Plain Jane Knits Up A Storm

A few musings about my needlecraft hobbies - knitting, crocheting, quilting, & cross-stitch along with my other love, genealogy. While growing up, I used to HATE the term "Plain Jane", but when it comes to knitting & crocheting, I've realized that I really *am* a Plain Jane in that I don't use fancy yarns.

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Location: Northern Detroit Metro area, Michigan, United States

Sunday, January 29, 2006


It's finished!! The Wool Peddler Shawl from Folk Shawls. Started January 10th, completed January 29th. Knit from 8½ skeins of Wool of the Andes (from KnitPicks) in Iron Ore on size 10½ needles. Unblocked it's 32" from the upper edge to the tip. I'm not sure that I'm going to block it. I'm only 5'4" and it's pretty big without stretching it any more. Here are some close-ups of the lace (can you tell that I'm proud??) This also fits into the KnitRed KAL and the Just For Me KAL, as well as the Folk Shawl KAL, so it's a multi-purpose project {g}..

Now it's time to pick my next project. I finished the cream garter stitch shawl I was making for the K4 project and cast on for a kelly green one, but that's my mindless knitting. I have yarn (WOTA in Wheat) for the Highland Triangle Shawl which is the next group project in the Folk Shawl KAL, yarn and the pattern for the Adamas shawl from KnitPicks, and yarn for two vests for Mom that will have lace panels up the front. I need to rework that pattern so I'm using a smaller needle and while I've swatched on 10½s & 11s, I haven't pulled out the calculator yet to do some serious figuring. I have a feeling that the green shawl will progress while I'm trying to figure this all out and make up my mind.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tagged Again

I wandered over to Sallee's KnitNana site to check out the message that she'd updated and wandered right into a new MeMe complete with instructions: "If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged!" Ok, Sallee, you got me again!

4 jobs you have had in your life:
teacher (history, art, geography)
machine tool control detailer
software programmer (4 flavors of BASIC)
printed circuit board designer

4 movies you could watch over & over:
The Lion In Winter
The Wind & The Lion
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Gone With The Wind

4 places you have lived
Berville, MI
Pontiac, MI
Walled Lake, MI
Lake Orion, MI

4 TV shows you love to watch
West Wing
Desperate Housewives
Grey's Anatomy

4 places you have been on vacation
Salisbury, MD
Twin Lakes, MI
Finley, ND
Crestline, CA

4 websites you visit daily

4 of your favorite foods
king crab steamed with butter for dipping
chicken marsala
fresh baked bread
home-made soup

4 places you would rather be right now
Sorry, can't think of anywhere.........

To expand on the last, I'm sitting here at my computer which is my window on the world, I have a cat in my lap, my DH is just across the hall, and I have lots of yarn, quilting fabrics & books. I'm not a traveller, so I'm happy right where I am.

I spent almost three hours last night tinking back on the Wool Peddler shawl because of an extra YO in the first row of the 4th lace repeat. I have that row redone (correctly this time) and I'm now trying to add in another lifeline in the following purl row. I can see where a life line would be extremely handy, but putting one in is a pure pain. The first one before I started the lace was done by knitting each stitch with the shawl yarn and the lifeline (LL) yarn held together and then at each stitch, pulling the end of the LL yarn through the stitch before knitting the next one. This time I'm using a yarn needle to run the yarn through the stitches on the left needle before I knit them. It's working a bit better but it's still not easy. It took me over half an hour to get half way across the row. The jury is still out on knitting lace - I love the look of it, but I'm questioning the hassle. Still, that's probably because I haven't knit anything challenging for quite some time (knitting for charity means getting things done in a hurry rather than spending a lot of time so the hats, scarves & shawls are pretty mindless and can be knit almost on automatic.) I'll keep going and I hope someday that I'll learn to love lace as much as some of my knitting friends do.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another Trip To The Lilypad

Remember this vest from last April?

This is what it looks like now:

I wasn't too happy with it when I finished it despite the fact that the pattern was one that I'd used a number of times. When Mom tried it on, I liked it even less so a couple weeks ago I bit the bullet, brought it home and last night took it to the lilypad.. RIP-IT.. RIP-IT.. I'm going to try again and see if I can come up with a vest that I like better. I know that I used the same size 13 needle that I did for earlier vests in this pattern, but the knitting seemed a lot looser and the size was too small. I may try reworking the pattern - which is fairly simple - in a smaller gauge, perhaps by making one of the larger sizes on a smaller needle to firm up the fabric. Details to come...

On the other hand, the Wool Peddler Shawl is coming along other than I seem to be running shy on yarn despite ordering an extra skein beyond the yardage specified in the pattern. I've completed four of the six "scheduled" lace repeats and have two skeins left. The last repeat took almost all of a skein and beyond the two remaining repeats there are eight or so rows of garter stitch border. I did have to jump needle size up to a 10½ to get stitch gauge, so that might be a factor. I was hoping that perhaps I was getting a larger row gauge but that doesn't seem to be the case, at least unblocked.

At this point, other than ordering another skein or two of the Wool of the Andes from KnitPicks (something I'm loath to do because of dye lot factors combined with shipping costs if I don't order $30), I think my options are to add one more lace repeat and then work the garter stitch border as far as my yarn holds out or to skip the border and hope I can get two more lace repeats. I'm more apt to go with the first option and hope that blocking will increase the size. That leads me to a second problem - how to block a shawl when the only bed in the house is a water-bed?? I guess it's time to break down and buy a folding cutting board.

Update: I just discovered that I have *3* skeins of yarn for the Wool Peddler left. Cancel panic.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Quirky Meme

Sallee just tagged me for the 5 Quirkiest Habits meme, so here goes.

1. As much as I love knitting & crocheting, I want to be doing something else at the same time - reading or watching
TV. To just sit & knit can drive me crazy unless I'm with a group and busy talking & listening.

2. I rarely follow a recipe after the first time. I make additions and subtractions and I don't tend to measure much. The surprising part is that the food usually turns out fine.

3. I go to sleep faster if I have one of our cats curled up with me. I think it's the purring that lulls me.

4. Since having to keep my ankle elevated for months after breaking it back in 1999, I still tend to use the computer sitting sort of sideways with my feet up on the desk.

5. I know more people and have more friends on line than I do in person. Without the internet, there is no way that I would have been able to meet these wonderful people who are spread from New England to Virginia to Kentucky to Arizona.

I'm supposed to tag five people, but I'll leave that up to you - if you read this and haven't been tagged yet, feel free to consider yourself caught {g}.

On the knitting front, the Wool Peddler shawl is coming along. I've passed the point where I added in new repeats of the lace in the increase sections and I worked the first row of the 4th 8 row lace repeat last night. I hope my yarn is going to hold out. I only have three skeins left after this one so I'm a little nervous.

The K4 meeting was yesterday and I turned in the grey heather garter stitch shawl I completed during the meeting and started one in bright red acrylic. The mindless knitting on these is a good foil to the attention I have to pay to the lace pattern. Though, last night I did discover that I can knit the wrong side row - all purl except that every 10th stitch is knit - of the lace pattern while reading. I don't think I want to try that on the right side pattern row with the YOs and decreases.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Wool Peddler In Progress

I finished up the garter stitch center of the Wool Peddler shawl on Saturday and started in on the lace border Sunday night. This is how far I got:

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I didn't work on it last night because I can't decide if I should frog to correct this mistake:

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See it there in the repeat on the right, just above the end of the camera strap? I was shy one stitch on the right side of the repeat when I got to the 6th row and thought I could just add a stitch in without it being too obvious. Now I don't know. Maybe it wouldn't be noticable once the border is completed, but I know that it's there and it's bothering me. The old "blind man on a galloping horse at midnight" theory doesn't seem to be working. An additional concern is that I swatched a lace design very close to this one last week before my KnitPicks order arrived.

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The first two repeats use the [slip 1, k2tog, psso] two stitch decrease called for in this Horseshoe lace pattern from the Elann site and in the Wool Peddler pattern. The last repeat, I tried a centered decrease of [slip 2 together as if to knit, k1, psso] that I use when I'm decreasing at the bottom of ribbing for a V neck sweater. At the time, I thought that I liked it better than the off-centered decrease that was in the pattern, but now that I'm working with the Iron Ore yarn and the line continues up through another pattern, I'm not so sure. I hate the idea of frogging back to the set up row and going through getting the lace rows started again, but will I be happy with the finished shawl if I don't? Opinions welcomed.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stark Raving Out Of My Mind

I must be to get involved with lace knitting! Earlier this week I thought that I'd get a start on trying to work lace swatches - sort of a trial run before my KnitPicks order arrived and an attempt to find some patterns that will work for the front lace panel in the vest I'm going to be knitting for Mom. For my victims, ah, make that experiments, I picked the lace patterns in Elann's new Aran Weight Victorian Shawl. I started out with the Mini-vine. Big mistake! It looks so simple, only two actual pattern rows, but there's no place that I've discovered yet that the pattern can be checked - what I call an "anchor stitch". The Feather & Fan has one - the center stitch in the middle of the six YO, K1 sequence carries up the middle of the fan, it's easy to check each repeat and make sure that the third K1 is in line. I managed to stumble through three repeats of the pattern ok, but on the 4th, I didn't zig or zag - whichever - when I should have and the last repeat lines up with the one below. It's not a bad pattern, but it isn't the Mini-vine. I'm going to have to try this one again and see if I can puzzle it out. The second pattern, the Horseshoe lace was fairly simple - that one went ok, 4 repeats and no mistakes other than on the third & fourth repeats I changed the way I was slipping for the decrease so the center stitch was predominant. Buoyed by success, it was on to the English Mesh! The first three pattern rows were a snap, but the fourth - row 8 - didn't come out correctly. Figuring that I'd done something seriously wrong, I ripped the swatch out and started again. Lace rows 2, 4 & 6, I had the correct number of stitches at the end of the row. I started row 8 and I was immediately off. Looked at the pattern again, tried to chart it, hmm.. The last stitch of the repeat was to SL2, K1, PSSO - that's a two stitch decrease, but at the end of the row there are only two stitches and I'm one stitch off from having the centers of the lace line up at the beginning. The solution was to start the row with a K2TOG and end with SSK. Success!!

On Tuesday, my KnitPicks order arrived. Picking the easiest of the three shawls I'm planning, I swatched for the Wool Peddler shawl from Folk Shawls. The pattern calls for a size 7 needle, but with Wool of the Andes I had to jump up to a 10½ needle to get gauge. I cast on that night for the shawl and thanks to a good tv schedule the last two nights, I'm almost through a third skein of yarn (out of 9). Every other row gets longer by 4 stitches, so it's going slower than at first, but so far it's just garter stitch with 4 YOs on every other row for the increases. Once I'm ready to start the lace, I'll run a life-line so if I mess it up, I won't lose the center section. The lace pattern is fairly similar to the Horseshoe lace, so I'm not anticipating any big problems. I'll probably try a swatch of the pattern first, though, just in case. I'd rather mess up on a small swatch than find after a couple 220+ stitch rows that I'd goofed. I love the Iron Ore shade of the WOTA yarn. The Wheat that I ordered for the Highland Triangle shawl is quite a bit darker than the color shown on the website. It is close to the photos in the KnitPicks catalog, so if and when I order again, I'll rely on those photos when I choose colors. The Lost Lagoon in the Shadow yarn was also darker than I expected.

On other fronts, I finished the K4 shawl and another "dopey" hat and there's another hat done except for the back seam, ties & neck band. I can finish that tomorrow at the meeting and probably get another hat or shawl started. No photos for now due to technical problems. I just had an email from my son-in-law that his site is back on line, so I'll try to get the updates to the sidebar completed.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

With A Little Bit Of Luck

That song has been running through my head lately. I have just succumbed to the lace shawls that have been whispering my name for the last couple months. As I mentioned, my DH gave me Folk Shawls & A Gathering of Lace for Christmas. On Wednesday, I jumped in with both feet and called in an order to KnitPicks for 9 skeins of Iron Ore & 10 skeins of Wheat - both Wool of the Andes - to make the Wool Peddler & Highland Triangle shawls. Then, proving that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I added in the pattern for the Adamas shawl and two skeins of Shadow in Lost Lagoon to make it. With a little bit of luck, I may survive my foray into lace.

I started revising the sidebar this evening to make it easier to find things. The plan is to have an index for the free patterns off site. The index is coded, only problem is that my son-in-law's site where I keep the files seems to be off line so that a number of the sidebar photos don't show up and I can't upload the new file. I also want to move last year's finished items & the list of books to their own files, but I'm going to have to wait until I can upload files again. With a little bit of luck, it will all get done sometime this coming week.

Thursday, at the K4 meeting, I turned in two shawls and three of the "Dopey" hats. Gloria was kind enough to take the two I'd finished last week home and put pom-poms on the peaks. She's going to do these three for me too.

I'm still playing around with the pattern. The aqua & white one is the same one shown on the Cabbage Patch doll in the last post. The other two are done with double yarn and a size 13 needle which makes them a better size. I can finish one of these in about two hours.

I finished the shawl in Rainbow Dreams Maritime colorway and started one in Bernat variegated blues. These photos were taken just before I left for the meeting. I finished the blue one there and I had half of the 10 ounce skein of Maritime left over so I'm working on a third shawl.

With a little bit of luck, I'll have the third shawl completed by the time my KnitPicks order arrives and I can start the Wool Peddler.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Post In Search Of A Title

I guess I'm not feeling all that creative the morning after the night before. I stayed up and watched the ball fall in Times Square, but I was more interested in scanning the faces in the crowd in hopes of catching a glimpse of DYD who was there with friends. After the celebrations went off the air, I settled down with the Terry Pratchett fantasy that I'm reading - you've got to love a book titled THUD - and knit for a while before heading up to sleep. Recently, I'm finding that I tend to nap during the day and stay awake until 1 or 2 in the morning. For someone who could never seem to nap when I was younger, it's a fairly big change in routine. Maybe it's just part of now being retired and not having to meet any schedule other than family.

I just completed another adventure with Fuzzy Feet.. If you remember from last spring, my first effort was with skeins of variegated wool (very old as they had no UPC codes on the labels) that were purchased at a garage sale. The red variegated pair that I made for myself never quit bleeding dye, so they've never been worn as I don't think that red feet would be very attractive. In making the brown/gold variegated pair for DH, I ran out of yarn so I took out the toe of the first one, knit to the same point on the second one and then switched to a skein of blue wool that was in the same garage sale bag as the other skeins. When I felted this pair, the variegated yarn shrunk but the blue toes stretched and in looking closer at the label on the blue skein it became obvious that it was for a skein of red wool and what I actually had was blue acrylic. Acrylic will not felt! {sigh}

At this point, Heather of A Chance To Knit took pity on me and sent me some beautiful grey/brown wool which I proceeded to knit into a pair of Fuzzy Feet that DH loved. In fact, he loved them so much that he wore them to pieces and despite attempts at darning them, toes & heels started peeking out at semi-regular intervals. So, I pulled out the remaining wool that Heather sent (thanks, again!!) and knit a new pair. I felted them yesterday while attempting once more to get the B5 to shrink just a little bit and in the process, made them a bit too small. He's wearing them, but I'm wondering if the slightly short length will mean that once again toes will soon be winking at me from across the living room.

One thing I did discover was an alternate way of doing a 3-needle bind-off without leaving a high ridge. I still haven't quite mastered the Kitchener stitch or grafting and wasn't looking forward to using it on the toes again. A standard 3-needle bind-off has you knit the stitches from the front & back needles together before binding them off - it's wonderful for shoulder seams and other places where a ridge won't bother, but I wasn't sure about it on the toes of slippers. So once I had the toe stitches on two double points (A & B), I slid them down to the end that didn't have the last stitch & tail. Then I took one stitch off each needle onto a third and repeated - I now had stitch 1A & 1B, 2A & 2B on the right hand needle. I lifted 1A & 1B over the 2nd set binding them off, then I slipped 3A & 3B onto the right needle and pulled 2A&B over them and kept going like that.. At the end, I pulled the tail through the last two stitches and will run it in on the wrong side.. It made a smooth, flat bind-off without much of a ridge and much, much easier than trying the kitchener stitch again.. I'm not sure how it would work with regular socks, but once these were felted, didn't show at all.

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The completed slipper pre-felting with a quarter for scale. I'll try to get a photo of the post-felting results if DH ever takes them off.

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The first completed project of the new year is the "Dopey Hat" (honest, that's what the pattern is called!). It came from a learn to knit book and is shown on an approximately 6 month old baby. The original pattern called for a chunky yarn and I had one skein that I used for the first one. I tried working the pattern with worsted weight yarn, but the hats came out more preemie sized. For this 4th one, I doubled the knitting worsted (one strand of aqua & one of white) and jumped up two needle sizes to 11s. Not having any babies to model the hat, I pressed the Cabbage Patch doll into modelling. (I picked the doll up last summer for a quarter so I could design some clothes for her and have them fit Megan's doll out in California.)

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I made a few changes to the pattern (so what else is new??? {g} ) First, instead of binding off 6 stitches at the beginning of each row for the back shaping, I worked short rows and then used a 3-needle bind-off starting in the center (the tip of the peak) to finish the seam. Then, rather than crocheting around the neck edge and crocheting separate ties, I used the crochet cast-on for 25 stitches, picked up 26 stitches across the bottom of the cap and added 25 stitches on the other end. Because this cap was made with double yarn and I didn't want the ties to be too thick, I cast-off on the very next row decreasing 5 stitches along the neck edge while I did to pull the neck in a bit. On the too-small caps with single yarn, I worked one row of knit before casting off. I think for the next one (I brought home several partial skeins of pastel yarn from our K4 stash)I make I'll try moving up to a size 13 needle for a slightly larger version.

Acrylics Anon/a