Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Where in the world did the month go?

By Blogger Mary, at 3:59 PM  

When it's just Not Right, and you love what you're making, isn't it grand to be able to edit and retouch? Especially on the Glorious KipFee!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:15 AM  

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007  

No photos today. I finished the back, working in 3 sets of short rows and decreasing 6 more stitches in the center of the back, but my knitting is just too sloppy looking. The stitches are big and loose – blame it on those purls, though I think the weight of the sweater added to the tension shift as well as my own uncertainty about what I wanted to do math/wise. But I’m confident I did good knitting-math and will rip it and re-knit on smaller needles, just to be sure I have nice snug stitches.

I also wish I’d done one more trick when doing those end row decreases. I wish I’d wrapped the other color (in my case, the Yellow) around the yarn I was using to knit those end decreases. There is really too much space between the yellow stripe and the brown. Not enough of a space to justify ripping, because I do NOT want to purl in stranded colorwork any more than I have to. But I may just sit down with a needle tip and snug everything up one stitch at a time. More tedious, but more likely to be successful too.

Happy knitting to you! Happy January 31 as well!

posted by Bess | 9:56 AM


Ummm...persistence is a key Virgo character trait, no? (The bedrock of our tendency to perfectionism, right?) If so, Gal, you've got it in spades!!


By Blogger Margaret, at 10:59 AM  

That sweater is a feast for my eyes! I like the picture with all the different needles in it -- we get a peek at the inside, and your stranding is so even. Kudos!

By Blogger Mary, at 4:45 PM  

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007  

Photos Added

Oh my dears! I can’t believe I knit an entire man’s Norwegian sweater in stranded colorwork - FLAT! Purling back with 2 colors for half the sweater! As my first ever, learn to knit project!! My stars ... and reindeer! That has to be the clumsiest knitting in the world. What were those knitting editors thinking!?! S’truth, my eyes are bleary with it - and I can barely focus to type.

But let us begin with an effort at explanations, descriptions and directions.

We left our heroine with 16 stitches on the needles at the top of the sleeve cap. The first and last of those 16 stitches are part of the decrease line which really does need to continue on to the bitter end, in the same slant that it has been leaning, with the same stitch laying atop the stitch from the sleeve it’s eaten up. (forgive the mixed metaphors)
Note those decreases, wobbly, but all laying in the same direction and tidily taking up a sleeve cap stitch each time.

Now, I think of those stitches as part of the sleeve, but in fact they are the first and last stitches of the body front and back. That means there were really only 14 stitches left in the sleeve cap. It’s not important for fit. One stitch more or less hardly ever matters in a sweater. But it does mean I had only 7 rows left to knit to complete the sleeve cap, not 8, and that can matter in stranded colorwork.

The first two rows are done in the solid color (Twig) and on the purl row back I decreased 10 stitches out of the center to make the fabric snug in towards my neck. I did this by knitting about 1/3 of the shoulder, then I K2,K2tog 10 times, then knit the other third. I’ve tried the sweater on again and this decrease is nice enough. I could have decreased 25% of all the stitches and it might have made an even better fit, but I’d have to be careful to do the same on the front and I didn’t feel like calculating the math for that. When the decrease is taken from the center back it won’t matter because that part of the sweater is not matched with the front, but finished off with the neck band. So, I think I probably made the better choice. Look closely and you can see the decreases lean towards the center.

I have all sorts of circular knitting needles containing the resting stitches of front and sleeve caps and they are a pain in the neck (;>) The wise thing would have been to put the fronts on a loop of nice thick yarn, tied so they can’t slip off. Then I would have put the back sleeve cap stitches on “real” stitch holders that I could clasp shut. The Lazy Gal’s choice just made for more work and the danger, frequently fulfilled, of using the wrong needle to knit any given row.
Needles everywhere!

Now. About that wretched purling back in stranded colorwork! Ugh!

First you must understand that I could have knit this all in the solid color and it would have looked lovely and been so much easier to do, with no ends to weave in afterwards. If I had been at a color that was less flattering to me I would have. Instead I was at the delightful tiger stripe yellow and brown. I love that 2 stitch color pattern in all the colorways; love the way it shades, love the combinations the designer chose. I couldn’t resist. But I have only 4 rows in which to put these colors so I chose to do them all in the same 2 colors. I intended to use the mid-range colors of Fawn and Lemon but accidentally picked up Yellow instead of Lemon and now I’ve knit those 2 wretched purl rows I am not ripping back for anything except a bad fit. Besides, it looks nice. Even though the trend in the sweater is from dark at the base to light at the top, that vivid green band balances out the bright yellow.

Anyway, with the decision made to keep up the colorwork I had to face those dreaded purl rows. I am what Bob Kelly, of Skein, in Middleburg, VA, calls a scooper - a Continental knitter. I knit holding the yarn in my left hand, over my left index finger, in fact, and scoop the yarn off the finger with my right needle. When using 2, or even 3, colors I separate them with my middle finger, while still using my index finger as the tension rod, and scoop whatever color I want. I can move rather swiftly on a knit row.

I purl in the Combination manner of scooping which sets up the stitches backwards for the following knit row. I find it as easy to knit into the back leg as the front so I don’t have the problem of twisted stitches. But I can purl the correct continental way of using my tensioning finger to wrap the yarn around the right needle tip properly. It’s just a lot of work so I don’t do it unless there’s a reason.

So. Here I am faced with 2 rows of100 stitches to purl in 2 colors, changing every other stitch!!!

1. I tried my usual scoop purl. I couldn’t keep the two colors apart enough to select the one I wanted.

2. I tried holding the yarn in my right hand. Oh god! Pick up a color wrap and purl, drop color. Pick up other color. Wrap and purl. Drop. My god do this 200 times?

3. I turned the sweater around and tried to knit back backwards. Couldn’t do it at all with the yarn in my left hand so I wrapped one color around the right index finger and one around the thumb. This worked. It was excruciating but it worked.

4. I turned back to the purl side and tried to tension one color with my index finger and one with my middle finger. Couldn’t do it. The middle finger yarn just slid off into space.

5. Still on the purl side I went back to tensioning both yarns over the index finger but when I purled one color I scooped and when I did the next color I brought the right needle tip up between the two color (who looked like they were trying to make a baby they were so close) and did the proper continental purl, which is basically wrapping the yarn in the other direction (from the scoop direction). That worked only, my left hand grew so tense and stiff it began to ache.

6. So I went back to the knit back backwards side to rest my hand and in the end I sort of swapped off #3 and #5 techniques to get to the end of the row.

A heck of a lot of trouble, any sane person might say. But it wouldn’t be that much trouble if I had kept it all in a solid color. It would have been no trouble at all, really. And it doesn’t hurt to teach my hands a new technique. It’s only 400 stitches in a sweater of tens of thousands of stitches. It’s important to me to have that set in sleeve fit, and the last few rows are the price you pay to get it. And I really wanted those last bands of tigerish colors. But if you don’t want to go mad with those 400 stitches - if it seems just too daunting - leave off the colorwork. It’s quite easy and will look lovely.

So. One more tip. At the end of every knit row, knit last stitch with the next sleeve cap stitch. Do an SSK, btw. Replace that stitch on the left needle and SSK that stitch with the next sleeve cap stitch. Replace that stitch on the left needle. Turn and start purling back with the first stitch that’s now on your left needle.

At the end of every purl row, P2tog the last stitch with the next sleeve cap stitch. Replace that stitch on left needle and P2tog with next sleeve cap stitch. Replace stitch, turn work, and start knitting with the stitches on your left needle.

If you’re doing this in a solid color, snug up the stitches a bit here. If you’re doing the stranded colorwork, don’t worry if you see any little gap in the knitting. The floats in the back will disguise them and wet blocking will even everything out sweetly.
More views of the sweater back eating up the back half of the sleeve cap.

An opinionated word or two about blocking here. My favorite blocking method is to just wash my sweater, spin it out in the washing machine and then pat it into shape on towels on the bathroom floor. Sooner or later you’ll have to do this anyway because sweaters do get dirty. Sweaters I’ve been knitting, in a house heated by wood, carted about here and there and just everywhere, are already dirty before they’re finished, so a good washing is just what they need. But the best part about washing or wet blocking is that you give all the stitches the same opportunity to even out. My knitting is as lumpy and bumpy as can be while it’s still on the needles. But just you wait till I wet block them. You’ll think I’m a really fine knitter! I’ll show you. I’ll have photos!

Whew. Lots of words. I’m on the last row of solid color knitting on the back, trying to decide if I really want to bother with short rows. I will think about it today, look at the sweater tonight and make my decision then. Whew. What a sweatermath workout!

Good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:31 AM


You're a genius! It's gorgeous!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:20 PM  

I can't wait to see it done. It is so much suited to you and wonderful knitting! (I hope those awkward sentences make sense; it's been one of those days).

By Blogger Carolyn, at 10:24 PM  

I love the color progression, and those decreases are beautiful!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:19 AM  

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Monday, January 29, 2007  

Nope, A, not yet. I still have the button band and neck band to put on. When it’s all the way done I may model it. But here be photos.

posted by Bess | 12:59 PM


Aaaannnnd, she's rounding the final turn! Go Bess, go!

By Blogger Jane, at 8:44 AM  

Does this mean glorious MODELED pictures tomorrow?

We'll accept it unblocked!

By Blogger Amie, at 11:03 AM  

The excitement is just too much to handle!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:17 PM  

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I did make it through the next colorway!! The last complete colorway, in fact. I have 8 more rounds of knitting to do, but here is where I must divide and knit front and back flat. I haven’t done stranded colorwork from the purl side in, oh la!, not since I was in high school and I knit the First Dread Sweater! Well, there will only be only 2 rounds worth of that kind of knitting. It can’t be but so bad.

Another development popped up to surprise me. When I tried on the sweater last night - to see if the flat top part of the sleeve cap came at the right place (it did) - I realized that where the sweater front stopped is a very nice place for a neckband to begin. Oh ho! Ought I to just start knitting the last colorband 3 inches in from the center on each front part? Instead of cutting away the knitting in the front, as the pattern has you do? It means even less knitting, even less colorwork in purl. Hmmmm. There would need to be a tee tiny bit of shaping in the front but it’s easy shaping. Hmmm. This is very, very tempting. Too tempting, in fact. So. All that talk about snipping away at fine fabric might just turn out to be moot. I don’t have to.

What I will do is a little short row shaping in the back. And maybe a little in the front. I’m such a sucker for short rows and I can do them in a solid color, at the very last. What else I’ll do is to knit the back first and then do the front pieces. Photos later today.

Oh La! How will I ever pay attention at work? I'm going to be fretting to come home and finish this baby all day long!

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM


Yep, E, that little toes is a fine sock weight. I have always knit with toasty toes and that knits up cushy on #3 needles. I'm using 3's on this stuff too and it's way too thin for ordinary wearing. Mom doesn't walk anymore, though, so she can have looser socks.

And yes, M. that was the movie. It was a one joke flick, though, and I did all my chuckling in the first 10 minutes. Looked to me like a Saturday Night Live skit that got over written.

How about that - commenting on my own blog.

By Blogger Bess, at 9:14 AM  

Well the same guy who directed "Life Aquatic" also directed "The Royal Tenenbaums", which I hated. Definitely a quirky indy director.

Glad that you won out over "mom's" nagging to go "play outside". I, too, have a hard time sitting on the couch when it's beautiful outside. I ended up sitting on my porch trying to learn and test more features on my new-ish camera.

By Blogger Mary, at 12:03 PM  

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Sunday, January 28, 2007  

Mom lost. I did take a walk and clean the house, but mostly I sat inside and knit. Serious progress is occurring on The KipFee. I’m 2/3rds through the green colorband. About 21 rounds of sweater to knit. And today is a nice grey day, hinting at rain even though none is predicted. It’s another knitting day. I’d like to be finished with the next colorway by bedtime, though that’s 13 rounds of colorwork. But each round gets smaller by 4 stitches. I’ll give it my best shot and see how close I can get to the target.

I really like how the sleeves are shaping. They curve in nicely as they approach the shoulder line. My inner knitter assures me that I’ve done the correct math. I’ve decided to trust her and knit on with confidence and tell myself those sleeves feel a little tight because there is that enormous wad of loose ends to weave in running down the inside. It is about an inch thick, so I’m probably not fooling myself. Happily, this yarn feels nice against the skin, though, so if those sleeves are a little snug in the forearm, I can wear a sleeveless shell or even short sleeves underneath. I made sure the upper arms were wide enough, but I think, were I to do this sweater again, I’d have cast those sleeves on at 25% instead of 20% of the body width (times gauge).

I spent the day with Meg and Elizabeth watching Knitting Glossary. All the other EZ videos are Checked Out Of The Library!!!! Just who do those people think they are, taking all my EZ videos over a weekend? :D

Kidding, there. I'm delighted the videos are being checked out. Gives me a reason to replace them with the DVD version when they begin to show wear. I was just in the mood for an M&EZ show. And I’d forgotten how many wonderful things they did on that Glossary video - how very much technique they’d shown, how many things I’d learned from them. I’ve always wanted to knit some of those technique sampler swatches they displayed; especially that lace gauge one, the selvage one, and the decrease swatch. I probably should have assigned a month of my almanac to doing that. They’re great teaching aids and they’d be pretty good memory joggers for me.

Ahh well. Find me another day in the week, or month in the year, and I just might get to do all those things I dream of. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’d just dream up More ThingsToDo. And somehow that feels just right. I love the idea of More. More than you could ever dream of. More than enough to go around. More waiting around the corner for you. So much more it will be all you can dream of. In fact, more sounds so good, I think I’ll say good-bye and go knit More on The KipFee!


posted by Bess | 8:42 AM


I was under the impression that "Toasty Toes" was more of a sport weight, and "Tiny Toes" more of a fingering weight.

I've only ever knit with Toasty Toes though.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 9:24 AM  

I think the movie you watched last night was "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". I actually liked that movie, but you have to be in the right frame of mind for its quirkiness. And while I was watching it, I wasn't sure what my final ruling would be, but I think the end won me over. And now, several months later, I forget most of the details of the movie and just have a general impression of it in my head. I guess I need to watch it again!

Looking forward to reading of your further progress on the KipFee. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:18 PM  

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Saturday, January 27, 2007  

I don’t know what the difference between the two Interlacements sock yarns. I’m not even sure what they’re still selling. I got this yarn ages ago from a sock club. It’s very softly spun - so soft that it tangled like the dickens when I wound it into a ball - 2 balls, in fact, since one tangle had to get the gordeon treatment. I had hoped to take it in with me to knit on during Book Club. I know these women wouldn’t mind if I knit with them and I’ve just been so knittadicted this winter, my fingers ached to be knitting on something yesterday.

It was not to be, alas. But we had a lively discussion about this book, about guy books, about good writers who disappoint us with pointless plots. We all had the same reaction to this book. Huh? So?

On The KipFee front, I did find that dropped stitch and picked it right back up. Happily, it required very little tinking - for a dropped stitch in the setup row of a colorwork pattern throws the rest of the row off. This one was only a few stitches before the transition from sleeve to body. As I’ve been doing these decreases, I’ve deliberately started the pattern anew at each body part: Right front, right sleeve, back, left sleeve. That dropped stitch was only 8 stitches away from a decrease. Happy me, I’m motoring around again. I promise, my next post will include the new sleeve math.

The goal is to finish up the entire body, including 3-needle bindoff by Wednesday. Swatch the button band after that and then wait for the, as yet unsent, KnitPicks order for additional yarn in Bark. And wait for the silk lace weight yarn I need for February’s knitting. Good thing I have socks for Mama to knit. I cast them on last night because socks are such good movie watching knitting. Especially when the movie is so bad you aren't really watching it, just sitting through it to keep Someone company.

The rule in TheCastle is that you don’t have to watch anything you don’t like. I enjoy a movie. I love a good movie. But there are vast categories I don’t care for, with Dysfunctional Families being at the tiptop. It is understood that if a movie turns out to be a DF flick I will leave the room. This one was too stupid to be called DF. It was supposed to be a comedy. It’s a Netflix and it’s already been packed up so I forget the name, but it was a spoof about undersea explorers staring Bill Murry, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, the guy with the funny nose and oh, some other folk with names you recognize. I suspect it was more fun to make than to watch. In fact, it was so insider/stupid I kept waiting for BD to say "I’ve had enough". He never did and I suspect he kept waiting to see if there would ever be a laugh in it. Not for him, poor thing. I, otoh, got 17 rows of cuff knit, so the evening wasn’t a complete bust.

It’s looks to be a gorgeous day today. Gorgeous but cold. Now here is a question that lurks in the back of my mind all the time. Why does it seem alright to sit and watch Elizabeth Zimmermann videos and knit on a sweater all day if it’s a rainy day - but if it’s sunny, I feel I ought to be Up and Doing Things? Why do I still hear a parental voice saying "get outside. It’s a beautiful day!"

Because what I want to do is to sit and watch Elizabeth Zimmermann videos and knit on a sweater all day. Wonder who will win: me or Mom?

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


I'd know Interlacements anywhere! So, what's the difference between "Little Toes" and "Toesty Toes", with which I'm more familiar?

That sun picture is quite eery. Almost looks like the moon....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:15 AM  

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Friday, January 26, 2007  

Doesn't this look like something you'd like to squish your fingers into? Wonder what it is?

Mama's sock yarn.

And this is a strange photo of ... the sun? Yep. It was so grey and cloudy without a sunbeam anywhere, but the lense saw what I didn't.

posted by Bess | 10:11 AM


I'm particular about the books I read, too. There are so few good ones out there that I hoard them until I have a long plane or train trip to read them on. No point in wasting their goodness at home when I have plenty of other entertainment options.

It's been several months since I've traveled for work, so I haven't read anything decent in awhile....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:13 AM  

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I woke at dawn today - or 4 a.m., and though I am sure I should have tried to go back to sleep (which I can do sometimes, just by trying) I started thinking about TheKipFee and how sweetly it felt, after ripping out all the mismathed stitches, to load those stitches on my slick little #3 Addi Turbo and start knitting that P&P checkerboard again. And then I remembered that there was a stitch missing on the left sleeve and I got to trying to remember if that had always been so and I know it wasn’t and does that mean there is a dropped stitch in that sleeve. And then I got to thinking about our book club lunch today and how I had tried and failed to read the whole novel by T. R. Pearson, about Louis, the New Holden Caulfield, (Oh la, another weak man fixating on how much he’s disappointed his parents) schlepping through New York’s mysteries and drooling over call girls. And then I thought about that really fine Bourbon Santos coffee I picked up yesterday, waiting for me in the refrigerator and you know, really fine coffee is good anytime of day and then, when your dog makes a little sound in his throat that sounds like "Maw-um, come get me. I want to get up in the big bed" well. It’s just easier to get up and start your day.

The book is Glad News of the Natural World - a sequel to Short History of a Small Place. I am always captured by the lure of a small southern town written about by a real southerner, because you never know. You might stumble upon a gem like Raney or Run With The Horsemen. But most of the time you get mired in Mitford’s sugar syrup, or you grow bored waiting for shiftless, if harmless, guys to giiit upoffit - which they never do. That’s why they’ve gone to New York. Nobody will notice and they can check out the scene forever. Like the perpetual university student, another looser type that can be puffed off as witty and charming, the perennial people watcher often makes a good date, a fascinating seat partner on a city bus or subway. But in the end, you just can’t care enough about him to care what happens around him, even if he can describe it to you in the most entertaining manner.

This type of book - the unconnected man looking out at the world from his burrow of self-doubts (Pat Conroy) - is one of the guy categories I mentally shelve books onto. Along with the grim-spy-mystery-adventure story (Tom Clancy) and or the esoteric convoluted puns-in-seven-languages book - (Umberto Ecco, James Joyce) this is the sort of book a man would write, but not a woman. It’s not that men don’t write books about people with no feelings. It’s more that the men they write about are the ones about whom you say with relief "whew! glad he got away!" Or more cynically... they're your first husband. It’s no wonder to me that Loose can’t find a woman. He’s too ... arrested in his development. He’s too ... unhappy. Come to think of it - can you imagine Harrison Ford/Jack Ryan ever being happy? Or even telling the sort of joke that just makes you laugh till tears tickle?

I sometimes feel like men write about people you will never connect with no matter how much they reveal. And then I wonder if it’s just me who can’t connect with these guys, or if it’s all women. It’s no matter. If the plot has enough purpose, a cliff hanger of a rescue a la tom Clancy, or a tender conclusion, as Clyde Edgerton offers, I can enjoy the read. If our sensitive hero just sort of keeps on keepin’ on - or looses everything in the end, well, thanks, but ... no thanks. I guess, when it comes to novels, I am no ENFP. I want to come to conclusion and I can’t get no satisfaction if I don’t.

I left Louis Benfield in his dreadful Ford, picking up another out of reach, inappropriate woman who won’t love him anyway. I don’t think I’ll check back with him again.

This is a comment I tried to post on C’s blog. Blogger wouldn’t let me and I might as well share it here. I'm reading You on a Diet - but it's a real struggle. It's put together like those awful ...for dummies books with the bad typeface, cheasy paper and fleshcrawly icons snapping their fingers in Eureka moments. Fairly or not, I consider this another type of Guy Book feature and it really puts me off a book. I buy them for the library, but I seldom read them.

After slogging up to Chapter 3 I’ve finally found an interesting tidbit of info. The authors claim that High Fructose Corn Syrup doesn’t register in the brain as food so you can eat and drink this stuff forever without ever getting the chemical information that you’ve been fed or quenched. Now that’s something worth reading a nutrition label for. I’m not supposed to be eating anything with HFCS in it anyway so here’s all the more reason to get vigilant.

Funny how it’s more interesting, and thus easier, to refrain from eating something because you know it’s going to act like vinegar and baking soda on your hips - or brain!

I understand how deeply personal the book thing is but I wouldn’t own this book. It’s a one read book for me. I’m reading the library’s copy.

posted by Bess | 7:07 AM


Always an education here at the Castle. Looking forward to observing your latest progress as you adjust the KipFee once again. You're a lovely example of perseverence.

And I'm almost as excited for you as you should be about the satellite internet. Go for it! You'll never look back. Think of it this way: the computer and internet access are just tools, and I believe you should always work with the very best tools you can, whenever possible, whether it be in the workshop, kitchen, garden, with your knitting, or for accessing the internet.

I just hope you don't have any tall trees on the southern portion of your lot that you're in love with....

By Blogger Mary, at 3:46 PM  

Oh, those little dishes are not that noticable, they get smaller every year, and the satellite access! Oh, and should this include satellite TV, there are great British channels available, my cousin gets a fab BBC channel that I don't get on cable. I agree with Mary, it's a tool. I am not a snob about things that are "for show," but dammit, if I USE it every day I want the fastest and bestest I can get. And if you get satellite, you can get a wee Mac!

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:34 PM  

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Thursday, January 25, 2007  

Lots of Sweater Math below. Not for the faint hearted.

Woops. I didn’t mean to disappear like that. A combination of our home internet access sinking to an even greater Subterranean Depth of Slowness, a flare up of sciatica and some Important Engagements suddenly sucked up all my time. I lounged around all day Tuesday, so the back is better. Yesterday we had lots of fun schmoozing around in Richmond where I actually got to say "Oh, no, I’m just a really nice wife!" And we are probably one step closer to biting the Satellite Internet Access bullet. The monthly fees for that won’t be any more than we’re paying for a second land line plus regular dial-up - in fact, it will be less. It’s that initial lump for the equipment, and the thought of putting Star Trek accouterments on my Little House in the Woods that’s such a throat sticker. But lousy internet service has found new lows with which to offend the user. I could knit three sweaters in the time I’ve wasted waiting for hotmail to load up.

Speaking of knitting a sweater - thank you all for your input on the color choice. You are all right. I’ve had several days to look at it, as it pulses there on the dining room table. I have decided. The colors stay but the math must be redone. By that I mean I must rip out all the green bits I’ve done so far as well as that lovely petal and peach colorwork and start my decreasing every row with the P&P. You see, according to Elizabeth Zimmermann's seamless circular set in sleeve instructions, once you start taking your 4 decreases out of the sleeves, you do it every other row till you’ve eaten up half the sleeve stitches. Then you begin decreasing every row till you have 2 inches of sleeve stitches left knit. At my gauge of 8 st. to the inch, that will be 16 stitches. Then you knit the front flat, knitting the first and last stitches of each row together with one of the sleeve stitches till half of them have been eaten up. Then you knit across to the back, knitting that flat and K2tog-ing in the same manner as you did on the front till there are 0 sleeve stitches left. I like to do a 3 needle bindoff at that point to join the shoulders. I’ll plan on doing it with a solid color, probably the darker of that last colorway in the color chart.

So. What’s the problem with that? Well, EZ used to knit her sleeves narrower than I like mine. I have more sleeve stitches to decrease. Each row of sleeve knitting is also a row of body knitting. If I wait till I’ve bitten away half my sleeve stitches before switching to bites on every row, I’ll make the sweater too long between the shoulder seam line and the underarm. So I must start my faster decreases lower down. I don’t have it with me right now but I will sit down with pen and paper and figure out the math - at what percent do I make the switch, and offer it up to anyone who might also like to knit this sweater with this different shaping.

I’m also planning on doing the front neck treatment as written in the pattern: mark a neck scoop, stabilize the stitches and then cut the fabric away. I had not ever read a Philosopher’s Wool sweater pattern, but someone on Knitters Review remarked that their neck shaping is done that way. It’s such an easy way to be sure you’re sweaters are well centered with the patterns lined up. I come from a sewing background and I’ve sewn with some high end fabrics. It’s always a little daunting to cut into fine fabric but it must be done so one ought to get out the scissors and do it.

My goal is to finish this baby by Valentines Day. I used up such a lot of the dark brown (bark?) in the ribbing I’m not sure there will be enough to do the button band and neck band, so I’m going to order some more of it today. I’m also going to do a tee tiny bit of button band changing. I’m very tempted to do it all in garter stripes instead of ribbed checkerboards. I’ll do a little swatch before hand, to figure out how many rows of each color I’ll need to do and to be sure I like the way it looks. I can play with that while I wait for my order to come in.

And of course, I’ll be playing around with my D’Artagnan socks when the silk for them comes in. That is February’s designated knitting project. I expect some overlap of knitting activity as I follow my Knitters Almanac but I do intend to use it as a guide. And I’d like to knit up another pair of socks for my mama, instead of finishing BD’s Woolease sock. She’s had a good spell the past few weeks and Christmas was much healthier than we had expected, but sister sends news that she’s sliding backwards a bit now. I have some AbFab Interlacements Toasty Toes yarn I got in a sock club years ago. This knits fast, on #3’s and it’s so cushiony plushy soft I know her diabetic feet will love them. And the colors are Joyous.

So. Off to the frog pond for me. Thank you all again, for your counsel.

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


Hey, I like the potentially offensive band! (As much as I like anything with any shade of pink.) My eyes are hazel, my hair strawberry blonde and my skin is (ahem) golden toned, so it was probably a safe bet.

I'll have to check KnitPicks colors again. When they first came out with their own yarn, I ordered 1 of everything and many of those are in the yellow green family - olives or sages and such. Loved those and the honey and peach shades.

By Anonymous diann, at 7:51 PM  

I'm with Diann. In context, the Bright Band looks wunderbar!


P.S. Answer to e-mail is forthcoming...

By Blogger Margaret, at 8:46 AM  

The bright band looks just fine to me. It blends with the rest of the sweater - it's not like it jumps out at you or anything.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 10:36 AM  

Well, for some reason I've been at a love-of-all-things-pink phase for the past few months, but I really love the top band. It's warm and sunny, without looking baby pink. The progression seems very natural, and not like you suddenly slammed an unplanned colorway in there. I approve!

By Blogger Amie, at 11:57 AM  

I agree with everyone -- I see nothing offensive or off-putting about that top band. Knit on, my friend. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:01 PM  

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful sweater! just lovely - and the dogs are sweet too.

By Anonymous Anne, at 5:20 PM  

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Monday, January 22, 2007  

The top band is the potentially offensive one. After looking at it again this morning, I feel a little better about the colors.

In this photo you can see it with all the other colors.

And here are some gratuitous snow shots, with dogs.

posted by Bess | 12:13 PM


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Well, well. Look who’s writing for Yahoo Astrology. And how much more like the old Mr.Horoscope this sounds. He’s been particularly uninspiring for a long time. I am wondering now who’s insight I had been reading. This one sounds, not just more like the old daily predictions, but more like what’s really going on in my life too.

And thugh Yahoo is usually something that gives me grief, I’m glad to see this page was easy to pull up. Happy me.

We did get snow. Light, crusty, sleety pretty snow. I live at the north end of the county and it’s much more slushy-frosty-icy here than in town. Schools are opening late. The library will open on time, but I will probably go in late since BD needs the car. I wouldn’t drive the truck in this stuff for a kingdom, and everyone else who works at the library lives in town. I’ll just take a half day off.

I will also take photographs of TheKipFee, which is at a crisis point right now. Two issues are at the forefront. The first is my color change choice. Though a photograph would speak 1000 words, I’m going to as well, because I believe writing it all out will help me come to a decision, and you can never tell how a monitor will display colors anyway.


As I said yesterday, the sweater has an overall bluish cast. (see Bess’ Theory of Blue, which states that in anything artistic, all else being equal, people will like the blue one best.) There is, however, a subset of people like me, with yellow or golden, to use the nice flattering copywriter's word, skin and green eyes, who, though they too might like blue best, like themselves even more and know enough to Not Wear Blue. Particularly next to the face.

KnitPicks colors are all very clear and bright. They don't have an olive green anywhere in their entire catalog and only one gold I can remember. This sport weight Pallette colection is all clear colors. No gold, no moss. All the stripes in this sweater are made up of 2 very distinct colors (hues). Most of them are from opposite sides of the color wheel. The one exception is the red and blue combo which are from opposite sides of the warm/cool scale. Thus, there is yellow and purple, orange and green and pink and blue. There are also 3 patterns that pair a neutral with blue and purple (both cool colors) and a very clear, almost cool green. Overall, the cool colors dominate in this sweater, but with enough warm colors to make it work for us yellow skinned folk with some minor adjustments.

My color adjustment mission was to swap out the baby pink and blue band for a warmer one. I held up different combinations to the sweater till I found one that really excited me - that made my eyes sparkle and my lips turn up in a smile. Bingo. A soft yellow and a medium value pink. I sat by the window watching the snow fall yesterday as I knit away with those two colors, feeling smug and creative and excited all at the same time. I completed that pattern and moved on to the next.

It was at this point I began to grow anxious that I may have miscalculated the math for the shoulders. I always grow anxious at this point - in every sweater except those circular yoke sweaters. I set the sweater aside, spread out on the dining room table, and went to get another sweater to measure it against and when I came back, the first thing that hit me when I walked into the room was that peach&petal color band. Pow! Right between the eyes! It popped out at me like the proverbial sore thumb, only, it’s prettier, of course. It really is a wonderfully nice colorway. It’s the kind of colorway that will tempt me to make More Purchases of KnitPicks yarn. But is it something that will also give people a headache when they see me in this sweater. Will its pulsing energy slam people in the eyes with A Brightness that doesn’t fit. Will people (including me) think "what’s wrong with that sweater?"

Of course, it just may be me and my picky old Virgo anxiety fussing around because I didn’t’ follow the instructions, in a pattern I know is wrong for me, even if it was designed that way. Or, like all those lesser astrologers would say, maybe I’m just doubting myself because I am so critical I am even critical of me! It may just be that I need to look at it a while. Think about it a bit. Stare at it. Decide if that added colorway is just what this sweater needed. And that I did the math, if not exactly right, at least right enough to be able to finish this sweater. And my dears. I am only inches away from the end. So close. So very, very close.

And I enjoy working on it so much I wouldn’t mind ripping out and knitting it again - if that would make it better, make it more perfect. (you really must laugh at that thought)

And I am such an ENFP - one of those people who grieve, instead of rejoice, at completion.

So. Today will be a rest day from KipFee knitting. I will think about it. I will show you what I’m talking about later on this afternoon - when I can get to work and post the photos. Feel free to comment about this color choice if you can see these distinctions on your monitor and have any reaction to it at all - pro or con, since my feelings can’t be hurt about this.

And may you get more snow if you want it - and less snow if you don’t - but may you always have Good Knitting.

posted by Bess | 7:46 AM


I know what you mean about sleep deprivation dulling the senses -- I've not slept well (long enough) either of the past two nights, and that really does impact clear-headedness. But, for the last two days I also sat in close proximity to large tables full of yarn for sale, and I'm quite proud to boast that I made no yarn purchases whatsoever. It helps that I'd just rifled through my entire stash on Friday....

By Blogger Mary, at 4:43 PM  

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Sunday, January 21, 2007  

Not feeling very chatty today. Or at least, not very eloquent. My sleep has been off for a few days and that definitely dulls my loquacity.

I am knitting along though - moving on up the shoulders. I am, according to EZ’s instructions, almost at the point where I begin decreasing arm sleeves every round instead of every other. But I’m not confident about those directions and won’t start doing that till I’ve tried the sweater on, which I’ll do today.

I have also made a second serious color change. The overall cast to this very bright sweater is cool, almost blue-ish. There are warm stripes in it, but none of these yarns have any of the gold undertone you’ll find in some colorways. I’m thinking particularly of Alice Starmore yarn, because a friend just ordered one of every AS colorway and I had a good look at it. But there are other manufacturer’s colorways that have that woodsy golden autumnal cast to them. KnitPicks has lots of vivid warm colors, but they’re all very clear - what I think of as California Colors - where it never rains and the light is very bright.

There are 3 bands in this sweater that are pink and blue checkerboards, the last one very near my face. For those looking at the colors in a catalog or in their own stash, they are Sky and Blush. I’ve swapped those for Petal (medium pink) and Peach (light orange). They work beautifully together and create a much warmer band, with a slightly darker tint, and will look much nicer on me than the baby colors.

Photos tomorrow unless it snows - a lot.

I am pleased I got any knitting done at all yesterday because I was so sleepy and I spent most of yesterday in Richmond with Mama for her birthday. I also drove past, or at least, close to 3 yarn shops and really thought hard about stopping and maybe buying just, oh, some sock yarn or something, but in the end I didn’t. I have other knitting plans right now and the yarn for them has already been bought. All joking aside, what really happened was that I was functioning at a slow enough pace that I could really search my feelings, really ask myself "Do you want to buy some new yarn?" and myself had enough time to answer "No. I really want to knit on the projects I have planned." I was feeling and living and thinking and experiencing at exactly the right speed to thoroughly enjoy my love of fiber.

If only I could get to that place with food. I would be just about perfect!

Happy Sunday. Photos tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 9:02 AM


I, too, loved Laurie's post today. I think she struck a chord (nerve?) with just about everyone who reads her.

There's a guy on cable TV called "The Dog Whisperer" -- Cesar Chavez, I think is is his name -- a masterful dog handler, and he's very adamant that all dogs want is to follow the leader of the pack, which is us. Sounds like you're making your dogs happy by being their leader. And getting a nice walk out of it in the process....

Have a great weekend!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:30 PM  

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Friday, January 19, 2007  

M, there is a bird feeder, hanging in front of the next window! Nope. He built a nest in that arborvitae and by golly, he’s going to protect it. But I have a surprise for him. One of these days the arborvitae is coming down or getting heavily pruned into topiary. We hope he’ll feel more secure in a new abode.

I’m thinking about L, who wrote a rare post today about the big Weight issue. She’s a daily read. I adore her writing and particularly admire her fortitude and pluck. Today’s post is another good one - but what got me to actually comment was a twin thing that has happened to us both. She started a daily walk and found that it brought more benefits than a simple calorie burn. I, too, have been walking daily - spurred by the interesting idea of training for a 13 mile walk. For me, that would be a walk home from work. I know I could do it if, say, the world were coming to an end and I wanted to die at home. If enemy attackers weren’t blowing up the world, though, I’d die at home from exhaustion. But what if I could just - oh, say, just start walking. And then get home sometime later. The training program was an article in the January issue of Weight Watcher’s Magazine and I started the daily walk right after the new year. And I am sure it is going to do me a world of good. And I still go to the gym at least twice a week.

But the surprise for me was the added pleasure of bonding with my dogs in a new and wonderful way. I have had all sorts of dogs and mostly they’ve been pretty smart pups. They all learn a couple of magic words; the usual ones like sit and no and come, the particular ones like Daddy and the phrase Up In The Big Bed. But the word that rivals Feed in my dogs’ vocabulary is Walk! In fact, they know that if I sit on the stairs and put on running shoes the Walk word is coming next. They crowd around me, pushing their shoulders against me, licking my hands, tails wagging, with little perked up ears and bright eyes and that doggie grin. If I sit on the stairs to put on other shoes it means I’m going to work and they don’t even bother to get up off the big bed.

Even if I wake up creaky in the morning and think I’ll skip the daily walk, my dogs’ eager pleading gets me out the door. And of course, once I’m out, I am glad of it. We have vast space for dogs to play in. I love watching them wrestle and tumble and play tag across the bare fields. I’ve also been working with Jack, who had gotten in a bad habit of wandering off on the way home. The new routine is for him to roam and wander all he wants on the way out, but when I turn back, he is to heel, and let me be the pack leader. It took 2 days for him to figure out the new rules but he loves them. It’s fun to follow the leader. He pushes his nose up into my hand as I stride. Sometimes he slips forward a bit, but a wave of that same hand and he’s back at heel. I hadn’t realized how good he would feel following the pack leader ... me. You can see it in his eyes that he’s proud and feels like a part of something special.

Well there you have it. You can always learn something new about dogs.

Anyway, all this was prompted because this is my once-a-month got to go in early day. I have to be in the car by 7:30. I know, some people have to be in their offices or classrooms by then, but I work 10-6. This schedule works sweetly for a lark who lives with a night owl. I can have a whole morning full of fun and still have breakfast with BD before dressing for work. But 6:30 on a January morning is way too dark for taking a walk and I have to be somewhere tonight and won’t get home till after night falls. Today we’ll miss our walk and I’m feeling a little resentful about it. Whose idea was it to schedule a haircut at 8 a.m.? How dare somebody invite us for dinner on a Friday night! Don’t these people realize I have dogs!!!

God. I sound more like my father every day.

posted by Bess | 6:32 AM


Love Camelias! That's a purty one! And your doggie is so very cute! And that Cardinal is hilarious! He must get so mad that the "other" Cardinal hits back and never goes away.

By Blogger Mary, at 5:16 PM  

Me again. A thought about the Cardinal. If you hung a feeder sorta near that window, I think he'd get distracted by the seed and leave your window alone....

By Blogger Mary, at 5:17 PM  

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Thursday, January 18, 2007  

Thankee thankee thankee. I sure am enjoying this sweater. So far I’m keeping up with my ambitious schedule. I’ve only a bit of time to post today, so I shall let photographs speak for me.

Here in Champlain South Carolina the camellias are in bloom. And then it snowed.

Here is Captain Jack, so glad Mama stayed home on Tuesday.

And here is BirdBrain the Cardinal. He spends his days attacking his reflection in the window unless we hang a curtain up. Then he can’t see his reflection, but we can’t see anything either it’s so dark on that landing. So we listen all day to Thunk! Thunk! Clunk!

posted by Bess | 3:52 PM


It's looking fabulous, dahling! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:24 PM  

so beutiful!!! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:48 AM  

OH My. Ohmyohmyohmyohmy! Wonderful. :-)


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:24 AM  

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007  

Photos of TheKipFee

Just before ripping - The decreases are what you'd do for a raglan sweater.

What they're supposed to look like- a rapid decrease into the body and a gradual decrease into the sleeve, making the sleeve smaller while the body stays the same width.

Resident quail giving it their nod of approval.

Tuesday morning
Wednesday morning

Proof of progress.

posted by Bess | 10:18 AM


Aw shucks. Truck won't start. Doggone. I can just feel your disappointment. ;-)

Enjoy your extra day at home!

By Blogger Mary, at 3:21 PM  

An extra day at home sounds wonderful to me. I was just glad to have that one day off. Thank goodness for libraries being official "government" buildings, so that we can have the day off.

I know what you mean by the excitement for you knitting almanac. My new excitement for all things knitting is very refreshing and I feel like I have a plan that will keep the year exciting.

By Blogger erica, at 10:44 AM  

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007  

Talk about getting what you ask for. I was walking with the dogs this a.m., wishing and wishing and wishing I could stay home today. Of course, I often wish I could stay home, but today I reeeeealy wanted to stay home. But there was no compelling reason to stay home. Days off are precious and I hate to use one up when I don’t need it, either for a real mental health break, a family emergency or for a special treat. There isn’t anything special about today other than it is today. Another wonderful today.

But the universe heard me. I leave for work at 9:30, after everyone else down here on the flats has long gone. BD had to go to the city today, though and he took the car around 8:30. When I went out to the truck, the battery was dead. The battery starter is in my car - so that if I leave the lights on or whatever, I can get my car going again. Only - of course, I didn't have the car. SomebodyElse had left the key turned half way on - sometime last Friday. There’s nobody within 5 or 10 miles who could take me into town. I haven’t any idea when BD will be coming back tonight. I don’t particularly want to scrounge around for a ride home. Best of all - although it felt like I goofed off all last week, I actually got everything ready for this week, all right and tight. My staff may be a little busy today because our 4th person is on extended leave - but there are still 2 of them. Each can get a lunch break. When no other options are available, they can just check books in and out and put them away. They know I don’t scold about back room tasks. There are no deadlines looming that haven’t already been prepared for. Even though I was never a scout, evidently I’d adopted the code of readiness.

I’m home for the day!

Which means no photos, though I’ve done a lot of KipFee knitting. I’ll post them tomorrow afternoon. But here is the rest of my morning’s musings, written earlier, with the intention of posting it with the pictures.

(wee a.m. hours writing)
M’s comment about all the goal setting around here got me to thinking yesterday. Of course, right now it’s all January, a time of NYR’s and Good Ideas for A Better Life. But there is something endemic about that goal setting stuff - something that runs through my whole life, that lasts the entire year. I certainly grew up in a busy household. We were always doing stuff. My dad held down a full time job, and 2 part time jobs throughout my life. And believe me, we were glad of it - not for the money, though I realize that made a difference. It’s just that, kids never really understand how money works in a household. Parents are always saying "you’re too young to understand that." But Dad’s intense drive meant that he was out 3 blissful, un-monitored and quasi free, nights a week! When he was in the house he was constantly riding herd on us, making sure we were "doing something productive". My older sister once said she could never settle down and read anything more engaging than Glamour Magazine because reading anything that wasn’t schoolwork was Goofing Off, Wasting Time, Unproductive. Perhaps my process knitting comes from that - it wasn’t all that important that we finished stuff - but we sure had to be doing something. We all learned how to look busy while doing nothing. We also learned how to make things and do things and we’ve all filled our lives with that doing.

But I can’t just blame my folks. That busy-ness suits fine, and would have even without that early imprinting. I love doing things. I like to knit and spin. I love dyeing fiber, growing flowers, painting, writing. I like to cook, I like to talk, I like to sing in choirs. I adore exercise, I love teaching and absolutely delight in reading out loud. Gaaa! There are so many things I want to do I am always feeling like I’m running late. I even like working, though it’s beginning to really interfere with important things, like petting dogs.

All kidding aside, there are so many things I would like to try, to experiment, to do, that the overstimulation of options constantly streaming into my consciousness can cause a mental crash - and then I do nothing. Or I never leave the thinking about it stage. The actual doing becomes daunting instead. And that’s where the magic of external structure comes in to play.

I know that an outline, a list, a plan ... a Knitters Almanac, can help me get going, can snap me out of my daydream and into action. The fun of it all is that, now I am a grown up, all this structure is mine; created by me, erected by me, and if I so choose, discarded by me. I don’t have to follow the outline, check off the list, or knit by the almanac. Daddy isn’t there to make me do anything anymore, but the fact that he was all those years ago taught me that the doing was a lot of fun. The happy joy of having this wonderful tool means that - if I so choose - I can try out all the things I think I might like to do.

Yes, M, I suppose there are a lot of goals floating around TheCastle. Probably always will be. In fact, one of the Things I Might Like To Do is that half-marathon training written up in the January Weight Watcher’s Magazine. I’m walking with the pups every day. Here at Champlain, South Carolina, where it is 70* in mid-January, I actually took my shoes of and got into Jacob’s Gut. Not to swim, of course, but to wash marsh mud off Jack so he could come into the Clean House. That is a new activity. I have never stepped into any of our streams or creeks or rivers before April. But if I’m to get my walk in before work today, I’d best be off. Ta!

posted by Bess | 6:28 AM


Sheesh - the month is half over -- where did the time go???

By Blogger Mary, at 3:06 PM  

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Monday, January 15, 2007  

Lots of Chatting at the top. Bit of news at the bottom.

Happy Monday Holiday my friends. I love ‘em so though I do wish the progenitors of all these illustrious ones had chosen to noodle around a little earlier in the year, even if they were living in agricultural times and were too tired after a day in the fields. That way they could have had April and March babies - months when we could really use a day off. But complaining about a little thing like that feels so petty. Besides, the coffee this morning is simply delicious and it’s one minute to 8 and I don’t have to stop playing around, or sipping delicious coffee. Really - sometimes life is just about perfect.

I’ve gotten lots of nice feedback on the Knitter’s Almanac and I thank you all who’ve cheered me on. I’ve really enjoyed reading it myself. Some year’s plans are less appealing to me than others, but this one really satisfies me. I have a printed copy of it (with corrected grammar) that I can read when SomeoneElse is at the computer. So far, this still has all the appearance of a successful plan. Perhaps it’s because it’s not too ambitious, yet it does shine a light on a few unusual projects I’ve wanted to do but found easy to forget about. Perhaps it is because I built in some play time. Three months of it, in fact, when serendipitous urges can mate with circumstantial materials.

But what is making this such a pleasurable thing for me at the moment is that it is helping to keep me on task. I am such an ENFP gal, so utterly distractable, so swift to stop doing this and start doing that right in the middle of - or even just as I am finishing either of them! I know lots of people think being held to a schedule is prison. Especially when it comes to pleasure-not-dooty activities. To those folk I say weehaw and have at it.

Alas, for me, I have almost never cared if I finished something. Once the challenge is over, the design issue or the creativity puzzle or whatever it was that got me to even start a project, I tend to drift away. "Oh. So that’s how you do it." is usually my final statement as I drop a project into storage. No matter what I’m doing I can be called away by the slightest breeze, the briefest sound, even the merest glance in the direction of SomethingElse. I was raking up the leaves in the front yard yesterday. This is a hard task because my lawn is rough, the leaves are wet and my yard is a patch of sunshine carved out of a forest. I have sworn to rake 10 minutes a day till the whole yard is done - probably sometime in mid-February. It’s a big yard.

So there I was in the front yard, with maybe 24 square feet to go and right away my brain said "oh stop here. let’s go dig up daffodils while it’s still so warm out."

I mean. Duuuh!

But then (raking all the while) I thought about being an ENFP, and how isn’t’ that just the sort of thing a look-a-bird type of person would start doing and isn’t it good I wrote that knitter’s almanac and put a frame around my knitting desires and maybe I could do some more project dissecting and assign myself so many rows a day on TheKipFee and would it ever be possible for me to get satisfaction and reward from the act of completion and would I be someone different if that ever happened and before I knew it - that front yard was finally raked. Just in time for a big wind to blow down some more oak leaves onto the grass. But not so many. And the grass can stand up straight now that it’s had some days to dry out.

Well - grass is a fiber!

And I did set a one week goal for TheKipFee of 4 inches: 6 rounds + 6 rnds. for Sn. & Mn. (remember, I’m going around the body and both sleeves right now in stranded colorwork) and 2 rnds. each for T-F. I can do more, but I must do that much. I’d just switched onto one of the checkerboard patterns and I’m decreasing into the sleeves every other round. The set-up of each new pattern is where a real mistake can happen, and with the decreases at the sleeves, I had to do a good bit of tinking before I got it right. Yeah, yeah, I could have counted the stitches, but with 400+ stitches I didn’t trust my counting either. Might as well just find out by knitting.

Happily, I’m on row 3 now and can use the pattern to keep my knitting accurate. I’ll be through with this checkerboard pattern by tonight and will take pictures for tomorrow’s post. At last. A real knitting photo.

Oh Ho! And Important News Follows!

I bought my first yarn in over a year. And what was this momentous important liberating purchase? Well! Thanks to my Knitter’s Almanac, it was this! Plain old white pearl lace weight silk for my February knitting project. But rest assured. It won’t be plain when I’m finished with it.

So. Happy knitting to you all. Photos tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 8:53 AM


Wow, very ambitious plans for the year ahead! Pray tell, what is the KipFee?

By Blogger The_Add_Knitter, at 6:10 PM  

Okay, this is happening far too often. Coincidences between us, as VirgoSoulSisters, that is. When I've tried the last 4 "What Kind Of...Are You?" from your page, I come up with the very same answer! And now this...the Almanac. Though with a twist. You've created your own. I'm trying EZ's right from the start. And though I've read it through before, actually following her instructions is a real challenge! May we both have a Prolific and Productive 2007!


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:53 AM  

Ok, sheesh I can be so dense! I should know what the KipFee is since I'm doing one AND in the kal! Thanks for your message, happy knitting

By Blogger The_Add_Knitter, at 9:33 AM  

Dearest Bess,
What a pleasure to catch up w/your recent blog posts - my blog time has been too dang-gum slim over the past few weeks.
LOVE the idea/plan of the Queen's Almanac. How perfect is that. Look forward to reading about your progress as the months go on.
And the posts re your UFOs - right on target for me, honey bun. I'm working on all of mine before I try on any new project ideas!

By Blogger Martha, at 6:12 PM  

I love the idea of your Knitters Almanac. Coincidentally, EZ's K.A. was purchased recently by me from Amazon (a Christmas gift to myself), and I've read about half of it, so far. I love her writing style, and I even understand some of the techniques she describes! Neat lady.

I can't wait to see how this year turns out for you. Last year was the year of No New Fiber. This is the Year of the Almanac. Always some kind of goal going on over at Bess' place! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 3:04 PM  

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Thursday, January 11, 2007  

At long last, my Knitter’s Almanac.
Of course, since it’s written by TheQueen you have to listen to all the back story first. I was inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Kitters Amanac, which just happens to be the first book I ever read by her. It was charming and interesting and I already knew the very bottom most rudiments of knitting so I could read it as literature. But I had never seen knitting instructions written in that unique Zimmermann style before. I couldn’t figure out much of what she was talking about and when I got to the longees I just gave up. I’d borrowed it via InterLibraryLoan and just sent it back. Later I heard about Knitting Without Tears and gave that a go, but it wasn’t till I saw her videos that I became a convert.

From time to time I’ve checked that book out again. My library owns its own copy and I don’t get stumped by her directions anymore. I am not nearly as prolific as she is and couldn’t imagine knitting a whole shawl and 2 or 3 sweaters and all those other things in a single year. And she gives real knitting tips in each month too - which I doubt I’d have to offer anybody. But there are those who, like Ben Franklin, write almanacs for others to follow and there are those of us who do the following. I intend to play both roles with my own Knitters Almanac and I’m writing it for deeply personal reasons.

There are some things I really want to do. And there is one thing I really don’t want to do. I need some sort of time table to follow if I’m go have my heart’s desires in this matter, some external structure to help me get where I want to be, come December of 2007. First the Don’t since there's only one. I don’t want to be knitting Christmas gifts next December. Every year I end up with stiff fingers from trying to get those blanketyblank knitted socks done in the midst of all the festivities. I’ve usually been working on some interesting project that has to be put down and forgotten for weeks and then retrieved from the basket and pondered over while I try to remember what I’d been doing with it. I love the tension and excitement of Christmas but not when it whirls around my knitting needles. A pair of socks takes me a week to knit if I’m serious about it. There are 3 people who want them at Christmas. There is one poor fellow who never gets them. I shall dedicate one month to knitting socks and I intend to have 4 pair of them lying in wait - one for each loved one and a spare ... just in case.

The Do’s are several. I want to finish at least one sweater for me. I want to knit a pair of art socks - I think of them as D’Artagnan Socks. I will explain that as they grow on the needles. I’d like them to be ready for the MS&W competition. Finally, I want to make a color wheel. A hand dyed, hand spun, hand knit color wheel. I’ve toyed with this idea for years, ever since ‘03. At the 06 KR Retreat, Teva Durham gave me the final piece of enlightened creative technique I needed to create this. It’s time for me to giiiit uhpoffit and make it.

And so, without further ado here is TheQueen’s Almanac for 2007

January: Finish The KipFee. At least, my dear ones, I shall devote the bulk of my fiber efforts to that project. I’m getting near the vulnerable quitting point for a Queen’s Sweater. I often get this far and stop working on a sweater, growing dissatisfied or nervous or worried, mostly about the answer to the Dread Question ... Will It Fit? There is a subset question; Will It Look Good On Me? In the case of The KipFee, it does fit. I’ve already pulled it on. And it has so many colors, it’s so busy, it looks neither good nor bad on me, but only like TheKipFee on me. It rather defies any value judgments. It is what it is. Beautiful. Colorful. Nobody will look at me in it, they’ll only look at it. Not something I would want for my entire wardrobe, but for this one special garment, it’s just the ticket.

But a knitter can not live by stranded colorwork alone. There will be those times when a little diversion knitting is called for. Something mindless. Something that, if I could knit without looking, I could knit without looking at it. Therefor, when I have knit 5 inches of the shoulder portion of TheKipFee, I may cast on the mate to BD’s Woolease sock. He deserves to have at least one pair of handknit socks and I’ve already finished the first one. This is a sock that I may take my time finishing. I have enough needles to lose a set in a delayed gratification project.

February: I will cast on the D’Artagnan Socks. You will hear about them, but probably not see them till closer to MS&W. Sometime this month I shall have to order in the yarn I’ll need for them - maybe I ought to look for that today. I must also knit a prototype for a class I’m teaching in March and I’m to provide kits for that, so while I’m ordering sock yarn I may as well order everything I need for those kits as well.

I will continue to plug along on The KipFee since January is already 1/3 over and I have all 10 inches of the shoulder area to knit plus the neck and button band and the darning in of all those ends in the sleeves. Happily, I enjoy darning in ends. I actually saved that part for last, to prolong that delicious last period of anticipation that comes just before you get to wear a sweater. Nevertheless, TheKipFee will become a secondary project, getting only one or two days of attention a week.

March: Lace seems to be knocking at my door of consciousness whenever I think of March. It may be I ought to concentrate on heavy, hot, wool-in-my-lap projects while there is still some cool weather about, but I just see March as a month of lace and I even see the particular lace I have in mind - beautiful varicolored red lace mohair bought 2 years ago for a song, knit into that second scarf in the Victorian Lace Today book - the YO, K2tog thing with the knitted on edging. I’ve never done a knitted on edging and I’d love to try one. This looks like an extraordinarily fast project. It is also beautiful, truly lacy and it calls for exactly the amount of laceweight yarn I already have. If it goes as fast as I hope it will, I may knit two of them.

April: I would like to finish up one of my UFO’s in April. This is a good month to actually do whatever I decide to do with the Stained Glass Vest. April will also be for finishing up any loose ends that may be dangling on TheKipFee (I hope not) and the D’Artagnan Socks.

May: I intend to play only with the pretty things I buy at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I don’t know what I’ll buy so I don’t know what I’ll play with. This will be the Month of All New Things.

June: I very much want to knit a sweater from yarn I spun myself. I should like to devote all of June to spinning. I’ve begun several yarns from stash, all of them pleasing and nice. I’m not sure which one I’ll cary to completion, but June belongs to my spinning wheels. I offer no guarantee I will set all knitting aside. Even in a spinning month there needs must be some sort of knitting available and it must not be too hot. June can bring 99 degree days in Virginia – or cold rain. We’re the south. But we’re Virginia. If there is to be a knitting project in June it shall be those Harem Pants I’ve been toying with for ever and a day. This will be both a design challenge and a skill builder. I have never knit pants but I have the sweat pants pattern that was in IK a few years ago and I also have More Small Sweaters, which has a tights patterns. This project will require a Purchase from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. This can be arranged, I am sure.

July: This is the month of Christmas Socks. I have a commitment to knit at least 3 pairs of socks each Christmas and an extra pair for me or someone else won’t hurt. Nothing else but sock knitting in July.

August: For many years I’ve talked about making a colorwheel from hand dyed, hand spun knitting. This is the year I intend to do it.

I didn’t get to take art classes as a child. Most kids only get one artsey opportunity and mine was music. I was ahem-ty before I ever made a color wheel by mixing the primary colors with each other plus white, blackand grey. I was enchanted. From that moment on I’ve wanted to make one in my medium; fiber, using my skills; spinning and knitting. Dyeing is a messy activity, best done out of doors, unless you’ve got a Real Studio. Spinning is a wonderful summertime activity – it’s not a sticky hot process. Teva Durham showed me how to do the actual knitting, via short-row intarsia magic. This sounds like a perfect August project.

September: Ahh yes. My Birthday Month. That means there should be something treat-like about this month’s project. This being the case, I hereby give myself permission to do anything I want in September, depending on what feels like a treat to me. Work on a UFO? Start up Bricca the Aran? Begin something new? The only important thing about September knitting will be that it’s high on the Treat-0-Meter.

October: I want mittens. I want fingerless gloves too. Perhaps someone else will want some as well. Mittens and fingerless gloves take about as long as socks. Of course, I may be knitting on something real, (a.k.a. a sweater). Maybe a sweater I started in September. But one needs Other Things to knit on when real knitting feels burdensome. Mittens would be good to work on in October.

November: By the time November rears it’s wint’ry head, I seriously suspect I will be knitting on a sweater or some other bit of Real Knitting, something decided upon during some equinautical weather shift or perhaps chosen during October’s harvest festivities. If I am not, I shall begin a shawl, for I have yarn for two of them and I’d really like to have one. Something snuggly and cozy to cuddle into during the long winter months. Both alpaca and a delicious mohair blend lurk in those lovely blue tubs in the den. Both of them yearn to become shawls. If a previous piece of Real Knitting has already staked out the month of November, my mindless knitting will be lace cuffs. I like knitting lace. I want some lace cuffs to slip beneath ordinary sweater sleeves and make them fancy.

December: It is my fervent hope that I will not, with my abundant free knitting time, try to knit MORE Christmas gifts for unsuspecting recipients. My desire is that December be Freedom Month. The month when I may diddle and fiddle and dabble with whatever strikes my fancy. Or keep on working on some project that would otherwise have to be put down, and perhaps forgotten about, to fulfill my self-imposed gift obligations. Or start 2008 Christmas socks if I just can’t endure a December that doesn’t include Sock Knitting.


Here you have it. A year of knitting. A year of good ideas. A plan for knitting. Not carved in stone, of course, but knit, of fine elastic wool that can give with circumstances, or even be ripped out if need be. But that will stretch to fit a life full of the joys of fiber.

posted by Bess | 5:05 PM


I guess this is sort of a semi-delurk since I have left comments occasionally. Love your blog! When you don't post I get worried.

By Blogger Larry, at 1:09 PM  

OK...I had to go to the big PC dictionary to find out what the heck "de-lurking" is. Now that I know...I admit it, I'm a lurker, I lurk daily! Yep, love to lurk. Sometimes I just don't have anything to say after lurking. Today is the exception however...Love you,miss you wish I was home so I did not have to lurk!

Hugs to you Bess,

By Anonymous Patti, at 2:07 PM  

Not a lurker...I comment from time to time...but hi anyway.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 2:23 PM  

De-lurking. Do any of those projects that you had in the previous post have 10,000 stitches on the needles at the moment?? 10,000 stitches is fine in a sweater but not cast-on at once.

By Blogger erica, at 7:09 PM  

What, me, lurk? No way!

XOXO to you, Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 7:39 PM  

HI Bess, I comment from time to time but I read you when ever I get a chance. Your one of my first blog stops when I have free time . . . which according to my "assistant" is almost never ;)

By Blogger Martheme, at 11:45 PM  

Hi Bess! Yes, I'm lurker...a very frequent lurker, and I'm finally posting. Let's see if I can stop lurking and start typing.

Have a great year and keep on knitting!

By Anonymous RipKo, at 12:55 AM  

And Happy De-Lurking Week to you as well.

I read a ton of blogs each week but comment on so few. I need to get better about that.

You'll have to let me know the next time you plan to come to Richmond. Don't forget if it's on a Wednesday, that's when my knitting group gathers. We'd love to have ya join us!

By Blogger Beth, at 10:18 AM  

Well, as you know, I'm never shy about commenting, and won't be here, either. I need to acknowledge delurking week on my blog, too, so I can get an idea of who actually reads the darn thing....

By Blogger Mary, at 2:39 PM  

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Hey! According to C, this is National Delurk week. I remember a delurking day maybe a year ago. So, all you fans and readers - leave a comment. Feed my ego.

posted by Bess | 10:40 AM


When I first saw the antlerless reindeer, I thought it was a sheep getting ready to take a bite out of some kind of fluffy shrub.

(And, like you, I worry about "Old" blogger going away - especially without sufficient warning. I have too many posts to change over at this point and I hate to think of starting from scratch and losing all my archives. Because even if no one else reads them, sometimes I do.)

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 11:18 AM  

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007  

Some photos - and one of my favorite cartoons

This is what happened the first time I tried to knit. And the first time I tried to knit stranded colorwork. Not only did all the reindeer lose their antlers, but all the stars exploded and the Christmas trees toppled. Every time I look at this sketch I laugh again.

I also realize it may only be funny to me. But this is my blog.

This is the Mountains of Lace UFO out of shedding Brooks Farm yarn. It's soft. It's delicious to touch. It's gorgeous colors. It's a pretty lace pattern over another pretty lace pattern. It's just a wonderful garment except....

Yeah. It sheds. And there isn't enough to finish it. It has a 5 month reprieve. I'll decide after MS&W if it will have a life in my wardrobe.

This is the stained glass vest. It just needs a decision and I think I will schedule a Deadline Decision Date for it in the next day or so. I'm very pleased with the colors, the slip stitch pattern and the yarn. Just don't care for those bat wing shoulders.

This is Bricca the Aran - a scan of her, which is why there's that glare in the center. I don't even remember which cable I hate knitting so, but I know it requires me to do some fancy needle work. Even ordinary cables demand a lot of your attention and since they are perfectly lovely too - this one is for the frog pond. Soon, too.

posted by Bess | 2:58 PM


Ah, what looked green to you looked gold-ish to me, and I remember we talked about the odd color and how british it was and I went OH! and pulled out a Starmore book and there it was exactly... so I was meaning the color was Starmore, not the pattern. :D

I had a very similar thing happen - a leaf lace that was to be on cuffs and hem moving up the bodice of a sweater, and I started swatching, and the next season someone else published it... so I have absolutely no desire now. Meh.

By Blogger Amie, at 12:38 PM  

Oh la! You're right! I remember that color card. Well. Nothing will ever get me to call that color antyhing but canned pea green.

By Blogger Bess, at 4:05 PM  

Hang in there, Queen Bess. I don't think they'll be shutting down Old Blogger anytime soon, but, just in case, you might consider backing up your old blog. I'd recommend doing that on a faster computer and with a faster internet connection than what you currently have at home.

I must admit that I've had MUCH better luck posting pictures to my blog, now that I use Firefox as my browser. We'll see if that changes when I switch over to Blogger Beta. I may just try a test blog, first, before attempting to migrate the real thing. (Thinking out loud here. You often prompt that in me...).

By Blogger Mary, at 4:35 PM  

I set up my new blog as a test blog and ended up keeping it. I like New Blogger so far. I considered going to my own host but I really don't see the need. I'm not THAT creative.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:28 PM  

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More UFO Talk

You silly, A - you are always welcome at TheCastle. As for that first NBP - it wasn’t a Starmore sweater or yellow either. It was the color of canned peas, which is why I could get 11 balls of it for a song. There’s a funny bit of surprise ego that popped up with bit of knitting - which I was never all that serious about making into a sweater anyway. You see, I wanted something to do for a NBP but my brain was truly not functioning on all cylinders. Remember, my goal for the year was to get drunk at MS&W! I had been extraordinarily ill that autumn with the heart cath and all and the spine problems, after the spring of the heart attack and the winter of the wedding. Lawasee - I do heap my plate, don’t I?

Anyway - I had that yarn. I’d always wanted to knit the Peri’s Parasol pattern in Barbara Walker. So I started a sleeve cuff and knit a sleeve, just to sort of see what it became. I even knit a sweater hem band in the same pattern - but I was never really all that serious about that sweater when, lo - somebody else took that same lace pattern and knit it into a KnitPicks sweater pattern and I just felt - what the heck. Somebody’s already done it. My idea! Stolen away by a like mind! Harumph. Well. I’m not bothering to knit it now. Who knew my ego would be caught up by something so trivial?

That one doesn’t count as a UFO. It was always just a go-along get-along bit of knitting. It’s just a nice pile of yarn with some of it knit into a shape. Real UFO’s are things with Finish somewherein their name even if it’s not scheduled on any calendar yet. BTW, that Peri’s Parasol pattern splays out widely so if you use it as a border treatment, be prepared to decrease a lot if you switch to plain stockinette stitch.

As for the Sigvaldi - obviously, it’s abandoned for more reasons than just being too big. Something about it doesn’t feed my hunger. It's always easy to pass on things you don't care for. Only its state of almost completed makes me reluctant to frog it. It’s a seamless yoke sweater out of the Lopi book. It can’t be seamed without having to do some pretty strange things to the underarm area. It would far better serve the world as a Gift Item. Dulan or something like that ought to get it. Maybe they will. Whatever, it is last on the list of Things I Might Do in 2007.

There are photos of all these UFOs but Old Blogger was doing database maintenance yesterday and I couldn’t load a thing. I live in fear of OldBlogger getting shut down. I don’t want to loose LikeTheQueen and I suspect it’s too big to move to the new format. I like the name. I like the fact that it is big and full of the past 4 years of my life. I don’t mind that it that the World-0-Digitheads is constantly looking for NewNewNew, but why do they have to destroy the old? - Old being 4 years ago, mind you, not like, say, from 1952. I am not sure what I’ll do if they slam the door on OB. I may switch to some other blog host. I may turn this into a WebPage instead of a Blog. After all, if I have to learn all new tricks, I might consider learning someone else’s new tricks.

But if blogger will let me post photos you will get to see the abandoned ones. There are no progress shots of TheKipFee because only B came into town for knitters night last night, and we went to a restaurant instead. We had a freak snow storm - huge flakes that looked like pieces of paper streaming at your windshield for about an hour. Nobody felt like coming out except my intrepid friend, who left home before the weird weather hit.

The rest of the UFO’s all have their place in my future and you can be sure I’ll share it with you as the days march past. Ta.

posted by Bess | 6:44 AM


Okay, NOW I'm caught up on your blog!

Your list of UFOs is decidedly small, embarrassingly so, compared to mine -- you should be proud. You should also take pictures of them and share them with us. ;-) I'll bet your UFO list will be even smaller before you get to MS&W this year.

And when you type of your stash lists to put on the outside of your fiber bins, make a copy to keep with you when you go yarn/fiber shopping, so you'll always know what you have. Maybe even take a picture of the bin contents and put that on the outside of the bin, and also have that with your portable list, for possible color-matching....

Yep -- my word verification is, you guessed it -- smenita. Wonder what that means. Hope it isn't a Flemish curse word or something....

By Blogger Mary, at 6:08 PM  

Re the too-big sweater, could you cut the sides open, remove the excess and seam it back together?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:26 PM  

Will I be welcomed back to the castle if I ask about the Starmore yellow sweater that was NBP from the retreat 2005?

My list is much, much longer than yours, and yet I've decided to start all new ones this year. But I'm hoping a stringent schedule will aid completion...

By Blogger Amie, at 11:05 PM  

If I can go from over 12 WIP's at one time down to 2, anyone can do it. And I agree with anonymous, sew the "seams" of the sweater to slim it down so that it fits and then you'll practially have a brand new sweater.

By Blogger erica, at 11:43 PM  

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007  

Blogger is undergoing maintenance. This may post. It may not. There are photos for this post, but I can't upload them. Check back tomorrow.

Those UFO's

Those of you who know and love me also know I adore external structure - of my own making, of course. Like any good pod-person I don’t particularly want someone else’s structure slapped onto my life, although as a cusp-virgo I do appreciate and am willing to indulge long proven societal structures like, oh, say - driving on the correct side of the road and paying utility bills. January, with its weather enforced stay-at-home time, its feel of fresh and new and clean, after removing the faded holiday trimmings, and in some years, with its blanket of white snow hiding the sad brown of the garden, only reinforces that longing for sleek, tidy, efficiency. I’ve hit the house and now I’m ready to tackle some other projects. Let us start with the dread UFO basket.

Of course, there is no single basket of UFO’s but I do have 5 unfinished sweaters that deserve attention. Let us give them some and see what can be done about them.

The first is last year’s Brown Sheep Hand Paint sweater - the one I call Bishop - just because that’s the word its monogram calls to mind. BSHP. It languishes because I am afraid it will be too clingy and too short. Not that it’s too tight, because it’s plenty big. But it’s knit in a Brioche rib that is so stretchy and so snap-backy (ooo I love being able to make up my own adjectives) it makes me look like striped sausage, wiggling. It’s beautiful yarn. It’s a delight to knit. It’s cute. It would look great on me if I were at my ideal weight. I haven’t yet given up hope that I will be at my ideal weight before warm weather. It is almost done. I will be able to practice mattress stitch - something I have only done on swatches. It deserves completion.

The next is Brica the Aran - a gorgeous lump of cabled Debbi Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn that has hidden in a bag since 2004! Why? Because I hate one of the cables in it. I can knit it but it’s needlessly complicated and does not add enough to the design to justify making it all 40 times or however many the pattern demands. I am going to rip that out, block the yarn and design my own aran sweater that has more rational cables that will create the same snugly Irish Colleen with a Color Attitude effect this mean sweater gives - just without the pain.

My Mountains of Hearts lace cardigan knit from Brooks Farm mohair blend is a problem. I am positive there isn’t enough yarn to finish it. Brooks Farm yarn is a limited run product. Even if dye lots weren’t an issue, the folks at BF don’t necessarily carry the same colors every year. Also, it sheds. A lot. Almost wickedly. I’m not sure I’d ever wear this sweater for fear of growing fur on my other clothes.

And yet.

And yet, I’ve knit most of a sweater with it. And it’s pretty knitting. It’s a darling design all of my own. What to do? Well, my options are 2:

Rip it out and give the yarn away. A possibility. I still have the pattern. I could knit it with something that doesn’t leave a trail of hair.


Take it to MS&W with me this May and match it with something that will give me enough yarn to finish it. I would still have to rip a lot of it out, all the solid color, in fact, but that was an extraordinarily easy bit of knitting - it went very fast. If I had another skein of closely matching color I could do some sort of stripy, every-other-row kind of thing that would probably just enhance the hand painted color effect. I actually yearned to follow this option last year, but you all know - I couldn’t buy yarn last year. I can this spring, and this is probably what I’ll do. After I spend some time with the sweater to determine if I can live with the shedding issue.

Then there is the cathedral windows vest knit from purple Aurora8 and my first handpainted hand spun yarn. It was abandoned because the shoulders wing out like a BatMan costume and make me look ridiculous. This is not a difficult fix. I can do it with scissors or I could rip out the shoulders. The trouble is - I could also knit those armhole edgings all the way down to cuffs and make it a sweater. And I can’t decide. Perhaps I need to set a deadline for deciding on that one and then play Nike and .... just do it!

Last of all is the poor old Sigvaldi who is just waiting for a little neck treatment and a button band. That one died on the vine because I knit it when I was a good bit heavier than I am now - and I’d knit it sort of oversized to begin with. I would hate to think that I’d grow fat enough to fit it again. It’s a lot of stranded color work. Not worth frogging. Too many little lengths of yarn. The sleeves are way too short to give to any of the men in my life. I should just finish it and give it away if I can’t figure out how to incorporate it into my life.

Well. That one can just be put away to be thought about tomorrow. Or even next year
- at Tara.

So. There are my guilty secrets, laid out on the table. Only 5. Not too bad, for a procrastiknitter, an ENFP with completion issues. If I can whittle down 4 out of 5 this year I will be ecstatic. If I can eliminate 2 of them I’ll be tickled pink. I believe I am ready to start putting together my Knitters Almanac for 2007. Look for it soon, at a castle near you.

posted by Bess | 6:46 AM


After I posted the comment about the Studio Book, I re-read your entry and realized my mistake. If the book doesn't work for me (and it sounds like it might not) I don't have to buy it.

I have a gazillion piles of paper too, and I have just started going through and throwing out. It's a great feeling to see the surface of my desk again! (It's been a while.) Thanks again for the inspiration.


By Anonymous Judy, at 4:53 PM  

Hooray! I'm finally caught up on reading what I missed out on your blog over the past couple of weeks.

One of my vague goals for this year is to declutter, but I'm sure I'll procrastinate a lot longer before getting around to it!

(And there's that pesky "smenita" word verification again...).

By Blogger Mary, at 5:54 PM  

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Monday, January 08, 2007  

Yipes! No B&A photos. No new knitting on The KipFee. Poor me. No posting either – since I’ve been sleeping late late late in the mornings. That feels good, though. Obviously the body is just taking what it needs and leaving the life to play catch-up.

And TheLife insisted that I deal with those piles of papers. I’m still in the flush of January Organizitis and I could not let brown paper bags secreting important and uninportant papers linger in corners or under the bed. Sunday afternoon became Get The Paper Out time and I tell you, it feels delicious to be able to walk from one room to the next and find ZERO piles of papers - at least, not in view. There is one pile of paid utility bills that do have little folder homes to go into and will command about an hour of my time, and the bank statement comes this week along with the (gulp) Christmas VISA bill. But beyond that, I may breeze into 2007 clutterless.

I can think of no gift I could have given myself that means as much.

Tomorrow there will be more fiberly news.
Now I can begin work on my New Year’s Good Ideas.

posted by Bess | 4:59 PM


Sorry to hear the sweater is going swimming . . . love that you were willing to see where the decrease took you though, always good to try something new, even if it doesn't lead where you want to go, a knitting scenic route ;)

I'm having a contest on my blog, the prize is a choice between cashmere and handspun alpaca so come on by and have a looksy.

By Blogger Martheme, at 10:33 AM  

Last year I didn't get around to writing down my resolutions until Chinese New Year, which was around Feb. 15th. I may end up waiting that long again this year, too -- we'll see....

Okay, this is very strange -- I've had the same word verification word ("smenita") for the last four or five comments I've entered. Blogger is nutso....

By Blogger Mary, at 5:50 PM  

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Sunday, January 07, 2007  

The recent full moon flooding my bedroom with its silver light has interrupted my sleep the past few nights, leaving me groggy in the morning and short on time for writing. Yesterday was Christmas tree removal day, always a day of mixed emotions and depleted physical resources. It also always becomes something of a mini-fall house cleaning. Especially when the day is sunny and the windows are grimy.

But you ought to see my sparkling beautiful house now! Not only is the living room all ship and shape - I swapped out photos and pictures and washed that front window where all the sun comes in - but the kitchen is fresh and the stash has yet to creep out of it’s confining bins and boxes. I ought to give a party!

All this hustle and bustle has left me very little time to organize my thoughts into anything like NYR’s - those happy, focusing, year defining Good Ideas that I so love to put together every January 1. Mr.Horoscope assures me. I need not fret. And I’m not, mind you. But I am thinking of an afternoon of pulling thoughts together and giving them a paper home.

As we settle ourselves more snugly into 2007 I thought I ought to let you know how TheKipFee is doing. Alas. She has to take a little dip in the frog pond today. Like many knitters, I set my personal knitting project aside while I worked feverishly on Christmas Gifts. When I picked her back up again, I began decreasing into the shoulder section, taking little bites out of the body and, in brain dead sock toe decreasing mode, I decreased every other row.

MAAAAA. Wrong!

When knitting a seamless circular set in sleeve sweater you are supposed to decrease every row to get to shoulder width quickly. So. Who says so? Hmmm. Well, Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests so but we all know she would never insist. It’s just that ... I agree with her. Mind now, every-other- row decreases are very pretty. Everything was looking nicely slanted - but the sweater kept saying "OH! Are you going to make me into a raglan? Hmm. I thought you hated raglan sweaters. Are you sure? Do you really want to do this. Remember what you look like in a raglan sweater! Shouldn’t you take out that last row? Ooops. Wow! Well. You’ll have to take out 3 rows now. Yipes! If you change your mind it now it’s 9 rows to reknit. Stop. Stop! Stoppppp!"

I actually heard her before last night, but I kept saying "It doesn’t look all that bad. Who says the decreases have to slant into position so quickly? Perhaps I shall invent a new shape of sweater. A new look."

Wrong. I hate the way it looks. I don’t want a raglan - even if that is a very easy sweater to make. If I were going to make a raglan, I’d have done the decreases differently. So, finally, as I made the color change to that solid fawn colored band, I accepted my fate. We are going swimming today. Fortunately, the jet stream has remained in Canada this winter. It was 70 yesterday and sunny. Sort makes me think I’m living in South Carolina.

I’ll photo the mistake knitting, and try to get in some correct knitting so there will be a B&A set tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 9:10 AM


Dear Judy who commented day before yesterday - please check The Studio Book from the library - it's not a good book for fiber arts studio wannabees. In fact, it's a dissapointment to me - all glossy photos of extremely California studios. No how to information at all.

I'd had high hopes for it but it was a dud.

By Blogger Bess, at 1:57 PM  

My new blog template came with a variety of links in the sidebar. I would never have bothered to edit the old one. I want to add a book link too, but I haven't gotten there yet.

By Blogger Catherine, at 9:28 PM  

Gorgeous sunrise pictures! I'm glad you're taking your camera with you on morning walks!

By Blogger Mary, at 5:40 PM  

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Thursday, January 04, 2007  

Here are the missing B&A photos.
From this
to this

Impressive, is it not? Let us hope it lasts a bit. But do not think that tidy boxes a studio make. The goal is still a real honest to goodness studio.

Like C, I've the urge to put in a fitness sidebar sort of thing - and if there is time to fiddle with the blog I may make one. I am following the half-a-marathon training routine suggested in WWMag's January 07 issue. Today was walk a mile in 20 minutes. This first stage is a fairly easy workout for me. I'm already able to do 2 miles in 30 minutes and there doesn't even seem to be a 2 mile stretch anywhere the first 2 months. Well. This is a generic program for everyone from couch potato to serious walkers.

I'm doing this in addition to my other workouts at the gym. Part of the reason I'm routinizing things is so that I can get outside more and play with the dogs more. And see a whole lot more of these sights.

That white dot is the moon - at sunrise. Whew. Beautiful!

posted by Bess | 12:59 PM


It must be a Virgo thing, but a well-organized stash and work area is a beautiful thing to behold. Good work!

Oh, and you have inspired me to go on a fiber diet for the year! Thank you!

By Blogger Heidi, at 6:47 PM  

I received your card in the mail today, thank you and what a surprise.

I'm seriously considering doing a knitter's almanac of my own. I already have four months figured out - February is socks, March is lace, April is a shawl, May may be aran afghan squares. I'm not sure how this is going to work, but we'll see where it takes me.

By Blogger erica, at 10:37 PM  

You've inspiered me to do a little organizing this weekend! jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:04 AM  

The night before I read about your organizing, I had just started to organize my office/knitting studio and have been making plans with my daughters to do this all around the house. The basement is our biggest job and is supposed to become a studio for all, with the girls' help.

Your organizing is further inspiration. Thanks! (I immediately went across the street to the bookstore and ordered the Studio Book! - can't wait til it arrives.)


By Anonymous Judy, at 10:42 AM  

Ask and I shall receive -- pictures of your organized stash. Nice job!

By Blogger Mary, at 5:36 PM  

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007  

How could 4 delicious days off disappear like this! I am supposed to go back to work today. What an imposition!

Well, at least, there is a part of me that feels like that. There is another part that’s saying "whew, thank goodness for the routine of work - and I wonder what new books are going to come in today. And happily - it’s only a 3 day week. I could go forever with 3 day work weeks, I believe. And all joking aside, there are Things I want to do today - like posting these before and after photos:

(don’t you just love B&A photos?)

On Sunday my life went from this
to this
From this
to this
and from this to this

Hmm. There is another set of b&a photos - but blogger is clogger today.

It’s not a studio, but it is a step in the right direction. There are fortylevendyhundred other things I feel like writing about - well, there are about 3 things, but when I write about 3 things it tends to use up 44,000 words and I haven’t time to write that much today. I found an interesting challenge in the January issue of Weight Watcher’s magazine. It’s a mapped out program for walking 1/2 a marathon - 13 miles. I know I can walk 4 miles because the round trip from home to Robert’s Landing to Melvin’s road and back home again is 4 miles. But that’s an ambling walk and I’m tired afterwards. I like the idea of being able to walk to town. I’m not at all interested in competing or even in being "challenged" by someone else - especially not some magazine editor. But I adore the scheduled, mapped out program for building up to something really big. That step-by-step (;>) project to go from here to there in a year is tremendously appealing. I’d like this to be in addition to any other workouts I do - something new and different. But tonight the really cool jazercize teacher will be at the gym after work and I don’t want to miss that class - so - if I’m to do day 2 of the program - I have to do it in the a.m. And so. I am off. But I leave you with Ms. Horoscope today - here is the one for my Virgo sisters - click on it to read yours.

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)I have a friend who is a complete and lovely Virgo, and her 2007 is shaping up to be a changey year, full of adventure in the quiet, controlled ways Virgo loves. People forget that Virgoes do love an adventure, because ya'll are more quiet and personal about it, which is not a bad thing. Your 2007 To-Do is a part of that: Do indulge your wandering gypsy side. There is a part of every Virgo that wants to be free and go forth to learn, and see new things, and get the chance to know more than anyone else. SO GO DO IT. You have a big brain, and you often are a know-it-all because, well, you do know a lot. (Capricorns give you a run for the know-it-all money). This year you'll have a life-changing move, it's in your chart. Make it matter. Your 2007 To-Don't: Don't let your quietness (about finances, or emotions, or sex, or a problem you have with your car/job/spouse) keep you from getting help if you need it. Even if it's just reaching out to a friend, or going to a good mechanic or doctor, don't keep something quiet that could be helped by talking.

posted by Bess | 3:10 PM


Last year I didn't intend to buy more yarn, but I did. In October I started knitting from my stash as a plan, and it's absolutely great! Why was I saving that wonderful yarn?

You've inspired me to try again, however, and (with the exception of Stitches West) I hope to succeed this time.

By Anonymous diann, at 9:07 PM  

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007  

Thank you all for your kind words. It really has been a learning year. For those of you considering buying no yarn for a year - I promise you - you won’t be sorry. You will learn so much about yourself. And there will be magnificent yarn waiting for you when it’s all over. Of course, you wouldn’t be considering this if you didn’t already have an enormous stash, right?
I haven’t yet made any New Year’s Resolutions yet this year. Odd, since that is one of my favorite things to do on January 1 and it was a deliciously rainy 1/1/07, just perfect for mapping out a whole wonderful world of tomorrow. But I didn’t. I did other wonderful things that danced around the idea of resolution writing but nope. nope. And this morning Mr.Horoscope - who has been fairly uninspiring for months - had this to say:
Making a plan for 2007 is like wandering into a new restaurant and ordering before you have even seen the menu. Now, you are a clever Virgo. You probably think it is easy to order without a menu. Most restaurants are fairly predictable. As long as you know the type of fare that they offer, you can hazard a reasonably good guess about what's in the kitchen. What, though, if a surprise treat was also available? Wait till you know a little more before you make your big choice about the year.
Nice to know I’m so in touch with my stars, hmmm?
I am half inclined to say I resolve to photograph more and write less - but then - the whole reason for this blog is to write my heart out and get a little feedback about it all. I guess you’re stuck with Little Miss Loquacity for another year. But I will be back tomorrow with photos of the Great Stash Organization Project. And maybe a list of Good Ideas for 2007.

posted by Bess | 8:14 AM


Brava, Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 10:23 AM  

Dearest Bess,
Congrats on making your 2006 stash dreams come true,
Thanks for the inspiration you have given all of us.
Lotsa XOXO to you.

By Blogger Martha, at 2:03 PM  

Happy 2007, Bess! It's nice to know you can buy fiber now, even if you don't feel the need right now!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 3:54 PM  

You are an inspiration, Your Majesty, and I plan to follow in your footsteps this year. No yarn in 2007. Don't need it, do need to focus.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:22 PM  

Whew - I can finally exhale. I've been holding my breath for you since the KRRetreat, hoping you'd get thru the rest of the year honoring your vow. I don't know how you did it, but what an accomplishment. You should be very proud - I am!

Happy New Year - Love Ya!!!!

By Blogger Beth, at 9:50 PM  

Yea Bess. Congrats.
I got some bins from Wal-mart yesterday though not so many as you. I feel like a slacker.

By Blogger Jeri, at 11:42 PM  

Kudos, to you, Bess, for successfully reaching your goal. I'm hoping we get to see pictures of the stash, sometime in the near future....

By Blogger Mary, at 5:28 PM  

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Monday, January 01, 2007  

The Year of No New Yarn, Fleece, or Fiber


and may it be a happy one for us all. I’m certainly expecting it to be. I have so many happy plans and ideas and thoughts and wants for 2007 I feel like this could be a year of 365 birthdays with Christmas thrown in as a bonus. I’ll share plenty of them here, but I feel that, in honor of spending one whole year on a yarn diet and only slipping up once - with sock yarn, there should be a recap, an assessment and a statement about my Year of Draconian Sacrifice on this New Year’s Post. Here it is and it's Classic Bess - long and without photos. But I think the subject deserves a full treatment.

In late 2005 I was suddenly brought up short by the realization that my stash, purchased with excited anticipation, was languishing in the den, all but forgotten, and that my shopping had become a sort of addict’s frenzy instead of the pleasurable satisfying of a desire. This vague sensation that I was out of control had the unhappy effect of preventing me from buying the things I wanted, like a Dale of Norway kit. This fear began to sap my confidence as a knitter ... "Oh, I probably couldn’t knit a whole sweater for me on size 3 needles". Instead, I’d purchase just a ball or two of something; you know, I can always make a hat from it. Yeah. If I am ever in need of a fifteenth hat.

It was time for drastic measures and thus was born the Vow Of No New Yarn, Fleece or Fiber. There’s a copy of it on the January 13, 2006 archive page, along with photos of me being sworn to it by our county circuit court clerk. It’s all very official and legal, with signatures and witnesses. I have the document in my office at work, framed and flanked by those photos. The idea was that I would knit only from my stash and for every ball or ounce of fiber I used up I could put that $ equivalent into the savings account for a Golding Spinning Wheel. Carrot and stick. Clever, no?

So. How did I do? What did I learn? Do I have a wardrobe full of handspun handknitted beauties?

First off - I would say I did rather well. I did slip up in August and buy some "guy colored" sock yarn for an auction item I intended to donate - and then did not, because there were already too many items in the auction. That yarn became Christmas Gift yarn and I feel only slightly disappointed about this one slip, because I really didn’t have any manly colored sock yarn and with my men that means Navy, Grey, or Brown. So, I shan’t say it doesn’t count - but I shall say, that one purchase counted for little and at least did not become a part of my stash.

I right away cast on a sweater from the stash. Alas, I haven’t finished it yet. It’s of my own design, a very deeply ribbed sweater that stretches gloriously - but clings just a little too close to my curves, which are more convex than concave these days. But diet and fitness are a wholly different issue and shan’t be discussed here. I shall only say finishing it will be a good exercise in seam sewing.

As the year wore on, though, it became apparent that I was far more interested in the carrot - that Golding Wheel - than the stick - knitting up my stash. Not that using my stash is a punishment, mind you, but my attention became riveted on That Wheel. The focus became laser sharp when BD said one Monday morning, after a weekend of discussion, "Well, then, order it today."

Order it today. Such simple words. Order a spinning wheel that costs as much as a used car or a semester of college tuition. Bring into my life something rare and expensive and precious ... to play with. There is, of course, more to the story, like my frozen lungs and elevated heart rate when he first said "Sure, you can get that wheel." I didn’t believe that one. Nor the other one, when I asked "Did you really mean I could buy the Golding wheel?" I mean, what’s the poor guy going to say?

"Nah, I was just messin’ with you. Psyche!"

He’s not a jerk. He’s Southern. He is genetically programmed to say to his womenfolk "Duz my puddy babee want that liddle ole wheel? Sure sugah, let daddy get it for you." This was not the first time we’d discussed Golding wheels, so he had an idea of what they cost. I heard the gulp when he answered "Of course I meant it."

It was only after he’d had a chance to explain to me how we could put a brass ring around my Ashford Elizabeth and that would create the extra momentum and I was just paying for all that carving and how did that make my spinning any better, any easier .... and, as I searched for the words to explain how much the beauty of that carved walnut moved me, I burst into tears and wailed that the carving that looked like Jacobean crewel work and our house was the same style and it matched the tile wa-all in the ki-kitchen - and then he said "Oh. I hadn’t realized it meant that much to you." Ah. It was after all that, that I believed it when he said "Order it today." Because then I knew he wanted me to have it as much as I wanted to have it.

And after that, my Year of No Yarn Purchases seemed to have lost a lot of its steam. With no more carrot, there didn’t seem quite the same push to knit up the stash. There was still the vow, mind you and I was serious about keeping that. My pride was involved. And I had already begun to feel the calm that comes from not "having" to buy More More More Yarn. But I was less focused on getting to know and use my stash. In fact, my dabbler instincts blossomed into a whole garden of teensy bits and weensy ideas, itty bitty samples and snips and snarls of experiments. Though I knit a good number of socks and hats, I didn’t finish another thing in 2006. Rather sobering thought - that.

There were a few moments during the year when it was difficult to Not Buy Yarn. At Maryland Sheep and Wool I passed on the bumps of Blue Faced Leicester that I so yearned for, even though the booth owner told me she was retiring and wouldn’t ever be back. Some of those fleeces were just as difficult to resist. But I had girlfriends, sworn to prevent me from buying any fiber, watching over me. And then, I was actually picking up my new wheel at the festival. I was able to resist.

Most of the time, when I found myself in a yarn shop or at a festival, I hung around the books and accessories. My library expanded a good bit this year - but probably not more than it would have ordinarily. It did take real grit and willpower to resist at Fall Fiber Festival, not only because I was watching J’s silks and sock yarn disappear like dew in the sunshine, but also because the booth across the tent from us was selling The Very Dale of Norway Kit I’ve been lusting over for years! The very sweater that got this whole NoFiberDiet started! Fortunately, I was knitting socks with J’s sock yarn and the bad weather meant she hadn’t brought out any of her spinning fiber. Whew! At the KRRetreat I just made a swift pass through the vending area and then left. No point in putting myself in temptation’s way when there were only 8 weeks left.

I had built in 2 caveats, back doors, out of this monastic fiberlessness. If I came across a bargain so fantastic only an idiot would pass it up, a friend had promised to buy it for me and hold it till 2007. I knew I’d think reeeeeealy hard before I’d ask a friend to spend her money on me. Fortunately, it never happened. I could also receive gifts of yarn - and I did. Beautiful yarn from L and J for my birthday and from BD, the KnitPicks Palette sweater kit. This was in late September and on the 30th I cast on the 300+ stitches on size 3 needles for that beauty. I’ve joined the sleeves to the body and am working my way up the shoulders - or I was up till about Thanksgiving, when I switched to Christmas Sock knitting. I finished Mama’s socks while I was visiting on Saturday and left her sighing blissfully in her gorgeous warm elastic hand knit socks - Mama with her tired diabetic feet - Mama who will get More Socks Soon! Maybe even for her birthday.

Since then I’ve given some thought to my next purchases, though, and strolled about the net looking at sites. Socks that Rock yarn is high on the list and J’s got some cream colored rare breed wool that really does want to be a winter jacket for me. The choices are many and varied. BUT!

What about that stash? That stash I was supposed to honor and love and care for and all that. And use up! What about that?

As I said in yesterday’s post, that poor stash had actually gotten worse over the past year. It was messy and sloppy and there had even been some m**h damage, discovered earlier in the summer. And so, I spent yesterday reorganizing my stash and putting it in protective containers, stuffed full of fragrant herb and cedar sachets. Any suspect fiber went into the trash bin. There are 6 22 gallon tubs with content sheets taped on the outside. (well - once I type up the content sheets from my handwritten notes they’ll get taped on.) There is an under-the-bed storage bin that is all sock yarn and leftover small balls. There are two shawls a-borning in my imagination. There is silk to be spun into beautiful lace. There are even More Bins, smaller ones, needed for inside the wardrobe, so that its contents can be labeled and retrieved as well. Everything I own looks well cared for. It looks appreciated. It looks loved!

Best of all, I’m not being driven by some frenzied need to buy yarn. I don’t have to buy anything at all today. I had thought I should have to make at least a small on-line purchase to mark the day. Instead, I want to go knit on what I have! And since I’m planning on doing more of what I want to do this year, I’m not buying any yarn today. Who’d have thought?

So. What did I learn?

* You can go a year without buying yarn, fleece or fiber
* Carrots are a good idea but be prepared to be hungry if you eat it right away.
* Be prepared for the emphasis to shift over 12 months. Lots can happen in a year.
* The idea isn’t to prove you can endure denial, it’s all about doing what you said you wanted to do when you bought that yarn in the first place.
* A big sweater on size 3 needles is not beyond my capabilities. (Yea! for this, since I want to knit a lacy sweater from that Austerman Barkerole cashmere/silk/merino on size 3’s)
* I really do love my stash and I need to take good care of it. (Sounds like studio talk to me.)

Am I glad I did this?

You bet! I’m really glad I went cold turkey on the shopping. It’s nice to go to Richmond and not have to go to a yarn shop. Or go. It’s the have to part that I’m glad to be free of. I feel like I can give myself the time now, to really decide if I want something - and when I want it. Yarn isn’t going to disappear like it did in the 1980’s. Even if it did, my stash is big enough to last me till the next knitting craze comes around. Besides, I know where the secret serious fiber world lurks and I can get there from here.

I think my relationship with yarn and fiber is healthier for having taken a breather from the shopping. I have a sense of peace about yarn now; a sense of freedom, even of wealth. It’s what I was hoping for when I made the vow last year. So - I guess you could say, not only did I keep my resolution, but my dreams came true.

May it do the same for you.

posted by Bess | 9:13 AM