Monday, November 30, 2009

Hello! I Am Back!

Have you been pining for exciting posts from me? Or are you like me and a bit overwhelmed and not realizing which blogs are AWOL and which are not.

My Excuses

I have been knitting, quite a bit, since you heard from me last, but a lot has gone on in ye olde real life that has made it hard to take the time to blog. Work got even more intense than usual, there were a bunch of meetings, and then, sadly, my sister-in-law, whom I had never met, passed away the week before Thanksgiving. I spent most of that week consoling my husband and figuring out what to do. Then we rented the RV we'd planned to rent anyway over Thanksgiving a few days early and set off for Alamogordo, NM, where his sister had lived. Being in an RV meant I could do a lot of knitting, but of course, spending lots of time with the family (and managing to cram in a whole week of work while driving and in early mornings) meant no blogging time!

I will say that knitting helps with the stress of being an introvert and meeting a large number of new people. It also passes time well when you have no one to talk to because no one knows you! And some of my projects got folks talking!

What I Worked On

Happy news: I managed to knit that entire Harry Potter scarf in just two weeks (other than the fringe, which I dawdled on until last night). Between the long ride at Kid 'n Ewe and the long trip to New Mexico, I conquered that boring knitting without going crazy. As you can see, it's a BIG and wide one. I hope its recipient enjoys it. I know I brought some holiday stress relief to the friend who had planned to try to knit it!

Once that was done, I got on a finishing kick and finished up those socks in the Inspiration yarn. I immediately started wearing them, so I never got around to taking a glamor shot of them. Suffice to say, they are soft, comfortable and practical. They go with most of my clothing, so I predict that they will get a lot of wear (unlike, say, those shiny silver ones).

OK, I hope you are sitting down. When I finished those, I did NOT start a new pair of socks. Yes, shocked readers, that is right. For the first time in years and years I have zero socks on the needles. Now, there is yarn and needles waiting to start my next socks, so there will be some soon, but nope, I didn't start them!

Instead, I started on a project for my dear college student son. Last spring he had asked for shiny purple gloves, and I'd ordered the yarn for them at that time. I had sort of hoped he would forget, but a few weeks ago, he asked about them, I figured since I'd be seeing him over Thanksgiving and could measure his fingers, now would be the time to work on them. As you can see, I finished one glove. I ended up knitting the glove pattern from Not Just Socks, which I had made before. However, it came out huge when I went up to a size 1 needle. In fact, using size 0 the gloves are definitely sized for a man's hand.

I guess that the previous pair I made (which aren't on Ravelry, so I can't check) I must have used 000s, because they fit perfectly. (Hey, I have a photo taken on my New Mexico trip of me wearing those, so here they are.)

The shiny purple glove brought great amusement to teens we visited, but Tuba Boy proved to them that real men DO wear purple sparkles! So...I am finished with one glove, and they fit his fingers perfectly. I coped very well with having to knit half of it twice, since it gave me stuff to do on the trip. Now, on the second glove, I am ready to start the pinkie, but I am totally distracted by the next project!

I couldn't help it...I had to start the Belleza vest pattern I got with the Ellie yarn from Brooks Farm at Kid 'n Ewe. It is so beautiful...not copper, but bronze. And it feels wonderful. Silk and wool is one of my favorite combinations. It is endlessly fascinating to me how the thick and thin parts create different textures. Where it is all thin, the yarn is see-through, but where it is thick, it's very puffy. It's fun. I was surprised that no one had put the pattern in Ravelry but went ahead and added it. I seem to be on a run of knitting the only version anyone ever makes of things. I'm the only one who made those patterned gauntlets from Knitter's, and have only just become one of two people to make the Bridget cardigan. Huh.

Anyway, I don't have a photo of the Belleza project yet, since I haven't done enough repeats to make it look like anything (it's knit in one piece from the bottom up, so I am knitting long rows), but that will give you something to look forward to next time. Which will be soon, honest.


To my friends on whose blogs I usually comment: I will be back reading soon! I will read every word!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Annual Kid 'n Ewe Report

It's November again, and that means the Kid 'n Ewe festival is going on at the Kendall County Fairgrounds in Boerne, Texas. I would hate to miss the chance to buy yarn from local alpaca ranchers and other Texas vendors, so I was quite relieved to realize my tarot workshop was last weekend, not this weekend! Whew, no conflict.

The original plan this year was to go with friends Tina and Deana, but Tina had to stay home and watch her gall bladder surgery incision heal. So, Deana and I met up at the LYS, tossed a coin to decide who drove, and set off on our trip.

I would have been glad to drive, but was relieved that Deana had to, mainly because I am knitting an immense and not-too-exciting project. I agreed to help out my church friend Alyssa out with her Christmas knitting. I feel for her, because she has a toddler and is pregnant, and I remember being in that spot. She is knitting all sorts of dishcloths and such for gifts, and wanted to give one relative a Harry Potter scarf. Then she realized how much knitting that would be. So, I said I'd do it. Using Vanna's Choice 100% acrylic yarn (verdict: less awful than Red Heart). 6 skeins of it. I have to knit 11 stripes of 22 rows each, 70 stitches per round. All circular stockinette. At least changing colors keeps me awake. The 5 hours in the car yesterday helped a lot, and I am almost halfway through (the photo shows what it looked like Friday night, before the long car ride). I will be eternally grateful to Deana for driving!

We had a nice chat and enjoyed what passes for lovely fall scenery in Texas. It was nice that recent rains has actually put water in the lakes, rivers and streams, too. And of course we enjoyed the festival itself!

We enjoyed meeting lots of vendors. I told the Plain & Fancy Wool Co. people thank you personally for finding that additional yarn for finishing my Bridget sweater, and I also bought some more of their stuff, a variegated blue. I keep thinking I would like to make a cardigan like the rainbow one, only smaller and short-sleeved. And maybe in linen stitch instead of garter. MMM, I love linen stitch. We'll see. In any case I got FOUR skeins, so I'd have enough yarn!

I got some neat alpaca, just one skein, but I loved the colorway so I had to get it. It's from Windmill Crest Farms in Seguin, and they spun brown and gray alpaca together. The gray looks quite bluish next to the brown. I want to make a pair of warm gloves from it--there is a pattern in the new Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts magazine that I would like to use, if I can get gauge. (And may I interrupt to say I was shocked to find the magazine was $14.99!)

Another random thing I bought was two skeins of brushed suri alpaca that looks a lot like Kidsilk Haze. I just got an urge to make a white thing. A lacy white thing. We will see when that comes up. Must stop knitting for other people, first, and I have not mentioned that I got asked to make two more pairs of mitts for someone's grandkids. And of course I will, because the grandmother is a sweet old friend.

And a visit to Kid 'n Ewe would NOT be complete without drooling at the Brooks Farm booth. Goodness gracious, I love their yarn. I came very close to buying 6 skeins of Acero sock-weight yarn to make a mitered diamond jacket. But, i just got this one skein of sock yarn, which happens to coordinate with one that I already have...could make a shawl...well, it IS very pretty.

I also got four skeins of a yarn called Ellie, which is 50/50 silk and wool. It's labeled a DK weight, but is thick and thin. They had a vest sample that I really loved. So, I got the pattern and enough yarn to make it. And the yarn. You cannot tell how pretty this color is from the photo. It is green, but with brownish tinges. It looks like copper that has a nice patina on it. I just can't WAIT to work with this stuff. I am really excited by the prospect of making the nice vest. Drool.

Yow, I do get a lot of ideas every year at Kid 'n Ewe! I also saw friends, and that is good.

Oh yeah, while Deana was buying the prettiest batt of wool/silk/etc. I ever saw, I got a necklace. I have misplaced the card from the girl who made it, but she also had drop spindles painted with dragons and other celtic stuff. I really like how the clasp is part of the design on the necklace. And it will go with LOTS of stuff.

ADDED: I found the card for Sally Ball, who made the necklace. Her stuff can be found at and she has fiber, spindles, etc.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Textured Thumbless Mitts Pattern

As promised, here is the pattern for the mitts I made. I hope you enjoy them. If you make them, please link to the pattern on Ravelry, so it will look like someone knits my patterns.

Textured Thumbless Mitts

©2009 by Sue Ann Kendall
Soft and warm unisex mitts using a variety of interesting textures. A good beginning pattern for knit and purl patterns and knitting in the round.
One skein worsted weight yarn (4 oz. skein will make two pairs). I used Malabrigo worsted in the colorway "Hummingbird," which has smaller skeins, and I still didn't use all the skein.

US size 6 circular needles, or size to get 6 stitches per inch. This is most easily done using magic loop or two circular technique.

k = knit
p = purl
st/sts = stitch/stitches
* repeat material between asterisks

Seed stitch (even number of stitches, worked in the round):
Row 1: *k1,p1*
Row 2: *p1,k1*

Stockinette stitch (worked in the round):
Row 1: knit across

Moss stitch (even number of stitches, worked in the round):
Row1-2: *k1,p1*
Row3-4: *p1,k1*

Linen Stitch (even number of stitches, worked back and forth):
Row 1 Slip 1, p across.
Row 2: Slip 1 (as if to purl), *Slip 1 with yarn in front, k1* until last two sts; k2.
Row 3: Slip 1, p across.
Row 4: Slip 1, *k1, slip 1 with yarn in front,* until last st, k1.

Mitts (make two!):

Cast on 34 sts.(40 for larger size). join for knitting in the round, being careful to not twist stitches. (You can divide the yarn among 3 or 4 double points or use Magic Loop, which is how I do it.)
Work in Seed st for 7 rows.
Work in Stockinette st for 14 rows .
Start with Moss stitch, and repeat the pattern rows 4 times (16 rows), ending with row 4.
Purl one row.


Begin working back and forth. This creates the opening for the thumb.
Work 16 rows in linen stitch, ending on Row 3.
Rejoin for circular knitting and KNIT Row 4 from the front of the mitts.
Purl one row.
Work 4 rows in Stockinette st and then 4 more rows in Seed st.
Bind off loosely in Seed st. If you knit tightly, consider using a larger needle to bind off.

Weave in the ends, and you are done! Optionally, you could single crochet around the thumb hole. I've done that on some of the later ones I made.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mitts and More Mitts

Another week of not a lot of knitting due to that darn work. But, that pays for yarn, so no real complaints!

I did manage to finish those fingerless mitts I was working on last week. Here they are.

It is hard to believe they are made from the same two skeins of yarn, isn't it? At least on the second one you can see the fair isle pattern a lot better. I still haven't managed to block them, so they are a bit wrinkly.

There was a good bit of yarn left. Enough for at least one more using the same main and secondary color, probably enough for two if I switched. I may well try a third one and see if it blended with either lefty or righty, then decide to make it a left or right based on that. Or, I can give these to some eccentric friend or family member who likes to wear fraternal knitted items! These are quite pleasant to make, and would be nice in any bulky yarn combination, I'm sure.

I was surprised to see that I am the only person who has made this pattern on Ravelry! I guess I am a pioneer.

The next photo you see is what I worked on yesterday at the yarn shop and finished today. It's fingerless mitts with no thumb, just a slit. You could make these flat and sew them up (and I did make one pair like that a while back), but I did them in the round. I based these on a pattern I saw online, but I have changed the length, the stitch patterns and how it is constructed, so I think it would be safe to share the pattern when I am done with the second one.

The yarn is some yummy Malabrigo in the colorway "Hummingbird" that I got at Yarnorama in Paige a while back. I bought 4 skeins of it and 4 skeins of a dark color that I was thinking of making a two-color cardigan with, but I think I can spare this skein for a favorite teen who loved this color. The lovely hand model is Lee.

I just used a variety of my favorite knit and purl patterns, plus my favorite linen stitch on the hand portion. This would be a good project to familiarize a newish knitter with knitting in the round and doing simple patterning. It would also be a great stash buster for quick gifts!

After this project, I have some gifts to get moving on, which should be fun. I may have a lot more mitts in my future, too. Kids like them!

And finally, since I keep changing how I look, here's yet another photo of my head. I got most of my hair cut off, because it had been dyed so much that it was not happy, and the length was just not good for my fine hair. It's much happier now. We did our best to put a streak in the front, which will continue to grow out with my new gray streak in the front of my head. It's my hope that I can stop dyeing my hair and just enjoy how I actually look from now on. we will see how long that lasts, of course.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Starting and Finishing

Finally I had a bit more time to knit this week, even with 12-hour work days. I was thrilled to finish the Vilai socks. It was pretty nerve-wracking there for a while, because I could see holes in my skin of yarn toward the end. I had no idea if there would be enough yarn to finish them. But, as you can see, there was. I had I guess two yards left (I originally estimated three, but two is more like it).

You can see that these are really nice socks. They came out a bit large--I would suggest anyone using the Glam Grrl yarn consider a sock designed for sport weight, not fingering weight. I am happy with the shiny aspect, though!

I think these are worth another photo! If you can't see all the patterning, click to see the enlarged photo. You can see the silver shining on my legs. Oooh, ahhh. With these socks, I honestly don't care if I get a lot of wear out of them. They were just so much fun to knit. I really loved the pattern and the chart. It was just hard enough to be engaging but easy enough to enjoy working on while watching RV and stuff. I recommend this pattern highly! And you can bet that my next complex socks will be from the Sock Innovation Book. I actually think I am making the next pattern in the book, Angee. It's going to be in navy blue Pagewood Farms sock yarn--not so thick!

I also finished another sock, the first in the pair of plain socks that I work on when I am unable to concentrate. These just FEEL great. It's just merino sock yarn, but it sure feels good, and is incredibly easy to knit with. It's from Intention Yarns (made by Lime & Violet) and is called Simplicity. I like simple socks with a plain foot and a 2x2 rib top, so they fit with the name and intention of the yarn! I am having a dickens of a time with the second sock. First, I started the gusset (they are toe-up) and realized I had switched from doing the increases on one side to the other. So, I ribbed all that off and did it right. Then I started the heel and managed to get it quite off center. So, I get to re-do that, too. Good thing I am liking that yarn, huh.

And finally, I decided I wanted to so something fun. I think I already mentioned that I found this pattern in the Fall 2009 Knitter's Magazine that used yarn I already had. I decided to go ahead and make those, just for fun. The pattern is called Wave Gauntlets, and is quite simple. Kits up fast in the bulky yarn. When I only went down two sizes of needles, they still seemed pretty big, so I went down four sized. This way the end of the gauntlet is still fairly wide, but the part on my hand fits well.

Since it's a two-color pattern, I need to block it to see it in its best light, but the photo at least shows the waves. In person, it just looks like colorful globs. I guess the yarns don't contrast enough. And I was not real happy that the thumb ended up such a different color. I guess we will just have to see what colors happen to pop up in the second one. They certainly won't be identical twins. Looking at the yarn, I may be able to get a second pair out of the yarn, and make another pair to give away.

We had a fun Halloween at the yarn shop. Cindy did a lot of face painting, and lots of us (even me) ended up either very lovely or very scary, whichever we desired. She is quite an artist. Oh, what the heck, here's a photo of me. It is intended to go with my fortune teller outfit.

Everyone looked beautiful in their ensembles!

One thing that I regret about becoming so valuable at work is that I have to work long hours some days, so I miss out on Wednesday knitting. And next week I have to go to a work dinner, so I'll miss it again. I miss the camaraderie and the relaxing conversations! I have a tarot workshop next Saturday, so I may not be able to hit the yarn shop next Saturday, and I do believe the wonderful Kid-n-Ewe is the next Saturday after that. I hope I can round up someone willing to go with me (most of the group events these day's don't include me--my fault for not being around much, I am sure!)

Hmm, leaving my post on a whiny note--sorry 'bout that!It looks like I have another set of mitts for a teen to knit, then I think I want to make a scarf with the handspun Jody gave me a few weeks ago. Who knows what else.