Thursday, December 30, 2010


A world about to dawn!

I put away the Oliver socks. They’ll just have to wait for some other day. Instead, I started on another pair of socks using a pattern I bought at the Sock Summit last year and yarn I purchased a little over a year ago in Tulsa.

First the yarn. It’s Cascade Heritage, which I’ve used before and has some of the best stitch definition of any sock yarn I’ve ever knit with – right up there with Malabrigo sock yarn. The colorway -- near as I can tell, since I’ve misplaced the ball band sometime between this morning and now – is the very utilitarian and easily recognizable “red.” Not crimson, scarlet, candy apple, fire engine, chianti, vermillion, nor even a color of nail polish my mother used to use, I’m Not Really a Waitress. Nope, just red.

It’s well on its way to becoming a pair of socks using an Anne Hanson pattern, Bricker. As I mentioned, I purchased this at the Sock Summit from a booth (can’t remember which one, although I’m leaning toward the Briar Rose booth – can you remember Janelle?). I’d been waiting for the right yarn to make this with, trying to keep to my mantra of busy pattern / plain yarn. I’d forgotten I’d picked this yarn up in Tulsa. I stumbled across it when I started a rather faint-hearted attempt at getting some of the yarn stacked up next to my chair tidied up and out of basenji reach. As soon as I found the yarn, I abandoned the tidying project, wound this ball up, and got knitting.

I'm having fun with this, using DPNs, which I haven’t done for a while with socks (I’m a big fan of magic loop), and just enjoying following the pattern. It reminds me a lot of the Moya Cowl I made for my sister, which in turn is based on a scarf. The pattern looks different and more brick-like when stretched out. Hopefully, you’ll get to see them soon. I’m itching to get back to them right now.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2010 to be over and looking forward to 2011. If I don’t post again in the next few days, here’s hoping that all of us have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Decorum Restore, I Implore

Repeat after me: I love my dogs, I love my dogs, I love my dogs…

We got back from our trip yesterday, and the dogs’ sitter informed us that Pona had gotten a bit “chewsy” about some of my knitting. Seems he got a hold of the first of the the pair of Oliver socks that I’d started some time back. It’s what I was working on in locations and situations where working on The Blanket was impractical.

You may recall that I attempted this pattern once before, only to find that I’d gotten shortchanged on the amount of yarn in a hank that I’d purchased for this project. Now, it seems that this pair with this yarn is doomed, too. I might be able to pick up and finish the end with the yarn I have remaining, but I’ll have to think about it. I would spend much of the second sock worrying whether I had enough yarn left. I may just start a different pair and put this pattern to sleep for now.

The crime fits the personalities, though. Kate is usually only interested in balls and skeins of yarn – they look like dog toys. Pona has a darker bent and seems to only be interested in mauling FOs. My fault entirely for not properly putting this away before I left, but still….Grrrrrr!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

We’re halfway home. We left Steamboat Springs early this morning (-3 degrees Fahrenheit!) and drove to Amarillo today. I’m really going to miss being in the mountains. The views were so stunning. Well bundled in handknit goodness that I so rarely get to enjoy in Texas, I wasn’t ever truly cold. It was so nice to wear handmade socks, sweaters, hats and gloves every single day for a week. And, I found that 10 degrees in the still mountain air is way more comfortable than 45 degrees in a Panhandle gas station parking lot with a 25mph wind! Should be home late tomorrow afternoon.

Here’s a picture of both socks finally on Gracie’s feet. I spent a good chunk of Christmas Eve making the second one. She decided she’s going to wear them on her first day back to school next week. I gave them to her on Christmas Eve, and I don’t know if it was a newfound appreciation of handknits or just the idea of someone getting something someone they didn’t, but my nephew Michael asked for a pair of “green socks with white stripes.” The color he pointed to when I tried to narrow things down was a Kelly green. Yikes. And my niece Kathleen asked for a long scarf, like they wear in the Harry Potter movies. She also wanted green. When I asked her if there was any significance to that color, she just got a mischievous glimmer in her eye. Watch out for that one. So I have a few orders that I’ll have to fill.

Everyone liked their cowls and gaiters and modeled them proudly. I’ve only now realized that due to the scattered nature of our locations on Christmas day (some of us skied, some of us didn’t), I never got a picture of everyone wearing them. But all seemed pleased. Speaking of pleased, I heard from Jeff’s mom that his cousin was very happy with baby blanket they got in the mail last week.

I’ll call 2010 a good year, well knit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gracie’s Blues

Just a quick post to show progress on a pair of blue socks that I’m making for our niece Gracie. I’d made one for her at Thanksgiving, but it was too small. This one is fitting her much better.

When I tried this on her last night, I asked her if it was long enough. I, of course, was just thinking of the length of the cuff. She very politely agreed that it was long enough, but then added that “it would be nice if it went all the way down to my toes.”

The cuteness!

Skiing had been fun. I decided to hold off on the gifts until Christmas day – the gaiters and cowls I made for them really wouldn’t be doing much good at cutting the wind like the store-bought ones they’ve been using. Gracie has been very curious about all the colors in my hat – I think she’ll be surprised.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I’m very happy to be spending time with and being surrounded by the people I love. It’s the best any of us can hope for.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Look, I Made a Hat

Where there never was a hat!

Jeff and I watched an old PBS version of Sunday in the Park with George as I was, well, finishing the hat. Watch it if the first few words of this post don’t make any sense.

I made a chunkier version of Jared Flood’s Turn A Square Hat for myself out of the leftover bits of Berroco Vintage Chunky that was used for all the cowls, gaiters and neck warmers that I’ve been knitting over the past few weeks. A little something for me to enjoy. I’ve only taken it off to sleep and get a haircut since it came off the needles. I’m going to get a kick out of seeing whether anyone catches on that all of the colors in their various garments are in this hat. It just worked out that there was room for 7 two-round stripes on the basic background color.

I modified the pattern to a chunky yarn. I figured out the gauge and then came up with a number, divisible by four, that would get about the same circumference – 64 in this case, as opposed to the 96 in the original pattern. I also didn’t mess with changing needle sizes between the ribbing and the main body, nor did I do any increasing. I wanted this to be snug. Other hats I’ve made for myself have been to big – I think I overcompensated for what I perceive to be a larger-than-average melon – so I wanted to keep things on the small side. At the point where there were to be 26 stitches between the four decrease points, I had 16. Everything else pretty much followed the pattern.

I love it. Some commenters over at Flickr asked if I was going to knit something for Jeff from some of this yarn, but he took a pass. He generally thinks that handknit things are too scratchy for wearing next to the skin – and believe me, hats are touching a lot more skin than they used to for both of us. So this one is mine, all mine. I’ve started calling it The Precious.

Think about it. It has all the colors of the cowls and gaiters I’ve knit over the past few weeks, so it must have some sort of power over them, like Tolkien’s The One Ring:

Two cowls for the in-laws through sis and bro
Two for the siblings, younger of three
Four for niece/nephews on slopes of snow
A hat for the knitter – that would be me
In the land of mountains, where the skiers go
One hat to rule them all, one hat to bind them
One hat made from them all -- for him who entwined them

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Closing Act

With the casting of and sewing up of this last piece, Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest 2010 officially comes to a close.

The final garment is for my sister-in-law, Suzanne. It’s very different from the others, in that the stitches run horizontally rather than vertically. In essence, it is a short scarf with the ends sewn together. The unevenly spaced cables combine with this ocean-y color to create a nice wave effect, I think. The part near the seam is a little wider than the other part, but I don’t think it will be noticeable when worn. This garment is more loosely structured than the others – it was made on 10.75 (7mm) needles, and being sideways, gravity has more of an effect.

Because of the slow start, I was worried that I might not get all these done, but I finished last night with a few days before we head up to Colorado. I still haven’t decided whether to give these to everyone when we arrive, or wait for Christmas. They might be nice for the cold weather, but truth but told, they’re not very wind resistant and not exactly practical for keeping necks warm while swooshing down slopes. I’ll keep thinking about it.

Now I need to get cracking on those blue socks that I promised Gracie at Thanksgiving, and I have an idea of what to do with the leftover yarn from all these projects…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Koolhaas Kowl

Again, I’d queued up a pattern in Ravelry that just didn’t float my boat, so I improvised a little.

Even though I didn’t do I good job with the fit, I’ve enjoyed the Koolhaas Hat designed by Jared Flood that I made for myself a few years ago. I’d worn it the other day, and it got me to thinking that I could use that same stitch pattern for a cowl for our youngest niece. I dragged out the 2007 Holiday issue of Interweave Knits and got going.

I like the results. It pulls in quite a bit, but then our niece is 6 years old, so she doesn’t have much neckage. I made a mistake at one point that required slipping all the stitches off the needles and unraveling back a few rows – I just couldn’t figure it out otherwise. This really is a fun pattern to knit, and if you can manage the two-stitch cable twists without using a cable needle, which isn’t all that difficult, it goes that much faster.

My major modifications from the hat pattern:

  • I only cast on 64 stitches
  • I only did four rounds of 2x2 ribbing before beginning the pattern since I’m using a chunky yarn
  • I didn’t do any of the decreasing

One more to go! This next one promises to be quite different…

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Honeycomb Cable Cowl

Come to the Honeycomb Hideout! Cowl number 6 is off the needles.

This one involved improvisation on a couple of levels. I’d originally queued up a much simpler cabled cowl in Ravelry, but right after casting on I realized it was going to be boring to knit and look at. So, I grabbed a stitch dictionary I have. It ain’t no Barbara Walker treasury, but it does have some interesting things in it. I’d always admired honeycomb cables, so I thought I’d give them a try.

The book’s pattern has  the honeycomb cable in a motif covering 22 stitches – the cables themselves are over 16 stitches, and the rest cover the field of purls from which the pattern pops, plus a little staggered garter line that runs up the middle. I cast on 66 stitches to make three repeats.

Originally, I’d planned this for my sister-in-law Suzanne, but it ended up being a bit small, forgetting that cables tend to draw fabric inward, so this one is going to my niece Kathleen. I think it will look quite sharp on her. A pessimist would say that the holes created behind the honeycomb pattern will let in the chilly mountain air. An optimist would say that these will allow one’s neck to breath.

Two more to go. Here’s to optimism!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moya Cowl

I keep getting faster and faster with this cowl and gaiter knitting project. I’m worried that I’ll start feeling the effects of time dilation and look up to find that everyone around me is 90 years old.

This pattern is Agness Kaku’s Moya Cowl. It starts with a picot edging made with yarn-overs. I ended up knitting or purling (more purling!) the cast on edge folded behind the work together with the stitches in the fourth round of the pattern. It was kind of fiddly. I couldn’t manage getting the yarn back through the cast-on stitches with my needles. I had to resort to using a crochet hook which really slowed things down. And I always manage to twist the stitches when doing this sort of thing. Still, I’m glad I did it. I remembered how much I disliked sewing to get the same effect around the hem of the Samantha Dress I made last year [Flickr] [Ravelry].

The pattern is basically Kristen Kapur’s Puzzle Scarf knit in the round.   It looks like there is shaping at the top, but that’s just the pull and drag of the different knit and purl bands. It makes four evenly spaced crenellations around the edge in which to place one’s chin, ears and pony tail (should one possess such an appendage). I think Susan will like it.

Now that I think of it, I will probably be aging at the same rate as everyone else today. Lots of errands to run – including finally getting that baby blanket in the mail! But I imagine I’ll get some knitting done, too. Five days until we leave and only three projects left. This really is do-able!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day Gaiter

The boys’ gaiters are finished with this fourth one, a Snow Day Gaiter for our nephew Michael. A simple yet elegant design: six rows of garter stitch on either end, filled with rows of garter stitch ribbing – alternating knit rows with rows of K2P2.

The original pattern called for casting on 72 stitches, but since I’m making this for an 8-year-old neck, I thought I’d reduce it a bit to 52. The last gaiter I made was on 58 stitches, which, with the yarn I’m using, was stretching the limits of what could be knit comfortably in the round on my shortest cable from my Addi Clicks set. So I switched to the largest cable and did this using a magic loop.

For getting such a slow start, things are really moving along! And now, to tackle the cowls for the women and girls. It might seem odd that I did all the gaiters for my male relatives first. It’s just that I’m going through the order in which I queued these up in Ravelry. I looked for the men’s pattern first, thinking they might be a bit harder to find.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


WonkyGaiter/Cowl #3 was on and off the needles in about 19 hours. I cast on yesterday evening after work and started the bind-off at the morning’s knitting get-together, finishing at home. This one is for our eldest nephew, Christopher.

The pattern is Wonky from the Summer 2009 Knitty. I modified it a little bit. The pattern calls for three 8-round repeats plus 7 rounds. I did five repeats instead, to make this one similar in length to the gaiters I knit for my brother and brother-in-law. I did reduce the circumference a bit by reducing the number of stitches in the stockinette section (i.e., the wonky part) from 12 to 8, for a total of 58 stitches cast on. And rather than doing a regular bind off, I did Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off after consulting with some fellow knitters.

I think Christopher will like it.

Buster         Buster & Staci

While enjoying coffee outdoors today, we knitters were visited by an 11-week-old English Bulldog named Buster. The cuteness was off the charts. He had a little bell around his neck that was perfect for the season. Such huge paws. Such sharp puppy teeth. No problems socializing him with people, that’s for sure. His owners were very kind to let us ooh and ahh over him so much.

And now it’s on to Gaiter/Cowl #4 for our nephew, Michael James.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fisherman's Rib Gaiter

Attendance at the Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest is light so far. This week has been filled with events every single evening running until 10:00pm. I've had time to run home for a quick bite after work before having to head back out for chorus rehearsals and our nephew's winter concert. It's been hectic, and I've only been able to grab a little time here and there to do a few rounds.

Not a good pace, I admit, but today is the last day of classes and the needles of progress will click on. I was able to bind off this gaiter after breakfast and before work. It's a simple 1x1 fisherman's rib over 64 stitches. I had seen a pattern for something similar in Ravelry, but it involved a totally reversible Fisherman's rib -- meaning that one alternated rows of knitting into the stitch below with rows of purling into the stitch below. A little fiddly, yet doable -- however, it seemed to be eating up too much yarn so I ripped back and did a one-sided version. It's not quite as long as the first one, but it looks kind of cool. Sort of a turtleneck without the rest of the sweater.

Six more to go!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Cowlapalooza and Gaiterfest 2010

Over Thanksgiving, Jeff and I were invited to go skiing in Colorado with my brother’s family. My sister and her family will be there too. And, while I generally try to avoid the hassle and bustle of that phenomenon known as Christmas knitting, I decided that I needed to come up with something warm and cozy for all of the family to wear. So I needed to come up with a plan for handy garments that I could knit fast.

My first instinct was scarves – great for stash-busting and quick to knit. I even got started on one. But since I need 8 garments, I slowly realized that I may not be able to get everything done before we head up. After talking with some of my fellow knitters yesterday, I settled on making cowls and neck gaiters. They knit up quick, there are tons of free patterns available, and you can make them from one skein on large needles. Thanks, Snowden, for suggesting this!

So I headed over the Hill Country Weavers where I had a credit from a return I’d made a few weeks ago. I dithered around for an hour or so, grabbing skeins here and there, before I was pointed toward a pile of Berroco Vintage Chunky. Great for size ten needles with good yardage, nice heathered jewel tones, and totally washable.

The next step was figuring out what to knit. There are TONS of free patterns in Ravelry. I just grabbed some that looked like they would fit the eight people I’m knitting for – two adult women, two adult men, two boys and two girls. I’m going to have to do some adjusting for the some of the kids’ cowls to make them fit, but because most of the patterns are fairly simple, it shouldn’t be too hard to adjust them.

First up, is the Cowl’d and Frosty Morning, which I’m knitting for my brother-in-law. The pattern is basically four rounds of seed stitch, followed by 11 rounds of stockinette. Repeat that two more times, and then add four final rounds of seed stitch. I used Jenny’s Surprising Stretchy Bind Off from the Fall 2009 issue of Knitty, and all was done. I cast on last night and finished this morning. I think my plan is going to work.

One down, seven to go. Admittedly I started with the most simple one. My knitting time is going to be limited next week as I have something going almost every evening, most of them associated with the chorus’ winter concert. But I think this is do-able.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tamarix Terminatio

It’s done! It only took me a little over three months, but I’ve put the finishing touches on the Tamarix Quilt. There was nothing so satisfying as going over to Ravelry and putting this project to rest status-wise.

We got a call from Jeff’s dad earlier in the week. His little first cousin once removed did indeed arrive on Monday. So she’s four days old today. I haven’t seen any pictures yet, nor, sadly, do I know the little one’s name! However, I have it on good authority that she’s gorgeous – as I knew she would be.

I was able to get the applied I-cord edging done during the evenings this week. I tweaked the pattern a little bit with this feature. The pattern called for a five-stitch I-cord, but after reading someone else’s comment in Ravelry, I decided to scale this back to a 3-stitch I-cord. I didn’t want the blue-ness to be too overwhelming and wanted a trimmer, less floppy edge. Also, rather than using the method suggested in the pattern, I used the method outlined by Elizabeth Zimmerman in The Opinionated Knitter and which I used when making the garter stitch throw for my in-law’s last year. Here’s the video if you want to refresh your memory. The main difference is that EZ calls for a yarnover which seems to do a good job of hiding the underlying color (green in the photo above) from peeking through.

I’m so happy to have this finished. And although it was frustrating at times, and I lost my mojo halfway through, I’m pleased with the results. I have enough yarn to crank out something else – while I’m on a garter stitch kick, I should try a Baby Surprise Jacket…

But alas, I have other knitting to do. It turns out I’m going to be spending my Christmas holiday somewhere much colder than here with Jeff and eight other relatives. Relatives who will need to keep themselves warm in the cold and snow. More on that next time.