Blog - Patty Lyons | Knitting Teacher

Off to Italy

I’m heading off on vacation tomorrow, so you won’t hear from me in a while. We are going to Italy for 10 wonderful days. I haven’t even packed yet, but first I had to decide what projects I was taking. I’m bringing the bikini I’m making for Jenny, but I’m afraid my super sharp #4 knit picks might be taken away, so just in case I have to check that project, I’m taking a cotton tank along on my Denise (plastic) interchangeables.

I have huge news to tell you all, but I’ll write about it when I get back. I want to tell you all the whole crazy story, but I have to pack.

More after Pisa, Sienna, Cinque Terre, and Venice!

Everything old is new again

I’m overflowing with pattern ideas lately. I have to buy some cute little notebook to store inspiration and pattern ideas. Right now I’m working on a pattern for a bikini for one of the Jersey Girls. I want to make it to fit her perfectly, so I’m building the pattern by knitting up a sample in junk yarn so I can fit it to her. I’m going to make it with Cascade Fixation. It’s a cotton yarn with elastic built in, so I’m hoping it will hug her nicely. She should be able to swim in it. Here’s the sample 1/2 of top I made.

It’s hard to tell from this picture because the scrap yarn I have is a variegated color, but there’s a little cat paw lace pattern near the top of the cup

She wants a really tiny hipster bottom, so I’m not sure if the cutouts for the top of the bikini bottom will work. It may have to add some height beyond what she wants for it to not be obscene.

In the world of finished products. I LOVE my Tempting II

To sum up my journey . . .

Too loose:

Too tight:


LOVE this sweater!!!

As for the cotton cable. I finished the body. I pinned it together to try it on for size:

As is my style, I added shaping to the sides. I’m so glad I did. I think without shaping, it would hang much more like a white cabled potato sack.

Here’s the ribbed boat neck

and the cable edge

Just when I’m thinking a lot about patterns and construction I come to work and find out one of the hair staff has bought an antique pattern book.

She, very kindly said I could xerox anything I wanted. I loved some of these sweaters. Here are the ones I’m going to add to my “sweater cue”. The cable number on the cover (without the tie around the neck. Maybe make it a v neck, or just let it drop open)

Maybe knit as is w/o the button closure, or a shawl collar

Knit with only one color (no little “tree top” color changes)

Knit the one to the right in some yummy mohair

AHHH!! There’s not enough hours in the day, or yarn in the world to knit everything I want to knit.

Dodging the stream

Today was a great day. I slept until noon (okay, that I didn’t plan, but I’ve needed to catch up on my sleep). The Tempting II was finally over it’s growing pains and ready to leave the safety and security of the needles. . . so that meant it was time to pick out it’s buckle. I headed over to Britex to the fantastic notion floor. They have a ton of buckles, so I was sure I’d find something great. I found a fabulous vintage shell buckle. It was the only one left and it had a little crack in it, so I got it for $3.00 (usually $12.00 – yeah!!). It was a beautiful sunny, summery (for San Francisco) day so I took a walk down Powell to do a little window shopping along Market.

Of course it wouldn’t be a beautiful summer day in downtown San Francisco without dodging a stream of urine. What was that? A stream of what? This was after all, Market Street in San Francisco. That means even in the middle of a crowded street, in broad day light, full of tourists, you’re bound to walk past someone with their back to you doing something that should be done in private. Sure enough as I passed a mans back I saw a stream of liquid coming towards me that, let’s put it this way, I knew was not spilled soda (unless you are using “spilled” in a very biological way). The New Yorker in me identified the stream as quickly as Robo Cop identifying a criminal. In one deft move, I successfully dodged the stream with not a drop on my shoe, and not a missed step. Some might focus on the urine and let it get them down. I was feeling full of hope for the future and I was proud of my ability to dodge.

When I got home I bound off the sweater, sewed in the buckle, tried it on, and was VERY happy. I post some pics of me in it as soon as I can get someone to take some photos. I’m sick of the pics in the mirror thing. Here it is:

Here’s my $3.00 buckle.

I got it finished just in time to meet up for coffee with a special visiting knitter from New York. Then I headed off for another lovely evening with Chicks with Sticks.

Tempting take two

Okay, so I did a bit more blog searching and found others with the same problem. I wonder how in the world the pattern can work as written. Here’s a picture from someone’s blog of the sweater as written:

Then she replaced the last K 1, K2 tog row with K2 tog all the way around. She also did what I was thinking which is P2 tog with first stitch from band and next stitch on yoke. Here was her result:

I found this page after I went a little nuts with my modifications.

1) I knit the band on US 7 instead of 8
2) I k2 tog all the way across
3) I SSK the last stitch of the band w/the next stitch of the yoke
I P2 tog with the first stitch of the band w/the next stitch of the yoke

Although better than the pattern I was still not happy. First with the K2 tog all the way around the last row of the yoke left holes all the way around the band. Next the neck was now too high

little too high for me

Nun neck line
(the camera angle makes my chest look huge. BELIEVE me, just an illusion)

Sassy neck line

I know I’ve already done it once, but it’s still not the sweater of my dreams. So that means one thing and one thing only:

Ripit, Ripit

Here’s what I didn’t like from version 2. The K2 tog all the way around brought the neck too high up and I didn’t like the way it left little holes all the way around. The band in US 7 made it too small and pull across. The P2 tog at the beginning of every WS made the band pull too much, especially across the shoulders.

Here’s what I’m going to try next. First I’m going to frog the band, and rip back past the k2 tog row and one of the rib rounds.

Version 3:

1) K1, K2 tog all the way around (as written)
2) K all the way around (to avoid the little hole between the K2 togs)
3) K the band with US 8
4) (RS) K1, P1 rib until last stitch. SKK knit the last stitch on the band to next stitch on yoke
(WS) P2 tog with first stitch on band with next stitch on yoke, K1, P1 rib to end

Do step 4 across body. When I get to the 40 stitches of the sleeve I will alternate with the pattern as written. This will give a little more room to go across the shoulders.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you all know how it turns out.

Tempting II tragedy

Tempting II . . . I’m tempted to kill someone.

I saw it coming. I never knit from patterns without messing with them. I adapt them for my shape, I read through and find boo boos and fix. I never just pick up a pattern and knit it as written. Until now. I even went so far as to go on e-bay to buy Rowan Calmer (since I did a lot of reading about how unique it is). Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:

The instruction for the yoke seemed suspect to me. I read other people’s blogs and there were many cute versions out there, and nobody mentioned any problems with the band. Some people changed the yoke to K2 tog all the way around, but it was this that seemed like “how the hell will this work”

Using a new ball of yarn and double-point needles, CO 11 sts. Work in 1×1 Rib until work measures 5 inches, ending with a WS row.

Next Row [RS]: Work in patt to last st, ssk last st of band tog with first st of neckline.
Next Row [WS]: Work in patt.
Repeat these 2 rows until all sts of neck have been worked.

That means there’s two rows of the band to every single stitch. Although I was filled with disbelief, I soldiered on. I somehow believed it would all come out okay in the end. This is what made more sense to me (Patty’s version of above)

Next row (RS): Work in patt to last st, ssk last st of band tog with first st of neckline. Next row (WS): P2 tog w/first stitch of band with next stitch of yoke, work across row in patt

I stupidly wasted all my time finishing it. Here’s what it looked like

Still, I soldiered on. Next step was to seam up the arm holes. The pattern called for a three needle bind off, but I was afraid that would make it too bulky, so I did kitchener stitch instead. I was still left with this delightful hole:

I had to add several more stitches to make it look okay:

At this point I tried it on. It looked like ass. Here it is in all it’s floppy glory:

I tried tucking in the ends and seeing what it would look like buckled. No better:

I was feeling depressed and then I found this web page. It featured another sad knitter who’s Tempting II looked EXACTLY like mine:

All right all you Tempting II knitters out there. What’s the secret. How come some of us knit happy products with NO mention of altering the pattern, while others followed the pattern and ended up with a floppy mess.

Lemme know

Tony night & ADD knitting day

Last week was another long week at work. We had a little something to look forward to at the end of the week. Larry’s Tony party. His pre-baseball party was amazing, so I could only imagine what he and his roommate (who owns the wonderful Soluna restaurant in San Francisco) would come up with for Tony night. We were NOT disappointed. We were all told to dress in “cocktail attire”. I, of course, chose to wear a hand knit. Never pass up the opportunity to hear “you did not make that”. I wore Marnie MacLean’s Evening Diamond tank.
and, yes, I did make that.

Me with the wonderful Jersey Girls, Lyndsey Cole & Jenny Lee Ramos
So right away, as soon as we reach his front door, the fun begins. He had filled the door with signs you might find in a theatre lobby “this show will be performed without an intermission”, “there are strobe lights used in this production”, and my favorite “musical theatre songs will be heard tonight”. When you open the door you are, literally, greeted with the red carpet treatment. He had put a red carpet in his hallway, and set up strobe lights (to look like flash cameras going off) all around the hallway. After your red carpet photo is taken, you enter full blown Tony land. First there’s the fridge decorated with famous “Tonys

Please note, Tony Blair, Tenille, Randall, Soprano, and my favorite . . . the tiger
The living room was full of Tony displays, from the Grey Gardens flower arrangement (please note the can of corn, and cat food. If you know the show, you’ll know why)

to the dining room hutch filled with the nominees:

There was one last hidden tribute to Broadway. It was not in the living room, not in the dining room. It was not even a tribute to a nominee. It was the logo to a certain (then already) doomed Broadway show, taped to the inside of the toilet seat. Since that show has posted closing, I’ll let it remain nameless.

Then there was the food!! Leave it to a restaurant owner to really put out a great spread

The bar:

And our bartender (otherwise known as our host)

Cocktail hour was on the roof. It’s a great deck with a great view

Me & Danny AustinJohn Michael Dias, Jake Speck, Steven Goldsmith
(looking oh so much like the San Francisco Jersey Boys version of the cast of The Godfather)

Soon it was showtime, and we all had a great time watching on the big screen.
Some were rooting for their favorites. Me, I just wanted to win the Tony poll (big money, big money, big money). Turns out, I came in second. Ah well, I won a nice bottle of wine.By the end of the evening Larry was ready to call it a night. He had already changed into something a little more comfortable. Here he is on the red carpet with Jeremy Kushnier. I’ll give you a hint . . . Larry is the one to the left.

After the Tony’s were over we headed over to a bizarre nightclub called the StarLight Room. As you could guess by the name, or see by the web page. It was a bit like stepping back in time.

I didn’t get home until well after 2:30 am . . . VERY late for me these days. Monday was a very ADD day of knitting and spinning. I couldn’t seem to commit to any one project for very long. I would spin for a bit, measure & ball remainder of old yarn. At one point I was alternating between three different projects. When I go up to have a cup of coffee and saw that my little couch looked like this:

I knew it was time to focus. That’s (from left to right) Tempting II – almost finished, a simple garter stitch triangular scarf I’m doing from two left over yarns held together, and the cotton cable sweater front – almost finished.

Monday night Larry (otherwise known as Julie cruise director) set up a Jersey Boys themed movie night at his pals restaurant, Soluna. It was a double feature of All About Eve (which was filmed at the Curran Theatre), and The Blob (Jersey Boys fans will know why). I watched 3/4 or All About Eve, but then I hopped on the J train to go to Chicks with Sticks to do a little knitting with the gals.

They posted a swell pic of me in my new sweater, posing at Noe Knit. I had to steal it for my own blog.

Cocktails and free yarn . . . what could be bad?

The ONLY good thing about spending you whole life working 6 days a week, is how damn much you appreciate your one and only day off. Monday I had a knitting filled day from sun up to sun down. I spent all day in my p.j.s sitting on the couch knitting and watching movies. I decided the K1 P1 rib of Tempting II was so tedious that I would alternate each round with a row or two of the cotton cable. But the whole day was building up to the big yarn swap at Chicks with Sticks. It was AWESOME!!!!

The evening began with a delightful ride on the J train to get to the Bliss Bar. What made this ride particularly amusing was the 2 year old that kept pulling the next stop cable. His dad did not notice until the kid did it about 9 times in a row. It really didn’t matter because it was rush hour and someone wanted to get off at every stop anyway. It was just amusing watching the “when I pull this cord the red light comes on . . . cool”. Babies really are little scientists. The next delight on the J train was the park. I’ve never taken J train as early as I did on Monday, so it’s always been dark when I pass this park in Noe Valley. This time it was only 5:45 pm and I’ve never seen so many dogs out in my life. The canine to human ratio was 1 to 1. Pretty cool.

Next stop to whet my appetite and get me in the mood (as IF I need any help getting in the mood for free fiber), was the super cool Noe Knit. There I ran into fellow Chicks on their way to the yarn swap. It was supposed to begin at 7:30 pm, but by 6:50 the table, bench, side table and floor were already filling up.

(Time for a little browsing before your turn)

(The summer knit book I had my eye on and lost to a lower number – damn!)

So here’s how this crazy thing worked. Everyone who brought yarn (17 of us), go to pick a number. Then we went up one by one as our number was called and got to pick one thing. If there were multiple balls of the same yarn that counted as one thing (including 21 spools of this really nice grey cotton, or a HUGE skein of cashmirino). I picked (gulp) 16 out of 17. Very sad, one by one I saw my first picks taken. However, there was plenty to go around.

There’s Leslie (lucky #2) holding the $82 GIANT skein of cashmirino. That’s Kathy in the background (lucky #1) holding the pattern book I had my eye on – crap!

After a few rounds of picking, it was opened up to all the non yarn contributors. Look at Matthew in the background looking like he is mid pounce

Here’s my haul:

There’s 7 different colors of chenille that come to about 700 yards. I think I’m going to design a striped raglin 1/2 sleeve sweater with it. It may not come out that great, but I want to work more on my own sweater construction and design, and using some free yarn seems like a good idea.

The spool in the front is 150 yards of hand spun cotton. Any ideas you guys??? What can I do with 150 yards?

This is really thin, thread thin, yarn. I have three skeins of it. I have no idea what the yardage is. I’m going to do the ole’, count the wraps around an 18″ piece of cardboard to find out. I guess I’ll make some kind of lace shawl with it. Any suggestions???

Here’s a close up of some yummy chunky handspun I got. What to do, what to do.

I got 7 skeins of this thick, thin Bernat cotton n’ silk. I’m not sure I can wear lime green, and I don’t really know what to do with it, but I’m open to suggestions.

All in all, it was a fantastic night. I will really miss this group when I go home. It’s a great group of women (and men), and I love being around their energy. There’s something so amazing about being in a room full of knitters. It’s an energy and creative spirit that really feeds me. I could easily see myself being very happy to be around that every day.

June my @#$%^ !!!

It’s been damp and cold all week here in fabulous San Francisco. Who knew that January was going to be warmer then June.

Hey, it’s an excuse to keep knitting sweaters! The cotton cable is coming along. I finished the front.

It’s been another long week at work with lots of understudies going on. There’s also been a lot going on with me. Some potentially exciting knitting/life news that I can’t talk about yet. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks, and I’ll keep you posted.

Tomorrow is the yarn swap at Chicks with Sticks. It’s my chance to get rid of the remainders of many projects, and of course add some more yarn to my stash.

Here’s the bits of leftovers I have

And the whole balls (or cone) I have leftover

I’ll let you all know the goodies that I find tomorrow at the yarn swap. More later

Cast on, Cast off

Okay, so it’s really more like cast off, cast on, but that didn’t sound as “Karate Kid”.

I cast off two projects this week, and I’ve got two on the needles.

First I finished the sweater for my sister. It was a really a fast knit. I didn’t use a pattern, I just figured my gauge, and knit it to my own body. It came out so cute that I have to knit one for myself

Next it was my very own mohair and cotton sweater. I got the design idea from a cotton sweater with a net top and sleeves I saw in a store once. I liked the idea of using mohair for the top for a contrast of textures. I owe some of the design features to a few designers. The basic stitch pattern from the mohair comes from the Spring Fling. The shaping I used on the sides came from the Honeymoon cami.

I’ve always wanted to do a sweater with a ruffle sleeve, and after much trial and error, I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

On the needles is the ENDLESS k1, p1 rib that is Tempting II. It’s my at work project. Something I can mindlessly knit during understudy rehearsal.

My at home project is to use up all the cotton yarn that my mother in law gave me. I can get a few projects out of it, but the first one I chose was a boat necked cable sweater.

I’m changing the pattern a bit to add shaping on the side. The picture looks like there’s shaping, but the pattern doesn’t have any. Here’s it on the needles

David came to visit from Brooklyn and brough a bit of our garden. In the form of pictures:

He also brought me lettuce from our garden. It was delicious. It makes me miss Brooklyn more then ever.

I also miss going to all my yarn shops in New York. I’m coming home for a few days in July, maybe I’ll go on a yarn crawl.


Peanuts, (knit one, purl two) and Cracker Jacks

Okay all you knitters out there . . . where do you knit? Do you take your knitting on the subway, to the movies, to the beach, to the ballgame. Let me know I’m not alone. On Monday we had a little Jersey Boys field trip to the ballgame. Of course I took my knitting.

It was a perfect day for a ballgame. We started our day at Larry’s house (the PSM). It was truly our glimpse at how the other half lives.

Wow, what a place. He’s staying at a friend’s place in South Beach. The coolest bachelor pad ever!!

They set up a dreamy spread of hotdogs (turkey dogs for me), potato salad, chips,

and of course . . . Peanuts and Cracker Jack:

Of course no Martha Stewart like baseball buffet would be complete without the traditional jockstrap flower arrangement (in the team’s colors of course)

There was also a bitchin cool deck. We immediately started lounging in the sun.

The boys talking boy talk. The fabulous Jenny Lee Ramos catching some rays.

John “Smitty” Smith (our musical director, and Rashad Naylor hangin‘.

Jeremy Kushnier, Eddie Driscoll, Jerrod Spector

After stuffing our faces with hotdogs and filling our pockets with peanuts and cracker jacks it was time to go to the ballpark

I’ll never get used to a ballpark with palm trees out front and the ocean out back. Truly weird. When a homerun is hit it goes into the water and men in kayaks wait to scoop up the ball – not kidding

By the third or forth inning it was time for me to crack out the knitting. I’m working on Tempting II, and it’s an ENDLESS amount of k1, p1 rib. Of course the cries of “I can’t believe you brought your knitting to the ballgame”, “look she’s knitting”, “I gotta get a picture of this” began.

That’s Lauren looking at me like I have two heads, just because I wanna get a few rows in before the 7th inning stretch. Doesn’t everyone???

The park itself was a bit like an amusement park. There were tons of bars and restaurants everywhere. I’m talking full bars too. I had an Irish coffee from a stand. Weird. There were batting cages, games, a giant slide (which I of course rode.) Here’s me showing I’m tall enough to ride slide:

When I got home I finished the sweater for my sister. I’ll post more pics of it (modeling it) in the next post. Here it is blocking.

Coma Monday

I slept until 11:30 am today. I’m still not quite over this week. Earlier this week I flew back to Chicago to be with my family. We all were together to see my Grandpa. It was so great that we were all together before he died. I was originally going to go today, but my sister said it would be good if I came sooner. I’m SOOO glad she said that, otherwise it would have been to late. If I can make it 99 years and then simply fall asleep while my loved ones sit at my bedside I’ll be pretty damn lucky.

The last five days at work have seemed like they lasted a year. It’s too tedious to go into, but it involves lots of rehearsal, crashed scenery, stopped show, actor in car accident, working my ass off, and feeling generally wildly under appreciated. This week may have been just the kick in the head I needed to get on with my life and make some major changes. My favorite yarn store in New York is hiring again. I think this fall a job at a yarn store may be just what I want to do for a while. A simpler life surrounded by fiber all day. Time to work on my designs, time to think about what to do next. Not the worst idea in the world.

I’ve be missing some of my old pals with the first Jersey Boys tour. My friend Michelle sent me these pics from their tech in New Haven.

Here’s Michelle and the fabulous Miles Aubrey

and my favorite picture. The real power behind Jersey Boys:

I have gotten a lot of knitting done this week. The good thing about two 5 hour plane rides. I finished the last sleeve on the mohair sweater. That means it’s down to the never ending procrastination of finishing. God I hate sewing. On the plane ride home I cast on for Tempting II. It’s my first time working with Rowan Calmer. I LOVE this yarn. If you can find it for a good price on ebay, scoop it up.

When I was with my sister on Monday she said that she ruined her favorite cardigan. I said I could whip her one up in a week. I’m making her a little 3/4 sleeve grey blue cardigan. It’s in the yummy Rowan Polar (one of my all time faves). I cast it on Tuesday night. Here it is on Wednesday morning:

Here is is by Thursday night:

I’ll be able to finish it up in about an hour. I’m hoping to finish seaming up the sleeves of the cotton/mohair today too. I’ll post more pics in a few days.

When I was at my Mom’s house she let me take whatever I wanted from her 30 year button stash. I found some great stuff.

Two Monday’s could not be more different

Last Monday I was sitting by the water enjoying a relaxing day knitting and feeling fine. A week later, I’m 2000 miles away, I’m sick as a dog, and sitting by my 99 year old grandpa’s bedside, feeling like crap. What a week. I just got home and I’ve never been so tired in my life.

The week started out pretty nice. On Monday I went to the Embarcadaro to sit by the water, stroll around the shops, poke around the book stores, and sit, and sit and sit and knit. It was heavenly.

In the front there are lawns and tons of places to sit. On the inside are rows and rows of little shops. It reminded me a bit if the holiday craft market at Grand Central (or maybe I was just homesick).

Out the back door was the water. Plenty of benches to plop down, veg out, and knit.

From there I hoped on the MUNI to the Bliss Bar to meet up with Chicks with Sticks. It was so nice to see everyone again. I finished my first sleeve of my cotton mohair sweater.

It was a good thing I had one relaxing day. Tuesday at noon began our 8 show, 4 rehearsal week. That means being in the theatre noon – 10:30 pm everyday that week. At some point a sour throat turned to a cough turned to a lost voice. I felt like crap most of the week.

Saturday my mom let me know that my grandpa was not doing so well. I spent my dinner break between rehearsal and the show on Saturday looking into flights. I found a decent flight on United, took a bereavement day from work and left for the airport at 8:30 am on Sunday. My brother picked me up at the airport and we got back to my mom’s house around 6:00 pm. It was a LONG travel day, but it was worth it. My sister drove in from Michigan that morning, and we were all together by dinner. We ordered take out and drove my brother back to his house and all had dinner over there. The next day we spent a lot of time with Grandpa. All things considered it was great to see him and be able to talk to him and have all his grand kids together.

It was an exhausting couple of days, and coughing all night long and not sleeping didn’t help much. On the upside, two six hour plane rides let me finish the cotton mohair sweater. Here it is blocking back in San Francisco.

I also plyed up another spindle full of yarn that I had spun before I left. Here’s another niddy noddy full.

Now it’s time to sleep and wake to face another week of 10 hours of theatre rehearsal, 8 hours of studio rehearsals, and 5 shows for me. It will feel like a long time before I hit a day off.