My current work in progress:

Freshet, by Irina Anikeeva for Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 13, knit from Rowan Softyak DK in the Steppe colorway, using 3.75mm and 4mm needles.

Archives for January 2007

Black Hole of Knitting

Tammy commented:
How do you maintain such firm commitment to one project at a time? Bohus is gorgeous but I could never do all that black stockinette without sticking it away somewhere out of sight at least on occasion!

I confess that I feel like I am knitting a black hole. No matter how much I knit the black stockinette (Hey, did I mention it was on a 2.5mm needle? Oh, I did? Okay, carry on.), it just doesn’t seem to grow. This is quite a mystery to me.

I suppose it might have something to do with the fact that every time I sit down with my Black Hole of Knitting, I find an excuse to jump up and do something within 5 minutes. Gotta load the dishwasher. Gotta empty the wastebaskets. Gotta unload the dishwasher. Gotta brush Lucy (again).

Gee, do you suppose this is why I am making such slow progress?

But I do stick to it. I will not allow myself to start another project until the Bohus is done (well, apart from socks for commuter knitting). If I were to start something new, all would be lost. And besides, I really want this sweater, so I am motivated to complete it.

Here is a photo of black stockinette. But, ooh! Look! A penguin!


Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, to further distract you from the fact that all I have is another photo of black stockinette stitch, here is a picture of something I got for Christmas:


It’s a cauliflower sheep. With a mushroom face. (No, not real cauliflower & mushroom — it’s ceramic.)

(And no, I don’t know where it was purchased.)

Lucy thinks it is just plain silly.


She would like you to know that she posed for this photo under my Ott Light so you could see her true colors.

Chatty Socks

From the somewhat odd title to this blog post, you might think that I have finally flipped my noodle and I think my socks are talking to me. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

The title is referring to a new version of my generic toe-up sock pattern that I put up on my site today. It’s the same pattern, but it goes into much more detail about short rows and picking up wraps. It is in pdf format and can be found here. It is also linked to from my knitting gallery page — the link to the knitting gallery remains in the sidebar on my main blog page.

Suzanne asked:
I had a couple of questions for you about socks…since you have made and worn so many. Do you notice a lot of pilling or almost felting at the heel? I wore a pair for the first time the other day and now the heel looks all wispy and I’m not sure if it’s technique or what. There’s pictures on my blog (the Jan. 7 entry). Also, how do you care for your socks?

First question first:

Pilling or felting at the heels? It depends on the sock yarn used and on the shoes I’m wearing. Soft 100% wool sock yarn of course is not as hard-wearing as 100% wool sock yarn with a tight twist or wool/nylon blend sock yarn. And I’ve got one pair of shoes that rub more at the heel than others.

Second question:

How do I care for my socks? Once again, it depends on the sock yarn. They all go into the washing machine on a gentle cold water cycle in a nylon mesh bag. The sturdier ones go in the dryer, and the more delicate ones are laid out flat to dry.

Although I will put the sturdier hand knit socks in the dryer, I am always careful to take them out when they are barely dry. Sometimes if I catch them in time, I take them out when they are still damp and lay them flat to finish drying.

Y’all Are So Swift

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about their swifts and experiences with them. Thanks to everyone who weighed in.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some black stockinette to knit.


But I’ve started hallucinating about pale pink Rowan Kidsilk Haze. See — I keep imagining that Lucy is taunting me with it.


Perhaps I am a tad . . . um . . . off, after all.

Lucy sez:


“Wake me when she starts making sense.”

It Was the Best of Swifts, It Was the Worst of Swifts

Does anyone else have a love-hate relationship with his/her swift?

This is my first swift:


I’ve had this swift for more years than I can remember and it has served me more or less well for all those many years. My main complaint is that yarn can get tangled in the little metal doo-hickeys on it.


And it’s sorta ugly too — blue plastic and metal. Eh.

A couple of years ago I bought this:


Much prettier, isn’t it? Too bad that it sucks at its job.

My problem with the wooden swift is that the damned thing will not turn easily. I’ve turned it for many many rotations without yarn on it in case it was a “running in” problem. I’ve waxed it. I’ve threatened it. The cursed thing just doesn’t want to turn. And the “umbrella” part of it has a tendency to collapse at inopportune moments, no matter how much I tighten the damned screw.

It’s been so useless that I went back to using the plastic/metal monstrosity. Until now.

Here’s my new swift:


This is a Beka swift, and it arrived last Friday. I purchased mine from The Woolery because I’ve always had excellent service from them. The swift is no doubt available elsewhere — just Google it!

I easily put it together in 5 minutes with no tools. The base has ball bearings in it, and it turns very smoothly. It also accommodates a large range of skein sizes. If you had a tiny skein, you could remove one of the side “poles” and slip your skein over just three of them. It sits on top of the table — no clamp needed. Here it is with a 72″ skein on it:


The only drawback I can see is that it does not collapse, so it takes up more space when you’re not using it. Still, for me the pros far outweigh the cons. Besides, when I take it off the table and put it on the floor, Lucy is intrigued. I think she thinks it is a kitty merry-go-round and is wondering when the little horses will get here so she can ride it.


Perhaps not.

Bohus Report

I started the last sleeve. Hooray!


Answers to Questions

In answer to questions from the comments:

No, no, no, and no.

What? You need more info?

No, Koko is not wearing earrings in the photo I posted yesterday. Though the photo does look as though he might be.

No, Lucy is not allowed in the stash room. She likes to chew on plastic bags and the majority of my stash is stored in plastic bags.

No, I have not joined AARP yet. They haven’t sent me the letter yet. And it’s been six days since I’ve been eligible. What’s up with that? 😉

No, I’ve done no work on my log cabin blanket.

Tales From the Stash, Part Deux

Here is the shortlist of people who have been in my stash room:

Rosanna (I think? I can’t remember. Rosanna, did you take the stash room tour?)
A Washington Post photographer (What was I thinking? Fortunately the Post did not print the stash pix!)

I think that’s it.

Speaking of Gifts

Lynne E. asked:
Do you give away most of the items that you knit? (Knitted stash = stuff to store.)

I don’t give away most of the stuff that I knit, but I do give away some of it. For Christmas 2006, every member of my family received socks. Two members of my family received scarves. And two members of my family received Noni bags. A friend received the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl.

And I give stuff away spontaneously throughout the year. I’ll often knit something just because I wanna, although I know it’s something I will never wear. Those knits are completed and set aside to lie in wait for the appropriate recipient to wander on to the scene. (This is why I often don’t post a modeled shot of a completed knit.)

I used to give family members a sweater every year, but I’ve sort of stopped doing that — I don’t want to foist too many handknits on these poor people.

Speaking of Gifts, Part Deux

My family birthday dinner was last night, and a good time was had by all, and by me in particular, because I got lots of great gifts. My brother, of course, had to make a lot of lame “over-the-hill” jokes (and I would like to point out here that he has no room to talk because he is two years my senior), but I forgave him instantly upon receipt of a pair of gold and diamond earrings from him and my sister-in-law.


They gave Lucy a fancy necklace, so she wouldn’t feel left out.


“Curtsy when you enter my presence!”


Lucy also particularly likes a soft blue throw that my parents gave me.


Here is my mom with her parrot kitty, Koko.


A Question

Siouxz asked:
I did have a question– oh yes, i was going through my collection of patterns for yoke style sweaters (DALE of NORWAY) and they were bottom up not top down, are they usually written this way?

I’ve seen them both ways. The first sweater with a fair isle yoke that I knit was done bottom up — you knit the front and back and sleeves, then stuck them all on the needle and started knitting around. I remember this sweater vividly. It was a Jaeger pattern and I knitted it from sportweight alpaca in the early or mid-1980s. I remember I finished it at approximately 2:00am and was totally jazzed. But I was home alone and had no one to show it to.

Speaking of Questions

Mary asked:
do you make other sock patterns besides your toe-up? when you make other sock patterns, do you do toe-up, or follow the pattern as written? in other words, working a pattern written top-down would have to be knit in reverse going bottom-up.

I almost always knit my socks toe-up, and use my own pattern. In fact, the only time in recent histroy that I did not do a generic toe-up sock was for the Whiskers and Paw Prints Socks, which I knitted according to the pattern, top down.

A Quiz

Q. What is more tedious than black stockinette on a 2.5mm needle?

A. 1×1 black rib on a 2.0mm needle.


That’s the bottom of the front of the Bohus (picture washed out by the flash). As soon as I finish that, I can start the last sleeve.

Tales From the Stash

Yes, I have a stash room. No, I am not posting photos of it. It’s a bit of a mess. Really. Ask L-B. Yes, L-B has seen my stash room — it doubles as my guest room, and when she came for a visit during the week after Christmas, I managed to clear the yarn off the bed so she had a place to sleep.

I would like to point out now that I have never seen L-B’s stash. I’ve never even seen a photo of it. Hmmmmmmm . . . one can only guess what it entails, eh?

Well, L-B only saw my Stash Room — but I forgot to show her the Stash Closet (formerly my linen closet).

Holly asked:
So, does this mean that you don’t keep an inventory list? How do you organize the stash? I’d love a written description of your system-if there is one :~)

I do not keep an inventory list. It has occurred to me that it would be a good idea, but it would be quite a daunting task. And it would take time that I feel is better spent in knitting.

I sort of have things grouped — Koigu in one place, laceweight in one place, Alchemy in one place, Colinette in one place, etc. But there are anomalies here and there.

When I did my Great Housecleaning of September ’06, I did go through most of the stash and try to reorder it in a way that made sense. So I have a vague idea of what is where.

I quite liked Susan’s idea:
How about a resolution in 2007 to knit from each others’ stashes. That could get interesting.

Boy howdy, wouldn’t that be something? I think we have the makings of a reality television show there, as Chris mentioned in a later comment.

L-B and I may well do a “Knit From Each Other’s Stash” project in 2008. But don’t quote me on that.


I am still doggedly knitting along on mindless black stockinette stitch. Gad.


There’s still quite a long way to go on this — I’ve got at least half of the front left to do, and the entire second sleeve. But at least while I am slogging through miles of black stockinette stitch, I get to look at the multi-hued yoke.

But I did finish the first of my Olives sock.


And lookie what I got!


These beautiful wristwarmers were made by Johanne, who I have dubbed Sweden’s foremost wristwarmer artist.

Do you recognize the beading pattern?


Lookie what else I got!


A box of “Williamsburg Rare Breed Vanilla Cookies.” That is a Leicester Longwool sheep cookie on top. The cookies were given to me by L-B — who else?

And look at this little miss:


“I’m not speaking to Momma. Do you know she left me alone all day today?”

But of course Lucy now wants a set of paw warmers. Sheesh.