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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 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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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 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.

February 02, 2006

Sockapaloooza 2006

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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!