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August 28, 2009

First sock found

My first sock - from February 2004
My first sock - February 2004

I was on a mission to find this sock the other day because I'd shared with somebody how utterly horrid my very first sock turned out; granted, I didn't think it was horrid at the time, but I do now. I got through the process of knitting it by nurturing a burning desire to be a sock knitter and with Mariann (my ever-patient knitting teacher) telling me that I could do it. This is the pattern she had used to turn others into sock knitters and I think it was a great way to learn sock techniques. It's a worsted-weight washable yarn held double and it becomes a thick crew sock. And, no, I never finished the second sock.

It struck me the other day that there are always going to be new knitters who genuinely want to put in the time and effort to learn how to knit and I never want to forget how it felt to have questions -- to be scared and uncertain. I don't remember if Knitting Help videos were available back when I started learning how to knit socks, but if they were, I'd have watched the ones in the Advanced Techniques section repeatedly! While I'm a huge fan of double-pointed needles for sock knitting, I'm planning to master the other techniques (magic loop, socks on two circulars) so that I can help others who prefer this method and are learning how to knit socks. And I'm even going to try to keep an open mind about an alternate sock-knitting method I've resisted learning so far -- the one in this book.

I know many of you have shared before that you're magic loop fans -- or that you love the two circulars method, but I'm curious to know which sock knitting methods you've tried before you settled on your favorite.

Meanwhile, there's a nearly finished, big-eared sock monkey knit entirely on double-pointed needles waiting to make his debut after he has his photoshoot this weekend -- along with a long and drawn out post about why I wanted to knit a sock monkey in the first place.

Sock Monkey - Monkey Business

August 20, 2009

Monkey Business

The best kind of business is monkey business:

Monkey Business - Paton's Knitting Pamphlet
1. Paton's "Monkey Business", 2. Paton's "Monkey Business", 3. Paton's "Monkey Business"

And so it goes with my love of sock monkeys. This Paton's pattern book, Monkey Business: Knit or Crochet has the cutest patterns; I bought it for the basic sock monkey pattern but the baby monkey (pictured in the top frame above) is pretty adorable too. There's a reggae monkey ("Bob") with dreads, a punk rock monkey ("Sid") with a mohawk, tattoo and "piercing" - and so many more cute ones, including non-monkeys as well. I think I'm going to have to knit one soon.

I also blogged at simplyjanet.com yesterday.

August 07, 2009

100% Cashmere Scarf

Jade Sapphire Keja 100% Mongolian Cashmere

Finished. It's a smallish scarf, but with plenty of knitted fabric surface to keep a chilly neck quite warm. It's outrageously soft and I hope it's well received this winter. The yarn is Jade Sapphire Keja (100% Mongolian cashmere). I don't think that it's a yarn that they carry any longer, but Jade Sapphire now offers cashmere scarf kits -- one for a men's scarf and one for a woman's scarf. The shop got several Cashmere Scarf for Him kits yesterday along with a knitted sample and it's even softer than the one I knit. Several yarn shops now carry the kits, so I hope you get to fondle one in person!

I've made a lot of progress on the summer cardigan I started a couple of weeks ago and since it's such a plain vanilla color and pattern, I'll probably share just one in-progress photo:

Knitting Pure and Simple #221 - Summer Cardigan

You can probably see a little bit of the rowing-out issue that I blogged about several days ago. Most of it is likely to disappear during washing and blocking, and it's slight enough that I won't be disappointed if it doesn't. The bigger disappointment is likely to be that it's going to be too small for me to wear buttoned. (Not a gauge issue, but an issue of my not taking my own measurements before deciding which size to knit). Because I was planning to wear this over a tank or cami anyway, I don't think it will be a problem. However, this project has reaffirmed my love for the classic Addi Turbo circular needles. I love the Addi's blunt tips and the slick needles. Knit Picks' nickel-plated needles are too pointy for me and the Addi Lace needle's brass finish rubs off in my hands. So I'm giving some serious thought now to an Addi Interchangeable Kit. I've learned that needle comfort can make or break my satisfaction with a project -- and for knitting a lot of stockinette, nothing beats the Addi Turbo for me. Your mileage may vary, but I would happily part with my Denise needle set in favor of the Addi Interchangeables.

Lately, something surprising happens when I'm knitting -- I daydream about crocheting. And vice versa; when I'm doing one, I can't wait till I get to do the other! I'm more focused on my knitting now because I want to finish it in order to crochet something. And I still think about knitting socks all the time. I need a sock on the needles to pick up when I want to work on something small and focused -- and I don't have any I'm working on right now, so I need to remedy that. I have plenty of sock yarn stashed and all I need to do is dive deep in my sock yarn basket and pull out the skein I want to cast on. There are so many options, it's hard to focus -- can you tell?

I found a source for the yarn that's comparable to the one I chose for this scarf: Black Pearl 100% Cashmere at One Planet Yarn & Fiber.

August 04, 2009

Susan B's Ripple Afghan Pattern

Although my favorite crocheted ripple pattern is the Soft Waves Ripple, I've had several people contact me requesting free patterns and I found Susan B's appears to be one of the most popular. It's slightly different than the Soft Waves Ripple -- it features pointed peaks rather than a softly rippling pattern. There are a few great examples on Flickr here and here. The Ravelry pattern page is here: Easy Ripple Afghan by SusanB.

FREE Pattern - Susan B's Ripple Afghan

For the basic stitch repeat, I created this .jpg with notes to help you visualize how the pattern works.

Another great free ripple pattern is the one found here at Attic 24. Be prepared to spend some time viewing her awesome projects! She has excellent step-by-step photos and uses the conventional UK crochet instructions in which a Treble (tr) crochet is equivalent to the US Double (dc).

Do you have a favorite crocheted ripple pattern? If so, please share!

I'll be teaching a 2-hour class in September and October based on the Soft Waves Ripple in Jan Eaton's book, 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns: Exciting Patterns to Knit & Crochet for Afghans, Blankets & Throws. If you're local and you already know how to crochet, call the shop and sign up!

August 03, 2009

The cashmere scarf

Yarn: Jade Sapphire "Keja"

Last year about this time, I blogged about the scarf pattern I wrote for Signature Needle Arts. The yarn I used for that scarf was a wonderful merino/cashmere blend in the softest pink color -- I loved it. So when I saw a skein of 100% Mongolian cashmere with the same yardage (200 yards) at half price, I knew exactly what I would knit with it and for whom. This someone adores this color (a deep eggplant) and would feel a single itchy guard hair if it existed at all in a knitted garment -- and there isn't the tiniest itch to this. Knitting it is enjoyable enough that I don't want to put it down.

It's these little luxuries that I enjoy knitting so much -- when a single skein of yarn is so dear and expensive that to knit a sweater with it would be excessive; to knit socks with it would be just silly. But as something to enfold a neck, it's perfect.

The project bag I'm using is a new favorite: Pretty Cheep Project Bag. I've given these as gifts, and finally got one of my own when the shop got the bright green.