Monday, November 26, 2007

One more finished object...

I think.

Unless I decide to have a second go at the buttonholes and binding off. I finished the green Lush Neckwarmer-Pidge last night, and the knitting went very nicely. But Maggie Righetti is right--buttonholes are a bitch. I used her 3 row method and made fairly acceptable burronholes, but then I had a little trouble with the fact that I had added 2 stitches somehow (I didn't quite understand the directions) so I knit another row and k2tog before binding off, but in all that, the moss stitch became seed stitch and the end kind of flares.

If I take it out and try again, will it be any better?

The wooden buttons are largish, which looks cool, but it means I need largish buttonholes too.

I don't know--maybe I'm done, maybe not. I think I will work on Sam's socks for a while and let this one sit.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More soup.

Every year for Thanksgiving, I cook wild rice, which Sam likes a lot and I like moderately well. But there's always too much, and it's hard to use up. So this year, I went in search of a recipe for Wild Rice soup, and with some modifications, came up with this:

Wild Rice Soup

2~3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup cooked white rice (optional)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 sm. can mushrooms, drained
1/2 stick butter
around a cup of flour
8 cups chicken or turkey broth (add drained mushroom juice)
1 c. (+ or -) chicken or turkey, or use chicken tenders)
1 cup half and half cream
salt and pepper (quite a bit of fresh-ground black pepper)

Saute onion, celery, carrot, and mushrooms in large pot till soft. Sprinkle flour over and cook until butter is all absorbed into flour. Gradually add broth, stirring to make a nice thick soup.Add rice and chicken and simmer for a while. Turn off and allow to meld flavors for several hours. Add cream at the end and bring just to the boiling point. Serve with croutons or garlic toast. Makes about 8 cups.

Glaciers melt faster than this!

It seemed to be taking me an unreasonable amount of time to knit a small rectangle of moss stitch, so this morning, under ideal knitting conditions, I timed myself to see how much yardage (or inch-age. or milimeter-age) I produced in 30 minutes. The sorry truth--a half inch! Of a scarf that's only 5 inches across. This seems unbelievably slow to me. And I'm actually cruising along pretty well now too (this doesn't take into account the screw-ups that had to me frogged or the time spent trying to figure out how the heck the pattern actually works. I totally understand it now, and the k1 p1 motion is automatic. And yet, it takes me an hour per inch!!?? I believe this will need to be somewhere between 21 and 28 inches when it's done. Is it possible that it will take me 30 hours to produce a mini-scarf? (Because I have to make button holes and sew on buttons. And I have to think and figure.) God, no wonder the official ones cost $250 and up!

Well, anyway, it is soft and pretty, and I have hope that it will turn out to be attractive and useful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The hat is in the bag!

The nice thing about a hat is that when you finish it, you don't have to make a matching one! After all the socks and mittens I've been making, that seems like a nice change of pace. (Even sweaters need two sleeves, two fronts, etc. A hat is a great thing!)

And the hat is quite sturdy and attractive. The pine green and moss green go together nicely.

So this is the one-year anniversary of learning to knit. In that time, I've made quite a few items:

*small purse
*eyeglass case
*small shoulder bag
*ribbed scarf
*roll-brim hat
*mittens for me
*hat and scarf for Karen
*mittens for Kristen
*vest for me
*2 pairs of socks for me
*a pair of socks for Kristen
*2 pairs of Fetching fingerless mitts
*mittens for Grandpa (plus a defective mitten)
*scarf for Grandma
*baby sweater for Prudence
*fingerless mitts for Karen
*half of a pair of socks for Sam
*a felted case for knitting supplies
*a small felted bowl

And I taught Kristen to knit!

Today, I started on a scarflette for Kristen in Lush (angora and wool) using moss stitch, which is the same stitch pattern as the sweater I intend to knit for myself in January. But after about 20 rows (31 stitches per row and looking lovely), I lost my place in the pattern. I've ripped back a couple of rows 3 times now, and if I don't get it right this time, it will be time to start over. This is making me wonder if an entire sweater in this stitch is going to be more pain than pleasure. If it's for me, I can live with the occasional screw-up. But Kristen can't. It offends her OCD. And after all, a scarflette is small enough to do it right! So I don't know how this will end. I also don't actually know if I even have enough yarn to knit this, so the whole thing may be an exercise in futility.

But it's Thanksgiving, so I will be thankful for wool and needles and free internet patterns, and knitting friends, and eyes to see, and hands to knit---and people I love, to knit for!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sock Anxiety

I had to put the Smoky Mountain Socks on hold again while I recover from Sock Anxiety. I mended one of my Irish Forest Socks and boldly wore the pair with by Birkenstocks to go sit in Borders and knit. When I got home, there was a matching hole in the second sock. Then i took out a bit of that yarn and tugged on it to see just how fragile it is. It is very fragile. It is just way too easy to break it. And the Smoky Mountain socks are made of the exact same stuff. I wish I'd known before I started these socks, but I didn't. So I still plan to finish them, but I just can't do it right now while I'm in mourning.

So I started a hat to match the Pine Tree Scarf for my Mom. Actually I started it repeatedly. Over and over! I had decided that I would use magic loop knitting to make a hat, thus avoiding the problem of switching to dpns or anything else at the end. I ordered interchangable tips in sizes 7, 8, and 9 and two cords, in 24" and 60" lengths. (Don't ask me how I came up with those numbers because I have no idea. One is too short for the intended purpose and the other is miles too long. But I thought excess length might somehow be a plus.) Excess length is NOT a plus. It's mass confusion. No matter how careful I tried to be, I kept getting the knitting twisted around at the halfway point when I switched needles. There were magic loops looping all over the place, including around my ankle.

I gave up and cast on for the third or fourth time on bamboo size 8 circulars that are 16" in length. 100 stitches, all stockinette all the time. It is finally off and running. I think I will add a band of color halfway along, and make a very simple hat. And recover from sock anxiety as well as magic loopitis. In between grading research papers that all sound pretty much alike. (I need new topics! I can't read about Rosa Parks many more times!!)

Monday, November 12, 2007


The early darkness and slight chill in the air make thoughts turn to warm comforting soup even here in Souther California. Vegetarian Times sent me a recipe for soup that I quickly adapted into a tasty soup for meat-eaters!

Sausage and Bean Soup

1/2 to 1 pound mild Italian sausage (or hot. Or other fresh sausage)
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 carrots, peeled, cut in half, and sliced
2 stalks of celery, cut in half and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
oil (olive, if available), salt and pepper

Open and break up sausage into chunks. Saute in olive oil till it loses pinkness, breaking it up as it cooks. Add onions and garlic and saute. Add vegetables and beans. Add 2 kinds of broth. Simmer for a while, then turn off and allow to sit for an hour, covered. Re-heat to serve. Makes 6+ cups. The flavors improve the longer it sits.
I was knitting sock #2 at Borders this morning, as I tend to do, and a lady about my age or a little older sidled up to me and whispered, "I haven't seen anyone doing that for years!" I don't know if she meant socks in particular or knitting in general. I showed her sock #1 and told her that knitters are all over the internet. She was suitably impressed. Sock #2 is now 3 1/4" long.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

And a sock!

I have finished the first of a pair of socks known as Smoky Mountain Socks which will be for Sam for Christmas. I love the color and I love the 2 x 2 ribbing all the way down the leg, followed by plain stockinette for the whole foot. But I am also living in fear, since the pair I made myself wore right out.

I stitched mine back together just now and put it back on, but all its knitterly perfection is gone. And I fear the Smoky Mountain socks will meet a similar fate. What's odd is that although I used size 3 needles, my stitch gauge is 9 per inch. So I'm not exactly knitting loosely. Maybe what I'm doing is putting the yarn under tension in order to get that tight a gauge with that large a needle size? I don't know.

It's a little daunting to cast on the second sock. Actually I did cast it right on, and then managed to mess it up on the first 4 stitches and pulled it off again. I will do this! They will be nice house socks, if nothing else. As will my Irish Forest Socks.

I do so love Fearless Fibers colorways that I am considering trying her sport weight yarn to knit a pair of socks. That should at least have enough heft to it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


It turns out that no matter how slowly you knit, if you keep on doing it, eventually, you get to the end. And I did! I finished a pair of size large garter stitch mittens last night, in charcoal grey with stripes of scarlet red. All the loose ends are woven in, the holes by the thumb are closed up, and they're ready to go. The second of the pair went much better on a circ held straight. I was trying to use dpns with a cap on one end for the first one, and it was too tight a fit. Maybe that's why they seemed so awkward. But I'm happy now.

I know this would be more interesting, even to me, if I had pictures. Need digital camera!! must be time to finish up the first sock of the Smoky Mountain socks for Sam. I tried it on his foot the other night, and he drew the conclusion that it is for my Dad (since I told him the mittens were) and he commented that he likes the color. I'm a little leery of these socks since my pair knit of the same yarn at the same gauge got a hole already. But probably he will mostly wear them at home. In any case...onward!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I heard that a friend's daughter is collecting unwanted yarn to make mittens for people with cold hands in the area where she ministers. So it was the perfect excuse to go through all my old yarn and clear it out. I separated all the yarn into: send to Atlanta/give to Goodwill/throw in trash. I am only sending yarn that is suitable for mittens or perhaps a scarf or afghan. No eyelash or other frou-frou stuff.

That was put into the Goodwill bag, because I will not be knitting frou-frou any time soon.

And some yarn was either tangled ends or just too small amounts of old acrylic to be useful for much of anything. So I threw it away. Shocking, I know. But it feels kind of liberating.

Now all I have in the house is pretty decent yarn that I bought in the past year. I don't have to have the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that maybe I should knit a scarf out of Jiffy yarn, just because it is there. The Homespun in homey colors? Gone. The skein left from my sport-weight red shawl? Gone. Baby yarn? Gone. I was left with two plastic underbed-type storage containers (which don't actually fit under any of my beds). So I got all my and Kristen's stash of new yarn out of shopping bags and into those.

And then I knit a row on mitten #2.

I also bought Knitting for Peace today, and a very cool Premier edition of a new magazine of crafts in the Waldorf style called Living Crafts. I love their instructions for a felt angel and a felt heart and a snail made of a real shell and molded beeswax. Too bad I'm not still home-schooling a little kid. Too bad I didn't know how to knit when I was!

Anyhow, good day.


I am making all new mittens for my Dad. The wompy mitten will remain a one-of-a-kind mistake. I decided to follow the pattern in Knit Mittens! for a mitten called Lillemor's Mittens. The pattern is rather odd--you knit a square of garter stitch flat, leaving a place for the thumb to be picked up, and then you stitch it up and knit in the round for the fingertip decrease section. I think the original point of it was that it is knit without a single purl stitch. (I added 2 inches of k2p2 ribbing at the cuff however.) Another point of it is that garter stitch makes a denser fabric than stockinette, and dense is good for mittens. I also think the texture of garter stitch makes it easier to hold on to the steering wheel or whatever.

However. Large swaths of garter stitch at a tight gauge (worsted weight on size 5 needles instead of the more typical size 8) is a bit of a bitch to do. In garter stitch, you are entering a purl stitch every time, so you have to go in at a slightly sharper angle than for stockinette. And the size large mittens are more or less enormous--12" long when finished. The flat piece of knitting looks like it could be the back of a baby's sweater! But I pressed on, including stripes of red against a background of charcoal grey (which makes garter stitch not match on both sides, btw).

And I finally got the the decrease section, had the hand all stitched up, had the color change in place--and then somehow I dropped a stitch in the garter section. Did you know that it is very confusing to pick up a dropped stitch in garter stitch? Well it is. Especially when you have two different colors at exactly that point. I picked and pulled at it for about an hour, and the yarn was getting all fuzzy from being poked and prodded so much. I finally managed to get it back on the needle in something like the original configuration, but I see that there is a dent where that stitch was. Oh well. I can live with a dent!

I have now cast on the second mitten and knit an inch and a half or so. I will definitely get them finished in time. But from now on, I'm making mittens in the round in stockinette. I do not love garter stitch. It is not easier than purling. Imagine the Einstein coat--an entire coat in all garter stitch! No thanks!