Monday, August 31, 2009

A couple of nice sites to visit

And neither of them has anything to do with knitting.

I'm afraid that if you asked me about craft blogs/sites beyond knitting I wouldn't know a thing. Fortunately, sister Ann is familiar with lots of fun and interesting places, and recently she sent me a link to a lovely illustration by Marilyn Scott-Waters, which led me to her website,, which is filled with wonderful paper designs you can print out and use - cards, toys, paper dolls, gift bags, an advent calendar..... I'm still exploring all the options. I printed out some charming bookmarks (then realized they would be even nicer if I would get some lightweight card stock and replace the fading color cartridge on the printer).

Click picture to make bigger

Lots of potential for creative play for children of any age, and her pages are sprinkled through with lovely quotations. This site makes me feel happy.

So does Bill Hess's journal. He is a wonderful photographer, who blogs about his family and what he sees on his walks and bike rides, all in a low key fashion. He has a wry sense of humor. Somehow, reading his posts generally gives me a sense of peace.

Oh, I Forgot to Mention...

(waves to commenters - love you all)

I left out a few details about the new sock book.

It is currently available through Leisure Arts and on Amazon.

It's a collection of designs, rather than a "how to knit socks" book, though it does contain tips on sizing and yarn selection, and basic instructions for knitting techniques used. My aim was to provide a sort of "sampler" of different styles of socks, using different pattern techniques - so there are examples with color work (both stranded and slip stitch), lace, cables and slip stitch texture. Most of the designs are for adult socks, but there are also: a pair of legwarmers, some slippers, some baby socks and two Christmas Stockings.

I've started getting individual items into the Ravelry pattern database. Only two are there at the moment, but eventually a pattern search for "Leisure Arts #4784" will bring them all up.

All of the patterns are written to be worked from the top down.

Here's a picture of one of the Christmas Stockings. It's one of my favorites, and because it's a 64 st sock, I may just try one (or actually two) in sock weight yarn to wear instead of hanging by the mantle.

copyright Leisure Arts

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Print

Last fall and winter, I knits of lot of socks - some big and some small, some in pairs and some singles, some in color patterns and some in textures. I wrote up directions and some general tips and pointers, and packed everything up and put it in the mail.

Late on Friday, another box arrived on the doorstep, with this inside

A real, honest to goodness book.

By upbringing, I'm a Minnesota/Norwegian girl, which means that I'm usually embarrassed by being the center of attention. Which means that I'm not at all good at what is generally known as "shameless self promotion". But I'll admit it. I'm pretty darn excited.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The UPS guy just came by

and dropped off a box of yarn (Yay!).

Notice that it's not blue. This is for a new design of the "I'm sorry I can't really talk about it yet" variety. The timing was perfect, as I had just finished pinning out the lace scarf, and my fingers were itching to cast on for something new.

Remembering that wet lace weight fabric turns into a limp and somewhat confusing wad, I decided to pin first, then wet it down with a spray bottle. Although the color here looks almost black, it is a dark purple with a fair amount of brown in it.

I must say that blue suits these two very well. I would think that Mr S is in danger of losing his chair, except that when he occupies it these two happily settle for his lap. The idea was one cat for each lap.....we'll see.

Bob (the tabby) has already mastered the "stare intently and purr loudly until Cindy wakes up" maneuver.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just Pictures

I went out walking today. It isn't Fall yet, but traces of it are in the air.

Sometimes the most interesting things only come into view when you look underfoot.

This last one's purely for the "Awwww" factor.

Man, I hate to do this

but I've turned on comment moderation because I was hit by a flurry of spam comments this morning (or really, last night). It's hard to think that this blog gets enough traffic to make it worthwhile for someone to write individual comments just to get in a link for a home security system (if that's where the link really went - I did not click on it).

I hope this does not discourage anyone from leaving legitimate comments, I love getting them. And I will try to stay on top of things so the real stuff gets posted as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Haven't Abandoned the Lace Scarf

but I haven't been posting pictures because a) one section looks pretty much like the next and b) unblocked lace is fairly unimpressive.

I only get this out when I can count on at least an hour of uninterrupted time. The lace is soothing to work when I can relax and get into the flow of the pattern - not so much when I have to respond to outside stimuli in the middle of a row. So progress has been slow, but I'm nearing the finish line.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Kitten Formerly Known as Melman

now answers to the name of Bob. Well, being a kitten, he doesn't really answer to anything, but that's what we're calling him. Bob is a bit of a Rum Tum Tugger.

Today Bob discovered that toilet lids aren't always closed. Fortunately, Mr S was there to fish him out and dry him off.

"Milton" is evolving into "Martin", which may or may not end with that. As Eliot reminds us: "The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games...."

Martin is lithe and lively, seems just a bit more thoughtful than Bob, but perhaps that's his (relatively) advanced age.

And Speaking of Felines

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Kits on the Block

We just brought these guys home from the shelter this afternoon.

The tiger on top (shelter name Melman) is about three months old. The fellow below (Milton) is about four months. Their names may or may not change with further acquaintance. "Milton" seems right, "Melman" I'm not so sure about.

The guys seem to be settling in pretty well.

It's been a while since we've had really young ones of any species in the house. This could be quite an adventure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bonus Chart

Here's a chart for the pattern I used on the hat in my last post. It's a six stitch repeat, but I've included two repeats so you can better see how it comes together.

I just pulled this out of my head as I worked, and only made the chart for the purposes of this post. But this is not to say it's an original design. I've seen that little motif (and variations of it) many times in collections of Scandinavian and Baltic color knitting patterns. I expect it's been used in weaving and embroidery as well. It's so easy to do and easy to remember that it probably counts as a genuine "folk" motif. I'm just passing it along.

Another Improvisation

I needed something to work on at my knitting group last night, so mid-afternoon I started in on this, and worked just far enough to get the first couple of rows of the pattern established.

I got through most of the color work by the end of the evening, and finished the whole thing off this morning. I didn't worry about size too much. I believe it was the Yarn Harlot who pointed out that hats are pretty great, since any given hat is likely to fit someone. This one is a little too small around for me, so I'll be on the lookout for someone younger.

Usually I try to stay away from politic here

but I hope that some (many?) of you will read the August 21 post at

Edited to add:
I confess that I had not read the comments to the post linked above when I posted it, and I still have not read all of them as there are now over 400. I simply was impressed by the essay itself. I, too, am dismayed by vitriol/hateful sloganeering coming from either side of the health care issue. I feel very strongly that we do not need hateful emotions, we need rational discussion.

So I do not retract my endorsement of the original post by AK Muckraker, which I read as a well written argument against inflammatory rhetoric. But I have removed the direct link, because I do not want to be sending people directly to comments that I have not fully reviewed.

This is a lame compromise, I know, but it's the best I could come up with.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Busy, Busy

I used the Not Blue yarn to make a hat. It's the same as the purple hat from last week, but I used smaller needles for a closer fit - definite improvement.

One of the fingerless mitts is done and I have started on the second. Now I'm in the process of translating my hen scratch notes into a written pattern. Sometimes that takes longer than the actual knitting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Not Blue

When standing in front of a shelf of yarn, my hands almost automatically go first to the blues. What's not to like about blue? Or maybe blue-green, or bluish purple? But a girl can get in a rut. So when I was looking for yarn to knit a sample hat (and maybe matching handwarmers), I forced myself to look at colors that are not blue.

I came up with this.

It's not blue, and yet, I really like it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yipee! My Sister's Arriving Tomorrow

-just for a long weekend, but it's going to be soooo nice to see her.
Allie, you are probably right about the "design element" in the rate of increase on those socks, because the swirl ended rather magically smack at the top of the heel "flap"

Patricia, I think you win my "Brave Knitter of the Week" award!

"On Paper" vs "Real Life"

Sometimes things aren't as straightforward as they seem.

This is the chart I drew up for the lace weight scarf (you can click on it to make it bigger). I wanted to repeat the pattern once, and to use markers to help me keep track of where I was at. On paper it was pretty easy to indicate where the repeat should fall. It could go where the red lines are, or where the green lines are, or really at any of the columns in between.

So..., looks simple, put the markers where the lines are (red or green, take your pick). The problem is that, because these lines at some points fall between a decrease and its corresponding increase, I invariably came to rows where the marker ended up between two stitches needed for a decrease, and had to stop and slip stitches around to reposition the marker. It was fiddly and annoying.

I finally figured out that if I placed the marker as in Row 1 of the chart below, it would sort of automatically "float" into the indicated positions on subsequent rows.

I still have to manually move the marker over one stitch on row 19, but it's easier than doing it two or three times per repeat, and at least the move doesn't come in the middle of a decrease.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mr S and his brother cut up the apple tree on Monday afternoon, just in time to haul it to the front curb for these guys.

The crew from Lafayette County was making the rounds with their chipper. This was a huge help, as the brush (which extended many feet past what you can see here) would have taken 4-5 trips to the dump to dispose of. We'll plant a new tree come spring.

I spent yesterday afternoon making a hat.

The wig stand is decidedly smaller than my head. so I get a somewhat smoother fit. Still, if I do this again I may do one less pattern repeat vertically.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yesterday's Excitement

We had a rainstorm yesterday, not unusual in the Midwest this time of year. I was sitting at the computer, not paying too much attention, when something must have caught the corner of my eye. I turned to the window and saw the apple tree whipping and thrashing, literally hurling apples across the yard. It felt surreal, like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where the trees are throwing apples at Dorothy. I got up and went to the bedroom window at the front of the house. Maple leaves and twigs where whirlpooling in the air at second floor level. That's when I called to Mr S to get out of the bathtub and head to the basement, just before the lights went out. I stopped to close and bolt the back door, which had blown open and saw this.

(though I didn't snap the picture until things had calmed down).

After the storm passed we, and half the town, were out on the streets, surveying the damage, checking on neighbors, comparing notes. There was an odd sense of conviviality. Branches and trees were down all over town, but so far as I know no one was hurt. The volunteer fire department was out, looking for blocked streets or electric wires down. Even before the last lingering rain had completely stopped the sound of chainsaws could be heard from all quarters.

The sky cleared to brilliant late afternoon blue. We had an impromptu picnic on Brother-In-Law's porch next door and chatted with passers by. Dusk fell. Just before compete dark the power company truck came by and the driver used a long pole to remove some thingies from the top of the power pole, then replace them, then flip a switch. The lights came on. We applauded the power company man. Then headed back home.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


at kmkat's comment on my last post. Believe me, sometimes along the process it felt exactly that way. In fairness to Cat, (Bordhi, that is) I feel obliged to post the following.

It fits quite comfortably. Whoda Thunk It?
Now in fairness to the Truth I must make an admission. I worked alternately on two socks. Work toe, reinforce lesson by working second toe. Work increase section, reinforce lesson by working second increase section. Start working heel - Gaack! rip out, complete heel. Work second heel to reinforce lesson.
In my intense concentration I overlooked one little detail. The pattern reverses the direction of that swirl on the second sock. I just repeated what I had done for the first. So no beautiful symmetry. I didn't realize this until after completing the second heel and a good bit (most) of the leg. I'm not ripping back (stamps foot and pouts).
I'm going to proceed to EZ's sewn bind off, which looks like a piece of cake because it's practically the same as grafting, and Lord knows I can do that. Besides, Jen showed me how to do it the last time I was actually able to get to Last Saturday Knitting.

Moving Along

Here is the sock so far. The foot is done and the increases for the arch have been completed. The sole sts are on the bottom needle and the arch/instep sts are divided on the two top ones.

If I were working a "traditional" sock-with-heel-flap from the toe up, I would have placed those increases at each side of the instep, forming a traditional looking gusset. But the point of Bordhi's book is that they can really be placed anywhere. So in this pattern they fall immediately to one side of a narrow band of diagonal sts travelling across the top of the foot.

You can see it a little better from the front, though the same yarn characteristics that made rows hard to count also make the "definition" of this feature less than stellar. You can also see that I had a little difficulty maintaining tension with this stretchy/springy yarn.

One thing I don't understand yet is the rate of increase. When I'm working top down, I decrease in the gusset section two sts every other round. So working toe up I would expect to increase two stitches every other round (or an average of 1 st per round). But Bordhi's formula is two sts every three rounds, and then some extras in the last round immediately before beginning the heel action. I'm assuming she has a very good reason for doing it this way, and that somehow it makes for a better fit. I just haven't wrapped my mind around what that reason is. Any ideas?

Friday, August 07, 2009

How Long?

The pattern I'm using for the toe up socks* uses a formula to determine how long you knit before starting the arch increases. And this formula uses row gauge as one of its factors. The pattern sensibly says to work the sock for a couple of inches then measure row gauge.

My problem here is the yarn. This is a cotton/Lycra blend rather similar to Elann Esprit or Cascade Fixation, but slightly more boucle in effect when knit. And it's more than a little difficult to distinguish one row from the next when knit up in stockinette.

It became somewhat easier when I turned it inside out. Those purl side bumps stand up to be counted just a bit better.

Now onwards and upwards.

* "Coriolis" from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Up, up and away!

Officially starting a toe up sock here.

This is actually the second, neater looking toe. On the first one, I was slightly off with the moves for Judy's Magic Cast On, and ended up with a row of twisted stitches that resulted in a row of little teeny holes at the tip of the toe. But I went back to the book, and I've got that sucker licked now.

It really would be easier to knit the first row if the unused stitches were hanging on a skinny flexible cable cord instead of a stiff dpn. But I managed.

My intention at this point is to work the basic Coriolis sock from Cat Bordhi's book. That should keep my brain engaged for a while.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Yesterday, Yahoo had a "back to school" graphic on their logo. It's gone today, so maybe they figured they had jumped the gun. Still, the Rudbeckia are in bloom and apples are dropping from the tree.

It has been such a cool summer so far that I just can't grasp that it's half over. Don't get me wrong, I love the cooler weather. There's just a nagging sense of "How can summer be half gone when it never really arrived?"

I ran across a new online knitting and crochet magazine that looks promising. Petite Purls focuses on items for babies and children, and the first issue has some cute ones.

Here's a charming project. Who knew a tarantula could look so cozy? An iguana, fish and hummingbirds are featured here. Thumbs up to the Stroud Knitting Group!