January 18, 2010

My favorite accomplishments of 2009

My 2009 Favorites

1. Knitting a sock monkey
2. Achieving some personal goals
3. Learning how to crochet*

Since getting some new books, I'm tempted to experiment with crocheting some garments first:

Crochet Adorned by Linda Perman
Crochet Adorned, by Linda Perman


Everyday Crochet, by Doris Chan

From the introduction in Doris Chan's book:

If you would love to wear your own creations, but struggle with the crocheting because you have fitting or sizing issues, then dive in here. From sleek camisoles to pullovers, cardigans, and coats, the designs in this book contain the elements and guidance to help you make well-fitting, attractive crocheted clothes that you will be proud to wear.

Hers is an interesting approach - crocheting top down with shell stitches. The shells expand down and out rather than up and out, which allows for some natural shaping. And, similar to knitting, top-down construction allows you to try on the garment in progress so you can revise as you go. I'm anxious to try it out but a little bit uncertain about choosing yarn for these projects. I'm not as confident in deviating from the yarns recommended by crochet designers.

Meanwhile, I have plans to knit a sweater for Paul this year as well. I decided on a pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. He prefers a looser fit, so I'm going to knit him a Drop Shoulder-style sweater with turned up, hemmed sleeves. Swatching has already begun:

Cascade 220 Swatch Color 1913

This should be an interesting year.

Continue reading "My favorite accomplishments of 2009" »

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" »

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.



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