Saturday, October 25, 2014

Knitters are the Best

I have some friends who are new knitters, and I give them yarn all the time—I knit for them too, making socks or hats, or scarves or what ever they need or that I think they need.

I've given away needles and other stuff too. Why not? I have a huge stash—no make that,  a SABLE, I might as well share it now, and not wait. But giving away yarn is casting bread on the water—it comes back seven fold!   (a SABLE is Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectency)

Last night I was with Monica, a knitting friend from the LIC knitting group –a group she never attends anymore, (she lives across the street) and one I haven't attended in months now.

One of her friends mother, who both knit and worked in a yarn store, has now that she as given up knitting, and gave her SABLE away. So Monica ended up with boxes and boxes of yarn.(very big boxes, in a very small NYC apartment. 

She culled the yarns she wanted. And the rosewood needles, and other stuff, and made a very small dent was made in the piles of yarns.

Last night Monica invited me, and another friend over, too. And while I went home with a tall shopping bags worth of yarn, and Miss O, did the same, the yarn is still piled high. A third person is coming later in the week –She put dibs on the merino wool (I grab 1 small bag, (7 skeins/each 110 yards )in a beautiful green—not enough for a sweater, but then, I like vests better--)But there are massive piles or merino left--in sweater sizes quantities.

The best yarns I found are at the ends of the spectrum. I found a big bag of Wendy's Peter Pan yarn—a nice grade acrylic—in a real clown barf colorway..Oops, I mean a real vibrant polychrome. A project was started with the first of 9 skeins, a hat perhaps, or small sweater—and a bit of Lion Brand wool ease in there, too. The project will be frogged, and the eight + skeins will be plenty to make a pair of sweaters. for the granddaughters.   
I might pair this yarn up with Lion Brand's Bonbon mini skeins, and break the polychrome up, with  stripes of solids... I am thinking VERTICAL stripes—I-cords—similar to the ones I used to make the flower stems in this sweater.(made some years ago for another granddaughter.  Maybe ending with pompoms—or not pompoms, but something else.. I'll tell you more about the other end of the spectrum next time I post.. and other fun stuff.

Meanwhile my second little polychrome project is well underway. I know it doesn't look it from here.  This boring blue is a lining (to a hat naturally) the color work comes next. Colorwork I have already started --just a half dozen rows, but.... This is an improved project. The prototype had some flaws, (include getting moth eaten) and this hat will be an improvement.

I sew, and one of the things I like about sewing patterns is 1 pattern will often have 2 or 3 view. A basic dress might be shown with a collar, and with out, or with sleeves, or with out, or some times with 2 or 3 different sleeves.

I have an idea—1 chart, 3 projects, a simple hat, (knit flat) a lined hat, (knit in the round) and a cowl, (in double knitting) Not really as set, but 3 ideas for how to use a polychrome yarn—for 3 different skill levels.. Done in 3 different colors; different solid colors, and different polychomes. In each case, about half the directions are “follow the chart”--so making the chart (done) was the main part of the pattern writing. The other major part is knitting the samples. I am midway through sample 2, and sample 3, the cowl, has the least work required--(no top!)

But with this influx of new yarns to my SABLE, I better get my fingers working!  I have all this new fiber to knit up. And the holidays are coming--and I have nothing knit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Polychrome Yarns

Or as they are more commonly know in the knitting world, clown barf yarns.You might never have heard that name before, but you know exactly what I mean.  

And yet in spite of that name, we all once in a while fall victim to loving skeins of it. It's worse in the early years, when those bright colorful skeins look so wonderful and  we are unsure of what color we want.

There are new colors and kinds and weights of clown barf all the time. They look so pretty in the skein, all the colors in such pretty harmony. Even seasoned knitters, who have disaster after disaster with polychromes, are still sometimes suckered into buying another skein (or two, or three!) every once in a while.  If they are not suckered into buying these skeins themselves, the receive gifts of them from well meaning friends, who present them with single skeins of them as gifts.

We love they way the colors line up in the skein. We keep thinking we'll get those pretty, balanced pools of color when we knit them up.   Then when we do finally take them to the needles,  what looked so pretty in skein—the beautiful ombre, the colorful skein, becomes, in very short order, a pile of clown barf. YOU know exactly what I mean.

So what to do with those skeins? Toss them? (Never!) There are solutions. Ravelry has a group, (for everything) but one especially for these yarns. You can, depending on the color patterns and how they are printed—knit scarves or hats that self stripe, or self pattern into something like a argyle type design.
Sometimes, things work out--but the results often seem more suited to a child garment rather than an adults.(That is one of my darling granddaughter, when she was 6 or so, modeling a Meg Swanson design.--Knit circa 2005)

Another option is to pair with a solid color. Narrow stripes of polychrome, paired with narrow stripes of a solid can create a beautiful design. Using polychromes in stranded knitting can work, too. Though long colors runs that self stripe are more suited.

Here are some tricks for picking the solid yarn.
1—the solid yarn should not have any color in the mix. Sometimes, this means, only white or black are are available for coordinating solids.

2—the solid yarn should be about the same color value as the polychrome—Pastels match best with other pastels, mid tones match best with mid tones, dark colors match best with dark tones.

3—try for high contrast. A colorway of red violet/violet/blue violet and peach, is best matches with a yellow (yellow being the contrasting color to violet) A color way of blue, blue green, green goes best with a coral (the contrasting color for blue is orange, for green is red, for blue green, a reddish orange or coral—which can go pastel, (and still be seen as coral, or go dark, and be sort of a brick-ish red.)

Other options (and other rules!) can be found in Margaret Radcliffe's book The Essentials of Color Knitting. (a treasure trove of ideas!)

Once you have your matching solid, you have to decide: should the polychrome predominate, or should the solid? I tend to like the solid to predominate—but that is my taste and choice.

What do you think? A good use, or not? More on this bit of knitting tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hats are Finished

 After looking all day Friday, I realized that I didn't have any more Red Heart white yarn.

A lot had been used up making a prototype hat (the Milk Maids bonnet) and what little was left (which was likely, but not positively, enough) was used for some swatches.. and even if I undid the swatches, the yarn was cut...

So off I went to the local box store (AC Moore) and quickly found the right yarn (Well actually it Bernat, but..) and while looking for some drab colors of sock yarn (I am easing my S-I-L into hand knit socks.. once he is addicted, I know brighter colors will be fine, but for now, grey, or navy, or forest greens are preferred) I found one I liked—but they only had 2 skeins (Kroy, color way eclipse—a self striping yarn of greys, blues, and white) but... they also had this--Meadow Colors.

Do I already have some skeins of this yarn? I don't think so, or if I do, its a duller version of the color way. Do I need more sock yarn? Hell NO! What with knitting sweaters and hats and stuff for the babies, and hats I have designed, socks have gone by the wayside. 

I have completed 2 pairs of sock this year! That is, in 2014. If you go back 12 months, the number increases to 3. 2013 wasn't much better, but 2012—a dozen! And some years before that, more than a dozen in a 12 month period.

So I am not knitting socks like a fiend, but I am still buying sock yarn as if I were.

But enough of my foibles. The Hats. 

Here they are. Off, they are simple triangles, and simple candy corn. Refold, and you get a somewhat squarish shape of a baby bonnet. On HEAD, (who is really a woman’s small size head, they become cute little caps, that cover the ears. On the girls, they will be less stretched, and the top of the hat will stick up a bit more. But even on HEAD, they look like candy corns.

Of course, I now have a huge amount of acrylic yarn.. The white might find its self paired up with some solid red and green, and an Christmas ombre (red white and green) to become Christmas stocking for the girls.

My DD and S-I-L live in a small (2 bedroom) apartment, and DD has laid down strict orders for the holidays. 1 (per child, or 2 in total) toy as gifts, per household. So Grandfather (and wife) and Grandma (and husband) , and the other Grandpa, (and wife) and I, each can only give 1 toy (or 1 set of toys). This is still a lot of toys, (4 toys for each girl—not counting what ever their parents buy!).

We are not limited to only 1 gift. I can make hats, or mittens, or Christmas stockings, or buy earrings, (the girls have pierced ears) or clothing or put money in their savings account. The limit is just on toys.

Hats are definitely on the list, and maybe Christmas stockings, too, and earrings, and of course, a set of toys!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Corn-y and Sweet!

(from yesterday)

The yellow stripe (and a third of the hat) done.

The next row will start the orange middle of the corn kernel, and by the time I get to the white portion, the hats will have so few stitches to work, they will be a snap to finish.

Meanwhile,  my DD still has complaints, No Hair hat (cabbage patch kids style) yet, no pompoms, yet. Her complaints got me thinking. Next up, (or maybe not next, but very soon!) some pompom hats... I'll knit a mesh, and cover it with pompoms—for some wild and crazy hair... the girls will have pompoms galore! I have the Clover pompom makers, (in every size but the jumbo pompom) so making the pompoms will be easy (or at least easy-ish) and this will be a fun hat set of hats to make up.

First up, I’ll make a couple of dozen pompoms, because even with the clover makers, these will take some time.. And I will need dozens and dozens... (I think the hats will end up with pompom pony tails, too)

At the same time, I'll be working on my color work hats (the samples to go with the pattern I wrote up last month.) Busy, busy, I will be. Likely the pompom hats will get written up too—because I think they will be too cute for words.

But getting back to the hat at hand--the basic shape of the candy corn hat, (unlike many I have seen) is a classic candy corn shape. 4 decreases per round, to make a steep sided triangle. This shape is very similar as I pointed out to a flat toe shape, OR an one style of after thought heel shape. The scrap of paper shows, how, when pulled open this shape makes a sort of square and will easily cover the girls ears, with out coming down so to low on their forehead.

So maybe by tomorrow, the hats will have a complete orange stripe, (and I'll be ready for the white and the finish-) Or maybe I'll get distracted, and get less done.. but I will still be easy to have them finished by next week.


Here it is tomorrow—and I never posted yesterday! But I did get started on the orange stripe of the candy corn hat, and with every round it gets more and more like a hat. Clearly, the white germ of the corn kernel will stick up a bit from the girls heads.. but that is fine. It will just serve to accentuate the candy corn shape.
I also took a moment, when I didn't feel like knitting, to weave in the ends from the cast on—I didn't do the same with the tails from the color change, but I will, and likely before I finish the knitting. The rounds are going faster and faster—about ½ of the stitches have already be decreases and it will only get faster to knit a round with each additional decrease.

I like the look of finer yarns, and the details you can get with smaller stitches, but knitting with a worsted weight yarn is so much faster.  And while I love wools and natural fibers, I also love the clean bright colors of these Red Hear yarns. These are not the colors of a real corn kernel, but they are a perfect match for candy corn. These hats will be sweet delights when they are completed.

My head is still to big to be a good model for baby hats, but its does show how the hat will fit--with the sides of the kernel coming down over the ears. No ties, because modern thinking has made ties a safety hazard, but the fit will be snug enough the hats should stay put.  Though not if Miss C has her way... She is not happy wearing a hat, any hat, and will do her best to remove it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Socks Were a Success

I baby sat two teething darlings last night when their parents went out to celebrate their 2nd annivesary. The girls were generally good, but had their cranky moments as teething babies will do. Miss C has two lower teeth, (no upper) but Miss J has 4 teeth—both of her upper and lower eye teeth, and is working on more.

I noticed after my summer bout of sickness, that I was much more sensitive to the cat –and had allergic reactions ever week after I visited—so I have been taking an allergy pill each week before I go visit. I forgot yesterday, and spent this morning with itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling.

But the good news was the socks seem to be a perfect fit. The Chinese Long Tail cast on is stretchy enough, the sock height is right, and so is the foot. So Yay! This morning I wove in the tails and trimmed them—tomorrow they will go back to my S-I-L permanently.

I get delayed in starting the candy corn hats—I have (of course!) yellow, orange and white yarns.. but the orange yarn (Lion Brand Wool) was a pumpkin orange (actually a very attractive orange color) but not candy corn orange.

Smiley's Yarn (my local yarn store) was having a sale this week, and nothing on sale came in three appropriate shades, so the hats are being worked in the fail proof Red Heart—which comes in every color of the rainbow, and then some. The girls will get proper wool hats for the winter (December, January, and February) but for now, acrylic candy corn hats will do.

I looked through Ravelry  and didn't find a pattern I liked, so I am winging it.

First off, a pretty cast on—because I want something pretty to frame the girls faces. Channel Isle fit the bill. Then a few rows of garter, a natural go with for the Channel Isle cast on, and something to prevent a rolled edge. (I really don't like rolled edges). I worked the garter bit flat, I know the tricks about wrapping and turning, (and have used them) but when the garter stitches are needed at a cast on edge, I think it's just as easy to work flat, and sew the mini seam.

The shaping will be simple—4 decreases ever other round, to make a steep sloped triangle –not to dissimilar to the shape of a french/flat toe on a sock. A simple triangle, when worn, will change shape, (similar to the second image) and the sides will come lower on the head than center front.. so these hats will cover their ears..

Currently the girls have their Daddy's Little Deviled Eggs Hats, which fit their heads, but don't cover their ears.(and are wool) Not covering their ears is not an issue when cold days are in the 50°f (or about 12 to 15° c (I didn't look that up—I am just guessing—but I know I am close to being right)--but soon enough then will need more.
(Those are their puffy petal sweaters—made to fit for the moment—and now quickly becoming croped and ¾ sleeved!)--

My DD want cabbage patch kids “hair” hats.. but these are a lot of effort for heads that are still growing—maybe next year, when their head are closer to full sized. But they will get some sort of mock hair hats for christmas. I am just not sure which—maybe a viking helmet type hat, with braids.

And a bonus—one of my UFO's (a pair of secret socks) got a few rounds work –So my knitting mojo is coming back.. and the next few weeks should result in a number of FO's.

(The photo's of the girls are courtesy of their grandma, Lynne--from last weeks visit to the zoo)

Friday, October 10, 2014


Well as done as they can be.

Every stitch worked, and the tips of the square toes grafted. But I want my S-I-L to try them on –and to make sure they fit before I weave in the ends. If they are too short or too long, undoing the graft is possible and more rows can be knit, or some undone. If they are perfect, I will finish them at the spots. It doesn't take much to weave in the ends. The tails of the cast on have already been woven in (and here is a little prayer that the top of the sock fits comfortably!)

Now What?

Well baby hats.. maybe a quick set of Candy Corn hats...If they are done by next week (and that is possible) the girls would have the use of them for the rest of the month, and most of the next.. Candy corn hat would be good right up to Thanksgiving.

Cabbage Patch kids “hair” hats have been requested. Most of the patterns are for crochet, but knitting does have a loop stitch, and the “hair” is just strands threaded into the background –be it crochet or knitting.  But loop stitch is tedious.. and all the strands to cut and weave? I just don't want to take this on now!  Maybe after I some projects done.

I also have in my queue a set of color work hats—One knit flat, one in the round, and the same basic pattern/chart used for a “smoke ring”type cowl. I love this pattern, and I want to knit up some samples and get the pattern published.

Sitting on a open shelf in my craft room, there are still 5 bags of “sock kits”-- ones I made up over 2 years ago—and I still love to knit socks. These very simple ones I just knit for S-I-L were pleasurable (even though they were plain vanilla in pattern and yarn.) I really love knitting socks.

There are sweaters on my list, too. A sweater set made up of a solid shell (in sock yarn) paired with a cardigan in alpaca, in a DK rose semi solid. For years, I have gone through winters and never really felt cold, but last winter, I froze. I never felt warm! It was a cold winter, colder than average, with more than average snow fall, but I was disproportionately cold. I really want a super warm alpaca sweater to slip on. A fine thin one (I don't like bulky sweaters) and still really warm (and alpaca is just that!)

And this list had even give a mention of all the UFO's I have!

I think the candy corn hats for the girls might be first--(their Deviled Eggs hats from the spring fit—but not well—they don't cover their ears, and while that is fine now, every day get colder!

They need matching socks and mittens too... thought they are very unhappy with the idea of anything covering their feet—Their socks will be small, but not that small--something knee sock length to make them hard to pull off.

Well I better get knitting!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Hello, again

Last week at this time, my S-I-L's socks were about 6.5 inches long in the foot when the first of the skeins ran out. Measuring on the front/instep side, there were over 13 inches. This pleased me, because the back/sole part of the sock, what with the flap and gusset is longer than the front.. but with 13 inches of front, I knew there would be plenty of enough yarn in the single remaining skein to finish the foot.

I wrote a blog post then, on Monday to report my progress. But I didn't get a photo taken.

Finally on Thursday I got the photo taken. But by then, the blog post was so out of date, it needed to be re-written. That never happened.

Not a lot of knitting happened, either. Instead, I was busy having an affair of sorts, with Don Draper. Marathon is hardly the word for it.. 6 seasons of Mad Men in 7 days!

I noticed some fun details... Peter Campbell and Trudy start out in an apartment—furnished with Danish Modern furniture a style my mother loved. (I too tend to like modern furniture) My mother couldn't afford to buy all new furniture, but she did buy at this time a single chair (the same chair with green cushions) that Peter and Trudy have. Actually it was a bit earlier. We had the chair while still in the small apartment (between Webster Avenue and Park Avenue in the Bronx.)  It's the chair my brother crashed into one hot night, and broke the skin near his eyebrow, and needed stitches. We moved from that apartment some time between 1960/61. We stayed in the same local parish, (but about 10 blocks away.) They kept that chair till they moved from the Bronx in 1972 (this date I remember clearly) 

In seasons 4 and 5, I saw clothes I remembered—one of the playboy bunnies wears a pique fabric, in yellow, (I had a dress in the same textured fabric, but not in yellow, and not the same style..) I also had a dress very similar to one that Sally wears... (same style, different color).. It was at times all very familiar--and not. 

I was a child, older than Sally, and our family was a lot poorer than Drapers-(poorer even than Peggy's Brooklyn family.) and there, details popped out and struck a nerve.

So what is up with the socks now? The foot is just at 9 inches. A few more rounds, and I will start the toe! I have plenty of yarn—even though I am working from both ends of the single remaining skein. The finished foot is going to be just a few rounds short of a full 12 inches, and I am planning on a bout 2.5 inches of toe shaping. 

Got some chicken stew made, too. African style ground nut (peanut) style stew---a nice spice dish for cold winter nights—which are already coming. Days are still mild (68°f/circa 18°C), but it really gets chilly at night—and slowing but surely, windows are being closed. My S-I-L's socks will be coming just in time.