Category Archives: Other


Not much progress for this week, but my time has not been my own.


This strip will continue marching on to the right, ending approximately at the green stripe. The horizontal blue stripe shows the approximate length of the graph for the repeat as it appears in my book. More on that below…

First, thank you to those who have left comments or sent notes of support. I know that lots of knitting readers are disappointed that I’ve been stitching lately. The huge drop off in visitors is a clue, but some of that is due to other factors. Ravelry for instance has just about killed all but the most popular independent knitting sites. So it goes.

Back to stitching. I’ve got three comments I’d like to address here. The first one is of interest to knitters. Faithful Reader TexAnne points out that long block unit repeats like the one I’m working now would adapt very nicely for double sided double knit scarves. An excellent observation, thank you! I add that anything worked in strips, like a large lap throw, an edging around a circularly knit skirt hem would also show this pattern (and its kin) quite well. I’ve done double knitting from these before. My oven head hat is knit up from an outtake that didn’t make it into TNCM. You can see the negative/positive effect in the flipped up brim:

The chart for this hat appears in a follow-on post to the hat description. And, although not double sided, my Knot A Hat earwarmer band (which appears to have lost its picture link, although the chart link works) uses another historical knotwork strip for knitting:


Charts for both these repeats can be found by following the links above.

The second comment contains questions from Ellen R. She asks if I’ve ever worked these patterns before, and if they can be done in voided (Assisi) style. Here’s an answer to both:


I did “Think” in 1989 and gave it to my husband to hang in his office. At the time he was working for a company that used the Scots lion as its logo. All of these patterns are in TNCM, and you can see the one I’m working on now across the bottom of the piece. It’s upside down compared to the strip I’m working now, and is worked voided – with the background instead of the foreground stitched. The effect is a bit different. To my eye, it’s more formal done this way. You can also see more of the repeat, although even this strip doesn’t capture one full cycle. I’ve worked quite a few of these many times, although even I haven’t done every pattern in TNCM (darn near close, though).

The last comment comes from Anne in Atenveldt, (an SCA region that includes parts of California and Utah). She’s got a copy of my book and notes that the chart for the current strip shows the two interlaces and the segment between, but is much shorter than the length of the strip I’m working now (or for that matter, what’s in the Think sampler). She wants to know how I do the additional segments.

I attempt to answer. The extra length is a mirror image of the section presented in the book. I work along as shown for the center point interlace and then the area between it and the next interlace as shown. On the far side of the second interlace, enough of the established pattern is shown to keep the stitcher on target, but after that point a bit of mental gymnastics is required. The stitcher has to continue on by inverting the graphed segment, mirror image style until the next mirror reflection point is reached. Again, I do show some of the area on both sides of that second bounce point to assist in navigation (and because in this case the interlaces are eccentric), but space prohibits showing a full cycle of the repeat.

Now this doesn’t present a problem for me, but as you can see, I’ve been flogging myself with this sort of thing for a long time. And it’s no shame to say that doing this in-mind reflection is difficult for you. It’s a matter of wiring, and not everyone can do this with ease, no more than can everyone use a map or read music.

If chart flipping presents problems, I do know of one easy shortcut. Office supply stores still carry transparency sheets for overhead projectors. They’re far less common in these days of Powerpoint and projectors, but many schools still use them so they’re kept in stock. They come in several flavors for various types of photocopier or printer, so be sure you’ve got the right kind for your machine. (Hot process laser printers and photocopiers for example use a melt resistant plastic, and can be fouled by using something not designed for them). Copy your chart onto the transparent sheet. Put it in a page protector sleeve with a piece of plain white paper. Work off it as usual. When time comes to do the flip, turn it over inside the page protector. Instant mirror image. The only caveat is that on pattens with eccentric interlaces as the flip point (like the one I’m working now), you’ll need to finish the interlace as charted before flipping to work the “in-between” portion.

In all, thanks to all who continue to read here. I do hope that my prattling on is useful to someone.

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I’m being eaten alive by work deadlines as usual, limiting my time for knitting and blogging, but I did take off this afternoon to work on the Resident Male’s Fathers Day present. Elder and Younger Daughter helped, of course.

Back story: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai movie is one of this household’s all time favorites. On more than one occasion we’ve pointed out that the Resident Male is vastly outumbered here, surrounded as he is by a sea of females. And on more than one occasion I’ve threatened to make him a “odd man out” banner inspired by the one raised to rally faltering spirits in our favorite move:


Today we did it. We made a beach flag inspired by the movie. The movie banner says “Farm,” but in our case “Sand” is more appropriate, because we intend on flying this on our annual Cape Cod vacation. Calligraphy for “sand” is courtesy of Ted Goodman and family, local Aikido instructor and all around good guy. (Thanks again, Ted!)


Younger Daughter helped with the sewing, learning to use a sewing machine in the process. Elder daughter helped create and ink the circles and triangles.

Resident Male was quite tickled by the gift, which we gave early – there being no effective place to hide a four foot tall banner in this house.

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Life took a silly twist here at String this week. Younger daughter and her fifth grade class participated in an Egg Drop. That’s the now classic assignment of designing and building some sort of a container that will protect a raw egg when container and egg are tossed from the roof of the school. The kids worked on their designs over the school break week last week. Yesterday was launch day. Acclaim was given for mission accomplishment (the passenger egg remained unbroken after a three-story fall), and originality of design.

Younger daughter’s idea was to wrap her egg in a bit of bubble wrap for stability, then to embed the wrapped egg in a mass of balloons. When we went to the party store we found a bag of purple balloons on sale, a post-season discount along with other traditional Mardi Gras colors. She decided to make her balloon mass into a bunch of grapes. A very BIG bunch of grapes.

grapes.jpg grapes-2.jpg

She made the streamers from tissue paper, three sheets each cut in a spiral for maximum length without the extra weight of additional tape.

Getting the thing to school on a windy morning was a challenge. It filled the back of the van. But as I hear the effort was worth it. “The Grape Escape” had a successful launch, and fell from the third floor rooftop with majestic slowness, bouncing a couple of times on landing but remaining intact. The egg passenger was unharmed. If the school posts a video of the trial I’ll share the link. Younger daughter is quite pleased both with her project’s success and with its amusement value.

In knitting news, I continue on the entrelac sock and am now about halfway up the ankle. Minor disappointment in the Berroco Sock yarn I used, though. I’ve found six knots so far in the skein of color 1487 (browns/tans) that I’m using – one or two are a statistical aberration I can live with, but that many knots is a clear indication of quality control problems. By contrast the skein of #1425 (mixed turquoise black, red, orange, purple) was clean.

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I clearly haven’t gotten the latest sock bug out of my system. After playing with the yarn-leftovers entrelac pair last week, I thought that the same technique might be useful for a problematic skein. I recently bought a couple of 100g balls of Berroco Socks. The first was a visual jumble in the ball (color #1425 John Moores). The colors were pleasing, but the appearance of the thing gave no clue as to how it would knit up. It ended up working pretty conventionally, with an interest-maintaining long repeat:


I kept patterning on this pair to a minimum, and introduced the eyelets only because I find miles of stockinette to be exceedingly boring.

The other ball looked nifty in the skein, but presented more of a problem. Those nice, solid sections you see in the photo (color # 1487, Gielgud) are actually quite short. The foot of my toe up sock shows the small tiger-stripy effect of the stuff just knitted up plain in stockinette:


But that’s even more boring if continued up the whole leg. That’s where the entrelac comes in. I’m using it on the ankle part. The color patches don’t align into checkerboard (a mathematical impossibility) but they are interesting in a skewbald sort of way. Note that if I had used a companion contrasting color along with this brown/tan/ecru yarn I could have made the visual weave effect clearer.

I don’t know why I’m not more enthused about picking up an in-process project, but until I am I’ll stick to working up more of my stashed sock yarn. One thing that whets my interest somewhat is Hanne Falkenberg’s Mermaid jacket kit. Unfortunately it’s way out of my price range and doesn’t come in an XL (the large looks to be a 12-14 US). There’s a vaguely similar pattern available from DROPS/Garnstudio that is in my size, but the lines aren’t anywhere near as elegant and to me at least, it doesn’t have the drape or color placement finesse of the Falkenberg. So I keep dreaming…

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We had an entertaining weekend here at String, spending most of it cleaning up the debris of a New England winter and waking up the garden for spring. Now I’m not a very good gardener. In fact I stick to plants that in more hospitable geographic areas are rated as borderline invasive, because they are about the only plants I can’t kill. I trust in my own lack of skill and the odd deep freeze winter to keep them in check.

This weekend’s chores included moving a trillium and a peony to make more room for an aggressive hosta‘s growing hegemony; shuffling some day lilies out of the way; rescuing some tulips and daffs so courteously relocated mid-lawn by squirrels; planting three ultra hardy five petal rugosa roses in some newly freed up spots; and pulling dead leaves out of the giant grass stubble (aka elephant grass, or maiden grass).

How giant is our giant grass? It gets tall enough for its early September plumes to overtop the roof of our front porch. We cut it down before the seed sets and ripens in order to keep it from colonizing the entire neighborhood. But what to do with canes ranging from 8 to 13 feet? The first year we bagged them with the rest of the yard trimmings, for the town to haul off for composting. This fall though I had an idea.

I also attempt to grow what started out as an antique variety of big scarlet speckled runner beans. While I don’t harvest enough of a crop to eat, the kids get a big kick out of our sequential years of Mendelian genetics. We plant our Magic Beans for three springs now – some are still true to their parent’s form, some now look more like French flagolets/ Then we watch to see what color flowers appear (originally all red, now a mix of 25% white/75% red), and what color/form of beans result. They grow very fast, and require strings or a trellis to climb. Last year all we could find at the garden shop were puny 4 foot tall bamboo stakes. Not near long enough. So I decided to dry my giant grass stalks and store them through the winter to furnish the scaffolding for this year’s bean trellis.

It’s not warm enough for bean planting yet (final frost date is the second week of May here), but we did build the trellis and set it up against the sunny southern face of the garage:

orctrellis-1.jpg orctrellis-2.jpg

On the whole, given the random length, lack of flexibility and fragility of the stalks, I’m amazed we were able to come up with anything at all. Yes, those are cable ties fastening the thing together. We’re nerds and proud! The structure is sort of pitiful, as if it were built by drunken orcs in World of Warcraft. I’m pretty sure that if they produced something this sad their players would be dunned a dozen experience points for failing so miserably in the attempt. But I like it. Covered in green with little flowers it will look grand. Provided it survives. Which is why we built it early. Better for it to collapse before beans attack it rather than having to disentangle them after the fact.

On the knitting front, I’m just about done with the entrelac socks. They turned out better than I expected.


Still a bit motley, but the four colors of leftover self stripers ended up complementing each other, mostly because all of them had green and brown in their mix. In person what looks like bright tomato red in the on-needle sock is more muted. Also, I divided the lot of leftovers into two groups – one that was mostly speckled with few or no solid stripes, and one that had firm solid stripes and spotty bits. The finished sock clearly shows the solids in the entrelac bits worked from left to right, and the speckled yarn in the entrelac bits worked right to left. All in all quite a satisfying project for something starting with such an unpromising quantity of leftovers.

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I’m not quite sure why – maybe it’s spring doldrums, but I continue to be rather uninspired by knitting. Since I wrote last, I’ve finished two more pairs of socks and am half-way through the third. One of those pairs has already been given away, so no pix are possible but here’s the second rather boring pair:


About the only thing I can say about recent sock production is that I’m trying to use up leftovers and odd skeins. The turquoise in the pair above is old Kroy 4-ply (pre Kroy Sock). The multicolor is a Schachenmayer sock yarn, a ragg blend of spring pastels, mint, turquoise, yellow and pink leftover from a baby project. I had only one 50g skein of each.

The sock on needles below is a more ambitious adventure in leftover exploitation. I save every little bit of sock yarn. You never know when you’ll need as little as a row or two to work a contrasting color stripe. Along the way, larger bits get used up to make baby booties in my favorite pattern –Jane’s Booties by Ann Krekel. But I tend to use mostly the brighter colors and primary colors for the booties. This means that the tangled mass at the bottom of my sock yarn box is disproportionately a large number of tiny balls in browns, greens, and muddy mixes (the in-between parts of self stripers). Since there’s more than enough of those leftovers to do a couple of pairs of socks, and I wanted to reclaim my storage space, I decided to work them up.

Even though I need to use lots of little bits, I don’t like lots of darned ends in the foot part of my sock, so I decided to use some of the larger quantities for the feet. The ankle part however is fair game. The foot is rather humdrum, toe and heel in the same brown, and 6×2 stripes of green and brown. Rather than tons of skinny stripes I opted to do my ankles in entrelac:


I’ve got bits of my brown and speckled green in the ankle, plus odds and ends of three self stripers and a couple of raggs and other prints. Lord knows what yarn labels these were in specific, but likely suspects include Regia Ringel, Schoeller Stahl Fantasia and Opal, all chosen because somewhere in their repeats they included green and/or brown. The second sock will begin similarly with a very plain foot part. Then it will explode into a similar bit of entrelac, although I won’t be using the exact same mix of leftovers. I do have just enough of the first set (most notably the orange and brown) to unite the look of both socks so they end up being fraternal twins.

As for what pattern I’m using – I’m not. These are toe-up socks with Figure-8 toes, worked on 72 stitches around (rather large gauge for me, and quick to knit), with a short-rowed heel. I worked about three rows beyond the heel in the speckled green before blasting out into the entrelac. To keep the ankle a manageable width, I had to do some decreases. Each foundation triangle “eats” 8 stitches of my circumference (k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog) to produce patches that are 5 stitches wide. That’s 9 five-stitch foundation triangles in total around the ankle. Then I continued in normal entrelac manner until the sock was long enough. On the last row of half-triangles, I reintroduced the stitches I trimmed out before to restore the piece to 72 stitches. I’m now working my standard 20 rows of plain old k2, p2 ribbing at the top.

One more note. To keep from going nuts, I worked the entrelac patches using “backwards knitting.” I used my usual yarn in left hand Continental method for what are normally the knit side rows, but instead of flipping the work over to purl back on each 5 stitch patch, still holding the yarn in my left hand I used a throwing variant to knit back from left to right. Much more efficient than flipping back and forth a zillion times.

So I guess the moral of the story is that frugality pays. If you save all those small bits you can look forward to some interesting adventures in sock knitting.

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As promised, and thanks to the Tofutsies sock recipient, here are pix of that pair. She’s a far better photographer than I’ll ever be, so for once shots on String have an element of clarity:

tofusox-1.jpg tofusox-3.jpg tofusox-2.jpg

Thanks, Merlyn! You can actually make out the diamonds of eyelets. And thanks again to Kathryn for the Tofutsies yarn. (I feel especially enabled today.)

To make life easier for future reference, here’s the chart for the ankle pattern. It’s repeated four times around the sock, a convenient one panel per needle if you’re knitting with four needles holding 18 stitches each, or two circs with 36 each (a sock circumference of 72 stitches, the count for the largest gauge I knit for myself). This can also be worked as side by side panels of 16 stitches by eliminating columns 1 and 18 (a sock circumference of a more usual 64 stitches). The astute will be able to pick out from the excellent photo that I followed the pattern as presented in Duchrow, but my chart below offers up several modifications to the original:


Or if you’re adventurous, here’s my own riff on the same idea to make an argyle-like diamond studded all-over repeat – this time requiring a fixed multiple of 18 stitches (It can also be worked as a single panel of 18):


This adaptation is so blindingly obvious that it must be presented in other stitch sources. For example, without running to my library I am pretty sure that Walker presents a diamond of double YO eyelets in her second Treasury. Which is another way of saying that there’s little new in knitting, and most invention is more of a process of rediscovery than virgin creation.

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Here I am. Remember me?

As occasional readers here have noted before, extended periods between posts usually mean that my professional life has up and swallowed my personal life, and that I’m hard pressed by work-related deadlines. The past couple of months has been no exception. I will say that even though I get swamped, I do try to grab a little relaxation time, but when I do I usually stick to autopilot rather than challenging knitting.

Which is all a round about excuse for why nothing has been done on my Sempre pullover of late. I haven’t had time to sit down and draft out the fulll size mockup. I’ll get around to it, but not until after I decompress. In the mean time I’ve been sticking to nice, boring sock knitting.

Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn surprised me with a nifty gift – two skeins of lively, variegated pink SWTC Tofutsies, a wool/cottom/soy silk/crab shell chitin fingering weight yarn. I was pleasantly surprised by the Tofutsies. I’m not a fan of cotton sock yarns, and usually stick to all wool or wool/nylon. To me cotton is unstretchy to knit, and both clammy and pebbly underfoot. Not so the Tofutsies. It knits up nice and soft, not pebbly at all. It is however not as stretchy as wool – sort of somewhere in between wool and cotton in total stretch. Because I favor toe-ups with short row heels which rely heavily on total stretch for their ankle to instep fit, I was hesitant to use the Tofutsies for my standard issue sock. Instead I adapted Wendy’s toe up gusset heel for my stitch count. It worked perfectly, making a sock with more than enough depth and with for comfortable fit, even with the un-stretchy yarn. For the decorative ankle part, I adapted yet another one of the simplest double yarn over eyelet insertion strips from Duchrow, Vol. 1. This one featured diamonds of eyelets, embedded in an 18 stitch repeat. I wish I had pix, but I gave the pair to a pal who was thirsty for warm socks in a sprightly, spring pink. She has promised to take some snaps though which I will eventually post.

And for those who are dying to ask, no. This yarn does not smell like crab shells. If anything, it smells like cotton yarn, not wool yarn, even though it has twice as much wool in it as it does cotton.

My Tofutsies pair was a super-quick knit, so I started a second pair of socks out of another sock yarn new to my stash. This time it was Berroco Sox, in color #1425 (called John Moores on the B. website, and from the grouping named after the UK entrepreneur or Liverpool-based university, not the US baseball team owner), working my standard toe-up with short-rowed heel. I like this yarn. Although I did find one knot in the skein, the rest of the thing was comparable in feel and gauge to Regia or Fortissima. Very nice, indeed. Especially considering that it was slightly less expensive than those Euro-labels. (The yarn itself is imported.)

The color run repeated roughly twice between toe and heel for me, and with each stripe being very shallow and the color patterning being hard to discern in skein, was fun to watch build. You can’t really see it in the standard issue lousy String pix below, but I knit the feet smooth and introduced an ultra simple diagonal lacy detail on the ankle:


It’s a simple double yarn over diagonal, done on an 8 stitch repeat (my socks are usually 72 or 80 stitches around). The idea was to leave enough solid to let the color repeat play, but keep me from dying of boredom knitting miles of plain stockinette. Here’s left and right hand varinants of the thing, just in case you want to make a pair of complementary socks, too:


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I’m back from a horrific spate of deadlines prior to a trip to see family in Florida for the holiday, and about to launch into another round of equally horrific deadlines. (I need to embroider a sampler that says “Another Day, Another Deadline.”)

But in the mean time, I can present the mindless knitting I did on the plane. I finished the pair of Noro Kureyon Sock slouch socks, and have almost finished another totally boring and featureless sock, this one of Regia 4-Ply, in their Design Line color grouping endorsed by Kaffee Fassett (Color 04455). Interesting play of colors, but like all stripers with no texture, miles of plain old stockinette.


Why knit these boring socks? Because I’m not a good traveler. The motion of the plane coupled with the gentle aroma of blended jet fuel exhaust and unwashed traveler, compounded by the coffin like minimalist seating squash makes me green. I can only work on things I don’t have to watch closely. Knitting from written or charted directions is a special challenge to both my personal equilibrium, and ability to contort to hold all in view without elbowing my seatmates. So for the trip, it’s plain old socks or some similar non-challenging bit of work.

On the ground in Florida I started a lace scarf. Again, separated from my reference library I relied on a simple printed pattern. In this case, the Estonian Lace Scarf by Nancy Bush, offered up on Knitting Daily for a limited time (it’s a reprint from Interweave Knits back in the Fall of 2001, if you still have access to that issue).

I’m using some Malabrigio Baby Merino Laceweight in a garnet-strawberry blend. It is not an optimal yarn for this project. First of all, it’s heavier than what I would consider to be a true laceweight, and would look better on a larger size needle than recommended in the pattern (the only one I packed for the trip). It’s a highly twisted single, more similar to a 3-ply in bulk. Second, the color variegation is fighting with the lace patterning. In particular the highly-annoying-to-work p7tog nupps (aka mini-bobbles) totally disappear. If I put in that finger twisting effort, I want the result to be seen. And finally, the pattern specifies 504 yards of yarn to complete. One skein of the Malabrigio is 470 or so yards. To save yarn, I planned on shortening the scarf by one repeat and improvising an edging instead of working the one shown. Even so, I am not pleased with the result:


I’m now thinking of carefully ripping it all out and starting over, either working this same pattern on a larger needle, or (now that I’m home) drafting out a different lace pattern that would be better suited to the color combo and available yardage. So it goes.

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I was wrong and I freely admit it. Remember the post in which I described a method for estimating the depth of stripes that would be produced by a skein of space dyed or multicolor patch yarn? I applied that method to my skein of Noro Kureyon Sock, and it flat out missed the mark.

Based on skein size and color strand counting, I estimated that each solid color stripe would last 4-6 rows or so before shading into the next. I still stand by that for the yarn on the outside of the skein, but I didn’t factor into my estimation how seemingly random Noro yarns can be. Here’s the skein:


I see lots of turquoise and magenta, with side trips to royal blue and deep green. The color segments of the yarn on the outside of the skein appear to last for the lengths I indicated.

But here’s the resulting slouch sock (a sock with a deliberately wide ankle part), knit from the center of the ball out. It’s brother is just a tiny turquoise cast-on speck right now:


Huh? where did that huge lump of royal blue above the heel come from? And the green/orange mix directly above that? And why is the pink/purple section so unexpectedly wide? Counting the strands on the inner layer visible on the un-dissected skein, pink/purple should be equal in width to green. What gives?

I might have been less surprised had there been more than one skein of this color number available on the day I bought the yarn. Looking at several, each starting at a different spot in the color progression might have revealed larger (or different) color segments than I anticipated. In any case, the color repeat has gone through about one and a half cycles in this sock, hitting the toe’s hue blend about halfway between orange stripe and densest part of the magenta, although factoring in the wider circumference of the ankle part than the foot, the second appearance of the pink/purple is longer than that combo’s debut.

So there’s my caveat. I still say my estimation method works. Mostly. Except for Noro, where all bets are off.

Pattern footnote:

How to do a slouch sock? Easy. US #00s. Standard figure-8 cast on toe, worked on a set of five DPNs. Increase to 17 stitches per needle until just before the heel (68 st total). Increase one stitch per needle to 18 (72 st total), work a standard short row heel across two needles (36 stitches), instead of decreasing away the two sneaky stitches used to minimize any top-of-heel-decrease gaps, keep them, and increase one stitch each on the two non-heel needles for a total of 19 stitches per needle (76 st total). Work leg part equal in length to foot (folded along the heel’s natural equator), then work about 20 rows of K2, P2 ribbing and end off.

Why do a slouch sock? Between the wild colors, thick/thin spin, and overtwist, any lacy or texture pattern would be lost in this stuff. Also this yarn isn’t a good candidate for stranding or striping with another (although two different but closely related skeins in a simple stranding pattern might be interesting). I’ve had some breakage, and I’m not inclined to use this stuff for a nice, snug sock that takes a lot of stretching to put on. The roomy top will diminish that strain.

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