Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Knitting Weather

Just for fun, I've paraphrased our current Detailed Local Forecast:

Tonight:  Windy with rain likely.  Thunder possible.
Tomorrow:  Cloudy with showers.
Tomorrow night:  Cloudy skies with a few showers later at night.
Thursday:  Rain showers in the morning will evolve into a more steady rain in the afternoon.
Friday:  Rain.
Saturday:  Showers.

I've been making great use of the hand knits in all of this weather,
so I giggled my way through this video from Pringle of Scotland:
(I borrowed the video from YouTube.  You can also watch it here.)

Thank you to my hilarious friend Karen for sharing the link!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

FO: Socks for Stitches

I'm heading out to Stitches West this morning and I can barely contain my excitement.  I've packed, walked the dog, fed the goats and chickens, and got the boy off to school.  That leaves me a few extra minutes to take pictures of my feet and write a quick post about my new Marlene socks:

Pattern:  Marlene by Cookie A
Source:  PDF from the Vogue Knitting website
Materials:  1 skein Miss Babs Windsor sock yarn, and US 2 (2.75 mm) needles
Modifications:  None!  The pattern gives instruction for only one size, but the stitch pattern is so stretchy that these would fit a wide variety of feet sizes by simply adjusting for length.

I bought this yarn at Stitches last year, and I'm happy to have made use of it in time to wear these socks when I am back at the convention this year.  I'm especially pleased because I'm taking a class from Cookie A, who wrote this pattern.  Knitting up these cleverly designed socks made me appreciate Cookie A's genius even more.  I can't wait to come back home with new sock yarn and fresh sock knitting ideas.

If you happen to be attending Stitches too, and you spot me, please say Hello!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Turkish Bed Socks pair #2

I am very excited to say that I knit the last few rows of my Oak Knot Hat at our knitting group meeting last night.  I can't wait to wear it, even if it is sunny and unseasonably warm here.

I haven't had a chance to photograph the hat, but I am linking up with FO Friday to post my latest pair of Turkish Bed Socks, which I knit for my wonderful sister.

The socks were finished despite my best efforts to avoid seaming. The pattern calls for sewing up part of the heel prior to knitting the foot of the sock.  When I reached this portion of the knitting program, procrastination reared its ugly head.

I tried to do it right away.  I really, really tried.  I actually threaded a needle, opened my Knitter's Companion to the appropriate page, and seamed a few stitches.

Then, mysteriously, I found a sudden and urgent need to:  build a fire in the fireplace, bake a pumpkin pie, and take the dog for a walk. It's amazing what else gets accomplished around here when there is seaming to be done!

When I couldn't think of any more reasons to procrastinate (and because I wanted my sister to have her socks) I did sit down, finish the seams, and knit on.

Pattern: Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Source:  PDF download on Ravelry or from Churchmouse
Materials:  Malabrigo Yarn Sock in "Persia", and US 2 needles
Modifications:  This is a clever pattern which results in a cute little sock, but as with many published patterns, Ravelers have made improvements on it.  Following the lead of other knitters, I used a smaller needle size for a tighter fabric, and a cozier sock.  My sister's feet are small enough that I could tighten up the gauge without worrying about whether or not I was making the socks too narrow for her feet.  To adjust the length of the sock I just knit extra rows before beginning the toe decreases.

Note to self for future modifications: 
After it was too late for me to change this particular pair, I found these great notes from Raveler "skip8" giving an alternative to seaming.  I will soon make a pair for myself and try this method.  
Isn't Ravelry wonderful?

I admire those knitters who tackle seaming with aplomb.  To me, seaming is kind of like knitting's evil twin who comes along on your playdate despite your best efforts to ditch her.  The best I can say about it is that I have learned to manage it well enough that I don't mind it quite as much as I used to.

What about you?  Does finishing work bring out the procrastinator in you, or have you conquered your fear of seaming?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How I Cured my Knitting Angst

Yippee!  It's WIP Wednesday and for once I am knitting something just for me.  Ever since I received the Juju's Loops pattern book in the mail I've been suffering from severe cast on cravings.  After writing about my knitting angst, I got a grip on myself and dealt with it in a methodical fashion.

First, I seamed, washed and blocked the latest gift in my knitting queue.  (More about that on Friday.)

Then, I mailed the rest of the gifts which couldn't be delivered in person.

Next, I organized my stash to confirm that I didn't already have yarn for the Oak Knot hat.  Fortunately, I  remembered I had some Jimmy Beans Wool reward bucks coming, and ordered some Tosh DK in my favorite color:

madelinetosh in "fig"

Yesterday, I wound the yarn, made myself a cup of tea . . . 

          . . . and had my own little knitting party.

I think I'm cured!

Friday, January 27, 2012

FO Friday: Manly Hat

It's FO Friday and I am looking forward to seeing everyone's finished projects.

The manly hat is ready to go.  I first queued this Jacques Cousteau Hat months ago, but then waffled about the pattern choice when it actually came time to knit the gift.  After all of your helpful suggestions, I came back to the original pattern inspiration as it was my husband's favorite.  The hat worked out and the time spent waffling produced a good list of manly hat patterns to choose from for future gift knitting.

My husband modeled the FO for me while giving our goats a treat.

The layers of color in the Tosh Vintage show off the unusual crown decreases in the otherwise basic ribbed hat.

Without prompting, my husband commented "It's a comfy hat.  It's warm, soft, and light."  He liked it so much I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get it back and mail it off.  Now I know what to knit when he is ready for a new hat.

Pattern:  Jacques Cousteau Hat by Lalla Pohjanpalo
Source:  free on Lalla's blog
Materials:  madelinetosh vintage in "ink", and US 6 needles
Modifications:  Because I was using a worsted weight yarn in a pattern calling for DK, I went up in needle size and cast on fewer stitches.  More details Raveled here.

Here is one more photo for good measure, just because Benny is so cute . . .  obnoxious sometimes, but cute.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Knitting Angst

I've been a knitting fiend this past week, prioritizing the knitting above all else in order to finish the last couple of gifts in my queue. After all, who needs a clean house?

The manly hat (the very last item waiting to be rescued from the island of unfinished Christmas presents) is being blocked.  I meant to have the boy model it for me today but I forgot.  It will have to wait for FO Friday.

The Howlcat, which I am knitting as a chemo cap for my friend Angie, just needs the ends woven in.

As soon as I bound off the Howlcat, I cast on for a new pair of Turkish Bed Socks for my sister.  You may remember that I made a pair for her last year.  But when I visited her in Portland over the holidays, I found out that my niece absconded with them  adopted the house socks for herself.  Not one to pass up the opportunity for yarn shopping, I offered to make a new pair for my sister if she wanted to pick the color this time.

So off we went to Knit Purl where she chose this Malabrigo:

Malabrigo Sock in "Persia"-  She has good taste.

I haven't gotten very far, but they will be a quick knit.

I am ready for some selfish knitting.  I'm so excited to cast on a new project for myself that I don't even know what to knit.  When my husband was little, the first time he went to Baskin-Robbins he was so overwhelmed by having 31 flavors to choose from that he left without having any ice cream!  That is how I feel right now.  I must have spent a full hour looking over Juju's Loops and trying to match up one of the patterns with yarn from the stash, but nothing seemed perfect enough to satisfy that need to cast on.  I will probably have an easier time choosing when all the gifts really are done and delivered.

Meanwhile, knitting angst is probably a good problem to have, right?  Maybe a little Work-in-Progress Wednesday inspiration will be just the cure I need!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Direct from London

True confession time:
In the midst of all of the gift shopping and gift knitting last month, I indulged in a little splurge for myself.  I saw this online and couldn't resist even though I had to pay for overseas shipping.  Soon after, this sweet little package arrived in the mail:

Opening it made me happy.

Reading through this little book makes me want to knit just about each and every pattern from the designers at Loop.  Actually, as I browse through the beautifully photographed pages, what I really want to do is jump on a plane to London and visit Loop.  But for now, I will content myself with knitting a few patterns.  Here are my favorites from the book:

Brown-Eyed Susan:
This shawl is pictured on the cover of the book in a different color.

Cinnamon Girl:
This cardi looks fun to knit and versatile to wear.

Oak Knot
I plan to knit this first. 

I like the texture of these fingerless gloves.

And now I must go re-order my Ravelry queue!

Friday, January 20, 2012

FO Friday: A gift for a knitter

 When giving away hand knits, it is nice to feel that they will be appreciated, and who appreciates hand knits more than knitters themselves?  Steph knows how to knit, but as a college professor with 3 young kids, she probably doesn't have enough free time to make something like Citron for herself.  So I do believe this is one gift that is going to a good home.
Even the third time around, I still love this pattern!
Pattern:  Citron by Hilary Smith Callis
Materials:  The yarn is Schaefer Audrey in "Spruce".  I really like how the ruched rows turned out in this beautiful 50% wool/50% silk yarn.  I used US 3 circular needles to knit and US 5 to bind off.
Modifications:  I knit this in a smaller gauge than called for in the pattern, so I added a 6th section to make it large enough.  I also learned a great new stretchy bind off from YouTube here.

Even with an extra section, my version of Citron in a smaller gauge is more like a scarf or cowl:
I am halfway done with Steph's husband's hat so I'll save that for the next post.  Even though I didn't quite finish in time to get both gifts in the mail this week, I was certainly motivated to knit more quickly by participating in FO Friday.  Thanks Tami!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Still gift knitting, plus a recipe!

I almost didn't post today because my WIPs haven't changed much since last Wednesday.  Since writing that post I was busy getting ready for the marathon, and then catching up on work afterwards, so not much knitting happened.  But I do hope to post the unfinished Christmas gifts I mentioned by this Friday so I thought it would still be fun to check in with Work-in-Progress Wednesday #76 at Tami's.

The 2 projects I hope to finish this week are Steph's Citron, and a hat for her husband.  I'm still cranking away on the ruffle of the Citron.  When I did the last increase row I found a new source of stitch markers, the leftover rubber bands from the boy's braces:
You may recognize these "stitch markers" if you've ever had braces.
They work great, and it doesn't really matter if you lose them.
Our 15 yr. old had most of his braces removed last week.  He has been waiting 2 1/2 years to be able to eat popcorn again.  I promised him I would make one of his favorite snacks when the big day arrived, homemade kettle corn.  It is such a yummy snack so I thought I would share the recipe I found.

All you need is popcorn, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.  When I googled it to double check the proportions I found this wonderful blog post with the recipe and instructions from Savory Sweet Life.

Next up is the hat for James.  I have been thinking about using my skein of Tosh Vintage in Ink for a Jacques Cousteau Hat.  When I mentioned that I was still undecided about the pattern, I got some great suggestions.  Here is a list of the choices along with links:

1)  My first thought was the Jacques Cousteau Hat, but now I'm not sure.
2)  Aimee who knows a little something about knitting hats, suggested the Marsan Watch Cap.
3)  Jeanne suggested the Botanic Hat (if I can find a good contrast color).  Here is her version which came out great!
4)  Betsy suggested A Hat Fit for a Boyfriend which looks like a good pattern too.

Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone!  Now it is even harder to decide.  Which one do you all think I should knit?  I can knit a hat in two days, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We did it!

My friend Tera and I ran the Redding Marathon together this past Sunday.  Here we are just after we crossed the finish line and received our medals:
As a knitter, it gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure that my medal identifies me as a "finisher", and I view it as my first official FO of 2012!  My readers will not be surprised that I can always find ways to apply lessons learned while running to knitting, and vice versa:
  • Running the race felt a lot like knitting a sweater.  It was challenging, but in the end, just as the most complicated pattern is made up of simple knit and purl stitches, we finished the race simply by putting one foot in front of the other. 
  • Both hobbies allow for an individual sense of accomplishment, while both are even more enjoyable when shared with friends.
  • The act of knitting just requires two sticks and a string, and all you really need for a good run is a decent pair of shoes.  Yet the more miles you run or yards you knit, the more you appreciate a few good pieces of gear.  On Sunday, I appreciated my running pants, moisture-wicking socks, and jogging bra almost as much as my Addi Lace knitting needles and a skein of cashmere.
  • Both activities are greatly improved with the addition of chocolate!
  • Just as it is nice to have your knitting friends ooh and aah over a finished object, it was so fun to feel supported by friends and family before, during, and after the race.  Relatives phoned and emailed encouragement before the race.  During the race my husband and son acted as our support team, meeting us on the trail with extra drinks, cheering us on, and later bringing us home to celebratory balloons and cold beer!
Best of all was nearing the finish line along with Tera (who has motivated me in both knitting and running) and then finding my knitting group pals waiting for us at the end of the race on the Sundial Bridge:
I am so lucky to have such a great group of friends!
I hope to do it again sometime.  Meanwhile, just in case I thought I was done testing my endurance, I'm off to finish knitting my 3rd Citron.  I've added a 6th section, and knitting the ruffle will equal 11 rows of 636 stitches.  So at least I still have a knitting marathon to look forward to.

Friday, January 13, 2012

FO Friday: Felted Stockings

Pattern:  Christmas Stockings by Leigh Radford
Source:  AlterKNITS Felt
Materials:  multiple skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in various colors ; US 8 and US 10 circular needles
Modifications:  I used duplicate stitch and these wonderful alphabet charts to add the name of each giftee on the cuffs of the stockings.  After the first try, I doubled the strand of yarn for the duplicate stitching to make the name stand out more.

I used a double strand to stitch the name on the stocking on the left.

I realize January 13th may be a little late to be posting about these, but as I mentioned on Wednesday, I'm still knitting some of these.  It's never too early to start getting ready for Christmas 2012!

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting and felting these.  Leigh Radford has come up with a pattern to appeal to the knitter who wants to make a less traditional stocking.  I can easily imagine these fun stockings hanging on the mantels of Whoville.  The book includes instructions for the stocking in 2 sizes.  My family members wanted the larger ones.  You can see below how the larger size compares to our store-bought stockings.

More room for treats and gifts!

AlterKNITS Felt includes many other intriguing felted patterns, and a very informative section on the ins and outs of felting.  I borrowed the book from a friend to make the stockings and now I think it would be worth owning a copy for myself.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  I know I will spend part of mine perusing knitting blogs at Tami's Amis FO Friday link party.  Join in the fun here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Island of Unfinished Christmas Gifts

I hope all my knitting friends had a wonderful time over the winter holidays and are enjoying the new year!  Despite the lack of blogging, I kept knitting through the winter break and finished quite a few gifts.  But a funny thing happened.  Just as fast as I knit and checked things off the list, new items were added.  Remember the Yarn Harlot's theory about knitter's chronically underestimating the amount of time it takes to knit something?  Yeah.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

In any case, my knitting needles now hold WIPs which I started with good intentions of finishing in time to mail along with the Christmas cookies.  Well, the baked goods were shipped long ago, the tree was taken down last weekend, and I'm still knitting a few gifts!  So I thought I would write my first post of 2012 with a round up of those WIPs.

Here goes:

 #1) Just as the shoemaker's children go barefoot, this knitter put her husband's knit gift at the end of the to-do list.  Here is the current state of the Christmas stocking he requested:

This is actually the third in a row of stockings I worked on and I will share the other FOs soon.  I love the Malabrigo colors he chose:  "Apple" and "Ravelry Red".   His stocking will get finished eventually, and by the way, I did remember Yarn Harlot's advice.  Her solution to a quickly-approaching gift deadline is to remember that a book can be a really good gift.  So my DH got a couple of good books along with some other nice presents.  Now I can say I'm just getting an early start for Christmas 2012!  Meanwhile, at least someone is getting to enjoy the stocking:

 #2)  I am also almost done with yet another Citron, this time for my husband's cousin.  When we learned that she and her family would be able to visit on Christmas, I got excited and ordered enough yarn to make gifts for all 5 of them.  The kids' hats were finished on time and well received but the Citron got put aside when I decided to add an extra section to it:

The rows of ruching are so pretty in Schaefer's Audrey yarn in "Spruce", so I hope Steph will think the gift was worth the wait.

 #3)  Admittedly, this last item is still only technically a WIP in my mind.  In other words, it is not even on the needles yet, but I've had the yarn and pattern set aside for some time with my other Christmas knitting, so I'm counting it!
This Tosh Vintage in "Ink" is destined to become a Jacques Cousteau Hat for Steph's husband.  It is a nice pattern, but since I have yet to cast on I am still open to suggestions if anyone knows of a good masculine hat pattern . . .

I'll show off some of the FO goodness on Friday, and then I'm going to run in my first marathon on Sunday.  After the big day, I will have more time for knitting and blogging!  And then I look forward to getting back into the WIP Wednesday swing of things on a regular basis, where you can probably see knitter's working on items other than late Christmas presents!