January One -- Central Park Hoodie

February 19, 2007

I believe!

In the power of the swatch.

Georgie and I had a FANTASTIC weekend. Saturday morning I woke up and started seaming the sleeves on my Central Park Hoodie. While I was out in California, Nona had suggested that I seam up the sleeves first, before I tried to set them in, because it was easier to go tube to tube than flat to tube. (I had knit the body in one piece so there were no side seams.) So I seamed up the sleeves and I was enjoying the seaming so much (I heart mattress stitch!) that for a little while I was almost sad that I did the majority of the body in the round instead of in pieces the way the pattern was written.

I seamed on the floor while Georgie was on the couch and we watched a very interesting PBS program on past presidential administrations. They had great slogans back then. Like in the 1884 Presidential Election between Grover Cleveland and James Blaine. "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" That was Blaine's slogan for Cleveland, since Cleveland had a child out of wedlock. And Cleveland countered with "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine." Good times. Anyway, I had a blast seaming up the sleeves, then managed to get them set-in on the first try! Both on the first try! Nona was right - tube to tube couldn't have been easier.

They could probably be a tad bit neater, but I'm pretty happy with them. Then G and I took a trip into the big city and I hit up Tender Buttons. I had bought some buttons a few weeks ago for the sweater, but they turned out to be too small. I spent about an hour picking out the PERFECT buttons. I wasn't entirely convinced, but another trip into the city today to go to M&J Trimmings determined that I did indeed have the perfect buttons.

They're wood, I think, with lots of great swirls and I particularly like the square in the circle idea. Once I got them on I knew they were the right choice all along.

Saturday night I washed the sweater in some delicious special edition SOAK. This is where the whole swatch thing comes into play. I inadvertently made three swatches, which was fine because I love this yarn (more on that in a minute) but the swatches DEFINITELY changed after washing. And when I say wash I mean the sweater was fully emerged in lukewarm water with SOAK and left to sit for like 15-20 minutes. Then I tried as best I could to drain the water from it, took it out of the bucket I soaked it in, and rolled it in two towels TWICE (so four towels total) to try to get as much water out of the sweater as I could. Then I laid it out on the floor as straight and flat as possible (the hood made it kind of interesting.) I didn't stretch it or pin it - just flat. And then I crossed my fingers.

Doesn't my ass look great? I showed the pictures
to G - who took them - and he was like "Yeah.
I noticed that." "So why didn't you say anything?"
"I thought you could photoshop the lines out. " If only it were that easy!

Sunday I had a job in the morning with a really great family and a super cute baby girl, visited with the in-laws a bit, and came home to obsess about my sweater and how long it was going to take to dry. G and I had a great date that night for some of the best steak I've ever eaten and then went to hear a friend play with his band. FUN! Today we did our city run, did some car stuff and house stuff, and then went out to take pictures. Here's one of the cute sexy ones G took:

And here's how I looked one frame later when the wind kicked up:

This is a great pattern - very easy - it's a really nice first sweater. The cables aren't hard at all (and if you should happen to fuck them up, I've got a nice way to fix them.) The directions are simple, easy to follow and while there are two mistakes in the published pattern, they're incredibly intuitive to fix on your own in case you miss the errata. Modifications: I did the back and the fronts together up to the arm holes, and cut out one stitch at the ends of the fronts where they met the back and one stitch at each end of the back - this way my ribbing matched up perfectly. Instead of doing the shoulders stair step, I did them using short rows and then put the fronts and back together using a modified three needle bind off. (I say this because I don't know what else to call it.) Margene taught me this: you put the stitches of the corresponding front and back on two needles and you slip one stitch from one needle over it's mate on the other needle. Do this with all the stitches. You now have one row of stitches - bind them off as you normally would. Supposedly this is a stronger bind-off than the regular three needle bind off.

I also kitchenered the hood together instead of binding off and seaming it up as the pattern called for. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Perhaps the greatest modification I made was to adjust the pattern for my row gauge. When I washed my swatches, the yarn gained about a stitch per 4 inches in stitch gauge and LOST about 4 rows in the row gauge. The pattern called for 6 rows per inch and I got 7. I changed every measurement to match up to this gauge. It was pretty long and big when I tried it on before washing it and I kind of held my breath until it was completely dry. AND IT WORKED!!! The sleeves shrunk up (even though they're still a bit long - I made them long to begin with) and the hood is DEFINITELY smaller and the yarn bloomed and it's a bit bigger around and everything that was supposed to happen happened. How's that for bossing my knitting around!?

Central Park Hoodie

Pattern: from Knitscene, Fall 2006, by Heather Lodinsky
Yarn: Beaverslide, Huckleberry Heather, 90% Wool/10% Kid Mohair. I used just under 7 skeins I think. FABULOUS YARN! Now one of my favorites. I can't wait to use it again - and I will. While I was knitting this sweater I bought enough for two more.
Needles: Addi Turbo, US size 9 (5.5 mm) and 8 (5.0 mm) and a cable needle.
Buttons: Purchased at Tender Buttons in NYC.
Pictures: By Georgie. When he complained that he couldn't feel his fingers anymore, I told him to BUCK UP! He wasn't going to make it as a Swimsuit photographer by complaining about the cold. He didn't appreciate that. Who loves you baby?

I'm loving all this sweater knitting - now I just need a new project! Thank you for visiting!

Posted by Cara at 09:39 PM | Comments (153)

February 15, 2007

Drive By....

On my way to the dentist...

-- Winner announced later today. Dudes. I fell asleep.

-- My first button band was grossly underplayed. Second one was perfect:

Now I have to decide where to put the button holes on the second band, knit it, and block the sleeves. This baby SHOULD be done over the weekend.

-- HUGENESS! Get your calendar's out: I've got a TENTATIVE DATE for Spin Out 2007: September 29, 2007. I had my heart set on a date in September (I figure there's less chance of rain) and apparently that's a real tough month for Central Park. But Cherry Hill Fountain is free, and we've got our application in, so now I just have to wait for it to be approved. Fingers crossed. Don't make any plans. We are DEFINITELY spinning in the Park this year!

Be back later. Wish me luck for no cavities!

Posted by Cara at 09:00 AM | Comments (18)

January 31, 2007

Tokhes afn tish!*

You know, theories are grand. Examples are wonderful. Practice makes perfect. But eventually you've got to shit or get off the pot. So last night, spurred on by all your accolades for my magic act, I settled down to fix the last cable on my swatch, then move onto my sweater.

Wouldn't you know it! I FUCKED UP THE SWATCH! I'm not sure what happened, but I did everything exactly like I'd done before and yet there were two pieces of yarn that crossed the bottom cable - I don't know what they were, I don't know why they were - but I cut them in an exploratory surgery kind of way and got the fix to sort of work (big holes because I ended up ripping out more than the three stitches across the top.) Great. Just great. My dress rehearsal was a frigging bust. Now what to do? Could I really perform on opening night? When you get no other chances?

Janice told me yes. CUT IT, JUST CUT IT! And to call her when it was over.

I swear to Bacchus I felt nauseous. But I kept telling myself if I messed it up it wouldn't be the end of the world. Sure I'd risk humiliation in front of all of you - you'd know me for the fraud I really am - but I could live with that. Sort of. I mean, really, I could just take the blog down and disappear. And the sweater, well, the sweater could be reknit. Which is what I thought I'd have to do from the beginning.

So I did it.

And the fucking thing actually worked. Honestly, unless I turn the sweater over and look for the tell tale ends, I don't know where I fixed it.

I believe in MAGIC!!!


And now:

On to the sleeves!

*It's National Use Your Yiddish Day! Just ask my favorite Jewish girls, Margene and Ann

Posted by Cara at 09:30 AM | Comments (115)

January 29, 2007

The First Cut Is The Deepest

I got it perfect on the first try baby! I haven't fixed the actual sweater - I want to try again on the other two cables to make sure it wasn't a fluke. Details sometime tomorrow, but rest assured - tonight I will sleep well.

Posted by Cara at 10:12 PM | Comments (47)


How was your weekend? Mine started off pretty good. I worked hard on Friday and rewarded myself Friday night by finishing up the back of my CPH. Georgie brought home some EXCELLENT take-out and I slept pretty well. The next morning I headed off to a job - where I was greeted by another sappy song on the CD player left by my fantabulous husband ("God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys) and where I successfully drove to the job by MYSELF (this is an accomplishment in my phobia ridden life.) The baby was a cutie pie, the parents were nice and I came home and knit away the afternoon, finishing up one of the fronts on the CPH. We went out that night to see some old friends and it was okay, but there was lots of cancer talk because some people only knew about the hip surgery that never happened, not the cancer stuff, so I ended up drinking more than I should have and I came home drunk and went to bed. Woke up a bit hungover - nothing really bad, just blechy, but even though I was feeling like crap I STILL WENT OUT AND RAN!! (I think we can say this is a habit now. I may actually be starting to see some body changes as well.)

The rest of the afternoon was spent nursing a killer headache (I ALWAYS get a headache before it snows. Without fail. This was not a wine headache.) and packing up socks for virgins. (US Virgins - you should get your yarn this week. NON-US Virgins - maybe next week? And all virgins have been accounted for - but I appreciate the volunteers.) Then I settled into the couch to finish up the second front of my CPH.

It was going well - I was happy with the changes I had made to the pattern: doing the fronts and backs together up to the arm holes. Switching out the bound off shoulders for short row shoulders (directions here and here.) And I was thrilled that I could incorporate these changes without a lot of muss or fuss - really feeling like I've grown as a knitter.

I cruised along - would I start the hood next, or leave it and go to the sleeves? I dreamed of wearing this on the beaches at Big Sur, the hood up, the sea whipping around me. Still LOVING the yarn. Still loving the pattern. Still loving the knitting.

Even with the headache - the night was going to end well. Knitting had saved me once again. La la la la la....

ZZZZZZIIIIIIPPPPPP! (Insert the sound of someone scratching the fucking needle across the record.) WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?

I was comparing the two fronts - making sure I had put the first cable on the holder at the right row when something looked...how shall I say it...OFF.

JUPITER'S C*NT!!!! (Been watching too much Rome. Sorry - but we only take Roman Gods' names in vain now.)

I thought I was going to throw up. Georgie immediately knew something was very wrong. Was it the violent cursing? The hurling of the sweater across the room? He says I just should've taken a picture of my face when I realized what had happened. I didn't. But let's just say I looked something like this:

What happened though, really, was that I gasped as if I were dying, let out some stuff about Janus and Mars performing unspeakable acts, and called Ann. Boar answered the phone and asked me if I was okay - I sounded depressed. I mumbled something about headaches and snow and Ann got on the phone and said what's the matter honey? And I may have started crying, or talking about Hades' asshole or something, and I'm pretty sure she didn't laugh. She told me I had three (or four - but now I can't remember the fourth) options. 1) I could rip the fucker back to it's bare freaking bones; 2) I could try to fix the cable in one of two ways; or 3) I could ignore it and keep knitting.

All my previous choices for this sweater suddenly seemed very VERY wrong. You see, the cable that's twisted wrong is way down town. WAY down town.

I thought I was so fucking smart to do the back and fronts in one piece. SO FUCKING SMART. You know what, if I had just followed the pattern and done it all in pieces the whole ripping it out and fixing would have ABSOLUTELY been the answer. I could've ripped out the front and knit it back up in a day - two days - at the most. And I swear to you that's what I would've done had I knit the thing in pieces. But I didn't knit the thing in pieces. I knit it in ONE PIECE. Ripping it means this:

Ann and I both remembered a post from Stephanie a while ago that talked about fixing a mis-twisted cable. We both headed to the computer to look. Stephanie says the proper way is to drop down and reknit the stitches - of course she's talking about six rows. And honestly? If I had miscrossed a cable six rows back that sucker would've been ripped before you could twist Minerva's tit. I have no problems ripping and reknitting to get something right. And honestly, I tried to fix a cable earlier in the sweater - isolated it and ripped it back and tried to reknit it and it looked like shit. The second option that Stephanie talks about is fudging the cable - duplicate stitching OVER it to make it seem like it's twisted in the right direction. She says to use this (and I quote)

...for miss-crosses very far down. Too far down. Too far down with other cables stacked on top of them creating complications. It's for when you have knit a whole stinking back of an aran for a 7 foot tall 500 pound man and you find a miss-crossed cable on row 9.

It is for when you know that you will not be able to live with the mistake, but you know that you can't live with ripping back either.
It is a last resort. It is voodoo.

Um. You think? Please, please! I need the voodoo that you do so well! Ann and I decided that I should at least try this before I ripped the whole thing back. So we found some websites talking about backstitch and duplicate stitch because at that point my head hurt so bad I don't think I could've knit a garter stitch scarf if I tried. In fact, I was so distraught over the whole thing I folded laundry instead of knitting. Later on, I did pick up a sock, but the yarn was so thin and the needles so small after the Beaverslide on 9s for days on end, I felt like I was all thumbs and just put it down. People. I FOLDED LAUNDRY. That should give you a clue as to how bad it is.

If you're looking for the happy ending in all of this, I haven't fixed it yet. I did try the backstitch part of the equation and it worked pretty well and then I ripped it out - but I'm going to have to practice duplicate stitch. I think in theory this should work - but if it doesn't - if I don't like how it looks - I'm going to rip it out and reknit. You may think I'm completely insane, and I don't blame you if you do, but there is NO WAY I could live with the mistake. It will absolutely RUIN the sweater for me. The fact that I KNEW I could fix it - KNEW I could just reknit the thing and make it right - well, that's all I need to know. I've been enjoying knitting the sweater - as I said before - I love the yarn and it will hold up perfectly to ripping (don't ask me how I know) so in my mind there is absolutely NO excuse for NOT reknitting. I'm going to try the fix, because as Ann tried to convince me, it will be new skills. And if it looks okay then fine. But I'll still always know it's there. Accepting that might actually be the greatest lesson learned in all of this. Wish me luck.

Margene just told me about a fourth option - cutting the three stitches that go over the wrong way and bringing the back stitches to the front. Then knitting a couple of rows and kitchenering the cut stitches in the back. I'm going to swatch and try this. Hopefully I'll have something to show you soon. I'm taking my time with this though - so don't hold your breath.

ETA2: LOOK WHAT I FOUND! Via Yarnival, via Jenn.

Posted by Cara at 10:41 AM | Comments (94)

January 26, 2007

Soft Rock

I worked my ass off today - processed more than 1/2 a job. That's damn good. And made some decisions about my business. But mostly I worked. I work from home when I'm not out on a job and there are LOTS of distractions. But one thing I always do is keep the TV off in the mornings until 1 PM when Days of Our Lives comes on. Cool fact: I have cable TV on my computer. Georgie bought this thing - don't ask me what it is - but it splits the cable coming into our cable modem and we have TV on the computer. Regular TV. So I can process pictures and have the soaps on in the background. I turned the TV off though around 2:30 and didn't turn it back on until closer to 5 and then I started flipping around the channels. I hit on a GOLDMINE and almost bought this: The Time Life Collection of Classic Soft Rock! OH MY GOD the memories! I'm old enough that I remember listening to Wizard 100 in Philly - THE AM station when FM was like all alternative and no one I knew listened to it. I go crazy, when I look in your eyes I still go crazy.... Georgie always makes fun of me that I LOVE those '70s Soft Rock Ballads. I wanna kiss you all over and over again.... I swear the commercial was on for like 20 minutes. I was thisclose to buying the whole damn thing. But luckily, after I sang her like 100 of the 168 songs in the 10 cd set, Ann talked me down and I didn't buy it. Fool if you think it's over 'Cos you said goodbye.... [PS - If you're like Georgie and can't stand the soft rock, check out Vicki's post today - and you can wash this post right out of your hair!]

Speaking of TV - can I tell you something completely AWFUL I keep seeing and throwing up a little bit in my mouth every time? A couple of weeks ago I was talking about favorite childhood books and one of the ones I had almost forgotten about was Bridge To Terabithia by Katharine Patterson. I LOVED this book. Read it many times. And while I don't remember my siblings reading other books, this one I KNOW we all read. In fact, my brother was known to disappear some afternoons and when my mother would ask where he went, he would tell her Terabithia. This book is ALL about imagination. That's why every time I see a commercial for the movie they've made of it, I cringe and close my eyes and cover my ears. It's so horribly awful, I can't bear it. Please please please! If you love your children, DON'T SEE THIS MOVIE! I know that sounds kind of harsh - maybe it's the best movie ever made (but I doubt it given the animated monsters in the previews.) Instead, PLEASE READ THE BOOK. Thank you very much. By the way, I've started The Westing Game again and I LOVE IT all over again. Rant over.

I decided what to do with CPH:

I'm doing the back and fronts separately. I'm planning on trying to do short row shoulders instead of the bind off called for by the pattern. Also, I'm thinking that once I'm done the fronts and back I'm going to seam the shoulders and do the hood and button bands before the sleeves. This way, if I don't finish it before I go away I can knit the sleeves on the plane. This is the plan. Although you know what they say about plans.

I'm just about done working for the day and then I'm taking to bed to watch my tivo'd General Hospitals and Another Worlds and knit my cozy hoodie. Have a great weekend!

Posted by Cara at 06:44 PM | Comments (52)

January 25, 2007

Blue Morning, Blue Day

Georgie woke up singing this song this morning. We've been on a Foreigner kick lately. We had been talking about them for awhile - did we have their greatest hits? Why didn't we have their greatest hits? And then one day last week or so I got in the car and noticed that the little snowflake was on next to the temperature gauge and all of a sudden "Cold As Ice" came on the radio! I thought what a funny coincidence! We were just talking about Foreigner and now it's cold and here's the song! DUH. Silly me! Georgie had bought the CD and set up the radio so when I turned the car on it would fill with those beginning piano chords. He's so goofy!

Today didn't start out so good. I was feeling physcially better, but kind of anxious. Can I confess something? December was beyond awful. I spent every day terrified about Georgie's illness and anxiety doesn't even begin to slice it. But, and this is a really big but, it was also something of a relief to have something REAL to be anxious about. And it wasn't about me. A lot of the time I spend in my head making up stuff to be freaked out about and feel out of control about and when there is something tangible to ACTUALLY FREAK OUT about with GOOD REASON, well, in all honesty, that's kind of a relief for me. Does that make sense? Because I'd rather panic every day for the rest of my life than have Georgie be sick. I hope I'm making sense.

Anyway. I was feeling kind of bad this morning. Anxiety bad. And still a little physcially bad but mostly anxiety bad so I finished up some work then I decided to run again. Tomorrow is supposed to be BRUTALLY cold around here (maybe not as cold at Zeneedle Land, but still, high of 16, windchills in the negative numbers - that's pretty freaking cold) so I thought if I want to run again this week I better do it today. So I did. And I felt SO much better after. I came in the house and wrote my run down on the calendar and realized that I have run three days a week since the first week of January. Four weeks down! YAY!

I also got a great email from a very happy client. Also YAY!

And early this morning I split up the fronts and back on CPH:

Still loving the project - mainly because I'm loving the Beaverslide! (Worsted Weight, Huckleberry Heather.) I'm thinking I might still knit the fronts and back at the same time. I'll have to keep track of some things a bit more, but it might be nice to turn those cables all at the same time. We'll see. We're going away week after next (Palo Alto peeps! I'm coming out there!) and G keeps saying it's going to be cold and I'd love to have the sweater done by then, but I don't think that's going to happen. I can be fast, but not that fast. Maybe I'll finish it out there. I haven't tackled the math yet, but I think I've got a handle on what needs to be done. Thanks for all the offers of help. And for all the cheering up. I really appreciate it. This day is definitely looking better.

Posted by Cara at 01:46 PM | Comments (44)

January 18, 2007


Rissie Zeenberg, my maternal grandmother, taught me to knit one fine rainy afternoon. I'm going to guess it was the fall of 2002, although I'm not a hundred percent sure. She gave me some pink plastic needles and some Day-Glo Orange Red Heart and set me on my way. My grandmother is definitely more of a seamstress than a knitter, although she's knit lots of great stuff, and she's always amazed at what I can do with two needles, some yarn and one very quick lesson. I guess it was the right place at the right time because I'm not the only grandchild to ask her to teach them how to knit, but I'm definitely the only one that's really stuck with it (read: become obsessed.) What she says, though, is that I remind her of my other grandmother, my paternal grandmother, Harriet Davis. My nana stopped knitting after suffering an aneurysm and a massive stroke when I was nine. She was the real knitter in the family, as my grandmom likes to say, churning out Arans of every size for the whole family. I remember those sweaters very well - but I have no idea what happened to them. The really sad part is that I have no memory of my nana knitting. As I said, she had the stroke when I was nine, and while she recovered enough to live on her own for another ten years, she was never the same afterward. She had to relearn to walk and talk and her left side was always very weak. Sometimes, though, when I knit night after night, I like to think that I'm like her, this grandmother I barely knew - I've got her knitting gene. And that makes me so very happy.

Rosie's Yarn Cellar, one of my favorite Philly knitting shops, has decided on a new book policy for the store (via Go Knit In Your Hat.) They've decided that they've had it with books insulting their grandmothers. You know the ones - they claim a million hip trendy knits - the "not your grandmother's knitting" knits. On the store's blog, they talk about beginning knitting books that dumb everything down, with lots of big needles and lots of scarves. And how, at their store, they challenge their beginning knitters with fair isle and dpns. I've knit exactly ONE scarf in my life, and I hated just about every minute of it. I've knit three hats - okay four - if you count the fun fur extravaganza. I don't wear hats and I don't wear scarves and I pretty much knit for myself so that's that. My first real project, after a million and half swatches, was a 5'x6' four color slip stitch blanket that I knit with acrylic. It was also my foray into circular needles (for knitting flat.) We use it all the time. The only lesson I had had was my grandmother teaching me to knit and purl. That's it. Whenever people email me with questions - they can't do this, it's too hard - what's too hard? Everything is either knitting or purling with some variety thrown in! That's it! And the best part about knitting is if you try it and it doesn't work, you can rip and try again. And again and again and again. Eventually you'll figure it out.

Anyway, back to the books and grandmothers. For the most part I agree with Rosie's policy. Part of the problem is that I don't think there's enough variety out there in knitting books. It all sort of seems the same to me. That's what I thought was so fantastic about Mason Dixon Knitting - if you were something of a beginner - there were plenty of projects to knit and feel comfortable with. If you were a more advanced knitter, it was the perfect jumping off point for boundless creativity. (Visions of log cabins are ALWAYS dancing in my head....) And the best part of the book was WHATEVER your skill level, it NEVER SPOKE DOWN to you! Never assumed you couldn't knit anything you put your mind to. Maybe that's the problem with all these "not your grandmother's knitting" books. It's not that their' knitting scarves on big needles, it's that they're actually assuming that my grandmother's knitting was too complicated and intricate and time-consuming for my whirlwind fantastic super fast super terrific life. Why would I want to slow things down, with small(er) needles and charts and new skills? We are, after all, an instant gratification society. I also think that books like these - Knit it fast! Knit it fun! - and their publishers buy into the whole "knitting as trend" philosophy rather than the knitting as art or knitting as craft (or knitting is FOREVER) attitude. Popular or not popular, I have no plans to stop knitting anytime soon. Just some thoughts. Talk amongst yourselves.

Speaking of knitting, things are finally going well with my Central Park Hoodie. I'm a couple rows away from my fourth cable turn and all is well. I'm loving the yarn. The pattern is easy. I'm doing the back and fronts all in one piece up the armholes, and once I figured out how to read a chart, it was smooth sailing. I basically have taken out one stitch at each back end and one stitch at each front end (where the fronts meet the back) so that the ribbing all matched out. These are the stitches that would've been used for seaming - and since I won't have any seams in the body - I won't need them. I'm planning on doing the sleeves at the same time as well.

The yarn, as you know, is Beaverslide's 90% Merino/10% Kid Mohair in the Huckleberry Heather color. I'm really enjoying knitting with it - even with the 10% Mohair. I don't notice it all and the yarn is soft enough and it's about as hairy as the Cascade 220 Heather I used for Ariann. So no problems. I will mention that every now and again I come across a knot in one of the plys of this two-ply yarn. It's not that big of a deal - I just snip the knot out and spit splice it all back together. No biggie. It might bother some people though, so I thought I should mention. Other than that, I'm enjoying the yarn so much I bought enough for two more sweaters! Excellent value too. Each skein holds at least 200 yds.

I'm having fun with the cables - it seems like a long time since I've done cables. And, yes, I use a cable needle. I LIKE my cable needle. I can see if you were doing a really complicated piece where you had to cable every five seconds you might want to master cabling without the needle, and maybe I will someday coughAmKamincough, but for now I like my needle. I also came up with a handy dandy method of keeping track of my rows. I don't like all those row counter thingamabobs and I like my stitch markers very plain, so every row that I turn the cable I loop a long piece of thread through the first stitch and that's how I keep count. Want to see?

I like it nice and long because that way it doesn't fall out. Not brain science in the least, but it works for me and since you all seem to like the tips and things.... Thanks for all the nice comments about my brief tutorial yesterday. You're very kind, but don't expect to see that kind of stuff around here very often. I'll leave the lessons to the experts. I'm just fuddling along like everyone else!

One last thing - I'm THRILLED to tell you all that G-ROCKS and January One are now for sale over at Blue Moon. Their website's working just fine and you can all go buy buy buy! THANK YOU!

Posted by Cara at 04:23 PM | Comments (64)

January 16, 2007

Mistake Rib

No, no - not a fancy new pattern to make a scarf out of - an actual MISTAKE with the ribbing in my Central Park Hoodie. I should just start calling this sweater Mistake Park since I already messed up the swatches. Not a good sign when you're starting out.

I was so happy to show you how I'd done all the ribbing on my hoodie - the one wear I put together the fronts and the back so I could do it all in one piece up to the armholes. I was so happy to be done with the ribbing because I hate ribbing - that back and forth and back and forth. I love to purl - but only when it's in one long stretch. Hate the back and forth.

And I DID finish the ribbing - all 28 rows of it! (Because when you get a swatch to work and you need four inches of ribbing you know EXACTLY how many rows to knit - isn't that cool?) I was all set to start my cable charts when I realized that I had done something very very wrong. Apparently, I can't read a pattern. When I was trying to figure out how to put the whole thing together somehow I neglected to read consult the charts and ended up starting my fronts with knit stitches. As the lovely Margaux confirmed, I needed purl stitches. Yup. I'm an idiot. (And it makes total sense now because I couldn't understand how the pattern wanted you to seam this baby up without giving you any stitches for seam allowance. Turns out it does. Duh.)

So I ripped the freaking thing and started all over. Which I hope is good news for you because I'm going to do a little tutorial about how I cast on for ribbing. Bear with me because I'm not the tutorial type - go see Eunny for that because she ROCKS the tutorial. Or Grumperina. Anybody but me. I get all frustrated and just want to grab the knitting out of your hand and do it myself. So much easier. But Ann asked about my ribbing cast on technique the other day and seemed excited when I said I might write this up and my entire goal in life these days is to excite My Ann.

Okay. This tutorial presupposes that you know how to do a long-tail cast on. Which I shouldn't really suppose because for years I did a knitted cast on for everything and had no idea there were a million other ways to do it. Then I took a class with the knit god Shirley Paden called 101 Ways to Cast On (not really, it was more like fourteen) and she taught me this trick. If you don't know the Long-Tail Cast On, there are like 4,561,923 sites out there to show you. Or you could look here (first cast on mentioned.)

When I cast on for ribbing (2x2, 1x1) or any stitch that alternates knit and purl, I use two variations on the long tail cast on to create a first row of knit purl stitches (or whatever combination I need for my pattern.) For the Central Park Hoodie, I'm using a 2x2 cast on. Those of you familiar with the long tail cast on will recognize this next picture:

Click for bigger.

This is ostensibly the KNIT STITCH CAST ON. It's also the regular long tail cast on which I use for pretty much everything unless the pattern specifies something else. Or I'm doing ribbing. What happens, though, when you turn the work around to start knitting, is that it can give you a PURL STITCH. This cast on has you sweep under the loop around your thumb first. Again, I refer you to the video in the link above.

Now, there's another way to do this. It has you sweep under the loop around your FOREFINGER. See picture below:

Click for bigger.

This is called a PURL CAST ON which will give you a KNIT STITCH. I don't have pictures to show you how to do this and I tried to explain it to Ann last night, who did get it, I think (we were on the phone) and I couldn't explain to you how to do it if I tried - but here are a few links that might help.

Here's where things might get a bit confusing - although it might just be that I'm confusing - but I have a picture to illustrate.

Click for bigger.

When you use the regular long-tail cast on, it gives you a stitch that it is very similar to a knit stitch - so that when you start your knitting, and say, you are doing stockinette stitch, you'd want to begin with a PURL row. This means that your cast on can act as the first row. I, personally, hate having to keep track of things like that and I want to start my first row on the RIGHT SIDE, so when I'm doing ribbing, if the pattern calls for k2 p2, I will cast on PURL WISE PURLWISE KNIT WISE KNIT WISE so that when I turn my knitting around I can just start with my k2 p2 and it will look perfect. See that picture above? (Click on it and it will open in a new window so you can read and look at the same time.) These are stitches JUST CAST ON - they've never been knit. See how the PURL CAST ON/KNIT STITCHES look like they have a purl bump? They do! So when I start knitting on the other side they will be KNIT STITCHES! How cool is that?

Here is a picture of ribbing from a sock I just finished:

Click for bigger.

In this picture, I tried to illustrate how the ribbing will look once it's been knit for a bit - see how there knit stitches start out with a little bump but then flow into Vs? And see how the purl stitches ALWAYS look like purl stitches, from the second you cast on? Isn't that nice? All neat and pretty?

I love to use this for seed stitch borders - the back and forth, knit and purl of the cast on adds a whole new row to the piece.

To reiterate, I cast on my sweater with a p2, k2 cast on so that when I started knitting I could do a k2, p2 rib. I hope this makes some sense to you. As I said, I'm not so good with the tutorials and stuff, but I thought I'd pass along my time tested technique. And a huge thank you to my darling husband who took the pictures of my hands - it must be really really really hard to take pictures for a photographer. I'm sorry I yelled at you. ;-)

Maybe, bar any other mistakes, I'll be able to show you finished ribbing on my CPH. Don't hold your breath though!

Posted by Cara at 10:02 AM | Comments (58)

January 09, 2007

A Tale of Two Swatches

My whole blogging schedule is so off it's ridiculous. Usually I blog pretty early in the morning - depending on how big the post is and if I need to wait for some light to hit the apartment for pictures - and then it's done and I do whatever else I'm doing for the day. But I'm in the middle of a big work project with an ever impending deadline and I'm trying to work in the morning BEFORE I blog. Today I worked in the morning (lots of tedious reading) and then I ran (WHOO HOO! I'm still intending my intentions) and then stuff happened and then I worked some more and NOW I'm blogging. I have so much to talk about and like no time at all. I'm not sure if there will be a post at all tomorrow - I'm lunching with the ladies in the big city and then, if I can stand it, I've got to squeeze in some work. I will try my best for Thursday.

Okay - on with things.

DUDES. Everyone and their 8 yr old brother knows: YOU SMELT IT, YOU DEALT IT. All I have to say is that I was out and about in my lovely little swampland town yesterday and I didn't smell a freaking thing. (Besides, when we do smell stuff, we usually blame it on Lyndhurst.) Ahem.

So I've been swatching. Lots and lots of swatching. And I love my Beaverslide yarn so much after all this swatching I bought two more sweaters worth. No kidding. I am LOVING this yarn. Did you all get your colorcards? DO IT. Now. Anyway, I started swatching on Friday on US 8 needles, which is what the Central Park Hoodie calls for - by the way, there's a KAL if anyone's interested in joining. I made a beautiful swatch and measured it carefully, then SOAKed it, and laid it out to dry. This yarn is really really interesting. If you're going to knit with it, make sure you swatch and wash your swatch the way you intend to wash your knitted item. First off, it blooms really nicely. My unblocked swatch was 19.5 stitches per 4" and after drying it was 18 stitches to the 4". BUT, it shrinks up in row gauge! My unblocked swatch was 26 rows per 4" and that squished down to 29 rows per 4". Huh. Interesting right? The pattern calls for 17 stitches and 24 rows per 4", so I thought, let me swatch on 9s, see what I get. I got my US9 Addis out of their package sleeve in my needle drawer and swatched again. For my swatches, I cast on 36 stitches, knit four rows of garter stitch, switch to stockinette with 3 stitch garter borders until it seems about square then finish off with four rows garter. I don't pin out my swatches when they're blocking, just let them dry.

I enjoyed swatching with the 9s just as much as I liked the 8s and I'm thoroughly LOVING the yarn. I cast off and started measuring out the swatch. WHAT? It's almost EXACTLY the same as the gauge on the 8s and worse yet - the row gauge is even SHORTER. This time I measured the dimensions of the swatch before I washed it. 71/4" x 71/4". After blocking the dimensions became 71/2" x 63/4". Shrinkage. I was totally perplexed by this yarn and actually called Margene to ask her about it - since she's the one that turned me onto the yarn in the first place. She said she knew about the blooming, but not the shrinkage. (I love that this yarn expands and contracts at the same time!)

Here's where the story becomes either extremely funny, or awfully embarrassing. Depends on if you're Ann or Me. The next night, Sunday night, I went back to the needle drawer and took out my OTHER size 9 needle. I had a quick project I wanted to knit up (I'll talk about it later this week) and I needed two circulars for it. I went back to the couch, where I knit the swatch the night before, and looked for my other size 9 needle. I couldn't find it anywhere. I found a few needles that seemed like they could be 9s, but I check with my needle gauge and they're 8s. Where the hell is the other 9?!? I ripped the couch apart. Blamed G (who threw up his hands and said he knew better than to EVER touch my knitting stuff) and got thisclose to throwing stuff because I couldn't find this freaking needle.

THEN I figured it out. You know where I'm going don't you? A few months (weeks? who knows the last time I tried to clean my disgusting house) ago I put away all my needles laying around. At Rhinebeck, I had picked up a handy new needle gauge to go along with the other two I have. The new one was special though!

It was made SPECIFICALLY by Skacel - the people who make Addi needles and since I pretty much knit exclusively with Addis - I figured it would be THE needle gauge to have. (It's the one on the top right in the picture.) One problem - this needle gauge STICKS even when the needle is the RIGHT size. I figured out that all those weeks? months? ago when I was trying to put my needles away I must have mistaken an 8 for a 9 because I had a bit of trouble getting it through the 8 hole. Which makes perfect sense because I was short a size 9 Addi package and I keep all my packages.

Am I making ANY SENSE? I'll spell it out for you. I KNIT TWO SWATCHES ON THE SAME DAMN NEEDLE SIZE! Laugh your asses off. I deserve it.

We won't talk about the fact that I have no less than 5 size 8 circulars because the real problem is that I only have ONE size 9 circular. I couldn't do my little project. But I could swatch again.

The good news out of all of this? Besides the irony of the fact that I never swatch and now I've made three - swatch #3 on size 9 needles got me stitch gauge. Which is much more important to me than row gauge because I can crunch the numbers pretty easily for that. Also, I can probably block out at least one more row. I think I still ended up with 29 rows per 4". I have to count again. Furthermore, look how pretty the swatches are:

The fact that I can't wait to cast on for the actual sweater after three swatches is a testament to this yarn. I'm planning on doing the back and fronts together, so I have to read over the pattern a bit before I actually do cast on, but look for it soon.

(See! I managed to write an entry that lives up to it's title - long and boring. Just like Dickens. Although it'd be nice to get paid by the post. )

Posted by Cara at 07:43 PM | Comments (39)

January 05, 2007


I'm all over the place today, so let's go random.

-- Yesterday, while working on the sofa (seriously - I was really working!) I went to put one of my feet up on the ledge and notice what I thought was a pill on the back of my sock. I wish.

You know how sometimes you think things and then you write them down or say them out loud and you wonder if you just tempted the fates and brought on EXACTLY what you didn't want? Well, that's how I felt yesterday when I noticed the hole. The first hole I've ever found in one of my handknits. The first hole in one of my precious socks. The first hole in one of my jaywalkers. The first hole in my beautiful Socks That Rock.

I was devastated. I may have cried a little bit. For a good five minutes I wondered why we ever knit at all - especially socks - if they're only going to get holes in them. Seriously. I was ready to quit on the spot. But then I looked at the hole - which, by the way, is on the LEG of the sock in a place that has never rubbed against any shoe - and I realized that it is only one stitch. It must have gotten caught on something and snapped. I have no idea. And I do think it is completely fixable. I mean, it is only ONE STITCH. I have looked at some options - namely at Grumperina's recent post and the Knitty article she linked to and I will fix it, but for now, I'm not in the mood to be reminded that things don't last forever. Hits a little too close to home. So I picked up the socks I've been knitting - the G-Rocks and January One socks and I got back on the horse. Hopefully I'll have a perfectly mismatched finished pairs of socks to show you Monday.

-- Reason No. 4,391,628 why I love The INTERNETTTTT. (See? No S!) The vast majority of blogs I read are knitting blogs - but I don't just love them for the knitting. Lately I've been running down memory lane because of a couple of blog posts. First, Jane mentioned When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit in a post. This was one of my absolute FAVORITE books as a girl. I thought I had my dog-eared copy - the one with the gray cover and ink line drawing on the cover, but I couldn't find it. So I went out and bought it and read it and loved it all over again. I was a little bit afraid that it wouldn't hold up to my memories, but it did. And honestly, because of a part in that book, I can't be sick without thinking of it. And then, just yesterday, one of the Two Black Sheep sisters (fess up! Which one of you was it?) mentioned my OTHER MOST FAVORITE book: The Westing Game. I've read this book more times than I can count. And as soon as I'm done the book I'm reading now, you can bet I'll read it again. What I love about these posts is that these are books that are mine - that I never really talk about or ever really talked about growing up - I don't remember my siblings ever reading either of these books or friends or anyone for that matter. Yet here are two people, who are really strangers to me, sharing something about them that is just like me. Thank you for that. It's really a nice feeling.

So I'm going to throw out another title - a book that came along way before that Harry guy - Half Magic, by Edward Eager. I loved this book and I hope it sparks in someone else the same feelings the other bloggers sparked in me. Happy reading!

-- I'm not sure how many ways I can say this, but I found someone else using a photograph of mine without my permission. In theory, I didn't object to the way the photo was being used, and there was a link back to my site and credit for the picture, but YOU HAVE TO ASK ME FIRST! I'm not sure how much clearer I can be. I OWN the picture, I OWN the words. THEY ARE MINE. ASK ME FIRST. I hope this is the last to be said on this matter. (And, again, it's not you. Unless you and I exchanged emails about this - where I was very friendly, I thought, and told you you could use the picture, just ask next time - then it's NOT YOU.)

-- I've been really missing my spinning lately. I waited forever for my WooLee Winder (over six weeks!) and then I got it and it was a disaster. I've been seeing all this great yarn being spun all over the place and it makes me sad because I've still got my wheel in time out. It's not the wheel's fault and after reading Judy's post today, I'm going to spin on Sunday. Distaff Day. It's as good a day as any and if the WW doesn't work out - I'm taking that sucker off and I'm spinning without it.

-- There will also be some swatching this weekend. Look what came in the mail today:

Margene has been singing the praises of Beaverslide Yarn (grow up Annie!) for forever. The Friday night before my birthday, after serious consultation with Margene, I placed my first order. Huckleberry Heather is the color and I love it. Get yourself some color cards. Totally worth it.

This yarn is a departure for me, what with it's 10% Kid Mohair. I've gone on the record many times about how much I HATE mohair, angora, alpaca - any of those hairy yarns. But Margene assured me that I wouldn't even know it's there and then she sent me a snippet that I stuffed in my bra and wore around for the day and I barely noticed it at all - and when I did it was to remark at it's softeness. I can't wait to knit it up. What's it going to be? A Central Park Hoodie. Because all the cool kids are making them.

The coolest part of my package from Beaverslide - the stamps!

This is so totally going to be a superhero sweater! Have a great weekend!
L, C

Posted by Cara at 03:29 PM | Comments (77)