Thursday, December 29, 2011


Tardis socks for the Dr. Who infatuated teenage girl, pattern HERE. By the way, this is the same girl in the previous post who is the owner of Doggie's Christmas stocking.

The Manly College Sweater, with College Boy himself modeling. Pattern available HERE, previous post HERE. He didn't mind the pink knitting needles.


Saturday, December 24, 2011


My children, all teenagers now, have been complaining that the magic has gone out of Christmas. I remember feeling the same sense of loss as a young teen. One of the best things about being a parent has been once again experiencing the giddy anticipation and excitement of Christmas with my own small children.

Here is my daughter at about age two or three, proudly helping to decorate the tree. She was a very cuddly child, and developed strong attachments to stuffed animals. One of her longest relationships was with a little stuffed beagle-type dog, whom she appropriately named "Doggie". Below is Doggie watching her decorate the tree from perched within the branches.

Of course I knit the children Christmas stockings, shown above. I experimented with stitch patterns and colors, so I guess you could call them sampler stockings. (The stocking that doesn't match is the one my Aunt Jane made for me). These very same stockings will be hung up tonight, hopefully to be filled by Santa once again.

My daughter complained one year that Doggie needed a Christmas stocking too. I pulled out my size 00 needles and the finest sock yarn I could find, and made her this. It measures about four inches high, and you can click it to enlarge. The tiny little jingle bell on the tip has rusted, but my now sixteen-year-old daughter still pulls out this stocking with joy to hang it on the Christmas tree as an ornament!

Maybe there's still a little magic in her Christmas after all!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This is a white baby blanket knit in a cabled feather and fan stitch from what appears to be Peaches & Cream cotton. It got put in the washing machine, and the edge fell apart.

So I crocheted it a new one, and secured the loose ends in the new stitches. Not perfect, but pretty good.

And darned I up some very large holes. This one was almost six inches in diameter.

Is there a distraught toddler behind this blanket? No! A distraught COLLEGE STUDENT! Whoever knit this for her must have loved her very much.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I never deliberately intended to make towel toppers- you know, those frumpy crocheted thingies that attach a hand towel to your fridge door handle. I always thought they belonged in the category with cross stitched kleenex box covers and dolls with huge crocheted hoop skirts that conceal a roll of toilet paper. Usually sold by pathetic old ladies at church yard sales and such. Not me.

Then a friend begged me to make her some Christmas towel toppers, and even provided the towels. She insisted on paying me. I happened to have one in my posession that I used as a model. The topper was crocheted with cheap acrylic yarn (you know how I love that!). It had been hanging on my fridge door a month or two, and the acrylic strap was already badly frayed. No acrylic! The logical fiber seemed like cotton, since a hand towel is subject to a lot of hard washing. So I dug out some matching green Peaches & Creme and a crochet hook, and did my best to copy the model. The result looked OK, but felt stiff, thick, and heavy (click to enlarge). I hate to think how long it is going to take to dry in our humid summers! Seemed like knitting was the way to go.

Funny how there are so few patterns available for towel toppers, especially knitted ones. The vast majority are simple garter stitch. It was a pleasure to run across the delightful cable knit towel topper shown below, referenced HERE.

For the next topper I chose a 1 by 1 rib stitch. This one came out much softer and more drapey, but was still quite heavy (click to enlarge).

I moved on to a lighter weight cotton chenille, thinking that the chenille would be soft and absorbent like the towel. I chose Brioche rib for the topper, making the decreases line up so that the top looked like a series of wedges. Unfortunately all of my stitch work was hidden in the fuzzy chenille, but at least the topper was light and drapey (click to enlarge).

For the last topper I chose a light sport weight cotton with a smooth texture. I wanted to make something lacy, and ran across this delightful lace Christmas tree in Lesley Stanfield's The New Knitting Stitch Library (page 137). Book available HERE

What a perfect motif for a Christmas towel topper! This one is hands down my favorite! If I ever make a Christmas towel topper again, this will be my design of choice (click to enlarge).


Friday, November 4, 2011


I did mention in THIS POST that I have a penchant for plied yarns with slow color changes, right? I recently became aware of a relatively new sock yarn, Crystal Palace "Sausalito" that is soft and lovely, with gorgeous color shifts in the plies. I am already a fan of their "Mini Mochi" yarn, so how could I go wrong?

I ordered two balls of Prism, and two balls of Firebird. You need two balls to make two socks. The Prism is shown above. Whoa, Nellie! While I do like socks that are more like fraternal twins than identical, these don't even look closely related. The difference is that the colors of the plies line up in the ball at the right, but contradict in the ball on the left. So, the way to solve this dilemma is to: 1) make stripes by alternating balls, or 2) buy another two balls and hope to get a closer match. I chose to buy two more balls. The new ones are at the top:

I WIN!!!

Now that it appears that I can make two pairs of rainbow socks, I have read the Ravelry reviews of this yarn, and it seems that socks made from this yarn do not hold up well in the wash, even with gentle treatment. So maybe I will try gloves, hats, or a scarf instead.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Remember those curly crocheted hair ties? These are a larger knitted version, designed to be worn around the neck as a fashion accent. Possibly even for warmth, if it isn't a windy day. Anyway, they are a lot of fun to make, and free patterns for them abound. A quick search on Ravelry turned up 132 free ruffled scarf patterns for knitting. There are lots more if you include crochet patterns as well.

I made these two as a fun easy diversion from the continuing sweater knitting. The lighter blue scarf on the inside is Helene Rush's "Kurly Kid Scarf", designed to be used with kid mohair. I made mine from Knitpicks Chroma Fingering. The darker blue scarf on the outside is the Curly Sausalito Scarf by Susan Druding. I made it with Universal Yarn Classic Shades. (I hated this yarn, but the colors are awesome).

The general idea for both of these scarves is to make one side edge much longer than the other- that's what makes it curl. The cast-on edge is the short one, and determines the scarf's final overall length. The scarf is knit side to side, and there are several rows in which the stitches are doubled either with yarnovers or simple increases. The more doublings, the more intense the curling will be. There were three increase rows for the light blue scarf, and only two for the dark blue, so the curls are less intense, and the scarf is lighter in weight.

At the final row, you have a ruched-up mess on the needles! Then you can release the magic by binding off LOOSELY, and allowing the curls to be free. It sort of reminds me of taking my hair out of rollers as a teenager. Whee!


Friday, October 28, 2011


There is something so satisfying about making socks. Whenever I get bored with another project I pick up the sock knitting. I can knock out a sock in about five hours. They make useful gifts, and Christmas is coming. Some knitters like to use solid colors and make cable or lace socks. I have done that, but I get easily bored with the same color. I prefer to use a plain sock pattern (which I have memorized, but if you care to use it yourself you will find mine HERE).

I absolutely love the plied yarns that blend two or three colors together so that the overall hue changes slowly. One of the first of these to come out was Mexican Wave, a sport weight acrylic that was a terrible yarn but had gorgeous colors. Noro yarns had corner on the market for a while with their (rather pricey) worsted weight yarns, but the sock yarn was somewhat disappointing, at least in my experience. In the last five years many other wonderful sock yarns have been manufactured.

The socks that I just finished are made from some leftover Jojoland "Melody" from the Haruni shawl, previous post HERE. They were a joy to knit, and I can rest confident that the intended recipient of these socks does not read my blog.


Friday, September 23, 2011


I do knitting/crocheting finishing and repair work for our local yarn shop, Knit. My favorite kind of finishing job is when a client gives me a sweater that Grandma intended for someone, but left only partially completed before death overtook (no doubt I will be leaving a closet full myself). Sometimes there is just not enough yarn to complete, sometimes the pattern is long gone and I just have to wing it. I love this kind of challenge!

My least favorite kind of finishing job is when I am handed a project only barely started, especially if the client is using cheap acrylic yarn. I hate cheap acrylic yarn! Once I foolishly agreed to complete a baby blanket for a client. It had been cast on and knit very tightly in garter stitch for about two inches with Red Heart Baby Clouds. And it had a short deadline! Oy, how I struggled with those Clouds, but completed the blanket with days to spare. And then the client "forgot" to pay me. Sheesh!

The past two weeks I have been knitting a baby blanket edging for a client who is also a friend. The yarn is a soft cotton of unknown origin, and she gave me free rein to choose an edging pattern that would look good. I enjoyed making the edging, although it seemed incredible to me how long it took to get around a rather small blanket. The pattern for the edging is a variation of one I found in Nicky Epstein's book, Knitting on the Edge. I gave it a bit of whimsy by adding the bobbles. Today I sewed it on, and it is done and looks great!

Now I can get back to the two cable knit sweaters!


Friday, September 2, 2011


It's always been difficult for me to tell the size of a garment knitted on circular needles. So about six inches into the Byzantine Millbrook sweater, I slipped it onto two circular needles so I could spread it out a bit and measure it. It's SIX INCHES TOO SMALL!!!! AAAARGH!!!

I've made gauge errors before, even some very big errors. But not for a long time. For this sweater I made up an especially large gauge swatch, as I always do, so I could get a very accurate gauge. The swatch was in stockinette stitch, so I calculated about how many extra stitches I would need to add for the cables: about 30. (For example, if you have a 6-stitch cable that crosses 3 by 3, you must add 3 stitches for that cable). I FORGOT TO DOUBLE THE ADDED STITCHES FOR THE CABLES IN THE BACK! I should have added 60 stitches: 30 for the front, 30 for the back. I knew this. I really did! I just forgot! Thirty stitches translates to six inches, according to my gauge.

Now, I am WAY to stubborn to rip out six inches of a perfectly beautiful sweater because it is six inches too small. So I am plunging ahead, hoping against hope that I can block (stretch) it out by at least four inches. It will shorten the entire sweater (but I can knit it longer to compensate), flatten the cables, and will probably look bad stretched tight over my fat behind. Depending on how bad it looks, I may even have to give it to a smaller person as a gift- I've done it before! Besides, I am having such a fun time making this sweater that it wouldn't kill me to make another, larger one for myself and my fat behind.

P.S. The Manly College sweater is spot on.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I had the double bad luck of having a very thrifty mother plus two older siblings. This means that I have been forced to wear hand-me-downs my entire life. I didn't care much as a kid, but it really rubbed when I became a fashion conscious teenager (who went to a fashion conscious high school). Learning to knit and sew became my personal answer to obtaining fashionable clothing, my ticket to freedom from the hand-me-downs!

The "long, lean, Aran pullover" at upper left made me swoon with desire (am I showing my age?). I saved up my allowance and bought some real (cheap scratchy) cream colored wool. I cast on the requisite number of stitches for the ribbing on yellow-green metallic straight Susan Boyle needles. (Of course I didn't know the first thing about gauge, but I lucked out on this one). When I got to the patterned stitches I needed markers, so I improvised some out of fine wire twisted into a loop. How those stitch markers tortured my hands with their sharp ends! But still I plugged on in the name of fashion! The sweater took me several months to complete, but I was so delighted when it was finished. When I proudly wore it to school, it was insufferably hot and scratchy- but wear it I did!

Here are two of my other attempts at cabled sweaters. At left is the Reynold's sheet pattern photo for the 500-pound cotton Aran referred to in the previous post. (I guess it didn't help that I made it extra long and attached a big collar). At right is Jo Sharp's "Millbrook", from Knitting Bohemia. I scaled this down and knit it in VERY SOFT wool for my daughter when she was about six. I loved knitting it! Unfortunately dear daughter had the audacity to outgrow it while it was still on the needles! When it was finally finished and I stuffed her into it, she didn't like it at all because the cables were "lumpy". Kids!!!!

Not all of my cable sweaters have been disasters. There were several others that worked out fine. But I can't help muse about past failures while I am working on two Aran sweaters, the Manly College Sweater, and the Byzantine Millbrook, my name for the blend of patterns that I am working up with the Galway yarn (previous post).


Thursday, August 25, 2011


(WHAT???!!! I must be crazy!!! Why am I telling you this-- I SELL yarn on the internet!!)

I am having so much fun knitting the Manly College Sweater (previous post) that I decided it was high time I knit myself a cabled sweater. I love knitting cables! I haven't made a cabled sweater for quite a few years. The last one I made was a large aran cardigan made from Reynolds Saucy cotton. It turned out beautifully. It also weighed about five hundred pounds. The yarn has not stood up to time or washing well. I want another one, this time made of nice soft warm lightweight wool.

So I went on an internet hunt for worsted weight wool. I really like working with heather colors (yarn made from fibers of several colors), so I went straight to Harrisville Designs. Their heathers are absolutely stunning, but the wool is kind of scratchy. Also very expensive. No good. Next I looked carefully at Plymouth Galway and Cascade 220, both of which are soft four-plies, and come in some lovely heathery hues. I picked out several that I liked, but finally decided on Galway #745, "dusk heather".

Now I know better than anybody that computer monitors are quite different in the way they show colors, so I was careful to look at as many pictures of Galway #745 as I could find on the web. Six results are shown at the top of this post.

Isn't it amazing? Can this possibly be the same color??? I actually emailed the ebay seller of this color and asked her to describe the color in words. She said "Pale lilac with undertones of blue".

Now that the yarn is in my hands, I placed it on the scanner and got the color as close to real life as I could on my monitor. The results are above. I would describe the color as a blend of blue and red fibers, with the overall effect as lavender. The website that came the closest to the true color is *DING DING* THIS one. I am quite pleased with it, and looking forward to making THIS sweater.