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Musted Root July 15, 2007

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.

Here it is, finally!


Pattern: Ostensibly Rusted Root. Actually, the only part of the pattern I followed by the numbers was the lace panel. Let’s just say it’s “in the spirit of Rusted Root.” It’s a top-down raglan, so it can, in fact, be made up as you go.

Yarn: KnitPicks Main Line in dusty lavender (75% pima cotton, 25% merino wool) – a very nice yarn, but not ideal for this project (read on…)

Needles: Yes. Ok, let me think, I know this…I think they were #5 circs w/#4 for the ribbing, unless they were #6/#4. Quite possibly #6.

Time to knit (alongside everything else): Approx 4 mos. I’m easily distracted.


Modifications: Ok, here we go:

1) I deepened the neckline a little, meaning I redistributed the cast-on stitches so that there were more on the shoulders and fewer on the front and back (I don’t think I cast on more st. than were called for, but can’t be sure). I actually wanted a much deeper neckline, but was afraid that would throw off the raglan sleeves badly.

2) I omitted the puffs on the sleeves. I just don’t dig puffs.

3) Therefore I obviously did not follow the pattern at all for sleeve increases, but just kept making the raglan increases until it fit – which turned out to be (unsurprisingly) some rows after the pattern suggested it would be for my bust size (I’m a little chunky in the upper arm).

4) The pattern has you knitting straight for 3″ down from the armpits before starting decreases. That is so not where my boobs are. I started decreases almost right away.

5) I felt like there wasn’t enough shaping, so I did double decreases on each side (k2tog, sm, ssk – I don’t know why, but I always have to do k2tog when the pattern says ssk and vice versa for it to come out looking right) instead of just one decrease on each side.

6) There are only decreases in the pattern. Again, I’m not shaped that way. So I did several double increases after the waist.

7) From the get-go I envisioned the sleeves as elbow-length or 3/4-length. I don’t know why. But that’s what I had to have and so that’s what I made. (Which means I had to calculate the sleeve decreases myself -yet another thing to slow me down, though it was easy.)


It’s a shame, actually, that I couldn’t follow that pattern as written, because it was so well-written! Everything was completely spelled out – just not for a result that worked for me.

After all that, it fits quite well, thank goodness. It doesn’t crumple at the back, as the top photo might suggest. But there is some wrinkly-bunchy business around the armhole/bust area, so I suppose that would have been a job for short rows. I don’t know how to do bust short rows yet. Next time.


But why “musted” root, you ask? And why on earth did a month elapse between weaving in the last end and showing the thing off? That’s a sad and irritating tale of blocking, fabric density, humidity and ultimately, perhaps, dry cleaning.


Here it is, perfectly blocked out on a sheet of styrofoam back in mid-June. I washed it by hand, of course, squeezed it out in a rolled towel, of course, after which it was still quite wet, of course.

Now, here’s the thing: the pattern is written for Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece at a gauge of 20 st/4″; Main Line is more comfortably knit at 16-18 st/4″. But I forced the issue and knitted it up into a dense fabric at 20 st./4″. It’s ironic that I was so stubborn on that point since I didn’t end up following any of the stitch counts anyway. Furthermore, the yarn is of course mostly cotton – we all know cotton takes longer to dry than most other fibers, esp. if dense.

We were having a stretch of exceedingly dry weather when I blocked this, so these considerations did not cross my mind. I laid it out in our (dry) basement for a while, and as it was taking too long to dry (see density, cotton, above), laid it out on the back porch before going to work for a few hours. Just in time for a sudden, torrential downpour. When I came home, the sweater was, of course, sodden.

It took several more days to dry, in a week of constant summer storms as wet as the previous one had been dry, by which time, happy colonies of mildew had settled in and the thing reeked. So, on the advice of craftster folks, I soaked it in a vinegar solution, washed it in puppy shampoo, squeezed it out in a towel and laid it out to dry again. Three days later, it still smelled of mildew.

So I soaked it in a much stronger vinegar solution for much longer, washed it again, squeezed it again, laid it out again, and NOW it smells faintly of vinegar and not of mildew. I’ve decided I can live with that.

You can see, then, calculating not only the washing and drying days above, but also the periods of demoralization and avoidance between washings, why it took me so long. There is a very real possibility that this sweater will be dry cleaned only from this day forth.


Holiday Gift Reveals, First Wave December 28, 2009

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.

I knitted a lot for the holidays this year, much more than usual.   But have been keeping it under my hat, of course.  (Or rather, hidden on ravelry.)

Here are three things that went out in the mail before Christmas.

For my advisor:

Yarn: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dyed

Inasmuch as I used any pattern at all, it was Breean Elyse’s Herringbone Neckwarmer [rav link].  I took the stitch pattern and the construction (such as it is) from this pattern, but didn’t bother with any of the numbers.

Outcome: Soft, very very soft.  The colors did pool, but I’m pretending I meant for that to happen.  (It’s a “design feature.”)

I think this is the first thing I’ve knitted for him (though he’s been my advisor for going on a decade now).  I hope he understands that I don’t knit instead of writing.  ‘Cuz I don’t, really I don’t.  Just finished a chapter, in fact!

And for my aunt and uncle in Florida, more variations on my Grandma’s slippers pattern [rav link].

For my uncle:

Yarn: Knit Picks Main Line (leftover from Rusted Root) (I am so sad this yarn is discontinued)

Modifications: Cables, I thought.  Why not cables?  Haven’t tried that yet!

When I got to the end of the garter stitch section, I cast on an additional 8 stitches on the top of the foot as I joined it in the round, then improvised a pretty standard, 6-stitch braided cable with an extra purl stitch on either side, going up the top of the foot as I knitted towards the toe.

I also did a 2 x 2 instead of a 1 x 1 rib, and instead of an eyelet border around the ankle, had enough yarn to knit a 1 x 1 ribbed cuff about 2″ high, which I then folded over and sewed closed around a piece of elastic.

I think they look a bit more masculine this way.  And I want a pair myself.

For my aunt:

I used up a whole lot of miscellaneous bits of yarn, as you can see, all worsted and more or less machine washable, and all very soft (Valley Yarns Goshen, Knit Picks Shine and Comfy, Cascade 220 Superwash).

For these, aside from going stripe-happy (which is not exactly an innovation), I tried something new with the elastic.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the way my Grandma did the cuffs – eyelets threaded with a piece of elastic.  The thick cuff I used above was a success, but in this case, I didn’t have enough yarn for that.  And I also didn’t have the right width of elastic.

So I braided the elastic:

Pretty, comfortable, and functional.  Though I still did a sloppy job of sewing it together.

The truth is, I don’t think my aunt and uncle actually need any more slippers.  At all.  And yet I keep knitting them more.  Next year, I really must try something different.

Meanwhile, I don’t have a pair of these slippers myself!  A pair for me is finally in the works.

WIPpery frippery May 22, 2008

Posted by merp in Knitting, Pisco!.

My lace cardigan has been nearly done for over a month now:

[click for larger image]

I knitted all but the sleeves on our trip to Southeast Asia and blocked it out in mid-April. And there it still sits. Not that it’s been warm enough to wear yet anyway. I’m still wearing my rusted root this week – with a jacket!

I’ve been working more steadily on my gathered pullover:

That has indeed been a quick knit. I truly, deeply hope that it’s too warm to wear it by the time I finish it. I mean, really – it’s Memorial Day weekend! (But in any case, don’t worry, it won’t show my belly in the end and I won’t look like I’m three.)

And there’s a sock:

Sock laments to come, in a future post.

[WIP = Works In Progress, for you of little jargon.]

Red, blue and donuts July 4, 2007

Posted by merp in Food, Knitting.

Still no Rusted Root – it’s drying. Meanwhile, my next sweater project: Sahara.


So, so easy, just like everyone’s said. I’m loving the yarn, too: Valley Yarns Goshen in periwinkle.

And because the last picture of Clementine was so crappy, here’s a better one. This is probably about as long as the first half needs to be. Then a second half (but the thrill is gone, so could be months), and finally the very much non-brainless part of the project: grafting the two halves together. The yarn is Valley Yarns Deerfield in burgundy – the color in the June 29 picture is closer.


And, finally, donuts.


I made these this morning with the Donut Factory donut maker I bought at a yard sale last year. The Donut Factory donut maker I will be selling at our yard sale this weekend, God willing. I have fond memories of the thing from childhood, but that’s because I didn’t have to make them. Now I understand – deeply – why my mom just didn’t think donut Sundays were all that fun.

The Dazey Donut Factory was a thing of the ’70s – at least, that’s when it came into our home. An appliance in the waffle iron family, it has two donut-shaped, teflon-lined molds, into which you pour the batter. You close the lid, pour just a 1/2 tsp of oil into 2 wells in the top, and then the oil seeps down through little holes to “fry” the donut (hence, much healthier than real donuts – but that’s not saying much – we had gazpacho for supper to counterbalance). It makes a tasty donut (cakey, but fluffier than the cake donuts you get at the bakery).

But the donuts fall apart if your batter isn’t right (trick: add more flour to the chocolate donut recipe, and in all cases beat the batter a lot to get it good and gluteny) and because there’s no timer on the machine, it’s your best guess when their done. The extra-dark above is, sadly, not dark chocolate, but extra carbon crunch. It seems to take something like 10-15 minutes for each pair of donuts.

That adds up to a long time. I mowed the lawn and did my laundry while making these donuts.

Those of you who have ended up here by Googling “Dazey Donut Factory” probably just want the recipes. They can be found here or here. Make a batch to say you did, then sell the thing at your next yard sale.

The recipes I used, btw, are the same ones we always, always had in my family: one recipe of chocolate and one recipe of peanut butter, yinned and yanged together in the donut maker. That, of course, is the reason to make them yourself , because where else are you going to get swirly-stripey chocolate peanut butter donuts?

Shawlette and Pie June 29, 2007

Posted by merp in Food, Knitting, Life.

Happy birthday to me!

It was a low-key one this year, an unremarkable number. But there was Chocolate Mousse Pie!


Courtesy of Aaron, and my Grandma’s classic recipe (which I’m happy to share upon request). I am loving this pie. Not only is it comfort food from my childhood (many past birthdays), it’s also fantastically delicious. Aaron did it perfectly on his first try.


I have, in fact, finished Rusted Root, pretty much when I said I would in my last post, and am very happy with it! But due to an unfortunate blocking incident involving a sudden downpour, I am not yet ready to model and share.

Meanwhile, the Clementine Shawlette from IK Spring 2007 for your viewing pleasure.  This turns out to be quite a brainless knit: