Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's so easy

Last time my older daughter visited, I gleefully showed her my new yarns and all the patterns in the pile of projects up for consideration. I was hoping she'd do what she usually does and tell me what to make her for Christmas next year. She didn't pick anything from the pile though. Nope, what she really wanted was a fuzzy cowl just like mine.

That cowl is ancient. It was my first attempt at knitting in the round. I used ivory-colored Jiffy yarn from the bargain bin and the pattern on the backside of the wrapper. For ten years, I've done winter chores with that ugly bunch of yarn bunched around my neck -- or maybe pulled up over my ears. If I wasn't wearing it, one of the girls had it. It's been through the washer countless times to remove the kind of unpleasantly fragrant dirt one picks up in a barn, and I've probably picked a couple of bales worth of hay bits from it through the years.

I tried tempting her patterns for scarves, a cabled neckwarmer with a pretty button, and a lace mobieus. Nope, she wanted a cowl like mine. I offered her mine, but she didn't think ivory was her color. Fortunately, I have the equivalent of a small yarn store in my attic. Deep in a back corner, I unearthed a Rubbermaid tub full of Jiffy skeins from the bargain bin -- none of which had the right pattern on the wrapper. In the guest room closet I found the needle set I used for the original. Then I sat down and counted stitches and rows and sections.

After a few evenings' worth of knitting, it was time for show and tell. I was having an indecisive day though. I couldn't decide whether I liked the photo taken on the oak table (top) or the one where I draped the work in progress over the garden fence. I like outdoor pictures better most of the time, but it was early morning and I could either shoot into the sunlight or deal with the sunlight & shadow issues from the garden gate, the stone wall . . . and me.

I tried another fence. I draped it over a limb, then a big flower pot. Then I tried this big tree stump. What do you think? Where's the best place to photograph a winter work-in-progress?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

$1 + $1 =

I'm not a garage sale addict. In fact, I rarely even go to garage sales. But while out on a walk one unusually nice day a few weeks ago, I happened upon a neighbor's garage sale. I went up to say "hi" to the neighbor I hadn't seen much of this awful winter but had no intention of buying anything. Until I spotted the basket full of yarn. Sock yarn. Scarf yarn. Shawl yarn. Sweater yarn. Hat and mittens yarn. A veritable rainbow of yarn.

And all for $1 a ball.

Sucker, I called myself as I started sorting through the basket of yarn. Fortunately, I only had a couple dollars on me. $2, to be exact. Just enough to buy enough sock yarn for a pair of socks.

Now I'm not a hugely talented sock knitter like some of our authors here - not to mention some of our readers. But I want to be better at it, I really do. And I thought this might be the perfect time to give it a shot.

So here you have it: My socks, knit on size 2 needles with a self-striping yarn from Knit Picks.

They're beautiful, if I do say so myself. But there is a problem ... they're too big. They slide down my legs and gather at my ankles, making it difficult to put on my shoes. And my shoes are slides! I've been told by someone who should know that I can measure before I start knitting my next pair of socks (should I be so foolish as to knit another pair). Unfortunately, that same someone didn't tell me how to do the measuring.

Here's the question, then: How do you get your socks to fit your legs, ankles and feet?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

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Monday, February 18, 2008


Have I mentioned my teen-aged daughter is a bit of a slob? I was in her room the other day and decided a felted bowl might help de-clutter her dresser. So I enlisted Barbara Bretton the Bowl Goddess' help to fashion a container for the mess. I wanted to make the bowl a little funky since it's for a teenager. However, I think I went overboard and I have christened it "The Tribbowl". Any Trekkies out there who know what I'm talking about?

Here it is. To be fair, my DD loves it and it has indeed calmed the clutter.

Side view:

Top view:

I had some Lamb's Pride Bulky left over from the felted box I knitted awhile ago so I used that doubled (which makes the bowl incredibly sturdy I must say). I added the fuzzy novelty yarn because my DD bought it for me on a band trip to Washington (such a thoughtful child!). Of course, I ran out of the Lamb's Pride right as I got to the final four or five rows and had to make an emergency jaunt to the LYS. Hence the yellow spot on the bottom; I couldn't stand waiting for them to order matching yarn for such an impulsive project. And I kind of like the color scheme.

Just for an extra challenge, I used the long tail method of casting on because I found instructions on how to join it in circular knitting. With doubled yarn, it's a bit bulky but I can see it being very smooth with a single strand. Here's the link in case you're intrigued:

BTW, I hold Barbara completely blameless for the end result of this bowl. She gave me a perfectly good pattern and I got in, ahem, tribble with it.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Advice Well-Taken

When you guys speak, I listen. To prove it, I offer up photos of the swatch I knitted at your suggestion to test the giant black MIL sweater's felting potential (complete with 4 inch square in red thread for gauge testing). You probably can't really see the difference in texture from the photos but it worked brilliantly. The Cascade Eco+ firmed up nicely so I don't think she'll have the stretching problems any more. However, thanks to swatch testing I didn't overfelt it--the texture is still very sweater-like. The sleeves shortened just enough while I was able to block out the zipper section so it didn't ripple.
Pre-felting swatch:
Post-felting swatch:
Another case in point: following your helpful advice, I took the Rather Huge Noni Bag to a shoe repair shop to have the leather handles sewn on (since my New Jersey suburb isn't rolling in saddle shops--LOL!). He did a wonderful job of making the handles strong and secure.
Here's the up close photo of the shoemaker's stitching.
And here's my Noni Bag all ready to carry yarn, books and the kitchen sink. Did I mention it's Rather Huge?
Thank you all for the incredibly useful, truly fabulous suggestions! What would I do without the yarn geniuses here on RTY?
Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bad dog!

Meet Dinah, working farmcollie in training, age 8 months. She's stuck inside because she's having her first heat cycle, and she's too young to be a mama yet. She can't go out to help scare away coyotes. Can't round up the ducks or break up rooster fights. The housecats are so unimpressed with her friendly overtures. She's bored, bored, bored. It's the formula for mayhem, I tell ya.

See the mess she made of the sweater I just started? She feels bad about that. Doesn't she look so very sorry?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More temptations

It's snowing, and I'm not even going to attempt to upload a photo because that never goes well under these conditions. (I have satellite internet, which is awesome most days and less wonderful when the sky is thick with gray clouds and a lot of wet stuff.)

Instead, I offer these links to yummy yarn temptations -- two of my favorite email lists where it's fiber heaven all the time. I'm on a yarn-buying hiatus while I work on my stash, but I'm a dreamer and just love that window-shopping. How handy that these lists deliver links to gorgeous, drool-worthy yarns every day!

Sock Yarn Sales - located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sockyarnsales/
Check this list for lots of yarn offerings in handspun, hand-dyed and a few vendors who specialize in overstocks and discontinued yarns from well-known companies.

Fiberfling - located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fiberfling/
Offerings include yarns, raw & processed wool of all types, tools, and an occasional rant about issues that affect fiber producers.

Check them out - enjoy!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Very bad influences

You all are very, very bad influences! I have started down yet another slippery slope and it's all your fault. See that beautiful cream yarn with the flecks of sparkling silver (yes, real sterling silver!) in it? I bought that at my LYS yesterday JUST BECAUSE I LIKED IT. Never before have I bought yarn JUST BECAUSE I LIKED IT. I always had a project in mind or a compelling reason for my purchase (like the Quiviuk you all raved about). But you kept talking about your yarn stashes so I was led astray.

Yarn details: Kraemer "Sterling Silk and Silver", 63% superwash merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon, 2% silver.

My rationalization is that I'm going to use it to practice lace knitting so that I will be a pro when I start the Quiviuk (also your fault as I mentioned above) project. But I am not kidding myself here. I just WANTED it and that's the real reason I scooped it up off the display table and took it to the cash register.

And another thing: I decided to felt stuff tonight, something you bloggers introduced me to, and went roaring around the house, ripping off pillow cases to get at the pillow covers beneath so I could put my felting projects in them before throwing them in the washing machine. My family thinks I'm insane! Your fault!

Now I subscribe to TWO knitting magazines you all recommended. I'm laying that at your doorstep too!

At least I foiled you in your dastardly attempts to get me addicted to socks. Ha!

What new vice will you introduce me to next? I tremble to think.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

What to Do With Wool?

My pastor, who is a spinner, has given me a bunch of lovely, hand-spun wool. It's a beautiful silvery color, worsted weight. She thinks I'm going to knit a sweater for myself, but I'd love to knit something for her. I was thinking of a felted cardigan or jacket. Have any of you done anything like that? Any recommendations for patterns?

Or should I not risk it and stick with an un-felted sweater?

I liked the recommendation of knitting a swatch and have done so -- it's in the washer now.

I welcome all suggestions.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Need to know: A felting question

Remember the big black MIL sweater? Well, the yarn is not holding its shape so I've taken it back and thought I'd try felting it a bit. What's the collective wisdom of this blog on the advisability of trying that? Any helpful hints on how to judge whether it's "felted enough"?

Another question: once I've taken it out of the washer, blocked it and let it dry, can I put it back in the washer and do it again or is that a bad idea?

I can't bear to have all that work go to waste so I really want to make this sweater work.

The yarn is Cascade Eco + which I believe is suitable for felting but feel free to tell me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for your help! I really, really appreciate it!

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