Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are they now?

When I started knitting I did what many people start out doing. I knit for my family and friends. My Mom, Mother in Law and coworkers all received scarves. Basically the same scarf in a few different colors, same free pattern and same brand and style yarn. They seemed to appreciate the scarves. Mom especially, but maybe I just recognize my own mother's gratitude more than in other people. So when Mom's house burned down with the scarf in it I sent her mine. Truth was I did not really like mine but I would have done it all the same if I had loved it.

So on to today's true object. D's grandmother was a very classy proper lady. She was always well put together and dignified. She was of course active in her Red Hat Society. When I found out she was wearing plastic red hats because her head was petite, I set out to change that in the winter time at least.

I made a felted bowler type hat, and placed a purple ribbon around it. I wrapped it carefully and sent it along with our other Christmas presents home. We were not able to be home that Christmas so I was not there to see her reaction to it. But in the photo I was sent it is definitely not thrilled, or at least that is what I took the expression to be.

That was the first time I thought my knitting may not be as wonderful of a gift idea as I thought it was. Now I have now way of knowing if that was true or not. It could have been that she was a bit tired that day or that someone said something off color and she was reacting to that when the photo was taken. I don't know and I was never going to ask.

I started to be a bit more selective and knit for others only at their request. I want my knitting to be special for both of us. And I want to know it is something they would like.

When Grandma passed away last year the family choose to display my hat with other mementos. I remember giving it a little pat as I walked by. D's very thoughtful aunt posed the question would I like the hat back? A few months later the hat made its way back to our house, complete with a couple of her red hat pins. Since one of those pins was an angel we choose to use the hat as our Christmas tree topper. Yes we know we are odd but it works for us.

Now it is back with the rest of my wool enjoying its retirement. Till I need it, I am so going to be a Red Hat Lady if I make it that long!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy mind and tidy stitches

I do not consider myself a tidy person. I don't consider myself the messiest person either but I do lean more to the mess side. OK way more to the mess side of the equation. I am not neat unless it is a pile of papers.

I have my quirks, I like my knitting to be in the same general area. I don't keep track of my stash yet because I don't yet have more than I can remember acquiring. So mostly it lives on my living room half wall, or as we call it the wool wall. Of course this would be easier if Big G did not think that Mom needs wool in every room. He brings it to us in the night and the day. I think he wants Dad to be a knitter too. (D tried it and knitting did not take with him, more yarn for me.)

The one organized thing I have done since almost the beginning is keep a knitting journal. I list all my purchases: yarn, supplies and classes. Most of my projects are in it too. It contains my knitting life. I like having a paper record of what I have learned and done, as well as the wool records I created.

With my journal I can see how my preferences change. What I liked and what I did not like. How I don't work on projects that I don't understand.

Sometimes I get a bit behind in making entries into the journal. I figure somethings don't really matter, like when exactly when I started the second sleeve, Monday or Tuesday. I mostly concentrate on things that could be of use to me at a later date. How long it takes me to complete a project (start and end dates), gauge (Needle and yarn combo), what I would do differently. I try to put it all in there even if I don't organize it as well as I should.

So when I to get behind I use my blog as a sort of timeline for forgotten things. Oh and Ravelry too. So between the blog, the journal and Ravelry I mostly have my knitting sorted out well enough for me to continue doing what I love. Knit On.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill and 1 up

What have I learned in a year? How did my knitting improve? What did I achieve?

That is not as easy a question(s) to answer for me. Part of me is a total product knitter that loves churning out sock after sock after sock. While I do try to learn and experiment. 

This year I made 14 pairs of socks, 9 for me and 5 for D. Yep he made the jump to the permanent knit-worthy category this year. He showed proper and continual admiration for what I have made him. He still loves my sweaters best though.

One of D's pair of socks
I forced myself to go to a yarn shop in an unfamiliar city and enjoy it when normally I would have holed up in the hotel room and waited for D to appear. This was so out of character that I am still amazed that I was able to do it, and would choose to do it again.

I tried my hand at a knit Christmas ornament, a mini sock. Festive right? Yes, I know I am addicted to knitting socks.

I knit more lace and incorporated it into its primary form, the shawl. I liked knitting this so much I knit two and kept only one. Which is my favorite winter wear.

Multnomah Shawl in Alpaca

One of my many pairs
I relearned what sheep shearing looks like. It was informative as it was not explained to me as a kid. I served in more of an uninformed labor capacity, sheep maneuvering, wool stomping and general farm kid duties.

I learned differences in sheep breeds and was able to talk with my family about what we raised. I searched out different breeds and bought some yarn. I ogled and photographed sheep at the fair recognizing some breed differences.

So by the numbers what did I do last year?
14  pairs of socks (cables, lace)
2 shawls (yarn choice)
2 hats (felting and lace)
and a pair of Norwegian mittens (colorwork and stranded knitting)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tale of two yarns

So this is the start of knitting blog week. Today's topic two yarns. What do you love or loathe?

My two yarns to contrast are sock yarns. Shocker I know. My love is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (STR).

I tend to make a basic stockinette sock. I think it is the most useful even if it is not the most exciting sock out there. And I like to just go round and round without having to keep track of any pattern. So having yarn that makes the simple look fancy is great.

It looks pretty when it is in the skein and on the foot. The above turned into the below with just a bit of help from me.

It is the only yarn I've bought on vacation and had it wound in the store to start a project. I still think of Oregon when I see D wear his Chestnutty socks.

But oddly enough it is not the color that keeps me coming back again and again to this yarn, it is the tight wind and the toughness that I truly love. STR socks are my go-to socks in the winter. My feet have the best chance of staying warm with socks made from this yarn. Some of my first socks are STR socks and they are just starting to feel a bit thin on the ball of the foot. That is 3+ years of wear. I have much younger socks that wore through.

My yarn that I did not love as much as I thought I would is not a specific brand but a type of yarn that does not agree with my knitting style. I am hard pressed to knit with a single ply sock yarn again. What draws me in to this style of yarn is the long color runs. They turn out stunning socks.

I have a pair of short socks in purple that I fought to completion. The yarn split, unwound itself and messed with me the whole knitting time. I knew I was in trouble when I made a 2 inch cuff on the first sock so I could get done with it quicker. I think I took a four month hiatus between socks. Usually I cast on the second sock just after I bind off the first one. No second sock syndrome for me, usually. Although the Zauerball socks worked out OK.

I did find the Zauerball to be a bit easier as evidenced by the length of the socks. I learned how to compensate for different fiber or twist. So maybe I will try this type again, as long as I remember the lessons I've learned. I know the color works for me, and the socks seem to be holding up as well.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Working on a sweater

I think my CPH sweater may be trying to do me in. I've never knit a sweater in pieces before and honestly it feels all wrong. I feel like the pieces will never work out right. Don't worry I'm resisting the feelings but they are there.

We started seeming the sleeve in class the other night and it looks like it will work out. I can now mattress stitch. Yay me.

I've ripped back the back twice now and reknit. Somehow I am not keeping track of my rows very well. I had a couple of short cables. Sort of drove me a bit batty. I made the first attempt at waist shaping last night. We shall see how it works out. It should be a wee tuck.

I think I will take out what little seeming I did in class the other night and give the sleeve a good blocking. I seemed to have a harder time stitching because it was not properly blocked. I started the other sleeve but quickly realized I would need the larger needle and that was what I was using on the back still.

So now I have a sleeve, a sleeve cuff and a third of a back. Well at least I'm working on it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I made bread

Ok does anyone else think that I should add bread making to my title list? Sorry it is long enough as is so I think I will keep it the same. This is the continuation of the Bread in Five Minutes a day from my last post.

This was after the dough sat for two hours at room temperature. I was worried that it would not do anything, but it did! It filled half of the 3 quart container. Bubbly doughy goodness.

The book recommends that you refrigerate the dough for three hours, to make it easier to handle. The unrefrigerated dough was quite ooozy. Yes I think ooozy is a real word.

I cut off a grapefruit size chunk and let it rise as directed.

It did not rise as much as I hoped, but I baked it anyways.  It does make a very cute little loaf.

I did what all bread books tell you not to do.......I cut the loaf while it was still hot. I smeared on butter and ginger preserves. No picture because I do not allow myself to operate the camera when jelly is in the room. Oh and by the way ginger preserves are a good thing. I felt a bit Scottish at the store and wanted to try something new.

So the verdict, while I enjoyed making bread a different way and I look forward to baking the second loaf, it was a bit flavorless to me. D thought it was fine but I found it lacking. I am hoping the dough still in the refrigerator will develop more and make a more flavorful loaf.

I do think the method deserves a second go around with another recipe. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Making Bread

I decided to try yet another way to make bread. This is the basic bread recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The theory behind this book and its two sisters is that you mix a big batch of very wet dough and store it in the refrigerator. You bake one loaf at a time when you need it. 

I am not sure that my dough is wet enough but I am going to go with this the first time. I did sprinkle in a bit more water on top of the dough. I don't have a 5 quart container to store the dough in either so I halved the recipe and used my 3 quart salad container. Now I wait 2-5 hours and either bake one of the loaves or I bake in the evening twice this week.

Why yes that is my new Danish dough whisk that I received for Christmas. Thanks for asking. It worked fine and mixed the dough quickly. I really like it as an option for hand mixing dough. Especially with a dough like this that comes together easily.

I jumped when I saw the book sitting at the library. I had been wanting to try it for a time. You know I do so love the library. It is just too bad I can not learn from osmosis, or else I would be brilliant.

Now I think I will knit on my sweater for a bit while I wait for dough development.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I finally decided to take some pictures while the light was not horrible today. First up are socks that made the jump after sitting in my stash for 2 years. Now normally I don't keep stash that long but this was acquired during my first trip to NY Sheep and Wool Festival commonly referred to as Rhinebeck. 

No wait my first trip to Rhinebeck was in 2007, that is some well marinated wool. There is still another skein still  in there. Oh my!

It is Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Pheasant color way. I originally bought 2 skeins to make socks for D but he vetoed them. No worries I love the colors so I made a pair for me. Now what will I do with the second skein? I keep wanting to make mittens but I think the mohair in this yarn would drive my wrists crazy. Who knew my wrists are such delicate prima donnas? I think a shawlette would prove to be the same issue but different area. My neck is just as sensitive as my wrists.

Plus I already have a shawl that I love beyond all reason. I made the Multnomah shawl from some alpaca  yarn from Times Remembered. This yarn was so squishy and soft that I had to get it. I let this one sit for a while as I did not know what to do with it either. 

My first Multnomah was way too small for me so I thought a sport weight yarn with more yardage would suit me better. It has quite a good wingspan, but I wanted something that I could wrap a few times when needed.  I have been wearing it since I finished it. I did not even bother with blocking I just wrapped and went. I think that is what I like best about it, it is casual and functional. I like beautiful things but at heart I am a practical person first. 

Do you know how difficult it is to photograph the color grey? All nuance is lost it just comes out looking flat and grey. I like to wear it draped over my front with the ends hanging down my back or wrapped again around my neck. It has come in quite useful this winter. It keeps out the wind that always seems to find a way to get into my bones and chill me.

So that is what has been keeping me warm. What has been keeping you warm?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Yes, I have one.

I have never once partied like it was 1999.

Even when it was 1999.

I am disappointed in myself too.

I feel like I am letting Prince down somehow.

Even though I know Prince does not care.

My kidneys are happy that I have not.

I feel better now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Dang you winter you got me again. Instead of staying home, knitting and making bread I had to go to work. I know what a bummer. Thank God I have a job, it certainly comes in handy when I want to do some stash enhancement.

My knitting is in a bit of a winter hum-drum too. I find when I am hum-drum I usually find nothing all that attention grabbing so I usually have lots of things on the needles. Sorry no current pictures because my lighting is still having its winter feelings too.

First I am working on a sock that I started in September 2010 but dropped off the knitting radar for a couple of months. Then because it kept mocking me when I went on Ravelry, I picked it up. Embossed Leaves sock in Knitpicks Stroll in Forest Heather color. I managed to finish the first sock and have the cuff finished on the second one, but my fingers are faltering.

My second subconscious avoidance project is my CPH sweater. I am just not seeing how this one is going to come together and have hit the wall of 'what if it does not work?' The simple time proven solution is that I will reknit it and I will eventually make it work but I do not seem to be to the 'just do it the first time and make your mistakes' phase. Since I have class next week I will need to get my bum in gear and just get it done.

My third problem child is my wavy cables socks, I am of the firm opinion that the current project will not work for me and I need to frog and start over with bigger needles. Why can't I just make it work the way it does in my head? Alas

Fourth is my 'hmm I wonder what this yarn will look like knit up?' phase of desperation. Now the yarn is pooling funny and I don't think it is going to work. Off to the send it back pile with you.

Fifth is working for me as I have one completed sock but the colors are not what I imagined them to be. So even though the colors are bright enough to bring me out of my funk, I am just not going along with the ride.

See what I mean I am in a winter blah. Soon spring will have sprung and my knitting and I will be in love again. Ah renewed love, come visit me soon OK?