March 28, 2008

10k in the snow?

Don and I are "racing" tomorrow in the Running of the Fools 10k in Longview. I thought the hardest part would be the distance. Now, I think running in the snow and sleet will turn out to be the harsh part. It's snowed the last two mornings.

When it wasn't snowing, it was raining, except when it was hailing.

Blossoms in snow are pretty.

We won’t need to put ice in our hats to keep from overheating. Hope they’ll serve hot cocoa and muffins after the race.

March 27, 2008


This morning it was snowing. By 2 p.m. the sun was shining and pink cherry blossoms were standing out against a blue, white and gray sky.

Here is my blue, white and gray sweater in progress (shot in black and white). It took two days to knit and is taking two months to sew together…

March 26, 2008

March 23, 2008

With apologies to Apple, Speck, Razor, and Dick

It is sometimes said that names are a self-fulfilling prophecy. If this is true, parents should quit giving their children names like, Apple, Speck, Razor, and Dick. Sure, a baby Apple, Speck, Razor, or Dick is very cute, but will it be so nice when the prophecy is fulfilled, and you have a fully mature, adult Apple, Speck, Razor, or Dick standing there in front of you?

I am sincerely sorry if, dear reader, I insulted you because you or yours are called one of these names. But, if you are an Apple, Speck, Razor, or Dick, drop me a comment about the veracity of the self-fulfilling-prophecy theory.

Because, I’ve been wondering about it ever since I caught the fever of the Must Have Cardigan. I didn’t like it much when I first saw the sweater. It seemed like a box with cables, and I never cared much for cables or for wearing boxes.

Then I saw a detailed photo of the stitch pattern on the Yarn Harlot’s Must Have, and that turned me. The cables and seed stitch stood out like a soft, relief sculpture. It looked beautiful.

I started musing about how a hard marble sculpture can look like soft flesh, and soft yarn can look as if it’s carved from stone. That made me want to knit the cardigan even if it looked like a box. Luckily, it turned out less boxy than I feared.

Pattern: Must Have Cardigan from Patons Street Smart booklet, size small.
Needles: size 7 for the body, size 6 for the ribbing and waist.
Yarn: 5 skeins of Valley Yarns Northampton in Merlot Heather
Modifications: Increased the body length 1 inch. Increased sleeve length .5 inch. Knit the fronts and back on one long circular. Added waist shaping by knitting with one size smaller needles somewhere around the waist. Mirrored the cables. Cast on full number of stitches from the get-go instead of increasing after ribbing.

March 20, 2008

Fatheads vs. Bigheads

When I was born, I was very young. So, back then, I could be forgiven for not knowing everything about everybody. But, I shared a room with my sister. I should have learned a thing or two about her. I hardly know her at all. For instance, I never knew she was a big fan of Star Wars. I was surprised when she asked me to knit her an R2D2 beanie.

The hat is nearing completion, but I’m worried it will be too big. My sister claims to have a big head. I know I have a fat head. The hat’s a little loose on me. So, which is bigger? A bighead or a fathead?

7:37 p.m. addition: After knitting and thinking some more, I've decided that a fathead is bigger, which means I need to make the hat smaller. I ripped the beanie out.

March 17, 2008

Sewing a zipper into a sweater

Here’s how I converted the Urban Aran pullover into a zippered cardigan.

Preparations: Divide the stitches for the front into two equal parts. Add 3 stitches to each center front. The first stitch of each row is slipped to form a turned under edge. The remaining 2 stitches will cover the zipper. Knit the fronts. Block the fronts.

Get a zipper. I recommend a two-way zipper because they’re two-times more versatile. Preshrink your zipper. You don’t want anything changing size after your zipper’s sewn in. You can add the zipper as soon as the fronts are done.

Sew it in
  1. Pin the center front edges together. The edges should just meet, not overlap. I used stitch markers, and joined the two pieces every ten rows, more or less. It pays to be meticulous before any sewing happens. It’s easier to reposition stitch markers than to dig out a tiny disappearing line of sewing thread.

  2. Baste the fronts with contrasting yarn, removing the stitch markers as you go. Baste with an even tension. Don’t warp the edges by sewing tight. Basting will stabilize your pieces so that nothing shifts before positioning the zipper. This step will be easier if you didn’t skip step one.

  3. Turn the sweater inside out. Place the zipper face down on the sweater. The zipper teeth should match the center seam. Pin the zipper to the sweater.

    Note: you can see in the photo below that the zipper is buckling a little. That's because the zipper is a fraction of an inch longer than the sweater. The cables make the center a little shorter than the rest of the sweater, so I stretched it a wee bit so everything matched. It's a judgment call, figuring out if you should stretch the centers, or work in the ease. Depends on the yarn and pattern.

  4. Whipstitch the edges of the zipper tape to the sweater with sewing thread. Make sure this doesn’t show on the public side of the sweater. As you stitch, look at the edge of the tape and make sure it stays parallel to the center rows of the sweater. If you see a row curving out, as in the above photo, nudge it straight with your finger as you sew.

    I like to whipstich before actually sewing the zipper in. It’s like basting and finishing at the same time. Get rid of the pins. Now your zipper is positioned, flat, and ready to be sewn.
  5. Turn the sweater right-side out. Pull out the basting yarn. If you leave it in, it could cause a little wave in your seam. The whipstitch should hold everything in place.
  6. Turn the sweater inside out. Starting at the bottom of one side, using sewing thread, start a line of stitching. Sew as close to the zipper teeth as possible while still allowing free movement of the zipper pulls—about 1/4 inch. Test the zipper action before sewing too far. Up, down. Up, down. Good job. Use whatever stitch gives you a feeling of confidence. I used a backstitch. Mind the tension.
  7. Do whatever you need to do—fold, tuck, trim—to make the top edge of the zipper neat.
  8. Enjoy satisfying two-way zipper action!

This is the method that works for me (pictures of the finished sweater in this post). But, if this seems like a crummy way of doing things, check out these other tutorials.

For detailed advice in determining what zipper length to use, go here. If you need to know how to shorten a zipper, go here. If you’d just like to look at another zipper tutorial, go here.

Final Caveat: Don’t trim a zipper before you create a new zipper stop. If you do, your zipper-pull will fall off. Feels like there should be a punch line here.

March 10, 2008

You can't fluff the floor

How will I ever finish the Must Have if I’m ripping out rows as fast as I'm knitting them?

Perhaps I should put it aside and knit a mindless project. Ziggy could use a soft, fluffy, hand-knit cat bed.

Then again, he seems pretty content with the floor. Maybe he'd prefer an attractive, ribbed pullover, like this one:

Get the free pattern at

March 8, 2008

It's been fun, L'il Mouse

A knitting project can start stinking if it sits unfinished too long. Even if it’s not actually sitting, but steadily growing, it can sometimes feel like it’s starting to rot. This week, when my knitting reached the armpits of the Must Have Cardigan, it started to smell.

Must Have, it’s not you. It’s me. I’ve noticed a troubling pattern in my relationships to sweaters-in-progress. By the time I knit from the hem to the armhole shaping, I’m fighting off boredom. And, when I think of the future, the sleeves, the seaming, the blocking, I begin to feel trapped. My eye starts wandering to other yarns, other possibilities.

Exacerbating my disillusionment with the Must Have this week, is my failing eyesight. I’ve been having trouble seeing the stitches. I’ve been making mistakes. I’ve been feeling middle-aged.

So, to relieve my ennui, I bought “Amigurumi: Super Happy Crochet Cute.” Just looking at the Hep Cat pattern cheered me up a bit, though I’m holding off starting it until I’m done with my sweater. I did have a fling with Mightly L’il Mouse. I feel much better for it.

Ziggy feels better, too.