Friday, January 25, 2008


I'm not having much success with the Dashing pattern. This is my second attempt that has been too small. Being as it's a pattern for a man, I made the mistaken assumption that a size small would fit a woman. Knitting it at gauge was uncomfortably tight, and then going up a needle size was also uncomfortably tight. I have frogged and started over using the large. All it really adds is four purl stitches, so I'm hoping that's enough to allow these to fit comfortably. As these are for a friend who's far away, I can't try them on her and see if they'd fit. My coworker tried them on and she says they fit fine. However, I'm going with the theory that if they're tight on me, it's possible they'd be tight on the recipient, and I want these to be useful.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The pirate feet are complete!
It's already a blur, I can't recap all the modifications. I used the ridgeline architecture from New Pathways for Sock Knitters, with a little cable twisting up the centre panel. The charts were modified to fit my stitch count. The heel was adjusted to fit my son.

He loves hand-knit socks almost as much as I do, and because of his unique feet coupled with the facts that A) he outgrows socks at an amazing speed and B) unless I make reinforced toes and heels, he wears out the socks before he can even outgrow them, he hasn't had a pair of mama-made socks that fit for a year now. It's about time!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Live from the sledding hill

Pirate mittens, action shot.


Would you believe I ran out of yarn? When my #1Son requested pirate socks to match the mittens, I said, "I have just the yarn!" and pulled out my shepherd sock yarn bought on clearance last June. I had 2 balls of black and one of white. My decision on how to make the sock was based on the amount of yarn I had. Clearly I couldn't make the socks completely out of colour work, because I didn't have enough white. I didn't expect to run out of black. Obviously I have a very skewed sense of yarn requirements because I ran out (toe up) just before the colourwork cuff began. This precipitated an emergency run to the yarn store. "Hi, I know you sold this yarn off on clearance six months ago, but do you have anything to substitute?" The substitute looked good, but really, it was thicker. I didn't have much choice so I plugged on with the thicker black. I carried white ahead to compensate for the fact that it was a slightly thinner yarn.

Notes to self: I knit the leg in 3x1 ribbing until the point where his leg started to widen up again. I knit in stockinette stitch once around, and then started with the white stripe. When I got to the first 2-colour row, I switched to a size 6 needle, which persisted through the rest of the sock. When I started the pirate row, I added 2 stitches at the back of the sock to go to 54 stitches, allowing me to add 2 stitches to each repeat of the 16-stitch-repeat pattern. When I got to the row of white fleur-de-lis, I increased again by 2 stitches, getting the total back to a multiple of four. After the final white row, I knit one row in black, purled one row in black, and then cast off with a double strand of black.

Sock 2 needs its colourwork, and then I'll be done.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A little springtime

Thanks to, we have a little burst of colour in our office. This promotional gift arrived a few months ago and has been my job to tend. Johnny jump-ups are great in salads, but these are just for visual enjoyment

salt and pepper heel

Quick progress update... with notes that are probably meaningful only to me. I've completed the heels on both pirate socks. I'm not as wowed by the results as I'd planned to be, but I've come to accept them. At the top of the heels, the socks still fit the recipient, another fitting will be needed tonight.

To accommodate his slender foot and broad heel, I cast on and knitted up according to the midfoot measurement, 23 stitches per needle, 46 total. I started the increases early, which allowed me to increase to 74 stitches total, instead of the recommended 68. Before starting the heel, I adjusted the heel needle to 27 stitches, and then worked the heel for a target of 54 stitches around the ankle, 27 per needle. At that point, it still fit. Then I decided that to accommodate the ribbing pattern I want, I would change it to 52 stitches, so I did one more decrease in line with the heel decreases, and have knit about another inch. Tonight's fitting will determine if I can get away with 52. If so, I will continue with the 3x1 ribbing until it seems appropriate to start the colourwork again.

Friday, January 11, 2008

before and after

I have had snow bonnets on my mind, of late. I saw a college girl wearing a vintage styled snow bonnet, the big fluffy white kind with big pompoms on the tassels. Woosh! A flood of memories came with the sight of that snow bonnet! When I saw the snow bonnet in the Golden Compass, it was the perfect opportunity to create a snow bonnet that satisfied my interest in this vintage style and was something that my daughter would get excited about.
Yesterday, my coworker and I made a lunch-time trip to a nearby yarn store. I was seeking out a good worsted yarn in tan or fawn to combine with the Cascade 220 and Naturespun I already have to make the perfect colour combination. It is turning out more elusive than I expected. I spotted some Lang Naima in a satisfactory colour, 30% off. It's an alpaca/merino blend, making it deliciously soft. I held the two strands together, and swatched with the largest needles I have, a mere size 17. The pattern is written for 6 stitches to 4 inches, but unfortunately, with such tiny needles, I could only get 9 stitches to 4 inches, so I had to recalculate. I started with 45 stitches, and knit the entire yarn up, concluding that the product was too wide and not deep enough. I ripped it out and started over with 40 stitches but by that time, my arms were all sore from wrestling with these broomsticks needles and gave it a rest. Today, at work on break and again at home, I finished up. It took all the yarn I had to make the hat deep enough, and I used the tails left to make a narrow braid for tassels. I almost went out to buy another ball, just for tassels, but we're trying it as is, for now. I only had 15 inches of yarn left!

(she's also wearing a homemade dress in that photo)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I made a quick trip to the yarn store, in need of one particular ball of yarn. I wanted something in the weight of Cascade 220 or Naturespun in a tan or fawn, and would you believe they didn't have anything at all close to the colour I needed? However, I made a haul in the bargain bin, 3 colours of limbo at 45% off, plus a Sarasuperwash similarly discounted. And I tossed in some baby twist for more mitten action.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Icelandic Wool!

Lookee! I won!
Priscilla ran a blog contest. And while I didn't guess accurately the number of charity items she would make in December, I had the luck of being her random winner. She sent me this delicious skein of Icelandic Wool she picked up at a fiber fest. Oh goodness, the colours are so ME! The yarn is gorgeous, but now I'm fretting. What, oh what, should I knit with this colourful delight? Thanks Priscilla!!

Me and my frogs

My goodness it was a frogolicious weekend. I started out with a pair of Dashing from Cascade Quatro. Let me tell you, I swatched very patiently, and finally concluded that I got gauge with the recommended needles, size 7. This is an odd occurrence, I usually need to knit at least one needle size larger. I selected the smaller pattern size, assuming that as the pattern is designed for a man, the large would be man's size, and the small would be woman's size. I knit quite a ways on the pair, making it past the second cable, but I finally had to admit that they were uncomfortably tight. Ribbit.

The picture shows the next effort, started today on size 8 needles. I so far think these will fit fine, but I will know for sure after some cabling happens.

On Sunday, discouraged from my Dashing failure, I worked on the pirate socks I've been struggling with. These are for my son, who has difficult-to-fit feet. I know this from several sock failures. I measured carefully, and compared to Cat Bordhi's sock size tables in New Pathways. Turns out that his heel size is appropriate for his foot length, but his foot width and ankle width are slim. So socks designed to fit his ankle and foot width come up too small around the heel. I started using the recommended numbers for his midfoot, hoping that if I made nice and stretchy ribbing, it would fit. I knit 10 rows of 1x1 ribbing, and then had him try it on. It went over his heel, but just barely, and obviously no colourwork would fit. Ribbit.

After a great deal of thought, I decided to try a toe-up variation, allowing me to make sure the foot fits, and then play with the leg size. I followed her directions for what she calls the "standard toe". She uses this toe with the 2-colour socks in her book. The formula called for starting with 7 stitches per needle. However, after knitting 3 inches, I tried it on him, and discovered that the toe was way too pointed, and not flexible enough at all. He would have a sticky-outy-flap of toe scrunched up in the end of his shoe. Not good at all. Ribbit.

Next up, I started with 13 stitches per needle. I was so happy with the first toe that I started a second one. When they match, I'll knit both socks together. Although in the picture, the smaller toe is incorrect and it has now been picked back a row.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Swatch, Bordhi Style

This picture shows a swatch done as recommended by Cat Bordhi in New Pathways. She suggests casting on the stitches on two needles using Judy's Magic Caston and knit from there, making a little pouch. If you need to change needle sizes, you knit a purl row and then keep knitting on the new needles. For reasons I can't properly articulate, this caston works best for me. Casting on a circular tube or doing that trick where you leave a huge strand in back so it's like you're knitting in the round but you only knit one direction, both those swatches leave me terribly impatient before I have satisfactory results. Somehow knitting a little pouch allows me to measure the gauge before I get too impatient to continue.

I would also like to point out the needles in the photo. That circular needle is built from my brand new Knit Picks Options needle set. Woohoo! So far I'm very pleased with the needle set. The cables are great, just like the fixed circulars I have from knitpicks, and the joins are perfectly smooth. The needle shown is actually assembled with one size 6 point and one size 7 point. I was at first concerned that one set of each size might not be enough, and soon devised a method to have two needles of the same size. I put the required size point on the active needle, and a smaller point on the passive needle, and it works just fine. In the case of this photo, I'd been too lazy to change both tips when I moved up a size.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Eve Knitting


I'm close to completing mitten #2. However, notice in the picture, the two mitten tips? They don't quite match, do they? When reading the pattern, I read to knit until 14 stitches remained. I interpreted this as 14 stitches per needle, although that seemed like too many stitches per needle. I actually closed it at 11 stitches per needle, but it didn't close very nicely. Later I realized I was supposed to close it at 14 stitches total. Oops! In my defense, I looked at other patterns, and they instruct until 7 stitches remain per needle. So it is confusing, I say! After closing mitten #2, I redid mitten #1 to close the same way.

Oh yeah. Happy new year! Happy 2008!
Posted by Picasa