Knitting

If It’s Good Enough for Mozart

I’m not comparing myself to Mozart, but I do have something in common with this prodigious prodigy: I recycle. Yes, we both usually pull things out of the air*, he with his symphonies and sonatas, and I with my sweaters and scarves, but we’re both helped along at times by recycling good pieces.

The radio hosts on the classical music station I listed to all day love to point out any time Mozart re-uses some prelude from such-and-such opera in the concerto in D minor we’re about to listen to, or if he rewrote a piece he did for oboe in B plus to this upcoming one for harpsichord in A minus, or whatever.

They report it like Mozart tried to pull a fast one, but come on, it’s not like he recycled Chopsticks. It’s just good stuff that he wanted to use again. And it’s not like he could hide what he did. Mozart composed for money, so everything he wrote was for public performance. Anyone with auricles could hear his recycled stuff. And they probably thought it was genius.

He also usually recycled when he was under a tremendous deadline, like writing an entire opera in 48 hours, or whatever.

I, too, compose for money, but I recycle because I’m lazy.

Speaking of auricles, let’s take look at my beanie of the same name as an example, and because it’s the reason I’m writing this blog post in the first place. This is the third time I’ve used this swirly garter rib pattern in a design.

The first was in my very first published pattern in 2009.

The second was my fourth design published in 2012.

Raspberry Swirl Pullover

And now my Auricle Beanie published a few days ago.

Here they are side-by-side-by-side.

I wasn’t in a hurry to design this hat, but recycling did hurry things along. Only about 24 hours from concept to publication. Half the time it takes Mozart to compose an opera.


*If only.

To Ponder: Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
|-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart-|

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Voilà: Auricle Beanie

Second pattern released this month. I feel a bit like author Georges Simenon who famously put a fresh piece of paper in his typewriter to start another novel the moment he pulled out the last piece of paper from his finished novel.

I would, of course, like to feel more like the author J.K. Rowling who sells about 5,000 books per minute when a new one is released.

Maybe I should write books.

Pattern Details: Auricle Beanie

Available for purchase on Ravelry and Craftsy.

There was a cold knitter uneasy
Because earflaps made her quite queasy
“Shaping flaps is so fiddly,
“Mid-row cast-ons so beastly,
“But this beanie’s just easy peasy!”

Keep your auricles stylishly warm with this garter rib beanie worked all in one piece. Strategic increases and decreases create a whorled rib pattern that dips down over the ears creating a subtle earflap. In other words, an earflap hat that doesn’t require three separate pieces and mid-row cast-ons.

Features

  • Written and charted instructions
  • Sizing options

Skills
Working in the round, knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing.

Size
One.
Circumference: 17.5”/44.5cm, unstretched; 20”/51cm stretched
Height, measured from center crown: to front/back: 7”/17.75cm, to bottom of earflap: 8”/20.5cm.

Yarn
Knit Picks Paragon Sport Weight (50% fine merino wool, 25% baby alpaca, 25% mulberry silk; 123yd/112m; 50g), Ash; 2 skeins. Hat uses about 136yd (55g).

Needles
1 16” US 5/3.75mm circular needle
1 set US 5/3.75mm DPNs

Notions
Stitch markers, one in a different color to mark BOR; yarn needle.

Gauge
22 sts/39 rows = 4”/10cm in garter rib patt, blocked and relaxed.


To Ponder: As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. |-Henry David Thoreau-|

The Naming of Shire

I do love concepts and itemizations and documenting things, so I keep a list of words I think would make a good pattern names—Delta, Outpost, Espionage, Covert, Adirondack, Tabernacle, Camp Director, Fleetwood, Magoo. It’s a useless thing to do because I never refer to that list when I’m ready to name a pattern, but it comforts me to keep them safe somewhere.

With my Shire scarf, that was the working name and the name I stayed with through publication, but not before trying out some other names, which is the dessert part of designing knitwear.

A while back, I designed some fingerless mitts that I sold to Knit Picks. The design looked a bit like chain link, and the German word for chain link, Kettenglied, was cool, so I turned to German again when it came time for dessert.

First* I listed some words that described the design: grillwork, lattice, crosstalk, fraternal, harmony, duet, crosshatch, hatch, intersection, balance, reflection, similar, mirror, reversible. Then I looked up their German translation.

Some weren’t different enough and would look like a simple misspelling:

  • Harmony = Harmonie
  • Duet = Duett
  • Balance = Balance
  • Reversible = Reversibel

Others either made the scarf seem hard to knit or they sounded offensive when pronounced, even if just quietly to yourself at home:

  • Crosstalk = Übersprechen
  • Fraternal = Brüderlich
  • Crosshatch = Kreuzschraffur
  • Intersection = Überschneidung
  • Reflection = Betrachtung
  • Similar = ähnlich

Others were just meh:

  • Grillwork = Gitterwerk
  • Lattice = Gitter
  • Mirror = Spiegel
  • Hatch = Luke

The scarf has a sort of Irish flavor, so I looked up those same words in Gaelic.

  • Harmony = chéile
  • Balance = Iarmhéid
  • Reversible = inchúlaithe
  • Fraternal = bráithriúil
  • Crosshatching = tras-haitseáil
  • Intersection = crosbhealach
  • Reflection = frithchaitheamh

Jeez!

I eventually decided that Shire was a right good name for it, especially after I found an old email I had written to a friend in May 2015 about why I named it Shire.

The working name of the design is Shire in honor of a draft horse I met earlier on my morning walk down to the lake. There was a gal with seven horses down there. She gives trail rides and was waiting for her clients. She let me pet her horses and we talked for about 30 minutes. Then I took her old dog Shadow down to the lake so he could cool off in the water. There were a bunch of wild blackberries on the trail that the deer hadn’t eaten, so I foraged as many as I could hold in my hand and fed some to the Shire (which is the breed of draft horse rather than his name), then split the rest with the gal.

Not the actual horse or the actual lakeside.


*Actually, I first looked up Shire, which is translated as Grafschaft. I’ll let you decide what’s wrong with that.

To Ponder: In early times some sufferer had to sit up with a toothache, and he put in the time inventing the German language. |-Mark Twain-|

 

Voilà: Shire Scarf

Lately, I’ve had all kinds of GTD energy, picking up languishing design WIPS that are mostly done, but abandoned for one excuse or another (I have an infinite supply of excuses). I don’t know exactly what’s prompting me to pick up old projects, but it’s probably some combination of forcing myself to work out at the gym, boredom, chagrin that I abandoned them in the first place (especially this one that was completely finished except for formatting into my pattern template), a desire to drop the phrase “passive income” into casual conversation, and a need to feel productive while binge-watching New Tricks (love Brian “Memory” Lane) and A Touch of Frost.

So, I finished my Shire Scarf that was rejected by Knitty, composed a limerick for it, added it to Ravelry and Craftsy, and now lookie here: a blog post.

My friend Angie took the photos at her little farm in June 2015 (!). And then we ate a delicious chicken dinner.*

Pattern Details: Shire Scarf by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

A knitter once had a desire
For a scarf of cables entire
Right and wrong must look same
For that’s playing the game
And here is the winner called Shire!

Shire is a heavily cabled scarf that uses 4-stitch cable crossings on both right and wrong sides to produce alternating bands of cables and lattice. And it’s reversible! Both sides look the same, but are not identical.

Features

  • Written and charted instructions
  • Sizing options
  • Reversible
  • Looks great on both sides

Skills
Knitting, purling, cabling. (Cabling without a cable needle would be very helpful.)

Size
One. Approximately 6” (15cm) x 68” (173cm).

Yarn
Valley Yarns Northampton 100% wool; 247yd/226m per 100g skein Natural; 2 skeins.

Needles
1 pair size US 8 (5mm) needles.

Notions
Cable needle, yarn needle, removable stitch marker.

Gauge
34 sts/26 rows = 4” (10cm) in cable pattern, blocked.
20 sts/28 rows = 4” (10cm) in stockinette stitch, blocked.


*Kidding.

To Ponder: The weaker the body is, the more it commands; the stronger it is, the more it obeys. |-John-Jacques Rousseau-|

Travel Food

After more years than I want to count, I’m finally taking a true and proper vacation. Going Greyhound to Arizona to see my BFF, Tina. She of the life scarf.

Friends since the 5th grade.

If my readership is like most people I’ve told about this trip, about 3/4 of you will make a polite face and wonder why I’m taking the bus instead of a plane, and about 1/4 of you will think it sounds cool and fun.

For the dissenting majority, here’s why I’m taking the bus:

  1. I have more time than money. A bus trip is more than half the price of a flight, including the ticket and any shuttles I’d have to take.
  2. I don’t like to fly. I ain’t skeered; just not interested.
  3. One of my favorite bloggers, James Altucher, says that he wants his life to resemble a book of stories rather than a textbook. That’s how I’ve always thought, but his description puts it best. A long bus trip is going to create many more stories than a boring old plane ride.
  4. When I think about escaping the relentless Texas heat and moving somewhere that supports my wooly wardrobe, I look west. This trip will turn the map into the territory.
  5. And this quote, which I wrote in one of my journals many years ago (and which explains why I’ll do just about anything to earn money, save getting a 9-5):

It is easy to make life and career decisions based solely on financial concerns and to conform your life to the contours of whatever job will pay the most money. That is what most of us Americans are culturally programmed to do. However, if you put the money factor aside, shift your mental frame of reference, and instead analyze your life in terms of the plot of a novel, the results of your analysis will most likely change. Imagine that you are on a long train ride and must choose one of two books to read in order to pass the time: the first is a novel whose main character is an office worker who is essentially working to pay his monthly cable bill; the second is about someone who decides to travel in South America (and of course encounters various setbacks in the process), but who pushes beyond the boundaries of conventional American life. Which book would you pick up to read? Indeed, which of the two characters would you rather be? |-Mark Thompson-|

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto the subject of this post, which is travel food, which for a knitter is: knitting.

The trip out there is 25+ hours and the trip back home is 28+, assuming, of course, that the buses run according to schedule.

I waited until the second-to-last minute to figure out what to take, and came up with two projects that are portable, almost mindless, and will be easy to pick up and put down in case I need to stop knitting to take photos of jackrabbits in the desert, or in case Keanu Reeves boards the bus in El Paso and he wants to talk.

The first is the Baby Kimono by Kristin Spurkland from Interweave Knits Summer 2005.

(c)Interweave Knits

It calls for DK weight yarn, which I’m always sorry I don’t have more of in my stash. So I’m using worsted weight yarn, some Berocco Comfort of which I have just enough* for this little jacket done entirely in garter stitch.

I cast on last night and knit a few rows to get started. My gauge doesn’t match, but eh, if I finish it, and if a baby ever wears it, it probably won’t matter.

No baby will be harmed in the making of this kimono.

If I tire of knitting every row, I can throw in some purling with my second project—Citron by Hilary Smith Callis from Knitty Winter 2009.

(c)Hilary Smith Callis

The pattern calls for lace weight yarn, but I’m using a fingering weight like I did the first time I knit it. I used Knit Picks Comfort in blackberry.

I loved it the first time.

This time, it’s hollyberry.

The stockinette adventure begins.

Catch y’all on the flip side.


*I should have just enough yarn, but with the way my luck goes sometimes…

To Ponder: See above.

High-Low-Yo

My gambling friends will know that high-low-yo is a one-roll bet in craps. You say it as one word as you fling a chip into the center of the table, but you’re making three bets: one bet on the highest roll of the dice (twelve, aka, boxcars or midnight), one bet on the lowest roll (two, aka, aces or snake eyes (which no legit craps player calls it ever)), and one bet on eleven.

Never happens.

Never happens when you want it to and always when you don’t.

It’s a stupid bet* because crap dice (the high-low part) rarely come up (the payout odds are 30:1). Unless, of course, a hot shooter has been hitting numbers for an hour and you start feeling like you can’t lose so you make unnecessarily high bets on the come out rolls. That’s when those evil twins ride up on their Harleys, trailing their dangerous cousin, ace-deuce, and the croupier’s call changes from, “Winner; pay the line,” to “Crap dice; line away.” But did you cover your high line bet with a craps bet? No. You were flush and cocky, thinking that today’s the day you were going to make up for all those other days.

You already know that I gambled on the Hermosa Tee I was knitting up for my sister-in-law, and ran out of yarn half-way through the front.

Just my luck.

I should have covered that bet by ordering more yarn from Knit Picks, but what are the odds that they would send me the same dye lot as the original yarn? At least 50:1.**

So I did the equivalent of walking away from the craps table. I bound off (binded off?) and turned it into a high-low asymmetrical hem.

This tee is so tiny, I had to photograph it on my half-mannequin.

Yo.


*I agree: all bets are stupid.

**Don’t forget we’re talking about me and my luck, so let’s amend those odds to 100:1.

To Ponder: The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil. |-Heywood Hale Broun-|

Finito: Stormy Cables

Back when I was still in my forties, I started knitting a cabled sweater. Something to keep my hands occupied when I wasn’t working on an original design.

When I was close to finishing, it got set aside, as knitting projects do, then eventually buried beneath other projects on the love seat situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in my office in Pompeii.*

I think I stopped working on this Stormy Cables pullover because I was going to have to make some decisions about the neckline—decisions I wasn’t ready for, owing to both laziness and the fact that I was busy working on a complex cabled sweater design (which itself has been set aside due to 100% laziness about making decisions about the neckline).

The street I live on.

A few weeks ago, I dug Stormy out of the rubble and discovered that the neckline looked pretty good, and I had set it aside when it was just about done.  I needed to work only a few more rows and bind off the neck, sew closed the underarms, and weave in all the ends. At most three hours of work, but probably closer to two.

So, I set it aside again.**

Two weeks later, I finished the neckline and bound off. (Binded off? I should know this.)

And then I read a few books, planned a trip to visit my BFF, sold a few things on eBay, taught my 3,000th yoga class, watched the first four episodes of Miss Fisher, celebrated Easter, binge-watched the entire fourth season of Haven, and filed my quarterly sales tax report.

Then a few hours ago, I had this.

Woven in (weaved in?) ends.

And then I had this.

My new Christmas sweater.

My new Christmas sweater.

I love this almost as much as I loved screwing around for months and months since I started it. Can I count this as an accomplishment even though it took me two years to finish?

More pictures on my Ravelry project page.


*I considered posting a picture of the burial ground, but I embarrass myself enough accidentally without doing it on purpose and on the internets.

**Surely you saw that coming.

To Ponder: Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything. |-Joe Rogan-|

WIP: Hermosita Tee

Soon after my Hermosa Tee came out, I had lunch with my brother and sister-in-law.

Aw.

I wore my prototype of the t-shirt and brought along my copy of Vogue Knitting’s Spring 2016 issue in which Louet had placed an ad for the pattern collection that included my design.

It’s just an ad, but probably the only time my name will appear as a designer in Vogue Knitting.

My SIL really liked* my new design, and my brother asked me to knit one for her.

In my stash is every color of yarn in the known universe (even lime green)—except, of course, the particular shade of purple she wanted, so I had to order some.

I knew that Knit Picks had lots of shades of purple in the fiber I wanted to use (cotton blend) and yarn weight I needed (sport), so I sent them three to choose from.

Three strikes.

What other purples are there, they wanted to know.

Nope, nope, and nope.

Not quite what they had in mind, they said. Anything else?

Jeez.

“One more,” I wrote, “but it’s 100% acrylic. It will be soft, but not as soft as the other two that are cotton blends.”

Knit Picks Brava Sport in freesia.

Soft shmoft, acrylic shmacrylic. That’s the color she wanted.

When the yarn arrived, I was in the midst of swatching for a new design, and I ended up knitting an entirely different this-exact-color-purple t-shirt for my SIL.

But the skeins of Brava Sport are so generous and my SIL is so tiny that I had enough yarn left over to knit her a this-exact-color-purple Hermosa Tee.

The back.

Well, almost enough yarn.

Uh-oh.


*By “really liked” I mean that she saw it and said, “That’s nice.” She’s not one to gush.

To Ponder: Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions. When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need. |-Richard G. Scott-|

Nothing for Miles

When I first started this blog, I had tons of stuff to say. I’ve been knitting seriously since high school, designing for a few years, and have had strong thoughts, beliefs, and opinions since birth. I have cultivated the skill of being able to talk to anyone about anything—whether it be a friend’s metal clayworking class or my brother’s new pistol or a librarian’s suddenly overpriced neighborhood.

I doubted I would ever run out of things to say about knitting, and if I did, I had other things to write about, like yoga and stupid stuff in the news. And if that ran out, new situations would come into my life, like a schizophrenic neighbor who has covered her house in foil as a shield against the radio frequency waves and “energy balls” I’m hurling at her.

But lately, I can’t think of a single thing to say. Not just about knitting, but about anything.

Well, I can think of stuff to say, but it’s boring. Like recently I noticed that four of the last 10 patterns I’ve published have used a lime green yarn, which seems impossible because I don’t even like that color.

Not even a picture can make this interesting.

This blog post is so boring, I can’t believe I spent time on it, and I’ll probably delete it later. It doesn’t even have a point.

Sorry.


To Ponder: I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else. |-Kurt Cobain-|