Monday, November 29, 2004

Beauty Comes In All Sizes

The Big.

And the Small.

Just a couple of visual treats from yesterday's walk....from me to you.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Not a Stitch

I didn't knit yesterday. Not a stitch! I did the finishing work on the Aurora Borealis cap, blocked it, photographed it, and made a blog entry about it, but I didn't actually KNIT anything. And it was weird. I sat watching a movie with my husband and for the first time in ages, just sat there with my hands folded in my lap. How unproductive. Gaaak. How can non-knitters stand JUST watching television?

I haven't knitted yet today either. I have read about knitting on the Knitter's Review forum. I have photographed my daughter's knitting so that she can post pictures on her blog. I have searched the Amazon site for good Christmas wish list ideas (all knitting related books of course). But I have not actually KNIT.

When I do finally pick up my needles it will be to work on the Daugava. It is a complicated fairisle project that I am designing as I go, so I have to have a clear head to work on that one. Later tonight if I can find some quiet time......

Meanwhile, the sun is shining and I have a dog that has gone without a walk for three days.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Aurora Borealis Earflap Cap

The Danish Earflap Cap is finished and I have named her "Aurora Borealis". The colour scheme, with its shifting pastels on a dark navy background, suggested that name.

The pattern for this cap is found in "Hats On!: 31 Warm and Winsome Caps For Knitters" by Charlene Schurch.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I took the cookie press back. It just was not doing the job intended. I gave it a good try. I made four different recipes and got only marginally good results with ONE of them. The special Spritz recipes (that the presses are MADE for!) could not be forced through the press.

On a good note, the employee at the mall kiosk that sold it to me was great about the return. She was apologetic and honestly seemed dismayed that it didn't live up to my expectations. I was given a full refund.

In knitting news: I am working away on a Danish ear-flap cap. I think this one will be called "Aurora Borealis" after the colors in the northern lights. Pictures will be posted when it is completed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Foot Snuggies

These are no ordinary socks. No, these are Foot Snuggies. Warm, comfy hand knit socks with a custom fit. They match my Rogue Hoodie because they are made of the left over yarn. They go almost all the way to my knees so they will be great for those all too frequent days when I feel chilled to the bone.

I have noticed something about hand-knit wool socks that store-bought socks just can't seem to duplicate. Air seems to flow through hand made socks allowing your feet to breathe but remain warm.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Wallowing in Cookies

The experimenting with the cookie press continues. So far the jury is still out on whether it is a success or not. In the meantime, we are being buried in cookies! Every evening since I bought the press I have been making large batches of cookies. I mean, this IS a family of cookie monsters, but I think that this time I have gotten a little ahead of them! I keep baking and baking hoping to find the secret to success with this gadget. It is NOT going to beat me down!

So far I have made Chocolate pressed cookies from a recipe that came with the press. Far too stiff. I ended up filling the tube and then slicing the cookies off the end "slice and bake" style. For THAT it actually works quite well. It makes perfectly round cookies that are all uniform in thickness. Hmmmm, just like store-bought, but with ALL the WORK. Not exactly what I had in mind.

The next day I made Classic Peanut Butter Cookies from the label on Kraft smooth peanut butter. THOSE were quite successful. The dough is much softer for one thing, so the shapes actually came out through the decorative holes quite nicely. The recipe isn't meant to be used for a cookie press though and I think it contains a little too much leavener to have the cookies keep their details well when baked. Still, of all the cookies I have formed with the cookie press, these have been the most successful.

Look! These lasted long enough that I could actually take a picture. (Okay, I did have to slap a few hands!)

The ones in the picture are just the tip of the ice-berg. I don't seem to be capable of making a SMALL batch of cookies. It seems a sin to get all thosed bowls, measuring spoons/cups, and cookie sheets dirty and then only make 3 or 4 dozen. If a recipe makes less than 7 dozen cookies I automatically double (or triple) it. So....I have a lot more of these peanut butter cookies in my freezer. And yet.....still I baked on!

The next day I got an email from my mom. She had a couple more recipes for me to try. These from a Scandinavian cook book that belonged to her mother. So last night I gave the first of them a whirl. "Sprits" mom called them. I wonder if these are the same as the "spritz" you mentioned Debbie?

So I set in baking a large batch of "Sprits". Really large. Another failure. Once again the dough was too stiff and I ended up using the dough in a slice and bake manner. It's a good thing that all these "failures" are still edible. They aren't working the way I want them to, but they do taste fine and I have a large don't weep for me.

With each successive failure I am learning a few things. I have a better idea now what the consistancy of the dough should be. I think somewhere between the stiffness of the spritz recipe (very similar in stiffness to regular shortbread) and the softness of the peanut butter cookie recipe should work.

Tonight I will try putting Whipped Shortbread through the darn contraption and see what happens. Mom thinks maybe it will be too soft. If that fails, I shall resort to altering recipes. I'll hold back some of the flour from the recipes I have already tried and see if that is more satisfactory.

I have decided to keep the cookie press. I need time to get the better of the thing!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Baa Baa Black Sheep

If you are a fiber enthusiast you must hear this fun rendition of Baa Baa Black Sheep done by Wren Ross!

Check out her main site here:

Pre-Christmas Saturdays

I went out shopping yesterday.......a Saturday. I know. What an asinine thing to do. I was in a great mood when I left the house. I was humming. I was smiling. Then came the traffic, the line-ups, the crowds and the delays. (Do people who walk slower than a snail can crawl really have to walk down store aisles 3 or 4 abreast?!) By the time I had found a semi-suitable package of Christmas cards (searched through ALL the cards in 3 different stores to find them), and gotten out of there I was in a rage. I was gnashing my teeth and swearing under my breath. The thought of catalogue and internet shopping was looking better and better. I was hoping that Christmas would be cancelled. I vowed that I would not set foot in a store on a Saturday until after the "festive" season.

As I was leaving the mall I happened upon a little kiosk selling kitchenware. Given my ill mood, a present for myself seemed like a great idea. I bought a cookie press, hoping that a little baking would bring back my Jolly-Ho-Ho.

I thought I would be finished knitting my warm wooly socks by now, but I didn't spend as much time knitting last night as I thought I would. I ended up baking cookies instead.

My first attempt at using the cookie press was a miserable failure. I used one of the recipes that came with the press and it made a VERY stiff dough. I have never made pressed cookies before so I had no idea what to expect. I assumed that the dough for pressed cookies should be soft so that it could be forced through the small decorative openings, but was THEIR recipe, so that must be the right consistency right? Guess not. The dough was so stiff that I couldn't get the cookies to come out. (Okay, I DID get maybe one dozen forced out, but they were not well formed and it took forever and far more than the one to two "clicks" the clerk suggested. I ended up taking off the decorative attachment and used the dough "slice and bake" style. They TASTE fine, but I didn't buy the gadget to make slice and bake cookies.

Today I am going to try again. I have a recipe for peanut butter cookies that I know makes a very soft dough. I'll use that. I also plan to get my mom's Whipped Shortbread recipe. If the cookie press doesn't work with those recipes then it is beyond hope and will be returned.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

As the Heel Turns

Last night I got the whole foot of both socks done. The heels were a real interesting feat (pun intended) because I was knitting from a "toe-up", one-sock-on-TWO-circular-needles pattern, but was using a SINGLE circular needle to knit BOTH socks at once, and I was incorporating a heel stitch pattern that came from a top-down sock pattern. To add to the confusion, the stitch pattern I used on the top of the foot required an ODD number of stitches, but the toe and heel required both the sole and the top of the foot to have an EVEN stitch count.

I was flipping stitches back and forth, changing from one to two needles and even back to knitting the socks seperately at one point. The result looks good, but I doubt that I could ever duplicate exactly what I did a second time. Good thing I was knitting both socks at once because I would never be able to get the second one to match otherwise!

It's easy going from here. Round and round, straight up to the bind off. I'll likely finish them today and have pictures for you tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Twin Hats

Okay, so maybe they are not "hats", but the toes of a pair of socks. I've been plagued by icy cold feet lately and I had about 7 ounces of Briggs & Little "Heritage" wool left over from knitting the Rogue. I decided that the left-overs must become a pair of warm wooly "work" socks.

I am "winging it" as I go, combining several different features from different sock patterns. I wanted to try the "2 socks on 2 circulars" technique, and I did try it, but that method just does not seem to work for me. I am so used to using the Magic Loop technique that within the first few rows I had knit all the stitches off of one of the circulars twice. I decided at that time that the Magic Loop was far more intuitive for me and that I might as well stick with it. So, now I am doing 2 socks on ONE circular. I have no idea how I am going to handle the heels when I get to them. It'll probably end up being some kind of a hybrid of the two techniques. I could always go back to the TWO circulars just for the heels if need be.

The pattern stitch on the socks is from the "winter" sock from the Magic Loop book. It is a "beaded rib". I am working the socks 2 at a time and toe-up so that I can maximize my use of the yarn I have available.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Rogue is DONE

I finished the Rogue AND it is a success! If fits. (Bonus!) I spent much of today finishing up the zipper application and then seaming the sleeves and sewing them in. I really like it. I can now peel the Green Possum Cardi off my back and give it a good wash. ;-)

I am not too happy so far with my photos of the Rogue. Inside, using the flash, all detail is lost. You can at least tell the shape and fit of the hood here though:

I tried a few photos outside, but should really wait for a nice sunny day so that the lighting is better. A little of the side detail shows here:

And you can see the intricate cable in the hood in this pic:

And now, with that one out of the way I am free to work on
The Daugava
and to dream of other future possibilities. Perhaps this afghan but in a more nuetral colorway? It is a pattern from Philosopher's Wool Company

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nifty Edge Treatment

The Daugava is off to its second start (actually, about the fifth but who's counting, eh?). This time I am doing a sleeve first.....and am I ever glad. At least it started with only 72 stitches, but I ripped it out several times today, not because of mistakes, but because I was making "design decisions" and kept changing my mind or thinking of better ways to do things.

I really like some of the changes. For one thing, I scrapped the PWYC border. Meg Swansen uses this partially purled border to prevent rolling, but after doing the whole sleeve border I decided it looked too messy. The purls distort the pattern more than I cared for so.....I frogged.....again. I am much happier with it now. I have done a 10 row k1, p1 facing with a very special turning treatment which I think looks fantastic.

I invented this turning edge, on my own, when fiddling with one of the samples I made before starting the project. The basis of it is a knitted-in braid common to Latvian mittens, but rather than use it in the main part of the knitting, I used it as an edging. Used as the turning row it makes a nice crisp turn with a decorative squared off edge. Oooo, I feel so creative and designer-ish.

Another change I made is to the increases. Rather than increase with one new stitch each side of a "seam-stitch" every 2 to 4 rows right from the start, I have increased a little more drastically, but evenly around the entire row, only in the plain rows between the patterns. This leaves the pattern motifs intact all the way around. Eventually, as the sleeve widens and the chosen patterns get deeper, I will have to revert back to increases every few rows with that standard "seam-stitch", but for now, while I can, I would like to keep the motifs intact....especially in the cuff/forearm area where they are more likely to be seen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

FREE Stitch Markers

Hey, lookie what I made! Over six dozen stitch markers and all the supplies were FREE.

I found this little tip in "Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets". You can make dozens of stitch markers just using snippets of a plastic straw. I can use a whole bunch of them when I cast on for The Daugava so that I don't have to keep recounting. The needles I will be using are only 3mm so the small straw should fit just fine. For larger needles a person could use a milkshake straw.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Second Sleeve DONE

Michelle you will be glad to hear that the second sleeve of the Rogue is done, complete, finished....hem and all. I added the hem last in the lighter grey wool, like the dated body hem. Now all I need to do is block those sleeves (I did the body and hood a few weeks ago) and make the applied I-cord edging then sew in the zipper.

I've done I-cord before but I had to look up applied I-cord. I found several different ways of doing it here. I'll likely do that tonight.

Leisel I can hear the "Daugava" (new name for the black and white fairisle cardigan) calling. I think that when I restart it I will begin with a sleeve though. That way I can work out some of the design ideas on less stitches per round!

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Considering my recent set-backs with knitting, I thought today's horoscope was rather on track.

"You are too hard on yourself, MARLENE. If things have not gone exactly as you had planned over the last few days, there's no sense berating yourself for it. As long as you did the best that you could, then what's the problem? Likely you have experienced a delay, not a cancellation. All signs indicate that your goals will come to fruition, though it may take longer than you had anticipated."


My black and white cardigan was coming along so nicely. I had the entire bottom border done. There were to be increases done in the last row of the border and I needed to double check my math so that I would increase evenly across. As I was counting the 444 stitches I discovered it. THE TWIST. A circular knitter's nightmare. Somehow, despite my best efforts to avoid it, I got a twist when I joined it into a circle.

I knew I could leave the twist in, moving it along to where the steek was (seeing as it will be cut later anyway) and then knitting without the twist from that point, but it seemed better to frog it and start over. *sigh* There were a few things I wanted to change about that border anyway. Next time I attempt it I will start the border with two purl-on-the-right-side rows. Doing that should also help me keep that join straight too.

As soon as I had ripped out the first attempt, I immediately began casting on again. After 100 stitches I caught my hand in the circular loop as I was getting out of my chair and I accidentally ripped out about 25 of those stitches. That was it! I'm all for "getting back on the horse" after a fall, but two falls in a row? It was just too much for my over tired brain to handle. I packed the project up and vowed to finish my other works-in-progress first.

So that is where THAT project stands. I need to give it a rest until I have other things taken care of. Then maybe when I have those ones off the back of my mind I will tackle the cardigan again.

Thanks "knothead" for the excellent naming suggestions. When I get back to knitting this project I will likely use one of the mean time it is dubbed "THAT PROJECT" in a less than kind tone of voice!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Slow Progress

So far I have knit 3,996 stitches (more if you include some "tinking" and reknitting that was done!) and have less than an inch to show for it. It's funny though, the slow progress is not really bothering me. I think it is because I expect that this fairisle project will take an incredible amount of time and I am in no hurry. I knit around and around without expecting to see any measurable difference. I am enjoying the process rather than watching for significant progress.

As always, I need a name for this project. Repeatedly calling it "the fairisle cardigan" doesn't seem fitting of the grand nature of this designing/knitting adventure. Any suggestions? It will be a charcoal and natural,(softer version of black and white) fairisle cardigan knit at a very fine gauge with several different fairisle motifs. It will have pewter clasps for the front closure. The general idea for this project comes from Meg Swansen's pattern which she calls "Giant Latvian-Mitten Cardigan". Somehow though that name conjures up images of an extremely large Latvian wearing a mitten shaped cardigan......not the image I want to work with. Har, har. All suggestions for a name will be gratefully considered.

Friday, November 12, 2004

PWYC Border Graph

I had already mapped this border graph off once, but after casting on all 443 stitches for the body and then counting them off from the center back toward the front edges I found that the pattern repeat didn't fall quite where I had originally placed it. I kind of expected that, but you know, a gal can always hope. Anyway, this turned out to be a good thing (if you overlook the fact that I had to remap it) because, the second time around, the repeats ended up falling in a BETTER position than origially mapped. This graph of only 59 stitches represents all 438 body stitches (5 of the 443 cast on are used for the steek). It shows how the center back will be reversed (marked by the green block) and how the design changes direction at the lower front corners.

It worked out perfectly for a simple, yet attractive, direction change arrangement in those front corners! Yay!

On this graph the purl stitches are marked by the ' - ' symbol. It is a "Purl When You Can" border which is supposed to prevent the edge curling that occures when a garment is done completely in stockinette stitch. With this technique you (of course) "purl when you can". That means anytime you are working a stitch that is the same color as the one below it, you purl the stitch rather than knit it. Using this technique allows a color work pattern to be used right up to the edge of the garment with no hem and no garter stitch border. I must give Meg Swansen full credit for this innovation. I read about it in her pattern "Giant Latvian-Mitten Cardigan". (Wool Gathering #67) My border graph is based on the border she uses in that cardigan, with my own adaptions for stitch count resulting in a different front corner treatment.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I Must Be Crazy

I've spent the last several days swatching, graphing and doing a whole lot of math in preparation for the biggest project of my knitting "career". I am designing an elaborate fairisle cardigan in super fine, fingering weight merino and I will be doing it at 10 stitches and 10 rows to the INCH. That will be 480 stitches per round and 4,800 per knitted inch of progress.

Yup, I must be crazy.....but what a challenge. I've really been enjoying myself so far. This is the first graph I've mapped out. It is a design I found in Lizbeth Upitis' "Latvian Mittens".

I have four other graphs ready as well. One more from "Latvian Mittens" and two from "Wool Gatherings #67" by Meg Swansen. I am basing my design loosely on Megs concept of the "Giant Latvian-Mitten Cardigan" but I am substituting different graphs, a different size, different sleeve style, different length and a different gauge. In other words I am entirely remaking the cardigan and using Meg's original idea only as a jumping off point.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Autumn Splendor

It was a beautiful morning for a long walk....lots of crunchy, colorful leaves to wade through. I always forget to take my camera along, so THIS is a photo taken in my backyard after I got home.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Circular Needle Storage

This is my solution to the problem of storing circular needles neatly and in an organized way so that they are easy to find when needed.

I bought 15 "snap-envelope" style pockets and a three inch, three ring binder. Each pocket is labeled and holds one size of needle with as many length variations as I own. Now that I know the "Magic Loop" technique for smaller circumferences I no longer buy anything other than 32 inch, but I do have a few shorter ones from before that time. I have also used the pockets to store a few double-pointed sets.

I decorated the outside of the binder with a picture gleaned from the internet. It is of a painting of a little girl knitting.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Vicious Headache

I had my 10,000 steps for today all finished by 8:30 this morning! It required an hour and 20 minute walk, but my plan was to spend much of the rest of the day sitting on my butt knitting so I wanted to have my goal accomplished early.

I've done some knitting......I'm now past the cabled part of the second sleeve for the Rogue (finally!).....but a MASSIVE headache has taken over. It is one of those "hide in a dark quiet room" type of headaches so there will not be much knitting going on today. It is impossible to knit while curled in a fetal ball!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Lack of Entries

Sorry about the lack of entries lately. We've had computer problems. Big ones. We ended up starting over with the Back Up disk. I've spent days on the computer re-installing programs and there are still a few that I need to do. One is the program I crop photos with. I have my camera program loaded and running and I CAN crop with it, but I have never figured out how to resize pictures there. I prefer PhotoShop for that function. Without resize, it looks like my blog will be photoless for a while longer.

My sparse blog entries are also, in part, due to my walking, walking and walking. The pedometer is really doing the trick. Each day since I bought it I have been meeting or exceeding my goal of 10,000 steps daily. I MUST take at least an hour walk plus be reasonably active for the remainder of the day to meet that goal. One of the days I spent too much time on the computer and as the evening wore on I had to slip in a bit of dashing about putting away laundry during all TV commercials to be sure that I would make my goal.

Yet one more factor in the long intervals between blog entries is my lack of knitting success to report. I am still plugging away on the Rogue's second sleeve! It seems for every 20 rows I knit I have to rip back about 12 of them. It is NOT because it is difficult. It is because I am having trouble concentrating! I make silly little errors like forgetting to increase when I am supposed to. I can be thinking of it 4 stitches before it needs to be done and them.......fffwip.....I've knit right past the spot and on to the next row.