Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Embossed Leaf Sock

Last Thursday I finished the Embossed Leaf Socks. This is only the third sock pattern I have knit and I'm glad I did.

Embossed Leaf Sock

When it comes to socks and sweaters, I love the comfort of the using the same structure over and again. Unfortunately, you don't learn much taking the same road every day.

Embossed Leaf Sock

From the ribbed long tail cast on, to the tulip decreases toe, I thoroughly enjoyed knitting outside of my safe zone and learning some new tricks.

Embossed Leaf Sock

I'll probably knit this sock again some day. It was a really quick knit, and even when it was put down for weeks on end, I had no problem picking back it up where I left off.

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock
100% superwash merino fingering weight.

Two 16" Knit Picks Harmony Wood circulars sized US1 1/2, 2.5mm.

Embossed Leaves (rav link) by Mona Schmidt from Interweave Press's Favorite Socks. Begun June 28, 2008, finished August 21, 2008.

Embossed Leaf Sock

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wide Leaf FOs

I washed and blocked the Wide Leaf Winter Set last weekend and finally have the FOs for show and tell.

It was amazing to me how quickly all of these pieces knit up. Aside from the finishing, they were done within a week I think. The scarf and mitts were each done in one day.

Working with mostly fingerweight yarns has skewed this knitter's perception on things. It's no wonder I've got the fire in my belly to knit up the other scarf/winter sets I have planned.

Wide Leaf Scarf
First up is the scarf. I loved the yarn, the colorway, and this fabulous wide leaf stitch. The scarf has a lot of texture, accentuating the muted, but colorful, hues in the yarn. The only misgiving I have with the scarf is it's length; I didn't have the yardage to go the distance.

Maple Creek Farm Merino in the PA Fall colorway. Approximately 325 yards. Love this yarn, love this vendor, I can't wait to get more yarn from her at Rhinebeck.

Knitpicks Harmony Options size US 10 1/2, 6.5mm.

I employed a seed stitch border, followed purl stitches, to frame the wide leaf stitch pattern from lace & eyelets, one of the new Harmony guides from Interweave Press. I made one modification to the stitch pattern, an additional purl stitch between the two leaves.

The washed and blocked scarf grew a bit to 58" by 8."


I really wanted the ends of the scarf to match. I knit each end of the scarf separately and kitchenered them together, smack dab in the middle. Never having kitchenered a purl stitch before, this was a challenge. I'm sure the next time I attempt it, I'll get it 100% right.

Wide Leaf Scarf - kitchner seam

Wide Leaf Hat
The scalloping created by the stitch pattern gives this hat a tulip shape and evokes the jazz age. The color and shaping would make this an adorable baby hat.

I was especially pleased by the way the crown decreases worked themselves out. When it comes to hats, I generally design as I go along, and the k2togs in the leaf made a perfect segue for the decreases.

Knitpicks Harmony Options US 9, 5.5mm and US 7, 4.5mm.

The pattern is basically four of the wide leaf patterns knit in the round. The crown shaping was done by switching to smaller needles for a leaf repeat or two and then incorporating k2tog decreases, as noted above.

Wide Leaf Handwarmers
The mittens were the most fidgety to make. The 23 stitch base pattern, coupled with the bulky yarn, meant I had to do some finagling to carry the motif over to the mittens. The final design actually looks like stacked menorahs.


The Hubster was kind enough to model these for me.

I used Knitpicks Harmony Options US 7, 4.5mm and US 6, 4.0mm. I used a much smaller needle on these to condense the leaf pattern to fit over the top of the hand, as well as, to create a tighter, and by extension, warmer, fabric for my hands.

With a smaller canvas to work with, I omitted the second leaf, and centered the YOs. I started out with the larger needles on the wrist and switched over to the US 6's once I reached the thumb increases. Like the hat, I just designed these as I went along.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A retraction and, then, some yarn

Although I prefer to lead with a photo, this retraction must come first. I was wrong about the Etsy vendor who sold me the shawl pin. I know I am one to jump to conclusions, as I am the least trustful person I have ever met, but I did try to withhold judgment until I had more than my misguided instincts to inform me. I did, but I was still wrong, wrong, wrong.

In my defense, my tongue was loosened by the fact that the USPS tracking number she gave on August 4th, which showed up as only being printed by the sender, did not actually "activate" until August 14th, three days after I sent an aggressive email. With the arrival of a second shawl pin on Monday, four days after the first pin arrived, it seems I could be wrong. The USPS probably did screw up.

In my grudging state I didn't recheck the Etsy shop to confirm my memory of the pin being sterling silver before posting that the ad said it was. Her ad actually states it is silver wire (whatever that is). I must have seen sterling silver listed on another pin or for another vendor and it stuck in my mind. I'm kinda stumped by this, though, because I have a distinct memory of wow, this is sterling for this price? But a look and a search for sterling silver on etsy does not bring up this vendor, nor any vendor's goods I looked at. The mind is a tricky organ, it probably filled in the blanks when I read "silver wire."

I feel really bad about my judgmental streak, but REALLY glad I was cognizant enough to keep the vendor's name to myself and not unduly libel her. But this means I can't really showcase the vendor alongside her lovely handiwork, which she totally deserves. Maybe when I finish my next shawl, I'll include her info in the post. That seems like a plan, as well as adding notes to the posts where I discuss my incorrect assumptions. For restitution, I will be sending the second pin back, even though she did say I could keep it.

Now onto the yarn...

knitpicks schooner
(I love the chiaroscuro in this picture!)

knitpicks coney island

This is the first Knitpicks yarn I've ever purchased. I've been drawn to the playful Felici self striping yarns from the moment they came out (last year was it?)

cascade heritage

I went on a bit of a yarn crawl the other day searching for the perfect yarn for a Shetland Triangle. I saw this yarn at the first, and then, at the last of the shops I visited.

It's a brand new yarn, Heritage Sock, from a major player in the business, Cascade. I wasn't too keen on it at first because I really wanted to find something handpainted, or at the least, something less traditional. But in the hours between dismissing it at the first shop, and walking out with it at the last shop, it's obvious my affinity grew.

cascade heritage

When I caked up a skein last night I knew I had made the right choice. It's a beautiful yarn and will make a beeyoootiful shawl!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


With the exception of sock yarn, I am, for some unknown reason, not comfortable stashing much yarn. The presence of these yarns in my bins triggers a constant, uncomfortable, OCD-esque humming in my mind.

In the past few weeks, as the spring fogginess dispersed, the hum picked up and I have been driven to find the perfect project for ALL of the non fingering (or lighter) weight yarns in my stash.

Project 1: Patons Classic Merino Afghan

1. Log Cabin #1, 2. Log Cabin #2, 3. Log Cabin 3.0, 4. IMG_1448

Over a year ago, I picked up 18 skeins of Patons Classic Merino, for an afghan to match a summer quilt. I originally planned on knitting a striped chevron but I got as far as the swatch before moving on. This winter I fell in love with garter stitch when knitting a BSJ jacket and got on the log cabin wagon.

On my first attempt I thought I'd double up the yarn, alternating the solid sections with a section mixing the colors every other half row. After finishing the first row I realized my idea made flesh was unappetizing.

When the hum picked up again last month I had already decided on, and then abandoned, the chevron idea a second time. Last month, while digesting two seasons of my new favorite show, Heroes (via netflix's amazing Roku), I tried alternating the solid colors.

Unfortunately, the system I had thought would work did not. The colors on one side of the logs overlap, while on the other side they do not. So I opened up MS excel and charted out the colors until I found a design I liked that worked. I haven't gotten much farther than the bottom left hand photo indicates, but the project is a go and (more importantly!) the hum is gone!

Project 2: Lime Blue Malabrigo Scarf

1. Entrelac Scarf, 2. Lime & Blue Cabled Hat, 3. Foliage Scarf - frogged, 4. IMG_3066

Some time last fall I came across the most delicious malabrigo colorway, Lime & Blue. I loved how it looked en skein, but was less happy with how it looked knit up. When I finished a cabled hat with it, I fell in love with the pooling and have spent hours upon hours knitting and frogging different scarf patterns hoping to find the magic stitch count to court the process.

Yesterday afternoon a solution came to me: Entrelac. Being a child of the 80's, Entrelac embodies all that is 70s, which in turn means it is the epitome of gauche. My tastes, honed in the matchy matchy 80s, are often horrified as the fashions of the 70s surround me, from the multicolored empire waisted scarf shirts to the fantastic sock colorways I've begun to (love and) hoard.

When I would come across pictoral evidence of the Entrelac technique in one of my general knitting books, I quickly looked away unsure why anyone would want to create such a monstrosity of color and texture. But then, last September, I saw Minerva Turkey's Noro pillow. It's fabulous, go see. I had no intention of ever following in her footsteps, but I was then able to comprehend the beauty of the technique.

Anyhow, after another couple of hours were lost Sunday morning to more failed attempts the idea of Entrelac just popped into my mind. I knew right away I had found my holy grail for this yarn.

With the few inches I have so far, I am more than satisfied; the small blocks are the right sized canvas to showcase the jarring juxtaposition of the neon lime and deep midnight blues of the yarn. One more yarn conundrum solved.

Project 3: Manos del Uruguay Winter Set

I purchased this yarn at Rhinebeck last fall, and after the Lime & Blue Malabrigo, it is the second most pressing project I feel I need to knit up and out of my stash.

I am pretty sure this will be a My So Called Scarf with a matching hat and/or mitts, yardage allowing. I tried out the pattern this weekend, as a respite from the Malabrigo scarf swatching. I didn't get far before the Malabrigo scarf called me back. It looked like the needles I used were the wrong size so I quickly frogged what I had done and tucked the yarn back into its cubby.

Project 4: Cascade 220 Superwash Sweater

I picked up this yarn at Webs last summer. It is the last purchase from this trek left unused. By hook or by crook, it will be a sweater. As I mentioned the other day, my latest design is a FAIL and is wallowing in the frog pond.

The recent attempt has diminished my drive to ponder the yarn's purpose. This time around, though, I made pretty decent gauge notes so that whenever I get the urge to return to the drawing board, I wont have to reinvent the wheel.

Whew. Getting this all down and organized has been supremely cathartic. I totally feel I can move on to another shawl project with a clear mind (which I will totally blame on an unnamed blogger who totally suckled the bee in my bonnet. I wont name her, but she knows who she is. :-P ) All I need is the perfect yarn.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ugh a lug

Although I will have an FO of this lovely project in the upcoming week,

I've been hit with a bit of knitting ugh by this afternoon of the weekend.

Thursday afternoon my shawl pin came in from that dodgy (not to be named) etsy retailer I mentioned the other day. The pin is perfect. And though I do feel I got value for my money, a quick look at the pin shows that what I thought I purchased is not what I received.

The three ends of the metal in this piece indicate it is silver or nickel plated copper, the etsy shop description said it is sterling silver. I think it is my obligation to inform etsy about the false advertising, don't you think?

I wore the pin and shawl on Friday, though, and I felt like a million bucks. My professed loathing for knitting triangular shawls waned sharply all day. I now want to knit a million of them. I'm short and squat and when I wore the shawl I actually felt glamorous. You can't put a price on that kind of feeling, and at my age it's a rare experience.

By last night, the ugh returned. The sweet milk of last weekend's knitting mojo soured. The twining vine motif isn't working out on my sweater; it is way too narrow. I have to go back to the drawing board...

It is taking some effort not to frog this all and start either a Shetland or a Swallowtail or a Seraphim shawl with this awesome worsted weight yarn.

So, what did I do? During breaks between chores this morning I was foolish enough to pick up another yarn I've had difficulty utilizing. I've finally found a stitch count and gauge that pools the two colors. Now all I need is for the numerous stitchionaries covering the coffee table to speak sweet nothings to me.

Ugh a lug.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Speaking of Yarnissima...

Last Friday, after failing, once again, to get my grubby little paws on some Wollmeise, I succumbed to the Peaknit method, I picked up the Fratello and Spina di Pesce sock kits at the Yarnissima shop.

Only five days later and my grubby little hands are clean as a whistle so as to manhandle these:

I've read about how awesome Yarnissima's packages are, but I still was in awe of the little goodies she included. She really goes out of her way with the sundries and makes you feel very special. However, being a veteran of Yarnissima's patterns, the pragmatic in me found the laminated mini charts to be the best, absolutely fabulous perk in the package. A very close second is this cutey pie, which is brightening up my dreary work cube:

Amidst all this yarny goodness I still have a couple of things to complain about. First, even though my knitting mojo is back, it seems taking a decent picture these days requires more energy than I can find the patience to muster. Second on my list of complaints is how can sock kits I ordered at 8:00 am on 8/13 from a foreign country (the Netherlands) get to my Massachusetts home faster than a shawl pin I ordered July 31 from an (never to be named!) etsy vendor in Nevada?

According to the vendor the package was lost, but her eagerness to replace the pin and let me keep the other one if that package ever showed up, makes me think otherwise. I've heard many a good thing about etsy on these here innernets, but I guess with my first etsy purchase all the luck was with someone else.

But seriously?!? Wollmeise! Who could possibly care?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My knitting overfloweth...

My knitting mojo is on a rampage. I'm designing again. I'll never be yarnissima, but just doing something new, having my own meagre muse bloom, is something special to me.

As I have mentioned time and time again, I am drawn to the knitted leaf motif, and in my stash, I've been drawn to the palette of the recent Maple Creek Farm acquisition.

So I've put this leaf pattern

to work with this palette

and come up with a hat, fingerless mitt and scarf set. The hat and mitts are done, but I'm not yet finished tweaking the hat. Here are the mitts and scarf. (The beginnings of the hat are in the upper right hand picture of the scarf.)

The hat pattern would be peeerrrfect for a baby, as the pattern creates scalloping on the edge. It just needs a little work. (If only I had a baby to model it on!)

I almost have completed knitting each end of the scarf, which I've knit separately, as I plan to Kitchener them together. I haven't yet considered how I'm going to how to alter the stitch pattern, but my aim is to design the center seam as a mirror image. Sitting down and thinking this through is this week's goal.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

There were very few words....

How do you find the words for a beauty such as this?

When an avid sock knitter has failed all attempts to obtain the holy grail of yarn, she accepts her fate with as much grace as she can muster.

But when another knitter GIVES this knitter, a person she barely knows, a skein of said yarn, there are very few words.

Very few words at first, just tears. Tears in front of husbands known, and unknown. Tears staring at the ground. Tears of incomprehension and comprehension.

Tears of confusion, then embarrasment at all the tears. And then finally the sense of unworthiness of such a beautiful, percipient gift.

Who was the authoress of this generosity? One of my favorite bloggers,Knitting Kris. Kristin delivered this skein in person to my home late Sunday afternoon when she and her lovely family came to visit on their trip to Boston.

No, I did nothing really to deserve a gift of this magnitude. But I sense that Kris was thanking me for things I cannot see or touch or fully understand yet. And so I graciously accepted the gift, and more importantly, accept the honor of it.

Thank you Kristin.

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Times....

I actually like memes, but most wind up in my draft folder. This one I couldn't resist for the mere fact the very quiet life I've led for the past 15 or so years is in direct contrast to a crazy childhood. This stroll down memory lane was inspired by Maryse's posting.

Who was your first prom date?
I went with a school friend, Eric Barbasso. I was asked the year before at a different school, but I was so shocked to be asked that I said no. The guy was wicked cute too. I am sad to report my interpersonal skills haven't much improved.

Do you still talk to your first love?
Very rarely, but oddly just two weeks ago.

What was your first alcoholic drink?
I don't recall but it was probably beer.

What was your first job for pay?
I started a paper route at age 11. I think the legal age for the job was 12 so I had to get some kind of special dispensation of sorts, but I don't remember what it was. Maybe they just looked the other way?

What was your first car?
I have never really owned my own car, but the first car my name was on the title of was a beloved 2002 Passat wagon. Her name was Ursulina. Too bad it turned out to have a lemon of a oil pan or something, so we had to trade it in two and a half years ago.

Who was the first person to text you today?
I rarely send or receive texts, so no one.

Who is the first person you thought of this morning?
Whoever was in my dream. I don't remember who it was, but I remember thinking about them. My dreams cling to me in the morning. It takes me five or 10 minutes to shake them off.

Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Friedman of East School in Long Beach, NY.

Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
My sister and I flew alone to Florida to stay with our grandparents. I think I was around eight or nine years old. During our stay they took us to Disney and the hotel maids threw out my beloved blankie, mistaking it for a rag (which it was, of course, to everyone but me). I never had a blankie again. I'm nothing, if not loyal.

Who was your first best friend and are you still friends?
Danielle C who I met in Mrs. Friedman's first grade class. She stuck on me like glue.

My first real, joined at the hip, best friend was Laurie H. I met her when she transferred in to our district in 7th grade. We had a pretty intense friendship until she moved away when she was 15 or 16. Every few years we would catch up on the phone, but I haven't heard from her in about six or seven years.

What was your first sport played?
I think maybe basketball for like five minutes in 6th grade. Since I stopped growing when I was 12, at 4' 11", it was pretty clear, pretty quickly, it wasn't a good fit.

Who was the first person you talked to this morning?
The hubster.

Whose wedding were you first in?
I have never been in a wedding officially. However, when Laurie called me to come to her wedding I flew down to Florida and totally did the maid of honor thing, even though she didn't have a formal service.

What was the first thing you did this morning?
This falls into the TMI category...and get your mind out of the gutter, it wasn't that. ;-)

What was the first concert you went to?
My first concert was at age 14. I don't remember the club name, but it was a short lived bar in Island Park, NY. I saw the punk band, The Exploited at an all ages show. I didn't necessarily like this particular style of punk music, but I was in love with the idea of punk. The music was so loud my hearing was compromised for a good 12 or so hours, of which I was proud because I was 14 and studip! So the tinnitis I suffer from? Totally my own fault.

What was your first tattoo or piercing?
I think I had my ears pierced at age 12. Back then you usually got big round dots for earrings, but I got these really cute stars. I thought I was cooler than cool. I think I may still have one floating around in one of my treasure boxes.

What was your first run in with the law?
OMG! This is going to look poorly on me, but I love remembering this story. My family are mostly concientious, law abiding citizens; my mother was well known for her overprotective strictness. With that said, my mother (I grew up in a single parent household) has always been a little punk rock in her attitude about certain things. She generally did everything by the book, but when it came to certain things she completely ignored the rules. So, long story long...

When my Great Aunt Nettie died she left my mom a little cash and even though we were DIRT POOR, and my mom tracked every single cent she had with precision, she did not sock away the money for a rainy day. No, she totally went the carpe diem route and gave both my sister and I a "big" gift. I was 15 and my mom bought me a dirt bike style moped. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Now mind you, she bought me the kind of vehicle which requires a license and a helmet, but totally ignored the fact that I had neither when I took my first test drive around the block in her presence.

Within 10 minutes I was witnessed breaking five laws by one of Long Beach's finest. Laws one and two were the lack of a license and a helmet; laws three and four are technically the same, two red lights I plowed through unheeding; law five was turning with a signal. Now in black and white that sounds kinda bad, and legally speaking, it was of course. But in reality, the streets were pretty empty and I had the road to myself, and I just rode the moped as one would ride a regular bicycle, exhilarated by the ride and completely oblivous to the rules of the road.

I don't remember how I was caught exactly, I just remember cowering in our apartment building foyer listening to my mom, who was standing just 10 feet away at the end our our stoop, successful talking down the cop. He wanted to throw the book at me, but she was a force to be reckoned with and I got off with a verbal warning. I walked away from that incident with absolutely no repercussions from her either. Considering all I had to do was wake up to get in trouble as a kid, my mother's laissez faire attitude about the moped incident will remain a fascinating mystery to me.

Who was your first roommate?
One of my greatest college disappointments, out of many, was having the freshman roommate I corresponded with over the summer never show up and having to live alone for my first few weeks in college. I totally remember her name even though I never met her: Tamara.

I was all alone, in a major city, in a new state, and had never made friends easily. I was gypped out of what I felt was guaranteed to be my new best friend (ahhh...to be young and oh so delusional again).

I was so overwhelmingly lonely I spent the first two days crying in the closet so no one would hear me. Even though I lived in three different rooms that year, in two different dorms, the three roommates I did have were short lived. The only name I remember is the one for the best friend who never was.

Wow! I haven't thought about this in years. I can't believe I've been holding this grudge these 20+ years. I think it's high time to let it go.

Where did you go in your first limo ride?
From Albany, NY to our home on LI, after a custody dispute when I was five or six. All I really remember was that the lawyer had candy, which I think were peanut M & M's.


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