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Archive for October 9th, 2009

When in Doubt, Cast On

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Today I had the blues until it was past dark. Dinner really helped a lot, actually… we found some frozen chicken leftovers, put it with some extra-special chicken broth, some frozen vegetables and spiral rice pasta. Comfort food for a rainy, blah sort of day.

Turning the Mood Around: Turquoise Yarn

citykidz011106bymariam5I’ve been putzing around with the idea of knitting a replacement for my favorite sweater. It’s so worn, even the tush and shoulders (where I carry my purse) are worn out, not just elbows.

I wear it at home because it’s light and warm, and the color makes me happy. But I miss wearing it outside the house. (This is the only photo I can find of me wearing the sweater, taken back in 2006.)

I got some aqua mohair on clearance at Threadbear last year, the right color but a thicker yarn. I hoped to use that to replace the beloved sweater.

The Proper Tools

So I did a swatch and ended up with 7mm/10.75 needles to get a reasonably drapey fabric, at 11 stitches in 4 inches/10cm. Wowie, that’s seriously fat yarn!


Then I started up my wonderful computer program called KnitWare Sweaters 2.5. It lets me choose basic shapes of sweater, sleeve, and neckline. Then I measured the sweater I actually own, and was able to override the measurements the program gave me, with the measurements of my existing sweater.

The program has a feature where you actually swatch X number of yards of yarn on your needles at the gauge you intend for the sweater. It then tells you an estimate of how much yarn you will need for your design.

Whoops! I had 10 balls and needed something like 18. Next! It was clearly time for Plan B. That clearance yarn is long gone from the shop, I don’t know where else to find it, and even a search of folks’ stashes on Ravelry came up short.

This news was determined last night after midnight. I decided instead of problem-solving right then, I’d cast on something immediate and quick.

A Temporary Diversion

I started a hat I found on Ravelry. Of course, I tried to use different yarn than it had specified, and a different number of stitches.

It calls for sockyarn. I used worsted weight… Patons Classic in turquoise, and some leftover Noro Kureyon in blues/purples/greens.

For comparison, her hat has 11 “sections” in the pie, so to speak, and mine has only 6. The yarn is about twice as thick as specified, maybe more. The resulting knitted item looks warm, but not drapey.


The fabric is gorgeous, but it is not going to behave as I like my hats (yes, I’m picky). I think I’ll end up with a neck cowl… a very lovely one, but not a hat. I think it will be a success, but a different one than I intended when I started.

Back to the Sweater

Today, I went into deep stash. I knew I had what were intended as sweater-quantities of mohair in both turquoise and pink. The pink I have earmarked for a particular project. The turquoise was waiting for inspiration.

I got this yarn long ago, when I was still a computer consultant. I spent months on a particularly complex project, and bought mohair to reward myself when it was done. I’m grateful now for that stash.

This “new” yarn needed a new swatch. It’s thinner yarn, closer to the sweater I already own, and knit at 13 st/4″ (the existing sweater is 16 st/4 in.). The good news? I have 20 balls of yarn and KnitWare thinks I need maybe 12. SCORE!

So I printed out a pattern from my software. And I cast on.


The color I ended up with is very nice, but darker and bluer than I had in mind. I choose to go with what works, and what is already in this house, paid for. A turquoise sweater that fits like the one I love, in a different variation of turquoise, will work fine.

I’ve knit the ribbing of the back and a few rows of the flat stockinette. Knitting yarn this fluffy surely moves quickly! I’m so used to smaller gauges, that seeing nearly 2″ of fabric on my needle so soon is quite gratifying.

Stretching My Comfort Zone

Don’t faint, friends, but I decided to knit it in pieces and seam it. Yes, I normally knit in tubes/in the round.

However, I figure if my gauge changes as it sometimes can, I can adjust the size of the second piece (I’ve done this before, don’t laugh). That can make it still come out fine without reknitting a whole tube.

The truth is, I don’t mind sewing. The sleeves are modified drop so the sewing will be relatively simple. And I guess I’ve finally made peace with 80 purled stitches in a row. I think I couldn’t stand 200, but 80 is not making me crazy as it once would have.

Now, please excuse me while I go knit something lightweight and fuzzy. And turquoise!

An Unexpected “Weekend”

Friday, October 9th, 2009

leaf1I have been really feeling the stress of all our travel lately. I have been on the road and/or singing a gig, every weekend since August started. I’ve been celebrating half-days off to get a sense of relief.

In this business, it’s hard to teach when most of my potential students are at work 8-5, M-F. Therefore, I tend to schedule almost every night, and every Sat/Sun, to teach. I don’t work 8 hour days but I often work 7 day weeks because of this.


leaf2I love my work, but everyone needs a “jammies day” sometimes. It has been so long since I had a full day to just do whatever made sense to me (one option being nothing), that I was suffering.

Today I discovered that Friday/Saturday are now unexpected days off from teaching. My voice has been tired lately and so this is a big gift, seeing as we’re singing on Saturday night.

leaf3And now I can unpack the suitcases fully, since we have no more trips scheduled in 2009. I expect I can do some laundry and maybe make a crockpot of soup from frozen leftovers, or something. Just stay home and catch up on things that day-job people do without it being a big deal.

I told a friend this week that some of you who read this blog, have written to me saying that you think I get so much done! It looks so different from my own viewing point.

leaf5My house is in constant disarray, and I don’t feel productive at all. I work constantly but not always efficiently.

It’s true my to-do list is unrealistic, but who else will do my work? I must admit I never am bored, and that is as I wish it to be.

So today I will live in gratitude about time off. I can knit. I have several work projects to knit and a few I wish to do just for me. We’ll see what I end up knitting. I’ll definitely do some of that.

It’s raining. It’s a perfect day to stay home. I intend to drink in the luxury!


Photos: Autumn in Lansing, Michigan. Our house with the wonderful always-glorious-colored maple tree in front, and leaves I found in our yard. Today it’s raining but a day or two ago I got these photos and it was really a beautiful day.