Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dickinson Sweater revisited.

The other day I was searching for something to knit. I went through almost every book and magazine I own to find something I wanted to knit. It had to meet a couple of requirements, it had to be something useful, and it had to be something that only required a yarn I already had. I searched for a while, made a couple of guage swatches, but nothing that I started on made it past a coupld of hours. Everything was ripped out (frogged) right after I started on it. Then I remembered a sweater I had started on a while ago. It's the Dickinson Sweater from Fall 2007 Edition of Interweave Knits Magazine. I loved knitting that sweater, it consists of many cables all ove the place. I fell in love with the picture in the magazine and had to make it. The best part is that I found some really nice yarn at Michael's on sale for $2 a skein, it's merino wool and a really pretty red. I bought every skein of the dye lot they had. I thought it was amazing that they had all of these skeins of yarn in the same dye lot.

I had made some good progress with the sweater the last time I worked on it, I'm almost finished with the back. I am a little nervous because I have read on Ravelry that the sweater tends to come out a good bit bigger than the pattern says. But I'm optimistic because I like big sweaters, I'm just hoping that it isn't too huge for me.

There is one tip, I'd like to share with you, I'm sure some of you already do this, but when I am knitting from an intricate pattern, like lace or cables, I like to use post-it notes to keep track of my place in the pattern. I just line up the post-it with the line of pattern I am on and move it everytime I finish the row. I've also found that cutting the post-it to the length of the pattern's row is very helpful.

I hope everyone has a great day and a happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Snowy Day in New Orleans

Northerners might think Southerners are funny, but we really do get excited when it snows here. Of course we don't usually have the messy chores associated with snow, because it just melts away in a few hours.

It was funny this morning when I arrived at work, I was greeted by a group of people watching the snow on the porch in the front of my building and another bigger group standing in the lobby looking outside, trying not to get too cold. When I went inside, a small group actually inspected my coat to see if it was snow or ice. Then one of them told me I should get inside and dry off because I would catch pneumonia. A guy from somewhere up north who is working on my office laughed when I asked him if Southerners were funny. Then he told me how his wife had to shovel seven inches of snow recently.

Its really nice to see grown ups acting like little kids, to see older people with huge smiles on their faces.
The worst part of this morning was that I didn't know it was going to snow, so I didn't bring my knitted gloves or any scarfs. It was the perfect weather for knitted things. Oh well, maybe we'll get a lot more cold weather this year and I'll get to wear lots of warm knitted items. The last time it snowed here was Christmas Day of 2004.

The Golden Swatch

This post sort of compliments the one entitled "The Gauge Swatch" which was released on December 6th. I couldn't decide which way I wanted to present the information. The previous post gives a good description, this one tells a story about Swatches.

There once was a knitter who saw the most beautiful sweater in a magazine. It had cables in all the right places and the elegant way it hung on the model would be perfect for her son’s wedding. She only had a year until the wedding so she decided to get started soon. She went to her yarn shop and found a very soft Alpaca yarn, in a beautiful golden hank. This yarn wasn’t the exact yarn the pattern called for, but she fell in love with the Alpaca and knew it would be unbelievably gorgeous with the dress she planned on wearing to the wedding. She picked up the yarn (the amount called for and an extra skein, just in case) and told the sales lady all about her son’s wedding and how she wished she could see into the future. She wanted to know that the yarn would really be as perfect for the sweater as the picture she had in her mind. She wanted to make sure that when she washed it, the yarn would still have the same shine. She wanted to make sure that the pattern would look as glorious in the cables as the yarn used in the magazine’s version. That’s when the sales lady said “Why don’t you do a Gauge Swatch?” The knitter looked at her like she was speaking another language, being the kind of knitter who always knitted blankets and scarves and asked “What’s a Gauge Swatch?” The sales lady explained that a gauge swatch is a small representation of the knitted project. A swatch is usually knitted in the same pattern as the majority of the project. The Sales Lady then explained that the swatch is sort of like a crystal ball to see the future of your project. A swatch should answer most of your questions about what the finished project will look like and what it will do when it gets washed and blocked (stretched into shape).

The knitter bought the yarn and went home to make a Swatch. Her first attempt was definitely much bigger than the Gauge called for in the pattern, and she knew that washing it wasn’t going to make it any smaller. Then she switched to a smaller needle and the next swatch was just about perfect. She washed it and blocked it just as she had planned on washing and blocking the actual sweater. The swatch looked a little different, but it was even more beautiful. She measured the washed, blocked and dried swatch again and it was just the right size. Very excitedly, she started knitting her sweater. In just a few days she had made great progress on the back. She knitted every free minute that she could and in a few months, she had a sweater. She tried it on for her son and he was very impressed with her work. He was so impressed that he wanted her to make a white one for his fiancé’s going away outfit.

The knitter went to her favorite yarn shop and bought a beautiful silk and wool blend yarn. She knew that her future daughter in law would love the decadence of the silk. Ignoring the need for a Gauge Swatch, the knitter went home and started on the sweater. As she was working on the back of the sweater, she realized that something was not right. She knew that there was no way the huge sweater back would ever fit her petite future daughter in law. At this point, she realized that the yarn was a little thicker than the Alpaca she had used for her sweater and knitting a gauge swatch would’ve been a very good idea. She couldn’t bring herself to rip out the knitted sweater back, so she picked up another ball of yarn and some smaller needles and started on her gauge swatch. After she was finished, she took great care to wash the yarn exactly as the directions on the ball band told her. She was a little flabbergasted when she realized that the yarn seemed to have grown. It was bigger now and she knew she would have to go down at least another needle size. She went down two needle sizes, hoping that would give her the right gauge. She carefully repeated the knitting, washing, blocking and drying of the yarn. This time when she measured the swatch, it was a prefect four inches, just like the pattern had called for. Ecstatic, she started on her future daughter in law’s sweater. This sweater went much quicker, she could tell she was becoming a better and much more efficient knitter. This sweater was finished in a couple of months. She washed and blocked and let the sweater dry. Then it was time for the moment of truth. Would the sweater fit her son’s finance? She immediately called up her son and told him she wanted to take the happy couple out to lunch. They agreed to meet at their favorite restaurant for one pm. Then she carefully folded the sweater and placed it in a box. After lunch, the three of them went out to the knitter’s car, where she presented the beautiful bride to be with the sweater. It fit perfectly, and at that point, she realized why her son loved this girl. Her future daughter in law was actually giggling because she was so excited that someone would actually spend all that time to make her such an intricate sweater. She told the knitter how amazing this sweater is. How she wanted more than anything to learn to knit.

At the wedding, everyone knew how much the bride loved the sweater, so no one was exactly surprised when at the reception; the bride put the sweater on over her dress. With a big smile on her face, the bride gave the knitter a big hug and said that this was the best day of her life! When it came time for pictures, the photographer asked if the bride wanted to take the sweater off, so she could show off her lovely wedding dress, but the bride said “no, I want all of the pictures to have this sweater in them.”

After the knitter’s new Daughter-in-law and son left, she started getting compliments, on how beautiful both sweaters were and how talented of a knitter she is. That night she went home and started knitting a new sweater, a smaller version of her sweater, just in case the newlyweds were blessed with children.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Gauge Swatch

My absolute least favorite part about knitting is the Gauge Swatch. I know it’s important on many projects, and it is knitting, which I enjoy, but it takes so much time and in the end, it’s just a little piece of fabric. The annoying part is when I pick the wrong size needle and have to start all over again with the Swatch. At this point, some of you are probably wondering “what is a swatch?” Well a swatch is a small representation of the knitted project. A swatch is usually knitted in the same pattern as the majority of the project. On most projects, there is a small paragraph that reads something like this. Gauge 30 stitches and 36 rows to 4 inches/10CM over the pattern. And there is usually, a sentence that says something like this “TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE” And yes, the sentence is usually in caps, to show just how important this step is. A knitter, who is making something like a sweater will realize this and probably start the Gauge Swatch before she starts the actual project. This knitter will slave over this swatch; bind off the ends and measure to see if the swatch is the four inch square like the Gauge section shows. At this point, the knitter will either realize that the swatch is the right size, or that a different size of needles is needed. If the swatch is definitely the wrong size, the knitter can either be really optimistic and try washing the swatch as the garment will be washed and blocking it or the knitter can unravel the swatch and try a different size of needle for the swatch. After washing the swatch and measuring it again, the knitter might be very happy that the swatch is the perfect size, or it’s back to knitting another swatch with a different size of needles.

The swatch is actually really useful; it’s usually a good representative of your finished project. It helps knitters get to know their yarn and what it will do when you wash it and stretch it out (blocking). It’s a great way to find out the limits of your yarn. It is also nice to see how the yarn looks with the pattern of your project. Swatches are just a way to prepare for knitting. To be honest, I’ve made things without a swatch and they turned fine (probably just luck), and there were other times when I took the time to make a swatch, and the finished project was not the right size (I probably made an error in measuring or something). So, swatches aren’t a guarantee that the project will be perfect, but they are a small way to look into the future of your project. If you absolutely hate the thought of swatching, there are a couple of options. You could just knit things that don’t have to fit. Things like blankets and scarves don’t really need swatches. Or you could knit using the same yarn and needle size as the pattern calls for, and hope that you knit with the same tension as the designer of the pattern.

Good Luck and I hope you can find a way to have fun with Swatches, if you do, please let me know. And if you can't find anything else to do with your completed swatch, you could always use them as coasters.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Read More Books!

With the economy so messed up lately, you may be wondering how to save a little money, but not give up the things in life that you enjoy. If you enjoy reading, an option that you may want to look at is your local public library. I came to a realization one day that my house isn’t getting any bigger, and the more things I have, the less space I have in my house to walk around. The library is helpful, because it saves me money and space. When I am done with a book, I just return it. I don’t have to worry about where I will store it, or if I should give it away to someone or a charity. I always feel sort of guilty buying a book, then getting rid of it, but I seldom read the same book twice, so its really not necessary that I hold onto it for a long time. There are exceptions, I do still buy books, one reason is that my library doesn’t have every single book I want to read. My library is connected to a bunch of different libraries in my parish (ya’ll probably call them counties), so there is a huge selection, but not every book ever written. Another reason is that sometimes I like a writer’s or artist’s work so much that I want to support them, so that they will be able to produce more books. This is true in the case of Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the Yarn Harlot and Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the Twilight series. I just enjoy the Yarn Harlot’s sense of humor and the way she points out that a yarn stash the size of mine isn’t really abnormal for real knitters. Actually the amount of yarn that I own is small in comparison to many other knitters’ stashes.

There are other knitting book authors that I enjoy reading, these include Wendy Bernard, who has a popular blog, Knit and Tonic, and recently released a book full of patterns and helpful knitting tips, called Custom Knits. Crazy Aunt Purl, and Lolly knitting around, are two blogs that I enjoy reading also. Crazy Aunt Purl, her real name is Laurie also has a book out too it’s called Drunk, Divorced, and covered in cat hair. I also like to have lots of pattern books at hand so that if I want to start a new project, I'll have many choices.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and if you aren't from the U.S. I hope you had a great weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Upcoming Events

This Saturday November 29th is Arts Council of New Orleans - Art Market
From 10am -4pm at Palmer Park - at the Intersection of S. Carrollton and Claiborne

After that:
December 5, 2008 Festival of Lights
4-9pm at the Baton Rouge River Center Plaza
December 6, 2008 Baton Rouge Art Market
8am to 12 noon at 5th at Main Street in Downtown Baton Rouge
December 13, 2008 Baton Rouge Art Market
8am to 12 noon at 5th at Main Street in Downtown Baton Rouge
December 20-21, 2008 Arts Council of New Orleans - Art Market
From 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park - at the Intersection of S. Carrollton and Claiborne

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Swift and the Yarn Winder.

There once lived a knitter, who went to a yarn shop and found a beautiful Hank of yarn. The knitter loved the way the yarn’s colors looked in its beautiful Hank. When she arrived home, she realized that this yarn was so precious that she couldn’t waste it on some project that wasn’t worthy. So, for months she searched through knitting books, magazines and the magical internet for the perfect project to make with this precious yarn. One day, when she had almost given up on finding that special project, a pattern fell out of a book and onto her lap. It would be perfect!

The knitter triumphantly took the Hank of yarn and removed the tags from the Hank. She untwisted the Hank and realized what a Hank really is. The Hank looked like a big loop of yarn. Remembering that a big loop of yarn can to easily be brought to the dark side and tangled, she twisted the yarn back into the Hank’s Pretzel Shape.

Her quest began. She knew she needed to find a way to wind the yarn into a neat little ball of yarn. She knew that in the book Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook
there were some instructions for winding yarn into one of those perfect little balls, but having a Hank of yarn would probably get messy. She thought “I could get someone to hold the yarn on their two hands like in some old movies I’ve seen.” She asked her husband for help, and he said “there has to be a better way!” So, off to the computer he went to look up alternatives on the internet. His solution came quickly, in the blink of an eye. He learned that there is something called a Swift , which is used to hold up the yarn so that it doesn’t tangle. But there must be a better way to ball up the yarn into a center-pull ball. Suddenly he found what he was looking for. It was called a Ball Winder

It was so simple, but would solve his Knitter’s problems. He found plans to build a Swift online and also saw that he could easily purchase one from many stores. He found that Ball Winder
aren’t so easy to make, they are usually made of plastic, with a crank and a cylindrical part to hold the new yarn ball. The cylinder moves in a planer motion when the crank is spun around.

The next night, when the knitter came home from work, she noticed two boxes on her chair. The smaller box had a card, which read, “Because I love you.” She opened up the first box and inside was the ball winder her husband showed her on the site last night. She opened the other box and found a beautiful New Wooden Swift . It was a light colored wood and was made up of many triangles. Just then, he walked through the door. She started to cry, they weren’t sad tears, just happy ones. He looked at her wondering why she was crying, and she said “I’m just so happy that you actually remembered our anniversary!” He thought for a moment and realized just how lucky he had been, because he actually did forget about the anniversary, and just wanted to make her happy, not fulfill any gift requirements for a special occasion. The husband smiled to himself and promptly set a reminder on his cell phone for next year’s anniversary. He didn’t ever want to disappoint her on their anniversary again.

The knitter later learned that most yarn shops who sell Hanks of yarn do have ball winders and swifts in store and if you ask, they will usually be very happy to transform your Hank of yarn into a beautiful and less messy ball of yarn.
The images are from They have a great variety of yarn and knitting tools.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Stitch Dictionary

I've always thought it was amazing how two little stitches, the knit and purl could combine to make all sorts of things. Actually it's the combination (Knit 2 Together) and lack of (Yarn Over) these two stitches that creates numerious stitch patterns.

People have been creating different stitch patterns throughout the years and written books which contain many of these stitch patterns. Why would they go through the effort to figure out all of these combinations? One use for these guides is for anyone who wants to create a pattern to have some inspiration. Another use for these books is the fact that they give knitters semi-easy way to modify patterns to the stitches that they prefer. This may take a little effort and some math, but may take a pattern from ok to perfect for it's recepient.

In the past few years, Vogue knitting has released some very good stitch dictionaries. These books have very clear directions and good photographs of each of the stitches so that the knitter can get a good idea of what the finished pattern will look like. There are currently three books:
Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl
The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Two: Cables
The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Three: Color Knitting
There are other stitch dictionaries out there, but these are my favorites. Their presentation uses very nice yarn in neutral yet beautiful tones, which makes it easy to imagine the pattern in any yarn.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Has it really been that long?

So, it’s been a while. I just got to a point where I had no desire to knit anymore. I think I just needed a break from knitting. One reason was that my hands were starting to hurt. I wasn’t sure it was the knitting, but I didn’t want to take a chance. Another thing is that I somehow messed up on my gauge swatch (should’ve washed it before measuring) and the hat I was making for Patrick for Christmas was huge. The hat more closely resembled a sweater than a hat, even after I did another swatch (that I didn’t wash) and took away 40 stitches. The entire time I was knitting it, people made comments that it was too big, or looked at me funny when I said I was making a hat, and I didn’t want to listen, I kept thinking, this is merino wool and I can just full or felt it and it will somehow magically become the perfect size. I really believed it, but then I was scared that what if I did that and it just didn’t turn out right and I wasted this beautiful yarn. So, I have learned my lesson and will wash the swatch before I measure it to see how many stitches to cast on. Wish me luck with this.

Well, I’m back, and I’m hoping that I can keep the blog up. I’m still learning about what exactly I should include on my blog. I’ve gotten comments that I shouldn’t include so much personal information on the internet. That was one of those points when I really reconsidered the whole blog thing. I really didn’t think I was exposing myself to the world too much, but there was still a question, what is too much information? I mean I’ve told ya’ll some things about myself, and about interesting things to do and places to see in New Orleans. I was just trying to help tourists see the New Orleans that I know, its not like I go to any of the places I featured on my blog constantly. Patrick actually cooks a lot, so eating out is more of a special treat than something I need to keep from starving. I cook occasionally, but not as much as him. I try not to include pictures of my friends and family, just to keep their lives private. I don’t include a lot of pictures of myself, there are some, but they usually don’t show me completely.

I’m not really sure if this blog should be just about knitting, but I really don’t think so. Maybe mostly knitting, but I still like to write about things that non-knitters will find interesting. I want people to come here and to be able to learn about knitting. If someone doesn’t know how to knit, I hope that my instructions are clear and my videos really do illustrate the concepts well. I’m thinking about redoing the videos in the tutorials because the video camera I was using flips everything around and I worry that it might be confusing to someone who wants to learn. I’ve deleted a few posts which didn’t really have anything to do with knitting and didn’t really add to the blog.

I’m going to try to keep the same schedule as I once did with the blog:
Mondays: Upcoming Events
Tuesdays: Knitting Tools
Wednesday: Random thoughts or Rest
Thursday: Tutorials
Friday: Project Profiles

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Double Pointed Needles (DPNs)

The double pointed needle is probably one of the most intimidating knitting tools. The intimidating part about DPN's isn't the individual needles, they look a lot like big toothpicks. The part that gets most people about DPNS is that they are used in groups. I know whenever I am using DPNs I get strange looks, because I'm using 5 needles at one time. To most people, it seems like there are too many things going on if five needles are in one project at a time. The thing about it is that it really isn't hard to use DPN's, the secret is to make sure that the needles you aren't using at a particular moment don't slip out of your stitches. The best thing to do to ensure that the stitches don't slip off of the needles is to use needles made from a rough material. My favorite double pointed needles are made of bamboo. These needles aren't as smooth as aluminum needles, but they are still smooth enough to slide through yarn without snagging it.

So, what are DPN's used for? Double pointed needles are used to make cylindrical garments, such as socks and sleeves. DPNs are useful for those instances when a circular needle is too big. Yes, there is another way, probaby more than one way, but the one that comes to mind right now is the magic loop method, which allows knitters to use long circular needles to knit things that are smaller in diameter than the length of the circular needle, if that makes any sense. I have not gotten completely comfortable with the Magic loop method, but when I do feel a little more proficient at it, I will prepare a tutorial on it and share it with you.


Ribbing is very common in hats, sweaters and anything where a stretchy fit is desired. The prequesites for knitting ribbing is a knowledge of the cast on, knit and purl stitch. Refer to previous tutorials if you want to learn more about these stitches and others. Ribbing is basically alternating the knit and purl stitch. There can be 1 by 1 ribbing, two by two, one by five or pretty much any combination. Here are some examples of ribbed projects. These are all projects made with 2 by 2 rib, in which I knit two stitches then purled two stitches, continueing in this manner until I reached the next row. On the next row, if we are kniting in the round like in the sock below, the stitches will just be a continuous knit two purl two. If the garment is knit flat, as in the case of the scarf below, the pattern that consisted of knit, knit, purl, purl... will be the opposite on the next row. A better way to think about this is to just make sure that the knit stitches line up with the purl stitches on the previous row.

Houston This weekend

October 18 -19 is the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown in Houston. Here is some information from their website: “October 18 - 19, 2008 SATURDAY AND SUNDAY10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both days Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.The downtown skyline serves as a dramatic backdrop for art, music, dance, and interactive activities at the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown.The annual, juried, fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Adding to the festive outdoor gallery are wine cafés, an interactive Creative Zone for children, restaurants, Broadway in Houston’s Broadway Café, and a performing arts stage with on-going multicultural musical and dance entertainment presented by The Houston Arts Alliance.The festival is showcased in front of City Hall and around Hermann Square on the streets of Walker, Bagby, and McKinney, as well as Sam Houston Park. For more information about the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, please contact the Art Colony Association”October 25th is the MidCity Art Market. The market is the last Saturday of each month at Palmer Park. Palmer Park is at the intersection of S. Carrolton and S. Claiborne Ave in Uptown New Orleans. It is from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Come out and support art in New Orleans. See Lane Lefort Photography to view some of the available photographs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Upcoming Events

This Saturday, October 4th is the Baton Rouge Art Market. . This market is held at Main and fifth Street in Downtown Baton Rouge, on the first Saturday of each month from 8am until noon. Here is some information from their website: The Baton Rouge Arts Market is an open-air market and cultural event held on the first Saturday of the each month (excluding January & May) & the first 3 Saturdays in December from 8 a.m. until 12 noon. Located at 5th @ Main Street in downtown Baton Rouge, the Arts Market is held in conjunction with the weekly Red Stick Farmers Market and the 6-day-a-week Main Street Market and is a project of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.

October 18 -19 is the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown in Houston. Here is some information from their website: “October 18 - 19, 2008 SATURDAY AND SUNDAY10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both days Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.The downtown skyline serves as a dramatic backdrop for art, music, dance, and interactive activities at the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown.The annual, juried, fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Adding to the festive outdoor gallery are wine cafés, an interactive Creative Zone for children, restaurants, Broadway in Houston’s Broadway Café, and a performing arts stage with on-going multicultural musical and dance entertainment presented by The Houston Arts Alliance.The festival is showcased in front of City Hall and around Hermann Square on the streets of Walker, Bagby, and McKinney, as well as Sam Houston Park. For more information about the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, please contact the Art Colony Association

October 25th is the MidCity Art Market. The market is the last Saturday of each month at Palmer Park. Palmer Park is at the intersection of S. Carrolton and S. Claiborne Ave in Uptown New Orleans. It is from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Come out and support art in New Orleans. See Lane Lefort Photography to view some of the available photographs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lacy Scarf

I've been working on the lacy scarf for about a week and finished it last night. The yarn I used is Noro Silk Garden, in the reds colorway. This yarn was purchased at Bette Bornside in New Orleans. Bette Bornside is located in the Faubourg Marigny, which is very close to the French Quarter. A word of caution though, I advise being cautious anywhere you go, but be extra careful here. I'm not saying this is a bad neighborhood, I'm just saying to be extra careful if you decide to visit this shop. This shop also sells yarn and supplies by mail order also if you would like to shop that way. The thing about the shop's website that I think could be improved is the lack of pictures. There are written descriptions, but no pictures, which makes it sort of hard to really get a feel for what the color will look like. It's just my opinion.
The scarf is a pretty simple pattern. It is a six row repeat, and every other row is just the purl stitch across. It is number 22 in the magazine. I found many patterns in this magazine that I would like to make, hopefully one day I will have time to make some of them. I used a size 9 1/2 circular needle, with two skeins of yarn.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

The other night, Patrick took me out to celebrate. Lets just say my birthday is sometime in September. We went to the French Quarter. Our first stop was the French Market. The French Market's Farmer's Market is currently under renovation, which is sort of disappointing. The flea market is open, I'm not really into flea markets, but Patrick likes them, so I tag along. I saw some vendors with handmade things like crochet and carved wooden things and I also saw things like designer knock off sunglasses, jewelry and Mardi Gras masks. Its sort of surprising how many different things can be found in that one place.

We then made our way toward St. Louis Cathedral. We passed Central Grocery, which has my favorite Muffelatas. They were closed, so we kept walking. We passed Café Du Monde, my favorite place for Beignets. As we made our way toward the Cathedral, I remembered why I like New Orleans. It's the history and the wrought iron work and the architecture and the people. I'm shy, so people aren't usually ever my favorite part of anything, but I do like many of the people of New Orleans. There are some people who seriously make me nervous, like the people who want to bet you they can tell you where you got your shoes. Do people in other parts of the country do that? Or is that a New Orleans thing? If anyone ever asks you that, say "On my feet". I guess the first person who thought of the whole "I bet you I can tell you where you got your feet" was sort of clever, but hearing it for so many years, it sort of gets old.

We kept walking and reached The Quarter Stitch. When we walked in, there was the cutest little white dog walking around the shop. He immediately ran up to me and started sniffing. It was clear that he wanted to play and wanted to check out everyone who came into his shop. I think he was either a Maltese or a miniture poodle. Patrick played with him while I looked through all of their yarn. Their selection of yarn is beautiful, and I found lots of yarns that I wanted. I settled on two skeins of Koigu, to make a hat for Patrick's Christmas present.
The shop also carries many needlepoint canvases. All of the canvases are sold as kits, which I'm sure is nice for anyone who does needlepoint. There were some gorgeous canvases, one that I especially like was of a Yorkie, with all of his hair flowing around. I've never been into needlepoint or cross stitch, mostly because I didn't like stabbing myself with the needle's point when I was younger.

Hurricane Katrina didn't cause much direct damage to the French Quarter. There was damage, but the Quarter was mostly spared. The most noticeable damage that Hurricane Katrina left was the lack of interest in visiting New Orleans during Hurricane Season, which is completely understandable. I know I wouldn't want to have to evacuate from my vacation.

After the yarn shop, we walked to K Paul's Restaurant, but it didn't open for dinner until 5:30, we were a bit late and decided we'd rather go there with my parents because they like K Paul's so much. We walked a little farther and decided to go to Dickie Brennan's Palace Cafe. They also open for dinner at 5:30, so we waited at the bar for a bit and I ordered a drink. I think it was called the Pearl Sunset, I could be wrong about that though. The drink was very good, very fruity and sweet. We tried something we hadn't had before, the crabmeat cheesecake, which has a sort of custard consistency, and is very yummy. For dinner, Patrick had a stuffed pork chop and I had pecan crusted Gulf Fish. My dish was sort of like candy, the pecans have a sugary coating and the fish is crispy. For desert, I had the white chocolate bread pudding and Patrick had the Creme Brulee. We shared our desserts and I prefered his sweet crunchy creme brulee to my Bread Pudding. Don't get me wrong, I liked the Bread Pudding, there was just something about the creamy creme brulee that I just loved. Everything was excellet and I had a really great evening.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Finished Object: The “Shaped Triangle” Shawl

Here is the completed shawl from my August 9th post.

I modified this shawl; I liked the way it looked in the book A Gathering of Lace , but decided I wanted a smaller shawl and binded off a lot sooner than the pattern called for. Between the time when I was knitting it and I blocked it, I wasn’t in love with it. It was soft, and I liked the colors. I also like the way that it was constructed, but lace usually doesn’t look its best before it is washed. When it is washed and blocked, it almost magically turns into something beautiful.

Blocking is used to stretch out a knitted item to a certain size or get the lace to open up completely. Many people use wires and pins, but I did it the lazy knitters way. I hand washed it in the bathtub, and then hung it over the shower curtain to dry. The tips dried more slowly, so they were heavier and weighed down the rest of the shawl, which I am going to call gravity blocking from now on. I just made sure that the center stayed on the shower curtain and the ends were even. I think it came out very good and I like that it didn’t take me hours to pin everything and stretch it. I’m guessing my gravity blocking wouldn’t work as well on something really fancy.

The Local Yarn Shop (LYS)

There are many places to buy yarn these days, with stores like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Joann’s, everywhere, one might wonder why should you seek out a local yarn shop to buy yarn? The local yarn shops typically have higher end yarns, made with more expensive fibers. So, why go out of your way to find a smaller store with more expensive yarns? One reason is for the expertise that the local places have. They usually employ knitters, or at least people who are interested in some kind of fiber arts, like spinning, crochet or needle point.

Local shops are also what I think of when I think of the American Dream. To me, the American Dream is about people doing what they truly love and making a living with it. I really wonder if corporations and chain stores are killing the American Dream. Are they making it so that people can’t own their own businesses? In a lot of instances, yes, they are at the very least, making it harder for individuals. A few years ago, Wal-mart was trying to open a store in New Orleans. There were signs everywhere around the city saying that they didn’t want a “Sprawl-Mart”. At that point in time, I really didn’t understand why Wal-Mart wouldn’t be a good thing for the city. Really, Wal-Mart employs lots of people, they have very low prices and have such a variety of merchandize that saves consumers time. Not having to stop at a grocery store, a pharmacy, a fast food restaurant, a clothing store, a pet store and a toy store seem like a great thing for the consumer, but are they really helping out Americans all that much?

I’ve spent hours of my life in Wal-Mart, and I really do enjoy shopping there. I’ve just come to the realization lately that my house isn’t big enough to keep filling it up with things I don’t need. Also, I tend to spend a lot less money when I buy yarn at a local shop than when I buy it at some place like Wal-Mart. Think about it, when you shop at Wal-Mart, do you ever buy things that you really don’t need, you just bought because the price was right and you really had nothing in mind to use it for? I have. When I shop at a store where yarn is expensive, I take my time and only buy the things I love and know I’ll use to make something that I’ll actually use. When I go to Wal-Mart or any of the places I mentioned earlier, I buy a lot of yarn that I really don’t need and it just sits in my stash for a long time just taking up space. I seem to have the biggest problem with the words Clearance and Sale. These two words should strike fear in the hearts of husbands everywhere. If a Sale or a Clearance has things that I will use, then it’s ok. If it’s a bunch of fuzzy, sort of nasty feeling yarn that I can’t figure out what to do with; yarn that I only bought because it was only twenty-five cents per skein; I need to practice more self restraint.

I did find this very nice merino wool at Michael’s once for only about $2 per skein. It was a very pretty red color and I knew I wanted to make a sweater with a similar yarn anyway, so buying that was a good thing. The most amazing thing about the yarn was that all of the skeins were from the same dye lot. If you’re wondering, a dye lot refers to the batch that the yarn was dyed in. When companies dye yarn, they usually dye it one batch or lot at a time. When they want to dye more yarn than they can fit in one batch/lot, they run another batch through the dyes. The problem with this is that there may be slight variations between batches. Dye lot # 777 might be a slight bit darker than Dye lot # 888. The color may still look the same, but if you compare the two yarns with different dye lots, you may notice a difference. When knitting with two different dye lots, it is very likely that a line where the two different dye lots meet will occur. This line would annoy me, and that is why, when I am buying yarn for a particular project, I make sure all of the yarn has the same dye lot. There are ways to deal with the problem of different dye lots, but I try to avoid them.

In the New Orleans area, there are four Yarn shops. Garden District Needle Works, Bette Bornside Co. , The Quarter Stitch, and Needle Arts Studio.

Garden District Needleworks, is the shop that is most convenient for me. It is a large store, on Magazine Street. The store seems to be an old house, it has two rooms in the front, where they usually have discounted yarn and . The back room is where the rest of the yarn is.

Needle Arts Studio is located in Metairie at 115 Metairie Rd. Their number is (504) 832-3050. I've been to this one a couple of times. I like the fact that they have a good amount of parking. I havn't been here in about a year and couldn't find a website.

I have never been to the Quarter Stitch, which is located in the French Quarter. I don't make it out to the Quarter all that much and havn't made it to this store yet. Bette Bornside is another yarn shop I havn't visited yet.

What is your favorite local yarn shop? I love to visit LYS's when I am on vacation and would love to hear about the ones in your area.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Premature Evacuation

Everyone liked that title when I told them about me and Patrick bringing my car to his Aunt's house the other day. It was our pre-evacuation. I really wanted to make sure that I wouldn't have to drive in a seperate car than Patick and somehow get lost while we were evacuating. I've been known to get lost driving a lot. I really didn't want to get stuck in the wrong lane with the contra-flow and end up somewhere far away from Patrick.

All is well at this time. We are just waiting for Gustav to come, hoping that everything will work out. Wish us luck.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Attention: The MidCity Art Market has been postponed to September 6th!!!

Updated: The August MidCity Art Market has been postponed to September 6th due to the threat of Hurricane Gustav. I havn't heard anything about the Morgan City Shrimp and Petroleum Fest, but will let you know if I hear anything.

September 6th is the MidCity Art Market. The market is the last Saturday of each month at Palmer Park. Palmer Park is at the intersection of S. Carrolton and S. Claiborne Ave in Uptown New Orleans. It is from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. If Saturday is rained out, the market will take place on Sunday August 31st. Come out and support art in New Orleans. See Lane Lefort Photography to view some of the available photographs. Purchases can be made from this website, or come out and see Lane.

August 28 to September 1 (Labor Day Weekend) is the Morgan City Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. An art contest and sale is part of the bigger festival.

October 18 -19 is the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown in Houston. Here is some information from their website: “October 18 - 19, 2008 SATURDAY AND SUNDAY10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both daysAdmission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.The downtown skyline serves as a dramatic backdrop for art, music, dance, and interactive activities at the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown.The annual, juried, fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Adding to the festive outdoor gallery are wine cafés, an interactive Creative Zone for children, restaurants, Broadway in Houston’s Broadway Café, and a performing arts stage with on-going multicultural musical and dance entertainment presented by The Houston Arts Alliance.The festival is showcased in front of City Hall and around Hermann Square on the streets of Walker, Bagby, and McKinney, as well as Sam Houston Park. For more information about the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, please contact the Art Colony Association” This will be Lane’s first time at this event.

Lane also participates in the Gretna Art Walk. The Gretna Art Walk is on hiatus right now, but will return in September. It will be every second Saturday of the month between September and May. There is also a weekly Farmer's Market every Saturday between Third and Fourth Streets in Gretna, La. Participate in the Farmer's Market Participate in the Art Walk

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The USS Cairo in Vicksburg, Mississippi

While I was in Vicksburg last week, we visited the National Military Park. This park has many monuments honoring the soldiers who fought in the battle of Vicksburg. The monument that made the biggest impression on me is monument dedicated to the soldiers from the state of Illinois. It is a building made of marble and Stone Mountain granite. My favorite aspect of this monument was the Mosaic of tiles that made up the seal of the state of Illinois.

Another attraction of the park is the Ironclad Gunboat, the USS Cairo. The USS Cairo was sunk by a torpedo on December 12, 1862. The good news is that there was no loss of life due to the ship sinking. The Cairo was submerged for about 100 years in the Yazoo River (In the museum I thought it was the Mississippi River, but after reading about it online, I realize it was the Yazoo, they are pretty close to each other around Vicksburg). In the 1960's, most of the ship was recovered and reassimbled , using new wood in the places where the original ship had deteriorated. Next to the ship is a museum, with artifacts and information about this Ironclad Gunship.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morgan City Shrimp and Petroleum Festival is this weekend

Morgan City's Shrimp and Petroleum Festival is August 28 to September 1, 2008. My favorite part of this festival is the art contest and sale. The festival takes place in Downtown Morgan City. Other hilights of this festival are the blessing of the fleet and the boat parade, which take place in the river. For more information, either see the official website of the Shrimp and Petroleum fest at or email me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Vicksburg This week

This week, I'm in Vicksburg, Mississippi for work.

If you know of any fun places or good restaurants in Vicksburg, let me know.

Here are some upcoming events:

MidCity Art Market: August 28th from 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park.

Morgan City Shrimp and Petroleum Festival August 28 through September 1 (Labor Day Weekend)

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown in Houston from October 18-19.

The Gretna Art Market will be back next month!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tutorial: Increasing: Make One M1

To increase the number of stitches on your row, you could make a yarn over, but that leaves a hole. To increase almost invisibly, a make one, abreviated M1, is a good choice. Book between two stitches you should see that there is a line of yarn between these stitches.

Step One: Knit to the point where the increases is needed.

Step Two: Insert the right needle into the line of yarn between the two stitches.

Step Three: wrap the yarn over the needle.

Step Four: Pull the yarn through the line.

Step Five: Continue knitting the rest of the row.

Here is the video, it shows me knitting one, then doing a M1, then knitting one, then a M1...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cades Cove Campground

Last month when Patrick and I went to Tennessee, we stayed at the campground at Cades Cove. This is a very scenic campground, with many things to do. The park service has activities like hikes and tours all over the area. One of the most popular thing to do when staying at this campground is to ride bikes on the Cades Cove loop on the two mornings when the park is closed to vehicular traffic.

This campground is a little rustic. There aren't all that many amenities. There is a restroom and a place to clean dishes. There is also a little grocery store and snack bar located by the entrance to the park. The campground also has a beautiful stream not far from where we were camping.

The amenities that it is lacking include electricity and running water at the sites. It's near impossible to get a cell phone signal in this area. There also aren't any showers at the campground. The shower part was probably the hardest part for me. After days of trying to get clean with the limited resources at the campground, we drove to the city of Townsend. We went to a campground called Lazy Daze. This campground wasn't very scenic, the campers seemed pretty much on top of each other, but they did have showers and a pool and most of the other comforts of home. It cost us $5 each to take a shower, but it was really worth it.

After our showers, we went to a barbaque restaurant in Townsend , and had a really good dinner. I think the restaurant was called Little River Bar-B-Que and it overlooked a stream and we sat outside on a screened in portion of the restaurant. My favorite part of the dinner was the cherry cobbler we had for dessert.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Traditional Knitting Needles

I would call straight knitting needles, the most well known. When I knit with circulars, people always ask questions about them, really wondering what those strange things are. When I knit with straights, people usually know that I'm knitting. In movies and on TV, most knitters use straights. I think that is because straight knitting needles just say knitting. Its that immediate though of "She's Knitting", when they see someone with straight needles.

How do I feel about Straight needles? I honestly don't use them all that much, as I said in last week's post, Circulars are my favorite. The way I see it the best way to find the absolutely best needles, is to try different kinds of needles and find the ones that feel the best. There are advantages to using straight needles, one is that there isn't a cord to worry about. The knitter doesn't have to worry about the connections coming apart. Another advantage is that the needles are the same diameter the entire length of the needles. This is a good thing because some knitters have problems with pulling the yarn too tightly and that can lead to problems if the yarn is so tight that the stitches can't go over the connection and back on the needles. Another is that the two needles are seperate, and I'm sure that is an advantage for some knitters. They are also made completely of the same material. This keeps the stitches more consistient, I really don't think most people would notice the difference between the two materials, but there probably is a group of knitters who can tell the difference.

Do any of you use straight needles and know of any other advantages to using them?

I hope that was informative. If you have any questions, just leave a comment or send me an email.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I have a question for you...

This Week’s posts are:
Tuesday: a description of straight knitting needles,
Wednesday: A little about the campground where we stayed in Cades Cove
Thursday: a tutorial on the make one (M1) increase.
Friday: A Project Profile on a headband I knitted.

I also have a question for all of you. I have put up a poll on the left column of the page. Which posts do you like the best? Here are the options: Upcoming Events Mondays; Knitting Tool Tuesdays; Whatever Wednesdays; Tutorial Thursdays; or Project Profile Fridays. Please note that you can vote for more than one type. I've been trying to stick to this format the last few weeks, and I would really like to know what I should spend more time on and what I can spend less time on or even fade away. Thanks for your feedback!

Here are some upcoming events:

MidCity Art Market: August 28th from 10am or 4pm at Palmer Park.

Morgan City Shrimp and Petroleum Festival August 28 through September 1 (Labor Day Weekend)

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown in Houston from October 18-19.

The Gretna Art Market will be back next month!

Thanks and I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Project Profile: "Shaped Triangle"

My current work in progress (WIP) is a shawl from the book A Gathering of Lace. The name of the pattern is “Shaped Triangle” and it was written by Katie Nagorney and Ann Swanson. The reason I picked this shawl is because the pattern looked easy enough and I wanted a triangle shaped shawl because I’ve been seeing people wearing them lately and really liked the way they look.

This is made with some of the yarn that I bought when I was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee last month. The store is called Smokey Mountain Spinnery. I sort of lost the ball band and can’t remember much about it. It’s a very light weight yarn, that I initially bought to make socks, but then I really looked at it and decided I wanted to make something else with this yarn. I love socks, but I just didn’t see this particular skein of yarn turning into socks.
One thing I like about this pattern is that every other row is just purl stitches across. The pattern for this shawl is easy to memorize. After the initial 11 rows, the pattern repeats with two rows on the right side of the shawl and purl stitches on the wrong side. (The right side is the side that will be worn on the outside and the wrong side is the other side, usually worn toward you.) It repeats for a while, and then the pattern changes, leaving a more elaborate pattern toward the end of the shawl.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tutorial: Binding off - The K2Tog Bind-off

Binding off is a term used to describe the process of combining your stitches to finish off the project, or it can be used when some of the stitches on a row need to be finished and others don’t, like for a button hole.

Step One: Get to the point where you want to end your knitting.

Step Two: Hold your knitted item in your left hand and your empty needle in your right hand. Hold the yarn in back of the knitted item.

Step Three: Stick the empty needle into the back of the first two stitches on your other needle.

Step Four: Loop the yarn around the end of the empty needle.

Step Five: Pull the yarn that you just looped over the needle through the two stitches.

Step Six: Drop the two stitches off of the needle. Now the previously empty needle has one stitch on it and the other needle has two less stitches than it started with.

Step Seven: place the lone stitch on the previously empty needle back onto the other needle.

Step Eight: Repeat steps three through Seven.

Step Nine: When you only have one stitch left on your needles, pull the yarn, making the stitch larger, so that there will be enough yarn to either weave in the ends or sew it together with another piece.

Step Ten: snip the yarn, making sure you have enough yarn attached as mentioned in step nine.

Step Eleven: pull the yarn, this will fasten the end. Step Twelve: continue with the pattern, either weaving in the ends or sewing the piece together with the pieces it attaches to.

Here is the video:

Links to this tutorial and my other tutorials can be found on the left side of your screen.

Thank You and Have a Great Day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The French Quarter Wedding Chapel

Patrick and I went to The French Quarter Wedding Chapel Friday night. Its a cute little chapel, located at 333 Rue Burgundy. We had a great time!

The chapel has an interesting tradition of whenever someone gets married there, the couple takes out a dollar or a check and both sign their names on it. This tradition started years ago, when a bride was married there and said, when do I get to sign my married name? The minister said that all of the signing was finished and that you really don’t sign your married name. She very much wanted to sign her married name, so the idea of signing the dollar and hanging it from the ceiling became a tradition.

The minister told us how there was a rumor that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had gotten married over there the week before and how he had many phone calls from the press about that. He said it wasn’t true, but reporters from around the world continued to call all day and night.

Here is a picture of the alter and of a stained glass window that I thought was pretty.

The place is pretty tiny, so the bouquet and garter tosses were both done outside on the street.