June 2006 Archives

Do I get a Nom De Plume?


What do you say when someone whose blog you love writes you and says she'd love to work on a book with you?
You say, "SURE!"
What do you then say when she asks if you can design the ugliest patterns known to man... out of acrylic yarn circa 1965?
Well, I still said yes and am now looking into various witness protection programs. I hear the French have an excellent one. Oui Oui!
The result is that I have my name in one of the most hilarious books out there.
It's like her blog on paper. What would you call that? A plog? Darn new fangled contraptions!
For those whose sarcasm-dar is malfunctioning, that was a joke
You can click on the image to go get yourself a copy, just promise me that you won't judge me by the patterns, except to conclude that sometimes, it takes a certain skill to make something truly ugly. That's what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. It's my mantra.

On another note, I leave for India on Sunday, so if I haven't replied to your comments, it's not because I'm rude or hate you, I'm just scurrying around all day, trying to get things in order. Expect light or non-existent blogging and emailing all next week. If I can get a good connection during my "me" time, I'll post updates. Otherwise, you'll hear all about it upon my return.

Are those socks gonna fit?


As I knit away on sock number two, the question arises, can a knee length sock with no shaping, whatsoever, possibly fit a relatively shapely leg?

All signs point to yes! Sock number two is actually a bit further along than shown in the pic. These socks will be perplexing passersby in no time.

Oh and thank you to everyone who left my blog a happy birthday note. It's so sweet to hear from first time commenter, old friends and everyone in between. Being the insanely shy person I am, I know I'd never have gotten to meet you all (even if it's only virtually) without this glorious interweb thingy.

The terrific twos


It's my little blog's birthday, and she's two! Only 19 more years until she can drink, and I can take her out for a margarita.

So what has happened around here since my last anniversary? Catch a year in review, after the bump.

They've got HUGE socks.

Well, my feet are pretty average, but check out this sock, baby. I've just started the ribbing portion which will run three color stripes deep, ending in a red stripe.

I don't know, maybe I'm getting subliminal messages about stripes but I'm really smitten with these socks. I should note that I own no (appropriate) skirts or shorts with which I could wear these and display them to best advantage, and yet I simply cannot wait to finish knitting both socks so I can wear them. There's a little twisted part of me that thinks I should wear them with one of my official work outfits, you know blazer, long trousers, ankle length boots, and the most crazy arse socks ever. The likelihood is that no one would know I had on my peppy long stockings, but if someone did catch a glimpse it'd definitely confirm my "not quite right in the head" status with them.

I've got some new handspun too.

Same technique as the redwood colorway, but in pine instead. This particular batch of roving has tended to leave a little dye on my fingers, and lost a bit of blue in the bath, but is otherwise lovely and really does spin up to look like a pine forest.

Nice buns!


Hey, remember when I told you about plying my hair and throwing it in a bun? Well a couple of you asked for step by step instructions.

If you want to see how it's done, follow the instructions after the jump.



pic_multipurposebox1.jpgI've changed my blog address from
http://marniemaclean.com/words/words.html to the more standard:
Moveable type just doesn't really like that word.html bit and I decided it was time to sort it out and getting it working properly.
Let me know if you experience any problems with the new URL.

Peppy Long Stockings


So I am weak. I had every intention of knitting a whole pair of socks on 2-circulars needles. I was going to force myself to become a skilled practitioner of the technique. I said to myself, "Marnie, you cannot judge a method until you have really learned it, so do a whole pair of socks this way."

But it's all I can take. The socks have gone their separate ways and are now to be knit on DPNs alone. In my defense, I did move them well after the production of both heels, so I certainly knit a full sock's worth of sock, these are just going to be particularly long socks.

And on the topic of long socks, my most current measuring efforts suggest that I should have no trouble reaching my knees with this babies. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing. This may be a case of You Knit What? But I'm proceeding ahead regardless.

From what I can see, I am nearly doubling my knitting production, now that I'm back to knitting socks on DPNs (and yes, I am accounting for the fact that I was knitting twice the number of socks before). What really slowed me down was the pushing and pulling of socks and needles to get started on a new row. In general, I find it inefficient, but on a bus, it's nearly exasperating, as I contort to move everything around without touching my bussly neighbor. I'm as much of a process as product knitter, finding my fingers antsy when I have no knitting to do, but my process needs to be product oriented. Does that even make sense?

On a different topic, now that I'm back to spinning more regularly, here's some more Almost Solid Roving, this time in Corriedale in colorway, Pine.

For those of you for whom my ability to describe a technique, has let you down, here's what I meant by the thigh roll. I haven't been able to find a good example of the cabling method I described for both my hair and for the spinning.

Four Plying Out Loud!


A certain someone gave me a wonderful little book recently on spinning.

This is a book one can read in a day but I have a feeling I'll be reading it a few times more, to really absorb what's inside. There are two techniques in particular that I've been meaning to try but haven't. The first, is the spinning of the spindle up or down one's thigh. It's not a particularly hard or scary prospect, I just never bothered trying.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you feel hampered and slowed by spindle spinning, this is the way to go. I haven't spun much because I've been frustrated that I can't get as much spin as I can draft before the spindle hits the floor. Instead, I would spin, draft, spin again to get enough twist in my yarn. That bores me. It's probably why I find plying a bit of a bore too. It's a lot of spinning the spindle, but not much else.

Launching the spindle off my thigh, though, allows me to get more spin than a flick of the wrist has ever afforded me. I have had to get my bearings, though. Too much spin and the spindle goes a bit out of control, too little and the spindle goes off balance. But, like Goldilocks, I think I've found the right method for my little 0.9 ounce Golding.

This leads me to the second technique I've wanted to try; this one for an entirely different reason. Since starting the whole spinning endeavor, I've been using a standard Andean ply which gives me a nice little two ply yarn. This has worked great and since I prefer a rather fine weight yarn and I'm not a huge fan of singles, I get most of what I need out of this method. However, I'd always wondered if I couldn't just use the same method to ply the two ply against itself. I'd been meaning to try, but never had, because I worried that with all the time spent spinning my singles and plying them, I might bungle the whole thing and be left with garbage.

Well, take a gander:

It's a four ply, approximately worsted weight yarn, spun with some of my Almost Solid samples from Spunky Eclectic. If you are wondering, that colorway is "Redwood."

The technique is outlined in the book and it gave me the confidence to proceed with gusto.

This probably won't replace my usual two ply yarn, but it's a nice change. The four plies means that small inconsistencies in spinning, don't really show and the texture is delightful.

As a side note, I've been plying my hair for years. I used to wind my hair in the same way and then throw it into a bun which produced the most gorgeous woven effect.
If you have very long hair, you might want to give it a try. Put your hair into a ponytail, separate into 4 even sections. Take two adjacent sections, twist both in one direction and around each other in the other direction. Make sure you twist them around each other much more than you twist them individually so you have an over twisted ply. Secure with a small elastic. Repeat with the other two sections making sure to match the twists so they are both going in the same direction. Secure with a small elastic. Now twist the two plies together, remove both small elastics and replace with a single elastic over all the ends. Twist into a coil around the base of the ponytail and secure with a few bobby pins. You won’t need many because all the plies hold themselves in place so the bobby pins are more to secure the shape of the bun.

Panda wants to know when this turned into a beauty advice column.

Happy Campers are We


I thought it'd be fun to have my mom send me some pictures from when I was a kid. These totally crack me up and I hope they'll make you smile too.

Catch them all, after the bump.

The Big Four-Oh Pattern Notes


Also known as "Curses Foiled Again".
This is the second sweater I've knit for Leo and neither have, yet, resulted in the end of our relationship. I will spare you my diatribe on the boyfriend sweater myth, because I'm simply too pleased to have this off the needles

I hope to have a properly modeled version of this for you soon. For now, you'll have to settle for it on me (and slightly rumpled).

Pattern notes after the bump.

And the winner is....

Well, you guys really know how to crack a girl up. There were so many hilarious replies that I just couldn't pick, so I decided to enlist the help of a random number generator to pick a winner.

The lucky commenter is: Leah with the word supercreativepurpleiciouspuppylovin'. She's been contacting and will be receiving a surprise sometime soon.

One Word Meme

Lemming.jpgRules: Please leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me — it can only be one word long. Then copy and paste this into your blog so that I may leave a word about you.

Found: All over the internet.

Reward: Comment that makes me laugh most by the end of day Friday, will win a prize from my stash. (either yarn or roving, to be decided by winner.) Made up words with definitions will be counted.

The ugliest little swatches ever


This is really the first time I've done test swatches for a design for someone else's book. I've had pieces in books and I've had sketches accepted for publication in magazines, but normally I self publish so my swatch is always in the color and yarn that I intend to use. There was a part of me that felt it would be good to run out and buy the "right" colors of yarn, but there is no guarantee that it will actually be the yarn I use, so I decided to stick to stash yarn, almost exclusively. The result is swatches so horrible to the eye, that I feel I'm giving nothing away by sharing them.

They are sitting atop the stitch by stitch chart I've done up for my Silky Wool yarn. As insane as it sounds, even for my own use, I generally chart every stitch of the piece I plan to make.

I wanted to get everything in sunlight, last night, and while the days are long here, there's only really one little spot by the window that gets direct sunlight. Guess who gave me a hand with the photo shoot:

She was checking the lighting for me.

And no, I haven't been neglecting my girlfriendly duties, Leo's turtleneck is nearly done.

On the commute home, a couple days ago, I asked Leo "Hey, do you prefer your turtlenecks on the long side or on the short side."
"Oooh, I don't know, kind of medium. Helpful, huh?"
So this piece will probably be done before my next blog post, but getting Leo in front of a camera, may still be days away. From what I've seen of it on him, though, I think it'll be worth the wait...hubba hubba.

We are in partial stealth mode here


I spent a good deal of my weekend working on some swatches for someone else's book, this weekend, so bloggable progress is pretty scant. I can show you my gorgeous Silky Wool swatch, though.

I am fighting every urge to cast on for this piece right now. But I can't and shouldn't, not until at least one turtleneck is done for Leo and my swatches are finished for the unbloggable items.

I will tell you that I have big plans for this yarn. Oh how I love the Silky Wool. I don't know how it stands up to the test of time, but it's a great weight, comes in a huge assortment of colors, has good yardage, has a delightful texture, is soft enough to wear against the skin and appears to have just the right balance of drape and structure to pull off a lot of designs.

In entirely unrelated news, I thought you might be happy to learn that the next season of Knitty Gritty has been scheduled.

New episodes should start airing next month. You can see what's coming in the next season by clicking here.

The two episodes that I'm in, do not air until later this year.

That's a-lotta sock in one skein


The socks have been my mindless diversion lately. They get knit on the bus or in waiting rooms, where the balls are tucked away in my knitting bag. Since I have a handy dandy cooking scale, I was able to divide the original skein of yarn evenly into two separate balls. After that, it was a matter of cutting of a couple grams of yarn on one ball to get them both started in the same spot (in this case, at the beginning of a brown stripe. The smaller of the two balls ends with a complete red stripe and a little bit of yellow, so it means I can have socks that have red toes, red heals and a red cuff. YAY.

What I hadn't noticed until recently, was how many repeats I actually had. I'm about to complete the second repeat, and it's already past my ankle, and then I have 2 more full repeats plus a couple stripes after that. That means my socks can be twice as long (from toe to cuff) as they are already.

I'm torn though. If the sock doesn't reach to my knee, and I'm not quite sure it will, will it just become a slouchy mess? Am I better off making a shorter sock?

I plan to do quite a bit of ribbing at the top of the sock (maybe 2-3 inches) but if it's mid-calf, I'm not sure that will help.

Anyone with sockspertise should feel free to chime in.

Ohhh, the horror


Now that I'm in full fledged "prepare for India" mode, I'm having to get things like Visas in order. In doing so, I've had to pull out my Passport. I still keep my first one.

This was issued to me in April of 1989 when I was 14 years old. No, that's not a mullet, I had bangs and two ponytails. Those white things are, yes, earrings. I never had big hair, not even when it was fashionable, but I definitely had big earrings.

Thank god I never ended up being a fugitive while this was my passport photo because I have no doubt that every news station would have run this photo of me.

Fourteen years later, my passport photo isn't much better but at least I don't look like I have committed a crime. I got this one three years ago with the hopes that I'd have some reason to use it soon.

And now I have another fug for the files, my Visa photos

I quote my mother, who once said, after I showed her a particularly bad driver's license photo of me, "Marnie, for a pretty girl, you sure do photograph ugly." I may be paraphrasing.

Swatching and socking

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You guys really make a 40 year old guy feel good. I, of course, tell Leo he's a youthful looking and damn fine looking man, pretty much every day, but he considers my opinion to be biased. Sheesh, like that matters. But who can argue with comments from relatively anonymous sources?

I have knit the mock turtleneck of his sweater and finally got him around to trying it on again and it looks great on him, absolutely delicious. I can't say I'm excited to knit several turtlenecks in the round now, but since it's all I have left to do, I hope to get at least one cranked out this weekend.

In the mean time, I've been doing two things.
Knitting some silly socks on the bus:

This has been the first week that I'm back to working in my LA office and I've forgotten how relaxing it is to be able to take the bus. I usually only knit a few rounds, since I'm generally too tired to deal with 2 circs and 2 balls of yarn (I like the yarn well enough, but it's like velcro to itself. Has anyone else had that problem with sock yarns?) I'm about 2 inches up the leg. I don't know how long I want these socks to be. I'll probably just knit for a while until I pretty much use up the yarn, or maybe I'll get bored, do some ribbing and bind off. We'll see.

The last thing I've been doing is swatching. It's my unfaithful little heart. I should be finishing, not starting, but what's the harm in a little swatching, right?

It's some beautiful Silky Wool that I bought from a destashing effort. It's been a while that it's been sitting in my own stash, and I've been reserving a little corner of my brain for ideas. They are still evolving, but I'm pretty sure I want to go with some sort of diamond all-over pattern.
After this shot was taken, I finished the lacy diamond motif that is partially knit by the needles and I worked a more vertically elongated knit and purl diamond motif. I then bound off, washed the swatch and am letting it dry flat. I would show you, but it is dark and I still have much getting ready for work to be doing.

Some people give me way too much credit, and Julia is one of those people. I wish it were true that Leo's sweater were finished and blocking, as she suggested, but it's not quite the case. However, it is terribly close to being done.

I'm just working on the neck now.
Leo looks amazingly good in turtlenecks, however, with sweaters, he finds that his stubble is always tearing the turtleneck apart, wearing out the sweater long before it's truly ready to be retired. This sweater will have a mock turtleneck and several separate full turtleneck pieces to tuck in and switch out as necessary. If that just doesn't work, I have the yarn and can simply remove the bind off on the mock turtleneck and knit a full turtleneck each time one wears out.

Leo has tried on the sweater up to the point you saw it in the last post. He has declared that the fit, fabric and look are all up to his standards, so I'm feeling pretty good about the endeavor.

For those of you who knit a lot of raglans, you may have noticed that the shoulder shaping is a bit different than one might expect. Instead of a steady slope, there is a true shoulder shape at the top. Do you see what I mean?

Here's a little sneak peek of how I did that.

There is an extra "raglan" running along the top of the shoulder that extends from the neckline to about the end of the shoulder (I actually stopped about a half inch short of the final shoulder length). Calculating it was an interesting challenge and I did it by printing out gauge sized charts and origami folding it to the right shape. This is not quite so mathematical as one might hope. Eventually, I plan to work out a pattern and will have to use my experience with this piece to write up a more useful explanation for determining the correct ratio.

Oh, and the sweater has been named. It's now "The Big Four-Oh" in honor of Leo's birthday. And I agree with any of you who share the sentiment that Leo doesn't look at all like he is 40.

But I have decided to whip through these socks for a little while.

I'm not sure if it's by design or by luck, but it just so happens that I was able to knit the toe and the heel in the same colors without cutting the yarn. I'd like to believe that the yarn manufacturer was brilliant enough to plan it that way, but it's hard to say. From toe to the start of the heel is exactly one repeat in their colorway.

Tell me that isn't cool.

Tomorrow is my sweet Leo's 40th birthday so we'll be spending most of the weekend celebrating in excess. May my waistline and liver recover quickly.

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