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April 29, 2002
Dyed in the Wool

Dyed in the Wool

Yet another round of Kool-Aid dyeing. Used three shades of blue... Ice Blue Raspberry, Blue Moon Berry and some new-fangled
color-shifting Kool-Aid that was supposed to change from green to blue and taste like cherry. All three were different colors by the
way, I'm happy to report. I think the yarn needs more color now that it's dry, so I'm going to rubber band it and toss it into some of
whatever blue I have left.

Bonne Marie was breaking out the Kool-Aid too this weekend. And like her, I had
difficulty getting my hands on the goods. Neither of the two stores I've looked at had Lemon-Lime, and one had no Grape. That's why I
ended up getting the color-shifting Kool-Aid... It made a nice dark teal, by the way, though I'm still waiting for it to change color!
There are just so many "new" flavors, they can't keep stocking the old standbys.


10:04 AM
April 27, 2002
New Idea Now that

New Idea

Now that the Parrot is done, I am dreaming of another Colinette sweater. I have the teal Zanziba, and I am thinking about the
Charcoal Graffiti. Can't decide if it's as subtle as I want, though. Plus, it won't be a sweater for me. Maybe for my Mom... It'll
have to wait, though her birthday IS coming up...

Incidentally, here's what the sweater looked like in the book, Simply Beautiful Sweaters by Beryl ? ?Hiatt and Linden ? ?Phelps. Looks a little different than the Parrot! I think I'd make a few subtle changes if I do knit this up.


09:17 AM
Thinking Up a Sweater

Thinking Up a Sweater

As I picked up my new Kool-Aid yarn to knit last night, I started thinking about some posts I'd read over the last couple of days on Knitblogs, regarding patterns and sweater design... I also started casting on... as I did that, I was looking at the yarn and wanted to make something for Ella, but didn't want a hat and there's not too too much yarn, so maybe a vest, since she wears the one she has more than I would have thought... so I grabbed her little vest and held it up to a piece of paper... it seemed about 1" longer than 11", but to be on the safe side, I cast on 66 stitches... (I think I'm getting about 5 st/inch)... didn't want to hunt too long for the tape measure. Besides, she's growing, and it's a vest. Knit 4 rows of ribbing... decided that I wanted a garter rib because maybe I would make some garter stitch stripes to break it up, so started over. Knit a couple of rows... decided to alternate every two rows between a lighter skein and a darker skein of the Kool-Aid yarn for a little more uniformity (or difference... can't decide yet). So there it is. Haven't really thought concretely about armhole decreases or neck shape or anything. I figure after I do the back, I'll take stock of how much yarn I've used and dye more if I need it. Won't be exactly the same, but if I don't switch mid-piece, it'll be fine... or it can be colorblock. Ahh, knitting for children who can't really express their fashion sense! (This is not actually true of Ella, she loves shoes -- particularly her red patent leather ones -- and her silky vest [the one she's wearing below]...).

So this is how I work. If it's a bigger project, then I do spend some time looking at yarns and pictures of sweaters, and use patterns as starting points, and make some pattern notes, which I invariably change as I go. Usually I use some sort of finished garment to check where things (like sleeves) ought to go. I guess I knit like I cook... I love to read recipes and look at food magazines, but when it comes to dinner time, it's usually pretty free-hand -- based on what's around the house and things I remember seeing that sounded good. I've always knit this way... I think my Mom does too, so it seemed the way to go. Lo and behold, I start reading what others are doing and there's all this talk of patterns!

Now that I am wanting to learn some more complicated techniques (cables, intarsia) maybe I'll change... I suspect, however, that I will use patterns to gain understanding of the techniques and then put them aside. Using a bit of this pattern here and a bit of that there. Of course things go awry with this method, but since I'm not following a pattern, there's no worry about ripping it out and doing it a different way.

I marvel at people who can and do follow intricate patterns, they get lovely results... I'm just not that sort of person.

So here's my question: Do you usually knit from a written pattern?


06:53 AM
April 26, 2002
Kool Threads Well here's

Kool Threads

Well here's the second kool-aid attempt... I was going to re-dye it, but after I broke the big skein down, I decided that it looked
pretty good and the variations were consistent enough to leave it. I feel like I'm somewhere between Red Heart and Colinette now, at

Here are some inspirational dyeing sites:

Motomo Gallery

Tierra Wools

and, of course, Colinette.

Incidentally, if you crave Colinette like I do, check out the "Millshop" section of their site. Great deals on some of their yarns! Shipping runs about $25 to the States from Wales, but you'll still come out way ahead of retail. I haven't done it yet, but I'm tempted. I still have some stray Zanziba that I thought was going to be part of the Parrot sweater. It was way too teal, but I'm thinking it would look great with the Charcoal Graffiti yarn. Now I just have to find a patrona for this dreamy creation.


09:09 PM
April 25, 2002
The Parrot Wrap-up The

The Parrot Wrap-up

The parrot sweater is finally done! Many of my fears were groundless in that it fits just fine. It's a very cuddly sweater; bulky
without being heavy, warm but not hot... The combination of a pure wool thick-n-thin and a pure cotton chenille seemed a bit unorthodox,
but it seems to work. Now I'm hoping for some more chilly weather so I can trot it out!

What I didn't like: The pattern! Go figure! It was easy to follow and had some helpful bits of advice, but I thought the sizing was a bit off, the sleeves would have been too short had I not lengthened them. Plus, the pattern as written called for sleeve increases every 4 rows. I ended up with every 8 rows because I didn't want such pendulous forearms. Then after painstakingly blocking the front and back to specs, I had an awful time getting the sleeve caps to sit in right, even ended up stretching one so far in the heat of the moment (it was late, I was tired) that the Fandango snapped! I managed to tie a little knot and put it away for the night! Anyway, it all came together in the morning and it's groovy. Almost hugged the savvy checker at the store who was the first to comment on it.

What I liked about this project: Can't beat the gauge, and the yarns were top notch. I love the boldness of the color, and I am pleased that it fits the way I wanted it too. Oh, and I like my buttons!

If you want details about how this sweater came together, check out the archives.


06:10 PM
Hey, Kool-Aid! Well, it's

Hey, Kool-Aid!

Well, it's all over now. I've started dyeing my own wool. It's so fun. Now I dream of better yarns, ordering up some real dyes from
Dharma Trading Co.... But for now, it's Kool-Aid.

After scouting around various websites, (I found this one quite helpful), I decided I was ready. Was all set to go to a yarn store, but they were all closed because it was Monday! So I went to the local craft emporium and bought some Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool, probably good that I am using cheap yarn, because this is definitely the experimental stage.

Because I wanted to variegate the yarn and don't have a microwave, I ended up mixing the Kool-Aid with a few spoonsful of water, then squirting them onto the pre-wetted wool skein with a big syringe. Then I put it in a steamer basket and steamed it for 30-45 minutes. It worked fine. The first attempt is this very bright blue & orange (I used yellow too, but it's so pale you can't tell). Zoe's choice. It's on it's way to becoming matching hats for her and her doll.

My second attempt was a little more subtle. I dyed the whole skein Orange in a pot, then tied it with some string and over-dyed it with Strawberry. After that, I re-tied the whole thing and put it into some Black Cherry. I am generally pleased with it, but if I had thought it out a bit more, I would have made it into several smaller skeins rather than one big one. The outside is mostly dark red, the inside of the skein has a lot of orange. Now that it's dry, I may break it down into smaller skeins, rubber band them, and put it back into some Black Cherry to even it out a little.


07:14 AM
April 22, 2002
No UFOs! I'm nearly

No UFOs!

I'm nearly done with the Parrot -- could be done today. Post game rap-up soon. Anyway, in that project's-nearly-done euphoria, it
hits me... I've been such a vigilante about not having UFO's lying around, that I have no new project lined up!

I was intrigued by the Cancun scarf over at Moving Hands. I think I may try to make something similar for a dear friend who just had her 40th birthday. I couldn't think of anything to buy for her, so I didn't, but she might like this... and I'm happy to make something for her.

This means going to the LYS... probably with only enough dinero for the scarf though!


07:11 AM
Friends Like These. Perhaps

Friends Like These.

Perhaps this is why my knitting goes so slowly. Fortunately, this skein was a clever decoy of cheap yarn to keep the baby and cat
away from the real stuff... The cat was more actively involved before I got the picture...


06:35 AM
April 21, 2002
My new Get-Rich-Quick scheme?

My new Get-Rich-Quick scheme?

I was checking out the other knitblogs this morning and came across a post about homemade knitting needles for sale on ebay over at href="">Ivete's Knitting. One pair of sticks went for $30! These are nice needles, to be sure, but
holy cow!

Check them out!


07:26 AM
April 18, 2002
Rant Against Pattern Sizing

Rant Against Pattern Sizing

So I did actually get some knitting done on the Parrot. After ripping out the first sleeve about four times, it is nearly done.
Indeed, if I had followed the pattern, I would be done! It called for 17" long sleeves -- these are set-in, not drop-shoulder!
That's about 4 inches too short. Good thing I checked too, because these yarns are very different skein to skein... if I had knit both
sleeves and then figured out they were too small, it would have been a mess! Grr. That'll teach me to knit from a pattern!

So why are knitting patterns sized for Lilliputians? If I buy off the rack, I nearly always buy a Small, unless it's too short. Yet in looking at pattern measurements, I could easily knit a Large and it wouldn't be very big. And I am not a big person. I can only imagine how annoying this is to, oh, say, an average sized woman. Who are they designing for?


07:07 AM
Redux Update While muttering

Redux Update

While muttering the "I will finish my current project," "I will finish my current project," mantra under my breath, I decided that I'd
just see IF the thriftstore sweater would unravel. I decided to start with the neck, because that was the really objectionable part
anyway, and I figured I could salvage it collarless anyway.

First I cut the seam of the collar. It definitely seemed joined like a handknit garment, so then I carefully snipped the collar away from the body. It didn't want to come unsewn very much, so I just snipped the first stitch all along the collar. Dealing with where the tag was sewn in was actually the hardest part! The sweater seems handknit. I must admit I have little knowledge of how mass produced sweaters are made. Okay, now I am imagining some horrible sweatshop practices... at least I bought it second-hand!

After that, it unraveled like a dream. I like the sweater a bunch more already, with it's open, unfinished neck. If my ambition fades to unravel the whole thing, I figure I can just put on a simple ribbed neck and be done... The sleeves and hem just have short k1p1 ribs.


06:46 AM
April 17, 2002
Cotton Baby Sweater &

Cotton Baby Sweater & Flat Hat

Here's a photo of THE baby sweater (see the Bulky Babies post on 3/29 for pattern). This one my Mom knit for Zoe -- it's been through
at least four babies now! This one is knit in basic, discount store cotton. I'll just give the measurements, if you really want help
with the math for your gauge, let me know!

This is definitely newborn size -- to about 3 months. The sweater is 10" wide and 9" tall. The sleeves are 6" long and are cast on 5
inches from the bottom, so they're about 4 inches wide.

For the hat: Again, newborn size -- for a 14" or so head. Cast on 14" worth of stitches (for 5 st./inch, that's 70 stitches) on straight needles. Knit in stockinette if you want a rolled brim, or k1p1 rib for about 1 inch. Switch to garter stitch (knit all rows). Continue knitting for 6 or so inches. Bind off all stitches.

Finishing: Sew across top and the one open side. Attach pom-poms, yarn covered O-rings, or I-cords to the top corners. Looks like a funny potholder, but really cute on your baby!


09:53 AM
Why ruin a perfectly

Why ruin a perfectly good sweater?

After some queries about why I am going to destroy a perfectly good sweater, here's the deal: I wore the sweater yesterday and it's
very nice to wear, not too hot, not itchy, soft. However, it's too big all over, which I could live with, and the neck does a freakish
cowl thing, which I definitely can't live with.

I figure since it's a sweater that I generally like already, that bodes well for the redux sweater. One rarely gets to "try on" a sweater before it's knit...

Plus, where are you ever going to get a sweater's worth of yarn for $4.oo?


08:36 AM
April 16, 2002
Thrift Sweater Redux Okay,

Thrift Sweater Redux

Okay, so I was in the thrift store today and bought this sweater (about $4.00). My intent is to unravel it and re-knit it. It's 100%
merino wool, it's a nice celery green, and it's plenty big. Heeding the advice of fellow knitbloggers, I checked to see if it was put
together like a handknit garment or sewn together. It seems to have selvege stitches and all so I am hopeful that it will unravel in one

What am I envisioning? Spurred on by Theresa at bagatell, and her recently posted free pattern, my plan is to knit a V-neck sweater with cabled raglans and cabled ribbing. The body of the sweater will be plain. My first voyage into cabling.


05:55 AM
April 15, 2002
Sweet Mysteries of Garter

Sweet Mysteries of Garter Stitch

Usually, I think of garter stitch as being the same on the front and back. Since I'm working this piece alternating two rows of
Colinette Fandango and two rows of GGH Trikolore, the front and the back look different. I'm sure that it's due to where the "high rows"
and "low rows" fall, but still intriguing.


09:08 AM
Rub-A-Dub-Dub! Zoe and Ella


Zoe and Ella -- both bathing in the kitchen sink!


06:37 AM
What's Up in the

What's Up in the Garden

Here's what's going on in the garden these days: It's raining! Not in this picture, but we only get about 10 inches of rain a year
here in San Diego, so it's noteworthy. This is our bouganvillea; it blooms all year, but it's looking especially nice right now.

The first roses have started to bloom and the plants seem pretty healthy... I trimmed them back in January and fed them this year.
Plus we put on lots of ladybugs for aphids. There are a couple of roses that aren't doing so well and may need to come out. Any
suggestions for replacements? I'm not really a big rose enthusiast, but figure I'll leave those beds rosy for the time being.

We finally ripped out our New Englandy front yard this year. No more grass and shrubs! I replanted New Zealand flax, birds of paradise,
various succulents, and gazania instead of a lawn -- all low water users. The gazania is starting to fill in, but you can sort of
imagine that it will look like a field of orange dandelions when it does. AND no mowing!


06:28 AM
April 10, 2002
My Recent Handiwork Here

My Recent Handiwork

Here it is. We went out to pay our final respects to the Volvo yesterday (and clear out all the singleton socks, preschool art
projects, tupperware... I did leave a lot of old pretzels and sand in it, though). According to Insurance Guy, it's totalled. The
engine block is cracked. Hard to believe you can total a car so easily. Though it looks a little worse than I remembered. So now I am
looking for a new (or old) car... what's more tank-like than a Volvo, though? Thankfully, we're all okay.


07:06 AM
April 8, 2002
Granny's Tablecloth Here is

Granny's Tablecloth

Here is a tablecloth my grandmother made. She crocheted it with something slightly thicker than sewing thread. It's about 6 feet by
12 feet. It took her years! I remember her working on it when I was a little girl. Anyway, it is a great testament to her skills and
her perfectionism. It is completely inspiring and untterly daunting at the same time.

It was a gift for my aunt originally. She, in turn, gave it to us as a wedding gift. I love having it, though I don't use it. My
question is: how should I be storing it? Should I wash it (it does have a couple of stains), and if so, how? I can't imagine where I
would block something so large!


07:11 AM
Can't Catch Me, I'm

Can't Catch Me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!

We made some gingerbread cookies the other day. Here are a few of Zoe's little men. I made mine round and added crystallized ginger.
They were so yummy! These are also great to make with kids because you can play with it like clay and there are no eggs so you can eat
it uncooked to your heart's delight.

Here's the recipe:

Cream together 1/4 c. butter and 1/3 c. sugar.

Beat in 1/2 c. molasses.

Mix together in a separate bowl: 3 cups flour, 1 t. baking soda, 1/4 t. cloves, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 2 t. ginger, 1/2 t. salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar in three parts alternating with 1/4 c. water.

Mixture should form a stiff dough. Add water or flour until it seems right.

Either mold (like clay) or roll and cut out your shapes. Decorate with raisins or candies. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake
at 350 degrees for 8 minutes (baking time really varies depending on how big the cookies are). Add frosting if you want too.


06:58 AM
April 5, 2002
Flower Jackets Okay, this

Flower Jackets

Okay, this is a non-knitting project, but figured I'd take the opportunity to toot my own horn. These are the "winter" jackets I made
for the girls this year. Found the fleece on sale and had to have it. The lining is sort of T-shirt like. Different colored buttons so
I can tell them apart, though they really snap. Even though we don't really have Winter here, we did get quite a bit of use out of
them... Can't wait for next year's jackets!


05:48 AM
Mavis & Ethel My

Mavis & Ethel

My new knitting advisors.


05:39 AM
Parrot's Progress, II Here's

Parrot's Progress, II


Here's where the Parrot stands today. Fronts and back are done, I've bought a spare skein of Trikolore to see me through (you may
remember I feared I would run out if I made the sleeves any longer), and I am moving forward. Some of me still wants to rip it out and
knit it bigger, but the Fandango doesn't respond particularly well to that. I think I can block it bigger -- everything else I ever made
with Fandango ended up growing, so we'll see if that doesn't happen. It's not like it won't fit, I just had imagined something a little
more like a jacket.


05:36 AM
April 3, 2002
More Bitchin' Than Stitchin'

More Bitchin' Than Stitchin'

My knitting circle is FINALLY meeting tonight. We've had difficulties getting everyone together, though not for lack of enthusiasm.

I haven't even picked up my knitting in at least two weeks. We've all had some evil plague... I've had a low-grade fever for 10 days!
Zoe was out of school sick for a week (before I got sick), and has been out of school for Spring Break since then (okay she was there for
two days) -- she'll go back Monday.

The coup de grace: The girls and I were in a car accident on Monday! We're all fine, though it was scary. I'm a little stiff and
sore, but not as bad as I feared I would be. The Volvo is not at all well. The car I hit was able to drive away, fortunately, though I'm
sure it'll end up costing plenty to fix it. At least everyone was very nice. The local business people were very helpful with phones,
bathrooms, holding my kids, etc.

techie or luddite?: you decide.

After the accident, my friend says, "I guess you were glad you had your cellphone." "Oh," says me, "I didn't use it, I just went
and called from the dry cleaners." Turns out I did have it, charged, in my bag, so I could have used it. My husband, Leo, says, "Too
bad you didn't have the digital camera, you could have taken pictures." I had it too, but didn't think of it. Too bad. You too could
have seen the terrible damage I wrought.


06:34 AM