I'm not sure how "perfected" it will be, but I'm giving it a go.


I truely do not understand yarn manufacturer's gauge recommendations at all. This is Araucania Nature Wool, which gives a gauge of 18 stitches and 24 rows per 4" on size 5 needles on the skein sleeve. While I can achieve that gauge I need to use size 8 needles (5mm) to do it, and the resulting fabric is pretty loosey-goosey. I am working it up on size 2 (!) (2.75mm) needles, and getting a gauge of 24 stitches and 30 rows per 4". I've washed and blocked (laid out) the fabric, and it is lovely. The stitches are nice and tight and even, but there still is a good deal of drape. It isn't difficult or painful to knit at all. I must be morphing into the world's loosest knitter.

I'm up to row 30 (after the purled turning row, which I did not count), just past the second set of decreases. I'm already regretting not doing a knitted-in hem, and am worrying over the sewing in of the hem. The needle I am using is a fairly short bamboo circular, so the knitted fabric is curling quite a bit, especially so since there is no slack in the cord. The yarn catches on the needle join as well, which is quite annoying - I might have to try the clear nail polish trick I read about somewhere. The decreases I'm doing as paired centered decreases (sl 2 as though to ktog, k, pass sl sts over) but am worrying too that this will make the sides untidy, because though I am knitting the body circular with no side seams, the paired decreases create sort of a raised "seam" anyway. I don't know if that will block out. I might take it off the needles in a bit and give it a soak to see what's what. I sure hope this 100% wool works out (see: all previous posts on how cold it is).

Le Beret is finished, as is the Basketweave Scarf. I am worried about Le Beret - it seemed to grow enormously after a bath, but it still is drying so I don't know for sure. Serves me right for not swatching, I guess. The Basketweave Scarf is still soaking, which reminds me, I had better get the scarf out of the water before it disintegrates. Ciao!


It's Neither Maine, Nor the Morning...

...but it's been cold enough to be. So I whipped up some Maine Morning Mitts with some random chenille that has been in my stash for forever and a day:


Yeah, it's chenille, don't be a hater. Free is free after all (and ancient stash may as well be free). I made the arms extra long, though in retrospect I probably should have made them an inch or two longer. They are a super easy knit, and probably could have been finished in a weekend had I not been distracted in the middle and then forgetting how long I made the first one.


I also knit 30 extra rows on the arm part that I had to go back and fix. I know, what happened? I wasn't paying attention, that's what. Nevertheless I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I'm thinking of giving them to my sister for Christmas since her house is even colder than mine.

Project Specs:
Pattern: Maine Morning Mitts by Clara Parkes from The Knitter's Book of Yarn (Ravelry link)
Yarn: stash chenille, worsted-ish weight, in maroon
Needles: KnitPicks metal dpns US size 7 (4.5mm)
Size: One size fits all
Started: October 2008
Finished: November 2008
Pattern mods: Lengthened the arms and used worsted-ish weight yarn instead of aran weight; 90 rows total.

These were my second ever knitted mitts - the first ones were made years ago and ended up being different lengths because I didn't think to count the rows as I went along. They were also, as I recall, made from grey alpaca, which I seem to be allergic to, and I'm not even sure if I have them any more. I would love to add some mitts to my own wardrobe, they're great for frigid interior environments!

There's a new project on the needles as well:


I just can't help myself. It's actually progressing really quickly; my only problem with it is the color. This photo doesn't do it "justice" - it's the same radioactive yarn I've blogged about in the past. I really do hate this color - does anyone have any experience overdying finished products with some easily available (and cheap) dye like RIT? I know it isn't optimal, but I'm not out to spend a lot of money. The yarn is Cascade 220 superwash (color 802, if you want to know).

Happy Turkey Day everyone! Enjoy your soup!


And the #1 Reason for Taking Notes While Knitting is...

...so you can figure out, two weeks later, what exactly you did when you made the first one.



I Thought I Had it All Figured Out

I obsessed all day. I measured and web browsed and measured some more. I mapquested the location of a certain big box hardware store (to take advantage of a coupon I had of course). I naively assumed they would have things like door sweeps in an obvious location, and would stock tension curtain rods. Boy was I ever wrong.

The big box hardware store in question is far away from my house. It is almost so far as to make my coupon pointless. (Almost, but not quite.) I also spent far too long wandering about the place trying to locate items that they did not seem to carry in stock. Items like the curtain rods I need in order to spare my sanity. Things like vinyl door sweeps. It's a good thing there was no traffic to speak of, or I would have been very, very irritated. I did finally find the door sweeps, but not before wanting to track down the person at the flooring counter and punch them for pushing the call button 27 times in quick succession. Despite the fact that the store is a giant warehouse, I think my local hardware store, which is a chain but tiny, has a larger selection. And anyway, give me OSH any day.

I did find tension rods at a big box store of another type closer to my apartment. Though not enough of the size I wanted. And no toilet paper or paper towels of the type I use on sale either, since I was recently cleared out by the roaming hoard which is my family. Fine. I bought what they had and left.

I also tried to find, online, inexpensive wool blankets to use as extra window insulation. I searched and searched and could find nothing even remotely affordable. Then I had a brilliant idea: Army surplus.

There's no store near me, but there's lots of stuff available online. Lots and lots of stuff. From all over the world. And cheap, too. Cheaper than you could buy equivalent amounts of similar fabric. And some of the surplus blankets (like the Swiss and Italian) are supposedly pretty nice.) Yay me!

But then I started to really think about it. Blankets, especially army blankets, are made of wool, sometimes even 100% wool. Wool items, especially from a long time ago, used to be stored in moth balls. People sometimes still use mothballs. Except mothballs are made of some pretty toxic stuff, like neurological disorder-type stuff, which weirds me out because my grandmother's garage pretty much always smelled strongly of mothballs.

So what do I do? I don't want to bring mothball-smelling, chemical contaminated blankets into the apartment so that the cats and I can get sick and now I am scared to buy the blankets. I also don't want to spend a crazy amount on the windows. I also don't have the space to air things out and it's unclear if that completely dissipates the chemicals anyway, or how long that might take. (Weeks? Months?) Anyone have any experience with army surplus woolens smelling of mothballs?

I did manage to purchase one item (yesterday) that has made me insanely happy:


At least my feet will be warm...


How Cold is Too Cold?

I freely admit I am not a cold weather person. I mean, I love to ski and skate and enjoy snowy vistas, but when I'm lounging about the home my core body temperature tends to plummet. Cold temperatures for me bring shivering and malaise and general unhappiness. At the same time, though, I am keenly aware of resource consumption, both in terms of the environment (natural gas) and my wallet (cash). So you can imagine my dilemma upon waking up this morning:


That's the temperature both inside and outside my apartment this morning at 8am. Now, I have a lovely heavy down comforter that keeps me snug as a bug in my bed even at 49 degrees, but it's the getting out of bed that's turning into a problem...

I've searched and searched for some reference as to when I caved last year and turned on the heat, first in the form of an electric space heater (inefficient, causing my electric bill to skyrocket) and then in the form of my ridiculous apartment wall unit (which is also inefficient, though slightly less so, causing my gas bill to skyrocket). My apartment is so inexpertly constructed that you can feel a breeze when standing next to the sliding glass door, there is a gap under my front door big enough for a squirrel to run under, and my heater mainly functions to keep the ceiling toasty. I do employ some weatherizing strategies but this is a rental and I am not about to pour tons of money into something I don't own.
  • Last year I installed one of those vinyl door sweeps (I know, vinyl bad!) on the bottom of the door, but I placed it a tad too low and it dragged on the carpet every time I opened and closed it. By the end of the winter it had started to tear, so I pulled it off. I haven't replaced it yet and am currently shoving a rolled up towel in the space.
  • I also applied that plastic shrink wrap (I know, plastic bad!) on the vent for my stove (basically a hole in the wall, and not all that effective at venting) and the window in the spare bedroom last year. The stove vent is still shrinkwrapped from last winter, though the window is obviously not. The problem with this strategy is 3-fold. 1) it is really, really hard to apply that stuff yourself, and I am only one person; 2) plastic!; 3) the cats like to run along the window sills, especially Lily (who I did not have last winter). What am I supposed to do, deny the cats their windowsills?
  • Last winter I wore a lot of layers, on the ridiculous order of 5 or 6, plus hats, gloves, scarves, and what have you, indoors (until I turned the heat on, at which point I only wore 2 or 3 layers). I am not against wearing a sweater and fingerless gloves or wrist warmers, but this goes beyond excessive, besides which there aren't enough items of clothing in my apartment to keep me sufficiently warm without bundling up like the little brother in A Christmas Story. Not exactly classy.
  • Last year I weatherstripped the front door (which had none) and the side of the sliding glass door where it closes (which also had none). This is still in place. It does nothing to prevent the wind from coming through the other side of the slider.
I know my electric bill spiked in December, and then my gas bill spiked in January, but I don't have anything more specific than that. My readings are around the 10th, so the first weakening happened sometime between Nov. 11 and Dec. 10 (probably sometime around the middle of the billing cycle) and then again (with the gas) sometime after Dec 10th. Since my gas bill was über-low in December I rather suspect I didn't actually turn on the gas until just about the 10th of Dec. I am not messing with the space heaters this year, except in the bathroom (otherwise I would really never get out of bed in the morning) but I don't think I can hold out that long. I plan to get a new door sweep and shrink wrap the vent in my bathroom (basically a hole in my ceiling on par with the vent in the kitchen), which is at present un-wrapped. Short of sealing the entire house in plastic, does anyone have any ideas? I'm cold right now, and no amount of knitting is going to help...

(PS I just started in on the second skein of wool for the gray scarf - my family was here for over a week, so needless to say not a whole lot of knitting happened.)


It's November 9th... Do You Know Where Your Handmade Holiday Is?

The elections are over, and thank heavens for that! The palpitations may now cease. I am looking forward to an increase in civility from our elected officials and news reporters, at least, as much as can be expected from elected officials and news reporters.

The very next day, November 5th (as far as I can remember), someone (who of course I cannot remember because it was four days ago and what do you expect from me?) wrote that it was 50 days until Christmas. 

Fifty Days Until Christmas.

This of course gave me palpitations anew, because once, just once, I would like to have a homemade holiday. This year is as good a year as any, especially given that all possible spare pennies, nickels, and dimes, are going into the House Fund. I have oodles of skeins of yarn, really too many given that I have not knitted a stitch (other than the slow startup again on the Mediterranean Lace shawl). Instead of jumping headfirst into NaKniSweMo, which believe you me I actually was tempted to do and actually swatched for a project (good thing I did not get close to gauge, eh?), I have declared that this is the Year of the Scarf. And other small knitted outerwears. 

It is true that I declared last year the Year of the Scarf, but last year's year went bust after I did not end up gifted any scarves. I am nothing if not about recycling.

Here's proof I am serious this time:


It's a 2x2 basketweave (6 row pattern repeat) over 30 stitches, with the first stitch of every row slipped for a neater edge, knitted with Nature Spun worsted 100% wool in charcoal. I have turned into the craziest loosest knitter ever, so this is being done on size 4 clover bamboo needles. I'm almost done with the first skein, and am at about 32" right now. I expect that I might get 6' out of 2 skeins, before blocking. I didn't swatch, so I don't know what the yarn will do after a bath. Do you suppose that's long enough for a scarf?

I rather like this "mindless" knitting, as I can do other things while I'm working, like watching episodes of my favorite shows online. Oh thank you internet gods, for turning the television execs onto the internet revolution. Especially since I don't have to pay for cable to watch what I want to watch. Speaking of which, have you seen South Park's take on the election results? Who knew?



All Election Coverage, All the Time

I don't have cable, so it is unclear to me how I will get my election-day fix of all-election-coverage, analyzed and spinned (spun?) so much that it feels like you just got off the Tilt-a-Whirl at the carnival. I guess I'll have to get my news from a more traditional route - the Wednesday paper.

Ha, who are we kidding. I'll be up all night with the rest of y'all, hitting refresh until my fingers bleed.

Don't forget to vote people! As if anyone could. For the record, I am voting for Ginger. I especially like her economic stimulus plan.