Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: A Knitting Year in Review

2006 has been quite a prolific year for this knitter, if I do say so myself. Looking back through the archives, I've impressed myself with the volume of projects I've finished and the knitting skills I've acquired. Here's a summary:

Projects Completed in 2006

And (ready for this one?) 21 pairs of socks. A small selection:

Techniques mastered (or at least tried):

  • Entrelac
  • Fair isle/stranded knitting
  • Knitting two socks at the same time on two circular needles
  • Felting

And I'm ending the year with only three WIPs: J's gray scarf, my mother's cabled tube scarf, and the sweater for my coworker. Tomorrow I hope to give you a peek into the stash and a preview of what projects I might be knitting in the year to come.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy New Year -- may 2007 bring you much happiness, much stash enhancement, and many hours of happy knitting!

The Last FO of 2006

Finished, a mere 7.5 hours before the ball drops:

Pattern: Broad Street Mittens (fall '02 Knitty) by Janis Cortese
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull (100% superwash wool) in color 5545/blue (one skein) and color 2203/yellow (approx. 1/2 skein)
Needles: US 2 and US 3 dpns, both set of five
Started/Completed: December 23/December 31
Recipient: My baby brother
Mods: as needed to correct mistakes in pattern (see below)

My brother specifically requested a pair of these convertible mittens (or glittens, as I like to call them), and as he never asks for anything hand knit, I didn't think it wise to second guess. I promptly picked up some yarn in his school's colors and got to work.

These were a relatively quick knit, but unfortunately I happened across a number of errors in the pattern. They're all minor and all seem to be related to counting the number of the stitches on the needles at any given time. If you're paying attention, you'll catch them easily, but just in case, here are corrections that I made to the pattern as I knit:
  • In the cuff section, following the 30 rows of k2p2 ribbing, you will need to increase a total of 12 sts to go from 48 to 60. If you follow the pattern as written for the increase row (which reads "Work *k3, INC 1.* Repeat to end."), you will wind up with four more stitches than you need (64 instead of 60). To increase the correct number of stitches, you should work *k4, INC. 1* around for one round.
  • In the decrease portion for the mitten shell, the section reading "On each needle" does not specify that for each decrease direction, the decrease pattern will be followed twice on each of the four needles. Thus eight (8) sts are decreased on each decrease round -- and so the stitch count given after the first line is incorrect. After the round worked as k5, k2tog, you will wind up with 48 stitches, not 52.
  • The final line of this decrease section instructs you to K2tog around, and the next instruction is to knit I-cord with the four stitches remaining. However, if you k2tog the previous round, you'll wind up with 8 stitches, so you'll need to knit this round twice to wind up with the required 4 sts for the I-cord.

And just in case these aren't enough to help clarify the pattern, J happened upon this publication that looks to be extremely useful:

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reunited -- and it feels so good!

My poor, lonely Pomatomus is lonely no more!

Pattern: Pomatomus (winter '05 Knitty) by Cookie
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), colorway Georgetown, two skeins, purchased in old town Alexandria during our trip to D.C. in April
Needles: US 2 dpns (first sock) and two circulars (second sock)
Mods: at toe, decreased to 20 sts (rather than 12) and grafted
Started/Completed: April 24/December 29

Although these were officially the first pair of Pomatomi I started, they became the third pair completed. After finishing the first sock, you may recall that I became a tad bit obsessed with reversing the pattern so that the lace pattern would be mirrored on each foot relative to the other. I completed two test socks, both reversed, and then finished a pair for my mother with one reversed and one normal. By the time I got around to making the mate for the very first sock, I was so anxious to be done that I just followed the pattern as written. I think I've now had enough of this pattern and will be putting it away for a while.

The curious thing that happened is that the two socks on this pair look dramatically different. The first sock was knit on dpns (it's the one on left above), while the second was knit on two circs. You can't really tell the difference on the foot, but off the foot it's a different story all together:

Here you see first/dpn sock on the left and second/circs sock on the right. See how much more open the second sock is, and how the individual stitches are easier to see from afar? I can't imagine my tension differed that drastically from one sock to the next, but who knows. Then there's the way the stitch pattern worked out, even though I followed the same charts both times.

Specifically, take a look at the right border of the pattern on both feet. The first sock (at left) had normal looking scallops, while the second sock (at right) had these weird things that seemed to be half the width but twice the length of the normal scallop. If I weren't so ready to be done with this pair of socks, I would have frogged and started the foot over; to be honest, it bugs me a little, but really, who's going to see that part of the sock when I wear these?
The most important part here is that I've officially matched up all the single socks with completed mates, thereby completing all sock WIPs for 2006 -- or should I say 200-sox. Huzzah!
A preview of coming attractions ...
Tomorrow: A review of 2006 in knitting
Monday: A preview of knitting to come in 2007, or "A Journey into the Stash"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Week's Wrap-up

Can't believe it's already been a week since my last post. Odd that when I'm on vacation, with plenty of time to blog, I seem to go nowhere near the computer. I'm sure no one wants to hear all the details of the past seven days, so here's your Cliff's Notes version, in list format:
  • Spent Christmas in suburban D.C. with longtime family friends. Wore my Pumpkin Pie Socks on Christmas day; friends were sufficiently impressed.
  • Spent hours in the car and sitting around working on a pair of "glittens" (in U of M colors, of course) for my baby brother and a DB Baby Cashmerino tube scarf with self-designed cable pattern for my mother. Pictures of both to come.
  • Along with my J, made out like a bandit celebrating the holidays. We received several items from our registry, including my long-coveted Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer (the red one). Some extremely smart people -- my aunt and uncle and J's parents, to be exact -- gave me yarn! Well, gift cards to Knit One, so I can buy yarn without guilt of breaking my yarn diet.

All that, plus throw in a lot of sleeping, some shopping, and some doctor's appointments, is the last week in a nutshell.

It seems I've also been lax in responding to the meme for which I was tagged by Rose. This is the probably (by now) well-know "Six Weird Things" meme.

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

So, if you really care to know, here are six weird things about me.

  1. I cannot leave the house without making the bed. On the few occasions where I've overslept and had to jump into the shower without making the bed, it's bugged me literally all day (and what do you think the first thing I did was when I got home from work?). It's a sickness, I know; my roommate my senior year of college even once said to someone else that I "make the bed with one foot out of it."
  2. Most nights, especially when I'm home alone, I sleep with a stuffed elephant that I made when I was a teenager (late middle school or early high school). It was made from recycled long underwear -- you know, that waffle-y material? I sleep with it tucked under my chin, liked another pillow. I used to be so attached to it (when I lived alone, I feel I should add) that I would wake up if it managed to fall out of bed in the middle of the night.
  3. I'm a high-anxiety individual. I have a lot of phobias, chief among them flying, heights, enclosed spaces, and snakes.
  4. I can cry at the drop of a hat, even at commercials. There are plenty of movies I have to watch with a box of tissues next to me.
  5. My hands get freakishly dry in the winter, and it's mostly unrelated to knitting. The latest bizarre dryness has manifested itself in peeling palms. Ick!
  6. I could eat pasta for dinner every night and probably not get bored. Quite frankly, I live on carbs; I could never go on one of those low-carb diets.

I tag Jen, Jenn, Amanda, Donna, Heather, and YOU (if you haven't done this yet).

Tonight, an experiment: the girls and I are getting together to knit at Barnes and Noble at the Waterworks on a non-Wednesday night to see if 40 guy shows up!

I promise I'll be posting at least once more before the new year; I'm planning a retrospective of my 2006 in knitting. In the meantime, wish me luck as I attempt to finished the mate to my first Pomatomus. I'm through the gussets, but I've been seduced by the allure of the mate to the first glitten, which must be done in time to go back to Ann Arbor with brother on 1/3.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Just Add Whipped Cream

Last night, in the cafe of the Barnes & Noble at the Waterworks mall, there occurred a gathering of sheep:

Just kidding! There were indeed quite a few sheepy tape measures there, but there were even more knitters:

Clockwise from left: my darling J, who allowed me to drag him out even though he'd only just flown in from Chicago yesterday afternoon (the one non-knitter in the bunch); blogless Betsy; Donna, working two socks at once with magic loop; blogless Lori, making her long-awaited return to the group; Amanda, working on the endless cream shrug; Jen, working on a sock, presumably the mate to this one; Jenn, knitting a knee high out of luscious purple Trekking; and, on the table in front, the start to my second Pomatomus. (Notice that Jenn has her camera at the ready, awaiting the arrival of everyone's favorite 40 drinker. And he did not disappoint. I think the two of us would rather forget the new view we had of him this month, to be honest.)

What you can't see is what was in my bag as my show and tell for the evening:
Pattern: Pumpkin Pie Socks (original design by yours truly)
Yarn: Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 Ply (100% merino), colors 736 (MC) and 737 (CC)
Needles: US 2 Knit Picks circulars
Gauge: 28 sts and 40 rows = 4 inches
Started/Completed: ~October 26/December 19

These were the first socks I truly designed myself, although I'm the first to admit they're nothing extraordinary. The yarn was bought on closeout at WEBS, although the colors were different in person than they appeared on the screen. The pumpkin-y shade was pretty accurate, but the contrast color turned out to be a light peachy shade rather than the cream I was expecting. Still, these two together reminded me of a slice of pumpkin pie topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

The design is relatively simple: pure stockinette with a twisted 1x1 rib at the top (for added elasticity to keep the sock up) and a slip-stitch heel. The last stitch of each round in the stockinette portions was purled to create a faux seam up the back of the leg, and the paired decreases (K2tog and SSK) were done on either side of this stitch. The resulting slant given to the stockinette around the calf results in a nice tailored fit along the contour of the calf muscle.

I started this sock with two skeins of each color, and used one of each while knitting each sock, but there is probably enough yardage left to make a another (obviously shorter) pair in the opposite color scheme.
I'd be happy to share the pattern with you, but I don't think you'd really want it, as it's written to match my specific leg measurements -- much like Grumperina, I have rather shapely calves. If there's any interest, I'll be happy to write up a tutorial on how to design your own socks like these.
Although these certainly took a little longer than the average pair of socks (though not much, what with all the stockinette), I know these will definitely not be my last pair of knee highs.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Be There or Be Square

If you've been paying attention to the calendar, you already know that tomorrow night -- that would be Wednesday, December 20 -- is the third Wednesday of the month, which means knitting night at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble! I will be there, along with the usual knitters and, undoubtedly, the usual characters. I've also heard rumors that some other knitters and knitbloggers may be there (we may even see the return of Lori, who's been long absent from this group), and The MWP may even join us. If we're really lucky and I'm especially persuasive, J might even make an appearance.

Last night I did finish the hat for flower girl's younger sister:

Pattern: Modified Umbilical Cord Hat from Stitch and Bitch
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino (100% wool) in Bright Red and Winter White
Needles: US 7 16" Addi Turbo circular and Susan Bates dpns
Started/Completed: December 17/December 18
Mods: a bit of fair isle thrown in for fun and added warmth, plus a rapid decrease at the top

Made up the fair isle bit as I went along, never carrying the yarn more than five stitches at a time. It's supposed to look like a red hat that has snow falling on it. The recipient is only about a year and a half old, so I doubt she'll pay much attention to the pattern anyway. Blocked last night, still a bit damp, but both hats will be ready for the girls when we see them for brunch on Saturday morning. I'll see if I can't get approval for a blog-worthy shot of the two of them.

On tonight's agenda: finish up the second of the Pumpkin Pie Socks (I'm literally about to start the toe of the second one) and block both, then start a mate for the poor, lonely original Pomatomus. I've been hearing a weird sound coming from the stash lately, and as it turned out it was my poor pathetic single Popo, who is longing for its special someone. (I only finished it back in May -- the sock's been living in the stash longer than I've been engaged!) My goal is to finish up the mate before the end of the year. I think it's doable.

See you tomorrow night!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time Flies When You Fair Isle

It's Sunday evening and J is already back in Chicago, having only arrived home on Friday afternoon. Fortunately he was home long enough to open his Hannukah presents, including the socks I haven't been able to show until now. Here he is, modeling them for you:

Pattern: Leg stitch pattern adapted from Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern, heel and foot from Gentleman's Plain Winter Sock, both from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Fortissima Socka (75% superwash wool, 25% polymide), color 1029, two skeins, purchased from Pittsburgh Knit & Bead before it closed
Needles: Two US 1 12" Addi Turbo circs

These were a fast knit, but done in fits and starts when J wasn't around. The heel of the Plain Winter Sock is J's favorite for fit, but I thought he might like something more interesting than the usual ribbing for the leg. He's quite please with these, and they fit him perfectly. Here's a detail shot:

His next pair of socks will be bright red, as requested, but they'll be the boring usual (i.e., Plain Winter Sock). I think I could probaby knit a pair of those in my sleep.
Meanwhile this weekend, while J did work on his computer most of Saturday afternoon and evening, I used up some stash making a hat for his little cousin, who will be the flower girl at our wedding. This gave me another good chance to practice my fair isle technique.

Pattern: Basic stockinette hat with spiral decrease at top; snowflake motif from Knitting for Dummies
Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool (100% wool), Bright Red and Winter White, less than a skein of each
Needles: US 7 Addi Turbo 16" circular and Susan Bates dpns
Started/Completed: December 16/December 17
All in all, a very satisfying knit. The fair isle portion is a bit wonky still, but I think it'll even out with blocking. The recipient is about 3 years old, so this may be a tiny bit big on her, but I thought it would be better for her to have room to grow into it.
The coolest part about the fair isle portion is that you can see the pattern in reverse on the other side:
(Sorry for the photo quality; for some reason the camera wouldn't take a non-blurry photo.) I've already started a smaller hat for the flower girl's little sister, who's about a year and a half old. This one will have a roll brim in red, and then I'll slowly work in the white a stitch at a time to transition to all white -- the idea is to look like snow falling -- probably ending with an umbilical cord knot at the top. Should be another fast and satisfying knit!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tying up loose ends

At work, this week has been dragging on, so I feel like I've barely been home. I've been planning this blog post for at least two days now, but it's just as well that I didn't get to the computer, as it gave me time to finish up some things. Like -- would you believe? -- another pair of these:

Pattern: Fetching (duh, you know)
Yarn: Valley Yarns (WEBS' yarn line) Amherst (100% merino), color Black, one skein with a fair amount left over
Needles: US 3 dpns
Started/Completed: December 11/December 13
Mods: Regular (rather than picot) BO at top, smaller needles

The recipient of these wristlets has tee-tiny hands, so I used smaller needles to wind up with a smaller finished product. For comparison's sake, here's one of the above wristlets with one made with the normal size needles:

This yarn was a very acceptable substitute for DB Cashmerino Aran. The resulting fabric was soft and squishy, and I know it will be nice and warm. Perhaps most impressive? From the stash. I wound up with two skeins of this (along with two skeins in a mustard-y gold shade) as part of the Stitch 'n Pitch giveaway goodie bag.
Now that those are done, I've returned to some unfinished projects, namely the long-awaited mate to my Pumpkin Pie sock, which made its return to my sock bag this morning. My goal is to finish up the mate before the end of the year. (There's another mate-less sock for which I'd like to finish a mate, but we're not speaking of it just yet.) Progress also continues on J's scarf. I joined the second skein the other night and was knitting along happily when unfortunately I happened to spy something that made me very angry -- a knot. Grrrr. Did I just have bad luck picking out knotty skeins? Or is this a perpetual problem with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran? I'd write to the company and complain, but I bet they have enough to deal with right now with the whole cashmere content controversy. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Go Google it and then come back.)
I've had some nice mail come to me the past two days. Last night I got home later than usual after a nice dinner with my future in-laws. Dinner was delightful, but that meant it was really dark on my drive home (I hate driving in the dark). Lucky for me, I had a Knit Picks box waiting for me! Inside was a little sumpin' sumpin' for my Sockret Pal and some additional Classic Circulars, along with this:
This would be my final yarn purchase before the beginning of the self-imposed yarn diet. This is all Telemark (100% Peruvian wool) in Alpine Frost (blue) and Snow Leopard (gray), destined to be my first official fair isle project. These will have to wait for a bit until I finish up some other projects and obligation knits, but I'm excited to get to them so perhaps they'll be a motivator.
This evening I got home and found another surprise -- a package from my Sockret Pal! She sent me a great book, which will come in handy for some comic relief when the wedding planning starts to get stressful. Thank you, Sockret Pal! This was so thoughtful of you!
Finally tonight I leave you with the promised shot of the inside of the hat I knit last Saturday. All you experienced fair islers out there can tell me how my floats look and what you think of my tension. Perhaps you can also give me some good hints on how to weave in the ends in fair isle. Is there a correct way to do it? I've looked through all my general reference book and none of them has any tips on this.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Despite the fact that J and I spent much of the weekend running around (I'll get to why in a minute), I was incredibly prolific in terms of my knitting. First of all, there were these -- yes, another pair!

Pattern: Fetching from summer '06 Knitty
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 (100% merino) in color 1362, one skein plus a few feet of a second (probably could've avoided this if I'd be less generous in my ends left to weave in), purchased when Pittsburgh Knit & Bead went out of business
Needles: US 6 dpns
Started/Finished: December 8/December 10
Mods: none, other than substituting yarn

These are for my best friend from college, who will be my maid of honor at my wedding; her birthday is next week. I started these after dinner on Friday night, but got very little done as we were both beat and turned in for the night at 10 p.m. Most of the knitting was done in the car while we went computer shopping and while sitting in J's office yesterday while he took care of some business. Having gone through all the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran from my Sockret Pal, I stash-busted with these and used up one of the four or five skeins of Aurora 8 I'd bought way back when. I think this color is more her anyway, and I love how sproingy the fabric is knitted up.

If you're counting, yes, this is my third pair, and certainly not the last. I've already started a fourth pair, this one for a friend of J's who uses an electric wheelchair (which she operates by hand). We had dinner with her Saturday night and she was remarking how her hands cramp up in the cold weather. She mentioned that she uses those little self-heating packs, but lacks a good way to keep them in place (mittens make it difficult for her to steer). So of course I offered to make her a pair of wristlets. I started them this morning, so expect to see them later in the week.

If you're wondering about the title of this post, you're not alone. I present for your consideration the back of the tag from the Aurora 8. Take a look at the description of the fiber content.

Yes, you read that correctly: apparently this yarn is not only 100% merino, it's also irrestringible. I have no idea what that means, but it sure sounds funny. Please feel free to enlighten me if you are so wise as to know what this term means!
We were home for a few hours Saturday afternoon, during which J worked and I watched Everything is Illuminated and knit. The movie was good, albeit a little odd and a little slow, and my knitting? Well, for this knitter, it was a definiting moment:
Baby's first Fair Isle! You know I've been dreaming of it, so finally I just decided to give it a try. Not bad, if I do say so myself! Here are the specs:
Pattern: Basic stockinette hat with one inch of 2x2 ribbing at brim
Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool (100% wool) in Bright Red and Winter White (leftover from the Elf Feets)
Needles: US 8 16" circular and dpns
Started/Completed: December 9
I made up the stranded design as I went along -- notice I'm not showing you the back, where there's one spot where the design didn't quite work. I did the colorwork using a two handed technique, with the main color in my right hand and the contrast color in my left (to practice for this, I knit several rows in red before the two-color portions continental). I'm actually very pleased with how this turned out. My tension was fairly even and my floats aren't too tight. I should have remembered to take a shot for you of the inside; next post, I guess.
Every year at work we do a toy drive of sorts for a center for underprivileged children: you pick a paper stocking for a child that provides the child's name, sex, age, and toy preferences. I had to pick my little girl because we share the same first name! She is 15 months old, so I got her some educational toys, but I always like to include an article of warm clothing as well, so this hat is it. It might be a little big on her, but that will give her room to grow. (I doubt she'll appreciate the knitting, but my knitting coworkers will and J was sufficiently impressed.)
So now, I've mentioned that we spent part of the weekend computer shopping, and I'm sure you're wondering how that worked out, aren't you?
This post brought to you by my brand-spanking-new laptop! (Sorry about the flash glare there.) This was my Hannukah (and birthday, I've decided) present from J. He'd had enough of me complaining about my old laptop and how slow it was and how it would freeze up. I didn't think of it as being that old, but it was more than four years old and had seen me through the last year of college and grad school; four years is a long time for computers! So now I'm blogging on my new toy, which is immensely better (although I keep bumping the scroll bar on the side of the mouse pad by accident, which is rather distracting; I'll have to get used to this keyboard). This is an HP Pavilion something-or-other. Aside from being much faster and lighter than the old model, this one has a built-in microphone and Web cam, so I can talk to my kid brother on Skype when he's away at school.
J returned to Chicago this morning, so tonight is a chick flick and work on his scarf (I did frog and restart with another skein, and the six inches or so I've since knit have earned his seal of approval). Happy Monday -- or what's left of it!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Home Sweet Home

I am home, J is home, and I am so happy about that. Last night was horrendous. A combination of snow, cold, and a football game combined to make SJ one very unhappy commuter. After spending an hour in the car and only moving about a mile from my office, I was one big stressed-out mess. Assuming the road were okay (which I wasn't convinced they would be), it probably would have taken me another hour or two to make it home -- ridiculous when you consider that I live a mere nine miles from work -- so I threw in the towel and spent the night at my parents. Not the ideal situation, since all my clothes and personal items were at home, but there are still enough old clothes of mine there that I was able to put together a somewhat decent outfit for work today and spent time working on these rather than sitting in the car:

Yep that's another Fetching pair of wristlets, along with the leftovers from the one skein of Cashmerino Aran (noticeably less that last time, but I think that's because I was a tad bit more generous with the ends to weave in this time around). The specs are the same as the last pair. These are for J's brother's girlfriend, and -- more importantly -- these officially mark the end of my holiday knitting! (No nasty comments, please. Remember that I'm on my own during the week so all I've been doing is knitting.) You want a reminder of everything I've knit, so you'll be sufficiently impressed? Why, of course!

I still have a few things to knit, but they aren't strictly for the holidays. The first is J's Cashmerino Aran scarf, of which I've already done about seven or eight inches, but I'm going to be frogging and starting with another skein of yarn. I've already encounted two knots in this skein, which is pissing me off, plus I've made a couple of mistakes (I was paying more attention to Heroes than to the scarf, apparently). J requested the scarf, and he's already seen the yarn, so it's not a big surprise. I've also just started another pair of wristlets (so fast, so addictive!) for my best friend, whose birthday is next week. Finally there's a pair of Broad Street Mittens for the brother -- another request. Yarn was purchased last weekend at Knit One (Dale Baby Ull) in semi-Michigan colors, but I can't really start until he comes home for winter break and I can measure his hands. He's 6'1", so I don't want to estimate, especially since this is officially the first time he's actually asked me to knit him something. (He says he needs these because he doesn't get cell reception inside his dorm, so he needs to go outside to make a call, but he can't dial his phone wearing regular gloves.)

Other news ... Well, the new Knitty is out/up, but you probably knew that already. I'm going to do these to teach myself Fair Isle with the Telemark I ordered from Knit Picks on Wednesday. And of course you know I want to do these as well, but, as I told Cookie, I really feel like I should make a mate to my poor lone Pomatomus and do a pair of Baudelaires first, as they're in my mental "socks to knit" queue. (Cookie has informed me, however, that she operates under the premise of knit what you want, when you want, so I guess I can do the same.)

While on the Knitty site, I happened to spot a banner ad for the 2007 Rockin' Sock Club. It took me all of about 30 seconds to register. I've been wanting to try Socks That Rock for months now, but never got around to buying any, so I figured this was as good a way as any to get my hands on some. It's a bit pricey, but probably no more than what I'd spend on yarn in that time, so I'm going to strictly enforce the yarn diet and only knit from the stash. Totally realistic, in my view. I've got plenty of sock yarn and enough yarn for about four sweaters. (An absolutely reasonable exception to the yarn diet, needless to say, is any fibery holiday gifts I might receive!)

I'm off to -- well, you know. Looking for something interesting to read until my next post? I suggest you see who was in my area yesterday (I'll bet they salted the roads for them!).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

20 days and counting

Thank you all for your very kind comments on Lady Eleanor. I'm so happy with how she turned out, especially with the blocking -- she's now long enough to really wrap oneself up. J took a look from Chicago and has assured me that his mother will just love it.

So, as to the title. Even though it's not a holiday I technically celebrate, I'm still quite aware of the fact that Christmas is coming up quite soon. With that in mind, I've just finished up the last of my original holiday knits, and I'd like to share that pattern with you! Without any further ado, I present to you ...

Elf Feets!
These were inspired by Wendy's Pixie-feet slippers. These are a quick knit and make a great gift if you need to do some last-minute Christmas knitting. I whipped up the second one of these on Sunday afternoon during the Steelers game.
Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool (100% wool) in Bright Red (MC) and Winter White (CC), one skein each
Needles: US 6 dpns, set of four
Crochet hook
Tapestry or darning needle
Gauge*: 23 stitches and 28 rows = 4 inches
[*Note: gauge is not that important in this pattern, as you are not making a garment to fit someone. The most important thing is that your yarn is all or nearly all wool and will felt. If using a finer yarn, use smaller needles.]
Using CC, CO 45 sts and distribute evenly over three needles (15 sts on each needle). Join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist sts.
Knit 10 rounds with CC.
Switch to MC and K 2 rounds.
Set up for heel:
K 11 sts from Needle 1, turn (transfer 4 remaining sts on Needle 1 to Needle 2).
Sl 1, P 10 sts from Needle 1 and 11 sts from Needle 3, turn. These 22 sts will be worked back and forth for the heel flap. Distribute remaining sts over other two needles.
Heel Flap:
Row 1: Sl 1, K 21, turn
Row 2: Sl 1, P 21, turn
Repeat rows 1 and 2 a total of 10 times (20 rows)
Turn Heel:
Row 1: Sl 1, K11, SSK, K1, turn
Row 2: Sl 1, P3, P2tog, P1, turn
Row 3: Sl 1, K to one stitch before gap, SSK, K1, turn
Row 4: Sl 1, P to one stitch before gap, P2tog, P1, turn
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all stitches have been worked (note: on last two rows, you will Sl 1, K or P to one stitch before gap, SSK or P2tog -- this will be the last stitch).
K across 12 heel sts.
Pick up and knit 11 sts along side of heel flap and one st between flap and instep sts. (Needle 1)
With Needle 2, K 23 instep sts.
With Needle 3, pick up and K one st between instep sts and flap and 12 sts from side of heel flap, then K 6 sts from Needle 1.
(You will now have 18 sts on Needle 1, 23 instep sts on Needle 2, and 19 sts on Needle 3.)
Row 1: On Needle 1, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1. K 23 instep sts on Needle 2. On Needle 3, K 1, SSK, K to end.
Row 2: K all sts.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until 44 sts remain (10 sts on Needle 1, 23 instep sts on Needle 2, 11 sts on Needle 3).
Knit even until foot measures 4 inches.
Row 1: On Needle 1, K all sts. On Needle 2, K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K 1. On Needle 3, K all sts.
Row 2: K all sts.
Row 3: On Needle 1, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K 1. On Needle 2, K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K 1. On Needle 3, K 1, SSK, K to end.
Row 4: K all sts.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 10 sts remain (2 sts on Needle 1, 5 sts on Needle 2, 3 sts on Needle 3).
Combine the sts on Needles 1 and 3 onto one needle. You will now have two needles with 5 sts on each. Turn work so that yarn is at the right. K first st on front needle together with first st on back needle and continue across (as for a three-needle bind off). You will now have 5 sts on one needle.
Work Icord for 2.5 inches.
Cut yarn, leaving a 10"-12" tail. Pull through the loops on needle. Thread yarn through the center of Icord tube, pulling it out inside the toe. Weave in this and other ends.
When you've made two of these slippers/socks, place them in a cotton pillowcase and close securely. Felt in a washing machine until fabric has reached its desired state. Shape toes by curling then back and allow slippers to dry. If desired, sew a bell or pom-pom to the end of each toe.
Using CC and leaving an 8" tail, crochet a 20" cord, pulling each st tight. Cut thread, leaving an 8" tail. Using tapestry or darning needle, thread one end of the cord through the back of each slipper at the point where you joined the MC. Secure end and cut. Tie a knot in the cord and hang it on the tree!
Here are the obligatory before and after felting shots (pen provided for scale):


Monday, December 04, 2006

In All Her Glory

Knitters and gentleman, tonight I have a very special introduction to make to you. Formally making her debut this evening, I present to you ...

Lady E!
Pattern: Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole by Kathleen Power Johnson in Scarf Style (Interweave Press)
Yarn: Paton's Soy Wool Stripes (70% wool, 30% soy), colorway Natural Geranium, eight skeins (approximately 110 yards/skein)
Needles: US 9 32" circs
Dimensions: 21" x 76"
Recipient: my future MIL

I am so, so pleased with how this turned out. After adding a few extra tiers (maybe four?), I blocked the hell out of this baby yesterday, as you can tell from the final dimensions. I put on the final row of single crochet this evening, and it's done!

Obviously, if you have this book and know the pattern, I did not use the yarn called for; trek figured out that to do so would cost a whopping $374. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of money laying around and I think J would kill me if I spent that much on yarn for one project (we are saving up for a house, after all) -- not to mention that this was one of many gifts I'm knitting for the holidays. I was originally going to use Noro Kureyon, but I coulding bring myself to spend even the roughly $80 or $85 it would cost me for a bag on eBay. Then, when I stopped in a Michael's when we were out one day, I came across this yarn and thought it would be perfect. When I finally made my purchase, I got lucky and stumbled across a sale! For 12 skeins of yarn and a pair of needles, I only spent about $64. And since I have four skeins left from the original purchase, I'll get another project out of it, too.

The yarn is quite lovely. It's very soft and the color changes are subtle. I does get rather fuzzy as you work with it, but I found that blocking smoothed the fabric out well. One (potential) downside to this yarn is that is does not stand up well to frogging. Maybe this won't bother you if you're the kind of knitter who never makes mistakes, but I'm not that kind of knitter. There were a few instances where I wasn't paying attention and made a mistake like decreasing on the wrong end of the row, and then I found myself having to rip back the whole rectangle or triangle -- which usually meant literally ripping the yarn away from itself where it had kind of fused to itself. On the other hand, this property made for very easy connecting of new skeins of yarn -- felted joins all around.

I'm still undecided about what to do with the leftover yarn. I would like to see how this yarn felts up, so I am thinking perhaps of some felted pillows or another, bigger French Market Bag to hold WIPs. I won't get to either just yet, as there are still just a few more holiday projects to do!

Tonight, I leave you with a pictorial timeline of Lady E's life to date. You've seen some of these shots before, but now they are all lined up with a final shot at the end. Enjoy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Apparently all it takes is a little bit of kvetching on my part and some of you decide to come out of the woodwork. Hello, new readers! (or perhaps you're old lurkers?) I know there are more of you out there, however.

How do I know, with such certainty? Because I've been playing with my new toy, Google Analytics. J directed me to it when I commented to him that I was curious how people were getting to my blog (I didn't mention the bit about no one commenting and wondering if anyone was actually visiting the site, but that was part of it). I keep reading on blogs that people have found that visitors have come to their site as part of a random Google search, usually some really bizarre phrase. Well, my new toy doesn't tell me that, but it does give me a report of how many people are visiting the site and breaks down that number into how many are new and how many are returning visitors, gives details on how vistors are getting to the site (for instance, from Google, the Sockret Pal blog, or Jen's blog), etc. My favorite is the info it gathers on where visitors are geographically. One report shows a map of the world with pinpoints for where visitors are, and another lists number of visitors by country. As I would expect, most of my readers/visitors/webstalkers are from the United States, but there are a handful from Canada as well. Most surprising? The visitors from Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Kuwait. (Do people knit in Kuwait? I thought it was pretty hot there.) Fascinating! I hope that if you're one of these international visitors you'll leave a comment and share some international knitting content!

And to get back to my own knitting content, great progress was made on Lady E last night. To refresh you memory, here are the progress shots:

After two skeins ...

and after four skeins ...

And now here we are back to present day, most of the way through the seventh skein. You see on the right what will be the eight and final skein. You ever have that experience where you're knitting and knitting on something and you don't seem to be getting anywhere, and then all of the sudden the thing is huge? That seems to be what happened here. I kept measuring it and it never seemed to get any longer than about 26 inches -- and then suddenly last night it was something like 54". I figure that once I finish this skein and use up the last one, it should measure in the mid-60s, and a good blocking might get it to close to the 70-72 inches I'd like it to be. That will leave me with four untouched skeins and I'll have to come up with something interesting to do with them. A large French Market Bag to hold WIPs? A felted pillow for the couch? Slippers? Share your ideas -- I'm sure you've got some.

J is finally home now after being stuck in Chicago this afternoon. I've finished the ribbing on his second sock, so it's all smooth sailing from here (aside from the fact, of course, that I won't be able to work on them this weekend while he's around). Maybe I'll even get in a second pair of socks for him in the next two weeks!

Lady E calls ...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where have all the readers gone?

Okay, so I either did something horribly offensive and scared everyone away or you lurkers out there are la-zy. No comments whatsoever? No one* has any suggestions about Lady Eleanor or a cable pattern? No one has anything at all to say? Perhaps you would like some more interesting things to read, or perhaps I've scared you all with how much holiday knitting I've been doing? You get what you ask for, so if my musings are not to your satisfaction, please share with me what you'd rather I write about!

In any case, for lack of anything else, I'll have to fill in this post with the usual business.

I haven't touched Lady Eleanor since Tuesday, when I worked on her furiously through the Stars Hollow Knitathon (go take a look at Crazy Aunt Purl's last two posts for screen shots). Last night I was too busy finishing up a sock for J, as I knew I was near the toe and wanted to start up the second one to take for my lunch hour knitting today. Sorry, can't show you the picture, J might peek. It's a charcoal gray color, and I've combined two Knitting Vintage Socks patterns -- manly patterns, that is. Tonight it's back to Lady E, who I'm hoping will see her completion by the end of the weekend.

On a more interesting note, I do have this unusual local news story to share with you, right out of the WTF?!?! files. Not only is this unusual for the area, but the house where this critter is found is one that' s on my way to work every day -- good thing I keep my car doors locked!

*To her credit, Jenn tried to leave a comment but encountered technical difficulties (what would Blogger be without them, right?), so she sent me an e-mail with a great suggestion. I nearly ordered the book last night, Jenn, but then thought I'd bettter take a look at it first before spending the $20 or however much it is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

First Day of Buck

Happy Monday, or, as one of the local news channels had on the screen this weekend, First Day of Buck. (A brief pause for translation for those of you who don't live in, as they say, Western Pee-Ay: today is the first day of firearm buck season. Which means many offices and schools are closed today so that folks can go out and shoot Bambi and his friends.) I'm guessing someone was a little hasty in typing in that headline and forgot a key word.

In any case, J left again for Chicago this morning and I had to go back to work. It was simultaneously a long day and a short day, what with the huge pile of work on my desk and the farewell party for one of my coworkers who's leaving the office for another job (the latter cut into my lunchtime knitting, which did not make me a happy camper). At least my feet were comfy, as I was wearing Siegfried and Roy with my mary janes. I got lots of compliments, but took the shoes off as soon as I got home:

So ... spent lots of time this weekend working on Lady Eleanor. As of right now, here she is, halfway through the sixth skein of yarn:

At this point, I have seven more tiers to add before the final triangles to complete the pattern as written. However, I think I've mentioned that I have plenty of yarn (six more skeins beyond what you see here), and I think I'd like this to be a little longer. I'm not quite sure about just how much longer to make it, as I can already tell that a good blocking will add significant length. What do you think? I don't necessarily feel like I need to use all the yarn -- I'd like to use any leftover to have some fun with felting (maybe some pillows or slippers). Is there anyone out there who's blocked this yarn and can give me a sense of how much it will grow? As a reminder, I'm using Paton's Soy Wool Stripes (SWS).

Even if you can offer no advice on Lady Eleanor, you don't get off the hook that easily. I also need advice on my mom's scarf! I probably won't be starting it until right around Christmas (it may wind up being my car project) and it won't be a holiday present, but I'd like to start gathering some ideas. It will be similar to this scarf in that it'll be a long, primarily stockinette tube, but the cabling will appear at each end rather than running the length of it. I'm looking for a complicated-ish cable pattern, not too big (it'll have to fit on half the stitches of the scarf or less, as the tube flattens on itself). It will also have to be vertically symmetrical -- and by that I mean the same from top to bottom as bottom to top -- as I'll be knitting one end from the edge of the scarf toward the center and the other end from the center to the edge. Anyone have some ideas? Or do you know of any good resources for cable charts or diagrams? Much appreciated!

I'm off to scavenge for dinner and work on a sock. Such is my life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I have a confession to make. I cheated on my holiday knitting projects on Thanksgiving. I didn't even knit on my second Pumpkin Pie Sock, as I'd intended. I was tempted by the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in the stash, so I made these instead:

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath (summer '06 Knitty)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere*), color 300006, one skein (with approximately 10 feet left over -- I measured!), gifted from my Sockret Pal
Needles: US 6 dpns
Mods: I did a straight BO rather than the picot BO called for in the pattern.
Started/Completed: November 23/November 24

I needed a quick project to provide some instant gratification, and these fit the bill. I justified the knitting time as a trial run, as I wanted to see if this would be a good project for a gift for the FBIL's girlfriend (who happened to see them and noted that she liked them when she came over for dessert). I wore these around yesterday and, aside from one snide comment by a guy friend (something to the effect of "Madonna called; she wants her gloves back"), they were a big hit.

I showed these off at Yarns by Design, where I stopped yesterday afternoon with my mom and aunt to take advantage of the "pick a pumpkin sale" (you picked up a laminated picture of a pumpkin when you walked in with a code on the back corresponding to a discount amount). I used my 35% off(!) to score more DB Cashmerino Aran in a light gray shade to make J a scarf at his request, plus some bright red sock yarn, as he's decided that now he does want red socks. My mother, who had been admiring my tube scarf all day, decided she wanted one of her own and purchased some DB Baby Cashmerino in a dusty pink shade for this purpose. Her scarf will be much simpler -- basic stockinette with a fancy cable, yet to be determined, at each end. (If anyone knows of a pretty cabled design that might be good, let me know!)

These were done last Tuesday, but were blocking when I blogged and therefore had to wait for their big debut:

Pattern: Gentleman's Plain Winter Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon) in colorway Dusk, two skeins
Needles: US 1 Addi Turbo circs
Mods: Doubled thickness of yarn for the cast on to make it stretchier
Recipient: My dad

As for the rest of the list, Lady Eleanor is still there and shows no sign of going away any time soon. I scrapped the big stocking for the family friends and decided to go back to my regular tradition. For many years, I've taken them an ornament. For the first several years, it was something cross-stitched, but for the past two it was something knitted (you might remember last year's mini sweater). So I thought I'd make a pair of felted elf shoes -- basically small socks with pointy toes. The first one is done, the second is forthcoming, and a pattern will be published here for anyone interested.

I think it's about time I updated my Flickr albums, don't you? I'll just take care of that now.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Movin' Right Along

Anyone else remember that song from one of the Muppet movies? Ahh, takes me back to my youth.

But this is a knitting blog, not a Muppet blog, so back to the knitting content. I am making excellence progress on the holiday knitting. This is mostly due, I think, to the fact that J has been out of town and I've been knitting pretty much every minute of the day when I'm home, from the 20 minutes in the morning when I drink my coffee to when I'm in bed watching TV right before bed. This evening I finished up my father's socks right before dinner, and they're blocking as we speak (as I type?).

Lest we forget her ladyship, Lady Eleanor, she has seen progress as well the past few days. As a reminder, here she was after two skeins of yarn:

And here she is as of last night, with just a little bit of the fourth skein used up (you can see the few yards that are left on the seat of the couch):

At this point I am more than halfway done with the repeats as called for by the pattern, but the piece only measures about 27 inches in length. I know that a good blocking will increase the length a bit, but as I have plenty of yarn (I'm only through a third of what I bought) I may do some extra tiers. My FMIL is petite and thin, but I'd like this to be long enough for her to wrap herself up in it.

So, let's review the holiday knitting list, shall we?

  • Socks for FFIL - DONE
  • Clapotis for my mother - DONE
  • Socks for my father - DONE, BLOCKING
  • Lady Eleanor Stole for FMIL - in progress
  • Felted slippers for FBIL - DONE
  • Socks for J - first one started this evening
  • Felted stocking for family friends - in progress (but plenty of time)

J comes home tomorrow! At some point in the next 36 hours or so, I will cast on for the second Pumpkin Pie sock (my planned Thanksgiving Day knitting project).

I'm off to watch Gilmore Girls. Please, oh please, do not let it be as bad as it was last week. (Just who is this imposter pretending to be Lorelai?)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

On Reliability

When life get really crazy, and there are days when you don't see if the sun ever comes out, it's nice to know that there are still things you can count on. Like last night, the regular monthly knit night at Barnes & Noble. Jen and I were joined by Amanda, a newcomer to our group, who I don't think quite believed us about 40 guy. We told her about his normal routine, and how we'd seen him every knit night for the past six-ish months, but she still looked dubious.

And then, promply at 8:20 p.m. EST, guess who made an appearance:

Although Jenn was not there to be inappropriate, Jen and I whipped out our cameras the minute he disappeared to find his graphic novel for the evening and gathered more photographic evidence. (She took a rather bad picture of me with the 40 in the background, which I'm really hoping doesn't show up on her blog. If it does, at least you've been warned.)

Another reliable thing that's always comforting? The fact that 100% wool will always felt. Here are the slippers before felting (I remembered the ruler this time!) ...

And after ...
Pattern: Loosely based on Fuzzyfeet (winter '02 Knitty)
Yarn: Cascade 220, color 9451, used one skein for each slipper and ended up with at least 1/3 of each left
Needles: US 8 dpns
Mods: Many. I really only followed two parts of the pattern: 1) I knit the cuff to be three inches long, as called for, and 2) I knit the foot and toe to be the recommended 1.3 times the length of the recipient's foot.

Thank goodness for what felting does. When I was in the middle of kitchenering the second toe, a knot formed in the tail of the yarn without me noticing, resulting in my tugging on the yarn a little, resulting in my pulling all but about three stitches off the needles. I couldn't really figure out where I was or which stitches went with which needle, so I just made sure I went through every stitch at least once and the toe was closed up sufficiently. Had the sock not been intended to be felted, I would have frogged and redone the toe, but fortunately felting hides many flaws. Honestly, now you can't tell the difference.

So that's another item to cross off the list. I also finished the first of my dad's socks last night, and put another two tiers on Lady Eleanor. And the weekend is coming!

While reliability and predictability are nice and keep me sane, you know what really makes me happy? SURPRISES! Take a look at what was waiting for me when I got home tonight (and I didn't even see it at first because it was so dark and rainy and miserable):

My Sockret Pal strikes again! I don't know who she is, but I want her to be my new best friend. This gal clearly has been paying attention to me and selected swag that was so me. See that gorgeous yarn on the right? The color is brighter and more luminous in person, a gorgeous glowing teal that my pal dyed just for me. She calls this colorway Peacock Feather, because it made her think of the deep shimmery teal shades in peacocks' plumes. In her note (which was on top of all the goodies, so I read it before peeking under the tissue paper), she casually mentioned that she thought the yarn would be good for making myself a Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, which I'd said in my questionnaire way back in September was a pattern I was dying to knit. I swear, I wasn't fishing -- but what you do you think was underneath the yarn?! All I can say is, it's a good thing J isn't home, because when I saw the book I just screamed with glee; had he been home, he would've thought I'd cut off my finger or something. There was also a great little zippered case inside -- that my pal SEWED HERSELF (she's clearly craftier than I) -- that was filled with even more goodies: locking stitch markers, a blue(!) Chibi (how did you know that my tapestry needles just disappeared, Sockret Pal?), a chic girly address book, and the most adorable gray sheep tape measure!

Sockret Pal, thank you so, SO much! You clearly put a lot of thought and time into putting this package together and I love everything in it! I'm just so impressed by your sewing skills -- I can't believe you even found matching teal thread! It will make a great bag for me to store all my notions, which I've desperately needed as I keep loosing things (just ask the fiance about the attack of hysterics I had when I couldn't find my thread scissors). As soon as I finish up the holiday knitting, the first thing I am going to cast on for is a Peacock Shetland Triangle!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crossing Things Off My List

The holidays are just a little more than a month away, and I am making good progress in crossing things off my to-knit gift list. Case in point:

Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert, fall 2004 Knitty
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly (55% nylon, 45% acrylic*), color 0356, three skeins plus about 10 yds. of a fourth
Needles: US 5 Addi Turbo circs
Mods: None, as far as the pattern was concerned, unless you count my complete disregard for gauge and needle size.
Recipient: My mama (*who claims she is allergic to wool, hence the high acrylic content. I just went for the softest yarn I could find -- in this case, a baby yarn.)

Next up, progress on the to-be-felted gigantic socks that will be slippers for the future brother-in-law. One sock is finished, and in case you think I'm exaggerating about the size, here you see one of my feet (in my recently completed Pumpkin Pie Sock) for reference.

I should've had the foresight to put a ruler in this shot as well. To get a sense of scale, I'll tell you that my feet are 9.75" long from heel to end of toes. That big green sock? A whopping 14.3" long. After weaving in the ends on this one, I immediately cast on for the second. I've got about two more inches of foot to knit before I hit the toe, so I estimate these will be ready to felt by tomorrow at the latest.

Other items on the list are also coming along. I've just started the heel of the first of my dad's socks, and I bought yarn over the weekend for the big stocking for the family friends. I've not cast on just yet for the second Pumpkin Pie Sock, but that will happen in the next week as it's the only project I can knit on Thanksgiving (because the recepients of the rest will be there).

Before I go back to the Giant Green Feet, here's your friendly monthly reminder that this Wednesday (11/15) is the monthly knitting night at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble. It appears that at least one-third of the usual group will be unable to attend due to an unfortunate intersection of vehicle troubles and Morse code (you'll have to ask her to explain), but the usual characters are likely to be there along with the rest of us friendly knitters. Won't you please come and join us? Pretty please?