Monthly Archives: October 2014

Happy Halloween!

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When I get old… I hope I’m just like Lucette

Sorry I haven’t posted much in the past few days. I had a stomach thing and I’m very wimpy about stomach things. They turn me into a whiny baby. I pout. I mope. Laundry piles up. Also, I don’t blog (apparently). I’m especially sorry about the delay because I knew my next post would be about Lucette and I’ve been looking forward to sharing a little bit about her with the world.

Lucette is one of the grand dames at my church and she is, in my opinion, one of the kindest people I know. But, it took me a while to recognize that kind, sweet nature because Lucette is perfectly, utterly, outrageous.

(In truth her name is not Lucette. I’ve changed it to protect her privacy. But if you ever run into her, I betcha you’ll recognize her from this description because she is one-of-a-kind!)

  • She is ninety-two and a half. That is exactly they way she tells people her age (and she tells people her age constantly)…. “and a half”.
  • She is nearly deaf but refuses to wear a hearing aid so you have to shout when you talk to her. Like many people with hearing problems, she shouts right back out you.
  • She is French so all of her shouting is in that lovely, romantic accent.
  • Even though she still lives alone, drives herself anyplace she needs to go, has her hair done every week, has a mani/pedi every week, and wears open-toed high-heeled shoes to show off that pedicure, she’ll tell you that its probably time that she went to live in a “place for old folks”.
  • If you get within five feet of her she will grab you and kiss you.  I always end up with a big set of lips stamped on my cheek in pink lipstick.

Yes, I used to pretty intimidated.  But then one day, as I was watching ladies my mother’s age run away from her in terror, I realized Lucette is awesome. Now I just kick back and watch her operate with awe and admiration.  I want to be like Lucette when I grow up.

The other thing about Lucette, she crochets at the speed of light. I have made a modest contribution to the prayer shawl ministry (I think I’ve made 4 in the past year). Lucette cranks out a shawl a week. Beautiful, big, worsted weight shawls. Each one is a different design and each one is eagerly snatched up. I once had a lady ask me to give Lucette the pattern for a shawl I was wearing.

“Umm.” I said. “You want me to give the pattern to …you?”

“Oh no. Give it to Lucette. Then I’ll get her to make it for me.”

Two weeks later that lady was showing off her new shawl.

Have I mentioned that Lucette is generous? She is. Scary, unstoppable, and generous. She gifted me her entire set of small-ish crochet hooks and her two favorite pattern books. When I objected, she said something along the lines of:

“Oh no. You take. I’m too old to be doing the tiny wool…

If you’re imagining this conversation, imagine it LOUD and very French.

and too big to wear these things. You take it. You are so little.”

Okay, this woman is shorter that I am. I assure you she is quite a little (but still scary) person. Also, I try very hard to never, ever do thread crochet because it will make you go blind and crazy. However, I’m not completely stupid. I didn’t argue with her because I knew I would loose. I simply pasted on a big smile and said thank you. And then she kissed me.

Here is the loot:

Here is the loot being inspected by the Feline Overlord:

Shortly after this picture was taken the loot was pushed off the table onto the floor where it could be properly pounced on, batted around, and then laid on top of for awhile. Then it was pronounced acceptable (i.e. she lost interest) and I was allowed to have it back and take a few more pictures.

I didn’t keep the booklets. Don’t tell Lucette. I knew I’d never make any of the stuff in them so I passed the booklets along to ladies in my crafting group that appreciate things like thread pineapple doilies and clothes hangers with faces on them. Also there were numerous duplicate sizes in that collection of hooks so I passed the extras along as well. I did keep a full set of steel hooks for myself even though I have vowed to never again do thread crochet (Makes you blind and crazy. I’m not kidding about that. Beware). I also hung onto one medium sized double-ended hook that I suspect is carved from bone. How could I give that one up, right?

Also…. I kept this:

I have no idea what size that hook is. There is no label on it. The smallest labeled hook in the collection is a Size 14 and this one is smaller than that. Any one know what size? I’ll take guesses, lol. I’d love to have some idea of what to call this teeny-tiny, ridiculous hook.

I’ll never use it of course. A hook this small would make my eyeballs bleed and have me reaching for a straight jacket in under 15 minutes. But I have to keep it in my hook stash forever and ever. You understand, right?

P.S. I own too much some camera equipment and camera accessories and I think I used nearly all of it to get the picture of that tiny little hook. I used my zoom lens with a +4 filter, and a doubler, and a mounted flash, and a separate light source, and a camera stand ….

…. to take a picture of a crochet hook. I felt kind of like a dork doing that. But I consoled myself knowing that the only ones who saw me do this was Feline Overlord and Cowardly Boy Cat. They don’t speak English and couldn’t tell anyone. My dorkiness would stay secret. But then I was showing my friends the hook at craft night and one of them, who is also a shutter bug and knows allllllllll about photography, asked me if I’d taken a picture of the tiny hook. I said… yes. She gave me a big wide grin. She knew. My dorkiness was revealed.

So I figured I might as well admit it to the world.

P.S.S. This post got really long. Sorry about that. I guess that’s what happens when I take too long of a break.

The Importance of Craft Night

For me craft night is Thursday night and it has been for awhile. That’s why I never have a real post on Thursday. I meet up with knitters and crocheters and (sometimes) spinners. We share, we chat, we eat junk food. We even get a little work down on our projects. Usually.

 

Last week I took a few pictures of stuff going on around the table.

 

Something green was getting made…

…and at least two pairs of socks.

Including these which deserve a closer look. I just love socks made from the toe up because, when they are just toes, they are so cute.

Not as cute as him, though. The only things this little fellow crafts at craft night are drool (which you can see from the damp shirt) and dirty diapers (which you can’t see and will just have to take my word for).  He may not have much in the way of yarn-y skills but he gets to be a Roving Crafter based on sheer adorableness.

 

Craft night is important, and not just because it has cute soon-to-be socks and cute soon-to-be men. Its the one place that I get to hang out with people who understand my favorite past-time. They get it. They get me.

They get why I spend a small fortune on yarn and fiber to make things that I could buy at any department store.

They get why a certain WIP shawl that I love it taking so long to finish that I also kinda hate it.

They get why I have 23 size 4 double pointed needles.

I couldn’t figure out how to show that level of understanding in a picture. But, if you have a craft group, a knitting circle, a sewing bee, or any such get together then you probably know what I’m talking about. There is no substitute for good friends who accept you as you are.

Another thing about my craft group… there is some serious talent there. We have designers and teachers and test knitters and hand-dyers. I’m going to start featuring their work (as much as they will let me) in future posts so be sure to check back in. And if you have crafter you’d like to brag on, including yourself, let us know!

 

 

* the header image at top of post is a New York University knitting group, circa 1918. Image from NYU Alumni. http://alumni.nyu.edu/s/1068/2col_scripts.aspx?sid=1068&gid=1&pgid=4583

A Shameless Exploitation of Cat Cuteness Post

I’ve been told that Cowardly Disappearing Boy Cat hasn’t gotten enough attention on this here blog. There may be some truth in that. So I cunningly set up a little yarn bait and waited with my camera for something cute to happen.

I didn’t have to wait very long.

 

 

 

It’s mine!

 

 

It’s getting away!

 

… huh

 

Bored now. You got any food?

Reading Charts for Scarfs and Shawls

Previous Post in This Series: Reading Charts for Rounds and Repeats

If you’ve stuck with me this far then give yourself a big pat on the back. And a piece of chocolate. And a glass of wine. Charts are not easy to learn but they are worth it.

 

This post explains charts for flat pieces of knitting. We’re talking scarfs and shawls here. These knitted pieces that will have two or more of the following design elements:

  • edge sections
  • middle sections (usually done in repeats)
  • center sections
  • increase sections

 

As you work through these patterns

  1. don’t get overwhelmed trying to “see” everything at once
  2. match up each section in the chart to where that section is done in your knitting.

 

(I mean that! That’s why I underlined and bolded. If I could figure out how draw a big sparkly circle I’d throw one of those in there too. Don’t try to understand the whole chart in the first minute! Its takes a while and it takes some looking and it takes some processing to figure out a complicated piece.)


Scarfs with Charts

Falling Water scarf made by amske

Let’s start with a scarf. They are (usually) easier. I’m going to use the Falling Water scarf designed by Bonnie Sennot. It’s gorgeous, the pattern is well written, and it comes with both written and charted instructions. I won’t reproduce the pattern here; that wouldn’t be fair to the designer. Just click the link above and download the pattern.

S’ok. I’ll wait for ya.

Before we get started…. notice that the symbol for “purl on the Right Side, knit on the Wrong Side” is a dot. In previous posts we’ve been using the “standard” gray square. Lots of designers use a dot instead. I, ummm, used to use dots too. Don’t tell The Craft Yarn Council.

The written instructions are on page 3 and the chart is on page 4. If you are working from the chart (and why wouldn’t you?!) you’ll need this:

 “Note: Every row begins and ends with a border of 3 knit stitches. These border stitches are NOT shown in the chart,but are included in the written instructions.”

 So what does that mean? It means knit the first three stitches of every row and the last three stitches of every row. In between that…. follow the chart.

The chart is 10 stitches wide and 16 rows tall. Notice that eight of those stitches in each row are outlined in a red box. Red boxes mean REPEAT. Treat them like the stuff between asterisks in written instructions.

 

So in row 1 you would….

  • Knit the first 3 stitches for the border (Ha! Did I get you there?)
  • purl 2, knit 6
  • repeat the “purl 2, knit 6”
  • purl 2
  • Knit the last 3 stitches

That should get you on your way.

 

If you like this pattern but wish it was wider, the modification is pretty simple. Now that you understand the chart (ta da!) you can simply work more repeats of the stitches in the red box. Just cast on an extra 8 stitches for each extra repeat you’d like. Also… now would be a wonderful time to go back to ravelry and hit the “favorite” button on that pattern. After all, Ms. Sennot did give us this wonderful little pattern for free…


Shawls with Charts

My Zetor in lace weight.

Onto shawls. There are all different types and shapes of shawls. I’m going to talk about triangular shawls because they are very popular and many of the patterns for these beauties are only in charts, like Zetor by Jatta Saukko. It’s pretty, it’s popular, I’ve seen it hanging as a sample in yarn shops, and the chart can be a bit tricky at first glance. In reality it’s a simple design.

Triangular shawls start out with tiny, short, little rows and get steadily bigger. They usually grow by 4 stitches every Right Side row. The start will be at the center top (right at the back of the wearer’s neck) and it will grow outward towards the hands and downwards to the butt. They get bigger and bigger and the knitter gets bored because she/he mastered the chart right away and the pattern that looked hard at first is, really, stupidly, easy.

It is.

How a triangular shawl is made

 

Below is the one of three charts you’ll use to make a Zetor shawl (I think it’s the second chart). I won’t reproduce the rest. It’s a free download at the link above. Grab it and favorite it. 

Remember … don’t try to “see” the whole chart all at once. Visually identify one section at a time. 

  •  The center stitch is already marked but I’ve outlined it in purple.
  •  The two stitches on each side are the edges and I’ve outlined in green.
  •  The stitches in-between the center and the edges are the two halves of the shawl. Notice that they are mirror images of each other? And in those halves we see:

– A repeat section in a red box

– Increase sections on each side of the repeat

 NOTE!!!!!: the gray boxes in this chart indicate stitches that don’t exist in that row. Because the shawl increases by 4 stitches every Right Side row, the top of the chart has more stitches than the bottom. When you come to a gray box in this chart…. skip it.

 

I had a student working on this very pattern this year and here is how I set her up:

For Row 1:

  • Do the first edge section (knit 2)
  • Place a marker
  • Work the first increase section (yarn over, knit, yarn over, ssk, knit)
  • Place a marker
  • Work the repeat section (knit 2, k2tog, yarn over, knit, yarn over, ssk, knit 2) over and over until there are four stitches left BEFORE THE CENTER. And place a marker after every repeat.
  • Work the second increase section (knit, k2tog, yarn over, knit, yarn over)
  • Place a marker
  • Do the center section (knit)
  • Place a marker
  • Work the first increase section (yarn over, knit, yarn over, ssk, knit)
  • Place a marker
  • Work the repeat section (knit 2, k2tog, yarn over, knit, yarn over, ssk, knit 2) over and over until there are four stitches left BEFORE THE EDGE. And place a marker after every repeat.
  • Work the second increase section (knit, k2tog, yarn over, knit, yarn over)
  • Place a marker
  • Do the second edge section (knit 2)

 

Yeah, I do love stitch markers. I love anything that makes keeping track of your knitting easier.

 

This chart takes the knitter through rows 1 to 18. Each odd numbered row (each right side row) adds a total of four stitches. Those increase sections (there are four of them, see?) start with 4 stitches (5 stitches after you work the first row of the pattern) and get up to 13 by the end of the chart. Then you start the chart over and the first/last 4 of those 13 become the new increase section while the others become a new repeat section. It’s confusing to explain but it’s very natural as you knit it.


Knitting is one stitch at a time. Just keep going, trust the chart, and enjoy yourself.

Here is a quick review:

  • Right side rows are worked from right to left
  • Wrong side rows are worked from left to right
  • Study the symbol key and make sure you know what each symbol means for the chart you have in hand
  • Visually identify each section of the chart and match it up with each section in the knitted piece before you get started.

 

If you’re looking for more punishment help in reading charts, check out the Ashton Shawlette by Dee O’Keefe. It’s both a pattern and a tutorial with lots of detail and help. There is also a great blocking tutorial tucked inside that one.

 

In the next, and final post on reading knit charts, I’ll wrap things up and demonstrate how you can personalize a chart and make it work for you.

Life after Spinzilla

I went back to my knitting this week and it felt wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spinning. I enjoyed Spinzilla. Participating in the event was kind of like going on a vacation. It was a break from my daily routine, like a vacation. I looked forward to it and I planned how to get the most out of it, like a vacation. I took lots of pictures of everything i did and then forced them on everyone I know, like a vacation.

I had great time.

But on Monday I picked up my Mary Lennox shawl and it felt like that moment when you finally get home from your super-fun, totally awesome vacation and think “Thank God”. You know that feeling right? When you realize it’s over, you’ve survived, and now you get to go back to that daily, boring routine. You get to sit in your favorite chair (which is comfy and contoured perfectly to your butt) and drink a cup of coffee that is exactly the way you like it.  You’re done with schedules, with getting the most out of your time. Now you can put your feet up and go back to your regular, familiar life.

Well, that’s the way it felt to knit again after a week of no-knitting. I felt the relaxation come over me. That hyper part of my brain stopped yammering. The needles clicked gently together, the yarn looped into stitches, and my shawl got a little bigger. It was just what I needed.