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Mason Dixon Love, Update

Time for an update:

First, 3 lil' washrags, sitting on some dishes....

That washrag pattern is quite addicting. I don't have a kitchen and I can't stop knitting them. These are just my first three.

I've knit 6 more.

Yea. Six.

I have a problem.

(Although I have begun to give them out to people... which we all know is part of my greater goals of knitting more gifts.)

Anyway - you all should knit this pattern - I know, I know, dishcloths - how lesser. No, you don't get it until you try it.

It's amazing.

This is the Mason Dixon Bathmat "absorba" that I knit for my boyfriend. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I sorta injured myself knitting it.

My arms were sore for like 2 days after I finished it. I think it's a result of it being 2 pounds of cotton yarn.

It's kind of a heavy knit. This photo is a toe shot to show the squishy ness.

This is a sweater that I finally finished. It's your basic top-down raglan. It took like no real time - it was just stalled on the sleeves for a few months because I had other, more exciting things to knit. You know.

And there is the beginning of my first blanket.

You should know that when I started knitting I swore that I'd never knit a blanket or an afghan.

I thought people who did that were insane - and missing out on so much other cool stuff they could be knitting.

But knitting log-cabin style is cool stuff. I love it. I'm not totally sure that I love the colors - it may be a gift for someone. But I'm loving the knitting process. It's fun. And amazing. And it grows. And each new strip I can make a new decision about which color to use.

I love it!

New topic - I dubbed this summer (before the Mason Dixon stuff) the Summer of Socks. Socks, to me are a great summer project. They are portable. Not stifling to knit. Relatively small in scale. A fun way to try something new with each new pair.

Here's some of the progress.

This is the toe of the Lace Leaf sock pattern from interweave (a few issues ago). I love the way the pattern finishes the leaves. So freaking cute. It kills me.

Here's a photo of mismatched socks - the multi-color one is waving lace socks (designed by Evelyn!). It has since gotten a mate - but I gave the pair to my mom before I could snap a picture of the two of them together.



Short Post today and almost entirely devoid of knitting content...

Today, the story of a picture:

In March of 2003, I went to Ireland with my grandfather and cousin. On the third day, we were traveling through Conemmara and we saw this sight out the car window. We only had about 50 feet before the entrance - let's just say that my "Oh, let's stop there!" caused my grandfather to slam on the brakes rather harshly. Minor whiplash.

Anyway, this is a photo of Kylemore Abby. Today, it's a girls school and minor tourist attraction. This photo is my favorite from the day and from the whole trip. People tell me that it looks like a postcard. I can't help but agree.

Anyway, Ireland was a truly amazing experience. I loved it. I can't believe how great it was getting to know my grandfather and traveling the country.

And the mandatory knitting content - I wish that I'd known how to knit back then - I'd have gotten some yarn while I was there.

Next time.


Love, not infatuation

Dear Evelyn A. Clark,

You amaze me. Truly. Let me explain:

Last summer, I decided (rather bullheadedly)that I was going to knit some socks. So I did what I would normally do. No, I didn't take a class. No, I didn't find a pattern labelled "starter socks" or "basic socks." I pulled out an issue of IWknits(winter, 2004), found a sock pattern I liked (in this case, retro ribbed socks, see right), and cast on.

I knew that the pattern was only a page long. I realized it was all text. And I knew that eventually I was going to have to knit a gusset even though I had no idea what one was or what one looked like. I had faith in you Evelyn. I had faith in my ability to knit a pattern. You did not let me down.

It was a wild success. Using only the words and abbreviations I knit some socks. I amazed my grandmother with my fearless conquering of needles the size of toothpicks (ok, well maybe size 2's aren't quite toothpicks, but still ...) and I loved the slow satisfaction of knitting a pair of socks.

The pattern, with it's twisted knit stitches and blocks of purls is incredible. It was easy to memorize and looks incredible. You are a goddess, Evelyn.

Now, It didn't take me long to start to take your pattern and think outside the box. I tried to use the skeleton, the bare bones numbers of your incredible socks and simply use a different stitch pattern in making my next set of socks.

But I am not you. I do not have your creativity, your gift of knowing what patterns work best on feet. I bow to your craft.

Anyway, I was ecstatic when I picked up a back issue of Knits with a (new to me) pair of your socks(waving lace). It's cute, it's fun and I have the perfect skein of hand-dyed yarn in mind ... And it uses a stitch pattern I'd never have thought to use on socks. So I will try to emulate you, but realize and try to accept that I may never succeed.

In the meantime, I'll knit your patterns.

Anyway, I write, to simply say - You rock my socks! Really Evelyn, I'm not exaggerating. And so, to that, I present, in thine honor, a button. Because, really, I love your socks.

(to fellow Evelyn admirers - steal away, but link to your own bandwith, not mine)


Ralph the Gnome

Once upon a time, there was a land named "Collins." It was a magical land where the food was plentiful, the buildings looked like castles and the people, the people .... The people were truly kind, they were respectful and they were fun. They were artists, crafters, scholars, writers and environmentalist.

Now, the people of Collins had a mascot of sorts. They loved gnomes. It stemmed, some suspect, from a set of 3 stained glass windows in the center building.

Here is an adventure of Ralph, when he stayed with me for a few days. (and if you have questions about Collins -
a residence hall at Indiana University- email me at nicole.hindesTAKEOUTHISJUNK (AT) gmailANDTHIS TOO dot com.!)

Ralph tried on Un, my first sweater.

Instantly, he fell in love with the feel, the drape, the warm, soft wool and of course, the incredibly flattering color.

But of course, there is a problem.

The sweater is WAY to big for Ralph.

So Ralph picked up some needles and yarn and got to work. But what is he making?

Could he be making a sweater for himself? That would require odd shaping because his proportions are off and his beard is just odd.

Could he be making a rug for his home in the tree in the woods?

What would a gnome want to knit?

Of course! A scarf!


My new knitting goals

The knitting olympics has taught me much about knitting and the relevance of knitting goals. I don't have to end up with a dozen or more WIPS in my life. I can finish something, really, rather fast. I AM a speed knitter.

Thus my new knitting goals are as follows (with reasons, explanations):

-Name my knitting projects. I have such a relationship with the pieces that I knit, and they ought to be more to me than a description of their construction. I will strive to find creativity not only in my actual projects, but also their nomenclature.

-Finish Rebecca before spring break (1 week from now). Rebecca is a raglan sleeve, in the round sweater. It's a sweater of healing, that will be a sweater of remembering. I started it the night I heard some breaking news that hit me kind of hard. More on this later.

- Plan and knit Independance (a pillow for my mom).

- Join a KAL. I really liked knitting at the same time as a few thousand knitters. And while I don't think there will be a KAL with as much of a following for quite a while, it's really nice feeling like such a part of the knitting community.

- Knit Picovoli with some great silky viscose I have. This is part of a larger de-stashization goal.

- Knit project BLACK. I'm purposefully being vague here, not because of publications stipulations, but because it will be a gift that will suprise more than just the recipient.

- Limit my works in progress to four, not including socks. It's so satisfying to finish a project a relatively quick speed and the sense of satisfaction I've been recieving from these FO has really been ultra helpful for my mood and general well being. Limiting my WIPS will mean that I will have more FOs as a faster pace.

- Knit more gifts. This is where project BLACK and Independence fit it. I enjoy giving handmade gifts and I want to do more of it. This Christmas, my mom will probably recieve a sweater. Maybe my sister too. We'll see.

- Continue to work on being published. This includes a certain extreme article and possibly a few others.

- Write more. I used to be big into writing. I used to keep a journal. I even had a notebook where I wrote little pieces of prose about what I saw and what I pretended to see. I haven't been writing for pleasure, for fun in a long time. I think that's why I blog (in case you haven't noticed, I don't blog for my dozens of readers. Anwyay, in order to hold myself accountable for writing more, I'll write a book review (which means reading more) every Tuesday and some sort of essay once every two weeks. Usually, these will be knit related, but not always.


Done! Da Da da da (Fanfare please)

Things I learned from this project:

1. (and most suprising lesson) - When you unravel rib stitching from the bottom (in an effort to shorten a sleeve), it does not act as the right-side up stitches. There are weird twists and what you want to be the "working yarn" goes through the stitches. As a single piece, not as a loop. Thus, it is smartest to do as many knitting books and experts suggest and use a stitch holder or other needle to pick up one leg of each stitch you want to get to.
2. Caffiene does things to me. If I don't have food in my stomach, but I've drank one (or two or three) diet cokes with lime, I get a little jittery. And concentrating is difficult.
3. I have the best boyfriend a knitter can have. Really, you all should be jealous. Last Sunday, he brought me a case (24) of diet coke with lime, two boxes of girl scout cookies and flowers. Today, as I was putting on some finishing touches, he said (at the idea of me not finishing) that "by hook or by crook, I'd do what I could to help you finish!" Hook or by crook! How sweet. And he hasn't complained at all that he's finding alpaca fuzz everywhere. And when he realizes how important it is, he stops using his generic "whatever you think would be best, darling" response when I ask him a knitwear related question. He was very helpful both in deciding the length of the collar and the final button selection.
4. Having a serious project to work on does not decrease my "winter blah" depressed stage. I'm just really glad this sweater was black. Pink would have made me want to jump a cliff.
5. Set in sleeves aren't so bad. Neither is seaming them. And the finished product is so worth the extra effort.
6. When using bobbles on a project, it might be a good idea to make sure that one won't lie where your nipple does.
7. It's important to think ahead so that a cable can continue on it's way without becoming interuppted by an armhole or even close to an armhole.
8. When you knit at a large-ish gauge, you don't need buttonholes.


status report

Thus far, I have eaten an entire box of girl scout cookies, drank 18 diet cokes, tinked an immesurable amount, and knitted about 6 balls of yarn.

I've finished 1 sleeve, the right front, and the back. F ya... I love it. But there is only 60% of the time remaining. EEEK. Two more pieces seems totally do able, but then I get to thinking about the seaming (only my second time seaming and my first time doing set in sleeves), and the button bands, and then the collar. And I keep forgetting about the freaking pockets. So, I'm going to knit like crazy this weekend.



I started right at 2. It was very exciting. And in a particularly sweet gesture, my boyfriend called very soon after to wish me luck. He's so supportive. I love him.
Anyway, here's where I was at 3 pm today.

Then, many hours later (I haven't done a whole lot today) this is what I got:

The bites near the top are the shaping for the armholes. Yea. Armholes. On the first day...


Oh, Procrastination.

That's the problem with knitting. It's productive procrastination. Why read a book that has nothing to do with knitting when one can finish a bag?

Why do laundry when you can catch up on the sleep lost last night while knitting?

Why listen to a boring lecture about libel when you can plan out your knitting olympic challenge?

Why even go to school?

Ah yes. To prepare for a career which will allow for the means to knit.


First sadness, now pain!

(Blocking 2.0 has not been attempted yet. I think I'm saddened by the thought of it not working. Thus, I procrastinate as a defense mechanism.)

So. I've been working on a bag (here and there) for the past few weeks. Last night, I felted it.

Let me take a minute to remind you that I am a college student. I do not have access to a non-laudromat style washing machine. Thus, if I want to felt anything I have to do it the old-fashioned way. In the sink. With hot water. And lots and lots of Dawn.

Let me resume. So, I felted my bag yesterday. 45 minutes later (yea, 45 freaking minutes!) I was done. I had no idea that the process would take so much time. After 15 minutes, my fingers were hurting and my wrist was aching. But I didn't want to have to come back and felt some more later. So I kept at it.

I gave myself blisters! Blisters! On my fingertips! I am officially nuts. My absurd obsession for knitting has finally hurt me. Don't believe me?

See the white skin right near the tip of my fingernail on my middle finger? A popped blister. And the red discoloration on my ring finger? Another blister.

But anyway, I'm pretty happy with how the bag has turned out. I've felted some bags before, but they've never come out the way I wanted. I wanted something deep enought to fit some school books so that I can use it when I go to class. Finally, I got what I wanted. See -

I think it turned out pretty well. I still have some minor finishing to take care of, but I'm incredibly pleased with it. It makes me want to hand felt things more often (I feel like I had more control in the process - the finished product wasn't a suprise). If only I could do it without seriously injuring myself. Hmmm.

Anyway, I was inspired by a Classic Elite pattern that was pictured on the back of a copy of my interweave. Here's a photo. Let me know what you think. I think I came pretty close.

Olympic update: I have everything mostly swatched. I still have to decide on my major cable, but since I'm knitting the back first, I can decide on that later. I think I'm going to take it easy on the amount of knitting I do between here and friday so that my hand cramp (stupid hand felted bag!) can completely go away and not bite me in the ass later.


tears of sadness....

So, I finished my sweater, as one can see from the previous post. I thought I'd be a good knitter and block the thing. You know, even out the stitches, do what I'm supposed to do.

So, last night, I washed my sweater, by hand in one of the very small sinks on my floor. I pressed it between some towels to get as much of the moisture out as possible. It lie, pinned and spread on a blocking board overnight - with a fan moving the air around it. That's what you're supposed to do right?

I've ruined it. Absolutely destroyed it. It has gone from the Mona Lisa to my little sister's 1st grade finger paintings. I want to weep.

It is now gigantic. I'm talking monolific. The same league as the Sears tower.

Tonight, if I have the courage, blocking 2.0 will be attemted.

I'll keep you updated.

I finished my sweater!

It took me only 20 days, but I'm incredibly happy with it. It's really basic but it's just a great sweater to throw on for some warmth. Or if I'm having a kind of day where I want to feel like I'm actually worth something. (on a side note, my mother insists that it looks better on her and she wants to steal it.)


The Chosen One

It was a bit of a task deciding what to make for the Knitting Olympics. Initially, I considered the cabled shrug from Fall '50 Interweave Knits (on my to-knit-soon list since July) and my backup was going to be the brioche stitch mini-poncho from Wrap Style.

Unfortunately, I asked my boyfriend what he thought of the shrug and he made one of those "icky" faces. When I asked what about it he didn't like, he said the sleeves, shoulders and torso. So all of it. I know. His reasoning? It wasn't a 'traditional' garment. Which therefore not only eliminated the shrug but also the back-up project, and the garment I was actually wearing at the time. *sigh.

I know, I should ignore him. But I’m not going to spend a massive amount of time on a project (which will likely include some hard-core boyfriend neglect) that I’ll be disinclined to wear whenever I see him (practically every day).

Thus, I have decided to knit a cardigan that will be inspired from Mariah from Knitty, but will largely be my own design. It won’t be all too challenging of a design, but it will go through some changes – cables up along the zipper sides, a seed stitch floppy collar instead of a hood, and size 10 needles.

My list of necessary items/tasks to make it through the challenge:

• Addi Turbos – I’ll need some speedy knitting.
• Advance work – I’ll need to work ahead in my classes to prepare for a certain amount of slacking.
• Girl Scout Cookies (specifically Samoas) – These come in the 13th. I’ll have to go 3 days of the challenge without them. That’ll be tough.
• Hand Lotion
• Stitch Markers (I think I’ll make some special ones just for this occasion)
• Seaming as I go – in order to avoid awful work at the end.
• The Handy Book of Sweater Programs and Harmony Stitch Guides Volume 2
• Diet Coke with Lime – for energy and sustenance. At least 3 cases. Probably more.
• Clear, printed directions of how to cable without a cable needle

Things I’ll keep a running tab of –
• Cursing
• Occasions of frogging
• Hours of sleep
• # of Girl Scout Cookies/Diet Cokes Consumed
• Balls of yarn knitted up

I am so excited about this. But I do think that I’m a little nuts.



I've decided to rise to the challenge posed by the Yarn Harlot.

What's the challenge you ask? Olympic Knitting. Cast on a project during opening ceremonies and finish the project by the time the flame is extinguished (16 days). The real challenge - finding the perfect project. It should be something that is doable, but not too easy. Which means that garter stitch and stockinette are out for me (I'll get bored). Socks too (I've done a pair in two weeks before). I need to look through my magazine and books to find the perfect project. Decision date - Jan. 26th (an arbitrary date that allows me enough time to order yarn if I so need).

I'll keep you updated of what the top contenders are.