Fun things are afoot
When you buy a ball of yarn that has this picture on the label:
Don’t you sort of expect that the actual sock will look something like the one in the image?
Um… wow, it didn’t look anything even remotely like that zigzag pattern!
But that’s OK. I use the same sock recipe as before (this pattern, this cast on, this bind off), and I love the finished socks no matter what.
In other news, we are thisclose to making settlement on a house. We’re still about 2 weeks away from the big day, but I guess I’m not worried about jinxing the deal by talking about it here. We’ve been eyeing the Rochester real estate market ever since Matt accepted his job at Mayo 2.5 years ago, and house hunting began in earnest around May or June of last year, when we had finalized a purchase agreement to sell our Northfield home. We’d made a few offers and had come pretty close to buying late last summer, but they never went through for one reason or another (other wealthier bidders, inspection-identified issues, etc). Finally, it’s our turn.
I am thrilled about this place, and I don’t say that lightly (uh, as fussy as I am, it takes a lot to thrill me). Our house-to-be is big enough for all the girls to have some privacy as they get older, enough bathrooms and a water heater sufficient for a family with 4 girl-women (poor Matt!), a sweet kitchen with a ton of storage and prep space (really designed for someone who COOKS, as opposed to someone who mostly heats up food), a finished walkout basement. It’s in a great school district and is <10 minutes' drive from the Mayo campus. Not a ton of yard to mow, but it's enough to maybe put up a small garden and compost bin. Judging from the number of snowmen I'm seeing in the neighboring yards, there are younger children in the area.
Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
We don’t have a lot of furniture (I mean, why buy a bedroom set when you can buy an artisan spinning wheel instead, ha), and I’ve never really tried to decorate a home before, so there’s a lot to think about and learn. Maybe I will blog about some of that. But we’re in no hurry. I can’t wait to move, though!
This just in
Thursday December 20th 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting
New York Times editors appear to not know what Fair Isle looks like! Or, rather, they seem to have confused “Fair Isle” with “color stranding.”
(See slideshow, entries 1, 7, 9-11, and 14. I’m additionally dubious about entries 3 and 5 even being knitted.)
Don’t know the difference? See here or here or here.
Back to basics
Saturday October 20th 2012, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Knitting
I cannot take a single picture of my knitting if the damn cat is anywhere near me. Case in point – 2 different days, 2 different pairs.
This is an old, beloved pattern – the toe-up socks so aptly named “You’re putting me on” because you try them on as you go to achieve a truly custom fit. I made 2 trivial mods – I used “Judy’s magic cast on” and “Techknitter’s Pretty Good Bind off” (method 2).
I use the generic version of the pattern with fingering-weight sock yarn, Happy Feet by Plymouth. Mine is “Color 2″ – possibly discontinued, since it doesn’t appear on the manufacturer’s color card page? It is 90% superwash Merino and 10% nylon, somewhat softly spun and squishy/sproingy.
This version was knit using a 60-stitch circumference and size US 1 needles. The socks feel slightly flopsy. I thought the next time I knit these, I wanted more body to the fabric.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
So I knit them again, using a Regia cotton sock yarn (seems to be discontinued) that is actually a combination of cotton, superwash wool, and nylon. Love Regia sock yarns, they are great. In fact, I just threw away a pair of Regia socks that I knit sometime in graduate school – so at the very youngest, they were at least 9 years old! The heels had finally worn through.
The blue socks were knit using size US 0 needles and also 60 stitches around. This made a stiffer sock (yay) but a smaller one, too (boo). They fit quite snugly, but I anticipate that they’ll loosen up and stay loose because of the cotton content.
Ear cocked back because I’m saying, “Scram, kitty!”
My next planned pair will be 64 stitches around on US 0 needles, in wool/nylon. I do enjoy knitting this pattern, again and again.
Charlie and his bedroom eyes
Sheep and wool
It’s not too late to go to the Shepherd’s Harvest sheep and wool show! We went on Saturday and enjoyed the unbelievably nice weather – sunny and high 60s.
Several animals smiled at me:
We walked through all the vendor barns, had Meredith do some of the kid-friendly demos, and ate hot dogs and fudge.
We met animals, watched a sheep shearing, fingered lots of pretty fibers and yarn, and bought… nothing. Isn’t that so strange, to walk through barn after barn and come away empty-handed? I guess it’s a testament to the size of my stash, or maybe I’m just getting older and less impulsive in my shopping.
I did manage to try a Hansen electric mini-spinner for 2 minutes before the kids got all antsy (“Are you DONE yet, Mama?”). Here’s what I came away with after a short test: it is beautiful to look at, lightweight, fast, and pretty darn quiet. The orifice was wide for the relatively fine-grist spinning I do, but I believe they sell inserts to narrow that down. The demo model that I tried had some weird caulk-covered component on the power cord that I didn’t really understand, but I would bet that would not be on a wheel that they would sell to someone.
One thing that I briefly had trouble with was that I kept forgetting to keep the pedal pressed down – and it doesn’t turn when it’s not pressed. Altogether, it felt quite different from my Butterfly electric wheel, but not in a bad way. If I didn’t already own an excellent electric spinner, and if I were in the market for an electric, this would probably be my top pick. (I believe the Hansen spinner wasn’t around when I bought my electric.) It has a very good reputation and I found it pleasant to use in my quickie trial.
Saturday April 07th 2012, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Knitting
Goodbye, Ingenue… I hardly knew ye. I lovingly rewrote you for fingering weight yarn and size US1 needles, but I realized this year that the relationship wasn’t going to work out for us. But honey, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed.
You see, since the time I cast on for you, I’ve lost about 4-5″ bust circumference (hello, weaning and later weight loss). There was no way I would look good wearing you at this size. Better to say good bye, or au revoir…?
I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who responded to the prior post. I appreciate your candor and encouragement. Most people who comment know that I typically respond via e-mail, and I generally hate doing this “group hug” thing in public, but we put our house back on the market last week (sigh), and I’ve been a little more frantically busy than usual. But please know that your thoughts and advice are highly valued!
Many of my handknit socks are old enough to start junior high this fall. Thus, it is time to make new ones!
On blockers but not actually blocked
Monkey socks! According to Ravelry, more than fifteen thousand knitters have made these socks since the pattern was published in 2006. That’s pretty awesome.
This is Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver yarn. It feels very nice, not prickly. The yarn is just slightly thick-and-thin, but not in an annoying way.
The dark green and the unblocked “scales” of the sock made me think of dragons. Wouldn’t this toy look so cool made up in green and silver yarn?
What is it about handknit socks that automatically gives one a serious case of the cankles?
Minor mods to the pattern:
1) I knit 5 repeats on the leg instead of 6 because I was starting to run into the daikon calf.
2) I did a slip-stitch reinforced heel because I think it helps withstand rubbing from the back of a shoe.
3) I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast On (video link). Not only does it stretch like crazy, it also snaps back to shape immediately when the tension is released. Thumbs up for this slightly fiddly but eminently doable cast on!
Admire the sock… But does your keen eye prompt you to ask what’s that lurking in the corner?
Just wanted to give a happy shout-out to Carole W at Software4Knitting (home of Sweater Wizard, custom sweater design software) for excellent customer service. Last night, I tried to install my old CD (copyright 2004) on Win7 and the install failed. I popped off a note to the support contact, and she responded to my e-mail in <12 hrs and provided a fast solution. NAYY, but I highly recommend the software and the support!
In other knitterly news, Connie Chang Chinchio is having a 1-day, 20% off sale on all of her knitting patterns to celebrate her daughter's first birthday! See details here.
Have a great day!
Lookee, lookee, a real knitting FO!
(Hm. Sorry about the picture quality! I was using [thought I was using] a custom white balance setting. I tweaked it as much as I could to lighten, but they look a little odd still.)
This is the Vitamin D cardigan by Heidi Kirrmaier. Yarn is Frangipani authentic guernsey yarn from the UK, 100% wool. (Not the softest stuff out there [actually kinda prickly, to be honest], but I’m hoping it will wear really well.) It was marvelously hand-dyed by Kim of The Woolen Rabbit (oh, she is so talented, let me tell you!), colorway New England Red. Kim dyed this for me back in 2009.
A few more words about the yarn – it was Anne of Knitspot who turned me on to this particular colorway. She was developing her Maplewing shawl pattern at the time and had posted several in-progress shots. Swoon! It was SO my color, and I happily dreamed up a gorgeous textured sweater in that fantastic shade of orange. I ordered white yarn, had it shipped directly to Kim, she turned it around in a matter of days, and then… it sat. (Y’know, 2009 – I had a 1-year-old and was pregnant.) By the time I was ready to knit it up in Fall 2011, my brain had been battered too long by chronic sleep deprivation; thus, I gave up the original idea of a complex gansey with nary a whimper. The cardigan that it did turn into is hardly a consolation prize, though. I am extremely happy with the outcome.
The pattern is fantastic for those knitters who prefer “blind follower” directions. Stitch counts are provided at every major point in the pattern, no calculations required. Directions are very complete. I made no changes. I used the “surprisingly stretchy bind-off” to finish up the edge. I worried that the back length might not be long enough, given some of the photos on Ravelry, but it was just fine for me.
I was a little heavier when I cast on than when I cast off; in fact, with the recent weight loss and weaning of the youngers, I lost more than 4″ of bust circumference. But I had started the sweater to fit the size that I was when I cast on. In any case, you can see from the back view the the cardigan is a smidge too big (waves).
The drape in the front is actually totally fake on my cardigan. I picked a sturdy wool yarn, not a silky, drapey one (as recommended by the designer), and the front pieces splayed out in stiff panels after the initial wet-blocking. Undeterred, I placed the garment on a hanger, manually arranged the folds, and steamed the heck out of the front pieces to lock in some waves.
And here’s an “action shot” of the sweater! I’m holding a recently released physiology book that I edited last year.
Friday November 18th 2011, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting
The now-silent Anny Purls site is home to Duck Soup, a darling little top-down hoodie cardigan for kids. As a large-gauge, near-seamless sweater, it was the perfect knit-whilst-reading project.
I used an “up-cycled” yarn, purchased in sweater form from a Savers thrift store. No picture of the original sweater, but it was a crew-neck, stockinette pullover, pretty unremarkable. Judging from the tags, I’m guessing it was a made-for-outlet garment.
The pleasant color, good condition of the sweater (completely unsoiled, zero pilling or wear), and the price made it a no-brainer purchase. The yarn itself is 12 2-plies that are barely plied together. The actual ripping, skeining, and washing were uneventful, but lo, when it came out of the wash, the dormant twist energy sprang to life and gnarled the hanks into a Gordian mess.
I had used only 4 ties to loosely hold each hank, and I paid a price for my hank-tying laziness via hours spent untangling, cursing my thrift. I also had to cut the yarn numerous times to remove knotted clumps.
Lesson: BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Use more ties than you think you need.
The knitting was straightforward. I used size US9 (5.5 mm) needles on this bulky yarn, and in hindsight, probably going up to US10 (6.0 mm) would have yielded a slightly better fabric.
Minor construction changes: I omitted the knot detail on the hood tip because I hate feeling a knotted waist sash digging into my back when I’m driving. I used a 3-needle bind off to connect the 2 halves of the hood.
A few words on the frog closures:
1) They are super cute.
2) They are a PITA to construct.
3) It took me longer to knit the ties and sew them onto the sweater than it did to knit the sweater itself.
4) The closures are difficult for me to fasten/unfasten (and are impossible for Meredith to do). Although they are functional, I prefer to have Meredith don the sweater like a pullover.
Major construction change: The instructions are to make individual i-cords that are 4 or 5 inches long (for the loop and button parts, respectively). I instead made a very long i-cord, which I then cut and unraveled to the correct length. This turned out to be a very useful strategy because it would appear that I cannot make buttons from a 5-inch piece of i-cord. The knot would always be in the wrong place, relative to the ends, or it would not be tight enough. If you have slender, elfin fingers, it might work out just fine. For me, it was much better to make the knot on a long piece of cord and then cut the ends. I made sure that I cut longer than I needed such that, when the cord was unraveled and bound off at the proper length, it had a sufficiently long “tail” that could be used to sew the entire piece onto the sweater.
A few more gratuitous
kid sweater pictures.
Monday October 10th 2011, 5:00 am
Filed under: Knitting
A long time ago, I knitted a jacket for Meredith. (The pattern is here, very cute.) The garment ended up way too big for her at the time (somewhat by intention), so I was not motivated to work on the finishing details right away.
Now that it’s fall again and she’s the right size to wear it, I’ve been hunkering down to make the miles of I-cord (car knitting, sigh) needed for the frog closures. Many times did I rue the fact that I got rid of my hand-crank cord maker.
But I think I now have enough (6.5 feet, unstretched), so I’m getting excited about finishing and seeing whether Meredith will like it.