Thursday, December 20, 2018

Last Minute Knits

I really thought I wasn’t knitting any Christmas gifts this year. Ha!

Thank goodness for bulky weight yarns.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Worth the Effort

Finished up my one-skein shawl and wanted the right bind-off. It needed to stretch along the lace edge - so not the traditional standard bind-off, but not so much that it ruffled - so not Jeny’s, and I didn’t want a visible line - so not the double chain bind-off. I was pretty sure I wanted E-Z’s sewn bind-off, but who’s got the patience to pull yarn twice through a couple hundred stitches?

Turns out I do.

Monday, December 10, 2018


I read a thought-provoking post today about one designer’s efforts to not list needle size recommendations on her patterns. Her point?
Needle size is immaterial. Gauge is all that matters.
I rarely make a gauge swatch. Then again, I rarely make anything fitted. When I do, I’m more apt to adjust the number of stitches than the needle size.

For instance, I knit socks with light fingering weight yarn on US 0 (2 mm) needles. Smaller stitches mean less friction, less wear on the fabric. If the sock is too small, I’m not going to switch to a larger needle, I’m going to add stitches to the pattern.

Hats? Mittens? I go with the recommended needle size and adjust the number of stitches if things aren’t working out. I guess that makes the object itself the gauge swatch.

When I make the infrequent sweater, I will often let the sleeves be my gauge swatch. Which is why a certain sweater has never made it beyond the sleeve stage. And I certainly try to find the needle size that will give me gauge rather than re-work all the sweater math!

I understand her insistence on gauge swatches. It would never occur to me to blame the designer if things didn’t work out and I hadn’t swatched. I like the idea of a pattern that calls for a “gauge-sized needle.” But I’m not that far removed from a knitter who needs at least a starting place for a gauge swatch. These days, I could make a pretty good guess. But as a beginning knitter? Don’t make me guess from 0-17 (2-12 mm)! The ball band usually has a starting place suggestion, but we don’t always have a ball band any more, do we? We trade yarn, we are gifted with handspun, and things just... get lost.

I think it might be a while before pattern publishers let her designs go without a suggested needle size as a gauge starting point. But it has got me thinking about measuring my gauge after the fact and including the info on Ravelry, in the neatly provided space for it. Recording what needle size I used only helps me, not anyone else who comes along and wants to mimic what I did.

After all this blathering, I feel compelled to provide a picture of knitting, so here you go.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How about this?

Making progress...

I'd be further along if someone (ahem) would send me the measurements I asked for...

Monday, December 3, 2018

Does this count?

Does this count as a work in progress?

(Life has gotten busy, posting will be sporadic until after the holidays.)

Monday, November 26, 2018

My Turn

I made KD a braided cowl two years ago,

and immediately cast on for one of my own. Life intervened, and I just came across it, half-finished, last week. Since this really is a quick knit, I finished it up, and now I have one of my own.

Needles: US 8 (5 mm) - not the US 10 specified in the pattern
Yarn: Caron's Simply Soft Solids in Chocolate, Autumn Red, Dark Sage, and Cobalt Blue Pagoda

Pattern: Braid It Bright
Mods: I got lazy and did a 3-neele bind-off instead of some neat flat weaving. I will probably regret it, but my neck was cold.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Color Block Slippers

"Mom, my feet are cold! I really wish I had some slippers."

I dug around in the stash for thick wool and came up with the leftovers from a knitting retreat project from four years ago. I weighed it (in the bag), then I dug around in Ravelry for a simple slipper pattern that didn't call for too much yarn. Because of the patterning I chose to do on the original project, I had different amounts of each color, but I wasn't worried about it. I figured I'd divide each color in half and just knit until I ran out of a color and start the next one. They might look odd, but the object was warmth, after all.

It was also an opportunity for KD to teach me the cast on she is obsessed with, so now I can add the Tubular Cast On to my bag of tricks. An inch into the cuff I realized that the size I wanted was half-way between the Child and Woman sizes, so I started over again, which gave me the chance to really cement the new cast on in my mind.

When the scale told me I had used half of the purple, I started from the other end of the yarn and knit a second cuff. I was surprised to discover that I had exactly enough purple for two cuffs. KD chose the color sequence for the rest of the slipper, and I started in on the green. I hadn't read ahead in the pattern, and as soon as I started the next step, I realized that these slippers were not going to be oddly-striped, overgrown socks. When I ran out of green at exactly the end of the next step, I realized that somehow, out of a random selection of yarn, pattern, sizing, and possibly planetary alignment, I had perfectly matching color block slippers.

I used up every bit of the yarn, 78 grams. They also fit perfectly. (I said, "Show me the bottom!" and she turned her foot over, resulting in a photo that looks like her leg is on backwards.)

Monday, November 19, 2018


After finishing what eventually became KD's Color Affection, and measuring the amount of yarn I had left, I decided to make a tricolor shawl.

Yarn: madelainetosh Tosh Merino Light, in leftovers of Forestry (122 yds), Vermilion (210 yds), and Baltic (92 yds)
Pattern: Cristiana Brenna's 100 Grammi
Mods: I cast on 15 sts blue - 30 sts red - 15 sts green. I worked the pattern backwards, as many people have, working all rows as P1, *yo, k2tog*, p1 instead of k1, *yo, p2tog*, k1. I bound off when I ran out of blue.

 You can have correct focus or correct colors, but evidently not both.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

1955 Ear Cover

My younger sister asked if I could find a knitting pattern for the kind of hat she wore as a child. I found the pattern our mom used in this booklet

 but it was a pattern for a child, so here’s an updated, slightly enlarged version.

Acquire a skein of yarn. One skein of any weight will usually make one hat. Sport, DK, Worsted, Bulky, whatever you've got that you're willing to put on your head.
I used Knit Picks Stroll fingering weight  because I wanted to make it double-thick,  in color Cocoa, because what could be warmer?
Acquire knitting needles in the mid-range of what the yarn label recommends.
I used a US 2 because the yarn label recommended sizes 1-3.
You can use straight needles, but circulars or dpns will be useful for some parts.
I used dpns and a pair of circulars.
The hat starts and ends with Icord. This is the main place where dpns are your friend.
Cast on 3 sts, using any method you like.
K 3 sts, slide to the other end of the needle (or slip back onto the 1st straight needle), and K the 3 sts again. Keep doing that until you have 13” of Icord.
It took me 100 rows.
Increase by knitting into the front and back (KFB) of each st. (Total: 6 sts)
At this point I slid every other st onto another needle and knit in rds, and started the next rd by bringing the yarn between the two needles, as if doing one more rd of Icord.
K one row.
KFB, k to last st, KFB.
I did a set of increases on each of the two needles.
Repeat those two rows until hat is 4” across.
For me that was 29 sts.

Continue on those sts in stockinette until center section is 12” long. To keep the ends from curling, work the first and last 3 sts of each row in garter stitch (knit every row) or seed stitch (p1, k1, p1 on Right Side, K1, p1, k1 on Wrong Side).
It took me 128 rows, more or less. If you're making it double thickness you don't have to worry about the sides curling.

SSK, knit to last 2 sts, K2TOG.
K one row.
Repeat those two rows until 6 sts remain. 
Again, I worked the decreases on each of my two needles.
SSK 3 times.
I knit a st from the front needle together with a st from the back needle so that I was back on one needle.

Make another 13” of Icord.
Bind off, any way you like.
Run the ends carefully up inside the Icord for a few inches to hide, and snip off the extra.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I Have My Doubts

I just got around to finishing a pair of baby bootees. I was using up scrap yarn and had already made a pair of my never-fail bootees, so I thought I'd try something new. Buttons were required, which - of course - set my finishing back by years.

I had originally picked these buttons out of my stash, but could not get my head around putting something so round on a baby. They just beg to be swallowed, don't they?

So I settled on these, which are also tiny, but somehow less threatening.

And now they are finally done. I just don't think any baby's foot I've ever encountered wouldn't slide right out of them.

KD, would your friend with an imminently-arriving daughter be willing to test them out? I'll throw in the never-fail bootees to sweeten the pot.

Needles: US 1.5 (2.5mm)
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Fingering Weight (75% cotton, 25% acrylic) in Lilac Mist
Pattern: Saartje's Bootees

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Snip, snip

Oh, look, another unfinished object found languishing in the dark.

Probably needs the sleeves sewn in? Nope...

Then it probably needs buttons, right? Nope...

Then what? Oh. Really?

Excuse me. I have some ends to weave in.


Needles: US7 or US8, I'm quite sure.

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Light Sage and Dark Sage

Pattern: lost in the mists of time. I can't even find anything close in Ravelry. I've probably got it in print... somewhere. When I discovered how much fun garter stripes were, I made a slew of baby sweaters for people. This one's recipient moved on before it could be delivered. The perils of a peripatetic life, i.e., the military.

Monday, November 5, 2018

More of the Same

Last week's blog absence was brought to you by a particularly hard-to-shake cold. But now that the weather has turned all grim, chilly and rainy, I feel much better! I even sang my song this morning.

There's lots on the needles, but not much new. I actually finished an item, but need to block it for its photo shoot. The beautiful autumn shawl edging is creeping along towards the half-way point. And I cast on something that's turning out even lovelier than expected, but isn't far enough along for a photo yet.

So you get more of these socks, which I am loving so much! It makes me unreasonably happy that the heel hit at my favorite color. Hard to see in the photo, it's the dark coral that follows turquoise in the color progression.

And yes, all you smart-Alecs, I will be careful and not walk on the needles while trying them on.

The extra white stripe at the top of the heel flap is not an artifact of the knitting but a glitch in the dying, which made it an excellent place to start the heel. But it's very unlikely I'll hit an identical glitch at the same point in the second sock. If I do, there will be dancing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Easier the Second Time Around

Many, many years ago, I saw a mini-shawl in a yarn store that I just loved. The store was happy to sell me the yarn and tell me which pattern was used. That's why the sample is in the store, after all.

What they didn't tell me, was how the pattern was actually constructed.

Basically, and ignoring the increases, you work in stockinette until the color of the yarn starts to change, work a three-row eyelet transition pattern, then work in reverse stockinette until the next color change. This is not the sort of thing I am comfortable with. I enjoy following a pattern. I enjoy completely winging it. I had a terrible time trying to combine the two, and secod-guessing myself about where the color change actually began.

Recently I came across the unfinished object - although I have yet to locate the second skein of yarn - and decided to try again. What's working for me this time is to work entirely through the color transition, in either stockinette or the reverse, pick the spot for the three-row transition, and tink back to there. This gets more annoying as the number of stitches increases, of course, but I am also getting better at reading the color changes, and have not had to reposition the last two change at all.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Order Out of Chaos


Desert Vista Dyeworks Viso in Dia de los Muertos 


Grumperina's Jaywalker

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In Praise of (Occasional) Intricacy

I will nearly always pick a pattern that is simple in terms of finishing. No seams. No fastenings. One piece rules. Two is nearly as good.

But sometimes,  a beautiful pattern  enchants me, and before I know it, I am setting in sleeves, and making my own buttons, and generally obsessing over each tiny finishing detail. Which may explain why this little sweater has taken me two years to finish.


Yarn: Berocco Vintage DK in Beige
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 6 (4.00 mm)
Pattern: Jessica X. Wright-Lichte's Princess Child's Smocked Cardigan
Mods: I made Tulip Buttonholes, and made my own buttons!

The yarn is one of my all time favorites to work with. Berocco Vintage is soft and drapey and comes in gorgeous colors. It was a joy to work with, and paired wonderfully with this pattern.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Baby Steps

A shattering headache days ago has brought most knitting to a screeching halt. Today I felt well enough to turn some leftover sock yarn into more hexipuffs for my eventual Beekeeper's Quilt:

But that's all I feel like doing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Just in Time for Winter

I knit a new set of felted clogs for DH, and finally made a pair for myself as well. Because mine run smaller, that meant I had enough yarn leftover to make myself a pair of felted mittens!

It always feels like I've made clown shoes (and clown mittens!).

My HE machine did its best, but everything was still about an inch bigger than I wanted.

A visit last month to the washing machine of Truly Efficient Felting finished everything nicely. And THIS TIME, I've sent for soles in the hope that DH won't go through them quite so fast.

Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted in  Plum Heather, 0.86 of a skein
Needles: US 10 (6.00 mm)
Pattern: Linda Burt's Stockbridge Felted Mittens

Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted in Plum Heather (2.52 skeins) and Mercury (4 skeins)
Needles: US 13 (9 mm)
Pattern: Bev Galeskas Felted Clogs

Monday, October 8, 2018

Circle Socks

The first sock went so fast I thought I'd have these done in no time, but I kept making dumb mistakes on the second sock. I would be heartily sick of them by now if I wasn't so pleased at getting the stripes to match.
Yarn: Knit One, Crochet Too's Ty-Dy Socks (a gift from Kansas-sister some time ago!)
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm)
Pattern: Anne Campbell's Circle Socks
Mods: I continued the circle pattern on the top of the foot until I had "finished" the gusset decreases, getting down to the original 64 sts, then continued the gusset decreases until I had a 56 sts foot, which fits me better. They look a little odd by themselves, but fit perfectly!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

All right, Wise Crowds

A simple baby sweater made from the leftovers of this guy. What color buttons?

I'm leaning towards the purple, but willing to listen to the opposition.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Custom made

My latest household purchase resulted in washcloths that are a nice size for showering, but ridiculous for washing my face. They are just too big. But I have a skein of cotton dishcloth yarn (thanks, J!) and some tv to watch, so...

I started with this pattern, but cut down on the stitches after the first try resulted in a washcloth that was going to be as big as the purchased ones; 32 stitches turned out to be exactly right. But the thing I love best - aside from the fact that I'm going to get 3 face cloths out of this partial skein of cotton - is the edge construction. Starting with the Chinese Waitress cast on, ending with the matching Double-Chain cast off, and slipping the first stitch of every row, has made the prettiest edges I could ever hope for. See?

I am completely baffled by color photography. My usual trick of taking photos in direct sunlight did not work at all. But by angling the camera so that it caught some of the outside light, I was able to capture the correct color. I should take a class or something.