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Is it Spring somewhere?

February 19, 2015

It is currently -2°F in Madison.  I’m not complaining.  I will enjoy the warmer weather when it gets here, but this is February in Wisconsin.  It happens.  I have coffee and Hulu to see me through.

What really surprised me is that in the last week, I’ve gotten orders for 4 of the decoy wasp nests I put on Etsy last year.  Truth be told, I’d forgotten I had them listed.  There haven’t been any wasps around here for at least 4 months, and won’t be again for several more.  But still, I knit them and tucked them into boxes, ready to send them on their way to places that must be far warmer than here.

Today, I carved a stamp so I can pop a note in before I seal the box.  I probably should have mopped the floor instead, but sometimes I need to make something that isn’t going to be undone in an instant.  I decided to focus on the fact that there is warm weather around the corner.  My Master Gardener Volunteer training starts next week, so it must be so.


Now excuse me while I put on long underwear, wool knee socks, my jacket, mittens, facemask, and scarf to get the box to the post office.  Brrr.

Buttons should not cause this much angst

December 17, 2014

All that was left to finish up my sweater was the buttons.  I have failed to find the perfect buttons for my cardigan, and for now I am giving up the fight.

I drove around town to 4 places.  None had 5 matching buttons that were right.  My preference was wood buttons, but they were all the wrong size, the wrong color, or the store had but 2 of them.  I tried leather but it was the wrong look.  I would have tried something silver and old fashionedey if I’d found the right ones.  No store stocked more than 3.  What would you do with only 3 buttons?  I am disappointed in you, Madison Button-Stockers.  You are falling down on the job.

I ordered some buttons on Etsy – and gave them the wrong shipping address.  They ended up back with the seller in California.  You could say I took it as a sign, but really I just lost patience.  I ultimately settled on the wrong color for the sake of being able to wear the sweater sooner.  I’ll still keep a look-out though.  Switching buttons is easy.

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Punkin and I now rock matching sweaters, which feels very lucky.  She’s had a rough month, poor old girl, with cancer-removal surgery and then emergency surgery to deal with an scary abscess.  Happily, her staples came out yesterday, thank goodness, because she was an absolute menace to the Christmas tree – the cone of shame flung ornaments in all directions every time she walked by.  But I digress.  This is about our lovely matching sweaters (I did not knit hers).

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BUTTON UPDATE:  Moments before hitting “publish”, the doorbell rang.  The post man delivered a small package from California – the buttons found me after all, despite the long-expired forwarding address and being marked “return to sender”.  Hurray!  It’s a button-miracle!

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Sleeve surgery and final sweater assessment

December 17, 2014

Shortening the sleeves on my cardigan was far more mentally than technically challenging.  I used instructions from the excellent TECHknitting.  I measured 42 times to verify where the cuffs should begin, picked up the stitches onto my needle, and chopped off below it with scissors.  Cutting straight through knitted fabric feels reckless and horrifying.  I don’t believe I will ever be able to steek anything.

I started knitting ribbing directly at the needles.  Phew, that was a lot of extra fabric!

I started knitting ribbing directly at the needles. Phew, that was a lot of extra fabric!

I thought I’d be thrifty and reuse the yarn, but since I’d already blocked (washed) the sweater, the yarn had definite ideas about what shape it wanted to stay in – small intestine shaped- and reknitting it wasn’t going to happen.  Luckily I had spare yarn, because I didn’t want to take the time to recondition the old yarn.  I know it can be done, and I’ve saved the yarn to sit in my yarn stash forever collecting dust fix it in the future.

Seriously kinky yarn

Seriously kinky yarn

Overall I’m happy with how it turned out.  Three niggling things annoy me a bit but not enough to keep me from wearing it.

  1. My row gauge must have been a bit off because the arm hole is too deep.  This makes things fit a little wonky so I just try not to think about it.
  2. I made an error on the yoke in the back, probably using the wrong-slanting decrease, so there’s one bloody stitch that looks out of place in the nice crisp line of stitches across the shoulders.  I can’t see it when I’m wearing it.  But I KNOW IT’S THERE.
  3. The length is longer than I was going for – I should have taken the weight of the fabric pulling it longer into account.  But better too long than too short.

It’s not terrible, it’s just not perfect.  It drives Kyle crazy that I say this, as he knows the time I put into it, and to him it just looks like a sweater.  He is not a knitter, so he does not understand, and so I forgive him his annoyance.  I’ll still enjoy wearing it, and I can give it another go, maybe next fall with a different pattern, and incorporate the things I’ve learned.

7 inches

December 1, 2014

I had a niggling feeling the sleeves were a wee bit too long.

Turns out, they are too long by seven inches.


Next up: sleeve surgery.

I’d ask somebody to hold my hand through this, but they wouldn’t be able to reach my fingers.


Perfect Black Friday

November 28, 2014

No shopping around here. An elf slipped outside, unasked, to shovel while I wrangle the last details of my sweater. An underarm to graft, pockets to sew down, and 82 trillion loose ends to weave in. Cozy joy.



Where I’ve been

November 20, 2014

My knitting needles took a vacation this summer but I decided to go big this fall.  Cruising around a pattern database, I saw a throw I loved:

photo credit:  Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

photo credit: Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

Hourglass, designed by Anne Hanson.  There were problems.  I would never finish a blanket that takes 2800 yards of yarn, and I only really loved it because it was wrapped around the model.  (While she drank tea, but I digress.)  Clearly, that throw was supposed to be a sweater.  I was going to make it happen.

I’ve knit smaller sweaters for the kids, but I’ve never knit myself a full sweater, let alone one for which a pattern doesn’t exist, so this was a big undertaking.  (OK, there was one bag of a bulky, never-worn disaster back in 2006 before I knew how to choose patterns and yarn carefully.)  I searched for a cardigan pattern I thought could be modified to accommodate the cable and lace pattern from the throw, and settled on Little Wave, by Gudrun Johnston.

photo credit: Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

photo credit: Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

Lots of math and swatching and gnashing of teeth later, I cast on.  In the month since then, I’ve spent roughly 82,000 hours knitting.  I’ve ignored the children, the dog, the husband.  I did more math.  I knit some more.  I painstakingly unknit 4 rows.  I did more math.  I discovered a mis-crossed cable 9 rows down and performed emergency surgery, delicately dropping only those 4 stitches down to my mistake and reconstructing them correctly.  I’ve worn a nice groove into the couch, where I spend each evening knitting and watching Doctor Who.  The lengthening fabric of my sweater caught my tears when David Tennant died (Matt Smith is so not my doctor).  I realized the sweater is Tardis blue and that cheered me a little.  I urge the kids out the door to school earlier and earlier each morning so I can  pick up where I’ve left off the day before.  The dishes collect on the counter unwashed.  Clean laundry is in short supply.  I forgot to plant garlic until 12 hours before our first snow.  Every day, an hour before Kyle comes home, I desperately cast about the kitchen for something I can quickly throw on plates for dinner.  Tonight we might be reduced to cereal because I’m writing about knitting instead of driving to buy groceries.

Charts, instructions, and math.

Charts, instructions, and math.

Seriously.  Math.

Seriously. Math.

But the end is in sight.  I’ll finish the second shoulder today and all that will be left to do is grafting the saddle stitches.  And knitting the button band.  And the collar.  And the pockets.  And sewing up the holes under the arms.  And adding buttons.  And blocking.  On second thought, I might need another month.

But at least it’s looking like a sweater.  And I will never wear anything else ever again.

The beginning.  The sweater several weeks ago.

The beginning. The sweater several weeks ago.

Trick or Treat

October 31, 2014

Thirty seven degrees and they felt no cold.

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Knights ready to save the neighborhood from all the dangerous chocolate.

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Joined by cousins

Tea reports he got 87 pieces of loot.

Hooray for kids who love to share!


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