Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lots of Frogs!!

Bet you thought I frogged the Black Widow Spider Queen shawl, didn't you? Fooled you!

Click on each picture for a real-sized view. This design turned out very well, but I will be stitching two or three variations for my August embroidery class in London.

Please smile and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Perfect Gift from a Perfect Husband

I can remember a time when the perfect gift would have been, say, a new kayak paddle or wet suit booties. Unfortunately, I can barely remember those days. Time motors on, leaving tire tracks on my brain.

Of course, it would have been difficult (but not impossible!) to knit with a kayak paddle, and it's equally unlikely that I will paddle a river with this lovely stuff:

Note: The closest I've come to paddling with yarn was a float down the Mekong last year in Laos. On the boat with me was a ball of Schaefer Anne and two circular needles. We were somewhere in the middle of this leisurely cruise when I decided that Anne made lousy sock yarn and was thenceforth transferrred to the lace yarn bin. Of course, none of you believe that I would be knitting socks while floating down the Mekong in blistering August heat, so here's a travel picture. Really. It's true! I did that!

In any case, this anniversary gift was your basic perfect present. For those of you who are just tuning in, Roy called Sue at Little Knits and gave her a credit card number, plus a primitive instruction consisting of No Brown. Sue and her coworkers did all the rest.

At the top, we have a Lantern Moon basket, a #1 circular Addi Lace needle, and four scrumptious balls of Bollicina Cashmere/Silk. From left to right below we have Handmaiden Sea Silk in Paris; Baruffa CashWool in burgundy, Schaefer Trenna in Jane Addams, and Schaefer Anne in the most wonderful shades of dark purple.

I forgot to place the two turquoise skeins of Jade Sapphire Cashmere/Silk in the photo, because while I was arranging the lineup, Roy strolled into the kitchen, grabbed the potato masher, and announced that he was going outside to do some yard work. My brain immediately went into overdrive, trying to envision what sort of yard work anyone would do with a potato masher. Don't ask.

Also included in the package were two charming patterns for a shawl and a reversible cable scarf. The latter looks like the Sea Silk would be perfect.

So folks, after you have finished sighing in envy, forward this page to your SO with a note that says Yes! The Perfect Gift!

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Little Lesson in Japanese Knitting Symbols

I got an email the other day from someone who purchased Elegance Knit and couldn't understand some of the symbols used in the pattern on page 40.

It was a fairly complicated symbol, and took me a few minutes to figure it out. And of course, not wanting to waste a single minute of coherent thought, I want to share my reasoning with you guys. You might need to do a similar analysis at some point, and I could be abducted by aliens or the NSA and not be available for consultation.

So, let's take a look at the top symbol. Obvously, the circle stands for The Rising Sun. Notice how it's nestled in a valley, with a tranquil stream wandering peacefully around the bottom of the mountain. The gray shadng implies a gentle mist, covering all in mysterious calm.

This interpretation clearly illustrates that no matter how confused I get, I can always make stuff up that sounds believable. However, after this brief thought flitted across my brain, I realized that it wasn't going to be possible to knit these three stitches, mainly because I have never heard of The Rising Sun stitch and couldn't find any reference to it in any of my stitch dictionaries.

So, I revisited the brain cell in charge of Japanese Knitting Symbols and worked it out this way.

1. The symbol incorporates a three-stitch cable, a decrease, a purl stitch, and a yarnover. The gray shading merely indicates that it's called out of the main pattern graph as a special maneuver.

2. Because the numbers underneath clearly show a right to left reading, I started on the right side of the symbol.

3. The first thing we see there on the right is a little underline, which, if you recall from my previous post on Japanese knitting symbols, indicates a purl stitch.

4. The cable is travelling to the right. Therefore, the first stitch is placed on a cable needle and dropped to the back. We'll revisit this stitch later.

5. Now we have two stitches. The decrease symbol indicates that we knit them together and follow that maneuver with a yarnover to a) keep the stitch count the same and b) to keep this yarnover in line with the ones in the rest of the pattern. You can't see the rest of the pattern, but I can, nyah nyah.

6. Finally, we pick up our first stitch from the cable needle and purl it.

Moving right along to the bottom symbol, we have a yarnover, a purled stitch, a right-travelling cable, and a decrease.

1. The first maneuver is a yarnover, for same same reasons as described in #5 above, that is, to keep the stitch count the same and line up the yarnover with others in the pattern.

2. Then we drop stitch #1 to the back.

3. Do the K2Tog decrease on stitches #1 and #2 and...

4. Pick up stitch #3 and purl it.

I leave the middle two symbols to you folks as homework.

A Reply to Lori, et. al. at the NSA

Hi guys!

Thanks for the compliments on my dress and hair. Here's a picture to satisfy your curiosity about my anniversary present:

The next time you do a satellite flyover, you can peer inside the packages and maybe let me know what's there! All I know is that Roy called Little Knits, gave them a credit card number, and told them to put together a basket of lace yarn. What a lovely gift!

I will, of course, post a picture of the wrapless contents as soon as I tear off the paper later today.

Ah, the sheep is not part of the gift. I made it years ago when the president of the company I was working for bemoaned the fact that there was a shortage of 2K RAM. So I went home and made one. You can see the little green K's sticking out of the sheep's mouth.

And for those who are baffled about the reference to the NSA, go read the comments to my previous blog entry. They are everywhere!

Discounted Addi Lace Needles

For those of you who don't know Sandy Terp and and her store at Moonrise Lace Knitting, let me introduce you. Sandy is a talented lace designer who sells a small, but choice selection of yarns; patterns; and now, Addi lace needles. Her prices for the needles are a few dollars lower than retail:

Size 1 in 24", 32", and 48" $11
Size 2 in 24", 32", and 48" $11
Size 3 in 24", 32" and 48" $12
Size 4 in 24" or 48" $12
Size 5 in 24" or 48" $12
Size 6 in 24" or 48" $12

Shipping on the needles is $3, regardless of how many you order. Note that these prices arrived via her newsletter and are lower than those stated on her website. So if you place an order with her, please mention the newsletter price.

And if you are in the market for cobweb lace yarn, do ask for a free sample of her Harmony yarn. It's a luxurious blend of 70% alpaca, 20% silk, and 10% cashmere--about a 2/32 weight with 10,000 yards per pound. Her prices for the yarn are quite reasonable--$40 for a 9 ounce skein, which is plenty for several fine shawls. I bought some at Stitches East last fall and it is lovely stuff.

If you graze around her site, you'll also find books, patterns, and an interesting assortment of tools not available elsewhere, such as a needle gauge that goes down to 00000000 (8x). She also sells 8x needles, for those of you who are into profound masochism.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Book for the Thinking Knitter

Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace by Margaret Stove is one of those gems that doesn't get a lot of press, and it's a shame. I can see why it's been ignored. First, the book title contains none of these words: funky, chunky, one-hour, instant, or not-your-(mother's/father's/grandmother's/2nd cousin's twice removed)-knitting. Also, it's expensive, a bit esoteric, definitely not a laught-a-minute, and cannot be appreciated without a careful reading and some time investment in the exercises.

Having given you the bad news, let's toddle on to the good news. And the news is really, really good. The bottom line (which my editors always tell me needs to be in the first two paragraphs of any review) is that this is a Must Purchase Immediately if you want to truly understand knitted lace.

The first few chapters start off a bit slowly, (read: very dry), what with history, definitions, and an intro for the true beginner that can be happily skimmed by the more seasoned needle jockey.

Beginning with chapter 4 though, you'll be walked through a series of valuable exercises that show you how lace is constructed, what happens when you vary the program, presents thorough charting lessons, and leads into my absolute favorite chapter: translating sketches into stitches.

This lady actually paints her lace. Yeah. She knitted part of a lace shawl with white yarn and painted it with cold-water dyes. Trust me, your eyes will pop at when you see her Sea Spray and Scallop Shells shawl.

I frankly learned more about lace from the chapter Cause and Effect with Stitches, than from all my other lace books put together (and that pile would flatten a good-sized watemelon, assuming one could balance the pile on top of the fruit).

If you have any interest in the Hows and Whys of lace, you really should invest in this book. But don't buy it from Amazon--it's twice the price offered by Elann and Schoolhouse Press.

Decorative Knitting

My quest for the unusual and beautiful doesn't begin and end with foreign books, although it might seem like it at times. There are several books that were published here in the USA that qualify for my, um, reviewer's touch. *

*To qualify, a book needs to be both unique and interesting. And there's little point in my reviewing books that have been done to death by zillions of others, unless my viewpoint is swimming against the majority flow, as it were.

One of my favorites is a book called Decorative Knitting, by Kate Haxell and Luise Roberts. It was published in 2005. I found a single copy in the local bookstore and then never saw or heard about it since.

What a shame! It's gorgeous!

There are a bunch of elegant projects inside, but the meat of the book is all about ways to embellish your knitting with unique stitches, additional yarns, embroidery, beads, and trimmings. Each page is crammed with ideas for turning a plain old knitted object into a unique creation.

You can buy the book here at a huge discount (I saw one copy for five bucks.)

On Another Note
I often get queries from folks who don't leave any way for me to contact them. If you post a question and don't hear from me, it's probably because you don't seem to have a blog, email address, or cannot hear me telepathically when I try to beam my thoughts at at you.

So Susan, to answer your question, nope, I haven't had any time to fiddle with superimposed knitting. I'd love to see what you did, but you'll need to post a blog address or something so we can all go take a peek.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Dell Experience

Excuse me folks, for not posting much last week. I've been busy with a toasted hard drive, the replacement of which has added to my already ghastly Dell Experience with my 6400 piece of junk.

It all started a year ago, when I bought a hot, new dual-core with dynamic flibbermemory, fifty glurps of RAM, and a quad-sided DVD writer that produces four-dimensional recordings.

Five minutes after I turned on the machine, I was staring at something Windows users fondly refer to as the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

This screen is, not surprisingly, a fetching shade of blue and festooned with messages such as: Bad_Pool_Header in CXOOOF4 or Your Frinmplewass lorgfoo Caused a Really Awful Crash.

Looking up the error codes on the Web was fairly useless. I was often told to modify registry settings, but then warned that doing so would make the hard drive froth or cause the entire machine to be reduced to a glowing pile of laptop molecules.

Technical service kept replacing bits, and the thing worked fitfully through the summer. It had an erratic Autumn--two new motherboards and a video card. It barely escaped a hot bubblebath during a particularly trying Day of BSOD Wrath.

Alas, just when I was getting used to actually doing some work on the thing, I came into the office on Thursday morning to discover that the hard drive had ceased to function.

When the new drive arrived Friday, I plugged it in, turned on the machine, and watched a totally new BSOD appear: Unknown Hard Error. It was followed, after numerous reboots, by other, more cryptic messages, one of which was adorned with a festive red box.

I spent most of the weekend on the telephone with Dell tech service, where I discovered that the world's best pineapple is grown in the Philippines and the weather in Delhi was very nice this winter. What I did not discover was how to fix this lemon and MAKE IT WORK.

The fourth gentleman I spoke with finally agreed that the machine should be returned to the Computer Hospital where, I was assured, they would repair the dynamic flibbermemory, give me a penta-sided DVD writer that could record in five dimensions, and actually make the thing stop giving me BSODs.

Your guess is as good as mine. In the meantime, I have been too busy poking futilely at keys and dutifully writing down error messages to do any knitting, embroidery, or eating.

I hope next week will be better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shawl Border Pickup Lines

This morning I wasted in inordinate amount picking up stitches along the sides of the Black Widow Spider King center. I read the directions about sixty times until I got the hang of the Polka Pickup (no kidding, that's what the directions called it). You are directed to pick up the stitches using a rhythm of 1, 2, 3, HOP. That is, you pick up stitches in three rows and skip the fourth row.

Depending on your dance skills and Dignity Quotient, you could also pick up stitches to Chubby Checker's Twist (1, 2, 3 TWIST), or a stately waltz (1, 2, 3, PAUSE).

I went with Chubby, but puzzled about picking up bumps or valley threads. The original directions seemed to be valley thread, yarnover, valley thread, hop, which produced a remarkably ugly line of uneven yarnovers.

In the end, I found the bump, valley thread, bump, hop/skip/jump/pause/twist rhythm gave the most even result.

I had to do an experiment, of course, to see what would happen if I picked up only bumps or only valley threads, as might be the case if I were picking up exactly one border row for every two rows knitted. This was alas, not the case for the BWSK, where I had to pick up three rows for every four knitted.

The photo below is a lovely Fleegleland lace shawl center consisting of 10 stitches and 20 rows of garter stitch with assorted holes in the center that simulate lace of astounding complexity.

On the right side, we have the bump pickup--10 bumps exactly, for 20 knitted rows. This technique produces an even, unobtrusive edge.

On the left side, we have a valley pickup--again 10 stitches. I picked up one thread in the valley, which is also called a "bar" in some lace instructions. This side came out one stitch short, so I had to fudge it, with rather mediocre results. This method also produces a row of unattractive holes on the two border sides.

I guess I am a bump fan. Hop Hop.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Heere Be Dragones Journal--Complete!

It's the size of New Jersey! Well, maybe the size of a small town in New Jersey. OK, would you believe the size of a modest pea patch in New Jersey? Actually, I have seen rice paddies smaller than this sucker--it's 7.5 feet wide and 5 feet long. No wonder knitting the edging was interminable. I'd knit for what seemed like hours, but the edging didn't seem to creep any further along the side.

Speaking of the edging, it looks nice and scaly and I much prefer it to the original border, no offense to Sharon, the designer of this masterpiece.

I intend to glitz it up a bit with some glittery red yarn and maybe a few other adornments. You can see the beady eyeball already in place, although I haven't figured out how to stabilize it yet.

It was a pleasure to knit, but I am happy it's done, so I can turn my attention back to the Black Widow Spider King. And there are several other neglected tidbits waiting for me to finish, like the Brain-Melting-Completely-Plain-Blue-Socks for my father. Every time I pick one of them up to work on, I fall instantly asleep. I did manage to stay awake long enough to turn the heels this morning, but only because I was drinking large quantities of coffee at the time.

I am also half-finished with the design for Harry's Shawl, which may be a feaure in a new Harry story that we are tinkering with.

Anyway, enjoy Dragone!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nicely Complex Sock Pattern

This pattern is just lovely. I haven't made it yet, but I thought I would share with those who might want a pattern a bit out of the ordinary.
It would look wonderful is a subtle colorway, too.

I am busily trying to finish Dragone today. There are seven edging repeats left, plus the final graft. I hope to have a picture for you tomorrow. I want to wear it, already!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Rosetta Stone to Japanese Patterns

Everyone is making unseemly noises over the Japanese pattern books I have been talking about, but most non-Japanese knitters don't much care for the fact that they are written in Japanese. So narrow-minded of them, don't you think?

The good news is that there's at least one book that was published by Nihon Vogue and translated into English. Thus, if you purchase this book, you can compare English and Japanese pattern setups and you should have a minimum of trouble figuring out how Japanese patterns in other books are presented.

Naturally, you will still have to do a little work, especially if the size you want differs from the size the Japanese pattern thinks you ought to be. But as you can see from the pictures below, the directions are really written in English! (Click on the pictures for a high-resolution view).

In the back of this book is a small, but refreshingly comprehensible, section on Japanese knitting symbols, short-rowing, and casting on/off.

If you have yen (sorry!) to dig into those Japanese books I keep posting about, you ought to invest in White Sweaters.

The patterns, as always, are elegant and attractive. Of course, the anti-boxy folks might find the lack of bust darts annoying, but you can't have everything. Japanese ladies tend to be on the slender side in all respects, so you will have to add short rows where you might need them.

There are 28 patterns, divided about equally between cables and laces. Several of them are simple enough for the advanced beginner, too.

White Sweaters is available from Lacis and Velona, among other sources such as eBay. Price is around $18.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Go Fish!

As many of you might suspect after reading about Harry, I have an entire other life that revolves around Japanese embroidery. Some of you have asked me to post some samples, so here is an embroidery that I stitched last winter. It is based on a famous drawing by Utagawa, who adored both fish and cats and made many charming sketches that included them.

I created the design below from a mouse pad purchased at the Tokyo National Museum.

(Click on the picture and wait patiently for a full-sized image).

Japanese embroidery is done entirely with silk and metal threads and is extremely demanding. Trust me--it is far more demanding than any sort of knitting, frog hair notwithstanding. It requires years of concentrated study before any work even approaches the professional level and the materials are very expensive, as well.

For these reasons, there are only about 500 people in the Western world who bother with it and surprisingly, not many more in Japan who pursue it either.

The discipline is further complicated by a lot of ugly backstabbing politics and a level of secrecy usually associated with, say NSA codebreakers or the formula for Coca Cola.

I have taken a short break from the Spider King to work on a sample for a class I will be teaching this summer. The original artwork is part of a very long and charming scroll called Frolicking Animals. The piece is attributed to the Priest Kakuyu (1053-1140), known by his honorary title, Toba Sojo.

I created this little design from a sheet of wrapping paper I bought somewhere. It was sketched in Photoshop and refined in CorelDraw, then printed directly to the fabric with an inkjet printer.

At some point, I will post the finished piece.

Jane, I do hope these little pictures take your mind off tinking the WRS and make you smile!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Black Widow Spider King Shawl--Center Completed!

Gaze upon it now, because once I have laboriously picked up all the stitches on a circular needle, you won't get to see a lot of eye candy. It will, alas, resemble Harry's sloppy web for a long time to come.

I worked out the outer border this morning, so I have a reasonable idea of what I will be doing. I think. Maybe. Ah well, that's what fudge is good for, yes? (Click on the picture to see a higher-resolution view.)

Here's a detail pix:

I have turned a corner of the Dragone shawl and will be busy finishing that before I return to the BWSK.

And for those of you who want a Harry sequel, I would be happy to write one if I could think of a story line. Here's where you can contribute to my madness!

Friday, March 2, 2007

American vs Japanese Lace Style

Harsh review follows below, people. Don't read if it you are squeamish. Note that you can click on any photo for a real-sized, detailed view.

Americans are good at inventing cool stuff, but the Japanese are expert at refining our ideas. After comparing Lace Style from the good old USA and Elegance Knit (ISBN 4-529-04273-1) from Japan, I am embarrassed to admit that the American version looks, well, not good. Well, awful, actually.

I thought the patterns in the former wobbled between ugly, pedestrian, and impractical. With considerable disappointment, I realized there wasn't a single thing in the entire book that could even approach third string on my Makes My Fingers Want to Dance with Needles knit list.

NOTE ADDED IN EDIT: Interweave Press was highly annoyed by this review and demanded I remove the images from this post. I am sure that if I had posted a glowing review, nothing would have been said. So I have done what they asked and replaced the pictures with links from other reviews where possible, or page numbers where not. They removed the pictures from their web site so I couldn't link to them. Sorry.

Nice for the under-15 crowd, of which I am not.
Under-12 might be better for two obvious
reasons that unfortunately are shown here.


What's with the weird, saggy hem?
Is she holding it up or pulling it down?
The collar looks really peculiar, flooping
around behind her head.
And wide lapels went out in the '40s.


Another one for the under-15 crowd,
especially those who are color-blind.
You just know that the collar didn't work--
it's hidden under the long hair.

On the other hand, everything in this book makes the Dance with Needles List.

Boredom would not be possible while
knitting this sweetie. What a pattern!
And look at that dainty neckline!

Another handsome pattern.
Simple sweater, but the placement
of the lace panels is perfect.
Exquisite neckline.

I don't even like cropped sweaters,
but this is an exception to the rule.
Another inspired use of pattern and trim.

Oh my.

Notice the following points in the Japanese designs:
  • The exquisite attention paid to detail around the edges. The American sweaters seem to fade out there, as if the designers just got tired of the entire process.
  • The lovely shaping--not a baggy, saggy item in the entire volume. The American sweaters are either too tight or shapeless. Feh.
  • There is no fear of complexity here, something rife in American knitting books.
  • These styles are timeless, graceful, and elegant and can be worn by any age group. American designers seem to forget that there are ladies over, say 40, who want to make sweaters for themselves.
And finally, notice that all the Japanese models have their hair tied back, so you can see the necklines. Of course, given the necklines in the American book, perhaps long hair was a better choice.

The price for the Japanese full-color book with 21 stunning patterns is $9. Budd's Lace Style also contains 21 patterns, is also paperback, and costs $24.95 (KnitPicks has it for $16.95). Even with shipping from Japan, Elegance Knit is cheaper.

I am not purposely being nasty, but I am getting tired of book reviews that pull their punches. You know what I mean. The reviewer makes nice remarks about the photography, gushes about the famous contributors, lists the projects, and then spends a few lines exclaiming about the index. Time for a change, I think.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Black Widow Spider King Shawl

I have basically discarded the original Spider Queen pattern, so, in the spirit of the original, I figured I needed to make up a story about the new design. Those who dislike fairy tales should probably close your browser window now.

A little background...

For part of every year, we live in a small town in Japan about 60 miles southeast of Tokyo. It's a family-owned company called Kurenai Kai (Crimson School) and their business is Japanese embroidery. We stay in two tiny rooms, equipped with a miniscule bathroom, a microscopic kitchen, and an Extremely Large Spider that we named Harry.

Harry is about ten inches from toe to toe and the first time we saw him, we thought we had been transported into a really bad sci-fi movie.

Harry is very smart. He knew, for example, that if he sat on the delicate rice-paper screens, we couldn't attack him, lest we end up spending hours with said delicate rice paper and glue repairing the damage. (Damage to the shoji screen--Harry is way too quick for us to inflict any damage on him).

After a few years or uneasy coexistance, we achieved a precarious balance: We would leave Harry alone to consume quantities of the ferocious mosquitos that inhabit the area, as long as he didn't prance around while we were awake.

So, in honor of Harry and his gargantuan appetite, I rename the Black Widow Spider Queen to Black Widow Spider King and tell this story of Harry...

Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away, there was a spider named Harry. Harry lived in the dormitory of a Japanese embroidery workshop, where the occupants all created lovely works of art on silk fabric.

The problem was, no matter how hard Harry tried, he just couldn't get the hang of embroidery. (You can see where this story is going now, right?)

All the other Kurenai Kai spiders would spend their days busily stitching away at tiny obi and teeny kimono using spider silk and gold thread snitched from the main workshop. But every time Harry picked up a needle and tried to embroider, the head of the workshop would come by and say "Take it out."

Harry spent most of his time in the workshop taking out what he stitched. Then he would go into the dormitory bathroom and sniffle.

All the other spiders made fun of him.

"Harry's a failure!" "Harry's a loser! "Harry can't stitch his way out of a rice cooker!"

One day, a strange-looking couple moved into the rooms attached to the bathroom. They unpacked all their belongings and left for dinner.

Harry strolled around the room, poking at the odd stuff the strangers had left behind. What, for example, was Peanut Butter and why were there four huge jars of it in the kitchen?

Harry stuck a leg into the open jar. Fifteen minutes later, he was still trying to remove the peanut butter from his leg hairs when he spied a basket full of stringy stuff in the corner of the other room.

He scuttled over to the basket and crawled onto a large ball of thin, silky, thread. "Hey, he said to himself," This is almost as nice as spider silk." He yanked out a length and started playing with it.

The door opened and the strange couple came back into the room. They stared at Harry. Harry stared at them. Everyone screamed.

Harry quickly retreated to the bathroom and hid in the light fixture (a tight squeeze).

After a few minutes, Harry peered around the doorframe. One of the humans was doing something peculiar with a circular thingie and the silky thread. As Harry watched, a lovely fabric began to emerge from the circular thingie.

"That's cool," Harry thought. "I wonder if I could do that?"

Fortunately for Harry, the laptop computer on the table contained a formidable compendium of knitting information. It wasn't too difficult for Harry to hop up and down on the PageDown key once he got the hang of loading files into Adobe Acrobat.

"This doesn't look too complicated," he thought. "I just need one of those circular thingies (a 1" circular needle would do). Plenty of yarn here."

Harry scrabbled around Kurenai Kai and decided he could make a decent circular with a short length of soba noodle coated with rice glue and two embroidery needles filched from the workshop.

It wasn't the greatest needle ever made, but he managed a nice scarf with it.

All the other spiders wanted a scarf too. It gets really cold at Kurenai Kai in the winter. They started looking at Harry with a bit more respect. After all, scarves were warm. Kimono were merely uncomfortable.

Some of the other spiders tried knitting scarves and such, but they just couldn't get the hang of it. It took several hours to calm down Kumoko-san after she accidently knitted her leg fur into her Noni bag.

Pretty soon Harry had made some other needles out of bamboo slivers and nylon thread he found in the office and was busily knitting sweaters, hats, and socks. Too bad he needed 8 socks for each set. This got tiresome. And he never really got the hang of turning a heel for a spider foot.

He started flipping through some of the knitting books lying around the room. "Hey," he said "I really like this shawl. The center area could pass for a handsome web."

And he started knitting the center of the shawl. It looked pretty good. In fact, the other spiders thought he was making a new web (His old one was getting tattered at this point, as he spent so much time knitting, he was neglecting his housekeeping).

When he finished the center, he stepped back (way back) to admire it.

"Not bad for a first attempt." he thought. "Of course, I changed a few things around. The original designer didn't have a clue about arachnid society or goverment. She thinks we have a Spider King who hits on fairies. Geez."

Then he sighed. "I don't care much for those borders. The first border looks like a spider-munching bird."

"And the outside one makes me a bit seasick."

At that moment, one of the other spiders came into the room to remind him that it was his day to babysit all the young Kurenai Kai spiders.

He spent most of the afternoon preventing 2456 bouncing baby spiders from becoming lunch for some really hungry-looking crows.

Exhausted, he retreated to the bathroom light fixture for a short nap. When he awoke, he saw one of the humans doing something on the computer with graph paper.

"That doesn't look too difficult," he thought. "I'll get those baby spiders to pose for the inner border." After an intensive lecture about discipline, honor, and respect for their elders, he lined up about 40 of the kids and started knitting the first shawl border.

Harry also graphed the border and stored it on the laptop. And he made a hard copy with flyspecks on the bathroom ceiling. The strange couple might take the laptop away and he hadn't had a chance to travel to Akihabara and buy one for himself.

As he knitted away on the inner border, he starting thinking about the outer one. Clearly, it was way too much trouble to knit from a pattern of live spiders--they kept hopping around and demanding fly snacks every ten seconds--so he decided to design a border that incorporated artistic web designs.

Some of his friends and neighbors were way talented that in that respect. Harry's web, alas, was strictly functional. And to tell the truth, half the time, his lunch fell on the floor and scuttled away.

He spent several weeks roaming around town with his minicam, snapping pictures of interesting webwork. After uploading the images to the laptop, he fooled around with Photoshop, and in a few hours had a handsome outer border design.

Harry decided to model the edging after the soba noodle that was sacrificed for his first circular needle.

Pretty soon, Harry's shawl was being admired at the Wednesday Show and Tell that the workshop spiders held to review their previous week's work.

The head of the workshop, Yamakumo-san, decided Harry needed more recognition. "Harry," he said, "It's time to include your knitting in our annual exhibit along with the obi, kimono, and handbags."

Harry spent an entire year knitting masterpieces the like of which had never been seen in Japan (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Knitted kimono!

Knitted Noh masks!

Knitted landscapes...

And a three-dimensional treasure ship that was entirely seaworthy. All the spiders at Kurenai Kai took a cruise on the Sumida River one New Year's evening on Harry's takarubune.

Harry's fame grew and grew, and pretty soon, he was winning awards everywhere.

Harry soon established his own workshop, acquired hordes of apprentices, became a National Treasure, and lived happily ever after. And it all started with the Black Widow Spider King shawl, which he hung in a place of honor in his office.

The End.