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Archive for February, 2006

Olympic Slow-Motion Replay

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

I have ripped back almost half of the fronts on my olympic top. At first I thought I may have cast on the wrong number of stitches, but thankfully that turned out to not be true. However, I’m back to the point where I’m decreasing for the armholes. Sigh.

I still got much further in the knitting of this somewhat boring-to-knit object, by having the Olympic push. I will surely wear this as soon as the weather warms up. It’s not done yet, but I’m sure it will be done.

Right now, though, I have two largish balls of yarn that once were knit fabric. It took a good while for me to rip both fronts to the same spot, but that’s accomplished and the ripped yarn is in tidy balls ready to knit again.

It could be worse. When you make a mistake sewing, if you cut the wrong way your fabric is ruined. In knitting if you work the wrong way you rip out and the fabric is gone but the yarn is still good for knitting the fabric again. Gotta love that!

I may have knit more today if I were not fighting the second day of a headache. I slept till noon and that was a really good thing, after the weekend of little sleep. I felt better in late afternoon after some good food and some doctoring. Not gone, but significantly better. I’m learning that a solid meal with much protein can really help the headaches sometimes. Whatever works, I guess.

I have a zillion photos on the camera and no inclination to sit at a computer and edit them for you. One day soon, my blog entry will be all photos, you are warned! For now it’s time to sleep again.

Headache Day Again

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Monday I did my three classes and nothing else. Somehow I got taken over by a headache.

Fortunately I was able to get food Monday without having to cook. I doctored myself with a long, hot bath (I never feel sick when taking a bubble bath). Shortly thereafter, I fell asleep on the floor, happily wrapped up in my Ethiopian cotton blanket (Gahbi) on the heat vent. My fave comfort zone in the world, it is! I must have been a cat in a previous life…

…I slept over 12 hours. After our sleep-deprived weekend, I think that was the right thing to do.

A Gold Star, but not a Gold Medal

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Well, I gave it the old college try… my Olympic knitting project is now a back and two fronts, sewn together at the shoulder seams but not the side seams, no edgings, no clasps sewn on and no ends worked in.

The good news? It fits me and is actually more curvy looking on me than anticipated. I was really worried a few days ago when I looked through the Purl Stitch book and found a new photo I’d not seen (in the front section called “wardrobe”) of the top on the twiggy-shaped cover model. She is very cute, tall with good shoulders and long legs but few curves. On her, the sample garment in size M looked like an unshaped cylinder. The way my gauge evened out, the top (size S) has very little design ease but fits and is a good length as well.

The only person I found who had ever knit this item before said hers felt like it needed a little more height in the armholes. Mine at first glance looks fine in that area… at least, before knitting edgings.

I added the increases for the “lapel” in a place that looks much like the view in the Purl Stitch book on page 81 (rather than page 79 which is the version written up in the pattern). It looks good and I’m glad I did it that way.

The down side? I must not understand a few things in the pattern the way they were meant to be understood. I thought I was following the pattern exactly but my stitch counts on the fronts, just a few rows after starting the armholes, were off. They stayed off, even got worse as I worked. I did some adjusting in a few places, to the shaping of the lapel/neckline. It did not work well enough and took away the sort of chinese-influenced wrapped look. It sort of curls at the top edge in an uneven way because of the final shaping of the top edge.

I will drag my project around with me to a few places where knitters hang out, this week, as I do my other work. I will collect suggestions on what to do.

If I can get really clear about what went wrong, I’d be very happy to undo the shoulder seams, rip out the fronts down to the armhole (or wherever things started to go wrong) and reknit the top 1/3 of the fronts so that they will have nicely shaped lapels. The ones I have right now sort of roll down and look wrong. I can not imagine how adding the edging would correct that enough to make it nice enough to wear. But I could be wrong there, and would love to be convinced I am.

I did a great job of staying on task with a project that was not enjoyable to knit much of the time. I am glad I enjoyed the color and the amazing shiny texture of my yarn, because I never did make friends with purling a whole row.

Again, for me the attraction of the Knitting Olympics was to push myself to make something I would not typically knit. I accomplished that goal. The top is now so close to done, I’m absolutely sure I’ll get it finished and wearable. I hope I find an answer, whatever that may be, to how I can make that top 1/3 of the fronts just have a better line. Maybe I can work backward now, from top down, and figure out how many rows I need to complete the decrease series I want to make the top look right.

And actually, it’s possible I’ll only have to re-knit the right front. When the clasps are fastened, the two front pieces overlap and the bottom layer does not show at all. So as long as the neckline edge of the left side looks fine, I may just reknit the right side. I am not one to worry about how things look when nobody can see them but me.

It was FUN! I’ll have to collect information from my Team Michigan folks and put it up on our team page so it’s in one place. Hopefully I can collect photos.

I’m SO tired from staying up past 3am two nights in a row… I’m going to bed rather than staying up all night knitting edges to a top that is not quite right.

But I’m convinced this will be a lovely, dressy, summer top.

Olympic Updates

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Well, Tuesday’s knit-in was fun with Rae and I (I have a cute photo of us but little time to edit it for you yet). Today/Saturday I sat at Gone Wired Cybercafe with Sophie of Olympic Team Michigan and also Julie of my morning First-Time Toe-Up socks class at Rae’s. That was just plain fun. I wish for more knit in’s, just because.

The Knitting Olympics? I’ve heard from a few folks on the team here and there on their progress.

  • Kate doesn’t have photos or an update on her blog right now, and I haven’t heard from her in email.
  • Kirsti has photos of her threadybear steeked sweater with one sleeve complete, on her blog dated Thursday.
    Kristi finished her socks. Go, Grrl!
  • Laney finished her goal. Gold!
  • Laurie wrote Tuesday that she had problems due to a gauge swatch “incident.” Pooh. Saw her very briefly and didn’t chat the other day and now I wish I’d stopped to smell the roses and talk Olympics. Sorry, L.
  • I’m making good fabric-building progress but now that I’m at the number of stitches the pattern says I should have, I have a different number of increases than she thinks I would have done to get there. I need a good clear head and a calculator to figure this out. I think it’s about measuring sometimes with inches and sometimes with rows. First move will be to compare the actual back to the actual fronts and see if I’m in the ballpark as it stands right now.
  • Pirate Mariam has been knitting on her fairly boring stockinette bulky sweater, plugging away but alternating with more interesting projects (such as drawing).
  • Rae finished her Rogue even though she had to refigure everything (including sideways cables) because her yarn was a different gauge than specified. I mean, she finished it days ago. The grrl is amazing.
  • Rob was cranking like crazy but his store is having a 20% off everything in stock sale this Fri/Sat/Sun and so I bet he hasn’t had a second to knit in a couple days. Even though he has finished both front and back of Yelena and much of a sleeve at last blog post (Thursday).
  • Sarah Peasley wrote that she was making good progress on her Krystina and I know she spent Saturday with other knitters on retreat. I bet she makes it, she is another one of those knitters who really cranks.
  • Shanon hasn’t written in a little bit and there is no update on her blog… hope all is well there.
  • Sophie’s blog isn’t updated but I saw her project. It’s an amazing super-cabled, super-wooly-warm Mission Falls shrug. She was on the very edge knitting the ribbing when I last saw her. She’ll definitely have time to finish.
  • Susie changed gears midway from Olympic knitting to her own personal deadline: a baby shower with little notice.
  • Teresa L says she did finish one sweater but the second one had much more to work on than she remembered. We’re cheering her on.
  • Theresa I hasn’t had an update since Monday but she had made progress on her sock at that point, which looks promising!

We had a great concert at Altu’s but that will require a whole post of its own… and now my musical guests are arriving for the second night of jam sessions till late hours… off to play tunes!

No Sleep, Much Fun

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

We have guests in town from the Ukulele community. Bob C. of Cincinnati and Fred Fallin of Chicago are in Lansing at the same time. Last night we had a jam session, with these two guys, Brian and myself, Brian’s boss Stan W. and our friend Bob M. from the Abbott Brothers band. Oh! My! What fun! They left at 3am, we were like college kids almost and the lack of sleep was worth it.

Or so it appears… I have to dance at 11am and will not have been awake a whole hour when I get there. Thank goodness it’s a rehearsal, not a show!

Knit in is 3-5pm today, Gone Wired Cybercafe. All who wish to join us are welcome, Olympics or not.

And then Brian and I will play at Altu’s from 6:30-8:30. Maybe we’ll do a little jam at the end with our uke friends who are staying for that show. You won’t want to miss this! We share the stage with Fred often at Uke festivals, he’s a one of a kind. Come on down!

A Little Knitting, a Little Teaching

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Last night we had a great time singing at The Temple Club. Thanks to all our friends who turned out.

We had a handful of listeners we know through Habibi Dancers, and a bunch of musician friends were there. We even got to see Andy and Joe, our music friends from the band Steppin’ in It, who we had not seen since September. It was really great to have them come to hear us sing. What fun that was!

Today (Thursday) I taught two classes, had CityKidz Knit! program and did a tiny bit of Olympic knitting. I knit on three different projects in the course of the day, didn’t make progress on much.

The weather was just as flaky as my day. It was sunny, then snowy, then sunny, now cold at night.

I guess some days are just not focused. That’s normal, part of being human.

The exciting news is that on the fronts of my Olympic Knitting top, I’m at the point where I will decrease for the armholes on the next row. That means I have to pay attention, right?

Busy, Nothing New
Tomorrow/Friday is normally a day off. This week I see Altu for lunch (she was busy during our regular lunch date time this week), plus we have company coming from out of town, plus I teach Bloom Shawl at night at Threadbear.

Saturday I had wanted to go at least half a day to the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild Retreat, but now I have a dance rehearsal instead. Then 3-5pm an Olympic Knitters (and friends) knit-in at Gone Wired Cybercafe, followed by 6:30-8:30 singing performance at Altu’s. Fun, but busy. Could be much worse.

I had a bit of a headache before I looked at that schedule. Now I definitely need to go rest!!!

Photo: I took this at sundown on Valentine’s Day. We were just south of Tampa, Florida. Pretty, huh?

Welcome to Kate/Team Michigan

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

It’s never too late to belong on my team… Kate W./RhymesWithOrange has joined us on Team Michigan. Welcome, Kate!

Balance, or the Lack of It

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

The sun is shining for the second day in a row. In Michigan, in February. I’m loving it! However, it makes me want to take a day off. When I’ve already had a full week off and I have a large list of things on my plate in the next several days. The good news? The things on my plate are lovely indeed.

Tonight Brian and I open for Klezmeroke at The Temple Club, at 10pm. I’m not sure what room we are in. This is a big deal for us, as we’re not a dance band and we don’t normally get chances to play in venues of this type. Should be a blast!

Saturday, we play at Altus from 6:30-8:30. Family environment, no cover, early show means you can catch one or two other shows in town before calling it a night if you so wish. Often there’s a good show at Cappucino Cafe on Lake Lansing where we go after we’re done with our own gig.

In knitting news, I’m teaching First-Time Toe-Up socks at Rae’s, starting Thursday at 11am-1:30pm. It’s three weeks in a row. At night 6:45-8pm, I’m teaching a No-Purl, Toe-Up, Afterthought heel sock at Rae’s, also 3 weeks starting tomorrow.

Friday night at 5:30pm-7:30pm, I’m teaching Bloom Shawl at Threadbear. Sunday 11:30am-5pm I’m teaching ColorJoy Stole at Threadbear.

And of course, Saturday afternoon from 3-5pm, we have a Knitting Olympics-Inspired knit in at Gone Wired Cybercafe. Anyone who wants to come is invited, of course, olympics or not.

Photos: Brian and I as The Fabulous Heftones, the new sock design I’m teaching at Rae’s this Thursday night, Bloom shawl.

Sock Pairs #124 and #125

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Socks 124While I was away, I finished two pair of socks I’d had partly knit for a good while. Pair 124 was in Bingo by Lana Grossa, I got it at Threadbear when I taught a First-Time Toe-Up class there in the last few months. It’s eggplant/dark purple and springy 100% washable wool.

I’ve made one pair of this yarn already and it’s been washed a half dozen times with no disappointment thus far. It’s fat yarn, 80m (88yd) in 50gm, rated for 4.5 to 5.5mm needles (a 4.5mm is a size 7 US in Clover/Takumi needles) on a sweater, anyway.

I used size 4US needles (I think 3.5mm) for these because that’s what I had on hand, the last pair I did in this yarn was on size 5 needles. The last pair were much softer but this pair will wear like iron, I’d expect!!! Even without any nylon content they are thick and dense and will take some abuse before wearing thin.

On this pair I followed my First-Time Toe-Up sock pattern exactly until the foot was complete. Instead of ending with a shortie rolled cuff, I kept going in a stockinette tube until I ran out of yarn, which did make a roll but much higher up (remember, I have a tiny foot, these were knit on very few stitches, I think 36 stitches around). They look sort of funny off the foot but I think they are just plain adorable on.

The next pair (#125 in my personal sock history), was knit in fingering weight yarn from Threadbear, which I purchased back in Spring 2005 (I think in April). I’ve long ago lost the ball band since I had to rewind the large 100gm skein into two small balls so I could knit both socks at the approximate same time.

These socks I made top down with a 1.25″ rib (knit 3 purl 1, my favorite especially in self-striping yarns) and an afterthought heel (four-part swirl) and four-part swirl decreased toe as well. They look even funnier off the foot than the last pair, but are cute on, and they fit Mom very well.

Socks 125Since Mom is usually in a place with decent weather, she wears short thin-wool socks happily and frequently. This yarn was greens and blues, her fave. It’s great to finally finish those… I mailed them out to her today after finishing all the ends and blocking them properly.

Rambling, Guild, Friends, Olympics, Sleep
So much to write about, my friends, and little time online today. I have run into so many knitting friends, had lunch with dear friend Tony for his birthday, also with friend Susan Hensel who was in town for a few days, and her son, and her son’s friend…

I go to the yarn shops where I teach, and I run into great people who know other great people I know. I just love that about this town.

And guild? Again, great people and no time to talk to them all. I was so hoping to catch Luann but she left while I was chatting with others. (Luann, you read this sometimes, I miss you.)

Tamsyn showed me her recently finished B4 bag. Pattern by my friend Trish Bloom who also designed the Bloom Shawl I’ve knit twice so far. But the coolest thing? Tamsyn made her own polymer clay buttons and beads for the bag (which features 4 “b’s,” bumps, bobbles, beads and buttons). It looked FABulous! Go, Tamsyn! Wish I’d taken a photo of that bag but it’s too late now.

I need to sleep, my friends. Last night I did it again, was so tired I fell asleep before midnight (me, the one who often is up till 2am and almost never asleep before 12:30)… on the wood floor by the heat vent. And I was SO tired that I literally slept there till I woke up at 8:45am after nine hours of sleep. Dead asleep, didn’t realize where I was, I was so out cold. I am grateful that nobody called to wake me up this time… yesterday being a holiday brought what seemed like dozens of phone calls, most of which had nobody there when we finally picked up the phone.

I loved the olympics tonight though I’ve knit very little on my top today. Now it’s time to be done with the day, forget pushing hard for the gold, and go to bed. I do have a new member of Team Michigan to put up on the page tomorrow, and I need to congratulate Kristi and Laney for their early-gold finishes.

Now, really… bedtime…

Olympic Photos

Monday, February 20th, 2006

backBrian asked why I was interested in Knitting Olympics. I am grateful to be pushed beyond my comfort zone, I’m glad to have a finite amount of time to focus on something that I would not ordinarily knit (I can do uncomfortable things if I know there is an end in sight), and I’m extremely glad to have this focus time to use the yarn that someone gifted me with several years ago. I want to honor that gift.

I’m really enjoying the friendships I’m making on Team Michigan, too… I really love the Internet for the relationship-building I experience because of it. I can share my passion for whatever it is on my mind. (I’ve been involved with self-employed groups, owners of VW New Beetles, Freecycle, mailart/eraser carving groups, polymer clay groups, and knitting groups.) Some of my Internet-met friends are among my most precious. Right now I’m contemplating a trip to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, during the lovely weather of summer, to visit one of the Team Michigan folks. Cool, huh?

backOK, so here are the too-long-awaited photos. At top is the completed back of my top/vest (Sally Melville’s Cross-Over Top from The Purl Stitch book). Stitches at top are holding for construction later. Yes, there are a few orange stitch markers there, marking significant rows in the construction process.

The second photo is two fronts being knit at the same time. I’m almost at the point where I need to start shaping. When the fronts are done, there is some seaming to do and then picking up and knitting edges that match the bottom edge (reverse stockinette rolled edge on smaller needles). I think I’m past halfway and we’re just past halfway in the Olympic games. I hold hope that I can make the deadline.

I’m glad I did the back first. I can tell that the knitting became much more even somewhere after I started the shaping for the armholes. I’m lucky the yarn is a bit uneven to start with, so it hides a little of my inconsistency. Just the same, I’m glad the “getting used to” part is on the back where my long hair will likely cover it up.

OK, I’m off to pop into Rae’s shop for a minute and then go meet my knitting comrades at Gone Wired Cybercafe. Fun!

Tuesday Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild

Monday, February 20th, 2006

On Tuesday night (tomorrow) at 7-9pm, the local knitting guild will meet. The meeting place is the lower level of University Lutheran Church, on Harrison near Trowbridge (between the United Methodist Church and the Islamic Center). If you’ve not come before, you are welcome to join us. You don’t have to become a member to check us out.

The group is large but friendly (maybe 50 people), the snacks are tasty, the programs varied and interesting. This week we’re to bring a few sets of needles and we’ll be trying a new technique together.

If you haven’t come before, just show up, sit at a table, and let your tablemates know you are new. You’ll be welcomed immediately. Please come.

Book Signing Next Sunday

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Sally Potter of the Mid-Winter Singing Festival writes:

For fans of the Spoken Word workshops at the Singing Festival, I want to mention that workshop leaders Ruelaine Stokes and Bob Rentschler have published a poetry book with other “4 Against the Wall” artists Zachary Chartkoff and Sam Mills. The four of them will be giving a (free) book signing/reading at Schuler’s in the Eastown Mall (Lake Lansing Road and 127) next Sunday, February 26, at 2 pm. All four poets are wonderful writers and exceptional readers. It will be a rich, delightful event.

Monday Knit-In, Please Come!

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Don’t forget, knitters within driving distance of Lansing: a special Knit-In inspired by Team Michigan but open to all, will meet at Gone Wired Cybercafe’ in the East Side neighborhood on Michigan Avenue, on Monday/President’s Day, from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Please join us even if you are not “doing” the olympic knitting challenge.

Knitting Like a Champion

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Finished Socks
Well, what a great week it has been for my knitting life. I finished my 124th pair of socks last Tuesday. Then I finished my 125th pair on Sunday morning, shortie golf-type socks for mom in fingering weight, size 0 needles, top down 4-part swirl toe and afterthought heel with 3-needle bindoff. In greens and blues (celery, lime, forest, and navy), her favorite color combination (at least for her home).

Actually, I still need to work in the yarn ends on both pair but will do that on Monday. All knitting stitches are complete, though, so I call them done enough to be counted on my list.

My Olympic Status
And the top I’m knitting for Knitting Olympics? I’m actually delighted with my progress. The back is done and I just sprayed it with cold water which made it lie flat, not a full blocking but enough to tame it for seaming and hopefully a photo.

Also I’ve knit nearly 5 inches on both fronts. Soon comes the tricky part. It has increases for a sort of “lapel” that doesn’t fold, and then arm holes, and then shoulder shaping. It’s not lace knitting by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s not aran cables… but for me, I’d rather knit five pair of stranded (“fair-isle”) patterned socks than the fronts of this flat-knit, stockinette top.

I am very happy that I have the olympic challenge to push me on this project. I did, after all, buy the yarn nearly 2 years ago with a gift certificate, and I wish to honor the person who gifted this to me. I got the yarn specifically to do this particular pattern (which I am really clear I would enjoy wearing). I’m glad that I had so much time to knit during my travels this week, where knitting (and even purling) made the time go by much more happily for me than traveling without the project.

Fortunately, I’m getting more in the groove of that “purl half the rows” part… The beginning of each purl row makes me cringe less. (Yes, I’m a wimp but I do knit for joy as a rule and thus far purls don’t bring joy.)

It cracked me up the other night when we were watching a particularly exciting olympic segment on TV… I would start out purling a row which was supposed to be entirely purled. Then partway through the row I’d realize my hands had just automatically started knitting. Several times!

I think that my hands remember that I typically don’t purl unless I’m doing ribbing… and my favorite ribbing is “Knit 3 stitches, Purl 1 stitch, repeat” ad infinitum. So my hands went from purl to knit as they might in the middle of a rib repeat… and then in the excitement of watching the race they stayed at the knit stitch for sometimes most of a row before I realized what I’d done.

I crack myself up sometimes. Autopilot is different things to different folks, I’d say. For my hands, autopilot is “knit, knit, knit, knit” usually in a circle with no interruption at all.