Friday, August 31, 2007

Swirl Socks - Done!

Swirl Sock

Pattern: Swirl Socks by Sulafaye
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Black Purl
Needles: US0 DPNs
Mods: When I saw this pattern, I had to cast on right away, and I wasn't going to let a silly little thing like my lack of DK-weight sock yarn stop me, so I took Sula at her word when she said it was mostly a stitch pattern and adapted it for fingering weight socks. I used the heel from Baudelaire and added the braid detail from Nancy Bush's Spey Valley socks before the picot hem. I love how the swirls break up the natural striping of the Lorna's.

Swirl Sock

Swirly goodness! [Wait, that doesn't sound right.]

Swirl Sock

How do you keep your picot hems from flaring?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I have been practicing.

Handspun Improvement

I still have a long way to go, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This is the project that never ends.

I got all excited when I finished the sleeves on my husband's Tomten. Surely I was almost done. I even bumped up my Ravelry WIP status to 90%.

And then he tried it on, and the sleeves were way too long. (So much for my math.) So I shortened them, and now they're just a tad too short.

Knitting the afterthought pockets took longer than I expected, but at least they turned out well.

And then I was down to the button bands. I planned on making them as wide as the arm bands, so I ripped the neck back a little to make room for a wide border. And then I started knitting and decided a narrow border would not only decrease my chances of running out of yarn, it would look better, too. But now I need to raise the neck back to where it was, and to do that, I have to take off the button band.

This last 10% is trying to kill me.

Tomten 90%

Socks are so tempting right now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Antlers and Toggles and Tomtens, Oh My!

As the Adult Tomten is nearing completion, I wanted to take a special moment to honor its buttons:

Adult Tomten Buttons

Did I mention that my husband is picky? It took over a week of serious googling for him to find exactly the right thing, and for a while we thought he would have to make them himself. These toggles are made from the antlers of the kind of deer they have at the ranch. We ordered them from here. (Deer naturally lose their antlers annualy, so no deer were harmed in the making of these toggles.)

With any luck, I'll be sewing them on today.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Adult Tomten
We have husband-approved sleevage! Onward with the Adult Tomten!

Jeri left a comment asking how the garter stitch cuff on my Vesper Redux Socks worked. Of course, there's more than one way to do it. If you like to knit top-down, knit a strip of garter stitch with the same number of ridges as stitches you want for your sock and then graft it together and pick up stitches and knit down. Or, if you're knitting toe up like I did, when you're ready for the cuff cast on however many stitches you want your cuff to be onto your left needle (the knitted on or cable cast on is good for this), knit to the last stitch, ssk, turn and knit back, turn and knit to the last stitch, ssk, etc. When you get back where you started, graft it together. I really like the way it looks and feels as a cuff and plan to use it again. It's elastic and squishy and you don't have to worry about a tight cast-on or cast-off edge. Plus it looks rather nifty in a self-striping yarn, I think.

Vesper Redux - Garter Cuff

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing three times?

It looks as if my husband's Tomten is following the path of the Bavarian Jacket insofar as it is requiring me to knit three sleeves, except this time it's not entirely my fault. When adapting a child's pattern to fit an adult, things don't always go as planned.

In my infinite wisdom, I left the pattern at home when I was knitting the Tomten during the long drive to the ranch a couple of weekends ago. In my defense, my goal for the weekend was to knit to the armholes, and I don't really need a pattern to knit a big garter stitch rectangle. So when things went faster than I had planned, I relied on memory for the next steps, and was very relieved when I got home to find that I had split for the arm openings correctly. I had knit thirty ridges to the shoulders, estimating about 10" for the DEEP armhole. According to the pattern, though, I needed to add another 6 ridges, or 2". I debated leaving it as-is, but in the end it's the armhole shaping that defines the Tomten*, so I followed the pattern.

And then there was the issue of the sleeve cap. How to make this thing fit an adult? Jared at brooklyn tweed shortened the armhole and used a sleeve cap much like the one on the Bavarian Jacket to remove the bulk of the sleeve. But I had other ideas. I would leave the iconic DEEP armhole and, instead of knitting a 'suspender strap' of a contrasting color, I would border the entire opening in the contrast color, mitering the corners in a very EZ fashion. This would not only emphasize the Tomten-y construction, it would also raise the armhole and take out some sleeve bulk. Then I would decrease along the top edge of the sleeve according to the pattern.

A three-ridge border looked about right, and I gartered my way down the sleeve. I had my husband try it on at various points, and the sleeve was worryingly loose, but it's hard to tell how loose is too lose when the last few inches haven't been seamed. So I knit to the wrist before admitting defeat. It turns out we have different ideas about how a jacket should fit, but the bottom line is that he wasn't happy with it. He is very picky, but I know that if I can make something that meets his specifications, he will wear it to death, so it's worth getting it right.

I reluctantly ripped back the sleeve and increased my mitered border from three ridges to six. Ironically, I'm back to my original 10" armhole. And it turns out that I vastly prefer the wide border to the narrower one. Very masculine, I think.

Adult Tomten

I also ended up casting off the bottom edge of the contrast band this time. Version 1.0 looked bulky where I had knitted the sleeve onto the live stitches, and I think a seam there will give a sharper edge to the contrasting band.

Without the contrast band, I would have 36x2+1=73 stitches, 50% of the body circumference for each sleeve. By adding the band, I decreased 6 stitches on each side of the sleeve: 30x2+1=61, or 42%. I decreased two stitches on the first green row, so I now have 59 stitches. I want to go down to 20%/29 sts at the wrist. 59-29=30 sts to decrease, or 15 additional decrease rows. The sleeve needs to be 27" long or 81 garter ridges. I want to do all of my decreases before a 6-ridge contrast cuff, so over 75 ridges. So I need to decrease 2 stitches after every 5th ridge (the last decrease row will be the first brown row).

Math: it's better than trial and error.

Also, blogging: so you don't forget what the heck you just did.

* Especially since my husband has opted for a hood-less version. He was on the fence about the hood, so I showed him the pictures in The Opinionated Knitter. He said, "No way! That pointy hood will make me look like an elf!" I said, "Yes, dear, that's the point [ha ha, the point is the point!]. I think it's cute like that, but I don't have to make it so pointy." He replied "I don't trust you." Eh, you win some, you lose some.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I think I offended a vendor at a local fiber fest earlier this year by commenting to a companion while holding some particularly bright variegated sock yarn that it was a shame that the yarns I wanted to knit with were so often yarns that I would not want to wear. This is why my husband doesn't have many pairs of handknit socks (and by "not many," I mean two pairs). He won't wear the ones I like to knit, and stockinette or ribbed socks in sensible colors just don't scratch that knitterly itch. When I knit these, he said it looked like someone had vomited skittles on my feet. He may have a point. But I enjoyed knitting them, so I will endeavor to enjoy wearing them. You know, under boots or something.

Embossed Leaves

Pattern: Embossed Leaves from Favorite Socks
Yarn: Koigu
Needles: US2 dpns

I shortened the heel flap and, like many, I didn't cut the yarn after the heel. I don't really 'get' the cast on. It's not tubular, so what's the business with the two rows of double knitting? And maybe I was pulling the yarn tightly because I was doing something new, but the cast-on edge is a little tight. (Is that why the socks are pictured slouched in the book?) I was inordinately pleased to find, after contemplating mods to finish the leaf motifs on the toe, that that pattern had already taken care of that.

I like how the loose gauge gives the socks a nice bas relief effect, but they feel a bit delicate for me. In fact, the Koigu was not what I had expected at all. I've had a couple of pairs' worth in my stash for a while but I have been shying away from it. Probably because my first pair of socks were made with Claudia Handpaint, which has the same yardage, and I ended up having to go back to my LYS for a third skein because I ran out of yarn, which made for a very expensive pair of socks, indeed. In fact, I did some research on Ravelry to make sure I could knit this pair with just two skeins before casting on. It turned out to be enough, but I'm still a little worried about the prospect of knitting it on size 1s or so. And I know I could do toe up, but I just don't like it as well.

As for the yarn itself, I found it incrediby soft, but not all that "sproingy," as it is often described. I think I was expecting something more along the lines of the Claudia. Koigu just doesn't have the same body. Maybe you just never forget your first love.

I think I mentioned that these were quick? I cast on Friday evening and finished the pair on Sunday evening. Not too shabby.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bavarian Jacket

Bavarian Jacket

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Bavarian Jacket, Spun Out 29A, available at Schoolhouse Press
Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino, colorway 119, about 13 skeins
Needles: US 7 Options
Gauge: 4.25 st/in

This is a great pattern, with neat little tricks like elbow shaping that you don't see every day. It's just some well placed short rows, but it makes a difference. I left them out at first, but was displeased with the way the fabric bunched when I bent my elbow. Lesson learned, don't question Elizabeth Zimmermann!

Aside from screwing up and then having to fix it, I didn't make many modifications. Instead of grafting the shoulders, I used a three-needle bind off, and I cast off for the back neck and picked up stitches for the little collar. So my Bavarian Jacket isn't as seamless as the original, but the weight of the garment is on the shoulders, and the seams there do keep it from pulling out of shape. The pattern calls for a knitted strip of garter stitch stretched between the sleeve caps to hold things together, which I found unnecessary.

I left off the optional pockets and "ridiculous" (EZ's word, not mine) little belt at the back, but only because I thought that the shank buttons I chose would be uncomfortable if I went with the belt.

The yarn is from the stash, and I chose it mostly to use it up. On the whole, I prefer solid yarns, but sometimes the siren song of the variegated skein is more than I can bear. I purchased this in an unhappy moment after I finished my first sweater, Wicked, and it came out disastrously. I thought that if only I had used the "right" yarn, it would have been fine, and was determined to re-knit the pattern and show it who was boss. The mood passed and I was left with the yarn.

I'm pleased with how the colors worked up in garter stitch, and especially with how it looks with the buttons on, but I can't say that I would prefer it to, say, a solid olive green. Then I could have done navy i-cord and scarlet pocket linings a la Liz to great effect. On a variegated background, however, it would be too much.

Elizabeth Zimmermann Original Bavarian Jacket
Original Bavarian Jacket
See this and more at New School Knitting: The Influence of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Schoolhouse Press
Original Bavarian Jacket - Back

Original Bavarian Jacket - detail

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Cowbell

The thing about garter stitch is that, no matter how interesting or clever the construction, the in progress part is kind of boring to look at. Look, Ma, no purls! I knit the same sleeve over and over because I am no good with numbers/was too lazy to count/forgot to start decreasing at the elbow!

I was thinking of making a bog jacket next, but I think that by the time I finish the Tomten, I'll be gartered out for a while. Don't remind me about that garter stitch baby blanket hiding in the knitting bag; that baby isn't due until January.

Anyway, since I have more pretty from the ranch, I'll share that while I'm knitknitknitting, and hopefully I'll be able to put an FO up soon.

Ranch - cattle

I don't think I would like to be a black cow on a 100+ degree day, but she seems to be enjoying the grass.

Ranch - wild lavender

That's wild lavender! Before knitting, I was into gardening, and I used to talk to area gardeners online about how near impossible it is to get lavender to grow here, and killed some myself (I never can seem to take no for an answer), only to find it growing wild at the ranch. It's everywhere this year, probably because of all of the rain.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Good Weekend for Knitting

This weekend we went to the ranch where my husband grew up. It was good to get away from the TV, the cell phone, the blackberry, and, yes, even the computer and the internet.

Ranch - Cattle, Horses

We saw some yarn in its natural habitat.

Ranch - Angora Goats

These are mohair. We looked for wool, but the sheep were hiding somewhere in the South Trap.

And there was knitting.

Weekend Knitting

I finished a Swirl Sock and a plain Trekking sock, and got a heckuva start on a Tomten for my husband.

The Bavarian Jacket was left at home to think about what it's done. I'll work on it while my husband settles on whether he wants a hood and what contrast color he wants me to use on the Tomten.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


This is Duchess.


This is what happens when Duchess tries to jump in your lap while you're knitting.


Fortunately, I was able to re-tension the affected row.

snag fixed

I am thisclose to being finished with the Bavarian Jacket, except I need to rip the sleeve back a bit to put the elbow shaping in the same place as the other sleeve. I should have counted the garter ridges to make sure it matched up, but I just held the sleeves together and eyeballed it, and now it's off by a good inch.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Minerva's Argyles: Construction and FO Report

The argyle socks are finished!

Minerva's Argyles

Mine are constructed a bit differently from the Sockknitters tutorial, but that's what got me started. The tutorial socks have three seams, one at the back of the leg, and two on either side of the instep. Mine have one seam, and it's hidden on the inside of the leg.

What follows is a pattern of sorts. Feel free to adjust it to fit your magic sock formula. And ask questions if I've gone a bit too vague. I've never done this pattern stuff before. I have assumed familiarity with basic sock construction and intarsia.

Using US1 needles, cast on 64 stitches and knit two inches of 2x2 ribbing in the round in the main color (MC). I worked the ribbing in the round mainly because when I first cast on I had no idea that I was going to knit an argyle. It could just as easily be knit flat and seamed with the rest of the sock. If you plan to do this, cast on 66 stitches and ignore the M1s below.

Then knit one row to the end of round, making one stitch after the first stitch and before the last. 66 sts. Turn and purl back. Turn, and do a set-up row as follows in intarsia:

Left sock set up row: K17MC, K1CC, K31MC, K1CC, K16MC
Right sock set up row: K16MC, K1CC, K31MC, K1CC, K17MC

For each color section I reeled off about two wingspans of yarn and just let it hang. You may prefer to use bobbins.

Continue, knitting flat and increasing the CC sections by one stitch on either side until they are touching, and then decreasing until there is only one CC stitch. Easy-peasy, but if you manage to mess it up (and I did on both socks), you can go over the mistake in the correct color when you duplicate stitch the diagonals on later.

This chart is upside down as knitting charts go, so read left to right and from the top down, or flip it over and read it the normal way. I created it more to visualize what I wanted to do than to knit from. I ignored the diagonals since they change color as they go along; if I had decided to do diagonals in a third color I would have knit them in.

argyle sock chart

I knit or purled the selvedges as I came to them, but you may prefer to slip them. I found that working them made a more invisible seam.

After two diamonds are completed, put everything but the heel stitches (note this includes the one selvedge stitch on the other side of the heel) on a circular needle to hold and knit the heel flap and turn the heel on two DPNs. I knit my heel flap in stockinette stitch with a 4 stitch garter edge.

Minerva's Argyle
Click to enlarge.

Pick up stitches along the heel flap and knit the gusset as usual, decreasing until 66 stitches remain. Continue knitting flat until the last diamond is complete. Decrease one stitch at each end of the last row, and rejoin to knit in the round. 64 sts.

Minerva's Argyles
Click to enlarge.

Knit to desired length and finish with your preferred toe. Weave in all those pesky ends.

Minerva's Argyles
Click to enlarge.

Duplicate stitch the diagonals on, and sew up the seam using mattress stitch. Canine assistance is encouraged.

Minerva's Argyles
Click to enlarge.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Minerva's Argyles
Click to enlarge.

Minerva's Argyles

Pattern: my own, as outlined above -- "Minerva's Argyles" because they're Gryffindor colors and Professor McGonagall is always described as wearing tartan, so I imagine she would have tartan socks as well
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Burgundy (2 skeins), Serengeti (1 skein)
Needles: Knit Picks US1 DPNs and 24" circular

Sunday, August 5, 2007

One Down

After months of inactivity, I decided to finish my Ella. Mainly because I wanted to free up the needles I had been using.

It had been so long since I had worked on it that I had to refer back to the pattern, whereupon I realized that I had been making a mistake all along, purling 2tog where I was supposed to be p2tog-tbl-ing. So what do I do now? No way to fix it except to start over. Keep going, repeating the mistake for consistency?

Ella, Before

Or think about how cute that yarn would be as a baby surprise jacket or a wee tomten and rip?

Ella, After

The other WIPs are shaking in their bag.

Knitting bag

They don't know it yet, but at least two among them await similar fates.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Second Sock, Third Sleeve

I haven't yet had an issue with finishing a pair of socks, but sometimes I do need to take a break before starting the second. I like to knit, but I don't like to knit the same thing over and over. That's kind of how I feel about the Bavarian Jacket sleeves right now. The prospect of reknitting the first sleeve that is really killing morale, and I haven't even finished the second yet. So I'll argyle a bit before knitting on.

Minerva's Argyles