Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tiny Socks Everywhere

In our family, Santa Mouse comes along with Santa. He leaves a present in the tree for each family member. Each is tied with yellow ribbon. The tradition started when my oldest sister read about him in a library book years ago.

The tradition is important to me, and I've introduced it to Andrew's family and some friends. This year, Mom had little wooden sock blockers made, and I told her I'd help her knit socks for them. These became our Santa Mouse gifts.

It ended up that Mom didn't have time to knit the socks, and since I have scrap sock yarn from now until eternity forever and ever amen, I knit them.

It would be fine with me if I never knit another tiny sock again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas in the Circle City

I feel the need to hit pause. Christmas is happening, and the days seem to be speeding up. We're careening toward the 25th and the moment when I realize I have to undecorate the house and put all that glittery stuff back in boxes. I'm working hard to slow down and enjoy this season where we work to light up the darkness.

I'm trying to squeeze in the important stuff. Last Saturday, we saw Yuletide, the holiday show put on by the Indianapolis Symphony, or, as I like to call it, "my friend, Brandy." Bran is the Line Producer for the show, and the woman knows how to PUT ON A SHOW.

After the show, we walked out to see the lights on the Circle.

I have been lucky enough to watch two other live Christmas shows in addition to Yuletide: The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at Theatre on the Square and Elf at the Murat. The only things those shows have in common is that they're musicals, and they use the word "Christmas" in the dialogue, and I enjoyed them both. (A keg of spiked eggnog that has gone bad plays a prominent role in Trailer Park, as does a song titled, "Fuck It, It's Christmas.") 

I have a list of nostalgic shows I want to rewatch this season. Thus far I've only managed to watch White Christmas and Twas the Night Before Christmas, but I hope to remedy this soon.

Knitting time has decreased, as it always does this time of year. I do have one project I can show you--well, half of it anyway. I didn't get a photo of the whole project before I wrapped them and gave them away.

Fightin' Words (mine ravelled here),
knit in Felici in Rainbow and Stroll Glimmer in Black

I knit these for Bran as a Yuletide present, a yarny declaration that she will make it through the show successfully and soon be eating mushroom dip with me and the rest of our little group.

Mmm, mushroom dip. Now I'm distracted.

Anyway, I've made two pairs of Fightin' Words mitts now, and I'm considering knitting myself a pair of mittens with the same pattern... and probably these same yarns. I love the way these turned out.

Speaking of yarn, Knitpicks brought back a few colors of Felici for a limited time. I assume it was just to taunt me.

I regret nothing.

I hope your holiday season is full of good things, but not so full that you're unable to enjoy it. May we all find a way to hit pause and enjoy the season.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Little Christmas

But we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute,

Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet...

Slice up the fruitcake;
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough.

For we need a little music, 
need a little laughter,

Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter,

And we need a little snappy,
"Happy ever after,"

Need a little Christmas now.

Jerry Herman, Mame

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Got Rhythm

Over in the Socks that Rawk group on Ravelry, the powers that be pick a pattern for us to do each quarter. I have Socks that Rock yarn to spare, and I figured this would be a fun way to use it. Last quarter, I made the Zigzagular Socks of Wrath, and this quarter was the House Targaryen socks

Pretty, right? The problem is, it hurts to knit this pattern. The end of each cluster is a k3tog, yo, k3tog all in the same stitch, and it's brutal on the hands. I bought a thimble, guys. A thimble.

I decided this was a pretty pattern, but not pretty enough to justify bloody fingertips.

After contemplating a bit, I decided that the thing to do was to knit a toe-up pattern. I was using a mill end with well under 400 yards, and I was making it for a friend with manly big feet. I did not want to run out of yarn (like I've done before). I weighed the skein and started.

And it was way too big.

Frog again.

The third time was the charm.

They did end up with shorter legs than I would have knit normally, so I'm glad I did toe-up and weighed the yarn.

Syncopation socks (mine ravelled here), 
knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock that Rock Lightweight, Mill End

I like these, and the stitch pattern is very easy. I think the brown color makes it look like tree bark. I can imagine doing these again top-down.

I probably should be knitting some tiny sock ornaments I'm supposed to be helping my mom make, but I've become enraged by gauge after doing 2 and ending up with wildly different sized ornaments (one of which didn't fit the little blocker Mom wants it to fit on). The whole whack of it is in time out until I figure out what sacrifice I need to make to the yarn gods in order to get it to work. Instead, I think I'd rather make another pair of Fightin' Words mitts. Everyone I know needs a pair of those!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friendsgiving 2014



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I decided not to knit my mom a pair of socks for Christmas.

Then I knit my mom a pair of socks for Christmas.

Sailor's Delight (remember them from here?), 
mine ravelled here, knit in Knitpicks' Felici, Jingle colorway (discontinued)

Turns out, when I stopped trying to rework the stitch pattern and just knit them as written, they worked just fine. Funny how that happens.

As you probably know, I love Felici yarn and was really upset when Knitpicks discontinued it. I have a somewhat embarrassingly large stash of it--wouldn't fit in a bread box, would fit in a Tardis--and I'm determined to use all most of it. This colorway, Jingle, is a perfect example why their last run of colors didn't sell well. It's supposed to be Christmas-y, but the red is... off. It's an odd, almost burnt red rather than a true red. Luckily, my mom liked the colors.

One down, fourteen more colors to go!

Monday, November 10, 2014


I'm busy, but not with things I can share on the blog. I have reached the point where the guest room looks like there's been an explosion--it won't get better until I start wrapping Christmas presents, so it's best to just shut the door and pretend the room doesn't exist. When I get another present made or purchased, I can close my eyes, open the door, and chuck it in.

Minutia (mine ravelled here),
knit in scrap yarn from god-knows-where

Secrecy binds me on nearly everything, but I did make this little hat. It's Packers colors. I not only do not care about Green Bay, but I think football is a tremendous waste of time. I fully recognize that tons of people feel the same way about baseball. The difference, of course, is that I am right and they are wrong.

Anyway, I made this little ornament for a teenager who clearly will not read this blog. It's part of Berroco's 2014 ornament patterns set, which includes a sweater, this hat, a mitten, and another sweater which honestly doesn't look like a sweater at all. The patterns are free, cute, and use up very little yarn. I think I had this done while in the car driving from one errand to the next and the next and the next one Saturday. (Andrew drove.) AND I got to use my new pompom maker, which is more fun than it has a right to be.

Check out the pattern on Berroco's website here and have fun!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just Me and a Needle

Somebody looking for a blog post about drug addiction is going to be highly disappointed by this post.


I was talking about this:

Just me, a nascent cardigan, and a crazy desire to make the bind off as invisible as possible. I blame Eunny Jang. Ever since she talked about the cast on for ribbing, I don't look at ribbing the same way. I used her instructions when I cast on for Andrew's welldigger hat, and I think it was worth the effort. (The fact that this is a worsted-weight hat and therefore not a million kajillion stitches is now something I've considered.)

Needing a way to make a bind off pretty, I searched and found these instructions. Let me tell you: This is not for the faint of heart. I should have suspected that when I saw that the title of the instruction post included the word "masochistic." She's not lying.

I'm just going to keep telling myself that it's all going to be worth it in the end. If I come up to you and insist we discuss the fabric's edges in depth and with great passion, please go along with me... at least for the first couple of times.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Smooth Beginning on Rocky Coast

I've been making some Christmas presents, and I think I'm in a pretty good spot (famous last words). I decided to celebrate fall and start a sweater for myself.

Rocky Coast Cardigan (mine raveled here)
knit in Cascade 220, colorway 2409 Palm 

It's worsted weight yarn knit on big needles, and I'm loving it so far. I can tell where the cables go, so I'm not tied to the chart, and there's no waist shaping so I can knit on autopilot now that I'm past the raglan shaping at the top.

I feel quite optimistic about this. Bring it, Winter. I have wool.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Well, HUH.

You know how sometimes you pop your head up from your life, look around, and think, "Well, HUH. How the heck did that happen?" I had one of those moments on Friday.

I was at Andrew's grandpa's house, and he had a stuffed bear wearing a Get Well Soon sweater. It was being aggressively loved by a great-grandchild, and one of the adults realized unraveling was happening.

They asked me if I could fix it. I could, but I didn't have a yarn needle, so I took it home with me for repair.

I was sitting at my dining room table, repairing this crappy stuffed bear sweater, and I had a moment.

How the heck did I become the person who knows how to fix sweaters? 

How did I become the mender, the maker, the knitter, the creator?

It's mostly knitting, but not exclusively. Case in point: In the background of that photo, you can see wax paper. That's because I was making Christmas ornaments earlier in the day. I spend a startling amount of time making things. This is surprising since I spent the first 25 years of my life living almost entirely inside my head, devouring books and thriving in academia.

Life is surprising and weird, folks. Huh.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Don't Should On Yourself

I have gotten bogged down by the shoulds:

  • I  should eat that butternut squash my cousin gave me. She grew it! It's horrible to let it go to waste.
  • I should cook more.
  • I should figure out what to do with the strainer full of tomatoes from the garden that are getting old in my fridge.
  • I should eat the mushrooms I got in the bin. Organic produce is a luxury, and I should not be wasting it.
  • I should read more books, especially the ones people have given me.
  • I should do more yoga.
  • I should be tracking my food on Weight Watchers more faithfully.
  • I should be making more Christmas presents.
  • I should be making something other than Christmas presents so I could blog about them.
It's gotten overwhelming, this litany in my head. How to combat it? I should meditate more.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Easy Is

I just finished a test knit (my first--so exciting!!) and have moved back into the world of gift knitting. Christmas is coming, y'all, and there's a lot less knitting time after Thanksgiving than I would like. All those family functions and shopping and cooking and wrapping take precious knitting time.

Although I've never felt the urge to knit two socks at once, I really like some of the patterns in Melissa Morgan-Oakes' 2-at-a-Time Socks book. I decided to try the Sailor's Delight pattern, partly because it looks pretty and partly because the name makes me laugh. What is Sailor's Delight, and does it end with the sailor in need of a prescription for a topical ointment?

I started with the women's medium size, but it looked too big. The person I'm knitting for likes patterns with a lot of rib so they don't slip, so I thought I would just alter the stitch pattern to throw in some ribbing.

After three or four false starts, a few attempts at charting, and some foul language, I decided this yarn really wants to become a plain, old 2x2 broken rib pair of socks. I'm throwing in a right twist a couple of times in every fourth round just for fun, but so far they're not very visible.

Easy is not to be despised.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pillow of Saint Francis

I've been holding on this post for a long time. I gave the pillow to the birthday girl yesterday, so I can show you today!

One of my resolutions for this year was to make a pillow for myself. There were lots of knit pillows I like, I reasoned, and therefore I should just pick one and make it. It could live any number of places, and if it amused me half as much as embroidered pillowcases (and even here), it was an excellent use of time and materials.

The first step is to look at patterns. I quickly found one I knew I wanted to make, but not for me. It was the Pillow of Sei Shonagon, and it was fantastic.

To make it, first you knit the front of the pillow. This is pretty boring. Plow through.

The pattern called for 3.25 mm needles and sportweight yarn. The yarnovers were supposed to yield 1/2" holes. I do not understand how this could possibly work, but clearly it has worked for lots of people (or Ravelry is filled with liars, a thought too terrible to entertain). It didn't work for me, so I used 4 mm needles and dk weight yarn.

The front gets blocked. Then you cut two pieces of muslin and iron fusible interfacing on each one. One piece becomes the back of the pillow, and one is cut into strips with writing on them.

The pattern indicates you should write on the strips before cutting them. Listen to the pattern. Also, remember that you want all your words to be in between your light pencil marks. Do not, like some people, forget this on a couple of strips and start writing as if the lines were notebook lines that you could cross with the lower part of the letter g. If you do forget this, luckily you'll have enough fabric for some extra strips.

I used a fine tip fabric marker, and it worked just fine. I was okay with the fact that it wasn't going to look perfect. I do not have pretty handwriting. I have small, functional handwriting. My handwriting is the nerdy girl at the Spelling Bee; she knows the power is in the words rather than in the appearance of the words.*

I highly recommend you use a rotary cutter and mat to cut the strips. I borrowed my mom's.... awhile ago.... and still have it. I really should give it back to her and buy my own.**

I experimented with the width of the strips of muslin. I found that for my fabric, the 1/2" were too wide and 1/4" were too small. I split the difference and cut the strips at 3/8".

I threaded the strips through using a safety pin stuck through the end of each strip. I tried various other ways, and the safety pin was easiest. 

You can thread the strips through the yarnovers randomly. You will not be shocked to hear that I wasn't excited about random. Instead, I tried to get as much of each word to show. It ended up looking random-ish, and you can read it better.

The prayer of St. Francis is an important prayer to one of my best friends, and I love that this pattern showcases it in such a special way. I tried to write the negative words as small as I could and the positive words in large, spread out capitals. I wanted those positive words to be the ones that jumped out at you from the pillow.

Once the strips were woven in, I stitched the ends to the wrong side just to make sure they weren't going to slide or pop out. 

To connect the pillow front to the muslin/interfacing back, I used the overcast stitch from these instructions. I stitched around three sides, inserted the 12" x 16" pillow form, and then sewed the fourth side closed. I'm sure there's a name for the stitch I used for that, but I don't know what it is. It reminded me of the mattress stitch, if that makes any sense with one side being muslin fabric instead of knit. I'm waving my hands around helpfully illustrating it right now. You're welcome.

I love it. I'm thrilled with the way it came out. I'm thinking about making one for me with some Buddhist texts.

*At least, that's what I tell myself.
**Since I wrote this post months ago, I now am the proud owner of my own set. However, I still have my mom's at my house. Baby steps.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ombre Chest of Drawers

A friend of mine works the occasional auction. This has the potential to be both gloriously bad and tremendously good for me, sometimes simultaneously.

Case in point:

It not only wasn't very pretty, but it also smelled funny. Andrew and I moved it into the house, plunked it in the middle of the living room so I could ponder its fate, and then within an hour moved it back out of the house until I could attack it with Pine-Sol. I cleaned it and then set about transforming it into Awesome.

To do this, I visited Giant Home Improvement Store and had them mix up six different sample-size paint colors. The employee handed them to me, saying, "I'm not going to lie. I don't know which of these is which."

"Oh, I'm sure it's fine. They're labeled, right?"

"Well, these colors weren't in our system..."

Optimistically, I reminded myself that the drawers were all the same size, so I'd be fine.

Over the next several evenings, I started painting. And I found this:

One of these things is just like the other...

Dude mixed two samples of the same &$()%_) color. Back to the paint store. 

Nine days after it came home to live with us, it was finished, and lo, it was glorious.

I put it in the yarn guest room. It's going to be the home for random supplies--fabric in one drawer, sheets of felt and needle felting stuff in another, embroidery in another, etc. There's a herd of Felici* on top to make it feel at home.

*I own an obscene amount of Felici. If you're a yarn hoarder knitter, you might not think I own too much just by looking at the above photo. However, the Felici is stacked three deep. It's a sickness. It's probably for the best that the line has been discontinued. Self-striping sock yarn is the crack of the knitting world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dither Mittens

Back in April, I wrote about retiring my swirly mittens. I set about replacing them last week.

I used yarn left from two other projects. I was worried I wouldn't have enough yarn, so I weighed one of my old mittens:

It was 27 grams. I weighed the new mitten:

The new one was 34 grams. It's amazing how using better yarn impacts the weight. The structure of the two mittens is very similar.

Then I weighed what yarn I had left:

Oy--17 of the darker and 16 of the lighter. The use of the light and dark yarn was pretty even in this pattern with the exception of the inside of the cuff. I knit that in the lighter gray, then folded it inside and knit the cuff together with the outside of the mitten. The cuff was 24 rounds, so I was definitely going to run out of the light yarn.

I decided to alternate the light gray with some leftover Sock that Rock Lightweight in a similar color (Deep Unrelenting Grey, leftover from these) on the second mitten so I wouldn't (hopefully) run out of yarn before I finished the thumb.

I can tell the difference, but it's not very noticeable... and it's the inside of mitten cuffs, so who cares? I barely had any light gray yarn left at the end of the second mitten (and not a ton of the dark), so it was a good decision.

The Dither pattern is a chart and some instructions for making socks, so I had to cobble together a mitten pattern. Details are on the Ravelry page if you're interested. I added a Latvian braid at the edge of the cuff because my love for them is pure. I made the braids to mirror one another, which amuses me.

Dither mitten (mine ravelled here),
knit in Indigodragonfly Merino Sock, Angst for the Memories 
and Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4ply, Menace

I love that I was able to use the remainder of two really great yarns to make these. They're extremely soft, and perhaps they'll hold up even better than the Swirly Mittens since they're made with nicer yarn. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Welldigger Blues

I knit a lot of things that come in pairs. It's not unusual for me to get burned out on knitting two of everything, and that's when hats come in so handy.

Welldigger hat (mine raveled here),
knit in Mineville Wool Project worsted in Moutainside

The last time we made a trek to Simply Socks, they had worsted weight skeins from the Mineville Wool Project. I asked Andrew to pick a color to become a hat.

I decided this hat would look better with a more invisible cast on than my usual long-tail, so I watched a Eunny Jang video a few million times and did a tubular cast on.

I saved this in black and white because the waste yarn is bright orange--
as in my-eyes-are-bleeding-orange. You're welcome.

You cast on half the stitches you need and knit a few stockinette rows in waste yarn, then knit 4 rows in the real yarn, starting with a wrong-side row. On the fifth row, you knit one, then pick up the first purl bump from the first row of the main color and purl it, knit another, pick up another purl bump, etc. until you've alternated between knitting the stitches on the needle and purling the stitches you picked up from the first row. Continue for a couple rows of the pattern, and then you can take out the waste yarn. Eunny explains it much better here (although the site itself is clearly written by a nonknitter). The resulting cast on is still stretchy, which makes no sense to me, and nigh-invisible. It's the superhero of cast ons.

The Welldigger hat uses a slipped-stitch pattern. The result is a very squishy, thick fabric. I think this hat will be worn on the coldest days. Andrew, naturally, looks adorable in it, even when he's sticking out his tongue.

He's so cute I made him a pair of socks, too, even though he picked a Zauberball color with so much navy I spent most of the knitting time praying for a color change.

Blues for Andrew (ravelled here),
knit in Schoppel-Woole Zauberball #2134

I did my usual pattern for Andrew socks--1x1 ribbed cuff, 3x1 broken rib leg and top of foot. I started with 68 stitches on the leg and decreased after the gusset down to 64. I decreased the toes down to 20 stitches before kitchnering.

I didn't have time last night to pick yarn for my next project, so I did something completely out of character and just brought a book to read at lunch. I think the next project should be my mittens (See? Another pair.), and that's going to take some planning.

Knit on, my friends. Winter is coming.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fucus asparagoides Sock

I've been knitting and painting furniture and working. There are some finished knits that are staring at me and pleading to be photographed. I gave in and brought one to work to snap a few pictures.

Fucus asparagoides Sock (mine raveled here),
knit in Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4ply, Menace colorway

This is part of Hunter Hammersen's KAL on Ravelry. I liked both Fucus asparagoides patterns so much that I did both (shawl here). Hunter loves herself a twisted decrease. Pointy needles are important.

As I was knitting these, I kept thinking about how this stitch pattern would look on a hat, or a cowl, or a scarf....