Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Block Party

Some things are better tackled with company. Both KD and NKD pitched in while they were home over Thanksgiving weekend to help block some large items.

The large purple object is KD's project, so I don't know much about it, except that it turned out exactly the way she wanted.

I did a much better job on the points when I re-blocked this, and have worn it often since then.

Meanwhile two other projects have flown off the needles since then. DH is de-cluttering, and brought some yarn-stash downstairs for sorting that I'd forgotten about. Most of it wound up neatly sorted into bins, but some yarn just stuck to my fingers until it became something.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I've come down with a sudden case of mittens

There I was, minding my own business, knitting away on various long-term projects, happy as a clam. Then, from out of the blue, came a call for help: a toddler's first winter outside, and she was mittenless!

The first pair flew off the needles and onto tiny cold hands so fast there isn't a picture of them. But the very afternoon that I delivered them, I cast on the next pair.

The invisible pair:
Yarn: leftover Paton's Simply Soft (acrylic, DK) in pale pink
Pattern: Baby Wallace Mittens, by Wendy Poush
Mods: Numerous! I grabbed the pattern for the shape and sizing for DK-weight baby mittens; I didn't make thumbs or do any of the color work

The pictured pair:

Yarn: leftover Severn (wool/silk, fingering)

Pattern: Heart String Mittens, by Crystal Guistinello

Mods: I didn't add the buttons or string

Then, since I was on a mitten-y roll, I finished these:

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco Duo and Eco Alpaca, as called for
Pattern: Double-Stuff Mittens, by Antje Gillingham
Mods: None; I'm not messing with perfection!

But I'm not the only one with an addiction. DH can't seem to stop exploring the candy cookbook I gave him:

That's maple sugar candy, butter mints, and marshmallows (the store bought strawberry candies were added to the plate for color). There was also a valiant attempt at molasses paddles (delicious, but able to remove fillings at a single bite).

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I came home from work one day last week to discover that a tense situation had developed in the dining room while I was gone.

Initially, it looked friendly enough, a sort of pre-Thanksgiving communal cooking experience.

Then I got a closer look at what each group was planning on making.

Oh-oh. This can't be good.

Fortunately, the next day I came home to find they had evidently worked out their differences and repaired to a sunny shore...

For the curious, at the far end of the table in the first and last pictures you will find evidence of DH's current fascination with the candy cookbook I gave him - marshmallows, in this case. There's also home-made maple sugar candy on the table, but you can't see it. (Yes, I keep it hidden. Wouldn't you?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

End Game failure

Yarn:      The Knitting Boutique's Potomac (baby camel!, merino, silk) in Graphite, 1 skein
 Pattern:  Tanis Gray's Clara Shawl
 Needles: US 6 (4.00 mm)

The luxury fiber was, well, luxurious, and the pattern was a pleasant knit. Where things fell apart was in blocking it - I was too lazy to pay attention to the points, and wound up with a sloppy block, with the result that I have yet to wear it. It sits there patiently, waiting for me to have the time to re-block it properly.


Given that we're already headed full tilt into the holiday season, I can't imagine when that's going to happen. But anything's possible!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Progress

I really need a pair of red socks. I have red yarn. Why I chose the slowest possible pattern for socks I need right now is a mystery. This is seriously the same yarn as in the shot below, and is not in the slightest bit orange. Photography is a mystery all its own.

 I did solve the mystery of why they are known as Bavarian socks - apparently this kind of traveling stitch is referred to as Bavarian knitting. I must admit I never noticed any socks like this while I lived in Bavaria, but then, I was raising small children and I don't remember noticing socks at all, unless the baby was kicking one off.

Because all this twisting eats up yardage, I don't expect them to be the usual mid-calf length I prefer. And since they are cuff-down, I'm having to guess how long I can make them. But I've turned the heel on this first one since I took the picture (they live at my desk, so photo opportunities are slim).

I really like the way the designer arranged the heel flap stitches to grow out of the established pattern. They're going to be very nice. Eventually.

I've also taking this yarn and roving, and begun thrummed mittens (from a kit bought at the Adirondack Museum). Sharp-eyed readers will note that Stewart-Pasha is assisting with the photo shoot. During my first attempt at the pattern, I made the thrums way too thick. Also, the short rolled cuff seemed like a terrible idea for cold winter days. But I had just enough yarn left from the recent hat to make ribbed cuffs to attach. And I figured  they'd given me just enough roving for the thrums and divided it up accordingly, and now things are going better.

Both projects have been ignored lately in favor of a baby gift, because babies don't wait. Fortunately, they also don't take much time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nothing says "instant gratification"

like bulky weight yarn and a good hat pattern. Oh sure, you can knit smaller items, and possibly even simpler items. But it's mid-October, the temperature's dropping, and when I mentioned to KD that I was awash in a sea of reverse stockinette, beginning to be bored with my current project, she stepped up. Or rather drove down, for other purposes, but she brought me a skein of yarn. The next day, I cast on a hat. Today, I wore it. And that's just enough of a break to send me back to that sea of blue, heartened to take on the waist shaping.

Yarn: Lion Brand Lion's Pride Woolspun, a bulky acrylic/wool blend of 12 twisted strands, not anything you'd ever want to use a sharply-tipped needle on, in a yummy shade of heathered garnet and black

Needles: #10 (6 mm), two small circulars (because I couldn't put my hand on my dpns fast enough)

Pattern: Johnny Vasquez's Gridiron Hat

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taking a second stab at it

Remember this? My attempt to make Twist Collective's Maire Riding Jacket for NKD - three years ago!

Well, as this was the summer of finishing things off, I eventually worked my way down to this unfinished object. I read a bit on Ravelry about other people's experiences, and reassured that I was not alone in my gauge problems, set off again.

I have finished both sleeves and they fit the recipient.

Having achieved what amounted to a running start, I then took on the body of the piece. The beginning (bottom) was all the fiddly patterned bit and was quite interesting. But now I am working my way up through the waist shaping, and things are getting a tad snoozy. I may need to find a short project, as a sort of palette cleanser between courses.

Meanwhile, I continue to be mildly amused by the attached Icord, which on one side of the fabric I am executing BACKWARDS. On the purl side. I didn't even know this was possible, and on the first few rows it was a complete leap of faith that the thing they were telling me to do would actually result in Icord. See that? Matching Icord on both edges. Magic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Summer of Finished Objects

This summer, as I worked to get the house ready to put on the market, I kept coming across UFOs. And finishing them.

So this gift from my SIL:

 became this messy unblocked lace:

which blocked into this lovely rectangular shawl:


Yarn: Unique Designs Handspun Wool

Pattern: Cristiana Brenna's 100 grammi

Because the yarn varies in thickness, color, and material, I wanted a pattern that would be very forgiving of uneven stitches. This one did the trick. As a plus, it is completely reversible,  and surprisingly warm for such open lace. Also, it was dead simple to knit up. I have worn it several times now, and am very happy with it.


Many years ago, a member of my knitting group gave me this yarn:

which I quickly figured out should be this pattern:

and then forgot all about. And now it is this:

Yarn: unlabeled worsted weight weight mohair, partial skein

Pattern: Knitlist Mohair Scarf Pattern (via the Wayback Machine)

Mods: added two selvage edge stitches; I start each row by "slip 1 as if to purl with yarn in front" and end with an extra knit 1. This makes a nice place for my blocking wires. I don't have any idea what to do with this one - the color is just as odd as it looks, and I have plenty of scarves already. Ant thoughts out there?

Monday, July 21, 2014

I know what my people are thinking tonight...

Did she do it?

She said she was going to...

She's been saying that for months! What if we have to get through the winter without any?

Any at all? I don't think that's possible. Or advisable...

But we're not there to help her, and it's a lot of work...

She'd never let us go the whole winter without any at all!

* * *

It's all right, my chickens. We're set for the winter:

First person to comment gets the first jar... Wouldn't it be funny if it was a complete stranger? Do you want a complete stranger scarfing down your jam???

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer knitting doldrums

Not a quiet summer - they never are. Lots of storms, and consequent yard work. The usual summer turn out of rooms in hopes of clutter reduction. Work, classes, day trips. I've recently figured out how to download library books to my Kindle, so LOTS of reading. A little knitting. I finished a pretty little lace scarf, but I can never find the time to block it. Maybe this weekend, it's supposed to be less humid.

I had hoped to make this yarn, acquired at my last knitting retreat, into the Abundance Shoulder Shawl (the pattern version I have calls for 500 yards).

I knew straight off that I didn't have quite enough yarn, but I thought I'd be able to make it work. Let's just say that it took me entirely too long to realize that a sideways knitted-on edging uses more yardage than one can readily imagine. So out it came, and the yarn was re-purposed into these:

Pattern: Edwardian Boating Socks, by Emma Grundy Haigh (I may have been influenced by the fact that my yarn was the same color as the socks in the picture)

Yarn: Severn Fingering (BFL & silk) in Lilly

Needles: 1.25 mm dpns

Mods: I used Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast On, which hardly counts as a mod any more, since I start all my ribbing cuffs that way. I replaced both suggestions for the heel flap stitch (a linen stitch heel flap? are you mad?) with Eye of Partridge.

That was about it. They were an easy knit, but I have been catching up on missed tv, and learning the hard way that I cannot knit during Game of Thrones. So this happened at one point:

- in the center, 4 repeats down, I totally forgot to pick up a float. And there are both skipped and knit stitches in the rows, so just dropping down and picking it up was not going to happen.

Meanwhile, although there are other socks languishing on the needles (and a poor mitten without a thumb - I hate thumbs), I've begun to play with this:

 Fall colors. Winter is coming...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Test Knitting

I was away on a road trip in May, but I recognize that that excuse is getting a little threadbare in mid-June...

KD volunteered me to test knit for a mutual friend. This was a new thing for me, and I took it seriously. How seriously? I made gauge swatches!

Pattern: Simple Cable Socks, now available on Ravelry!

Yarn: Knit Picks Pacific Stroll Tonal

Mods: I got gauge on 2.5 mm instead of 3.00 mm; I used 4 needles instead of 3, because that's the way I like to arrange my dpns.

I really liked the way the pattern left space to write down notes as you went along. Since I was working off a pdf, it was really nice to just use the little Adobe Reader sticky notes. Since I made more than one pair in different sizes, I was even able to keep notes for multiple sizes. I've always made these notes on actual sticky notes before, or written them on a printed pattern, and they invariably get lost.

The pattern was simple and elegant and easy to follow. I like the socks very much. And to my utter surprise, I had enough yarn left after making mine (Women's) to make a pair of the size 6-8! Since I have a co-worker with a daughter the right age, I passed them on to her. In return, I got one of the nicest handmade thank-you cards I've ever seen. That girl has a future in crafts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brain Freeze

I stumbled into the kitchen this morning and mumbled "morning," as I poured my first cup of coffee. DH, who gets up much earlier than I do, began dishing up the oatmeal, commenting as he did so that he remembered to add salt this time. Part of my brain recognized a cue and thought I should say, "Really? I did too, because you always forget!" and expected a third person to pop up and confess that they had as well. The rest of my brain realized that a) I'd been upstairs when he made the oatmeal, and b) there was no third person in the house. Since the two parts of my brain were moving too slowly to handle the discrepancy, I just smiled sleepily and took my coffee into the other room.

It's a trope. The Big Eight all bring salt to the picnic on the Little Island. Anne (of Avonlea) and Diana and Marilla all add sugar to the peas (sugar? peas? who does that?). Everybody in the house adds liquor to the State Fair entry before it leaves the house. Have I missed any? Leave a comment if you've seen it elsewhere.

I finished another pair of socks, just in time to wear them once and put them away for the winter:

Pattern: Wendy D. Johnson's Double Eyelet Rib Toe-Up Socks

Needles: 0 (2.00 mm)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock in Temple Turquoise

Mods: I love this pattern. I've been knitting it up for years. I think the only thing I do differently these days is that I've switched to Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.

I also made a scarf out of the last of the alpaca:

Pattern: Vanesa Polo's Garter Stitch Keyhole Scarf

Needles: 10 1/2 (6.5 mm)

Yarn: Bernat Alpaca in Wheat, Stone, & Tomato

Mods: I didn't sew it together to make the keyhole, and I didn't add fringe.

Since I had the least Wheat, I made sure I didn't start or end with it, and just kept knitting until I ran out of Wheat. Then I knit one more row in the next color and bound off.

It made a very nice long tricolor scarf that is not for me because alpaca and I don't get along. I'm going to try to find it a home this weekend.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Madness

NKD asked me if I could figure out how to knit the poncho from The Emperor's New Groove. The one with the llama on it. Out of alpaca.

Once I got over the idea of knitting a poncho, it was a pretty easy project, especially since I chose bulky weight yarn. And copying a cartoon in knitting turns out to be pretty easy - not a lot of detail to deal with. Copying cartoon colors, on the other hand, since I'm not a dyer myself, turned out to be much harder.

We compromised on the amount of pure alpaca in the finished product; camelid yarn is notoriously expensive. I went with pure alpaca for the dark green stripes at top and bottom, and a much cheaper alpaca/acrylic mix for the main body and picture. How much cheaper? The yarn for the dark green stripe cost almost as much as all of the rest of the yarn for the project put together.

I've not met the recipient, but I'm sympathetic to most cosplay, since it's not that far removed in spirit from Renaissance Faire garb. I hope it meets his expectations.

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Baby
          Alpaca Chunky
         4 skeins Olive Heather,

and Bernat Alpaca,
       6 skeins Fern,
       1 skein each Wheat,
         Tomato, and Stone

Needles: 10.5

Pattern: Mitered Unisex
from Lion Brand
as a base, plus an intarsia
rectangle appliqued to the
center front

I had a little of the pure alpaca left, so I knit a scarf for a friend...

Yarn:      Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky
               in Olive Heather

Needles: 9

Pattern:  The Fidget

Mods:    I used the twisted moss stitch pattern to
              make a cushy scarf rather than a neck

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seasons in Transition

Winter knitting is winding down. I just ripped out one sock back to the foot because I had managed to start the heel gusset increases in the wrong place. *sigh* But I finished the latest pair for DH.

Pattern: Oliver
Yarn: Crazy Zauberball in W├╝rzelsepp, 1 skein
Needles: 2.5 mm
Mods: kept the toe increases at every other row until 12 sts remained instead of switching to every row increases, to widen the toe box slightly

To my amazement, I only used one ball of the yarn I had set aside for these. I poked around a bit for a different pattern for the other ball - still for DH, since these are definitely not my colors, but different enough from the Olivers not to make laundry day more of a chore than it already is. Fortunately, Oliver is such a completely different shape that finding another pattern was not difficult. I think I've settled on Paraphernalia.

The neighbor's crocus are in bloom. I dodge bunnies in the morning, I've seen fat robins eating worms, and we've eliminated our first stink bug of the season. Definitely spring, even if there is still some snow in the forecast.

I've been knitting up a silly project in bulky weight alpaca on 6.5 mm needles. That really goes fast!

There's lace in my future, but so many non-knitting things on my to-do list to check off first. We're planning a road trip in a few months, though, so it will definitely be on the needles by then. This one first, I think:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Earlier in the month KD and I went on our second annual knitting retreat. I love the place where it's held. Not just because the Kent Manor Inn is a sweet spot - are knitting retreats held anywhere else? - but because this particular sweet spot was unknown to me before we started going there on retreat, even though I've lived here for decades, and I could, if I had to, walk home from it. Somehow that makes it extra sweet.

Last year's focus was on color work; this year's was on finishing techniques. I didn't learn as many new things, but I took to heart a pithy lesson: learn to say to the pattern, "You are not the boss of me." (I may have taken this lesson so much to heart that returning to a job where  someone actually IS the boss fo me was a little harder than it might have been. But I digress.)

The retreat project was a knitted cover for a small pillow. Since I have no place for decorative pillows in my life, I made sure (with the help of the retreat's sponsor, the lovely Knitting Boutique) that the colors for my pillow and KD's pillow would compliment each other. This pillow is now at her house, waiting to be paired with hers. I decided the colors looked like earth, air, fire, and water, so I chose moss stitch for the green earth, a single star stitch for the purple night sky, dumped the rosy coals into reverse stockinette, and found a wavy cable pattern for the blue sea - which also let me explore seaming the top of one square to the side of the other. It was more than tempting to knit the whole thing at once, without seams, but the seams were the point of the project, after all. And I wouldn't have been able to make the waves horizontal.

Aren't the strips on the back sweet? If I wore striped sweaters, I would SO make a sweater of those colors. I love when other people pick colors for me. The original pattern called for buttons and buttonholes, but I went for an overlapping envelope, like my European pillowcases.

Meanwhile, I've finished a pair of socks and am on the second sock for three other pairs.

Pattern:    Nutkin
Yarn:        Paton's Kroy Sock FX in Copper Colors
Mods:      Instead of a purl row at the hem fold, I did a k2tog/yo row for a picot edge.
                Decreased the sole of the foot down to 26 sts.
                Decreased 4 sts every other row for toe until 24 sts left. The "earbumps" on the
                ends of the weaving disappeared after the first day I wore them, as they
                always do.

What ailed me wasn't Second Sock Syndrome. It was... Startitis. I haven't yet cast on anything - I think the pillow helped. But the pairing of yarn and patterns is well underway, and any minute now I shall break out and cast on about six things at once.

And NKD has hooked me up with an absolutely ridiculous project wish has me laughing before I've even started. More on that later.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Symptom Check

It's cold and flu season, and also a deeply cold winter. So there's a certain amount of symptom checking going on all the time. Is this a runny nose because I'm coming down with something, or because I just came inside from below-zero weather? Is my throat ticklish because the air is dry, or because I'm developing a sore throat? Whether these are fleeting thoughts or day-long obsessions depends on the individual, of course. But I believe we all have that moment when something catches our attention and we stop to decide whether this is something to worry about.

Here is that moment this week. This certainly looks like the onset of an unexpected bout of Second Sock Syndrome, something I have been lucky enough to escape thus far. Starting at 12 and running 'round the clock, we have
  • one completed Nutkin sock from Patons Kroy Socks Fx in Copper (yes, I finally got tired of knitting that yarn into Hermione's Everyday Socks);
  • one just-past-the-heel Oliver from  Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball in W├╝rzelsepp (my new favorite word);
  • one just-past-the-heel Eyelet Rib in a delicious summer sky shade (Temple Turquoise) of Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock;
  • and one completed-but-flawed standard toe-up sock in leftover Berroco Sox (I've given up keeping discontinued colors straight).
Except for the last one, which turned up in a stash dive and has unclear fit issues, none of the others are abandoned projects. I just happen to be knitting a lot of socks at the moment (see deeply cold winter above). The Wildfoote are my office knitting, home for the weekend for a sanity check (I knit these from memory, and it's always a good idea to make sure memory hasn't wandered down some strange sidepath). And the Nutkin and Oliver are my tv knitting, still very much what I'm working on at the moment. So I think I'm okay. I haven't had the urge to cast on any more socks.

Lace, however, is another matter...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spider Lace

Another co-worker retiring, another lace shawl made. It's quite astonishing how much I miss having lace on the needles now that this is done, but there's a sweater UFO weighing on my mind that I'll need to tackle first, before starting a new lace project. One project too big to lug around at a time...

I had been wanting to learn this pattern every since I bought Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today. That book is a feast for the eyes, by the way. This particular pattern doesn't even look like knitting. It looks a little like tatting, which I learned and forgot decades ago. It took me a couple of false starts to get the hang of it, and then I never looked back. I made heavy use of Ravelry's ability to search for people who have made a pattern and left helpful notes.

Long before (fortunately) I started the edging, I realized that my co-worker likes beads. I knew exactly the beads I wanted (round crystals that would look like drops of water), but I had to go through a few weeks of self-doubt, and followed by a few more weeks of research because I absolutely wanted to add them by the crochet method instead of stringing, which meant I had to have a hole circumference and a crochet hook that would play well together, and a vendor (Beadaholique) who made that information easy to find. The beads (and new crochet hook) arrived before I needed them.

I tried the bead placement others had used, and it wasn't enough for me. A little experimenting, a little consultation with my mathematician daughter, and I settled on adding the beads to the edge points of the diamonds in the edging.

Then, finally, the delight of lace blocking, turning this:

into this:

Pattern: A Curved Shawl with Diamond Edging
Yarn: Juniper Moon Findley in Poppy
Beads: Czech Seed Beads, size 6/0, crystal clear
Needles: circular 3.00 mm, with nice sharp tips
Mods: used lots of hints from amvs, divadar,2totangle on Ravelry. Ultimately, I settled on adding the beads to row 1, stitch 6 of the k8 section; and row 9, stitches 2 and 12 of the k12 section in the edging.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Java Jive

I was all set to write about my second pair of socks knit from a particular pattern when I realized I had never mentioned the first pair. Which is astonishing, because I love that first pair. It was another example of a great yarn/pattern match-up. I made a second pair in a different yarn for myself, and I like them, but not with the passion I have for the first pair.

The pattern is Java, from the Knitty Winter 2011 edition. It looked like a fun pattern to try. All I needed was some not too colorful yarn, so all that lovely texture wouldn't get lost. The 2011 MS&W had netted me some Creatively Dyed - Beaches, I think, but the label is long gone. I put the two together, and voila!

Pattern: Java

Yarn: Creatively Dyed (Beaches?)

Needles: 2.25 mm

This past summer I acquired some sock yarn as a souvenir of my trip to Alaska, and decided the perfect way to show it off was to knit up some Java of my own. They turned out very nice.

Pattern: Java

Yarn: Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts
         100% Superwash BFL

Needles: 2.25 mm

 I have enough left over to knit something else, something lacy and beaded and totally worthless as outdoor wear on this day when it's snowing and blowing and the temperature is plummeting. Something merely decorative.