Tag Archives: Craft

Oh Elizabeth, how I do love you

“We call ’em Dickeys.  They go around the human neck in parky weather and keep it snug and secure.”  Zimmermann, Elizabeth (1989).  Knitting Around.  Pittsville, Wisconsin: Schoolhouse Press.

I will confess that I am a full-fledged Elizabeth Zimmerman geek.  I love her pithy directions and the thought of a knitting book whose text is as engaging as any piece of fiction.  She helped me to fall in love with garter stitch and the wonders of plain old wool.  I will knit any of her patterns given half an excuse, and everyone in my family has opened something from her books on one Christmas or another.

If I could write poetry, my first slim little volume would be an ode Elizabeth.

So hooray!  I have another excuse to knit one of her projects!  My wonderful mamaw, who is habitually/perpetually/consistently/without-the-risk-of-hyperbole ALWAYS cold, has requested some dickeys.

The yarn:

I almost exclusively knit with wool.  I’m usually quite obnoxious about it, but since Mamaw has requested cotton dickeys (this will be her summer set) and Mamaw is, well, my grandma, I went on a search for some cotton.  Elizabeth’s original is knit in fingering weight, but I wanted use a sport weight, because, well, while I really enjoy EZ’s patterns, the thought of knitting four dickeys in fingering weight cotton was less than exciting.  I decided on Knit Picks Comfy Sport (the one pictured above is Peony) and I’m very satisfied with it.  Of course, I can speak nothing to the long-term durability at this point, but it has a very nice drape and just the slightest bit of sheen.

The pattern:

In true Elizabeth fashion, her Dickey von Beetoven pattern can be summarized in one schematic illustration.  I’m sure this would be terribly frustrating for a beginner, but for a gal who has knit to the moon and back, a thumbnail sketch that encompasses the entire scope of the project is amazingly elegant.  It’s kind of like the beauty of a charted stitch pattern, only it’s then entire piece that’s been captured.  It’s knit flat in one piece, casting on for the height of the piece and working around, using short rows for shaping.  To account for the sport weight, I’ve decreased the row counts by 20%, but am leaving the stitch counts the same to allow for a slightly wider, shoulder-warming, sort of dickey.

I’ll be sure to post finished pics and hopefully some sort of picture that looks like this:

(My mamaw is AWESOMELY appreciative of handmade gifts.  This reaction is from opening dish cloths!)

The never-ending project

So my first world problem of the day…..The never-ending knitting project.  We’ve all had them.  You start with a fire that burns clean and pure.  You pour all your time into them and are psyched about your progress.  You proudly tote it about anytime there’s even the most remote chance you’ll have a spare three minutes to knit.  It sparkles.  It shines.  It is the awesomeness.

Then, well, something happens.  A new pattern shakes it’s sweet bum at you….A trip to the yarn store finds you fondly stroking another skein of yarn….You just look at the dang thing with the cold hard stare of an experienced, non-deluded-by-newness, crafter and think……Meh.

Not bad enough to rip out and make anew, but no longer the stuff of idle daydreams.

Such is this shawl:

Candle Flame Shawl by Dean Cranehttp://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/candle-flame-shawl-archived

Originally suggested in bulky, mine is a sport weight Alpaca of unknown origin knit on US size 6 circulars.

I bought this yarn at the lovely Sheep Street Fibers on a fiber outing with two girlfriends.  We had pretty much laid the shop to waste and were moving towards the cash register when I spotted this shawl hanging from a horizontal dowel suspended from the ceiling.

Now, you make think really?  A dowel rod?  A darn simple shawl in a basic, non-flashy yarn, draped over something from the hardware store sucked you in?  Dude, it really did.  (I’ve since decided that I am going to set up a crazy system of dowel rod display in my front room for all the knitted goods that I need to look at more than wear, but that’s insanity for another day.)  The shawl displayed was in camel alpaca and the buttery color, hand and drape were awesome.  Plus, bonus, the yarn for the project was less than $30.  SOLD.  The kind proprietor caked it for me and we were out the door.

I was almost done with my Christmas knitting, so I put the yarn in the to-do bucket and only occasionally took a moment to sniff it(I have a weird thing about wool-sniffing).  But then after Christmas….Hooray!!!!  I cast on!  You start at the point of the triangular shape, so by New Years I had a nice, hefty triangle swinging about from my needles.  I loved it.  It was great.  Once learned, the pattern repeat was pretty easy and the vertical repeat was just long enough to keep you wanting to finish one more.  The yarn was über soft.  I really do generally prefer what some would consider “scratchy” wool, so the alpaca was a fun change of pace, and with a shawl, I wasn’t at all worried about it’s tendency to stretch out during wearing.  All was good.

And then, the “meh” snuck in.  The bad thing about working a triangular shawl from the point up is that the rows just keep getting longer, and Longer, and LONGER,  AND FLIPPIN’ LONGER.  Now really, this is totally ridiculous as it’s only like a 700 yard shawl.  I’ve done 2400 hundred yard pieces with way less griping and grunting, but for some reason this one just has me dragging my feet.

Adding the accumulating angst, the yarn started having these weird splits where it would go from three plies down to one for about a quarter of an inch.  Normally, this sort of thing doesn’t bother me all that much, in fact it’s one of the things I sometimes roll my eyes about when other people have similar complaints, but it just keeps happening.  Since I didn’t cake the darn stuff, I had no idea about the splits so they just keep popping up and they’re all “Hey, I’m obnoxious….how are you going to deal with me?  Rip back to the beginning of the row?  Do yet another Russian join?”

I hate mouthy yarn.


And so, there it is.  My internal monologue looks something like this: “I will finish this project.  One row at a time is just fine.  If you finish two rows you can work on something else.  I know it looks like this ball of yarn is not getting any smaller, but the laws of physics dictate that it must be getting smaller.  Trust the laws of physics, Amy Beth.  Trust the laws of physics.”

The all important inaugural post

Ok, so clearly a blog that I’ve been percolating on, agonizing over how to start, should start on a random Monday morning while my daughter is watching Phineas and Ferb.  I tend to over think to the point of inaction, so I’m just going to go ahead and roll on up in this thing.

Here is where I think I’m supposed to do an introduction.  Bullets are clearly in order.

  • Knitting–I knit a lot.  Let’s just say that I went to my daughter’s naturey-type preschool class the other day and realized that I was wearing the following handmade items: cowl, fingerless mits, hat, and socks.  I really do generally try to dial it back for the muggles, but sometimes the convergence of knitted items is unavoidable.   (Please also note that I was wearing a quippy knitting t-shirt and working on a pair of socks during her class.)
  • Family–I like family a lot.  I regularly entertain fantasies of living off the grid so that family can be the primary driving forces of all our lives, undistracted by pesky electricity and flush toilets.  The other unknowing participants in this fantasy are my dear “husband”, my daughter Tova (just turned 5) and our lil’ schnoodle Annie (just turned 1).
  • Food–I like food a lot.  Have you seen my pic?  That’s not from McDonalds folks.  That is straight up homemade food.  I’ll try to keep the food threads to a minimum, but sometimes a gal just has to post a biscuit pic.
  • Spinning–I like spinning a lot.  Now, if you’re confused about the aforementioned fatness combined with the spinning bullet, let me clarify that I don’t mean that bicycle going nowhere kind of spinning, I mean the kind that results in yarn.  I only started spinning in January of 2012, and I still pretty much suck at it, but I’m hooked anyway.

Ok, so enough with the wordiness, let’s get to a flipping picture already.

Brigid Sock in Progress

Here it is.  My offering to the muse.  I’m designing/knitting a sock that I will post on ravelry as a free pattern.  I will of course post my progress, but in the interest of making these posts easily digestible chunks, I’ll hold off on my motivation until another time.