Thursday, October 31, 2013


Yesterday, I e-mailed my doctor.
Dr. B,
Wow, shingles suck. I stopped getting new blisters last Friday, so I think the antiviral helped. The pain is still significant, but not bad enough I can’t manage it. The only way out is through, right?
My real question is about being contagious. The day after I found the beginning of a rash and the day before I came to see you, I knit a hat for my neighbor’s newborn. I haven’t given them the hat because a neighbor who gives a newborn chicken pox is the worst sort of neighbor.
Are there any guidelines about being contagious? If I wash the hat in hot water and machine dry it, does that kill the virus? Am I better off just pitching it? What about the remaining yarn? Does the virus stay live on it? For how long am I contagious, until the rash is completely gone or longer?

This morning, he called me and assured me that the person would have to "have their nose right in your rash" for it to be contagious. Do to the placement of my rash, this is highly unlikely. He reassured me the hat wouldn't give the baby chicken pox. I asked if just to be safe washing it in hot water would kill anything that happened to be on it. He said if the yarn could handle it, washing it in hot water was fine. Overkill, but fine.

Obviously, I'm going to wash and dry that booger, and then I'll probably ask Andrew to wrap it instead of me because there's no harm in being careful. Better crazy than a contagion, right?*

Let's take a moment to thank my doctor for allaying my fears and praise God I used acrylic yarn.

*I think I've just stumbled upon a t-shirt design for OCD folks.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Seaming with the Ladies Who Lunch

Seaming is not knitting. Seaming is suspiciously like sewing, and I did not learn to knit anticipating spending hours hand sewing. That shows you what I know.

I don't hate seaming, but it's slow and careful work. Yesterday I found something that helped. I imagined three ladies in white cotton gloves, tea-length party dresses, hats, and perfect hair. They were on the edge of their seats watching me seam. They said things like, "Ooh, that's lovely." "Did you see the way she handled that mattress stitch?" "It's such a pleasure to see good seaming like this." They clapped their gloved hands with glee at my work.

Hey, whatever works. Seven seams down; one to go.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The Colette sweater marches on. The real beauty of it is the edging that travels up each of the fronts and around the neck. That is knit separately and sewn on, which means most of the sweater is uninteresting to knit.

The only way out is through.

The sleeves do have a nice edging that makes it possible to finish the stockinette everywhere else without abandoning it for something more interesting.

Once the five pieces are finished, the instructions are to steam block them before sewing them together. I have never, ever steam blocked anything. I went online to figure out the difference between steam blocking and wet blocking, and I found this discussion of blocking, which I took as approval that I could wet block if I wanted. In fact, I am pretending that wet blocking is actually better. This may be a lie,  but I choose to believe it.

Once I get past the initial stress of "Omigosh, everything's too big" and pat the pieces into roughly their intended measurement, there's something very soothing about blocking. It brings order to the whole in a very Sunday in the Park with George sort of way.

And when they're dry, they have transformed from five curled up wads of stockinette into something better.

Something that can be folded and, hopefully, sewn without cursing.

Today I seam.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christmas Progress

I'm doing pretty well on my Christmas knitting. I just received the self-striping yarn I needed to make socks for my oldest sister, and they'll go quickly. I was feeling pretty smug about my progress when I went to a friend's house on Saturday.

Her son asked if I'd make him a Packers hat. I have some Berocco Vintage in green and gold in my stash already. Months ago, I was looking for fingering weight yarn in the right green and gold for socks he wanted, and I couldn't find it. I stupidly and desperately bought the Vintage thinking I could make him thick socks. That's nutty--it's not that hard to find the right colors online--but it means I already have the yarn to make the hat.

Another friend asked if I'd knit her another cowl. She loves the one I gave her for her birthday, but it clashes with her winter coat.

GAP-tastic and Fluted Cowl (mine ravelled here),
knit in Knitpicks' Biggo, Calypso Heather colorway

The pattern is a mashup of two patterns: the Fluted Cowl and the GAP-tastic Cowl. (Notes are on my ravelry page.) It really does make a lovely cowl, and I would have been tempted to keep it if it was in another color. Now that I need to order yarn to make her a second one... well, there may be one of these for me in my future as well. I keep telling myself I need to wear the Clara Cowl and see if I like it, but the temptation to buy three more skeins of this yarn in gray is great. A girl only needs so many fluffy cowls, right? Right?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not Quite Half Full

I have shingles.

I am thirty-five. No, I'm not under any unusual stress. Things are great. The chicken pox virus decided to reactivate anyway.

I am not amused.

There's not a lot else to be said about it. Yes, it's painful. Let's talk about something else.

I decided I deserved a I Have Shingles present, and I was checking out my wishlist to see what I wanted to buy myself.

I decided on this glass from etsy. I wasn't feeling very optimistic, but this would be a nod to the Universe that I was trying.

It's no longer available.* The only glass the seller has in his/her store has a deer head on it.

Very funny, Universe.

*I've sent a message to the seller asking if he/she will be listing more of them, so there's hope.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Clump of Hats

I was working on the gray items. Really, I was.

Then I realized that I was meeting a friend for coffee after work on Friday, and I can't read charts or count while drinking coffee and chatting. So, I started a hat.

Ann Budd's Basic Hat Pattern (mine ravelled here),
knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts' Gaea, Jabberwocky colorway

My coworkers and I sponsor a couple families for Hanukah each year, and one of the adult women requested a warm, knit hat. I decided to use the yarn left from the herringbone hat disaster. When I reknit Andrew's hat, I didn't use the yarn I had used originally. I used the other half of the skein. The yarn I had frogged from the hat was slightly felted. It worked fine reknitting it into a plain hat though. This yarn is so busy that it needs a very plain stitch pattern, so I knit it following Ann Budd's hat instructions.*

Because I am skilled in the art of denial, I pretended this wouldn't grow when I washed it. I'm still not sure why I did that, since I have painful memories of this exact yarn growing. Maybe I thought it wouldn't grow because it had already grown in the wash.

The hat's too big.

Pretty colors, but too big.

I'm planning to take it to a friend this weekend and see if it fits him. He has a big head. I choose to remain hopeful.

Because I am a Glass Half Full kind of person, I've decided this is for the best. The woman for whom I was knitting lives in a nursing home. I cannot depend on the person who does her laundry to handwash a hat. It probably would have gotten felted. Then she would have been sad.

So, I went to Michael's and shopped the acrylic. I made this on Sunday.

Ann Budd's Basic Hat Pattern (mine ravelled here), 

I know this yarn is Red Heart. I, too, try to avoid Red Heart whenever possible. However, the colors are pretty and the yarn is soft. This is no Super Saver, and the color shifts are interesting.

In this midst of those two hats, I saw my neighbor. She is pregnant. Very pregnant. She said she's doing a lot of walking, including up and down her staircase, in hopes of encouraging the baby to make her appearance. I kept thinking about how astounding it is that this woman is making another person. If she's making a new human, the least I can do is make that human a hat.

I picked white because their baby will be dark-skinned, and I think white will look beautiful against the brown.

Otis Baby Hat (mine ravelled here),
knit in Bernat Softee Baby in white

The pattern has an 8-row cable, which you repeat two and a half times before doing the decreases. I changed this to a 5-row cable as the result of misreading the pattern a careful design choice.

I think I'm done making hats now. Back to gray!

*Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns is indeed handy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Gray Race

My favorite color is gray. You may think this is odd. I am okay with that.

I love the way silvery or charcoal gray looks with other colors. Pink? Orange? Red? Blue? Green? Purple? All yes. The only color that really doesn't go with gray is brown, and, let's face it, that's brown's fault.

Sorry, brown.

As a result, I knit a lot of gray. I have learned, however, that it is a mistake to knit gray in the winter. As much as I love to wear it, focusing on gray yarn in a gray world makes me sad and puts Ani DiFranco on a loop in my head.* I realized last night that I have two gray projects I really want to wear, and it's October.

Time is short.
Delias eucharis socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Blue Moon Fiber Art's Socks that Rock Lightweight,

Those socks are part of the knitalong for Hunter Hammersen's (Violently Domestic) Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, Vol. II. They're lovely, although the cable on round 8 has proved to be a pain. I think I have it figured out now, and I appreciate everyone ignoring the fact that there are some mis-crosses near the beginning.

The knitalong goes through the end of November, but I'd like them done by Halloween. November will require neon colors.

 Colette sweater (mine ravelled here),
knit in Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere

I saw that sweater and shrugged. Then I saw Rachael Herron in that sweater. It looks fantastic on her. Part of the reason is because she's adorable, but I suspect another part of the reason is that it's not closed in the front. I like the way it looks open much, much more than closed. I've started the back, and it's going to be a bit of a slog. There's a lot of stockinette and not a lot else. However, we started watching season 7 of Doctor Who last night, so stockinette with a smidge of shaping is probably all I can handle.

In my head, I'm wearing this sweater at my aunt's house on Thanksgiving, and I look fab. I'm still shooting to have it done by the end of the month though--a goal that may be unreasonable. I'm going to try anyway.

The race to finish gray is on.

*I do love this song, but it's not one to listen to in the winter.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Christmas Knitting? I See No Christmas Knitting.

Currently, I'm knitting washcloths requested by Andrew's grandpa. Andrew's grandpa is awesome, so I would knit him kneesocks if he wanted them. Luckily, a couple years ago he wanted a scarf and this year he told me his washcloths were wearing out. No mention of kilt hose at all.

However, I am being tempted to drop the knitting. One of my friends just gave me this:

It's the Crafty Characters embroidery pattern from Kitschy Digitals. I really want to embroider a pillowcase with knitting needles and happy balls of yarn.

My friends are the best. Thanks, Rachel!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

That's a lot of cables.

We celebrated some birthdays this weekend, which means I can show you another knitted present!*

knit in Knit Picks Stroll Sport, Peapod colorway

This was an instance of trying to find a pattern on ravelry and then being stunned that it said I already owned the pattern. It was positive reinforcement that I need to keep my ravelry library updated.

The pattern is from the very first Debbie Bliss magazine from 2008. When I went back to the magazine, I'm not surprised I flipped past it. It shows the sock all scrunched up around the ankle. That, my dear, is not the way to display a kneesock.

The pattern had a completely plain foot (why?) and also had me breaking the yarn before starting the foot and shuffling the stitches around (again, why?).

I didn't like the way that looked, so I did a heel flap over 31 stitches and then decreased down to 61 stitches for the foot. I continued the pattern down the top of the foot, omitting the cables because of the bulk.

I am amused by mirrored socks, so I did a 2x2 right cable on one and a 2x2 left cable on the other.

These are very tall, and they can be worn either over the knee or with the large, ribbed cuff folded over. My hope was that the folded cuff would keep them from slipping. That doesn't seem to be the case, so I ordered a pair of sock garters to go with them.

*Let's take a moment to notice Rachel's dress. It's so very pretty, and she found it on clearance for $8. Excellent work.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's My Pinterest...

...and I'll organize how I want to.

My love for organization is pure. One of my favorite pastimes as a kid? Organizing the big box of crayons by color. It's harder than you'd imagine because sometimes the actual color of the crayon is lighter than another but its paper is darker.

This is the sort of thing that troubled my young mind.

Really, very little has changed.

I have to be careful not to over-organize people in my head. My instinct is to see someone and immediately put them in a labelled box.* I have to work to remember that people are complex and don't fit into a color-coded filing cabinet.

Anyhoo, I spent some time yesterday with my Pinterest boards. I had all the knitting and crochet in one board, and it was unwieldy. I separated it into several boards.

I don't crochet, but there are a few crochet items that I find particularly compelling.
Click here for this pin and here for my crochet board.

Pins of knitting that I actually plan to make are here.

Pins of knitting that I like but probably won't make myself or have already made and therefore no longer in my queue are here. It includes things like this:
Click here for this pin and here for my knitting to admire board.

Techniques and tools are here.

Thinking and writing about knitting by people who get it are here.

Finally, some pretty yarn is here.

I am not able to control many, many, many things, but I have a very pretty Pinterest page. I'm calling it a win.

* My box is tagged with Knitting, Vegetarian, Buddhist-loving Nerd. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For Wizards and Sisters

This is a pattern I've had in my favorites for a long time. My oldest sister told me she could never have enough socks, so I decided to try this pattern with a self-striping yarn for her birthday.

knit in ONline Supersocke 100 in the Comedy colorway

This is a super easy four-row pattern. I've recently decided I prefer my sock patterns to be simple. I want to be able to tell where I am by looking at the sock, not by following a 24-row chart. If I want something really hard, I'll knit a wrap where everyone will see it all the time. Very few people hang out around my feet. I try not to take this personally.

That being said, you bet I'm going to knit the Delias eucharis socks from Knitters' Curiosity Cabinet Vol. II as part of the October-November KAL on Ravelry. Will they be easy? Probably not. Will they be gorgeous? Definitely!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fightin' Words

Mmmm, colorwork. In general, I like it a lot.* I especially like it in little bits of two colors where I don't have to worry about tacking the second color. I am very picky. Let it be known.

These were nearly perfect.

Fightin' Words (mine raveled here),
knit in leftovers--probably Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Kenai
and Knit Picks Essential Kettle Dyed in Eggplant (discontinued)

I love colorwork on fingerless gloves and mittens. Hands are so visible. They are an excellent place to display knitting. I added four additional rows to the top of the chart and then another three rows of ribbing. Fingerless gloves should cover more than just palms, I think.

I recommend this pattern. I knit these as a gift, but I liked making them so much I will probably make more. Everyone needs a little Bam! Pow! in her life.

*Not intarsia. I shake my fist angrily at intarsia.