Saturday, December 31, 2011


Last summer, I got a wild crush on a skein of yarn called Archangel. I've had crushes before, and I try to be careful not to indulge all my crushes. This particular skein was a super-bulky Malabrigo Rasta yarn, and I really didn't have any need or excuse to buy a super-bulky skein. I admired the skein online, but didn't buy.

When December rolled around and my crush on this yarn remained undiminished, I decided it had earned itself some validity and could be purchased. I even realised that Malabrigo carries colourways across the bases, and I could purchase Archangel in other bases, too.  But the photo that entranced me the most remained the super-bulky Rasta.

I did order, and got Archangel in Rasta, as well as a worsted skein in Rios. It's prettiest in Rasta, but the other skein is a beauty on its own.

I mentioned earlier that it's hard to find good grapey-purple yarn. So I just had to get that "Eggplanty" by Alisha Goes Around. Plus some sock needles, of course. My knitpicks size ones and twos have all broken in the cable.

Let's just take a closer look at that archangel, shall we?

The only thing that's stopping me from casting on is that I have lots of things in progress that are for other people.


I think it's love.

....and socks!

My son is fond of  handmade woolies, because he's fond of being warm. He also has feet that are challenging to fit. And it turns out his feet also don't get along well with cotton socks.  I've been working to find a good sock to make for him. My most recent attempt involved trying a brand new Cat Bordhi heel, the Sweet Tomato heel.

The first socks were made with Dream in Color Smooshy in the colour Black Parade.  As Black Parade is also an album he likes, this was a happy coincidence.

The first pair seemed to be a success, so I made a second pair following the same formula. This second pair is made from a new favourite yarn of mine, Dragonfly Fibers Djinn Sock in the colourway Starry Night.

These new heels are made with a series of wedges. I'm still getting used to them, but they seem to work for an effective heel for these socks.


Last Christmas, I gave my man some yarn for Christmas, and then made the socks in the coming weeks. Not too long ago, he mentioned that they were his favourite homemade socks, because they are so soft and comfortable. I said, "If you think those are soft, wait til I make you socks from Bugga!" but then I remembered I already had.

Hm. A quick search shows I never blogged those Bugga socks. Darnit!  But it turns out, he likes the Christmas socks even better than Bugga socks.

I decided to buy more of the yarn, which was when I discovered it was discontinued. I guess the Knitters didn't love that yarn as much as I did!  They still had some at discounted prices on their website. I'm not fond of yarn with white stripes, but I found 2 colourways that were husband-appropriate (one a rerun of what we've already done) and ordered them.

This year, I managed to cast on the socks on Christmas Eve. I knit on them all day, then tossed them into a gift bag before going to bed. He unwrapped the works-in-progress for Christmas and I just kept on knitting them. Last night I bound off, today I wove in ends, and they're already on his feet.

They are made completely identical to the previous pair. The colourway is pumpkin pie. The yarn is Vivace by Sweet Paprika and I wish it wasn't discontinued! It's 100% merino, and he's gotten a year's wear out of the first pair and they're still looking good.

A knitter's classic pattern

I feel like I've completed a Knitter's rite of passage. I have knitted a Baby Surprise Jacket. This is a vintage pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman, the legendary godmother of all modern knitting, and there are jillions of these jackets out there.

It starts out as one long line of knitting:

You increase and decrease where you are told. There are no knitting instincts at play here, you just have to follow directions because it makes no sense while knitting.

When you are done doing as you are told, it looks like this:

So you have an origami moment, and fold it up to look like this:

Then follows some seaming, edging and button sewing, and  you have a baby jacket!

Add booties, and you've got yourself a gift.

A nice phone call this week told me the set has arrived. Baby is 7 weeks old, and they put them right on her, so they seem to fit okay.

The yarn is a club yarn I got back in 2007, Duet XXL. I didn't make as good a use of the contrast yarn as I'd thought. I thought the edging would be cute in contrast, but it hardly shows. It was chosen as a good colour for either a boy or a girl, and the yarn is very soft and lofty.

Pom pom makers! (and stuff)

Amy inquired about the pompom makers, and I have to say, they rock! I don't seem to make pompoms full enough or secure enough  when I do the cardboard-circle method. The makers might be gadgety, but I am a convert.

I made more hats...

The ballerina liked her brother's Jayne hat, and wanted one for herself, but in purple.  I've discovered that it's not easy finding really grape-koolaid-purple yarn, but finally found a nice bulky at a local store. The hat is huge and slouchy with a big old pompom. The yarn is Willa by Jupiter Moon Farm in the colourway Concord.

I've been trying to get a modeled photo, but I never can ask at the right time. And it's Nutcracker season, so the girl is hardly ever home! (and if she's home, she's asleep. Like now.)

Her hat was admired by the ballet-carpool buddy, so I made a second. The yarn is also Jupiter Moon Farm, but this time in Chadwick. I had to adjust the stitch count, because the yarn is worsted, but otherwise the hat is identical.  The gal really wanted white, which wouldn't have been my choice, ("It's going to get so grubby!") but I love how it looks.

Those hats took the biggest maker I have:

(I saw an even bigger one at the yarn store. I didn't buy it, but it would be fun.)

I also got the teeny-tiny pompom maker, because I must be an addict.

That was perfect for baby booties for a nephew's infant:

Compare to another pair of booties made a year ago with a cardboard pompom maker:

Well, I can see a difference.

The booties had a matching hat, which I made with the pattern Tricable from an ebooklet published by Wooly Wormheads.

The yarn is a worsted handdyed superwash merino I got from No Two Snowflakes.

It's so hard to know if baby things will fit, and if they'll fit at the same time! We got a lovely thank you note from the mama, and hope they managed to keep the little boy warm a few times.

Finished Socks

The socks have been made and delivered, so I can post without worry of spoilers. The socks that ran out of yarn midway up the leg turned out quite satisfactorily, I do believe! By switching from pattern to cuff at the yarn transition, the difference in appearance of yarns was minimized.

These socks were an adaptation of a Nancy Bush adaptation of a gentleman's sock pattern from 1895. The lozenge pattern and the cross-hatching on the cuff maintain the original look, but the heel itself is my own favourite style, and the tapering of the lozenges on the toes was something I charted. The original (adapted) pattern can be found in Knitting Vintage Socks.

The two yarns were Dream in Color Everlasting and Wollmeise 100% Merino Sock. Both yarns are 8 ply, but the WM was a little softer and was less likely to have plies causing havoc with my knitting. Both are very lovely yarns, though, with very luminous colours.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

100 grams is not enough

Note to self...

When knitting socks for my dad and his size 13 feet, 100 grams is not enough. I seemed to know this last year, when I used a contrast yarn for toes and heels, and used every last yard of the 100 grams of the main yarn.

The yarn is Everlasting from Dream in Color (which I also used this summer), an 8-ply 100% merino sock yarn. As it became apparent that I was running out of yarn before making the leg tall enough, I started considering my options. A quick search of DIC retailers did not come up with any skeins in the same colourway (Black & White).  I first considered using a black DIC in the different sock yarn Smooshy to make a black contrast cuff. But Smooshy is a very different base, and wouldn't blend well. I realised I have a yarn in a very similar base, and I even have it in slate grey and 100% merino.  It's a skein of Woolmeise, and while I have a small but steady collection of WM, I have never actually opened and knit with my own skein of the stuff. (I knit with it once, but some one else's skein.)

Turns out, the skein is a fairly good match. Not as excellent as the picture might suggest, but impressively similar. It has less variegation, and a slightly different hue.

I have busted open the skein and wound it, and am ready to graft it into the sock. I am confident and optimistic about the results. What makes me crabby is that I should have just knit the entire sock with that skein instead, since the WM is a 150 gram skein, and used the Everlasting for some one with smaller feet. I know better, and maybe now I will remember that.

From now on, either WM, or contrast toes and heels for my father's socks. I will remember this.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Loooong term project

I have been gathering materials for quite some time in order to make a Shipwreck. I did some trading and purchasing on Ravelry to get enough Skinny Bugga! in the colourway Eurota Purplewing. I spent a lot of time looking at beads, and before I was done had ordered 3 different sets.

The knitting began in May. It's a circular shawl, so it starts like this:

Once the centre three charts are knit, the knitter strings beads onto the yarn and knits a bajillion rounds, adding beads. The beads need to be strung on before you knit. This involves getting the right number of beads onto your yarn, and then sliding the beads down the strand as you progress through the skein.  It's very fiddly.

I started knitting the beaded part on vacation this summer. The beads are supposed to be placed randomly. I had intended to bring a die to cast to determine where to place the beads, but I didn't. I found that I wasn't very good at generating satisfactorily random numbers, so I ran to the gift shop for a deck of cards.  Cards 1-6 indicate the numbered stitch to add the bead. Cards 7-Q are assigned the numerical values 1-6 again. A King card indicates knit a few past 6 and add 2 beads.

 The shawl is sitting in the basement and gets grabbed on a regular basis, but I'm only about 10 rounds into the process.  (ETA--Did I mention there's 580 stitches per round?)  There's a whole lot of beaded knitting remaining.

On accuracy

In 2008, I purchased a new scale, and was very pleased with it. Even at the time, we acknowledged that it was a little light on accuracy, but it did the trick.

Enough time has passed that I can now replace it with one that has increased accuracy.

Exhibit A:

On the left, a stuffed puff weighs 3 grams. I weighed a small ball of yarn and also got three grams, and therefore thought I might be able to get a full puff out of it. I could not.

Exhibit B:

The old scale's range of accuracy is revealed. Items weighing both 2.3 g and 3.5 g both were assessed at 3g. Elementary math students would recognize that as very sloppy rounding.

The scale is tiny, but it does the trick.

Maybe in another 3 years, I'll buy with with accuracy to two decimal points?

Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything

A week ago when I posted that I'd purchased acrylic yarn, I honestly believed I'd be posting the final product that night. The knitting did indeed go quickly, but I cast on 5 times before I got the size right. Yesterday the hat all came together and it's done.

The hat is fashioned after a hat worn by the character  Jayne in the show Firefly. I mostly followed directions here, based on careful scrutiny of the show. I held the yarn doubled and used a size 11 needle.

I'll go back to wool, now, thanks!

Oh, and I bought a little Pom Pom Maker because my pompoms always look like crap.  Such fun!!