aswim in knits

Friday, April 28, 2006

Too cute

I had dinner with a friend and her baby on Wednesday. This is Baby K, recipient of the lacy baby blanket from last fall.

This is an old photo -- from St. Patrick's Day. Look, he's wearing one of the hats that I made him! That, in combination with this means that he is destined to get more handknits!! What's your favorite sweater, etc. for a baby boy?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bed socks for Boss Lady

My boss is a very direct person. It's great -- you always know where you stand with her. When she was in my office earlier this week, she saw my current socks in progress. She announced that she was putting in a request for me to knit her a pair of soft, warm bed socks for her Christmas gift next year. In blue, to match her bedding. And that I should feel free to deliver them earlier if I did not want to wait until Christmas.

Well, when your boss encourages you to attend knit-blogger events on company time, how can you resist a request like that??

Here's the pattern I found ...

These are Gwendolyn's Bed Slippers, made in Lorna's Laces Angel. They even have a little ribbon on the top, just like Boss Lady described in her vision of the perfect bed socks.* I'm not sure if I will be able to find this yarn in a color I like. This is the yarn description from LL's website:

Material: 70% Angora, 30% Lambswool
Description: Soft and fuzzy
Yardage: 50
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Needle Size: 7
Gauge: 5 sts/in

Does anyone have any good recommendations for a substitute? I want something that will be warm and soft, and in a light or medium blue.

* When I sent her the photo for her approval, she printed it out and hung it in her office. She's not kidding around when she says she wants some socks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Fountain Lace beginnings

Thanks for all your kind words about the Jaywalkers I showed on Monday. Wait another day or two and I'll show you the cute packaging that I have planned for them!

I have some more socks in progress, for me this time. But they're boring, so no pix yet. I also started a sweater project, here at Knitted Accessories R Us. This is the Classic Elite Fountain Lace Cardigan that I first saw at JoFrog's blog.*
The pattern is written for Classic Elite Bam Boo, but I am substituting some Cotton Ease from my stash. I'm able to get stitch gauge, but I'm off on row gauge (26 vs 32 rows per 4 inches). So, I'm going to have to change the sleeve shaping and possibly also the armhole/sleeve cap shaping.

I also decided to change the edging to seed stitch rather than the seed stitch rib in the pattern ... I didn't think that the rib looked finished enough for my tastes. I'm going to work the fronts with the buttonbands worked simultaneously, also in seed stitch. Oh yeah, and I'll make it a v-neck too.

Here's the progress on the back so far. The color is pretty true on my monitor, although maybe just a bit brighter than in reality...

For some reason, I can't seem to "get" this lace pattern, and I need to use the chart on every "working" row. Any tips on how to learn lace patterns? Usually, I'm fine, but this one isn't intuitive for me. The yo's make sense, but I can't keep track of where the ssk and k2togs belong.

* Johanna is fantastic! I called her at the store, and she put the pattern aside for me, and generally provided great customer service (ahem, some alpaca went home with me as a result). And, she is totally sweet and nice, too!

Sunday, April 23, 2006


The Sockapaloooza socks are done! (Ok, they were done last week, but I never had time to post about them...) Unless you have been away from your internet connection for the past year, you'll know that these are the Jaywalker socks that everyone and their uncle has been knitting.

Here's how they look, in all their glory!!
(Why yes, my office plants DO like to impersonate tropical jungle foliage...)

And now for a tour of the Sockapaloooza component sock parts ...

Just because I am obsessive to the point where I should be locked up a bit of a perfectionist who did not want to run out of yarn, I started at the toe, using Natalia's toe-up version of the pattern. Every sock needs a good toe. (This one is a short-row toe, à la Wendy.)
I liked the toes so much, I used a short row heel too. Double wrapped for extra hole-reduction. The toe-up gusset thing just wasn't doing it for me in this pattern. Moving along, we have the leg. I was getting kind of bored by this point . Cara, how do you maintain your stamina?? Luckily, I was able to do a good chunk of the legs while visiting with family and friends, so things moved along quickly. Finally, the ribbing and the cast-off. I'm partial to Elizabeth Zimmerman's stretchy sewn cast off. And, the completed product, minus the feet ... This is what I had left for yarn when I finished ... the ball on the right is the scraps leftover from weaving in the ends. The card on the left has several yards that I reserved to send to my pal in case she ever needs to mend anything. (Single sock used for size comparison). And, one last shot of me modelling them. Yes, I did wash them after this!!!
This was a fun pair of socks to knit. The pattern was amusing, but simple enough to work on the go. And, I like how the variegated yarn looked in the zig-zags.

Project specs:

Pattern: Jaywalker socks (second size)

Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in color 106.

Needles: Addi Turbos, size 1, using 2-at-once Magic Loop technique

Gauge: About 8 sts/in

Modifications: Worked the pattern toe-up. Short-row heel instead of heel flap and gusset.

Comments: I hope this fits my pal!! Her feet are about the same length as mine, which is why I can model them. However, her feet are also wider than mine -- 9.5" circumference as opposed to my 8.25" -- so the socks are a bit large around my foot. The legs are also a bit looser than I would wear them, but I like my socks tighter than most. I think these legs should fit anyone with an average-ish leg. Thanks, Alison, for organizing Sockapaloooza! And thanks to my sock sister Ashley for keeping track of a bunch of us!

Friday, April 21, 2006

more drive-by blogging

I'm taking an abbreviated lunch hour. I have a meeting in 24 minutes. How much can I blog before then??

We saw the Yarn Harlot last night.
Edited to add: And we got our 15 minutes of fame...

This is 3/4 of us (ChrisQ had to go see a plumber about a catastrophic leak, and Jessica was chatting with someone else, I think.)
And here are more of us with Ms. YH herself. Note to Stephanie: You may think you are short, but Christine is shorter.
You may notice that I am wearing my Sitcom Chic. You may also recall that until now, there are no FO pics in existence. In fact, this is the last time I talked about it ... yeah, July 24 -- 9 months ago ....

That's because I finished the sweater last summer, except for sewing the ribbon to the inside front edges. I found the right color ribbon, and it sat around for a looooong time. Until Wednesday night, when I decided that I had to wear the sweater on Thursday and needed to sew in the ribbons.

To make a long story short, after 2 hours of futzing around, I had the ribbons in, and was very happy with the finished product.
This is the ribbon ...
With no sign of it showing through on the front...

Drive-by blogging officially completed. About those Jaywalkers ... we'll get to them later :)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

drive-by blogging

I've been too busy to create a proper post about my Jaywalkers. Tomorrow, I hope! In the meantime ...

1) I got my "apology" Ultramerino 4 from Artyarns. Check it out!

2) Help! I've fallen! And I may have swiped my credit card on the way down!

3) I started a new pair of socks. Check out their cute lil' picot edges. I think I'm in love. (Ignore the paperclip. It's just there to keep the edge from rolling in the photo.)
(They're done in Jawoll Jacquard, in case you are curious...)

I started this because I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot this afternoon and I needed some stockinette knitting. I expect to laugh too loudly to concentrate on much more than that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Looking back, looking ahead

Looking back:

I accomplished a good bit of charity knitting for 40 Days for Others. Here is a quick round-up...

The top 4 hats are for Afghans for Afghans' newborn knits drive, as are the 2 pairs of baby socks. (I'd like to knit up 2 more pairs of socks before mailing ... must mail by April 28.)

The bottom 2 hats, and matching mittens, are going to the Dulaan project.

And, here are the pink squares that I've finished for the Warming Grace project.

Cynthia is now accepting squares of all colors to sew into blankets for kids with cancer. Check out her site for specifics. I think after 9 squares, I am done :)

Looking forward:

Completed Sockapaloooza socks. More details -- and more photos -- to come when I can devote the time to a proper post.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Warming Grace

After my big stash review, I discovered a lot of bits of pink yarn leftover from other projects. I decided to make some squares for the Warming Grace blanket project.
Here's what I've got so far ... 5 complete, and one more to finish. From back to front:
1) scraps of Lamb's Pride and Reynold's Blizzard.
2) Bernat Cotton Tots
3) Tahki Cotton Classic
4) more Blizzard
5) more Cotton Classic
6) Knitpicks Shine

Now, before you remind me that the Blizzard has some acrylic content in it ... I already know that! I emailed Cynthia and she said that as long as I label them as such, she thought that she could use them in another blanket for someone who does not have any sensitivity to acrylic.

Here is another photo, since the Mafia was of the firm opinion that the striped square should go in front -- she picked up the squares and reorganized them to her satisfaction. Hey, they don't call her "The Mafia" for nothing!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

gratuitous cat photo

It seems that in order to be taken seriously as true knit blogger, every knitter should own a cat, ideally a cute one who says witty things.

Well, I don't own a cat, or any other pet. So, I'm borrowing a photo of Rockett, my brother's cat, reclining on a pillow I made with fabric that I brought home from a trip to Nigeria (the blue and yellow pillow).

Man, I wish I could go stretch out in a sunny spot on the couch too!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sockapaloooza progress

I've been working on my Sockapaloooza socks whenever I have a chance. They're moving along pretty well, once I figured out what to do about the heel.

I started the heel using the toe-up pattern directions, which call for a heel flap (working the gusset part first), but the proportions were not coming out right. So, I ripped back to the start of the gusset, and reknit the foot to work a short-row heel.

I think I made the right decision, since I like how these look. It took a while to get the heels figured out, though. After I tore out the heel flap version, I worked the short row heels, which were good. But, when I started to knit around for the leg, I had a HUGE hole at one side of the heel.

I ripped back to the heel, but ended up dropping some of the short-row wraps, and couldn't figure out how to pick them up properly. I ended up ripping out the whole heel and starting over, since every time i tried to fix something, I made another mistake. Finally, I figured out how to pick up stitches to close the gap well enough, and moved on to the legs.

That's me modeling one of the socks above. The sock is too wide on me, which is a good thing. My feet measure 8" around the ball of the foot, while my pal's are 9.5". I think we both wear a size 8 1/2 shoe, though. Her foot length measures 9.75" -- depending on which chart you read, that's either an 8 or an 8 1/2. So, the length is fine on me, and should be ok for her too, I hope.

The leg is a little looser than I would like. But, I like my socks tight. And, I don't know how wide my pal's ankles and legs are likely to be. I'm hoping that with a generous amount of ribbing on the top, these socks will stay up nicely on my pal's legs.

You might remember that I was afraid of running out of yarn on these socks. I'm happy to report that I don't expect that to happen now.

I have about 12 grams of yarn left for each sock, out of 46. The picture above shows 32 rounds of pattern worked above the short-row heel. I knit the first 16 rounds, measured the yarn, knit another 16, and measured again. Those 16 rounds are about 3 1/4 inches long, and took about 4 grams of yarn. So, I should be safe to knit another 32 rounds (8 grams), plus ribbing, and still have a wee bit of yarn left over. But, I may not even need 32 rounds to get to a good length. We'll see!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

aswim in stash

A lot of bloggers participated in the Flash your Stash event earlier this month. After seeing many such posts, I started to feel a little uncomfortable. So many knitters have such a LOT of yarn. At what point does a stash start to become too big? When does a hobby turn into gluttony and/or conspicuous consumption?

Let me make it clear -- I have NO PROBLEM with knitters acquiring a stash. There are many good reasons to stash yarn -- yarn bought on sale, a chance to buy unusual items not available near home, yarn bought or received as a gift, stocking up on discontinued yarns, projects that have not yet been started, etc.

However, on a lot of blogs, knitters seem to have acquired a glut of yarn, like enough for 70 pairs of socks (in addition to whatever else is in the stash). Unless you knit only socks, and whip through a pair every few days, who will ever knit up 70 pairs worth of sock yarns??

On one hand, I can see the value of stashing, and of having a stash -- all of the reasons mentioned above, plus the convenience of "shopping the stash", and the inspiration derived from having a selection of beautiful yarns within easy reach.

On the other hand, I don't want a big stash, for several reasons:
  • It takes up space (2 66-gallon tubs, not to mention whatever WIPs I have going, which are not stored with the stash).
  • It makes me feel wasteful -- I bought things that I am not using.
  • It makes me feel like the money I spent on yarn could have been spent on other more necessary things, or invested.
  • I feel guilty for buying yarn for other projects when I have yarn sitting at home, unknit.
  • I hate not finishing things -- the stashed yarn is reminder of all the things I want(ed) to knit and haven't knit.
  • The stash boxes are a constant reminder that I would rather be knitting, but have to go to work every day!
  • I feel guilty for buying yarn. My stash is a visual reminder that even though I'm not rich (I work in education and have a husband who has been a full-time grad student for the past year), we still are fortunate enough to be able to hoard yarn. If that's the case, why am I not giving more money to charity???

So, I've been trying to reduce the stash over the past six months -- mainly by using up the yarn for projects and then not replacing it with more. In order to address the guilt issues, I've also been using some of the stash for charity knitting.

But, I need more motivation to keep working from the stash, and a better way to record what I already have. I could make a spreadsheet with all my stash items, like some people have done. (And yes, I am certainly anal enough to do that!!) But, I decided to go a different route ... my stash now has its own blog!!

For a photographic tour de stash, visit aswim in stash.

I created the stash blog so that I could have a visual reminder of what I have in the stash, as well as an easy way to add new items and access the stash list from anywhere. Plus, I like the idea that I can add links to pattern ideas, and people can leave me comments about patterns they like. Eventually, I may add details like gauge, yardage, etc.

So, take a peek through the stash and leave me ideas on what to do with it!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tie-dyed hat

Do you rememeber the kool-aid dyed yarn that I made a couple of weeks ago? It turned into this hat, for Dulaan. It may not look impressive, but I'm impressed with myself ... I knit the entire stockinette section (everything but the first few rows of ribbing) using the continentaly technique. I'm usually a thrower, not a picker, but I did this to improve my continental technique for 2-handed stranded color knitting. Interestingly enough, my gauge between my swatch of this yarn (knit using the English technique) and the finished hat is nearly identical.

Ok, so maybe I'm the only one who will find this interesting. But whatever ... it's a nice warm wool hat for a kid in Mongolia. And I think my "tye-dyed" yarn looks kind of neat once knit up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Artyarns rocks!

Have I mentioned that customer service -- or lack thereof -- is one of my HUGE pet peeves? (I get that from my father...)

When I sent an email to Artyarns to let them know about my "underweight" skeins, I wasn't sure what kind of response to expect. Well, this was the reply, and they have certainly won me over! I will definitely encourage other people to buy from them ....

Dear Danielle:
I am so sorry for your frustration. This is not supposed to happen, and I appreciate that you have informed us. We spot-check the skeins front time to time, and weigh all the bags to ensure that a bag of 10 has the right total weight (500 grams). Our skeiners are skeining by yardage, and once in a while there will be a slight variation in the yarn so that the same yardage is less weight--you may actually have 191 yards in your skein. In any case, I would like to send you two free skeins of Ultramerino 4 for your trouble. If you ran out of yarn for your socks, please send me a small amount so we can try to match it as best we can, or if you would like something different let me know. When you write back, please send us your mailing address.
Take care,
Iris Schreier

Just in case you were wondering, here is what I consider to be the recipe for good customer service in response to a less-than-satisfied customer.
1) Acknowledge the problem, and apologize for the customer's inconvenience.
2) Explain why the problem happened, if necessary.
3) Explain how it will be rectified.

Now, go visit their website and buy some yarn!

jaywalkers in trouble

After some charity knitting recently, I got back to working on my sockapaloooza socks -- the Jaywalkers. I've been working them two-at-once, toe-up, and I got about half-way through the gussets before I realized that something was amiss.

Although the gusset looks fine in the photo, the socks were coming out too long. I had only done half of the required increases, but the socks were long enough that I think I was ready to turn the heel.

Part of the problem could have been that I knit too much foot before starting the gusset. It's kind of hard to tell exactly where to place the start of the gusset, since these socks are not for me and I can't just try it on for fit.

Also, the pattern has no listed row gauge. Even when I am getting stitch gauge, I am sometimes off on the row-gauge. That might be part of the problem.

In the end, rather than try to figure it all out, I decided to just knit a short-row heel. I also thought that this would be a good way to conserve yarn, since I am still concerned that these socks are taking up more of the yarn than I expected. So, I decided to weigh what I had knit so far, and what was left on the skein.

While doing all of this, I discovered another problem.

Read the display ... 46 grams. I haven't cut any yarn off the skein, so this skein was short 4 grams. I weighed the other sock and its attached yarn ball, and it also weighs 46 grams.

That means that each ball is 8% lighter than advertised, which works out to 15 yards shorter per skein.

So, I weighed the other two colors of this yarn that I bought on the same day ...

No problems with either of those skeins. (These are also for socks, so there is another skein in each colorway, both of which also weigh in at 50 or 51 grams.)

I'm going to email Artyarns using the form on their website and see what they have to say about this. I hear that they have good customer service, so I hope that they will fix this problem ...

Monday, April 03, 2006


I'm in a mini-funk. I had a long weekend -- a 5 hour practice on Saturday, followed by a 12 hour series of competition-practice-coaches' meetings on Sunday. And a dinner with a friend, a trip to the car dealership for my Honda 30,000 mile service, and some errands to run. And, on top of it all, losing an hour b/c of Daylight Savings Time. Too bad I don't have time to celebrate National Napping Day today.

So, I'm pulling out some old photos. Two weekends ago, I dyed some yarn.

The skein on the right is some of Knitpick's Wool of the Andes. I dyed it with some Kool-Aid Grape Illusion drink mix. I saw a purple package with the word "grape" and thought I was buying something purple. When I saw the orange-yellow powder, I read the package more carefully and realized that the "illusion" part was that yellow powder makes a red drink that tastes like (purple) grapes. Oh well, more red yarn!!

I tied off the skein every couple inches with a tightly knotted piece of cotton yarn. The skein looks tyedyed, and the yarn has little white speckles. I made a hat for Dulaan with this skein; photo to come when I remember to take one.

The skein on the left in the photo is a skein of apple green Lopi. I overdyed it using some royal blue Wilton paste food coloring that I had hanging around.

This photo shows the difference between the original yarn and the end result. I was going for a deeper teal color, but I was afraid to use too much dye, and the color is not as blue as I wanted. Still pretty, though.

I started a pair of Dulaan mittens with the skein, but I didn't think carefully enough, and chose a size that was too big. I nearly finished one mitten, but ripped it out since I had used about half the yarn, and still needed to finish the hand and knit a thumb. So, I'm going to reknit a smaller size soon. Not today though!