Monday, December 31, 2007

One Last FO for 2007

Rolling hills of chocolate? No, but almost as good. Deliciously soft yarn in a color inspired by the landscape of Siena. This is the Tuscany Shawl from No Sheep for You, in the Woods colorway of Knit Picks Andean Treasure, and barring any knitting miracles (i.e. finishing the sleeve of that Tomten tonight) this will be my last FO for 2007.

This is how it looks after a very light block. I'm going to let it sit for a day or two and then block it a bit harder - I don't want the relief-effect of the leaves to go away entirely, but it's still a bit puckery and the edges don't want to behave.

I decided against the Russian bind-off recommended in the pattern because I find that finish rolls a bit too much for my taste. Instead, I did an applied i-cord over two stitches, which took forever to do (okay, it only took one evening, but it felt like forever) and matched the side edges just fine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Hubbub

In between knitting, wrapping, cooking, wrapping some more, cleaning, and what-have-you, there's been the usual holiday goings-on. A little singing (How cool are Mary's shoes?)...

A little fencing (That's Anna on the right, fencing foil for a change!)...

The girls studying for finals, Fiona getting ready to finish the rest of her applications, Mary being good for Santa, Anna doing a lot of needlework in the lair (a.k.a. her bedroom). I love the holidays, but I'm looking forward to some quality couch time starting December 26th.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Done!

The Hemlock Ring throw is may have seen it peeping out beneath Tracy's chenille scarf in my last post. Here it is in all its glory, blocked and ready to go. It's about four feet in diameter, I'd guess, scalloped all around and with a lace bind-off.

I truly enjoyed the process, so much so that I may cast on another soon. Maybe in washable wool next time, or a linen/cotton blend...we'll see.

I've also dragged out a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects, my dear non-knitters) to see if I could could knock those out in the next few days. I've decided not to kill myself before Christmas, though, so anyone out there expecting these for a present, don't hold your collective breaths. Above is my brown Tuscany shawl, pattern from No Sheep for You; below is the Clarence border scarf from Victorian Lace Today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My New Favorite Scarf

As a knitter, I hardly ever get knitted gifts from other people. In fact, I'm trying to remember if it's ever happened, and I'm beginning to think it never has.

That's what makes this gift so special - my dear friend Tracy, who will swear up and down that she can't knit, blah, blah, blah...made this scarf for me, from her own two hands.

I absolutely love it and I can't wait to wear it. Chenille, even - the bane of my knitting existence. Plus, with added fringe, which I'm usually too damn lazy to add myself. Thank you Tracy - I love it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Knit, Bind, Block...Repeat

In case it seems like all I do is I am knitting WITH PEOPLE. The Infinite Knitters came by on Monday night for a little dessert party, but as you can see even chocolate can't distract these ladies from their needles! I had no idea my shoes gleamed like that, by the way.

That night I was working away on the Hemlock Ring, which is now about halfway bound off and heading for Blocktropolis hopefully later today. And below, a FO: an autumn gold Calorimetry with a copper button - the result of that $2 ball of yarn from Knitting in La Jolla!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Desperate Times

I'm in such a hurry to finish as many Christmas knits as I can that I've turned to my pile of hibernating WIPs (works in progress, you non-knitters). This Falling Leaves shawl has been sitting in a drawer for the past eight months, only to be resurrected, ends woven, steam blocked, and hung neatly for possible giving. I don't even know who I'd give it to - but it's ready.

Today Fiona and I were in Coronado at an NCL tea for her class. I dreaded going to this...taking time out at a very busy time of year for a tea. But you know? It was fun, and I got to eat scones with clotted cream (I am so trying this.). And since I came home and, psychologically at least, finished an entire shawl today, who can complain?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Bandwagon Knit

Quick, to the point, one evening of knitting - can't beat that with a pointy pair of sticks. No wonder the entire known knitting universe is whipping up a Calorimetry for Christmas!

The yarn is a partial skein of Lang Thalja in a beautiful blue green. It's a DK/sport weight, but I'd read that the pattern knits up big for many people and since I tend to have that problem with every pattern I just went with the smaller gauge.

For me, the button makes this. I found it at Knitting in La Jolla, which was also the scene of the crime as far as where that skein of Thalja originated too. I still have about 1.5 skeins of this same color, and today whilst button shopping I scored a $2 ball of it in a really pretty Autumn gold (and it may be the very first yarn I've ever bought from a sale bin, because my subconscious equates "sale" with "not for you"). For you locals, I'm sorry, but I think I took the last one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunflower Tam

My needles are on fire. I'm furiously trying to knit as much as I can before the Christmas deadline, laying away as many little items as possible so I can pull gifts out. I've given up the idea of giving everyone a handmade gift, but some people might just luck out.

Right now, I've got the tomten still on the needles - one sleeve finished (well, if you, like I, generously call knitted but not seamed "finished") and the other sleeve ready to start.

The Hemlock is still flying along; it's what I take with me in my bag for on-the-go knitting. It's big, but there's an awful lot of mindless stockinette between the feather-and-fan rounds. I anticipate being finished before Christmas, but I think this is a present for me.

I've finished the Sunflower Tam you see above, and Anna has claimed it. It's from Knitting Nature, which I recommend as a very inspirational book, and I think I may cast on another in some Koigu Kersti I have.

Lastly, if you don't count numerous projects I have in various stages of hibernation, I have a candle flame scarf in progress. I've finished about three of the nine repetitions, so I may have that done in time as well. Look at Snoopy - he's so cold right now. It's a good thing we don't live where it actually, like, snows. I shudder to think what would happen if the outside temp dropped below 55.

If you are knitting for the holidays, I wish you good luck and speedy needles!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our Yearly Giant Scarfathon

This last Saturday was our yearly holiday hands-on meeting for our NCL chapter, and we had lots of hands-on philanthropy projects for people to do. We filled candy bags for Monarch School, made fleece blankets for Senior Community Center, created holiday cards for Meals on Wheels, and of course, everybody's favorite: knitting scarves!

We knit pink scarves for Susan G. Komen, we knit scarves for St. Vincent de Paul, we knit scarves for the Salvation Army. And if you've been looking for Homespun at the San Diego Michael's, good luck. I think our chapter must single-handedly wipe out the inventory every November because that's by far people's yarn of choice. I personally would rather knit with snakes (although - I actually like snakes! Especially - heh heh - gartere snakes! Get it? Garter Snakes! No Purling!) but hey, to each her own.

I usually opt out of knitting any kind of long skinny rectangles of acrylic, but I do like to knit baby things for Salvation Army's Door of Hope. I usually crank out a few pairs of booties or little caps every year.

This year I made up a new little pattern for the more adventurous beginners. Those who are afraid of circular needles or doing decreases or anything like that. I threw in a YO so they could learn something new, and followed it with a K2Tog just to really spice it up. You can see Anna above knitting away on one...she started this about a half-hour before I took that picture and is almost done with hers. I can only wish I knit as fast. And, p.s., witness Fiona up there scheming with her cousin about how soon they can leave the NCL meeting and go hang out somewhere where they won't have to do any good deeds. But I digress...

I think they came out pretty cute, so if you feel like knitting for a local charity, grab some washable worsted and have at it! The image down below shows a schematic - the drawstring hat is on the bottom half of the page and the World's Easiest Baby Hat - truly! - is at the top.

Drawstring Baby Hat

This super high-tech design consists basically of a rectangle with some holes along one side of it. Your gauge isn't that important, since babies are variable in size...The finished dimensions are about 7x10". Make the holes every inch or inch and a half or so, just making sure you end up with an even number of holes for lacing up later. Six or eight will work fine.

If you're afraid to wing it, here are some more specific instructions.

You'll need to be able to:

1. knit plain garter stitch (knit every row)
2. do a YO (a yarn-over, which will open a new world for you, and which you can see a tutorial for here - scroll down to the bottom - you probably want the English version)
3. follow that YO with a K2Tog (knit two together, which is just what it sounds like, and which you can see here)

Using a washable worsted-weight yarn, CO 30 sts and knit 2 rows

Row 3: k8, yo, k2 tog, knit to end
Knit 11 rows.

Row 15: k8, yo, k2 tog, knit to end
Knit 11 rows.

Continue in this manner, putting in a lacing row every 12 rows, so that:

Rows 27, 39, 51, 63: k8, yo, k2 tog, knit to end
and all others are knit plain.

After you have 6 holes and have knit approximately 9 - 10 inches, get ready to finish.

Rows 64 - 70: Knit

Bind off, fold piece in half and sew the cast-on edge to the bound-off edge. Weave in ends.

Make a lace: braid some yarn, use ribbon, etc. Thread through the hole, draw tight and tie securely. Trim if too long.

Click on the schematic below for a larger image of the Drawstring Hat as well as a folded-over garter rectangle hat.

Copyright 2007 Lydia McNeil - You may not use this pattern for profit or reproduce it for profit; you may use it to knit hats for yourself, for others, or most certainly for charity, but not to sell.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lots on the Needles!

Here's that Squatty Sidekick, all done and ready to wrap up unless I decide to line it (Hey, did I hear laughing? So what if I'm lazy and/or self-indulgent? It's Christmas!). It was quick to knit but took a long time to dry because we had some rain here, so I had to wait on sewing the closure, which is just a large glass bead I bought here.

In other knitting, I'm still working on the tomten. I knit an inch or two onto that sleeve every day, and then I go do something more interesting, like this:

This is the Hemlock Ring lap blanket, in a Cascade 220 Heather (can't remember what they call the particular blue - Denim maybe?). Anyway, I'm almost through one skein and at row 11 of Jared's charted portion, of the 57 rows on the chart. Doesn't seem that far away until you realize there are more and more stitches as you get to the outer part of the wheel! I'm enjoying it, though. Isn't the middle pretty, even before all its lacy goodness is revealed by blocking?

I'm also working on a few other things, including an easy baby hat to share with our National Charity League group this weekend, inspired by the Zeebee but designed for people afraid to face short rows, ribbing, or purling at all (i.e. people who just learned to cast on and are already worried about how it will all end). Hopefully I'll have a prototype to share by tomorrow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What is It?

No, it's not a red elephant mask. It's a Squatty Sidekick, knitted from almost one skein of Malabrigo in Amoroso and woven in but not yet a FO. Here it is blocking:

And yes, I'm still working on the tomten, not to worry. I just had to give in and cast on something else. And now that this is done, I'm also working on one of these. And some smaller stuff will have to follow in rapid succession, because starting tomorrow, it's 12 Days of Presents, baby.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sleevage in Progress

Normally I don't show photos of my works in progress. I prefer the big bang of a FO at the end, a fait accompli if you will. But the tomten wasn't built in one day, so a WIP you will witness. I did consider casting on a small project just to have blog fodder but I'm resisting.

So there you see how the Unikat looks next to the Malabrigo on the sleeve - it's really wonderful. I'm using the technique suggested in The Opinionated Knitter, so I didn't bind off the underarm sts; I placed them on scrap yarn and now that it's time to knit the sleeves I've got them on a dpn. As I work the sleeve back and forth in garter, I consume an underarm stitch at the end of each row by k-ing2tog so I won't have to go back and seam that portion. The added bonus? When those sts are gone, I will have knitted the appropriate number of ridges before I have to start the sleeve decreases so hopefully I won't forget.

Coming up: Do I knit the sleeve in the round, necessitating purling? Or do I knit flat, necessitating seaming? Shall I edge with sideways garter ridges, or knitted-on i-cord? Which is the right side, because I actually like the "wrong" side of that sleeve stripe quite a bit? Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Glad I Waited

We had a lovely post-Thanksgiving day yesterday. Coffee at Rebecca's, a little browse at the Grove, and an afternoon movie before getting together for leftovers.

Look what I found at the Grove: the most perfect yarn to edge that Tomten! I knew all the holdups that kept me from finishing the hood were for a reason. If I'd finished sooner, I would've used something else.

This is Unikat Merino in the Peach & Purple colorway, and it is scrumptious. I think the Grove has less yarn inventory now than they used to, but what they have is primo. Interesting yarns and textures, and the whole place is full of inspiring objects and books.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is not my Thanksgiving dinner. We're eating the real thing, along with stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, mashed potatoes, Sharman's Yummy Yams, peas, Jackie's Brussels Sprouts, corn pudding, creamed onions with gruyere, and four kinds of pie from the ovens of chez Windansea. My sister Betty and I split the cooking: she's the turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries; I'm the yams, corn, onions, pies (apple, pumpkin, pecan, mince); our friend Jackie brings some very awesome Brussels sprouts; my sister Nancy brings frozen peas (that's middle child syndrome for you) and maybe this year some cauliflower, I think she said.

Saturday John and I had a know how other couples have date night? We have date groceries. But that's not John in the photo, of course! That's my local friendly Trader Joe's manager. Isn't he great? Right after John snapped that shot, Turkey Man plunked that hat on my head. Maybe I need one of these next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Woman on the Edge

Remember how I'm thinking about what I'm going to edge the Tomten in? I'm about halfway through the hoodie portion, so the question of a contrasting yarn is going to come up very soon - probably today - because I'd like to start the sleeves in a few rows of the contrast.

I've already looked at the available Malabrigo in my neighborhood, and I've looked through my stash - nada. So yesterday I took myself over to Knitting in La Jolla and wandered through the yarn with the Tomten-on-Needles held out before me like a divining rod.

I came up with two possibilities: the Manos you see above in a beautiful orange-yellow hue, and the jewel-like colorway here (which I've used before and really like):

Later today, if I get through the hood, I will add a few rows of the jewel-toned Manos to the beginning edge of the sleeves to see how it goes with the body color. If it works, voila. If not, I'll frog and try the yellow-orange.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

It's a long stretch of garter stitch, that Tomten. I'm combating the boredom by imagining what I will edge with. The Kureyon? Or will that be too, um...colorful?

I'm past the sleeve holes and getting ready to join the shoulders back onto one needle again...then it's the hood, then the sleeves. The second skein of Malabrigo, in Bergamota, by the way, will take me through the body. I'll have to join yarn for the hood, and will hopefully have enough for the sleeves. I consulted with Mary about the hood versus collar option, but she likes a hoodie.

Friday, November 16, 2007


It's Norovember, and who can resist a reason to stock up? A little Kureyon is the perfect way to end the week. I have no idea what I'll do with it yet - perhaps a scarf, for a change. All I know is I've got the garter stitch blues right now. I'm on ridge 32 of the tomten, and I'd be super excited about getting past the halfway mark on the body if it weren't for the prospect of knitting the sleeves. I love how the garter stitch looks, but it's a little dry.

So dry, in fact, that last night I cast on some Cascade Eco-Wool in black for a 3-spiral hat. And when that didn't help too much, there was nothing to do but go yarn shopping. Luckily I have two LYS very nearby, including the wonderful Knitting in La Jolla.

The Berroco Ultra Alpaca above and below will probably become some gift knitting. So see? I was super productive today...really.

And as for the Kureyon, even Snoopy thinks it was a good idea.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November in Paradise

This happened last year too - right when I should be in the thick of knitting, we're hit with a heatwave right around Thanksgiving. Not to mention - I ask you...who feels like baking pie and roasting turkey when it's 80 degrees out?

On the other hand, look where Mary and I got to spend the afternoon.

Plus I'm even knitting:

The crummy cellphone photo depicts me working away on a tomten, round about ridge 28. It's taking a loooong time to get through those ridges, too, because my apparent inability to count caused me to cast on 128 sts rather than the recommended 112. What does that matter, you ask? EZ says you can cast on any number divisible by 8....but then, all the proportions have to change, too - so instead of knitting to ridge 40 and starting the sleeve areas, I'm going to have to go to 48 ridges. Oy. I had to get a spreadsheet out and enter formulas and draw diagrams and everything just to figure out my knitting.

Stay tuned to see if it works. Until then, I'm shaking the sand out of my wool and knitting on with confdence.