Category Archives: Knitting

Tales of my knitting adventures.

The Sweater Knitted at Least Twice

Only simple with the right amount of yarn

Only simple with the right amount of yarn

Been far far too long since I blogged and here’s one of the reason: this sweater. I thought this would be a fairly easy sweater (especially since it’s called “Simple Knitted Bodice”) and for the most part it was. The problem was the contrasting yarn. I just hadn’t bought enough of it and it was so expensive, I chose to spend more time unraveling and reknitting than spend another $33. Yes, this means my time is less precious to me than money. Hey, I work for the state. They feel the same way.

Here’s how I remember this one going together:

  1. I start out with the top. It begins with a few stitches and keeps growing, so I am  flying through the rows. I become deluded into thinking this sweater will be done in a weekend. As I get to the armpits, I realize it’s going to take much longer than that.
  2. Finally, I reach the fun trim part. Now I’ve made Stitch Diva sweaters before, and they are always a little short (even if I’m swatched), so I’m going up a size on this one. I dig into the contrasting band, and when I’m near the end I realize that it now looks like I have a spare tire around my waist. Oh and knitting with beads? Kind of a pain in the ass. You end up spending a lot of time pushing them through the other side. Now I’ve got to unravel all this and start over.
  3. I decrease the stitches down to the smaller size and restitch the middle band.  Again, I spend a lot of time pushing the beads through. This is a big mistake. Wait until you’re finished. For one thing, if you have to unravel it again, you’re going to have a devil of a time with all those beads you spent a long time pushing through to the other side. Not only are you mad you wasted your time, it’s harder to unravel. Real salt in the wound.
  4. I try it on and the spare tire look is gone and it fits much better. I then zing my way through the bottom of the sweater with ease. Much easier than that “fun trim” I had been working on.
  5. On to the sleeves. The first one goes very easily and I wisely keep track of the stitches I’m doing so I can replicate it on the other sleeve.
  6. I start the second sleeve. As I do that “fun’ band again, I realize I’m going to run out of that super-expensive yarn. I’m faced with two choices: bite the bullet and buy more, when I’ll end up using maybe 20% of the yarn to finish the sweater. Or … I can unravel EVERYTHING and save myself the money on the yarn. That’s correct: I choose to unravel everything.
  7. The unraveling can be tough to do when you are doing it through tears. (I’m kidding. I did it while watching Daily Show and did it as quickly as I could, like a band-aid, before I changed my mind about it.)
  8. Now I’m adjusting the pattern. Instead of 5.5 repeats of the chevron lace, I’m doing 4. And instead of two rows of knit between the three purl rows, I’m doing 1. And, I’m holding my breath that this will do the trick, because if it doesn’t, I might have to just set fire to the damn thing.
  9. Starting with reknitting the sleeves, so I can best judge how far I can push this small amount of very expensive yarn. The first band goes quickly and on to the sleeve. I’m adjusting here. Instead of every 5 rows, it’s every 7 to increase. And, when I get to the trim, I’m doing 2 rows of purl and 1 of knit instead of 3 to 2.
  10. On to the second sleeve. This one goes much slower. More red tick marks as the rows go by. The second sleeve is knitted to Victor/Victoria. What a great movie. I too am wondering how much more I can go on with this damn sweater. It doesn’t help that my husband prefers TV viewing in the dark and this sweater is black.
  11. A knitting break from the sweaterOK I can’t take it any more. I have to complete something or I’m going to commit hara-kiri with my knitting needles. I stop and knit a pair of fingerless gloves for the office, when it’s 96 outside and 54 inside.
  12. Whoops, freelance break. The next two weeks are spent working on my embroidery magazine project. I’ve tried embroidery. Kudos to you ladies that do it. It makes knitting look very fast.
  13. Boy chevron lace flies when you do that middle band three times. Now I have to adjust for the 12 rows I’ve lost in the middle band. Instead of increasing every 5 rows, I’m increasing every 7 rows. I’ve got pages of tick marks everywhere. Now I’m color coding them. Using red for the second set, because I’m really in debt on this sweater. And, it looks like my yarn is going to hold out. Whew.
  14. Wow, I have more yarn than I thought. You know, that bottom trim on the sleeves looks skimpy. I’m going to do 3 rows of purls and 1 knit instead of the original 3/2 pattern. The sleeves will be fine with the lesser trim, right? No one will notice?
  15. Shit, the difference really needs to be adjusted. Plus, I have yarn left. I’m not going to let that go to waste, am I? Really? Let’s finish the neckline first, see what I’ve got left.
  16. Neckline goes fast, primarily because this might be the only part of the sweater that I will knit once. I still have beaded yarn left. What do to about that skimpy sleeve trim …
  17. Unraveling the trim on the sleeves. Sigh. Really, Christine, you’ve come this far. It’s 4 rows. Are you really going to be defeated by 4 rows? (Well, 8 if you count each sleeve.)
  18. So much left!OK, two nights later and an another hour’s work and that was probably smart. I can’t wait to show it off! Wait, the high tomorrow is 80? Crap. Plus, I have some beaded yarn left now. What will I do with it?

Holiday Book Series Book 4: At Knit’s End

Next up is a little book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, otherwise known as the Yarn Harlot. She’s sort of a cross between Martha Stewart and Rosanne Barr, minus the ick factor and the psychological issues for both those ladies. She only writes about knitting, which I suppose you are doomed to knit when your maiden name is Pearl, and she’s very funny. She’s also Canadian, but that’s OK.

I’ve gotten several of her books before for Christmas. I guess if you absolutely have to buy a book for a knitter, then this seems to be a go to author. I like her a lot. But, there’s really only so much one can say about knitting, so there’s a sense like I’ve read this before.

This time, it’s based on a devotional book, so the cover has a landscape shot on it, except the grass looks to be made out of one whale of a knotted yarn and the road down the middle is like a stockinette stitch scarf. It’s still on the needles and coving over the purple mountains is a big ball of yellow yarn. Cute. In fact the entire cover is cute. There’s a whimsical font on the front and it’s just … a little too much for my taste. Plus, the peach and turquoise color mix on the front doesn’t work for me. I can’t exactly place it, but it feels familiar. which is probably why it’s leaving me unsettled.

The back has a picture of Ms. Pearl-McPhee and she’s clearly an everywoman. You feel that in her writing, but you can really see it in this shot. She has medium length hair, not particularly styled, glasses, a plain red tshirt and, of course, a knitted sweater. It almost feels like a school portrait.

The inside has one “devotional” a day on it, starting with a quote at the top from someone of note, some writing of humorous observation, and then a moral to the end of this. I won’t read this book all the way through as I don’t think it’s intended to be read in one sitting. It will probably sit on my nightstand and I’ll read three or four then go to sleep. It takes me almost no time to go to sleep, a trait which annoys my husband to no end.

Most of the essays are quite funny, such as that every knitter has a monstrous sweater and that we had to know while we were making it that it would be a disaster and yet we kept going. Why? That’s a good question and I wish I knew, but I too have made the monstrous sweater. In fact, I might have two that I’m in denial about.

She also writes about timid knitters, which she finds crazy. They are afraid to try cables or lace. She says “Be afraid of skydiving. Be afraid of wild boars. Be fearless in knitting.” I agree.

She also suggests to her readers not to underestimate projects for gifts. She reminds them that a book might make a good gift.

Just … not too many books, folks!

Grade: A. Design: B.

The last gift

Swanky hat

Georgeanne must have thought I forgot about her! The fall just got away from me, with work and freelance and running and knitting but I have her gift ready to go, so now it’s time to talk about this last gift.

Georgeanne was the first Director of Religious Education that I knew. She and Larry, who was the religious education chair, went on the suggestion from my mother that I teach Sunday school. Knowing that I’d be reluctant, one of them called up my father and said “your daughter is willing to teach RE if you are” and then the other one called me about the same time and said “your dad is willing to teach if you are.” That was the beginning of teaching RE, which I’ve now done for about eight years.

I didn’t realize that teaching RE would come in handy for other things. It’s certainly given me the confidence to stand up at a large event and make announcements. If you can survive a room of very smart 8- to 12-year olds, nothing else seems as daunting. I also realized it came in extremely handy when conducting focus groups, which we just finished. Trying to coax answers out of 17- and 18-year olds was a lot easier because I’d been doing the same thing with kids for a long time.

Georgeanne made the job look incredibly easy and we didn’t have any idea how good she was until she left. She’d done the job for a long time and decided she didn’t need to do it any longer. We still miss her. She ended up moving to the Charlotte area to be around her grandkids, but she knows she always has a home here at UUFC.

Georgeanne is also a knitter and always been kind about the posting I do about my knitting. She suggested a hat and since everything she has suggested I do has worked out in the past, she gets a hat. It’s another one of these Stitch Diva hats, similar to the one I made for my old fifth grade teacher. It’s not exactly a winter hat, but then again, I’m not sure how much winter weather we’ll get anyway. Wear it down in the South Park area and look swanky, Georgeanne! I’ll get it in the mail tomorrow.

Lebowski Revealed

The Dude Approves

And … it’s revealed! He liked that it was zippered and he seemed impressed … but he didn’t recognize it right away! He liked it, thought it was cool, but didn’t get it immediately. So, what this means is that he REALLY doesn’t read my blog!

I also got to surprise him at dinner. I got there before him, since he was bringing the kid from martial arts class and I arranged for the birthday celebration at Tokyo, our favorite local sushi place. Basically, they bring you a scoop of ice cream with whipped topping and chocolate syrup, stick a candle in it and bring out this big drum. This guy bangs like crazy on it and they sing Happy Birthday in Japanese. Hilarious.

So all in all, besides me having a massive allergy attack after my run, a good birthday for him.

Lebowski DONE


IT’S DONE. When is the birthday, you might ask? THURSDAY. Talk about cutting it to the quick.

Actually, the knitting’s been done for a while now. I blocked it in the back room that we never use, along with a sweater I finished … at the end of April. Just in time for hot weather, yah. So, I left it for a long time, no incentive to finish it, since I’m not going to be wearing it in 90+ degree weather. Finally, I blocked both of them and told him “I’m blocking that sweater that I made, finally, and the door is shut to keep the cats away from it.” Partially true. Any time that door is open, no matter where those cats might be, they are in the room within 30 seconds.

Still, do I think I’ve kept this a surprise from him? No. I suspect that he actually knows. You know what? This is OK. He doesn’t always handle surprises very well. So part of me hopes he’s figured it out. Then he can pretend to be surprised and everyone is happy.

What held me up from finishing this dang thing, besides that he didn’t travel or I was traveling or whatever the excuse, was sewing in the zipper. The amazing, fabulous zipper I was so ecstatic to find. I was totally freaked out about it. I just knew it’d be impossible. And … it was not bad at all. Go figure. I hand-stitched it in. I just knew there was no point in putting a foot on a bulky, loose knit.

The back of the uniform, the REAL surprise

I did turn on the machine and put the Kuk Sool patches on his uniform top. I had to do this for my daughter last year, before he started taking Kuk Sool as well. I’d been pestering him to get the patches, but he’s not done it because he thought it’d be too much work for me. So, this week, since he was gone on Tuesday, I bought the patches and sewed them on. I figured I’d wrap it up and there it would be … but the kid suggested I fold it up … and stick it back in the drawer. A REAL surprise for him. So, that’s what I’ve done.

AbidingWHEE DONE! I don’t think I will ever make another one. It was a massive project. But then again, I guess any men’s sweater is going to be a massive project!

But that’s just my opinion, man. The dude abides. Hopefully the dude getting the sweater adores.

The Ladies of EIU

Me and Stacia

This week, I’m getting ready to head to my last board meeting for UCDA, the University and College Designers Association. This has been an important organization for me. It’s taught me a lot: design inspiration and practice, networking, leadership skills, organization skills, and all the while, I met lots of incredible people and saw some amazing cities. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity, not just because I got elected by my peers, but because Clemson gave me the time to be a part of this organization. (I’ll still be involved, just not on the board for now. Time for someone else to have some fun shaping the organization.)

One of the amazing people I met through UCDA is Stacia Lynch, and through her, the Eastern Illinois University communications staff. What a fun group of ladies this is. They’ve been sweet to adopt me as a sister staff member and we have fun looking at each other’s posts and pictures. I feel I know them as well as some of the people I actually work with at Clemson.

Thanks for all the donations!

Stacia is one of the reasons I started running. Well, along with a fellow Jazzerbuddy who ran a half and got a medal for it. Stacia participated in Team in Training to run a marathon and raised a lot of money for leukemia. This inspired me to put on the running shoes and I’m not the only one; from what I can tell, she’s got most of the office running as well. When I started to raise money for Alzheimer’s during the Bridge Run, the EIU ladies donated to my cause. In fact, they donated a lot more than my own colleagues.

Would you let these ladies help you move in?

So, for the EIU ladies, I made them a beard, in royal blue, as a thanks for all their support. I hope they look good with the blue wigs, ladies!

And there’s one more special lady at the EIU office that gets one more extra gift. Tracy Hall-Ingram was the very first to click on that “make you a gift” thing so many of us posted back in January. Tracy has been through a lot this year. She too took up running and even finished a half-marathon, but as a result, has also found she has a fair number of health problems. Looks like she’s switched to biking, as well as working hard to find out a diagnosis and answers to feeling better. She’s also a big supporter of my sister Carla, who wrote a book about her issues with lupus. (If you know anyone chronically ill, they will thank you for buying them this book.) So Tracy, you get a purse, and for you, I lined it with the same royal blue color. Imagine how fabulous you’ll look if you carry the purse AND wear the beard!

A purse for Tracy!

Unfortunately, budgets mean that the EIU ladies can’t make it to Phoenix. I can’t express how disappointed I am not to see them. They’ve managed to keep me sane on the difficult days and make me laugh on a regular basis. And I know they are just as disappointed to not get to go. So, I hope this little care package brings them a small smile. I promise, I’m dropping it in the mail tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll see them in Montreal!

Zipping up Lebowski

So excited today, because I got THREE packages. First, my No Meat Athlete shirt, which I plan to wear when I run the Spinx Run Fest. (BTW, looking for a fall half or full marathon? This one is a lot of fun, finishes IN the ballpark.) Second, my Superfeet inserts, which I had to buy another pair because I got tired of switching them from my running shoes to my Jazzercise shoes. The new aerobic shoes from Nike just didn’t have enough arch support for my old feet.


But you are not reading this post because of RUNNING, are you? The thing I was really excited to get was a custom-made zipper! And it’s a beaut. The right color, the right length … even the right zipper closure on that sucker.

The original instructions noted that the zipper should have a ring closure on it to match the one in the movie and she found one in a thrift shop that she cut off the original garment. Well, I’m not feeling that lucky plus I don’t spend a ton of time in thrift stores (takes away from knitting, duh), so I googled “custom zipper and found Zipper Source.

I was game and the site was easy to use, so I gave it a try. I got the simplest email ever letting me know that my order was received. It was … quaint.

The "got it" email

Nine days later, I got this very terse email.

The "it's coming" email

Yeah! I did have expect it to arrive in a plain envelope, but it came in a bona-fide Tyvek envelope with a logo printed on it. And it was perfect. And, even American-made, if you like that sort of thing.

Now to sew the thing on. That might be the hardest part of the whole dang sweater. (And I still have to finish the collar, details, details.)