Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adult Tomten

Adult Tomten

Pattern: Tomten Jacket, from Elizabeth Zimmermann's The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn: Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed in Sweetgrass (6) and Fisherman Weight in Tamarack (1)
Needles: US 10 KP Options

The Tomten is, most famously, a children's pattern. My husband caught a glimpse of Brooklyn Tweed's adult version and informed me that it had his name written all over it. I was pretty enchanted with the jacket, myself, so it didn't take much convincing. He picked the colors, and off I went.

This was the first time I've knit a large garment for someone else, so balancing the original design against modifications for an adult fit against his desires against my own opinions was a bit of a challenge, but I think it all worked out in the end.

EZ advises that you can adapt the pattern to fit an adult by knitting it at a gauge of 2-3 stitches per inch. I liked the fabric I was getting from the McTaggart Tweed at 3 stitches per inch, but I thought the pattern still needed some tweaking to better fit an adult. In the original pattern, the sleeve circumferences and the neck circumference are each 50% of the body circumference. While that provides an adorable fit and room to grow on a toddler, I didn't think it would be as flattering on my husband.

For the neck, I did two rows of k4, k2tog to bring it closer to the size of the actual neck. He decided against a hood, and these decreases created a mock-turtleneck fit with kind of a mod aesthetic. I think I would have preferred the look of a hood, but it would have added more bulk to what was already a horse blanket of a sweater, and I doubt he would have used it much, anyway. And I definitely would have needed to order an extra skein of the contrasting yarn. As it was, I was down to mere inches after sewing on the buttons.

Adult Tomten Detail

For the sleeves, I left the armhole deep, but then added a wide mitered border to bring the sleeves closer to the body and accentuate the construction of the jacket. From there, I decreased on either side of the center slipped-stitch ridge after every fifth garter ridge to length and then k2, k2 tog across before joining the contrast color.

Adult Tomten Detail

The antler toggles were my husband's choice, after weeks of indecision. I lobbied hard for a zipper, but it's his jacket, after all, and the antlers suit both him and the jacket. He asked for buttonholes rather than loops, and I was happy to oblige.

Adult Tomten Detail

He seems to be pretty happy with the final results, and since he hasn't been shy about asking me to change things that he didn't quite like, I believe him when he says he likes it.

Adult Tomten Detail

There was a lot of trial and error along the way, and I even took a much-needed break from it for a while, but I'm having some real separation anxiety now that it is finally finished. Good thing the yarn for my next project came in the mail today.

Previous Posts on the Tomten:
8/13/07 A Good Weekend for Knitting
8/21/07 If it's worth doing, it's worth doing three times?
8/23/07 Success!
8/26/07 Antlers and Toggles and Tomtens, Oh My!
8/28/07 This is the project that never ends.
9/20/07 Status and Priority
9/24/07 A Very Productive Weekend, Indeed

More pictures on Flickr.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Very Productive Weekend, Indeed

We were busy this weekend. For one thing, we bought new living room furniture, replacing the set that I had found in the classifieds for $200 when I moved into my very first apartment which was no longer comfortable or even passably attractive.

New Sofa

That meant that we had to move the old stuff out, move the new stuff in, and put it together. (Gotta love Ikea. So cheap you almost don't care what the dogs do to it.)

The best part? Storage ottomans instead of a coffee table. His and hers. I've already filled mine.

Ottoman Storage

And yet, I still found time to knit. I finished the center square and charted the lace border for the baby shawl, and cast on for the second Little Child's Sock. Yes, that's a completed Adult Tomten hiding out in the ottoman, waiting for a real photo shoot. (No, I didn't knit that blanket. I bought it at Ikea.)


Friday, September 21, 2007

Birthday Socks

Grandma's birthday socks are hot off the needles.

Grandma's Birthday Socks

Pattern: Child's French Sock in Citron Pattern and Diaper Knitting, Nancy Bush, Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl in Burgundy
Needles: aluminum US1 DPNs

No mods. This may be the first pattern that I ever repeat, because I can hardly stand to give these away. I think I'll make myself a pair in aubergine, inspired, as I so often am, by Mustaa Vilaa.

Mom got her birthday socks and sent me the following email:
Summer 2007 054.jpg
"I love the socks! Love the colors! They are so soft....AND they don't itch. I told [B] I just don't know how she does this....he said, "WIth 4 little needles like this(and he moved his hands like he was knitting). He is such a card! Thank you! They are SO pretty and I have some flannel pjs they will look SO good and SO warm this winter. :-))))))) They are tres magnifique!!!!! I am so impressed everytime I see your work! [B] also said..."What do you expect...she is an artist inside".

Love, Mom"

I think she likes them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Status and Priority

Or, World's Longest Post Ever, in which I admit to my gluttony of projects.


1. Grandma's Birthday Socks. 4 repeats and one toe to go. Due: in two weeks Estimated Time of Completion ("ETC"): tonight
Grandma's Socks

2. Hubby's Tomten. Minor adjustments + button bands to go. ETC: this weekend, even if I have to hide in a bedroom to get it done

3. Little Child's Sock. First sock completed. Second sock yet to be cast on. Still feeling the love, just distracted by gift-knitting. ETC: next week
Little Child's Sock

4. Anniversary Socks. Two inches from the heel on the first sock. Currently my sock-on-the-go. ETC: week-10 days
Anniversary Socks

5. Hubby's Plain Trekking Socks. One down (but too short, need to rip the toe and lengthen), one cast on. These should become purse-socks, but I need to get past the ribbing first to be sure that they're exactly the same length, and they're just about the most boring thing I have going so they haven't seen the light of day in a while. I really should finish them before I start any more socks for myself. ETC: two weeks
Plain Trekking Sock

6. Baby blanket/shawl. I just frogged and re-started this last night. I had intended to do a bias garter-stitch square for the middle, and then do some kind of lace border and edging as in Heirloom Knitting but I switched needles so many times that my gauge was inconsistent in obvious ways, so I needed to start over. This time I'm using the February Baby Shawl construction from Knitter's Almanac. It looks a little ooky because the yarn has sat around in garter stitch for months. It will still have a plain center; I don't want it to be too lacy, as it's for a baby boy and the mother isn't really the lacy type. The baby will be born in San Diego and then move to Louisiana, so I'm thinking some pineapples around the border (pineapples are symbol of Southern Hospitality), and a print o' the wave edging. Due: early January ETC: October(ish)
Baby Shawl

7 Hex Coat. I've finished one front. After I finish Mom's sweater (see "Upcoming"), I'll probably make this my main large project. ETC: November
Hex Coat

8. Lily of the Valley Shawl. I kind of have the urge to rip this out and restart it on smaller needles, but I probably won't. I love the pattern, and if I just stick with it it will start to go faster; the rows just get shorter from here. But with three wild dogs and a chatty husband in the house, it's hard to find an appropriate time and place to knit lace. ETC: maybe never
Lily of the Valley Shawl


1. Mom's cabled cardigan. She bought the yarn and wants me to knit a sweater. This is kind of part of her birthday present. I've pretty much designed it in my head; I just need to swatch and get going. The yarn shipped today. ETC: October-November

2. Fancy Silk Sock for a Child of 5 or 6 Years. Every time I see this sock in Knitting Vintage Socks, I wonder what it's doing among such a nice collection of socks. It looks like nothing in the book. I found this photo on Flickr ages ago, and have been dying to knit the pattern ever since, but I couldn't figure out what it was; the knitter just says it's from Knitting Vintage Socks. I've scoured the book for it several times, but never would have suspected that it was that pattern. Thanks to Ravelry, I've put two and two together, and the socks, at last, shall be mine. ETC: two weeks or so, unless I just can't stand it

3. Nordic mittens. Just got the kit in the mail yesterday, and I'm dying to get started. I want to finish all of my socks-in-progress (except whatever socks I have on-the-go in my purse) before I get started, though. I had planned to do white on navy, but now I'm thinking maybe navy on white. Except white mittens would be highly impractical. Whereas knitting mittens in Dallas, Texas is not at all impractical. It's cold here a good three days a year. What do you think?
Nordic Mittens

4. A sweater for myself. Probably a modified Cobblestone out of recycled yarn. ETC: December?

Falling by the wayside:

1. Welsh Country Stockings. I wanted to make these more like the picture of the original in Folk Socks than the actual pattern, i.e., knee-highs. I started first from the top (without swatching, of course), and the fit was good but the color pattern kind of distorted over the calf. I knit all the way down to the heel, but my decreases were off and the sock was baggy around the ankle. So I frogged and started from the toe (again without swatching, or even taking gauge from my first failed attempt -- I hate taking gauge on socks). This time they're a little short, and, of course, the short row heel doesn't really fit my foot. Maybe I'll give it another shot someday, but for now the love is gone.
Welsh Country Stockings

2. Neon green socks. I started these a long time ago two at a time on size 4s, put them down, scavenged the needles, put them back on 5s, thinking that's what I had started them on, knit one up, and got a sock that's a little too big. And a little too bright. The yarn is Artyarns Supermerino. I bought it to knit some Embossed Leaves socks with thinking it was the Ultramerino. (Hey, it was with sock yarn at the LYS and I was too much of a newb to check more closely. Also, The Woolie Ewe sends me into a bit of sensory overload.) I tend to like my greens on the gaudy side -- chartreuse is my BFF -- but this is a little bright even for me, even on my feet. What would you do with two skeins of put-your-eyes-out-green supermerino?
Artyarns Sock

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Almost too easy.

A few weeks ago when my mother was visiting, she let drop that she thought the Cowgirl's Slipper Socks in last winter's Interweave Knits were very cute, hint, hint. And her birthday was coming up, hint, hint. Worsted-weight ankle socks? Yeah, ma, I can take care of that for ya. In fact, I'll go one up and make them in my favorite fingering-weight, my second sock-yarn purchase ever, because I'm not sure you realize how thick those socks really are.


Pattern: Cowgirl's Slipper Socks by Ann Budd, IK Winter 2006
Yarn: Claudia Handpainted Fingering in Blue Sky
Needles: KnitPicks nickel dpns US1
Mods: CO 66 sts, 5 pattern repeats, knit 4 rows, heel flap over 34 sts to 16 chain sts, gusset to 64 sts

They fit me a little loose at the ankle, but I have skinny ankles and narrow feet, so they'll probably look better on their intended recipient.

I hope she doesn't mind the pooling. Or the fact that they came out slightly fraternal.

In other cuteness:


I promise I won't let the blog get overrun with doggie pictures, but I couldn't keep that one to myself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I almost always use metal needles. I learned on aluminum and then went to nickel. I've tried wooden and bamboo needles for socks, but found the Brittany Birch were too sticky and blunt, the Colonial Rosewood were pretty, but had inconsistent tips and were too expensive for something that could break so easily, and the Clover Bamboo had a nice feel to them, but the very tips seem to stick to the yarn. Wooden needles, I thought, were not for me. And yet, when I saw the colors of the new Knit Picks Harmony needles, I had to have them right away. I needed another option for slippery yarns, but what really got me was the colors. I am a sucker for pretty colors; why else would I keep buying variegated yarn even though I usually don't like how it knits up? I ordered the sock kit and tips in sizes 4-10.5 without batting an eyelash, rationalizing that I could return them if I really didn't like them.


What I didn't expect is that I would like them even better than my metal Options. They're so smooth, almost as slick, and I doubt they'll tarnish in my hands. Not to mention silent and lightweight. And pretty. What's not to love?


From top to bottom: Clover Bambo, Susan Bates, Knit Picks nickel Options, Knit Picks Harmony, all US3


As you can see, the colors aren't quite as bright as they look on the Knit Picks site.


I tried out the sock needles on this lace patterned sock*. Make 1 purlwise? No problem! I also like that they don't fall out if I let go of a needle that only has a couple of stitches on it.


I keep most of my DPNs in a needle roll from Offhand Designs, but I think I'll stick to the Knit Picks case for this one. It's so well labeled and compact, and shorter DPNs tend to fall out of my needle roll. Now I wish I had a case like this for my metal Knit Picks 6" DPNs.


I am one of the few people who actually likes the Options binder, and I have plenty of cables, so I just ordered tips. I was tempted to get them in all sizes, but since I haven't used any of my Options over size 10.5, I don't think I need to have those sizes double-covered.

I did have one tip that won't screw onto a cable. I don't expect that to be an issue. When I got my Options set, it came with two sets of US4 tips and no US5s. I contacted Knit Picks and they dispatched the 5s straight away, and I got to keep the extra 4s. What they lack in quality control, they make up for in customer service. If customer service can really make up for lack of quality control. In any case, check yours for correct size and connectivity.

*Sock pattern is Scheherazade's Slippers, the September Mystery Sock from the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry. Yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy in Chinatown Apple. It's turning out too big for me on the US2s, and I'm not loving the combination of yarn and pattern, so it's probably not long for this world.

Friday, September 14, 2007



Autumn is coming. I can feel it in the cool morning air. The rational voice in my head tells me that we still have many warm days ahead, but I'm starting to want hot tea and onion soup and all of the other cold-weather treats that just seem so wrong for most of the year in Texas. So, in preparation, I finally made the tea cosy I've been planning since I learned to knit. I went ahead and knit a cosy for the coffee press while I was at it, even though I rarely have time for a second cup in the mornings. Bruneaux was a big helper.


Tea Cozy

Tea Cosy
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino Wool
Needles: Knit Picks Options US7
Instead of swatching, I looked up the gauge for the wool on Yarndex, measured around my tea bowl and cast on. When it came out too big, I threw it in the wash and felted it, which made it a bit short, but I bet it will still keep tea warm. Originally it fit over the handle, but post-felting I had to cut a slit for the handle to poke through. I'll be keeping an eye out for a funky button or bead to sew on the top for that finishing touch.

Coffee Cozy

French Press Cosy
Yarn: Knit Picks Telemark in Bayberry held double, 2 balls
Needles: Knit Picks Options US9
I just cast on what looked to be the right amount of stitches and went with it, using short rows to shape the top, and seamed it at the top and very bottom, leaving a hole for plunger and the handle. I couldn't be more pleased. I love that the cosies are different reds and different textures.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reasons 3-11 for sock-knitting.

New Sock Yarn

What yarn diet? I cannot be held accountable for what I do when my sock yarn drawer starts getting empty.

emp·ty [emp-tee] adjective : closes easily

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reason 2 for sock-knitting.


Meet Bruneaux. We met Bruneaux on Thursday, after our neighbor picked him up stray and he dug out of her back yard and came to see us. We've had him since then. I made up fliers and my husband put them up around the local vet offices and the neighbor put fliers up where she found him, but no one has called to claim him. He's a catahoula, state dog of Louisiana, hence the -eaux spelling. (Bruneaux is the name we've given him, he didn't have a collar or tags, or a microchip.)

However, Bruneaux is still very much a puppy, and he thinks yarn balls are fun, and nips at my needles and my knitting when he wants my attention. Until he's acclimated, smaller projects are the order of the day. I can only imagine what he would think of my drop spindle.


We may be getting attached.

Speaking of socks, I started these Cowgirl's Slipper Socks (IK Winter 06) for my mom's birthday, and my beloved Claudia Handpainted yarn is pooling quite a bit. What's really crazy is, I think I like it. It reminds me of a Van Gogh painting. I like the subtle variations in the swaths of gold and blue, like wheat and sky.

Cowgirl Slipper Sock

Am I nuts? Should I be frogging these, or at least not planning to foist them on someone else? I need an objective eye.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Still here, still knitting socks.

I will go back to my bigger projects, I swear, but socks have been more practical lately for several reasons, so bear with me.

One of those reasons is that I've finally started carrying a sock-in-progress in my handbag. Who knew that I had so many stolen moments in a day? On Saturday we had to go by the cable TV office and return some equipment because we had switched services. When we walked in, the line was to the door. What I didn't realize was that it snaked in an additional two loops inside. No problem, right? I've got my sock. Except that I've already knit the cuff to where I think the heel goes, but I need to double check with the first sock to make sure I've done the same number of pattern repeats, and I can't remember exactly what it was the pattern said to do before I started the heel. I was not happy.


Pattern: Unst from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl in Sage
Needles: KnitPicks US1 DPNs

I'm lovin' (McLovin?) the Gems Pearl. Such a nice yarn in such nice solid colors. Except, well, this isn't my favorite green. But Grandma would really like it, and they came out a bit short for me, and her feet are smaller than mine, and her birthday is coming up...

Don't worry, she's not just getting my cast-offs. I've got another pair on the needles that were intended for her from the beginning.

Well, I guess in one sense she is getting my cast-offs. Socks on the needles are so uncomfortable.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Arch-Shaped Norwegian Stockings

Arch-Shaped Norwegian Stockings

Pattern: Norwegian Stockings, Nancy Bush, Folk Socks, with a twist of Meg Swansen's Arch-Shaped Stockings
Yarn: Dale of Norway Heilo in Medium Sheep (3), Mink (2), and Copper (1)
Needles: US2 Clover Bamboo DPNs

Notes: I love the look of these stockings, but never liked the checkerboard heel in the pattern, so I just continued the leg pattern on the heel flap, which I think gives a longer line to the leg.

And then I saw Meg Swansen's Arch-Shaped Stockings and decided to throw that in as well. I prefer the stripes on the sole and toe to the pattern; I think they flow better from the overall pattern on the leg. Yarn dominance becomes especially noticeable in a vertical stripe pattern, and I like the slightly corrugated effect.

Arch-Shaped Norwegian Stockings

I did have to go down a needle size from the recommended 3s, and with 2s I got a nice snug fit and an impenetrable fabric. They're so thick, in fact, that I doubt I'll be able to wear them with any shoes currently in my possession. I'm thinking of buying some clogs.

Arch-Shaped Norwegian Stockings Arch-Shaped Norwegian Stockings

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Relaxed yet Exhausted

Ranch - Wildflowers

How was your holiday?

We had another quick trip to the ranch and had a great time, but that much traveling wears me out. Well, either the traveling or staying up until the wee hours of the morning catching up after three days of no internet; it's hard to tell. There was knitting and spinning, but not that much, considering. I hardly knit in the car at all, mainly because I had dogs in my lap the whole way.

As it turns out, project frustration with the Tomten is enough to overcome project fatigue over two second socks (including the Swirl Socks, below). The Norwegian Stockings are off the needles and blocking! As I mentioned before, I deviated from the pattern somewhat. It would have been nice if I had noted my mods back then, but I eventually figured out what I had done. Photos soon. Tomten progress to resume shortly.