Sunday, February 25, 2007

An the Oscar goes to...

Ewe-nice for best dressed wooly sheep in a shawl! Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, after much knitting, muttering, a few vacations, and just a little tinking (wink, wink) the Hidcote Garden Shawl has danced its way off the needles.

Time of delivery: Sunday afternoon, 2:00PM EST, 25 Feb 2007.
Vital statistics: Weight 125g, Length ~1920 yds of 2/28 laceweight 100% cashmere from ColourMart,
Unblocked dimensions 45" x 98"

After posting about my frustrations with the cast-off last night, I somehow felt better so I picked up my 3.75mm crochet hook and paying carefully attention to maintaining an accurate, even tension, I did a standard knitwise single crochet cast-off. I started last night, but once I was satisfied that I *could* get it right I stopped and waited until today to finish casting-off those 500+ sts. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment having completed this large shawl, certainly a task worthy of an Academy Award I think :-) I know Ewe-nice agrees with me!

PS. I know the pictures aren't the best, but it's the best I can do with a crummy camera. I'll post better ones once the wires arrive and I can properly block the thing. That should be quite and event as the shawl is quite enormous :-)

PPS. Once again I remind everyone that I chose to use 3.5mm needles instead of the 3.25mm recommended in the pattern. The size of my yarn was about the same. The end result was that I used 600+ more yards than the pattern calls for and my shawl unblocked already exceeds the final dimensions of the blocked shawl that Miriam knit. I had 2300 yds to work with, so I had the freedom to choose the needle size that yielded a lace fabric that was pleasing to my eye. If you have plenty of yarn and desire a really large shawl, you are welcome to follow my choice. If not, please use the smaller needle. Either way, be prepared for the possibility that you may need more than 1300 yds of laceweight yarn to finish the shawl as written. I can't imaging anything worse than spending this many hours knitting a masterpiece only to run short of yarn on Chart 10. True, some designs can be easily adapted to shorten the length, but I don't see this as one of them. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Good luck!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Done, Sort of...Grrrrr

I'm done knitting the Hidcote Garden Shawl! Well, sort of done. If completing knitting row 21 of chart 10, which is the last row of the shawl, means done then I'm done. But not really. You see I started to cast-off as the pattern directed, after row 21. But, only for a couple of inches--just long enough to see that I was not happy with the finished look. You see the tips of the points are never really closed together if you follow the pattern. They end with adjacent ssk and k2tog stitches, which is not *really* closed and casting-off doesn't bring adequate closure IMHO. So I tinked back, carefully undoing all those cast-off stitches (a huge PITA) and purled one more row making a few tweaks to close the tips and still keep the stitch count pretty much the same.

In a nutshell what I did was p2 tog at every ssk/k2tog located between double YOs, thus closing the tips of the points. I did the usual k1, p1 in the double YOs. I purled across the large stockinette section , inserting a single yo in between the ssk and the k2tog of that area. Or if you were counting it would be : ...(k1, p1) in yo, p7, yo, p7, (k1, p1) in yo, p2tog; repeat. I did not insert a yo where there was a single decrease near the center and the edges. Adding the yo's where I did allowed for ample stretch at the location in the shawl where blocking will place the most tension. This location also maintained balance without detracting from the original design.

So with nice closed points I was really to cast-off for sure right? Not! You see, now I'm on teh right side of the shawl so I need to do things a little differently. I've made 4 attempts thus far and have hated all of them (too loose, too tight, rolls too much to the right side, and just looks funky in a not good way). I've crocheted off purlwise (loose and rolls). I've done a suspended cast-off purlwise with a crochet hook(too loose and funky). I've done a knitting needle knitted cast-off (too tight). And now I'm going to put about 40 sts back otn (I really thought this last one would be it---wrong) and try again. But not until tomorrow. Maybe I'll have better luck next time. Oh, and I didn't even tell you about auditioning beads and crystals for possible inclusion in the aforementioned cast-off fiasco. They were cause for a little more tinking. If I decide I want beads, I'll sew them on later. Grrrrrr

Friday, February 23, 2007

T Minus 3 and Counting down!

That's right, only 3 rows left on Hidcote. Well, technically it's only 2 rows and then cast-off but I figure the cast-off row is nothing more than an extra long, complicated row that still has to be knit. Either way, I'm almost there. I figured I had finished knitting all the difficult stuff and then last night I got to row 11 and a nasty little 4 in a box. What the ****! Knitting 3 sts together is tricky enough, there' no way I was going to succeed knitting 4 together all in one maneuver--esp. at the beginning of a row when all the sts want to go flying off the tip of the Turbos anyway. So I just k3tog and then passed the 4th st over the top afterward and it works just great. Now if only there was a magic pill for dealing with all those double YOs . I am so sick of them! I should be finished casting off tomorrow I think. Then I'll just have to wait until the blocking wires I ordered arrive before I can do the "magic" thing (I think blocking lace is magic).

Once Hidcote is finished, then it's time to move to new and different projects. I still have 2 shawls that need edgings finished. I don't have much left on the Fir Cone Shawl so I think I'll push through and finish it. On the other hand, the Shetland Tea Shawl needs almost all of it's edging--a big job which I will probably procrastinate for awhile longer. I need to finish daddy's socks--a pretty high priority thing but last night I suddenly realized I needed to focus on making a thank you gift for Dr. Thomas. I want to make something personal that will be meaningful for this amazing woman who has been my greatest mentor ever. I can't even begin to list all the things this amazing woman has done to bless my life. I have never experienced such unfailing support from anyone (my parents excluded) in my life. So many others I've encountered in my professional experience have had a flip side that was less than wonderful. At the very least they didn't have my best interests at heart, but Sandra has been nothing but encouraging and positive even when I was extremely ill and at my very lowest point. So I'm exploring my options as I don't have a great deal of time to knit something, but I want to be special. Right now I'm thinking about a little shoulder shawl, possibly Swallowtail, out of either silk or cashmere. Or I have a nice selection of laceweight kid mohair/silk yarns in the stash so I may opt for one of them If I choose a different pattern. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Weary Brain

So what do you do when you've been very good and worked hard all day on *the dissertation* and your brain is weary? The answer is stupid things like surfing your friend's blogs and finding new quizzes to take that are frighteningly spot on about who you are. Like this one for example:

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

How did they know that I would adore visiting Paris? Ah, the food, the fashion, the architecture, the art! I could stay in Paris for weeks and just soak it all in. Of course I would need a rich Sugar Daddy to foot the bill and someone knowledgeable and influential to show me the town, but hey, I can always dream can't I?

I'm still knitting away on the Hidcote Garden Shawl.The countdown now stands at 10 rows left to knit. I knit the longest row last night, coming in at a whopping 531 sts, and am now easing my way to the points. The end *is* in sight and the worst of the patterned knitting is over and done with. Only a few more rows of those blasted double YOs, which I don't like knitting becasue you can't just whiz through a row of plain purling after them. No, you have to count and anticipate the big holes so you remember to knit the 1st loop and then go back to purling. Ah the sacrifices one has to make for the love of lace knitting!

I finally broke down last night and ordered a set of blocking wires from KnitPicks so I am prepared for the dastardly deed once Hidcote comes off the needles. The wires I bought at the hardware store locally last Christmas were only 18" long which is way too short for blocking big shawls and I hated working with them as they wree also a big thick and clunky. While KnitPicks didn't offer the best price for a set of blocking wires, I knew I would get free shipping since I was ordering needles too so it proved to be the best option overall. I also bought several sets of circulars and dpns, all in small sizes, after having such a positive experience with my first pair of Options dpns. My budget isn't up to buying the Options set yet, but I mostly needed size 3.0mm and 3.25mm circulars anyway. I just have to pace this stuff, getting more tools every few months as the budget allows, but there was no way I was going to face blocking the big honking Hidcote without proper wires. Nope, not gonna do it any other way.

PS. Here's another one of those quizzes. This one is almost eerie, but then I guess I'm in pretty fine company. Besides, I'm a big fan of Martha Stewart :-)
Your Aura is Green

You're very driven, competitive, and even a bit jealous.
However, you seek out balance in your life - and you usually achieve it!

The purpose of your life: inspiring others to be better

Famous greens include: Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart

Careers for you to try: Guru, CEO, Talk Show Host

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Making progress

My woolly friend Ewe-nice graciously agreed to pose for the camera to show off what's been happening on the knitting front lately. After taking yet another sanity break from the Hidcote garden shawl I am at it once again, this time knitting furiously on to the finish line! Since this is the one year anniversary of the Knitting Olympics and the completion of my first lace shawl, a red Kiri, I decided to go for the gold once more and see if I can finish Hidcote before the end of the month. As of this minute I have 15 rows left, very long rows, like more than 500 sts long rows! While I love this shawl and look forward to wearing it proudly, I am sick to death of knitting it! Whew! Confession is good for the soul, isn't it?

OK, so I'm making fine progress on the Hidcote shawl. I'm also making fine progress on my dissertation and graduation plans for May. I presented another one of my interviews in the phenomenology research group at the college yesterday and had a really insightful experience. It really does amaze me how the use of the interpretive group brings out nuances in the text that I didn't notice, even after spending hours reading and transcribing the dialogue myself. Then to top it all off, my major professor, the wonderful Sandra Thomas, handed me a copy of the letter she wrote to the dean of the Graduate School requesting the waivers and extensions I needed to be permitted to graduate without further adieu even though it's taken me many years longer than the rules allow and there were many semesters where the rules dictated I register and pay big bucks but I didn't 'cuz I was too darn sick to do school stuff and too poor to keep paying tuition when I wasn't working on the degree. Yes, it's a miracle I don't have to come up with a several thousand more dollars, just a relatively meager graduation fee. Hallelujah!!! Amen :-)

In light of all the anxieties produced by the aforementioned University stuff, and the fact that it has been blessed cold here the last couple of weeks, I continued to work on refining my fingerless mitts design. They now have a name---Miss Melly---and a story to go with it (it's still a secret but think "Gone With the Wind"), but the pattern is still under written construction. Since I already made the faux pas of publishing a picture of the design online I can't submit the manuscript for consideration to be published (but at least I know the rules now), so I've decided to offer it as a freebie here on the blog when I get it finished. I figure the feedback will also be instructive and a good experience for a budding knitware designer. In the meantime Ewe-nice, whose paws are too small to wear the mitts, decided to humor me by wearing my latest Miss Mellys on her ears. Well ears get cold too you know? The yarn is Plymouth's Baby Alpaca DK, which is wonderfully soft, comes in delightful colors, and is a joy to knit with. Or, and the wearing ain't bad either--esp. when it's late at night and I'm rewriting that dissertation chapter one more time >:^{

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What do you do when...'s a cloudy, dreary, and yes, even snowy Saturday afternoon in February (well snow flurries and a transient dusting of the white stuff, but no real accumulation--but here in TN they call that "snow"), and my beloved UT Vols men's basketball played a pathetic game losing to So. Carolina (is this the same team that just beat Kentucky a few short days ago?), and the "grandkids" and their parents have invaded our peaceful little abode once again, and my fibrowacked body hurts so bad I don't know whether I should scream or cry. What do you do??????

Well, the first thing I did was sleep in as late as possible--hiding under the covers is a good thing. Next it was time to smell the roses--see picture in the previous post--followed quickly by the downing of a few pills with an icy cold Diet Coke. Ah caffeine--it's a very good thing. Next, tell beloved niece that you have a headache and convince her to play games on the computer quietly while the Aunt tries to wake up--God Bless NickJr! Next, sit in recliner already outfitted with pre-warmed heating pad and pick up knitting. Ah knitting to the rescue!

I started working on Daddy's socks, you know, the ones I haven't finished yet even though they were supposed to be his Christmas present. Those socks! The pattern is simple, just a nice broken rib stitch with a row of plain knitting in between a row of ribbing so I don't go crazy knitting what seems like miles and miles of ribbing, which I hate to knit. Crazy is having to tink back half of what I did because I forgot that half the rows are just plain, simple knitting--NOT ribbing. Knitting while half asleep, and whatever part of me was awake was in serious pain, is not a very smart thing to do. Tink, tink, tink.

The pills start to work and I start to wake up. That's when I remember that I ran out of yarn on my fingerless mitts I'm designing with just a few rows of ribbing left to knit on the second glove. Grrrrr. I can choose to frog back and skip a few lace pattern rows, thus finishing the gloves in one ball, but with one glove shorter than the other OR I can dash out to the new LYS a grab another ball quickly before the store closes at 2PM. I throw on some jeans and a very baggy UT sweatshirt and dash across the street, returning 15 minutes later with 2 balls of the very nice yarn in hand. Why 2 balls? Because the thought of matching socks seems quite appealing. After all, a girl can never have too many knitting projects OTN at one time or too much yarn in the stash can she? Of course not! Besides, last I checked it's still cheaper than therapy. I wonder if yarn therapy could help the basketball team?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Roses are Pink

Well, at least my Valentine's Day roses are pink -- which is perfectly wonderful since pink roses and pink flowers are absolutely my favorite. Just the fact that I was gifted flowers at all is absolutely amazing. Why you ask, because I can't remember *ever* receiving flowers on Valentine's Day in my whole life. It's one of those facts of life when you are an Old Maid and never did seem to enamour very many males in my younger years, let alone around *the* holiday of love. I don't think I even bothered to buy my own Valentine's flowers, maybe I did once or twice but I usually just stuck to chocolate and festive decor for my apartment. It worked at the time. But this year was different! Yes the flowers came from my mother who was acting in behalf of my dog Miss Emme who contributed her part with a big sloppy kiss (the dog that is, not Mom), but that doesn't matter.

Having a huge bouquet of happiness perched on the corner of my desk has done wonders for the "February Funk" I've been feeling. The winter icky blues just get to me and by this time I'm just dying for it to be spring. If you look down tot eh left of the flowers you'll see the little Valentine I bought myself at Loopville the other day. It was totally an impulse purchase and a bit pricey for me, but the colors in this lace yarn were calling my name. The yarns were a boxed gift set from Kaalund Yarns in Australia, an artisan yarn company that specializes in hand dyed fibers in amazing colorways. The yarn is a super fine 2ply lace weight merino, one ball is an ombre of violet hues called Magnolia and the other a diverse mix of the violets with spring greens and a hint of deep blue purple called Waterlily. The yarns came with a pattern for a "soft wool scarf" but the design was pretty pathetic. I'll do my own thing with this treasure. As a coincidence the Kaalund Waterlily yarn is an exact match to the hand dyed sock yarn from Farmhouse Yarns that I purchased at Yarn Haven last week. I guess I just like what I like and I like the color of thses yarns.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Comparing Laceweight Mohair Yarns

I responded to a query on the KnitList about laceweight mohair yarns yesterday. Specifically, the knitter wanted input about Super Kydd, a new yarn from While I haven't used this yarn yet, I have used many of the others so I emailed the lady with my input. I received a lovely reply with an addtional question about softness with nylon vs. silk as the secondary component in the yarn. After composing a detailed response I thought gee, I should post this on my blog for future reference. So here it is:

Hi L---,

I've been thinking about your last email and the question of softness with silk vs. nylon in laceweight mohair yarns. Let's see, this is what have I used:

Rowan Kid Silk Haze - 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk ($14, 25g/229 yds)
Madil Kid Seta - 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk ($12, 25g/230 yds)
Colinette Parisienne - 70% kid mohair, 30% polyamide ($13.75, 25g/221m)
Habu Textiles 1/12 silk mohair kusa - 60% mohair, 40% silk ($8.69, 14g/186 yds)
Doceur et Soie - 70% baby mohair, 30% silk ($11.55, 25g/225 yds)

So let's compare. The KSH and De S are extremely soft and luscious and get my top rating for all around yummyness. KSH has exceptional vivid colors while DetS has a wide range of pastels that I so love. The Kid Seta is also very soft and has the bonus of variegated colorways. What makes all of these brands distinct is the fact that they use the finest baby mohair which is where the softness really comes in IMHO.

The Parisienne uses only kid mohair, not super kid, so it isn't going to be as soft. I suspect that's why Colinette, a company known for their high-end luxury fibers, opted to use poyester as the stabilizing fiber rather than silk. The silk is used for strength in all these yarns, the softness and luster are just a bonus really.Nevertheless, Parisienne is still soft and very nice to the touch and it has superior ombre colorways that make it stand out from the rest of the fine mohair yarns. I would see this yarn as comparable in texture and softness to the Super Kydd

The Habu textiles yarn has the most silk, but it isn't nearly as soft as the others. Once again, I think this has to do with the quality of the mohair. This yarn is much finer and less halo than the other yarns and I found it required a smaller needle size to get a lace that was pleasing to my eye. Once again though, this yarn would still be considered a soft yarn and nice against the skin.

So to answer your question yes, silk would add to the softness but the nylon should still be adequately soft because the key fiber is kid mohair. When you factor that in with the fact that the Elann Super Kydd is less than half the price of the KSH, etc. I would absolutely go for it. The only reason I haven't purchased any myself is that I have more than enough either OTN or in the stash already.

Probably the only reason I would hesitate to use the Super Kydd would be if my wearing was very sensitive to things that might itch and the shawl was going to have a lot of skin contact (which mine don't). To increase the softness, when you wash the finished shawl in preparation for wet-blocking (a must!!!), add a little hair conditioner to the final rinse water. It works wonderfully and will help increase the softness even more.

Good luck!

Isn't it wonderful to have such a wide variety of fine, fuzzy yarns from which to select? I'm looking forward to trying out the Super Kydd to see how it stacks up to the others. Certainly nothing beats the price point--a very good thing in my book!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I've been taking a brief respite from my nursing research and doing a little experimenting of my own--with yarn and double-pointed needles this time. You see I do my best thinking and writing late at night and my compute corner gets kind of chilly. I wear nice wooly socks on my feet so they don't get cold but my poor hands are not so fortunate. I tried making a pair of Fetching mitts for myself but that Aran wt. yarn is a bit chunky and the mitts feel a bit cumbersome to me. So I decided to look online for a fingerless mitts pattern that used a skinnier yarn but didn't come up with anything to my satisfaction. So, as I mentioned in my last post. I decided to design my own pattern.

Several weeks ago I bought a cone of dk weight 50% cashmere/50% merino yarn from Richard at ColourMart with the express intent of knitting some fingerless mitts out of it. Originally I thought I could just adapt the Fetching pattern but the yarn was much finer than I had anticipated even after washing, so I knew that wouldn't work. Besides, I love lace so a lacy pattern would be great. I came across a sock design from a great knitter here in Knoxville, Judy Sumner of KnoxSocks (Knoxsocks Designs Sock Knitting Patterns by Judy Sumner) that used a really basic lace motif that appealed to me. So I took that and added some ribbing, and after some trial and error I came up with a lace pattern that was easy, stretchy, and appealing to my eye. One of the challenges was to get a snug fit around the wrist but then how do I get enough room for my hand? I thought back to the things I've been learning from Liz Lovick in the Gansey Workshop over on EZasPi and found my answer--gussets! In gansey sweaters gussets are using in the underarm area to allow for comfortable movement. So I played around with increases and found that placing a gusset on the front and back of the thumb with one panel of lace separating them was the perfect amount of room to accomodate the entire hand and still maintain a close fit. And as you can see from the 1st picture the increases transitioned perfectly into additional lace panels. Boy did I feel accomplished having figured this out :-)

I've finished knitting the first mitt as you can see, and it fits my medium/large hand perfectly. The second mitt is about half done and I can't wait to finish it so I can wear it --only the coldest hand gets a mitt tonight :-( I plan to knit another pair out of a different yarn and try to finesse the pattern a bit more before I put it out for the world to enjoy. But I have plenty of the cashmerino left so I think a matching pair of socks is in order. It will be my next experiment in designing with yarn.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Good and Bad of being Cold

It's been cold here in East TN lately, really cold, like <20 F cold which is cold around here. My space at home is downstairs where it tends to be much colder than the upstairs (one of those thermodynamic principles, you know) and I sleep late and stay up into the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is in bed and the thermostat has been turned way down. In short, it's cold, esp. at my computer. So I decided I really needed to get with it and knit some fingerless gloves for myself. I started in on another pair of Fetching mitts out of the same dark gray yarn I used for my sister's Christmas present. This is good, but gray is dark and not very inspiring and aran wt. yarn makes for thick mitts, which isn't necessarily bad--just thick. So I dropped in on Jinka and Piper at Loopsville on Wednesday to find something cheery to knit my Fetching mitts out of. Does yummy merino yarn have to be in dark colors just because it's winter? I am rebelling! No, I settled for a medium shade of denim blue that will work for me and my sister (although I really wanted pink).

So all this is leading me up to the point of my post which is that I decided to design my own fingerless mitts out of yarn that is pretty and soft and not so well, fat. I surfed the net and found one pattern that I liked but it cost money, which was OK, but the ordering process to get the pattern was exceedingly cumbersome and the shipping policy was, well, a bit much for one simple pattern. So forget that, I can figure this one out myself. And there is that lovely ColourMart cashmerino dk sitting on my shelf which I bought with mitts in mind.... So I have the first mitt almost done--and it looks way cool! I'm taking careful notes so I can write out the pattern and share it with my friends. I might even become famous and get listed in Knitting Pattern Central and have lots of people come and visit my blog and well, gosh! So here's a pix or two. Oh and a pix of my niece dressing up like a rich, chic "French lady" (scarf and chignon) for all my pals on EZasPi (sorry the pix is a bit blurry but it was early for me). Knit on!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Passing on the tradition

Surely there can be no greater joy for a knitter than to pass on the tradition to the next generation. Since I have no children and my brother managed to produce nothing but boys who are interested in sports and music, my only true hope to pass on my fiber fanaticism is my sister's youngest child--my only niece. When school closings necessitated a desperate need for child care 2 weeks ago, Victoria expressed her first interest in wanting to knit. Of course her Aunt Kristina was elated beyond words. The lesson was brief however, so I wasn't sure just how much Victoria liked it. So when she and Mark Thomas came back again this week to spend another couple of days I wasn't sure what to expect. But sure enough, the passion has been kindled and Victoria was ready for more.

Yesterday morning she crawled up in bed with me and intently watched as I was knitting. I was awake at that point but hadn't arrived on the planet yet, if you know what I mean, and was playing around with an idea for some fingerless mitts in a fine gauge yarn. That's when Victoria looked at me with her big cow brown eyes and sighed "I wish you would knit me something." I had made her mother the Fetching mitts for Christmas and they have seen heavy use since then. Plus, grandmother has been knitting on a baby blanket for my nephew Tyler and his wife who are expecting their first baby in June. So of course Victoria is taking this all in like a sponge. I make no commitments but ask her if she wants to practice her knitting. The enthusiasm swallowed up the whole room! I pointed to the yarn and needles she used previously and she was off like a rocket.
I used the little jingle "in through the front door, around the back; out through the window, off jumps Jack" to help her remember the sequence of the knit stitch. In the second picture Victoria is almost cross-eyed trying to get Jack to jump off without the neighbors coming off too! It was just too cute for my big mushy heart to stand. But this time she was able to knit all by herself and completed almost an entire row before the frustration of stitches sliding off the needle when they weren't supposed took over. For a seven year old I thought she did very well. I can't wait for the next lesson :-)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Sunday

Let's see, it's Sunday night. In Knoxville its *very* cold and dry. In Miami a bunch of people shelled out hundreds of bucks to sit in the pouring rain and watch this thing called the Super Bowl. It's a ball game. A football game. It's supposed to be a really big deal, but I usually don't care about it as pro football isn't my thing. But this year is an exception because there's this guy named Manning, Peyton Manning, who is the quarterback for one of the teams, the Indianapolis Colts. I love Peyton Manning. Why? Well, he was a star football player for my beloved University of Tennessee Volunteers. Even better, he graduated from UT--very important in my book if you are going to be held in high enough esteem for me to consider a person qualified for hero status among kids. Being educated is more important that playing football, no matter how good you are. Then there's this thing about just being a really, really good, honest person who does good things for others. Integrity is such a rare bird in today's world, esp. in athletics. The Manning family (Dad Archie, Mom, and brother Eli included) stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to integrity. And if you don't have integrity, you don't have anything really.

So I'm happy about this super thing. And it's half-time and Peyton & the Colts are ahead. And I'm watching the Knitty Gritty marathon on DIY. I'm not watching Prince do the half-time show, that's for sure (don't like his music, and let's not even go into where he stands on things like values and integrity). Host Vickie Howell is blogging live over on the DIY website so I popped over and posted a comment to show my support. It would have been more fun if it would have been a live show, but Vickie is doing a book tour so that wouldn't work this year. But if the blogging goes well, maybe next year.... They're promoting knitting blocks for Warm-Up America during the game. I feel marginally guilty, but I'm not doing one. If I were doing good-deed knitting tonight I'd finish daddy's Christmas socks--but I'm not doing that either.

I've been sicker than all get out this week. It's been a weird kind of sick though, and I have no idea why or what's going on really. But I do know that all the stress I've been feeling from the dissertation is part of the problem and the best answer I had was to cool it for a few days and sleep a lot. And since my brain hasn't been too functional, knitting has been good therapy as well. I'm half-way through chart 9 on the Hidcote shawl and the end is near! I'm at the point where I'm tired of knitting this one and at the same time I'm really anxious to finish. It's a huge shawl to begin with and I think mine may block out to be even larger since I opted to go up one needle size from what the pattern called for.But since my cashmere is going to bloom once I wash and block it, I felt I needed the bigger needle size to achieve the look I wanted.

Since it's been so cold lately I've been wishing I had a pair of fingerless mitts to wear at night while working at the 'puter or knitting. I don't really have any pretty aran wt. yarn to knit Fetching with, but I have some dk cashmerino and some fluffy fingering wt. alpaca. I opted to use the cashmerino and design my own pattern but I knew I needed to wash this ColourMart yarn first in order to feel confident with my stitch counts and needle size. So that meant unwinding the yarn off the cone and into big hanks--no small feat since I don't have a swift or a niddy noddy--and then washing the yarn and dry it--partially air dry plus a short fluff in the dryer. I ended up using one of those lattice looking cup holder thingies you hang on the wall to serve as my swift and I carefully wrapped the yarn around the outer knobs (42" circumference). I placed cotton thread ties around the yarn in four places after every 25 wraps to prevent tangling and ultimately turned the 150g cone into 3 balls. Thank goodness I have a ball winder! The yarn fluffed up nicely and I'm playing with a simple ribbed lace pattern. I started out with size 5 dpns, but they were too big and I had too many stitches. This go around I'm using size 3 dpns and 54 stitches (the pattern is a 9 st repeat). I've knit about an inch thus far so I'll keep you posted.