December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a happy and healthy year and hope that you find that there is nothing more important than taking care of yourself and spending time with the ones you love.

For the past two weeks I've had my grand daughter here with me.  She's only 17 months old and as cute as can be, and she's quiet.  She sings when Bubble Guppies or Dora the Explorer come on, but other than that, you'd never know she was around.

Except for the time when I left her alone for about 8 seconds and she pulled all of the baby wipes out of the package.  Or when she wrote on the television screen with crayon while I was watching her!  I didn't know she had a crayon in her hand.  I even watched as she took a bite out of my lip balm, she was just too quick.  She also quietly and with forethought left me a (clean) diaper trail that went from one end of the house to the other.  I just couldn't get upset with this face:

After she was gone, I decided to make her some socks with some yarn walnuts I have laying around.  Just some plain vanilla socks, the white is Lion Brand sock yarn and the blue/multi is leftover Koigu.

The second pair are made of, again, white Lion Brand sock yarn and the blue is Panda bamboo superwash:

Sorry about the dark photos, it was raining outside and for some reason, my flash didn't want to work.

And my first project for 2014 will be the Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I joined a knit along with the Knits n' Things Podcast group on Ravelry which goes from January 1 to March 1.  Finally something I don't have to finish in a month because I rarely finish anything on deadline.

I gathered my materials: Valley Yarns Northfield in purple haze and now I'm just waiting until midnight to cast on:

This yarn reminds me of Karabella Aurora 8 which I love, but with a little less spring.   And the price is just right.

Which brings me to my New Year's resolve, not resolution, because calling it resolve might make me stick to it in a less rigid kind of way.  This year I am going to curb my impulse to buy yarn - especially single skeins.

I have enough sweater quantities of yarn to make myself at least 3 sweaters, and I plan to do so.  I will shop only twice in 2014: once at Vogue Knitting Live (my birthday gift to myself) and Rhinebeck 2014 (who can resist?).

I also received this book as a gift, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, and I will make as many as I can during the year to give out as gifts because when all else fails, they can be made with scrap yarn and mini skeins.

Lastly, I plan to make the Sheep Heid hat before this winter is over!  I've been putting it off and procrastinating, but I really want that hat!  I have the yarn for it (ordered it all the way from far away) and it's been in a bag calling my name and I've been ignoring it.  Well, time is up for procrastinating.

So, as I wait for the ball to drop on TV and wait for the horns of my neighbors to blow to ring in the new year, I bid you all a safe night.

December 16, 2013

Instant Gratification

Well, I finally finished the Paraphernalia Socks:

I never had such a hard time making socks - oh wait, I did have an issue when making the Brainless Socks - but at least liked them.  These socks I don't like so much.  Not because the pattern as written almost made me have an aneurysm, but the process was grueling.

Sock number one was fraught with mistakes because, apparently, I can't count to three.  I am no longer in love with the yarn because it hung around so long and had been so many other things.  Realizing I had issues with the pattern and the yarn, I made some modifications to sock number two and it came out perfectly.  Just the right size to fit my mom.  So I ripped back sock number one to the heel, fixed the errors and modified the toe, and now they are two perfectly matching socks - with mistakes in the same place.

Lacking the fortitude to embark on yet another pair of adult socks, I decided to get myself some instant gratification by making some socks for my Princess.  Just a pair of plain vanilla socks with some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock (mediumweight) with some left-over yarn.  I'm not sure of the colorway, but I bought the yarn back in 2011.

They're little, quick to knit and I got the satisfaction of finishing something.  Thank goodness!! I was about to lose confidence in my knitting skills.

With the restoration of my confidence, I cast on another pair of socks for the husband of one of my knitting circle friends.  Cynthia's husband has been hounding her for a pair of socks.  I told her that if she finished the pair she was working on for him, that I would make him a pair too.  She cast on Socks on a Plane and this weekend she was finishing the cuffs of the toe up socks.  That means I've got to knit Peter a pair of socks.

Cynthia provided me with a tracing of his foot, and I chose the Cable Rib Socks pattern, Dream in Color Smooshy in Cloud Jungle:

Today is day one of knitting and it's going quicker than greased lightning!  I stuck that yarn pancake on my Yarn Susan purchased from The Elegant Ewe booth at Stitches East this year:

They have an online website, but the only way to get their merchandise is at a show or in the shop.  The Yarn Susan I have is metal and spins around with ball bearings and cost much less than the wood ones and you can order one from here.

Anyway, after knitting for little over an hour, I got this far:

If the rest of this sock goes as quickly I just might have to reinstate my 'sock knitting wizard' title.  If you don't hear a howling noise coming from the Bronx then that means everything is going well.  Finally.

December 09, 2013

A Year in the Life of a Skein

Way back in 2012, I signed up for a 3 month yarn club with Springtree Road yarns in the Julep base which is merino/silk, but I don't know the percentages.  The yarn is lovely, however, one skein has been a problem since I received it.

It was going to be a baby sweater, so I knit up a bit of the sweater and the mother nixed it because it wasn't red enough.  OK.

It ended up being a hat called Torsion.  It looked so terrible on me that I ripped it out and decided to use the yarn to make the Artichoke Socks.

I had such a problem with that sock pattern that I ripped out those socks (it was a math issue) and started making the Paraphernalia Socks.

This sock pattern is also giving me fits, but I'm this far along:

Being 'almost finished' several times has been very disheartening.  I've ripped the socks back several times because my brain does not receive numbers the same way the designer's described them.  Of course, she knows what she's talking about, I'm just a little confused.

This yarn has been through the ringer, and when the second sock is done, I'll need to do surgery on the toe of the first, making this the longest time I've ever taken to make a pair of socks.  Not only that, I'm also not in love with them.  Oy!

So, when these socks are done, I'm going to go back to doing what I am doing best - stealth holiday knitting - making what I want with patterns that make sense to me and with yarn that hasn't already been four things.

I hope your knitting is happier than mine.

December 07, 2013

Why Not?

Last week I spent five long and tiring days with my mother's dog Benjy.

Because my mother is retired, she can devote all her time to Benjy - at least until he gets tired of her.  He does not like to be alone.  He does not like to sleep, eat or play alone.  He can bark for hours, until you cave in out of sheer exhaustion.   I spent that week trying to decide what would happen to me if the dog came to an untimely, sad and completely accidental end.  After five days I came to three conclusions: I would never own a dog such as him, I would never babysit with him again, and if my mother ever leaves town and leaves him behind, I'm leaving town too.

After Benjy went home, I picked up my grand daughter and she stayed with me for four days.  What a pleasant difference!  I mean, is there really any comparison?  Absolutely not! Look at this face:

She was such an angel, and fun, and funny and cute and ... I'm too biased too go on.

My little princess came with her overnight bag which lacked suitable socks, so I figured why not make her a pair, or two?  So, on Tuesday I made her these:

Since I couldn't measure her foot (she wasn't having it!), they came out a little small.   Plain vanilla socks, US #2 needles and Artyarns Ultra Merino 4 in purple that I bought at Vogue Knitting Live in 2012.  I'm going again this year - yay!

So that she would have socks that actually fit, on Wednesday, I made her these:

Plain vanilla socks, US #2 needles and ShiBui Fluids Pebble yarn that I bought at Knitty City.  These socks are longer in the foot and fit better.  Now that I have my 'magic' numbers, I decided that one pair wouldn't do, so holiday knitting is on hold and on Thursday, I started these:

Another pair of plain vanilla socks, same needles, more stitches and made with Lollipop Yarn in the Life is Beautiful colorway.

Then I went through my stash and found all of my yarn walnuts and now I'm on a mission.

So holiday knitting is on hold while I make socks for my angel baby.

November 27, 2013

Not So Happy

My mother went out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday, and her dog-sitter was unavailable to take Benjy.  Out of desperation, my mother told me that I would have to take him home with me because she doesn't want him home alone for five days.

This is Benjy, the spoiled brat:

It's not a good picture, but it was the only one I could get where he was standing still - with his feet on my coffee table.

Here's the problem: I have a cat, Miss Kitty, who is 10 years old and doesn't like any living thing, and that includes plants.  There is a baby gate which confines Benjy to the living room and separates him from Miss Kitty.  Benjy sees the cat and he barks, he hears the cat moving around and he barks.  Geez!

Benjy is my mother's dog, and he has made it clear that while he likes me, I am not his mother.   The incessant barking is getting on my nerves.  Do I have to sleep on the sofa to accommodate a dog?  I think not.  When he's not crying about having to stay behind the gate, he's parked in front of the front door whining,  or planning his escape.  His escape would break my poor mother's heart and she'd probably be under arrest for attempting my murder.

I had to chase Benjy off the coffee table.  I had to push him out of the way to sit on the sofa.  I had to hold him back from jumping on me while I was knitting.  He puts his spitty toys on my lap or on my hands.  He sees the cat through the baby gate and growls, he scratches at the gate with his dagger-like nails.  It's so noisy, I can't even think!

And I have four more days to go.  Oy!

That said, it's already been a frustrating week.  My poor Artichoke sock bit the dust.  It was going swimmingly until I got to the foot and the math killed it for me.  The instructions were a bit dodgy and required more brain cells than I was willing to contribute.

I got this far:

I could have skipped the foot detail and just made a plain foot, but darn it, I really wanted that detail!  As a result, I'll have to tackle that pattern with another yarn on another day.

Still, I have to make socks.  My solution was to make different socks with the same yarn.  These are the Paraphernalia socks, which I cast on three days ago:

My apologies for the not so great picture, but you can follow the link to see the socks in 'real life'.  I've already picked up the gusset stitches and it's going swimmingly.  Thank goodness!  I was doubting my sock making ability there for a moment.

So, now I'm going to sit on the sofa and watch the rain fall down, appreciate the warmth inside since it's freezing outside, and try to figure out a way to work around Benjy's barking, scratching, whining and general misery because he misses his mother.

Four more days ...

November 12, 2013

About Those Socks

I did a drive by when posting about the Pin Striped Socks I finished a day or two ago.  They deserve much more attention than I gave them because there were a few things about them that I wanted to mention.

Here are the socks:

This is the first time I ever used the after-thought heel which was harrowing for me!  I found a tutorial on The Knit Girllls page which had a video tutorial and I followed it to a T for the second sock.  The first sock was a disaster!  Fortunately for me, I was able to stitch the gigantic hole at the heel flap for the first sock, and I smartly added two stitches on each side of the second sock which closed the hole completely.  Whew!

I don't like toe up socks because I worry about the socks not being long enough.  If I get it wrong, what can I do besides give the socks away?  That was the original plan, but I made them just long enough to fit me and they should have been longer for the person they were intended.  Talk about sock drawer enhancement!

The photo shoot happened at the Verizon store.  My son had to buy himself a new phone and while we waited for the process to run it's course, I told him to snap some 'live action' shots of my socks.

"Get lower so you can get the heel please." I say.
"I got the heel, Mom, what do you want me to do?" he says.
"Get lower!  You have to get a shot of the bottom of my feet." I say.
"You want me to get on the floor?" he says.
"If you have to in order to get the shot." I say.  "Unless you want me to get on the floor."
End of photo shoot.

With the socks done, I needed a palate cleanser - so to speak.  I needed something small, quick to knit, that didn't involve me balling up a skein of yarn.  Also, I wanted to make something with Heather V of Knits n' Things podcast to promote Diabetes Awareness Month.

Enter the My Toes Itch Cowl.  What a joyful knit!

I used Red Heart solids (white), Rowan Calmer (blue), and when I ran out of the Red Heart, I found a ball of white unidentifiable yarn found in my 'yarn walnut' bag.   It took a few hours to knit, et voila, a cowl for my niece.

When I have a moment, I will cobble together a hat using the same pattern - as soon as I find a skein of Red Heart in white which I don't want to buy, but will for the purposes of having a set.

If I were to make this pattern again, I would use a different main color (white is just too bright), and a multi-color yarn for the contrasting color.  This project was quick, easy and so cute.  It's a paid for pattern on Ravelry, and worth it because I have lots of yarn and it would be perfect for handspun.

Off to make more socks.  I'm trying to think who in my family doesn't want a pair.

November 11, 2013

Stitches East 2013

It was a warm and rainy day when I left for Stitches East this year, but that didn't dampen my spirits any because I was really looking forward to attending the weaving class with Deborah Jarchow that I signed up for.  I left on Thursday morning and returned on Friday night.

The trip was uneventful and the view from the hotel room was the same both days:

I was among the many shoppers and I enhanced my stash, just a little bit, with Eidos from the Verdant Gryphon in the Medusa colorway:

And I managed to get some mink from The Elegant Ewe.  Unfortunately, they do not sell yarns online, but I believe you can call them to place an order.

I also got a some yarn from Wandering Wool:

And some BFL sock yarn from String Theory:

And because this is a knitting blog, let me show you what I finished last night:

Pattern: Pinstriped Socks by Julia Swart
Yarn: Lollipop Yarn in the Life is Beautiful colorway
Needles: Karbonz, US #1

Another skein went from from string to sock drawer bling!

November 02, 2013

A Lack of Faith

My friend Maria is a knitting whirlwind.  She might spend an inordinate amount of time examining a skein of yarn, but once she decides to buy it anything could happen.  She modifies almost every pattern she ever met, and if she gets an idea in her head about what that pattern should be, instructions or no, she will improvise, make corrections, additions, subtractions, whatever, and if it doesn't work out, she'll rip it all out and start again.  There's a woman after my own heart!

This year the knitting group made the Willow Cowl by Amelia Lyon for our trip to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival.  Maria made hers in record time, and when both of her daughters wanted one as well - and because it was a fast knit - she agreed.  Brianne is pre-teen and Mia is pre-pubescent.  After doing a little math, Maria altered the number of stitches and the number of rows of the pattern to make it appropriate for both girls and came up with this:

Mia is modeling Brianne's Tween Willow Cowl.  Maria kept the picot edge, reduced the number of stitches by 30 and the number of lace rows by three repeats.  The pattern is the same as written with the reduced number of stitches, and the top of the cowl is 12 rows of 2x2 ribbing which reduced the bulk of the cowl.

Good job, Maria!  Two cowls down, one pink cowl to go.

Now we get to me, the scaredy cat.  I'm working on the Pinstriped Socks by Julia Swart and I decided to use the afterthought heel, as stated in the pattern.  I've never done an afterthought heel before, so I did a little research and ended up watching the tutorial by Leslie of The Knit Girllls podcast over and over again.

Looking at the sock as a whole, I'm not so confident about this whole idea.

Problem #1: I think I would have felt better using the regular heel flap or the Fish Lips Kiss heel where I could try on the sock as I go.  With this pattern I am unable to do that.  That foot is looking mighty short and I can't believe adding a heel is going to make it fit me.

Problem #2: I was afraid to break the yarn or take the needles out of the toe because I'm afraid I'll need to lengthen the foot.   I realize that I must have more faith than I thought because eventually I made the choice to break the yarn, but I'm scared and can't take the needles out.  Oy!

Problem #3: As I said, I've never done the afterthought heel, but I did pick up the correct amount of stitches,

but now I'm afraid to take the waste yarn out of the heel.  Dang!  And what color am I supposed to pick up to begin the heel anyway?  Double dang!

And don't get me started about my fear of not having enough yarn to finish the second sock!  Geez!

Hopefully my next post will be a photo of a pair of socks and the story will be one in which I ended up with socks that fit me - or somebody.

October 29, 2013

The Latest News

Simply Notable is a website that has a lot of free patterns for crafters.  The patterns are well written and look pretty quick, so if you're in need of a cute last minute gift you should have a peek.  I am making the Gift Cardi-gans which take about 30 minutes each to make.  These are only missing the buttons, and I'm saving that for last because no project that requires buttons goes without button drama:

I'm using my best scrap acrylic because I'm sure the folks that get them won't keep them - why should they?  If anything, they will probably be passed along to the next gift card recipient or toss them.  When Mary Jo said she needed them, I thought 10, maybe a dozen.  Turns out she needs 25.  I like a cute project just like the next person, but 25 is a bit more tedium than I like.  So I make two or three a day and I've made 14 so far.

I'm also working on a pair of socks called Pinstriped Socks out of Lollipop Yarns in the Life is Beautiful colorway:

This is my first time doing an after-thought heel, so my adventure is just begun because I have no idea how much room to leave for the heel.  These socks are supposed to go to a friend of my son, but if I get the math wrong then they'll go to me.  I should have made them two at a time so I could guess how much yarn would be left for the foot on each, but I'm going to believe I have enough yarn.  Time will tell.

I made a few purchases this past week and, honestly, I don't know what I was thinking of since my list of craft needs is few, but my list of craft wants is never ending.  It is my dream to do all the craft things that pop in to my head, but it's not possible because I'm already knee deep with what I have.

In case you haven't heard, I have lots of white fiber, but I don't make lots of white things:

And I especially bought this Turkish spindle from Threads Through Time (Etsy) so that I can attempt to spin sock weight yarn:

And working with self-striping yarn made me have the dream of spinning my own sock yarn, and dyeing it myself.  To that end, I purchased this book for almost free from SloCrafty (Etsy):

Oy!  Maybe I've mentioned this before, maybe not, but you should never, ever, ever shop after midnight!  Stuff that looks good at night when you're tired doesn't always look the same as it does during the day when your sense of reason has some bearing.

That said, I found someone's destash on Ravelry (I won't tell you who because I want more of her stuff before you get it), and found some Duet Dee-Kay:

These socks don't have colorways, but the Neopolitan on the bottom I've been wanting for years!  I'm going to make some socks for me with it.  The one on the top is for my aunt who asked for warm socks knee socks.  With this yarn, I'm sure the socks will be warm, and it'll also get extra points for being pretty.  It comes from a yarn shop (A Swell Yarn Shop) that is now closed (I heard the owner shut down because she's having a baby).

Last, but not least, in an effort to support Dawn and James from the Wolfe Farms Podcast, I purchased some yarn from Fishknits (Etsy) and another upside down picture.  A portion of the proceeds goes to Dawn and James to offset the cost of their dog Fuji's chemotherapy.

She sent it with a button and some candy which I ate immediately after the photo!

Well, this post is on overload with the pictures - so I'm going to knit or wash dishes ...

October 28, 2013

Rhinebeck 2013

This post almost didn't happen, so better late than never I think.  I read that there were over 40,000 people in attendance this year, which I feel will ensure the event happens again next year.  It was chilly in the morning when we arrived, but it got warm during the middle of the day - which is how it usually goes.

Here's my loot. 6 lbs of Romney fleece:

It's double bagged to avoid the knitting group from suffering nausea on the bus ride home.  It doesn't look like much until you open the bag:

You can't realize the wonder of this fiber until you see (and get a whiff of) it:

There's a pretty long staple length, so this fiber will have to be combed instead of carded:

I also got two WooLee Winder bobbins, 1 skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock lightweight in the Rhinebeck colorway 'Little Bo Peep', and a pattern for the Acer sweater:

I don't know how the picture came upside down, but you get the picture.

I spent most of my time on line at Miss Babs (nearly an hour)!  The line was down the aisle, out the door and I was 10 people back from the entrance.  I was shopping for Tracey to buy Yowza - Whatta Skein, and believe me, it is worth the money.  It's soft, and the color is so vibrant that if she doesn't want it, I'll take it!

On my way out of the park, I did snap one picture:

This was the only part of the park that was empty when I left.

Rhinebeck is the fiber/yarn/livestock event of the year and people come from all over to attend.  If you're a newbie to the event next year, here's a bit of useful information:

Saturday at Rhinebeck is a madhouse.  People come from all over the world to attend by busload and carload, but parking is no problem.  There are a lot of hills to climb and you wouldn't guess it, but shopping and standing in line all day is exhausting, even if it is exciting.  Most of the shop owners are there, so it's nice to see them in person, along with your Ravelry friends and some of the podcasters, too.

Sunday is a whole different ball game.   If there were 40,000 people there on Saturday, then there are half that many there on Sunday.  Sure, some of the stuff you wanted might be gone, but there's always a lot left on Sunday, and it's a lot less hectic, less crowded and the food lines are shorter.  

And if you ever want a mug from Jennie the Potter - you have to be on line on Saturday at about 6 a.m.  Or you can find her online, place an order and wait. 

Next blog will be about the knitting.

October 22, 2013

Something Like Magic

Every time I finish an object, no matter how big or small, I am still impressed with myself.  Sounds a little arrogant maybe, but I took some yarn, needles and a set of instructions and worked them it to the end.  Not bad for a lady who can barely count past 59 without some minor inconvenience, and in spite of the fact that I am math challenged in something as simple as consecutive numbers, I finished.

Pattern: Caffe Macchiato
Yarn: Vesper Superwash
Needles: Karbonz, US #1

I used the Fish Kiss Lips Heel (cost for that part of the pattern was US $1) which I think has finally sunk in. With no counting, flaps or gaps - well, I did have a gap because I didn't quite get it the first time around - the instructions are easy to understand and there are YouTube tutorials for folks like me who are visual.  The instructions for a 'regular' heel are included for free with the pattern, so it's your choice.

The socks mostly match, I was off by a couple of rows at the top and again at the heel, but who cares about the part that goes in my shoe?

So now I've got to wait for some inspiration to hit me while I'm winterizing the house.  The nights are cold, the flowers are all closing down for winter and I should have raked some leaves while I was outside taking pictures of my feet.

Next post will be about my Rhinebeck purchases.  The weather was beautiful!