Thursday, January 30, 2003

I have a dreadful secret. Well, it's not so dreadful, but it is kind of a secret. I hate the baby sweater. I know! I've gotten it all done but the sleeves! I even seamed it up to show that I can do it! I've figured out (I think) the button band! But I hate it. And...I've started a second baby sweater. One that I intend to finish and mail out within the next 10 business days. Because I don't want to be an Auntie (or Tia) who breaks promises - but I also don't want to be ugly-sweater-making-auntie either.

Whew. I feel better. I'm going to make the Lion Brand one stitch baby sweater in Lavender Wool-Ease. I figure I can manage garter stitch at work as I walk people through the Windows XP Internet Connection Wizard and Outlook Express 6 set up. "Select blah, click next. In lowercase letters type blah, click next..."

In other news...I desperately want to joing the Fuzzy Feet felt-along. My big concern right now do I get the yarn? I don't think the boy will encorage it...he's not incredibly amused by my knitting so much. Or my multiple projects. And I don't have any 10.5 needles, though I do have plenty of 11's. So really, I guess I just need to figure out the yarn angle. Maybe I can pick some up this weekend.

So Heather, what do you think? Are you up for trying to make your first pair of socks on big needles with wool, and then felt away the mistakes? It might be a good way to dip your toe into the sock-making pool...

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Not So Confidential Note To Heather:

Don't be intimidated by socks! Really, the turning of the heel is not that complicated...for me, it's the picking up of stitches that sucks. Oh, and of course, Kitchener. Though, you can always practice picking up stitches, and you can try a 3 needle bind off instead of Kitchenering the toe. Let me break down sock making for you (and any one else intimidated by socks):

Part 1: The Cast On

This part can be tricky. If you are a tight knitter, the cast on needs to be especially flexible. I find that casting on over two needles held together, or a needle 2 sizes up is helpful. The particular cast on should be a flexible one, too. The long-tail cast on works well for me, and I think the knitted cast on is a good idea, too. Don't try to cast on your stitches on separate needles, you'll drive yourself nuts! Cast the stitches onto one needle, then separate them out onto 3dpns (or 4 if you're doing it that way). I like using 2 circular needles, but I find my cast on gets too tight that way. I usually cast on to 3 needles, work a few rows, then switch to 2 circs.

Part 2: The Cuff/Leg

This is the fun, easy part. Which isn't to say that it was easy the first time. The cuff of my first sock is very sad indeed. I started it inside out somehow (purl'd every row instead of knit, because it sat funny on the needles) with twisted stitches and horrible laddering (loose spots in the knitting where the dpn's meet). Matt's mother set me straight in approximately 2 minutes. "What on earth are you doing here? Oh, you're backwards and twisted. Just do this, this and this....there you go!" She is very amazing.

Most patterns call for a ribbed cuff, so that it is flexible to fit around a calf comfortably, and so that you can easily pull the sock over your heel. Sometimes the leg portion of the sock is referred to as the cuff in the pattern, but in my head there is the ribbed cuff, then the leg part of the sock that goes from cuff to heel, and most frequently has some sort of plain stockinette or pattern stitch.

Part 3: The Heel Flap

I love making heel flaps. Really. After working on your tube for several inches, you re-arrange your stitches into two groups, the top of the foot (top of the instep) and the heel flap. The heel is then worked back and forth, knit and purl. There are a number of different heel stitches, designed for durability and decoration, and fit. Most patterns will tell you which one to use, but the important thing is that you slip the first stitch of every row. This will form a nice chain, which makes it easier to tell where to pick up the stitches.

Part 4: Turning the Heel

Not only do I love making heel flaps, I love turning the heel. I love that my strategic decreases makes an architectural difference in the finished project. One of the first things I made that was similar to turning the heel was a pair of Debbie Bliss booties that used strategic decreases to make the bootie toe shaping. So when I encountered the same technique on my first pair of socks, I was pleased. Working back and forth and turning the work is also a nice change of pace before the continued tube that is the instep of the foot.

Part 5: Picking up Gusset Stitches

This, to me, is the trickiest part. When done nicely, it really enhances the look of the sock. When done poorly, it makes something look, well, handmade, and not in the good sense. In the "Oh, you made those yourself, didn't you?" way, not the "Oh my god, you did NOT make those!" way. I just saw a hint online about using a crochet hook to pick up stitches, which is a good idea. This is also where having a set of 5 dpns rather than a set of 4 comes in very handy, and the first time I did it I really wished I had someone to watch. After the gusset stitches are picked up, then you have some decreases. I like this part - I like the structural quality of the decrease lines. Just another wacky aesthetic quality I enjoy.

(Incidentally, all these heel and gusset steps are a little different if you make a short row heel. I don't really have any experience with that, except for the notorious pair of Circus socks, which I'll link to later.)

Part 6: Instep

The instep. You've made it to the home stretch! This is like the cuff/leg for me. Just knit and knit and knit. Many people continue the pattern from the cuff/leg onto the top of the instep. Aside from being tricky through the heel, doing patterns on the bottom of the foot can feel strange in shoes. I noticed from looking at Matt's socks (he gets tons of hiking/wool blend socks for Christmas each year) that a lot of ribbed socks (a 2 by 2 or 2 by 1) continue the cuff ribbing down to the instep. There is more flexibilty that way in terms of sizing, and it looks nice.

Part 7: Toe

Now you've reached the toe decreases. Another fun part, because your almost done. This is pretty simple, and like the gusset decreases, I really love the way it looks.

Part 8: Finishing

Finishing, for the most part, equals Kitchenering the toe. I have kitchenered with limited success until recently, and had a kitchener epiphany. I don't know how I had it...I just followed instructions, the same way I do every time...and it just WORKED. I've also had pretty good success with a 3 needle bind-off, also. Some people (with sensitive skin/feet) may notice the toe seam, but honestly, its not much worse then commercial socks.

So, there it is. My sock knitting experiences.
Here are some links to much more articulate sock instructions. I'm not trying to really teach anything with my descriptions, just give some fellow knitters my perspective on knitting socks.

REAL sock links:

* from The Complete Knitting Collection

* decisive links and photos here

* and of course, Socknitters

I have some more links in the archives for sock patterns, lessons, and pattern generators. I will try to get them all in place, soon.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Finished two mini-gifts for a friend, which I'll try to post later. A miniature Harry Potter scarf, house Slytherin colors. I will try to finish the full sized version by the time book 5 comes out! And a swatch of a sweater pattern I said I'd help her with. She wants a sweater for a Doctor Who costume. I forget which Doctor it is (only seen the show a few times) but he's the one w/ the celery. Goal for this week: finish the sleeves and ribbing on the damn baby sweater. Then the groundhog day scarf. Hoo boy, I'm a busy little bee, let me tell you.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Started a 3rd silk garden hat, colorway 53 - or maybe 53 was the first one...I've gotten all the ball bands confused at thsi point. I think the 2nd one was colorway 50. Hope I can get a snug fit with this one that covers my ears totally. If it's too snug, I can give it to someone with a smaller head (mine is a little big) and I'll just suffer through the intense floppiness of the one I finished last week. Though, I still am holding one skein of silk garden in reserve...


Noro yarn. lots of it.

article about knitting - in MA!

Local to me...

Textile Traditions, Inc.
165 Front St., Chicopee, MA 01013, 413.557.1505,

The Creative Needle
233 North Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002, 413.549.6106
(I love this place, I'll have to write about it later)

Northampton Wools
Linda Daniels, 11 Pleasant St., Northampton, MA 01060, 413.586.4331
(this is what I think of when I think of LYS)

Sojourner Sheep
Diane Roeder, 502 North Farms Rd., Northampton, MA 01062, 413.586.4822,, Icelandic, Icelandic/FinnXs

Webs/Valley Fibers Corp.
Arthur Elkins, 75 Service Center Rd., PO Box 147, Northampton, MA 01060, 413.584.2225
(the fabled Webs, right in my backyard)

Textile Image Knittery Inc
41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035
(413) 585-9665

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

I want to be working on so many things! I am never going to finish this silly scarf for my friend. Who thought a 6 foot long tube of stockinette on size 6 needles was a great idea?! If I had a knitting machine, probably the only thing I'd make on it would be scarves, but damn, I wish I had one now to just finish this up.

Screwed up increases on my toe up sock. Rather than frog, I am attempting to finagle a correction, decreasing the extra increases, but over a few more rows. I have really wide feet anyway, and this pair of socks is so bizarre. I keep wondering if I'm going to reach the mythical point where I think it's okay to rip, rather than try to work around my mistakes.

Monday, January 20, 2003

culled from this harry potter site:

"Hogwarts scarves have twenty-one stripes: eleven dark stripes and ten light ones, and they begin and end in a dark stripe. Each end has eleven bunches of fringe: six dark and five light, again with dark fringe on both edges."

This is particularly funny in regards to threads on both the knitlist and the knitflame list. I agree 1000% (not a typo, really one thousand percent) with one person who posted to their blog (or maybe it was in a comment, I don't remember now) who said that she wished people would try google before they posted to the knitlist. personally, I am so incredibly tired of this leftie/righty knitting thread that I switched to digest and am half a step away from getting off the knitlist altogether. I think I've absorbed all the usefullness I'm going to get from it.

to learn for sweater:
mattress stitch
(note: my previous seaming attempts have been so very awful, I've been scared to do anything w/ seams since. nothing ruins even, gorgeous knitting like a crappy seam)

book lust of the day:
Folk Shawls

current yarn lust:
the sale portrait
(I don't know why I don't just order it already! Oh wait, I do. Already blown my January yarn budget...)

ongoing project wishful thinking:
Irish Mist

Sunday, January 19, 2003

more list and links

cute sock and hat set. ooh, and cascade fixation yarn and patterns - here.

Schoeller Esslinger Vulcano

size 0 bamboo dpn's

patterns arranged by needle size
phew. i haven't really made a serious update in a while. it's funny, i finally am starting to acquire the tools i need to make a nice (and serious) website, but now i no longer have a job that gives me the time and flexibility to do it. oh well.

my friend jenn hurt herself the other day, so i gave her a surprise knitted gift earlier than i planned. i made a one skein silk garden hat (mentioned in this entry, and found on this page). i had planned to make a few and offer her first choice, but she saw the one i finished, and as i was opening my mouth to say "do you want one?" she was opening her mouth to say, "can i comission one?". so i told her if she liked that one, she could have it...and she did, so she does!

i also spoke to my mom today, and she LOVES the socks i gave her for christmas. i still cannot find the original pair (completed in, like, OCTOBER), but sent her the replacement pair. i made them to fit me, but smidge tight/short. she says they fit her like a glove, or, she said, "like they were custom made!" which they were!

also, in more knitting ego-stroking, matt's mom was here for lunch before work, and i showed her how to make 2 socks at once on 2 circular needles. this is my first pair, and i'm still on the cuff, but she was blown away. first, at the thought that someone thought of how to do it; and second, that i grasped how to do it and was zipping right along (as fast as you can "zip" on size 1's and 9 spi). so that was very gratifying. i have to say that i've learned a lot from matt's mom, at least as far as socks go. she helped me turn my first sock right-side-to, and helped me learn how to un-twist all my stitches. i would like to knit her something some time, but i'm a little intimidated. she's soooo good! it would be like knitting my nana something, though i think nana would love anything, and she'd be proud because she's the one who taught me in the first place!

phew. i think this is the longest i've written in a while, which is too bad. i really do intend to make this a much more comprehensive, fully functional knitblog, but i have experienced many set backs. maybe now that the yarn/computer room is almost clean, i will be able to focus more...i really, really, really want to do something for the fantastic fiber voyage but i also need to get my comments working, and a gallery page up. oh well, i'll figure out something.

just one crafty link today:
* Mendel's

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Virgil says hi. In this picture he is taking a break from eating circular needles to just look cute.

He's just jealous that I ooh and ah over every Izzy picture.

Crazy, crazy knitting. Crazy, crazy job. Will post seriously, soon.

* WNW Discounter
* Needle Arts Book Shop
* Lion Brand
* KnitPicks

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

hooo-wee! I think my new seat at work is directly under a vent. I spent most of today freezing and thinking about knitting wrist warmers and shawls.

LINKS (mostly curried from knitlist and blog-hopping)

shawl page - insipiring!

Whippoorwill Hill Socks

the infamous (and ubiquitous) knitting mary

heels by number

Monday, January 13, 2003

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Even though holiday knitting is technically over, I still seem to have tons of projects w/ deadlines. The slytherin scarf is NOT getting done, because I'm working on my mom's replacement socks, and the baby sweater.

current wish list (the short one)

* Knit it! (both this year and last year's)

* knitpicks - more aspen, tudor roses, size 1's??, portrait


simple toe-up socks

historical knitting, sort of