Monday, February 24, 2014


Remind me to never again make pseudo-Argyle stockings.I don't know if my housemate just is big-boned or what, but I had him try on the stockings again and her couldn't get it all the way past his heel. I should have frogged it back to almost the start of the calf shaping. I'm not even sure what to say about this, except, doesn't V. look peaceful and carefree?
She has no knitting conundrums, or bills, or laundry to do. OK, she does have laundry to do, lots of it, because she is four years old, but being four years old also seems to exempt her from having to do it herself. By proxy it becomes my laundry. If any of you have a solution to this, aside from nudism, (did I mention it's still cold?) I'd be glad to hear it. In the meantime, much like with sweeping and doing dishes, I am having her apprentice to me daily in the hope that one day she will be able to practice independently.

Friday, February 07, 2014


I've addressed my moth problem somewhat before, and how it caused me to do some drastic repairs to a handknit sweater. Those pernicious moths also attacked my collection of well-worn lightweight store-bought sweaters. I have quite a few of these. They are close to literally being a dime a dozen, since they are partially shrunken, mass-market brand sweaters in neutral, inconspicuous colors, and I easily mistake one of them for the other. So I don't blame anyone who thinks I don't change my sweater from day to day. But now they will not be indistinguishable: they will have names even. Today, I introduce the Butterfly Sweater.

It began sadly enough. Witness below.
I gave up on the hoop after a while.
Moths took a few bites out of this heathery brown sweater at just about my left shoulder blade. I happen to have wool felt so I got the grand idea of appliqueing something over the holes after I mended them. (Not Godzilla. He needs to be on the front of a sweater.) I decided on butterflies. I have really no idea why. I tried to improvise the first couple butterflies that went over the holes, and then I submitted to the potato chip principle: you can never have just one. Or two. Aw, shucks, let's have a swarm!
I looked up images of butterflies on my smartphone for better verisimilitude, did some quick sketches, then made templates to guide me in cutting the felt. Took me about ten minutes, if that. I think I spent most of the time trying to find a working pen. (Four year olds are not known for their felt pen conservation skills.)
Took me a while to find the pencil sharpener, too.
I grabbed some gaudy fingering weight wool yarn and set to it. I didn't bother with a pretense of making it look professional. I like the homey look.

Left shoulder blade
The light blue and lilac butterflies in the above photo are on the moth hole damaged area of the sweater. All the others are just for company. My skill at making butterflies really improved by the time I had a dozen done; the copper and yellow one on the top of the photo was one of the last stitched, as was the yellow butterfly.

Back of sweater
I was intending to put all the butterflies only on the left side of the sweater, but the lilac one on the right got away.

Front of sweater
Some of the butterflies are dramatically different than others. I like the whimsical effect they lend an otherwise eminently practical and blah sweater.
Front shoulder
When I made the templates I traced them from these quickie ink drawings I made. If this project looks like a fun idea to you, and you need some butterflies for your moth holes, too, feel free to print the ink drawing below and cut it up and resize it and whatnot for your own templates. Go crazy!
Click on photo to enlarge.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Vintage Thursday: Argh-yle Stockings

I have been struggling all week with the Men's Argyle Stockings. I'm learning the hard way that it is very, very important to not have too much tension on the yarn you are carrying on the back of a colorwork piece. I already sort of knew this, but I didn't know it in such shocking technicolor as I do now.
The puckering is my tension problem. Which causes a tension problem. In my temples.
This pattern conspired against me. The colorwork goes all the way around the stocking, and when I got to this point I had my housemate try it on because of some kind of subconscious fear I was having. And as it turns out, my fear was justified. It didn't fit. It didn't fit spectacularly. He could only get his foot half way down the stocking, if even that far. The colorwork area just didn't stretch much, and the pattern has one reduce to about 76 sts just before the ankle. That's not exactly giving one a lot of room on US #1 needles to begin with. My entire stocking (well, OK, 2/3 of it) was FUBAR. And that wasn't even addressing my issues with the foot.
He fit it until about here.
I did have the foresight to work the heel with the additional thread that Jawoll sock yarn has in its skeins just for that purpose. I was feeling pretty good about myself at that point, but then I looked at the directions for the colorwork on the foot.

I was expected to simply carry the red on the back of the black all the way across the sole.
All my loose ends.
And I did. I tried. It lasted about two inches, and then I noticed my tension problem. So I cut the red yarn and knotted it at the end of every row. Not a pretty solution but it seemed workable at the time. Another inch or two in and I had the housemate try the thing on. And as I have already mentioned, I had problems. I had to backtrack a considerable distance.

Of course, all that cutting and knotting on the foot means that unraveling becomes complicated. I took a breath and just chopped the foot off.  

This was Tuesday. Or Wednesday. It all just kind of blurred together in my head, as these kind of things do. I may have a kind of knitting trauma, since I have practically knit this stocking twice already. Plus, it is just so darned cold. I don't fare well in these East Coast winters and reknitting a hundred or so rows on US #1 dpns didn't exactly warm my hands any. Somehow, I carried on.

I started unraveling the foot and using the yarn from it to knit the rest of the stocking leg again. I kept changing my mind about what kind of join to use, but at this point, does it really matter? It will probably block just fine. Or else.
I began at around where you see the safety pin, which coincidentally marks Row 100 of the colorwork. I am not decreasing from this point on, and I'm being much more careful about my tension. Right now, I'm at about Row 145 of the colorwork, and have about 20 more rows to go before beginning the heel flap all over again. Contemplating that ridiculous carrying business (Part of why Argyles are worked flat, dagnabbit!) has me cunningly considering other approaches, such as a sole worked separately, or modifying the pattern to work it flat. I'm on the fence about it. All I'm really certain of is that I am certainly not doing it the way they say to do it in the pattern.