Do I still knit? Why, yes, thanks for asking.
I finished a pair of socks a few weeks ago.
Yarn: Regia Galaxy Color, purchased at Camas Creek Yarn in Kalispell MT when we went to Glacier National Park a couple years ago. When I saw the yarn in the ball I thought it was going to make striped socks that would coordinate with my multicolor striped raglan. These will be fine even without the stripes. I alternated between the two balls to minimize pooling.
Pattern: Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock
Needles: US#0. Normally I do the foot on zeros and switch to US#1s when I get just past the ankle, but I forgot. They still fit.
I picked up the Tappan Zee sweater again; it has been quietly snoozing in its bag for a year. For those of you who care but don't remember it, it is a top-down cap sleeve sweater. I had reached the armholes and knit one front a couple inches past that. When I picked it up I discovered that actually, I had knit both fronts to the point where they were ready to be rejoined, so all I had to do was knit the back to that point, join all three parts, and knit away mindlessly until it is long enough or I run out of yarn. Yes, I am knitting as fast as possible in order to finish before the yarn runs out. Don't we all?
(no photo -- it doesn't look significantly different than in the posts linked above, just a bigger blob of knitting)
The Christmas knitting is progressing. A Windschief hat and neck gaiter (that's what cowls were called before they became The Trendy Thing) for our renter. I knit them almost entirely during the annual two-day tax conference last month, or, as I like to think of it, the annual two-day knitting retreat with CPE credit. Here they are posing with Bubbles on my soon-to-be history first generation Maytag washer, piece of crap that it is.
Pattern: Windschief by Stephen West. Delightful pattern to knit.
Yarn: Filatura Lanarota Pure Washable Merino, from Smiley's Yarn in New York. This stuff is surprisingly pleasant considering the El Cheapo price ($2.99 per 109 yd. skein(!)). Truly machine washable, not scratchy. It is a bit splitty because it is 8- or 10-ply and not tightly spun, but with blunt Addis I had few problems. Huh.
Needles: US#6 and #7.
A tuque for Smokey's partner at work. I had no plans to make this one, but last week I was complaining to Smokey that I would be riding in a car for hours in a couple days, and I had no small portable project on the needles. Really, I was complaining, not because I was looking for a project, but mostly just to make noise. However, he said that Peter, his partner on the adolescent psyche ward night shift, was intrigued by the tuque I had made a couple years ago. So I checked my stash and found I still had just enough of the yarn to make another one.
Oh, you wanted to see it as an actual hat rather than just a blob? Okay, here ya go:
Yarn: Phildar Pure Laine 3-1/2 (apparently discontinued), DK weight, colorway 'Corsair', 3+ skeins (350 - 400 yds.).
Needles: Addi Turbo US#6.
Pattern: I got the original pattern from Dale-Harriet in Madison but couldn't find it when I looked. So I winged it.
When that is done I plan to make a pair of mittens, probably from some more of the same yarn I used for the Windschief set, for the teenage boy who has been our hired slave since last May. When one's own sons are not around the house any more, and one's disabilities make it difficult to do certain things, hiring a teenager is the perfect solution. Scotty is a great kid: reliable, cheerful, willing to learn, willing to do whatever we ask of him. When the task is partcularly disgusting, like changing the litter box, we pay extra.
Then there are the medical mittens, slumbering for years. Last spring the woman who designed them for me emailed to offer to finish them (!) She had noticed that their Ravelry status had not changed in a loooong time. For those of you who care but can't remember them either, they are for Elder Son, who was in medical school at the time. He has since finished and is now at UMich in Ann Arbor getting a master's degree in public health, epidemiology. The design has the caduceus on the backs of the mittens; I knat them up as far as the wings at the top but couldn't get that part right. She finished them and blocked them and sent them back. Yarn is Cascade Heritage sock.
I still have plans to make a DNA scarf of the same yarn for him. Will it get done in time for this Christmas? Probably not, although miracles DO happen...
There is a also tiny bit of stealth knitting going on, maybe for Christmas and maybe not. Someday I'll show you it.
Still working on the dog sweater for Ser Perival The Energetic. I am at the part between front legs and neck and need to try it on him again to figure out the shaping.
Tappan Zee has not glimpsed the light of day since you last saw it.
Cast on for a hat for BGFE. Yarn is Knit Picks Sugar Bunny, a merino-angora worsted; color (Wine) is less brick and more maroon than my photo. If you are having difficulty imagining how that strip will turn into a hat, click on the first link to look at the pattern -- it is adorable.
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Yesterday I was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army again 3:00 to 5:00 pm in front of the local Wal*Mart. This is how it looked when I left home:
19˚ F (-7˚ C), but happily there was little wind. I wore a Calorimetry, a Noro striped scarf, a turtleneck and sweater, a down parka, leggings, jeans, and snowpants; and Sorel boots. Those of you in warmer climes probably know nothing of Sorels; those of you north of the 40th parallel probably do. They are awesomely warm.
Lucy The Wonder Dog went with me. She charmed passersby, kept my legs warm, and prompted at least two people to donate. The last half hour of my two-hour shift was hard to get through because both of us were starting to get cold; I have to admit I left a couple minutes early. But my bucket got full. It was very apparent when the customers changed from home-all-day types to stopping-in-after-work types -- the donations picked up noticeably. Some of the earlier people probably count on the Salvation Army for help.
Please give generously to the bell ringers you see. The Salvation Army an organization that helps the down-and-out get back on their feet.
I haven't done a work-in-progress Wednesday in a coon's age. The time has come. Nothing you have not seen here before, but this IS purportedly a knitting blog...
Starting with the oldest, the Tappan Zee cardigan:
Only a little progress made on this since you last saw it. I have divided for the armholes and knit one front nearly to the bottom of the arm scythe but had to put this aside for the 3 projects below, most of which have a due date.
See what a tight crescent shape it is making? That is the result of the edge shaping -- a 2-stitch garter edge followed immediately on both RS and WS by a double increase. The pattern cautions against knitting the edge stitches too tightly but doesn't bother to explain why. Now I know: imagine a crescent-shaped scarf with one edge so tight the entire thing looks like a ram's horn that has curved around so far it has endangered the ram's brain. I fear I shall need to frog this and reknit with much looser edge stitches. Just glad I figured that out when I had only knit about 4 inches.
Next, the sweater for Ser Percival The Energetic:
Nearly the same progress on this one as the Tappan Zee; I am at the point where I need to divide for the arm leg holes. I have done the necessary math for the placement of the holes (no pattern for this one, just winging it) but haven't actually done the dividing. Given that Ser Percival has a very narrow waist that swells quickly to his impressively massive rib cage, I decided to do the increasing exactly like a top-down raglan seam, i.e., all in one place rather than evenly around the sweater.
You cannot tell from the photo, but the increases in the first couple stripes were done with lifted increases, and that caused the fabric to pucker slightly along the "seam". Then I switched to doing a YO in the non-increase rows and twisting that YO when I came to increase into it in the next row. This resulted in a much smoother fabric. (Duh. Of course it did; a lifted increase gives you no extra yarn for that increase, thus, it pulls in the stitch on either side and causes puckering. (I may have just discovered how to make this long-neglected WIP/UFO hang properly instead of drooping on either side of the line of increases at center front and back.) Percy's sweater is superwash so I was not sure if I could count on blocking to rectify the pucker; in a regular wool yarn it might not have been a problem in the end.)
Last is this little baby sweater for a co-worker's baby shower at the end of the month:
I am using the same pattern as I used for this baby sweater last year but rejiggered for DK weight. The yarn is Valley Superwash DK that I had left over from my own sweater plus the other colors in the same yarn that I bought and rejected. I love the Valley yarn; it is soft and squishy and sproingy and comes out of the washer and dryer looking exactly as it did going in (except, you know, clean). Machine launder-able is important to a new mom, imnsho...
The photo in the photo is the highly adorable Tulip sweater, much beloved of La Harlot; I am doing a similar stripe pattern but without the jigged edge between the stripes. The Tulip is a kit put together by Lettuce Knit in Toronto using Dream in Color worsted weight, a kit not available to me unless I drive to Toronto. (Hint: not gonna happen.) (Oops. I just checked Rav. The pattern is available.) I think my DK superwash sweater will be adorable, too. The stripe in progress is actually a dusty rose almost the same as the color in the rayon scarf visible at the left edge of the photo. My camera was not cooperating as well as I thought it should; it absolutely refused to flash for this one, and iPhoto could not correct the color well enough to make it accurate. Use your imagination, please.
btw, if you thought this post was actually a way for me to show off my knitting bags, you are absolutely right :-)
This is the beginning of a 2x2 ribbed hat intended for either Senator Ron Johnson or Rep. Sean Duffy, both of Wisconsin and two of my three guys in Congress. The previously mentioned Ellen and her friend Alison have started a project they call Warm Heads, Not Hot Heads.
Here is Ellen talking about the project:
"Pick a Congressperson for whom you’d like to knit a hat. You don’t have to agree with their politics, in fact it may be a more enriching experience for you if they don’t."
And Alison (emphasis mine):
"Invite any and all knitters who would like to join in to knit a hat...for their own congressional representative, whether Senate or House. Ask them to email me, perhaps send a photo or link to a Ravelry project, and let me know to whom a hat has been sent. I can track who is being covered (literally!) and if anyone wants to knit more than one hat, they can send them to me and I’ll handle mailing them to a rep who hasn’t received one yet.
"I’d like to write a standard note to go with it, to which any knitter could add her own personal message. I’m also thinking how cool it would be to design a hat for it, but I am also telling myself to keep it manageable. (Her husband) suggested that the hats be purple, a blending of red and blue, but I told him I want them to be worn!...After thinking on it all week, though, what is really compelling me is to highlight the need for civil discourse even over things we disagree on.”
Ellen's letter to accompany her hat(s):
This hat was hand knit with care for you. Many of your colleagues will also be receiving hats from knitters of all political stripes and from all around the nation.
Why a hat? Knit hats meet a simple need for warmth. They are an every day comfort. Everyone can use a good hat.
Civil political discourse also meets a simple need - the need for our government to have the best information and insights from many viewpoints. It would be an every day comfort to me and many other Americans if the airwaves were free of hate-filled rhetoric, and it would lead to good government. As I’m sure you agree, everyone can use good government.
Thank you for your service, and best regards,
P.S. More information about this effort, Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads can be found at http://twinset.us/?p=3732 or http://spindyeknit.com/2011/01/lets-change-the-world/. If you can not personally use this hat, please donate it to a worthy charity.
You can find out more about the project at either of the linked sites, above. For myself, I am knitting for two people whose political views are pretty far from my own. The yarn is some lightweight worsted superwash merino I got recently from Smiley's Yarns, and, yes, I would wear it myself.
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The other WIP that has been pending for w-a-y too long is my name-the-glass-head contest. Remember that? I didn't think so.
There were 16 entries (so much for bringing out the lurkers), each of whom suggested a dandy name.
And now... (drum roll, please)
...the winners are... (suspense mounts)
Gayle, for "Bubbles" (my favorite*)
Sophanne, for "Ida Lee." (the random winner).
Winners, check your email. Check your spam folder, too, since I foolishly made the subject line "You won my contest!" which is sure to be flagged as spam.
* "Marie Antoinette" was a close second (headless, get it?) but was ruled out on the basis of length. I couldn't see myself using a five-syllable name. Gail, you lost only because of my laziness energy efficiency.
Another UFO destined to be finished this week is the multicolored topdown striped raglan. I finished it -- except for the neckband -- months ago in September, but we had such a mild autumn that lasted well into November, I felt no push to do that last bit of knitting. Then there was a bit of sorta-kinda Christmas knitting, and wowzers, here it is January and cold and I could really, really use a wool sweater.
One tiny problem is that I made the neckline a bit too high, and adding a neckband in the usual way would make the sweater uncomfortably warm and probably scratchy on my delicate neck. I am such a fragile little snowflake, ya know.
My body decided a number of years ago that the way it would regulate its temperature was by the circulation in my neck. If I am cold outside, I don't worry about mittens or a hat or any of the normal things; wrap a scarf around my neck and I am fine. I gave up wearing turtlenecks at least ten years ago because there is no way to regulate my neck thermostat if it is completely encased in clothing. Mock turtles are okay, though, cuz they are not as tight-fitting.
So picking up stitches at the edge of the neck and knitting a neckband that would match the cuffs and hem -- about 1" wide, with a turning row of purl stitches and inner lining of navy blue merino -- was right out. Much thought went into possible solutions. What I finally decided on was to pick up the stitches, not at the edge of the neck, but 1/2" (or more) in from the edge. That should keep the neckband down where it won't annoy me. The gray-blue yarn is a bit scratchy and I worry about that turning row, but the merino lining of the neckband should be fine. In my quest for the right colors for the stripes I managed to acquire several skeins of the merino DK in navy, and that is what I have used to line the hem and cuffs.
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Smokey gave me a new camera for Christmas, a point-and-shoot Nikon that is easily pocketable, and that is what took the first photo, above. I gave Andrew my old iPod Touch for Christmas (it was what he wanted) and bought a new, 4th generation for myself. That is what took the second photo (the 4th gen iPod Touches have both a front and back camera, plus video -- awesome). The difference in quality is obvious, but this was a difficult photoshoot -- minimal natural light, no flash, taken in a mirror. I cropped them both and adjusted the color and exposure to improve both as much as possible. In better conditions that iPod will be handy. I always have it in my pocket, but I don't always have my camera.
Edited to add: My iPod Touch DIED on me yesterday! I was using it, put it into Sleep mode for a few minutes, then it refused to come back on. Rats, curses, #$%^#$!!! But Erika to the rescue. She sent me a link to a page that tells how to do soft and hard resets on the Touch (which I would have found on my own once I got over the denial, anger, and depression). Success!
::bowing in Erika's direction::
Making a Simple Things Shawlette for a non-knitting friend who doesn't read the blog. I hope.
I'm using a couple skeins of Koigu I bought at Purl Soho in May, 2007, when we were in NYC for #1's graduation from college. The knitting you see is the first skein plus a few yards from the second. I think I wound the yarn into center-pull balls early in 2009 with the intention of making a pair of socks from Knitting Socks From Hand-Painted Yarn but it never quite happened. After having been wound for so long, the yarn is not as delectable as it would have been in the skein. But I am suffering through it ;-)
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Back in 2005 when I got back into knitting big-time, I bought a pattern for a felted purse. It was the Oregon Tote by Janet Scanlon (scroll down to the second purse, the peach and yellow one). On the advice of the LYS clerk I bought bulky weight Lamb's Pride, which I chose in black, brownish-red, and heathery brownish-red. I chose the second and third because they would match my winter coat. Back in 2005 I had little or no designing experience and there was no Ravelry (oh, the horror!), so it took me a lot of knitting and frogging and reknitting to come up with a stripe pattern I found to be acceptable.
Here is what I finally settled on, using bits of other feltable yarns in my then-stash.
Looking at it now, after having checked out the 132 other Oregon Totes on Ravelry, I see it as woefully simplistic. Whatever. No way am I going to frog and reknit it, especially since that particular winter coat met the trash last winter. (Too many rips and tears to donate, darn. It was eight years old and had been worn to death.)
Why did it sit, unfinished, for five years? Because the top edge was to be finished off with three rounds of I-cord bind-off, and I couldn't understand the instructions. I had done I-cord, but this bind-off was just too difficult. So it sat, occupying a knitting bag and cable from my old Boye interchangeable needle set, for a long, long, long time.
Recently I finished my Dimorphous Mittens (coming soon to a blog near you), which have an I-cord bind-off on the outer mitts. I sucked it up and visualized how such a bind-off might work and walked through it in my head and did it. I still don't know if my version is *correct* because I haven't taken the time to look it up on YouTube or elsewhere, but it worked and it looks exactly like an I-cord bind-off should.
Whilst doing the mittens the thought in the back of my head was that once I had finished them I would be ready to tackle this aged UFO.
Behold a fuzzy photo!
Three rounds of I-cord bind-off (well, two completed and one ready to go) with the requisite slots through which to thread the I-cord straps.
Reading the I-cord instructions now, after five years of intensive knitting, I still find them incomprehensible. They are, in fact, the worst knitting directions I have ever read. Besides the aforementioned I-cord nonsense, I cannot find where it says where to put the slots for the straps. It is clear that one should make them when doing the first round of I-cord, but placement within that round is imprecise, if "imprecise" is taken to mean "not specified at all". The comments on Ravelry suggest that the pattern has since been rewritten to be clearer. That is particularly good, since this is fundamentally an easy knit and an excellent first project for a new knitter.
This is purportedly a knitting blog, right? So I should show you what I'm knitting, right? Right!
I am in the midst of the inner mittens of the Diaphonous Mittens. I worked on them in the car on the way to the baby shower on Saturday (1.5 hours) and on the way home to the south Minneapolis house afterward (1.5 hours) and on the drive back to Wisconsin on Sunday (2 hours; we stopped for breakfast and I knit in the restaurant).
I decided I wanted to put some colorwork on the inner mitts so they wouldn't be boring when I wasn't wearing the outer mitts. But I really had no idea of what colorwork pattern I would use; when I got to this point on Mitten #1 I stopped, put it on scrap yarn, and cast on Mitten #2.
On Monday I reached the same point on Mitten #2, and that night's bedtime reading was searching through Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries to find The Perfect Pattern.
Perfect. (I am using only three colors, though.)
Tuesday night I started the colorwork.
and knit on it while Smokey watched The Good Wife
and it was good.
Let me explain my choices. From what I have picked up about these mittens, having a yarn with some silk in it helps them grip the steering wheel when driving; it seems counterintuitive to me, but apparently having some silk is less slippery than having pure wool. The light and dark blue-gray yarns are Knit Picks Gloss sock yarn, a 70/30 wool/silk blend that was in the stash. I had bought it on a whim, just to see what a sock knit of wool-silk yarn would be like. (Haven't made the socks yet, but I don't think I will use enough of the yarn in the mittens to short the socks.)
Stay tuned to see if the non-skid silk thing is true...
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Minnesota and Wisconsin got hit with an ice storm Saturday night. We knew that freezing rain was in the forecast when we left for the shower/party, but what are ya gonna do? We didn't want to miss the Liberian experience.
When we walked out of the community center where the shower was held, the sidewalks were dangerously glazed with ice. I avoided the sidewalk in favor of walking on the dirt or the grass and managed to get to the car without falling.
You may remember that I have an uneasy relationship with gravity.
The side streets were also dangerously glazed, but the main streets weren't too bad; Smokey drove at a safe and sensible 10 - 15 miles per hour and we were fine. Until we came over a slight rise at University Avenue and East Hennepin and found that the slight downhill grade... was pure ice. He managed to brake and skid the car over to the snowbank at the side of the street without hitting any of the cars stopped at the light, but the next car after us was going slightly faster. That one bounced off our car (no damage, hurrah), hit the car diagonally in front of us, and glided around the corner to a safe stop. The driver, a youngish man, was very shaken by the experience. "I'm not driving any more tonight," he declared as he got out of the car and walked away.
The trouble was that the sidewalks were equally dangerous. As we drove past the fraternity and sorority houses by the University, I saw couples returning from dates, the females in high heels and absolutely unable to move. Their dates had to pull them up the tiniest incline, say, the entrance to an alley.
We thought we would be okay once we got onto the interstate to drive back to WI, the major highways probably having been salted and/or sanded as soon as the icing began. When we got to the intersection with I-35W, however, we saw that patrol cars were waving cars off the interstate; I-35W north was closed.
So we drove to the house in south Minneapolis, which took as long as it would normally take to drive back home to Wisconsin. The Minneapolis house is on a hill, and we parked heading downhill because we knew if we parked heading uphill we would never get the car out in the morning. This meant [cue menacing music] that we had to walk across the street to get to the house.
And the street was sheer ice, and, oh, did I mention it is a hill?
Knowing that I couldn't make it across the street -- even standing still in one place was not safe, I would start to slide downhill anyway -- I took off my shoes and socks and crossed that ice-glazed street in my bare feet. It may have helped slightly, but it was still an almost impossible task. And cold. Did I mention I was barefoot?
On Sunday morning the side streets were still horrendously slippery, but the freeway was open and in reasonably good condition. The drive home was uneventful until we reached our driveway, which was ice-glazed and -- of course -- downhill. When Smokey stopped the car after creeping down the driveway at what seemed like negative speed, it continued to slide toward the Aveo parked in front of the garage. Luckily, we stopped before hitting it.
And then we crept into the house and didn't leave again until Monday afternoon, amen.