Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Red Tree

The Preschooler and I see this one when we walk to the library.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In praise of Yvonne

Today is Yvonne's birthday, and I just want to send birthday greetings her way. Not only has Yvonne done all my finishing work lately (see here and here and then here to see how she can do it for you too!), she fixes my knitting mistakes when things go terribly awry. Just so you know, I would not advise knitting during Mad Men, particularly when Joanie smashes a vase over her worthless husband's head, because you are sure to make a terrible mistake and drop many stitches. Furthermore, I would not advise trying to fix said mistake during the Mad Men finale because all kinds of inexplicable things happen to the project.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's hard to single out the most inspirational thing on Ravelry, but one of the best, knowlegable, and enthusiastic groups on there is the Socks that RAWK! group. Every quarter, they host a KAL of two sock patterns. Each member is encouraged to use a different colorway of Socks that Rock in order to showcase the amazing diversity of the yarn. It's a fabulous group, and I've gotten lost for hours looking at the photos.

For the first time, I'm participating in the quarter's KAL for the Edwardian Boating Socks. Mine are in the Flower Power colorway. I just cast on yesterday and can't stop knitting!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wedding Weekend

I guess I should have known better than to attempt a blog post every day during the same month as my brother's wedding. The weekend, however, did feature knitwear.

The Preschooler sports his owl vest, knitted by Carla, at the reheasal dinner.

I wore, between the ceremony and reception, a little cropped cardigan so kindly knitted by Lisabe.

And, while the bride and groom haven't seen this yet, I feel safe in showing it here, since I hope they are enjoying sunshine and snorkling right now. This is Ysolda's Hap Blanket, knit in Cascade Eco Wool. Due to some problems with the chart, I eliminated the last color repeat, and changed the purl bind-off to a Russian bind-off (which was a new skill!). I love the finished project and hope that the bride and groom do too!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

This is what I'm doing today

Wait, doesn't everyone wear handknit socks, sweatpants, and sparkly shoes around the house?

Seriously, today I am trying to break in the silver shoes I'm wearing to my brother's wedding on Saturday. These shoes frighten me. A lot.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This is what I see on my way to work in the mornings. On cloudy, gray days this winter, I'm going to look at this picture and remember the way the leaves glowed red in the morning sunlight.

It's no secret I love red.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Drive-By Pretties

Today's thoughful, analytical post has been delayed due to a sick husband and argumentative preschooler at home with me this morning. Instead, let me offer up these pictures of pretty new stash, Madeline Tosh sock yarn. The RED (hey, The Preschooler comes by his love of RED honestly) is the Tart colorway; the delicate variegated color is Mansfield Garden.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hat Trick

When the weather turns colder and you're mired down in large projects, sometimes the best thing to do is knit a hat. I made three last month.

Windschief by Stephen West, in Cascade Eco Alpaca:

Hurricane Hat, a free pattern, knit in Malabrigo Worsted:

And finally, Habitat by Jared Flood, also in Malabrigo Worsted. In my next post, I'm going to talk about challenging myself and learning new techniques, and this project is my first foray into a complicated cable chart.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

This sweater gets around!

In the spirit of my so-called Finish It Fall, Henry's Tomten is D-O-N-E done. This sweater was particularly hard for me, not because of any particular knitting technique or the miles and miles of Elizabeth Zimmermann garter stitch, but because of what it represented. I started planning the Tomten when -- and this is not something I've talked about publically because it's been painful for our little family and yet thankfully much ado about nothing -- when the then-Toddler started manifesting some autism spectrum behaviors and wasn't progressing in his language. I let the Toddler choose the yarn, thinking it would be a really stimulating activity for him to choose his favorite color of "WED." I knit on this thing through the seemingly interminable wait for evaluations and appointments. Somehow, all my stress about my child got put into this sweater.

Then we received the diagnosis of "just" a speech delay. Today, the Preschooler is a happy, healthy, quirky three year old who has "graduated" from his months of speech therapy. I think I've graduated too.

I finally finished the sleeves last month, and then handed it over to Yvonne for seaming and zipper installation. (Have I mentioned how much I love Yvonne?). The Tomten, otherwise known as Red! Red Sweater!, has gone everywhere and done everything, and for that, I am so happy and grateful.

PS: It's

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just so you all know

I am now completely obsessed with figuring out how I can knit this sweater from Leifsdottir I saw yesterday at Nordstrom's.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


My friend Bill likes to say that we are all three cheeseburgers away from disaster, meaning that in this day of desk jobs and the internet, we don’t have particularly useful survival skills. And it’s true, after the world ends, my ability to blog and use twitter isn’t going to be worth much. However, with the advent of cold weather, I seem to be drawn to survival stories, for example reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter for the umpteenth time and watching Defiance, based on a true story of Jewish resistance fighters hiding in the forests of Byelorussia during World War II. And it hit me, as a knitter, I am many more cheeseburgers away from disaster. I could have knit Pa some mittens to wear while he was hauling hay in blizzard-ravaged Dakota Territory. I would have value as a skilled knitter making garments for Russian partisans. And so, as the cold rain falls, I am going to knit a hat, knowing that I’m doing the same thing for pleasure that other women throughout history have had to do out of necessity.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finish It Fall?

I had it in my head that I was going to work on the backlog of projects I'd let pile up over the summer. I had a bunch of projects that were close to completion when I flung them aside in favor of the sock contest. The shawls in particular cried out to be finished.

Springtime Bandit, in Malabrigo Silky Merino, waiting to be blocked, looking all manta-ray-ish.

I borrowed Yvonne's blocking tools: interlocking foam playmats like they use in daycares. Genius!

The completed shawl, hanging out on my neighbor's bushes (yes, they probably do think I am crazy).

And another shawl, The Simple Yet Effective Shawl using one ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock.

Great! I finished two projects! If only I hadn't cast on for three more this week...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I think I won

I think I won the staff portion of the Summer of Socks and Lace contest. Here are my entries from the second half of the summer.

Top left: No Purl Monkeys in Creatively Dyed Calypso.
Top right: Yarn Harlot's Plain Sock Recipe in Mini Mochi
Middle left: Completed "Don Draper Socks -- Kristen Kapur's Ampersand in Socks that Rock Mediumweight.
Middle right: Synesthesia Socks in Pagewood Farms Denali.
Bottom left: Completed Waving Lace Socks in Pagewood Farms Denali.
Botton right: More Circle Socks in Socks that Rock Lightweight.


Slip Stitch Rib Anklets from More Sensational Knitted Socks in Socks that Rock Lightweight, July 2009 Rockin' Sock Club colorway.

Overall, I completed eleven pairs of socks and made a little progress on three more pairs (two of which are Cookie A patterns, hmmm). My total yardage, including the double scores for using Natural Stitches yarn, was somewhere in the 4000 range.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When stuffed animals get bored

Apparently The Preschooler's beloved, tattered bear blanket has taken up knitting. I'm pleased to note that even stuffed animals have switched over to Magic Loop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation musings

If I could dye yarn, I'd want to dye some to look like this (the geyser basin in Yellowstone):

The local yarn store here decorated the antlers in the town square with felted flowers:

My socks-in-progress went on a hike:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On the Road

Somehow, I don't think this is what Jack Kerouac had in mind.

Somewhere in Kansas:

Somewhere in northeast Colorado:

Somehow, this happened:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer of Socks

The Summer of Socks and Lace is ON at the store. We're having a separate contest for the staff, and here are my entries, both in progress and completed. From left to right, top to bottom:

- Waving Lace Socks, from Favorite Socks, in Pagewood Farms Denali in Really Red
- Ampersand in Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Eggplanted: I'm calling these my Don Draper Socks because we're watching Mad Men, and surprisingly, one can knit this pattern even after a few Manhattans and still not screw it up.
- Circle Socks in Socks that Rock Lightweight in The Incredible Shrinking Violet.
- Nutkins in Pagewood Farms Denali in Maple Leaf.
Child's First Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks in Tess Super Sock and Baby in Pewter
- Embossed Leaves from Favorite Socks in Dream in Color Smooshy in Chinatown Apple.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who wants to weave in my ends?


This is The Preschooler's birthday sweater. It's way cute. But there's an awful, awful lot of finishing to do.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Birthday Hat lives on

It started out as a funny idea for Henry's first birthday, the birthday cake hat from Itty-Bitty Hats. Little did I know that the hat would live on for subsequent birthdays!

First birthday.

Second birthday!

Third birthday! Hey, it still fits!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Proof positive

Yesterday I completed the oldest UFO I had active in my pile of projects, Embossed Leaves from Interweave Knits' Favorite Socks.

It started out as this in November 2007:

In many ways, this project, which had been ripped out twice before finally getting it right, represents my growing skills as a knitter over the past eighteen months. When I began it, I was new to socks -- look, for example, how the original is knit on double points, which I haven't used for at least a year -- and I was new to lace, as evidenced in my working copy, all covered with my chicken scratches keeping track of where I was in the pattern. The first time I started this, I lost track of where I was and messed up the foot. The second time, I realized my gauge was way too big.

The third time happened just a few weeks ago when I suddenly had some uninterrupted chunks of knitting time when I could concentrate on a chart. I cast on on smaller, 40 inch circulars, and to my surprise, the pattern just flew. I didn't need stitch markers, I didn't need to mark up my pattern, and in time, I didn't even need the chart. I've learned to read my knitting accurately, and more important, trust my own judgment. I don't think there's a more valuable skill in knitting than that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Posting on the fly

I need to do my MDSW wrap-up, but my husband is Far Away in Foreign Lands, which means 1. free time is scarce, and 2. he has the camera! For now, here are a bunch of projects I am dying to start. I haz the Startitis in a bad way.
  • Any sock project at all with my Tess sock yarn, but particularly a Child's French Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks or Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks.
  • The Minimalist Cardigan with my new Tess superwash worsted
  • Anything, anything at all with all my new Tess!

No, I don't have a problem. Why do you ask?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Start 'em young

I've been working my way through Melissa's dvd of Knitting Around with Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen, and The Toddler (who is soon to be The Preschooler, good grief!) likes to watch it with me. See, he loves Elizabeth Zimmermann. Even before he was talking barely at all, he'd grab my copy of The Opinionated Knitter and page through it, pointing out "Sweater! Grandma! Red!" So the other night I wasn't feeling well, and we crawled into my bed and I flipped on the Aran Coat episode. After a few minutes of careful study, The Toddler turned to me and said "Dis is 'bout coats. I'd like to watch de one 'bout mittens."

Well! It's good to know what you like early on in your knitting career, even though you don't have the fine motor skills to knit yet!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I've been busy test-knitting this pattern for Amanda, and here's the preliminary result. If you like the pattern, let Amanda know!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And now to really make it complicated...

...I can't find matching ribbon for this bonnet. That's the problem with trying to be all fresh and modern instead of sticking to tried and true color combinations. Lisa and I looked at every single ribbon in Joann's and Pat Catans last night. (And is it just me who enters into this trance-like state when I enter the door of a Pat Catans? I suddenly get urges to make those plastic needlepoint kleenex box covers. Or to tie great big bows on baskets. Or to Bedazzle something. Last time I went to Pat Catans, I walked out with a jumbo-sized bag of jingle bells. I don't know why, but at the time it very much seemed like I needed those jingle bells.)

Anyway, this brown was the best I could do. I really wanted to match the teal, but since I have to take this gift in person in a few days, I can't do mail order. The perfectionist in me is really twitching on this one.

In other news:
  • I'm working hard on some test knitting I hope to share with you soon and some way cute store samples.
  • I got a hard-to-find copy of The Knitter - the newish UK knitting magazine for "advanced" knitters at Joann's last night.
  • I am delusional enough to think I'll have something new knitted up to wear in three weeks at Maryland Sheep and Wool.
  • And, to keep myself honest, I hereby declare that I am watching my weight.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Making things harder than they need to be

We're going to visit friends in Philadelphia next week, and I owe this friend a handknit baby gift. I knew I wouldn't be able to knit a February Baby Sweater as planned, so I looked through my books and decided to make the Victorian Baby Bonnet [Ravelry link]. Cute, right? All I needed was two colors of a worsted weight cotton. I have worsted weight cotton in my stash. I have a lot of stash yarn. Did I like any of that stash yarn for this project? No, I did not.

Still, no problem. I work in a yarn store. I'll just run in and grab two colors of Tahki Cotton Classic, like the pattern calls for. This will be really quick, I told myself.

Was it really quick? No, no it was not. We take our yarn color choices very, very seriously at Natural Stitches. When we write in the store blog about the wall of Cascade 220 functioning as a painter's palette, we are not kidding. Melissa gave up casting on for Lent, so she's been planning fair isle sweaters to take the edge off. One of our regular activities has been pulling half of the Cascade wall down and seeing how the different colors look next to each other. Recently, we expanded the Cotton Classic color choices, and so instead of running in during The Toddler's nap and grabbing two colors, Melissa and I ended up pulling down at least ten different colors and listing the pros and cons of each combination.

This is what we ended up with. I am so into the tonal color combinations these days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Malabrigo March, reloaded

You didn't think I was going to let Malabrigo March pass by? Unlike last year, though, I am not casting on for any old thing (I mean, how many Calorimetries and neckwarmers does one need? Don't answer that.). I've picked three rather substantial projects using three different weights of Malabrigo yarns (so substantial, in fact, that I'm longing for a hat project).

Shalom Cardigan in Malabrigo Chunky in Applewood.

Ingenue, from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits, in Merino Worsted. This was originally supposed to be my American Idol Selfish Knitting Sweater in Steadfast Wonderful Wool, but it just wasn't working out for me.

And finally, Ishbel in Malabrigo Sock, in the. most. perfect. red I've ever seen. Inspired by Franklin, I am going to make a lace shawl, at last.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Color on a rainy day

I am not sure what March showers bring except a bored toddler and trouble for the folks living along the Red River, but in the midst of all this, I think we all desperately need a flash or two of color. And this is big coming from the knitter who loves all things gray.

Baby Moderne Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting. This is for a dear friend who is having a baby next month. You know she's dear because I am making this in sock yarn, but honestly, this has been a pleasure to knit so far. I think a blanket made from Dream in Color Smooshy is perfect for a little Kentucky baby girl, don't you?

Basic vanilla Yarn Harlot socks in Regia, Kaffe Fassett's Easter colorway. I actually cast on for these on my birthday, a particularly gray day, because Colleen was making some at work and I wanted pinky stripes tooooo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Being Selfish

This whole Year of Selfish Knitting plus my American Idol knitting has yielded an entire sweater! Just in time for spring! This is the Garter Yoke Cardigan from Vogue's Knit.1 magazine, knit from Berroco Peruvia (ie, my poor abandoned Tilted Duster).

And this is Wrenna, from French Girl Knits, knit in Brown Sheep Burly Spun. This bulky knit was a particularly good project for my magpie (OOH! SHINY!) brain, as I cast on and finished in under a week. I added length to the sleeves and knit at a tighter gauge than the pattern recommended. However, I had my first ever "Oh, you really do mean that I am to wash the swatch?!" moment as the Burly Spun bloomed when I soaked and blocked the sweater. I'm hoping a good reblocking can at least fix the sagging neckline.