Thursday, October 19, 2017

Things I love

1. Autumn, and late October in particular. Breathing the finally cool, dry air is like drinking wine.

2. A crisp, neat cast on, the beginning of a new project, off to a nice start.

3. Knitting lace, in all its glorious, pre-blocked, bumpy silliness. The first pattern I tried with this yarn was all wrong. This one is exactly right, and watching the colors change means I can barely stand to put it down.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mistakes, easily noticed, easily fixed

While making the latest Window Cat I got cocky about the pattern and failed to read carefully. As soon as I got ready to stuff the head I noticed that one ear was misshapen. A quick read of my knitting and the pattern, and it was obvious I had just skipped all the knit rounds between the decrease rounds. I picked it out and re-knit it properly.

I finished a pair of anklets last month and said I didn't care that one was an inch shorter than the other, since they were for me. I finished a pair of baby bootees and noticed I had made one two rows shorter in the instep than the other. No one will notice, I said. If there had been anyone around to hear  me, I would have been subjected to the family's Test for Aliens - I was clearly not myself. (And no, I'm not explaining the test - everyone knows aliens monitor the internet.)

Yesterday I sat down and evened out the anklets, and re-knit the short bootee. Symmetry rules.

Anklets: leftover Berroco Sox, my standard anklet pattern

Bootees: leftover Knit Picks Stroll,  Stay-on Booties - frankly the best pattern I know, since the garter stitch construction means they'll fit practically any baby foot out there.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Another Window Cat

A family friend who admired George while he was under construction lives with a cat, so I offered to make a tuxedo-cat homage to said cat. Nope, he said, I'm going to be difficult. I want a calico cat.

Challenge accepted. It turns out there is a person who dyes yarn in cat-colorways, and donates the sales proceeds to cat charities (also dog colorways and dog charities - the Dalmatian is killing me). Perusing her shop made me want to knit All the Cats. Each colorway comes in a variety of weights. I'm still thinking about a Lilac Point Siamese Cat lace shawl.

Yarn: Ancient Arts Fibre Craft's Meow Yarn in Calico Cat DK
Pattern: Sara Elizabeth Kellner's The Window Cat
Mods: I knit the tail flat instead of in a tube, lined it with fiberfill and a chenille stick, and seamed it up, giving the tail a little pose-ability.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lap Blanket

The last of the charity knitting for this go-round. Instructions were for 8x8" squares, yarn was Red Heart SuperSaver mammoth skeins, one in a royal blue that loved the camera, one - slightly smaller - in a soft variegation of greens and purples. Size 8 (5 mm) needles, H crochet hook.

I got nearly-10 squares of the variegated, and easily 10 squares of the blue. I used the blue to add the last inch to the last variegated square and placed that square on the center edge so it would look deliberate - you can just see it on the right edge of the photo below.

With all of the variegated squares finished, I attached the blue squares in strips by starting each one from the side stitches (the garter ridge bumps) of a variegated square. When it came time to bind off a blue square (unless it was an edge), I picked up the side stitches from the next variegated square and did a Kitchener variation of  "(front) as if to knit, as if to purl, (back) as if to knit as if to purl" which resulted in a garter stitch, seamless-looking connection.

I connected the strips by just running the yarn up through the side stitches and cast-on/bound-off stitches alternately. I finished with a row of single crochet with an extra chain at the corners.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

Friday, September 29, 2017


There I was, comfortably ensconced in a large comfy chair, knitting away, when I noticed that my skein of working yarn was losing structure, as happens with store-bought pull-skeins when they're running low. I had the next skein ready - a partial skein* - tucked in beside me, so there was no need to panic. I pulled the rest of the skein out into a spaghetti pile, sure I would get to the end of it before bedtime. I did not, so I pulled what was left through my fingers to find the end and wrap it into a ball for the night.

Incredulity followed, as well as language over Skype that shocked KD. With absolutely no reason to do so, the two ends of the skeins had tangled together into a knot of mammoth proportions. I threatened scissors at one point, which KD was against until she learned I was dealing with acrylic.

I bitterly lamented the absence of those in my life who love to de-tangle knots (every knitter needs one - I have two!). I really wanted to go to bed, but I knew that moving the mass out of my lap would enable it to knot further with great abandon. I do not know why this is so. But I would no more move a yarn tangle than an accident victim.

Finally, calm reason reigned, and tangles were subdued into neat little balls of yarn.

Wool would never behave like that.

*I am knitting scarves out of two full skeins and the remnant of the skein used to knit the hat. And for reasons of symmetry, the partial skein goes in the middle of the scarf.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Charity Knitting

I've done charity knitting off and on throughout the years. I've knit for Dulaan, for The Red Scarf Project, and others I've probably long forgotten about. Like singing in a choir, I enjoy it, but not for the long term. I like a set deadline after which I can move on to other things.

I've learned that I have a fear of getting caught up in some appeal and helping to drown the recipient with unwanted objects. Good research is the key to avoiding that, and communication with the organizers.

I've learned that if you're going to knit for others, the least you can do is abide by their rules, even if that's not how you would do it. Their project, their yarn choices, their patterns. Otherwise, well, see unwanted objects above.
Somehow last month I got caught up in two different charity knitting projects. One has a deadline; one does not. My initial solution to this was to treat them both as having the same deadline, which meant all charity knitting, all the time. It is, at least, mindless knitting. But I missed my other projects, so I decided the one with no deadline could be extended a month. I still find myself mostly knitting garter stitch or ribbing, but at least I feel like I can do something else if I want to.

In a perfect world - the same one where I have a supply of baby blankets knit, blocked, and ready for the next addition to my large family - I suppose I would have charity knitting made and on hand for the next appeal. In that world the rules would stay the same, so that whatever I had made would do.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hand Towels

Mason-Dixon Knitting inspired me with a desire to try knitting with linen, specifically, hand towels. So some of the Yarn Money my co-workers gave me as a retirement gift went towards a cotton-linen blend, and experimental hand towel making.

The yarn was interesting to work with. There were definitely plant bits in the yarn, but other people said they wash out, and they certainly seem to have done so. The washed towels are soft, and pretty. I would have liked them to be a little larger, but they are large enough to dry your hands, and match my kitchen* - what else can you ask of a hand towel?

Yarn: Knit Picks CotLin, DK, 70% cotton, 30% linen/flax
Pattern: Traci Heiner's Basket Weave Hand Towel, striping inspiration from Raveler lizbelonogoff's version

*The purple ones match KD's kitchen, as a thank you for helping me decide on colors and otherwise spend half of my Yarn Money. The other half is tied to a yarn store at which I have never before shopped, and which has completely overwhelmed me with the choices available.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I tried making some slipper socks for some slipper soles I had on hand, but they were a flop - literally. They don't hold to the foot closely enough to be safe to walk in. I haven't figured out a solution yet. Also, I tried two different methods of sewing on the soles and didn't care for either.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Now that was fun

A near-video tutorial - ready? Make 5 squares.

Sew them into an open-topped cube.

Fold. Block. Result: one origami-type coin purse/small box.

Pattern: Frankie Brown's Pinwheel Purse
Yarn: leftover Berocco Sox

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Adventures in Felting

I finally finished a third pair of felted clogs. The knitting was finished long ago, but DH said they were just a tad too big, so in August I took them up to the land of the Truly Efficient Felting washing machine, and promptly underestimated said efficiency. (Not to be confused with a High Efficiency washer, this semi-antique still has the central agitator that makes felting a breeze.) They wound up too small even for me, and have found a happy home with NKD.

Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted in Navy, 4 skeins
Needles: size 13 (9mm) dpns (and thereby hangs a tale - I cannot find these needles, and I obviously need them to replace these clogs for DH)
Pattern: Bev Galaskas' Felted Clogs

In cleaning out old knitting projects, I found yarn that had been rejected for other projects, and of course, spent some time figuring out what it wanted to be. I turned some leftover wool into a felted bowl, just to see what the finished object would look like (and because I had access to the TEF washer). NKD promptly nabbed it for her work desk.

Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted in Gingerbread, half a skein
Needles: size 11 (8mm) dpns
Pattern: Kelly Kingston's Felted Bowls

Monday, September 11, 2017

George and friend

I knit my daughter a cat. We had some discussion about proper eyes.

Then off he went to the Far North. Upon arrival, she named him

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Ombre in Gold, 1 skein
Needles: size 4 (3.5 mm)
Pattern: Sara Elizabeth Kellner's The Window Cat

Later, I made him a little friend, the Tiny Window Cat (needle gauge included for scale):

Thursday, July 27, 2017


When helping to clean out my mom's house, I found a scarf in her cedar chest that she knit from yarn I gave her. Okay, I thought vaguely, I bought her the yarn, she knit it into a scarf, now I'll wear it. Circle of Life. Sure. I wondered why I had never seen her wear it, but didn't give it a lot of thought. The next week, I wore it into work one morning - and tore it off as soon as I got to my desk. I do not know the fiber content of this yarn, I just love the colors, which I dubbed Field of Violets. But I can't wear it touching my skin. So I looked for a pattern while I unraveled the scarf.

The piece had to be large enough not to be worn wrapped around the neck. The pattern could not depend on the beauty of the lace pattern, which would get lost in the yarn's amazing colors. At the same time, not straight garter or stockinette, which would be too boring to make. And finally, I have an aversion to triangle scarves.

That led me to this pattern. Long enough to wear loosely, just a little bit of lace for interest at the edge, which mostly provides edge shaping, still visible in the forest of colors. And what an interesting pattern for the knitter! I knit the first two pattern repeats blind, trusting that it was making what it was supposed to. Heading into the third pattern repeat, I finally understood what was happening.

I suppose here is where I admit that I prefer written lace instructions over charts, but then re-write the instructions into columns that divide up what's happening. I divided this one into four columns that say row, body, border, edging. And it's not "true" lace - the even-numbered rows are rest rows. So at this point I could see that the border pattern was always the same (and paradoxically where I kept making mistakes, forgetting the last yarn-over in my haste to get to the edging.

Finally, frogging the scarf the scarf revealed that the original yarn had been two 50-gram skeins, and this pattern calls for using half your yarn increasing, then half your yarn decreasing. Since my yarn was already divided in half, I was perfectly set up for this.

Yarn: fingering weight, 100 grams
Pattern: Madi Milimani's Cloudy Day
Mods: none whatsoever

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pine trees make your hands dirty

Not pitch this time, and not that pitch ever stopped me from climbing a pine tree, but some less-than-colorfast yarn. I acquired some mercerized cotton fingering weight, in someone else's de-stashing that just cried out to belong to my green-loving sister.

I wound it into a ball and my hands turned green. I started the project on bamboo needles and they turned green. And yet I told myself - even knowing it was cotton, and wise to the ways of cotton and dye - that it was just over-dyed, this was extra color that would wash off in the blocking soak. Wrong. What I should have done, of course, was give it a good vinegar soak. But I didn't realize that until after it was pinned out and blocking, and I was reluctant to re-do all that pinning.

The color loss has given the finished object a kettle-dyed look, which I'm fine with. But I will have to remember to tell my sister not to trust it until it's had a vinegar bath.

Yarn: Araucania Lonco Solid in Jade Green (discontinued)
Pattern: Ysolda Teague's Ishbel
Mods: Despite other knitters who manged to work the entire pattern in one skein of this yarn, I had to drop a couple of rows at the end and do a sewn bind-off. But it's a lovely pattern. I was surprised that cotton blocked so well!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Join, Being Careful...

Experienced knitters know where this is going. Nobody quotes that common knitting instruction unless they have somehow failed to follow it. I was careful. I was SO careful. I checked before I joined, and several times thereafter. But somehow, because of the number of stitches on the needle, I didn't notice until I had an inch of knitting, that I had failed miserably at "Join, Being Careful Not to Twist."

This is mystery yarn that I recently found and wound. The label tells me the yarn company, fiber content, yardage, and weight. But confusingly, the company does not sell any yarn that is that fiber content and weight, and never at that yardage. After some research, I discovered that the yardage was a clue - the company has put up single, high-yardage skeins for various knitting clubs. Since I won this yarn as a door prize at a knitting retreat, it makes sense that it was one of these one-off skeins.

In the meantime, I had picked out a pattern to show off the yarn's beautiful color changes, based on my initial, and totally unsupported, belief that it was DK weight. When I decided it was Sport, I decided I could still use the pattern, just downsizing the needle. It turns out, however, that this yarn is actually fingering weight, and so I had been dithering about continuing.

Now that I have to frog it and start over, I have taken a moment to decide if it would rather be something else. But I think, despite the weight, that this is what it wants to be.

Friday, July 21, 2017


This one doesn't really count as the finishing of an UnFinished Object, since I started and finished it yesterday. I'm pretty sure that "getting the house ready for selling" means knitting up all the little bits of leftover yarn so that they don't get tangled in the move. Right?

Koala Baby Bonnet

Yarn: the last of the Northwoods Mittens leftovers

Pattern: Elyse Heise's Simple Lace Baby Bonnet

This was a delightful pattern, simple as claimed, and taking very little yarn. The alpaca I was using up was worsted, not DK, but it knit up nicely on the needles called for. It's probably more 6-12 months than 3-6 months, size-wise, but there’s no baby I would inflict this warm, soft bonnet on in this 90° heat, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It could be bunnies

Finished item number two, a Baby Bunny. This poor fellow has been languishing for years, waiting for ears, eyes, feet, and stuffing. Leftover yarn from Cindy's Northwood Mittens

Baby Bunny

He clocks in at just under 5" from nose to tail-tip.

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco Duo

Pattern: Sara Elizabeth Kellner's Henry's Bunny

I love toy patterns without a lot of fiddly sewing, and this was pretty near perfect - only the feet had to be attached, everything else happens naturally as you knit. I suspect I will be making more of these.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Retirement = Startitis

KD has challenged me to finish some of the unfinished objects that have begun accruing since I retired. So many are This Close to being finished that I ought to be able to polish off one a day for a while. Today's finished object: comprising leftover cotton worsted from this Summer of Dishcloths, and polyester fiberfill, carefully under-stuffed to enable small fingers to grasp, I give you:

Knit Ball for Infant, 4" in diameter

I have the pattern somewhere... worsted weight cotton in garter stitch with no shaping, just gather the top, and bottom after stuffing. It's been languishing for lack of stuffing for years.