Sunday, November 08, 2009

EZ Baby Surprise Altered and Mittens to Match

This week I improvised, quite successfully, lengthened sleeves for Ari's Baby Surprise Jacket, (despite negative design criticism, I might add!). The sleeves were about 5", which now looks silly on him, although the jacket is still long enough. So, I picked up 40 sts along the sleeve edges on #6 dps. Make sure to pick up enough around the seam line -- but not too many or it will flare out at that point. I knit for 1" and then decreased on either side of the underarm center. Decrease again at just under 7" and 8", then again at 8.75", 9.5" and 10.25". Now there are 28 sts. on the needles. Bind off very loosely at 11". I did this to make a cuff with the darker colorway covering the white and resulting in a 9" sleeve. Ari seems to grow up rather than out so I wanted to make the sleeves long enough.

As for the mittens, I improvised, using the sleeve edge circumference as a guide. I cast on 28 sts, ribbed in k1p1 for 2". I like nice long mitten cuffs to keep the snow out in case snow suit jackets don't have nice, tight knitted cuffs. Using a twisted st pattern for a thicker, warmer fabric, I began the thumb gusset 1 row after the rib. I made the thumb gusset 9 sts and will start to decrease for the top at about 3.25" from the cuff. I was very pleased when I checked in Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns that my instincts had been right on the money for my gauge of 5.5 in the twisted st.

Monday, October 12, 2009

NCS Guild Project

Today I began to turn washed CVM fleece into usable fiber. First I used the great digital scale my sister gave me for my birthday last year and divided both the white and colored fleece into equal parts. That way I can spin two spools of each without guessing how much is half!
I set aside 1g of both so I could experiment to find out whether I should card or comb or do something else. I pulled some of the locks apart. It's lovely, soft and very fine. And only a little vm. The brown is a little neppy, tho'. Carding is not my favorite fiber prep -- I've never really grown fully adept. Nevertheless, it's less painstaking and wasteful than coming so I tried that first. I made a little rolad [photo]. Then I took out my mini combs and tried some. I love the way all the little ends stick out together. If it worked with the mini combs, I thought it might work with the double combs. And , it did -- beautifully. I do hate the waste but I'll put it in the "to-be-carded" bag and see. It can always be stuffing for pillows.
I combed all the brown/red today. It's lots of different shades, which will be fun.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Seaman's Scarf and Hat

Last year my boss popped into my office with a plastic bag containing the contents of his mother's stash. The 3 acrylic yarns were red heart and the needles the good old aluminum #7 double points (bits of two sets; did she lose one, as I have, on the bus?). I decided to use these yarns for charity knitting. At work we have a Sunday Lunch program which gives out bags of lunch to at least 100 people. In 2007/8 they decided to involve the "Stitch 'n' Time" charity knitting group to make hats and scarves to hand out with the lunch. I started mine last February but I've spent a lot of time this year not really able to knit much so I'm only now just finished. But, I made sure to start another scarf right away with the third skein.
The white in the hat was actually a fairly stiff aran weight which I used I saw I wouldn't have enough to knit the whole hat. But, I rather like the striped top and hope the recipient does!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Washing Fleece in a City Apartment

The North Country Spinner's "guild challenge" this year involves CVM (California Variegated Mutant)/ Romeldale fleece. Interweave's Spin-Off Magazine is featuring (or featured?) skeins made from unprocessed, raw fleece. Our programs chair ran out of the fleece before each member received the bag she was entitled to so I was without my fleece for a few months. Very kindly and generously Mary M., who owns some Romeldale, gave me a present of some raw fleece. Finally I got my bag from the guild! So, I did end up with a fair amount. And, in the photo you can see the trusty aforesaid mesh bag on the drying rack!

Although I love the way raw fleece smells, I confess I did bag it up in plastic for the trip back to town. There isn't any vegetable matter, which is very nice.

My apartment has a lovely, old (1941) double sink. One side is deep enough to wash a toddler, as my children will attest. In the 40's some people actually did their own laundry by hand so I 'spose that's why that sink was installed. Anyway, it's wonderful for crafters. I zippered the greasy, wonderfully sheep-smelly fleece into a fine-mesh laundry bag, put a big bucket in the sink and filled it with 1/8 c. original Dawn dish detergent and filled it with the hottest water possible. Thank goodness for apartment building water heaters! Then I dunked the bag into the water, pushed it down and swished it very gently to make sure the fiber was getting soaked through. But, I was very gentle and careful not to cause it to felt. Immediately the water turned brown. I let the fleece soak for a while, pulled it out and refilled the bucket with a little Dawn and equally hot water. Then, I rinsed it in several buckets of water at the same temperature. The bag makes the whole process so much easier -- I wish I'd thought of it years ago. After spinning the bag in my salad spinner to get the excess water out I spread out clumps of fiber on a sweater rack on the wooden clothes rack, dividing the white from the brown. It took about 24 hours to dry thoroughly but it's just lovely and I can't wait to spin it. Thank you, Mary!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Two More Bathmats

Not only am I finishing up a huge addition made to the stash in August of kitchen cotton, but I am providing the D.B. with two more bathmats that she loves! There will be about six ounces of the colors left over and they will become charming Swiffer cozies! These are wonderfully quick to make and very satisfactory all around.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The VERY Late Socks for Scott

I promised my patient (but now, quite understandably grumbly) son-in-law socks about three years ago. I showed him the beautiful yarns from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. They are Copper and Rooster Rock in Socks That Rock, medium weight. At the same time I showed him the booklet BMFA publishes with ideas for fair isle work with their yarns. All well and good until I actually began a swatch this spring. When I actually knit the two yarns I fell in love with them. The monochrome Copper is a perfect foil for Rooster Rock. Rooster Rock has all the tints you'd expect from a naturally-dyed tweed from the Shetland Islands. It is much too beautiful to use for stranded two-color knitting where the continuity of the color progressions would be lost. The colorway is elegant, actually, not one to play around with. It's a rare yarn that commands such respect.

It was a hard-going-summer with little time for knitting so I put this project aside -- again. At Rosh Hashanah my daughter reminded me that I was very, very late so I started again. Now she's upset that I've changed the pattern and may disappoint Scott. It would be foolish to spend all that time on something no one wants so I'm waiting for Scott's input.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Robert Polidori Disses Knitters

On the 9/28/09 New Yorker Outloud podcast "Interiors" staff photographer Robert Polidori is scathing about knitters -- and his fellow photographers. Contemptuously he compares his fellow students who liked to work in the darkroom developing photos to women who like to knit. He was quite scathing. Stupid man, doesn't he realize he's a craftsperson, too? He's using a tool to capture what is before his lens; knitters use their tools to make yarn into fabrics. Not that different!

Yellow Dress Socks

One of a series, knit on US 0 / 2.0 mm circular needles. The yarn is Lang Jawoll Superwash solid in light yellow #84.0114, ordered from Yarn forward. I used up almost all the 412 yds -- it was nip and tuck, actually. These were requested by the D.B. as "dress socks" to go with the black I knit last year. Her very favorite sock pattern is the basket weave rib, a 12-row pattern that becomes more rote the more you knit it. And, I've had plenty of practice. Finished August 2009.

I love Lang Jawoll -- it remains very soft and wears extremely well.

Cast on 96 sts (to fit generous calf) in k2p2 rib. Continue for about 1.25" to 1.5" then begin the basket weave rib. At 3" begin decreasing at each side of center back every four rows until there are 72 sts. 1" = c.12 rows but adjust if it doesn't because it's nicer if there's an inch or a bit over of 72 sts. Begin heel. Heel flap is about 2.25" or with c. 22 st loops to pick up for the gusset. I like to continue the pattern on the foot but it's a little tricky 'cause the pattern doesn't come out exactly even. On one side there are two extra sts, on the other, one (or so). Place a marker at the purl stitch at each side so you don't get confused. For the D.B. I work 6.5" from heel flap and begin a round toe, decreasing evenly on two sides of four points around the needles. Remember to knit one plain row after ending pattern before beginning decrease. Decrease until there are 16 sts. left, donkey ear the 4 end sts and use the kitchener to create a lovely ridgeless toe.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Green Cashmere Helmet and Mittens Set

I knit this a year ago but Ari was too little for it. Now I hope he's not too big! It's the Convertible Cloud Helmet by Elanor Lynn in Cozy Knits for Cuddly Babies (Country Living) . I used US 8 / 5.0 mm and US 10 / 6.0 mm needles instead of the instead of the #9 and #10.5 called for as I knit very loosely. The set took 2 skeins Filatura Di Crosa Aiko (20% polyamide & 80% cashmere)in #31 Bright Green. It's a fluffly, bulky yarn

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

North Warren Regional High School Scarf (NCS) #2

Here's the other scarf I made. The yarn was North Country Spinners' stash yarn from old projects and donations. It looks look Brown Sheep single ply. In dyeing it'd become rather brittle. The turquoise yarn turned my hands blue as I knitted with it, especially if I had hand lotion on. But, it is such a spectacular combination the anonymous guild dyers had created that it was well worth it. When finished, I washed it till most of the color stopped running and then rinsed it with creme rinse to soften the fiber. The Guild was knitting scarves to support the North Warren Regional High School Band.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fisherman's T Finally Finished

Hooray, I finally finished this and just in time for Rosh Hashanah. And with my right hand in a cast! The little yellow buttons were purchased at the button stand at the Garden State Sheep Breeders show the weekend before. Luckily washing it in hot water and putting it in a hot dryer until almost dry did full the sweater a little. I'm pleased that it turned out well enough to give my little grandson; however, I was not pleased by the fabric or hand which was uncharacteristically uneven for me. My daughter appreciates that it can be washed and dried -- she has enough to do without blocking baby sweaters. Ummhh, what shall I knit next?

I ended up using just over three balls of Filatura di Crosa Dolce Amore #5 (lime green). This is an awful yarn to work with on this kind of project -- it splits as you look at it. The photo below shows a join in the middle of the fabric -- which is unavoidable when knitting in the round. With this yarn.

For a winter sweater, I'd try in fingering weight in Baby Ull 7436 teal green and again make sleeves full length. Also DB Baby Cashmerino #340003 (light sage green).

The swatch was 4.5"(wide) x 5" (high) before washing was very loose. After washing and drying in hot water and dryer, a little more pulled together but only about 1/2" loss of height.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Problem Sweater for Ari

I have grown to loathe knitting with any cotton but thick kitchen cotton or tightly plied cotton in any grist. This summer I've been knitting away at a lovely pattern which I've adapted somewhat by lengthening the sleeves. It's Oat Couture's "Fisherman's T-shirt for Baby". For some reason, now unknown to me, probably because I had the yarn and liked it in the skein, I used Filatura Di Crosa Dolce Amor in colorway #5, lime green. I will have probably used almost four balls. But, it's a very splitty yarn and I'm knitting it on #0 and #2 needles. The knitting went quickly enough but it is the most unforgiving yarn I've ever used so my hand, which is usually very even on both sides, looks just awful. I'm praying that a ride through a hot washer followed by a tumble in a hot dryer will full it a little and even up the stitches.

The final blow was that I didn't cast off the neckline tightly enough so it sort of waffled. See the photo! But, I frogged it back to the neck cast off and both front and back are much more acceptable. I'm even beginning to like it. And, it's the perfect weight for a fall sweater.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Another Lovely Dyepot Day at NCS Guild

From left to right:
1. logwood
2. quebracho -- 2nd dyeing (it's a lighter pink)
3. onion skins -- it must have lain right on them 'cause there interesting watermarks all over the scarf. Most funky
4. quick dip in the onion skin then immersion in 2nd dyeing of logwood. Beige under the purple.
5. walnut -- deep rich golden bronze
6. quebracho -- 1st dyeing (darker, almost fuschia pink)
Last Friday was the annual natural dyepot day for North Country Spinners. I just love it. This year, tho', we only had the guild pots. Jean, who usually brings a big pot of golden rod was ill and unable to attend. Wishing Jean a speedy recovery! So, I only dyed silk scarves which are really pretty useless as I don't wear them and very few people I know do. However, I'm hoping they make little presents that will please 'cause the colors were just lovely.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Yet Another Bathmat

I've been just delighted with a stash of 30 balls of kitchen cotton I scored at North Country Spinners annual Swap & Sell Day last month. Actually, it's a wonderful opportunity to exchange stashes, for some of us and for others, to take advantage of others' need to destash! It takes just over 16 oz to make this bathmat on #7. That works out to 3.20 balls of solid 2.5oz balls plus 4.1 balls of 2oz variagated balls.

So, there I was, knitting on the way to visit our good friends in Wildwood when I realized that the colors of the bathmat would work perfectly in their downstairs / guest bathroom. What a charm it is to make this practical item. I started it Thursday evening and if I hadn't greated a great rat's nest of a tangle, I would have finished it Saturday evening. As it was, I finished it early (for me) Sunday morning. Et, voila (we'd seen Julie and Julia the previous evening!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I love kitchen cotton. At my wonderful spinning guild's annual Swap & Sell Day early this month I bought some at a ridiuclously low (but very fair) price . Wow! I can't wait to make all sorts of mats and practical things like Swiffer covers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lei Scarves With Hairpin Lace Loom (NCS #1 for North Warren Regional High School)

My spinning guild's project for the the year was making scarves to support the North Warren High School Band. So, here's what I've done -- they're due on Labor Day weekend and luckily I'm just about finished. Friend E and her sister C are the lovely models! Thanks, ladies!

I used a hairpin lace loom to make two of these scaves from Filati FF Kristha Multi Bulky / 12 ply ribbon yarn . Each skein was 66yds and the finished "lei" was well over 72" when stretched. The ribbon yarn was great to use for this technique as it doesn't twist all up as it does when knitting. Dye lot: 5113; Colorway: 204 jewel tone multi.

I finished the wool scarf today and will blog it tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Special Requests

Our friend Elaine recently told us that her sister would love another of the little cloths I gave her when she had breast cancer. It happened I had three versions waiting for a home. How lovely to have a fan. And, instead of a fan dance, she did a sort of doily / facecloth dance. Whatever works.

Sorry about the focus, or rather, the lack thereof.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Funky Retro Hot Pads

Lots of fun -- made in a day. Vertigo had hit so I couldn't see very well and I was confined to inactivity. mainly bed. I had to do something while I listened to a book -- David Plotz' Good Book. So, I decided to use The Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc Peaches & Creme Double Worsted I've come to love for summer knitting. Colors:
1. Leftover from cones, 55.3 yards in colorway #95 Red
2. 1 skein (50.0 yards )in colorway #203 Faded Glory reds, blues
3. 1 skein (50.0 yards)in colorway #194 Yorktown blues reds
4. 1 skein (50.0 yards)in colorway #193 Gettysburg blues
Needles: #9 wooden
For the pinwheels, cast on 12 stitches and knit all in short rows, decreasing one stitch every other row (at pointy end of pinwheel). About 10" in diameter diameter. Eight sections -- a little waffly but I bound the loose edges with a crochet borner. They'll pull together when washed and dried. The square -- I used the basic log cabin with my variation of one extra stitch at each end of the pick up row. Dimensions: 10.5" x 10". Bound with crochet to tighten up the edges.

Aren't they "ironic"? And, I really enjoyed Good Book. A day most profitably spent.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peyote Stitch Bead Weaving

For the May meeting of North Country Spinners guild member Jeanine shared her expertise in Peyote bead weaving. Unfortunately my eyes couldn't handle the tiny, albeit lovely beads in the kits provided -- after an hour I was seeing double and did so for the rest of the day! However, I am most fortunate to have a generous sister who is also a beader. She very kindly gave me some size 8 for me to practice on. I just knew I could master this technique and it was so satisfying to succeed after the frustration of not being able to do it at the guild workshop. Peyote stitch reminds me of cross stitch or needle point; it's quite logical and self-correcting. This weekend I made two of the sheep. There's also an adorable cat but I don't have the beads for that. My hope is that with enough practice I'll be able to use the gorgeous beads Jeanine provided and make those delicate little weavings.

The one on the left is for my sister; I plan to stitch it to a felted project bag. She also suggested that a cloud would look awfully nice in the deep and wide sky. Horror vacui? On the right is the first amulet I made. (I'm going to call it something else -- I'm very uncomfortable with the word "amulet.) It's a little funky, with an extra row of beads on either side and lots of starting and ending threads. We'll hang it up on the front door of our "country" house to indicate that a fiber artist lives there.

Can heavy beads withstand the weight if hung up? Will the sun rot the threads? I'll find out, won't I?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cross-over Jacket for Reines Baby

I loved this sweater which was rejected by the intended recipient because it's made from mother-friendly acrylic! So, I gave it to my wonderful volunteer for her new grandson and everyone, including the knitter, is happy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swiffer cozies reconsidered

Now, why would I waste brain time on swiffer cozies? It's just that when I make presents for friends and family I have a horror of their being kindly accepted and then put away in some closet or drawer, to be taken out only to be given to charity. So, I decided to see if there were other mop covers out there. And, remembering that our friends, the intended recipients of the mop covers, are cleaning enthusiasts, I realized I ought not to use colored cotton if they were going to dip my little honies in chemicals like bleach. Or worse, in anything that would leave streaks on their walls. They actually wash their walls seasonally. What virtue.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I can't find my favorite Ritz terry cloth potholders. And, I never think of knitting for myself. But, I had a breakthrough and I'm thrilled. There was this great Elmore Pisgah double worsted bright red yarn in the stash, just waiting to be useful. So I knitted up a test potholder -- 30 stitches on #8 wooden needles for 32 ridges, with enough yarn at cast-on (or off) for a generous loop. Before washing: 9 1/2" wide by 11" high. After washing, 9 1/2" wide by 9 1/2" high -- just what I wanted. I have enough for 4 nad have dug out several other balls of double worsted cotton -- tho' they're only 2oz and these potholders take 3oz. The finished one is good and thick but with the pliability you need to pick up a hot lid or something.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angela's Shawl Resumed

Hooray, I've resumed knitting my sister's Christmas (2008!) present. I had to "review" the lace edging of Meg Swansen's "Garter & Lace" shawl. I'm using some New Zealand yarn my daughter bought me: Sue Bateup 88% Mohair, 12% Wool. It was a breeze to knit till I got to the edge and then I lost heart. But, I understand it better now.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thrifty Knitting

Okay, okay, I admit it. I'm a fan. It's the practicality and the whimsey that attracts me to the Mason Dixon Knitting series. Now that Spring has come I'm preparing cotton projects for the hotter weather to come. In particular, I'm working on household items from last year's new release from Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner, Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Don't you just think swiffers, and all their ilk, are THE most wasteful cleaning product? Not to mention landfill stuffers? Some of my closest relatives and friends are, I'm afraid, avid consumers who now, as times have changed, are interested in the genius "Swifty" by Ann & Kay. I promised these as presents last December and my daughter wants one. But, cotton tending to mildew as it does, I think I'll make each recipient a few. What a perfect way to use up all my kitchen cotton odds and ends... Double thrift.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Finished Sweater and Vest for Grandson

Yummy patterns from Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. The sweater was inspired by JoJo's Basic Crew Sweater. I added 2" 'cause the grandbaby is a long 'un. Also, because I like symmetry and I wasn't sure I had enough of the yellow, I made the sleeves the same. The Oz Vest, from the same book, has that funky little bit at the bottom of the v-neck with I don't like. Both are made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino #340016 med green. The sweater used 1.2 skeins #340017, chartreuse yellow and 2.05 skeins of the medium green. The Oz Vest used 1.9 skeins. The color of the sweater is closer to reality than the Oz Vest which looks turquoise. #5 and #6 needles. I don't like stretched out bottom edges so I usually cast on 10% fewer stitches and increase in the first row after the ribbing. These are both size 18 months.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Organic Cotton Kimono

For little Madeline, born in October 2008.

Natural color. I washed & dried a swatch and figured out the shrinkage – mostly vertical accounted for it. I measured the width and had to adjust to the largest size in the pattern, not the original newborn size intended. Garter stitch just stretches out, doesn’t it? I have come to loathe this “free” pattern from a back issue of Knits. The directions are more complicated than the structure which is pretty clever. And, it’s not sized correctly. Yes, I’ve checked my gauge. Cast on for small size – allowing for the shrinkage of my swatch – but it came out big enough for 24 month size for which it is an odd style.
Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton, #786 Lipstick Natural 3.1 skeins, #3 needles.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Angora Bedsocks

2 skeins Cleckheaton “Angora Supreme” 152 yds/139 mtrs per 50 grams. 70% lambswool and 30% angora. Held double. Listed as aran weight. Any bulky yarn may be substituted. Set of #11 double point needles (5 per set). Mine measures halfway between #11 & #13, stitch holder, darning needle
Gauge in garter stitch: 3 sts & 5.33 rows per 1”
Leg Cast on 29 sts in k2 p2 rib. Join, knitting the last k st together with 1st knit stitch of round to avoid a jog.
Continue in k2p2 for 2”. Begin dec. st. at beginning and at end of round every five rounds until 22 sts remain. At 5” begin garter pattern by purling a round, then knitting the next. (Continue to alternate k and p rounds thusly until the end of the toe.) After 1st garter ridge dec. again at beginning & end of round (20 sts. remain)
Heel After 5 ridges begin the short row heel at beginning of round. Row 1. k4, wrap 1 stitch, turn, keeping the garter stitch pattern.
the heel sts will reflect that they are the beginning and end of the round so that the stitches from the 1st needle will be knit while the sts from the last needle (4th needle if using 5 needle set or 3rd needle if using 4 needle set) will be purled and vice versa. If you can use the center jog as a visual cue for switching between k & p, you can put the heel sts all on one needle but if you are concerned about getting confused, keep them on 2 needles (the 1st and 4th)
Row 2 K/P 8 sts, wrap 1 then turn.
Row 3 : K/P 7 sts, wrap 1 then turn
Rows 4-6 continue decreasing by 1 the k/p stitches before wrapping & turning
Rows 7 & 8: repeat Row 6 (k/p 1, k4, wrap & turn)
Row 9 K/P 5, wrap & turn.
Note: the 5th stitch in row 9 will have been wrapped. To avoid holes, pick up either the front or the back of the wrap and k/p with that stitch. Continue thusly as you pick up the sts previously wrapped. It helps to knit wrapped sts a little more tightly than the usual gauge.
Rows 10-12, continue to pick up an addition st as well as the front or back of its wrap.
Finish the heel by picking up the last wrapped st on the first needle and continue with the round. When you get to the beginning of the last needle, pick up one st from the hole that has been created by all the wrapping & turning. Pick up the 1st st on needle #4 (or #3 if using a 4-needle set) as well as the front or back wrap and the heel is done. It may look a little dicey at this point but don’t worry, it can be fixed easily. It actually improves as you knit.
Foot For an average foot. this means about 6” of additional garter st. With the gauge above it’s 16 ridges until the toe. In the last row before the toe, dec 1 st at the beginning of needle #4 (or #3—see above). There are now 20 sts.
Toe In the k row after the last garter ridge, begin dec. every other row 1 st at beginning of needles (for 4 needles). If you are using 3 needles, k 2 tog, k3 four times. Continue dec at same st until 8 sts left. End with k row and kitchener st together.
Finishing If there are big holes at the sides of the heel, pull gently together on inside with extra yarn & darning needle. Sew in cast on and toe threads.
Soles Can use leather or other devices, such as anti-slip carpet goo.
This is a fairly reversible sock, depending on how much you have to fix the holes on the sides of the heel. It is meant for a large foot and ankle. To modify for smaller feet, adjust the gauge by changing needle sizing down.

(c) Elizabeth F. Stabler. This pattern is available for personal use but may not be used commercially for profit or reproduced in any way without my express written permission.