Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I had the double bad luck of having a very thrifty mother plus two older siblings. This means that I have been forced to wear hand-me-downs my entire life. I didn't care much as a kid, but it really rubbed when I became a fashion conscious teenager (who went to a fashion conscious high school). Learning to knit and sew became my personal answer to obtaining fashionable clothing, my ticket to freedom from the hand-me-downs!

The "long, lean, Aran pullover" at upper left made me swoon with desire (am I showing my age?). I saved up my allowance and bought some real (cheap scratchy) cream colored wool. I cast on the requisite number of stitches for the ribbing on yellow-green metallic straight Susan Boyle needles. (Of course I didn't know the first thing about gauge, but I lucked out on this one). When I got to the patterned stitches I needed markers, so I improvised some out of fine wire twisted into a loop. How those stitch markers tortured my hands with their sharp ends! But still I plugged on in the name of fashion! The sweater took me several months to complete, but I was so delighted when it was finished. When I proudly wore it to school, it was insufferably hot and scratchy- but wear it I did!

Here are two of my other attempts at cabled sweaters. At left is the Reynold's sheet pattern photo for the 500-pound cotton Aran referred to in the previous post. (I guess it didn't help that I made it extra long and attached a big collar). At right is Jo Sharp's "Millbrook", from Knitting Bohemia. I scaled this down and knit it in VERY SOFT wool for my daughter when she was about six. I loved knitting it! Unfortunately dear daughter had the audacity to outgrow it while it was still on the needles! When it was finally finished and I stuffed her into it, she didn't like it at all because the cables were "lumpy". Kids!!!!

Not all of my cable sweaters have been disasters. There were several others that worked out fine. But I can't help muse about past failures while I am working on two Aran sweaters, the Manly College Sweater, and the Byzantine Millbrook, my name for the blend of patterns that I am working up with the Galway yarn (previous post).


Thursday, August 25, 2011


(WHAT???!!! I must be crazy!!! Why am I telling you this-- I SELL yarn on the internet!!)

I am having so much fun knitting the Manly College Sweater (previous post) that I decided it was high time I knit myself a cabled sweater. I love knitting cables! I haven't made a cabled sweater for quite a few years. The last one I made was a large aran cardigan made from Reynolds Saucy cotton. It turned out beautifully. It also weighed about five hundred pounds. The yarn has not stood up to time or washing well. I want another one, this time made of nice soft warm lightweight wool.

So I went on an internet hunt for worsted weight wool. I really like working with heather colors (yarn made from fibers of several colors), so I went straight to Harrisville Designs. Their heathers are absolutely stunning, but the wool is kind of scratchy. Also very expensive. No good. Next I looked carefully at Plymouth Galway and Cascade 220, both of which are soft four-plies, and come in some lovely heathery hues. I picked out several that I liked, but finally decided on Galway #745, "dusk heather".

Now I know better than anybody that computer monitors are quite different in the way they show colors, so I was careful to look at as many pictures of Galway #745 as I could find on the web. Six results are shown at the top of this post.

Isn't it amazing? Can this possibly be the same color??? I actually emailed the ebay seller of this color and asked her to describe the color in words. She said "Pale lilac with undertones of blue".

Now that the yarn is in my hands, I placed it on the scanner and got the color as close to real life as I could on my monitor. The results are above. I would describe the color as a blend of blue and red fibers, with the overall effect as lavender. The website that came the closest to the true color is *DING DING* THIS one. I am quite pleased with it, and looking forward to making THIS sweater.


Thursday, August 18, 2011


When College Boy was just a lttle tyke of about ten or eleven, I designed and made him a patriotic sweater on the knitting machine. Actually just the boring solid colors were machine knit, the stars themselves were made with the two-handed fair isle technique shown HERE. He was a great sport about wearing it, and it fit him perfectly for about a month until he outgrew it. Unfortunately a few years later, when Little Brother (shown at left) grew into it, he disparaged the sweater as too cheesy, and refused to wear it. So that was that, until now.

The little tyke has grown into a manly eighteen-year-old, and moved to Texas for college. He is shown graduating from high school in a previous post HERE. He hardly owns any winter clothes, and hasn't worn a sweater in years. Dallas gets cold in the winter (or so I hear, because it's 107 degrees in the shade there right now). Time for a new sweater!

Having learned my lesson about not offending the Fashion Police, I consulted with College Boy before he left about the preferred style, and he chose the one below at left (click to enlarge). This is "Wondrous Woven Cables" from The Best of Knitter's Arans and Celtics (available HERE). I am using Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in the color oatmeal. It's not difficult to knit at all, even though it looks complicated. I just hope he doesn't think the pink knitting needles are unmanly.


Thursday, August 11, 2011


The current old dog is in poor health, and I know the end is coming. Time to start over. This is our new baby. We picked her up from the dog pound yesterday. She is a lab mix, and about four months old. Small for a lab too, only 20 pounds. She will probably mature at less than 40.

Following the family tradition of having geologic names for dogs, we named her "Onyx". Previous dogs have been named Sinter, Trona, and Tufa. I like short names for dogs, and can't imagine calling out for "Obsidian" or "Peridotite".

It really is kind of like having a newborn in the house. She chews on everything, yarn included, and is not housebroken. Extra vigilance is called for. But it's such a heartwarming thing to have a playful dog again- in true retriever form, chasing balls or carrying chew toys (or yarn balls) around is just about her favorite activity, next to eating. I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to throw balls for a dog!

The old dog seems to be taking it mostly in stride, as long as she can sleep undisturbed. She does get a bit grumpy about the youngster's attempts to play. It was only thirteen years ago that the situation was reversed, and the old dog was the rambunctious youngster. The cycle goes on.