Wednesday, January 8

Knitting snacks

I've spent a lot of time at home lately.  First, Christmas vacation which meant decorations and baking and making decorations.  Then the weather!  DD#2 was born when the old records were set in 1988 so once I made that connection, it's been fascinating keeping track of the very low highs.

Inevitably, there will be snacking.  I do eat a lot but this has been about unconscious knitting.  Kay Gardiner blogged about how ragged her dish cloths have become from every day use.  Mine as well - I plan to repurpose them as weed cloth once our community garden gets going in the spring.

We all jumped on the warshrag band wagon a couple years ago and happily knit away with the cotton yarn to make piles of dish cloths until our drawers overflowed.  Now they need to be replaced.

Ravelry!  I have a small supply of Sugar n Spice and Peaches and Cream.


I gravitate towards the variegated color ways but I don't like the pooling that happens with knitting flat, back and forth.  Dish cloths should not be so precious as to alternate skeins of variegated yarn to create a consistent color. To solve that dilemma, I found a round dishcloth that uses short rows in its rays, or petals, to distribute the color.  

Voila!  Round dishcloth, a free pattern by Amy Carpenter.  So, so easy; so, so quick.  I can make one in about 2 hours.

Details: 1 skein of either Sugar n Cream or Peaches and Cream, size 7 needle (circular, as it happens).  

Funny difference between the two brands:  Ravelry says that Sugar n Cream comes in at 97 yards (the yardage has always been missing from the ball band) and you can get 1 large dishcloth out of a single skein with just a tiny bit left over (CO 21 stitches).  Peaches and Cream has approximately 95 yards.  Those 2 fewer yards means you need to make the cloth smaller (as with Psychedelic, CO 19 stitches, but you still have a significant amount left) or add a design element of surprise (the Good Earth cloth below combined with peach melba surprise).  There are more than 900 examples on Ravelry and I have to say I really do prefer the single variegated colorway.  The mix and match look with this pattern is clunky.

Now I have a short stack of new dishcloths and I might give some away.

You might notice a dearth of my favored varigated yarn in the box above.  I think there must be another bag hiding in the yarn closet.  But I was at the store this past weekend and found that a cone of cotton is a very economical buy.  A single skein is $1.47 but the cone is $7.97!  I wonder how many dishcloths could I get out of a cone?  Madness -

Thursday, December 26

A knitting classic

This is an oldie but goodie. Wendy Knits, Kitty Pi bed.

Supplies: Knit Picks, Full Circle; the very last bit of my pink varegated Paton's Classic Wool Worsted (hoo-ray!); and trimmed with blue eyelash yarn from the 2011 Knit and Crochet Show goodie bag. Started out with size 11 dpns per instructions and thought I moved to size 11 circular but seems someone didn't put the right sized needles back in the package and it turns out I finished off with a size 8 circ.

Made by request forDD#2 who forswears all hand knitting. I explained this life philosophy when I described the pot holders I made her a couple years ago. On her Christmas list was 2 felted cat beds for Charlie and Maverick. I managed to make one in time to wrap it, though not felt it, before she landed on Sunday night. When she unwrapped the present on Christmas morning, her face was classic DD#2, thinking, "Why does she &*^) do this to me?!?" She thought the unfelted cat bed, about 18 in diameter by about 12 in deep, was a hat. I intercepted her demon from Christmas past, and quickly explained her present was a cat bed. Unfelted.

Though I have made this before, and coached others on the beauty of this project, I didn't pay close attention to the instructions this time and used a single strand of worsted weight. The result was a very floppy unfelted bowl-ish floppy knit and I worried this would not felt very tight. I washed it with jeans first, on cold, because Full Circle bleeds dye really bad. Then washed it in hot with towels and threw it in the dryer for a bit before shaping it on a planter. Nicely felted, a good size, but when I put it on the floor, the walls collapsed into a cat mat. On a whim, I washed it again this morning since there were more towels in the hamper.  The third time was the charm.

I have enough Full Circle in the charcoal for another cat bed, so the kitties don't fight over this one. If I find it in my yarn closet, I can trim the second one in fabulous pink novelty yarn.

Tuesday, December 24

All is calm, all is bright


The Chicago skyline at sunset from Promontory Point on a frigid eve of Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas to everyone and may the new year provide much knitting.

Monday, February 18

Mittens, mittens, if only I liked mittens

I don’t like to wear mittens. My fingers get claustrophobic – they can’t breath, stuck together in a sleeping bag with only the thumb that can do anything. I also can’t dig my keys out of my pocket or answer the phone or make sure my mp3 player radio station doesn’t shift.

But I guess I like to knit mittens. I made a couple pairs one summer from A Year of Mittens. I used worsted weight to make the Scandinavian-style patterns in color work that reflected a month’s theme.
I made the November mittens with a picture of a turkey and the September mittens, my birthday month, that maybe is an aster. These were warm but floppy and suffocated my fingers. I think DD#3 might have both pairs or maybe they are in the hall closet.

I also made some children’s mittens partially to try to knit them top down, following the idea of toe up socks (this style makes a really nice thumb if the thumb is knit top down and then affixed to the palm), which made nice Christmas bazaar fodder. Then I made a cute little pair out of Shetland wool, using a pattern from a vintage, legacy book, Nomis #5, Scandinavian Snow Sets. I almost left the booklet on a plane. I don’t remember what I did with these mittens. I meant to give them to a precious little girl of a long-time friend who became a first-time mother at a more advanced age, but I think I donated them to a different year’s Christmas bazaar. Jamison’s Shetland wool is very cozy but scratchy.

Then, to answer the call of Afghans for Afghans, I made a pair of mittens out of left-over Noro. Woolly wool, slightly undersized needles. There was a slight imperfection in the color sequence, as usual with Noro, so I didn’t send the mittens for the campaign. I sent a small pile of hats. I wore the mittens on a walk along the windy lakefront and they were no protection against the weather so these would not be any good in Afghanistan either any way.

I was bit by the mitten bug again over Christmas break. Looking through one of my holiday Interweave magazines, I found a set of patterns: Baker Street Mittens, Epeiric Mittens, Paprika Mittens that come with a hat, Slanted Peerie Mittens. I went with the Slanted Peerie Mittens because of the holiday influence. The dab of red is duplicate stitch and I’m thinking of using gold instead. I made the mittens in Dale of Norway Baby Ull and was mortally disappointed that despite the stranded knitting, again these mittens were not warm. Alas.

Turns out the only way to make mittens live up to their potential is to knit 4 mittens. Lene in Finland talks about knitting liners for hats and mittens and I always thought that’s a lot of knitting. Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests knitting liners for mittens and makes it sound so simple. Nicole from the Wednesday noon knitting group made a beautiful pair of stranded knitting mittens and lined them with cushy Kid Silk. So I made EZ’s 36-stitch mittens out of another woolly wool from Plimouth Plantation (sic), regifted by my dear friend, blog-free April who starts to itch just looking at wool. I lined them with Frog Tree merino and finally achieved protection from the cold and wind.

Tuesday, October 23

Knitting clutter in the autumn

Even though I haven't posted since March, I continue to think endlessly of knitting. And knitting clutter.

To those who are so unfortunate as not to knit, knitting clutter might look like this

coffee table holding yarn, needles, scissors.

futon holding knitting book, measuring tape, finished projects.

Knitting objects on every flat surface not already being used as a seat. Oh wait, this is a seat though no one with two legs sits here because DH thinks there should not be a TV in the bedroom.

Loveseat in the bedroom holding yarn, project bag and throw pillow.

No, knitting clutter for me is unfinished projects. Filling up the drawer, taking up bags, piling up in my mind while I wish to begin a Significant Project.

I've made a start on the list

Baby Sweater for the future

afghans for Afghans 2009

Pulling a UFO out of the pile can be very rewarding. The project is already done to a certain point. Hopefully picking up the afghan, or the afghan, or the wrap or the Christmas stocking or the other afghan, I can feel the excitement of the start, though in the middle, instead of the boredom of the middle at the new start. What will be next?

Mystery afghan (Mission Falls, Loopy Yarns, 2009)

Liberty Afghan (Cascade 220, Loopy Yarns, MDK2 book signing in Chicago)

Corner 2 corner (Plymouth baby alpaca, gift from dear friend)

Kate Gilbert Christmas Stocking (Cascade 220, Nana's Knits workshop)

Mitered Cross (Brown Sheep Lanaloft, Brown Sheep Nature's Spun, and Cascade 220 bit and bobs)

Thursday, March 29

Knitting clutter

I have a lot of knitting clutter. This picture is a good illustration

A second sock in progress, a sweater on the needles, a unique design that caught my eye but failed to grab my imagination.

Not just projects taking up space on the table or hanging out in the bathroom. I have projects that are tucked away in dresser drawers, bags in the closet, the basket in the hallway. And then there are the projects I haven't started yet but think about as I drift off to sleep.

I started a new shawl with yarn I bought in 2006. Here is the yarn as I blogged back then

I was shocked that people could knit with thread.

And here is when I thought the yarn would become Icarus:

Phew - that was a project over my head. I had a lot to learn about stitch markers.

Now I want to make the yarn into Bridgewater.

I thought I would spend a little time at night knitting a row or two, just like reading a chapter before turning out the light. But it became compelling. Knit on the diagonal, the first half of the middle square is an increase at the beginning of each row. I zipped to 75 stitches and then had to concentrate on increasing on up to 204 stitches. Golf season has helped.

Now I am in the decrease half and it seems to be taking forever to decrease the last 95 stitches. This has given me some time to think about the project. I took advise from my knitting group, KKP. We all agreed I don't have enough yarn for 5 repeats of the horseshoe lace trim over 450+ stitches and then the perpendicular final trim over 450+ rows. I bought some more on Ravelry.

It's hermetically sealed merino laceweight!

So my stashbusting project has grown my clutter but cleared my mind. Now I dream of blocking a finished shawl and feeling it around my neck.

P.S. This is not clutter but a work of art by blueroompottery on I got my Christmas present from DD#1 on St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, March 10

Useful knitting

More of my family than my just husband is uninterested in handknits. DD#2 has always looked at what I knit with suspicion, wondering how the object would embarrass her. She's now an adult and in charge of what she wears and since every knitter's frustration is that a handknit gift would go unappreciated and stored in the closet, I don't knit for her.

So once again, surprised by the nonimpressionable, I cast-on for a special request.



Started and finished during our visit in Pittsburgh so this is DD#2's stove.

Started in Pittsburgh, knitted across PA, OH, and IN but finished in Chicago.

After about 9 washes:

Picture taken on our home stove but I would bet all grates are very similar in size. This potholder shrunk a little width but not much in length.

This one didn't shrink so much as condense into a nice square. Once it hit it's critical point of felting, the knitting felted to a very dense potholder.

Both together.

Universal Yarn, bought on our visit at Natural Stitches, a LYS I accidentally found when we took DD#2 shopping for a broom. Size 10 needle, double-stranded. I've read that felting projects should be made on even larger needles so there is space across the stitches for the yarn to agitate against itself at the structure level so if I make more potholders, I'll move up.

Natural Stitches has a really nice, wide range of wool but I went for the $6, made in Turkey stuff. I wonder if a more expensive yarn (Cascade 220, Brown Sheep) would have felted more easily. That seems counter intuitive. Pay a lot for yarn that turns out to have little tolerance for washing mistakes; spend less on yarn and have to keep beating it up to felt. Perpetuates the good fortune of the uninitiated.

As I am duty bound to contribute to the economic health of every LYS I visit, I also bought Addi Lace needles in size 4 and 6. Though I don't seem to have won the monthly drawing, boo.

I felt my projects in a load with regular laundry. Some loads might allow more churning than others; I haven't examined this detail, since there is always laundry to be done and my projects don't usually have a firm deadline. DD#2 has her current supply of dish towels to protect her hands from the hot pans until I get these in the mail.

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