Saturday, May 31, 2008

Betwixt and between

With all of the thinking required of me at work lately, I haven't really been putting much thought into knitting. I've been knitting whenever I can, but I've been doing the mindless kind rather than more complicated projects. Sometimes it's nice to just do some mindless stockinette, and the grafting last weekend was downright meditative. The problem, though, is that I just ran out of projects on the needles. Branden's sweater was the only big project I had going, and I just finished it.

Usually, this would be no big deal. I'd have about 6 new things planned, would have cast one on about a week before finishing the sweater, and would have no hiccups in the knitting process. Usually.

But at the moment, I have nothing. No plans, even. I have ideas for projects, but nothing is really at the "ready to go" stage where I can just sit down and knit. I really like the designing stage of a project, but I am just having a hard time finding spare brain cells. It took me at least 3 nights to decide to make socks with my hand-dyed yarn, and a couple more to pick a stitch pattern. Fortunately, I was able to knit the toe while deciding on the stitch pattern, so I've made some progress.

The camera is insisting on using the flash, or a very long shutter time. The flash completely hides the pattern, so here's a blurry picture without it, due to long exposure and hand-held photography:

I can't believe that I am having such a hard time coming up with the next project, especially considering that I have these to pore over:

Branden decided to covertly enhance my collection of stitch dictionaries, and so these showed up earlier this week. Unfortunately, his plan to be covert failed; he just can't keep a secret! It was a nice surprise anyway...just a few days before the books arrived, which let me also enjoy the anticipation.

The books are in Japanese, but are nicely charted and should be really easy to work from. Many of the patterns are in the Walker books, but it's nice to see them in color and in different textures of yarn. There are also a few new stitch patterns that I don't think I've seen before. Also, the books are organized so that different variations on the same stitch pattern are generally close together (often on the same page). This makes it really easy to see how minor variations change the way the pattern looks, and I've been having fun trying to detect the differences in similar patterns.

With all that inspiration, I will hopefully come up with something interesting to talk about soon. I'd better, because I'm leaving for a conference at 7:00 tomorrow morning, and as of right now don't have any knitting planned. Five days and four plane trips without knitting just doesn't sound fun, so I think I'll be going back to the stitch dictionaries now. I should be able to find a few small take-along projects this afternoon, between laundry and packing. If not, I guess I could just take the whole stash...

I'll be back Thursday, and will hopefully have something to show you then. Have a good week!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trying out the new hybrid

Sweater, that is. Our hybrid car is no longer new, I'm afraid. But we like it anyway. Hopefully we'll like the hybrid sweater when it's no longer new, too.

This sweater certainly took enough time to make that I'd like to see it around for a long time to come. I finished the body on Friday, obsessed about the fact that the sleeves might really be too long (after I obsessed while knitting them that they would be too short, of course), decided to keep them the length they were before. It's generally better not to give in to second thoughts while making up, I think. It's like that exam where you change the answer at the last minute and lose 20 points. I don't change my answers at the last minute anymore, nor do I make major design alterations in the throes of doubt that sometimes accompany finishing a project.

On Saturday, I steeked. Actually, the steeking took no time at all. A few hearty snips with the scissors, and the steek was done. It was the part before and after that took forever. I decided not to sew these steeks. I know, it probably sounds nuts on my first attempt to skip the machine sewing step. But I didn't want the bulky seams. This is a really heavy yarn, and I didn't want to end up with lumps at the shoulders. So, I steeked without seams.

I didn't want to do all of the grafting before finishing the raw steek ends, so I just grafted the sleeves on first. I realized when I sat down to do the grafting that I've never seen it done with the two pieces at 90 degrees to one another. I looked online for a tutorial, but came up empty. I checked my knitting books. Nothing. I had to admit that I had no idea what I was doing, really. But then, I've never been one to let that stop me. So, I just made it up. And I think it came out pretty well.

I really like grafting. Especially when it's not in lace weight. It just makes a lot of intuitive sense to me. You just follow the path of the yarn, back and forth and forth and back, and all of a sudden you have a seam. It's like magic. And this yarn is wonderful to work with. I can't say enough about Cascade Eco Wool. It's soft, it's warm, it's gorgeous, and it's cheap...can you ask for more?

Once the grafting was done, I cut the steeks. And then came the fun part. When you want to steek and not leave a seam, you need to weave in all the ends. All the ends. In this case, there were about 250 ends in the sleeves and neck alone (not to mention the colorwork, cast on, and joining ends). That's a lot of weaving. I finished the essential ones late Saturday night, and had Branden try it on. And it. didn't. fit.

That's right; the body was too big in proportion to the sleeves that were too tight. It just didn't hang right. Adjustments would need to be made. Hair would need to be torn, breasts beaten, wailing would ensue. But it was 11 pm, and I'd already spent almost all day on it, so we decided to leave it for morning, despite the urge to cut it all up into little bits and throw the whole thing out the window for the little birds whose nest is in our shrub. (That makes me sound like a much more active participant in that discussion than I probably was probably more like Branden convincing the crazed wife to put down the scissors and wait until morning...)

As usually happens in such cases, it wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared the next morning, but it was still true that the sleeves were too tight, which made the body look huge. It's very unflattering to have a huge, bell-shaped, crooked sweater body and skin-tight, spindly little arms. Doesn't do much for the masculine form. I don't think it would do much for any form. Not to mention the extra 4 inches that seemed to spring up in the back when the sleeves sat so high on the biceps. Branden bravely said he thought it was fine. He has a knack for not minding lumps and bumps when marital bliss is on the line. He is a wise man.

Branden might be able to ignore the sweater's lack of grace, but I couldn't. I couldn't have let him out of the house wearing it, and I knew it. But, I was going to give it one last chance. The swatching had to count for something, right? So, yesterday I blocked it. And, miraculously, it has recovered. Thankfully, the colorwork just needed a little tugging into place, and you'd never know that there had been heartbreak over the fit. (Ok, there was more than a little bit of tugging. I wasn't feeling kind and gentle. But it cooperated anyway.) It's still a little bit large in the body, but as soon as the sleeves loosened up a bit, the extra awkwardness of the shoulders disappeared. This is a very good thing. I had already outlined my plans for side seams and more steeking surgery, and it wasn't going to be pretty. That would have been a lot more ends. Fortunately, those plans have now been scrapped, and the sweater is officially done. And here it is:

I didn't intend for the cable section to stretch at the top like that, but I really like the fact that it does. The v-shape broadens the shoulders a bit. And, I must say, I think the model is rather cute, too. (When he's not busy making camera faces!)

The sleeves are now proportional to the rest of the body. There is even some ease in the armpits.

I love cables.

The three-needle bind off makes a pretty pattern on the shoulder seam.

I like the subtle colorwork.

It looks pretty comfortable (and, I am assured, is quite warm)

The back no longer bunches up.

And the cat approves.

Overall, I think this one's a keeper.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Some pictures of our latest back yard guest. I had been working under the assumption that it was a ruby-throated hummingbird (the kind I'm familiar with from back east), but apparently they don't make it out this far. If it were a ruby-throated, this would be a girl, as it lacks the eponymous red throat. But, not being a ruby-throat, I don't know what kind of birdie it is, except that it's cute, and very happy with its new feeder. As always, click for big, click again for bigger.

A bad blogger, a good weekend

It's Monday. There are very few times that I say "it's Monday" with so little groaning in my voice. It's been quite a nice weekend, though I know I have neglected the blog horribly. Matter of fact, I neglected everything horribly, which is probably precisely why it was a good weekend.

I was noticing definite signs of real burnout by the end of last week (I spend all day Thursday trying to write a single page, which should have taken half an hour...). If there's one thing that a chronic pain condition will do for you, it's to teach you to take burnout seriously and STOP. This is something I've never been good at. I hate having to stop when I have things I need to be doing. I would much rather be doing something (anything, really) than doing nothing. But, then again, in the interests of being able to function later it's generally worth it to listen and slow down before hitting bottom. So, grudgingly, I stopped.

I ignored all of my responsibilities for two whole days, lounged around in our new hammock in the sun, finished Branden's sweater, did some gardening, read a little. I watched our resident hummingbird discover that we have put out a feeder for her convenience, was scolded by same hummingbird for being in "her" yard, ignored hummingbird's chirps of disapproval, and went right on sunning. She got over it, and even came over to perch on the edge of the hammock and check me out. She approved of my red shirt and pink and purple papers, I think. In any case, she was very happy to sit about two feet from me and watch before buzzing away in search of more flowers.

I am not much of a sunbather, really. I love the feel of sun on me, but I don't love baking in it, and sun-tightened skin isn't really my favorite feeling, either. This is my favorite time of year to lounge in the sun; it's still cool enough to wear long clothes and enjoy the warmth, and warm enough to want to be outside. Add to that cloudless, deep blue skies for 2 days running, and you have quite a nice weekend in the back yard.

I got a new pasta maker this weekend. And I got a hand-cranked machine to make pasta, too. Branden has apparently discovered a previously-untapped love of pasta making now that we have a machine to help (we bought a new food processer with a dough attachment last weekend, as our old one was broken). There's nothing like a motor to make that man love to be in the kitchen. We made pasta yesterday afternoon, and have plans for many more such adventures. It's hard to beat fresh pasta for an evening meal.

I did not clean the house as I was planning to, until today. Today, the ban on doing work was lifted, and I spent most of the day doing curriculum planning for the fall and catching up on stuff for the teaching conference next week. Then, when I was done with that, I came in and waged war on the dust bunnies that have taken residence in every possible corner, it seems.

That sounds rather harsh, doesn't it? Dust bunnies sound so cute and helpless, and war sounds so drastic. I must say they're multiplying (like rabbits?) lately; it's getting warm and the cats are shedding like mad. Well, I guess we could say we had a dust bunny rehoming event today; they have all been moved out of their deep, dark corners and into the dust bin. Which really sounds like the perfect place for a dust bunny, if you ask me.

I did finish the sweater last night, steeks, grafts and all. It's blocking upstairs now (I have discovered that there is a decided advantage to having an attic that heats up like an oven when the sun is out...), and I'll have pictures for you tomorrow. Hope you all had relaxing weekends, too! Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Is it really Thursday already? (Thank goodness the weekend is coming!) You know, I don't think I have done a stitch of knitting this week. Maybe one or two rounds of Branden's sweater before catching my bus Monday, but I can't remember for sure. Not much, in any case. You see, The Plan is for me to be finished with my thesis research before teaching begins in September. Which means that I need to be working like crazy now. And I have to come up with a curriculum for my fall class. And my undergrad needs my attention. And I am doing a ton of reading about diversity for the teaching circle I'll be in. Oh, and on Monday? The person I want to postdoc for put up an announcement saying that she's accepting applications (which means that I should have sent an application 2 weeks ago when I meant to send it, rather than putting it off again...). It's just been one of those weeks.

So, no knitting. Not even much thinking about knitting, as almost every waking moment has been reading or writing or outlining or scheduling. But things have at least begun to get done, and any craziness now just makes the fall easier. For that reason alone, it's probably worth it. I really need to not think for a night or two, though. I can only do the every-waking-hour thing for so long, and I think it might have been so long.

Tonight, then, I will be doing some mindless knitting on the hybrid sweater. Yeah, that thing I haven't talked about in a long, long time. It's been going. Slowly, but going. The body part of a sweater is good background knitting, but not great blog material. The "look, I made it two whole inches" posts just aren't that much fun. But I have been making progress, albeit less than I had hoped. I only have about 6" left, and then I steek. I know I'm supposed to be scared, but I'm mainly just curious, and a little excited. Yay for new things!

The one thing I'm really not sure about is the neck opening. All of my books talk about steeking the armholes, but they don't say much about the neck. I'm certainly not going to use a straight-across neck with no shaping. That would be really uncomfortable, I'd think. Knitting in the Old Way says that you can steek the neck, too, or you can shape by working back and forth rather than in the round. Wouldn't steeking the neck mean that you don't bind off? I thought that the bind off was important for neck structure? (Ask me how I learned that one...) Is it worth it to steek such a small length? This part of the sweater isn't colorwork, so I could do short row shaping pretty easily. But that might be cheating. This is supposed to be a steeked sweater, knit in the round, after all. I'm not sure what to do about that, but I need to figure it out soon, as there isn't much time left before the dividing needs to begin. Still, I don't think I'll make it there tonight, and tonight I want to not think, and figuring anything out counts as thinking, even if it's knitting. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just keep knitting and see how steeking a collar works?

Monday, May 19, 2008


I got a haircut on Saturday. You might say that's an understatement.



I've been thinking about getting my hair cut again for a while. I have gotten it cut every 2 yrs since high school, because that's how long it takes to grow out enough hair to donate to Locks of Love. Well, this time I got it cut at 1.5 yrs, so I didn't have enough to donate. Though, considering how short she cut it, I think I probably had the 10"! It's shorter than I asked for, and a bit different than what I'd imagined, but it will grow out. And overall, I think I like it anyway.

I was a little surprised earlier today at a coworker's reaction. In the midst of telling me how much she loved my new haircut, she said that I "totally don't look like a heterosexual married woman anymore." Ummm...? Well, that wasn't the intent (I am not having any sexual orientation crises, thankyouverymuch), but I guess it might be "that" kind of haircut. I think I'm ok with that. I mean, really...if someone is judging my sexual orientation based on what someone else did to my hair (and it wasn't even what I asked for!), they probably deserve to be confused. Just goes to show that you never can tell what will come out of people's mouths...and it's often pretty funny, kept in an appropriate context and taken with a (rather large) grain of salt. But sometimes, Dr. Freud, a haircut is just a haircut!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

And so we begin...again

I finally decided to give up. Couldn't find a stitch pattern that I liked and that worked with the bias. Just wasn't happening. Left the Walker book open on my coffee table as I walked away in frustration. Yesterday evening, I sat down to find the yarn and return it to the stash. But then I glanced back at the Walker book. Then I swatched some more. Actually, I didn't swatch. I just started knitting. I've spent a whole week thinking about this project and not actually getting anywhere on it, and I was ready to just try it. This pattern doesn't show the yarn bias at all. It's all garter stitch and trellis, which has a strong bias of its own, and you'd never be able to tell that the yarn isn't balanced. I got this far last night:

Unfortunately, that's half a ball of yarn, and I only have 4. A little bit of math says that I will end up with a 4-foot long piece if I keep it this wide, and that's just a little bit too short. So, today I frogged it. I'm about 4 rows into the new piece, and it looks like it might just work this time. It's not wide enough to call a stole, but it will be a reasonable-length wide scarf, I think. Not quite what I'd hoped for, but all I have yarn for. And, now that I'm actually knitting it, I think I like this pattern.

As a completely unrelated side note, look what I got out of the garden yesterday:

That's lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, beet greens, sage, savory, cilantro, peas, turnip greens, and kohlrabi leaves. Today, I planted tomatoes. I love spring.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Well, here we are at Thursday already. And what do I have to show for it? Not much on the knitting front. See this?

That, my friends, is a parallelogram. And it is not a rectangular one. I knit up a swatch of the alpaca the other night, and it has a huge bias.

If it were a small bias, I think I'd ignore it and just say that you block the heck out of lace anyway. But it's not a small bias. According to the Knitter's Book of Yarn, I should "choose a project that incorporates both the knit and purl stitches." Or, use a needle half a size smaller, or rewind the yarn by balling it opposite to the direction in which it was spun.

The ball winding didn't seem to do much. As I said, this is pretty biased; the singles twist seems to be much tighter than the plying twist. I'm not surprised that twisting as minimal as ball winding isn't changing anything.

Lacy things and smaller needles don't work together so well.

This leaves me with choosing something with knit and purl stitches. Fortunately, most lace is really good at pairing decreases, too, which should help to counteract the twist issues. The only problem is that I can't find a lace I like for this yarn. I've tried several, and I've been through the Walker books at least a dozen times (I don't think that's even an exaggeration). Nothing is speaking to me. Well, actually, a couple of things did, but then they didn't look good in this yarn. I need a fairly open pattern so that I get enough stretch to make something decent-sized from the small amount of yardage. But if a pattern is too open it looks strange done in such a heavy yarn. I love the way my first lace project came out, and it was a lace pattern with a heavy yarn.

The problem? All of the patterns that I am drawn to that meet the criteria above are very similar to this one. If the colors were really different, I'd be ok with that. But they're so similar that I want to use very different stitch patterns.

So, unfortunately, I am stymied on this project for the moment. I'm sure something will turn up for this yarn, but I'm not sure that now is its moment (which is too bad...I've really been enjoying petting it...). I might give it another night of pattern gazing before returning it to the stash pile, but now I need a backup plan, just in case. This might require another trip to the stash...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reposted from coffee and knitting needles,

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by Library Thing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read and italicize the ones you own but have not read.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
War and Peace
Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo

A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible

Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables

The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye

On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

I guess I like the lonely books, huh? Makes me miss reading for fun...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I hate spam. Generally, I also don't approve of forwards. I am probably a grouch, but I don't really do the social network thing, either. This morning, I got an email from my aunt inviting me to I thought this was odd, as it's not like we went to school together or anything. But whatever. My aunt wants to keep in touch. I went to the website, read it over. It seemed relatively ok. Not really my thing, but ok. So I signed up. Hit continue. And then, it congratulated me on having joined and invited 138 of my 154 contacts in gmail to I may have said some choice words. I may still be muttering them under my breath. What on earth makes them think that I want my entire *?%$# email address book invited to I'm sorry, but I have no desire to reunite with my first landlord that I probably could have sued for sexual harassment (not sure why his email is even in there, except that gmail stores every email address you've ever typed in...). I did not really want to connect with anyone that I have ever bought from on craigslist. I guess it would be nice to chat with people I worked with 8 yrs ago, if they're still at the company. But it's not really appropriate to send such things to their work address. And really, I don't need to talk to myself at my school account. Grrr....

Things like this make me very angry. I know, I probably should have just refused to sign up. I usually do. But there was a chance that this one was valid, and in a moment of weakness, I decided that I should stay in touch with my aunt. And now everyone I have ever spoken to via gmail is on a spam list. I am so annoyed. I can't believe I let the spambot get me. And, to top it all off, I have gotten an email from someone else saying that they talked to my aunt and she didn't initiate the darned thing. Just goes to show...when it comes to the internet, being a recalcitrant curmudgeon is probably the best way to go.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Yesterday, I showed you this:

This is some gorgeous local alpaca (comes from the San's hard to get a more local alpaca!) that I picked up at the Weaving Works just before Christmas, when I bought sock yarn for making gifts. I had so many socks to knit that I put it aside for later. It's been burning a hole in my stash ever since. I think its time has come. The only problem is, I'm not really sure what to do with it. I have 4 little cakes (50g?), probably 150 yds each. Enough for a wide scarf, perhaps? Two more would get me a smallish stole, but I'm not sure I can squeeze one out of the 4 balls that I have. But then, I was really surprised by the last stole; I bought two 700 yd skeins of the DIC Baby, and used a little less than one skein. I couldn't believe that I got that much area out of 700 yds! It's probably tempting fate to hope for the same thing twice. Either way, I still don't know what kind of stitch pattern to use. I've been through the Walker books so many times in the past few days, and nothing is jumping out at me. And so, it sits, waiting for the perfect plan.

It amuses me that this is the second yarn in a row that matches my rug. At least it matches my decor while it's sitting in the knitting basket! It probably also means that I should branch out a little bit with the color selection...did I mention that I have a thing for reds and purples lately?

To write, or not to write?

Now that the stole is finished, I really can't put off deciding about writing it up much longer. The problem is that I can't decide what my motivation would be for writing it up. I am a big fan of open source and free sharing of knowledge. This makes me tend toward writing it up as a free pattern. After all, I looked in a book, took three patterns I liked, knit them one after the other, and called it a project. Is this really a "design"? Somehow, that descriptor doesn't seem to fit. There was nothing complicated to figure out; I just assembled a few small pieces into one big piece.

On the other hand, by that criteria, most patterns out there aren't really designs, either. I don't usually buy patterns, and the ones that I do buy tend to be the more complex kind, that involve much more than choosing a stitch pattern. But I don't have a problem with someone selling a pattern for a simple shawl or scarf. And I know that these patterns are usually quite popular, so people must find them worth buying.

I don't want to undervalue my work, and I don't want to undercut the value of other's work by making something available for free that they would charge for. And yet, craft has always seemed to me to be something that should be shared freely. If these skills had not been passed down openly through generations, where would handknitters be today? Someone invented the stitch patterns that I used; they came to me through a book that assembled hundreds such patterns without name or recognition for the people that invented them (except in the rare cases that the patterns were submitted to Walker's collection from a specific person). The inventor is gone and long forgotten, but the pattern lives on. Is this so horrible? Is it wrong of me now to profit from someone else's genius in deriving a stitch pattern I'd never have imagined?

Intellectual property is such a huge issue in our society. From music to academic papers and right on down to knitting patterns, it seems that one can't get away from the litigious nature of thought in the modern world. I understand that ideas are important, and I understand wanting credit for things that we have done. I would be annoyed if someone took "my" design and claimed that it was their own (particularly if they attempted to profit from it). And yet, I think that a person would be fully justified in seeing my stole, liking it, and deciding to copy it. And then, if they accomplish this without a pattern that I've authored, have they copied, or used my stole for inspiration? It's a fine line, and one that people draw in different places. The problem is, I'm not sure where I want to draw mine. And it seems that one should be pretty darned sure of where one stands on this topic before releasing anything out into the world to be subject to all of the acrimonious IP discussion.

Fleegle has done a beautiful job of summarizing her stance on the issue, and I do tend to agree with her conclusions. I don't need the money (though who can't use more knitting funds)? I don't want to prevent people from knitting something they like simply because they don't have the $5 to spare (and I think we all know someone in that situation). Knitting is a craft, a hobby. As such, I don't think that it should be something you have to buy into for every project. I happen to be fortunate enough that I can afford to buy patterns and yarns that I like, but there have also been times in my life where I had $25 a week for groceries, and $5 is just too much when you're in that situation.

On the other hand, writing up this pattern will take me a fair amount of time, if I want to do it right. (And I have a sometimes unfortunate tendency to believe that something that is worth doing is worth doing the right way.) Time is a precious thing in my life (I'd really like to meet someone for whom time is not precious...), and it's hard to say that I want to write up a pattern more than I want to knit. That's the tradeoff; I have no spare time to put into writing. I use it all knitting. If something takes time to do, it's my knitting that stops. This makes it seem that perhaps one should be compensated for such sacrifices.

There are lots of people out there trying to make a living selling knitting patterns. If I give one away free, am I making it harder for them to make a living? Perhaps. I've heard the argument stated that way, at least. I'm not sure if this is the strongest argument I've ever heard, but it's another thing to consider. I gladly buy patterns that I like, usually from independent designers. Since I buy so few, it's important to me that I buy from the people doing the designing. When I want a project, I look to those people first to see if they have something that will fit. It's the same as going to a LYS or an independent dyer instead of eBay when I need yarn; I choose to support the businesses that mean something to me, even if it costs a little more. I consider it part of being in the community; I read the designers' blogs, I enjoy their wit and humor, and when it suits me I buy their patterns. But not everyone shops this way. Many people look for something free first, even if they can afford the pattern; cheap is often the bottom line. There's nothing wrong with this; everyone has a right to choose how, where, and why they spend their money. But I can see how an abundance of free patterns makes it harder to be an independent designer, and I certainly wouldn't want to see them go away for lack of business. I can see how generating one more free pattern helps to reinforce the expectation that patterns should be free, and could in some ways erode the value of a design.

Maybe I just overthink things. I can see both sides of the argument, and I'm torn. The simplest thing to do is to just not write the pattern, staying conveniently out of the whole murky situation. And yet there's the sharing thing; isn't that why we blog in the first place? To share what we're doing?

Enough existential angst for today. I will continue to ponder. If you have opinions, I'd be happy to hear them. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should show you the other reason that I'm not rushing to write up the pattern:

As this post is already quite long, I think I will put off the full telling of that tale for another day. But we couldn't have a blog post without some yarn, now could we?

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Let's skip right to the eye candy, shall we?

I was a little worried that the stole wouldn't be big enough, it was only 10.5 x 51.5" when it came off the needles. As you can see, it grew a bit after its bath.

I love the openness of this lace:

And it makes a pretty scalloped edge, too:

And the center join is pretty, too:

The fountains are flowing elegantly:

The perspective is pretty:

It's even prettier in the light:

Jocelyn asked if I am considering writing this pattern up. I am doing just that...considering. More on that later...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Home again

I mentioned on Friday that I was taking my lace traveling. Four days and four planes later, we are home again. Why the sudden trip? I mentioned a couple of months ago that my grandmother was in the hospital for unknown reasons. Two weeks ago they arrived at a diagnosis, and she won't be coming home from the hospital. She has a fatal disease which usually takes about 4 months to run its course. This meant that it was time to go back to Massachusetts, and sooner rather than later. We left Friday afternoon, and arrived back last night after a rather whirlwind trip. It is a strange thing to visit someone for the last time, knowing that it is the last time. When you live close to someone that is ill, you always hope for one more visit, and you can put off the finality of goodbye with the belief that there will be a next time. Things get harder when you live 3500 miles away, and when time left is counted in weeks rather than months. And yet, how many people say that they would give anything for just one more day? We are lucky to have had the chance to visit, with the mixed blessing of knowing just how momentous a visit it was.

All of the travel and all of the time spent thinking (and decidedly not sleeping) means that there has been much knitting. I was surprised to finish the center panel of the stole before we even got to our plane transfer last night.

I now have three pieces ready for grafting, which I'll probably manage to finish tonight.

Tomorrow is group meeting, but I will try to have blocking photos Thursday or Friday. I can't wait to see how it looks blocked!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Swatch to the rescue

I like to have knitting in my bag. I don't like it when my balls of yarn get caught on things in my bag and the loops on the outside of the ball all come off and tangle themselves. For socks, the solution is easy; knit toe up, and once the socks are long enough, stick the ball inside the sock. Balls don't get lost, yarn doesn't twist when you use the two circs, and balls stay intact in bag. Socks, therefore, are perfect travel knitting, in my opinion.

Lace, however, is not. First of all, I like to knit from an open skein whenever possible (no balling involved), and lace is one of the few projects where I tend to stay in just one spot and knit. It requires enough focus that it tends to be a project that stays in one place and only gets picked up when I have some time to devote to it. But sometimes I want to bring my lace with me.

This morning, I gave in and balled the end of the skein for the current lace. It was sad to have to do this, but the skein had been twisted from the beginning, and it was starting to tangle a little bit. Since I wanted to take it along anyway, I decided that a little pre-emptive balling was in order. But that left me with the ball unwinding in my bag problem.

It occurred to me that I should make some little drawstring bags for just such occasions. While the bag is probably a very good idea, whipping out the sewing machine when you're trying to go somewhere isn't really so brilliant. No, little sewn bags would require planning and foresight, which I appear to be lacking in this case. I sat back in my knitting chair to weigh the risks vs. benefits of carrying unprotected laceweight in a purse. And then my eyes fell on this:

Hmmm. 5 minutes, a couple of feet of yarn, and a crochet hook turned it into this:

It's a little bit hard to see, but my swatch is now a tiny little drawstring bag, just the right size to fit the ball of yarn and the lace. Perfect!

Maybe this will encourage me to make bigger swatches; each project could have its own little swatch bag. Maybe. (This is the part where the practical side of my brain needs a good elbow in the side for laughing so loud...)

Oh, I also wanted to say that I am reading your comments, though I haven't had time to respond as I usually do. I will try to get back on that. I don't know how Anne manages to answer each of her many, many comments (and usually in less than an hour, too!), but I am just not at that level of blogging sophistication yet. I do appreciate them, though.