Thursday, February 26, 2015

Estonian Knitting

It's been awhile.  What with Holiday knitting and getting ready for my Hip Surgery and then house arrest while recovering,  I am finally coming out of a drug induced meditative state.  I'll talk about the hip at another time.  I did get to write 2 patterns while under the influence so it wasn't all gaga.

Last night was the first time I had been feeling up to going to Knit Knite since the surgery 6 weeks ago.  Might have been feeling up to it sooner but the weather didn't really cooperate and I hate asking Jim to drive me somewhere in bad weather when it isn't necessary.  Hopefully I get the go ahead to drive within the next week.

It was so nice to be there, relaxing and visiting with my knitting cohorts.  Alone time is wonderul but 6 weeks of it gets old.  Rosanne brought in a picture of an Estonian Lace pattern that she found on Pinterest.  We checked it out online but it only gave reference to, who gave reference to the Lacis Museum in CA.  And sure enough it is shown in slides 46 & 47 of the  Estonian Lace Exhibit there in 2012.  I love Estonian knitting and have 2 books on my shelf - one for fair isle and the other for lace.  Marjasall Shawl contains several Estonian stich patterns.
This one looks like a variant on Lily of the Valley which is very popular in Estonian Lace kniting.  It's just different enough though to make it very interesting.
So this morning I became intrigued with the idea of finding out more about it. Aimee located it in a book called Haapsalu Shawls that can be had for $70+.  not or not too soon.

Eventually I checked out the Estonian Lace Forums on Ravelry.  In one there was a thread called something like ' Do you know this pattern?"  Lo and behold, the one above is the very reason that thread was started.  AND one of the forum members actually deconstructed it into a chart and line by line instructions. Estonian Scarf by Cath Ward.  I spent the better part of the afternoon working a swatch.  I used US4 needles and heavy fingering yarn so mine doesn't look as delicate but it works.
Also I have never been a fan of nupps. Found them fiddly and time consuming.  In the instructions it said to do the nupp stitches very loosely. I tried.  I really did but still needed to sl4 then purl 3tog then pass the slipped sts over.  Really wasn't thrilled with how those nupps looked.   Then I got a brainstorm.  I pulled out a cable needle that was about 2 sizes larger than my US4.  Did the 1 into 7 on the cable, then slid those sts onto the RH needle.  On the next row I was easily able to purl the 7 together.  The Nupps near the top look so much neater than the ones near the bottom that were slipped and passed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In the Swirl

I started MyVeryOwnSister's Holiday Socks in MVOS Woody the weekend of the Fiber Festival of New England.  So that was the first weekend in November.  Today, while the snow was blowing and swirling around the house I finished the second sock.  Granted I didnt work on these everyday, but some most days.  I have severe second sock syndrome so I make myself adhere to certain rules, otherwise the second sock may never appear or only part of it.  That UFO pile is amazing.

I start the toe on one and go until the stitches needed for the foot are reached.  Then I do the same to the second sock but take it to the start of the gussets.  I then take sock #1 to the gussets and up to the heel.  You get the picture.  I call it leap frogging.

Here's hoping MVOS doesn't mind having her sock's portait 
spread far and wide before she gets them.
I also made the socks two-colored. wasn't really planned, but since I used US0 needles for the feet and US 1's for the cuffs, I was afraid I'd run out of Woody before the cuffs were done and didn't want to make short socks.
So I did the following.  
Found some Bark Panda hanging around and incorporated it thusly:
After 2.25 inches of cuff I added the Bark for 1 round.
Then the MVOS for 5 rounds, Bark for 2 rounds, MVOS for 4 rounds, Bark for 3 rounds, MVOS for 3 rounds, Bark for 4 rounds, MVOS for 2 rounds, Bark for 5 rounds, MVOS for 1 round and the rest in Bark, ending with 1.25 inches of k3, p2 ribbing.

The SWIRLY RIB pattern is my own unvention.  
I haven't checked in all the Barbara Walker books yet but don't remember seeing it there.

What I love about this pattern is that it swirls around the cuff automatically 
with no moving the BOR marker at all.

Swirling Rib Pattern
(mult of 5 sts, in the round)

 *k2togtbl, k2, kfb*
(k2 together thru back loop, knit 2, knit front & back in same stitch. 
Repeat between the asterisks around and around.)
The two arrows show the BOR (beginning of row space) as it moves around the cuff.
The cuff has plenty of stretch if needed and is a bit of a fun pattern.

Please let me know if you try this one out.  Send pics too.
Happy Holidays.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Last winter we used over 5 tons of pellets and a couple hundred gallons of propane.  We were always chilled and in layers.  The pellet stove ran at 7-9 out of 9 with high fan settings, yet we had trouble keeping the house at 61.  No fun at all.  Good for knitting but really......

So last spring we qualified for a NYSERDA energy audit.  We chose Snug Planet because they're local and we'd heard good things about them.  They're professional yet friendly and very communicative.  It was quite the experience to watch them analyze the house by putting fans and barriers on the doors to donning a bunny suit and climbing up into the crawl space above the LR/DR areas.  The results and photos showed that the space above the LR/DR was sorely in need of new insulation.  20 years ago we put 12 inches of batting up there and thought that was plenty.  Well in that time the squirrels made the space into a hotel, packing the insulation in many places down to an inch or so.  No wonder we were cold.  No wonder we had monster sized icicles hanging off our roof and gutters.  They gave us an estimate for the reinsulation but we didn't qualify for a discounted installation. $4000 - 5000 is a lot of money and would take many years to actualize in heating savings.  hmmmmnnnnnn

So Jim looked into it.  Lo and behold, Home Depot carries the cellulose with added boric acid as a fire retardant. It's a squirrel deterrent as well.  AND they give you the use of the shredder/blower machine free for 24 hours.  So once the 2 September Fairs (Finger Lakes FF and Southern Adirondack FF) were over  and while we were getting ready for the New England Show, Amelia came over to help us do the deed.

Amelia is Jim's granddaughter.  A bright, interesting, aware, intrepid and courageous young woman.  She's on the Title Nines Jr Roller Derby team and goes to New Roots High School where she's earning A's.
That's Amelia in the middle, at the Ithaca Festival Parade.
Amelia is also Jim's construction assistant when she has time.
For the insulation installation her small size was a big asset.

The night before Jim, Magoo and I went to Home Depot and filled up my CRV and Jim's van with the blower and lots of bales of cellulose plus bunny suits and masks.

Then on Saturday we got to work.  It took us about an hour to set it all up.
Magoo helping Amelia.

Those masks are so good but awkward too.

We elected for Jim to stay in the driveway and feed the machine.
That way we didn't have to move the bales very far, just the 100 feet of hosing. The hose went down the steps and then up 2 stories into my bedroom.

I got to be in charge of the hosing and any extraneous needs.
That's the hole Jim cut into the wall of my bedroom. He hung
a light to help us see what was happening in the crawl space.

And in she goes!

Gosh that stuff is dusty.

Amelia felt that not wearing gloves would be easier for her.
She wanted to be able to feel her way in the dark and dust.
She had to stay on boards over the old insulation and move them 
forward and backward as she went into the space to the ends and edges. 

That stuff sticks to everything, including old cobwebs.

The cellulose we purchased is actually shredded used newspapers.
Wearing face masks was imperative as clouds of fine particles of inked paper soon looked like half the air in the room as well as in the crawl space.
There are no more pics as the air was just too thick to see anything.
It took us (well mostly Amelia) an hour to get the space filled to about 12-15 inches of cellulose.

Then Amelia backed out.  
I washed any exposed parts of her face 
and sent her to the shower to take off the bunny suit and wash her hair and body.
Me too.

We then loaded any unused bales and the shredder back into our vehicles and off we went to town.
The next day Jim closed up the opening.
It took us several days of wet dusting to get the minute particles 
of cellulose off surfaces and out of cracks in that room.

Cost was $300 instead of $4000-5000.
All told the time was probably 6 hours with prep and cleanup.
We've had some fairly cold days & nights with wind and snow already this month.
The pellet stove remains on very low and the fan on low as well.
The house is easily staying at 64-68 degrees.
We have not yet used the propane for back up heating.

At this rate we'll recoup the cost very soon in propane savings alone.
And it feels good too to have done it ourselves.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Obsession Part II

So here is the Mobius Scarf merrily on its way to completion.
You might notice that the beads I added 
near the beginning are now near the middle 
and not the edge as previously thought.

Last few rounds with beaded edging.

Look below. That bit of yarn tail is where I started!!!

Blocking turned out to be simpler than I thought.  
I just allowed the twist to happen and blocked it as normal.
However with the 3 rows of purl, 3 of knit, 
it's really springy and mostly shows only garter stitch.
Might try one in reversible cables.

Had some yarn left over from 300 yards of sport weight 
hand spun from 4oz of Falkland in Cattleya Orchid.
Although I think it would look stunning in hand spun
LOVE IT!!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thrilling Obsession

I said last week in my newsletter that several of us at Knit Knite were obsessed with discovering a new møbius cast-on. We all know about Cat Borhi's but find that one a bit hard to do.  We tried quite a few ideas we had to no avail.  They all turned into 2 sided tubes.  sigh.

However as a result of announcing our craziness to the world, one courageous woman wrote to say that Rita Buchanan wrote an article for Spin Off in 2000 with her very own Møbius Cast-on.  Of course, I cleaned out all my old Spin-Offs last year. Why is it that when one finally gets rid of something that hadn't been used in umpteen years, it then becomes needed?
I googled Rita Buchanan Møbius and got this page.  While informative it leaves out a few basic instructions.  I tried it on 16" needles as I didn't want to be casting on a zillion stitches only to rip them out a few rows later.  Alas my attempt did not work and I frogged 70 stitches.

Then Lynne S. graciously scanned her copy of the article and sent it to me.  Of course I wanted to try it out immediately but that would mean 2 new UFO's and I'm trying to get samples ready for FF of New England.  So I compromised by spinning the yarn needed for this cowl.  I took breaks from dyeing and knitting to spin.  Seemed very balanced to me too.

4 ounces of Cattleya Orchid Falkland worked up into 300 yards of 2 ply plus silver thread making it technically a 3 ply yarn.  I thought it was sportweight but once washed and dried the whole thing blossomed into closer to DK.  Had US 6 needles ready but upped them to US7's.  Did a swatch and came out with 4.5 st/in on US7.  Close to worsted I guess but whatever.  It's soft and springy.

On Wednesday I couldn't stand it any longer and cast on the needed 200 stitches.  With a backwards loop it didn't take very long and this time the cable wrapped itself around just as in the instructions.
Deirdre kept saying I was obsessed but really I was so delighted to actually have this working and being so easy to do. Got so excited I drove 15 miles to Joanne's with a 20% off coupon and chose some 2/0 beads.  I thought I was adding them to the edge but now realize they are probably in the middle so will add more later when it's almost done.  A Mobius is such a magical creation and knitting one is doubly so.
Only 6- 7 more inches to go, then I'll use EZ' stretchy bind off. 
Wonder how one blocks a møbius cowl?  Have only done Cat Bordhi's møbius baskets which are felted.  Hmmmnnnn

I can see myself playing with making different stitch patterns that go with this.  Maybe a spiral. Or how about a knitted Klein Bottle? Or maybe a simpler item - Sea Change slip stitch mobius cowl.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Cautionary Tale

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of money on ink cartridges.  Probably because I print a good deal of patterns and fiber and yarn labels.  It really adds up at almost $100 a pop.  I was thinking of what do the recyclers do with the empties I turn in when I buy new?

hmmmm and I found a business online, ClickInks, that refills those cartridges and sells them for about half the price.  Well, I thought that was a great idea and a great bargain so I ordered a set.  A few hours later I received an email telling me my payment didn't go through and to click on the link to try paying again so my order would not be held up.  So I did.

Then I went online to check this charge.  Sure enough this one went through but so did the first one.  Huh??????  I called but since it was the weekend, they were not open. I then called first thing Monday morning and got a person who told me the second order would be cancelled.  Whew.  Good.

Later that day I received an email telling me my inks had shipped.  A few minutes later I received a duplicate email but when I checked it I saw it had a different order number.  Sheesh.  So I called again.  This time I was told that they could do nothing for me until the second box was returned!!!!!  It was their "policy'.  Sheesh again.  I asked to speak to a supervisor but was not put through.

I sent them an email and received a reply that a ticket had been opened and I would get a response within 24 hours.  NADA in over a month now.  I called next morning but was put off again.  The person I spoke with said to refuse the second box and then when it was returned so would my money.

UPS arrived on Friday with both boxes.  I refused one of them.  I waited until the following Thursday and called again.  BTW the wait time on these calls was 15 - 20 minutes.  I was told my package had not yet been clocked in by the warehouse.  I was also told that it would be 5 days after that before my refund was made.  That was it!!!!

I called PayPal and told them the whole story.  They told me they would contact ClickInks but that my money would definitely be back in my account by 9/21 no matter what.  On 9/21, they emailed me that the company never responded so my money was automatically returned.

Meanwhile this was all going on, I was printing patterns for the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival when the magenta started getting streaky.  I cleaned the printheads 3 times and it only got worse.  arghhh  I went onto the HP website and after a couple hours of doing whatever it said, the verdict was I needed a new printhead.

So by trying to save $45 I have now spent $100 for replacement cartridges and will be buying a new printer too as that will cost $20 less than a new printhead. For sure I'll only buy printer maker approved cartridges from now on.

I told ClickInks I would tell my story far and wide but they didn't care.  Be forewarned my friends.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Magoo at Last

It's been a long haul.  Jim's had a lyme relapse and cellulitis while my thigh muscle problem has returned.  Sorry to have not written in so long.  I am knitting, dyeing, designing but my time and thoughts have been elsewhere.

We were talked into  decided to take on the Fostering of Magoo until he is neutered.  Then we'll adopt him formally.  What's great about being his Foster Parents is that Shar pei Rescue will pay his vet bills until then.  Neat deal.  We get to hug this boy sooner than we thought and don't have to shell out much in the way of money except for food, grooming, harness, collar, etc.

So two weeks ago Carol, who was fostering our boy for 2 months, brought Magoo to MD, met Laura, who brought him to NJ where she and the rescue vet reside.  He got his first heartworm shot on a Monday night and had several days of recuperation to be ready to fly to Ithaca that Friday.  Alas the thunderstorms made the trip too hairy so it was postponed to Saturday, May 31.  We had our fingers and toes crossed.

              Sure enough we received a call from Jack, the pilot, that Laura got there with Magoo and  the flight was a go!

Expected arrival time in Ithaca was 10:45 am.
Evidently Magoo is a chatty fellow (above w/ Jack, below with Nancy)

We didn't get to see the plane land as the headwinds were less than expected so arrival time was 10:15 and we got there at 10:30.
The boy was very confused by then, what with all these changing humans in his life.
We took him straight to our local pet store to get fitted for a Martingale collar and harness which makes both his life and ours easier in the long run.  I do hate choking dogs with collars.
We brought him home, really home, but he didn't know that.  However he is such an adaptable fellow that he went along, confused but agreeable.

 He's settling in quite well.  There is no real history on this boy except he was found in Ocean City, MD, rather emaciated and scarred from ticks.  The rescue was notified and immediately found him a foster home in VA.  He was diagnosed with lyme, erlichia (from the same tick) and heartworm.  While in VA he was 'cured' of both the lyme and erlichia and started heartworm meds.  In NJ he got his first heartworm injection and mid June he'll get shots # 2 and 3.  He's under 2 years old so very playful but because of the heartworm injection must not get excited or play hard until weeks after the last shot and the vet declares the adult and juvenile worms dead and gone. He also can't be neutered until then.
Stay tuned for the next episode where we try to get the cats, Lillie and LouAnne, to accept this boy.