Friday, September 26, 2008

Sock Saga

Even though I'm more or less retired from my profession, I decided to cram in a bunch of classes so that I could keep my certification. Two long days of workshops, which would result in 15 credits. I dug out my nice pants and a little jacket and decided to treat myself to a ball of "real" sock yarn from my old stash (which I"m not delving into this year), packed up my #1 dpns, styled my hair, and had Ricardo take me to the downtown Hyatt, where the classes were being offered.

So, I'm sitting there, with my quality yarn, settling in for a long day of sock-ing. I finished the ribbing (something I never enjoy), and got into the body of the sock. The yarn was one of those patterned types, with many colors, patterns and stripes that emerge. Thus, I had decided just to knit straight, with no lacy stuff. I was sitting off to the side, listening with half an ear, when three little stitches slipped off the end of one of the back needles. No biggie. This happens all the time. But then I tried to pick up the stitches. The yarn began to split. I tried again, rubbing it with my finger to make it a little more cohesive. It got worse. In fact, I've never seen yarn like this. It more or less exploded under my finger, into a fuzzy ball. I made a little grunt, causing people to look over at me. I tried to cram the little loops back onto the needle, but they were about four times larger than the other loops. I knit around, thinking they could be knitted up and settle themselves down. They didn't. Instead, the spot with the three stitches was stretched out, and very thin. As I knit on, it looked like a big hole in the sock. I decided to rip it back. When I did, that section of the yarn was very thin, so I cut out about six inches, and knotted it. Then I realized the colorway would be off. And trying to thread the loops back on the needle would be a problem. A BIG, fuzzy problem. So I gave up.

There I was, with two days looming, and nothing to knit. Ricardo was meeting me for lunch at the hotel, but I knew he'd never find another small project to bring along (not to mention the right size needles). So I told him to bring me a ball of white fingering weight baby yarn I'd put aside on the dresser, not knowing exactly what I was going to do with it.

I was in sock mode, and had the right needles, so I decided to make some thin trouser socks to wear with my loafers. But, I didn't want to make them so plain, and really didn't have the time or place to work out an interesting pattern. I improvised a little eyelet design--only one row in four was a pattern row--with a diagonal line cutting through it. It's pulling a little to the right, but maybe it'll straighten out when it's on a foot. Just turned the heel.

I don't know if I'll ever try to use the rest of the sock yarn. I think it's possessed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Six Months Over--And I'm Buried in Fiber

A week ago I came to the six month mark on my yarn budget (I also have not bought an item of clothing in the past six months, or any new books or DVDs, but that's another blog). The verdict--I have too much yarn, yet again. In fact, I've never had such a huge stash. You'd think this would be freeing, that I would be able to experiment and goof around with the stuff and not worry I'd ruin anything. But instead, I worry that if I use up something, later I'll find that it's just the color I need in some other project. I do this even though I have enough yarn and enough projects written out to take me well into the next year. The huge bag of baby yarns was definitely a mistake, and has been stashed in a closet. I've made a number of hats from this, but it really doesn't interest me very much, especially the pompador stuff with the sparkly bits. If I'd known how much yarn was floating around out there, I would have saved my $2.50 or whatever.

This week I finished another little purse with the thread, and also the boot socks, which I'm wearing on my cold feet right now! Since I've never used a sock pattern, I'm trying to read through some other patterns to see how detailed they are. There seems to be so much to explain. I guess I should just assume people know how to make socks, or how to find out the basics somewhere else. Right now I have two pairs of my grandmother's slipper socks and two pairs of my own socks to somehow pattern up for you.

On our trip around the state I was given several afghan hooks and two very old books on afghan stitches by a relative who found them in a pile of junk and knew I was interested in such things. I loved reading about the history of this technique, especially how it is often called "railroad crochet" in some parts of the world, after the women who worked on the railroad and often used this technique in their needlework and passed it on to the other workers. Very cool story. Unfortunately, I've spent all week playing around with the stitches and hooks, and am doing a very sorry job of making anything nice. I finally learned how to avoid the curling problems, but now get holes in my work, and often pick up the wrong strand of yarn. It's very frustrating, as I'd already charted out a good paisley design I wanted to embroider on the finished fabric.
I think I'll play around with it a little more before I give up, but it's certainly not as easy as it looks.
The sleeves on my boy's ski sweater are taking some time, as I ran out of red and am trying to substitute something. I think I'll just put a solid brown band on the bottom of each sleeve, and then color the ribbing.
Another grandson's birthday is in two weeks, and I'm making up a hat with a skull pattern on it.
Thus ends the project notes for the week. I hope you all have a good weekend with your families. Hugs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Project: Knit Coffee Cozy--Box-O-Yarn stash

I'm such a copycat. It seems like everyone is making covers for take-out coffee, so I had to try one of my own. Mine is ribbed 2x2 and has a flat panel in the middle with JOE on the front and three hearts on the back, with little rolled edges. Kinda cute, although my friend said, "Who's Joe?" I said, "Coffee. You know, a cuppa Joe?" She said, "Really?" I guess it's an age thing.

I'd post the pattern, but I don't know how one puts up a chart for stranded knitting. If anyone can talk me through it, or wants the pattern, let me know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This Week OTN, and Progress Notes

I've been gone for a week and wanted to post some knitting news, but so much has happened in the past few days, with terrible storms and now the economic meltdown, that I just want to express my sympathy first for all those who have lost their homes or their savings, their jobs, or anything else. I sure hope everyone out there is doing okay today.

My maternal grandparents, shown on the right in the 1940s, were born in the 1880s, so it's quite remarkable that four of their daughters are still living. They are all around 90 now, and still living independently, all but one widowed. Ricardo also has a mother and an aunt living on their own. So last week we hit the road and visited two of our family elders, went to a number of buffet restaurants, looked at a lot of family needlework, moved some junk out of some basements, and listened to a lot of stories. I acquired a bunch of afghan hooks, so now I'm eager to try some Tunisian crochet. It's good to be home, though, and back to computer access and my own bed.

That's my grandma Meesa in the picture. I learned to knit from her, and still use most of her basic patterns when I make things. She died at 97, still knitting almost daily.


I started a pair of hiking socks on my trip. Here's one, and the other is still on the needles. When I put the pattern up in a few days I hope to have a picture where you can actually see the pattern. It's scattered knots, making a diamond pattern. Very fun and satisfying to knit. I used DK weight wool-blend yarn from my cone, and #3 needles. I'm making them for myself, as I only have one heavy pair of socks to wear with my boots. Heavy socks are fun to knit, as they go quickly.


One of my coin purses was featured on Lime and Violet's Daily Chum and also at the Daily DYI site. I feel like a real designer.

Hugs to everyone!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Pattern: Guy's Knit Washcloth

I tried many, many times to take a good picture of this cloth, but I just couldn't get a good shot of the texture pattern. I wanted to make a cloth for a young male relative's first apartment, and it turned out well. It's a diagonal check pattern, completely reversible, with no border and a slip-stitch edge. Fun to do, with a loop for hanging, since it's my experience that guy's don't know how to drape.

I used Sugar 'n Cream--about 1.5 oz.

Pattern: Guy's Washcloth

Materials: Size 7 straight needles, worsted weight cotton, size G crochet hook for loop.

Slip all st as if to purl.
CO 37 st for smaller cloth, 42 for larger cloth.

Row !: Sl 1, *P1, K4* repeat to last st. K 1.
Row 2: Sl 1, *P3, K2* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 3: Sl 1, *P3, K2* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 4: Sl 1, *P1, K4* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 5: Sl 1, *K1, P4* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 6: Sl 1, *K3, P2* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 7: Sl1, *K3, P2* repeat to last st. K1.
Row 8: Sl 1, *K1, P4* repeat to last st. K1.

Rep these 8 rows 7 times for small cloth, 8 times for larger cloth.

BO, leaving long tail. Insert crochet hook into loop, ch 12, secure to first stitch.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

OTN and Hooks This Week--And More

I told people not to give me yarn this year for my birthday, because I'm so into this project and didn't want to be drawn away from my little world of scraps and leftovers. I did receive some good knitting stuff, though. I got both Fall issues of KnitSimple and Vogue Knitting--and both are great this year. On the way home from my daughter's we stopped at a diner for coffee and we sat in a booth and spent a long time looking through the magazines. VK had a very nice article on Jess and Casey of (the knitting universe sure lucked out when those two came on the scene). VK also has a wonderful section on Canadian knitters and designers, and a super pattern for a hooded cabled sweater-jacket I'm dying to make, plus some cool mittens. And KS features plus-size patterns this month, and a lot of bags and other accessories.

The internet sure has changed needlework and crafts. Needlework magazines now feature lots of articles about knitters, the community, the environment, etc. We have a real community now thanks to all the blogs and websites that get so much information out there. And we have all these personalities, too. It's so much fun to go into the bookstore and see people we know, on the shelves, such as Stephanie McPhee, the Stitch and Bitch and Mason-Dixon ladies, to name just a few. I sure wish this had all been around years ago, when I was younger. It's so much fun.
Off topic: Speaking of age, though, I get steamed with all the jokes about McCain's age. I'm a big Obama supporter, but it irritates me when people think being older is a liability. I'd like to think I've picked up a few pearls (and purls!) of wisdom over the years. Something has to compensate for all the aches and pains.

I hope you all had a great weekend. Hugs and best wishes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How Could I Resist? Rummage Sale Yarn

The box contains 35 completed granny squares. 13 unused skeins of yarn. And a crochet hook. Here's a woman who woke up one day and said, "There's no way I"m gonna make another 40 squares." The yarn is one that must have been discontinued years ago. It's Bernat Knitting Worsted, 65% wool, 35% nylon. I paid .75.
Unfortunately, there's no way I'm gonna make another 40 granny squares, either. But the yarn is worth it. It's machine washable, mainly wool, and all the colors are complimentary--two browns, yellow, rust, orange, and burgundy.
Maybe I can make a tote or something with the squares. If anyone has any good ideas, I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Pattern: Metallic Coin Purse in Crochet Thread

This is the cousin to the coin purse I did a few weeks ago, although this one only has one flower, instead of the 100+ required for the other. It's a one or two evening project.
Materials: Metallic Knit Cro-Sheen. I used the entire 100 yard ball for this purse. If you want to add a flap and button instead of a zipper, you'll need another ball.
Steel crochet hook, size 3.
4" zipper, or velcro strip.
Sewing needle and thread.
Bottom: Ch 39. Sc in each ch loop to end (38 st), do not turn. Work 3 st. in starting ch and work up the other side of starting chain. Work 3 sc st in top of ch. (44 sc st.). Join with sl stitch at end of round.
Round 2: Sc in back loop of each stitch.
Body of Bag: Work sc in each st until bag is 3" high. If bag curls, dampen and stretch with your fingers inside bag and let dry.
Flower ("double rose") Ch 7, join with sl st to form a ring
Round 1: Work 12 sc in ring, join with sl st.
Round 2: Ch 6 *skip 1 sc, 1 dc in next st, ch 3* repeat 4 times more, sl st in 3rd st of ch-6.
Round 3: Working in each ch-3 space, make 1 sc, 2 dc, 2 tr, 2 dc, 1 sc, in each space.
Round 4: Ch 7, *1 dc around bar of next "spoke" dc two rows below, ch 5* repeat four times, ending with sl st in 2nd ch of ch-7.
Round 5: Working in each ch-5 space, work 1 sc, 3 dc, 2 tr, 3 dc, 1 sc in each space.
To Finish Purse: Position flower on purse with one petal pointing straight up. Sew around entire edge of outside petals with needle and thread, leaving innner flower free. Sew zipper to inner sides of top opening, tucking any extra down side of purse. I used nylon filament thread.
Optional tiny flower zipper pull: Ch 5, join with sl st to form ring. Ch 4, sl st in ring, repeat five times to make six little loops. Ch for 1.5 in. Knot or sew end of ch to zipper head.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Progress Notes: Boy's Wool Ski Sweater

Wow. I was sorting my brown yarns for the afghan, and noticed the woolmark on this humungous skein of brown worsted (6 oz.!). I have no idea what bag this yarn rode in on. It's ancient, and I must have just assumed it was acrylic.

Sooooo, I gathered all the wool bits I had and decided it would be enough to make a ski sweater for one of the kids. No stranded knitting here, though. I had to use a slip stitch pattern to make the brown stretch. It was that or stripes. And I did use some yellow Woolease. But, it's quite nice, isn't it?

No, it won't be machine washable. And, it's for a six year old. Not the most practical, I know. I'd better put a label in it that says, "Don't machine wash" or something similar. I'm hoping the colorful fabric won't show dirt and stains too much. I think this is one sweater that grandma will be taking home to launder.

The front and back are done. Now--for the sleeves and neckband. I'm writing down the pattern this time, as I go along, having learned the hard way that my old brain just doesn't remember what I did if I wait too long. This will be my first sweater pattern. Yay.

Monday, September 1, 2008

SWAP!! and Progress Notes

One of my wonderful readers (and, now, a friend), Barbara, offered me a swap. She had some Bernat Bulky yarn she wanted to get out of her stash, and I have a LOT of knitting books, so we exchanged boxes last week. As it turned out, we were both having birthdays. I really had no idea how much of this yarn she actually had, but when Ricardo opened the box, he said, "You'd better send her another book."
Her box contained 19 skeins of yarn, plus two adorable dishcloths and an UFO she had started with the yarn. There are 10 skeins of taupe, and several of black, white, and variegated. I feel guilty, as I really came out ahead of this deal.
I also donated some knitted items to a charity last week, and the woman there asked me if I was a knitter. She then asked me to haul away a small bag of yarns stored in their garage, left over from a prayer shawl project they had done. Really, I tried to discourage her--I told her she could make smaller items with these odd balls--but she wasn't interested. No one had to twist my arm, as you can imagine. The best thing was several partial skeins of Patons Lacette, which will make good trim, and some slubby eyelash stuff, which will go into purses somehow.
Finally, some variety! I was getting sorely tired of my huge stash of worsted weight and thread. Yes, there are many projects planned with ALL my yarn, but I've been dying to pick out a pattern and just MAKE something easy, without a lot of experimentation. And I wanted something for trims and embellishments.

Mostly, I am getting tired of PINK. From my shopping around for used yarns, I've found that in these parts, the most popular yarn is pink acrylic worsted weight. All kinds of pink--baby yarns in mainly pink, worsted in shell pink, hot pink, salmon pink, rose pink, dusty pink, heather pink, pink pink--pink, pink and more pink. And I have a cone of a nice wool blend, sportweight--in pink. And I have four big balls of thread--in pink. Sheesh. Who would have thought? Curiously, I have almost no black and little red. (I don't think I ever bought pink yarn in my life.)
I'm making an afghan using all the blues and browns, which is really coming along nicely, although the thought of sewing it all together is somewhat daunting. And soon I will be posting a slipper sock pattern (in pink!), and another purse.

So, a big thank you to Barbara. I hope you like the knitting books. My oldest grandson--he of the skateboards, bandanas, and shirts with skulls everywhere (ICK)--has asked me to make him some kind of poncho/serape thingy, although his mother keeps saying, "Don't make him that." LOL I told her, hey, it worked for Clint Eastwood. I think he's gonna find one of those under the Christmas tree this year--something bulky in black and taupe. I'm also making balaclava helmets for the men for when the snow flies again. Wish they wore more pink.
I'm a book person, and people have been giving them to me as gifts for years. I still have some really great stuff up for grabs. A Louisa Harding book, a Debbie Bliss Kids, some large-size pattern books, and lots and lots of knt and crochet toy patterns. I need some cotton. Just, please, no pink.
Hugs to all.