Sunday, July 30, 2006


All that work. Up in smoke. I spent the entire day yesterday working on the second half of the baby blanket. ALL day! I was about 3/4 finished with the grafting when I realized I couldn't finish. Somehow, I am missing about 20 stitches. Where did they go? I've spent the morning trying to find them. They are just gone. I counted the bottom of each side: fine. I counted the edges: fine. I counted the middle: wrong. The half I worked on yesterday has less stitches than the one I finished weeks ago, even though I started with the same number of stitches. How do you lose 20 stitches? I can't find anywhere where I've decreased. I looked at every row. I can't fix my mistake if I don't know what the problem is. So. What do I do? I guess I'll let the blanket sit for a week or so, then frog it and make it something else.

In better news, I finished a hat for a friend of a friend's preemie (he weighs less than three pounds). I included a hand-wound ball of yarn for scale. I used Classic Elite Premier and two size 6 circulars. I think I may make a red one out of Cascade Pima Tencel (which is pretty much the same as the Premier) as a soothing, relaxing, easy project that I can't get wrong. Knock on wood.

Next, I'm going to make an entrelac washcloth. I've wanted to try entrelac for a while and this seems like an easy way to learn the basics. The pattern is here (via 1870 Pearl).

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I know. I need a real camera. Here are a few (bad) pictures of the last two FOs. The first is the baby kimono I designed. I didn't mean for it to be so puckered along the edges, but I rather like the look. I may revise the pattern for next time.

The second is an in-between project. I had one skein of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk that I made into a neck warmer (or gaiter) and wrist warmers. I couldn't believe how far the yarn went. Though it seems like an expensive yarn at around $14 per skein, it went a long way. I will complain a bit about winding it. I didn't get it wound in New York, where I bought it, because I figured the slippery-ness would cause it to unwind during the trip home. It was such a pain to wind by hand. There were a ton of tangles throughout. I made this set for myself because I wanted to feel the silk next to my skin, especially on my sensitive neck. Sorry about the bad pictures. Oh, and the diamond pattern is the one I had to rewrite from Knitting on the Edge (though I'm less cranky about it now).

Please read the next post. I wrote two tonight. The following is a loooong tirade that has been on my mind. I'd like to hear other thoughts on this issue.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

I have something on my mind. Seems like I've seen a lot of writing about knitters liking acrylic yarns for baby items (including a recent review from Knitter's Review). This scares me tremendously. Now, I'm not getting on my fiber-snob high horse here, I'm trying to educate.

Washability for babies and children is very important. In today's knitting world, there are many, many natural fibers that are washable and soft (cotton, linen with washing, hemp with washing) and many more that are treated to be washable (any superwash wool). Sure, some are expensive, but with the internet, anyone can find a deal. Let's compare: Acrylic Yarn at Joann's and Superwash Wool at There may not be as great a selection, but some further searching will yield this from Webs. In fact, if you will notice, some of the acrylic yarns are downright expensive. $7.99 for 33 yards of a bulky acrylic is not that great of a deal.

Again, I'm not being snobbish. There's a larger issue than whether or not I like acrylic yarns. The issue is flammability. Or, rather, meltability.

Acrylic yarn, if ignited, will melt. It is not fire-retardant by any means, though it may take longer to actually ignite. Baby clothes and other baby items that are not fire-retardant are treated to be so or they come with a warning. I'm not saying that we should put a warning on all acrylic yarn, but I do want people to think about it. I will note that cotton and linen both ignite easily. Melted acrylic can cause severe burns and might drip onto other surfaces.

I don't expect knitters to know that wool is self-extinguishing and therefore a great material for babies (try Lorna's Laces Shepherd yarns), but I do think that we should learn a little more about the fibers we use. We choose a particular yarn for so many reasons. Shouldn't the safety of our little ones be an important factor. If it isn't a factor, or if knitters aren't as worried about fire as I am,* then I say stay away from acrylic because it is sticky and shiny in a bad way, or choose it because you have a good reason (like it was given to you as a gift and you must use it). I'm all for a little microfiber** to add resiliency and bounce (to adult garments), but I won't use any 100% microfiber.

The more I research, the more I'll hesitate before using cotton or other plant fiber for baby items. For adults, or for babies that are not born to smokers, I'll use cotton and the like along with superwash wool.

Of course, if there is a fire, there's more than just melting baby blankets to think of (as a friend pointed out to me today), and I may just be overreacting.

*Until recently I could not sleep with the bedroom door open, even just a little. I really took that firefighter demonstration in fourth grade seriously.

**I just read on Wikipedia that microfiber does not come from a renewable source, so I will not try to avoid it as much as possible. See what a little research will bring?

Friday, July 21, 2006


I should have been a copy editor. I have this knack for catching errors in publications. My eye just darts right to the misspelled word or misplaced apostrophe. Sometimes, it can be irritating. I've stopped reading books that weren't properly edited. Please, please, please let me know if I ever misspell a word or use improper grammar. I would die of embarrassment if it went unchecked.

Now I am thinking that perhaps I should be a copy editor/pattern reader for knitting patterns. I was trying to use the 1x1 woven diamond rib pattern from Epstein's Knitting on the Edge. Well. The even-numbered rows are written backwards, which actually helps since I was going to rewrite the pattern to work in the round. I tried checking for corrections, but there are none for that pattern. So I searched for Epstein and the name of the stitch pattern. Seems that the pattern is also in Epstein's Knitted Embellishments. The backwards rows don't seem to be a problem in that version, but at least I know what happens after the fourth row. It's also charted.

I've mentioned before that it bugs me when designers use the same patterns in different publications. I understand that there are so many stitch patterns and that two books of stitch patterns will probably share some patterns. But come ON! If you are writing a book of only stitch patterns, and stitch patterns that are used as edgings or embellishments (which can be the same thing), please try to avoid using the same pattern twice.

Maybe I should write stitch pattern books.

The even-numbered rows are written backwards in Knitted Embellishments. My guess is that Epstein made the chart, and then wrote the pattern row by row. She must have read the pattern right to left on each row, rather than left to right on the even number rows and right to left only on the odd numbered rows.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One Strand of Yarn

I don't have much progress to report. I have all the pieces of the baby kimono done tonight. I like the Cashcotton DK, but it has all these stray hairs (the angora?) that get all over my clothes. I'll tell more about it when the sweater is all seamed up.

In the meanwhile, I want to proclaim that I LOVE to teach knitting. I had a great student last night; she's taking private lessons with me at The Needleshop. She was serious, but she was excited and I could tell that she will stick with it. I have gotten to know a few people that I've taught over the last year and a half. I was going to say it makes me proud, but it isn't really that. I feel like, at least with the three or four I've spent time with post-class, that we have an instant connection. Sure, there are people I've taught that I don't want to spend time with, but the ones I like, and who are becoming friends, are special. It's really amazing to teach someone something that you love. It's creating a lineage. Like one long strand of yarn connecting you with the person who taught you and with the people you've taught. I should start a family tree of sorts.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I forgot to take pictures of the washcloths I made as housewarming gifts for a friend. I also flaked out on the party (there was ice cream and everything!), so I spent all of last weekend feeling guilty. But the washcloths are nice. The hemp wrecked my hands after furiously knitting with it for four hours or so--I wanted to finish so I could take them to the party. Of course, I didn't stop knitting that day. I worked on the second half of the baby blanket, found a mistake, and ripped out about three inches. I haven't gotten back to it. It's been a bit too humid to work with a wool blend.

I've started the baby kimono. This is my first self-designed garment.

Jen had her baby, and I spoke with her (Jen, not the baby) today. She sounded great and happy, and it sounds like Renée Allison is doing well. She is sleeping and eating and Jen says she has lots of hair, just like Joseph did.

Back to the kimono. I've gone with the Cashcotton, since it is simply the softest. I'm beginning with the front. I spent last night decreasing for the overlapping side. Then I realized that I had too many stitches for that side. I planned on making it a bit thinner than the underlapping side. So I ripped back. I then did the math for both fronts. I even got up and created a grid to highlight the decreases and to check my work. By the time I was finished, it was after midnight.

This isn't the first time I've stayed up knitting past the point of too-tired. But it is the first time I've stayed up to do math. Just goes to show how important Jen is to me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rules were Made to be Broken

Oh, have they been broken. It started with a last-minute gift for a housewarming present. I ran into Nina for some All Hemp 6 to make some quick handtowels or washcloths (washcloths it is-- I'm a busy girl). I bought three colors. Then I found out about a sale at Loopy that is offering 40% on some of their summer stock. Who can resist a sale? I bought too much, of course: Hempathy in sage, Cashcotton DK (which I just realized was not on sale. Shoot) in hessian, and a Euroflax Originals in charcoal (which I knew wasn't on sale, but I wanted to be sure I have enough for the nightie).

It was a toss up between the Hempathy and Cashcotton for a kimono sweater I want to make for the new baby (arriving on Monday!), so I got both of course. I figured they were both on sale so no problem. My decision would have been easier had I known the Cashcotton wasn't on sale. Shoot. Again. I guess I could take it back. But, really, I'd have only saved $8.75. Wait, that's the price of one ball. Shoot. I'd been eyeing the color for a while, so it's justified right?

Back to the All Hemp. I've only got one and a half washcloths done and I'd like to have three. There's only 18 more hours to the party. I'll have an incredibly long bus ride to finish the third, though, so I think I'll make it. It's just like me to be weaving in ends during the party.

Sunday I'll be back on the baby blanket, which will fulfill my rules. I've just had a couple exceptions, that's all. Oh, and I gave away the rest of my red Lamb's Pride at a knitting party I was teaching, so that part of the rule has been foiled anyway.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Not to worry: I'm still following the rules. I have started on the baby blanket. I love the subtle colors in this yarn (it's more yellow than in the picture). The yarn is nice, (Brooks Farm Four Play from the Widows and Orphans section), but not as luxurious as Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. The Four Play is somewhat wooly feeling. The combination is the same at 50% wool 50% silk, but I think the Lion and Lamb has a silkier feel. This is cushier, though. It is definitely a spongier yarn, which I like. My favorite yarns all have a spongy feel when they are knit up.

I've settled on a pattern, too. I'm going to use the Hearts pattern in Knitting on the Edge as a border along the bottom, top, and sides. The heart is done in stockinette on reverse stockinette, so I think I'll do a plain stockinette square in the center. I was going to do an eyelet pattern, but it seemed too busy once I started knitting. I am planning on knitting the blanket in two parts so the hearts face down from the middle. I will graft the two halves together when I'm done. I have two full skeins of the yarn and another 80 yards to boot. I'm simply going to knit one half with one ball and the other half with the second ball. I'll use the remaining ball to graft it together and maybe make a small pillow to go with the blanket.

Before I started on this project, I made a Burp Cloth from Mason Dixon Knitting. The yarn is Twisted, by Suss Yarns, in Chocolate and Nude (pink). It was really cute in the skein, but knitted up, just okay. It's two cotton yarns "twisted" together. My plies did not stay twisted, so it was like knitting with two yarns from the same ball.

I don't know why I keep avoiding the projects on my list. I could have made the burp cloth longer, but I had that Eureka! moment for the blanket and wanted to get started. I'd been avoiding it so long, I figured if I didn't start then, I wouldn't start at all. Especially now that I want to make this hat.