Wednesday, February 28, 2007

25 things about my knitting life

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? My favorites are soft yarns and natural fibers. I have trouble with mohair and scratchy wools like Shetland and Lopi. I like cotton and wool blends for socks, merino wool, silk, angora, cashmere, baby alpaca.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have a nice ceramic vase on my desk for the long 14" straights that I don't use very much. I didn't buy any of these long needles, except for one pair of Brittany's in black walnut with carved ends. I inherited some from my mom and others somehow arrived at my door.
I use toothbrush holders for my double points, which I store in a plastic school supplies box. I have a fabric roll for my 10" straights and a pouch with plastic bags for my circs, which have size labels on the cables. I have all of my 16" circs in a zippered pencil case to go in a 3 ring binder. I store my crochet hooks in a wooden pencil case that slides open, which was my mom's when she started school in 1930. I've been using this case since I learned to crochet in 1971 and inherited my great grandmother's steel crochet hooks.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? I've been knitting for about 8 years this go round. I learned the first time (if you don't count the time my mom tried to teach me when I was 8) in college when I knit a top down sweater on circs for my mom from Bernat Berella. I stopped knitting for about ten years, and started again when Kaffe Fasset's first book came out. I paused for quiltmaking after a few years until 1999 when a quilting friend dragged me to Stitches West. This time it seems to have stuck, and I now have a SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy) just of sock yarn, not to mention the other stuff.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Not really, just a save for later cart at Knit picks and Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? I'm allergic to most perfume, and I can't smell because of the allergies. I wish I could smell chocolate!

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Chocolate, chocolate chocolate. Home made cookies.Favorite candy? See's almond truffles

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Mostly knitting and quilting. I can crochet, used to do cross stitch and macrame.

8. What kind of music do you like? Eclectic, a wide range. Jimmy Buffett, the Beatles, Carly Simon, George Winston, Celtic harp, Dixie Chicks, vintage rock, Elvis, Broadway shows, Billie Holiday, Joan Baez

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Blues, teals, some purples, rose Any colors you just can't stand? Orange, beige, tan, puce, blah.

10. What is your family situation? Married 1 kid who's grown up but still at home Do you have any pets? a dwarf bunny named Handsome Benjamin

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? hats, scarves, mitts, sometimes ponchos

12. What are your favorite item/s to knit? Hard to say. Socks, felted bags and slippers seem to be most popular, with hats, scarves and now fingerless mitts bringing up the rear.

13. What are you knitting right now? socks, felted bags, stranded vest

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Doesn't everybody?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? I usually knit on circulars or dpns. I don't like long straights at all. Bamboo, aluminum, or plastic? wonderful Wood, steel Addi's, good bamboo, vintage nylon circs, vintage Balenes.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? The swift is broken (too much use?) but I have two ball winders

17. How old is your oldest UFO? 1973, a turqouise cotton crocheted pineapple tablecloth which I may make into a shawl.

18. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

19. Is there anything that you collect? yarn, fabric, books, stamps

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to
get your hands on? Of course. Sea silk and wool sock yarn is the latest obsession. Ebony and rosewood double points & circulars, ebony anything! I want the Koigu book and more Koigu yarn to go with it.

21. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? Knitter's, Creative Knitting, INKnitters, Interweave Knits, Knit Simple

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I just learned entrelac, and need more practice with cables. Intarsia is intriguing, too. I love Kaffe Fassett's work.

23. Are you a sock knitter? Yes
What are your foot measurements? 9.75" length 10" around ball 11" ankle

24. When is your birthday? May 3

25. What is your preferred sock knitting method? I like to use one 12" long ADDI turbo for the body of the sock, and I use douible points to knit the heel and the toe decreases. I also use the three needle bind off to finish the toe.

Stitches West/ I succumbed

I had 4 days of classes at Stitches West, met someone for lunch on Saturday (no shopping that day until after class at 5:00), and yet I still managed to buy yarn. It was a good thing I brought a bag lunch on Friday because I spent my whole lunch break (2 hours) at the Woolstock booth looking for another bag of some Louisa Harding Aran weight cashmere blend. Everything at the Woolstock booth was 1/2 off but you had to buy the whole bag. I also got some Noro Kochoran for $10.00 a skein there.

Sock yarn purchases:
Sock Candy from STR (stretchy cotton, hand dyed) plus the Fairisling on Blue Moon book.
Shelridge Farms Ultra in heathered purple (never mind that I already got some in another color two Stitches ago and haven't knit it up yet). I am almost finished working on another pair in rust heather and it is wonderful.
Fleece Artist in parrot, which has blues, greens and roses, plus lilac
Sol Joy in a dark blue/multicolor
STR light in Hen House (rainbow)
I also tried to buy two skeins of STR that I already owned but haven't knit yet. Luckily they could tell me at the check out table that I did own it, so I saved some money there.

I resisted buying anything at Webs and was glad I had ordered some sock yarn from Astrid in Holland the week before so I wasn't tempted by the bamboo blends. I almost bought more Hand Jive Nature's Palette in a pinky grey burgundy odd duck dye lot but there was only one skein. Next time. That was at Carolina Homespun and they are a somewhat LYS. That's not all the yarn I purchased: more next time.

I also got Lily Chin to sign my
French Madeline book. She was dressed as Madeline at the student banquet Saturday. She thought that was a hoot and said I made her day on Sunday afternoon, after a long four days. She even signed en francais.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Sock Projects

I started a new sock last night after finishing my Socks that Rock Pink Granite Marble Arches design. I got some Tofutsies yarn and the Swirly Girl pattern by the Knitiot. I am not using the the Tofutsies yarn, though. I had some Nature's Palette naturally dyed yarn from Full Thread Ahead in my stash, screaming to be knitted up. It is a pale sea green with dots of dark navy and bronze. The texture of the yarn is a lot like the Fleece Artist or Cherry Tree Hill super sock yarn. It feels so wonderful and is easy to knit with. The only problem (and it's minor) is that the yarn leaves my fingers blue from the indigo residue.

The pattern is so easy to knit, looks great and is perfect with the yarn. What more can I ask? The Tofutsies yarn will be next on my list. It is WONDERFUL too! I need a different pattern for the yarn colors I have, though. I have been browsing my sock pattern notebook for the perfect stitch pattern. The colorways I got are too dark to show off the Swirly Girl design. I'm getting ready to go to Stitches West on Thursday. I have a little bit of homework to do for Lily Chin 's class on reversible cables. No homework for my other classes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday Seven Part III

1. Dave Mackay's wonderful page of heels for knitting socks. I just recently came across Dave's blog and was happy to see he's still knitting and feisty.
2. The Knit List
3. The Socknitters group website full of great patterns and ideas.
4. Netflix
5. Rosamunde Pilcher's books
6. Folk Socks
7. Chocolate Muffins

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Provisional Cast Ons

I made a pair of the Fetching gloves from Knitty. If you have never tried cables, this is a good place to start. Cables are not hard, especially this simple one. They are just mysterious. It is basically ribbing, and in one row out of 5 (or 8, or 5) you do a little dance with an extra needle. A double point needle will do, or a toothpick. I used the Paton's SWS yarn, soy silk and wool.

I had to use waste yarn in another pair of gloves this week. I tried a suggestion from the big knit list. This only works if you use the long tail cast on. The waste yarn should be smooth (cotton is good), light colored (or contrast colored) and about the same size as your project yarn. Take the waste yarn and the project yarn, tie them together in a slip knot. Use the waste yarn around your thumb so it is the bottom part of the cast on, not the part that makes the stitch on the needle. Untie the slip knot at the end (don't count it as one stitch) and let the waste yarn hang free. Cut the other end of the waste yarn about 3-4" long. Knit your project, then, when you need to undo the waste yarn cast on, pull the loose end out from each stitch one at a time, slowly. Slip your needle into each loop of project yarn as you pull it free. It will not unzip like a crochet cast on, but it is much easier to start. I actually put my needle into all the stitches, then pulled out the waste yarn stitch by stitch.

I think I will try it on my next pair of socks, so I can knit top down from the ankle, then knit toe up until I run out of yarn. No leftover yarn!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Socks that Rock Rockin Sock Club

What a great present for V-Day. I got an email from Socks that Rock letting me know about the new blog they have set up. I was a charter member of the club last year but only knit one pair of socks. This year I hope to do better, and post pictures here. I was inspired to go home and rip out a sock I started from one of last year's kits and start over. I made a mistake at the beginning and it flared too much. Marble Arches is the name of the pattern. I was past the heel but it was bothering me so I bit the bullet and ripped it out. It's the pink granite colorway, very appropriate for Valentine's Day. It looks like they might have renamed this color Little Bunny Foo Foo. My DD loved that song when she was little. UPDATE: I finished one sock of the pair and it looks much nicer. I used a new heel for me: the Band Heel. Nancy Bush included it in Folk Socks. It works well for striping yarns instead of a short row heel. (My nemesis.)

EDITED: The band heel which eliminates the long stripes can be found at this great site. I still use the EOP slip stitch, which means I have to add a few rows to the heel flap before decreasing. Then I have a few decrease rounds after picking up the gusset stitches. Thanks to Nan for this great pattern and tutorial, and to Nancy Bush for the band heel.

I finished the two entrelac bags and felted them. They are almost dry, time to sew on the handles. I have a pair of woven handles for one bag and a pair of black plastic handles for the other bag.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Seven Redux

1. I am thankful that my mom is having hip replacement surgery Tuesday so hopefully she will be able to walk without pain. (Update: she had the surgery and it went well.)
2. I am grateful that Marguerite is a knitter who shares.
3. I am thankful the GUI interface was invented.
4. I am grateful that I have a top loading washing machine and was able to felt some bags this weekend.
5. I am happy that this fabulous sock yarn exists.
6. I am thankful I learned to cook as a vegetarian many years ago.
7. I am happy that I found a new pattern to use up little bits of sock yarn. They are the sideways knit gloves, from Not Just More Socks by Sandy Rosner. They use a provisional cast on, so I used a new idea I read about on the Knit List.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Felted Tote Bag

Inspired by the Lunch Bag in Knit One, Felt Two, I am writing up a pattern for the tote bag made from bulky weight yarn using a brickwork slip stitch design. A friend gifted me with three skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in complementary colors. I didn't have enough of any one color, so I used all three and stopped knitting when I ran out of yarn. I finished the top of the tote with an I-cord bindoff and sewed on rope handles. Check back here soon for the pattern and picture.

Fulling / Felting Instructions:

Set washing machine to small load size – determine size based on number of items to be fulled. If there are several pieces, you may need to increase your load size. Set temperature to HOT. Fill the machine and set it for the longest wash cycle available. Use a little detergent if desired.
Place the knitted tote in a pillow case and close with safety pins if your washer does not have a lint filter. Also, front loading washing machines may require more time and a larger wash level to ensure complete fulling.

Toss a pair or two of jeans into the washer along with the pillow case containing the knitted tote. Please do not use towels! Towels give off quite a bit of lint which will stick in the fulled piece and will require tweezers to remove from the fulled surface of the tote (not fun!).

Close the lid and let the washer agitate the piece. After a few minutes, check on the tote’s fulling progress. Pull it out and see if it’s shrunk as much as desired. If the piece has not shrunk as much as desired, stop the washer before it enters the rinse cycle and begin it on another wash cycle.

Once the piece is the desired size, remove it from the washer and place in a bucket. Stop the machine and let the water cool down. Put items back in the machine and run through the rinse cycle to remove any detergent. Allow the washer to spin to remove the excess water, or remove
the tote from the washer and roll it in a towel to remove the excess moisture. It may prevent folds and torqing if you avoid the spin cycle of the washer. The tote will not dry as fast if you do this, since this process does not remove as much water.

Note that if the piece is fulled excessively, the fabric will lose its desirable, flexible texture. Excessive fulling will result in a very stiff, board-like fabric.

Shape the piece and set it aside to dry completely. Trim any ends that may have worked their way out during the fulling process. The tote may be “shaved” if it’s too hairy for your tastes. Just be sure to toss the “whiskers” in the trash rather than running it down the drain.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunday Seven

I like this idea. Here are the seven things, with links, that I am thankful for this week:

1. Hand Knitted Socks
2. The fact that I don't seem to be allergic to superwash wool, baby alpaca or cashmere.
3. Stitches West takes place near my house so I can afford to go, and it's during President's Week, so I can take the time off.
4. The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I read it again every so often. The weather here is getting more springlike and things are popping out all over.
5. Koolaid is good for something.
6. The fact that my husband doesn't like football.
7. Counterprogramming on TV against the Super Bowl (see item #6 above). I got to see the National Ice Skating Championships which I missed in January.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Stitches From the Heart

I had to fly with my daughter down to LA Tuesday night and came back Wednesday night. We had the afternoon free, and a Toyota Rav4 rental car, so we drove out to Santa Monica through Culver City and Beverly Hills. We were going to drive up the coast to Malibu but DD was hungry. After visiting the great farmer's market and eating lunch at a creperie (where we tried to order in French but the waitress did not speak French), the waitress gave us a phone book to look up yarn store addresses. She said she knew where the yarn stores were in "the Valley" (San Fernando) but not in Santa Monica, because her mom was into yarn. !!!!! I wasn't able to find one of the stores, and didn't want to venture into Venice for the other one, but we did get to this store.

If I had to go to a yarn store and break my stash reduction resolution, this is the one I should have gone to. I already knew about this organization, and carry the tape measure they gave me at Stitches West in my accessory bag. I managed to spend a little over $100, but I got a great deal on some soy silk and wool yarn (Karaoke) that my DD liked. She slept in the car while I was in the store. I also got some variegated blue/purple/grey Kroy sock yarn and a royal blue with silver metallic Berroco ribbon yarn (one skein to add to something else). The salesperson also gave me two sets of bamboo needles in larger sizes that will go to the middle school knitting class. I plan to knit a hat or two to donate to the Stitches from the Heart effort. There is an article in the March 2007 issue of Creative Knitting about this non-profit store and charity knitting organization, along with a pattern for a preemie hat.

If we had gone back on an earlier flight, that would have cost $100 extra, so the yarn purchase can be justified, especially since all of the profits at this store go to charity. The bag of yarn had to be stuffed into the overhead bins on the airplane, since it wouldn't fit into the suitcase. Remember, this was just an overnight trip. I managed to knit a few rows on my sock project on the return flight, where I sat in the middle seat between two ordinary sized people. On the flight down I was squashed in the middle between two football players who kept their arms folded resolutely.