Sunday, December 7, 2008

Felted Clogs

I truly don't know how any knitter blogs in November, when everything on the needles is a present for somebody, and there's really nothing else to talk about. Luckily, this is one of those out-in-the-open-but-totally-ignored presents (because he had to try them on), so a little blogging can't hurt.

FiberTrends Felt Clogs, Lion Brand Wool perfect for Felting, 4 skeins of Midnight Blue*.

This was a KAL with a co-worker, and I just e-mailed her the following account of my first adventures in felting:

It was a good 20 minutes before they looked like anything but wet knitting - I was sure I had done something wrong and the wool was never going to felt. Then it took another 10 where they were clearly felted, but hadn't really shrunk any. Persevere!

The instructions say that every time you check, you should take both out of the bag - I didn't do that the first few checks, and whether that was the reason or not, one of them lagged behind the other by about 10 minutes (meaning that I had to give it two more 5-minute sessions before it shrunk down to the same size as the first one.

I should also admit that I got tired of the bag and stopped using it after the first 20 minutes.

Once they were the right (and same!) size, I drained the machine without the clogs in it, let it fill with rinse water, and them rinsed them out by hand, rolling them in a towel and then setting them out to dry while I drained the machine again. I just wasn't sure about letting them spin.

*I bought 5 skeins to have the yardage specified in the pattern, but only used 4, so the 5th skein became a nice wool watch cap over Thanksgiving (nice mindless knitting while the house was full again). I used every bit of the yarn, but the hat is too small for an adult head, so I need to find a cold child somewhere.

And that makes two presents I finished this weekend. 8)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

We will skip the unspeakable amount of time I spent on the heel of my current sock-in-progress, and proceed directly to the solution. If you own any knitting books from Interweave Press, get them out, grab a pen, go here, and make corrections. The sanity you save may be your own.

Mom, I saw two of these on your shelf, but I know you can't "do" pdf's. I'll borrow the books next time I'm down (heh heh heh) and return them corrected (really!).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There are bigger issues, but a lot of little ones can get you down

Isn't that pretty? It's a picture of all the scarves (and some of the hats) KD's dorm suite knit for charity last year. I'm using it to remind me to take deep breaths and focus on a bigger picture than one small elementary school...

My husband, who is a teacher, told me last week that one of the agenda items on an upcoming faculty meeting was what to do about the fact that several of the middle school students have taken up knitting, and knit during recess.

I stifled my knee-jerk response and asked questions. Was it that they wanted the girls to be more active during recess? No, the playground has always been literally split between those who want to race around and blow off energy, and those who want to sit, stand, or walk, and just chat. (FWIW, I've always thought this was a good idea, because people - grown or not - relax in different ways.) They're all out breathing fresh air and making sunshine into vitamin D.

Was it that they were worried about the presence of large straight needles? That seemed likely, so I lent him an indestructible 10.5 plastic circular to demonstrate an alternative. And if that failed, I offered to teach the young knitters my daughters' patented - at that same school, albeit years ago - method of knitting a scarf using two bic pens.

Silly me. The meeting was today. They banned knitting. Outright. Not on straights, not on circulars, not on pens, presumably not on fingers (I've tried that in desperation, and it's not worth it - although KD taught herself to knit backwards doing it).

There are limits to what I am willing to do about this, given that I haven't even had children in this school for years. I decided that my first priority was to the knitter-neophytes, so I have extended an invitation to take them to next week's gathering of knitters at the local library, where they will be petted and praised for their talents instead of scolded and forbidden.

I have a reputation for trying to see both sides of a situation, but this one has me stumped.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summer of Socks

I knit socks all summer. They just didn't survive. Finally, I found some keepers. These are KD's - and she made sure of it by requesting that the colors run in opposite directions, a mod that I would never wear:

I used the leftover bits to make baby socks:

This was a kit Akasha gave me, since the colors weren't to her taste. The pattern was one of the most challenging I've done (not definition 1. easily messed up, but 2. pat-with-one-hand, rub-with-the-other intriguing/interesting). The yarn was super-comfy, and the shaping - particularly the arch shaping - made for an incredibly comfy sock. So I tried the same pattern in some Koigu from my stash:

You can see how far I got with that. More on that sock attempt later.

And finally, proof that KD's socks were knitted on vacation (thanks, Stewart!):

Monday, September 22, 2008


I spent a bit of my summer vacation driving back and forth (and forth and back) between upstate New York and Maryland. And I stumbled upon a new (to me) isogloss!

An isogloss is - well I could get all technical, but an example would be quicker. If you've ever traveled farther than the corner store you already know that a carbonated beverage is called different things in different parts of the country. Mapping that out tells you a little bit about English dialects in America.

I was already familiar with other food isoglosses (hotdish/casserole, and the whole sub/hoagie/gyro/grinder mess). But this one was topographic!

As I headed south, lovely little rivers became nice Dutch kills - the Catskills are named for the Kaaterskill, but there were plenty more, right down to the Schuylkill. Creeks for awhile, then I crossed the Mason-Dixon line, and suddenly, the rivers were all runs! James Run, Gravelly Run, Dogwood Run, Winters Run. New Jersey has necks, but I think that might only apply to estuaries.

So what's a small river called in your neck of the woods?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mermaid Rock photos, finally

Thanks to NKD, I have some lovely pictures of Mermaid Rock to rotate through, some even with knitting content (stolen right out of my bag!). I don't know how well it comes across (the web still lacking good 3D rendering - get on that, son, would you?) that this rock is a veritable armchair of a rock, with a backrest, comfy ledge, and lovely golden sand to rest ones feet/tail in at the bottom of the lake.

It was one of my favorite summer spots as a child, and the "happy place" I chose to visualize in those childbirth classes. When the big tree that anchored it went over a few years ago, I was devastated. But the rock and the lake are still there, and if it's a tad harder for me to reach these days, that's just incentive to stay active and agile.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The computer has recovered

It will take me a little longer. Oh, I still had access to e-mail and blogs, thanks to generous family members with laptops, but my pictures are all on THIS computer. And now must be backed up.

This is my Summer of Finishing Things. First up, NKD's Sea Monkeys, which she loves:

KD's sweater is finished in its present form - she grew while I was designing it, so it's back to the drawing board.

I've a cotton vest to block so it can make an appearance. Meanwhile I've cast on for a Summer of Socks, and started a baby blanket for no good reason at all (I don't even know any incipient babies) - but I've never had trouble disposing of baby items.

Thunder! I'd better post while I can!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I drove my regular route to work this morning, for the first time since last week. We had a little rain Sunday night... On Monday morning I discovered that three out of four routes to work were under water. "Turn around, don't drown!" the cheery public service ad runs. It's remarkably effective on someone who grew up on an island and had recurring nightmares about plunging off the causeway and winding up under water in a car.

I gave the waters Tuesday to subside, and successfully took my regular route this morning. I gave the creek a stern glance as I passed, and got back, "What? Me? I'm just a little old innocent piece of water here, minding my own business. Sure, I may get a little high, but it is Spring. Overflow my banks? Ten feet up the road on either side? Are you sure you haven't got me confused with an actual river? I'm just a creek, you know."

The trouble is, I had seen this creek on Monday, and although I had seen it over the road in past years, now I knew what it was really capable of. But I sensed that it was both embarrassed by its complete lack of restraint and proud of what it had managed to pull off.

So I didn't respond. There's no arguing with an attitude like that.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I've Been to Wales!

and I knit socks on my journey:

Pattern: Wendy's Double Eyelet Rib Socks
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company's Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in Mistletoe, from my stash

I loved this pattern, and cannot wait for her book to be available. I had never made a heel like this before, despite my years of toe-up socks, but a little blind faith saw me through.

I bought yarn in England (raise your hand if you're surprised), but I think I will take pictures as I knit it up. The same goes for last week's Sheep & Wool acquisitions.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now I'm awake...

On my drive to work this morning, I realized that the news on the radio was exactly what I had just heard on the tv before leaving home, and switched it over to a classical music station.

I recognized the piece immediately. The standard metaphor for "spring morning." Apropos, I thought, as the sun came up on the 15th of April. Then I got to thinking that it is really beyond a metaphor, almost a cliché. When does symbol cross over into caricature?

A question I could pose to my friends and family - if I could name the music. I hadn't even tried yet, not on one cup of half-caf and the sun not completely up. It was definitely a staple of my cartoon-watching childhood, but called to mind no images of hippos dancing or dinosaurs wandering, or even a centaur caught in a rainstorm...

Right then the next movement started, and drove any need for caffeine right out the window. At the first note of the trumpet fanfare, I went: oh. (And despite my childhood, I did NOT immediately think of the Lone Ranger.)

So whose idea was it to play the William Tell Overture to sleepy driving workers? And what do you think - has that slow part become so synonymous with spring that it's a caricature?

Image: René Magritte's The Son of Man, 1964, courtesy of Wikipedia and sister J (who knew the painter's name from my description of the painting)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Panda Knitting

KD's birthday presents, an adorable Panda scarf and matching Ying-Yang mittens, kits from Morehouse Farm Merino that my sister-in-law tipped me off to (and swore I could get done by KD's birthday - she was right!). I made the leftovers into some slipper socks, but they zipped out of the house to fast for a photo shoot.

German Jaywalkers

KD's Jaywalkers, knit from yarn she gifted me with after her trip to Germany last spring (here, Mom, have some yarn!.. Will you knit me something with it?) - the gift that gives back.

The photo shows off our new kitchen counters nicely, for those who have been dying for pictures.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Warm toes

Pattern from the 2008 Knitting-Pattern-a-Day that my boss makes sure I receive every year.

Yarn, astonishingly what was called for: Lion Brand's Wool-Ease.
Modifications: none.

These knit up fast and are destined for a life of house socks, since it's entirely too warm around here to wear worsted weight wool outside most of the time. But they're a color I like (I have a shirt and hair scrunchy that match exactly).

Sea Monkeys

I decided to knit some Monkeys. I had some pretty Koigu, and because I know exactly what size Koigu knits up on for me, I blithely cast on 52 sts and started the pattern. Too small. Huh, I said, guess the designer knows what she's talking about. So I frogged them and cast on the 64 stitches called for. Too big.

Serious thought (and some frogging) ensued. Then I cast on 56 sts and never looked back. (For the sake of brevity we are ignoring my whole experiment with knitting them toe-up, my preferred direction.) I took the missing 8 sts out of the back of the heel, which resulted in an interesting seamed look (and the proper size heel for my foot when I got there).

The pattern is addicting in its simplicity, and I enjoyed the way the colors turned out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

um die Ecke

The title is from a famously much-quoted line of memorized dialog from the Army's headstart language course for troops headed to Germany. It's not the Army's fault it left most of them half-believing that you could find the railroad station in any German town (from any point in town, of course) by going "straight, and then around the corner."

I have turned the corner on this bout of flu, the kitchen remodeling has turned a corner wherein the majority of the new cabinets are in the kitchen instead of in boxes in the next room (yes, we're doing it ourselves). I can get to the stove and am promised running water by the end of the weekend. All in all, life is looking up.

The downside of recuperation, though, is that suddenly tons of beautiful new patterns are clamoring to be knit, but I can't seem to hold the needles for more than 10 minutes without dropping off to sleep. *sigh*

Pictures of my latest finished objects are off limits for another week. I have two pairs of socks on the needles, neither worth a photograph yet. But I do have a sock-related question. In looking over the Yarn Harlot's tour schedule (because my mother pointed out that Stephanie was coming to a town near me), I noticed a week set aside for Sock Camp. Sock Camp? What on earth is Sock Camp? I know they like getting out in the yard for photo shoots, but are we really expected to send them off by themselves for a week in the country?? I mean really, you know they ignore the buddy system and get lost going through the wash, just imagine what could happen at Sock Camp!

Monday, February 4, 2008

How Sad is That?

No knitting pictures today, since the NKD/KD's birthday looms (but Michele, you were right, I could finish it in time!). I even have more leftover yarn to practice making knit balls with. Someday they will actually be round after I stuff them. In the meantime, they make great cat toys for friends' cats.

I watched the Superbowl last night, started dozing off after the Patriot's drive down the field and resulting touchdown with about two minutes left, figured it was ok to drift off because there was no way the Giants had time to do the same... Silly, silly me. You'd've thought the cheering would have wakened me, but seriously, after 10 I think I could sleep through anything. I am comforted in the knowledge that this is NOT the result of aging, I have been an early riser and resultant early-to-bed kind of girl my whole life.

Waiting on the electrician today, but patiently, because after his arrival I expect to have no power for most of the day, and even the phones need the electric on these days.

Just caught up with the blogs I read and was stunned to learn here (in the comments)* that I missed a Vital Clue in the last offering of Lost, despite watching it live and again taped. I do knit while I watch Lost, but by that I mean that I grip needles tightly in my hands, ignoring the trailing yarn until the commercials, when I can barely remember what I was working on.

*My first Trackback! I have no idea if I did it right... (nope, but maybe now?)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

This Bear Has a Twin

I thought it would be fun to take his picture against a background that matched him near-perfectly. This is why no one let me near a camera for years. At least I knew enough to take another picture with a better background...

This is the twin of the Baby Shower Bear, who will be living in Georgia. I originally knit this one to have a baby shower gift in reserve, but this bear apparently wants to go to school in Kansas, so he is off to sister K (who will be long done her unit on Teddy Bears by the time he arrives, but assures me that no one will mind).

Yarn: Dr. Jones leftovers
Pattern: out of a book I own, but interestingly online here as well

What in the world is that?

Why, it's a Dalek. What's a Dalek? I really have no idea. Something in the Dr. Who universe, which means that practically any member of three generations of my immediate family could tell you more about it than I could. My brother-in-law commented that his new kitchen sink had a faucet that looked like a Dalek, and sister J asked if I could knit something to make it look even more like one. Thanks to Google Image Search, I discovered what Daleks look like, and knit this up.

This was my first attempt at beaded knitting, the version where you actually string the beads on the yarn. I learned to always order more beads than you need, because some of them will be too wonky to string. Other than that, it was a blast.

Yarn: Patons Brilliant in Marvelous Mocha
Needles: #5 dpns (which I have since misplaced - to Daleks eat metal?)
Beads: 4mm copper shiny rounds from
Pattern: measured faucet, measured gauge, made it up as I went along. Mostly k5, p1 rib to preserve the paneled look of your fashion-conscious Dalek.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Purple Spiral Bamboo

Socks for a co-worker, for whom no one has ever knit anything before. (That hurts my brain. Seriously, you could so get me to knit for you if you told me that no one had ever knit anything for you. Unless I knew you were lying.)

Yarn: Southwest Trading Company Bamboo. This is not sold as sock yarn; my co-worker chose it because she was intrigued by bamboo yarn and wanted 100% bamboo. It knit up to my sock gauge on my Brittany birch #2s, and is wonderfully soft. But I don't think I would choose it again for socks. I was knitting the leftovers into a baby hat when one of the tiny bamboo threads (that are formed into a yarn that looks like miniature Icord) snapped, and the yarn broke. Snags happen. A sock yarn needs to stand up under pressure.

Pattern: Standard toe-up learned from Bonkers Sock Kits (the Yarn Barn again), with k2,p2 ribbing at the top because my bamboo socks have gotten looser with time, and I wanted to make sure these would stay up. Why the Yarn Barn, when I don't live anywhere near Kansas? Because a) sister K does (K is for Kansas), and b) the Yarn Barn is one of my two favorite stands at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. (ooh, Bonkers has new colorways - love that Coal, and the Obscure Rainbow...)

The other is Mannings, where I get my annual Koigu fix. Speaking of which, I pulled some Koigu from my stash and started me some socks, because there were No Socks on Needles, and this cannot happen. And also because I discovered the moth invasion of last fall got into my socks as well, and one of my early lace footies in Koigu (back when my annual fix was one skein and footies was all it would stretch to) has an extra non-lace hole. I've fallen in with the Monkey fad, but am knitting them toe-up. Pictures when there's more than a toe to show off.

I finished the baby shower bear just in time (but not in time for a photo shoot). I'm knitting the rest of the yarn into a reserve bear (at my husband's suggestion - he thinks I should have baby shower knits stashed away in advance), so I'll take a picture of that one.

And it's time to bind off for the neck on KD's top. Scary.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ocean Waves

I had no idea it would be so hard to take a picture of a rectangle. *sigh* Thank goodness knitting isn't as hard as photography. This is my non-knitting daughter's Christmas present, a lacy shawl to wear when she's out in her little black dress.

Yarn: 2 skeins of Trekking XXL bought at the wonderful Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas (I had planned to use 3, but she stopped me, declaring it quite long enough - more socks for me!)

Pattern: Wave and Shell Shawl (wonderful easy lace pattern, I would make it again in a heartbeat)

This shawl was the reason I bought blocking wires. I've gotten away with not blocking most of my knitting life, primarily because I started out knitting acrylic (the blocking of which is about as pointless as sweeping a mud puddle), and then moved to socks (seriously, who blocks socks?). But I knew lace was a different story, and was worried about driving myself 'round the bend trying to make the pins line up perfectly. (think Monk - I'd still be at it). Fortunately the knitblogs had introduced me to the concept of blocking wires. They worked as advertised and I was very pleased.

Which is a good thing, as I have another lace project or two on the needles. Meanwhile the knitting daughter's
vesttopshort-sleeved object is almost done. I'm using this pattern as a jumping-off point, since it is exactly the shape she had in mind. I just sized it up a little, since she's not quite my baby any more.

But there's a baby shower at work tomorrow, and I have a baby gift to finish...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rose socks

Yarn: Panda Cotton Print in color Roses
Pattern: I searched on "rose socks" and found these, Ann Budd's pattern, which inspired me
Recipient: the same sister who loves Dr. Jones, so we'll call her J *

I loved the yarn, and the pattern. I thought it would look good in a solid color too (like these do), but that hasn't worked out yet.

The story of how these socks came to be is on its way to becoming a family legend. My sister-in-law misunderstood something J said, and asked me about the socks I was making. At that point I didn't know I was making socks for J, but if she thought I was, I'd better (because I still owed her a bear, you see, and was hoping to distract her). Eventually the miscommunication was unraveled, but by that time the socks were on the needles, and I was still looking for a distraction.

*I'm against naming names in a blog to respect people's privacy, but I have eight sisters - it's either label them or number them.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yummy leftovers

My sister-in-law dyed some stretchy cotton for socks, then gave me the leftovers. I had thought to make sock legs out of them, making the feet out of something else. But life had other ideas. It was exactly enough yarn for my daughter's new lacy hat love, which I finished just in time to put her on a plane back to college:

Now I'm in that post-holiday pause, where I need to cast on something NOW, but so far nothing has had sticking power. I'll be starting a new pair of bamboo socks tomorrow for a co-worker (if she remembers to bring in the yarn), but what about today?

Because my daughter got into my stash rather heavily when she was home (apparently I got her all the way out of her teens without her realizing just how much yarn there actually is in this house), I now have a bag of Patons Canadiana that was going to be a sweater that is now going to be... a vest. Apparently for the above-mentioned daughter. Something close-fitting with little cap sleeves. Except that I can't find a pattern like that... ("think, think, think," tapping finger to head stuffed with fluff...)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Not for the squeamish...

I ran a #4 dpn into the palm of my left hand today, trying to grab it before it fell to the floor. If only I had known it was going to get stuck at the edge of my desk.... The puncture is small, nowhere near the big deal running an inch of #3 dpn into the top of my foot was back in 2001. At least my tetanus shots are up to date. Probably the worst thing about it was that it happened on a break at work and I had to fill out forms explaining what happened (which will be read by non-knitting muggles, I just know it).

Here, pretty pictures to distract you all from my clumsiness:

Comments should work now...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Over the weekend I've been knitting up leftover scraps of Christmas knitting into hats and mittens and such. My daughter will take these mittens back to college with her, assuming I finish the last thumb. Today in the mail I received a free knitting pattern - of the same mittens! OK, they striped the cuffs as well, and the top is shaped differently, but it's the same colors! I watched too much of the Twilight Zone marathon yesterday - I find the coincidence slightly ominous, instead of charming

Mine are this pattern, using leftover yarn from her Tigger (I bought all four kits before she started college; she gets one every Christmas, the only crocheting I do).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Meet Dr. Jones...

This is "Professor Rusty" from Beautiful Bears, Saprotex Design Studio, in "Aran Fleck" Red Heart, one skein (which I stole from my mom's sweater leftovers) plus one arm's worth of a second skein. The vest is Chocolate Simply Soft, the tie is some oddment, and the watch, the lovely watch, I bought online from Dolls and Lace at Ruby Lane.

He is a birthday/Christmas present for my Sean Connery loving sister, who was very patient with how long it took me. Not to knit him, that went fast, or to stuff and sew him up. No, it was learning to make movable joints, and that darned vest, which still isn't right (look closely - no buttons, and it curls like - well, like stockinette in acrylic). But she'd been waiting long enough, so he was delivered Christmas eve.