Knitting origami

Nearly done with Lena, but with lots of finishing in front of me. Finishing the shoulders and collar feels like knitting origami.


I think I understand how the shoulder and sleeve are supposed to come together…think being the operative word here.


My hope is that once I start seaming, it will become more obvious. I’m also hoping to finish this today! I’m home from work, as the fibro is acting up. Blargh. About a week ago I started feeling more symptomatic, suspecting I had overdone it a bit with the exercise. Then the weather has been all over the place the last few days, and that’s a huge trigger for me. However, I’m not so bad that I’m fully relegated to bed, so I will have time to devote to Lena.

On the whole, I’m more energetic and able to be more active then I was; the key will be defining my new limits and sticking to them. For instance, no jogging. Ever. Both my hips and the fibro reallllllly didn’t like this 🙂

I’ve been quite monogamous with Lena, not even thinking about casting on another project. Part of the reason is curiosity. I am incredibly curious what this fabric, and the FO, will look like after all the finishing and a wet blocking are complete. I was also worried about running short of yarn, though now near the end I’m feeling confident I will have just enough. We all know that the faster you knit, the more yarn you will have, right?


Have you seen the new Knitty? Called Deep Fall, and the follower to First Fall. I like this idea of skipping a true summer issue in lieu of light and full-on fall issues. And there are some really nice patterns, and a good range of projects. There isn’t anything there I am stopping right this minute to cast on, but there are several patterns I have downloaded to have in the collection for possible future use. So many in fact, that I’m not going to list them all.

One pattern I like that isn’t getting much Ravelry love is Scarlow. Usually, I seem to be in line with Jane Q. Public Knitter, in terms of favorited patterns on Rav. However, I think I would make it much smaller all around, and the collar less ginormous. It just wouldn’t look right on me as written. I think it’s classic, but knitterly and a grand use of color. Which patterns do you like?


Lena, lena

For the last little spell, I’ve been focusing on Lena

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Lena has a very interesting and clever construction. It’s worked in one piece from the bottom up, and there are a pair of decreases and a set of short rows within each 8-row repeat within the pleated portion. The decreases are within the back pleat and lend a subtle A-line shape, and the short rows are to ensure the knitted-in ribbed bands don’t droop. Lena hangs longer in the back than the front because of this, too. Here I’ve just cast off for the armholes and must work up the sleeves before returning to the yoke.

I’m using Berroco’s Weekend, a 75/25 acrylic/cotton blend. I love knitting with wool and other animal fibers, but I occasionally find myself wishing there were more warm-season yarns in my stash. I picked up this yarn expressly for the purpose of making an all-season cardigan, well, mostly all-season. Those 100 degree days are off limits. Except 100 degree days inside a grocery store – where it is somehow 60 degrees. How do they do that?

I am a huge fan of Berroco, and almost believe they can do no wrong. Working with this yarn has been a little frustrating, however. I first worked up the pocket linings, per the pattern, and I am SO glad I did because I worked out a couple of yarn snafu’s. It is a little splitty and alot slinky.

The first issue is not a surprise given the yarn composition, but does mean that one is prone to having snagged stitches periodically. The second issue is more problematic. The slinkiness of the yarn causes yarn barf when pulling from the center of a yarn cake. So bad I had to give up on several yards of tightly knotted yarn. Henceforth, I pulled from the outside of the ball, and no problem.

Also, let’s say one wanted to drop down a row or three to fix a snagged stitch. The slinkiness makes it impossible to run the stitches back up with even tension. Believe me, I tried. In every instance, the reworked stitches were noticeably looser than the surrounding fabric. I solved this problem by ignoring snagged stitches and then going back and snipping the strand or two that missed the stitch. There weren’t that many, really. In the whole bottom portion, there were maybe 6-8 snags.

All that said, I really like the look and handle of this yarn. Despite the slinkiness, it isn’t shiny. And oh so soft, without any telltale acrylic weirdness. If it all works out, I think this may be one of my go-to sweaters. We will see!

FO: Hooded Guernsey

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Pattern: Hooded Guernsey by Debbie Bliss

Yarn: Ella Rae Classic, col. 103, 4.3 skeins (~940 yds)

Needles: US6 and US7

Size: 3 years

Mods: I knit the sleeves top down, and in the round, rather than flat and seamed on. I ended up picking up every other stitch (a 50% ratio) to get approximately the amount of stitches called for the top of the sleeve cap in the pattern. This is the lowest ratio I’ve ever used, but it worked out just fine! There were no directions for seaming in the pocket lining, or the pocket edgings. Not that this isn’t obviously needed, but I thought it an odd omission. I used whip stitch for the pocket lining, and mattress stitch for the pocket edgings and hood.


I adore how this came out. It is exactly as it looked in my head, in this yarn. While all the bits and detailed seaming are a bit fiddly, I feel it’s completely worth it. This is a perfect little boy sweater – warm and functional, playful but with a touch of grown up style.

After looking at the pattern sizes and Ravelry, it was clear this pattern was quite oversized. In the end I selected the 3 year size, for a 4-year old. With the plan that it would still be oversized for him. Also, this size called for 1,235 yards of yarn. I could not imagine how a child’s sweater, even a hooded one, could use that much yarn. I went forward with my 1,100 yards of yarn, and in the end used about 940 yards.

This was the first time I’d used Ella Rae Classic, and I was very pleased. (Except for the 4 knots in one ball.) Although the put up is the same as Cascade 220, and the construction is the same, I felt the Ella Rae was slightly smoother and more lanolin-y. For certain items, this may be preferable, for others, a more rustic hand may be better. They are both fantastic yarns. It blocked like a dream, too, just like 220 would.

With this off my needles, I started one of my new cardi’s, Lena, commencing the Great Cardigan-Fest of 2010. Now in caps and coming to a blog near you.

Winding Party

In preparation for the great cardigan-fest of 2010, I had a winding party…





It was a quiet party, not raucous at all. I wound up four sweater’s worth of yarn. I had to take a break, and give my arm a rest, about halfway through! After winding this all up, I placed the yarn with the pattern and appropriate needles in a project bag, and stowed it away. I love the feeling of each of these projects waiting for me, the pre-planning already done.

I’ve finished up the hoodie for my great-nephew, just need to block. Interestingly, in one skein of the Ella Rae Classic, there were four knots. Four! And not a single one in the other three plus skeins I used. I was surprised when I came across the third knot, and positively astounded when the fourth one showed up. Seeing as there weren’t any in the other skeins, I am guessing/hoping this was a case of bad QC that happened to get through.

Continuing to feel pretty good. Little ups and down occasionally, but a vast improvement compared to before I started treatment. I’m working it on all fronts, a virtual arsenal of tools. Something I’ve discovered is that I was constantly breathing shallow, often with my shoulders up to my ears. I have found the practice of abdominal breathing to be very therapeutic, and I’m working on making it a habit, rather than the exception. Also, the med I am on is prescribed off-label for treatment of fibromyalgia as well. I figured if I got any benefit in that department it would be icing on the cake. And, to my pleasant surprise, my stamina and level of exercise tolerance is notably increased. This is a huge, huge deal. Imagine going from being lucky to do two 30 minute walks twice a week, to being able to do 45 minutes or more about every other day plus light yoga 2 or 3 times a week without a flare. Over the labor day weekend, 3 days for me, I walked a total of about 9.25 miles. This is the most I’ve been able to exercise since I first developed full-blown FMS symptoms, in 2004. I feel so much more able, physically, which does wonders for my head too.

Looking forward to this weekend – starting a new project or two, enjoying the blissfully perfect weather (low 80s anyone), maybe a little cooking or baking. September is usually among the hottest months in southern California, and after a couple of brief heat waves, we are back to unseasonably cool weather. I wore a sweater, wool socks and boots to work one day this week! I just want to get out and soak it up. With sunscreen, of course 🙂

Also, it’s hard to believe it’s been nine years.

Happy Labor Day

Hope everyone in the US enjoyed a wonderful long weekend, or, if not, had a fantastic weekend despite!

I had Monday off, and started it like this:


A pot of half-caf tea with Tupelo honey (a birthday gift), knitting, and, most importantly, the king of the castle (otherwise known as Topaz). After a brief heat wave, temps have cooled down considerably, and I took full advantage. I think I was outside of 6 or 7 hours yesterday, between one thing and another.

Mainly working on the hoodie…


I’ve motored past the sleeves now, and should have a FO soon! It’s difficult to capture in pictures, but this colorway is heathered with denim blue. It really shows in certain light – I love it.

Started a Go Vest from Pickles, in double stranded SWTC Optimum DK.


Bring on the royal purple. I got an incredibly slow and faulty start on this project. This is knit in a fisherman’s rib, and you knit into the row below on alternate stitches. I’ve never done this, and I noticed that the stitch above would unravel. I knit a few rows and it just didn’t look right. It sat for a couple of weeks…I was sure that couldn’t be right and yet I couldn’t see how else you would knit “into the stitch below”. Finally thought to check the internets (duh). And sure enough, that’s what you do. I had to knit several rows before the pattern started to emerge, but at least I was on the right track.

Then I noticed it was a bit too large. Doh! Rather than ripping back, I went down a needle size, and when that didn’t make a big enough difference, I inserted some decreases. I first did this at the waist (shown above), but decided it looked sloppy. I tinked back, and decided to insert decreases at the edge of the garter band. I should end up of with a bit of an A-line, rather than straight, which is just fine with me. It’s always the projects you think will be easy and fast that go awry, huh?

Good stuff

Lots of good stuff coming my days these days.

First, thank you so much for all the empathetic and encouraging comments on my last post! I am on some meds that are helping with no real side effects, I am incredibly lucky for that, and truly feel that I am making progress in a positive direction.

More good stuff in the mail…

I have had minimal stash enhancement the past couple of years, a skein here and there, a couple sweater quantities but nothing just out and out luxurious. Until now. In a case of kismet, Knitbot Hannah was doing a spot of destashing, including 10 skeins of The Fibre Company Khroma dk (sadly discontinued).

I say kismet because it happens I worked up a pair of Toast in this very yarn, in this very color (Aegean), and I was daydreaming at the time that a sweater out of this yarn would be something. Really something. Thing the second, I did not have a perfect stash yarn to make Manu, and had decided I was going to splurge to get an extra special (read luxurious) yarn for this extra special pattern.

When I saw the Khroma on Hannah’s destash page, I literally said “ohhhhhhhh”. Out loud. And then I realized it may be the right gauge, and also a fantastic fiber blend and color, for Manu. A little Ravelry check. Yup. I hesitated. But only for a second.


Mama’s got a new pair of shoes. Erm. Yarn. You know what I mean. Bringing back the joy of knitting, one fabulous skein at a time! Hannah dropped in the mail the same day, and it was wrapped in tissue paper too.

I’ve got to finish the couple bigger items on my needles first, at a minimum, before I start Manu. I may even save this until the cooler months, to fully get the cozy , wintertime, luxury yarn knitting experience.

Other good mail stuff, I nabbed a Ravelry animal parade tote, which I had wanted for a while but just never got around to ordering.


It was put to good use today on a foray into the Angeles National Forest for a drive, picnic and general chilling out for my birthday, today 🙂 Everything was perfect, and we found a lovely secluded picnic area without another soul to be found. And after we stopped for gelato. Yum.

Swatch It

Knitting continues apace on the hoodie…


It all looks good now, but there was a snafu. A very stupid snafu. About the middle of last week I was motoring along on the pocket lining, imagining having the whole front done and seamed to the back by the weekend. I got the the point of joining the lining to the pocket front, and realized I had twisted the lining fabric at the beginning. Riiiiip!

I got started again, but wasn’t feeling the same about it. I needed a diversion. Come the weekend, I went swatch crazy.


From the top, clockwise, Berroco Weekend for Lena by Cocoknits, Classic Elite Lush for an Aryn Tunic Cardi by Melissa Wehrle, Dream in Color Classy for Metro by Connie Chen Chinchio, and Black Water Abbey 2-ply worsted for Red Oak by Julia Trice.

This is actually six swatches, as two were reknit with a different needle size. But, I did manage to get gauge on all yarns and I love the fabric for each project. All different, but lovely. A wonderful variety.

Also, I apparently am cardigan crazy. But we knew that. I think cardigans and coats are my absolute favorite knits. Favorite to make and favorite to wear. All of these plus the two sweaters, and little boy sweater, I have on the needles. That’s alot of knitting. Will it all happen? Time will tell.

Normally about this time of year I am planning my holiday knitting. However, I have decided to take this year off. I certainly will find myself making some gifties, but I am not going for broke like I have the last several years. In part, this is to have one less (big) thing to worry about. I need less worry.

For all of this year, and some of last year, I have been struggling with anxiety. Enough to really put a cramp in my life. I realize now I have been having anxiety on and off, a low simmer, for some time. I had my first panic attack just shy of three years ago. I thought, until very recently, that it was a bad asthma attack. Nope…with more knowledge and hindsight, it was a full blown panic attack. Fortunately, I’ve never had another one as bad as that. Now I have a name (Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder), and treatment, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I come out with this now because I don’t want this blog to only be the happy shiny side of my life. This is currently a huge part of my life, and I don’t want to feel I am hiding it. I don’t mind sharing it. Because there may be others who are going through similar struggles. I’ve learned, sadly, how incredibly common clinical anxiety is. So many have the same struggles.

Part of my struggle is ennui. To varying degrees, I’ve had persistent ennui about knitting, about making, for a good long time. I just wasn’t getting the same satisfaction from it. This weekend, when I was working on the swatches, I felt some of the old excitement, the anticipation. It was a high point – and made me certain that I could get back to the old me.

So, for the upcoming holiday season, I am going to relieve myself of a laundry list of knitted gifts. While in the past this challenge felt good, a joy, right now I sense it would feel like a burden. And I am going to knit cardigans.