Archive for July, 2009

Spiral Sweater KAL Assignment Three: Sleeves

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Friends, I have been knitting obsessively. I have had my nose to the proverbial grindstone. I can’t stop working on this spiral sweater because I can’t wait to see how it turns out. It’s kind of like reading a really good novel that sucks you right in. I’m closing in on the end of the main body piece – about halfway through the fourth and final level of the spiral.

That’s the status as of right now. I took the picture with flash in my poorly lit living room, but I have a couple of lovely photos taken outside several days ago.

With this fingering weight yarn, and all the back-and-forth knitting and complex stitch manipulation, it’s kind of slow going. I’ve been making relatively fast progress only because I’m devoting every single spare moment I have to it. I’ve been thinking there’s an even chance that I could finish it in time to enter in the State Fair, and it’s been driving me a little crazy trying to calculate the available time left before the deadline versus the amount of knitting left to be done. It’s a toss-up, really.

Meanwhile, over on Ravelry, several others have been knitting along with me, and I’ve really been enjoying the company. One busy knitter has even completed a toddler-sized sweater for her daughter. And she spun the yarn for it herself too. It turned out really cute, and she’s posted pictures over in the forum there. All of this without any guidance from me on sleeves or pulling the whole thing together – so color me impressed!

I know that one or two others are waiting for some directions on sleeves, and it’s really pretty simple, so here we go. First we need to know how many stitches to cast on.

We start with the measurement at the sleeve cuff of the sweater we really like to wear. Lay the sleeve flat, measure the width across and multiply that number times two. In my case that number is 9 inches. For the moment, let’s not worry about the stitch pattern we’ll use for the cuff. Instead, let’s think in terms of right after the cuff edging.

If we’re going to run the stitch pattern we’ve been using for the spirals up the outside of the arm, then we can account for that portion of the sleeve width separately from the stockinette portion of the sleeve. In my case, I measured my original spiral swatch as 3.5″ across after blocking. That portion of the sleeve is going to be constant all the way up, so we can just subrtract it from the starting width 9 – 3.5 = 5.5″ while we figure out the stockinette portion of the sleeve.

I know from measuring the stockinette portion of my spiral/swatch (before the patterning began) that I’m getting 7 sts/inch. So I know that I’ll need 7 times 5.5 or 38.5 stitches for the stockinette portion of the cuff circumference. I know I’m going to have to round that number, so let’s start by rounding it down to 38, and then add the 29 stitches of the lace/cable pattern to that for a total of 67 stitches. That wasn’t too terrible, right?

Now we just need to back up and think about our cuff stitch pattern for a moment. If you’re going to use seed stitch for your cuffs as I did for my original sweater, it’s easy. You just need an even number cast on and can simply round down one stitch, casting on 66. For my new sweater, I’m planning to use the little cable pattern on the edge of my texture panel, which requires a multiple of 4 stitches. I can just round up to 68 and voila I have my cast-on number.

Okay, we have our starting point. Now we need to think about where we’re headed. We measure the width of our sleeve at the top by the underarm, same way as we did the cuff. I got 14″ around. I’m going to do some of the same math as the cuff. 14 inches minus 3.5 for the lace panel is 10.5″. 10.5 remaining inches times 7 stitches per inch is 73.5. Round up to 74. 74 plus the 29 stitches of cable/lace is 103, and that’s my goal for the number of stitches I want to end up with at the top of the sleeve. This is not hard math, really!

Now how do we get from the cast-on to the top of the sleeve? We need to figure out how often to increase. First, how many stitches are we going to add during this process? Well, 103-68 is 35. Oops, that’s an odd number, and we need an even number since we’ll be doing two increases on every increase row. So after I finish my cuff edging, I’m going to increase one stitch somewhere that makes sense – either at the top to get the lace panel to synch up with the cables from the cuff, or at the bottom where the other increases are going to be starting shortly. It’s only one stitch, so its location doesn’t matter much.

Alright, so I’ll say 103-69 is 36. If I divide 36 by two (because there are two increases in every increase row) I’ll get 18, and that’s how many increase rows I’ll need. Hold on to that number for a minute.

Now let’s look at our sample sweater from our closet. Lay it out flat and measure the edge of the sleeve from the point where it joins the body of the sweater at the underarm down to the edge at the sleeve cuff. In my case, that’s 17″. I have long arms. I know that I want my cuff edging to be 2″ long, and since that counts as part of the sleeve length, but will not include any increases, I’m going to subtract it from the total sleeve length. 17-2=15″.

I need to translate that sleeve length from inches into rows. So I go back to my post-blocking swatch measurements. I got 10 rows per inch over my lace stitch pattern, and pretty much the same for my stockinette portion. I guess if I’d had a difference between the two, maybe I’d have averaged them, or – well, I don’t know. Maybe I would have just gone with the lace number. So, 15″ times 10 rows per inch is 150 rows.

So I have about 150 rows in which to spread out 18 rows of increases. 150/18 is 8.33333. So I need to increase on every 8th row. That’s handy for me with my cables in my lace panel that repeat every four rows. I’ll just increase every other time I hit a row where I need to twist a cable.

Okay, and that’s the eye-crossing math of sleeves. It sounds complicated, and really I guess it is a bit complecated. But it’s a simple formula that you will come to understand once you’ve worked it through on your own example. AND! This is the big part. It’s like riding a bike. Once you’ve done the math for one sleeve, you can do the math for any sleeve. You are now free to make the sleeves of virtually any sweater you knit in the future to the exact length you want them to be without worrying about fitting in the correct number of increases in the number of rows allotted.

Alright, I’m tired. It’s late. I know I’ve skimmed over the whole where to place the increases and where to place the lace panel part. Tomorrow, I will take a break from my incessant body-spiral knitting and start a sleeve. I will take many pictures and explain that part a little better. While you’re waiting, go ahead and try your hand at a little math and see how it comes out for you.

And Now for a Little Real Life

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I’ve been stockpiling all kinds of real-life blogfodder over the past few weeks, but have been so obsessed with knitting (specifically the damned Spiral Sweater) that when it comes down to spending my evening writing a blog post about all the cool stuff we’ve been doing this summer.

We have, in fact, been doing lots of cool stuff this summer, the girls and I especially. We are all sporting tans despite our regular use of sunscreen. We have been outside all the time, we have been swimming and running around the yard and doing some other stuff, some of which I’m going to show you now, not in any particular order.

The Friday before the Fourth, we all slept in till 9:00. The girls and I came downstairs for breakfast while Joe slept in a bit for his holiday day off. We knew that our diseased trees were coming down, but we didn’t know *when* they would be coming down. But surprise, surprise, there was a crew of guys out in our driveway with a couple of giant trucks and a bunch of chain saws.

I, of course, went running back upstairs to put a bra and some daytime clothes on (right after I snapped the first couple pictures). As I was getting dressed, I hollered in to Joe that the tree guys were here, but got no response from him. The girls and I watched the show out our kitchen window while we ate breakfast…and dudes! That guy is up in a cherry picker, wielding a chain saw like it is no big deal. He was dropping branch after giant branch with giant earth-shaking thuds.

After we ate, the girls and I joined our neighbors on their hill directly across the street to watch the show.

Here’s the lovely neighbors and the kids all lined up like a row in a movie theater. The other bestest neighbors showed up a bit after that, and they all rolled their eyes at me for taking their as-is pictures for the blog. Remember, this is early in the morning of a holiday. We’re laid-back people and we’ve all just rolled out of bed. I promise you, these people all look better than I did that day.

Here’s the giant truck that hauled the tree bits away. It took two loads. Also, it blocked our view part of the time, which was a bit of a buzz-kill, and made me wonder how much the tree guys really loved having a peanut gallery watching and commenting from across the street.

At one point this guy was up *in* the tree by our garage, which struck me as a little hilarious in this very depressing scene. And by the way, I am incredibly sad about losing our trees, which turned out after ring-counting to be about 50 years old. It completely changes the way we can play in and use our yard, the way we see the whole landscape of our street, and the light and temperature of our house. Someone commented that we should have tried harder to save our trees. There is an anti-fungal treatment that can be used on elm trees to prevent disease, but it only works if you use it before any signs of disease present themselves. We got a bid for the treatments the year after we moved into the house, but didn’t get around do having it done, and then the next year (last summer) the first tree started withering and dropping leaves. Lesson to everyone out there – if you have old elms, get the treatment.

And finally for this segment, if you are interested in watching the trees come down, plus listening to all the commentary amongst our group as it happened, I have a little YouTube video for you. The teenage son of the other neighbor was on his way out of the house and coming over, which is why you hear his mom yelling at him to hurry up.

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you the funniest part. Joe slept through most of the noise, and when he came down and acted surprised that our trees were being cut down I asked him “Didn’t you hear the chain saws?” and he said “No, I thought that was you grinding coffee.” Ha!

Okay, and that was a long-ish post right there, but if you’ve been reading here for any time at all, you know that I tend to go a little crazy when it’s time for a photo-dump.

Joe had his annual weekend away with his college friends this last weekend, so the girls had what I billed as and “All-Girl Party Weekend” – basically my attempt to turn what could have been a weekend of oh-my-gods-I’m-doing-this-on-my-own and constant missing of the daddy into an especially fun time for us at home. Mostly, it involved me not cooking at all and all of us eating way too much junk food. Also, we went to the Como Zoo.

We saw a ton of animals, but I’ve got a few highlights for you. We liked the orangutans. I think this was an adult male, and he was just kind of hangin’ out, watching the people.

And then along comes a baby orangutan! Squee! It was climbing all over the place, and then it came down to pester the old guy on the ground.

The old guy wasn’t much fun, so the baby started climbing back up – and I loved how the old guy held onto the rope for the baby to help steady it as he climbed back up to see his mama, who was laying around on a platform up above.

Sophie really liked the giraffes, and we stood there enjoying them for a bit…

And a kind stranger took our picture together at this little photo-op spot.

And we saw a big lazy tiger through some glass…

And then we found another building where this little baby giraffe was hanging out all by itself. It was soooooo cute!

Our last stop of the day was the butterfly house, which the girls absolutely loved. My girls love butterflies. The butterfly house at the State Fair is always a huge highlight, but this free attraction was ten times better. Much less crowded, prettier flowers, more bugs.

Earlier in the day, the girls kept saying “Let’s go find more animals!” over and over, even right as we arrived at the cage of an animal doing interesting animal things. Not here.

At the State Fair butterfly house, you often see people sort of collecting butterflies to sit on their hands and clothing. At the zoo, the staff made it clear that it was not cool to try to get the butterflies to land on you, and I hammered the message home to my girls. They were very well-behaved and followed the rules despite their desperate desire to hold a butterfly. Luckily, they each had at least one butterfly land on them by pure accident while we were there. Maybe it was their flowery dresses.

Oh, and here are a few shots from our trip to Edina’s 4th of July parade. It was raining when we set out for the event, but the rain stopped and it turned into a fine day.

Some of my favorite entries from previous years were there, like the Icelandic ponies.

And the trick horseriders dressed like characters from the wild west…

And even the nerdy super-heroes….

I’m glad we’ve made this a holiday tradition, and the girls had a great time collecting candy. I think I’ve already mentioned this, but now you’ve got the visuals to go with it.

Alright, this is the last event for tonight, promise. Last night was the grand opening of a new park near our house. We live just a few blocks away from a greenway bike trail that runs along a highway and into downtown Minneapolis, then onward right to the Mississippi River and all over the place in the Metro. Our city, St. Louis Park, recently restored an old beehive-shaped fire pit that sat by the side of an old road called Lilac Way in the 1930s, back when it was a country road lined with hundreds of lilac bushes and before it became a busy metropolitan highway (100). People used to drive out to the country to see the lilacs, and stop for roadside picnic barbecues at several parks with these barbecue pits and matching limestone tables and benches. Well, the city moved the last remaining intact barbecue away from the busy highway and to a park adjacent to the greenway where modern-day bicyclists and pedestrians can enjoy it all once more.

They had the grand opening last night, and lots of people walked and pedaled over for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. See all the bikes lined up?

Here’s our Mayor Jeff Jacobs giving a speech before the ribbon cutting. They even had a pair of giant scissors for the event.

Julie and Sophie stood on one of the restored benches for a better view…

And after the ribbon was cut, we went up and took a closer look.

This park is right next to the NordicWare plant, and the company donated a couple of cakes made with their beehive molded cake pan for the even – you can see the NordicWare smokestack in the background. I totally need to make it over to their outlet store one of these days.

The event included free hot dogs, chips, soda, and ice cream sandwiches, plus I packed along some berries and carrot sticks to help ameliorate the junk food factor – we were still coming off the all-girl party weekend, after all.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, we were sitting with our lovely neighbors, of whom I got a great picture, but decided to leave out of the blog because really I know they’d rather keep it to themselves. Hey, Mrs. 5 – I’ve got a picture I need to print out or e-mail to you! This kind of thing makes me love living where I live and being part of this community.

Whew! Now you’ve seen a few of the non-knitting highlights of our summer so far. Next up, I have an update on some spinning I’ve snuck in over the last month, as well as some pictures of the new Kauni spiral sweater. I promise, I’ll get started on a post detailing the sleeve instructions for the sweater knit-along and hopefully get it up by the end of this week.

Assignment Three: Measure, Block, Measure, Math

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

This next assignment in our Spiral Sweater Knitalong involves a bit more of the thinking and the mathy bits of knitting the perfect sweater than most knitters like to admit as necessary. Really, I tend to think that we are all better off learning the rules behind designing a sweater, and then using the wonderful patterns the designers come up as more of suggestions than paint-by-numbers. And honestly, while there are a few numbers to be juggled, the math is simple and straightforward. I already wrote about it in general terms here, but now it is time to walk through it in explicit detail.

I’m here for you. I’m holding your hand. We’re doing it together, and if it still doesn’t make sense after you read this post, we’ll talk through your example in the Ravelry forums.

First step is to pay some close attention to the swatch we’ve just knit. Here’s my unblocked swatch, taken off the needles and strung onto some waste yarn. It is not a good idea to try measuring a swatch while it is still on the needles. You want the stitches all relaxed and flexible for accurate measurement.

Okay, I’ve mentioned a lot of this before, but just to make sure it’s all in one place. Before you wash your swatch, take a look at the way the fabric looks. Maybe even take a photo. Measure it for either stitches and rows per inch in the case of simple patterns, or in the case of lace like this, for repeats (both horizontal and vertical) per inch. More on this in the after-blocking portion of the lecture. All of this is to help save your sanity in the case that the measurements change significantly – and it doesn’t take much to be significant! – between pre-blocking and post-blocking. Write these numbers down! You may decide that a little mathematic double-checking is necessary if your garment looks totally wrong halfway through the knit. Write everything down, and in one place, because the one thing you don’t write down will be the one thing you’ll wish you had.

Okay, and a bit on blocking. We all have our own favorite ways of doing things. I pretty much always wet-block my creations, and in my experience, almost entirely with wool and animal fibers, my method works great and is the way to go. One advantage that washing your swatch provides over steam or even spritzing with a spray bottle is that it tells you what your garment will look like after it’s washed the first time. Is the yarn going to bleed? Is it going to fluff out like crazy? Is it going to felt the moment you look at it cross-eyed? Every garment needs washing eventually. You may as well know the results up front. Also, I have a horrible relationship with all irons, and my method has never failed to work a charm.

So here is exactly what I do. I run the sink full of room-temperature water, usually with a bit of wool-wash (still using the same bottle of Eucalan I bought about eight years ago – it only takes a tiny drop) mixed in. There is nothing wrong with using a drop of your own shampoo or some mild dish soap in a pinch. I turn the water off, then gently lay the swatch/garment in the water, using my hands to push it down to the bottom. It often takes a bit of soaking to get all the air bubbles to float out, but having a bit of soap in the mix does help with that bit. There should be minimal (as in none) of the swishing, scrubbing, agitating motion that one is tempted to do as when washing delicates. It is amazing how much dirt can float off just by letting the thing soak in the sink for 10-15 minutes.

Alright, then you gently lift the thing out of the water, being sure to support the whole soppy mess with both hands so that it doesn’t stretch out from its own weight. Lay it on a big ole towel, and roll it up like a jelly roll cake. At this point I usually give it a gentle squeeze to get the water soaked into the towel. Other people swear by the spin cycle on their top-loading washing machines, or their salad spinners for this purpose. I have two old towels dedicated to the procedure, and I’m sticking with them.

And then all that’s left is to spread the thing out on an appropriate surface – like one’s guest-bedroom bed covered with a vinyl tablecloth and maybe another dry towel on top of that. Or a rug or those fancy foam puzzle-piece thingies that are gaining popularity. Whatever. If it’s a swatch, it likely needs a few pins at the edges to keep things from rolling, but don’t stretch the fabric out tight unless you plan to do that to the finished garment every time you wash it. For a lace shawl or scarf – yes. For a sweater like ours? No!

Wet wool behaves a bit like playdough. It is malleable, and once dried it tends to maintain the shape into which you’ve poked it. It takes a few minutes, but it is totally worth plucking at the bobbles to get them to stay on the outside of the fabric instead of sinking to the back.

Whew! That’s done. Put a fan on the thing, walk away and let it dry. If you block it in the morning, it should be mostly dry by the time the kids are in bed. If you block it after the kids are in bed, hopefully it should be ready by the time you’ve washed the breakfast mess up in the morning. Now it’s time to get serious about the measuring. These are the measurements that really count, the ones we use for our calculations.

For lace patterns like this, I like to put a couple of pins at the beginning of a couple of repeats a few inches apart. That way, I can be sure of the start and finish points of my measurements. Plus, it makes a better picture for the blog, and which I can go back to later when I’m double-checking all my steps because I’ve lost confindence that I’m doing it right. I can’t be alone in this!

Handily enough, in this case I’ve got four repeats and they’ve come out to four inches. So on average, each vertical repeat is an inch tall. I also measured this on a longer scale, and it turned out to be true overall for the swatch.

And Dammit! I thought I had a picture of the measuring tape going horizontally across the swatch, but I can’t find it now. Trust me, though, I measured the entire width of the swatch in several places and it came out to – let’s say it was 3″ wide. I’m sitting in the dark of my kids’ room even though it is 11:15 in the evening because Sophie is having trouble sleeping. Don’t even get me started with that. So we’ll use 3″ as our example for the moment. It is better for this project to know the width of the entire strip than to worry about stitches per inch. It keeps things simple because the different stitch patterns have different gauges, and we’re going to be using the same set of stitches throughout the body, so we may as well just pay attention to the whole strip rather than the individual stitches.

You will also need to know the length of the strip before the stitch pattern starts. I suggest you put a pin or a stitch marker into the spot you designate as the beginning of the first repeat so that you can measure and count consistently. I don’t have that number in front of me right now, but we’ll come back to it in a bit.

Now we need to move on to measuring something else. Most of us have in our closets at least one sweater in which we are comfortable. Hopefully, we feel that the sweater in question is flattering to some extent. This doesn’t have to be a hand-knit sweater – a commercial one will do just fine. It does help if the sweater is shaped in generally the same style of the sweater we’re knitting, and in generally the same thickness. I’m going to use my finished spiral sweater as an example.

First, we measure the width of the sweater laid flat. In my case, it’s 19″, and if I double that I get a circumference of 38″.

Check the lower edge of your sweater to make sure that it’s the same measurement. If not, your sweater is probably shaped. If your sweater is of the longer variety, that’s probably not too much of an issue – just run your tape measure around your own waist and make sure the actual measurement is not bigger than the one you took for the chest circumference of your sweater. If it is, we may need to add a bit of ease. That would be something to discuss over in the Ravelry forum.

Okay, then you need to take similar measurements of the arms at the wrist. You’ll need to double that number (4.5″ x 2 = 9″) to get the circumference of course.

And do the same for the upper arm as well.

We’ll talk about the math for the arms in maybe the next post, but you may as well take all the measurements at once and mark them down on a little picture kind of like this:

I suck at drawing, but am finally able to do little sweater sketches after years of trying. Oh, and I’m reminded – you’ll need the measurement from hemline to underarm as well. Mine was 15″. Oh, and from sleeve cuff to underarm.

Whew! This post is getting long, but luckily we’ve done enough to get us through the main body of the sweater. Almost. All you need to do is figure out how many repeats, plus the ramp-up portion of the strip, it will take to get your body circumference. It’s incredibly easy. Just take your desired circumference for the body, subtract the length of the ramp-up before the stitch pattern, then divide the remaining number by the repeats per inch. So. 38″ circumference minus 10″ ramp-up equals 20″. Since my repeats worked out to one per inch, I needed 20 repeats of the lace pattern. Once I knit my strip to that length, I can join it together as I showed in that previous post and start climbing the spiral staircase.

And then you have to worry about how far to go – how many times around. It’s easy enough. Look at the measurement from hemline to underarm. In my case it’s 15″. Divide that by the width of the strip. 15/3=5. Of course, most cases won’t come out that cleanly, and I’d say round down, so if it’d been 15/3.5=4.285, I would have taken the whole number of four. And you’re saying Woah! I don’t want a *shorter* sweater! But don’t worry. You’re probably going to be picking up stitches and knitting down for a border at the bottom to keep the mess from rolling. that will allow for some adjustment once the sweater is nearly done and you’ve tried it on.

The only catch is – don’t forget to ramp your spiral back down to a point at the top. If you start your decreasing when you are straight above the point of the beginning of the strip, the end of your strip should land directly above the end of the increases at the beginning, and you will have a nice balanced cylinder.

Oh, I know I have left out some detail or other. Don’t be afraid to ask. It is late at night, and I am distracted by insomniac children and other less important stuff. Let’s keep this fun and collaborative – I love the way things are going so far. Also, nobody fret if they’re feeling behind. This is a casual knit-along, and you’ll have the benefit of comments from the overachievers in the crowd.

Now I’m off to knit a few rows before bed, hopefully to finish my first strip and get ready to join my sweater round together before the end of the world. Knitting time has been at a minimum this week!

Assignment Two: Swatchy Swatchy!

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I know some of you are turning blue with holding your breath over the next step in the pattern. Let me just tell you that I don’t at all enjoy playing with knitting charts on the computer, and I’ve just spent two evenings of my free time preparing a couple for you. The charts are in a .PDF file, which hopefully most of you will be able to open. If someone really can’t open one, I might be willing to figure out a plan B, but the .PDF should work for most people.

Let me do a little explaining about what you’ll find when you open the file. There are three pages. The first page is a new stitch pattern that you haven’t seen yet. It’s the one I’m using on my green and yellow Kauni sweater. It includes a little bit of everything – simple cables, little bobbles, and a little simple lace. I know it sounds crazy-complicated, but it’s not so bad really, and after only about five repeats of it, I’ve already got it memorized. I’ve got a first peek at it for you. Unblocked, it looks a little rough.

Once blocked, though, I’m very happy with how the bobbles pop out and the lace smooths flat and opens out. In blocking this pattern, one does have to be prepared to pluck and pinch at the bobbles a bit to help perk them up.

The second page contains the stitch pattern for the original sweater, only with a slightly narrower strip. If you want a wider strip, you can add more knit stitches to the sides. On both of the stitch-pattern pages, there are actually two charts. One shows the actual beginning of your spiral strip, where to increase, and how you can shift from stockinette on into the pattern as the strips widen.

Oh, and if you remember, when I knit the original sweater, I wished I’d increased a little more slowly at the beginning for a shallower slope. I went ahead and made that change for you on the charts.

The second chart on each of the two pages shows a single repeat of the stitch pattern. I was able to enlarge the chart a bit there for easier reading.

And the third page is the key to the charts – to help you decipher all those little symbols.

So, after you get this three-page file and look at it – what do you do? Choose one of the two stitch patterns, or substitute one of your own. Cast on two stitches, and start working the chart. For best results, slip as if to purl the first stitch of every knit row with the yarn held to the back, and slip as if to purl the first stitch of every purl row with the yarn held to the front (towards the purl side in both cases). This will create the nice selvedge you’ll want once you join your spiral together and start working it around.

Keep working through the chart, till you’ve finished the increases to the regular width, and then continue until you have about 20 inches or so of length. That should keep you busy for at least a day or so, until I can get the next step up.

Oh! and there have been a few rumblings of people nervous and/or unhappy about working with charts and/or lace. I have a couple of tips and reassurances for y’all.

Basics of working with charts:
You read every right-side row from right to left (those are the rows with the interesting stuff going on – like increases, decreases, and cables.) The wrong-side rows are read from left to right. For example, let’s read through the first two rows of Chart A. The first row is a right-side row, and it goes K1, P1, C3L, P1, K3, K2Tog twice, (YO, K1) three times, YO, SSK twice, K3, P1, C3R, P1, K1. The second is a wrong-side row, and it reads K1, P1, K3, P1, K17, P1, K3, P1, K1.

I like to use a post-it note to mark my place on charts – I position it so that the bottom edge of the post-it note is just above the row I’m currently working, which allows me to see the row I’m working and the rows already worked, which is good for checking to make sure you’re where you think you are in the row. More recently, I’ve turned to this amazing Highlighter Tape stuff, which allows you to see all of the rows, and is sticky like post-its, allowing you to move it up the chart as you knit.

Reassurances for lace novices – this is a pretty good place to start with lace. You’re knitting back and forth on a narrow strip, so if ripping back becomes necessary, it will be easier to get back to the mistake and then get the stitches back on the needles than a longer row like a shawl. Also, errors will be easier to spot right away. And these stitch patterns are quite simple and quite easy to memorize. I can’t *promise* that you’ll succeed, but I’m doing my best to set you up for success.

Okay, if you have questions, come over to the Ravelry KAL group and ask away. I can’t believe we already have more than 80 members! You don’t need an invitation, just follow the link and click the Join This Group button. Be nice, people. These charts have not been test-knit yet. I’m happy to answer questions and correct any mistakes, so if in doubt, just ask – nicely.

Next up, we’ll be measuring your “swatch” both pre-and post-blocking, and we’ll be measuring one of your favorite sweaters. So, get knitting, dig through your closet for a sweater that fits and flatters you – hopefully one that is a similar thickness to the one you’re knitting, and also one that is a bit boxy – as in not shaped at the waist. More explanation on that next time.

Happy 4th of July

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

We're sitting at the park waiting for fireworks to start. We came pretty
early to get a close enough parking spot, a good place to sit, and
listen to some live music. The girls are in their jammies for minimal
fuss when we get home, and we brought a bunch of books and a couple
flashlights to help keep them busy.

There is a lady knitting just down the hill from us, and I am sorely
tempted to go ask her what she's making. I think this is my first
attempt at kinnearing.

The parade this morning was fun, despite the drizzle at first. I think
there were fewer entries this year, maybe because of the struggling
economy? There were lots of war veterans walking and riding in the
parade, and despite my strong feelings of pacifism, I always enjoy
standing there clapping my hands sore for them.

I hope you had a great day today, whether it is a holiday for you or