Saturday, January 31, 2009

Slipper up

The other night when my SO came to dinner, he slipped off his boots at the door and wandered around in his stocking feet. As he was leaving, he commented that his feet were cold.

Light bulb moment!

Wouldn't it be great to have a basket full of felted slippers for guests to wear when they come to visit? I found a quick and easy pattern at knitty, scrounged up the yarn left over from the Pinwheel sweater, and got to work.

Obviously, not felted yet. This pattern is super easy and would make a great introduction to sock knitting.

Look what my SO brought me the other night.

If you can't see it in the photo above, take a closer look.

He wore these socks so much he wore them out. I think the yarn may be partially at fault - it's an acrylic-wool blend - and the knitter as well - these were knit a bit on the small side, for a snug fit that also stretched out the fabric too much, something I noticed each time he wore them. I am going to practice repairing them, just for "fun".

And to prove the February Lady has not been abandoned:

I discovered that the lace pattern, while fairly simple, requires more attention than I can give when knitting during a meeting. Also, the sweater is getting a bit too bulky to tote around, so I may be forced - FORCED, I tell you! - to start something new, something relatively brainless, for portable knitting.

BTW, Yarn Harlot is also knitting the February Lady, with plans to be done by February 12, BUT she is also spinning the yarn! She will probably beat me, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Knit night etiquette

I am contemplating attending "knit night" at one of the local LYS's, but I'm a little embarrassed that I will in all likelihood be knitting with a yarn purchased elsewhere, a yarn that could not possibly have been found on any LYS shelves. My question is, Is this acceptable?

I could remove the ball bands and hope no one asks about the yarn beyond its fiber content. I could say I bought it long ago, before the LYS was in business (and this may even be true). I could out and out lie and state I don't remember where or when I bought the yarn or declare it was a gift. But I will probably be honest and say I bought it online and on sale, and see what the reaction is. At one LYS, I doubt this will cause any discomfort, but at the other, a small nuclear explosion may occur. Hmm. That might be fun to watch. Heh.

Has anyone else had this problem? What did you do?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jinxed myself

Things were going so swimmingly with the February Lady that I almost - almost - convinced myself that I did not need to try it on once I made it past the armholes. But I did. And that extra inch I thought I needed in the yoke? It is gone now. I may have broad shoulders, but not that broad. I ripped back to just below the eyelet row. I have almost recovered all that lost work, and the fit is much better now.

I am still a bit concerned about the sleeves, especially since I want to make them longer. My plan is to replace the innermost 7-stitch pattern repeat with plain stockinette and gradually reduce the width of the stockinette "insert" until I reach the elbow. Then the extra length should not be too bell-shaped. What do you think?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Student of the game

For the first few years of Peyton Manning's career with the Colts, the sports announcers never tired of saying, Peyton is such a student of the game. The camera would focus on Peyton on the sidelines, head bowed over a sheaf of photos with the results of the previous drive. You can play "smash-mouf" football (Steelers) and you can play without completely understanding all the rules (Hi, Donovan!) and still make it to the Superbowl. Sometimes. But you can also make the effort to be not only a good player but a smart one.

I was thinking about this analogy while struggling with some new knitting techniques (new to me, not new in general). A tackler can do just that - tackle hard and tackle well - or he can also attempt to strip the ball away from his prey, in which case his team has a chance to recover the resulting fumble and turn the tide of the game. A knitter can do just that - knit a gorgeous sweater - or she can knit a sweater with horizontal one-row buttonholes or afterthought pockets or even poetry. There is nothing wrong with being a good tackler or a good knitter, but learning to extend one's craft can be very rewarding.

And painful. The February Lady sweater has three buttonholes. In the course of producing three buttonholes, I actually knit at least seven. I lost track of how many attempts I made at Charlene Schurch's short-row toes before deciding I would try another way to cast on toe-up socks. There are several more challenging projects in the queue, but I can take only so much frustration and agony at one time. That is why I am so true to February Lady, not wanting to work on anything else until she is done, because right now, I am past the yoke and in the zone. At least for a while. Eventually the body will end and I will have to pick up some stitches and add the sleeves. But that shouldn't be too hard. Should it?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monogomous knitting

Just a quick check-in, to let ya'll know I am still alive. I have been working steadily on February Lady, but it has been a two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of progress. I thought once the yoke was complete, it would be smooth sailing for a while, but those darn YO's have a habit of disappearing. At least, with the sleeve holes off the needles, my 29" circs are doing the job just fine.

I am giving up on Charlene Schurch's toe-up socks - I just can't get the short-row toes to look decent. So I am going to try the Magic Cast-On.

While cleaning up the room-formerly-known-as-my-office-but-dubbed-The-Monstrosity-by-my-son, I came across the pieces of the long neglected Minimalist Cardigan. I think one or both LYS's offer a finishing class, so if I can't figure out how to seam this thing together, I will turn to the experts.

And then I will knit only seamless sweaters:

Yes, all of these sweaters are rumored to be seamless. I have the book on hold at the local library, so we shall see. Oui, oui!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The yoke is on me

My strategy of knitting a larger size with smaller needles for the February Lady sweater appears to be working. The yoke is done and it appears to fit okay over my shoulders and across the front. I had to add an inch to the bottom, below the eyelet row, to get the armpits even close to meeting. Me and my Hulk shoulders.

I have been knitting the February Lady on 29" circs, which has become very crowded. It seemed like a good time to switch needles, so I made plans to purchase something longer today. But alas, both the LYS's are closed on Mondays, even holiday Mondays when all the other stores are having holiday sales. (At least, I assumed they were closed. Their regular hours exclude Mondays and there was nothing on either of their web sites to indicate they might be open today and I wasn't about to drive all over making sure.)

Ennyway. I considered stopping at Joann's, even though they probably do not have any circs longer than 29", because I also wanted to purchase some muslin, but it is always such a mob scene there during holiday sales. Instead, I went to Hancock Fabrics, which was also having a sale but was much more sane. They did not have circs longer than 29" either, but they did have muslin AND the Lion Brand yarns were on sale. In general, I am not a fan of Lion Brand unless I am looking for something cheap inexpensive. I kept picking up and putting down Lion Cotton, until I finally convinced myself that I have plenty at home. But I don't have any organic cotton. Three skeins of Nature's Choice in "Walnut" followed me out the door, which should be enough for the Baby Soft Cardigan in The Knitter's Book of Yarn.

Never mind that the gift drawer currently contains one baby sweater, one baby kimono, and four baby blankets. Where are all the babies?!?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Booga Wooga

I assembled the Booga bag and used it last night when we went to a party.

Pattern: Booga Bag from Black Sheep Bags
Yarn: Noro Kureyon and Cascade 220
Needles: US 10 1/2
Modifications: I knit the bottom and a few rounds with the Cascade, which made the bottom more felty and less fuzzy.

This is such an easy project and the results so great that I highly recommend it, especially for first-time felters.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finnegan Begin Again

I am enjoying my Sitcom Chic sweater so much, I decided I needed to knit myself another sweater, this time February Lady. My stash includes a sweater's worth of Peruvian wool from Elann (originally purchased for the Minimalist Cardigan but somehow forgotten), so I whipped up a swatch on US7s.

A swatch that did not meet the gauge of 18 sts per 4". But I have knit this yarn on US8s (the Pinwheel sweater) and I did not really care for the resulting fabric, so I want to stick with the US7s. At 20 sts per 4", I did some cipherin', and if I knit the XL size instead of the L size, I should be okay. The great part, though, is this is a top-down sweater, so I can try it on and make adjustments as I go. And, since I have been wanting to do more (any?) top-down knitting, this project also qualifies as learning something new, per my New Year's quasi-resolution. Oh, and horizontal one-row buttonholes. That's new, and driving me insane.

The other learn-something-new project, the toe-up socks, is in an extended time out. I just can't seem to get the hang of the short row toes. Actually, it is the P3TBL that is killing me. I tried using my new tool as a crutch, but the stitches look wrong and gappy (is that a word? spellcheck doesn't think so).

Then I started a rebound project, something simple, a cotton dishcloth using a granite stitch, but after six rows I already don't like it, so that has come to a screeching halt as well.

Which means I have only one WIP?!? Unheard of!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Help me, I'm felting!

It seemed like a good day to felt, so I did. And it was easy! I threw a couple of pairs of old jeans into the washer along with the Booga Bag bits (in a zippered pillow case), set the dials for a half-load at hot wash and cold rinse, and went about my business.

After one washing, I was impressed with the results. The Cascade 220 bottom was exactly the right size and the flared top had shrunk in, but the bag was still a little long.

I let it sit a while, then while petting and tugging at it, realized that the Noro fabric was too stretchy. So back into the washer for another go 'round.

I was afraid the Cascade 220 would shrink too much, but it didn't. And now the Noro fabric feels firmer. I'll let the bag sit a bit again, to see if I'm satisfied.

So why all the trepidation about felting? I suppose if I were felting something to wear, I might be concerned about too much shrinkage, but this bag is the perfect first felting project. Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Blogger is working now, so here is another FO! With pix!





Pattern: Wisp from knitty
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in 595 (maroon)
Needles: US8 circs
Modifications: None

The pattern was relatively easy, the yarn was not. It took me several tries (and some wasted yardage) to get accustomed to this fuzzy thread.

P.S. I dropped a couple of stitches as I neared the end, but my brand new tool saved the day. The doohickey on the end allowed me to pick up one thread, then closed so no other stitches were snagged in the process. Great design!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I am done with Wisp but cannot post photos because Blogger is being balky. It's been a while since I have had problems with Blogger and it's not like I'm paying a lot of money for this service, but still. It's frustrating when I have a few minutes to update my blog and I can't.

Besides finished Wisp, I have started and restarted and restarted a pair of toe-up socks. Over and over and OVER again. I'm using the instructions from Sensational Knitted Socks, a book that is highly recommended by many but one that I find less than satisfactory. I did knit a pair (okay, three-fourths of a pair) of toe-up socks from these instructions before, so it's not like I didn't know what I was getting into. And now I am determined to make this pair work, dammit. Then I will move on to other methods. Learning to knit toe-up may become a yearlong project.

To reward myself for finishing Wisp and to give myself a break from toe-up, I am swatching for the February Lady sweater. Oh, yeah!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Just for fun

I wanted to knit something quick and easy, and this is what happened.

Pattern: Mason-Dixon Washcloth
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton "Purple"
Needles: US7
Modifications: None

Theoretically, you can weave ribbon through the eyelet and use this dishcloth as gift wrap, but only if the gift is really, really small.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Not what I expected

A while ago, I knit a pair of Monkey socks, in CTH "Birches". They were too small for me, so I gave them to my daughter. I planned to knit another pair, a slightly larger pair, in CTH "Serengeti" for myself at a later date.

To be brief, I'm not liking the results. The colorway looked great as a hank...

... still good when wound into a center-pull ball...

... but after knitting? Ick.

I thought maybe it was just me, but my daughter, aka my color consultant, concurred.

The library has Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn on order, so I am going to free this yarn from Monkey in hopes it will work better with a pattern from this book.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The First FOs of 2009

During xmas week of 2008, for some strange reason, I panicked over the remote possibility that I would need an extra, last minute xmas gift, and it would not exist. So I cast on a quickie, a four-inch wide ribbed headband in Cascade 220.

And then it sat on the coffee table, waiting for the ends to be woven in, until the new year.

As did the following.

I knit this while on vacation this past summer, out of cotton, while playing with Mason-Dixon's log cabin patterns. I didn't know what it would become, but now I am declaring it a non-reversible dishcloth.

Tropical Treat is another latecomer, started god-knows-when, but finally finished.

Pattern: Lion Brand Tropical Treat Baby Blanket
Yarn: Lion Brand Babysoft (Pastel Blue and Bubblegum) and Microspun (Lime and Mango)
Needles: US 10
Modifications: None

I'm experiencing a spurt of finishitis, so maybe some more items will migrate from the UFO basket to the finishing line in 2009.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Looking backwards and forwards at the same time

While migrating the items from the FO list in the sidebar to an FO list as a posting (what a PITA! I need to figure out a different way to keep track of completed projects. As if Ravelry were not enough), I had the opportunity to reflect on knitting accomplishments in 2008 and knitting goals for 2009.

The first thing that became obvious is, in 2008 I bought more yarn than I knit. While my stash is not out of control, it still bothers me. Unknit yarn is like a big woolly to-do list that constantly nags the back of my mind.

Another characteristic of my 2008 yarn habit is that I did not do anything really new. I made a half-assed attempt to learn to spin. I knit a bag that has yet to be felted. My garden now includes some plants that could be used for dyeing. I knit a fair amount, but nothing that involved any new techniques. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am the type of person who likes to broaden their horizons a bit. I had big plans to do just that. But I didn't.

My most successful project of 2008 was Sitcom Chic, a sweater I wear every chance I get. The biggest project was probably the Pinwheel sweater, which came close to being classified as a failure because it looked awful on me. Fortunately, it found its true owner. We always knit for someone; we just don't always know who.

I learned that some yarns do not block well, e.g. anything with acrylic or nylon. I learned that sometimes a yarn must find its own pattern and needle size and type. I learned that February is the longest month of the year. And I learned that sometimes projects should be abandoned. Life is too short to spend it on unhappy knitting.

What is in store for 2009? I still want to learn to spin, so I am going to find myself a mentor. And I am going to include more yarn projects that stretch my skills. UFOs feel like another to-do list just waiting for some attention, so I will whittle that list down as well. And I think that is enough for one year.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New year, new stuff

Last Monday was gorgeous - cold but sunny. Too windy for a walk, but not too windy for a drive. So I headed up north, to Knitting Today. You see, they were having a pre-inventory clearance sale and I was invited. Heh.

Actually, I had been planning to visit KT for a while, ever since I dropped some stitches on the Minimalist Cardigan. (And no, I have not yet pieced that thing together yet.) I use small crochet hooks to pick up dropped stitches, but picking up dropped double seed/moss stitches requires switching the hook from front to back to front again. I wished for a crochet hook with hooks on both ends. A few days later, while perusing the KT website, I found just what I was looking for.

I don't quite get the idea for creating seed stitch after the fact, unless this is a machine knitting thing (and KT is the place to be if you are a machine knitter), but I definitely could see using this for picking up dropped stitches. They sell online as well as out of the store, so you don't need to live in northeast Indiana to get one of these babies. They are handmade by KT, so I doubt you will find them anywhere else.

While in the store, I examined a lot of yarn, but succumbed to purchasing only the following.

It is DK weight self-striping sock yarn, just what I was looking for pre-xmas. The only drawback is I would prefer superwash merino and this is an acrylic/wool blend. But my son tends to toss everything into the wash willy-nilly, so I knit his socks from yarn that can stand up to a laundromat.

The sale items that really sucked me in, though, were the books: 30% off! That is competitive with Amazon. And the selection was great. I scarfed (heh) up the following:

I have knit a few triangular shawls, but they don't seem to fit me very well. I'm thinking the gentle shaping of the ones in Myrna's book will remedy that.

My maternal grandparents were from Denmark, so I have always been interested in things Danish. I checked this book out from the library a while back, but now I have my own copy.

One reason I made no significant yarn purchase at KT the other day is I am color-challenged. Occasionally, I luck out, but usually I am clueless when it comes to mixing and matching colors. But I am also trainable, so I'm hoping this book will help. The local library has this book on its shelves, but the color "tools" were missing.