Friday, December 28, 2007

Shameless Commerce

Ever since I received my very first Kodak Brownie camera, I've been snapping photos. Every few years, I treat myself to a new one, which means the old one needs to find a new home. I recently purchased a Canon SD 950 IS to replace my faithful Canon SD 500, shown here with Cheeto affectionately clutching her strap.

The camera is feeling lonely and miserable, and asked me to query my readers and see if anyone would like to take her in. As she pointed out, she's been all over the world and never failed to take glorious photos. (You can read a review of this truly excellent camera here).

She will go to the highest bid over $100 and she comes with an extra battery and an endearing disposition. Cheeto, alas, is not included.

If you are interested, email me at fleeglemail at aol dot com.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Booty!

Well, actually, Booties! Rubber puddlersplashers! They go perfectly with the slippers I received from Kyoko-san for my birthday.

Sue, at Little Knits, supplied the yarn for stash enhancement presents.

A bit of gorgeous Trenna...

Some soft angora from Fly Designs...

And a skein of Little Knit's own Indie II cashmere/silk.

My major gift, though, may seem a bit weird for a knitter. Ever since I can remember, my crochet hook collection, inherited from a variety of ancestors, resided in the tatty case shown on the left in the photo below. The hooks are old (some of them bone and ivory), but most of them have the thin steel handles that make my hands hurt. I don't do a lot of crochet work, but when I do, I have to stop every few minutes to rest. Finishing Lyra, what with zillions of crochet chains, was a miserable experience.

As of now, the old set (with a few exceptions) is on the way to Goodwill, having been replaced by the spiffy roll (courtesy of Etsy stores) shown on the right.

here's the entire set:

And the fat, hand-crafted handles are covered with colorful flowers, bugs, and butterflies...

And finally, a perfect necklace for a knitting fiend:

For some reason, the makers didn't see fit to etch the needle sizes next to the appropriate holes....we'll take it to a jeweler and have it engraved. Guess I'll have the jeweler inlay some extravagant gemstones into the sterling silver surface, too. (Just kidding, Dear!).

As a timely bonus, I received a Thank You gift from a friend in England. A skein of Suzanne's Sockenwolle, a little tin of hand cream, some adorable sheep stitch markers, elegant buttons, a lovely handmade shawl pin/hair stick/oil level tester (Just kidding, Hazel!), and a handmade Russian doll pin.

Stay tuned for the amazing knitted eggs, later this week.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Knitting 2008

For those of you who want to get a jump-start on next year's holiday knitting, here's a cool gift! No yardage or gauge is given, but let's just assume that you'll need more than a garage-full. Cashmere would be a nice touch, don't you think?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Current Knitting

Most of my favorite bloggers have been generating an alarming quantity of knitted goods this week. I am almost embarrassed to show you what I've been doing, but figured the overproducers can snicker as they soak their aching hands in warm grits. Or whatever passes for warm grits wherever you live.

I started another pair of formal socks for Roy, but as I was finished the toe increases, he decided what he really needed was a pair of mittens. No problem--a few more increases, no heel, and a thumb--and the foot covers morphed in hand covers. Or, in the case of Larry here, arm covers.

I have been quite diligent about the Patons shawl. The yarn is fabulous, the colors fabulous, and the pattern is pretty fabulous too.

I am also working on a strange little project that has been loosely named the International Shawl by the four participating collaborators. The concept is that each section of the shawl (center, inner border, outer border, and edging) is supposed to derive from a different country.

The chosen center is the one on page 64 of Naoko Ichida's Knitted Lace Designs Book 2--a compilation of Niebling treasures. I am at row 60 or so, but because everything is squished onto a circular needle, it photographed poorly. When I have more to show you, I'll try to work it off onto a larger needle and take an eye-candy photo. I can't figure out if the center design counts as Japanese or German...

All of us here at chez fleegle intend to have a lovely holiday and hope that all of you do too! I am sure I will have some goodies to flaunt in the next post (there are some suspiciously squashy packages in the pile...Cool!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yarnival, December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope the next few weeks bring you delicious food, presents filled with knitterly happiness, and the stamina to face yet another year of casting on, frogging, and staring hopelessly at Internet pages crammed full of expensive yarn.

Some Yarnivals have themes, but I couldn't come up with brilliant, cohesive topic. Consequently, this Yarnival is basically a little bag of stocking stuffers. I had a wonderful time compiling these entries, and I do hope you have an equally entertaining time reading them.

Tooling Along

I read this incredible story a few months ago, and still can’t believe that anyone could be so driven to produce the perfect, complete, set of Hybrid Mutant Ninja Interchangeable Knitting Needles. I am profoundly envious--my father was a man of many talents, but he had trouble differentiating one end of a screwdriver from the other.

Most of us cherish Colourmart with their mouth-watering range of inexpensive cashmere, but the cones of yarn can be awkward to work with. Z’s Momma solves this problem by inventing an inexpensive cone holder and posted instructions on how to make one for about eight bucks.

Like many knitters, I tend to scratch directions, tips, and modifications into a little notebook, where they promptly lose themselves amidst a forest of similar scribblings. For those of us with less-than ideal note-making skills, Kathryn Ivy presents well-organized, handsome journal templates for both knitting and crochet.

One of the standard items in my knitting bag is a crochet hook—invaluable for picking up stitches, binding off, making picots and bobbles, and snaring little onions out of mixed drinks. Girl On The Rocks is never without one, thanks to her nifty keychain crochet hook.

Don't put away the needle-nosed pliers quite yet. After you've finished making the mini-hook, you can wander over to Turtle Girl's blog, where she shows you how to make a customized row counter, using a few beads and an hour’s work.

Like sewing? Have a disorganized straight needle collection? Craftster shows you how to convert a used hardback book into a handsome needle holder. She used an old physics textbook and the results are unquestionably unique. The fact that you cheerfully tear the book apart makes me wish I had saved my much-despised organic chemistry text from college. Who knew?

Hate sewing? Have a disorganized circular needle collection? Check out pieknits’ no-sew circular needle holder. It’s cute and easy to rig from empty thread spools. Of course, if you hate sewing, you might not have any empty thread spools...

Like sewing? Need something to hold your knitting and all the other stuff you just made? UHandbag shows you how to make a pop-open/spring shut 14” tote with a useful little accessory pocket.

Photographing your work, be it proto-kitting, knitting, or a finished piece, can be difficult. A lightbox makes it a lot easier to take accurate pictures of your stuff. Professional light boxes are expensive, but LollyKnittingAround explains how to make a portable lightbox for less than $20.

Strobist uses a similar light box and explains how to use it for taking exquisitely detailed macro photographs.

A Few How-To's

The Experimental Knitter gives us a new, simple, elastic cast-on particularly appropriate for Guernsey sweaters. Best of all, it doesn't require a long tail.

Now that you've cast on, perhaps you want to embellish the fabric a bit. FluffyKnitterDeb’s wonderful beading tutorial shows you how to easily add beads with a crochet hook, so you don’t have to string trillions of little tiny beady things before you actually start knitting.

BadCat also has a wonderful beading tutorial on the same topic, complete with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

And if you have finally completed your fabulous shawl, well, somebody actually submitted one of my own posts! How could I not include it, seeing as how this is my Yarnival? My faithful readers will already have blasted past this entry. The rest of you (fleegle who?), especially those to whom grafting is either a mystery or a nightmare, can check out my incredibly frothy description of Grafting for Dummies, complete with visuals of goofing up.

If you have a teeny-tiny doily pattern you adore and want to see it Writ Really Large, The Doily Underground gives an exhaustive analysis of doily-to-afghan conversions.

And speaking of lace (but also applicable to any knitting), MimKnits has a superb set of lessons on directional decreases. She shows numerous examples of yarnover/decrease placement, so you can see the visual effects of the variations. And once you finish reading Part 1, do go through the rest of her tutorials. They are all terrific.

Those who read my blog will understand that Harry, the Giant Knitting Spider, couldn't help but contribute a post about mending webs with yarn. Harry was also thrilled with Nina Katchadourian's Advertising Kit for Spiders, which allows him to integrate ads for karaoke machines and spicy cocktail onions (his favorite snack food) into his remarkably sloppy web.

Great (and Not So Great) Yarns

Fiber Fool clearly spends a lot of time knitting socks, and she has written an excellent, detailed comparative review of eight popular sock yarns. The sample socks are a bit of eye-candy, too!

Want to recycle an old sweater? Neauveau tells you how here. Frogging can be fun, especially if you use your future ex's knitted clothing!

Tired of knitting with ordinary yarn? Yearning to dabble in new media? Knit some marzipan, for a change. The results are amazing! And edible! First check our VeganYumYum's incredible cupcakes here, then motor on to her how-to tutorial here.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, be aware that Ramen noodles make a splendid substitute for yarn. Watch the video and entertain yourself and your friends the next time you are in a Ramen restaurant.


If you are bored at work (or anywhere, for that matter), you can indulge in a bit of Knitting Boggle, courtesy of The Purloined Letter.

Double Helix obviously spent a lot of time defining variations of the humble swatch. Her lexicon is hilarious.

There’s no pattern here, but as the wife of a retired police lieutenant, I did enjoy this bit of knitted eye-candy.

And finally, if you are getting older and grayer by the second, rejoice! Go Knit In Your Hat has designed the retirement community of your dreams: Purlin’ Acres. Please do not apply for a few months, while I work my application over. Frankly, I wouldn't mind moving there now.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saartje's Fleeglized Bootie

These adorable booties are the invention of a clever Dutch knitter named Saartje. They were irresistible, until I read the directions. Urk! Seams! And zillions of ends, too, whine.

Then I got to thinking that the pattern would be easy enough to adapt to the Fleegle Seamless Method. Here's an alternate method of knitting these little cuties. (The original pattern can be found here.)

Note: I emailed her twice asking for permission to post this altered the pattern, but she never answered me. I tried.

Note Again: Instructions are given for working on two circulars. DPN folks can easily convert to 5 sticks.

Cast on 31 stitches using the Turkish cast-on--15 stitches on needle 1 and 16 stitches on needle 2. I actually just cast on 30 stitches (15 loops), then made an extra loop on the second needle to get the stitch count correct.

Knit across the first needle only. You are now at the beginning of the rounds. You can place a marker, or just use the yarn dangle to indicate the beginning of the rounds.

Row 1: P15, place marker (pm), P1, pm, P15 (Because the marker business falls at the beginning of the needle, I moved a few stitches from the first needle to the second so the marker wouldn't fall off and the increases didn't occur at the very beginning of the second needle).

Row 2: Knit in the back and front of first stitch (kbf), knit to marker, make 1 using a backwards loop (m1), K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (3 stitches between markers)

Row 3: Purl

Row 4: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K3, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (5 stitches between markers)

Row 5: Purl

Row 6: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K1, m1, K3, m1, K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (9 stitches between markers)

Row 7: Purl

Row 8: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K1, m1, K7, m1, K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (13 stitches between markers)

Rows 9-18: garter stitch, that is purl 1 row, knit 1 row

Row 19: Purl. Change color here if desired.

Row 20: K15, SSK 5x, K1, K2Tog 5x, K15

Row 21: Purl
Row 22: Knit
Row 23: Purl

Row 24: Knit 10, turn, cast on 10 by knitting on*, Knit 20, Purl 31, turn.
Here you can see the finished cast-on stitches for the first strap. Instructions for the cast-on are at the end of this post.

Row 25: Bind off 21 purlwise, cast on 10.

Row 26: P20, K20.
With a crochet hook, slip-stitch in the first stitch of the row below, chain 6 (to make a button loop), and put the end of the chain loop back on the left needle.

Bind off 20 stitches knitwise, 20 stitches purlwise.

With a crochet hook, slip-stitch in the first stitch of the row below, chain 6 (to make a button loop), and put the end of the chain loop back on the left needle and slip-stitch the two stitches together. Cut yarn, pull through loop and finally...

Weave in ends.

*To cast-on via knitting on, insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, knit through it normally, but don't drop the stitch.

Instead, return the loop to the left needle (1 stitch made). Insert the right needle between the first and second stitch on the left needle, knit and put the loop back on the left needle (another stitch made).

Repeat 8 more times. You should have 10 new stitches on the needle and be in position to resume knitting the next row.

Have fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Seams to me...

...are an incredible bore. Invariably, when I see a pattern I like, my eyes flow first to the bottom of the page. If I see the dreaded words "Sew seam..." or worse, "Sew seams..." I examine the pattern carefully to see if I can alter it so the last line reads: "Weave in ends."

Thus, when I was bitten by the Bootie Bug and plowed through dozens of adorable patterns, all of which ended with "Sew seams...", I figured there Had To Be A Better Way.

And of course there is. The techniques are adapted from my toe-up sock pattern and will work for many patterns that require endless (and useless) seaming. Any pseudobag-shaped object can be adapted to the Fleegle Seamless Method (FMS for short). For example, I have an adorable pattern for a Shaun the Sheep mobile. Every sheeplet requires at least one seam, but by applying the FMS to these objects, most of the seams are history.

The two examples I will present are both booties, but once you have tried it once, FMS is obvious and you can gleefully apply it to all sorts of things. The directions given here use two circular needles, but of course DPN fans can adapt it to five sticks.

The first pattern is for my seamless bottom-up bootie. I know I promised you guys this pattern last summer, but other things took precedence (translation: Writing patterns is not my favorite thing.)

Fleegle's Seamless Bottom-Up Booties

Cast on 36 stitches using the Turkish cast-on. You will have 18 stitches on each needle.

Knit the first needle. You are now at the beginning of the rounds. You can place a marker, or just use the yarn dangle to indicate the beginning of the rounds.

*Purl 1 round
kbf (Knit in the back and front of the stitch), knit to last stitch, kbf*

Repeat these two rounds 5 more times--60 stitches, 30 on each needle.

Work 10 more rounds of garter stitch--K 1 row, P 1 row.

On the last purl row, place a marker 5 stitches before the end of the first needle and another marker 5 stitches after the beginning of the second needle as shown here (click on the picture for clearer text):

Rearrange Stitches

Sorry to go all Cat Bordhi on you here. This step isn't absolutely necessary, but you will find it easier to work the toe-turning business if you rearrange the stitches.

We will designate the first needle as the instep needle and the second needle as the heel needle.

Place a different colored marker at the beginning of the second needle (now the heel needle) to mark the beginning of rows.

Move the first 12 stitches from the first (instep) needle to the heel needle.

Move the last 13 stitches on the heel needle to the first (instep) needle.

The instep needle should have 13 stitches, a marker, 10 stitches, a marker, 13 stitches.

The heel needle has 12 stitches, the beginning-of-round marker, 12 stitches.

Your bootie should now look something like this:

Notice that the working yarn is in the center of the heel needle. Knit across the 12 remaining stitches on the heel needle, then knit 23 stitches on the instep needle. You are on the far side of the instep.

Turn Toe

k3 tog tbl (through the back loop), turn, sl (slip) 1
p9, p3 tog
turn, sl 1

* k10 k3 tog tbl
turn, sl 1
p10, p3 tog *

repeat from * to * 4 more times

k10, k3 tog tbl
Do not turn. continue knitting across heel needle.

When you get around to the instep needle, k3 together, then knit around to beginning marker.

Your bootie should now look something like this:


Booties are notorious for falling off tiny feet. You can help them stay on by knitting an eyelet row, through which you can thread a ribbon, I-cord, string, rubber band, or tiny handcuffs.

Optional eyelet row:

*k1, YO, k2 tog* repeat from * to * end.

At this point, you can do anything you like. In the example shown here, I used the following pattern:

Rounds 1 and 3: Knit
Round 2: * K2, yo K2, pass the yo over the 2 stitches just knitted* repeat from * to end
Round 4: * yo K2, pass the yo over the 2 stitches just knitted, K2 * repeat from * to end

And here are two delicate little ribbing patterns that I also use frequently:

Little Ribbing #1

rows 1-3: k2 p2
row 4: k2tog, O, P2

Little Ribbing #2

R1: p2,k3
R2:p2, sl1k2 psso
R3: p2,k1,yo,k1
R4: p2,k3

In my next post, I will give you the pattern for fleeglized Sartjee booties. These were a bit of a challenge, but they were so cute (and had so many seams and ends to weave in) that I just couldn't resist simplifying the pattern.

RAK and Roll, Guys!

Sherri, whom most of us know from frequenting the Loopy Ewe yarn store, is sponsoring a Random Acts of Kindness drawing. Post a RAK on her blog every Monday during the month of December and you will be eligible for a prize drawing--a $75 of Loopy Ewe goodie bag.

Having delighted in all your comments, dear readers, I know that each of you probably does more than one RAK a week (leaving a comment on my blog definitely qualifies!). So please enter her drawing by posting your RAK here. In these rather unsettled times, it's also a pleasure to read some good news for a change.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lyra Complete! (sniffle)

There are some projects that never seem to end and others that end too soon. When the final stitch of this incomparable design fell of my needles, I felt truly bereft.

There will be other Nieblings in the future, assuming I can get Harry to lend me a few patterns, but I wonder if I will achieve the rapture I experienced knitting this design.

For those of you who tuned in late, the yarn used was Yarn Place's inestimable Gentle (Dark Ruby) on #2.5 needles. I did not change needle size and I still cannot figure out the reference to the "binding" that is supposed to occur at the bottom of the leaves. Gentle's stretchiness probably absorbed whatever distortion might be evident with a less elastic yarn.

The finished size is 52"-squareish.

One word of warning about the yarn--it bled a lot. Even three rinsings with citric acid (don't care for the smell of vinegar) didn't stop the red from streaming out of the shawl. I don't really care, as both the yarn and the color were fabulous, but probably don't want to wear this over a white dress in a rainstorm. Fortunately, except for my wedding gown, I don't own a white dress and I don't think I will be getting married again any time soon.

P.S.: If you decide to knit this, buy LOTS of pins for blocking!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lovely, Lacy Shawl

After all that dying, drying, and winding, the actual knitting seems like an anticlimax. Here's a little bit of the shawl for you to admire:

And a close-up:

The pattern is called either Lovely, Lacy Shawl or Paton's Heirloom Shawl, depending on which list you are reading, I mostly like the original design, which required only a few, minor changes--the yarn, the color, the border, and the edging. The upper part of the shawl is indeed lovely, but the finished edge, as written, doesn't do justice to the rest of the design.

Amazingly, this pattern is a freebie--you can find it here. The Web version is written out and is fraught with errors. The errata page is available here, but is depressingly incomplete. I would urge anyone who wants to actually knit this to search out the pattern book, Patons Wrap It Up (500942), which, unlike the Web version, has charts (that also sport numerous errors). There are lots of sources for this pattern book on the Web--just google Wrap It Up 500942 and pick your supplier.

Good news for intermediate lace knitters--the original was worked with fingering yarn, making the shawl an excellent, non-squinting project. The pattern is somewhat complex, but not impossible, and so far, is not the least bit tedious (unlike the Princess border). My joy in knitting this one is compounded by the luxurious yarn...I stop frequently just to pet the knitting.

Be warned that the errors are fairly serious ones, requiring you to, um, make it work. They aren't simply typos, so if you decide to tackle the piece, be prepared to wing it where the stitch counts are just plain wrong.

LLS is similar to the infamous Triinu shawl, the pattern for which is overpriced and under-explanatory. A beautiful version can be seen here. An,erm, interesting WIP (Warning! Sunglasses Alert!) can be viewed here.

Personally, I like the Paton design better, although I kinda like Triinu's border, which is similar to the Mediterrean Shawl border in Gathering of Lace. I also have my eye on the border for Marianne Kinzel's Rose of England tea cloth for the final touch on the LLS.

By the time I finish, the shawl will probably bear the same resemblance to the original as The Black Window Spider King does to The Spider Queen, but hey, that's half the fun for all of us--especially me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Dyed and Went to Heaven

Sometimes I start with a pattern, sometimes an idea. A few months ago, I had a picture in my mind of a warm, graceful, shawl in very pale blue, blue-green, and blue-violet. Although I shopped like a determined professional, I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, and finally admitted failure--I would have to dye the yarn myself.

I wanted something between, say, Zephyr and fingering weight, something luxuriously soft. After rummaging through my stash, I decided on Shakun's (a.k.a.China Cashmere) 2-ply silk/cashmere, mainly because I had a lot of it in white. (The reason why I suffer from an over-abundance of 2-ply silk/cashmere was explained in the previous post.)

I hate dying yarn. I hate the smell, the mess, the drippy, stringy, floppy skeins. However, I am well-acquainted with the process, having spent years studying color and dying--both natural and unnatural. Believe it or not, I used to crawl around the woods scraping lichen off woodsy objects and grinding poisonous little insects into red powder. After several years of this silliness, I threw Nature in the trash and invested in little bottles of premixed Jacquard dyes plus a nice set of food-coloring paste.

Being now forbidden to lift anything heavier than a grape (well, a bunch of grapes), I had to design a dying system that minimized neck stress.

It occurred to me that instead of using a heavy pot that had to be shlepped to the sink, the stove, the sink, the stove, ad nauseum, I could just use my twin stainless steel sinks and heat the water with an immersion coil. This concept worked out fantastically. I didn't have to lift anything but the yarn, and it was easy to push the skeins aside to drain the sink for soaking and rinsing.

I suspended the skeins on wooden thingies (parts of a Japanese embroidery frame, actually) and rested them on stacks of cat food cans (on the left) and a small cooler (on the right). I put the dye in the sink, raising and lowering the yarn by adding cans of cat food to the stack and situating the other end of the wooden bars on parts of the cooler.

When I had enough of one color, I raised the yarn, drained the sink, refilled with clear water, and added the next bit of dye.

Towards the end, I immersed all the skeins and added vinegar as a fixative, rinsed, and dried.

In the next post, you'll get to see this lovely stuff transforming into a warm, graceful shawl.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Cheap Cashmere (Sorry!)

For several years, I have been buying 2-ply cashmere/silk from Shakun and for some reason, never thought to mention this company before. This particular yarn is the base for the much of the stuff you see in the US, for example, Jade Sapphire's Cashmere Silk. I've knit luxurious socks with it and just dyed some for my next project.

Shakun is also, apparently, the source for JoJoLand's lovely merino/cashmere sock yarn. Fortunately, Shakun sell it in white--the colorways are a bit unsubtle for my taste.

They has a teensy eBay store, which usually has one or two offerings a week and more recently, offer a website that struts their entire range of luxury yarns. They sell a wide variety of silks, cashmere, camel, soy, bamboo, mohair, and mixtures at very reasonable prices, but you must order a minimum of one pound of yarn. For example, two 2-ounce, 200-yard skeins of their 2-ply silk cashmere costs $12. I just checked the price of a dyed Jade Sapphire skein: those 4 ounces will set you back $33.

Buy yourself a pound of Shakun's for $48 and dye it yourself. I strongly suggest you request their catalog of knitting yarns, as well. Their 4-ply cashmere can be had in colors, most of which are, alas, rather garish.

Now, let's move on to their so-called weaving yarns. We would call them lace yarns, and I am sorry to tell you that they have every single combination of cashmere with or without silk, cotton, wool, and camel in any weight you might want. Some of them come in 72 colors. And you can create your own mixture and color to order. For example, if you just adore 65% cashmere, 25% silk, 10% camel in a 45/3 weight, you can request the mixture and have it custom-dyed, too.

The bad news is that the minimum order is 1 kilogram. I can't see that I would ever want 2.2 pounds of any of their lace yarns, but I urge those who are professional yarn dyers to check these folks out as suppliers. If there is such a thing as lace-yarn cooperative buying groups, they should also take note of Shakun's wares.

As is always the case, shipping will be expensive for small orders, so stock up!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Bit of Princess

My coral Diva cash/silk finally arrived and I managed to eke my way through two repeats. I am having difficulty memorizing the pattern, so I have to keep my nose glued to to diagram for each row. Bummer.

I was amazed to read that someone could knit a repeat in 20 minutes--it takes me about an hour to do the set of twenty rows.

Notice the green thread running up the right side of the picture--that's my vertical lifeline. No way I am going to pick up 800+ stitches. Thanks to the vertical lifeline, all I will need to do is run a needle through the bumps--no squinting and counting required. I'll add the extra 15 stitches on the next row.

The green thread at the bottom is the waste yarn for grafting. It's actually Row 20, that is, the last row of the repeat. When I get around to the other end, I'll knit Row 20 again in waste yarn, then use the live yarn to graft the two waste yarn rows together, forming a real Row 20.

Two repeats down, 82 to go...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Two Little Gifts for You

Part of the fun of blogging is finding obscure, cool knitting-related thingies and being able to tell you about them. A few years ago, I purchase some adorable stitch markers from Arlyna. I hadn't heard from her in a long time, but this morning, I got an email from her.

Please visit her shop--you will be delighted by the odd and clever straight needles, markers, counting bracelets, bags, totes, and needle pouches--all at exceptionally reasonable prices.

This year she is offering a few nice-quality yarns, as well (No, I haven't ordered any).

I love grazing around her store, and I know you will too. She also offers gift certificates, so you can send the link to your SO and then pick what you want at your leisure. Do use the coupon code f20b1d for a $5 discount at checkout (good until February 1, 2008).

The second gift is a must-have for knitters everywhere. It's an eloquent button you can place on your blog or website, or even adapt to a t-shirt. I have no idea who originated the button, but whoever you are, Kudos!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Amazing Needle?

For those of us who have bags, boxes, vases, baskets, and rolls filled with knitting needles, crochet hooks, and tatting shuttles, you can apparently toss all of them away and buy a set of these instead. With this single gizmo, you can knit, crochet, and tat, apparently al att the same time, without having the hassle of locating just the right circular, straight, dpn, crochet hook, or tatting shuttle.

Somebody has to order one and make a report. I, erm, am frantically busy searching for that 14" size 2 circular with the pointy tips.

p.s. Still looking for Yarnival submissions! Click here and send me something fascinating or educational so everyone can share.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

fleegle's Yarnival

Yarnival is, for want of a better description, a floating magazine. Originated by Eve at The Needle Exchange, it is hosted and posted once a month by different guest editors. Each Issue is composed of editorial bits that stitch together cool, diverse blog post submissions. Yarnvals are fun to browse and will introduce you to new blogs and fresh ideas--good for both instruction and entertainment.

You can google Yarnival, or browse through a few back issues such as these:

The Very First Yarnival
January, 15 2007 Yarnival
May 15, 2007 Yarnival

As you might suspect (if you've read this far) fleegle will be hosting Yarnival for the month of January, 08. And she is groveling for submissions to make this issue an unforgettable experience that thousands will cherish for years to come. (I have a bit of over-achiever in me somewhere...)

So what I would like all you lovely readers to do is submit links to nifty, interesting, clever, hilarious, and unique blog posts so my Yarnival will have some interesting, clever, hilarious, and unique content (besides my pithy and elegant editorializing, that is). Swooningly beautiful is good, too.

To submit, go to this address...

...and just fill in the blanks. It will only take a few minutes and is really painless. Honest.

Many Yarnivals have themes (Valentine's Day Knitting, Sock Knitting, etc)., but I couldn't think of any dazzling themic concept. Do keep the submissions yarn-esque, with an emphasis on (surprise!) knitting.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Current and Future Knitting

What with all the swatching and illuminated yarn posts, I'll bet you guys thought I wasn't actually doing any knitting-related work. Well I have, and I also spent three days dying yarn for another project that I will talk about in another post.

Panache Sweater
I was rootling around in my yarn stash the other day and ran across 14 balls of KnitPicks Panache. It's a bulky yarn (40% baby alpaca, 20% cashmere, 20% silk, 20% extrafine merino) that they no longer carry. Too bad--it has a fabulously soft hand and excellent stitch definition.

It felt so nice that I yanked it out of my stash drawer (leaving a nice big hole to fill) and made this, with the design help of my KnitWare program:

The sweater is patterned after an old Annie Blatt design that I made 30 years ago. I never wore it--they yarn turned out to be too itchy for me--and I had to give it away. I made quite a few changes from the original--different gauge, yarn, ribbing, collar...but it's the same color and the puffed moss-stitch sleeves follow the original concept.

At 4.5 spi, it only took a week of pickup knitting to finish. I loved everything about the yarn except the quality control. Each ball of 68 yards had at least two knots. And these weren't your common tied variety either--the ends were glued together. Never encountered glue globs in yarn before.

I reserve the early mornings for complicated knitting, and for the past month or so, have been working on Niebling's Lyra. This morning, I hit row 113. Of course, you can't see anything pretty in this red blob, but I assure you that it looks really cool when I hold it up to the light!

As always, I have a pair of plain socks for car knitting. These will be dress socks for Roy, which will go nicely with his tuxedo, assuming he gets around to buying one. The yarn is Adirondack Soxie--I don't remember what colorway.

Never Enough Nieblings
Finally, I started thinking about my next Niebling. Unfortunately, Harry is thinking about his next Niebling. This means that all the patterns are in a drawer under the waterbed, which Harry has fitted out as a luxury apartment, complete with an electronic lock that only responds to his legprint.

He emailed me a short list of choices and a long list of yarn that he wanted. As always, his choices are impeccable.

Lotus Flower


Pomegranate and Palm

Harry told me that he gets first choice, but I am welcome to choose one of his rejects and any yarn that he has tossed out of his apartment. How did this happen to me, reduced to groveling for patterns and knitting leftovers?

Fortunately, Harry knows nothing about the Princess shawl, as he has been immersed in decorating his apartment, ordering expensive food items from Balducci's, and scaring the figlets out of the UPS guy. Princess is mine, all mine!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Gossamer Yarn Analysis

For those of you who tuned in late, a few days ago I knitted four swatches of gossamer yarns on size #0 needles and blocked them. I then examined them for visual appeal, as well as a flimsy/dense appearance.

I was rather surprised at the results, and, given the answers I received on the last blog post, you guys are going to be really surprised.

Here's the picture again.

And here are the answers:

Upper left: Heirloom Gossamer merino (48/2)
Upper right: Yarn Place Angel (48/3)
Bottom left: Yubina cashmere (45/3)
Bottom right: Colourmart cash/silk (45/3)

The Holy Grail Heirloom Gossamer Merino basically flunked this swatch test. Only 1 person picked it as the most visually appealing and 4 people thought it was the heaviest.

Thirteen people picked the Yubina cash/silk as the finest (only 2 people liked it best), but it has the exact same NM number (45/3) as the Colourmart cash/silk on the bottom right. Technically both the Yubina and Colourmart yarns are 30% heavier than Heirloom's Gossamer Merino.

Note: I had to calculate Yubina's number from the information given on their website, that is, 800 yards/50 grams. I teased apart the yarn and counted 3 plies, ending up with the 45/3 NM value.

Ten people, including myself, chose Colourmart's cash/silk as their favorite and 5 people thought it was the heaviest, probably because it is the fuzziest (and softest, too).

One person picked Yarn Place's Angel as the heaviest; 1 person thought it was the finest. Five people chose it as the most pleasing. It was definitely the most pleasing to knit--springy and forgiving. I wish Yarn Place would stock more shawl-appropriate colors. Would anyone knit a fine Shetland shawl in dark gray or tangerine? There's not even any white offered so you can dye it yourself.

Now for some more fun and games. Here's a list of the published yards/pound for each of these yarns:

Heirloom Gossamer Merino: 11811
Yarn Place Angel: 8423
Yubina cash/silk: 7264
Colourmart cash/silk: 7264

I whipped out my trusty McMorran balance, which let's you easily calculate the yards/pound of any yarn using just a small sample. (You can read about the balance here.) It is not the most precise tool in the universe--figure within 10% of true, although Siva Harding reports that she got accurate measurements by stretching the yarns slightly as she measured.

Here are my yards/pound results from the McMorran balance (I weighed all of these twice):

Heirloom Gossamer Merino: 9750
Yarn Place Angel: 8500
Yubina cash/silk: 7750
Colourmart cash/silk: 7000

And here are my conclusions (for what they are worth):

1. Apparent yarn weight is more a measure of how tightly the yarn is spun, rather than the published NM number. Both Yubina and Colourmart yarns are 45/3 cash/silk. The Yubina yarn is very tightly spun, the Colourmart yarn is much fluffier.

2. Visual and tactile appeal are more important than published NM numbers. Most people chose the visually heaviest yarn as their favorite and disliked the stringy appearance of the Yubina. (Clearly, the Yubina yarn is so thin that it would benefit, as one reader suggested, from being worked on a #00 needle.) I personally prefer less airy lace--I think the holes appear more prominent set into a dense background. Other folks want their lace as wispy as possible.

3. Yarn selection can start with publishing NM numbers, but the deciding factor shouldn't be how fine that number purports to be. Knit your swatches serially at one sitting and compare them. Decide which yarn you would most enjoy knitting and which one gives the most visually appealing appearance. Keep knitting swatches until the pleasantest knit also looks the bestest.

None of these yarns are for beginners, and even advanced lace knitters will find them a challenge. Before embarking on a hyper-complex shawl like Princess, please be sure you are choosing the right yarn for you. You'll be working with it for a long, long time.