Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Transcribing Patterns

A few days ago, I posted about my progress on my Nantucket Jacket. I mentioned that I transcribed the pattern into a spreadsheet and I am working it all in one piece so that I don't have to seam the sides. I've had a couple of questions about how exactly this works, so I will explain ...

The first thing that I do is read the pattern, and decide if I want to knit the front and back in one piece. For this project, I do. My spreadsheet will have four columns - row number, right, back, and left. The written pattern has the instructions in blocks - one block of text for each front side and the back. I just transcribe that information into the appropriate column in my spreadsheet. First, I did the column for the right front. the first line in the spreadsheet has the number of stitches to cast on for that section. The second line is Row 1 - the directions say to purl the first row, so that block just says "purl". The third line is Row 2. I have a little note in the block where I have the row number that this is a "rs" row. The fourth line is Row 3. I read the directions for Row 2, and write in what I would do if I were actually knitting. Since this pattern says to continue in pattern until you get to a decrease row, I just copy and paste the Row 2 and Row 3 directions until I get to the decrease row, in this case, Row 8. I put a notation in the block where I have the row number that this is a "dec" row, then put the instructions. I continue through the entire pattern in this manner, filling out each column in turn. I also note the number of stitches that should be on the needles for that section when I finish a section of the pattern. When I get to a part of the pattern that says "work in pattern until the piece measures 8 inches", then that row gets copied across all four columns of the spreadsheet, and I highlight it. Then the next row is the 1st row of the next section, and again, I note if it is a rs or ws row.

Some of you are probably thinking that it is a lot of work and might not be worth it. Well, it is a little bit of work, but it really forces me to read the pattern carefully - like I always tell TRHM - read ALL the words ... lol! I just find this kind of pattern easier to follow, and I have a nifty little row-by-row set of directions that I can check off as I complete the row. As a bonus, since this pattern has cables, I can just circle the row number for the rows where I cable, and now I don't have to count them! I am also not that experienced with knitting sweaters, so this helps me to have confidence that I am following the diretions correctly.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this method, or needs help doing it, just drop me a line at shieldlm AT hotmail DOT com. I'll be happy to help you!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You see funny things when driving in NJ

So I'm on my way to work this morning, and I pass a van for a one-man-does-it-all remodeling business. How do I know that it is one-man-does-it-all?? Well, because the name of his business and the phone number were spray-painted on the side of his van. Yes. I'm serious. If I had figured out how to use the new phone TRHM got me, I might have been able to whip that baby out and snap a photo. But as I was putt-putting along at 80 MPH, that just wasn't happening. I'm sure the bimbo putting on mascara in the BMW behind me wouldn't have appreciated a sudden decrease in my speed. Although it might have cranked up the entertainment value of the commute a bit.

The lettering on the van was classic - you know, that military-esque block lettering that evokes memories of carboard templates? And it was crooked. And there was overspray around the square edges of the template. So I guess the bigger question is, if you had a remodeling project, and needed some help, would you call an idiot who can't even manage a can of spray paint? Possibly not.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I've been working on my jacket. Since I was taught to knit by a brilliant woman, I reviewed the pattern and transcribed it into an Excel spreadsheet to easily knit from front edge to front edge - no side seams! :)

The pattern was super easy to learn, and I am really happy with the way it is coming out.

Later today - more fun with Kool-Aid!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A new blog feature

I added a new page to the blog - there is a link on the right for Socks. This link will take you to a page dedicated to the socks I knit. You can find photos of the socks, and information about the pattern. Give it a click, and let me know what you think!

Kool-aid Yarn Dyeing

I tried dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid for the first time this weekend. It was so Kool!! I couldn't believe how easy it was. First, I put chairs as far apart as possible, and wound skeins of white yarn into the longest loops possible. After tying the strands at strategic locations with kitchen string, I mixed up the Kool-aid in large plastic containers while the yarn soaked in warm water. I placed sections of the yarn into each container, and popped the whole thing into the microwave. I zapped for 2 minutes, waited for 5, and repeated until all of the color was absorbed by the yarn, and the water was colorless. I was surprised at how vibrant the colors were! I used 2 or 3 packets of Kool-aid per container, and the skeins of yarn were 3.5 to 4 ozs, so there was about a 3:1 ratio of Kool-aid /oz of yarn.

Once it cooled, I hung the yarn on plastic hangers in the bathroom. TRHM proclaimed "It smells like a box of Fruit Loops in here!"

After they dried, I put the giant hanks back onto the chairs, and wound into small skeins. The colors are a little blotchy, but I think it will be fine once the yarn is knitted up. These skeins are destined to be hats for teenagers in a group home in Atlantic City. I think the teens will like the funky colors.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Santa Came to Town!

This year, just after Christmas, TRHM, my Mom, and I went to Elaine and Carrie's house to see the Johnston Christmas Trees. No, that is not a typo, I did mean plural - it is an amazing display! Those Christmas shops that sell Holiday Cheer all year long don't have as much Christmas yumminess as Elaine and Carrie (and Elaine's husband and Carrie's Dad, Bob)! Well, while we were there, Elaine showed TRHM a singing Santa. She pushed the button and he started swaying his hips, and singing TRHM's favorite Christmas song - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! TRHM jumped off the sofa and started singing and dancing with Santa. In that moment, I knew that he had to have one.

What is in the box?

OH boy! I can't believe it! It is one of those Santas that Elaine has !

It really is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

Knitted Purse Swap 2!

Becky has started the Knitted Purse Swap 2! I can't wait to start. The last swap was wonderful - I made a messenger bag for Mel, and she loved it. She sent me a beautiful purse lined with ladybugs! It was so much fun, that I immediately signed up for the second swap. This one is a secret swap, so I don't know who my pal is, and my pal doesn't know it is me :)

We were asked to post the answers to some questions to help our pal out with making our purse.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I prefer natural fibers for my own knitting, but I do a lot of charity knitting with acrylic. I knit for The Preemie Project, and the skin of the babies is so delecate that even the softest wool can irritate it. I also do some charity knitting that requires that the objects are easy to care for, and are machine washable and dryable. So I use acrylic for that, as well. I am not fond of most novelty yarns, especially anything "furry".

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I store my crochet hooks, straights and most of my DPNs in a tall coffee mug on my dresser. I also have a nifty binder with clear zipper pages that I use for my circs and some of the other DPNs.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I consider myself to be an adventurous intermediate knitter. I had the bestest knitting teacher in the world, and she taught me to knit in 2004. The most important thing that she taught me was that just because the pattern says to do it that way doesn't mean that is the only way. You don't have to follow the pattern! What a concept! Amazing.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?


5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

Vanilla (yes, I know, b-o-r-i-n-g!!)

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Chocolate, dark chocolate. Is there any other kind of candy?

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I haven't tried spinning. I do lots of other needlecrafts - I quilt, sew, cross-stitch and crochet.

8. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

My favorite colors are the color of the sea - grey, blue and green, and any combination thereof. There really aren't any colors that I can't stand.

9. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

My kids are grown up, I live with my boyfriend, and he has 2 teen-aged sons that we spend time with on the weekends. They live in the same town, so sometimes we do things with them during the week, especially in the summer.

I can't even talk TRHM into a ChiaPet...

10. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

For myself - socks! I love knitting baby items for The Preemie Project.

11. What are you knitting right now?

A Nantucket Jacket from IK Winter 2006 (for me), socks (for me), a baby sweater (for TPP) and finishing a Christmas present

12. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Yes. It depends on what I am knitting. I love KP Options, and I have lots of Addi Turbos. I also have aluminum straights in just about every size. I like bamboo, especially for socks, and I have DPNs in bamboo in all sizes for that.

13. Is there anything that you collect?

Ladybugs. Especially glass ladybugs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Great idea for the Phillies

The Dodgers are trying a new angle - All You Can Eat Seats. That's right, they are converting some of the "cheap seats" into not-so-cheap seats, unless you can eat a lotta hot dogs and peanuts ...

The right field pavillion is being converted into a bleacher section with unlimited hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and soda for $35 a seat in advance, and $40 on game day. Beer, ice cream and candy are not included in the deal. The left field pavillion is still selling for $10 a seat.

Better than Dollar Dog Night? Maybe not.

Started the Nantucket Jacket

I knit my swatch, but I didn't wash/block it. My guage is a little off - I am getting 4.25 stitches/inch. This will work out fine because the largest size of the pattern is just a teeny bit too small. I frogged my swatch and cast on - then realized I should have taken a pic of the swatch ... oh well. I decided to knit the two front pieces and the back together - this way the only seaming I will have to do is the shoulder and arm. I am planning to knit the arm in the round, so that will elimate that seam, as well. I would take a progress pic, but it isn't so exciting with just 4 rows ... hopefully next week there will be enough to be camera worthy!

Another Sock Knitter!!

This year, for Christmas, I gave my daughter, Cassie, a sock kit. I bought her four balls of superwash merino in a dk weight, Crystal Palace DPN's, Knit Socks! and Sensational Knitted Socks. I went with DPNs because I really don't think socks soar on 2 circulars, and there really isn't anything magical about The Loop. And, I think that knitting with DPNs is a key skill. A week ago, I gave her a sock lesson. This was really new, because Cassie was taught to knit English, and the only cast on she has ever used is knitting on. I taught her to knit Continental, and the long-tail cast on. I also taught her to cast onto four needles, not cast onto 1 needle and shift stitches.

She practiced and practiced, and yesterday, showed me her efforts. I think it is awesome! That is her boyfriend, Joe. He is an art student at Rutger's University.
Notice that the front door is open - and yes, that is a Christmas wreath on the door. The kitchen windows were open, too. This weather is just too weird!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nantucket Jacket KAL

My yarn arrived last yesterday! I ordered KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in the Maple Syrup colorway. It is exactly what I wanted - coppery and cinnamony - yum! I can't wait to start my swatches. Jenn started her swatches already, and we will be working on the jacket together.

In addition to the yarn, I ordered some points and cable for the KP Options needles. I *heart* them! I also got color cards for some of the yarn I have considered for other projects.

Just for the record - this yarn was ordered before I even knew about Stash-Along, and before I made my commitment not to buy more yarn.

Stashing right along!

When I joined Stash-along, I started a baby sweater out of some mint green Jaime that I have in my stash. So far, I have the back finished and the left front. I cast on for the right front last night, and should have it finished by the end of this evening. This weekend, I'll do the sleeves, border bands and put it all together. Hopefully, it will be an FO by Sunday night :)

I really like the pattern - it is a Sirdar pattern that I bought on eBay last year. It has pretty lacy panels with seed stitch in between. The ruffled bottom is adorable and so easy to do!

TRHM is the best!!

Lately the weather has been really weird - last Saturday it was 70 degrees! This morning, it was 29 brrrrrrrr! On frosty mornings, TRHM warms up my car and scrapes the windows for me. He's the best!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Natural Dye Studio Sock Club

Just about every sock knitter knows about Socks That Rock, the fabulous sock club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I joined this year, and I can't wait for my first shipment!!

Well, Natural Dye Studio also has a sock club. The owner, Amanda, is a very charming English woman. I found her when I was looking for some mohair on that oh-so-famous auction site. She does lovely work!! Her yarns are the finest fibers, and they are dyed using all natural dyes - no chemicals. The colorways are stunning; I just love her yarn! In addition to the sock club, she has some wonderful blue-faced leicester, alpaca and alpaca blends. Shipping from the UK is fast, and the service is friendly - Amanda makes everything so easy! As soon as I get my first pair finished, there will be pictures!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stash busting

So I'm at Knit Chicks last week, and the uber-talented Jenn says that she is going to join the Stash-Along, and asked if I was going to do it. I said "Nah. My stash sucks. I don't have enough yarn to make anything that I want to make." She just about fell of the chair laughing, and said "Um. Yeah. Your stash has a STORAGE UNIT!! What do you mean you don't have enough yarn to make anything??" So I started thinking about it, and you know what? She's right. I have a TON of yarn, and I really need to get busy.

I signed up for Stash-Along, and started rummaging through the knitting bags I have piled in the guest room closet. I found a couple of skeins of mint green fingering weight acrylic to start a baby sweater. I'll have pictures posted by the end of the weekend.

The Stash-Along has three options, and I am combining the first and last option. I committed for 6 months, and during that time, I will not buy any yarn. The exception is the Socks That Rock Club that I signed up for last fall. There is no way I am giving up my coveted spot!! But I'm not sure that should count as my "free" day every month that I received a shipment, because I paid for my membership today, so technically, I am not "buying" yarn when I receive a shipment ... This is going to be hard, because I am going to Altanta in Feb, Jacksonville in March, and Columbus, OH and Huntsville, AL in May. You may recall that Columbus has a FABULOUS yarn shop ... I might have to use that for my free day. I am also making a list of my UFOs, and the things I want to make from the stash, and I am going to finish everything on the UFO list, and try to knock out as many "from the stash" projects as possible.

Wish me luck!!