Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year Comes to an End

I've posted some reflections...but I am not going to post plans.

I have ideas of things I want to knit—and some of them will get knit—and some won't.
But I have learned--Life interferes with plans!

Still I have some ideas of what I want to accomplish in the coming year--

This past year has been a good one--(and it's good its over, too!)

It's held some firsts—I made my first PDF's of a pattern (and offer it for sale on Ravelry)
So far—I have just sold 1 copy of one pattern--but several of my free patterns have become popular, and have been knit by many! So slowly, I am building my reputation.

I am still learning—this year I learned yet another cast on--the Knotted (Russian) cast on—and a new bind off—Jeny's Surprisingly stretchy bind off.

I stumbled upon a new stitch as well – I can hardly say I created it—it's more a case of making an error, and seeing value in it!

Yesterday, I finished the double knit head band I was knitting—and immediately started another!
(Some one has to knit the 20 additional hats—and I can't ask others to help me with this project if I am not willing to go the distance myself!)

I have to sort about and find some of the odd balls and left over bits of yarn and work out some designs—I know I could just take a plain skein, and knit a simple watch cap—but whats the fun in doing that?

So much more fun to add some stripes or chevrons, or cables, or some other design element. It does take a bit more time—but it also make the time spent more pleasurable!

I taught more this year --and I hope I teach more still in the coming year.

I've tried (and failed, but that's OK) some new challenging things.. and I hope by the end of next year, these challenges will be listed as accomplishments.

There is less of me, too. I haven't tried to lose weight--but I have thought about, and tried to eat healthier--more fruits, more vegetables, less meat, less junk food. Losing weight has been a side effect--(and it pleases me.)

My plans this evening are low key (TV? Perhaps a movie) I have seen enough New Years to recognize that the event is only as important as I want to make it.

Here's hoping that next year is a happy productive one.. that brings exciting new experiences, and joyful beginnings.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If a little is good…

Isn’t an excess better?

I recognize I tend to live by this philosophy(part of me recognizes it's not the best)

For many years, I had doubles of many things…
In the kitchen, 2 can openers, 2 bottle openers, 2 sets of bowls, 2 sets of measuring cups, 2 sets of measuring spoons, 2 sets of cookie sheets, 2 sets of…

I had 2 sets of spices, too, one ‘sweet’ and one ‘savory’—but there were overlaps.. Clove and cinnamon made both the sweet and savory rack, as did ginger, nutmeg, allspice, too.

Almond, lemon and orange extract made both too, as did citrus zests—I often use fresh zest—but in a pinch, dried will work, too!—and seeds like caraway, poppy and sesame also good on both sides of the kitchen.

Mints too—I grew mints (Ha! Mints are weeds that grow themselves!) and at various time had peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint—and others.

My current kitchen is 1/4th the size—and I live alone (and don’t have to worry about someone misplacing something, and needing to turn to the backup) so I have very few doubles any more (though some have survived)

But the need for excess hasn't disappeared, it’s been converted.

I counted my socks. At first, I thought the total was 37 (an embarrassing large number)—Then I realized, the new socks weren’t included (City Socks) and then yesterday, looked for, and couldn’t find my forest green socks (misplaced? missed the hamper?)—which means 39 pairs. Definitely excessive!

10 pairs are new this year (nine I kept, the 10th was gifted)—but here is the really bad news: I bought enough sock yarn this year for 20 pairs of socks—so even with knitting 10 pairs of socks, there is a net increase in my stash. And almost every pair of socks was knit with less than a full ball (50gm) of yarn—so the bag of left over bits—is bigger, too! And, (worse!) I have no plans to stop knitting socks—so the number of pairs will only be bigger next year!--even though I do have plans to give away a few pairs of socks this year (at least 2 pairs!)

I knit 2 sweaters this year too, (Me! A person who rarely wears sweaters—now I have 2 more not to wear very often!) Plus some scarves and shawls, and fingerless gloves—I am slightly amazed at just how much I have knit!

In addition to over 20 successful hats, I have 2 unsuccessful ones—(I might frog, I might not—but they are not what I wanted—as sometimes happens, and most definitely not wearable.

Today, I will finish the double knit hat—NOT—as a double knit head band—I’ll count it as a hat—for both Ravelry and my hat project.

It’s a pretty simple design… (I will post a free pattern on Ravelry –if not today, then tomorrow.)

And maybe make an almost identical one—(a different snowflake/star pattern) –and finish the second as a hat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

As it begins, so it ends.

Philosophical, (not religious) thoughts!
Autism is on the rise.
Yes—all of the above statements are connected.

Last week I wrote a post about autism. (I never posted it) –it was pretty negative, and well, I sometimes use writing to rid myself of negative thoughts! Last year at this time, I also wrote a post about autism—and I started –somewhat reluctantly—an effort to get hats knit for a mini –school for children with autism spectrum disorder.

At the time, the school had 85 some odd children (in school systems in NYC—enrollment varies --almost daily it sometimes seems!).

The whole thing started with a hat I knit for DD's boyfriend--a double knit hat.

She (not he) ask for 80 more for all the students (it was a cold week, and he had in passing, mentioned to her how inadequately dresses some of his students were –they (themselves, their families) just didn’t have the resources, to anticipate the cold weather—and prepare. (many are immigrants)
The Project—crept along—and I had the require number of hats by April…
(Over 30 donors—many donating 2, some donating over a half dozen hats!)

It seemed cruel to give out warm winter hats as the winter came to an end--so I held off.
The plan was to give them out before the winter break—but there was a snag—
Enrollment has grown from 85 to 105!

THE PROJECT IS STILL 20 Hats short.

There are those of you who promised a hat (or a few hats) –and now the pressure is on—DELIVER!

The hats (all 105 of them) will be presented on Little Christmas (as I know it—for some of you, it might be 3 Kings Day) –January 6th.

Some of you promised—well-- I know where you live (so yes, I will drive by and pick them up!) some of you—well I will have an unlimited metro card, and can come meet you. (Monday or Tuesday!)
And coming back to the title of this post—I am knitting a hat (another hat!) –not the tam for myself that I planned, but a double knit hat for donation.

More detail on this project later in the week--but here is a glimpse! the Cast on edge to the left, the basic design to the right.

And so it was in the beginning of the year, (knitting hats for this project) so it is in the end.

The details:
The school—a mini school –(an organized group inside of building that serves both neighborhood children and special needs children) is a NYC public school in the south Bronx.

The children are 1st graders (age 6/7) to 6th graders (age 11/12) so small, medium and adult sizes are needed.
Most, (about 80%) are boys—so gender neutral or boys colors are best.
I’ve printed up tags—with care instructions (for both wool and non wool) fibers—just let me know which tag is needed. (The tags have information in both English and Spanish, and will include the knitter’s first name)
I like the idea that each hat is labeled (and personalized with the knitter’s name)—first name makes it not anonymous, but protect privacy.

If you want to donate a hat--just send me an email (there is a link to email on my about page)--and we'll work something out. You can also contact me via Ravelry.

I have several free patterns post on Ravelry for hats--if you want an idea of what to knit, you can start there.



Monday, December 28, 2009

A look (a few looks) backwards.

1st of a series.

I’ve knit for years. Since 1960 (autumn)—I started to learn in May, but it took a number of months before it took—and then once it did—I felt (and acted) as if I could knit anything—and to some degree did.

I don’t remember exactly what the first project I knit was.
Early on, certainly, was a Red Heart wool (grey) ribbed watch cap—It was knit flat, and finished by gathering all the stitches into a drawstring and then sewing a seam.

I remember both being pleased (I finished it) and displeased—there were little (and big!) design details I didn’t like.
I didn’t like the drawstring top (and rarely use this method to finish a hat!) I didn’t like the seam (the pattern didn’t start end and end with K2—so the seam was a visible K1/p1 break in the pattern.

I didn’t like my ribs (and now, after many years of practice I am often vain about my non wonky ribbing skills!)

The next project I remember, was a doll dress, knit in the round, with fair isle type detailing.

It was done in fingering weight yarn (wool) in pale pink and pale turquoise blue. It was knit in the round, on 4 DPN’s, (size 3) –all of which I purchased my self, with birthday money.
(My fathers brother, Uncle Andy always gave money as a present!)

This project too, had flaws.
Knitting in the round was were I learned about combination knitting (though I didn’t know that word)—I just knew,
1—I general knit into back of stitch,
2—when working in the round, this caused twisted stitches,
3--when working a pattern you need to plan to have enough stitches for a full repeat –or to plan the break in the pattern.

But I was still pleased in many ways with this project—it wasn’t perfect—but I loved the challenge of the DPN’s and I loved the color work—(still do!)

My next project was the worst failure of my early knitting.

My mother bought some dark blue –not a navy, but bluer than teal—yarn for me, to knit a sweater. She bought a pattern book, too, for me to pick a pattern for the sweater. I never finished. (I did finish the front and back, and made it into a vest.)

There where several reasons for the failure. I like the yarn, but not the idea of sweater. (I still don’t much like sweaters) I didn’t like the stitch pattern much either-- (it was too simple) or the style of the sweater.

And truthfully, I got bored—and overwhelmed. I don’t remember ever wearing the finished garment (my mother might have frogged the project and knit something else with the yarn)—the yarn was Patons ‘Beehive’ wool (I still have a huge amount of Patons wool in my stash sable)

I knit some hat and scarves when I was in my teens, but did less knitting—the failed sweater stung—and soured me a bit on knitting.

I started knitting again in earnest when I got pregnant. Baby clothes, and crib blankets, and stuff. I never stopped.

I can hardly remember what I knit—but 15 years later, I made a full size (that is 54 by 72 (inches) afghan—of scraps! I had enough let over bits of yarn from enough different projects to do that! (So I must have been knitting something—but I have no memory of what!—but then, a good deal of the 80’s is a blur—no drugs involved—but several bouts of depression.)

I made my first socks somewhere along the way—but socks were a pain—I hated knitting the same thing twice, and would rush through—(and ended up with one tall sock with a loose foot,(the first) and one short sock that barely fit—the mate) not the best pairs!

I learned (very late!) to take photo’s of my FO’s--and keep a photo diary of my work. Since Ravelry, I keep, in effect, a knitting journal of my projects. I love it!

I don’t think I knit a lot--but in the 2.25 years I have been on Ravelry, I have amassed 100 projects.. (about 20 are pre ravelry stuff—but that still leaves 80 projects.) And several project didn’t get photographed—and some project pages are collections (of wash cloths, of hats) So I guess I knit more than I realize!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Toes! We have toes…

The necessary inches of knitting for the foot got knit last night on the train
(bad news—Delays; Good news—more time spent knitting!)

For absolutely no reason, Except…
I decided that 6 double decreases would be the order of the day for the toe.

Actually--I decided on a pattern of decreases that had a vague hexagonal shape—to mimic the hexagon paving blocks found about NYC parks (Central Park and the Park at the Mus. of Natural History come to mind, but LOTS of parks have these blocks--after all, these are CITY socks!)

Even working under my Ott (not--an other brand) light, it was hard to see the details of the decrease. (There is a slight hexagonal shape—but not so you’d notice if I didn’t tell you!) At a glance the toe looks like a perfunctory round one.

But I KNOW the special shaping is there.

After the toes were finished, the row of waste yarn was removed, and the heels set up for working—Not something I would want to do on the subway! I tried them on last night, and they feel wonderful—(perhaps a row or two too big) I can always correct at the heel.

Right now the sock yarns in my stash are a cacophony of “Me! Me! Me Next!”—but I think the fair isle tams will be my subway knitting for the end of the year.

The main disadvantage is the need for several balls (of yarn) – if I worked on the tams at home, I wouldn’t bother with bobbins, and just work from the balls—but 5 balls of yarn are bulky—so I’ll make up some bobbins, and manage.

I know there are those of you who are wondering not about the bulk of the wool, but how do you work a chart? Easily actually.

Most fair isle is pretty repetitive… a pattern might only be 4 or 6 stitches and many have symmetry (row 1 and 7 are the same, and so are 2 and 6, and 3 and 5, (row 4 is unique) so learn row 1 (and repeat it later) The knitting itself becomes the chart!

And I tend to learn patterns pretty quick—so once I learn the row 1 pattern, it will be set enough in my mind that I can glance at it, and easily work it again 6 rows later.

I worked the chevron pattern on the Passionate Purple socks free hand that is:I didn’t make or follow a chart, I just worked out the pattern in my head.

Don’t think I am some sort of genius--lots of people (my mother for one!) learn not just the times tables from 1 to 12, but lots of times tables (my mother knew times table from 2 to 25!) It's no harder to learn stitch patterns than times tables

I have been knitting a long time, and right from the start (OK, after 6 months) I started with color work. I guess you can say I really like it—and over the years, I have knit a lot patterns. A good number are, if not committed to memory, well known and require only a hint or two to bring them to full recall. I can do the same with many stitch patterns, too.

Knitters have always done this. The Barbara Walker books every one relies on now are NEW. For the first 1000 years knitting, patterns were learned (and in your head), or read from a knitted sampler—they weren’t in books.

I feel a growing need to knit some hats, too. (I don’t know when, or where I will find the time.. but…hat ideas are growing—and growing, and they are crowding my brain—I need some release!)

PS—I made both the carrot ginger soup (and has some for dinner) and the baked potato soup last night—tonight, when I get home late (from knit night) I can just heat up some soup and settle in for the night!

Onion next, and maybe a bean soup (I love me some navy bean soup!)

PPS—two views—
One of a sunny dawn-gilded Manhattan skyline.







The second, which car/parking space is not like the others?

Monday, December 21, 2009

In case you’ve been sleeping—

I just wanted to let you know, It snowed.

NYC (officially) got some 10 inches of snow—out by me (east of the ‘official’ record, we got 14 or so inches (I tried to measure someplace with out to much drifting.) The front window of my car had 14 inches for sure—but the rear window and trunk?—No snow at all on the rear window, a ¼ inch or so on part of the trunk lid.
I worked Saturday, and came home (at 5 pm or so) to not much more than a dusting. I was late getting home because I stopped to shop—Vegetables!
My thinking (and I am capable of some very faulty thinking!) was SOUP.

So I wanted some onions—and I cheap-ed out.
2lb bags of onions were $0.99—but a big 10 lb bag was only $3.50! So, of course I bought 10 lbs of onions (I’ve done this sort of thing before—only last time I bought 20 lbs!)So i have some onions (and then some!)

I got some potatoes (both white and sweet), some carrots, some scallions; tomatoes too--And a big hand of ginger, too. (That is a lot of vegetables!)

There would be a big pot of onion soup –I love thick homemade onion soup.
There would be carrot ginger soup.
There would be baked potato soup.

And the rest of the ginger would be grated—and a fresh ginger bread would warm the spirits—the cake like ginger bread, not the crisp cookie sort.
While the oven was on ---well, maybe some fresh bread too!

OK, so I got the carrots and ginger cooked (it will be pureed into soup tonight)

I got the potatoes baked.

The stuffing will become soup on Tuesday. The shells were garnished with grated cheese and chopped bacon bits and chives and became Sundays supper.

Baked potato soup is simple a creamy mashed (the center of baked) potatoes( + 1 more, cubed), and onion soup (some white onion—sautéed, and lots of other members of the onion family—mine includes roast garlic, scallions, leeks and chives—I love all sorts of onions, and always have a selection of all the members of the onion family on hand (–not in the soup, but could be, shallots—cause I have them too!)
I skip the sour cream –but do add some half and half—in the end, it’s garnished with more chives and some bacon bits. It’s really a simple soup—but a good tasting one—a vichyssoise soup, really, served hot .

The onions? Still sitting there. Well they won’t spoil in a day or two—maybe some onion soup for St Stephens Day!( A big POT of soup!)

The ginger bread? The yeasted bread? (The cookies?)
Figments of an active imagination!

What I did do, is a great job shoveling out my car… I cut an 8 foot opening in the plow berm—and got down to blacktop in front, behind, and all around the car.

The weather report I heard Saturday predicted below freezing weather all week. But it warmed up to a few decrees about freezing, and now most of what was left of the snow berm –even where I didn’t shovel—is gone (well by my car!)

Alternate side street parking is suspended today—but will likely be back in effect on Thursday (and I am parked in on the Thursday side of the street) I don’t think I am going to give the space up before that!

Oh, yeah knitting.. this is a blog mostly about KNITTING (not cooking or weather!) Well not much.

I had a book, and read most of the way home on Saturday, so the sock didn’t see any progress.

The striped scarf? Well I found 1 (just 1) ball of the same yarn—and finished up the first two balls, and started with the new on (working both ends of the skein) More than 54 inches but not quite 56—so some progress was made!

The 2 balls got me to about 48 inches—1 more ball should be enough for another 22 to 24 inches (or the desired 70 (at least inches)) –and it shouldn’t take too long!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More (and Less) of the Same.

Still working on the 2 row striped scarf—last night in got 6 (not 8 inches) completed. So there is MORE—only there is less more.

Same with the sock—I worked on it going home, but didn’t have a seat for a while, and while I got some more done, I got less done than the day before(not quite a full repeat of the stripe pattern.)

I finished off the stripe repeat this morning (and I am posting this morning because I am at work this Saturday morning, and I always make blog posts at work.)

One stripe repeat is about 2.75 inches—2 repeats will see the end of the Foot!—or the striped part of the foot. The afterthought heel will add over 2 inches, and the toe, an inch and some—(3.5 or so between them) and I only need a total of 9 inches. So really, even with scant progress, they are moving along at a pace!

In this image here, I’ve stretched out (and pinned) the little gussets so you can see them clearly—they give the sock at this point the look of a pair of Jodhpur, but once the heel is knit, the little gussets will snuggle into place and be less obvious.

I don't think I'll get the full repeat done on this afternoons commute, but likely I'll be snowed in (and won't head out to Sunday's knitting Sabbath at the Panera's in West Babylon) and will make some progress (on something!)

And then there is the scarf. Every time I knit a scarf, I swear it will be my last—and then a week or two later (it seem, and in this case it is!) I start another!

This scarf is now (in a week!) 46 inches long—and it’s still not boring me to tears.

I am still thinking about a finished length of 70 or more inches—not thinking, OK, so I could get by with 60—a 5 foot scarf is plenty long enough.., Maybe 56? Who needs a long scarf anyway? I am itching to start the fair isle tams, but the scarf is still commanding my attention—quite a feat!

I am still enjoying knitting it—and goodness knows, it is the simplest most boring knitting—every row, K1, S1—But the colors and the changes make it fun. There are places where the colors are so completely different—and a few rows later, almost the same… but then another 2 rows, and the colors diverge again.

I am working on a size 6 (4.25mm) needle, but loosely—the yarn worms and wrinkles with the slights pressure—and getting 6 stitches per inch (24 rows over 10cm)

At this point, the loosely balled skeins have fallen apart—and yarn tangle a bit. A mesh bag—not quite a yarn bra—but close, is doing the job to keep the yarn from being coming a completely tangled mess. A few more rows and there won’t be any of the skein—so I can manage.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And again…

Another 8 inches on the scarf, and the City Socks? Impatient to be done in a NY minute!

The 2 row scarf (well my version—done in long gradual color changing yarn—but not Noro) and done in simple double knitting, not 1 X 1 ribbing) is now 40 inches long.

Looking at the yarn left in the skein, it seems like I will easily get another 20 inches done, (60 inches) maybe even 64—but no way do I have enough yarn for a 72 inch scarf.

So now what? Well, maybe 2 more skeins—and enough to make the long scarf that I think this yarn/pattern demands--and enough extra yarn to make Brooklyn Tweeds 2 row watch cap, too? Really, that hat is a perfect “go with” pattern for this scarf.

Or 1 skein? And work from inside and out, (and maybe a pair of fingerless gloves to match from the remainder?)

All this depends on if the yarn is available! And how much!

Yesterday’s commute got me to 7.25 inches of leg done on the City Sock—at home, I added the single row of contrasting yarn for the afterthought heel.

This AM I got another inch of knitting done. At this point, I am 1 round /decrease short of finishing the decreasing side gusset—and bringing the stitch count back to 60.

I know from experience, an after thought heel (done with 30 stitches, in my firm fabric 8 stitches per inch/ 10 rows per inch gauge) will be just short of 2 inches.

So the back of the sock from base to cuff will be about 9 inches. The finished foot needs to be about 9 inches too--so I am almost half done. Plain knitting is fast work!

You can see the little side gusset (or half of the side gusset) pretty well in the image above…I find these little (5 stitches, each side10 total) add just enough ease for me.

With out them, socks go on my foot (so the fit—sort of) but they are always tight and uncomfortable and the fabric pulls and looks bad.

5 Stitches each side, equals 10 stitches/1.25 inches of ease. Just enough to make the socks really fit comfortable! Generally speaking, there is not so many stitches that the basic pattern of the self striping yarn is disrupted either—the perfect solution!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inching along

The Subway socks are already 5 inches long! I know, it doesn’t seem it—partly it’s the contrasting cuff, and partly is the shape. I cast on 64 stitches, and have decreased twice, to bring the count down to 60 (my ‘usual’ number!) So the upper edge is wider than average, (and create the illusion that the sock is shorter than it actually is.

That is one full yarn stripe repeat, you are seeing (and a few rounds of repeat 2)

If things progress at the same pace (and no reason to think they won’t!) I’ll be starting the small side gussets (I’ve learn to always add these for afterthought and short row heels—it improves the fit immensely) and working the row of waste yarn for the heels.

I know technically, if I plan ahead, and put in waste yarn, it not an afterthought heel—(its is an aforethought heel!) but lets not quibble!

Also inching along--because I am not making progress at the rate of 12 inches (or 1 foot) is the 2 row scarf—No photo (cause really, it just more of the same stuff, and while the colors are changing, a striped scarf, is pretty boring) has grown from 24 inches (2 days ago) to just past 32 inches (8 and them some inches longer!)

Maybe I’ll take a photo tomorrow or Saturday—once it becomes long enough to wrap around the neck of my manikin. I have water aerobics tonight, but I still will have time to get some knitting done.

It’s still not clear if I will be able to get the desired 70 to 72 inches of length from the 2 skeins (I really don’t want to buy more, but I also don’t want a short scarf!)

And checking out Jo-Anne’s on line, I can’t even find the yarn—I wonder if other were as unhappy as I am with the worming, and the yarn has been discontinue.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Passionately Purple Socks—Perfection!

Complete with toes, and all the ends woven in.

I love them. They whimpered and wanted to be worn today—but I am not listening. I am going to enjoy them in there pristine state for a week or two.

NEXT YEARI’ll wear them next year (what’s that, 15 days or so from now?!) how time flies!

They will look better after a washing and blocking. The yellow chevron pattern is a bit wonky at the ‘side seam’ (where I changed from needle to needle) It’s stretchy enough (it’s some of my best color work!) but the tension is just a hair off—and the stitches aren’t perfectly formed.

The cuff detail isn’t exactly as I envisioned it—Everyone who sees it likes it, (I like it!) but it’s not what I thought I was knitting.

It’s quite nice, but not what I wanted or expected. I will try again with tiered double cuffs of Latvian twist—maybe when I get around to knitting with some of the pink sock yarns --I have some hand painted pink (Flamingo-is the color and I forget the brand (I spend more than I should have, and have a mental block!) And some JoJoland (Melody? Harmony? The sock weight stuff) in shades of dusty pink, and 90% (more than enough!) of a skein of Lion Brand sock yarn in ‘Cotton Candy’—(quite an assortment of pinks for some one who doesn’t much like pink, or own much in the way of pink clothes!)

Last night, while I had the tapestry needle handy, I wove in the 3 tails on the City Socks—the cast on tail, the two tails from changing yarns—and then knit a few rounds (the marker indicated the BoR and the progress.)

There will be more tails to weave in, in time, since these socks are slated (pun there—the yarn color way is slate!) to have black heels and toes, too.

When I’ve finished them, I’ll have extra yarn—(the slate) and will use it to make a pair of black and slate fingerless gloves (short ones) –striped most likely. I have a few skeins of solid black sock yarn (Why? I hate knitting plain black socks!) And some left over white (from the Passionate Purple socks) and with solid black, solid white and the self striping slate, there will be plenty to do something!

I have left over purple too—not much—but enough to trim some future pair of socks. I love left over scraps of yarn—it creates so many possibilities!

I am working Saturday this week too, so there will be some extra knitting time (commute) for the socks—and plain knitting goes fast. The stripe pattern will keep it interesting, (as will the contrasting heels and toes)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just the toes—

Are left to go!

Yesterday's afternoon commute saw the last round of the foot—today we start (and likely finish) the toes. Tonight, at LICKnit, grafting and finishing (there are still over a dozen tails to be woven in!) and they will be socks!

The toes are going to be plain (not patterned)—linen stitch is lovely, but too tedious for the toe--besides, it won't be seen.

I don’t need to worry about reinforcing the toe (beyond the nylon in the yarn).
I have over 30 pairs of hand knit socks (I’ve knit more, but they’ve been gifted)

So, on average, I wear a pair once in a month. I don’t wear socks in the summer, so each sock gets worn about 9 to 10 times a year.

Some of my oldest hand knit socks are 5 to 7 years old (I had stopped knitting socks for a long time—and only started again when I learned the 2 on 2 circ method) –and while they are getting worn –they are no where near threadbare (or worse holey!) and back when I knit them, I wore them much more often--since I didn’t have a drawer full of socks to chose from.

So I don’t worry much about sock life…at the rate I knit (and the infrequency of wear) I could stop knitting socks today, and still have almost a life times worth. So extra re-enforcement of the toe is not an issue I worry about.

I knit (and measured, and knit an extra round to be sure!) and then did the color work checkerboard—and waited till I got home to check out the fit before starting the toes--and they fit perfectly!

Tomorrow, back to work on blacks and greys if the somber City Socks—they’ve quietly waiting but once I start, they will race like a New York minute.

I didn’t knit anything last night—not a stitch on 2 row scarf, not a stitch cast on for the Fair Isle tam. I did wind up some yarns (for a swap) and I made a pair of earrings.

I put a jumper ring on a bead (a fancy bead, but a bead all the same) and also linked the ring to earring hardware. Hardly any effort or creativity--But they are pretty earrings, and I am happy with them, and wearing them today!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Need Closure…

Because I got me some sleeves!

(Thanks to Lisa (aka TsockTsarina) and Melanie, (aka TeaBird) for the great title for this post.)

Yesterday, at the West Babylon Panera’s, I got the final lace repeat done—and the sleeves measured 11 inches. I also got 4 of the 5 garter ridges knit (8 rounds). At home, I worked on the crossword puzzle (Sunday NYTimes) for a bit, and then, finished up the sleeves--and wove in the last of the yarn tails! (the sleeves are just the perfect length at 12 inches long!)

I’ve been thinking about closure—I thought about clear plastic snaps, to really close the top -and a decorative shawl pin—for style. But the local stores (ie, places I drive to on weekends) haven’t been well stocked with clear snaps.
(And I am too lazy to wander around midtown’s garment district to find a notion store that does have them!)

I thought about hooks and eyes --and started to think about covering the same with matching (or at least coordinating thread) to make them less obvious.
I got so far to think about details (should I use floss? Or pearl cotton? Should I use a needle and make a knotted buttonhole stitch? Or a crochet hook?)

And then as I drove home, I remembered—I have silk.This is
rescued silk—(it was a skirt, in a neat clear plastic bag, being thrown out!) and while its not a perfect match—it’s good enough! I will be (only slightly) insane, and will make dressmaker style cover snaps!

A bit of over kill perhaps –it’s not the fanciest of sweaters-- but pastel orange (if not peachy) snaps will work! Effective, and not too obvious.

And--truth be told--I have been holding out on you—one reason that Peachy didn’t make any progress this week was this—
My take on the 2 row scarf that is so popular—not the same yarn--or even the same stitch (I am working in simple double knit), but clearly the same idea.

I am using this, Traditions yarn from
Jo-Anne’s—I want to try it out. It’s mostly acrylic, (75%) will a bit of wool—but it still claims to need to be treated like wool (hand wash, dry flat). And it’s not that cheap (for mostly acrylic).
It’s soft, it’s pretty, the color changes are wonderful—but it worms!
I made a slight effort to start the skeins at different points of the color way, and for the most part, the color changes have worked.

Sometime the colors are very low contrast—and some times there are very clear, bright stripes.Right now, it is 24 inches long (and 5 inches wide) It will, I think, end up close to 72 inches long—just because that what it tell me is the right length.

I am liking the scarf, but not the yarn.

Meanwhile, I added another inch to the passionate purple socks on Friday’s commute home. I still need a few more rounds before I can start the checkerboard work—and toe. But between today and tomorrow, that is likely to happen. Then I can finish them up (graft the toe seam, and weave in the last of the tails) at Tuesday knit night.

Waiting--for that moment are the somber City Socks—which should work up fast.

Next up?
2 things—some sleeve (fitted) for Peachy—(some think like these that I made for February Lady) and some hats...
This pattern is calling to me—(on Patons blog--a free PDF--but you have to register to see it)
I think maybe this color way—that dark purple is the same color (but not dye lot) as my February Lady— and I think the gold will go well with the hand painted yarn in the yoke.

But then, again, I like this color combo better—I think the yellow green is a better fit (color wise)
Chances are-- I will end up making hats in both color combos!

I am toying with lace sleeves for Peachy (and the plain Water Chestnut color (peach)) color. And with a set of Fair Isle gauntlets. to match the hat!
Choices, choices, so many choices!





Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gusseted!

For the next 4 inches, it’s nothing to knit, but knits!

The gussets are long, and the socks are a single row longer than 3.5 inches.

I know for me, 9 inches is about right (from the base of flap to toe)—so I am more than 1/3 done with the foot.

Finishing the gusset was 12 rounds,--since yesterday and a bit over an inch of knitting.

And, what with keeping track of do I (or don’t I) decrease this round, and working the SSK’s and K2tog—(not to mention, 72 stitches per round at the start of the commute) working the gusset takes a bit more time than plain knitting.

So tonight, another 12 round (or more) and tomorrow another 12 + rounds--all together, another 3 inches easily!

And soon after that, it will be time to work a few rounds of checkerboard color work, and shape the toe.

Once the heel is done, for me, sock just fly!

Yesterday Caffeine Girl commented about being tied to patterns.
I understand that... It takes some time to grok socks.
There are some resources that help.

FirstHeels by number! What a great site! Lots of options for shaping, and more options for gauge! These spreadsheet are wonderful.

Second—Nancy Bush—In Knitting Vintage Sock (which I own) and in some of her other books (Folks Socks?), Nancy provides great information on various styles of heels—besides the Flap/turned/gusseted style—and does the same for toe shaping.

Third --Cast On's (why me, of course!)

Socks are the simplest things in the world—and each detail of sock is an opportunity to experiment.

Even experiments that fail are still, most often, functioning socks. (Not perhaps your first choice to wear but still wearable) If you find you always make the same style of toe, or heel, or use the same cast on, here is where you can break out of the rut, and try something new!

(As for Peachy, patients! Last night I went out to dinner, and tonight, it’s water aerobics. So it might be the weekend before I have anything to report.)



Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fewer and fewer, more and more.

Every round there are fewer and fewer stitches, and more and more progress!

I am decreasing from a HUGE number (the turned heel had 18 stitches, and I picked up 18 more stitches on each side of the flap (17 on the flap, + 1 at corner) 54 stitches! Since I am decreasing back to 30, that’s 24 decreases (and rounds!)
And I am just about half way there!
By the time I finish the gusset, a huge chunk of the foot will be knit. (about 3 inches or 1/3 of the total length!)

Meanwhile the socks are making noises again –and insisting that a few rows of checkerboard are needed just before the toe decreases. (and I am inclined to agree!) but that’s a ways off yet—but at an inch or so progress every day—it is less than a week before I’ll be working on the toes!

This sock is a rather conventional one.. Ok, it has a fancy cast on cuff, and a bit of color work here and there, but it follows the basic sock ‘recipe’ –cuff, leg, heel (flap/turned/gusseted—aka F/T/G) foot, and toe.

And really that is how I think of socks—as recipes.

Cakes, come in several different kinds—from the light fluffy (fat free) angel food, to rich, dense almost flour free lava cakes—and each style has a basic recipe.

So too with socks..
First there is direction (toe up/cuff down or novelty!)
Then there is cast on –the choices for cast are dictated to degree by the directions.

The toe shaping, the heel shaping are dictated by direction too—and while its possible to make almost identical heels (in either directions) the process is often different.

But both directions offer many options!

What you do with the leg and foot (patterned? plain? Ribbed? ) are flexible—and while some patterns work better in some directions, many work fine either way for socks.

And like cakes--and cake mixes that have all the ingredients pre-mixed--you can by sock kits, with all the yarn and details worked out.

This sock is, in spite of the cuff and color work—a simple recipe—but it’s turning out quite nicely!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Heels! -We have Heels!

And half the stitches for the gussets have been picked up. (photographed in haste, and blurry—but better images tomorrow!)

And once again, I remember why I think it would be nice to continue the turning of the heel in tri color linen stitch—and don’t.

I ended up making the flap 3 rows longer than I planned—in order to get the purple yarn at the right side of the work –and this left the yellow one one side, and the white on the other.

Getting all 3 strands to the center of the heel would have been a PITA—and interfered with the turning.

I could have cut the yellow and white, and started over—but that would have created more ends to weave in--(I already have 4 ends per flap to weave in (and 6 more ends to weave in on one cuff—and more to come if I do a special treatment on the toe!)
And it would have weakened the heel (even the best woven in ends can come loose –especially with a super wash yarn) –No one wants loose stitches and tails woven in on the heel, either!

So a solid purple turn, and back to working in the round.

Peachy was ignored last night—but it’s coming with me to LIC Knits tonight—I doubt I will finish it there—but maybe I’ll knit enough to be done with the lace patterning, (and will be excited enough to finish up the garter stitch hem.)

Winter has arrived—Last week (Friday) it was still 60°! (circa 16°c) –yesterday and today (and the rest of the week) the forecast is for weather in the 30°, (0°c) to the 40’s (8 to 10°c)—I am wearing a short sleeved top –And my bronze angora bamboo gauntlets—and the matching caplet—and feel quite cozy. Yeah for knitting.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I got plenty of nothing…(to show)

And nothing is plenty for me.

Knitting the last few inches of the sleeves on Peachy is becoming a chore. A chore I am not too diligent about. I keep ending in the middle of repeats –9 + inches is where I stopped yesterday, --and figured out, just 33 more round till I am done. Anything, even math, is better than knitting this at some times. No photo—and there won’t be one till I am finished knitting--but I will trudge through the last 33 rounds, and I will be happy when it’s done.

I really like the sweater, I am just bored with the sleeves. I could just finish the current lace repeat, and head to the 10 rows of garter—and have sleeves as long as my February Lady sweater—but I do really want ¾ sleeves! So trudge away I will.

Passionate Purple socks are getting heel flaps—and the work is slow going. I have to think about what I am doing—but they are looking good!

Instead of the traditional heel stitch, I went with a tri-color linen stitch—the white and yellow are so close in color value—the resulting fabric looks very different than it would with more balanced colors--But I like it! (You can find a tutorial on tri-color linen stitch here)

Linen stitch makes a firm sturdy fabric, and is a great (but slow going) choice for an alternative to the heel stitch—but it requires more rows—it has a much denser row gauge than a standard heel stitch (which is denser than stocking knit stitch) so I will be working the flap till I have 2.5 inches or so, and totally ignore the row count.

I am going to finish the flaps here at work—I don’t want to have to juggle working them on the subway. I knit my flaps without turning the work—alternate rows of knitting and true left handed knitting

This works great for standard heel stitch—I knit Sl 1, * K1, S1. And on the return row, I just knit (the simplest stitch to do in true left handed knitting.)

In general, it is easier to work linen (single color or tri-color or any version) as all knits—but working backwards with Knits and purl like slips and changing yarns every row is a bit much for the subway (thought I had no trouble doing the checkerboard or chevron patterns there).

I think I am going to continue the linen stitch right into the heel turning.

In additions, one sock has all of the ends woven in--(see the tapestry needle still resting in the cuff) The other has some ends woven in—(the interior ones) but still needs the double cuff to be finished.

So I did make progress on the socks--not all knitting, but progress all the same.

And then there are these simple socks (or the beginning there off)--my City socks (to go with the basic black that is ubiquitous in this city.)

The black cuff is seed stitch (take my word for it) and there is a buttonhole in the band (no buttons yet…but there is plenty of time) and I have already worked one decrease (at the end of the cuff, I had 64 stitches—in another few rounds there will be 60)

These socks are going to have black heels and toes, too, but other than that, plain knitting with the self striping yarn doing all the design work.

So nothing is finished. Lots of bit of knitting here and there, but nothing really to show for it!

Friday, December 04, 2009

An Inch added Here, Three more needed there...

There are now 2 inches of plain knitting done on the Passionate Purple Petal socks (which has me thinking of a P word for socks (pedi-clothes?))to make an over the top title!

Another inch or inch and half, (a commute!) and it will be heel flap time!—and then, even with a fancy multi colored heel flap, they are all but done! I plan to do some of the much needed finishing (weaving in of ends) today at work. I didn't bother to photograph--they are longer, but really unchanged.

Don’t tell them, but in a fit of madness, I’ve actually cast on the black cuff for my next pair of socks. (knit kit 2!)

A much simpler fancy cuff; a button band, worked in a solid black seed stitch, and a body of Kroy Jacquard sock yarn (slate jacquard—various shades of grey) Perhaps there will be some clocks knit in, too, but mostly the socks will be plain; I’ll let the self striping sock yarn do most of the design work. (and plain knitting means fast socks!)The will have solid black heels, too.. (and likely matching toes, as well)--they are photo shy for the moment--and hiding from the Passionate Purple Petals, too!

And I still found time to work another lace repeat on Peachy’s sleeves—and I measured them. The sleeves on my February Lady sweater are 5/8th length—(a tad short) and they are 10 inches long (at the under arm seam.)

Right now, (the 8th repeat of the lace pattern started, but not completed) the sleeves of Peachy are 8 inches long.

Based on FL, I should aim for sleeves about 12 inches long—or another 2 and half repeats of the lace pattern, + the garter stitch hem. I am also aiming for finishing it up this weekend! I think I have enough yarn for this--and if I don’t, well I’ll live with 11 inches long sleeves!

I have 2 more skeins of this color yarn, but in a noticeable different dye lot. Certainly not a close enough match to use on this garment—but fine for the semi matching hat or pair of fingerless gloves I have planned.

I am aiming to finish this sweater this weekend, or more precisely, finishing up the knitting. I made 1 button hole –but I am not sure I want a button closure--it won’t be hard to graft the single button hole closed if I decide on something else.

I’ve looked in various places for buttons and clasps, and haven’t found anything that exactly suits—nothing in the right color, or the right size. I might end up with clear snaps (to really hold it closed) and a shawl pin for style.

(I will also need to find some pretty silver buttons for the button band cuff of the next socks-- but no hurry!)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

An Inch!

Completed on the way home. How quick the socks progress with no pattern to work, and stranding to contend with!

This morning, the cuff was more cooperative, and let me take a better pictures.

It still needs ends woven in--and some small stitches to make it sit just so. But at least you can see it a bit of what it is about.

I started with white yarn, and a long tail cast on.
Immediately, I changed to the purple, and worked 4 rows of stocking knit.
(I thought I might add 2 rows of Yellow instead of 4 rows of purple, but the yarn serious asserted itself, and squashed that idea!)

Then a Latvian twist, followed by a few more rows of stocking knit.

At this point, this bit of knitting was put aside, and I started again, with another long tail cast on in white, followed by the purple—only this second cast on was larger (more stitches—I’d give you the count, but I messed up, and if you followed, you’d mess up too!)

After 5 rows of the purple, a Latvian twist again, and then decreases (worked in yellow and purple) and a fancy elongated stitch in yellow too.

Then, the two sets of cast on’s were joined into a single fabric, and the ribbing began. After an inch or so of ribbing, I checked the count--and found I had WAY TO MANY stitches! Obviously, I still have a problem doing basic things like counting! (Especially when distracted by noisy yarn!) As is, I am knitting the leg portion of the sock with 64 stitches (not my usual 60) so the color work doesn't stretch out too much--and distort. (I could be vain, and point out, the color work is as loose and stretchy as the solid stocking knit!)

So a band of continuous cross stitch—as a break--(a bit tedious!) and another inch of ribbing. The continuous cross stitch made it easy to change the number of stitches in the ribbing, and keep it normal looking.

As soon as the ribbing ended, the color work started!

They are now about 5.5 inches long—and will likely get another 2 or 3 inches more of some plain knitting before I start the heel flap.

Peachy? Is being patient. Last night, when I should have been knitting some more lace, I was, instead playing with yarn—I am going to knit the Patons blog fair isle tam—several of them, I think—and I am deciding on the colors.

And thinking about the revisions... The images I have seen of the completed tams are too small for my taste—I’ll need to add a few more rows, and an extra set or two of increases to fit my bowling ball sized head –and family members share this characteristic—so if I knit for others, they will need larger hats too!

One tam--for me-- will feature the same water chestnut (pale peach) and current (dark coral orange yarn) that are being used in Peachy--plus 3 other colors. I think I’ll make some fingerless glove to match too. Not a Oh, so cutesy matched set of sweater and tam and fingerless gloves—but enough over lap in colors that I won’t look like a clown.

But that is getting ahead of myself! (There are so many skeins of yarn crying out ME, Me next! That it’s hard to find a moments peace!)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wooly Bully

Does your yarn speak to you? Does it order you around, demanding to be knit, and insisting on being a hat, or scarf, or sweater?

Mine does. Not all the time—and not always insistently –but some yarns are bullies, and order me around, demanding not only to be knit, but how to be knit!

Other yarns just murmur, making soft suggestions about their fate.

Some yarns are shy, and hold back, reluctant to say exactly how they should be knit up, and what their future should look like—but the can exact the tyranny of the weak, and be just as demanding as yarns that loudly bully.

My purple socks are passionate bullies. The keep on insisting on details I had no idea about incorporating—the cuff and legs are just over 4 inches long now, and finally settling down to quiet satisfaction—though they express a good deal of dismay this morning about being photographed

They are put out that I worked 2 lace repeats on Peachy’s sleeves last night—they really thought the time would be better spent doing some finishing work on them.
(Small bits of color work still generate LOTS of ends for weaving in!)

I did my best to tuck away the tails and ends, and make them presentable for their photographic debut—they have been camera shy until now—and were reluctant to be photographed today--but put on a good face, and semi cooperated.

This is how they are looking now. I had considered some fleur-di-lies (instead of the checkerboard and chevrons) but they were disdainful of my suggestion--
(Do we look like Irises? No, so why would be interested in stylized iris designs?)

I am not unhappy with the progress so far—but I had no idea that these socks would end up looking this way when I cast on! This wool has been bully from the first start!

Peachy, by comparison, is very mellow. It's quite content to be knit (or not) to be photographed or not—but as I approach completion of the 7th lace pattern repeat, is has suggested, ever so gently, that 8 repeats will be too short a sleeve, and surely 9 or 10 is a much better number—
Not that I have to, of course, but there is plenty of yarn still left in the skein, and even with the extra repeats, the sleeves won’t be full length, just 3/4th length, not 5/8th, and 7/8th still wouldn’t be full length, and perhaps should be a consideration!

Sometimes I wish my knitting would just shut up!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Nothing doing (and nothing to show!)

It all caught up to me last night.
Wednesday’s pre thanksgiving feast, Thanksgiving, travel, work, Knitting Sabbath, (in West Babylon) and work again on Monday.

Last night I was chilly-- down right cold, and soon after Jeopardy, (one of my TV addictions) I got in bed, pulled the covers up over me to warm up—and I took a 2+ hour nap. Not the smartest thing to do, to nap from 8 PM to 10:30 PM! I had trouble falling back to sleep at a proper hour—but in all, I got a full 8 hours of sleep—and feel rested today. (I always feel cold when I tired)

So nothing got knit—(and nothing got photographed)
Well, nothing on Peachy got knit. A few rounds of the Purple Petal socks got done on the way home.

Some more fair isle—note lower case—not proper fair isle the kind Alice Strathmore would recognize as Knitting in the Fair Isle tradition, but some simple color work. These socks have a Latvian braid edge—but they are not going to be done in a Latvian style, with some decorative bandings, and some color work—similar to, but not quite Fair Isle—a very American sock –taking bits and pieces of different traditions!

I had a wonderful dinner though! I bought some premade (from the grocery store, not take out) Indian food stuff (pav bhaji—mashed vegetables in a spiced sauce)--warmed it up, cooked some rice (the extra rice will re-appear later in the week as pseudo (homemade) Chinese food) and defrosted some precooked chicken.

I used the pav bhaji as a sauce –and vegetable dish. The package said “delicately spiced” –well maybe for natives of the Asian subcontinent is was delicate—for me, it was HOT and for the most part, medium is plenty hot for me.

Actually, the seasoning was in some ways, delicate-- it was flavorful (and low if not completely turmeric free) and the heat was slow to develop—there was lots of flavors—not just hot pepper. But by the end of the meal, I was most definitely feeling the heat! (not enough that an hour later, I was chilly—see above!)

I went looking for a web site—but couldn’t find one. (I bought a second package of the same brand—but different dish—I don’t remember the Hindi name for it—but it is made from chick peas—(cooked, ground, and then made into little balls (something like falafel)) in a spiced gravy. I hope this second dish is as good as the first—and that Waldbaums continues to carry these foods.