January 29, 2008

Look Ma - It's a swatch!

swatch knitting
Swatch knitting, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I’ve had the Street Smart booklet for a couple of months now but I was inspired (reminded really) by Yarn Harlot’s recent post to dust it off again. I was also inspired by a 25% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket so I rushed over to Michael’s and scooped up all 6 skeins of Paton’s Classic Wool Merino in Natural Mix (for the bargain price of $22!). I literally cleaned ‘em out!

I don’t know why I never used this yarn before because, in addition to being super affordable, it knits up wonderfully. Very springy with a nice hand as they say. Initially I bought the SS booklet for the Urban Aran pattern and I have to confess that I am seriously conflicted. I don’t know which sweater to make first. Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh! I may dash over to Jo-Ann’s later this week for more Paton’s (it’s on sale - 2 for $8) and now I even have a gift card (Thanks Nell!). There’s a dark gray color that appealed to me and as you may have noticed, I’m quite fond of gray.

Since the last few posts have been heavy on the knitting and quite possibly boring to some, here’s a photo of the three of us on our recent “vacation” in California. Don’t we make a cute little family?

January 27, 2008

Rip it. Rip it good.

Like everyone else, I hate to frog my knitting but the numbers on this Hemlock Ring blanket just weren’t jiving. I kept knitting along hoping that the number of stitches, the pattern, the yarn overs and decreases would all suddenly coalesce and blissful knitting would ensue. However I reached a point where the discrepancy simply could not be ignored any longer. I couldn’t continue. So I had to suck it up, take a deep breath and rip it.

I ripped back to row 41 and started obsessively knitting again. I am now up to row 59. Other than that I managed to finish another oven mitt and make good progress on February socks, I had much, much more that I wanted to accomplish this weekend but alas! We are off to the movies again. Have you seen the Diving Bell and the Butterfly yet? Au revoir!

January 26, 2008

"Groovy" January Socks

It’s only fitting that Alice, our beloved January birthday girl, models the just completed January Socks. You’ll notice that she doesn’t dare show her face because she had just gotten out of the shower and hadn’t dried her hair yet. In any case, Kudos to Alice for getting as much mileage out of her birthday as she can. ☺

I finished these socks this morning and while I’m not 100% crazy about the short row heels, I think they came out well enough. We knitters are so hard on ourselves! I’m not crazy about the holes created at the intersection of the heel to ankle but I’ll work on it. Because the pattern is so “holy”, it’s not obvious to anyone but me anyway.

The yarn is Regia, which I ordered from Yarn4Socks many moons ago and this is already my second pair. There’s a lot of mileage in those skeins. There’s even enough left for a third pair I do believe.

Now on to bigger and better things. The weather is positively dreary today but it makes for great guilt-free knitting and I’ve got about 10 projects whirling around in my head – some already on needles and some mere fantasy. I’ll report my progress soon.

January 21, 2008

Socks for Charlotte

Charlotte, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

As an early graduation gift, I gave my niece a pair of Bells & Whistles socks - with the stipulation that she had to model them for me, of course. I actually made these socks back in December 2006 when I first quit smoking (yes, it’s been over a year!). They’ve been stored in my sock drawer ever since because the truth is they were way too big for me. Can you imagine? Socks too big for a bigfoot like me?

I considered ripping them out and knitting another, smaller pair with the lovely sock yarn that my dear friend Janet brought me all the way from Newfoundland. In the end, I just couldn’t bear to annihilate all the pretty pattern work I labored over.

Then it hit me. The only person with bigger feet than me is the “cool drink of water” six foot tall Charlotte. Don’t they look great on her?

It’s always nice to find the right owner and perfect match for my hand knit socks. My goal is to make socks for all the people I love most in the world. However, the next pair is for me and it’s coming soon. Stay tuned.

The El Cerrito Button Shop

El Cerrito Button Shop
The El Cerrito Button Shop, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

One of my goals for this trip to the Bay Area was to stop by the El Cerrito button shop but it was closed. Darn! As you can see, the hours of operation are strictly limited. I hope to make it there next time around because I really do love buttons.

January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Alice

Cousins, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

January 17, 2008

wacky winter weather

Ballband variety, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Despite a forecast calling for a clear, sunny day, it began to snow around 9am. Big flakes of the white stuff fell silently and stealthily to earth. If I wasn’t already busy getting a million other things done – we’re heading out of town on Saturday - I would be knitting more ballband dishcloths. Here are a few for your perusal.

January 16, 2008

Shocking, ain't it?

pink Cyclamen, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

We’re currently experiencing a rare albeit extremely freezing stretch of dry weather here in the PNW. I don’t think it made it out of the 30s today. The sun even made a rare appearance – imagine that!

I simply couldn’t endure the winter without my faithful, and oh-so-pink cyclamen to cheer me up daily. It seems that this is the cyclamen’s season and they actually thrive on the winter weather. This plant has not failed to bloom since I got it six months ago. The trick is to water from the bottom. I also have a red one and I gave Willa a white one because her garden is white.

We’re almost one month into winter. Celebrate!

January 12, 2008

Think pink

Start the Monkey, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

In the movie Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire (which, BTW, is one of Alice’s favorite movies) (and one of my favorite movies as well) there is a dance number entitled “Think Pink”. I love pink. I absolutely adore pink. I passionately and unabashedly worship the color pink. Need I say more?

So to avoid doing what I’m supposed to be doing (top secret project with a deadline) I started the Monkey designed by the great sock artiste, Cookie. I’ve been wanting to make these socks for a long time but couldn’t justify starting them seeing as how I have about ten other projects on needles, two of which are socks waiting for short row heels. What can I say? Knitting is my way of avoiding reality and casting on a new project always seems like the next best thing to do.

I’m happy to report that these socks are coming along splendidly; much easier than I had anticipated. And I’m knitting them on size 0!! US size 0 (that’s 2mm for our Canadian friends). The yarn is Knit Picks Essential in Petunia. A grand color!

Here is more lovely pink to feast your eyes on.

January 6, 2008

The Basic Recipe

I know I know. I should have posted this pattern *before* the holidays but now you can get a head start on the 2008 Holiday Season. Not to mention that these mitts make quick and easy gifts year round. So herewith and without further ado I give you [drumroll]...

Felted Lime Green Oven Mitt Pattern


2 skeins Lion Wool: Lemongrass
1 - 16” size US10 circular needle
set of 5 double pointed needles (dpns) size US10

GAUGE: 3 stitches = one inch
Finished Measurements (before felting): 15.5 inches long by 7 inches wide

With double strand of wool and circular needles (or dpns), pull out 72 inches of yarn and using the long tail method, cast on 40. You will have a tail of about 24 inches which will be used later to create the hanging loop.

Being careful not to twist, join into circle and knit 32 rows. Marking the beginning of the round will make things easier, especially at the decrease rounds.

At row 33 you’ll want to create a “scrap yarn slit” (SYS) in order to set stitches aside which will be picked up later for the thumb.

Here’s how you do it: Knit 8 stitches normally. Using about 12 inches of scrap yarn knit 9 stitches(1). Now return the 9 stitches you just knitted on scrap yarn to the left needle.(2) Knit these stitches again using the Main Color (or MC as we like to say) in this case the Lemongrass. You will be knitting ON TOP of the SYS stitches(3). Whew! Not so bad eh?

Continue knitting in the round, using double strand of MC, for another 22 rows past the “scrap yarn slit” created for the thumb. Now we will start the decrease rounds as follows:

Dec Round 1: Knit 1, ssk, knit 14, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 14, knit 2 together, knit 1 (36 stiches remain)
Dec Round 2 (and every even round): Knit every stitch

At this point you may want to switch to dpns if you haven’t already done so.

Dec Round 3: Knit 1, ssk, knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 1 (32 stitches remain)
Dec Round 5: Knit 1, ssk, knit 10, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 10, knit 2 together, knit 1 (28 stitches remain)
Dec Round 7: Knit 1, ssk, knit 8, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 8, knit 2 together, knit 1 (24 stitches remain)
Dec Round 9: Knit 1, ssk, knit 6, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 6, knit 2 together, knit 1 (20 stitches remain)
Dec Round 11: Knit 1, ssk, knit 4, knit 2 together, knit 2, ssk, knit 4, knit 2 together, knit 1 (16 stitches remain)

Move the 16 remaining stitches to two needles (8 stitches on each needle) and graft together using the Kitchener Stitch. There is a wonderful tutorial for learning this stitch here.


At the SYS (Scrap Yarn Slit) pick up the 9 stitches in the row above the SYS

and 9 stitches from the row below.

Remove the scrap yarn, either by picking it out with a spare needle or cutting it (carefully!).

Join double strand MC and knit across the 18 stitches of the two needles.

Divide the 18 stitches onto three needles and join in the round (being careful not to twist).
Knit 14 rows.

At row 15 decrease in the following manner: *knit 2 together, knit 1*. Repeat between ** to end of row. Knit one row. Cut yarn leaving a 12 inch tail. Thread tail and sew through remaining stitches pullling tight.

At this point it’s nice to weave in all your loose ends although this isn’t necessarily required. After felting you can simply cut them. However, I do like to weave the hole that usually appears at the juncture of the thumb and hand.

For the hanging loop, start at base of oven mitt and crochet the cast on tail for about 20-25 crochet stitches. Pull yarn through, fold loop and sew securely to base of oven mitt.

Now you’re ready for the fun part - felting!

Note: Be sure and place your finished oven mitt in a mesh bag before washing to protect your washing machine’s motor from errant wool fibers.

And here’s how I do it: Throw an old pair of jeans into the washing machine, set water level to lowest, temperature to hot. Once agitation begins, I throw in the oven mitt (which has been placed inside a mesh bag to protect the washing machine) and add about 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent. I then allow the machine to do its thing. I don’t remove the oven mitt until the end of the cycle. If the oven mitt is too large, you can wash it again. Different colors of Lion Wool yield different results. If you have any questions or comments about this whole process, please email me. I would love to hear from you. Good Luck!

January 2, 2008

Sheldon and Max going home

As I was packing Max up to take him back to his cold, lonely apartment in Portland, I realized that I hadn't taken any photos of the finished Sheldon. You may remember Sheldon the Turtle from a cryptic post back in November. I'm not too crazy about making stuffed animals - too much sewing up - but this little guy was fairly simple and surprisingly fun to make. The shell is removable and it's kind of like a turtle sweater. Also, Sheldon was my first experience in iCord bind off and it's always nice to learn some new technique. What else can I say? Probably won't make another stuffed animal for another year but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.

I'm sure Max will complain about these photos, but I think they're cute.

The theme for January is "finishing" so look for lots of projects to reach completion this month. That's my hope anyway.