Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Trailing by a Tomato

I finished up the last Tomato Hat for the WIC programs, and sent three hats each via UPS with the following letter:
Dear WIC Program Specialists,

Enclosed please find three cotton baby hats in various fruit shapes for your very wonderful WIC nutrition programs.
My mother demanded that I knit these hats, saying, “You owe these ladies, and now it’s payback time!” My mother was appalled at the misinformation about breastfeeding that existed when she had by brother in the late 1960’s. Her doctors told her that Asian women’s breasts were too small to nurse! She knew this was preposterous, and by the time my sister and I were born in the 1970’s, she had found out all she could and even become a La Leche League leader. She says we all are healthy, beautiful, smart, and allergy-free and she credits it all to breastfeeding.
Times have changed, but you are still battling misinformation, and struggling to reach the women and babies who need you the most. I wish I could do more than knit a few silly baby hats. Please know that I admire the work that you do, and these hats are a tiny symbol of gratitude for you and others like you, and the work that you all do.

With Thanks and Aloha,

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fruit Heads

Must...Finish...Fruity...Baby Hats!
Due to the mail time from Hawai'i (ok, I plan on sending these Monday via UPS) to Massachusetts and California, I figure I must get the baby fruit hats for the WIC programs done this weekend: Finished, washed, dried, packed up and addressed.
These projects have been fun! They are portable, made from inexpensive hardware-store-cotton, for a good cause, and so cute! Of course, people worry about me that I seem to be obsessively knitting baby clothes... (no worries: Am happy to be giving these away for other people's babies!)
They have also been excellent distraction from both driving, other knitted projects (Kyoto, Icarus), and some very important writing which needs to be done this weekend for a deadline next Thursday...oops!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Work In "Frog"ress...

Two Kyoto sleeves, a bit of Icarus shawl, two and a half hats, and a hat-to-be-ripped.
Since the hats are due at the end of the month, I think they will draw my focus...And they make such good car knitting!
That damned purple chenille: I started to patiently undo the cast-on edge while stopped in traffic, and ended up with a worn-out but still holding tight little knot, and a car full of little chenille fuzzies. I put it away until our Wednesday night knitting workshop, where I tried again over a trash can. Eventually I just cut off the green leaves on the top, worked all the remaining purple out of them, and eventually grafted them onto another (orange cotton, thank-yew-ver-much!) hat. The body of the purple chenille hat? After a few minutes of attempting to frog it out, with the good intentions of saving the yarn for further, non-knitting use, I threw the damn thing in the trash! How liberating! How Final! Yes, we were all choking on airborne purple fuzzies, I had not cut the top neatly or evenly, and all I was getting were irritating little unusable bits, and, quite frankly, what non-knitting use would I have for this small amount of purple chenille? I mean, I still have the whole damn roll, I don't crochet, and probably shouldn't learn on such an irritating piece of...Ahem...Anyone want it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Car Knitting!

Construction is blocking the roads in my town, and I have curbed my road-rage and impatience with a good piece of car knitting! Small project, one color, stockinette baby hat! I got a few rows done, realized my tires need an alignment, was calm and friendly enough to let a grateful driver into the traffic line, and didn't mind the twice-as-long commute! "Drive with Aloha" my ass! Drive with knitting!
Update: Objects in Photo Safer and Duller than they appear!: I am not knitting while driving, but knitting while stopped in traffic...knitting while driving a moving car would be dangerous...and risky, as I would probably drop a stitch (hehe!). The yarn used here is Sugar and Cream cotton in red (part of a tomato hat) but the way the sunlight hits it makes it seem a bit more lush and fluffy than it actually is.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chenille Nightmare: Worming Purple People Eater!

Serves me right for straying into acrylic, but it was so soft! And so Purple! And so readily available at the hardware store in town!
I knit this eggplant/grape hat for a donation (read about it here) out of Lion's Brand Purple Chenille, because it was so deliciously eggplant color. Near the end of the hat, I noticed big stitches or big loops appearing where no big stitches had appeared before. I don't remember dropping stitches, or knitting large tangles like they weren't there, and I am a tight knitter, so its not like I created loose loose stitches that could have wiggled into big coils. So I washed and dried it, hoping erroneously that blocking was the answer to my acrylic woes. (It never is. Wool loves me back! Wool is alive!) What I got instead was even more loose loops! What is going on?!?!? Are you supposed to only knit chenille partnered with something else to hold onto it? Is this some sick way the acrylic camp makes you buy 2 skeins, a chenille and a holder companion? I vaguely recall Wendy telling me that Chenille "worms" something awful. I always thought this meant that the ends wouldn't stay woven in, but would wiggle their way out. Could she have meant that all the strands in the entire knitted piece wiggle about and get caught in cul-de-sac loops? It makes me nervous to think of worming strands wiggling and looping of their own accord. Especially atop a baby's head! Oh the horror! It really is alive!
This monster is fated to have it's leaves cut off and grafted onto another (cotton!) hat, and the rest of it will be frogged. Then I think it, and the other 2 partial chenille skeins I have moldering in the stash, need to be donated to an acrylic-loving fake-lei crocheter somewhere in my town. Yech!

Update: From Comments:
Stilaholic Nartian knits said...
Isn't there a disclaimer on the Lion Brand website that their chenille's not recommended for knitting?

Oh-My-Gawd! Immediate search of Lion Brand website ensued and found this:
Knit: Product is not recommended for knitting
GRRRRRRR! After some frogging, maybe I will finally teach myself to crochet.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fall Interweave Knits Preview

After making two (alright, one and a half-in-progress) patterns from the summer issue (and maybe more...) I am not nearly as inspired by the Fall Preview over at Interweave. But I am hard to please: I immediately discard any pattern that looks cozy and warm, since it will be unbearably innapropriate for my climate. Back to socks and handbags for me!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dr. Who Would Have Known Better...

I was organizing my patterns the other day and came across the pattern for my second project ever: The official BBC pattern for the Dr.Who scarf. I made this pattern for a dear friend and longtime Dr. Who fan, and then I used the leftover Red Heart Acrylic (hey, I was new to fibers!) yarn to make a non-official, inspired-by version for myself (in the photo: left). The long, fringed, multi-striped scarf is perhaps the most recognized piece of television knitting (until, perhaps, the dawn of the Harry Potter scarf), and I remember being so excited to find the pattern online.
At the time, I happily grabbed my mother's old aluminum number 10 straight needles and the acrylic yarn bought at Ace hardware, and I knit away for days and days, yeilding a huge scarf. I knew the scarves worn on the TV show were oversized, and when mine measured about 2 feet across by about 20 feet long, I didn't think much of it. I just put it in a large box and mailed it off to my friend, who folded it lengthwise and has been wearing it ever since.

But recently, after a little more knitting experience under my belt, I thought, "Wouldn't the Official BBC knitting pattern be written with UK-sized needles? And if I interpreted that as American-sized needles, wouldn't my knitting be...huge?"
I can't find the website for the original pattern I used, and all the patterns I can Google now seem to have both the UK and US sized needles listed. Well, we live and learn! Luckily, my very handsome friend looks stunning in his huge scarf, and he is dramatic enough to pull it off!
A guy who has loads of cool info about the scarves. Another fan with way too much detail about the scarves.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Somewhere on my way to Aran cables (really, I plan on doing loads of cables) I got caught in a net. Literally. I have discovered lace! My first foray were the lotus blossoms (aka alien-heads) in the Lotus Blossom Tank. While I made a few mistakes, I can't find them now, as the merino has proven tight and forgiving. Then I got very distracted by the Icarus Shawl, which I began on July 4th using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in this beautiful light blue color. It is very delicate and shows every mistake.
I have avoided blocking (as the Lotus Tank went into the dryer) and I am technically not yet at the lacy bits of the Icarus, I have enjoyed learning something new, seeing a pattern emerge, and forgiving my mistakes as part of the learning process. I also like to see patterns in things, and can see how I could perhaps eventually be seduced into enjoying charts. (But not quite yet).
But what I am enjoying the most is the next step in "reading" my knitting: Not just recognizing a knit or a purl stitch, but understanding how each combination or addition of stitches skews the pattern a little bit away from stockinette. I suspect this education shall continue with those delayed cables. Which I will get to. Soon. I promise.
Although lacey socks are tempting...
(Both Lotus Blossom Tank and Icarus Shawl are found in the summer 06 Interweave Knits, and check the sidebar for the knit-alongs. Apparently I am a joiner.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New Knitty!

The new Knitty is up! Yay!
I have sock yarn and fingerless glove yarn ready to go! Here in Hawaii it is too warm for the Starmore-style Aran and Fair-Isle that I really want to wear, so socks and purses are usually what I end up with. Happy Summer Knitting!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Perfectionist: On the Block

Saturday was laundry day:
I attempted to steam-shrink the button band on the Philosopher's wool cardigan (I attempt this everytime the iron is out. I think it might be getting smaller...gradually...)
I washed the Kyoto Asian-Fusion sweater, and attempted to shrink the 6 inches of ease I factored in. I did this with the dryer. I think it may have shrunk a tiny tiny bit.
And: I washed and attempted to block the Lotus Blossom Tank. Now, I figured I made this with 1 inch ease, and I should have made it with 1 negative inch ease. I also wanted to flatten the rolling neckline and maybe shrink up the gapey armholes. Just a wee bit of blocking magic, I figured, and since it is Merino wool, I thought it would be an easy task to bend it to my will.
Not so.
I washed it gently in the sink with cool water. I bunched it up while still in the water, and squeezed the excess water out. Never once did I pull it out of the water or otherwise attempt any action that would stretch the garment. Remember, I was trying to shrink it by 2 inches. Just a simple 2 inches!
I lay it out on top of the dryer. It had grown. It had grown by 10 inches of ease sideways, and I can't even begin to tell you by how long. Maybe a foot. The lace was huge gaping holes, holes too big to wear to work. Especially if it turned out to be the size of a potato sack.

I panicked. I assumed I had ruined the damn thing and I threw it in the dryer with the Kyoto, a few towels, my jeans, and various non-knitted laundry (what?! Non-knitted laundry?!?) I checked them every few minutes while I ate ice cream from the carton. And I am supposed to be a vegan.

The Kyoto shrank a little bit, but is still large. The tank shrank back to its pre-wash sizing, complete with 1 inch positive ease, gapey armpits, and rolled front edge.
My conclusion? Too damn bad! Get used to it!
(And I am knitting everything one size too small from now on! It is easier to stretch than to shrink!)