Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sherbet Baby Blanket

While Janelle was here, we went to Hill Country Weavers. I'd been wanting to make a baby blanket for some friends who are expecting in February. The pattern I picked out called for some pastel-ish blue, green and yellow yarn, but we decided that these bright sherbet-y colors would be cooler. As Janelle said, "Why knit a baby blanket for a girl when you can knit one for a girrrl?" Amen.

The pattern also uses an acrylic/wool blend. I've saddled a few parents with lovely wool blankets that are of dubious usability. Who wants to go to all the trouble of hand washing something every time it gets spit up, pooped, or peed on? So this time I'm going for practicability. The pattern called for each square to be 6". But I didn't want to buy new needles, so mine are 8" square. It doesn't exactly look that way in the picture since some of them curl a bit on the edges.

The blanket calls for 30 squares knit in 6 patterns arranged in a 5x6 grid with an added border. Three of the patterns are knit 6 times and three are knit 4 times. The finished project should be something like 42" by 50". That's a lot of knitting, but each of the patterns is pretty easy, and I'm hoping I can get a lot done before I have to head back to work.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid®

Seriously. Have you ever really looked at that stuff? Use it for something way more useful -- like dyeing sock yarn!

Janelle and I had planned to do this when we were up visiting this summer, but never
got around to it. As a Christmas gift, she brought me some Kool-Aid®, some undyed sock yarn from Knitpicks, and accoutrements for the whole process. What a treat! We did all this yesterday. That's Janelle's finished hank on the left, and mine on the right. Let's just say that, in many ways, I'm more tightly wound than Janelle.

I decided to do mine as a self-striping yarn, while Janelle went for the hand-painted look. The process is pretty simple. Soak yarn in warm water, mix Kool-Aid® in a container, put yarn in containers, heat for a while, remove, dry. Okay -- that's pretty simplistic. I won't go into details -- there are plenty of sites that do that. Your results may vary.

You can do it either on the stovetop, as I did, or you can opt for the yarn casserole, which Janelle used. She used a baster to dribble the dye on her yarn in interesting patterns. It was amazing to see that after half an hour of baking, all the dye had been soaked up by the yarn. From experience, we can recommend wearing gloves while doing this.

Then it's all over but the drying and the winding. We left the yarn draped over lawn chairs in the backyard. Mine dried by that evening, since it was spread out into a thinner round. Janelle's, still in the original hank, took overnight to dry.

Oh -- and the final step -- naming your new "colorway." Thinking that I will probably only ever wear socks made from this yarn on the 4th of July, and fondly remembering the ice cream truck that used to drive by my grandma's house in San Antonio when I was a kid, I name this yarn...


If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to this image from the manufacturer.

Thanks, Janelle. I had a lot of fun doing this. I'll post when I dye my second hank, and when I knit something from this.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Gifts

My family loves their knitter. I think I got some really strong hints as to what people might expect for Christmas next year! The following link to entries at LibraryThing.

All this and a gift certificate to KnitPicks. I must have been good this year.

Thanks, everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cedar Fever

The title of this post? It's an Austin thing -- and I'm getting it in more ways than one.

This is a sock I started yesterday. It's more Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, this time in the colorway Cedar -- a birthday gift from my friends Sharon & Janelle. They're going to be in town in a few days, and I wanted to get started with this. I'm using the slipped stitch rib from the six-stitch pattern chapter in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. I really like this ribbing -- very tight. I've never been completely happy with how my hand-knit socks stay up. I think these will.

Keep an eye on upcoming posts. They'll be to dye for.

Friday, December 22, 2006


"She's nice to see and she's soft to touch." Okay -- enough with the musical theater references.

I knitted this because a) I had the extra yarn from the first cozy and b) I wanted Janelle to experience the cutting of the steeks. Some people get their thrills from the running of the bulls. Knitters get theirs from the cutting of the steeks.

If Charlie Brown had a tea cozy, it would look like this.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

La Cozy Nostra

A most pleasant combination – a drizzly day, apple scones from Central Market, clotted cream*, Grandma Self's china from Germany, and the world's coziest pot of Lady Grey tea. Yum.

*And the subsequent clotted arteries.


That was fast! It's amazing how much knitting you can get done when you don't have to do things like go to work.

So I got the knitting done last night and got cracking on crocheting and cutting the steeks today. Sorry Janelle -- I couldn't wait! But, I do have enough yarn to knit another one. Maybe I could have it done by the time you get here?

I did a checkerboard steek rather than straight vertical lines. I thought it would be easier to keep my place while crocheting, and I think it worked. I used Eunny Jang's excellent instructions on how to make a crocheted steek.

After cutting, a few little strands are floating around from the edge stitches. I don't feel like I got that part quite right. I also think that I might have made one of the steeks too long. I wove the ends from the crochet yarn in, hoping that would be enough for pinning everything down. I'm still not sure. I know that steeks are really designed as a place where stitches are picked up. I don't think they're supposed to just flap there.

The cozy is blocking over the teapot right now. We'll see how it looks after that. I'll post a picture (maybe later today?) to show progress. Mmm. Tea. I think I need to run over to Central Market and get some of their apple scones!

Monday, December 18, 2006


My inner old lady won out.

I have no idea if this is going to work. I'm going to use the "Two for Tea" pattern on page 251 of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'N' Bitch Nation. It calls for knitting two pieces flat and sewing them together. But I wanted to practice fair isle a little, so I'm knitting this one in the round. But how to knit this in the round and still carry the pattern across the necessary holes for the handle and spout? Steeks.

I'm in way over my head on this one. But I'm intrigued by steeks, and why not cut my teeth (and yarn!) on something small like this rather than wait until I'm working on some fancy-ass sweater?

Clicking on the picture will take you to the Flickr site where you can find details about the materials being used. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baltic Sea Socks Done!

I finished the Baltic Sea Socks that I've been knitting off and on for the last few months. Hooray! I finished them while my nephew and niece were over helping us celebrate Jeff's birthday today.

They both helped a little with the Elizabeth Zimmerman stretchy bind-off, and showed interested in how this whole knitting thing works. My sister even said she wanted me to show her how to knit so that she could make herself scarves. Soon my plans for world knitting domination will be complete. Mwa-ha-ha!

I'm not sure what to tackle next. I've got some lovely Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "Cedar" that my friends Sharon & Janelle gave me for my birthday. I also have some Opal zebra-stripe yarn that I want to use to make my niece some socks -- dang, I forgot to measure her feet while she was here. My inner little old lady is interested in exploring the world of tea cozies. And I have my eye on a couple of patterns for sweaters for myself. Top priority will have to be a few Christmas gifts that I've yet to finish up. I'll post about them once they've been given.

In other news, it seems that a month after setting up my Flickr account, my pictures are now actually searchable. My account was in some weird status -- apparently they thought I was trying to use my account to sell stuff. What? All seems well now.

Is there a corollary to the "if you water the lawn it will rain" law? Something along the lines of "if you knit stuff in wool it will get hot outside?" It's in the 80s today. Yuck.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mini Mittens

I totally stole this idea from my friend Janelle. I had some leftover sock yarn from the first Baltic Sea Sock, and just started noodling around with it.

Otherwise, I haven't done much knitting this week. The chorus we sing in has a big concert this weekend, so most of our evenings have been taken up with extra rehearsals.

I found the pattern online here . Instead of size 4 DPNs, I used size 1 circulars, since they were available -- and I wanted these to be tiny.

I finished this pair on Tuesday, but haven't been home during daylight hours in order to take a non-flash picture until today. For scale, one of these just fits over my index finger. Just think of the number of mini mittens I could have for the tree next year if I just made a pair of these after every pair of socks I knit...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bride of Baltic Sea Sock

I cast on for the second sock yesterday. I found myself getting a little glum having finished the sweater -- post-project blues, I suppose! So I got right to this. I did the bulk of the work on the first sock while the in-laws were here during Thanksgiving.

The finished sock looks a little "thick" to me. Probably got stretched out when I tried it on.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Irish Moss Finished!

At long last, after three months and a few days, it's finished! And just in time for the chilly weather. I finished the collar last night and wove in all the ends this morning. My goal was to get this done for Jeff by his birthday and I got it done two weeks early!

Most importantly, Jeff likes it. I was worried he would think it was too scratchy. Over a t-shirt, it is, but over a regular shirt, it works just fine. And, if I do say so, I think he looks quite handsome in it! See the Irish Moss Sweater link on the right for more pictures at Flickr.

Looking back, this is one of those projects that I got into delusionally. I had no idea what I was in for. I started with gauge problems that had to be undone -- I actually knit this sweater 1.5 times! I think I had various copies of Aran Knitting checked out from the public library almost constantly since late August.

But I learned as I went along. I learned to read the pattern rather than memorize it, and I learned to cable without a cable needle. If I was still addicted to the needle, I wouldn't have finished this for another six months. I also came to love the simple moss stitch panels on the outsides of all the pieces. I think I'd like a sweater of just moss stitch some day.

Let me know what you think! Meanwhile, I have a second sock to cast on for...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Irish Moss Collar

All I've got left to finish on this sweater, besides a week's worth of weaving in ends, is 16 rows on the collar. I got it started tonight. I had to stop -- it's 70 degrees outside and it's just too hot to hold this wad-o-wool on my lap. Even in shorts! A front is supposed to come through and bring us close to freezing tonight. It should be easier to work on tomorrow night.

One of the things I really like about this collar, as opposed to the other two I've knitted in my life, is that the bulk of it is built on "live" stitches that were resting on holders. I only had to pick up and knit about 20 stitches. I'm really not all that confident in my ability to "pick up and knit." I always seem to leave holes or get things uneven. Things look pretty good this time around. If I can just keep these stitches from jumping off the ends of the DPNs. I may have to use that rubber band trick I've heard about.

I'm going to take a break and watch some episodes of "Knitty Gritty" that I've got recorded. I need to get on that show. Anyone up for a trip to L.A.?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weeping & Sewing

Okay -- it wasn't that bad. But I don't know why I thought I would be able to sew the pieces of this sweater together in an afternoon. The whole thing took about 5 hours, with short breaks for dinner and putting a kick plate on our front door.

Ms. Starmore's instructions say to backstitch the seams. I'd never backstitched, but I thought I'd give it a try. Suffice to say I switched to mattress stitch.

So far, I've got the sleeves and shoulder saddles attached to the front and back, but I haven't sewn the side seams nor sewn the sleeves together. That will have to wait for another day. But the end is in sight! More sewing pictures in the Flickr links on the right.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Irish Moss Blocking

Today I did something I've only done once before -- blocked. Unless, of course, you count my years as a junior high school offensive tackle. But those days are best left forgotten. The only other knitting item I've ever blocked was a baby blanket -- a nice big rectangle. This was a wee bit more complicated.

I decided to do a bona fide Southern Baptist full-immersion, rather than just spritizing. Here it is in the kitchen sink. You can click on the Irish Moss link on the right to get a few more blocking photos.

The last time I was at Hill Country Weavers, I picked up a BlockKit -- a set of pins and blocking wires in a tube. They make the edges very straight. To get these straight edges I had to spend nearly two hours on the floor in my guest bedroom, hunched over wet wool, shoving wires through stitches. I'm hoping it will be worth it. No wonder people don't like blocking.

I'm actually following the instructions and blocking the pieces before assembling the sweater. I understand a lot of knitters don't block until the whole thing is together, but I really wanted to follow the instructions on this one. I've never attempted anything on this scale and I want to follow the directions to the letter.

Tomorrow, we'll see how things look. The ceiling fan will be on full blast all night!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sad Kate / Happy Kate

Sad Kate
My niece was down for Thanksgiving, and she reported that the doll I gave her for her 2nd birthday, "my Katie," needed some cosmetic surgery on her left eye. The first picture shows the patient at presentation.

Ever-dutiful and prepared Uncle Steven brought an emergency repair kit to the Thanksgiving dinner and engaged in a nail-biting 5 minute surgery. In the second picture, the patient seems to have pulled through just fine, and my niece is one happy little lady.

Sad Kate

The pattern for Kate is from the Winter 2005 issue of Knitty.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Free Knitting Books

While at a conference last month, I managed to win a $100 Barnes & Noble gift certificate at a vendor drawing. Woo-hoo! After confirming with the donor that it was indeed appropriate for me to spend this money on myself and not on my library (yes, I asked -- can you believe it?), I decided right away to get some knitting books. It was hard balancing "bang for my buck," "things I need" and "things that are just kind of interesting." Hope I got a good balance.

Despite our dog Silas' best efforts, the UPS man brought these today:

I need to get reading...

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I've added a list of knitting books I own and/or have read at LibraryThing. I'll try to remember to maintain this list, but I'm not promising anything -- what do I look like, a cataloger? A link to this will be on the right.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


This is a picture of me in a hat I knit this summer. It was actually cool enough this week that I was able to wear it to work one morning. And on Friday, I wore it when Jeff and I went out to eat. The place we were eating only had outside seating, so it was a good thing I had it.

The pattern came from the Summer 2006 issue of Knitty. The designer is Jesse Loesberg. In the Fall 2006 issue, he has a sweater that I'm going to tackle someday.

I really enjoyed knitting this. It went fast, and it has a dork factor of nil, which can't be said of a lot of hat patterns out there. I even went with what for me is a pretty bright color!

Baltic Sea Socks

Here is another project I've been working on. I normally am a one-project-at-a-time kind of knitter. But in October I was heading to a conference, and wanted to have something that wouldn't be as cumbersome as the sweater I've been working on. So I started this. (I ended up taking the sweater anyway). Haven't done much up to now, but every once in a while I'll just grab it and throw on a few rows.

One of the unique things about this project is that I'm not really doing a pattern. I'm loosely following the toe-up system that Charlene Schurch uses in "Sensational Knitted Socks," but not exactly. The neat thing about the toe up socks is that, for me at least, they're not quite so pattern-dependent as gusset socks. Or, I suppose I should say that I'm not so dependent on patterns when making toe-up socks as opposed to gusset socks.

Irish Moss Sweater

Here's a picture of a sweater I'm working on for my partner, Jeff. The front is on the left, the back is on the right, and a sleeve is across the top. Sleeve number two is on the needles. I've been working on this thing since late August, and I've had to redo big sections due to gauge issues.

I'm really sailing along, now, though. Don't even have to look at the pattern for the most part. The trick comes down to learning to read the pattern based on what you've completed so far, rather than trying to memorize the pattern outright. For the life of me, though, I can't see how you would write out instructions that way. It's all the little rules you notice that make no sense as directions --

- The two wavy lines are always separated by one purl stitch and always cross over any other lines.
- Rather than one 16-row pattern, it's really two 8-row patterns that mirror each other.
- The 1st and 9th rows either cross or are status quo.
- the 3rd and 11th rows bring lines together
- the 5th and 13th rows cross lines
- the 7th and 15th rows separate lines.

That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. It's a way of looking at the givens, or laws that govern the pattern, rather than focusing on all those little squares...

Friday, November 17, 2006

It begins...

Yes, it's another knitting blog. I've set this up because I have a really hard time keeping a knitting journal of things I've made. My thinking is that I'll keep track better if the process of keeping track is more fun. We'll see how this goes! I'm sure there are a million things I haven't thought through, yet.

For the moment, I'm going to enter details of each project in the Photo Set information in Flickr. We'll see how that works.