Feelin' the love

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Do you love mutts?

If so, LuvMutt is having a little contest for the best summer mutt pic. Both Panda and Thea are represented, but honestly, you should vote for whomever you like best of the bunch.

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Head on over to vote now.

And if that isn't love enough, check out Goofy Dogs, a new site devoted to great pictures of dogs. Do you have a dog? Is your dog goofy? Send your pictures in and feel the love. Panda and Thea are there too!

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You know I'm a happy doggy mum.

When is three less than one?

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It's funny, when we got Panda, she was 9 months old and a very gentle and timid sort. You could give her a stern look and she'd tuck her tail and hide in a corner. Teaching her what is ours and what is hers was a breeze. She quickly learned, "leave it," and anything that was ever dubbed as such was unharmed.

Thea, she is much younger, much more confident and far less concerned with the repercussions of her mischief. She's a good girl, don't get me wrong, but she lives in the moment and runs a little fast and loose with the law of the house. One must be ever diligent to catch her before she slips up, which is why I have only myself to blame for this.

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I closed the girls out of the office, during an important conference call, and when I came out, Thea had her handiwork on display. It's that delicious baby camel down that Thea so beautifully modeled, a little while back.

She tried to look sorry

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But then something interesting passed by the kitchen window

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As you can imagine, it was no small feat to untangle the mess, but the yarn was salvageable.

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Only two breaks, leaving me with two small and one larger ball of yarn. So, while my three little balls might not be quite as good as my one larger skein, it could definitely be worse.

Now, tell me again about how lucky I am to have such well behaved little girls. I think I need a reminder. Oh wait, here's one.

Using Excel for Complex Lace Charts

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Cross posted at the Create Along

This tutorial is the 4th in my set of Excel tutorials. You can see the others here:

And, if you happen to have any tutorials of your own, please let me know.

In my last tutorial, I cover creating simple lace charts in Excel. Today, we'll approach a more complex lace pattern and introduce the no stitch. The lace pattern, I'll be covering, is most of the Peri's Parasol pattern I used in Chapeau Marnier.

What is a "no stitch"

More than any other single question, I get this most of all and I think it boils down to a lot of over thinking from the knitting community. Often, people ask if it means a stitch should be slipped. A no stitch, in fact, simply means there is no stitch in that spot. Some lace and cable patterns, change stitch count from row to row. The chart can be made a little more intuitive by distributing the stitches in a logical manner and spacing them with "no stitch" blocks. Generally, when using a "no stitch," one should format it in such a way that it can easily recede from focus. I usually shade mine in gray or black.

Format your spreadsheet

I begin, as always, by adjusting my cells so that they are approximately stitch like in proportion. See the tutorial on colorwork for more information about this step.

 


 

Select all the cells, go to the FORMAT menu and choose CELL


 

Set the alignment to be centered both horizontally and vertically. This will ensure your symbols are centered. Set your font size and add borders to all your cells.


8 random things

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My friend Kat tagged me for the 8 random things. I've done 100 things about myself and some other memes, and covered a lot of ground, but since this is "8 random things" I'm not going to talk about my idiosyncrasies, per se, instead, I'm just going to tell you 8 random stories from my life. If you know me well, in real life, you've probably heard some or all of these, but I think they will all be new to most of you. Some of them are sort of sad, some are funny, they all stick with me as meaningful moments in my life; times when I learned something about myself or about other people.

  1. As a very young child, my parents had cars with vinyl seats. In the hot days of summer, sans air conditioning, we'd drive to various and sundry locations and, inevitably, my skin would adhere to those seats. When time would come to exit the vehicle, extracting myself from the seat was often painful.

    Come Christmas season, my parents put a cute little dress on me and brought me to the mall to sit on Santa's lap. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I got it in my head that, because I was wearing a short shirt, I would end up sticking to Santa's lap. The thought horrified me. As we neared Santa, I burst into tears. My parents had no idea what had come over me./li>

    More after the bump

Cross posted at the Create Along

People run pretty hot and cold, when it comes to the topic of charts. Personally, I'm a big fan of them, and when it comes to lace, I find it nearly impossible to work without a chart. If you saw my knitting notebooks, you'd see that, no matter how simple or complex, I always chart my lace patterns out. If you enjoy working from charts or if you ever need to create a chart for a pattern, you can produce good clean results with spreadsheet software like Excel. I've created several tutorials in the past, which you can access here. This tutorial will use some of the same techniques I've covered in Using Excel to design colorwork and Using Excel to aid in writing multi-sized patterns. If you haven't seen those tutorials and you aren't comfortable using a program like Excel, I suggest you browse them to get the basic concepts of working in Excel.

The lace

I've chosen a very simple lace stitch pattern, designed by Dorothy Reade, which I'm using in Donna Druchunas' upcoming book.

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Here are the verbose instructions.

Multiple of 6+7
Foundation row: k1, *kbl, yo, ddc, yo, kbl, k1* repeat to end of row
Even numbered rows: Purl
Row 1: ssk, *yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, ddc* to last 6 stitches, then, yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, k2tog
Rows 3, 5, and 7: ssk, *yo, k3, yo, ddc* to last 6 stitches, then, yo, k3, yo, k2tog
Row 9 and 13: k1 *kbl, yo, ddc, yo, kbl, k1* repeat to end of row
Row 11: ssk, *yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, ddc* to last 6 stitches, then, yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, k2tog

These instructions could be compressed even further, as the foundation row, 9, and 13 are all identical and 1 and 11 are identical. Even so, I find it hard to use these instructions to visualize what I'm doing. I also find that it takes me longer to memorize a lace pattern if I can't see it charted out.

Set up your workspace

Select all the rows and cells in your Excel sheet and adjust the size of the cells to mimic the shape of a knit stitch. If need be, refer to the colorwork tutorial for more information on how to do this.

Based on the verbose instructions, I see that the +7 is made up of one stitch at the beginning of the row and 6 at the end and that there is a foundation row and 7 public side rows. Because I know this, I can number my rows and add grid lines.

If you can't determine this from reading the instructions, just begin charting your lace, and go back add the row and stitch counts and your grid lines, later.

Inserting the first row of symbols

Foundation row: k1, *kbl, yo, ddc, yo, kbl, k1* repeat to end of row

There is no need to download fancy schmancy knitting fonts. You can communicate with your standard set of characters. See the key above, to see how I've translated the stitches to letters. Use characters that will make sense to you. I like a blank stitch for knit, "t" for "twist," "o" for "yo," and slashes and a carrot for the decreases. Don't like that? Do something different. I won't hate.

The first row with a modified last repeat

Row 1: ssk, *yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, ddc* to last 6 stitches, then, yo, kbl, k, kbl, yo, k2tog

The first row in which we have a reason for those extra 6 stitches at the end. While the main pattern repeat requires a double decrease, the first and last decreases of the row will be single decreases. You will be able to see this more clearly when we get to the end.

Convert remaining rows to chart format

Complete the pattern as indicated in the verbose instructions. Whenever I can, I like to copy and paste, duplicate stitches and rows. Do whatever works best for you.

Double check your work, going stitch by stitch from text to chart.

The end results are neat and clean, but would probably cause confusion. It's not clear where the pattern repeats begins and ends.

Outline the repeat

Select the stitches that make up the repeat. In some patterns, this is very intuitive based on how the pattern is written, but some patterns are harder to distill down to a repeat, especially those where the location of the repeat shifts for one area to another. Lucky for us, this pattern is expressly written to make the repeat obvious, it's everything between the two asterisks [*]

Just select the stitches you want to outline, and choose a thick border to outline it. You can choose a custom border by going to the FORMAT menu and choosing CELL.

Shading for clarity

Finally, to make the repeat really obvious, shade everything that only gets worked once per row. This makes the repeat really clear and visually indicates the secondary elements.

I think that you'll find that many lace and knit/purl stitch patterns can be worked up this way. Have fun with it.

In the next tutorial, I'll cover doing more complex lace charts and discuss the ever-confounding "no stitch."

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