Monday, December 29, 2008

Rock Star Skirt

Ah, the Christmas knitting. Or rather, Christmas crochet, as I didn't feel confident enough in my knitting to attempt any on deadline. Here's two gifts that made it all the way to Australia:

I call this Karina's Rock Star Skirt, because it's made with (South West Trading Company Vickie Howell) Rock yarn, and is also in a rather electric color. But I think it'll look great with her hair and eyes. Several errors in the process, but I think they're mostly not likely to be noticed. The pattern was hard for me, mostly because it was my first time reading a chart, and I'm not at all certain I did it right -- next time, I think I want an experienced person next to me to confirm my interpretations of what the chart means. But still, happy with the result.

It has way too many holes to wear on its own, and I thought of lining it, but it seemed more fun to let it be -- she can throw on a black skirt under it, or blue jeans, or whatever. Jarmila and I model it for you:

The skirt took a long time. I won't be knocking out a lot of those, I promise you. I had just enough time to make a matching slightly hippie-ish headband (took half an hour) before sending everything off. I can't seem to find the pattern again, but it's dead easy -- just go back and forth three times along a row, with chain stitches along the middles, and single crochet at the ends, to length desired.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Writing Ghost of Christmas Past

I started knitting and writing at about the same time, which was at age 13, around Christmas when I got both yarn and a small typewriter. Back then, I would say I was equally bad in both crafts. My first knitted item got some teasing, enough that I exchanged my knitting needles for a crochet hook for a long time and didn't show anyone my writing until I got to college—where I got horribly criticized by one persistent classmate for writing romance. It didn't matter. I still kept writing.

In my early twenties, I finally got back into knitting. By age 33, I was making elaborately cabled women's sweaters, but only from patterns. They looked pretty good except maybe the gauge was a bit off. Also that year, my first two romances were published. They were also pretty good, except they didn't exactly catch the world by storm either.

I gave up knitting again for the next several years as I pursued my dream and had six more romances published. Then I had to take a break from writing for family matters, and I took up knitting for babies in need to cope with the stress. By 2007, I got skilled enough from all that practice to make my first projects without a pattern—two v-neck, knitted from the top down, women's cardigans, with crocheted shell trim. Finally, when the hubby retired, I was able to make a come-back with my ninth published romance, and a sale for my tenth book—a personal milestone.

Looking at history like that, I can see my progress in both writing and knitting. I've come a long way, despite setbacks. In almost all respects. Today, Christmas, 2008, I sit here wanting to design from scratch a wonderful sweater with elaborate cables and a hood that people will oooh and ahhh over. But I'm doubting I can pull it off. I'm worrying I'll end up with the front too long and the back too short and two cables on the left front and two and a half on the right. (I'm sure writers can relate to that, too.) And it's silly, I know. But that thirteen-year-old ghost of Christmas past, that Flo who showed her baby knitting to the world and got teased, is visiting me. She's the one making me doubt.

I'd banish her, refuse to cave in to the uncertainty, tell her to GO AWAY, but I can't. I hate the doubt, but I like that Flo, the young girl with huge dreams. She's the one who wanted to get published, told everyone she was going to do it, and refused to give up, no matter what obstacles came—and there were pretty big ones and still are. She's also the one who took up knitting again and refused to give up until she made something nice. The memory of that Flo and how much she wanted to be a writer, no matter who scoffed at her dream, reminds me now that it's okay to keep dreaming of being better than I ever was before. To keep hoping for it. To keep striving for it. In knitting and in writing. If I forget what I once was, I might not become who I could be.

The doubts? I don't get teasing or scoffing any more, so I think the doubts might just be there to replace them and keep me humble. And believe me, they work.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Kitsch

Yes, this is one of my favorite Christmas decorations. You can't tell from the still photo but his wings flap and his head turns . My husband refused to let me put him on the front porch so he sits on the bench right beside the back door, making me smile every time I enter or exit.

A dear reader friend, Elsie, got me addicted to penguins several years ago (even before I was awed by "March of the Penguins", an amazing movie). She sent me an e-card of New Year's resolutions. One of them was: Be kind to a penguin. For some reason, this struck me as hilarious, perhaps because it was amongst the more typical and prosaic "lose weight, call your mother more often, clean out your closets" list. Since then I've collected penguins.

(If you'd like to see the front of my house in the snow (sans penguins), click over to my solo blog here:

My little flapping friend wishes all the Yarnies here a happy holiday season and wonderful 2009! Thanks so much for being part of the RTY community. It's such a pleasure to spend time with all of you.


Question re neckline

Hi everyone and happiest of holidaze,  I have a knitting question.  I made a knit-from-the-top down v neck sweater out of cashsoft ( love this yarn so much I want to marry it.)  The sweater came out great EXCEPT that the neckline is a little bigger than I would like (it sort of falls in the back which annoys me.)  Is there anyway I can correct this or anything I can do to bring the neckline up a bit?  I don t know how to crochet (I thought of making a cool border).

Thanks, thanks and ho ho ho.

Grandma, her Prince, and Holiday Wishes

The second installment in the saga of my grandmother and her Indian prince can be found here at Totebags & Blogs. I hope you'll stop by and take a look.

With our usual great timing, Goldisox and I have managed to come down with something that's a cross between the Cold from Hell and a low-grade flu. I must say our red noses could give Rudolph a run for his money. Not exactly the holiday season we'd been dreaming about.

Still we're here, we're happy, we're healthy (colds don't really count in the grand scheme of things), we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and good friends. If more is required for a good life, I don't know what it could be. (More yarn? A set of Addi Interchangeables? Somebody stop me . . .)

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate I hope you have the merriest, happiest, most joyous ever!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

True Romance

Forget the roses. Give away the chocolates to someone else. Save the perfume for another day.
Want to know the way to a knitter's heart? Wear something your knitter made for you.

That's it. Simple, isn't it? It can't be faked. It can't be forced. Begging the recipient to wear that scarf or slip on those gloves just doesn't work. But let me tell you this: the sight of someone you loved enough to knit for happily wearing the item you knitted for him or her unleashes a powerful surge of emotions that can lead you into all sorts of wonderful possibilities.

I'm married forty years. (I'm 58 and married my one and only boyfriend. Make of that what you will but I would do it all over again with the same man in a heartbeat. No hesitation at all.) Anyway, I'm married longer than many of you have been alive and I know that while deep all-encompassing love is constant, fizzy, giddy romantic love tends to ebb and flow like the tides.

Last week Goldisox was heading out to the store and he popped up in the doorway of my office to ask if I needed anything and I just melted. Totally head-over-heels fell in love with him all over again. Why? He was wearing the zip-front sweater I knitted for him.

The sweater pretty much did me in. The fact that he was also wearing the Step socks I knitted for him turned me into total mush.

Knitting for someone is an act of love. Seeing that someone loving what you knitted for them? That's just about as good as it gets.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And The Evil Yarn Goes To

Chrissy S of Eden Prairie, Minnesota!

Good luck, Chrissy. That stuff has a mind of its own.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Either the Karabella Gossamer Goes or I Do

This yarn needs a time out. Seriously. It has a bad temper and a surly disposition and clearly doesn't want to live in NJ any longer.
If anyone is interested in one skein of Karabella Gossamer, shade #6111, send me an email right here with EVIL YARN in the subject header. Trust me, I'll know what you're talking about.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
PS: The winner will be announced Friday night.

Voodoo Handwarmers - Bonne Marie Burns

This is one of those patterns I've wanted to knit for literally years but never quite got around to casting on. I'm a huge fan of Bonne Marie Burns (Chicknits) and found this pattern on Knitty not long after I started knitting again.

It's dead easy, elegant (all of Bonne Marie's patterns are elegant), and quickquickquick to knit up. Not that any of us is up against a ticking clock, you understand. I'm just sayin' . . .

This pair is leftover Noro Silk Garden from Wavy. Shade #8. US5 32" circ. The thumb hole is a six-stitch buttonhole. I added a picot bind-off to girly it up a little.

Highly recommended!

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Color My World

The white lace scarf was giving me snow blindness, and I was eyeing with great longing all the brilliant colorways everyone else on this blog was working with for the holidays. So when DD requested a "knitted hat with earflaps" in a bright hue my color-starved heart leapt with joy. I bolted for the LYS and grabbed the skein of Manos #116 I had been coveting for weeks. I call it "mermaid yarn" because the turquoise blue reminds me of Caribbean waters and the variegated greens bring to mind the scales of the mermaid's tail.

Here's how it came out after blocking. It is a really basic pattern on #9 dpns (yes, I approached them with fear and trembling but I seem to have overcome my tendency to ladders) and took just one skein (138 yards) of the Manos, one of my favorite variegated yarns. It's soft, funky in its texture, and comes in gorgeous shades across the spectrum.

You cast on 70 stitches (I did 80 because I hate having my head squished and I knit tight anyway), alternate knitting and purling for 5 rows, then knit in rounds for 4 1/2 inches. Then you start decreasing by knitting 8, then knitting two together till the end. The next row is knitted even. Then you knit 7, knit two together, and continue to the end. Then knit a row even. You keep doing this with one fewer stitch between decreases until you knit 2 together all the way around. Then you knit some i-cord if you want a pointy top (I didn't so I just threaded the yarn through the remaining stitches and finished flat).

The earflaps are 11 stitches picked up from the cast-on row (I tried on the cap and marked where I wanted the flaps with safety pins). Knit 5 rows of garter (or stockinette) stitch. Knit 2 together at the beginning and end of next row. Knit the following row even. Keep doing this until you have 3 stitches left on the needle. Then you knit i-cord or garter stitch until the ties are as long as you want them (the pattern suggests 7 inches). I added tassels at the bottom of the ties and the crown of the hat because my daughter likes things a bit funky.

What a relief to escape from white lace for awhile! I needed the break! Now I'm casting on a simple seed-stitch scarf in another fun yarn which I'll show you when I've made more progress.

I can't believe I started and finished a Christmas gift within ten days of the the holiday. It can be done!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Was a One-Legged Swedish Coalminer

Got your attention, didn't I? If you want to read about my adventures in past-life regression, visit me at Novel Talk's blog.

And come back here later tonight for another yarn giveaway, okay?

Golden Market Bag

Fun project; a market bag for my sister, who lives in the city and can walk to farmer's markets should she so choose. (It'd also work nicely to hold balls of yarn, I think.) I love the cheerful colors, and how the two-tone worked out. The body of the bag worked up gratifyingly fast, though all the single crochet on the strap at the end was a bit frustrating, when I just wanted to be done done done. But that may have been because I did it all in a day (love those holiday deadlines) -- about 3-4 hours of solid crocheting, I think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Handpainted Sock Video courtesy Knitting Daily

Turn on the sound. Step away from hot liquids and sharp objects. Prepare to laugh!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Now I'm dreaming of cables

It's official. I am knitting obsessed. In fact, I'm so obsessed with the craft that I actually dreamed about it again last night.

There I was in the laundry room sorting through the clean clothes (which is a joke since Goldisox does 99.9% of the laundry in this house) (and all the vacuuming) (and the supermarket shopping) (and yes I know I'm one extremely fortunate woman) and what do I spy but a gorgeous pair of cyclamen pink cable knee socks!

"My missing socks!" I cry in a voice filled with the kind of joy usually reserved for winning lottery tickets. "Now I can throw away those awful pink silk balloons I've been wearing."

They were great socks too. All sinuous and throbbing with color and soft to the touch and so perfect I had a hard time believing I'd actually knitted them myself. Too bad my dream self didn't pass along the pattern because I'd love a real life pair.

There's no moral to this blog, no punchline. It's just further proof that once knitting gets you, you stay got.

(Hey, I didn't promise great grammar, did I?)

Friday, December 12, 2008

And one more thing . . .

Because when all is said and done, the gifts we remember are the handmade treasures and the books.

But Roy Blount, president of the Authors Guild, says it better than I can:

Holiday Message from Roy Blount Jr.: Buy Books From Your Local Bookstore, Now

December 11, 2008.

I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.

We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors Guild."

Enjoy the holidays.
Roy Blount Jr. President Authors Guild

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Books Make Great Gifts!

Better than chocolate! Better than a new pair of PJs! Better than just about anything!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kid Silk Haze Winner

And the winner is Susana B from Maryland! Congratulations, Susana. I have your address and will ship tomorrow.

Don't go away, knitters. I'll be putting up some Karabella #*@&! Gossamer tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you for making destashing so much fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Take My Kid Silk Haze . . . please!

Look at it sitting there all innocent and wide-eyed like it hasn't been trying to push me right over the edge.

Don't you believe that sweet and helpless act for a second. That stuff is the devil's workshop. It was put on earth to make knitters crazy. Okay, not all knitters but some knitters. This knitter, at any rate.

I hate it. I really do. Yes, it's soft. Yes, it's beautiful. Yes, it knits up into gorgeous fabric. But I hate it. I despise it. I'd like to drive my car over it. I'd like to throw it into a mud puddle.

At the moment I'm trying to wrestle some Karabella Gossamer into submission (I'm thinking of whacking it with a pair of US15s) and the thought of ever knitting again with anything even remotely similar makes me sob uncontrollably.

So if you are less faint-hearted than I and possessed of more skill and dexterity, maybe you'd like two untouched pristine skeins of Kid Silk Haze in the color shown above. Otherwise I swear it's going into the fireplace!

I know that sounds harsh but it's either the yarn or me. And I have a book to finish writing.

Send me an email here with HAZE in the subject header and I'll announce the winner on Thursday evening.

But don't blame me if you end up talking to yourself . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Progress Report

The Wavy Scarf is finally finished:

Noro Silk Garden #8.

Fiesta La Boheme "Famous" #2 is also finished:

No shawls were harmed while snapping the photo. (Ignore the branch stabbing through the edging.)

"Famous" is famously simple: Cast on 15 or so stitches, knit every row with an increase one stitch in from start. That's it. The yarn is pretty enough to do the rest for you.

Fiesta La Boheme - 1.5 skeins of Clematis
To be continued.

Too Hasty Publishing

Do you ever publish something and then later wish that you could take it back?

I wrote a story a few years ago, "Counting to Ten". I think I originally was futzing around with it as some sort of play -- it's very short, just a conversation between two sisters. And then one of the Catamaran editors contacted me and asked if I had anything, and I had this, so I sent it along and they published it. Today I finally got around to adding it to my site, so you can read it. It's about dating white boys and dealing with sisters and getting married and not getting married and such:

"Why is it that when your own life is totally fucked up that you try to fix other peoples' lives?"
"I don't know. You're the big sister, you're supposed to know the answers to these things."
"I don't know anything. That's about all I know."

It's sort of autobiographical, only not really -- it's more like an alternate history of my life. And there's a lot I like about it, but there are some fuzzy bits in the middle, and I really, really don't like the ending. The last line is weak, and it needs to be a lot punchier. I think this story really suffered from my being still mopey about the novel fiasco or something, because I didn't go through my normal workshop process with it -- was just so relieved to be finally writing again that I wrote it and just sent it out. And yesterday I finally picked up the issue of Catamaran that it appeared in, and read through it, and found that I really liked the issue (am going to subscribe). That's all good.

Here's the bad part: I thought my story was probably the weakest thing in there. Which pisses me off. I should've done better by this poor story.

Ah well. It's still worth reading, I think, even if it could've been better. I'd be interested to know what you think. And at least the next thing they're publishing of mine, "The Arrival," is something that a) has been workshopped thoroughly, and b) I'm really happy with.

Sunny Desi Potholders

I was going to make a sweater for my mother for Christmas. I bought the yarn, found a pattern, was all set to go. And then I realized that I had about a week left before I needed to put gifts in the mail and it was time to come to my senses. I turned to an old standby -- potholders!

I think one of the first crafts I did was latchhook -- I have vague memories of latchhooking some truly ugly potholders. These, on the other hand, are not ugly. At least I don't think so. With a S. Asian color scheme and theme; crocheted, with some embroidered flowers. One attempt at a hibiscus (maybe looks more like a palm tree, but tropical at least, right?), and some little flowers that I will persist in calling jasmine blossoms.

Hopefully my mom will actually use these, instead of 'saving them for good,' as she is wont to do. And maybe in January, I can actually start a sweater for her for next Christmas...

Monday, December 08, 2008


We have our winners: Georg and Adrienne F! Congratulations, knitters. I'll ship 'em out tomorrow.

There's some Kid Silk on the horizon too so stay tuned.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


<-- on sale 2/09

You know I'm always on the lookout for wonderful new additions to Romancing the Yarn and Florence Case fell into our collective lap when she posted a comment. (See? Nobody's safe around here.)

Right now Flo is battling one of those killer colds that make your head feel like burnt oatmeal but she'll be here in a day or two to introduce herself and I know you'll make her feel welcome.

In the meantime, why don't you visit her websites and see what she's been up to. You can find Flo here and here.

I'm so glad you found us, Flo!

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Christmas Green, Anyone?

I don't know about you, but I could use a jolt of holiday spirit right about now. To that end, I'm offering two lucky winners some Lamb's Pride Christmas Green worsted wool that's perfect for felting. (Yes, I'm enabling again. I can't help it.) The yarn is in the dining room and I'm not but I think I have four skeins (a project that isn't to be) which means two skeins per winner.

There's still time to knit something wonderful for somebody wonderful.

Just email me right here with GREEN in the subject header and the RNG will pick a pair of winners Monday night. Good luck!

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Touch Me Winner

Congratulations, Ann M! The Touch Me is all yours. All I need is your mailing address and we're in business. Check your inbox for my note but if it's easier, just email me right here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lotta's Winter Dress

My first knitting project! Partly knit, anyway. This is Kavi's favorite doll, a 15-inch from HABA; she adores it and carries it everywhere. HABA does sell multiple outfits for her, but they're a bit pricey. So I thought I'd try my hand at making something instead. I happened to have some bright blue yarn that matched a pair of Lotta's shoes, so a knit winter dress seemed like a good thing to attempt.

Casting-on was a disaster -- I tried the long-tail cast-on for about forty-five minutes, watching video tutorials and reading books, getting more and more frustrated, until I finally gave up in despair. Then I found instructions for crochet cast-on, which I managed to do in about two minutes. Lesson: stick to what you know.

Bodice: After several failed attempts I ended up giving up on the armhole idea -- frogged the whole thing, started over with separate front and back pieces, did knit and purl properly this time for a real stockinette stitch (I think, if I'm getting the terms right), which looked so much better than doing it all in knit. Front and back, knit in stockinette, about 20 stitches wide each, maybe 15 rows high; sewn together under arms and a few stitches above arms; embroidered lazy daisy in white.

At this point, I was tired of knitting, and decided to do the skirt in crochet. I was going to attach it, but realized partway through that two pieces would allow for more mix and match with other dolly clothes, and also be easier to pull on and off.

Skirt: crochetet dc, tr (increase 1 ever 3 stitches), sc, tr, shell for final row, white yarn to tie woven through twice (alternating loops), tie in double bow and cut strands for starburst closure. Done loosely enough that I can pull both pieces on and off as often as needed. :-)

Sadly, Kavi mostly seems intent on getting the outfit off the doll right now, strongly preferring the store-bought clothes instead. But hopefully they'll grow on her. I think it's cute, and if we discount the time I wasted on the failed long tail cast-on and the repeated armhole attempts, the whole project was done in an evening, maybe 2-3 hours total, while watching tv.

Vintage Velvet #3 - The Untold Story

  • Five skeins Muench Touch Me #3642
  • Jimmy Beans Wool
  • US8
  • Vintage Velvet designed by Lisa Daniels
  • From the book SCARF STYLES
1. A close-up of the finished knitted scarf, before felting and drying:

2. Another shot of the unfelted, undried scarf:

3. Here's the scarf right out of the washing machine after two 12 minute wash cycles (hot wash; cold rinse) in a zippered pillow case with two pairs of faded jeans for balance and agitation:

4. The finished product after 40+ minutes in the dryer and some fan time along the back of our sofa:

5. Same as above:

But all is not perfect in Vintage Velvet Land. Some odd little black bits are working their way out of the felted stitches. I think it's the yarn core showing itself. I'm clipping madly and crossing my fingers

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Yes, I Am An Enabler

I admit it. I am an enabler. When it comes to Muench Touch Me and Vintage Velvet, I am willing to beg you to give it a try. Yes, it's pricey. Yes, the felting part feels like one hell of a gamble but, trust me, it is sooooo worth it.

I felted Vintage Velvet #3 a little while ago and Goldisox had to pick me up from the floor after I swooned at the sight of its velvety lusciousness.
That's it in all its soaking wet glory, about to make the trip through the dryer.
I have one ball left over and I want to force it upon one lucky winner who promises me he or she will knit it up into something and felt it.
It is quite honestly to die for. Seriously.
Send me an email here with VV3 in the subject header and I'll put the RNG to work Saturday.
And in case you're wondering why we're quiet, the publishing world imploded yesterday. I think we're all still in shock. Scary times ahead for writers. And auto workers. And postal employees. And everybody else.
Knitting, anyone?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New York!

I'm off! I'm in my writing room, waiting to be picked up to go to the airport. It's the godawful hour of 3:10 in the morning, and I haven't had coffee, but I'M SO EXCITED.

I love New York. So do you, right? Everything about it sings to me. I'm a city girl at heart, and I feel home there.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting with my agent (Susanna Einstein) and my editor (May Chen). Susanna's taking me out for LUNCH. She made reservations.

I cannot get over how glamorous this sounds.

Honestly, this is the dream come true. Is there any way possible that actually having the ARC or book in my hands can be as exciting as this?

Everyone tells me to hold on to this feeling -- that this is the best. I am holding on to every little minute of it (like last night, when my sister gave me an engraved business-card holder for the trip), and this IS the best.

Also, packing for New York in winter includes LOTS of knitting. Three pairs knitted socks, two sweaters (that was hard -- I culled it down from four), two cowls, one scarf, two pair of mittens, and three hats (one is my new Gretel hat, seen above, in handspun).

Oh, boy. Here I go.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Knitting wish list

Every year at Christmas, my husband requests a Wish List of gifts I'd like to receive. I am oh-so-happy to comply, as this insures that I never receive a toaster or some weird kitchen appliance I don't want. (I have received appliances before, but only ones I asked for -- my dh is no dummy!)

This year, my wish list contains a number of Knitting must-haves. I thought I'd share here:

I love books and knitting books are no exception. Two on my list are I Can't Believe I'm Lace Knitting by Kay Meadors, which I hope will help me overcome my frustration with lace knitting.

I enjoyed the first Mason Dixon Knitting book so much that I've asked for the second one, Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.

Knitting Little Luxuries: Beautiful Accessories to Knit, by Louisa Harding caught my eye because I like quick projects that are girly and fun.

I love knitting socks, and I love doing so on double points. So how about a set of these gorgeous Harmony DPs from Knitpicks?

And I'll need some more yarn for those socks, so I'd like this Meadows Sock Yarn Sampler, also from Knitpicks.

So there are some of my knitting wishes for the holidays -- what's on your Wish List?

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Help?? How do You Make Holes in Knitting (on purpose)???

I'm not even sure I know how to explain my problem. Deep breath. Okie.

So, I set out to teach myself knitting today. Tried to learn the long tail cast-on through video tutorial. After forty-five minutes, gave up in frustration and disgust. Learned crochet cast-on instead in about two minutes, so much better (for me, crocheter). Then learned knit stitch (I think I'm doing it right). Not sure what the point is of purl stitch, but was feeling overwhelmed, so didn't even attempt to learn it. Instead, started knitting rows. This is what I have so far -- it looks vaguely okay, right? I mean, there's an error in practically every row, but aside from that, it looks like a knit piece, right?

But here's the thing. My plan was to use this to make a doll dress for my daughter's favorite doll, a 15-inch HABA doll named Lotta. Kavi loves that thing, and lugs it everywhere with her, and likes changing Lotta's outfits. I was going to knit the whole dress, but an hour of knitting convinced me that I didn't have the patience for that yet, not when crochet is SO MUCH FASTER. So I figured I'd knit the bodice and crochet a skirt and figure out how to attach them together. For the bodice, I'd make a long rectangle, fold it over and sew it into a tube. Good so far, right?

But then there's the question of sleeves. Sleeves scary. No sleeves. Sleeveless! Solved that problem, right? And I figured I'd just crochet little straps for the bodice to hang on, and attach those too. I have a blouse like that, very cute.

So I knit my merry way along, until I was showing it proudly to Kevin and he said, "But what about armholes?" And I panicked. Because I am right at the base of the dolly's arms now, and I have no idea how to do armholes! I was somehow not allowing for that in my grand plan. The end that's being sewn together, fine, I can leave space for an armhole. But I can't do that with the bit that's just in the middle of my big piece. Am I even explaining this coherently?

If I were crocheting, no problem. To make a hole, skip a few stiches, chain a few stitches above it. (Umm...not sure I know how to make a bigger hole that a triple crochet layer, now that I think about it. Maybe. Too tired to figure it out right now.) But the point being, all I know how to do right now in knitting is crochet cast-on and knit stitch, and I have no idea how to make a space for a dolly's arm to go through.

I suppose I could undo the whole thing, do it as two separate pieces, and sew them together, leaving space for the arms. That would probably be the neatest solution. But is it necessary? I just don't know!


Pride Goeth

I was so proud of my Best Foot Forward #2a sock. I finished it Sunday (one week after I started it) and was ready to jump into sock b. (I usually have two running at once but for some reason didn't this time.)

Anyway I was happily admiring my handiwork, praising myself lavishly for my skills, generally being utterly obnoxious when I noticed it: two (count 'em!) two adjacent popped stitches way waaaay up at the top near the cuff.

Where I started knitting.

A whole week ago.

I almost cried. How could I have missed them? When did it happen? Was it when I tried the sock on for length that they split? Why did they split? Was it to make me crazy? To remind me that socks, like books, benefit from revision? (Subtle, huh? My muse is of the mallet-to-the-head variety.)

I know that almost all knitted wrongs can be righted and this is no exception. I got out my trusty steel crochet hook and worked all those purls back up as far as I could and secured them in place. I haven't yet decided how I want to secure them permanently but for the moment they're under control.

Or are they? Is it possible my knitting has a mind of its own, same as all of my electronic equipment? What a horrible thought . . .

Details: 1 skein Rowan CashSoft, US4 Addi Turbo Lace

Finished First Socks!

I finished my first pair of socks! Crocheted, of course, with thanks to Linda Diak for the free pattern. I didn’t know about different weights of yarn when I started these, so they’re perhaps a bit thick in a worsted weight. But they’re super-comfy on, a little more like slippers than socks (but not really actual slippers). When Kevin wears them under his shoes, they bunch up a little at the heel; not sure if that means I made them too big, or if it’s just that the yarn is too heavy (and/or crocheted)?

I do like the yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease, pleasant to work with. Washed with a regular load (warm wash, heated dry), and they got nice and soft and didn’t seem to shrink noticeably. The whole project took me about a month, but that's because after I did one sock, I think they sat for at least three weeks before I motivated to start the second one. Next time I do socks, maybe I need to start both at once? Actual crocheting time was only about six hours total, I think.

Even if they don't work fabulously under shoes, they’re definitely warm and snuggly for wandering around the house (a nice layer with actual slippers)! The woods print is rather lovely, in an understated sort of way. And the pattern was super-simple, easy for a beginner. So what if one sock did come out slightly bigger than the other? – so are his feet! :-)

(Feet pictured above are mine, not his, worn with an extra layer of regular socks under the ones I made.)


During World War II, knitting was but one way Americans could support the war effort. Not only did the socks, mufflers and sweaters that people knitted or crocheted keep American soldiers warm on those far-off battlefields, it also provided them with a hand-made reminder of home.

In those days the Red Cross supplied patterns for sweaters, socks, mufflers, fingerless mitts to keep their hands warm while shooting (everything old is new again!) and toe and stump covers for injured soldiers.

Today, the National WWII Museum is sponsoring its own Knit Your Bit campaign. This is their effort to honor WWII veterans and they call it Knitting for Veterans. In this instance, they're asking us to knit a simple but cozy scarf to be donated to a veteran in a Veterans Center somewhere in the United States. They'll even supply the pattern - knitting or crocheting, your choice - same as the Red Cross did back when.

If you have some extra yarn and a little spare time and you're interested in doing something special for one of our surviving WWII veterans, visit Knit Your Bit at

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Monday, December 01, 2008

'Knit' a holiday sweater

Apparently, ugly holiday sweater parties are all the rage in some circles. Guests are invited to wear their most garish holiday sweater --the one with glitter, bells, reindeer, Christmas trees, Santa -- the more bling the merrier. Vintage stores report a run on holiday sweaters this time of year.

Now you can 'knit' your own holiday sweater and make it as wild and amazing as you like, thanks to the folks at

Browse their gallery of holiday sweaters, then 'knit' your own, selecting the style, color and embellishments.

Confession time -- do any of you own a holiday sweater like this? Do you wear it?

The closest I come is a fleece top with a snowman and birds -- and yes, I do wear it.