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Dear Ann,

It’s kind of ridiculous, even for me.  I’m toggling between two projects that are on my needles right now—that’s not ridiculous, that’s Standard Operating Procedure around here—and they’re both in the same yarn, in the same color.

It all makes sense once you’re in my head.

The yarn is Rowan Creative Linen. ‘Tis the season for a cotton/linen blend, and I’m making the most of the opportunity to knit with my two favorite warm-weather fibers.

The color is a dusty navy blue by the name of Stormy. If Rowan runs out of Stormy, I will have to go on the lam with my hoard of it in the hatchback. You’ll never find me!

Why two projects? Because if I’m living right, I need an easy on-the-go project, preferably plain stockinette or garter, at all times.

And for fun, and knitterly chops sharpening, I also need a spicier project. Something not exactly difficult, but requiring (and rewarding) my attention.

Here they are.

The Easy One

I cast on Nell Ziroli’s Shakerag Skirt a week ago, and it’s been an easy-going companion on car rides, the subway, and the Long Island Railroad since then.

Believe it or not, this 7-inch section is 1/3 of the skirt.

I’m done with the eyelet lace edge (read about that modification here), and just getting into the plain stockinette body of the skirt. Personal challenge: to be able to get a few rounds in on this while technically asleep. I think I can do it! (Maybe not during REM sleep, but during the dozing-off phase.)

Calendar challenge: I really want to be able to wear this at the MDK Knitting Getaway at Shakerag Workshops, which kicks off in less than 3 weeks. Sewanee, we’re coming … and we’ll be wearing knitted skirts.

Will I have to safety-pin the elastic into the waistband to achieve this deadline? Related question: is this anybody’s business but my own?

I can see why there are already folks out there with multiple Shakerag Skirts. Knitting this skirt is just as easy-breezy as everybody says it is.

The Spicy One

You didn’t think I’d forget about my ABC Blanket, did you? Rüdiger Schlömer’s knittable typeface, Knit Grotesk, continues to be the love of my life and the wingding of my world. Here’s where I am right now.

The yarn: Rowan Creative Linen in Stormy and Silver.

Just a couple more sections of letters and I’ll have the full alphabet.

I can’t properly explain how satisfying it is to knit these slipped-stitch letters. They’ve got such verve and balance; they’re lovely and leggy. I love the way the diagonal lines slash across the ridges of the garter stitch fabric, so crisp.

Here’s a bit of news. I thought I was knitting a towel, because the measurements struck me as a bit small for even a baby-sized blanket. But it’s actually knitting up into a perfect pram/crib size.

The ABC Blanket has seen me through three police procedural television series so far:  Astrid, Munch, and D.I. Ray. And now I’m onto The Paris Murders. Homicides are getting solved all over Paris, and I’m having a fabulous time!

Rüdiger Schlömer kindly sent me the beautiful printed specimen of the Knit Grotesk typeface, which has inspired me no end.

For those wondering how to chart out words, Rüdiger has made a start: I’m seeing this as another blanket.

There’s even a blank chart, ready for doodling:

I have a pretty good idea how to go about charting my own words using the Knit Grotesk alphabet. The letters are so logical, and knitting the ABC Blanket has given me a better sense of how many stitches to put between letters to space them nicely.  (I’m sure there is a graphic design term for that!)

Summary of my knitting right now: SUCH FUN—hey I should chart that!




  • The knitting of the ABC blanket is definitely fun, but I’m about to give up because I’m having such a hard time with the chart. The “pixels”, especially the stitch and row numbers, are far too small for me to read. I usually print out patterns, often enlarging charts a bit. But for some unknown computer reason I haven’t been able to enlarge this one, so I’m working off my iPad screen. But it shows such a small portion of the chart I have a hard time keeping track, and once I’m partly up the chart the stitch numbers of course disappear off the screen. I am using stitch markers between the letters, but that doesn’t help much except on the line they’re set up for – the widest point of each letter. Usually I love charts and have no problem with them.

    Am I a complete idiot? Does anyone know what I’m talking about? What simple thing am I missing?

    • Go to Fed X they enlarge perfectly !!

    • I hope you don’t give up, Ginny! I agree that the charts are too small on paper. That’s why this is one of the rare times that I am knitting from my computer screen, because I can make the chart nice and big.

      It’s really easy to follow the chart if you click on each letter as you knit that first row of every 4 rows. Just click inside the letter on the chart, and a blue backround frame pops up that shows you where the edges of the letter are. This makes it so easy to count from your stitch marker. I showed a photo of how this looks in this post:

      The photo is under the heading “Tip.”

      I also orient myself vertically by counting the white ridges (the action ridges) on my knitting. If I’ve got 9 white ridges and I’m starting a new white row, I know I’m on the 10th white ridge of the chart.

      • TIp re. the tip – this only works if you open the file in Chrome, at least on a Mac. Not in Preview or Safari or Acrobat.

        • I had the printed pattern enlarged at Staples. Then drew a red line every 15 stitches and put in markers to match. I have colloured the white line when I finish knitting it. Now I can sit on my balcony and knit without messing up my count or running back to my computer every fourth row. I am calling it ‘my story time blanket’ for my granddaughter.

      • Kay,
        Thanks so much for your excellent answer. I guess I was confused initially because my iPad seems to “select” (blue shading) somewhat randomly. Even though I click on the middle of a letter, in some rows (only one so far is the arrows) it selects just the one letter, but on other rows it always selects the whole row. Of course I can manually move the edges to just one letter, but the whole thing seems awfully futzy. I love the idea of printing it out then enlarging it on a photocopier, though. I think I can handle that! Thanks to Phyllis too!

        • Kay, if you have an iPad, I’d recommend using Knit Companion for Chart knitting. Just $15 a year and it’s truly a wonder.

    • Before we had computers in our houses I used the photocopy machines at Staples or wherever to enlarge charts. Print what you have, then use the machine to make it bigger.
      Hope this helps!

  • You make me laugh! Only 2 projects going? The skirt is just gorgeous! And that blanket! WOWZA! I just might have to start one!
    Can’t wait to see the finished results!

    • only 2 ***active*** projects!

      • Aha! I’ve always wondered when a WIP becomes a UFO, or at least “hibernating” – maybe I should adopt “inactive” as a step in between. I’m going to need a chart to keep track at this rate! But I sure do have a lot more than 2 WIPs, no matter what! 🙂

  • I’ve seen DIRay too.

  • Kay, I do enjoy being privy to your correspondence with Ann. The typography word for the spacing between letters is kerning. Leading (pronounced with a short e) is the vertical space between lines of type. (In the olden days it was created by inserting a thin strip of lead.)

    • And the spacing between lines of text is leading (because of those same strips of lead). Welcome to the typography geek club, Kay!

      • Indeed leading is the space between the lines. Kerning is the space between the letters. Six years at a very old school newspaper back in the 80’s left me with a lot of useless knowledge. And to give you a sense of how old school it was, they were typing on manual typewriters into the 90’s. It was utter chaos when we got a fax machine.

  • Ann, the spacing between letters is called letter spacing. Who’da thunk?

  • Kay,
    Love both your projects. I was just wonder if Creative Linen would work for a Shakerag Top. Imagine the ensemble with the skirt.

    • Hi there, I think the Creative Linen is too heavy for a top. I knit one last year and ended up ripping it out. It is making a fabulous skirt though! It’s more of a bottom weight, in my opinion.

      • I agree that Creative Linen doesn’t work for the Shakerag Top due to its weight. You have to double-strand the yarn for half the stripes, and in Creative Linen that would be something akin to Aran weight.

      • How do you do the letters with the white background?

  • I will have a safety pin in my elastic too, Kay – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • Kay, For some reason I never “got” your excitement about this letter project until this morning. Something about the photos and your post just hit me. Now it’s on my list – I’m thinking definitely a baby blanket. And the skirt – I’m counting on seeing it in Sewanee!

  • Kay, Ann and all readers. This is as good a place as any to share:) My past year has been double cancer, breast and pancreas. GI surgery and chemo and more. Modern Day Knitting makes me so happy. I love reading comments, articles, and checking out all the fun yarns. You’ve all been a big part of my survival fun. What a blessing every morning to check out the chatter and escape for a bit. God bless you all.

    • Sending you healing, gentle thoughts. Knitting and this community of caring people is an extraordinary place and I hope continues to offer you cheer and solace.

    • Yes, it’s great to be able to get outside oneself, to participate in the joyful, intelligent and casual repartee of conversation with friends. The space between letters is ‘kerning’ in printing terminology. Here’s wishing your knitting and path to health goes gently, accompanied by friends, loved ones and knitting buddies worldwide.

    • I have so many WIPs, but my resolve not to knit this blanket is desolving with each of your progress posts!

    • @ Diane Burns. Thanks for sharing. Sending positive thoughts and healing energy your way! This MDK group is so special. Glad it brings you joy!! We are all in this together.

    • Diane, your words strike a deep chord in me, on many levels. Thank you for posting them. Wishing you many, many blessings. ❤

    • O Diane, it’s an honor to be any part of getting you through such a tough time. Where would we be without knitting? And knitters! BIG LOVE TO YOU.

  • Kerning is the old school word you want ! You’re now a leading expert knit kerner or maybe it is kern knitter? Now instead of working I’m wondering if there’s any connection between kerns and kernels…..Either way love your projects Xox

    • I looked it up. It is a French word derived from the Latin cardo, meaning hinge. With cast metal type, the parts needed to overlap adjacent letters hung off the edge. Those overhanging metal pieces are the kerns.

      • Nowadays, we can adjust the kerning by clicking on a number, say from plus 10 to minus 10, on the computer to make the text expand and contract to fit the available space. It’s like positive and negative ease. (And one of my geekiest simple pleasures—never gets old.)

  • I am going to have to visit Rüdiger Schlömer’s website… ps: my ABC blanket is finished, blocked, all that needs to happen now is weaving in ends!

  • “Will I have to safety-pin the elastic into the waistband to achieve this deadline? Related question: is this anybody’s business but my own?”

    Heh, heh. Love it, Kay. You remind me of me.

  • Safety pinning the elastic is a good idea so that you can test your measurement in real life before sewing the elastic. Think of it as checking the fit!
    I also might have two pairs of sewn cropped pants with a pin in the elastic from when I made them six years ago…

  • @kay, my plan is to use some of the t-shirt yarn from V’s class of bygone Shakerag for my tie as I probably won’t even have elastic to pin (and I’m not really sure how to sew it anyway! We will need a Stormy skirt group shot for sure!

  • oh wow – the charts!!

    • Here come the WORDS!!! Very excited about this!

  • You slay

  • Me too! 2 projects always going on. One easy peasy, no brainer stockinette women’s top and, at present, a lace shawl with nupps! Thank you for a wonderful article.

  • Just ended a project and was thinking maybe that skirt. I’ve never made one before.

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