Sunday, January 31, 2010

Instant Recycling's Gonna Get You

charcoal grey legwarmer take 2I was mere inches away from finishing the first of a pair of Lisa Gaskell's Les Cables de Faux (Rav) legwarmers for a frosty friend in Calgary. Feeling pretty proud of myself, I was. Though it is a simple pattern easily memorized, my Swiss-cheese memory seemed to keep getting erased after each 3-row segment.

Once it clicked that I was over-complicating things by merely thinking I couldn't knit without referring to the instructions, I was on cruise control. Then I re-read her email with the sizing information and discovered something that the back of my monkey brain stored but refused to acknowledge: calf circumference is 14 inches. Fourteen. And I was on my merry way making a 9 inch circumference legwarmer. I know she asked for snug but that size could impair one's circulation.

Ripping ensued until I realized I could cheat rewinding to smooth out the bumps by re-knitting as I unraveled. It's not like I was making a different pattern that required smooth stockinette. There will be bumps. I may not enjoy having to play do-over but I think this instant recycling could catch on. Details when I'm actually done. Maybe she'll even model them for us (hint, hint!).

Remember crochet?

I was hoping I'd have a chance to do a few squares from "200 Crochet Blocks" compiled by Jan Eaton. When I originally got the book, I went through it like a mad woman, placing sticky notes on every page that I thought might possibly, remotely be used for some future something or other.

Then the call came in early January. I finally had the chance to break out my Clover Soft Touch hook (size F / 3.75 mm) and get busy. Not sure what I'll make but oh-you-kid, I'm loving the simple tactile experience of Textured Bluebells.

There is downside, and that's the fact that my hands are so out of practice with the hooking and whatnot that they cramp up after working too long. The only way to get past the cramping is to get back into crochet on a regular basis. Until then, it's rest 'em and rub 'em.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

How the french bread cut my finger..

...and other food-related knitting.

It was just one of those unexpected things. I was so hungry by the time I got home with my lunch and the golden-crusted baguette that I didn't take the time to cut off a proper piece. As I rudely ripped into the loaf, leaving a jagged edge, I felt a quick jab at my left index finger. I figured it was my imagination and thought how funny it would be to fashion a knife out of bread then crumble the evidence (too many forensic cop shows).

Later on, as I sat knitting my Super Cupcake cowl, I noticed that the yarn kept catching on my finger. Upon closer inspection, I saw what looked like a splinter and a little dot of blood. It wasn't my imagination. The french bread actually had cut my finger and left a little bit of itself behind as evidence! Laugh if you must, but it took a week for that sucker to properly heal.

Despite the aforementioned grievous bodily harm and a continuously cantankerous shoulder, I managed to finish both the cowl and the slouchy hat, making this pair the second of my Chicago winter warrior gear.

ChicKnits Super Cupcake hat and cowlYarn: Lorna's Laces - (2) 225 yd. / 114g skeins in the Vera colorway
Needles: 16" circular sizes 7 and 8US / 4.5 and 5.0 mm; size 8 dpns to finish
Stitch: Shaker rib

If you're new to Shaker rib (or any of the other brioche-like stitches), it takes some getting used to the whole "knit one below (k1b)" business. It may be counter-intuitive but go ahead and drop that stitch. It'll work out in the end. Promise. The only tricky part you might encounter (or at least I did) comes when you stop paying attention and purl the k1b and knit the purl. Hopefully you find your mistake before you've finished the round. If not, my advice is to frog back to the purl row.

My only other admonition? If you knit loosely as I am doing at present, take the time to check your gauge. Seriously. You see how my cowl looks a bit, um, large? That's because it is. It turned out to be wider than the pattern's 26" circumference and hence not quite as face-hugging as I would have liked. The fault lies not in the pattern, but in myself.

I did a whole lot better on the hat. I tightened up my knitting and plowed through to the finish on that swell chapeau within five days, which is fast for me these days. Love, love, love everything about this hat. It has just the right amount of insouciant slouch. I think it looks adorable and will definitely be baking up more of these in the future.

Now, back to the baby dress.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things That Make Me Feel Good

Shiny silver buttons

New coat. New buttons.
This cute cadet-style coat from Old Navy came with dull brass buttons that did nothing for it. See for yourself. I consulted a friend and M&J Trimming (love them!) to find the perfect antique silver flower buttons. Color me happy because these little things turn the coat from blah to beautiful.

Expressing myself with color

Drip Painting Detail
And oh, what color! As mentioned previously, I'm taking an abstract art class with the goal of finding parts of myself I thought had left the building. The most recent assignment was to use the drip and splatter techniques of Jackson Pollock. The rest was up to us; how we used color, movement and layering to create with purpose. I know it's not to everyone's taste but I rather like it.

Finishing another hand knit

Vogue Knitting Seed Stitch Cowl

Pattern: Seed Stitch Cowl from VK Holiday 2009
Yarn: 75 yards of marigold dyed alpaca; 2 skeins of vintage Malabrigo; color unknown
Needles: Size 11US / 8 mm

The main difference between mine and the eye-popping green one in the magazine was the weight of the yarn. I doubled worsted weight to approximate the chunky yarn called for in the pattern. This resulted in a smaller cowl which I actually like better. It fits inside my coat and it's equally useful as a layering piece over a sweater.

I also added the pale marigold alpaca as a carry yarn at the start and finish of the piece. If I hadn't been so lazy, I'd have set up the tripod so you could see how perfectly this goes with the Leaf Beret. This is the second item I've finished in the space of a little over three weeks and, at the the risk of being immodest, I'm pretty proud of myself. To go from nothing to something and enjoying the trip? Happy-making!

Friends like you

Thanks for reminding me that words such as those some anonymous person used were just that: words and nothing more. Thanks for reminding me that I have people in my life who will tell me to move on, let go and forget the small stuff and small minds. Reminding me to remember who I am and am not.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Threads of a Creative Mojo

Sleek. Sexy. Chunky. Fun. Fabulous! These words are all appropriate when describing Vogue Knitting's Holiday 2009 edition. Honestly, they had me at, "Cowl."

Think Big from VK Holiday 2009 preview. Saved to my server.One of these beguiling beauties is just the thing for both gift-giving and stash-busting. Chunky yarns? I has it by the suitcase. Some might say I over-bought. Three hyphenates in four sentences. Too much?

Now, for a brief update on another knitting project: my little friend, the Leaf Beret. I feel like I'm in that commercial for the online genealogical search engine - I finished my first leaf! If you recall, my first attempt did not go well. I went with a Louet sportweight wool this time and the quickie fit checks prove satisfactory. I won't go getting all excited, though. At least, not until that final decrease row. Then I'll be all *happy* dancing, which, for that vision alone, is worth the price of admission.

There is mounting evidence that, while impersonating a certain moribundity, my creative bits ain't dead yet. I started an abstract art class this week. There was an actual live, nude model. Even more, the artist teaching the class actually liked my interpretation of California Expressionism. Go figure.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Starting Over with Marigold Leaves

It's times like these when I feel like a rank amateur.

Indeed, I think it ironic that I'm starting to blossom just when the leaves are falling from the trees. Maybe my circadian rhythm or my satellite reset button. Is. Just. Off.

The Leaf Beret (Ravelry) from knit.1 is the first new thing I've started to knit or crochet since February 2009. Eight months is a long time to take a break from something that once caused a fever of "I've-gotta-make-this-this-and-this-itis."

Truth is, anyone following my ramblings for some time knows the physical stuff has gotten in the way for the past three years off and on. There are more rumblings from the right arm of doom which I'll share should it become necessary. Meanwhile, my personal journey has me knitting again, albeit making one or two rookie mistakes.

1) I love love love Vera's marigold-dyed alpaca. I stick my beak in the center of that ball and take a whiff of the slightly soapy clean wooliness (you yarn sniffers know what I mean). My errors are not the fault of the yarn. I adore alpaca, though I know it's not for everyone. For some reason, I forgot that this is not the most elastic of yarns.

2) I couldn't find my size 3 needles, so I opted for the 2.5's instead. To make up for the smaller needle, I cast on a few more stitches. You can see the next oops coming, can't you?

3) Inelastic yarn + too many stitches = a hat band big enough for a monstrous melon. Frog and rethink.

Not only did I err in yarn choice, it seems my fingers have a little rust in their sense memory. I mean, I was once an old hand with two-circ knitting. I cast on half the stitches on one needle and the other half on the second needle. Knit knit knit. Get to the end of the round and all the flippin' stitches are on one needle. I hate that!


It's on, knitting! I will make that cute beret in time for the coming nasty weather. I will not go quietly. Well, mebbe a bit. It took so long to get here. My marigold leaf beret deserves to come to life.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Come Hither, My Lovelies

Have I been trapped in a black hole? A time warp? A malfunctioning TARDIS? Who knows. What I can say is that I was absolutely astounded to see that I had not posted for over 2 months. In that time, The Poetry Society's Knit a Poem project was completed, my home got a new look and I stopped in to see some crafty friends at Chicago's annual YarnCon.

First up is the Knit a Poem project. It took over 1200 knitted and crocheted letters to spell out the then-secret work of Dylan Thomas’s ‘In my Craft or Sullen Art.’ How appropriate that the medium was the message in a way, as these letters and words connected in a 43 x 28 foot display at London's British Library, highlighting the Society's centennial year.

A coat or two of paint, a bit of caulk and new frames, fixtures and faucets equal a fresh perspective in five rooms of my humble hereabouts. I admit to unfettered, aww-gosh admiration for the results. Even while performing the most mundane of tasks (like brushing my teeth) I look up at the espresso-colored frame of the mirror and think, "That's so cool!"

Mirror In The Bathroom
Dark wood frame and oil rubbed bronze fixtures

The Green Is Gone
Even a humble office deserves a facelift

The Green Is Gone
Crisp white towels and new pewter towel bars

YarnCon began in 2007 ago as a way to, "promote, sell, and celebrate the yarny arts." I made it to historic Pulaski Park Fieldhouse that first year but in the two years hence had fallen off the Chicago creative grid. Turns out I missed my peeps, so I got myself together and headed over to the event.
YarnCon '09 Mosaic
Top: Natalia, co-founder of YarnCon; Lisa, the space and fade dye queen;
Bottom: Jen and Nate of Piddleloop; Lucky Penny Handmades.

After dropping some coin on home front upgrades, I had no intention of buying one darn thing. It had, after all, been months since neither yarn nor patterns nor hooks, books or needles had been purchased. I puffed out my chest, finally immune from the lure. Or so I thought.

YarnCon '09
Let's start on the left with Lisa M's purple to berry goodness, yards of her special fade-dye (or is it space-dye?) blend of merino and tussah silk. Most cuddle-worthy and color intense. Moving to the bottom of the tableau you'll find Vera's handspun and marigold-dyed alpaca. Petting this pale yellow fiber and planting your nose in its midst tells the tale of the close-to-nature, low process yarn from a neighboring farm. Purely delicious.

I picked up Samantha Lyon's feather and fan scarf pattern, Blink (Ravelry link) which would do justice to one of the many sock yarn skeins I already own. It has a flavor of LMKG Chevron but knits up pleasingly on the diagonal.

Could it be that big things do come in small packages? Witness the latest edition of Knitcircus magazine. I'd heard of, but never seen, Knitcircus in person. What drew me to it? Simple. I like the jacket on the cover. The Pinot Noir Bolero by Jaala Spiro looks like something that could be worn quite comfortably. The Ysolda Teague interview is another plus. The editor sat down with Ms. Teague during her recent swing through the Midwest. I'll try to do an expanded review of the 11 patterns in the fall edition a bit later.

So does this mean I'm back? Dunno. Still one day at a time, friends. I admit to missing the vibe, the fiber and thou. This could be a good sign.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Poetry In Motion

Your needles move me.
Secret poem, coming alive
One letter apiece. - Karen B.

Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting, I came across The Poetry Society's "Knit a Poem" project. According to the site, letters are being knit and crocheted by hundreds of hands, with the hope of being assembled into a still-secret poem by October 2009.

They apparently have an urgent need for F, M and U and are still recruiting participants. Kind of interesting, no?

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Monday, June 01, 2009

FO: Make Room For Baby

KT baby blanketIt took me months to complete and I had to battle back against the boredom slog through every stitch in the middle, but I am pretty pleased with how things turned out.

All the mother-to-be asked for was a kelly green hat. I thought to myself, "A hat's not nearly enough," and that's how a quick little knit morphed into a 28" x 34" blanket.

I was a little overwhelmed as I tried to narrow down my blanket options with Ravely's pattern search: must be knit using chunky yarn and freely available. One pattern really stood out for its flexibility and adaptive nature: Thrifty Knitter's Hooded Baby Blanket.

KT baby blanket detailI decided that 400+ people couldn't be wrong. You should see the variations in the Ravelry project listing! One that really caught my eye substituted a 4 x 1 flat ribbing instead of an endless sea of stockinette.

The other thing I really liked was the use of seed stitch for each color change stripe, much like the pattern used in the Dream in Color Tulip Sweater. This lends a subtle, elegant texture element to what could be an otherwise bland swath of knitted fabric.

KT baby hatKT baby bibDespite all the time and effort put into the blanket, I still thought something was lacking. I almost always make a hat and this time was no different - except for the fact that I actually followed a pattern for construction. Yep. Jennifer Braico's Fixation Newborn Hat (Ravelry). Substitute leftover Berroco Comfort Chunky for Cascade Fixation and we have a striped hat with an inch of 4-stitch I-cord on top.

Determined not to make socks this time, I listened to the handful of voices who, in the past, have urged me to take the path of least resistance when it comes to easy-peasy baby gifts: the bib. I have finally seen the light! The bib is your friend - especially if you crochet - because you can knock one of these out in under two hours. Seriously.

The Coats and Clark pattern is called the So-Simple Baby Bib which requires size 3 crochet thread. So not the equivalent of chunky yarn, which is why I reworked gauge to create a bib roughly the same size as the one in the original pattern. If I hadn't, I might have cooked up something suitable for a sloppy adult (like me) who's always wearing tiny bits of food on their shirt. If you're interested in the details for the pattern modifications, just email or PM me.

With the help of needles, hooks and patterns, I turned 7 skeins of chunky yarn into something the mom says she'd be proud to put on her baby. Funny how it took four months to make someones day. I'd do it again, too.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rainy Day Knitting

Thunder and lightening and sheets of rain put me in the mood for some simple knitting with old mystery movies as the backdrop. At present, I'm working on three different projects - a scarf, a baby blanket and this blue garter stitch kerchief:

WIP: Blue kerchief
Sock Hop yarn with matching OPI enamel in "Yoga-ta Get This Blue!"

The yarn is from Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop, the color "In The Skies." The kerchief pattern is a wonderfully adaptive and easy one from Laura Chau. The fingering weight yarn is held double and I'm knitting the kerchief on size 6 US / 4.0 mm circular needles. The only change I'm making is the addition of a k2tog, YO row every 7 garter ridges on the wrong side (even) row. It adds a bit of visual light to the garter fabric.

I really like the fact that, even though it's kind of bleak outdoors, I don't need much light indoors to work up something this pretty.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

FO: Simply 17

When I was in my early teens, my friends and I would go downtown to the movies. Any remaining money we had would be pooled to buy munchies and drinks at the corner snack shop. I always remembered this place because it was a remnant of a bygone era, with its huge neon sign above the door in cotton candy colors, surrounded by blinking marquee lights proclaiming "17."

Today's project put me in the mind of that place because it was also made possible by leftovers. Say hello to "Simply 17," a striped garter stitch scarf:

FO: Simply 17 modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Am I a super-model yet?" - Rocky*


Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky (approx. 1/2 skein) in South Shore (MC) and Lilac (CC)
Needles: (2) 9 US / 5,5 mm bamboo dpns

1. Using MC, cast on 17 stitches
2. Knit MC back to RS edge
3. Pick up CC and knit up and back, creating one ridge
4. Repeat 2 and 3 until piece measures 36" / 92 cm, ending with CC row at RS edge.
5. Pick up MC and continue for another 14" / 36 cm. Bind off and weave in ends.

You'll end up with a petite scarf that is two-thirds subtle stripe and one-third softly variegated (or solid, depending on the yarn you choose).

FO: Simply 17 garter stitch scarf
By the way, Rocky's first turn on the granite catwalk lasted an entire 3 seconds. Harrumph! No cat pants for you!

FO: Simply 17 no longer modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Whaddya mean I won't get paid in tuna???" - Rocky

*Thanks to Monica for the suggestion that Rocky needed a scarf and to domesticat's crew for showing him how it's done.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogging? No. Busy? Yes!

I may have had a major case of timorous writers block, but I certainly did not get bottled up on the crafting front. Hats, neckwarmers, a scarf - even a New Year's trip to Toronto - they all kept me busy. There are a couple of other items in the works but this will do for now.

ThorpeThorpe by Kirsten Kapur

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in South Shore and Lilac (trim)

Once you get past the clumsiness of the 4 stitch cast on, the pattern really flies off your needles.

Instead of braiding the ties, I went with I-cord and mini poms to finish. There's a matching striped garter stitch scarf in progress.

Leftovers Hat and CowlLeftovers Hat by Karen Boykin (Ravelry link)

Yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Natural and Malabrigo Chunky is Dusty Rose

Why “Leftovers”? Because this hat was created from the yarn that remained after I knit the November baby jumper and socks.

This hat is paired with the Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta in the same colors.

Anne in BSA PoppyAnne by MK Carroll

Scarf is crocheted in Blue Sky Alpaca's yummy cotton in the Poppy color.

Admittedly, I simplified the pattern a bit by repeating rows 2-3 instead of proceeding to row 4. Get the pattern. You’ll see.

Columbia BeretColumbia Beret by Sarah Pope

I made a few small modifications to this well-written pattern. Since I used a slightly heavier weight yarn and size 9 (5.5mm) needle, I cast on 72 instead of 84 stitches. I also did 7 increase rows instead of 8 and grafted the remaining 12 stitches at the top.

I opted against the large bow in the pattern in favor of a small crochet chain twist bow. I also used purple ribbon to decorate the garter stitch brim.

Almost Ruffled by Laura ChauJust Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau

My friend Lisa Mendez gave this beautiful fade-dye turquoise to grey yarn. I've been waiting for the right project for at least 2 years when along came Ruffles.

Although you'll be working 3600 stitches by the time you finish, you'll be so pleased with the result, you won't care. Mostly.

KB at Lettuce KnitSpeaking of Laura Chau, I actually met her during the Boxing Day sale at Toronto's Lettuce Knit. Only problem is that I didn't realize the person ringing up my two skeins of Fleece Artist was, in actuality Ms. Chau. I even had her call a taxi for us. It was not until we drove off that my friend bellamoden told me what was what.

Yikes! did I feel like a goof. I thought about calling to apologize - not for being mean or anything because I was not. Just like, "Hey, I love your patterns. Sorry I didn't recognize you."

Hmm. Thank Jeebus for second thoughts. Pathetic fangirl decided it was best to leave well enough alone.

Now, for this feline interlude.
"For me, every day is boxing day!" - Rocky

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Little Things

If you've ever been away from something for a long time, you'll understand when I tell you how difficult it becomes to return to it.

When it came to relating crafting stories, I felt dried up; choking on the sameness and wanting something else. I kept waiting for the spark of inspiration or the kind of project deserving of your attention because I figured that's what was needed for me to legitimately re-engage. That is, until I observed the pure joy displayed by a 2 year old girl when I gifted her with a colorful pair of mitts the other night. She rolled around and modeled and mugged for the camera, all the while flashing her infectious smile.

FO: Luxy's Mitts
A girl and her new "sleevies"
They're little things - perhaps 4 inches in length - but they (and she) reminded me that I didn't need a grand gesture or an intricate something requiring serious examination. Yes, she put them on backwards but she no matter. Luxy was having fun. In that moment, I found clarity. This isn't life and death. It's just the occasional missive that I put out into the world; my "Hello. I've missed talking with you." Could it be any simpler than that?

Lorna's Laces Bulky (South Shore and Lilac) - leftovers from Thorpe (Ravelry link)
Four size 10 US / 6 mm dpns

Toddler Mitts in LL bulkyCast on 20 stitches, placing 10 on one needle and 5 each on the remaining 2 needles. Join in a circle and knit 12 rows of k1,p1 ribbing.

If you've ever made mittens in the round, you know the rest: increase for the palm, make room for the thumb then knit rounds until you reach the appropriate length. I topped out these mitts with 3 garter ridges and a little single crochet, but you can do ribbing or ribbon or roll edge - whatever your heart desires.

For those not comfortable with these loosey-goosey instructions, I heartily suggest you add Ann Budd's "Knitters Handy Book of Patterns" to your library. It can be a lifesaver!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FO: Baby Girl Gear

FO: Jumper w/ matching socks
Patterns: Baby Jumper (off-site) and Toes-ty (off-site) baby socks
Yarn: Malabrigo chunky, 1.5 skeins in dusty pink; Lorna's Laces bulky, .25 skein in natural.
Needles: Size 9 US dpns and 20" circular
Mods: The jumper pattern called for much bulkier yarn and size 17 US needles. I cast on the number of stitches for size 3 to make up for the change in gauge. I also repeated the 3-row garter pattern at the top of the skirt decreases. Lastly, I secured two perfectly matched buttons to the straps.

No major story here. The baby jumper knit up in a matter of 2 or 3 days, as did the little socks. Except, well, I did make three of them.

You see, my gauge was way off on attempt number one because I used size 10.5 US needles and the sock ended up 25% bigger than it ought. It has taken on a second life as a catnip toy, hence the 3 days: make one, oops; rest a day, then make two.

In truth, these items were finished and delivered nearly one week ago. I've been slow to the blog because of hurried attempts to make a hat from the leftovers, which were plentiful. Although I finished the hat (much to the chagrin of my right arm and left wrist), I ended up pulling out the neat grafting and frogging the top off. I simply couldn't reconcile myself to the shape. It put me in the mind of a tea cozy. The problem? I did not decrease soon enough. Once my limbs recover, the fix will be in. Again. Believe it or not, I started my decreases too soon the first time around. Sheesh!

Happy Tuesday, friends.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mile 24

The Chicago Marathon was held this past weekend. This fall tradition brought over 45,000 runners of all skill levels right past my home. See, I happen to live along the last leg of the 26.2 mile course. You reach my pad, the race is almost over!

Relevance? I'm simply trying to draw a parallel between a coincidence of habitat location and the difficulty I'm having in drumming up sufficient motivation or stamina to go the distance on three half-finished projects.

One of the items in question is a sweater for this little guy, barely one month old. I already gave his parents the hat, thinking that would spur me toward the finish line having made the commitment and all. This crocheted gem will be over-sized to ensure longer wear opportunities. Or maybe, it'll be a perfect fit by the time I actually finish it. Laugh with me.

I started the toddler mitts (also half done) months ago - like it wasn't even summer yet - because I observed how another neighbor's child likes to put socks on her hands like mittens sans thumbs. I figured I'd just knock out a pair of fingerless mitts so she'd be able to pull something on but still do fingery stuff which is sort of a problem when you're using socks. She's almost 2. I'm aiming for Christmas. Yes, Christmas THIS year.

And wouldn't you know it, another neighbor had a baby around the same time as the child above was born - same week, in fact. In my head, I'm already thinking about which Debbie Bliss patterns would best showcase the peachy colored cashmerino in stock that was just waiting for a little girl. Argh! Must. Stop. Wheels. Turning.

I'm out of control, of that there is no doubt. It's not that I buy yarn and patterns with wild abandon. My major flaw these days appears to be project paralysis. So tell me, my peeps: is there a cure?

By the way, have you heard about Aspen, a yarn new this Fall from Classic Elite? The yarn is temptingly soft as a baby's bum super chunky wool / alpaca blend and it comes in a small palette of tasteful, subdued colors. I already have a couple of ideas for cute designs...

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Pop Goes The Shoulder

It's a disconcerting sound and feeling, that "Oh, crap!" popping twinge of something anatomically out of place. When you're this|close to finishing another little doodad, you just suck it up and deal with the consequences later. I might have been pushing a bit too hard but I think this headband was worth it.

FO: Beaded Headband
10 grams each of light blue (2137) and navy blue (2625) Cascade Fixation
Approximately 50 clear size 3/0 seed beads
Size 5 US circular needle

Cast on an odd number of stitches, based on the size of your head and the amount of negative ease you desire. At 22 inches, my noggin's a bit bigger than average. My aim was for the headband to stay on (but not cut off my circulation), so I hit on 95 stitches as my magic number. Your mileage may vary.

I joined the stitches and knit the first row. Next came 7 rows in seed stitch, all in color A. Switch to color B, knit 3 rows, adding the beads in the second row. Yes, I used the crochet method to place the beads.

Switching back to color A, knit two rows. Reattach color B and use both colors, create a mock rib in a "knit 1, purl 1" pattern for 5 rows. Lastly, using color B, repeat 7 row seed stitch and bind off in pattern. You'll end up with a headband that's roughly 2.5 inches wide.

There are many variations possible such as number of colors, bead placement, border pattern, etc. Put your own mark on it. I'd be interested to know what you come up with if you don't mind sharing. Whether you have short hair or long, this is a perfect little accessory to keep you looking sporty chic and pulled together throughout the coming summer months.

I checked my stash of Cascade Fixation left over from a previous knit-along. This won't be the last of the instant gratification headbands. I just need to either learn how to involve my left hand more by knitting in the Continental style or hold the yarn and needles less tightly.

By the way, Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate, be their children scaly, furry, feathered or smooth.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thirty Stitches

Knit Textures
Blue Sky Alpacas' Organic Cotton (l-r: Bone, Espresso, Willow, Sage)

Thirty stitches. That's how many I cast onto my size 9 (US) straights. Thirty stitches. If you do the math, that means I've got quite a few possibilities for texture and pattern blocks to make up my scrummy organic cotton throw. So far, I've combined 5 (bone), 6 (willow and sage) and 15 (espresso) stitch patterns. Believe it or not, I've got my eye on a 30 stitch leaf motif that should be quite striking.

Originally, my plan was to create four squares since I settled on four colors of yarn, which is, by the way, some of the most deliciously soft, plump cotton I've ever tried. You may have read about it like I did at Knit and Tonic. Wendy showed a basket full of the sportweight version of this yarn, whereas I opted for the plumper worsted weight. I kid you not. This is the softest, most pet-worthy cotton yarn I've ever touched. No "rough and ready" business here.

Ah, but I digress. I was at "four squares, four colors." As I looked through various stitch dictionaries, I realized just how foolish I was to limit myself - especially after doodling with a few different stitch-number scenarios and hitting on 30 as "just right!" I've picked out eight patterns and will assign each color one of two options. That should provide enough textural diversity and, along with the approximately 1200 yards of yarn, quite a patchwork of 16" x 8" strips: soft enough and varied enough to make for an interesting knit.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Would You Do?

If something called Dream In Color "Baby Lace" landed in your mailbox, along with silver lined beads? If you suddenly realized that, if your design IS accepted, you'll have to knit like the wind but you have no pattern? You swatch. With your vague idea and an arsenal of needle sizes as you try to find the right combination to work with your "not quite lace, not quite fingering" yarn.

Edited to add: Great news! Just found out this afternoon that the designs have been accepted for publication! Whoot! I'd happy dance if I could!

Lace and Beads
The color is called, "In Vino Veritas" or loosely translated from the Latin, "In wine, there is truth." Despite my attempts to remove stray bits of cat hair, some found its way into the photo. Ignore those. Instead, enjoy the subtle shadings of the yarn which run from plum to merlot with a bit of claret for body.

The beads are from Beadworks. In the 100 gram vial, they look sort of rainbow-flavored and, frankly, I was a bit disappointed - that is, until I started to place them in pattern using the crochet hook method. I do like this method of beading, mostly because you don't wear out the yarn by sliding beads along the length of it and you don't have to know what you need in advance. Much more advantageous for "sketching" with your knitting, which is how I spent my weekend.

What's on your needles?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

For The Love Of Wool

If we've chatted for more than five minutes, it would become apparent that I have quite a few interests. Alongside history, languages, travel, social justice and politics lives my life-long interest in fashion. Oh, the incongruity! Anyway, as I was going through my daily reads, I found this item at The First Post: Wonder Woollens. Apparently, knits - especially big, comfy knits - are all the rage in Britain. Does this surprise? After all, it is the home of Rowan, Jaeger, Debbie Bliss and Blue-faced Leicester.

Quite coincidentally, big, hearty, like-a-hug sweaters have been much on the mind of late. I credit Rebecca with the term, "February sweater" because it's about that time in the Midwest when you are really and truly sick of winter. It loses all its pretense of chilly charm, the stuff formerly known as snow has now become something definitely not from nature and you just want it to be over. Period. All I have to do now is decide on the perfect pattern. Maybe Twist? Or the Dollar and a half cardigan? The yarn has been selected from stash after much gnashing of teeth over plunking down additional dinero on tweed. I think it'll do just fine.

Burgundy Jaeger Shetland Aran
In the meantime, the race is on the finish two gifts in two weeks because I'm scheduled for a lumbar laminotomy and discectomy on December 10th. Since the new scarf is taking longer than anticipated, I may switch to *gasp* crochet to do the majority of it, then switch back to knitting to mirror the start.

Black & Blue Scarf
I'll let you know later this week what I end up doing. It could be an interesting texture mix of hook and needle.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jack Is Three

Jack, wearing birthday hoodie
Although he can't quite get the fingers right just yet, Jack is three years old. He was a perfect little gentleman for taking time out from opening presents to model his birthday hoodie for me. It's not as roomy as I would have liked, but Jack's mom assures me that he'll be able to wear it next year as well. If not, his baby sister will.

Cheers, little dude! Thanks for being such a good sport. Jack really did go out of his way because, at 3, he could care less about clothes. All he wanted was to get back to opening birthday presents with his cousins.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Proof Of Life

I realize my last few posts have clearly not be of knitted items. I even recall stating that, though I had begun Mona sock number two, it was unlikely that I would be posting a sock progress shot.

Mona Socks - v1.67
As you can see, I've had a change of heart - mostly because I feel the need to show that there is a bit of knitting life Chez Moi. I might be "The Little Engine That Could" since I'm met with creaky resistance in my right shoulder with each and every stitch, but I will certainly persevere.

Understand that I'm not complaining so much as frustrated by a lack of alacrity:
  • in finishing this simple, beautiful pattern for my Sockapalooza pal
  • in picking up where I left off weeks ago with the Forest Canopy Shawl
  • with being able to start a 2-color sock design I have in mind
  • with being able to finally make a Clapotis with the lovely Blue Heron beaded rayon I purchased some time ago.
Ah, well. At least I found a hair style I like. You read it here. The Heidi braids are coming off Thursday afternoon.

One more thing. I've noticed there seem to be a rash of companion animal money shots sprouting up on certain knitters blogs (links via Stumbling Over Chaos). Who knew that I unknowingly got ahead of that trend 2 weeks ago with Nikita's tummy? That's me. A trendsetter!

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Paean to Pain

ad about knitting,

But pain's return gives me pause.

All projects? Full stop!

The lovely yarn taunts,

The hanks, heavy with promise

Of gifts left unmade.

Lisa Souza Merino Sock, Mountain Colors Bearfoot)

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