Back to Blogging!

Well, long time no blog post. Just over two years in fact. I got a new job (still a research scientist) and have been very busy. I’m still super busy, but I miss blogging, so I am going to make. it. work. Fingers crossed!

Honey Bee and Goodwin Creek Lavender

Honey Bee and Goodwin Creek Lavender

I’d like to show you all the few things I’ve knit, but I gave most of them away and without photos. But I have a new macro lens for our camera, and I have been taking photos in our garden. We are in stages moving to a lawn-free garden since green lawns in California make little sense even when we don’t have a drought. With our garden we are trying to attract bees and hummingbirds, and they seem to like it!

I am not afraid of bees, so I just sit still with my camera, and snap away. We have several different species visiting our flowers as soon as the sun is up.

I am knitting too! I have about 70 zillion WIPs right now, but I am nearing the finish on one that is turning out quite well. I saw a sample of Aranami by olgajazzy at Yarns on First in Napa last summer, and I was smitten. The sample was knit in Cascade 220 fingering, and the store had all the shades from white to black to knit the shawl.

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Aranami in progress

I am almost done with the darkest grey, and then I have the black to knit. I like grey so much that for once I actually went with the color scheme on the pattern. This is a fun, easy modular project, but it is not for the knitter who hates weaving in ends.

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And I’ve been weaving in ends every row or so of triangles!

Well, I hear the call of the needles and string, so I am off to knit a few rows.

Happy Knitting!

 

April Socks in June

Here they are, only six weeks late:
Rib and Cable Socks
Pattern:Rib and Cables Socks by Nancy Bush (IK,Fall 2005)
Yarn:Seacoast Panda in Truffle (merino wool and bamboo)
Mods:Whole leg is shorter than the 9″ called for in the pattern. Crossed the cables every 6th instead of every 8th round–I liked this better. Did an Eye of Partridge rather than ribbed heel flap. I did do the Welsh heel turn (fun) and the Star Toe of 3 Points (pretty, but I hate the P3togs that pile up on each other at the end).

I got bogged down knitting these; I finished the first sock in early April and then didn’t want to knit the second straight away. This makes finishing “on time” difficult. For now I’ll work on piling up some more single socks, and then make the mates a little later. To that end, I have a single sock in some green Tofutsies:
Green Arrow Sock
I made the cuff shorter than usual as this yarn makes a nice warm weather sock. This time round I didn’t find it splittly like I did the first time. The stitch pattern is “Arrow” from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks.

Of all the other socks I had started in my last post, only one other made the cut, another green sock in the Ringwood stitch pattern from Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I’m just using the stitch pattern, as the sock is sized in the book for a man. I love the Happy Forest Smooshy yarn from Dream in Color.
Ringwood Forest Sock: WIP

Back to the beginning
The above have been ripped. The top left was Sockittome from CTH, and the yarn was not nice; it felt very acrylicky–even though it wasn’t. I didn’t like holding it. The top right was a design idea that turned out to look stupid, and the bottom will soon be back on the needles but in a pattern that I can do some calf shaping with.

Meanwhile, I’ve picked out patterns for these gorgeous semi-solids: BMFA STR lightweight in Rose Quartz and Sundara Sock Yarn in Ember over Flame.
pretty colors
You’ll just have to wait to see what the patterns are. I might jinx it if I tell you before I’ve even cast on.

Back again…

I didn’t mean to be gone so long again. Neither Archie, my laptop, nor I is having the easiest of summers. We decided to send him to Applecare right after the July 4th holiday weekend. On the second of July, M took me to after-hours care with a headache that nothing would make better. It turned out to be a “mixed” headache: both tension and migraine. 🙁 I got two shots, which made the headache go away for nearly two days, but less severe headaches keep coming back. That hasn’t made we want to do more than what I have to do for work on Archie, who seems to have fared better than I. He has a new logic board, thermal module and thermal sensor wires. He is now staying nice and cool. I wish I could get new parts like that!

Last post, I showed the finished toes of the Gentleman’s Fancy Sock from Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. At first, I thought the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck in Blues/Purples I was using looked better in the skein than in the sock, but it grew on me. I’m quite pleased how well these turned out.
Gentleman's Fancy Socks
To make these for me and not a gentleman, I started at 72 stitches and decreased to 64, which I further decreased to 60 when working the gussets. I also did a slip-stitch heel flap instead of stockinette; I also did a wide toe, but I don’t know if that was part of the pattern or not (which is upstairs, and I’m lazy).
Gentleman's Fancy Socks: heel flap
Half-way down the foot of the first sock, I realized I had changed the instep pattern to one knit row instead of two between the alternating sets of 2×2 rib. I couldn’t see a real difference, so I kept on going and did the second sock the same way. I also made sure I made these long enough before starting the toe: 1.5 inches from the total length not 2 inches, like many patterns suggest.

I liked this pattern stitch for an easy sock as it was more interesting than just 2×2 rib (doing 8 row sets of rib seemed to go faster than just measuring length), but I obviously didn’t need the pattern to keep going. I like having such a sock in progress: not too dull but not requiring a lot of mental power to stay on track. Once these were done, I didn’t feel like knitting the second Retro Rib Sock yet, so I looked for another such pattern. Luckily, Anne had just offered the Roger Sock for sale, and I knew it would look great in some BFL superwash sock yarn from Little Dog Designs. I really like the BFL yarn; it has a nice luster, and the dye job is great! The colorway is called Poseidon, and is richer than this photo suggests (it’s a billion degrees outside–I’m not going outside to photograph anything much less wool today–see lazy comment above–I am doing laundry in a 90+ degree garage).
Roger Sock: pattern detail
Well, that’s enough computer time for today, as tomorrow I’ll be referencing a manuscript, which will try Archie’s and my patience to the limit. But I need to point out that M has been diligently blogging at Cocktails with M this summer! He’s had no comments. The Side Car is one of my favorite cocktails. Cheers!

Lightweight Knitting

Well, I have not been keeping up with my plan to post 4 times a month, but there are extenuating circumstances.  I can’t reveal details at this time, but I can say two things.  First, there is a very good probability that several months before the end of this year I will be able to say that I have lived in 7 states in the U.S. not just 6.  Second, wishing M the best of luck in all his career endeavors would be a very nice comment to leave to this post.

As for knitting, my sore first knuckle of my right index finger is taking its own sweet time to heal completely. I’ve resprained it twice now, thinking it was all better when it was still feeling a bit piqued. Once was while knitting on the raspberry throw I started early in the year. It was just too heavy. So it is lightweight knitting for now. Luckily, it isn’t the process of knitting that causes pain just the weight of the knitting (and knitting too much through the backloop). I can knit the sleeves from my La Gran Cardi (if you want a visual refresher, it’s in the same post as the raspberry throw above), as mohair weighs practically nothing. I was certain I would have to make the sleeves shorter than the pattern specified, so I blocked the body pieces, seamed the shoulders and then tried it on. Making the sleeves exactly as the patter dictates will work just fine. My Tudor Grace scarf is done and blocked, but I haven’t been able to take a good picture of it on yet, so that will have to wait.

But I have been able to finish some socks. This is important, as my feet love handknit socks and hate purchased socks. Last winter I had to rely more on the latter than the former, and my feet decided to be drier, itchier, and colder. I finished the stockinette socks in CTH Champlain Sunset:
Champlain Sunset Socks left
I tried a cable pattern with this yarn first that were staggered rope cables with no purling between the ropes. It was too subtle for this busy colorway and not stretchy enough for socks. I tried something else too, but I can’t remember what, but the yarn finally convinced me it just wanted to be stockinette. In the end, I agree it was the best choice. Moving along, I also finished the Nodding Violet socks in STR medium weight.
Nodding Violet Socks right
I have these socks on as I write, and the medium weight STR will work in some of my shoes, but I think these will be best as I am wearing them now–with my fleece-lined slippers when my feet and ankles are like ice cubes. In addition to finishing these two pair, I have two single socks also completed: a Spring Monkey and a Gentleman’s Fancy Sock.
Spring Monkey Sock 1
Gentleman's Fancy Sock 1
I love everything about the Monkey sock: yarn, pattern, colors. I’ll definitely be knitting this pattern again. I have the second sock started. The Gentleman’s Fancy Sock, which I’ve slightly modified from Nancy Bush’s pattern in Vintage Socks, is more of a disappointment. The colors knit up aren’t as pretty as the yarn in the skein. The duller shades of grey-blue stick together and the more intense purple-blue is then left on its own. This remained consistent though the leg decreased from 72 to 64 stitches, and the foot has only 60 stitches. I’d like better mixing. Oh, well. I will knit the second sock, but not just yet. Since I feel a desperate need for blue socks, I started a Retro Rib Sock from Favorite Socks in Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Blue Ox. That is going much better.
Retro Rib Sock WIP
I also started a shawl in some stashed Sea Silk I had on hand, as I realized we are going to an evening wedding in June in the mountains by the ocean. But that will have to wait for another post. I should go clean out a closet of things that I don’t really want to take to a seventh state. M is at work; I can throw more things away when he isn’t around.

Soggy Weather

After a very dry January, which should be the wettest month of the year here in Northern-Central California, February has been very wet. I have several things to block, but with 60% humidity and low-to-mid-60 temps in the house, I’ve been hesitant to pin wet handknits to a towel on the floor (or run a fan). So I’ve got a stack waiting to be blocked:
Knits to block
On the bottom are the two fronts and back to the La Gran Mohair cardi, which I want to block and seam at the shoulders before I knit the sleeves, as I’m certain I’ll have to shorten them. The first time I knit this cardigan a couple years ago, the sleeve length was good for M, who is long limbed and 6’4″ tall; I have short arms and legs and am 5’6″. Next up, Tudor Grace is ready to block! Very excited by that. I finished the second stockinette sock in CTH Champlain Sunset, and they need a wash. On top is a swatch for the periwinkle Lamb’s Pride worsted you may remember I was trying to find a pattern for. I have a pattern! Unblocked the swatch is very close; I think blocking will do the trick. But I won’t say more until I know the swatch really is OK–don’t want to jinx it.

So during the two days that haven’t been rainy and sodden, M’s parents were here visiting and we went up into the Sierra Nevada Foothills to Placerville. Placerville was a gold rush town, and so it is chock full of historical buildings and things to do. It even has a yarn shop! I got to go to Lofty Lou’s. Here Nancy and I head into the little shop:
Nancy and me outside Lofty Lou's

M and Bob outside Lofty Lou's
M and his dad, Bob, weren’t that thrilled with the thought of crawling through a yarn shop (Crazy! I know.), but Lou had anticipated this. There were chairs outside on a little patio, and they had a good chat and did some people watching while Nancy and I shopped. There were a lot of novelty yarns and sock yarns, but I had a couple of scraps of sweater yarn I want to get coordinating yarn to knit scarves with. And I found a winner! Trabajos del Peru, a new merino yarn from Plymouth Yarns was scrumptious!
Trabajos del Peru
It’s aran weight (4 spi on size 9 needles), and two skeins had nearly 300 yds of yarn and cost less than $20. A real deal. It’s hand-dyed and single ply like Malabrigo. I wonder if the dyers from Uruguay (Manos del Uruguay), Paraguay (Malabrigo) and now this yarn from Peru feel a sense of competition. Do they look at each other’s color cards and make snide comments? Well, these colors are lovely, and the greens match my Wool of the Andes (Peruvian yarns rule!) in Fern.
Fern WoA and Trabajos del Peru
My current plan is a February Lady Sweater in the Fern and a chevron/feather and fan sort of motif for the scarf. But all that could change!
Well, before my headache really becomes a migraine, I should wish all of you a great weekend, and now I’ll get off the computer.

When only pretty will do

I felt the need for pretty this past week, so out of the bazillion WIPs I have, these two got the most attention.
Tudor Grace-long view
Tudor Grace pattern from Knitspot, which I’m knitting in the scrumptious Silk Sock from Yarn Lust in Currant. It’s 70% merino/30% silk, soft and strong, warm but not wooly, and it has a little sheen to it. Did I mention it’s soft? Babies weep that their bottoms aren’t this soft. And of course, the Tudor Grace pattern is a dream. It’s very easy, but still fun to knit. There are 3 “lace” rows to the 10-stitch, 6-row repeat, and one row has a double YO, one has a right twist and the other changes the order of the left and right slanting decreases. So, it mixes things up a little. Easy but not monotonous. And it is pretty!
Tudor Grace WIP
On a rainy day last week, I thought about starting the Flicker sock, but I had this wonderful pink and green sock yarn that look so cheerful and springlike that I couldn’t resist. I did stick with a Cookie A. pattern however.
Monkey leg
I finally got around to trying the Monkey sock. I know they are called a “lace” sock, and I haven’t been one to knit lace socks, although I’ve made an “official” decision to get over that in 2009 (hence the Flicker sock). However, the Monkey sock is lace? Really, people? That’s like saying YO increases along a raglan edge are lace. These socks have “decorative increases” paired with directional decreases. That’s my take on it. It is knitting up very pretty in this yarn I bought from a local dyer at our Farmer’s Market last October. Here it is stretched out on my sock blockers:
Monkey leg stretched
When talking with the dyer, she promised me there would be no pooling as she did very short color repeats. There is no pooling and her color repeats are short. The base yarn is identical to Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, which knits up very nicely.
Monkey sock yarn
The Monkey sock may become my “go to” pattern for highly variegated yarn if these socks fit me well. Because we like the pretty handknits when it’s rainy and grey outside.

Hibernation Basket

Hibernation Basket
The Hibernation Basket: where naughty and/or disappointing WIPs go to await judgement. Shall we be brave and look at what is inside?
FLS in Hibernation Basket
Part of a February Lady Sweater. Lovely pattern. Lovely yarn color. The garter yoke fits. The yarn is NOT NICE. Not nice at all. It deplies itself, and it BREAKS. I’ve never had a knit stitch just break in the middle as I inserted the right needle into the loop. But this yarn did it at no apparent flaw. I had to tink back all the way to the broken stitch, and then back past it to create an end long enough to work in (>200 stitches all told). Not fun. The yarn (discontinued Bryspun Kin ‘n’ Ewe) is also scratchy, and I don’t think Cascade 220 or Wool of the Andes are the least bit scratchy. As far as this sweater in this yarn is concerned, the Hibernation Basket may be more of a hospice basket.
Lizard foot sock
A sock that makes my foot look like a lizard foot. My original plan was to do the cuff in this very narrow, long basketweave stitch pattern (Stanfield 10), and then do a standard slip stitch heel and a stockinette foot. I thought it would look veggie-like and organic. Somewhere along the line, I kept the heel flap in the pattern stitch and even did the pattern stitch on the gussets (do not try this; it is a mistake; it makes one’s foot look very fat). Very nasty all round. Going to the frog pond. I thought this Eat Your Veggies from Claudia’s Hand Painted would be brighter knit up.
Kiri with Yarn
Kiri! How sad! I’ve become allergic to the Suri alpaca! Baby alpaca and suri alpaca make my hands itch and my eyes water. I can’t stand to touch it. I so love the color of this yarn, a bright, true Christmas red, and I really liked how Kiri was turning out. But I can’t have it around at all. In fact, if any reader would like Kiri and it’s yarn, email me or leave a comment. It’s Frog Tree 100% brushed suri. I had 1000 meters (5 skeins), and Kiri so far is about one skein (7-9 repeats done–I really don’t want to handle it and count), so there are 800 meters untouched.
Dainty Bess WIP
Dainty Bess in Malabrigo laceweight! How did this end up at the bottom of the Hibernation Basket?! I like this project (even if it’s a little dull to knit) and I love the yarn and color. Out of the Hibernation Basket! Into a WIP basket! I hesitated in confronting my hibernating projects, but I’m glad I did, as I had completely forgotten about this little gem. I guess I should scroll down my projects page on Rav more often.

Containment

Earlier this past week, while M and I ate dinner one night, I looked over at an “extension” of our bar and sighed.  The extension was an old TV cart made of contact paper covered particle board from my graduate school, single days.  Liquor bottles covered the top (which could swivel!), a black plastic tool box holding M’s mandoline (for slicing not music) occupied the “VCR shelf,” and the small cabinet below was full of containers of loose tea.  The cart was ugly, and both cart and all the bottles needed to be dusted before we hosted a dinner party on Saturday.  If only I had a cabinet that I could put all the bottles in.  Then I thought, I could buy a new cabinet.  The next three evenings found M and me at three different stores, and Friday we hit pay dirt.  We bought it, M assembled it, and I filled it.  Neatness abounds.
Bar Cabinet closed
It holds a lot of stuff (the Ficus tree next to it is about 7 ft high):
Bar Cabinet open
So now even the Original Bar is not so crowded (although there are still more liquor bottles in other containment elsewhere–we are well stocked):
Original Bar
Containment is a good thing! Even for knitting projects. The funny thing is that for my three “large” WIPs, I have a matching project bag. Containment and Coordination!
Large Project Bags
On top is an Amish basket given to me by my only aunt (the Amish person is her neighbor in northern Wisconsin); it’s sitting on my Grandma Frances’s old picnic basket. To the right is a cherry blossom bag I got for my birthday; it’s from Janine King Designs. I keep my pink mohair cardi project in there, as the cherry blossoms have the same pink in their detailing. In front, the Totally Autumn throw is kept in a bag with apples on it that one of the millions of my mother’s former English students made and sold. And my newest project, Career Check (Ravelry link), a basket weave jacket by Kathy Zimmerman matches my newest bag, a Christmas gift, handmade by my friend Nancy.
Career Check and Bag from Nancy
I feel very matchy-matchy. I only hope that if I start to knit a blue sweater, I’ll be able to refrain from purchasing a matching blue project bag or basket.

With all this coordination and containment going on, M and I hope that next weekend we will have time to sit down, have a cocktail and write a blog post. Until then, it’s sobriety and knitting around here.

Good News-Bad News

Bad News:  I turned 45 on Monday the 10th.  It’s hard to call that early 40s anymore.
Good News:  I had a birthday!  M took me out for a great dinner at a local Greek restaurant, and I got some great stuff too, like a pretty quartz and pyrite mineral from Transylvania to add to my mineral collection. It’s more sparkly in the sun.
Quartz with pyrite from Transylvania
Bad News: I have a pinched sciatic nerve in my left leg that is causing numbness and weakness.
Good News: I have very little actual pain with it, and the doctor thinks physical therapy is all that is needed, plus I can continue yoga.

Bad News: Good golly my hamstrings are sore!
Good News: I started yoga again after an eight year hiatus. I found a great teacher who is fun and smart, and I’m still scarily flexible.

Bad News: The Lucky 7 Hat I knit as a Christmas gift for my SIL will be too small for her.
Good News: The hat turned out well, and it fits Meghan, a grad student in lab who is petite. The hat was not knit in vain; it has a head!
Meghan wearing Lucky 7 Hat
Lucky 7 Hat
Bad News: I have to knit another hat. I hate knitting hats. I especially hate 16-inch circular needles.
Good News: I have 8″-long dpns. I can make up a simple hat pattern good for skiing (must have fold over brim). I knit a gauge swatch and found out the head measurement of my SIL. 96-st around will work fine.
Teresa's hat
Bad News: I didn’t have enough dark green yarn left over to make a second hat. The green matches SIL’s ski jacket.
Good News: I can buy yarn online! Above is Wool of the Andes in Ivy Kettle Hand-dyed. To get free shipping, I “had” to buy enough yarn to knit a sweater for me. Below is Wool of the Andes in Fern.
Wool of the Andes in Fern
Bad News: Some knitters complain that their Wool of the Andes is scratchy and the skeins full of knots.
Good News: Not scratchy to me. One knot in the first skein. Colors seem very good.

Bad News: I could go on and on with this Bad News-Good News thing.
Good News: I’m stopping now.

Sweater Blocking Conundrum: Grey Tweed Pullover, Episode 2

Last March I started knitting my dark grey Donegal tweed yarn into a simple pullover, and then the weather got pretty warm, so I put it away. Then during the hottest part of July, I ran into a decision-requiring situation with my attempt at the February Lady Sweater (don’t ask why I thought worsted weight wool-mohair was cooler than worsted weight tweed, I don’t know), so I put that sweater aside while I mulled. But I wanted to knit on a sweater. So, even though it was July, I took up the tweed again. Now I finally have all the pieces knit. But how to block to rolled edges?
Grey Tweed Pullover-body
The front and back are already joined at the shoulder seam with a 3-needle bind-off. I did that so I could figure out how long to make the sleeves. Anyway the bottom edge of the sleeves and body are rolled. So do I pin the rolls out while blocking? Or do I just pin down to the roll (the bottom-most garter ridge) and let it roll up as it drys? What to do? Suggestions welcome!

The neckband is supposed to be rolled too, but I don’t think that’s what I want to do. I think a few rounds of garter stitch will be better. My thinking is that with the purled ridge details above the rolled edges will keep a garter neckband from looking out of place. Any thoughts?

The sweater, which I want to wear primarily as outerwear, is going to be too big.  I measured my bust in March and it was 40.5 inches, so I thought a 44 inch outerwear sweater would be fine.  When I realized this summer that certain of my undergarments were unacceptably roomy, I measured again: 38 inches.  This sweater is going to be HUGE.  sigh.

I will have 3.5 skeins of yarn left over, so I can make some tweed accessories that will fit!