Sunday, December 17, 2006

Screaming Red Mitts and Ice Cream Sundae Socks

Christmas Knitting. Check.
Christmas Beading. Check.
Christmas Shopping. Check.
Christmas Laundry (we travel). Check.
We fly Thursday! Must leave home by 5:30 a.m. to make flight! Ack!

M cut out a few of my Christmas beading gifts as too much (they were for his relatives). M's mom did not need handknit socks and beaded jewelry. He also suggested one piece for his sister for Christmas and the other I had designed for her March birthday. So, we did a little shopping at amazon for her. But now I am back to knitting and beading just for pleasure. No longer worrying about foot sizes vs sock sizes. No longer fretting that an elderly grandmother will find a necklace too heavy or not be able to manage a clasp. Now it's just deciding which sock yarn I want to knit first and how long I want to make a scarf.

In anticipation of flying and wanting small things to knit, as M is 6'4" tall and broad shouldered and I am invariably a little squished in my seat, I started a few small projects. First, my hands have been freezing, and the mitts I made earlier from chunky alpaca are too thick for other than reading (and sleeping!). I love Eunny's Endpaper Mitts, and I nearly swooned when I saw the lovely green/cream color combo that Diana of Streets and Yos knit up. However, I have never done stranded work before, and my hands are cold now. So, I went over to Knitspot and ordered Anne's pattern for Fine Cabled Mitts. I'll save the Endpaper Mitts for 2007 (my neighbor knits and has offered to teach me how to do stranded knitting, yay!). Unlike Anne, I did not have any cashmere sock yarn lying around, but I did have enough left over Wildfoote sock yarn in Jazz Time, or screaming red, as I like to think of it. I am almost done with the first mitt.
The pattern is pretty easy to follow and I really like how Anne designed the thumb gusset. I did make my usual cabling error of doing the second cable one row too early (cabling one row of a 6 row repeat means cabling every 7th row, not every 6th), but here it turns out to be fortuitous, as I have short fingers. There is no way I can do all 10 repeats of the cable pattern and not turn the mitt into a mitten (I had to do less repeats in the chunky alpaca mitts too), so cabling every 6th row instead of 7th lets me get more cables in. The nice thing about the Wildfoote is that it is machine washable. My gauge is looser than the pattern calls for (also contributing to needing a shorter mitt) by a little bit, but my hand width was just over the size max for the smaller mitt size, and the mitt seems to fit as great as it can with dpns sticking out all over.

I also started a new pair of socks, which I now think of as my ice cream sundae socks. The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino in the colorway dyed specifically for Simply Sock Yarn Company's first anniversary last June. The colors look to me like rich vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and raspberry sauce.
Looks tasty but a little dry.

The pattern is garter rib. I tried a few others that were more complicated, but they were too much with the huge color contrasts in the yarn. BTW, the sock is leaning up against my favorite mineral from my collection of minerals, which has long, cylindrical, hexagonal aquamarine crystals in it. That's a long non-gem quality aquamarine crystal to the left of the sock. This sock is so proud; I usually don't lean them up against something so pretty and valuable.

Last week while using an old scarf, I realized that I don't like to wrap a scarf all around my neck so both ends hang in the front. So I tried on the Grapevine scarf to see if I had knit enough if I didn't plan to do so much scarf wrapping, and I have. Tomorrow I hope to block! Photos will follow.

Now I have to go debate which sock yarns from my stash to take over our trip. We fly 2300 miles each way, and then we also have two 450 mile car trips between our parents' homes. I used to drive that and let M be passenger (let's just say he refers to me when he is driving as his "onboard navigation system" I'm a horrible backseat driver), but last year I had learned to knit socks, so M got to drive while I knit (which nicely cut down on the "navigation"). I think it's a wonderful tradition. I want to make a pair of Jaywalkers, as I am the only knitter on the planet who hasn't and I have some striping Trekking XXL, and Cookie's Monkey socks, which look fantastic. Now, which yarn for those...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas FOs!

First off, no one who I know reads this blog can accidentally see one of her gifts, so reading on cannot spoil any surprises.

Second, today we had 9 hours, 29 minutes of daylight; I spent 10 hours at work. The photos are on my work table, and therefore, functional, not scenic. I did use the tripod and my Ott light, so the colors aren't too bad. Therefore, on to the FOs! In order of completion:

Diagonal Rib Scarf in Misti Alpaca Chunky

M's dad gets the scarf. It was a weird one to block. The pattern, such as it is, was a free download from the Misti Alpaca site, and it said to pin the scarf out dry and then mist it with water (hence the name Misti Alpaca?). The ball band did specify that hand-washing in warm water was OK, so I was a bit perplexed by the whole dry pinning idea. However, I decided to try that first. Blocking wires proved essential to maintaining my sanity, but all worked out well. The pattern said from one skein of yarn to expect a 6" x 40" scarf. I got 6" x 45" without stretching lengthwise. M's dad is a tall man, so the extra 5" I managed to get is good.

Next up, we have beaded snowflakes, each is going to a different person.


These were very fun to design and a total bitch to make. The snowflake wire forms, were made of spring tempered steel. For those not overly conversant with metal tempers, the temper indicates how soft or hard the metal wire is. For example, you can't go to the hardware store and buy a spool of copper wire, wind it around a dowel and then use it as a spring, as soon as you push or pull on the ends of your "spring" it will collapse; it can't bounce back. Spring temper is tough to bend. I broke several forms trying to bend the loop at the end to keep the beads from falling off. It wouldn't have been so frustrating if the packaging hadn't shown children making snowflakes, and the instructions hadn't ended with "Have fun!" But these are done, I like them, and I think I have figured out how to transport them from California to the Midwest branches intact.

Finally, last night I finished the socks for M's grandmother.


The leg pattern is the 5-stitch repeat yarn-over cable from Sensational Knitted Socks, but I didn't want to make a toe up sock, which is what all the 5-st repeat socks are, I made up my own heel flap, heel turn and toe. I like the heel flap. It's a hybrid of carrying down the YO-cable into a 3x2 rib, except I slipped the middle stitch of the 3 knits on the right side, similar to the 3x3 slipped stitched rib in the 6-st repeat section of SKS.

Fleece Artist Merino in Renaissance

The color didn't pool too badly, and I somewhat liked the idea of a busy pattern in a yarn colorway named Renaissance. Simple lines do not appear to have been a Renaissance aesthetic. I hope they fit M's grandmother, who, I am told, has long narrow feet. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

As soon as I finished the socks, I cast on a new pair for myself. My grey marled gingerbread cable socks are going to have to wait until after the holidays for me to knit the second sock. I used metal needles on the first, and M compared my metal to bamboo size 1 needles, and they are not the same size. Since I am flying next week, I think it would be best to have all bamboo needles. I know I am supposed to be able to take metal needles, but last time I flew they took away my craft scissors with 1" blades, and up to a 4" blade is supposed to be acceptable. I need to get into the pattern I've picked for the new socks tonight, and then I hope to show them to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why Will Power is Bad

I have been complimented on my perseverance and dedication, which I have always associated with will power. Will power is great when one has to do enough replicates of a tedious, demanding experiment to get statistically significant results. But when it comes to sock yarn, will power can be carried too far. Late last week, Elsie, knitting guru with no blog, told me that our favorite online sock yarn retailer now had Koigu KPPPM, and she had to have some. None of our LYS's carry Koigu (yes, it's very sad), and so we had never experienced the essence of Koigu. She told me this after handing me a sock and a skein of Claudia Handpaints in Walk in the Woods to fondle. I had to have some. So, we placed a "little" order. Today it arrived!

Claudia Handpaints in Walk in the Woods and Eat Veggies

And I couldn't resist another skein of Schaefer Anne, this time in Blue Violets.


Here's Elsie's Koigu KPPPM (P426); it's actually a little more purple than I could get it to photograph.

Do you think she would notice if I gave her this instead (which I thought was supposed to be blue with just a little brown)? This yarn is from a shall remain nameless vendor, who I have had hit-and-miss luck with.

Yeah, I think she'd notice. I better give her the Koigu.

Tomorrow, two FOs!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let's do Lunch!

The problem with knitting projects that are large triangles or rectangles is that progress shots aren't exactly a thrill. So, although I will talk about one of my projects, lets get to it through a small tour of the knitting blogosphere.

First, I am still playing with templates for this blog. I will probably try to design my own from scratch. With M's help that should be very doable. Right now this new green template doesn't make me as mad as the other template I was using. So, faithful readers may find a different looking blog from time to time. I also want to get a better picture of me, but that may prove more difficult than learning CSS code. I also found out from reading someone's blog today, that she finds blogger doesn't always leave the email address of commenters even when they leave an address. I didn't know this could happen. If you have left me comments and I haven't emailed you or commented on your blog, it's because I don't know how to contact you. Does anyone else have this problem? Is there something I can do to fix this?

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes comment about a person that they would be "a good person to have lunch with." What she said she meant by that was she thought the person would be interesting to talk to, would make my mom think in new directions, would be a good and fun person to know. Lunch is a conversational meal, usually without alcohol or romantic overtones, so conversation, especially on topics of mutual interest but not necessarily getting to know all the facts of a person's life, is the key. I think many of the people whose blogs I read are people I would like to have lunch with. I've decided from time to time to write a little about my interaction with these people through their blog content and possible mutual commenting. I have been highly influenced in many creative and positive ways by knitting bloggers, and I feel the need to codify my appreciation.

Last post, I mentioned my quandry with the Grapevine Scarf. It's so pretty; it's annoying to knit. What to do? What to do? I wondered what Cara, who only knits what she loves, would do. And Cara told me. I don't know how she knows when I reference her blog (there is still a lot I'm learning about blogging); but she knows. She was my first commenter back in August! You never forget your first commenter. But anyway, she suggested that I try to get through the Grapevine Scarf for a bit by knitting 4 rows a day. I thought I could do that; it's only a scarf after all. I decided 4 pattern rows a day; purl rows hardly count (it's a scarf). So, last night, that's what I set out to do. But I did 6 pattern rows, which made a whole repeat. M was sitting next to me and he commented that the scarf was almost 30 inches long, and I said no, it wasn't even two feet yet. "Measure it," he said. 28.5 inches unblocked. Apparently, my almost supernatural ability to judge volumes does not extend to judging inches knit. This was a revelation! Each repeat is about 1.5 inches. If I could do two repeats a day for 10 days, the scarf would be long enough, and I could use it over the Christmas holidays in the Midwest where it is actually cold. I am motivated! Thanks to Cara's advice, I realized I was much nearer to finishing a beautiful scarf than I gave myself credit for. Now, if I only had her ability to take photos! If you have never followed her links to her nature photos, you are missing out. She has a very creative eye and really sees like a camera.

Although, I am not an official member of Eye Candy Friday, I don't have a digital SLR camera (yet), or Cara's super talented eye (notice how my horizon cuts right through the middle of my photo), I leave you with this picture of the California coast north of San Francisco (I've got two repeats to knit!). It's so beautiful it's hard to take a bad picture. This is at The Sea Ranch in late October right before sunset.

sea ranch coast sunset.JPG

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The best of times; the worst of times...

It hasn't been the best of autumns here at Molecular Knitting, but then again, it hasn't been the worst of autumns either.

I am having to review what I learned from cognitive behavioral therapy, because my brain thought it would be fun to go back to its old way of thinking. Bad brain! Promotions at work are always a sign that one's world is coming to an end. That's logical. Bad brain! What really irks me though is that the CBT takes away from knitting time. I have explained to my brain that the status quo will be changing as I have far too many sweaters, socks, scarves, shawls, and other things that begin with the letter "s" to knit; too many earrings, bracelets, brooches, and necklaces to construct; too many different batches of cookies, pies, stews, soups, and pastas to cook; and far too many mystery novels, books of poetry, travel memoirs, and cultural/social histories to read to have my brain going on a depressive fritz. Don't worry. My brain and I are really rather attached to each other. We are just having one of our many little tugs-of-war. It goes in for some sneaky guerilla tactics that catch me off guard for a bit, but I seldom let myself stay down for long. I can be very tenacious, and my brain should know that. M is very supportive and helps me to see when my brain is indulging in cognitive distortions, its hobby.

So, to keep my brain from thinking it is so amazingly important that a depressive fritz is OK, let's talk about the knitting. And the knitting front looks pretty good. The Aran Pocket Shawl is five repeats long now. The directions specify 28 repeats to make the shawl 87 inches long. That seems pretty gosh darn long to me, so I'll be wrapping it around me when I get farther along to see how far I want to go.

I am also almost done with my last Christmas knit: socks for M's grandmother. I am to the heel flap of the second sock. I hope to knit on that a little this evening and then photograph it tomorrow morning in good light, as I like the heel flap I designed.

The Landscape shawl has taken a back seat to the Aran Pocket Shawl the past week, but I am 26% done with it. It isn't the most exciting thing to knit, but it is gorgeous, and the fingering weight yarn will work well here in California.

Other projects are on the back burner. I am in a bit of a quandry concerning the Grapevine Lace scarf. I love the look of the scarf in the Black Purl colorway. But I haven't been able to memorize the lace pattern, so it is pretty tedious to knit. The lace pattern is from the first Barbara Walker stitch treasury, and so it is a text only pattern. The wrong side rows are just purl, so I have put the patterned right side rows on their own 4x6 index cards and I just keep flipping the cards as I knit. I have been trying to memorize the pattern, but the lace is pretty blobby on the needles so it takes quite a bit of work to see the pattern. Right now, I am not loving this scarf, and I wonder what Cara would do in my position.

I also joined the Victoria Lace Today KAL and I have balled my skein of berry Sea Silk. I just have to cast on...

But today I have to prepare the bead room (also yarn room, there are just a lot more beads per unit area than yarn) for students! Tomorrow Natasha and Meghan (another grad student from lab) are coming to learn how to bead a spiral rope. I gave a spiral rope necklace to Natasha and now she and Meghan want to make their own.

detail of simple spiral rope stitch

I think the hardest part will be getting Natasha to pick out colors for her rope. I have a lot of different colors and finishes of seed beads, and I am sure she will want to see them all!

I leave you today with a picture of M's and my Christmas tree this year taken in the morning sunlight. I've been collecting glass ornaments for about 20 years; I love the sparkle.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Counting to 10

Is it just me or is beta-blogger driving other people nuts? I think I am going to have to sit down with HTML, XHTML, & CSS and just figure out how to make my own template. I am not finding Beta-Blogger easier to use, and what looks like a nice page element in the edit template and layout sections, does not look nice on the actual blog. So, I apologize for the mess of the Works in Progress and Knitting Together buttons. Tomorrow I hope to have a new post with actual knitting content, for I have blocked the scarf for M's Dad (Thanks, Mom, for the blocking wires! They ROCK!), and I want to talk about what I think is a nice looking heel flap that I made up to go with a 5-stitch repeat based upon a K3P2 rib. But right now I am going to knit on my Aran Pocket Shawl and let the soothing knits and purls of a seed stitch basket weave take away my ire with Beta-Blogger.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I love seed stitch

I love seed stitch in diamonds.

seed stitch diamond from my first sweater

I love seed stitch in mohair.

seed stitch edgings on my second sweater

I love seed stitch in handpainted yarn.

detail from seed stitch chevron of Landscape Shawl

But I love seed stitch in basket weave most of all.

Aran Pocket Shawl

This past weekend I was freezing (I hadn't yet realized the thermostat was set for 64), so after making chocolate chip cookies and losing my excuse to have the oven on, I felt I needed to knit with a substantial yarn. I was curious as to how the Aran Pocket Shawl from Folk Shawls would look in the Berroco Ultra Alpaca* I had. So I taught myself the cable cast-on (great and easy!), and gave the shawl chart a go. I've wanted to knit this shawl for a long time (because of the seed stitch), and I am really pleased how it looks in this yarn. Now I switch between the Landscape Shawl (great during TV) and the APS (great to take my mind off the day and relax). I'll just have to make sure my next shawl isn't green!

Speaking of Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle, Trek recently acquired a copy and is considering a KAL. So, if you would be interested, let her know.

*For those faithful readers who vaguely remember this yarn in the start of the Cambridge Jacket, well it's toast. I didn't get gauge well enough for it to be my first cap-sleeved sweater. But I like the yarn better in the shawl, so all is good.

Monday, November 27, 2006

New LYS! and a Sock of a Different Color

Saturday my friend Nancy and I set up a beading afternoon, and we needed to go to our LBS, which is in a small complex of restaurants and shops built around a courtyard. At the entrance to the Courtyard stood a sign telling everyone to go up to the third floor to the new YS, Knitter's Playground. I had to go (Nancy is a soon-to-be knitter; after all she wasn't a beader until she met me either). So after the bead store we took a look. I didn't have my camera with me, but believe me when I say it was fabulous. The owner, Rebecca, was smart enough to specialize in yarns and knitting that wasn't being carried well at the other LYS. So she had a lot of sock yarn and LACE yarn. She has all the Fiddlesticks and Fiber Trends shawl and scarf patterns. Wanting to support her business venture, I made a little purchase.

Jaeggerspun Zephyr in Admiral

She also carries Fleece Artist (but not the sock yarn) and Hand Maiden Yarns. They are expecting a shipment of Sea Silk: every colorway, over 100 lbs of Sea Silk! I am psyched. She also carries all the Brown Sheep yarns, which are some of my favorites for sweaters.

Last time, I showed a sock WIP for Michael's grandma for Christmas. I was hoping I was knitting the right size. I was not. But no matter! Grandma has very narrow feet, and last July I knit a sock that I thought would fit my medium-wide foot, but the yarn over cable pattern made it too narrow. I can get it on, but the fabric is pretty stretched, so I think it will be perfect for a narrow foot (we are both size 8.5 luckily). So now I am over half finished.


The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino in Renaissance. I can't say enough good things about Fleece Artist Merino. It wears well, keeps its shape and colors, and is very soft and warm. Pooling is also limited in the medium size women's socks I've been knitting. At Simply Sock Yarn Company, Alison has procured FAM in some of the Hand Maiden colorways.

Next time, I hope to show a FO, which is waiting for blocking. Until then, happy knitting!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For Natasha: WIP Wednesday

Late this afternoon in lab, Natasha came over to my desk, put her hands on her hips, and said, "You have not updated your blog in a week. I had a few minutes this afternoon, and I thought it would be fun to catch up on your blog, but there was nothing new. You need to post again."

I hear and obey. I'm 15 years older than Natasha and almost twice as big (she's very thin), but she's a graduate student in the final throes of her Ph. D. research. I know not to poke a cornered creature with a stick; I'll leave that to the full professors on her thesis committee. So, here are some WIPs for Natasha and you.

First up we have the Landscape shawl which is almost 130 stitches across (enroute to 308 stitces with one new stitch per row). I calculated that I'm about 17% done. And in the photo, you can see that I've just started the third chevron which is stockinette stitch. I was glad I counted right and the YO at the base of this section is in the middle of the seed stitch triangle.


Second, a new WIP, a Christmas WIP for M's Dad: a diagonal rib scarf in Misti Alpaca chunky:


M's Dad had major back surgery two weeks ago, and his very experienced surgeon said his Lumbar 5 vertebra was the weirdest he had ever seen. Apparently, it was missing a part. So, I figure the guy could use a super-soft scarf in a nice, manly dark red. The color is richer in person. Some of the fibers actually look black, but it is very subtle. And I should mention that his dad is doing super well. He had a couple of morphine hallucinations while in the hospital (like seeing his sister and brother-in-law in the potted plant we had delivered). But they are all gone, and he is now doing a lot of walking. They live out in the woods of Illinois, so I hope the scarf will help keep him warm on his treks.

Third up we have another Christmas knit, this time for M's Grandma. She needs socks to wear with her Birks (the only shoes that make her toes happy). I found out about this today. Currently, I am assuming she has the same size foot as her daughter, as I have knit a pair of socks for M's mom. This is the oblique rib from Sensational Knitted Socks (8-stitch repeat) in Fleece Artist Merino, colorway Lily Pond:


The cream colored cotton fleece sweater has suffered a cruel gauge mishap, even though I knit two different gauge swatches. It shall not be completed as it would be far too large to wear under a fitted jacket, which was my intention. Mistress Gauge and I are not speaking currently. I feel she is a fickle bitch in breach of contract. Both swatches were washed and blocked in addition to being practically 5 x 5 inch squares. This long holiday weekend I would like to swatch for the Charcoal Brocade jacket, and Mistress Gauge better behave. Because if she does not, I'm just going to knit scarves and shawls from my new copy of Victorian Lace Today, and we all know we don't need Mistress Gauge's permission to do that.

Am I threatening Mistress Gauge?!

Let's just say that the berry colored Sea Silk has shipped.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

FOs and a WIP

It has been a big week here at Molecular Knitting. As I reported in my last post, the La Gran cardigan is done. But did I stop there? No siree! I only had a half dozen or so purple necklaces to go with said lilac La Gran. So I had to make another one.


This necklace took some planning to get everything lined up properly so it didn't look oppy. Natasha, our lab's fashionista, covets the necklace and the La Gran cardigan, so I consider them successes.

I also made a lapis lazuli bracelet for Trek, the winner of my birthday contest. Trek said cobalt blue was her favorite color, and the lapis was close (plus it was the same hue as the blue in the CTH sock yarn she won).


I also included a little Scharffen Berger chocolate. From Trek's thank you email, I don't think she plans to share the chocolate.

In knitting FOs, I finished the Fleece Artist Merino socks in Paris for my MIL for Christmas. I love Fleece Artist merino sock yarn. It is velvety and the colors are really rich (and don't pool much or at all in most colorways).


I really like the eye of the partridge heel flap in this colorway. The photo is blurry (I used the macro and the tripod! Arghh!), but you can see how nicely the colors work out in the lattice of EoP.

What with all the FOs, I had start start a new WIP (some previous WIPs ran into insurmountable difficulties and will not become FOs, but that's for a different post). I started the Fiber Trends Landscape Shawl in CTH supersock in Green Mountain Madness. The colors are fantastic and I am totally enthralled with knitting this shawl. I understand Evelyn A. Clark's extremely well-written pattern perfectly, so it is a joy to knit.


Those are picots decorating the edge of the shawl. I can knit picots!


I've made it into the seed stitch chevron.


All these pictures of the shawl make me want to knit! I hope all of you are having a great week!

Monday, November 13, 2006

"It's Done! Done," I say, "Done!"

Although this photo isn't pretty (due to horrific weather and no outdoor light to speak of), the La Gran Lilac Cardigan is DONE!


Most importantly, it fits. The sleeves are a little long, but I fold back the cuff, and then all is good. I wore it to church on Sunday, where they had turned the heat on. I nearly died. It is a very warm sweater. Elsie is taking me out for a late birthday lunch tomorrow, and I'll wear it there also. I just have to decide which amethyst jewelry I want to wear. Yeah, I lead a rough life.

This is my first cardigan, and I am pleased. I don't think I'll knit another mohair sweater for quite a while, as the hairiness slowed me down, and it's hell to rip. But all in all, I enjoyed knitting this sweater, so I can wear it with no bad memories attached.

I am close to some other FOs, so I'm off to work on those!

Added later:
I linked to this quiz from the blog Trailing Yarn. It just goes to show that you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can't take the Wisconsin out of the girl.
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Friday, November 10, 2006

Contest Winner!

Trek is the contest winner!!

I'd write more now, but I have to prepare to give a presentation at work (ARGHH!).
Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Unexpected FO and Contest Reminder

If you haven't already, scroll down to the previous post and read about the contest I have going on! M will pick the winner Friday morning, so be sure to comment or email to enter! Only 8 people have entered so far, so the odds are pretty good!

In knitting news, I have an unexpected FO. Sunday morning, M and I went to lunch with friends, Nudia and Javier, who are moving to Texas in a couple of weeks, where Javier will start in a tenure track assistant professor position. Another couple of friends, Nancy and Robert, also joined us. Nudia is five months pregnant, and Nancy was nice enough to think to give her a baby gift. I felt awful, especially as M mentioned that he thought we should bring a baby gift. I had to explain to M that his thoughts aren't real until he shares them with me (he wasn't impressed with my thesis). Anyway, I knew we would see Javier and Nudia next Sunday, so when we got home, I dug through my stash and came up with a skein of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Prairie Lupine (a color which does not photograph well). I knit up this little hat in the 9-12 month size, thinking that would be around the time she (they know they are having a girl) will need a hat.


The pattern is from Knitters (Summer 2001). I loved the seed stitch flying wedge design (originally from Babara Walker).


The seed stitch border isn't the stretchiest edge, but I didn't try to make the cast-on as loose as usual, so I think that will keep the hat on her head without looking too goofy. I always like how circular decreases look:


I did one more round of decreases than the pattern called for, as I thought 12 stitches were too many to end on and run the yarn through. I also knit the whole thing on dpns (US sz 4), even though the pattern called for a 16" circular. I cast-on to the circular needle, but I really had to stretch out the stitches, so I decided the dpns would work better, and I didn't have a problem. I hope the baby likes her hat! The pattern also includes a romper (looks like a clown suit to me, but I am not a baby clothes expert by any means), booties (also in seed stitch with no way to fasten a tie), and a blanket. And Cotton Fleece is the called for yarn, but there was no way I was going to get 5 spi on sz 6 needles. I was right on using the 4s.

Two packages arrived in the mail today. M snatched them up, and I don't know where he put them. He is very strict about not opening birthday gifts before the birthday; he's a big meany in this regard. I asked Mom for lace blocking wires from Knitpicks, and a long tube arrived! But I can't open it until Friday!!

Well, go enter the contest to win yarn and beaded jewelry!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Contest Time!

It's time to have a contest! Next Friday, the tenth, is my birthday, and I think that calls for a contest. But as a disclaimer, I've never run a contest before, so I am making it up as I go along. My thinking is this: anyone who enters the contest will have the chance to win one of two yarns AND a beaded bracelet or earrings made by me just for them. So, the yarn is the easier part and I've chosen from my stash a sock yarn and a mohair yarn that would be great in a scarf.

CTH Supersock in Potluck Jewels
Luxury Mohair by King Cole in Florence (2 skeins)

The winner will get to choose which yarn she/he would like. They will also get to tell me if they want a pair of earrings (sterling silver wires) or a bracelet. I'll find out favorite colors, or if the winner wants to send me a picture of a favorite handknit, I'll design the piece of jewelry to coordinate (I already do this in my head when I look at all your wonderful handknits on your blogs). Then, I'll set to work, and send out the yarn with the surprise beaded jewelry. So, to enter, all you need to do is tell me so by leaving a comment or sending me an email (found under my complete profile link). In the comment/email I would like to know which yarn you would like, because if I get a lot of contestants, then I may make two pools and pick a winner for each yarn. Actually, I have asked M to do the drawing, and I plan to have him pick on the morning of the tenth. So all entries must be received by the end of November 9th (i.e. before midnight of the 10th) Pacific Time. I'm a pretty new blogger, so I don't yet have a wide readership (that I know of), so the odds of winning are pretty high, so enter! Good Luck!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

That was Then, This is Now

Back in the distant past of early September, I made knitting plans, and I shared them on this blog. It was time to knit lace in a triangle, i.e. a shawl. I thought the Ruby colorway of Fleece Artist Merino would make a fantastic Christmas shawl to wear knit up in the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. And it still would be if I were more a visual than an audio thinker/learner. Lace doesn't talk. You have to figure it out by looking at it. It's easy in a rectangle, but a triangle--I need some remedial help. I got this far on the DFS:


I was tearing my hair out. I was knitting stitch-to-stitch, my crochet hook clenched in my teeth for easily fixing mistakes, M would speak to me and I would grunt. The grunting brought me to my senses (grunting is NOT attractive). I wanted to enjoy knitting this, and then I wanted to be happy while I wore it. So, it will have to wait a little while.

So, how to fix this problem? How do I get lace to speak? Well, I thought I could pay more attention to the rectangular lace I was knitting quite happily. Rather than blindly following the pattern, I could try to figure it out. What a concept! It isn't a new concept for me either. Biochemistry is a pretty visual field (cells and molecules aren't very chatty), and yet I managed to develop ways of understanding molecular structures even though I can't see the molecules in my head and spin them around the way M can (I think he's a bit of a mutant). If I could do it with molecules, I can do it with lace.

My Grapevine lace scarf (previously I kept referring to it as the trellis lace pattern, but it is not) is an 8 stitch, 12 row repeat pattern, and I've knit it to 21 inches long so far:


For the last 4-5 inches I've been anticipating before I start the next row what I am going to have to knit (it's really easy on the wrong side rows, they're all purl) before I look at the pattern, which is written be from Barbara Walker's 1st treasury. This has been very enlightening. So has knitting the lace border for the Lucy Top from Wendy Knits!:


I was confused at first about which way the decreases should go around a YO (I hadn't really thought about it before), and after speaking with my knitting guru, Elsie (who doesn't blog), I realized that I had "conceptualized" it bassackwards. Elsie was kind enough not to tell me I had it backwards (I thought decreases should point/lean away from the YO), but just that she had never seen a lace pattern as I described. Ah.

I now realize that in some part of my brain (it doesn't let me in there very often to poke around), that I knew I would have visual difficulties, and that is why several weeks ago I purchased the pattern for the Forest Canopy Shawl from Susan. Her pattern has an extensive tutorial and it's a beautiful, yet simple lace repeat for those of us who are learning to "read" lace. So, I bought yarn to knit it.


That's Schaefer Anne in Silver Sage. It's luscious. And, as someone pointed out, it matches my eyes. I also bought some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Green Mountain Madness to make the Fiber Trends Landscape shawl.


I bought that pattern several years ago when I first thought I would want to knit a shawl, but then I beaded much more than knit for a few years. I've been thinking of it in the GMM colorway for quite sometime, and Alison at Simply Sock Yarn Company had enough in the same dyelot. It seemed like fate (OK, I did email her to ask if she had enough, but it's still fate). Anyway, it is a triangle knit from the tip to the top with basic knit-purl patterns between YO increases. This also should help me get the whole triangle thing down, especially as it works the triangle from the opposite direction of the Forest Canopy Shawl. I am going to be a triangle-knitting, lace-knitting whiz before I am through. And that's as it should be.

Friday, marks a week before my birthday, so I think it will be time to announce a little contest. A way to win yarn and something beaded just for you. Check back Friday evening for details.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

One is the Loneliest Number...

My Socktober left a little to be desired in terms of new sock creations:


Just one sock for me. I either have to knit the second or hop. I loved knitting this sock, it's just that October was very busy and hectic with things like a scientific career, which is pretty nifty too but recently very time consuming. But back to the sock. As I said before, the leg and instep pattern is the Gingerbread all-over cable pattern from VK Stitchionary 2. It was very easy to knit as the garter ridge in the second rib of the pattern made it especially easy to count rows.


I used the Dutch heel from the Madder ribbed sock of Vintage Socks, that fits my foot very well (which I was not able to photograph tonight at all well). I planned on using a grafted toe, but my bulbous big toe misled me, and the sock was going to be a little short. I continued decreasing every other round for longer than I normally would have and then decreased every round to only four stitches. That fits perfectly (again can't photograph the sock on my foot in the stygian darkness that fills our living room--but boy did I try). I've cast on for the second sock but have other secret sockish things going also.


Elongated Corded Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks in Fleece Artist Merino, colorway Paris


2x2 rib leg in Online Highland Colors #?? (sorry!). I bought both yarns from the Simply Sock Yarn Company (including the grey marled Jawoll of the cabled sock). The top sock has a giftee in mind who loves autumnal colors. The bottom sock could still go a couple of different ways, including my own feet. We'll see.

I did find time to sew the shoulder seams of the La Gran cardi and then knit the neckband. It is only the third neckband I've ever knit, but it is the best, so at least I continue to improve!


I studied picking up stitches along a neckedge in my copy of Vogue Knitting, marked every two inches around with a pin, did the math to determine stitches to pick up per 2 inches and went at it. Now I just need to do the rest of the seaming and sew on the buttons. I've been a little too frazzled the last couple of days, but I think by tomorrow I shall be ready to seam. The tenth is my birthday, and M is taking me to my favorite restaurant for dinner and I plan to wear my sweater. I just hope I don't spill on it! Did I ever mention that I'm a little clumsy? Spray 'n' Wash is my friend.

Now I need to decompress a little, knit a lot, maybe drink a whiskey and soda.

Thursday, October 26, 2006