Archives for category: hourglass pullover

“Most of all, he saw her waist, just where it narrowed, before the skirts spread. . . . He thought of her momentarily as an hour-glass, containing time, which was caught in her like a thread of sand, of stone, of specks of life, of things that had lived and would live. She held his time, she contained his past and his future, both now cramped together, with such ferocity and such gentleness, into this small circumference.”

— A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance (You can use Search Inside on the Amazon page linked here to read the whole passage.)

The scene this quote is taken from is quite possibly my favorite passage of all time, in my favorite book of all time. Maybe not–there are plenty of other wonderful books in competition with this one, after all. I have yet to encounter anything that sent chills down my spine quite like this, though. The way the timeline and plot of the entire book swung around this pivotal scene on the beach; the way the symbols, images, and linguistic references fell so neatly into place, like the pieces of an intricate and wonderful puzzle; the way Byatt captures that wonderfully bittersweet feeling of being gloriously happy, but knowing the feeling cannot last.

With that in mind, I bring you the Hourglass Pullover, finished at last.

We walked downtown on Saturday, clad in handknits, and admiring the glistening sculptures of ice-coated bushes here and there, watching squirrels and the first early cardinals searching for food in the melting snow, breaking off icicles from car bumpers and fencing with them before throwing them down on the pavement to shatter.

These photos were taken on the Indiana University campus, which was quiet and peaceful, it being the first weekend of Spring Break. We stopped again, a bit further on, and took pictures of ourselves in front of the Sample Gates, the iconic entrance to campus, at Kirkwood and Indiana.

We enjoyed some of our favorite Bloomington pleasures: going to the public library to get our fix of free books and DVDs, stopping in at the yarn shop and bookstores downtown, having lunch at Roots, the vegetarian restaurant on the square, buying beer and chocolate at Sahara Mart.

While we were at Roots, I spied something interesting across the street–sadly, didn’t get any pictures of it, but it turned out to be a big brown falcon that had caught a pigeon and was perched in a tree outside the courthouse, eating its lunch as we ate ours. It was our second interesting brush with birds that day: I woke up to the sight of two fat, fluffed-up mourning doves perched on my bike basket on the balcony, directly outside the French door to our bedroom.

We saw our friend Jeff on our walk home, just as it started to snow again, and he gave us a ride the rest of the way home. At home, we watched about 20 minutes of The Motorcycle Diaries before switching to a documentary about three-toed sloths (both courtesy of the Monroe County Public Library).

And yesterday, Sunday, we rode our bikes out to run errands in the cold, and later, went to a jalapeno-filled potluck dinner at our friends Steve and Jeanne’s house, with their friend Dan and our friend Charlie, and had drinks and Girl Scout Cookies and played Super Smash Brothers on the Wii (I’m abysmal at it, despite usually liking fighting games).

On balance, we’ve been very happy in Bloomington. We’ve had so many wonderful, simple pleasures to enjoy; our town is peaceful, quiet, small, easy to navigate; best of all, we’ve made great friends here, whom we run into randomly around town, or with whom we can make last-minute plans without the transportation/logistics issues of a larger city. I get to work at home at the moment, doing useful work for a company with wonderful, interesting, intelligent coworkers. It’s been a real pleasure making friends with local knitters through the internet and meeting up every couple of weeks to knit and chat and admire each other’s projects.

It’s been bittersweet, though, because we know it can’t last. Rahul is wrapping up his MBA, and even if we stay in town longer (a possibility, since he’s applied to a Ph.D. program here) it won’t be the same, since our best friends here are all, or almost all, moving away at the end of the year. We’re going up to UW-Madison later this week–another possibility for a place we might be in a few months–hopefully stopping in Chicago to see some museums and/or drink some green beer on the way back. I don’t know where we’ll be in a few months, or what we’ll be doing.

Again from Byatt:

“Let us not think of time.”

“We have reached Faust’s non-plus. We say to every moment ‘Verweile doch, du bist so schoen,’ and if we are not immediately damned, the stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.'”

Here we are, then, in the narrow waist of the hourglass, watching our days slip by, with such ferocity and such gentleness, as the snow melts and spring edges in.

Whatever we do next, I’m sure it will be fine, as well, but I can’t help but look around, and think of how lovely it has been to be here, now.

Pattern: The Hourglass Sweater, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Size made: Small (33 inches)

Yarn used: Fleece Artist Blue Face DK, a 100% bluefaced Leicester yarn, in Periwinkle. I bought this on sale–30% off, I think–from Ram Wools. I used perhaps 1.4 skeins of this, or about 700 yards (it comes in a giant put-up, 250 g/450 m)

Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm and US size 10/6.0 mm circulars

Date started: November 14, 2007 (cast on as an airplane knitting project for my trip back home for Thanksgiving/San Diego)

Date finished: March 3, 2008 (it took me ages! All that stockinette, and the never-ending giant skein of yarn, was disheartening)

Mods: My main modification was the gauge: I got 19 sts and 23 rows to 4 inches, so I had to adjust the number of rows throughout. 7 rounds between body decrease rounds, 11 rounds between body increase rounds; 30 rounds between sleeve decrease rounds, 13 rounds between sleeve increase rounds.

I didn’t adjust the even/decrease rounds in the yoke, but I did work 2 extra sets of decrease/even rounds to reduce the neckline size, winding up with 10 sts at the top of each sleeve instead of 14.

I knit the sleeves first, magic-loop. I used a provisional cast-on for all lower hems, and knit them up into the live stitches. I used a size 10 needle to do this for the sleeves, but forgot to bring it with me when I was knitting up the body hem, so the body hem was knit up with a size 7. My reasoning for this was that the hem always tends to pull in the row of stitches where it’s been knit up, so using a larger needle size would allow for more yarn in that row of stitches, compensating for the additional length the yarn needs to go through the hem stitches in addition to the body stitches. It seemed to work fairly well–you can see in the pictures that it seems like the sleeves have pulled/ruffled less than the lower hem on the body of the sweater.

For the neckline hem, I figured it would be too fiddly and annoying to sew the live stitches down to the body, so I just bound off using *k2tog, place st back on left needle* and then used the long tail from the bind-off to loosely whipstitch the neckline hem down to the inside of the sweater.


The pictures above aren’t great, but they’ll do, unless I get the urge to do a new photoshoot.

Check the errata (PDF) for the sweater before you begin. If you follow the directions as written, the increases and decreases won’t stack up on either side of a central stitch, but will migrate to one side or the other.

The yarn did pool quite a bit, and as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, it turns out I’m not crazy about the hand-dyed, variegated aesthetic when it comes to sweaters, but I love this pullover anyway. It’s very comfortable and soft, with a slight shine to it almost like unbrushed mohair, and from what I know about BFL, the yarn will probably wear well, with minimal pilling. I think the overall shape of the sweater–boatneck raglan with waist shaping and bell sleeves–is pretty flattering, and the boatneck is just the right size for me, not too high, so it’s comfortable to wear, and not too low, so it doesn’t slip off my shoulders. Along with the Leaf Lace Pullover, it’s a useful, casual pullover that will make a great addition to my wardrobe.

I started using a new technique to count rows on this sweater. I find it less obtrusive than using a row counter and easier and faster than stopping to write down hash marks on a separate piece of paper–my two other usual techniques for counting rows. (I also sometimes use a row counter made of a piece of waste yarn tied into loops, one for every row I want to count, and move down one loop as I finish each row, but that technique doesn’t work well if you have, say, 10 even rounds to every decrease round, because you need such a long, dangly row counter.) So this method is incredibly simple, but somehow it had never occurred to me before. Here it is:

Counting Rows with Two Stitch Markers

Place one stitch marker at the beginning of the round as usual (the pink pearl marker in the picture below). Now place one more stitch marker next to it. Every time you come to the end of the round, move the second stitch marker (the blue glass/pearl stitch marker in the picture below) one stitch to the left by removing it, knitting one additional stitch, then replacing it. When you’ve completed the appropriate number of even rounds, work your increase or decrease round, remove the second marker altogether, work back to the beginning of the round and place the second stitch marker back in its starting position next to the first one. To figure out which round you’re on, count the number of stitches between the first and second marker. No stitches means you’ve just completed an increase or decrease round and you’re currently on the first even round. One stitch means you’ve completed one even round. And so on. So in the photo below, I have completed 4 rounds even:

I knit one more round and move the second stitch marker to the left: five rounds completed:

And so on. The first marker never moves, and your increases/decreases will still take place around that marker (the pink pearl marker, in this example). And, my demo photo aside, this method of counting will most likely not work if you’re working lace or cables in the zone between the markers. But it’s simple, you don’t have to pause to pick up a pen or fiddle with a dangly row counter, and it works well for plain stockinette.


One of the things I didn’t really like about the Harry Potter books was the way some new rule seemed to be introduced in every book, the way they were constantly discovering some new and hitherto unmentioned facet of magic that was now integral to the plot. It seemed cheap, like J. K. Rowling kept writing herself into corners and then saying “hey! No problem! It’s my world, so I can just tack on some new deus ex machina rule about magic!” Animaguses! (or was it Animagi?) Horcruxes! (Horcruci? Horcruces?) Wandcraft! (Wandcraft!) How is it that the entire plot of the last book hinged on some complicated set of technicalities and legalese loopholes in rules of the universe that weren’t even mentioned until 3000 pages into the series? It all felt exceedingly sloppy.

The thing is, I’m really starting to feel the same way about the American democratic process. It seems like new, obscure rules are being pulled out at every presidential election. Admittedly, I haven’t been able to vote in all that many elections yet, I’ve been paying progressively more and more attention to politics the older I get, and Government and History were never really my strong subjects in school. But it really seems like every four years, some weird new technicality comes up out of nowhere and suddenly becomes crucial to the outcome of the election. Hey, you can win the popular vote and lose the presidency because of the electoral college! Superdelegates will make or break the Democratic nominees! Florida and Michigan held primaries, but, uh, sorry, they don’t count! Once, in single combat, Hillary stole this wand from–oh wait, sorry, different story. I’m just getting kind of tired of it all. Not to mention the possibility of tampering with voting machines, people being turned away at the polls, the voter ID laws that are being called a modern-day poll tax. My friend’s mom said our own elections were starting to seem like the kind Jimmy Carter would have to go and oversee for fairness in a developing nation somewhere.
(By the way, the other thing the wand stuff makes me think of is dog training. And Escape to Chimp Eden. I was reading in this dog book about how according to dogs’ societal rules, possession is 9/10ths of the law, and so if they get distracted and you grab their bone out from under their nose, they have no right to demand it back. I saw the guy on Escape to Chimp Eden do something similar with some oranges and a cannister that squirts puffs of carbon dioxide.)

On some more yarny, less political notes, the first draft of my baby sweater is being test-knit, I finished my long-suffering Hourglass Sweater, I finished a brushed alpaca moebius cowl, I am working on another that I hope to release as a pattern for Malabrigo March, and there are 23 people signed up in the Malabrigo March Prismatic Scarf KAL!

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries, so still no pictures at the moment.

The Hourglass Sweater is incredibly soft and nice, despite its sadly tie-dyed appearance. I’m a big fan of the BFL–it seems like it will wear well because of its staple length, and it has a great lustrous sheen, but it’s also super-soft. After blocking in Eucalan, it was cozy and next-to-skin soft, with not a hint of scratchiness to my (admittedly not super-sensitive) bare skin. It doesn’t have the luxurious, buttery feel of baby alpaca, cashmere, or good merino, but I bet it’s also a lot more durable than those fibers. Great stuff.

The Good:

–  the weather! Balmy and gorgeous–in the 60s today! I spent a lot of the day wandering around town running errands.

–  TWO visits this weekend to the new local yarn shop, In A Yarn Basket! To my great surprise, Rahul expressed interest in seeing it yesterday (though he was craving lunch, so we only spent a few minutes inside), and then today I went there with Elli and Kalani and finally got my chance to peruse the stock in detail. I drooled over the giant hanks of Alpaca with a Twist and the tiny, gorgeous skeins of Tilli Tomas laceweight and finally made it out of there without buying anything new.

– Rahul is away in El Salvador this week, busy changing the world, so I get to make crazy, non-boyfriend-approved foods. Currently on the stove is a black bean, sweet potato, kale, and banana-dumpling stew. I don’t know how successful it will be, but it sure is interesting. Brown rice is simmering on the stove, and green bean casserole is baking in the oven.

– Jovovich-Hawk is the new Go! International designer at Target. I have a gift card to use up and am contemplating buying a new frilly, foofy sundress.

– There’s an interesting piece about fashion in the developing world on NPR right now

The Bad:

– I am almost finished with the Hourglass Pullover. That’s actually mainly good, but the Bad is this: I tried it on and felt massively disappointed. I pulled it on, looked at myself in the mirror, and thought: I am essentially wearing a tie-dyed sweater. I would never buy a tie-dyed sweater, so why have I just spent four months making one by hand? Seduced by the hand-dyed gorgeousness, I lost sight of my actual personal fashion sense. Damn! Maybe I’ll like it better once I can actually cuddle up in the cozy Blue Faced Leicester goodness (the yarn is Fleece Artist Blue Face DK in Periwinkle). I do think it will be useful (I wear a lot of pullovers, mostly store-bought) and it seems to fit well, but I felt kind of stupid sitting there looking at my blue, tie-dyed self in the mirror. I still love semi-solids, and I like variegated yarns for accessories, but I should really think twice next time before casting on for a variegated sweater.

– I was using the Ravelry Friends’ Blogs tab to keep up with blogs. However, they seem to have made it so it only updates once a day, or even less frequently. I am saddened by this, and contemplating changing to Google Reader or bloglines.

Whee! I’d better go take that casserole out of the oven now.

I went to look at Gloriana’s new Lush and Lacy cardigan today. (Isn’t it lovely? I want one too.)

From there, I found fingers and toes, and after looking at her Lush and Lacy cardigan, I found the following meme:

“First you need a wikipedia random article . The article title is your band name.

Second, go here. The last four words of the last quotation on the page is your debut album title.

Thirdly, go here. The third picture on the page is your album cover.”

I wasn’t really meaning to put anything together, but I so liked the combination of the adorable hedgehog and the album title that I just had to go stick something together in Picnik.

Here’s Tim Bricheno.

The happy hedgehog image belongs to Apple and Eve, whose adorable embroidered plush animals are for sale at
And, as it turns out–this is what I liked most about the results of the meme–the joyful Learning to Love You More-type title comes not from a Sarky exhortation to live every moment to the fullest, but rather from from the bitingly sarcastic Dorothy Parker’s famous quip, “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”

I was going to say I didn’t do anything special for Chinese New Year this year, but I did realize I’ve had a pretty happy couple of days. I went to knitting night last night, where sheepdream kindly surprised me with a Ziploc baggie of BFL lambswool, wonderfully crimpy, raw, and sheepy, and I saw Nicole’s famed Giant Monster Twinkle Skirt in action (cute, in its own chunky, high-fashion way!), and I met some new folks; got the hem of the Hourglass Pullover knitted up without any provisional-cast-on mishaps; went to the gym and felt very virtuous; talked to my family (my dad sounded stressed because my grandma was supervising the cooking of the New Year’s dinner, but my grandma at least sounded pretty happy about it all); and got a ton of wonderful crap in the mail.

I hope to have some pictures up later, but in the meantime, I’ll just list some of the goodies I’ve gotten in the past few days:

  • some skeins of Noro Kureyon from a swap,
  • two skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Red Mahogany–I’ve never tried Malabrigo before!–because Whitknits had a sale and I had no self-control (I want to go all Gaughan and make a Sunflower Tam and Here and There Cables as a scarf-hat set),
  • zero stitch markers from the free shipping sale–I picked out a surprise set, and not only are they lovely (pink pearls), but Aija was a sweetie and included a couple of freebies sized for lace or sock knitting, and a whole sheaf of Etsy coupons for other vendors,
  • three separate packages from my mom, including, among other things, a sheep necklace , various silky scarves and pashminas she picked up for me on her recent trip to Korea, and a long, warm Calvin Klein down coat,
  • a sweet thank-you note for the February Baby Sweater,
  • a bunch of tax documents. OK, that part is not so exciting, but at least the other stuff made up for it.

And after a brief moment of malaise, I suddenly feel overcome with project ADD and want to cast on for a million things all at once.

  • Flicca, because the yarn takes up so much goddamn room in my closet, and I would much rather have it in the form of a sweater; it would go a long way towards 2 lbs. of yarn for the Sonny and Shear stashbusting coupon, and would be excellent for cuddling up in while I work at home;
  • The Half Circle Cardigan, because my natural inclination is apparently to take a LIFO/stack approach to my knitting and the yarn (Shibui Sock in mulberry) and pattern are newly acquired, hence burning a hole in my pocket; however, it will be useful later in the year, unlike the bulky, woolly knits I want to make, so perhaps I should hold off;
  • A Giant February Baby Sweater like Jenny’s, I’m thinking in organic cotton–it’s February and so of course it seems like the natural time to make one; but again, I should wait until the appropriate season…
  • The aforementioned Sunflower Tam and/or Here and There Cables;
  • Backyard Leaves. I really want to knit one of these, but I have more than enough scarves;
  • The Tangled Yoke cardigan, because it’s just so gorgeous, and I just found my long-lost size 3 Addi circular, which I suspect would get me gauge and would be long enough for the infinite loop cables;
  • Squares for a baby blanket for my friend who’s having a baby in the next month;
  • A lobster for my friend who’s having a baby in July;
  • A Baby Surprise Jacket for my friend who’s having a baby in approximately one week (I found out two days ago; wouldn’t the name be appropriate?);
  • a bearded hat for my darling for Valentine’s Day–he wears a ski mask when riding his bike to school in the cold, and I think he would appreciate a beardy hat with interchangeable mustaches instead;
  • I want to finish up the Dashing mitts I was making for my friend–they just need the thumbs and the ends woven in;
  • and on top of all this, I have about five patterns in a half-written state that really need to be tidied up and test-knitted and/or released into the wild. Codenames Helen, Slow Wave, Red, Botany, and Esmeralda, for my own personal reference. It’s frustrating for me–very easy to push these ultimately more fulfilling projects aside in favor of picking up other people’s patterns because I can crank those out mindlessly. I think I just need to set aside time to devote to thinking about designs and writing up patterns, and then just approach the patterns I’ve written like they were someone else’s; good for TV knitting, or knitting while reading. And I need to focus. I keep working on one for a while, then another, then going back and completely redoing the first, then losing patience with the knitting and re-knitting and starting something new.

So–that’s a lot of stuff. Perhaps I’ll have another Giftblitz weekend and try to at least take care of some or all of: the hat, the squares and jacket for the imminent babies, and the mitts. Then reassess priorities and try to make my project stack more of a queue like it should be.

I should also try to destash some more soon. I did a few destashes/swaps in the past couple of weeks and except for having to pay shipping (boo!) it felt great to get rid of things I wasn’t using.

Anyway, other goodness: I’m going to have a nice dinner with my boyfriend and some friends in about half an hour, I’m going to a training session for my moonlighting job tomorrow morning, the weekend should be reasonably warm and sunny, and I’m getting a cost-subsidized manicure and pedicure on Monday night. There’s a new quilt exhibit at the anthropology museum and I want to go see it.

Time to go eat some country-fried seitan now. Starving!

Yesterday I came down with some annoying illness, most likely the flu. Woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday feeling nauseous and wondering if all the double dipping at the Superbowl party we went to might have landed me something terrible. Then I was so wiped out I took most of the day off work yesterday and spent about 10 hours sleeping (between my Sunday night sleeping and my sleeping last night). Now I’m back to work, but feeling feverish, crabby, achy, and tired. I’m hoping complaining will make me feel better!

Anyway–some knitting-related content:

– Here’s a nice little tutorial for making your own DPN WIP holders. Vegan ones, to boot.

– I started up my Hourglass Sweater again during one of the three or four hours I was awake yesterday. I couldn’t handle the thought of anything more than plain stockinette, so it worked out. I finished one sleeve (yay!) and started the second one. I’m knitting it in Fleece Artist BFL DK in Periwinkle and the colors are really gorgeous. I keep hearing all these paeans to the texture of BFL, so I’m interested to see how it looks and feels once it’s all knitted up, washed, and blocked.

– Of possible interest to Bloomington knitters: I stopped by the Textillery factory outlet this weekend. They have many nice, cheap woven throws and blankets; sadly, their selection of coned yarn is of more interest to weavers. There were a couple of nice yarns for knitting, super cheap, something like $10 a pound: some slightly slubby fingering-weight rayon (I swatched some of this in a lace class at Yarns Unlimited and it was actually really nice to knit, reminded me a bit of Sea Silk) that would be good for lace scarves or shawls, and some cotton chenille that would be nice for washcloths, such as the Reverse Bloom Flower Washcloth (pattern in Weekend Knitting, but available for free here). If you’re in the AIT/motel complex and trying to find the outlet, go down past the Quality Inn and all the way to the left.