Archive for the 'knitting' Category


Life update

Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.

Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.

Mucking about with: Google Body.

Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:

  • three sets of baby legwarmers (made from Baby Cashmerino) for three different new babies
  • five (!!!) Seven Circles scarves/necklaces (also from Baby Cashmerino); all but one were gifts for friends*
  • one pair of socks for a child (this isn’t quite finished but will be within a few days, I think); these were supposed to be for Sylvia but are turning out to be too small for her, so they’ll be a gift for someone else

I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.

BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.

Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.

* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.


Design your own amigurumi

I’ve not yet been bitten by the knitted amigurumi bug, but those of you who have might enjoy taking a look at this online amigurumi pattern generator.


Free lunch: Knitted animals

If holiday knitting is on your agenda but you find yourself running out of time, here are some small projects that you (or Santa…) might be able to accomplish in short time.

For something seasonally appropriate, try your hand at making a little reindeer.

Make a sheep from a knitted square. This is something that young knitters and new knitters might especially enjoy. Easy peasy!

Just be sure to keep the sheep away from these baby alligators!

If the alligators get uppity, these tiny pigeons can easily fly away from them. As can these other little birds.

And if you’re really in a rush, you can probably whip up some of these snails and slugs in no time at all!


A stop-motion knitted adventure

This little stop-motion knitted adventure about parcel delivery seems rather appropriate for this time of year. My favorite part is the top-hat wearing octopus.



On the needles…and off again

scarf.jpgAbout two weeks ago, Barnes and Noble’s online store had a brief sale on their edition of the recently published Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks! (Note: The B&N edition has five extra patterns. If you don’t manage to get this version of the book, don’t sweat it–the bonus patterns aren’t that thrilling.) A flurry of e-mails passed among members of my knitting group that evening, and the upshot is that one of my friends kindly ordered an extra copy of this book, which I got for the great price of $2.99.


A week later I saw her and swapped three bucks for the book. I’m still feeling a bit traumatized after the latest Exploding Sock Event, and since nearly all of my sock-yarn stash is 100% wool, I was hopeful that I’d find a nice not-sock project for that fiber in this book.


And I did! The lovely Ericka scarf fit the bill! It has a simple, easy-to-remember stitch pattern. Paired with some Socks that Rock yarn, it made for a very lovely, drapey scarf indeed.




And then I got to That Point. You know the one: the “am I going to have enough yarn for this?” point. I put the rest of the ball on our kitchen scale and discovered that I had just a little over half of it left…and my scarf was only twenty inches long. I am not a fan of short scarves–this sucker had to be sixty inches long or else.


Looking at the pattern again, I see where I went wrong. The pattern calls for 100g ball with something like 450 yards. I had checked the weight of my Socks that Rock (100g! Hooray! It matches!) but neglected to check its yardage, which is not even 350 yards. Crap.


So I took a little trip to Frogville. Now I’m trying to figure out what else to do with this yarn (which handles beautifully and doesn’t do any weird pooling). Suggestions?


Cats in sweaters

You can see photos of 109 different sweater-wearing cats here. For reals. (No word, however, on if any of the owners or photographers had their eyes clawed out immediately after the photos were taken.)

Want to make your cat number 110? You can knit up this free pattern for your own cat sweater.


Free lunch: Tutorials

Recycling yarn from store-bought sweaters. My favorite part of this tutorial is the author’s use of the term “yarn barf.”

How to darn holes in knitting. I have a pair of socks (the first pair I knit for myself) in sore need of this kind of attention.

How to knit attached i-cord. This would be lovely as trim on sweater edges.

Tutorial for stranded knitting. Anything that combines knitting with comic-book style has got to be worth a try, right?

Two finger-knitting tutorials, here and here.

And two illusion-knitting tutorials, here and here.

Use Excel to make lace-knitting charts.

Use a crockpot to kettle-dye yarn with kool-aid. I did this last winter and love the results!

How to cut plastic shopping bags to make “yarn” for knitting. I bring my own bags to the store these days so don’t have plastic shopping bags for cutting. But I like the idea here. If any of you try this, I’d love to hear about the results.

Make yarn from old t-shirts. I love how this results in tubular yarn.


Woe is me

The first pair of socks I knit for myself, out of KnitPicks Memories, developed a huge hole in the heel within a couple of months. Several knitting friends pointed out to me that the 100% merino content of the yarn I used was the likely culprit: without any nylon for strength, wool socks just wear through.

So I resolved to knit socks only with sock yarn that contained some nylon. These were next, made of Fleece Article Sea Wool–70% merino, 30% seacell. I thought the seacell would provide enough strength to keep these socks intact, but while out for a walk in my neighborhood this afternoon I discovered I was wrong.


Two questions for you all:

1. Is it worth trying to darn these somehow? I like these socks a lot, but the entire heel/foot has worn rather thin. I’m concerned that if I take the time to repair the holes, more are likely to appear elsewhere soon.

2. Do you have any recommendations for good, strong sock yarn? I want to start on another pair of socks for myself, but I really want to be sure I choose a long-lasting yarn.



Knitters’ Day Out 2010

kdomirror.jpgOn the last Saturday of September, I (along with several friends from my local knitting group) attended Knitters’ Day Out, which I describe to non-knitters as “a knitting con.” It was held about an hour and a half from my house, so my friend Gina (who’d stayed over the night before) and two other friends left my place at about 6:15 a.m. in order to get there in plenty of time to check in at registration and do a lap in the yarn market before classes started. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Central Pennsylvania College, where the event is held, is their version of motivational posters: the bathroom mirrors are inscribed to phrases urging students to “look professional” and “make a good first impression.”


kdobearlin.jpgThe market took up the entire first floor of one building, and I had several opportunities to walk through it. I paid a visit to the Bearlin Acres booth and had a lovely chat with the owner, who remembered the squirrel and oak mittens I made two years ago from yarn I’d won as a door prize from her. As usual, she had some amazing yarn on hand in beautiful colors. I managed to resist the urge to buy any (since I have plenty of stash yarn at home), but did buy two handfuls of roving from her, to try a needle felting project for the first time.


kdosteamvalley.jpgUnlike many people, I don’t go to KDO to shop. Most of the yarn sold there is available through other outlets (e.g., brick and mortar stores, online vendors), so there’s no urgency for me to buy it there. The stuff that does tempt me, however, is fiber that is hard to find elsewhere, such as this stuff from Steam Valley Fiber Farm. My photos don’t do justice to the color or texture of these yarns. I thought about picking up a skein or two, but decided not to because (1) I didn’t know what I’d do with it, and (2) I’ve resolved not to buy yarn unless I know what I’m going to do with it. (I learned my lesson after buying numerous single skeins at sales and watching them sit in my stash for years before I had no idea what to do with them.)


kdofreeyarn.jpgThat’s not to say I didn’t come home with yarn. I did. But they didn’t cost me a cent, because I was lucky enough to win a door prize: a $25 gift card from one of the vendors, the Colonial Yarn Shop. It turned out to be the exact amount needed to buy these two skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn, which I’ll make into a scarf for Sylvia (who’s been asking for a scarf).


The main reason I go to KDO, though, is for the classes. This year I signed up for two three-hour classes: a morning one with Annie Modesitt, on knitting her Cocoon Circular Sweater; and an afternoon one with Kathy Zimmerman, on slip-stitch knitting. Both classes were great*, and Modesitt was hilariously irreverent. (I wonder how many of her students file complaints afterward.) I especially appreciated Modesitt’s opening speech, in which she said that when she’s talking everyone else should shut up. (And she pretty much used those exact words.) So often in these classes there are people who insist on chatting their way through the instructor’s discussions (making it difficult for everyone else to hear), so it’s refreshing when a teacher says she’s not going to put up with this sort of thing.**

Now to dig through my stash to see if I have the yarn I need to knit one of those cocoon sweaters…


*I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when Zimmerman opened her class by asking all two dozen or so students to introduce themselves, talk about how long they’ve been knitting, and describe what sorts of things they like to knit. Honestly, I don’t care about the other people in my class. I don’t mean that callously. It’s just that when I’m in a class that meets once for three hours, I want to learn about knitting, not listen to twenty or thirty minutes of introductions.

** I should also point out that Modesitt was a terrific teacher–definitely Someone Who Knows Her Shit.


Note to self

img_4207.jpgAlways check to make sure you have enough yarn for two socks before you start knitting.*sigh*

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