this, following is the stitch pattern. It’s one of my favorites as it creates what looks like fairly intricate colorwork but really is not, as you are never working with more than one color on the same row. The slip stitches do the magic by drawing one color upward into the next.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: K1, *SL1 purlwise, K1, repeat from * to end
Row 4: K1, *YF, SL1 purlwise, YB, K1, repeat from * to end

SL1 = slip 1
YF = yarn forward
YB = yarn back

Alright. Enough of all this chat about a sweater I finished a few months ago! What about now? I’ve temporarily scrapped the tentative plan I mentioned in a previous post about doing a lacy cashmere summer top. I may do that eventually, but now I’m intrigued by a shawl. Anne of Knitspot sent me a wonderful gift of two of her patterns, one of which is an ostrich plume shawl that I really like. Now I think that shall be the next project I begin, although I don’t know whether it will be for myself or a gift for someone else. (See that … circled right back around to the topic of knitting for oneself versus someone else.)

I suppose I should stop rambling on now and go get some work done.

Thanks to the new folks who popped in with a couple of comments to my last post! Hope to hear from you again.

Ahhhh … and here’s a teaser for anyone who actually happens to read all the way through to this point … I’m considering possibly admitting my deep, dark secret in my next posting. It has to do with the unusual thing that I do when I knit. Some people watch TV, some listen to music, but I think that very few people do what I do. And for some reason, I have kept this a secret from everyone but my hubby. Only he knows my DDS (deep dark secret, that is).

Happy Knitting!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Critters and Other Things

Reader Joelle’s comment about her contemplation of starting a baby blanket for her wee one got me to thinking about knitting for oneself versus knitting for someone else. Before I dive into that subject, let me first say that it is well worth the time and effort to make that baby blanket!

I made a blanket for my sister’s first child, almost 18 years ago. I had long since forgotten about this blanket (a simple blanket of lavender and eggshell variegated cotton, knit in a straightforward checkerboard pattern of squares that alternated between seed stitch and stockinet). When I visited my sister and her family a couple of years ago, her second to youngest daughter - who at the time was around 12 years old - was sitting in front of the TV with that ancient blanket wrapped around her shoulders. I couldn’t believe it! I asked me sister about it and she said that indeed her first four children (she has five) had all used the blanket but that it stopped being passed down with the fourth child because she had become attached to it in a classic “Linus” fashion, taking it with her everywhere she toddled. And there she sat, at age 12, with shoulders warmed by her favorite blanket after all of those years. Nothing could have made me happier!

And so on to the question of whether to knit for oneself or to knit for someone else … I’ve met knitters over the years who knit almost exclusively for others, while other knitters seem to knit almost exclusively for themselves. Is this some indication of whether one is a giving person or a selfish person? Perhaps, but I hope not, because I must admit that I am not the most giving knitter! I, personally, knit for others mostly out of guilt. Everyone I know is certainly aware of my knitting addiction and so never knitting gifts for any of them would not go unnoticed. And for those close to me, I really am happy to do it. But my oh my, how I hate it when people I barely know learn that I knit and casually say, “Oh, you knit?! My daughter would love a shrug. Would you make one for her?” I just gently decline, explaining how long my list of projects is (lie). Inside I shout, “NO, I won’t!! Do you have any idea of the time and effort that goes into a handknit garment. Idiot!!” (OK. I’m not the most tolerant person.)

Now on to some actual knit talk …

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been focusing mostly on small projects, since I’ve been very busy with yarn dying and don’t have as much time as I would like for knitting. I also mentioned a pair of mittens I just finished and something strange I had in mind for them. Well, I decided to pursue that strange vision. Here are the mittens when first completed:

I made them of my Fearless Fibers Two Tone Twist Merino. I LOVE this yarn! It’s a four ply merino, where one ply is treated to drink in the dye differently, creating a two-tone effect. It knits with a “tweed” look. It’s a great option when you want more than a solid but not so much variation as most handpainted yarns. It’s also an awesome yarn because it’s super-light and springy. It has wonderful memory and also, because it is so light and airy, the yardage is unexpectedly great for a yarn that knits at a worsted gauge (but you get a full 265 yards to 4-ounces!). It can also easily be knit at a tighter gauge with smaller needles, as I did with these mittens to give them that nice, sturdy quality one wants in a mitten.

But then … something itched in the back of my brain … a mad desire to animate these simple mittens. I dug deep into my yarn stash and came up with some wonderfully soft, plush black velvet yarn (Touch Me, if I recall correctly), some black Eyelash yarn and a bit of variegated blue wool/tencel blend … and Voila! The mittens are alive!

Well, ain’t that just the silliest thing you ever saw? I love them completely and with abandon! I can't really see myself wearing them though, so I've listed them in my hubby's tiny little Etsy store.

As to the yarn dying, I continue as always. I’ve mostly been replenishing low stock these days rather than creating anything new. Lots of items have now been re-stocked in my eBay store. One of my favorites is back in 4-ply cashmere. It’s the colorway called Mountain. Yum, yum!

Alright. Enough chattering for today. There’s still time for a bite to eat and a moment’s rest before my hubby’s softball game tonight. I’ll continue working on the cashmere lace scarf from my prior post during the game. It’s not too far from finished now. Yippee!