Thursday, February 28, 2013

Running in ends on Dapper handknit socks

At last, I have finished those Dapper stripey socks I showed you:

But man, was that a lot of ends to run in!

this is the price of changing colours for the cuffs and heels and toes, which I really think looks fantastic but is only just worth the extra effort because I don't love running in ends.

I'm not even sure I'm good at it, though I know this angled approach that Trish taught me does hide the tail end effectively.

I just wish it hid it as well on the wrong side, because I am still thinking socks would look fabulous worn purl side out.  But maybe that's just too much to ask of stripes?  It would probably be fine with a solid colour.

Or not.  Can you see where I've run in ends to the same shade of stitches?  I can.

Anyway, they're done:

And so cute:

And now I want to knit more socks.  Will this obsession never end?

(hopefully not as long as I like to wear them, right?)

Yarn details
Twisted Fiber Art, 'Dapper' colourway, on Duchess base yarn
Brown is the 'Suede' coordinate
Blue is the 'Denim' coordinate

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thrummed mittens, remembered

The other day I was moving some things from one catch-all basket to another and found my handknit-by-somebody-else thrummed mittens.

How could I have forgotten these things?? I bought them specifically to keep my hands warm this winter (and boy has it been cold) and also to remind me of the cottage (and boy have I been missing the cottage.)

All I can think of is that I got distracted by all the twined mitts and wore them instead.

Meanwhile, I went ahead with those magical knits and then suffered over not having matching (or at least, non-clashing) mitts.

Honestly.  I really have to get more organized.  Or maybe this is just a sign that I'm not only knitting too much but also thinking about knits too much, since I can't remember what I've got.

At least we're all reunited now, and there are still a few weeks left of snow and cold. 

um, Yay?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A great purse for knitting transportation

There's been a long hunt going on around here for a Good Purse, aka one which will hold my knitting as well as all those other things you throw into a purse, and leave me hands-free for knitting and walking at the same time.  Sometimes cross-body messenger bags or purses are too small for even a little bag of yarn, or they're big enough but weigh a ton, or have several other problems too annoying to list here.

And I don't have to list them because I have finally found my dream purse:

It's from Hedgren, and it's called Orva.  I found it in a local department store's luggage department but I've seen the line in lots of other luggage stores too, if you're interested in having one yourself.

I've been using it for a few weeks now and after some initial indecision about what to keep where, it's proving to be not only a great bag when I'm out, but a great organizer when I'm home.  Those three front pockets?  They're stacked like a desk organizer, and I treat them accordingly.  One for keys, one for phone and notebook, etc.  I never, ever look for my keys anymore because I know exactly where they are.

The pockets work so well because they're stitched onto the front of the bag instead of layered inside, and they've been allocated some depth of their own rather than just borrowing from the diameter of the panel fabric. 

The main section only has one zip pocket, so you're not crowded at the entrance by a lot of other pouches and things that make whatever fell to the bottom impossible to find (I'm looking at you, former purse.)

Also, the top of the zip pocket is close enough to the top of the bag that it's never blocked by whatever else you threw in there.

Like, you know, knitting.

I use the biggest of the front pockets as my tool catch-all.

My everyday tools include subway tokens in an old camera film canister (what a sad day it will be when we no longer find those in junk drawers, ready for repurposing) and of course a tape measure, as well as a pen for noting pattern adjustments.  I can see stuffing a spare circular needle into a pen holder though, or a big crochet hook.

Best of all: this bag is not only water-resistant, it's lightweight.  My last bag, which I tolerated for its light weight of 310g, was smaller and very mean about accommodating anything more than a sock on 5" needles; this baby will hold a ton and weighs 301g.

Well, maybe that's not really best of all... 'best' is probably that not looking for a great knitting bag any more means I have more time to knit!

Hope you get time to knit today, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes, it's gotta be Noro

It's hard to be near a knitting store that sells Noro yarns and not buy any, especially if you have some air travel coming up.

Noro comes in a lot of different weights and fiber combinations but all those variations have one thing in common: they shift from one unexpected colour to another in ways that are drop dead gorgeous.  And really, who doesn't need that on a long flight?  Either you're bored and the colour changes keep your day interesting, or you're terrified and the colour changes keep you happy.

Also there are lots of different colour possibilities.  I liked these two.  (so much, obviously, that I had to cast something on straightaway.)  It's Noro Silk Garden, about 100m in 50g of silk, mohair, and wool.  I find it a little more next-to-skin friendly than the 100% wool options.

This is another cowl project but it's based on a different approach than my Triple Lane Travel Cowl.  That one takes a few hours to knit and uses grabby yarn so you can get it safely off the needles if you're changing planes and you think the next lot of security people will find said needles uncomfortable and take them away.  This one takes less hours so you can easily finish it in the time it takes to cross the Atlantic and have it off the needles by the time you reach the other end.

I'm not sure I love the way my stitches are working together, but I have an idea for a second try and in the meantime I am enjoying the chance to use one of my favourite stitch markers again.

Isn't it cute?  It was made for me by a friend from Knitting and Tea and Cookies a while back, when we did a Swap - how she pulled this off I do not know, but it's a perfect ring of beads with no bits of thread sticking out.  Ideal for big needles like the 6mm babies I am using to get a whole cowl out of just one ball of yarn for more compact packing.

Of course, after I decided on 6mm, I realized I bought bamboo circulars up to 4.5mm and no bigger, so I went back to the Addi Needle Shop and bought another one to be all set for travel knitting.  That shop really is a great resource and it's free shipping everywhere all the time, with no minimum purchase.  I call that awesome.

Okay, off I go for another exciting day of adventures.  Hope yours is good and I'll see you tomorrow!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Knitting in film: The Man Who Knew Too Much

The other night I was watching the 1934 version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.

If you're not familiar with it, this is the original one, made when Hitchcock still lived and worked in England; the Doris Day/Jimmy Stewart version that put Que Sera Sera on the map was a (very fine) remake. 

The original movie is very, very good - very tight plotting, great camera effects, all that stuff you want to see.  But of course, being me, I could not get past the hat and mitts - seriously, they were that jumpy-outy - on the English couple's little girl. 

(in the remake, it's an American couple with a little boy and instead of vacationing in a snowy resort, they are someplace very hot. same story though.)

I missed a lot of plot points because I was trying to figure out whether her elaborate mitten cuffs were in fact cuffs that fold over the sleeve of her coat, or very large wrist warmers, but eventually they all went inside and I was able to focus on the friendship between the essentially adorable couple and a gentleman they had met on their holiday.  The wife and the gentleman were pretending to flirt, and the husband was pretending to be terribly hurt by it all, and then - as the wife and gentleman danced in the dining room - he asked his daughter...

"Is that mummy's knitting?  Chuck it over."

Alfred Hitchcock, you old dog.  The husband not only takes the knitting off its needles, he actually winds the loose end around the button on the back of the gentleman's jacket just before he and his wife dance away, with hilarious results.

A few seconds later though you're reminded that this is an Alfred Hitchcock movie after all.  Bump.

If you want to check it out, I would love to hear what you think about those mittens at the start.  The dancefloor shenanigans start at about the 7 minute mark, and they're all over by 8:45 minutes in.

I do love when knitting turns up in film, don't you?  Like when Nora Charles is knitting at the end of another Thin Man movie, and Nick finally notices and asks her, Aren't those slippers a little small because they would just fit a baby, and she doesn't say a word.  Heh heh heh.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Too much matchy: stripey socks and watches

I stopped wearing a watch about a year ago, in part because the band on my most recent watch got really murky-looking and couldn't be cleaned or changed, and in part because I didn't like the way it made a lump in the cuff of my handknit mittens.  I know, I know.  Priorities!

To tell the time, I've been compulsively pulling out my cell phone, but when I go on this vacation thing that's coming up, I'm probably not taking the phone.  So recently I went out shopping for a new watch that would be flat on my wrist because I had this crazy idea to bring fingerless gloves along (if I ever finish knitting them.)
Hello, Swatch.  The 'skin' line is so thin, it's like wearing a quarter that weighs a lot less than a quarter should. In fact these things are so light you don't know you have anything on at all if you don't glance down at it. 

So: I did buy that black-banded watch up there (with shopping points!) and I do love it but... oh dear, it's just so very utilitarian looking.  It's true that my approach to fashion these days is Everything Black, so as to showcase Super Stripey Handknit Socks, but... erm, did I say 'utilitarian'?

And also, it's easy to swap out Swatch bands.  Much, much easier than it is to have said Swatch bands shipped to Canada because for some reason the US site doesn't do that little thing.  So about a week after discovering that I found myself entirely by accident (ahem) at the local Swatch kiosk and

Yippeeee! they had in stock the stripey band I'd fallen for online!

It is awesome.  It matches so many of my newest socks.  And it was super easy to put on, with the assistance of a 2.0mm double pointed knitting needle to get the post started, and a pretty leaf-topped pin to get it going the rest of the way out.

Yep, awesome.


If only the stripey watch band didn't look so wrong, on.  I don't know whether it's the Zing next to the Solid of the watch face, or the thought of the Zing distracting from the Zing of my socks, but... oh dear.

I had to go back because I like this better.
(but not quite as much as I do the second watch to which I succumbed while I was buying the strap.  am I this bad with yarn, too?)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When bad things happen to good socks

I've been knitting socks for about four years now, and I have quite a few pairs, and nothing at all bad has happened to any of them in my care.

Until Now.

Sock Incident #1

Remember my Fire Monkeys?  I made them just about exactly three years ago.

Well, look at them now...

... isn't it awful?  Not quite a hole, but definitely one thin thread away from it.  It's not surprising in a way because I've worn these socks more than any other pair.  I wash them by hand, they dry on a rack, I take them back upstairs and back on they go, to repeat the process as quickly as possible - I even reach for them in the summer, if I need to wear socks for some reason.

Still: gah! After three years, you get to thinking that socks are immortal (as opposed to just not mortal.)  I have to decide whether to snip open the toe and reknit it, or just darn the weak spot.  I think there's less choice than I'd like, because they've been slowly felting inside my shoes and boots which will make picking up live stitches a bit of an ordeal, but I'm still hesitating after a week or two of knowing I have to do something, so there must be some appeal to the snipping option.

Sock Incident #2

This one is much worse.  Normally my socks end up in my room waiting to get back into the closet at the end of a journey back from a very warm room in the basement, but the other day this lovely alpapca pair


made it back after a ride in the laundry basket.

Odd, I thought, as they fell out with all the other machine-washed and dried clothes.

Oh Nooooooo! I thought, as I realized they had accidentally gone through both the washer and dryer.

They still fit.

They just don't look exactly the same as they did before... or feel it, frankly.

Now my question is, what's up for #3?  Or can I just hope that the two halves of this pair constitute the second and third things that fulfill the 'comes in threes' syndrome?

While I wait to find out, I will wish you a very fine day with no sock tragedies in it! Take care, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quick, let's look at some yarn

I am in dire need of yarn therapy after a long holiday weekend.  There is just so much wrong with that statement, don't you think?

Unlike other people featured in magazines and ads, instead of relaxing I always seem to spend the bonus time on some unglamourous decluttering or renovation project, and this weekend's was especially grueling.

(I cleared out and consolidated the dining room hutch and the office hutch, both of which have served primarily as catchalls for the past five years. It took two days.  The third day, I had to do all the other boring house-y stuff that didn't get done because I was doing that.)

There was almost no knitting at all.


So let's look at some yarn!

These are my circus socks from Twisted Fiber Art (Le Cirque, on Playful base yarn), now proceeding nicely since I decided on the right(ish) needles. 

You may notice that I'm using very long double points for these - 7" if I recall - in spite of having purchased 5" ones in this needle size.  That's because the 5" needles are all tied up with the Dapper socks, and apparently I have no patience.

I remember being really annoyed by these 7" needles and buying the 5" needles specifically to put them to rest.  Now that I don't technically need to use them though, I am loving them: the ends rest on the heel of my palm as I work, and they feel sort of elegant, the way fine silverware feels in your hand at a fancy dinner party.  I'm finding the whole knitting process quite peaceful.

Also I love how the stripes are spacing themselves out over the length of the sock, in spite of having used contrast colour for the heel.  Sometimes that throws off the sequence, but not this time:

If the stripes on the second sock come close to matching, these are going to look incredible on.

A third love: the way the purl side is looking.

I am really starting to wonder about socks worn with the purl side out. 

If I could figure out how to run in the ends neatly enough, and I was sure the socks wouldn't wear out faster (the loop side might be more vulnerable, do you think?) I would totally wear socks this way. 

I just think the blurring effect, on top of this gradual colour change, is fantastic.

Wouldn't it be nice if I got to work more on these today?  Wouldn't it be nice if you got to work on something yummy today too?  Let's hope for the best and I'll see you here tomorrow!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Triple Lane Travel Cowl, a free pattern

And here it is, my belated 2013 Valentine to you:

It's a compact, practical travel companion for compulsive knitters, masquerading as a cowl.

I had a long wish list when I designed this one.

No marker (less to lose)

Short, blunt circular needle (ditto: plus, less scary-looking than double pointed needles for air travel)

Mindless (the better to enjoy the scenery)

Textured (so as not to be too mindless)

Easy to pull off the needles (in case the needles prove too scary-looking after all) and

Easy to put back onto replacement needles later.

Tall order?

Well, yes.  It's not 100% easy to put live stitches knit through the back loop onto needles.  But it's quite logical: just remember that the left leg of such a stitch sits a little forward of the right, unlike a regular knit stitch where both legs meet squarely in the middle.

To minimize the risk of stitches laddering down if they do have to come off the needles, I chose a non-superwash wool from Rowan.  It's got some grab, and the stitches are more likely to hold while gently stored, and it's not nearly as itchy as you might think for next-to-neck wear.

Bonus Features

It's unisex.

It's reversible.

It's fast enough to finish very early in a trip, so you can wear it when you arrive.

You can stuff it with a scarf or a little cardigan and use it as a travel pillow.

Or you can give it to one of your traveling companions for a souvenir s/he will never throw out.

More Info

I really, really wanted to squeeze a cowl out of one 50g ball of yarn, and I did.  Just.  I am specifying two balls for the pattern because another knitter with another tension might run out just before the cast off, which would be super disappointing.

I'm also giving stitch counts for two larger sizes because the Small, at 17" wide, doesn't leave much drape for an adult.  It works, but I think I would break this one down to be Small for a child or youth, Medium for a woman, and Large for a man.

Triple Lane Travel Cowl

Rowan Pure Wool DK (100% wool, 136 yards, 50g), 2 (2, 2) balls
4.0mm 16” circular or double point needles, or size to obtain gauge
stitch marker (optional)
darning needle

21 sts, 32 rows = 4” in stocking stitch, after blocking

Finished Dimensions
S (M, L): 17 (18, 19)” circumference; 7.5” long.

Level of Difficulty
Easy: stitches include knit, purl, and ktbl (knit through back loop).  Worked in the round.

Click here for .pdf of Triple Lane Travel Cowl

Friday, February 15, 2013

Knitting some very dapper socks

One of the reasons I didn't get your Valentine's present ready on time is this:

I've just been completely sideswiped by the love of knitting socks in Twisted Fiber Art's Duchess yarn.  Even inside out: they are gorgeous!

I really love the way stripes blur more on the purl side, don't you?

I've knit socks in Duchess before, for me, and as I type this I'm wearing a pair: they are soft and squishy and (in my house) just the right weight for sleeping in or lounging with a good book or - oh, let's face it, knitting and a movie.

This colourway is 'Dapper', for which I fell hard a long time ago and then had to wait to buy because it wasn't in production for a while after that.  It comes with two semisolid matches - light brown or denim blue.  Of course I loved both and bought both, and when I finally got to knitting with it I had to use both.

This is where the real Valentine's problem happened, casting on the second pair with blue trim.  If I hadn't done that... but I couldn't help myself.

I even love the bag I had free when I started knitting:

It's a tiny happy bag, of course, vintage linen lined with vintage cotton, with a tag on the side I use for parking safety pins (or, as I think of them, row markers.)

You've seen this bag before I'm sure but isn't it nice how every knitting project picks up different colours from the embroidery?  Or maybe all you can see is the red, which apparently is tops with my camera.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend with knitting in it you enjoy as much as I'm enjoying my dapper socks!  Take care, and I'll see you Monday.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you're having a lovely day so far (or, if you're reading this after the fact, that it was a good one.)

I got a little crafty for mine.

I put together some treats in little bags, and tied them up with ribbon.  SO much fun having seasonal ribbon for this job.  Or in fact any ribbon I didn't have to go hunting all over the house for.  Now I have to find a place to store the leftovers, but it's a small price to pay.

It occurred to me last week that there is something else I have been doing every Valentine's Day that has become, for me, a tradition I want to keep up.  And that is:

posting a free pattern here at Hugs - my Valentine to you!

Unfortunately part of this tradition is remembering late that I want to do it, and then scurrying around to make it happen.  This year, I remembered too late even for that.  So instead of a pattern today, you're getting this:

Pictures of the sample for the pattern I'll be posting as a late Valentine sometime next week.  It's a cowl.

I designed it to be knit-able without a marker, even though it's seamless.

The idea is for it to be knit on autopilot... on a plane (geddit?)... but of course you can just knit it anywhere. 

Once I get the pattern written up. (oh, that.)

Meanwhile: thank you for reading Hugs as often as you do, and happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Travel knitting: tools and packing aids

With a holiday by air coming up soon, I've been sinking a lot of time into hunting up various travel aids to make knitting en route both practical and possible.

First up: knitting bag.  You know I love my tinyhappy bags, but they're all lined vintage fabric, which means both weight and bulk, as well as 'can't replace if lost.'  So, this is what is coming with me on the trip:
It's a RuMe baggie, made of fabric that weighs pretty much nothing and closed with a nylon zip whose teeth are so snuggly I can't imagine ever getting my working yarn caught in them.  At time of writing, and at the link given, they cost $4.95 and come in a variety of colours and prints.  Who could ask for more?

Plus, once you stuff yarn in there, the baggies work as a pillow... or potentially even something to clutch in a moment of turbulence-related panic.  Gotta love the multitaskability.

(are these hints about what I'm knitting with the green wool tormenting you at all? no?  h'mmmm.)

I should mention that these bags are also food safe and can be washed in the dishwasher like a plate.  So: useful for trail mix too, especially if you get the 'pocket' size.

I'm bringing one of these too, but it's going to be my toiletry bag.  They're also perfect for knitting tools, or a pencilcase - bright enough to be easy to find in a bigger purse.  And honestly: who among us can resist that owl embellishment?  Not I.

Next challenge: knitting tools.  I've decided to risk bringing (and losing) a circular needle with me but I don't want to bring metal just in case that comes off looking too threatening, thereby upping the likelihood of the 'losing' option.  Instead, I thought I'd go with bamboo.

These are Addi Naturas, from the Addi Needle Shop, which stocks them in every imaginable size and cord length.  If their points turn out to look a little sharper than is likely to go over well at Security, I can always sand them a bit, right?

Just in case sanding doesn't do the job and the circular needles are taken away from me, I will be packing a peaceful-looking crochet hook or two:

This hook is also Addi Natura, and again from the Addi Needle Shop (so loving that store.)  The yarn I pack will work with either tool, as long as it isn't taken away, which it won't be because I won't cast on till after I'm through security.

Now for a carry-on-able bag to put it all in... Probably that bag will be my new knitting bag/purse (more on that another day, because it is working out too well for me not to tel you about it), but I may also opt for this much larger RuMe:

Yes, my personal RuMe All is this very same zippy, zingy purple, and yes, I am going to be slinging it over my bright red coat.  And I will be happy to do that because this bag, which zips shut and which can hold up to 50 lbs worth of anything I can fit in there, weighs just three ounces.

Wonder if I can find a full-size suitcase that weighs that?