Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No Time to Blog!

Happy Halloween! Look what's coming to our house:

No time to blog, but I just had to say farewell to Socktoberfest. I completed my first heel flap on a toe up sock:

Technique to be found in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks.

And look what came in the mail:

The perfect farewell gift from Socktober. Those ladies are armed with skeins of yarn and knitting needles are loaded along the length. Inside it says "Swatches? We don't need no stinkin' swatches." And on the back it says "All the swatch-abiding knitters were skeindalized." Go check out Unravelled for more funnies.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Value of Knitting

I was waiting for my boys to get their hair cut, knitting on a green sock, when I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. She admired my knitting and I told her of the comfort to be had in a pair of hand knit socks. Then I showed her my mittens:

I knit these Latvian mittens last year and wore them through the whole winter. They look pretty tired now, but still, I love these mittens and I'm very proud of them. The nice lady told me I should should sell my things at a craft show. Hmph. I've heard that before.

"How much would you pay for these?" I asked her, pointing to my mittens.

"Ten dollars." she replied.

"I wouldn't sell them to you at that price," I stated.

"How much would you sell them for?" she asked.

"Seventy dollars."

"Well, then, you have a very valuable pair of mittens." said the nice lady, who was most certainly putting a polite face on it.

"Yes, I do!" I replied, and I belive they would be cheap at that price.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mail Call!

A nice surprise made it's way to my doorstep all the way from Norway. It's my Hot Socks Swap!

I would like to try the Banana Blossom Lace socks by Maia with this yarn. It's hard to see, but there are spots of bright color scattered through this yarn like confetti. Very fun! My pal even sent a bonus ball of yarn and a very rich and delicious chocolate. Thank you very much.

I also received this in the mail:

It is Socks that Rock, lightweight, color Lagoon.

After I finished knitting my Titania Butterfly socks, I was discussing them with my husband and got him to try them on. He was very impressed with the yarn's softness and comfort. I have yet to knit him socks out of yarn of this quality, preferring to save it for myself. Well, it's time to fix this. We went online and he picked this color himself. Given the roll call I showed you yesterday, he's going to have to wait a bit.

I really like the way the yarn echoes the colors in the grey rock and the green moss. It's too bad I have to use a flash, but I'm afraid it will likely be this way for a little while. Were in the dark days here in Canada and I don't get home before the daylight is gone. I just can't limit my picture taking to the weekends. If anyone has helpful suggestions for lighting my yarn in the dark of winter, I'd be grateful.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Roll Call!

It's time to round up the knitting projects and have an accounting. I've got quite a roll call to display for you tonight. This is a new thing for me, to have so many projects on the needles. But lately, when I get the itch to knit something other than what I am currently working on, I say, "Hey! It's my hobby! I'll knit what I want." Either I am an empowered woman, or the knit blogging community has corrupted me. So long as I still finish things now and again, I'm good with it.

Line up, all you projects!

Look at that line! Straighten up. Now let's get a good look at you. Begin with the eldest, dad's vest.

I am at the arm hole shaping and now this is tricky. It's because the pattern was written to be knit flat, and I'm doing it in the round which means I must juggle all the instructions. I've graphed it, read it over several times, but I still feel like I'd rather work on this when I am well rested and have plenty of time. In other words, on the weekend.

Next up, Vacation Shawl.

This project came out of retirement to soothe me when I was very tired and had nothing to knit. What do you mean, you don't believe I had nothing to knit?! Well then, I had nothing that I could safely knit. I was very busy at work last week and needed something that wouldn't challenge me.

I've been pondering how I should finish this shawl and an idea came to me today that could be very dramatic, very unusual and possibly could tank horribly. Sounds like just my sort of thing, doesn't it? The idea would be to finish each arm of the spiral as a separate point. I even have an idea on how to do it. I wonder how it would hang, and what it would look like....

Next is my secret love affair, a sexy little project that I sneak away to when I want to have a bit of naughty fun.

Can you guess who it is?

Here's a gift scarf I started this weekend.

Thanks to my Funky Scarf pal for the yarn. I've got a conditional cast on so I can graft it together in a mobius. It's soft, pretty and mindless. Boring too. I save it for movies and knitting with my friends.

Ewh. Look at these monsters.

I also started these during the past weekend for Christmas presents. Knitting the Fiber Trends Felted Clog pattern the first time was a revelation. My friends, this is the forth time and the mystery is starting to unravel. I don't like knitting with big needles much. I do like the end product so I will soldier on. I may even do it again before Christmas comes. I believe it takes me about 8 hours to do a pair. Not all at once silly!

Oh! And here's the baby! A figure-8 start for a toe up sock.
Can you believe that Soctoberfest is almost done already? And I hardly knit socks at all. I'm a bad Alonger. I've started going into withdrawal from having no socks on the needles so I started up these guys tonight. That fresh green is just the thing while the snow and hail and freezing rain are coming down.

So, it's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your projects are?

By the Way - I'm glad you liked the scarf pattern. Thank you very much. Credit must be given to Darian who, when I exclaimed over my mistake, said "No! Keep it, it's a feature." I screwed up, but she discovered the benefit of my screw up. So thanks! Darian.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Free Scarf Patterns

Tired of the same old garter-stitch scarf? Give this simple variation a try!

Bias Scarf
With desired needles and yarn, cast on your required stitches. ( I know that's vague, but come on, only you know what yarn you're using, and only you know how wide this scarf should be. So either guess, or swatch, but figure it out for yourself!) The scarf in the pictures was knit with Paton's Kiss on 6mm needles, and I cast on 30 sts.

Knit 1 row.

Row 1: Slip the first stitch purlways. K2tog. Knit to last stitch, M1, K1.
Row 2: Slip the first stitch purlways. Knit to end.

Repeat these two rows until the scarf is the right length or you are almost out of yarn. Cast off.

To put a kink in your scarf that will help it stay on your neck, here's my variation:

Angled Bias Scarf

Begin as for the Bias scarf, but only knit half the total desired length of your scarf. Me, I knit one balls worth of yarn. Then:

Row 1: Slip the first stitch purlways. Knit to end.
Row 2: Slip the first stitch purlways. K2tog. Knit to last stitch, M1, K1.

And that's it! By changing the rows you perform the increases and decreases on, you change the direction of the bias giving you an angle like this:

I just had a crazy, creative idea! What if you changed direction every 10 or 20 rows? Zig-zag! Could be a very funky scarf....

Another idea. Do the shaping every fourth row. This should decrease the slope by half. If I make any more garter-scarfs for Christmas, I may try one of these ideas out.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I've got Yarn!!!

My husband thinks I'm nuts. I was waltzing through the kitchen singing, "I've got Yaarrnn! I've got Yaarrnn!"

This morning I brought more Fiber Fish Mitten patterns into the LYS and they were having a SALE. While I was there I met my two knitting buddies, Lynn and Kat. I also met someone from the Forest City Knit Club and a real live reader of my blog. It was an amazing moment because she recognized me by my cable-bordered sweater. So Hi there! friendly reader, I'm sorry I didn't get your name. My only excuse is the yarn high I was on. Look what I got in trade for my patterns:

The green and white is called Quebecois and I can't seem to find it anywhere on the net. I've been told that it knits up beautifully though. There is also a lonely skein of red in the back there. I've got plans for some Christmas gifts from it. The Dalegarn Falk is also intended for Christmas presents. I have some more in the stash in cream and blue.

All I have to show for a weeks worth of knitting is four wash cloths:

The Groovy Girl is just for fun. I got her from a secret Santa at work one Christmas.

I've started working on my dad's vest again. I'm at 14 inches now. I'm almost ready to start the arm holes and neck shaping. I've graphed the shaping so that I can keep track of it all. Now that I think of it, I'd better check my measurements again because I may have to start the neck shaping before the armhole. Wha! Gotta go! Where's my pattern?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Following your Energy

JoLene Treace has written another thought provoking blog post. I start to write a comment, and it got side-tracked (there's that phrase again!). Soon I realized, "This is a good topic for my blog!" So thanks JoLene!

JoLene was writing about how a knitter can learn more about working with color. For myself, I am fascinated by color. I've been doing a lot of thinking about shades, tones, brights and darks. With these thoughts in mind I examine the yarns I have and the colors I see in nature to try to learn what I do and don't like about various colors.

I understand the term "rich color" better now because of an explanation Martha Stewart made about paint colors. Martha said it is better to use expensive paint because it contains more pigment and therefore will show different tones under different lighting conditions. I found this to be true when we painted our bedroom. The shade of lavender we chose can look blue, purple, or true lavender and many other shades besides. All in all, it is a pleasure to have this rich color on our walls.

While I do want to experiment with with color, I don't feel the urge to take action yet. There is a voice in my head that sometimes chides me for not proceeding, and while I do hear it, I don't listen at all. I strongly believe I need to go where my interest is.

I did try once with my own fairisle design and it was less than successful. I believe that my mind is busy processing things I am learning about color and that one day I will try it again. But in the mean time, I'm enjoying much simpler color play such as the border on my Fleece Artist Jacket or the use of a handpainted yarn in two-toned mittens.

Right now, a lot of my energy is tied up in work. I have a new position that is exciting and draining so I think my creative knitting has suffered a bit. Once I settle in, I'm sure it will come back, but in the mean time, I am following my interests.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Whew! I'm catching my breath tonight after a busy week. Wait. It's only Wednesday. Feels like I've done enough for a full week already. I'll have to make this a short post.

I ripped the red socks because I wasn't enjoying the pattern. Too much effort for too little return. They just couldn't compare to the Austrian Patterned Knee socks. Plus, I got side tracked by this:
The yarn is Paton's Kiss and it is soft and lovely like petting a kitten. I eyed it for a year before finally breaking down at Walmart and buying some.
Notice the turn at the neck? This interesting detail is a screw up that turned into a design feature. It helps the scarf stay on your neck instead of sliding around. I'll write up a pattern for y'all when I get a moment.

Then on Monday, I did an entrelac presentation for the London Hand Knitter's Guild. I brought the Fiber Fish Pattern, the Knitter's Fall 2003 issue that contains entrelac instructions, and the Asian book I recently got that also contains an entire sweater knit in entrelac as well as one that just has the yoke.

The pattern I used for my tutorial was Dave's Garterlac Dishcloth pattern. I had to knit one up before class to make sure I understood everything. Well I loved it! There was some Bernat cotton on sale for a dollar a ball and now I have these two cloths:

Aren't they fun? They are just the simple hit of bright color I needed when my world has gone grey and hectic.

Thanks Dave, for a great pattern!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

To Err is Human

I made a mistake in the Fiber Fish Pattern. It is in the large size only and applies to the top row of mitered squares. I am posting the corrections in the post that explains how to buy the pattern which is linked from the side bar. If I still have your e-mail address, I will try to mail out the corrected pattern.

I'm sorry everybody. I know this happens, and that I'm only human. But still, sorry.

That said, I'm not the only one. I've finished my STR Titania:

I love the feel of the yarn, and they look great with jeans, but I didn't enjoy knitting these socks. While any one of these colors would be amazing on its own, together they are too busy. I've learned my lesson and will not be buying any more wild handpainted yarns. Tone on tone is good, and maybe some slight variation, but not this sort of thing again.

Since it's Socktoberfest, I just had to start another pair of socks. And what better pattern to use than one by Nancy Bush, sock-goddess?

They are the Traveller's Socks from the latest Vogue Knitting and the pattern reminds me of the Austrian Patterned Knee Socks. I think that there's an error in the chart for needle 1 and 2. It has a nine row repeat, but I think it works better as an 8 row repeat. It's a pretty minor issue, but I have found errors in other patterns by Nancy Bush. It was a nice reminder that even someone like Nancy Bush, who I admire so much, is only human.

Come to think of it the APKS were full of errors. I guess I'm in good company.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wild and Funky in Southern Ontario

Freakish weather blew in to London today.

This was what my drive home from work looked like. Snow!

The mailman brought me a package from my Funky Scarf Swap pal. It's from Craftylilly and look at the nice care package she sent me.

There are two books, enough yarn for another scarf, and of course, the awesome wild and funky, Funky Scarf!

I wore it to the hairdresser's. She cut my hair and I got my fall colors put in. I think the scarf goes great with my new 'do.

I'm so happy, I gotta dance!

This just in: You've gotta check out Latvian Mitten heaven!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Relaxation.... with Socks

Thank you all for the kind comments about my sweater. Our dinner was delicious and I think we could have fed a bunch of knitters! What a spread! I sent a bunch of it home with my brother-in-law who is single and we had leftovers today.

Today was all about relaxing and it was lovely. I knocked out a couple of socks, and went for a walk to take in the fall color. The first pair of socks have been my traveling companions for quite some time and you've seen them in my knitting in public shots.

These were made on 2mm needles using MegaBoot Stretch and a stitch pattern from Charlene Schurch's Sensational socks. They are very stretchy and therefore destined to grace the feet of my mother-in-law.

Here's a picture of my woods. We haven't had a cold snap so the trees are turning color very slowly. The light was just beautiful this morning.

We took time to play a family game together.

And this is the first of my original sock idea using the STR Titania yarn.

I continued the ribbing through the short row heel and up both sides of the leg. It flowed nicely into the ribbed cuff. I finished it with a sewn tubular edge. I really like the look and stretch in this edge and it's no harder than kitchener stitch.

But ultimately, I'm not convinced that this design is the best it could be. I'll knit the second one to match, but I think that the ribbing up the side doesn't work as well as I hoped. I also fudged things along a bit. When I'm knitting for myself and not following a pattern, I don't hold that the two socks have to be identical and I just follow what makes sense to me when I'm knitting it.

I don't think I will bother writing this up as a real pattern. My first post should be enough to go on for anyone who would like to duplicate this effort. But really, there are nicer sock patterns out there for free. I'll try again another time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Giving Thanks!

The sun is shining beautifully. My house is cleaned, the turkey is in the oven and so I took a moment for a photo shoot. I am very happy that this sweater is done.

For the curious (and hungry) I present today's menu:

Louisiana Turkey
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Cresent Rolls
Lemon Green Beans with Hazelnuts
Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Minted Peas
White Wine, or White Cranberry Juice
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie

I'm thankful for the abundance that is in my life and the family and freinds I share it with. I'm thankful that I have had the strength and the support to come through hard times. I wish all those celebrating today or tomorrow a Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Preparing for the Feast

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and my family will be having our big meal tomorrow, so I can just sit back and relax on the holiday Monday. While I decided to simplify my Thanksgiving preparations this year, I'm astounded at how much I still managed to do today.

8:00 AM - grocery shop
9:00 - knit
10:00 - clean a bit, make cranberry sauce and carrot soup
11:00 - watch Avatar (while knitting)
11:30 - cook turkey noodle soup for lunch, blanch green beans
12:00 - eat delicious soup (recipe from Canadian Living)
12:30 - make sweet potatoes with orange glaze, and pesto for carrot soup. Clean messy kitchen!
1:30 - sit and knit a bit
3:00 - glorious walk in the woods with husband
4:00 - sit and knit a bit more
5:30 - make cabbage salad, grilled steak and fresh bread for supper. Clean up.
6:30 - sit and knit the evening away

And what do I have to show for this day? A full fridge, a messy house, and this:

It is so soft and light and warm! It's lovely to wear. I'm blocking out the bands, and I think I have a bit more adjustments to do to the button. I promise to give it a good photoshoot in the sunshine ASAP!

All in all, a really good day. I hope yours was most excellent too.

Oh, I just re-read that and you all are going to be so confused by the turkey soup. See, we had leftovers. We went to a wedding last weekend and it was a potluck so we brought some turkey all sliced up. We picked the bones for the leftovers for soup, which I made today. It was a really fun wedding. I'll show you some pictures.

Here's Jim and I before the wedding. I wore the Galaxy Shawl and was complimented on it.

And this is the newly weds, Jason and Erin:
And this is Jason and his best man after a few drinks:

I told you it was a great wedding!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Socktoberfest Sock-inaire

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I made my first pair of socks as a Christmas present for my father-in-law about 16 years ago.

I had this pattern in a very old book and I'd never seen anyone make hand knit socks before. They had an air of the 50s about them and I thought my father-in-law would appreciate them. He did. I thought that turning a heel was a very clever trick and I just learned to do it by following the pattern instructions exactly as written.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
See above. He's passed on and I have no idea what happened to the socks. My first pair using modern yarn was with Mexicana Socka and they've held up great! That was about 2 years ago.

What would you have done differently?
I used acrylic for my father-in-law's pair. Now I only use natural fibers, mainly wool.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Trekking XXL is one of my faves, along with Lorna's Laces. And solids. Any solid.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I always use DPNs. I know how to do magic loop and 2 circs, but I save those techniques for tight situations where I just don't have the right combination of needles on hand. Usually hats or sleeves.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I prefer flap heels and have been experimenting with putting the heel stitch or eye-of-the-partridge on the bottom as well as the flap. So far so good.
The only time I use short rows are for toe-ups. On my TODO list is to try Charlene Schurch's toe ups with heel flaps. Best of both worlds!

How many pairs have you made?
Yikes! A quick count in my head gives me 20 or more.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Show me the money!

I've got your money shots right here.


See that check? That is $16 worth of prize money from the Western Fair for my two second place wins. I know, don't spend it all in one place. I'll cash it and the proceeds are going into my Rhinebeck tin. Yes, I'm starting now to save my money so I can go to Rhinebeck next year. It's also keeping me from buying more yarn that I don't need because I'm committed to making my purchases from the tin. So when I see yarn I want to buy I think, "Is this yarn worth taking money from the Rhinebeck tin?" Generally, the answer is no. :-)

See that sock? Heel turned and working the leg now.

See that needle roll? Custom made by our own Mary Jane. Features include: twill tape for marking needle sizes onto, top flap with velcro closures, and extra long ribbon for tying a bulging roll closed. It was made of two Martha Stewart placemats. This gift was bestowed upon myself and Knitty Kat as a thank you for donating our scrap sock yarn to the vest project. I can say no more other than I expect Mary Jane to do a photo shoot when she's done so I can tell you all about it. It's going to be something else!

Next is a money shot of a different sort:

Yep. It's my chest. The Cabled Bordered Garter Stitch Jacket still lacks sleeves though, so that's all you get to see. Notice the badly curling edges and the loops of boulce peeking through on the one side. A spanking good blocking should put that all in it's place. I can hardly wait.

Now look what the postman brought me today:

Do you know what this is? It's a slippery slope to crazed obsession. I found out about this book through Crossed in Translation and I bought it because I really liked the Am kamin sweater (that's the red one next to the blog title). With a whole blog dedicated to working on the translation I figured it was a safe purchase.

HA! Again I say, HA!!

There's a ton of just beautiful things in this book that I would love to make. Take a look at the shawl page:

It took me a moment to realize that the white one is the Mountain Ash shawl that Grumerina started working on in the spring. I just looked through her archives and I don't believe she ever finished it. But should I ever decided to attempt it, I'll have her experiences to learn from. It looks really tough.

And there's more:
There's even entrelac sweaters, one with just the yoke and the other is the whole sweater in entrelac.

I am not safe. My fingers are itching to start knitting something from this book. Gah! Self control is going to drive me nuts. Plus, you know the translation issues will wreck my head when I finally do clear my queue. I hope you like reading the ravings of a lunatic.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Plug and Play Sock Design

Design involves making a lot of little decisions and as I was designing something to work with the STR Titania yarn, I left many design paths behind me. So I've decided to write this pattern up, in honour of Socktoberfest, so that you can take a different path in your sock, if you choose.

Decision 1 - Patterning

This is the juicy part! The pattern stitch I chose is from Barbara Walker's first Treasury and it's called Little Butterfly. It's a cluster of loose yarn that is gathered in a bow. Each butterfly requires 5 stitches and 6 rows.

Here's how to knit each cluster in the round:

Row 1: With the yarn in front, slip the next five stitches to the right hand needle. Put the yarn to the back and continue knitting. You will be leaving this loose strand behind to be picked up later.
Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: As row 1.
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: As row 1.
Row 6: Knit the first two stitches of the five stitch group. Slip your needle under the loops of yarn and up until you've caught all three loops. Like so:

Yarn over, and pull the needle with the yarn on it out from under the three loops. Like so:

Knit the next stitch, pass the loop over the stitch just knit and continue knitting.

Now Barbara Walker's pattern grouped the butterfly clusters in a checkerboard pattern like this:


Where V is one of the clusters of 5 slipped stitches, and _ is knit 5. There are 7 groups of 5 stitches, for 35 stitches, or half the total of my sock.

I decided to do something different:


You could do either of these two, but why stop there? How about this idea:


Or anything else your wild imagination leads you to.

Decision 2 - What size am I making?

This is important! If you are making a size that is familiar to you, with yarn and needles that are familiar, you probably don't need to swatch. I didn't. I have big feet, so I started with a 2.25 mm needle and 70 stitches.

If you have medium size feet, you may find that all you need to do is go down to a 2mm needle resize the sock. Also, I find that the STR lightweight is actually rather thick, so a thinner sock yarn might give a medium sized sock.

If you have small or narrow feet, you will want fewer stitches on the needles. With a 5-stitch repeat, you could go down to 65 or 60 stitches even. When in doubt, swatch and measure.

Decision 3 - How to start?

I started at the toe, but you could just as easily start at the top. Things to consider are:
  • How are you going to place your pattern repeats?
  • Do you care if the stitch pattern is upside down?
  • Which way works best for your skill level? Or do you want to learn a new technique with this sock?
  • What kind of heel do you prefer? There are many more options heel options for top-down socks than for toe ups and some people find a short row heel to be too shallow.
I decided to start at the toe, because I wanted the little bows to be upside right. Funny, but when I have my feet up on the coffee table they look upside down. Oh well.

My favorite toe up is this:

Using waste yarn, cast on 70-stitches. I use a crochet-hook and a technique described in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks for my provisional cast on, but there's also a tutorial here.
Then proceed to make your favorite short-row toe. Wendy provides a comprehensive tutorial over at Knitty.

The Foot

When I swatched, I noticed a slight reduction in the elasticity of the fabric. So I decided to add a stripe of ribbing along the side of my sock. The ribbing compensates for the stitch pattern and it provides a design element that divides the sock into two parts.

Here's how I divided up my stitches:
  • Needle 1: This is the front of the sock and it holds 21 stitches. Purl the first stitch, and the remaining 20 stitches represent 4 units of pattern.
  • Needle 2: Also the front of the sock, it holds 16 stitches. 3 units of pattern and one purl stitch.
  • Needle 3: The back of the sock, it holds 17 stitches. Start with K1, P1, K1, P1, then knit to the end.
  • Needle 4: Also the back, it holds 16 stitches. Knit to the last four stitches, then P1, K1, P1, K1.
Here's what I have so far:

Up next, we'll have to think about the heel, the leg and how to finish the dang thing off!

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Knitty Kat!