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…And one more. Two more. January 24, 2010

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.
1 comment so far

Knitted first and given last, to a friend:

Pattern: Beetle Tracks by Knitting Kninja (aka Jejune, aka Kristin Cardozo)

Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Treasure in “embers” – like knitting with melted butter.  (If butter were also a little bit hairy.)  Didn’t need much – just over 2 balls made a scarf over 5.5 ft long.

[ravlink]

This was a fun pattern, easy to read, easy to memorize, and made a lovely scarf.  The recipient says she’s been wearing it all the time. Here’s me wearing it, with a very odd expression:

And finally, my sister’s Christmas present:

It will look more impressive soon, I promise.

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Third Wave of Holiday Gifts: The Kids! January 18, 2010

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.
2 comments

I am now related to several children, which I find novel and entertaining, our family having been almost 100% adult, or adult/infant, for some time.  Christmas is much more fun when it centers on the under-10 set.

And kids are awesome to knit for.

Pattern: Tiger Hat, by Mary Lou Egan (proceeds from pattern sales support Heifer International – even if tigers don’t, really – and she’s raised about $2,000 so far!)  [ravlink]

Yarn: The perfectly tigerish orange was Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, and the black was Berroco Pure Merino (both superwash, both purchased at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop)

New skillz: Stranded colorwork!  Ok, I have tried it once before, but it’s still new, and I still kind of suck at it.  Fortunately, hats are forgiving and kids don’t care!

As several knitters noted on ravelry, the instructions for the ears are very confusing.  I think I deciphered them, though, by taking some things on faith, and reading between the lines a bit.  Anyhow, cute ears, huh?

That was for Nephew T., 6 years old.  For Nephew D., 4, another cool hat:

Pattern: Brainmonster, by Cyn [ravlink]

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, in stone blue and pearl

Needles: #7

I love this pattern! This is my second, and I’m just going to keep making them.  Here it is blocking, still peacefully kid-free:

And here it is devouring a child!

You can just barely see in this photo that I sewed on buttons for eyes instead of using googly eyes.  They had a radial flower sort of design, which I thought looked kind of monster-creepy, but in a cheerful way.

Finally, for the girl, almost 1-1/2:

Pattern: None. Basically, I had this bear on hand, and I just started knitting.

Yarns: Stashbusting.  Included bits of Knit Picks Comfy, Knit Picks Shine, and Mission Falls Cotton, all machine-washable.

Niece T. will be a Huskies fan.  At least, I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

I hope I get to make a few more outfits for this bear!   (Ok, laugh, but I actually took down her measurements before giving her to T.)

And finally, a pair of post-Christmas tigerrific socks are underway:

(Many thanks to Fernando for providing a suitable backdrop.)

Post-Holiday Reveals, Second Wave January 9, 2010

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.
1 comment so far

Next up…gifts given on Christmas Day (on which day, incidentally, I also flew from North Carolina to Seattle, due to awkward scheduling awkwardly delayed, yet was at my mother’s house in time for lunch) – just the ones for my mom for now.

First, a pillow:

Pattern: Improvisation!  Taking Puff Daddy as a starting point.

Size: 16″ in diameter, fits a round pillow form from Hancock Fabrics (oddly, the only chain store that carried such an item)

Yarn: Knit Picks Twirl [ravlink], in “summer sky” (discontinued).  To match the pillow I gave her summer before last.

Needles: 10.5

Buttons: Mom and I picked them out together at Village Yarn & Tea Shop in Seattle (well, Lake Forest Park)

[Project link on ravelry]

The Puff Daddy pattern is basically just a long garter-stitch rectangle, with the short sides seamed together and the long sides cinched up to form the centers of the puff on each side – but the objective there is a large footstool sort of pillow.  I realized soon that with such bulky yarn, I would end up with way too much fabric for the smallish, flat throw pillow I wanted, so devised a pattern of shortrows:

Basically:

K45 (one row)
K38 w&t
K31 w&t
K24 w&t
K17 w&t
K across all stitches
K45

Ad nauseum, and with modifications on the fly, as you are moved.

Once again, I did math!  Once I had that pattern worked out, I had to figure out how big a pillow I could make with the amount of yarn that I had.  I don’t remember precisely how I calculated it, but if your math proficiency qualifies you to enter high school (which is about all I claim), you can figure it out, too.  The real point here is: I was right! The completed pillow turned out the size I’d intended, and I had just the swatch left over.

And thanks to the Durham String Thing bunch for suggesting lacing as the solution for closing it up!

Here it is in its new home, with its sibling pillow:

I knitted Mom 2 stocking stuffers as well:

Pattern: Mug and French Press Jacket, by mk carroll [ravlink]

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (leftover from Topaz baby dress)

Needles: #6

Buttons: Mom’s stash

[Project link on ravelry]

I love this one, and apparently, so does my mom.  Just followed the pattern, no excitement there, but I did decide to make it adjustable for differently-sized mugs by adding an extra button.

Smocking was fun.  And it wasn’t actually for the Indian pickle, but the Patak’s jar did a good job of blocking it.

Pattern: eLoomanator’s Diagonal Knit Dishcloth [ravlink]

Yarn: CORN!!  That is, Southwest Trading Company’s Amaizing.

Needles: 6ish

I made three of these: one for my mother-in-law in Singapore, one for my mother, and one for me.  Love the pattern, and the yarn was interesting – makes a fine washcloth, but I wouldn’t want to wear it.

More still to come….

Holiday Gift Reveals, First Wave December 28, 2009

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.
2 comments

I knitted a lot for the holidays this year, much more than usual.   But have been keeping it under my hat, of course.  (Or rather, hidden on ravelry.)

Here are three things that went out in the mail before Christmas.

For my advisor:

Yarn: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dyed

Inasmuch as I used any pattern at all, it was Breean Elyse’s Herringbone Neckwarmer [rav link].  I took the stitch pattern and the construction (such as it is) from this pattern, but didn’t bother with any of the numbers.

Outcome: Soft, very very soft.  The colors did pool, but I’m pretending I meant for that to happen.  (It’s a “design feature.”)

I think this is the first thing I’ve knitted for him (though he’s been my advisor for going on a decade now).  I hope he understands that I don’t knit instead of writing.  ‘Cuz I don’t, really I don’t.  Just finished a chapter, in fact!

And for my aunt and uncle in Florida, more variations on my Grandma’s slippers pattern [rav link].

For my uncle:

Yarn: Knit Picks Main Line (leftover from Rusted Root) (I am so sad this yarn is discontinued)

Modifications: Cables, I thought.  Why not cables?  Haven’t tried that yet!

When I got to the end of the garter stitch section, I cast on an additional 8 stitches on the top of the foot as I joined it in the round, then improvised a pretty standard, 6-stitch braided cable with an extra purl stitch on either side, going up the top of the foot as I knitted towards the toe.

I also did a 2 x 2 instead of a 1 x 1 rib, and instead of an eyelet border around the ankle, had enough yarn to knit a 1 x 1 ribbed cuff about 2″ high, which I then folded over and sewed closed around a piece of elastic.

I think they look a bit more masculine this way.  And I want a pair myself.

For my aunt:

I used up a whole lot of miscellaneous bits of yarn, as you can see, all worsted and more or less machine washable, and all very soft (Valley Yarns Goshen, Knit Picks Shine and Comfy, Cascade 220 Superwash).

For these, aside from going stripe-happy (which is not exactly an innovation), I tried something new with the elastic.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the way my Grandma did the cuffs – eyelets threaded with a piece of elastic.  The thick cuff I used above was a success, but in this case, I didn’t have enough yarn for that.  And I also didn’t have the right width of elastic.

So I braided the elastic:

Pretty, comfortable, and functional.  Though I still did a sloppy job of sewing it together.

The truth is, I don’t think my aunt and uncle actually need any more slippers.  At all.  And yet I keep knitting them more.  Next year, I really must try something different.

Meanwhile, I don’t have a pair of these slippers myself!  A pair for me is finally in the works.

On Socks December 5, 2009

Posted by merp in FOs, Knitting.
9 comments

As promised quite some time ago, I bring you sock laments and sock struggles.  But also a little sock-based joy.  Let’s start with some joy:

Provencal Socks [ravlink]

Pattern/Guidelines: Eight Stitches per Inch Socks, from Getting Started Knitting Socks, by Ann Budd, but with a 1+2+3+2 rib, just to spice it up a little. (top down)

Yarn: Knit Picks Felici, in Provence colorway (so soft)

Needles: #3, #2, and #1 dpns.

Time to finish: 10-14 days per sock, one in July and one in October.

Lessons Learned: Switching needles – that is, casting on at the cuff with the largest needles and finishing off the foot with the smallest – is the key to top-down socks for the curvy-footed.  And knitting with striped yarn is fun!

There are an awful lot of committed sock knitters out there – some who knit nothing but.  Socks are small and portable, they say, and knit up quickly.  And of course, the abundance of sock yarns in their fascinating,   luxurious, and referential colorways, and the profusion of clever and intricate sock patterns of every sort imaginable both inspire and feed this love.  They even claim that knitting socks is easy.  Would that it were so.

Initially, I was wooed, but skeptical.  Why would anyone  put their precious handknits on their feet?  And what madness compels a person to knit on size 1 needles?  Eventually,  I saw the benefits, in durability and custom fit – especially if your feet fall between standard sock sizes.

But what if your feet are also, apparently, grossly misshapen?  To be clear, I think my feet are just fine.  They do a good job of keeping me off the ground, and aren’t hideous at all.  It’s just that they are utterly unlike everyone else’s feet, or so I’m led to believe.

It was not until I finally invested in Ann Budd’s book, which provides an extremely helpful illustration of the foot proportions assumed for your typical sock pattern, given in percentages, that I understood the real nature of my sock-knitting woes, and could calculate the cure.  In shoes, I wear a U.S. women’s size 7.5W or an 8M – not that huge, really – but according to Budd’s charts, while the length of my sock should of course correspond to a size 7.5, the width of my instep would be that of a men’s size 13.  And my calf is off the charts, about 130% of a men’s size 13!

No wonder I had problems.

I believe my first attempt at socks were the Frankensocks.  Perhaps I thought these would be easier, with their unconventional construction.  ,The pattern is pretty cool.  But they didn’t come close to fitting, and I took unconventionality to new heights to make these work.  They do fit now, and I wear them as winter boot socks or slippers.  But they are ugly as hell.

Lesson learned: Sock patterns as written will always be too narrow for my feet, so alterations are inevitable.  But it could be worth it.

Attempt #2, On-your-toes-socks by Ann Budd [ravlink], was an anomalous success.  Knitted toe-up, I found I could expand the girth with increases at the ankle, inserting a couple of extra ribs.  At the end of my blog post, I asked “Now, will I find the reality of handwash-only socks so preposterous that I never wear them?”  Answer: No, I do wear them, but….

Lessons learned: Handwash-only socks are preposterous.  Never again.  And I’m not so sure about short-row heels – they leave holes. But toe-up knitting is awesome.

Attempt #3: In a burst of sock confidence, I immediately took on the ever-popular Jaywalkers by Grumperina (top down) [ravlink].

Utter failure.  I experimented with the stitch counts in wild and ill-advised ways to make them fit over my calves, and then they didn’t fit over my calves.

Lessons learned: Non-stretchy sock patterns?  Don’t even think about ’em.  Just turn and walk away.  Just because everyone else loves them only means everyone else has skinny calves.  (Slender.  Of course I meant “slender.”)  Also, top-down socks really are harder if you don’t know how it’s all going to pan out.

Attempt #4: So, OK, I returned to toe-up, but wanted a less holey heel.  Widdershins promised just that [ravlink].  I had learned my lesson about trusting sock patterns, so cast on more stitches than written.  But when I got to the heel, I had a different stitch count from the pattern, and was very, very, mathematically confused (easily done, to be fair).  Frustration, anguish and much internet research eventually got me through that heel, at which point I tried it on and discovered that I had knit it so tightly I couldn’t move my foot.

Lessons learned: A sock must be loose enough for you to comfortably wiggle your toes – you don’t want that much custom fit.  Also, cheap, splitty sock yarns are really irritating to knit.

A sock-free period elapsed, but I couldn’t let it go.  I WILL KNIT A SOCK, I declared on ravelry, picked out the most extravagantly stretchy sock pattern I could find, and cast-on with a solid, trusted name in sock yarns.

Pattern: Gentleman Socks, by Kristi Schueler (top down)

Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100 Bosco

As I recall, I cast on for a men’s large at the cuff and then had to find ways to get the foot down to the width of a women’s large and what probably ended up being the length of a women’s small.  First attempt: humongo  foot.  Put it away for several months.  Frogged the foot.  Fixed it and made a second.  Ran out of yarn (the pattern does warn you that it eats yarn – it does). Improvised.

And voila!  Comfortable, machine-washable socks that fit! They only took me 10 months, completed in February 2009.

Lesson learned: Ok, you’re feet aren’t that big. And, I CAN KNIT SOCKS!

Then, and only then, did I permit myself to use handdyed sock yarn (and even then, sale-priced for clearance):

Mauve Knotty Socks [ravlink]

Pattern: Knotty or Knice Socks, by Chrissy Gardner (toe-up)

Yarn: Knit it Up! Squishy, in mod mauve

Isn’t it lovely?  It fits perfectly, too!  I decided to treat the magical expanding leg issue upfront and dramatically, gradually adding an entire column of cables front and center.  Unfortunately, there’s still only one, finished in June, and that took me three months.   I am very much looking forward to having two.

Lessons learned: Fiddly twisted-stitch patterns take forever.  But they sure are pretty.  Beautiful sock patterns, I am ready for you!

If you have read this far because you, too, have a Sock Problem, fear not and take heart.  Find a tape measure, a good sock book, and a calculator.  Summon patience.  And knit up some customized socks for those nonstandard feet of yours.  Your beautiful, warmed toes will thank you.