Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Ain't so Dumb After All!

This is a note regarding a question I posed a few weeks ago regarding reading patterns. One reason for confusion was that the pattern for the lacy ribbon skirt confuses the WS and RS rows in several places. A nice person on Ravelry pointed that out in her notes. So I'm not as dense as I thought I was. Whew!

Maybe someone can help with two issues regarding blogs. I know that at least one person has left a comment on my blog regarding the contest and the comment does not show. (I do not moderate the comments.) We went through the steps together and as far as I can tell she did everything correctly. I have had this same problem with at least two blogs. I have left comments and the comments do not show up, even though I am logged in and type in the weird letters. So if you can shed any light on this issue, please do.

The second issue is specifically with blogspot. Has anyone using blogspot noticed that when you add a post, the tally for the number of posts doesn't always change? I paid particular attention to this lately and am absolutely certain that my most recent post should have changed the number from 103 to 104. That isn't a big deal, just a bit annoying.

I didn't think to leave a closing date for my contest when I impulsively decided to do it. I guess I will wait to see how many hundred more add their comments. Sound good? Awww. We'll give it another week or so. And if you are reading and do not know how to leave a comment or if your comment does not appear, don't be shy...just send me an email or send me a message on Ravelry.

Disclaimer: Family members of this blogger are not eligible to win the contest, but they may still express an opinion about the button. :)

I don't have much knitting to show because I started over on the lacy ribbon skirt. The medium size seemed way too large. There is a considerable difference between a small and a medium, at least with my gauge--about 8". Getting the sizing correct is tricky. Knitting sweaters for my men folk is a lot easier because their bodies are just a bunch of cylinders. We of the gentler sex have complicated curves. On Thursday Sarah invited me over for lunch and a few hours of knitting to celebrate her birthday. I made considerable progress on the skirt front that day and have since finished it. My knitting instinct is pulling me towards starting another project but I am trying to resist temptation. If I make another skirt it has to be knitted in a yarn that does not need to be doubled. Doubling the yarn really a pain in the patoo-ee, if you get my drift.

Last night was Halloween and since we live at the end of a cul-de-sac we don't get many ghosts or goblins down here. The weather is unseasonably warm. We haven't even had a hard frost yet and I'm still seeing the occasional butterfly. I played my pipes outside as I watched the sun set through the trees in our woods. The candy was at the ready in a basket on the front porch. What a perfect evening! I got my practice time in and all the little trick or treaters got their goodies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It is a Celebration Giveaway!

At this time of the year I get pumpkin-on-the-brain. It is very closely aligned with apples-on-the-brain. Everything with pumpkin in it sounds good to me. I found a recipe for pumpkin spice muffins on a very creative blog "flipflops and applesauce". I tweaked it a bit and came up with this version which I think is very good.


One box yellow cake mix

1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup water

1 egg
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. Whatever you like seems to work. (No garlic though.;)) Penzey's Cake Spice or Baking Spice work great also.

I also mix up a little topping with brown sugar, cinnamon and oats. Press into the top of each muffin. They look prettier and taste better.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 min. I like using paper liners and fill them a bit more than 2/3's full. Makes 18 regular size muffins.

Without the egg these muffins are supposed to be 1 pt on the Weight Watchers scale. I don't think one egg distributed over 18 muffins makes that much difference but it does lighten the batter. In the last batch I added ground flax seed and ground oats and they were still quite good and a bit more healthful.

This morning I'm meeting with my prayer shawl group, Knit One Pray Too, at the local coffee shop, The Blend. It is really fun to go to The Blend and I wish I got there more often. It feels like a big city coffee shop in our medium sized town. Most of the ladies do not like attaching fringe to the prayer shawls. I'm not a big fan of fringe but I have to admit the shawls look somewhat plain without anything. I've been knitting a lace border on mine but that is too complicated for most them, at least for now. I found a garter stitch fringe in Nicky Epstein's Knitting on The Edge, p 99. The fringe is essentially knitted in garter stitch horizontally and then stitches are dropped to make the fringe. It is brilliant! I expanded the directions to explain every single thing that might trip them up. We'll go over it this morning with practice yarn. This little green bit is just my sample swatch. If you would like my handout for the garter stitch fringe, send me an email and I will send it as an attachment. What I especially like is that there is no waste at all with the yarn. If you weigh the first fringe segment at the beginning of the shawl and set aside the same amount of yarn, plus a tad for good measure, you can knit up nearly every bit. Plus I would much rather knit than wind, cut, and use a crochet hook to attach stringy bits.

I still haven't attached a button to my Mitered Kitchen Towel from the new Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Both buttons look nice. Which is your favorite?

In celebration of my 104th blog entry I just decided to have a contest. Vote on your favorite button for the mitered towel, yellow or green. I will draw a name out of all the entries and mail the towel (with your chosen button, of course!) to the winner. Spread the word to your friends over here, too! And yes, I will gladly mail overseas! Remember to vote for "yellow" or "green".

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Books, My Pet Coyote, and a Question

A few new knitting books have mysteriously made their way into my home. I have no idea how that happened.

Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines lives up to all expectations from the first book. Even a non-knitter would enjoy reading this book because Ann and Kay are hilarious. There are so many favorites in here, I don't even know where to begin. The mitered kitchen towel was my jury duty knitting. It is just ok and I'm not sure I'll make more. I can't put my finger on why I feel that way but it may have something to do with the fact that at the end of the knitting you need to sew on a button. Sewing on a button entails putting a thread through the eye of a needle. Yes, I know about those little wire threaders and I broke mine the last time I tried to put button thread through it. So the project is technically unfinished though I can photograph it with the button lying on top. I have a two Mason jars full of old buttons. My grandmother used to cut buttons off of clothing before giving it away. (I'm sure the people at Goodwill appreciate that.) I have to brag that the button I chose is outstanding and very vintage for the towel.

It was just too pitiful to be looking at my bookshelves and not see Barbara Walkers Knitting from the Top. This is a classic knitting book and HAS to be in every respectable knitter's library. It is a good thing that book finally found my house.

Ten years of Interweave Knits. Sigh. Look at that shawl on the cover. Seriously, how can a knitter resist that? Not that I had anything to do with the book getting in my home, you understand. There are a couple of projects in this book that I might try. The man's brioche vest would look great on my husband.

Digression: The little furry thing underneath our oak tree is one of our local coyote. He/she would not look at the camera. Sometimes he suns himself in front of the house and watches me get the morning paper. I'm sure he keeps the rodent population under control in the woods and fields around us.

Finally, Here is my question:

Until fairly recently I was almost exclusively an Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen knitter. Reading knitting blogs and being on Ravelry has tainted me somewhat and I now venture out into some line by line patterns although I rarely knit them exactly the way they are written. The Lace Ribbon Skirt is one of them. One puzzlement that comes up too frequently involves a line like this: "Stop with a wrong side row." I never know exactly what the designer means by this. Does this mean that (1) you should knit the wrong side row and then stop or (2)stop at the beginning of a wrong side row. I think it usually means (1). Usually I can figure it out by reading further in the pattern notes but it is not always clear even after doing that. It would just be so much simpler if the directions read: "Stop after completing a wrong side row". I figure if this puzzles a knitter like me who has 30 years or so of knitting (though not pattern reading) under my belt, what is it going to do to the new knitters? They must be baffled. Or maybe I'm just being obtuse. Let me know.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Double Strand is a Slippery Slope

Over the weekend I began knitting the Lacy Ribbon Skirt by Kat Coyle, from Greetings from Knit Cafe. After several attempts to find a yarn substitute the owner of my local LYS showed me Flake Cotton. The cotton yarn as a lot of variation in thickness and I am using a double strand. Double strand means double trouble for me. I keep ending up with extra stitches now and then when the strands separate and I turn one stitch for two. I am sure this happens on the purl rows. I am also debating whether I will knit this in the round or not when I join the lace panels. Sizing is critical and this is my first attempt at a skirt. I do like the look of the textured cotton.

I set up my knitting nest on the back porch where I can look at the birds and the changing colors in the trees. Since I had jury duty this week I took a simpler project with me along with a number of other activities to keep me busy:

  • yarn and needles for several easy projects
  • my iPod
  • crossword puzzles and word games
  • PDA with solitaire (last resort)
  • magazines
  • my new Mason Dixon knitting book
  • new cell phone and manual to study
  • snacks

When I was packing my bag of tricks my husband asked, "Are you taking your knitting?" I was momentarily stunned. "Surely you know me better than to ask that question. I'd go stark raving mad in that room without my knitting."

Fortunately I only had to go in for two mornings and was not called for a jury. Whew! Civic duty accomplished.

Last night we had the pleasure of seeing The African Children's Choir in concert at our church. This is the third time our church has brought them to our town. I volunteered to be a host family as soon as I heard they were coming but the organizer already had enough homes. With jury duty this week it would have been difficult so it probably worked out for the best. If you ever have the opportunity to see this choir make every attempt to go. They are truly a blessing and you won't forget them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Guernsey

My husband is modeling the guernsey I knitted for our son, Torben. I used wool called "Botanica" from Halcyon in Bath, Maine. This wool has an extremely tight twist. I couldn't break a strand with my hands without doing bodily harm to myself (I know because I tried.) The stitch definition is just fantastic. This sweater doesn't even need blocking!

I used Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Knitting in the Old Way and Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Gaffer's Gansey" as my guides. I totally forgot that Meg Swansen had an updated version, which I will use on the next guernsey because I do like the neckline. This one seems to hit right at the Adam's apple and beards and men's necks being what they are, it wears the edge down. My son is an inch or two shorter than my husband so I think the sizing is perfect. This was such a joy to knit. I used the crochet steek method for the sleeves which I prefer to getting a sewing machine out and struggling with tension, etc. It worked nicely.

It is rather embarrassing to be so crazy about knitting dishcloths lately when it wasn't that long ago that I was too snobby to knit them. Right now they are so relaxing and I complete one in about an hour with very little effort. I guess Mason-Dixon Knitting was the turning point in my dish cloth career although I haven't knit a ballband dishcloth in a while. Finding so many interesting color combinations in the cotton yarn is also a great deal of fun and I like the pattern stitch swatches.

You can find my notes on sweaters and all my projects on Ravelry where I am "PrairiePiper".

This is the waffle stitch that I used on revamping my husband's gray saddle shoulder sweater that I wrote about in yesterday's post.

The dishcloth "group photo" was actually taken after several were given away.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn Butterflies and a Darling Punkin'

I made this classic saddle shoulder (the EZ way) for my husband about 6 years ago. I don't know why the body turned out short but whenever he wears it he reminds me of a schoolboy who has outgrown his clothing. I had two balls of yarn in reserve but knew that adding several inches of plain stockinette stitch would not be a good idea. The new yarn would look different. I added a welt and used a waffle stitch pattern that I've used on dishcloths lately. Then I finished it off in one of my favorite rib patterns, which is the same used on the cuff. I can be proud when he wears it now instead of mildly annoyed with myself.

I have given away pumpkin hats--to infant twins, along with pumpkin muffins for the rest of the family. Are you impressed with my theme? The hats were better than the muffins. Boy Twin had awakened from his nap when I arrived. He wasn't even crying. He was just content to wait until his mom realized he might be awake. What a little doll! Little Sis was still sleeping sweetly on her back. I'm sure she looks just as adorable in her cap.
My dad was tickled pink with the ribbed hat I knit for his birthday. Since he doesn't have much hair "up there", he needs all the help he can get to keep his noggin warm.

Butterflies have been thick on the lavender and basil in our front garden. Regarding butterfly gardens, I've read that it is better to have multiples of the same plant rather than a smattering of many butterfly attracting plants. My former garden was pretty much a bit of everything. I was going for the English cottage garden look and think I achieved it. You might find a green pepper plant amidst the larkspur. I gardened in a serendipitous mode. Wherever seedlings came up I tried to leave them. This made for a rather eclectic, though pleasing and hardy mixture, as I think plants will thrive best where they choose to sprout. I did attract butterflies but not to the degree that I have at this house and I now have fewer plants overall. Often there were 4 to 5 Painted Ladies on a lavender or basil plant plus a gray hairstreak and silver spotted skipper. Amongst all the Painted Ladies I have seen over past weeks I have not seen a single American Painted Lady. I always hope to see at least several each season since they are particularly beautiful.

See the little gray hairstreak in the 9 0'clock position in the photo?

A Painted Lady is showing off her colors on the basil.

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