Monday, December 24, 2007

The First Annual BadCat Holiday Contest

This week finds me as busy as ever, with no time for new knitting and even less time for new designs. It could make me almost as cranky as my little "Party Pooper" sheep. I got him last year, and if you push him down, his tail lifts up and he poops jelly beans. Every fiber loving person should have one... But I found something even funnier under the tree this year. Here is my new Run Quickly Sheep. He has "truely scamper action." I got one for me and one
Here is the deal. Leave me a Haiku about sheep, warm and fuzzy for the holiday season, in my comments. Funny gets special points. I will select the Haiku that I enjoy the most, and send the author a Run Quickly Sheep to enjoy! Be sure you leave an email address with your comment, because I can't reach you if you don't!

Here is my daughter's Sheep Haiku, to get you started:

Come, sheep in your white
Coats of warmth, to my spinning
Wheel, to give me wool.

Peace on earth and good will to all! Meow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Circular Start Revisted...

One of the frequent barriers knitters have, to projects that start from the center, is the start. A center start can be frustrating, especially in very fine yarn; frustrating but achievable. The more you do it the easier it becomes. Practice makes perfect and all that... Less experienced knitters should not avoid patterns that have a center start. I suggest you do the opposite. Jump in and try a few different techniques. There are many free patterns on the Internet for doilies, which usually have a center start. The start for my recent doily involved making a loop and picking up stitches from either side of the "hole," placing the stitches on double pointed needles, and pulling both ends to snug it up. You can see the results here. Fleegle shows an excellent technique that involves the same process, using two circular needles. You can see a full discussion of her technique here:
I used an entirely different technique for The Veil of Isis, because I started with only four stitches, which is a different challenge. You can see the entire process for that technique here:

Another blogger, Rosemarie Buchanan, shows yet another excellent circular start here: , which she calls a "belly button" start. Another great option for a center start with few stitches.

Yet another excellent resource can be found here at Judy Gibson's site: , which covers Emily Ocker's circular start. You can also find an illustrated description of the same start here, in this wonderful book.

The circular start is at the back of the book, but it comes along with a discussion of Pi Shawls (and other great EZ stuff.) Just think! For very little money, you can buy this book, see an excellent circular start AND try it to make a Pi shawl! What could be better? Maybe a doily, you say? Well try this:

This website is owned and maintained by Nurhanne Reckweg, who has translated some of the best doily patterns on the Internet, and the above link takes you to some tips and tricks for doily knitting. While you are on her site, I suggest you look around and find the free doily patterns, which you can use with any of these circular starts. CAST ON!

12/15/07 Addition! Fleegle sent me this link: which shows a Turkish style cast-on. The selling point of this technique is that you do not have a hole in the center when you are done. This might be a good option in certain situations, and Fleegle says it is an easy way to negotiate just four stitches for a center start. I have only used this technique for starting socks from the toe and hats from the top, but I will try it for lace the next chance I get. Meow...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Doily Has Landed

My doily is blocking and I am very pleased with this little project. The pictures are not great, in that the thread is still wet in areas and has a blotchy appearance. If you can ignore that, I will show you what made this so much fun. Around the edges of the very central petals there are two-stitch cables which give you the interesting texture you see.
You can really see those "texture" stitches here, along with the decrease lines to give the large leaves a veined appearance.
Here you can see the "veining" of the leaves clearly and also good use of single yarn-overs up the center of the leaves, and double yarn-overs inside the flower petals.

This doily was knit with #10 cotton, in a "linen" color and US 2-0 needles. I used about 400 yards of cotton and the finished dimension is 23 inches across, under blocking tension. The pattern is the cover design from Special Diana Strickdeckchen D944. It was designed by Zdenka Holacka.
I have some other knitting to get done before I move further into the doily process, but in a few weeks I hope to post a small original doily pattern to work on techniques; in particular the center start and negotiating double-pointed needles. Like everything else, it just takes practice and a strong will to get it right. Small doilies are perfect for practicing. I will post later this week with more information about center starts in the literature. Until that time, knit on! Meow...

Monday, December 3, 2007

What is on my needles?

I have a good number of things on my needles right now...all are calling to me softly. The lovely sampler in white Lacey Lamb is half done and has an end-of-the-year deadline. Hecate is languishing, the first panel almost complete and ready for the deep edging. The lovely, powder-blue silk-cashmere leaf scarf is inches from done. So what am I knitting? A doily, which was calling very loudly.

I was visiting a dear friend the other day, and she was "organizing" her things. In the process, we discovered she had DUPLICATES of several old magazines filled with doily patterns. I quickly relocated them to my home, under the guise of helping her "organize."

So here you have them, all in perfect condition, with the charts completely unused. How lucky am I??? I have the most wonderful friends. When I got them home, I sat and looked them all over very carefully, choosing the perfect "first" doily. I have knit many things with a center start, and even things you might call doily-esque (at least my husband always called my lace knitting doilies) but I have actually never knit a real doily. I wanted something nice, but not crazy, with charts that made good sense without intensive research. My husband has dubbed these new magazines (and any new doily things I will now collect) as Stricken Chicken books (referring to me and not the magazines, really.) I apologize to my European readers for his American humor. It is kind of funny though...
I selected a doily pattern by Zdenka Holacka, From Special Diana D944. She knit it in #20 thread on 1.5mm needles and I am using #10 cotton and 1.75mm needles. The cotton was all I had around when I "needed" to cast-on. Since that time, I prevailed upon a friend in California to send me a bit of the 60/2 Tussah Silk from Lacis, that you can see in the picture above. That little package has 500 yards in it! That will be doily #2. I used an excellent start that was illustrated in the magazine, very like the circular start Fleegle showed us ( using two circular needles, but instead using double-points which is what I did. I really like double-pointed needles, but I know others don't feel the same fondness... It starts with 12 stitches, so is relatively easy to do. I am on row 85 of 119 (considerably further along than the picture above) and will post a blocking picture, I bet by the end of the week. I am loving it and already looking for what I will do next, with that 60/2 silk. Excuse me while I go dig out my reading glasses from my embroidery box...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Wrap it up!

I thought I would take a moment to review some of what this Saigon Scarf project was about. I worked through some new patterns to see how they transitioned from one to the next with some success. I tried a new edging design, also with some success. I tried a new bead technique (the double beads) with some success. All in all, this has been an excellent swatch. I hope this will now become a few different new projects in the new year. I am leaving you with this one final chart, as promised. If you prefer symmetry, start with chart 1, knit chart 2 until the desired length, and end with this final chart. It will look very nice...

My Final Materials and Finished Size:
-I used #8 square-hole, gold lined Japanese seed beads for all beads.
-I Used 1 skein of Elann Baby Lace (Alpaca/Merino lace weight yarn) 50gms (600 yards/skein.) Another great choice would be Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb (one ball.)
-I Used US 2 knitting needles. My gauge was 5 stitches to the inch firmly blocked in stockinette stitch. My finished dimensions were 11 inches wide and 51 inches long blocking. It relaxed after I unpinned it.
-I used a US #13 crochet hook.
-Yarn needle for finishing and T-pins for blocking.

I would like to remind everyone that this is the final post in a series, with the label"Saigon." Please review all posts in this series before casting on. This project is offered for your personal use, without a fee, but I request you take a look at the first post in this series, where I discuss my design inspiration and suggest a charitable donation from all knitters of this design who have the resources! Happy holidays, in plenty of time for you to knit this scarf as a gift!
My next post will be later this weekend on a totally new track. Meow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The home stretch...

I finished Saigon just in time for my daughter to wear her to a party. They both looked lovely. Here is the final chart for "the original" version, but I will post one last chart at the end of this week, for those knitters who crave symmetry. I will also post my wrap-up, including final yarn-yardage use and project comments. I want to remind everyone that this is part of a series of posts, and you must review all the posts with the "Saigon" label to follow the process. Knit on!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Medley...

We have much to be thankful for, here at BadCat's home. Good food, good knitting, wonderful family and friends...what more could I ask for?

We are a frenzy of cooking, so I thought we would share more recipes. First we have sprouts, which will be roasted before serving. I modified this recipe and left out the bacon, to please my vegetarians:

Next we have the chestnut stuffing, which is almost this recipe: Some is in the turkey and some is in a pan and will be baked away from the bird, also to please my vegetarians!
Here is the red wine my brother sent over. The white is equally as good and in the fridge chilling. You can start drooling any time now...
Here is Hello Kitty, dissecting the turkey ventricle. I would like to point out that she is one of my vegetarians. She won't eat it, but in the name of science, she will make the most of it.
Here is the fourth chart for The Saigon Scarf, in case you have nothing to knit between dinner courses! There is one chart left to go after today, which I will post early next week, along with the alternate ending for those who selected symmetry. The final picture below the chart shows you the entire scarf, blocking, with an indication of where each chart begins. Please remember that this is one in a series of posts, and you need to review all the posts with the Saigon label to follow along! Meow...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm still cooking...

The timer is counting down, and the house is actually clean. We have enough chairs. We don't have enough plates. I found the table clothes. We are almost ready for that quality family time... Today I made cranberry relish with orange zest garnish. Pretty, eh? I cook like I knit. I might plan to follow a recipe, but almost always get side-tracked. In the case of my cranberry relish, I came close to following this:
The man made his pies, and they look delicious. The whole house smelled edible. He uses soft wheat and grinds just the amount of flour he needs for the crusts. Here we have another Kitchen Aide attachment we love. If we ground flour all the time, this might not be the right tool, but for the occasional fresh-ground flour, this is perfect. It doesn't take long and the taste is worth the extra effort. Because it is soft wheat, and the flour is fluffy from being freshly ground, you can get away with 100% whole wheat and still have a tender and flaky crust.
Here they are, tomorrow's dessert, cooling tonight. We will warm them up and serve them with fresh whipped cream. Tomorrow I will make stuffing, roast the turkey and an assortment of root vegetables, make gravy and prepare brussel sprouts. How does that sound? I'll try to post the next Saigon chart tomorrow before my guests arrive (along with the details of cooking escapades...)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Saigon Scarf Transition

This is the fifth in a series of posts. If you are new to the party, please take a few minutes to review all posts with the "Saigon" label.
The chart I am posting today is a transition chart from the current pattern to the next pattern. This chart is knit once, after you have completed as many repeats of chart two as you wanted. The pattern we are moving into is really interesting and fun to work. Everyone who has seen me knitting it likes it. That said, if you feel conservative you are welcome to continue knitting chart two until the scarf is a good length and wait for me to post a final chart for you. That will be when I am done and make a chart that reverses chart one. If you are more adventurous, follow me... This picture illustrates the section you will be knitting with today's chart. What you won't appreciate until blocking is the movement in the pattern. This is a good exploration of lace patterning, where the increases and decreases begin near each other and move away from each other, creating undulations in the fabric. The border of this scarf achieves scallops the same way. Enjoy! The next chart will be posted after Thanksgiving. More glamorous food photos to come!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The right tool for the job!

We are all food, all day long, chez BadCat. When the food part is done I get to clean, so I'll stretch the food out as long as possible. I love chestnut stuffing, but several years ago I almost cut my finger off making crosses in the chestnuts before roasting them. ER, stitches, Tetanus shot...the works. That put a damper on my Thanksgiving spirit. I haven't made the chestnut stuffing since that time...but wait! Look what we found at Chef Central! A handy Chestnutter, gadget of the month! Do you see those lovely chestnuts, already roasted and shelled? The Chestnutter cut the cross into the top of each nut without any fuss. The right tool for the job, eh? For years my husband has been making his great grandmother's pumpkin pie recipe, which requires cutting the pumpkin, cleaning it, steaming it, cutting off the rind, and straining it by pressing it through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Do you have any idea how long that took? Too we got this lovely strainer attachment for our Kitchen Aide. The right tool for the job!
Here it is, all set to go, with the cover off so you can appreciate the workings. This was my husbands suggested shot. He is an engineer. We put the cover back on because I am the home safety officer.
So fast and simple, no big deal! This was like an early holiday gift for the man! We can't believe it took us this long to buy one.
So this big pile of steamed pumpkin turned into this large bowl of creamy pumpkin puree in a jiffy. Now we cook it down very slowly, so it gets really thick, use the secret family recipe, make the crusts and bake the pies! Later this week I will show you how the engineer grinds wheat for flour, to make his special pie crusts. That involves more good tools!
So you shouldn't think I have forsaken Saigon, I promise the next chart and progress shots tomorrow. I will need an excuse to take a break from the dreaded cleaning...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saigon Post Four

Here is the next Saigon Scarf chart, and it should keep you knitting for quite a few days. I did 12 repeats for mine. The next two charts, to be posted in the next two weeks, will be for the more adventurous. If you're feeling more conservative I will post alternate direction, but for those of you who are willing to give in to something different, join me as I morph from this chart to the next when I post again.
The long road of scarf is coming together. I had a wonderful evening with my daughter, swapping tunes on YouTube. If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it. My daughter showed me a little Avril Lavigne and Vanessa Carlton and I showed her some Avril Lavigne doing Bob Dylan and Counting Crows doing Joni Mitchell, and we did a little Avril Levigne's version of Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" with my daughter singing and me playing guitar, having a long discussion about protest songs and war, today and in 1973 when I was the same age as my daughter..I had a good momma moment. So back to knitting... Here is where you can see Chart 2 knitted, details below. Please be sure you review all the previous posts with "Saigon" as the label before you start this project, because we are several posts in. I insist. The next post will be up early next week, and might include more food and less knitting because I am cooking for Thanksgiving and that is my most favorite holiday of all.

The kitty says "knit on!" Meow.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Extreme Knitting Needles

As a distraction, I took a look through my knitting needles. I did this when I should have been furiously knitting. I recently ordered some really small gauge needles and when they arrived I decided to dig around and compare. This is what was handy and didn't have any knitting on we have:Single Points
Heartstrings US 00 (1.75), 000 (1.5), 000 (1.25)
Clover Bamboo and other needles procured in SE Asia:
US 0 and larger
Grandma Rose's old metal needles assorted 0s - 2s
Double Points
Susan Bates "sock set" (a very good investment): 5 each of
US 1 (2.25), 0 (2.0), 00 (1.75), 000 (1.5)
HiyaHiya stainless sets of 5
00 (1.75), 000 (1.5), 0000 (1.2), 5-0 (1), 6-0 (0.7)
HiyaHiya in same sizes as the double points
Knitpicks US 0 (2.0)
Addi Lace US 1 (2.5)

So who would ever use 6-0 circs, you ask? I have no clue. I just wanted to see what they looked like! The join might catch, so I will put a tiny bit of clear nail polish at the join and try some thread the next time I feel the need for micro-knitting. The "larger" sizes all have reasonable joins. I regularly knit on US 0s, so it is only a matter of time before I use those 6-0s! If you would enjoy an assortment of really small gauge needles, take a look at under needles and then "small and pointy." Everyone needs them. Meow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I am one step ahead of myself...

So I will try not to trip! I had the pleasure of watching MicroCosmos last night. It is an extremely cool and up-close look at insects (and some other small creatures.) There is an amazingly sensual snail sequence that I still can't get over, and that is all I have to say about it for yourselves. Saigon wasn't quite as impressed by the bugs...but I have made some reasonable progress on her anyway, and because I had some unexpected time to myself this evening, I decided to get the first chart up. The close-up below shows where the first chart will take you. I am working with lace-weight yarn on US #2 needles and 8 Japanese seed beads, and I think this project will look best in this fine a gauge. Choose for yourselves!
Don't forget that all the pages of this pattern are in landscape view, so print them as such. Please read every post in the series and print all the pattern pages before you begin to knit. This is pattern page 2. If you click on the Saigon label at the end of this post, you will get the entire series of posts, to date. Use this first chart as a "swatch," to see if you like your gauge. Fool around with different needle sizes until you get the look you like before moving ahead.
I decide to spend my free time posting and knitting (and not blocking,) so these are the pictures you are getting for right now! The second chart will be up within a week. Knit on!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Let the game begin

I would like to start by reminding my dear readers that this is the second in a series of posts which will include the full directions for a lace scarf I am currently working on. I respectfully request you take a moment to read the previous posts for the full experience. Each post will build on the previous posts, so at the end you will have a cohesive pattern. If you jump in in the middle, just go to the "Saigon" label at the bottom of any related post to catch up.

And so, here is the first section (and some of the second.) It is pinned out and not wet-blocked, so the picture is just a general idea of what the final piece will look like. Excuse my pinning, but the front edge will actually be rounded (without the scallops.) The side edges have scallops created by the placement of the yarn-overs in relation to the compensatory decreases. There are small "flowers" running up the center, highlighted with beads. I don't think this pictures is that worthwhile, but it was the best I could do tonight, and I wanted to get things going. I will try to wet-block my progress and photograph it for the next post.
The following is page one of the Saigon Scarf pattern. All the pages in this pattern will print best in landscape mode. As usual, if you notice any errors or have a question, feel free to leave me a comment. Anyone wishing to knit along is welcome to join my low chat Yahoo group. The link is along the left edge of the blog.
Look for the first chart and more pictures by next weekend. Meow...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

An Early Holiday Gift

Over the next month, I will be posting charts for a new design. It will be either a scarf or stole, dictated by the weight yarn you choose to use. The design is asymmetrical but classic and includes 1 or 2 sizes of beads, and lace. It will be a mystery only in that I will post my knitting progress as I post the charts. You can choose to knit with me, and see the design develop as we go, or wait until I finish and decide if you like it! If you knit with me it will be a holiday gift, in time to give to someone you like enough to knit for.

In the spirit of holiday gift-giving, I ask that everyone with the resources, who knits this pattern, considers making a small donation to an organization I work with. The organization is World Wide Orphans (WWO) and a link to their website is here:
This link also gives you information about the organization:
If you let me know how much you donated in an email to
I will keep a running total of our giving on the blog. If you don’t have the resources to donate money right now, join us anyway and give how and when you can.

I have been to Viet Nam several times with WWO, and the flavor of the country is amazing. This new design tries to share the mood of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon.) The city is traditional and modern at the same time. I suggest golds, oranges, reds and purples. The yardage required will vary by the size you want and the gauge you get, but about 800 yards should do it in any gauge. If you need a very specific yardage and bead tally, wait until the full pattern is posted at the end of the month.

I will be using these materials:
The finished width will be dictated by the weight of yarn you choose, so check your gauge with the yarn you like to estimate the width of your final piece. At the widest point the piece is 53 stitches across. The first chart I post (which will actually be the third post in the series) will be a gauge swatch and also the first section of the scarf/stole. The finished length is up to the knitter. The beads are optional, but add to the design.

Here’s to a joyous upcoming holiday season for all of us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Slave to the Gypsy Queen...Halloween Eve

Halloween Eve is upon me, and the Gypsy Queen had a lovely time scoring candy. I don't sew much these days, but once a year she puts me through my paces. I did pretty well this time, if I do say so myself! I haven't gotten much knitting done this week, but I'll be back...

Here is a swatch for my Sampler Workshop, using very fine 2-ply Shetland yarn. I think I like it, but the yarn is so crisp I am not sure how to best use it. It makes a pretty swatch!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sampler Workshop!

I am giving a workshop in Sampler Knitting for the Westchester Knitting Guild and there are a few spots still available. It will be on November 17th, from 11am-5pm, in Valhalla, New York. You do not need to be a guild member to join us. I will be covering several lace knitting techniques, including a temporary cast-on, directional decreases, a nice edging and corner miters for the edging. During the workshop we will knit a large swatch using all the above techniques. The handout will include the full chart-set for my Blue Ribbon Sampler, which was pictured in the most recent Vogue Knitting and has not even been release for sale yet! If you are interested, contact Olive McNeil ( for full details and to reserve a space.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What I Brought Home From Rhinebeck...

So these Japanese size 8 beads are not from Rhinebeck. I got them last Friday on 6th Avenue, in a few shops between 39th and 36th streets in Manhattan. I was at a conference and had an hour at lunch time...
This a wonderful merino/silk top from Chasing Rainbows. It spins as nicely as it looks.
New lace-weight spindles for my collection. Each a great spinner, and each a beauty.
Merino/silk roving from Foxhill Farms, with about 60 yards I did on one of the new spindles.
More delicious merino/silk top from Chasing Rainbows, with about 60 yards I did on another of my new spindles. I have a plan for this yarn already, and it involves some of those gold beads in the first picture...
Yarn. 50% merino/50% angora in a lace-weight. It looks like it will take dye very well to me.
And last but not least, some very fine lace-weight 2-ply Shetland for good measure. It isn't very soft, but it is crisp and should make excellent lace.
I am shopped out for now! I'll be back soon with a new set of charts; but first I need to get the Gypsy Queen ready for Halloween night. Stand-by...