Once again I've been working on gifts, and so I haven't been posting.  I still have to figure out a way around that.  But at least one gift has been presented, so here are the Sweet Alice Socks:
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They were worked using the Sweetheart Socks pattern on Knitty, and inspired by a lovely color combination I saw on Ravelry.  That person did their socks in a deep red, but I thought I would just soften it a little by using this old barn pinkish color for a more feminine heel and toe.  Mostly worked by knitting stitches together and making new stitches instead of real cables, and also worked in worsted weight yarn, they worked up quickly and are super thick and warm.  This was the first time that I worked an afterthought heel, so it was a fun technical experiment.  The afterthought is that you work a piece of waste yarn where you want the heel to go, and then once the sock is complete you take out the waste yarn, pick up the stitches, and knit the heel.  The only negative is that you can't try the sock on while you are making it, but since most of my recipients live far from me, that isn't really a problem.
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I saw this pattern while on a break at work and could hardly wait to get home to knit it!  It is designed by Cheezombie it is it wonderfully elegant.  The whole pattern is worked from tail to ball in one piece, with the flippers sewn on later.  This kind of subtle simple shaping makes me feel more confident about designing my own toys.  I made this guy with 000 needles and sock yarn, and then upped it to 0 needles and heavier yarn for the ball.  I think I will make another one and try making the ball even bigger to balance the proportions, maybe I'm even ambitious enough to make it look like a real beach ball.  It is hard to tell from the photo, but this guy is palm sized, as is everyone else in this post. 
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This is a belated posting, but I love this little guy, and he deserves to be seen.  He is designed by Jessica Polka.  A little prawn pin, he was commissioned by a friend.  The yarn makes it I think, a pretty hand spun fingerling weight.  The color is ideal, but also, the woolyness of the yarn emphasizes the home made quality of the project which sends the essential awesomeness through the roof.  The eyes are small black beads.  The antenna are a flattened out spiral binding from a report that was being thrown away at work.  The first draft of this project was stolen by my cats, but I'm glad because this version came out so much better.  I sewed a pin back on him, and apparently he is much envied in his adopted hometown of Seattle. 
Another commissioned piece, a Trilobite broach.  Again, 000 needles and lace weight yarn.  He came out great, and even though they are so simple, I really like the antennae.  Also, I'm still loving this yarn.  There is enough of it that I think I will be making toys out of it for the next few years.  It is still the yarn from the mosaic hat
 
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First, here are some photos of a finished project, the Fluency Gloves designed by Sivia Harding.  I came upon them in a post by Franklin Habit from the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat (I knew I should have gone!)
A while back I had had the "what do you want me to knit for you" conversation with a friend and we had settled on grey gloves.  I knew I wanted a pattern that was pretty and plain at the same time.  Subtle and not the least fussy, but complex enough that I would also have fun knitting it.  That is this pattern all over.  The original pattern has beads knitted into the spaces between the knitted ridges, but as I was going for the antithesis of fussy, I left the beads off.  I used an inexpensive Berroco acrylic so that these gloves can be washed without extra special care.  This yarn choice also means that they are super soft.  The recipient was super pleased. 
I know I am an inconsistent blog poster and no amount of New Years resolutions is going to change that.  I'm usually either working on gifts and so I can't post the photos early, or I'm working on 6 different projects at once and they are all in the embryonic stages, and so they don't look like much.  But then that means no posts.  So here, with very little fan fair are several photos of works in progress that I hope to post more on later when they have grown up a little bit.
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A wedding gift for August
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A sleeve, attempting to understand the properties of sizing up needles and yarn.  No those are not space men along the bottom.  
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Will I ever realize my dream of a truly tiny seahorse?  I need to get some thin yarn for his belly and then time will tell.
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Afterthought heel on a pair of socks that are finished but not yet gifted.
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My purse project, a scarf for my husband.  It grows slowly.
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A hibernating sweater.  Bought the yarn in 2008 for sweater A, tried again to use the yarn on sweater B.  This is sweater C, and I'm not that into it, but when do I just throw the yarn away?
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At some point I figured that I like knitting tiny things so much, I should just knit with thread.  Maybe not, because I haven't worked on this in quite some time.  But someday, I'll have...a lovely sachet.  A sachet I went blind for. 
 
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This octopus is another Hansi Singh pattern.  He is done in worsted weight yarn and is larger than I typically make my toys.  He is bigger because he is destined for a very special project which is finally getting some momentum.  More on that later. 
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Just finished a pair of socks for my husband.   They are the Java Socks pattern from the most current issue of Knitty.  They have a little two stitch cable all over them, which is good because it is more interesting to knit than just plain ribbing, but is bad because it still became kind of monotonous.  The pattern is special because the decreases that happen after the heel are done across the ankle instead of down the side of the heel.  The pattern is nicely written so that the decreases just become a part of the flow of the ribbing.  My husband says that these socks fit better in the ankle than any others that I have made for him. I think part of this is the construction, but I also think that having an all over rib helps because it gives the fabric a lot more stretch, thus making it fit better.  
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I just didn’t want to pin this onto the end of the sock post because I think it is good enough to stand alone.   Step with me into the Way-Back Machine for a moment...
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At times in my life, I have made many sock monkeys.  When I first learned, at a workshop in college, I made monkeys out of a compulsion.  They are easy to make, and they develop their own personalities.  I made a heap of full sized monkeys and then tried to give them away.  It is the problem of any craft, what to do with it when you are finished.  
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For a few years, I was making and selling my little monkeys at the sadly now defunct Bare Hands Gallery.  I made them with baby socks and each monkey had little button eyes, and some other piece of flair, a little parrot button or a bell or something.  It is exhausting, however, to make 30 little objects creatively without knowing who they are for.  
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On the other hand, it is really fun to make one object creatively knowing exactly who it is for.  
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This sock monkey is for my dad.  I shot for a rough verisimilitude in the face, and though professionally my dad plays the violin, in his spare time he has been pursuing the mandolin.  This little monkey owns my best attempt at a knitted mandolin.  
As you may be aware, most fabrics are either knitted or woven, and even commercially produced socks are knitted, just on the tiny needles of a machine.  This was my first time making a monkey coming from a more knitterly perspective, and as I sewed the pieces together, I found my hands attempting to graft the tiny stitches instead of just sewing them together.  The result might be neater, but not by much, and it probably isn’t worth the eye strain!  
 
I’m trying to be better about posting projects right after they are finished.  Christmas makes that impossible, and birthdays are not much better.  My mom’s birthday was on Valentine’s, and she has already opened her present, so I can now post it here:
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It is the Skew pattern from knitty.com.  The pattern incorporates a very interesting diagonal construction.  The whole thing is worked from the big toe, over and then up.  The heel is also different, with the increases going out to the side, and then being folded towards each other and grafted together.  It is hard to explain, but I recommend knitting it if you get a chance.  
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I actually ended up knitting the pattern twice.  For most of my knitting life I have existed with size 1 ½ needles instead of regular 1s.  It was the kind of purchasing fluke that happens when a novice buys needles, but I was a well informed novice, so I bought Addi Turbo’s, expensive needles, in slightly the wrong size.  The first pair of skew socks were made using the slightly larger needles, and it actually made a big difference in the size of the socks.  These slightly too big fellows have now gone on to a friend with slightly larger feet.  
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Also, since they were for my mom, I decided that the more muted colors simply weren’t as appropriate as some festive red.  
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I will say though, that working this pattern has restored my faith in variegated yarn a little and I'm thinking more positively about hand dyed yarn.  I'll be at Stitches West this weekend, so it may be that I come home with an arm full of hand dyed and make nothing but socks for a while. 
 
As promised, here are some photos from the crab photo shoot:
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Here you can see, the introductions are going well.
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AS far as the scale goes, I will admit that I am satisfied.
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A little crab meeting.  Even shy crab got involved.
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Meeting adjourned!
 
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Here is a little something from back in November, but it is still very appropriate.  A few years ago (yes, blog posting is not the only thing I’m slow at), I started planning a new hat for my friend.  She lives in DC where one needs such things.  Since our college days she has evolved into a young professional, but she still maintains her unique style.  I knew I wanted to make her a hat that looked home made, but also fashionable, unique, but also grown up.  I also had a notion that I wanted to do a cabled band on the hat, but I wasn’t sure how to go about that.
I happened to visit another friend who is a knitter while she was working on a Christmas gift scarf.  She used this Lion Brand Yarn pattern, but she was doing it in stripes.  The pattern totally had me at reversible cables, but I thought the stripes really gave it something extra. 
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Stripes!  I thought that was perfect, brown and cream stripes to keep things a little more refined.  One of my friend’s favorite colors is safety orange, so I thought a small nod in that direction would be nice as well.  I did an orange edging at both ends of the scarf and orange fringe.  In retrospect for better visual appeal, I wish I had made more fringe, but I also hate pushing fringe into my coat on a cold day.
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As I had been thinking about the hat and yammering on to people about it, I kept saying that I wanted the top to look like the top of Santa’s bag.  Gathered, with an orange string tying it closed.  As I poked around for patterns to see how people did cabled bands on knit hats, I found this pattern on Knitty.  I made the whole hat following the directions, but adding stripes.  When I finished, I picked up stitches almost at the top, and then just increased in every stitch or every other stitch every few rows till the gathered top was as long as I wanted it.  I tied it off with some orange i-chord.  I’m glad I went with i-chord instead of just a crocheted chain because it makes it look a little more substantial.  
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The yarn is a baby alpaca, very soft.  I was sad to see this one go, and it may be that I end up with my own alpaca hat if I end up in a colder climate sometime.