one alpaca, two alpacas

The real fiber news today is the trip to Brookfarm Alpacas in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County. My cousin lives in nearby Santa Rosa, so we went out for lunch to a lovely Indian/Nepalese restaurant in Jack London Village (not to be confused with Jack London Square in Oakland, CA), and then went up to see the Alpacas who are very cute:

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This is Libby, who was less shy than her mates:

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And this guy was a comic:

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There were fleeces of all colors (natural) and roving, as well as yarn from the national Alpaca co-op, and locally produced fiber.

I bought yarn from Vicki of Alpaca Shire, which is local fiber spun in southern California, and then she kool aid dyed it yellow and aqua:

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On the knitting for others front, here’s the update: This sweater, I am happy to say, is completely finished:

Youth Sweater IIm

and was a fun knit. I stumbled into using good color theory on the sweater, and I like the outcome.

The other sweater, the Ariann, had yet one more trial. At Knit Night, as I thought I was finishing the collar, Lisa helpfully pointed out that the bands were unfinished. With a sinking heart, I looked at the pattern, and yes, I was supposed to have included the button-band stitches in the collar. So, another frogged piece (but this time, fortunately it is garter stitch!), and I reknit it, sewed the small seams under the arms, wove in the ends, soaked it, spun it in the washing machine, and now it is blocking. Only buttons to sew on!

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a less selfless knitter

I love knitting, and I love knitting sweaters. But I am at a weary point. Taking stock, I see why. I’ve knit two sweaters for Afghans for Afghans — a top-down raglan Cardigan for the Ravelympics, and a bottom-up Elizabeth Zimmermann percentage sweater. Plus two pairs of socks and a pair of mittens.

I am almost done with the much-frogged Ariann Sweater for my little cousin — only the collar to finish in garter stitch, weaving in ends, sewing on buttons and blocking. I’m doing another percentage sweater for A4A and almost at the point where you do some short rows at the neck before the neck ribbing. That’s two sweaters more than 90 percent done.

And then I realized: I am tired of knitting for others. I haven’t knit for myself since (quickly checking Ravelry) July 1st (not counting the pair of mittens I knit, since it hasn’t been cold enough to wear them). I am weary of all this “big project” knitting” as well. Next-up: a couple of smaller, selfish projects.

I think I’ll get the sweaters done soon — I’d like to, and I need to finish one of them by the middle of October to mail.

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Knitting Time-Out

The progress on the wonderful Ariann — nada…oh yes, those who were at the Drinks Night on Saturday saw me further ahead than I had been. I was feeling pretty good there, and I was happily optimistic about finishing the sweater this week.

Then I had a teensy-wheensy problem with the next set of decreases. Exact same dyslexia problem of reading the pattern wrong, but this time I figured out the problem with just 1 1/2 inches knit. Frogged it, and knit back. I went further on to the neckline decreases, and noticed a small problem — the stitches on each side of the front were off. I counted, not one, two or three stitches off — seven stitches off. Yep, more than an inch.

With dread in my heart, I looked further down, and realized that the fronts were all off. The decreases in the lace pattern, which should match, did not match at all. And so it repeated, like the plagues that that long ago Egyptian Pharaoh had to endure — a river of frogs all the way back to the armholes.

I am putting the sweater in time-out. Clearly this is not working the way that I need it to. I need to get all OCD and count all the stitches where the sweater is now and be sure that I count every other @#$#@ row. But this is not the time.

In better news, I finished the socks I’ve been working for for Afghans for Afghans:

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And if you have any knitting time at all the youth campaign is in need of your knitting, if you can do something by the middle of October!

Me, I started a new sweater for this project, and it is a relief to be working in the Elizabeth Zimmermann world:

Youth Sweater II

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Denial is a river full of frogs

Today was one of those days when you remember that even an experienced knitter can mess up big time. In the past couple of years, I’ve knit a lot of things, and mostly they’ve gone well. But not this week.

I’m knitting the Ariann cardigan for my little cousin Rachel, and I had finished the body (knit in one piece) up to the armhole, the sleeves to the same point. I joined the sleeves and body and began knitting the yoke. The decreases looked a bit odd (not as much like the pattern as I thought they should), but this is my first time knitting this pattern, so I went along with it. Knitting denial had set in. I reached the point where the decreases for the neckline decreases begin.

Then in looking at the pattern, I realize that the pattern seems to indicate a lot of rows of decreases yet to come, with hardly any more rows in which to accomplish them. Dang pattern!!! But doubt creeps in. I’d found the knit-a-long thread on Ravelry and no errata were mentioned, and the designer is even there. The pattern is a pdf download that can be corrected quickly and easily.

With a bit of dread in my knitter’s heart, I go back to the pattern, and realize that doing decreases “every RS row 6 times” is not the same as decreasing “every 6 rows 6 times.”

And yes, those decreases started 7 inches back, just about to where those sleeves and body got connected. All the knitting I’d done during the Republican convention (yep, I’m blaming this on the RNC, why not?) had to be ripped out and done over. This is the biggest knitting mistake I’ve made in a couple of years.

So, with denial over, I ripped it out and am about 1/2 back up the yoke. Yes, it looks better and more like the pattern.

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Making Lemonade

I made this lovely multidirectional scarf in the time when I was trying to come to terms with my brother’s death: I love the pattern and the yarn (Denali sock yarn by Pagewood Farms — by the lovely Robin Page):

Multidirectional scarf detail

But I had yarn leftover, and yarn this good should not be left alone. So, since it was sock yarn, I sensibly started a toe of a sock:

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I love this toe. It’s a variation of a sock recipe by Merike Saarnit, who has not published it to my knowledge. My variation incorporates Judy’s magic cast-on for a completely invisible toe.

On the side of the sock, you can just bareley see that cute little cable along the side? I wanted to have that as a fun small zing for the sock. But as I knit, I soon began to realize that my plans for two socks out of the leftover yarn was not going to happen.

I took a look again at that toe. A toe is another name for the top of the mitten, right? And hands are smaller than feet, so I figured, hey, I can do this. And then I realized having a set of a scarf and mittens makes a lot more sense than a scarf and socks! I’m onto mittens, great idea.

Well, I still wasn’t all that sure that I had enough sock yarn, so I stopped the first mitten at the end of the hand, and then did the other hand, and realized that I was right, I didn’t have enough yarn for the cuffs. I pulled out some nice Opal wool yarn and finished the cuffs. Here’s one of the mittens.

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But as I was playing around with the cuffs, I realized that my method of doing the thumbs (based on Kate Atherley’s mitten recipe on Knitty), leads to having the thumb in the line of the mitten. What would happen if you decided that you wanted to have that cute little cable running down the front of the mitten so everyone, including the wearer, could see them? What would that look like? Well, if you put the “left hand” mitten on your right hand, the mitten looks like this:

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And it totally, totally works like a mitten. Now this is a small, probably already-discovered discovery. An unvention, to use an Elizabeth Zimmermann term. But I have to tell you, it was such a lovely discovery, and I felt as though I was channeling Cat Bordhi as I did it.

And I really like having a pair of mittens to go with my lovely scarf!

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