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Thanks to Jaalo Spiro, editor of Knitcircus, I was able to give away ten copies of the Gift Issue patterns.  Winners were Carolyn B, Rachel C. Sue H. Knitmomma, Anne A., Pam B., Katie M., Cristi B., Kate B., and Jay C.  Your email has been sent.  Let me know if you haven’t received it by now.

Thanks also to those who didn’t win.  The winter issue is next up and, perhaps, we can do another giveaway.  At any rate, I hope you will stay synced with this magazine; the folks who have created it are such wonderful people.

Also many thanks to those of you who responded to the news about Henry.  Knitters are so often animal lovers and know the pain of losing that little being filled with unconditional love.  We are doing fine.  Jake is depressed and not doing so well;  he’s confused I guess.  Time will help.

In the meantime I’m frantically knitting towards a Weds. deadline for mailing new pattern to Knitcircus.  It’s kind of exciting to be “on deadline.”  I have lots of yarn, ideas, and patterns to share and will get my act together this weekend.  Watch for it.

Regarding Henry by Steve Prater

Henry David Prater


Steve wrote this mainly to entertain himself on 6 Jan 2008; it’s too good not to share.

I’m a great admirer of my dog Henry.  We’re both plump little grey fellows, and we’re both a bit smarter than we look, but he’s miles ahead of me in positive attitude and clarity of purpose.

Henry, however, was born a dog.  Right from the get-go, then, you knew he wasn’t going to be winning any Nobel prizes in physics, or writing the great American novel, or even getting a plaque for employee of the month at Walmart.  Even among his own species, he doesn’t have the sort of pedigree that would lead one to expect much.  He doesn’t have the long-legged, short-haired, lean and hungry look that seems to be the world-wide standard for feral dogs.  Neither does he have the engineered beauty of the pure-bred show dog.  He’s got short sturdy legs, a body like a 30-pound keg of nails, big floppy ears, scruffy coat, and a sparsely fringed tail that looks as if it were purchased in a thrift shop after it had served two or three lifetimes on other dogs.  But what he has accomplished with his meager gifts makes me ashamed of the use I’ve made of mine.

He was a foundling fourteen years ago at a restaurant where a friend of my younger daughter worked.  It was a Greek place as I recall – and I mean a place operated by people of Greek heritage who cook and served traditional Greek food.  Not one of the thousands of restaurants operated by people of Greek heritage who serve Italian, French, Cajun, or southern (American) country food.  Anyway, a dog soon to be named Henry showed up there one rainy night wet, alone, and injured.  The very softhearted Mediterranean girl who found him got him patched up and asked her friend (and my daughter) Meghan if she knew anyone who would adopt him.  Meghan knew her mother would take him in, so that’s who she went to.  I didn’t think it such a great idea, but I didn’t object too much.  Good thing, too.  Turns out I was wrong.

He was accepted into the house as an auxiliary, sort of back-up dog, to an already resident – and perfectly adequate – primary dog by the name of Waldo.  Henry’s veterinarian guessed that Henry was about two years old at the time of his adoption.  Waldo was also a foundling, but his finder was the county animal control worker who picked him up wandering around in one of Charlotte’s seedier neighborhoods.  “Nice Dog” was written on the animal control worker’s report sheet about Waldo’s capture.  Good judge of canine character: that county employee.  When Waldo was sprung from the pound to start his life of ease and comfort he was about nine months old, and it was several years  later when Henry joined him.  Whatever jealousy and territorialism that existed at first were quickly overcome and before very long Henry and Waldo not only got along but seemed to enjoy each other’s company.  As soon as he became acquainted with his new accommodations, Henry immediately set about establishing himself as a professional pet with the sort dedication and work ethic that would make Amish carpenters look like slothful layabouts.

Henry and Waldo had about eleven years together before Waldo died in the early spring of 2007.  For the first eight or so of those years, Waldo was the sergeant in charge of the canine contingent of the household; even though Henry was always the more conscientious about performing all his professional pet duties – greetings upon arrival, following from room to room, offering comfort and acceptance, barking at perceived threats, and generally making the world a more pleasant place for his humans.  After his second knee surgery when he was about eleven years of age, Waldo essentially retired.  Apart from barking at the postman when he pushed the mail through the slot in the front door, he abandoned his dog jobs; and, although he still insisted on and enjoyed his daily walks, he resigned himself mostly to napping and eating.  Henry took up the slack.  He assumed a leadership roll and, with an admirable buoyancy of spirit, saw to it that no household duties for which dogs were responsible were left unattended.

Not very long after Waldo died, a new dog – another rescue dog, of course – was added to the household.  The new dog arrived with, and kept, the name “Jake.”  Jake is mostly Shitzu and is a very athletic and energetic little 12-pounder with some very unfortunate dentition.  His lower canine teeth are almost horizontal instead of the customary vertical and therefore nearly useless for biting anything.  Jake and Henry have accommodated each other, but they are not close as were Waldo and Henry.  A little more Cain and Abel than Moses and Aaron.

Henry is more than fifteen years old now.  He lost his hearing a little more than a year ago.  For years, when he and Waldo took their afternoon walks, Waldo was on lead and Henry was free to run untethered.  Waldo, you see, had his own ideas about what was proper to investigate and where he should be allowed to roam.  He would not always obey voice commands.  Henry, however, would; and therefore he moved on his circuit of the neighborhood without the humiliating bonds of a leash.  But then, after years of perfect response to voice commands, he began, it seemed, to ignore his humans.  Even my directions about when to make a dash through the path of the oscillating lawn sprinklers went unheeded.  A doorbell test proved it: the little guy was deaf.  Clearly, he struggled with this new development.  He began positioning himself in ways that prevented someone approaching undetected.  He’d rest in the forest of dining room chair and table legs or sleep in nooks protected by furniture on two or three sides.  Even deafness, though, hasn’t crushed the little guy’s lively spirit.  He’s on a lead every day now, but still he struts around the neighborhood on his walks like a frat-boy cruising the student union – threatening the squirrels, greeting the humans and dogs, and holding his thrift shop tail high and proud.

Henry has been a healthy fellow his whole life until recently.  He had a bout of pancreatitis during Thanksgiving week and spent two nights in the hospital.  He was quite flattened by this disease and was clearly in pain.  Some IV antibiotics had him feeling better pretty quickly and within two days after coming home, he was his old self again.  Now just after New Years, he’s in for some more tests.  He went in to have a little cough attended to, but his blood work showed more problems.  Maybe Cushing’s disease.  Except for the cough, he seems to feel okay, but there are some tests to make sure.  We’ll see.  There’s a lot longer view in both our rear view mirrors than through our windscreens, but I don’t think the little guy checks his mirrors much.  Of course, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.  Maybe he’ll outlive me; who knows?    If he doesn’t, though, I’ll see that he’s buried in the front yard next to Waldo; they can both look for the mailman’s brazen approach to the door every day.

Whatever happens, it has been an honor to share living quarters and time on the planet with him.  Well done, Mr. Henry.  Very well done, indeed.

and this today, 23 Sep 2010

The paragraphs above were written almost 21 months ago.  Henry did indeed have Cushing’s disease.  He took medication for the Cushing’s and, calling again on his buoyant spirit, he soldiered on.  A few months later he began having coughing attacks; diagnosed as congestive heart failure.  He began taking medications for that, too; but the little guy was just wearing out.  His walks were sometimes cancelled and often abbreviated and slowed to a short course of strolling and smelling, but he still relished the outings.  He still did his best to gather up his age-distorted body into a proud young-dog posture when there was a human or another dog to greet.  Toward the end he had much trouble keeping traction on smooth floors or negotiating even very short stairs, and he seemed to relish more than ever having his ears rubbed.  His face took on a look of angelic sweetness.  Donning his vestments, I guess.

He happily embraced his jobs, maintained a splendid attitude, loved and honored his people, lived quite a long time for his species, and had a good quality of life until his very last days.  What creature – Canidae or Hominidae — could want more?

He will be missed.

Thanks to Cristi Brockway for the pictures of our guy.

Knitcircus Giveaway #2–Gifts

The special gift edition of Knitcircus was released last week.  It’s a bit smaller version, but the patterns are big time. If you are knitting holiday gifts, you need this issue.

I was so excited to see that Jenny Snedeker designed a holiday vest for a boy!  Girls get most of the kids patterns and she also designed an adorable girl’s dress.  But as the DGM of two boys, I am championing the plaid vest.

Kendra Nitta has some lovely Frilly Cuffs that I think I need in a white fingering weight linen hiding in my stash.  They are really drapey and I love drape.

Dani Berg did a pattern called Serendipity Earwarmers that I can so see on Cristi or another woman named Dani, both of whom have fabulous hair.

Well, then there is Miss T’s wild party shawl and from Ada Lai (oh, most fabulous and gifted tech editor extraordinaire) a great last minute bath set.  You should just knit up a bunch of these and keep on hand to wow people you like.  (“knit up” isn’t a technical term; we Southerners just like to throw in extra prepositions now and then.)

Well, now how do you get these patterns?  Some of you can get them right here for free.  Yeah, FREE.  My favorite word, especially when combined with “shipping.”

All you have to do is–you guessed it–go to the Knitcircus site and preview the magazine.  Read the articles because they are good.  Check out the ads because they make this magazine possible and they will lead you to great yarn.  Salivate over the patterns (Linger a bit over my sock pattern; I need the karma.)  Then leave me a comment about the magazine.

You can tell me what you like about it or what you would like to see in it or what you want to knit. You might want to tell me which of the lovely reviewed yarns you covet.  The words silk and cashmere pop up a bunch.  I like the Classic Elite wool with the nettles.  I caressed it last week at their shop, but opted for Chesapeake, the cotton/merino one.

Anyway, I’ll leave this open for 7 days from today.  Then I’ll visit the random number generator.  How many will I give away?  Enough that you have a very good chance—-

More later–

Leading a Knitalong

How is leading a knitalong different from teaching a class.  It’s more fun for me!  I get to just knit for long periods.  I answer questions, I clarify the instructions, I will help with the blocking—if any of us ever finish, and I enjoy the people.  And they pay me a bit for doing this.  Life don’t get no better.  Don’t tell anyone; I don’t want to share this gig.

We meet about every 10 days or so.  At the shop.  Bringing dinner or drinks if we wish.

We like to share how far along we are—or explain why we just haven’t had time to complete that much.

Actually these pics are of our meeting several weeks ago, but it doesn’t matter.  We are all wallowing in a sea of garter stitch that we know will be worth it once we have this gorgeous Zephyr creation designed by Jane Sowerby.  We have Natalie’s shawl to inspire us.  (can’t find pic)

We seem to have different attitudes about the process.  Some are happy . . .and are pleasantly progressing with the purple.

Others are pensive . . .or intent and determined.One has lost her mind.

It’s all good.  We are planning to add a few sessions in order to avoid the shame of no one finishing.  Only one of use has passed the halfway mark of part 1 (and there are 3 parts) and begun the decreasing.  Shamefully, it isn’t the instructor.

Must go knit burgundy Zephyr.

More later–

Back from Boston

First, the non-knitting stuff.   Went to Boston to visit Kate, dear friend who has undertaken the adventure of creating a new, exciting life which involved moving to Boston.  After four days there, who wouldn’t.  This is an amazing place and I’m in love.  I may even watch the Red Sox–while knitting them, of course.

First was the Duck tour.  That’s the boat/car above.  You can read all about the WWII vehicles they use and where they go here. The tour is great fun because you ride a car into the water, but more so because your conducktor is insane—but very knowledgeable.  Our Conducktor was Hardly Davidson and we could have asked for no one better.

He knew the city, the history, and how to entertain.  If you go to Boston, if you even live in Boston, you must take this tour.

The other tour that is required is the Samuel Adams Brewery Tour.  It isn’t a long tour, but is entertaining and smart.  Most of your time is spent in the tasting room which is why you went in the first place, and they give you plenty to taste.  All you have to do is cheer on cue.  Hop on the T and head south.  When we got off the T and looked a bit confused, two different people asked, “Looking for Sam’s?”  They know their tourists.

That ended the first day and we went back to Kate’s very charming apartment perched upon a really steep hill and spent the evening with wine and beer and heirloom tomatoes and other good stuff that Steve fixed.  Joy.

Day 2–the Classic Elite Mill Store, Vicky, Jack, Ann, artists, and a meatball sub.

In Lowell, MA, about 20 miles from Kate’s apartment is the Hub Mill Store which is attached to the Classic Elite Warehouse, etc., and a huge artist’s complex similar, but larger, to the McCall Center in Charlotte.

You know you are there when you park in front of this.  Wire and yarn, both good things.

We went in and I could barely breathe.  The store is a yarn store and carries yarn not made by Classic Elite.

Kate bought Claudia Handpaints Silk and Artyarns stuff with little sequins.

I bought mostly cotton blends that I haven’t seen before and immediately started swatching.

Best of all–this is where Classic Elite sells their overruns and discontinued yarns at a discount.

Vicki, a local school teacher who works here the odd Saturday, was so patient and kind to us.  She just laughed as we worked our way through the stock over and over.

When it came time to pay, I was nervous.

She let me sign my receipt while she covered the amount.

We had planned to go to the National Quilt Museum and the home of the artist James Whistler, but stayed on at Western Avenue Studios to meet various artists and do a bit more shopping in the Gallery.  Western Avenue Studios is really a large former textile mill which houses over 200 artists.  They receive studio space at a nominal fee as well as a community of creativity and a place to sell their work.

The sponsors of this space also have a tremendous public outreach.  Check out their site.

I bought a great photo from Jack Holmes to give to Steve.  It is being shipped.  Jack was there and I got to spend time talking to him about his work.  He travels everywhere to take pictures and then returns to his homebase in Andover and Lowell to tweak his work.  Site with gallery. Look for El Claustro in Grenada in the Landscapes gallery.

Ann Lee took us to her Fabric art studio and let us play and ask questions.  Kate bought a marvelous jacket from her which is truly an art garment.  Ann shares a studio with friends and they call the place Friends Fabric Art.  I also subscribed to her blog which has many more pictures of her work.

If you mention Lowell to folks around Boston, you will get a sad look.  It is considered a working class town gone downhill.  That’s why we were so shocked to find this huge artist community and a bustling downtown with lots of restaurants and nice people.  Just one warning–parallel parking is required in downtown Lowell.  And you may have to drive many blocks from your restaurant in order to find several empty spaces in a row to park your rental car.  So embarassing.

I’ll show you my yarn purchases later–

Knitcircus Special Gifts Issue

The folks at Knitcircus will publish their gift issue Wednesday, 9/15/2010.  You don’t want to miss it.  This will be there:

I designed these for worsted weight yarn.  They knit up fast and will be great as house socks or boot socks or just socks for that pair of shoes that is a bit too big.

The editor of Knitcircus is experimenting with this issue as to pattern purchases.  In this issue you have the choice of buying  just one or two patterns or the whole collection.  Patterns are only $3.50 for one download at this time.  Most will go up in price as soon as the winter issue goes live, so get them now.

Oh, heck, just get a subscription.  It’s easier.

FOs-Homespun Hat

Just to catch up.  I finished the Handspun Hat.  I like it with the Icord bind off.  It lets the botton flare just a bit which I think better suits my round face.Here are some detailed pics and a link to the free pattern.

Icord Bind off

The inside view of 2X2 rib

A bit of Quilted Lattice St

I think I’ll wear it like this:

One side up

and the other side down.

The pattern recipe is located here; send me a picture.  Oh, if you knit it or any other hat on magic loop, you can just shove all the stitches onto the cable and try it on at any time.  That is how I decide when to stop increasing.

More later –

Walker Treasury Swatches

Mock Cable Rib–A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, p.42.

Pink yarn is Plymouth Galway, worsted 100% wool.  Used a size US 3 needle (3.25 mm) and obtained a washed, unstretched gauge of  28 sts and  32 rows per 4 inches/10 cm.

This pattern has only one fiddly row in four and is faster than an actual cable rib, yet captures a similar look.

The back side of the Mock Cable Ribbing is a 2×3 rib with a backslash in the purl section which I quite like.  I think this would look good on one of those cropped sweaters with the ribbing around the waist.

Lace Rib–A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, p.48.

The yarn is Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller, Bamboo Ewe, 55% viscose from bamboo and 45% wool.  This is a worsted weight yarn and I used a size US3/3.25mm needle.  The washed, unstretched gauge obtained is  25 sts and 30 rows per 4 inches/10 cm.

This is still a very loose rib.  I would recommend it as a stitch pattern for the body of a garment, not the edges.  It would also make a nice reversible scarf.

The back of the Lace Rib is also very attractive and has a severe vertical effect.  I think it too would make a good garment body pattern.

Knotted Rib–A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, p.48.

Pink yarn is Plymouth Galway, worsted 100% wool.  Used a size US 3 needle (3.25 mm) and obtained a washed, unstretched gauge of 35 sts and 32 rows per 4 inches/10 cm.

Fabric is dense and stable.  The pattern is as easy as a plain 2 x 2 rib.

The back of the Knotted Rib stitch pattern looks much like a normal 2×2 rib, except the area between the knit sts is narrower and firmer.  This would be great on a kid’s sweater.  It won’t wear out.

I learn so much doing these swatches for The Walker Treasury Project.  I encourage you to join us.  Details available by clicking the button on the right side of this blog.

More later–

Buy this book!

I knew that I didn’t know it all about socks.  These girls do.

I’ve followed Stephanie for years as a member of  her sock knitalong group.  Her work is beautiful and modern and new, within traditional sock knitting.  She doesn’t do fancy architecture, but every pattern just seems new.

That isn’t why you need this book.  Yes, it has some patterns, but they are really only there because some publisher thought they needed to be or in case a newbie sock person bought the book.  This book is for those of us who have knit many socks.  It researches socks from all over the world and shares the techniques.  We get the Chinese Restaurant Menu of sock techniques.  Great heels and toes to use when you wish.  Three ways to do a tubular cast on!

This is my first sample sock using some of the techniques here. 

I tried the crochet tubular cast on and liked it very much.  Much easier for me than the revolving wrist provisional method.

I also did the beaded heel flap–no slipping the first sts and I got the best heel flap ever.

This round toe looks perfect for my wide feel.  I will try it in my next regular sized sock. 

The square heel is identified by these German girls as the standard heel.  My friend Pat Moore has always used it, but I don’t think I’ve really seen it used much in my circles.  I like it and will teach it.  The book has a great chart to help with the number of sts on each needle.

I’ll be swatching these techniques for the next year.  What fun.

More later–

Caress–free scarf pattern

Vicki with Caress

Caress for Vicki

1 skein Crystal Palace Kid Mohair, 25 g., 240 yds lace weight or another Fingering, Fine, Sock yarn

Needles in sizes 8 and 6 Gauge: not critical

Shaping for this scarf is achieved by switching needle sizes as well as increasing and decreasing the number of stitches in the row. The decrease used in this pattern is a k2tog. The increase is the simple K f&b. (K into the front of the st and then again into the back of the same st.)

Instructions are provided for a chain edge selvedge which is highly recommended; see bottom of page.

Part One: Bottom Edge :

Using a size 8 needle, cast on 45 sts.

Knit 11 rows of garter st. (knit every row).

Part Two: Pinched area :

Change to the size 6 needle. (Just start knitting with the new needle.) K1, K2tog across the row 22 times. You have 23 sts.

Knit 7 rows of garter stitch.

Part Three: Expanded area:

Change to the size 8 needle.

K1, Kf&B in each of the remaining 22 sts. You now have 45 sts.

Next, a wrong side row: (k1, P1) 4 times, P29, (P1, K1) 4 times.

Next, a right side row: (K1, P1) 4 times, K29, (P1, K1) 4 times.

Repeat the last two rows 13 more times.(Total of 28 rows)

Repeat the right side row one more time.

Repeat Parts two and three until the scarf is your desired length.

End after a part two section.

End of scarf: K1, Kf&B in each of the remaining 22 sts. You now have 45 sts.

Work 6 rows of garter st and then bind off.

Option: Chain Edge for the selvedge:

The edge looks much better if stitches are slipped every other row. This keeps the scarf shaping stabilized as well. To work the Chain Edge, Cast on 47 sts; 45 for the scarf body and 2 for the selvedges. The instructions for the scarf are above. The instructions for the two selvedge sts are: On each row, the first selvedge st is slipped pwise with the working yarn in the front. Then take the working yarn between the needle points to the back to prepare to knit. On each row, the last selvedge st is always a knit st.

The scarf Vicki is wearing is made from one ball of Crystal Palace Kid Mohair because that is what I had.  It would be incredible in Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze.

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