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April 07, 2010

Lovey Dovey Top

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I really didn't have a reason to knit this little baby top (and let me tell you -- my knitting so many baby things has raised a few eyebrows around here lately)! There are no impending births in my family that I know of, but I've been wanting to knit this little top since the pattern and yarn arrived at Twisted Yarns. I had what I hoped was enough leftover yarn from my Summer Cardi, so all I had to buy was one skein of the "Grass" colorway. Not only did I still not use all my leftover "Ice Cream" colorway, I still have some of the "Grass" left now too (not a lot - but enough for a little softie I have in mind).

This knit was so fun! Obviously, there was no pressure to start or finish it, but I finished it quickly anyway. I started it late Saturday during a movie and finished it last night. One of the best features of the top is the turned hem:

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I've only done a hem like this once -- on a swatch, and not a finished garment -- so it was great to learn it on something small so I'll feel comfortable when I incorporate a turned hem into a bigger project. Here's what it looks like on the wrong side (inside) of the top:

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I enjoy this yarn so much - especially knitting in the round with it. It's comparable in weight to Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton but it has a smoother appearance and doesn't shed as much while you knit with it. I can't wait to try it in some crochet projects too.

I'll leave you with a thought for today from my daughter: "Have high hopes and low expectations."

More finished knits coming soon!

April 02, 2010

Lucy Bag :: Felted

Lucy Bag
Pattern: Lucy, Two Old Bags

This has long been one of the most popular felted bag patterns at the shop and although several friends of mine had knit them over the years, I wasn't especially inspired until this Cascade 220 color came in to the shop:

Cascade 220 Birch Heather
Cascade 220, Birch Heather

I love this golden color with bits of red in it. I've since seen it knit here and here and it's confirmed my hopeless attraction to all the Cascade 220 Heathers. I wasn't sure that I could (or would) wear a garment in this color, but knitting a bag was a great opportunity to experience it.

Thank you all so much for the comments you've left on my previous entries about my new scarf patterns, the sheep afghan we knit for Shelley, my sister's new blog, and the entry about my lost uncle. You all are very kind and generous and I appreciate your sticking with me while I went through a bit of a lull in posting blog entries. Lots of stuff was going on behind the scenes -- some knitting-related, some not -- and it's kept me away more than I'd like. But I love blogging and sharing with you and I'm looking forward to revealing a lot of fun projects in the days and weeks ahead.

What's been up with you? What are you knitting? What are you reading?

March 26, 2010

Spring and Scarves

Happy Spring! It's been gorgeous here in SE Texas and everything is starting to bloom. I love seeing the fat little robins every morning and everything is looking so fresh and green.

Leaf Lace Scarf - Knit Picks Independent Designer Program

I can finally share the project I alluded to in this entry last month. It's another version, slightly revised, of the Leaf Lace Scarf. For this scarf, I used the new Knit Picks Shadow Lace Tonal in the Gypsy colorway. It was really lovely yarn and my first time knitting with their lace weight merino. I'd use it again in a heartbeat.

Leaf Lace Scarf II

The pattern can be purchased from Knit Picks or via Ravelry. They're both downloads, so whichever one you choose, you can cast on right away!

When I sent my finished red scarf to Knit Picks, I knew I'd have to wait for the release of the new tonal yarns before my pattern would show up on the site, so I cast on for a scarf I could wear right away. I knit the Spring Festival Scarf with Noro Sekku, their lace weight (or more appropriately -- cobweb) self-striping yarn, it's a light and airy spring/summer scarf. You really do have to love Noro to enjoy this yarn though. The thick/thin slubs are a challenge with yarn overs and one has to be really okay with imperfection. It was worth it for me - I love wearing this scarf.

Noro Sekku :: Spring Festival

The pattern is also available for purchase and download via Ravelry. If you knit one of these new scarves, I'd love to see it!

February 15, 2010

Red lace :: a glimpse of knitting

A glimpse . . .

Here's photographic proof that I'm still knitting. I'm completely absorbed in this and another special project (or two) and will be back to share more about it all very soon. I've been nurturing some long-suppressed ambition and it's already been fruitful.

And I have a new header; now that I'm crocheting more, I figured it was time to honor that as well. Can you tell that I can't get enough red these days? I've got an "in-between" project to work on after I complete this lacy one -- and it's red too!

This quick blog entry is also a request for your feedback about my blog photos. Do you prefer the old method of smaller, "framed" photos or the newer one with larger photos that link to their corresponding Flickr pages? I have a preference - I'm just curious what my readers think.

January 21, 2010

You may be right . . .

Dream in Color Knitosophy Butterfly
You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just might be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

(Lyrics, Billy Joel, You May be Right)

It was about four years ago that I finished my first pair of handknit socks and last night I had a dream about knitting socks -- particularly about starting a new sock when I already had single socks waiting for their mates to be knit (that's actually true, by the way). However, in my dream, I was experiencing the absolute joy and freedom of starting a brand new sock, shamelessly and totally guilt free. I woke up thinking how crazy that probably is to most people -- not to mention that non-knitters don't get the whole handknit sock thing in the first place. (Those who wrinkle their noses at my handknit socks simply don't get them as gifts. Their loss). There are no knitting police, but there are often haughty knitters who remind you that you already have single socks that need their mates. And yes, I already know about the concept of two-at-a-time socks. I have some on the needles now!

All I know is that when I saw my first handknit socks, I had to learn how to knit them. It took me a solid year -- perhaps almost two years -- to grasp the concept and actually learn how to knit them. Undeniably, it was one of the most difficult things for me to learn how to do, but I figured it out and count it among my proudest achievements. Sadly, somewhere along the way, I began experiencing the guilt (again, from other knitters . . . not from the loved ones who would eventually GET my handknit socks) about the unfinished pairs. I started feeling guilty about casting on and some of the pride of finishing a single beautiful sock was diminished by the finger-pointers. You see, I can finish a single sock -- the first sock -- rather quickly. I enjoy the entire process, start-to-finish (yes, even the grafting -- now one of my favorite parts, as a I always knit cuff-to-toe). But when one sock is finished, I desperately want to start another in an entirely different sock yarn. Yet I don't. Because of the guilt. Holy cow. How insane is that?

I'm starting another sock.

Continue reading "You may be right . . ." »

January 12, 2010

Knit a Vest

Noro Retro Ribbed Vest Green
[Ravelry] [Flickr]
Yarn: Noro Retro
Pattern: V-Neck Shell in Knitting Noro: The Magic of Knitting with Hand-dyed Yarns, by Jane Ellison

I've been wanting to knit a vest forever -- specifically, a ribbed, v-neck vest. I cleaned out my favorites on Ravelry last night and noticed SO MANY vest patterns in my faves. (Of course, viewing my faves was a mistake . . . this entry would have been written last night had I not gotten sidetracked viewing my faves and your faves too!)

But back to vests. I love them, but hadn't knit one yet. This was my first. I love that a vest keeps me warm but not too warm. And when I saw this deep green Noro Retro, I immediately envisioned using it for a ribbed vest. The Jane Ellison pattern book was the inspiration, but while I love it, it's not suited for knitters who like a lot of clear and accurate instructions. For that, I recommend The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges, by Ann Budd.

I'm planning to knit another vest soon -- but with a heathered worsted weight yarn and the basic v-neck vest pattern in this booklet. I'm looking at a lot of patterns I might have avoided had I not discovered that I really enjoy seaming -- specifically, mattress stitch. It's really kind of magical and I enjoy the process.

When I was a teenager, I remember falling in love with a colorful striped sweater I found in an upscale shop, but my mom pointed out that the stripes didn't match up front to back and that it was a sign of poor workmanship. If she saw this vest, it would probably drive her crazy. There's a subtle striping effect from where the fibers change and the stripes in front don't match the ones in the back. Although I could have knit this in the round, I actually wanted wider stripes instead of the narrower ones that would have resulted from circular knitting. Now that I know what I'm doing, I have another vest to finish -- the Gesta Vest that I started quite a while ago, but avoided finishing completely because it called for a single crochet edging around the neckline. I can totally do that now - easy peasy.

December 12, 2009

Happy Holidays - 2009 edition

Happy Holidays to all my loyal readers and friends! We're anticipating all the festivities here and have plans for some new traditions. I hope it all comes together.

We had an ornament exchange at the shop and I'm kicking myself for not taking photos of each ornament - all of them were handmade and adorable! Most of them were knitted and one was smocked. And now that the exchange has taken place, I can finally reveal the one I made:

Holiday Sweater, Berroco Minutia
[Ravelry] [Flickr]

The pattern is a free Berroco pattern and part of their annual "Minutia" patten collection:

Minutia
Minutia 2008
Minutia 2009

The first time I knit one (same pattern), I used worsted weight yarn and it looks a bit more dense and full than the one I knit with a lighter worsted weight. Here's the first one:

Holiday Sweater - Berocco Minutia

I made some mistakes on it, so I kept it for my own tree. I have another one almost finished and seamed (using a different pattern) and I'll share that one when it's finished. It's ridiculous how much I enjoyed making them!

And the one I got? A sweet little elf, full of personality and sass:

Spud_and _Chloe_Elf.jpg

Here's his free pattern on the Spud & Chloë blog: Tiny Elf

So if I don't manage to get back here before the end of the month, Happy Holidays and Happy 82nd birthday to my Dad today:

Dad


November 15, 2009

November knitting, crochet, and more

The things I want to finish . . .

currently in progress

. . . so I can start these:

Ravelry Queue

I've had a difficult month trying to figure things out and rearrange some priorities. However, knitting and crocheting have been among the few calming things I get to do -- when I get to do them. One of the milestones I've hit is that as of the first of November, I've worked at Twisted Yarns for 5 years. In a month, I'll have been knitting 6 years. In the scheme of things, I've not been knitting very long at all, so it surprises me when non-knitters make assumptions about me based on my hobbies. There's still a lot more to me than my claim to knitting as just one of my many passions. I challenge you to get to know the person behind the knitter. I think I've tried writing about this before -- about all these assumptions one can make about people when they don't make an effort to get to know them beyond their hobbies.

I'm grateful for the diversity among knitters and fiber enthusiasts and the opportunity I have to spend my time working with friends who are among the women I admire the most. I get to meet people who enrich my life beyond a simple sales transaction. I get to teach a skill and end up learning more in the process. I get to support an industry comprised of many women-owned businesses and business cooperatives in developing countries. You do know that there are excellent alternatives to yarn purchased in big-box stores and craft chains, right? I hope so. I hope that if it's your desire to support small businesses in your communities that you're spending your hard-earned dollars in places that matter - places that put money and time back into your community.

That's what this knitter is about . . . in case you were wondering.

November 02, 2009

Which Ewe are You?

Perendale
Take the Which Ewe are You? Quiz

October 08, 2009

Mystery Knit and Outlander

Chic Knits Mini Mystery Knit-along and Kindle

On Saturday, I'll get the final clue for the Chic Knits Mini Mystery Knit-Along. I am loving the project and SO excited about finishing it. It reaffirms my love (yet again) for Cascade 220 - especially the heathered colors.

I've finished the first book in the Outlander series and have started the second book, Dragonfly in Amber. I'm definitely hooked, but I know I'm late to the party - how many of you have already read them?

By the way, for those of you considering a Kindle*, the prices have dropped again. I love mine and have enjoyed the ease (and instant gratification) of ordering the books I want to read. I'm never without a good book anymore. It came in handy at the doctor's office last week when I didn't have a project on the needles that I wanted to take with me.

Continue reading "Mystery Knit and Outlander" »

October 01, 2009

A knit-along and return to routine

ChicKnits MM KAL.jpg

The shop where I work is now carrying a line of patterns I've been hoping for -- Chic Knits. At least three of my co-workers are knitting the Basic Chic Hoodie and the one I've seen of Alisa's (knit with Rowan Lima) is gorgeous! However, if you rush to the shop to buy patterns -- they've nearly run out! (Please ask them to order more!)

I've been getting Bonne Marie's email notifications for a while now and recently, she announced a new pattern for a Mini Mystery Knit-along. Sign-ups for the mini knit-along ended on September 25th and she released the first of three clues the following day. I had yarn in my stash that was perfect for it and cast on immediately - it's the heathery pumpkin-colored Cascade 220 in the photo above.

And I have to share how happy I've been with my new Ravelry Queue discipline. I'm limiting my queue to things I intend to cast on within a 3- to 4-month period. And I've tried to make a reasonable guess as to when I will cast on and the order in which I intend to knit (or crochet) them. Everything else that used to reside in my Queue goes into my Ravelry Favorites. While this is working well for me - your mileage may vary. The best benefit is that It keeps me from inevitable distraction and I love that.

If I wasn't doing this, I'm sure I would feel too overwhelmed to start any knit-alongs, but now my queue's no longer impossibly ambitious and guilt-inducing. There's plenty of room in there to start a small project in between the planned "big" ones. So therefore, when I was reading Lolly's big announcement of the Fifth Annual Socktoberfest celebration, I was excited to click over to the Through the Loops' Socktoberfest Mystery Sock. I'm joining in the fun this year for the first time. Are you participating in Socktoberfest? As a reminder, Socktoberfest is more than a knit-along -- in fact, it's anything sock-related that you want to make it! After all the illness and drama we had in September, I'm just thrilled to make it to October -- and that's part of what I'm celebrating as I participate in the knit-along.


September 22, 2009

Knitting Pure & Simple :: Summer Cardigan

Knitting Pure & Simple Summer Cardigan #221
[Ravelry] for more details

My blogging has been infrequent since I've been focused on knitting productivity. I've been trying to discipline myself to stick with one project until I've completed it (not so easy when I'm addicted to starting new things). If you're on Flickr, you'll see that I've shared more in-progress photos over there, but there's only so much you can blog about a plain vanilla sweater. I used to own a cozy 100% cotton roll neck sweater that I bought at J. Crew in the early 90's. I loved that sweater and this summer cardi was inspired by it - it's the same color and nearly the same texture. And since shifting my focus to knitting (and crocheting) things I can wear, I've possibly solved my wardrobe deficit. Perhaps I can get away with just purchasing new shoes and new jeans -- and making the Fall sweaters and tops myself. For upcoming knits, I'm sticking with a palette of dark neutrals and have already chosen yarn and patterns. My Ravelry queue is up-to-date if you'd like to check it out.

Knitting Pure & Simple Cardigan with buttons
Remember the buttons?

I was delighted with this basic little cardigan. I'll definitely wear it, but it's purpose is also to serve as a template for future sweaters. This one's a little short and has no shaping whatsoever, but I can attempt that the next time I knit this pattern and make my own improvements.

September 07, 2009

The lull between projects

Everything came to a halt last week when I caught a cold and the last bit of sock monkey assembly had to wait. I'm delighted with him -- even his silly oversized ears. (I'll re-do his ears some day, but for now, they stay. My ears are big too). I attached his arms only to take them off to try to figure out a more elegant way to seam them. There's not much in the book in the way of instruction.

Thank you all for sharing your sock-knitting techniques and preferred tools! I'm keeping an open mind and expanding my horizons. I want to at least have a solid understanding of techniques beyond double-pointed needles, so I'm challenging myself to try different techniques. Ann, my co-worker at Twisted Yarns, sat down with me a little over a week ago and taught me the two socks on two circulars method. The objective is to have a finished pair of socks when you've completed all the knitting -- no more second sock syndrome! Unlike the two-at-a-time on ONE circular, the two distinct circular needles makes everything a little easier to keep track of and like she described to me, two circulars gives you an "escape route" should you need it. I didn't get to work on them at all last week, but I'm past the ribbing and ready to start knitting the plain portion of the sock.

Two socks on two circs

You can also use this technique to knit two sleeves at once -- it's the same concept! It does take a little more time, but you simply keep your eyes on the prize - a matching finished PAIR of socks (or sleeves).

Here's the yarn I'm using:

Crystal Palace Mini Mochi

It's Crystal Palace Mini Mochi; the self-striping colorways are similar to Noro. Mine's color 103.

I'm sorry if I've left a few of you hanging with unanswered emails and comments on Flickr and Ravelry. I'm over my cold and beginning to catch up.


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.

Continue reading "Monkey Business" »

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?

Continue reading "100% Cashmere Scarf" »

August 03, 2009

The cashmere scarf

Mongolian_Cashmere_Scarf.jpg
Yarn: Jade Sapphire "Keja"
[Ravelry]

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.

July 26, 2009

I got back on the horse that threw me

. . . the horse called "Knitting"

Some of you more astute Ravelers (as well as a few of you on Flickr) might have noticed that I cast on and started a new project last week -- and I was really struggling with it. The struggle was entirely due to my choosing a pattern that would highlight the negative qualities of my knitting. While I was sharing my issues on Flickr and Ravelry, the designer contacted me with helpful suggestions (which I followed) but my unhappiness with my knitting persisted. Each time I sat down to knit -- fully intending to see it through to the end, I would feel a wave of nausea and dizzyness. So I decided that I was far too invested in it emotionally (and not in a good way) that I needed to completely unravel it, wind the yarn I'd used and return the unused balls. Continuing the project would have taught me nothing -- and it wasn't at all FUN.

I bought a new pattern and new yarn and I'm playing it safe. Even the pattern -- from Knitting Pure and Simple -- promises to be just that. I even chose a natural-colored yarn, demonstrating an uncharacteristic lack of adventure. I did, however, choose the buttons that charmed me the most:

Buttons.jpg
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

The yarn, if it was edible, would be delicious; the color is even called "Ice Cream"

Summer_Cardigan.jpg
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

It's Spud & Chloë Sweater, a wool and organic cotton blend. I absolutely LOVE it. It's a true worsted weight too -- not too light or too heavy. I'm already to the point where I will separate the sleeves and join the front to the back. I just have to buy the rest of the yarn -- I had no idea I'd knit this far in less than a day. My gauge is perfect and I've compensated for my rowing-out issue (see another blogger's illustration of "rowing out" here) by purling with a smaller needle. That is, I'm knitting with 4.5mm Addi Turbos and purling with 4.0mm Denise needles. There's still a good portion of this current project in which I used the same size needle for both knitting and purling and it's noticeable -- but it doesn't bother me that it's there.

Last week, I got to have lunch with SoKnitpicky; we discussed knitting, food, and some of my drama. It was during our lunch and her talking about her latest knit (the one for which she'd just purchased yarn less than a week earlier and was already nearly finished knitting!) that I made the decision to frog my own project that spurred this blog entry. She was wearing this top at lunch and like everything else she knits and wears, it looked great on her. It's become for me a visual and a goal -- to knit something I'll wear that will be that flattering and stylish. Since nothing in my closet currently fits well anyway, now's the right time to consider knitting for my true size and body shape -- the one I am now and will likely be from now on.

July 09, 2009

The Fast and the Finished

Meet "Georgia," the cheeky monkey interpreted as a knit (and crocheted) coffee cup cozy:

Sock monkey cup cozy based on a free pattern on Ravelry
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

As soon as I finished (!), washed and blocked my Soft Waves Ripple, Jr., I grabbed the yarn and pattern for this quick project fix. From start to finish (if you already have the yarn and buttons) the cup cozy can be completed in about two hours. I had so much fun making this. A few months ago, a co-worker of mine at the yarn shop shared the free pattern she found on Ravelry (designer: Alejandra Quiroz) and we each bought a skein of the Manos Wool Clasica "Naturals" and split it three ways. I loved knitting with the yarn -- especially the lighter-colored one that I used for the monkey face. In the skein, it's lightly marled; you don't really see the potential until it's knit. It looks a little bit rustic and wild, and it makes a perfectly cute monkey.

And did I mention I was finished with the Ripple?! I have to admit that I was really sick of it towards the end and so glad I chose to make a smaller version of the blanket. To recap for those who haven't seen my notes on Ravelry, I used Cascade 220 Superwash (about 15 different colors). I started with a Boye 4.25mm (G) crochet hook but lost it (probably somewhere in the sofa) and finished with a Susan Bates 4.25mm (G) hook. Each stripe was 2 rows of the ripple pattern, all double crochet stitches. As I've shared before, this ripple was one of my motivations for wanting to learn how to crochet in the first place, so I'm pleased I stuck with it and finished it. I'm already planning at least one more, slightly wider and longer, for my sister Jayne who requested a pink / brown / white color scheme.

Finished_Ripple_jr.jpg


Finished_Ripple_jr2.jpg

For those of you who are local, the blanket will be at Twisted Yarns for a while. Feel free to squish it.



July 06, 2009

I wanted to love them

Clover Takumi 9-inch Circular Needles
[Flickr]

I love the yarn
I love the stitch marker
I even loved the 9-inch circular needles. At first.

Knitting the ribbing (2x2; that is, K2, P2) was an absolute joy. It seemed easier to knit ribbing on the circulars. However, the plain stockinette portion slowed me down considerably because of the way I hold these needles. For me, there is too much "play" between stitches -- something that would be okay for a patterned sock, but undesirable when there is a need for speed. I knit faster on DPNs with more control and tighter stitches. I still like the concept of small circulars, but when I want a joyful sock knitting experience, double-pointed needles are my tool of choice.

You know what's coming next, right? I want to give the 9-inch circular needles to somebody who would like to try them. These are 2.75mm or the equivalent of a US Size 2 needle.

9_inch_circs2.jpg

Just leave a brief comment letting me know the sock yarn you're planning to use with the needles and I'll choose the recipient by Thursday morning. Assurances that you're going to post a photo and/or blog entry reviewing the needles are highly likely to influence me.

June 10, 2009

A return to what feels familiar

A knitted dishcloth
Cotton yarn in a bright color
An inspirational book of art

Familiar_Knit_Dishcloth.jpg
[Ravelry] [Flickr]

May 08, 2009

Knit plain socks

Just a plain sock

Last week, I had an urge to knit a sock -- a plain sock -- to compensate for way too much unfinished business (both in fiber and in my life). Instead of my usual 2.25mm double-pointed needles, I opted for the 2.75mm to knit these (2" ribbed cuffs were knit with 2.25mm) in the spirit of this great Elizabeth Zimmermann quote:

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Knitting Without Tears


It worked.

Plain socks are no-nonsense knits. There's no fiddling with patterns or endless choices and decisions. And for this sock, I didn't even set out to knit them for a particular person. I just wanted to knit socks. Halfway through, I realized that this is the best way to get socks done. So, I'm thinking now about my "precious" sock yarn collection -- all of those skeins of sock yarn awaiting the perfect sock pattern before I use them. Why not just knit it all up? It's the process of knitting plain socks that I enjoy so much, so does it matter if I take the easy way out? I knit the first sock very quickly -- a personal record of 2.5 days of actual knitting time. And this was accomplished during a busy and stressful week. It has energized me too, so I am passing this idea along to you and giving you permission to knit plain socks.


February 13, 2009

Just Enough Red for Valentine's Day

Just Enough Ruffles scarf - pattern by Laura Chau at CosmicPluto.com
Just Enough Ruffles in Malabrigo (worsted) "Garnet"

Last week, I got a little bit antsy for something red and also to find time to actually knit (my mom is still visiting). Red yarns make up the bulk of my impulse yarn purchases -- it's a color I'll frequently buy and stash before I have a plan or a pattern for the yarn. This Malabrigo in Garnet is an orangish shade of red with pops of light pink and brown. It was initially slated for a Wonderful Wallaby, but I couldn't get gauge with it and finally accepted it would need to be something else. So although I had planned to find a neutral color yarn for the Just Enough Ruffles scarf, I saw two skeins of Malabrigo in my closet, already wound in center-pull cakes, and I liberated them to knit a little something to wear on Valentine's Day tomorrow. However, I misread the well-written increase instructions and didn't end up with the required number of ruffle stitches. In spite of that, I chose to finish the scarf anyway and I love it. I love the yarn. I love the color. I love the pattern. My knitting mistakes didn't prove to be fatal and I'd already planned to knit another before even starting this one.

Several little things have found me feeling off-kilter this week, but finding this fortune was a highlight:

Fortune on Red Fiestaware Pedestal Bowl

It's so true . . . and it's something I've discovered over and over again in my lifetime.

Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends and readers.

Hibiscus in The Woodlands, Texas

I'm inspired to incorporate more red into my life this year . . . and I absolutely love it with yellow.


February 04, 2009

Arm warmers

Toast Arm Warmers by Leslie Friend

While Erica was here over the holidays, I started and finished these useful Toast arm warmers. Because our late-December temperatures fluctuated wildly -- sunny and warm one day, chilly and gray the next -- I needed a little something to carry with me to keep me warm (and even accidentally wore them to bed one night). They were perfect.

Kim had generously gifted me with one skein each of the same Classic Elite Portland Tweed that Leslie used to knit her Toast and Toasty mitts. They're both lovely neutrals with spots of unexpected color. It was such a smooth and speedy knit -- there's a tiny bit of viscose in the fiber that gives it slightly more elasticity.

Classic Elite Portland Tweed from Kim - Chronic Ennui
Classic Elite Portland Tweed in Black Forest and Folkestone

In the last couple of weeks, I've received some long-awaited copies of my Japanese family "koseki." Koseki are family registries that show births, deaths, marriages and more. I received the koseki for both my grandmother's and grandfather's families. The translations gave me some valuable information along with official names and dates to enter on my family tree.

Japanese Family Registry - Koseki

I learned that my grandfather and his siblings were raised by their uncle (Toshiyuki) after their father (Motomichi) died. I learned that my grandmother's father was adopted and that his birth name was "Gohee Noda." This is enough information that I can now request koseki for my great-grandfathers and great-uncle. I'm grateful to Mr. Eric N for his translation help -- I learned from Lisa that older koseki are very difficult to translate, so I'm appreciative of Eric's help in translating the older ones.

January 25, 2009

If you guessed I've been busy

If you guessed I've been busy, you'd be right.

Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Sursa Shawl

But there has been knitting - including a couple of things for me. And one of my 2009 wishes was granted a couple of weeks ago. I learned to crochet. In no particular order, there are a few crochet projects that have inspired me to want to learn since I saw them for the first time: Kathy Merrick's Babette Blanket, Cecily Keim's Larger than Life Bag, a Soft Waves Ripple Blanket (like Alicia Paulson's) but with Cascade 220 (the colors in Yarn Bee's Ripple are my inspiration) and several more - including some smaller projects - in my Ravelry favorites. Big thanks to Ann for teaching me. I actually love crocheting! I was prepared to like it (it's so fast!) but loving it is a nice surprisel

And the project in the photo at the beginning of the post? It's my third Sursa Shawl (from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Book Two), in colors (Noro Silk Garden 249) I rarely choose for myself. There's pink and blue in there - probably a first for me. It seems to work with the warm rust and yellow because Noro is brilliant. I wore it for the first time yesterday and purchased a gorgeous shawl pin that I can't wait to show you. The pin allows me to wear the shawl without fiddling with it while I teach (in this case, the beginning knitter's class yesterday).

Finished Sursa shawl draped and worn

There's more catching up to do and I'll probably spread it over a few entries. My mom is here in Texas to stay with us a while after having been in L.A. since after Thanksgiving. Los Angeles is a tough act to follow weather-wise, but thankfully, we've had some beautiful weather since she arrived last week.

November 30, 2008

Fantastic Eyelet Afghan

Fantastic_Eyelet_Afghan.jpg

It was a few months ago that I realized that before I plan to knit a bunch of Christmas gifts, I need to focus on making sure that my own family has handknit gifts this season. I'm knitting the afghan for my youngest son who always enjoys a good blanket. He loves to get cozy with a pile of them and since I wasn't a knitter when my kids were small, I'm making up for it now. The pattern I bought has instructions for two afghans - this one -- which I think is considered a razor shell lace -- and a Feather and Fan pattern. I lost about a week of knitting due to a wicked cold, but I should be finished with the blanket in a few days. The photo was taken two weeks ago and I've made a lot of progress since then. The hardest part has been avoiding casting on for other projects while I finish it.

I already sent Erica a few beanies and one of them was knit according to her specifications -- she wanted an earflap hat with pom poms, knit with charcoal-colored wool. My plans are to knit my middle son a hat and mittens. And from now on -- I'll make sure that the kids get new handknits every holiday.


November 18, 2008

Self-striping hat

Self_Striping_Adriafil_Knitcol.jpg

Yarn: Adriafil Knitcol, approx 1 skein
Pattern: Self Striping Hat

I'm knitting hats for all three of my kids; I just sent four hats to Erica (including a Kittyville hat), so now it's time to focus on hats for the boys. The hat pattern I'm sharing (via the .pdf download above) isn't exclusively for kids' self-striping hats -- you can upsize or downsize the pattern to fit your gauge and head circumference. For instance, if I have a worsted-weight yarn (4 to 4.25 stitches per inch), I can usually cast on 80 to 88 stitches and end up with a hat that fits an average adult. Plain hats are fast and fun to knit (and great for stashbusting), but I also have a few more challenging hats on my list to knit:

Norwegian Star Ear Flap Hat by Tiennie
Windy City Hat by Jodi
Capitan Hat by RosiG

. . . and this is where you leave a comment pointing me to YOUR favorite hat pattern -- I'd love to know what your favorite hat patterns are.

Comments closed due to SPAM - contact me via the email link on my sidebar if you have any questions.

November 10, 2008

Outcomes

This blog entry is dedicated to Jennie, who in an unfortunate turn of events had her Flickr account suspended. If you're a knitter, visit her NEW Flickr account and add her as a contact/friend.

So I never did blog here about my oldest son's broken arm or my younger son's stitches, did I? While it was difficult and upsetting and both things happened two days apart a couple of months ago, I can count any number of blessings that have come about since it all happened. We didn't have to experience it alone either -- some very cool heads (not mine) prevailed. Stitches were out weeks ago and the cast was off last week. Both boys are fine and probably much more cautious now as a result. I, however, have a few more gray hairs.

An outcome-related knit:

Mock_Cable_Dishcloth.jpg

I started this dishcloth on election day because I had a lot of nervous energy. I finished it moments before discovering the outcome and I honestly didn't expect to cry during McCain's speech, but I did. I cried again (harder) during Obama's. While I will never share what happens when I'm at the ballot box (not even with my own husband), I voted courageously and I'm happy with the outcome. I'm proud of our country. While my faith in the leadership and direction of the country had been shaken these past four years, I was very aware that this is the first election in my memory in which my dad couldn't vote. (For my new readers, he's suffering from dementia and is now in a nursing home). He's always set the example for me regarding faithfulness in voting. And although he was the one who actively demonstrated that it is our civic duty and privilege to vote, we knew not to ask how he was casting his vote; I'm continuing that proud tradition because it's how I roll. I voted on your behalf, Dad, and your grandsons were with me.

Dad2008.jpg


November 02, 2008

Giveaway Winner

Random.jpg

Thank you all for your comments on my Giveaway entry! I had a great time visiting some new blogs as well as stopping by my current favorites. Rachel (Wanderlust) is the lucky winner of the Morello Mash Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. She's a new knitter and is looking forward to knitting her first socks very soon.

Happy Socktoberfest!

October 29, 2008

A Blue Cowl and a Giveaway

Delores_Park_Cowl.jpg

I knit another cowl yesterday (the Delores Park Cowl) with yarn I'd received the day before from Eat.Sleep.Knit. My local yarn shop doesn't carry the chunky Malabrigo and I wanted to use the yarn that the pattern called for, so when Ravelry recommended Eat.Sleep.Knit in the online store options, I clicked it. Service was super-fast and my yarn arrived on a day (Monday) when most yarn shops are closed anyway. I'd never knit with the chunky before and I loved it, so it's definitely on my list to knit again. This serene blue is the Blue Surf colorway.

The cowl craziness is due to my wanting to find some quick knits for loved ones who need some warmth. They're one-skein, instant gratification projects and fast enough to knit during other ongoing projects.

For a Socktoberfest surprise, click behind the cut:

Continue reading "A Blue Cowl and a Giveaway" »

October 25, 2008

Malabrigo Pagoda Cowl

I think I've mentioned before why I am so hopeless in my desire to become a stashless knitter - I'll fall in love with a yarn (it's the color I see first) and I buy ONE skein in the belief that I will find a just-right pattern for it eventually. And I do. And I did:

Birthday Cowl - Pagoda Malabrigo

Heather knit this cowl with the gorgeous "Vaa" colorway in the Malabrigo. And then I remembered that Vanessa had knit one too. I'm just a little late to the party. I'd already used some of the Pagoda to knit a ball, but I was confident I'd have enough left over to knit the cowl.

The pattern, Birthday Cowl, is from Nova's blog, Novamade. I used a Size 8 (5mm) circular needle and didn't make any modifications to the pattern. Mine is about 9 inches tall; I didn't measure the opening, but since it goes over my head, it's just right. I'll be shipping this to my mom because it's already cold in Cowiche. (Jayne, don't show her this blog entry please!)

Here's a less artsy shot of the cowl -- it's a more accurate color too.

I've got a few other cowl patterns in my queue and a lot of potential necks to warm! Have you knit one yet?

October 22, 2008

Toasty Mitts

toast_mitts_by_Leslie_friend.jpg

I loved knitting these thumb-less tubes and Leslie did a great job with the pattern inspiration she found from the photos in Toast (go browse the catalogue - it's gorgeous).

Do you knitters have a "carry-along" project with you at all times? I do - and mine's usually a plain sock to knit while I wait in the car-rider line at school or the doctor's office. These fingerless mitts filled the role of being my carry-along for a couple of days. You know those people who say they have no time to knit? They would have time to knit these.

I didn't deviate at all from Leslie's pattern except for my yarn choice. The yarn shop doesn't carry the Classic Elite Portland Tweed, but it seemed like the Kathmandu Aran was close enough in gauge that I could try it. (I would still like to knit a pair with the Black Forest Portland Tweed). Click to see how the mitts work like sleeves.

This weekend, I learned Portuguese knitting using a knitting pin and I want to blog about that soon; I loved it; purling for me went so much faster this way. I'd love to hear whether any of you have already tried it.

October 17, 2008

Happy Fall

I gave a mouse a pumpkin.jpg

My youngest son loves the Laura Joffe Numeroff / Felicia Bond series of books and especially the classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you've been reading me for a while, you'll remember my knitting a sweater for Mouse a few years ago. Although I know that one famous knitter won't knit for inanimate objects, I'm obviously not one of them. So when I re-visited Wool Windings' felted pumpkin pattern last month, I knew exactly who needed a tiny felted pumpkin. I dipped into my well-aged stash and found two of my favorite yarns - Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in Rust and a wonderful tweedy green Cascade 220. I'll admit that at first I felt that I might knit a bunch of these little pumpkins, but after one pumpkin, the novelty wore off. They're cute, but I've got a lot of other things to knit, so perhaps I'll just knit (and felt) a new one every year.

I didn't felt this pumpkin in the washing machine -- I used hot water and wool wash in my bathroom sink to "agitate" and felt it by hand. I love the fuzziness of the Lamb's Pride (thank you, mohair) and the woodsiness of the green Cascade.

Felted_Pumpkin.jpg

Now I have visions of knitting a vest for mouse and matching one for a boy.

UPDATE: Thank you Kim and Tracy for letting me know I had comments turned off!

October 02, 2008

Socktoberfest 2008

Embossed_Leaves.jpg

I'm joining in the fall festival of sock celebration otherwise known as Socktoberfest IV -- and I'm fully embracing the 'no rules' mindset that Lolly's always envisioned for Socktoberfest. I've not been able to focus on socks for months due to a number of different group knitalongs and design projects but those commitments are winding down and I'm delighted to return to sock knitting this Fall. I love that there are exciting sock knitting books still being published and new patterns to peruse on Ravelry and Knitty (and several other new online knitting magazines). If you'll notice, however, I'm knitting a sock from a pattern that is nearly three years old (but still as popular as ever). It's a wonderful pattern -- and if you can knit a Monkey sock, you can knit the Embossed Leaves sock pattern. The good news is that you no longer have to try to hunt down a back issue of the Interweave Knits in which it appeared; it's in the Favorite Socks book.

I don't yet know what my focus will be for this year's Socktoberfest, but I do know that Twisted Yarns has some exciting new sock yarns (Dream in Color Smooshy, Shibui Sock, Colinette Jitterbug, Regia Kaffe Fasset . . . plus so many more) but I'm the most excited about the saturated semi-solids like the Colinette Jitterbug -- I'm using the Morello Mash colorway for the Embossed Leaves socks. So, since buying sock yarn is another hobby of mine, expect to see some stash enhancement.

Happy Socktoberfest!


July 03, 2008

Oh blog, how I've missed you

Last Minute Knitted Gifts - Drawstring Pouch
Ravelry details here

From my favorite knitting book, with one of my favorite yarns, Alpaca Silk by Blue Sky Alpacas. And because inevitably, I am asked why I would knit a drawstring pouch, I use them as reusable (and luxurious) gift packaging.

I won't bore you with the long and drawn out final installment (I hope) of the cable internet saga I've been experiencing. The bottom line is that the cable company has installed brand new cable and my signal should be strong and consistently stable now. Murphy's Law is alive and well because while having no internet is really not fun, this was the week I needed it the most.

I resurrected a hibernating project but I purchased new colors to work with:

Kusha_Kusha_2.jpg

I'm going to use the free Kusha Kusha Scarf pattern as a guide, but I'm not switching needle sizes. My plan is to hold both yarns together and cast on 60 stitches on a Size 6 (US) Addi Lace needle and knit in stockinette till I'm out of yarn.

Here's a swatch:

Kusha2_Purl_side.jpg

It's a photo of the stitches on the purl side so you can see the two individual yarns better. I think I'm going to enjoy this version of the scarf much more.

June 22, 2008

The issue of worth

Cowl_Last_Minute_Knitted_Gifts.jpg
Pashmina Cowl (Ravelry link) from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, 2006
Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight - 3 Skeins Eggplant

I knew I would think about the issue while I was on my trip -- the fact that each one of my sisters is pursuing a successful career and earning income of her own. While my job working part-time at the yarn shop is rewarding and carries with it opportunities to see my friends and commune with knitters (and crocheters), it's pretty safe to say that my net earnings each year are canceled out by my purchases. And I'm proud of my sisters. They each have an incredible sense of duty and work ethic. I know that my sisters are also proud of me and they constantly tell me so -- and point to my parenting, my relationships and my skills as evidence. Whenever I've been given the opportunity for more (in the way of a career and a larger paycheck) in the past decade, I've respectfully declined.

So when I see things that I've knit being passed around the room and worn -- or I spy them in suitcases, it provides a little more clarity for me. The issue of worth begins to be resolved when I see proof of how I've invested my time and energy and how lucky I am to be able to do what I enjoy nearly every single day.

May 23, 2008

Happy days are here again

Happy Vesper Sock Yarn
Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn, "Spring has Sprung"

This has been the year of connectivity issues with my internet at home. The gremlins invaded last week on Friday afternoon and I was without internet till yesterday afternoon. In the early morning or evenings, I was able to use my husband's wireless broadband connection but during the day (prime websurfing time), he has to use it to . . . work!

So I was faced with deciding what to knit when nobody's looking (i.e. when I can't blog or post photos to Flickr like I normally do). I'm so used to casting on and sharing here and there that I never really thought about how GOOD it might feel to knit without instant feedback. It felt great! And it's not that I don't value your opinions and wonderful feedback -- I have the most awesome readers, after all -- but when it comes right down to it, perhaps I could (and should) knit without an audience. I frogged a lot of WIPs that weren't making me deliriously happy. Ultimately, all that left me was the secret knitting and secret swatching (i.e. stuff I can't share here due to their being gifts or designs in progress). But it's no secret that it was satisfying to just knit -- to work on something without showing anybody.

What would YOU knit if nobody was looking?

By the way, my internet problem this time? Loose cable connections -- my cable signal was strong, but it wasn't getting to the modem! Once that was taken care of, I had to set up my wireless router again -- a two hour process -- and now I'm good to go. For the past several months, I was having to go upstairs to reset the modem at least once a day, sometimes more. There's no telling how much more knitting time I'll have now that I'm not constantly having to reset the modem!

May 14, 2008

About Twisted Knitter

Twisted Knitter on an OLD Smith Corona

Twisted Knitter is my knitting blog handle; my real name is Janet and I live in a SE Texas suburb between Conroe and Houston. I've been a blogger for years but now I blog mostly about knitting-related things . . . occasionally I sneak in something unrelated to knitting.

You can also find me on Ravelry and Flickr (where I've been posting photos since August 2004).

I've been knitting since 2003 and my passion for it increased with each successful finished project. From over a dozen felted bags and many socks, it never occurred to me that you couldn't knit with wool in Texas. (Did you know that's the first thing people assume about Texas knitters - that it's too hot here to knit?) Houston has a large and accomplished knitting population and I've been fortunate enough to attend workshops taught by Beth Brown-Reinsel and Nancy Bush.

I'm not much of a garment knitter; I knit mostly for tactile and visual reasons. I'm taken in by yarn that's "my" color or a fiber that feels luxurious. I quickly abandon a knitting project that isn't satisfying or fun. I knit first for enjoyment and second to master a skill -- I will knit a pattern repeatedly until I feel I have mastered it. Recently I shared some of what brought me to knitting in the first place and the fact that my blog is something that I do for myself. This is the space in which I am generous to myself and others and I try to be kind even when I share strong opinions.

My hope (and continued goal) is that I demonstrate that I am interested in my readers and fellow knitting bloggers. I enjoy getting to know you through your blogs and your Flickr photostreams. I'm grateful that so many of you have continued to blog about what is going on in your lives and not JUST the knitting projects you're working on! Recently, I decided to post more up-to-date photos of myself, because many of you already do -- and this helps if I ever run into you while I'm working or attending a fiber-related event. If you're meeting me for the first time, I'm really shy (though I seem standoffish) and I guarantee I will figure out a way to say something goofy even when I am consciously trying NOT to. Susan is the first fellow knitter I met in the flesh and I'm delighted that she and I are still knitting more than dishcloths after all this time. (I am *so* not opposed to knitting dishcloths - and I still knit them proudly!)

I have three sisters; Jayne is in banking, Joan is an attorney and JL works in the entertainment industry. I'm married to Paul and have three kids - a daughter and two sons. My sons prefer that I not blog about them; however, I'm pretty sure my daughter doesn't mind. Prior to my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I worked as a database administrator -- first for a building products manufacturer in Oklahoma City and later for Marathon Oil Company.

Thanks for reading!

May 08, 2008

Count to five

So I counted and I'm working on five things that I can't blog about till they're finished, and that means no in-progress photos or musings. However, you can still catch occasional random non-secret knitting photos on Flickr:

A peek

I started a shawl from Knitting Lace Triangles, by Evelyn Clark. The yarn is Mama Llama Silken Cash, which should be enough for a small shoulder shawl. I'm really enjoying the book and the straightforward approach to starting and knitting a triangular shawl. As is typical for me, I've started and re-started a few times and unless I can figure out where I lost two stitches, I'll probably frog again tomorrow (and the yarn is holding up well to all the frogging).

There are a few other things that are going to need my attention and some action. And it's possibly I'll have some non-vacation travel coming up. No escapism allowed, but the knitting does find its way into the spare moments here and there. I also make time to check in on blogs and websites to see what everybody's working on. There's absolutely no shortage of inspiration either:

Nectar

Noro

Knit happy!

Continue reading "Count to five" »

April 30, 2008

Back in business

MacBook.jpg

I'm back in business. I got a new MacBook last week but had a family emergency and wasn't able to fully engage myself in learning this new and different operating system. But the little I've been able to play with it since then? Awesome.

Some of you wanted to see the nearly-complete Lizard Ridge blanket for which I knit two of the squares:

A.M. seaming Lizard Ridge


Lizard Ridge during seaming

Details: This is a group project -- a knit=along of sorts -- for a gift. I surprised myself by completely changing my mind about the Lizard Ridge by the time I finished the first square. Had I not HAD to do my part for this gift by knitting two squares, I would have given up. However, I adore this pattern now and I'm looking forward to making another one.

April 24, 2008

Wordless Lizard

Edge of first Lizard Ridge Square
Noro Kureyon Color 165

April 17, 2008

Monkey Sock :: One complete

Monkey Sock details

Monkey sock -- the full monkey

Last June, I started a sock on my birthday and four days after I started the sock, I got my Ravelry invite. Since I always have a couple of socks going at once (and feel absolutely no shame about that), I spent several hours that day and the next exploring Ravelry and adding projects and stash. I couldn't help but notice something incredibly interesting -- although I know MANY knitters who have not knit this sock pattern, it's the second most popular pattern on Ravelry (second only to the Fetching Fingerless Mitts -- which I haven't knit).

I don't know why it was such a compelling idea for me to finish this sock last week (I was SO close to finishing when I tossed them aside several months ago), I just decided to do it. I've already cast on for the second sock and the cuff that I wasn't overly fond of initially (lots of k1 tbl) is kind of charming to me now - and not at all as fiddly as it seemed in June.

Details below:

Pattern: Monkey from Knitty (Winter 2006)
Sock Yarn: Mama Llama Sock Yarn in Twisted Yarns Colorway
Needles: Lantern Moon Sox Stix, Ebony, Size 1 (2.25mm)

For the next week or so, I'll be working on a secret (knitting) project and I'll be kind of scarce. It involves NORO, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

April 06, 2008

Completed :: Leaf Lace Scarf

Leaf Lace Scarf.jpg

I love scarves. I love living in a place where our winters require lightweight accessories and no bulky outerwear. And most of you already know that I adore green. So when I saw this color of Malabrigo merino laceweight on Spritely Goods, I had to have it. Although several knits distracted me from finishing this scarf as quickly as I would have liked, I devoted myself to it completely in the last week and finished it the day of my root canal.

In the past, I've started several other BIG lace projects only to make mistakes and get frustrated. This leaf pattern was something I could manage while watching television or when sneaking in some early morning knitting time.

And then there's dreamy red laceweight yarn:

Alpaca with a Twist - Fino - Ruby Slippers
Alpaca with a Twist, Fino: "Ruby Slippers"

While it seems this soft red yarn could easily distract me (once again), I've instead rescued another lace project from hibernation. So to satisfy some tactile desires, I did nothing more than wind the red yarn and swatch with it. Now it will sit for a while until I find the perfect pattern.

Before I close, I also wanted to share this cute little accessory bag from Splityarn:

Splityarn Toadstools

It's adorable and functional. I'm using it to carry stitch markers:

blue and green stitch markers from Funessa
Stitch Markers from Funessa

March 30, 2008

Noro Kureyon Felted Scraps Tote Bag

Noro Kureyon Felted Scraps Tote Bag with Leather Handles
See more details regarding the tote on Ravelry

Noro Kureyon Felted Scraps Tote Bag with Leather Handles

Almost four years ago, I knit this tote bag with my Noro Kureyon leftovers -- I'd knit three Booga Bags and had a smallish amount of leftover Kureyon and then scored a bargain on a couple more skeins. I had this idea to knit a tote in order to have a good project to take to Tuesday night Sit & Knits. When I finally finished knitting the bag, I felted it and had plans to sew handles on it and use it as a knitting bag. I purchased an inexpensive handle but ended up feeling indifferent and uninspired about it -- I was not at all excited about attaching it the bag, so I kept the tote in a pile of finished knits in my closet. A few months ago, Twisted Yarns received a shipment of Grayson E handbag accessories and leather handles in assorted sizes and colors. The 25" handles were exactly what I wanted, so I bought them. They have pre-punched holes and handles were easily attached to the bag by backstitching a double strand of DMC Perle Cotton (Col 9038) and now I love this bag! There are some great Grayson E handbag patterns available now also.

Click here to download my pattern.


March 19, 2008

300 :: Changes

For my 300th blog entry here, the only profound thing I am doing is changing my blog header to celebrate the inspiration I've found this week. I'll share more details in a few days -- suffice it to say that getting out of a routine is mind-expanding.

If you read through a feed reader, here's the new header:

new blog header

I can honestly say that after having had a few blogs, this is the one I am happiest with. After agonizing over previous blogs, I knew when I began this one, it would have to be something I did for myself. I like that it's not all of me, but honest parts of some of me -- mostly the parts of my life related to knitting. The family history and glimpses in to my ancestry have crept in and I am keeping them here for now.

In reading Annie Dillard today, this one small bit of phrasing struck me:

"The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever."

Even in its negativity, her statement is incredibly positive. To write and create for yourself alone is also freedom. Freedom is what I finally feel with this blog.

March 01, 2008

Off-course, of course

This weekend, I had that unsettled feeling of having veered off-course. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I have to stop and remind myself of my mission and goals.

There's been knitting, but nothing much to show yet (it's a shop sample) - lots of stockinette in the round and you saw a preview a few entries ago. The knitting sets the stage for the thoughts that are the true undercurrent of my writing and blogging here. Knitting helps me think -- it's mind- and heart-expanding. I couldn't write if I didn't knit.

I'm still organizing all the data regarding my family ancestry -- both the Japanese side and the Irish/Scottish/German side. I have two stacks on my desk and they're separated: the "H" side (my maiden name) and the "F" side (my mother's maiden name). I work best from stacks rather than files, so I'm doing what works for me, but if you were to visit right now, I'm sure it would look like clutter to you.

The most overwhelming part was sensing all the stories that want to be told -- I can pick something out of either stack and tell a compelling story based on what I know or what I've learned - hence, that off-course feeling. To get back on course is to focus on my OWN story. I'm the only one who can tell it. I'm the only one who can share my own experiences - the people I've met, the places I 've visited and loved. We four sisters grew up with very different experiences due to our age differences and having lived all over the world. My younger sister and I are only 22 months apart so some of our memories are shared, but we don't often share the same point of view. I don't think that's uncommon, but it's part of what made me realize that I need to focus on my own unique perspective.

The Patons Merino hat that I blogged about last week was finished that same day.I used to think it was so odd that others could knit a plain (or fancy!) hat in less than 24 hours, but now I can too. When did that happen? (And oddly enough, it's almost cold enough here today to NEED a hat).

Patons Merino FO :: Basic Hat

Finally, to wrap up this post, I finally figured out the handles I want to use for the Noro Kureyon Scraps Bag I knit in 2004. (Ravelry link here). I used the leftover Kureyon from the Booga Bags I knit that year plus some additional single skeins I had acquired to knit a large project bag.

Felted Noro Scraps Bag

So it's back to the knitting for a while.

February 29, 2008

Growing up in Oklahoma

Thank you all for weighing in yesterday in the comments. I hope it didn't come across that Michaels was not a perfectly acceptable place to buy yarn! I truly think it is -- but I don't look forward to a trip to Michaels with much anticipation nor do I feel delighted when I leave. Compare this to my yarn store trips . . . which I usually DO look forward to and enjoy.

I always count my knitting anniversary as December 2003; however, I learned how to knit in the 70's in Oklahoma when I was a Girl Scout. My mom bought my yarn and supplies at TG&Y in Del City, Oklahoma. At the time, I know they carried Sayelle and Wintuk (both brands have been absorbed in to Caron International). I bought pink and navy blue yarn and learned the knit stitch -- that was the extent of my knitting experience until recently.

As a knitter or crocheter, you should buy what's affordable and appealing to you -- no matter where you CHOOSE to go to get it. However, if you want to get more out of your hobby, I suggest visiting your local yarn shop. You're not obligated to buy anything but it might be a worthwhile (and possibly fun) experience.

In the U.S. your alternatives to yarn stores include Joann, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, Michaels; you can sometimes find odd lots of yarn at Tuesday Morning and Big Lots. And of course, there's always Wal-Mart (though it's my understanding they are going to eventually phase out the fabric department -- which if you read between the lines is a boon to smaller businesses that cater to niche markets).

February 28, 2008

Subversive :: Yarn and yarn shops

Due to my involvement in a school fundraiser, I've been going to Michaels a lot lately. Each time I go, I stop by and look at the yarns and patterns -- and I'm no stranger to the needlecrafts aisles at my local Wal-Mart, Joann's, and Hobby Lobby either. In the last few weeks, it appears that Michaels has revamped their yarn section and decreased the selection of novelty yarns and increased the quantity of garment yarns in Lion Brand and Patons brands. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and demonstrates a responsive shift toward what knitters and crocheters want. I found quite a bit of fresh stock of Patons Classic Merino and since it's the 2nd most popular yarn on Ravelry and the only one of the top ten brands I hadn't tried yet, I threw caution to the wind and dropped less than $5 on a ball to try. I've since swatched it (that is, I'm knitting a hat with it) and it's awesome to knit with and delicious to the touch. It's slightly softer than Cascade 220.

Patons hat in progress
Basic 80-stitch hat, ready to start decreasing

So . . . I'm clearly happy with the yarn, the way it knits and the value. What I don't get is why some knitters and crocheters refuse to cross the threshold of a local yarn store in favor of ONLY shopping at a craft chain or Wal-Mart. I do understand bad service and unpleasant experiences at yarn stores, but I don't think they're the norm. Anybody can have an off day (and I know that I have had those days in the past and probably unintentionally alienated a few customers). But at Michaels (and the other stores I mentioned), I'm never greeted, never helped while I'm at the back of the store in the yarn section, and nobody ever looks me in the eye when I check out. Conversely, when I go to the yarn shop (as a customer, not an employee), I'm greeted, helped with my selection and sometimes get quick instruction with something I have on the needles. The modest amounts of money I spend at local yarn stores help local families and small businesses. THAT is value.

I understand there are many people for whom yarn shops are NOT local geographically and have no other options -- but when there ARE options, why do you not go and experience what a local business has to offer? Is there just a general desire to be anonymous, faceless and completely divorced from who benefits from your purchase? Do you think that if you darkened the door of a yarn shop, you'd be assaulted and forced to use your grocery money to buy cashmere? Do you not trust yourself in the face of friendly people and a variety of merchandise? Educate me! I don't get why there are still so many people who do not think it's worth their time and energy to patronize a local business.

If all I had was Michaels or online shopping, that's how I would buy yarn - and I'm VERY likely go back to Michaels someday to buy more Patons (in a sweater quantity IF they have matching dyelots) - but I'll never believe it's a delightful experience to walk in a shop unnoticed and navigate my way past plastic flowers to the back of the shop to look at yarn.

Continue reading "Subversive :: Yarn and yarn shops" »

February 25, 2008

All about eyes and a little about yarn

all about eyes
30 ml of AMAZING

My under-eye puffiness has now been resolved. I love this stuff -- and I just have to use a tiny bit so it's likely to last a while. On Friday, I stopped by the Clinique counter at Macy's to pick up some foundation (One tube lasts three months). One of the ladies there asked if I would like a complimentary makeover and although I always (always) politely decline, I decided to indulge this time. Earlier that morning, I'd had a traumatic 3-hour ordeal at the dentist's office, so some pampering sounded nice. She used the All About Eyes on me with a little bit of concealer and even though I couldn't see it, it FELT amazing and very lightweight. She also used a nude shade of lipstick on my lips (anybody who knows me knows I do not wear nude lipsticks!) and I loved it: Metallic Sand. Because I haven't run out of lipstick, I didn't buy anything other than the eye cream and foundation. I have incredible self-control when it's not related to yarn -- to wit:

The Patons Classic Merino caught my eye today at Michaels, so I bought just one skein to try:

Patons Classic Merino

Until I can do a proper update on the state of things around here, I want to thank you for all the comments and emails on my previous entries. By the time I post this blog entry, my mom should be happily back at home after a week in the hospital. Her going to the hospital was just what she needed -- her medications have been tweaked and next steps are underway to help her with pain management. She will be fine!

I have a million serious topics I want to blog about, but this frivolous one makes me the happiest.

February 21, 2008

The edge

Hey, look! It's an actual knitting post!

Thanks to Ann Budd, I've got an alternative to ribbing -- a hemmed edge.

Turning Row (round)

Doesn't it look neat and tidy? You might have noticed I've knit virtually NO garments for myself. Pesky waist ribbing is just one of the reasons. I couldn't bring myself to knit ribbing around my waist (however, if something is ribbed throughout, it's a bit more flattering on me). I've been aware of this nice hemmed edge and even knew how to accomplish it, but it wasn't until Ann's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns that I finally paid attention to the math.

Turning row (round)

And it makes sense -- you just start knitting (in the round, from the bottom) with the number of stitches with which you'd do the body of the sweater. There's absolutely no extra math to figure out which percentage of stitches to set aside for ribbing. (However, if you're knitting for kids, go ahead with the ribbing).

If I'm getting 5 stitches to the inch and my chest measurement is 34, I'll cast on 170, knit a few rounds (5), and purl one round for a turning row. I'll do waist shaping of course, and I still have to figure out my choice of neckline, but how easy is that? And for further edge ideas (and if you prefer to work with actual patterns), check out The Perfect Sweater Pattern. The link to the free pattern (.pdf) is in the blog entry.

Other designers who pay attention to edges are Bonne Marie, Nora, and the Zephyr gals. I like simple, neat, non-fussy tops. Socks and accessories are where I have my (knitting) fun.

And, Lisa, thank you so much for all the research you've been helping me with and for the phone calls and updates. (Y'all, I've rediscovered my love of the phone since my laptop's officially a paperweight now).

Thank you, Debbie for the award. Debbie's sense of humor really shows throughout her posts and conversely, I don't think my own twisted sense of humor comes through on my blog. I love that hers does.

Something huge I learned this past week: Take photos. Tell your story. For about a nine year span, my dad kept scrapbooks. He saved a LOT of stuff, but the scrapbooks have proved to be invaluable now that he has dementia. These aren't necessarily artistically presented, but just plain black scrapbooks with photo corners and his handwriting and artwork (in white pencil) throughout. I know that an entire industry is now built around anything you can put in a scrapbook, but I've learned they don't have to be fussy. They can be simple and prove to be valuable.

Check this out:

Douglas MacArthur 1949
click on the photo to see it larger and view additional details

Take photos. Tell your story. Blog shamelessly.

February 03, 2008

Thoughtful awards and more

Calla Coaster :: Purl Bee
Click the photo for project details

I took a brief hiatus from project monogamy (I almost typed monotony -- so what does THAT mean?) in order to knit a few gifts last night (while watching the first two episodes of the Sarah Connor Chronicles). The only finished object I can show right now is the Calla Coaster from the Purl Bee.

Calla Coaster :: Purl Bee

I should mention that I've had some serious love for Purl Soho since I first started knitting seriously (obsessively?) in 2004. Back then, when Purl Soho was just a website and not yet a book, a blog or Purl Patchwork, I would visit the site a few times a day just to see the colors and the exotic fiber. And when their book was published, I had to have it -- and it remains the book from which I've knit the most patterns. I'm pretty sure that it's Joelle Hoverson's love of color and exquisite yarn that keeps me inspired.

Meanwhile . . . I just got some happy news that my laptop is ready. I got the news via a recorded message so I don't know if "ready" is synonymous with "fixed," but I'll find out soon enough.

And even more good news: I got a couple of awards! Here and here, from Brenda (Molecular Knitting) and PJ, (And Sew It Is), respectively.

excellent2baward.jpg


YouMakeMyDayAward.jpg

Now it's supposed to be my turn to spread the love and nominate more bloggers for these awards. It's going to be tough to name just ten twenty of the blogs that I think are excellent and/or make my day, but I'll try.

The A.D.D. Knitter - Heather has some great stash and her taste in yarn is quite similar to mine -- as well as her lack of self-control. (I mean that in the most endearing way, Heather).

A Friend to Knit With - Leslie shares her Cookie(s) of the Week and some super-accomplished knitting, cooking and photography skills. Plus, she's always incredibly encouraging and generous with her feedback.

Berlin's Whimsy - a brand-new addition to my sidebar, and I think her blog, photos and projects are a treasure. I don't even remember how I found her blog, but I love reading her.

Black Dog Knits - Nora's back! I get a ton of inspiration from Nora and her constructive feedback always helps me figure out the pesky details. (I'm not so naturally good with the details -- but I count on others who are).

Cherry Blossom Hill Studio - Fabulousness - I love peeking in and seeing the knitting and the sewing - and she makes me glad I have a colour (heh) monitor.

Chronic Ennui - I go see what Kim's up to and usually feel that I couldn't possibly measure up to her knitting skill or speed, but I can't stop going to her blog. Doggie photos are a bonus!

Coiled - Kat's tagline is "some knitting and drawing and other stuff too." She's a MAJOR inspiration.

Crimson Purl - Stacey is comprehensive in sharing project notes and details -- so much so that I can usually count on her to knit something I have in my queue and help me decide if I want to attempt it myself. She and I share an addiction a love for Malabrigo.

Gotta Knit - Debbie is usually up to something fun and never fails to make me laugh. When I think of Debbie, I think of steel magnolias.

Kent's Craft - I think I found Kent via Flickr back when he was posting some great vintage photos and about the same time he was working on his lovely v-neck. He seemed to disappear for a while, but now he has a shiny new laptop and camera. Surely he'll post more now. :-)

Knitsane :: Hannabirke - My favorite adventurous experimenter turned street photographer. I love the details in her posts.

Knitting Underway - Theresa is my sock-knitting hero!

Lekkercraft - Knitting interspersed with bits of everything else I love.

Lollyknitting Around - Lolly is probably the nicest, hardest-working knitblogger out there. Community building? Lolly defines it.

Molecular Knitting - I would have given her this award even if she hadn't given me one. Even though I know that she sometimes has to make the time to blog, she never gives the reader the impression that she's too busy to do it well. I love her photos along with her taste in fine sock yarn and M's cocktails.

Stumbling Over Chaos - Yet another hard working blogger. Chris works full time and has two delightful kitties to take care of and I don't know how she finds time to knit, blog and leave such nice comments.

Superstarra - A somewhat new-to-me knitting blog - I enjoy her knits and project photos and I've been reading through her archives to find those little gems I might have missed.

V's Blog and her Flickr too - she's a Midwesterner turned Pacific Northwesterner and I love following her adventurers with T and Miss Trixie.

Very Pink - Staci's a knitting superhero. Here's a quote from her Ravelry profile: "The most unusual thing about me as a knitter - I’m a one-project-at-a-timer, and I’m STASHLESS." She's a rare species.

Zebra Knits - Another blogger I've been reading less than a year but I am hooked. Every post is a treat, and the photos are awesome. Here's one of my favorite knits of hers.

Now excuse me while I spend the rest of the day feeling anxious about forgetting those blogs that I love and read regularly but forgot to mention. Everybody in my sidebar is excellent and inspirational.

January 28, 2008

Lipstick and yarn

Araucania Ranco Multi
Araucania Ranco sock yarn (click the photo above for more info)

Thanks to the ongoing computer woes, I've been spending a lot more time with my yarn and my knitting. While my son was waiting for his turn at the computer yesterday (I have to compete with the kids for computer time now), we talked about how we would each spend our first million (a purely imaginary windfall). I asked him what he would buy first if he had a million dollars -- he said he'd buy a scooter and then a house. When I asked him what he thought I would buy first, he said, "Lipstick." He predicted that after that, I'd buy yarn and "yarn books." He knows me too well.

I've been swatching (i.e. starting a new sock) with the Araucania sock yarn I bought several months ago. I fell in love with all the warm colors on the cool blue base. The only downside to this sock yarn so far is the yardage is on the low side and it's not as soft as I'd like. However, it's still a good knitting experience -- the stitches are even and smooth.

Araucania Ranco Multi

And, finally, a book purchase I put off entirely too long. Thanks to a nudge from Borders in the form of a 30% off coupon and a $5 gift certifcate, I now own The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd:

Finally . . .

I put off buying it for so long because I thought there wouldn't be "new" information in it -- but I've already highlighted several helpful things -- I should have purchased this book long ago.

Edited to add: This entry at Tiennie Knits, demonstrates how the Ann Budd book can inspire an already-accomplished knitter. Awesome.

January 16, 2008

But will I wear it?

I've been taking a long hard look -- a very critical look -- at my list of garments I intend to knit for myself. Usually something will make it on to my list due to my falling in love with a particular yarn. It's the yarn that attracts me first; then color next and design last. It's very rare that I buy yarn without a project planned but there are some yarns that have aged a bit in my young stash whose originally-intended patterns are really not that stylish any more.

So I've evaluated the store-bought sweaters I've loved and hated through the years and aside from the unfortunate intarsia phase, my favorite sweaters were solid colored -- usually natural colored, gray, red, or white, ribbed or plain stockinette and close-fitting. The sweaters that were the least flattering were loose-fitting cabled sweaters. I look best with some shaping, but an oversize sweater can be flattering on me if the proportions are right. Most surprising was that nearly all of my favorite sweaters were either 100% cotton -- or linen, viscose, ramie, and silk blends. Nearly all of them had some cotton though. I can remember owning only a small handful of 100% wool sweaters (one of which I still own after 15 years). Finer gauges predominated also.

My conclusion for knitwear for myself? Simple is best -- but it probably won't make good knit blog fodder or Flickr photos. And I'm okay with that. I want to knit what I'll wear. Chic Knits patterns seem to represent the style I envision for myself (Ribby Pulli and Cardi, Arianne, Cece) -- along with Knitting Pure and Simple cardigans and the Hourglass Sweater (Ravelry Link) in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Accessories are another story -- I'm much more adventurous with scarves, socks (sometimes), and hats.

For future socks for a family member, a planned 2x2 or 3x1 ribbing:

Passionberry :: See Jayne Knit

It's "Passionberry" -- a blend of merino and tencel from See Jayne Knit, an Etsy seller. Last week, I also received a set of sock blockers from Fearless Fibers. I love them and how they've infused my socks with their cedar scent. (And a quick thank you to Sallie, who has hooked me up with somebody we know who has darning eggs for sale).

I also finished the first of a pair of socks knit with Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn:

Pigeonroof Studios - Cinnamon

I love her dye job. The superwash merino she uses as her base is very nice -- the yardage made me a bit nervous, but not nervous enough to become a toe-up sock knitter. I like living on the (sock-knitting) edge. I've knit up all but two of my single socks-in-progress. I'm down to just one unfinished single sock and then will finish their mates. My Gesta vest front is almost finished and then I'll seam the sides and shoulders and crochet an edging.

There are a few changes in the air here and I can't share many details about them, but they're positive changes. While I anticipate how this will affect some of my plans, I've made some decisions about some of my former goals -- the ones unrelated to knitting. I'll share those as soon as I can. For now, I'll be in list-making mode.

Peace.


January 14, 2008

Gesta :: Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton

In Progress :: Gesta

The yarn is Noro Kochoran in Color 40. I'm using the needle size called for in the pattern - 6.5 mm. It's kind of nice seeing so much progress so quickly on these larger needles -- quite a departure from 2mm sock needles.

I've finished the back of this vest but I don't have a good photo of it -- just imagine a wonderful blend of wool, silk and angora in a subtle striping pattern with somewhat neutral colors.

Gesta

Thank you all for the great sock-darning ideas and alternatives. I do think I want to attempt a repair first and if it doesn't go well, I'll do an afterthought heel. Sock darning seems like a nearly lost skill and there's enough of a challenge and mystery to it that I want to feel I tried it. Here are some great blog entries about sock darning (scroll down to April 26, 2006 for Part I and then work your way up through Part III).

And although I really have a lot more to blog about, I'm going to stop since I'm having such an "off" day mentally.

January 13, 2008

Twisted Knitter's FREE Patterns

Manos Drawstring Bag
FREE patterns are on my blog sidebar

The wonderful Ravelry folks have now made it possible for knitters (whether or not you are on Ravelry) to download FREE knitting patterns. I'll be updating my sidebar (to the right of this entry) as I add more. Thanks for checking them out!

Staci is now teaching a beginning lace class at The Knitting Nest using my Leaf Lace Scarf Pattern. I'm happy to allow you to use this pattern as a teaching tool -- just ask (like Staci did).

By the way, I'm getting through my emails and writing overdue replies, but I have to admit that I'm *also* taking some time to knit and check in on a few blogs. I have to share this awesome entry from the Yarn Harlot.

January 10, 2008

Well-loved socks

One year later . . .

These were the socks I knit for my sister for Christmas in 2006. She sent them to me when I sent her another pair this past Christmas. She told me she loved them and provided proof:

One year later . . .
.

And this is the Wollmeise Brombeere that I had left over when I knit her these socks:

Wollmeise Brombeere - leftovers

I'm thinking I have enough for my first attempt at mending socks. Tips anyone? Ideas?

This will be a short post for now, but I wanted to thank those of you who left such helpful and encouraging comments (and sent private emails) in my last post. I am pursuing some leads you all have given me and have discovered that a native Japanese speaker will actually have a more difficult time translating to English in an understandable way. He/she can translate in the SPOKEN native Japanese language, but then I would have to have somebody translate THAT. That explains the difficulty that my uncle had providing me with a translation. I had to set aside the pursuit in favor of some unexpected crises this past week, but it remains at the top of my mind -- even though I haven't been able to sit and reply to the emails some of you have left. Please know it is very much appreciated.

For those of you new to my blog, this is my maternal grandfather:

Grandfather
Born April 1891, Kyushu - Died January 1939, Tokyo

and this is my grandmother:

grandmotherblog.jpg
Born June 1898, Kyoto - Died June 1959, Tokyo

The samurai ancestry is on my Grandfather's side.

January 04, 2008

Shamelessly stockinette

Pink Panda Silk
Click the sock photos to see more information and larger photos

I started this sock in mid-December but interrupted finishing while I knit the Noro shop sample. Both are totally different knitting experiences and I love them equally -- however, the pink sock will get its mate soon so I can send this pair to my mom.

It was undeniably different knitting with yarn that had no "memory." I'm used to considerably more stretch in my sock yarns. In spite of that, the finished product is so soft that it will convert anybody who isn't already convinced that hand knit socks are superior.

Seriously soft silk socks

January 01, 2008

Happy first day of 2008

Family 1970s
Family photo from the early 1970's

I went to sleep with some big questions last night and woke up with the answers. The big questions have to do with a goal of mine -- something I want to complete this year involving a family story.

I love this photo of my family. Due to the age difference between my oldest and youngest sisters, it was rare to get all of us in a photo together. This is how I remember my Dad. I'm startled now when I see photos of him with white hair and his thinner, smaller frame. During most of my childhood and the years I lived in Oklahoma, he was stocky -- and looked like he did in this photo.

Longtime readers know that I don't "do" resolutions, but I do evaluate what's working for me and what's not. In 2008, I'm taking some steps to enrich my life -- I'm excited about the things I'm considering. And because the most effective method I have of dealing with unresolved issues is to write through them, I'll continue to do that and will probably share more of it here on my blog.

My knitting goals for 2008 are rather vague, thanks to a refreshed point of view and a desire to be true to myself -- I will knit what I enjoy knitting and do what I enjoy doing. Because I don't struggle with discontent or disappointment internally, I'm going to take full advantage of the absolute freedom I have to just BE.

And now, for the winner of the hand knit socks . . . congratulations to Susan at KitKatKnits. I'll be contacting you to get your color preferences and shoe size!

Look for more fun contests and giveaways in 2008.

December 28, 2007

Truthiness :: The Mitten

Truthiness *

I love knitting mittens but I'm not yet at peace with the way my thumbs turn out. It's fast and fun knitting until it's time to complete the thumb -- there's a gaping hole where the thumb meets the mitten. I'll be asking some experts (my co-workers!) to look it over and tell me how to avoid that when I re-knit the mittens. I started the mittens late Wednesday night after taking my oldest son's hand measurements and determining my gauge. And I think he grew overnight -- the finished mitten is WAY too small.

The experience had me a bit frustrated last night -- and it just reminded me of the feeling of being on this side of the learning curve -- and while I know it's just a mitten, it's hard to be unsuccessful after spending a lot of time on something that should be simple. And it doesn't make me a bad knitter, it's just a lack of skill.

So while I wait for our weekend house guests and make a grocery list, I'm going to step back and take a break -- and refresh mind, body and spirit. I think it might be a good time for Gypsy Soup:

Gypsy Soup.jpg


December 25, 2007

Boho Baby Knits

Yesterday I got my copy of Boho Baby Knits (Groovy Patterns for Cool Tots), by Kat Coyle:

bohobabyknitscover.jpg

My sister visited Knit Cafe earlier this month during Kat's book signing there:

Boho Baby Knits

I love all the bohemian baby designs in this book, but my must-knit favorites are the Bobbled Bloomers, Mimi and Bobbi Beatnik Dolls, Story-time Socks, Bite This Book!, Alien Hat, and the Scenester Legwarmers. And even though I don't have any more babies or toddlers in the household, these are just too cute not to knit.

December 23, 2007

A sock is emerging

Another sock is emerging:

Noro Kureyon sock in progress

I'm knitting a sample pair of socks for Twisted Yarns from the much-hyped Noro Kureyon sock yarn:

NORO Kureyon Sock Yarn

Obviously, I love it -- otherwise I wouldn't have made much progress (if any at all) on yarn that I just acquired yesterday.

So if you're intrigued and you're wanting to know how it knits up and what it feels like, I have to caution that you will need to release any expectation that it will be any different than knitting with Kureyon. It is not soft to the touch, but it's not unpleasant either. And it's very much a thinner version of Kureyon, which I happen to already love. If you don't love knitting with Kureyon, you won't love knitting with the sock yarn. If you see it at your yarn shop and you love the color but hesitate due to the way it feels to the touch -- please try it anyway. I've tried on my sock-in-progress and I think it feels MUCH softer on my feet than I thought it would.

For those of you wondering how I've fared on my stash release goals, I am feeling good about what I've done so far. And I realized that I don't regret a single yarn purchase or acquisition in 2007. Nearly everything I want to release was acquired between 2004 and 2006 -- before I really knew what I most enjoyed knitting. So for 2008 -- more Noro (Cashmere Island, Kureyon, Silk Garden, Iro, Kochoran), more Malabrigo (lace and worsted) and more yarns from independent sources -- that is, hand-dyers and spinners. And 2008 won't see me taking up spinning, but I will try more designing. Of course I'll keep knitting socks and will try to finish more of what I begin. And I'll make lots of pom poms.

December 19, 2007

A visual post

While I'm away today, I thought you would enjoy some visuals; as usual, click the photos for more details.

Stitch Markers


Panda Silk Sock


Manos


And finally, please don't miss this bit of inspiration -- I've got a list of projects I want to work on beginning December 26, 2007. Till then, I'm daydreaming about knitting, about Noro yarn ("Cash Island" to be precise), and about making some lovely ornaments for the 2008 holiday.

Details later -- I'm going to go party with some 9-year olds.

December 10, 2007

Catching up :: Mama Llama Trunk Show

UPDATE: Video added 12/10/2007 in the extended entry below:

On December 1, 2007, I went to the Mama Llama Trunk Show at Twisted Yarns and was again inspired by the wonderful hand-dyed yarns that Catherine creates. I first met Catherine at Yarntopia at the Crazy Aunt Purl book signing. It was good to see her again!

This is what I got and I can't wait to work with it:

Mama Llama Silken Cashmere Laceweight

And it matches the sock yarn I got in October:

Mama Llama sock yarn "Forest"

She had so many beautiful yarns and colors that it was a bit overwhelming:

Yarn Buffet

And, Catherine, I didn't forget that I owed you a knitting video -- see mine after the cut!

Continue reading "Catching up :: Mama Llama Trunk Show" »

December 09, 2007

I can knit with my eyes closed (sort of)

Opal Sock

Yesterday I took my mom to her hair appointment and decided to wait there with my knitting instead of leaving to run errands. While I was knitting my sock, I tried knitting with my eyes closed . . . and it worked . . . just by feel. I don't know that I'd choose to do that very often (I mean . . . why?) but it's a few more stitches in the dark, right?

I know that I've shared before that I always have a sock-in-progress that I can knit while I wait. No thinking. Just knitting. The Opal sock yarn was from a swap with Jennie. Earlier this year (thanks to Flickr) I jumped the gun on her de-stashing plans to let her know I wanted that sock yarn. I'd never knit with Opal and wanted to try it -- plus, I love self-striping sock yarns. It's utterly unsophisticated but a wonderful excuse to knit socks with your eyes closed.

December 08, 2007

Happy holiday knitting

S'more knitting?

The holiday knitting at Chez Twisted Knitter doesn't include gift knitting -- there are no deadlines here this holiday season. Last year, I sent my sister her first pair of handknit socks. We talked last night and she told me that she's worn a hole in the heel. I reminded her that it's the highest compliment that can be paid a sock knitter -- and that they were meant to be worn! Guess who's likely to get more handknit socks?

Last week, I got some new double-pointed needles to test:

New needles to try!

My fellow Pretty Posie, Elizabeth of Trailing Yarn, sent them to me. She also sent circular needles and challenged me to convert to Magic Loop. But where would that leave me with my wonderful collection of DPNs?

I'm intrigued by the Hiya Hiya needles and can't wait to give them a try (today?) and will share my feedback here. Thanks again, Elizabeth!

November 30, 2007

Maybe

Maybe when your day, week, month has a been a difficult one and you can't beg, borrow or steal some time to knit, maybe what you're needing most is a manicure (OPI "Suzi Loves Sydney") and an eyebrow wax.

While the knitting time hasn't materialized, the ideas are flowing. I now have a better vision of the direction of some unfinished business. I'm learning to make the RIGHT connections (literally and figuratively) and going with my gut rather than embracing each new thing. With rejection comes refinement. I always seem to skip that step, but now I'm tuning in to the inner voice that tells me when something is not right. There's not enough time or energy for the "not right."

It's exciting and rewarding to see my clothing options shrink (yes, you are reading that right). Until the right things come my way, I'm okay with my limited options because I'm feeling good about what I have! I'll just knit the accessories as my options increase. One of the gifts I'm giving this year is permission (to my loved ones) to do the things for themselves that they wouldn't normally do -- the things they sometimes do for me as an act of generosity. Really. Do them for yourselves. You deserve it. Buy that amazing handbag for yourself -- or the perfect shoes. Your sharing with me how good they make you feel is the best gift.

I went to a baby shower last night and got to meet the sweet baby for whom the "Strawberry Latte" hat was intended (but alas, no photo of the recipient -- just this bear):

Baby hat on bear

I decided at the last minute not to add a pom pom It's still a little bit big for Malley, but she loved it (if sleeping through a baby shower is a sign of approval, she approves!). And I loved knitting it! Heads don't come in pairs like feet . . . or hands . . . so you knit one and you're finished. You don't have to knit a matching "other hat." I've knit a lot of hats, but this epiphany -- it is just now coming. Apparently I'm slow.

Erica leaves Sunday to go back to Florida and a job at Toni & Guy. It's exciting and very "her." My mom leaves shortly after that. I'm feeling prepared for the holidays and excited about my purchases and decisions. Bring it on.

November 27, 2007

Baby knits are fast

Even with a few false starts (I started knitting these booties but they were turning out too big), I managed to knit a baby hat over the weekend.

Baby Hat for Malley

For the baby hat, I used 2.5mm double-pointed needles and the basic hat guidelines in Knitting Rules. I use this book so much. I love how Stephanie's advice is sprinkled throughout the book -- "when in doubt, knit longer. A hat that's too long can be folded up, but a hat that's too short will be annoyingly tugged on for years to come."

My favorite: "Teenagers do not wear hats except in summer, while skateboarding, or as a fashion statement designed to humiliate or annoy you."

As for the yarn, I don't know if Claudia uses a different base yarn now, but it feels like an improvement over the two skeins of her yarn I've purchased in the past -- both in softness and color saturation. I still want to knit the booties and am fantasizing about de-stashing by knitting baby items.

I worked on Friday when the Claudia's Hand Painted Yarn arrived. The "Strawberry Latte" (above) and "Lipstick" were the ones that wanted to come home with me.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarn "Lipstick"

I'm stashing the red sock yarn and will knit a pair of socks for myself after the holidays. That should give me plenty of time to figure out the perfect pattern.


November 23, 2007

Speaking of thankful . . .

Surprise in the mail yesterday

It feels like I've been far away, but I've been here -- just incredibly busy. My mom and my daughter are both here for a long(ish) stay and Erica and I had to take care of something hugely important last week -- the second of her two exams to be a licensed Cosmetologist in the state of Texas. She passed her written exam without incident last spring, but wasn't able to be here to take the subsequent 3.5 hour "practical" exam -- the one she does at a testing facility in front of a proctor who grades her on all the required steps. She needed a live model for the facial and manicure (me) and in spite of several issues outside our control, she not only passed, she got an excellent grade. It was a hard-won success and I don't know which one of us was more nervous. When she gets back to Florida, she'll start her job as a colorist at Toni & Guy and begin the process of transferring her license to Florida (which, oddly, doesn't require a "practical" exam -- only a written one).

And thanks to a "what if?" moment at the beauty supply store ("it's only hair, it's only hair") two days before her exam, we "experimented" with bleach and toner and now I have some really wild highlights. So if you see me before it's fixed, feel free to acknowledge the . . . RED.

Obviously, I have NO knitting to show because I've not knit in several days. In the rare stolen moments, I'm browsing Flickr, answering emails (but not nearly enough of them) and visiting your sites. I love seeing all the lovely things you're working on and I'm grateful for living vicariously through my favorite knitters.

Click the photo above if you would like to see more details about the gorgeous Diakeito Diamusee Fine yarn that Chawne sent me (along with the neatest Moo card).

I was also able to finish my oldest son's socks almost two weeks ago:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Jeans

He's worn them several times and loves them! There's really nothing quite as awesome as seeing everybody wear the socks I knit for them.

November 12, 2007

Jojoland Melody Superwash

Have you experienced Jojoland yarns yet?

Jojoland Melody * Fraternal

I sent these two balls of Melody (Superwash) to Chawne and look what she cast on as soon as she received it: Socks of KIndness. The fingering weight Melody and the lace weight Harmony have been flying out the door of the shop where I work. Several knitters are using the laceweight to knit the Jane Sowerby (Knitter's Magazine, Fall 2007) "Ruffled Fichu" shawl. Here is a beautiful Fichu in progress. (A Fichu is the bit of a lacy shawl arranged in the bodice of a Victorian-era blouse - as in the Manet portrait. You and I have learned a new word today).

As for my own knitting progress, I've been swatching some sock yarns and evaluating my in-progress knits to see which ones need my time. Some projects just aren't good knitting when I'm feeling "scattery." When I'm trying to work through real life things, I often pause and go through my patterns and yarns. I find things that need to be frogged and I make good use of my ball winder and swift. Nothing huge is weighing me down, but a lot of little things. At times like this, the best project for me is often a plain sock. And music. And deep breaths.

November 07, 2007

Comfort Zone DPNs - My Review

Comfort Zone

Since trying the Comfort Zone double-pointed needles, I'm convinced there is a needle for every knitter. While I wasn't pleased with the way they worked with sock yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock), they might be a good DPN in the larger diameters. These small needles are a bit too sharp for me and the taper is too shallow for sock knitting.

But the biggest negative for these needles (which might in fact be a positive for other knitters) is that they are TOO flexible. I discovered that I prefer a heavier, rigid needle for knitting socks. I love that you can color code your DPNs and choose the colors you want in each size. Each set has SIX needles (rather than the typical 5) and I think that's a definite plus -- there are times when you might want an extra needle to pick up stitches or to replace one you lost in your sofa or car. If you're able to knit for long periods of time (I'm not), then the flexibility factor would probably help prevent aching joints. I don't have the luxury of uninterrupted, marathon knitting sessions, so I had no way to test this feature.

If you're curious about these needles, I'll be happy to send them to the first person who comments and expresses an interest.

Bonus vintage photo after the cut:

Continue reading "Comfort Zone DPNs - My Review" »

November 06, 2007

Knit Picks DPNs - My Review

Bluebell Rib

Vanessa was kind enough to send me a surprise package a few weeks ago - two sets of Knit Picks metal DPNs -- 2.5mm and 2.75mm. Until yesterday, I'd never knit with any Knit Picks needles and although I was intrigued by the idea of metal, I hadn't planned to buy them to try out. (Oddly, I'm not at all interested in the Harmony wood DPN's). I decided to swatch with a pattern that had some yarn overs and frequent K2tog's in order to test the features of metal over wood. Typically, a K2tog or SSK with a small diameter wood needle will make me really nervous. I've broken wood needles (Brittany birch and Lantern Moon Rosewood) and nothing is more frustrating to this sock knitter than needle breakage. So, the biggest delight for me yesterday was the feeling of the total absence of worry about breakage. I chose a yarn that other knitters had mentioned was a bit splitty, but after knitting for several rounds, I was giddy about both the yarn *AND* the needles.

Aside from the fact that the needles won't break, the other positive features are the pointyness of the needles along with their longer tapered tip (a positive feature for stitch manipulation purposes). I also like the weight of the needles and the fact that the stitches on the needle don't "roll" like they tend to do on my Crystal Palace DPNs (my usual DPN of choice). I definitely enjoy them enough that I'll buy the 2.00mm and the 2.25mm ASAP. I'm curious to see if these affect my usual sock-knitting gauge and will eventually try them with Lorna's Laces to see. Bottom line -- I'm sold.

I almost forgot to mention what made me smile so big yesterday -- the pleasant sound they make when two needles touch. For some, it's not a desirable feature, but for me, it was.

For more reviews and viewpoints, check out Grumperina's post and Wendy's post about the undesirable heavier weight. But Stephanie has a great post about these also.

And please don't miss these two videos: Very Pink's Sock Knitting Style and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Sock Knitting Method.

A big thank you again to Nora for the yarn and Vanessa for the DPN's!

November 05, 2007

Malabrigo "Intenso" Stocking

:: Intenso ::

Hooray for one-skein, one sock projects! I started this sock Halloween night while I was waiting for darkness and trick-or-treating. And the following two days, this served as my waiting-in-the-car-rider-line project. It was a quick knit and counts as one of five socks I worked on during Socktoberfest.

I've started working with a skein of Shokay Shambala, and in spite of swatching it several different ways, the best-looking fabric was a humble garter stitch:

Shokay

The fiber itself feels dense and substantial and I think it will make a luxurious neckwarmer (one skein is not enough for a full-length scarf).

And since I'm the queen of one-skein projects (self-titled of course), I have to share this little bit of news -- Mary-Heather's capelet is a featured pattern on Ravelry!

MHCapelet.JPG

I've knit FOUR of these capelets from the pattern I purchased at Knit Cafe. Now it's a free pattern on her website. You can wear it several different ways -- and it's incredibly lightweight (yet warm).

capelet.jpg
Rowan Kidsilk Haze "Jelly"

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Rowan Kidsilk Haze "Liqueur"

Tomorrow's post will be the DPN review that I promised. We've been hit with two stomach viruses this past week -- the knitting has taken place in between taking care of two miserable boys.

October 27, 2007

Socktoberfest 2007 Progress

On Tuesday, I finished these socks and have already started another pair (Lorna's Laces, Shepherd Sock, "Jeans") for my older son.

Finished socks

I cast on 56 stitches with a 2.25mm double-pointed needle but knit them for about an inch with 2.0mm - I used a simple ribbing pattern throughout - K3, P1. The yarn was enjoyable to knit with but had a weird tangled knot in the middle of the ball (while I was knitting the second sock). I had to cut the yarn and when I resumed knitting, the striping pattern was a bit off resulting in mismatched toes. However, the recipient totally didn't care and insisted on trying on the socks while they were still damp. He asked me to "make them dry" so he could wear them to bed. Although I had handwashed them, I crossed my fingers and put them in a warm dryer for a bit until they got dry enough for him to wear. He LOVES them. They fared well through the dryer and the washing machine (and dryer again) the following day. The fit is great with a tiny bit of extra room in the toe to allow for growth.

The best part? His reaction to the socks and his happiness with them. It is the most awesome feeling to knit socks for somebody who loves them so much.

Orange Crocs and Socks

October 23, 2007

Sneaking by to post

Thank you all for being so kind about my new pattern. I have a lot to learn, and I appreciate the great suggestions and tweaks. It's not too late if you have suggestions - I'd love to hear them.

I've been wrestling with a cold since late Saturday and I think I've finally beaten it into submission with Airborne, Sudafed and ibuprofen. However, the last time I checked, I can't call in sick to my day job. People around here still expect to eat, wear clean clothes and get to school on time. But my "bosses" are cute and entertaining, so I can't complain. My cold has made me melancholy and nostalgic though -- I miss my sister. I miss ALL of my sisters but especially my younger sister. I'm going to share some OLD photos of us -- the rest of the post might bore you, but at least the photos might distract you:

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Karamursel AFB, Turkey, 1969

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I kept that pink bear till I was 22

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This photo was taken in 1971 - the year we moved to Oklahoma

The main reason for my sneaking by to post is my wanting to talk about some of the thoughts I've had due to the ongoing dialogue at Hannabirke. I'm linking to the entire blog because I think I'd do a disservice by just linking to bits and pieces. In a nutshell, it's caused me to think more about my role and my clothing and how my clothing reflects my life. Since I became a (mostly) stay-at-home mom in 1997, I've relished my freedom from the tyranny of pantyhose and fully embraced my daily uniform - jeans and knits. I no longer need to dress to impress (professionally) but am focused more on function, utility, comfort. But I've decided to kick it up a notch and get rid of anything that doesn't reflect my style or color preferences. There are "reasons" but it's not all that deep to anybody but me -- and it relates to my desire to look closer to my chronological age. I'm thankful for my genes and my genetic predisposition to having good skin and hair and lack of "smile" lines, but I don't know that my choice to dress so much younger than I am is making me feel the way I want to feel. The changes are likely to be imperceptible, but when I walk into a room, I want to feel a certain way and carry myself a certain way . . . for ME. And although I can't control the impressions people form when they meet me, I can control some of my own details and choices. And I'm not fishing for compliments or feedback, but I am writing things down so that I follow through. It's always been my choice NOT to wear "mom" jeans and not to be "frumpy." I do those things for myself out of self-respect, and you wouldn't believe the things people feel that they can say to somebody who takes these pains -- they treat me as if I'm forming a revolt against womankind's right to be frumpy. I am not. It's my own choice and my own decision -- one that I made many years before it was even close to being an issue. NO FRUMP. EVER. My choices don't mean I am judging you. I would put on make-up every day whether I see anybody outside my home or not.

So if you've read this far, you're probably wondering how I extrapolated all that from somebody's blog entries and why I suddenly felt compelled to ruthlessly rid myself of half the clothes in my closet (already a sparse collection) -- it was because I couldn't move forward until I released what I didn't want. You've heard "don't think about what you don't want," right? There were several things hanging in my closet that were still making me think of what I didn't want. Basically, there are emotions attached to some of my things and until those things are released, I can't release the emotions.

It's also changed my mind about things I "thought" I wanted to knit. All of this is related, believe it or not. That's why I'm releasing stash - so I can move forward. And nothing is escaping this filtering process right now -- the knitting, the projects, the way I spend my time. The blog is here to stay, however -- I love writing here; it's not going anywhere and there will be no sudden disappearance. Thank you for hanging in there with me, for reading me, commenting and sharing.

October 22, 2007

Pattern - Leaf Lace Scarf

Leaf Lace Scarf
Leaf Lace Scarf

$1.99 Pattern - Leaf Lace Scarf

I believe that the pattern is correct as written, but please let me know if you have any questions regarding the pattern or the instructions I've provided. If you knit one, I'd love to see it!

October 21, 2007

They had me at "space age polymer"

Comfort Zone
Click photo above for more information

I haven't tried them yet, but they arrived yesterday (one day turnaround?)

I taught a beginner's sock class last week and one of my students had several sets of these Comfort Zone DPNs (all the sizes they make!) in different colors. It wasn't the colors that appealed to me as much as the fact that they're unbreakable (I break my 2mm DPNs regularly). I'm not fond of the length, but I'll let you all know whether I like these needles. I just got the two sizes I use the most because I'm a bit leery of plastic needles in general.

Regular blogging to resume soon along with a free pattern for my blog readers.

October 17, 2007

Be selfish

I worked today so you don't get an in-progress photo of the Leaf Lace scarf. I'm about one third of the way into it now and still at the giddy-romance stage. I don't get tired of knitting it and often have to put it away before I'm ready. Projects should always feel this way, don't you think? I'm finally listening to myself (heart and gut) and figuring out what I enjoy knitting and wearing. Knitters - just be selfish. Knit what you love. Avoid the pressure and the bandwagon unless you see something you really want to knit. Figure out what your "style" is. And have fun.

Pumpkin dishcloth
Click on the photo for more details at Flickr


October 14, 2007

Leaves, Laurie and Llamas

Obi inspiration
Leaf Lace Scarf - photo taken before four more inches were knit

You know, it's difficult to blog about knitting progress while you're making it. I've focused on the scarf quite a bit over this past week and have become an even bigger fan of the Malabrigo laceweight. Lace knitting purists might not like this yarn, but it is so soft and easy for me to work with. It grips my needles in such a way that it's perfect for my wonky knitting technique. Paired with an Addi Lace needle, it's a dream. I'm sorry if I owe you an email or a phone call -- this project has had my devotion.

However, thanks to my friend Megan's willingness to drive to Yarntopia in Katy, Texas, I did get out to meet Laurie (Crazy Aunt Purl) and purchase a copy of her book (now autographed). When I got home, I started reading it and finished it a few hours later. You don't have to have been drunk, divorced, or covered in cat hair to enjoy this book. If you've ever hit bottom and found your way back again, you will relate to her heartfelt and humorous story. There are even a few knitting "recipes" in the back of the book, including one of Staci's. Laurie's felted bracelet bag is adorable and unique.

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If you love Rowan, Fleece Artist, Louisa Harding, and Mama Llama, Yarntopia is the perfect place to go to see a full selection of each of these yarns (they have some Rowan yarns I'd never seen in person before). Catherine of Mama Llama Knits was having her trunk show yesterday and I found some irrestible green sock yarn (the green -- it's an obsession):

Mama Llama - Green Obsession
"Forest" Mama Llama Original Sock

Time to get back to the knitting -- I have socks to finish!


October 10, 2007

Leafy Lace

Pearls and Lace

I had some decisions to make this past week -- some were happy ones and some were not so happy. And on a handful of things, I'm still in limbo. This is difficult for a decisive person. I'd rather make a wrong decision than no decision at all. One of the easier decisions last week was buying the green Malabrigo laceweight from Stephanie at Spritely Goods. I have a stitch dictionary in which I've bookmarked mostly "leaf" lace patterns and I had to have this gorgeous spring green for one of my favorites. It arrived the same day I was using 4mm green freshwater pearls in a necklace. While my idea to use the two together hasn't worked out, I'm still moving along on a wonderful organic leaf lace pattern.

Other Malabrigo lace on the needles is the Pearl Ten colorway for the Orchid Lace Scarf. This is the pattern I won as part of Brenda's contest on her blog, Molecular Knitting. I've cast on and placed my markers but now need lace needles. I thought I could manage without them, but I don't find much joy in knitting lace with blunt-tipped bamboo.

Swatch - Malabrigo Lace
Orchid Lace, I haven't abandoned you

In light of all of this unfinished lace business and unfinished decisions, I want to share with you some things that dropped into my inbox this past week -- timely and unexpectedly helpful treasures:

From Ali Edwards' AEZine: Why Wait? - read the entire thing. Don't wait.

From Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Insights(TM) Newsletter (a brief quote for you while I try to figure out if the entire article is on his website): "How do you establish the habit of thinking about what you want? First, do your best to catch yourself thinking about what you don't want, and consciously stop and replace those thoughts with positive alternatives. It doesn't matter if the alternatives are realistic or not." It's a great article about consciously and purposely replacing WORRY with DESIRE.

And finally, another from Ali Edwards' AEZine: Creative Sharing: "Sharing information and concepts and skills helps us all. There is power in sharing - acquiring knowledge and then passing it on. One of the best ways to become ever more adept at your skills, and hone your own personal creative philosophies, is to teach someone else."

(Comments closed due to SPAM, please contact me via the link on my blog sidebar if you have any questions)

October 05, 2007

Feeling like Fall

Socks with Crocs
ONline Supersocke 100, Holiday - Color 90

Earlier this week, I shared my Socktoberfest 2007 goal of knitting socks for my family. My husband already has handknit socks, so I'm focusing on knitting socks for each of the kids -- and using yarn in their favorite colors.

My youngest son loves orange -- he even chose orange Crocs this past summer. His older brother chose a safer color -- blue Crocs. They'll each get socks to match their Crocs. My daughter loved the Madeline Tosh "Lettuce Leaf" sock yarn so I'm going to knit her socks with those. Can I knit three pairs of socks by the end of October? We'll see.

I also recently finished a basic ribbed beanie with leftover Cascade 220. I've got another hat on the needles but it's a "practice" hat for my son. For a number of reasons, his learning to knit hasn't been our focus this past week, but we have a long weekend coming up and I hope to take advantage of the extra time.

Basic Beanie

The thought has kind of crept up on me that I need to knit more for my family. I love the idea of knitting for charity, but I want each of my kids to each have useful things that are handknit by their mom. How shameful would it be if I knit hats (or socks or scarves) for others when my own kids don't have them?

Thank you very much to those of you who've helped me release some of my stash! I've figured out that the "stash" number on Ravelry is static regardless of whether a yarn has been moved from the main stash page to the "for sale/trade" page. I'm trying not to obsess about that too much. Part of me would like the overall stash number to decrease. Most of what I've released are yarns I've had for two or more years -- some are yarns I purchased as a new knitter. And there's a bit more to come if you all are still interested. It's very empowering to think about the future "dream" projects and figure out what I most enjoy knitting and what I get excited about. Socks. Scarves. Shawls. Hats. I'm learning that I like simple, classic clothing best on me. It's just all very enlightening and I hope to be able to work through some of my thoughts and put them here soon.

Last but not least, I put together a lovely bracelet based on some inspiration about the meaning behind turquoise gemstones. I had enough gemstones and closures to make two bracelets, so I'm keeping one and selling one:

Turquoise

If you're interested, the bracelet is $39 and includes postage and handling (now spoken for). As before, the first person to express an interest will have priority.

October 01, 2007

Fleece Artist Handmaiden Sea Wool Socks

Fleece Artist Handmaiden "Forest"

I thought I had blogged about this sock already, but I now realize I haven't. Although it's just another plain sock (slideshow here), I wanted to share a few details about the yarn -- it's an intriguing combination of wool and "sea cell" (seaweed?) The color was what was so appealing to me so I bought it (via Yarntopia) with the intention of having something to knit as my "waiting in line" socks. It was unusual to knit with, but once it's washed it feels amazing -- soft and cool on the feet. My only concern was running out of yarn, yet I ended up having enough to knit a pair (with a tiny bit left over).

And . . . Socktoberfest 2007 is starting today! Here's some information from Lolly's Ravelry Socktoberfest group:

"A very simple concept with very few restrictions - Socktoberfest is a month-long (throughout the month of October) celebration of socks. It is a simple celebration of the accessories that we make as crafters to cover our feet. Think of it more as a festival than a knitalong - people who love something come together and celebrate it!"

My goal for Socktoberfest this year is to knit a pair of socks for each family member who doesn't yet have a pair -- and using my sock yarn stash to do so.

And, if you're interested in the Flickr group, here's the link: Socktoberfest on Flickr

Happy first day of Socktober!

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September 22, 2007

Yarn Harlot (Post 2 of 2)

Harlot_Visit.jpg

I wanted to wait to post part two of the Yarn Harlot's Houston Visit because I knew that several others would end up with more entertaining stories and photos than I have (and now many of you know why I don't have a publishable photo with Stephanie). I wasn't disappointed! I've really enjoyed reading all of the accounts of her visit and viewing others' photos.

Here are a handful for your reading (and photo viewing) pleasure, in no particular order:

Twisted Yarns
Plum Texan, Post 1
Plum Texan, Post 2
Sea Anemone Knits
Twisted Texan
Big Pink Cookie (of Pointy Sticks' podcast fame)
Sweater Project
Knitivity / Knitterman
Knit RN
Everwhelming Liz

One of the highlights of her book signing at the shop was when she picked up Heather's in-progress "sweater of many stitches" (on straight needles) and started knitting -- I got a good look at her method of hooking one needle under her right arm while she knits. Although I know that many people knit this way (including Deb Stoller), I had never seen it in person.

Perhaps to some of you who don't read her blog regularly, the reaction to her visit seems a bit overblown -- I think you'll get it if you go see her when she visits your town. And to Debbie in Georgia, I just have to say that I was equally as impressed with your blog entry about her Atlanta visit and loved getting a glimpse of your yarn store and southern hospitality.

September 20, 2007

Yarn Harlot (Post 1 of 2) :: Cosmic Twist

By now you've heard a bit here and there about the Yarn Harlot's visit to Houston (Spring), Texas -- hosted by Twisted Yarns. I had a great time -- Stephanie was wonderful and gracious and VERY funny. The whole night almost made me forget that I had a dentist appointment the next morning -- for what was supposed to be a routine cleaning. Yikes. Nearly two hours in the chair, nitrous oxide and many shots later (and a sore jaw today), along with a much lighter bank account, I still feel too loopy to properly post the details of Stephanie's visit. It deserves a detailed post.

I really thought she would be funny JUST about knitting - and that perhaps she'd say a lot of things about stash and yarn that were kind of funny. Wrong. She's funny about everything -- things totally unrelated to knitting. And though I would like to share those with you, I don't know how. Just do go see her if you get a chance.

So instead of writing about my evening with the Harlot, I'm watching funny movies trying to get back in a writing and knitting mood. I emailed two people yesterday who I knew would get a laugh out of the one photo that managed to turn out okay of me and Stephanie (taken while she was signing my book). And I can't post it. (But if you're nice and I know you and you have a wicked sense of humor . . . leave a comment and we'll see).

Monday night I was really tired and my seven-year old son asked me to teach him how to knit so he could knit ME some socks. For me. From him. Soft socks, he said. I cast on some scrap yarn on huge needles and was sweating profusely trying to show him how to do a knit stitch. He ended up transferring stitches from one needle to another without wrapping them first. Because I was tired, I promised him I would teach him soon and help him, but it seemed difficult for me to figure out a way that he could grasp the idea of knitting -- because he REALLY wants to knit me some socks. All day Tuesday while he was at school, I agonized over it and he mentioned it again in the car on the way home from school. But I had to leave him ALL NIGHT to go see Stephanie speak. And you know . . . in the middle of the funny, she gave me the answer (and it's in Knitting Rules too). You teach a beginner to knit by casting on for a hat and YOU knit several rounds before handing them the needles so they can knit. By the time they're tired of knitting, it might be really close to time for decreasing. She doesn't mention purling -- instead it's "the opposite of knitting" (perhaps paraphrased). And I thought it was brilliant. So in case he brought it up again, I thought I'd have a hat "ready" for him to knit. I cast on last night at the boys' bedtime. My oldest son just wanted to be tucked in and my seven-year old was still a bit too wiggly. He sat up in my bed and watched me cast on and yawned and said, "I still want to learn how to knit," and fell asleep.

Here are the photos I've uploaded so far -- in slideshow format.

September 08, 2007

Fleece Artist Somoko

Oh, I know I already bragged shamelessly mentioned that I won some gorgeous Fleece Artist Somoko, but I had to show it to you:

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And, along with the yarn and a sweet card, I also received a package of smoked almonds and strawberry drops in a tin. Equally as exciting was winning the pattern for Anne's Orchid Lace Scarf. It's the same pattern that Staci knit when she won my red Malabrigo Laceweight yarn. And now I have a chance to knit this wonderful scarf as well. It's come full circle, don't you think? Thank you so much, Brenda.

Some of you might remember a previous post in which I asked for recommendations for new blogs to add to my sidebar. You all shared some wonderful blogs and I've been slowly reading and adding some of your favorites. I added your names to a drawing for a book I'm giving away -- The Crafter's Companion. Felicia of Fluffy Flowers was my winner! I also chose one more winner to receive a Knit Whits felted flower kit -- Kim of Chronic Ennui.

Congratulations Felicia and Kim!! I'll be contacting you via email to get your addresses.

(Comments closed due to SPAM - if you have any questions, contact me via the link on my blog sidebar)

September 07, 2007

Imaginary blog entries

It feels like I posted blog entries since last week, but I guess I only wrote them in my head.

I have some overdue thanks to post and one of them is for an impromptu Back2School swap I joined at the last minute. My swap partner was Stacey of Crimson Purl. Even though this swap was open to anybody (not just knitters), I was glad to be paired with a knitter anyway. I had a great time picking "supplies" for her and was delighted with what she chose for me:

Back2SchoolSwap.jpg

She included a cute hand-stamped card and everything was packed inside a plastic pencil box with a lime green lid -- there were yellow and orange star-shaped Post-it® notes, Post-it® tape flags, orange highlighter tape (knitters -- are you using this tape?), mini mechanical pencils, highlighters, a spiral-bound notepad and a book cover. I love the thoughtful touch of her having color-coordinated everything. Thank you, Miss Stacey!

August 28, 2007

De-ruffled and redone :: SURSA

De-ruffled and Redone:

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I knit my first Sursa in my favorite NORO SIlk Garden Colorway (84) and loved it and wore it many times. Since knitting my second Sursa, I decided to take off the green ruffle on my first Sursa. I love it both ways, but the de-ruffled version weighs much less and the ruffle won't be the most prominent thing about the shawl any longer. I had forgotten how much of the Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky I had used -- nearly 100 grams. Probably not the best idea to use that particular yarn, but I loved the green so much. And now the wonderful reds in the Silk Garden seem to pop so much more.

Are you on Ravelry yet?

Ravelry has proven to be a wonderful resource for project management and planning. It's delightful to get reacquainted with my finished projects and my wonderful stash. When I dig through my yarns to take photos, I find that I am the happiest when I play with my sock yarns. (Do you think my stash is trying to tell me something)? I probably wouldn't have taken note of it had I not just read this entry on Grumperina's (Kathy's) blog: A Complete Knitter. I'm not ready yet to say I'm not a sweater knitter -- I think I still might be. But I don't get as excited about my sweater yarns as I do my sock yarns. And also . . . while I love the *idea* of lace knitting (and have the lace patterns and yarn to prove it), the reality of lace is that my lifestyle doesn't lend itself to the intense concentration that's required. And the message from the knit-universe seems to be that simply ASKING lace knitters for help will likely be met with an incredulous, "Oh that's so easy," (not for me) or "you should be able to do that" (I'm not). I no longer have anybody nearby who is willing to help me with my knitting -- lace or otherwise. I'm supposed to figure it out on my own. But I know that I know socks -- thanks to good friends and the internet.

And did you hear? I won something! I commented regarding the lovely sock yarn Brenda had on her blog and -- I WON THAT YARN!! How generous of Brenda (thank you!) to enable my shameful commenting and greed. It's a wonderful colorway that I think was meant for me and I said so. Thank you, Brenda! Go check out her blog, Molecular Knitting, and add her to your reads. She posts great cocktails made by her beloved "M." I rarely drink, but now I know where to go if I want to try to mix something fun. And there's knitting too . . . and sometimes beading.

Speaking of blogging, I came across a great entry regarding blogging: Remedies for the Small Blogger Blues. Some background: I had unwisely allowed myself to get sucked into reading what became an unpleasant thread on a message board regarding blogging. This blog entry was a refreshing reminder about where my focus should be. Read it and then go ahead and click over to the one about "branding."

I'm still trying to get in to a groove now that school's started. I don't have as much open-ended time as I thought I would, but I am making an effort to work on my goals -- even if it's just thirty minutes a day. During the school year, that will add up to 5400 minutes of FOCUSED effort towards something I want to achieve. I don't know if that's as interesting to you as it is to me . . . but, WOW . . . 5400 minutes.

Comments are turned off on this entry

August 24, 2007

Knitting Socks :: Beginners

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Trekking XXL, Color 66 (from Loops, Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Crystal Palace DPNs - 2.25 mm
Plain stockinette sock

I debated whether I wanted to post a photo of plain socks but decided that there are still plenty of new sock knitters out there -- and I still love knitting plain socks! When I was just beginning to attempt sock knitting, I remember being frustrated at my inability to find much for beginners. I needed photos (lots of them) along with clearly-written step-by-step instructions (which I almost prefer over photos alone).

So if you're just starting to knit socks or need a refresher, I highly recommend this Knitter's Review How-to: The Sock Knitter's Companion.

And though I've shared these links before, I'm sharing them again -- I still refer to them each time I knit plain socks:

Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program
Heels by Number
Kitchener Instructions - Knitty

For fun, here's an older blog entry of mine where I recap what I got out of Lolly's Socktoberfest 2006.

There are so many ways to knit and enjoy socks -- if you tried DPNs and didn't like them, try magic loop, or knitting with two circular needles, or one 12" circular needle (somewhat appealing to me).You might prefer toe-up to cuff down -- or the stunning logic of knitting two toe-up socks on two circs might be what you've waited for to attempt sock knitting. (Consider this a nudge for those of you who are interested in the idea of knitting socks. If you're not interested, I still love you anyway).

As for me, you'll find me with my wood or bamboo DPNs and knitting one sock at a time, cuff first. Always. It's risky (I might run out of yarn) and carries a low commitment (I might decide I don't want to knit the second sock). It's just my way of living on the edge, embracing the risk.

Thank you all so much for sharing your favorite blog links! I had some time to explore some new-to-me blogs last night and found or rediscovered some wonderful ones. I'm still adding links to the sidebar so feel free to continue to leave your suggestions.

Comments are closed on this entry. Please leave a comment on a recent blog entry if you have questions about sock knitting.

August 23, 2007

Finished and nearly so

I have a finished knit that I wasn't able to show here until my mom received it. Since she often gets chilly, I knit her a Sursa (Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, Book 2) with NORO Silk Garden, Color 241. I knit it without a ruffle this time.

SursaIIa.jpg

Erica was here this week and we caught up on some shopping. She can shop anytime and anywhere, and for me, it's something I have to mentally prepare for. We had a great time and also managed to fit in haircuts (both of us) and highlights.

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Having another woman in the house changes the energy level and focus considerably. She's been interested in hair, makeup and clothes since she was able to walk and talk. So, once again, I have had somebody who wants to be with me in the bathroom when I put on my makeup and fix my hair. I've missed it. And while I tend to prefer to wear my favorite jeans and a t-shirt (the extent of my thought is which of three t-shirts I want to wear) everyday, it's not unusual for Erica to change her outfit at least three times before she makes a final decision. And that's not a bad thing . . . it's just different.

And because I've been in a state of near-panic over the realization that Christmas is a mere 4 months away (thanks, Nora), I've been making lists like crazy in attempt to feel less scattered. While I usually don't plan to knit many Christmas gifts, I have several December and January birthdays to think about. Capturing my plans on paper has helped.

Finally, not all of the knitting blogs I read are on my sidebar, but I'm working on adding them. Please do me a favor and leave me a comment and let me know your favorite knitting and creativity blogs. There might be prizes involved again.

August 18, 2007

Stash confessions *

I love the idea of someday being a stashless knitter, but for now, I'm not. My favorite thing to stash is sock yarn and I have lovely friends who are wonderful enablers:

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Blue Moon, Socks that Rock - "Jade" from a swap with iSeL

I don't know if it's a good idea to wind yarn that you're not going to use immediately, but it's the only way I know to get an idea of how the variegated colors will behave. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished winding the "Jade" Socks that Rock. I love this green and it might become something other than socks. I'll play with it first and then decide. I can't wait to swatch and it might accidentally lead to actual knitting.

From Nora and The Knittery (Australia!), another swap that yielded two lovely skeins of cashmere / merino sock yarn in Deep Reds and Natural Cream (not shown):

Nora_Knittery_Reds.jpg

Once again, I had to wind the red skein immediately. I received the yarn on the day I was going through old photo albums and memorabilia, so I photographed the yarn is sitting on top of the old black photo album (protected by a vintage handkerchief). Of course, I think the red should become socks. Cashmere belongs on one's feet, right? (It is unbelievably soft). And I might even have to copy the same socks that Nora knit with the beautiful reds.

In spite of shameful sock stashing, I try to have an idea what I'm going to knit (patternwise) for everything I stash. I give myself permission to change my mind often! But for the most part, nothing gets put away in the stash basket without an initial plan, an idea.

As I was composing this "stashful" blog entry yesterday, I cruised my usual knitblog reads and saw that my favorite stashless knitter, Staci of Very Pink, nominated me for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award.

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I'm so honored! But I'm very embarrassed that I haven't yet mentioned the nomination I got from Liz of Athena Dreams! Thank you, Liz & Staci! In your honor, I'm going to listen to my favorite rockin' chick mix today.

And, to spread the love, I'm nominating Nora, iSeL, Stacey & Stacey. You ladies ROCK!

* This post brought to you by the name "Stacey / Staci"


August 10, 2007

Two worlds and a new knit

It’s been a quiet time – my mind is quiet, my environment is quiet. I don’t know whether to attribute that to having spent a lot less time online, but I suspect that’s a large part of it. I’m not as distracted. I see more.

Last night while we were watching a movie with the kids, I started something I could knit in the semi-dark. I’ve re-purposed the yarn I was using for the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl – a dark green Cascade 220 worsted – to knit the Turtleneck Tube Vest in Fitted Knits (Stefanie Japel). The heat and the yarn have me anticipating cooler weather and autumn.

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And . . . I happened upon something yesterday that I feel explains who I am. Two grandfathers, two lives and two desperately different men. On this continent was a man who worked in a West Virginia coal mine. Across the ocean, there’s another man who wasn’t a laborer – he worked in the insurance industry. Both of these men are where I’m from. And until yesterday I had never seen a photo of my paternal grandfather and it was completely by accident that I found it in my Dad’s things:

John, 1945:

john1945.jpg

I can’t describe how these photos answer questions for me, but they do. Pieces suddenly fit and I understand everything.

Ryokichi:

Ryokichi.jpg

August 03, 2007

Boom, Flash, Sizzle

Due to a sudden thunderstorm last night, I am now plodding along on dial-up. My cable modem is fried! (I sincerely apologize to you dial-up users, because I now know how long it takes to load my image-heavy blog).

This is what I've been working on.

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It's the Kushu Kushu Kit (Kit #78) from Habu Textiles. I'm using grass green merino and gray silk stainless steel. Did you know they also make a wool stainless steel?

If I'm not mistaken, Vanessa's blog entry about her Habu scarf probably managed to start the Kushu Kushu craze. Olga had already worked with Habu and blogged about it as well. Early on, I clicked back and forth between Vanessa's and Olga's blogs to try to figure out which colors I wanted to use for my own Kushu Kusha scarf. So when Takako and the Habu Trunk Show came to Twisted Yarns, I was already feverish about getting my own stainless steel and merino Habu. My knitting progress is slow at the moment, but it's the only thing I'm working on right now. I'm not the only one who's found this scarf compelling -- check out Nora's, iSeL's, and Kat's. As if that's not enough, there's a great Flickr group also.


July 22, 2007

Returning

Returning to this blog, the rhythmic routine of my life, will be a process. I've got a lot to share and haven't decided whether to manage that in one blog entry or spread it across several. I highly recommend a planned break from blogging. I'm renewed and refreshed. Thank you, readers, for hanging in there until I return.

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Have you ever tried to chip away at something to uncover the REAL things? For me, it's been a process of doing this on my own behalf. I expose myself to so many visual treats and ideas that I have to force myself to stop and filter them for my own benefit. I reminded myself that I'm fortunate enough right now to be able to knit what I love with the yarns and materials that I enjoy. I don't have the luxury of large blocks of time (do any of us?) but I am blessed to be able to knit for pure enjoyment. So my returning focus is that I will be keeping that in mind (with a healthy dose of self-discipline) while I decide what to tackle next (whether knitting or otherwise) -- and doing so not out of guilt or shame regarding discarded ideas, but by aggressively pursuing what I love. With focus.

(I'm not officially back yet . . . but soon. I will be replying to older emails and comments in about a week)

June 25, 2007

Knitted Clutch - Mystery Project Revealed

In spite of the lack of fanfare, here it is:

KnittedClutch.jpg

I've still head over heels in love with Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky, but I'm going to fiddle with this clutch a bit longer until it becomes exactly what I had envisioned. It will need lining and also a closure. I also want to replace the lower-quality ribbon for something a bit nicer. I want it to be rigid and satiny -- but not quite THIS rigid. I'll know it when I see it. This also isn't the color I wanted, but it's all I could find.

KnittedClutchWidth.jpg

If anybody's interested, I'll write up a pattern (more like guidelines -- it's pretty straightforward). And here's a slideshow also.

Plymouth Boku

I'm going to share a blog I'm addicted to -- Color + Design Blog -- specifically, today's entry: Color Inspiration: Knit Socks of All Sorts. There's a lot there -- prepare to be overwhelmed.

I might end up having two blog entries today - one for a finished BOKU bag and a separate entry for the Blue Sky Alpacas project. Here's the bag knit with one skein of Plymouth BOKU:

BOKUBag.jpg

Here's the in-progress photo I took yesterday:

BOKUBag1.jpg

I had a few issues while I was knitting with the BOKU - while I love the colorways (especially this one - #8), I had some sort of adverse reaction while I was working with it. I was fine after I put it away and I think it's okay since it's been felted. It was such a quick project that I wasn't going to abandon it, but if I was knitting something larger with it, I would have had to stop.

Behind the scenes around here, I've been brainstorming some HABU combinations (for myself and other HABU fans) and also preparing for the arrival of the supplies I need for assembly of my Etsy wares.

Continue reading "Plymouth Boku" »

June 24, 2007

Mysteries and Mitts

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The mystery project can't be seamed until it's dry. Thanks to high humidity and really bulky yarn, it's still quite damp. If it dries in time for me to seam and I still have enough daylight, I'll have the photo I planned to have today.

I cast on for fingerless mitts with my Malabrigo since I was waiting for the Blue Sky Alpacas' item to dry:

malabrigomitts.jpg

I cast on 32 stitches for the fingerless mitts and knit about 2-1/2 inches of ribbing then started on the stockinette portion. I tried it on a few times to figure out when to increase and set aside stitches for the thumb. It's really a joy to work with because of the variegation and softness -- I'm sure it will also make a wonderful sweater.

June 23, 2007

Blue Sky Alpacas - Bulky Naturals

I'm nearly finished with something I wanted to try knitting with this:

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It's as soft as it looks. Blue Sky Alpacas is one of my favorite yarn companies and everything of theirs that I've knit with has been consistently wonderful.

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Though this accessory might be somewhat impractical, that was part of the appeal for me. I wanted something simple and unfussy to show off the stitches. And . . . even if it turns out horrible, I'll still share the finished product when it's seamed and dry.

I also picked up some gorgeous Malabrigo worsted weight yarn to knit some fingerless mitts:

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It's a great way to test-drive a yarn for a future sweater -- I love the yarn and I love the color and it's soft enough to be worn next to the skin.

June 17, 2007

Soft Drawstring Pouch

This was the reason I bought Last Minute Knitted Gifts last year:

AlpacaSilkPouch.jpg

I love the idea of knitted gift packaging and the Blue Sky Alpacas' Alpaca and Silk has been languishing in my stash since August 2006. I made the i-cord tie called for in the pattern but decided to try the Hana silk ribbon instead and love it. The Blue Sky Alpacas yarns I've worked with improve noticeably after washing and blocking -- the softness and sheen of this bag makes me want to buy more (which is a bit counterintuitive to the idea of knitting what's in the stash!). I used my favorite Soak fiber wash - A Scent for Celebration - to soak the bag before blocking overnight. (For a handful of you who love all things Amy Butler -- there's a new limited edition Soak -- "Sola" by Amy Butler).

And although I'll probably jinx myself by saying it, I've been motivated to continue working on evaluating the stash and finishing works-in-progress. The stash cull has been ruthless, but I feel a lot of peace about my decisions. I'm also relieved about having frogged this. I fell out of love with it when I took it off the needles and put it on waste yarn to try it on. I noticed something unfixable that I had done in the first several rows (plus two other small mistakes I had decided to live with). So although I was nearly finished with it, I frogged it and the yarn is waiting to become something else now. Because I was knitting this for a loved one, my standards were higher -- and I had to balance whether finishing it would even yield something the recipient would love. It's probably not a good idea to give a shawl to somebody who's never worn one. (And, yes, I should have thought this through before casting on). I think I'll knit her a cardigan in a soft, feminine color and I'll make sure it's machine-washable. Have you tried Louet Gems Worsted yet? It's what I plan to use -- with a Knitting Pure and Simple cardigan pattern. Until then, I'm focusing on season- and climate-appropriate knits like sleeveless shells and tanks for myself. I'm tired of knitting for the wrong season.

And, last but not least, I wanted to share some lovely things that have been given to me as gifts or just out of pure thoughtfulness:

Lovely gifts and thoughtfulness

Thank you to my co-workers as well as Nora, Vanessa, Kim and Paul.

June 13, 2007

I'm not short on ideas . . . I'm just short

I'm not short on ideas or inspiration but I do sometimes lack focus and discipline. No surprise there! But having put some of my ideas and thoughts out there, I feel I have a responsibility to at least update on my progress.

First, I want to mention that there's nothing at Ravelry any of you are missing out on if you're not "in" yet. When you get your invitation, you'll catch up quickly if you're already taking photos of your knits and stash and uploading them to Flickr. It's a database and an organization tool. If there's one thing that Ravelry will give you that is currently impossible or unwieldy to do, is a quick way of figuring out who has knit something -- the Monkey socks, for instance. (And you won't believe how many people have knit Monkey).

All of this organization has tied in nicely with what I was already doing in preparation for my new Etsy venture. I always do a major purge and declutter right before I launch something new and this is no exception. It has helped to contain information somewhere in addition to this blog. (There's nothing over there that isn't here, btw). The backstory -- one of the most effective time management books for me is Getting Things Done by David Allen. Ravelry is a collection bucket. It won't replace blogging (at least I hope it doesn't make you all stop blogging) and it's not a social networking site (I thought it was a knitter's version of MySpace -- it's not). So don't despair if you're not in yet. You will be. And with that, I'll now shut up about Ravelry.

Much more importantly, I have a few things I want to share that have inspired me - this lovely project bag from Lisa L handmade by her friend from recycled kimono fabric:

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(There's a Monkey inside)

and a Zakka Bag from Nora:

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with some stitch markers:

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And while you're clicking, please go see this lovely Kusha Kusha scarf that Kat knit. It was even beautiful before she felted it. Someday I'll knit my own Kusha Kusha

Finally, this fabric I've been wanting for the Amy Butler Cabo Halter (I bought the pattern from ReproDepot over a year ago):

Amy Butler Fabric

Tomorrow I'll have more lovely things to post. It's a blessing to have access to so much inspiration out there along with so much kindness and generosity of spirit. Thank you all.

June 11, 2007

We thought the blog was enough

We thought the blog was enough, the Flickr an enhancement, and the knitting journal de rigeur. And all of it is still good and necessary, but Ravelry is the cherry on the sundae. When you get your invite (and you will, I'm quite sure), plan to spend hours getting your projects added. It's all worth it.

(If you're a knitter or crocheter and you haven't already requested an invite, go to Ravelry.com and scroll down to the lower righthand corner . . . add your email).

The biggest surprise was how much knititng I have actually finished -- much more than I thought. And what I love most about Ravelry is that it is database-driven. It is something I would have loved to have hobbled together myself -- and yet, I couldn't have done a fraction of what they did.

I don't think it will change the way I blog, but I'll be linking to photos on Flickr more often. I'll be making it a point to shoot better photos of my finished knits also.

Rowan Soft Lux
Click photo above to see more on Flickr

And guess what else I figured out? I'm addicted to Rowan Calmer -- stashing it, that is. Although I haven't stashed any in 2007, I did buy a sweater's worth of Calmer in 2004:

Rowan Calmer "Joy"
For "Audrey" - Rowan Magazine 35

2005:

Rowan Calmer 2005 Stash
For Rowan "Soul"

and 2006:

Rowan Calmer 2006 Stash
For a future CeCe

Today I've committed to taking a break from entering stuff in Ravelry -- but that doesn't mean I won't be there scoping out what other knitters are working on.

June 04, 2007

Birthday Monkey

Birthday Monkey

Pattern: Monkey from Knitty (Winter 2006)
Sock Yarn: Mama Llama Sock Yarn in Twisted Yarns Colorway
Needles: Lantern Moon Sox Stix, Ebony, Size 1 (2.25mm)


May 15, 2007

Discovery

I've figured it out. It's more difficult to write an exciting blog entry about knitting when there is no NEW knitting to show. Could it be that project monogamy influences my blogging habits? I used to be predictable about starting something new whenever the work-in-progress began to be a little less . . . exciting. Now I stick with it through the boring parts and am more blog-silent because of it.

However, the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl continues to engage me. I'm at the point now where a row is over 170 stitches -- and still growing by 2 stitches every other row. And in spite of the craziness around here, I do have something delightful to share; it's a beautiful project bag made by Olga for an impromptu swap:

CHANEL Fabric Project Bag from Olga

It's large enough to carry at least one skein (but up to three skeins easily) of a sock-in-progress in addition to related supplies (needles, DPNs, even a knitting handbook if you need it). And she sells these cute commuter box bags in her Etsy shop. I love her touch of having the matching Swarovski crystals on the zipper pull. Thank you so much, Olga.

And the upcoming project I hinted at in my last entry? It's not the tank top, but the paper lanterns from Alterknits:

paperlanterns.jpg

These have been on my "must-knit-someday" list for a while but until last week, I didn't have the Shosenshi linen paper yarn or the Paper Moire from Habu. But thanks to somebody who graciously ventured into the Habu Textiles showroom for me, I now have exactly what I need to make the lanterns.

And following a theme that Elizabeth discovered a while back, I'm going to bury something important at the bottom of my entry. I decided that undertaking a podcast is too huge of a commitment right now. I don't have the time to listen to them, much less record my own. (Reality has set in). Instead, I'm going to indulge a different creative urge. I can't mention much or show you anything right now, but it involves Etsy, new domain registration and more. I'll give you more details on my birthday. I'm excited about it!

May 08, 2007

Spit Splicing

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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

A few years ago, my friend Mariann told me about spit-splicing -- and today, I did it for the first time. Spit-splicing is done in order to create a continuous length of yarn and eliminate the need to join then weave in ends later. For my garter stitch shawl, it's the best method to use because I don't want to have a "wrong" side and I didn't want to join my yarn in the center of the shawl or on the ends if I could "splice" the yarn. I used Nancy Bush's method of actually putting the yarn in my mouth instead of spitting in to my hand -- it sounds gross, but it works.

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And there's been progress too. I'm on Row 138 of about 280 total rows. And it's so tough for me, but I'm going to stick with the one-project-at-a-time thing -- and right now, this is the one project. So forgive me if this is the last in-progress shot you'll see of this shawl. You can't get more boring than a dark, solid-color garter stitch that grows ever so slowly. However, this is also the time where I allow myself to consider what I'm knitting after I finish this, and since I've gotten the needles necessary (Addi Lace, Size 4) to continue another Cheryl Oberle shawl, that's my next "big" project to finish (or in this case, frog and re-knit).

By the way -- In each of the photos above, I've given you a peek at a future knit.

May 04, 2007

Garter Stitch

garter stitch.jpg
Yarn: Cascade 220, Color #8267


After knitting laceweight Malabrigo on Size 3's, the Size 8 Addi Turbos that I'm using now feel like clubs -- but it's a nice change. I've been craving something simple, something that's just garter stitch throughout. It feels comfortable and common -- like this shawl will be when it's finished.

I was inspired by this, which is what I actually started before losing the love for it rather quickly. It was too dense and I wasn't looking forward to knitting the edging (although it's wonderful, I think it's too fiddly for what I wanted this shawl to represent). So I frogged and started the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's book, Folk Shawls. When this shawl is finished, I'll re-visit the other Cheryl Oberle shawl I've been working on.

I'll wear this garter stitch shawl, but ultimately I want to send it to a loved one.

May 01, 2007

Finished Dragon Scale Scarf

Finished Dragon Scale Scarf
Click photo for more details at Flickr

April 30, 2007

Transitions

I'm in a state of flux right now, but it's not a bad thing. It's just necessary.

My sister left yesterday and we both feel inspired and ready to reach for the changes instead of running from them. While our parents are making adjustments in their respective life stages, we're considering some changes to their care, and we daughters are continuing to work as a team. When we get on the other side of this, I might feel better about sharing some of the things we've been through. I know my blog has been quiet lately and that's why.

Thanks to Sallie, I have new information regarding my Dad's genealogy. My sister also found an envelope containing our mom's Japanese family history -- a certified copy provided by my uncle, circa 1988. Now all I need is a translator (we're working on that), to figure out which one of my ancestors was a samurai. My uncle had mentioned a long time ago that he was working on getting the family history together for me but I didn't realize he had sent it to my mom.

I'm almost finished (still) with the Dragon Scale Scarf and have chosen my next knitting project -- it literally came to me in a dream. It's a project I've had at the back of my mind, but didn't really think I'd actually KNIT it or wear, but I dreamed that I just needed to knit it and it's very plain and unspectacular. How do you like how vague I am?

Also in the works -- a design project. I'm hesitant to even put out there that I'm designing something -- but I am. It's something I'm hoping to teach as a class in the Fall for beginning knitters who are new to knitting in the round. Sometimes simple is best.

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April 27, 2007

Habu Kusha Kusha Scarf

Kushu Kushu
From the Habu Trunk Show

April 20, 2007

Furoshiki Kerchief

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Kerchief from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, (p.45)

It's wearable gift wrap & furoshiki

Yarn Used:
HABU 2/10 Kusaki Zome, A4, Color 24 (100% Silk)
HABU 1/12 Silk Mohair Kusa A32B, Color 23 (60% mohair, 40% silk)
(both yarns carried together while knitting)

Needles:
Size 6 Clover Bamboo Circular

Finished Size – 20” across top edge, 10” high from bottom point to top edge

Here's a Washington Post article about Japanese Gift Wrapping and another at Whip Up: Gift Wrapping, Japanese Style. I love the idea of using fabric or knitting to wrap gifts. Last Minute Knitted Gifts offers several ideas throughout the book for using your knitting to embellish your handknit gifts.

In the past, I've knit i-cord (scroll down) out of yarn scraps and used it to tie a tissue-paper wrapped bundle. Hemp and linen are great for making tassels. Fuzzy wools make wonderful pom-poms. Use your stash to create your own eco-friendly gift wrap.

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April 11, 2007

Detoxify, Purge & Renew

I've stopped reading and watching toxic material and I've purged some unpleasantness in order to make room in my mind for new and better things. (The things that I find toxic might not be an affront to anybody else, so I'm not sharing my list here).

Since ridding myself of those things, I've been craving color -- vibrant, bold, energizing color. Things have been gray and neutral in my thoughts for far too long. It finally occurred to me that some of the things that I choose to watch and read have been contributing to that.

Color might not do for you what it does for me, but it injects energy into whatever I'm working through. For instance, collaging some big changes in 2003:

Print of 2003 Altered Book Spread

Exploring some possibilities in 2005:

Colored Brads

Taking some joy in something simple in 2007:

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And for all points in between, there's knitting:

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I don't know if I'll ever get used to hearing bad news. Yesterday we found out that Sassy has heartworm disease (most likely she had it before we adopted her in late October). She's a young dog and otherwise very healthy. I'm sure the reason she's now a member of our family is so that we can be the ones to see that she gets the best possible treatment (which won't actually begin till November 2007).

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts regarding project monogamy vs. project A.D.D. I'm in both camps. I won't say that I'll always be project-monogamous, but for now, I see the value. If it's lace, there's a rhythm. You don't want to set it aside too long. If it's a garment, same thing. For lace, I'll definitely stay focused because there's such a wonderful payoff.

April 06, 2007

Dragon Scale Scarf Part Two

These are the last in-progress shots I'll share till I'm finished:

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I've mentioned to some of you that I'm trying to stick to ONE knitting project until I'm finished. I am allowing myself to either work on swatches or socks on the side, but for the most part I am remaining project-monogamous.

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The in-progress shots help ME to see that I'm keeping a decent pace and staying on track. Otherwise, it just feels weird for me to stick to one thing. If it gets too monotonous (rarely), I get up and wind some yarn or clean out my knitting basket. I daydream about what to choose for my next knitting project. I haven't made a final decision yet, but I want to choose something that won't require the purchase of more yarn. I'm not ready to go completely stash-less, but there are some things I've been wanting to work on and finish. Should it be another lace project?

My own little exception to this project monogamy rule is that I can allow myself to start or work on socks at any time -- limited only by the number of free DPNs I have in my knitting basket. There's my Twisted Yarns sock yarn that I keep admiring -- I can start it guilt-free if I want to:

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So do you knitters prefer sticking with one project or would you rather have several going at once? My own practice has been to enjoy several knits at once. However, I'm starting to see the appeal of having one at a time to focus on. And FOCUS has been the key -- even though I daydream about my next knit, I've stuck with this one project long enough to get a rhythm and not have to rely on the pattern while I knit. And the most amazing thing is that my mind and hands seem to know what to do next. I can feel immediately when a stitch isn't right and I can correct it quickly (within no more than five errant stitches) and I'm not getting as frustrated as I was when I started this scarf. I know that to some of you, none of this is new! But I just had to share that I do see the appeal now.

It's about to be the weekend again and I hope yours is wonderful. Have a Happy Easter if you celebrate it!

April 04, 2007

Swap thanks!

A big thank you to Chris for this package:

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The chocolate sheep almost didn't make it to the photo shoot. It was consumed immediately after! The booklet is excellent. There's a wide range of great patterns for baby knits along with illustrated instructions for beginners. Thanks again for your willingness to get me a copy.

Your package is on its way, Chris. Meanwhile, I can't wait to see a photo of you holding the Yarn Harlot's sock!

April 02, 2007

Dragon Scale Scarf

I first cast on with the blue Malabrigo laceweight to start the Dragon Scale Scarf on Friday night; then again on Saturday night; finally again on Sunday morning. I lost count at seven failed attempts to get past the first repeat. The pattern was straightforward, the needles are wonderful, and the yarn is awesome. But apparently I shouldn't knit in low light or when I have too many distractions.

So with great lighting, by Sunday afternoon, I had a tiny bit of progress to show:

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And by this afternoon, I had noticeable progress:

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So I learned that I have to stick to knitting lace during the day when the lighting is best and the kids are at school. I also have to keep track of my glasses.

And every night, I read this at my son's request.

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For some reason, I think it inspires my knitting.

March 30, 2007

Knitting Pure & Simple Jumper Jamboree

My coworkers knit this wonderful set of sundresses from a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern:

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(clicking on this photo will enlarge it)

We were each given the broad guideline of choosing a cotton or cotton-blend yarn to knit these. I shared with you all the trouble I'd had with mine (prior to frogging and reknitting) and I was able to overcome it and end up with something satisfying. I enjoyed the pattern enough to make a Silk Garden version with a ruffle -- it can be worn as a top. Now I just have to knit the pants to go with it.

So here are mine with the others:

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Pattern: Little Girls Sundress or Jumper- Knitting Pure & Simple #266
Yarn: Plymouth Jeannee - 2 skeins (retail price is under $4 USD per skein)

And this little bundle of soft laceweight yarn came home with me yesterday:

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It was insanely economical and I saw something knit with the red version -- amazing! Last night I cast on for a Dragon Scale Scarf and confirmed that I totally do not have a quiet, lace-knitting environment even when I have a straightforward pattern. I also decided that I can't go another day without some Addi Lace needles.

Thank you all for humoring me with the Maker vs. Designer discussion. I know that many of us are called to creative endeavors outside of knitting, as am I. I just reject the idea (from the book) that we need to go to great lengths and take several weeks to determine what we are called to do. I believe we either know it or we don't -- that is, on a daily basis, we are either avoiding it or embracing it.

March 28, 2007

Are you a maker or a designer?

Today I gave up on a book I've been reading (received it as a gift a few years ago) because I just cannot reconcile some of the statements -- they don't line up with my own beliefs about what constitutes creativity and creative expression. Since becoming a knitter, I've realized that I love that somebody else has done all the work -- the designing -- and created a pattern for me to follow. Sometimes I don't choose the same color yarn that the designer chose. Often I will reject the designer's yarn choice in favor of what I am able to get from my local yarn store. Regardless, I still prefer to knit from somebody else's pattern. Within that structure there is plenty of room for creativity and many, many wonderful designers to support.

Background: I was reading this post a couple of months ago and it really made me question MYSELF as to whether I would call myself primarily a maker. More recently, I pondered this post (an interview with Alicia Paulson at Create a Connection) in which she answers the question about whether she considers herself a maker or designer. And she nailed exactly how I feel about being happy in spite of choosing to be a maker. I hope you read both blog entries.

I don't intend to disparage the book I was reading, but I'm happy to be free of it now and the concept that I should feel a spiritual responsibility to answer the type of creative inclinations referenced in the book. On the contrary, I've found that my highest creative expression comes in the form of nuturing my relationships (family, friends). Successful living means having the ability to enjoy something for its own sake whether or not there is any reward (fame, fortune, recognition, or a buying public) involved. Knitting, making things, and working with my hands helps bring peace to my little corner of the world.

Are you happy enough to be a maker or are you somebody who's haunted by a creative urge to be or do more? A designer perhaps? (There's more than enough room for both of us -- one can hardly exist without the other). Is it possible I'm missing another category altogether? Has anybody noticed that in the knitting world, we're at the point of having a happy convergence making it an excellent time to be both . . . or either?

Continue reading "Are you a maker or a designer?" »

March 26, 2007

Finished Object: Knitting Pure & Simple Little Girl Sundress

We likes it!

March 25, 2007

Manos Four Seasons Throw

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I've finished ONE square so far (out of the twelve I will eventually need) for the Manos del Uruguay Four Seasons Throw. I love the idea of a no-pressure knit and eleven more take-along squares -- that is, knitting I can do at Sit & Knit or while waiting to pick up kids at school.

And from this:

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I'm still excited about the idea of knitting a Block Stripe Afghan from Sarah Dallas Knitting.

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't done much in the way of blogging Project Spectrum 2007 and we're nearing the end of March (Blue, White, Gray). However, I did get out of my comfort zone (rut?) yesterday and bought and wore vibrant blue eyeshadow. My original plan involved knitting and an intention to finish and/or start something with blue, white or gray yarn from my stash. It looks like I used everything BUT those colors -- with a continued focus on brights. Obviously, others did a better job than I did.

Stash Release 2007 has gone well and I'm happy with my progress in evaluating my projects and plans. I mentioned on my Flickr something I was struggling with releasing:

GGH Mystik

and I think the struggle stems from my uncertainty about the project for which the yarn was intended. It's not me. It's too short and too low-cut. So I feel good about keeping the yarn but need a new project possibility. Mystik is the suggested yarn for the Honeymoon Cami and I have enough for that. Of course, there's also the ChicKami, which I've been wanting to knit for a while now.

Thank you all for the feedback on my loose purls entry. I generally feel good about the things I knit and the way they turn out, but the little pink sundress was really bothering me. It bugged me enough to rip out the entire thing and start over yesterday morning. I've since made up my anti-progress and will probably finish the jumper this evening. I love it now. The tipping point was reading the pattern at the height of my dissatisfaction and seeing this sentence: "The gauge needs to be quite loose." Mine wasn't. My gauge was considerably off -- and the top and bottom portion of the sundress differed by more than 1 stitch per inch. Yesterday I found this cute little number knit with Noro Silk Garden. Guess what I have in my stash? Enough Silk Garden to knit another jumper.

March 23, 2007

Keeping it real . . . my loose purls

I spent some time with Montse last night and she confirmed what I already knew and have mentioned before -- my purls are loose. She says that I can prevent them in one of a few ways:

1. Practice tightening the purl and loosening the knit stitches
2. Purl with a finer needle than you knit. This only works with stockinette stitch
3. When purling wrap yarn under needle as in plaited purl stitch. On the next row, knit-back the resulting stitches to straighten them up. Again, only for stockinette stitch and a limited number of stitch patterns.
4. Adapt to circular knitting and avoid stitch patterns with groups of purl stitches on the right side -- the odd one is not likely to be a problem.

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Thanks, Montse. I typically use methods 1, 2 and/or 4 to compensate for my issues. And while I know from experience that all these methods work, it doesn't help right now when it means I might have to rip back to the joining round on the sundress I'm knitting (and go up a needle size from the joining point) if I want it to look right. Since it's a shop model, I'm toying with the idea of leaving it as is . . . as an example of what happens when a loose purler knits stockinette flat with a cotton or cotton-blend yarn. In the round, my stitches are tight and even. And I find that my stockinette knitting is fine when I knit with wool. I don't have issues with garter stitch, ribbing, cables or lace (most of the time), but there's nothing less appealing than my "rowing out" issue on cotton yarns. For what it's worth, it's method 2 that works beautifully for me -- I just didn't do it with this pattern.

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While Montse and I both agree that it's difficult to teach ourselves a new method of knitting, I have to say that this is beginning to look VERY appealing:

Continue reading "Keeping it real . . . my loose purls" »

March 18, 2007

Stash Release & Relocation 2007

Thank you all for participating in my 1000th commenter contest and a big thanks to the de-lurkers! I'll do my drawing Monday, March 19th for the skein of Lorna's Laces sock yarn so there's still time to comment to make it in to the drawing. The lovely Lisa L. won the Noro Kureyon for being my 1000th commenter -- congratulations, Lisa!

Have you all heard about Good Yarn Karma yet? Go see! This coming week, I'll be releasing my KnitPicks sock yarns there.

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I worked yesterday for the first time in several weeks and I had a good time catching up on all the wonderful yarns that are in the store now. My only yarn purchase (according to plan, of course) was this:

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It's sock yarn custom-dyed for Twisted Yarns by Mama Llama. I had to show you the colors - such a pretty combination of a blue-green, seafoam, light blue, tan and light green. And, no, I'll not be releasing or relocating this ball of yarn. It's mine!

March 11, 2007

Limits and structure

Early last week, my doctor put me on Tamiflu since one of my sons has had the flu -- his reasoning was that it would PREVENT me from getting the flu. I've taken it before, years ago, when I actually HAD the flu but I've never taken it when I was perfectly fine (and healthy). So I don't know if what happened in the middle of the night Friday night was related to Tamiflu, but I had a sudden fever and upper respiratory distress that ended up lasting through early this morning. Today, I can hardly talk and coughing is still painful. Enough whining though. I'm feeling better (no more fever) but don't try to call me right now because my voice is as good as gone.

Since I felt too awful to knit yesterday, I started going through my yarn stash to wind skeins of yarn and look over my knits-in-progress. I found some things I need to finish and rediscovered yarn that I'd purchased with projects in mind and now I need to rethink them. There were a handful of things in there I regret purchasing -- something from Suss in L.A., a few skeins of KnitPicks yarn, and two skeins of hand-dyed sock yarn purchased online. Even though my regretful things were few and not fatal, from now on I'm going to limit myself to yarn purchased at my local yarn store. Limits are good. Within the limits, I have plenty of freedom. And it just so happens, that's what works best for me.

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I love that there are so many choices and sources for fiber, books and tools, but it can be incredibly overwhelming. I could easily waste the better part of a day just looking at knitting-related websites. When I limit myself to a handful of choices , it makes my life simpler. I know the telltale feeling I get when I'm overstimulated by too much and need a break. Time and money ill-spent has a momentum of its own but I can make a conscious effort to stop. Limits.

Since today was another sick day, I watched Lost in Translation, listened to quiet music and made some decisions. The Schaefer Anne in the first photo is for a pair of socks I'll knit for myself (I haven't decided on a pattern yet). I have a basket of sock yarn that I'm going to cull and will keep in there only the yarns I love. I don't need to be burdened with something that doesn't appeal to me. The point is to see the basket and be inspired. It's also a way to limit myself with regard to sock yarn acquisition. If my sock yarn basket overfloweth, I need to either use the yarn I have or get rid of it before I can buy more.

The Lucinda Guy book is one I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself, but Erica wants to knit the Fireside Blanket (she wants hers to be bright pink and green instead of the red/pink combo in the book). I spent some time flipping through the other cute patterns and am drawn to the cute knitted animals. If you look closely, you can see a few in the photo I took of the book cover.

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes for Erica. She'll enjoy reading them!

March 01, 2007

Schaefer Anne fingering weight yarn

I knit this swatch sock with Schaefer Anne yarn on Size 1 (2.25 mm) Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs:

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This is a 36-stitch sock knit from the cuff down so that I could have a sample of how the yarn will look as a sock and so I'll know what my gauge will be on these needles (in this case, 9 st/in). I love this yarn -- it feels wonderful to knit with. I'm not as in love with the way these colors look in a sock, but there's generous yardage for a shawl. These look like masculine colors, so if I want Schaefer Anne socks for myself, I guess I'll have to buy another skein (or two) in a different color. I'm learning to look for more subtle color changes and not drastic ones like these if I want to knit a plain vanilla sock.

February 28, 2007

Felted hot pad and a heart

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I knit (and crocheted) this hot pad with Manos that I had leftover from my Santa Fe Ruana. I gifted it to Stephanie of Spritely Goods for participating in and winning the Why Wool? drawing I had in December.

Here's a quick and easy pattern if you're interested in using some stash Manos to make one of your own:

Size 10.5 (US) straight or circular needles
Manos del Uruguay (main color and contrast color)

Cast on 26 stitches (gauge is not critical, but you do want some looseness in between the stitches, so go up a needle size if you need to). Knit garter stitch till you have 22 garter ridges then bind off. With your contrast color, loosely crochet your edging around the hot pad, weave in any loose ends and felt as usual in your top-loading washer. I used the Soak wool wash that I purchased from Stephanie because I love the scent, but a small amount of your favorite wool wash or Dawn dishwashing detergent will work just fine.

And for Sallie, the co-winner, here's another goodie that I hinted about a few blog entries ago:

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The pattern was Fiber Trends Heart Felt Expressions and it was a quick knit also. I ran out of yarn and when I had to purchase some additional yarn complete the bowl, Sallie was in the store at the same time. I probably looked like I was up to something . . .

Okay. Stop what you're doing right now and go read about Alicia Paulson's Ripple Afghan.

February 25, 2007

Knitting Project Journal

Using Eunny's notebook as inspiration, I am in the process of putting together my own permanent project journal to use in conjunction with my carry-along journal. I already have the binder rings, the paper, chipboard (for the covers) and a 3-hole punch.

I decided that like Eunny's, I wanted half-pages (5.5" x 8.5") so I put together something I could run through my printer and cut in half then 3-hole punch. I have a ton of paper with printed designs on the front and blank on the back (think scrapbook paper). I'll use the blank side for the project journal notes. However, if I use plain paper (blank on the front and back), I'll print the grid on the reverse. If you decide to try out what I'm sharing here, be sure to print the FIRST page only if you don't want the grid. It's here if you want it (it's a .pdf, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open it and print it).

How does a knitting journal help me? When I start knitting something (anything), whether it's a swatch or beginning a new project, I put it in my notebook with the start date along with details about my yarn and needles used. Even if my knitting gets sidetracked, I'll be able to refer to my notebooks to pick up where I left off and it's also helping when it's time to blog my projects. Your mileage may vary, but this works well for me. The project spreadsheet I started in 2004 was NOT working well. I kept forgetting to update it and it wasn't portable. I'm rep-purposing a lot of supplies I already have around the house, so I'm not suggesting you do your own notebook the same way, but I am recommending that you write things down. If you knit a lot, you can't trust your memory for the details and someday, either you or somebody else will want to know that little tidbit you didn't think was important.

Thank you all for the get well wishes -- most of us are feeling better since starting the antibiotics. I worked yesterday so I didn't get to knit much on the throw/afghan square, but I thought I'd share what I've done since I blogged last:

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I'd mentioned the tiny bit of frustration I am having with the thick/thin nature of Manos and while it's not an ideal knitting situation, I am admiring the deep brick color and the texture of this square. I think that when it's finished, I'll love it - the color makes it all worthwhile for me.

And Friday's progress on a baby hat for a preemie:

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The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (Happy Valley colorway) knit on Size 1 Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs. I'm using Knitting Rules as a guide for knitting the preemie hat. For more information about knitting for preemies in general, go visit The Preemie Project.

Comments are closed on this etnry

February 22, 2007

Knitting with a side of strep

Would you like fries with that?

I hate that I feel like I'm becoming a strep expert, but we've had enough of it around here and 66.666666667% of us are on antibiotics and some of us are on steroids. Although I have the mildest symptoms and very little discomfort, I agreed to start the antibiotic regimen as well because I don't want to get it any worse than I have it and I KNOW I've been exposed and am in danger of exposing others.

My knitting is manic right now and it's helping. Reading about knitting is helping. Reading knitting blogs is helping most of all. Keep knitting, y'all, because I am tired of hearing and reading about Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears (and OH YEAH, I have an opinion about both of them and the drama involved along with some inside scoop, but this is a knitting blog).

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(Unwashed, unblocked swatch)

OMIGOSH I love this yarn more every time I use it. I'm swatching for when I receive my Sarah Dallas book so I can knit a throw similar to Alison's and I want this Fuchsia to be the predominant color.

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Manos del Uruguay Brick; washed and blocked

I've also already started knitting a throw/afghan consisting of 12 patterned blocks. I decided to do this in one color - the Brick color instead of twelve different colors (too much thinking). I got the required gauge with Size 8 Clover Bamboo circulars. My plan is to try to average a block a month in order to have a finished throw in December. It's not a project I'll hurry to finish but it's something I can pick up and work on when I'm watching television.

For some reason, the thick- and thin-ness of Manos is bothering me a little bit this time. It blocks out fine, but while I'm knitting, it irks me . . . just a bit. I'm halfway through the first block, the Textured Rib, and then I'll try to finish another block before the end of the month. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that I've abandoned the Santa Fe Ruana I started last year. I exchanged all my unused Manos for the Brick colorway and frogged the half panel that I'd already knit on my ruana.

I've been on a mission to organize my project notes as well. More on that tomorrow (along with a freebie I'll share). But if you've been reading this far (proving you have the time on your hands), go read this entry that just popped up in my Bloglines notifier. "Don't overthink."

February 20, 2007

Final lace capelet entry

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Pattern: Lace Capelet by Mary Heather
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze "Jelly" purchased at SWAK in Guthrie, Oklahoma in March 2006
Needles: Clover Bamboo circular needles, Size 10.5 (US) for knitting and Size 11 for casting off
Started: 2/9/07
Finished: 2/18/07

I used a little under 1 ball of the Jelly Kidsilk Haze (Rowan). This is my fourth capelet and it's free of the mistakes I made in my first one (i.e. primarily a "too tight" bind off at the neck). The laceweight mohair blend has so much warmth even with a lacy, open pattern -- I love it. I've blocked the capelet (steam only) since I took the photo yesterday and the bottom no longer curls up and my stitches have evened out a bit too.

For now, I'll you with a mystery felted project created with one of my two favorite felting yarns - Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. The fuchsia color is amazing and now I'm inspired to knit a swatch with it to brainstorm something else I want to knit. Here's a hint.


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February 18, 2007

Finished Lace Capelet

Finished Lace Capelet
Click on the photo for project details

February 11, 2007

In progress - quick knitting and more

I had a lot on my mind this past week, so I needed some quick knitting to make it through and keep my thoughts from wandering, so . . .

I bought yarn and a button for this Sophie last Tuesday and I cast on February 6th. It's drying now and I just have to sew on the button and I'll be ready to start carrying it:

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I cast on for the capelet on February 9th, early in the morning (and yes, I'm writing these things in my new notebook so I don't have to rely on my memory):

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And for the "someday" knits (not necessarily soon), I've acquired this:

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It's Schaefer Anne (above) for future socks and Baby Ull for the Estonian Lullaby Baby Blanket:

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There's other knitting going on that I previously blogged about and when I (a) make more progress on them or (b) have a reason to blog about them, I will.

Continue reading "In progress - quick knitting and more" »

January 31, 2007

Kimono Shawl Swatch

I've been working on finishing some small surprises, and while I am in the process of finishing (felting) them, I've started a swatch for my Kimono Shawl

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I started the swatch with Size 5 Clover Bamboo Circulars and halfway through, I switched to Crystal Palace Size 5 straight needles (borrowed from my daughter! HA)

I think I prefer knitting lace patterns on straight needles. However, after knitting the swatch and measuring, I'm trying a smaller needle; I purchased extra-long Size 4 Clover bamboo needles to try. It's been a bit odd adjusting to knitting silk after knitting a lot of wool. It's different . . . but I love it so far.

I've also finished the first of my Donyale socks.

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Some people can knit a sock a day; I consider one sock in a week my personal best. It's a great pattern - textural and simple and fits my foot beautifully. I also found my new favorite toe-grafting instructions here.

And thanks to either being in my 40's or knitting a lot of socks (or perhaps both), I had to get these last week.

January 27, 2007

Overture to Estonian Lace

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Mariann told me about her and Margene blogged about her; she's considered an expert on Estonian handknitting -- so I was glad to be able to work my schedule around taking a workshop/class with Nancy Bush.

My humble little swatch is about to be ripped and reknit. Several knitters completed their small samplers, but I ended up with less stitches than I needed, sloppy edge stitches (not good when one needs to pick up stitches) and pain in my shoulder and back. But enough whining. Even if I hadn't knit a stitch, I was fascinated by what she shared about Estonian knitting. Nancy also brought several Estonian shawls to show and share. I got really comfortable with the provisional (crochet) cast-on. I now know how to make a "nupp" -- exciting stuff, huh?

I still feel anxious and worried about some things but it helped to redirect my thoughts for the day. My words of wisdom -- if you have an opportunity to learn something or to do something you've been wanting to do -- take it. Then pay it forward and help somebody else do the same.

January 23, 2007

Donyale

From Black Dog Knits - Nora's textural sock pattern, Donyale:

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Donyale's my latest sock start -- the one I intend to carry with me to knit when I have a few minutes of time to kill -- either waiting in the car rider line picking up the kids or watching television at night. I've already tried it on the widest part of my foot and it's the best-fitting sock I've knit for myself EVER. It looks really tight, but it's not. It's perfect for my wide-ish feet and skinny ankles.

Thanks, Nora for a great pattern! It is interesting enough to keep me entranced but not so difficult that I can't carry on a conversation or watch television.

I'm writing my Donyale notes in this:

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Keeping track? I'm working on a garment, a sock to carry with me, a capelet and a swatch (yet again on new needles) for my dream project. Of course, there are other small projects I just need to finish already (felting, seaming, weaving in ends).

January 21, 2007

A first for me -- a meme

This is a first for me, and I am only doing this for Amy (who doesnt do these either):

Five weird things you probably don't know about me

* I'm pretty close to unbeatable at Chinese Checkers.

* Since becoming a mom, I'm often so tired at night that I'll go to bed fully clothed (sans shoes of course).

* I used to be really into vegetable gardening and daydreamed about homesteading. Back then (late 80's) I subscribed to Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening, and would read anything written by Helen & Scott Nearing. I wore out my copies of Diet for a Small Planet and The Book of Tofu. I grew soybeans to make my own tofu.

* I love it when I have time alone. I don't think I've ever uttered the phrases, "I'm bored." or "I'm lonely."

* My favorite work of modern fiction is Lonesome Dove and both of my sons' first and middle names are based on historical western figures.

I want to tag all of my readers . . . so consider yourself tagged. If you've already been tagged by somebody else, leave the link to your five things in the comments section. Please?

January 20, 2007

Knitting and Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
and expecting different results.
Benjamin Franklin

(I agree).

I don't know if my readers have ever noticed that there are some knitting patterns that I've knit a few times. Rather than do the same thing over and over in the same way, I take what I learned from my first one and apply it to the second one (or third -- and so on). So although I'm a repetitious knitter, I'm not an INSANE repetitious knitter.

The Purl Bee Mohair entry reminded me of my first experience knitting with a blended mohair yarn -- Kidsilk Haze. I was instantly smitten. In May 2005, my sister and I visited Knit Cafe and she fell in love with this lace capelet (pronounced "cape-let" and not "cap-uh-let") on one of their mannequins. More of the story here.

I've since knit the third capelet (a much-improved version of my first one pictured in the photo on the blog post linked above) and am still planning to knit a fourth for myself in Kidsilk Haze "Jelly":

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Here's a photo of Capelet Three snapped last year (November 2005) in the same color as the too-tight Capelet One:

Capelet.jpg

This is a simple lace pattern knit in the round from the bottom up. The only tricky thing is to make sure you bind off loosely. There's hardly a way to redeem the project if you don't. And, I learned that even though I like the sharper tips of the Denise interchangeable circulars, my gauge was so off compared to the Clover bamboo circulars that I had to frog the entire nearly-finished capelet. Check your gauge after knitting several rounds. I'll be making my own next attempt after I finish at least SOME of my works-in-progress. I'll be keeping it for myself.

Earlier this morning, I cast on a sock. I'm waiting for a bit more sunshine to take a photo of it. I am LOVING it -- and what better way to break out of my knitting slump than with a gorgeous sock.

January 13, 2007

Buffeted

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.

So it feels like a bit of a slump right now, but I'm going to lean into it, go with it. It leads me to reassess, reaffirm.

I know I've been a bit absent and it's because I'm dealing with some . . . things. I'm not consciously or purposefully avoiding your emails, but I am a bit slow in replying. I'm still reading my favorite blogs and making it a point to try to really LISTEN to things. All of you inspire me so much.

Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals;
cherish the music that stirs in your heart,
the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness
that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will
grow all delightful conditions, all, heavenly environment; of these,
if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

In the past few days, I seem to have stumbled across more than a few blogs discussing consumption, acquisitiveness, dissatisfaction and stash-shame. I've been reading it primarily on knitting blogs (which really speaks to the depth and breadth of the knitblog community). I'd link to them, but I feel that they were meant for me to see and read. I have no judgment to pass on what others are dealing with in their own lives. I am not ashamed of my humble stash and I feel that I have remarkable self control when it comes to buying and acquiring yarn (and yes, it might sound lilke denial, but I am at peace with my well-timed acquisitions). I love when other knitters share their finds, their acquisitions. It's a rare knitblogger (in my humble opinion) who has an acquisition "problem." People are where they are due to their own choices and decisions. Dissatisfaction is not always a result of over-consumption.

A few of my readers have asked about my plans to podcast. I still intend to do a podcast, but placed it lower on the list for a while to allow me to focus on important family issues. It's begun to ease up and I'm ready to devote some time to a podcasting venture. I'd love to hear from you regarding what you'd like my podcast to contain. I'm curious about how you feel about a podcast's focus, ideal length, interviews, whether or not to include music. If you comment here, feel free to also let me know if you'd like your comment to remain unpublished and I won't share it if that's your preference. Thank you in advance -- you all are the best readers and commenters.

For those who've seen me in person (or have noticed my absence), I know I haven't been totally present in the moment. I do miss knitting with my friends and co-workers.

January 11, 2007

Knitalong - Socks 101

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Yarn: Manos del Uruguay - Color No. 55 (Olive)

(Mr. Potato Head included for scale).

I'm knitting these slipper-type socks for this Knitalong and trying furiously to finish a pair before tonight. They're a super-quick knit with Manos del Uruguay from my stash and bigger needles than I typically use for socks.

January 10, 2007

Beaded button

From Ninfa, handmade:

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I can't wait to use it, but until I have the perfect use for it, I'll admire it.

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Thank you so very much.

January 07, 2007

Feel the failure

Failure and I got reacquainted over the holidays when I attempted to knit during my downtime. I was breezing along on Ariann (and loving it so much) when I made an error that I didn't notice for several rows. Attempts to rip back and "fix" were fruitless, so I frogged and restarted all of it -- on the wrong size needles. Eight rows of ribbing later, right before starting the set-up for the lace pattern, I realized I was using Size 4 (3.5mm) needles instead of Size 6 (4mm) needles. Failure, you are a fickle teacher.

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The thing is . . . I was quite anxious to have some progress to show knitting-wise so perhaps my wrong motivation set the stage for failure. I was also fighting with my Denise needles the entire time I was working on Ariann. In deciding to switch to Addi Turbos, I'm convinced the knitting experience will be much more pleasant when I start working on her again for the third time.

EDITED TO ADD: the yarn is Cascade 220 in Color No. 9338

Until then, I'm grateful to my failure for allowing me to enjoy some books, movies and time with family and friends.

Embrace failure. It's only knitting.

December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

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“It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old.” (George Eliot)

December 22, 2006

Winners

Winners from THIS entry:

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Sallie & Stephanie

And the lucky winners will receive a knitted goody after the holidays!

(P.S. I'm keeping the names to draw from throughout the year . . . just because).

Happy Holidays everybody!

December 20, 2006

My 2006 in Images

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These images represent photos I took each month in 2006, beginning with the most recent month. Each photo is a symbol for me of something significant -- either something I've learned, mastered, felt, or experienced.

I've always thought it was more important to look at what was accomplished in the year than to make lofty plans as to what I'm going to "resolve" to do (or "not" do?) in the coming year. There is no way to predict what the future will bring and I refuse to make excuses for not achieving unrealistic resolutions at the end of the year. (Your mileage may vary and making resolutions might really work for you -- that's fine too!) If something's not working and I need to make a change, then I'll just do it . . . I won't have to ponder whether it will fit with what I've "resolved." I'll just DO it.

But, yes, I have some dreams for the future, and unlike resolutions, it's not in the form of a checklist; it's a rough map and I'm the cartographer. I believe that when you fix in your mind what you want, you will have everything you need.

December 12, 2006

Finished Cowl (Last Minute Knitted Gifts)

It's an in-progress photo of a newly completed FO (finished object):

CowlWIP.jpg

I've wanted to knit the cowl ever since I purchased Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Sometimes the simplest things are the most classy and elegant. This cowl won't scream to be noticed, but it will be warm and luxurious.

Since it's a Christmas gift, I'm not modeling it for a photo. Right now it's blocking after a soak in Eucalan (some of the dye released, but not as much as I thought). I loved it before I gave it a bath but it's undergone an amazing transformation after its rinse-and-shaping session. I've shaped it into a taller cowl and it's amazing how magically even and pretty it makes my stitches look. Pre-blocking, my stitches looked uneven and scrunchy. I love the warmth and density of alpaca, along with the nice halo and the fine alpaca hairs that want to stick up.

For about an hour or so, I've been taking inventory of knitting projects that were gathering dust (literally) and rummaging through all my knitting bags to rescue stray projects. My swift and ball winder are getting some action today too.

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Everybody tells me that they would love to knit, but they don't have time. I look at people's lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding the bus each day? That's a pair of socks over a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl.
-Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

December 10, 2006

Why wool? And three years knitting

It was three years ago this week that I picked up needles and began teaching myself to knit.

December 2003


Three years ago, I checked out the knitting links a friend (and fellow knitting newbie) sent me. She pointed me to anything and everything online that I could use to teach myself to knit. At the time, I didn't know anybody who was a knitter and knew next to nothing about local yarn stores. (And, as luck would have it, the only yarn store I knew of at the time was going out of business). So I bought my first ball of yellow cotton dishcloth yarn and a set of size 8 straight aluminum needles at Wal-Mart. You all probably know the rest -- through the magic of the internet and the knitblog community, I was exposed to better tools and yarn; but it took the intervention of two longtime knitters (Mariann & Alisa) to convince me to branch out beyond garter stitch. After that, I fell even harder for knitting and grew to believe that I really *could* knit anything. By February 2004, Twisted Yarns opened and became my primary source for yarn, needles and notions. It was then that I discovered the joy of knitting with pure wool. I used to think that wool was old-fashioned and itchy, but in reality, it's nature's wonder fiber. Check these out:

Why Wool Doesn't Stink
"Wool is “hygroscopic,” which means it easily absorbs moisture. Although other natural fibers have this ability, none beats wool. Moisture passes through it and is released into the air instead of remaining on the skin"

Why Wool Still Works as an Outdoor Clothing Material
"Wool will only itch when you get to a certain temperature . . . If you're wearing wool in cold weather, you're not going to itch. It's only when the temperature rises that oils are released from the wool. That's what causes the irritation."

Why Wool?
"The high moisture and protein content of wool fibers gives wool carpet excellent natural flame resistance. Wool fibers will not support combustion and are difficult to ignite. In addition, they are self-extinguishable when the flame source is removed."

Why Use Wool for Diaper Covers
"At a microscopic level wool consists of a series of overlapping scales (called cuticles) which have a tendency to repel water droplets. This structure, in combination with a thin coating of lanolin (an oil secreted from the sheep's skin) causes water to run off the fibers."

Benefits of Wool
"Wool provides us with a personal environment that is health-enhancing because it is a natural fibre. Wool disperses moisture from our skin, provides even warmth and body temperature, resists flame and static electricity and helps to reduce the stressful noise levels that surround us every day."

Of course, I knit with and love fibers other than wool, but I lean heavily toward natural (animal and plant) fibers - silk, cotton, hemp, linen, alpaca.

After three years of nearly-nonstop knitting, I still consider myself a beginner -- an enthusiast rather than an expert. I would continue to knit even if I didn't have a blog, but I don't know if I'd blog if I didn't knit. Other than my passion for knitting, there's just not a lot to blog about. But on my three-year Knitaversary, anybody who leaves a comment on this entry through the end of the week will have a chance to win a special handknit prize.

WINNERS are HERE

December 09, 2006

Santa Fe Ruana

I was trying to make a decision about my Santa Fe Ruana when I came across this blog entry at January One. If you read it, you'll understand my reasons for abandoning the ruana. It wasn't the pattern (I still love it) but the colors I chose. While I love each of the colors of Manos del Uruguay individually, together they are not so compelling for me.

So yesterday, I exchanged the gorgeous multi-colored Woodlands colorway for the Brick that I am so in love with. The persimmon is amazing too, but I have tons of delicious orange in my wardrobe now.

Manos Del Uruguay

And, Ariann, I haven't forgotten you, but that unfinished ruana was weighing on me. Now I'm lightened -- excited! Ariann will be what I start before the year ends. Of course, there are many other possibilities for 2007:

Blue Sky Alpacas

KSH

December 05, 2006

Joyful holiday knitting

I'm allowing myself the indulgence of TINIEST little bit of gift knitting since I've made some progress on other things. Since I didn't set out to DO any gift knitting this year, it's turned out to be a sweetly relaxing activity instead of a stressful one . . . and somebody will have warm feet, another couple of people will have warm necks and perhaps somebody will have warm hands. It's a nice feeling to be un-rushed.

The tree is up and filled with our favorite ornaments and a couple dozen candy canes. I'm looking at it thinking it definitely needs some miniature handknitted ornaments and perhaps a cute garland next year. Right now a gorgeous yellow lab is asleep on her bed at the base of the tree. Tonight I'll be making my favorite guacamole for a celebration I'm attending where knitting is not only allowed but ENCOURAGED.

As a devastating 2005 flowed into a stress- and challenge-filled 2006, I'm thankful just to be here doing anything at all and I'm grateful for each deep, cleansing breath. I'm learning that I don't need to be crippled by worry (a former bad habit) and I don't need to question or excuse the good fortune that comes my way. I've noticed that most people go from one character-building experience to another and the only difference is the way we choose to approach it. So I've taken responsibility for my own perspective, my own choice to find the joy. In EVERYTHING.

And the knitting I've done this past year? It's been a blessing to be able to find calm and solace in it. What I hope for 2007 is that I can teach others how to knit and encourage beginners. I hope that's returned to me while I learn some new things of my own -- spinning, dyeing -- who knows what else!

Have any of you non-blogging knitters reading this right now thought about starting your own blog in 2007? Please do! Don't feel intimidated by what other bloggers or knitters are doing. It won't necessarily keep you from knitting, but it might make you think about it more and perhaps experience it differently. Try it.

November 27, 2006

The more I learn, the less I know

I've started consistently using the improved SSK as several experienced knitters have been recommending it. My son's sock was an opportunity to audition it as a permanent replacement for the tradtional SSK. (If you're confused, click the link -- there's an example of both).

Decrease 2

It still doesn't precisely mirror a K2tog, but it's aesthetically better than a regular SSK -- not substantially better, mind you, but it is easier to execute.

Decrease 1

I've one light blue Baby Ull sock down and one to go. The little socks are so quick to knit and it's a good thing, because I know a 6-year old boy who really expected to immediately have a pair of socks fly off my needles. Absolutely nothing FLIES off my needles unless you count a whimsical little elf hat knit for a quick felting (technically, "fulling") fix and some holiday color.

A few friends and I have been discussing our goals for the upcoming year -- actionable things we hope to accomplish. These aren't "resolutions" but goals for which we can be held accountable. For me, it will be learning to spin. For those of you who commented on my previous post and provided insights and advice about spinning with a drop spindle and about spinning with a wheel - THANK YOU! It's immensely helpful to hear from people whose knitting and spinning skills I respect.

Now for something random I realized today after spending some time in Bloglines . . . negative emotions seem to ring more true than positive ones. I was reading a blog yesterday that sounded overly joyful, too precious and affected. The blogger could have easily been me and probably has, but it just didn't feel like the truth. I'm writing this because I want to remember it. It's a random observation on my part that I tend to "believe" a blogger more when they appear to be writing to release unpleasant feelings. i think I'm going through a phase where I prefer the gritty truth over the well-dressed lie. Or maybe I'm just burned out on my few remaining non-knitting, non-spinning reads.

Continue reading "The more I learn, the less I know" »

November 25, 2006

Can you be distracted?

Apparently, I can. In addition to illness (all three kids), school programs, holidays, and my lame attempts at using a drop spindle in the midst of all those things, I also worked at the store. Yesterday was the first day of the annual After-Thanksgiving sale, so naturally, I had to buy some yarn (and this is the extent of my purchases):

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Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (L-R): Baby Stripe, Iris Garden & Happy Valley

Drop spindles. Okay, why would I use one if I know I am going to buy a wheel? (I'm asking this not with impertinence or impudence, but out of genuine curiousity). A local spinner, Sissy B., recommended a Kromski Minstrel and Kristin has one too. My goal isn't to be a perfect spinner, but a productive one. I'm most likely to spin at home in half-hour to one-hour intervals (sometimes more) and I just want to make good use of that time. I realize that I have a a LOT to learn, but I want to dispense with the drop spindle if I can, and it's not because I'm crappy at it (I am), but rather than shop for (i.e. spend money on) lighter or different drop spindles . . . well, you know the rest. My comments are open for any and all advice from spinners.

Now for the knitting. The gorgeous Shepherd Sock pictured above is for baby hats; specifically -- newborn baby hats for shower gifts and new arrivals. I'm picturing ribbed hats with fat pom-poms. I've already started one and can't wait to make more. I'm making it up as I go along with a generous heap of help from Knitting Rules. Do you have this book yet? You must get it! On page 110, there's a handy chart with typical head sizes. On page 115 are the ingredients and how-to's and some general hat wisdom. What better way to use a skein of a yummy sock yarn?

November 15, 2006

Knitter, Know Thyself

Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals,
and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair. Ieyasu Tokugawa

I've not begun the spinning yet. (If I had, Elizabeth, I would gladly show you the twisty mess!) I haven't started or finished anything in the past week because I took a break. I was feeling that overstimulated, antsy feeling again (I promise it's me -- it's not you!) so I had to disconnect for a bit from the stimuli so that I could focus on what it is I want: from the knitting, the blogging, the time. I'm irritable when I'm not spending my time in a way that's in synch with what I want, what I value.

Using a process of elimination works well for me -- I chip away at what I don't want in order to reveal what I do want. It's easy for me to walk away from something unproductive, inefficient, and unrewarding. I don't linger and suffer. (This is going somewhere . . . it's not just existential angst)

For some reason, I had decided when I started knitting that I would never "spin" my own yarn. It's not like me to say no to something I've never tried, but my stubborness was due to my monogamous devotion to "just knitting." I didn't want to be tempted away and I didn't want to be bad at something (inevitable) so soon after learning to be good at something. It's a whole new vocabulary and it requires new supplies. How could I justify buying roving (and perhaps someday . . . a wheel) when I have so much unknit yarn in sweater-knitting quantities? I'm sure you've noticed that finished sweaters aren't exactly flying off my needles right now. I was mulling over all of this when I began to make a mental list of what I *do* want. And I've re-established for myself that knitting represents my choice and my privilege to spend my time and resources doing something I enjoy. It makes me the person I want to be whether or not I can justify my knitterly existence by being the first to finish and photograph and document something.

So today I am going to try to make a twisty mess and I'll let you know how it goes.

November 10, 2006

How it begins

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November 08, 2006

Past, present and future socks

I have a completed sock, but I'm just showing the ribbing detail because otherwise, even in it's completed state, it's just a predictable and plain stockinette foot. I contemplated carrying the ribbing down the top of the sock, but since I knit the sock for a man's foot, I confirmed with him that this ribbing on the instep would be uncomfortable. So stockinette it was . . . many inches of redundant stockinette.

Ribbing detail on Fortissima socks

The neat thing about the ribbing is that with the garter ridge in there, I can duplicate the cuff on the second sock exactly by counting the ridges. (Obviously, helpful little details amuse me). With the Fortissima Socka gray sock completed, I've gone from four to three socks on the needles:

Socks in progress

The light blue 3x3 ribbed beauty in the middle was a special request from my youngest son. I had barely cast on when he asked if they were finished yet (apparently, there's no way I can knit them fast enough). Months ago, he requested "light blue" handknit socks. I finally got his color approval when I brought home 2 skeins of light blue Baby Ull.

Baby Ull

I am so delighted with this soft, squishy economical yarn! It's incredible to knit with. If you have baby knits in your future, try Dale of Norway Baby Ull. My only complaint is a tiny one - dropped stitches are difficult to pick up.

For future knits, I'm obsessed with silk right now - wool/silk blends, 100% silk, and the way silk feels cool next to my skin. Expect more silk in 2007. I'll also be unveiling something else soon (it'll be anticlimatic to some of you). Remind me to never say never.

Finally, I have to share one of my favorite new blog reads -- there's just a small handful of "new" blogs out there that impress me and this is one of them. Kiddley is the brainchild of Claire Robertson of LoobyLu. Back when I was ten years old, this would have kept me busy for hours. And this too . . . isn't it sometimes the simplest things that bring so much joy?

November 01, 2006

Say nothing

The Yarn Harlot's graceful solution to one's desire to have an out-of-control verbal reaction: Say nothing. Knit. Knit. Knit. Have you ever known somebody who claimed to want you to share your inner thoughts but was, frankly, wanting you to do so in order to use it as a weapon against you? Say nothing. Write nothing. Knit. Knit. Knit.

I found this charming photo and blog entry through Kristin Nicholas' blog entry today. Primitive sock knitting has been on my mind for a number of reasons, but the origins of sock knitting in general fascinate me. I also discovered that I love seeing photos on your blogs of well-worn handknit socks. Socks are meant to be worn out. If you're ever given handknit socks, the best compliment you can give the knitter is to wear them often.

For my Socktoberfest recap, my goal was to focus on sock knitting, acquire some never-before-tried sock yarn from small independent producers and visit new-to-me blogs of Socktoberfest 2006 participants. There was one small project I had in mind for Socktoberfest that I didn't get to complete -- a short video of me knitting socks. I will eventually have a link to a sock-knitting video in my sidebar, but the only videotaping equipment I had access to was seriously lacking for this project.

From last year's photo archives:

Finally I have something Hable

Hable Construction inspires me. The Hable pincushion is in my kitchen where I can see it every morning as a reminder to be curious, adventurous, and grateful. With so many family tragedies along with unnecessary drama last year, I really just wanted peace in 2006. And I've had that. In 2007, it's time to launch and fly.

October 29, 2006

Mysteries solved

My mom spent the week here and shared some things with me that helped answer some questions I've had for decades now.

I didn't grow up with my grandparents. My mom left Japan when she married my Dad in 1951. I never got to meet my grandmother and she died in 1959. While I was growing up, my mom never shared much about her family in Japan. The little I knew was about my grandfather Kokichi who died when my mom was about 13. She adored her father and felt his loss deeply.

Grandmother

During her visit here, my mom opened up about her own mom. She'd been holding and looking at the sock I'm knitting and told me that her mom was a knitter and "could knit anything." My mom, however, resented her mother's handmade things. She said she would have preferred something purchased in a store over my grandmother's handiwork. She dislked the handknit mittens the most, but she also remembers her mom knitting gloves and socks.

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My grandmother was practical, stern, and demanding. She wanted my mom to learn to sew, knit and do well in school. Athough my mom agreed to learn to sew and attend dressmaking school, she stubbornly refused to learn to knit. I never thought there might be a reason I was interested in knitting or that it was a part of my heritage.

I sent my mom home with my handknit socks. And I think she'll actually wear them.

Self-striping socks

October 18, 2006

Project Paralysis

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I have this hovering paralysis resulting from having too much to do. I've avoided the knitting because so much more is pressing in this week. I think this is what Stephen Covey is referring to when he writes about the "tyranny of the urgent." I find myself in Quadrant I when I prefer to be in Quadrant II (.pdf)

The ideal thing would be to work on the socks I started last week; I've turned the heel and completed the gusset decreases so now I'm just working on the foot portion. Obviously, I'd like to finish the pair before the end of the month, but it's not looking good at this point. I remind myself lately that my knitting's not on a deadline around here. It has to remain the ONE thing that helps me keep other important things in perspective.

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I've a shop model to complete and a wonderful cardi I'm jonesing to cast on, but it's not a race. I've had some small victories in areas that have been causing me distress. I can't really explain it here without going in to a lot of personal details, but I'm pleased with the steps I've taken with regard to my online presence. I'm much more than just a knitter, but knitting is the only thing I choose to put "out there" publicly.

October 11, 2006

Renew and Restore (Sock) Focus

Socktoberfest has helped to renew my focus on sock-knitting, sock finishing, sock mending and stash enhancement, to wit:

Sunshine Yarns' Hungarian Horntail Dragon

This is some gorgeous sock yarn. Check out Sunshine Yarns on Etsy, but please feel free to share your other favorite sock yarn dealers sources in my comments section. The more the merrier!

In the self-reflection vein, I came across this post the other day and considering her awesome finished objects and original designs, I was surprised to read she felt this way about her handknit items -- until I realized that I feel the same way about mine (except for socks). And it's totally okay. In my own experience, I sacrifice fashionabillity in favor of my tactile and color preferences. At times, I think my knitting is meant to teach me something whether or not it's ever finished or worn. I don't like to draw attention to myself and handknitted socks are discreet. I can wear and enjoy them without anybody ever knowing about them. Although I'm not likely to show them to nonknitters, I do get excited about sharing if somebody shows some interest. They are wickedly mysterious no matter how many I knit.

Fortissima Socka in a subdued gray

I cast on for these while I was watching Heroes on Monday night. It's Fortissima Socka in a basic subdued color that knits up beautifully on Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs. I picked a textural pattern that was straightforward enough to allow me to knit through some television watching.

Never fear . . . this knitblog won't be completely sock-centric from now on; it's simply my Socktoberfest indulgence -- sharing about sock knitting. Have you tried it yet?

October 10, 2006

Mason-Dixon Knitting Perfect Sweater

I enjoy a good knitblog saga, and this search for the perfect sweater pattern has been one of my favorites. It's an awesome collaborative effort and in honor of that, check out their creative commons licensing.

Ann's quote: "the perfect sweater is the one you make the way you like it."

October 09, 2006

Sock retrospective

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I got serious about sock-knitting last year during Socktoberfest 2005. That's when I made it a priority to really understand the concepts of sock construction. By January 2006, I was making it my goal to have socks on my needles at all times. This was my first completed pair of 2006. The next socks I completed were the Sockapalooza socks for my sock pal Deidre (now, sadly blogless).

For my husband, I knit my first pair of socks for him using Lorna's Laces "Pinstripe." Shepherd Sock is just WONDERFUL to knit with. I enjoyed the yarn so much, I decided to finish the Purl Soho custom-colored Lorna's Laces I purchased last year. I wear these socks often!

After that, it was back to knitting another pair for my husband with Mountain Colors Bearfoot.

Socktobfest Retrospective

This month, I plan to finish at least one in-progress pair of socks in addition to doing a special project in honor of Socktoberfest 2006.

September 26, 2006

Progress-less posting

I've tried to make it a practice to only post when I have progress to show but I realized something today and I just wanted to get it out and commit it to the blog. It hit me that I can't possibly knit quickly enough to keep up with the really trendy and cool knits out there. I still haven't figured out what I enjoy knitting most (socks are WAY up there) because there's a LOT I haven't tried yet. I'm always VERY tempted to try knitting all the adorable things I see in knitting magazines and on all your blogs but the reality is that by the time I *have* the time, it's completely and totally LAST YEAR. However, I can count on the fact that socks never go out of style.Today, I enjoyed wearing the socks I knit for myself (but oh my . . . they're slick on ceramic tile floors).

As futile as it is to figure out how to fit the endless "WannaKnits" in to my schedule, I can still visit a blog and be blown away by a design, a finished garment or a flash of fiber and just have to have it. Most of the time, I can step back and resist because I know that little something will be there when I need it and I'll remember where I saw it and can sleep on it. But when it comes to clothes, I've always loved a good sweater. I've been through decades of photos recently and most of the shots of me over the last 24 years since I started buying my own clothes have been all about the sweaters. I can't possibly own enough of them. So naturally now that I'm a knitter, what was I to do when I saw Ariann? (Note to knitwear designers: this is the most awesome form of instant gratification - thank you for making it easy). I purchased it, downloaded it and now I've printed it and am planning to take it to bed with me and . . . sleep on it. After all, I still have to choose a yarn.

September 20, 2006

The things I knit for love . . .

A year ago today, I took a photo of an in-progress tiny sweater:

MouseSweater1.jpg

My son, a second grader at the time, requested it. When the request for knitted items comes from a 7-year old boy who loves the "Mouse" books, who could refuse?

mousesweater2.jpg

That sweater, along with last year's Socktoberfest, got me interested in knitting socks again. So, naturally I was delighted when Lolly decided to hostess it again. Have you joined? It's almost SOCKtober!

If you give a knitter some DPN's, she'll ask for two skeins of sock yarn . . .

September 14, 2006

Twitch and Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin has a new album that debuted September 12, 2006. Ripping out rows while listening to Shawn helped me rip back almost a dozen rows and then re-knit and make up for lost time on the Twitch sleeve. Her "Words" (BeeGees) cover is smooth, acoustic, and lovely -- not overproduced.

My theory is that sleeves are a good thing to start knitting if you're trying to knit something new . . . a new yarn, a new pattern . . . knit a sleeve! It's a swatch, right? If it absolutely needs ripping and re-starting, at least it's not an entire sweater back (after all, you wouldn't start by knitting the front would you?)

But I'm here to talk about cotton -- about knitting stockinette with cotton. You can look at my Twitch sleeve and you can tell where I made the adjustment in my tension so that the fabric would just look better. But it hurts to knit this way (purl, tighten, purl, tighten, then hold the yarn close to both tips). Where wool is forgiving of my stockinette-knitting methods ("rowing out" is something I can't seem to avoid), cotton might as well shine a floodlight on my weird knitting. So although it's a shop model, I'm planning to proceed so that hopefully my mistakes can help teach others. ("Do as I say and not as I do.")

Today's progress on TWITCH Sleeve #1

Today I mentally closed a door on something that I always thought I would do -- go back and finish getting my B.A. in Business Administration. This doesn't make me as sad as I thought it would, and there would have been a huge opportunity cost to going back at this point. Granted, this doesn't mean I won't EVER take a college class again -- it just means that I won't go with a "PLAN" to leave in x-number of years with an actual piece of parchment. It's really kind of liberating. It feels good to close the door of my own accord -- it's a gift to myself and permission to worry about ONE LESS THING in my lifetime.

September 13, 2006

Louisa Harding Twitch

I started a sleeve for the Louisa Harding Twitch boy's sweater. The patterns in The Magical World According to Miss Millie are adorable.

Lousa Harding Nautical Cotton


Louisa Harding Twitch Sleeve

This pattern is both fun and a learning experience. Kids' knits go faster. You'd think I'd have figured this out before now, right? And, until now, I've avoided stripes in my knitting (unless it was a felted bag) because stripes made me nervous. When there are wide stripes, yarn has to be cut (because I haven't learned how to carry yarn up the sides) and cutting yarn worries me. I like the idea of being able to rip back if I need to and yarn that I've cut is quite a commitment -- it can't be uncut. But this sweater (aptly named Twitch because it's making me twitch . . . just a bit), is helping me overcome that stripe apprehension. I am embracing the stripes. And there will be many.

What's really making me happy are the sock monkey colors. I love me some sock monkey.

Monkey Mail from Jerri





September 10, 2006

Sunday inspiration

SundayBlogLarge.jpg
click to see it ridiculously large

There's a lot of inspiration to be had right now; it's beginning to look, feel and smell like Fall. I'm mentally re-arranging some ideas and project plans as well as fixing in my mind the things I want to learn how to do. Of course it didn't hurt that I was around some new yarn yesterday. I'll be knitting an adorable shop model for an under-represented group of knitwear recipients -- little boys. It's a classy and simple striped sweater from one of the newest Louisa Harding books, The Magical World According to Miss Millie. The sweater is "Twitch" and the yarn is Nautical Cotton and I'm anxious to try it out. We also have another of her new books, Winter Muse Classic and I fell in love with everything . . . but mostly "Ginger."

I was also knocked out by the Light and Shade Collection at Kim Hargreaves' site. Tender's my favorite there.

We'll see what I actually end up knitting though. I like thinking about it almost as much as actually doing it. If something is not already complete or almost complete, I'm not committing to knitting Christmas gifts. I want to continue to use knitting as respite and not as a cause of stress.


August 29, 2006

Getting things done . . .

I have to lead with this excellent quote:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. (Steve Jobs)

My blog reading focus is primarily directed to knitting blogs (others here and there occasionally, but knitting blogs almost exclusively). I've found that knitbloggers are FAR from dogmatic -- there's a wide range of experience and thought represented across the knitblog spectrum -- I don't often come across cookie-cutter women in those circles.

I realized yesterday that I've been happily influenced by some of them. Typically, I can count on being inspired, but there are those times that actual ACTIONS result from reading other knitting blogs -- those times when I get up and get things done as a result of reading a knitting blog.

Surely I'm not the only one motivated to get up and DO SOMETHING when I read Ann's Hefty Bag entry. I didn't have trash bags to fill, but there were some significant tasks that I completed yesterday -- things I'd been procrastinating for quite a while. One of my hotspots is my kitchen counter -- where a lot of crap just accumulates. I cleared a significant portion of that yesterday not by shuffling the detritus elsewhere, but by actively DEALING with it.

One of the things I've been meaning to do is share some links here so that I could easily reference them later.

1. Fluffa's DIY blocking board and a slideshow you can see on her entry here

2. Eunny's notebook

3. And randomly, this post and this post . . . just because there are things for myself there I want to remember.

Finally, here's a finished object to flash -- more proof that I'm not just a starter but a finisher when I want to be:

Mountain Colors Bearfoot Wilderness colorway


August 28, 2006

Socks and Swatches

WollmeiseBlog.jpg

You don't swatch for plain stockinette socks -- you just start. What a liberating concept. If Elizabeth Zimmermann, Nancy Bush and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee share the same philosophy about starting socks, then I should too (the worst thing that can happen is that you end up with a pair of socks that fit . . . somebody). The sock *is* the swatch. Surprisingly, I've been known to get hung up on the details occasionally and not begin something for fear of messing it up and doing something wrong, so the nice yarn sits in a corner, untouched. I couldn't stand to have the Rohrspatz & Wollmeise suffer the same fate, so I chose my needles (Clover bamboo 2.25 mm) and just started. And it's knitting up beautifully!

This weekend while I was working, a customer came in with a pattern for a baby hat and some yarn (neither of them ours, but that's okay . . . sometimes) concerned about not having gotten the pattern gauge and I suggested just starting the hat with the suggested needle size (which she already owned) instead of what she thought she needed to get gauge (which she would have to buy). The worst thing that could happen is that after knitting the hat, it would be too small or too big. The hat would still fit a baby somewhere. She had more than enough yarn and the appropriate needles. Just start the hat. Oddly enough, she didn't seem happy with my suggestion.

At some point, you just have to believe that you have everything you need and that it's okay to make some mistakes.

August 24, 2006

Rohrspatz & Wollmeise sock yarn

Rohrspatz & Wollmeise

It's difficult to express how much I love the color of the Rohrspatz & Wollmeise yarn that Marjan sent me for our sock yarn swap. I made a vague request for "reds" and she sent me this gorgeous "Brombeere" (which I think translates to "blackberry"). I've swatched for my socks with the yarn and tried a garter rib before deciding that I'd be happiest with a plain stockinette sock so that I could really enjoy these colors.

There's a great Wollmeise Blog where I found stockings -- presumably knit with the Wollmeise yarn. Those stockings are inspiring! Thanks, Marjan, for a great swap. As of today, I have no socks in progress so it's a perfect day to cast on.

I managed to complete a stripe sequence for the Santa Fe Ruana yesterday:

SF Ruana Stripe Sequence

The ruana is knit with two panels and joined with a mitered panel in the back; the vertically-striped panels are the "colorful" portion of the ruana and while I'm not too sure yet about the yellow I chose, I'm happy enough with it to see the possibilities. I really enjoy knitting with Manos and am enjoying the dark red and forest green.

August 20, 2006

Irish Hiking Scarf Knit-Along

Finished Irish Hiking Scarf.jpg
Irish Hiking Scarf Knit-Along Blog Entry

August 11, 2006

Electronic Knitting Tools

I'm still working on the Irish Hiking Scarf and continue to lose my cable needle. Typically, I place needles behind my ear when I'm not using them (that is, cable needles and DPNs - not circs or straights!) It took me about 45 minutes to find the cable needle that was apparently in my hair when I went to bed last night.

B&W Cables

I purchased and downloaded a great new tool that I've been trying as a demo for the past couple of months: Countable. I didn't know it existed until I was reading about it here last year. It works great on a Palm Treo 650 and at $5.95 (US), it's affordable -- costs about the same as a conventional click-type counter.

In addition, I make frequent use of my Adobe Reader for Palm OS. Most of the patterns I purchase for download are sold as .pdf's. I open the .pdf and save a copy to my virtual desktop. I can then "drag" the file to my Adobe Reader and it'll be on my Treo the next time I run a hot sync operation (which I try to do daily).

Does every knitter need a PDA? Probably not, but now that I have one, I don't think I could ever live without one. Mine's great for photos on the fly (not excellent quality, but passable -- see above) and I can shoot a short video if I need to.

Typically, each sock I am working on is a task in MS Outlook on my laptop. I synchronize my tasks with my PDA so that I have specific notes about each sock in progress (number of stitches cast on and number of stitches picked up for the gusset, for example). As long as I have my phone with me, I have all my knitting notes. I've considered using a traditional knitting journal but would hate to have to carry it with me in my purse. This is a workable solution for me and I've now got identical copies of everything that's knitting-related on my laptop and phone.

Here are some helpful resources for knitters who use PDA's:

Palmsource "Knitting" article by Jaya Srikrishnan
Nancy's Knit Knacks
Notes regarding using Sweater Wizard with a PDA

Not every knitter is a gadget gal, but since I am, I find mine to be incredibly handy.

August 08, 2006

Enough orange already?

Have you had enough of my orange obsession yet?

Irish Hiking Cables

I pulled out the Irish Hiking Scarf to work on yesterday. I set it aside back when all the stuff started happening with my parents. But when I finished my Purl Soho custom-colored (Cedar Stripe) socks yesterday, I wanted something "worsted" to work on and the cabled knitting moves along oh-so-nicely while we watch movies. I'm now at the halfway point and it's knitting up fast on my Addi Turbos.

I've been in this orange / rust / persimmon / pumpkin phase and I don't see any signs that I'll stop grabbing orange yarn to knit with. For my basic wardrobe, I'm definitely a neutrals gal, but I love kicky and colorful accessories to jazz things up. Orange just looks wonderful with denim.

It's at the halfway point now. I'm shooting for 60" (152 cm) and it's right about 30" now (76 cm):

Irish Hking Scarf Progress

And now it's time for buttered popcorn, a chick flick and more Irish Hiking.

August 07, 2006

Reminiscing earlier knits - Sophie felted bag

I've been cleaning up (and backing up) some of my knitting photos (digital). I started with my 2004 knitting projects (I didn't start knitting until December 2003) and am working forward. I can look at an old photo and remember specific things that made me literally sweat remembering the difficulties I might've been having. Kitchener stitch? It totally eluded me and defeated me each and every time I attempted it and I had nightmares about it. But now . . . somehow . . . I can kitchener (i.e. graft) without sweating. How did this happen? I totally don't know. I can't remember the moment I got it, and the miracle that is felting has erased and blurred my early attempts to graft i-cord handles to a Sophie bag, for instance. I knit and felted 8 Sophies and never did a proper kitchene stitch of the handles. But now, with socks, I don't have issues. I do need a book and some quiet, but I can do it.

The single amazing TRUTH to come out of all this knitting -- the thing never attempted is the thing never mastered.

Sophie #3 - before felting

Sophie #3 - after felting

August 06, 2006

Fall 2006 Project

Santa Fe Ruana (Design Source pattern using Manos Del Uruguay wool):

Santa Fe Ruana backSanta Fe Ruana Front

And the colors I chose:

ManosBlog.jpg

Manos del Uruguay
Woodland (109, variegated) - MC
Persimmon (W)
Uranium (35)
Brick (54)
Straw (Z)
Olive (55)

And the shop model (Manos trunk show):

Santa Fe Ruana - Manos Trunk Show

Everybody who tried it on yesterday looked great in it. I have no idea when I'll be able to start this (much less finish it) but it's the perfect little something for our 3 days of winter weather every year.


August 02, 2006

DPN Comparison / Review

Elizabeth asked in my comments which DPN's I prefer and after considering it for a while, I'd have to say that I like them all for different purposes. Brittany Birch are likely to snap at smaller diameters (US Size 1 or 0's), but I like the shorter DPN's they offer.

I'm really impressed with the sharp tips of the Crystal Palace bamboo, but I'm not happy with their length. They are at least an inch too long to knit socks with comfortably. The Clover bamboo seem to be what I have the most of and it's what we carry where I work, so I'm likely to just keep buying and using them. I have no complaints about them other than their somewhat blunt tips and the tendency with the Size 1's to "bend" or "bow" a bit.

DPN Comparison

DPN Comparison

I'm still experimenting and I'll buy and use Size 1's (2.25 mm) whenever I encounter something new and affordable. Yarns behave differently on different needles and it's a matter of figuring out what's most comfortable. Blue Sky Alpacas now offers a set of shorter (5") DPNs in a metal tin. I'll buy a set and let you know what I think. (UPDATE: Mystery solved. Crystal Palace makes 8" and 6" DPNs and I have the 8").

I'd love to hear about which DPNs you all use and love!
(Comments are closed, but feel free to email me at the email address in my blog sidebar)

July 30, 2006

Sock Study

Okay, I am just not content to believe that cuff-to-toe on DPN's is the best method of sock-knitting, but it is definitely my preferred method. I've tried magic loop and I'm definitely intrigued by toe-up knitting and short-row heels. In the end, however, what I know is that until I'm face to face with total dissatisfaction in the way I am knitting socks, I'll continue the old-fashioned way -- 5 sticks, some sock yarn and immediately commencing with long-tail cast-on and some ribbing.

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts prefers toe-up knitting ("most of the time," as she says in Simple Socks Plain and Fancy). She also writes, "But when it comes time to replace the toe, or the whole foot for that matter, having knitted your socks from the top has its advantages. You can just pull the yarn and watch the stitches go. If you have started at the toe, you will have to pick out the stitches of a full round to separate the pieces, then pick up the stitches and work down."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a heel to turn.

Continue reading "Sock Study" »

July 28, 2006

Purl Soho Cedar Stripe Sock #2 Progress

I'm on the second sock of the striped pair of socks I've been working on:

PurlCedarStripeSkein.jpg

PurlCedarStripe.jpg

There's a subtle difference in these colors from the same dyelot, but I like it. In general, I still enjoy the custom-colored striping yarns in spite of the crap-shoot that is Lorna's Laces hand-dyed yarns. You just really never know how much or how little Lorna's Laces will pool, so I've decided to think of it as charming (and if I had any OCD tendencies, the quirky yarn would drive me over the edge).

As much as I am really itching to work on something more substantial -- a more challenging knitting project, I am totally unable to do that right now. However, there is immense comfort in sock-knitting and it's easily transported, so that's ideal for me during my rapidly-diminishing summer.

A big thank you to my readers for not taking personally anything I said in my blog entry yesterday regarding the dynamics of blog commenting. I enjoy all my comments and commenters and try to reply to each one of them. When a knitter asks questions regarding projects on my blog, or knitting questions in general, I take the time to craft a response as soon as I possibly can. I knit and blog because I enjoy it and I will continue to have a knitting blog as long as I'm knitting. And truly, It's a miniscule part of my blog readership that aren't knitters. The rare comments that frustrate me are typically from non-knitters who stop by and that's when I use my comment moderating power. This blog and its comments will possibly outlast me and I still consider a well-placed, constructive comment to be a gift of a reader's effort and time. So, thank you.

July 21, 2006

Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock Finished

In the midst of family crisis (yet again), at least I'm able to finish something:

Lornas Laces Sheperd Sock - Purl Soho Colorway - CEDAR Stripe

Yarn: Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock - Purl Soho custom color - "Cedar Stripe"
Needles: Crystal Palace DPNs - Size 1 (2.25 mm)
Pattern: A basic sock pattern - see the blog entry here

I'm still working on the Mountain Colors "Wilderness" sock and am closing in on the toe decreases.

Now, if you don't really "get" sock-knitting (i.e. why knit socks when you can buy perfectly fine pre-made socks at the store?), I had my own shining moment of understanding when I was reading this: Properly used, socks get used up. They are, like so many wonderful things and people... here for a good time, not a long time...and it's our duty to get our footwear out and show it a good time.

July 17, 2006

Mountain Colors Bearfoot Sock

It's been wonderful knitting my first sock with this yarn:

Bearfoot_Wilderness_Blog.jpg

I've swatched it before on 2.25mm needles and it was too dense. For me, this yarn behaves best with a 2.75mm needle. I'm already a huge fan of Mountain Colors yarns, but hadn't had an opportunity to knit a sock using this Mountain Colors Bearfoot until last week.

The basic sock pattern is my own -- 64 stitches with K2P2 ribbing for the leg and stockinette for the foot. The stockinette portion is where I really fell in love with the colorway. I envision a scarf or sweater for myself with this color in their 4/8ths worsted weight wool (someday). I've used the Mountain Colors 4/8ths wool in Ruby River, Indian Corn and Tango for 3 different multidirectional scarves -- the yarn knits up so quickly and wonderfully.

Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock is still a close contender for my sock-knitting heart, however. Both sock yarns are nicely unique and enjoyable.

I also have to share my fun new "peas in pod" stitch markers:

I haven't had a chance to use them yet, but I can't wait! They're not only cute, they're beautifuly constructed and presented in a labeled tin:

Stitch Markers from Amy

You can get yours from Amy at Good to Be Girl.

July 15, 2006

Another dishcloth entry

My daughter knit her first dishcloth using this pattern; she caught on to the pattern immediately and finished her dishcloth the same day. I've noticed that she's a much faster knitter than I am (she just learned to knit last fall). She's not a "process" knitter but a very intense results-oriented knitter. I don't think I could enjoy knitting as much as I do if it made me tense or nervous.

dishclothEJJ2.jpg
Elmore-Pisgah Peaches & Creme, Lemon-Lime

dishclothEJJ.jpg

For a new knitter, this dishcloth pattern is a great way to learn YO (yarn over) and K2tog (knit two together) as increase/decrease methods. Materials can be purchased at your nearest hobby or discount store -- the yarn and supplies won't set you back more than $5 (USD). Knitting is accessible to anybody who wants to learn.

July 14, 2006

2006 Knit Alongs

Knit-alongs

2006 Knit Alongs:

Fetching Fingerless Gloves - Knit Along
(joined but not started yet)

I Knit a Noni
(Completed)

sockapaloooza2006
(Completed)

200Sox Button


Irish Hiking Scarf Knitalong
(In progress)

July 12, 2006

Knitting Without Tears

I keep Elizabeth Zimmermann books on my bedside table to read before drifting off to sleep and last night while I had socks on my mind, I read this, "K2, P2, rib is one of the best stitches for socks, as it is so elastic that it clings to legs and ankles, and tends to stay up and not wrinkle. So cast on sufficient stitches to reach comfortably around ankle and/or instep, seeing to it that they are divisible by four, distribute them on three needles, and rib a long enough piece for the leg."

I love E. ZImmermann's breezy but opinionated (and deservedly so) writing style. Reading this last night helped me make a decision about the socks I started the other night -- that is, whether to keep the K2,P2 ribbing throughout or knit in stockinette after a 2" cuff. Since this is another pair for my husband, I'm keeping them ribbed. Thanks, E.Z.

Incidentally, this is the book in which you can find her Seamless Sweater and her famous percentage system for knitting a sweater without a pattern. The modular Tomten jacket is also in here (knit in garter stitch throughout or as E.Z. writes, "contains not one stitch of purl.")

And my favorite knitting quote is in this book as well:

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."

And since she's not one to make bold statements without expanding on them a bit, she also said, "If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don't; follow your secret heart and take up something else. But if you start out knitting with enjoyment, you will probably continue in this pleasant path."

Mountain Colors Bearfoot Wilderness


July 10, 2006

Summer of Re-knits

It really wasn't an all-out plan to re-knit things I was marginally dissatisfied with, but that's what it has turned out to be:

Purl Soho Lornas Laces

Cast on 60 stitches
K2 P2 ribbing for 1-1/2"
Knit till leg is 5-1/2" and then start heel flap on 30 stitches (half the cast on stitches)

Gauge - 8 st/in unstretched and 7 st/in stretched on Size 1 (2.25mm) Crystal Palace DPNs

My ankle circumference is 7.5" (9cm) so if you do the math, it works out to 60 stitches for the sock fit that I like. I have a crazy affinity for numbers evenly divisible by both 3 and 4, but I played with Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program until I settled upon a plain vanilla sock pattern that I like. I deviate from her heel pattern and instead use Heels by Number (which hasn't failed me once).

I had already completed a sock knit on Size 2 (2.75mm) DPNs with this Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock yarn (a special Purl Soho striping colorway) but didn't like the results -- the sock felt too short and I wasn't crazy about the way it knit on the 2.75mm needles. It was one of those projects that I ended up putting away for a while until last weekend. Sometimes it's just terribly satisfying to rip out and start over.

I'm still sticking with my preferred sock construction - cuff-to-toe knitting with a traditional slip-stitched heel flap. Someday I'll get excited about the logic of toe-up construction and short row heels, but for now, knitting socks this way is comfortable for me. And, yes, I'm perfectly aware that it's high time I knit some patterned socks. Soon.


July 01, 2006

Creative Energy

Years ago when I was involved with building databases and developing software, one of my mentors told me to avoid throwing the innocent users into "symbol-shock" -- giving them too much interactive stimuli in one screenview. Good software design allows the user to approach the experience feeling in control and not immediately overstimulated.

That's how I've been feeling . . . overstimulated.

Recently, my blog-hopping and Flickr-hopping has created that dreaded "symbol-shock" experience for me. I feel that some of own creative energy has been sucked from me (and I take total responsibility for choosing to keep clicking). Even though I focus primarily on knitting blogs and photos posted by fellow knitters, there's now this bit of cacophony that prevents me from generating my own thoughts. I already know that I don't want to always be knitting the thing that everybody else is knitting or knit the thing the same way everybody else does, so why I am exposing myself to it? (This isn't a judgment of those who knit the latest and the coolest designs -- I do that too; rather, it's just that I don't get a particular charge out of doing this unless it's something I would want to knit anyway). I've become more of an observer than an active participant in the thing that brings me joy and fulfillment -- my own creativity and my own ideas.

I don't produce ANYTHING commercially viable nor do I use this blog as forum to market my thoughts to anybody, but I've been feeling that tiny bit of discontent and dissatisfaction with myself that indicates that I'm no longer on track. I'm not talking about extreme self-consciousness but that feeling that I'm being dishonest with myself by not doing what I enjoy. There . . . do you see it? It's the absence of JOY. It reminds me of what I felt when I worked for people who felt it necessary to micromanage and contain everything I did (incidentally, those are the jobs for which I was paid the least . . . but I digress). Contrast that with my most fulfilling and successful jobs -- the ones in which I was given the mandate to achieve a particular goal and given the FREEDOM to use the resources at my disposal to achieve the objectives. I had the authority to make choices and decisions using my mind, my creativity.

Knitting and blogging is enjoyable for me whether or not I actually produce a single finished object. It really *is* about the process for me. I have all the resources at my disposal (excellent knitters and knitblogs, visual resources, reading material, search engines), but I've stopped using them to my own ultimate goal of pure knitting enjoyment and instead have focused more on the "look what I did" aspect of knitblogging. And . . . that is really just not ME. What I intended to share here is my enthusiasm, my energy and offer encouragement to others. I really appreciate those of you who read me here and recognize what I am all about and what I have to offer.

I was so sure when I started knitting that I would hit a wall in knitting -- that is, find something I simply could NOT do. But I had some encouraging mentors and friends who told me that yes, I could actually learn how to purl and yes, I could knit whatever I wanted if I tried and wanted to learn. (Guess what? They were right). So yeah, you can too. Don't ever come to this blog and say, "I could never do that." All I possess is a desire and enthusiasm -- I wasn't born knowing how to knit. For what it's worth -- i's not a compliment to the blogger to type in the comments box, "I can't do that." I'm not here to show off, yet that's the implication when somebody leaves a comment like that.

I will find JOY in my knitting again.

Coffee and a Magazine


June 26, 2006

Delightful knitting notions

I found the best Chibi needle holder to date:

chibithree_blog.jpg

A knitter can't live without bent-tip (blunt) tapestry needles, but a sock-knitter might find the standard ones (in the green and white Chibi) a bit too large for sock kitchenering. Enter the orange Chibi like the one I purchased on Saturday. There are three needles packaged with this Chibi and they're smaller, but still the same design as the standard ones. Perfect for weaving in ends on small-gauge knits. Although this is my third Chibi, they'll be my most-used tapestry (darning) needles.

And because my notions have to be cute as well as functional, my daughter bought me this tape measure for my birthday:

tapemeasure_blog.jpg

Who says functional can't also be adorable?


June 22, 2006

Cashmerino Aran & Tempting

I'm very close to finishing the Tempting sweater; I tried it on last night after placing my live stitches on waste yarn. Amazing fit and exactly what I envisioned. I was reading this review of Cashmerino Aran after I had decided to switch to smaller needles for the Tempting re-knit. Ribbing can be tricky when determining gauge but I knew the fit and the look I was after. For Cashmerino Aran and ribbing, I think you must knit at a tight gauge. Everybody who's knit the Tempting with Cashmerino Aran mentioned that it really stretches with wear, so I think I successfully allowed for that in the slight modifications I made. For the sleeves, I knit the first few rounds with Size 6 (US) DPN's and then finished the sleeves with Size 7 (US) DPNs - the same size needle I am using for the body of the sweater. I'll also knit the last inch (the neckline) with Size 6 circulars as well. I might not have tried this modification had I not seen it done several times in Kim Hargreaves' ribbed knit patterns.

Otherwise, I've followed this pattern exactly as written for the smallest size and I love knitting with the Cashmerino Aran. It's definitely one of my Desert Island yarns.

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June 21, 2006

Lornas Laces Sock Completion

I completed the Lorna's Laces Sock I started in mid-May.This is the first pair of handknit socks for my husband and it's proving a bit more difficult knitting larger socks, but I've enjoyed it. Lorna's Laces is probably my favorite sock yarn to knit with thus far. (Yes, even more enjoyable to knit than Trekking XXL). I'm curious to see how it washes and wears.

With each sock I knit, I catch on to things that a lot of you probably already take for granted, but I have had to learn them for myself - like slipping stitches purlwise when you redistribute stitches among the working needles. Several months ago, I learned that you slip purlwise whenever you are transferring stitches that you aren't going to work with later. My first traditional heel flap didn't turn out correctly due to the fact that I didn't understand at the time when you knit, slip, knit, slip, etc. that you are slipping purlwise each time.

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I'm always delighted and amazed when I finish a sock and I can't imagine ever tiring of knitting them. Did you know that you can also just "start" a sock without worrying about swatching? It's such a small number of stitches, it's no trouble to rip and start over if you don't like the results. Nancy Bush says so.

May 30, 2006

Tempting Progress

It's a frog and re-start:

Knitty Tempting Progress of the Reknitting

Pattern: Knitty Tempting, Jenna Adorno
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, Color #611
Needles: Clover Bamboo Size 7 (US)

I frogged this 2004 project the weekend before last and restarted it on smaller (circular) needles. I am SO much happier with the ribbing and my error-free knitting this time around. It's clear that when I abandon my knitting for long stretches of time (this unfinished project really DID have dust on it), there's something unresolved that I'm not dealing with. Lesson learned. It's going to be a veritable finishing year for me, I've decided. Did you read the self-discipline blog entries yet? You should! I almost got stuck on acceptance, but managed to push through to the rest (in reality and also in my thought processes). Remember: Don't think about what you don't want.

May 25, 2006

Assembled Noni Medium Carpet Bag

The Noni . . . she is assembled

If you're knitting a Noni, pay close attention to the finished dimensions. I was prepared to knit the large carpet bag until I decided to actually read the instructions and see what the size was going to be. Even though I chose the medium, it is quite large in proportion to my barely-over-five-feet-tall frame.

If you click below, you can see the finished size as I am holding it:

Noni Medium Carpet Bag - Outdoors

Next up is finishing (or frogging and restarting) this:

Knitty Tempting Sweater
click the photo above for additional notes

And if you're reading this far, I am going to share something with you that I realized yesterday. I've been taking things too easy. It's partly because I need to. I am dealing with some significant and stressful family issues right now. However, I've noticed that over the past several years, I've failed to challenge myself like I used to when I was working outside the home. Back then, I knew that at least 40 hours a week were spoken for and I owed my employers my full attention on the job. With the added demands of family, single parenthood, school and more, I still managed to find time to make and achieve my goals. I've never lacked passion or desire to do or be more, but the significant thing I had back then that I don't have now is self-discipline. I didn't wake up yesterday missing it all of a sudden -- I simply haven't had to have it. And I also haven't found myself lacking because of it -- I just noticed that I've developed a rhythm that comes from having more time in which to do things. (An activity will expand to fill the time available for it).

So now it's almost summer. School's out on Friday and I will have even more open-ended, unscheduled time. The idea here for me is not to fill it with endless and sometimes mindless activity (gosh, I hate it when people do that -- they actually think they are getting somewhere) but to be totally conscious of what I hope to achieve. It means reconnecting with my values, my mission, and my goals and consciously applying self-discipline to that. When I've done that in the past, I've achieved EVERY goal I've set.

I'm not sharing my goals yet, because I don't want there to be a perception that I am benchmarking myself against anybody else -- I'm only trying to be my own personal best. And, really, until now, I was focused on what has been important to me: relationships and doing first things first.

Now it's 'out there' since I've written it down. It's not really important whether anybody see or read this, but it's important to me and therefore, might also speak to somebody else who happens upon this blog. I believe that if we are seeing and listening, we will find the tools and ideas we need precisely when we need them.

May 23, 2006

Felted Camellia - Cascade 220

Noni Felted Camellia

Pattern: Noni Bags Camellia
Yarn: Cascade 220 (held double) Color 8414
Needle: US 11
Purchased at Twisted Yarns

If you're knitting a Noni Bag, you should definitely try one of her felted flower patterns to go with it. This camellia was deceptively simple and fun to knit and the pattern instructions are terrific. I think the outcome is striking and I love the texture and dimension of the camellia. You can knit this in an evening (not the month that it took me). I think the only thing I would do differently for my next camellia is make the outer petals the same size as the inner petals (which would also make it a one-skein pattern). To knit this with two strands held together, I used both ends of the skein held together instead of 1 strand each from two skeins. So, to those of you who asked, it definitely IS possible to knit a camellia with one skein of Cascade 220 as long as it is not a "large" camellia. I only had to use my second skein for the bobble in the center.

When I assemble and complete and begin using this bag, I think this will be the last felted bag I make for a while. Although I loved it, I want to challenge myself to finish some incomplete projects and also work on some more challenging knits. Granted, it's hard to keep my resolve when new Noni patterns arrive:

Noni Felted Bag Pattern - Bobbles Bobbles Noni Felted Bag Pattern - In the Sculpture Garden Noni Felted Bag Pattern - Night Garden

My Sockapaloooza Sock Pal received the socks I knit for her (Trekking XXL #107)! I'm delighted she loves them and wears them. I enjoyed the Sockapaloooza experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. Alison and my sock sister did a wonderful job - I salute you!

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What I got from this experience: I learned that I love knitting socks for others.

May 20, 2006

Claudia's Handpainted Yarn - Anklets

I just couldn't leave the yarn alone, so I cast on for the anklets while I was at the doctor's office the other day:

Sherbet Anklets with Claudia's Handpainted Yarn

The brilliant idea for anklets was inpsired by Pixiestikz's blog entry about her bright, cheery anklets. And, honestly, why didn't I think of anklets before? Lolly's also knitting anklets and they're a beautiful shade of green.

I was delighted when this arrived yesterday:

Knit Cafe

When I was in L.A. last year, this was the yarn store I nearly decided not to visit - it turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most! The book contains everything I enjoyed about actually being in the store, finding a must-knit pattern (and then knitting it 4 times), and exceptionally helpful employees. The photos in the book are unbelievable - there are some WOW patterns (I really need to do the math on the La Luz evening gown - it's beautiful) and new twists on basic knits (scarves and hats). Julia and Mary-Heather both have patterns in the book. I also love the WeHo vibe of the book:

WeHo

But for now, instead of curling up with this wonderful book, I must get ready to go to the best little yarn store in Texas, my happy place.

May 18, 2006

Lornas Laces Sock

Lornas Laces Pinstripe - 1 sock almost finished

STILL loving this yarn and this sock!

I've already swatched (and then frogged) some additional sock yarn I purchased on Tuesday and it's delicious to knit with as well. I think it wants to be little anklet socks for me someday:

Claudias Handpainted Yarn - Fingering Weight - Sherbet
Claudia's Handpainted Yarn - Fingering Weight - Sherbet

And more sock yarn I couldn't pass up:

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Mountain Colors "Bearfoot" in Wilderness

(All new yarns purchased at Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas)

If you're reading through Bloglines, this is just a heads-up that I've added a few new blogs to my sidebar along with a cute button and link to Christine's "Pointy Sticks" Podcast. Remember - no iPod is required to listen to a podcast - just right-click and save the file to your hard drive and listen! Christine does a good job covering the local knitting scene (Houston area) as well as the zeitgeist of the entire knitting blogosphere.

There's so much bubbling beneath the surface that I can't write about here. However, in spite of this being a difficult time of year for me, I'm very hopeful about the future. I'm willing to adapt and be flexible -- I'm good at that, but I still feel that I need to be alert and vigilant. Although trouble does come and always will -- the biggest blessings I've ever received have come disguised as distress and tragedy. In light of this, I was reading a wonderful blog entry about self-absorption a few weeks ago (I followed a link from Molly's blog). It was such a timely read then and I found myself wandering back to re-read it this morning (and I dare you to read the whole thing all the way through).

May 16, 2006

Traveling Knitting

Last night while I was on the phone, I started my traveling sock -- i.e. the sock(s) I knit while I wait in line to pick up the kids at school:

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(You can see larger photos at Flickr)

This is the "Pinstripe" colorway in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock purchased (special order) at Twisted Yarns. Unlike the Trekking XXL, which I adore, the Shepherd Sock is a smoother , faster knit -- something that I can knit with in low light and not worry about the splitting (different knitting for different purposes). While Trekking XXL creates a "WOW" sock, knitting with Lorna's Laces gives the sock-knitter a classic, trustworthy experience. The only downside to knitting with variegated Shepherd Sock is the occasional surprise you get with pooling.

I've neglected to do a photo shoot and post regarding the Noni Felted Carpet Bag, but I'll definitely do that this week. I had high hopes of sewing a lining in this fabulous bag, but let's be realistic -- I won't! I'm also still enjoying knitting with hemp and want to make it a staple in my yarn stash. I love the stuff! I specifically want to make this.

May 15, 2006

Sock Focus

Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting is now knitting socks. (The only thing that would surprise me more is if Becky started knitting socks). Ann's first socks are Trekking XXL socks - they're beautiful!

Industrious Margene and her pal, Norma, have started Trek Along With Me, a blog for Trekking XXL sock knitters (you have to "take a hike" with your sock). I first read about it on Liz's blog. By the way, Liz also has a Flickr group for Trekking XXL sock knitters.

We're almost halfway through the year and it has been a sock-focused year for me. I've had to adapt to having a really busy school year (with three kids in school now) and learn to be flexible with my projects so that spare minutes are "enough." However, summer means larger blocks of time in which to knit, so I do expect to be able to finish some of the knitting projects that have languished in my basket this year; so many things are "this close" to being finished.

I hope my sock pal loves her socks:

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She should receive it this week, along with a few small goodies I included. I love the Trekking XXL colorway so much (#107) that I've since ordered some for myself.

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May 05, 2006

I didn't forget how to knit

I didn't forget how to knit, but I was afraid I had! I've been gone several days. I got home on Wednesday after dealing with family medical issues. Thank you to my friends here for the support and prayers and my employers for the understanding. Knitters are such warm and thoughtful people.

Now I am wanting to knit socks for everybody who helped me while I was at home. Everybody needs socks, right? I just can't begin to describe how incredibly calming and soothing it was to pick up my knitting for the first time in almost a week and JUST.KNIT.

TWO things to share about human behavior during crisis situations and family illness:

1. People will always behave in a way that is consistent with their TRUE nature
2. It is healthier to focus on the kindnesses than it is to focus on the insensitivity (not easier, just healthier)

I am grateful for help from good friends, but am also surprised at the total silence from those at home I thought I could count on to at least offer encouragement . . . to let me know that they were thinking of us.

Three words that have come to mean the world to me: "Have you eaten?"

What can you do when you don't think you can do anything? Remind me to breathe and sleep and allow me to cry, to yell, to curse. And of course, you can always listen. Just LISTEN.

So much kindness (again, the focus on this) came from unexpected places. From complete strangers.

For those I haven't had a chance to call or email yet, my mom is still in the hospital and my dad, who suffers from dementia, remains home for now. Finally, I couldn't have left for a week unless I had incredible support from my husband. I know that at any time, he can take over all my duties and run everything (in addition to doing his job) -- and do it well!

April 23, 2006

Sockapaloooza Sockapalicious Sockapafinished (one)

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There's nothing that makes me happier than grafting / kitchnering toes on a cuff-to-toe sock. It signals a FINISH (of at least one sock). My goal with this whole sock thing has been to master knitting a basic pair of socks without a pattern - that is, picking up needles and yarn and just knitting a sock or two. When I was at work yesterday, I flipped to the sock section in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules and she wrote exactly what I've been thinking and I realized the sock thing is definitely "IT" for me.

I've learned so much while knitting the Sockapaloooza socks and couldn't have accomplished it without my favorite sock resources:

1. Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program - except for her "round heel" option on a 72-stitch sock . . . it just didn't work for me.

2. Heels by Number - the "rounder heel" option

3. Picking Up Stitches: Techniques by Theresa - the illustrations were just what I needed to perfect the main thing I have trouble with -- picking up gusset stitches "neatly*. I can do it now and I want to do it over and over again.

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I've neglected to post my finished Noni bag but will do that sometime this week as I catch up on blogging.

April 21, 2006

Lorna's Laces Tiny Sock

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I starting knitting this tiny sock while waiting in line to pick up the little guys at school and finished the toe decreases when we got home. Even though the tiny sock is not representative of how an adult-size sock would look as far as the striping goes, it's a great way to try out a sock yarn without knitting a full-size sock. I can get a pretty good idea of what my gauge will be and how the yarn behaves. It's great sock-knitting practice (for those who need it, that is -- and I do) and you can tackle all the tricky elements right away. More importantly, it's satisying to finish one and offers great stress relief while knitting it.

I used a wonderful colorway from Lorna's Laces - "Pinstripe' and knit with Size 0 (2mm) Brittany Birch DPNs.

My Sockapaloooza sock is moving right along and I should be able to finish the first sock today -- toe decreases always require a bit more focus than I can manage on a typical day.

For the past week and a half, I've had to face some of my worst fears regarding a loved one and although I feel incredibly helpless in the face of it, knitting has helped so much. I've been knitting these socks for my sock pal while I deal with everything and there is just such significance in it for me. I will really enjoy giving these socks away when the time comes. It's also helped make me aware that I want to knit socks for my loved ones and close friends (those who would LIKE handknit socks, that is) and it helps me to understand this writer's blog entry about knitting socks for her loved ones.

April 13, 2006

Sockapaloooza Sock Progress

Trekking XXL 107 Sockapaloooza Sock

This was my progress as of Wednesday morning (yesterday) and not much has been made since. I've had to restart the heel flap and heel a few times before I figured out that there is a math error on Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program. After three tries at turning a round heel (based on a 72-stitch sock pattern) with the program instructions, I figured out that it probably wasn't ME, but the instructions. I confirmed that after checking Heels by Number. I'm learning to trust my instincts but sometimes I assume that written instructions must be correct.

Something I've learned about the Trekking XXL is that any stitches, once dropped, are difficult to pick up due to its tendency to split. Makes for a frustrating "fixing" session when the stitches are tiny to begin with.

At this point, however, with all that is going on here, I'm grateful I've made progress on SOMETHING.This pair of socks is going to be the only thing I have time to work on.

April 11, 2006

Trekking XXL 107 - Sockapaloooza third attempt

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Sockapaloooza third attempt

Since this photo was taken, I've gotten to the point where I have to knit another inch before starting the heel flap; I've made much faster progress on this third sock and I think it's the yarn more than my motivation to complete the sock. Trekking tends to want to split a little bit more, but I think it's the unique nature of this subtly-striped yarn that makes it so. This yarn is very soft and remarkably light. The other two yarns I was using felt heavier and denser. The only drawback to knitting with Trekking XXL is that it makes one want to acquire more Trekking XXL!

In other incomplete knits news, I've finished the bobble for the red camellia and now just need to shape and "sew" the flower together prior to felting it. I'm already in love with the Noni bag and I haven't even started carrying it yet. It's definitely not dainty, but it is unique and fun.

Finally, there is an exciting new yarn store in town --Yarntopia! Tune in to the latest (Episode 4) Pointy Sticks podcast to hear Christine's interview with Amy, the co-owner of Yarntopia. Sheryl, the other half of Yarntopia, is crazy for sock yarn too. I love that they have a blog for the store!

April 09, 2006

It's like playing pick-up sticks

It's like pick-up sticks
L to R: Size 0 DPN, toothpick, Size 1 DPN

Several knitters think knitting with double pointed needles (DPNs) is like wrestling with a porcupine, but ever since I learned how to knit socks, I've enjoyed knitting with DPNs. I don't know why, but it's comfort knitting for me. Yesterday, however, my frustration with the Sockapaloooza sock led to knitting a teeny tiny sock -- basically I needed to successfully start and finish a sock or I wasn't going to feel good about my day. I was recovering from Phase 1 of 100 of my dental work, a little bit relaxed from painkillers when I was hit with "what if I knit a tiny sock with the smallest needles I own?" The result was yesterday's sock. What I really want to try to make someday are sock earrings. Yesterday's tiny sock is HUGE compared to the tiny socks I would wear on my ears.

Although I am wonderfully back on track knitting socks for my Sock Pal, it hasn't been without pitfalls. I spent the evening knitting with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "Watercolor" when I realized it was pooling unpleasantly. Hadn't I just been reading on a knitblog about LL Shepherd Sock and suprising pooling issues? After 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing, it was clear that I wasn't going to be happy with the pooling, so I frogged and restarted with Trekking XXL. If you go to the Sockapaloooza site, you'll see that many industrious knitters have completed their socks. Not so for me. I should have gone through this knitting and re-knitting step LAST month, or even the month before. Anybody who is knitting socks at this point is probably a lot closer to successfully finishing their socks than I.

It's fascinating that knitting for somebody else brings out a lot more of the perfectionist in me than when knitting for myself. I'm learning that with a deadline and a recipient, I am very fastidious and exacting about how I want this to turn out. I want her to feel all the good things that went into this sock and if there are errors, I want her to feel that they were not thoughtlessly knit in to the socks, but instead show my desire to make the socks unique. I can hope!

April 05, 2006

Sockapaloooza Progress

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Knit Picks Sock Landscape - "Cape Cod"


I didn't forget about my Sockapaloooza sock . . . I was just having a really hard time deciding on a yarn worthy of my Sock Pal. I finally decided to go with the yarn I originally purchased for Sockapaloooza and even though I tried really hard to find something negative about knitting with this yarn, I can't. I think it's awesome! This was also the yarn that knit up the nicest on Size 2 needles.

Of course, I have doubts running through my mind . . . will it fit? Will she like it? Will she wear them? But even veteran Sockapalooza knitters have the same doubts, so if they can forge ahead, then I shall too. I signed up as a "beginner" because I knew these doubts would surface and I didn't want to have committed to something too advanced or intricate. I just want to do the best possible job on a simple pair of socks.

To knit these socks, I'm using Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program. It appears that she's made some updates to the pattern generator (February 2006) and they're definite improvements, in my opinion. Check it out!

Sadly, however, I had to frog the capelet I was working on . . . my gauge was SO off and the capelet was going to end up about 2-4" less in circumference than the previous one (itself a bit on the small side). I knit the first three capelets with bamboo circulars -- THIS one, I used my Denise needles in the same size. I think I will have to knit this on 11's if I stick with the Denise (which I probably will -- I love the points on the Denise when I am knitting with lacy yarn).

In addition to knitting my Sockapaloooza socks, I also have non-knitting issues that have cropped up -- things involving root canals, crowns, endodontists, gum trimming, cavities, TMJ. Lovely. I'm trying not to think too hard about the fact that if I'd seen a dentist sooner . . . prior to the pain . . . then the measures probably wouldn't have to be so drastic or costly. So your public service announcement for today: SEE YOUR DENTIST.

March 29, 2006

Noni Bags' Camellia Progress

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The camellia has been surprisingly fun and fast knitting. The only downside is the fact that I'll probably run out of yarn before I finish, which means it's definitely a 2-skein flower. However, I do think it will be worth it when it's assembled, felted and embellishing the bag.

March 28, 2006

Noni Bags' Unfelted Medium Carpet Bag

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I've finished the KNITTING of this bag but still need to (1) weave in the ends, (2) felt it, (3) shape it and (4) crease it. I also need to find handles and a closure that I like. Tonight I'm going to start knitting the red camellia to go with this bag. Yesterday I also started my "Yarn-ventory" spreadsheet (I hesitate to call it a "stash" inventory since it doesn't seem like I have enough to qualify as "stash" yet). In the process of creating the spreadsheet, I noticed that I really don't have impulse purchases of yarn. Every yarn purchase can be matched with its project (just need to start and finish them!) I also noticed that I'd organized my wool scraps by yarn company. I have enough Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride to make a striped hot pad (will felt it) and enough Cascade 220 to make a few coasters.

In going through my sock yarn to try to make a final decision on my Sockapaloooza socks, I decided on what I think will be PERFECT for my sock pal -- the Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn I bought in February. I'll get started on those QUITE soon as they need to be in the mail no later than early May 2006!

I've been SO inspired lately while making the rounds of my favorite blogs. I can't distill my feelings to pat phrases or bullet points, but it is just refreshing to see bloggers being authentic and real, writing with their own fresh voices. I've made a conscious effort to focus on reading encouraging blogs and stay away from the dogmatic, dry ones and it's changed me. I challenge you to read through the archives of your favorite blogs . . . take some time to really get to know the bloggers (some of you already do this, I know!). I have a local favorite that I've been reading since Hurricane Rita -- SciGuy - some very thought-provoking things and interesting things there. One of a handful of blogs I've never stopped reading is Keri Smith's Wish Jar Journal and one of my favorite NEWEST blog reads is Saunshine - there are some little gems in her blog that aren't solely related to knitting. For the latest in knitting, fashion and pop culture, check out And Knitting. I'll be sharing more blogs with you over the next few blog entries.

This past weekend, we went shopping for my son's birthday present - a new skateboard. I took some time to actually LOOK at some of the other items at Fast Forward and found a ton of cute things, including the flip flops I've been wanting. If I was about 30 years younger, this is where I'd shop for clothes. Needless to say, I don't think I have what it takes to be a skater girl - I'll just enjoy it vicariously.

Fast Forward - Decks Fast Forward Wall of Decks

March 24, 2006

Noni Bags' Embellishments - Flowers

I failed to publish the details regarding the Noni Bags' embellishments when I blogged about my Medium Carpet Bag yesterday. I'm going to knit a dark red camellia; here's a post I came across today where Be*Mused has photos of what the Unfurling Rose looks like pre- and post-felting. Two of my co-workers are knitting the Tube Baguette (in the recommended colors) along with the Spider Chrysanthemum. (The flower patterns are sold separately from the bag patterns). From what I understand, the Baguette is a little more "fiddly" as far as pattern instructions go (but the results will be smashing!) The carpet bag I am working on is similar to the Booga Bag in construction and ease of knitting (knitting round and round -- approx 64 rounds for the medium-size -- with no i-cord to knit). If you've ever knit a Sophie or a Booga, you'll have no problem knitting the Noni Bags' Carpet Bag. Another friend (and fellow knitter) ordered the pattern to make the Garden Party Bag (that's a LOT of camellias!)

And while I know that some people scoff at cute things, this was just too adorable not to purchase - it is FUN and FUNCTIONAL:

Ladybug Measuring Tape

This tape measure travels with me in my handbag. I have two other tape measures, less elegant, but equally (they ALL measure things!) functional that usually end up in the bottom of my knitting bag or basket. Having a few means that no matter where I am, I have my tape measure! True knitters will understand -- a tape measure is your friend:

Measure2.jpg Measure3.jpg


March 23, 2006

In Progress - Noni Bags Medium Carpet Bag

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I am enjoying knitting this bag -- it's a nice break from sock-knitting but I am anxious to get back to them. However, as I type this, I am vaguely aware of a litlte voice in my head telling me that knitting and blogging at this moment is not a good use of my time. The house is a mess and there are toys everywhere along with the ever-present piles of school papers and clean laundry. Meanwhile, I'm learning that much of what I want to share and spill here is better handwritten in a private journal even when it's the knitting that helps me work out things going on in my mind. There's nothing huge and earth-shattering swirling around in my head, but I am listening to and trusting my intuition more than I have in a long time.

After all the activities going on this weekend are behind me, I'm going to be helping to "test-knit" the Fake-a-Gamo bag. Be sure and check out the actual bag. Should be fun and interesting to try.

The past two days, it's been unseasonably cool cold here and I've had to run the heater and wear long-sleeved tops. I actually ENJOY this weather -- I just wasn't prepared for it!

March 19, 2006

I'm an intrepid knitter

Apparently, according to Noni Bags, I'm an intrepid knitter. However, I'm also a scatterbrained one. I left my knitting basket at work yesterday and since the store won't be open again till Tuesday, I am without all my supplies, stitch markers and counters. I was sad until I realized this meant I could start a new project with the yarn and pattern I'd purchased yesterday -- that along with my Denise needle set and I was good to go. I cast on last night for a Noni Bags' "Felted Carpet Bag" in the medium size. Clicking on the link to the brochure will open a pdf, but it has a great photo of Nora Bellows' Fall/Winter 05-06 bags. I've also got the pattern for the camellia flowers and all the yarn I need to make everything: Cascade 220 in 4002, 8555, and 9404.

With the "Jelly" Kidsilk Haze I bought on my trip, I'm going to knit another lace capelet and actually KEEP and wear this one myself.

Have I mentioned the HEMP yarn I knit with last weekend? I ended up really enjoying knitting with it; I bought the Get to Know Hemp Kit and so far, our relationship's gone well. I knit a washcloth last week and have since cast on for a scarf.

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March 18, 2006

Knitting in circles

Knitting in the round, knitting in circles, knitting around . . . I think I've figured out what most appeals to me to knit and why. Unlike lace knitting or other "patterned" knitting, knitting in the round quiets my mind -- when it's a particularly mentally "noisy" time for me, I can start a new sock (or capelet, or felted bag . . . anything knit in the round) and it calms me.

I just returned from a quick trip back to see family members we missed seeing on our last trip "home" during the holidays. Because it's where we both grew up and it's where both our families still live, it's difficult to fit in seeing everybody and we've accepted that there are those who will feel perpetually short-changed NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. At least one person has confirmed what I suspect several familiy members feel -- their behavior is a subtle form of "punishment" for our choice to move away from where we grew up. This dynamic is what had me craving some meditative knitting in the round. It's interesting that those who most wanted us to stay and never leave are also the ones who've had the most unresolved personal issues of their own -- unrelated to our choices. Even if we moved back, it wouldn't fix anybody. I did, however, enjoy this trip! I enjoyed seeing the people who wanted to see us, who enjoy our company and are delighted to see us -- no strings attached. I also fit in a quick trip to a yarn store and scored a ball of Kidsilk Haze in a
color I've been wanting
.

There's no place like home -- THIS home.

March 02, 2006

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock - Pinstripe

I'm getting better at swatching my projects before I commit to a stitch pattern or an idea:

Lorna's Laces Pinstripe

I actually like plain ribbing (K2P2) for this variegated and somewhat self-striping colorway. Because I have so many projects either on the needle or in the queue, I'm putting this one away for a while. Since having decided on a "sock-knitting focus" for 2006, I've learned so much and have figured out some sock-knitting mysteries and secrets.

Some recent knitblog reads:

Margene started her Project Spectrum sweater. There's an interesting book meme at Annie's blog. I might actually have to do that one! Fluffa!'s finished Fluffy Bolero is adorable and unique. Go see Lana's snow!

Back to the socks - they're calling me! I have heels to turn.

February 25, 2006

Sensational Knitted Socks

Christine's Pointy Sticks podcast is live now! (No iPod required - just click and listen).

I ordered a highly-recommended sock book recently and each time I sit down to look through it, I learn something new. Sensational Knitted Socks demystifies the sock-knitting process and provides resources for those who learn best visually as well as for those who prefer to deal with charts and tables. If asked which one sock-knitting resource I would recommend, this is it. There are instructions for 4 dpns, 5 dpns and knitting socks on 2 circular needles (also adaptable to the "Magic Loop" technique). Ask for it at your local yarn store or favorite bookstore.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I am going to attempt knitting socks using the "Magic Loop" method and I brought the instructional booklet home with me today. There are also many excellent tutorials online, but the booklet showcases the method along with providing several additional non-sock patterns using an extra-long circular needle.

Thank you all for the suggestions regarding clogs/mules! Before too long it will be warming up here and I won't be wearing ANY socks -- it will be flip-flops and pedicures for me! However, I'll definitely keep knitting socks so I can meet my sock-knitting goal for the year.

I've been a bit quiet online the past few weeks . . . I've been in a season of learning some new things about myself and breaking some bad habits. The older I get, the more I realize that I desire freedom from expectations more than I desire just about anything. I tend to allow others to set standards for me and I just can't do that any longer. I can't get back the opportunities I've simply LOST due to my over-involvement in things that truly do not fulfill any of my personal goals. It's not regret as much as it is the feeling of frustration I get over ONCE AGAIN allowing others' expectations supersede my own dreams. Initially, I am excited when my friends start something new and when I am asked to help, I do so! But I'm learning to say, "You can do this on your own! I believe in you!" The truth is -- I really DO believe in people. I sometimes continue to believe in people when they lose faith in themselves. YOU are equipped with whatever it is you need to discover and live out your own purpose and your own dreams. I believe that when somebody is passionately pursuing something they were meant to do, they simply need encouragement from the sidelines . . . they don't really NEED for me to roll up my sleeves and work alongside them. I can advise, encourage, facilitate and cheerlead. It's enough. And although I am seriously overdue in having learned this lesson, it's not too late for me.

February 15, 2006

Color Me Happy . . . with Moss Stitch

Thank you, Lynn-Anne for educating me regarding moss stitch. I'm in love with it; it's a close cousin of seed stitch and both are equally as difficult to achieve if you're a right-hand thrower like I am. However, there's a pleasant rhythm to BOTH of these that I love. I can't share any photos yet, but I am using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I'd forgotten just how scrumptious it is to work with. It reminded me that I need to finish my Knitty Tempting from last year. I also have 6 more balls of the Cashmerino Aran in an off-white color (I was thinking of a 2nd Tempting with it but might try something different).

Photos will return in my next blog post.

Last weekend, I worked the anniversary sale at Twisted Yarns and I really shouldn't be surprised at how the sock yarn flew out the door! I know it wasn't because I was gushing over the new Cherry Tree Hill Supersock sock yarn or the Trekking XXL. Everybody truly IS knitting socks these days. For the sock yarn stash (which I did mention I would be enhancing this year), I purchased another Trekking XXL (Color #69) and a Burgundy Cherry Tree Hill (and oh yes, I'll go back for the variegated ones I want later).

There has been a lot of progress on the sock-knitting (and re-knitting) front here at Chez Twisted Knitter. Don't you hate photo-less blogs? I DO! If you want to see a cool pair of Trekking socks, click here.

On the Sockapalooza update, I have purchased yarn for my Sock Pal's socks! They should arrive via USPS soon! If I don't totally love the yarn I ordered, then I'll choose something from my sock yarn stash in a color that I think she would enjoy.


February 10, 2006

Quick Knitting

Pink Dishcloth
Click the photo above for pattern notes at Flickr

It's hardly worth blogging, but dishcloths are what started it all for me. A little over two years ago, I challenged myself to learn how to knit dishcloths like this (with a gentle prod from a friend who was already learning to knit) because my mom loves them so much. She's terribly hard to buy for and is allergic to precious metals and nearly every fiber other than cotton (and polyester! LOL!), I knew that these humble little dishcloths were the perfect gift for her. Obviously, I've ventured beyond these since then and am coming up on my 2-year knitting anniversary. I am quite a slow learner when it comes to knitting. I knit six Sophies before the whole design "clicked" for me and I figured out how to count rounds correctly and how to do left- and right-leaning descreases. The Booga Bag was a bit more straightforward and I learned circular knitting (and i-cord) on the Booga and discovered a serious NORO addiction. I love the bits of organic matter embedded in the yarn and I get so much pleasure out of knitting with anything NORO.

This year, I am conquering sock-knitting and shooting for a finished pair of socks every month. It will likely take my knitting several pair before all of it clicks for me, but I'll continue to do it because I just enjoy it SO MUCH. There's nothing like facing your fears (sock-knitting was a huge fear) and discovering new things about yourself.

Next year -- Fair Isle. I scare myself.

Continue reading "Quick Knitting" »

February 06, 2006

First Socks of 2006

REGIA Ringel

I completed my first pair of socks of 2006! (I finished the 2nd sock during Super Bowl XL last night). I've learned that it's more difficult to knit these darker colors and actually see the stitches, so I've since cast on for a lighter-colored sock on Size 2 rosewood needles.. I'm using Beth Brown-Reinsel's "Basic, Easy Socks in Seven Sizes" for the next pair of socks I'm knitting. It's knitting up so quickly on 2's! Since starting last night, I'm already to the heel flap.

I'll be frogging the pink Trekking XXL socks since I think they are a bit too tight, even for me.

February 02, 2006

Sockapaloooza 2006

sockapaloooza

I'm participating in my first Sockapaloooza and received my "sock pal" information yesterday. I signed up as a beginner since this is my first time participating. Meanwhile, since it's the "Year of the Sock" at Twisted Knitter, this fits in nicely with my theme. (It's also the Year of the Dog and Polly wrote it about it last week). This morning, I noticed that Margene is participating in Sockapaloooza (and look -- there's a a very familiar-looking skein of Trekking XXL in her blog entry). And yesterday, she so kindly introduced her newer readers to Beaverslide Dry Goods. She's generous that way.

I found a wonderful blog a few weeks ago and I highly recommend it for inspiration and incredibly pretty design - Posie gets Cozy. I also love Good to be Girl for visual appeal.

If you want to follow progress with me on Kate's Butterfly 2, hop on over to her blog to see her take on the Rowan "Butterfly" in a scrumptious color. And while you're hopping around keeping up with me, since I am all over the place this morning, be sure to visit Annie to see her completed Celtic Dreams.

Do something creative today!

February 01, 2006

Irish Hiking Scarf Progress

Irish Hiking Scarf

UPDATED: 2/2/2006 - Mossy Cottage "Mango" Irish Hiking Scarf and Yarn Obsession "Mango" Irish Hiking Scarf (for Irish Scarf Knitters Who Love Orange)

Today . . . I am dealing with a totally frustrating situation and THE KNITTING HELPS . . . as does a day or two off. I am wisely going to refrain from writing about what it is until I can get some distance from it. By then, maybe I'll have the wisdom to keep it to myself and nobody will be the wiser. However, I do wonder if I'm a better knitter when I'm angry. I'll let you know.

January 30, 2006

Irish Hiking Scarf

Irish Hiking Scarf Irish Hiking Scarf

Isn't it wonderful? I'm giving my hands a rest from the sock needles this morning and I cast on for something a bit bigger to practice my new cable-knitting skills. I'm a huge fan of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted and I had some Tiger Lily in my stash to make what will be an extra-long scarf. The free pattern can be found here: Irish Hiking Scarf and there's a Knitalong too.

January 29, 2006

Trekking XXL Sock Progress

Trekking Sock A larger view of the Trekking sock

This is the progress thus far on the accidentally-begun sock (and I know that I am transparent to all the sock-knitters out there!) The Trekking is as amazing everybody says. It knits up wonderfully and is quite soft, but with plenty of strength also. I'm definitely sold on this yarn and will use it again soon since I still want to try the tweedy ones -- perhaps in a green. The pink is lovely and I'm enjoying knitting it, but I'm dying to knit a green sock.

More sock blogs coming (even though socks aren't ALL I'm knitting, I promise!)

January 26, 2006

Socks & Mariann

I inadvertantly started knitting another sock:

This morning . . .
Trekking XXL - Zitron - Color #133


It started as a swatch and I kept knitting so I could watch the colors change (probably only exciting to me!) and before I knew it, I had knitted myself halfway to a sock. I finally put it down this morning so I could get on with my day. The colors are so pretty and soft!

Knit night this past Tuesday evening included a lot of knitting as well as a retirement celebration! Mariann, my good friend and knitting teacher, has retired from her job at Texas Childrens Hospital and will be moving soon -- temporarily at first but permanently later. If I said I would miss her, it would be an understatement. I will miss being able to get her instant feedback and encouragement. I will miss her insistence that I can knit anything I put my mind to. I will miss her ability to speak honestly and decisively about anything and everything. Mariann's the one who pushed me to at least TRY to start knitting something besides dishcloths and to learn how to purl. She also patiently taught me how to knit my first socks. And my favorite thing about her is that even if I started TODAY, my stash acquisition could never equal hers! I can accumulate yarn guilt-free knowing that somebody I know has more than I do. For sharing your passion, Mariann, I can't thank you enough and I will miss you.

Mariann & Robin
Mariann (L) & Robin (R) on Tuesday at Knit Night

Baby Booties - Knit by Mariann
Mariann knit these adorable booties for our friend Alisa's first grandbaby

January 23, 2006

Today's entry was going to be about a pair of finished socks

Today's entry was going to have a photo of a finished pair of socks, not an in-progress one:

ALMOST a pair

. . . but I didn't finish knitting them (sleep was much more important). I'm about an inch away from the toe decreases right now. My goal was to finish them before the end of the month and I think I'll make that deadline. My February socks will be knit with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the "Watercolor" colorway. I've swatched already and it's just an amazing yarn! I also have Mountain Colors Bearfoot and Plymouth Sockotta in my sock yarn stash and yet another skein of Lorna's Laces ("Cedar Stripe") from Purl Soho.

I taught a sock knitting class on Saturday (my first class and it's sock knitting? Oh the irony!) What was supposed to be a 2-1/2 hour class was a 3-1/2 hour class due to my unfamiliarity with the material and the pattern (we complete a small sock in the class). But I did it -- I taught a class. Fortunately, I had a wonderful and understanding first student and she was delighted with her finished sock, so I couldn't really be any happier. I'm definitely going to go over the material and make my OWN classroom sock so I won't be stressed at the last minute next time.

Another almost-finished object is the mate to this wristwarmer (One Day Wristwarmer). There's a mod to this and it's that I made them 7" long before starting the thumb hole. The pattern calls for 4-1/2" before the thumbhole round.

one-day wristwarmers

This gorgeous yarn is Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Color #24 (a deep purple). Love it. I used less than one skein for an extra-long wristwarmer.

January 15, 2006

Knit Blogs: Thoughts

Margene posed some interesting questions on her blog the other day and I decided to answer them here:

How do you blog?

I blog a combination of knitting, photos, technique, and my discoveries. It's also what I love to see in other blogs.

Let's say you come across a new blog you haven't seen before and it looks interesting, full of pictures, and knitting you like. Do you read the first post or two only or do you really look around the blog? Do you check the FO photos, the archives and/or the links on the sidebar? Do you let the person know you like what you see and that you’ll be back?

Where knitting blogs are concerned, I let Bloglines tell me when there are updates to a particular blog but I like to navigate away from Bloglines to go to the blog itself. I also prefer to build a relationship with a blog before I leave a comment for the blogger. However, over the last several months, I've been terrible about leaving comments. I used to automatically leave a comment on any entry that struck a chord. These days, I'll read without commenting more often than not. I don't really know why that is, but I would like to say to my fellow knit bloggers that I enjoy your entries and photos and the time you take in updating. I just don't want anybody to think I visit their blogs in order to get them to visit mine.

When you go to a blog that you read daily, or whenever you have the chance, do you check to see if they have added anything new to their blog? (Some of you do, I know.) Do you read every word of a post or do you scan it, skim for content that catches your eye? Do you check the links and/or comments?

There are specific blogs that I visit and revisit to see what's new on the main page. On the actual entries, I scan and skim once and then read again for content. Most of the time, I check the links and I frequently check the comments. It totally depends on the blog. Some blogs are a bit "busy" (buttons, KAL's, etc) and overstimulating so I prefer to read those through Bloglines.

Do you generally blog on the fly and hit as many blogs as you can, or do you take you time to visit only a few blogs and read them thoroughly and leave a comment?

My blog-reading habits have changed so much. I only check Bloglines once a week now, but there are a small handful of blogs I check every single day . . . anticipating each and every new post.

What is it that attracted you reading a blog in the first place? If you blog do you enjoy new bloggers stopping by to comment so you can go check out their blogs, too?

The first thing that attracts me to a blog is the photos, but what keeps me going back regularly is the blogger's writing style, humor, knitting ability, and personality (I definitely seem to prefer perky, positive types).

(Thank you, Margene for making me think -- it also led me to update my website!)

And strictly for fun and because she doesn't have a blog of her own, I am sharing some of Alisa's recent finished knits:

Alisa's moccasins Alisa's FINISHED sampler cardiganAlisa's FINISHED cardigan (back)

January 11, 2006

Beth Brown-Reinsel "Top Down Aran Cardigan" Workshop

Yesterday I attended a "Top Down Aran Cardigan" workshop taught by Beth Brown-Reinsel :

BBRCardigan.jpg
.

A fellow blogger was there too and she made significantly more progress than I in spite of her having had very recent surgery on her hands!

If you knitters ever get a chance to attend a Beth Brown-Reinsel workshop, please go! She's a delightful instructor and the content is meaty yet you don't feel rushed. You're there to learn the concepts and you can rely on her handouts to catch up when you get home. The handouts are EXCELLENT and well-organized. She truly knows her stuff! She shared her "Celtic Dreams" pullover and talked a lot about her design process which was a nice bonus -- it gave me some time to untangle the mess I had made of my yarn.

I got to sit with my friends and as usual, learned a lot just by having them there to help me and let me borrow supplies. (Thank you Angelette, Mariann & Alisa). I was definitely the slacker of the group!

The event was hosted by my employers at Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas (best little yarn store in Texas). While Beth was in town, she also conducted at least two other workshops.

Check out the new button in my sidebar - I'm actually "knitting along" this year -- it's a Sock Thing!

January 09, 2006

Music to Knit (Socks) By

LP_ultimate.gif

Skittermagoo (Chris) blogged about Two Thousand and Sox and I am all over it. I'd already decided to knit a pair of socks a month (at least) so this fits in perfectly with my plans and my new music.

Here's a completed single sock and I've cast on and am about two inches in to the second sock:

Finished Sock 1a of 2006

January 03, 2006

First Sock of 2006

I've been a bit busy but have found some time for the sock thing:

Sock 1 of 2006

Yarn: REGIA Norweger Ringel
Needles: Size 1 (US) Clover bamboo DPNs

Sock yarn stash now includes Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Sockotta and Fortissima Colori. For the year of the sock, I am sticking to yarns we carry at Twisted Yarns -- it should be more than enough to do a dozen pair of socks in 2006!

December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

2006? I'll take it . . . it's got to be better than 2005 was.

Meanwhile, I'm placing here for posterity my lofty knitting goal for 2006: completing one pair of knitted socks per month during 2006 (with yarn from my favorite local yarn store). That's it. No other noble goals like reducing or using stash yarns -- I simply hope to enhance and increase the size of the stash throughout the entire year.

One of my favorite sock-knitting bloggers is Polly; I love reading her UK-based blog and enjoy the random wildlife photos and her travel knitting. Polly has two wonderful published projects - the Kiri Shawl and the French Market Bag.

May this be a HAPPY and prosperous new beginning for all my friends and loved ones!

December 15, 2005

Picot Cast-on

I had a 30-minute window of time the other day and wanted to learn the picot cast-on. Tere are some excellent instructions included with the pattern for the Miss Dashwood Hat on Knitty. It takes far less than 30 minutes to learn!

There are alternate methods for a picot look, including the one used for the Picovoli, a Grumperina pattern.

And, finally, a great photo and explanation of the picot cast-on choices was blogged by Nona in September.

When I have bigger blocks of time in which to knit, I am working on my Annie Scarf from Jane Ellison's Queensland Collection. I have many other projects planned and might or might not finish them before the holidays and I am putting no pressure on myself to do so! Next year, however, I think everybody needs a knitted stocking. Just sayin'.

December 07, 2005

Cabled Clutch

I was planning to put this on my sidebar, but it's so cool that I had to create an entry for it:

Libby's Cabled Clutch

Go there and read the entry and have a look at the pattern - so adorable.

Now . . . click here, and here.

I've seen this clutch talked about on several knit blogs. -- the idea has taken off in a rather viral way! And, yes, you could totally knit one for less than $150 . . . or just maybe you could design your own knit handbag and put a $150 price tag on it. The most interesting thing to me is the difference between the type of person who would knit and carry their own knit knock-off of the cable clutch and the one who would create a new and equally smashing original knit handbag design. Neither knitter is "better" than the other, but they are two distinctly different approaches.

December 06, 2005

My Favorite FREE Online Knitting Patterns*

Here are my favorite FREE online knitting patterns -- what are yours?

Multidirectional Scarf (3)

Multidirectional Scarf #2

Update: It was brought to my attention that the Multidirectional Scarf as posted above was inspired by an Iris Schreier (of ArtYarns) design. If you join her Yahoo Group, Modular Knitting and introduce yourself, you will receive her free multidirectional scarf pattern.

Sophie Felted Bag (8)

Sophie - Brown Sheep Nature Spun

Booga Bag (3)

Booga #1

Branching Out Scarf (1)

FINISHED Branching Out

Lace Capelet (3)

Capelet #3 - Finished

Elizabeth Perl's Sock Program (1/2)

Knit Picks Simple Stripes - Snapdragon

Chunky Ribbed Scarf (1)

Pink Ribbed Scarf

Tempting Ribbed Sweater

Knitty Tempting

And my favorite "nearly free" (i.e. very economical) pattern:

One Skein Wonder (1)

Glampyre - One Skein Wonder

* I have a LOT more favorites I could share, but wanted to include only the items I've already knit or am in the process of knitting.

December 05, 2005

My Knit Beliefs

My Knit Beliefs

1. Yarn and notions that I am meant to have will find me
2. I will be surrounded by knitters who can help me improve my knitting if I listen to them and learn from them
3. I will have enough yarn to finish my favorite projects
4. It will be easy to frog what wasn’t meant to be knit
5. I can give away yarn that I can’t use and never miss it
6. I will find something to love about even my worst knitting
7. I will continually release myself from guilt in having too many projects on the needles
8 . I will find no shame in my enjoyment of the process over the end product

December 04, 2005

Knit Gift Bag - Debbie Bliss Yarn

For purposes of scale, there is a votive candle inside. This was something I was experimenting with based on (and inspired by) the pattern in Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I knitted the main portion of the bag last night while watching Polar Express. I did the three-needle bind-off and i-cord this morning. Joelle Hoverson's pattern calls for Blue Sky Alpacas' Alpaca & Silk yarn (1 skein) -- after the holidays I'll choose one of the great new dark colors and make one. I used DPNs for my small bag, but when I make the larger one in the book, I'll invest in 16" circular needles.

Needles: US6 DPN's (Brittany Birch)
Yarn: Something Debbie Bliss in pale pink - perhaps cotton angora?

Knit Gift Bag

November 21, 2005

Glampyre One Skein Wonder

Glampyre - One Skein Wonder

This was such a fast and fun knit -- I used a bit more yarn than I expected to, but still less than one skein of the Lamb's Pride Worsted yarn.

The pattern is from Glampyre.com - One Skein Wonder; the designer is Stefanie Japel. Find this pattern and others in her shop. It's the perfect little topper to a tank top.

November 03, 2005

Home again

I was away for a few days at a funeral and returned late last night. For me, much of my grief is personal but I've been fortunate to have some close friends with whom I can share -- some of them friends I've met through knitting. It's a tremendous blessing. Meanwhile, I've learned that knitting itself is very healing for me.

So today I ventured out and found some things that I've been waiting to purchase (why wait?):

Future Diagonal Scarf

The yarn is Mountain Colors 4/8s for yet another diagonal/multidirectional scarf. This one is Mountain Tango. The magazine is Family Circle Easy Knitting (and I realized that I didn't get the issue I wanted after all - I was wanting the one with the felted bag on the front). The Knitting Pure and Simple pattern is for the "Neckdown Jacket" with a zipper (#201). I'm planning to tackle that someday when I regain some focus.

Hold your loved ones close and tell them what they mean to you; knit something for them or teach them how to knit. Keep things in perspective and be at peace with yourself and others. Pursue the things you are passionate about.

October 19, 2005

Getting Gauge

I've been slow to wrap my mind around the concept of getting gauge, but I think I am finally GETTING IT.

1. Spend some extra time knitting a gauge swatch!
2. The bigger the swatch, the more accurate the gauge results - at least 4 inches but more is better.
3. Buy extra yarn in the same dyelot in order to get an accurate gauge swatch without running out of yarn for your project
4. Knit your swatch the same way the finished piece will be knit - i.e. in the round or back and forth
5. Plan to wash and block your swatch and measure before and after

Here are some excellent articles regarding gauge:

Swatch Out! by Marilyn Roberts (Knitty)
What is a Swatch? (Stitchguide)
The Importance of Gauge (Suite 101)
Knitting Purls of Wisdom (Yarnmarket e-newsletter)
Knitting Purls of Wisdom Part Two (Yarnmarket e-newsletter - scroll down to see the notes about swatches and gauge)

And my final word about it is that for anything you intend to wear, it is absolutely critical that you do a gauge swatch! It's NOT so critical with scarves, felted bags or afghans, but it is essential that you swatch if you want the finished product to fit you. Educate yourself about how yarns behave after they are washed and blocked. Swatching can be fun because it gives you the opportunity to play with your yarn before you tackle the project.

October 16, 2005

I'm a Knitter

I am a knitter who loves:

• Knitting lace patterns, socks, dishcloths
• Owning nifty notions and tools that make knitting more fun
• Knitting for relaxation and stress relief
• Listening to music while I knit
• Visiting my favorite knitting blogs and getting to know the bloggers behind the blogs
• Being a perpetual “beginner” and not an expert in anything except trying new things
• Having found knitting in my late 30’s . . . it’s never too late
• Discovering I’m better at math and conceptual/spatial tasks than I thought
• Being part of a community of knitters who love to share
• Feeling confident that I can do things the way that makes the most sense to me.

Live With Passion.jpg

October 13, 2005

Diversions - High Tech and Low Tech

Two indispensable tools in my knitting bag - a pencil and paper (preferably Post-it® Note Pads because they serve many purposes - not only as paper, but as bookmarks and place keepers in patterns and charts).

However, I can also appreciate having and using another nifty tool that I dug out of a drawer and have appropriated for use in my knitting:

PocketPC.jpg

I don't use it every day, but it is quite handy for carrying along patterns and notes. It's also synchronized with my Outlook Tasks (where I keep all my knitting project notes and information). Here's an article and resource with a broad view of how knitters can use portable applications. In the article, she also references a knitting font that I have installed and use on my laptop now. Although it's certainly not a "need," these nifty little tweaky things are fun and helpful.

For those who are interested, there are more Palm OS knitting programs for your PDA than there are Pocket PC applications. I currently do not own any knitting programs for my own PDA, but was excited to find that Nancy's Knit Knacks has a Pocket PC version of her Knit Kards: eKnitKards for Pocket PC 2003.

And because I am all over the place today (mentally), I also want to share something my friend Stacey (a crocheter, but I don't hold that against her) sent me:

StaceyHat.jpg


It's adorable and looks like a 20's Flapper Hat. I know that crocheters don't get enough love from knitters, but I respect anybody who can take yarn and a hook and create something this wonderful! And, yes, there are crochet blogs and an online crochet magazine -- go give a crocheter some love today.

October 12, 2005

It's a Sock Thing*

Tuesday nights are my knitting night and I was so anxious to go last night; one of my friends had found out the sex of her first grandbaby and revealed it last night (it's a boy!) and another friend went to Cheryl Oberle's workshop in Taos and had a lot to share (including a shawl pattern). Tuesday nights are a huge part of what makes knitting so satisfying and fulfilling for me.

Travelling Knitting

I asked one of my co-workers about Nancy Bush's newest book and whether there were still some copies at the store. It led to an interesting and animated conversation about Nancy Bush (and those who have met her or attended a class) and socks. The consensus is we have to get Nancy to Texas. (Here's the blog entry that led to my curiosity and our conversation; be sure to read today's entry over there too).

I also asked whether anybody's ever done an afterthought heel and even with about 60 years' (or more) knitting experience represented, nobody has. The gauntlet was thrown and I was told to just go for it! So here's everything I am able to find online about socks and afterthought heels:

1. Jill Schaefer's Method
2. Keyboard Biologist's Notes & Experience with Afterthought Heels
3. Dawn Brocco's Afterthought Heel (halfway down the page)
4. A comprehensive heels resource
5. For fun -- some images
6. And something I'm saving to look through later: Toe Up Sock with Sherman Heel
7. Why Knit Socks? on Knitty
8. Wendy's Toe Up Sock Pattern and her Tip Top Toes article at Knitty (I adore reading Wendy, but the fingernails are distracting!)
9. Another excellent starting point and resource that I use a lot: Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program
10. Socks 101 - Great photos and instructions
11. The Sock Knitter's Companion - Step by Step Help

For my reference:
Nancy Bush books on Amazon.com:
Folk Knitting in Estonia
Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns
Folk Socks: The History and Techniques of Handknitted Footwear

*It's a sock thing . . . you wouldn't understand

October 10, 2005

Rain + Socks

It's raining (finally) - perfect sock-knitting weather:

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(photo taken with cell phone camera - colors are deeper and richer than this)

Yarn: Knit Picks "Simple Stripes" - Snapdragon

Knit Picks Sock Yarns are SO affordable; and I am not the only one who thinks so. Here's the Knitter's Review article regarding all of Knit Picks yarn. I'm really enjoying these socks so far; I cast on last night and have been knitting for about an hour this morning.

September 25, 2005

I'm Back!

I'm back and leading with my favorite knitting project this year - a Lace Capelet.

Romantic Lace Capelet for JLH

Lace Capelet

Pattern: Romantic Lace Capelet
Yarn: Kidsilk Haze - Rowan (I used Liqueur and Villain)

I visited Los Angeles in mid-May 2005 and picked up the Kidsilk Haze and the pattern at Knit Cafe in Beverly Hills. Until my sister spotted the capelet on one of their mannequins, I'd never thought to try Kidsilk Haze (too intimidated). However, within moments of my sister trying on the store model, I was fondling the Kidsilk Haze. As luck would have it, Mary-Heather had an awesome color to show me - Liqueur. I cast on right there in the store, with help from Mary-Heather, who had to walk me through my first cable cast-on (too tight of course - I ended up ripping it out and starting over a few days later).

This has been my favorite project this year, due to my overcoming my intense fear of Kidsilk Haze. And this is what was on my needles on the flight home from L.A. to Houston, accompanied by tears and earbuds (an iPod mix that my sister spent hours creating for me).

Prior to my trip to L.A., I deleted my previous blog and have since spent several months deciding what I want to accomplish by even continuing to have a blog. Basically, the only way I can exist with a knitting blog is to do it on my own terms. I want it to be a record of what I've been knitting, learning and discovering.