Monday, April 30, 2007

Masters Monday - To Be Continued

Friday was a Very Good Day. It was so good in fact that all the good news could not be contained in one blog post. As you may recall, I reached my running goal on Friday. The update on my "running ticker" at the top of my post was the most immediately visible good news, so I chose to focus on that and leave the rest for today.

So today I continue with a "Masters Monday" post according to the tradition I established earlier of reporting my progress on the program in each Monday's post.

Today's progress report:


My Level 1 submission was returned Friday. ALL of my swatches were accepted, and according to the letter "It is highly unusual for all swatches to be accepted on the first try!". There were a few, very minor comments which I will point out by editing my earlier Masters Monday posts. If you are interested in viewing the suggestions for improvement you should be able to bring up a list of all related posts by typing "Masters Monday" or "swatches" into the blogs search bar.

The written work that I stressed over so much was accepted as well and was deemed "very thorough" and " well researched". In the questions section I had to resubmit PART of ONE of my answers due to a very dumb mistake. I can't believe I overlooked something as simple as a change in stitch count due to some increases. Kicking myself I tell ya, KICKING myself! But for that one small error I would have passed on the first try. Bah.

Anyway, because my only required resubmit was minor and involved a small portion of one answer, I was allowed to send my resubmit via email. I had my correction accepted by the following day.

Woo, hoo! On to Level II.

I won't be ordering that just yet. I have a few projects around here that need attention and I have to buy new glasses. (Have you seen the price of progressive lenses lately!!)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Let the Band Play

I made it!

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Since early January of this year I have run over 329 miles on an elliptical trainer, the distance from my present home in Chilliwack to my childhood home of Prince George. Yes, yes, I know that the silly ticker at the top of my blog says I still have 1.6 miles to go. That's because it isn't registering the fact that I've actually run PAST the required distance. I'll have to either take it down or change the destination and keep right on running. What do you think? Should I just keep right on going about to Prince Rupert?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Approaching PG

Almost there! With only 10.9 miles to go I'll make it in another 2 runs. I've passed Red Rock and can smell the mills of Prince George in the air.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Getting It To Fit

Still knitting and spinning for the sweater which is beginning to acquire the moniker of "Dark Denim Sweater". The actual pattern has no name, just a number. The second sleeve is finished. Looks just like the first so I won't bother with a picture. On to the back piece now. And some spinning.

It's getting to be like a film clip download where the viewing begins before the download is complete. Sometimes the film progresses faster than the download and the film must stop and wait for the download to get further ahead. I started knitting before I had the spinning complete and my knitting is progressing faster than the spinning can keep pace. It won't be long before the knitting has to stop and wait for the spinning to move forward.

In the meantime Lorraine left this question in my comments:

Lorraine said...
Absolutely love the yarn and the beginnings of the sweater. I notice that your sweaters usually fit beautifully. Do you alter patterns to fit in advance or are you just genetically lucky enough to have the right figure to get sweaters to fit as written?

I suppose it would be a little of both Lorriane, and then some. My proportions are pretty average. Both now, and when I was heavier, my bust/waist/hips remain relatively normal in relation to each other. If I gain in one place I tend to gain all over. So, yes, patterns do tend to fit me "right off the rack".

Of course one has to choose the right size in the first place, and that is where some knitters go wrong. You can't just assume blindly that you will always be a "small" or a "size 36" or whatever the case may be. I always look at the measurements the finished garment is supposed to be and choose according to my preferred fit. I've learned over time how much "fitting ease" I am comfortable with, and I'm getting better at determining an appropriate "design ease" depending on the style of the sweater, the weight of the knitted fabric, it's drape and so on. If I already have a sweater in a similar style and weight that fits just right, I take the measurements from that. I also use previous disasters as a learning tool!

And then there is the gauge swatch. Nearly every knitter hates to knit them, but they tell you oh, so much and should not be skipped. A gauge swatch not only tells you if you are getting the correct number of stitches per inch, (being off just 1/4 of a stitch over 4" can have a drastic effect on fit if you are using a bulky yarn) but also how the finished "fabric" will perform. For instance, does it drape correctly? "Getting gauge" is not the only thing that is important. You may be able to squeeze a knitting worsted into a pattern for sportsweight by using a ridiculously small needle, but are you going to be happy with the stiff-as-a-board fabric? It's a good idea to take your finished gauge swatch and launder it in the same fashion that you will launder the finished garment. If it is going to go all loosy-goosy and stretch out of shape (sometimes a problem with Superwash yarns), or perhaps shrink, fuzz, or fade, wouldn't you rather know about this before spending all that time and money to knit the garment in the first place?

Sometimes I do alter patterns to fit better. I'll occasionally add waist shaping where there wasn't any, deepen a V-neck, lengthen or add width to sleeves, etc. Occasionally I realize that what I love about a particular commercial pattern is one significant detail and I then incorporate that feature into another design that I like the fit of.

If you can, try on early and often --- it'll save hours and hours of fruitless knitting. In the end, it's still a crap shoot. You win some, you lose some. But when I lose I rip out the offender and try to learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

One Skein Knitted Up

From the first two bobbins of Superwash Merino I made 2 skeins of 2 ply at an average of 17 WPI. That marks it as a "fingering weight", but in actual use I found I liked the way it draped when knit up a little looser and I have had this pattern kicking around for a while looking for the perfect yarn. It's supposed to be knit in a DK weight cotton yarn. I find the handspun merino looks perfect and drapes beautifully.

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The photo shows how far I was able to go with the first skein, which was the smaller of the two.

The beginning of the second sleeve is looking a little rumpled in the picture as it has not yet been blocked. I have the lower part of the first sleeve blocked because I was concerned about my gauge and wanted to double check before I continued. Blocking improved the knitting a great deal. It made the handspun look more smooth and regular, it opened up the lace some, and it greatly improved the drape.

I'm really enjoying this project. It looks way prettier in person than it does in these rather low light photos.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Worsted Weight Socks

You may recall that last weekend I participated in a beta testing of a new knitting software program. Sock Wizard version 2 will be that much better because of me. Well, me and 60 or more other testers. Heh.

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Before my test copy expires (I believe that happens today, April 20th) I printed out a copy of a pattern for socks, custom fit for me, in a worsted weight gauge. I decided to give Carol Wulster's "Ultimate Diagonal Heel" a whirl. I'm happy to report it was easy and they fit great.

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Gotta love the speed of a pair of worsted weight socks. I estimate that, with the fewer stitches and rows per inch, they knit up in about a quarter of the time it takes to knit a fingering weight pair. I knit the entire leg portion of one of the socks during a guild meeting last night.

These were done in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. It's 100% wool, no nylon, so they may not last as long as the wool/nylon blends. It took the better part of two balls of the blue and somewhere around 1/2 a ball of the red.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Superwash Merino 2ply

2 plyed Superwash Merino handspun. I purchased the mill ends (not rovings, but a hodge podge of pieces and strips from a mill --- all spinnable with very little prep.) from ebay seller: "shpherder". I believe I paid $4US a POUND for this. Even including shipping it worked out to only about $5 Canadian for a pound. It is very slippery and a little difficult to control during spinning, but the end results are quite beautiful. She also sells actual rovings at a higher price....likely easier to spin.

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The finished skein averages between 16 and 18 WPI (not as uniform as I am usually capable of) and should knit up beautifully.

I have 7 more pounds, in various colours. Heh. Yummy, super soft, lustrous, and washable!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I've passed Hixon now, in my effort to run the distance between Chilliwack and Prince George. Check out the tracker at the top of my blog. Less than 31 miles left to go.

Monday, April 16, 2007

2 B Plyed

On the wheel:

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Superwash mill ends from ebay seller shpherder.

I have 2 very large bobbins of this spun and ready to be plyed. I purchased 2 pounds of this dark, dark navy colour, and pound of a soft, bubblegum pink, 2 pounds of black, and 3 pounds of light blue. It's lovely, soft wool, but I find it a bit difficult to spin. The combination of "superwash" AND "merino" makes it very slippery. I have to "pinch" with the lead hand a little more firmly than I am used to and if I spin for a long time my hand cramps up.

Worth it though.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I had an interesting weekend as a volunteer "beta tester" for Carol Wulster's "Sock Wizard, Version 2" which will be released some time in the future. Along with 60 or more other knitters I poured over the program looking for errors and glitches in the patterns and help files. Friday and Saturday we looked for typos and errors in the way the program operated. Today we knit all the various heels using different needle set ups (4 dpn, 5 dpns, 1 circular, 2 circulars).

It should be noted that this little oddity is NOT supposed to be a sock. It's just my test drive of a "Next Step Heel" (on the right side) and an "Ultimate Toe" (on the left side). The bit of ribbing at the top was just something I added so that the stockinette wouldn't roll on the sample.

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It was fun trying out a different variety of heel and toe. The program is GREAT! If you are an avid sock knitter, keep an eye out for it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spindling Spring Colour

On the spindle: Handdyed Merino Sliver by Fleece Artist.

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The braided roving was quite compact from the dyeing process (perhaps a little felted?) so I had to predraft quite carefully and I'm still finding it necessary to "park and draft" some stubborn sections.

Monday, April 09, 2007


A gift for Kaylen. The Baby Surprise Jacket from "The Opinionated Knitter", a compilation of newsletters written by Elizabeth Zimmerman from 1958 through 1968.

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The sweater is supposed to be "the right size for a 1-year-old, or older", but even though I got perfect gauge, I think it will fit Kaylen when she is about 6 months old. Yup. Right in the heat of the summer. *sigh* I suppose that makes it a good thing that the hat likely won't fit at the same time? It looks quite large even though I used Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's advice on hat sizes. (from the sections "Typical Head Sizes" and "Head Rules and Exceptions" in her book "Knitting Rules"). If we fold up that first, lower red stripe it looks more like it might fit a human being under 5 years old. Maybe Kaylen can wear it some time next winter --- long after she has outgrown the sweater.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Delivery Complete

I just received an email notification from the post office. My Master Knitter Level One binder is now in the hands of TKGA.

While I'm waiting for the evaluation to be done I've completed yet another project I had on my "to do" list.

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It's a simple fitted sheet for a playpen so Kaylen will have somewhere to sleep when she comes to Grandma and Grandpa's. I wonder if she will ever use it. She prefers to sleep like this whenever possible ---

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--- upright and in someone's arms.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's Next?

It seems that in one giant heave I got the Master Knitter Level One out the door to be evaluated and then, with a great sigh of relief, collapsed in a corner somewhere never to be heard from again.

Well, that might seem to be true, but in actual fact I've been busy but not much in a blogging sort of mood. PJ asked a question in my comments, and I'll answer her here in an effort to get my blogging mojo going again.

PJ said... ....SO, what's after this? I've enjoyed so much hearing about all this through the weeks/months! Can't wait to see what is next!

Well PJ, when I get my Level One back (and do any necessary corrections) it will be straight on to Level Two. In the meantime I thought I might "...try to make good use of my time getting a few other things finished up." Here is a list of a few of the projects I'm fiddling with:

I have a Dale of Norway kit waiting to be made. I've made two rather unsuccessful attempts at that and it is sitting in time out. I'll look at it again when it decides to behave!

I finished weaving off the Summer and Winter sampler warp at home, so when the second day for the guild to work on it as a group rolled around I spent my time combing a big bag of wool that was given to me. That is still a work in progress, to be picked up as time, weather (best done outside as it is full of VM) and inclination dictate.

On my wheel I'm spinning my way through 6 pounds of superwash merino. I'm findiing it more difficult to spin than many of the preparations I have tackled so far. It's "mill ends" so not all uniform and ready to go. It's also very, very slippery and inclined to spin up less uniform and fine than I am used to. I'm sure it will be lovely yarn when all is said and done, but it is less relaxing to spin than I had hoped.

Just yesterday I started in on spinning some Fleece Artist merino using my spindle. This project will be done in little bits, 5 or 10 minutes at a time as I wait for pots to boil. I like having the spindle near the kitchen for such stolen moments.

Despite having the patterns for several "next up" projects pinned to the bulletin board in my Stash Room (and even some handspun ready to be swatched for them), I ignored all that and cast on for yet another new project, one not even on my official "next up" list. I blame the Dale of Norway kit's misbehaviour. My frustration with it is what lead to me look around for some easy, reasonably quick project that would calm my ruffled feathers and restore my belief in my ability to knit. I found the perfect little project. With some clever little twists and turns and a few color changes it held my attention through 3 days (2 if you consider how late in the day I actually got started) of intense knitting where I was neither bored, nor overly challenged. Perfect! Readers have to wait until after Easter Sunday for details and photos though as it is to be a present for a certain little someone's first Easter.

Another thing I really must get to is an organizing and dunging out of my Stash Room. Being a Multi-Interest Fiber Fanatic does have it's drawbacks when storage space is an issue. Things like looms (I have an 8 harness table loom with stand, a tapestry loom, a rigid heddle loom, and an Inkle loom) spinning wheels, a ball winder, a niddy noddy, a couple of lazy kates, an umbrella swift, a bobbin winder, a large book/magazine collection, and of course all the fiber and project bags that go with the various hobbies. It makes for a very cramped Stash Room and I have a new tool to set up somewhere in there so I can get to learning it's ins and outs. I am the proud new owner of a used Singer 360 knitting machine, with ribber. I took machine knitting in college about 9 years ago and have been wanting a punch card machine ever since. All that's holding me back now is the need to find some room to set it up. Well, that and FEAR. Those suckers are hard to use, let me tell ya. It will put my mechanical aptitude to an extreme test.