Giving new life to an old planner

Needlebinderinside_1I did a little more rummaging around at the thrift store and found a decent looking binder for my needles. It’s amazing what one can find in that store. I’m recycling this old Franklin Covey planner cover into a binder for my needles. A little scrub down with leather cleaner and it looks almost new. The detachable shoulder strap is a bonus.

For any of you out there that are also looking at various binder alternatives, I noticed that these binder pages from Knit Picks can fit into  8.5″ X 5.5″ binder. Just stagger them until the holes line up into the rings. I also tried this with a normal sized 3 ring binder and voila, the pages can also be made to fit one of those.

I did make steady progress on Firebirds this week. Here’s a photo of the back. Notice how that birds on the left face left and the ones on the right face right? I love this detail of the design. For now I’ve stuck with the pattern hoping all will work out well when I dress the sweater on a woolly board. On the next row the steeks for the armholes will be started.

Ss_socks_yarnEven though it’s hard to put Firbirds down, yesterday I started winding yarn for another sock project. Although I generally knit one item at a time, I’m itching to take on another more portable one.

Working with two hand painted yarn colors on my last sock project was so enjoyable that I want to explore similar possibilities. So my next little project will be the Sunrise-Sunset Socks from Big Girl Knits.

A few changes

Body3repeatsKnitting on Firebirds continues as usual, with a pace of about one lengthwise repeat per week.

Previously I mentioned that I was going to shorten the sweater by one repeat. Well, plans have changed after taking a moment to check my tension.

While my stitch tension seems to be fine (~7 sts per inch), I found that my row tensions is off a bit. I’m knitting 8.43 rows per inch while the pattern calls for 8 rows per inch. Yikes! that’s going to make the sweater about one inch shorter.

I’ve gotten squeamish about shortening the sweater one whole repeat. That would be 3.5 inches, which seems too much. At the same time I’m also concerned about the width. As I’ve been contemplating this dilemma, I remembered hearing the teacher in a beginning knitting class say that you can always block a sweater so it’s wider or longer but not both. With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and knit all seven lengthwise repeats and try to stretch the sweater out an inch with a woolly board.

Besides worrying about the overall length, I also started thinking about how my row tension could affect other parts of the sweater; specifically the armholes and neckline. The difference in row gauge means that I’ll need to start the armhole steeks a few rows sooner so that the length of the armhole matches the length specified in the pattern. However, no adjustments for the neck opening will be needed. After doing a bit of math, I found that the tension differences won’t make enough of a difference to merit adjustments.

Chart_marking_tapeOn another note, I was at the fabric store yesterday checking out fabrics to cover my needle binder and found these tapes near the  rulers used by quilters. Apparently, quilters use them to mark off frequently used measurements on their rulers. When I saw them I though, wow I could use those for marking my knitting chart for my current project.

My first attempt started with a piece of blue tape from “Tape Go Round”; the funny tape dispenser with six little tape rolls. It didn’t take long before I found out this tape wasn’t going to work. When I tried to move it to another row it didn’t come off very easily and started tearing my paper chart.

Next I used one of the tapes called “Glow-Line Tape”. This tape was about $1 cheaper with couple more yards of tape. This one worked much better but oddly isn’t quite tacky enough to last more than a couple of rows.

I ‘m considering going back to good old Post-it notes.

It’s 89 degrees and still knitting


Got one repeat finished this week. I’m coping with the heat by mostly working on Firebirds in the evening and morning when it’s cool. Otherwise, I can’t concentrate and end up ripping out all that I knit.

To get out of the heat, this afternoon, I went over to Fusion Beads thinking I might pick up some beads to make some of those fancy stitch markers.

For this project, I’ve been using one to mark the back of the sweater so I don’t forget to flip the repeat (birds on the right side face right and ones on the left face left). I have no trouble keeping track of the front because the steeks are very noticeable. So, no stitch marker for the front.

Anyways, the stitch marker that I’m using came in the goodie bag give out at the  NwRA conference . Ordinarily I wouldn’t purchase such things but I work on this project I’ve grown fond of the one I have and like the feel of a metal marker. The colors even match the sweater.

So, as I was sifting through the packages of crystal beads at the store, I realized it was all quickly getting out of hand; I don’t need another hobby.  I leave the store with only a few plain sterling silver jump rings  that will work well with my new needles.

By the way, I noticed some excellent tutorials on Fusion Beads’ website, including this one on wire wrapping.

Firebirds started

Lowerbandneedles After a week of crunching numbers I finally got enough confidence to cast on. Figuring out how wide the body should be wasn’t a problem but I wasn’t sure about adjustments to the neckline. Luckily I got some help from a fellow knitter/blogger whose already tackled this pattern.

When I looked through my supply of 3.5mm circular needles I only found two 24″ and one 47″. I tried using the longer needle but quickly found it was way too large. I then tried using both 24″ needles but found the needle tips a bit troublesome to work around. I was about ready to make a trip to the yarn store for a new 40″ circular when my Knit Picks needles arrived.

A couple of weeks ago after reading all the positive comments about these needles on Knitter’s Review I decided to give them a try. I placed an order for some of the Classic Circular needles and one set of the Options Line needle tips and cords. Apparently, these needles are so popular that Knit Picks is having a hard time keeping up with orders.

So what do I think? After working several rows, I can say they’re much better than my Addi Turbo needles. The cables are wonderfully flexible and the tips are a bit sharper which makes two color knitting easier for me. I’m currently knitting with one of the needles with removable tips and so far haven’t had any trouble with them coming loose. Kudos to Knit Picks for taking knitting needle design one step further. By the way, Clara from KR has an excellent detailed review of these needles.

Better second time around

Firebirds_swatch3 I’m calling it good.

I increased needle size from 3.25 mm to 3.5 mm and also worked in the round, just as the sweater will be knitted.

Cast on is around the corner once I figure out how large to make the cardigan.

For those who aren’t familiar with patterns from VY, this specific pattern was originally printed in child sizes and the adult size comes as an addendum in the size ordered. I ordered an XL to make sure I have enough yarn but requested the addendum for a large. Now after pondering sizes and measuring all my sweaters, I think I should have asked for a medium.

This week I’ve been looking through every Fair Isle knitting book under the sun trying to get a handle on how to adjust this sweater to fit me.  Adjustments can be pretty vexing when one has a big difference between chest size and hip size. Since Fair Isle sweaters are just big boxes with no shaping for a feminine waist, there actually not that great for women with my type of body shape. While I know this, I still want to go forge ahead and knit this beautiful sweater.

Traditionally the motifs should line up around the body, centered on the back and front and matching at the shoulders. Keeping this in mind, I think the best plan of action is to shorten body by several inches so the bottom edge hits above instead of below my hips. This way, the total circumference will be closer to my chest size and I won’t have to worry about it fitting over my hips.

Wild fiber


Just rolled in from spending the past week hanging around “wild fiber” in Yellowstone.
The highlight of the week was getting the opportunity to stay at the
Lamar Buffalo Ranch and take a class called “The Carnivore Conservation Challenge”  from the Yellowstone Association

Early in the week I came across decent quantities of buffalo fiber left on the ground near a picnic point in Hayden Valley but I resisted the urge to take any.  Later in the week I had a chance to ask a ranger whether it was OK to take buffalo fiber. She confirmed that it isn’t allowed. I could look but not take it out of the park.

The gift shop at the ranch had some lovely stocking caps for sale from a local company called Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company. Hang tags on the caps mentioned that the company uses locally raised predator friendly wool. I’ve known for some time that ranchers weren’t keen on loosing livestock to wolves and bears but wasn’t aware that there was a program to recognize products that use predator friendly methods to raise their livestock. One of the teachers mentioned that it’s hard to get ranchers interested in having their product labeled “predator friendly” since calves are usually sold to large feed lots with many other cattle. This makes it hard to distinguish between ones raised on predator friendly ranches or non-friendly ranches.

This whole topic is very new to me and has got me thinking more about the wool I use. I’d like to do a little more research on the topic.

Firebirds_swatch2Like every vacation, I usually have grand ideas about getting lots of knitting done while traveling in the car or plane. As usual, I was only able to manage a small fraction of what I had planned. This time I only managed to knit a swatch of the Firebirds cardigan.

Instead of knitting the swatch in-the-round, I decided to knit it flat as described in the pattern, which I gather is the more traditional “Fair Isle” way. Using a circular needle I started each row with new strands of yarn and cut them at the end of each row. In this way each row is knitted in stockinette (no purl rows) and is suppose to mimic knitting in the round without having work twice as many stitches.

Notice the long yarn ends? I think it’s unusual to leave them so long, but cutting the ends made me nervous about loose edges so I kept them long.

The swatch turned out to be very tight ,~ 9 sts X 9 rows per inch. I’m was aiming for about 7 sts per inch.  After measuring this swatch I started to regret not knitting it in my usual manner (in-the-round). I suspect that managing all those ends made my tension tighter than it really is. This week I’ll work another swatch but this time do it “in-the-round”. Hopefully I won’t use up too much yarn trying to get a “good” swatch.

Life goes on

It’s been a quite week.Thief_1

Pacific NW Sunday Magazine has a touching article about loosing a pet. Many of the author’s sentiments about her dog are similar to what I’ve been feeling about my relationship with Toby.

Thanks for all your messages.

Time will lessen the pain.


Firebirds_yarn_1Ever since I saw  Vanessa’s version of Firebirds at Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat last February, I’ve been thinking about ordering it from Virtual Yarns. She did an amazing job.

The photos on the VY
website don’t convey the full beauty of these sweaters. You have to see them in person to appreciate the amazing colors. Vanessa has made several of them and all were truly stunning.

Fi_feetEarlier this week I kept plugging away at the socks. After finishing the foot and heel of the second sock I realized that the toe of the first one was a bit sloppy so I ripped it out and started over.

Yesterday, I finally started the leg but didn’t get very far before ripping it out after trying one on. The ankle was just too tight with the two color stranding. I remedied the problem by increasing four stitches on the first row after finishing the heel.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going to the NWRSA conference in Tacoma. I’ll be taking “Variations on a Theme, Part II” with Myrna Stahman and “Spinning for Socks” with Carol Rhoades. Myrna is working on another book that I’ve been looking forward to seeing. Maybe she’ll have more info on when it will be available. Last year she displayed the most amazing lace nightgown.