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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crocheted Star Flowers Scarf

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I've started the third ball of yarn on this scarf and right now I have 39 star flower motifs. I weave in the ends every 6 or 7 stars just to keep things under control. I'm still loving this project, and honestly, just watching the colors change in the yarn is enough to keep me amused. In the picture above, the lower two rows and the motif on the right end of the third row from the bottom are all from the newest ball of yarn. I try to find a ball of yarn that is at least sort of close colorwise to the ball I just finished - in other words, I try to match the outside edge of the previous star to the center of the next star. It doesn't match perfectly and I still haven't figured out what the color repeat is on this yarn. On the other hand, I don't think I have two motifs that are identical yet either.
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I also got a modeled shot this morning just to prove that this design does well on the more petite set. Barclay was trying to sit in my lap when I took the picture and Finn was sitting just to the left of the frame, supervising the whole thing. You can see though that if you're smaller, you can just pull the whole scarf up on your head and wear it like a hood for extra warmth - just make sure you tuck in your ears!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fetching, Fetched!

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I finished up my Fetching mitts (here's a link to the original pattern) this weekend. This was a test drive of Knit Picks City Tweed yarn (I used the DK weight in Enchanted) and it's not causing me any trouble on the itch factor so far, but I haven't worn them very much yet (it was in the 90's here over the weekend and no one needs mitts when it's that warm).

I did tweak the pattern both to fit my hands and to add a thumb gusset. I also had a completely different gauge happening due to the drop in needle size. I'm not really going to get into what I did because most of the changes I made happened as I was knitting and I didn't really keep good enough notes to blog them. (I knit the second mitt right after the first one so I wouldn't forget between the two.) I was able to get both mitts done on one skein of the yarn though, despite the changes I made.

At this point, I'd feel pretty safe using this yarn for a cardigan and Friday, as I was doing my usual Ravelry wanderings, I found a new group: Cardigan Girls! It's all about cardis and I've added several new ones to my favorites, but there's also a thread about button sources which are always fun to pick out! I'm just a member, not a moderator of the group, and it's just getting started, but it seems to be a friendly place so if you're interested in cardigans, come check it out!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

An Experiment

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Earlier this year Knit Picks came out with their City Tweed line of yarn, in both DK weight and Heavy Worsted (the same weight I usually think of as Aran weight - 18 stitches over 4 inches). I fell in love with the colors, then checked out the fiber content - in the great words of Scooby Doo, "Ruh Roh!" It had acrylic. Upon re-reading the fiber content though (clearly, the colors spoke to me), I realized it said the neps (the little bits of fiber that make the color dots that make a tweed a tweed) were in an acrylic web. That was the only acrylic in the yarn. It seemed to me that the web should theoretically be tucked into the yarn as it's spun and actually only be on the surface of the yarn in tiny, tiny bits. I realized I needed to buy a skein and give it a whirl and see if the small percentage of acrylic would be enough to trigger my allergies.

What you see here is the beginning of my experiment - Fetching mitts made in Knit Picks City Tweed DK (in the Enchanted colorway). I figure if the acrylic doesn't bother me on the inside of my wrists, I'm pretty clear to use this yarn. I don't know if I'd ever trust it enough to use it for a turtleneck, but since I seem to eat, sleep, and breathe cardis, one of those should do just fine assuming my little experiment goes OK. This yarn is extremely soft (high Merino content) and has a bit of shine (alpaca content) and of course the little spots of tweedy color are just fun. I've just started the cuff of my first mitt, but these should work up pretty quickly.

I'm thinking about doing a thumb gusset instead of the thumb called for in the pattern because a gusset follows the actual shape of the hand better, but I haven't gotten to that point in the mitt yet, so I'll make the decision when I do. I've also dropped the needle size down to a US 4 (3.5 mm) which has dropped my gauge down (to I don't really know what - I'm eyeballing things here). The pattern is written to be 7 inches around unstretched. I'm reasonably certain that that size will come flying off my hands during some random, dramatic gesture while I'm talking to someone. It's bad enough to have to listen to my ramblings, you sure don't want to be attacked by knitwear - I'm pretty sure that's NOT how we convince more people that they want to learn to knit.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'm thinking of setting myself up as a zoo. I figure with 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 12 fish that should be good for something - maybe I can sell T-Shirts!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Autumn Leaves Cardigan

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I haven't forgotten that this is supposed to be a knitting blog! I've worked about 5 inches down from the top yoke/sleeve section. Once again, there are increases, decreases and all kinds of things happening to shape this cardi, but as long as I keep to my notes on what to do when, I don't get lost.

Oh, and since it's been so long since I've blogged this project, the pattern is Summer Solstice (as far as I know, only available on Ravelry) and I'm using Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool yarn.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shibori

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I finally got some pictures of Shibori. Cinnamon (the Siamese who posed on Solace as a kitten) is more shy so I haven't gotten any pictures of him yet. Shibori is a Bengal, and as you can see, he really looks too wild to be allowed in the house. He's a social butterfly and loves people, belly rubs, and long walks on the beach. (OK, he's never been on the beach, but he'd probably like it if he saw it.) His eyes didn't photograph well, but they are a true peridot green and look beautiful with his golden coat, which has both stripes and spots.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Star Flowers

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I've finished up the second ball of yarn on my Star Flowers Scarf. I only had about 10 inches of yarn left on this ball, but I did still get 16 stars out the ball of yarn. The first ball of yarn had more left over, but this is probably due to yarn balls being measured by weight, rather than by actual length. At this point, the scarf is about 36 inches long, so I will definitely use at least one more ball of yarn (I purchased 5 balls since I have no idea how to estimate yarn for crochet).

I still don't have pictures of the visiting cats. Ramius visited them yesterday (we are still keeping them separated) and got them all stirred up, to the point of Cinnamon and Shibori getting upset at each other. Mom was able to get them settled down so they are friends again, but Ramius isn't allowed to socialize with the other cats anymore.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Doggie Buddies

I can't get a good picture of the visiting cats yet, but Barclay did pose with Finn for me! Here is a bit of the dog cuteness we have around here!
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Busy, Busy

Just a quick note today - Mom and Dad are here looking for a house! They've got their house in Colorado sold and are planning on moving to this area. There hasn't been too much knitting or fibery stuff going on around here since I've been "helping" look at houses. Finn and Barclay (their little Sheltie) are doing great and Ramius is even OK with Barclay despite his small size. Their two cats, Cinnamon and Shibori aren't really liking Ramius (who charged at Shibori and was quickly separated) and Finn (who thinks the funny hissing and growling noises they make are really interesting and worthy of many tail wags and some fun barking). We're keeping the cats separate for obvious reasons. I'll try to get some pictures of the spare furballs and post them here tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Universally Flattering, One Size Fits All, Crocheted Star Flower Thingy!

I know what you're saying - there's nothing that's universally flattering to every size and shape of person and One Size Fits All? No such thing. Doesn't happen, no way, no how.

But now, for the first time ever, there is a universally flattering, one size fits all garment - the Crocheted Star Flower Thingy!
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It's the perfect After-Walkies-Wrap for snuggling in while you rest your tired paws!
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It's also perfect for walking away in when you realize once and for all that your human is out of her mind and while the dog might be dumb enough to wear things she's made, you have better things to do - like wash your tummy again.

See? It's perfect for any occasion! At the moment, it's got 27 star flower thingys and it's about 36 inches or so long by about 9 inches wide (haven't actually measured it, just a guesstimate). For those of you who might care, I'm still on the second ball of yarn.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Long, Lost Cherry Blossom Shawl

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It's not really lost, it stares at me sadly every time I walk past it and pick up something else to knit. I've been working on it a little bit every few days and I've now completed 5 repeats of this last section. I have to do a total of 12 repeats before I add the border, so at this point I'm almost halfway there. The pattern is so easy, I briefly considered taking it with me to knit in public (the usual role my socks play), but then I got a grip on myself and thought about the logistics (and the logic) of knitting laceweight mohair and silk in pale pink that blows around like spiderwebs in public, in waiting rooms and in places of unknown cleanliness (or at least places that might be dangerous for pale pink mohair and silk) and decided to keep plugging away at it here at home. I really needed the needles to begin some Christmas knitting (going to go stealth on the blog, but it will be added to my Ravelry project page), but I decided to order more needles instead. This poor Cherry Blossom Shawl will eventually get done, it just might take a few more weeks to get there.

(Just a note, this is no reflection on the pattern or design. I love the design, I love the way it's looking, and the knitting couldn't be easier. I'm now working on two stealth Christmas knitting projects though and the Cherry Blossom Shawl is jockeying for my time with the Autumn Leaves Cardi. On the other hand, I have the next lace project already picked out as soon as I finish the Cherry Blossom Shawl, so maybe that will help motivate me.)

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Two Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed...

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I finished up the Monkey socks last night! I am happy with the way they look even though the stitch pattern wasn't one of my favorites to knit. Here are all the details: 5 Rounds of K2, P2 ribbing (too lazy to double check actual Monkey edging when I cast on), 7 repeats of Monkey Stitch pattern, stockinette stitch foot. Knit on US 1's (2.25 mm) using Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in Grimm's Willow Wren colorway.

I'm not going to be casting on for another pair of socks immediately, I've got to get some other projects finished and work on some Christmas gifts for a bit. Don't worry, I still have plenty of things to work on that are bloggable!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

More little flower stars

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I've gotten 6 more of the little flower star motifs crocheted (but I haven't woven in the ends yet). I've now started my second ball of yarn. I was able to get 16 motifs out of the first ball of yarn. The first time I blogged this project, I gave links to the throw that got me started thinking about crochet, and one of the commenters mentioned that she had also loved the throw (the post in question was from last Tuesday I believe - I'm feeling link lazy today - that post also included the pattern source and yarn I'm using), but didn't crochet. Well, I hate to be an enabler (OK, not really) but this project is the extent of my crochet. I did one tiny motif once just to see if I could do it, but I sat down for this not really knowing what I was doing. I had the motif book sitting on one side of me, the beginning crochet book sitting on the other side of me, and Ramius in my lap for emotional support. I just went step by step and followed the directions and this is what I have so far.

So, long story short, if you really love the throw (like I do) and you can't really crochet (which despite the evidence you see above you, is my personal state) there's still no reason you can't make yourself a throw. I must admit though, using a yarn that does the color shifts for you is sure saving me a lot of ends to weave in. Also, having a cat for emotional support is always helpful.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Carla B. from Montana! Thanks to everyone who entered and gave me the name of your favorite sock. Just in case you were curious, the most popular sock pattern in this highly unscientific survey is one of the most basic - the Yarn Harlot's plain vanilla sock recipe (which I am unfortunately having no luck locating a link for). The most popular design of the more complex types of sock is Cookie A's Twisted Flower socks. I've knit these and they're lovely.

Thanks for all the complements on my pattern and getting into the book. It was great hearing from some lurkers on the blog too!

Be back tomorrow with something wooly.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

A Long Story, A Brief History Lesson, And A Surprise

A little less than 18 months ago, I received an email from Lark Books. They were putting together a sock pattern book and they were issuing a call for entries of sock designs. The book's title wasn't decided yet, but they wanted to make the sock book different from all the previous sock knitting books by somehow tying it in with sex (in a completely tasteful and playful way they assured us). I was thrilled at the chance to design for a book - a real book, with pages and pictures and something that would be sold at book stores, but on the other hand, I went around and around for days trying to figure out the socks and sex angle. If I did this, was I possibly going to be part of the first X rated sock knitting book? Was this going to be something I could show my son? My Mother? Finally, I sat down and decided that while the socks and sex angle for a knitting book was surprising, I knew Lark Books was a respected publisher of craft books, and when you get right down to it, how naughty can you really make an entire sock book? I mean they were looking at around 30 patterns for this book. 30 sock patterns can take up some serious page space and that doesn't leave much room for smut. Also, there were the assurances that this would be tastefully done - more of a glimpse of stocking and a giggle than say, full, frontal nudity.

So I decided to go for it. I had to figure out a design for the book and (at least in my own mind) I have a particular design style. This was a style that didn't really lend itself to a sock design called Thundering Loins of Love. I had to find a way to design a sock for this book while staying true to what I feel is the Pink Lemon style. Then it hit me. The themes for the first three Mystery Stoles that I designed were all based on mythical/fictional women. What if I chose a naughty woman - either fictional or real - to base the socks on for this book?

I dove into Google, read more Wikipedia than I care to remember, found some websites that probably shouldn't be out there at all and finally found my muse, my inspiration, my naughty sock girl. Lillie Langtry.

Lillie Langtry was born in 1853 on the island of Jersey (British Jersey, not New Jersey - just to clarify). Her nickname was The Jersey Lily. She married, but soon after began a career of infidelity that cut across the upper crust of British society to the very highest levels. She was even, for a few years, mistress to the married Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and future King Edward VII, himself. She became an actress in 1881 (scandalous in it's own right at the time, particularly for a woman of her "station."). In 1897 she became an American citizen and divorced her husband. She continued acting and collecting admirers in America, including Judge Roy Bean, Justice of the Peace of Val Verde County, Texas and the self proclaimed "Law West of the Pecos." He even named the saloon where he held his court proceedings, The Jersey Lily. She died in Monaco in 1929.

Once I had my theme and inspiration, I set about designing and knitting a sock. Pictures of the finished sock were sent to Lark Books for them to pick the designs for the new book. Several weeks later, I got an email that my design had been accepted! I quickly finished up the pattern, knit the second sock and sent everything off to Lark along with the request that if possible, I'd like my design to be both charted and written out in text format (see, I listen to you!)

All of this had happened over a year ago. There were a few emails clarifying the pattern instructions and I gave them our new address here in Texas. Then, earlier this Spring, I got the socks back. We had been told that the new book would be out in the Fall of 2009. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a package arrived on my doorstep. When I opened it, I found this:
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The new book! The Joy of Sox! It's lovely and tasteful and the photography is excellent and the models are all clothed and the socks are fabulous. They were able to print the stitch patterns for my design in both charted form and written out form (there are some other designs the same way, but some designs are only one format or the other). They also changed the name of the design to Chick Flick. Honestly, it took me a while to find my design because of the name change, but after seeing the book in it's finished, complete form, I can see that The Jersey Lily wouldn't have really fit the rest of the book and it would have needed an explanation as to who the Jersey Lily was and Chick Flick just works better in the context of the book. Want to see my socks? Here they are.
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Finally, I have a little surprise for all of you. I have a copy of the book to give away. The contest is now closed but I'll announce the winner on Monday and email them privately, but even if you don't win, Amazon is now taking preorders for The Joy Of Sox.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Autumn Leaves Cardi gets a body

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I've sewn the sleeves up on the Autumn Leaves Cardi (pattern is Summer Solstice) and have picked up stitches around the lower edge of the yoke to knit down for the body. I've only worked about 1 or 2 inches on the body of the cardi so far. This section seems to be similar to the yoke section in that the actual knitting couldn't be easier, but you have to pay attention to increases and decreases and what to do on what rows. When I pick up the cardi again to knit, I'm going to have to spend some time making notes to keep myself straight as to what's going on. I think an adventurous beginner could probably make this as long they can do math and are obsessive enough to keep notes. While the knitting is easy, it's not a portable project, and I can't watch TV with it if I haven't made notes for what to do on what rows.

For instance, right now there's one thing you do every 4th row, another thing you do every 8th row (along with the 4th row thing) and still another thing you do every 12th row (again, along with the 4th row thing). But when I get to the 24th row, the 8th row and 12th row things will collide and I'll have to do everything on that row. See? Lots of notes, made while I was uninterrupted are the key to successfully knitting this cardi. On the other hand, all these increases and decreases are the details that will make the cardi fit the way it' supposed to, rather than being a shapeless blob. (Shapeless blob = bad, just in case we've never discussed this before.) Once I get fully caffeinated, I'm off to make these notes. I better do them while the house is fairly quiet.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Monkey Two

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Once again, I'm sock knitting in the school pick up line so I'm starting the foot of my second Monkey sock. I'm glad to get to the foot because I'm doing the feet in Stockinette Stitch rather than the Monkey stitch pattern.

(Opinion time.) I know that Monkeys are a VERY popular sock pattern and lots of people have knit more than one. I'm personally not feeling the love with the Monkey design. There's nothing wrong with the design, it's not difficult, it's working in this multicolored sock yarn with no problems, I'm just not enjoying knitting it. I seriously considered frogging the entire first sock and reknitting it with another pattern just so I wouldn't have to knit a second Monkey sock. I decided against it so I could say I've knit a full pair of Monkeys, not for a knitting trophy (which I'm sure is going to be delivered any day now), but so I wouldn't wonder later why I hadn't finished my Monkeys and decide to knit another pair due to my short memory. For those of you that love Monkeys, knit them to your heart's content. For myself, this will be the only pair of Monkeys I knit and I can't wait to finish them.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This is not knitting

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember this throw that I found last Fall right after we found out we were moving. (It was the Spice Multi colorway that really grabbed me.) I tried to ignore it. I kept thinking about the throw. I tried to sleep it off. I kept thinking about the throw. I moved for Heaven's sake! The throw stuck in my head anyway. So I picked up a couple of crochet books and piddled around with it some.

While I haven't really done much with the throw (or the making of my own throw), it's still stirring around in my head. Periodically I wander through the crochet section of Ravelry. At some point, I found this project. It's a scarf (not a throw), but it's made in Noro's Silk Garden sock yarn. I love the way the colors shift on each motif and there would only be two ends on each motif to deal with later because of the way the yarn does the color work for you. I realized that I could get a similar yarn, pick a motif and do a similar project in a large scarf/small wrap size. This way I could get a feel for crochet on an actual project before committing myself to a large throw.

Here's what I have so far:
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This is Jojoland Melody Superwash (from The Loopy Ewe) in colorway MS26. It's a fingering weight yarn. I'm using a C hook (2.75mm) and I'm using Motif #49 from Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. Like the Noro, the Jojoland shifts slowly from one color to the next along it's length. Unlike the Noro (which is a single), the Jojoland is a three ply and the colors shift within the plies. I've done 12 little star flower shapes so far and I don't have any that are identical. It's fascinating to watch the colors change ever so subtly and despite the fact that the colors are all over the spectrum in this yarn, because they blend so slowly, all the little shapes work together. It's totally reminding me of the Autumn leaves we had up in Virginia every Fall. I'm really enjoying working on it and the crochet is using my hand muscles differently than knitting does, which is always a good thing. Since I knit Continental style, I find that my left hand does more when I knit, but when I crochet (and I'm not saying I'm an expert or even that I'm doing it right, but I'm getting little star things which resemble the motif in the book pretty closely, so I must be doing OK) I find that my right hand does most of the work.

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