Monday, December 26, 2011

I actually made something!

I have been totally free of knitting mojo. Too many unpleasant things have been cropping into my head when I knit. So I took a pretty big break. I did carry knitting around wherever I went, though. Every so often I would knit a few rows on the shawl using two complementary sock yarn colors, and think how nice it would be to wear it. Then I would stop again.
Shawl made from two complementary sock yarns, each knitted from the opposite side.

At some point in the fall, Leigh asked for a pair of leg warmers. So, I found what looked to be an easy enough pattern, Waterlily Leg Warmers. To make sure the pattern would work, I got some inexpensive worsted weight yarn, two skeins of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool. Well, I have now made four projects with that yarn and I STILL have half a skein left. I need to move on!

Here are the leg warmers as I was working on them. I am in the RV somewhere, because I recognize that upholstery! Oh yeah, in case I haven't mentioned it, we have an RV, of all things, Ursula, and I blog about that a lot. Feel free to visit Ursula Lumbers!

Leg Warmer on me!

Here are the completed leg warmers. I realize this picture is not very pretty, but I have not gotten a photo of them on her.

Obviously I should have cropped this.

So, when I finished this, I still had a lot of yarn. So I decided to surprise Leigh with hand warmers to match the leg warmers. I would knit them really hard whenever we were going to the ranch or farm, then forget about them at home, because Words with Friends is too enticing.

Just before Christmas, I managed to finish the last couple of rounds.  What I did was cut the number of stitches by a third, and only put in one cable pattern (there are three on the leg warmers). I knit back and forth to create the thumb holes. I should have started back and forthing on an odd row, because I ended up having to do the cables on a purl row. Well, I can fix that next time. It was easy to just improvise a pattern based on the leg warmers, though. They came out quite cute and made a nice Christmas gift!

Happy with hand warmers.
I single crocheted an edging around the thumb openings, too.

Tuba Boy (Kynan) looked at all the yarn and had left and mentioned that he did not have a warm hat. I knew I could make one pretty quickly, so I went to find a really simple ribbed pattern. Sure enough, I found the extremely popular Hat Fit for a Boyfriend. It also made a hat fit for a son! It came out rather short when I made it following the instructions--the original was made for a fellow with no hair, and my kids, they have hair. Once I made it longer, it looked great! I finished it on Christmas Eve as the kids were serenading Lee's dad with the blues.

A warm head means warm musical tone.

Lee's dad is not doing real well, health-wise. It was a hard Christmas, with my dad gone and Lee's dad so sick. But he is holding on...has a new tractor and cows about to calve. He has to hang on for them! He remarked more than once how warm Kynan's hat looked. I asked if he would like one and he said, "Oh yes, I would." So I started knitting fast and furious. There's nothing like a request from the father-in-law to get back your knitting mojo! By the time Christmas dinner was done, the second hat was finished!

Looking very modern in his beanie.
This will help him in the biting wind out on the farm. Lee's dad is a warm weather person--he thrives in heat. Long-time readers will remember I made him socks a few years ago.

Speaking of socks. I keep making holes in mine. Makes me sad. Either I have a moth or they are showing their age. Makes me not want to knit more socks, too.

I was asked by a friend to make her some hand warmers, so maybe I will have another post for the new year. Things ARE better for me, in many ways. Just need to work on knitting happiness.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Moving on to Something New

I could not get myself motivated to knit much on the little blanket, so no photo of it. I spend a lot of my time this week thinking of knitting, reading about knitting and mostly not knitting.

But tonight I am going to start knitting a two-color shawl with these two yarns:
Two sock yarns, which won't rotate for me. Blogger keeps "helpfully" changing the orientation.
I think the two colors will go together fairly well, since they both have brown in common. We'll see. I am using some pattern "suggestions" I got from Ray at Knitivity. These are two of his blog special yarns, the top one from a year ago, and the bottom from March.

I'll get to work on it and let you know how it's coming along later in the week. I predict it will either look cool or awful. In any case, it will mostly go with brown stuff.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crocheting Mitered Squares

I started on the knitted throw (baby blanket size) made with organic cotton over the weekend, but encountered a sudden lack of desire to knit. Instead, I read a lot and did a little crochet project.
Someone had asked me on Facebook, in the comments on the finished mitered square blanket project, whether it could be possible to get the same effect with crochet. I have crocheted a lot of squares in my day, but never mitered squares, so I messed around with my yarn and the lovely crochet hook I always carry in my knitting basket. The results do, I think convey the same effect.

Two squares of mitered crochet.
If you are interested in how I did the ones in the picture, building the squares from the outside in so that you can build each square on the next, and how I’d go on to complete a larger project in crochet, here are abbreviated instructions.

Crochet Mitered Squares

Use this technique to make mitered squares with self-striping yarn. You can change colors as you wish if you choose to make your own stripes.

First Square
Ch 42 (last two chains count as first sc in next row).
Sc in third chain and next 18 sts, skip 2 chains, sc 19. Ch 2, turn.
Sc 17, skip 2 sc, sc 18. Ch 2 (counts as first sc in next row), turn.
Sc 16, skip 2 sc, sc 17. Ch 2 (counts as first sc in next row), turn.
Sc 15, skip 2 sc, sc 16. Ch 2 (counts as first sc in next row), turn.
Repeat this pattern, with one fewer sc on each side of the skipped sts until the last row:
Skip 2 sc, sc, fasten off if changing colors.

Remaining Squares on First Row
From where you ended off with first square, ch2, pick up 19 sts across edge of previous square, ch 22.
Complete square as with first.

First Square, Second and Subsequent Rows
Chain 20, 20 sc in top of first sqare on previous row. Complete as with first row squares.

All Other Squares
Attach yarn where previous square ended. Chain 2, ch2, sc 18 sts across edge of previous square, skip two sc, sc 19 across top of next square in the row below.

Make a square or rectangle as large as you want, combining colors however you’d like. It’s easy to mimic quilt patterns, for example, using these squares.

More Resources for Your Perusal
There are plenty of ways to make mitered squares in crochet. I found some that you might want to use to make up your own blanket or other project. Just substitute a self-striping yarn to get the kind of effect in my sample. My taste would run to using thinner yarn and smaller hooks to get a more blended effect. Leftover sock yarn can be crocheted as wel as knitted, you know! It would make a nice sturdy vest fabric in crochet.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Marble Mitered Square Blanket, Finished

My posting bonanza continues! First, I am both happy and sad to report that I finished the mitered square blankie project last night, other than neatening up the ends on the back. I got some Fray Check stuff last weekend, so I will work on that this evening in the RV. Then I can leave it there as a blanket for guests and a throw for when it gets cold. Of course with over 30 days of temperatures over 100F I wonder if it will ever cool off again.
Finished blanket, resting.
I had a hard time getting a photo of the whole thing, and probably didn’t choose a very scenic spot, since you can see my huge stack of knitting magazines and my suitcase packed with stuff for the weekend. Well, whose house is perfect? Not mine, I assure you.

As you can see, it is as long as a king size bed is wide. I just looked it up, and that is 76 inches. Hooray, that is long enough to be a blanket, and is actually the length of a twin mattress! When I finished it, my friend Martha and I picked it up, and it was pretty heavy, too. A substantial product for nearly three months of work! It has been quite a healing project for me. I managed to finish something and it looks OK.

I took a few close-up pictures while I had the nice light last night. First, here are two good close-ups of the corners.
A corner!

Another corner!
The only little bit I dislike about the corner square feature is that two of them have the central decrease going the “wrong” way. I think that’s not a bad thing, especially since those are two dark corners. I guess I took photos of the “good” corners, subconsciously not wanting to focus on the others.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of some of the squares in the middle. I do find them cheerful!
Hoping this close-up gives you a good idea of what the stitches look like.
Just as a reminder, the yarn is James C. Brett Marble DK, though it would be fine in the chunky version, too. The pattern is this one that I put up on Ravelry and is also linked in the left column of this blog.

I am ready to cast on the small throw using interesting textured yarn that matches my home color scheme this evening. I may try to wind the hanks into balls if I have time before we leave for the campground tonight; otherwise, I will just do it by hand. I remember how!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two Posts Because I Took a Picture

When I got home today, I looked at what I had knitted, and realized the light was good. So, I squished the ole blankie around and took a picture of the borders that are finished. I think they look pretty darned good. The purple border is set up to be far from all the purple squares, in some attempt at balancing all those 14 vaguely related colors.
Three borders and two little squares!
I have to say that I find it sorta cute. I now want to make a zillion blankies!

On the other hand, I wound up some yarn I really love this afternoon after work. I think it may be this really incredibly simple wrap thing I saw on a free website. It's just 3x3 ribbing, 18" long and 35" wide. I think I can do that without a printed pattern. I'll give it as a gift. Maybe to poor Carolyn, who is still waiting for a beautiful lace shawl I can't finish.

I have also made a plan to make a shawl as a gift using my friend Ray's idea for a two-skein shawl. Well, it's pretty much the same as that kerchief triangular shawl I made out of two Noro sock yarn skeins a few years ago, but with colors that blend. (Click that link, then click "kerchief" and you can find pictures of that project.) So, if I can find the pattern I got in the mail with my last order from him...I will make that as well. Yeah, that will keep me busy on my weekend of camping. It can be a gift, too. Maybe I will make both and see which one Carolyn likes. Gosh, hope she doesn't read this (HA, highly unlikely).

I must say I do appreciate all of you who are reading this, since I was such a dud blogger for a year or so. Thanks for all the Facebook likes. You can 1+ it on Google Plus as well. I do like comments here, as well. It's fun to have conversations!

Hey, Two Borders!

I have been meaning to share a photo of the mitered square blankie with two borders, and keep falling asleep at night instead. I know you have been waiting and waiting to see it, so here we go—I am quite satisfied that the blues coordinate so well. If you can’t tell, the second border has purples in it and the first one has green.

Look, there are two borders!
 I must sheepishly admit that I finished the first top border already, INCLUDING the little squares, and I cast on to the last one before I could get a photo. Silly me. I will have the last border done tonight, I hope. I’m going to knit like crazy, since I was so tired that I did not knit a stitch last night.

I guess I will have to investigate why the heck I have been so tired lately. I know the 500-page document I have just put together tires me out—lots of small print and details. That’s what I get for choosing technical writing as a career path—or letting it choose me.

Good news is that the next place we are going to visit with Ursula the RV has wireless Internet, so I should be able to blog from the Live Oak Ridge park.

I will take along with me the yarn I got not long ago to make a small lap blanket. Then I do not know what I want to work on. I have seen lots of sweaters and such that I like but none I am dying to make. I have a vision of a curtain for the kitchen door or window with beads in it that will shine in the light. I will think about that for a while. Maybe I can swatch something. I have some yarns I really want to knit with, but no project I am dying to make. I am still trying to avoid the pressure of making anything fancy, I am afraid.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Here Is the Border

OK, I did it. I finished the first border while there was still enough light to get a photo of it. Wow, what a difference a border makes! I think the edging really ties the whole thing together. I got a lot of nice comments on Facebook, too.

The next long border also has blue in it--it's the blue and purple colorway. The left short border will the all purples and the final one is the one with some greens in it.

What I am going to do is leave the ends open, which will result in an area in each corner where I can insert 4 more mitered squares. Those will be dark blue, maroon, pink and brown--the four most intense colors. I figure that will tie in the intense bits, and look pretty interesting. I just hope I can remember that and don't just go ahead and pick up across the edges of the long borders. Now that I have written it down, I have hope.

Must run off to work now, and I hope you all have good days.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Little Preview

I didn't manage to finish binding off the first border tonight. Wow have I been tired, plus lots of issues at home, just the normal stuff, doncha know. But here is what the first border looks like, sitting on the bed and rather rumpled. Doesn't that make you want to see more of it, less rumpled?

That's the border, at the top.
Oh of course it does. Perhaps I will be home and knitting more tomorrow and get that border done! It goes fast. It's not that I was dealing with a constantly crashing Words with Friends application or anything. No, not me.

I will go, since my sarcasm-0-meter is really going off.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Congratulations! It's a Rectangle!

We spent the Independence Day weekend at the Farm visiting ELAB's dad and his nephew, who was also there. I got to spend a good amount of time in the air conditioning, so the blanket got worked on quite a bit.

And yes, I finished the final square of the main part!
Mitered square blankie on an old trailer with a very old door behind it.
There it is, in its 9x14 glory. The bottom right pink square was the last one I did. I like the way it fades from subtle to bright and back to subtle.

Since that photo was taken yesterday, I have done one of the borders except for binding it off. I picked up stitches along the long edge closest to the front of the picture, in the colorway that is mostly blues with a little green. I did a long side first, since I want the borders the same height, and I didn't want to start with a short one and make it thicker than one skein of yarn would make on a longer side. I needn't have worried. I made 12 garter stitch ridges along the long side and still have a bit of yarn left. 12 just looked good to me.

I will tell you all about my plans for the borders tomorrow, when I take a picture of the first finished border. I have an idea that I think will look good for finishing the project.

And yes, I also worked on the socks. I got 3 inches into the leg of the first sock and can't decide how I want to finish it. I thought of a folded cuff, of a folded lacy border, and of a hemmed top. In the end, I may just do twisted ribbing, because twisted stitches look good in the Summer Sox yarn, judging from the heel flap. I will have to get a picture of that, too!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Yes, I AM Still Working on the Same Project

One thing about the combination of not having a lot of knitting time and working on a large project is that you don't have many new and exciting topics to blog about, especially if you are no longer totally fascinated by every issue of every knitting magazine that comes out.

However let me talk about something other than mitered squares briefly. I did enjoy the new Knitty, and especially liked the Lingerie socks with the pretty lace patterning and Undercurrent sweater. It looks like it would be nice and casual to wear with jeans. And I still own some Silk Garden from back when I had a yarn shop to go to! I keep faithfully reading all my knitting magazines, though. I just don't feel like making anything.I need people to knit with I guess, but can't bring myself to go out any more than I already do. So it's my own fault!

8x14 Mitered Square Blankie
Here's how far I am on the Mitered Square Blankie. I realized in my brilliance that of COURSE I had to make it 14 rows long! I had 14 colors! This way each row will start with a different color. Doesn't it look lovely all dappled in the sun?

Here is a labeled photo so you can see how I made it and what the plan is. Yes, I know my PowerPoint skills are awesome. I can really label stuff.

I think, once I add borders, it will be quite blanket-esque.

I went over to Ravelry to see if anyone was doing variations on it, and I saw one that is pretty neat, by a user named Som Som. I don't have permission to show a picture, so go look at it and click the middle photo. You can see how she varied the direction the squares go, starting in the center. It is a nice, subtle effect. There's another one in bright solids by Fudgey, in a yarn that looks like it would be nice to knit with, too. Another person finished one but didn't post a photo. She commented that a solid color combined with mitered squares  means every mistake really shows up. That's why I like self striping yarns for this technique. I'd like to try it in one of the Noro variants some time.

OK, back to knitting. I have three more done on the last row!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Have a Good Excuse!

My hope was to use this weekend's relaxing camping outing to get the last row of the mitered square blanket done and start on the extra row to make it wider. But, I did not get very far--I worked on four squares (hope to get a bit more done after I blog and play Words with Friends). But, as the post title says, I have a good excuse!

It got up to 106 degrees F this weekend. That is 41C. And we spent the hottest part of the day without air conditioning. That is not conducive to working on a 100% acrylic twin-size blanket. I ended up soaking myself with water from the "outdoor shower" feature on Ursula the RV then sitting in the gale-force winds that were blowing and letting myself cool by evaporation. And while trying not to faint, I did work on my new cotton socks.
Classic Elite Summer Sox  Socks Start
I think these will be great to wear with my Topsiders or running shoes. But I will be trying to finish that blanket before concentrating on these!

Wow, it was hot over the weekend, and I had some pretty terrible heat exhaustion symptoms. I turn all read and get faint, then I sweat in huge quantities. Luckily we figured out how to get the air conditioning to work again, but I actually felt too bad to knit. I didn't know that was possible! I got a lot doing today as we came home, though. I WILL finish that blanket.

Another Blog

My husband and I (mostly me so far) have started a blog to keep track of what we learn and where we go with Ursula the RV. You are welcome to check it out, if you are interested in where I am going and what I am doing on so many weekends this summer! Check out Lumbering along with Ursula!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some More Yarn

I've really, really cut down on my yarn buying for the last year and a half. Not having a conveniently located yarn shop to hang out in helps, but I have also been consciously trying to use up what I have rather than buy more--it's about time I did that.

But yes, what you see is some new yarn. I keep getting tempted by the yarn my friend Ray at Knitivity makes--I like how the socks come out with his colors--they go with lots of things and wear well. You know I like him and his yarn from all the posts the past few years!

Recently I was thinking how I need more dark socks--most of my yarn is bright and perky. I wanted yarn to match my current mood, ha ha. And Ray was having a deal where you would get a free pattern if you ordered something, so I got one of his classic colorways, After Hours. I was happy to see patterns for a shawl he designed, the Two Ball Shawl, and a really interesting stitch design he came up with--one I'd like to do something with at some point.

I've bought a few skeins from Ray this year, and I think that's about it other than the few things I showed you last month or the month before. So I think I am doing well. I have so much beautiful yarn--I will just find stuff to make with it. Of course, with all the blogging and working lately...when will I knit? Oh, now that I am back at it, I will find the time. And I will keep it simple--I am no longer of the mindset that I am as creative or innovative as those people whose blogs I used to read all the time--I think I'd been trying to "keep up with the   Joneses" or something.

I have a few skeins of sock yarn just sitting around, including the one in the picture. I just enjoy looking at yarn--especially in all the colors I wear, which this one is perfect for!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Why am I so happy? Well, I am baking bread. But also, I finally got INTO blogger so I can post again! How frustrating it was to finally want to blog again, then have Blogger not let me access my blog! It was strange--I used the right password (I could get into gmail just fine) but I was thwarted. It's fixed now, though. Woo!
Toe-up socks with 2x2 rib. The beauty is in the yarn!
I am also sorta happy that I finished this pair of socks--The only reason they took a while is that I only worked on them in the car. And the only reason I am just sorta happy is that I really enjoyed working with this yarn. Since there were no repeats I never knew what color was coming up, so it was fun to see what order the colors showed up in. They are mostly green and yellow, but every other color makes an appearance, as well. I will get a lot of wear out of these, I know.

Once again, the yarn is Creatively Dyed Yarn Calypso, which is 100% merino. I will NOT let anyone wash it in the washer! They were made toe-up using figure-8 cast on of 14 stitches. I used Wendy Johnson's toe-up flat heel construction. There was no special cast off. I just did it loosely and it came out fine.

Perhaps this photo is upside down. In any case, it's the mitered square blankie after 12 rows,
I tried to get an aerial view of the blanket at this point, but this is the best I could do. I have decided I have enough leftovers of each color to make it one row wider, so I think it will end up being 9x14 before I finally start putting on the borders. I think the borders will pull the colors together nicely. 

So I was wondering what I would do with the final product, which will be big enough to sleep under or cover a single bed. So, we went and bought a recreational vehicle to house it in. Don't you think that's a good idea? OK, so if you actually know me in real life, you will know that an intense mid-life crisis, combined with some unexpected funds, led ELAB and me to purchase a used motorhome. Mostly ELAB. The photo above was taken on our first purely recreational trip in the behemoth...err. Ursula. 
Ursula sits in a lovely wooded setting. Sorta hard to get there, but nice once we got her parked!
 That's Ursula Ultrasport above. She is a 2005 model, so not all perfect, but she is pretty nice--certainly nicer than anything I ever expected to own. The real reason to get it was that ELAB's dad is going to need a lot of treatment for his bladder cancer, and there is not space to stay in his trailer. So, we needed a place to stay extended periods (no hotels in the Yorktown, Texas vicinity). ELAB's nephew also brings a bus down, so it turns into a little compound at times.
Krause Springs, Spicewood, Texas
But, since I work on a contract basis and can't really go on long vacations, it is nice to have a way to go explore the area around Austin on weekends. The place we were last weekend is just an hour from our house. This place is a private park, with huge cypress trees and over 30 springs. Just beautiful (though full on Saturday nights). No matter how hot or dry it is, this place is cool and wet! Now I hope we get to go more places and perhaps go with friends. I am thinking of turning my old personal blog into a chronicle of our adventures with Ursula. I can keep track of all the things that break and go wrong, as well as share photos of how pretty or ugly the places we go are. I'll let you know if I do that. I'll try to stick to knitting here.

As for knitting plans, I hope to get a knitting group going again, from the students in my church class. There were just so many icky things the past couple of months that I couldn't get the energy. In addition to dad dying, my stepmom being hospitalized multiple times, and ELAB's dad's illness, I have had a sudden job change (back where I said I would never go again...for the third time) and more stuff I just won't go into. I am hoping things are settling down and I can knit!

I started what I hope will be a pair of summer socks now that the colorful ones are done. I am using the Summer Sox yarn in a self-striping colorway. It's mostly cotton. Will be a nice change, and quick. That's to work on when I am not finishing the mitered square blankie! I'm hoping to teach knitting or crochet to the house guest we have this summer, one of Tuba Boy's college friends. All the visiting and resident kids are the highlight of the summer.So many recent high school grads and college kids home for the summer coming in and out of the place!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Still Enjoying Those Squares

Happy May Day, Mother's Day in the US, and birthday to anyone I've missed on Facebook.

I have 9 rows of mitered squares completed, so I modeled the blanket in progress on my precious car, Ethel (I got her during my haitus--she's a 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman-S and a ton of fun to drive). I am really finding it relaxing to work on this project, and even though I am seeing a few other things I'd like to work on, I'm find just sitting around and working on this, even though that 100% acrylic yarn can be HOT sitting in a huge pile on my lap!

I am through with the bright colors and cycling back to the pastels for the next three rows at least. I will see how long it ends up being then, and decide whether to make it longer or to start the borders at that point. As you can see, I have two colors, the lilac and green, that go all the way across the blanket now. It may look better if I make it long enough to complete the pink squares all the way across. Any ideas or comments?

I am up to the gusset in the socks, which I only work on at music rehearsals and when I need a portable project. It's very pretty, and I will share when I am finished with the heel.

I am feeling a little better, even though this is a day I usually mourn the loss of my mother in 1984, and I am remembering my poor dad, who's been gone a month. But the family cheers me up at the moment, after a few trying weeks/months. College is out of session, so Tuba Boy is back home with his happy mandolin. And he got a JOB, which warms a mother's heart. Both boys made me nice cards, and the Girlfriend of Beccano (yes, she's still around, and got a full scholarship to a nearby college for next year) made me a lovely angel food cake. These cakes are a challenge, so I am so happy this one worked out! Beccano is going to the local community college to study music management while he rocks out. He still has a lot of hair.

I'd write more--I have more topics, ha ha, but it's time for the dinner prepared for me by my spouse. Ahh, Mother's Day is good.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Simple Can Be Good

I got me some new yarn in the mail. As if I have time to knit anything else while working on that big ole blanket! But I saw this stuff and really wanted to make something out of it--it is Sprout by Classic Elite and it's 100% organic cotton. It's very light and has a fun texture. Plus it comes in these beautiful colors, which just happen to go very well in my home decor scheme. I got this from Kaleidoscope Yarns, which was the first place I ever bought yarn online, many years ago. I got free shipping and a free pattern for a baby blanket, which is what I intend to make, only I'll use it as a small throw. 

The pattern is pretty much "knit in garter stitch and change colors every other row until you are out of yarn," with the addition of leaving a fringe on the edges. Very simple. Some would say mind-numbingly so.

But, I don't say that. I am going through a phase where simple knitting feels good. I like building those easy mitered squares in the color-changing yarn. And I have a feeling I will like knitting a nice rectangle with this lovely textured yarn, too. And why not? Just because you CAN knit complex things doesn't mean you always have to. Knitting is not a race, as I tell students, nor is it a competition. My wish for all knitters is that they make projects that bring them joy and pleasure.

I was making so many complex things in the last few years that it was beginning to feel like a job, and I felt pressure (mostly internal, I assure you--no past knitting associates need get upset) to do better and better--to knit fancier projects in fancier yarn. I was being pretty hard on myself when I failed--like when I tried ten times to get that lace shawl to transition to the next level, or when my Shetland shawl self-destructed and I fell apart. Why do that to myself? I like knitting. I like using knitting to zone out and meditate. So, why not make some projects in garter stitch? It can be fun, and the results can be beautiful--I think this color combination will make for beautiful stripes. 

And I am making a sock when I need to do something portable. It is toe up, and with NO patterning on the foot. Just knitting. But look at this yarn! Whoa! It's Creatively Dyed Calypso, with 15 different colors that don't repeat regularly. Stockinette is what looks best with a yarn like this.

I'll probably do a simple rib for the legs. And I will enjoy it, especially since I also, on a whim, got two new types of size 0 needles to see if I like them. One's Kinki Ambari circular bamboo needles. They have a very flexible, clear cable and the bamboo is very, very nice. Haven't started using it yet (thus you see the old Hiya Hiyas in the photo--my Knitpicks size 0s broke when I um, accidentally whacked them in the hospital). The other ones are little teeny Addi Lace turbos. I hadn't tried the little ones yet. I will use those on my other socks in progress, shown here with broken needle and started many months ago:

It's Cookie A's Devon, in Fleece Artist Somoko. I started these last July, then went into knitting hiatus, so there has not been much progress. My bad. Can't do anything with them at all with THOSE needles, anyway! If I get a hankering to do something with yarn overs, I can switch to these, though.

(Ignore the Foo Fighters CD and mosquito repellent in the photo. I didn't style much. We can't find where all the mosquitoes are coming from in our house, but I am SICK of them, I tell you.)

I did want to share one more simple knitting idea for any of you who also want to see what you can do creatively with garter or stockinette stitch. One of the members of an email list I am on but am a bad ole lurker for send the link to this blog post from Annekata. It shows experiments the blogger has done knitting with sewing thread. Doesn't it look ethereal and different? And all it takes is simple stitches--it's the material that is interesting!

OK, I blogged again. I am so proud. Now I think I shall knit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blanket Notes and Synchronicity

I realized something when I was showing my students how to do the mitered squares last night. I realized that, in garter stitch, to get a nice edge by slipping the first stitch, you need to do the yarn like you would switching from purl to knit in seed stitch or ribbing--after you slip the first stitch, move the yarn between that stitch and the second one rather than behind the slipped stitch. You want it to look like what you see in the image at left.

When you are doing stockinette stitch (K one row and P the next), the yarn is already in the back when you slip the stitch, so this is not an issue. With garter stitch, you need to move the yarn.

There is another way to do it, which is to move the yarn to the front then slip the LAST stitch on each row. It's easier to remember to do it right this way, or so I am told.

Anyway, I have revised yesterday's post and the PDF to have information on how to hold the yarn when you slip the stitches. If you see anything else that needs to be added, just let me know.

Printing Patterns

Also, people have said they have trouble printing the blog post with the pattern in it. Here is how I print blog posts from others: I select all the text and images, then I open Microsoft Word and paste all the content into a new document. I can then tweak the font, margins, etc., to my liking, and print it. Hope this helps! Of course, I don't mind emailing the PDFof the mitered square blanket pattern to anyone who asks. And a lot of people have! How nice!

Something Else

I thought I'd show you part of a nice gift I received from my Canadian friend Ramona (who you will note has also not been blogging as much lately). It really helped to lift my spirits as I get used to life without my Dad. But, the story of the gift is what is so cool, and why I truly love the Internet.

It turns out that, unbeknown to me, Ramona had friended my spouse on Facebook and asked him what I liked. That had explained why the unexpected package in the mail smelled so wonderful--it was full of rose scented soap. What was not explained was the return address--it wasn't from my friend. The return address was only a couple of blocks away from the house where I had spent my really wonderful childhood, in Gainesville, Florida (very far from Toronto). I tried to figure out what old neighbor might still live there!

When I opened the package, I saw so many wonderful things, including the ceramic mug shaped like a ball of yarn and luscious hand-spun yarn that you see here. These were made by a very talented ceramicist, soap maker and fiber artist, who sells on Etsy and knew Ramona from another friend...insert Twilight Zone music. Yes, Haldechick lives where I lived over 40 years ago, and sees my old playhouse and the amazing camellias and azaleas my dad planted nearly every day when she walks her dog! When I told her what happened, she sent me a lovely email, and when I told my knitting friends in Gainesville (and I am there because my high school friend and fellow knitter Kelli invited me!) they invited her to join their Facebook group of local knitters. What a wonderful set of sychronicities! I get goosebumps thinking about what a small world I really live in.

When I start to feel alone or isolated, I realize what a wide net of friendship I have cast via my online activities. I have so many wonderful knitting friends from blogs and Ravelry. I have hundreds of friends around the world from my job at the nonprofit organization. And so many of my relatives, plus my old friends from high school, college, grad school and my early jobs are still in touch thanks to Facebook! And to be honest, I am pretty sure I stay in touch better with my local friends via Facebook than any other way--we have lots of fun.

So I am happy with the Internet, and truly thankful for ALL of the kind words and thoughts I have received over the past few weeks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mitered Square Blanket Pattern

I got a lot of requests for the pattern for the blanket I am working on. So, I tried to write this out in a format that my beginning knitting students might also be able to use. There is probably far more detail here than an experienced knitter needs, but you can skip any part that's completely obvious to you!

Here are generic instructions for making a rectangle out of mitered squares. You can choose the yarn, colors and arrangement of squares to suit your taste. The photo at left shows a blanket made of worsted weight squares arranged in a 4-patch pattern with solids and variegated yarns. Extra technique explanations are given so the pattern can be used with new or beginning knitters.

Materials and Gauge: Any weight of yarn that you want to use. This project can consist of small squares from sock yarn, up to large squares from a bulky weight. Use something you have a lot of. You can use solids, self-striping or other types of yarn, and can use one color or multiples.

Needles: Use needles that give you a nice, solid garter stitch with the yarn you choose. I’d recommend for the average knitter, size 2 or 3 needles in fingering, 4 or 5 in sport, 5 or 6 in DK, 6-8 in worsted, and 8-10 in bulky weight. Use what you think looks good. You can use straight or circular needles.

Abbreviations and Techniques:
K = knit
K3tog = Knit three together OR any double decrease that appeals to you. I like [sl1, k2tog, PSSO (pass slipped stitch over)] and [Sl 2 tog as if to knit, K1, PSSO]. For a uniform look, pick one decrease style and stick with it.
Sl = Slip: move the next stitch to the right needle without knitting it. Be sure to move the yarn between the first and second stitch. This creates an easy edge for picking up stitches.
Pick up = Picking up stitches means to build a new row of loops on the edge of a piece of knitting. Usually, if you have slipped the first stitch of each row, you can create one stitch for each loop along the side. To do this, put the needle under the edge loop, wrap yarn around it, and bring it up, creating a stitch. Do this for each look. To get started, double the yarn for 2-3 inches and bring up the first look with from the loop this created, then for the first two or three stitches you pick up, use both pieces of yarn to anchor it. You can weave the rest in later.

First Square
Cast on 41 stitches.
Row 1 (wrong side): K across
Row 2 (Right side): Sl 1, K 18, K3tog, K19
Row 3: Sl 1, K across
Row 4: Sl1, K17, K3tog, K18
Row 5: Repeat row 3
Row 6: Sl1, K16, k3tog, K17

Repeat the pattern you see in rows 2-6. Slip one, knit to the center 3 stitches, knit those together and knit to the end, then Slip one and knit on the back side. Eventually you will have just 3 stitches. Knit them together and fasten off (if you are using one color, there is no need to fasten off).

Rest of First Row
Pick up 21 stitches, starting where you left off the previous square and going down, toward where the k3tog of the first square started (this will keep them all going the same direction—see illustration at the end). The last stitch will be in the corner. Cast on 20 stitches using the knitted cast-on method.

Row 1: K across
Rows 2 and forward: Same as for first square.
Repeat this square until your blanket is as wide as you want it to be.

Second and Subsequent Rows
First Square: Cast on 20 then pick up 21 sts in the loops on the top right square. Start in the corner. Repeat mitered square instructions from the first square.

Rest of row: Pick up 20 stitches down the side of the square you just finished. Pick up ONE stich in the center between the two squares you are working off. Pick up 20 more stitches across the square in the previous row. Repeat mitered square instructions.

Keep building rows of squares until the blanket is the size you want it to be.

It looks nice to finish these projects with a garter stitch border. I usually pick up one stitch per loop across the top and knit in garter stitch for at least an inch in a color that coordinates with the project. Then I repeat at the bottom (you will be picking up from your cast on, but the knitted cast on makes loops it is pretty easy to pick up from. When you are finished with that, pick up across the border, the squares and the other border for each side.

Another option is to do it like a log cabin quilt and do the top, then a side, then the bottom, then the other side, picking up from each border you add as well as the squares.

Weave in ends. If you do this neatly, the back will be nearly as pretty as the front.

This picture shows a blanket in progress. It is made with a DK weight self-striping yarn (James C. Brett Marble) in a variety of colorways, creating diagonal stripes from the squares.

Note that you don’t have to start with 41 stitches. Any odd number that works for you is fine. The idea is to slip the first stitch on each row and knit the center three stitches together on right-side rows while knitting the rest in garter stitch. By increasing or decreasing the number of stitches you start with, you will have larger or smaller squares. You can really be creative with sizes and colors of squares.

 ©2011 Sue Ann Kendall

PS: I'm no longer sending out PDFs of this, because I no longer use that email address. But if you want the pattern, click the Ravelry link above. (February 2016)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Year.

I've been a bit of a hermit, taking a cue from my spouse, I guess. Knitting was not bringing me pleasure, so I sorta stopped. I did a lot of singing with Funkatonic, the rock band at our UU church, and hanging out with my family, who have been very kind and patient with me. I've done a lot of internal work and feel a lot better about lots of things these days. Feels good.

I've needed the additional strength. A few weeks after a really lovely 80th birthday party, my dad was in a really awful auto accident, and passed away after two weeks in intensive care. I spent a lot of time in North Carolina, and while sitting by his side or in the waiting room, I finished a pair of socks.
I called these Farewell socks, as they kept me centered while I said farewell to Dad.

I finished the second sock during the week we spent there for his memorial and all the unpleasant business details afterward. My brother and I did really well and held up each other--ELAB and the kids were also really helpful. I got to see many of my relatives, some of whom I had not seen in many years, and that was comforting.

I got some really lovely cards and Facebook messages from knitting friends, and if you were one of them, know how much your thoughts meant to me. I have a story to share about kind knitting friends, too--maybe next post.

Since I have been back, I have wanted to work on something that doesn't tax my brain. I am still a little fuzzy. So, I decided to take all that Marble yarn I bought last year, supplemented with additional colors I got, and make another mitered square blanket.

I am just making diagonal lines with each color of yarn. These are smaller squares than the last one, and thinner yarn, so I will have more squares. When I am done with the squares (I think it will be 8x10), I should have a lot of yarn left over for thicker borders. All nice garter stitch and easy picking up of each square's foundations from previous squares.

I have also been teaching a knitting class as part of the adult classes at the UU church. I had really, really missed teaching knitting, though it has been a challenge, since all the issues with Dad took up the first 4 weeks. Maybe I will get another chance later.

Thanks for reading, if there's anyone still here. I will see if I can pick up blogging again.