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You know when you have those days? The kind of day where you think, “Gee, I could have just stayed in bed today, gotten the same amount accomplished, and been a lot happier!”


This morning I got up at 4:45 am. That’s when the blub left, and I rolled out of bed as soon as I heard the car drive away into the starry day. I had woken up when his alarm went off at 4, and willed myself to stay awake, while pretending to be asleep the whole time as to not tip him off that I was up to something (Ever pretended to be asleep while trying not falling asleep when you’re really tired? Um, don’t.). I got up this early to see if I could get a lot done on hypotenuse, as I seem to be taking my time with it. So I got up. And I knitted. And knitted. And knitted until about ten after 6 or so, when I Noticed Something.

Hmm…the yarnover three rows down looks….misplaced.

I stared at it for awhile, willing it to right itself. Sadly, it did not. That pesky yarnover stubbornly remained one stitch over from where it should have been. Wild thoughts began to whip through my head at this point. “He’ll never notice!” I thought, which is probably true. (Aside: about two years ago I dyed my hair purple. I did not bring it up once I got home, just to see how long it would take Nels to notice. How long? Two weeks! Did I mention that my hair was purple? No, I’m not going to ever let him live that one down, why do you ask?) “Some ancient cultures believed that if you made perfect things, the gods would get mad and trap you inside your work! So I can’t make it perfect!” I also thought. Yes, this really did run through my head.

Hey, it was early. That’s all I can say.

So I stared at my oopsie for a little while, and decided that I would notice it, every single time Nels wore the dang thing. So I (begrudgingly) decided to fix it.

For whatever reason I cannot fathom/recall now, instead of just ripping back three rows, I would fix it Yarn Harlot style.

Again: early.

In all fairness to myself, dammit, I did pull it off. It didn’t look perfect–some of my stitches had gotten twisted somehow–but pretty good. Good enough. The yarnover was now in the right place. I was happy.

So happy I went, back to the couch, to finish the pattern repeat. Did I mention that the repeat is 20 some odd rows long? I was on 17, I think. So I finish knitting the fixed row. I turn, and knit all the way to the other side. I turn again, and get about 1/3 of the way through the row and realize…hey…that’s not the right number of stitches.

That’s not the right number of stitches!

I double checked. Triple checked. Quadruple checked. Nope, still off. Was the mess up in the section that I just fixed? No, that looks fine. Then can I find where I screwed up so I can fix that section? No, no I can’t. Everything looks fine, except the stitch count.

At this point, I lay down on the couch and put a blanket over my head. It did help, a little. But not much.

So I sat back up (stitch count still off) and surveyed it once again, just to be really sure I couldn’t do a quick fix somewhere. As I was moving the stitches one by one over the needle, I heard the tiniest “pop!” and suddenly there were loose stitches everywhere.

My needle had broken!

My nice and shiny KnitPicks options needle! The screwy thing that connects the needle to the cable popped off! Dropping all of my stitches! Ack!

options sadness

Can you see it?

close up of options sadness

At this point, there was really nothing I could do.

I ripped it out. All of it. All of the progress that I had made today. Thank god for lifelines! So I only had to rip back to the last pattern repeat, which is where I was when I started this morning.

lifeline in hypotenuse

As I finished winding up the loose yarn from my defeat, I looked at the clock.

6:56 am. Time to get ready for work.

So, to sum up:

Hours spent knitting: 2

Hours of sleep lost: 2

Knitting accomplished:

hypotenuse so far


I knew I should have stayed in bed.

I read in the paper that the mall opened at 5 a.m. today. 5 a.m! That’s ante meridiem people! From the Latin for before noon! And it sure was crowded in the parking lot when I drove past at about a quarter till nine. Yikes! At least it’s nice and quiet here at the lab today. No body is around–not the Chinese guy, not the German guy, and not even my boss. Yay! All the instruments are wide open and I have no one barging in my office, demanding that I answer their inane questions. In other words, I might actually get some work done today. After I finish updating my blog, that is. ;)

Yeah, yeah, enough blather. Where’s the knitting?

Here’s the knitting:

shetland triangle

Lookee who finally re-blocked the Shetland triangle. I had ordered the blocking wires set from KnitPicks, and I do not regret that $29.99 at all. Oh man, was it so easy with the wires. I truly and faithfully love those things. Here’s a close up:

shetland triangle close up

As opposed to the first time I blocked it, this time I didn’t have a bloody cat sleeping on my drying shawl. A little explanation:

I live in a small, A-frame house. Our bed is up in the loft, reachable only by ladder (well, and climbing wall). 3 of the 4 cats have taught themselves how to climb this ladder, which is slightly surprising, given that the ladder looks like this:

ladder 1

It’s made out of 2×4’s and dowel rods. There are deep grooves in the dowel rods know where little kitty claws have dug themselves in. Anyway, when I blocked the shawl the first time, I pinned it out on the bed and moved the ladder over like this:

ladder 2

It is several feet away from the floor of the loft. 3 or 4 feet, at least. Enough to deter cats from going up there, right? Well, I though so. I then left the house to run some errands. When I returned about four hours later, I replaced the ladder and scrambled up to check on the blocking progress. Imagine my vexation when I discovered Oscar had a) gotten up there; and b) was sleeping on my shawl! Needless to say, he was quickly evicted from the bed. The shawl had dried by then and it didn’t look too bad, so I unpinned it. It looked…okay. But not great.

When I redid it, I took the ladder all the way down and laid it flat on the floor. I was still wary, because I have a faint notion that my guys might actually be able to climb up the climbing wall (Can you just see them? Chalking up their little paws and buckling their tiny kitty harnesses? “Climbing!” “Climb on, dude.”). When I rushed home after work, thankfully all was well. It blocked beautifully, and looks waaaaaaay better now.

shawl 1

…and yesterday was so nice and sunny…

shawl on logs

…which always makes for nice pictures.

So, I didn’t quite finish the story. How the bloody heck did the cat get up there, you might ask. I sure as hell asked. Well, the day I blocked the shawl again, my husband got home before I did. He rather ludicrously thought the ladder, taking up the entire kitchen floor, was in the way of his making dinner so he leaned it up against the climbing wall again. It was a little farther away than I had done the first time, about 6 or 7 feet. About 15 or 20 minutes later, he heard the sound of a cat climbing the ladder, so he poked his head around the corner to see what was going on. Sure enough, Oscar had climbed all the way to the top rung. He dangled there, looking the world like he was going to make the leap for the loft. I guess he re-thought that though, because Nels said he wobbled for a bit, meowed a few times, then came back down.

Sheesh. Who knew that alpaca could be so alluring? I guess in kitty minds, it is the Shangri-La of napping places.

So I hope you had a happy happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I sure did. I knitted for about two hours on hypotenuse, since the blub was cooking dinner at his parents’ house, and I was left alone at home to prepare the Thanksgiving dessert.



You know, that time of year when you realize that you need x hours to finish your holiday knitting, and you have x-19 hours to do it in. Sigh. And nothing ever changes! Every year I tell myself, “Next year, I will knit no gifts! I will buy everything and have lots of time to enjoy myself, happy holidaying and merry everything.” No stress! No worries! No sobbing on Christmas eve!

(okay, okay, it’s never gotten that bad. But close! Very, very close.)

So this year, I vowed to pick one person to receive a hand knitted gift. And I have chosen my mother-in-law. She is a truly wonderful person, she loves to wear big triangular scarves, and I know she would appreciate it (not like unmentioned brothers, grumble grumble). I’m making the Swallowtail shawl from the fall issue of IK, but I think I mentioned that before. Anyway, it’s coming along very nicely and I’m really enjoying knitting it (I haven’t come to the “nupps” yet, though. I live in fear of the nupps). It’s going so well in fact, that I found myself thinking, “Well, maybe I do have time for another knitted gift or two!”

(please start soft and ominous music in the background)

So I think, “Hey! What about my niece and nephew? They’re little! To knit for them won’t take much time!”

So I did. Niece Elizabeth, 6, will get Paton’s SWS legwarmers. They turned out cute. Already done. Pretty quick, too. Not bad, not bad.


You can’t tell by this picture, but they’re cabled. I didn’t know how big around to make them, so I compromised by making cables and ribs. And yes, I know the stripes don’t match. I’m not a matching stripes kind of person.

Onto nephew Eric, 4. What does a four year old boy really want? A monster hat! I made this out of gigantic monster yarn (Lamb’s Pride BurlySpun) that I dyed monster colors. Held together with a strand of Fun Fur (oh god, I know, I said the f-word. Sorry sorry. I bought it when I first started knitting, please don’t hold me accountable. Anyway, I used it all up, so it’ll be out of my house soon, yay!), it makes a pretty monstrous hat. Here it is so far:

monster hat 1

To be added are the googly eyes and the felted fangs. This is an adaptation from a pattern in New Knits on the Block. I like this book. The patterns in there actually look weird and wonky, but everything I’ve made from there has gone over like gangbusters by the recipients.

Okay, so. Two presents down. I’m feeling pretty good. Why not add some more? Why not indeed…

Well, I can say in my defense that I have to finish this next one. Yes, it’s the never ending baby blanket for little John. It was supposed to be a “Hey, it’s great that you were born” gift, but baby arrived before end of knitting. So. Now it is Christmas present. That if I don’t finish I will commit hara-kiri with my knitting needles. Yeah. So, working on that. See, I’ve made some progress, right? Um, right? I want it to be about 24 x 30″. As of last night, it was 14.5 x 16.5″. I have a ways to go, I know. But it’s really stretchy, so maybe I’ll be able to block it bigger!

blanket 1

(Please, no one tell me that this won’t work. I like living under my delusion. It’s warm and cozy and safe in here. I want to stay.)

So that’s the baby blanket. But, if I make something for John, I have to make something for his big sister, Hanna, who’s three. I love making things for Hanna. I know I may be prejudiced, but she is the cutest little girl in the whole world. Seriously. I’m not making that up. And what does a cute girl need but a cute sweater? I’ve chosen Reid, from knitty. The main color is a pale pink, contrasting color a pale brown. I’m thinking that this will be friggin adorable. So how can I not make it?

So I’m up to what, five knitted gifts now? But there is one more person. A very important person. A person who puts up with my moods and cooks me dinner every night and in general is very nice. Of course, I mean the blub.

my lovely blub

I mean, look at him! Look at that sweet little face! What could I possibly make that would be good enough for this gentle, retiring soul?


cashmere on log 1

But rugged cashmere! Manly cashmere! Cashmere that smells like a garage!

It’s a cone of DK weight cashmere from colourmartUK. The yarn is pretty scratchy off the cone, and yes, oiled. And it smells like oil. After a washing, though….oooooh. Ahhhh. Feels soooo nice. And it is perfect for hypoteneuse.

I love this pattern. Did I say I love it? I LOVE it. Go right now and buy one from anne. You won’t regret it.

The problem with knitting presents for someone that you live with is that you can’t do it in front of them. But as I mentioned (did I?) my husband is a chef, and chefs go to work very early in the morning. Like 5:30 am. So this morning, after he left, I dragged my butt outta bed and cast on. This is how far I got in an hour:

hypotenuse in progress

I see myself getting a lot less sleep in the next month…especially after I snapped this picture, I realized I screwed something up two rows back. So tomorrow morning, I get to rip back what I did today. Oh well.

So have I gone crazy? Am I truly nuts? I said I would knit one gift and I knitting six! Can I do it while maintaining my (loose grip on) sanity?

I guess I’ll find out on Christmas eve…

…albeit crappy ones. The problem with having only a film camera is that you don’t know how your pictures turned out until you get them back. Sometimes you’re lucky. Sometimes you’re not. This most recent set of pics definitely falls into the latter category.

However—onward and upward. I’ve been doing some lace knitting. I got this beautifully soft and wonder alpaca from Sheep Street fibers about a month ago.
brown alpaca skein
The color is called “nutmeg.” Isn’t it pretty? Now normally, when I buy new yarn I dutifully wrap it in plastic once I get home, then put it away with all the other yarn so it won’t get lonely. But this skein did not go into hiding. It camped out on my desk so I could pet it. And pet it. And pet it. So after I got my wisdom teeth out, I decided to knit it up. Here it is, done:
unblocked scarf

Unfortunately, I don’t have blocked pictures. I need to redo it anyway, because I’ve been wearing it like mad and it’s gotten all crumply again. I have a set of Knit Picks blocking wires on the way, and this sucker is going on them as soon as they fly through my door. So there will be pictures! Oh yes, there will be pictures.
unblocked scarf close up

I don’t really know what possessed me to do this. I was on painkillers and only partially lucid. Did I mention that I’d never knit lace before? Yeah, this was my first time. So I’m half in the bag, and I pick up some needles and a pattern. Seemed like a good idea at the time! I guess the knitting gods were smiling down at me that day (out of benevolence or amusement, though, I cannot say), for the scarf turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. It’s the Shetland Triangle, from Wrap Style.

So I must admit, knitting that was fun. I mean REALLY fun. So much fun in fact that I think I may have gotten a little, shall we say, overenthusiastic?
the undyed cone

That’s a cone of yarn I got from Sarah’s yarns. It’s 1120 yards of DK weight Zephyr, 50% wool, 50% silk (mmmmm, silk). I decided that it would be a good idea to make my mother-in-law a shawl for Christmas, and I would dye the yarn for it. Is it a good idea? I guess I’ll find out 3 days before Christmas when I’m trying frantically to get this done. Since I’m not knitting with the specified weight in the pattern (it calls for laceweight), I made some swatches:
blocking lace swatches

Recognize the pattern? It’s the Swallowtail shawl from Fall IK. On the swatch on the left I used size 8 needles, and size 7 is on the right. Here they are, all blocked and pretty:
lace swatches with dyed skein

…on top of the dyed skein. This is the best picture of the dyed skein. It has not been very sunny round these parts, so the desk lamp shot’ll have to do. Sorry. It’s actually a pretty accurate color, but of course it looks all luminous and glowy in the sunshine, being silk and all. I’ve decided to go with the size 8 needle for the shawl. I’m trying to figure out how many repeats I should do to make it a good size. I want it to be, oh about 60 in across the top. The pattern says the laceweight one will be 49 in, with 14 repeats of the first lace chart. They get a gauge of 17 ½ sts/in on a sz 4. So, this may be a dumb question, but since it’s being knitted from the neck down, how do I measure my gauge? I did it the way that seemed to make sense, measuring at a diagonal with the row, and then counting stitches. But the number I got was really similar to the number in the pattern (something like 16 sts/in) which didn’t seem to make much sense to me. Shouldn’t it be more sts/in than that? Whatever lace knitting gurus (translation: anne) are out there, could you give me a hint? I would be much obliged.

Lastly: gratuitous kitty shots. I’ve gotten some very nice comments about how cute my kitties are. I’ve only shown two of them, though. I actually have four. Yes, four. In a 900 ft2 house. Don’t ask. Here are the other two:
Kelpie with flowers

Kelpie, token girl kitty. I’ve had her since she was a kitten. She’s what I’d call a cat person cat. I’m about the only person that she lets pet her. Well, that’s not entirely true—she started letting my husband pet her about 8 months ago (we’ve been together for four years).
buster 1

And Buster, most recent foundling. One stormy night in March, I looked up from my knitting to see him with his nose pressed up against the window (literally—he left a mark!), crying and looking pitiful. When I went outside to see if he was hurt, he rolled over at my feet so I could pet his belly. Yeah, I was a goner after that. Don’t think me so lame for naming him Buster—the way he looks me in the eye and flops over reminded me of Buster Keaton, so the name stuck. This is actually how he normally looks:
buster 2

As long as he’s not another yarn sucking cat! I can only accommodate one of those.
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thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
November 2006