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.

We Have a Neckband

Yesterday evening I seamed the shoulders of the denim sweater, picked up stitches, and knit a neckband.

denim102306 We Have a Neckband

(The color is a bit washed out.)

I used denim yarn I had washed and dried, so it is pre-shrunk. I briefly considered doing a ribbing or seed stitch neckband, but decided, rather, to go with one of my favorites for casual sweaters — I picked up the stitches, then knit 1 round, purled 1 round, knit 1 round, purled 1 round, then cast off knitwise. I am very pleased with the results, and it even fits easily over my head. Heh.

That reminds me of a sweater I knit in my early days of knitting. After knitting the neckband, I discovered it was too tight and I could barely squeeze my head through it to put it on. Did I rip it out and re-knit it? Nope. Every time I wore it, I had to take my earrings out because the neckband was so tight it would have ripped the earrings out of my ears as I attempted to jam my head through it.

So I am always careful to make a not-too-tight neckband these days.

I’ve mentioned that I used Sweater Wizard to figure out the calculations for this sweater. A couple of days ago, someone left a comment asking about Sweater Wizard and can you actually get a usable pattern from it. (Of course I can’t find the comment now.) But the answer is yes, you can. I find that it really helps to have a very good idea of what you want before you start tinkering with the design in Sweater Wizard. I very rarely use it to just blindly design a sweater. I do find it extremely useful to calculate a sweater and get some idea of the yardage I’m going to need for what I have in mind. It was very useful in the calculations for the denim sweater, because the gauge I plugged into Sweater Wizard is the washed and dried gauge, not the knitted gauge, and the program will tell you the number of rows you need, as well as inches. In this case, I’m knitting according to number of rows and ignoring the inches.

Lorraine asked the other day:
Here’s a question for you- how do you decide what projects you want to do- where do you find inspiration? Is it driven by what’s in your stash, or more seeing a new yarn or pattern?

Yes. icon smile We Have a Neckband All of the above.

Sometimes I have a particular yarn and get an idea of what that yarn should be. (The Kimono Jacket fits this category.) Sometimes I have an idea for a garment I want and search for the appropriate yarn. (Keelan is a good example of this.) Sometimes things happen entirely by accident!

New Sock on the Needles!

This is my new sock in progress:

sip102306 We Have a Neckband

The yarn is All Things Heather merino tencel blend in the Rosewood colorway. This is one of the wonderful new yarns that the lovely Sheri at The Loopy Ewe has gotten in recently. Go see! She has a bunch of wonderful new sock yarns from indy dyers! I may have . . . uh . . . placed more than one order with Sheri in the past week. Just sayin’. Did I mention I love Sheri? Talk about fantastic customer service! No affiliation, in case you were wondering. I know I keep yammering on about how great The Loopy Ewe is. But with good reason. icon smile We Have a Neckband

Anyhow, Sheri got in some merino/tencel blend All Things Heather yarn, so I ordered some because I was intrigued. It’s fingering weight — 8 stitches to the inch, and lovely to knit. Very soft and silky. And I love this colorway.

Speaking of Socks

I had Friday off from work and my mom came over for a toe-up sock lesson. Did my mom knit a toe-up sock toe?

toe102306 We Have a Neckband

Why, yes, she did. And against all odds. Picture, if you will, attempting to master a new knitting technique on size 1 needles with fingering weight yarn while a very furry cat is standing in your lap, head butting your hands, purring and meowing: “Pet me, Grandma! Pet me! Pet me with both hands!”

Just sayin’.

Lucy would like to thank you for the positive response to her calendar. She worked very hard on it, and she hopes lots of people will buy them so we’ll have a pile of money to donate to animal rescue!

lucy102306 We Have a Neckband

Speaking of charity, Cathy asked:
I love the calendar! Speaking of charities, are you thinking of collecting donations for more Heifer International “knitting baskets” this year?

As it happens, yes I am. I’ve got some fun ideas for a Heifer International project and it’s almost ready to go. I’ll be announcing the whole thing in a couple weeks time. Like the first Monday in November, maybe. So stay tuned!!

Behind Blue Eyes

Thank you for all the nice comments about our home movies of our Lucy. As you can see, she has a tough life . . . not!

lucy102206a Behind Blue Eyes

She didn’t always have it so soft. She was a rescue cat, abandoned at a shelter by her first owners. I was lucky enough to adopt her when she was two years old, thanks to Petfinder.com and an animal rescue organization, Capital Animal Care.

Some of you who have been listening to me yammer on for years will remember that shortly after Miss Lucy came to live with me, the possibility of a Lucy Calendar was discussed. But nothing ever came of it.

Until now.

lucycalendar Behind Blue Eyes

Lucy is proud to present the 2007 Lucy Wall Calendar, available in my Cafepress store. A different cheesecake photo of Lucy each month! Retail price is $17.99. The Cafepress base price is $14.99, so we’ll make a $3.00 profit on each calendar. That profit will be donated to animal rescue in its entirely.

We’ve also added some less expensive Lucy items to the store. What’s not to like? One-stop shopping for all your holiday gifts!

I’ll add the link to the Cafepress store to my sidebar. If there are other Lucy items you’d like me to add, please let me know!

Some Knitting Content

I’m ahead of schedule on the denim sweater, for I finished the front earlier today.

denim102206 Behind Blue Eyes

This is the front, washed and dried. Dried, but no thanks to my new dryer, which after less than 2 weeks of faithful service, died. Kaput. After I had washed the front of the sweater and needed to dry it to get it to shrink to match the back.

So the sweater front and I took a quick road trip and used the KOARC’s dryer. And I’m relieved to say that the front matches the back in length exactly, even though they were dried in two different dryers.

And for my stupid dryer I scheduled a service call. They can’t come out to fix it until October 30. Sigh. Am I pissed? Oh, yes.

Anyway.

So I’m starting a sleeve.

Lucy is relaxing by watching television.

lucy102206 Behind Blue Eyes

She’s quite a fan of Jimmy Neutron, as you can see.

Some of you noted that there was roving piled alluringly on the floor in the video I posted Friday night. Surprisingly, Lucy does not mess with my roving. She very rarely messes with my yarn, either. She is a good kitty!

Friday Night at the Movies

More genius from the camera of the KOARC. Enjoy!

Trekking Socks

The Trekking socks, they are done.

socks101906 Trekking Socks

Plain ol’ toe-up socks with a picot edge at the top. I sewed the live stitches done on the inside.

Gotta say, I’m not overly excited by the Trekking yarn. While it certainly does that cool shading thing as you knit it, I found it to be somewhat splitty and not overly soft.

But perhaps I am spoiled by all the lovely soft handpainted yarns I’ve been using lately.

One thing I did enjoy, however, was using my lovely Celtic Swan needles to knit these socks.

The Denim Sweater

I have started knitting the front of the denim sweater.

denim101906 Trekking Socks

The color is way off. Weird.

Michelle commented:
I am so in awe of the perfection of your rows & stitches. You are a craftswoman and knitting scholar. Do you realize the rest of the general knitting public does not have the ability to knit at the speed of sound?!

As much as I’d like to simply blush prettily and say “why, thank you!” honesty compels me to tell you that being washed and dried did wonders for the perfection of the rows and stitches in this piece of knitting. It looked like 17 kinds of crap before I washed it, really.

denim101906a Trekking Socks

See?

I have a hard time making nice neat rows and stitches with this string-like yarn, so I was hoping that a run through the washer and dryer would even things up — and it did.

As for the speed thing . . . well, the back took me an entire week to knit. And it’s plain stockinette, nothing complicated. Just sayin’.

My goal is to have the front completed by October 27. I hesitate actually saying that out loud because that’s the fastest way for me to jinx myself. Well, we’ll see.

How far will I be on the front by Sunday’s blog entry? Will I go completely insane from the mindless stockinette stitch? Tune in Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, Lucy will announce her charity project then. So y’all come back now. Hear?

In the meantime, Lucy checks her stash.

lucy101906 Trekking Socks

To close, some bonus photos taken of Lucy last weekend by her daddy.

lucy2006oct13 Trekking Socks

And this:

lucy2006oct13b Trekking Socks

And this:

lucy2006oct14 Trekking Socks

A Bonehead Move

Yesterday afternoon I hauled out the ball of denim yarn I had prewashed to photograph it for the blog. Because it was sitting on my prewashed swatch, I pulled that out to play with. On a whim, I took a ruler to it and measured the row gauge. Seven rows to the inch. Huh? I could have sworn my washed row gauge was 8 rows to the inch. I measured again: 7 rows. I counted over 2 inches: 14 rows. Over 3: 21 rows. And over 4: 28 rows.

I looked at the pattern. Eight rows to the inch.

*blink*

One of several things must have happened:

1. I spaced out completely and just plugged the wrong number in for the row gauge when I calculated the pattern.

2. I miscounted when I measured the gauge of the swatch the first time. (A numbers wizard I am not.)

3. The swatch stretched.

Because the swatch has been pretty much untouched since I measured it the first time, I’m guessing that what happened was either scenario 1 or 2.

So I recalculated the pattern using the new row gauge of 7 rows to the inch. No biggie, except I was already past the armhole shaping on the back.

However, I had originally decided to make the total length of the sweater 26″ and lately I had been thinking that I kinda sorta wished I had made it about 2 inches longer — more of a tunic length. Well, now it will be. i adjusted the total length in the pattern, which simply added the length below the armholes (and I already had knitted the proper number of rows for the new longer length). The armholes at the new row gauge are knit with fewer total rows, and I hadn’t gone past that point in my knitting.

So, crisis averted. But still . . . duh. What a bonehead move.

So I finished the back last night. Sorry about the photos — had to use the flash because there wasn’t enough natural light for a decent photo.

denim101806 A Bonehead Move

Unwashed, it is 33″ long. Cat included for scale.

Here it is after washing and a spin in the dryer.

denim101806a A Bonehead Move

Juast an ootch over 28″ long. Ta da!

I do so love a happy endng.

denim101806b A Bonehead Move

Thanks to all of you who weighed in on the issue of the dye running in the wash. I decided to wash the piece solo, so I just threw it in the washer with laundry detergent and let ‘er rip.

Thanks also for all the pointers for removing dye from needles. I have no problem with having these needles stained blue at the tips, as long as that blue doesn’t come off on subsequent knits. It has been mentioned once or twice that using a cleaning product on the needles will alter the finish, so I’m not sure I want to do that.

I’ll think about it later.