Thursday, October 6, 2011

October mourning

As I drove home from work today, I was listing all the lovely things about the drive. Not least that someone in authority noticed the sinkhole developing in the right lane of my morning commute, and it looks like it will be mended by morning. But mainly, it has stopped raining. The sky is no longer overcast. In fact, it is blue, and cloudless, and there is a hint of nip in the air (although there is still no need to wear a coat). I could smell the woodsmoke from someone's fireplace.

As I drove, I checked on the noteworthy trees along my commute. Trees that by some happy circumstance, some combination of placement, soil, water, sun, who knows? - are outstanding specimens. There's an enormous maple that will be setting the sky on fire in a few more weeks. A stately white dogwood, large and old for its type, perfectly shaped, that punctuates the arrival of spring every year. And a crepe myrtle of such size and majesty that twice a year it fairly glows with flowers, causing my husband, who is not given to noticing flowers much, to ask what it was and if we could have one in our yard. The autumnal flowering is over now, but like the others, I still glance at it as I pass.

Except today. It's gone. They've cut it down. They're building a house in the area behind it.

I'm not totally against cutting down trees. I've removed a few dead or dying specimens myself, and thinned out places that needed it. And I understand that construction means clearing a path for the machines. But this beauty was on the edge of the yard, out of the way, and nothing they could replace it with will come anywhere near it in beauty for decades.

Thoughtless waste.

Monday, July 18, 2011


(MYEH-lutch: trifles, little things, small change)

I've been making little things:

- a cozy for NKD's GPS out of leftover Cotton-Ease from KD's stash:

I love the button. I made sure it was not a shank button, as I didn't want it poking back into the screen and scratching it. Then I sewed the button on making a yarn shank, as I wanted NKD to be able to fasten it easily (with the GPS inside, one can't bend the fabric to pop the button in and out).

- a cozy to keep my iPod earbuds from constantly tangling (and then decided I liked another set of earphones better anyway):

I made a matching (as in, the same Purple Heather Knitpicks Stroll, my current favorite color ever) cozy for my iPod:

You'll notice there's no pattern link. I cast on as if it was a toe-up sock, worked linen stitch in the round until it covered my iPod, cast off one side (plus a bit, to leave room for the earphone cord), continued in linen stitch as I decreased, purposely (no, really!) slanting the flap to one side, made a buttonhole at the end, and there you go! (As in, go find a button - thanks, KD!)

And then, before sewing the button on and tucking in the ends, I turned it inside out. I can't explain it. I just love the way those fat reverse-linen-stitch purl bumps look. Like Israeli couscous.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When I made NKD's Saige, I had a fair amount of Berroco Sox self-striping sock yarn left over. Glamorgan 1420 was by far my absolute favorite stripe (go ahead, ask my family about the noises I made while knitting with it the first time). I was delighted to find that I had just enough left to make a pair of ankle socks for myself. I was also ridiculously pleased to be able to get the stripes to match.

I knit them on zeros, and fiddled with my standard toe-up sock pattern a bit. KD and I have noticed that over time our hand knit socks, um, grow a bit, so I've been experimenting with making them a tighter fit to start with. I can't really tell until I've worn and washed them awhile if this did any good. And I'm certainly not wearing wool socks for another couple of months! These are in (moth proof) Summer Sock Hibernation until then.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Overdye? Seriously?

I made my SIL (mother of two of the cutest kids on the planet - I have photographic evidence!) a beaded lace shawl, the beautiful and challenging Dracula's Bride (ravelry link).

I bought the type of yarn called for, Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk, not wanting to mess around with substitutions.

It was a shock to receive the pattern and discover it was beaded. My eyesight just isn't sharp enough to pick that out in the pattern photographs. But with some advice from my SIL, I found some gorgeous beads. I have done beading previously by attaching the beads as I came to them with a crochet hook, but there was no way that was going to happen with these tiny things, so I learned how to string beads on yarn and slide them up when it was time.

I started it in September, and restarted it in January (it's hard to spot a significant pattern error in unblocked lace), and gave it to her this spring. The one major modification I made was in the color yarn. The certifiably crazy wonderwoman who designed the shawl knit it entirely in dark red, and then OVERDYED the edge black. I had heart palpitations just thinking about how badly I could mess up my carefully knit lace by trying my hand at dying for the first time. So I bought the yarn in Ruby and Ebony and switched at about the spot it looked like she overdyed it. The black came off on my hands a little as I knit it, making me nervous about even wet-blocking it, but pinning and spraying did the trick.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just for you, kid

Awhile ago (in November 2009, to be exact), I was in my LYS with my non-knitting daughter, a situation I normally try to avoid. Not on her account, lest she be bored, but because there is nothing worse than petting pouring over yarn in the presence of toe-tapping impatience. As it happens, she was extremely well-behaved, exploring an alien environment with her usual absorption, and I'd nearly forgotten she was with me.

Until she showed up at my elbow, her face aglow, waving a booklet in my face and asking "Could you make this for me?"

The kind of question that warms a mother's heart, right?

Except that she is in her 20s, and the pattern was for a small child. Still, I agreed that it looked like her kind of thing, and the construction was simple enough. I thought it would be possible. And on Mother's Day 2011, I finally sewed on the buttons and sent her on her way.

NKD's Saige

Pattern: Saige (Berroco #280 Soxcetera)
Needles: US 2
Yarn: Berroco Sox in 1420 Glamorgan, 1424 Huddersfield, 1425 John Moores, 1426 Royal Holloway, 1427 Lancaster, 1436 Lidores, 1474 Liverpool, and 1477 Kingston

Mods: Well. Since the thing is constructed from strips, I started out by doubling the number of body strips from 2 to 4, adding a couple more colors of gorgeous self-striping Berroco Sox, and doubled the amount of yarn called for in the sleeves. The green for the edging wasn't available, so I went with NKD's favorite blue. I figured out what color went where, and knit one of the outer strips that required no shaping at all. When I got the length (up the back, over the shoulder, down the front) that NKD wanted, I recorded the number of rows and did some math. Then I knit the rest of it. I took a bit of a rest before tackling the neck/hood math, but since NKD was available for frequent try-ons and math help (she's working on her doctorate in astrophysics, what's a little knitting math to her?), it wasn't too bad. I assembled it as I went along. I love mattress stitch, and really, when there's no shaping, it's practically mindless. When it was done and blocked, we visited her grandmother's button boxes to finish it off with some vintage buttons.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hats for Liz

Rumor has it that some months ago Liz saw a selection of NKD's hats, knit for her by mom and sister, and complained that our family had not made her any hats. So we did. Not least because she made it safely home from her last tour of duty.

The boys are still working on their contribution (newspaper hats - why do mine always turn into boats before I can stop them?).

NKD picked up her needles again, and turned out a very creditable watch cap (but she's still NKD, because she still doesn't enjoy the process):

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease (80% acrylic, 20% wool) in one of the blue-ish heathers
Needles: Size 7 circulars and dpns
Pattern: Cast on 88 sts, work K2,P2 ribbing for 10", K2, P2tog; work another inch, K2tog, P1, work another inch, K2tog twice around, cut yarn and pull through remaining stitches.

KD, after a false start (we don't need no stinking gauge swatch) that found a happy home, made a perfectly lovey spiral hat:

Yarn: Red Heart Worsted (100% acrylic) in rust, a discontinued color I bought scads of back when I was churning out gingerbread men almost daily
Needles: size 7 circular
Pattern: Hurricane Hat (non-Ravelry link here)

Rumor had also revealed to me that Liz had a fondness for the currently popular South American chullo (earflap hat), so with NKD's help on picking colors, I contributed this one:

Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% wool, 30% silk) in Jade, Grass, and Cream
Needles: size 6 circulars and dpns
Pattern: Alpaca Earflaps
Loved this yarn, and I have enough left to make something else - maybe a scarf? Lots of people had issues with the pattern. I left the claw pattern out of the earflaps, did a half-double-crochet edging instead of double crochet, and finished with braided colors instead of I-cord. The stockinette edge was partially tamed by the edging, and stops flipping up entirely when worn.

Welcome home, Liz!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Arrrgyle Vest

Still catching up with this year's gift-knitting, now that the unwrapping is over.

A vest for my littlest niece:

Pattern: Moose's Argyle Vest (non-Ravelry link) from the 2010 Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar

Size: 2T-3T (she should be able to wear it for another year at least)

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll Sock Yarn (75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon) in Basalt Heather, African Violet, Carnation, and Dove Heather

Needles: 3.5 mm

Modifications: I adapted the Arrrglye Socks graph (non-Ravelry link) to fit across the front of the vest. It was finicky, but worth it.

This was a fun, fast knit. I had to pick up the neck stitches twice - one look at the opening I was making and I knew no child's head would ever enter. This is a constant mistake I make, but at least I caught it early on this time.

I'm gaining confidence in colorwork. I've learned three important things since those long-ago first efforts in acrylic: 1) Blocking (i.e., making it in a fiber that can be blocked, to start with), 2) Spacing your floats - keep spreading out the stitches on the right-hand needle to stretch out your floats, and 3) Make adjustments as you secure your ends. That last one was the big deal on this piece. I didn't even bother to block it. I did take care with my floats, but some of it still looked crappy until I wove in the ends and pulled a few loose ends snugly into line.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Yarn makes a lovely souvenir. Whether it's the oddly colored cotton I bought at a Dutch flea market decades ago, or the sweet, chestnut-brown alpaca a friend brought me from Peru, it conjures up memories, or thoughts, of far-away places. I love the challenge of knitting up a new yarn into something it wants to be.

Recently, a well-traveled friend brought me two skeins of yarn from Spain. Thick, warm, luscious, soft alpaca/wool/acrylic. Enough for a striped scarf, or two hats, or - well, I never did get further in my musings in that, since one of my daughters was within hearing. They rarely dress alike, but are not averse to the occasional item being made for both of them, as long as the colors are different.

They've both been wearing them constantly ever since I delivered them, so I think they were a hit. Thank you, my friend.

Yarn: Katia's Peru (40% acrylic, 40% wool, 20% alpaca), 2 100 g skeins
Needles: #8 circular*, #10 circular and dpns
Pattern: Winter's Coming (and non-Ravelry here)
Mods: none. This yarn and pattern were made for each other; I would make more in a heartbeat.

*This was not good to discover just now, since I have spent all weekend insisting I did not own a small #8 circular. Obviously, I did when I made these hats. Guess I'd better go look for it. NKD wants to learn to make a hat. More on that later.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sailor hat

Hat for Sailor

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, I think, in a lovely blend of green and black impossible to see here.

Pattern: Lion Brand Watch Cap, no modifications

The photograph completely fails to convey the warmth and comfort level of this hat. But somewhere far away, someone is enjoying it.