Friday, June 29, 2007

Mystery Laundry Basket Winner; Landscape Shawl; Travel Mystery

The Prize Winner!!
Do you see this sweet, sweet kitty? His name is Cosmic and he is well loved by daughter #2, who calls him her little brother. Cosmic is also a knitting kitty; he loves to help pull the yarn out of the ball and he removes pins from items while they are blocking. He also loves to go outside in the nice weather. Can you imagine how sad we would all be if he ran away, was attacked by a dog or eaten by a coyote. (our last kitty was attached by something and died in the backyard. That psychotic cat was no great loss, but Cosmic would be mourned for decades.
Well, we solved the problem! In my last post I showed this photo and asked whether anyone could guess what it was used for. There were many great, imaginative guesses. Some were close, but no one got the correct answer.
Vicki Knitorious guessed it was a trap.
HPNY Knits loves riddles and mystery.
Diana thought it was a little boy's trap.
sherriknits Sherri guessed a trap, such as a cat trap.
Karen thought of something for gardening.
Kate anticipated the Yarn Harlot's battle with the local yarn stealing squirrel and thought it was a means of protecting yarn that I was drying.
Melissa also thought of a trap.
greno Bea from France suggested that my neighbor (male) is a secret knitter and he didn't want his wife to know so he hid the yarn under the basket!! I love that idea!
Pilar from the Canary Islands thought that I asked my husband to put up a clothes line from which to hang freshly laundered hand knit socks, and he did it upside down!! How does she know my husband so well??
Acuarela from Spain thought that it was a play area for cats or rabbits. Actually, her guess is the closest. and she gets the prize!

We put a blue harness on our precious Cosmic and attach the end of the long rope to the harness. He can then roam around the backyard, pulling his laundry basket as he goes. However, he can't really leave the yard because the laundry basket gets caught on bushes. Sometimes his leash gets caught on rocks, flowers and so forth. Then, he sits quietly until we come to rescue him. We only put him out when we are home and can keep an eye on him. He loves his harness and leash, and will sit next to the box in which they are kept on the screened porch. He cries mournfully and hopefully until we open the lid. He recognizes the sound and stands still so we can put his harness on him. Then, we carry him outside and attach him to the long leash.

Aquarela wins two skeins of Manos of Uruguay Cotton Striata.

Landscape Wedding Shawl

In my last post, I explained that I was making a Landscape Shawl for my step-daughter's wedding on July 2. I finished it on Sunday, mailed it on Monday and it arrived on Tuesday!! And she loves it!! Here it is, blocking. I will post a photo of her wearing it in August. The wedding is a small private affair. The family party will take place in Seattle at the end of July.
Although the shawl is perfect for her (not lacy, lightweight cotton, dusty blue) I would not make another shawl out of fine lace weight cotton. Maintaining tension was impossible and I tried to master 3 different ways of holding the thread/yarn. Nothing worked completely well. Although I love the feel of the lightweight cotton shawl, and the drape, I can't see fighting with the thread/yarn for thousands upon thousands of fine, fine stitches again. I can see why such fine cotton is used in crocheting, but not in knitting.
This is the second Landscape Shawl that I have made. You can see the different shades of blue in the photo; this was caused by different knit and purl stitch patterns. The pattern is for a perfect triangle of a shawl. However, I wanted the shawl to fit better on the shoulders, like faroese shawls. the shawl is knit from the tip, beginning with one stitch. When I got to the tip of the last triangle, that is, the last V that you see in the middle of the shawl, I began doing short rows on either side of the yarn over increases that define the final V. I knit two rows between each short row. The shaping worked out well, giving a bit of extra shawl on each side of the neck.
I am not a big fan of triangle shawls, I've decided, because I like more shawl to keep my chest warm. (Being flat chested, I don't have much insulation there to keep me warm!!) I was glad that the short row shaping worked. I will have to figure out how to do this in lacy patterned shawls.
Summer Pleasure
Travel Mystery
I love it when knitting bloggers post photos of places to which they have traveled. Here are some photos of a place to which we traveled recently. All photos are from the same city, as is the photo of the flowers and sun-umbrellas above. I have enough yarn in my stash for two lifetimes. Therefore, I thought that rather than tell you where I went and what I saw, I would let you tell me!! Name the city and answer one of the questions. Take a wild guess. The names of all commenters will be put into a hat (handknit, of course) and I will draw the winner!

Where is this and why did it give me the shivers??

Who or what can cross this bridge and what river does it cross??

What is this building?

I will tell you what this is. I took this photo in the ladies bathroom of the building in the photo above. This is a sink without a faucet. You simply run your hands under the little etched drops of water and water comes out. Unfortunately, the little drops of water are hard to see. My husband came out of the men's room (which must have the same type of sink) complaining that the bathroom had soap dispensers but no water!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Knitting and Astronomy; Thanks to Amy

I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about in the title to this post. Yes, the BLACK HOLE. I am sucked into the never ending portion of a triangular shawl. I have only the last 36 rows of the landscape shawl. the longest 36 rows of the shawl. I haven't counted stitches, but I can calculate. It is LOTS!! I reduced the size of the shawl because it is for a summer wedding and the bride did not want such a long shawl. Nevertheless, this is a lot of steady, production knitting that I am into. I am on the last of the five stitch patterns. My husband the mathematician tells me that 20% of the shawl remains to be done--not counting the edging on the hypotenuse. Man alive, my goal of 15 rows per evening until I finish this shawl is unattainable. Nine or ten rows is my max, I find. I knit and knit, and purl and purl, and yarn over and knit two together and I don't get any further towards my goal. I have a severe case of start-itis for a new project.

Meanwhile, to add brightness to my knitting life, I won some yarn from Amy at Frenchy Knits. My photo in the sun does not do the yarn justice. It is a skein of Andes Yarn, 100% wool.It has my favorite color, purple, along with some luscious olive-y green. I can't wait to knit with it. I will make a scarf using the seafoam stitch. It will be awesome. Thanks, Amy!!!!

I love to garden, but I'm not a good gardener. I love shades of green in the garden more than the colors. But, my astilbe are blooming beautifully.
And, I love my day lilies, which require no attention once they get started.

Now, here is something else in my yard. What could it be?? A laundry basket, upside down, with a rope?? When the yellow rope ends, a black one is tied on.

And, the black robe disappears into the neighbor's garden, under a tree.
What could this weird contraption be used for???

Leave your answer in the comments and I will draw a name from the accurate guesses. The lucky winner will receive some yarn--as yet to be determined--from the stash that is taking over the house!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Experiments in knitting

Here at Gail's Good Yarn, we wish to report the results of important scientific study pertaining to uses of yarn and needles to produce excellent products. We bring you periodic results from our laboratories.

Experiment #1

Materials: Fortissima Socka, Cotton Color, Southwest type terracotta and browns
Two Circular Needles: Sizes 2mm and 2.25 mm
Pattern: Sensational Knitted Socks, Chevron Patterns, Chevron

Goal: Short summer/spring socks for Sockapalooza pal who lives in New Mexico

Method: Begin heel after one pattern repeat


Use of smaller needle for the sole to make fabric denser to increase lifetime of wear: Excellent
Effect of self striping yarn with chevron pattern: good
Effect of colorway: poor
Snugness of fit around ankle: Below poor.
Comments for further study: Rip this baby out!!! Start over. Next time with this pattern, use wool, not cotton, sock yarn.

Experiment #2.
Materials: Fortissima Socka, Cotton Color, Blues
Needles: Two circular needles, sizes 2.oo and 2.25
Pattern: Feather and Fan from Socks, Socks, Socks

Goal: Short summer/spring socks for Sockapalooza pal who lives in New Mexico

Method: Begin heel after three pattern repeats

Use of smaller needle for the sole to make fabric denser to increase lifetime of wear: Excellent
Effect of self striping yarn with feather and fan pattern: Excellent
Effect of colorway: Excellent

Snugness around ankle: Excellent
Comments for further study: Continue with this method. Make 2 socks. However, question whether these socks are appropriate for sockapalooza exchange. Feedback from question posted on Sockapalooza blog suggested discontinue idea of short socks for New Mexico summer. Further study recommended for Sockapalooza exchange socks.

Experiment #3.

Materials: Old sweaters, washed in hot water

Needles: Sewing Machine

Goal: Make mittens faster than knitting

Results: excellent

Problems noted: Unevenness of thickness of wool once "felted". Holes developed in thumb gore where hands grip steering wheel of car. Note different types of construction of fabrics before felting.

Remedy: duplicate stitch with sock yarn!!
Results: Destruction of pattern design of original fabric. Gauge is larger. Longevity of wear increased.
Comments for further study: wear mittens for additional year and report back to laboratory.

Experiment #4.

Materials: Laceweight cotton yarn, unmercerized, unidentified source. Yarn on top in photo is sock yarn. Yarn on bottom is yarn used in experiment.

Needles: Size 4 Addi Turbo Lace Needles
Pattern: Landscape Shawl

Goal: Make non-lacy shawl for step-daughter's wedding on July 2 in Seattle. Make shawl to recipient's specifications; i.e. use cotton, lightweight, non-lacy

Method: Knit as directed pattern.

Use of laceweight cotton: effect of draping--excellent
Ease of use of laceweight cotton: Poor. Hard on fingers. Hard on knitting technique. Need to develop new technique for holding yarn.
Use of AddiTurbo lace needles: Poor to average. Cotton lace weight yarn gets stuck on the join of the cable with the needle. Ability to push stitches onto the working end of the needles is difficult.
Ability to maintain consistent tension with laceweight cotton: poor

Comments for future: Pray that blocking will remove unevenness of tension. Pray that step-daughter will like result.

Thank you for reading this installment of reports from the experimental knitting laboratory. At the present, these are the only experiments in progress in our laboratory. Our scientist is working at breakneck speed to complete Experiment #4 in time to mail to Seattle before end of the month.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Taking care of those treasures!

As with all other sock knitters, I LOVE my hand knit socks. I love wearing them. I love seeing them in my drawer, I love making them. What I don't love is finding a hole when I go to put them on. Given the amount of time that went into making each sock, I subconsciously plan on them lasting at least 25 years! Consciously, however, I realize that holes happen!
After graduation from library school, I had a little time on my hands, or on my feet......I washed all of my wool socks carefully. Then, I applied a little pill-buster "machine" to them. This is a little hand held, battery operated pill remover that I found at the hardware store. I love it. It keeps my socks and other wool items looking spiffy! Then, I examined each sock for signs of wear. I rummaged through my leftover yarn box to find matching yarn, and I duplicate stitched any worn spots. Then, I put them out in the sunshine for a nice group photo! (these are only my wool socks. My cotton/wool/nylon socks are still in the sock drawer.) Then, I put them in a box to save for next fall.
I realized that I need a little more color and variety in my sock stash! I love the fit and texture of Lucy Neatby's Mermaid Socks, so I'll add that to my list of socks for the fall. I'll also add another pair or two of the Feather and Fan socks from Socks, Socks, Socks. And, I'll try some new sock patterns that the bloggers are making. Finally, I'll make some more of the elegant rib socks--elegant rib is from Barbara Walker's stitch guides and it is a fabulous snug rib with cross-cables every once in a while. I'll also get out a knee sock pattern to see if I can make some that stay up!
With my left over sock yarn, and left over sock yarn from friends, I've been steadily working on daughter #2's leftover sock yarn blanket. You can see that she uses it every night on her bed, even though it is not finished. (Her beloved cat sleeps in the "nest" on top, with the baby blanket I made for her. The cat loves the little bobbles--in a way-too-Freudian way--and sucks the baby blanket before curling down to sleep!!!) Currently, the leftover sock yarn blanket is 13 by 11 squares. We think it needs to be 12 squares wide and 14 squares long to make a real blanket for her bed while in college. After knitting up those additional squares (let's see; I've knit 13 x 11=143 squares and I need 25 more squares, for a total of 168 squares total!!!!) I will put applied I-cord around to keep all the edges in line. However, I'm not finished with sock yarn squares. Now daughter #1 says she wants a similar blanket. So I've got 168 plus 25 more squares to make!! This is a very long term project.

Non-knitting and knitting friends alike ask me how long it takes to knit a blanket (not a smaller size afghan) out of sock yarn on size 2.5 mm needles. Well, 168 squares times 2389 stitches per square equals--401,352 stitches!!!! (or, 401.352 for European readers). Multiply time-per-stitch by 401,352 and then add the time of sewing the sides together (roughly four sides times 168 equals 672 and subtract one side for each of the edge squares) and you have the total!!! I sew the squares in as I complete enough for a side or edge and, therefore, reduce the angst of sewing together. Just doing the math makes me tired.

I've been on a spring house cleaning of my unfinished knitting projects. I had only a few items on the needles and I decided to finish them all before starting anything new. (does this ring a bell with anyone???) I finished the shaped shawl that I showed in my previous blog and gave myself a big pat on the back. Then, I finished my Potomaous (spelling??) socks from the Knitty pattern. They are made out of wool/cotton/nylon. Therefore, they went into the sock drawer, not into the box for next fall.

I also got out my husband's Dale of Norway sweater which needed 1.75 sleeves. It now needs only 1 sleeve. Sorry, I don't have a photo.

I got sidetracked onto a new project!! I know, I can't control my start-itis. My step daughter (age 40) will be getting married on July 2. Last week I offered to make her a shawl for the wedding!! Why I didn't make this offer a month ago,I don't know. (yes, I do know. I was overwhelmed with finishing projects for my MLS degree!! How quickly we forget labor pains!!) I am now making a shawl out of very fine lace weight cotton. Because her dress is lacy, she wanted a plain shawl. I can't show photos or divulge the pattern until after I send the shawl to her. I'm using size 4 needles (the new Addi Turbo lace needles for which I have mixed reviews). Laceweight cotton is more difficult to work with than I anticipated. Plus, the stitches get stuck on the join between the needle and the cable. Rats!!

After washing and mending all of my wool socks, I got to work on my wool sweaters. I washed all of them in my super dooper front loading washing machine that has a superb hand wash cycle. I spread the sweaters on my floor to dry. This attracted Cosmic, who loves damp wool. I, being human, do not understand the glories of damp wool as a bed, but who am I to say.
Cosmic's eyes are flashing a warning--do not disturb!!!