My current work in progress:

Tawney Sweater,by Jenni Barrett, knit from MadelineTosh Tosh Sock, using 3.25mm and 3.5mm needles.

Archives for May 2005

Knit for the Cure

Wow. I mean, WOW. I can’t believe the response we’ve gotten so far on our Inishmore Challenge Raffle. You guys are beyond awesome.

I’m keeping track of the total donated over in the sidebar, on the right. I plan to update at least daily, so check back often to see how generous y’all are.

And don’t forget to print out the receipt that Paypal sends you so you have a record of your contribution when tax time next rolls around.

I will post the list of contributors, with our thanks, at the end of the challenge but here is an interim thanks: THANK YOU!

Now, I noticed that L-B is shameless in campaigning for your votes. She even had her cat, Lucky, post a plea for votes in my comments. Da noive!

Well, we’ll just see who is laughing when the challenge is done.

mbd asked in the comments:
One other question about the Wendy – L-B contest: is it just about who finishes Inishmore first or about who knits it fastest? In other words: do you both keep real, close track of hours knitted? Or is it just who has the most knitting time, whether time is due to insomnia or other reasons?

It would be really cool if we could keep track of actual knitting time, but that is beyond my mathematical ability. (I can’t speak for L-B.)

So it’s really about who finishes first. But I think we are pretty evenly matched on how much spare time we have. We both have full-time jobs. L-B has a bit more freedom about coming and going and lunch hours than I do, I think, but I have commuter knitting on the train, which she doesn’t.

I briefly considered taking the second half of May off from work, but abandoned that idea. It shows poor sportswomanship and, more to the point, I’m sure my boss wouldn’t approve it. But I am taking Friday May 27 off from work, and so is L-B.

See how scrupulously fair we are?

And as L-B said: “May the best insomniac win.”

Some of you may not have noticed that the lovely Kristine donated a third prize: a $25 gift certificate to her Nirvana for Knitters: Knit Happens. I updated yesterday’s blog entry to reflect that, but wanted to point it out in case you missed it.

Speaking of Knit Happens, I plan to be there on Wednesday evening, May 18th, working feverishly on Inishmore. If you are in the area and voting for me, stop by to cheer me on. If you are in the area and voting for L-B, stop by to try to distract me. (Hint: Valrhona dark chocolate is a very big distraction.)

Are You Sick of Hearing About MDS&W Yet?

Too bad.

I finally got around to photographing my purchases. Here’s what I got:

1000 yards of approximately fingering weight handspun mohair in lime green. This I could not resist. I’m thinking a Kermit the Frog shawl.


1100 yards of a wool/mohair/silk blend from Firesong Fibers — worsted weight. Is this not cool yarn? Lolly was with me when I picked it out and she said “This might be your best purchase of the day!” I have to agree with her. I’m itching to swatch! I think it’s going to make a fabulous knitted fabric. I’m thinking a pullover of some sort.


1000 yards of a wool/mohair blend from Tintagel Farm. Thinking shawl here.


Approximately 12 ounces of wool/mohair roving, also from Tintagel Farm. How could I resist this colorway?


And the Cormo. My god, the Cormo!

This is almost 1500 yards of laceweight natural Cormo. Destined to become something lacy.


This is 270 yards of handpainted handspun Cormo. Scarf or hat, perhaps?


And this is 510 yards of Cormo/silk blend. YUM.


There was one other pile of yarn that I sent off as a gift for a friend, and I’ve already forgotten what it was.


Today was my lunchtime knitting group, and we sat outside because the weather was so pretty. I got a bit more done on the Mahi-Mahi tank.


I really need to suck it up and just finish it already.

The Great Communicator

I loved reading the comments in yesterday’s entry about Lucy’s communication attempts with the positioning of her toys. When I came home today I saw this:


Isn’t she clever? It did surprise me, because she usually does not touch my yarn.


Inishmore Challenge Raffle!

We have to make this interesting, right?

But you have to cough up money.

Anyone who wants to enter the raffle will pay a minimum of $1.00, paid to a Paypal account. I will donate the total that we receive, plus $100 of my own, to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at the conclusion of the challenge.

Updated! There are three prizes for which we will be drawing:

The first lucky winner will receive a copy of Alice Starmore’s Fishermen’s Sweaters (which contains the pattern for Inishmore), generously donated by my worthy opponent, L-B.

The second winner will win the last Inishmore that I knitted. The one that was pictured in last Thursday’s blog entry. It’s a size small, but that’s 45″ around so it’s a BIG small! If it doesn’t fit you, you could give it to someone as a gift and say you knitted it yourself. I won’t tell.

The third winner will win a $25.00 gift certificate to Knit Happens, donated by Knit Happens.

And if you’d like to guess who will win the challenge and the date and time of completion, you can do so when you send in your donation. The person who guesses the winner and comes closest to the correct date and time of the win will receive a little yarn prize.

How to Enter

1. Click on the “Make a Donation” button below.
2. This will take you to the Paypal payment page for this raffle.
3. Make your donation — minimum of $1, but please feel free to donate more if you like. You will receive one entry into the raffle for each dollar that you donate.
4. There is a comments field on the PayPal form. If you’d like to guess who will win and the date and time of completion, put that information there. (The person who guesses the winner and comes closest to the correct date and time of the win will receive a little yarn prize.)
5. The raffle ends the day we have a winner. L-B and I are both totally stoked for this, so get your donations in early!
6. The total donated will be sent to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, as mentioned above, along with a letter explaining our project and listing all the individuals donating.

So whaddya think? Wanna play?

Okay, here’s the button!

I’ll put this button in the sidebar with a link to this entry, so y’all can still donate after this entry disappears off the front page.

Knitting? Not so much.

You will be able to tell by my progress on the Mahi-Mahi tank that I’ve not been devoting mass quantities of time to knitting.

I did finish the back and am working on the front. As the back is somewhat boring, here’s a pic of the front, featuring fishtail lace:


I ought to be able to suck it up enough to finish it this week. And maybe I’ll have time to make Aurora’s second sleeve as well. Maybe even a Nantasket Basket!

Because on Monday, of course, all regular knitting activity will cease when I cast on for the Inishmore Challenge.

“If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away”

Phyl-Phyl was singing that song yesterday at Knit Happens as she happily unraveled a sweater back she had knitted, but decided it simply did not have it going on.

I have to admire someone who will cheerfully rip out that much work if she decides it’s not what she wants. Me? I’d probably wad the offending knitting up in a ball and shove it in a plastic bag, out of sight. And sulk.

Do You Ever Wonder

Why your pets do the things they do?

This past weekend, Lucy did this:


She didn’t move any of those toys after she lined them up so nicely for a couple of days. But when I came home from work today, I saw this:


She declined to comment.


What Happens in Columbia Stays in Columbia

Yesterday morning I drove up to the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival. I’m really lucky in that it’s just an hour’s drive from my home.

As per usual, although I had my camera, I took next to no photos. But lookie here!


Left to right, that’s High-Energy Jenny, Carrioke, and Ann-Marie. Aren’t they cute?

What’s that Jenny’s holding? It’s a little Frecklegirl doll, because she was with them in spirit!

I saw many other knitters and bloggers I know, both through their blogs and from online friendships: Claudia, Silvia, Theresa, Julie, Norma, to name a few. And Rachael & Lala were there, as well as Greta and Maggie. I was delighted to see my blogless buddy Lolly again, and to meet Sarah-in-Sacramento, Shannon, Joy, Hope (who brought along her handsome and amiable friend Kevin who I will forever hold in high esteem for schlepping the booze for me), Sheila, Vanessa, and Nathania in person. (Nathania and I discovered that we must have been separated at birth, even though I am far older than she, because we found ourselves saying the same things in unison. With no rehearsal. Honest.)

Okay, I am quite worn out from all the linkage!

I had booked a hotel room at the Columbia Sheraton for Saturday night so I could stay as late as I wanted and not have to worry about driving home tired. So naturally I brought a bunch of booze and snacks with me and threw a party. A number of the above suspects stopped by, as well as some others, and it seems to me as though a good time was had by all.

And what happens in Columbia stays in Columbia.

Did I buy anything? Yeah, some stuff. But I concentrated more on socializing.

I got up early this morning and came home. Lucy seemed very happy to see me.


To Quote Margene

“It’s the process.”

That’s in answer to the question why I am knitting another Inishmore when I already have one (and one that so far has been worn only once).

I should point out here that I’ve actually knitted two Inishmores previously. The first one was given away as a gift.

But it’s a vaild question: why the heck would I knit something I already have? And have only worn once?

Inishmore is heavily textured, making it a thick heavy sweater, and very warm. I just don’t have a lifestyle that requires a lot of heavy knits. So why make those kinds of sweaters?

It’s the process.

I love knitting cabled textured sweaters. I have a particular fondness for Alice Starmore’s aran designs. Apart from all the “singles” I’ve made, I’ve knitted St. Enda three times, Irish Moss twice, Fulmar twice, and Na Craga four times. Two of the St. Endas, both Irish Mosses, one Fulmar, and all the Na Cragas were given as gifts to other people. So I’m not quite as insane as you may think (though the jury is still out on that).

The Inishmore that I’m about to knit will, I think, look quite different from the last Inishmore, as the yarn is so different. I’ll be using VirtualYarns 3-ply Hebridean in the color Sea Ivory. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Inishmore looks in a dark heathered green.

Ashley asked:
Wendy, when you shorten/lengthen cabled sweaters, do you take out/add a specific repeat (subtract 1 repeat before the waist shaping, for example) or do you subtract a repeat’s worth of stitches proportionally throughout the sweater? Sorry if that is a dumb question (or doesn’t make sense) but I am trying to add length to my first cabled sweater, so I thought I’d ask the pro!

Ashley, if your sweater has waist shaping, it depends where you want to add/subtract the length — above or below the waist. You say you want to add length. If you are high-waisted, I would think you’d want to add it below the waist shaping. And you have to figure in how many rows in a pattern repeat — if the pattern repeat is longer than the amount of length you want to add, you have to recalculate on which row you want to start the shaping.

A cabled sweater without shaping is much easier to lengthen or shorten. Inishmore doesn’t have any body shaping, so I’ll just knit until I have the length I want. That is, do fewer pattern repeats. The largest pattern repeat in Inishmore is 36 rows (the smaller patterns are 12 rows), so obviously I won’t be deleting an entire repeat, just a small part of one. The design has no armhole shaping — it has drop shoulders with saddle sleeves, so you just start knitting with row 1 of the pattern and continue on, repeating until you get to the point where your piece is long enough.

(Aside: a lot of people complain about Starmore designs because of the lack of shaping. I love ’em because as a rule I don’t like fitted sweaters. To each his/her own.)

The Inishmore I pictured in last Thursday’s entry is, as I said, an inch shorter than the pattern directs. I measured the gauge on it and find it to be exact in both stitch and row gauge, and it took 4 complete pattern repeats to get to the length I wanted (along with the amount of ribbing as directed by the pattern) on the back. The front, of course, has the neck shaping that cuts into the last pattern repeat.

To Double-Variegate or Not To Double-Variegate?

I got a lot of advice on whether it would be wise to knit the felted basket with a variegated yarn held double. Some say yes, some say no. I think I might try it. So, if it fails and the colors look muddy when they are felted, I’ll know it was a Bad Idea. Some pretty yarn will have died a sad death, but it would be giving its life for a good cause: exploration.

Distraction Technique

Ooooh, lookie here. Pretty sweater. Ooooh.


This is the last Inishmore I knit, almost four years ago. I’m slapping a photo of it on the blog today to distract you from the fact that photos of my current knitting are somewhat boring.

I hauled this sweater out to measure the length. I did this because I looked at the Inishmore pattern the other day for the first time since the last time I made it, and noticed the finished length for the size small is 25.75 inches. I know that’s an ootch longer than I like my sweaters. So I suggested to L-B that we make our Inishmores an inch shorter. L-B is a bit shorter than I, so I didn’t think she’d have a problem with that. She didn’t.

My last Inishmore is an inch shorter and I like the length. At least, to the best of my recollection I do. The one and only time I wore it was to work on Monday, December 31, 2001. It was cold that day.

(Yes, I have a bizarre memory. I can remember stuff like that, but I can’t remember if I turned the lights off when I left the house five minutes previously.)

I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to try it on again.

So for those keeping score at home, we will be making our Inishmores an inch shorter than the pattern directs for the longer version (as opposed to the cropped version). We will also be making the crew neck, not the rolled neck.

That last Inishmore is knitted from a handspun Corriedale/Merino single ply yarn that I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival the first year I went — 1997, I think? I have no idea who I bought it from, but the labels were handmade, and I bought all that they had in the natural cream color. The skeins were of varying size. Happily, I had enough with a bit to spare. I loved knitting with this minimally processed yarn.

Current Knitting Project

I made it past the armholes on the Mahi-Mahi tank. Alert the media.


A Question for Y’all

Here’s what I was thinking of using for my Nantasket Basket:


Lorna’s Laces Bullfrogs & Butterflies in the Black Purl colorway. (Though I may change my mind and use a different colorway. It may not surprise you to learn that I possess mulitple colorways of Bullfrogs & Butterflies.)

The yarn is held double throughout. Whaddya think about holding a variegated yarn double. The variegations in each strand will not not match. When it’s felted, will it look uber-cool or horrific?

Because it’s not self-striping but variegated, I think it’ll look okay. Whaddya think? Huh?

Now . . . must see if I can find an mp3 of “Bitter and Twisted” (from the “McVicar” soundtrack) for Irving the iPod. I need more tunes to put me in the proper frame of mind in the a.m.


Lucy sez: “Happy Cinco de Mayo!”

I’m a Knitter . . . a Knitter on the Edge

Yup, that’s me.

Why? Because after working on the Mahi-Mahi tank for less than one frigging day, I found myself yearning for Aurora again.

But then again, I’m tempted to start something else as well. As I mentioned briefly in my poll of the other day (and by the way, I do so like having my desire to sit in a darkened room with a bottle of tequila validated), I’ve worked up a fine-gauge two-color design. I almost started it the other day. I wound some yarn into balls and cast on 10 stitches before I changed my mind and pulled the stitches off the needle.

I’m once again planning on using Koigu, in a monochrome and a variegated. I really liked the way my Ingrid sweater turned out, so thought I’d do something else, with a more complex design. I’ve got my design charted out and am ready to go.

But, anyhow, I’m still working on the tank. I may return to Aurora when I fnish the tank back. Unless I change my mind yet again.

But then again . . .

I read today in her blog that Susan put up a gallery for photos of the Nantasket Basket. and I remember how cute the pattern is so I had to get it. And this would be a great “immediate gratification” project. Hmmmmmmm . . . I might be able to finish Aurora, knit this, and the tank before May 16. Hmmmmm . . .

I remember the “olden days.” Sometimes I would finish a project with no clear idea of what I was going to knit next and would go through a few attempts to start something, and fail each time. I didn’t like the way something looked, I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn, I decided I didn’t like the pattern, the planets weren’t aligned properly, etc. I had a million excuses reasons for abandoning something.

In recent years I’ve had a much clearer idea of What To Knit. So I haven’t had such project angst in a long time.

Thanks for all your kind comments about my work angst. I have completed one full day in my new situation and am pleased to report that I haven’t broken the office. Yet.

I headed over to Knit Happens after work and hung out with some of the Irregulars. The highlight was when LauraTheNurse was promoted from Minion to Sycophant in a brief but moving ceremony. I wish you coulda been there.

And Another Thing

Why do people feel the need to talk to someone who is wearing headphones? Especially at 5-frigging-30 in the a.m.?

When I’m listening to “Psycho Killer” on the pod I’m not in the mood to chat. Especially to a total stranger at 5-frigging-30 in the a.m.

And all you get is one frigging photo of Lucy.


Cuz the tank looks the same as it did yesterday, only a few inches longer.

This blog entry is brought to you by the word “frigging.”