Sunday, November 27, 2011

Party Down

Today was the big day for Jeff’s little cousin. She’s a year old this week, and celebrated in high style with family, friends, and rides around the front yard in her little red wagon.

It was so good to meet her. She was just a delight – so beautiful, and curious and learning things left and right. She absolutely adores her uncles – as any smart niece does – and even took a shine to some of her older cousins. She has only recently learned to walk, but she’s getting good at it fast.

While the hat I made was a bit small, the jacket fit perfectly, with some room for growth. She seemed extra interested in the buttons, of course, but I assure you I sewed them on extra tight.

Such a beautiful girl and such a fun day. Pinks and purples are definitely her colors! I’m so glad I got to make this for her and so pleased that she seems pleased with it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quelle Surprise!

Just a quick post to show you some finishing details I’ve made to the Baby Surprise Jacket for Jeff’s little cousin…

I added these pink buttons this afternoon. They’re yet another shade of pink – and the thread with which they were sewn, stolen from my mother-in-law’s sewing kit, is yet another shade of purple. Five separate colors that go great together! The buttons have six holes. I wasn’t sure what to do with all of them, so I decided to mimic the ridges of garter stitch and do little bars across. The top and bottom holes don’t connect to the sweater – I just ran the thread threw them a few times to make them match the rest. My advice – do not look behind the buttons.

I also added a mitered collar based on instructions I found. I didn’t pick up as many stitches as instructed – they just weren’t there to be picked up – but I think it turned out fine.

I’m hoping to have a bit of time and yarn left over to make a hat. I have a pattern picked out. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes. The little one’s birthday is Sunday. I’m hoping I can get some modeled shots to post then.

Ooh – dinner is ready.  Hope everyone  is having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Jeff’s little first cousin (once removed), for whom I made the Tamarix Quilt last summer, turns 1 soon. We were invited to her first birthday party on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so after my knitting group met Saturday morning, I went and bought some yarn and got cracking on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, as written up in The Opinionated Knitter.

Folding a Baby Surprise Jacket


This evening, it’s all over but the buttons – and possibly a collar. What can I say? I had a lot of time on my hands this weekend – a rarity in the fall.

There are many ways you can tackle this project – just check out the over 6500 pictures of this project in Flickr. Janelle has made at least two beautiful examples using self-striping yarn – one in pink and one in green – that are just lovely. I would definitely recommend doing this – striping on your own is pretty tricky. I followed a beautiful design that I saw in Ravelry using gray, mustard and green. But I was in the mood to make something ultra-girly, so I went for pinks and purples. To be more accurate, Berocco calls the colors I used Mochi (pale pink), Dewberry (reddish purple) and Petunia (dark purple). Knitting pal Melissa helped me pick out the colors. Thanks, Melissa.

A knitting buddy, Jene, advised me not to mess with EZ’s math or get too creative with this pattern. She knows what she’s talking about. Early on, I decided to do a slipped stitch chain selvedge to make a neat and tidy edge, but then I realized that this would causes problems with seaming later. EZ would have mentioned it if she though it advisable. All hail, EZ!

After I was done knitting, I couldn’t figure out how to seam horizontal garter stitch to vertical garter stitch. I found some pictures that the Yarn Harlot had posted when she made this several years back. They were quite helpful, and I think my efforts turned out nicely.

What a fun, but mind-bending project – it’s what knitting must be like for being in higher dimensions. I bought some cute pink buttons that I’m going to add on later, and I’m thinking of adding a collar, too. I’ll post more when it’s finished – and maybe even some pictures of it being modeled!

My favorite line from EZ’s instructions for this garment: “Hope you are still with me.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I finished the Border Socks this evening. I think, that with these socks, I can consider myself a confident stranded knitter.

In the past, I tended to dither about the stranded work – I could only do it while focusing on nothing else, I was nervous stranding in public (although I did it), I worried about changing colors. But after all those mittens and the vest I made last summer, I just kind of flew through this project. I didn’t bat an eye when the color work came up. Granted, this is much simpler than those projects, but I was pleased with how natural the stranding began to feel – not some special maneuver to be tackled, like Kitchener stitch. I’m still not throwing as comfortably as I pick, but overall, progress on this project was silky smooth.

I may have mentioned this earlier, but these are pretty bulky socks. They’re knit on 2.75mm (and 3.25mm for the stranded part), whereas I usually do socks on 2mm needles. So they’re looser. Plus, the Knit Picks Stroll fingering weight yarn that I used is a bit bulkier than what I usually make socks out of. These will be more for wearing around the house or in a pair of boots. They’re not going to fit into shoes very well.

Now I just have to wait for it to get really chilly. Well, what passes for chilly in central Texas, anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today, my men’s knitting group met up at The Knitting Nest, shortly after a class had concluded. The staff asked the teacher, Stephannie Talent, to hang around and show us some of the samples she had brought. Lucky us – we saw some really amazing designs and knitting.

photo(1)First up, we got to see several of her mittens. She has a pattern booklet out with many of her designs, called, appropriately, Mittens! I tried on these green ones, which amazingly, fit me. I liked the sideways cuff, and although I don’t know about buttons for a guy, I was really drawn to these. They were made with yarn from Blackwater Abbey, which I’ve always liked, but have never ordered. Might have to now. Stephannie uses intricate cables and creative edging in her designs, and I was blown away by several pairs of mittens that incorporated beadwork. They were really quite exquisite, but at the same time, seemed very do-able.

photoIn addition to her book on mittens, Stephannie is about to publish a new book, California Revival Knits. This book features designs based on California Revival d├ęcor. Like the mittens, these garments incorporate all kinds of techniques – cabling, beadwork, intarsia, stranded knitting – the whole gamut. I was drawn to these fingerless peacock mittens. Hard to see in this picture, but the peacock has a beautiful red beaded eye. It reminds me of one of those rhinestone-studded purses that my grandmother used to use in the 1960s – but way cooler. Also not visible in this picture, a row of over a dozen little pearl buttons fastening up the side.

sweaterThere were larger garments, too. This beautiful top had really nice beaded work all the way around, and a pretty hemmed picot edging. For some reason, the camera didn’t get the color right – this is actually a beautiful chocolate brown color – which probably goes a long way towards explaining why I liked it.

I’m so glad I got to see all of this. It’s always gratifying to see a range of a designer’s work and get to talk to her about what she loves to do. If you have an interest in beautiful designs that require a wide range of techniques, you’ll want to get your hands on these patterns. Thanks for sharing, Stephannie – we appreciated you hanging around to show us all your beautiful work!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Clear and Normal

A brief diversion from the knitting while I share some good news. First, some background.

Fanconi Syndrome is a kidney condition that affects Basenjis. The syndrome causes problems in glucose and acid levels in urine, and can lead to kidney failure. It usually doesn’t manifest itself until a dog is between 4 and 7 years of age, by which time some dogs have already had offspring. Thus it has passed down from generation to generation. It affects somewhere around 10% of the U.S. Basenji population. It’s a nasty disease, but if caught early, it’s treatable. Catching it early, for us, involved holding Clinistix urine testing strips under (Pona) or behind (Kate) our dogs once a month to see if they had high glucose levels. Fun!

Until recently, there was an indirect test for the likelihood of a dog developing Fanconi later in life, called a linked marker test. They could look at several indicators and calculate probability, but as yet, they hadn’t identified the exact mutation. In late August, Dr. Gary Johnson of the Dept. of Veterinary Pathobiology at the University of Missouri, was able to sequence the complete genome of Miranda, a Basenji with Fanconi Syndrome and compare it to other dog genomes. He identified the exact gene causing the problem. As far as Dr. Johnson knows, it’s the first first inheritable dog disease problem solved through genome sequencing. Dr. Johnson’s recent presentation to the Basenji Club of America is available and rather interesting for those who want all the nerdy details. Thanks, Dr. Johnson – and Miranda!

All this is to say that we sent off for DNA testing kits from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, swabbed the in side of the dogs’ cheeks (more fun!) and sent the samples back. I checked the website today, and here’s what I saw:


Wonderful news! Oh, and because this is a knitting blog, I guess I can share with you that I’ve finished the first of the Border Socks.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Odd Balls

Even though I had just started a pair, some yarn I’d ordered came in the mail and I just had to get going on another. A few days ago, I cast on for the Border Socks from the Fall 2011 issue Interweave Knits.

I’m treading on dangerous ground with these (figuratively, not literally, because they’re not anywhere near finished) since I didn’t swatch. Hey, it’s sock yarn – what could go wrong? Here’s what could go wrong. I normally knit socks on size 0 or sometimes size 1 needles. This pattern calls fro knitting on size 2, with the colorwork done on size 3. The circumference for the medium size is 72 stitches which is what I usually cast on for the smaller needles. Still, these are looking about right. The Knit Picks Stroll yarn that I’m making this with is a bit on the thick side as sock yarns go, so the drape seems right, too. I’ll try them on soon to check. Right now, I’m having too much fun knitting them.

ballsYesterday was my birthday. My age now matches the number of chromosomes in each of my cells. Shouldn’t we all celebrate that? It was a great day – I did an orientation for a very attentive class at work, got several nice cards and email greetings, and came home to find a wonderful present waiting for me – 55 Christmas Balls to Knit by Arne Nerjordet & Carlos Zachrison. What a hoot! Arne & Carlos are a couple, living in Norway, who, in addition to fashion design and knitting, are into gardening, home renovation, doll houses, and raising chickens. I love the picture on the cover, a sort of modern gay Scandinavian version of American Gothic. Check out the book trailer featuring this quirky duo:



I really wish Pete Schweddy had written a blurb for the jacket. And I’m wondering – couldn’t Arne & Carlos have created one more design to come up with an even number?