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Partially done Cobblestone Sweater for Paul
For a while, I was knitting a row or two of a sock and then putting it aside. Lots of starts and very few finished — well none of them finished actually — got the finishing of about 12 socks on my ToDo list now and trying not to get overwhelmed by the length of that list .

Then I got in the mood last year and did a seat-of-the-pants sort of proof of concept sweater just to wear around the house. Paul — who hates sweaters by the way — put it on one cold morning and loved it. Seems he really hates sweaters that are tight in the neck. He wore it to work and around the house and actually had it on 4-5 days a week. It was hard to get it back to wash. The problem was it wasn’t even a really good sweater — just navy blue left over yarn knit top down with no pattern and not really following the rules for increases and the sleeves were short.

So, I decided to make him a nice sweater. He picked out some really nice grey yarn (Red Heart’s Grey Heather). By nice I mean it will go into the washer and dryer and be tough since I’m expecting it to be worn as much as the navy blue one from last year.

Got the yarn home and tried to find the Cobblestone Sweater pattern by Jared Flood. I’d made this sweater a couple of years ago for my son. Couldn’t find the pattern which was in a past issue of Interweave Knits but couldn’t find the magazine. So, went to Flood’s website and bought a copy, downloaded the pattern, and started knitting.

In a week, I’d knit the entire lower body and then needed to start the sleeves. Several month’s later I was still on the first sleeve with 6 more pattern repeats to get to the part where you join for the top of the sweater. So, I started knitting when I watched streaming video of class lectures, news shows, etc. and finished the first sleeve in 1 1/2 weeks. I took this picture of the body, pattern, and sleeves two days ago — sorry for the blurriness. The second sleeve is now just 11 patter repeats from being done. Once this sleeve is finished I expect to be able to zoom through the top and finish it. I’ll report next week on how far I get from this point.

I should also note that I’ve made a change from the pattern. I continued a strip of garter stitch up the outside of the sleeves (10 stitches wide).
Next Thursday, I’ll post another photo of the Cobblestone Sweater status. It feels good to be back into knitting again.

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The zines went live last night at midnight but I added at least four from people today and expect another one or two tomorrow. So the official announcements have not yet gone out to our mailing list.  If you want to be on the mailing list just go to either SFRevu.com or GumshoeReview.com and join the mailing list. We only send one email a month — we might do a special announcement email once in a blue moon and those, as you know, are pretty rare.

I expect that I’ll soon be back to actually  making posts with content soon. In fact, I’m working on a book review for tomorrow. It’s a fun, light romance with a British slant but oh, so relevant to most of us city folks dreaming of the quiet country side.

Finally, I’ve wrestled my Jali Sweater chart into submission and have almost completed a full pattern repeat. Yeah, me! I only ripped the entire thing out and started from scratch about 6 or 7 times before the light bulb over my head went on. Boy that’s embarrassing to know that somehow you forgot how to read between casting on and following the chart. But more about that project in another post.

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One thing about knitting is that it keeps you humble.  I cast on the stitches and knit the first 5 rows and discovered that I should have used the smaller sized needles.  So, I pulled it all off the needles and unraveled.  By then it was after midnight last night.

Today I finally found the size 5 needles right where they were supposed to be after searching there, missing them and searching the rest of the house. I find that if I can’t find something it will show up in plain sight once I give up after a couple of hours. Once again this held true.  So, with needles in hand I cast on again and knit the first 5 rows.  Then I had to change to the size 6 needles.  This took a while because I wanted to move the size 6 to a new length cord and found that they wouldn’t go on that one but they did go back on the shorter cord no problem.  I’m flexible.  So, the shorter cord it was  and the sweater still fit.

The body of the sweater is knit all in one piece up to the armholes.  So the first row is the set up row where you place the markers for the front edge, front panel, underarm panel, back, other underarm panel, front panel, and front edge.  That part went really well.

Next is the first pattern row.  Front panel — no problem.  Get to the back panel and I ended up knitting in and pulling it out four time.  The problem was that somehow I forgot to check the chart for the size I was knitting and make sure I stayed within the right colors.  Evidently, I have a very short attention span, can’t distinguish colors, and/or can’t remember the size I’m knitting.  Finally on try number 4 — I managed to get the right section of the chart done the correct number of time to fit the stitches available.  Then I breezed through the other sections.

Now that the first row of the charts are done it should be much easier to keep track as  I can read the knitting to make sure I find the right place on the charts.  Yeah, I know I’ve probably set myself up for a zap from the knitting hubris goddess but a girl’s gotta dream.

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It seems that the old saying, “the faster I go, the behinder I get” is getting a workout in my life.  The zines go live on June 1st.  But then you probably knew that.  But, I’m going to be at Balticon from May 28th to 31st — I think you begin to see the problem. Now add to the mix that I’m going to be on a couple of panels and will need to prepare for that. Then add that I’ll be helping a bit with the WSFA/Capclave table at the convention. My time is being eaten away and I still have things to do, reviews to edit, books to finish, my own reviews to finish writing. I love it when those deadlines come upon me like a tsunami of ginormous proportions — well I should learn to love them it happens so often in my life.

Meanwhile, the cat has been vaccinated, dewormed, chipped, and treated for ear mites. He needs to go back to the vet again next week to get his ears checked out again. I’m not sure how we’ll get him in the cat carrier this time. We had to pick him up and push him in last time getting all four paws into the opening. I understand that they had just as much of a fight getting him out at the vets. They turned the cage so the door was at the bottom and he still didn’t come out. The assistant held the carrier while Hyperion reached in to disengage paws.  After treatment though he couldn’t get in the carrier fast enough. It’s been a few days and he doesn’t take off when we both come out of the house at the same time anymore. It takes two of us to get him in the carrier so he’s very cautious of the two of us together.

Jali Cardigan from Interweave KnitsI got the yarn for a sweater from the new Interweave Knits; the Jali Cardigan. I had to order the yarn from Lion Brand since none of the stores near me had it. I’m making the sweater in Hyacinth — which is a sort of light many times washed denim shade and no where near as dark as the swatch on the website. Now I just have to find my circular No. 6 needle long enough for the sweater. Heck I even did a swatch and washed and dried it. Love the feel of the yarn — soft and nicely drappy.

I’m really hoping I can finish this sweater in time for Readercon. It’s nice to have deadlines they make such a nice breeze as the pass you by. Who knows maybe I will figure out a way to knit in my sleep and I will finish it. I’ll try to post updates as I move along on this project.

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Sausalito Sweater in piecesHuge thunderstorm tonight. Sky was a strange pink between the trees and the lightning. Rained hard with blowing wind. I love storms. It tailed off again, then back, then gone again.

We got in our copy of True Blood and watched the first four episodes. Quite good but I’ll do more on that later when I’ve seen the full season.

Finished all the parts of the sweater I’ve been working on and started sewing it together. Goofed on one of the shoulder seams and now need to decide what to do — pull it out (difficult because I already did the ends in; try to fix by doing a bigger seam just deeper to take in the ripple; or just leave it because I’m probably the only one who’ll even notice it.

Right now I’m liking option three. Another knitter might notice the badly sewn seam. But I know in my heart that it will bug me. So, I guess tomorrow I’ll have to tease it apart and start all over because as much as I’d like to just leave it be — I know I’d see it as a big whopping “look at me” sign that would drive me crazy. So, big sigh, I’ll know I’ll take it apart but I’ve just got to pretend for a while that I won’t.

What do you do when you see a mistake you made? Fix it? Ignore it? Pretend it isn’t there and try harder next time? Me. I can’t ignore it because it tasks me with its existence even when it’s my mistake. I have to make and effort to fix it or get over it and move on.

I guess often knitting and craft work is a microcosm for how you deal with life…but I really don’t want to examine that thought too much right now.

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June Coffee Cup -- Relax
This month’s cup has the simple clean lines that I like. I bought this on super sale in Home Goods but I almost think it was one of the cups that Starbucks had for sale last winter. It just seemed that since June, for many people, is summertime, it might be nice to have a cup that said relax in silly droopy letters. I also liked the rounded shape and the splash of red on the rim — then the not so subtle hint to sit in a comfy chair with a big bowl of popcorn. It made me smile and, for me, that’s one of the most important jobs my monthly coffee cup has — other than holding the beverage without leaking of course.

This past weekend we caught a squirrel on the deck trying to drop the bird feeder into the yard. We’ll I don’t mean we actually caught him — those guys are sly and crafty — we saw him. Hyperion got out the super-soaker, charged it up, and managed to catch him with a spray of water twice (or it might have been two squirrels and we got each one once). We thought we’d discouraged him because while we made noise and frightened them off the deck all weekend and the feeder stayed in place. You see a week or so ago, I went out to get the mail and the feeder was on the ground. Since it hooks over one of those cast-iron garden planter holders, we thought it was pretty had for this to happen by chance. Some pretty big birds eat on the feeder by holding on and curling under it. But it was one of those things where you shrug and move on. It also seemed that a lot of the food ends up on the ground for the ground feeders but then some of those birds are really messy eaters.

Mourning Dove (the pidgeons of the south) on our railingBut on Saturday, we were sitting in the living room (from there you can see the feeder on its hook), and a squirrel was on the railing climbing up the garden rod and trying to get the feeder off the hook. We bolted for the door and slide it open and he took off down the deck and stairs. So, the mystery of how the feeder ended up on the ground was solved. We now only fill the feeder 1/4 full and keep a closer eye on the feeder to check for squirrels. The super-soaker is right by the door (I don’t use it but Hyperion does — we got it when the woodpeckers were using our house as a mating drum).

Today a Mourning Dove was sitting on the railing when I went to look out at the feeder. It sat there long enough for me to get my camera, come back, try to focus through the door and screen, and take several photos. I haven’t been able to get a photo of the cow bird or the tufted titmouse yet. By the time I gather my camera and get back they’re gone. The birds have started pecking on the window when the feeder is empty. Guess since we put less in it when we fill it they figure they have to ask for seconds — or firsts.

The pattern photo and one front, the back, and start of the other frontRemember when I said I was putting myself on notice that I had to finish up some of my unfinished knitting projects. Well, after finishing two pairs of socks, I dug out Sausalito (from dolce handknits, 2005). I feel in love with it when I saw it in one of the knitting catalogs I get. That spring I picked up the pattern at Maryland Sheep & Wool from Koenig Farm, Spinnery & Yarn Shop. I’d also picked up two cones of cotton yarn one cream and one a really sort of strange green. I didn’t have the yarn the pattern called for but I found knitting the gauge swatch with one strand of each color that I made gauge and I sort of liked the green toned down by the cream. It made a nice soft fabric that seem perfect for spring and summer wear. So, I cast on and knit like a house on fire until I finished the back, and got up to the decreases on the left front. Then I made a mistake. Then I corrected for the error and kept on going. Then I made another one and corrected for that one too. Then I remembered that I’d have to make the same mistakes on the right side to match and I knew that was just asking too much– I knew I had to unravel the front down to the start of the decreases and do it right so it went into a zip-lock bag at the back of the closet.

I dug it out after the socks got done and sat and stared at it. I still like it. I loved the pattern and this was coming out really well until I goofed. So, since I didn’t have a rescue line in the front and the pattern is a butterfly stitch, the only way I was going to unravel it was to unknit it. Secondly, since the yarn was on cones I was going to end up with a huge pile of yarn in knots. So, I got an empty toilet paper roll and started to unknit…and unknit…and unknit. I’d then wind the yarn onto the TP roll to keep it from tangling and unknit some more. Then I started to reknit the decreases on the front. Unknit the mistake. Reread the pattern. Start the decreases again. Unknit. Reread. I think I did that a total of six times before I finally got it right.

Now, I have to say there’s nothing wrong with the pattern. If you follow it, it works. The problem was the reader — me — for some reason, I’d read the directions and then go off and do my own thing. The instructions just went in the eyes and out the ears not stopping at the brain. Once it finally clicked — boy did I feel like an ID-10-T. But now the left front is done. I’m only 2 1/2 inches away from doing the decreases on the right front and hoping that the lessons learned will stay with me until that’s done. Then it’s just two sleeves. Sew it all together. Crochet along the edges. Make a button loop. Add a button. And I’ll have a new sweater for spring, summer, and fall. I expect to have it done by the end of the month — sooner if I can get my time organized a bit better this month. At least we’re not changing servers, so that should help.

So, who else is working on UFOs? I’ve got three more I’ve found digging through the knit storage area. But now that I finished my sweater I don’t have any socks on the needles or in the unfinished pile so I got yarn out and a pattern (haven’t done one of those in a while) and plan to start a new pair of socks for take-along when traveling. Socks are great for that.

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Blue top-down sweaterI’m rather proud of myself in finishing this sweater. It’s not just that I finished it. It’s that for the very first time, I’m made a sweater from scratch with no pattern. I had a book on top-down sweaters and that told me that I had to increase every row or if not every row then when I did I had to do the equivalent number of increases for the total of the rows that I’d done. I swatched and swatched and still had a few problems.

I used the swatch and measurements to decide just how many stitches to cast on and then once I got about an inch found out it was way to big. Frogged. Reduced the number of stitches by a third and started again. It looked like it was going to be all right until I did the join under the arms and tried it on and found the neck was too loose again. What the heck, I decided I’d pick up stitches around the neck after I finished and knit up an inch or inch and a half — that’s what I did this weekend.

So, I finally finished the neck and wove in the few ends there were and tried it on. It may not look like much to you but it’s a real accomplishment to me. My first sweater that’s from my mind — to yarn — to finish. It’s rather exciting. I did a happy dance and glowed a bit after it was done.

Of course, now that the temps are in the 80s and above, I won’t be wearing it much until fall. It was in the 60s and rainy outside all day. We walked down to the road to get the paper between downpours. But, with the furnace out of it, it was 80 in the house. We kept the sliding doors open with just the screen to let fresh (cooler) air in and the living room was fine. Of course, we had to close it when the rain sheeted at a slant. The rain also meant we didn’t get to do any of the yard work we had planned for today.

Since we couldn’t work outside, we moved some basement boxes and got ready for some major clean up. I dug out a sweater project I had on the needles last spring for a short cotton cardigan. I finished the back and half of one front so guess that’s now on the top of the to-be-finished list. I’m on a roll in the finishing knit projects. I’ve got to make a list of all the things on my needles and figure out a way to get them done.

Maryland Sheep and Wool is the first weekend May and I intend to have a few of these lingering projects finished and a list of projects I want to do so I can have a bit of organization to my wandering the booths. Who am I kidding? I don’t know. I’ll have a great time just breathing in the wool fumes and patting the fiber.

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Beginning of yoke sweater.And if you laugh at that, you’re probably tired-er than I am. It’s been really hectic the last couple of days and I really needed a break. I think I mentioned a while back that my favorite kicking around the house sweater is falling apart after years and years of faithful service. So, I bought yarn and decided that I wanted to learn to do a top down sweater. I got all my books out and decided to do a full yoke but I wanted it to be loose so I could wear it comfortably with turtlenecks and shirts.

So, I did a gauge swatch, measured it, then calculated how many stitches I’d need for to get the neck size I wanted (I measured that with a cloth measuring tape). I cast on the stitches and started with my knit 2, purl 2 border. Well lets just say as with my usual experience with gauge that it could have fit me and several of my close friends. So, back to the frog pond with it. Since it’s a fuzzy boucle-type yarn, I lost some of it in trying to rip it out.

Now that I got the obligatory lying scumbag of a gauge swatch out of the way, I eye-balled the stitches as I added them on giving care to remember that once I knit a few rows they’d loosen up a bit. Looks like I’m on my way. I’ve got 10 rows of K2P2 ribbing and then increased 20 stitiches, then I’ve been increasing 20 stitches every 6th row since. Now I’ve got to figure out the depth of the yoke.

I may decide I’m getting the hang of this flying by the seat of my pants knitting. Guess this will be my knitting challenge this year to just try out different things and not be afraid to fail. Knitting as a metaphor for life I guess. I’m writing down the directions as I go and hope to have them available when I finish this — then I’ll post as a pdf. If anyone’s done a full yoke top-down sweater and has some sage advice/helpful tips, believe me I’m all ears (or eyes in the case of reading off screen).

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