knit project

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.



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.


*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.


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?


“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.


*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-|

How a Giant Ball of Yarn Came Out of a Sailing Class

The first thing that happened is that I read a post on the Classic Elite blog about making a magic ball of yarn.

The idea is to make your own variegated yarn by tying different yarns together. They suggest that you get a bunch of friends together who bring their yarn leftovers and odd balls—they called it a “magic ball party”—and swap out yarns.

Introverts don’t need parties or believe in magic, but I liked the idea.

The second thing that happened is that I had bunches of lengths of yarn from the zillion projects I’ve knit over the past few months. I snip them off, then pile them on the table next to my knitting loveseat with the intention of walking them over to my kitchen trash can at some point.*

The third thing that happened is that I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. I’m not very good at sailing, so we’ll skip over that part.

After all the talk of sheets and lines, jibs and jibes, and tacks and booms, we learned how to tie a few knots—a cleat knot, a figure eight, a bowline, and a square knot. I was especially interested in the last one because you can join two balls of yarn using a square knot.

Well, most people can join two balls of yarn that way. I tried a few times, but could never get the hang of it, so I usually do a spit splice.

After the class, though, I’m a master square knot tyer (tie-er?).

And 1+2+3=

200g of yarn.

After crossing and re-crossing my left and right brains while designing my Icelandic sweater, I needed something mindless to knit, so I picked up some US9 needles, cast on 50 stitches, and started the most mindless of all knitting: a garter stitch scarf.

I hope this looks better when I’m finished.

I’ll have to leave the ends poking out for the simple reason that there’s no way I’m going to weave them all in.

*See? Sometimes good things come from procrastination.

To Ponder: We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life. |-Joshua Glenn Clark-|

Finito: Blackberry Citron Shawlette

Last week, I told you about casting on for a shawl. It’s the Citron shawlette, a free non-lace pattern on Knitty.

After many hours and many episodes of CSI, it’s done.

You do a garter tab cast-on (new to me), that starts with three stitches and increases to nine right away.

About one-third done.

In each section there are plain rows followed by an increase row, then more plain rows, then another increase row, then a brutal increase row, then plain rows, then a brutal decrease row, then more plain rows. Then you start all over with a new section that’s got umpteen more stitches in it.

Fresh off the needles.

Until you have 540 stitches that you knit 11 times to create the bottom ruffle. I didn’t track my time on this until the end when I was sure that each row of the ruffle took an hour to knit, but really took “only” 16 minutes. Sheesh.

After blocking.

The thing isn’t designed to be all that big, and some Ravellers (much hardier than I), added more sections, and therefore more stitches, to make it bigger. I don’t like to do math, but I do like to exaggerate, so they probably eventually had 1,000 stitches on the needles for the ruffle (times 11).

Overlit selfie.

I have other things to do, so I bound off as soon as the pattern said I could.

I got to wear my little Blackberry Citron for about five minutes before my friend Angela offered me $1,000 for it.

To Ponder: The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it. |-David W. Orr-|

Finito: Inspira Cowl

Last week, I posted about my Inspira Cowl in progress. After 13 hours of pure knitting pleasure, we can stick a fork in it.

That’s a great book I’m holding in my hands. :-)

It’s called a cowl, but it’s more like a capelet, and it’s quite warm. I wore it to volunteer at the library last week, and three patrons who said they were knitters loved it—one used the word “stunning”—and wanted to know every little detail.

I imagine my little town will become very colorful very soon.

The yarn does all the work.

My brother took these pictures on Christmas Day. Late in the day because we had stayed up until 4:30 that morning playing Galaga and then Jenga Gigante* with his wife. I lost every game, both electronic and analog.

But I can knit like a boss.

*His wife loves the game Jenga, and last year he made a life-sized Jenga game for her for Christmas. The wooden blocks are the size of bricks, and you play it on the floor. You also have to say Jenga Gigante at the volume and in the way a World Cup announcer says Gooooooooooooal!

To Ponder: Making a decision usually means taking one of two roads. One is doing the right thing. To take the other road, you have to sit back and spin a story around the decision or action you are taking. If you find yourself thinking up an elaborate justification for what you are doing, you are not doing the right thing. |-Wayne Sales-|

Knit WIP: Inspira Cowl

Yes, I should be working on The Sweater.

Yes, I should be knitting inventory to sell at the farmer’s market.

Yes, I should be creating new designs to self-publish or submit to magazines.

Yes, I should be getting my yarn stash under control.

But all of those shoulds are boring and they would take time away from my new obsession: binge-watching CSI and knitting an Inspira Cowl.

Truly one of a kind.

I favorited this free pattern on Ravelry a while back, but didn’t have the right yarn for it. Given the size of my stash, you might think I was pulling your leg, but this pattern calls for—and needs—a gradient yarn, and I tend to favor solid colors.

I love multi-colored yarns in the skein, but I they never live up to their promise when knitted, so I just stay away from them.

And then had a serious sale on the very yarn Inspira calls for—Lion Brand Amazing—and I spent an entire morning looking at projects on Ravelry, assessing and comparing the various color combinations other knitters had used, adding skeins to my cart until I had enough to get free shipping and knit a few Inspiras.

For my first cowl, I chose the Mesa and Arcadia colorways.

They look more complementary in person.

The whole thing is staggered bands of corrugated ribbing, knitting two stitches with one color and purling two with the other. The cool thing about this cowl, and what keeps you knitting for, say, five consecutive hours on a Friday night, is watching the color changes and seeing how they work together in each band.

And you can’t judge the whole by the parts, or I would have frogged it after that rasta band showed up.

You just have to keep on knitting, which helps you deal with all the story lines they never tie up on CSI.

To Ponder: We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. |-Charles Kingsley-|


Adios #23 Sleeveless Top

After three false starts and 35 hours of working round after round after ever-lovin’ round of stockinette on the sleeveless top that led me to discover a wine glass that holds an entire bottle of Pinot Noir—the top that was about 90% done and around which I had created an entire outfit to wear to my volunteer shift at the library—it took only nine minutes to frog the whole thing straight onto my ball winder.

Like it never existed.

Here’s what I would like to say happened: I’m on a strict yarn diet and cannot bring any more yarn into my house for any reason (not even if WEBS has a two-month-long anniversary sale, which they did, and I resisted, but just barely), but I’m working on a new design that requires yarn I don’t have in my stash (I know, I can’t believe it either), so I made the sacrifice and reclaimed the yarn so I wouldn’t have to buy more.

Here’s what really happened: With 1/4 of the yoke to go, I ran out of yarn.

I didn’t even take a picture of how far I’d gotten, because why take a picture of something that’s 90% finished on Thursday when I can take a picture of it 100% finished on Friday?

I also expunged the project record from Ravelry. There’s a “Frogged” status you can use, but what’s the point? As a mocking reminder of my inability to calculate yardage?

For me, if it’s not a WIP or an FO, it’s gone.


p.s. Not only do I still listen to CDs, I have a cassette player.

p.p.s. I love that one of the South African national news sites has a section devoted to Horses.


Finito: Hat for a Trip to Iceland

No, no, not for me. I teach yoga for a living, which is incompatible with discretionary funds. Plus, I don’t like to fly, and it’s my understanding that you can’t get to Iceland by motor coach.

One of my yoga students, Q we’ll call her, is traveling to Iceland in July and she asked me to knit her a warm hat with earflaps. I figured she would want it to be yellow because that’s one of her favorite colors (or so I assume from the predominance of yellow t-shirts she wears to class).

Yellow looks great on Q, but when I wear it, anyone brave enough to make eye contact with me asks if they should call an ambulance. Ergo, I have very little yellow yarn in my stash, so I was happy when she asked for a black hat. (I love black.) But then not so happy, and fairly surprised, when my Ravelry stash records showed that I have even less black yarn in my stash than I do yellow.

My choice of yarn colors warrants its own post that will, of course, include a rhyming ode to brown.

I don’t like to knit earflap hats for no other reason than they require casting on twice, turning two pieces into three by casting on twice more, and weaving in more than two ends. (It’s like a cardigan with all those pieces.) But I like Q, and she deserves my best.

After I dragged my feet for a couple of weeks (doing my best didn’t mean I wouldn’t procrastinate), I remembered that I’ve been wanting to make Elizabeth Zimmermann‘s Maltese Fisherman’s Hat since forever, but never did because, hola, it’s an earflap hat. But now I finally had a good reason to.

The pattern calls for bulky yarn—well, it doesn’t actually call for it because EZ rarely told you what yarn weight to use (or needle size for that matter), only the gauge you should get—which meant that the hat would knit up fast despite the multiple pieces. I have some bulky black yarn, but it was propping open the door to Narnia in my stash closet, so I used some worsted weight that was easy to get to. (No, you can’t substitute worsted for bulky, but held double, it’s close enough.)

The yarn I used is my beloved Bernat Lana, a 100% merino wool that is so soft and so saturated and so lovely to work with and to wear that it has, of course, been discontinued. I bought it years ago from online closeout seller Smiley’s Yarns, and had I known how much I was going to love it, I would have bought every skein they had for sale.

The hat has a pointy crown, which I didn’t like and didn’t think Q would either (and doubt even Maltese fishermen are crazy about), but it would be easy to de-pixiefy.

Points are for debates, not hats.

I cast on and started reading the pattern*, realized that EZ uses short rows to shape the earflaps in a single piece, once again felt in awe of her mad knitting skillz, congratulated myself on my luck foresight in choosing this now easy hat pattern, changed the spread and rate of the crown decreases to produce a rounded crown, and wove in two ends. Four hours later**, I had this:

The last of the Lana, bound for Iceland.

I blocked it*** overnight, then presented it to Q in class the next day as an early birthday present. She loved it.

*Never do this. Always read the pattern all the way through before casting on.

**After I had to rip back because my gauge was off and the brim was too shallow, but it would have been a four-hour knit had that not happened.

***Always do this. Blocking your handknits will get you into heaven.