I'm playing photo catch-up again. Click the image for a link to the pattern.
It feels good to be friends with my knitting again! On Friday there was no knitting because my husband and I went up to San Francisco to go to one of SF Sketchfest events. We saw Ronna and Beverly live. It was a fun night, and a late night driving back, but totally worth it. If you live in the bay area, there are various Sketchfest events going on all through February, so check it out.
The most thrilling part of Friday for me, however, was that I ordered Kate Davies new book, Colours of Shetland, and the yarn to make the Puffin Sweater. Yes, in those colors, I wish I was wearing it right now already!
The yarn is literally coming from the Shetland Islands, (famous for their knitting, as well as tiny horses, for those not in the know.)
Pretty much everything about ordering from the UK is charming to my American ears, so the fact that I ordered from Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers is just like icing on the cake. Also the international shipping was the same as what a local would have paid in value added tax, so, excepting the longer wait, I've already had a great customer experience.
Also, let it be known that despite the fact that the extra cable for my Addi Clicks arrived, I have not started Wedding Gift Blanket: The Return. (Although that makes it sound like it is a wedding gift you can return, which we all know is the major kind of guilty failing of handmade gifts: the giftees have to keep them. How about Wedding Gift Blanket 2: Knitting Boogaloo?) Anyway, the cable arrived, but I was so comfortably ensconced in Wedding Gift Blanket one that I didn't even feel tempted to start.
Upon ordering the Kate Davies self-gift basket, I knew I had better dig in to these Mom's Birthday Socks (which started my tizzy in the first place), and, in fact, yesterday I finished one. So one more to go, well on schedule. The second sock should take only about 1/2 the time of the first, because most of the time spent on this sock was spent trying to figure out the heel instructions, which, I don't know, they weren't really badly written once I figured out what they were trying to say, but they did confuse the heck out of me, so there is that against them.
In knitting news: I persevere with these continental purls. I did catch myself doing purls continental style once by instinct, but I've also caught a few English purls cropping up when the going gets tough.
In non-knitting news: I've been lead to reading Mrs. Miniver through another blog I read, Jean's Knitting. It turns out there is a free copy of the book available on-line and I am just so totally charmed by it. Honestly, who can resist:
In childhood the daylight always fails too soon -- except when there are going to be fireworks; and then the sun dawdles intolerably on the threshold like a tedious guest.
Hooray for Joyce Maxtone Graham, the author, who, apparently sometimes signed her letters Joyous.
Oh you guys! I'm beginning to understand what blog after blog has been telling me. I'm beginning to have a desire to go to Iceland. After all that priming, I guess all I needed was a bag of surprise yarn and this postcard below to convince me.
The caption on the post card say:
A woolly coat comes in handy in most parts of Iceland, and the wool from Icelandic sheep is famous for its dual quality of warmth and lightness. A protected breed, the Icelandic Sheep has remained genetically the same for over 1000 years. Sheep roam freely all over the countryside in the spring and summer months, and are only rounded up in the fall.
Work continues on the wedding gift blanket, and that cable I ordered in my fit of pique has almost arrived, which means I could start wedding gift blanket #2, but I think I'm almost ready to return to mother's birthday socks, which is what threw me into the tizzy in the first place :)
I forgot to say yesterday that I also devoted time on Sunday to getting a handle on doing a consistent continental purl. I turned to a favorite knitting resource, knittinghelp.com. Here is a link to the page of videos on purl stitch techniques. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, or maybe it is just luck, the wedding gift blanket has a lot of purling, and so I've been able to practice my technique. I don't think what I'm doing can completely be called a continental purl because I'm not wrapping the yarn around my finger extra times to maintain tension. I don't do this with my continental knit stitches either. I can see that I seem to be getting much closer to the same tension now on my knit and purl rows in stockinette stitch (my English style purls were looser than my continental knits, you know, no so you would notice, but I knew).
I really can't post without a picture. (We'll see how long that lasts...) So here is a "picture" of the wedding gift blanket.
I'm 60% finished! Three horizontal patterns down, two to go. Perhaps I should be working on other projects that have sooner due dates, but after the recent bout of craft dis-pleasure, it feels good to be getting along on something.
I spent yesterday up in Oakland with my friend Amynta while our guys were on a fishing trip. I did about 1 inch on my wedding gift blanket and provided moral and technical support to my friend while she finished a Hansi Singh octopus that I helped her start on a Yosemite camping trip in 2010. Hansi's patterns are challenging, but so worthwhile. I credit them with bringing my own knitting skills along much faster than I think they would have otherwise progressed. They use every shaping and grafting technique in the book, and at the end you have a lovely little toy.
I won't post pictures of the wedding gift blanket, maybe some close ups in a little while, but here's a picture of what it looked like when I took it apart the first time. Perfect may be the enemy of the good, but I can't knit what I don't enjoy, as should surely be apparent from yesterday's post.
I'm posting this picture to emphasize that I take every project apart at least once. I'm just going to have to learn to celebrate that fact, cause it's reality.
This blog has been silent for a little while, while I try to figure out what to do with it. I've decided that an exercise in daily writing is a good way to get out of this indecisive phase, and as an example, the following is writing from Friday night and Saturday night. I've thrown in some photos of finished items for the last little bit of time to keep things light :) Each photo is linked to the pattern if you're interested. Here we go...
Oh my gosh, knitting frustration! I have at least 9 work-in-progress projects going on right now. And I don't want to work on any of them. Is the solution to start a new project? It certainly seemed hopeful. The first project I tried to start called for size 13 circular needles. I checked, and I have no regular set of 13 circulars. I have two interchangeable needle sets, one of which goes up to size 11, and the other one does have size 13s. Good news, except that I only have the shortest cable available for that set. It is 9:30 pm at this point, so I can't run to the store. Husband points out that I could order another large cable. This wouldn't help me in the moment, but, I tell myself, I can endure this crazy for a few more days, so I order one from Amazon. But I still want to knit to relax and I still don't want to work on any of my current projects.
Maybe I could start something else that is ready to go. Maybe a hat that I bought the yarn for last Christmas. Let's see, that wants size 10 double pointed needles. I don't have those, but I can come up with two size 10 circulars on the short cables between the two interchangeable sets. Let me just check gauge before I'm off and running on this... oh, I have 8 stitches per inch instead of the 6 required by the gauge. And, the fabric already seems like it is too loose, and when you stretch it, you can see through the "holes", no good for a hat. Going up in needle size to get the right gauge would make the fabric even looser. Could I hold two strands of the yarn together? Yes, but then I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the project, and this yarn is actually discontinued I've had it in my stash for so long.
Hm, maybe I should start some complicated doily, because I finally have some size 30 thread. No, I know that is a bad idea for what is now 10 pm. I'll just work on this reversible project that I started in 2009 and picked up again recently. It is a little tedious because there are so many stitches per row, but it has a certain appeal. You know, after the gauge being so off on that hat, maybe i should just check it on this for a lark. Oh, I'm 2 stitches off on the vertical and horizontal gauge, oh, and I also just learned a much prettier way to join the sides. So, I guess I should take it apart? but each row takes around 20 min. I don't want to take it apart, but on the other had, I still have much further to go on the project than I've already gone.
After a morning of continuing to bemoan my situation, I awoke from a nap to a mail delivery of the most lovely Icelandic yarn from a friend who just came back from a trip.
The colors are beautiful and the sentiment is charming. Alright, I'm feeling better. I planned to go to a bagpipe jam session with my husband that night, and had thought I would bring a project to while away the hours, but in my current state I was beside myself as to what that project would be.
Ultimately I decided to go back to a wedding gift project that is due in August that I hadn't worked on since October (a conservative estimate). What a good project to return to! Cables to keep things interesting, 100% wool yarn, one eye calming cream color. Pleasant music, and a lovely bunch of German women who happened to be there who lavished my project with ego boosting praise and then descended upon me trying to show me how to do a continental purl stitch.
There were three women, two were mother and daughter, and each had her own slightly different continental purl technique and each felt her own way made the most sense, and it was such a nice moment of knitter fellowship and so charming to be literally hugged from behind by one of the women while she grabbed my hands and attempted to lead them through her version of a purl. So i'm back in the game, inching my way back to relaxing knitting.
And that's why i need to write every day here, because the experience of knitting is so mercurial to me and I want to try to document it, maybe for 2 weeks?
Socks are fun to knit. While there are some knitters who never knit socks, there are some who only knit socks. A basic sock leaves a lot up to the discretion of the knitter. There is a cuff, a heel, and a toe, with leg and foot between them, and because there have been people knitting for hundreds of years, there are lots of different ways to create these parts. I love that socks are based on measurements, and that you can make a sock that fits just based on the wearer’s shoe size. I love to find a favorite method for each part, use it a few times, and then find a new favorite method. I’ve been knitting socks since 2005, and plunging head first into the knitting part of the internet since 2009, and I still come across new ways to do things that tickle my fancy. I’m looking at those numbers, and they don’t seem long enough ago to encompass what I feel I’ve learned about fiber arts in those years, but, to put it another way, I spend an average of 3 hours a day on fiber crafting, and so those years add up to 5,000-10,000 hours.
I learn new skills with each new project I undertake and with each old project I do a 2nd or 3rd time, and spending 50 straight days a year crafting means that I’m learning a lot. Even so, I’m surprised to see how things I made, even a year ago, feel far away and foreign. Places in a pattern where I had to make decisions look strange to my eyes now, because I’ve learned new techniques that I would use instead.
I’ve been busy recently working on projects for folks at Thanksgiving and for folks at Christmas, and for weddings that are happening in August (yeah, I know, but it is better to be ahead than behind I say!). I’ve gotten through everything I wanted to do for Thanksgiving, and Christmas still seems far away, so I got inspired to finish a project that has been hanging around since May 2011. The project is a pair of socks that were supposed to be for an August 2011 birthday, but instead they will be for a 2012 Thanksgiving.
Technical Notes: My goal is to avoid taking the first sock apart and have two matching socks at the end of the process. I did not, however, make it simple for myself. In 2011, apparently, I hadn't yet learned to keep detailed notes about pattern changes, because I looked at the finished sock, looked at the directions I had stuffed into the bag with the extra yarn, and had some troubles. After trying to start the sock cuff-down and knitting a few rounds, I figured out that the finished sock is knit from the toe up. I can still access vague memories of being so enamored of Judy’s magic cast-on that I would use any excuse to employ it, and also being so interested in the Interlock Bindoff, that, again, any excuse or pattern tweak seemed reasonable. The Interlock Bindoff looks almost, but not quite like a Twisted German cast-on, thus my cast-on confusion. They may, very well, operate under the same principles, because they are both very stretchy. Figuring out how many stitches were cast on was another challenge. Well, less of a challenge and more like I didn't look that closely at the toe of the first sock before I plunged ahead, so, a completed toe later, I realized that I had cast on 28 stitches on the first sock, and only 20 on the second, so I ripped it back again. Now I’m on the almost right track and should be able to finish the foot without further incident.
I did an afterthought heel on the first sock (a heel knitted after the rest of the sock is finished). Now, as you would expect, I have a different favorite heel, which is knitted during sock construction. The afterthought heel I did has a thicker side seam than I would like. I’m torn because I don’t want to do a bunch of ripping back, and I can’t employ my new favorite heel technique anyway, but if I can find a satisfactory solution, which I think I have, then I’ll be pulling out the heel on the first sock and doing something a little more elegant.
The pattern for these, by the way, is Jaywalker.
I spent the weekend attempting to give order to my massive yarn collection (more on this and what I found later.) Of course, the main thing I found was that I have a lot of yarn that I can’t really imagine using. That isn’t to say that I can’t imagine needing this yarn for something, but just looking at it isn’t an inspirational activity. My husband thought it looked warm and fuzzy all laid out on the floor. To me it looked like waist deep mud that I would have to wade through for some kind of craft basic training. It’s back in tubs now, labeled into general categories: “acrylic worsted” and “natural worsted,” for example.
I also found some “science experiment” knitting poking around, little swatches and tests. One that’s been around for a year is the answer to the question “What if I made this bigger?”
I thought I was going to make a thread bedspread at some point, which, still might happen in my lifetime. Of course, the pattern I chose was time consuming and thread consuming, and even popped up as the subject of some justified mockery on a well known knitting blog.
I would need to make a gazillion, and I’ve made around 10. Also, I can only imagine that this bedspread, once completed, would probably weigh so much that people laying beneath it could not move.
At some point, I wanted to see what would happen if this fiddly little square was done in worsted?
Again, the result eats up a lot of yarn, the brown part used almost a whole skein, but I love the effect. Looking at all my acrylic worsted weight yarn, I’ve been thinking, I should finish this project. It seems like a great way to get rid of yarn and end up with a lacy extravagant blanket. I was thinking maybe 9 squares, maybe 12. I’m going to shoot for one a month and see where that gets me. Though I just realized I have no idea what size hook I used for the big one. Hmm.
My friend has a joke that her blog is a “blog for moms.” Not that she writes for moms, but that her main readership is her mom, a friend’s mom, her boyfriend’s mom, etc. I think it is mostly a way of expressing the confusing feeling of writing for the internet. You don’t really know who you are writing for, besides your mom.
Personally, though I don't always know who all is reading, I know that my mom is my most dedicated reader, and also my most dedicated harasser when I fall behind in my posts. One of the reasons I fall behind is that I get it into my head that I have specific things I want to say about my projects, and I can’t say them to my own satisfaction. My mom always has tons of nice stuff to say about what I’ve made, so I decided to just let her say it this time, and also clean out the backlog of projects I needed to share with you all, and then maybe I can get motivated from here moving forward. I've included links for the patterns. Some are only on Ravelry, one is on Lion Brand and you have to log in to see it.
So, without further ado, here’s my mom:
Sarah just finished making me this beautiful silk shirt. Last February, I took a trip to California to visit the kids and go with Sarah to the Stitches West Show in San Jose. There, we found this pattern and yarn. It sat around until late July when we gathered in Paradise (Michigan), and there, Sarah started working on the project. So soft, so lovely. This pattern can be adjusted for any body size. And of course, Sarah made it so it fits me perfectly. [pattern]
The cute red and white placemat is 100% cotton, and 100% LOVED by Sarah’s cat Mona. I guess you could say that it is a catmat… The pattern is a free pattern from Red Heart. [pattern]
Lovely wool socks for the fisherman. Sarah’s father-in-law loves to fish – and loves to keep warm. These socks work for both! I love the red toes and the heals as well as the ultra cool pattern on the leg. [pattern, though I did a jojo heel, which is not in the book.]
Mom and Mom-in-law both got a pair of these paneled socks. The blended yarn worked in sections really makes for some cool socks. [pattern, above with a short row heel and picot hemmed cuff, below with a heel flap heel and ribbed cuff.]
Having such a talented daughter, I tend to make a lot of special requests. Sarah really went out of her way for a dear friend of mine. With a new German Shepherd in the family, I thought it would be nice for my friend to have a knit German Shepherd for her collection. So I sent photos of the puppy to Sarah, who went through her stash to try to match the markings of the actual dog. She did a fantastic job (of course). The odd thing was that the dog was scared of the knit dog. She wouldn’t stop barking at her miniature. Sarah thought this might have happened because she made the dog while dog sitting. Maybe the dog could smell the other dog on the yarn? Who knows? [pattern]
And the HATS.
My husband has worn a knit hat forever. His mother was an amazing knitter (as is his daughter). When Sarah was researching the perfect hat to make for her Dad, she came into a quandary. There were TWO hats that she liked. The best solution was achieved. Sarah knit two hats for her Daddy. One for really cold weather, one for medium cold weather. Both lovely (although the patterned one is my favorite). Both blue (because that is her Daddy's favorite color). Both wool (because that is what Daddy loves). [and I never got a finished photo of the one on the right! left: pattern, right: pattern]
Okay, thanks Mom! for guest blogging. I’ll be back next week with a post about a new project.
Thought I might not post frequently, I always keep busy! Here are some pictures with their origin stories.
Meet tiny Texas Zombie!
I combined two of Anna Hrachovec's wonderful tiny patterns. The armadillo is from her book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, and the zombie is from a separate pattern collection. I changed the pattern for the zombie just a little, making the legs longer, and making the shirt white. I made up the little hat. It is crocheted, starting at the top, making a little tube, and then increasing in every stitch to make the brim. I should write up the pattern for those that want a tiny hat, but I haven't yet, so I would just say, trust your gut, and let the tiny hat flow from you naturally. I put some wire into the raised arm so he could give a proper yee-haw, which shows a little in this photo, but just think of it as yarn zombie bones. The reins are embroidery floss. He now lives on the desk of a co-worker who is from Texas and loves zombies.
A little treat for my husband who lends emotional support to all the projects you see on this site. When projects start to go south, he listens to me talk it out, and he calmly accepts a bedroom destroyed by trying to find that one ball of yarn that just can't be found. This pattern may look familiar. It is the Sidewinders pattern that I've knit several times already. I knit it with Mini-Mochi which was a lovely experience. I was very pleased that the pink stripes landed on the sides of the socks so that it really looks trouty. For fans of non-traditional sock construction (I know I'm not the only one!) I recently happened upon Hypercycloid's blog where she has been up to lots of non-traditional sock construction. I've saved several of these patterns for future use.
Kilt Hose, click on the images to make them larger
More husband socks! My husband has been taking bagpipe lessons for almost a year, and he played in a competition for the first time recently. Not only have I learned a lot of about the instrument in this time, but I've also learned about the parts of traditional Scottish dress. Eventually he will have his own kilt, but in the mean time, he rented one, as well as all the fixings. Of course, I was darned if he was going to rent or, perish the thought, buy the hose to wear with the kilt. Also of course, I only came to the realization that I would need to make these hose 3 weeks before the competition (I ended up finishing them the night before). No problem! I found this lovely free pattern through Ravelry. I chose the toe up version of the pattern because I knew I would have to make a few modifications to fit my husband's larger calves. The hose are knit with worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220) but on US size 1.5 needles. When the socks are on the leg, my vertical gauge ended up being 15 rows per inch, which is quite a few more rows than I think the pattern was intending. Instead of two balls of the 220, I ended up using almost 4, but the result is a pair of very nice dense hose, no holes between stitches (which was my husband's main concern). Besides doing many more rows for the leg and cuff, the only other modification I made was to do two more rib increases on the back of the calf, instead of the suggested single center rib finish. (Sorry, I'm not sure how better to describe that, look at the picture of the back of the calf and I think you'll see what I mean.) I want to try kilt hose again, and he is competing again in September, so, more kilt hose might show up here in the future.
Last, but not least. I had had my eye on this pattern on Ravelry for some time, but had no reason to make it. Enter the reason, I had the opportunity to go to a Dr. Who themed party. Hurrah! This is a crocheted Ood. The Ood are hilarious and also full of pathos, and so, they are favorites of mine. This pattern was super quick and super easy, it took me about 2 nights of work. I had all the yarn in my stash, so, good de-stashing project if you have some left over sand from an under the sea blanket and some left over coral color from making sea horses. The pattern is also brilliant because there is a mouth opening behind the tentacles for breathing and eating.
Okay, and we're not caught up yet! I have a lot of gifts to give in the near future and then there will be a catch up gift post!
Currently working with three types of needles of various sizes to create all manner of soft objects
a stitch in time
knit it or forget it.