Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I've been resisting yarn shopping all month, but it all fell apart. Yesterday, while I was approaching the end of my mitten, I wound up having time and ability to drop by a yarn store. What I bought was all cascade. Two balls of superwash, and two balls not.

Swatcharama (picture heavy post!)

I've been percolating mittens. Yes, it can be painful, at times. There's not always enough time or brain cells to properly give them the attention they need.

I woke up one morning thinking about some yarn scraps that might be generous enough. I spent the day (in the only minutes I could steal) pondering, weighing, matching, and finally came up with Mountain Colors scraps combined with some KnitPicks' bare in their fingering wool/nylon/donegal tweedy yarn.

This was my first swatch:

mitten swatch photo

I liked it, but the bottom line of the pattern is jagged. This is a result from the stranding. I decided to try it with a thicker yarn and doubled the strands. This is the second swatch:

mitten swatch photo

Up at the top of the swatch, you can see some tweedy green knitted in. I tried a few different ways of combining it, but was never happy with the results. The green tweed was reserved for another project. I also thought the double strands was fiddly, so I proceeded with the mitten, single stranded. This is what I got:

mitten swatch photo

I was quite happy with the results, even though I still had some jagged lines. But a careful examination of the knitted fabric had me concerned about its warmth. I've seen many patterns that call for this weight/gauge of yarn, but I didn't like it, at least not for this incarnation. So I started over, this time with the yarns held double stranded. I knit the cuff, then knitted a ribbed cuff to go inside. In the following picture, you can see the mitten in progress. At the point I took this picture, I was on the verge of ripping it out again, because the outer cuff was a little narrower than I'd planned, and the inner cuff made the wrist just look swollen.

mitten in progress photo

After consideration, I decided to proceed. This is what I finished this morning:

mitten picture showing hand back

And this shows the palm:

mitten picture showing palm

This is a peek at the hidden cuff:

mitten picture showing cuff

And this is the other side of the thumb. I'm quite happy with how that matched up.

mitten picture of thumb

Next up, mitten two... Except I've got so many other things I want to knit on, too!

The mitten is a combination of patterns and techniques. The braided cuff is described in Folk Solks by Nancy Bush. The thumb was charted in SELBUVOTTER: Biography of a Knitting Tradition. The palm pattern is from Favorite Mittens. The back of the hand was something I may have seen somewhere but it's been bouncing about in my head. The cuff patterns are inspired by Cowichan patterns, which remind me of BC.

Next up, mitten two... Except I've got so many other things I want to knit on, too!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Third Sock, Fourth Sock

Saturday. Cast on, knit leg.
Sunday. Turn heel, knit foot, toe decreases.
Monday. Kitchener. Cast on, knit leg.
Tuesday. Turn heel, knit foot.
Wednesday. Toe decreases. Kitchener. Woohoo!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Second Sock!

On Tuesday evening, I cast on a second sock. On Wednesday I made halting progress. On Thursday I soared, and on Friday I cast off.

At this moment, my project entry in Ravelry is set at 50% complete. This sock odyssey is not done yet.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


So recently, I have been knitting aliens. A gaggle of aliens. A quiver of aliens. A pod of aliens. And something became quite clear... I'm running out of green alien yarn.

I sent an email to Deb of Fearless Fibers. I asked if she would ever make the Kildare colourway again? The reply was swift and also positive. Not only was she willing to dye that colourway for me, she even agreed to try it in her sport weight yarn. This week, my new Kildare yarn arrived, but I don't think it'll just be for aliens.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Shades of grey

On Sunday, I started on take two of the socks for my son. I was originally going to do a second try on the cable sock I tried earlier. It soon became obvious that this wasn't the right yarn either. My plans wandered. Wobbled. Veered way off course.

picture of grey sock

I actually have 3 big plump balls of Jarbo Garn Raggi. Two of the multi-colour and one of the grey. My plans have gotten complicated. I can't even articulate them yet. What is pictured here is the first sock. I had to try it on him to ensure that it fits. He has hard-to-fit feet and I'm not going to proceed with a less-than-stellar fit. But if my plans play out, what he gets for Christmas will still be a surprise, even though he's tried on one sock.

another picture of the grey sock

Because I am accustomed to knitting two socks at once in fingering weight, knitting one at a time in worsted yarn makes the sock fly off the needles. I knit the ribbing on Sunday. On Monday I made huge progress, knitting the leg, the heel, and into the foot. Tonight I finished the foot. I even ripped out the toe and did it a second time to be sure there was a little growing row in there. The sock is knitted using the Sky Sock architecture from New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

Adventures in double knitting

It all started a week ago Monday. Well, the action started Monday. I've been inspired by my friend Ember and her double knits for quite some time now. And intending to knit Exchequered all year now. On Monday I went to the library while waiting for the carpool grrls, with pattern, yarn, and a size 5 circular needle in hand. There I finally cast on, with a lot of texted encouragement from Ember. Thank heavens for library books! I was able to look up the cable caston, and realise that I already know this caston, just not its name.

Double knitting is indeed an adventure. I started with both colours of yarn held in my right hand. This means I need to move both strands from back to front or vice versa with every stitch. I was dropping strands and picking them up. It was a mess. On Tuesday, I found a video online that showed how to do it left-handed, and it looked much easier. I tried it, and fumbled along for a few rows. You could see the rapid decline in the stitch quality. My left handed purling still needs a lot of work. I finally settled down with one colour in my right hand, one colour in my left. This works especially well when I'm purling consisting with one colour, and keep that colour in my right hand.

It was pretty exciting, if awkward, when I got through the rows of solid colour and could add my first cheque. Then there was a second cheque, and a third. As I progressed, naturally, my technique improved. I certainly wasn't getting Good, yet, but improving. My stitches were smoother, but there was a still a lot of variation in the size of the stitches.

I knit on this scarf all week, especially at work. It was painfully obvious I wouldn't be able to finish it by Christmas, and I should be concentrating on more attainable projects, but I couldn't stop myself. I was transfixed.

On Friday evening, I decided to make some more hats, and I opened up my folder of interchangable needles to build myself a size 9 needles. In that folder I saw something very disturbing... a size 5 needle end. Let me explain the significance of this. All week I'd been knitting Exchequered on size 5 needles, or I thought I was. But actually, I was knitting with a needle that had a size 5 needle on one end and a size 7 needle on the other. Seriously! I actually do this a lot. I put a smaller needle on the passive end which makes the knitting go a little smoother. I should have known this. I should have measured both ends of the needle before I started. No wonder the stitches were uneven.

Unrecoverable error. Fatal error. Hello, frog pond.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Quickie hats

Using the same yarn and the same general specifications as my previous set of cabled hats, I cranked out two more hats this weekend, using up the last of the two colours I bought earlier this year.

I modified the decreases a little, decreasing later and faster. I only photographed one of the hats, the other was given away before it even got to the camera. These go to a preschool where children get needed psychological counseling along with their education.

Finished Gifties--Photos

The Dashing and the Fetching for my parents are finished!

Now to get to the post office...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Conflicted on the Road

As I'm living in the U.S., I get U.S. holidays, which last week meant FIVE DAY WEEKEND. Sweet. As is often the case, Thanksgiving means a trip to the ranching relatives. And you know what a road trip means. Yes! Knitting on the Road.

Since the Knitting on the Road Knitalong's pattern for Nov/Dec is Conwy, and since I totally love my first pair, why not knit another? My first plan was to use my other set of Lorna's Laces. But then, upon browsing the pictures on Ravelry, I decided that the pattern would look even better in a less patterned yarn. That's when I chose my spare Smooshy.

I knit happily along as we drove north, and then more happy knitting as we socialized with the ranchin folks. But then, in a private moment when I was comparing the new socks with the first pair, I noticed--aghast--that the new socks were knitting up to look identical to a previous pair. Not cool! Although the other pair is Wildefoot, it's knit with a yarn-over cable pattern, and the finished product is very similar to the Conwy pattern I was knitting. My family menfolk thought I was absolutely batty to care that the socks would be similar. If I like one, why not two???

I also discovered an ambiguity. This ambiguity plagued me during the last pair I knit, when I was half way through the second sock and discovered the two patterns were different. This time I was very careful to follow the directions, to make sure I got it right. There's a cross-over pattern where you knit through the back loop of the second stitch. Unfortunately, I discovered the hard way that the pattern looks quite different when you knit through the back loop with the needle going in front of the first stitch, and when the needle goes behind the first stitch. I looked very closely at the picture in the book, and her socks have the pattern where the needle goes behind the first stitch. Unfortunately, I knitted with the needle going in front of the first stitch. By the time I discovered it, I was well into the sock, and it didn't really make sense to frog or to switch. But that still annoys me.

I finished right to the top of the heels. Now I'm not on the road anymore, with a bajillion distractions. I'll probably finish up the socks, but I have this gnawing dissatisfaction with the glaring similarities and the pattern error. I'll surely think on it a few more days.

ETA: Here's the pic I took on my phone when I first discovered the Similarities.