Saturday, December 28, 2013

Got to love those gift certificates!

I just got back from my local yarn store. I was armed with a gift certificate from my boss and made a great haul. This pile will make a pair of socks, three hats, two pair of fingerless gloves.

Here's what I bought:

  • Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK - 2 skeins. Pale Pink. These will be made into fingerless gloves (seems I am in a rut -- if you can call that -- with fingerless gloves.
  • Plymouth Diversity sock yarns. Yellow Orange white. Further in the skein the colors change to pink and purple. -- Obviously, socks.
  • Berroco Remix -  Tan.  I have some hat patterns I want to try. One of these patterns will get this skein.
  • Mirasol - Nuna in Navy. 3 Skeins. I loved the color and sheen of this yarn. Probably will end up a hat and gloves, maybe a scarf.

Now I just wish I had enough to do these plus the 2000+- projects in my stash in the yarn room. If I live long enough to use it all up, I will be over 175 years old!

Stay tuned. Back to the needles.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Variations on a theme

I posted my pattern of fingerless gloves a couple of days ago, but that is just the beginning. Here are three more sets of fingerless gloves using the Lilly's Fingerless Pattern (December 23, 2013), all from different yarns, different sized needles, and the numbers of stitches.

The maroon gloves were made with a 100% worsted wool. The original pattern calls for an aran wool which is a little bulkier, but the worsted worked very well.  I used size 9 needles and the larger size of the pattern.  Since it was made for a woman's hands, I also made it a little longer to cover more of the wrists. 

This blue pair is made with bulky yarn, 100% acrylic. I used size 11 needles and the smaller size pattern. The gloves ended up with a nice thick finish and perfect for a man's hands. Since the yarn is washable, it makes them very rugged pair. Also I want able to knit them in a couple of hours while watching a football game.

This pair is made out of an alpaca and wool mix.  It is a a sport weight yarn so I adjust the pattern again. I used size 7 needles and cast on 40 stitches.  I extended the thumb out to 10 stitches (instead of 8), but everything else is the same. I gave these to my husband and he has hardly taken them off! His home office gets cold, so they are perfect for him.

Now I have to pick out my next project.  I have two days before I have to go back to work so ...

Back to the needles.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! Free pattern Lilly Fingerless Gloves

Using big yarn and big needles, you can knock these mitts out in quick fashion. I made three sets over the weekend for last minutes gifts. One pair was done with super bulky yarn and size 11 needles for my boss, using the same numbers and they turned out great. (I'll put the pictures of the other two sets in the next day or two). This purple pair, I made for me!

Lilly Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves may be a fad today, but they are actually from the Victorian era. At those times, young ladies were expected to learn to play music and sing, as well as needlecrafts such as knitting, embroidery, and sewing. To keep her hands warm but still free to play the piano, fingerless gloves were not only fashionable, but functional.  

A few years ago, these gloves came back into fashion as computer gloves.  In order to stave off the chills of low thermostats in the winter or air conditioning in the summer, these gloves made working on computer keyboards a must. 

Today, they are also called texting gloves, allowing thumbs to racing across cell phones keypads while keeping hands warm.  No matter what you use them for, they are a delightful accessory to any wardrobe.

Sizes: Ladies' Medium (Large).

2 skeins Classic Elite Yarns Chateau  (70% baby Alpaca; 25% Bamboo Vicose Alpaca), or any Aran-weight yarn.
Size 10 (6.0 mm) double pointed needles
2 stitch marker
Stitch holder
Yarn needle
Gauge: 10 stitches (5 ribs) = 2”. (A precise gauge is not critical because this is a very stretchy stitch)

Special Stitch: Twisted Knit - Knit into the back of the loop.

Cast on 28 (32) stitches. Join being careful not to twist the stitches. Place marker.

Every round: *K1 in twisted stitch, P1.* Continue from * in the round until piece measures 5”.

Round 1: Inc 1, k2, inc 1, place marker, continue in twisted rib pattern to end. 30 (34) stitches
Round 2: Knit in twisted rib pattern.
Round 3: Inc 1, k4, inc 1, continue in pattern to end. 32 (36) stitches
Round 4: Knit in twisted rib pattern.
Round 5: Knit in twisted rib pattern.
Round 6: Inc 1, k6, inc 1, continue in pattern to end. 34 (38) stitches
Round 7: Knit in twisted rib pattern.
Round 8: Knit in twisted rib pattern.

Next round: Place the stitches between the markers on a holder. Cast on 4 stitches. Continue knitting in twisted rib pattern to end of round.
Next round: Knit in twisted rib pattern.
Next round: K2 tog twice. Continue knitting in twisted rib pattern to the end of round.
Every round:  Continue knitting in the round in twisted rib pattern for 3” from cast on edge or desired length.
Bind off in pattern.

Put the 8 stitches from the holder on the double pointed needles. Join yarn and knit 8 stitches. Pick up 2 stitches from the cast on edge of the hand. Place marker. Join to the first stitch.
Knit two rows.
Next round.* K1 in twisted stitch, P1.* Continue from * in the round until thumb measures 1½ (2)” or desired length.
Bind off.

Cut yarn, leaving an 8” tail.  Weave in ends.

Neko takes a sniff and approves.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Solstice!

I am hoping to get back to my blogging and knitting after the holidays!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Colorado Baby Hat

A friend of mine is having a baby in a couple of months. I wanted to give her a Colorado hat (see the entry of November 17, 2012), but I designed my hat for an adult. So I decided to try a few modifications to fit a wee head.

I basically used the same pattern as the adult hat with a sock yarn and size 2 needles. I reduced the number of stitches by 12 (96 to 84), but I kept the stitches of the design the same. It turned out really nice and I think baby Reagan will really like it. The yarn is a cotton and bamboo blend so it will be fine for a spring baby. The baby is a girl but this hat is perfect for both boys and girls.

Tonight I am finishing my purple shawl. I swear. Only a couple of rows to do, but since it's the bottom of the shawl, there are about a million stitches in one row.

Well, back to the needles. Those rows won't do it themselves.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

After Thanksgiving Blues -- and Purple and Greens and Reds

Lorne's Vegetarian Turkey

Ahhh! Thanksgiving is over. The dishes are all washed and put away until the next holiday. I finished my job last week and start my new job on Monday. The house is clean(ish) and all the company has returned to their respective homes. The house belongs to me again and I am going to spend the next two days knitting. I will finish my purple shawl (wait until you see it). I am making a Colorado hat for my pregnant friends and some fingerless gloves for another friend. I don't plan to move from my knitting chair until Monday.

The "under 30" group
I hope all you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was wonderful. My son Lorne made a vegetarian turkey and Dane, Ken, Lorne played music.

Back to the needles.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Old Dog, New Tricks - My First Adventure into Toe-Up Socks

I have been knitting since I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. I was so young that I don't even remember learning how. I know it was before I could read. My mother loved to tell the story about one of my first days of school when I recited the alphabet back to the teacher. I said "H, I, J, Knit, L, M, N, O Purl."

I grew up on the prairies of South Dakota so our winters were spent trying to keep warm. Grandma lived only a few miles from us so she was at our house often. Mom and Grandma would sit in the parlor knitting and talking. Since I was a restless child (I think that is what they used to call ADHD), they taught me to give me something to do. Soon I was knitting slipper and doll clothes. I never really played with dolls, but I knitted clothes for them. I also remember knitting hats for my many cats.

I started knitting socks when I was in grade school. It was an easy transition because doll clothes were often done on double-pointed needles. Every single sock I ever knitted was on cuff down and I haven't used a pattern from beginning to end in years. I would look for a lace or rib pattern to use on the sock, do the math, and just start knitting. I have always done the toes and the heels the exact same way. After all, if something works, why fix it.

So at the ripe old age of 60 (yes, I am admitting my age), I decided to try my first pair of toe up socks. It's not like I had anything against toe-up socks; I could just knit socks faster cuff down. However when I found a pattern for hearts as the lace pattern in a toe-up pattern, it was time for this old dog to learn a new trick. I had this bright, bright scarlet red sock that was perfect for a heart lace pattern. So following a sock pattern -- remember I haven't followed a sock pattern from beginning to end in years, if ever -- and tackled a new way of doing toes and heels.  And I loved it! Not only is it fun, but the fit over my toes is even better than my cuff down. It is probably also the joy of learning something new.

So the lesson here is even after knitting for 55+ years, there are always new adventures, new skills, and new methods to learn, not just in knitting, but in life as well. And who knows, maybe one day I'll even try knitting socks on circular needles! Hmm, I'm not so sure about that. I really love my DPNs!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Knitting Journal

I am at heart a writer. I write for a living and I write for fun. I write serious fiction and I write comedy. So it would only make sense that I would not only do a knitting blog, but I have a personal hand-written personal journal as well. I carry it with me most of the time and the condition of my journal proves that it is well-used and well-loved.

Yes, it has come apart, but it
is a blessing because it is
easier to carry with me.
I don't mind if you read it because it is dedicated to my knitting observations only. You will not find any personal secrets of my dislike of most green-colored yarns, heart-felted confusions of liking double-point needles over circular needles, or descriptions of clandestine rendezvous with crochet hooks or weaving looms.

My key to color-coding my notes, and
a cheat sheet on how to do the
Kitchener stitch, because I can
never remember how to do it.
I use my journal keep track of what I am knitting. My journal has come to my rescue many times when I pick up a dormant project and can't remember what pattern I was using. I color-code my projects as starting (green), progressing (pink), frogged (red), and finished (orange). Besides, it's fun to go back a year or so and see what I was working on at the time. Sometime I see a project I completely forgot about and go down to my craft room to find it and finish it.

My journal is a perfect place to create charts or
copy one from my books to take with me.
Although I make many of my own stickers, I
will purchase some if I really like them.
The stickers are just a very fun and entertaining way to play with my journal. I usually make my own stickers. I have copies of my favorite photographs either ones I have taken or ones I have copied from the net. I include pictures of my family and, of course my cat Neko, just to make me smile while I write. I put in knitting-related cartoons and memes I find on Facebook. I also include pictures of my completed projects because I take a picture of everything I finished. (I love digital cameras!)  I arranged them on a Word document and print them out on full sheet sticker paper -- it comes in white or clear paper. I usually use the white because my journal is graph paper and the lines show through.

I put the stickers on a
few pages ahead of time and
write around the photos.
I like the graph paper so I can make charts of what I am knitting.  Then I don't have to carry a pattern or a book with me. I like the design of this journal so much that I purchased another one to use once I have finished this one.  However, since I have used only a little over half of this journal in three years, I think I am set for a decade or so.

I don't consider the writing in my journal any piece of artistic genius. It is a dumping ground for my thoughts so great writing isn't a priority.  I will put quotes and saying that I like in there as well, but anyone reading my journal will become quickly become bored. They would like the pictures and knitting charts better than anything I write.
I include a lot of pictures of my sons in my journal
as well as many of my Neko

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! 

And here is a picture of my beautiful black kitty:

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful,
because frankly I really don't care
what you think."  -- Neko

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beware the Footfalls in the Middle of the Night

You are heavily in sleep, maybe even dreaming about a beautiful place -- a yarn store? a book store? You are suddenly drawn out of that blissful state of sleep by one of the most dreaded sounds for a cat owner. Haack! Haack! Haack! Awwwwwwwk!

You know what happened. It's probably on the carpet -- or in the clean laundry basket -- or the afghan that drifted to the floor in the middle of the night.  The hair ball. You know you should get up and look for it. You are hoping that your spouse heard it too and maybe he'll get up to look for it.  Of course, he is laying there awake as well, hoping you will get up instead.

You want to go back to sleep, but then you realize you have to go to the bathroom. Once you're up, it's over. It becomes your responsibility to locate and clean up the hair ball.  Even if you don't do it now, it becomes your duty in the morning.  He will say, "Why didn't you clean it up when you got up last night." It doesn't work to say, "Ah ha! You were awake!" <<Insert domestic responsibility argument here.>>

So you get out of bed to head to the bathroom when your bare feet steps on something warm and slimy. That's it.  All sense of peace and well-being is gone. Your gross-out factor has been raised to the nth degree and you might just throw up a hairball yourself. You hop to the sink -- which in the dark is quite a feat -- to wash the goop between your toes, gagging the entire time. Still, your spouse sleeps, or pretends to sleep.  I think he might even be laughing.

As you are washing your foot in the cold water (because you can't wait until the hot water comes), a fluffy tail ribs against your other leg.  The soft and gentle meow comes from the black ball reminding you that he is hungry, and after all, you are up, and since he threw up, he now has room in his tummy for more food.

Now I'm wide awake and will never get back to sleep. My foot is cold and wet and there is still a mess on the carpet. My cat is trying to be cute and adorable so I will feed him. My spouse is laughing while pretending he is still asleep. I think the cat is laughing too.

It's a good thing Neko is so cute. My spouse -- not so much.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Treat of Living in Roxborough - GOATS

Roxborough is one of those Colorado communities considered the foothills. Because of that, we are always in danger of forest fires. Pike's National Park starts (or ends, depending on your perspective, at the back of our house. It is beautiful but a fire could change everything, and in several mountain and foothills communities, that has happened over the past several years.
A small slice of 400 goats by our deck.

So our neighborhood took the unusual step of protecting itself with goats. Yes, 400 male goats with horns and beards and huge appetites. This week, the goats were moved to the valley below our house and what a treat! They had no interest in the people watching them; they just wanted to munch and munch.  The sound of 400 sets of grinding teeth was amusing, but so was the 'other sounds' goats make when eating lots and lots of fiber.

Moving the goats around Roxborough
And yes, the mountain lion has been in the area and I understand the lion got one of the goats last week. The owners of the goats put up a fence around the area the goats feed in, and during the day, they are protected by dogs. They don't leave the dogs with the goats at night though, because they are too protective. All five dogs would go after the lion and possibly be hurt or killed. The goat owners said they would rather lose one goat to a lion rather than any of their well-trained and valuable dogs.
Neko is not amused with 
all the extra creatures in his valley.

They stayed in our valley for two days before moving to next area.  What was truly amazing was it took only about 15 minutes to move them out of our area. Maybe the goat subscribe to the idiom of the grass is greener.  However, from what I see, most of what they were eating was brown. After all, it is October.

Ken taking picture. I stayed on the deck.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Revenge of the Double-Pointed Needle

To me, knitting socks has to be done on double-pointed needles. Now, don't go get up in my face about all the other ways to knit socks with circular needles, magic loops or even straight needles. There is no wrong way to knit socks. I learned as a child on double-point needles so it is easy for me to maneuver them. I am sure if I was taught by my mom and grandma to use a different method, that is what I would do. I also learned to knit continental style and that seems to be conducive to double-pointed needles.

However, there is a major problem with knitting with double-pointed needles. Sofas eat them. Needles go through the whole digestive tract of the couch and are dropped out the bottom. (That's all the illustration you need for that.)  It just amazes. I am knitting away in my comfortable blue recliner, watching Peyton Manning throw this ump-teenth pass (yes, I am a big football fan), or the bumbling detective and his brilliant girlfriend solve another murder. My cat Neko is gracing me with his presence in my lap trying to steal all the warmth from my afghan. I finished the stitches on one needle and pause to watch the replay (that was too interference! bad call by the refs), and just as the next beer commercial starts, I look down at my knitting --- and a needle has disappeared! How can that be? I feel around for it and it is gone. I didn't move! I can only figure that the arm of the sofa reached up and took it out of my hand.

And the sofa is not done playing tricks on me yet.

Sometimes -- if I'm lucky -- I find it in the folds of the afghan.  I figure that the needle got caught while being swallowed and was saved.

Sometimes -- if I'm lucky -- I find it stuck behind my ear. I know I didn't put it there.

Sometimes -- if I'm lucky -- I find it between the cushions of the couch. As I grab it from the void, I swear I can hear the couch choke and cough.

But most of the time, it's gone. Success on the part of the sofa. So I have to put my knitting down careful not to lose another needle or stick myself with the three remaining points, kick the foot rest down and disturb my  disturb my precious sleeping cat (who is not that crazy about me anyway), and crawl under the couch to retrieve it. I get my hair caught on the corner and I have stop to pull each strand away individually.  Neko is now sitting on the back of the sofa looking down at me sticking his tongue out. I know he is laughing.

Got it.  Back to the needles.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 12

Step 12 – It is Okay to be Selfish.

Now we can all admit it. We make scarves and hats and mittens and even sweaters for other people, but we make socks for ourselves (or a loved one or two).

My Neko Socks - The only way
I can get him to cuddle with me.
Pattern by Donna Druchunas in Kitty Knits

Since socks are more time-consuming than hats or scarves, giving them as gifts must be done carefully. You don’t want to give away a pair of socks to someone who will either not wear them, or will treat them badly such as throwing into a load of wash with their kids’ grass-stained tube socks.

Do you just hate it when you sit down on the train or the bus only to see the person next to you has the exact same pair of socks?  When you make your own socks, that never happens. No one else has an pair of socks just like the ones you have on your feet right now. 

I think my biggest problem is not with socks, but rather with shoes. We go to all this trouble to make lacy or cabled or ribbed socks in beautiful colors in soft, warm yarns, and then we stick those in a smelly old shoe? I've seen clear plastic clogs to show off socks, but those don't seem practical either. Yes, I have cute loafers and a nice pair of Mary Jane shoes, but it still seems like a waste

So I have come to the conclusion of my 12-Step Program for Sock Addiction. I now realize that I did not cure anyone's addiction to sock knitting (nor did I really want to), but rather enabled you to carry on. Put those needles to yarn, add your yarn overs and slip, slip knits, master the kitchener stitch, and weave in those ends. Winter is coming. Make your toes happy.

So until I get hit with another subject to blog about, it's back to the needles.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 11

Step 11 - Take personal inventory.

What else could ‘personal inventory’ mean but our Stash?  

I have so much stash that I am almost embarrassed (almost).  Don't hate me, but I don’t have a closet -- I have a stash room. 

I married an architect (32 years ago) and so I have a beautiful and unique house. When Ken built it, he actually told me this room was for my craft supplies. So I can blame my stash collection on him -- I was obligated to fill it up, right? I don’t know why he doesn't see it that way.

This is why I am convincing I will live forever because I can't possibly use all of this in my life time. SABLE, right? (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).  Good words to life by.

The sad part is that about a third of my stash came from my mother's and my sister-in-law's stash when they passed away. It's fun, though, to make something with those skeins because I seem to think about them the entire time I am knitting.  They must be channeling their way through to my fingers, onto my needles, and holding my yarn, because every now and then, I hear my mom telling me I am knitting too loosely, or my sister-in-law praising my choice of colors. 
One of Neko's favorite hangouts
- the Yarn Room

Yes, Mom, I'm done writing.  Back to the needles. (See what I mean?)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 10

Step 10 - Learn the value of patience with the less fortunate ones who don’t knit.

Sometimes, don't you want to just rub a dirty sock in some people's  faces? If you KIP (knit in public), you need to be ready for the stupid questions. The art of patience is the only way to dealing with the non-knitting public. Look at it instead as you are educating the public.

“No, this is not crocheting, this is knitting.”

“Yes, I am making a sock.”

“No, it is not too small.”

“Yes, I know I can buy socks at the grocery store for 1.00.” (But why would I?)

"If you have always wanted to learn how to knit, go for it. There are yarn shops all over the city giving lessons."

"Yes, I believe your grandmother did that. I'm not a grandmother, and yet I am knitting."

“I'm sorry you don’t have patience for this. It is very relaxing.”

I knit in public whenever I can. I knit on the train to and from work. I knit through committee meetings at church that I thought would never end. I knit while waiting for my dentist to finish the patient in front of me before calling me in. I knit while I am waiting for the movie to start and, if it's a simple pattern, I often knit during the movie. 

It is my way of bringing the wonderful art of knitting to the world. I am not afraid of being tagged as 21st century Madam Defarge although I am beginning to understand her. I bet the French elite asked her dumb questions too, and see what happened to them? 

Back to the needles.