Monday, May 21, 2018

I got nothin'

The only thing growing around here is my rose, which has just produced its first bud of the season.

My magical rosebush, which has survived years of being run over with the lawn mower by children more anxious to get the job done than to look where they were going. My "Double Delight" changes color after it blooms - as the petals soak up the sunlight, they turn from white to dark pink. It is also one of the most fragrant of the hybrid tea roses. So far this year's bud is just that, a bud. But in past years it has given me -

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I volunteered to make a colorful crocheted coat for a little friend of mine. Because the bright colors were a significant part of its charm, I chose to buy the exact yarn - Schachenmayr Catania - that the pattern called for. First obstacle: one of the colors, the light green, is not in production any more! Fortunately, Patons Grace turned out to be the same weight - despite what their respective labels say - and had a great match on the missing color. Although I remain mystified on why light green is considered "Ginger."

According to the pattern, the yoke is the most difficult part, lining up the increases. I just kept double-checking my numbers and plowed through it. And this evening I have finished the first shell row, which magically creates the armholes!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Correctly Askew

Finished my Skew Socks, and I love them! What fun to do something totally outside the box. This was my first time knitting socks on two circulars. I will always prefer my dpns, but there was just no other way to do this pattern. It was fun to make a pattern in exactly the sock and colorway the pattern example was made in. And I bought the yarn at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival nine years ago!

Pattern: Lana Holden's Skew
Yarn: Claudia Handpainted Yarns Fingering, color Oops!
Needles: US 0 (2.00mm) and US 1 (2.25mm)
Mods: Used the Double-Chain Bind-Off

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Blog break

People! All the people! So great to see everyone, but I have forgotten how to talk to more than one person at a time!

Blog posts will resume in mid-May, when things are quiet again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday WIPs

I recently turned up a sweater I had knit for myself but never worn, because it didn't fit. I vaguely remember knowing it didn't fit, but finishing it anyway. Not that I had sewn in the ends. But it was otherwise complete. So I turned it back into balls of yarn, measured the result, and embarked on a pleasant baby blanket - and a later baby sweater - in nice worsted weight cotton. I've got another worsted weight cotton baby sweater nearly complete. I don't know what it is about small fry and heavy cotton. Maybe I think bearing up under it will make them stronger. Anyway.

The first pattern I tried for this yarn, Beth Michon's Knot Stitch Baby Blanket was nice looking, and I had the yardage. But halfway through the first row of knot stitches ("Purl the next 3 stitches together, do not drop them from the needle. Knit the same 3 stitches together, then purl the same 3 stitches together. Drop the stitches from the left needle."), I knew I didn't have it in me to wrestle heavy cotton into knots for even one row.

I am much happier with this, Plymouth Yarn's Seed Blocks Baby Blanket. It will look nicer when it's been washed and blocked, of course. The color is more coral, less fire engine.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Origami moment???

I have been happily knitting along on my Skew socks. The toe is weird as all get out, but I can see how it's supposed to fit a foot, and then continue its diagonal growth.

Then the gusset increases started, and I began to take things on faith, following the instructions step by step and trusting that a heel was going to result.

My faith faltered a bit when I got to the instruction labeled "origami moment." My socks do not usually involve origami.

And yet, here we are!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cat Toy

Over lunch today I took a scrap of leftover yarn and made a toy for a cat friend of mine.

Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, Pueblo colorway
Needles: US 8 (5mm) dpns - the pattern can be done flat, but I detest sewing seams in Homespun
Pattern: Alexis Hamann-Nazaroff's Simple Ball
Mods: I did not have quite enough yarn for the pattern as written, so I stopped at 28 sts, knit 4 rows,  started the decreases, and had exactly enough. I left both ends out to add to the fun of chasing and catching the ball.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Socks on the needles, all is well

Sometime ago I discovered I had bought, by coincidence, the exact yarn used in Knitty's Skew sock pattern, which had long been in my to-do queue.

In the intervening years, I learned how to knit socks on two circs, even though I generally prefer my trusty dpns, and had my amazing sister wind the skeins into balls. This is an art. I literally don't know how she does it.

So now there are new socks on the needles, and no rush to finish them, since spring warm is just around the corner.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday WIPs

One complete hat, one scarf in progress. Cleaning out the acrylic stash, because I don't intend to move it to the Frozen North. This is yarn left over from a mammoth double-knit afghan project that fell into UFO territory decades ago. I'm not sure whatever happened to it. It could still turn up, in which case I've now used some of the yarn I would need to finish it. But if I want a double-knit afghan, I rather think I'd like it in wool.

Yarn: Brunswick Windrush in Snow and Deep Blue Velvet (discontinued)
Needles: US 7 (4.55mm)
Pattern: Yes, It's Garter Stitch hat and scarf from Great Garter Stitch

I really like the hounds-tooth check effect. I have three more skeins of this. I'm thinking baby blanket.

I was all set to post this last week when I really looked at the photo and realized the pattern in the hat had gone astray. Fixed now, as you can see from the above photo. See the problem below? The error's in the 4th row of white down from the top, on the left. It was a quick fix.

Monday, April 9, 2018

At last

It felt as though these socks took forever. In fact, it was just under a year. But given that I usually finish a pair of socks in a couple of weeks, it did take a long time. I'm not sure why. I bought the yarn at last year's Sheep & Wool Festival. I asked the vendor if she thought it would wear well for socks. She didn't know, and I promised to let her know. Not that I'm going to get much wear out of them between now and this year's festival.

It's totally not the project's fault that I broke one of my dpns over Easter, while carting this project around. I dropped a book in my bag without regard to tiny dpns. Repairs were attempted, but a chunk had gone missing, and the strength just wasn't there without it. Still, I had a spare (yay, Knitpicks sets, 6 dpns per size!).

I think the real delay was that a month after I cast them on, I retired from work, and all those meetings where I churned out socks. One can work on much more complicated things in retirement.

Yarn: Yankee Dyer Yarns' fingering weight Yankee Breeze in Cantaloupe, 50/50 merino/cotton
Needles: US 1 1/2 (2.5mm) 
Pattern: Wendy Knits' Double Eyelet Rib Toe-up Socks , one of my favorites.

I only used 2/3 of the skein. I might buy more at the festival this year in other colors and try this pretty sweater. But meanwhile - I have no socks on the needles!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


I'm knitting up the small amounts of acrylic in my stash, because I don't want to move them to the Frozen North. I got rid of a some of it via Goodwill, in memory of the years when most of my stash was from yarn leftovers donated to thrift stores, but I kept a couple of skeins that sparked my interest.

This long-discontinued yarn is the oddest color. I'm convinced it's from the era when kitchen colors were Harvest Gold, Avocado, and Almond. However, my brother-in-law tells me that it's the colors of lentils (except the black ones), so I'm going with that. If you should have such a skein, know that is sufficient to make a nice keyhole scarf and a pair of fingerless mitts:

Yarn: American Thread Company Dawn Wintuk Sport in "Citrus Spice"
Needles: US 4 (3.5mm)
Patterns: Martha Stewart's Knitted Neck Scarf and Megan Nordyke's Kenny's Flat-Knit Fingerless Gloves

Nothing to say about the mitts pattern - simple, easy, elegant. The keyhole scarf pattern had some elegant details - the edge is very neatly done - but the pattern on the website is a scream. Practically every line of the pattern tells you to "see instructions" for how to do what it asks - increases, decreases, dividing and recombining a row of stitches for the keyhole. But "see instructions" is not a link, nor is there anything on the page labelled instructions. I didn't need them - I've made keyhole scarves before - but I thought it was odd. It was a long time before I realized that the wordless, unlabelled illustrations at the top of the pattern were the "instructions."

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sister Cowls

I bought some pretty yarn to make an item in my queue. The color turned out to be not what I expected, but it was still pretty. Even better, it turned out to be exactly enough to make two of the items. So one is off by snail mail to my sister, who admired the first one when it was under construction.

I have no explanation whatsoever for why it started to pool into stripes a quarter of the way through the skein. I don't mind them.

Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn's Rios in Arco Iris
Needles: US 10 (6mm)
Pattern: Kristen Kapur's Chickadee Cowl

The range of colors labeled Arco Iris on Ravelry convinces me that this yarn could turn out to be any color at all when you order it. Nevertheless, I would work with it again. It had a lovely squishy feel to it, and was pleasant to work with.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Happy feet

Re-purposed yarn in one of my favorite sock patterns, and it's still cold enough to wear them!

Yarn: Patons Kroy Sock FX in Copper
Needles: US 1 (2.25mm)
Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks

Meanwhile, the little dress I cast on that day has grown some:

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Phoenix Rises Again

When I visited Maine last autumn, I bought my first-ever gradient pack at the lovely Blue Hill Yarn Shop. Then I got home and poured over Ravelry to see what I might do with it. Another knitter had used the exact same yarn and colorway to knit a beautiful shawl, and I settled on that. It was only after I tracked down the pattern that I realized it was another of Kino Knits' amazing designs.

Fast forward to late winter, when I was packing my bag for a road trip, and decided to start the shawl. I read through the directions, and wound the gradient skeins into balls, weighing and dividing them into labeled ziplock bags with a hole cut in one corner. That way I wouldn't have to be comparing gradient colors on the road, and the bags would keep the colors from getting tangled in the larger project bag.

Once on the road, I discovered what a terrific road knit this was. Each color had a texture pattern consisting of only a couple of rows that I had memorized within a mile. Since we stop every two hours to stretch and switch drivers, I never got tired of it.

The only hiccup was just before we started back, when an over-excited partial bottle of ginger ale, that I had dropped into my project bag when clearing the hotel room, fizzed all over the yarn. Fortunately this happened at breakfast, and the waitress cheerfully brought more napkins to mop everything up. And once I got home, the pre-blocking soak removed any last traces.

Yarn: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn's Reversing Falls Gradient Pack in Dahlia
Needles: US 6 (4mm)
Pattern: Kino Knits' Greener on My Side

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday WIPs

Two quick projects done except for buttons. I get mad every time I go out looking for buttons. The selection is terrible. I need to stick to a good internet button source. As soon as I find one.

Baby sweaters, made of remnants I found cleaning out a closet.

Up first,

Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun in colorway Modern
Needles: US 10 (6mm)
Pattern: Lion Brand's Baby Bear Hooded Jacket
Mods: turned the pattern upside down to knit it from the collar down, knit the sleeves in the round, knit the body in one piece after the sleeve divide, picked up the collar stitches and knit the hood, finishing with a 3-needle bind-off. I will go WAY out of my way to avoid sewing seams on Homespun.
I learned: that if you have the weight of a full skein in small remnant balls, you really can knit something that calls for a single skein. You just have to be willing to tuck in a lot of ends.
I knit a 2-inch 2-stitch I-cord that I will machine stitch to one side, just as soon as I find the 1-inch blue button I've seen around here somewhere.

Up next,

Yarn: Red Heart Baby Fingering in Pink (discontinued), 35 g of a 50 g skein
Needles: US 4 (3.5mm), US 6 (4mm)
Pattern: bébé tricote's mon petit bébé
Mods: none. I had fun translating the pattern from French. 
I learned: a brand-new cast-on and bind-off! Also that pressing wet acrylic in the folds of a towel with a heavy object totally works on edge curl - no heat involved.
I may or may not have 3 pink buttons around the right size. Oh, and I had enough pink yet (and plenty of white, stay tuned) for matching baby bootees in my go-to bootee pattern (which is getting old on the Internet Archive, so I have squirreled away my own copy of it).

I wanted a soft cast-on against the baby's neck, since I was starting with ancient acrylic. I discovered the Chinese Waitress Cast-on, and after trying the instructions found on 3 different websites, this one clicked for me: Chinese waitress cast-on. Then it turns out someone went to the trouble to work out the matching bind-off. Really truly matching, you can't tell them apart unless I tell you. Completely reversible (I turned the cast-on on the needle so you can see both sides), stretchy, and pretty as all get out. They're my new favorites, can you tell? Also a complete brain work out, there's no denying. Each stitch of the cast-on is three distinct steps, and I count them every time.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Insurmountable obstacles

I was asked if I could knit a cabled headband in certain colors. I was sure I could. I found a yarn that had all the colors I wanted (and some I didn't - that's what scissors are for.)

I wound colors onto bobbins and started cabling. And re-started. And re-started. This is why you don't see patterns with different colors braided together. Because of the way the yarn is twisted where the colors change, it inevitably becomes... less than pretty. Fine. I made 6-stitch I-cords.

Then I braided them. When it was long enough, I sewed the open ends over the closed beginnings of each I-cord. I planned to bury the joins in the braid, but it made a surprisingly invisible join.

Then I took the last color, picked up the edge of the braid, and worked a few rows of ribbing. Disaster. The ribbing did not stretch as much as the braid.

I messed around with the yarn and the braid, then suddenly thought of crochet. Voilà. A row of single crochet, just as stretchy as the braid, and bonus points, totally reversible.

So why is this project ultimately insurmountable? Because today I went to deliver it to the recipient, only to find they have left with no forwarding information. Before you ask, I tried my ninja investigative skills, and all I learned is that what I thought was an uncommon first name is really common in this area. Anybody want a headband?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Delightfully Different and Unexpected

No red-purple to see here! Instead, autumnal colors. This is the most soothing knit. The pattern is instantly memorized (Linen stitch: knit one stitch, slip one stitch purlwise with yarn in front). Nearly every stitch is a different color, and I can watch them go by under my fingers and think of nothing at all beyond, "I'm making something really pretty."

Monday, March 12, 2018

Wisconsin Warmth

I knit a tube.

Yarn: 1/2 skein Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford grey
Needles: size 8 (5.00 mm) 16"-circular
Pattern: Melissa Mall's Tubular, in medium ("child")

Then I knit a hat.

Yarn: the other 1/2-skein of grey Wool-Ease
Needles: size 8 (5.00 mm) dpns and 16"-circular
Pattern: made it up to match the tube. Mason-Dixon Knitting provided the Pinhole cast-on instruction - and some day, I'm going to make that mouse. I cast on 8 sts and increased 8 sts every other row until I had 80 sts. Then as I switched to the circular from the dpns, I dropped every 4th stitch down to just after it was created and used a crochet hook to bring it up in pattern (purl-knit). I knit in the same pattern as the tube until I ran out of yarn, then frogged 7 rows, did four rows of k1xp1 ribbing and Jeny's bind off (which takes 2 rows' worth of yarn). I'm not sure why 6 rows wasn't enough, but trust me, it wasn't.

Worn together, they are really warm. Hopefully warm enough for a Wisconsin winter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


I bought some new yarn, using the last of my retirement gift money. With all of WEBS to choose from, I narrowed it down by looking at patterns languishing in my Ravelry queue for lack of yarn.

I'm going to make Hitofude out of this yarn -

madelinetosh's Tosh Merino Light in Spectrum.

And I'm going to make a Chickadee Cowl like the one here - same yarn and everything, Malabrigo's Rios in Arco Iris. Except that my colorway doesn't look anything like hers. There's just no way I would describe that as red-purple. So either magic is going to happen when I knit it up, or something delightfully different and unexpected will occur.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Roman Stripes

I had chosen yarn for a test knit when I realized that it had been partially used. Yarn stretches a little when used, and I worried this would screw up the important yardage-usage part of the test knit. So I pulled a skein of yarn out of my stash that had never been used. And the Prince of Serendip smiled on me.

An innocuous ball of Trekking XXL knit up into the prettiest shawl, with subtle Roman stripes. It's a keeper.

Yarn: one 100-gram skein of Zitron Trekking XXL in 91 Rose (not a colorway they still offer, it seems)
Pattern: Kinoknits' Anna Karenina
Mods: I knit a central pattern motif to maximize my yarn usage - I had 3 grams left at the end.

The shawl is knit side to side with the edging happening as you go. It was a quick knit - I made it in a week. It takes me longer than that to knit a pair of socks (which, to be fair, I was doing at the same time).

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday WIP

In Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook, she makes the point that if you have a favorite recipe, but you get lazy about making it over time, substituting this and that, pretty soon you find yourself wondering why you ever liked it. My sister and I discussed this years ago when we noticed that a popular recipe exchange site was full of comments that changed everything. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might have the comment: "Loved this! Swapped a fried egg for the peanut butter and cheese for the jelly, and oh, I didn't have any sandwich bread so I used an English muffin. Will make again!" I'm sure your breakfast sandwich was delicious, but what does that have to do with a recipe for pb&j?

That said, I still managed to do the same thing. I saw a delightful little girl's dress at a knitting shop, bought the yarn and pattern, started in quite happily, and then had the not-quite-scathingly brilliant idea to pick out the flowers by purling them whenever the pink came along in the yarn.

Not at all the look I was going for. Purling is more complex than I give it credit for. I did learn that yarn travels away from me as I knit. That is, if a stitch was half pink on the far side of the stitch, it would become all white when purled. If it was half pink on the side of the stitch closer to me, it would become all pink when purled. Academically interesting, and no doubt related to the improved way I just learned to execute an SSK, but of no help to the dress. Back to the recipe as written:

Ah, much better.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday WIP: Recycling

I knit these socks four years ago, and I just recently noticed how little I wear them. There's just something about the fit. They're always the last out of the drawer, worn when I have no other choice. BUT, they are knit from Patons Kroy Socks FX, my favorite yarn to knit Hermione's Everyday Socks from, and I have been looking for other colors to add to my Hermione collection.

So, a no-brainer, right? Unravel socks that have been worn and washed for four years, and re-knit them. Surprisingly - and perhaps because I DID wear them so little - they unraveled with no problems, and re-knit with yarn to spare (it looks like the Nutkins were a little longer in the leg).

I'm halfway there! Meanwhile, there's nothing prettier than crocus poking through the dirt, or a new project cast-on:

That's Twisted German/Old Norwegian cast-on (which I had to re-teach myself), because I wanted more stability at the base of the skirt than my usual cast-on (Jeny's) gives me.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Warm Wool Socks

Of course, it's going to be in the mid-70s locally this week, now that I have finished my friend's wool socks. But we can depend on winter to return. And, assuming that he likes them (which he won't, if he wears them when it's in the 70s!), I now have the numbers to make him socks-that-fit as often as he likes.

Pattern: mine, toe-up, with several fittings along the way to ensure a good fit (toe width, foot length, heel, leg height)
Yarn: Regia Allround Color (discontinued), taking some care to start both socks at the same point in the color changes so that they would match

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday WIP

I bought a gradient mini-skein set on my trip to Maine last fall. After entering it into my Ravelry stash, I looked to see what other people had done with it, since this was my first gradient mini-skein purchase. Someone else had used the exact same set to make a shawl that I had been admiring for some time, and which was designed by a friend of mine!

This turned out to be excellent road-trip knitting. Before we left, I prepared the yarn (weighing and measuring) and popped it into labeled ziplock bags with a corner cut off for the yarn to feed through. Each pattern segment was easily memorized and worked until the next stop, when I could learn the next segment. Aside from a tragic incident with a bottle of ginger ale in sub-zero weather, which will make washing it before blocking more than usually necessary, it is going really well.

It's very near the end, but I am doing some test-knitting with a deadline, so that comes first (and is going fast). Then I will finish this. Then I will decide which to keep and which to give to NKD, since they are very similar colorways.