Saturday, October 13, 2007

Long time no post

I know, I know, long time no post.

No excuses.

But . . .

Late July to November is "crush season" if you live with a wine guy. He works. I work, kids finish up their camps and start school (one in high school, one in first grade--OY!). The Jewish holidays come, and come, and come. And I knit. So the time for blogging is . . .when???

A lot of life has happened between the needles.

I took the girlz on a mini-vacation to Grandma's house in the L.A. area. The highlight of our trip, for the littlest one and me was a trip to the new Getty Museum. If you are in the L.A. area and sick of emptying your wallet for various attractions, this has to be the best bargain south of the North Pole. For the price of parking your car (about $8), everyone you can stuff in your car can get into the museum all day. There is so much to see and do, surrounded by incredible architechture and views in addition to the breathtaking and illuminating artwork. If I lived down there, I would spend every free moment at the Getty.

JB and I love the Impressionists, and they have a lovely gallery filled with impressionist paintings, heavy on the Monet (but only one of the Giverney paintings, which have become a bit cliche' for me). Each Monet is hung next to another artist's painting of similar subject, so that you can compare and contrast styles of Monet's contemporaries. It was a wonderful way to see them.

Shortly after our return, E started high school with much tepidation, but it has gone very well. For the most part she has wonderful teachers, and she's settled in with her group of friends and activities.

A week later, JB started 1st grade. She was very fortunate to have her kindergarten teacher move up to first grade with the entire class, and so that has been a smooth and easy transition. Not only that, but she entered first grade as a fluent reader, reading well above her grade level. She is so excited, she cannot get enough to read. She did it all herself, and it was excitinng to see.

Harvest started in the August heat, fast and furious for two weeks, and then we had some cool weather and things slowed down to a dull roar. I think it's been a nice pace this year. Some years, harvest is very late, and very fast in a snap of very hot weather. Some years, harvest is very slow--the weather never gets that warm and it goes on forever. Growers wait until afternoon to pick to get the sugar levels of the grapes as high as possible, so the trucks come in the late afternoon and evening and I never see my husband. This year it has been a very nice pace, the grapes come early in the day for the most part, and WG actually gets home for dinner (albeit a very late dinner some nights).

Work has been crazy busy for me, especially with all the missed time for our mini vacation, doctor trips for JB and for me, holidays, high holy days, etc. Many evenings I've brought home work and stayed up waaaay to late doing it.

Last weekend, WG and I attended my 30th high school reunion. Boy was that weird!

But I have managed to knit.

One Everlasting Bagstopper (, Summer 2007) finished.

And another started.

Work continues, sporadically on the MS3. I waited a long time to decide if I wanted to do the wing.

I made a mistake a few rows back, and I haven't tinked back, so it's just waiting right now.

Oh, I started a charity knitting group--and this was my first project:

This is the Haiku Sweater from I think it's easier and faster than the 5 hour Baby Sweater. I still need to sew on two buttons.

I got some new gadgets!

I have fallen in love with Clover markers that are like safety pins only plastic. They are a great help on he wing portion of the MS3, since the center stitch moves. I can move the markers easily, and they don't tarnish like coilless safety pins.

And, yes, those are the new Knit Picks Harmony Options Needles. They took a wonderful product and made it better! I am so impressed that they made the harmony set fit the basic Options cables and accessories. I would have been very upset if I had to buy a whole new thing. I can buy the needles pair by pair and gradually add it to my set. The needles are beautiful to look at, lightweight, sharp, and smooth. They are bliss to knit with.

My reunion was in the Monterey area. We stayed with Susan in the woods in Carmel--it was lovely. WG picked up Susan's Magic 8 Ball and asked the question "will we visit a yarn store today?" The answer "Without a Doubt". LOL! So we just HAD to visit Monarch Knits in Pacific Grove, which is one of my all-time favorite not so LYS. I got a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarns and now I'm knitting this:

It's Judy Gibson's "You're Putting me On" generic sock ( ) adapted for Magic Loop. What a great pattern!

I may not have been doing my blog, but I've been reading others, and posting comments. Ryan called me her ESBFF-, that's like a celebrity!!!!! I'm so excited ;o)

And my number came up on Ravelry. Look for me there as--surprise-- Janknitz.

It will take some time to get up and going there, but what fun it will be!

I'll try to post more frequently, promise!

P.S. Please forgive the photos. My hard drive died and terrible death. I have a new hard drive, and most of my stuff was backed up, but not the photo editing program I used to use. So these photos are unedited and really NEED editing. My apologies!

Monday, July 9, 2007

To Know Thyself

Knitters often debate whether they are “process” or “product” knitters—whether they enjoy the process of knitting more than the product they produce or vice versa. I like to think of myself as a process knitter, but it’s a mixed bag.

A process knitter doesn’t mind ripping back to correct mistakes, because it’s the act of knitting that is enjoyed more than the finished project. A product knitter goes full steam ahead, because the part a product knitter enjoys is the finished product—small imperfections are not a problem. A process knitter tends to be more of a perfectionist—he or she would rather get it right than get it done. A product knitter will often use big needles and fat yarn, to get to the product faster. A product knitter may especially enjoy felting, because it hides minor imperfections and is usually a quick knit.

Although I like to think of myself as a process knitter, lately I think I’ve become more of a product knitter. Perhaps it’s the shoulder pain that limits my knitting time these days. If I can finish something quickly, I get the satisfaction of knitting and don’t have to be in a lot of pain for it. I seem to be doing a lot of felt projects and things with a large gauge lately--maybe that’s why.

Bag for my new Treo--pre felting:

My latest FO is a bag for when I only want to carry my Smartphone around instead of my whole purse.

But, this past week I got bitten by the Mystery Stole 3 (MS3) bug thanks to that Harlot, the hussy! Almost SEVEN THOUSAND people around the world have gotten caught up in this project.

(Don’t worry, if you haven’t already been bitten, you can’t get involved now, since sign ups have closed. So you can’t blame ME for getting you hooked like that Harlot hooked me!) But, if you really want to, you can buy the pattern when it comes up for sale in a few months, neener, neener, neener . . .

I looked at it thinking “no way”, and 20 minutes later I was signed up. I had the yarn (KnitPicks laceweight merino and the beads, so all I really needed was a #13 crochet hook to put on the beads. (The hook on this crochet hook is so small that I cannot even see it with my over 40 eyes. I just have to take it on faith that it's there!)

Of course, I ended up spending some money, but relatively little. The beads I had at home were a lovely purple. I decided that I didn’t necessarily want purple beads, so I justified buying a tube of beads. But., of course, who could decide what color was good? I bought THREE tubes of beads. Ecru beads that perfectly match the yarn, clear beads with a pale pink sheen, and some opaque beads in an ashes of roses kind of shade. Ultimately, I decided on the ecru beads.

I printed out the first clue and put it in a 3 ring binder and optimistically cast on.

Somewhere around row 15, I made an unredeemable mistake and had to frog and start again. Same thing around row 25. Aaarrrrggghhh!!!!!!!

Then I got going very well. but around row 59, I made an error. I fudged. Then another error and another fudge. Slightly noticeable but not too bad.

Around row 65 my count was way off. Tink and redo. Still off. Tinked back a few rows to redo. Still off, and oops, there’s a dropped stitch, darn it. Tink, redo, fudge a little. Oops, I did a pattern row on the wrong side, two rows ago. Tink, redo, fudge some more. Back on track, I think.

I hold it up. It does not look like the ones all the uber* knitters have posted of their finished clues #1 and 2 (show offs!). Theirs are perfect and beautiful and in lovely colors of yarn and beads. They had time to pin their results on blocking boards to show the lovely pattern, and take great photos of their perfect work. Some ubers posted their photos of the finished clue #2 THE SAME DAY THE CLUE WAS POSTED. Don’t these people have lives????

Mine was imperfect. Not symmetrical. Didn’t look right. I tried to ignore it. Forget about it. It’s such a small part that it won’t show up on the whole completed project. Very much . . . Even though I will know it’s there and point it out to anyone who makes the mistake of complimenting me on it.

Oh &^^%$#@

I spent most of Sunday (when I was supposed to be cleaning house--big tragedy there) tinking, redoing, fudging, and HATING myself for my imperfect knitting. I tried to clean house, I swear I did. But I kept going back to the knitting. WG was giving me those looks as he completed all of HIS chores and a few of mine. While I sat there doing nothing (knitting). At one point I finally realized how much this was bugging me. It was bugging me A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somehow, fixing this knitting was as important as saving the world to me. The more I picked at the knitting, the worse it became. I got frustrated, didn’t eat when it was time because I wanted to fix the knitting instead so my blood sugar dropped. I was ready to scream at one point, wanting to yell at my little one and my husband for breathing when I was trying to concentrate on this thing.

My frustration wasn’t all about the knitting.

I am amazed at how much it bothered me. I think it’s echoing something in my work that had some mistakes in it. Nothing crucial, but I work in an adversarial environment, and the adversary in this case took enormous satisfaction in pointing out each and every mistake again and again and again. I am in the process of making corrections on that, but it’s like cleaning yourself out for a colonoscopy. A rough and embarrassing process. And somehow, that knitting became the stand in for what’s happening in my work.

And so, I ripped. All the way back to row 27, which I knew was correct and the stitch count was just right.

Once I ripped back to a place where I was sure of myself, I felt a lot better. A weight lifted off my shoulders. A queasy feeling in my stomach eased up. I could breathe again. I didn’t feel like dirt. I did some more chores around the house. I felt human again.

I really want to play MS3 with all these other knitmates in the world, so I have to prepare for the long haul. When I get to row 500, there’s no way I’m going to frog it all because of a mistake. So while I try to build in steps to avoid the mistakes in the first place (color coding the rows, using visual aids to keep my eyes on the correct row, double checking stitch counts, etc.), I’m also building ways to correct things before they get out of hand with lifelines (thanks to KnitPicks Options [insert link to my KPO blogpost here] this is very easy to do by threading the lifeline through the tightening hole on the right hand needle). And I’ve been adding a lifeline every 10 rows from there, so I’ll never have to rip back more than 10 rows again. My MS3 will be as well-done as the uber-knitters’, and nobody has to know it took me 4 times as long with much ripping and reknitting along the way, while the uber knitters just churned out perfect rows without a thought.

My high school biology teacher once asked, “why do we study biology?” The answer was “to know thyself”. Why do I knit? Turns out I learned something about myself this weekend while working on the MS3. Maybe it’s not about process or product for me. Maybe it’s about who I am. . .

MS3, about row 73
Not perfect.

But working on it.


* If you are one of those uber knitters and you are reading this, please don’t take offense. I am just jealous. I really admire you very much. But how in the heck do you have time to read my blog and get all that knitting done too???

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wine for knitters

Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, came to our neck of the woods. ( She came all the way from Toronto, Canada to Petaluma, California to promote her newest book, The Yarn Harlot Casts Off, right here in our county!

She was delightfully funny and entertaining. Operating on almost NO sleep (see her blog for details), she still managed to project her warm humor to hundreds of people who showed up to hear her. And she stayed at Copperfields bookstore until past 10:30 p.m. to make sure everyone who wanted to got her autograph in their book. She had about a one hour drive back to her hotel in San Francisco, and a 3 a.m. wake-up call to get to the airport to catch her flight on to Seattle the next morning. But still, she remained gracious and kept her good humor. Amazing.

I wanted to share a bit of the wine country with her. WG, as you've probably guessed, works for a winery, so we have no shortage of wine around here. In fact, it's threatening to take over our house. Soon we'll be forced to do what one of the employees of another winery WG worked at did--make furniture out of the cases of wine he was given by the winery in lieu of decent pay.

But what wine to give? Stephanie did not respond to my queries about what wine she likes. I'm not upset, given the huge volume of mail she must deal with every day (she regularly receives HUNDREDS of comments to each of her blog posts). I know she likes beer, but had no idea what kind of wine. Red, white, pink? Sweet or dry? Light or bold???

Finally, it hit me.

(You might have to click the picture to read the label and see what the wine is called)

Well, duh!

The wine maker and WG graciously signed the bottle for her, and I included a corkscrew in case she felt the need to drink it before schlepping it back to Canada.

But just in case,

I whipped up this felted wine tote to protect the bottle in her luggage.

Incidentally, Jazmine, the brain-damaged dog is overly fond of stealing my knitting and chewing on it. so this is what I had to rig up to dry the tote after felting:

Oh, and here's the "before" picture:

The tote was a little wide--I just guessed--but it serves the purpose. I hope Stephanie enjoys it as much as I enjoy her books and her visit here.


Stay tuned--next time more felting.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

My Ratty Old Sweater

This is my ratty old sweater. I knit it about 10 years ago. I love this sweater.

It’s made out of Woolease, so I can throw it in the wash.

It pills.

So what?

(Except for the time it needed an emergency wash (for reasons I’d rather not say), tossed it in the wash with whatever was in there—happened to be WG’s lab towels, and it picked up a million little WHITE balls of towel lint that I’m STILL picking off).

It’s got a small but unnoticeable tear in the button band.

So what?

It’s lost its buttons permanently.

So what?

It’s a little misshapen from many washings (it looked very nice when it was new, HONEST!!!!!!!), but

So what?

It’s warm, it’s soft, it fits over anything. It has huge pockets that hold tons of tissues when I or the little one has a cold. It’s there when I need it, and I love it. It’s everything a sweater should be. The ultimate comfort sweater.

Here are the particulars:

Title: Diagonal Jacket_

Pattern: Knitters 22, Spring 1991, page 28

Designer:Nadia Severns

Yarn: Woolease Sprinkles

Color: Various colors which have now been mostly discontinued

Gauge: 4 stitches to the inch

Needles: Not sure of the size (probably US6), but I think they were 40” Susan Bates Circulars—I used those coated aluminum ones in those days.

Size: Large

Changes: I knit this all in one piece, which made it challenging because of the intarsia. At one point, there were 22 of those round, doughnut shaped plastic bobbins (EZ Bobs-- hanging off this thing.

The doughnuts made the whole thing heavy and awkward. I called it the “octopus”.
My workplace had a retreat and I brought it to knit on during the discussions. Trying to follow the conversation and wrestle with all of those bobbins was a challenge. But my coworkers were understanding, and it was really COLD at the retreat center, so I had a nice, warm thing on my lap.

Notice how there are little side vents? Because I chose to knit it in one piece, I had to cast on provisionally at a point where all the bottom edges met. I knit up to the armholes before separating out the fronts from the back. I completed the fronts and the back and joined the shoulders together in three needle bind off. Then knit the sleeves down from the shoulders, but back and forth rather than in the round because of the intarsia. When all of that was done, I went to the bottom, picked up the provisionally cast on stitches, and knit down each section to form the vents. The whole thing was finished off with a round of applied I-cord.
This was the first time I did knit-in pockets and they came out great.

There are a few hidden tweaks. I added some short row shaping in the back of the neck for a better fit. I had just taken a class about short row shaping from Sally Melville at SW, so I knew what I was doing. Not sure if I even know how to do that today if it’s not written into the pattern. I was much smarter back then!

The other tweak is that I missed two stitches on one side of the pink stair step located at the top of the back—very noticeable, but not, unfortunately, until I’d finished the entire back. Instead of ripping, I decided to duplicate stitch where those stitches went. It looks absolutely perfect from the front, but if you look closely on the inside, you can see the repair.



Blocking: Minimal damp blocking on towels on the living room floor.

Buttons: A friend of mine let me raid her button collection for some large old black round buttons. They may even have been bakelite. But they have all lost their shanks in various washings and fallen off, so now I wear it without buttons.

What I liked: Knitting with Woolease was really pleasant. I couldn’t afford the Takhi called for in the pattern, but the Woolease was soft and knit smoothly and easily. And the whole sweater cost about $40.

Knitting in one piece to avoid most of the seaming was a good strategy. I’f I’d had to deal with bobbins and matching all those color blocks, I’d have shot myself! This way, they all match, PERFECTLY and smoothly.

I love all the colors in this pattern. I like that it’s washable. I won second prize in the county fair for this sweater. It’s the only thing I ever entered, and I was very excited to win and see it on display.

What I didn’t like: I hate intarsia, and this sweater is a lot of the reason why. This is not something that you can have little butterflies with a yard or two of yarn. Since I was carrying the pattern across each front and the back, each bobbin had to be filled with many yards of yarn to avoid having to add yarn in the middle of a color change. It was heavy with yarn bobbins that clackered together and were unwieldy. But, the results were worth it.

It took me about 5 months to finish this sweater. I finished it (sewing up, weaving in the ends, blocking) on the hottest day of the YEAR. It made just trying it on unpleasant, but then I was able to resist wearing it before I entered it in the county fair. Overall Impression: This sweater has been my faithful companion for perhaps 10 years now. I love it and I’m happy I knit it. Would I knit this again? Not likely because of the intarsia, but I wish I could wave my magic wand and make it new again.

Stay tuned. Next post is about what kind of wine to give a knitter for a gift.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

I've been tagged!

Well, I can’t believe that it’s been almost a month since I posted. A lot of life has happened between these posts, so I hope you’ll forgive me. That’s the way it’s going to be with this blog—work and kid commitments got in the way.

E had four performances in the school play, Wizard of Oz, and a dance recital. She did a great job and it was fun to watch the whole cast of Wizard of Oz. This jr. high class wrote the script, put together the sets, auditioned for the parts, etc. and did a great job! I made the tree costumes and helped a little bit with costumes and makeup (most of her classmates are smart enough to know I’m NOT the right person to do elaborate makeup!).

JB had her kindergarten performance and she was, at long last, VIP in her classroom. This was long-anticipated. Because JB’s birthday is during Thanksgiving week (a short week to begin with and also with minimum days) and because there were two other kids with birthdays within a day or two of hers, she had to wait to be the last kid to be VIP in her entire class, so it was a BIG DEAL.

First we had to host “Bobo” and “Betty”, the class teddy bears for the weekend. We included them in all of our activities and “journaled” (I think elementary school teachers have made this a verb!) about their visit, including photos and hand drawn pictures. Bobo and Betty enjoyed Friday night Shabbat dinner with us, attended Tot Shabbat at our congregation's brand NEW synagogue, and the 113th annual Santa Rosa Rose parade from the luxury of my office balcony.

(Bobo enjoying the Santa Rosa Rose parade from my office balcony.)

Then each family member had to visit the classroom and amaze and awe the kids with something about us. JB was asked what she likes most to do with me, and her answer was “go to Starbucks”. Oh, oh. I think we need a life (considering the last time we went to Starbucks was last fall!). Since someone in my profession already visited--my work was deemed "boring", so I did knitting and spindle spinning. Most of the kids got to have their pets visit, but Jazmine is not well-behaved enough to do that. So we took the class pictures of her, instead.

I asked the kids if they knew where yarn comes from and they all answered “the store”. First, I had the kids take apart a piece of yarn to see how it’s constructed. Then I gave them each a small piece of roving to try twisting and plying. Then I showed them other fibers—silk, cotton, etc and showed them what I knit out of those yarns. They seemed to like it, but the next day WG came in with homemade rootbeer and I was passé!

E even made a visit to JB’s classroom. When the teacher asked her what she liked most about her sister, E’s answer was “she’s always happy, even if it is pretty annoying”.

Not a lot of knitting this month. I’m still doing a few rows here and there on the feather and fan stole, but my shoulders have been really giving me problems.

Tag, you're it!

If you've been tagged by me, here are the rules:

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

I got tagged by KnitCrazy, so here are my seven things about me:

1. I am a very smart woman. I know this because I was smart enough to wait for the right person to come along, and even smarter that I recognized him right away and married him.

2. I grew up on the island of Okinawa, which is now part of Japan. I didn’t appreciate it very much then, but now I wish I could go back and see it again.

3. When we lived on Okinawa, we had a maid (sounds elitist now, but all the American civilians stationed there had one). She crocheted lacy doilies with an impossibly small steel hook. I wanted to crochet too, so she gave me a hook and some thread when I was about 6. I managed-- after weeks of work--an impossibly tight chain of about 12 stitches. I crocheted a little in high school and college.

4. My aunt from Florida came to visit when I was about 14. When she was there, I got very sick and had to stay in bed for about 2 weeks. She taught me to knit and I knit a small square for an afghan—never knit any of the other squares, so it was a very small afghan! I thought it was great, but I didn’t pick up the needles again for many years.

5. My husband and I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii shortly after marrying. I was “underemployed” there and had a lot of time to do crafts. Somehow I got the knitting bug—even though it was really too warm to wear knits or enjoy knitting. I seriously contemplated getting a knitting machine—they were actually pretty popular there. I knit a few small things there, but really didn’t know what I was doing. It was unpleasant knitting with wool and acrylic in the sticky heat.

6. We moved back to Northern California shortly before my first daughter was born. She was born in the middle of December and it was cold. So I got some (acrylic) yarn, some needles, and a Leisure Art book and knit her a cute little cap. The knitting bug had bitten, and I’ve never looked back.

7. I have more needles, patterns in books and magazines, and yarn than I can ever expect to knit in a single lifetime. Or two, or three. I think I’m going to incorporate what should happen to my knitting stuff into my will.

I tagged the following people:

I hope you all ENJOY sharing seven things--this is meant to be fun, not a chore. I read your blogs and love you all.

I'm going to TRY to be better about posting more frequently. I have something in mind for the next post (perhaps tomorrow) and we got a new digital camera which should make it much easier to post in the future.

Happy Memorial Day!


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Just what I needed!!!

There's a lot of stuff I SHOULD have been doing this weekend . . .

. . .

but what I DID was go yarn shopping.

I was just in one of those moods. Itchy fingers. Nothing in my stash was going to satisfy me.

With the surplice being done, there was nothing urgent on the needles (we're not counting those noisy old NFO's!). I'm having a lot of shoulder pain these days (an old football injury ;o), so knitting with the cotton for the linen stitch placemats is NOT A GOOD IDEA. I wanted to knit something soft and pretty.

At first I thought socks, but summer is coming. My feet will be too swollen to wear good socks for months, and nobody in my family will wear wool socks until next winter.

So I spent a lovely hour browsing my LYS (it's small!) and found these two balls of Fiddlesticks Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool Silk. It's soft as butter and a lovely, heathery purple called "Elderberry" (Makes me hungry for toast and jam when I knit). I thought about a lot of patterns (almost decided on the Fiddlesticks Flower basket pattern), but IT wanted to be a feather and fan stole.

Lace knitting is cheap knitting. You get a lot of yardage and knitting satisfaction for not too much money. And you get a lot of oohs and ahhs for a few yarn overs and Knit two togethers. What could be better?

OK, I can do that.

The pattern is basic feather and fan, in particular the Lace 1,2, 3 pattern free from the Knitpicks website (Scroll down to the bottom to where it says "download free pattern").

I added 5 garter stitches on each edge, and I plan to knit it halfway, remove the KPO needles and hold the yarn on the cable (Love the KPO's!) to knit a second, identical half and kitchener them together. This will be a light stole to wear in the office when the AC makes it chilly in the summer.

It's lovely yarn to knit--the silk content gives a nice sheen but does not take away the yarn's spring--so it's easy on the hands and shoulders. The knitting goes quite fast. This yarn is so soft and cuddly that I could sleep with it--but I don't think WG would understand.

I love feather and fan. 3 out of 4 pattern rows are mindless, and the one row that takes concentration takes very little.

This is my feather and fan row counter. It's got four glass beads in shades of purple (elderberry?) on a lobster claw, connected to an eyeglass "thingie". I really only needed two beads, but didn't figure that out until later.

Here's how it works: On row 1, I pull down just one bead. That tells me I'm on row 1, knit acress between markers. On the back side, I'm on row 2, purl across between markers.

On row 3, two more beads get pulled down (three beads, three rows, get it?) and I know that's the pattern row. The back side of that is row 4, another knit across row. Then all but one bead get slid back up to begin row 1 again. Two beads would have been enough, but it's no big deal. This is the second F&F project I've used it on. It's a pretty marker, light weight, and works well (as long as I remember to use it every odd row--ERK!). I also have rubber ring markers between each pattern repeat, so almost no thinking is required at all, even on the pattern row.

Right now it's very portable in my ultrasuede drawstring bag, but will outgrow that before it's done. We'll see what it wants to be carried in then.

The lone LYS is really a quilting and sewing machine store where they've devoted about 25% to knitting and crochet. On the wall was a stunning quilt. I think it was called a "candleflame". OMG, it was gorgeous. I admit to being a bit jealous. I love quilts, but HATE quilting--it's too fussy and picky to me--not easily portable, and too dependent on machines. Plus, those needles are SHARP!!!!!!!!!!.

But quilters can paint with color in a way that can't be easily replicated with knitting. Intarsia is a PITA, and--though I really enjoy doing it--Fair Isle is not as versatile and it costs too much to have a broad pallette of colors. The fabrics that are out there for quilting are stunning. So I'll just have to be jealous and knit on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FO, FO, FO, FO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Ruffled Surplice from IK is done. (Photos added Saturday, April 21. Blogger is finally working again!)

This is actually an historic FO, (my computer keeps trying to turn FO into OF!) because not only did I finish something, but I finished it while the magazine publishing the pattern was still on the newsstands. I am a process knitter and work in slow mode. This is a new record for me. Hey, they could use me for a Comcast Slowski commercial.

Here is my review of the Ruffled Surplice

Title: Ruffled Surplice

Pattern: Interweave Knits, Spring 2007, pages 90 to 94

Designer: Mari Lynn Patrick

Yarn: Southwick Valley Yarns (from Webs booth at Stitches West) 52% Pima Cotton, 48% Bamboo (9 balls used—approximately 945 yards)

Color: 12 (medium pink) Lot 8161

Gauge: 4.5 stitches to the inch

Needles: US #5 Knitpicks Options Needles with 40” cord.

Size: Estimated 1 size smaller than smallest women’s size in pattern

1. Body sewn together and sleeves knit from armholes down. This require insertion of a gusset under the arms. Sleeves knit longer than pattern provided for at E’s request.
2. Sleeves altered so that instead of a horizontal band of stitching between bottom of sleeve and ruffle, non-textured stitch used like ribbing.
3. Increases for ruffles done by knit in front and back of stitch instead of yarn overs.
4. Tie on left side originates at left side seam instead (less to knit and I think it gives a neater appearance to the already fitted sweater. A long, heavy tie would tend to sag). Consequently, no belt loop necessary.

Blocking: Minimal steam blocking of side seams when body was sewn together.

What I liked: This was a relatively quick item to knit (still took me 2 months). The textured stitch was interesting in the bamboo cotton blend yarn. I like the fitted appearance and the integrated border.

What I didn’t like: The pattern was difficult to follow without writing out the rows because of increasing and decreasing on both sides at the same time to do the neck and shoulder shapings. Difficult to secure the slippery yarn.

Overall Impression: A nice knitting experience and a beautiful result.

Would I knit this again? Perhaps. I wouldn’t rule it out.

And, (drumroll, please), E LIKES the sweater and even told me “thank you” for knitting it. That’s a lot coming from a 14 year old! I even have a picture of her in it, SMILING (a teenager, smiling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but as I am not allowed to post a picture showing her face you'll have to trust me and use your imagnination.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The "To the Cottage" Fiasco

I have pictures.

I’m not showing them.

The next FO, working back in time, is the “To the Cottage Pullover” from Sally Melville’s The Purl Stitch book.

It’s a lovely sweater, really. I made it for my husband. I knit it in a lovely denim-like blue shade of Cascade 220 and stayed right on gauge.

For years he teased me for knitting all this stuff, but never a sweater for him.

That’s not entirely true. When the very first issue of Interweave Knits came out, I fell in love with the Tingwall Jumper featured in that issue. I bought the yarn pack (only $40, can you believe it???), and bravely started on this steeked, fair isle sweater with a corrugated ribbing.

Having absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I was still somewhat of a beginning knitter. Lower case knitter, all the way.

Somehow, after several trials and errors, I managed the corrugated ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and made my merry way up the body. My gauge was way off. I think I ripped this back to that corrugated ribbing and restarted perhaps six times before I finally got on gauge.

I made many mistakes along the way.


It became known as the “Tinkwall” because I tinked and frogged it so many darn times.

And somewhere in there, I started graduate school. I worked two jobs during the day and went to graduate school at night. Sometimes, WG would ask, “when is my sweater going to be done?” Do I get points for not killing him???

Then, in the middle of graduate school, I got pregnant. Had a baby (my second!). Continued grad school, continued working two jobs.

Yet, somehow, I managed the steek, and completed the first sleeve. The corrugated ribbing cuff on the sleeve is horrible, and needs to be frogged. My husband, dear Wine Guy, has short arms, and I had to come up with my own decrease ratio to get the sleeves the right length without being too wide.

I didn’t write it down.

After grad school, I started the second sleeve. The steek was fine, but about midway through the sleeve, I realized I had NO idea how to do the decreases so it would match the first sleeve.

And so, it sits.


For me to get a lobotomy.

Then I might pick it up again, rip the lousy cuff, fudge the second sleeve, and finish the darn thing. But don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, I knit the Cottage Pullover.

I am now a Knitter with a capital K.

I know how to get gauge and stay on it. I can follow a pattern and do complex things.

I got gauge, followed the pattern. Made a lovely placket on the Henley style pullover. Bought beautiful buttons and sewed them on. My original thought was to give it to WG for a Hanukkah 2006 present, but it wasn’t quite done. (I can easily work on things in front of him, because he doesn’t pay that much attention, and if he had, I’d have told him it was for me).

I finished it sometime in Mid-January of this year, I believe.

I gave it to him proudly.

He tried it on and said “it’s a little big in the neck”.

He was right. It was a very wide neck.

Huh? I know I was on gauge and followed the neckline directions EXPLICITLY! What the heck?

I kicked myself for making some dumb mistakes and tried to figure out how to fix it at this point, with almost no yarn left over and the seams all sewn.

Then I went back and looked at the pictures in the Purl Stitch book. When you look CLOSELY at the photos, you can see that the neck IS wide. The male model wears a collared shirt underneath, and there is a lot of space around the collar. The female model wears a scarf around her neck.

My Maggie Rhighetti alarm bells began to ring, waaaaaaaaay too late. In one of the early chapters of Knitting in Plain English, Maggie warns the reader against photos of garments where the details are obscured by the photography, a strategically placed scarf, or other devices that hide the poor shaping of the garment. I failed to notice the wide neck that was right there in front of me that whole time.


WG gamely wore the sweater a few times (around the house, never in public) and then put it away. I talked about taking it to the “Knit Doctor” when I attended Stitches West in February, but I never did, because I thought that any fix would be too hard, especially since my chances of getting the same dye lot of yarn were slim (the LYS where I bought the yarn has since closed).

I wanted to photograph it tonight to post to this blog, but when WG put the sweater away, he HUNG it in his closet, on a wire hanger. Guess what THAT did to the neckline????????????? Yes, it’s even worse. I’m only exaggerating a little when I say that it’s almost down to his navel. It's too embarassing to post the pictures of it now.

The sweater is loosely fit, oversized. It fits WG like it’s supposed to (except at the neck), but I can wear it too (although it’s not a loose fit at all on my very “fluffy” body). So maybe it will be MY knock around the house on cold mornings sweater instead of his.

Now, I need to come up with another sweater for WG.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

All this and I knit, too!

Sorry for the time between posts. Monday began the Jewish holiday of Passover and time got away from me--therefore very little knitting with even less blogging.

The next few blogposts, working backwards in time, will show the world that while I am a certifiable gadgetholic and I have many WIP’s, I am also perfectly capable of (at least occasionally) finishing objects. That is, I am also a certified knitter, and thus worthy of my “knitting blog” stripes.

Today I will show you the “Famous” Strawberry Patch Cardigan that is actual proof that history repeats itself (but can turn out different in the end, anyway!).

Lion Brand Strawberry Patch Cardigan pattern (now available for free at the Lion Brand site) made in Woolease Blue Sprinkles.

First, I love blue, and especially the intense blues of lapis. I love Woolease blue sprinkles because it is my exact favorite shade—just like lapis, though it’s described as “royal blue”. But it has been discontinued, which makes me incredibly sad :o( Luckily, in its heyday, I bought many balls of Woolease Blue Sprinkles, including a few one pound balls. So even today there is enough there for another kids sweater, and an abandoned adult-sized NFO (never finished object) that can be frogged for more.

Don’t you think my finished Strawberry Patch Sweater in Blue Sprinkles looks so much nicer than the Lion Brand sweater in the also discontinued Ivory Sprinkles??? [Best way to see a picture on their site without subscribing to the Lion Brand site is to look for the Google image of ‘ “Strawberry Patch Cardigan” Lion Brand’] The blue really makes the strawberries pop. I also “embroidered” the leaves rather than the intarsia—I think it looks much better.

Anyway, eons ago, when dear E was in kindergarten, I made her this sweater. I was still a freshman knitter, so it wasn’t the best job in the world, but it was cute enough and it fit. I also HANDMADE strawberry buttons out of Fimo ® clay. The whole project took about 2 months, maybe more. E said she loved the sweater, and proudly wore it to school—once. Well, maybe twice. In the same week. And then, she lost it. We searched the lost and found at her school and her after school program multiple times, but the sweater was never heard from again. She wore it less time than it took me to make it. AAAGGGHHH!!! I swore I’d never knit for a kid again. And I kept my vow until recently.

Now JB is in kindergarten, and she needed a new sweater. How I wished that we still had the Strawberry Patch Cardigan for her to wear this spring when the mornings are chilly but the days turn warm. How cute she would look in it. When I was rearranging stash, I came upon one of those 1 lb balls of blue sprinkles, and I remembered again how soft and cozy the yarn is. How washable it is. How beautiful is the shade of blue. And how wonderful to make a sweater for the little one that will cost nothing more than the price of the buttons since I already had the yarn (which probably cost about $6 way back when) on hand. So I caved, broke my vow, and cast on for JB.

I did a pretty durn good job on this one, if I do say so myself. And it fits JB with a little growing room, as I intended. I even made the cap. Total time—about 2 ½ months (while also knitting WG’s “To the Cottage” pullover). Total time before the sweater was lost—about a week. AAAGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This time, (lucky for JB!), I found it in her school’s lost & found. She took a few days before she admitted to me that it was lost, and it was almost a goner by then because it had already been taken from the hanging rack of lost and abandoned objects to the giveaway bags before I even knew it was missing. I had to dig through THREE industrial-sized garbage bags full of smelly lost kid sweatshirts and gym socks to find it, too. Yuck!

I still let her wear it to school (she loves it and wears it often), but only with a new daily lecture on how it must come home the same day. The usual way her sweaters and coats get lost is that she gets warm jumping and running around on the playground and drops her garment on the ground, forgetting it when the bell rings. This morning’s lecture was “when the bell rings, it’s time to look around and FIND your sweater to make sure to bring it home”. We’ll see how that works. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ode to KPO's

You know I like knitting toys, and you may have already guessed that I love my Knit Picks Options (KPO) needles. I love everything about them!

As I progressed in my knitting skills, I quickly left straight needles behind for circulars. Because of my bad habit of having many WIP's at once, I usually bought a new set of needles for each project.

My original circulars were Susan Bates needles--those grey coated needles and slightly stiff cables. They were fine for the basic type of knitting I usually did. Occasionally, a plastic circular (I hated that! the tip was too flexible) or a Clover bamboo would join my growing needle collection. I also mastered double points (DPN's)--mostly clovers until I discovered the lovely texture and points of Crystal Palace bamboos.

Somewhere along the way I got turned on to Inox Express and Addi Turbo needles. I loved the sharp points (especially on the Inoxes), slick, smooth finishes, and the soft, flexible cables. Then I learned Magic Loop technique, and for my birthday 2 years ago I invested in a 40" needle in every size from 0 to 13 in Inoxes (Addi's for a few that weren't available). But I still had the problem of not being able to find the appropriate needle because it was in a WI (not really in Progress) at the moment. Finances had changed, and I could no longer afford to buy new needles for every project. I also knew when I took a needle out of a WIP and put the project on a temporary holder, it was highly unlikely that the project would ever make it back on needles again.

Around that time I made the holder a la circular solution (see "Pimp my knitting part two, below), but I wished that I had a neater, tidier way to organize my needles.

I started to lust after the Denise set of needles, but deemed they were "too expensive". I liked the organization of the case, the wide variety of needles, the fact that I could have many WIPs with the same size needles, etc.

I think the entire Denise set was about $25 when I started thinking about buying it. I hemmed and hawed for YEARS!!!!. I kept hoping I'd find them somewhere on sale, or at Michaels or Joanne's where I could use one of the 40% off coupons (I SWEAR I read posts on the Knitlist where people said they found the Denise set at one of those stores and scored it with a coupon), but I never found the Denise needles at Michael's or Joanne's or for less than list anywhere around here.

Finally, about a year ago, a local sewing store started to carrry some yarn and needles. Since it was the only non chain store in my town carrying yarn, word spread quickly and they expanded the knitting section. They even carried Denise needles. AND, they had online coupons for as much as 20% off your purchase. Good enough, I finally took the plunge--only now the set was about $46 dollars.

I swear, it was no more than a few DAYS after I finally bought my Denise needles that KnitPicks came out with the Options needles. AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! I think I am wholly responsible for th release of the KPO's. The knitting gods learned that I had finally purchased the Denise set, and THEN decided to put my dream needles on the market. LOL!

Don't get me wrong--there's nothing at all wrong with the Denise needles. But I don't particularly like plastic, and the cables were thick and full of annoying memory--even though they were flexible enough to do Magic Loop, if you could put up with the memory part. I had been thinking for years that an interchangeable set of Inox-type needles would be my dream needles. The Denise needles were great, but they were not like the needles I prefer to knit with.

So, I plotted and schemed and finally decided that life was not worth living until I had the KPO's in my hands (OK, a bit of exaggeration there!). I asked for a gift certificate for my birthday and planned my own custom order of needles, the case, and accessories to fit within that budget (OK, I paid a little bit more, but not much). WG came through (at the last minute so I had to WAIT to get my birthday gift until 1st the gift certificate came and then for my order to arrive--but now he's forgiven).

Here's why I love them so:

1) The case: I almost didn't get the case. It looked kind of cheesy in the catalog, but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. (See photo and description in Pimp part Two). It's beautiful and organized.

2) The needles:

a) I love a sharply tapered point. Addis are too dull (I haven't tried the new Addi lace needles yet). Inoxes are barely sharp enough. These are perfectly sharp. If you don't like or aren't used to a sharp point, you might find these annoying. You have to be extra careful not to split the yarn. But they make lace knitting so much easier, and I'm learning to be careful on the cotton bamboo yarn I'm using on the ruffled surplice.

b) I love the slick, nickel-plated surface. The knitting just glides along. Every once in a while I come across a yarn that I can't handle on slick needles, but it's pretty rare. When that happens, I still have bamboos around to handle it. But for most everything, the surface on the KPO's--just like Addis and Inoxes--is wonderful. Like "buttah"!

c) Smooth joins. I love not having to push the yarn over the place where the needle joins the cable. Even some of my Inoxes have a problem here. KPO's do not.

d) Flexible Cables--the most flexible cables I have found, bar none. Inoxes were my heretofore favorite, but the KPO cables beat them for flexibility and lack of memory. Once the needles are screwed on to the cable and tightened with the "key", they stay on very tightl. I've only had one needle loosen one time, though I keep checking in case it happens again. Luckily, it was just slightly loosened after a lot of knitting without problem, and I didn't lose a thing.

e) The "toys". I love having the end caps and cable "key". When I first got them, I was disappointed that I couldn't change needles every few minutes to play with my toys. I did find it hard to keep track of the cable keys and they weren't all that easy to grasp to tighten the needles to the cables, so I made my own "handle" out of polymer clay.

What do you think? I know my polymer clay skills can use some work, but I like it anyway.

I purchased a set of the tags, but instead of putting them on WNIPs (works not in progress), I put the tags in the plastic pockets holding the needles so I can see at a glance what size the needle is.

I also bought the KP needle gauge, but I'm not impressed with that. Too plastic, and the magnifier doesn't work for me to use for gauge determinations--I just can't see in the little window (this is a problem with my eyes more than the tool itself).

The whole "package" that comprises the KPO set is just sublime IMHO. I don't work for KnitPicks and have no affiliation, but I am one very satisfied customer.

I love my KPO's!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Pimp My Knitting: Part Duex--Contain Yourself

Well, I did not make it to post Part Two on Sunday because I was having too much fun! I am an only child, so all the aunts and uncles who spoil my kids rotten and whose visits are much anticipated come from WG's side of the family (he has two brothers and two sisters). But I have two very dear friends who I went to high school with, and their visits are as close as my kids get to family on my side. This weekend we had a visit from my dear friend, Susan.

I met Susan on the first day of the second semester in freshman physical science. In that class we sat at tables of three, and all first semester a very cute guy sat in the center seat of my table. I had a little crush on him. So on the first day of the second semester, Susan showed up and SAT IN HIS SEAT, and he was never seen in that class again. Ugh! I hated her. But she kept showing up in my other classes, and I soon learned that she was smart, funny, and very pretty but totally unaware of her own beauty. Soon, we became best friends.

It was an odd friendship from the beginning. Susan is very tall, I am fairly short. We looked like Mutt and Jeff when we hung together. Susan is incredibly brilliant, fast thinking, and articulate. I never thought of myself as smart, and I am shy and not articulate at all. She was perfectly at home with the popular crowd and every smart boy in our school had a crush on her. I blended into the background and hung out with the science geeks when I was being sociable at all (more often I had my nose in a book at lunch and between classes). Susan is athletic--she even played (Powder Puff) football. I am the antithesis of athletic. But something clicked and we were good friends throughout high school. She is the only classmate I kept in touch with when I went away to college and beyond. This year (oy!) we will be attending our 30th high school reunion--we've known each other for 34 years.

So, when Susan swoops in to town, it's never a dull moment. We visited, ate too much junk food, and shopped, schlepping the girls along. It was Susan who treated E to a floor rocker she was eyeing in Target (mean, mean Mommy would not buy it for her), and brought JB a beautifully illustrated copy of The Prnicess and the Pea.

Oh, and she brought me an amusing gift, too!

A toilet seat.

It is a very good friend indeed who can bring you a gift like that and not offend. 'Nuf said.

OK, on to the knitting:

Almost as much as the tools, I love containers for my knitting projects and for my tools. I have too many bags, baskets, and other containers for knitting around my house. I consider them decor, but WG is not of the same opinion. Recently he commented that he finds knitting bags everywhere, most containing just a ball or two of yarn, and he wants to know what that's all about.

Either I've finished the project contained in that container and that's the leftovers which have not been put away in my oddballs collection or charity bag, or it's an abandoned object. I tend to pick a particular container for a particular project, and it's gotta be "just right". So there are a lot of containers that just aren't in use at a given time--they may be when they are needed for some future project. Also, I sometimes move a project from one container to another to accomodate where I'm going to knit--in the car (while someone else is driving, of course!), on a plane, in a lecture, at a meeting, in bed, in the recliner, in the knitting room/office at our house.

My current most favorite knitting container is this basket I got from Trader Joe's for about $8. It must have been designed with knitting in mind. It's lined and there are four generous pockets inside. There is a drawstring closure to keep Jazmine's nose out of my yarn. The basket is lightweight and easy to carry. It's quite attractive IMHO.

Right now I am knitting the placemats from Sally Melville's Color book, and nothing could be more perfect to contain this project! There are exactly four colors in this project, so each ball of yarn has it's own pocket. There is plenty of room in the middle of the pockets for my thread cutter (hey, a favored tool that did not make it to Part One), the WIP, and my typed row by row description of the pattern. The woven surface of the basket even reflects the woven appearance of the linen stitch placemats. It's divine!

I wanted one of thes African Market baskets for quite a while, but couldn't spend $25. I found this one, slightly misshapen, at Ross for only $5. It has held many a project (like the ill-fated to the Cottage Sweater for WG), especially bulky ones like big wool sweaters and felting items. Recently, I found a "Purse Bright" organizing system (As Seen on TV!) for just $9.99 and bought it for this basket. It has lots of little pockets to store items needed for the knitting, and a light to help me find things in it's depths. I don't have a current project in this basket, but I think the Purse Bright will help. So now I have $15 invested in it.

For socks and lace weight scarves and shawls, I like this drawstring bag I made. It is made out of a remnant of Ultrasuede I got for cheap from the fabric store in a calming mushroom color. It's just the right size for a ball of yarn, a set of needles, and a small project. I can hang it on my wrist and knit standing in line or waiting in a waiting room. It tucks discretely in the center console of my car when I need a small project to have with me "just in case". I usually tuck a typwritten copy of the pattern in there too, and hang a few extra rubber markers on a safety pin in the bag in case they are needed. Sometimes I tuck in the little crochet hook (see Part One) to fix mistakes if necessary. If I carried a large enough purse (I don't, but I used to), I could tuck this in the purse.

I have a collection of various canvas bags WG and I've collected from conferences to carry the odd knitting project. I try to keep in mind that the bag advertises something, and be mindful of what the reaction might be where I carry it. Recently, WG got this great nylon bag from a wine conference, it is the best of this type of bag.

I like this small tin "lunch pail" for small projects like socks.

Another favorite for small projects is the felted Moebius basket I made following a pattern from Second Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi (these Moebius projects are the most fun you can have on one circular needle!). The hand pin belonged to a good friend of mine who died of lung cancer last year. Her husband gave out her collection of hand jewelry (she was an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist) to her friends. I only put the most special projects in that basket.

Occasionally, I use a cute shopping bag for a project. E wanted me to use this pink bag I got at W for her Ruffled Surplice. It matches the yarn!

As I said, I also love the containers for tools and notions. Here are just two of my collection of tins for holding stitch markers, tapestry needles, row counters, safety pins, the odd earring, etc. I have one of these beside my bed, one in my knitting chair, and one in the current WIP baskets or project bags. My favorite is the Celestial Seasonings Tea Bag box. It's a bit smaller than the others (i.e. Altoids), but very pretty, and it smelled like the tea (apple cinammon, yum!) for a long time.

I made a cover for this little tin out of FIMO, but never baked it yet. I can't decide if I like it or not.

When I travel, I use an old dental floss container to hold a few rubber ring markers and safety pins. The floss cutter on the container works for cutting yarn--great for airline travel. (Not pictured).

Containers for needles are another thing I love. I don't knit with straight needles except very large needles for scarves and occasionally with DPN's (rarely, I use Magic Loop for EVERYTHING). I just keep all the straight things in this glass vase by my knitting chair.

I tried all sorts of things for my circulars, but hated everything. I wanted something like the "Circular Solution", but I don't like the printed white fabric. So I bought a remnant of a heavy woven fabric and a purse handle, and made my own version (email me if you would like the pattern for this). There was a enough fabric to make two, and purse handles come in pairs, so the second one went to a Knitlist buddy in Pennsylvania (Hi Marty!). I think it's quite attractive, if I do say so myself, and I love how it lets the cables of the needles relax. I added the little number tags purchased from the scrapbook dept of the craft store so it would be easy to find the right sized needles. I also attached a needle gauge to check needle sizes.

Last but not least is the zipper case for the Knit Picks Options Needles. It didn't look like much from the catalog picture, and I was not expecting it to be as nice as it is. IT has an attractive cloth cover with leather (not sure if the leather is real) trim and a zipper all around. There are generous interior pockets at either end, including a zippered pocket. There is a pen-holder loop in the back. The rings are large and easy to open. This would make a great Day Timer notebook and I think it was very reasonably priced at $19. I don't have any of the KP project bags or the magnet board, but it coordinates with them.

The plastic pockets are just the right sizes to hold the needles, cables and notions and there is a good combination of two each with one section, two with two sections, two with three sections. My entire collection of KPO needles fits in without bulging. The whole thing is neither too small nor too big. It will stand on end like a book or lie flat. I am very happy with this case, as I am with the entire set. Way to go, KP!!!! NAYYY.

I had the Denise set for a time. I admired the organization of the set and it's plastic case, but I thought it was a bit cheap and kitschy. I didn't like that the cables and needles fit in there one way and one way only. I don't mean to dis it--it was a nice set, but I'm much happier with my KP.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pimp My Knitting: Part One (WARNING: Image heavy)

My current WIP is the Ruffled Surplice from the current issue of Interweave Knits. This is part of the left side. It is an odd shape right now.

I love knitting toys. Needles, tools, gadgets and notions!

People often ask me what all the appendages are hanging from my knitting.*

<- I use double rubber ring markers to remind me to decrease and change the pattern.

I like the rubber ring markers, but I also make my own beaded markers. Coil-less pins are used t0 mark increases and decreases, & pinch hit for markers on small gauge needles. (Click on the photos for larger images) ->

To keep track of rows, I mount a barrel row counter on a rubber stitch marker (sometimes I use those little figure 8 holders for eye glasses (see the sheep marker below) and place it a few stitches in on the row of knitting. Every time I pass the marker with the counter, I advance the counter to count the rows.

I try to pick these up whenever there is a sale and have some on hand for a new WIP.

This is a homemade row counter. It works like an abacus. On the left (dark blue beads) are the ten's and on the right (light blue beads) are the one's. This one is showing the 15th row because one ten is pulled down and 5 ones (the dark blue bead on the right is to indicate "5").

Right now my sheep marker is there to remind me which side of the knitting is the right side, but the sheep can also ride along with the knitting like any stitch marker.

<-(This sheep marker has the eyeglass thingie I was describing above).

My latest gadget is using a bread tie to hold the extra cast on yarn tail. This was something I learned from Tomme in my new office--Thanks, Tomme!!! What a great idea! She actually had larger ties from potato sacks, but we didn't have any large potato sacks lying around our house.

I like cute tape measures. The sheep on the left was my only tape measure and I couldn't find it for months and months. I finally decided it was lost and bought a new one at Stitches West (SW).
Just a few days after I brought the new one home, Jazmine decided to play with it. She bit into it and broke the spring. (I suspect one of my children participated in this destruction since the tape was pulled all the way out and the dog does not have hands to have accomplished that). So I did a bit of surgery. I removed the destroyed tape measure (the empty sheep carcass lies there with the tail pinned to the inside with a large safety pin), and I'm looking for a new tape measure to put inside.
Meanwhile, I found the doggie on sale for cheap and bought that as a consolation prize.
Of course, after buying two tape measures to, I found my original sheep. Just call me "Bo Peep".
I guess I have a collection now.

Well, I have a lot more to show, but this post is getting image heavy and long. That means I have blog fodder for another day, so check back soon--I'll probably post again on Sunday night.
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. I know I have a lot to learn about blogging, but I hope you find this interesting and fun.

*Many of these ideas are from Maggie Righetti, author of Knitting in Plain English. I mean no disrespect to EZ (Elizabeth Zimmerman), whom many consider THE Knitting Goddess (and she is), but Maggie Righetti is MY Knitting Goddess. I thought I could knit before I read Maggie's book, but after I read her book (and worked through her instructional projects) I could KNIT. I am forever indebted to her.