My sweater needs by-pass surgery.

I’m on sweater number 5 for the current Afghans for Afghans campaign – the goal is to to knit 500 sweaters for the coming winter for a girls school.  Five sweaters is 1% of the needed number – I’m finally a 1 percenter!!!

I started the sweater not terribly sure what I was going to do once I finished the body and sleeves up to the armhole. I did dye a bit of some nameless wool yarn I got years ago that I turned into some socks back when, and started with some simple colorwork on the body:

Stranded yolk EPS Sweater

and I did a little at the end of the sleeves as well to coordinate:

Stranded yolk EPS Sweater

After I finished the up-to-the-armhole parts, I decided to do an Elizabeth Zimmermann EPS sweater, with a circular yoke. It came out really well, which is good, because I winged the entire thing – and always magically had the right number of stitches for whatever stitch pattern I made up:

Stranded yolk EPS Sweater

But it is in need of surgery – fortunately within my own competency. See?

Stranded yolk EPS Sweater

I cannot explain why I thought a big-ol’ stripe in the middle of all of the lovely colorwork was a good idea. It might have been with another yoke pattern, but not this one. It must go. Yes, the sweater will be worn in Afghanistan, but there are standards to be maintained! Dear Reader, here’s what I’m going to do:

  1. With a circular needle, thread the circular into each stitch on the row below the stripe.
  2. Do the same for the row immediately above the stripe.
  3. Carefully pull out all the stitches of the first and last row of the stripe (save yarn for something else!).
  4. With the bottom of the sweater, knit the same number of rows as the stripe.
  5. Options here:
    1. Take a couple of long pieces of yarn and graft the two rows together
    2. Do a three-needle bind off with the two pieces.

I think I’ll have to test out each of the methods. The grafting will be difficult to make even, the three-needle bind-off will leave a ridge. At least the yarn is very dark and whatever the issues, they won’t be too noticeable.

The patient awaits – but I think I need to get a lot of sleep before doing this “major surgery”!



I was born 55 years ago today.  As I was pondering the meaning of this, and my gratefulness to my parents, and yearning for someone to remember this day with, I opened a card from good friend-of-my-mom-and-now-me Bonny (she of Vintage Knit), who thoughtfully remembered the day from her point of view, which was to be taking in my brother while my parents headed to the hospital.

It’s a day when I am remembering the sweetness of life, and the quickness of time passing. At 55, I am pretty sure I’ve passed the half-way point of my life on earth. I am now the last one of my immediate family, and plenty of resources to choose the next things in life. It is a turning moment, a time to glance around and get perspective.

Two days ago I headed to the De Young Museum to see The Girl with a Pearl Earring exhibit – along with an exhibit on Rembrandt and etchings. I confess, I found the etchings to be tedious, and sighed a bit of relief when I got to the paintings with their riot and swirls of color. The room with the eponymous painting in it — marvelous! I spoke with one of the docents later, and she remarked that with this painting, “you know that you are going to miss seeing this girl when you leave the painting.”

Afterwards, I wandered up to the top floor of the museum which has pretty amazing views of the city and environs.  And I got perspective:

De young Museum
De young Museum
De young Museum

De young Museum

Some of the most interesting things I saw were in fact reflections – the indirect way of seeing:
De young Museum

De young MuseumDe young MuseumDe young Museum

On this birth-day,

a day which I will never remember but defines who I am,

I can only see the reflection,

but that is enough,

more than enough.


Mindless Knitting

Just a quick photo – this is a new pattern called Gradiente from the folks at Manos – proof that simple does not necessarily mean dorky:

Gradients scarf

This will be a birthday present – it’s somewhere between a shawl and a scarf!


Emerson’s Notion of Success


Helen's Photos07 

My mother carried this quote from Emerson in her wallet for many years:

The definition of success—

To laugh much;

to win respect of intelligent persons

and the affections of children;

to earn the approbation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

to give one’s self;

to leave the world a little better,

whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition.;

to have played and laughed with enthusiasm,

and sung with exultation;

to know even one life has breathed easier

because you have lived

–this is to have succeeded.

  – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Gatsby is in the Air

You may have noticed that The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is everywhere right now, with the Baz Luhrman movie opening on May 10 in the United States, even though it was apparently shot (o, the heresy of it) in Sydney, Australia. Guess we’re a long way from Long Island!

I’ve been knitting sparkly things lately – a ton of these Scallop-Edge Necklaces in a variety of beads and yarns:

Easter necklacesEaster Necklaces 1b
Scallop-edge beaded necklacesPink scallop-edge necklace

And now, in honor of this great American story, I’m teaching a class with a similar pattern called the Gatsby Necklace by Shaina Bilow – with a lovely yarn called Stella. This is a sample I knit for the class:

Gatsby Necklace

Gatsby Necklace

Join me in knitting another one this week if you like from your home. The pattern is here on Ravelry ($5). This pattern uses up scraps of yarn and not very many beads – a quick knit for you or for a gift! Learn how now so you can use the pattern for holiday knitting. (Note: I am not getting a cut of anything here.]

And if you would like someone knowledgeable and crafty to lead you knowledgeably through this story, check out Heather Ordover’s Just the Benefits audio cast (scroll down the page) – and you too will know the substance behind the glitter!



cI’ve been knitting sweaters – but not for me. Afghans for Afghans wants to ship 500 sweaters to a girls school in Afghanistan – if I can make a tiny difference in the girls attending, that would be great news. So I’ve been knitting. One is a cardigan of my own design – to be honest, this is a design I like so much I want one for me, so I’m taking some good photos to make sure I can replicate it in my size, if I so desire. This one is in Cascade Eco-wool – a wooleny bulky two-ply that has a lot of loft. Those are Izzie’s paws – she can’t keep her paws off it! Project details here.
Afghans for afghans sweaters

I love the buttons too, they seem very English old-school, which will be lost on a child, but they will last – well made leather ones.

Afghans for afghans sweaters
I also knit a pullover cable sweater. It’s been more of an adventure in the knitting. First, I knit the back (sorry for the lousy photo):
Simple cable pullover

and realized it would be too large after blocking (although it is superwash yarn, so stay tuned for further developments). But I realized I could knit the front slightly smaller, and with a loose fit on a child, no big deal. I started one cable pattern, but it didn’t look right, so I pulled back several inches, and came up with this version, which I liked.

Afghans for afghans sweaters

The sleeves are plain, but with the neckline, I did something a little more special.  Over on Craftsy, Fiona Ellis has a free class on cabled knitted necklines – and she shows you how to carry a cable pattern into the neckline for what she calls a “couture” effect.  This is what I did, and I think it adds just a bit of specialness:

Afghans for afghans sweaters

Now as to size. I finally realized that this sweater was made out of superwash yarn, so I soaked it, then threw it in the dryer – it came out smaller (maybe a size 10 or so), which is a good middle size for the campaign going on.

The third sweater is a big old bulky sweater with ribbing – the yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky (merino wool, cashmere and acrylic) – both soft and indestructible! Plus, it was a score in a stash swap – thanks, knitters! I followed the Split-collar pullover pattern, except I realized that the split-neck would probably not be culturally in keeping with the conservative Afghan culture, and I wasn’t sure how warm it would be either. Instead, I knit a ribbed neckline that turns over for double warmth. It isn’t fancy, but the yarn and the bulk will hopefully be appreciated by the wearer.

Non-split neck pullover

Non-split neck pullover

One finishing tip for bulky sweaters – you can strip the plies of the yarn – in this case, I split the 4-ply into 2 2-plies, and used that for seaming with less bulk. In addition, for the side seams, I did the mattress stitch only 1/2 stitch in, instead of the usual one stitch – it came out beautifully with very little bulk. I did full seams at the shoulder because the weight of the sweater requires a good structure there.

And Izzie seems to approve of these.
Afghans for afghans sweaters
Afghans for afghans sweaters

I hope to knit one more sweater – it’ll be a smaller one in the leftover Eco-wool and other scraps. Interested in knitting a pair of mittens or socks or a sweater? Check out the campaign for the girls’ school, and join us on Ravelry for the sharing and ooohing and aaahing!