Monday, July 31, 2006

The Japanese Sweater as a metaphor

So it's a pretentious post title. As you can see, I've finally started Am Kamin! And this weekend, I found myself several times telling friends about how life, or some part of it, is like knitting this Japanese sweater.

I'm trying to do my homework at the Crossed in Translation web site. I've learned quite a bit about understanding the graphs for this pattern.

One of the neatest things about these Japanese patterns is that the diagram shows how many centimeters wide EACH pattern in the sweater should be. So, I knit a swatch of the center pattern on size 6 needles. It was less than a half a centimeter too wide. Since I liked the look of it, and since I needed to make the sweater a bit bigger anyway, I decided it would be OK like this. I also knit a seed stitch swatch, because I think I'll need add some extra stitches as well, and the seed stitch panels would be the easiest place to do this. I still have to figure out what effect this might have on my raglan shaping, since I'm not changing the sleeves at all.

I've made copies of the stitch pattern graphs, and then added to it, both by adding copies of more pattern repeats (since the various patterns have different numbers of rows, this should help me keep track of where I am), AND also by making a mirror image of the graphs so my sweater will be symmetrical.

I think I understand what I need to know to make this sweater. And it's not brain surgery (or heart surgery, for that matter), so if I'm wrong, I've only wasted some time and some yarn. Nobody will die. But this is how this sweater is like life. There's information on this page, and in this book that I don't understand. And not only do I not understand it, I don't actually know what information I'm missing. It could be the secret of life, or of making this sweater perfectly, or it could be some artistic or commercial fluff about the yarn or the pattern. I can't tell. Life's like that sometimes. It would be nice to have all the answers, or even just to know where one is ignorant or wrong. But I'm not God, and I'm not a Japanese knitting designer. I'm just a humble knitter trying to follow along, and make something nice if I can.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Finalist!

I can't believe it! I came home from a weekend family reunion to find my entry in challenge # 4 of "The Amazing Lace" is a finalist!

The challenge was Challenge #4: The Early Bind-Off

If you bound off your lace RIGHT NOW - what could it be used for? Your challenge: One photo of your lace in a reasonable approximation of its potential use at this very moment.

Check it out (and vote if you'd like) here.

I'm sorta thinking I don't have much of a chance against the guy in the green bikini, but who knows?

Thursday, July 20, 2006


This is the first time I've ever finished a project while the magazine it was from was still the "current issue". I'm truly a slow knitter, which is a handicap for a blogger. Any other slowpoke bloggers out there? How do you handle it?


I finished it!

Lotus Blossom Tank by Sharon Shoji, from Interweave Knits, Summer 2006 (see link in sidebar).
Butterfly Super 10 Mercerized Cotton yarn, color #3818 (poweder blue) from Sheep's Clothing in Kennewick.
I used size 4 needles to get gauge. I began with size 7 needles to give ease at the hips. I knit the second size as written, except for the following:

- I added an extra repeat of the lace pattern because I wanted my top to be longer than the picture in the magazine.
- I added an extra set of decreases on the bodice front, in an attempt to raise the neckline a tad. I was hoping to cover the scar on my chest, which if you'll look closely, you'll see didn't work.
- I added one more row of garter stitch on the armholes and neckline (trying to close the neck a bit, again).
- The pattern has you knit on the back and sides of the neckline but not across the front -- I knit in a full circle, decreasing each round at the "corners."
- I used a size 3 needle for the armhole & neckline garter stitch

Here's a detail of the lace. I think it turned out very nice -- amazing how just washing and laying flat does such terrific things to lace. This isn't severely blocked, the way a lace shawl would be.

Overall, I'm happy with how this top turned out. I wish it was a tad smaller - It relaxed a bit when I washed it, and I liked the fit better before. I may try washing it and machine drying it to get a little shrinkage. Other than wishing it was a bit smaller, I like the fit a lot -- This is a summery top, but it's not too bare. It's feminine but I can still wear a bra. Even though it shows my scar, I think the neckline is pretty.

If I made it again, I wouldn't do the last garter stitch bit on the front before I cast off. Instead I'd leave the stitches live and do the garter stitch bit in a circle as I did this time. I'd also plan the decreases in that circle a little more carefully. And I'd make it smaller - though not 6" smaller, which is the next smaller size.

Ta da!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Amazing Lace Challenge #4

If I cast off the Lotus Blossom Tank right now, what could I do with it?

It would make a lovely cozy for the slow-cooker. As you can see, the color coordinates with my kitchen (what wouldn't?) and with the slow cooker.

In addition, the beginning of the arm-holes make it versatile -- One can access the lid without removing the cozy. In addition, the lovely blue cotton is breathable and washable.

Soon every well appointed kitchen will have a lace slow-cooker cozy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Knitting on the road

Most of my vacation knitting happened like this - on the road. We had hours and hours on the road on this trip, and except for a brief stint driving, and on the twisty-est of the roads, I spent them like this.

At Arches , I actually took my knitting out to see the sights. I only include this unflattering picture of myself to show you the amazing view I had. I could have sat there, just knitting & looking, but instead packed up the knitting and followed my family to scramble up under the arch you can see in the distance. Wearing a hydration/daypack everywhere adds to the challenges of getting a becoming picture.

In closing, a little fun -

'What will your obituary say?' at

Monday, July 10, 2006

Not the Dude-liest of Dudes

We've been off on vacation in the southwest. It was WONDERFUL. This photo was taken at Bryce Canyon. That was where I learned that though I'm riding horseback (actually donkey-back) in a pink baseball cap and sneakers, I'm not the dude-liest of the dudes.

It is more dude-ly to wear golf shoes -- I'm sure these were the only closed-toe shoe this woman had, but in any case, they are definately dude-ly.
Even if you wear fancy red cowboy boots, if you are a pain in the neck to the wrangler, you are a dude.

Yes, I know -- I'm engaging in that old past-time of Junior High -- finding people weirder than one's self to look down on. But I'll admit that part of the fun of this trip was realizing I'm stronger than I thought I was -- and not quite so much of a dude.

Knitting content tomorrow.