My current work in progress:

1. Ashburn, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Woolfolk Tynd in colorways 6, 7, and 8 on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Happy Birthday, Dave

Today is my brother Dave’s birthday. Not that he reads my blog, but I’m wishing him a happy birthday anyway.

I found this photo a few days ago.

bdaycake Happy Birthday, Dave

That’s the cake I made for him for his 40th birthday, *cough-cough* years ago. Am I not a loving sister?

And while we’re on a cake roll (Get it? Heh heh. Cake roll!) here’s a photo of the cake I made for his wedding:

wedcake Happy Birthday, Dave

Busy little f-er, ain’t I?

More Q&A!

Answers to questions from yesterday’s comments:

I have not lined any of my Booga Bags.

For arans I use Addi turbos — I prefer metal needles for speed when cabling.

Have I been tempted to join the Rogue-along? Nope. Why not? I don’t like the pattern. It looks beautifully designed, but I don’t like hoodies.

Scarf

I’ve been working on the multi-directional diagonal scarf in bits and pieces this week — here it is so far:

scarf012904 Happy Birthday, Dave

Abalone

And here’s my progress on the first Abalone sleeve!

abalone012904 Happy Birthday, Dave

Have a great weekend — relax!

lucy012904 Happy Birthday, Dave

Lots of Stuff

Email and Viruses, and Worms, Oh My!

Just so you know, I have disabled all email addresses at wendyjohnson.net. I was getting many many worm emails, all coming in to fictitious addresses there. I had auto-forwarding turned on to send email through a spam filter into my real email address, but too many worms were . . . uh . . . worming their way through.

So if you want to email me, use the “contact me” link in my sidebar. Okay?

And while we’re on the subject of email . . .

I am now deleting without opening all email from people I don’t know that has no subject or the subject is something like “hi.” If you email me and I don’t know you, please put something in the subject line that has to do with why you’re emailing me.

The spam problem is getting out of hand . . .

It’s a sorry state of affairs when one has to go to such lengths.

And While We’re On the Subject of Email . . .

I’m getting more and more email from people with questions like: “I’m looking for x pattern. Can you send me a copy/tell me where to download it?” And the punchline is that 99 times out of 100 it’s a pattern I’ve never heard of or never used and definitely never mentioned in my blog.

Google, my friends. Google, google, google.

This is not directed at the majority of you. Close your eyes. Okay, to the rest of you:

People, I am not a free search and pattern retrieval service for anything and everything remotely connected with knitting. I am not the knitting oracle. My interests center around what I think is a relatively small segment of knitting as a whole — traditional fair isles, Norwegian knitting, and fisherman sweaters.

And lastly, and most importantly, I will not send you copies of copyrighted patterns. Period. End of subject.

If you have questions and/or want to discuss the type of stuff I blog about, by all means, drop me a line or leave a comment.

Thank you.

Okay, the rest of you can open your eyes now.

Q&A

I’ve had some questions about why the ThreadyBear sweater is no longer in my WIP list. It’s not there because I’m no longer knitting it. There were problems with the pattern that rendered it unknittable in its present form, so I sent the designer my critique and suggestions for change and sent back what I had completed up to that point.

Susan asked:

Is there such a thing as yarn that cannot be steeked?

Hmmmm . . . I dunno. I think you could steek just about anything, if you were going to machine stitch it and sew in a sleeve, rather than pick up stitches around the armhole. The question is . . . would you want to?

A really bulky yarn or a really slippery yarn are two examples that I would think would not be good steeky candidates. Several of you left comments about this yesterday. Anyone else got any steek stories they wanna share?

Lisa asked:

In regards to the fun fur question, I held some fun fur at the top of a booga bag and it changed the gauge enough that it made the top of the bag loose and wavy…have you not experienced that with the kitty beds? If so, how would you resolve the problem? A few decreases?

Both of the kitty beds I made felted with no problem. Anyone else have any problems? You certainly could do a few decreases around the top if your fur yarn changes the feltability of your fabric. You’d need to do a swatch to test it out — knit with just the wool for a few inches, then top it off with an inch or so of the fur yarn held with the main yarn. Then felt it and see how it turns out.

And there are even more new photos in the kitty bed gallery!

Joanne asked:

I’m starting Amphora in the blue colorway. It’s such a beautiful sweater. I’m worried that the border on the bottom would be unflattering, making the wearer look heavier, or even pregnant. Did you find this when you did yours? If so, would you do the border the same again, or would you change to ribbing?

I had no problem with the border around the bottom — it doesn’t seem to draw attention to that — ahem — larger part of my anatomy. But if you were concerned, you could certainly do a ribbed bottom and make the sweater a tad shorter (it’s sort of tunic length). If I were knitting it again, I’d do the same border as the first one.

Kathleen asked:

Sweet picture of Lucy. How many attempts to get that one?

I lucked out on that! I looked down while she was in my lap, and saw her peeking over my knitting. so I grabbed the camera and snapped her pic.

The moral of that story is: Always have your camera at your side!

Liz astutely pointed out:

I also just noticed that you switched over to those new ebony needles that arrived recently unless my eyes are deceiving me! icon smile Lots of Stuff

Yes indeed I am! And loving every minute of it!

But I’ve started an Abalone sleeve, so now I’m using a 40cm circular. Fortunately, I already had a 40cm long ebony in 3.25mm.

Speaking of Holz and Stein . . .

Susan, my ebony needle fairy godmother emailed me yesterday with this information. She phoned the woman from whom she ordered my needles to let her know a lot of people are interested in ordering.

1. The woman also received a lot of emails with questions in the last 2 days.

2. The needles are still produced and available, but the producer is very busy and can’t handle such a big interest right now, so delivery will likely take some time.

3. The shop-owner will create an english site with information about the needles and the charges (postal etc.) so it will be much easier to order.

4. She speaks good English so everybody can order by email.

What more can we ask for? Thank you Susan!

Abalone

Here she is, with all the bands completed. (Man, you had to read down far to actually get a photo today, huh?)

abalone012804 Lots of Stuff

And here, for Mary, a close-up of the neckband:

abalone012804a Lots of Stuff

I picked up the stitches for the neckband, and knitted back and forth. Then for each of the front bands I picked up stitches along the front steek, extending up and picking up stitches on the neckband edge. Each front band is knit separately.

And last night I picked up the stitches for a sleeve.

abalone012804b Lots of Stuff

Lucy shows approval of Abalone so far.

lucy012804 Lots of Stuff

A Sloppy Frozen Mess

That’s what yesterday was.

I will spare you my entire public transportation rant. If you read any news stories from Washington DC, you’ll understand. But I’ll tell you this. It was not a good feeling, being on a train, inching slowly across a bridge over the Potomac River, going 3-4 mph due to icing on the third rail, particularly when we were close to the other side, the driver announced over the intercom, with relief in his voice, “It looks like we’re going to make it!”

That is all.

(The metro-savvy and observant among you will realize I was on the Yellow Line for that trip. That was after being dumped at National Airport by a disabled Blue Line train.)

Going into work yesterday was a very bad idea, transportation-wise. But a good idea work-wise as all sorts of problems cropped up that I would not be able to deal with from home.

And then the federal government closed early, due to the ice storm and the transportation problems likely.

But I went home a very cranky girl. Seems to be my modus operandi these days.

My mood improved almost immediately when I got my mail. There was a package from Rebecca in France. Inside, beautiful stitch markers! This one:

markerb A Sloppy Frozen Mess

And two of these!!!!!

markera A Sloppy Frozen Mess

Are those the cutest little stitch markers you’ve ever seen? Thank you Rebecca!

Lucy decided to remain inscrutable in the face of all that cuteness!

lucy012704 A Sloppy Frozen Mess

Felted Kitty Beds!

I’ve added some more photos to the gallery, so be sure to check them out. Thanks to those of you who’ve sent me photos.

And a felted kitty bed question from the comments:

Does practically any fun fur type yarn work with the felted kitty bed – that is, is it a safe bet to put any fun fur yarn with the bulky yarn and felt the project? Are there fun fur yarns I should stay away from when I felt?

I think any fun fur should work. The trick is to hold it with your “regular” feltable yarn and knit them together for as many rounds as you want for the edging. The feltable yarn felts, and the fun fur goes along for the ride, as it were.

Abalone Update

I’ve completed the left front band on Abalone. See?

abalone012704 A Sloppy Frozen Mess

And started the right front band.

abalone012704a A Sloppy Frozen Mess

The neckband is knitted first. Then each front band is knitted separately. If this were corrugated ribbing, I would have steeked across the bottom and knit both bands at the same time. But it’s two-color garter stitch, so it behooves me to knit back and forth. That way, I’m knitting on each row. Cool!

Debbie asked:

Do you use machine sewing for all your steeks, or do you sometimes just cut them and tack down loose ends afterwards?

I dug through my old archives because I know I talked about this a long time ago, and here is my slightly rewritten answer:

All traditional fair isles done in jumperweight (fingering) shetland wool are steeked pretty much the same way. You put the stitch that is at the underarm on a holder and cast on 10 stitches — an edge stitch, 8 steek stitches, and another edge stitch. The edge stitches are always worked in the background color and the steek stitches themselves are done by alternating the colors used on that round of knitting.

Now . . . how you do your steeks depends a lot on what yarn you’re using. Shetland wool is fine and very hairy and stitcks to itself well, particularly when you steam it with an iron. When you cut the steek down the center and pick up stitches for the sleeve along the edge stitches, the steek obediently folds over and lies down all by itself — just like a well-trained dog. After you’ve completed the sleeve you trim the steek to a width of two stitches and lightly stitch it down. It will never unravel, even after years.

If you are using a smooth yarn (and a larger gauge) you need to do your steeks differently, because the yarn doesn’t have the right properties to make a fair isle steek work — a smooth yarn won’t stitck to itself properly. If you’re using “fatter” yarn, the steek will be too bulky, too. In this case you need to do a Norwegian style steek where you just knit the body in a tube (doing nothing different at the underarm), then use a sewing machine to machine stitch on either side of where you’re going to cut open the armhole. You would knit the sleeve separately (in the round) with a facing at the top of the sleeve and set it in the cut armhole, sewing the facing over the cut edge.

Okay, after that long-winded explanation, I’ll add that these on Abalone are traditional fair isle steeks — no machine stitching. Just cut ‘em open and pick up your stitches.

I’ll tell you a dirty secret. Sometimes I don’t even tack them down. After I’ve finished my sweater and steam it from the inside, the steek sticks to itself quite nicely and I don’t feel the need for any extra finishing. Ah, the joys of shetland wool.

Please note that I would never do this with a non-shetland wool.

Okay guys. Unscheduled leave for the federal government, but I’m going in . . . or at least attempting to, metro willing. Nothing is falling, but it is very windy so it’ll feel really cold. May the train come quickly and move swiftly!

Freezing Drizzle

Is that not an unpleasant phrase? Freezing drizzle? Yuck!

jan2604snow Freezing Drizzle

That’s the view from my window yesterday afternoon. Before the freezing drizzle that went on all night.

It’s another day of unscheduled leave for the federal government, but my street has been plowed and it looks like it’s been treated for ice, so I’m venturing out. Too much to do to stay home another day.

Oh, and we’re supposed to get more snow tonight.

Abalone

Got a bit done on Abalone — I finished the body (Sunday night, actually) and yesterday completed the neckband.

abalone012604 Freezing Drizzle

A close-up of the back neck:

abalone012604a Freezing Drizzle

Then I picked up the stitches on one of the front bands. Picky, painstaking work!

abalone012604b Freezing Drizzle

But, work beckoned — I got the files I was expecting from the office and went to work on those. Lucy helped!

lucy012604 Freezing Drizzle

In answer to a comments question, I believe sweet temperament is a Ragdoll trait. Lucy certainly has it in abundance. She’s a very cuddly kitty — loves to be held and petted. But she does have a devilish streak and is very playful too.

Needles!

Questions about my new ebony needles. Cheryl asked:

I noticed the circs are Holz and Stein. Do you find a big difference between the HS and Suzanne’s needles? I tried the Suzanne’s ebonies for the Maidenhair shawl in Classic Elite Devon (silk/wool) and I found them a pain to use. The yarn tended to catch at the joins and they were very “sticky”. I had to switch back to the Inox greys.
I’d like to give the HS a try if they are better, but don’t want to waste my $$ if there’s no difference.

I have both Holz and Stein and Suzanne ebonies, and I do prefer the Holz and Stein. The join is much better on them so they are much easier to use. I also have a Holz and Stein rosewood that is nice, but I prefer the ebony — I just like the feel of it better.

I prefer wooden needles for fair isles because of the slight stickiness of the wood, which helps you spread your stitches out evenly.

What do y’all think?

Snow and Deadline-a-Go-Go

As predicted, we’ve got snow here in the DC area. I’ll not be going anywhere.

Unfortunately I have another one of them thar work deadlines that wreaks havoc with the sanctity of knitting. I foresee working late this week with the prospect of working over the coming weekend looming like a big black cloud.

Don’t believe for a minute that federal employees don’t earn their pay.

So, much as I like a snow day to sit home and knit, I really need every day this week! However, if my boss makes it into work this morning and if our contractors deliver something they are supposed to, it’ll be emailed to me here at home, and I’ll spend the afternoon working, not knitting.

The Holy Grail!

Question: What does Wendy consider the Holy Grail of knitting needles?

Answer: A circular ebony needle, size 3.25mm (US 3), 80 cm long.

Some of you may recall that I have such a needle. And one day took it out of it’s package to use it and found a huge honking chip out of the tip.

I attempted to buy another one. I found a mailorder source (I’ve since forgotten where) that told me they had both an ebony and a rosewood in that size and length. I ordered them both, and was mighty peeved to discover that the ebony was 60 cm long, not 80. It was in a package marked 80 cm.

Imagine, gentle readers, how I felt when I came home this weekend to find a package in my mailbox that contained these:

holygrail Snow and Deadline a Go Go

Not one but two 80cm long size 3.25 mm ebony circulars, sent to me all the way from Germany, courtesy of Susan, who is in Germany.

Susan, not only have you made my day, but you’ve made my week. Heck you’ve made my month and year!

Abalone

I’m finally working on the neck steek.

abalone012504 Snow and Deadline a Go Go

So it won’t be long until the body is done. Then I’ll do the neckband and the front bands. Then the sleeves.

You can see how impressed Lucy is.

lucy012504 Snow and Deadline a Go Go