Monday, June 27, 2016

Call Me Savior (of the Occasional Plant)

It comes as no surprise that I am weak in the face of clearance plants. I see a rack of half-dead plants, and I am overcome by twin desires of frugality and a need to bolster my savior complex. 

The plant above is some sort of verbena. I planted it in front of a perennial grass in my front flower bed a few weeks ago and hoped for the best. It's been greening up nicely. Yesterday, it rewarded me with this bloom. There are more clearly on the way.

It's this sort of success that makes it more likely I will buy half-dead plants in the future. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's definitely one of my things.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Falling Stars Completely Fallen

Well, kids, it's finished.

Falling Stars (mine ravelled here),

It took more than one try, but I finally figured out how to sew the ribbon over the raw edge of the steek, and I'm fairly happy with the way that looks. I'm very happy that the steek has no chance of unraveling.

I hemmed the cuffs instead of ribbing them. I hemmed the body as well. 

The sleeves, even after blocking aggressively, are tight. I wish the whole sweater were a little bigger, to be honest. This cannot be discussed anymore because it will make me weep. Sweaters are a bitch.

I am glad I skipped the purl stitches in the pattern. I think the colorwork turned out great.

I'm glad I knit this. I'm even going to submit it to the State Fair. I want people who get how much work went into it to see it. Done and dusted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I am discouraged and heartsick over the violence against LGBT folks, the discrimination against Muslims, the way politics in my country has devolved into attacks that encourage fear and hatred instead of reason and acceptance.

I took a walk yesterday evening, trying to get perspective, trying to get out of my head. It helped, a little.  

Sometimes there just aren't enough words.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


It's amazing how much work can fall into the "finishing" section of a knitting pattern. To the novice, "finishing" sounds like you are actually close to the end. This is a dirty, dirty lie. Case in point: I'm finishing the Falling Stars sweater.

Finishing means I reinforce both sides of the center steek stitch with tiny backstitch in sewing thread.

Andrew, possibly the most patient person on the planet not currently viewed as a major religious figure, looked at what I was doing, looked at me, and said, "Never. I would never do that." 

But I did, in hopes of finishing a sweater.

Finishing means I cut the steek (with the mandatory liquid courage).

Finishing means I pick up stitches all along each side of the steek, knit several rows in 1x1 ribbing, adding buttonholes on one side, and cast off using a tubular castoff that is so tedious yet brain-consuming that it is a form of working meditation.

Finishing means I turn the bottom hem under at a purl row and carefully sew the live stitches of the body (remember that his is a fingering-weight sweater) to the inside of the sweater. This takes so long that I abandon hope of ever finishing (finishing, my ass), sure that I have been sucked into a time warp in which I stitch and stitch and stitch and yet never get any closer to the last live stitch.

Finishing means I wash and  block the sweater. I do it at this point in the "finishing" in order to make sure I hem the sleeves at the correct length, and also sew the ribbon over the steek without making the sweater sag or pull from a ribbon that is too long or too short.

Finishing means I pick buttons, find they don't have enough in stock, shake my fist at the capricious retail gods and then pick other buttons.

Finishing means I spend 20 minutes staring at ribbon wondering why there's seems to be no ribbon in between 1/4" and 7/8".

At this moment in time, I am finishing by attempting to hand sew a ribbon down each side of the raw edges of the steek stitches.

I'm not at all pleased with the way it looks, and I don't really know where to go from here.

Finishing. Yeah, right.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

For the Record

Dear Falling Stars,

I think I've demonstrated that I will abandon your wooly self for a cute self-striping sock yarn with little to no provocation on your part.

This does not qualify as little to no provocation. Straighten up.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Working Up To It

Hand-sewn steeks certainly look tedious.

I did this instead:

Knit in Knitpicks Felici, Gummy Bear colorway (discontinued)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Know When To Walk Away

I'm at an exciting point in the sweater. The sleeves are both on hold until I block everything and am sure of the length I want. It's time for the steek!

I carefully read Kate Davies' tutorials, printed out the directions, and started last night.

And restarted. And restarted. And cursed a little bit. And restarted.

And finally accepted that as I do not know how to crochet very well at all, crocheting the reinforcement for this steek in fingering weight yarn is not going to work for me. Know when to walk away.*

Today I am reading up on handsewn steeks and will try again tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, I've gone back to something I know how to do to help rebuild my shaken confidence.

*As a child of the '80s, Alvin & the Chipmunks sometimes show up in my brain singing songs that really should be performed by someone else. Anyone else. Case in Point: The Gambler

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Things Do Get Finished... Except When They Don't

First, I finished Andrew's socks:
Turner Ribs (mine ravelled here),
knit in Malabrigo Sock Yarn in the 851 Turner colorway

I was skeptical about this yarn, not sure how it would wear. In response, I knit these at a tighter gauge--more stitches, smaller needles. As a result of that and the fact that I worked on them only sporadically when I couldn't bear to work on the Falling Stars sweater, they felt like they took forever. Luckily, I love Andrew very, very much.

Second, Falling Stars continues. I finished the body, sort of. I'm doing things in the order the pattern states, so I have the body stitches on waste yarn while I do the sleeves. Then I'll do fancy steeking things that terrify me so let's move on quickly, and then the body stitches get sewn to the inside of the sweater. Seems like there should be a neater way to do this, but I haven't figured it out yet. I think perhaps I'm just used to bottom-up sweaters in which I can knit the cast on stitches together with the body stitches.

In related news, I can get about 9 rounds of sleeve done during my lunch hour.

Fingering weight sweaters are not for those who need to see rapid progress. In fact, I'm not sure they're even for people who think progress is important in any way whatsoever. Fingering weight sweaters are probably for people who are content to knit and knit and knit and then have their work unraveled each night while they sleep, like Penelope's weaving but with less feasting and more sadism.

So, it's going pretty much like we knew it would. I've been dreaming about a nice bulky weight hat just to cleanse the palette (like this one), but I've been able to resist thus far. If you'll excuse me, I have a couple sleeves to knit.