Saturday, May 26, 2007

More Stash Enhancement!

Ok, so my knitting to-do list just got a little longer. But it is well worth it. I am working away on the Pine Tree Scarf, which I like a lot. And I have the paprika sock yarn and the pale green sock yarn for summer knitting. But today, after a great show-and-tell time at Teresa's house, we went to the Alamitos Bay Yarn Company in Long Beach. Very cool yarn shop! You drive to the end of a Marina, not exactly a yarny-looking location, and there's a lovely inviting yarn shop awaiting you.

I could have spent an hour there, admiring all the samples and touching and feeling lots of unusual yarn. But unfortunately I had to be back at El Camino by noon, so I only had about 20 minutes to peruse the yarns. I made a quick decision: I had thought about getting some Cashsoft to make the Knitty pattern called Fetching (

But then I saw some absolutely beautiful worsted weight yarn of 50% wool and 50% rabbit angora. Angora can be wildly expensive, so $11 for a 50 gram skein didn't seem out of line. I decided to buy 2 skeins, to be sure I would have enough. I chose a lovely soft mossy green color, thinking, Oh this is a color Kristen likes. I'll make myself some fingerless mitts. Then I thought, Wait, Kristen will want the mitts! I'd better get another color for myself, so I picked an equally soft purple color. So I ended up buying 4 skeins. $44 worth. But I worked at ECC in the afternoon and earned more than that, so I felt justified in treating myself. It is really lovely rich feeling yarn. And if you're going to keep your hands warm, wouldn't soft angora yarn be just that much better?

I had to miss the rest of the yarn expedition, but I had a great time visiting with Nancy and Teresa and Christine and Yoshiko, and now I know another great LYS to return to again sometime. And a Saturday afternoon spent grading other people's research papers didn't seem so bad when I told myself I was earning yarn by doing so!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Pine Tree Scarf

Here's the pattern for the diagonal rib scarf.

Cast on 28 stitches (multiple of 6 plus 4 extra stitches for a 2-stitch border on each side)

Knit 4 rows of  garter stitch.

Odd number rows are the pattern side.

Row 1: K2 (for border) K3 P3 across, ending with K2
Row 2 and all even rows: K2, knit the knits and purl the purls, ending with K2)
Row 3: K2. P1, K3 P3 across, ending with K2
Row 5: K2. P2, K3 P3 across, ending with K2
Row 7: K2. P3, K3 P3 across, ending with K2
Row 9: K2. K1, P3 K3 across, ending with K2
Row 11: K2. K2, P3 K3 across, ending with K2
Row 13: K2. K3, P3 K3 across, ending with K2 (= row 1) Continue to row 3, etc.

The pattern is equally attractive from both sides, and doesn't curl at all. It has a lovely dimensional texture, and once you get the hang of it, it's quite simple to see where you are and what you need to do next.

Thanks to Nancy for this great pattern!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A washrag??

I was sure I would never knit a dishrag! How could anyone spend their valuable time on such a thing? How could I bear to soil my precious stitches??

Well, I did make a dishcloth, and it was fun. It's such a sunny yellow, and the double moss stitch made a lovely scrubby texture. I might even make another one some time, since it only took a day and a half.

And now, I am at work on a scarf which shall be named the Pine Tree Scarf, because it is destined for a home in Maine, the Pine Tree State. I'm making it for my mom for Christmas, out of pine green yarn that is 70% merino wool, 27% silk and 3% cashmere (called Kashmir, but clearly, that's a bit of an exaggeration.) I got the pattern from nNncy and I really like it: it's called Diagonal Rib, and it's just patterns of knit and purl, like a 3 x 3 rib stitch, except that each time the stitches are offset by one stitch, so that the rib travels diagonally up and across the scarf. To me, it almost resembles a cable pattern, but much simpler. It does take a bit of attention, but the yarn is nice and soft and worsted weight, size 8 needles, and the scarf is only 28 stitches across, so it is moving along quickly.

I had a lovely Mother's Day, and the end is in sight for the school year. All good!And I am wearing my hand-knit socks to school today! :0)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Magic Loop Knitting for a Sock

I want to try to record the method I used for my sock while it's still in my mind. Even though knitting on one (or 2) circular needles is much simpler than on 3 or 4 dpns, it does require some special adaptations when you're using a pattern, because the patterns explain the decreases in terms of needle 1, 2, and 3, and you have to reinterpret that.

So first of all, you cast on all your stitches on one end of the long circular needle. Then you slide the stitches to the middle of the cord. Count half the stitches, and pinch and pull the cord through a space between the 2 middle stitches. Now you can slide the stitches back to the tips, half on either side.

Next, you need to make a nice smooth join. The method of exchanging stitches seems to work well for me.
Move the first stitch on the left needle onto the right needle, and then slip the original first stitch on the right needle over and onto the left needle. Then the stitches on the farther needle, from whence the working yarn is coming, are pushed onto the cord, and you pull the needle so that you have just a small amount of loop on the left and plenty of free cord on the right side, and you knit. I pull the first stitch really tight each time to avoid ladders.

Ok, so the ribbing and the leg are perfectly simple. Round and round you go. When you come to the heel flap, it's perfectly simple since half your stitches are already on one needle and you just knit back and forth.

The tricky part is when you pick up stitches and then decrease. My method was to slide all the stitches back onto the cord and re-divide them so that each needle has half the stitches from the top of the foot, one set of picked-up side stitches and half the heel stitches. And then, place markers at the point between the top of foot and the beginning of the picked-up stitches on each side.

Then, when you come to the marker, look at where the sock is hanging down. If the sock is on the right, pass marker and then K2tog. And if the sock is on the left, ssk just before the marker. In the first few rounds, it's obvious where to do it because you are along side the heel flap, but as you keep going, you get further away and you need to pay attention.

When all the decreases are done and you're back to your original number of cast on stitches, slide the stitches onto the cable again and re-divide them so that you have the top of the foot on one needle and the bottom on the other. Knit round and round till you get to the toe decreases.

On each needle, K1 ssk knit across k2tog K1. Turn to the other needle and do the same:K1 ssk knit across k2tog K1. Continue until there are 8 stitches left on each needle and then kitchener them together. And that's it!

With one circ, it doesn't matter whether you have 64 stitches or only 16 or 8, it still works. I think this would work great on hats too--no awkward switching to dpns at the end.

If you know how to knit on 2 circs, just look at it for a moment, and you will see that if you slip one set of those stitches onto the free end of one needle, you can dispose of the hanging dangling thing and have a much neater little package of knitting. There's nothing to dangle because one end of the needle holds the working stitches, the cord holds the other half, and the other end of the needle is used to knit with.

Here's a picture of how it looks. Unfortunately, they don't sell the booklet directly. However, you can order it online here, $8 plus $4 shipping:

Don't waste your time or money on Cat Bordhi's book on 2 circs.

My needle is 29" Takumi bamboo, size 3 US, and it's plenty long enough for socks or mittens. The join is not as smooth as some, but then again the stitches don't fall off as easily either, so it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Free and Easy Feeling

Now that my first sweater (ok, vest) and my first pair of socks are done, I feel kind of lost, but also kind of free. Sort of like the feeling after studying for final exams, and finally they're all done and endless summer looms. Or even, I was thinking, as if I had finished a thesis or something.

This morning I cast on and got a couple of inches done of a cotton washcloth in sunny yellow. After size 3's for the past 4 weeks, the size 8 feels enormous! And I also added a couple of rows to the set-aside gray mitten (I also converted it from 2 circs to one. Two circs is like training wheels, but really, one is far simpler. Far. Far. And I think I understand now how simple it is to divide up the stitches and join the round--slip the whole thing to the middle of the cable, pull the cable out through the center of the stitches, and then slide the two halves of stitches to the two needles again. How could I not see that before? It makes perfect sense now!

But anyhow, the washcloth will only take a day or two (she said ambitiously), and then what? I'm not really motivated to knit mittens at the moment, no matter what Elizabeth Zimmerman says about knitting mittens in the summer. Soooo....

With my feeling of freedom, I went back to Concepts in Yarn and bought two skeins of sock yarn, 100% hand-wash only merino wool, hand dyed in a colorway called Paprika. It's very pretty (and rather overpriced, since 2 socks worth came to almost $30!) But you know how you pick something up, and then talk yourself out of it, and then you come back and pick it up again, and then talk yourself out of it? Well I had already done that twice with this yarn. So I decided it was meant to be mine, since just two skeins in that color were available, and it was still sitting there, weeks after I first squeezed it. These will be really special socks, since they will be this peppery variegated red color plus hand-washable only. So I will take my time and when I'm ready, I will knit them. :-)

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Pair of Socks!

The pair of socks has just been finished!

The kitchener stitch again befuddled me more than I expected it to. I think I need to get some expert instruction in how to do it, but I was so impatient to finish these and be able to put them both on at once that I just pushed on.

They are like a walking foot massage! They hug, nay they embrace my feet! They feel almost alive!

For some reason the colors didn't line up the same on both feet, even though the leg portions did (perhaps because I did the decreases correctly on the second sock. :-/ )

But no matter. I love them. My very first pair of socks, off the needles and on my feet! Weeee!

I ordered some light green mildly variegated sock yarn on and expected to receive it by today but I just got a note from the dyer saying she was so sorry to be late, but she was recovering from abdominal surgery. Oh. Okay! I think I will wait till Kristen actually gets home to try to knit it into socks for her.

Can't wait for this to arrive!

But all this means that I am project-less at the moment. What to do, what to do? A washcloth? A scarf? Some other socks? Fingerless gloves? Stay tuned! :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

knitting nightmares: literal and figurative

I actually had a nightmare the other night that I was knitting my sock and the yarn had turned into some sort of horrid ribbony stuff and the gauge was all wrong and there were holes all over the place. Perhaps I shouldn't knit late at night?

Meanwhile, in real life, I went off to Borders this morning intending to make a nice neat heel flap, (which came off without a hitch on the first one) and I made one mistake after another, and had to take it off the needle, and then realized that I didn't have any of my equipment with me and actually left the store and drove home to get a crochet hook and a needle and thread to salvage rapidly disappearing stitches, and drove back to wait for Sam and continue my "peaceful" knitting. And I still don't have the flap finished yet. And after that the puzzle of picking up stitches again.

I think I have a clue why I got my decreases in the wrong position last time though. It's too hard to explain, even to myself, but we shall see if this enlightenment sustains itself long enough to produce tangible results.

So going to listen to Cast On and try to finish this bit up.