September 29, 2005


Knitted up the toe for the first Friday Harbor sock this morning and am wearing it as I write this. It fits comfortably. In addition to the other revisions I made, this pattern called for a rounded toe, but I made a flat toe, which I think is more comfortable.

Nancy Bush has an extended discussion on round toes, star toes, flat toes, etcetera, in her new book, Knitting Vintage Socks.

Posted by Karen at 09:19 AM | Comments (7)

September 28, 2005


In the I-Get-by-with-a-Little-Help-from-my-Friends Department, I would like to thank Jewel for all her recent behind-the-scenes work in designing the new Ideaphoria banner and button. I've been blogging on Ideaphoria for a year as of this month, and I've been wanting something spiffier than the oh-so-plain-but-functional banner I had previously. A kindred spirit in her devotion to Kidsilk Haze, Jewel collaborated with me and made it happen -- so, a BIG THANK YOU!

Knitting-wise: A few rounds more, and I'll have completed Friday Harbor sock #1. The knit-along deadline is Sept. 30, at which point we'll move along to another pattern from Knitting on the Road. I may not get the pair finished by Sept. 30, but I got a late start, having just discovered the knit-along, and I will complete the pair as quickly as I'm able. (At 50 sts per round, these are a quick knit, remember?)

I've also been trying to build momentum for Level II by getting 2 rounds done each day on my vest. And I'm working on the Wrapped in Tradition poncho whenever I need a change of pace (I'm on point 14 of the 20 points required for the lower lace edging).

Posted by Karen at 11:32 AM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2005


Conversation chez Campbell, last Friday night:

Jennie, running downstairs toward me: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I wanna knit!

Me: Okay -- what would you like to knit?

Jennie: I want to knit a scarf! Because the weather is getting colder and I want something warm to put around my neck. [Shrugs her shoulders up around her ears.] Because I went to the mall to look at scarves, and all they had was acrylic. I want some warm wool. Can I get some yarn from you?

(Love the sensibilities of discriminating teen consumer here, don't you? No acrylic for this girl.)

So first we looked through my stash, and she told me the colors she wanted were bright pink, blue, and green. And purple. And yellow. And while I have a vast personal stash, I couldn't put together the right set of yarns that were all wool and were all the same weight of yarn in those called-for colors.

So then we went shopping in the Two Swans cupboards. She shunned the Kidsilk Haze! While I tried to persuade her that the Felted Tweed and the Kid Classic would be the softest against her neck, what she went for was Rowan Scottish Tweed DK in Brilliant Pink, Lavender, Skye (blue), Thistle (dark purple), Apple (green) -- and one last color that she fell in love with, Herring. Herring is a medium shade of gray made very complex by being heathered with yellow, blue, green, purple -- in short, every color that she wanted to use in her striped scarf is incorporated into the heathering in this gray yarn. She also chose Jamieson's Shetland Double Knitting in the color Buttercup, because she wanted bright yellow.

And she sat down Friday evening and cast on for a garter stitch scarf in "random stripes:"

Jscarf 003.jpg

Don't you feel giddy like this when starting a new project?

Jennie started with Skye. (Light blue is her favorite color.) I told her she was brave to go for random stripes -- I would find it very hard to be random.

She knitted over the weekend, and most of the day yesterday when she was recuperating from whatever intestinal ailment it was that was bothering her. By last evening, she announced that the scarf was half as long as she wanted it to be.

Here's how it looks this morning:

Jscarf 005.jpg

And, not to leave DD#2 out of the limelight -- she has her own reason to feel giddy:

Last night, the results of the middle school ASB elections came in! She's now, officially, Senator Campbell. It all comes from having a short, snappy campaign speech whose slogan was: Don't be chicken, use your noodle, vote for me.

Posted by Karen at 09:32 AM | Comments (8)

September 26, 2005


What is it about waking up at 3:00 AM to the sounds of DD#1 barfing in the bathroom that reminds me that I need to put money on DD#2's school lunch account? And why, when DD#1 needs to throw up in the middle of the night, must she come downstairs and throw up in the bathroom nearest where Scott and I are sleeping?

So, after settling Jennie back into bed, in the wee small hours of the morning, I went to the computer to put money on Allegra's school lunch account. (For those of you reading this who don't have kids in school in these days of wondrous technology, let me tell you that kids don't get beat up for their lunch money any more. Parents put money on their kid's account, which they can do via a secure site on the internet using a credit card, or by taking cash or check directly to the school.) Only, when I got to the site, it turned out that I needed her student ID number to do that, which I didn't have at hand, and didn't want to disturb her to ask her for it since she was the one member of the household who managed to sleep peacefully through her sister's barfing.

In front of Allegra's school, there's this bank of trees that's turned color already -- I love this yellow against the blue sky, and the yellow leaves like confetti on the green grass:

fallcolor 001.jpg

So, at 3:00 AM, I cruised through instead, which lately seems to be my favorite thing to do when I have insomnia. Can it really have been 17 weeks since I last posted an update about my progress on Level II of the Master Knitter program?

And what is it about those wee small hours of the morning that fire me up with all these plans for what I'm going to accomplish? Every morning I get up and think, I'm going to tackle this and this and this, and by about 3:00 in the afternoon I realize the day is waning and some of those to-do items are going to have to wait for another day. So there I was, clicking on various and sundry goals on, thinking, Yeah, I could lose 10 pounds! Yeah, I could declutter my house! Write the great American novel -- why not?

What I meant to be doing at 3:00 AM was knitting more on the Friday Harbor sock #1, which is about halfway finished down the foot (although this picture doesn't really show that fact that well):

fallcolor 002.jpg

I've never knitted socks on two circulars before. In fact, I started this sock on dpn's, as usual. But when working the heel, I almost always slip the instep stitches onto a circular and use that as a stitch holder, and when I did that on this sock, I thought, What the heck? And continued on with two circulars. I am liking the two-circulars method, as it seems less prone to laddering, seems a little more efficient (fewer needles to deal with), and I haven't accidentally dropped a circular yet!

How to attract cats:

(1) Put on sock half-knit with two circulars.
(2) Walk around the house, and even outside, wearing this sock, trailing not only the two circulars, the tick-tick-tick of which will get the cats's attention, but also trailing the cast-on tail of yarn.
(3) Lead cats around as they attempt to catch the tail of yarn.

Posted by Karen at 09:10 AM | Comments (4)

September 21, 2005


Yesterday presented me with my opportunity for blog photo revenge -- I went to that Knitting Knut Abby's house and took her picture in order to post it on my blog:
Abby 002.jpg
She's wearing on her hand her first Fair Isle project ever, the Floral Fair Isle gloves that the Feral Knitters are doing as a knit-along. I'm not sure if anyone else in the Ferals group has actually started their gloves. I know last Monday night when the Ferals met, Beth was winding her yarn for hers. I've pulled out yarn for mine, but haven't gotten around to casting on, yet.

Abby hopes to come to a Ferals meeting some day but because of the distance (she lives far away in Pierce County) hasn't been able to join us yet. But I applaud her enthusiasm for getting into this knit-along. The rest of us Ferals have some catching up to do.

Yesterday, while Abby cast on and knitted the ribbing for Glove #2, I knitted some on my Friday Harbor sock and also on my Wrapped in Tradition Poncho. I've completed 10 points of the lower lace border on this poncho -- that's 10 points out of 20, so I'm halfway finished with this edging. So we can officially say that I've finished the back edging . . . or is it the front?


Posted by Karen at 12:22 PM | Comments (4)

September 20, 2005


We're getting ready for the middle school ASB elections around here. My kids love the movie Napoleon Dynamite (although I confess I don't quite get it, myself). A certain twelve-year-old here was inspired by the movie to make herself a T-shirt for her campaign:

asballegra 002.jpg

It was a learning experience.

asballegra 001.jpg

Doesn't this instill in you more confidence for this candidate?

In knitting news, I worked three rounds (count 'em, three!) on my Level II vest while at the Ferals meeting last night. I'm knitting a very simple Fair Isle design, using an allover stitch pattern from Sheila McGregor's book. I kept losing my place last night, trying to keep up with the Feral conversation and keep all my post-it notes on the chart in the right place at the right time. One of these days I'm going to have to copy out the stitch pattern onto graph paper (instead of working directly from the pages in the book); that would make things just so much easier.

Posted by Karen at 10:17 AM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2005


Who was I to be skeptical that a sock only 50 sts around might be too small?
FridayHarbor 004.jpg
The garter stitch beginning to the wavy cuff is nicely stretchy. The front half of the sock is a lace panel down the front of the leg and instep; the back half of the sock is ribbing.
I've tinkered with Nancy Bush's chart --

* for the cuff, the chart calls for another 10 rows, knitting those double-decreases that form the shells where you had the lace ladders before, and vice versa. That just seemed too visually clunky for me.

* I've changed the ribbing to 3x2 so that the centers of the 3 knits line up with the centered double-decreases and the centers of the lace ladders. (This required me to add one stitch to the round, so my sock is 51 sts.)

* I've centered the main lace panel on the center lace ladder, so these lace motifs all line up. (Believe it or not, because of the 2x2 rib called for and the additional rows in the cuff, the main lace panel did not center on the motif on the cuff, if knitted according to the chart.) Although the sock is mostly in shadow in this photo, I think you can see what I'm getting at, here:
FridayHarbor 002.jpg
Everything is centered, and the lace panel lines up with the lace ladder on the cuff.

Everyone says the Friday Harbor socks are a quick knit, and I agree! Again, the pattern is from Knitting on the Road, and I'm using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport.

And, in the I-Can-Resist-Everything-But-Temptation Department, yesterday I cast on for the Wrapped in Tradition poncho:
FridayHarbor 001.jpg
Photo shows two-and-a-little-more repeats of the Alpine Lace edging, in Kidsilk Haze. Have I ever mentioned how I love that Kidsilk Haze?

Posted by Karen at 11:41 AM | Comments (4)

September 09, 2005


bday 002.jpg
Little sister lights candles on big sister's birthday cake. I love how atmospheric this photo looks. I love it when my kids care for each other like this. Allegra was determined to light those candles for her sister; what I've cropped out of the photo were the sixteen broken and burnt out wooden matches that she went through, to accomplish her task.

I see that I was tagged for a meme, the first two questions of which were, What were you doing ten years ago? and What were you doing five years ago? More to the point, what I was doing 19 years ago, to the day? Giving birth to Jennie, becoming a mom for the first time.

You see that Jennie's dyed her hair back to its natural blonde color. She's removed the tongue stud, too -- but she's sporting a tattoo on her ankle. Oh, well, I love her anyway.

Mary B -- glad to have found another Friday Harbor sock enthusiast! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I have wondered if 50 sts around is really enough for a sock, even a lace sock, for me (given that I'm a tight knitter and also given that I'm trying the 3x2 rib). I may go up to 60 sts....

Ryan -- nupps are the bobbles of lace knitting. You see them used in, for example, Lily of the Valley stitch. (See Faina Letoutchaia's entrelac shawl, "Forest Path," from the Summer 2003 issue of Interweave Knits; see Galina Khmeleva's "Lily of the Valley" shawl in Knitter's Summer 2004.) Nupps, in a nutshell: You create five stitches out of one stitch, then on the return row, either purl these 5 together or knit these 5 together, depending on whether you have a stockinette or a garter stitch background for your lace. Think of purling together 5 stitches of laceweight yarn on tiny needles . . . that qualifies as hard! Knitters have various strategies and short-cuts for tackling nupps.

But -- there are more lace patterns out there that don't use Lily of the Valley stitch than there are that do. One can knit beautiful lace one's whole life and never have to knit a nupp.

And then, with respect to those questions of, What were you doing on such-and-such date? There's the question of, What did you think you'd be doing, on September 1? I fully expected that I'd have my sister's socks finished and be casting on for the Floral Fair Isle gloves. Although that plan didn't quite come to fruition, Abby came over on September 1 and chose some Spindrift in various colors for her gloves (and she picked out some books and a calendar, as well). I couldn't find a camera that day to take a reciprocal photo of her.

Posted by Karen at 09:09 AM | Comments (8)

September 07, 2005


Like everyone else in the country, I've been feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. I've made a donation to the American Red Cross's Katrina Relief fund, and hope you'll do so, too, if you haven't already. I've been following the Give a Little blog for some examples of knitterly fund-raising.

Over the weekend, I exercised great self-restraint by --
not starting a little baby sweater for my sister's newborn grandchild
not starting the Wrapped in Tradition poncho, even though the color I'd been waiting for, the brand-new KSH color Grace, arrived on Friday
FriHarbor 001.jpg
(and a pretty color it is, too!)
not starting the Floral Fair Isle gloves that are a knit-along for the Feral Knitters
not starting the Friday Harbor socks

Instead, I was a Good Knitter. I focused on finishing up the Classy Slip-up socks for my sister. Honestly, I had believed I'd have these done before the end of August, but somehow the knitting of the second sock seemed to go on and on. We spent Labor Day weekend in the San Juan Islands again, and somehow I had forgotten to bring the pattern for these socks with me. But I was so determined to finish them that I stuck to it, remembering how I had shaped the toe, then confirming my recollection by close analysis of the knit stitches on Sock #1 (which I had brought with me). By this exertion of willpower and brain-power, I managed to finish the second sock by mid-day Sunday, only four days into September. Whew!

I then promptly cast on for the Friday Harbor socks. Here's a picture of the cuff, lounging against Scott's navigational chart for the San Juans. At the bottom, you see a chart, at the top, you see an aerial photo of Friday Harbor:
FriHarbor 003.jpg
I'm using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in the color Island Blue. I hope I don't hear my Dear Readers groaning, and if they are, I hope they'll forgive me if the color name seems too cutesy for Friday Harbor socks -- but I like turquoise! I'm using size US 3 needles, for now -- will give the sock a fitting and adjust needle size, if necessary.

Now, let me express some opinions about the Friday Harbor socks:

First, as I stated earlier, I am enchanted with the pattern -- a lace panel "like a sailboat's wake" up the front of the foot and leg, ribbing on the back of the leg, and a lacy, undulating cuff.

Second, I am delighted to find out that there's a Yahoo group doing knit-alongs for the patterns in Knitting on the Road, and so I promptly joined that group. I am such a sucker for knit-alongs -- I always want to do 'em all! Somehow, with this book being out already for four years, and with it having not caught my attention before, I didn't realize how much interest there is in this book. And the interest is well-deserved -- there are some great patterns in here.

Third, I do not believe that lace knitting is hard. Okay, maybe there are some lace stitches themselves that are hard -- nupps, for example, and some kinds of multiple decreases such as the centered double-decrease used in the Friday Harbor sock. Stitches such as these may be difficult to execute. But, in the big picture of knitting, lace knitting is not hard. Intarsia is hard, keeping an even tension in cable knitting is hard (and picking up and putting down that darned cable needle and just generally keeping track of it so that it's at hand when you're ready for it is hard). In my book, lace knitting ranks right up there, second only to Fair Isle in the round, as being rhythmic, relaxing, soothing. So when people say to me that lace knitting is hard, I pretty much interpret them to mean that a large project, such as a shawl or tablecloth, just is a long project and requires a long attention span.

Yes, I think, lace knitting can be an endurance test. It may be psychologically hard, a test of perseverance. But, in general, the actual knitting is not hard.

So, there I was, in the San Juans, away from computer access, casting on the Friday Harbor sock and beginning the cuff chart. You cast on 50 stitches, but once the lace pattern starts, in order to have the YOs and centered double-decreases line up, the beginning of each lace round moves back one stitch. The first lace round that I worked, I thought, Hmmm, counted my stitches and had 51 . . . . Tinked, re-worked it, and concluded that you just need to move your beginning of the round back one stitch, on each lace worked round. Once back at home, glancing through the Yahoo group's knit-along list, I see that this aspect of the chart has stumped some other knitters.

Seeing some completed Friday Harbor socks on people's blogs, I come to the conclusion that knitting all 20 rounds of the lacy cuff (as the chart would have you do) is not as elegant as knitting only the first 10, and then moving on to the lace chart for the leg. You see, the first 10 rounds have the lace ladders lining up, and the centered double decreases lining up, to form that undulation at the top of the leg -- but then, the chart has you swapping the positions of the lace ladders and the centered double decreases. With all due respect to Nancy Bush, I think that swapping of positions does not "read" clearly, visually. I've thought that from the photo of the sock in the book, and my feeling is very much confirmed, seeing the completed socks on people's blogs. So I'm knitting the first 10 rounds, then moving on to the main lace chart.

And finally, my last opinion on this sock pattern (for the moment): I think the design will flow better if the strong vertical lines formed by the lace ladders and by the centered double decreases flow directly into the ribbing. But if you knit the 2x2 rib that the chart calls for, the ribbing won't line up consistently with those vertical lines in the cuff. So I am experimenting with a 3x2 rib instead. I may lose some elasticity in this trade-off for more elegant lines -- stay tuned!

And, in Two Swans news, many, many new fall products have arrived and I'm listing them on the site as fast as I can. Everything from the "Almighty Handy Reeling Machine" (honestly, that's what the label, translated from Japanese, says it is), to Rowan 38, to the new Kidsilk Spray. And more new items to be listed in the next day or two. Welcome, Fall!

Posted by Karen at 11:24 AM | Comments (5)