Changing the Name of My Blog

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to A Texas Girl Sucks, and here’s why:

I made a ridiculous rookie mistake while knitting The Sweater.

Everything I’ve submitted lately has been rejected.

My truck stopped running for no reason at all.

Heck, I even ordered something from Amazon to be delivered 2nd day just so I could give my UPS guy the Christmas gift I bought for him weeks ago, and the package was delivered by FedEx.

Anyone else feel like it’s a good thing breathing is an automatic body process?

To Ponder: The real problem is most of us are idiots. We just like to think we’re not idiots because we use sh*t a bunch of smart people figured out. But how many of us understand that sh*t? If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an email? |-Joe Rogan-|




Decision: Sweater by Knitscene

Way back in October I submitted a sweater to Knitscene Fall 2015 for their Style Icons story.

On Saturday, my one and only piece of mail was the swatch. It wasn’t a surprise, really. Within a month of the deadline, they email if they want it, so I knew it wasn’t happening by Thanksgiving.

But it still kind of sucks to get the swatch back.

On the bright side:

  • The swatch can be used as a cowl, which means I can sell it.
  • I won’t have to put The Sweater on hold while I design this one.
  • It’s not like I’ve never been published by Knitscene.

Just so I can have a picture in this post, here’s a Pinterest mashup showing a yoke design that looks like wooden switch plates.

The cardigan is by one of my favorite designers, Marie Wallin, who has no trouble getting published.

Of course, she probably doesn’t screw around all day on Pinterest.

To Ponder: To embark on the journey toward your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment. |-Steve Maraboli-|

Design WIP: The Stupid Sleeves Again

Okay, so the sleeves aren’t stupid. I’m the one who’s stupid. Okay, not stupid in general, but I’m math stupid.

But if you want to design a cabled sweater that fits, you have to do the maths. And redo them again and again because even though you triple-checked everything the first time, you came up with numbers that created sleeves that were easy to design instead of numbers that would create sleeves that actually fit the armhole until your spreadsheet looks like this:

And you can’t takes your eyes off these numbers for even a second to take a wee color break on Pinterest or to make a cuppa with extra honey because your glucose levels are low from all the brain energy you’ve used plugging the right digits into the right columns and saying a poem’s worth of words that rhyme with knit because if you do look away, all those numbers and formulas and trains of thought flip over to another channel and the only thing left is that big bottle of Crown Royal that you bought on credit in anticipation of Creative Knitting paying you a handsome sum for your Christmas ornament pattern.

So after three* hours, it’s done.

I have new numbers and a new chart and a new attitude. Sort of.

It’s 66 bleepin’ degrees.

In January.


This is ridonculous.

Not sweater weather.

*Well, four hours, because I always spend an hour trying to jimmy a fix even though I know—know—that nothing to do with sweater math is easy.

To Ponder: Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. |-Jonathan Mead-|

If I Had a Hammer

If I had a hammer, I’d arrange all of my illusions about designing the perfect cabled sweater in a circle and smash them one by one.

Let’s take them in order of size.

1. Flow an interesting ribbing into the main design. I actually accomplished that, but there’s a new problem: the cables at the neck don’t flow into the ribbing. Or rather, they could if I worked hard enough, but this design has been on my needles since March—and on my nerves since July—and I simply don’t have it in me. So all the fiddling and charting I’ve already done to make sure this works for all sizes matters not.

It’s breaking my heart to let this go.

Therefore, K2, p2 ribbing is as interesting as it’s going to get.

2. Use a combination of raglan sleeves and saddle shoulder strips to create a feminine silhouette. I did that too, but when I tried to explain it in writing, my brain started to sizzle. And when I thought about doing it for all sizes, there was a cerebral meltdown that I’m still not fully recovered from. So all the ripping and knitting I did to change the sleeve to a raglan matters not.

Therefore, I’m following the lead of Irish knitters everywhere and going with a drop sleeve.

3. Keep the center cable fully intact at the neckline. In other words, knit a full repeat of the cable rather than cutting it off any ol’ where when it’s time to start binding off for the neck. I made it work for the prototype, but the cable has 36 rows, which is incompatible with a full repeat for all the normal sizes of a sweater. What’s even worse is that I knew this would be a problem going in, but I Scarlett O’Haraed the issue, and now Tara is burning.

But lookie here:

These cables look just fine.

The doyenne of crazy complex cable design, Alice Starmore, isn’t bothered by it, so neither will I be.

4. Publish this pattern by the start of the fall/winter knitting planning season, which is around August or September. (Apparently, knitters who don’t live in south Texas experience the type of weather during those months that turns their thoughts to warmth.) This required that a) my design was perfect from the start, and b) I enjoy having what amounts to a wool blanket in my lap while the daily high temperature could dehydrate a watermelon into a fruit rollup in about 11 hours.

Two negatives do not make a positive, and since there’s no such thing as a C-section when birthing a sweater, it will come out when it’s ready.

On the bright side:

  • After writing this post, I’m getting ideas about how I might could rescue two of my illusions from the hammer. (Not #4; it’s October. Plus, if I could go back in time, I can think of other more urgent and profitable things to do.)
  • I made up all these rules for my sweater, so I can change them.
  • Now I know why Irish knitters and influential designers don’t do anything edgy with these types of cabled sweater.

To Ponder: All things are difficult before they are easy.* |Italian Proverb|

*Especially when the difficulties are self-inflicted.

Rejection: Tee by Knitscene

Saturday’s mail brought my Padre Island Tee swatch in an envelope from Knitscene.

I’ve had more rejections than acceptances in recent months, so it would be easy to get discouraged, but I know that the competition for these national magazines is intense, and my chances of shining brighter than the well-known designers who are regularly published are practically nil to begin with.

Sometimes I could take or leave some of my designs, but this tee is a good one, so I’m going to keep it in my pocket.

I don’t have pictures of my design, so let’s enjoy this drive-in movie screen my paranoid neighbor erected between our houses.

She’s afraid of my nefarious activities concealed by the backboard.

On the bright side:

  • I can submit the tee for another spring/summer call for submissions.
  • I can knit it in wool and give it long sleeves and turn it into a fall/winter design.
  • I can get a job at the new grocery store coming to town and not worry about any of this ever again.

To Ponder: Paranoia is just another word for ignorance. |Hunter S. Thompson|

Somebody Get Guinness on the Line

The other day, after mostly finishing all the pieces of The Sweater, I laid everything out to see how the sleeves would work with the body, and…they don’t. Not even a little bit.*

I messed up so spectacularly, I set a record that Guinness should know about.

At first I didn’t believe it, so I spent about half an hour trying to figure out how it couldn’t be wrong. That didn’t work, so I tried to figure out how to minimize the damage, hoping I could maybe just redo the sleeve caps, but I can’t because it’s that completely bleeped up.

So after about another half hour of looking at my options, I finally came to terms with the fact that I have to rip hours of work and redo all four pieces from the underarm up. For my non-knitting friends, on the body of a sweater, that area is called the yoke; on a sleeve, it’s called the sleeve cap. Combined, that represents about one-third of the sweater.†

The only way I can salvage the work I’ve done is to knit raglan sleeves, but even that won’t save it completely. From the very start of this design, as I chose the cables and their placement, I was working toward a particular type of sleeve, which means that raglan sleeves will cut into a couple of cables in a way I hadn’t intended or planned for.

Explaining, in writing, how I arrived at this point would give me carpal tunnel syndrome, so you’ll have to imagine your own worst screw up.

And then triple it.

On the bright side:

  • I wanted raglan sleeves in the first place.
  • Redesigning should be easy.
  • Guinness doesn’t have a category for knitwear design flubs.

*You might be wondering why I waited until all four pieces were done before I tested my design. I’m wondering the same thing.

†Remember that this is a heavily cabled sweater, so one-third of the sweater is equivalent to three-fourths of my sanity.

p.s. There are no photos in this post because I’m hoping lots of readers will skip it, thereby minimizing the number of people who think less of me.

To Ponder: Ideas must be put to the test. That’s why we make things, otherwise they would be no more than ideas. There is often a huge difference between an idea and its realization. |Andy Goldsworthy|

Yarn for The Sweater

If I could afford to always buy 100% merino wool that’s been hand-dyed by Icelandic mermaids using the natural colors of the ocean, I would, but wearing the crown of a yarn snob requires a certain number of zeros in my bank account that I will never see unless the bank makes an error in my favor. (In that case, I would proceed directly to the little yellow crack house in Austin and buy most of the yarn in their front room.)

For now, I buy good yarns on super sale or okay yarns that are a good value.

Cabled sweaters eat yarn like someone else is paying, so I’m knitting The Sweater prototype in Valley Yarns Northampton, a good-value workhorse yarn that comes in skeins of 247 yards and lots of colors.

I used this yarn for my Old Port Pullover by Kristen Tendyke. It’s soft and sturdy, and didn’t change shape during its baptism.

The camera adds 10 lbs, and three cameras are on me.

I’ve mentioned before that I design as I go along, so my process is to knit a prototype to figure things out, write the pattern, then knit the final from the pattern. If it’s a small item, like a hat or fingerless mitts, I can usually knit a prototype and a final version with the final yarn. But that won’t work for a project as big as The Sweater.

I have a lot of skeins of Northampton in my stash, but not enough of one color to knit another sweater, so I had to buy more yarn.

This yarn is a bargain at $5.99/skein, but I rarely pay that much for it. WEBS, the company that supplies Valley Yarns (and pretty much every other commercial yarn on the planet), has a deal-of-the-day that they post on Twitter. I don’t text and I don’t own an iAnything, but I can see public tweets online, and WEBS often makes deals on this yarn line.

I’ve been waiting for-e-ver for Northampton to be WEBS’s deal-of-the-day, and last weekend, it finally went on sale for $4.19/skein.

Why it had to be during the month of July—the month I had to shell out $1K to a shady mechanic and my income was cut almost in half because no fewer than 12 of my there-every-single-class yoga students were gone traveling for most of the month—I don’t know. But if I didn’t buy it then, I would have to pay $14.40 more.

It’s a good thing I did, too. Because a few days later, WEBS tweeted this:

Just because they can, I guess.

I don’t want to have two sweaters exactly the same color, so I chose a different one. Which one of these do you think I ordered?

To Ponder: You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. |Naguib Mahfouz|

220 x X* = Insanity

*Where X is the number of times I’ve counted to 220.

I started a new knitting project—Lucie Sinkler’s #23 Sleeveless Top from Vogue Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2003 issue. I like the shape of this top (which is not sleeveless, but rather has cap sleeves) and the fact that it’s seamless. I don’t like the air vents at the sides, so I’ll be leaving them out. (If you had seen the chart for those things, you’d do the same.)

I’m using Knit Picks’ slippery Shine Sport in Currant and slippery Addi Turbo needles. (Don’t ask if I swatched because I didn’t.)

Only one thing is better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

I cast on 220 stitches using my favorite Chinese Waitress cast-on (which took 45 minutes), joined for knitting in the round checking several times that I didn’t twist the line of stitches, and began knitting. It starts with three garter ridges, which means three rounds of purling 220 stitches.

I finally got to the stockinette rounds and added a little cable detail that’s supposed to continue up and along the raglan decreases.

After about six hours and 12 rounds, I had this:

3,960 stitches, 660 of them purled.

After I realized that I had twisted the line of stitches and would have to start over, I had this:

And then I had this**:

Zero stitches.

And then I had this:

The only thing better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

And then I had this:

My knitting hubris will prevent me from doing this next time.

You’ll notice that my cast on has little binder clips on it. This tip to clip your stitches in place so the slippery yarn on the slippery needles doesn’t deceive you into believing that they’re lined up properly is from the surprisingly helpful book Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets.

I again cast on 220 stitches and again joined for knitting in the round, absolutely certain that I had not twisted the line of stitches. I worked one round, counting each stitch as I knit it, and came up with 210.

Can someone please subscribe me to a wine-o-the-month club?

**To rub a little salt in my wound, when I tried to frog the yarn onto the ball winder, it kept knotting itself because of the twist, so I had to hand-wind it.

Knit WIP: Stormy Cables > Yoke Broke

So even though I’m in the midst of designing the most awesome cabled sweater, I’ve been knitting along on my Stormy Cables, in the evenings, when my brain isn’t at peak perfermance. Sort of like feeding the little grey cells a main diet of Shakespeare to keep them strong and limber, then treating them to a delightful snack of Ogden Nash.

I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to follow the pattern and make it a V-neck, even though I love the center cable that’s maintained up the center on both sides of the decreases for the sleeves and neck.

Skinny mannequin model.

That detail is designed to emphasize the mammaries, which I do not need or desire.

I also just don’t like V-neck sweaters. Not sure why. Maybe the preppiness rubs the nap of my boho style sense the wrong way.

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a supremely lazy knitter, so I’m all about minimizing finishing (which is why I decided to knit this sweater in the round). A V-neck requires joining a second skein of yarn, then knitting both sides at the same time. More yarn joins mean more ends to weave in. And because I’m knitting this in one piece, I would have to change to knitting the yoke back and forth. Ugh on multiple levels.

So, the neckline will be ballet or funnel depending on how soon I run out of yarn, and I’ll still have some nice cables running along the raglan seams.

Neckline TBD.

I didn’t shoot a man while robbing his castle, but I did run into a great big hassle with the raglan decreases. Specifically, decreasing into a cable.


Can you see how the cables are elongated near the raglan seam?

How about now?

(Remember that this is evening snack knitting, so I’m paying more attention to what’s going on in Cicely, Alaska than to what’s on the needles.)

I’m not sure if I can live with it, but I don’t think I could bear to start over with the yoke. It’s only a few rows, but it represents quite a few hours and a lot of wrist pain. I know how to fix it—maintain the cable crossings when possible, but cross two stitches over one stitch instead of two over two, but, man, that’s a lot of cables to frog and redo.

To distract us from that dilemma, here’s a poem.

I tried to write like Ogden Nash
But very soon began to crash
Were I the Bard
I’d be in charge
Of spending words like cash