aswim in knits

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What about the Whitbys?

Yes, I am working on them still. In fact, I'm just about ready to turn the heels.

My dad tried them on this Sunday. Despite the fact that they look impossibly tiny, they fit him quite nicely. The ribbing expands nicely, and he has skinny lil' legs!

I will be at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for a synchronized swim event this weekend. I'm hoping to work on my Whitbys, maybe even finish them, and start my winter hat while travelling. Here's hoping that no TSA people question my Addi Turbos!!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Knit Unto Others

Thanks to Margene and Carole, who organized the Knit Unto Others knitalong, I've started my charity knitting a little early this year. Last year, I knitted up a whack of hats in January. This year I've already got one done.

It's a preemie hat, all of 3.5" across. It is scary to know that there are babies that need hats this small. I'll be sending it to Risa to donate to the NICU where her twins were born.

Speaking of twins, I've started a twin for the hat...

I expect that I should be able to get 3, if not 4, hats out of this ball. Since twins, triplets, and other multiples are more likely to be born prematurely, perhaps these hats will go to a set of twins or triplets!

The yarn I am using is a skein of discontinued Mandarin Petit, 100% cotton, variegated colorway 5200, at a gauge of about 7 sts/in . I cast on 68 stitches, knit a k2 p2 ribbing for 2 inches, knit 2.5 ins in stockinette, and used a round top (divide the top in eighths, and decrease 1 stitch in every eighth, every other round, until only 8 sts remain). I have lots more cotton in this weight, so there may be more preemie hats in the future!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Giving Thanks

In a year when so many have suffered from natural disasters, wars, and disease, I feel extraordinarily lucky. I have food, clothes, a warm place to live, a wonderful husband, and family and friends who love me. We are financially secure enough that my husband is able to be a full time graduate student until he gets his degree this spring. We even have enough left over to support my burgeoning knitting habit, and even to go out to eat and see a movie once in a while. I want for nothing.

I am also thankful for the knitting community I have discovered, both online and in real life, especially those at my MIT SnB.

With that in mind, I've signed up for the Knit Unto Others knitalong. And, since I coach a rather large synchronized swimming team, I had no choice to also sign up for Poor Miss Finch's Esther Williams Synchronized Knitalong!! I'm not sure if an Esther Williams hat suits my personal style, but what a cool pattern! So, I may kill two birds with one stone and knit an Esther Williams hat for charity. I'm also going to try to knit a baby hat or two to send to Risa for the NICU where her adorable twins were born.

Happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New WIP, blue WIP

Here is my new WIP (side bar to be updated later).

Know what it is? Yep! More socks! Specifically the Whitby socks from Knitting on the Road. These are Dad's birthday present. D.O.B., October 23, so I decided I needed to get cracking on these ones soon. I'm hoping to get enough done so that when I see him on Sunday, I can confirm that the leg is the right size. So, lots of holiday knitting!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Red Socks finished!

I finished up Dad's Red Sox socks last night.

Here they are ...

And here they are displayed with Mom's socks ...

Wow, that's a whole lotta red stockinette!!

If you look closely, you can see that I made Dad's pair with afterthought heels. I was afraid I'd get bored and never finish if I had to knit 4 identical socks, so I tried a new technique. Plus, he can be kind of hard on socks, so with an afterthought heel, and a top-down construction, I can replace any heels or toes that wear out.

So, since I am now done with these, I am freed up to move on to other projects. What should I do next?
  • Pick a pattern for the red Cotton Ease that I have stashed to knit a sweater for me?

  • Finish my alpaca lace scarf?

  • Knit some hats and mittens for charity?

  • Koolaid dye some yarn (note to Thom -- please don't drink the Koolaid packets on top of the microwave!)?

  • Start a long-term knit shawl project?

  • Draft a pattern for the hat to match my scarf and gloves from last year?

Any guesses? Stay tuned tomorrow and I'll show you what I've started...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Of Secrets and Socks

Remember my garter stitch secret project, in the color of overcooked asparagus?
Well, it has turned into this ...

It's a baby blanket for a knitting friend who is expecting her first baby next month. I was the ringleader, cheerleader, blocker, and seamer, and I also knit up a square and some edgings. Which explains the lack of new knitting content on this blog in the past week or so. I was busy finishing up the blanket! For more details on the blanket, check out our group blog.

I did manage to get some work done on Dad's Red Sox socks, though. I started them 9 days ago, and I'm probably close to 75% complete. This is thanks to a 2-day training course where I was able to knit through some of the lectures.

The white line running across the middle of the tube is going to be an afterthought heel, also known as a peasant heel. I've never tried this method before, so I'm, a little apprehensive about figuring out how to make the foot just the right length. Because the heel is knitted in afterwards, you can't measure the foot length as you go along. I've read on a couple of other sites that the heel will add 1.5-2 inches to the length. I guess I will just call it 1.75 inches and take the math from there! Just to play it safe, I will give them to him without weaving in the ends of the toe. That way, if I need to make them longer or shorter, I can rip out fairly easily.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New toy, new yarn

I have a new knitting toy! Well, I guess "tool" would be a better word. My dad made this for me --

Does it have a name? I'm not sure what to call it. It's a piece of wood with 2 dowels, spaced 18" apart. When you wind yarn around it, each complete loop is 1 yard long. Perfect for measuring lengths of leftovers, or for reskeining frogged yarn.

The yarn pictured was once a sock, in fact the first sock I ever knit! I didn't like how it fit, so I frogged it. It then got a dunk in a warm soapy bath, and was hung up to dry in my shower, with a weight to remove the kinks. Eventually, I'll make it into a sock again, since the colors complement my wardrobe.

I also have some new yarn ... Louet Sales Opal in the Neptune colorway. Mmmm, 100% merino!

This is for the Whitby socks, from Knitting on the Road. These are for my dad's birthday, at his request. Well, I gave him a little push in the right direction :) I told him I wanted to knit him an accessory for his birthday, and happened to have this book with me. I showed it to him and he liked the Whitby pattern. He requested red yarn, wanting a pair of red socks to wear while watching the Red Sox. Little does he know that he is getting some Red Sox socks for Christmas! I convinced him that red was unavailable, and blue was a good substitute.

In addition to this, I have yarn for 5 more pairs of socks in my stash.

  • Purple/blue handdyed from Mind's Eye Yarn, probably for the Traveler's Stockings from KOTR.

  • Jawoll Jacquard, from Lang, in color 0158. That's the yarn pictured on my new tool above.

  • Some Schaefer Anne in variegated blues and greens. I haven't decided what to do with this one yet. Maybe some Jaywalkers?

  • One skein of Regia Mini-ringel in the Rio colorway. I think I might knit a pair of toe up socks and use the leftover red Silja yarn from my Red Sox socks project for contrasting toes, heels, and rbbing.

  • I bought an extra skein of the neptune Opal shown above, and should have lots of leftovers from the Whitby's. I'm thinking of using it for some socks for me, or maybe for socks for my mother-in-law's Christmas gift.

Better get moving if I want some new socks!

Monday, November 14, 2005

True Love

You know your husband really loves you when he does something dumb (and potentially embarassing) and he says "wait, don't you want to take a photo of this for your blog"?

Case in point, microwaving damp clothing in order to dry it out. My husband swears that he did this all the time when he was a bachelor. I have always thought it was a dumb idea, and NOT what a microwave was designed for.

So, when Thom had no dry pants to wear out on Saturday night, I jokingly suggested that he microwave a pair. Happy to oblige, and to use the microwave for an "unapproved" purpose, he threw a pair of khakis in our little white microwave. Well, here is the result ...

In case you are curious, it smelled a bit like burnt caramel.

In other news, I will be going to a guest lecture by Blue Blog Alison this afternoon. My friend Katie teaches a class on blogging here at MIT and she is hosting Alison as a guest speaker. Cool!

More updates on the Red Sox socks tomorrow. Clearly, the Red Sox will also be hearing Alison speak this afternoon...

Edited to add: You know you have a great job when your boss sends you the following email: "By the way there is a blogging talk at 3.00 pm today in N42 (see events calendar) and it is about knitting! just in case you might want to drop by..."

Thursday, November 10, 2005


... back to normal! I found my knitting groove again.

I took an all-day training course at work yesterday. In preparation for what I hoped could be 7 hours of knitting on Wednesday, I spent some time on Tuesday night casting on for the first sock in the second pair of Red Sox socks.

I decided that for Dad's pair, I was going to use a smaller needle than for Mom's -- I wanted a denser fabric. I also wanted the ribbing to pull in more (relative to the sock leg) than on Mom's socks. Hers were done with ribbing and st stitch both on 3's. For Dad's, I did ribbing on 1's and sock on 2's.

Well, despite a lovely gauge swatch and some not-too-complex maths, I screwed something up. I knit about 3" before I discovered that the ribbed top was too small for his leg. I would have discovered this sooner, but I couldn't really try it on during class, so I had to wait for a break to go to the restroom and check it out. Conveniently, Dad's calf is the same size as mine, so it's easy to measure for fit! I'm guessing that my tension was too tight as I was knitting the first few rounds of the tubular cast on and ribbing.

I put version 1.0 aside, and cast on version 2.0 during lunch break. I used size 2's for both the ribbing and the st st leg. I got about 2.5" into it, took a bathroom break, and decided that yes, it would most likely fit.

Then, I cast on version 2.1 (i.e. the second sock!) and knit about 1" of ribbing last night. I'm bringing it to Stitch n Bitch at lunch today, and hope to finish the ribbing and start the leg.

At this point, I'll put both socks back onto my Magic Loop needle. Maybe then I'll even take a photo!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I have a small case of the knitting blahs. I don' t have a particular project that is holding my attention right now.

I'm still working on the ongoing alpaca scarf pictured here, but that's kind of a side project.

I also have a baby bootie complete but for finishing.

I started the scarf for Da, to match the lobster claw mitts, but I need to make some changes to it. The photo is terrible, but the cables are nice. I think I am going to make one less cable, and possibly work at a slightly larger gauge. I need to think on this ...

I also have a secret project going. But it's kind of boring. Which is probably why I've not mentioned it before. Look, green garter stitch! In the color of overcooked asparagus!

I need to start Dad's Red Socks socks, but haven't settled on toe up or top down construction. Leaning towards top down with an afterthought heel, but need to do some swatching.

I really want to start some socks with this yarn. I swatched last night, on size 2's and got 8 sts/in. But I think I want it tighter. Then I can use it for the Traveler's Stockings in KOTR. I went to Woolcott and they did not have the needles I wanted. So, off to find size 1 Addi Turbos, 40" cord, somewhere else.

And, I have an all-day class to attend tomorrow, so I need something portable and easy. Damn! Hopefully, these blahs are just temporary. Update to follow soon, I hope!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Shooting Mittens

The Christmas gift Shooting Mittens are done! I hear that this style is also known as a lobster claw mitten.

Here is how they look, being modeled by my superstar husband, Thom. (Hey, Thom, if you're reading this, just be glad that I don't ask you to model like Lauren's FHBF!)
DSCN0765-2 DSCN0766

And, here they are, posed restfully against my $10 faux-pashmina-as-artistic backdrop.

In answer to a question from my comments, I used the Magic Loop technique for these mittens, as I do for many small items knitted circularly. For the uninitiated, the ML method uses a long circular needle to knit small circumference items. While a google search might yield some directions, the best instructions I found were in the Fiber Trends Magic Loop booklet (click for a photo of the technique, too).

I also used the ML technique on my Broadripple socks. I just realized that I never posted a photo of the finished socks laying flat, so here it is...
(Click for larger, if you want). The socks are more orange in real life -- a nice rich coral color.

I knitted these using the ML technique, 2 socks at once, so that I could be sure they were identical. I had to readjust the stitches, with the aid of stitch holders, as I turned the heel. If I had been less impatient, I'm sure I could have set up the socks so that I didn't have to move them around. Even so, I still love this technique, as I can finish both at the same time and avoid "Second Sock Syndrome".

I also knitted both shooting mittens at the same time, with the exception of the thumb/single finger parts, as there was just too much extra fabric and hanging yarn and I got annoyed when I had two on the needles together!

Finally, here are the project specs for the mittens:

Project: Shooting mittens, aka Lobster Claw Mitts

Recipient: My F-I-L, for Christmas 2005 (to match the hat from Christmas 2004).

Pattern: My own, based on F-I-L's request for a mitten with a detached first finger.
I use a combination of references as a basis for the sizing. The mitten patterns in the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and the Nancy Lindberg "Fittin' Mittens" pattern helped me with the sizing. I got the ribbing pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I used my husband's hands, which are just a bit smaller than my F-I-L's hands, to check as I went.

Yarn: Cascade 220 in navy and heathery peacock blue. Exact colors not available, as the ballbands are, once again, nowhere near the computer!

Gauge: 6 sts/in, for maximum wind and moisture blocking power!

Needles: Size 5 Addi Turbos. What else?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mittens in progress

I joined Sandy's Warm Hands mitten knit-along. I am in the proces of making a pair of mittens for my F-I-L for Christmas.

Last year I made him got a hat, and he's talked about how great the hat is for several months now. He dropped some hints that he'd like a pair of mittens this year. "You know, I could really use a pair of mittens too. Not just regular ones, but shooting mittens. You know, the ones where you've got a thumb, a finger, and then the rest of the mitten" Picture this with the appropriate finger motions that one would use to describe such a pair of mittens.

So, I'm adapting a basic mitten/glove construction to make "shooting mittens". So far, I'm up to the thumb gussets...

I am making these (mostly) using the 2-at-once method of Magic Looping. Just one problem -- I only have a 32" Addi in the size I needed. I'm fine when just working the hand, but 2 mittens with 2 complete gussets was too much for my short needle to handle. So, I did one thumb gusset first, and now I'm working on the second. Once finished, I'll put both on the needle again and finish the mitten tops together.

I love doing things 2-at-once whenever possible. See, I'm slightly compulsive about everything being perfectly symmetrical. I WILL know if one glove has one more row than the other, or if my gauge changed slightly from one mitten to the next, and it WILL drive me crazy. So, by doing both at once, I avoid those problems and I'm a much happier knitter :)

Here's a close up of the rib pattern. It's a mock cable alternating with something called a cross-stitch rib. I got it from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker.

The rib has stitches worked on the wrong side rows. I wanted to knit the cuffs in the round, but I can't figure out if it is possible to work those stitches on the right side rows. To made the rib, you work those stitches on the wrong-side rows as follows: purl into the second stitch on the needle, then into the first, then drop them off together. I couldn't see how to alter the stitch so that I could knit in the round. So, I knit the cuffs flat and will seam them when finished.

I feel like I barely started these, yet have made good progress, even considering that I am knitting them with Casccade 200 at a very tight 6 sts/in. Hopefully, they will be done soon, and one more Christmas gift will be checked off the list!