12.29.2009

west bank or land of the dead

Taking the tram into the Valley of the Kings

Today was filled with a visit to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, Queen Hatshepsut Temple, the Colossi of Memnon, and a trip to an alabaster factory, where vases are carved and polished by hand. We started early, leaving the ship at 7am, and took a ferry across the Nile to the West Bank. After a short car ride we were in the Valley of the Kings. Despite the early morning visit the sun had already begun to shine on the exposed valley. It truly is the land of the dead - no trees, no plants, no shade.
Entering the tomb of Ramses VI

We started our tour by entering the tomb of Ramses VI. The tomb entrance and passages are quite large, unlike the pyramid tombs. Throughout the tomb the walls and ceilings are full of paintings. It’s amazing that the paint is still visible after thousands of years. Apparently the paint was made from ground stone and oils into beautiful blues, reds, greens, yellows, black, and white. We finished our visit to the Valley of the Kings by visiting two more tombs, that of Ramses I and Ramses III, both full of more colorful paintings.

Next we headed to Hatshepsut Temple, an imposing structure built at the base of massive limestone hills. Hatshepsut is an interesting historical figure. Originally a queen of Egypt through marriage (and the half-sister of her husband, the pharaoh), she stole the throne from her young stepson after her husband died. She chose to rule Egypt as a man and is portrayed in statues and paintings with a false beard. After she died, her stepson took power and defaced most of her statues and images. Her mummy was recently discovered and identified by a missing tooth.

Hatshepsut Temple


The Valley of the Queens, where the tombs were built on a much smaller scale, was a few miles away from Hatshepsut Temple. The grander tombs here actually belonged to the pharaohs’ sons who died before the age of 7 (after the age of 7 the sons were buried in the Valley of the Kings). These tombs were much more pleasant to visit, as they had fewer visitors. Here we saw the tombs of Prince Amunherkhepshep, Prince Khaemweset, and Queen Titi.

At the alabaster factory we were shown how alabaster vases were made with hand tools- chisels, grinders, files and sandstone rocks to polish the vases when they were finished. After our tour we had the pleasure of visiting the shop. One of my least favorite things about Egypt is purchasing goods.  L. and I were shown around and asked the price range. We were told, put what you want on the table and we will work out a price. This nearly put us off purchasing anything at all. We did find two pieces that we quite liked and began the bargaining process. The price started at some 1800 EP ($327) and immediately went down to 1600EP ($290) because of a discount. We said there was no way we could pay that much. He asked how much we thought we could pay. L. and I asked for a moment and decided we could pay at most 275EP ($50) for one or 440EP ($80) for both. He countered with 825EP ($150). We asked for a moment to talk it over and decided no, 440EP was our max. He said I can do 495EP ($90) and we said okay. So we walked out with 2 alabaster vases and 3 scarabs (a gift for good luck).


Our final stop of the day was the Colossi of Memnon, where we saw some really old graffiti (Greek and Roman). The Colossi are two statues of Amenhotep III, which originally guarded the entrance to his tomb (no longer present). The statues themselves are huge- 60 feet tall- but are incredibly poor condition. After snapping a few photos we made our way back to the boat for lunch.


L. and I had good intentions of heading into Luxor after lunch to check out streets off of the beaten path, but I drifted into a two-hour nap. The ship is now making its way towards Esna, which we will visit in the morning, and then Edfu and the temple of Horus.

12.25.2009

yes, my friend, very nice




After our first night of real sleep since leaving for our trip L. and I woke up rested and ready to start the day. It felt so good to take a shower and put on clean clothes. AY. picked us up early today around 9:30 and drove us to Giza. Upon arriving in the city you can see the pyramids towering in the background, but because there is so much pollution they look ethereal. AY. dropped us at the ticket counter and this is where our education began.

Today we learned:

  1. People will try to help you, when you don’t need help, and then expect a tip for their (your) trouble.
  2. No fee/I don’t want any money means I expect you to give me money.
  3. Do not take anything from anybody, esp. when they tell you it is a gift and start quickly unwrapping packages.
  4. ALWAYS set the price beforehand, even if you think you already have, and emphasize the fact that you will be paying in Egyptian Pounds.
  5. Make the camel driver drop you off where there are other people.
  6. Carry money in a wallet, not in a money belt and never let anyone see US dollars.

We should have read the sign before visiting the ticket office. On it we would have seen that it costs 60EP to enter the site, 30EP to enter the second pyramid, and 100EP to enter the main pyramid. When we asked for tickets to see the pyramids the ticket agent gave us 2 tickets to enter the second pyramid We took these tickets to the entrance gate and the man there told us we needed a ticket to enter the site, but not to worry because he would get it for us. Instead of going over and getting the tickets ourselves, like we should have done, he told us he would get us two student tickets (half the price of the regular tickets). When he came back he had pocketed the rest of the money (40EP) and then wanted a tip on top of that. Handing out money left and right gets tiring quickly.

After going through metal detectors we were able to enter the site. As soon as we stepped out the other door someone asked to see our tickets and said don’t worry I work here. He took our tickets and started walking us to some structure. When we got there we told him that L. and I wanted to walk around the pyramid on our own and he said okay we will go here and here and then we can get a carriage, and we this and we that. We said no, us without you, and again the we this and we that, this time with illustrations in the sand of all of the wonderful things we three would do at the pyramids. This time we said no, not with you and walked away. Luckily he did not follow.

At this point we were very hungry because we hadn’t yet had breakfast. We decided to fast track it to food and look at the pyramids later. We walked out of the site and asked the guard if we would be able to reenter with the same ticket. He said, “Yes, do you have a pen?” I gave him one thinking he had to mark on the ticket in some way. Instead he shook the pen at me and said, “A souvenir” and proceeded to keep it!

In the city we found a delicious fruit smoothie place. For less than $1 L. and I both got a glass of strawberry, some Egyptian fruit, and mango, with banana and pear slices. It was delicious. Then we went and had a proper meal. We found a kebab restaurant and ordered kebab. When the food was delivered we couldn’t believe the portions. We must have gotten an entire chicken, along with a pound of mixed meats. We stayed at the restaurant a long time, but we (mostly L.) ate all of it.


Sayings that Hint Trouble:

  1. My friend, my friend (followed by anything)
  2. I make you very happy, you make me very happy (with money)
  3. No problem, no problem
  4. A gift, a gift
  5. America forever
  6. Where are you from?
  7. Don’t worry
  8. I work here
Back at the pyramids we went to see the Sphinx first. It truly is spectacular. The base of the Sphinx is protected by a stonewall, so it must be viewed from a story or two up. Behind the Sphinx you can see the first and second pyramid in the distance. We spent some time taking photos and talking with a man from Vermont.

My personal space was invaded for the first time on our way to view the pyramids. L. and I were walking through the sand up a large hill to get back to the first pyramid when a man approached L. and asked him where he was from. L. replied America and a broken conversation started. As we kept walking up the hill the man shoved something in L.’s hands and said a present for you. L. said thank you but I don’t need a present and tried to give it back. The man wouldn’t take it so we hurried on. The man ran up to me and said a present for you and shoved the same thing in my hands. We kept walking and he followed. He ran up to in front of me and took the thing he gave me out of my hands. L. and stopped walking, big mistake, Before I knew it he took my hat off of my head, unwrapped the package, and shoved the traditional desert headdress on my head. A second man ran up and quickly began unwrapping three pyramid statues and shoved them into L.’s hand and then demanded money from him. L. said we don’t want any of this stuff and they started yelling at him. L. gave them some money to get them to stop. What a hassle. We did learn that if this happens again to just drop whatever it is they shove at you and not to stop walking no matter what.

Inside the pyramid.

We made it to the second pyramid where we had tickets to go inside. The way into the pyramid is down a narrow, low-ceilinged, poorly lit shaft that looks never ending. We followed a line of people down until we reached the actual entrance. People were both going down and coming up at the same time. I panicked and couldn’t do it. It took three or four times for me to attempt entering before I finally got up the courage to go in (I waited until it was only L. and I in the shaft) I proceeded to run down the wooden planks, bent over at the waist because the shaft must have only been 4 ft tall by 5 ft wide. I didn’t want to get caught in the shaft with another person. Once you have gone thirty to forty feet down the shaft straightens out and the ceiling raises to about 5’9”. You have to walk another twenty to thirty feet before having to walk up another narrow, low-ceilinged shaft that leads to another straight shaft and into the burial chamber. The heat inside was suffocating. Inside there were no hieroglyphs and only the bottom of a large, unadorned sarcophagus. After spending a minute or two inside the chamber we made our way back to fresh air. I’m glad I worked up the courage to go in; it was quite an experience.


L. and I decided that we wanted to take a camel ride to the third pyramid. The guidebook said camel rides cost 35EP for an hour ride, but to negotiate. We found a camel rider who agreed to take us for 30EP.  The ride started out innocent enough, a slow walk toward the far pyramid. When the camel driver stopped the camel my personal space was invaded for the second time. The camel driver had the camel bend down and he climbed on and proceeded to sit in my lap! I was so uncomfortable sandwiched between the driver and L. as the camel ran across the desert. All along the way the camel driver kept saying, “Are you happy? I make you very happy, you make me very happy.” We got to the third pyramid, took some pictures and then returned to near the first pyramid. When we stopped the camel driver made us get off in an area where there weren’t any people. He then said we needed to pay him $30. We said, no we agreed on 30EP (about $6). He started yelling at us. We gave him his money and left. The people of the pyramids are like pirates, they really give Egypt a bad name. The silver lining is we learned from this and can share the info we E. so that she doesn’t run into the same problem.

On our way out of Giza we stopped at the first pyramid again to climb up it to where the burial chamber entrance starts. L. and I went individually up so that we could get pictures. I went up first and then L. When L. was climbing my personal space was invaded for the final time. When I was sitting near the pyramid a little girl with a nose totally crusted over with bright green buggers came up and asked me for a piece of gum. I gave her a piece and she hugged me and kissed me on the check. For the next 10 minutes as I waited for L. she asked me for a piece of gum every minute. I would say, “I already gave you a piece” and she would reply “Oh yeah, oh yeah, I sorry.”

I was happy to get back to our house. The pyramids are cool, but it’s exhausting being approached every two seconds and asked for money. On a side note I discovered that gas station bathrooms are incredibly clean and the preferable place to stop to use the lou.

12.22.2009

terminal


This is what our snowstorm looked like from the air. 

L. and I finally left for our trip to Cairo today. We left early this morning for Dulles, got our tickets for the first leg of the trip to NYC and checked our bags on to Cairo. There was no panic, no mad dashes through the airport to catch our plane(some what of a change for us). The plane ride was pleasant- it left nearly on time and we both got single seats. So far so good. 


When we got to JFK we went to the Egypt Air ticket counter to get seat assignments for the second leg of our journey. Unfortunately that's not what happened. The ticket agent told us that we did not have reservations with them even though we had electronic tickets saying that in fact we did. The best that they could do was put us on standby. After a calm panic we went to the Northwest ticket counter. Unlike our experience on Saturday the ticket agent was incredibly helpful. After a log time of searching for flights to make this trip possible she found a flight headed to Amsterdam and then on to Cairo arriving on December 24. Our bags however were already headed to Egypt Air. We were assured that our bags would be pulled from the plane and that we could pick them up and recheck them on our KLM flight. After grabbing a beer and food we headed down to the domestic baggage claim to wait for our bags. We waited and waited and waited...no bags. After nearly 3 and a half hours of waiting and a plane boarding in less than an hour we had no luggage. 


Holding back tears, as this had already been an incredibly stressful trip, where nothing was seeming to go right, I spoke with the baggage claim handler who told us that it looked like our bags went on to Cairo. Her advice was to speak with EgyptAir upon our arrival (at 2:15am) to locate our bags. On a side note, we are planning on leaving on a camel caravan later that morning if we are able to book it. That means that L. and I will be stinky, without a clean change of clothes after two days of travel, with a two day trip into the desert. I can't see myself wearing the same clothes for 4 days in a row. Maybe I should've picked up some undies at the Victoria Secret in the airport.



This is what I have been working on off and on while waiting in the terminal all day.
Pattern: Rowan free gift with subscription cowl

12.19.2009

grounded



At 1 am on Friday L. and I made the treacherous 50-mile journey to Fairfax in the heavy snowstorm that hit DC. The drive to E.’s house was scary and I was really glad when we finally got there. Earlier that evening I found out that our flight had been cancelled. I called Northwest to figure out what was going on and after nearly 5 hours of being on hold and not reaching a live person I hung up. I figured it would be easier to talk to a ticket agent at the airport.


We left for the airport around one. When we got there a snide, sarcastic ticket agent greeted us. After arguing back and forth about getting on the next flight to Cairo we were told everything had already been rebooked and we would have to wait until Tuesday to fly. I was pretty irked by this news as it meant that we missed our Nile cruise (already paid for). Not only that, but it also meant that we missed 4 days from our trip, we were no longer going to Amsterdam, and that we had to fly with EgyptAir (I purposely paid an extra $200 per ticket when we booked our flight so we wouldn’t be flying EgyptAir). We received tickets to leave on Tuesday, fly into NYC, and then on to Cairo.


I guess the next few days I will be knitting in Fairfax as we wait to make our trip to Egypt.

12.18.2009

tick tock...


Mr. S models his sweater for the ugly sweater party he will attend later this weekend.
I love the miniature sweater pockets appliqued on- they add a nice touch.

I can't believe we have 1 day left until we get on a plane headed for Africa! But can you believe it- a stupid snowstorm is heading our way (usually snow storms are not stupid as they close schools here in VA). We're supposed to get 11-14 inches. I hope that 95 isn't closed and that our plane isn't delayed too much. AHHHHHH!


I'm so excited about our upcoming trip. L.. and I are leaving on Saturday and arrive in Amsterdam early Sunday morning. Because of a lengthy layover we get to spend a day touring the city. On the agenda are Anne Frank House, a canal tour, breakfast and lunch, and perhaps knit shops (I heard a rumor, that I'm hoping is true, about inexpensive addi turbo needles). At 8:55pm we board another plane bound for Cairo and arrive in Egypt at 2:30am.


In elementary school I read the Egypt Game and ever since then I have been fascinated by Egyptian history. I can't believe I'm actually going to visit all of the places about which I have read! After arriving in Cairo we are going to take a cruise down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. Then we will  take a camel caravan into the White Dessert for 4 days. Back to Cairo for New Year's Eve and then a 5 day trip to Petra and the Dead Sea in Jordan. Finally, we will tour Cairo and Alexandria with my sister E. and her boyfriend D. when they arrive in January. I'm hoping to come back with lots of treasures, from Egyptian cotton fabrics, to buttons and beads, and yarns and fiber. Wish me luck in the markets!


I feel like this past month has been full of marathon knitting. I finished my two surprise gifts for my mom and sister's birthdays in November. I was really happy with how the feather and fan cowl (for my mom) and the neried fingerless gloves (for E.) turned out. Best of all I have enough yarn left over from both projects to create a cowl and fingerless gloves for myself!


Holiday knitting commenced right after finishing the birthday gifts. I've gotten a good amount done, however today is crunch time. I have the tops and thumbs to put on two sets of fingerless mittens, and the leg and cuff to put on a pair of socks. How I will accomplish this before leaving tomorrow I'm not sure. It will truly be a holiday miracle. I do have a silver lining to this fury of knitting- because we aren't celebrating the holidays with L.'s immediate family until we get back those presents can be done on our vacation.


Happy holidays to all. With any luck I will be posting from Egypt in a few days!

11.17.2009

the jarrett jacket

I can't believe it's actually done.




I started the Jarrett Jacket, designed by one of my favorite designers- Kim Hargreaves- during a summer trip to L.'s parents' house in upstate NY. After getting partially done with the back I ripped it out because it was too wide. Armed with smaller needles, I started this project again after settling into the new school year. With the correct gauge I quickly finished the back and front pieces. The sleeves felt like they took forever, and to add insult to injury, after completing them I had to rip back about 12 inches because they were too wide. I didn't do a bunch of the increases the second time and ended up cutting out an inch from both sides of the sleeve to make sure they fit at the shoulder.




While extensive, the finishing work on this jacket- button bands, a large collar, shoulder and elbow patches, and sewing on buttons- was also what made it so beautiful.  I am in love with with the 40s style vintage design. I opted for Knitpicks City Tweed over the Rowan tweed because it is way softer (made from 55% Merino wool, 25% superfine alpaca, 20% Donegal tweed) and way more affordable at $3.99 a skein.




My favorite touch to this jacket is the buttons. They came from Nicaragua, found by my sister E. on a recent trip. They are actually seeds, one of my new favorite button materials. Unfortunaely she only came home with the six of them so they are not available at worldknit & handspun, but I do have some other beautiful natural buttons for sale.





Now that Jarrett is done I have started and need to finish a super secret knitting project for a special someone's birthday next week. I just got the yarn yesterday at the Knitter's Cottage and will hopefully be able to post more details this weekend.

11.10.2009

nyc in a day

Knitting in Times Square


This past weekend L. and I took a quick trip to NYC to visit my brother, M., who was visiting from Colorado. Usually when we go to NY we drive (L.'s from Westchester), but my sister suggested we take Megabus. It was so nice having someone else drive us to the city. I had hoped to knit the whole way there and back, but our bus left at 12am on Saturday and returned 9pm on the same day, so instead I slept.


I really enjoy spending time with my brother. With M. on the opposite coast we usually only see each other once or twice a year. We couldn't have asked for a better day. The weather was gorgeous for November- not too cold and sunny. We spent most of our day walking around, people watching, and eating. One of my favorite things about NYC is the variety of ethnic foods from which to choose. We had a delicious meal at Tara Thai (not the chain) in the Village and our waiter, Charlie, was great.


A trip to NYC could not be complete without looking at yarn. I made sure to stop at Purl in Soho. I love the aesthetics of their shop, but the shop itself is super tiny and I felt like I kept bumping into people. Purl has a beautiful selection of colors- when you enter the shop it looks like you are stepping into a watercolor box. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately I didn't come home with anything (if you saw my stash you would understand why).


Purl in Soho


I wish that I had been able to go to more yarn shops, but this was a family visit not a yarn visit. Perhaps I can convince some of my knit night friends to spend a day, maybe in February/March, on a yarn crawl.

10.23.2009

a chill in the air


This past week we got an early taste of winter weather. The temperatures dropped into the 30s and 40s and it rained and rained and rained. Stuck in the house I was left to knit (how wonderful).  I curled up with an afghan and spent my weekend on the sofa.

With winter around the corner I thought that it was probably a good idea to plan my marathon holiday knitting. I went through my stash, assigned projects to the yarn, photographed the yarn with the pattern, bagged it, and added the whole mess to Ravelry. I am so excited, lots of new projects to start. Here some of the photos:


Solomons Socks
my own design



Fingerless Gloves
knitpicks



Cabled Gloves
michele rose orne



Sculptured Lace Scarf
Kenny Chua



Herringbone Scarf
my own design



Retro Rib Socks
evelyn a. clark



Felted Slippers
drops



Embossed Leaves 
mona schmidt



Fountain Lace Short-Sleeve Sweater
madeline weston


I was really excited to get a jump on the Fountain Lace Short-Sleeve Sweater. The yarn that I am using is a little bit thicker than what the pattern calls for. In order to adjust my gauge I had to do the rib on size 0 needles. Using size 0 needles with inflexible cotton is not very fun. After breaking a set I loosened my tension a bit. The rib was successfully completed however the number of increases called for in the setup row was incorrect. So after ripping that row I decided to use my new Adobe Illustrator skills to create a chart. It worked like a charm. In 4 short inches I will be able to start the armholes for the back. There is one thing I will change the next time I knit this. It will be knit in one piece in the round. The purling is going way slower than the knitting.  

10.13.2009

fiber in the fall

October in Virginia is one of the prettiest times of year. The leaves start to turn golden yellows, pumpkin oranges, and deep crimsons while the air becomes crisp and cool. You couldn't ask for a better backdrop for the Fall Fiber Festival held at Montpelier plantation, the former home of James Madison and the Duponts.  This beautiful plantation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains is also where my husband L. and I were married.


While fiber festivals are fun for knitters, they are especially enjoyed by spinners. The multitude of fiber breeds and colors makes me feel like a kid in a candy store and the fact that I can actually touch before I buy doesn't hurt either. 


My favorite fiber


This year L. and I met up with some friends from knit night. We started the morning with a delicious breakfast at Eileen's Bakery in Fredericksburg before the hour of car knitting it took to get to Montpelier. My friend R., a new spinner (who just purchased a beautiful wheel), could not wait to get her hands on some new fodder for her Rose.




The Montpelier fiber festival is tamer than Maryland Sheep and Wool. There are fewer vendors and no country fair style animal judging. The relaxed atmosphere of  the festival made for a nice morning of perusing stalls and fondling fiber. After a small snack of kettle corn and sparkling lemonade L. and I checked out the dogs. I really enjoyed the shepherding dog trials (something that I did not see at MD S&W). It's amazing how the dogs have the sheep on lockdown. 


I left the fair with two new fiber editions to my growing collection- cloud-like bunny angora and a super soft combed merino top dyed in reds and purples. I've never spun with angora, but I'm looking forward to the experience. I think I will use the merino to spin up lace weight for a shawl.


10.05.2009

a weekend with Cookie A.

Two weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend the Weekend with Cookie A. knitting retreat in Solomons, MD. I arrived early Saturday morning and parked along the bay. Getting out of the car I was struck by the island’s beauty-- the sun glistened on the water as seagulls perched on a nearby pier. The location for a peaceful weekend of knitting couldn’t have been better.






The view from our "classroom"




Intuitive Chart Reading
The retreat started with a class on intuitive chart reading. Cookie loves charts, and after her explanation of how easy they are to read, I do too! When I knit Jared Flood’s Green Autumn Mittens I remember how long it took having to go back and forth between the chart and the key. I wish I knew then what I know now- with a basic understanding of how and why charts are written I can save time because I no longer have to flip back to the key. Check it out:


Basic Chart Symbols

These are the symbols you will most often see on charts.


Flat vs. All-Purpose Charts
Avoid flat knitting charts; all-purpose charts are the way to go (see the gansey examples below). All purpose charts will give you directions for both the RS and the WS, but will always show you what the RS should look like. Remember when you are reading all-purpose charts for flat knitting you start from the right and move to the left. Row two starts on the left and moves to the right. If you are knitting in the round you always start on the right hand side.




Flat Knitting Chart



All Purpose Knitting Chart




Understanding Cable Symbols
A cable symbol can be broken down into two parts- the stitches that are put on the cable needle (left side of the symbol) and those that are knit first (right side of the symbol). The other thing to look for is the direction of the cable- left or right. Cookie taught us a saying to help you remember- “I LEFT you out FRONT, but I will be RIGHT BACK.” If the cable symbol leans to the left then you put the cable needle to the front. If the cable symbol leans to the right then you put the cable needle to the back. You can also combine symbols within a cable so that you can purl or knit through the back loop.







Traveling Stitches
The second class I took was Traveling Stitches. This class taught you how to take a vertical pattern and make it lean at an angle using cabling or paired increases and decreases. This class was pretty tough. If you are interested in how this works I’d suggest purchasing Cookie’s book, Sock Innovation. A good understanding of intuitive chart reading will be a huge help in learning this skill.





Resizing Stitch Patterns and Creating the Perfect Rib
The third class I took was about resizing stitch patterns and creating the perfect rib.  You can resize any stitch pattern, but be sure to keep these points in mind.
1.     If you add stitches to make a pattern wider it won’t flow the way it did before  (your diagonal lines will be off). If you widen something that has diagonal elements you also have to make it taller relative to the pattern repeats (increase both sts and rows).
2.     If you add rows to in make the pattern longer it won’t flow correctly (the diagonal pattern will look like it is sitting inside the diagonal pattern below it). If you lengthen something that has diagonal elements you also have to make it wider relative to the pattern repeats (increase both sts and rows).
3.     The easiest way to see what you are working with is to use colored pencils to color in the various sts on the chart. Once you outline the different stitch areas you can replace the sts with anything.



Notice how the rib flows into the sock pattern


When creating a rib for a knit garment it will look a thousand times better if you make sure that your rib pattern flows into the garment. To do this, work backwards from the garment pattern into the rib. You may need to increase or decrease stitches from your ribbing to your garment. To do this, the last row of ribbing (the row that flows into your garment) should be the set up row. Determine the best place to increase or decrease a stitch (usually directly next to a cable or in the background of a design).



Top Down Sock Design
My final class of the weekend was Top Down Sock Design. I myself prefer toe up socks, not because of the kitchener stitch, but because I find that when using two circulars on top down socks my stitch joins aren’t tight enough. I think if I was still using dpns to make socks top down wouldn’t be such a big deal. Maybe I should start on the dpns and then move to circulars. Regardless, Cookie prefers top down because of the design benefits (fold the sock at different places to figure out where you want your heel and top of foot) and because you can make sure the sock isn’t too tight to fit over your heel.


Things to keep in mind when sock designing:
1.     If you want row repeats to match up when using multiple stitch patterns in a sock, choose patterns whose rows have the least common multiple (the smallest number- not zero- that is a multiple of both numbers). For example, if one pattern is a 12-row repeat and another pattern is a 10-row repeat they won’t line up again until row 60.
2.     For colorwork, chevron, and bias-stitch socks always add more stitches because the sock will have less elasticity.
3.     Be sure to factor your “suckage” for cables (usually a 50% stitch loss, so a 4-st cable has the same width as 2 sts). You can always stagger your cables to correct the suckage.
4.     Check the sizing of your sock after one full repeat. If it is too big pinch to see how many stitches you need to eliminate.
5.     If your heel flap is narrower than 50% of the total sts then you need to make the flap longer and vice versa.


During this class we got a chance to design a pair of socks. I’m excited about my honey-combed socks with a bobbled cable running straight up the back of the leg. The pattern is finished and the knitting has begun! I will post them when I have them knit up.



Me and Cookie A.




9.29.2009

somethings just weren't meant to be

I’m currently in a bad relationship with a purple v-neck sweater. My once amorous feelings towards this merino knit have now turned to frustration and sometimes despair. I may have to cut my losses and end it before I never want to see this item of clothing again.


My relationship began back in August on my way to the TKGA conference in Buffalo. I just received a package of KnitPicks merino style in a vibrant shade of purple and was itching to start a project. Enter fall 2006’s Vogue Knitting pattern, the Embellished V-Neck. I had been eyeing this sweater for a while and felt that this was the perfect opportunity to start. I quickly finished the back, as it was knit mostly in stockinette, with garter stitch shaping around the waist. In my haste to start the front, I didn’t read the directions thoroughly enough and missed the part about “shape as for back.” When I was nearly finished I looked at my work and thought, “Wow, the front sides look kind of thin. Ut-oh.” That’s when the ripping began.


Ripping for me isn’t devastating. Because knitting is meditative, it’s almost like creating a mandala. You work and work on this beautiful piece of art and then blow it away, or in this case rip it out and start over.


I re-knit the front and then began on the sleeves. I knit the sleeves two at a time, so that when I finished them I’d be able to piece the sweater together. When the sleeves came off my needles I looked at them and thought, “Those look pretty big.” When I got out my measuring tape (like I should have at the beginning) I realized that my gauge was off. Time to rip the whole thing out-sleeves, front, back-and start again, this time doing a gauge swatch.


I finished re-knitting everything and then did something that I never do and may never again, except for lace- I blocked it, or I should more accurately say, over-blocked it. The top of the sweater was super long, which would have put the shaping around the largest part of my body, thus accentuating my hips instead of my waist. Frustration and cursing ensued, but then I thought “What would Tim Gunn say in this situation- make it work.”


I decided to steak the top of the sweater at the shoulder seams, cut it and then sew it together. This actually worked, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you can help it. I set in the sleeves, and picked up and knit the v-neck garter rows. After trying on the sweater last night, my feelings of frustration turned more to despair after seeing where the sleeves sat (I’m happy with the body of the sweater except for the excess fabric around the arms). I really don’t want to re-do it. So what I’ve decided is to walk away until I’ve gotten over the ill-feelings and when I pick it back up I think that I will either re-sew the sleeves or make it into a v-neck vest. Maybe in this relationship “make it work” wasn’t the best advice.











You always learn lessons from bad relationships, and in this case it was a lesson about myself. I learned that I’m an impulsive knitter. I don’t check gauge and I jump into projects without completely reading the directions. The funny thing is I do these things because I think that it will save me time, but it does it really when I have to knit the sweater twice?!

8.31.2009

feeding my addiction

This past Saturday the Knitter's Cottage in Fredericksburg had its summer sale. I met up with D. and we scoured the store. I came home with these...





Rowan Tapestry
color: Rustic (174)
$6.00/skein






Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Lace
color: black (500)
$6.00/skein


I bought the rowan with a cowl in mind, but haven't found the perfect lacy pattern yet. The plymouth baby alpaca will be turned into two projects from Knitted Lace of Estonia. Alpaca has to be my absolute favorite fiber. You get the softness of cashmere, with a whole lot of warmth (I run cold).





Lily of the Valley Scarf
By Nancy Bush





The Trinu Scarf
by Nancy Bush


On a side note, I just downloaded the Weeds, Season 4 soundtrack and I'm loving it.
 
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