Tuesday, March 31, 2009

yeah for Socks!

I have to admit that I am becoming totally addicted to hand made socks. For one things, the teenagers wouldn't dream of "borrowing" them so they come back to me when I put them through the wash. They're comfortable They actually draw complements from people - I think it's funny that people would notice socks, but they do. Most importantly, perhaps, they're just plain fun to knit. Except for the heels - I'm still grooving on the heels. I'm don't break out into hives when it's time to do them anymore, but I still feel a little shakey. I was worried about the bind off, but I found a new method that was a piece o' cake:

Knit 2, put the stitches on the left hand needle and knit them together. Knit one, put the two stitches onto the left hand needle and knit them together. That was the instruction. What I did a little differently is to purl the purls of my k1p1 rib. It seemed to look just a little smoother, although I'm not sure it would matter.

These were knit two at a time on a long circular - this is my absolute favorite way to make them. It looks really impressive while you're working on them even though it's not very hard and you have both done at once. Here's a little secret - I haven't actually woven in the top ends yet. I wasn't sure if I've made them tall enough so I'm trying them out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It looks like Spring with the flowers blooming on schedule, but it sure as heck hasn't felt much like it! We're still in our woolies. Which is good since it took me a bit longer than expected to finish the hat my dd requested.

I'm naming it the Crazy Cap. It looks kind of crazy with a healthy mix of novelty and traditional yarns. But what's really crazy is the construction.

My friend Allison described to me a hat that had a band made of different yarns. In our back and forth, I got it in my head that the stripes were knit up and down. It was only after I'd invested several hours in to the hat that she sent a picture and I realized my folly. (On the hat she described, the stripes go around the head) A sane person might have quit then realizing the enormity of the endeavor I had launched. But it was pretty and I'd already gone so far and when it comes to knitting, I don't always have such a clear head. The problem is mutli-fold: first there are a whole bunch of ends to knit in. Then, half of them are novelty yarns that either unravel or don't like to stay tucked in and there's the potential for a whole lot of bulk on the side where the ends are being knit in! One might try knitting four or six rows with a color to reduce the trouble. This one is strictly two rows per color. The band took two weeks. The top was completed in a single night (albeit a long one). I can't say that I'd climb this mountain again, but I am happy to have reached the top. The hat FITS!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a little knitting, a big trip to the Zoo

Spring is coming! I'm absolutely certain of it. We've had two - count them - two warm weekends in a row! Last one entailed a trip to the zoo for a little photo Safari - these were taken by the 6 yo (except for the one she is in - that's the goat) Knitting is happening - I've managed one heel of a a pair of socks without too much trouble (yeah). Now I have to get psyched for the other.

I'm also contemplating seriously designing my own sweater. It's a big leap maybe - I've made one for myself and a few others for little people. But here's the thing - I really like the idea of avoiding seaming (I'm really not good at it!) The patterns I've seen that I like involve seaming. Therefore, it seems I have no choice but to design my own. For guidance I will have a book called Custom Knits (deserves the 5 stars it has on Amazon). Plus, I saw a Knitty Gritty episode in which the designer showed how to design a sweater. Any suggestions? Any cautions?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I just saw an add for yarnmarket.com featuring a 217 yard ball of yarn for the bargain price of $299 - that's something like $14 a yard (if my calculations are right and they might not be).

Talk about pressure to pick the right pattern!

I'm not questioning the value of the yarn - it's Muskox Vicuna from Windy Valley. From what 've read, this is a very difficult thing to obtain so it might very well be a real deal at $14 a yard.
After all, these animals live only high up in the Andes and produce just 4 oz of harvestable fiber in a year.

But still...

What hat could be good enough? What scarf elegant enough? What mittens worthy enough? What if (gasp) the item were too big or (horrors) too small! At that price, it would have to be absolutely, stunningly perfect, right? Just think of the agony an error would bring. To say nothing of how devastating it would be should the knitted item wander off. If you leave a hat in a movie theater (for instance) you're not happy about it, but replacing it isn't such a big deal. But a $300 hat? One that not only cost that much but took hours to make? Could the joys of knitting with such an exotic fiber really be worth the potential downside?

At least there is free shipping...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Baby hats

This is my new niece. Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wearing a darling hat? Did I make that hat? No, I did not. Some other very talented knitter made that hat and a gorgeous matching dress, which she is also wearing in this picture, underneat the "I love my big brother" bib. If you are thinking of knitting a dress for a baby - go ahead, babies looking darling in knitted dresses, especially if there is a matching hat.

This is the hat that I made for her. It might fit her in a year or two!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy Kitchen, Clean kitchen

DH's departure for the Congo left me with extra jobs like grocery shopping, which is a bad thing for many reasons. I am not as good of a bargain hunter as he is and I'm too suseptible to packaging. What can I say, I like to try new things?
The other problem is that I'm just not that good at following the list and sure enough, I found I was missing bunches of items when we got home - chief among them was covers for the Swiffer. Somehow I remembered to get the spray stuff - but that's really of no use without something to push it around on the floor with!

But I'm a knitter - we knitters knit things - things like Swiffer covers. :)

I have a well respected knitting friend who questions why would someone go to the trouble of making something to replace something that is disposable. I totally respect and appreciate this perspective, and really all things being equal, I prefer to toss than to create more laundry. I'm also not convinced - given how dirty our floors are - that by the end of the job the knitted cover isn't just pushing around the dirt (we usually go through 2 or 3 disposable covers -I know, ewwww, but I've got 5 kids, a dog and a muddy back yard).
Anyway, I have lots of cotton and the covers are a quick knit. And the colorful cover makes the kitchen feel happier somehow. Still, mine may end up being just for display - DH is back now and back in charge of the shopping.

Monday, March 02, 2009

headband heart ache

For Valentine's Day, DH left town, headed for the Congo. As consolation, he left me a gift certificate to the yarn shop. I splurged on some lovely pink angora - soft, soft, soft - just like I've been dreaming about.

I started with a head band. Since it was VDay, I made one from the One Skein Wonders book that had the XO cable and with hearts on the inside. It just happened to be made out of the exact yarn I bought.

I will say that this is quite possibly the most confusing pattern I have ever encountered. It's made in one, wide piece and then folded in half. On one side is the cable pattern, which is over 16 rows and the other is the hearts, which is over 12 rows. Fortunately, they're both pretty easy to memorize so it wasn't too bad after several repeats. The color is perfect. The head band is warm. But here's the problem:

It slips down over my eyes. I am almost constantly having to push it back up again!

It's not that it's too loose. It might be that it's too tight, but not by much if that's the problem. It might be that the yarn is too slippery. I don't know what to do. I really like it, but I can't stand having to fuss with it. I could pick up stitches and turn it into a hat. I could frog and try a different pattern (I certainly had to frog plenty of times while knitting).

This had kind of stymied my progress on other projects with this yarn. I'm thinking of a scarf or maybe just a neck gaitor - have I mentioned how soft it is? I just want to have it right near my

I made the headband in part because my hair had gotten so long and scraggly that I was forced
to wear it in a pony tail that didn't look good with a hat. But I can say good by to the pony tails for awhile - I have a new short and sassy do! :)