Madam is Not Amused

I was prepping this tote bag to sell online, and opened up the bottom shoe compartment to take a picture.  By the time I got back with my camera, someone had decided to travel with me.

transit cat

Also, last week I was browsing my OneDrive stuff, and there is a “click here to see all files from this day.”  Any year.  I clicked and found this oldie-but-goodie movie.  Enjoy!



Whew, sometimes this day seemed like it would never arrive.  Alex has officially graduated from high school!  We will be spending the next week or so working out different job scenarios and I will keep you all posted as things develop.  Yay!

This is an older pic.  He has a haircut appointment this afternoon, so I will post a today-pic afterwards.

Knitting Needle Analysis

Recently I ordered a set of Addi Click interchangeable needles in olive wood. When they arrived I immediately started working with them, and they were fabulous. So easy to interchange, no keys or rubber grips needed, so smooth and with just the right amount of point and right amount of grip, too. I thought these were the perfect needles…

…until one broke. It developed a split near the needle tip, so that it was snagging small clumps of fibers every time I pushed the needle into a stitch. I contacted Skacel (the US distributors of Addi) and they told me to deal with any authorized retailer, who would give me a new one and send the bad one back to Skacel.

My local yarn store, despite being a Skacel dealer, would not accommodate this because they don’t carry the olive wood tips. In the end I emailed the store where I’d purchased them, and they sent me a set of two new tips. Yay!

But in the meantime, I had also ordered a couple of the Addi olive wood fixed circulars. On the very first day of working with one, the point broke off like a weak pencil point! Once again I emailed Skacel, and their response was simply to request a new one from the retailer, and to “give the needles a chance and you will like them.”  Well, I would like them. I did like them – until they started breaking! Faced with the choice of submitting the broken needle for replacement or just returning all those new fixed circs, I sent them all back, and started looking for a new wooden needle brand, because I refuse to spend more money on the Addi. Following are the results of my experimentation.

Knitter’s Pride “Dreamz” fixed circular. I’ve owned the Dreamz before and they’re perfectly acceptable, although the interchangeables are quite fiddly because you do need the little key things to correctly connect them. The Dreamz are pointy enough, and grippy enough. I had planned to go back to using Dreamz if none of these others were any better.

Lykke fixed circ. Lykke is a new Norwegian brand made allegedly from driftwood (although some stores say they’re simply “driftwood-colored”). They are resin-impregnated (as opposed to Dreamz, which are lacquer-coated, or the Addi, which just have a coat of wax on them). The needles are too grippy to use rubber stitch markers on them, and almost too grippy for plastic ones. Luckily I own some metal ones from Webs called “Cocoknits” (bonus: they are steel so they stick to the magnet of my keyboard when not in use!), and those slide like a dream over the Lykke needle. It has a great point – not so pointy that I’ll poke holes in my finger, but plenty pointy for tight stitches. I like this needle a lot. They come in fixed circulars and interchangeables.

Knitter’s Pride “Royale.” Royale needles have wooden shafts but metal points on them. I thought this might work because most of the reason I avoid metal needles is due to their slipperiness, in my hands and in my stitches. If I am working on metal needles and sneeze, sometimes I can actually lose a bunch of stitches from the recoil! So the wooden shafts are my main reason for switching to all wood, but the metal tips might be good. I imagine (but don’t know for certain) that these are lacquer-coated as the Dreamz are. And surprise! The Royales swivel – at least, the fixed circular does. Not sure about the interchangeables. That’s a big plus.

Knitter’s Pride “Karbonz.”  Not truly wood, but “not metal,” so I added it to the comparison. It’s got a carbon fiber shaft with a metal point. Same structure as the Royale, same reason I added it to the list. The Karbonz do not swivel. Now, perhaps I simply got a bad needle, but when the metal tips of the Karbonz rubbed together it felt like fingernails on a blackboard. I would not buy this needle type, just for that reason. This feeling did not happen with the Royale, nor did it happen on the row where I knit off the Royale onto the Karbonz, only when both ends of the Karbonz needles were in use. I managed three rows but had to transition after that, because it was getting on my nerves.

Plymouth Yarn “IgKnite Lineaz” (seriously, who comes up with these names?) fixed circ. These have laminated shafts with metal points, again like the Royale. Who knows? These may all be manufactured by the same factory and then individually branded. This needle also did not swivel. It has a much heftier feel out of the package, even though I was testing a size 5 (compared to the size 6 Royale and the size 7 Karbonz). Feels very solid, almost industrial. However, the cable is inflexible, and because it doesn’t swivel, it was very hard to work with. I liked the needle tips very much, but hated the stiff cable, and only managed 4 rows.

After all the experimentation, I really liked the Plymouth tips the best, but they have that awful cable. Some old (2-3 years) Ravelry posts indicate that the IgKnite tips work with KP’s cables. I asked Webs to either confirm or deny this, and if they can’t, to give me their opinion on whether the interchangeable cables are better than the fixed circ cables.  (It may also be that their stock of fixed circulars is really old, and that Plymouth has upgraded the cables on newer needles and interchangeable sets.)  If reports are good, I’ll buy the IgKnite set, and if not, I’ll buy the Lykke.

Also important to know: rubber stitch markers STINK! On every one of these needles they were grippy and annoying. I am going to get rid of them all and start using the Cocoknits ones exclusively.

I hope this analysis helps someone!


Let’s Talk about Linen Stitch

I love to use linen stitch and it’s a component of four of my designs (Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Vacation, and Quirmian Cap, all available on Ravelry).  Sometimes in forums people ask me what makes it so great, so I decided to write a blog post about it.


The two things that work best about this type of stitch is that it is a non-stretchy pattern, so it acts like a woven fabric, and that it breaks up colors so there is no pooling.  It is also an excellent choice of stitch when you are working two different color skeins, especially if you are trying to create a gradient or fade effect.  Shown in the picture are two different Koigu KPPPM skeins, P218 (the hem and first four rows), then P218 alternating with P829.  The first skein is dark, with blues and plums; the second skein has a lot of pepto pink in it, along with similar blues (but no plum).  In stockinette stitch, if you worked this way, you’d have some pretty obvious chunk sections that showed off the pepto pink.  With linen stitch, the alternating row breaks up the stitchwork so there’s no big area that grabs the eye.  Alternating colors (no matter which stitch pattern you use)  also prevents a hard line or stripe such as you see when working one color and then dropping it to switch to a second color.

How is linen stitch worked?  It’s quite easy after you complete a few stitches.  Spatially it’s a bit weird to start.  Try a swatch of 20 sts.

Cast on 20.  Turn work.

Setup row (WS):  purl across row.

Row 1 (RS):  knit the first stitch.  Bring the yarn to the front, as if to purl, slip the next stitch purlwise, take yarn to the back.  The second stitch has been “wrapped” but not worked.  Knit the third stitch, wrap the fourth.  Continue across the row:  knit 1, wrap 1, until the last stitch is reached.  This is a wrap stitch.  Turn work.

Row 2:  Bringing the yarn around from the last row (so that the final RS stitch remains wrapped), purl the first stitch.  Take yarn to back as if to knit, slip the next stitch purlwise, bring the yarn to front.  The second stitch has been wrapped but not worked.  Continue the pattern across the row:  purl a stitch, wrap a stitch, until the last stitch has been wrapped.  Turn work.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until your piece is the desired length.  Bind off.

On each row, you are wrapping the stitches that were previously worked, and working the sts that were previously wrapped.  This is all there is to linen stitch.  Another bonus is that it lays flat, so your piece doesn’t require special edge stitches.

One very important note:  it is a tight, tight result.  If you work with the recommended needle size for your yarn, you’re going to be fighting the stitches all the way, and you’ll end up with knitted cardboard.  I recommend going up at least three needle sizes from the recommended.  The Koigu you see above is being knit on 8’s.

Because of this tension, the gauge in linen stitch is pretty fine, and you’ll have to work a lot more stitches to get a finished piece in the size you want.  The Koigu is coming out to 7 sts and 10 rows per inch, and KPPPM is a sock-weight yarn.  So your project will take longer to complete.

Try it!