Sunday, October 26, 2008


I was reminded this weekend of the expansion/contraction cycle that a therapist once explained to me. He described how we expand our selves into connection with others or into emotional highs which are then followed by an inward contraction. It's like the tides, or even better, like breathing. Well this weekend I expanded on Saturday and contracted on Sunday.

The expansion on Saturday was due to a shopping trip wherein my very sweet husband bought me an expensive dress to wear to a formal Christmas party. It was his idea, he was delighted to do it and he even asked to come shopping with me and suggested the store to go to. He came into the change room with me while I tried on the dresses. There was one that took my breath away and his too. Even though it was a little more than we had planned to spend, he insisted I buy it. What a rush!! Both of us were giddy and thrilled with the purchase. So that was the expansion.

Sunday was grey, windy and wet. We stayed in, played a board game, read books and of course, I knitted some. I finished up two more Christmas presents this weekend, but was at a loss as to what to work on next. I got grumpy about it, so that was the contraction. I've sorted it out though and I'm thrilled with my next project. Expand.... See? Just like breathing.

No pictures of the dress today. I'll show you all when I get myself dolled up for the actual party. And no pictures of the thrilling new project. I didn't get it started till late tonight and I'm sure it won't photograph well in the dark. Of course, I do have pictures of my FOs. First up, the ubiquitous scarf.

This is just a moss stitch scarf. But the yarn is a mohair wool blend and knit loosely it makes an extra smooshy fabric. Love it!

Then this morning I knocked off a one-skein quickie, which is also a winner!

It's the Cable and Bobble headband from Interweave Knits, 2006. Yep, I even did the bobbles. They sort of looked like little flowers to me, or like jewels in a crown. I used Paton's Soy Wool Stripes and a 6mm needle. I added 4 extra stitches because of the smaller needle size. No gauge swatch for this super-quick project. I really like it. I may have to do another for myself.

Now back to the work week and a thrilling new knit project to take me through it. Yippee!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hot Stuff

At only twelve years old, my son Alex is hot stuff. So I knit him gloves to suit his personality.

I used the chart from the Hot Rod Socks AKA Olympic Flame socks for the flames. The rest was just designed on the needles. Alex was a very good sport and put up with me shoving a partially knit glove on his hand over and over again. He even put down the video game to try them on!

Pattern: my own - 64 sts around, with an offset thumb.
Yarn: various sock yarns
Needles: 2.50 mm

Alex took the plunge this year and joined Air Cadets. He was enthralled with the idea since he was ten and had every intention of joining when he turned twelve. But when it actually came time to show up, he got cold feet. Jim and I gave him a parental push and made him join, with the caveat that he could leave if he wanted to in January. So far, he seems to be enjoying it.

In September he went away for an entire weekend for survival training and survived. So did we. The only thing that worried me about the survival weekend was not being able to contact him if I wanted to. I'd never been in that situation with one of my children before. Last week he got his uniform and on Sunday he put it on for the first time to participate in tag day, which is a fund raiser for the cadets.

I can't describe the mix of feelings I have over seeing my son in uniform. Pride, respect, worry, all tinged with a rush of mother love. I'm beginning to think that raising teenagers is going to be the hardest part of this whole parenting gig.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I'm on a roll designing on the needles these days. Here's a pair of socks I designed and knit for my mother-in-law, Cynthia, for Christmas.

Pattern: Flattery - by me
Yarn: Kroy
Needles: 2.25mm

I'm calling them Flattery because I was trying to imitate Nancy Bush's Latvian patterns. These socks have some ribbing on the back of the upper leg, and a lace pattern that goes from the top to the toes. You can see this design better when they're on the sock blockers.

You can also see how loose they are. My blockers are a medium, so I'd say that these socks are a ladies large, or more due to stretch. Cynthia is diabetic and has arthritis, so it's important to her that the socks pull on easily and are very loose. I'm very confident that these will fit the bill. I think this sock would be great for most diabetics or ladies with large calves.

Now I know someone is going to ask me for the pattern. So here's a quick'n dirty one. I expect you know how to turn a heel and that you have Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries. If you don't, try the library.


First set-up that teeny cuff. Cast on 72 stitches (18 sts per needle). Work 4 rows of K1P1 ribbing. Increase one purl stitch in the last stitch of the last row and move the last two stitches to the working needle.

Next, set-up the calf ribbing and start the lace. You've already got two purl stitches on the working needle, now (K4, P2) to the end of needle 1. On needle 2 and needle 3 work Barbara Walker's Chevron and Berry Stripe. This pattern has a 17st repeat, plus 1 st to finish the pattern. So after doing two 17-st repeats, you should have one stitch left at the end of needle 3. Move it to needle 4. Now (P2, K4) to the last two stitches, P2.

On the next row, start working Italian Chain stitch on needle 1. Continue in Chevron and Berry Stripe pattern for needles 2 and 3. Then back to Italian Chain stitch for needle 4. I knit 3 repeats of the Chevron and Berry Stripe and then switched to stockinette for needles 1 and 4. When I switched, I decreased away one stitch at the center. Then I knit 3 more repeats before starting my heel. I had to decrease away two more stitches, one at each end of the heel flap to get an even 70 stitches for the whole sock.

I prefer a heel flap sock for roominess. If you're doing a short row heel, you may not want to decrease those extra stitches away, so you can get a deeper heel. Knitter's preference. And that's pretty much it. Knit your heel, then the foot, and then the toe of your choice.

I hope that's clear enough. I'll edit it if need be. I don't have any charting software to capture the lace pattern. If I did, then this sock pattern wouldn't be a freebie, ya know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Jim and I walked down to the elementary school tonight to vote. As we waited in the hall we read the sign which described the accepted pieces of identification. Jim got to the table first and handed over his driver's license and voter's card. While he spoke with the lady, I looked over the table and noticed a child's knitted slipper, two plastic needles and some rag tags of yarn. Thinking quick I dug into my purse and when it was my turn at the table I waved my sock in progress at her.

"I've got my identification right here!" I said.

She laughed at me. "Oh you smarty!"

Isn't it fun, being a knitter?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Glad to be Alive

The weather today was so beautiful. The color on the trees is intense this year and the sky is a vivid shade of blue. A good day to be thankful for friends, family, food and for feeling fine. Also, I think my husband is thankful for this:

Pattern: Durrow
Yarn: Beaverslide - sale yarn
Needles: 5mm and 4mm for cuffs and collar
Modifications: oh yeah, I made some!

I started with the sleeves and got them both done to the same point. Then I knit the body which was a slog. I've heard good things about Beaverslide yarn, mostly that it softens when washed. It certainly wasn't so soft to knit. But I'm not a wuss, it was the boring ribbing that had me pushing to get it done.

Just before joining the sleeves to the body, I added 6 short rows to the back of the body. Jim is a slim guy so his sweaters tend to ride up at the back due to his shoulders. The short rows are to give him extra length in the back in the same way that many ladies need extra length in their front.

I was going for a modified-raglan/shoulder-strap treatment for the shoulders because I really wanted those cables to come together around the back. I fudged it, and it's not perfectly equal but I did get it together.

I like that it's not perfect actually. Even down to the fact that I twisted both rings and so I've got a little bloop at the grafting point instead of a nice twist. I've decided I don't care! It's unique this way! Life isn't perfect, neither am I, and neither is my knitting.

Then came the neck and having that extra cable at the back meant that I didn't need nearly as much neckband at the back as I did to fill in the front. No worries though, I used some short rows to fill things in and here it is:

It all flows together fairly well and you'd never guess that a knitter was just going crazy on this thing. It's an enjoyable experience to just let the knitting tell you what to do. It flows. Of course, having some technique under your belt is a big help to problem solving.

The sweater hasn’t been blocked in the photos and I’m expecting it to loosen up some. With a busy day of cooking and cleaning today I didn't have a chance to do it yet. Also, as noted above, the Beaverslide yarn I used was a sale yarn and it seems to be different shades of grey. Once I became aware of it, I noticed color changes even within one ball of yarn. I’ve decided that it’s so subtle I’m going to call it a feature. It goes well with my extra cable bloop at the back.

Now the gift knitting can begin in earnest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time Flys

I generally try to blog once or twice a week, but I've missed the last couple of weeks entirely. Life became a cacophony of teenage angst, health concerns and stresses rather than the pleasant symphony I'd prefer. My policy for this blog is to always remember that it is a public space, and so for that reason I'm not going to go into a lot of details here. I can say that the teen angst, while painful to watch, seems like a good thing since it indicates emotional growth. And I can also say that the health concerns are minor, since we are monitoring things at a very early stage. As for stress, who doesn't have that in their life?! My challenge is to remember to nurture myself and maintain my connections through it all.

Most certainly there has been knitting. Just this morning I finished Durrow. But it deserves a post of it's own. Instead, here is some more gift knitting completed. A pair of super big socks for man-feet:

And a pair of Fetchings, modified for a different gauge:

I don't like them much because of the curl, so I'd do them differently the second time around. I still think they're gift worthy though. A non-knitter might not care, and a good blocking might sort out the curl.