Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My brilliant idea

We have a Kindle in our household. Not because we're Kindle-buyin' folks. But rather, my husband's work provided them for the faculty on permanent loan, so folks could explore ways to incorporate it into the curriculum in the future. Or something.

When it arrived, we all bought a book on the Kindle, and tried it out. Since then, the Kindle has been possibly a little neglected. Not too long ago, I had the brilliant idea of putting knitting patterns on the Kindle, and thus making it so I don't have to print them out.

The Kindle now has a pdf reader, but I decided to convert the pdfs to Kindle files, so that I could adjust the text size. I tested it out with 6 pattern pdfs. Well. When it works, it works fairly well. But large charts are shrunk, and a little difficult to read. Some charts disappeared. The worst results were the patterns that are printed in columns. The pdf-to-kindle converter doesn't read columns, nor does it distinguish captions from text. So some of my patterns are a little confusing. One is absolutely messed up. I might transfer the actual pdfs to the kindle as well, as a way of interpreting and clarifying the better of the patterns.

a ball of yarn beside a kindle showing a mitten-knitting chart
picture is from Heather Desserud's Ruba'iyat Mittens (rav link)
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fun with unspun

Knitting with the Silk Garden and the Malabrigo thick-n-thin picqued my interest in underspun yarn. Naturally I dug out the lovely skein of Icelandic Unspun from Priscilla. I wasn't sure what to do with it. I've been wanting more scarves, since I sit at work and freeze day in and day out. But I tried two different patterns, and the yarn told me quite firmly that it was not going to be a scarf. I had often pondered pairing this yarn with my black and grey Araucania, so I swatched with that. I've been looking at twined mittens, so I started plotting a pair of twined mittens with these two yarns, but then I noticed that the Icelandic is Z-spun and the Araucania is S-spun. That's when I decided that this would be the perfect yarn for exploring twined mittens, using both ends of the ball.


Turns out it's maybe not the best yarn for twined mittens. Being 'unspun', it's so underspun that the twining process unspins it too much. Every four rows or so, the yarn has lost so much twist that it breaks. Then I straighten out the yarns, give it a little more twist, and spit-splice the strand back together. It's a slow process, but the mittens are turning out very lovely.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 26, 2009

hand knits in action

teen ooking at hands in fingerless gloves
teen walking, wearing homemade scarf with his winter coat

Finished at last

In November 2008, I blogged about several projects in progress. Most of those projects were finished, but the red fetchings in progress remained in progress.

I started them November after finishing an identical pair, and my daughter told me those were the exact fingerless gloves she wanted. I finished one, and then she went to a birthday party, and got a pair of cranberry red fingerless gloves as a party favour, and I never bothered to finish the pair.

My daughter lost the party favours, and I wanted to finish the pair, so they are finished up and successfully gifted. She finds them warm and fuzzy and loves them. Which means she'll wear them yesterday and today and probably never again.

two hands with blue nailpolish and red fingerless gloves on a white wall

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Clothes!

This young lady, NanC, was a Christmas gift 2 years ago. At the time, she was started so late (because she was requested so late) that there was only time for one piece of clothing, and that was finished after midnight on Christmas Eve. Two years later, it's time for new clothes!

doll sitting on bookshelf in pink and lavender dress
A winter dress with a fuzzy skirt!

doll in yellow shirt and green pants
athletic pants and a too-tight t-shirt.

doll in orange sports bra and yellow skirt
a sports bra and a lettuce-edged skirt.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Destashing and freeskeining

Late last night, I had to turn my attention away from the boy doll, so I pulled out a lovely skein of Malabrigo that had been patiently waiting to become a hat. This was my first ever skein of Malabrigo, bought this summer, a really lovely shade of green in their thick-n-thin Aquarelle. The skein told me it wanted to be an Unoriginal Hat, but from looking at Ravelry, I could see that one skein wasn't enough for this particular hat. I decided to remove two rows from each repeat, and give it a try.

an unfinished knit cable hat, still on the needles

As the hat was taking shape, I was able to look at how much yarn was left, see how much was used up by each row, and realise that I did not have enough yarn to finish. I stopped there, and started over from the other end, knitting the rest of the skein and then right off the unfinished hat.

cable hat on head

This time I started half way through the chart, and did the second repeat with the same two rows missing. I managed to make it with a yard of yarn to spare.

cable hat on head

So very toasty warm!
Posted by Picasa


New boy gots a new pair of khakis! My son butchered a pair of khakis for his own nefarious purposes, and I got what was left for mine.

boy doll wearing vest scarf and khaki pants 
Posted by Picasa

A finished scarf

striped scarf hanging in front of a doorway 

The Noro scarf is done, now to wrap it!

striped scarf hanging in a tree 

close up on striped scarf 
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 19, 2009

face up

When making a babe, I always add the face before stuffing it. This is a bit of a gamble, because it's impossible to tell if the face really works until you've stuffed and finished it up.

knitted doll, with face, unstuffed
I managed to both add the face today, and stuff and finish it. I think I did okay! I figured out that the secret to making a boy--for me at least--was to make the mouth neutral enough that he doesn't look like an obvious girl.

knitted doll wearing scarf and vest

Still knitting

I'm having a little bit of project meandering right now. First of all, the scarf is finished, but I have no photos of it yet. It's lovely. I'm excited to share pictures.

I have been working hard on my spaghetti socks. I soon realised I'd lost the love of the project, but I kept slogging onwards. I want them done.

Then I tried them on. Turns out I hate them. I'm going to rip them out. Bye-bye, spaghetti socks!

I started another Knitted Babe this week. I'm attempting to make a boy. I'm not sure what to change to make it male. I will probably have to fall back on hair length stereotypes. And the mouth won't be a heart. I'm not enough of an artist to understand how to make the gender thing clear. The face will be going on next. I had some knitting time last night, but not time to work on the face, so I've added the limbs already. Once the face is on, I'll stuff him and finish up his head.

Oh, I came up with a good strategy for putting limbs on these dolls. Do the limbs one needle size bigger. It goes a little faster, and you don't need the limbs to be tight enough to keep stuffing contained.

I ordered 2 skeins of worsted yesterday for 2 specific projects. It might be in violation of my no-stashing goals, but I have good intentions with this stuff. I'm so jacked to knit this yarn that I knit it all last night in my dreams.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Microloan for wool

Today's microloan: Jose Antonio is a 74 year old Peruvian gentleman who has a family business making handmade sweaters and scarves. His microloan will help him buy wool. WOOOOL!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Knitting infidelity

Well, it seems I am not a project monogamist. As soon as I finished my dad's socks, and all I had on the needles was the scarf, I needed to have another project on the go. I pulled out a pair of socks that was featured in not one but two stuck-UFO posts, and got them back on track. Here's a recycled picture, because the socks, though I've been knitting on them for days, don't look any different. I ripped out the heels, added nearly an inch in length, and then redid the same heel. Fit problem fixed.

red/orange sock in progress, with yarn ball

Friday, December 11, 2009


I knit 10 rows of lace in the dark. Milanese lace.

That is all.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Finished Socks!

close up of the heel area of a sock
When the calendar told me it's December, I diverted myself back from the scarf to my dad's socks. I only had 20 rows left to knit, after all.

a sock hanging in front of foliage
Yarn: Dream in Color Cocoa's Kiss Smooshy
Pattern: Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks
Needle: Size 2 Knit Picks circular
Modifications: Toe up, used a Bordhi-style heel, increases every other row, positioned to mimic a gusset-style heel.

I've woven in the ends, but I am still weaving in extra yarn into the heel and ball-of-foot area, to add extra thickness and hopefully extend their life. The Smooshy socks I made myself started falling apart after less than a year of wear. So I'm trying to make sure these don't dissolve too quickly.

But Smooshy remains my favourite yarn for its colours. Such a divine dye-job!

2 socks lying on cement

Sunday, November 29, 2009

don't stop cookin cause i feel alright now

Well, after ordering yarn last Friday, I worked very hard on finishing the Smooshy socks in progress, so they'd be done before I got diverted to the next project. I've not finished them yet, but I think they're tall enough to start the cuff. And even with another project to love, these still get some attention.

socks knit toe-up, still on the needles, nearly finished, in charcoal grey

As soon as the Noro was in my hot little hands on Wednesday, I started on a scarf. It really is as addictive as all the other knitters say.

a striped scarf in progress, rolled up, sitting beside two cakes of yarn

Help! I've started knitting a scarf and I can't stop!

a striped scarf in progress, stretched out to about three feet in length

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Why, yes, I am still not stashing yarn frivolously, and all purchases are on a need-to-buy basis. The following yarn is all needed for gifts.

I have a coworker who recently knit the enticing Noro Scarf. I've been resisting the pull of this project for so long, but now that I've seen and witnessed it, I could no longer resist. The biggest deterrent was the cost. When I remembered I had $25 credit at the Loopy Ewe, that did me in. I bought Noro. The Noro is Silk Garden is colours 252 and 267. As always, the Loopy Ewe shipped it immediately by priority, and it arrived very quickly.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

4 Monstrous Heels

I really am a fan of the Bordhi heel from New Pathways. I think it's an exercise in excess, but I love the construction. For my dad's socks, I decided to do the Bordhi heel but, like I've often done, only increase every other row. This meant I could use her charts, but needed to construct my own formulas for when to start the increases. I calculated very carefully, and came up with a good number. By Friday I was done with the increases and Saturday I started the heels. After doing the short row heel base, I measured the sock and it came up a quarter inch short of what I'd expected. I went ahead and turned the heel, but even after turning the heel it was still a quarter inch short (surprise surprise). I kept convincing myself this was okay for a number of reasons, like it's just the slipped stitches pulling it in, with a big foot there's more room for error, and such. Mostly I was loathe to rip back all those increases just to add three rows before they started. But I had already built in a half inch negative ease in the length, and this shortage meant that now there was three quarters of an inch of negative ease in the length, and I knew this could mean the sock would be too short and fit weird.

I pig-headedly proceeded, despite my doubts, until I was nearly finished with the second heel. At that point, I was sitting in a cold car parked downtown, enjoying the seat-heaters (my family calls them heat-seaters), listening to S&G, waiting for a carpool of ballerinas to finish rehearsal, and knitting on heels. I started texting Ember about my worries, and as usual, talking it over with some one else helped me figure it out for myself. I knew exactly what to do, and it didn't involve ripping out a third of each sock to redo the increases, although it did involve ripping out two heels.

By evening, I was feeling like I'd been knitting heels all day. Which was totally accurate. After ripping out the heels and getting all 216 stitches back on the needles, I added three rounds of plain knitting after the increases and before the heel stitches. Then I did the heel as before. At the end of one completed heel, I measured, and got exactly my target length. I finished the second heel around 11pm last night, snuggled up in bed, watching The Colbert Report through Hulu on my husband's laptop.

Thee heels are done! From here on out, it's all easy knitting. I just hope that my best efforts with measurements will result in a properly fitted sock. Please fit, sock!

two unfinished socks, back to back, focused on the heels and increase section

Monday, November 16, 2009

An attitude adjustment

The neon socks I just finished knit up at an amazing speed. I couldn't stop knitting them. I was drunk on the speed. This was particularly emphasized by the fact that I only knit one at a time, since I wasn't sure about the design and only wanted to rip out one mistake. Knitting one sock at a time makes the sock feel like it's flying off the needles.

In contrast, I started a pair of socks yesterday for my dad. Going from socks for daughter to socks for my dad is a huge adjustment! I have to get used to the new adjusted pace of knitting these socks. Consider these numbers:

With the neon socks, I was knitting 44 stitches per row. This meant that every inch took 352 stitches.

With the new socks, at 72 stitches around, knitting both at once, I'm knitting 144 stitches per row. And with the smaller gauge, there are more rows per inch, so every inch takes 1584 stitches.

Unsurprisingly, these new socks seem to be creeping along. But that's okay. I like the knitting, I like the yarn, and I like the pattern. I may not be flying through the socks, but the steady progress keeps me happy.

two knitted sock-toes on circular needles in dark brown yarn 
Posted by Picasa

Kiva loan to a yarn store in Bolivia!

This nice little script will show the correct link until she's fully funded, then it will be another entrepreneur. The yarn store can be seen here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finished Object: Neon Socks!

green and orange socks, model standing on her toes
Enough complaining! I have completed the neon socks, and the grrl says she loves them.

close up on the orange ankle, showing the butterfly and the roll top
As you can see in the photos, I abandoned the idea of a picot cuff and went with the very simple but effective rolled top.

view of the green sock, with the butterfly ankle showing
These are knit from Baby Cashmerino, which provided the neonest colours we could find. She wanted bright yellow and hot pink, so this acid green and vibrant orange are her second choice.

both socks, heels together, so the contrast heels look like chequerboards
The sock is a basic sock, no pattern necessary. They're knit toe-up with a short-row contrasting heel. The butterfly on the cuff is from the Kai-Mei pattern I knit recently.

green and orange socks, toes together

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quickie lil dress

My coworker made the cutest knitted babe. One morning, I had a few spare minutes while waiting for my kids to vacate the bathroom. I grabbed a few sewing scraps and assembled a quickie dress to gift to the little babe. This pictures shows Princess Anne modelling the dress before it was gifted.

woolen dollie with red hair wearing a yellow and green dress

I'm getting tired of this

My daughter wanted neon ankle socks in two different colours with a butterfly on the ankle. The butterfly is from the Kai-Mei pattern I just finished.

I started with a picot top and Bordhi's sky-sock construction. My daughter thought the butterfly was upside down. That meant I needed to knit toe-up.

an unfinished orange sock cuff with a butterfly embellishment
With the second try, I got the butterfly right. I used Bordhi's sidestream pattern.

a bright green ankle sock with butterfly embellishment
The sidestream pattern wasn't right for this sock. It made the sock all weirdly shaped and the butterfly was squashed. Also, the picot on the toe-up construction didn't lie right.

a green ankle sock with a garter-stitch triangle gusset
Next up I did a standard short-row heel. This roll-top is still awaiting her approval.

an orange sock with a butterfly embellishment on the ankle and a green heel
I like that she wants socks, but it's really challenging to match both available yarn and my knitting abilities to the things she invents in her brain. I'd love to crank out exactly what she imagines, but it's just not that easy.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Evolution of a Resolution

Okay, I looked at my stash. Really looked at it. It's easier to look at in Ravelry, of course, than it is to survey it, as it's scattered about my house, so I did. I browsed my stash in Ravelry. And I really really acknowledged that maybe I have enough yarn. Maybe I should really really stop buying yarn.

Except there's that sock yarn club I hope to join.

Okay, so I'll stop buying yarn, except for the sock club.

Except that I want to make more socks for my parents, and I might not have enough parental yarn in my stash.

Okay, so I'll stop buying yarn, except for the sock club and for gifts.

And then I got that Jared Flood booklet. And I don't have any chunky yarn for the Quincy hat. I've started one in Cascade 220, but that's not the right size.

Okay, so I'll stop buying yarn, except for the sock club and for gifts and for circumstances in which I don't already have the yarn in my stash. So no more gratuitously buying sock yarn because it's pretty, but if what I have is completely insufficient for the project I've gotta make, then it's okay to buy. But no 'stashing'. We'll see how that goes.

So my daughter described me a pair of socks she wanted to wear. And she wanted them to be neon. Yeah, I don't have any neon on my stash. So I bought this:

orange and green cashmerino