Friday, March 18, 2011

Sneak Peek

My last little hurrah before going back to work full time.

Sneak Peek

Though it's doubtful I'll actually finish this before Monday, I am having fun knitting a few rows between house cleaning and errand running. This yarn is handspun, and is striping up super sweet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011



Sometimes knitting is more than making a garment. In this case, the knitting was done as a way to make a talisman. The project, which I named my Bread Line Cardigan was made specifically to evoke the good fortune I'd need to avoid standing on one, ever.

Lucky me, lucky sweater. Yesterday I sealed a deal that ensures we won't have to stand on any bread lines. I credit this sweater for bringing good luck (oh, and lots of hard work and many many meetings, but I really won't bore you with the details).


I had the yarn in my stash since forever, and it never left the front of mind. I obsessed over this yarn - Berrocco Cuzco. SO SOFT. Lofty. Squishy. I loved it from the moment I bought it but could not find a pattern to work up until Aidez (Ravelry link) came along.

The pattern is fantastic. It works up really fast, the cables look far more complicated than they are. It was really fun to knit, despite some of my own insecurity on sizing, which meant I knit the back three times! Chalk that up to stupid second guessing. Need to stop the second guessing!


Now that I've worn the sweater a dozen times or more, the yarn does show some wear, with pills and fuzz. But I still love the sweater and am really glad I made it.


You can get all the blow by blow details by linking through to the Ravelry project page, above. If you're looking for a fast, fun and very satisfying project and you have some bulky yarn in your stash, I recommend this pattern. It's has the casual comfort of a knock-around weekend sweater if you wear it without a belt. The cables give it that classic Aran quality, and adding a belt gives it a bit of pizzazz.

Belted Bread Line ArmView

And if you need a talisman of your own, well then this is the sweater for you. Because it definitely brought me some incredible good luck and it's sure to do the same for you, too.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Bread baking: the latest frontier. This started about a month ago when my friend Lynn convinced me to try a recipe for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I'd tasted some of her rolls, which were pretty yummy.

The first attempt wasn't pretty. Kind of like the first few knitting projects. It's dense, and under cooked. Didn't taste bad, but I knew it could be better. I made note of the mistakes.

Bread 1st round

Back to the drawing board, as they say. I found and tried another recipe, and now I am full on into the tinkering.

By round three, I had a decent crust, and it looked more like what I am aiming for, but I think there's still room for improvement.

Bread 3rd round

Bread 3rd round crumb shot

Like knitting and yarn making, bread is simple in concept and can be hard to do well. It takes practice to understand how a few basic ingredients and some simple actions can add up to something quite spectacular. Sometimes I wonder if I have Amish roots?

Meanwhile there's lots of bread consumption going on - which may affect sizing my upcoming sweater knitting! Ohboy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Super Wash

One of the diversionary tangents I've been noodling within my knitting realm is Superwash yarn. I want to find a reliable range of Superwash wool yarns for baby knitting. Or any kind of gift to those who may not be finely tuned to Proper.Wool.Care. You know the type: the people you love dearly despite their inattention to the wooly.

It started when I delivered this set back in December. With lots of anxiety thanks to questions about my color choice - I got attitude about the color choice. More than once. Oy.

FBS Lace sweater

baby hat

But color wasn't the issue. Well, maybe part of the issue come to think of it; I recall struggling a bit to find a girl color (that wasn't the obvious PINK). I used Knit Picks Swish DK to make this February Baby Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac, and a matching February Baby Hat by Teeweewonders and it is perfectly acceptable yarn, ostensibly well priced for a Superwash Merino and it made a cute set for a newborn baby girl. I like DK weight yarns, that was my original motivation.

But I have to say, this isn't my favorite yarn - something about the texture didn't agree with my hypersensitive nerve endings in the right hand. It felt nice after blocking but the knitting was noticeably not soothing. And let's say you run out of yarn before the project is finished. Guess what, if you order just one skein, and because it's mail order only, you will quickly learn the shipping costs more than the yarn! Oh sure, I could ordered lots more yarn to qualify for free shipping, but that means spending more for less. And the truth is, I'm trying to clear space in the stash closet for yarns I really really really want. For me.

And so it began. The new tangent, a finely tuned radar, on the lookout for better options.

Another baby project, another chance to try some new (to me) Superwash yarns. Here I knit the same pattern the adorable Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap) using two completely different yarns.

Two adorable hats

The apricot hat used Tosh Merino Light from Madeline Tosh. A Merino fingering weight, single yarn that's hand-dyed, with a very generous put up at 440 yards. I bought the yarn and then came home to read comments on Ravelry relating big issues winding the yarn. Thank goodness I had no problems. Other than a tired arm from cranking the ball winder forever - 440 yards is a lot of winding! I had none of the nerve damage issues while knitting up the hat. And this tiny project barely put a dent in the skein, so there's lots more for future baby projects. I liked this one enough to know this is a Superwash keeper.


Next up, the lilac hat, knit from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Solid. It's an Aran weight, lightly plied yarn with a put up of 225 yards. It's a tad splitty but nothing I couldn't handle. It's soft, and feels nice going through the hands, but I did notice a tendency for the yarn to look a bit worn after working it a bit. To compensate, I went down a needle size on this hat project thinking a tighter gauge would reduce the chances for the yarn to fuzz and pill. I really liked this yarn. And despite it being a bit pricey at $20.00 per skein, I'll seek it out again for future projects. Especially baby projects such as hats, booties, even small sweaters that won't break the bank.


I don't have any more baby projects in the near future so I won't have a chance to try out a few I have in mind, including Cascade 220 Superwash, Berrocco Weekend and Berrocco Vintage (which comes in both a DK and a worsted line!). All seem to have excellent color ranges, decent put up at a reasonable price. Before you know it someone else will announce they're having a baby and that means I'll be trying these yarns soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Eternity

It took a bit of an eternity to finish spinning the yarn but once I finally completed it, boy it didn't take long to hit the needles and transform into one of the softest, warmest, coziest neck warmers I've ever worn.

Natchwoolie Fiber Club - May 2010 - Peach Cobbler

The fiber: Natchwoolie Super Fine 19 Micron Merino, naturally dyed. Really nice prep - it wasn't over processed like so much combed top. This one had life and it was a joy to spin. It flowed like butter through my hands and made me seriously reconsider my typical aversion to Merino. Likely caused by the processed to death Merino combed tops I'd spun in the past. Now I know.

Natchwoolie Superfine Merino Marled Peach

The yarn: 400 yards of two ply, started in November but abandoned for over two months when I suddenly lost the spinning mojo. Thankfully, it came back the end of January. I probably could have plied this a bit better, but I think I was so impatient to get the spinning done, once I returned to the wheel.

Etermity with handspun

The project: Eternity Scarf, by Michele Wang. Fast, and easy and very effective - it's always the simple stuff that works the best. These double wrap scarf/cowl thingies are turning up all over NYC so for once I am somewhat current with 'fashion'.

And life goes on...plugging away on a few things big and small. Fingers crossed we've turned the corner on this eternal winter!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mirabilis - Amazing, Wondrous, Remarkable

So much going on around the world!! Sometimes it feels like I'm living/watching a hurricane. Or, as they are known on the other side of the world, a cyclone. Which got me thinking about the most recent project to come off the needles. Because it's a true spiral and it reminds me of some of the weather photos cropping up.

Mirabilis 12

But really, I am getting ahead of myself. This is really a story about how to use up a yarn that was sitting in my stash, and how it was quickly diverted from its original purpose to fulfill another. And how the power of swatching will often dictate a project's outcome.

Here, the swatch, made while commuting to the recent Vogue Knitting Live a couple of weeks ago. A subject for another post! Soon! Maybe.

Mirabilis swatch

Zegna Baruffa, Settembre Tweed, a super wash yarn from Italy, purchased when Joan Vass shut down her business in summer 2008. I couldn't find any finished projects using this yarn, meaning a swatch was absolutely necessary. And it revealed lots to me. Like no way would this end up as a garment; I hate color pooling and a bit too busy for my taste. Too bad, because I've had it in mind for an Ingenue for so long I was a bit disappointed.

But once the yarn came out of the bin, I was hell bent to find a use for it. Kind of a self imposed rule I have. One way to set up some boundaries and then see how it turns out. Not that I am militant about self imposed boundaries, but it is interesting to see how creating a rule set defines a project's evolution. In this case, I had a couple of notions contributing to the outcome:

1. It's super wash yarn. Which translates to baby worthy in my book.
2. It's a busy yarn, so maybe something non-garment would work?
3. I have 10 skeins at 132 yards per skein. 1,320 yards! What is the best way to USE.IT.UP? (especially since it wasn't exactly showing its best side to me in swatch form).
4. Lately I've had blankets on my mind and in my lap. Let's face it - this is one brutal winter we're having. So blankets seem especially relevant right now.

Mirabilis 05

Which is how I ended up finding Mirabilis by Daniel Yuhas, a pattern that really intrigued me. Confession - I have a queue of projects so large I have them organized by category! Yes, obsessive, I know. So what. Anyway, the blanket category only has 9 or 10 projects and one of them is actually a round blanket using a pinwheel shape. But for some reason, this spiral one eluded the queue. How could that be? I mean, Daniel is my friend! I remember when he designed this thing a few summers ago. Anyway, no matter. I decided to jump the queue and get this project on the needles.

Mirabilis 04

What fun! What a clever, innovative pattern! From the unusual cast on, to the genius of moving around and around, by shifting stitch markers, to the very clever way the border is knit on, the whole thing was a pleasure to watch as it grew and then unfolded. Literally. I wish I'd taken the time to photograph this thing while it was still on the needles because it looked like a gigantic Rastafarian hat until I was about halfway through the border at which point it started to open up, like a flower opening for all the world to see. It was pretty amazing, actually, and I really got a kick out the whole thing start to finish.

Mirabilis 13

I thought I was making a baby blanket. But I also knew it would be on the large side. As you can see, it is kinda big, almost the width of my dining room table. That might be too big for a baby, what do you think? I have no idea, not having any babies nearby. Maybe it's more like a lap blanket for an adult? Anyway it is nice and warm. A good thing for a blanket to be, baby or adult sized. You see, I doubled the yarn which served two purposes - using it up (all but approx. 65 yards!) while creating a squishy, bouncy, cozy blanket.

Mirabilis 17

And if it doesn't get gifted as a baby blanket, I have another 10 balls of the same yarn, in a nice yellow that would work equally well and I have a bit of a blanket fever happening. It's entirely conceivable there will be another blanket to share in about a week. If you want to learn more about this blanket in the meantime, here's my Ravelry link.

Hey, Daniel - nice work! The genius of this pattern - the construction and the design reminded me of Norah's designs. Remember that poncho?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Foggy Blizzard

Whew!! It's been awhile since I've posted to the blog. Life has begun to spiral into new directions and my focus has shifted a bit. It's all good stuff, and I am really optimistic on 2011. But this is a knitting blog, so for now I'll stick to the knitting. ;)

So. I made a sweater for my husband! My project notes indicate I started this the end of May and finished it up about a month ago. Today, post blizzard snow shoveling we got a few pics and I can finally tell you about it.

Papa Hemingway aka Jose

This is the Fog Sweater, designed by Tiennie and knit up in Cascade Eco Wool. Knitting this last summer was nearly impossible between the wrist pain and the terrible heat, so it was put aside for a couple of months. But once the weather cooled down I got back into it.

There's not much to say about knitting 1x1 rib that hasn't already been said. It gets a bit tedious and knitting something this big, in the round, it gets heavy and bulky once you put a few inches into the project. But it's mindless enough and can be done in a half coma at the end of a long work day.

The sleeves needed some attention as the first version ended up way too bulky - the pattern had me increase to something like 124 stitches around which seemed really huge and long, if following the pattern, increasing every 4th row. I got as far as 120 stitches and attached one sleeve. When Jose tried it on, I could see there was way too much fabric under the arms and it was seriously over bulky. So I ripped it back and settled on 110 stitches, with an 8 row sleeve cap. You can see there's still a good amount of bulk under the arms, but it's acceptable.

Jose with Lola

The next issue was the neck/collar. I tried a folded collar, but that ended up looking silly - like he was wearing a deep sea diver suit but missing the huge bubble helmet. So I ripped that out and started over, with the folded turtleneck, as written in the pattern, more or less. I still think it's a bit too wide, but making any other adjustment would require re-writing the pattern and doing some decreases in the neckline/shoulder area and really I wanted to move on to new projects, so this is it.

Foggy Good Collar

Now, if I were going to make this again, in addition to reworking the pattern for a narrower neck opening, I would also knit in a few short rows across the back. Because it has a tendency to ride up just a bit. Not that Jose notices, but I see it. In fact, I had to tug the sweater down a bit before taking this shot.

Back of Foggy

Cascade Eco Wool is favored by many knitters, but I found it a bit rough to work with, and had to stop frequently to moisturize my hands. Does that happen to you? The nerves in my hands have become ultra sensitive and working with certain yarns can be hard on them. That's not to say I will shun the yarn completely, because it is a wonderful value and does work up nice once it's blocked out.

Now here is the most important thing I can say about this project: the sweater is well worn and loved, and this is immensely pleasing. I had fears he would find excuses to not wear it, but that hasn't happened. This is a sweater guy, no doubt about it. Some guys aren't - they wear button down shirts and jackets but no sweaters. I don't get it but I don't have to worry about it, since that's not my world. He sort of can't get enough of the hand knits. A double edged sword. Because no sooner do I finish a huge project like this, when the pressure starts for the next one! Sweet!

Rockin the inner Hemingway

Friday, November 26, 2010

Corespun Baby Cakes

Loop Baby Cakes 1/2 Doz.

One of my goals when I set out in 2010 was to play with corespun yarn. I finally sat down and made up a few samplers using a Loop Baby Cake pack purchased nearly a year ago. These were fun to make, and somewhat liberating in that I didn't get all hung up on perfection.

Corespun Baby Cakes

The blue/green one, which I named Ocean Reef Party, is probably my favorite. Because I love the colors, and it may be one of the better ones I made.

I'm not a huge fan of the glittery Angelina that many of these types of batts contain. And I prefer their use in moderation, not excess. Some of these had an abundance of the stuff. I am forever picking the individual fibers from the rug in the family room. Despite that one small drawback, I plan on making more corespun yarn. For now I am pondering how to incorporate these bits and bobs into future knitting projects.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful for so many things: health, gainful employment, family near and far, loving and being loved, my hounds, friends and of course all the fibery things.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Break

These last few weeks have been really crazy busy. After much cleaning, reorganizing and housekeeping these last few weeks, I took a break this afternoon to finish a pair of Fingerless Mitts (Ravelry project link). These are headed to the office for a work friend.

Double Dog Dare Mitts

I love knitting with handspun. When I first started spinning, all I wanted to do was make the yarn. Now I often spin with a project in mind. This was the Double Dog Dare Shetland from Southern Cross Fibres. I made a 3 ply yarn knowing I'd be making fingerless mitts with it. It's destiny was set when my friend saw a photo of the un-spun fiber and oohed over it.

SCF Club April 2010 Double Dog Dare

DDD on Deck

The pattern is pretty straightforward and has become sort of a handspun recipe. These were knit on US3 needles, to make a slightly firmer fabric (to keep out the wind). I cast on 36 sts and just winged the first one till I got it right, taking notes along the way, and then using the notes to make the second.

Double Dog Dare Mitts 3

There's always a bit of trial and error when going this route, as I often need to knit something to a certain point, try it on and then make adjustments as necessary. In this case, once I finished both mitts, I realized they were too short at the top. Last night I ripped down the garter edge, inserted a few stockinette rows and then finished off the garter edge again. Much better now. I think mitts should come to the second knuckles otherwise they aren't warm enough.

I'm nearly finished with a sweater, which needed some modifying to get a good fit. Almost there; maybe next weekend will mark the end of this one.

Foggy with good collar and bad sleeve

My spinning group decided to do a little Sock Knit Along, to help a couple of newbies learn sock knitting. So I decided to make a pair for my Mom. I raced through the first one, and of course a week has gone by without casting on for #2. Good thing Christmas is still over a month away.

Not a Child Sock for Mom

Saturday, October 23, 2010


About a month ago Mom expressed interest in the Prospect Park Walkathon. We arose today to a wonderful blue sky and crisp Fall air, perfect for a 5K walk in the Park.

Mom with TShirt

This being her first Walk-a-Thon, I encouraged her to do some stretching before we set out. This may also be the first time Mom has done any calisthenics! Since this is primarily a knitting blog, allow me to point out Mom's hat, a Koolhaas I made for myself about three years ago and which migrated to Mom within months of completion.

Stretch before Walk

The trees are still not at their peak but they are starting to look nice. The sun was nice and warm on our faces.

Trees on Walkathon

As we rounded the East side of the Park, I got a view of my favorite tree, recently cut in half by the Brooklyn Tornado of 2010. Heartbreak. I'm still ripped about this one.

Favorite Tree Destruction

She got a bit tired around 4KM, but I wouldn't let her stop! Mean daughter. I am proud of her, and though she cramped up wicked big time a few hours later, she was delighted to say she finished! Astute blog readers will notice my outfit is eerily similar to last week's. Once I finish a sweater I kind of wear it all the time, you know? Closer observation reveals all these hand knits are also hand spun. Whoa! Now I'm delighted, too!

Finish Line

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sheep and Wool the Rhinebeck way

Wow, four years of Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. And this year it was a mighty social occasion. My virtual world collided quite wonderfully with the real. I met so many of my favorite peeps! What a blast!



Lisa, Tasha and Bob

All these awesome, creative, interesting people in one spot! It was a dazzling display of yarny goodness. Complete with zany antics from knitters and coaches alike.

Matt and Lois

Tweaking the coach

The Spin City group swept several of the competitions this year with ribbons awarded for yarn and hand knits. Our Jayne took 2 blue ribbons. We are so proud of her and all the winners - Dawn (2 ribbons!) , Donna, Jayne, Lynn, Paula and Cat!

Jayne's Blue Ribbon

Cathy rocked the hand spun shawl made entirely from Loop Baby Cakes, thus creating the perfect foil for spinners wandering into the Loop booth. Loop at Rhinebeck and Maryland this year - what a wonderful triumph for Steph who, along with many Spin City members all worked tirelessly to put on a fantastic display and deliver top notch customer service.

Cathy Shawl close up

Marjorie spun and knit that sweater you see on her husband - very beautiful - the saddle shoulders are terrific.

Marjorie, Husband

And by some miracle of good luck I finished Zinnia in time to wear on Saturday. Four years ago the idea of spinning my own yarn to make a sweater was unthinkable.

Zinnia DONE

Most of all, Sheep & Wool is a chance to hang out with friends, revel in the things we love, and celebrate our hard work and creative spirits.

Food for the soul.

The Crew