Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ahead Of The Game

For right now - this little while - I am ahead of the game.  ESSS has a new KAL started.  And I want it on the record that I am ahead.  December 26, 2012.  Ahead of the game. 

You might be wondering why I insist on telling you over and over and over that I'm ahead of the game.  Let's just admit that I looked at the calendar for the rest of the year and then I turned the electronic page to 2013 and it looks gloomy for getting this one done on time.  Lewis Carroll stated it best:  the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Sneaking up on the half way mark and there is plenty of yarn left for completing this Coquille.  It is a wonderful pattern that is well thought out and easy to accomplish without constant reading of the next row.

Suitable for knitting in public where conversation and snacks might distract, this sideways shawl is really fun.  Especially due to the hint that the wraps (from the short row W&Ts) do not need to be picked up.  So, if you are looking for a new project, dive into your stash and get started.

If you hurry, you will have plenty of time to finish before this old Cajun gets done with hers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Do For Others

Another cap for donation is completed.  After 6-7 manly man caps, I'm back to something a bit more feminine.  There was still plenty of dark green from the sleep caps for men.  Mix and match and simple stripes and this is the result.

 Even without the flower I plan to make, this one is quite cute.  It is made slightly large on purpose.  Not everyone has a smallish head and I need to remember that.

The recently completed broken rib scarf matches.  This was not intended.  It is just a matter of using up stash that is filled with shades and tints that make me happy.

Because there was such a small amount of the bamboo/soy, the scarf is on the short side.  It is perfect for tucking into a neckline or as a simple accent during the heat of summer.

This is knitwear.  Practical, simple, non-couture, use it every day type stuff.  It could be crochet and it would still be useful.

Maybe that is why loving hands creations are so cherished. I can use my sticks, hooks and string to get through daily life.

And I can use my sticks, hooks and string to help others handle daily life.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah.  Joyous Kwanzaa.  Remember to give more than you receive.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Warm And Wooly


A very unprofessional picture of the EZ Blanket.  Using the stash yarn (so discontinued that I will not even reference the wool) and smaller needle, this one came out to about 60" x 30" ish.  Given that I am on the shorter side of life, it is a perfect for cuddling up with a book or movie. 

The stash still holds this much yarn.  Yes, it was a rather large stash of fluffy single ply yarn.  There is so much left that I am thinking of adding a border at some point.  First, I should block out the whole thing and see if it really wants to be bigger.

Because the garter stitchery changes directions, the play of shadow across the swath is rather interesting.  The yarn has subtle shades as well.  So light catches and shadows recede in a happy dance.

This one does not take much time at all.  Big bulky - or super bulky - yarn and a huge needle make quick work. 

I'm very happy.  So I leave you with not only a TaDa, but a Voila as well.

Peace & joy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

EZ Sewing

Nothing is blocked, but it is clear that all four pieces of the EZ blanket will go together well.

This bit of geometry thrills me.  It makes me happy.  You must click on the photo to see how it all interconnects.

All of the seams - each of which will change direction - might be daunting.  Could be daunting.  Will not be daunting due to the slipped stitch edges.  Big huge spots for a needle to slide through will make quick work of this one.

Stay tuned for the joy of doneness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Obverse or Reverse, That Is the Question

Use your favorite search engine or actual printed material and you will discover more than one way to knit anything.  Take the Broken Rib for example.  There is this version here and also this one over there

I chose this way.  'Twill be a scarf of just twenty seven stitches across.  An accent really.  This bamboo/soy won't keep anyone warm in a Wisconsin winter.

By alternating the right and wrong sides of the Broken rib across the width and also along the length, a lovely bit of textural knitting happens.  I'm thinking it would be quite manly if done in a manly color way such as grey or brown.

What I like is that the result is totally reversible.  That matters in a scarf that will twist and wrap and bunch and generally not behave well.

See here.  That blue arrow (click to enlarge photo) points to a spot where the scarf is folded to show that both sides look fine and are similar. 

Which side is the obverse?  Which is the reverse?
Don't fret over the quandary because they are both perfect!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Slow But Steady

Work on the cardigan, all twelve colors in predetermined order, is moving along.  The work is slow, but steady.  Other things keep interfering.  Like the four caps for these nice folks.  And attending and hosting parties for friends and work associates which required baking. 

The cookie baking this year was going quite well until time reared its head and said, "enough already!"  Call it poor time management if you will.  I am calling it a stroke of genius.  It is possible that I ran out of time to decorate one batch of cookies.  Already the shortbread had been dipped in chocolate.  The peanut butter crosshatched for easy identification.  The sausage lollipops were made and arranged.  That's right, sausage lollipops.  Something needed to bridge the table between the meat/cheese/crackers and the desserts.  Meat on a stick fit the need.  (And I didn't even dip it in chocolate)

But I digress.  No time to decorate the cookies and the genius thought was - - - DIY cookie decorating.  I grabbed the red with a writing tip and wrote DIY on one cookie  and dashed off a nice green leaf underneath the letters.  Brilliant!  A platter of unadorned sugar cookies and tubes of color and guests did their own thing.  It was a bit shocking to see one guest eat the cookie plain.  Unadorned.  Did not even try.  I suppose that it takes all kinds to make the world go round. 

Oh, and I did get the fronts knit to match the backs.

If only life would stop interrupting the yarn work. . .

PS  I started a clutch out of Koigu because Merilyn is an enabler and has such wonderful stuff all bagged up in a cute little kit that included hardware and pattern and lining and yarn! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

It Is Genetic

Daughter, she who crochets, winding up the  last skeins in  her stash of fair-trade organic cotton. 

Guess what is on her list for Santa? 

Ain't life grand?!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Progress Is A Good Thing

There was much progress on several projects during this long weekend.

I finished another shopping bag.  This one is rather large so it will hold lots of veggies without squashing anything (pun intended).  This is a crochet project that was in the UFO pile because I don't like adding handles.  What I don't like is sewing handles onto a bag.

I'd already finished the top edging wanted a quick and easy way out.  Enter the slip stitch tie.  Why haven't I though of this solution before?

All I did was attach the new color, chain a length and slip stitch back.  Then I worked sc across the edge of the handle and worked another chain and slip stitch to complete the tie.  Love it.

There was a great amount of progress on the EZ blanket.  Actually more progress than shows up in this photo. The blanket is at that stage where I'm sick of garter stitch broken up by a few short rows.  The tediousness of it leaves ample time to consider adding an edging.  And ample time to become bored.

So, either the blanket will be finished before the next big celebration or it will make new friends in  UFO land.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hole in One!

I got a hole in one!

Is the hole in this front band?

Or is this a button band?

Is the hole in this front band?

Or is this a button band?

I did so enjoy the pick up and knit on a front band class taught by Joyce Wyatt.  Mostly I enjoy her stories and "just go for it" attitude.  This was not the first time I learned from Joyce; it will not be the last time.  There is always some little trick - like picking up with the "tail" on the right side, that just sticks in my brain.

You might recall that this was a short class for ESSS members as the annual year end treat from member Joyce.   We chatted about several issues.  Such as making sure that a purl is the center stitch in the band.  And why the joining knit stitch looks puffy.  And how to fudge the one row difference that can occur at the neck of some garments.

For me, the center purl stitch (as seen from the public side) is the most important thing about which we chatted.  For it is in that receding purl of the ribbing that one can hide the button hole!

Three rows of easy peasy trickery and Voila!

The moral of the story is this:  next time you have an opportunity to take a class in button bands, you might get a hole in one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

EZ Blanket

A very EZ blanket is flying off the needles.  EZ blanket as in Elizabeth Zimmerman's knitted garter stitch blanket from her Fall 1962 newsletter #9.  I've said it before and will keep saying it - get thee a copy of The Opinionated Knitter

The geometry of this blanket is very simple.  Garter stitch with short rows to turn the corners and Voila!  A blanket.  Well, it is a blanket after one knits several shapes and stitches them together.  But that is a blog post for another day.

The stash yielded this discontinued Manos del Uruguay 700 tex which is a hand spun wool.  Although not as bulky as EZ's original in Sheepsdown, this is working up quite well on a size 13 needle. 

All that I'm hoping for is a television watching cuddly blanket.  I don't need a cover the whole bed and live through a deep freeze type of blanket.  However, all of the lovely slipped stitches along the edges have me thinking of adding on a border of some type.

Perhaps knitting it on sideways in a "big chunky holes" style would be nice.  Or perhaps a crochet style will jump up and say "pick me!"  But for right now, simple garter with a change of direction is a nice relaxation from the little bitty gauge of the Fall jacket.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The opportunity to take a class from a skilled artisan is reason enough to rejoice.  But when the class is on knitting button bands, my heart goes all a twitter.  I just might "get it" this time.  Don't misunderstand.  I've knit button holes, added button bands and even advised a few along the way.

Unfortunately it has always been a struggle.  As in get out the reference book and put it along side of the pattern.  Tune into a clear video online and take it one stitch at a time.  Then rip back three stitches and try again.  Eventually I reach the "acceptable" look. 

This time I am determined to figure out those button bands and have it click in my little head.  I've taken class from Joyce Wyatt before and I enjoy her skill set and her attitude.  First, Joyce speaks both crochet and knit.  So we speak the same languages.  She is an artisan after my own heart because she believes that there are occasions - more often than we might want to admit - when it is necessary to fudge and smudge rather that rip and redo.    Gotta love that!

Here is my homework for the lesson.  A simple swatch and contrasting yarns ready to knit button bands.  The swatch has ribbing and stockinette.  I fear that we will be expected to pick up along that ribbing and knit in a button hole that does not pull, squish, look wonky or need a very expensive button to draw attention away from the messy stitching.  If anyone can calm my nerves, it is Joyce. 

Can't wait for Saturday.   Just one more benefit to be gained from belonging to a TKGA guild!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Falling For Color

Twelve colors in one jacket back.  Progress is swift once life allows time for knitting.  Those twelve colors had the potential to mess with my mind.  However, I stared them down.  Yep.  I lined them up in A - L order and stared at them before picking up the needles.

And I learned a lot about making it all come out with flow and harmony.  The trick seems to be deciding on a major theme (ie: cool v warm) for the general scheme.  Then zero in on a multi Must Include This colorway.  From there, find a solid to piggy back on one of the shades in the MIT and a second solid (or semi/heathered) to put on the other side.  After that it is a matter of choosing another multi that includes the solid.  Keep building until Voila!  Twelve shades of Fall.

Travel will mess up plans to complete the fronts this week.  I've already decided that juggling twelve balls of color in an airplane seat is a recipe for disaster. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Twelve Colors of Fall

Never before have I seen so many Fall colors.  Of course I fell in love at first sight.  There might have even been an audible gasp of joy.  I went back just to make sure that what I first saw existed.  And that is when it hit me.  Full force. 

The reality that I was deep in the throws of breaking a few Commandments related to not coveting was all too obvious.  And with a swipe and a sign, the twelve colors of Fall were mine.

 Twelve colors of Fall - aka Prism Merino Mia -  all combined to make one jacket.  Left to my own devices, this could never happen.  But when those who understand color blending and movement better than do I put everything together in a handy dandy kit, how could I resist.

 So far I have this much of the back knit.  Each colorway appears one time in the whole back.  And the fronts and sleeves as well. 

Now that the evenings begin earlier than I prefer, it leaves long hours of darkness to work long sections of stockinette broken by a few rows of linen stitch.  I am enamored by the twelve colors of Fall.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In the Eyes

The pleasure of seeing eyes flash wide and then twinkle with joy is quite satisfying.  Really, really satisfying.  A recent journey provided that opportunity.  When last I was ignoring the commission, there seemed plenty of time to finish it.  I found other things to do and to love.

See, the thing was the requested shade of lavender is not within my color sense.  I don't wear it and although it makes a lovely flower in the Spring, it just has no excitement in my eyes.  The finishing of the bolero was, for me personally, rather laborious due to the shade.

But finish it I did.  Sewed and blocked to the necessary size.  Then delivered to she who wanted just that thing in just that color for the new dress that looked matronly with a black blazer.

Voila!  Her eyes flashed.  Her eyes twinkled.  If anyone was looking closely it was possible to see a little mist in my eyes.  She loved it and suddenly lavender became beautiful.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Embellished With Love

Followers of my yarns and those who know me will understand that it is time for my annual encouragement to do for others.  Yes, I'm going to flat out ask you to knit, crochet, weave, purchase or (gasp) clean out your closet and donate to your chosen organization that focuses on others.  Fall and early winter fill the holiday calendar with opportunity to gather with family and friends.  Reflection on self, moments of expressing appreciation, laughter, plans for personal change - pick a month and there is cause to turn to thoughts inward. 

BUT. . .

Some of our fellow travelers on this earth do not have family.
Some have a family stressed too the limit.
Some have been too long in the valley.
Some are struggling with visible and invisible illness.
Some just need a hug.

Do for others and then do for self.  It's OK to share the love.

Crochet chemo cap above is another that will be donated to Knots of Love.  One day of staying home to clean and cook and a young woman will be stylish. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Twisted Idea

I belong to three knitting guilds.  Not groups - official TKGA guilds that focus on educating members whilst doing good in the world.  Why?  Because the knowledge and skill attained through monthly programs and  seeing the work of others teaches me so very much.  Every month brings something new -  whether it is an 'Ah Ha!' moment, an unfamiliar yarn, the perfect pattern or a link to a different way to do short rows.

But never in my wildest thinking did it occur to me that I'd sit at a guild meeting and take seeds out of a raw cotton boll, open a paper clip and spin yarn!  Enter Mary F., who by the way has successfully grown her own cotton in the back yard.

With a wink and a few funny stories, she demonstrates her unique spin on making cotton yarn with the humble paper holding device.

Look at it!  Gorgeous stuff.
Her practiced hand gets just the right amount of twist. 
So thin. 
So useful. 
So magic.

I'm not a spinner, but even I learned to honor the little triangle where the fluff twists into something usable.

I tried.   I made single strand bumpy boucle.  (photo not included)

Riverside Knitting Guild
North Coast Knitters Guild
El Segundo Sliptstitchers

Friday, October 5, 2012

J'adore le Poulet

I do love this chicken shawl.

Expect to see it - - often.

And since you are going to click to see the photo in a bigger slide show, I'll confess that at the exact moment the last two photos were snapped, ends remained unwoven.

I ended up blocking, by choice, this to be about 46"x 19".  For me, that is great.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not So Crazy Chicken

Thank you to Edith Filzhof for her easy & versatile Crazy Chicken pattern.

 The knitting is within the beginner range.  The most difficult thing here is K2tog and SSK.  My preference is for smallish shawls.  I've confessed several times that the shawlette size is for me.

Well, if this pattern has any downfall, it is size.  The unblocked size you see here is close to what I like as a final product.  Thus a blocking quandary.   What to do?  If I block this in my usual style of soak, stretch, pin at significant points and then re-pull and pin to really open up the lace section - - - the thing would be too huge for me. 

I think the process will be adjusted for this one.  To be sure, that soaking bath will still take place.  Especially because this bit of knitting  might just have a few crumbs in it.  (Comments are not appreciated)  Then, if I choose a final size and pin the major points to that size, I should be able to ease the rest into position even it if means that the lace is not as open as I normally like it.

I added beads to the open work of the border.  Beads are not in the pattern.  What can I say but that I went "crazy."

This was my first effort with Twist Bamboo Sock. The 50%merino/25% bamboo/25% nylon provides a lovely drape (bamboo), great stitch definition (merino) and holds strong (nylon).  Add Cathy's color sense to those attributes and this yarn is a winner!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

One of the most versatile items I knit/crochet for myself is the small shawl - aka shawlette.  I like a size that wads up for stuffing into a purse, shakes out to prevent wayward breeze from chilling the neck and can still cover my shoulders as the sun sets.  A scarf almost works.  But it can't cover my shoulders.  So, I make a lot of little shawls.

 This yarn from the dye pot of Cathy over at Twist.  I love the subtle shade variation. 

I knit a lot of neck warming stitches. 

Now I'm making lots of holes.  Holes are important.  Holes allow maximum wadding of the shawl for jamming in a purse - especially during travel.

Holes also get bigger during the blocking process and give length for keeping shoulders covered when needed.  I like holes. 

I need to knit a lot more holes.  And an edging.  This Twist, yarn of intrigue, is like the forever giving skein.  No matter how much has been knit, there is still a whole heap of yardage left.

PS - I'm thinking beaded edge.  Just because I like beads almost as much as I like holes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Plenty Of Time?

At first it seemed there was plenty of time.  Suddenly it is mid-September and a deadline looms. 
  • Are my needles flying?  No.
  • Is any piece completed? No.
  • Is it the only thing in the project bag? No.
  • Did I start another cap for Knots of Love?  Yep.
  • Do I have time to write a blog post?  Yep.
  • Is there plenty of time to finish the bolero commission?  Sure!

 At least the two fronts are exactly the same and mirrored perfectly.  But the pieces are not completed.  The back isn't finished either.  That is hanging out on waste yarn so that I can absolutely make the upper arm hole row counts be precise.

Don't even ask about the sleeves.  Normally, one might choose to knit the sleeves before the fronts - owing to how big sleeves tend to be and the amount of yarn they chew up and how boring it can be, etc., etc., etc.  I'll do these sleeves last because they really are not sleeves per se.  More like little short caps that barely meet at the under arm seam.  The eventual wearer of this bolero wants a bit more length and I await her final (as in final) decision.

So the sleeves will be knit last and veer from the pattern.  Oh,  I changed the stitch pattern as well.  After all that Moss stitch on the vest for moi, an entire little sweater/bolero in Seed stitch was just too much. 

I'm using gauge  from a real published pattern so that should count for something.  Yarn substitution, stitch substitution, sleeve re-design, and eventually a different edging but it will be close to the original. 

Sorta.  Kinda.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spread The Love

The local yarn shops are abuzz with folks planning their holiday knitting.  I, too, am caught up in the thrill of the hunt for that "requested" shade of lilac.  Yes, it is that time of the year when so many of us start to focus our loving hands creations on others.

Take the good folks at Knots of Love.  They focus on others all year round.  And you can help them do the goodness!

Look at this nice squishy and comfortable hat.  It is a very quick knit and will bring joy to someone I do not know.  Hopefully as much joy as I received in the knitting.  

The pattern is available on the Knots of Love website - along with all of the specifics on yarn selection.  I'm not one to twist arms - but if you have a little appropriate softness in your stash and your heart, please consider casting on for someone in need.

Scarves, hats, lap blankets, baby blankets, toys - - - just search out a local organization near you and spend a few evenings thinking outside your circle.

These hats are so quick and easy, that I doubled up on the love.  You can too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pike's Peak Vest

'Tis done.


Free pattern from Berroco

Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in the Mare colorway

 Inverting the back triangle pleases me greatly.  I just can't vision that center section protruding outward.

All of the work grafting the collar was worth it.  Nice smooth rolls that are squishy when the head tilts back in laughter and glee.

 Now, if it would only be a little cooler. 

Thanks to daughter #1 (she being the elder) for once again serving as model.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roll, Collar, Roll

The vest, which is now dubbed Pike's Peak, was almost a breeze to sew together.  The pattern, as I have probably already mentioned, includes a seam right down the center back of the collar.  There is nothing wrong with a center seam.  Go check out the racks of ready-to-wear and without too much effort, you'll find such a design.

Maybe if I were height enhanced and graced with an elongated swan like ballerina style neck, a seam - which would tend to make the collar stand up tall and stretched - could look good.  But people!  My proportions just can't work with that design. 

 A bit of grafty work was just the ticket.  I'll not give away the whole of the Berroco pattern design, but will let you know that the two chunky cables and the RSS edging (which is purposely designed to roll to the right side) continue up the vest fronts to wrap around the neck. 

All that was required was to sit in the kitchen and use the kitchener stitch to make it all work out for moi.  Since I don't do fancy stuff like graft purl stitches, all that I did was work the normal KPPK across the RSS from the wrong side (where the knit stitches look like knit stitches), move the yarn with needle to the right side (where the cables are looking like cables), flip the work and continue onward grafting across the cable work.  Low and behold!  Smooth stitch work, no bulky seam and a fully squishy collar around my neck.

Now that I have your attention, it is important to remember that the kitchener stitch actually adds in a row of stitches.  For my row count (yours might be different) the result is a longer "space" between the crossed cables.

Because I wanted this to become a squishy collar, the final result is that the RSS and elongated space between cables both have the same appearance.  It's like a little miracle. 

And, because I know that some where at a knit group in the future someone will ask to see the underside, here is a photo of how the wrong side looks once grafted. 

At first, it did not look this good.  There was a bit of a do over until I was able to get the tension of the grafted stitches to match the actual knit gauge.  Turns out that a soft collar of worsted merino worked on a US #10 does not need to be yanked tight like the toe of a sock knitted down on a US #1.

Pesky gauge. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Block, Sew, Wear?

The needles have been quite busy as the summer calendar turned to post Labor Day thinking about autumnal temperatures.  There was a cool breeze one evening and that was all that I needed to finish up "stuff."

 Here are the pieces of the vest that first hit the needles a month ago.   Notice that the back piece has no arm hole shaping.  The entire arm hole is created by an extension of the front piece. 

It was hard for me to conceptualize during the actual knitting.  Then, in what can only be described as a flash of brilliance, I looked at the schematic.  There is a reason that designers provide that little measured drawing.  Just sayin'

The front pieces also include collar extensions that bring the cable work around to the back.  This is all fine and dandy and I do understand how to sew it all together.  But I'm just not sure that I want to sew it all together.  According to the pattern, I am to bind off the cables and then sew a seam.  A seam - right in the middle of the back collar.   A seam - that tends to make a firm line right where the reverse stockinette section is designed to curl and roll toward to big fat chunky cable.

Seems that a seam will cause all manner of havoc on that nice rolling part and make what should be soft into something not soft and and not so curly.  HMM.

Even in this photo of the unblocked front, it is easy to see how that reverse stockinette curls toward the cable. 

Me thinks a bit of grafting across the RSS and then across the cable will be much more pleasing.  So, the plan for this morning is to graft first, sew second, wash third and finally wear on the next cool evening.