Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gracie's Shawl

Myrna Stahman's Gracie shawl is coming along. Since this is my first Faeroe's type shawl, I had to take it off the needles and dry-block it a bit to measure the length of the shawl. It's starting to look good. The yarn is coned Brown Sheep Merino, fingering weight, in a natural color. I have a way to go since the length is only 19 ins. as of the time of the pic. But it's a pleasant knit; the pattern isn't too challenging, and the yarn feels good in my hands. The Knit Picks Option needles aren't shabby either.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Regular knitting interrupted...

...for three pairs of socks for . They sent out an urgent appeal for socks for children in Afghanistan. The organization is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and garments to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan. If you are reading this and haven't heard of them pop over to their website for a look. Unlike us folks in the U.S. who like things to be wash and wear, they actually want items made of real, untreated wool. What a joy. The socks are knit from one of my mystery yarns. A friend of my daughter gifted it to us. It came out of her mother's basement. The yarn is Navajo plied, but looks too even to be homespun. However, the colors appear to be a natural brown and grey. It's wonderfully soft and also felts like magic. I should know, I made my first felted bag from it.
They were a quick knit since it was worsted weight yarn, and the pattern called for a short-row heel, a first for me. I generally like the socks I wear to have regular heel flaps.
Now back to regular programming, i.e. finishing the Gracie Shawl by Stahman. It's definitely knitting weather here in Western Michigan. It's been cold, and there appears to be a snow storm coming in from Lake Michigan. Brrr.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's cold out there...

It's cold outside, so I decided to make a quick in-between project: "The Endless Seamless One-surfaced, One-edged Shawl-Cap-Muff" also known as a Moebius Scarf from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Around. The yarn is Shetland, hand spun into chunky weight and the colors are natural. I had exactly enough yarn of the two colors to make it the recommended 60 inches long, with a few yards of yarn left over. The I-cord is "built in," i.e. knitted at the same time as the scarf, since I had no idea how much yarn to save to make a separate, one-color I-cord. Besides the other way is so convenient. It's finished, it's warm, and I hope my daughter will enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A bit of humor

I found this cartoon on the website . The caption is "Do you believe in reincarnation?", or more literally translated "Do you believe in rebirth?"

This site could make you lose all reasoning. Those who have sworn off buying yarn in 2007 may want to wait before looking at this site. The kits they have for color work knitting are absolutely delicious. Of course, the prices go with the being "wonderful." What interested me most, however, were the classes they were offering. Only one beginners class and it didn't include a knitted scarf, but much more complex things. I think, they figure you already know how to hold two knitting needles and yarn. Since I got off before exploring the whole site, I have to go back sometime and look at the knitting books they carry. But, I just didn't trust myself any longer at exploring this site.

Trains and Home

The railroad tracks are less than a half a mile down the road from us. Today, as I was driving to the dentist, the train was once again stopped just on the other side of the crossing. Two railroad workers were walking toward the engine. I decided a random act of kindness was in order and let them cross over before crossing with the car. All of a sudden memories started flooding back from when I was a small kid in postwar (WWII) Germany.

The railroad (besides my uncle's semi) was the primary transportation for us. In order to get to my mother's folks, we got on the train early in the morning while it was still dark, rode a while and then the train would stop in the middle of nowhere. We would get off the train, walk for a while, suitcase in hand, and when the railroad tracks started up again, got on another train, and the process was repeated until we arrived at our destination. You see the tracks had been bombed and not yet repaired. To a child, it was an adventure, to my mother, I would assume, a tremendous headache. Against my mother's advice, I would stick my head out the train window, trying to catch the wind. Sometimes with the wind came a bit of soot since in those days, the train's power came from coal. If the bit of soot got caught in my eye, then, of course, I would run crying to mother who would remind me of her warning not to stick my head out. But catching the wind and getting ever closer to my aunts, uncles, and cousins was more important.

Another important chapter in my life and connection to trains was my cousin being smuggled from the French Zone to the American Zone on a railroad engine. He was a young man when he was forced to enlist and still a young man when he was taken prisoner of war in France and eventually escaped with another fellow from Berlin, making his way back to Germany Unfortunately, my mother and I lived in the French Zone. Unbeknown to us there was an "underground railroad" that smuggled our men from one zone to another; i.e. if the French caught you, they would transport you to the American Zone and visa versa. Luckily my cousin and my mother's family, except for the two of us, all lived in the American Zone.

I remember the fear when one night someone knocked on our window. Usually this was not good news, but this time it was a villager who wanted to know if my mother had a nephew named Rolf. Knowing that we lived in the area, after escaping from a French Prisoner's of War Camp, my cousin and his buddy had made their way to our village and knocked on the door of a house with lights on. Fortuitously, they were only a few houses away from where we lived. When the two finally arrived at our place, the fear became even more palpable since the neighbor had seen them. My mother ever fearful of being betrayed was extremely anxious, but still took Rolf and his buddy in. But she should not have feared, for soon the neighbor knocked on our door, bringing food and telling us that the two could hide out in his daughter's bed room, for my mother and I lived in one giant room which served as kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Bread and other precious food magically appeared each night between our window and the shutters until mother was told that transportation to the American Zone had been arranged for the boys. Overcoats were provided and big floppy hats to hide their shaven heads were provided and once again in the middle of the night, we were awakened and my cousin Rolf and his buddy were taken to the train station. There they were made very temporary railroad workers and hidden on the engine. The train stopped once it arrived at the Rhein river, the two were then disguised as construction workers working on one of the bridges being built across the Rhein and thus crossed over to the American Zone. From their my cousin made it to his home in the Black Forest and his buddy was on his way to Berlin. We never heard again from Rolf's buddy.

As the times became safer and the railroad tracks were fixed and I was a little older, my mother would put me on the train, and I would make my own way to my aunts, uncles and cousins during summer vacations. The window seats were still important to me for catching the wind and thus the knowledge that I was going home to my beloved Black Forest.
By the way the middle house in the photo was "home." My mother's family owned a "Konditorei", a restaurant where pastries and cakes were king.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gansey Saga Part III

I must be a tinkerer at heart. Liz Lovick of , the Gansey workshop leader, suggested in her instructions to crochet together the two small squares for the pin cushion. there was only one snag someone on the list didn't know how to crochet. So the suggestion was made that the two squares could also be sewn together or joined with the blanket stitch. Well, not only did I have to try all three finishes, I decided to try three different yarns to see how the yarns handled the stitch definition. All were hand spun by my daughter. (I am a total failure when it comes to spinning; too many body parts doing different things at the same time.) The left front cushion is knitted from Finn and the edging is the blanket stitch. The back one is knit from either Blue-faced or Border Leicester with the edging being crocheted. The right front pincushion is made of hand spun commercial roving with the sides sewn together and then turned right side out. All cushions are stuffed with waste roving. My personal preference is the blanket stitch. In my opinion, the Leicester and the Finn appear to have the best stitch definition. Now what to do with four pin cushions?

And on to finishing the edging of a shawl, so that I can start my Dale of Norway Knit-Along and the Gansey vest. I suppose I better start rummaging through my stash to see if I have enough yarn for a Gansey. "Knit on!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I am loved!

Gansey Saga continued...

The front of the first pillow is done. I used Telemark from Knit Picks. However, I ran out of yarn while knitting the back and had to order more. The original pattern used 100 grams of 5 ply Frangipani, a traditional Gansey yarn. I've got to bite the bullet and order some. The gauge was the same with the Telemark, but obviously one uses more of the Telemark than the Frangipani. I like the feeling of the Telemark and stitch definition is excellent, and, most importantly, it doesn't itch. The only drawback with the Telemark is that it has a slight tendency to split. The symmetry of the Gansey patterns are to my liking and fill my need for order. (Must be the German in me.) So now I am impatiently waiting for the rest of the yarn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Gansey, Guernsey, we all love it whatever the spelling

I belong to the EZasPI yahoo group and Elizabeth Lovick from is graciously putting on a Gansey Workshop, free of charge. Wow! I have finished my first lesson that of knitting a swatch to see if the yarn selected was providing the stitch definition needed. Being frugal (well let's face it cheap is a better word), I decided to use yarn I already had before embarking on buying one of the recommended yarns. I had a ball of TOVE, a SandnesGarn, from Norway. It worked well, and I made the recommended gauge with 3mm needles. Even I could see the anchor from six feet away, as Liz suggested. I think now I am ready to get a cone of Frangipani as Liz suggested. The second project, a pin cushion, is also finished. What a neat little project. If I didn't have two shawls to finish, I would be knitting pin cushions for a while. Again it's knit with the TOVE yarn. The third project are cushion covers. I haven't decided yet whether to use the TOVE, try another stash yarn, try the Telemark from Knit Picks or order the Frangipani. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I better make up my mind real soon because I was foolish enough to also sign up for a Dale of Norway Knit-Along. It's a good thing I am retired; I'd have a real hard time going to work. "Knit on!" Renate

Friday, January 5, 2007

A personal review of DGB sock yarn

These socks were made from DGB Confetti super wash yarn which I found in the half-off bin at a "LYS." I have some issues with this yarn. After having the first sock nearly finished, I had to do the froggie dance on a lily pad because the sock didn't quite fit. Now that wasn't the yarn's fault, but after unraveling the yarn, it was much more kinked than a yarn like Opal or Froehlich. It was hard to re-knit the sock without washing the yarn first. Finally, the yarn was so tightly plied that when I wove in the ends, it started to twist back on itself. The company, Diff. G. Brui Inc., is located in Quebec, but the yarn itself was made in Italy according to the label.

The heel on this pair of socks is the one I was taught as a youngster; I think the official term is "Dutch Square Heel," but to me it's "the heel my mother taught me." While it does not look as elegant as other heels, it seems to fit better.
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