Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cabling Along

Welcome back everyone!

I've been plugging away at Norah Gaughan's Deep V-Neck Vest from Knit Simple Fall 06. I'm using the Berroco Ultra Alpaca called for in the pattern. The color is Redwood Mix (6281), and it's beautiful. (Not so much in this photo.)

This vest had to be made following the enormous inspiration from Ann's Pie Man and my desire to knit something by Norah Gaughan. Plus, it spoke to the lazy knitter in me -- no cables on the back (just moss stitch) and no arms! Just perfect.

Well ... just perfect until I couldn't hit gauge no matter what size needle I used. Has that ever happened to you? Finally, I decided to go down a size and hope for the best. The measurements look good so far. I'll keep you posted!

Back at Home

Another fine Thanksgiving! Some small amount of knitting was accomplished (I hope to have one finished sock for my mother to post soon) but mostly it was about the yummy food and visiting with family. We travelled to Arkansas (Jonesboro) to visit the BackBou's brother's family. I need to take a moment to sing the praises of my sister-in-law, not only does she deal with her two children, work long hours at a steel mill, and seem to find time to do artsy things like paint furniture, but she also knits! Donna, you are my hero. She is currently working on Sonnet I believe ...

In other news, I have recently joined the Lean Plate Club's Holiday Challenge. I do this every year in the attempt to not add to my weight during the holidays and for the past 3 years I have either remained at the same weight after New Year's or have lost weight. This year, I gained 3 pounds over Thanksgiving. Hmm. Not auspicious.

Let me leave you with this:
What my children do with yarn when I am trying to find a moment to knit ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Vacation

Regular loquaciousness to resume soon, but in the meantime, my newest pair of socks and I are enjoying drinks by the pool.

Fortissima Colori Socka, Missoni 3003
simple stockinette, toe-up-magic-loop, magic cast-on, short-row heel socks.
South Florida, November 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wrist Warmers

Lately, Mouse has taken to wearing the Wrist Warmers I made last winter. The much loved pair are from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts in Noro Cash Iroha. Not willing to part from my warmers, I asked Mouse to pick out some yarn, and she could have her own.

I adapted the pattern by doing some real-life model measurements, grabbing the most convenient double pointed needles handy, determining gauge and casting on. I cast on 32 stitches and did a k2p2 rib in the round for five inches, then just ribbed back and forth for four rows to make the thumb hole. I joined the next row to start knitting in the round again. After about an inch, I bound off and was done!

This was super quick ... all done during the Aussie film "He Died with a Felafel in His Hand." It was a good night all around.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Three Skeins of Kureyon

Wow, but does free yarn bring people out of the woodwork. Thanks so much to all our new visitors and all the people who stopped by promising to knit Red Scarves with the FREE YARN. Thanks to the Random Number Generator, the winner of the Alpaca Silk is Becky of Knitting Interrupted. Congratulations, and be sure to let us know when you knit your scarf!

Because it is not ambitious enough to be knitting two adult sweaters, I must have some small, instant-gratification projects on the needles. Kathy over at MinxKnits has had me really feeling the Noro-spiration with her Norovember KAL, and I had a lone skein of Kureyon bouncing around in the stash and a hankering to make some mittens to match Rosebud's Kureyon hat from last winter.

At the end of last winter, I dutifully washed and and carefully stored the hats, feeling very much the meticulous housekeeper and carer of knitwear. However, the matching Kureyon hats must have grown in the wash, because unless Rosebud's and my heads both shrunk (unlikely), the hats were way too big. That will teach me to be such a conscientious hausfrau.

So, I decided a light felting and a trip through the dryer was worth a shot to restore our hats to a proper fit. If they felted too small, or never shrunk enough, some very cold Mongolians would receive our hats via the Dulaan Project.

The felting worked, and the hats are now firmer and way softer. No more scratchy Kureyon hats!

In the meantime, I tackled the mittens. Still glowing with designer-ly inspiration after my Noro jacket success, I decided to whip up some more original, mashed up Noro-ness. I wanted the functionality of a convertible mitten, but a little easier to use for my 5 year old. I decided to make mittens with a flap-covered slit in the palm so that Rosebud's hands could be warm tucked inside a woolen mitten, but her fingers could be easily accessible to tie a shoelace, zip a jacket, or have enough traction to climb the monkey bars on the playground.

With newly minted confidence and a concept in mind, I cast on for the Playground Mittens, using Ann Budd as a guide. They knitted up quickly and effortlessly, and were just as I imagined, I cast on for mitten #2 right away, ready to go from concept to finished object in two short days.

But, just on cue, came my moment of ego-deflation.

I made two left Playground Mittens!

But after a couple of days in time-out and a quick-frog to the flap, the second mitten emerged.

Pattern: Playground Mittens, my own, with much owed to Ann Budd
Yarn: One skein of Noro Kureyon
Notes: Looking back on my experience with the hats, , I should have knit the mittens larger, then lightly felted them to make them a little firmer and a lot softer. There was plenty of yarn left over too. Pepe has since requested a set of mittens just like them, so his version will allow me to experiment some more.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sick Day Beret

Please don't laugh at me ... I had the pattern, I had the yarn, now I have the Tweed Beret.

Yes, another FO from the new Interweave Knits.

This was a fun, quick knit that helped me survive the past week of sick days. Plus, I had the Donegal Tweed yarn left over from a vest I made last winter. I love the brilliant green color with flecks of orange, blue and purple.

Now let's see if ever wear out of the house!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Rainy Day -- Perfect for Knitting

It's a dismal, rainy day. The perfect day for me to blow off so many obligations, sit in my favorite chair, put on a new CD, and knit. But first a quick post.

Congratulations to Liz!
As many of you already know since you are readers of January One, Liz's The Shedir and the Spider is featured in the latest Yarnival issue! Liz, you are not only a talented knitter but also a fantastic writer. Not to mention a kind, compassionate soul. I am so honored to have you as one of my best friends.

I love knitters.
Love them. Earlier this week I sent Fiona Ellis (Inspired Cable Knits author) a brief email basically stating that I know you get lots of these emails, but I really love your book and hey, look at my sweater that you helped inspire and I sent her a link to Pumpkin Pie Man. She immediately wrote back -- how cool is that?

Hi Ann,
Thanks so much for your message...we do receive many messages from readers but always love to do so!

The sweater is wonderful, well done, and keep those creative juices flowing, you never know where they might lead you.

Thanks for taking the time to write.
best regards

She took the time to write me! She cares. Really folks, knitters are the kindest most supportive people that you'll ever meet. I am just sure of it.

In other news, I had a Birthday yesterday! Thirty-nine years on this planet! And now I have a ball winder and swift! Thank you my dear husband, the BackBou, who is truly the most wonderful knitting enabler (well, it makes you happy and you have something useful when you finish).

This newly wound Sterling Brook Farm yarn (from a Farmer's Market in Vermont, they mostly sell meat ... sigh) will become my offering for the Red Scarf Project.

I also have a ball of Austermann Step sock yarn "mit Aloe Vera und Jojoba Öl" thanks to my dear knitting group friends -- this stuff is so incredible! I can't wait to knit up some socks with it. Liz said that someone had knitted gloves with it -- excellent! Thanks Waldorf Knitters!

And now for some rainy day knitting ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Red Scarf Project 2007

My on-the-go stash-busting charity-knitting project for the last few weeks:

Pattern: LMKG's Cashmere Scarf -- it just a very simple rib pattern
Yarn: KnitPicks Andean Silk, cranberry. This yarn is super-soft and makes a perfect scarf. This is the third scarf I have knitted with this yarn, and would do it again!

It is for the Red Scarf Project, for inclusion in care packages for college-bound foster kids. Check out Norma's blog dedicated to the project to learn more and to see lots more fantastic scarves.

And in honor of our 200th post here on XRK, I have 4 balls of this gorgeous yarn I am willing to give to a lucky reader, as long as you promise to use it for the Red Scarf Project 2007. It truly is perfect scarf yarn, but I just don't have enough time to knit a second scarf between now and the deadline in January.

Leave your promise in the comments, winner chosen at random!

Monday, November 13, 2006


My Jawbreaker Cardigan from the Winter 06 Interweave Knits is done, and I love it!

This version is knit with seven skeins Tahki's Dakota in a dark brown (001). It's so warm and soft, I just want to give myself a big hug.

This sweater went so smoothly, I was convinced I'd have to rip every last bit out due to some crazy error. I did have to work the collar a couple times, and I'm still not sure it isn't going to flip up. If it does, I may just tack it down and move on!

Oh, and did I say I love it? Yes, I really do.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pumpkin Pie Man

Yes, I did run out of yarn for Pie Man. Here is my story ...

On Tuesday, I realized that the yarn was just not going to finish Pie Man. I was at a loss. I knew that I could gain a bit more yarn by reknitting the sleeves in stockinette but would it be enough? I was smart enough to realize that I needed some help, so it was off to The Yarn Lounge.

The generous and talented Melanie and Stewart were there to help me along with many other knitters who had helpful and creative suggestions. Make it a vest? How about 3/4 sleeves? Contrasting yarn? Pillows? And then a suggestion from someone (Stewart, what was your friend's name??) who is a knitwear designer: create a yoke on only the front with a contrasting color separated from the main design with a band of fair isle. Brilliant.

Stewart immediately picked out the perfect pumpkin color (from one of the flecks in the green tweed yarn). It was excellent. I was still on the fence about the yoke and the band of fair isle -- I thought it would look great, but how would it work? What would the shoulder seam look like? What pattern would I use for the band? What color for the collar? What stitch for the yoke? Should I rework the cuffs in the pumpkin?

"I can knit, but I can't design," I said, only to be quickly corrected by the designer. "You had made design decisions before you walked through the door. You knew you didn't want to tear out, create a vest, or make pillows. You knew which colors you didn't want and the one that you did. You are designing." She said that designing is all about making decisions, all she did was provide the input and everyone needs that. Wow.

This interchange with her opened a door for me. Just as Liz had defined herself before the Shawl Collar Cardie as a "follow-the-pattern" knitter, I had defined myself as 1) terrible with colors, 2) completely without style sense, and 3) unable to design a garment. It turns out that Liz was previously wrong about her design-on-the-fly abilities (you are really quite talented!) ... and maybe I have grown beyond my previous limitations as well.

When I got home from TYL, I got out my books and found an inspiration sweater in Fiona Ellis' Inspired Cable Knits: Evolving Traditions. I could see the sweater adapting and transforming now ...

However, Ellis' sweater had 3 colors, so I pulled out an oatmeal yarn that could work in the pattern, but then nixed it -- too bright and didn't seem to make sense with the rest of the Pie Man. I changed her pattern a bit to accomodated the two colors instead of three and went to work.

The band of fair isle looked wonderful! Sadly however, after finishing it, I realized that I had not done any decreases to take into account the switch from the cables to the band. Out came 2 inches of knitting. I knit a decrease row: decreasing 10 st, 1 per cable and 2 for each of the center 8st cables. In hindsight, I should have decreased maybe 2 more, but I fudged a bit on the seaming.

I knitted above the band in double moss (the sleeves are double moss in the green) and immediately started seaming the shoulders so that I could experiment with the collar. Oops! After seaming the right shoulder, I discovered that I had mistakenly knitted seed stitch for 4 rows on the right side instead of the double moss. (I knitted that while I was supervising the children raking leaves, no big surprise that I made a mistake!) Out came the seam, out came the seed stitch.

My finishing work is often sloppy, but I really focused this time -- unsure of how the arm and shoulder seams would look.

Here is the final product:

Pumpkin Pie Man

(The sweater is off-center in this picture.)


Pattern: Pie Man by Kim Hargreaves with adaptations by me and inspiration by Evolving Traditions by Fiona Ellis

Yarn: Aran Tweed by Kilcarra of Donegal and O-Wool Classic (saffron). The O-Wool is something incredible! Certified organic merino yarn ... soft, scrumptious colors, and a joy on the needles.

Needles: US 5s straight and US 7s circular

Modifications: See above!

I realized how much I loved growing with this project when I thought, "If I found a magical extra skein of the Aran Tweed, I would still go ahead with the pumpkin yoke pattern." Thank you mystery knitwear designer for your wise words ... Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz couldn't have said it any better!

*Update 11/13/06: My mystery knitwear designer is Cindy Taylor. Thank you Cindy!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Somebody Stop Me!

A quick review of my Flickr gallery will show that I have knit only one full-sized adult sweater this year, the denim sweater for my fabulous MIL. This year, I mixed in a lot of little projects with ones that required more sustained attention.

However, now I am heading into the end of 2006 knitting two sweaters simultaneously.

Refined Raglan in Malabrigo

This sweater is an act of pure indulgence. I am making this sweater for me in the softest, most gorgeous yarn I have ever knit. I know I have said this before, but this time I mean it! The intense colors and velvety hand are just mesmerizing. The colorblind Mr S noted that the swatch looked like a glass of red wine; the colorway is Burgundy. It is a modified EZ percentage system sweater with lots and lots of stockinette in the round, so it does not require a lot of attention.

This sweater is an act of total commitment and love. Mr S does not like to wear sweaters, which I always considered a good thing, as Mr S has a 44" chest and likes his clothes very roomy. He also has the scratchy-itchies, and even finds cashmere a little scratchy. He seemed content with scarves and slippers and other little projects. However, a year ago, Mr. S picked this pattern and yarn color and asked me to knit him a sweater. The sweater has a roomy, casual fit, and calls for Cascade Sierra, an 80/20 cotton/wool blend. Mostly cotton, but just enough wool to keep it from stretching. Supposedly. And the color he chose is perfect because not only does it match his existing wardrobe of about 25 blue shirts, but it is matches his blue eyes perfectly.

I purchased the yarn right away, but have delayed knitting it because, well, because it is going to be so. Damn. Big. And I am not certain that Mr S will even wear it. Or that it will fit. Or that it will not stretch beyond the point of wearability.

But I can no longer take his crestfallen look when I cast on a sweater for someone else. It may take some time, but Mr S is going to get his sweater.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pie Man Looking a Bit Short ...

I just keep slowing down as I approach the end of my last skein of yarn for Pie Man. I can't see how it's going to work. I think tonight will find me unraveling the sleeves and tomorrow's knitting group will be spent reknitting them in stockinette. Err. One day I WILL get better about estimating yardage. I hope.

I will leave you with some pictures from our weekend hike to Humpback Rocks in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I get a wiggly stomach near the precipice which is why I have such a grumpy look on my face!

We missed the height of the fall colors, but it was still incredibly beautiful!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This Sweater

There was a time when I heard other knitters talk about designing on-the-needles, I would think that I would never be that knitter. I had settled on being a follow-the-pattern knitter, leaving the designing to other, more creative people. I never thought I would go beyond maybe an Ann Budd formula.

This is the sweater that changed that.

Pattern: Something Mashed-Up, an original design
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, about 7 skeins

Here is the long story of my first design-on-the-fly sweater:

Chapter One: Discard originally intended pattern after reading about fit-issues on other blogs. Reconsider horizontal striped pullovers in general as unflattering on very short yet curvalicious bod.

Chapter Two: After settling on a cardigan, purchase Wendy's Something Red, remembering the love of the top-down raglan.

Chapter Three: Still in love with the effect of original pattern's chevrons in the stripey yarn, decide to substitute them for the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater. Stitch count miraculously works out with the addition of one selvage stitch.

Chapter Four: Try to add chevrons to sleeve cuffs. Can't get chevrons to work in the round. Settle for garter stitch cuffs.

Chapter Five: Decide on shawl collar, knowing nothing about how to knit shawl collar, besides involving short rows. Decide to just wing it as a learning experience. It is uneven and wonky, but not a bad start. At least I know that the body of the sweater is both too short and that the chevron section pulls in too much for desired fit. Mr S notes that the end of sweater body curls and expresses sincere hopes that it blocks out.

Shawl collar, v. 1

Chapter Six: Rip out shawl collar attempt, as well as the chevron section. After hoping for a jacket-like fit, decide to reknit chevrons on larger needle to account for smaller gauge. I also knit last few rows in garter to lesssen curling. Still make sweater a little short to account for Silk Garden's reputed tendency to stretch. I hope this is a good idea.

Chapter Seven: Look at a few patterns for guidance on shawl collars. Realize first attempt was backwards, but generally the right idea. Measure shawl collar on commercially-made shawl collar sweater to get general measurements as a guide.

Chapter Eight: Knit second shawl collar. Try on garment. Mr S declares it will be perfect once its blocked. Mr S has clearly learned the value of blocking.

Chapter Nine: Blocked, ends woven and button sewn. The perfect outer layer for those not-so-cold days at the bus stop.

It is not the best fitting garment; the armscyes are too deep, and the buttonhole is a little low. But as this represents a giant step for this knitter, I am deeply satisfied.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Who Doesn't Need a Cape?

FO Alert! It's a girly cape done with less than one skein of Brown Sheep Nature Spun. I cast on 128 stitches on size 7s and did a couple rows in seed stitch. Then I switched to 8s, and it was off to stockinette land for eight inches. Finally, I decreased every four rows until it was time for the seed stitch again.

Mouse (my DD's new blog name) was so excited that she insisted I sew on a button from the stash this morning. We planned to go button shopping tomorrow, but the client insisted. I think we still need a new button as the one we used is really too small for the hole.

This entire project was from the mind o' Mouse. She specified the color, shape and button detail (she wants a REALLY big silver button). I can't wait to hear what's next. I'm ready!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In Recovery

The Pumpkin Carving Party
Sorry for the lack of knitting news here in Richmond! The BackBou and I are still recovering from the Pumpkin Bash last weekend. It was fabulous! It is never entirely successful without Mo, Liz, and their families, but it was great nonetheless. Here are some of the numbers ...

90 adults
85 children
54 pizzas
10 pounds of onions, carmelized
8 pounds of mozzarella
3 pounds of gorgonzola
1 porch swing twisted out of the ceiling
oh yeah, and some pumpkins were carved too ...

Knitting News
I finally finished the pie man sleeves. I am starting on the front now and very worried that I'm going to run out of yarn. I only have 3 skeins left. I think it took about 3 for the back, but I'm not sure since I was using partial skeins. If I don't have enough, I'm going to unravel the sleeves and do them in stockinette stitch instead of the double moss. However, I really hope to have a finished sweater to post soon!

And I'm very interested in the sweater Liz has in the works!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Here's proof that I have but one craft.

Halloween costumes, compliments of my oddball stash.

Princess Crown

Dinosaur Tail