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Tres Chic Veronique


...and math hates Rowan right back.

I'm going to give you the good news first: I have another FO! I didn't blog about this at all, although the Spiders have seen me work on this. It's a scarf for my very patient sister. She chose the yarn way back in August, a 200 yd hank of super hairy mohair at a rug store in Taos, New Mexico called Weaving Southwest. Yes, it's a rug store. They sell beautiful handwoven Navajo rugs and weaving yarn. But, they have a small collection of knitting yarn, called Rio Grande Yarn!
Now, I doubted that 200 yds was enough to make anything... I thought of knitting it on very large needles to get an airy effect, but would I have enough yarn? Would my 14 year old sister think a holey handknitted scarf is cool? Would she "accidentally" lose it? I had doubts. Then, I found some Rowan Cashsoft in *exactly* the same color at the Point! The next step was to find a good 2 color stitch pattern. I remembered a swatch at Knit NY, made in black and white Cascade 220. It looked like little stars, and the stitch pattern was called 2 color star stitch. I googled it, found it, and there you go.

Now, on to the bad news. Rapunzel is driving me up the wall. I'm hesitant at every step. Sarah informed me that Rowan designs are huge and that I had to knit one size smaller. So I frogged my size S front (aka the largest swatch you've ever seen) and started making the size XS. Eeck! And whereas before, my knitting was larger than theirs (ie I was following instructions for size S, and was getting size M measurements), now I've considerably tightened up. Maybe too much? I think this front is *too small*. But I'm not sure. You see, the travelling ribs add a nice 3D effect, with the K2 columns forming ridges, and I'm afraid that blocking to the correct size will flatten it... See how nice it looks with no blocking?
Also, this crazy Fair Isle every 4th row means you get tons of ends to weave in. Since you use your contrasting color only on RS rows, that means you have to cut the yarn after each Fair Isle row. Which means weaving in 2 ends per Fair Isle row. Ouch.
I had one little trick up my sleeve: I cut a length of yarn long enough for 2 rows. Then I fold it in a U shape, and start knitting from the middle to one end. On the next Fair Isle row, I pick up the yarn at the middle again and knit to the other end. Therefore, I only have 2 ends to weave in instead of 4! The WS still looks uh, shaggy. Check it out: I'm sure the french and french-speaking girls who are starting the Rapunzel knit along could help me, but they're not starting until April 2nd!

By Veronique
On Tuesday, February 28, 2006
At 2/28/2006 11:32:00 AM


Rowan hates math

I love love love Rowan designs. Especially Kim Hargreaves and Jean Moss. (Note to Kaffe Fasset: why use 17 colors in one sweater? Because you can? I don't get it).

My mother gave me 8 balls of Kid Classic over a year ago (for Christmas '04 to be exact), and it's been sitting in the stash ever since. It is destined to become Rapunzel, from Rowan 34. This yarn is beautiful and perfect and the balls are perky little ovals. They look like fresh bread: they have some substance but are warm and soft inside. You think I'm exaggerating? When Jess popped into the Point last monday, she petted it. Anyway, I knew I would enjoy every minute of its' $10.50-a-skein goodness. I was waiting for just the right moment to start knitting, when I could relish every stitch.

So, instead of finishing all my WIPs, I decided to finally cast on for Rapunzel. You know, I needed a little "me" knitting! Hell, I haven't joined the Knitting Olympics, I can knit what I want when I want! I had the pattern, the yarn, so I pulled out my US 7 needles from my sister's scarf (sorry Mona!), and just went for it. I stalled immediately. I could not remember how to do the K/P long tail cast on. Good thing Steph was there to teach me... Still, I messed it up several times. Seriously, it took me half an hour to cast on 68 st. Finally, I moved on to the chart. On the 2nd row, I realized I was knitting K1P1 ribbing instead of moss st. I tinked. Just one row, that's not too bad, right? Then I went cross-eyed trying to follow the chart, which contains:

  • moss stitch
  • travelling K2P3 ribbing
  • 2 cables
  • my old nemesis, fair Isle
It took me most of the afternoon to knit 10 rows. I apologize to Steph and Lisa who had to listen to me complain the entire time. They even wondered whether the Point sold magnifying glasses. But! Once I got home, I got the hang of it and knit another 20 rows. Woo hoo!
That's when I started to realize that my sleeve was *really* wide. And the pattern schematics do not specify how wide the sleeve should be. (They give you one number, one number only: the length of the sleeve. Why, Rowan, why?!!). I cannot calculate the sleeve width, because their gauge is given only for moss st (20 st = 4"), but not for K2P3 ribbing, and not for the cable. I emailed Rowan and asked them how wide the sleeves should be. Here is their answer:
The sleeve width will have been calculated in proportion to the rest of the
garment. If you have achieved correct tension on the back of the garment
then it is assumed that you will have the correct measurement for the rest
of the pieces.
Not very helpful.
So, I decided to measure my gauge swatch, which I knitted over a year ago. I know, I know, why measure a swatch *after* starting the knitting? First, I didn't want to waste time measure a stupid swatch at home, I wanted to hop on the subway and get to the Point. (Please do not point out the obvious: I could've take the swatch with me). Second, if you knit a swatch and it's the wrong size, you'd knit another swatch on needles one size larger or one size smaller, right? Since I knitted only one swatch, I must've been on gauge. QED.
You guessed it: my gauge is completely off. 18 st instead of 20 st/4" on the suggested needles, US 7s. Argh!
I ripped. *sob*

Here is what I had, pre-ripping:
I then started a new swatch, on smaller needles (US 6). I was relieved to see I got gauge!! Stitch gauge that is... It occured to me that since I'm following a chart, I better get row gauge too. Rowan's row gauge is: 30 st = 4". My row gauge is 38 st = 4".
Don't. Even. Ask.

I've spent my entire lunch hour making all sorts of calculations so that I won't end up with a cropped Rapunzel. Basically, for the fronts and the back, I need to knit 140 rows up to the armholes instead of 100.

I had the brilliant idea of googling "Rowan Rapunzel" to see if anyone else has knitted it and has words of wisdom or comfort. Bonne Marie has, but she's shuffled things around on her blog and the link is no longer active. Then, I found a knit-along! In french! http://knitrapunzel.canalblog.com/
The hostess, NiniePuce, just started it, so there's nothing there yet. I feel so relieved that I am not alone...

But, you know what? This whole Rowan melodrama has left me exhausted. It's happened before, with Butterfly. The chart was wrong, which Rowan denied (scroll down to my pic), and it took me forever to figure it out.
So, I made the executive decision to knit on the Somewhat Cowl. Aaaah, plain old stockinette!

By Veronique
On Wednesday, February 22, 2006
At 2/22/2006 04:22:00 PM


my Olympic goal

I decided not to participate in the Knitting Olympics because the only goal I could think of went against the rules. (And no, drug testing has nothing to do with it).

The Olympic ideal is to cast on for a single, brand new project during the opening ceremony and finish it by the closing ceremony. Now, this makes sense: it's very easy to cast on for a project, but not too easy to actually finish it, so the Knitting Olympics is a good way to ensure you will actually finish something. Plus, you get to read everybody blog about it. It turns out that I have plenty of half-finished projects lying around in my living room (surprise!). So my personal Olympic Goal is to finish all these damn projects already.
And, boy, have I been busy!

Here are the tipless gloves:
commissioned by my SIL for her sister,
Pattern inspiration: Holiday Knits tipless gloves
Pattern details: from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Knitted Patterns
Yarn: 1 ball plus a smidge of another ball of Baby Cashmerino, in color "wine" (which doesn't look like wine to me, it's a grayish lavendar).

A teddy bear baby sweater:
again, knitted for my SIL's sister
Pattern: Fuzzy Wuzzy by Monkey Suits
Yarn: GGH Esprit purchased from Jimmy Beans Wool. (who were super nice, by the way. I bought the color specified in the pattern and got a big surprise. Perhaps GGH has been changing the way they dye yarn? At any rate, the yarn I ordered was a dark yellowish-brown, not at all beige like in the photo. But Jimmy Bean exchanged it right away!). I am currently knitting away on the hat. Oh, and I haven't made the toggles. But that will be a snap on my i-cord machine, right?

I'm almost done with my mother's rainbow sleeping socks (knitted in Regia Nation sock yarn, the "nation" in this case is "fun nation", which cracks me up; plain toe-up pattern):

I have a couple of other projects to finish. I have until sunday, right? Back to work!

By Veronique
On Tuesday, February 21, 2006
At 2/21/2006 11:56:00 AM


Special Mittens strikes again!

I got a third postcard from my Secret Pal (not that I'm counting...).
It's a special Valentine's day pattern! Now, I know she's british, and I also know that the brits love written out instructions. I stared and stared at the pattern and could not figure out what it would become.
Quick! Excel to the rescue!

Awww! It's hearts!

PS: labels are super easy to order. Just google "woven labels" and you'll find tons of places. To tell you the truth, I don't remember if I went with www.ablelabels.com or with www.charmwoven.com. There's also www.namemaker.com. My aunt designed my labels (and also came up with the phrase "tres chic Veronique") and I just shopped around until I found a company that had a similar font. I think I paid $20 for 30 or 40 labels.

By Veronique
On Monday, February 13, 2006
At 2/13/2006 12:18:00 PM



By now you all know the obvious: it snowed!
Here's the view from my bedroom window this morning
snow at my bedroom window
I took a walk in my neighborhood
64th St bicycles
Then I stayed home and drank mulled wine! Hiccup!

By Veronique
On Sunday, February 12, 2006
At 2/12/2006 08:22:00 PM


new banner

Check out my new banner! My friend Jamie, who is an illustrator, made it just for me. It was inspired by an illustration she did a while ago, of Bernice the Wonder Hen, who can lay up to 20 eggs a day. Somehow, the idea of a knitting hen appealed to me. I mean, I don't know of any other barnyard animal that can knit, can you? And can you tell it's a french hen?! The sunglasses and the beret are a dead giveaway. Maybe I need to give her a frenchified name: Bernadette?
Love it!
By the way, let me know if it's too wide for your screens.

By Veronique
On Thursday, February 09, 2006
At 2/09/2006 12:00:00 PM


is my ADD over?

I finally got my shit together and actually finished a few projects. Can you believe it? Is my knitting ADD really over?

First off, I went to the best zipper store ever: Zipper Stop. I'd heard others rave about it on their blogs and since they're right here in New York (27 Allen St), I decided to bring my 3 (!) zipper-less cardies and have them help me find the perfect zipper. Zipper Stop is a family-owned business, and each family member has a specific role: the mom admired my knitting, the son went searching for the perfect zippers on their huuuge shelves and the dad cut my zippers to size. Love them. (By the way, they told me if you want zippers to match your yarn perfectly but can't make it to their store, just mail a little yarn sample to them!). Now I just have to figure out how to sew in a zipper. Easy, right?

Next, I finished my Vesper socks. I knit them in a mere 10 days in September or October, then had some technical problems: you know how I want to be all clever and stuff? Well, instead of doing boring ribbing for the cuff, I worked a fancy rib stitch which unfortunately is ... constricting. Argh! I tossed them aside and promptly forgot about them. Take that, Vesper socks!
All I had to do this weekend was unravel the constricting ribbing, replace it with plain old (but functional) k2p2 ribbing and add the 2nd after-thought heel. Ta da! As I walked past the Allen Street food kitchen/shelter --feeling smug about the purchase of 3 zippers-- a homeless guy yelled out "nice boots!". I wasn't about to contradict him, but he corrected himself and said "hey, those aren't boots, they're socks! Cool!". Thanks, homeless guy.

(I live right by the 59th Street bridge. See it? )

And I finished the Esther Williams hat, designed by Poor Miss Finch.


OK, fine. I'll admit I *did* start a new project. But only one! I dyed some sock yarn. I was so inspired by Marie's dyeing party, that I deccided to dye some yarn on my own. This is self-striping yarn with 7 rows of black, 3 rows of deep red and 2 rows of pink. I've named this colorway "Carmen" because in my mind, that's what the dangerous and fickle Carmen would wear. I've posed Carmen next to my great-uncle Pierre, who was a dancer at the Paris Opera. How fitting!


The rumor is, Pierre was supposed to be named principal dancer, but the Opera closed during the war, and by the time it re-opened, Pierre was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. My grand-mother claimed that in doctor-speak "multiple sclerosis" actually meant "syphilis". And with good reason too: when their mother died, my 14 year old grand-mother had to quit school, take care of her siblings and do all the cooking and cleaning. The youngest sibling got farmed off to a godmother but they both contracted tuberculosis and died within a year. My grand-mother's father, a scout for the Opera, was never home. However, the worst affront came from 16 year old Pierre, who, instead of helping my grand-mother, found an endless supply of older women to uh, take care of him. Looking at that picture, I'm sure we can all understand why...
Don't worry though, in later years, they did reconcile, but talking about Pierre is somewhat taboo in my family. I always imagined him to be hedonistic and a little impudent, although I know he eventually calmed his partying ways and married. Maybe Carmen will inspire some naughtiness?

By Veronique
On Monday, February 06, 2006
At 2/06/2006 11:55:00 AM


My Secret Pal Rocks

(Warning: I think I've blown my monthly quota of exclamation points in one post).

I got a package from the Royal Mail! It's from my Secret Pal, Special Mittens!
It contained a gazillion goodies:
You thought I was exaggerating when I said "gazillion"? Seriously, there's 7 (seven!) types of candies there!! My absolute fave is the "Pocket Coffee": chocolate filled with syrupy espresso. This is GENIUS. (You'll also notice licorice, which I loooove, and roses made out of ribbons and a stretchy sequin thingy and Brighton Rock candy which I've never heard of but is delicious, let me tell you).
*And* she made me a cake cookbook, called "Special Mitten's Guide to Cake". It is beautifully decorated with japanese-inspired prints. Here's a exerpt:
"Naughtiest brownies", he he he...
*And* she made me a bracelet! It was all wrapped up in gold lame fabric. Ooh! Shiny! Me likey! It's i-cord with big pink glass beads. I love its non-subtleness.
SP bracelet
*And* the piece de resistance: Candy-colored yarn! It's a candy theme!
candy yarn
Special Mittens found this yarn in a shop that was closing, and she liked the idea of yarn living for so long in the UK, then travelling all the way across the ocean to come to rest in my greedy little hands. (Well, she didn't use the word greedy, but I know what I am). This yarn is very fine gauge, and although Special Mittens suggested I make socks, I'm thinking ... lacy shawl. I don't want an intricate lace pattern to compete with these beautiful colors, so I might make a very simple shawl. Plain old garter stitch? Boring! Hey, maybe I'll make an adult version of the Pinwheel blanket! Hmmm...

By Veronique
On Wednesday, February 01, 2006
At 2/01/2006 05:08:00 PM