Monday, December 31, 2007

2007, adieu.

Howdy, strangers. It's been a little while, so settle in with a warm beverage, or do like I did when I got back to the internet-connected world and just browse the pictures. I'll try not to be too wordy.

Very Warm Grinch

First up is Christmas knitting that didn't get blogged, mostly because it was still damp when I packed it up and hit the road. I actually didn't get a picture of it until last Saturday, but when I snuck it out of my father-in-law's house for a photo shoot, he ran out and posed for me even though he was on the phone. Hi, David! Glad you like the hat!

The pattern is loosely based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Very Warm Hat. I charted out the lettering myself and decreased at six points every third round to create the pointy stocking cap shape. I considered pompoms for the ends, but the bells made it more easily reversible.

I had intended to knit it in acrylic so that it would be machine washable, and also because my husband was with me when I was shopping and he insisted that we could find yarn for the hat at the yarn store we were in, but I didn't get two rows in before deciding that it was too splitty to be bothered with. So I made another trip and switched to wool (Patons Classic Merino and Cascade 220) and was much happier for it.

Holiday 07

The big news is that I got a spinning wheel for Christmas! It's a Kromski Symphony in the walnut finish and I really love it so far. That center picture is the White Finn Top that came with the wheel. It was a bit coarse for a garment, so I decided mid-spin to make a cozy for my french press that stays at the ranch, at which point I stopped trying for consistency and went for a more homespun texture. And then I made it three-ply, which evened it out a lot, anyway. Tell me all your places to get good rovings; I am on the hunt.

New Mexico

We also made a very quick trip to New Mexico to see some property in the mountains that my father-in-law had put an offer on. It was a lot of hours in the car, but so worth it to see some snow and breathe in the cold air. I was very happy for my mittens!

2007 has been a pretty good year; I found a new hobby that has kept my mind occupied almost non-stop. My hope for 2008 is to temper that a little with a little more attention to some things that have been neglected in the pursuit of fiber, such as cooking and housecleaning and perhaps even laundry. But with a new wheel in the house, I'm not making any promises.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bird in Hand


I have never owned mittens in my life, then I take up knitting and suddenly I have three pairs. My first pair are a little big. I'm thinking of giving them to my mother, but I don't know if she would wear them, or if I can bear to part with them. My second pair are a wee bit too snug. I'll probably be sending them off to the Dulaan Project. But this pair, this pair is just right.

The pattern is, of course, Kate Gilbert's Bird in Hand. I started on size 2 1/2 (3.0 mm) needles and got through the second braid on the first mitten before admitting that they were just too big, ripping, and restarting on 1 1/2 (2.5 mm) needles. I've knit worsted weight yarn on size 2s before, and the tight gauge didn't get me down too much. It makes a thick, cozy fabric that I'm sure is completely unnecessary in my climate, but my hands are always freezing, so I'm sure I'll appreciate it anyway. The wind is often what's brutal, even if the ambient temperature is tame, and I'm pretty sure these are wind-proof.

Bird in Hand

The only change I made to the pattern was to knit up the picot hem before starting the braids so I wouldn't have to sew it up later. I'll admit the braids were a little tedious. I've done braids like this a few times before, but never at this tight a gauge. I spent a lot of time trying to un-split stitches. And I'm not sure they even show up that well on the final project. If I knit the pattern again, I'd probably cheat and use a purl row instead, but I'm happy that I did the braids for this pair. I'm not one to shy away from "too hard," at least when it comes to sticks and string.

The red yarn is Berocco Ultra Alpaca and the white yarn is Cascade 220. I think I'm slightly allergic to alpaca. My hands itch when I knit with it, so it's probably good that it's broken up by the straight wool.

Bird in Hand Bird in Hand

The pattern is full of clever little details. I love how the vine motif continues seamlessly on the thumb gore. The flower detail on the palm breaks up the plainer, more regular color pattern, and ties in with the swirly thumb pattern. Even the leaf and flower motifs on the cuffs are mirrored from hand to hand. And, of course, the bird. As I was finishing up the second mitten, I wished for a moment that I had reversed the colors so that I would have little redbirds on my thumbs, but of course doves are delightful, too. (OK, the left one looks more like a duck.)

Palm Sides

So, I should be satiated with mittens, right? Well, I might be, if Adrian at Hello Yarn wouldn't tempt me with her beautiful Selbuvotter.

Monday, December 17, 2007

mmm, cashmere

I used up every last inch of those two skeins of cashmere. The result? A beret and neckwarmer. I had planned on gloves, but I thought the light worsted yarn would be too thick, and cashmere should be where you can feel it, hence the neckwarmer.

Cashmere Beret and Neckwarmer

I need a hat like this for myself. It's so perfect. An EZ pattern, of course, her tam o'shanter from Knitting Without Tears. I did a 1x1 ribbed brim with a tubular cast-on, but that was my only change.

Resorting to the mirror shot.

I used a tubular cast-on (and cast-off) for the neckwarmer as well, and went up to a size 9 needle for drapiness. The backside of the waffle stitch looks nice, too, so I sewed on two buttons to make it reversible. If this counts as a scarf, it's my first one!

Neckwarmer - "right" side neckwarmer - "wrong" side


Thursday, December 13, 2007

News Items

Just a list today; too many things swirling through my mind to be truly coherent. I kinda just realized that there's only a little over a week left before Christmas, and I've only purchased a gift for my husband so far. I hate crowds, but it's too late now to order online, so I guess I'll have to brave the dreaded mall. Christmas isn't as much fun as it used to be. When you're not religious and not a kid any more, all that's left is the commercialism and the stress. I'm trying, though.


1. Went to a prescreening of Juno last night. Loved it; am changing my name to Juno. Go see it. If you're in Dallas, it opens at the Magnolia and the Angelika tomorrow.

2. After copious subtle hinting from the spouse (e.g., "I really love these socks you've knit me. I've been wearing a different pair every day."), I've made some progress on the Gentleman's Shooting Stockings in Fluted Pattern (from Knitting Vintage Socks). I've made some adjustments to the pattern, and I'm happy to report that they fit perfectly and I will have enough yarn to finish the pair.

3. I was able to sew my new bag back together. Luckily, Bruneaux just sliced through the handle with his razor-sharp teeth to get the bag down from the door handle so he could maul the yarn. Since he didn't actually eat any of the strap, it was salvageable. Kinda takes the new off of it, though. I'm thinking I might need a brown Sanibel to make myself feel better about the whole thing.

4. Sometimes the black hole that is the inside of the Namaste messenger bag yields gifts. I found an untouched skein of the brown J&S yarn for the Fair Isle Yoke Sweater, so I'm no longer worried that I will run out of yarn. I'm in the process of re-knitting the body of the sweater, but I keep getting distracted by more interesting projects. I was hoping to finish before Christmas, but I'm accepting reality.

5. The second Bird in Hand mitten is coming along nicely. I'm doling it out to myself in small doses. Should be finished this weekend.

6. I have decided to knit for Christmas. Just two things, both hats, so don't look at me like my head is about to start spinning around. I purchased the yarn today.

a. A cashmere beret for a work-related-person. She got me a really thoughtful gift last year, and I'm tired of giving her impersonal gift certificates. Like many Texans, she hates cold weather, and she mentioned the other day that she got chilled just walking across the street. So I'm thinking a nice hat will be the ticket. I'd really like to do a pair of gloves as well, but I'm focusing on the hat first.

b. A gag gift for my FIL, based on EZ's Very Warm Hat. Yes, I know that that's two hats put together. But hats are super-quick, right? Yarn is Berocco Comfort. That's right, I went to the yarn store and bought cashmere and acrylic.

Gotta go, must knit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Anyone want a dog?

Catahoula male, brindle, intact, approx. 1 year old, ~60 lbs and growing. Found stray, but healthy and current on shots.

Cute personality. Good with small pets and children.

Bruneaux Cute

Mild fiber obsession.

Bad dog

Has reached "chewing stage."

Monday, December 10, 2007

I couldn't resist.

Bird in Hand

It seems like I've been seeing these mittens everywhere, but Ravelry says there are only 29 in progress, so I must have been seeking them out.

Anyway, I had to go back to the yarn store on Saturday because I got to looking at my account online and something seemed off, so I went for my receipt and, sure enough, they had charged my debit card for almost twice the amount that I had actually purchased. (Note to self: LOOK before signing.) I had to take the receipt back so they could fix it, so of course I applied some new yarn to the credit.

Once I had the yarn for the project, my fingers were itching to cast on, so I told myself, OK, but just the cuff. And then on Sunday, OK, but just to where you put the thumb on scrap yarn. And then I "just one more round"-ed it until the first one was done.

No, that's not a f-up in the palm pattern (Whew!), just a shy red stitch caught at a bad angle.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cabled Zeebee

This red Manos was one of my yarn store purchases last weekend, and I just couldn't wait to play with it. I swatched for a Zeebee, and it occurred to me that if I was knitting a hat sideways, I could stick a cable on it, and so I did.

Cabled Zeebee

Such a quick, fun knit, and sure to keep my ears warm this winter, if we ever get winter. Plus, it doesn't seem to itch like my Koolhaas does. Apparently, I'm sensitive to one of the many fibers in Road to China. I may have to make another one.

The garter stitch, of course, grew three sizes when it hit water. (Does this only happen to me?) But I noticed while it was still damp and threw it in the dryer and it bounced back.

What to do with the leftovers but make another mug cosy?

Seed Stitch Mug Cosy

I think this will be my last one, though. I left out the last decrease row on this one and felted it a little bit, and it still doesn't want to stay on.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Heads up

If, like me, you tend to stitch in a state of semi-darkness, do your eyes a favor and head over to Joann and check out their online lighting sale. Or, better yet, point a potential giftor in that direction on your behalf!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stash: Busted

Well, maybe not all of it. And maybe we watch a little too much Mythbusters around here.

Silk Garden Stashbusting

I made this Clapotis out of Noro Silk Garden (217) back in April or somesuch; I remember I just had one cold day to wear it, and it was still damp and smelling like wet sheep and Kookaburra, but I wore it anyway.

I had a few partial balls left over that I've been meaning to do something with ever since. They were all picked-through as I had been very careful to preserve color repeats when joining new balls of yarn in the Clapotis. Finally, they are out of the stash.

Mitered Mittens

The EZ Mitered Mittens are such a quick project, they should have been done long ago. You might recall, though, that the first mitten I showed you doesn't look like the completed pair. For that mitten, I used a square i-cord cast-on (kfb, p1, k1, slip 3 sts back to left needle, repeat) and started with 48 stitches, decreasing to 40 at the wrist because they were pretty big. When I went to cast on the second mitten, I just couldn't bring myself to do that again, so I ended up with a picot hem on 40 stitches topped by a purl row. Much better! Check how the one thumb on the one mitten follows the color changes -- that's pure luck. The other thumb blends in, but stays the same color throughout (and it's also over 12 stitches rather than 10 because I forgot to decrease two on the first row like I did on the left mitten. Whoopsie.)

Mitered Mitten Thumbs

All in all, I'm pretty pleased. They don't match exactly, but they do have the same set of colors.

The best part? I was able to save my favorite colors from the leftovers to make this:

Garter Mug Cozy

Garter Mug Cosy from the Holiday Interweave. It came out a little large, but I can probably take care of that with some warm water. Now maybe when I make tea and sit down to knit, it won't get cold before I remember to drink it. And bonus on the built-in coaster.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Stockings

Promise not to laugh? Really?

Ok. I made Christmas stockings for the dogs. I've had the itch (and the yarn) since I completed the Frostrosen Mittens. I oohed and aahed over Meg Swansen's and Feral Knitter's stockings, but I thought I had successfully repressed the urge until we were putting up the tree last Wednesday, and I came across these.

old stockings

I was never very happy with them. And now Bruneaux needed a stocking, so I thought I should make one. But it would look bad if Bruneaux had a nice stocking and the little dogs had these things. Before long, I had cast on. And it was so much fun that I had all three done in short order.

Christmas Stockings

Duke's is an adaptation of Maimu's Mittens from Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia, Bruneaux's is a compilation of charts from Terri Shea's Selbuvotter, and Duchess' is from chart 109 in Lisbeth Upitis' Latvian Mittens. All were made from Rauma Finullgarn, less than one skein each of the red, green, gold, and natural, and some of the leftover white from the Frostrosen Mittens. Bruneaux's and Duchess' were 60 stitches on size 2 DPNs, Duke's was 64 stitches on size 1.5 DPNs.

Their names and the year are knitted into the cuffs.

Christmas Stockings - inside

It was a delightfully silly project, and yet more practical in this climate than if I had made mittens from all of these patterns. I had hoped that the stranded mitten/glove itch was scratched, but then this morning I saw these, and I knew that it was not. I guess I'll start them after I finish Anu's gloves!

Doesn't that look nice, all handmade? My husband's is the boot, made by my mother-in-law, and he's very proud of it. :)

Christmas Stockings

And since we're on the topic, I might as well show you the first stocking I ever made.

Needlepoint Christmas Stocking

I made this for my mom when I was in college. She had made mine and my brothers, but she never had a nice one for herself. I was mildly into needlepoint at the time, so we picked out this kit and I made it for her for Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I got lost on the way to the LYS.

I hadn't been to a LYS since around April. I can buy yarn (and anything else I think I need) online, and often from work, leaving my free time for knitting and doing more enjoyable things than shopping. Or so I thought.

Today, DH and I were supposed to clean out the gutters, put up the Christmas lights, and do a little housecleaning. He decided to go do something with a friend instead. So I said, fine, I'll go to the yarn shops. He must have really wanted to go, because he seemed to think that was a great idea.

I hadn't been to the one in Plano in so long, I was sure that I had gone too far and missed my exit, and I forgot to exit where I should have going to the one near downtown, but when I got there, I found my way. Amid the yarn, the needles, and the hubbub of knitting chatter, I knew I had found something worth leaving home for. And I won't be forgetting that any time soon.

Today wouldn't have been a good day for cleaning out gutters, anyway. It's overcast and misty, and the leaves would all be wet from the light rain last night. But there was just enough daylight for me to take some pictures of the finished baby Tomten.

Japanese Maples Wee Tiny Tomten
St Francis is chilly Japanese Maple

The pattern is, of course, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Tomten, as documented in Knitting Without Tears, Knitting Workshop, and The Opinionated Knitter. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy in Summer Sky, and the needles were US3s. The zipper is from zipperstop.