Monday, November 28, 2016


I think these are my best socks yet. Practice does indeed make perfect! In the continued spirit of our handmade holiday this year with his family, Dave asked me if I could make his dad a pair of wool socks. Sooooo, this pair is destined for my father-in-law's feet. Convenient since Dave's feet were a perfect stand-in model to make sure they would fit right.

As you'd expect, each sock solidifies the general construction principles in my head a little more. Eventually I'll be able to work less off of a pattern as I turn the heel, but for now I remain glued to the line by line instructions to tell me how to work that magic. The toe decreases I've got down. That's progress, at least. 

This yarn, Swan's Island Merino, is what I would imagine butter would feel like in yarn form. I don't know of a better way to describe it than that, but suffice to say it's fun to work with. The kicker is that this color, dyed with indigo, rubbed off on my hands and made it look like I contracted a weird knitting related illness. This phenomenon, upon Google searching, is called "crocking" and totally normal with a pigment like indigo. Apparently if I wash these guys in water until they stop bleeding then they won't rub off on Steve's feet. Hmmmm...... ;) 

Pattern: Petty Harbor (free on Ravelry; link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Swan's Island Natural Colors Merino in "Teal"
Needle: US 1 1/2 DPNs

Saturday, September 17, 2016

labor day weekend

I had an extremely productive Labor Day weekend! In addition to all the lovely knitted things, I managed to get a good chunk of work done on my Indie quilt and even photograph the finished top.

I took advantage of the legislative session finally being over on September 1 to finish work at a reasonable hour and sew in the evening sunshine. Our home is oriented so the late afternoon sun shines into the office and dapples the room with sunshine spots that the kitties love to chase. In addition to the furry company, I also like the way my sewing area is actually lit up so I can see! It's not nearly as nice to sew in the evenings as it is during these few sunwashed hours. I suppose sewing in the sun is my equivalent to kittens sleeping in it. It's pretty relaxing. 

The remainder of the blocks came together quickly and with perfect points on nearly all of them. I'm still amazed at how complicated they look but how easy they are to make. Then I spent a bunch of time trimming to size. In the past this hasn't been my favorite step because it was so cumbersome to flip and snip. Mom got me a big square ruler on her last visit - game changer!

It's all finished and ready for backing now -- just look how it sparkles. I'd make this pattern again; in fact I have lots of fabric leftover to make another with these colors.

Friday, September 9, 2016

skipping stones

In a frenzy of finishing Labor Day weekend, these mitts made it to the finish line. I wanted to clear some end weaving off my plate before I moved on to my next pair of gift socks, and I decided to include these in the mix. Recall that the knitting itself took only a week or so and then I put them aside because I had to figure out how to attach the straps and find buttons. 

For future reference, here's what I did and I think it ended up working out really well. I used a length of yarn and, holding the strap in place where I wanted to tack it down, started a few stitches to the right as if I were weaving in ends. When I got to the strap I included the edge in my weaving, and then kept on going a few stitches after. This way there isn't a noticeable set of whip stitches or wonkiness showing on the front and I think it should be pretty secure. As to where to position the strap, I just picked a random spot I thought would work and tried to match it as best I could on the second one.

I totally lucked out on these buttons. They were in my miscellaneous grab bag buttons from Britex Fabrics - the purchase that keeps on giving - and they are awesome. I took another length of yarn and stitched these down ending with a simple square knot on the back, the snipped ends of which you can see above.

It's getting a little bit chillier here, at least at night in that still so mild Bay Area way, so I'll be sporting these lovelies around town with my Kelpie scarf soon.

Pattern: Rye (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in 'Big Sur' and 'El Greco' (leftovers from last year's Kelpie)
Needles: US 2 1/2 and US 4

Thursday, September 8, 2016

a little bit of glitz

The end of this project snuck up on me. It's been great TV knitting since the pattern is so easy to remember. It's a simple cowl so there's not much to say about the making, though if I could change one thing it would be to make that bind off tighter so the ribbing on the left in the photo below doesn't flare out so much. I'm sure it won't be noticeable when worn. 

This was yarn I bought the day I flew back home from vacation in Kentucky so I'd have something to work on during the flight. It was a bargain bin find at the back of the store and I have to say, it's great yarn. The purple is a regal shade and the sparkly nylon strung through it varies from gold to copper and back. It's tres glitzy. 

The texture from the Andalusian stitch is enough to keep it interesting without competing with the rather busy yarn. It's fluffy and soft, and since it's acrylic I bet I can wear it without getting itchy! There may be a small headband in the future from the leftovers... 

Pattern: Andalusian Garnet Cowl (free on Ravelry, here's my page)
Yarn: Premier Yarns Isaac Mizrahi Craft University in 'Fordham'
Needles: US 10 (I didn't bother changing for the ribbing -- 10 was the only size I had at the time)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

somewhat dutch

The colorway for this Regia is 'orchard' which I suppose I could see with the colors of apples, oranges, sky, and clouds (perhaps?). When I look at these finished socks though, I just think of Amsterdam when we were there during Queen's Day 2011. Now King's Day with the new monarch, the holiday is celebrated with a riot of bright orange everywhere.

That said, this yarn is very clever. All that complicated looking design work is a result of the way the yarn is dyed along its length. They are 'made' to be for socks, so I'm sure it looks best worked up as a small tube though I'd be curious to see how it turns out with other patterns. Each knitter will have a slightly different gauge and socks are a range of circumferences depending on the wearer, but within error the patterns still shine through with only a little bit of muddiness.

By sheer accident these socks ended up looking very similar in pattern from top to bottom. You may notice the mismatch at the toes, showing that I had a yard or so difference in the 'start' position between the two, but not much. The other difference is the heels. I wasn't going to try to match them so just knit from wherever I broke my yarn. This was an afterthought heel, meaning while knitting merrily along a growing tube of fabric, you get to the part where the heel goes and use waste yarn on half of the stitches so you can come back later, rip those out, and put the heel in. 

The afterthought heel was super easy compared to remembering how to make a more traditional heel flap and picking up stitches to turn the heel etc. I'm sure that gets easier with practice since I've only done it once, but after one go-round of this version I could make a sock this way from memory. 

I'm pleased with this, my second pair of knitted socks and I've got a few more pairs to join this one for holiday gifting. I'll be trying some different patterns for those next few pairs, though I'm sure I'll return to this one as I continue exploring this new genre of knitting. 

Pattern: Afterthought Heel Socks (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Schachenmayr Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in 'Orchard'
Needles: US size 1 DPNs (2.25 mm)

Monday, September 5, 2016

stash supplements

Isn't this a pretty rainbow? Dave and I went on a shopping spree at Uncommon Threads in August... *most* of these are bound for holiday gift knitting for his family. Those deep dark blue hanks at the end are not :). I think I need one more to have enough for the ginormous folk shawl I have in mind, so hopefully at some point I can hunt some down online. 

After being on a yarn diet for the first half of this year and working from stash (for the most part - go me!) I've somehow found myself with quite a few newcomers since summer began in addition to the 'practical' purchases above. Basically I've been the beneficiary of a bevy of thoughtful people who know what keeps me out of trouble.

The two balls at top left my mom bought me on a trip back home in June when she and I went in search of a local yarn store for her to frequent. We found a great one where we certainly did not leave empty handed. I'm sure we will return! The gorgeous alpaca collection at top right are an extremely thoughtful gift from friends who came to stay with us in May. They went to Peru on vacation this year and bought this local yarn. I'm still amazed they would think to do so. The two pictures on the bottom Dave bought  me at the King's Mountain Art Fair this weekend. The red and gray will be a Stanford-spirit scarf for him and the purple lace-weight is, I suppose, payment for the scarf. :)

I actually did make quite a dent in my unknit stash this year. I still have leftovers from many of the skeins, but also ended up using up a few other leftovers along the way. With this latest infusion it looks like I have a lot of stitches in my future!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

indie irony

Many moons ago I bought myself a 1 yard set of all the Art Gallery Indie fabrics. I loved them when I first saw them on Maureen Cracknell's blog in an amazing quilt she designed, and wanted to make a big quilt of my own. I've been hoarding them like Gollum ever since. I'm sure every quilter has those fabrics, the ones kept tucked away for a special selfish project. 'My Precious' anyone? 

It took me a while, but I settled on a quilt design that I thought would suit all of these prints pretty well, the challenge being that there are a lot of great small scale mixers but also some really stunning larger scale prints. I don't recall how I stumbled on this pattern (who am I kidding, probably Pinterest) but it is called Anita's Arrowhead. It took me another while to sit down with my Kona color card and order some coordinating solids, and then yet another while (do we see a pattern?) to start the darn thing. I began, as is prudent, with a test block, which looks awesome.

My test block has multiplied into about half of the blocks I'll need. Chain piecing through all the steps in batches has really helped the blocks come together quickly. My least favorite part of this whole process has been the cutting (not surprising), but this is constructed in a clever way so as to minimize the slicing and dicing. It was kind of mind blowing when I put together that first block. I recommend this pattern because, well, look what you wind up with.

Here's the kicker -- this quilt isn't for me! Despite my initial intentions, I'm using the first cuts from these lovely fabrics to make a wedding gift. I think sometimes subscribing to the principle of gifting something you would want to receive yourself is a really good way to go, this being one of those cases. I was looking at my stash trying to come up with a quilt I wanted to make when I consulted my notes and realized I already had one planned. I thought it was for me, but the universe had something else in mind. And I'm really excited about it!

I've spent the last couple of evenings chained to my sewing machine whipping through some more blocks because the date is fast approaching and somehow August got entirely away from me. Just a couple more batches to go and it will be time to square up and trim. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

it took long enough

The fingerless gloves in the photos below have been in my Ravelry queue for QUITE a while. I think I've run through about 5 different 'plans' to make them during that time, each with different leftover yarn. Well. This May I finally got my act together and cast on. 

Having finished up one small project from my leftovers, I started this one that same day. I'm pretty sure we were watching Midsomer Murders the day the picture above was taken - easy pattern to follow. The leftovers I chose were from Kelpie, a Pendulum shawl I finished last summer. I still like this combination of Big Sur and El Greco, so I stuck with it. 

I knew I wouldn't have enough of the gray to get very far, so I weighed the skein and started the wrist and button straps with that color. As I went I weighed very few rows to make sure I was leaving myself enough wiggle room to have about the same length of gray on the second glove. These worked up very quickly, taking only about a week of occasional knitting. I just haven't 'finished' them yet by sewing on the buttons and straps. The whole thing is stockinette in the round - a simple thing that I think showcases the variations in this lovely turquoise very nicely. The hardest part, as always for me, was closing up the hole at the thumb after that was done. Even the ribbing on the tiny needles was ok! 

Eventually I'll get those buttons sewn on. The instructions weren't super clear about how or where to sew the straps on, so that's the hold up. I haven't sat down to think about it yet. No rush though, since it won't get 'cold' here for a while yet. It is the height of summer, after all.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

something for the road

This lovely skein of yarn, and a friend, hopped into my things just hours before hopping on the plane to return home from our Kentucky vacation. We were driving around town with Dave's folks after brunch (at a wonderful restaurant - Butchertown Grocery) and it occurred to me that since I had finished my Summer Sampler I would have no knitting for the plane. The horror! Truth be told, I don't always work on the things I take with me, especially on a red eye when I'd rather be trying to sleep, but it's a comfort to know I'll have the stitches to distract me if the ride gets long. 

Being a busy yarn I found a simple pattern to go with it. This is going to be a small cowl with ribbing on either side and a sort of waffle stitch body. Stockinette in the round with the occasional 1x1 rib row - easy peasy. 

Given that I found this yarn in the discount bin at the back of the Joann's I'm super tickled that I like it so much. It's soft and the gold/copper nylon thread that runs through it is looking so neat. This project is my new TV knitting I think!

Monday, July 11, 2016

appalachian knitting

Dave and I went on vacation to Kentucky last week. Not wanting to take along my increasingly heavy blanket in progress but also not wanting to have idle hands in the anticipated stretches of relaxation time (what a waste!), I started something new and colorful the week before we left. I began with a sort of blob of yarn like this:

And after a week ended up with this:

Not bad! Granted, it's currently a little lumpy because I haven't blocked it yet but still - finished! In a week and a half! I found the pattern by perusing Ravelry for a few days before our trip. I knew I wanted to take along my colorful experimental acrylic Mom got me last fall, but hadn't yet decided on a pattern. I have a harder time pairing variegated yarns with patterns so these lovely colors had been sitting in my stash waiting patiently for their turn. Searching for patterns other folks had made with this line of yarn (Red Heart Unforgettable) in the amount I had (2 skeins) turned up the Stitch Sampler Shawl.

It is essentially a rectangular wrap that has stripes of different stitch patterns. From the pictures I could see that this pattern is ideal for variegated yarns of all types. The section shown above is a double moss stitch (ish) that mixes the colors up in a way that makes them sparkle. It's my favorite part of the piece. Even though I don't like actually knitting long rows of k1, p1, it was totally worth it.

There are also sections of these neat loopy stitches that are made from dropping multiple yarn-overs. The effect is somewhat like hairpin lace crochet. Having never tried that before I can't say which is easier to do. These were the fiddliest rows in the whole thing to knit, though. They look a little floppy but I think they'll look nicer when everything is blocked out. 

It was quite a nice vacation, with most of the knitting time spent on a camp chair in the middle of the Appalachian mountains out of range of both internet and phone, truly unplugged. Downpours, bug spray, shitzus, canoes, banjos, and dulcimers all went into the making of this, jumbled and juxtaposed into the week much like the stitches themselves.

Friday, June 24, 2016

fog rolling in

I spent a lot of time in Chicago last week working on this Tree of Life blanket, aka Forest Fog. I'm amazed at how quickly it eats up yarn! While there I finished working on most of this flower garden section and used up a full 200-yard skein in a few days. Oh worsted yarn, how wonderful you are. Fingering weight yarn might be nice for many things, but there's no substitute for the self-provided pat on the back that goes along with 'wow! finished another one!' I was a little over ambitious and packed TWO extra skeins of yarn, but still. If i wasn't trying to be responsible with taking care of my hands I may have made it to that back up skein. I think if I were working on a longer cable it would be less straining, but for some reason after a few rows (granted they are LONG rows, with a lot of purling) I start to get tired.

I'm probably about halfway through the main body. I have two more tree panels and another half a flower garden to do before picking up for the ruffled edging. It will be slower going in the next part. The flowers are pretty easy to knit without referencing the pattern once the first set up row is done. All those little cable branches for the trees take a bit more attention, though. At any rate, happy to be working on this project again and making some progress. I'll probably start one other thing just so I have two options to choose from when I want to knit something in the evenings. Spoiler: it's gonna be colorful! Totally different from all this lovely foggy gray. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

sky blue sky

I have been challenging myself to work on a some smaller projects with leftovers from my stash and enjoying the process of perusing Ravelry for things to work on. The filters are so useful when I have a certain yarn in mind with a limited amount of yardage. It's easy to find a slew of potential patterns that I know will be appropriate based on weight or even the exact yarn.

I started this hat at the airport when we went on our weekend jaunt to Las Vegas last month. I didn't get very far on that trip, but made a lot of good progress after coming back and finished it up before the end of May. I wet blocked it over a dinner plate. Yes, seriously. It was the perfect size. That opened the lace up a lot making it look less like a lump of blue yarn and much more like a beret. Magic. The band isn't super tight, but I don't think that's what you'd want in a hat like this anyway.

It may seem strange to be working on a winter accessory with summer approaching, but again - working from leftovers. This yarn is a silk/wool blend leftover from a cowl I made for one of my friends a few years ago. In retrospect, it's kind of an odd color to use for a leafy/floral pattern since there isn't much that is naturally this color in the world of plants, but the yarn itself jives with the pattern very nicely.

The pattern was a freebie on Ravelry, and quite a nice one at that! I enjoyed making it and loved the fact that I had a big round of double pointed needles I was working from rather than a circular. The work in progress kind of looked like a porcupine. I didn't make it for anyone in particular, so it's going to go in an aspirational pile of grab-n-go gifts. I don't think that diminishes it's specialness in any way for the eventual recipient, because of course I'd only gift it to someone that I thought it was a good fit for (literally and figuratively).

I don't tend to think about making hats or gloves or, in fact, anything small when there are so many pretty shawls and wraps to work on, but I must say actually finishing in less than two weeks is a nice change of pace!

Pattern: Springtime in Philadelphia (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Silk in 'cerulean'
Needles: US 2 and US 0 (tiny!!)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mother's Day

As Mother's Day rolled around last month I pondered and considered and decided that part of my gift this year would be handmade. Dave and I happened upon a neat street market in San Francisco one weekend while we visited friends and I picked up a pretty necklace from one of the vendors there. What better wrapping to give it than a fun zippered pouch? Having made one recently it only took me a couple hours one afternoon to fiddle around in the office and wind up with a colorful package to gift. 

The blue linen and navy polka dots are some of my favorite fabrics in the stash. They go with just about everything and are pretty classic. The flower print I've had from way back when, but haven't found a great quilt to use it in. The trouble with some prints is if you start making patchwork pieces with them each piece will have very different character depending on what colors and what pattern you capture with your cut. This kind of project is a great place to use something like this that I really like but can't imagine liking cut up much. 

The flowers are great, too, because I miss gardening with my mom. I remember springs and summers spent with my fingers in the dirt planting geraniums and petunias (which would then be subject to munching squirrels and bunnies). I have some pots on the patio here, but it isn't quite the same. 

I used another one of my flea market zippers, the last coral one. I'm getting pretty good at dealing with these! Time to purchase another grab bag full, methinks. I'm a little bit irritated that my sewing machine chose to start skipping stitches while I was sewing the super noticeable red top stitching. It might be time for an appointment with the tune up folks, if I can find some nearby.

Similar to last time, I followed the tutorial loosely, not including any "inner bits" and using steam-a-seam and some muslin on the panels instead of the interfacing called for. Macgyver sewing room, folks! I use what I've got. 

Since  we saw my folks in Las Vegas the week after Mother's Day, I waited until I could gift it in person. So much more fun than sending a box! Boxes are great too, but you miss the smiles :) 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

knitting anywhere

This is approximately how much knitting one can get done on a plane from San Francisco to Las Vegas. It's a short flight, and there was not nearly enough room between me and the seat in front of me to wrangle this many needles and that iPad!

There was plenty of room for me and Kepler (and eventually Newton) to hang out in bed one recent weekend to catch up on our zzzz's and knit some more. That pretty yarn bowl is courtesy of Dave's mom. 

Not only pretty, but also convenient bedside knitting storage.

Knitting goes anywhere with you, a few rows here a few rows there. Most projects end up feeling a bit like a travel journal, which is a unique way to be reminded of remember-whens. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016


I finished this cowl not long after I wrote about it last and had the light to snap a couple pictures just today. The coral color reminds me of some of my favorite tulips I saw in the Keukenhof, so the moniker Tulip has stuck. 

I've mentioned this before, but I really like the yarn. It is buttery soft and squishy with some real weight to it. It also drapes beautifully. I could definitely see this yarn working up into a nice spring/summer garment, or any of the shawls I like to work on so much. The colors are so pretty and have some nice subtle tonal variation. I may have found a favorite gray! The cotton/silk blend was an experiment to see if I liked working with and wearing something I'm less sensitive to than wool. Thumbs up! I don't think it will work for every project since it doesn't hold much 'structure' but I'll be happy to work with it some more. 

The pattern was a fun one with not only stripes of color but also stripes of differing patterns that kept me wanting to knit until each next section. I think my favorite bit is that lace panel in gray, small but mighty. In the end the whole thing is rather like a colorful chimney. I'm looking forward to wearing it some time soon. I think it will look rather nice against navy.

I have to give credit to Dave for picking out the yarn, the colors, and the pattern. We were wandering around a new yarn shop and this was one of the samples. It was worked up in super soft cashmere yarn in similar colors - the gray and green were darker and the coral was more of a pink. At any rate, we both really liked it and Dave helped me pick out the yarn as I wandered around the shop wondering what I wanted to make with other things. "You really like that. So you should make that" Makes so much sense, doesn't it? 

Pattern: Three Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Tonos Pima Silk in Coral Beach, Shell Beach, and Limon
Needles: US Size 4