Saturday, January 28, 2012


It’s been a weird knitting week. I’ve grabbed some time here in there, getting a bit of progress done on the Christmas Balls, and even more on the Men’s Sweater.

Up to this point, I’ve been knitting flat. With eight stitches added every other row, the growth in width is rapid. After a foot or so, the instructions tell you to join the two halves together and continued knitting in the round. Yay! This means I don’t have to do nearly as much purling. I’m a much slower at purling than knitting, so I’m already making great progress. In fact, soon, I should be getting to the point where the sleeves happen. So far, I’ve been through three balls – it feels like I’m really tearing through the yarn on this project. I suppose I’m unfairly comparing it to the Christmas Balls, where it looks like I’ve barely made a dent in the yarn.


I finished up two more balls this week, finishing the chapter on Children’s mittens. The one on the left is called, simply, Mitten. It was the first ball in which the pattern color crept to close the cast-on and bind-off ends. The second, Dovre, is based on a motif common in Norwegian knitting, and was inspired by a jacket worn by one of the authors’ grandfather. I liked it because there weren’t any long floats, and every fourth row was solid white.

I’m on hold for a bit with the Christmas Balls right now. I’ve caught up to mid-February on my schedule. I was trying to strike while the iron was hot, but the next pattern is a tri-color one, and I didn’t have any suitable color to go with it. Some green yarn is on order, and I’ll pick up again when it arrives. In the meantime, I’m going to try and make us much progress as I can on the sweater. And speaking of sweaters, I wore my Vaila Slipover today, and it made me very happy. I’m thinking of knitting  another one from The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. I’m going to take a look at some yarn options right now…

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Half Dozen

I’ve gone to town on the Christmas balls these past two weekends, and I’m caught up on my ball-a-week schedule that I set back in mid-December.

The patterns in the group are grouped in themes. The first five comprise the chapter called It will be Christmas soon and are all snow-themed. In order, from left to right, the patterns are called Snow Crystal, Frost, Snowflakes, New Snow and Snowman.



Last night I made the first in the next section, Children’s mittens. They are all taken from motifs found in mitten patterns. The first one is the Eight-Petal Rose, and is from a pattern on a child’s mitten that the authors found in the handcraft shop of the Norwegian Handcraft Association in Kristiansand.

I’m not sure if the knitted-in beads are working quite the way I expected. Close-up, they are always a little off, either sitting above or below (usually) the stitch that’s squished through them. You can see this with the silver bead in the center in the picture of the Eight-Petal Rose ball on the right. I’m hoping that when these are on a lighted tree, they’ll provide sparkle in the right places. Close up, they kind of create a blurred, jittery effect that I hope won’t be as noticeable from a distance. Perhaps I’m thinking about this too much.

So far, the Eight-Petal Rose has been my favorite. I think it’s the balance of red and white, plus, I like symmetry. The Snowman was the first one that wasn’t symmetrical from the center of the pattern, so, despite it’s spare-ness, it took a bit more concentration. Also, there were some crazy-long floats to manage in that one.

I’m still working on the men’s sweater, although the more increases I put in, the longer it takes to get across each row. The mittens, alas, are on hiatus for right now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning to Knit a Men’s Sweater

I’ve already knit sweaters for myself and Jeff, so I have knit a few men’s sweaters, but not like this one. There a lot of techniques that are new to me in this pattern, and I’m learning a lot already.

The design is called Learn to Knit a Men’s Sweater and was created by my good friend, knitting buddy, and foster mom to our sweet, sweet Pona, Staci of Very Pink.

Staci uses a very cool teaching and pricing model for her designs. She offers videos for free, some for basic techniques, and some specific to patterns she produces. So if you buy the pattern, you have high-quality, ready-made videos at your fingertips to help you along. It’s a great idea, and I’ve already found the videos quite helpful. Here, Staci introduces the techniques and tutorials at her Very Pink YouTube Channel:


Very Pink Channel Intro


I’m making the extra-large version, and I’m using around 16 balls of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tweed in Prussian Heather. This picture skews a bit toward the purple, but the color is really more of a slatey-blue.

There is so much to this pattern that is new to me in a sweater – top-down construction (not very common in the men’s patterns I’ve seen), an I-cord edge that is knitted as you go, and that new method of knitting the zipper in, rather than sewing it. I can’t wait to get to that part!

Three projects on the needles at once. I’m out of control.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Down, 54 To Go

The yarn for my Christmas ball project finally arrived, and I got started yesterday. Today, I have my first one finished. A little behind schedule, but I’m happy that I’ve begun.

Arne & Carlos, in their book, suggest gluing what they term crystals on to some of the designs to give them a bit of sparkle. I can’t imagine anything glued to knitting actually staying. Also, this looked a bit like bedazzling to me, and I wanted something classier. I’d run across a technique for adding beads to knitting using a crochet hook, so I decided to do that. Thing is, I don’t know squat about beads.

Luckily, Donna, a friend and work colleague, does know about beads. So we went shopping yesterday afternoon at Nomadic Notions and got some very nice glass Czech beads in red, clear/silver and gold. I have some very tiny crochet hooks that once belonged to my great-grandmother and were given to me by my aunt, and they’re doing just the trick. Some of the beads’ holes are too small for the hook, but I have enough beads that this shouldn't be a problem. In any case, I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

I used some acrylic stuffing for the balls, although Arne & Carlos call for using wool batting. They claim that it makes for a more uniform filling. I did have a few lumps and bumps in this one, so I might try that. Also, my crochet chain for the loop at the top is twisting in on itself. Do any crocheters know what this means? Wrong hook size? Do I need to go up or down in size? Not a problem when it’s actually hanging from a bough, I imagine, but it would be nice to know.

I’m going to start another one right now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I’m really excited about two projects that I want to get started, but the yarn hasn’t arrived. In fact, although I ordered it nearly a week ago, it still hasn’t shipped. Grrrr.

So, because I needed something to work on, I decided to tackle another pair of mittens from the Woodland Winter Mittens kit, which I purchased from the same company that hasn’t shipped my order. What strange power do they have over me?

This is the 4th of the 6 winter month patterns – March. Regular readers will know that I’ve already completed October, January and February. October, November and December are my favorite designs, but I’m saving the latter two for later. I do really like the color palette of the March mittens. Very brown and green.

The March pattern features bulbs pushing out of the ground. The picture here shows the patterned palm side. It’s not easily memorize-able, so I’m having to pay close attention. But, I started this Tuesday afternoon and have been able to get this much done in two evenings of knitting. As in the October pair, I’m going to try and add a few stitches to the thumbs to make them a little more roomy.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Unmatched Game 2012

As I took this final picture of the pair of Movember Mystery Socks, which finished this morning, I immediately realized that the two skeins of one-of-a-kind Lorna’s Laces sock yarn were each one-of-a-kind. Although they use the same colors, one of them definitely has more of a darker shade to it. They’re not the same color at all. It wasn’t noticeable at all until fabric was knit up from the two skeins. Kind of maddening. But then again, it’s only noticeable in bright natural light, so I’m just going to ignore it. I don’t think anyone will notice, especially when they’re on my feet and in side a pair of shoes.

Give this free pattern a try. It’s very clear, and the instructions are both charted and written out, depending on your preference. I usually prefer charts, but I found that I switched back and forth – I found the charts easier for the leg, but switched to the longer written instructions for the patterning across the top of the foot. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I really like how the little ogee motifs grow out of the ribbing. Integrating the ribbing at the top into the pattern is a very clever design move. There are a few holes created by an increase that makes three stitches out of one in several places, but they don’t bother me too much.

I was finally able to order some yarn for the Christmas balls. I had planned to get started on that weeks ago, so that year-long project is already several weeks off schedule. At the same time, I ordered some blue yarn for a sweater for me based on a Staci Perry design. I can’t wait to get started on both! Stay tuned for pictures and details…

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year

I started off the new year by finishing a sock. The first Movember Mystery Sock in the mystery Lorna’s Laces colorway is done. I almost knitted it twice.

When I last mentioned this sock. I was almost down to the toe shaping. I’d tried it on several time and was okay with the fit, but the last time I tried, I just had to admit that it was too big. So I ripped the whole thing out and went down from the 2.25mm needles I’d been working with to 2mm. Much better, although the fabric is a bit dense.

So much to love about this sock. I like how the ogee-shaped mustache motif starts in the ribbing, and then continued down the leg in just two places. The first version of the sock had 4 pattern repeats; this one has 5. I don’t mind the little eyelet holes created by making three stitches out of one. This picture shows the foot of the sock a bit distorted so that you can see one of the mustache motifs right on the top of the foot. And the toe decrease is not like one I’ve ever done before. It happens in thirds, and one of the decreases is centered on the bottom of the foot. It’s fairly abrupt, so it has to take place faster than the usual toe one does.

One modification I’m considering for the second sock is doing the improved ssk (slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl, then knit the two stitches together through the back loops) for the travelling stitch down the foot. I don’t think the traditional ssk is matching up well with it’s opposite k2tog.