Monday, August 31, 2009

Blue Monkey Knitting

Monkey socks appeared on my needles. Right now, these are titled simply: Blue Monkey socks. Not a very unique or well thought name, but it will suffice for now. It turns out there is a Blue Monkey, aka Diademed Monkey. Look that up! According to sources, the blue monkey is not noticeably blue - just a bit around the face. Actually, this Ella Rae reminds me more of a Mandrill face.

Perhaps that is the name! Mandrill socks. I like it very much. Will cause a few to rush to Google and search but that is OK. Self education is a good and noble practice.

In reading comments on Ravelry and thoughts of friends, I am concerned about the pattern specified heel for these Monkey socks. The heal decision time has arrived and I am leaning toward the eye of the partridge stitch as suggested by sock goddess Brenda. Leave a comment if you have another thought. I do confess that I am quite hard on socks. So sturdy heel stitches mean a lot.

But I am also considering gifting these socks to daughter #2 who has extremely calloused dancer feet. Rough and tough skin is not kind to fabric - from the inside out! A heel for her needs extra strengthening for sure.

Since the final heel decision is causing me to pause, I shall worry about this on Scarlett time. Fiddle-dee-dee!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Knitter Present Time

My birthday is less than two months away, so surely it is OK to start celebrating. I bought myself a knit based gift. This way, because it is for the special day, it does not count against the monthly yarn & supplies budget.

Actually, supplies do not count against the yarn budget. As I think about it, supplies don't have a budget. Supplies come under the general 'household tools' line item. Plant stake or chop stick or knitting needle. Is there really a difference? Not in my book.

And while I am at it, yarn intended to one day be a gift does not reduce the yarn budget either. That comes under 'gifts given - eventually.'

See, any way you look at it, my new cable needles from Lantern Moon did not put even a tiny dint in the yarn budget.

Happy Early Birthday to Moi!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Knitting With My Muse

My Muse woke up and asked, "Why are you stuck in a follow the pattern mode?" Most often I feel that a pattern is just a suggestion. Maybe it is my southern thought process, perhaps just a contrary personality, or plain cussedness. Think what you will, but I am please to let you know that the follow the pattern phase seems to be over.

Witness this no pattern, no plan project. Right now, I don't even know if what I am working on is a back or a front. And it does not matter. This funkiness is based upon a rectangle. I will make another based on the same stitch count, make both the same length, sew up sides leaving arm holes and stitch in shoulders. Probably at that point I will declare one side to be the front and the other will, by default, become the back.

I know my height. I know my width. I have string and needles. I know that ribbing brings knitting 'in' and stockinette is vertically straight. Cables add texture & dimension. Colors are pretty. Moss stitch does not curl. I know all of this and more.

So, trusting me and my muse, I cast on stitches and started knitting. Took a guess on number of stitches and ribbed for a bit. So busy adding in color was I that I failed to notice that the stockinette was a tad too wide for my width. And here is the joy of following a muse rather than a pattern - - by tossing in ribbing in the middle of the stockinette the rectangle cinches in! It is waist shaping with out decreasing.

Go ahead an ponder why I did not just decrease. Take a moment. The reason is simply because this is a rectangle in stitch count; it is not an hourglass.

Having made this much progress with no plan is quite freeing. I have no idea where this path will take me. I am enjoying the knitting by the seat of my seat. Creativity is flowing. The brain is in a groove. My Muse is happy.

PS - The pen in the background of this photo has nothing to do with knitting. Nothing is being written down. Don't ask.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fun & Useful Market Bag

On Thursday last, a friend showed me a cute little collapsible market bag. It folds in on itself to be contained in a buttoned pouch. A quick check on Ravelry confirmed that several versions are available. Unfortunately, friend though she be, the pattern used seems to have gone missing.

Thus it was that I sat Friday morning counting the crochet stitches of another and writing down a pattern for the circle motif of which the pouch is made. Handy skill this being able to "read yarn."

The rest of the bag is just chain stitch connected with a sc, so no pattern is needed there. I like this project enough that I can see whipping out several as Green Christmas Gifts. It would be quite easy to up-size this version as it is on the petite side. However, it is just right for herbs, salad makings, lunch or even a water bottle.

At any rate, I began the first motif whilst copying my friend's completed project. Needless to say, if you know the pattern name please leave a comment! I want to compare my attempt with the real thing and give credit for a quick, fun and useful bag.

And talk about quick. Both motifs that make the top and bottom of the pouch were done in about ninety minutes - and that includes a bumpy car ride. The chain mesh can be stopped at the point that makes you happy and still will tuck into the pouch portion. So that part is rather mindless hooking.

Not having the pattern to follow and having forgotten to take notes on the top edge gave me a bit of a worry. But a deep breath, a zen moment recalling almost 50 years of experience with string and the solution was clear. My top edge (and remember that the pattern might be different) is finished with single crochet all around. The handles are hdc worked over seven stitches.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

FLS #2 - I Am Still A Lady

The replacement February Lady Sweater is done. Off the needles. Not blocked. But that is just a minor point in the grand scheme of life.

This #2, like the sold version, is cropped. I really like this pattern stopped a tad short. Maybe it is because I too, am short. The sleeves end just at my elbow. At this length the not so toned triceps are completely covered and nothing extends down the forearm such as to prevent the wearing of a fancy bracelet. One must consider all of this when personalizing a pattern.

For my arm length, and remember that my driver's license states that I am 5'2", I only need to work ten repeats of the lace pattern before the garter edging on the sleeve. Having now completed two February Lady Sweaters this summer, I know that this shorter sleeve can be completed in one day.

My attempt to get a better photo of the buttons has failed. Me thinks these beauties are just too reflective for a decent iphone picture.

Right now I am considering committing a knitting sacrilege. I just might wear this sweater to an event this very evening - - without blocking! Hope I don't get hauled before the knitting police.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Sleeve, One Store, One Program

One sleeve is done on the new FLS. It was an accidental finish that I thought would not take place until Friday. On Sunday, I readied the dpns, transferred live stitches and picked up under the sleeve. I did work a whole whopping four rows just to be sure the count was correct, but then headed out to lunch on the plaza and an afternoon of Spamalot.

Monday morning, I stuffed the FLS into a bag and scooted off to join up with a new friend and re-arrange half of a retail store. With three mugs of coffee in my system and a delayed display partner, I sat and knitted a bit. Apparently it was more than a bit because I finished the sleeve very quickly. Perhaps it is only my warped sense of humor, but the sweater now sits with only one sleeve and a length of waste yarn dangling on the other side in an homage to Spamalot! I know. Sick. But rather appropriate for this week.

One store is now dusted and the stock moved around. Dusted! I don't dust at home. But what are friends for if not to pitch in, take over and do. So, I dusted. It is shocking what two and a half (we had part time help from a store employee who thought it also important to assist customers) women can accomplish in less than five hours.

On such a roll were we, that when the store owner arrived mid mess, both of us turned around and, like a duo of dusting divas, shouted, "go away!" Can't have the owner getting in the way of marketing displays and psychological product placement. Nope, just can't let that happen. What we set out to tackle got tackled. We did allow the owner to return as she had a class to teach. I just love seeing a young mother giddy to provide her teen with crochet lessons.

One program is in the works. I am in communication with Colleen Davis to teach a workshop for the Guild. President permission to pursue has been granted. So I'm a happy Vice President.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who's Got The Buttons

Yesterday, I bought buttons. The new FLS is going to be done in no time at all, just so I can sew these beauties on!

I know they don't show up so well here, but let me tell you that these buttons really 'pop' on the Artfibers Ming.

That's all, just sharing the buttons. Back to knitting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mini Shawl #2

Some patterns are worth repeating. Maybe it is the ease of the making, the perfection for gifting, the known factor, or a perfect fit. Could be other reasons, but some patterns are just ripe for a do over of the perfect kind. EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket comes to mind. Always keep a spare in your stash! A trusty "plain" sock pattern can come to life over and over and never be the same when size and color way come into play.

I have made two sweaters from the famous Rusted Root pattern over here. This one is in the it fits me league and I am even contemplating a third sweater with a different lace insert.

Weaver's Wool Mini Shawl is fast become a favorite. My second is off the needles and ready for a cool morning. Given that the pattern is free, you should give it a try. Easy find on Ravelry or your favorite search.

Quick, easy, effective and less than 400 yards needed. This one is two strands together. Louise Harding Kashmir DK and Berocco Sox Metallic. I did have to size up the needle to get the fabric to have more drape, so it can work in a worsted weight in addition to the pattern preferred DK.

Of course, if I don't use it for me, I could be one up on the holiday gifts and it is only August. I'll have to think about it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lady Sweater Has A Home

I loved my FLS for an evening and a morning. Upon completion I admired it. Asked my Dave what color to wear with it. Thought of the impact it would make on non-knitterly friends. I loved it. With passion. Love. Perhaps I dreamed of the lady. This morning I awoke determined to show you the blessed creation and confess my love. And I did. I posted for all to read.

My thoughts then turned to actually wearing the sweater. No other thought but the wearing. And so, with carefully chosen trousers and coordinating wine shaded tank, I put on the lady sweater. For wearing. Not just snapping a blog worthy photo. Oh No! Actual wearing. Gloating. Loving. Dare I compare the sweater to Annabel Lee? "loved with a love that was more than love. I and my FLS."

For a whole ninety minutes it was on me. On me beautifully if you want my occasionally humble opinion. All I did was wear it on a mission of gloating. To a store. Where customers exist. Customers wanting something specific. So specific as to be appropriate for wearing on a cruise where soft ocean breezes might chill the shoulders whilst sitting upon a veranda. Something worthy of celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary.

"With a love that the wandering traveler coveted my FLS"

Cut to the chase.....offer made, dollars discussed, sale completed in under five minutes.

Came home and cast on for another February Lady Sweater. Such is life.

I Am A Lady Sweater

A little late for the bandwagon, but I have finished my first February Lady Sweater. You'll find the free pattern on Ravelry and via flintknits as well. My original plan was to make the sweater a length similar to the photo on the pattern. As I showed the work in progress to a friend, she commented that the waist length looked so good on me.

My goodness! All I wanted was a bit of encouragement to get on with it. There I sat, thinking that I had probably 4 more repeats of the lace and the 1.5 inches of garter left to work. Well, that little thought went totally out of my brain only to be replaced with a new thought. If I stopped at that point and did the garter border - the body would be finished and hit at about my waist. (And here I am meaning an old lady waist. Not a flitty young waist. )

So that is exactly what I did. I took the observation of another and turned it into advice worth heeding. I am loving the result.

Having shortened the body, the sleeve length seemed obvious and well balanced just above the elbow.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Decorative Three Needle Bind Off

Riverside Knitting Guild had a wonderful meeting today. Being a first Saturday, we did have that business stuff to get out of the way. But then one of our members gave a mini lesson on a more decorative three needle bind off that is meant to be seen on the public side.

Imagine a standard three needle bind off with stitches on two needles and a spare ready to work the magic. Live stitches (or picked up stitches if that is what you are doing) are held wrong side together. Of course there must be the same number of stitches on both needles - that part is standard for a three needle bind off. Then comes the difference. With this version, the goal is to have the seam actually show on the right side.

Let's pretend that you want to join two pieces worked in stockinette. Remember to hold the two pieces in the left hand with wrong sides touching. On the left front needle, which presents to you as knit stitches, k2tog. Then on the back needle, which presents as purl, simply p2tog. (yes, the yarn must be positioned correctly) There are now two stitches on the right needle. Pass the first worked stitch (the one from the k2tog) over the just worked stitch (which is the stitch resulting from the p2tog).

There will now be only one stitch on the right needle. So, it is time to return to the left front needle and k2tog. The result will be two stitches on the right needle once again. Pass the old over the new! And what do you know? All is ready to p2tog from the back needle.

Keep up the k2tog 0r p2tog appropriately, each time passing the the old stitch over the new one on the right needle. A lovely raised seam that looks much better than this fuzzy, but excitedly photographed, first effort will appear.

Already I am imagining seaming a patchwork blanket this way. Or the front and back of a pillow and doing the decorative three needle bind off in a contrasting yarn. Oh, the possibilities! Yep, this decorative seam is a keeper.