February 2008 Archives

Sun damage


About a year ago, I bought a sweater's worth of Elsbeth Lavold Cotton Patine. It was on sale at an LYS and it was so soft and squishy, I just couldn't pass it up.

Well, despite the fact that I've had it tucked away in a dark corner, in a bag, the yarn is showing definite signs of fading from exposure to sun. It's subtle enough, that I can't seem to capture it in photos, but when I try the garment on, I see obvious bands of fading at the start of each new ball of yarn I add. The effect is one of belly cellulite. I'm quite sure that this is not a look I want to go for.


But, even though I noticed this a while ago, I didn't stop knitting it. In fact, I'm plowing along. Why? Because I have a really sweet mum. She's going to over dye my piece, when I'm done, to even out the coloring. She's been dying natural fibers, at home, and graciously agreed to throw turn my brown eyes garment, blue.


I'm sort of giddy about it. I think that the end result will look even better than if my yarn had been perfect to start with.

I didn't have a chance in my earlier post, to put up a picture of my Inspir(al)ed hat, but now that I'm back home I can show you this picture of Inspir(al)ed, having a moment with Thea and me.


It's good to have an assistant.

And finally, more tatting


I'm back to using the size 8 pearl cotton (the finer stuff). I just love how delicate it looks, next to the size 5 cotton. I'm a painfully slow tatter. That image above shows several hours worth of work. But I have these visions of trimming projects in tatted lace and I get so excited, I just can't put the project down. By the way, thanks to each of you who sent me resources and suggestions. I've been trying to take it all in and I know I'll be coming back, again and again, to revisit your comments and links.

I may have ordered myself some more tatting goodies from an online resource. I've used this site for purse handles, and now it's becoming my go-to place for tatting supplies.

Tatting for 1700 miles


After an all morning meeting, my head is swimming but I was able to secure a spot on an earlier flight, so barring any unforeseen issues I should be back home before everyone is in bed. On the one hand, it'd be so nice to have a couple days to see Chicago, but on the other hand, I sure do love being home. I bet you can guess why.

Flying out was pretty turbulent with plenty of delays, but the view was grand.

mt hood.jpg
Lovely Mt. Hood

I kept myself pretty entertained on the flight. First, I finished tatting that little flower design I was making.

choker 2.jpg

It's a simple choker based on a couple different motifs in my tatting book. I'll pick up some findings and finish it off, eventually.

I learned a lot working on this. I don't really have any need for a tatted choker, but forcing myself to create a project help me to perfect some of the techniques.

Once that was done, I started on a slightly more complicated border.

clover lace progress.jpg

This version uses two different colors instead of the single color and single strand design of the choker.

By the end of the trip, I had created this

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I think I want to use this as the top trim on a little evening bag, something just big enough to hold an ID, and some cash. Now I'm thinking I want more tatting books. Evil little craft.

The one thing I find a little challenging, right now, is starting a new thread, when the shuttle is empty. If any of you tatting experts have links to a good description, I'd love to know. It seems like the thicker the yarn, the harder it is to join a new thread, but that could just be my ignorance.



I'm just heading out to a meeting...in Chicago. My flight in last night was delayed a couple hours, but I made it here in one piece. If I can manage to walk across the street without falling on my arse, I'll consider it a successful trip.

Since I got in at the time I should have gone to bed and my meeting is mere minutes away, I don't have time for a proper post, so instead I'll tell you to march your bum on over to MJ's site and check out her new pattern. I've already made one for myself and I love it. It kept my head toasty warm last night, in this brutal Chicago weather.



I've been working on lots of little things lately. There's a bigger item on the needles too, but I haven't had the time or mental fortitude to tackle it recently.

Firstly, the handsome one has been subtly hinting that he needs more hats. And by subtle, I mean he's been saying, "I need more hats." Leo wears beanies almost every day, and his favorites are soft, wool-free, and in a neutral colorways.

Worked in Frog Tree Pima/Silk [85% pima cotton/15% silk] this little beanie bears a striking resemblance to the Carlsbad hat, only worked in a larger gauge.

I need to get a shot of him actually wearing the hat. Right now, this dark, blurry shot of Leo (and the hat) watching me teach Madeline to salsa dance, is the best I can offer.

Hey, you celebrate your birthday, your way, I'll celebrate my birthday, my way!

And now that one hat is done, I've cast on another.


Beanie number two will be worked in solid black (same yarn) and entirely in 2x2 ribbing. This will be a variant of the Pismo hat.

I think Leo will really enjoy wearing these hats, because the yarn is so soft, but the fibers aren't as easy care as some of the other hats I've made, so I'll probably be casting on at least one more design, in 100% cotton.

My friend, Julia, was asking if I put elastic into my cotton hats. I never have and the hats don't seam to be any worse for the wear. Some negative ease seems to be enough for the hats to keep their shape.

On the tatting front, I feel like I'm really getting a grasp of the basic. I'm certainly no expert, yet, but it's all starting to make more sense.

These are the two types of thread I've been using.
The green is standard Pearl (or "perle") Cotton. It's size 5 and seems to come in a huge selection of colors.

The white is Pearl Cotton in size 8, which comes in little balls and is available in a much more limited color range. The craft stores have white, black and ecru, while a local needlepoint store had those and some primary colors.


The latter produces very delicate little lace pieces, while the former really shows off the texture of the tatted stitches. They almost look like little beads, to my eye.


I worked on this while riding the local public transportation and was really appreciating how portable it was. I was even able to work on it while standing, which I find harder to do with my bigger knitted pieces.

Passing fancy? New passion? Who knows, but it's fun so far.

How not to learn tatting


I'll be the first to declare my love for Japanese craft books. The instructions are always so well photographed and illustrated and anything that can be charted, is, so that the obvious language barrier has had no impact on their usefulness. I'm beginning to amass a nice little collection of knitting and crocheting books from Japan and I refer to them often.

But I'm a relatively experienced knitter and crocheter, so it is only a matter of moments for me to translate the symbols based on the accompanying photographic tutorials.

I am not, however, an experienced tatter. Learning to tat from a Japanese crafting book was not my wisest choice. Still, there's something rather exciting about failing and then figuring out the solution. Well, it's exciting after the fact. During, it's infuriating.

tatting in white.jpg

My little samples show a range of mistakes and uneven tension but the results are still gratifying. The finer threads are a little more forgiving, presuming your vision is average or worse.

tatting in pink.jpg

The thicker pearl cotton shown above, shows every little misstep. It probably doesn't help that I hate the color.

I definitely want to build skill enough to use tatting as an edge treatment on a knitted piece. It'll be a challenge to keep it from being overly dainty and twee, but who doesn't love a challenge?

Fantastic Birthday Weekend


What a great weekend. It was really wonderful of the US government to make my birthday a national holiday, this year.

My birthday, itself, isn't much to talk about, unless you think it's fascinating that our washing machine is oozing some sort of oil and we went to Home Depot and bought a replacement. Also, there was some grocery shopping. But Friday and Saturday were many shades of good times.

It started with my dear friends throwing me a birthday party. There was homemade chili and guacamole....oooooh guacamole. I could write poetry about that treat, but it couldn't compare to the delight itself. Why more food isn't accompanied by guacamole, is beyond me.

What was I talking about?

Oh and there was a giant chocolate cake. Oh boy. Yah, it was a good party.

As the fete was coming to a close, my friends mentioned that they were going to the beach the next day and invited us to join.

After conferring with Panda, it was unanimous


We'd jump at the chance to go.

We arrived at the coast, a while before the rest of the crew, so we hiked and played a bit, in hopes the girls might be a bit more manageable, when the rest of the folks arrived.

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Panda is a super star!


When our friends arrived, they were looking no worse for the wear, despite the fact that half of them were subjected to my amateur salsa lessons, the night before.


Thea greeted the group, as she does best, cooter displayed for all to see.


Larry and Thea had a little game of "catch me if you can."


And then it was back to the business of walking around the beach.


And walk we did. For hours, we explored tide pools and rocky outcropping, and, at one point, a local bakery.

We walked so much, we did this...


We wore out a herding dog. Someone please alert the media.

Those Canadians are good.


Also, apropos nothing, I decided to learn how to tat


It was a little tough for me to get the technique to start, but now I'm finding it really enjoyable, and delightfully portable.

Anyway, see all the pictures of the beach trip here.

Bye bye Chicago


I'm sad to have to go so soon. I wish I had more time to explore the city. But, lucky me, I did have some time to take in a few sights.

After bundling up...

IMG_0029.JPG IMG_0054.JPG

I took the bus to Loopy Yarns. Well, I took the bus a couple blocks past Loopy Yarns, but that's OK because the view was just fine.


Loopy Yarns was everything people said; friendly, inviting, filled with yummy yarns. I'll definitely swing in again if I'm in the area. And of course, I picked up some souvenirs while I was there.


Luckily, the good folks at Loopy Yarns were having a 40% off sale on a lot of their yarns, including the assortment of yarns I picked out Eeeeeexcellent.

I used the rest of the morning to slowly meander back to my hotel.

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Here's hoping there's some need for me to return soon, perhaps when it's a bit warmer.

Excel for Charting Simple Cables


While on Ravelry, the other day, the topic of charting cables came up and it occurred to me that I've covered using Excel for; colorwork, pattern writing, simple lace charts, and complex lace charts. But what's this? No cables? Have I been smokin' the wacky tobacky?

Now, cables can get pretty complicated, and there will be times when your design, just can't be visualized with the tools built into a spreadsheet program, but for pretty standard cables, I think I can cover what you need here.

As always, I start by formatting my page.

I've covered this in previous episodes, so browse those, if you aren't sure how to change the size of cells to be more knit stitch shaped.

Our first cable is going to look like this.

This chart would read, if written out:

  • Row 1: P2, *k4, p2* repeat from * to * to end of row
  • Row 2: Knit the knits and purl the purls
  • Row 3: P2, *slip next 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in front, k2, k2 from cable needle, p2* repeat from * to * to end of row
  • Rows 4&5: Repeat row 2
  • Row 6: P2, *slip next 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in back, k2, k2 from cable needle, p2* repeat from * to * to end of row

So those diagonal lines simply represent the stitches being crossed. They may not look exactly like other charted cables, but they convey the intention and the approximate look of the cable.



Thank you for your well wishes. I think you all warmed the runways for me, because I made it to Chicago safe and sound and slightly earlier than my original flight itinerary.


Now, my low blood sugar is dictating that I get some grub in me before I turn into a werewolf and go on some sort of blood lust rampage. That'd be normal, right?


I've actually been knitting, quite a bit, so hopefully, I'll be able to photograph and blog something crafty soon.

Well, Astoria and I are hanging out at JFK airport.

Luckily, we got here early, because my 6:20 PM flight to Chicago was canceled. I called Orbitz who said they thought they could get me on the 3:40PM flight instead. Awesome. Only, they accidentally scheduled me for tomorrow's 3:40PM flight. Oops. Ok, one more time and we have it. SWEET.

But, you see, there's this powdery white stuff everywhere, and my 3:40 flight is now scheduled to take off sometime around 5:20.

I'm totally fine with that, since it's still about an hour earlier than my originally scheduled flight, but I"m skeptical that waiting longer to take off will improve the situation.

P.S. It's damned cold here. Brrr.

P.P.S. Photos taken live from my laptop's built in camera and Photobooth software

P.P.P.S. That was Leo's idea.

Better than getting a pony


My birthday is right around the corner (the 18th if you're curious) and, true to form, Leo presents me with a gift, the moment he decides what it is.There's no wrapping and waiting around these parts. Who cares though because I got an iTOUCH! Squeeeeeeeeee!

Image copyright Apple Computers

I leave for a business trip, tomorrow, so I'm filling her up with music, podcasts, videos and photos. Yay for toys.

Thea just had her first agility course since November. I thought, for sure, she'd have forgotten everything, but she did great.

Well, when she wasn't on the course, she was still a big ol' floozy...

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This is her new BFF, Rio. I think they would have run off and gotten married, given half a chance. More than a few people felt they should go get a room.


So, yah, Thea had fun, but check her out on the course. She was doing great considering she hadn't been in a class for months. That was a pretty easy course, but I was happy to see her doing so well. Go Thea!



It's a relief to have this finished. UFOs really irk me, I think because I'm so bad about revisiting them if I've lost my momentum. I seem to be getting better at it, with age, but I still think I do best with a big burst of inspiration.

Finished Lily Front

You know what's funny? This might be one of the few garments that looks a little better on me than the mannequin. The very narrow hips and shoulders of my stand-in, make the piece look unbalanced (top heavy?), to my eye. Still, she holds still which is useful on these overcast days.

Finished Lily w/ Thea

When I first started designing this, I felt sure that I did not want ribbing at the neck and hem. I can't remember why, because I actually really like it, now. At the sleeve hem, I just used a simple i-cord bind-off to maintain the rather pronounced scallop that the lace produces. But, at the neck and hem, I think the ribbing does a nice job of producing a clean finished edge.

Finished Lily Neckline

Speaking of the neckline, I used a few decreases to keep that boat neck from falling off the shoulders. It juuuust covers my bra straps. I could probably have done a little more ribbing if it bothered me, but right now, I like it.

I really don't think I need to say much about my love for Calmer. I've used it quite a few times before and love it to pieces. It's soft, soft, soft, soft, soft, and for those of you who can't stomach the price, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the yardage and how far it goes, when knit at the recommended gauge.

All in all, I think it's another piece I'll actually wear. I'll try to get a shot of me in it, eventually, but it's a bit too rainy and cold right now.

Dusting off Lily


Do you remember Lily? Well, I sure do. I have kept the bag she's been in, in plain site, since I last worked on her in May. Oy vey. I put Lily into time out after trying her on, and feeling the design had gone astray. The motifs, running along the raglan, were coming so close together that they appeared to draw an (unattractive) arrow to my face. When I tried her on, I knew I was not happy with the look.

I put Lily aside and I wasn't sure that I'd come back. I usually have a very hard time revisiting sleeping projects.

But, something about the soft olive colored calmer and the lily of the valley motif, drew me back.

So I pulled out Lily and simply started ripping. I figured I'd have to rip back to the armscye, or further. But something stopped me, after only a dozen rows. I decided I should put all my stitches onto waste yarn and throw Lily on the mannequin.

The piece was rumpled but the little bit of ripping proved to be a good starting point.


I realized, I had it all wrong. I was going for a boat neck, but I was trying to make the neck too high. I think this piece is salvageable with minimal modifications.

I gave Lily a bit of a steam, and I'm back in the race.

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I'll tackle the neckline first, resolving that issue, before dealing with anything else. After that, I'll probably close up the vents at the hem and work a bottom edge that matches the neckline.
Finally, after all that is done, I'll assess the sleeves.

Let's see if I can take the U out of this UFO.

For those of you who like looking under the hood, I've uploaded some detail shots of the Linen Top, including the final ribbon I've chosen.

I don't have any immediate plans to write a pattern, but I think some people might be interested in a look at how the garment was constructed.


On second thought


Well, after claiming that I would need to use the pink or orange yarn and after an overwhelming majority suggested the pink, as the best option, I went with...

Linen progress top 1

...mint green.

Once I completed the brown portion of the garment, with most of the 4th ball left, I realized that the two balls of mint green should be just enough. I really like the pink yarn, but I'm going to use it for something different.

I knit and reknit the green portion, a few times to get just the right effect.

Linen progress top 2 Linen progress top 2 - back

When I was finally happy with the results, I debated doing the straps in brown, but decided green, with brown trim would be better. After three days of obsessing over the piece, the knitting and crochet are done.

The sun poked her little head out today, so I decided to get some shots while the shooting's good. The piece is just lousy with unwoven ends, right now, but the nice thing about having a mannequin is that I can easily tuck them away, and she won't move around and set those ends loose.

Finished top - front

So here it is, all done, but for the weaving.

I don't think I'll keep that particular ribbon at the bust, I'll swap it out for something simpler, but I wanted something there to complete the look.

Finished top - back Top with jacket

Here's a back view and a view of how I'll most likely wear it; layered under a jacket. If I had more yardage, I think I would have done short little flutter sleeves, terminating in the same lace as the hem, but a tank is nice too.

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