Next month:
May 2003

Yesterday (well, I read it

Yesterday (well, I read it yesterday) there were some posts to the Knitlist about coned yarn, which my red wool that I'm knitting Mom's Fuzzy Foot happens to be. These remarks shed some light on my query about its properties:

"There are a couple tips: 1) knit your swatch and let it lie for 24 hours--the process of coning the yarn makes it stretch a bit and it will need to relax to get a true gauge.
2) When knitting from the cone, I wind off a couple rows' worth of yarn ahead of time so that the 'relaxing' begins before it hits my needles. Check your yardage before you begin--and remember, this may be the 'stretched yardage'--so make sure you have some extra yards (not miles, yards!)"

I used my groovy ball winder to pull two big hunks from the cone before I started, since I wanted to knit with a double strand, so the relaxing probably happened. And, since I've already knit one FF pair, and this is to be felted, I confess I didn't knit a gauge swatch (gasp!).

"Cone yarn usually has a different hand then skein yarn. It is designed for commercial machines and often has a finish on it (sometimes oily) that makes it easier to work in machines. Be sure to swatch it (with washing) so that you can see how it will end up. Coned yarn almost always blooms quite a bit in the swatch. I use lots of coned yarn, as do my friends, but experience has taught that it needs more foresight than a lot of skeined yarn (which has usually had either no finish - or the finish washed off in the skeining process).

This is the comment that seems to relate to my sense that this yarn is a bit rough to the hand. And I got one more email reply to my post about that, suggesting shampoo and conditioner, much like Bonne Marie did when I wrote La Bonne Tricoteuse at Knitty about recycling yarn. I'm into the toe decreases now, so I may even get to the felting tonight. Perhaps I'll give it a handwash with the shampoo and conditioner first, pre-agitation.

And the winner is :

And the winner is :

A gorgeous day, a few hundred people, one yarn vendor: it seemed like the best place to start. I'll save Maryland for another spring, when my stash has had a chance to dwindle. Purchase-wise, I came away with DK yarn for a sweater each for me and Caroline, who started the day in her sheep jacket, and finished in a wool fair T. Along the way we fed the llamas, goats and camels; took a tractor-pulled hayride; ate our picnic lunch; watched the shearing, the goat-catching and the clogging; and had our shopping moment in the barn, where we saw a knitting machine demo to boot. On the way out, we said good-bye to one of Chester Farms' newest additions, a lamb just a day or two old.

P.S. Chester started their fair in 1971, and then some folks from Maryland came down to check it out and ask if they could borrow the concept. Proprietor Francis Chester said sure, but requested that they not call it a "wool fair." Hence, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, in which Chester Farms remains a supportive participant, now in its 30th year. The guide to the fair shared this history and noted the date, next weekend, of the other, now larger, event.

Decisions, decisions. I know I

Decisions, decisions. I know I want to go to a wool fest and see some critters and some fresh yarn, but I can't decide whether we'll choose Chester Farms Wool Fair this weekend, when we could go on Sunday, or Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend. The latter sounds a bit overwhelming, with so many offerings, but the timing may be better. Chester usually has theirs two weekends, but dropped last week's because of Easter. Too bad, as I was off on Friday -- but, then again, it rained. Well, I'll have pictures here from one or the other, and welcome your recommendations.

As it's Friday again, the last in National Poetry Month, I'll offer this one from 1996 Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, who was born in Poland in 1923. I'm assuming she wrote this in response to WWII, but it certainly feels timely. (Translated by Joanna Trzeciak)

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We'll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

I started Mom's Fuzzy Foot

I started Mom's Fuzzy Foot Tuesday night with some yarn that a friend gave me. She used to have a knitting business; we have some Christmas stockings from that venture. Now that she is focusing on writing and teaching, she's gifted me with pounds of red yarn. When I started felting, I asked her if this yarn would felt, and she assured me it's all wool and quite feltable. The thing is, it's far from soft to the hand. Does anyone with great fiber knowledge want to say what factors make for softness? Does it depend on the breed of sheep? Does dying affect it? I posted these questions to the Knitlist yesterday, but have only received one response so far: "Softness of wool fiber is largely a function of the fineness of same. Various chemical treatments can make the fiber softer or harsher." Sounds like I was on the right track with my guesses. When I finish this slipper I will discover how the felted fabric feels, but I thought I'd make inquiries in the mean time.

Happy Birthday! to my dear

Happy Birthday!

to my dear friend Pam, a new knitter of baby and doll booties, hats, scarves, bags (and that's just this year) who turns thirty (30) today!

Caroline stays with Pam during the day, so this morning we moms & kids gave her a little surprise breakfast party. The gift bag Caroline & I presented contained a vintage pair of US10-1/2 straight needles, a half-pound cone of red wool yarn, and Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting without Tears. Pam's nephew Jordan, 5, looking on as she flipped through its pages, exclaimed, "You can make anything!" Right on, little man.

Today I decided that I'm

Today I decided that I'm going to make a single Fuzzy Foot for my mom, who had her right leg amputated in December. She's still in PT rehab and doesn't have her prosthesis yet, so one slipper will do her right for her upcoming birthday, even if slipper season is passing. She's watched me knitting every time we've visited, and got to see the Suki bag before and after, but I think it would be nice for her to have a little sample at hand (or foot, as the case may be!). She's had the Christmas quilt I made for her in 1999 on the bed since she's been there (I pulled it out as a seasonal addition, but she likes keeping it around), so I'll photograph it for the blog, too, when I deliver the foot on her birthday next month.

Now the pseudo-Suki will have something to go into the washer with. And if I'm fast enough, there's another pair in the queue for the fiance of the friend I made the first pair for (Lizzi, don't let Matt read the blog!), which I can try to present as a wedding gift, also in May. I guess these will lap the Haiku for a time, but I need a new carry-to-work project, and that sweater wouldn't be it.

Easter greetings! I'm wearing the

Easter greetings! I'm wearing the one-cable shell today, proudly, and will try to photograph it for the gallery later, now that it's not got ends dangling. And I'm making i-cord for the black bag, which is otherwise finished. I may wait to felt it with some other items, though, since it's an undesignated gift. If there's enough yarn, I may also make a tab closure that I'll sew to the inside.

Caroline's wearing something Maggi stitched today, too -- this bishop's dress I made last year when I took a smocking class. I'm so glad it fits perfectly right now, because I did not yet know what her size would be when I made it.

WE did a sort of practice piece in that class as well, which I plan to set into a jumper at some point. But I think the garment needs to be a bit bigger to show it off, so we'll have to wait for my little mouse to grow!

I was happy with both

I was happy with both swatches, but took a survey of two other women in the room when I was binding off the second (2 strands on 8s) swatch at Caroline's sitter's last night. They both chose the smaller stitches, which I agree is appropriate for a small garment for a child. So this morning I cast on the two sleeves, after calculating the pattern numbers last night. A Knitlister I corresponded with after she wrote about the same sweater had had difficulty fitting her sleeves into the armholes and suggested that I start with the sleeves. She ended up frogging her Haiku and I don't want that to happen, so I'll try to keep a close eye on the measurements as I go.

Gorgeous yarns arrived yesterday from Threadbear Fiber Arts, the Indiana business run by knit bloggers Matt and Rob (see links for Crowing Ram and Black Dog at right). Granted, I made the selection after perusing the dozens of Cascade 220 shades they offer, but my choice got the nod from Matt, who's something of a color guru. I should've taken a photo, but I already stashed it. I'll use it to make a felted daypack, from a pattern they also sold me (I pined for it after Rob featured it on his blog). So now I'm racing to finish the pseudo-Suki -- even if I may end up felting them at the same time.

Still swatching. Here's a shot

Still swatching. Here's a shot of the current sample, which is three strands of the yarn on US10s (6mm). I like this fabric; even though it's on the dense side, I still think it is workable. I don't want to go up a size, since the last thing I finished also used 10s, and the to-be-felted is coming along on 11s. So I will also want to see what I think of two strands, on the #8s.

And, it's another Friday in Poetry Month, so I've found a poem to share by a Dutch-American poet I've never previously read. This poem was anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2002. I chose it because Easter's two days away, before I noticed the word knitted in the last stanza.

Return to Saint Odilienberg, Easter 2000
by Claire Nicolas White

At the mouth
of a minor tributary
winding about a man-made hill,
rises the church, its two towers
like teeth. At its feet my parents lie
tucked under river stones
that she assembled there to cover him
then she too slipped in
pulling the coverlet up to her chin.

Years go by, time growing thin.
The bells ring distantly.
I hear them tug at me and bring
my own descendants there
to be aware of roots. They bring
bluebells picked in the meadows
left on the stony hearts
of those who built me.

Then the doors fly open
when Christ rises. In the dark
apse red blazes like blood.
Here all the cherubim assembled
sing me back, a child from the age
of those I brought from far to hear
what I heard then, AGNUS DEI.

Trumpets are announcing
a future still intact
with alleluias. How improbably
eternal is the need to resurrect
past knitted into future,
the world wrapped in a river,
the children and the dead.

After I got those many

After I got those many ends woven in, I turned to swatching for the next project: the Haiku sweater from the first Knitty, to be a birthday gift for my goddaughter Amelia who turns one in July. I crocheted her brother a sweater for his first, then knitted the matching hat and haven't stopped knitting since!

The thing about this pattern is, the knitter sets the gauge. It's great in that it allows you to knit it with any yarn, but it's a bit of a challenge for me because I don't have the experience of knowing what texture of knitted fabric is "correct." Knowing that Kate has some of the same yarn I want to use, an acrylic called Nevada Misty (we both bought it by the bagful from Elann), I asked her what she was planning, strandwise and needlewise. The ball band calls for a US2 with one strand, but I knew I wanted to use two or three. She replied that she liked her swatch of 21st/24 rows to 4 in. (10cm), knit with two strands on size 8 (5mm) needles.

The thing is, I read that in the afternoon, but by the night my memory had messed with the message and I recalled her having used 7s, which I don't (yet) own. So I started a swatch on size 6, with the two strands, and got a pretty dense fabric. It's thicker than I think I'd want the sweater to be -- but am I the only judge? I guess it wasn't the easiest to knit at that thickness either. Too bad I didn't start out with US8, like Kate did, in the first place. Then I might have been happy matching her gauge -- but missed this learning opportunity. So I'll try that size next, but I think I'll also continue the experimentation, and education, by seeing what I want for three strands of Misty.