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June 28, 2005

Free Cameron!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

...and you should, too. Take the MIT Weblog Survey, and help Cameron finish graduate school!

Posted by shannon at 11:15 AM | For related posts:

June 26, 2005

Cotton Ribby Cardi in Lana Grossa Point (Color no. 10)

Posted by shannon at 11:29 AM | For related posts: Projects In Progress

June 25, 2005

Doce días

The last time I took a vacation of longer than a week was before I became a knitter three years ago. Isn't that crazy? You can see, then, why I'm super-excited about our 12-day honeymoon in Spain. Twelve whole days of no work, good food, and the relaxed lifestyle of Andalucia with my new husband. Divino.

Such luxury does, however, present me with a bit of a packing dilemma. Though my backpacking days are over, I still prefer to travel light. If I were to pack enough yarn to keep my busy on a 12-day vacation, "travelling light" would be a metaphysical impossibility. Running out of things to knit is out of the question, of course, so I'm left with the unavoidable conclusion that I will have to buy yarn in Spain. Darn.

As I do whenever I face a dilemma, I turned to Google to help me figure out just where in Spain I would buy yarn. I found some helpful blog posts (here, here, here and here) to get me pointed in the right direction. I learned that Spain is not the knitter's paradise that the UK and France are, and that the biggest yarn company in Spain is Katia.

Off to the Katia website I went, in search of the list of stores in Spain that carry their yarns. Strangely, there was no such list on the website. It looked like official Katia people frequented their forums, so I posted a question about stores in the major cities we'll be visiting. About a week later, this e-mail landed in my inbox:

Apreciada Sra.:Dear Madam
Ante todo muchas gracias por confiar en nuestra marca.First, thank you for your confidence in our brand.
Contestando a su pregunta en el foro, seguidamente le anotamos unas direcciones de tiendas en Sevilla y Granada, donde podrá en contrar nuestras lanas.To answer your question from the forum, we note the addresses of shops in Seville and Granada where you can find our yarns/wools below.
En espera de haberla complacido, reciba un cordial saludo,In the hope that we have satisfied you, receive our best wishes,

Mercado Tiro de Linea, pto. 53
Madre Rafols, 3
Juan Rabadan, 4
Las Fuentezuelas local-6 ACC-D
Colombia, 10
Francos, 21
Espartinas, 1
Bordadoras, 6 local-1
A.Alcalde Luis Uruñela, 12 as.D *Merceria La Moraleja*

Cisne, 3
Libreros, 6
San Anton, 60 bajo
Pie de la Torre, 4
Palencia, 19
Gran Via de Colón, 57
Avda. Cadiz, 8

Looks like I'd better brush up on my Spanish knitting terminology! (Actually, to be accurate, I should learn my Spanish knitting terminology. I wasn't a knitter when I learned Spanish and sadly haven't had as much opportunity to use Spanish since I learned to knit.) Here's to twelve whole days of no work, good food, the relaxed lifestyle of Andalucia with my new husband -- and plenty of yarn.

Posted by shannon at 11:35 AM | Comments (5) | For related posts:

June 24, 2005

Smooch (this time I really mean it!) Follow progress here

Posted by shannon at 2:52 PM | For related posts: Finished Projects

Third Smooch is a Charm

I like finishing my knitting projects late at night. As much (or as little!) as I've measured, swatched, blocked and seamed, I never really know how it's going to look until I slip it on. I prefer to do that first try-on by myself -- if it's going to look bad, I'd rather learn that on my own. If it's fabulous, I can indulge in a Minor Conceit Session in private.

Smooch was no exception. I finished the knitting and seaming (marvelling at the Hannukah yarn all the while!) long after Jason had gone to bed. I slipped it on, held my breath, and walked over to the mirror.

Let the Mild Conceit Session commence!

Some knitters expressed discomfort with Smooch's plunging neckline, but I'm of the opinion that if it looks good and you don't wear it inappropriately -- then there is no such thing as neckline too low! In other words, this Smooch by itself is a night-time tank. During the day, I'd probably layer a bit -- which is what I did when I wore it Knitsmiths a few days later, and Alison snapped this picture of the tank in all its layered glory. I do wish that I'd made it just a wee bit longer, but I'm nit-picking -- I really love it.

Click here to see the back view

Speaking of the V-neck, Sarah asked in the comments if I could elaborate on the extra-stitch technique I was using to avoid streched-out stitches at the neck divide. I'll give it a shot!

For the front, I cast on the correct number of stitches plus one. I then knit the body as directed in the pattern all the way up to neck divide. (Obviously, the extra stitch meant that my stitch count was off by one as I knit the body.) When I got to the neck divide, the pattern told me to knit a certain number of stitches (let's say 20) and turn my work to start working the left side of the V-neck. I knit those 20 stitches, but before turning the work I put the next stitch (#21) on it's own tiny stitch holder (see the picture). I put the rest of the right-side stitches on a normal stitch holder and continued knitting the left side of the V-neck. When it was done, and it was time to put the rest of the stitches back on the needles, I did not put the center stitch on the needles; instead I left it on it's own little stitch holder. Here's what it looked like after both sides of the neck were done:

Once both sides of the V-neck were finished, I used the tail from where I joined my yarn to start knitting the right side of the neck to tack the center stitch down. I began weaving the tail into the row below the V-neck divide just to the right of the extra stitch, and when I was directly below it I slipped the sewing needle through the extra stitch and then went back to weaving. I don't have a close-up of the finished front, but it looks much better than my V-necks normally do! (I also received a tip from reader Ericka on another technique for avoiding the V-neck stretch. It sounds like a good one, so I'll include it in the extended entry section!)

Ericka wrote:

another alternitve for your loose stitch issue whenever you have to divide and place stitches on a holder. this is something that i read somewhere that works great for me and it keeps those center stitches at a divide tight. find the point where you're going to seperate the stitches and put a marker there if it helps. just cross your stitches, just take the stitch on the right side of the marker and swap it with the one on the left. might be something you might want to try and it would prevent you from needing to tac down an extra stitch on the wrong side.

Thanks, Ericka!

Posted by shannon at 2:22 PM | Comments (9) | For related posts: For Mom, Smooches!

June 22, 2005

Having My Cake

I haven't been blogging, but I have been knitting... which means it's catch-up time!

My birthday was about a month ago, and we spent it in New York. Jason's sister-in-law's baby shower was during the day and after everybody rested and recovered from that, the whole gang (Jason's family and mine) went out for dinner. Once we were all stuffed with steak, the waiter brought out a cake for my birthday!


Cool, yes? Jason's sister is a trained pastry chef, and though she doesn't bake anymore she knows the most creative and festive bakeries in town. (Flour Girl Bakery made my cake.) If you had told me that my cake would have cat cookies all over it, I would have probably scoffed... but this thing was like art. Even the candles were cookies! Here's the part that tickled me the most: between the cats were cookies in the shape of yarn balls.

Click picture to enlarge

The next day, I showed Jason's sister my Nothin' But a T-Shirt, and she raved about it. At first I thought she was loving the theme of the tee (I am the "blushing" bride of her brother, after all), but it turned out she was just loving the tee in general. "Can I commission one of these? I'll pay for the yarn!" Sweeter words have seldom been spoken.

R. decided she wants the main color to be chocolate brown and the contrast color to be light pink. She also wants long sleeves, which led to us nixing the contrasting color for the sleeve trim. Which, in turn, led to us nixing the contrasting color for the collar. She still does want a graphic embellishment in light pink, though.

Considering all R. has done for me this year, I'm excited to knit her something she seems to genuinely want. Her birthday is in two weeks, so I'm knitting as fast as I can. And because Jason is a good brother, he paid for the yarn as a birthday present for his baby sister.

I can't keep my hands off this yarn -- I'm up to the armholes on the back already!

Posted by shannon at 10:57 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: Fixin' Vixen in a T-Shirt, Long-Sleeved Chocolate Tee

June 9, 2005

Christmas in June!

Just in time for the warm weather, it's Smooch!

First, a confession. In addition to the unsuccessful Smooch that I wrote about here, there was another one that I never wrote about at all. I tried again with Classic Elite Spotlight in red (the same used for the Emergency Preemie Christmas Sweater) I picked up at the Wild & Woolly sale this time last year. It, um, didn't work out. Once seamed and finished, the tank was both too loose and too short. More damning, I discovered that while I appreciated the lacy detailing at the bottom as a knitter, I did NOT appreciate it as a wearer -- yuck.

At some point after I failed at Smooch the second time, I mentioned to Alison that the only way I would try the pattern again was if I found the requisite five balls of All Season's Cotton in deep marine. But since it had been discontinued, I figured my smooching days were behind me. Wrong! Alison spotted exactly five deep marine balls in the sale bin at A Good Yarn, and gave them to me for Christmas! Leave it to another knitter to understand that nothing but just-the-right-yarn in the just-the-right-color will do.

As soon as I was sure the snow was really, truly gone I got started. This time I'm being more careful about gauge, style, and fit. I constantly measure the pieces, both with a measuring tape and against the last version (which I found balled up in my stash basket, right where I stuffed it when I realized it didn't fit!). I skipped the scalloped edging and lace pattern at the bottom in favor of a simple hem. I'm also trying something new to combat stretched-out stitches at the V-neck divide (which always happens to me whether I use stitch holders or scrap yarn to hold the resting stitches). I once read that casting on an extra stitch for the middle of the V would allow you to pull those stretched-out stitches tight after blocking. Then you can tack the still-live extra stitch down on the wrong side. You can see my extra stitch on the stitch marker in this picture.

So far, so good!

* :: * :: *

Now for something totally unrelated. When I was living in New York and at grad school in Columbia, I learned that the arrival of springtime meant that labor actions couldn't be far behind. At least once a year, usually around April, I'd walk out of class on a sunny morning to find a handful of picketing workers and a giant inflatable rat. The first time it happened, I asked Jason (who had been at Columbia for 11 years by then) why there was an enormous air-filled rodent on campus. "Springtime is here!" he responded. Apparently, this has been going on for years.

I can't really put my finger on why, but the rat always cracks me up. Don't ask me to explain, because I can't. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of the rat on an NYC-based television show and I howl with laughter. One morning the rat was positioned down the street from my office building and I nearly drove off the rode in a fit of giggles. So you can imagine the levity that ensued when I woke up this morning, and gazed upon this through our back window:

Just seeing the picture makes me laugh (Click for big)

The giant inflatable rat was practically in our kitchen! OK, he's actually at the construction site across the street... but still. Must be springtime!

(Intrigued? Here is an explanation of why unions use an inflatable rat, and more inflatable rat pictures)

Posted by shannon at 4:17 PM | Comments (6) | For related posts: For Me!, La Gringa Habla, Smooches!

June 6, 2005

Two Baby Sweaters, Coming Up...

First things first. I asked for help in my last post, and Kate, Johanna, and Lisa came through! I picked up a C hook, and put my weary joints to work. It took a few tries, but with a little guidance from the Lion Brand page I got those pesky button bands attached. The next morning, at the Wild & Woolly sale, Alison helped me pick out a pearly pink button. Thanks, girls!

Two days later, I had already given it away. I spent the weekend in New Jersey for a wedding shower -- mine! Of equal import, my matron of honor and best buddy T. flew in from Tennessee to co-host the fiesta. We hadn't seen each other in over a year, and I was so glad that we were able to squeeze in a girls' weekend before her second baby girl is born in September. I was bummed that we lost a few hours together because of flight delays on Friday, but those same lost hours were used to make a pink hat with flower to match the sweater... for her! I didn't get a picture of the hat, but I've got my fingers crossed for a knitting boomerang in a few months. T. loved the set, or at least she seemed to -- she is a Southerner, after all. ;)

Accompanying the pretty pretty pink is the completed Mickey I knit for Jason's brother's baby. While it wasn't technically finished for the shower two weeks ago, I was able to baste in the sleeves before I wrapped it up and gave it to her. Then I did the old "glad you like the present, please give it back to me so I can finish it!" trick, and finished it up last week. To recap my experience with this sweater, pattern: way cute, intarsia: not for me.

Lottie and Mickey, perfect together... hey, maybe their eventual owners will be, too!

Posted by shannon at 9:11 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: For Ceci, For Robbie, Miscellaneous Small Projects

June 1, 2005

Ayuda a la Gringa!*

Friends, I need your help. As I try to dig out from my avalanche of baby knitting in a timely manner, I've hit a brick wall snag. My normal response to such an obstacle is to just power through it, trying and retrying a variety of techniques. But all of these small-gauge baby knits have left my hands and arms aching and tender, and I'm hoping that your collective experience will save them the strain of doing and undoing a teeny-tiny little seam.

Lottie, from Rowan Junior

This has been a very fast knit -- I bought the yarn on Friday night1, and all of the pieces were knit by Monday evening. I finished the seaming last night, and went on to work the moss stitch button bands. I knit both of them as indicated in the pattern (starting with five live stitches left on a holder at the bottom of the front panels for this purpose). The final instruction for the button band section of the pattern was: "Slip stitch bands into place."

I misread this, and took it to mean that I should baste them into place temporarily while I went on to pick up stitches and knit the collar. Needless to say, when I finished the collar and went back to the pattern to see how to permanently attach the button bands there was nothing there!

No biggie, I figured. I'll just do a little research on how to slip stitch and attach them now that I know better. I turned to Google, and found that a slip stitch seam is a crocheted seam favored by none other than Bonne Marie. (See this Lion Brand page for details and instructions.)

lottieseam.JPG  Not having an appropriately small crochet hook, I tried to fake it with other seaming techniques, and they all looked like crap -- each one made the seam bulky and uneven or caused the button band to curl under. I'll admit it, I'm a bit incredulous that a crocheted seam could come out neat and flat, but the seam in the pattern picture (left) is pretty much perfect so maybe I'm wrong. If so, what size crochet hook should I use (button band was knit on 2s, the body on 3s)? Anybody got any experience using a slip stitch tecnique on a small-gauge knit?


* "Help the Gringa!"
1 Thanks again, Johanna!
2 "Anyone?"

Posted by shannon at 12:03 PM | Comments (7) | For related posts: Miscellaneous Small Projects