My current work in progress:

1. Woodfords, designed by Elizabeth Doherty, knit from Madelinetosh Merino Light in the "paper" colorway on U.S. size 3, 5, and 7 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

A Random Post

I don’t have much to blog about today because most of my knitting time last night was used dozing off and waking up until I finally gave up and went to bed. And my knitting time on my commute is taken up by a stealth project.

However, I can show you a close-up of the cast-on edge of the Chevron Stole.

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I used a lace cast-on for the bottom edge so it would be nice and stretchy. The cast-on is one where you start with a slip knot on the left needle and then knit a stitch into it, transferring the new loop onto the left needle to make the second cast-on stitch. Then you continue on, knitting into the previous stitch on the left needle each time, and pulling the new loop up and placing it on the left needle.

The stole has garter stitch edgings — I started by working several rows of garter stitch before beginning the lace pattern. Once I started the lace, I worked the first and last 5 stitches in garter stitch to keep that edge going up the sides of the stole. To get a nice stretchy edge, on every row I slip the first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in back, then knit the next 4. Then onward to the lace section.

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In other news

From time to time y’all ask me in the comments how the clean eating is going. It is going just fine, thank you. It’s been almost 3 months since I made this lifestyle change and I don’t miss my old ways one little bit. I would estimate that I eat 95% clean because as far as I know, nothing I eat is processed or has preservatives in it (and I work hard to make sure this is true). I eat no sugar or artificial sweeteners. I drink water all day (and one cup of coffee in the morning.) I’ve even started making my own yogurt (from organic fat-free milk) and let me tell you, that stuff is yummy. I do buy organic as much as possible.

I’ve noticed that I am much healthier. The respiratory and sinus issues that have plagued me forever are gone, as are any digestive issues. Unfortunately clean eating has not stopped my spine from disintegrating, but then, I guess that’s a bit much to expect. I look on the bright side — while I am hobbling around and screeching in pain as my lumbar vertebrae viciously squeeze my nerves, at least I’m not sniffling and sneezing at the same time.

Another a nice side-effect of clean eating is that I’ve lost a bit of weight.

(Aside: Speaking of hateful uncooperative vertebrae and disks, the little bastards are causing me  rather a lot of pain these days. So much so that it affects my normal day-to-day activities. I’ve had to cut back on some things — like computer time. I get a fair amount of email every day with knitting questions, requests of one sort or another, and other random things. Because it hurts to sit at the ‘puter, I can’t answer ‘em all.)

To close:

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A girl and her tail-less mouse.

ETA: I appreciate all your good wishes and suggestions but truly, I am not looking for medical advice here (I’ve got a good doc I’m working with). Just wanted to let you know that I am less available than usual. Thanks!

Brrrrrrr

It is still very chilly today and to add insult to injury, I trudged back to the office this morning. I’ll admit that I was very jealous of Lucy, who went back to bed as I was leaving for work this morning. At least it was sunny today. Here’s the late afternoon sun glinting off the buildings:

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But all is not doom and gloom, for I have finished the garter stitch triangle that makes up the center portion of the Aestlight Shawl, and picked up the stitches around that triangle.

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I am now ready to commence the fun portion.

From the comments, some questions.

Annette asked:

I note that you sometimes use superwash wool in your shawls. I’ve always thought that superwash wool, or wool combined with synthetic fibers, does not hold the blocking well. So, I tend to shy away from that combo. What’s your opinion?

I’ve made a lot of lace pieces from superwash wool, and have never had any issues with blocking. I tend not to use synthetics, so can’t offer any opinion there.

A number of you have asked what I do with all the shawls I wear. Well, I either shred them or burn them.

No, just kidding. Some I give away, and some I keep and wear. As simple as that.

And several of you have asked what Lucy’s pillow says. Here you go:

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Lucy agrees completely.

Lucy010409 240x181 Brrrrrrr

It’s Wimplicious!

Hearty thanks to Gail for coining that phrase in the comments yesterday.

Yesterday evening I sucked it up and finished the wimple I was working on, while watching The Diary of a Chambermaid on television. The film is in French and has English subtitles, but as I was doing mindless stockinette, and I do know some French, I could happily knit and watch at the same time.

Wimple101509 160x240 Its Wimplicious!

I did 4 rows of garter stitch at the edge before binding off, using a Russian bind-off.

In the interests of full disclosure, the wimple is clipped together under the neck of my disembodied head, because it is smaller than an average sized human head. The wimple fits nicely on my head sans binder clip.

I made this wimple using approximately 350 yards of Alchemy Juniper sock yarn and a US size 7 (4.5mm) needle. I started by knitting a lace edging and joined it to make a tube, then picked up stitches along the top edge, and knit a lace pattern up from there, decreasing a bit as I knit. Then I increased a bit after the neck and just knit straight after that.

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The pattern will be available at some point. And for now it is called “It’s Wimplicious!”

So now I am concentrating on my Two-Thirds Shawl, being knit from Handmaiden Mini Maiden in the “periwinkle” colorway.

Shawl101509 240x160 Its Wimplicious!

At this point I have approximately 350 stitches in each row so a row takes a whole freaking lot of time to complete. But it is fun to knit, and the pattern is so nicely geometric that not only do I not need stitchmarkers to separate the repeats, but I need only glance at the chart at the beginning of a pattern row (wrong side rows are just purled across) to remember it for the row. It’s close to being mindless knitting, so it came on the train with me today.

And I may need to find another foreign film with subtitles to watch tonight while knitting. icon wink Its Wimplicious!

Lucy sez:

Lucy101509 240x218 Its Wimplicious!

“I’m just hanging with my pink mouse. Whatcha doin’?”

Knitting Tips and Tricks

I received a review copy of the soon to be released book Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips & Tricks: Shortcuts and Techniques Every Knitter Should Know by (you guessed it) Lily Chin.

book100809 200x240 Knitting Tips and Tricks

Psst! There’s a companion book of crochet tips & tricks by Lily Chin that releases on the same day — October 13. But as I’m not a crocheter, I’m not reviewing it.

This is a smallish size (7.5 x 5.5″) hardcover book and is 208 pages long — a good size to slip into a knitting bag.

In the introduction, Lily Chin talks about a very popular class she teaches — Knitting Tips & Techniques — that always sells out quickly. She envisions this book as this class in book form. The book contains solutions that Ms. Chin has come up with over the years to solve her own knitting problems.

The book is set up chronologically to mirror the knitting process: it starts with discussions of needles and yarn, then knitting basics, followed by chapters entitled “Getting Started,” “As You Work,” and “Finishing.”

The book is illustrated with nice clear line drawings:

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This one depicts the differences between garter stitch, stockinette, and reverse stockinette.

There are also step-by-step “how-tos” for a lot of techniques:

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Sure, there are other books out there that detail different cast-ons and bind-offs and other techniques, and more of them than this little book. Why would you want this one?

For me, it’s the “tricks” portion. (The “trick” for a coded swatch is, in my opinion, genius!) Also, the tricks in the cast-on section of the book are great. (If you’ve ever run out of yarn on stitch 280 of a 290-stitch longtail cast-on, for example, you will agree with me.)

Bottom line — this is a great little reference book for new knitters, as it outlines most everything you need to get started. Experienced knitters will appreciate all the little extras — the tips & tricks that Ms. Chin has gleaned from her many years of knitting.

Something for everyone. What’s not to like?

Off to Florida!

Tomorrow I head south — to Maitland Florida to Sip n’ Knit to hang out with knitters, sign books, and teach classes. Info specifically about the weekend is on the Sip n’ Knit here. I hope to see some of you Florida knitters there. But could you please arrange for a cold snap this weekend? icon wink Knitting Tips and Tricks

I won’t get home til late on Sunday, so no blog post til Monday. See you then!

Meanwhile, Lucy is doing her stretching exercises:

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Isn’t she fabulous? Just look at that perfect form:

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Mighty Shawls From Little Edgings Grow

Because I’m geeky that way, I looked up the origins of the phrase “mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” The earliest similar phrase I could find was from my old buddy Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (late 1300s):

“as an ook cometh of a litel spyr”

Did I ever tell you I used to be able to read (and to a certain extent speak) Middle English? And no, it wasn’t during the Middle Ages, it was during graduate school. Which was almost as far back as the Middle Ages.

But I digress.

Behold the little edging:

Edging082909 240x160 Mighty Shawls From Little Edgings Grow

This is the beginning of a shetland-style rectangular shawl. I am knitting it from Jojoland 2-ply cashmere, which is a laceweight with 400 yards per 50-gram skein.

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I love rectangular shawls, but I hate knitting on the edging afterward. Miles and miles of mind-numbing edging — arrrgh!

So I’m employing a mitered-corner technique here.

You start by knitting the bottom left corner — do a provisional cast on and knit the corner using short rows. Then you knit across the bottom border in as many repeats as you need, and do another short row corner for the bottom right. Turn your work, work across those live stitches, pick up stitches along the straight edge of the border repeats you worked, then undo your provisional cast-on and work across those stitches, and Bob’s your uncle!

Here is the etymology of “Bob’s your uncle.”)

Now you are ready to work back and forth across the shawl, working the border along with the body of your shawl. When you get to the top, you do a similar maneuver — work a short row corner, work a border across the top of the body stitches, attaching the border as you work, then work the last corner.

Easy as pie!

Well, not easy as pie to figure out. At least not for me. It took me a bit of winkling to get the corners to work properly.

The shawl is worked in garter stitch and has lace patterning on both right and wrong sides, so that it is continually entertaining to knit. I’m using a US size 3 (3.25mm) needle, so it is a bit slow going. The unblocked gauge is 6 stitches and 8 rows to the inch.

How long will I make it? I have a total of 1600 yards of the yarn, so I’ll either knit until it looks long enough, or til I run out of yarn.

Lucy is no doubt lost in thought — the coming delights of a cashmere kitty blanket!

Lucy083109 240x160 Mighty Shawls From Little Edgings Grow