Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back in the saddle.

Or intertubes. As the case may be.

I've got a few edumacational posts up my sleeve, but for tonight, what's been going on around here. With some photos! Some of you who've been hanging around on Twitter with me (I can text it on my phone) have seen some of these before. But it's what I've got, so bear with me. And they're blurry because I took the photos with my phone. All in all, a half-assed blog post, but it's what I got.

The stranded color short-rows are coming along swimmingly.

Honestly, this isn't hard. It's fussy, and more trouble than it's worth for more than a short wedge of knitting like this. But it isn't hard. There are twenty-four rows total in the pattern, and I have five to go. I hope to have them done by the time I see my mother-in-law on Friday. (Tomorrow will be spent knitting, at least until those five futzy rows are done with.)

I'm giving art yarn a try. Super-coils, or beehives, depending on which book you read.
You can see one there toward the left side, in blue and pink. I should probably use this stuff to knit a sweater for the Goober, but it's more likely I'll sell it. This is just a test spin for the Gear Yarn, so I need to get moving on it.

Otherwise, I got a funny Goober photo.

Sekhmet jumped on up in the chair with her and laid down. The Goober wasn't as freaked out as she looks in that photo; I caught her in the middle of yelling "MOOOOM! GET THE CAT OFF ME!" The cat's kind of heavy.

And here's another photo of Sekhmet, this one in a sunbeam. I just like it because it makes her fur look all soft and foozy.

So, that's it. Hopefully things will get more interesting around here now that I'm actually knitting. For now, Mythbusters is on, and I gotta go do these five rows.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tales from the dark side.

Blogging from the husbeast's computer, because the netbook is dead. The sugar in the tea got it. I would have said I don't put much sugar in my tea, but the netbook looks and acts like I poured corn syrup over it - the keys are stuck down, there's goo all through it, and it's a mess. We'll see about fixing it, but I don't have much hope.


The husbeast has been very nice through the whole mess, only saying something strongly worded about never putting tea near any electronics again. Since that's a valid point I can hardly argue about it. I think other than the 'might as well have lit some money on fire' aspect of it, he's enjoying the fact that he's got such good ammunition to use against me. Yesterday we drove over to Ohio, and I was ragging on him about his ability to get lost on roads he's driven for twenty years, and he said "How about some tea?" and shut me right up. In the long run he might decide this was almost - but not quite - worth it.

When the spill happened, I must have made one hell of an impression on the Goober (there may have been screaming involved). Because for the next two days she followed me around saying "Don't spill, mumma."



The good news is, with no computer to use, I'm getting more knitting done. I may catch up to my mother-in-law on this bag by the time I see her next week. I'm doing the sort rows in stranded color right now (there are only twenty-four of them), and she's at the same part of the bag. So another ten, twenty rows and I'll be within a reasonable reach of her, and we'll be able to get the rest of this bag knit together, since that was the plan when she bought it for me.

I'm also spinning, and may be trying my first attempt at art yarn soon.

Photos of all this as soon as I get some kind of netbook again. Which may be fairly soon, but every time I look at it I'll see money going up in smoke and want to beat my head on a wall.



I've been using my Blackberry for everything, and am keeping in touch with people via Twitter and e-mail, which are easy to use on it. (So if you wanna get in touch...) The husbeast told me yesterday that my texting skills now approach that of a teenaged girl, which is kind of disturbing. But I'm still only half as fast as my nephew. I'll worry when I catch up to him. (And once he knows I have a Blackberry, he'll probably suggest we have races or something.)


So, other than the tea spill that I'm STILL kicking myself for (and will be for quite a while to come, I imagine), all is well at House O' Samurai. The husbeat has been positively saintly over the whole mess. The Goober is having a growth spurt and is totally psyched to see grandma and grandpa soon. We may be going to the museum again soon. Or the science center. Or something.

Imagine me knitting stranded color short rows, muttering "I can't believe I spilled that tea, I AM SUCH AN IDIOT." and you've got the idea.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh, crap.

This - hopefully short - blog hiatus brought to you by Blackberry. I spilled a cup of tea on my new netbook. Imagine me alternately crying and tearing at my hair, and you get the idea. Husbeast being nice, he's less upset than I am.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


One of my (many) interests is metallurgy. Specifically, the history of it, known as archeometallurgy. I was interested in it all those years ago when I studied anthropology and archeology in school, and then I married a guy who did inspections on chunks of metal all day. So living with the husbeast has expanded the knowledge quite a lot, and he and the guys he works with are always surprised at how much I know. They of course know far more than I do from a practical viewpoint, but I know more about the history of it. We have many interesting talks.

This summary is REALLY general, because many metal-working methods were invented in different parts of the world, at different times. (Plus we don't wanna be here all day.) Skills were also dictated by what was available in the area. Please keep that in mind when reading it. Not all cultures worked neatly through the list; many skipped the silver and gold phases. Many more stalled at other stages, unable to invent the needed technology to work other metals. Some, like Australian Aborigines, walked around on top of very large iron deposits, but lacked the knowledge to use them, lacking the other, softer metals to experiment and learn on, first.

It is generally accepted that cultures who independently developed metal working did it by working from softer, more obvious metals to harder metals that need more specialized skills. Copper, gold, and silver are the metals that most cultures started with. That's because it's possible to pick up (or dig up) chunks of it that are nearly pure, that can be hammered into shape. From there, humans worked up to alloys and smelting and casting and all that good stuff.


That's a chunk, there, straight out of the ground. You can see how it's possible to pick up a bit and mash it into what you want, from there with a handy rock. It is the most malleable and least reactive of metals, certainly of the easily-found metals. Since gold like this is fairly pure, and therefore soft, it's thought that most early gold pieces were decorative. Probably, making gold decorations was a natural offshoot of using pretty rocks for the same reason.

This is a Scythian piece, the arm of a throne, from the 7th century BCE. You can see by then goldsmithing was very sophisticated. Gold has been worked for at least six thousand years; I suspect longer. It's very hard, nearly impossible, to date metal unless it is found with some kind of organic material. I also wonder how many of these pieces were melted down and re-worked a couple times before we found them.


Silver is a bit more reactive than gold (tarnish? that's silver mixing with oxygen and sulfur in the air), and therefore a little harder to find in pure form, but not much. Otherwise, its history is much like gold. It is also very easily worked, with a low melting point (961.78 °C,  1763.2 °F, lower than gold). The meltability of gold and silver may be what gave people the idea for casting and smelting, which would come in handy later on when fooling with copper, bronze, and iron.

This is the Gundestrup Cauldron, one of the most famous pieces of ancient silver working in the world. It was found in a Danish peat bog and is thought to date from the first century BCE. Because it is more common than gold, it was worked more extensively around the world. Because it corrodes, no one's quite sure how long we've worked it, but everyone agrees it's thousands of years. Silver is one of the best conductors of electricity, and is used widely in industry for that purpose. It is also used in photographic film and x-ray film. Until huge deposits of silver were found in South America, devaluing the currency, Europe ran on a silver standard. After that, they switched to a gold standard.


This is where things started to get tricky, and the human race had to improvise. Copper does this thing called 'work hardening'. When you hammer it, it gets much harder and more brittle. After a while, you can't hammer it into shape; it breaks. Heating it can soften it and make it workable again. I suspect ancient smiths stuck copper in a fire, and noticed it got runny, and thought 'maybe I could pour that into this hole...' and casting was born - if they hadn't done it with silver already. Copper is the first metal that advanced metallurgy was used on (that we know of).

This is a decoration made by the Hopewell culture in North America, sometime between 100BCE and 500CE (near where I grew up). It is said copper working goes back ten thousand years in the Middle East. While I don't dispute that, I wonder whether it was truly the first metal worked; it's more common than gold or silver, so it was the first metal worked in a widespread manner, therefore leaving more artifacts behind to be found. Could be gold and silver working are just as old, and we haven't found evidence of it yet. From a technical standpoint, it is definitely possible.

This copper axe was found with the body of Otzi in Europe. The accurate dating of it (to 3300BCE) re-wrote the history of copper working in the area. So, yeah, I doubt we've found everything there is to find yet.

Bronze is a collective term used to describe an alloy - two or more metals mixed together - containing copper. In the ancient world, it was most often mixed with tin or arsenic. It was rather clever. Copper tools showed people the possibilities for metal tools and weapons, but copper is really soft. What made it so easy to learn on, made it lousy for any kind of item intended for hard use. So people started melting it together with other stuff, that made it harder. Tin was apparently the preferred choice, but it isn't nearly as easy to find as copper. Some of the world's oldest trade routes carried tin from Europe to the rest of the world. Bronze working is officially dated from 3000BCE.

This is a Shag Dynasty bronze vessel, from sometime between 1600BCE and 1000BCE. The Shang were arguably the best bronze casters in the world. Their technical expertise impresses metallurgists even now.

IRON: (last one!)

Iron is great for tools because it's hard. Unfortunately that makes it difficult to work. It also has a pretty high melting point (1538 °C,  2800 °F), which is hard to achieve with a wood fire, which made smelting it tricky. The human race had to kind of work up to it, using all they learned working other metals to make iron useful. It is thought the Chinese used porcelain-making techniques (porcelain has a very high firing temperature) to figure out how to work iron, which they had a lot more of than they had copper or tin. As with the others, I'm not sure the dating is correct because of how easily iron corrodes (rust), but it is officially dated to 1300BCE, first worked in the Middle East and then spreading outward as others learned the techniques needed. Iron triggered the first arms race in history; groups like the Hittites, armed with iron weapons, went out and whipped up on civilizations that were still using bronze. The war between the Hittites and Egyptians resulted in the world's first known peace treaty, a copy of which hangs in the United Nations right now.

Didn't know metallurgy was quite so interesting, did you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

I married a crazy man, part the next.

The husbeast figured out that I was gradually easing into jewelry making, and before I knew it, a craft vise had appeared on my work space.

Along with safety glasses, of course.

He also shopped the laundry room of the apartment building (people drop off used-but-still-good things there in case anyone else wants them), and got me a really nice spinning table. SUPER nice, considering it was free. I forgot to take a photo of it, but it's way better than the fifty gallon plastic storage tub I was using. Sturdier, too.


Hey, look! KNITTING!

This is the (badly photographed) start of the East Meets West Satchel from Knitpicks (that's a Ravelry link). I'm knitting the lavender version. I think. It's kind of hard to be sure with all the colors.

You know you're crazy when the first line is "Cast on 450 sts. Join without turning, knit one round plain." Everyone on Twitter last night gleefully told me I was insane. And then begged me to document the madness. So here you go. Step one. (For the next major cast-on, I will document how to do it without losing your mind. Much.)

This is the kit my mother-in-law bought me for my birthday last year. She'd wanted to learn color knitting and loved the bag. I agreed that after knitting the bag, she'd be color-knitting invincible. We made vague plans to knit them together, and before I knew it, Birthday Claus had delivered twenty-plus balls of yarn. She cast on a couple months ago, in Florida on vacation. She's been working on it ever since, calling me to ask questions. She'll be home in a couple weeks, and at that point, we should really get serious about knitting them TOGETHER. For that, I need to catch up. There's hope, but I need to get off my ass.


Today the Goober drew a treasure map. So I hid a Reece's peanut-butter egg in the teapot in the kitchen, and the husbeast helped her read the map and find it.

Here she is, counting her steps.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go knit like the wind. While watching Castle.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What is this?!

Could it be... A WORK SPACE?

You know the old joke about how you wash your car to make it rain? I'm hoping this will work in a similar manner; as soon as I set up my work space, we'll buy a house and I'll have to move. (Oh, I should be so lucky.) Anyway, you can see up there, I've got a Dremmel (or rather a not-Dremmel dremmel) and am gradually cutting the pointy bits off the watch gears. Many of them have wires sticking through the centers, and that's not gonna feel good against the skin. The gears will be bad enough. I'm also weeding through the gears and pulling out all those that won't fit through the orifice of my spinning wheel (that's why the ruler is there in the picture) with the intention of using them for jewelry. I'll probably be buying more gears, which means more jewelry.

Being a gadgethead, the husbeast took a look at the work space and decided I need a mini-vice. I managed to talk him into waiting until payday (and not spending the grocery money on it), or I'd have it already. By next weekend, I'll have a pretty slick setup.

Too bad it's in my living room. And I'm pretty sure the neighbors would get cranky if I ran power tools all night. So far the only neighbor I want to kill is the guy who keeps smoking in the hallway (and making my asthma go wild), and I'd like to keep it that way. Having open hostility with ALL the neighbors would be a drag.


The Goober's glasses are a resounding success. She was running in circles in the living room the other day singing "I love my glasses, I love my glasses, I love my glasses." The eye doctor told me that while there was no therapeutic NEED for the kid to wear them, she might want to, because she'll see so much better. He was right. Every morning, the Goober asks for her glasses, even before breakfast, and wears them all day until bed time. Not only has her coordination improved beyond words, so has her coloring and writing.


Last week, the husbeast dragged me out (yes, I fought so hard, ha) and bought me a Blackberry. We'd been talking about getting me one next year when my current cell phone contract expired, but with the current situation with me trying to drive in Pittsburgh, I needed a GPS system. I could pay about the same for a dedicated GPS unit that did nothing else, or I could get the Blackberry and use the GPS on it. Seemed like a no-brainer. While I regularly get cranky about having to learn new technology, usually I love it once I've gotten used to it. Whoever designed the software for the Blackberry did it in such a way that's obvious to me (that isn't always the case), and so learning wasn't hard. By Friday I was watching old episodes of TV shows with it on my leg as I spun. Awesome. I've also composed my next grocery list on it, have texted the friend who got me STARTED texting to tell her it's all her fault (Deana, I'm talkin' to you). Oh, and I drove to the museum Thursday night using the GPS on it.

So. Not a bad couple days.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I must be feeling better because I did this today.

It's like spinning Easter eggs. (I didn't dye this stuff. I bought it like this.) If you look closely, you can see a thick and thin sort of thing going on. After working for two years to learn how to spin evenly, now I'm figuring out how to do this instead. What's hardest for me is the random aspect. You may have noticed I'm a bit obsessive about order. (At least when it comes to patterns. My work space is another story.) This is a test spin for the Gear Yarn. Said gears still need prepped - little pointy bits trimmed off. Maybe this weekend.

Then, just as I was getting into it, the husbeast came home and I was forced to live up to what I said, and we took the Goober to the museum with her new glasses. At rush hour. Down town. Never doubt that I love this kid.

The glasses are REALLY working, because I was standing there reading about T Rexes and Allosaurs, and the Goober looked up, pointed, and said "LOOK!"

It's a fuckin' PTEROSAUR. AND I MISSED IT THE FIRST TIME. It is bigger than my Jeep! I do believe I said "Holy SHIT!" when I looked up and saw it. I said it loudly. People glared.

I'd say Mumma needs new glasses, but I just got a pair.

So we dragged home again, and I did a couple loads of laundry, and I should really get my butt to bed, but I wanna spin more singles.

Maybe tomorrow I'll finally get off my ass and cast on all those stitches, for the tapestry bag. My mother-in-law will be back in Ohio soon, so it'd be good if I caught up with her by then. Since we originally agreed to knit it together.

While I was getting the pterosaur photo off my camera, I spotted this one I snapped last summer.

I thought you guys would get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

These aren't really safe for work, unless your boss REALLY has a sense of humor.

There are no official music videos for either of these songs, which is too bad. But they'll get you in the spirit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let the squees begin.

Topic jumble.

The big news here is that I finally found my way downtown (with the help of the husbeast's GPS unit) to the chronic pain specialist yesterday. Remember, this is the appointment that got missed twice before - once right after that massive snowfall when I was stuck on the road in two feet of snow with idiots in Dodge Neons, and again when I got lost, drove around until fifteen minutes after the appointment was supposed to start, and then had to pull off the road to have an anxiety attack. So, it was an achievement just getting there. The office staff was wonderfully helpful, the doctor is involved and does actual exams and discussions, and she agreed with my original diagnosis and gave me a medication I've been trying to get for six months.

I think it's working because I'm already starting to feel less like a shambling zombie. If it turns out this stuff DOES work (Flector, an anti-inflammatory patch I'm wrapping around my wrist), I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Dr. Chen, explaining how I've felt like crap for three months when I didn't have to, because he's an asshole.


We weren't home from the museum last week for quite twenty-four hours when the Goober asked to 'go back and see the dinosaurs again'. I told her we were going to wait until she got her glasses, so she could see it all better. So now, every morning, she asks me if we're getting her glasses today. With luck, they'll be here tomorrow. We're going to take her to the first evening the museum is open, after that; the husbeast can come along that way, but we won't be stuck in the weekend chaos. According to the web site, they hosted sixty-five THOUSAND school groups last year. I can't begin to imagine.


Here is the Goober, with a dinosaur-shaped crayon. Apparently they're really cool.

She has also figured out how to properly sit in a beanbag chair:


Sekhmet has always enjoyed laying on my computers, because they're warm. Unfortunately, this new netbook has a lot less space for her. She was laying with her chin on the mouse pad. You wanna see a computer go totally haywire? Put a cat chin on the mouse pad. So I turned that off. Then her chin migrated to the space bar.

That's when she became sail cat.


Charging the iPod with the idea of actually doing some spinning later. Fiber-related activity!!

And bringing home to me how really bad I've felt since we moved here... I don't have a work space. I've got a space for a work space, but I never set it up. So instead of spinning that may be what I'm doing tonight - getting out the tools and other stuff so I have space to make some jewelry and ribbon flowers and stuff. I've gotta get back to making stuff before I go insane.


For those of you guys who read my archeology post and asked how on earth I keep up on all that stuff, here's how. Many, many magazines, museums, and other non-profit organizations these days have RSS feeds set up. That means you can set it up to have news fed to your blog reader. I follow a couple magazines (Wired, Popular Science, etc), the British Museum, the Smithsonian, and a bunch of other stuff. Of course, that means you've got a vast amount of information to sift through every day, but that's kind of the fun of it. I'm not claiming to read everything that gets coughed into my blog reader, but when things catch my eye (like that Viking execution), it's easy to go research from there.

And the Goob just knocked over half the stuff on the dining room table, so I've gotta push "publish" and go clean up. Sigh.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2010

Vogue recently announced they're going to start printing five issues a year. I was hoping that meant a separate spring and summer issue, since as a rule the summer issues are the only ones worth a damn. But no. Looks like we're out of luck.

As with all reviews, quotes are from the magazine, photos are from the Vogue Knitting web site, and patterns are referred to by number, not page. If you're prepared to get outraged and tell me I have no right to review anything, read this first.

After last issue's brouhaha, I heard from several people who've designed for VK who told me just how the process works. VK does not do the sizing in house, but they do dictate to the designers precisely what sizes they want, so they are still ultimately in control of it. Plus they pay so badly that no one's going to go out of their way to do extra work making more sizes. Especially since, rumor has it, VK has been known to take sizes out.

This issue has a lot of surprisingly wearable things in it, though as always none of them strike me as high fashion or elite or anything of the sort. Since I've decided to continue doing these reviews because so many of you told me they were educational, that's what I'm going to concentrate on - teaching you guys to read photos and think about design. Not that there's much to think about in this issue because it's so scarf and shawl heavy, but still. Just for the record, I don't think VK is any more high fashion than it ever was, but I'm done bitching about it because apparently everyone agrees with me anyway.

First up, the letter from the editor. Once again Vogue demonstrates how out of touch they are with reality by suggesting "identify three local businesses you would hate to see close, then spend a total of $50 per month in them". I'm not sure if she means $50 per business, or in total, but either way it seems pretty insensitive, considering the economy. Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea and I think small business is an important part of any local culture, but who can afford it these days? (Vogue would probably argue that they publish for the wealthy and elite and they can afford it. But the wealthy knit Rowan. So... yeah.) They're also dipping into social networking with a group on Facebook and an e-newsletter.

The yarn section is about linen, with a photo of four cakes of Louet Euroflax, wound on a standard ball winder and stacked up; there's also a list of other linen yarns on the other side of the page. The yarn is unwashed and therefore the cakes look like spools of wire. They couldn't afford any of the other yarns, no one in the alleged office full of knitters could be bothered to knit a fuckin' swatch? Thanks, Vogue, this is really super helpful. Not. Quit disguising ads as editorial content, unless you put some actual effort into the editorial part, hmm?

HEY! ALWEN! KNITTING LACE BY SUSANNA E. LEWIS IS BACK IN PRINT! Seriously, the rest of you, want to know how lace works? Buy this book. Worth every penny.

Meg Swansen writes about collaborating with her mother. One of the project examples is the box-the-compass sweater, which is both a great, funny story and an awesome design. Also contains a lot of really solid, really basic knitting math and some sweet memories. VERY nice.

Article called "Beyond Kitchener" about grafting in knit-purl patterns. Nothing on grafting in cables, which is tricky yet useful (for things like the top of the hood of Rogue). If grafting confuses you, this is a good article. Otherwise, it's pretty basic.

Article on Gordana Gehlhausen, from the sixth season of Project Runway, with her pattern, the first of the issue:

1. Lace tunic. Sizes, 37in/106cm to 54in/137cm. Yup. That's what it is. A lace tunic. Without a belt it hangs like a sack, but there's nothing really wrong with it. It's a boxy lace tunic. Those leggings, though, make me think of varicose veins, which is probably not what you want to be going for when wearing leggings.

First section, A Jazz Age Romance. "In knits worthy of a Fitzgerald heroine, we travel back a century or so, updating the evocative style of that period with thoroughly modern touches." Actually, I see no modern touches, all of this stuff could have been worn during the Jazz Age. I think the only one that would have got a second look is number five, and only knitters would be looking at it, for the - at the time - unusual construction method.

2. Lace Jacket by Sharon Sorkin. Sizes 43in/109cm and 54in/137cm. Only two sizes available, but you could fine-tune the fit a bit with gauge and needle size. It's really nice, flattering to almost anyone. $160 to knit the size large, but you may consider it worth it for a nice summer jacket to wear in air conditioning. Or you could knit it with a regular silk laceweight yarn without the sequins and save about half. It'd be awesome in Jaggerspun Zephyr, too.

3. Lace capelet by Tanis Gray. One size fits most. Length at center back with unfolded collar, 26in/66cm. Nice.

Next section, Decorative Details. "For those accustomed to nothing but the best, wealth of intricate stitch work." Yuh huh.

4. Back button pullover, by Deborah Newton. Sizes, 33in to 53in/83cm to 134cm. No waist shaping whatsoever. This is a nice sweater, but I think it would be a lot better if you added waist shaping as appropriate to fit it to yourself. And for the sake of all that is holy, DO NOT USE SHANKED BUTTONS. Use regular flat buttons, or the first time you lean back in a chair you will be in a world of hurt.

5. Wrap-around vest by Mari Lynn Patrick. Sizes 30in to 35in/77cm to 89cm. Having looked at the schematic (there is an asymmetric skirt on the vest), I think the gut on the model is due to an unsuccessful attempt at a Flapper Slouch, not extra fabric bunched at the waist. Unless you want to think a woman with a 30in/77cm bust has a gut. It looks fairly slimming over on Vogue360, so I'm guessing this is just a bad photo. (But, you see how I did that? Looked at the schematic to see how many layers of fabric were hanging over that model's stomach. I thought it was two, but it was really one, so I revised my idea of what the problem was.)

6. Surplice lacy top by Shirley Paden. Sizes, 31in to 50in/79cm to 128cm. A really nice lace tank for summer, in enough sizes that real people can knit and wear it. A job well done. If you wanted to get all Master Knitter on the project, you could reverse the directions, knit it top down, and make sure the stripe of ribbing hit below the boobs instead of on them, then thread a ribbon through and tie.

7. Long jacket by Maie Landra. Sizes, 38in to 47in/96cm to 120cm. Knit from Koigu Mori. $270 USD to knit. This is another one that could be improved with some waist shaping.

Next section, Soft and Sensual. "Gossamer mohair cuts a distinctly feminine figure in the most romantic of settings." The next four sweaters are all nice, but they're also knit with mohair, or mohair-silk blend, which is NOT a summer fiber. Sticky, fuzzy, super-warm mohair? Summer? No. But these would make great fall or winter cardigans.

8. Mohair and ribbon cardigan by Fayla Reiss. Sizes, 37in to 54in/94cm to 137cm. I will bet you the yarn company arranged to have the ribbon ruffle yarn used. It's $25 USD per hank and all but the smallest size uses two hanks. Of course you could leave the ruffles off and have a perfectly nice cardigan. And who really needs ruffles around their hips? It's even unflattering on the models.

9. Cropped cardigan by Robin Melanson. Sizes, 32in to 44in/82cm to 113cm. Really cute little cardigan. I'm pretty sure it'd induce heat stroke if worn in summer, but like I said, these make great winter wear. Shame it only comes in three sizes.

10. Checked cardigan by Kathy Merrick. Sizes, 35in to 53in/89cm to 136cm. I'd dearly love to know if it was the designer or VK who thought two layers of closely knit mohair were a good idea for a summer design. Maybe the designer didn't know this was for the summer issue? $246 USD to knit the largest size. Still, this'd be great for antarctic exploration. Or at least winter.

11. Gossamer cardi by Lois Young. Sizes, 37in to 58in/94cm to 147cm. Unfortunately there are only four sizes in seven inch increments, but with the way VK pays I wouldn't bend over backward either. This would make a fantastic layering piece for fall or winter, and the contrasting yarn for the edging looks really cool. I've worked with this exact yarn before (those four Christmas scarves, for long-time readers) and it is WARM. But very nice. It's a core of silk with a cloud of mohair around it.

Next section, Global Fusion. "African textiles provide the inspiration for earthy, elegant tops, modeled here by the beautiful Teyona Anderson, winner of Americas Top Model, cycle 12." Oookay. Now. Is it just me, or does taking African-inspired clothes, hanging them on an African-heritage model, and accessorizing with African-inspired jewelry lack any imagination whatsoever? This is actually a great section: Wearable designs, sensible fiber use, reasonable size ranges.

12. Top with cowl by Cathy Caron. Sizes, 35in to 45in/89cm to 116cm. Knit with linen. If you don't like the cowl, you can just leave it off; there's a deep V-neck under it. Nice, cool summer top.

13. Texture pullover by Carol Sulcoski. Sizes, 36in to 50in/91cm to 128cm. Nice. And it comes in a decent range of sizes. Wow!

14. Ruffle sleeve vest by Pat Olski. Sizes, 34in to42in/86cm to 106cm. Yup. That's what it is. Nice.

15. Cable neck cardi by Amy Polcyn. Sizes, 34in to 47in/86cm to 120cm. This is a great design, kind of a swing coat for summer with a really neat design feature around the neck. However. There seems to be a lot of excess fabric not knowing what to do (maybe the fabric doesn't have enough weight to drape? Or it's too stiff?) bagging out from the back; you can see it under the model's arm on the left side of the picture. The schematic shows that the cardi is 'cut' rather straight, so if you put some buttons down the front it should solve the problem. A word of caution about the neck; that two-color cable could be tricky to make look perfect, and any mistakes will be hugely visible up by your face. Plus it's in cotton which is not an easy fiber for making even cables. Not saying it's a bad design, just saying it's tricky.

16. Two-toned shell by Cecily Glowik. Sizes, 33in to 51in/84cm to 129cm. Holy CRAP, real sizing on a summer tank! WOOHOO! Knit with a viscose/linen blend that should drape nicely and feel cool. A word, though; see the bottom edge? When you make a two-color garment like this, the rule of thumb is that the lighter color will 'pop' and draw the eye. So the lighter color for the yoke is an excellent choice, it makes people look at you. The bottom edge, not so much. Most of us don't need to draw the eye to a horizontal line around our hips. The lace pattern is a really nice, uncurling edge, so I'd keep that and just knit it in the same color as the body.

17. Shrug by Laura Bryant. Sizes (sized by back width measurement), 15in to 22in/38cm to 56cm. Another yarn company special. It's knit with Prism yarn's Symphony - wool, cashmere and nylon blend. (Just what you want for summer.) This is really nice, and knit with a cotton/nylon blend yarn, would be great to keep the chill off in AC during the summer. Not sure I'd go with blue and green for a color graduation, but that's personal taste. The copywriters are calling them compliments, but they aren't. The compliment of blue is orange, and the compliment of green is red.

Next up, the beloved Designer Details section. They're calling it "On Neutral Ground". 'Cause all those winter whites were so original we're gonna just keep on keeping on.

18. Vest by Lutz & Patmos (who apparently have run a fashion knitwear design house in New York since 2000; it appears they understand the concept that lots of sizes = lots of sales). Sizes, 34in to 55in/86cm to 139cm. Very impressive they can come up with a super-fast bulky knit on size fifteens that doesn't look like it would trigger heat stroke. It is knit with silk (they specialize in luxury fibers), but with that much ventilation it should be okay. Unfortunately the color makes it look like it was knit with kite string, but it's likely VK dictated the color, and you can fix it easily enough by just picking another.

19. Sailor top by Twinkle. Sizes, 40in to 56in/101cm to 142cm. Twinkle knits with something other than super-bulky. Wow. This is at 4.25 sts per inch. There's no waist shaping, but the fabric is so drapey it doesn't really need any. Of course, with the drape the thing is WAY too long so I'd consider shortening it if you made it. And leave off the pocket. No way you're putting anything in it, and it looks really horrible sagging and bagging there on your boob.

Next, Ivory Coast. "Gems of the ocean: Beachwear hits a high-water mark as the tide turns toward pearly lacework." Still wanna smack the copy writers. I'm not getting over it. And goodie. More beige. All those bright summer colors available and we get... beige.

20. Lace stole by Lois Young. 20x62in/51x158cm. Yup. Nice. A nice aquamarine blue would go with nearly everything for summer. (Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?)

21. Lace tunic by Brooke Nico. Sizes (SIZES! MORE THAN ONE!) 31in 34in 36in/78cm 86cm 92cm. I admire the ingenuity it takes to knit up a giant afghan square, tilt it, and take advantage of the forty-five degree angle of raglan decreasing to put sleeves on it. If I were to knit this, I'd put on some kind of edging (you can see it curling in several places in the photo), and do some short rows to raise the back of the neck and make it more comfortable. Very clever, though.

22. Sun dress by Alice Halbeisen. Sizes, 30in to 45in/76cm to 115cm. Nice, and in a decent variety of sizes. Maybe I'm old, but I'd want a dress to be longer than that. Then again, even the model's wearing it over leggings. Still, if you added a bit of length it'd be wearable without. (A Møøse once bit my sister...)

23. Lace dress by Cynthia Yanok Rich. Sizes, 31in to 43in/78cm to 109cm. Sure, if you wanna squeeze yourself into a tight dress that requires undergarments of a very opaque nature, well, knock yourself out. Just make sure to put Gold Bond Medicated Powder in the cracks and crevices to fight heat rash. (If you took off some of the length, it'd make a cute tank for those who can stand strapless bras or are willing to knit it without the eyelets.)

Last section, Neck and Next. Har. "Summer's best accessory." Now, I understand wanting a wrap or something to fling over a tank in AC. But SEVEN of them in this issue? Plus, what, FOUR wraps? There's not gonna be much commentary here 'cause there's not a lot to say about a scarf, and fit isn't an issue.

24. Chevron scarf by Irina Poludnenko. Clever stitch pattern.

25. Striped scarf by Renee Lorion.

26. Drop stitch scarf by Karen Wessel. Another clever stitch pattern. Knit on the bias.

27. Twin leaf scarf by Heather Carlson. Not reversible, if you care.

28. Leaf and berry scarf by Lori Steinberg. The leaves and berries come already on the yarn.

29. Buttoned cowl by Heather Carlson.

30. Lace flower scarf by Lisa Buccellato. Pure silk. So your neck can be REALLY WARM. (Probably a yarn company special, not the designer's choice.)

31. L-shaped wrap by Jill Gutman. Which is exactly what it sounds like. The L or V shape makes a really easy-to-wear wrap with lots of drape.

32. Beaded shawl by Karen Joan Raz. Uses 1000 glass beads, which may be too much of a good thing (both in terms of weight, and stringing them on). Still, it's really nice, and you could always use fewer beads, of course.

So, that's it for this issue. I do think our bitching about sizing has gotten through, whether VK will admit it or not. Until next time, knit wisely.