Thursday, October 28, 2010


If there are any readers still out there, I am alive. I am just not knitting much any more. Working on the same two socks I was last time I posted, and still baffled as to how to get the shawl to move forward.

Events have just made knitting painful for me, so I am taking a break. I am enjoying my fish tank, laughing at and with Beccano and his sweet girlfriend, chaperoning for  marching band, and spending time with my spouse.

Also I am singing a lot. Finally a rock star. Well, sorta.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Socking It to Me

Perhaps I am getting back into the knitting a bit. I moved along on the plain pair of socks I am making and started a patterned pair--getting braver again!

I must have measured poorly on my previous socks, as I tried to write down when to start the gusset on a toe-up pair to make the sock fit just right. I ended up making the gusset at least a half to 3/4 of an inch too soon. Gee, can't I even get a basic sock right? The good news is that I now have memorized the number 6, as in six inches to starting the gusset. OK. Six. Got it. More good news is that I just made the gusset longer and the heel a bit deeper as a consequence, and by gosh, the sock fits just fine.

My incredibly white leg wearing the foot portion of a sock in Trekking XXL
I am really, really liking this colorway. It really looks like smoldering embers to me, so it fits with the Flaming Desire theme of the socks I showed last entry. I'm now working my way up the leg in a 3x1 rib, which I like because it looks more stockinette like but does hug the leg more than a plain stockinette leg does. Thus, it will sag less when I wear it, and I do plan to wear these nice, utilitarian sockies.

I guess the next pair I am working on also fits in with the theme of heat. I am using some really lovely yarn. It is Fleece Artist Somoko, which is a blend of wool, mohair and silk, in a colorway called "Sun."

Beginning of Devon sock pattern in Fleece Artist Somoko.
This sock is top-down, and comes from Cookie A's Sock Innovation book, a pattern called Devon, which has yarn-overs on every row. This will be my third pair of socks from this book. I am enjoying going through the book very much. Cookie A says that this pattern works in both solid and variegated yarns, which is why I picked this yarn. Also, it's just plain cheerful. I had almost chosen a more subtle green peppercorn skein, when the happiness of this hank called out to me. While I did once make a sock with some yellow in it, this will definitely be my first orange-yellow one. I am wearing more colors like this lately, so I think in the fall this one will actually get some use. I'll find something good for that other yarn.

I am finding it fun to limit myself to the yarn I have on hand. I have so much sock yarn that it's not exactly horrible to have to choose from what is already there. I'm trying to slowly use up all my workhorse yarns (the Opals and Trekkings and such) and intersperse them with the exotics and hand-dyed ones. This Somoko is definitely exotic. It feels very different from the Trekking in nice sturdy wool and nylon. Having a plain and a fancy sock to work on is perfect--I get lots done on the easy one while riding in the car with my son as he improves his driving, waiting for seats in restaurants, etc., and the complex one keeps my mind of the violent scenes in the Angel television series that Lee and I are now watching every single episode of, thanks to our friend Kira selling it to us.

Perhaps NEXT weekend will be the "get that shawl going again" weekend! Thanks to all who commented on the last post in person, on Facebook or by email. It's nice to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knitting Hiatus

I have been having a hard time with knitting. Every time I knit I start missing people I'll probably not get to see again any time soon, and it saddens me. On the other hand, I am glad to have moved to a different place in my head, and enjoying more time with my family--it's been so much fun having both boys at home this summer. When I am not working, we have done a lot of fun stuff. One, I am teaching Beccano to drive (parent-led course). That leads to a lot of bonding. We are almost done, too! Two, we cleaned the heck out of my 55-gallon aquarium and are making it a much happier home for fishies. That is taking a while, but fish have lived there a whole month now without dying! And three (the big one) we re-did our kitchen! If you want to see the pictures, going from "before" to "after," go here. Here's the aquarium.
Aquarium before fish and before I put in more plants.

I have tried twice to get back on track with the shawl I am working on. I made a mistake on a transition row between patterns and just can't get the row right. I have ripped and ripped, and ripping double decreases leads to more issues. My plan, when I have a few hours to myself, is to put a marker between each repeat next time. And just stop and count EVERY repeat until I get that row right. Then I should be able to move on. But, I feel pretty incompetent to not be able to knit a perfectly straightforward pattern.

I did finish two pairs of socks since we last interacted. Here are the Flaming Desire socks and the Bruce socks that I finished.
Flaming Desire Socks in Pagewood Farm yarn.

Note that the tops differ. I like the one with more flame points, but not enough to re-knit them.
I have a picture of these on my feet, but it's on my other camera. These are Knitivity sock yarn.

Also, I have finished a pair that I hadn't even shown the start on. These are ankle socks in Panda Soy. I like the yarn a lot, though it likes to unravel itself and you have to take care to not split it. The fabric is really soft and has a wonderful feel. I look forward to wearing them next time I wear shoes that socks go with.
I need a better photo, but you get the idea. Generic toe-up socks, ankle length.
Yes, you read me right. I am not wearing socks this summer. I don't even want to LOOK at stuff I knitted. The only thing I have worn is my red cotton top that looks so nice you can't tell it was hand-made.

Don't worry. I'll be back to knitting and loving it again at some point. I've taken little breaks a couple of other times in my life. 18 years ago when I had small children, for example, I did a lot of needlepoint. Right now I am playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. That is totally NOT productive, and I don't recommend it.

I've started another simple pair of socks in some interesting Trekking yarn. It's a prototype of a colorway called Autumn Fire.
It is knitting up very pretty--mostly gray but with lovely spots of red and purple. I will try to show it when I have more to show.

I'd love to hear from any readers still hanging around. I have been getting a lot of spam comments, and I sure wish Blogger would block those!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little to Say

It's been hard to write anything for a couple of weeks. All I am doing on the shawl is trying to rip back three very long rows (I started a new section while chatting with friends, and mis-counted, but didn't realize it until the next pattern row). I have had very little energy to engage in that--I need really good light, so I can't do it in the evenings, either.

I have worked some on the Flaming Desire sock, so some day it may get done.

But, I have had a lot of rehearsals, meetings, and events in the evenings. Plus I am teaching the young son to drive a stick shift, which takes a while. Work is great, and I am glad I have it and my great colleagues, but it's been extra, extra busy.

I will get back to a knitting groove soon, I am sure.

Since I don't have much interesting to say about knitting, anyway, taking a break won't be a disaster. I've realized lately that I am either too controversial and irritate people, or so boring that even I don't want to read my own posts.

I will leave you with non-knitting content. Lee gave me this CD and DVD combo for a Mother's Day gift. In it, James Taylor and Carole King perform live songs from their 1971 albums, which happen to be the first two albums I ever owned. The original back-up musicians even appear with them! If you want to know what was good about 1970s music, check into this!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

So. How's That Shawl Going?

Well, blog-reading friends, I've let you down this week, but I worked so much this week that there was no time for luxuries like typing about knitting, and few minutes for actual knitting. I am really loving my job now that I have lots of work and really fun challenges, but sometimes it WILL cut into those hobbies!

But look here! I actually have been working on the Vernal Equinox whenever I have a few minutes. I've spent some really pleasant time sitting on our front porch, watching the birds and seeing what new colors will come up in the Jojoland Melody yarn. So, here is where I am:
Vernal Equinox in Progress
It sort of looks like one of those candy citrus slices, doesn't it? It's too big to stretch out completely, even on the really long circular needle, but you can get the idea. I am halfway through Clue 5 at this point. I've been through two purples and am in the second green section, but I do hope some blue shows up in that skein, somewhere!

I tried to stretch it out a bit and get a close-up so you can see the pattern a little better, but really, like most lace shawls, it won't be spectacular until it gets blocked.
A Little Closer View
I have been truly enjoying knitting this shawl. I like the yarn a lot better than I thought I would, and I am finding the clear acrylic Knitpicks needles make laceweight easier to manipulate, at least for me. I am not struggling with the double decreases as much as I did on the Aeolian or the red one that died. The plastic grabs just enough that I can pull on it and get the needles securely through two stitches without dropping any. OK, I have dropped one stitch so far. Not bad.

I also started a crochet project, my next charity blanket. Here is one of the squares:
Crochet Motif

The photo is rather washed out, since I took it with the Blackberry, but you can see it looks like a little flower in a square. I am using that bunch of Marble yarn in different colors to make the motifs, which I will edge in black single crochet when I am done. The James C. Brett Marble yarn is nice to work with, especially considering it's 100% acrylic. I can see why so many people I know have used the chunky version for sweaters.

The pattern for the crochet motif came from the book Under Cover: 60 Afghans to Knit and Crochet, which has no author--it's one of those Sixth and Spring collections. The pattern is called Harlequin Diamonds. I got it at Half Price Books, so look for it in used book stores. Well, look! You can get it from after all. There are more than a couple of reasonable and interesting afghan patterns in this book. A lot of them you just have to use your imagination and picture them in nicer yarns and more subtle colors. I'm good at that--I am also good at imagining houses without the weird decorating choices the current owners made, too.

That's about all the knitting (and crocheting) news I have right now. Because I am trying to teach my son to drive (manual transmission, so it's slow), I was thinking I wouldn't get back to my Monday knitting friends for a while, but, assuming it starts up again soon, I will be able to start coming again, because I will be able to do it on Wednesday. Of course, that means no Wednesday knitting. I am going to have to resign myself to fewer fun knitting nights than I used to have if my work continues to be so busy, but I can still read blogs and people's Facebook updates, which helps. I don't want to become a hermit.

Once again, thanks for all the comments on my comment-reply post. Please ask questions, because answering them gives me some fun fodder for blogging.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Quick note! I am here, and have been knitting as much as I can, but it's been an intensive week at work, so no blogging time in the evenings. I am into Clue 5 on my Vernal Equinox shawl though, and its beauty cheers me up when I do get a chance to relax. I'll have a photo of it and a crochet project, I hope tomorrow?? We'll see.

Thanks for all the comments on the previous blog post. If you haven't read them, you will find them educational, so perhaps you might want to check out the comments. That might make up for me not being able to write!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Responding to Comments

Every once in a while a blogger needs to respond to comments. Today's the day for me! At some point recently, someone asked me a question and I said I'd answer it in a later blog post, but now I can't find the darned comment. If you asked me something and I said I'd answer it later, but I didn't, remind me. Sigh. Poor old brain.

But the last bunch of comments I read made me want to expand. First, I had to chuckle a bit when John-Francis pointed out that the Aeolean shawl was  NOT restful. It was extra not-restful for him, and I totally gave up on the nupps, myself. But I did love touching that alpaca yarn, and I certainly had a feeling of accomplishment when it was through! There's definitely some knitting that is more relaxing than other knitting. So, that point is well taken. I do like it that now I find SOME lace knitting relaxing. Why? I have to think just enough that the pattern distracts me from whatever busy-ness is going on in my mind. That is a good thing sometimes. No doubt we all have times when the voices in our heads are overly persistent. "Do this, do that, pay this, budget for that, plan for this..."

Since I have no illustration today, here's a gratuitous photo of my Aeolian.

Johanna agreed with me that perhaps one reason so many people have taken up knitting in recent times is its relaxing nature. I also think the social aspect has a lot to do with it. Knitting is a positive, healthy and relatively non-controversial hobby that can be shared with many different ages and persuasions of people. It helps you see that you have things in common with such a wide variety of people. anything that brings others together in these times of divisiveness is a fine thing in my book.

And Cindy wondered if people tend to stick with the craft they learned first. I had to really think back to remember whether I learned to knit or crochet first. I know I crocheted more when I was a child and teen, but you know what? I did learn to knit before I learned to crochet. I think my mother taught me to knit, using her rudimentary skills, to shut me up one day. I am positive my grandmother taught me to crochet not long after. My love of multicolored items made crocheting those granny squares so much more enticing than the boring expanses of one-color knitting, in my Child Suna mind.

But wait, before any of those things I learned to embroider. For years my first crewel project hung in the family kitchen. I wish that hadn't gotten lost. I think I did a cross stitch (stamped) when I was in first grade. Wow, I just HAD to keep my hands busy as a child. But I really don't embroider any more. I stopped when I first needed glasses, I think (late 20s).

So, y'all--do you go back to your first love in crafts? Is it like comfort food, only with fiber? If you quilted first, is that your favorite thing to do when stressed or in need of relaxation?

Also, Kerry--can you send me a Ravelry link to your shawl in the Melody so I can look at it?

Thanks, commentators, for getting me thinking.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vernal Equinox Progress

I thought you might like to see a glimpse of how the Vernal Equinox Surprise shawl is coming along. As of last night I was in the middle of Clue 3. I think it's very pretty, and am doing OK on it! On Monday I even managed to knit six rows in the middle of a knitting group. Amazing power of concentration, huh.
Vernal Equinox Surprise in Progress
I think the way the Jojoland Melody yarn slowly transitions from color to color is quite graceful. I had worried it wouldn't show up well in laceweight, but I think it does. Sorry about the garish red pillow background, but the tan part doesn't show up well against the new couch. The old denim one made such a nice background, but hurt my back!

Knitting a shawl is so comforting, so relaxing, so pleasant.  Such a nice contrast to the local, national and international news. No wonder so many people have taken up knitting the past few years! Glad I have my yarn stockpile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making Something with Homespun

I haven't shared this pretty yarn yet, and I should have. My friend Deana has recently begun spinning, a lot, and is getting better and better at it. I love watching her feet and hands working to make genuine yarn out of globs of fiber. This stuff was the February colorway, I think, at Yarnorama, plus some really pretty rust colored roving that I don't know where she got it. After she spun it she gave it to me, since it's more "my colors."
Yarnorama Fleece and Rust-Colored Fleece Spun by Deana

Two skeins are the two yarns plied together, and one single-ply one is the plain rust yarn while the other is the Yarnorama colorway. I have no idea if this makes any sense. I am not good at talking about handspun stuff.

Deana and I have both been pondering what to do with this yarn once I set it (it's been sitting in the bathroom waiting for me to do that--it's plied, at least the two skeins with both colors in them--but it needs to be "set"). Well, today I think I found my answer!

Good ole Brooklyn Tweed has come up with another simple but useful pattern and I think it would look nice in the handspun. It's Jared Flood's new Romney Kerchief pattern. This is a very simple triangle shawlette with just rows of purl interrupting stockinette to create the patterning. It's nice because I can make the thing as big as your limited yarn will let you make it.

I love it when I need inspiration and it shows up like that!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ordered Something

I've actually made good progress on the Vernal Equinox Surprise shawl. Of course, they go faster in the beginning when there are fewer stitches per row! But, I've gotten through the large number of double decreases in Clues 1 and 2, and am now in the pretty pattern that makes up Clue 3.

Honestly, I thought I would never get out of the "tan" section of the yarn, which is what came up first. It completely matches my couch, too, so I will need to find another surface to take an in-progress photo on. But, now it's turning purple and quite lovely.

I am glad I am using the KnitPicks clear plastic needles due to their excellently sharp points, but the see-through aspect can make grabbing the right bits for decreasing a little challenging. It's OK--I am having fun and that's what counts.

Also fun is the fact that I finally got around to redeeming a gift certificate I got from my choir director to thank me for a donation I'd made to the music program (my old laptop). She'd consulted the other knitter in the choir (who, sadly, no longer reads blogs or does Facebook, just posts to some group on Ravelry, so she won't read how thankful I am) and got the suggestion to give a certificate to The Unique Sheep site. That's interesting, because I had never bought any of their yarn before, but had been reading about their really cool stuff and wanted to check them out! How fortuitous!
Pewter Earth Colorway, from the Unique Sheep Website.

I ordered two colorways of their Gradiance collection, in sock weight. The laceweights looked more fun, because you get more colors, but, like I have mentioned, I really don't need more shawls. I got the Pewter Earth (seen above) and Hurricane Meadow colorways. (See all the colors here, and let the drooling begin.) For the yarn bases, I got one in their yarn with bamboo (Sushi Socks) and one in their yarn with tencel (Tinsel Toes) in it, just because I wanted to try some new base yarns.

These yarns are certainly something to look forward to and I am having fun thinking of socks to make using these colors. No doubt they will be sort of plain! I will want to let the colors shine.

This will have to do as blog fodder until I can get a photo of the shawl.  Work is hard so there isn't much time to make things to show you!

PS (added April 20): I got an email from my blogging friend Dragonfly, who let me know that the photo above, from the Unique Sheep website, is actually a photo she took of her own yarn that she used to make the Evenstar shawl. Apparently their original sample's colors weren't really true. Now, how about that for a small world? I borrow a picture, and it's really my online friend's picture! I love the Internet. And am impressed that out of all those colorways, she and I chose the same one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Started Something!

It was a busy week for me with not much knitting time, but I did make some progress on the Flaming Desire sock. I am approaching the heel now.

But today my friend Carolyn came by to pick out yarn and a pattern for her special birthday gift. I told her I'd like to make her a shawl, since I make myself so many that I really don't need another one. We had fun looking at all my laceweight yarn and looking at some online, too.

She eventually picked out this yarn:

Jojoland Harmony, Colorway 06, Rainbow
I am happy to work with this yarn at last! Maybe my bad luck with laceweight will change, too. I am trying out using US size 4 needles, which are bigger than I used on my last couple of laceweight projects. We'll see if I like it slightly more airy.

Once we picked the yarn, we decided to go on Ravelry and see what shawls other people had made with it. That was a great way to choose. You could easily see which patterns were messed up by the yarn's color changes and which were enhanced by it. I ruled out a couple of patterns, like Icarus and Swallowtail, because I just didn't want to do them again. Once was plenty, thanks. So, we settled on the Vernal Equinox Surprise pattern that was  a popular knit-along last year. I remembered that a couple of people in my old knitting group had made it. I still see one of them, so I hope if I have an issue, Nancy will help me out! Hers was really pretty. It's a half-circle shawl with a lot of pattern changes, like most patterns that come out in "clues."

I hope I can handle it and that Carolyn will like it. It is good that I have two balls of the yarn, so I won't worry about running out! I started and think it looks good, though of course the first color in the skein was the least interesting one, tan. Hoping it gets more lively soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sock It Again!

Well, with that shawl out of the way (and THANK you for all the public and private comments on Litla Dimun--it's already my work-horse shawl and was perfect for a damp day today), I am trucking along on socks, waiting for a friend to pick a pattern for me to knit her a shawl.

Here is the first finished Flaming Desire sock:

Note the "interesting" crenelated top. For some reason, I did not cast on loosely enough, and it was trying to eat my calf, even though it's a smaller calf than it was a few months ago! So, I spent a couple of hours tediously un-doing the cast=on last night, and today I re-did it as a crenelated cast off. I figure it gives the effect of smoke from the flames of the pattern. Sure it does, yeah.

This is not the greatest photo, but I only have a few minutes between things to do, so my Blackberry came to my rescue once again. Wait until I get a photo of it on my foot or feet when the second one is done. MMM. The flame effect looks best from the front or back.

I'm really happy with the pattern. I even now like my weird heel effect. That's good, since I have to do the second one just like this one! With two pairs of socks, each with one complete, I vow to get something to finished object status this week. We'll see how that goes--lots going on in my non-knitting life, ya know!

Since I only had one sock picture, here's another nice flower. This is an ornamental cabbage blooming in a barrel filled with dianthus. I guess the cabbage will have to go in a week or two, but it certainly produced a grand finale!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Simple Sock

My sister asked me for black-and-white socks, so I looked around my stash and found some yarn I think fits the bill. I probably last shared a photo of this project, which I named Bruce, because I worked on it watching a Bruce Springsteen concert on TV,  in December. I carried it around for a long time to work on when I needed something that didn't require a chart (like waiting in airports), but it went slowly. Then I took it off the needles because I needed a size 0 for some other project...that really slows a sock down. But, I did manage to finish the first of this pair last week.
This is my office, so you can deduce that I finished it while waiting for some software to crunch (I had a big project that had to churn away for a half hour). The yarn is from Knitivity as are many of my sock projects, and according to the label it was made in October 2008. I think it may be another one-off that didn't do what it was supposed to do for a named colorway, but I thought it looked cool. I like how it stripes.
The photo above was supposed to show how there is one rib that travels across the sock, but mostly you see a sideways Polycom phone and some fake flowers. Unfortunately, my little design element was so subtle that it didn't hardly show up at all! Because of that, sock #2 is going to just be a 2x2 rib standard toe-up sock. No bells and whistles. That's fine. They will be sturdy, comfy, and quite neutral for my sister's wardrobe that is also quite neutral.

I hope it will be fewer than four months before I show you the finished second sock. I'd sorta like to be done with this by her July birthday! (I could finish in a couple of days if I wasn't distracted by the more exciting orange socks!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Litla Dimun Post!

I got the menfolk to go outside and take photos of me in the Litla Dimun shawl last night, so I can finally show what it looks like as a shawl. After hearing that it looked like a pair of underwear, and worse, a diaper from the blocking photos, I figured I better post!
I really think it looks nice. Sturdy, yet floaty! Here's the back.
And just for fun, here is a close-up of the pattern. You can see how the garter stitch looks quite delicate after blocking, yet it's still plenty warm. I wish I'd brought it to work today, as we have a little chill in the air.
It was a beautiful early evening yesterday, and perfect weather for spinning around in your new shawl! Farewell, Litla Dimun--Suna will stop obsessively posting about you now!

Some of our flowers look particularly lovely while we were in the garden with the camera, so I will leave you with our Creme Brulee petunia and the new yellow wildflower that just opened.
That was nice, wasn't it? What interesting colors they now have in annuals. This next one is a perennial we planted last year, but this is its first bloom.

A sock will show up tomorrow. And maybe more flowers. I have been taking a LOT of flower photos, and so has Lee!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blocking Litla Dimun Shawl

Well, Litla Dimun is all finished, and I wore it to my knitting group yesterday, but I still don't have a photo of me wearing it. Dawn took some, but I am trying to be patient waiting to receive copies! To let you get an idea of how much nicer it looks blocked, here are a couple of blocking photos.

It has ended up very light and delicate, and looks much more like an actual shawl than it did while I was working on it.

I was touched when my friend Aggie said that the finished product was one of her favorite shawls...ever. It may not be spectacularly lacy or bead encrusted, but it is elegant and will be very warm.

I used some hair conditioner on it, and it does feel a bit softer, too. I promise to show you what it looks like ON someone soon.

Next I'll show you a finished sock. I finally finished one of the plain black-and-white socks I started for my sister in December. I'd take its needles off, which made it hard to work on for a while. Tomorrow or Thursday I'll show it to you. I had to work on it yesterday, because I'd left the Flaming Desire pattern at home when I went to Georgetown to knit. Sigh. I also tried to spin with my overly fancy drop spindle. I have some rather thick yarn. It is not worth showing off, for sure. I don't think spinning is going to be my thing.

Luckily I have some nice hand-spun yarn to play with soon, since Deana gave me some in a colorway she knows I liked better than she did. When I finish setting it, I will show you that, too. Wow, a lot of teasers. It's the best I can do after two long days of recording training materials. I am glad to work, but it does take away my way with words.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Odd Heel Flap Pattern and Some New Yarn

http://Yesterday I said I'd share some new yarn I've gotten in the past week or so, and I will, but first I thought I'd share what I have been doing on my Flaming Desire socks. Here is a phone photo of the first completed leg, on my arm in a Starbucks where I was waiting for someone who never appeared.
Flaming Desire, by Anne Hanson at Knitspot.
I sure think the pattern is pretty. And I do think it looks like flames. I have discovered that my usually stretchy-enough cast-on is a bit tight. To remedy that, I am considering un-doing the cast-on and putting stitches back on the needles, then doing a more stretchy bind-off. I might do the crenelated one that puts the fun large picots on, like smoke rising from the flames. I would welcome any other suggestions for a fun top to the sock. No one ever sees the tops of my socks anyway, so goofy seems like it would be OK.

When I got to the heel flap, Anne Hanson had recommended doing a version where the slipped stitches are on the wrong side of the heel. I felt creative, so decided to slip the stitches with the yarn in the back, which puts a horizontal bar across the right side. I was hoping it would make an interesting texture. Here's a slightly blurred image of what it looks like:
Tweedy Heel Flap

I find it a nice, tweedy effect and oddly different. I am sure a sock knitter who looks at them will say, "Hey, what's going on with your heel?" I am not thinking any of them would say, "Ooh, I will try this on my next sock," since it isn't that attractive, in my humble opinion. I don't know if I'd do it on a lot of other pairs of socks, but at least it's a change from the more usual heel flap choices (I do like flapped heels--slip stitch heels I can just never get to look the same on each side and that bugs me).

And Now for the New Yarn

I got what I think is the last shipment from the Intention Yarns club I was in. Two shipments were combined into one, and as usual, the instructions for what to do with them have not arrived in my email, so I have no clue what I am supposed to do with the roving they sent or the 200 yards of worsted weight yarn. I didn't take a picture of the roving, which I believe you are supposed to make felted prayer beads out of, but it is lovely, and I think I will try to use my drop spindle to make some yarn from it, with the help of Deana or Dawn or Suzanne. Or anyone willing to help for that matter.

Here's the worsted weight yarn. It is called "Friendship," and is 50% alpaca, 30% merino and 20% silk. It feels heavenly, as you would predict, and really is a lovely, ethereal semi solid silver. I am thinking it wants to be fingerless mitts or a cabled hat. I saw a hat that my friend Ray designed that might be good in a lovely soft yarn (the Double Entendre hat on this page). But, I really need a hat with ear coverings...realizing most of them are not pretty--maybe a nice color would mitigate that.

I also got two new sock yarn colors from Knitivity. I ordered them so fast that I got the prototypes--go me. It's nice to be able to order new yarn again, though I am knitting so slowly these days that I have to slow down the acquisition! The first yarn I got is called "Equinox" and was based on a photo of a sunset. I also think it looks a bit like flames.

The second color is something I'm surprised he hadn't done before, being a Texas dyer, "Bluebonnets." I do already have a sock yarn in a bluebonnet colorway, but this one has more shadings of blue and green, and less white, so it looks more like actual bluebonnets (which, by the way, are incredibly beautiful this year in central Texas after the wet winter).

Both of these are in Ray's sturdy superwash wool/nylon yarn base that I think will make perfect basic socks to WEAR and not dwell on a fancy pattern with. Sigh, that reminds me I need to finish the other pair of socks I am working on, for my sister. They are in Knitivity yarn in a simple pattern. I think I'll finish the orange ones and crank those others out, too. What a good knitting citizen I am.

[Additional note: I did not know this at the time I was writing this blog post, but if you head off and buy something at Knitivity, and mention my name, I will get a discount on a future purchase. Of course, if you heard about them from someone else, mention them, and they will get a discount! Discounts are good.]

I'm off to block Litla Dimun, so perhaps the next post will have a real FO photo of that project.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Lumpy Finished Object

I took the Litla Dimun to a women's group meeting on Thursday and suddenly, I was finished with it! It really did go faster and faster toward the end there. Here's a picture of it in its unblocked, lumpen state:
Litla Dimun Shawl in Undyed American Shetland Wool.
After seeing how big it came out and looking at my picture, I decided that, even though I have enough yarn left over to do it, I am not going to add a border. I think the elegant simplicity of the borders and gusset lace is just enough. It is also going to be a great size to keep in the office to wear when the air conditioning has gone crazy on me.

I can't block this until tomorrow, since we may have overnight guests who will want to use the blocking bed. That's OK, it will give me something else to blog about, right?

Tomorrow I will have some new yarn to show you. Blogger's photo uploader doesn't like me again, so I am not going to try to deal with the photos today!

I am happily back knitting on my Flaming Desire socks. I am enjoying how nice and big the chart is, and how quickly rows go. It's nice to get back to socks. I have so many socks I want to knit, especially one based on those Russian mitten patterns--I better get a move on! Plus, I am going to make a friend a special birthday shawl. OOOOOH, that will be fun.

Have a fun weekend, and enjoy your holiday if you are celebrating one of them this weekend!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Review of Folk Shawls

I did get a lot of knitting done over the weekend, but didn't manage to finish the Litla Dimun shawl. Since it was cast on at its longest point and is getting shorter and shorter as I go on, it feels like I was moving really fast! It was especially nice when I hit the two rows that decreased 16 stitches each, rather than just 4. I get the impression I'll actually finish that project in my lifetime!

Since I didn't finish the shawl over the weekend and since the bookstore didn't have Wendy Johnson's new book, like I'd hoped, I thought I could at least talk about the book I got the pattern from. I have had the Folk Shawls book, by Cheryl Oberle, quite a long time (it was published in 2000), but hadn't made anything from it until this project. That doesn't mean the book hasn't been used. I have read through it many times, dreaming about making one or more of the patterns, or thinking of ways to use ideas from them. The patterns are so clearly written that you can easily envision yourself working on them.

One reason I read it so many times is that there are examples of shawls from such a variety of traditions. Not only are there the expected British Isles, Ireland, Scandinavia, etc., represented, but there are Japanese, Spanish and even the Americas. I like some better than others, but the explanations of the traditions and techniques involved are all fascinating. The book makes a great introduction to techniques from around the world, and give you an idea of what you might like a lot, so you can head out and find more patterns in your favorite tradition.

That is one reason I chose a pattern from the Faroe Islands (which happens to be the first tradition focused on in Folk Shawls). I had read the patterns here and went out and made some Faroe style shawls in the past. I kept coming back to the Litla Dimun and Stora Dimun patterns, because they seemed more authentic (others I made are the modern versions that start on the small end and build, while these patterns are bottom up and have shoulder shaping).

If you don't have this book already, it's one I'd recommend adding to your library while it's still in print. Some of the shawls are huge masterpieces, but there are also some (which I give Ravelry links to so you can check them out), such as the Simple Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl and the Wool Peddler's Shawl (which many people I know have made), that are good introductions to knitting shawls or knitting lace. 

By the way, the mittens blocked nicely and came out very soft. I look forward to wearing them.

I didn't get to go knit with friends this evening, due to my son having a band event (sometimes you have to do the ole family stuff), but I got my knitting need met by looking through this treasured book once again!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wet Suna Mitts

Well, hooray. I did finally finish the ethnic mittens. I don't know why it seems like it took so long--I only took three weeks, in the end. I think the fact that the two-handed knitting goes more slowly than regular knitting in the round just got to me. I always had to drop the yarn to wrap whenever there was a 5-stitch gap, and then make sure I didn't get the yarn twisted, so it seemed to go slowly. But, here they are. They are wet, because the instructions said to block them, which should explain the intense color.
 Actually. Charlene Schurch says to block them inside out. I think that is to be sure the floats are well stretched out. So, here is what they actually look like right now:

They really don't look too bad on the inside. I find the ribbing is especially nice to look at inside out. I will give you a picture of the actual dried mittens on a hand once they are ready, but I had wanted to share their completed glory.

To summarize, these are sock pattern 21 from this book:

The yarn is Ella Rae laceweight, which I got at Yarnorama. They have (or had last time I was there) a really nice assortment of this yarn. I made the large size, since the yarn is so fine. I am glad, because you get more pattern in the large size!

I do think that I would have had a more successful finished product if I had chosen more contrast. I really need to pay attention to that--perhaps I need to go buy one of those red lenses to look at yarn through, to make sure I have enough contrast. I had the same problem when I used to make quilts, too. I guess we all have our areas for growth, don't we?

I think when I finish the current socks, I may make a pair of socks using one of these patterns--since they are 64 and 72 stitches around, the mittens should easily translate into socks, don't you think? That's another reason to buy the book, even if you don't like mittens--the patterns are really striking and fun. Of course, I can always try more mittens. I guess, even in Texas, I could use a couple of pairs of mittens!

I am looking forward to working on my shawl and other socks for a bit, but still have the Anna Zilboorg book, with all the top-down mittens (and socks). But, hey, isn't it true that there are so, so many more patterns out there that we'd like to make than there is time to knit. Even during 5 weeks of no work, I didn't get very much knitting done--life does get in the way.

Happy knitting, every one.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fond Farewell, and Welcome!

Yesterday I had the bittersweet experience of attending a very nice farewell gathering for our friend Jen, who is moving to Michigan, as I have mentioned earlier. It was nice to see so many of her knitting friends at the very accommodating La Madeleine restaurant (the one near the outlet mall, locals--go there, they are nice!).

Everyone had fun catching up on projects and purchases, plus the restaurant was nice enough to let us serve a cake from outside the premises, so we got to have a farewell treat.
Dawn supervises the cake cutting. Jennifer did a good job.
Poor Jennifer hurt her knee in an accident too embarrassing to chronicle here, which will make moving a bit of a challenge. We can only hope that the fun collection of farewell presents and cards will make things a little easier for her.
Gifties, plus roses, a shawl in progress, and a foot.
So, perhaps not my best photographic effort. I'd put up more pictures, but Blogger's image uploader is not working right for me (they are working on it), so this will have to give you an idea.

It is so good that we have blogs, Facebook, email, etc., to keep in touch when people move away. It makes it feel less final. We can still share stories, finished object photos and questions about yarns. For all the ups and downs, it is great to have knitting friends, both near and far!

A lady in the restaurant came up and asked if people were knitting at the restaurant every week, and the attendees said yes, and invited her back. Isn't that the best, that there are always new people to see and get to know? I've learned something from everyone I have encountered in the knitting adventure world, that's for sure. So, welcome to the new lady--I hope she is there some week when I can come (sadly, it's too far for me to make it every week, due to having to rush off to choir practice many miles away). [I resisted an urge to make a joke for Pilar, so Pilar, imagine a joke here.]

I'd also like to welcome the 50th person to "follow" the blog on Blogger. I think it's a nice gesture of support to "follow" a blog you read, even if you don't read it on the Blogger interface. It lets the author know you're there (sometimes you fell all alone in the "blogosphere"). So hi there to JM, the newest follower! I admit that I read a lot of blogs, but I know there are so many others out there. Thanks to all of you who read and all of you who write--it's a good thing about the world that we can share our thoughts with others and get insight from what's going on with people we may never meet in person.

Well, my work starts back up tomorrow, so I had better finish that mitten. I just have to finish the top and do the thumb. Maybe tonight is its final night on the needles.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yes! Suna Mitts!

No, I didn't finish them, but I just thought the post title was funny. I did get a lot of mitten done yesterday. If I wasn't so fond of throwing balls to cute dogs I'd have gotten more done yesterday over at Dawn's, but I enjoy her cute doggies. It's always good to relax with friends and knit, and it's always fun to watch the spinners spinning. I am grateful for the space and time to knit.

But, anyway, to prove I am working along, here's the second mitten's progress:
Progress on Second Ethnic Mitten
I'm to the point where I really am ready to do something else, so I'm going to hunker down and try to get this project done in the next couple of days. I am sure you'd like to read about another project!

Tomorrow is the farewell gathering for our long-time knitting friend Jen. I will miss having her around, but am glad she has her blog, so I can keep up with her! I have what I hope is a good farewell gift for her. I wish I was as great at making cards as she is, but I can at least write something nice, right?

I'm looking forward to doing some knitting fun over the weekend--I'll finally hand over the Linus Blankie and maybe help some of the other ladies get started on knitting their own projects. I'd like to show them the pattern for the Nana's afghan that I fixed up for someone in 2008. It's easy and can be either solids or stripes. They seem sort of excited about it. I'd actually hoped to go on a retreat this weekend, but it got canceled. At least I have good backup plans!It's always good to have a Plan B. I am learning that a lot, lately.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Old Project Revealed

Finally, the Spring/Summer 2010 Knitty is out, so I can talk more about the socks I made last September. I talk about my friend Jodie, who designs lots of patterns and knitted a giant shawl last week, often, and I showed you some close-ups of this pattern when I was working on it, but because we had to wait until it was published, I could not show you my versions of the Twisted socks Jodie designed. Here are some pictures of the pair I test knitted:
My GOOD Twisted Sock.

As you may recall, I used the Knitivity sock yarn in the Koi colorway that I asked Ray to design for me.
The sock I messed up on, but from its good side

I love these socks, even though I messed up reading the instructions on the first pair. I kept that sock, because, hey, it shows that I helped with my suggestions to Jodie and the instructions are way better now (actually, she did a LOT of changing after I knitted my trial pair. Any good author revises a lot!

The colors are great, and the slipped stitches really work well on a brightly colored yarn like this. The pattern construction is a LOT of fun, so I highly recommend you sock knitters give this one a try. It's worth the effort to get the feed perfect!

Congratulations to Jodie for being persistent and continuing to submit patterns until she got one in! And many hopes for more publications. Don't you agree that supporting our friends is important? If you have a friend who has done something newsworthy, tell someone. It feels good.

I have to go concentrate on the other kinds of work I do for a bit, but I'll be back later! I got up past putting the thumb stitches on a holder on the second mitten yesterday, so who knows, I might actually get to finish my shawl soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Grannies and a Fresh Look

I know a lot of people read my blog posts on Facebook, so they don't see the actual blog. But I look at it fairly often. I'd realized that my personal blog's template had not changed since 2005, so I looked around the new Blogger template customization tool and found something very cheery for it. That made me feel like this blog had grown stale. I like the logo my husband made for me (those are my knitting hands!), but I wanted to make it less wide and have a bit of my personality in it.

So, I found a picture with pansies in it, which made me happy, because they are my favorite flower and I collect things with pansies on them--that was just ME (admittedly, I wish I could use one of my own pansy photos for the background, but I'll live). I messed around with templates until I found something with my colors that was actually legible (a couple possibilities got the Lee vote of disapproval for readability). I also added a feature, which is a list of my favorite blogs. It shows the ten most recently updated faves, though I may cut it down to 5 if I decide that makes the sidebar too long.

Enough with Blogger Talk...

I did want to share with you a photo of the granny squares I am working on now, since I realize I only showed you the 43-year-old afghan yesterday. Anyway, here are some of the ones I am doing in my spare time, in the colors of the mitered square afghan. I will edge each in some as-yet-undetermined solid color before putting them together.

Yesterday I enjoyed a break from knitting by reading the spring 2010 Internet Crochet. There were a couple of cardigans I'd actually consider knitting, but this one project, Forest Petals Shawl, really impressed me. I don't know if I would wear it, but I sure think it looks cool!
The photos in the magazine really show you how the Lorna's Laces yarn enhances the holey pattern, or click the link to see more. I like this magazine a lot--there were also a couple of nice afghan patterns that look fun. I don't feel like I'm being unfaithful to my knitting because I also like crochet (see Jen's post on that topic--look at all those grannies!). I know where my big loyalty lies. Speaking of which, it's back to the mittens!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hidden Project

Just a quick note: I was working on mitten #2 (the cuff is done!), I realized that I hadn't put one of my projects on Ravelry, and barely talked about it here.

Why should I be ashamed that I am working on a granny square afghan? It's a charity project, after all, and it's using up the leftovers from the mitered square afghan. Some needy child will love its cheerful colors! I work on it when I don't have anything mindless and portable to take with me, so mainly it's been worked on in choir. I am just making squares until I run out of each color. Who knows how many little afghans I will actually end up with!

Sure, lots of people make fun of the humble granny square. After all, it's the first thing many people learn to crochet. Wait, first thing, did you say? Take a gander at this! Yes, it's true. I still own the first thing I ever crocheted (it's wool, which may explain why it hasn't disintegrated much). I was just a little kid, and my grandmother taught me how to make it. (This is one of two, count 'em, two really nice things I remember her doing for me--she was an interesting woman, but when she didn't like you, you could tell.)

My first completed project, circa 1965.

I talk about this project often when I get the chance to teach someone to knit or crochet. You can literally see my progress in the squares. The first few are rather large and floppy, but they get smaller and more even as I get the hang of what I am doing. Only a 9-year-old would have the confidence to go ahead and sew them all together, even though the squares aren't the same size! But Child Suna was right--there's no need to be ashamed of your "learning projects." It's good to save evidence of where you were, so you can be gauge where you ARE later. I am really glad I saved this.
Notice that the center square is much larger than the ones to its left and right!
I wish I'd saved my first piece of knitting. My mom had taught me the year before I learned to crochet. I made a sky blue blanket for a fashion doll. I distinctly remember that it had a hole in it, and that it got either bigger or smaller. But, the doll didn't care. For a few years, all I knew how to do was knit garter stitch, but I got one of those green "learn to knit" books and figured out purling, decreasing, etc., and was off and running in my teens.

But back to my crochet project. Really, what's wrong with some "comfort crochet" every so often? My friend Jen has been going crazy with granny squares lately, and it's been fun to see her joy in the combinations of colors she gets, and how quickly the projects work up. I remember that feeling so well from when I was young, making dozens of tote bags, pillows and blankets for everyone I knew.

I have to say that I, too, am looking forward to completing all the squares and seeing how I can arrange them in interesting ways. If I end up with enough for multiple child-sized blankets, I can even edge them in different colors and get a really different feel! So, whee! It will take a while, but eventually, I'll have something fun to play with, with no shame at all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One Very Nice Mitten

First, thank you for all the nice comments on Jodie's immense shawl! MMario is indeed, as John-Francis pointed out, a dude who knits, and we should support them whenever possible. And I do, believe me--I read plenty o' men's blogs from the "famous" ones like Brooklyn Tweed and Franklin Habit (who I even met once) to people I consider personal friends like Colin Andersson and Ray Whiting. I guess I should write a post about my favorite knitting dudes and their products and projects some time!

But wait, I was gonna blog about this:

The first of my Orange Ethnic Mittens is done. It took longer than I expected, because I keep doing other things, like tarot bags and cooking for the family (I am sure you will be jealous of the delicious organic liver and onions, baked sweet potatoes and steamed cauliflower we had last night--weird combo but good). But I digress, again...

The pattern is lots of fun to make, and I have a feeling these mittens will be like Cookie A socks for me--once you make one, you want to make the rest of the patterns in the book! I keep thinking of different color combinations and trying to decide which of the patterns I like the best. Then I thought of making matching socks. I should have enough yarn left over to make socks. But, before that, perhaps I should finish the other mitten, huh? Stop with the incessant blogging and go knit!

But wait, I did want to give a hint for anyone who wants to knit patterns from Mostly Mittens, by Charlene Schurch. On her charts, decreases are shown by the pattern rows getting smaller. I had a bit of trouble remembering where to decrease, so I drew symbols for SSK and K2tog on the edge stitches, where the decreases go, to remind me what to do. The other hint I have is to not forget to go back to the general guidelines for each section of the mitten when you start doing something different--there are useful guidelines in there! But don't worry, other than mis-counting every so often, I didn't find this pattern difficult at all. I encourage you to give these a try--they make great gifts if you live in Texas (I plan to wear mine at high school football games--I have needed some for the last 5 years--my gloves get chilly).

If you are so inclined, please think of me today, as I have a first interview for a REAL job, and those are very, very rare for technical writers/instructional designers in Austin. Having work to do will cut me back to my more normal blogging schedule again, but I promise to not do a big drought like I went through early in the year.

PS: I added the tarot bag to Ravelry, so if you make one, please link to this!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Could You Knit 2.7 Miles of Laceweight?

Since I am waiting until my mitten is finished to share a photo of it (it's almost done!), I've decided to highlight someone else's masterpiece today.

My good friend Jodie in Ohio, for whom I have done some test knitting (you will spot her socks in the Knitty issue that comes out any day now), just finished some test knitting of her own, and whoa, that's some test knitting--2.7 miles of yarn (she counted: 4725 yards, 2.7 miles, and 4.3 km). Here's Arctic Tundra (blocking)!

Here are some words straight from her:

"Feel free to share on your blog. The designer is MMario on Ravelry. Amazingly talented designer and it was an absolute pleasure doing this test knit for him. The design is called Arctic Tundra and can be found at his yahoo groups "patterns in progress" page. I first heard about Mmario through your friend John-Francis."

Pretty amazing when your friends from different parts of your life interact after having encountered each other on the blog. Thanks to John-Francis for making this connection! It's for reasons like this that I continue to write about my experiences and the people I encounter. You never know when a creative or personal connection will be made.

Back to Arctic Tundra (shown above before blocking), I am boggled (or I boggle, not sure how to use that word other than as the name of a game) at how much knitting this project involved. Jodie is incredibly prolific, true, but this amazed me. She said it took her four months to do, but I happen to know she worked on a couple of other projects at the same time, because her designer brain never stops churning away. Of course, the project had some challenges, especially when it came to blocking. More from Jodie:

It annoys me that I couldn't get the angle of the star equal in the center when I was blocking--but it was just too big. I didn't have an extra inch of floor--and that was after I overran the blocking mats and started slipping blocking pins between the boards of my oak floor. An incredibly memorable project.

 After seeing the pre-blocking and the blocking photos, I was interested in finding out what she was going to use this project for. Certainly you'd need to be a "person of height" to wear it as a shawl! But, she has a perfect use, the grand piano cozy! How elegant and Victorian!

I find it interesting how MMario named the patterns. Each has to do with something you would find in the tundra. The photo below shows the patterns Polestar and Snow,Nelson Island, Musk Ox, Lemmings on the Tundra, and Bear Claw Edge, for example.

I hope this inspires some of you to tackle this project when it's officially published, and if not, to dream big with your knitting! You never know what you can do until you try!

As for me, I think I'll finish up that first mitten today, if the mundane world of job searching, grocery shopping and rain watching doesn't take up too much time! I got a lot done last night at a knitting and spinning pajama party, so I'll have one potentially warm hand soon.