Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Knits

Kristen bought this yarn for me in Dublin Ireland and brought it home for my Christmas gift. It was produced in Ireland--85% wool and 15% angora. It took me a few tries to work out the gauge, but I have started on a pair of mittens to wear in Maine this winter. I actually finished this mitten tonight, and will start mitten #2 tomorrow.

I made Kristen a pair of Fuzzy Feet in lovely Moss Heather color of Patons Classic Wool, and just got them felted in time to put them under the Christmas tree still all damp. But they finally dried, and then we thought about something to make them snug and warmer around the ankles. So I knit a pair of 3" cuffs on 56 stitches (2 x 2 rib) and whip-stitched them in. They are really elfin and cozy now. I might go back and do the same for Sam's pair. And eventually I will have to make a pair for myself, but I'm really tired of knitting them after making 4!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There has been knitting

A wash cloth for Kristen in mercerized cotton, for her new apartment. Probably for use in the shower rather than the kitchen.

Fuzzy feet for Sam. Above you see a before and after shot, and then the pair of them after felting. I used Patons Merino for these as well, and it only takes one skein to make a women's medium pair, which happens to also fit Sam's feet. They take longer than expected to knit, and knitting loosely on size 11's is a pain, but once they felt up, it's so much fun! They're warm and soft and cozy and I hope he will like them. I am considering knitting unfelted 2x2 ribbing cuffs and stitching it inside, if they have a tendency to come off off or leave cold ankles. Now I have to knit a pair for Kristen and me as well!
A sweater for my mother, which may or may not be a little small for her. But I was quite happy with this, knit out of 4 skeins of Patons Merino, using a pattern from Custom Knits called the Round Yoke Cardigan. You knit the entire body, bottom up, then knit two tubes for sleeves, cuff up, adding increases as you go, and then you connect the parts up and knit the shoulder section all in one piece. This was mailed off to Maine this week, with $200 insurance on it!

And my favorite knitting, a pair of socks for myself in Patons Kroy stripes. Note that that stripes do not and can not match, because the stripe sequence is going in opposite directions! Fraternal rather than identical twins. I have enjoyed the first pair of socks I ever made, which used this same brand of yarn and has held up for 2 years, so I think these will be keepers. I liked them so much that I already bought another 2 skeins in a slightly different colorway to make one more pair. This is great yarn!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Attention Shoppers!

I don't participate in Black Friday sales. But I did happen to be at the mall at 9 am on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (I was waiting for the yarn store to open at 10 am). After opening at some ungodly half-past-dark hour on Friday, the mall opened at 8 am on Saturday. But to my surprise, the place was almost deserted. I wandered around, and somehow nothing appealed to me. Today I was at Target on Saturday afternoon, and again it seemed rather quiet.

It struck me that there is a psychology to shopping--that you need to build up a certain kind of energy in order to want to buy things. And while people might actually have less money at the moment, they also lack that energy. Buying things, spending money, suddenly just feels distasteful. The sense of fun is not there. It feels like a burden.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Two years ago, on Thanksgiving weekend, the first year Kristen was away at school, I taught myself to knit. Today, she's even further away, all the way in Wales at the moment. She got herself there from Rome, and from there she'll go to Dublin and then back to Rome and then next weekend to Glasgow, and after that, she'll be home! She can travel the world without me, on her own, making careful plans and looking out for herself.

And I can knit better than I ever imagined two years ago. Today I finished a cardigan I've been working on for my mother. I soaked it and blocked it, stretching it out and stuffing it with many plastic bags, and maybe it will work out after all. It will probably be a week before it's dry and I can see if the size is big enough. But it's a pretty good looking cardigan.

And of course, once that was done--I had no knitting to do! Well, I have two lace scarfs, but they require good light and good eyes and concentration, and I wanted easy tv knitting. So I cast on a pair of socks.

Tomorrow I might go to Twist and try to buy yarn for a sweater for Kristen.

I am thankful for my life. For my husband, who is healthy, for my home, which is comfortable, for my job, which is just the right amount of challenging, for my body, which is still functional. I took a walk at the beach this morning, and I can walk, and it's in the 60s here, and it was sunny and the water was sapphire blue. I am thankful for this life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I don't have anything exciting to post, but I am tired of looking at the Boston Maki, so I will update my knitting adventures. So a few weeks ago I went to a fiber festival at Torrance rec. I picked up a bag of odds and ends of tapestry yarn that I thought would be useful for trying fair isle, since you often need small amounts of a lot of different colors for that. And I also bought a skein of Malabrigo Laceweight.

I had to take the laceweight back to the store it came from in order to wind it into a ball, and that shop is fabulous. It's called Twist, in Manhattan Beach, and one thing leads to another, so I ended up not only winding my skein into a ball but also buying 2 skeins of Frog Tree merino yarn.

So I got a bad case of startitis. I started a pair of mittens in color work with the odds and ends. (That will probably be frogged, but it's an interesting experiment.

And I started (and now finished) a scarf for Sam out of the Frog Tree (or is it Tree Frog?) That is the softest yarn in the world! I used it in a pattern that calls for cashmere, and I swear this is as soft and warm as cashmere. A lovely dark charcoal, all curled up in a scarf now.

And I cast on and got started on a lace scarf in the malabrigo. It's really fine and takes a lot of care to work with. You just can't zoom along with yarn as thin as spiderwebs! But it's very lovely.

And then there's the sweater for my mother--named Proud as a Peacock. Well I got the 2 arms done and I joined all the parts up and made some progress on the round yoke. But I have severe doubts about the whole thing. The fabric is really dense. And the sleeves are really narrow. And the whole thing seems way too small for an adult woman of any size. It looks, at the moment, like a really sturdy sweater for a 6 year old. What to do? I might as well press on and finish it, I think. Maybe when I give it a soak and block it, it will loosen up and grow?? It's more trouble to frog the whole thing now than to just keep going. I am probably within a week or 2 of finishing it.

And yesterday I bought sock yarn, like the one I used in my first pair of socks. Those socks have been so sturdy and wearable, and all the fancy-dancy sock yarn I have gotten since then has let me down. So if I finish the sweater, I will need something easy to knit, when I'm not knitting the two lace scarfs I have on the needles, and that would be socks!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Boston Maki

It seemed like a good time to have one last cool summery dish, while the weather is still surprisingly warm. So we made what we know as Boston Maki, which is named for Boston Lettuce.

This is the ingredients, to be hand-rolled into cone-shaped sushi.

And here, borrowed from elsewhere, is what the finished product looks like. I couldn't take any pictures of our own, because we ate them too fast! :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alpaca Mittens

Bulky yarn, soft as silk, 4 stitches per inch. What's not to love?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lovely dishcloth

I thought that knitting a dishcloth was the last thing I would ever want to do. And I may never be willing to actually use this to scrape lasagna off a plate. But it turns out that dishcloths are nice in-between projects, and a good chance to try something different.

I am madly in love with this dishcloth, actually! The color is better than this picture shows. It is mercerized cotton and has a nice sheen to it. And the stitch pattern is the kind I like best: simple stitching that give sunexpectedly complex-looking results.

This is:

Row 1: knit
Row 2: knit
Row 3: K2, then k1p1 across, ending with K2
Row 4: K2, then k1p1 across, ending with K2

How does that make all this complex loveliness? I don't know. But I love it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The hat lives!

Yeah, I finished my cabled hat named Gretel. I think it looks, well, better than roll brim hats look on me! And the color is good with my skin tone, so that helps. And with all the fancy-dancy cable action going on, it might distract the mind from the actual head beneath it.So I am satisfied. This was a challenging but satisfying knit. The pattern was detailed and if not exactly easy, at least lucid.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hansel and Gretel

Well, just Gretel, actually.

A hat pattern named Gretel.

I'm probably 2/3 of the way through with this, and it's really a pleasure to knit. Interesting cables, but not too complicated. (meaning I haven't royally screwed it up yet, knock wood!) What is a little disconcerting is that 96 stitches have been increased to 192 stitches, which is more like a sweater in circumference than a simple little hat. I just tumbled to the fact that I can do it simply in the round on 24" circs instead of magic looping it. That makes it a bit less fiddley.

I sincerely hope that this will be a hat that looks sensible on me. Close-fitting hats look dorky on me. I'm doing this in the slouchiest size, using yarn left over from the Minimalist sweater. And there should be enough left to also make a pair of matching hand-warmers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Portable Pocket Pattern

1 skein chunky wool yarn (shown with Araucania Nature Wool Chunky. (131 yards to 100 grams. Used 80-100 yards.)
Size 9 dpns (double-pointed needles. Size 9, 16" circular needle, optional.)

CO 56 stitches on 16" size 9 needle (or dpns)

Join, being careful not to twist stitches.
Knit all stitches until bag measures 6" from cast on edge. (If you want a garter stitch border at the bottom, purl first row after long-tail cast on, then knit 1 row, and repeat this pattern for 6 rows.)
When bag is 6" long, Knit 28, Purl 28 , placing marker at beginning and end of purl section.
On the following round, Knit 56.
Repeat these two rounds 2 more times (total of 3 rows of purls and 3 rows of knits, making 3 garter ridges.
On the following round, Knit 28 stitches. Bind Off the 28 stitches in the garter section, using a K1 P1 bind off for a neater edge. (K 1 P 1, pass 1st stitch over, K 1 pass over, P1 pass over, etc.)

Continue knitting the flap as flat knitting. Decrease as follows:

On Right Side rows, ssk, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog. (A neater ssk is to slip 1 st knitwise, slip 2nd stitch purlwise, then knit them together.)

On Wrong Side rows knit all stitches, no decrease. (Flap is done in garter stitch, which will lie flat.)

Continue the two rows above until 2 stitches remain. K2tog and end off, leaving a long tail.
Sew Button on. Use the long tail at the end of the flap to crochet a single crochet loop to fit button. Stitch bottom of bag closed.


On size 9 dpn, CO 3 stitches. Work i-cord for approximately 38", or to desired length, and bind off. Keep in mind that i-cord is stretchy and may get longer in use. You may want to pin it in place and try using the bag a few times before deciding on the length. If i-cord becomes too long, you can felt it or simply remove some of the stitches. Sew handle in place.

(How to knit I-cord: Knit 3, slide stitches to opposite end of dpn without turning, and knit 3. Repeat till i-cord is desired length.)

Good Times

Kristen has only one more week of work, and after that she has 10 days off before she leaves for Italy. So our time together is starting to seem short. And in honor of that, we are trying to make sure that we eat all her favorites, things that she will miss when she's gone.

Tonight, that meant:

Spinach-Feta Crostini

1 16 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 cup (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
2 french baguettes (loaves of French bread)

Combine all ingredients except bread and mix together in a large bowl.
Slice bread on the diagonal. Spread slices of bread on cookie sheets and turn oven on to broil. While broiler heats, place bread in the oven to warm. Spoon heaping Tablespoon of mixture on each slice of bread. Toast under broiler, watching carefully, just till lightly browned.

This is a great party food, but we like it as a meal on special occasions, with Buffalo chicken wings on the side. Today, we got those at Little Caesar's, and it was a yummy combination.

This morning we went to the Torrance Farmers Market and split a tamale and a Thai chicken stick. We brought home fresh plums and figs as well as our favorite Shepherd's bread. Then we went to Kohl's and Kristen got 2 new tops (size medium!) and we looked at digital cameras at Circuit City. After we got home Kristen ordered the camera and accessories online. Her big camera is great, but not really suited to quick snapshots while traveling.

This afternoon, I worked on the green wool shoulder bag I'm making. This is so simple, but I still had to rip back a couple of times. But it should be done soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Kristen's owl

So Kristen's good friend in Chicago loves owls, and Kristen came across a pattern for a knit one here:

We had 3 shades of wool yarn in the stash and in 2 days of steady work, she produced this little cutie:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Hat!

This hat was one of the more technically challenging, yet satisfying projects I've attempted. And now Kristen has matching mittens and hat and small scarf for next winter in Chicago.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Photographic evidence

I have tons of pictures of my knitting, and a fair number of pictures of Kristen, but almost no evidence that my husband also inhabits this household. But he does, and today, I managed to get him to stand still for a few pictures.

Looking fine, Sammy!

And a couple of family pics:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hat and a few pictures of Kristen

I'm working on a hat for Kristen called Koolhaas, designed by Brooklyn Tweed. the stitch pattern is interesting and attractive, but if you make a mistake, it's very difficult to figure out how to fix it. So I had to rip back the first 8 rows of the pattern once and start over from the ribbing. But at this point I've got the ribbing and 2 repeats of the pattern done and it's looking pretty good. I love this yarn!
And while I'm here, let me post a few recent pictures of Kristen. She went to a murder mystery party at a friend's house last weekend and they dresses up like the 1930s.

Also, the dog has been restored to its rightful owner, but it was a good experience having her here for a week.