Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Knitter's December

The holidays are nearly over. I gave away some of my stash yarn as gifts. I actually finished some socks for presents. I received some terrific sock yarn from my son in my favorite colors. It's the sock that you see started. I just seem to have to be working on a pair of socks. Right now I LOVE sock yarn! The hemp/wool yarn was a gift from my daughter.I adore the colors and am thinking about what to make with it. In the meantime I love the yarn just the way it is. The beaded stitch markers are a gift from knitting friends. Those around me know how to make me smile. Maybe you'll get to see this pair of socks finished because they are going to be MINE!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Remember Rumplestilskin?

I been spending much of my time on my gardening blog,"Plants and Stones". The knitting continues, but it consists mostly of mice .Finally I finished this pair of socks using Maizy, a yarn made of corn fibers. They have a very soft feel and should be nice to wear. The yarn comes from Straw Into Gold, Inc. When it comes to sock yarn, the spinning straw into gold process seems to have been a success. I certainly part with some major cash for an exciting sock yarn! Wouldn't Rumplestilskin be pleased? The plain fact is knitting and then wearing interesting socks is so much fun!

During the holidays my double points will be idle for awhile, but the next pair of socks is not far off!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Felting Bug Strikes Again

Just when I thought I was bored and finished with felting, I saw a cute little pair of boots made with Fiber Trends' Alpine Boots pattern. I have to say I'm tickled pink with the results. The pattern is well done. The sole is a bit tricky, but the directions are right on! I thought I would embellish them is some way but they are so darn cute , I think they are done.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Woolly Bear Pile Up

I'm piling up woolly bears to get ready for the Shaker Heritage Society Christmas show in Albany, NY. The show runs from Nov.1 through Dec.20, 10 AM to 4 PM, closed Sundays. Phone 518-456-7890 for more information.

I've been having fun and since I have been told that others wish to share in the fun, the pattern for these critters follows:

Woolly bear Caterpillar

Needles :10 or 10 ½ ,16" circular needle or DP
Yarn : Fun Fur 1 skein black, 1 skein rust
Magnetic catch

Using black cast on 30 stitches. K 1 row, P1 row. Next K row: inc in every other stitch. ( For larger caterpillar, P 1 row and repeat increase row) Join now to work in a circle knitting every row. Mark end of round. Work with black for desired length. Change to rust and work for desired length. Change back to black and work for desired length.

Begin now to work back and forth starting with a purl row.
Next row: K1, K2tog across. Purl back. (For larger caterpillar repeat last two rows) K1 row. P1 row. Bind off. Sew up seam and gather end. Stuff and sew up second end. Add magnetic catch if desired . (Not recommended for younger children!)

Sorry I did not keep track of the black to rust measurements. I have read that woolly bears vary according to their age. I suggest you find a photo to go by.

If you choose to make this pattern, please email me at closeknitfriends.gmail.com with photos or if you have problems. Consider yourself a test knitter!

Friday, September 5, 2008

I'm Baaack!

My, my, my! What, oh what has happened to Close Knit Friends? Well, we're still close, still knitting and still friends. But Knit has become Becky (who had actually been Becky all along). I'm still Purl Too. I sort of melted into the summer sun but I have been working my little fingers till they tingle. However, it's after Labor Day, for me always the start of the year and I can no longer shirk my responsibilities.

Allow me to introduce David Bowie. My Dear SIL gave me a book called Knitted Icons and sort of hinted that he'd love to have David. Since his birthday is in August, I made it one of my projects. Actually, I can't take credit for the entire thing because Becky made the costume for Dave. She used to sew Barbie outfits for her daughter and can actually make those teeny tiny clothes. The book is fun to look at but I don't think they used any test knitters. I had to take most of the stuffing out of Dave and push the body I had knitted, up into the head, making his neck somewhere near his nose. Fortunately, I had not sewn the face on. We used pipe cleaners, not recommended in the book but really useful if you want Dave to stand. After the pipe cleaners were stuffed into the costume, there was no room at all for the knitted arms and legs so I made the feet and hands out of pipe cleaners too and attached them. The instructions for the hair were very complex. Fortunately I had some of the proper color roving about (note the clever way I slipped roving into the conversation, could it be that Purl now spins?). I needle felted the roving to his head, put on the face and used a fiber marking pen for the signature lightning bolt. I sent him off to London where SIL was very happy. David is now sitting in a corner office with a window that looks out on Big Ben. He is a very happy camper.

I have spent my other time learning to love lace, and trying to learn to knit backwards so I can do intarsia in the round. But the thing that takes most of my time and love right now is Spinning. Yes, dear ones, I now have my very own wheel and am getting better by the yard. But more about that another time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Darned Socks!

There you have it, the dreaded hole! I posted the completion of this pair of socks in May. The yarn is Jitterbug, a beautiful but very pricey sock yarn. Three months is a short time for a pair of socks, even if you wear them a lot! Thank goodness I found the leftover sock yarn. (Never give away leftover sock yarn!) I remember that I used size 1 needles. This hole is a 3 stitch hole. One knit row needs to be picked up with a crochet hook since the ladder is intact. Two loose ends on each side means it is a 2 row hole.

As soon as I calm down, serenity being necessary for me to complete this kind of repair, I will attempt my repair. First I will fix the knit row with the remaining ladder. Then I will thread a yarn needle with the leftover yarn and use duplicate stitch under the hole starting two stitches before the hole and go two stitches past. Two duplicate stitches on the next row will be followed by three knit stitches, then two duplicate stitches. Two duplicate stitches on the next row will be followed by three Kitchener stitches and then two duplicate stitches. This should close the hole. One row of duplicate stitch across the top and the ends can be buried with a crochet hook.

For now the hole is safely isolated . When I calm down I will be able to decide if I should start on the right or the left side. Since I have used this yarn for three pairs of socks, I think I will be getting TOO MUCH practice doing this kind of repair. DARN!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Start of the Rat Race

The catnip drying has begun and I'm starting in on the catnip mice for Christmas. I'm only kidding about the rat race part. I like doing them or I wouldn't bother. Mice are my default knitting project. I always have one going. So many kitties would be disappointed without their Christmas mouse. I admit they are kind of rat sized, but they have to last for a whole year. They are filled entirely with wild catnip leaves and flowers. It's only July, the race is off to a good start.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Finally Finished Felt Bag

I finally finished my wet felted bag. I did pretty well adding the beads and stitching down the loose silk. I like the bag, the color , the texture, but as far as the closure is concerned I was stumped. I bought the button and the silk cord, but then it went nowhere.

Fortunately my daughter made a visit this weekend. I trust her judgement and her taste, so I asked her for some ideas. She came through as always. Voila, it's done!

This is the back of the bag. "What is it supposed to be?" I was asked. " I don't know, what does it look like to you?" I replied. It's like a crystal ball , you could see anything in there. I love the bag. It was fun to make, but I'm pretty sure this really is a one-of a-kind project for me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2008 # 2

Knit One knitting at Scallions

Knit One knitting in Borders

I so wanted to be with Purl on this momentous occasion , but I had plans to go to Saratoga Springs . I went , but I took my knitting. I did my first knitting in public in the lobby at the motel where we stayed.

My second stop was at Scallions ,a favorite restaurant where I had coffee and worked on my sock. The waitress was kind enough to take my picture.

There was a knitting in public event in High Rock Park at lunch time. I soon discovered that there was also a Flag Day Parade that bisected Saratoga, and I was on the wrong side of the street. So I never actually saw other knitters, but I carried on.

My next knitting in public stop was at Borders. I went up to the bench in the knitting book section. This time I had to snag a customer to get my photo.

My final stop was in the waiting room at the Roosevelt Spa,I worked on my sock, drank spring water, listened to restful music and waited for my bath and massage.

After the bath and massage, I was far to relaxed to knit my sock. My daughter and I went back to Scallions for a fabulous dinner and then back to the motel to chill out for the rest of the evening. It was bliss!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2008

This year the Jericho Fiber Arts Guild took part in the WWKIP 2008 day. All over the world knitters were in public doing their thing. We were no different. The weather was lovely and since it was Flag Day there was also a parade and many town groups were out and about. We shared the Library lawn with the Sidney Gardening Club and found a wonderful shade tree to cool us from the hot June sun.
Next year will be bigger and better but there's nothing like the first.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Lily Pond

The lily pond bag is finished. It isn't exactly what I had planned. It doesn't look much like the chart. (See Knitting Doldrums) I spent a lot of time looking at that beige spot before I decided to needle felt it into a tree. The different textures and the color shading that the felting produces is what makes these bags fun to do. Maybe Monet would approve of the water, but the tree not so much.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Me Knit Lace? I Do and I Love It!

I really haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve just discovered lace knitting. It is at the same time the most frustrating and the most rewarding kind of knitting I have found. It definitely is not something I can do while watching TV. It requires things called “life-lines” and much counting and all kinds of non-stitches. If you look at a lace chart, you see lots of empty spaces and you say to yourself, “What goes there?” I tried knitting from a chart but I have to admit, I need to see the pattern written out.
My friends on Ravelry have all sorts of tricks to keep track of repeats using 3x5 cards, colored pens, plastic rings, row counters and more. I found a pattern I really liked but promised myself I would not knit it in the “real” yarn until I could do two repeats of the pattern without a mistake. Frogging and tinking are the way I spend much of my lace knitting time but it’s so wonderful when it all comes together.
I got some 100% merino yarn from a wonderful place called Colourmart in England. I don’t know how they do it but I can get merino and cashmere and silk for less than I can from a dealer over here and the shipping is included in the price. This yarn comes on cones and still has the “oil” used to keep the yarn safe while it’s machine knitted. First you knit a swatch the way it is. Then you wash it in shampoo and conditioner and squeeze it in a towel and block it to dry. Then you measure the gauge because this is what the completed piece will be like. The difference is like night and day as you can see from the photos. The pattern I used is called Tiger Eye. You can also see from the photos why I’m hooked on this new experience. I’m about to start on a shawl pattern. Can’t wait to see how it goes. Meanwhile, I spend lots of time practicing lace patterns from Barbara Walkers Stitch books. She says you can’t just look at the pattern; you have to do it to see what it will be like. It’s incredible how much the size of the needle and the weight of the yarn will change a pattern stitch. But that’s for another post. I’m off to check out the pattern for my new shawl.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Finished Simple Socks

The "Simple Socks" are finished! I'm not sure that both socks are exactly the same size and of course the patterning is different, but they went out of here on my daughter's feet and looked OH SO COOl peeking out of the holes in her shoes. She was wearing the purple top seen in the background of this picture. She's happy and I'm delighted!

As you can see, I've already started my next sock. I'm going back to my regular pattern and will just make them an inch shorter. Really when you get down to it, the difference in sock patterns is in the details. What kind of decreases do you like to do? How many stitches do you want to weave together for the toe? Do you want the extra thickness of the slip stitch rows for the heel flap?

I'm looking forward to a stress free knitting experience this time. I'm in familiar territory. No confusion between psso and ssk, no ratio problems, just knitting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knitting Doldrums

I sold my first Monet bag and decided it was time to try another one. Waterlilies with the bridge at Giverny was the image in my head.

I made my chart on a graph with 30 stitches and 41 rows. That's different from the normal knitting graph paper because I intend to felt this design. I'm sure the math is not perfect, but this graph has been working for me. I wound my colors into balls of three strands so that the colors will blend, and I began to knit.

It soon became obvious that the bag was just too small for the proposed bridge. Now the finished bag in my head, and the work on my needles are at odds. Work stopped.

First it's my "simple" socks, and now this bag. The wind has been knocked out of my knitting sails so to speak. Maybe I needed a breath of fresh air. I put this project aside too , and fondled the new yarn that just came in the mail. I was so tempted to start something new!

This time I didn't . I decided to finish the bag sans bridge, and felt it as it is. It will be "The Lily Pond". I'm up to the band and handle so it should be finished soon. It's not exactly what I had planned, but that happens. We'll see what the washing machine can do with this project.

I picked up the socks again too. The second sock is on its toe decreases.

So my next post will either be "The Lily Pond" or" Finished Simple Socks"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meanwhile on another blog...

I was visiting Ravelry again( See"Mirror of Erised" post.) Ganiggle Knits was celebrating the beginning of her blog with a write- a- funny- knitting- story contest. Usually I don't enter contests , but this time I did. I like this blog , so I put it on my Google Reader. Besides , there was a chance , however slim, that I might win.

I was thrilled when I got an email telling me that I had won the contest, but that paled by comparison to going to another blog, and seeing my writing published there. Not only that, there was a prize of yarn!

You can share in the excitement. The yarn is ALL mine, but you can go to Ganiggle Knits and read my prize winning story. Please comment on it. That would be great, because Ganiggle would love know you have been there. Meanwhile I'm watching the mailbox, waiting for my yarn to arrive from Canada. It's here! It's here. My beautiful yarn is finally here! The spring garden colors will make a gorgeous felted bag. Boy those custom agents are good with duct tape. I'm sure it has been a sniffed and fondled, but it made the trip just fine!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Simple Socks

Just look at this yarn. Doesn't it remind you of a brilliant sunset? I received a skein of this yarn as a gift. At 291 m it was a little short for my usual sock pattern, but as luck would have it there was a Simple Sock Pattern on the band. Perfect I thought, since one skein of the yarn was the material required for the pattern. It looked easy too, just count the rows, no measuring.

This yarn called Jitterbug is made in Wales. Right away we have a little metric situation, but
I didn't see this as a problem. The pattern called for 2.5mm needles. I consulted a chart (on the back of a pair of Chinese double points) which told me that the required needles were between a 2 and a 1. I tried the 2 and found that the 30 stitches to 4'' required a smaller needle. So I did a quick rip out and used the size1.

As you can see I was knitting along fine on my beautiful sunset sock. The 30 stitches measured exactly 4 ". However when I finished the 40 rows called for, which according to the gauge would measure 4 ", it was only 3.25". Now I 'm confused, but there's an email address on the band so I sent the message below.


I'm trying to use the pattern on the yarn band. I'm using size 1
needles. The number of stitches to measure 4 " is perfect, however
the 40 rows called for in the pattern measures 3.25". I don't
understand how it can be perfect in one direction and off in the
other. Also if I adjust the length will I have enough yarn to finish
the project? The pattern calls for 1 skein.
I love the colors of the yarn and I want this to work.

Can I ask what size needles you are using to make you socks?
One hank of Jitterbug will make a pair of socks up to a size UK 6, anything above this would probably need another hank.

The Colinette Team.

Huh!!! There's a slight disconnect here. I decided to call the lys where the yarn was purchased. ( This should have been my first move.) She suggested that I use the gauge to determine the measurement for each step in the pattern. So now it's a simple ratio math problem with decimals. Oh joy!!!

I'm almost finished with my first sock. When I finish it , I will weigh it to see if it is over 55grams. If it is, I'll need that second hank of yarn UK6 or not. I have a few other issues with this pattern as well. So just let me ask, over there across the pond, does the word simple mean easy?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Prize Arrived !

Thanks to the USPS our prize has arrived at its destination. If you would like to see how it made the trip, just drop by theraineysisters.com. The picture for this post is there. Susan (our winner) and Sally are amazing knitters. I subscribe to their blog, and I'll be watching future posts for something felted. ( or fulled) . That fulled is for the wet felters . I suggest you join me! Thanks to all our contest participants! Now on to another wonderful year!

Monday, May 5, 2008

And the Winner Is...

I'm sure everyone is waiting for the results of our comment contest. I'm pleased to announce that the winner is #5, lv2knit. The winning comment is "Congratulations on your first year! It is fun to blog, but a bit of work, n'est-ce pas?? Keep it up (and I hope I win) "

The box is ready to go. All I need now is a mailing address. Please send your mailing address to closeknitfriends@gmail.com , and I will send it right out.

For all of the rest of you who were kind enough to comment on our Blog-aversary , we have a special consolation prize. You win an entire year's subscription to our blog. That means for an entire year you can read our blog anytime you want to for free. No, wait , you can do that already. OOPS!! Well, tough luck then, but this contest was fun , maybe you'll be luckier next time!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why not!

All I said was “why don’t we?”, and she said, “why not?’ and here we are, one year later. I have to say, it’s been nothing like I thought it would be and something extraordinary and exhilarating. We started to show what two different people would do with one idea. Then beads came along and we got caught up in them, Knit with bitsy beads and Purl with huge beads. Suddenly we were felting. Purl going smallish with pockets and things that matched and Knit going Matisse and Mondrian and the WaterLillies. We have no idea how all this happened. Towards the end we found ravelry and suddenly Purl was making socks and talking to book authors and Knit was making socks with shrimp shells in them.
What can I say? I have tried so much and learned things I never knew about. We explored our craft and it explored us. Can we do it again? Well, I just got into lace and Knit is being inspired by the colors of her garden to felt wonderful things.
Thanks for being part of it with us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What a Great Year!!!

On Friday May 2 , Purl and I will have been blogging for a year. It has been so much fun! In celebration, we present this yarn bouquet as a prize. The contents include 3 skeins of Plymouth Galway, 2 skeins of Lion Brand Fun Fur, 2 strings of crow beads and 1 Plymouth circular needle size 13 in a coiled basket made by me, Knit One. It's everything you would need to make a felted bag as seen right here on this blog, pattern and all. Shipping is on us!
In the almost unbelievable case that the winner has no use for yarn, a completed felted bag of our choice may be substituted.

To win this lovely prize , just leave a comment on this post. We considered choosing the winning comment according to the one we like best, but discarded that idea for a straight pull- it- out- of- a- felted-hat drawing. Comments will be numbered in the order they come in and will be drawn from numbers 1 through whatever.

The deadline for this drawing is Sunday May 4, 2008. The winning comment will be announced on the blog on Tuesday May 6.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wet Felted WIP

This week I took a class in wet- felting- by- hand, taught by Lisa Merian of Spinner's Hill. I've always been curious about wet felting, but never took the plunge , so to speak. Purl decided to pass on this project, after all you can't do everything, can you?

I must say I had a wonderful time. Lisa supplied a gorgeous mound of colored rovings and carded wool for us to use. It was a feast for the eyes with many bright exciting colors to choose.

As you can see we were making felt bags. I chose some some exotic silk threads and fabric to decorate my bag. The bag is worked from the outside in. That means you make your design, and then cover it up with carefully laid layers of wool, running in alternating directions, first on one side and then the other. After that you add water and soap and rub, and rub , and rub...

When the bag is felted enough you cut an opening and turn the bag right side out. Next the handle is felted and inserted between the layers, and then you add water and soap and rub, and rub and rub...

When I got home I felt like the "I just flew in from Cleveland, and boy are my arms tired. " joke.
It was really fun , but when I go home , I patted my washer and said "It's you and me kid!"
I'm going back to the knit , and then felt thing.

So here is my bag! It's a WIP. It needs a closure of some kind. the silk threads are not felted down very well. Perhaps some beads, or needle felting will do it. I guess I'll live with it for awhile and decide.

In any case it was great fun trying this new, rather mysterious process. If you could use the exercise, it's a great way to get it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Subtle Socks

I gave up early on the matching thing with this yarn. The color changes are just too subtle. The yarn is Berroco Comfort Sock. It's nylon and acrylic and machine wash and dry. Hope they launder well. Fingering yarn has been fun, but I think when I finish the second gray sock , I'll go back to my 3 strands of worsted weight and size 13 needles. I feel a felted bag coming on!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hyberbolic Art

Remember in elementary school, every once in a blue moon the “art lady” would come in wheeling her little cart of goodies and we cleared our desks and had art? I always loved it but somehow I never got it right. “Today we’re going to paint a cow”. She’d pass out paper and paints and brushes and she’d tell us all about cows and that kind of thing. Her talking was sort of the way adult language is represented in “Peanuts”. Once I had my paper and those lovely paints and those big fat brushes I was off and running. I started to draw a cow but somehow it turned into a cat. I was from the city and although I never owned a cat, I had much more experience of cats than of cows. I could never do a cow’s nose because I had no idea what a cow’s nose looked like. I could do a cat’s nose. It was pink. And there were whiskers and ears and a lovely long tail. Art lady would move up and down the aisles and bend over and say things to the kids but when she got to me there was that sigh. There was always a sigh. “Weren’t we painting cows?” she’d ask.
“Well, this is a cat cow.”
“A cat cow?”
“Yeah, well you see cats live alone in the country without people and so they need to get milk by themselves so they have cat cows that they get their milk from and this is one of those.”
I wasn’t sellin’ it. I was only in the second grade.
Well, the Fiber Arts Guild had their monthly meeting and the subject was hyperbolic crochet. You have seen Knit’s example. She even has beads on hers!
I never was good at crochet and after a while mine wasn’t curving. We started by increasing every 5th stitch and then after a row or two, every 4th stitch and then every 3rd stitch and so on. I was getting a very flat yellow thingie. It occurred to me that if I went right to increasing every stitch, I would get wavy stuff happening and so I did and I did.
After a while I had a wavy yellow rim around a yellow flat thing. I was bored. So I started a purple thingie and I started increasing every stitch right from the start. It was cute and it waved all over the place and after a while it sort of fit right into the center of the yellow thingie. So I put it there and stitched it there. Well the art lady came around and said “Weren’t we doing hyperbolic crochet like the lovely coral in the warm waters of the ocean?”
“Well, you see, the coral reefs are just giant apartments sort of for the little critters that the bigger critters eat and they live in these apartments that look sort of like Miami Beach because they’re all pastel colors and the apartments all have ocean views with lots of sunlight coming in so some of the critters put flowers in their ocean view windows and this is one of those.”
Am I sellin' it?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Crochet 2008

I only crochet in leap years and this is my project for 2008. For some reason, knitting relaxes me and crocheting makes me tense. Anyway, in March the Jericho Fiber Arts Guild meeting was on hyperbolic crochet. I started this there. The yarn is worsted weight acrylic. The beads are #6 seed beads. It has an increase in every stitch.

I was working on this in the doctor’s office and was asked, “What are you making.” “It’s hyperbolic crochet,”I answered. “Yes, but what is it?” the nurse answered. She had me there. I had no answer, but I love the thing. It’s cute and fits nicely in the palm of your hand.

What would you do with it? I would love to know. You could comment on the blog or email me at closeknitfriends@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sock Day

Today is sock day. I know these photos don’t look like socks but that’s the point. I have been working on my intarsia skills by making little baby sweaters. They don’t take too long and they look so cute when you’re finished. I made up the pattern, as much as one makes up a pattern. What I mean is I didn’t follow a written pattern. I used measurements for sweaters for certain sizes, I used the gauge for the yarn and needles I was using, and I used a start at the bottom, go up and over the top down to the bottom of the other side technique for a boat-neck T shirt. I didn’t invent it but I don’t know who did. The duck chart and the star chart are from chart pattern sites, I can’t draw to save myself but Knit says one day I will be doing that too. Who knows? She said I’d knit a sweater without a pattern and I am. She said I could do intarsia and I am. She said I could knit socks and I am. Or I’m not. That’s the point. I’ve been so busy with these intarsia practices that I have let my socks just sit sadly in their little bag. So . . . today is sock day. No duckies, no stars, no itsy bitsy sleeves, just socks. I’m loving it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Mirror of Erised

So Purl and I have been visiting Ravelry. For her it is Oz , for me it is the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter.

It started innocently enough. The topic was gifts for gardeners, and I thought of these felted potholders. Gardeners cook. They would be perfect. But then I saw myself in the mirror, knitting purple eggplant, orange pumpkin and red tomato shaped pot holders complete with leaves. Then I thought of intarsia. I could do a sunflower or Monet's water lilies. Whoa! Wait a minute! These are potholders we are talking about. I need to do what Dumbledore did for Harry. I'm taking Ravelry off my bookmark list. It's way too easy to go there. I won't drop out though. I might want to get a glimpse in the mirror again.

If you knitting and crocheting can use a little desire and inspiration, you can get to Ravelry from here. Just go to Purl's "We're Not in Kansas Anymore" post and click on the link to Ravelry. You'll get there fast, but like Dorothy you'll have to wait at the gate.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Completed work

Here's a sweater which got completed before it even got listed as a WIP. I love the spring colors and baby sweaters look so good in spring colors. I used some of my Caron Simply Soft from my stash. The pattern was from Lion Brand called Naturally Nice Baby Sweater. I made a few changes. I didn't run a tie through the little holes around the neck. It seemed too dangerous. Instead I crocheted a small tie on the top of each side of the cardi border. I also didn't decrease the sleeves until the end. I like baby sleeves to be wide all the way down. It's easier to fight their little arms into them if the sleeve doesn't narrow. Just my choice. Also, the pattern called for cotton but my stash doesn't own any. So, here it is, my first baby sweater of spring.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We're Not in Kansas anymore

What do close knit friends do when they are not knitting? Well, Knit has a passion for her garden. Check out her wonderful blog in her profile. She also has been known to indulge in weaving. Above is a picture of one of us at our Fiber Arts Guild show and demonstration working on a wonderful triangular loom. (Guess which one of us it is.) Another thing we both do is Revel in Ravelry. What is Ravelry? It is a magic kingdom where the streets are paved with yarn and everyone speaks our language. It is definately not Kansas. There are thousands of members but it doesn’t seem crowded. To get into Ravelry you go to:
They are very friendly and you can take a tour. The bus leaves whenever you get there. If you like what you see you sign up for an invite. They accept between 500 and 800 people each day. It took me 7 days to get in. It was worth the wait! Once a member, you get your own page with a place to store patterns and make a spreadsheet of all the needles you have so you don’t keep buying them, there’s a library of books on all kinds of fiber arts. The site is still in Beta although it’s been operating for a year. Each day something new seems to be added. There are forums where groups are listed and you can go to a thread which interests you and say your piece. There are so many groups, I haven’t seen them all yet. I belong to 8 now and they form my forum page along with some others that just seem to be there. You can invite yourself to be some one’s friend. Then you can see all their groups and see how much you have in common. It takes up entirely too much of my time but it’s fascinating and I’m learning all sorts of new things. I’m in a cable scarf kal and I found a wonderful sweater pattern which I downloaded for free. Ravelry is associated with Flickr so you can post pictures of your work and people can see pictures of yours. Do I sound excited? I love Ravelry. Stop in and take the tour. You will be excited too and very likely will sign up for that invite. Then the fun really begins.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Socks the Old Fashioned Way

Purl Too is up on the latest with her two socks on one needle. I'm still using my old double points and keeping track of my rows and increases with a pencil and paper. I know they have new electronic counters now, but sometimes I think if I bring just one more thing in this house that needs a battery I will scream! So I'm starting my second sock and will follow my notes checking at each measurement point in case I missed writing down a row or two.

This pair has no challenge of pattern matching. The challenge here is keeping the yarn on the needles. It just wants to slide off. I'm getting lots of practice picking up dropped stitches . This TOFUtsies yarn is making an interesting weight sock. It's really light even though the yarn is 50% wool. I look forward to wearing them and washing and drying them in the machine.

Friday, March 7, 2008


How many WIPs can you have before you just get totally embarrassed about never finishing anything? Apparently, one can have many, too many. I was looking for one of my favorite needles the other day and after going through bags and tubs of stuff I found it in a project which was never completed. I started to try to sort the WIPs out and decide what to complete and what to frog. I’ve decided to embarrass myself and treat you to a look at some of my Works In Progress. Some of them you’ve seen, like this giraffe. I started it to learn intarsia and as soon as I completed the intarsia part, I went on to something else. Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a strawberry. Well, I picked it up and I fixed the problem with the bind off and the fact that the front was longer than the back. Now I am on the sleeves. With you watching, maybe I’ll get some of these finished.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Matched Pair

Life must be easier for the free spirits who feel no need to match. Why you could dress in the dark! Not so for the uptight symmetrical types like me. I'm not that way about everything ,but when I am, there's no help for it

So I searched out another skein of yarn. The original store was out. I guess it was about the third try online that I found a skein. They had just one. I waited for the package to arrive . When it did, I tore it open and set to work. I found the place in the skein to match the top of my first sock. I wish I could tell you it was at the beginning of the skein, but no, it was about half way in. So I did some serious fiddling to match the pattern. I have several ends to bury in that second sock, ( Notice the lump on the side of my left foot.) but finally, I did it.

So my socks match, right down to the slightly defective toe decreases.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Have Achieved Socks!

They are complete, they are cute, they have several little mistakes but they are socks.
And they are mirror images of each other. No worry about the number of rows being different or the length not being quite the same. They are lovely. I now am a member of the sock knitting community. If you had told me three months ago, or even three weeks ago, that I would be knitting socks and loving it I would have said you were slightly mad. Now I am scouring the yarn sites for sock yarn and already have the next pair on the needle. Notice, I said needle, not needles. Yes, I keep mentioning Melissa Morgan-Oakes and her wonderful 2-at-a-time Socks book but I never would have become a sock knitter without it. Many years ago I tried knitting with double points. Trying to coordinate 4 needles and patterns and yarn was disaster for me. I kept dropping needles and stitches and finally gave up. I looked into socks on two circular needles but knew I would never complete the second sock. Now I just have one needle and I wind up with a completed pair. Unless you have tried it, and I strongly encourage you to do so, you can never know the feeling.
The mistakes: I didn’t want to have ladders at the joins so I pulled the first stitch tight but then continued to pull the stitches tightly. At one point, I thought I was going to wind up with baby support hose.
: I don’t pick up stitches well and the instructions require picking up one more stitch than is present at the gusset to avoid holes. I managed half of them but each sock had a small hole on one side. However, it was easy to fix.
: I purchased the needles by price since I didn’t know if I was going to take to this and I wanted to have several different sizes to try. The result was that I was not happy with the join between the cord and the needle. It was not smooth and getting that last stitch, which had been the first stitch which I pulled so tightly, over the hump of the needle join was a pain. Next time I won’t pull as tightly and soon I will purchase better needles. All in all, the experience was great. I only had to frog once, the Kitchener stitch was no problem, Melissa walks you through the process and the pictures are terrific to see if you are where you are supposed to be. At one point I skipped a step and had to make up for it in a following round but I don’t think it made a difference. I now am part of that group which can talk about heel-turning and gussets and toe boxes. I love my little socks!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

She’s Got Legs

How old do you have to be to remember ZZ Top singing that song and the commercial for the pantyhose that came in those little egg shaped things? Do they still sell them? I remember they were really good for elementary school crafts. Anyway, there I was, I had flattened my knitting with several heavy books in hopes it would start to look like the picture. I stared balefully at the heap for several days. I didn’t knit the socks, I didn’t knit anything. The socks seemed to be heading for my WIPs when I received an email from Melissa Morgan-Oakes herself! She was very encouraging (see comment on Sock it Two Me) and I was so excited that she had written to me that I took the work out from under the book-pile (where it had flattened), picked up her book and started to work. You can see the results. When you get into the rhythm of it, it’s very easy. The socks aren’t magnetic and they don’t glom onto each other. It’s really hard, at this stage, to knit them together because when you get to each sock, there’s its yarn just hanging there ready to be used. I am very proud of the sock legs and looking at them has given me the adrenalin rush I need to start the heel flap. Again, stay tuned.

One Sock Wonder

Purl Too's socks were too much for me !I found my sock pattern (Search the blog for More Bliss.) and my magical sock yarn (Search the blog for Christmas Present.) This pattern uses DPs so I started my sock. The yarn came out in a fair isle like pattern that was amazing. Things were going beautifully, but I began to wonder about the repeat. I had planned to stop at the heel and knit the other sock to the same place in order to avoid one sock syndrome. Of course the second skein was started in a totally different place in the dying pattern , making that slick move impossible. Undaunted I continued on with my first sock. I finally got to the end of the repeat (Marked on photo.) and then to the end of the skein. (Also marked on photo.) I used the second skein to finish the sock.

So here I am with my one sock. I need more yarn, since one skein will not finish the pair even if I take the "No my socks don't match. Isn't it wonderful." approach. So my daughter will come to the rescue with more yarn. My plan is to try to match this sock. So "One Sock Syndrome" it is , at least for now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lost and Found

Since the snow has melted again, were taking a walk around the garden. " My hat" I exclaimed! There it was under the porch. How the heck...? Then I remembered. It was a week or so ago when I was coming home, and I dropped my car keys just outside the kitchen door. It was a million to one shot , and they slipped through the crack and down under the porch. I thought of the old close- pin- in- the- bottle game , we played as kids. I was never good at it then, why now? I slithered under the porch, and found the keys right next to the foundation. I was muddy, and wet and grumpy when I crawled back out! Apparently I was also hatless. That alpaca hat is so light , who could tell?

My happiness went quickly to dismay when the hat was retrieved. It was wet of course, but there were mysterious dark spots in places, and holes. Now if I were a little creature , and I found a pink hat made of baby alpaca in the dead of winter, I would move right in too. However this left me with a choice. I could wash the hat, try to mend it and wear it again , or I could make a new one with the yarn that I conveniently have in my stash. What would you do? For me it's no contest. My knitting project list is like a Netflix queue. A new hat just got moved to the top.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sock it TWO me

I have always thought that as a knitter I should be able to knit socks. Just the vocabulary is enough to put one off; heel flap, heel turning, toe up, top down, gussets. Also, I know my span of concentration is that of a strawberry and even if I knit one sock I would never knit the other. Low and behold, Melissa Morgan-Oakes has written a book for people like me called 2-at-a-time Socks. She shows you how to knit two socks at one time on a 40 inch circular needle; an answer to my knitting prayers. I ordered the book, ordered the needles, ordered the yarn and yesterday I was good to go. Unfortunately, I had a migraine but I thought I’d try anyway. After knitting three rows on one side of one of the socks I started to babble and my husband unhooked my hands from the needles and put me to bed.
Today I started again. I think I may be getting it but, as you can see from the photos, the inset on the left is what Melissa thinks it should look like and the one on the right is what mine looks like.
I have to admit, Melissa suggested doing each sock in a different color to eliminate confusion but that would leave me with the single sock problem all over again. Besides, I assume I’ll make many mistakes on the first one which I will correct on the second time around so I’ll have two pairs of socks, one of each which is riddled with disasters and the other member of each pair will be sort of normal. So I figured I’d use a marker to delineate the socks one from the other.
Secondly, I’m having a problem with the counter-clockwise turn at the center of each row. I carefully watched the clock and turned things the other way but what Melissa said was in my left hand was in my right and vice versa.
I’m not giving up. When I finish this post I’m going to untangle the mess I have and pound it into some semblance of her photo and then I will continue. I hope I don’t have to frog it again because the yarn is looking frazzled already but I have confidence. The woman understands my problem; the least I can do is try to understand her solution. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Who dun it Bag

Perhaps you are wondering, "Why the Lineup" Has some horrible bag crime been committed? I will explain. I got a call the other day from a friend who lives some distance from me. She was quite pleased and said " I bought one of your bags at the consignment shop. I could tell because it still had your tag." It's obvious that when you make all these bags you have to do something with them. Purl Too and I do have some items out for sale in a couple of local shops, but not in this one.

As it happens Christmas came and went, and one bag had disappeared . Right away the Nancy Drew, Sherlock Hemlock, Matlock, whoever in me, kicked in. "Really" I said. "Can you describe the bag in question?" My steel trap mind was thinking that the missing bag culprit was just within my grasp. My friend was surprised by my tone. I must have been using that, I'm looking for a felt bag felon, quality in my voice. "Why do you ask?" she said. I explained about the purloined purse (sounds like a book title doesn't it) .

"It's furry blue with shades of green and purple" she told me. Now our bags are all different and very easy to pick out of a lineup. I instantly knew that I had been wrong. That was a legally regifted bag. I had given it to someone as a Christmas present. Apparently it wasn't her style. My friend was relieved that she had not received stolen property. Regifting is legal, I'm guessing in all 50 states , and it should be. I do it myself. CASE CLOSED !!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Sweaters Have Landed

They reached England and my grandsons are modeling the sweaters. Grandson number one is wearing the stegosaurus (the sweater formally known as “dragon”) and grandson number two is in the Superman hoodie. Now that I can see them being worn it makes a big difference. A picture of a sweater is good but it’s always cooler to see a real person in them. They’re really adorable, and the sweaters are cute too (sorry, just a little Gran humor). Perhaps I will rethink my vow never to do intarsia again. It’s one of those things that just takes practice and since my goal is to become a “fine” knitter, intarsia must be mastered! I just saw a chart for a row of penguins that would look fantastic around the border of a sweater . . . ummm

Monday, February 4, 2008

Blast from the Past

Just down the road from Knit One and still farther down the road from Purl Too, is the small town of Gilbertsville N.Y. The whole town is on the register of historic places. The post office is delightful, the library is a gorgeous stone structure, the Major's Inn is an old stone hotel where events like weddings and quilting shows are held, the Value Way Country Store is, well, a country store, but the real place to go is the Gilbert Block Quilt Shop located in a century old building in the center of town.

Stepping inside Nona's store is like stepping back in time. The fixtures are original and they provide a wonderful bone structure for the delights that you find in every corner. Quilting fabric, and notions, of course, and finished quilts and wall hangings, baby quilts, all kinds of hand crafted gifts, felted bags, catnip mice, baby sweaters, books, and beads dazzle the eye. It is a delightful place to shop.

Nona is a quilting expert. She can help you choose fabric for a new quilting project, hand quilt a family heirloom, or hem your new jeans. She also canes antique chairs. I've heard she has 40 years experience, but she must have started as a very small child! You really should meet her. Her shop is open Tues. - Fri. (10 to 6), Sat. (9-6) and Sun. (1-4). She has a toll free phone 866-783-2872. If you are anywhere nearby, you should make the trip. You won't be sorry!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog . . .

When we began the blog, we were really into beading. At the time I couldn’t envision knitting anything that didn’t have a bead in it. All was going well when Knit discovered an article in Angel Hair Yarn. It was about felting. We were thinking about felting and we tried those booties but here was something we could do without worrying about size and fit.
The article was called the “No Rules” bag. The idea was that she would knit her version of it and I would knit my version of it and we could start something which showed how different knitters using the same pattern could have very different outcomes.
We bought yarn in wild colors. Knit took it first and used the Angel Hair Yarn directions to make a rectangle bottom bag. She turned down the hem and sewed on the handles. She thought the bag was really ugly at this point, but on she went. After felting, it came out of the washer wider at the top. The double thickness of the hem did not shrink as much as the rest of the bag. The top edge was all wavy. “Disaster!” she thought. Then she smoothed out the hem and let the bag dry. As is sometimes the case with felting, you get something different than what you expect. “I love my bag!” she exclaimed and packed up the yarn for me. Knit kept her bag a secret until I finished mine so we could compare.
Of course, I took so long to make mine that by the time I was finished Knit had completed a neat half dozen bags of all shapes and with all kinds of carry-along yarn.
I began my bag smaller. Casting on 130 stitches was off-putting to me right from the start. I also didn’t do the rectangular bottom. I tried to use the Fibonacci method for my striping but I lost count somewhere along the way and what you see is what I got.
The experiment worked, though. We each got very different bags and it’s been the same ever since. Whatever pattern we use, Knit and Purl come up with very different results. Mine is on the left and Knit’s is on the right. It was a fun experiment and when we taught the method to our group not a single bag they produced was alike. They’re sort of like snow-flakes.
The moral of the story is: creative people are creative. A pattern is just a starting place.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Playing around

I'm a knitter, but I would be the first to admit that I play around on the side. Right now my dalliance is coiled baskets. Having been asked to demonstrate how to make these baskets at the Jericho Fiber Arts Guild's show, I thought I better study up a bit. I really had to dig in the closet that holds my stash to find the materials. I think I found them in the 2003 to 2004 layer. Without carbon dating , who can be sure? I'll be back to knitting soon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane . . .

I finally completed Grandson Two’s sweater with hood as requested by his mom. It seems he won’t wear a hat but will wear a baseball cap if there is a hood to put over it and hold it on. This was another sweater with a gauge problem. The boys are both between infant and toddler sizes and I have to figure everything out. I really like the way this sweater came out. The colors are my favorite, primary. If I were a few (ahem) years younger I would wear only primary colors. The chart for the Superman S came from a lovely site run by Vicki Meldrum. She has many charts for sale but has many for free. Superman was a freebie. I had to fudge it a bit because the sweater was too small for the original but when you have a good chart to start with, fudging is easy. I was able to add a pocket to the front of the sweater and I put the intarsia piece on that. This way, when he puts his hands in his pocket there are no tempting strands and strings to pull at. Because this intarsia piece was only two colors it was easier to do. Of course, I never could have done it without Knit One’s advice but she told me to use as many bobbles of colors as I needed so nothing had to be stranded too far. It worked. The back of the S looks much better than the back of the dinosaur. And if I ever complete the giraffe, I will give up intarsia forever. No, not really. But Fair Isle, which always scared me to death, is looking much friendlier now since it only uses two colors per row. I might try that next. Right now it’s flying faster than a speeding bullet to England and if I get a photo with a child wearing it, I will surely include it in a future post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Undersea Bag #5

Percula Clown with Anemone: I had a request from my daughter for this bag. It makes it a little harder to be brave and throw a bag into the washer for felting ,when you are making it for someone. If you are just playing, the results have more leeway to be different from that picture you have in your head. She was pleased and so am I. I really hope she enjoys it. Now for my next bag, perhaps a royal gramma, a firefish, a serpent star or a blue star, another clown with a carpet anemone, or one of those great salt water angels would be good. I guess I'll knit a few catnip mice and contemplate my next design.

To Rip or not to Rip

"To rip or not to rip:Whether 'tis nobler... "Ah nuts!!!! Here it is. I finished the scarf. I slipped it onto two double points and turned it. The stockinette side was lusciously soft and smooth. I bound off with glee, and then I saw them, two bad stitches. Both of them were on the last stitch in the row and just a single stitch. "No one will see them." I thought. " but I see them. If you run your hand down the scarf you can feel them." If you zoom in on the lower right of the picture you can see them. It's almost perfect, but this is not horseshoes. I got my crochet hook, ripped out the bind off, took a deep breath and dropped that stitch all the way down to the second bad stitch, wondering all the while if I would be sorry. I carefully used the crochet hook to knit the stitch back to the top. Hooray, it worked beautifully. So I'll change the bind off , and sew up the end so it looks more like the beginning end and be happy. This alpaca is so soft and warm. Now I have the boots, the gloves, the hat , and scarf and January is only half over. February, I'm ready!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Even the USPS knits

I meant to post this around Christmas but I also meant to send Christmas cards and I didn't. So when I was putting the cards away for next year, I found these stamps. They were one of the choices for special holiday stamps this year. Someone actually knit all of these lovely designs. I suppose if one went to the Post Office website one might get some info about it. But I think it's lovely that knitting is being represented in such a public way. I'm saving these four because I like them, especially the snowman, and because I'm so glad they were printed. I wish I could get the patterns.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Undersea Bag #4

Yes, I'm back underwater again. This time it's Seahorses with Red Tree Sponges. I loved seahorses when I had the shop. They were wonderful to watch, especially the males having the babies. I included the little fins on the side of their heads that they actually use to swim , and did one without a curled tail. They really only curl their tails tightly to hang onto something, and when they are dead. Sadly that's the all too soon fate of most seahorses in captivity. I would expect these seahorses to last for sometime.