Monday, December 01, 2008

Tis the season for gift knitting

And I actually finished one item.

The first Noro Striped Scarf.
I said the first because just like everybody else I caught the Noro Striped Scarf bug. I am heading to my LYS after work today to get some more silk garden. This is a quick knit and makes a perfect gift.

I started another gift with no recipient in mind yet. But when I saw this at Uniquites I could not stop myself.
This is a kit with cashmere yarn to knit a manly scarf for your man. Granted, my man has yet to be found, but the cashmere and the deep brown color beckoned, and I gave in. The kit comes with seven patterns, but I had another in mind. Here is a better picture.

The Irish Hiking Scarf
Sigh. Now if my muse will only fine me my man.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's a cold weather affliction.

There's something about the cool weather that make your fingers itch to start a new project every other day.

Something simple but absolutely gorgeous for some easy knitting like on the metro or in the car or while waiting in line.

I am not a scarf person, but yes, I got caught up in the Noro stripe scarf frenzy so here it is. This will make a nice gift.

Then of course I need another vest with cables.

A lovely Kathy Zimmermann design in the Nashua North American collection. I am doing yest another vest. This one in Dream in Color Classy. I love this yarn! Nice and spongy. The cables show up really well, much better than in the picture.

Knit, knit, knit!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcome back. Muse!

With the falling leaves and the chill in the air, my muse decided to come back.

It is a warm welcome indeed!

I have a couple of finished projects that I will post pictures tonight, but here are a couple more of WIPs. I have been very productive.

Vests and cables. Two of my favorite things to knit.

This is the beginning of Victoria from Kim Hargraves's book Thrown Together. Here is the finished product:

I am knitting mine in Noro Cash Iroha in ivory. Believe it or not, this will be my first knitted item in off-white!

The other WIP is also cable and also a vest. Tis the season for vests and cables.

Veste Everest inMountain Mohair. This is my second one. This one will be a gift.

More vests and more cables to come!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Come back, sweater muse

You have been on a long vacation.

My sweater muse has taken off on a long vacation this year. It has been a totally unproductive season in the sweater department. I just frogged two more pieces the other nights and have been staring at the yarn. I am waiting for the new Nashua Magazine to arrive at my LYS. There are several pretty patterns. There's bound to be one for me.

The weather in Virginia has been very pleasant. Maybe that will inspire me. Fall seem to be not so far away. Sweater season, right? Knitting season. Kids are going back to school. It's time to come back, my sweater muse.
My sock muse, on the other hand, never left.

Watermelon Jaywalkers on left and Ellie's birthday socks on right. At the rate I am going, family and friends are getting three pairs of socks each this Christmas!

Socks rocks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mindy's socks

Warm feet, warm heart

My friend Mindy has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

But that is where the bad news stopped. Even though the breast biopsy showed the lumps to be malignant and Mindy will have a lumpectomy to remove another lump in her breast in a couple of weeks, the PET scan did not find any more cancer in her body and it has not spread to the lymp nodes. Even though Mindy will need both chemotherapy and radiation after the surgery, her doctor expects full recovery.

Mindy will be a survivor.

And she will have warm feet throughout the ordeal.

Breast cancer socks for Mindy. Colinette Jitterbug. Go Mindy go! We are with you all the way!

Monday, August 04, 2008

A midsummer update

It's about time!

I have been slacking so badly.
You can call it a totally unproductive summer so far, so a productive one, depending on how you look at it. I have not been able to get a single sweater going this year. I started several, but all have either been put aside or frogged. The latest attempt was Hey, Teach! I got this far:

Rowan All Seasons Cotton. All that was done in sone sitting. But that was just about it. And that yarn has gone through several projects. I just might finish this one. I just might.

I was also fascinated by Norah Gauhgan's Manon:
I knitted up one peplum triangle out of curiosity. This is Karabella Aurora 8 from stash. The gauge is a tad big but I think it will fit just fine. If I finish it. The pattern is intriguing enought it might keep me going. We shall see.

Socks, however, are another story.

I can't stop knitting them.

Socks are a success story. Pair after pair after pair. Socks never let you down. Socks are great knitted up in pairs:

Or even singly:

Socks are your true friends. Socks are forever!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Socks are your true friends

Socks are forever.

I love knitting socks.

Especially two socks together. But a sock at a time is okay too. As long as you cast on the second sock right away. Always have a sock-in-progress with you and you will never be bored. I even like kitchnering.

I am leaving for Thailand Saturday. It's a 24-hour flight. I never sleep on a plane. Do you think I can finish a sock? Maybe a pair if I knit two at a time? We shall see.

Sweater, on the other hand, can either be your friend or enemy.

This is the latest craze on Ravelry.

February lady sweater. Based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's baby sweater by the same name in the Knitter's Almanac. Free pattern is here.

Seems like everybody is knitting it, so I joined the crowd and cast on with some modifications.

I knitted the bodice in stockinette instead of garter. I also did yarnover increase instead of M1 as the pattern says. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy in Nightwatch. From stash. (Yeah!!) Lovely hand.

Unfortunately it needs to be frogged back a few inches. I did the eyelet increase too soon. The eyelet row should be just a couple of row above the beginning of the lace pattern. Off to the frog pond I go.

I told you. Socks are good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shrug experiment

Cables and lace

I want a little summer shrug.

I have been searching high and low for a shrug pattern. I wanted some lace, but not too lacy. I wanted some cables, but not too bulky. Picky, picky. I didn't know exactly what I wanted. I would know when I saw it.

Then I saw this picture.

Debbie Bliss shrug in Pure Silk book. The picture is so unattractive! But something caught my eyes and I began to search through Ravelry. Much better pictures there. Love it! Yes. Cables and lace. Just the right kind of cable and the right lace. This is want I want. But not in silk. Not me. Cotton. 24 st to four inches in stockinette. Hmn. Cotton. I can never get gauge in cotton.

I couldn't get gauge. I tried it in Sublime organic cotton. DB cathay. Rowan wool cotton. Couldn't get gauge. Went down to needles size four and still the work looked sloppy. Tried it in pattern. Nope. Didn't like what I see. It just didn't feel right. Hmn. Didn't look good. I wanted this.

Then Caroline at Uniquities, my second-favorite LYS, said to try Rowan's Calmer, a cotton DK yarn with a little elastic. She said I would like it.

I love it.

Just right. And the yarn was on sale. So much for stash diving. This is a DB lace-and-cable pattern but I am not using her shrug pattern. I don't like that it is done in parts and seamed together. The shoulders don't look right. Back to Ravelry and the search. I am following this 1936 shoulderette pattern:

Much better.

Now I am knitting in earnest. I also finished my second pair of socks (knitted two at the same time). Now I will just need to clean up a couple of single second socks and I shall be crusing away with two at a time onwards! It is so rewarding.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A sock ahead

Great leap forward!


Best thing that ever happened to sock knitting since the magic loop!

No more second sock syndrome!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hemlock ring blanket

Actually, it's a hemlock blob now.

I was searching around for a project for my handspun yarn when I came across the Hemlock Ring Blanket by Brooklyn Tweed. I was never interested in knitting an afghan or a blanket before, but that pattern really caught my eye and I thought it would be perfect to try my handspun.

I cast on last night and couldn't stop.

It's a hemlock blob right now. I need a longer needle. This is being knitted on #8. Somewhere I have a pair with 40-inch cable. I also have to spin some more yarn. I only have about 400 yards spun up. The pattern calls for about 600 yards. In the meantime I need to finish the Central Park Hoodie. I already finished the front and back and am now on the sleeves.

I love the Blue Sky Cotton yarn. It knits up beautifully. Good thing we have a long weekend coming up. I should be able to finish that this weekend and work on spinning more yarn for the Hemlock Ring.
In the meantime I just have to go to work.
Too bad, but one must support one's yarn habit...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No more step decrease

Smooth sailing all the way!

Does it ever bother you that when you bind off for the armhole (bind off four stiches on the next two rows, then two more on the next, then so on and so forth..) it leaves you with a jagged, stepped edge that is very unpleasing to the eye?

Well, maybe you are not as anal as I,but I never liked those "steps," and always wondered how to get rid of them. At the knitting retreat a couple of weeks ago I learned how. It's a neat little trick. First you bind of the first row normally. Then on the return row, you work until the last stitch, then turn your work, leaving on stitch on the right needle.

Knit (or purl) the first stitch on the left needle, then pass the lonely stitch over, the bind off the rest as required. Presto! You get a smooth, curved edge.

No more steps, yeah!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I've got it!

By George, I've got it!

Blue Sky Alpaca organic cotton. The color is sky. I finished the first skein. I am going to pick up the rest of the yarn this afternoon. Yeah!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spinning bliss

Spinning the rain away!

It had been raining all weekend. In fact it is still raining as I write this Monday morning. But who cares? I was spinning the weekend away. First I fixed the spinning wheel so that it no longer squeaks. Then I finished my entrelac socks.

Very nice. I like them very much. I am ready to cast on another entrelac sock. This time a smaller one to fit me. Then I admired the loot from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

From left wool/bamboo top roving for socks, grey corriedale roving, blue merino roving (for more socks) and white merino roving. Sweater quality for the grey and white. I only got four ounces of the wool/bamboo to try out. It spins up nicely.

I was able to spin it quite thinly. I will ply this and try a swatch for socks. The grey corriedale flew off my fingers. It spins like a dream.

I had two bobbins full in no time at all. These should ply into a light-worsted weight yarn. I can't wait until the spinning workshop on Tuesday when I will try out my new Majacraft jumbo spinning bobbin. New toy!
What's so exciting about a bobbin? This baby will hold two regular bobbins' worth of plied yarn. You free up two regular bobbins for more spinning. Just as you never have enough knitting needles, you never have enough bobbins when spinning!
I did pick up some yarn at the festival. I got sock yarns (they don't count as stash.) and all the willpower melted away when I saw this at The Fold:

From Blue Moon Fiber Arts, the people who bring you Socks that Rock, this is Peru -- a blend of alpaca, merino and silk -- in worsted weight. And it is in blue. The colorway is In in Navy. It had my name on it. I did not have a choice. This is my Nantucket Jacket.

In the meantime I cast on a sock. This is the new Prism sock yarn. At $31 a skein, it is pricey, but very nice merino with a very soft hand and of course incomparable Prism colorway. This one is denim.

Last but not least, my quest for the perfect cotton sweater continues. I have been swatching, casting on and ripping so many that I was about to give up. Then I came across the Blue Sky organic cotton. Just one more try.

The gauge is right. The color is right. The fabric feels great after a wash. This might be the cotton Central Park Hoodie I have been searching for. I bought just one skein from my LYS. I will cast on and do the ribbing and see. I can get the yarn tomorrow when I go spinning. This might just be it. I will keep my fingers -- or cables -- crossed in the right direction!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Adventure in cotton, take two

Last year I struggled with cotton knitting and failed miserably. I could not get gauge and the fabric turned out real floppy. I finally figured out that it helped if I knitted cotton with wooden or bamboo needles. I could control the tension much better that way. I started some cotton projects but by mid-summer Bill's condition worsened considerably and when he passed away last July my world fell apart completely. Not a single cotton project was completed.

As I knit my life back together I figure I can try cotton knitting again. I love both these Juliets.

The first Juliet is a Zephurstyle pattern knitted in bulky weight or worsted weight held double. The second one is a Debbie Bliss done in Rialto DK. I want to do them both in cotton. I started the first Juliet with a bit of modification. Getting adventurous, aren't we? I read in Ravelry that the pattern runs very large and that a lot of people knitted it in worsted weight yarn single and with good result. I can't imagine doing a garment like that in heavy yarn or in wool. I am knitting it in Rowan Summer Tweed, single, on size 7. That's the first modification.

The second modification is that I am knitting the bodice in stockinette instead of garter. I don't like garter stitches.

And as if two modifications weren't enough, I am increasing with yarnovers instead of knit front&back as the pattern calls for. I think it will go better with the lace pattern in the botton of the garment.

I am hoping this will work out okay. It is knitted from the top down so it is relatively easy to customize. I figure I can try it on as I knit to see how it fits. There is always a frog pond nearby.

Last but not least. The other day I came home from work and Runty was not at the door to greet me. Surprised and a little concerned, I went looking around the house for him. Guess where the little guy was?

Speaking of cool cat...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another quickie update

I spent this past weekend at a knitting retreat in Gettysburg, PA. The retreat was organized by a group of knitting and stiching retail stores in Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia. It was a quiet, relaxing weekend. There were more cross-stitchers and needlepointers than knitters but we had a good time anyway. I took some classes and learned some new techniques in Norwegian knitting with Continental knitting holding both colors in your left hand. It was a little awkward at first but thanks to my crocheting knowledge I was able to pull through. The instructor said holding both yarns in one hand will give you more even tension. That has been my problem in holding yarns in both hands with Fair Isle -- uneven tension. I need to practice some more with the both-yarn-in-left-hand method to see if I really get better, more even tension before I attempt the Alice Starmore kit I bought last year.

In the meantime I finished the first entrelac sock.

I am very happy with it. No holes! The Trekking XXL is wonderful. I will cast on the mate later today. I want to finish the first pair so I can cast on a second pair! This is a little too big for me so it will go into the gift chest. The next pair will have 5-stich rectangles instead of six so it will fit me.

I also knitted a swatch of Cotton-ease.

Very nice. I really like how the fabric looks and feels. This swatch was done on #seven needles at 17 stiches for four inches. I am going to give the Central Park Hoodie another try. I really want it in cotton. I will eventually knit it in wool. Probably in the fall, but will use this Viking version that I found on Ravelry. It is really neat! I even have Dream in Color Classy yarn in Night Watch blue for it.

This weekend is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I am looking forward to it. I got back to spinning again and am hoping to get some merino and cormo roving or even some fleece. Last year the Fold had kits of the Socks that Rock roving that you could spin into your own sock yarn. I hope they will have them again this year. You never have enough sock yarns. And sock yarns do not count as stash.

Back to work. See you later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Entrelac sock woes

Rip and learn

The entrelac sock was moving right along. Note the operative verb was. I turned the heel and was happily continuing with the foot.

I proudly showed my work in progress to Velva who, after admiring it , kindly pointed out that the transition from the closing triangles to the heel flap was not very neat and the stitches were very loose, thus creating holes. This picture is a little out of focus but you can see the holes from the loose stitches.

Thank you very much Velva.

She was having the same problem with hers and was agonizing over the ways to fix it. Well I was not fixing mine. I was already on the foot! Who cares aboout a few loose stitches? They're okay.

The Velva figured out that if you pick up the stictch right below it and knit the two stitches together that will tighten it up and solve the problem. Presto. No more holes. Nice and neat.

Rip and learn.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not your daughter's socks

Entrelac is fun.

Check this out.

An entrelac sock in progress. Trekking XXL color 108. Is this pretty or what? On top of that I convinced Velva to try the Magic Loop tecnique so she doesn't have to transfer the stitches from the last rectangle every row. It works like a charm. This is so much fun.

I am also swatching for this pattern from a Lana Grossa Filati magazine.

I am doing it in (gasp!) Lion Brand Cotton Ease. I really like the feel of the yarn and the fabric it knits up and I heard so many good things about it that I am willing to give it a try. I had a bad experience with Knit Picks' Main Line. (I won't even link to it. No more Knit Picks products for me.) I knitted a Central Park Hoodie with it and it pills terribly, so much that I would not wear it. I will knit another CPH some day with another yarn but now want a cable cardigan knockabout so will give this Filati one and Cotton Ease a try. We shall see.

But first, back to the sock. It's fun!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Family and friends

Essential ingredients for life

April 7 was my birthday.

It was the first birthday without Bill in 20 years and I wasn't looking forward to it. Then several weeks prior my stepdaughter Erica called. "We're sending you plane tickets. The bluebonnets will be blooming here in Austin and we want you to be with us." So I went to Austin to see Erica and the grandchildren.

It was one of the best birthdays I ever had.

The Bluebonnets are indeed blooming and Mr. Fancy Pants the peacock is prancing around when I arrived at Happy Forest Farm in Manor, Texas.

There are many new things on the farm. The latest addition is Flower, the baby goat, born just a week prior. Erica feeds her three times a day. She has begun to nibble at grain and greens now.

She follows us just about everywhere. Here are Ingrid and Flower.

The Children are growing up fast! Elsa, who is now 18 months, is walking and getting into everything.
She can't open doors yet, but it won't be long before she can join her siblings and the creatures on their 15-acre farm.

Ingrid, at four,is my shadow.

Our birthdays also fall on the same week, even though she didn't care much about the dress I knitted for her and took it off almost immediately, complaining that it was itchy against her skin.

Oh, well...

Faith is six. A middle child who is at time serious and hard to figure out, but can also be boisterous and mischevious at other times as well. Here she is with a ball against one cheek and a rattle from a freshly killed rattlesnake against the other!

Grace found the snake when she flipped over a board. She promptly got her father who shot the snake dead.

They threatened to eat it. "Taste just like chicken," they said. To which Mommy and Grandma promptly replied: then let's just eat chicken.

Grace, at eight, is already Erica's big help. She can milk the goat, muck the goat pen, feed the chicken and gather the eggs and well as do other chores around the house. Still she has time to be a kid.

Nate is ten. He is the "man of the house" while Dad is at work. Nate reminds me a lot of Bill, especially with his calm countenance and his matter-of-factness when talking. And that hair! That is definitely Bill's hair.

The children are so much fun. They are so alive. They give me love. They give me joy. They ask for nothing in return. They are such a pleasure. They are such gifts. They are a part of my life now and I am grateful for that.

They love me.

I left Happy Forest Farm knowing it is the place I can go back and will always be welcomed.

I stopped in at the Yarn Barn to check out the Prism trunk show and to show off the kids' pictures. I was in for a big surprise when I was given this.

My very own comfort blanket. Each friend knitted a square or two or three and Lee Ann put the squares together and crocheted the borders. Ellie said they started after Bill's death. In red, white, and blue. There are hearts and angels and butterflies and flowers. There are multi-diretionals and yarn-overs (my mortal enemy!) They were knitted with love and care and compassion. They tell me I have friends who care, who love me, who want to comfort me. The blanket represents all that. And more. My very own security blanket.

I have the love, security, comfort of family and friends. They are within reach. I can reach out and they are there for me.

I am not so lost after all.

Bill would approve.