Monthly Archives: September 2007

licorice twist sweater

I finished the shrug! (click on the link for some of the background of the yarn and how I got started with the pattern.) It’s more like a sweater now because it is actually long enough to reach my waist and I love it! I can’t believe how closely the finished product matches my sketches and imaginings of how I wanted it to end up. The first two drawings are ones I made during a meeting at work, the 3rd is the schematic I used to design the pattern and make the sweater.

I actually finished the sweater nearly two weeks ago, uploaded the pictures last week, and found my sketches tonight….yay for being organized – they were unexpectedly in the very bag I’d used for this project and right where I’d left them under a gigantic pile of laundry.

yarn: 1) I started with 497 grams of the licorice twist (I made up this name – I have no idea what the original colorway was called) from Briggs and Little Woolen Mills and have 192 grams left. 2) I used an entire skein of Lamb’s Pride Worsted which is 113 grams and 173 meters for the black border. Funnily enough, while I have quite a bit of the licorice twist left, I had about a yard of the black left when I cast of the ~450 stitch main border….I was weighing the skein every row to figure out how wide I’d be able to make the border.

needles: Addi Turbo size 10 (6mm) 32″ and some size 10 (6mm) 8″ dpns. It was quite interesting to make the approximately 60″ border on 32″ needles. I scrunched all the stitches together and did some cursing as I lifted the entire sweater around and around and slid the stitches down the right side and up the left side. I did acquire some cheap size 10 plastic needles about halfway through but they were also 32″ so each row, I alternated which needles I was using to make at least half the stitches easier to knit.

button: I got the button at the Fingerlakes fiber festival and it is perfect for the sweater. I made the button hole in the border by casting off 2 stitches and casting them on the next row. It stretched out a lot until I whip stitched around the hole with the same yarn to strengthen it.

Things I learned making this sweater:

1) the raglan construction doesn’t look so nice with a different color border knitted on – maybe I can make a yoke next time so it doesn’t look so square where the black border is knitted into the raglans.

2) When I think I’m going to run out of yarn and buy more, I will not actually run out of yarn.

3) The power of the scale is awesome – for the border I was using about 6 grams of yarn per plain round about about 7 per cabled round. When I had 45 grams left, I figured I could knit 6 more rows and still have enough for the bind off. It actually worked. The bind off used almost two rows worth of yarn which I will certainly keep in mind next time.

4) I never used to understand why anyone would make pieces of a garment flat, then sew them together – it seemed like an extra step and kinda confused me. When I look at a sleeve knitted flat, it doesn’t look like it will go on my arm – when I’m knitting a sleeve in the round, I can try it on as I go. When I’m knitting seamless, I have almost no ends to weave in, and fewer stitches to pick up since I also used figure 8 cast-ons everywhere. Somehow, I derive extra pleasure from not having any seams in the garment. I began to understand why someone might knit a garment flat when I was working on the sleeves – every 3 or 4 rounds, I’d have to pick the whole sweater up and untwist it. It was still nice not having to pin the sleeve in place and sew it to the shoulder wondering if I was doing it right or if I’d have to try again and again…

5) this is the worst – I’m ALLERGIC to mohair. I had no idea. It didn’t bother me when I swatched, it didn’t bother me when I was carrying the mohair around to look at it, it didn’t bother me when I knit the cuffs. It began to bother me about halfway through the border (the same time I was panicking about running out of yarn and obsessively weighing the remaining skein). I actually had to stop knitting, wash my hands, wash my face, take out my contacts, and swallow some claritin. Then I finished knitting after I took a walk. I wore it to work the next day because it was almost cold and I was excited about my new sweater. I had to take it off on 3 or 4 separate occasions because my eyes were too itchy. I’ve washed it, but I think I’m still allergic – either my eyes are itching thinking about it, or they’re itching because I moved it to make room for clean laundry a little bit ago.

I can’t quite face re-knitting the border just yet, I like it too much to give it away to someone my size with no mohair allergy, and I don’t really see the point of owning a sweater that lives unworn in my attic.

I want to destroy the 15% mohair in the border. I love the border. It’s perfect. I can’t believe I figured out the right number of stitches to pick up for each separate section of the sweater, I can’t believe I counted to 450, and I can’t believe my border lies flat on the first try. Maybe when it gets really cold, I can take a lot of claritin, avoid touching my eyes, and wear it anyway.

The shrug that morphed into a sweater was in fact a success. I’m planning to make one for my sister – she’s smaller than me so I think I can get the entire sweater and border from her 4 skeins of Briggs and Little wool.

I’ve never really written a pattern before – I take notes for myself to make something again later but that’s about it. I’m pretty sure my notes wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me and of course, they’re only in my size. However, if enough (more than 10) people are interested in a seamless sweater/shrug and leave a comment telling me so, I’d consider doing some math and writing it up for a few sizes.

happy knitting!


warm for winter

When we moved into the house, we knew the chimney was old and non-functional. We figured that to avoid lighting the attic on fire, we’d get the chimney relined so we could build fires. After a bit of research, we discovered that the stovepipe on a wood-burning stove would fix the chimney and the stove would provide significantly more heat to the house than a fireplace.

We have to burn a couple small fires to break in the stove and finish curing the paint. We had a small one the other night – I can’t wait to dry yarn and sweaters in front of the fire this winter 🙂

Now to buy some wood…


Last weekend was a whirlwind of activities – I’m actually pretty surprised that it is nearly this weekend. I watched my parents dog, maia, for the entire week while they were visiting my grandparents. We picked her out before my brother was born and she had 4 litters of puppies when I was younger – she’s 16 or so now and has outlived her life expectancy a couple times. She had to stay in the bathroom while I was at work but it must not have been so bad because she choose to take her naps in there even when I was home. She got my brother’s lion king comforter as a hand-me-down.

My parents got home Saturday and the dog went back to their house while Mr. T and I went to Buffalo for his Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. We left the camera home but the food was delicious, the fire station hall was magnificent, and I found the chocolate favors last night so we ate them all up. I still had a chocolate craving tonight so I got into the semi-sweet bakers chocolate – I knew there was a reason I kept that around.

Sunday morning I got up early to watch part of the Rochester marathon – my friend was running and I wanted to cheer her on. Then I picked my jet lagged mother up and headed down to Hemlock Lake for the Fingerlakes fiber festival. I worked on the giant sock at the Rochester knitting guild table for a while and then we went shopping. I didn’t get any pictures of the sock (too busy knitting ;-)) but here is a link to Helen’s sock entry.

I managed to mostly restrain myself even though there was so much beautiful yarn everywhere. I got some buttons for my and eventually my sister’s shrugs:

They are handmade by Diane Edwards and she also hand-dyes yarn. My mom was a bit worried about the glass but Diane said that if they ever break, I can send it back to her and she’ll replace it. I think it will be the perfect fastener for my licorice twist shrug.

I didn’t intend to buy any random skeins of yarn – I was hunting for a fair isle hat starter kit but didn’t see one anywhere. I was drooling over sock yarn but kept reminding myself of the 4 skeins I had at home. I also made a rule that mom and I would walk around everywhere first without buying anything – if we wanted something badly enough we could remember which vendor had it and return. We ended up returning to Steam Valley Fiber Farm – I had pet one of their silk/merino hand dyed skeins for a full 10 minutes already. It was a worsted weight single ply with the look of raw silk and I kept coming back to the same colorway. It is a blend of purples with some turquoise thrown in for contrast – this might be why I love the colors so much. I’m squishing it right now and it almost feels like suede.

It’s sitting next to my computer begging for a worthy project. I want to do something with cables because they are one of my current obsessions but I don’t want to obscure the beautiful variegated colors.

This coming weekend promises to be almost as crazy – we’re winetouring on Keuka Lake with Mr. T’s family for his sister’s birthday celebration all day Saturday. I bet I can knit in the car 🙂 Sunday we’re heading to Ithaca for the first cyclocross race of the season – I hope I don’t fall off my bike too many times – it’s embarrassing.

if you’re going to steal it, please just eat it

I don’t keep yarn outside so I don’t have to worry about yarn stealing squirrels. I have another problem.


My tomatoes. Mr. T bought me a lot of tomato plants for my birthday. We thought a bunch would die since we’d never tried growing tomatoes before and had no idea what sort of soil we have at the new house. Well, I almost killed a bunch but it seems the worse that happened was a temporary stunting of growth – they all have green tomatoes. They are yummy, especially because we’re growing them ourselves (with a little help watering from friends and family while we were biking through the Fingerlakes).

The squirrels like them too. We have 5-10 squirrels nearby and they are fearless. They have no predators here and apparently started liking tomatoes. Except they don’t actually like tomatoes, they like to pull them off the plant, eat a bite or two and drop the ruined fruit on the ground. It’s so sad to come home from work and see broken tomatoes lying in the driveway. We know it’s the squirrels because they stole a tomato while we were eating dinner near the grill.

Tonight I made salsa in my food processor from tomatoes – we rescued a bunch and let them ripen on the windowsill. But fried tomatoes (red and green) are yummy too and I happen to have a picture 😉


I’m almost ready to start the border on the vintage licorice twist shrug, and I’ve nearly finished with the grassy snow brioche scarf – hopefully I haven’t made it too long already.