Friday, February 26, 2010

An embarrassment of yarny riches

I was so excited yesterday to find, neatly wrapped up in my mailbox, this:

It's more of the superwash from Midnight Sheep that I used for the Milkshake Scarflet. I loved the tiny efficiency of that project but afterward my hands were missing the feel of the yarn so much I had to order more.

Of course, the idea I had for these colours shifted between order and arrival and needs more fine-tuning before I can begin, but I'll have to settle for hugging the skeins periodically for a while.

Because later in the day, this arrived:

It's just about everything I need to knit the sample of one of the larger projects that will appear in Kathleen Taylor's new book. But more on that next week - right now, I gotta go swatch!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring 2010 Mystery Knitalong

I have a new pattern that I love so much, I wanted to make a little party of its debut. You don’t have to tell me you’re knitting it if you’re shy, but if you do participate, I hope you have fun!

This group knitting fest is for a mystery pattern that is:
A form of garment
Inspired by nature, with a nod to glamour
Produced with a very small amount of yarn and a few buttons
A little silly, yet
Useful – if not for you, then for somebody you know
Worked flat, and
Presented in a series of 4 clues.

Start Date

March 2, 2010, unless people really aren't ready and want me to push it out a week.

Links to the clues will be posted here on the Tuesday and Friday of each of the Knitalong’s two weeks (unless everybody finishes early and wants the next one sooner.) I am an e-mail or comment away should you encounter any difficulties, but for further technical support, there will doubtless be some group chat at Knitting and Tea and Cookies, Hugs’ online knitting group. Please feel free to join us if you haven’t already!


120 yards of summery worsted weight yarn (10 ply, 9wpi) in a colour flattering to you and with sufficient stitch definition to show off twist stitches, such as

Americo Linen Tanguis [50% tanguis cotton, 50% linen; 218 yd/199 m per 100g] - color I158 (a grey/blue/green tone) used for sample - or

Lily Sugar’n Cream [100% cotton, 120 yd/110m per 70g] or

Anything else you like and can get gauge with.

(you can knit it in wool, too – it will just take longer to be able to enjoy it if you're coming into summer where you are.)

Solid colour versus not: I used a solid, but if you are in love with something variegated, go for it. It's just for fun after all.

1 set US #6/4mm straight needles, or size to obtain gauge
(you can use circulars as straights if that’s what you have)

1 tapestry needle to run in ends

1 sewing needle to sew on buttons

2-3 clear plastic buttons, 5/8” wide

Optional, for fourth clue only:
3-4 buttons, small sizes, clear and interestingly shaped or faceted would be ideal


20 sts/24 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

Level of Difficulty

If you haven’t learned left- and right-facing decreases, or tried a twist stitch or a yarn over, you’ll get educational support and a lot of practice here.

* * * * * *

Updated To Add:

The link to the first clue

The link to the second clue

The link to the third clue

The link to the fourth clue

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Huzzah for spring

This week I recognized an urgent need for more knitting needles of unusual size, resulting in some calling around to LYSes and a mad dash out last night into the freezing rain.

My reward?

I got to pick up the Spring issue of Interweave Knits!

I love this magazine. I don't think I've ever knit anything from it, because I'm always bogged down knitting something I thought of myself or else a sock, but that doesn't make any difference - I want to knit lots, and take such delight in all the wonderful designs and the fascinating articles and heck, even the ads. Actually, I love the ads.

Probably I should just subscribe, and I do keep meaning to, but there is something exciting about seeing it on the shelf in the grocery store or the counter in a shop full of yarn and people who are knitting together - something I would be sorry to give up.

(of course, if I had a subscription, I would probably get it a lot earlier, and the rush of that might compensate for that whole discovery-in-the-wild thing, mightn't it.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bluey love

I spent all morning setting up files for the Mystery KAL, mostly because I slacked off all evening yesterday watching a very Allied-patriotic WWII movie and getting my second Bluey along to the point of heel-turning.

Isn't this colour just a dream? It's organic merino (did I forget to say this before?) dyed in 'Stella Maris' from Midnight Sheep, who I'm pretty sure would be open to dyeing more, even in another yarn, for anybody who loves it as much as I do.

The pattern is Kalajoki (Ravelry link), and it's also a dream, even though I did mess up where the increases and decreases should be and also forgot that the socks are opposites and not actually knit from one chart. I just accepted all errors as intentional and adjusted the second accordingly, because I am such a relaxed person.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Knitting along - or not

Ugh. That genius inspiration I had for how to structure a Thing I really want have finished knitting? Wrong. I spent most of the weekend's knitting fussing over it before I finally ripped out the stitches and put the (gorgeous) yarn away until my brain is behaving better.

However, I did wake up Sunday morning with another genius inspiration: a mystery knit along for my next free pattern as a preview for the actual release.

It's a smaller project than usual but little more complicated, so it should be a fun knit. It takes less than 100 yards of cotton/linen blend but could really be made with anything, and the gauge is 20 stitches and 24 rows of stocking stitch to 4" with, in my case, 4mm needles. My tension is super loose though so your mileage will almost certainly vary.

Sound interesting? E-mail me so I can put you in the loop for a start date and other details - or just watch this space, because I'll post again when it's set to go.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In which we admire some Monkeys

Ends run in, blocking complete, perfect fit achieved: I present my very first (and definitely not last) Monkey socks.

The yarn is 'Open Flame', an exclusive colourway from I'm not even sure which installment of the Vesper Sock Club I can't bear to leave even though I will soon be swimming through sock yarn to get to yarn of any other weight.

I like they way they brighten up my boots.

I really, really like them. Next time I'll try knitting a few more repeats on the leg, and getting a closer colour match for the heel and toe, but I'm very happy with these.

(ps for Angela - in the end I didn't pin them while they dried to make the pattern pop; it just popped on its own!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good things on a Wednesday?

Wednesdays are usually a completely bleh day for me what with being the middle of the week and all, but yesterday: primo.

My latest knitting project bag from tiny happy arrived and included bonus vintage embroidery wool because Somebody, bless her, knows how obsessed I've been with embroidery since discovering her blog.

And I had a lightning bolt moment that showed me how to make the Thing I saw in a grainy old movie a few days ago and wanted immediately to knit.

And somebody invited me to knit something I am going to absolutely love working on.

And: I finished knitting the monkeys! Of course I still need to run in all the ends and block them etc. but yes. Done! Sitting in the new tiny happy bag with darning needles and scissors, matching the lining fabric (red and white check) in the most fetching way.

Not to mention much tea and chocolate. Really it's a day I could completely stand reliving, and that's a very rare thing, isn't it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I got my very own Olympics injury yesterday while taking a break from armchair athleticism to investigate whether or not 3-day old Brioche is delicious toasted (yes.) Unfortunately I burned the first test subjects and promptly removed them by hand, rather than opening a nearby drawer for my bamboo toast-removal tongs.


Yeah, I know, you can't even see it, but I sure can feel the blister on the tip of my left index finger. You know, the one I use to push the stitches along one needle and push the point of the other away. Such a nuisance.

Being stoic and driven and stuff, I carried on knitting anyway and have made a lot more progress on the Monkeys:

This is the not-as-far-along sock - the other is almost at the toe now. I'm so excited for spring weather so I can wear these out with my red velvet Mary Janes!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Knitting group swaps

The knitting group I started on Ravelry has taken off with a lot of crafty members who were game to participate in a special swap for Valentine's Day. We did a group swap of teabags and valentines, and an individual swap with a $10 limit for Something More, and it was a blast.

In the something more category, I sewed a knitting kit for Carole, a deeply satisfying project I wish I had taken more notes on so I could make another.

And Maria, who sent something to me, did a lot of sewing too - only hers was way more ambitious and included ideas I will totally steal for the next swap. I mean, honestly!

If it's not amazing enough that she had mesh fabric and a short zipper in her stash for a little zip case - she had teacup-print fabric too. Enough to make a matching project bag with. Plus luscious bits of yarn I am already plotting uses for and some pattern tamers, which I think have to be the most brilliant knitting aid ever, and not just because I tried following a chart during the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Basically I think I need to go over to Maria's house and learn how to sew with mesh. Swaps: the world's best form of creative education.

And we're planning another one! So if you want to join in, come on over to Knitting and Tea and Cookies and check us out.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monkey business

I was moping around a bit on Friday thinking I ought to be participating in some sort of Olympic-style knitting challenge and how awful it is that I have way too much going on even to think of such a thing, when I suddenly had a brainstorm:

Why not try to get everything that's on my needles off them and into some productive form before the Winter Olympics are over?

Leaving aside how challenging it is to knit from a chart while watching opening ceremonies, I think I've done rather well with the two pairs of socks I would normally never finish one of in a mere 17 days. Behold the Monkey Socks!

Yes, it's true. I've got both legs done and I've turned one heel. Of course, the heel looks a little weirder from the other side,

but I've decided to Have Faith In Blocking.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Yes, I'm living the Halloween to Holiday shift all over again, thinking of Easter before we've even had Valentine's Day. But check out this bunny pattern!

They remind me of some sort of bunny I had when I was little. I want some.

I also want 8" double pointed needles in wood in sizes smaller than 3.5 cm, which is what I was looking for when I found them. I just have to accept that my head is 21.5" inches in diameter, not 24" like my many and expensive circular needles. As it was I spent 4 hours yesterday reknitting the ribbing of a top-down hat trying to get it small enough not to look like I'd left an unlined mixer cover on my head.

Looks like my only option is Brittany Birch (which is far from a bad option, but a little too non-slip and blunt-nosed for me to want to buy them in every size.) Any other suggestions?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Christmas socks

You know how some colours just lift you into a better mood, and some yarns, too? Well, hello red sock yarn, which is providing me with just that double whammy.

I finally got to swatch it yesterday and it's just so far beyond heaven, I can't describe it. Or photograph it, apparently, though the two outdoor pictures at the link above do a better job than this:

Perhaps if I say it's like a glistening ruby on velvet? And that you would never, every believe it's got anything other than the softest wool imaginable in it?

To which I say HA! because there's hard-wearing nylon in there, making it absolutely perfect for the guy socks I had in mind.

The catch: there's 383 yards in the skein, perfect for my feet, but possibly limiting in the leg department for his.

The solution: eke it out with some contrasting stripes. It's not like I don't have a ton of sock yarn in the stash now, right? And if I do it right, heh heh heh, I can use some of the leftovers for socks for me.

The wince: I can't photograph it for you guys, and believe me, I've tried, but this yarn. Is gorgeous. And spun differently than anything else I have. Muddying the waters with some other yarn is just... well, I just don't have anything else in the right weight, let alone in the right solid for a guy.

So I went back to the Biscotte et Cie shop and bought the last skein of semisolid Felix, in the Most Gorgeous Blue, which means I'm striping in a super rich blue and equally rich red, which will make for some pretty wild socks, which I think this guy can totally carry off.

I swatched on 2mm needles because the tighter gauge might make them last longer; I am getting 8 stitches to an inch that way. And none of the guy patterns I can find in that gauge lend themselves to stripes, so I'm thinking I might do a nice simple pattern with 7 stitches to an inch and knit a wide rib on the leg and top of the foot to draw it in a bit in case that was a bad idea.

Which would bring me to Kathleen Taylor's Self Striping Socks, from the All New Homespun Handknit. They have the easiest imaginable toe, and the photographs of the orangey yellow yarn she spun for them are... well, more colour upliftingness is always welcome, isn't it.

And now that I've got all that sorted out: what are the odds I'll get them done in time for next Christmas?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Posh shops and posh hats

Yesterday I took the afternoon off to visit some posh shops. To blend in a bit better I wore my lace hat with my long dress coat and, wrapped up like a scarf, the matching shawl.

This opportunity alone justified the outing: I am deeply enthralled by the softness and heat retention of Twisted Fiber Art's Playful yarn, and I've had to give up wearing the combo since the temperatures dropped below 1 degree C. The hat because all those yarn overs let in a lotta wind, and the shawl/scarf because all my other hats clash with it.

So here's the exciting part: I was warm enough.

Okay, so there wasn't any wind to contend with, but still. You can see the possibilities this opens up.

When I got home I set the hat on the counter and had a good look at it, trying to think how I could do it in a non lace stitch:

But what I really saw was this:

And you can guess what I'm going to be resisting this weekend while I sensibly knit some of those socks on the needles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Non-yarn knitting

Last night as I was wrapping up some felted-wool hearts I thought about how I could cut up some other sweaters less well-suited for sewing (some of them just don't felt tight enough) into long strips and then knit with them.

I do have some giant needles, and it might be fun to make, I don't know... a lap blanket? if I had enough to work with. Or a giant tea cosy?

Anyway I was thinking about that and then this morning I read this entry at Tiny Happy, after which the brilliant Margaret Oomen comments that she makes rag balls for knitting productive things out of old cotton sheets.

And now, of course, felted sweaters are just not good enough. My huge stash of gorgeous hand-dyed and hand-spun wools is - okay, it's more than good enough, and it's not like I don't have four pairs of socks on the needles and another to swatch.

Be that as it may, I am sufficiently suggestible to now wish I had some old cotton sheets to tear up. Though really, knitting with old cotton sheets would probably be one of those virtuous activities that feels good mostly because you know you're making something out of nothing, something useful, something kind of organic... and not because it's actually a pleasure to do.

Which makes me think that maybe what I love about knitting is the give and take of wool - the elasticity, the generosity, the partnership I form with the yarn to give it a new home far from the sheep it was raised on.

And thinking all that makes me think I need some more tea, and maybe a nice nap, before I go back to the socks.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Much rejoicing

Christmas 2009 is officially over because

I finished Carol's shawl!!!

Yes, it is true. And this is the only picture you're getting because even though it was super sunny yesterday it was also suuuuuper windy, rendering every other attempt to photograph it a vaguely triangular blur.

Now I am free to indulge myself with some Valentining, such as the little heart sachets I sewed all weekend while the shawl dried on its blocking mats - instructions at the link.

(but you know that what I am thinking while I do all that is how sensible it would be to start making things for next Christmas, so as to avoid the mayhem that was the 2009 and 2008 holiday seasons. Because, as I am sure you have noticed after reading even a little of this blog, I am a Very Sensible Girl.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

A portable knitting pouch

First off, I want to assure you I did work on Carol's shawl again yesterday. Quite a bit really, considering.

But I also sewed a little pouch for a friend who really needed one, inspired in part by my own wish for a pouch I can sling across my body and tuck knitting into.

You know, so I can cart my knitting around in a hands-free manner, and have it right there when I want to sit down with it, and also when I am between stirs of the soup or waiting for the current batch of cookies to finish their turn in the oven, or taking a nice peaceful walk down the street.

My friend's pouch came out pretty well, and seems to fit books and things quite nicely.

Of course, once I'd confirmed that fact I couldn't help testing to see whether it also holds knitting. I tested it with Carol's shawl, and had to pull it up out of the pouch to prove it was even in there.

It worked perfectly. Want to make one too?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Point me to the finish line

I have this crazy idea I can finish Carol's Christmas shawl before next Christmas, which is totally viable if I actually work on it (and not on the blue socks or the sewing projects lurking not quite as close as I'd like to the back of my mind.)

So for the last two days I've been Very Good and Made An Effort and yes, it is getting bigger and the ball of remaining yarn is getting smaller. Look - proof!

Also, proof that we had sun yesterday:

I find it interesting how lace can just look like a big jumble of meh even with the sun shining through it, and then you block it and it's swan time.

I will find that blocking part particularly interesting this time because it means I can go on to something else. Like lots of socks, maybe?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beautifully blue

I cast on the blue socks that Karen is also knitting and ohhhh

I'm not sure whether I love the sock design more or less than

the way the blue merino from Midnight Sheep looks in the vintage red Pyrex bowl, or adorable complementariness of the tiny red bead stitch marker from Pennywenny.

I do know, however, that I am a very happy girl.

(who is still running very late on Carol's shawl.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hearting socks

I've been dreading February, not least because I still haven't finished my Christmas knitting. But there was an upside to February 1st:

Yep, it's another magical skein from the Biscotte et Cie sock club! I love the surprise of getting Vesper Sock Club yarn in the mail every month, but this is a different kind of fabulous: you get all three club skeins in one shipment, and then you have to wait a few weeks before you get to open even the first package to see what's inside. Talk about building excitement... even on Saturday I was thinking, two days to go! Just two small days!

Almost as though it was a good thing I had only two days left before I failed in my mission to finish Carol's Christmas shawl before January was over. (I really did fail, btw - there's another 14 or so hours in it.)

Then, a few hours into the day, you get an e-mail with an exclusive pattern in it. Picture this gorgeous yarn in a sock with hearts worked onto the shin, and more detail on the top of the foot:


But then I snap back to reality and accept that there is no way I can finish Carol's shawl and knit Valentine's socks in less than two weeks.

Still... it's wool with some nylon for reinforcement, exactly what I concluded I'd have to use for the guy-socks I was going to knit for a friend's present for Christmas 2009 if only I had time.

That guy would totally wear this colour, and if it's red enough for Valentine's Day, it's red enough for Christmas, don't you think? Plus if I start now - I might actually be done before December 25th.

I know, I know: famous last words. Still. Wouldn't they be perfect?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Milkshake reversible scarflet - a free pattern

A month or so before Christmas a small friend who sees me knitting all the time asked if I'd make him a white scarf.

Well, the very next day some super soft cream and blue superwash wool arrived in the mail from Midnight Sheep and I thought, Sort of white? You know, the way a blue tint makes grey hair look whiter? So I offered it and he said Perfect!

and I brought out my copy of Reversible Knitting and suggested lace to make the yarn go farther, and he picked a nice manly stitch I quickly figured out was impossible to fix mistakes in so I added a lifeline for ripping back to whenever disaster struck...

... and then it took me about 10 weeks to knit it because evidently I'm not such a great friend to small people with cold necks.

Also, Christmas panic knitting aside, it was around this time that I discovered Studio Ghibli films and it's hard to knit unfamiliar lace while your eyes are riveted to the screen. It's even harder to work on a project you associate with magical storytelling when you run out of magical stories.

I mention this because I swear some of that magic worked its way into the pattern: I can't help noticing that his finished scarf would make an awesome scarflet for a grownup like, say, me.

Yes, I'm that greedy: I'm thinking that when it's officially too small for him, I might be able to snag it back for myself. I do realize that nobody else who has read this far would even consider such a thing but, um, you should. Because you know those kids are going to outgrow your hard work. They just do. And then if they have the least chance they're going to start stealing the socks out of your drawer so you might just as well get your own back now.

Another plus: it really is reversible.

I don't know which side I like better, so I stitched on (purely for experimental purposes of course) two buttons, back to back, so you can button it on with either side showing.

This is something I love about lace in a hefty yarn: every hole is just made for slipping a button through, letting you play with different shapes and folds for hours of non-knitting fun.

About the name: yeah, well. Something about the whole experience of this scarf, the combination of yarn/colour/stitch/movie-watching, makes me think of those huge stainless-steel two-serving monsters that diners serve your vanilla milkshake in. Or, more accurately, the milkshake itself. Decadent, sweet, kinda frothy, entirely satisfying.

Try knitting one yourself and see what I mean!

Download .pdf of Milkshake Reversible Scarflet