Knitting on the Brink

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How Not To Blog January 20, 2009

Filed under: babies,hats,Knitting — reichenbachfalls @ 12:46 am

For me, knitting and writing are sometimes mutually exclusive: not enough hands.

Over the last few months, I’ve discovered that knitting and writing fiction AND blogging are a difficult juggling act indeed.

I have been knitting — almost exclusively hats, but I’m also almost done with the Hanukkah sweaters I started, at the same time, right between second midterms and exams.

First of all, I’ve been trying to find the perfect (for me) stockinette Malabrigo Chunky hat pattern. I sincerely love cabling, but sometimes that is just not where my mind is, part of the reason my Tangled Yoke Cardigan is waiting for me to knit the, ah, Tangled Yoke.

Sometimes, in fact, my mind wants a stockinette beanie that looks like a blue, slightly melted chocolate kiss:

Malabrigo Kiss
In other news, I’m particularly pleased with the Charlie Brown-esque 70s sweater I have almost finished:
Charlie Brown
I used Ann Budd’s one-pattern-fits-all child’s raglan sweater, along with a surprisingly small quantity of Brown Sheep Chunky.

This was supposed to be a less stripey sweater, but I ran out of one yarn color, which I always do, and couldn’t find the right color to match it, which always happens.

Clearly, I worked one short row too many on the back side, but I think part of the bunching in back is that the sweater’s a little too wide in the shoulders. I’m hoping blocking will somehow magically fix this. [prays to knitting goddess in her little rocking chair on Olympus]

I had no idea it was called this, but Double Knit In Join changed my attitude toward color changes. Now I stripe all the time, with something like enthusiasm. I only have about five or six ends left, and there should be approximately one million given how many stripes there are.

Now: back to writing (fiction) and knitting (another hat).


Ravelympics Wrap-Up: Bringing the Pain September 9, 2008

Filed under: Elsewhere!,Knitting,mission complida — reichenbachfalls @ 3:13 am

Cable Sweater 1

Originally uploaded by marcelory

My Knitting Olympics project is long done, but I only just now took the photo.

I knit this sweater:

— on my couch
— in the car on the way to vacation
— on the 5 South
— at rest stops
— in San Pedro
— in Orange County traffic
— until I ran out of yarn.


So I almost finished before the Olympics, but then my yarn betrayed me. Webs is a superhero though, and the yarn arrived the day after the closing ceremonies, allowing me to power through.

Some might think I did not knit the hood because I was so tired of knitting the sweater. FALSE. I decided that I never actually use the hoods that come with hoodies, so there.

Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky in Lettuce, my favorite yarn in my favorite shade
Pattern: Hooded Pullover from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008
Size: Small, but only because I am so short. It’s a pretty huge sweater.
First Mod: I continued the cabling for another repeat on the sleeves because I liked the look COUGH forgot to stop COUGH
Second Mod: Added short rows to raise the back of the neck.

Verdict: Not bad for a first adult sweater. I have learned my lesson on several fronts.

I am trying to look fierce, but apparently I look like I just accidentally kicked a puppy

I am trying to look fierce, but apparently I look like I just accidentally kicked a puppy

1) Swatch better. Lazy swatching (you know, that 1 inch by 1 inch square kind of nonsense) resulted in a huge sweater.

2) Measure my body.

3) Pay attention to how much yarn you have, especially before leaving on vacation.

4) I almost died finishing this in two weeks. But now I have a sweater for the end of Fall Semester, when the wind and rain roar over SFSU and I perish of hypothermia!

Yay me.


Buttons are our friends August 9, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,mission complida — reichenbachfalls @ 4:06 pm

Secret Projects complete. Will be mailed to target mommy today. More details once projects are opened at Baby Shower.

For those who will know: Presto Chango is freaking genius. I could make twelve of them.

Also: buttons really make a project, don’t they?

These are from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. They have over 30,000 button styles according to their website. I agree: I am certain I looked at every one before I chose these.


Everything I Know I Learned Today June 13, 2008

Filed under: hats,Knitting,mission complida,musings,pattern! — reichenbachfalls @ 11:05 pm
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Things I learned in the last 24 hours, while casting on and completing my second Fierce Baby Hat (mostly on public transportation):

1. The total number of double-pointed needles I have in a particular size is usually equal to (n-1), where n= the number of needles I actually need to complete whatever project I am looking for. This rule also applies in cases where I only need a single needle for I-Cord or cabling; (n – 1) will inevitably equal zero.

2. A different gauge makes a different sized hat. Apparently, making a Fierce Hat with Malabrigo Chunky (color: Indigo) and size 11 needles produces a fabric with a gauge of 13 stitches and 20 rows over 4″, which makes an adult-sized hat that stretches to fit a 23″ head:

big head woman

It is too big for the watermelon, but it’s easier to see the cabling here.

3. I can cable with no cable needle. For some reason I had forgotten this. It makes cabling with fat needles not horrible at all. (I can knit a hat with no cable needle. No cable needle. No cable needle.)

4. If you are boarding the train late at night, whether or not you also have a stroller with a sleeping toddler in it, three shopping bags, an exhausted eight-year old, and a diaper bag containing diapers, a half-knit hat, but no wipes, always board the front car. There is a Weird Guy on every other car. Always.

5. I changed to a circular needle after increasing. It hadn’t occurred to me until I casually did it without thinking about it. Then I used a random thing for a stitch marker because there is some other sort of mathematical rule involving stitch markers: where S equals the number of stitch markers I need, S = 0.

6. If Lime and Violet’s Daily Chum (!!) links to your first ever pattern, you may freak out for 20 minutes. My husband can fill you in on the details.

7. I like lists.

Summary: The Fierce Hat for Grownups is born!! Now I need to update the original pattern to include my new knowledge.

Notes: It takes EXACTLY one skein of Malabrigo Chunky. This is the greatest day of my life.


Fierce Baby Hat “Pattern” June 10, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,mission complida,musings,pattern! — reichenbachfalls @ 6:19 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When I first started knitting, I tried to read Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books and got frustrated. She spends more time talking about knitting than handing the reader neat little patterns, and the patterns themselves are very chatty — some might say a little pithy — and rely on the knitter’s experience to get them sorted out properly. If you are an inexperienced knitter you might find this scary or even, as I did, somewhat annoying.

Fast forward a few years of knitting, and now I’m really enjoying myself. First I read Knitter’s Almanac, now I’m in the middle of Knitting Without Tears. She’s pretty amazing, I’m glad I’ve kept going back because I think now I understand where she’s coming from.In the spirit of Mme. Zimmermann, I started knitting a hat to blow off steam during last-minute wedding preparations. Here is the pattern (!), composed at restaurants, in traffic, and in a hotel room.

The fierceness

Fierce Baby Hat

Gauge: To paraphrase Mme. Zimmermann, babies come in multiple sizes, so this is the rare event where gauge doesn’t matter much (in my opinion.) A perfect rash of babies are appearing in the rarefied circles in which I move, so I assume some baby can wear this hat.
For the record, according to my calculations, I got about 15 stitches and 20 rows over 4″ on this puppy. This makes a small, chubby hat, stretching to small baby circumference. I’m going to play with bigger gauges (Malabrigo Chunky, of course) when life quiets down.

Yarn: I bought some ShiBui Knits Highland Wool Alpaca at Knit/Purl in Portland, Oregon two weeks ago. (Did I mention I’ve been pretty busy lately? Also, they were so sweet there, it deserves a separate post.) It used, oh, 100 yards? Maybe? Color is Peacock, and it’s a brilliant blue-green that my picture does not enhance in any way.

Needles: size 10.5 DPNs and circular.

KBF: Knit into back and front (embiggens stitch).

C2RP: Slip two stitches onto cable needle, hold to front. P1, K2, K2 from cable needle. Great acronym, huh?

Cable Panel:

I decided I wanted to make a cable-knit hat. I had 66 stitches on the needles, and I liked this 6-part construction thing, so I unvented an 11-stitch cable pattern. It looks like this. I think the hidden purl stitch in the center makes it especially round and pretty, but I can be pretty stubborn about not ripping back and making 11-stitch cable patterns 10-stitch cable patterns.

Row 1: K1, P2, C2RP, P2, K1.

Rows 2-6: K1, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K1.
Wordy “Pattern”
I got the crown construction idea from Hip Knit Hats.

Cast on 12 stitches using Figure 8 Cast-On.
Put 4 stitches on each DPN.

Row 1: (KBF, K1) 6 times (18 stitches total).
Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: (KBF, K2) 6 times (24 stitches total).
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: (KBF, K3) 6 times (30 stitches total).
Row 6: Knit.
Row 7: (KBF, K4) 6 times (36 stitches total).
Row 8: Knit.
Row 9: (KBF, K5) 6 times (42 stitches total).
Row 10: Knit.
Row 11: (KBF, K6) 6 times (48 stitches total).
Row 12: Knit.
Row 13: (KBF, K7) 6 times (54 stitches total).
Row 14: Knit.
Row 15: (KBF, K8 ) 6 times (60 stitches total).
Row 16: Knit.
Row 17: (KBF, K9) 6 times (66 stitches total).
Row 18: Knit.
No more increasing!

Row 19 (cable prep): K1, P2, K2, P1, K2, P2, K1.

Row 20-26: Work cable panel.

Row 27-33: Work cable panel again.

Row 34-40: Work cable panel again!

Work k1, P1 ribbing for 1.5″ or until sick of hat. BIND OFF VERY, VERY LOOSELY in rib.

Make a fat pom-pom. Attach to hat. Weave in ends.

Find a fierce baby to wear hat.


Mazel Tov! and Pattern Info June 6, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,mission complida — reichenbachfalls @ 5:57 pm


Originally uploaded by marcelory

The chuppah is blocked. It is done. It is surprisingly large. I’m in a state of shock, actually — I’ve completed all the wedding crafts I said I would, including a gift card box for the reception and the groom’s kippah, and a load of things I didn’t expect to do, such as personalized totes for the hotel rooms and knit pasties for the bachelorette party.

And there are still 48 hours to go!

I’m sorry to those who posted questions about the pattern this month
I’ve been in Portland, OR and Las Vegas and my living room, all the time trying to finish the chuppah in time, not to mention finishing the semester and the second draft of my book in time for the summer conference, and changing the occasional diaper.

So. Pattern Information.

Pattern: Spider’s Web Shawl
Book: Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby
Yarn: Nashua Handknits Grand Opera (about 2500 yards, held double; yes, yarn cost was about $250)
Modifications: Given how large the chuppah was getting, I bound off after Chart B.

I can’t post Ms. Sowerby’s excellent pattern or distribute it without her permission without violating her copyright, of course, but it’s an excellent book with historically accurate patterns and lots of fun background information.

For those interested in knitting a large shawl as a chuppah, I would say: go for it. I really enjoyed big lace knitting. Try to choose a shawl pattern that’s naturally square or rectangular, though — the hexagon is proving tricky to hoist on four poles!


Commitment March 22, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,mission completely not accomplished,musings — reichenbachfalls @ 8:41 pm

Web of David

Originally uploaded by marcelory

I’m not great at committing when it comes to knitting. (See: my Warm Shawl.) I get all excited by the first glow of casting on, watching the pattern begin to develop, and then I see a new pattern in Interweave or on Knitty, and suddenly my project (i.e. Warm Shawl) is gathering dust and sending me accusing glances across the room while I cast on another scarf.

I’m better at the one-week-stands, the hats and scarves. But this is not a project I can abandon. Besides its staggering expense, it is the symbolic house under which my baby sister will be married. It must be finished.

I’ve been married for nearly nine years, and we’ve been together for more than a third of our lives. It’s hard work. We have two loud, bossy, happy kids, a job and numerous hobbies between us. Sometimes time flies, sometimes we’re getting through it from minute to minute. We have built something magic out of the mundane, making loads of dishes and diaper changes into a net that holds us all together, binding us through blood, vows, and love.

I want this for my sister, too. So I knit a special fabric to cover her and her husband-to-be, as they repeat the same vows we did.

I knit and knit, taking brief breaks to whip up a scarf. And the chuppah grows. I cast off with a crochet hook and some waste yarn just to see how big it was. It’s about 53″ across at the widest point without any real blocking. And all I had to do was to keep knitting.