Monday, December 24, 2012

Why We Knit

Happy holidays, knitters! My friend Staci recently asked her friends around the world to submit short videos about why they knit, and gathered the results into this great video. I (and Pona) made the cut, and I thought I'd share.


Hope everyone is staying warm (or, in some cases, cool!) and getting lots of knitting done. I haven't done too much knitting lately, but hope to have something to show next post.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Grey Garden

These will be the best things to wear for the day, some day.

Until this morning, I hadn't knit a stitch for a week. Just so much going on, and not enough time for sitting still and knitting. But the semester is now over and I got to kick off the break by getting together with friends to knit. When we noticed that half of us were knitting gray projects, we had to get a shot. If Snowden had been here, our chances of having five projects would have been high. Girl can rock the gray.

While there, Staci told me about an app she thought I might like. It's knitCompanion from Create2Thrive, and so far, I AM liking it. It allows you to upload patterns via Dropbox, and then manipulate them in all kinds of creative ways. So far, I've uploaded the pattern for the Fishbone Gansey Socks I'm currently working on, isolated the cuff chart, and added the written instructions side-by side. The app adds an automatic row highlighter, and with the tap of a button, it jumps to the next row. So cool! You can also color-code sections, add virtual stitch markers, and more. It was a little tough getting started, but I got going pretty quickly. It's already made this project easier to follow. It's a little spendier than some apps, but worth it, I think, just for the help in following charts.

And now to stop writing about knitting and actually do it. Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season and getting to knit as much as you want to.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

In Fine Trim

Today was the day to get the tree set up and see what it looked like with all those balls I made during the last year. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even though it doesn't really feel like it. It's close to 80°F outside.

We have a rather tall artificial tree that fits neatly in a smallish corner. I really miss the fine trees we used to get as a kid growing up in Washington, but taking into consideration our mild central Texas winters and the tendency for Jeff and I to roam over the holidays, an artificial tree just makes more sense.

This year the decorations consist of the 55 balls I knit earlier this year and some toy-themed ornaments that are partly from a trip to Germany and partly from a cheap drugstore set from my first Christmas in my own home, which has a lot of sentimental value. I think they all work nicely together.

I'm having a hard time getting decent pictures of the tree with my phone. I don't want a washed-out flash picture taken at night, and the bright sun is causing its own set of problems. But I just glanced over at Kate, napping on the couch after a long day spent outside napping, and managed to capture the photo above. Then, while writing this post, Pona decided to pose as well. It's like a Yuletide basenji opium den around here.

It all looks better than I'd expected. I just hope I put the new balls high enough up on the tree so that Kate doesn't snatch any of them.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sweaters for Feet

After a string of several complicated and involved projects, it was time to settle down for some good old fashioned comfort knitting. And for me, that's socks. I'd bought some charcoal gray Cascade Heritage sock yarn on a whim last weekend, and when I mentioned socks to Janelle, she was ready with a suggestion.

So on Thanksgiving afternoon I started a pair of Anne Hanson's Fishbone Gansey Socks. They're like a fisherman's sweater for one's feet! I like the sideways fishbone pattern across the cuff. It was interesting to make, although I'm already at the start of the heel. It seems to be business as usual from here on out.

And then I get to do it again. And on my rockin' new dpns. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Taste of Honey

The Honey Baby blanket is finished and waiting for its recipient's arrival in February!

I turned the final corner on the edging in the middle of the week, and made great progress while catching up on some Nova episodes in the evenings. When I got to my knitting group Saturday morning, I realized the end was near. By early afternoon I had finished the edging, grafted it together, given it a good long bath and had it on the blocking board. Well, mostly on it.

My blocking board is measured out at 30"x48", with a one inch margin around it. I pinned the blanket right at the edge, and then drew the wires 6" past the short edge, pinning them right into the carpet so that part of the blanket was suspended just above it. Not ideal, but it worked. The blanket in the called-for yarn and needles is supposed to be 44"x44", but with my skinnier yarn and needles, 38"x38" looked about right -- nice and flat without distorting the pattern.

This was my first big complicated lace project with multiple charts. I really enjoyed it. Lace really gets your brain going and highlights the things I like most about knitting -- pattern and symmetry. But it's also about making something built around negative space -- creating little holes and pockets of nothingness that come together to create a thing that is quite beautiful. It's a satisfaction that is slow to arrive, but it's worth the wait.

Now I need to figure out how to present this to the little one's mother. With permission, I'll post some pictures of it wrapped around a little bundle of joy when she arrives in February.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Prime Number Less Than 50

This morning, my knitting group celebrated my birthday. Out of the whole group, mine is the only birthday not in the spring or summer, so I’m the odd man out on many, many levels.
In addition to a thoughtful (ahem) card and a gift certificate to my favorite local bike repair shop, I was presented with a set of 2.5mm 6” Signature Needle Arts stiletto-point dpns, in all their lovely greenness. They are absolutely wonderful and I put one of them to work right away on the edging on the baby blanket – only a little more than one side left to go.

investedAs an added extra surprise, I was hoodwinked into bringing my Hillhead Slipover under the pretense of Staci borrowing it for instruction purposes. When I arrived, I wondered why Jene was wearing an over-the-top Christmas sweater, and then it hit me –- they were all wearing knitted vests. Those whacky gals! It’s one of the things I love about this group – we tease because we love. We share just about everything, and I find that meeting with this group on a weekend acts as a kind of emotional reset button. I really, really miss it when I can’t go. It’s about so much more than the knitting.

Thanks, ladies – I love each and every one of you!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Life on the Edge

I did finally figure out the edging technique on the Honey Baby Blanket. It's a 4-row pattern with the 2nd and 4th rows being knit together with a live stitch from the edge of the blanket. This is repeated 415 (or so) times around the entire outside edge. I say "or so," because I came up with 16 fewer stitches than the pattern said I would. I counted and checked umpteen times and can't figure for the life of me where I missed any stitches. So let's just pretend I didn't.

As you might be able to tell from the above, all this edging is tedious. It would have been more so if I hadn't broken down and bought a 2.5mm 32" lace needle. It.s one of those pointy gold Addi thingies. I bought it for the pointiness (lots of knitting stitches together with adjacent yarnovers -- ick) but love it for it's grabiness. The yarn still slides, but has just enough stick to keep stitches from jumping ship. It's the perfect tool for the job.

I've completed one whole side and about a third of another. The end is in sight. I can't wait to block this thing and see how the design shapes up -- and how big it's going to be.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All Over But the Edging

Man -- when you're a naturally monogamous knitter into projects with long timelines, there's really not a whole lot to be posting about. I just did a quick check over at Ravelry, and since one year ago, I've only started 14 projects. Many of these were long, involved projects, but still, I don't feel like I've been very productive. Not exactly lazy -- I've knit what feels like millions of stitches this year. I just don't have many things to show for it.

This past weekend I did manage to reach a milestone on the Honey Baby blanket, though. I've finished all the charts, and all I've left to do is the edging. I got a big chunk of the blanket finished while knitting with friends Saturday morning. My buddy Jene took this great photo with her what she refers to as her "smarty pants phone." It was chilly enough that morning that I got to wear my Hillhead Pullover for much of the time, although it did warm up and I had to pull it off. You can see it folded up on the chair to my right. And to my left, the light lavender blob that is the blanket.

The edging is knitted separately and then knit together to the still-live edge stitches, of which there are over 800 right now. So dozens of stitches of edging for each of those 800. A milestone, yes, but I wouldn't exactly say the end is in sight. I've read through the edging instructions a couple of times, but I'm still not sure I've got it. I'm going to take another stab at it this evening with fresh eyes. I'm sure that once it clicks I'll be off and running. But so far, no clicking.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ooh, Honey Honey

Long time no post-y. Sorry about that. Although knitting abounds, novelty does not. The Honey Baby blanket has been consuming my knitting time, and as it grows, visible progress slows. It's the curse of the center-out design.

I took this photo showing the progress from the first chart to the second. Below the purled strip is the beehive motif. It's hard to see with me stretching this out by hand, but the purled triangles represent beehives. And the open yarnovers at the top are little bees' wings. I think. Right now, they look like moths, which are scarier than bees to a knitter.

From the original 8 stitches, I've increased to over 600. It takes nearly 30 minutes to do a round now, and it's only going to get slower. When I look at pictures of finished Honey Babies, I can see that I'm only a few inches from the edge, but it's gonna take a lot of knitting to get there. So close and yet so far!

I'm posting this from the regional medical librarians conference I go to each fall. This time we're in Lubbock, and although I've had a great time, I'm ready to head home. The long drive is going to be much more pleasing than the ride up, because I'll be accompanied by another knitting librarian.

More progress soon.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

In the Pink

I've made enough progress on the Honey Baby Blanket that I've been able to switch from dpns to circulars. Admittedly, I may have jumped the gun a bit on that decision -- it was tight going for a while -- but now all is going swimmingly.

With all the increasing going on, this thing is gaining in circumference rapidly. It's also taking a lot longer to get a round completed, and I'm finding I'm making some mistakes from zoning out. I've caught each one before disaster struck. Mostly thy involve not paying attention to which direction a decrease should lie. Right now, I'm fixing a round that I messed up two rounds back. Tedious, but necessary.

So progress continues. I've nearly finished up the first pattern section. And although I just about have this one memorized, I'm eager to get started on the next one

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Baby Blanket Bingo

I started a new project a few days ago for a new neighbor expected in February. It's pink and it's lacy. And yes, the new neighbor is going to be a girl. Don't judge. It's the right yarn, and my LYS either had this lovely pinky-purple, a lime green, white, or black. Pinky-purple it is, although my camera seems to have brightened it a bit in this shot. The yarn, made by Araucanía in Chile, is called Itata, the iname of a Chilean River. It's a blend of wool, silk, and bamboo that's quite nice to work with after the straight-up Scottish wools I've been working with lately. And it's washable -- a must for baby things.

The pattern, Honey Baby by Anne Hanson, calls for sport, but I decided to go with fingering. Instead of size 5 needles, I started with size 3, and then quickly switched to size 2 (2.75mm). It looks about right now. The blanket will be smaller, but then, babies are pretty small -- or so I've been told. I seem to remember my nieces and nephews being tiny little things at one time...

So for now, I'm just following the chart around. Honestly, how anyone can knit lace from written out row-by-row instructions is beyond me. I can't wait to move from dpns to a circular, but my 16" 2.75mm needle is out on loan, and my one other one is a 32". I tried it earlier today, and trust me, I'm not quite there yet. But I so long for the speed and ease of whipping around on metal needles. These bamboo ones are getting very crowded...

I should also mention that I was totally inspired to make this by a lovely example I saw in Ravelry by gcnatter. So, so beautiful!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tassels Hassle

I finished up the Polar Chullo today.

Yesterday, my niece was over. I had her in mind while making this. She tried it on, it fit her fine, and it looked great on her. So it's all hers. I finished up the I-cord border today and added the cords and tassels to the ear flaps. It's blocking right now.

This was a great project for going through some leftover yarn. It turned out okay -- except for the tassels. I don't feel I was quite doing them right, and they won't last forever. The tassel on top doesn't have any of the gray yarn because I was afraid of running out. As it turns out, I would have been fine. I had ideas of making more of these hats, perhaps with other animals, but not any more. I'm done. I need to make something with different yarn right now.

And that thing just might be Honey Baby. We have neighbors expecting in February and I've been admiring this pattern for a while. Problem is, I haven't planned ahead, and I'm going to have to go buy some yarn. Life's hard.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

14 Bears

It's starting to look like the outskirts of Churchill, Manitoba around here, what with all the white bears prowling around.

I managed to sneak in a fair bit of knitting this week and closed up the top of the Polar Chullo today. All that's left to do is add the I-cords and tassels, and do a bit of applied I-cord edging. I may have to break with the color scheme and use other colors than the ones called for since I'm running low on yarn. And I need to think about how I might pin down the steek leftovers inside the ear flaps. I'm leaning toward sewing thread rather than yarn so as not to add any bulk. Oh, and some serious blocking needs to happen.

I originally thought I might line this with fleece, but now wondering whether I want to go through all that when I could be knitting on something else. I suppose I could always tackle that later.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Bears in the Mist

I've had some time to really knuckle down on the Polar Chullo this weekend., and have made quit a bit of progress. Recently, I finished a section that's really what this hat is all about -- Polar Bears!

The design features two rows of Polar Bears -- eight on the lower level, which I've just finished, and six on the upper level, lumbering in the opposite direction. The design is cleverly done -- each alternating bear on a level is walking with a different seal-mangling paw poised forward. I had a color scheme in mind which I think works great big-picture-wise, but I didn't think about the lack of contrast between the Granite and Natural White colors. So I used some unplied yarn to embroider on some eyes and noses. It seems to help enhance their bear-ness, plus it gives each one a little personality. I think the bear on the left above needs to lay off the eye liner a bit. Although they're more visible now, I'm imagining these bears walking through a misty polar landscape. That helps.

One of the tips in the pattern isn't working for me. It suggests working in the tail of both the new and old yarns working toward the left after the color change. This leaves a sloppy seam at the row change, or at least it does the way I'm doing it, so I'm shifting to my old school method of weaving in the new color before the change and weaving in the old color after the change. I'll try some sort of seaming trick to fix the part I've already done later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Loving Hands

The past few weeks, we've been going through closets and bins with an eye toward clearing out the clutter and better storing the things we want to keep. I was reminded of what a treasure trove of handmade textiles I have, and I thought I'd share some here.

First up is a quilt that came from my paternal grandmother's house - or garage, I should say. We found it in a footlocker. My mother and I decided this quilt must have come from my grandfather's side of the family, since stuff from her family was so well cared for. It has flannel backing, which no other quilt handed down through my family has, and it features some really cool graphic fabrics, probably from the 1930s or 40s -- giant blue and white pears, French people dancing around the Eiffel Tower and white golf balls on a mustard background. Fun stuff!

On Mom's side of the family, I have two items made by my great-grandmother's little sister, Gladys. I only remember my Aunt Gladys from her later years, living in the same nursing home as my great-grandfather (her brother-in-law). He didn't really get along with her, but I loved visiting her room. She and her roommate were crochet machines, cranking out pastel-colored blankets, dolls and cozies that covered nearly every corner of the room. This is a tablecloth that I think is crocheted. It might be tatting, though I don't really know anything about tatting. The work is very tiny. It only has a few stains and some tears that could be repaired. It's not really my style, but I do love it's intricacy.

Aunt Gladys also made this cool trivet-like thing constructed with interlocking crocheted rings. The white rings seem to have been made one inside the next, and then were woven together by the section in green/yellow and then bordered with same psychedelic yarn. The result is a groovy 70s Celtic knot.

I'm sure a big part of the appeal of these items for me is knowing something of their provenance and of their makers. It makes me sad that I can't talk to Aunt Gladys now and tell her how much I loved watching her work as a boy. Or that I will probably never know who made that quilt. But having these and pulling them out from time to time to admire them makes me very, very happy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Flaps Down

I started a new project this week -- the first one I've started in quite some time. I'm using leftover yarn from the Hillhead Slipover to make a Polar Chullo. I don't think this 40-something is going to be able to make a chullo work as a fashion accessory, but I'm hoping a niece or nephew likes it.

The very first step in the process is knitting the ear flaps. The pattern calls for knitting them flat. I started doing that and quickly became frustrated after a few rows. I have such a hard time purling with my right hand, and although I've done it before, I had yarn dominance issues and I hated it. It felt so weird.

Then I realized I didn't have to strand flat! I started over, knitting in the round, and adding steeks between the two sides. It used more yarn, but it went faster. By this afternoon, I had both flaps done, and all I had to do was cut the steeks and over stitch the edges to stop unravelling -- not a major issue with this yarn, but the flaps are going to pass throigh my hands a lot in the upcoming knitting, and I wanted to play it safe. Plus, I plan to sew some fleece to the insides so tidiness is not a major concern.

Now on to the more interesting parts of the hat. One concern is that the two shades of blue aren't contrasted enough. But even in the called-for colors, the flaps aren't as visually interesting as the top paet of the hat, so I'm going to keep going with what I've got.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

55 Christmas Balls

The original plan was to have these done shortly before Christmas. Okay, so I'm a little ahead of schedule!

Last night, I finished the last ball, Thirteenth Day Kari. I'm kind of surprised at how quickly this project went, although, like many projects, I did tend to tackle it in bursts. Once i had the main pattern down pat, I could almost do these in my sleep. The main thing I needed to know was what row the contrasting yarn started on, and then I could just take off. The last one I did was finished in just a few hours. As I wrapped this up, I thought about all the possibilities for making one's own designs that would fit inside this format.

I have my favorites. The snowflake patterns from the beginning of the set still captivate me. I find myself drawn to the ones with traditional patterns and motifs over the ones with figurative themes -- although that squirrel is darned cute.

I'm glad I used beads rather than gluing on the crystals. One summer of storage in a hot Texas garage, and I would have had a box of ornaments sitting on a bed of rattly sequins. But I do think that maybe I overdid them a bit on a few of the designs. Towards the end of the project I found myself wanting to use them less and less. Still, I can't wait to see if they sparkle as much as I hope they will once they are on a tree with lots of lights.

I used the examples in the book when determining what colors to use. Hence the red and white (plus green in one instance). I've always liked the idea of a limited palette for decorating a tree, and I thought, "here's my chance." Jeff suggested I do some of them in a navy or dark green color, which I agree would look nice -- and some day I may get around to doing that. I'm not averse to the idea. In fact, there is a picture of a tree with 1300 julekuler on it in many colors that looks quite fabulous. For now, 55 is a nice number.

Thanks for following along as I made these. I can highly recommend them as a project. Now all that remains is one more set of pictures, but those will have to wait for later in the year. Martha was kind to point out that there are similar Advent and Easter projects designed by Arne & Carlos and some of the designs look really cool. I probably didn't need to know about this!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I'll Be Darned

In the process of de-cluttering this summer, I've been going through boxes of things inherited from my mother and grandmother. I've been throwing a few things out, but mostly just trying to get better organized. Today, I ran across this -- a sock darner.

The archaeologist in me thinks that the layer in which it was situated would indicate that this belonged to my dad's mother. Which makes the family historian in me snicker. Because my maternal grandmother was the crafty one -- not Grandma. I know that she could sew. Her high school scrapbook is filled with references to a sewing club that only ever seemed to have picnics and go swimming. But I never saw her sew, or knit, for that matter. Much less darn a pair of socks. Perhaps this belonged to her mother? My great-grandma could do just about anything. I wouldn't be surprised if it was hers. Alas, there's no one left to ask about its provenance.

In any case, this little sock darner was well-used at some point. The finish on the rounded end is quite worn. And there are some dents in one side that lead me to believe that some child, probably my dad, used it to whack things with. I have no idea how to use one of these myself, but I know at least one of my readers has taken a class in sock darning. In fact, that's the reason I was able to recognize what this is. Maybe she can show me how to darn socks some day?

Back to organizing. Who knows what else I might find?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kalajoki Socks

I've been focused on other things besides knitting lately. Sadly, this often happens at this time of year. For when the thermometer goes way up and the weather is sizzling hot, a fool, for his wool, is not. I've been doing yard work, cleaning out closets (ahem), getting rid of unneeded junk, getting new flooring put in, and trying to take care of all those little things that need to get done before the new academic year begins.

However, I did manage to finish the socks that I cast on for nearly a month ago with the yarn i got in Denver. In the last two days I knit the heel flap, turned the heel, decreased the gusset and finished the toe of the left sock. And, miracle of miracles, I managed to keep my instructions and charts straight between the two. Not so easy when the chart for the left sock is on the right side of the page and vice-versa. Seriously.

They're snug, like I like, but an extra 4 stitches circumference might have helped. They slip on and off alright, if I can just remember that there is a left and right sock in this pair. And I think I've mentioned before that my rivers could have been wider even than the small expansion I allowed. My only concern now is that the stretchy river mouths are right across my big toes and I see some potential for fast wear there. Always worry about something, no?

Now, I need to buckle down and finish those last five Christmas balls.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Reindeer Pause

This week has been busy with genealogy projects, including photographing and adding interments at a country cemetery. But, I was also able to get through the chapter on reindeer ornaments.

I liked these designs, but as a group, I don't feel I excecuted them very well. Something about the really long floats over several rows, mixed with my lame right-handed tension, made for some puckered surfaces. I also didn't stuff these as tightly for some reason -- as if fiber fill was some sort of priceless commodity. Maybe I'm just getting sloppy as I get toward the end of this project. Must keep that in check.

First was the Reindeer Heart, a cool motif that could have gone as easily into the chapter on hearts. If you squint just right it kind of looks like a flaming Sacred Heart. Then, in a nod to non-Norwegian Christmas kitsch, a design called Rudolph. I couldn't not put a red bead on its nose, could I? I also added beads for the eyes, but the net effect was to make it look like the deer is crying -- or like it's been shot. Poor Rudolph. You deserve better.

The next one is just called Reindeer. Not much to describe, but I did like how leaving the legs on the far side of the deer detached from the body by one stitch lent a bit of three-dimensionality to the design. Not much, but it helps. And lastly, a Running Reindeer. I filled all the white stitches in the border and the three on each deer's body with crystal beads -- 60 beads in all. I think that's a record. Hope it doesn't snap off a branch.


Only 5 more balls to go!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Socks, Squirrels & Straw Bucks

This summer break has been filed with lots of activities, and I haven't been hitting the knitting as much as I'd like. But I have made a bit of progress this week.

Most notably, I completed a few more Christmas Balls after a few weeks of drought. I finished up the chapter on animals with two patterns, both of which I decided to leave unbeaded. First we have The Squirrel with its over-the-top bushy tale. I kind of wanted to add a little acorn, but the seam would have messed with it and I decided to leave well enough alone. The designers said they got the idea for this motif from a knitted children's sweater they ran across. I figure when (not if) Kate decides to eat one of these ornaments, it will be this one depicting her backyard arch-nemesis.

Next was something called The Straw Buck. Apparently, little (or big!) goats made out of bundles of straw are a traditional Scandinavian Christmas decorating tradition. I'd never heard of this, but there are many examples to be found on the web. Now to me, "buck" would denote a deer of some sort, but Wikipedia says goat. And bock beer often has a goat on the label. And this little guy does seem to have a bit of a beard. The Wikipedia article mentions pranking neighbors by putting a julebukk in their yard. Some friends and I once did something similar with a deer made out of sticks and logs -- you know who you are! -- so maybe I've absorbed a Scandinavian Christmas tradition without knowing it.

And this week, I finished the first of the Kalajoki socks. Modeling shots will follow once the pair is finished, but I wanted to show the clever "anatomical toe." You know the standard toe in which you decrease every other round? To do an anatomical toe, you decrease evey other round on the big toe side, but decrease every round on the pinky toe side. Neat! Not necessary, but very easy to do -- and probably equally easy to screw up if you're not paying attention. We'll see.

Now we're off to celebrate our 8th anniversary (thanks, Canada!) with a fancy dinner.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


Dave, one of the talented and stalwart knitters in our men’s knitting group, brought a cake to the meeting today. And to think I almost didn’t go – I had gotten on a bit of an online genealogy binge, and had a hard time tearing myself away. But I’m so, so glad I did. There were only three of us at the meetup today, so we had a bit of help eating it. Strawberries and cake and whipped cream and cream cheese and kirsch – how could it be bad? I had seconds. There, I said it.

And I’m getting ready for seconds on my Kalajoki Socks. I figure I’m going to do one half of the pattern rounds again (18), and then start decreasing for the toes. I may have mentioned that these are left and right-footed, so I have to be sure and get them right. I’ve tried them on and they fit like a glove, although I’m a little dismayed at a strange run that appears between my SSKs on the left gusset.

You may have noticed that the cuff looks a little longer than the last time. After knitting the heel flap and turning the heel, I thought the cuff looked awfully short. I weighed my remaining yarn and made an executive decision to rip back the heel and put in another 33-round pattern repeat. I’m glad I did. I think it looks way better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A River Runs Through Them

I was itching to get back on the sock knitting horse after my recent disappointment, and also wanting to,use some of the BFL sock yarn I got last week in Colorado, so I cast on for the Kalajoki pattern yesterday. It's a translated Finnish pattern, named after a river in that country.

I originally planned to knit these on 2.5mm needles, but switched to my usual 2mm after seeing how drapey the fabric was. The pattern calls for a thicker yarn on 54 stitches, so I upped it to 72 -- my standard for sock yarn on my feet. I did a bit of math and figured an added ridge in the river pattern would be proportional, although now that I've done it, I can see that two additional ridgess would have looked fine. My "river" looks more centered than others, but I'm OK with that.

A little creative mathematics got me through the heel flap and around the heel turn, where I stopped to take the picture at the left. This pair will have an "anatomical toe," different for the left and right feet. I'm looking forward to seeing how that works.

In reference to the disappointment mentioned above, Amy had an excellent suggestion. I added an I-cord loop to my single red sock and have repurposed it as a Christmas stocking. So practical! Perfect for any guests staying at Christmastime -- or as a gift. Thank you, Amy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sock Blocked

Actually, I haven't even bothered to block it. I'm referring to a different kind of blocking.

I knew I was asking for it on this project. It called for over 500 yards of yarn and my skein only had 462. So I thought that by shortening it, I would come out okay. I did leave out a few repeats, but I should have separated the skein out into two equal-weight balls beforehand. The finished first sock weighs 52 grams and I have 48 grams left. There will be no second sock.

But, I learned some cool techniques and got some practice memorizing a lace pattern. The three part star-shaped toe with the mercifully rare P3tog was only slightly maddening. Working on this got me to thinking about socks again, which I haven't been knitting enough of lately. Perhaps I'll get started on some with the new yarn I picked up in Boulder. I'm thinking of making the Kalajoki pattern -- it's been in my queue a while and should look nice in a bluish green. I'll need to look into upsizing them for manly Flintstone feet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Knitting on the Road

We've been in Denver attending the 2012 GALA Festival this week. We sang, we danced, and we've listened to a lot of great choral music. But I've also managed to get a bit of knitting and yarn shopping in.

Before leaving Austin, I cast on for a pair of Gentlemen's Socks for Evening Wear from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. It feels like it's been forever since I've knitted socks. I'm using some wine-red Knit Picks Essential that I picked up at a yarn swap a few months back. Not exactly my color, and not exactly my style. These are awfully lacey for most gentlemen I know, but I suppose they were just the thing for Victorian dandies out on the town. One could make the case that, as laces go, this window-pane pattern is more masculine than some. I'll make them, but I don't know if I'll make them work.

The pattern is written for three needles, and although I usually use magic loop for socks, I'm toeing the line here. Past experience with patterns from this book taught me to do what I'm told. It's easier, and Ms. Bush hasn't steered me wrong yet. I have had some near disasters with 36 stitches crammed onto a 6-inch needle, though.

This morning, we took a break from the music and went with some friends up to Boulder for a few hours. We strolled around some shops and I just happened to stumble into Gypsy Wools. All the yarn there is hand painted or hand dyed by the owner, and the colors were amazing. There many examples of yarns you don't always find, and I picked up two hanks of sock yarn in both a dark gray and a steel blue bordering on turquoise made out of superwash Blue Faced Leicester. It's a nice little shop with friendly staff and an amazing array of colors. Also, they have lots of tops top and roving for spinners. (Did I use those terms correctly?)

We head back to Texas, and the heat, tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Over the past few weeks, in the midst of wrapping up the sweater vest, I worked on the next set of Christmas Balls in the chapter of Religious motifs. As religious themes, none of these seem particularly Christmas-y to me -- and several seem downright Easter-y. But who's to say? I suppose if you live in a country where Easter is as likely to be as snowy as Christmas, a little blurring of the symbolism is allowed.


First up is a Crown, which I bedazzled to the nth degree. The beads around the brow section are silver, with all the rest red. The next ball is a Lily pattern across two panels. It doesn't show in the photo, but the lilies to the left and right of the visible one point down rather than up. It looks like I may have had a tension issue with this one -- I see a bit of a pucker on the right.


Next are a Butterfly and an Anchor. The butterfly's wing spots consisted of three white stitches. I couldn't decide which of them deserved beads -- so I did them all. This may cross the line from flashy to trashy, but there you go. The anchor was tough because of the long floats.


And finally, a Greek Cross on a red background (my personal favorite of this bunch) and a Crown & Heart design. I like the heart, although it rides low in the design and was hard to capture. The crown on the first pattern is preferable to this one, I think. This one looks like a Dalek. And everyone knows that hearts and Daleks don't really mix, much less Daleks and Christmas -- except when they do...


Friday, June 22, 2012

Hillhead Finale

At long last, after three months, the Hillhead Slipover from Ann Feitelson's The Art of Fair Isle Knitting is complete!

Although I finished it last weekend, I didn't want to model it until I'd bought a new blue dress shirt and my first ever real bow tie -- and then learned how to tie it. I was able to get the shopping done this afternoon, after which I rushed home to watch some YouTube bow tie directions. I wanted to do it all today while it was still "just" in the mid-90s. It's gonna get hot this weekend, and Tuesday's high is expected to be 108. I know wool is supposed to be fire-resistant, but really...

Turns out tying a bow tie is very similar to tying one's shoes -- only with really fat laces that you can only see in a mirror. I think I'm pretty close to getting it right.

This sweater is everything I hoped. I love the colors, I got gauge by swatching thoughtfully, I made a modification in length that was sorely needed, and, despite needing to purchase an extra ball of one color, I still have enough yarn left over to make a Polar Chullo for some lucky soul with a smaller melon than mine.

Whew! It's good to be done with the wad of wool on my lap for now. Now all I have to do is await some cooler weather so I can wear this thing, bow tie or not. And my other project is just the thing to bring on thoughts of wintry weather.

Stay cool!