Archive for July, 2015

Talented Friends

This coming weekend two of my friends are opening in two different plays in Baltimore.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here before that years ago I was occasionally active in community theater, in several roles.  I’ve been stage-mom several times.  I’ve worked as stage manager (well, technically), lightboards, stage mom, santa-stripper, you name it.  I’ve made connections in  the OutOftheBlackBox Theatre and the Rude Mechanicals.  As it happens, I didn’t meet either of these particular friends through my own community theater connections, I guess it’s more or less a ‘small world’ sort of thing.

One of them is playing Motormouth Mabellle in the Purple Light Theatre Company’s production of Hairspray (note to self – go back and update that link when it’s no longer the ‘current production’).  The other is playing Falstaff in the Baltimore Shakespears Factory’s all female production of Henry IV, Part One.  I’m very excited for both of them, and can’t wait to watch them perform.

Now, I’ve seen Hairspray before, both the original film and the movie musical version.  I have to admit, though, that I’ve never actually seen Henry IV.  So I did what any supportive friend would do:

I tracked down the Chop Bard episodes dedicated to the play.

Podcast Love

Of course, then I realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve given some link love to podcasts I listen to.  So here are some quality podcasts, which are independently produced and still small enough that they might actually be helped by a little old fashioned name checking…

Chop Bard: Reminding us again and again that Shakespeare is not literature.  They’re plays, and they’re fun, not scary.  I found it through Craftlit.

Craftlit: Heather does deal with actual literature, and it’s also fun, not scary.  Also crafts.  I don’t remember how I actually came across this one, but I’ve been listening to her (and occasionally corresponding) for so long that I feel as though I actually know her.

Escape Artists Podcasts:  I started listening to Escape Pod waaaay back.  I mean before iTunes was a thing way back.  Great science fiction stories for fans, a pro-paying market for writers.  Now it’s been joined by Pseudopod and Podcastle, which do the same  things for horror and fantasy literature respectively.

The Happiness Patrol: Doctor Who fancast.  Often rude, crude and socially unacceptable.  Always fun.

My History Can Beat Up Your Politics:  We don’t have to be doomed to repeat it…

Knitting Pipeline: Knitting, nature, bagpipes, who could ask for anything more?

Prometheus Radio Theatre: Steve Wilson went to high school with my husband, so I’ve heard some interesting back story about the Traveller campaign where some of the Arbiters characters came from initially.  They’d be more than worth listening to even if I had not, though.

So how about you?  Any particular, non professionally backed, podcasts which could benefit from a little bit of shout-out love?  Any podcasts (or obscure procasts) you think I might enjoy?  I’d appreciate hearing about them, so please do comment.

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Now it can be Told

I have finished my “secret” project, and gifted it to my friend.


This is a Snatchel.  It’s a delightfully ‘naughty’ project from the Anticraft, which is always full of delightfully naughty.  I made it for a friend who is recovering from a hysterectomy, and put a bottle of Fireball, because, hey, everyone needs fireball.  I think she’ll be using it for a dicebag (the snatchel, not the Fireball).

Other FOs and WiPs

I finished the second Artful Infinity scarf, and have given it to my younger daughter.  She absolutely rocks it (as she does everything she wears).

Artful Infinity PhotobombThe not so goatty bag is coming along nicely (if slowly).  It really doesn’t look much different than the last picture I posted of it, but  I’m having fun playing mix and match with the motifs.

Mont Royal toesMy only other WiP right now is the Mont Royal socks. I’m playing around with my usual asymmetric toes.  Rather than my usual plan of increasing on both sides for the first few, then switching to only increasing on the outside of the socks, I’ve staggered it.  So the first few increases are on both sides of the sock, then the next few increases alternate between increasing on both sides and increasing on the outside only, then the final few are on the outside only.  I think it looks fine, and the CoBaSi yarn gives it a very crisp feel.

You can’t really tell from the picture, but I’ve just begun the chart. This is my first project using my new Knit PIcks magnetic chart board, and it will be the first one I use my new KnitPicks sock blockers with as well.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the Red Heart giveaway from Happily Hooked, or the Yarn Crush box from the Dainty Fawn blog.  No new giveaways today.

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Sometimes it works out that the afterthought project, the ‘I guess I’ll do this project just because I have to reduce my stash’, is the wild success of the season.  That’s what happened with the Artful Infinity Scarf turned out to be.

It’s a super easy project.  It’s attractive, in it’s own funky/scary way, and it shows off a yarn which might otherwise take over whatever it was made into…Artful Infinity 1and, apparently, it’s very stylish.  So stylish, in fact, that both girls wanted it for their own, which surprised me.  Honestly, I wanted this one for my own.

Fortunately, it’s a quick, easy crochet project, I have lots of yarn in my stash, and if I don’t use it to make these little babies it’ll be sitting in my stash for years, with me using up a few yards here and there to add a ‘pop of color’ to an otherwise dull project.

Steek Bait

Infinity 1I very rarely remake patterns.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it back to back before.  Certainly not with the same yarn.  This is such a quick project, though, that I’m not finding it problematic at all.

Here’s the first one, modeled by Abby (my eldest).

Looking at the picture, I’m not sure it solves the clown barf/muppet pelt problem, but it’s fun, she seems to like it, and her sister (who is actually fashion conscious) seems to like it as well.    So I guess it’s a win.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the Red Heart package from B Hooked.   I entered a Rafflecopter drawing for a box of goodies from Yarn Crush (23 July).

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The Sock Situation

(apology for the premature post…   edited and reposted)

As of this spring I had six pairs of wearable hand knit socks, plus one pair (my first) which was made from loosely spun merino and is… well,..  still comfy bed socks.  Then the summer hit, and it was quickly obvious that I needed a whole second batch for the warmer months.

So I knit the Picotty (which is done).


Despite all the yarn issues I had, I think the colors are just beautiful. Now I’ve got to see if I can get used to the mesh inside shoes…

Inspiration for Next Socks

Argyle Grass

Argyle grass? Who knew?


So, avoid the wool.  Cotton is good, but not so springy as wool…  I was thinking of a wool-cotton blend in fingering, which isn’t so easy to find. But I did find this:

CoBaSiCobasi (by Hikoo), in Apple Green.  It’s COtton BAmboo SIlk and elastic.  The color works for sundrenched, freshly mown grass.  I really wanted a bright sunny green for the Mont Royal socks, so now they’ve been bumped up in the queue.

Yes, I know, yarn diet broken.   I was going to knit from stash until I got the yarn for my big sweater projects, but I’ve already ordered the cotton for one of them, so that’s all right, right?  Besides, I can’t make it all the way through the summer on one pair of hand knit socks, can I?  Not when I’ve been wearing the wool ones almost constantly for the rest of the year.

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!Surprise! Plans Change

Works in Progress

Almost as soon as I posted “Doing the Numbers (part 2)” I realized that I’d forgotten an important one.  The number of stitches for the goat motif was, in fact, pretty close to the number of stitches in the first skein of yarn.

Goatless Bag colorworkSomehow I must have thought that having two skeins of yarn involved would mean it was OK.  Since it’s stranded, and the background color will be used on all rows, I’d be cutting it too fine.  Not a big problem, I’ve found some lovely abstract motifs in the same book, they’re just smaller.

it’s going to look fantastic.

The Picotty is coming along fairly well.  I think it’s going to work, but I have two more rounds of crochet ribbing with splitty yarn, so I’m doing a bit at a time, even though I’m almost done.  I’ve really slowed down on it, because I was doing it in my ‘brainless knitting’ time, and the splittiness means it needs more concentration than that.

New Projects

So I started a new ‘brainless’ project.  Tamara Kelly’s Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf, using some recycled sari silk yarn I got on eBay some time ago.  It seems like the perfect pattern to handle the ‘clown barf’ problem and show off the yarn.

Artful Infinity wip

Modeled by my cat Comet, who decided that my photo surface was his…

I was planning on just having four WIPs, really, but I actually found the perfect recipient for a knitted gift I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  I’ll post pics, and details, at a later time, but the project uses bits of three or four yarns from my stash and one skein of novelty yarn which I’ll have to go hunting for.  Yes, I know, yarn diet and all, but I’ve already ordered the cotton yarn for one of the ‘big projects’ I wasn’t going to buy any more yarn before I got…  and I’m not going to need the novelty skein until the end, so that’s OK, right?

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Goat Bag

I’ve reknit the base of the bag, this time as a simple 60 x 38 rectangle.  That’s 2280 stitches.  Then I picked up stitches picked up stitchesaround the two short edges, and knit off the provisional cast on.  Obviously picking up edge stitches changes the direction of the knitting, and there is a clear demarcation.This is to be expected.

OGoat Bag Bottomn the other hand, I just got lazy with my provisional cast on, and didn’t worry too much about how it would look.  You can see the awkward line of stitches towards the bottom of the photograph to the left.

I considered frogging it back to the cast on yet again, but decided against it.  It’s The bottom to side transition on the long sides won’t match each other precisely, and the short side transition will be something else again, but given that this is going to be felted, and that the problem area is not going to be in an often viewed area of the bag, I’m not terribly bothered.  It’s something to remember for the next time, though.


I’ve selected a couple of motifs from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 150 Scandinavian Motifs to work into this bag.  I have a total of 196 stitches in the circumference (slightly more than I should have if I were working the ‘ideal’ pick up ratio of 3/2, but that’s fine).   I worked out the prime factors of this, not because I’m a numbers geek* but because I need it to be able to work out the motifs I’ll be using.  It turns out that 196 is 2 x 2 x 7 x 7.

The first motif I used was a simple transition between the brown and gold-brown colors.  I knit five rounds of brown by which time I was definitely starting to run low.  If I’d be really  clever about it I would have weighed the remnants of the brown, but I wasn’t, so I’ll just have to guess at the end point.    The next round I knit one stitch of gold and six of brown, remembering to ‘catch’ the gold every fourth stitch  This should be enough to keep the floats from felting funny (or so my reading tells me.. we’ll see).  The next round I increased this to three gold stitches (centered around the one stitch) and four brown, no wrapping required.  The third round of the transition I knit five gold stitches (catching the brown in the third stitch) and two brown.  Then I cut the brown, and now I’m working in a gold background.

After three or five rounds I’ll start with the goat motif.  It’s 21 stitches long, so I’ll have  to add seven plain stitches between goats.

I’ve already picked out a 13 stitch flying bird pattern (for Flying Goat Farm, right?), which will fit beautifully.  I’ll have it flying above the goat’s back, so it will integrate into the top of the pattern without overlapping the colorwork.  That leave another black space, lower down in the pattern, which is about 18 x 4 stitches.  I’ll look for an abstract or flower motif to fill in that space, and I’m good to go.  I’ll have 7 repeats of a 28 stitch pattern.

This is going to be fun!



* OK, yes, I am a numbers geek, and that’s the kind of thing I do, but it’s also really handy to have in this case.

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It Feels like I’m Slowing Down

The Belle Greene was a surprisingly long project.  It took about a month to knit the body of the shawl, then three times that to work the beaded border.  So now I’ve only got two works in progress, and they are both a bit bogged (but more on them later).

I may feel like it’s a slog, but the fact is, I’ve started eleven projects since I cast on the shawl, and I’ve finished eight of them.  Two projects a month isn’t really dragging along.  When I think about it, I’m actually pretty pleased with myself.

Problems With the WIPs

I think what’s irritating me is is that the two projects I’ve got left have both got their own issues.  Well, one has an issue, for the other it’s more like a hiccup.

I’m just about done with the heel of the second picotty sock.  I’ve had to frog a bit (not a biggie) and the TOFUtsies yarn just frayed on me (much more annoying).  I’m not going to be looking for more of this yarn when the project is done.   Even that’s not the issue.  The issue is that the pattern calls for a larger crochet hook for the cuff, and I don’t have the right size.  I could jump three hook sizes, stick with the one I have, or go out and buy a new one.  I’m thinking I’ll try it with what I have on hand first, and if it doesn’t work I can certainly spring for a larger hook, but it’s a bit frustrating, and it does dampen my enthusiasm for the project.

The hiccup is with the Goat Bag.   There’s nothing wrong with the pattern I chose, I just realized I’d be playing Yarn Chicken with it, and I’m not in the mood.  There’s 100 stitches and 60 rows in the ‘base’ (40% of that is pocket).  When I was a third of the way done (about 2000 stitches) I looked at the dent in the yarn ball, and realized it was time for plan B.  So I frogged it all back, cast on 60 stitches (provisionally) and started to knit back.  If I knit 37 rows I’ll have (more or less) a golden rectangle.

What to Cast On Next

So here I am, two projects, four project bags, one yarn diet. It does seem like such a shame to keep both those bags empty. One empty bag feels like I’ve got potential to start a new project.  Two empty bags and I start to feel like I’m lagging behind.

Fortunately, I’ve got some great projects in my Ravelry queue, some challenging and some simple.  I’m probably going to start a new ‘no brain’ project fairly soon.  Here are some of the things I’m thinking about.  There’s a ‘Shawl for the Fall’ group in Ravelry which hosts a shawl knit along every year in August, so I’m going to hold back at least one shawl for that.

Tiger Lilly Swans IslandThis is Swans Island fingering in the Tiger Lilly colorway.  I bought this environmentally minded yarn at an online going out of business sale several months back. I’m thinking that this would look gorgeous in Very Busy Monkey’s Tesla shawl.


BOTI yarnI knit a Bigger on the Inside shawl before, then lost it.  At some point I will definitely replace it, using this yarn from Ashton Studios (which I got at Sheep and Wool last May).

The black has some pretty sparkly fibers in it, and will be awesome for the ‘vortex lace’ section and possibly the ribbed border as well.  The blue will be for the TARDIS lace section, although I think I will use the ‘Daleks and TARDIS’ variation.


sockbagI have a lot of random fingering weight remnants, and a great pattern called Octopush.  It’s a really neat toy.

I’m pretty sure it’s both a ‘mindless’ project and an ‘endless’ project.  I know I want to do it some time, and it really looks like I have enough yardage in enough different colors to make it work.

zombieyarnThis is another really fun yarn from Bohemia Fibers.  It’s their ‘Potluck Zombie Lace’ – a one of a kind variegated colorway which I found while I was looking for the sock yarn bag.

I had definitely remembered this as more of a ‘clown barf’ colorway, but it’s less vibrant than that.  It might work for a Citron shawl.

Of course, I do have some truly clown barf yarn – it’s recycled sari silk.  Amazingly there’s a pattern called “Artful Infinity Scarf” by Tamara Kelly which could make that work.

I’ve got a lot of beautiful yarn in my stash, but these are the ones I’m pretty sure what to knit with.  Shawls and scarves, so that might be a bit of a rut, but with one skein… I’ll let you know when I settle on the next project.

In Other Blogs

I never heard of Mad Man Knitting; until his recent slashdotting exposure on various mainstream outlets got picked up on Ravelry.  I picked up a copy of his patterns on Craftsy, and may buy his novel at some future time.  He seems like a good person, he’s had more than his share of bad luck, and who wouldn’t love “The Teddy Bear that Saved Me”?

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a giveaway for a Red Heart Swag Bag sponsored by B Hooked (15 July) and another Mooglyblog giveaway, this time for a Stitchen Stacy crochet hook (27 July)

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All Blocked Out

Project Completed

At the end of April I posted about my plans to wire block the Belle Greene shawl once it was finished.  Now it’s two months later and the shawl is done.

Honestly, I do like the way it looks right off the needles.

Belle Greene curveThe lace has a lovely organic look, and the back of the shawl has a really pretty curve.  It’s enjoyable as is, but I decided I want the more classic look for this, with the open lace and the straight back.   The way to get that is to block it, and I had no intention of pinning out each and every point in the border.

Belle Greene soakingSo I soaked it first, then threaded the wires through the garter stitches and the points.

Belle Greene garter wireThen I did the same thing with each of the individual points – you’ll notice there are two different weights of wires here.  The curve was just a bit too long for two of the heavier wires, but using a third seemed overkill.

Belle Greene point wireSo I stretched out the whole shawl until I was happy with it.

Belle Greene blocking Yes, if you look very closely and critically you can see it’s not perfect.  That’s OK.   I’m still the kind of person who feels I deserve a pat on the back just for doing all the finishing stuff at all…    I can always re-block the shawl if it starts to bug me…  Maybe I’ll do that before next years Sheep and Wool, because I expect them to notice all the little imperfections.

As soon as it was blocked I wore it to trivia.  It must have brought me luck, because I got the final question, and propelled our team to victory!  Here I am with the shawl (and ‘photobombed’ by my friend Colleen)

Belle Greene worn

I have to say, when I’m wearing it I don’t notice any of those imperfections at all…

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the ‘yarn chicken’ giveaway from PDX Knitteratti.  No new giveaways this time.

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  Status of Current Projects

Goat Bag cast on


After studying the swatch, I’ve decided that 4.5 mm needles work just fine for a bag.  I’ll be knitting a No-Sew Felted Bag by Invisible Insanity (she had documented it on her blog, but that seems to be no more).  It’s an interesting design, one with end tabs

which become pocket flaps.  Rather than using a combination knitted on/crochet provisional cast on I’m just using a knitted on cast on, but I worked it over two needles held together for the provisional portion (the second one being a 3.25mm).  I’ve also got two whales of reverse stockinette bordering the flaps, to make it easier to pick up the bag body later on.

Expect future posts which show this better, along with other modifications as I get to them.  The body of the bag is straight stockinet

te, so I’ll be adding in some colorwork from 150 Scandinavian Motifs to give it some action.

picotty with heel


The picotty socks are my current relaxing project. Something I can pick up and work on when I’m tired or distracted, but still want something to keep my hands busy.

I’m working them in tandem, so when I finished the foot on the first sock I switched to the second.  I’m just in the middle of the heel of the second sock.  It’s sort of fun to see how the crochet version of the short row works.

Belle Greene final stretch


I’m coming down to the stretch on the Belle Greene shawl.  There are only a few more inches of the beaded border to knit on, then it’s down to the wire…  I mean, time to break in the new blocking wire set.  Once that’s done I’ll have to track down a black light and see if I can get it to really glow.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I won the Mont Royal sock pattern from Snapdragon crafts.  These are beautiful,  and I can’t help remembering the last time I was in Montreal*.  I’ll have to decide whether I want to do these in wool or in cotton, but they would look amazing in spring green.

I entered PDX Knitteratti’s ‘yarn chicken’ giveaway for a random element of her stash.  No end date posted, but it will be soon.

Happy 4th

That’s it for now.  I’m hoping that the rain is done and we can enjoy our cookout this afternoon.  This year I’m contributing BBQ spareribs, squash, cherries and blueberries, all from local farms.  I hope all of my countrymen enjoy a beautiful and fun holiday.

* We went to Mont Royal to scatter my great aunt’s ashes.  There is a surreal and funny story which goes along with that.

The family didn’t have the permits to do this, it was probably not legal at all, but it really seemed the best way to say goodbye. So we went up there with the ashes, and said our goodbyes, and cast the ashes into the wind… which blew the ashes back into our faces.  It also blew the ashes into what had looked like an abandoned car, but then two rather confused heads bobbed up…  I think we had interrupted something romantic and/or clandestine.   My cousin, David, is a film writer, and I’m sure this scene will make it into something or other, sooner or later, because it totally fits his sense of the perverse.

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Starting where the last post left off…

I cast on 20 stitched on US size 9 (5.5mm) needles. That’s a huge size for fingering weight yarn, but felting/fulling always starts on large needles for the yarn.  Three rows of garter, three stitch garter border on each side, 10 rows stockinette, 3 rows garter. Switch to US size 8 (5.0 mm) needles and 3 rows garter, 10 rows stockinette, 3 rows garter, then did the same again with US size 7 (4.5 mm) needles and bound off.

By this point, the only thing I’m sure of is that the yarn is gorgeous, so the swatch has already let me know that I can make a shawl out if it even if I don’t like the felted fabric for a bag.  Except that mohair is really scratchy…

Doing the Math

So I took the swatch and my “Knit Check” and measured gauge.  I measured in a couple of different places on each stockinette band, so I’m fairly confident of my results.

FGF swatch

Unfelted Swatch
needle size stockinette width stockinette height stitch gauge row gauge
US 9 3.625″ 1.75″ 14 st/4″ 20 rows/4″
US 8 3.5″ 1.625″ 16 st/4″ 22 rows/4″
US 7 3.25″ 1.5″  17 st/4″ 24 rows/4″

Looking at the chart – the math just doesn’t work out.  I know that each stockinette section is 14 stitches wide and 10 rows tall, so the counted and calculated gauges don’t match up.  Obviously I have a measuring problem of some sort, I’ll just try to be as consistent as I can and hope for the best.

Then I found a tutorial about hand felting, because I’d been advised that mohair doesn’t do well in a machine, especially when it’s thin.

Then I felted my swatch.  Note to self: mohair felts fast!  I didn’t time it, but I probably should have.  I stopped the scrubbing while I could still make out the stitch definition, because I want to be able to compare before and after.  I might make my bag a little bit bigger than the measurements require, so that I can just keep going if I chose to at the time.Felted FGF swatch


Felted Swatch
needle size stockinette width stockinette height stitch gauge row gauge
US 9 3.125″ 1.625″ 20 st/4″ 24 rows/4″
US 8 2.5″ 1.625″ 25 st/4″ 26 rows/4″
US 7  2.5″  1.375″ 24 st/4″ 26 rows/4″

Once again the numbers seem a bit off.  Maybe it has to do with how I blocked the swatch, or how I pulled at different sections while felting it.  In addition, even though I didn’t felt completely, it’s kind of hard to count the fulled stitches.  Clearly there’s some leeway as far as how the fabric felts.  It does seem to shrink more in width than in height, which means I don’t have to worry about a repeat of the Seaglass tote (beautiful, but weirdly squat).

Now to look for colorwork patterns I like…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Expression Fiber Arts June giveaway, the Ergo crochet hooks or Beaded Lace Knitting book from Mooglyblog or the  scissors fob from Lisa Bogart.  I entered her July giveaway for a copy of Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders (31 July) and a sock pattern giveaway from Snapdragon Crafts (3 July)

Doing the Math (again)

I’ve been tracking the giveaways I’ve entered since last April.  According to my spreadsheet, I’ve entered 79 giveaways and won three of them (stitch markers and patterns).  That’s almost a 4% win rate.  Not bad at all.

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