Monday, December 31, 2007

A letter to a witch

Dear Bellatrix,

Yes, you are the Dark Lord's most fervent supporter. And yes, you tortured Alice and Frank Longbottom into insanity. I should have known you would do the same to me.

It started with such infatuation. From the very moment I saw your pattern, I knew I had to have you. I sought out yarn with high and demanding expectations, and when I finally found the perfect duets, I wasted no time in bringing you to me. And of course, I wasted no time in casting on. From the moment the yarn arrived, it was pure infatuation. Just you and me.

But you know that infatuation never lasts. First I found you snuggling with my cat. My cat, Bella! And then I discovered how difficult it is to love a crazed Death Eater. You could not allow the knitting to be easy, could you? Was it so important to be your disruptive self that you would interrupt your own creation?

Then we had the cooling off period. I know you hated to be set aside, but I needed to breathe, Bella! I needed some space away from your insanity. A month apart, and I thought I could face you again.

But then when I returned, Bella, you were not forgiving. So vengeful are you! Even after you were completed, you were nasty to me. You came after me by trying to strangulate my legs! You forced me to undo the bindoff, and redo it, looser, less dangerous. And even that, you thwarted. The new, looser bindoff took the last of the yarn alloted that sock. Even after I unravelled a row! And thus another month passed by.

Have we finally reached an agreement, Bella? A truce? An understanding? Dare I hope, a rekindling, even? You are as beautiful as ever, and your dark energy brings a new flavour to life. Will I be wearing you, Bella, all the way to St. Mungos?

Yours always,

Little Socks Dos

How very complient of me, I knitted both the learning socks as instructed in New Pathways. These are knitted from Happy Trails sock yarn in Raspberry Jam, knit on size 6 circular needles.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Meet NanC

At last! phanC has a new twin. Her name is, of course, NanC.
Her braids were added around 4pm on Christmas Eve.

After the braids, I started on her dress. I wanted to use the green Fearless Fibers, but I didn't feel like I had enough time to knit with size one needles and complete a dress. So I started swatching with 2 strands held together. I had no idea how that would affect gauge, so started with size 3 needles, which was way too small. By the time I was up to size 5 needles, I was impatient to get started, so I just went ahead with that, but I could have surely knitted it on larger needles, especially the skirt part.

The dress was what I was knitting on until 1am, Christmas Eve/morning. There is a reason why the dress is not longer.

NanC's Dragonskin Dress
Yarn: 2 strands Fearless Fibers held together
Needles: Addi Turbo Circular Size 5
Gauge: 6 stitches per inch
Pattern: Cast on 39 stitches, join in round
Row 1 bodice: k2,p1,k2,p28,k2,p1,k2,p1. place marker. This indicates start of round, and centre back of dress.
Row 2 bodice: k2,p1,k2,p1,k26,p1,k2,p1,k2,p1.
Repeat row 2 until bodice measures one inch.
Row 1 skirt: k2,p1,k2,p1, (k2, make 1 purl in bar between stitches) repeat until you arrive at the purl stitch. p1,k2,p1,k2,p1.
Row 2&3 skirt: (k2,p1) repeat around skirt
Row 4 skirt: (k1,y0,k1,yo,k1, make 1 purl in bar between stitches, p1) repeat around skirt
Row 5&6 skirt: k5, p2, repeat around skirt
Row 7 skirt: (k1, yo, k3tog, yo, k1, p2) repeat around skirt
Row 8&9 skirt: repeat row 5
Continue to do row 7-9 until skirt is desired length.
Bind off using a double crochet bindoff.

Explanation of k3tog: slip one, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Little Sock Uno

I have seen Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters on many knitter's post-Christmas blog report. I actually received this pre-Christmas, slid it in on top of some holiday shopping. I find it a very stimulating and exciting book. I've been fired up to knit some of these socks, but naturally I need to finish up the holiday knitting. Like the alpaca mittens.

However, there were some pre-Christmas events when I couldn't knit on the gift knitting for fear of spoiling a surprise. That's when I started on the little learning socks. I first used the leftovers from the cranberry hat.

My initial reaction to knitting these patterns? I love it! Her heel is awesome. It incorporates a classic knitted heel, but there is no picking up gusset stitches. Let me say that again. No Picking Up Gusset Stitches. Not only do I dislike picking up gusset stitches, but I'm not happy with the results. My fabulous Lithuanian socks wear so comfortably, but have a huge row of gaps along the gussets. Next up I need to make some adult sized, so I can see how the feel in everyday wearing situations.

Turns out the leftovers were only enough to make one sock. That's okay. I learned a lot in the making, and I was certain a use could be found for a singular baby sock. Indeed, it is so! My daughter is babysitting Molly, who sustained grevious injuries in a fall last week, while Molly's mistress is out of town. The sock is perfect for a little patient with one leg in a cast.

One hand clapping

I completed one Alpaca mitten before the gift-giving event was upon us. My good man is so familiar with me and my ways that I didn't even need to explain why he only received one mitten. He was very pleased to learn that it was made from the yarn he sleuthed out for me in Lima. Mitten #2 now has its cuff complete. I'm just not knitting quite so fast in the post-Christmas haze. Especially since I had to return to work on Boxing Day. *grumble*

How to drive a young teen crazy

Wrapping has become a bit of a Deal at our house. It involves a lot of decoys and deceptive packaging. For the past three years, I have employed legos in packages of things that don't rattle, specifically to mislead my curious son. This year I didn't bother, simply because it's been done too much.

For the past several years, I have employed mostly cloth gift bags, and for a few years, I had the goal of making a couple more each year. My use of cloth gift bags has unfortunately declined in recent years. Investigative and curious adolescents are more dangerous for gift-secrecy-security than toddlers ever were. I wrapped most gifts inside boxes and inside paper, because paper provides the best (though certainly not fool-proof) tamper resistance. I looked at all that paper under my tree that would soon become garbage, and resolved to find other ways to wrap any remaining presents. One, a set of special game cards, I taped to the bottom of a box that was on its way to the recycling, added a jingle-bell instrument, taped shut the box, and put it inside a cloth bag. Another, a gift of action figures that would rattle most suspiciously, I wrapped inside a sheet, which I then wrapped inside another sheet, and then another, until I had it plump enough to fill a t-shirt. The suspicious rattling was completely muffled, the wrap job was precarious enough to be entirely tamper-evident, and as it turns out, it drove the young recipient mad. As Christmas approached, he got more and more worked up about the contents of that t-shirt. Come Christmas morning, it was the first he opened, with the jingle-package being the second.

Just wait til next year, my young son..... muahahahaha

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Labrador Mitten

Another work-in-progress, cast on this morning. I'm using the yarn brought from Peru, an undisclosed blend of alpaca, wool, and cotton, and the baby twist I got from the mitten swap last winter. The pattern is the Labrador Mittens in Favorite Mittens. The Peruvian yarn is fuzzy and lacks stretch, 2 qualities that are unfamiliar to me. The mittens seem quite nice, though, if fuzzy, so I'm hoping they'll work out.

Pirates--The Finished Object!

Pirate Mittens!
Pattern: From Hello Yarn
Yarn: Black Cascade 220 and Knitpicks Bare
Needles: Size 8 and Size 9 circulars
Modifications: Inner cuff, as described earlier.
Started: Oct 11, 2007
Finished: December 22, 2007

Gracious, it was a rocky journey for these! I decided in early October I would make these for my #1Son. My first attempt was way too small for him. I set that mitten aside, though it was recently finished, and started a larger pair. This mitten was knit up with a tragic critical flaw, and was cast aside. Just last Friday did I get back to it, and this morning I knit the last thumb and wove in all the ends.

Look carefully at that picture of the palms, above. Do you see any inconsistency? I only saw it when the mitten was finished. It's going to be a proud part of the mitten, that screaming little detail that says, "MADE WITH LOVE BY MOM." Did you need a close up of that?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

5 knitting days left before gifting

I was making swift progress on the new little dolly, but then I decided to stop the knitting until I had a face on her. The face is always the very hardest part of a dolly, and I find it very difficult to sew on a face when I'm trying to manipulate the needle in and out of a head that is very inaccessible. I first sewed on eyes before knitting the body on Deaux, but I have not revisited that technique since. I'm fairly pleased with the results, although it's very difficult to judge the success of the face until the doll is stuffed and has hair. For the first time, I used beads for pupils instead of a shabby french knot, an idea I picked up on Ravelry. Now that I've faced the biggest challenge, she should finish up fairly swiftly. Which reminds me, I should bring the stuffing inside to start warming up...

The mittens are also making solid progress. I do not think that 2 other pairs of mittens will be completed in the next 5 days, and I shall have to be content with what I am capable of accomplishing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Weekend Crafting

It's that time of year. Kidlets need gifties for a variety of teachers. Neighbours take each other small tokens that nicely express, "Hey, you live near to us." In an overwhelming season, I don't manage large batches of Christmas baking or elaborate projects. But we do strive to come up with something that the kids can work on that isn't too scary for the recipients.

This year's project involved hot wax in canning jars,

Cold snow to tame the hot wax,

Gold sparkles and little shiny sequins,

Ta da! Gifties!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mitten progress

At this moment, I lack the technology to add a progress photo, though I'd love to show it off. I have finished my first mitten and started the second. A few interesting tidbets:

1) Yesterday, I picked up the mitten after a busy afternoon and started knitting on it. Suddenly, I noticed that I'd totally forgotten about adding the waste thread for the thumb. Panicked, I checked my position on the mitten and discovered that I was precisely 5 stitches after the spot where I needed to start the waste yarn. Not bad, eh? I think I had to rip out 10 or more rows on the last pirate mitten I finished.

2) Tonight I went to Christmas services associated with #1Man's work. As an aside, this is always a treat because I get to belt out sing familiar songs with an enthusiastic congregation. I admit I knitted my way through the services. Just in front of me, a woman was knitting on a very long scarf. And across the aisle, an old acquaintance of mine was knitting on what looked like a hat. I also admit I often knit my way through the Sunday talks. Well, I haven't usually, but ever since the knitting rush began in November, I've gone ahead and knitted there. This evening, looking at all the knitting around me, I wondered if there is historical precedence for knitting in services. I was specifically musing about the times when knitting was more of a necessity and less of a hobby. Did women who needed to knit to keep their families warm put it aside for services? I have knit my way through those Christmas services for years, but I'm thinking that it's time I learn to put it aside for that short time. If I knit my way through everything, then everything is always very similar. I have decided that for Sunday talks and special services, I can put aside my knitting and allow these times to be separate from the every day motions and rituals. (But I will not judge those who do knit during services.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What's on the needles now

The pirate mittens I frogged back in October are back on the needles. My first try knitting them again was unsatisfactory. I like a tight cuff to keep out the cold. Now the mittens have a built-in cuff.

Personal notes: I cast on 48 stitches on a size 8 needle. I knit in 2x2 rib for 14 rows in black, then broke the yarn and set it aside. Then I cast on 48 stitches on a size 9 needle, and knit the cuff pattern for sixteen rows. Then I slid the black cuff inside the patterned cuff. The next row I knit with black, transferring one stitch from the size 8 needle onto the working needle, and knitting 2 stitches together, one from each cuff. When I had knit an entire row, the cuff was integrated. I switched to the size 8 needle and continued in pattern, adding an extra black row for symmetry to the wrist pattern. (edited for clarity, or at least an attempt at clarity)

I am knitting this pair inside out, in an attempt to tidy up my 2-colour work and keep my floats perfectly tensioned.

Also, my daughter has requested a twin for phanC, so I have cast on. We'll see how much of her I can get done.

Finished mittens

Pirate Mittens
Started Oct 7, 2007
Finished December 12, 2007
Yarn: Colour4Me in Black and in white
Needles: Circular Size 5
Notes: Although I read that this pattern knit up small, I thought I had adjusted for that problem. But then, I had underestimated the size of my son's hands. These mittens were way too small. So I sent them to Soaring Eagle instead.

Camo Mittens
Pattern: House Mittens by Alison Hansel from Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter (ravelry link)
Yarn: Bernat Camouflage
Needles: Addi Turbo Size 5 circular
Notes: I was about to start making a pair of kids' mittens. I was looking through Charmed Knits, and saw that the house mittens were a good generic mitten pattern, so I followed that pattern, even if they weren't Harry Potter themed. I couldn't make gauge, though, on this pattern, her gauge is crazy-tight. I knitted it at 20 stitches per 4 inches.
Destination: Soaring Eagle Project
Started: Dec. 10, 2007
Finished: Dec 12, 2007

Better hat photos

Finally blocked

As of December 10th, the Candle Flame Shawl was finished and blocked. It still hasn't gone into the mail, but will depart tomorrow, along with the red hat.

Pattern: Candle Flame Shawl
Yarn: KnitPicks' Gossamer in Blue Jeans
Started: Nov. 2, 2007
Finished: Dec 10, 2007
Pattern notes: No modifications
Needles: Clover Size 6 straight bamboo needles.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wanted: 2 thumbs

yippee for parent meetings and special guest speakers. Good knitting time!

Monday, December 10, 2007


New mittens. With candle flame blocked, i've started some soaring eagle mittens. My paper involves a lot of waiting for pages to load so That's knitting time mixed in to homework time. Yay!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Meet the yarn

School and holiday obligations continues to have me running fairly non-stop-steady. On top of my full-time job and the parenting joys. Fortunately I can knit through at least some of that. So here, finally, is a little more about my new yarns from Sweet Sheep.

First of all, let me introduce Miranda. Miranda is one of the sweet faerie feet at Sweet Sheep. 100% Superwash BFL (I had to google BFL to find out that it's Blue Face Leicester). I have no idea how this knits up and can't wait to find out.

Next up, we have Dream in Color Smooshy in the Ruby Red colourway. We're talking 100% superwash merino, and while it's fingering just like the other 2 skeins, with a similar weight and yardage, it's superchunk fattest of all!

Last, but of course not least, we have sKNITches Syncopation Self-striping yarn in Carnival. This yarn is also 100% Superwash Merino. I'm very fussy about my stripes, and this is my first adventure with buying hand-dyed stripes. I can't wait to see how it knits up! I know I just said that about Miranda but it's true for this, too.

Okay, I admit, when I'm at work, I open up the picture I took of these three skeins and just leave it sitting open. So when I'm flipping through the screens on my desktop, I come upon that picture. It always surprises me, and I always get that little thrill. I know I said this with my last yarn acquisitions, but I can't wait to cast on. It's been the pressure of getting these gifts for parents finished, and next up is mittens for Soaring Eagles, then mittens for my family. My priorities are entirely ordered upon mail. My parents are farthest away, so they got done first. I hope to hurry get the charity mittens finished and off very soon. My family's mittens are last because I can still be knitting those Christmas eve. Come Christmas day, though, I'm casting on some socks for me! Maybe five or six pairs.

Cranberry Cable Hat


Finished Object!
Yarn: Laines du Nord's Dolly Maxi 100% Superwash Merino, 3 skeins!
Needle: Addi Turbo Size 9 16" circular needle
Pattern: No pattern. My mother told me that my dad has a very large head, and that his hats measure 23". I swatched quite a bit while plotting this hat. I finally decided that to make a hat in the pattern I wanted, making it measure 23" around at resting size would probably be too huge. This pattern is supposed to stretch. So at rest, it measures 16-18", but it still looks lovely stretched out to 28". I knit 2x2 rib for 4 inches, and then a repeated 12 stitch pattern of k2, p2, cable 6 (3x3), p2. I did an 8-row pattern, cabling on the sixth row. After 5 cable-sequence repeats, I switched to total knit stitch, and decreased with a k2tog on the first k stitch of each rib. I alternated decrease rows with knit rows for the first 6 decrease rows, then decreased every single row until I had 5 stitches on the needle. It is big, and long too. I made the brim extra long so he could fold it over once or twice.
Started Dec 7
Finished Dec 9 (But I haven't woven in the ends yet)
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Candle Flame Progress

I am a mere 9 rows of garter stitch from comleting this shawl. Ideally, I would have made this another 10" or so, but unfortunately, I am knitting with the breaky yarn, and that is a Serious Drag. I will finish up tonight or tomorrow, and then get it blocked and into the mail. Joy!
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Saturday, December 08, 2007

In progress

A work in progress! I started this late last night, after submitting the last deliverables for my information architecture class. This morning's knitting has already used up the first ball, now i'm worried that 2 isn't enough.