Friday, February 27, 2009

Mythological Socks and Gusset Hole Prevention

Socks I knit aren't usually form-fitting (in that "exactly fitted around the ankle so it stays and holds nicely with no slipping whatsoever"), but this one is - and I actually *really* like it that way. It feels kinda like I'm wearing a skate - which is a warm-fuzzy. I hate the feeling of Loose Things around my ankles - it means I could slip, or land wrong (see, this is what happens when you're conditioned to something as a child. You still feel it's important decades after the fact when it doesn't actually apply at all.) Anyway, here is my perfect-at-the-ankle sock:

Me and my Little Sock

Here is my Sock #1 all finished, and the start of my left sock, Sock #2. Note how they're both in the photo so you have proof of my second-sockness. (I've got to get one of those mannequin feet that Wendy Johnson has - taking photos of my own feet is just a bit too much of a challenge these days.)

I'm trying to finish up my Checkerboard Waves Headscarf before the end of the month, so I'm knitting furiously on that. (Why? Because if I don't finish at least one thing in February - and right now, I've finished nothing - my monthly average for 2009 will be under two finishes a month, and that is NOT allowed to happen!) Hopefully, photos, and possibly the whole pattern for that up next week.

Also found this very helpful video on the elimination of Pesky Gusset Holes, which I should *NOT* be getting, but tend to sneak in from time to time due to my inability to count stitches after 9pm:


Enjoy your weekend, everyone!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace!

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns - Silk Lace

When I first started knitting, I couldn't touch woolly things. My hands would turn red, the hives would start, the watering-of-the-eyes, the whole fun allergy thing would take right off. Mind you, I figured out how to knit in gardening gloves, because as long as the stuff didn't hit my skin, one tiny Benadryl would keep the rest of the symptoms at bay. Over time, I self-inoculated (like allergy shots, just on the outside), so I'm about two years short of being able to hug an actual sheep. Yarn just doesn't bother me any more... but back when it did, I wanted to learn to knit lace. Specifically, I wanted to knit The Peacock Feathers Shawl by Fiddlesticks Knitting.

Here's Malle from Estonia's finished shawl - she did a lovely job!! I wish I read Estonian (?) - her trip to Egypt looks *really* cool, and her lace is beautiful! I mean - this shawl is going to look AMAZING in my "Ocean Depth" when I finally get it finished!

Not done in Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace - but OMG, it's gorgeous!!

Every yarn seems to have The Project That Started It All, and this was It for me. I actually tried it in acrylic (!), and it wasn't working well. (I did, on the other hand, get the hang of reading a lace chart and left- and right-leaning increases and decreases, which are very easy to see in acrylic yarn, so if you're teaching someone, that might not be such a bad idea until they "get" it.)

Now, in the world of lace-yarn, there aren't a whole lot of completely sheep-free, goat-free options out there, but of those, my favorite was this:

"Ocean Depth" Colorway

(Note: DO, definitely, without-a-doubt, take the time to ball up this yarn before knitting. You can only get about 100 rows by having the skein draped artfully around your neck before something will happen (bus ride, revolving door, puppy, curious neighbor-child) that will make you strangle yourself by accident. It takes a while, but less time than it explains to everyone you know what the funny marks on one side of your neck are.)

This is an "expensive" yarn per skein - in early 2009, a skein goes for around $40 in my neighborhood. However, one skein will get you an entire shawl. So, as most projects go - it's not expensive at all! It's pretty popular out there, mainly for shawls, since "lace" is usually a shawl-thing... and I don't see "silk tablecloths" coming into vogue any time soon.

Becca in Sonora [Ravelry ID] did the Phoenix Rising shawl out of it, and has what has to be THE COOLEST triangular-shawl-blocking-system EVER:

Becca's very cool photo of her very cool blocking!

Aubra is doing her Adamas Shawl in the "Purple Earth" colorway.

Ooooo, the pretty!

I'm making my Tiger Eye Shawl out of it (... hm. I need a more recent photo, this is actually much further along):

"Ingrid's Blue" Colorway

... and eventually, I'll get back to my Secret of the Stole I, which I've now frogged twice - not through any fault of the yarn, I should add!

"Pistachio" colorway

Jen made the Lilly of the Valley Stole from Lace Style (I've made this) in the "Wisteria" colorway, and took the coolest photo of it... I love the shadow of the lace:

It's not just shawls, either. Barrista [Ravelry ID] made the Stone Path Hat from the Winter '07 issue of Interweave Knits:

A silk hat - how cool is that?

Adrienne [Ravelry ID "Asappa"] made Judith Durant's "Alpaca Warmers", from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders:

Silk gloves. I think I'm in love...!

For her mom, Webhil made Sherry Xie's Traveling Fern Lace Scarf (free Ravelry download!) (see her etsy page):

Erin [Ravelry ID "AsilomarKnitter] decided to frog her Perfection Wrap (from More Big Girl Knits), but I'm glad she took this lovely photo before she did:

The depth and the intensity of the colors Claudia gets in this yarn has to be seen in person - so look some up if you get a chance. While Uniquities in Vienna, VA usually has a few skeins on hand, I've discovered that if I'm trying to find a particular colorway, I have the best luck getting it through Knitty-Noddy, out in Washington state (follow that link to see ALLLLLLL the pretty colors!!). Friendly, helpful, and willing to special-order (which is really what I'm looking for in a lovely on-line yarn store).

That's it for this week, hope you enjoyed the pretties!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cross-Stitch Filler!

As proof of my PADD, I show you this lovely phoenix (design by "Who Knew!?"), which is presently about half-again more stitched than it was before. (I made a personal-use copy of the chart to mark up with hideous lime-green washable Crayola marker; this helped a lot.) And, having gotten a lot of the red stitches and orange stitches on one side finished... I once again lost interest. (Mostly because my kit from Sanguine Gryphon showed up, and had the bestest sock ever in it...)

Also, I've been not-quite-sick-enough to dodge work, but not well enough to actually spend much time knitting. I think I've done a whopping five rows on the sock since Sunday night - and that's *all* the crafting I've been doing. Hence, photos of things that I was saving in case I had a day with no material to post.

Like today.

Don't worry, I'll be putting together Yarn on Thursday in between bouts of Banking and Stock Market Panic at work this afternoon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pay it Forward...

I got an award!! Wheee!!

I got it from Kniterdone, and just looking into the idea behind it is wonderful: paying it forward/helping out as you can, just because you can (and sometimes even if you can't). It all started at Sojourner's Place, a great blog/online resource all on its own, and deservedly award-winning for the vast array of things it covers - history, politics, news, missing children, etc., from a working African-American woman's perspective - and, oh yeah, it's a good read as a blog, too. Check it out.

I'm to pass it on, and I haven't any time to think about to who, so just off the top of my head, here you go...

Carrie, for her work with the Athens Clarke Literacy Council. (PS, it's possible to win a pair of socks, handknit by her, if you enter her raffle by donating to the ACLC. Details on her blog, here.

Darla, for her positive attitude, and for being one of the few new bloggers on the internet who got, right off the bat, that everyone doesn't have to agree with what you write! She has her views (so there!), and that's cool!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yarn, Fun - and a Contest!

Oooo! Hey, local yarnies - there's a fun event coming up next month!! (Full details at, summary here.)

Where: Historic Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, MD 20763 - it's just off I-95, and there's plenty of parking!

When: Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 12 PM to 4 PM

Now, here's the sneaky part... check out this entry on the Homespun Yarn Party blog for a cool little contest.

(Hint, hint!!)

(See, I'm gonna make you click through to see all the wonderful details. I'm just mean that way!)

Isn't that a neat idea? And it's during the day, so I could conceivably drive myself!! Wheeee!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Little Mitten Lost...

The sadness of a little lost mitten, on a sidewalk by the highway. Poor little mitten!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Magic Socks!!

Back in the dawn of days (we'll call it the "80's"), I was headed off to college. I ended up going to a Math Intensive Type-school, for reasons that still escape me, other than it was a blast, I had fun, and I managed to leave on time, with a degree that I actually used for a few years. Had I not gone there, I'd have gone to a liberal arts college nearby, and majored in classical history, art and mythology, with a minor in Italian, and what classes I could muster in Ancient Greek. My masters would've been narrowed down to art & mythology; my PhD (well, I would've gone for it, I know me) would've been centered around some theme in Greco-Roman pantheistic mythology. Preferably one where I'd have an excuse to wander around Greece and Italy in search of ruins, art, and local variations on various myths (aka "poking around in old books and museums and libraries and private collections to my heart's content").

The reason I tell you this is so that you will understand why my husband thought I'd been shot when I started screaming (loudly: "EEEEEE! EEEEEEEEEEE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!") when I got the most recent Fairy Tale Sock Club box in the mail last Thursday evening. Rather than strictly a fairy tale, these socks are based off one of the most well-known of the ancient Greek myths/histories out there: Theseus and the Minotaur. And they're based on one of the most well-known ancient Greek art forms: the Red Figured vase. (Example of the Gods and Goddesses on a vase, here.)

I should also add here that I love the Greek Key motif. My baby grand piano has it carved around the edges as decoration. The lovely treat-dishes on said piano have it. I inlaid the floor on the other side of the chimney from said piano with a Greek Key.

For me, socks really don't get any better. You get the idea now, yes? Anyway, I started them right away - balled up the yarn and everything, figured out how I could follow the pattern and still wear the socks (I'm experimenting with being able to knit much more tightly than I do... more like a 'normal person'...). Squealed a lot more. Loudly. (My poor husband. And he was home sick, too.)

Sadly, I was sleeping much of the weekend, or running around a convention - neither of which is conducive to knitting. So, Friday night, I was this far:

After an entire three-day weekend, I had only made it to the start of the heel flap:

Look at that Greek Key in mosaic stitch.
I'd been doing mosaic stitch wrong for years.
Yay for good directions!!

So Tuesday morning, I finished turning the heel - and was way behind where I wanted to be by then. See?

Now on the upside, I'm learning to knit a bit tighter when it matters, so using the instructions for the Small Sock and size 2 needles (yes, bigger than called for, I'm in training), I'm keeping gauge and getting a sock that fits. I'm quite impressed with myself, unduly so, since being able to knit tightly or loosely seems to be something most knitters accomplish long before I did. So far, Sock #1 actually fits, and quite well... and I've actually got THE NUMBER OF STITCHES CALLED FOR on the needles! Wheeee! As of... I think Wednesday evening, I'd gotten the second mosaic band done (and am in awe of the Clever involved in getting decreases to work in a patterned band... really nifty trick!!) . . .

. . . and here's where I was this morning:

Look! Tiny Minotaur Feet!!

The stranded work is going a bit more slowly than I'd like, mostly because it's the counted cross-stitch of knitting: unlike regular knitting, where even patterned stuff has a repeat that can eventually be committed to memory, trying to commit this graphed image (in its entirety) to memory would result in ME being committed. So, I have to "look away from the knitting" and "count actual numbers" and other things that tend to slow me down. I've almost gotten the hang of socks-on-two-circs at this point, and I'm hoping to have a Finished Sock #1 and bits of a started Sock #2 to show you early next week!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: Karabella Aurora 8

This week, a fairly common yarn: Karabella Aurora 8. This is a nice little workhorse yarn, and comes in 86 (!!) colors. Good, even color, decent twist, blocks nicely. I keep finding balls around the house that match various jackets (delusions of mittens, I think).

Karabella has a nice layout on their labels - easy to find all the information you need. Here's a ball of Aurora 8 I picked up for my TKGA "Basics, Basics, Basics" class:

This photo is mine; the rest in this entry belong to those linked to them.

As labels go, this is very easy to read, quite easy to understand. I wish all labels were this helpful. Now, on to what you're really here for: the photos!!

There are some lovely projects to look at out there. For example, frecklegirl (Fearless Founder of Ravelry!) knitted a lovely nontraditional-colored wedding stole from it! Love!!

AnnaForsyth [Ravelry ID] knitted a lovely Pink Leaves Scarf. I'm amazed at how this yarn can look both very solid or quite lacy, depending on the pattern. Like I said, a good little workhorse yarn. Isn't this a cool photo she took? I like the idea of draping it over a branch. Looks kinda like a cherry tree. Which makes sense, since she's DC-local:

Here's lovinmoment's Amanda's Flower Scarf - the pattern is Garden Scarf (by Michelle Ameron, from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker). I think Heather did a lovely job, and hopefully Amanda really likes it!

Sophia Kessinger's Swirls Cap also calls for Aurora 8 (pattern available as a free Ravelry download).

CraftyDiva (Shannita of A Mano Yarn Center in Los Angeles) did very cool Winged Heart Tattoos (pattern is a free Ravelry download by annypurls, here).

Knitloon knitted a lovely Aran Sweater from it (go check out the rest of the photos here [Ravelry link], it's lovely!). The pattern is the "Garter Stitch Aran Cardigan" by Tara Jon Manning (aka, published in Men in Knits (Interweave Knits, Fall 2003).

Mo (aka brainmissing, knits a LOT of tams - and they're all lovely. (Check out her Ravelry page, too.) Here's her interpretation of one of the Three Tams, pattern from Knitty. Lovely!

Greeneyes (Laura) knitted socks. Nice solid socks! She developed the pattern using the Sole Solution Sock Design Program. How cool is that? Sock design software!! (See, we're not just about the yarn here at Yarn on Thursday. We're about all the cool stuff to go with the yarn, too!)

Pyra designed and knitted a "Justice League Scarf"... which is so amazingly cool I (a) want one and (b) will actually learn to double-knit so I can have one of my own. Granted, she used other yarns than just Aurora 8, but it's mega-cool, so it gets spotlighted anyway. Her Blog is subtitled "and One Geek to Stitch them All", which made me immediately add it to my reading list.

The incredible range of things that can be made from this yarn - and as you can see, that's pretty much "everything" - is what makes it so great. Lace, cables, colorwork... you name it, this little yarn does it! (And no, I'm not in any way being paid or compensated by Karabella for this post. I'm just a fan.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Children require space, I'm told.

For those who envy my computer room *and* craft room... we're able to have these luxuries by not having any children that need space. (From what I've heard, children require space 'of their own' and things like food, clothing, playthings and other not-yarn items.) If we suddenly developed "children", my craft room would be history. (We'd need the computer at home to keep me sane.)

Back to yarn: About that headscarf... yeah, the one I accidentally started during last Thursday's "Yarn on Thursday" bamboo-fest. Here it is last week, with George:

I was a bit distressed, after my glowing review last Thursday, to discover that, after about 1/3 of a scarf (I think, it might be less), the tips of my lovely bamboo needles have been dyed blue. This is distressing mostly because (a) this isn't the way I want to turn my hair blue and (b) these are the needles I use to knit up my TKGA class stuff. Needless (or needleless) to say, I was a mite miffed. Wendy Johnson thought Murphy's Oil Soap might remove the dye, so I'm going to try that once the headscarf is done. When I block it (yep, we're gonna find out if bamboo blocks at all!), There will be a light layer of toweling betwixt the scarf and my little makeshift blocking board - because that has to survive for more TKGA class stuff, as well.

There's the scarf as of Monday - and you can see the blue stain on the needles pretty clearly. *Sigh*

On the other hand, I'm totally loving the way the pattern is working out, and it will be available as soon as I get the Final Pretty Pictures up and running. (I'm flirting with the idea of a free Ravelry download. Just for cred. Thankfully, the pattern is easy enough that I'm pretty sure I can write it correctly right out of the gate.)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All Things Considered...

So, I knit, cross-stitch, make windows & suncatchers, crochet, quilt, and such. I've also discovered that being a crafter pretty much leaks into every facet of my life. For example, I got a chance to put floors down in my house. I wanted heavy-duty industrial tile (almost impossible to destroy - and usually the cheapest option!!), and discovered that a 24" rotary cutter system will cut it just fine, so I got creative with my flooring:

The quilt block in the computer room

Chessboard - back room; Greek Key - dining room; TETRIS board - craft room.
Yeah, the quilt block is in the computer room, the TETRIS board is in the craft room.
The computer room was bigger, and I needed the space, but the floors were already down vice versa. Oh well.

As it turns out, I got four dressers from my grandparents' house, put them together - and suddenly I have storage for the kitchen (badly needed). Since the kitchen has a flag theme going, and the new "hutch" is right outside the kitchen, painting it seemed like the thing to do.

Still trying to decide whether or not to put a circle of 13 stars on the blue field, or just try to find some star-shaped drawer knobs.

Of course, the urge to be creative isn't limited to the house, or even to my own property:

And of course, I don't tend to limit myself to any particular bunch of crafts. Because if I did, I couldn't make shiny things like this!

So, if you're reading this regularly, you likely knit, crochet, quilt or stitch. What other crafts do you do?

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Virtual Shopping Spree, finishing up (finally!)

More from the shopping trip...

I bet you thought I was finished with it, right? HA! There's a reason Sarah Leigh likes seeing me come in the door of Scarlet Thread!! (And we won't get into the fact that I also bought Secret Grab Bags to hand out at next week's S&B, or that my mother bought stuff for my upcoming birthday. We help with her bottom line, that's for sure!)

ANYway, the last stuff I got was some DMC floss (same price as Michael's/AC Moore at this point) and a tiny piece of congress cloth for $1.60. Ages and ages ago - at least four years - I'd been playing around with squares-of-American-flag designs, and had come up with one I liked. A 50x50 pixel square, which I figured I'd just stitch up as straight cross-stitch. That was then.

Now you may remember my beloved wallet: a nice little bit of canvas, done up with silk, that got worn to death as, well, a functioning wallet. I decided to do the same thing this time around, only larger - say "tote bag" sized. I do trash my totebags over time, but it takes much longer than it takes to trash one of my wallets. So, figure every stitch over three threads... and the congress cloth was big enough for a 50x50 stitch grid. Yay!

Here, you can see the guts of my wallet (what's left - quite a few of the stitches are actually completely worn away down to the canvas!), the pattern I created, the DMC floss I'll be using, and what I've done thus far.

I think maybe you can see the stitches better here:

Each stripe of the flag will be a different stitch (the next red stripe will be Rhodes stitch squares; the next white is likely going to be a tied cross of some sort - I'm still trying to choose between a double-layer first cross, or two tall thin crosses side by side, with the horizontal tie over whichever it is.) Because I used an odd number of threads (giving me an even number of holes per stitch), things that need a center stitch like Queen stitch are right out. Sigh. The blue field will be in some pretty bargello pattern that will stand on its own without color stripes (since I'll be changing colors where the colors change on the pattern); the stars will be just plain continental stitch, with a five-point star overstitched where appropriate (see wallet for example). As of last Tuesday, this was the photo, and this was the carry-around project du jour. You'll see it again when it's finished (although probably not yet in tote bag form).

(Note how I snuck in something kinda patriotic for Presidents' Day. Sneaky, eh?)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Virtual Shopping Spree, continued...

More from the shopping trip...

Extra bonus entry, since I didn't post this past Monday!

Sarah Leigh knows I'm a sucker for All Things Peacock. This little chart came in, and was just sitting there, all in innocence, in the rack. I'm hoping I didn't deafen all the other patrons when I found it.

The "Fall Back" is a bonus find; the Fuzzy Stuff is all I had planned to buy.

Then, also innocently, were some Needlepoint Silks that someone had pulled out of the cabinet, and no one had had a chence to put back. Look, peacock colors!! So, had to get them. Plus, Carrie's Creations just started dyeing silk floss... and since it's in peacock colors yet again, I had to get some.

The left photo shows the intensity of the colors better; the one on the right shows the differences in tone better. I need a better place to photograph things in my house...! Anyway, this little Peacock Sampler will be a quick stitch-up... someday! And it's gonna be lovely when it's done!!


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Virtual Shopping Spree, continued...

More from the shopping trip...

I like tiny cross-stitch projects. I really do. Sometimes I even finish them... but none lately. Well... I kinda picked up four, all to be stitched on black. The first three are from Funk & Weber's "Let There Be Night" series (and oooo, I'm going to have to get a few more of them!!). I really had to get the little house, and the polar bear... and since I was getting those two, I got the penguins as well. Then the Sweetheart Tree tree... it actually comes with the "Think Snow" charm!

Here's a better photo of the charts:

I'll be stitching on black linen, and all the threads are Carrie's Creations, except for a skein of Caron silk (the ice blue). The only thing I'd forgotten was just what a BEAST stitching on black linen is!! I was originally going to have the four pieces on one piece of cloth, but I don't think I'll survive doing that. I'll be quartering my linen, and carrying them around one at a time. That way, I'll have a prayer of getting a light-colored object behind the cloth as I stitch - because that's the ONLY way I'll be able to see what I'm doing!!

I also fell in lust with the rich colors and fun beading of Nora Corbett's "Rudolph"... I mean just *look* at it. How pretty!! With Ms. Corbett, I either love her stuff or not - there's very little middle ground. This is a LOVE. (I loved her Halloween Fairy, too, (see The Great Chocolate Disaster of 2008) even though I changed the wings. Didn't care for any of the other fairies - not sure why, since they're lovely - just not something I'd stitch.) Anyway, loved this:

and got the embellishment pack. Although I probably have most of the beads already, I know I'm going to want these!

Just for my own info, here's the supply list, and what I still need to get:
DMC floss: 310, 420, 613, 729, 815, 839, 840, 844, 904, 906, 956, 3032, 3371, 3708, 3801, 3857 and 3866 (I probably have these already...)
Rainbow Gallery Wisper: W88
Caron Waterlilies: 204
Kreinik #4 very fine braid: 028, 032 and 421
Mill Hill beads: 02011 and 42011
Mill Hill treasures: 13007, 13052 (3 pks), 13062, 13063 and 13065
Stitch count: 80 x 100

(And I'm trying desperately to talk myself OUT of stitching this on black as well. But it would look stunning, wouldn't it...?)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yarn on Thursday - Bamboo!

This week, spotlight on Bamboo!

Now I really like bamboo yarn. It's very smooth, shiny, and the colors are muy intense. Depending on how it's spun, it can be a bit splitty; I take this into account when I'm working with it, so I don't get frustrated. During the course of the weekend, I discovered (much to my delight) that at some point, I'd bought a lovely deep aqua ball off Be Sweet bamboo:

You can see the intensity of the color a bit better here

I've made stuff with this yarn before. (Also, Fun article about Be Sweet here.) Here's my beaded headscarf:

It's not the only bamboo out there, of course. I got some lovely Alchemy Yarns bamboo a few years back, when I was just figuring out lace, and made a scarf/headscarf. Just look at how rich the color is! (And no, it's not an accident I'm photographing the orange scarf on a dark blue background. One, they're contrasting colors, so the orange I see is the orange you see (assuming your monitor is working), and two - yes, it's Denver Broncos colors. It happens to be a Denver Broncos blankie, on the other side.)

This is my only photo of this!!!

I've decided to make another scarf/headscarf with my ball of Be Sweet, and I'm doing a modified basketweave stitch (looks more like a checkerboard, which I think is pretty).

So, have you tried knitting with bamboo yarn yet? What do you think?