My current work in progress:

1. Drachenfels, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Madelintosh Pashmina in the Black Walnut, Seasalt, and Mineral colorways on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Recovering

lucy032907 Recovering

Thank you all very much for all your good wishes for Lucy’s speedy recovery!

She is, actually, taking it easy. Being the little busybody she is, she wants to be with me whatever I’m doing, so I try not to move around too much so she doesn’t feel the need to follow me. (See? Excuse number 5,742 for not doing any cleaning. It might tire Lucy.) And I try to lift her down from places when she looks like she wants to jump.

Fortunately, most of the surfaces she gets up on are easy climbs for her — my bed is an antique so it’s quite high off the floor, but I have a cedar chest at the foot of the bed that’s an easy half-jump for Lucy, and then just a step-up to the bed. She can easily get up on the seat of the sofa, and from there it’s another easy half-jump to the sofa table behind the sofa.

When I left for work this morning the Little Princess was getting ready to take a nap on her Cozy Cushion on the bed. She is still limping quite noticeably, and I think she’s figured out that it’s best to stay quiet.

Beverley asked:
We are the devoted owners, no slaves to a calico cat called Patches. In New Zealand of course cats have free range and go outside. You seem to live in an apartment? is that right. [ Just going off your snow pics ] Does Lucy go out side at all? How do you find this? I can’t imagine trying to stop our cat…she is such a good hunter and loves playing in the garden when I am weeding etc. I suppose an inside cat would be used to it. Anyway just wondering??

I live on the 10th floor of a high-rise condominium. Lucy does not go outside at all, and this seems not to bother her a bit. She’s a Ragdoll, a breed known for their sweet, non-aggressive temperament. Ragdolls should never be allowed outside unsupervised, because they will not defend themselves in a confrontational situation. So they are perfect indoor apartment/condo cats.

Brenda commented:
When I was little, my grandmother had a big orange cat, Max, who started limping. She took him to the vet, where he was given a cortisone shot. He was great for quite a while, but then he started holding his paw up again. Before Grandma Frances could decide if she needed to take him back to the vet, she noticed that he did not limp when he thought he was undetected (he was outside on his leash and she was watching through a window), but if she went outside he would start to limp again (he also made the mistake of sometimes changing which paw he held up–little brain). She had a steroid abuser-wannabe kitty. The vet agreed with Grandma that he did not need more meds, and after a few days Max gave up trying and stopped limping. I know Lucy would never behave in such a nefarious manner, but I thought you might enjoy the story.

I did, so much so that I repeated it here. icon smile Recovering

And it reminds me of a former cat I had, who was always underfoot. So much so, that I stepped on his tail from time to time. Every time I did, and he let out a yelp, I’d give him a treat to say I was sorry. He quickly learned that this was a fast way to get a treat and started trying to get his tail stepped on. Soon, anytime I got anywhere near him, he’d let out a yelp as if he’d been stepped on, and then look at me pointedly: “Well, where’s my treat?”

Little con-artist.

Lace

EricaLynn commented:
I have been admiring the Alpine lace ever since you started it (I have a weakness for leafy patterns). How do you think it would look in black? I ‘rescued’ some black laceweight from my mom, because she will never use it and wanted me to make something that shape. I love the lighter colors though usually, I’d hate to do all that work and have it look bad.

There’s a photo of a black Alpine lace that I found on a blog a while back. After some mad Googling, I found it, here. Gorgeous, huh?

Regina asked:
I’m also looking forward to seeing it blocked, but it’s looking pretty huge in its unblocked state – do you anticipate that it will grow much in size when you block? (or were you stretching it out a little for photographing and you won’t stretch it much more in blocking?).

While I do stretch it out a little for photos, I’m betting it’s going to grow substantially when blocked. The yarn is very stretchy and springy and the pattern is quite closed up while being knit. Incidentally, it’s not all that huge in real life. icon smile Recovering

alpine032907 Recovering

Serendipity Sock

sock032907 Recovering

First sock is done. And is pretty decent-sized. So yes, you can get a reasonably good-sized pair of socks out of one skein of Zen String Serendipity sock yarn. For reference, I wear a women’s size 8.5 shoe and have wide feet.

Book Giveaway

I have another book to give away. This is Past Reason Hated by Peter Robinson, who is one of my current favorite mystery authors.

Would you like it? Send an email to blogcontestATcomcastDOTnet before noon Eastern time on Sunday April 1, and I’ll use the random number generator to pick a lucky recipient. Once again, anyone with a mailing address on Planet Earth is welcome to enter the drawing.

Lucy Sez

lucy032907a Recovering

“Come pet me, Momma. I’m injured, remember.”

What’s It All About, Alpine?

There’s something about the Alpine lace.

alpine032807 Whats It All About, Alpine?

It’s certainly not the most complicated lace I’ve ever knitted.

It’s not the biggest lace piece I’ve undertaken.

But there’s something about it. I just love it.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m extraordinarily picky about the lace projects I make. If there’s one little element that I don’t like, I dismiss the pattern. It takes me forever to pick a project to knit. When I selected the Alpine lace from Victorian Lace Today, I thought to myself, “This is acceptable.”

Then I went Into The Stash to find a yarn for it. The Morehouse Merino laceweight singles that had been marinating there seemed like a good choice, so out it came.

As soon as I started knitting it, I fell in love. The yarn is wonderful to knit. It’s soft and sproingy and has the rough-hewn look of handspun. And I think it is perfect for this lace. The combination of the yarn and the lace pattern just clicks for me.

I like a lace pattern that’s got a lot going on — I don’t like lots of “blank places” in my lace, and this pattern certainly does have a lot going on. It’s densely populated lace. icon smile Whats It All About, Alpine? And I’m not bored with the never-ending rose leaves in the center because of the diamonds on the border — they add some welcome variety to the knitting.

In short — it’s fun. And I am inspired to keep knitting on it because I am very anxious to block it and see what it’s gonna look like blocked.

Hey, Guess What?

When you knit socks in sportweight sock yarn, they go really really fast.

The Serendipity sock yarn has 241 yards per skein, and I bought one skein for a pair of socks. As usual, I split it into two balls and am knitting toe up. Here’s the first sock:

sip032807 Whats It All About, Alpine?

The ball is what’s left of the first half. Enough for a decent length on the leg, I think.

Polly asked:
I must ask, have you had any problems with felting with the superwash merinos? It’s never been a problem for me until yesterday when my STRs felted. I am distraught. How do your socks hold up in the wash or are you one for handwashing them?

Arrrgh! I’m so sorry to hear about your STRs felting!

I wash my socks in the machine. I put them in a mesh bag and use the delicate cycle (cold wash. cold rinse). I confess that I even put them in the dryer, but I take them out when they are still damp, and lay them out on a towel to finish drying.

I have one pair of STR socks that I’ve worn and washed in the manner multiple times, and no felting yet. The only thing I can guess is that my machine’s gentle cycle is a lot gentler than yours.

Lisa asked
I have a question about (appropriately enough) sock gauge swatches. Do you knit them flat in stockinette stitch? Do you knit a very small tube? I’m always confused when a sock pattern says “make a gauge swatch”, but don’t specify whether the swatch is flat or in the round! icon sad Whats It All About, Alpine?

Well, I know that when you are knitting in the round, you are supposed to do your swatch in the round. But I don’t. I knit them flat in stockinette. And for socks, my swatch usually consists of — cast on 12 stitches and work in stockinette for 12 rows.

Lucy’s Rough Afternoon

Actually, Lucy’s had a rough couple of days.

A couple of evenings ago, when I was sitting on the couch, knitting, she came out of the master bedroom. limping. Apart from the limp, she’s been perfectly normal, and I couldn’t find a thing wrong with her little foot or leg. But she was still limping this morning so I took off work early and took her to the vet this afternoon.

The vet discovered that her knee on her right rear leg was swollen and said that it seems likely she pulled a muscle or tendon, most likely jumping off something, and that she should recover in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Lucy is on light duty. No heavy lifting or playing!

lucy032807 Whats It All About, Alpine?

“I had a tough afternoon and my knee has a boo-boo!”

Poodle Skirt Socks

I will confess here and now that I did no knitting on the Alpine shawl last night. Events overtook me and I was busy doing this, that, and the other thing.

alpine032707 Poodle Skirt Socks

But I did finish my Poodle Skirt socks.

poodleskirt Poodle Skirt Socks

To recap, these are knitted from Scarlet Fleece sock yarn purchased from The Loopy Ewe, in the “poodle skirt” colorway. I knit the foot with size 0 needles and went up to a size 2 for the leg. The texture pattern is from the Blueberry Waffle sock pattern.

(By the way, The Loopy Ewe is currently out of stock on the Scarlet Fleece sock yarn, but according to Sheri’s blog, there’ll be more listed for sale soon!)

I also cast on for a new sock, this one in Zen String Serendipity sport weight yarn. Also purchased from The Loopy Ewe.

sip032707 Poodle Skirt Socks

Ohmygosh I love this yarn! A very firm twist and very soft. The knitted fabric has a gorgeous sheen to it. It is very similar, I think, to the Socks The Rock medium weight yarn.

I’m making this sock in the “Ben” colorway — a lovely forest-y colorway.

sip032707a Poodle Skirt Socks

Because it’s sportweight, I started out my toe with a size 2 needle and happily got a nice firm fabric. I started out with 56 stitches around — I do fingering weight socks with 64 stitches around. When I had about 3 inches done I popped it on my foot and found it to be just a bit too loose so I ripped it out and started again with 52 stitches. This time it seems perfect. Shows that I should have done a gauge swatch to begin with, huh?

Reader Michelle had a sock gauge question:
Sock Help! I’m coming to the source of my inspiration. Wendy, I have a question. I am a sock knitting addict. I enjoy knitting them IMMENSELY! I use a classic sock pattern and since my hooves are quite generous 9 1/2 I make mine with 64 stitches on size 2 needles. Although some sock yarns call for size 0 or 1 I haven’t attempted those sizes yet because I’m not sure on the # of stitches. How many do you increase to offset using a smaller needle?

It’s all a matter of gauge. Check the gauge on your 64-stitch around socks on size 2 needles. Say, for example, that you are getting 7 stitches to the inch. If you divide 64 by 7, you get an ootch over 9 inches — 9.14 inches, to be a bit more exact. Round that down to 9. Most fingering weight sock yarns on size 0 needles state a gauge of 8 stitches to the inch. You should do a small swatch to check your gauge to make sure (see my story of ripping out the toe, above). Say your gauge with fingering weight sock yarn and size 0 needles is indeed 8 stitches per inch. Multiply 9 by 8, and you get 72 stitches. There’s your number of stitches for your fingering weight socks.

You can always figure out how many stitches you need for socks by measuring around the ball of your foot. Mine is about 8.5 inches, so I base my socks on an 8-inch circumference, because you want your socks to have a bit of negative ease. So I always start my fingering weight socks based on 64 stitches. If I had bothered to check the gauge of the Zen String Serendipity yarn before I started I would have found I was getting 6.5 stitches to the inch and would have known to cast on 52 stitches.

If you have fat ankles, you can increase a few stitches after you turn the heel. Conversely, if you have thin ankles you can go down a couple or few stitches. You can increase for shapely calves. Et cetera.

And if you are doing your socks top-down, you just reverse the whole thing.

Lucy Sez

lucy032707 Poodle Skirt Socks

“I’m practicing my interpretive dance.”

Zoom?

A couple of you commented about how quickly I seem to be knitting the Alpine shawl. There was indeed a lot of progress made on Saturday, particularly compared to the previous few days.

alpine032607 Zoom?

But I did not do much on it yesterday. I seem to have slept “funny” on my right hand Saturday night (I woke up with my thumb bent back too far) so it felt not quite right — a bit of pain but nothing too serious. So I took it easy on the knitting yesterday, and will tonight as well.

I did knit on my sock-in-progress on the train.

sip032607 Zoom?

Lorraine commented:
One thing I’m really curious about- how do you manage to be faithful to one project before beginning another ?(not including socks). I suffer from yarn polygamy, if I’m working on one, I’m thinking about another.

(This, of course, is the secret to my apparent speed in knitting — project monogamy.)

Project monogamy is one of the very few examples of willpower in my life. How do I manage to remain faithful to one project? I just . . . do. If I have more than one “big” project and one sock going at a time, I actually feel uncomfortable.

In pre-Internet days, I always knit things one-at-a-time. I’d be working on a project, and halfway through it I’d decide what I wanted to knit next and buy the yarn for it. That way I could cast on for the next project as soon as I finished the current one. I didn’t even have a stash.

While the stash part has changed, I still think about my knitting serially. At this moment, I don’t know what I’m going to make next. I’m a bit more than halfway done with the Alpine shawl, so I ought to start thinking about it. I may do a series of small things, but it may occur to me to start something big. I bought several Cookie A. patterns from The Loopy Ewe, so perhaps I’ll make one of those as my “at-home” project. Because these are far more complex than my usual mindless commuter sock, I won’t knit them on the commute — I don’t want to have to fiddle with pattern and charts while on the train platform and on the train. So perhaps some at-home sock knitting is in order. I’ll knit them exactly according to the patterns, and not bastardize them into my usual toe-up process.

Books

Pamela commented:
It sounds like you buy the novels you read. I’m curious why you don’t borrow them from your local public library. As a librarian, I’m always interested in why people do or do not use their local library.

Over the past few years I’ve bought many, many books from the public library’s collection of “for sale” books. I’ve found it is a great way to pick up books cheap — I think they sell paperbacks 4 for $1.00 and hardbacks for $1.00 each. When I’m done with them, I usually pass them on to someone else, or donate them to a book sale.

Why don’t I borrow books from the library? Mainly because I want to read them on my timetable, rather than one that the library imposes (out of necessity, of course).

Lucy Sez

lucy032607 Zoom?

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

Weekends Are For Lace

I can get a heckuva lot more knitting done on the weekends. There has been some progress with the lace:

alpine032507 Weekends Are For Lace

Ann asked a good question in the comments:
I’ve a question about the Alpine Knit Scarf. I looked at the pattern and I don’t see how to do it, but perhaps you’ve thought this through. The this is this: I like the ends of things to be symmetrical. Is there a row in this scarf where you could graft two ends at the center back of the thing? Gracefully? I see that there is a row of straight knitting — no yo’s– in the diamond pattern, but I don’t have in my head where that row hits the leaves.

The diamond pattern is a 16 row repeat, and the leaf pattern an 8-row repeat. On rows 8 and 16 of the diamond pattern and on row 8 of the leaf pattern it’s a straight purl row — no yo’s and decreases.

If you were going to knit two ends and graft them together in the middle, you’d want to do it on row 16 of the diamond pattern, which is row 8 on the leaf pattern. That way you’d get two complete diamonds going in different directions. I don’t think you’d want to do it on row 8 of the diamond, because those two half diamonds grafted together would look a little wonky.

Now the leaf pattern is going to look a little wonky whatever you do, because of the way the leaves are stacked — as you are completing one set of leaves, you are starting the tip of the next pair on the same row. But as the grafting will be at the back as you wear the shawl, it might not matter to you.

alpine032507a Weekends Are For Lace

The red line in the photo shows you where row 8 of the leaf pattern falls.

Book Giveaway

The random number generator chose Joan K. to receive my copy of Seeking Sanctuary. Joan, I’ve emailed you.

To those of you who asked in the comments, yes, I do know about Bookcrossing.com, and I registered this book there.

Speaking of Comments

A couple of people emailed me this week to mention that there were a couple of spirited discussions about comments going on in the knit blog-o-sphere this week.

Like most everyone else, I love getting comments. I don’t always have time to respond to every one of them, but I do read them all. Sometimes I answer the comments in a blog entry. I like doing this because it makes this blog more of a discussion than a one-sided conversation, I think. Often I will answers a comments question via email, particularly if it’s one that’s been been discussed frequently in the past, or if the answer won’t be of interest to the majority of readers. At least once a week I’ll send off an email response only to have the message bounce back to me as undeliverable. So this is just a reminder — if you ask a question in the comments, please make sure that the email address you use when you submit your comment is a valid one if you want an answer. Thanks!

Lucy Sez

lucy032507 Weekends Are For Lace

I love Sunday afternoons!