Posted in Finished object, Knitting

Another FO, another post

Hmmph. Two blog entries on two consecutive days. Better check my temperature…

But first, you must admire my socks.

Dusk Socks 2

Pattern: Twilight by Melissa Morgan-Oakes (from Two At A Time Socks)
Yarn: Debbie Macomber‘s Blossom Street Collection Petals Sock in #609 Flowering Cabbage, 1 skein (462 yards)
Needles: Size 2 DPNs
Satisfaction with end product: I love these socks. I love the yarn, too, and will gladly use it again, but not on socks. Why? Well, the yarn is so soft and fluffy that I’m actually afraid the socks will pill like crazy if I wear them with shoes. Therefore, these will become keep-my-feet-warm-in-winter house socks. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

The only bad thing about making these socks was the quality of the needles I used. Several years ago, before I learned about decent needles, I bought a boatload of inexpensive aluminum DPNs in multiple sizes. Sometime before finishing sock number one, the color coating wore off at the ends on the size 2s I used. So my next major needle purchase will be some quality DPNs. Lots of people tell me I should get DPNs made from bamboo or some other wood, but I actually prefer metal needles most of the time. I saw some nickel-plated DPNs in some catalog not too long ago, so maybe I’ll investigate those a little further. Research is always a good thing. Maybe I’ll borrow a set of wood DPNs from someone to try out for comparison’s sake. It’s not urgent, by any means. The cheapie aluminums are still serviceable, just a little annoying because they’re not quite as slick where the colored coating has worn off.

And here’s another picture of my gorgeous socks.

Dusk Socks 1

Yes, I made sure the stripes matched. Ya wanna make somethin’ of it?

Posted in Book stash, Finished object, Knitting, Life in general, Yarn stash

The Avatars of They

Way back in April, during Knit and Crochet Blog Week, I wrote about the challenge my friend Alice had issued: to make her very own Avatars of They, “they” being They Might Be Giants and “avatars” being, well, The Avatars.

Avatars recumbent.
Avatars recumbent.

So, one fine Saturday in late May, Alice and I went yarn shopping. We put the top down on the convertible, plugged Imagine Dragons into the CD player, and set the GPS to take us to Lovin’Knit Yarn Studio in Marietta.

So, here we are, starting from Clarkston on the east side of Atlanta. Where we need to go is on the northwest side. Sprint GPS sends us south (?) on I-285 and then west on I-20. Okay, not necessarily out of the ordinary, because I know some major construction is happening on the 285 loop north of Atlanta, and I have the GPS set to avoid traffic. I figure we’ll catch I-75 in the downtown area and… wait, there goes the exit for 75. Hmm. Okay, traffic’s often backed up on 75 as well. Maybe we’re catching 285 north on the other side of the metro area… wait, there goes the exit for 285! Where on earth is GPS taking us? But, you know, it’s a beautiful day, it’s barely 10 AM and we’ve got nothing but time, so what the heck, right? Let’s allow the adventure to continue. Never know what we might find!

I stopped and filled the car with gasoline because I was under a quarter tank, bought a bottle of water, and got back on the interstate. Road Less Traveled Alice tweets, “This is turning into an epic road trip!” And then we’re past Douglasville — which means Marietta and any way I know to get to Marietta is way to the northeast behind us — and we’re taking an exit out in the middle of the country somewhere and GPS wants us to keep going west? No, no, no. There’s no way this can be right. This is not where we are supposed to be. So I pull over and look at the phone.

Somehow Sprint GPS thought Lovin’Knit in Marietta (which, I swear on my mother’s life, is what I typed) was actually some other store (the name of which I don’t recall right now) in Villa Rica.


Classic example of the GIGO concept. As sophisticated as they may be in and of themselves, electronics are truly only as smart as their operators.

Aaaaand, let’s leave it on that note, ‘mmm kay?Robot Overlords

Reset GPS, get back on I-20 going east this time, and look! GPS tells us to take 285 north. We take 285 north and follow the rest of the directions right to the front door of our preferred yarn store.

We encountered much success at the yarn store, finding exactly what we needed colorwise. Alice bought one skein each of Cascade 200 Handpaints in colorway Green Mix, Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky in colorway Orange Fire, Hikoo by Skacel Simpliworsted in colorway Bluebell, Berroco Weekend in colorway Clothesline, and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in colorway Bark. Botanical Knits Each of these yarns (with the exception of the Cascade 220) was new to me: not only did I get to challenge myself by making a project based on a photograph, but I’d get to sample some luscious new yarn while doing so! Win!

Nor did I escape the yarn store with my bank account unscathed. As we were walking out the door, a book caught my eye. Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos. The cover sweater stopped me in my tracks and, when I paged through the display copy to see the rest of the designs, I knew I had to make every one of them. It’s seldom every single design in an entire pattern book strikes such a resonance in my soul; Coastal Knitsusually, if I like four or five out of a dozen or so, it’s worth the money to buy the book. I loved these so much that, when I got home that afternoon, I looked up its companion volume, Coastal Knits, and promptly ordered that as well.

Also that evening, I began work on the Green Avatar. I kept the Kindle by my side with the Avatar pic displayed for referral purposes, cast on 44 stitches using size 8 DPNs and the Cascade 220, and started knitting away. About two inches of two-by-two ribbing, then straight stockinette all the way up, switching to the orange Lace Merino Chunky and then back again to add the stripes. Green Avatar in progress When I got up to where the mouth should go, I put 20 stitches on a stitch holder, worked the round, added 20 provisional stitches above the stitch holder using the backwards loop cast-on over a length of scrap yarn, and kept going until it was time to decrease for the head. Back to the orange Lace Merino Chunky again, decreasing as if this were the toe of a sock, finishing off with Kitchener stitch.

Now for the mouth. Easier ways to make a sock puppet mouth must exist, but I was working without a pattern, so this whole thing was an experiment. Using the Cascade 220, I picked up the stitches from the stitch holder first and added a chin of sorts by knitting rows with wraps and turns until I had eight or ten stitches left, then changed to the Lace Merino Chunky and knitted until I picked up all those wraps and again had 20 stitches. Blue Avatar in progress Back on the stitch holder they went. Same method with the upper stitches: picked up the provisional cast on, knitted with wraps and turns to create an upper lip, switched to orange, picked up the wraps. Kitchener stitched the inside of the mouth together. It didn’t turn out badly, but it wasn’t nearly as neat as I liked, plus there were some pretty big holes. A quick whipstitch around the edge of the mouth with the green Cascade made it look much better. And so, by Sunday evening, except for eyes and stuffing, Green Avatar was done. Blue Avatar had just about the same process but took a little bit longer: started knitting the following Saturday, finished knitting the following Monday or Tuesday.

As is often the case with my “finished” projects, the Avatars sat eyeless and stuffingless for a couple of weeks. Is it dark in here? Finally, their sightless visages caused me enough guilt that I went to Hancock Fabrics in Decatur to buy buttons for eyes and a piece of remnant muslin to make tiny pillows with which to stuff their heads. Said buttoning and stuffing was completed Wednesday evening. Thursday morning, I emailed Alice: “I have your puppets. If you ever want to see them again, bring a bar of chocolate to [our office building] lobby at 10 AM.” “I have a meeting at 10,” she responded, “but I’m free before or after. I’ve never negotiated with a kidnapper before: is this allowed?” “Never been a kidnapper before,” I sent back. “11 is okay. But no police, or the puppets get it.”

She came alone, with a Twix bar. And I gave her the puppets.

Avatars 2Avatars 6

Posted in Knitting, Project planning, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: The Catching Up Edition

Ooooh, woe is me.

Actually, to be grammatically correct, that sentence should read: “Woe am I”, but this is a knitting and crochet blog, not a grammar blog. My blog, my rules. Nyah.

So, back to the woe bit. Wabbit. “Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!”

Sheesh. ADHD much, avanta? Focus, woman!

This state of mind brought to you by the fact I have several projects that are just. this. close. to being finished, and I can’t focus on any one of them long enough to make that last half a sock, or those last few stitches or seams. And my craft room is in an even more giant mess than usual, simply because spouse and I purchased the shelving units I wanted and I’ve had to tear the whole room apart before I can put it back together again. See?

Craft Room Reorg 2

Oh, wait, though. There’s more.

Craft Room Reorg 1

All is not lost, however. Because I have made small progress. Some of the yarn has found a home in bins. I just need more bins. And the gumption to tackle the stack of books and arrange them in the shelves in some semblance of order. Not to mention the stamina to go through every single pattern magazine and assign it to a proper magazine file. Speaking of which, I need more magazine files, too. But eventually, all will be organized, and these cubbies will be filled with neatness and order, and I’ll be able to find the damn magazine with the pattern I want when I want it and not six weeks later when I already started to use that yarn with a different pattern.

Craft Room Reorg 3

In yarn news, the cabled shrug is completely blocked, all the ends are woven in, and all it needs is seaming and buttons.Dolce Shrug 7

One sock is complete (and somewhere downstairs at the moment; don’t ask me why; at this point I have no idea) and the other sock has about two or three inches to go before starting the heel flap.

Dusk Socks 1

And the Kindle cozy just needs its button loop attached at one end and a button sewn on.

Kindle Cover 1

*sigh* This is a project which I no longer actually need, because I bought a cover that will actually protect the Kindle rather than keep it warm, but, you know, it’s pretty, so I’ll keep it and maybe put the Kindle with its protective cover inside the cozy anyway. On those really cold days next winter. In Georgia. Then again, maybe I’ll frog this and repurpose the yarn for something else. It’s 100% cotton, I only used about half the skein and I have a whole other skein in the same color…hm. It’s a thought.

WIP WednesdaysThat’s it for this WIP Wednesday. Click the badge to see what’s going on elsewhere in the WIP Wednesday blogosphere.

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Project planning

4KCBWDAY2 — A Mascot Project

2013 Blog Week Banner
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. Alternatively it could be a type or colour of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature.
House of Monkey. Hmm.House of Monkey

It’s tempting to go the obvious route and talk about sock monkeys. Except (a) I never had a sock monkey when I was a child; (b) I’ve never made a sock monkey for anyone; and (c) I don’t think sock monkeys are all that and a bag of chips, anyway.

BUT. If we go with the idea that monkeys enjoy a challenge, I have just the thing. It’s even sort of sock-monkey-ish in character.

A few days ago, my dear friend Alice emailed me a photograph, asking if I thought I could make the subjects of said photograph because she really really really wanted them. And she doesn’t knit. (I probably should offer to teach her, but truthfully I don’t think she’s interested.) I studied the photograph and replied in the affirmative, but I wasn’t going to promise I could match the variegated green yarn on one of the critters.

These are the critters in question, by the way:

The Avatars of They

See, Alice is The Number One Fan of They Might Be Giants, so naturally The Avatars of They belong in her possession. Well, not the actual Avatars, because they must stay with the band, but their doppelgangers, certainly, need to live with Alice and her family.

The Avatars present quite a challenge because I’ll be working without a formal pattern. A basic sock monkey pattern will suffice for guidance, I suppose, which means I must acquire one. The blue and brown yarns won’t be too difficult to match, or at least get close, in color. That green and orange, though…that will take some doing.

BTW, here’s a more complete pic of The Avatars:

Avatars recumbent.
Avatars recumbent.

I can’t decide if they were made with fingering weight or sport weight. The blue one (do they have names, I wonder?) certainly looks like it used sock yarn. The green one looks like it might be made of sport weight cotton. I think either weight will work. Much will depend on finding similar green and orange colorways, so that will be the determining factor in yarn weight.

And, naturally, I have nothing in stash that will suit either puppet. Oh, darn, I have to go yarn shopping. The horror of it all.

So, there you have it. Not only is the proposed project monkey-like in appearance, it is monkey-like in characteristic as well: challenging AND fun. And it involves buying yarn.

What could be more appropriate for a monkey like me?

To read other posts from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 4KCBWDAY2, or click here.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Project planning, Yarn stash

You just can’t take me anywhere…

…that I won’t find yarn.

So, I’ve been back since late Thursday from the trip to Florida for my uncle’s funeral. ‘Nuff said about that.

Ormond-by-the-Sea is where we were. Pretty little place. Of course, just about any coastal village is going to be pretty, given the huge advantage of proximity to a scenic coastline. Location, location, location…and we were located directly across the street from the beach.

The view from the parking lot
The view from the motel parking lot

I ran across the street to the beach every chance I got. I miss the ocean something dreadful and, although this wasn’t my beloved Pacific and Northern California coastline, it was a fine substitute. The surf soothes my soul, the sand smoothes my heels, and the water refreshes my spirit. To this Northern California baby, the Atlantic, at least here in the northern third of Florida, was surprisingly warm. I don’t know why I was so surprised, but a lifetime of conditioning oneself to grit one’s teeth when stepping into the surf is hard to overcome.

The beach

After the viewing, I needed a break from all the family togetherness, so I took Mom’s car down the road a bit to the yarn store I’d seen while we were driving back from the mortuary. Or was it after the funeral service? Must have been after the funeral service, because I was dancing on a razor’s edge temperament-wise. Family is exhausting. Just sayin’…

Anyway. Yarn store. Cute little place called The Ball of Yarn. Several women sitting around a table knitting and chatting, just like virtually every LYS I’ve ever visited. Feels like home, it does. It was close to closing time, so I browsed for a little, fondled some yarn, and then fell in love.

It’s called Footprints, it’s from Blue Ridge Yarns, and consists of two skeins of 100% merino sock yarn: a 300-yard skein for the body of the socks; and a 100-yard skein for toes and heels. The colorway here is Secret Garden, but it comes in lots of other gorgeous combinations. It’s a little pricey at $30 per combo/skein, which made it relatively easy to limit myself to just one, but oh boy, it’s beautiful and feels luscious and squishy. Maybe I’ll finally make MYSELF a pair of socks…

Posted in Finished object, Knitting

FO Friday: Bellatrix socks

Ages and ages ago I cast on a pair of socks from Melissa Morgan-Oakes Two at a Time book. They sat around here in various stages of incompleteness for well over a year, but were finally finished last month.

Pattern: Belle Epoque by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
Yarn: Happy Feet by Plymouth in colorway 4, 2 balls
Needle size: 2
Size: Small
Satisfaction with end result: Quite pleased.

As you can see, they’re a trifle small for me and too snug around the calf. My sister is slimmer than I, so these beauties have gone into the gift box and will be either her birthday or Christmas present.

The picot hem gave me fits, and I finally abandoned the idea (and pattern instruction) of knitting in the hem as I went, so that was seamed after all the knitting was done. The yarn is luscious and cushiony on the feet; it’s a little splitty, but I think every yarn is splitty when you’re using size 2 needles. Despite that, I liked the way it felt in my hands and the way it knits up. I may have to get another couple of skeins and make something for me.

If you want to see what others have done for FO Friday, click the badge below. Happy knitting!

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Work in progress

This is Cheryl Marie’s fault

So, in a fit of insanity, I’ve decided to join Cheryl Marie in her knit marathon. Besides deprive myself of sleep, I hope to accomplish several things, in more or less this order:

  1. Finish all the pieces and seaming for the Moorish Mosaic Afghan
  2. Finish the Belle Epoque socks
  3. Finish the Delphine tank
  4. Watch the first season of Stargate SG-U on Netflix
  5. Watch the BBC America marathon of Being Human

Of course, these plans didn’t prevent me from swatching for a new project this afternoon. We’ll see how well I resist temptation to cast on something different. We’ll also see if I’m still married by this time tomorrow evening.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Work in progress

Work in progress Wednesday

Hello, yeah, it’s been a while.  Not much, how ’bout you?

*shakes head*  Whoa.  70s moment.

It’s Wednesday, still, barely, but there’s still time to join in on the WWIP meme.  Sadly, most of the WIPs are the same as the last time I participated in this meme.  Sadder still, I’ve added to them. *hangs head in shame*

Let’s get the oldies out of the way first:
Belle Epoque 1
The Belle Epoque socks are in exactly the same state as they were last time.  Not a single new stitch has been added.  Ditto with the Windowpane coat:
Windowpane 1

And the Delphine tank:
Delphine 2

And the baby blanket:
Spare baby blanket 5

The Sweet Nothing shrug needs blocking:
Sweet Nothing 1
As does the other baby blanket which I failed to take a picture of before sitting down and writing this entry.  In the new stuff, there’s another afghan which has been taking up the majority of my time:

And then there’s this hat I’m designing on the fly because I had only two skeins (about 260 yards) of this fabulous bulky wool and couldn’t find a pattern to suit me:


Loose cables at a large gauge.  The hat should take up about 1 skein of the wool.  I’ll make a matching cowl with the other skein.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Work in progress

Oh, look! A yarn-related entry!

Today I took inventory of the projects in various stages of completion. Oh boy. I had no idea my startitis had been this bad over the last several months….

The oldest project is a baby afghan. I started this thing over two years ago. All the squares are done, and have been done for more than a year; the only thing remaining is to sew them all together. Consider this an example of how badly I hate seaming.
Spare baby blanket 5
There are two women in my office expecting babies shortly after the turn of the year. This blanket needs to be sewn up soon, and another baby blanket made in the near future.

Next oldest is Delphine, from Kristeen Griffin Grimes’ French Girl Knits.
Delphine 2
I’m into the bodice section now. This could be completed in just a few more hours of knitting, if only I would sit down and work on it.

Next up are these fabulous Pagliacci mittens from Vogue Knitting‘s Fall 2008 issue.
Gift Mittens 2
The first time I saw these mittens, they screamed the name of a particular friend. I ordered the yarn last year and knitted them up in no time, then stalled on the embroidery. Again, a few more hours and they’ll be done. Maybe they’ll get sent off as this year’s Christmas present…

The Windowpane Coat came from Interweave Knit‘s Fall 2008 issue:
Windowpane 1
Remaining work to be done: Buttonhole band and seaming.

Not all projects are huge or have multiple pieces. I have a pair of socks on the needles as well, Belle Epoque from Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ 2 At A Time Socks.
Belle Epoque 1
I made my first pair of socks last year, using this method, and loved it. This is the third pair I’ve made in this fashion. I’ve yet to make socks one at a time, and don’t think I ever will. Anyway, the heel has been turned and the gusset finished. It’s onward to the toe now, eventually.

Sweet Nothing is a top down shrug explicitly for the purpose of warding off the air conditioning chill at the office.
Sweet Nothing 1
This is the knit that’s been going with me backstage to work on while waiting for my entrances during performances…mindless stockinette and easy peasy construction. I’ll probably get it finished by the time the run is over next weekend.

And finally, the Aon Vest from Berroco’s #296 Weekend pamphlet.
Moms vest 1
Mom wanted a vest to wear on a late autumn trip to California, so I hustled and nearly had it finished…more mindless stockinette which went with me to rehearsals, and a bulky yarn which made the knitting go quickly…but then Mom announced they weren’t going this year after all. So I put it down and picked up the shrug again. All that remains is part of one front piece and a ribbed edging, then seaming. I expect I’ll finish this one after the shrug.

Lots and lots of knitting recently. I feel another crochet project coming along in the near future… Crochet deserves equal time, and it is my first yarn love, after all.

Posted in Finished object, Knitting

A couple of finished projects to display…

First, I'll show you the pretty one:

Blue Petunia Bag, complete

Pattern:  Petunia Tote by Katie Himmelberg, from Interweave Knits Spring 2007
Yarn:  Bernat Gloucester Sport (I'd link to it, but it's discontinued) in French Blue, 660 yards
Satisfaction with end result:  I really like it.  It's the perfect spring/summer casual running around town bag. The lining really sets it off, as you can see in the picture below.

Blue Petunia Bag with lining

In fact, here's the entire bag turned inside out, so everyone can see the fabulous lining fabric.

Blue Petunia Bag, inside out

The fabric is half a yard of a 60" rayon challis purchased from JoAnn.  Other than that, I can't tell you a thing about it.

The only modification to the pattern was making the strap somewhat shorter than the pattern dictated.  I'm not tall, you see, and didn't want the bag to hang down to my knees when worn slung across my shoulder.  Additionally, I'm thinking about adding a magnetic closure at the top.  I'll carry the bag around for a while before making a final decision.

Now, the not-so-pretty one.  I finally finished spouse's Treads socks from Son of Stitch and Bitch.  The cuffs turned out beautifully:

Treads cuffs

The rest of the socks, not so much:

Treads socks
Yarn:  Cascade's Heritage in #5601 Black, approximately 656 yards (approx. 1.5 skeins)

The foot is so wide you'd think I made them for a hobbit.  My fault totally.  I didn't pay attention to gauge.  If I had, I'd have realized I was using the wrong size needle (a 2 instead of a 0).  Even then I probably could have saved them if I had decreased across the instep when I turned the heel.  Instead, spouse ended up with a baggy, saggy, shapeless pair of socks.  I told him it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he never wore them outside the house.  Note to self: not all sock patterns are created equal.  One must pay attention to the damn pattern while knitting the foot!

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