Non-progress happening here.

Well, I actually do have something finished to report on.

Ribbed Chameleon II

During our very briskly cold December past, my son got to wear my Ribbed Chameleon I scarf and soon started to lay claim to it. It became clear that I would have to make him one.  It turned out the yarn was on sale at Village Yarn & Tea, so there weren’t a whole lot of color choices in Karabella Chameleon, but I chose a blue/yellow combo. The whole thing was knitted up in a matter of a few car rides and he’s quite pleased with it and insists on wearing it even in the mildest of weather.

Pattern: Ribbed Mini-Scarf by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Karabella Chameleon, colorway 3214 (one skein)
Needles: 4.0 mm/US 6

On the “non-progress” front—

Grand Duchess is in limbo until I can figure out how many stitches I dropped, and even a life line isn’t much help.  For such an undertaking I need about 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time during the day.  Now, where am I going to get that?  Here’s a thought that crosses my mind when I knit this:  mohair and lace are two words that probably should never be mentioned in the same sentence and, therefore, should never even enter anyone’s mind for a knitting project.

Nantucket Jacket is currently stalling for time, because I’m now almost back to where I frogged it the first time when I decided the size I originally chose would be too big. Now I’m trying to determine where to incorporate extra stitches for the bust in the smaller size without making huge changes to the stitch pattern.  If it weren’t for the sizing issue, this would breeze along, but I find it very refreshing to knit, and I particularly like knowing that I’m using stash yarn as I work on it.

Bird’s Eye Shawl is back out of hibernation because I went to a concert at Benaroya Hall last Monday to hear the amazing violinist Julia Fischer play with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (what a wondrous match-up that is).  I really wanted to take something with me, so Birds Eye happily volunteered itself for the mission.  And good choice it was, as it made a perfect concert companion.  Since then I’ve been enjoying it’s companionship in car rides or during occasional quiet times in the afternoon while my son plays with his toys.  I know it well enough now that I’ve become pretty good at fixing it without ripping out one single row when I make a mistake.  I just wish it didn’t take so long to make one row.

Matcha Market Bag, for those of you wondering, is in hibernation until spring.  After all, it’s really another lace project and I truly love lace, but at this time in my busy life, lace is probably the last thing I should be knitting.

Rib Knitted Shrug is also in hibernation, and at this point, may never see the light of day again.

Purple Autumn, of which I have not said much, is also hibernating.  It’s a sweet little project, but how many lace projects does one need to make at the same time?

Big news:  for my belated Christmas/every-other-2008-gift my husband gave me a Nikon D300 DSLR and it arrived this week.  The crazy thing is, I’ve been using a simple point-and-shoot all along, and I feel like I’ve been driving a minivan and have been put behind the wheel of a Maserati and can’t even figure out where the ignition is.  It’ll probably be a while before you see any product of this camera, but while wandering around 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle in the sun today with all the tourists, I kept looking at different things to photograph and I am delighted with the possibilities.

A real frog.

No frogging to report, but here’s our real resident frog:

This little one has been hanging around our garden hose spigot much of the summer. Until moving to this house, I'd never seen native frogs and didn't know they could be so colorful.

Too bad my Mac isn’t a frog, especially since I doused it with water the other day while typing instructions for the pet sitter.  It was a tense evening in the Domesticshorthair household as my husband came to Mac’s aid in Mac Intensive Care Unit.  It survived the incident, suffering a few damaged files. Whew!  Unfortunately, something’s still a bit funny about it, and I can’t edit pictures very well yet, so my pictures are a bit funky right now.

As for knitting, now that Cabled Coat is off the needles, my attention has been free to look at other things, such as my friend Pamela’s sweater coat. So I set about studying it and jotting down how it was made. I even worked-out the stitch pattern.

My very first, rough attempt at the stitch pattern.

Does this mean that I will be knitting a similar coat soon? No. In fact, I won’t even venture to attempt knitting one any earlier than next spring or summer or even beyond, but I’d sure like to have a copy of it. I decided I’d better write down as much as I could before giving it back to Pamela (it’s getting really cold at night now), because she has never washed it and is afraid to because she doesn’t know what it’s made of and would hate to ruin it. I figure that if I don’t document sufficient information on it, it’ll eaten by moths, and be lost to all knitting-kind. If I don’t have a enough to do, I am writing a pattern (of sorts) at the same time as writing this post, switching between two screens: a feat for the unfocused mind.  As for washing the coat, despite her concerns, I had to wash it and now it’s a much brighter shade of yellow and I can return it to its rightful owner knowing that it’s in good shape to be worn, as well as knowing it’s well documented.

This is my last post before we go on our trip to Italy, France and Switzerland.  I’m so EXCITED!!  I can’t tell you how much I’d been yearning to travel out of the country, especially to Italy, and we’d had no plans for even thinking of such a trip for a few more years.  And then my sister won this trip, and now we’re going!  I’ve been studying Italian and French CDs right and left and I can say that I sound good enough, but I seriously doubt that I’d be able to communicate much without phrase books.  What surprises me, is that I’ve enjoyed learning French more than Italian, I guess because it holds more of a challenge for me (like learning Italian isn’t a challenge?!), plus, it was the first foreign language I was taught some of at the age of 4 at the preschool I went to, and I still remember bits of it. I am so looking forward to eating GREAT food on the trip.  My only other trip to Italy was 4 years ago as a chaperon to 11th-graders and all they wanted to eat was pizza throughout the trip; on the last day, I broke free from the group as they went to an Il Fornaio in Rome and I snuck into a little hole-in-the-wall panini place around the corner that all the suits were heading to.  It was excellent!  This trip is going to be great!  Because all of us are like-minded:  we want real food.

So I’ve finished my instructions for the pet sitter and next I’ll pack.  Packing.  What to bring?  Which knitting project to take?  I really want to take Grand Duchess, but I probably won’t, since it requires too much concentration, a steady hand and nothing but the best of lighting.  I’m thinking Bird’s Eye Shawl and Matcha Market Bag or Purple Autumn.  Purple Autumn is Evelyn A. Clark’s Autumn Lace Scarf for which I’m using Habu Bamboo XS-45 20/3 in eggplant. I really like the pattern (I think I like all of Evelyn’s patterns), although the bamboo lace is tricky to use because it’s pretty slippery and slips off of the needles very easily.  Hmmm, doesn’t sound like a good travelling companion, does it?

Trellis Scarf Completed, or, A Pointed Problem

It’s done! It’s done! Trellis Scarf was fun to knit; the pattern (Interweave Knits, March 2006) created by Evelyn A. Clark offered just enough stitch variation to keep it entertaining, but not so much that it could not be memorized. The yarn, a prize from Tiennie last year, was one skein of hand-dyed machine washable merino, Lace Wing Sock, in Crimson from Angora Valley and was a perfect knitting companion and behaved itself well. Ironically, and this was not planned, Tiennie announced the winners of her yarn giveaway on April 14, 2007 and I finished it on April 9, almost one year later. Thank you, Tiennie! Of course, it didn’t take that long to make, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of knitting time since my son stopped taking naps a year ago.

The only thing I did not like about the way the scarf ended, and I mean this as no criticism of the designer, but it just bugged me the way the end did not exactly mirror the beginning. The way the pattern ends is without the points that it started with at the beginning, and although blocking would probably have created the points, I was a obsessed about it and just had to have points knitted into the end of the scarf. So even though I’d technically finished the scarf on April 7, I ripped the end out numerous times as I sought a solution. I researched numerous books in my substantial library, but found no solution, all in search of pointers on making points. Finally, to achieve that end I found Stephanie on Ravelry, and visited her website for her solution to these points. Poignantly, Stephanie was apparently equally obsessed with this pointed problem, and she went to great pains to solve it. She even created a chart and has made it available to others in search of the Holy Grail of Trellis Scarf endpoints. Blessings upon you Stephanie!

In a nutshell, what Stephanie did was where there should be a point on the end, she knit into the front, then the back, and then the front of a stitch, but when I did that with my yarn it created a big whole with the one stitch from which three were created. So I did something really weird: I knit into the stitch below the next live stitch on the left needle (making st 1), then knit into the live stitch itself (making st 2), and then again into the same stitch below but on the other side of the stitch 2 (making st 3). Finally, when blocked, the end sufficiently mimics the points at the beginning to satisfy my need for perfection. Whew! So, without further adieu, I present to you, Trellis Scarf:

The third picture is the beginning of the whole thing, with its lovely points, and the fifth picture is the end with its mimicked points. For a comparison, the picture below shows the mimicked endpoints on the left and the beginnging endpoints on the right.

Noodles To Make Nana Proud

It’s been a long time coming, but over the past 7 years my husband and I have been on a quest to recreate my Italian grandmother’s pasta. In truth, I started the whole challenge on my own, as part of an attempt to enjoy a slice of the memorable cooking I never learned from Nana, as we grandkids referred to her. My husband (the resident Alton Brown) soon took over the project and tried as he might, he came close but never quite hit the mark. That is, until tonight. Tonight he found the right ratio of flour and egg to create the pasta that Nana made: so light that you can eat it and not feel weighted-down. I have not enjoyed her pasta since 1995, but tonight, Nana’s pasta was resurrected. The even more amazing thing is that my husband never met Nana and never experienced her pasta, he just went by my description. Pasta by Husband; marinara sauce by Rao’s Homemade; inspiration by Nana. Simply amazing. Even the Parmigiano-Reggiano from Trader Joe’s that topped the pasta was unusually fresh and smooth.  Perfection!

Now if I could just recreate Nana’s bagel-like anise seed ciamella (sorry, I don’t know how to spell it), but I’ll just have to wait.

Trellis and Wisp are on a fast race to finish first, and here is Trellis hanging around in an unlikely location, the kitchen. Approximately, 60% done.

7-into-5 Cluster

Working on Evelyn Clark’s Trellis Scarf (Interweave Knits Magazine, Spring 2006), early on you will come across the 7-into-5 cluster step. Some people dread it and for others it’s not that big of a deal. For me, I misplaced my instructions while out of town and had nothing to go on, so I looked online; that was a mistake, because by reading other’s accounts, it sounded much worse than it really is. In reality, it just amounts to a minor speed bump in the whole project, and if anything, it makes the project more interesting. Although I found the instructions for the cluster hard to visualize, once I understood it, it was easy. As the instructions suggest, I highly recommend using a small crochet hook to accomplish it.

Here are some step-by-step pictures of the 7-into-5 cluster (pictures taken with one hand on the camera!):

1) Insert the crochet hook into the 7 stitches on the left needle.

2) Hook the yarn and pull it through the 7 stitches.

3) Place the new stitch on the right needle while leaving the 7 stitches on the left needle.

4) Make one yarn-over (yo) stitch on the right needle.

5) Place the crochet hook through the 7 stitches again, hook the yarn and pull it through the 7 stitches. Although not pictured, this new stitch is then placed on the right needle, along with the preceding 2 stitches (that’s 1 hooked st and 1 yo st).

6) At this point, it’s just a matter of repeating steps 1-5 until there are 5 new stitches on the right needle (that’s 3 hooked sts and 2 yo sts, alternating), while you still have the original 7 on the left needle.

7) The original 7 sts can be removed from the left needle, and the rest of the pattern chart can be followed. Here is the row with the new 5-sts clusters that replaced the 7-sts.

Trailing Trellis

Trellis Scarf is finally beginning to take shape after a year of trying to get it going. Caught-up with other projects, I had barely started Trellis when it went on hold for the holidays. I had the chance this past week to really get some progress on the pattern and get used to it, and now it’s flowing along nicely. I hit a minor road block though with the one tricky step in: 7-stitches-into-5. I researched it on Ravelry and on a couple of blogs, and really didn’t find much help, but with the help of Lauren at So Much Yarn, I was able understand the maneuver. You really do need a small crochet hook to make it work best and, hopefully, I can post pictures of the process soon, but for now the above picture of the point of intersection will have to serve as an example.

On the home front, we were supposed to go to a friend’s daughter’s wedding today, that is, my son (G-man) and I, since my husband was running the sound system for the wedding and he had to be there an hour ahead, but we never made it because G-man fell into the toilet just as we were getting ready! He was pretty mad as he sat there with his backside in the toilet bowl and his arms and legs sticking out; an indignant look on his face. I had a good laugh, but it soon became obvious that the dress and full make-up (I rarely wear more than mascara, concealer, and lipstick) I was wearing were all for naught as he needed a quick bath. Oh well.