Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm mostly posting this so that I won't forget

There is a great bookstore here.

Here is some info about why you should shop there, if you want, that is, even if you don't live in Chicago:

"Our History and Purpose:
Women & Children First began in a modest storefront in 1979. Over the years we've moved twice and recently expanded in our current location into an adjoining storefront. We're in a northside Chicago neighborhood known for its diversity, lesbian-friendliness, women-owned businesses and community spirit. Our staffers include teachers, graduate students, professional writers and storytellers, political activists, board members, and poets. Each of us is a reader, a feminist, and a bookseller. Our purpose in beginning the store 20 years ago was to promote the work of women writers and to create a place in which all women would find books reflecting their lives and interests. We strive to do this in an atmosphere in which all are respected, valued, and well-served. That is our purpose still, online as well as in the store.

We are one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, stocking more than 30,000 books by and about women, children's books for all ages, and the best of lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction. Anything we don't have in stock we can usually get in a few days' time, even if it's a title outside our specialty. We also carry music, videos, magazines and pride products."


If that isn't enough, they have nearly 1,000 hits when you put "knit" in the search box, including many books on pre-order and a lot of titles that aren't out yet and I hadn't even heard of.

There aren't as many feminist bookstores as there used to be. I, for one, want to spend my $$ with people I like. So, when I have a book I can't get at my LYS, I will head on over to this site.

Monday, April 16, 2007

First question

" Alice said...

Thanks for lovely podcasts - I listen while weaving - and thanks also for instructions for the Dragon Skin Sweater, which is gorgeous. The one part I don't understand is: __picking up 8 stitches from the edge of the piece I had just made (the little ear near where the right shoulder-seam would normally be.___ I can't visualize this. Is it at the corner of the saddle shoulder ??? "

The ear is the edge of the 12 rows of knitting you just created, by making the first part of the front, or the back, depending. Basically, you have just made a rectangle (with a piece missing for the front of the neck), and you are picking up around it to continue down with the sweater. So, it is to the right (or left) of the saddle shoulder, and your knitting will continue in the same direction, from this part, as the live stitches from the saddle shoulder.

Bring them on! I want many questions so I can make this as clear as possible without having taken pictures. Even though I am a photographer, I was so entralled in my sweater, I took a grand total of 0 before blocking.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shout Out

Courtesy of Christine!

If you do manage to make one...

Please let me know so I can link to your blog! That would be so great, a little army of dragon skins running around.

Dragon Skin Sweater

The stitch pattern is on page 136 of Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Pick your yarn. I used Galway Highland Heather in a lovely grey. It's a worsted weight, 100 grams = 210 yards.

I cast on 36 stitches and swatched with #5 needles in moss stitch for 8 rows, then switched to #7 for the stitch pattern with 5 sts of moss stitch on each side of the swatch until the stitch pattern section was roughly square, then did 8 more rows of moss stitch with the smaller needles.

I blocked the swatch by soaking it, carefully pressing water out of it, then blocking it out with tig welding wires on a towel, safe from the teeth of my kitty cats (one of who has a personal vandetta against wool of all sorts).

After the swatch was dry, I unpinned and unwired it, gave it a good shake, then laid it out flat and measured the gauge.

My gauge was 5" for 26 stitches (or one pattern repeat) and 4" in 30 rows.

I then measured my back, from shoulder bone to shoulder bone, and saw that it is 15". That is three pattern repeats, luckily. This is a good-luck sweater, and you'll see more of why later.

So, I knew I would need 78 sts for the back of the neck. I wrote this down and launched into the small saddle-shoulders.

If you look closely at the pattern stitch, you will see that it is made up of two 13-stitch sections, facing each other as in a mirror. So, the very very narrowest piece of knitting you an make without completely rewriting the stitch pattern is 13 stitches across. I cast on 15 stitches, as I wanted two selvedge stitches I could slip at the beginning of each row to make a neat edge, and they won't make it very much wider at all.

I measured from where I wanted the neck of the sweater to begin on the side of my neck and the shoulder-bone. It is 5" or about 36 rows. So, I made two little strips of knitting, in pattern, 15 sts wide and 36 rows long. I cast them on temporarily and left the live stitches on stitch holders. You'll see why in a minute.

I then considered the front and back of the sweater. Coming straight down from the shoulder, I would need three complete repeats of the pattern, 78 stitches. I realized that making the pattern line up properly when the sweater was closed would mean splitting the pattern in half, visually, and being careful to work the right half on the right part of the front and the left...well, you know.

I would need 5 (moss stitch edge) + 13 (half a repeat) + 26 (a whole repeat) for the left front of the sweater. 36 of these I could pick up from the edge stitches of the saddle shoulder, right? Wrong. Because these stitches were slipped, the most I could manage was 20 (but don't ask me how, it should have been 18). So, I picked up 20 along these edges and then increased by six in the next row (that's after every fourth stitch, plus one at the beginning).

I wanted a square neck, so I picked up the 20 left-front stitches, increased to 26, then worked 12 rows in pattern. I did the same for the other side. Then I started the back by picking up 20, temporarily casting on 26 for the center back (those 5" again), and picking up 20. I increased those 20s to 26s and worked 12 rows. I made sure the next row was a wrong-side (purl only) row.

Next, I put it all together by temporarily casting on 18 sts, working the right-front stitches, picking up 8 stitches from the edge of the piece I had just made (the little ear near where the right shoulder-seam would normally be, working the saddle shoulder stitches from a holder, picking up again from the edge of the back, working the back stitches, picking up from the other side of the back, working the other saddle shoulder stitches, picking up from the next edge, working the live stitches from the left front, then casting on 18 more stitches. Whew. Now, the makings of a square neck, with a very rectangular top to the sweater. I placed markers where the sleeves were, and that included the picked-up stitches.

I increased once at each of the markers on pattern rows, leaving stitches, when there were less than 13, all alone in stockinette stitch. This is the same rate of increase you would use in a raglan sweater, if the body didn't have increases.

If you look closely, you'll see that I have the shaped areas of the sweater, like the tops of the sleeves and the waist, as stockinette. This did two things. 1) Kept me from going bonkers. 2) Gave me a little more leeway on my fit. Stockinette has a larger gauge than the stitch pattern, at least for me, so having 10 stitches in stockinette was larger than the same 10 stitches in pattern. This can be good for those of us who like to design skin-tight sweaters but don't like to wear them that way.

I worked 36 rows after this pick-up row, just increasing for the sleeves and leaving the body alone. Then, I began increasing the body stitches at the same rate, five times. Then I divided for the underarm, adding 16 stitches under the arms for ease. (Barbara, in her Knitting from the Top Down, said I could add up to 3" of stitches here. I took her at her word).

I arrived at this rate of increase by running a ruler down the length of the blue sweater I made last year, which is in a similar yarn, but is a set-in sleeve from the bottom, ala Elizabeth Zimmerman. I pretty much copied the rate of shaping.

My exact notes from this section of the sweater:

"work body straight until 6.5", begin increasing on RS rows until length is 7.5". Divide for underarm, casting on 3" of ease. Width here = 40". 40-6-30 = 4, need 2" in front to increase to an armhole - 10sts in about 8 rows, make it ten rows, increase by 2 every RS row".

Now you can see why I failed when I tried to interpret my notes on the fly in my podcast. Remember that you have to take into account half of the width of the saddle shoulder when figuring how long the sweater is at any given point. Also notice that I often say width when I should say circumference.

Anyway, what's next?

Divided at underarm, I took on waist shaping, which is that 4" below the underarm, the sweater should be 36" - in this case that means decreasing 10 sts in 30 rows. That's five sets of decreases about every 6th row - every third right-side row. It also happens to be every 1/2 of the pattern repeat, which happens to be very easy to spot in this sweater. So, no stitch markers for me, on the body anyway. See, lucky sweater.

Repeat, in reverse, to round out for hips.

Work 2 more inches straight, divide for "vents" on the side, work vents for 4", BO.

Sleeves - 14" to shape, 3" straight at end, top is about 14" around, bottom is 12", so about 2" or 10 sts in 105 rows. That's five groups of two decreases (again!) or one set of decreases every 20 rows. Then 20 rows straight, then 7 rounds moss stitch on #5 needles.

At the end, or halfway through, I picked up for the neck on #5s (remember all of those temp cast ons) and worked moss stitch, with decreases at the corners to make it lie flat for 6 rows, BO.

This is all for me and will vary with the knitter/yarn/size. Please comment if you have questions and I will do my best to help.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Ok, today I might have time to write out a recipe, which I will do instead of podcasting, unless one of the other 9 or so things on my ABSOLUTELY MUST DO TODAY list take longer than five minutes, which is entirely possible.

But I'm still stopping to answer this tag from plainsfeminist.

A- Available or Single

B- Best Friend
I'm lucky enough to have about a dozen really good friends. It means so much to me and it's a big part of why I love living here.

C- Cake or Pie
Pie, but only if my grandmother or sister made it. Otherwise, cake, because I don't like to be dissapointed by other people's pie.

D- Drink of Choice
COffee, although it's not really a choice anymore, to be honest.

E- Essential Item

F- Favorite Color
Red, hands down, even though I have a tendency to match my red shirt if I get hot/winded.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms
Bears. We used to get them as a reward in German class.

H- Hometown
Tulsa, OK

I- Indulgence
Massages twice a month.

J- January or February
February, it's my birth-month!

K- Kids
Three kitties who I treat like little, furry children. They listen about as well, too.

L- Life is incomplete without
Chocolate, good conversation, dancing, and laughter. - I'm just going to copy from Plainsfeminist, because I agree 100%.

M- Marriage Date
No, Thank God.

N- Number of Siblings?

O- Oranges or Apples?

P- Phobias/Fears
Spiders, barking dogs, illness.

Q- Favorite Quote
"The secret of our success is that we never, never give up." - Wilma Mankiller.

R- Reasons to smile
My oldest kitty snores in his sleep.

S- Season
Winter, when it's not too bitter. I love cold fingers in warm woolen mittens.

T- Tag Three People

U- Unknown Fact About Me
In High School, I was a long-distance swimmer. You'd never know it now!

W- Worst Habit
I am a bit of a control freak and I also say the wrong thing...and talk too much.

Y- Your Favorite Foods
Chicken Dumpling Soup, Nana's Rolls and mashed potatoes.

Z- Zodiac

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Episode 29: How I Started

Today I ramble for a while about how I learned to knit, and then learned again.

I talk about Vintage Styles for Today. I could not find errata for the book, but if you go to the Lion Brand website, you can search for the errata on any given pattern. This is the one for the Wrap Star.

I also try, without success, to interpret my sweater notes on the fly. It doesn't work. I will write it up someday, if the idea to do it doesn't get lost in the bottom of my knitting bag along with a baby sweater, hat and golf club covers.

Download Episode 29

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My e-mail address

Predictably, it is

Feel free to send scans of magazines!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Knit It Magazine

I cannot find a copy for love or money, but in the comments...

comette said...

Hi Laura: Hey! this might be 'old' news, but I thought I would mention it. I saw a "shoutout" in print for your podcast in the current issue of Knit It! by BH&G's Creative Collection magazine Spring 2007, see page 14! You GO GIRL! ~ Christine, Las Vegas.

Does anyone have a copy of this? Could you either scan it or leave a comment with what it says?