Sunday, March 30, 2008

VK Lace Shrug Errata: Writing the Wrong

My apologies go out to irritated readers of Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer '08 who wanted to make this Lace Shrug. Sorry for the inconvenience. Just as W said about the Iraq war, "mistakes were made"... on my pattern. Use the instructions for assembley from VK, but go to VK's website for pattern corrections:

I met with Lisa B. from VK to go over some errata on my shrug pattern. We compared her notes to my Excel files. The sleeves and the cuff start off OK, then towards the end of the pattern they spiral downwards into mechanical error. Oddly enough my stitch count was still correct, regardless of how off the pattern was — mystery. I told her I'd go back to my written notes and compare them to my Excel files.

I went through the pattern line for line and made the shrug using Lang "Silk Dream" (5 balls @ 90 mt) starting with the sleeves. From what I could tell, my notes were correct. But as I typed in a correction to R72 in my MS Excel file, the "auto write" filled in the cell with text from a previous line! When I keyed a correction on another line, the same thing happened again. I found the culprit — Bill Gates is ruining my pattern! I found "Enable AutoComplete" in my prefs and turned it off. FINALLY! I can go back to making my own horrible typos with gusto. So I went back to my pattern to make corrections counting each stitch and row as I wrote into my file.

As you can see from my photos, the corrected pattern works. All things check out on the sleeves, the cuffs and the back panel. This pattern was written as a small/medium size using Tili Thomas "Rock Star", which is a medium weight silk yarn. Using Lang's "Silk Dream", it turned out to be a small/petite/eat-something-you-skinny-girl size. This is due to it's 50 merino/50 silk content. I haven't written this pattern for other sizes, but I have plans.

This rust colored shrug is currently hanging in Stitch Therapy's storefront window.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Knit PH at Freddys: March 16, '08

I was going to join The New York Fashion Design Meetup Group, but when I looked at the group bios I realized that they are all real working industry people. And judging from their photos I probably outweigh most of them by at least 20 pounds. Meanwhile at Knit PH at Freddy's...

Does this look like a blighted neighborhood to you?

It was a packed Sunday evening in the back room. Freddy's bar owner Frank Yost pointed at the back room doors and said "They're here." The knitters took over the back room and the German Language Studies Club eventually settled at the bar in the front, possibly planning to overtake the French Language Studies Club at Soda. Meg is near the end of her apple green baby blanket. She has a little Linus Van Pelt anxiety, we measured it a few times to be sure it was square, checked right and wrong sides... and eventually she'll bind off.

"How how much longer does Freddy's have?" Meg Asked.
People often ask that question. It's a tough one to answer. We knit in Forest City Ratner's alleged Nets Arena footprint under the threat of eminant-domain. Can knitting get any darker? According to the Gehry architectural model, Freddy's is where the back escalator will reside. Freddy's has four more years left on it's fifteen-year lease, and the current landlord is in fact real estate mogul FCR. I doubt they'll renew the lease. But recently in an ironic twist, the Atlantic Yard's project has sunken into a much deeper mess, not due to our boys in Albany doing the right by the people, but due to the slumping US economy. Financial news reporter Maria Bartiromo used the "R" word as the Canadian dollar became equivalent to the US dollar. Shockwaves are still hitting Wall Street as Bear-Sterns suddenly collapsed last week. Their stock fell from a lofty $175 per share to a lowly $2 dollars. And real estate prospectors... uh... I hope you believe in prayer.

A Done-Deal? Or a Dumb Deal?
Tough economic times are taking a large bite out of FCR's Atlantic Yards project as state funds are now being cut. It has recently become more evident that FCR never had any real plans to build "afforable" housing units. The skeletal remains show us that the AY plan would use public funds to pay for a private arena. A greedy developer has enacted "blight" and "eminant domain" for his own personal gain. I'm sure a lot of the money went towards paying lobbyists and a legal team to re-write the definition of "blighted" and "affordable." Early on, if you opposed this declatation of blight/eminant domain, housing advocates such as ACORN and BUILD would say you were against "progress" and future "affordable housing." Now that affordable housing is being excluded from the AY's future, why aren't these advocates speaking out? It's like watching someone get mugged and doing nothing about it. Public advocate groups Develop Don't Destroy Brtooklyn and No Land Grab call AY a "Bait and Switch." According to NY Times, the latest price tag for AY is now estimated at $950 million. (2005 estimate: $435 million). In short this project was never financially feesable. AY has been held up for nearly two years by lawsuits brought on by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Ratner by-passed the usual city assessment of urban developement by relying on political favors from billionaire-buddies, like former Govs. Elliot Sptizter and George Pataki. But now that Governor Spitzer has resigned under scandal and shame, the political climate is changing. The New York Times only hinted at FCR's dire finance problems. But the Brooklyn Paper shot it down bullet by bullet point: "Ratner kills Miss Brooklyn, most of Atlantic Yards" (March 21, 2008). But where is this business plan? No cohesive plan has ever been produced by FCR.

Anyhow, you can't call a neighborhood blighted when it has knitting circles.

I've been playing with some black silk/cotton that I got from School Products. It's actually wound on a titanic 2 lb. cone. It was much cheaper than the smaller hanks but you just can't take that thing with you. So I was the only guy in group this week. Where are you Randy? I brought my hanks down to wind. We had a bunch of new people — some from and some from the hood. Tomo met up with her friend Yona and a few folks she enlisted for her project "The Knitted Room." I think she was knitting a wall or a rug — it was large, soft, and ecrue. Her project is due soon (March 31, '08), I can't wait to see it.

Elle is from Norway (not German she pointed out), she learned to knit as a child and is getting back into the craft with her first sock. I helped her get reacquainted with knitting in the round and rudimentary cables. Her grandmother used to make fine sweaters and other garments. This is right group for socks though, Vermillion is making a pair of sasquatch-sized socks for her fiance. How big is this guy? She found Knit PH on Ravelry, as did ShogunSquirrel. She and Marci are the happy hookers in the bunch. New member Bitsy brought her hoodie in progress (from Rebecca or Interweave, not sure), now all she needed was to finish the hood. It's a very handsome Irish cable sweater made with a natural colored wool. The hood picks up from the cable pattern at the neck. She excluded the bobbles from the pattern. Rightfully so — bobbles are creepy.

Lisa and I spent most of the evening winding up our stash for storage. I have a feeling I'm not going to get to a few projects before spring. I find that if I don't ball it up, it can sit in a bag for years. I finally got to some hanks that I bought from a spinner who I met in winter of 2001. It made it's way up in the bin rotation last year (winter 2007). I made my beer sweater — everytime I've worn it into Freddy's someone knocks a beer on me. Before the evening was up 13 knitters split a freshly baked Red Velvet cake made by Ms. Swiss. It was rich, chocolaty, smooth, and moist. Although it was difficult, we left some for the Germans.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rock Star Wedding

WARNING: VK found errata in my shrug pattern. I'll post corrections shortly. Hang in there people!

I was out buying more cotton/wool for my Baja beach jacket at Stitch Therapy when Maxcine said "Oh, your magazine is in." Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer '08 is finally out on stands! This looks better than I remember — the knit version of Caroline's wedding shrug. Albeit, a stylist and hot-chick model defintely help. I jokingly told Maxcine that I'd sign a few copies for her — "but keep it hush". Some folks were asking about the pattern, I suppose I should e-mail them. For an intermediate knitter it should take 15 to 18 hours and two packs of cigarettes (not all in one sitting). Silk lace makes for slow knitting — tip: support your work on a table so that the yarn (or you) will not stress. To get a true gauge with Tilli Tomas "Rock Star", be sure to wash and block your swatch. This lace shrug is made by knitting two sleeves that are then sewn together at the back. The back panel is picked up and knit down with a series of decreases. The over sized cuffs were based on an Irish antimacaser pattern that I found. A structural band is picked up from the neckline around back. The hyperbolic rose on the back is optional, but I does finish off the garment. For those who are interested I'm on feature opening spread 76-77.

I also just found out that this was Adina Klein's last issue as ME at VK. It's a shame, I thought she really brought innovation to Soho Publications. This publication is beautiful from cover to cover. As I look through the wedding section and ponder, I seem to know more people getting/going through a divorce. That makes me look like a non-committal superhero! I predict the next hot trends will be the easy-knit "That SOB's Finally Gone" shawl, the top-down "I'm Now Availalble" sport pullover, and the fully-frogged "You're F*****' Outta Here" watchman's cap/mop head attachment.

Meanwhile I have to get back to my book proposals this weekend (swatching, washing, blocking, swatching, writing, blocking again, smoking). I think my knit stuffs clever, but how do I convince a publishing company that I'm the best thing since the frozen yogurt 6-pack? Next week I'm in a shoot for the "Knitting For Dummies" video pilot (Wiley & Sons). I'll be known as "that ethinic guy #3". What should I do about that massive paper cut on my knuckle? Short of jumping naked out of a large cake, I'll do almost anything to push a book proposal. I better get started on those sit-ups, there may be a lot of naked cake-jumping involved.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Knit PH at Perk: March 13, 08

Talk about unraveling, Gov. Eliot Sptizer will most likely resign due to a sex scandel with a 22 year-old prostitute that charged $1K per hour. $5K later, the self-proclaimed political "Bulldozer" fell to the very crimes he set out to fight: organized prostitution and tax evasion. This type of thing usually involves a televangelist. $5K? Did she also paint the bathroom and re-model the garage? On the news, his wife stood by him bearing that thousand-mile Dina McGreevy stare. Soon David Patterson, New York's first blind African American governor, will be sworn in. You can't write this stuff. Meanwhile I've been re-writing and correcting patterns for more proposals. Caitlin popped into Prospect Perk after work, same with Emily. Knit PH at Perk seems to be a good stop on the way home, coffee, knittin', hookin', stitchin', bitchin'... etc.

New to the group is Mike, a graphic designer (top photo) or is his name Steve... and is he a photographer? Well anyhow, Steve or Mike? was working on sock #2. I took this picture of him proudly holding his catch-of-the-day. Socks are all the rage these days giving way to more brands of sock yarn. Everyone seems to be big on Noro, but Classic Elite has stepped up its arsenal in the yarn wars. Archie finished that pie-shaped baby blanket (inset). He did a great job, the colors are very nice. He spent most of the evening pulling out the I-chord edge and binding it off with a sewn edge — that man has determination.

Patty Lyons sat for a spell, she is a North Sloper and the store manager of The Point Cafe, a yarn/coffee shop that has the largest group of men who knit. We talked a lot about men's knit patterns. Currently, there aren't many great books. When Patty purchases books for the store she says that a big complaint about men's wear is that it's always the same old same-old stuff, but this time in brown. True that.

Patty has seen the whole lot pass through her book shelves. We both agree that the men's market will never compete with the women's market in this arena. But should it continue to be guided by old market stats? The most innovative men's patterns I've seen are online (, in periodicals (Knit.1, Interweave) and from yarn companies. What book companies push are really men's novelty books. When I've spoken to acquisition editors, the blanket statement is: That market hasn't done well. Here's a reason: subject matter. Oi vey, does anyone really want a sweater to match their dog? Gevault, why is a bath mat or face towel a featured item in a men's book? Feh. Enough of my semi-yiddishisms. Feh. Who will break through this indestructible fourth woolen wall?

Now Lisa, she's been busy with sweaters. I quit calling her Leslie. Lisa is fearless, I asked about that blue sweater she worked on in class. She said "I ripped it all out and made a new one." Like a Shoalin master she has now conquered the blind short-row. I think she's made three of Jarret Flood's "Cobble Stone" sweaters. She's also been playing with a short row pattern called the "Lizard" from It works well with variegated yarn (inset). Tomo invited Chris from the KraftHaus group. Tomo is trying to reach a deadline for a project called "The Knitted Room." She's had some trouble with The Incredible Sweater Machine™ that she bought. It works alright, but it takes a steady hand, a good eye, and probably a bottle of single malt scotch. By March 30 she must create these knit items: a table, chairs, walls, and carpet. It's time to consider enlisting group help or third world labor.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Knit PH at Maha's: March 03, '08

The price of a pizza went up due to a US flour shortage. The $2 slice is now $3. According to news, the price hikes are due to farmers growing more corn for ethanol production instead of wheat for food. I blame corn and Bush. We live in stupid times don't we — property values have soared beyond what most people earn and at the same time that makret is collapsing at a dire rate. The job market is weak but Bush proclaims our economy is strong. What does it all mean?

Meanwhile at Maha's, Archie's baby blanket, keeps growing bigger — it must be about three feet in diameter by now. He's going to finish the edge with an attached I-chord. Marci started a small stuffed dog for one of her illustrators, she's a pro at the hook. Marci designs children's books. Tomo started a new pair of Kool Aid dyed socks. But she has a much bigger project due at the end of the March: a room that is entirely knit from the walls to the table. That makes turning a sock heel seem much easier. Hana popped in for a bite and a sock. Am I the only person not into making socks? They are beautiful though. I'd be afraid of ripping a hole in them.

Our usual Wednesday crowd is small but cozy. I tend to like the smaller groups though. I can hold a conversation and work. The larger groups are fun, but they are more about social networking and sharing ideas. Emily brought her Stitch N' Bitch fingerless mitts for show 'n' tell. I brought in swatch work for Dan's red shirt. I notice that I get a differnt gauge on the weekend than I do during the week. The conversation revolved mostly around food. I had an extra helping of roasted cauliflower with my dinner. Emily said that she made it at home the way Maha told her: tossed with olive oil and salt, roasted for 20 minutes, finsihed with a squeeze of lemon. It's hard to belive that something so simple could be so satisfying. Meghan told us about a kale omelette dish that her mother makes — the kale and onions are seared til they're black. I love winter kale, it's has a complicated sweet and savory flavor. If bacon were a vegetable is would be kale. Meghan was just about to finish the collar on her shrug, but ran short on yarn. I always get one more skein just in case. Her re-order is in the mail. I gave her some bind-off tips.

Spring is around the corner and soon Knit PH will take it's usual summer break. We regroup in the fall. I called the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last week about hosting an ocassional knitting circle. They suggested the free Sunday mornings in the Cherry Espanade. Not a bad idea for a few summer reunions.

Swatch Test

Designing anything takes a bit of detective work. I ventured back into the Dan shirt and I looked at other patterns. I actually finished the front panels and the collar but eventually decided I hated it, so I ripped it into ramen and then let it rest for a few months. I initially did this in Tunisian stitch with a cro-hook, but it was about as thick as a carpet runner. I wanted a pattern that resembled woven fabric. I explored slipped stitches. I went online, hit the books and I found these two: Tweed Stitch (aka Woven / Linen stitches) and the Herringbone stitch. These make sense to me for what I'm doing.

The Tweed Stitch

The Harmony Guides, Vol. 2)
Multiple of 2+1 (#9N)
R1: (RS) K1, *yf, sl 1 pw, yb, k1; rep from * to end.
R2: P2, *yb, sl 1 pw, yf, p1; rep from * to end.
Repeat these 2 rows.

The Harmony Guides are good but they don't suggest needle sizes or yarn weights. The first swatched using #6N and medium weight mercerized cotton (Butterfly Super-10). It was so tight that I couldn't remove it from the needle. Then I used a #7 which was not much better, then went right up to a #9 — now this finally worked. I made a 7" X 7" swatch. After washing and blocking it loosened up to became more wide than tall, but the gauge was perfectly square: 4" X 4" area = 19sts X 19sts.

It's not reversible but I do like the moss pattern on the back side. The fabric is also firm enough to make real shirt pockets not those weird saggy afterthoughts that look like man boobs. The swatches above and below were made from Mirasol Coltani (60 Pima/40wool) from Peru. It has a slight heather and it's super soft. I bought this at Stitch Therapy. I plan to use this yarn for a striped Baja beach jacket in "Charcoal" and "Sunny".

The Herringbone Stitch
There are a few so-called Herringbones. I like one that I found online on a few blogs. I have a feeling it's from one of these ginormous Barbara G. Walker stitch bibles, but I'm too lazy to dig through all of them. This particular pattern lends itself to increasing, descrease and turning, where as the other versions of Herringbone resemble chipped teeth.

Any number of stitches (#11N)
R1: (RS) K2 tog, but... *transfer the first st to the right needle, leaving the second st on the left needle, knit the second st and the next st together; rep from * to end.
R2: P2 tog, but... *move the first st to the right needle, leaving the second st on the left needle, purl the second st and the next st together; rep from * to end.

After a wash n' block, the color softened to a butter color which isn't bad if you don't have food issues. This Herringbone is a modified stockinette. It's very compact and requires 200% more yardage than a regular Stockinette. It works best when worked on larger needles. Casting on 40 stitches, 92 yards of Coltani yeild a swatch that is 6.5" wide by 14" tall (40 sts X 56 rows) on #11N.

All these swatches held well up after washing and blocking three times to ensure stability and integrity. There is some shrinkage but only about 2%. I have no idea what I'll do with this pattern.