Saturday, July 26, 2008


This blog started with mittens almost 2 years ago, and I'm back to mittens again. The first pair I made were for Kristen, just a few weeks after I had learned to knit, and while successful, they've seen a lot of action over 2 Chicago winters. So I am working on a new pair for her, this time with a bit more style than simple variegation.

Now that I've learned the magic trick of the Invisible Make One (thank you Techknitter), I felt emboldened to do a mitten with a thumb gusset, rather than a peasant thumb. And I wanted to put an attractive cable up the back of the hand. I am using the specs from Ann Budd's "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns." The thumb gusset is coming along fine.

For the cable, I decided to use Barbara Walker's Close Braid Cable. But it turns out that changing from cables knit flat and cables knit in the round requires a bit of thinking. The set up row is on the wrong side, so that means I had to change every knit into a purl and vice versa. So I did that, but it still wasn't right. What could be wrong? Well, this particular cable is not symmetrical right to left, so I also had to reverse the order. Ok, got that worked out. And then the WS rows had to be converted from knit the purls to knit the knits. And it worked! What I have deduced is that in knitting a cable in the round, you will *always* knit previously knit stitches and purl previously purled stitches. At least on cables that look like ribbing that's been intertwined. (If there's seed stitch in there somewhere or something, it might be different.

The yarn I'm using is Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, 50/50 wool/alpaca mix that is very energetic and bouncy. The color is either called Pea Soup or Pesto. Actually I think it's called Pea Soup, but I bought a skein (or less!) from a woman on Ravelry, and she claimed it was called Pesto, which I like the sound of better. Size 6 needles, magic loop. This is really fun! I hope I can make the second to match!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Snowflake Ear Warmer

I created this pattern by combining ideas from a vintage pattern called Hatband from here:
with a basic lace pattern called "Snowflake Eyelet" from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker.

The yarn I used is Cashmere Elite from Karabella Yarns. 100% cashmere. 25 grams, 82 yards (I used 71 yards of it.) I bought this at L'Atelier in Redondo Beach Ca for $26.50 a few weeks ago. The gauge given on the ball is 22 stitches per 4"/10cm on US 5~6 needles (3.75~4 mm) so dk weight. It could be done in a light worsted as well. Use something really soft because it will be tied up under your chin. My finished size is 4 1/2" wide, on 27 stitches. A little narrower or wider would still work.

So here's how I proceeded:

CO 3 stitches in size 5 dpn. Knit 12" of i-cord. (K3, slide to other end without turning and K3 again, continue till 12" long.)

Make 1 stitch using the Invisible Make 1 technique (explained at You lift up a single stitch from the row below, without twisting it and knit into it.

Now you have 4 stitches on the needle. Switch to size 6 straight needles.
Kfb in each stitch across. (=8 stitches). Turn and purl across.
Kfb in each stitch again (=16 stitches). Turn and purl across
K3 kfb in the next 10 stitches K3 (The 10 stitches have become 20, and you now have 26 stitches on the needle.)
K3 purl 20 K3
K3 K9 k1fb k10 K3 (You are creating a 3 stitch garter stitch border and within that border you have now increased from 20 to 21 stitches. Total stitches on the needle = 27.)

K 2 rows to create a purled line across.

K3 purl 21 K3
Begin lace pattern: (Note: I am including the 3 stitch garter border on both sides here.)

Row 2 (= first front side) K3 K4 ssk* yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k4 k3
Row 3 and all wrong side rows: K3 purl 21 K3
Row 4: K3 K5 yo slip2knit1p2sso** yo k5 yo slip2knit1p2sso yo k5 k3
Row 6: K3 K4 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k4 k3 (same as row 2)
Row 8: K3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3
Row 10: K3 K1 yo slip2knit1p2sso yo k5 yo slip2knit1p2sso yo k5 yo slip2knit1p2sso yo k1 k3
Row 12: K3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3 ssk yo k1 yo k2tog k3
(Back to row 1, which is K3 purl 21 K3)

*ssk looks best done as follows: slip 1 knitwise (as if to knit) slip 1 purlwise. Insert left needle into front of slipped stitches and knit.

**slip2knit1p2sso creates a single stitch out of 3. Insert needle into 2 stitches as if to k2tog, but simply slip them to the right needle. Knit the next stitch on the left needle. Slip the 2 slipped stitches off the end of the needle.

Continue in pattern until band is 16" from the i-cord (measure head from bottom of earlobe to bottom of earlobe. The lace section should be this long.)

End lace section with row 12. Then:
Row 1: K3 purl 21 k3 (27 stitches)
Row 2: Knit across
Row 3: Knit across on WS
Row 4: K3 ssk K17 k2tog k3 (=25 stitches remain)
Row 5: K3 purl 19 K3
Row 6: K3 ssk k15 k2tog k3(= 23 stitches remain)
Row 7: K3 purl 17 k3
Row 8: K3 (ssk 4 times) k1 (k2tog 4 times) K3 (= 15 stitches remain)
Row 9: Knit 15
Row 10: K3 (ssk 2 times) k1 (k2tog 2 times) K3 (=11 stitches remain)
Row 11: Knit 11
Row 12: K1 (ssk 2 times) k1 (k2tog 2 times) K1 (=7 stitches remain)
Row 13: Knit 7
Row 14: K1 ssk k1 k2tog k1 (=5 stitches remain)
Row 15: Ssk k k3tog (=3 stitches remain)
Transfer 3 remaining stitches to size 5 dpn and knit as i-cord till cord is 12" long. Bind off and weave end in.

If you live in a cold climate, this is something useful that can be made from a single ball of cashmere or (God help us!) qiviut.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Linguine for Supper

I sort of combined several existing recipes to come up with a yummy meal tonight:

Linguine with Shrimp and Asparagus

3/4 lb ~ 1 lb. linguine
3/4 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 2" lengths
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic (1 clove)
1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste

Cook linguine (about 10 minutes after water boils.) Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Meanwhile, in skillet, heat oil and butter. Saute asparagus and a sprinkle of salt, covered, till asparagus begins to brown slightly. Add shrimp and cook till pink. Add garlic and cook till brown. Add a little pasta water. Turn off heat and add parmesan. Place linguine on plates and ladle shrimp and asparagus sauce over it. Sprinkle with more cheese and black or red pepper flakes. Serves 3~4 people.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There is no project so easy...

that I cannot find a way to screw it up!

A month or two ago, I found some lovely handspun wool for sale at, and when it came, the spinner also included a photo of the sheep who had produced it!

This is a sheep named April, who lives at Grand View Farm in Vermont, and whose owner spun a lovely earthy natural colored 2-ply from her fleece and sold it to me!

So I debated for a while what to do with it and finally decided that it was just the right amount for a handy little bag to take on walks to hold keys and some cash or whatever.

So I cast on 56 stitches and knit in the round on size 9 needles till it was about the right length. So far so good. But then I wanted i-cord for the strap and a fold-over flap. But did I have enough left? Kristen and I started on opposite ends of the same skein and she knit i-cord while I knit the flap. When the cord was the right length, I knew how much I had left, and bound off with literally 2 " of yarn leftover. Kristen sewed in the i-cord tightly, and we took a look at the end product, and was wrong! The flap was too short and I had managed to put some stockinette into what was supposed to be garter stitch! (How the heck did that happen!) Plus, the edging of the inside was supposed to have been garter stitch done in the round, but by mistake I had done reverse stockinette, and it didn't behave all nice and firm like garter stitch would have done.

So after knitting in haste, I had time to repent at leisure, and decided to do it over. It took an hour to pick out the stitches that held the i-cord in place and to undo the cast-off. And then I tried again, this time decreasing to a triangular flap. I had to re-do parts of that a few times too, but in the end, success! (though Kristen thinks the flap looks disturbingly like a thong, but we won't go there. The idea of this very wooly wool as a thong is too horrible to contemplate!)

Now back to the regularly scheduled lace knitting! The thing is, I want a simple mindless project to alternate with the attention-needing lace, but as soon as I start a mindless project, I spend all my time on it till it's done, and then all I have left to knit is lace!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Japanese Feather Shawl

I was feeling so cocky after finishing my Branching Out scarf that I immediately cast on with laceweight yarn for a stole (or maybe wide scarf) in the Japanese Feather pattern.

It's 56 stitches across and 28 rows to complete each repeat. I got to row 22 last night (with bleary eyes and a couple of mistakes) and this morning managed to ball it all up, so I ripped it all the way out and started over again. I finally made it to row 28 just before dinner. Will I survive this? Time will tell!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I branched out! :-)

I finished the Branching Out lace scarf! I’m really pleased with myself that I persevered with this. I gave it a quick dunk into Eucalan and pinned it out on a dressmaker’s board on the patio, but I see now that if I go any further in lace knitting, I will want to own a blocking board and maybe even wires, because even this small thing grew a lot and the board isn’t really big enough to do it justice.


There is one major error in my knitting, but let that be a testimony to my own imperfection! I am delighted with my first real lace! I am inspired to try bigger and scarier things!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kristen's bento

Kristen has been making herself a lovely bento almost every day for lunch, and today I was home to capture a picture of it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And matching booties

I cobbled together the Lion Brand toddler socks pattern (which uses a short-row heel) with Grandmother Owl’s Really Good Booties, and then tacked on my own pattern for a leaf. The heel didn’t come out quite right (I also used various instructions for short rows, none of which I completely understood), so there are holes. But at least they all line up, which is pretty much the definition of a pattern. I do love this leaf. I also love the pointy little toes, achieved by simply stopping at 8 stitches and gathering the stitches together like a mitten, instead of Kitchener-stitching like socks.

All in all, I am happy.