Tuesday, April 30, 2013


When my mom taught me to knit, she didn't teach me to cast on. I mean, she did eventually, but not at first. She said it was the hardest part of knitting, and I needed to have some confidence in the knit stitch before I tackled the cast on.

She was correct.

Mom and I use the longtail cast on, but we don't hold our hands like the rest of the planet. I don't know why this is, but the result is that any cast on that builds off of the longtail is tricky for me.

Enter provisional cast on.

I've done this cast on before. Every time I do it, it involves several Internet videos and lots of cursing. Last night, it also involved trying to get Andrew to help me (a nonknitter) and The Principles of Knitting book. I threw the knitting across the room, but only once.

I'm working on a pair of socks, and they're heavily patterned and moving slowly. (They're Inlays.) In a move that's very unlike me, I decided to cast on a second project that would be easier so I could switch between them depending on my mood.

Well, theoretically easier.

I do have hope that it will be smooth(ish) sailing now that the cast on is finished. 

I'm really excited about this project. It should be fun, and it will let me use up some random sock yarn. I'm going to use three different grays--light, medium, and dark--for the background and whatever magpie yarn I want for the fair isle motifs. It's random, but not completely random. As we all know, completely random makes me twitchy.

The beginning is always the hardest.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about gray since Thursday's post. I spent some time playing in my yarn guest room, and I decided to really take a look at the gray yarn I own.

clockwise from top: Arauchania Yarns Itala color 2016, Fleece Artist Trail Socks in Blomidon (also has lots of purple), Cascade 128 Tweed color 7618, Knitpicks Gloss in Coast Grey, Cascade Heritage Paint Sock in 9872, and Good for Ewe Sultry Steps in 0098

clockwise from bottomm left: Regia Antik Color in 08912, Lion Superwash Merino Cashmere in Slate, Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in Smoke, Deborah Norville Serenity Sock in Charcoal, and Knitpicks Felici Sport in Monochrome

clockwise from top: Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Rusted; indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Angst for the Memories; Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight in Manly yes, but I like it too!; Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Deep Unrelenting Gray; indigodragonfly Merino Silk Sock in Also, I Can Kill You With My Brain; and Plymouth Happy Feet color 18

Even though I can objectively see that this is a lot of gray, I have no remorse about buying any of it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Looking Forward: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 Day Seven

I have a confession.
I'm scared of steeks.
In my defense, who wouldn't be? It's unnatural to use scissors on knit fabric. (Actually, be sure to read that as "scissors on knit fabric" with a hint of hysteria in your voice.)
Kate Davies' directions require crochet. I know there are other directions that don't, but she sounds so confident that nothing bad will happen if I follow her tutorial that I plan to follow her tutorial to the letter.
But I really can't crochet.
This can be dealt with, of course. I will invite a friend over who does know how to crochet. She will help me. Between a friendly human crocheter and the Happy Hooker book, surely I can figure it out.
I like knitting in the round. I like cardigans. Clearly, steeks need to be a technique I conquer.
I even have a sweater kit to use.

Knitpicks' Falling Stars cardigan
Image from here.

Looking forward, my goal is to knit this sweater. I suspect that it isn't nearly as hard as I've made it in my head, and that I'll feel silly for avoiding steeks for so long.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Right Tool

I feel somewhat embarrassed by this post because I'm going to talk about a tool that is expensive when compared to other, similar products.

Did anybody guess Signature needles

Rampant socks (mine ravelled here),
size 2.5mm signature dpns

I only own one set, and they are by far my favorite knitting needles. I bought a set of dpns in the size I most often use to knit socks, and I am sad whenever I find a pattern that needs a different size needle.

I prefer metal needles over wood, and I want tips that are dangerously pointy. I chose the 6" with stiletto tips. They're delightfully pointy, but they would not be ideal if you were using a yarn that easily splits. That's a tradeoff I'm happy to accept.

I know they're expensive. That's why I only have one size.  Someday I may get more, but I want to be sure I buy a set that I'll use a lot. I believe this set of four was $45. (The webiste shows they've gone up to $47.) If you think about the amount of hours I've used these needles, they begin to seem pretty reasonably priced.

It's true that sometimes poor workers blame their tools, but it is also true that the right tool makes the work infinitely more pleasurable.

I love to knit.

I love to knit socks.

I love to knit socks with my favorite needles.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Contemplating Color

I love gray. It can’t be gray with brown tones; that’s a sad color. But pure, silvery gray? I’d knit that every day.

And, let’s be honest. I do knit with it a lot. Besides liking gray on its own, I think it's a great color to use when you want another color to really pop.

The other colors I’m drawn to are royal purple, kelly green and light pink.

I used to wear a lot of blue, and I think I shy away from it now because I felt that everything I owned was blue. Still, our entryway is painted cobalt, and our bedroom is a light-medium blue. When I saw Klein Blue at MoMA, I couldn’t look away. I think it's beautiful.

If I look through my projects just at the things I've knit for myself, here is what I see.  

Rampant socks (current knitting) - shades of dark pink, berry tones

The cabled wrap is gray.

The grieving socks are gray.

Nori is a kelly-ish green.

Talamh is a lime-y green.

I've also done a couple of colorwork pieces recently that have lots of bright colors coupled with black. 

When I think about sweaters I have planned, two are gray, and one is purple. For someone who likes light pink, I have surprisingly little of it in my knitting.

I've been working hard to not have so many variegated sock yarns in my stash. When I shop, I'm drawn to them. Then I have trouble finding a pattern that I feel shows up well within the color riot of the yarn. It's hard for me, but I have been working to buy semisolid colors.

I suppose the color gray fits in with the Manatee, which makes me feel a bit sad because it feeds into the stereotype of Boring Granny Knitter, the curse of the House of Manatee. I feel like I often have to explain myself when I say that my favorite color is gray. It isn't that I'm boring or afraid of strong colors. It's just that gray feels so comfortable, and it plays so nicely with other colors.

Then again, I probably shouldn't care what other people think, and being boring is misunderstood.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Illustration

Day 3 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week has me thinking about the types of projects I make. I started knitting in 2006 and didn't become obsessed with Ravelry for a couple of years, so not every project I've made is on there. However, nearly everything I've knit in the past few years is there, and I wanted to see what sort of projects I was choosing.
I broke them up into groups that made sense to me.

From left to right, the categories are baby (light green), headwear (med. blue), holiday (red), home (light blue), hands (yellow), scarves (medium green), shawls (purple), feet and legs (orange), sweaters (blue-purple), and toys (pink).
I'm not shocked by this. Socks are my go-to project. The orange bar includes things like boot toppers and legwarmers as well as socks, but nearly all of the "feet and leg" projects are socks. I get twitchy without something on the needles, and I often find myself casting on for a pair of socks because I haven't decided what else I might like to do and Must Knit NOW! Socks don't feel like a big commitment to me.
I would like to make that purple bar longer. I have not had fabulous success with sweaters. I have knit some that are great, but I've knit some that never fit properly. I think those bad experiences are serving as blocks.
Sweaters are commitment. Sweaters all feel different to me (unlike socks), so I'm never sure it's going to fit in the end. Sweaters are expensive.
I'm going to keep this in mind and try to get up the courage to start one of the sweaters in my queue. I already have the yarn for Falling Stars, Colette, and the Thermal Pullover. All that's left is to begin.
But not right now. Right now, I'm knitting socks.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

House of Manatee Project

For more information on Knitting and Crochet Blog Week IV, visit Eskimimi's blog here.

I've decided the House of Manatee best describes my knitting, and hopefully this post will allow me to show some examples of why I decided to choose this house even though it sounds most like the stereotypical Granny Knitter.

The description for the House of Manatee is, "Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy, they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet."

For the second post of the week, I'm supposed to think about what sorts of projects fit my idea of this house.*

I as manatee showered my dear friend Holly with handmade things when she was having her first baby (and I plan on showering every other child she has as well. None of that firstborn-gets-all-the-awesomeness stuff around here. Yes, I am the youngest child. Why do you ask?) I made her a beautiful blanket, a Scottie Dog sweater and hat, a quilt, and a hat with bunny ears. For me, being a manatee means that I spend time making things that other people are going to find useful.

I as manatee knit Andrew socks that are boring and ribbed, because that's the way he likes them.


I as manatee make ornaments because I want one on my Christmas tree, and I make seven more because I know other people will, too.

If I had to choose, I would call myself a product knitter. I want to make things that I believe someone will love. That someone is often me, but lots of times it's not.

I believe that when I knit, I am declaring that this is a valuable way to spend my time. If I'm knitting for myself, that means that I am saying that I am worth all the effort and cursing and frustration and time spent making something lovely. If I'm knitting for someone else, that means that person is worth all those things.

For me, knitting is about showing other people (and myself) that I love them, that they're special, that they're worth so much that I am willing to spend hours and hours interlocking loops of yarn to create something uniquely beautiful just for them.

Maybe I have more in common with Granny Knitter than I thought. Go dig out that hideous sweater she made you and wear it with pride. It means she loves you.

*Other people may read what we're supposed to be doing very differently than that. That's a-okay.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The House of Manatee

For more information on Knitting and Crochet Blog Week IV, visit Eskimimi's blog here.

For the first post of the week, we were charged with deciding which "House" we would belong to. Our options were the House of Bee, House of Manatee, the House of Monkey, and the House of Peacock. You can read descriptions of the houses here.

Before I ramble any more, I'd like to point out that Mimi of Eskimi Knits made all the graphics you'll see this week that are awesome, like the two on this post. She shares them with all of us yoohays, which is very sweet of her.

I've read the descriptions of the houses a few times, and none of them fit me perfectly. The one that fits me most closely is the House of Manatee. The description is, "Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy, they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet."

And they are cute, too.

I don't mind knitting hardcore items, but I'm only going to do it if I want to. You can argue that sometimes the reason why I want to knit something isn't very clear, but sometimes I want to knit something because I want to prove that I can. Knitting should be fun, and if that means I knit a million pairs of plain socks in self-striping yarn, great. If it means that I knit a lace shawl that nearly drives me insane, that's okay, too.

For me, identifying with this House means that I expect knitting as a hobby to be relaxed, comfortable, and fun. I may be knitting something really hard, but I am doing it because I like the challenge. One of the things I love about knitting is that you can do something really hard, really easy, or anywhere in between and still end up with something beautiful that someone is going to love. What other hobby can say that?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Love and Flowers for Boston

I was grateful to find something--anything--to do for someone touched by the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Happy Heart Cord (mine ravelled here)

Nothing any of us can do will ever be enough, but sometimes a little something is all there is. May those touched by this tragedy know that the entire world mourns with them.

Daisy Trellis (mine ravelled here)

So say we all.

Friday, April 19, 2013


First, if you knit, check out Rachael's post about a way we can help someone impacted by the Boston bombing. I'm so happy to find something I can do.

Second, a coworker is taking a knitting class, and we were talking about tools. It made me think of my own knitting tools that I carry with me. I keep them in a $2 makeup bag. My highly original and clever name for this bag is Purple Bag, as in, "Andrew, have you see the Purple Bag?" He knows exactly what I mean when I ask that.

Not everyone can have my level of creativity. Please don't feel inadequate.

Here are the contents of the Purple Bag:

There is a needle sizer/stitch gauge; stitch holders in various sizes; small sharp scissors; the felt needle holder (I post about making it here) with yarn needles of various sizes; a tape measure; point protectors you put on the end of needles to theoretically keep your stitches from falling off but actually the point protectors pop off and make you furious; a cable needle; a highlighter, yellow because all highlighters should be yellow; a pen and pencil; a couple small crochet hooks for dropped stitches; post-its in small and large size; stitch markers in small, large and pretty; and row counters. I also have a ponytail holder in mine, but I'm not sure why.

The only addition I can think of is highlighter tape. I just have never purchased any.

I also use sock knitting holders like these, and I can't recommend them highly enough. (See above rage with point protectors. They are liars. Dirty, tricky liars.)

The other knitting tool I use a lot is the Chart Keeper. My complaint is that the magnets aren't strong enough. It isn't unusual to open it and find that it's not really marking my row anymore.

You know, I think I should buy some highlighter tape.

I'm interested in the tools other people use. Do you have a favorite tool that you think I should add?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Christmas in April

The cabled wrap is finished. I'm not showing it to you until I have good pictures. This will involve heels. Clearly, this sort of thing does not happen every day. You'll have to wait until mid-May, and only then if all goes well. This project has been tormenting me since 2011, so what's another month?
Hope that helps, and I apologize if it didn't.
Let's look at something else!
When I began to hope that the end of the wrap might occur before my death, I began thinking about what I could knit next.
It needed to be fast.
Very fast.
So I made Christmas ornaments.
I knit little baskets out of scrap yarn, and then wound three tiny yarn balls to go in each basket. The knitting needles are made out of toothpicks and wooden beads (like I used here). I'm thrilled to find another opportunity to use those wooden beads. I still have a bunch left over. How many more things can I find to make that need toothpick knitting needles?
The pattern for these is free and here.
Once I got started, I had a problem stopping.

In my defense--

Never mind. If making eight tiny knitting baskets to hang on Christmas trees is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Children's Museum

Saturday we celebrated a good friend's birthday. He wanted to go to the Children's Museum to see their Superhero exhibit. I hadn't been for a long time.

Our Children's Museum is awesome. This is the outside.

Inside, there's a giant Dave Chihuly glass tower sculpture (because nothing says "children" like "glass" apparently). It's stunning. To get a sense of scale, each of those horizontal levels you see behind the tower are different floors of the museum. The tower is 43 feet tall and has more than 3200 pieces of blown glass in it.

The superhero exhibit was pretty small, but cool. There were tons of comics.

Andrew and I decided we needed this on our carpet at home.

I was able to design my own superhero. I've already thought a lot about what my superpower would be. I would like to be able to fly, but even more than that, I'd like to be able to encourage plants to grow. I'd be like Poison Ivy from Batman, but nicer.

There also was an extensive dinosaur/dragon display.

There were several dioramas that made no sense to me. Here, dinosaurs are at a juice bar manned by Hello Kitty. Why? I have no idea.

They also had a Hot Wheels exhibit. This car was designed for a 40th anniversary of one of their designers. It's covered in blue diamonds.

This is us! I love our group of friends very, very much. I much prefer visiting the Children's Museum with them than with children.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I was tricked into knitting these socks. My niece is fourteen, and I've let her know that although I love her, I will not knit her socks until she stops traipsing about outside in them.

Can you imagine? OUTSIDE in SOCKS.

Really, it's for the good of our relationship for me not to knit socks for her.

However, she, my sister, and my nephew are going to Alaska in June on a mission trip. My mother has knit a pair of socks for my nephew, and she promised to knit my niece a pair.

You see where this is headed.

 Plain Socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Patons Kroy Socks Stripes, Sporty Stripes (55617) colorway

Mom is deep in Baby Knitting season, that weird period when a bunch of babies are due in a clump. She's working on blankets for them and was afraid she wouldn't have time to get the socks finished. She asked me if I would use the yarn she bought and knit them for her.

Self-striping yarn amuses me, it was nice to have an easy project to turn to when I became tired of the wrap, and my mom is thrilled that they're finished, so I'm calling it a win on all counts.

But she'd better not wear them outside without shoes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

While We Wait

I'm knitting on the wrap. It's slow. There's not a lot for blog fodder there, so here's a story for you.

Yesterday, I had a headache. When I got home from work, I tried to nap. This is one of my dreams:

I'm in a restaurant, and there is a very loud mariachi band playing. I'm fairly certain my head is going to explode in pain. I cover my ears, and the volume doesn't change at all.

I realize that I'm dreaming, and I'm screwed. The music isn't really there, so there's no chance I'm going to be able to quiet it by covering my ears. The call is coming from inside the house, so to speak.

Then I woke up. You'll be relieved to learn that there was no mariachi band in my bedroom.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Green Thumb Mojo

I've been surprised at my lack of excitement about planting this year. In my part of the world, you're supposed to plant your garden on or after May 15. Plant before that and you cannot complain if your plants get bitten by frost. Some people say Mother's Day is the safe date, but I think those people are optimistic liars.

By this point in the year, I typically have spent many hours pondering the Burpee catalogue and I already have seeds started. Here's a record of my impatience last year.

Back on my birthday, I nearly slipped and ordered seeds, but I didn't place the order. Then I was given a Burpee gift certificate from one of my sisters, but I can't figure out what I want to get.

I made the decision--a good one, I believe--not to start seeds this year. I simply don't have good luck with seeds. I feel like I do everything right, but the seedlings are never as healthy as the plants I buy at a garden center. So, in an act of resigned acceptance, I decided I would not start seeds this year.*

Another factor, I'm sure, is that we've had horrible, horrible heat the past two summers. I've lost some perennials, the vegetable garden didn't do well. I am grateful I didn't lose any trees or shrubs. Lots and lots of people did. It's hard to get excited about being outside when you believe the weather will kill your plants and attempt to kill you as well.

I was feeling sad about my lack of enthusiasm when a friend told me he'd been at Lowe's, and they had nicely-sized Hellebore orientalis (Lenten rose)** for $13.

Bam! I'm back.

*I may have thrown some gloriosa daisy seeds in a planter, but that hardly counts. 

**I have a long and difficult relationship with these plants. I plant them, they die. I plant them, they die. I have one that seems to have survived the winter, and I bought two more because I cannot help myself. I find them irresistible.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


The desire to buy yarn for a sweater is strong.

Actually, the desire to buy yarn for two sweaters is strong.

I recently bought the Colette sweater pattern after I saw Rachael Herron's version. Have you ever seen a better looking sweater? Nor have I. Buying a sweater's worth of yarn is fairly stressful to me, but this has become more confusing due to the fact that Rachael used a sport-weight yarn while the pattern calls for worsted. It puts me into a yarn-driven coma, where I sit drooling at the computer, repeatedly clicking through the "yarn ideas" pages for this pattern.

Then there's the Trolley Dodger.

It's a baseball sweater.  A BASEBALL SWEATER!! I realize that it's April and the chance of me being able to wear this sweater anytime in the next six months is very, very small. I know this. Yet I still have to have a mental sit-down with myself to stop myself from ordering a jillion red and black balls of something lovely. (The fact that the suggested yarn and pattern would cost me $92 is helpful in cooling my enthusiasm.) But it's a baseball sweater, people! A sweater to be worn while watching baseball!

I blame the cabled wrap for my current sweater obsession.* The cabled wrap (although going well--hooray!) is incredibly boring 91.67% of the time**, which means that my brain wants to think up something else to knit instead.

I'm not going to buy more yarn though. I'm not going to cast on for a new sweater. I'm going to continue to work 2 x 2 ribbing in laceweight yarn, and I am going to focus on how lovely the finished product will be. I'm going to persevere and be faithful to the wrap.

Except for a pair of socks. But I'm knitting those at my mother's request, so they don't even count, do they? I didn't think so.

*I mean, really, why not blame it? It's put me through a lot of grief. 

**Yes, that's an actual calculation.