Making Raspberry Progress



Oh, the joys of ruching! I hadn’t read through the pattern beforehand so I had no idea that the ruching in Citron was all that easy.  But so it is. The only item of note: do not use kfb (knit front and back) as your M1. Instead, use the pick-up between stitches method. It’ll save counting errors later on.

I started the shawlette this weekend and am making surprising progress as I am already in section 3 of 5.  I say surprising because, for the past 2-3 years, using my hands in any consistent, repeated way has been troublesome at best.  Lately though, my renewed knitting desire must be making up for any physical pain.  In fact, I’m searching for my next project.  I know I should pick up the hibernating baby dress started way back in November and at least try to finish it before the child grows out of the  1 year old size.  Naturally, “should” is not the same as “want to”.  If you have other ideas about something fun for Spring, give me a shout out in the comments.

Today’s last little nugget?  I’ve made the pattern available for Lu’s Fingerless Mitts (PDF).   It’s also there for the queueing in Ravelry.  A friendly warning: it has not been test knit except by me.  As per usual, if you find an “oops,” let me know so I can fix it.

FO: Lu's matching mitts

Matching mitts for Lu

Matching mitts for Lu

What can you do with 100 yards of Aran-weight yarn?  Why, make a pair of fingerless mitts of course.  These should be the perfect complement to the legwarmers I recently completed for my friend Lu.

I based the mitts on the same alternating round stitch pattern of K2tog, YO, K1 and K1, YO, SL1, PSSO.  For the rest, as is my wont, I decided to wing it.  I took some cryptic notes along the way so that I might be able to reproduce mitt number 2 just as I’d made number 1.  Despite my “chicken scratch,” I was able to read enough to replicate in such a way that any difference is barely noticeable.

By the way, the pattern is still in beta but if anyone is interested in trying it out before I add it to the list on the right (and to Ravelry), let me know.  I’ll send you the PDF straight away for a quick test knit.

Other business

It’s National Crochet Month (or NatCroMo as some have dubbed it)!  Find out more about this March event at the Crochet Guild Of America or join the party on Ravelry at an even jointly hosted by the  Crochet Liberation Front and Crochet on Ravelry.  If you just want to follow the action on Twitter, look for tweets tagged #natcromo.

Lastly, let me end the “which yarn for Citron” conundrum.  I went with All Things Heather in the raspberry color.  Butter Peeps ran a close second but the intensely-hued deep pink just said “Spring” to me.  So who won the random number sweepstakes for some lovely yarn?  Congratulations to #8,  Jen from Knitting Like Crazy.  I’ll contact you via email to nail down the particulars.

A sunny little something

Citron by Hilary Smith Callis

Citron (Knitty Winter 2009). Photo by Neil Callis

Spring may not exactly be in the air just yet but that doesn’t stop my thoughts from turning to a little knitted number that promises more sunny, warm days ahead. Just look at Citron, the latest “it” girl from Knitty.

For me, this versatile slice of citrus goodness strikes just the right balance between sweet (ruffles) and sophisticated (ruching).  I could also see making at least two versions, with one for winter in wool that would double as a scarf and a larger shawl for summer in light fingering weight bamboo or cotton blend.

First things first though. I’ve got to actually knit one before I can even consider making some sort of winter / summer shawl wardrobe.  I can’t even decide on the yarn at this point which is where you lovely people come it.  I’ve narrowed it down to three contenders which was a chore in itself.  Each is wool or a wool blend making it appropriate for the in between that is still Winter and  not quite Spring.

Choices of yarn for Citron

Yarns that look good enough to eat!

It’s come down to the sunshine yellow of Butter Peeps lace weight from Dream In Color (A), All Things Heather’s deep, subtly pink Raspberry sock yarn (B), or Zen String’s Bambewe merino / bamboo / nylon mix (C) .  Just when I think I know which one I want, I change my mind so please,  help a knitter out. Leave me a comment saying which one you would choose.

Thanks.  I might even arrange for a little something to land in the mailbox of the person belonging to a randomly chosen comment.  See?  Now you have some skin in the game too.

One woman's roadmap to Wordpress

I may as well tell you up front that this is not knitting related.  If you want to stop reading I’ll understand and catch you on the next go-round.  My aim is to document what I did to move from Blogger to WordPress as my publishing solution.  Whatever you do, remember to always back up your files before making functional changes.

I could say it’s as easy as 1-2-3 because at a high level it does break down that way.  You can apply this to any migration, substituting the “to and from”:

  1. Install the latest version of WordPress on your domain host server.
  2. Export your content from Blogger to your desktop.
  3. Import your posts and comments and you’re open for business.  From this point you can change your theme, add sidebar widgets or text, search for and install new plug-ins.

Want specifics?  It would be helpful if you had some basic technical knowledge.  If you’re still reading I assume that you’re not afraid to get your hands (metaphorically) dirty.  Now, down to cases.

Install WordPress (this example is from GoDaddy)

Hosting Control Panel
  1. Log in to your account and bring up the Host and Domain control panel.
  2. Click the Your Applications button, list the available apps and select WordPress.
  3. Install WordPress and Askimet, making sure these are available for your hosting plan.
  4. Go to Your Email and create an administrative catchall address for WordPress administration if one does not already exist.
  5. Set up your WordPress administrative account as the last installation step.

Export from Blogger

Export From Blogger
  1. Export Blogger content to an XML file on your desktop.  All you have to do is go to Settings and click on “Export blog.”  You’ll get your posts and comments.  Don’t panic if your left or right column stuff doesn’t move.  You can set that stuff up later.
  2. Convert your content.  If you’re on New Blogger do this.  Old Blogger?  Use this wonderful online tool.  If you need import info on converting any other publishing tool content remember this link. Do not fear the export. You will not lose your content on Blogger unless you delete it.

Import Content in WordPress

  1. Log in to your WordPress account created earlier.  The login screen is at http://your-domain/wordpress/wp-login.php
  2. Click on Tools on the left side of your Dashboard.  Pick “Import” from the drop-down.
  3. Next, click on General to set up key information about your blog (title, tag line, date and time format, etc.)  This is where you’ll use the administrative email created earlier.
  4. Set up your profile, along with authors from the Users menu.  You can either use the administrative email or use your own.
  5. Set up how you wish comments to be handled from the Settings menu.  Click “Discussion.”
  6. You can add functionality from the Plugins menu.  Just click “Add New” and search for interesting plugins to download.
  • Want your mail and comments to work smoothly?  Download and install ConfigureSMTPChris recommended this app that saved my sanity after 3 days of comment hell.  Supply the settings that work for your installation.  I used the defaults for mine.
  • I also recommend SI-Captcha to round out your comment control.
  • When you’re feeling a bit more confident, try a new theme for your site.  There are dozens of them and they’re keyword searchable.  Read the reviews and make sure it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

Other stuff to consider

If you’re tempted to contact me for further assistance, I know you’ll understand when I tell you that I cannot supply it.  On the other hand, if I have made a factual error, don’t hesitate to let me know.

I believe you will quickly discover that the Codex ( an extensive document and “how to” library) is your boon companion.  If you remember nothing else from this roadmap, bookmark this link.  It’s an invaluable resource.

Walk, don't run!

Firmer!  Stronger!  Perter!  One of those fine purveyors of healthy footwear sent me an email advert the other day for some of those rocker-soled shoes.  You know, the ones that are supposed to tone up your butt and improve your posture?  Although I could use the help for the junk in my trunk, I’m still skeptical of these clunky looking shoe.  A good friend of mine has a pair of Skechers’ version.  She says that she could feel the difference after only wearing the shoes for a few days.  For her, the only downside (aside from the somewhat unflattering look) was that she could not run in these shoes.  They are apparently ONLY suitable for walking.  At upwards of $250 per pair for the high-end orthopedic ones, these shoes better do more than correct my gait.

Grey wool legwarmers

Les Cable de Faux Legwarmers

There is something that will work for you whether you walk, run or sit by the fire at the ski lodge: legwarmers!  Recall that I nearly finished the first legwarmer then had to rip it back and start over.

Details of my version of Les Cables de Faux legwarmers (Ravelry):

4 1/2  50g skeins  of Mission Falls 1824 merino wool
(2) 20″ size 5US / 3.75mm Addi circulars

The only real modifications were to the length (13″ instead of 20.5″) and to the number of repeats of the P2K3 ribbing at the end.  I wanted a beefier top so I upped the number of rows to 10.

Although I cast on 70 stitches to make the medium size, I knit very tightly so that the circumference ended up at 9″ instead of 11″.  Word to the wise: this is a very stretchy pattern so better to go smaller than you might think. My hands were killing me but I’m pretty sure the recipient will appreciate the lack of slouch.

All in all, these are easy peasy legwarmers.  Think “Flash Dance” if you must, but these are a super way to keep the gams toasty on a winter run.  By the way, there’s some bonus knitting underway with the remaining 1.5 skeins.  I’m only halfway through with the surprise so the deets will have to wait for now.

Change can be good. No, really.

Lisa Mendez' Knitters as the superior species 2/2010

Knitters as the superior species

Glad to see you found your way here!

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time and now, circumstances have conspired to push me out of the increasingly uncomfortable Blogger nest.  No more publishing via FTP unless I host with you?  No easy template control unless I change my blog to your approved format?  Since I’ve become too expensive for Blogger, I’m building a new spot on WordPress.

Before any misunderstanding lands me in hot water, let me explain “too expensive.” In the email sent out to those of us publishing via FTP, Blogger said the cost of supporting what they say is a tiny minority of users is a drain on their resources. Or something like that:

“FTP remains a significant drain on our ability to improve Blogger: only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP — yet the percentage of our engineering resources devoted to supporting FTP vastly exceeds that.”

I’ve been working out the kinks for the past few days, spending way too much time on the how-to bits and bobs.  I think I’ve finally fine-tuned my layout (but not the comment functionality), which is why I figure it’s almost time for the big reveal.  You’ll find a similar layout to the old site, with Search, Archives and Patterns on the right sidebar.  I’m pretty sure all previous posts and comments made it over the wall too.

Although I’ve spent a lot of time on this revamp, I haven’t stopped with knitterly activities.  I spent last Friday night knitting with my friend Lisa at her studio.  This was after I walked around documenting the “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” exhibit at the Flatiron building in Chicago’s Wicker Park.  Each artist did a temporary piece that reflected his or her permanent work.  Lisa’s a textile and fiber artist (and knitter), hence  her painting of “Knitters as the superior species.”

Enough said.

Instant Recycling's Gonna Get You

charcoal grey legwarmer take 2I was mere inches away from finishing the first of a pair of Lisa Gaskell’s Les Cables de Faux (Rav) legwarmers for a frosty friend in Calgary. Feeling pretty proud of myself, I was. Though it is a simple pattern easily memorized, my Swiss-cheese memory seemed to keep getting erased after each 3-row segment.

Once it clicked that I was over-complicating things by merely thinking I couldn’t knit without referring to the instructions, I was on cruise control. Then I re-read her email with the sizing information and discovered something that the back of my monkey brain stored but refused to acknowledge: calf circumference is 14 inches. Fourteen. And I was on my merry way making a 9 inch circumference legwarmer. I know she asked for snug but that size could impair one’s circulation.

Ripping ensued until I realized I could cheat rewinding to smooth out the bumps by re-knitting as I unraveled. It’s not like I was making a different pattern that required smooth stockinette. There will be bumps. I may not enjoy having to play do-over but I think this instant recycling could catch on. Details when I’m actually done. Maybe she’ll even model them for us (hint, hint!).

Remember crochet?

I was hoping I’d have a chance to do a few squares from “200 Crochet Blocks” compiled by Jan Eaton. When I originally got the book, I went through it like a mad woman, placing sticky notes on every page that I thought might possibly, remotely be used for some future something or other.

Then the call came in early January. I finally had the chance to break out my Clover Soft Touch hook (size F / 3.75 mm) and get busy. Not sure what I’ll make but oh-you-kid, I’m loving the simple tactile experience of Textured Bluebells.

There is downside, and that’s the fact that my hands are so out of practice with the hooking and whatnot that they cramp up after working too long. The only way to get past the cramping is to get back into crochet on a regular basis. Until then, it’s rest ’em and rub ’em.

How the french bread cut my finger..

…and other food-related knitting.

It was just one of those unexpected things. I was so hungry by the time I got home with my lunch and the golden-crusted baguette that I didn’t take the time to cut off a proper piece. As I rudely ripped into the loaf, leaving a jagged edge, I felt a quick jab at my left index finger. I figured it was my imagination and thought how funny it would be to fashion a knife out of bread then crumble the evidence (too many forensic cop shows).

Later on, as I sat knitting my Super Cupcake cowl, I noticed that the yarn kept catching on my finger. Upon closer inspection, I saw what looked like a splinter and a little dot of blood. It wasn’t my imagination. The french bread actually had cut my finger and left a little bit of itself behind as evidence! Laugh if you must, but it took a week for that sucker to properly heal.

Despite the aforementioned grievous bodily harm and a continuously cantankerous shoulder, I managed to finish both the cowl and the slouchy hat, making this pair the second of my Chicago winter warrior gear.

ChicKnits Super Cupcake hat and cowlYarn: Lorna’s Laces – (2) 225 yd. / 114g skeins in the Vera colorway
Needles: 16″ circular sizes 7 and 8US / 4.5 and 5.0 mm; size 8 dpns to finish
Stitch: Shaker rib

If you’re new to Shaker rib (or any of the other brioche-like stitches), it takes some getting used to the whole “knit one below (k1b)” business. It may be counter-intuitive but go ahead and drop that stitch. It’ll work out in the end. Promise. The only tricky part you might encounter (or at least I did) comes when you stop paying attention and purl the k1b and knit the purl. Hopefully you find your mistake before you’ve finished the round. If not, my advice is to frog back to the purl row.

My only other admonition? If you knit loosely as I am doing at present, take the time to check your gauge. Seriously. You see how my cowl looks a bit, um, large? That’s because it is. It turned out to be wider than the pattern’s 26″ circumference and hence not quite as face-hugging as I would have liked. The fault lies not in the pattern, but in myself.

I did a whole lot better on the hat. I tightened up my knitting and plowed through to the finish on that swell chapeau within five days, which is fast for me these days. Love, love, love everything about this hat. It has just the right amount of insouciant slouch. I think it looks adorable and will definitely be baking up more of these in the future.

Now, back to the baby dress.

Now here’s a happy snap!

The First Post’s Daily Beast feature has just the thing to send you smiling into the weekend. Cape penguins sporting knitted red scarves with green and white pom-poms for the holidays.

Cape Penguins in scarves Cape penguins at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama. Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno

By the way, my Super Cupcake cowl is all done and the matching hat is on the needles. More on this terrific looking duo next week, once the fat lady binds off.

This week in snow, sleet, rain and knitwear

first snow on patio chairsIt was Monday morning. As is his habit, Nik stood on my chest long enough to wake me and make known his desire for his 4 a.m. feeding. He does this every morning, like I’d forget or something. Not bloody likely after 13 years. I’m a creature of habit, too, buddy. I know how it goes.

I glanced upward from my bed out through the slightly open blinds. It seemed so light out that I figured I really had overslept, leaving poor starving kitties to struggle for themselves well past 5 o’clock. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, squinted at the clock on the night table and saw that it was only 1:48 a.m. In my vast experience of such things, the only reason for the softly bright night sky was snow. The first real, stuck-to-the-ground, more-than-a-dusting snowfall of the pre-winter season. And me, caught with my needles down.

Chic Knits Super CupcakeWhile it’s true that I already have a beret and cowl under my belt, I want more. It wouldn’t hurt to have another cowl or two, with matching chapeaux, mittens or fingerless mitts completed. I won’t go so far as a sweater or lacy shawl because these things, while quite lovely, require the kind of patience I do not possess.

Watch out for sticky fingers with this one! She is called Super Cupcake and she will be mine this winter. Bonne Marie has come up with another practical, sensible and versatile knit to battle the wind and the wet. I have just the worsted in mind, too: 3 or 4 skeins of Lorna’s Laces in the Vera colorway that’s been marinating in stashland for quite some time.

Perhaps I need to put the baby dress aside and gear up for more suitable woolens. My original plan called for the dress to be finished in time for baby’s first Christmas. Well, like the man says, plans change. I hear there’s a bonafide winter storm headed our way by week’s end.