Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Sock Pattern Is Available

My new sock pattern is finalized.
You can order it by clicking on this link and following the instructions. There is also detailed information about the pattern on that site.

I will be out of town and without Internet access until late Saturday night (unless a snow storm slows my return even further), so I will be slow in responding to your order if you place it in the next couple of days. But, if you order the pattern by Sunday night and pay using cash-funded PayPal, I will do my best to send it to you no later than Monday afternoon.

Please don't forget that all the money I collect from the sale of this pattern will be donated to Oxfam for the relief efforts in Southeast Asia.
So spread the word and have fun knitting the sock.

I'll leave you with a picture of Margene modeling the prototype.

Who's linking here?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New Sock Pattern

I'm working as quickly as I can to get my new sock pattern ready for purchase. I read this morning that the tsunmai death toll is now over 70,000. So, as they say in my profession, "time is of the essence."

Here's a photo of the sock.

Please check my blog the next couple of days. The pattern should be available by Saturday at the latest. I'm committed to donating all the money I collect from the sale of the pattern to Oxfam. So please tell everyone you know and post it on your blog if you have one. Thanks!

Who's linking here?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

One of the last things I made before Christmas was a Sophie bag. Here are the obligatory pre- and post-felting pictures:

The pattern was quick and easy, but the finished bag is a little too thin and floppy for my taste. Next time I'll double the yarn. I also changed the handles because I didn't feeling like making two I-cords. So, I used my method of making a double-sided I-cord using 6 stitches. Today, Cassie revealed that she is the recipient of the bag. As my kids would say, "Use it wisely."

Speaking of the kids, they're in Las Vegas this week visiting their grandparents. Don't they look like they're missing their parents.

Who's linking here?

Monday, December 27, 2004


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and has recovered from any holiday knitting frenzy. I spent Friday morning and afternoon doing some last-minute shopping and wrapping. The stores were surprisingly calm but the drivers . . . ugh! The last store I visited was JoAnne Fabric because I had a 50% off coupon and needed one more present for DH (more on the present later this week). Anyway, as my friend in Boston used to say, "I nearly dropped my teeth" when I saw the employees setting up the Easter display! Cripes, it was December 24th!

That evening we went to a little party at the home of the woman who nannied my kids when they were little. This has become somewhat of a tradition since we have no family living close by. She has 7 children and this is the first year in quite a while that all 7 were present. Last year, one was in Iraq, and in years past at least one child has been on his or her Mormon mission. So, it was absolutely wonderful to see all of them.

My (Jewish) in-laws arrived from Las Vegas on Christmas Day and we had a traditional Italian Christmas Dinner (i.e., it involved lasagne). I spent the better part of the day working on writing a new sock pattern and watching the movie Napolean Dynamite. It's a fabulous, must see movie. Watch the trailer and you'll be hooked too.
The sock pattern will be available for purchase early next week and I've decided to donate all the proceeds to Oxfam which is assisting with the tsunami relief effort in Southeast Asia.

Oh, and here's a picture of the wonderful Christmas prezzie I received from Tine in Germany.

I've worn it every day since it arrived in the mail and I've been stopped multiple times by people who have admired it loudly. It's a beautiful, thoughtful gift.

Who's linking here?

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Every year during Hanukkah we invite my son’s friend and his family for dinner. I make an enormous number of latkes; which my kids affectionately refer to as "shiksa latkas" (try saying that 10 times fast).

Each year, I give a small gift to the mother of DS’s friend. She's half Greek and half Latino and has very dark hair and skin. This year I knit her a scarf out of Whisper yarn in dark shades of autumn colors that looked absolutely beautiful on her. Mind you, this wasn't some time-consuming knitting project that I slaved for weeks over, but it was nice enough. Anyway, she teared up when she opened it. Really. She immediately put it on and couldn't stop fingering it. We sat in my living room talking when she looked down on the floor and said, "Oh, my gosh, did you make that, too?" I admitted that I had and she gushed over it for several minutes, asking if she could hold it and literally caressing the wool.

So, I gave it to her.

Yup, my fabulous French Market Bag with the perfectly placed handles is now in the possession of a non-knitter who appreciated it so much that I deemed her knit-worthy. And you know what; I still feel really good about giving it away.

Have a great holiday.

Who's linking here?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Running Out of Steam

I've got some loose ends to tie up today, so I don't have time to post anything original. Instead, I'll link to some original things other bloggers have spent the time to post. Tune in tomorrow, though, and I'll finish my post on "Giving and Receiving" with the report on what I gave. Hint: It's something I knit and blogged about a couple of times.

First, check out this sock pattern that was written by Marguerite and posted on her blog. I've already printed this one out and put it on my "must knit" list for next year.

Next, Amy posted instructions on how to make some wonderful felted Christmas tree ornaments.

And, last but not least, Julia has posted a pattern for some adorable teeny tiny sweaters. I haven't made one of these yet, but Margene brought one to SnB last night and it was darling.

And, if you're still making goodies for the neighbors, Jenna brought these cuties to SnB.

According to Jenna, they're a snap to make. Dip maraschino cherries in melted chocolate chips and stick a Hershey's Kiss on one end. Then add the slivered almonds for the ears. Voila. Jenna also adds that you should eat them all in one bite, "like sushi." Yummy!

Who's linking here?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Giving and Receiving

Since it’s that time of year, the rest of my posts this week will be about giving and receiving. Today I'll report on the receiving.

Several wonderful packages from fellow bloggers have found their way into my mailbox over the last week or so and here are the goodies.

First, I did a little favor for Chris and she sent me these beautiful, hand-made stitch markers as a thank you:

I’ve already used them twice, Chris, and they’re wonderful!

Next, Maggi sent me two cones of Bartlett yarn in a fire engine red color:

I love this yarn. It’s very similar to Blackberry Ridge yarn and it knits up beautifully. I’ve already made a felted mini Christmas stocking from it:

It took a while to felt and the color bled quite a bit, but it is soooo soft now. Did I mention that I love this yarn?

Next, I got two bars of amazing dark chocolate with orange and almonds (yum!!) from Sibylle in Germany:

Yup, you read that right; all the way from Germany. Oh, dear, it was so good that I confess to having eaten the entire first bar already.

Last, but certainly not least, Cassie sent me this lace-weight wool in an amazing shade of aubergine.

Yes, I know it doesn't look like augergine; it's just a bad picture. Trust me, this stuff is gorgeous. After the first of the year, I hope to transform it into a Hanging Vines Scarf.

Tomorrow, I'll report on the giving.

In the meantime, if you want to make a felted mini stocking, here's how I made mine:

Cast on 24 stitches using waste cotton and #7 needles.
Switch to worsted weight, 100% wool yarn (not superwash).
Knit 1 round; purl 1 round
Knit an additional 20 rounds
Work a short-row heel over 12 stitches
After the heel is complete, continue working in the round for 20 rounds.
Make a star toe.
Felt until the fabric is firm.
After the stocking is dry, remove the waste cotton one stitch at a time. As you remove the cotton, insert a crochet hook into the little holes made by the yarn and crochet a round or two with some white Fizz or Fun Fur.
The End.

Who's linking here?

Monday, December 20, 2004

We Interrupt Our Holiday Knitting To Make Something for Ourselves

Well, Wendy has proven why she reigns queen of the knitting universe. She correctly identified the object in the "teaser" photo from last Friday as an Opera Scarf.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk yarn. The instructions call for a size #8 needle, but I used a #10 needle because the fabric was much too tight with the #8. The finished scarf is 60 inches long and 7.5 inches wide and it took only one skein. Yeah, yeah, I know I should be wrapping gifts and baking "stuff," but I put all those tasks on hold long enough to make this scarf for me. Now, back to my regularly scheduled holiday chaos.

Pressed for Time?

Need something quick to make for your neighbor who just rang your doorbell bearing a plate of cookies???? Here’s an incredibly easy recipe for fudge that’s made in the microwave. No prior cooking experience required. My daughter has been making this stuff since she was like 7 years old.

1 (12 oz.) pkg. (2 c.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 measuring tsp. vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil.
Combine the semi-sweet chips and the sweetened condensed milk in a large glass bowl. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes. Stir until the chips melt completely and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the walnuts and the vanilla extract. Spread evenly into the foil-lined pan. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into small squares.
Warning: This stuff is extremely sweet.

Who's linking here?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Weekend Project

I only have a minute to write today's post today, but I do have some pictures.

I've been busily knitting hats the last couple of weeks, but haven't blogged about them. Here are two.

Both are made from Noro Kureyon. I used this pattern, but cast on 88 stitches instead of 99. I also did the top decreases differently. I used a centered double decrease which I think looks nicer.

With both changes, I was able to get a hat out of one skein of Kureyon with a little left over. They're easily knit in a night and would make nice gifts or additions to a bag of goodies for your local homeless shelter.

Oh, and I finished another project last night. Here's a teaser:

Any guesses as to what it is?

Bumper Sticker

I may not be much help to those of you who asked about the bumper sticker on my tack board. I got it at a local fiber festival last September and can't remember the name of the vendor. But, I'll send a note to the woman who organized the festival and maybe she has some information. I'll let you know.

P.S. I just have to get this off my chest: Interweave Knits sucks! I will never, ever order a subscription from them again. I'll continue to buy my issues from my LYS even though that means I can't access their special little secret-coded Web pages.

Who's linking here?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My Desk

Cassie and Margene have followed Claudia's lead so here I go too. Actually, I should be ashamed to show these pictures of my desk, but here they are so I obviously have no pride.
If you click on the picture, Norma, it will get larger and you can see the can of Diet Pepsi next to my keyboard.

All that really matters, of course, is the stuff on my tackboard.

See all mini socks? They've been sent to me over the last year or so by several wonderful knitters in Germany including Tine and Wapiti. Also, it's hard to see but there's a mini mitten hanging on the far left. Kadri sent that to me last Christmas and it has a fully functional thumb; unlike the sorry little thumb on my mini Latvian mitten.

Margene recently gifted the "Knit" sticker to me and I'll keep it on my tack board until I decide whether to affix it to my car. For now, it resides next to my bookmark imprinted with the Bill of Rights. Somehow, I felt that was an appropriate spot.

Who's linking here?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mini Mitten Mania

In light of the renewed interest in my mini Latvian mitten (occasioned in whole by the coveted link placed on the blog of She Who Need Not Be Named), I'll give it a little more air time.

Here's the top:

And here's the palm (trust me, the thumb is at a weird angle in this picture and looks much better "in person"):

The pattern is by Lizbeth Upitis and appears on page 50 of the "infamous" Knitter's Magazine issue #9. That's the issue with the shawl patterns which formed the basis for the book, "The Best of Knitter’s: Shawls and Scarves." It also contains the pattern for the Faroese Shawl I made my mother earlier this year.

Instructions are given to knit two sizes: "small" (18 stitches) and "larger small" (30 stitches) and there are three charted patterns for each size. I made the "larger small" size using the first chart. There really are no instructions for knitting the pattern on the palm so I just did the easiest thing I could think of. Although it’s not functional, the thumb is actually knit in the round.

The instructions suggest knitting the small size with 3 double pointed needles and the larger small size with 5 needles. I used the Magic Loop technique to knit mine and put the top stitches on one end of the needle and the palm stitches on the other end.

If you can manage to get a hold of the magazine, you should try the pattern. The most frustrating part is knitting the thumb stitches in the round, but once you've managed that, the finished mitten is pretty cute.

Who's linking here?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ruffles Scarf

I have some yarn in my stash that I have no memory of purchasing. It simply turned up in one of my Rubbermaid bins one day; an interloper, seeking company among the skeins of Brown Sheep and Cascade 220.

It's a nice combination of wool and cotton with a rayon wrap; although the rayon is a bit temperamental at times. Since I'm not one to discriminate against gypsy yarns, I've knit several projects from it including several pairs of socks. I've also used it to experiment with Kool Aid dying. No matter how many things I've knit, however, the number of skeins never seems to decrease. Could it be multiplying???
Anyway, it seemed the perfect choice for the American Girl Doll sweater that I blogged about yesterday. As I knit the sweater, I began to think it would be fun to use the same yarn for the second daughter's present. I also noticed how nicely the fabric was draping and imagined it would make a nice scarf. After perusing several patterns and books, I decided on the Ruffles Scarf from the Scarf Style book. I've actually been working on this scarf for quite a while, but haven't blogged about it. Mainly because it took a long time to knit so there wasn't much progress from day to day. But, I finished it on Friday.

I highly recommend using short, double-pointed needles to knit this scarf. It uses a short-row technique and, hence, you are constantly turning the work. This is considerably easier to accomplish with short needles. I used #6 Brittany Birch needles that were only 5 inches long.

My daughter modeled it before we wrapped it up. It could probably have been slightly longer but I was getting a little bored with knitting it.

It's unclear to me whether she's patterning her "look" after Raven or Veronica Lake.

Who's linking here?

Monday, December 13, 2004

One Yarn, Two Presents

Every year, good friends of ours throw the most incredible Hanukkah party you can imagine. This year, attendance topped 43 so it was even crazier than usual. As always, the highlight is a rousing game of Hanukkah Bingo which is essentially a white elephant swap (or Yankee Swap, as we called it in Boston), except the hosts provide all the gifts. My son was walking on air because he managed to score a set of these playing cards.

The hosts have two young girls. One is my daughter's age and the other is 8. Although their mother is a wonderful knitter (she made the original Dancing Stars Felted Bag), I usually knit a little gift for each girl for her Hanukkah present. The eight-year-old has a collection of American Girl Dolls and loved the Aran sweater I made the doll last year. So, this year I made a cardigan:

Yes, I was sewing the buttons on about an hour before the party and realized I only had 4 instead of 5. I did manage to scrounge up a cute one for the top. Hard to tell, but it's shaped like a bird.

The instructions are in this little booklet which I highly recommend if you ever see it for sale:

The pattern is a neck-down cardigan and I changed I changed it slightly by working the raglan increases with M1s instead of yarn-overs.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with the rest of the yarn.

Who's linking here?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Houston, We Have A Winner

The jury's in (so to speak) and I'm happy to announce that the winner of my contest is the incomparable Donna of Knit One Purl Too. Donna came within 13 pairs of hitting the sock-yarn nail on the head. I hope you've decided not to join the YNBA, Donna, 'cause you just won some sock yarn.

I had several entrants ask if they could guess again after I posted the "hint" that no one was even coming close to the correct answer. So, in the interest of fairness, I counted all those second entries and I also chose a second winner from the people who sent their guesses before I gave the hint. The second winner is Azhar who is a prolific sock knitter and wonderful member of my Six Sox Knitalong. Azhar's guess was off by more than 200 pairs (yikes, did I just type that!), but it was the closest guess made by one of the early entrants.

Oh, I should probably add that only one person guessed too high.

Have a great weekend. Don't eat too many latkes.

Who's linking here?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Seeing Stars

Nanette has posted a wonderful pattern for knitted stars. I made one last night immediately after reading her post:

Then I got to thinking, "Could I use this pattern to make a 6-pointed star?" Alas, it was way past my bedtime so I couldn't try my idea. This morning, though, I eschewed breakfast and knit up a 6-pointed version:

I followed Nanette's instructions, but cast on 66 stitches instead of 55. Also, it needed a little more blocking than the 5-pointed version.

Don't forget to enter my contest. I'm posting the winner tomorrow afternoon. Scroll down to last Friday's post for the rules. And when you enter, keep in mind that no one has even come close to guessing the correct answer.

Archived Post

Here's the last of my archived posts. It's the post in which I described the changes I made to Polly's wonderful French Market Bag.

Drum roll . . . . here it is:

There's another picture that didn't come out as well here.
There are a couple of other views, too. This one shows how it looked right after I removed it from the box that I was using to block it.

And this one is how it looks when it's being held. See how the front doesn't pucker. Success!!

In keeping with the Français theme, I think I'll call it "French Market Bag Révisé."

Here' s how I did the handles so they're centered over the front and back.

  1. I followed the pattern exactly until the sides were approximately 10 inches tall.

  2. On the next row, knit 50 and place marker; *k2 k2tog* 12 times; k2 and place marker; knit 50 and place marker; *k2 k2tog* 12 times; k2 and place marker.

  3. You should now have 50 stitches then a marker, 38 stitches then a marker, 50 stitches then a marker, and 38 stitches then a marker.

  4. The straps will be worked over the sides with 50 stitches and the sides with 38 stitches become the bound-off sides of the bag.

  5. Knit 1 round.

  6. The next round is the bind off round.

  7. Knit 23; bind off 4; knit 23 and remove marker; bind off 38 and remove marker; knit 23; bind off 4; knit 23 and remove marker; bind off 38 and remove marker.

  8. Work the straps over the 23 stitches exactly the same as the pattern instructs. OR work 6 rows between decreases like I did to make slightly longer handles.

That's it. Remember, though, this alteration will only work if you knit the base of the bag using the circular instructions.

I also took a close-up of the Jo Sharp after it's felted.

See the wonderful little swirls in the fabric. Love it. But, it's a little out of my price range for felted items--$12-$13 for 100g--ouch.

Who's linking here?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

New Knit Along

After some gentle prodding on my part, Vera has agreed to organize a knitalong for the Market Squares bag. The pattern originally appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of Knitter's Magazine, and it's been reprinted in the new book, Bags: A Knitter's Dozen. I've been wanting to make this bag since I first saw it in the magazine so I told Vera that I'm definitely on board. Sign up by going to Vera's blog entry. She also has some excellent pictures and links to a site that describes how to knit entrelac.

Don't Be Offended

Here's today's archived post. I chose it because after I posted it, I got a lot of hits when someone left the link on a message board. So, I guess someone else thought it was funny.

. . . . . .
Someone sent this picture to me the other day. It relates to something we were discussing and Stitch 'n Bitch last Tuesday. Margene got a kick out of it so you may too.

The caption under it said "Wyoming Hooker." Or, as a rural Utah legislator once allegedly said during a debate on a proposed bestiality law, "You just don't understand our culture."

Who's linking here?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Devil Made Me Do It

After weeks of enviously watching Stephanie knit fabulous mittens; gaping open-mouthed while Nanette knit up a mountain of amazing hats, socks, and gloves; and reading Cassie’s reviews of her formidable collection of mitten books, I decided to ignore the unfinished Ruffles Scarf and two felted oven mitts that I must complete before a Hanukkah party on Saturday. Instead, I started a mitten ornament for the tree.

This is the top.

And this is the side where the thumb will be placed.

I stopped when I got to the decreases because I was losing my patience and my eyesight. Maybe my diversion wasn’t so foolish after all. That scarf is looking much more appealing after a night of knitting Baby Ull at a gauge of 12 stitches to the inch on a size #0 Addi turbo.

Braid Cast On

Here's a post from May 26, 2004. I decided it was reprint-worthy because several people wrote me and confirmed that they tried it and really liked the look. Basically, it's an explanation of how to knit a braid using the tail from a long-tail cast on.

. . . . . . . . .

The first sock in the Six Sox Knitalong is the Cloverleaf Rib sock adapted to adult sizes. The pattern, as written, does not have a traditional ribbed cuff. I’ve tentatively decided to use a braid cast on to keep the top of the sock from flaring out. A braided cast on, though, uses two strands of yarn and, typically, two different colors. I wanted to use just one color and also wanted to minimize the number of loose ends to weave in at the end of the sock. So I came up with this method, which uses the tail from the long-tail cast on as the second strand.

Loosely cast on the appropriate number of stitches using a long-tail cast on method. I like to cast on over two needles held together using the twisted German technique. Leave at least a 4-5 foot tail. Knit one round. Move both the yarn coming from the ball and the yarn remaining from the long tail cast on to the front of your work. Alternate purling one stitch using the yarn from the ball and one stitch using the yarn from the tail. Each time you should bring the yarn over the top of the stitch you just made. Continue in this manner until the end of the round. On the next round, alternate purling one stitch using the yarn from the ball and one stitch using the yarn from the tail but, this time, carry the yarn under the stitch you just made. At the end of the round, bring both strands of yarn to the back of your work and knit one round plain. Cut
the yarn left from the long-tail cast on to a length that can be woven in at the end of the sock. Continue making the sock using the appropriate pattern. Here’s what it should look like.

Who's linking here?

Monday, December 06, 2004


Here's the first of my archived posts. I originally posted this on March 4, 2003. I chose it because the situation (albeit slightly toned down) continues to this day and I'd still love to find a solution that doesn't involve getting her in trouble with her boss. Oh, and I should add that neither speaking to her about it nor putting dirty, disgusting things in the waste basket have helped. The office secretary tried the former and I've tried the latter.

Don't forget to enter my contest and don't underestimate me when you make your guess. ;-)

Office Dilemma
Here’s my current office dilemma for which I am seeking your sage advice. The person who cleaned our office every morning was recently fired. She was extremely pleasant but, unfortunately, marginally competent. Oh, and there was that little problem about her failing to actually report to work on a consistent basis. Anyway, her replacement is driving me crazy! Not more than a week after she first arrived, she began coming into my office to dump the trash and literally standing above me waiting, I guess, for me to engage in a lengthy conversation with her. Not my thing. I assume my nonresponsiveness eventually made the point and, mercifully, she stopped. Next, in a new attempt to make small talk, she began poking through my trash as I sat at my desk and questioning me about the contents and whether I really meant to throw them away. "Oh, Susan, did you really mean to throw away this chewed gum and this broken rubber band?" Honestly, I think she could have told you how many Kleenex I used in a day. UGH! So, being the passive-aggressive person I am, I devised a scheme. I ceased putting trash in my waste basket (or "barrel" as only a true Bostonian would say), and began placing it in the communal waste basket in the kitchen area. No trash to poke through so problem solved, n’est pas? Mais non! Now, she comes into my office with the trash from my co-worker’s waste basket and quizzes me as to whether he meant to throw things away. OK, I need to put an end to this. Are there any passive-agressive readers out there who have any suggestions?? Help!

Who's linking here?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Celebrate! Plus A Contest!

Today my blog is one year old. WooHoo!

I'll be the first to admit that it was a pretty lame blog the first few months, but I'm fairly happy with it now. On this mundane historic day, I'd like to thank two other knitters. First, there's Teresa who assured me that my blog didn't suck when, in fact, it did. But, because I admire Teresa, I blinded myself to the truth and kept on blogging when I probably should have thrown in the towel. Thanks, Teresa. Second, I want to thank Lynn, who was the first knitting blogger to link to me. Betcha didn't think I'd remember that did you, Lynn?

I'd also like to say that, for the most part, I've enjoyed my blogging experience although it sometimes consumes a little too much precious knitting time. I'm especially happy about all the wonderful knitting bloggers I've met in the last year, both in the U.S. and across The Pond, especially Germany. So, what's my biggest regret about my first year of blogging?? If I had to pick one thing, it's that my favorite blogger has never linked to me (*sigh*) although she's left a comment or two on my blog (causing a slight quickening of my heartbeat each time). Come on, Stephanie, throw me a bone, huh. I've knit a pair of Estonian mittens; I've met Nancy Bush in person several times; and I've even been to Toronto (and Montreal and Quebec). Maybe Norma, Cassie, and Margene can put in a good word for me. Margene and Lisa, at least, can confirm that my knitting doesn't totally suck.

In any event, to commemorate my blog's one-year anniversary, I'm doing two things.
First, I'm digging back into the archives and next week will re-print what I consider to be the best posts of the year. It's taken me a while to find a sufficient number of good posts, but I think you'll like them.
Second, I'm having a contest! Last weekend, as I attempted to
re-organize my stash, it dawned on me that I have a lot of sock yarn.
Heavens, I'm not complaining and have no intention of stopping the acquisitions! I just thought it might be fun to combine my love of collecting sock yarn with a blog contest. So, between now and next Friday just send me an E-Mail with your guess as to how many pairs of socks I can make with the sock yarn in my stash and you'll be entered into my contest. Let's assume it takes 100g of yarn to make a pair of socks, OK. The catch? You must come the closest without going over and you can never tell what the winning response was. A grrl's gotta have her secrets. The prize? Sock yarn, of course.

Who's linking here?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Knitting With Beads According To Someone Who Has No Clue How To Knit With Beads

As promised, for what's it's worth here are some of my notes on how I knit the beaded sock in yesterday’s post.

Keep in mind that I’d only knit with beads once before I attempted this pattern, so I probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

First, I had the forethought to check my yarn for knots before I strung the beads. If I’d encountered a knot before I’d knit all the beads into the sock, it would have been necessary to restring all the beads that hadn’t yet been placed. Clearly, not an amusing or desired turn of events. So, first bit of advice: check for knots.

Next I strung all the beads by using some sewing thread as a “jumper” of sorts. I believe there are several sites on the Web that describe how to do this. It is necessary unless you have a needle with an eye small enough to pass through the beads. Don’t ask me what size beads I used, ‘cause I don’t know. I brought my yarn to a local bead store and bought the beads recommended by the clerk because (1) they fit through the yarn, (2) they were washable, and (3) I liked the color. I can tell you that the yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport yarn. It’s one of my favorite, all-purpose wool yarns and it comes in lots and lots of colors. I decided not to use sock/fingering weight yarn because the pattern calls for a cast-on of 60 stitches. I knew the gauge with sock yarn would have been far too loose for my taste, but I was too lazy to either (1) recalculate the number of beads I’d need or (2) thread and place even more beads than called for in the pattern. So, I took the easy way out and used heavier yarn.

Next, I decided that I didn’t like the plain ribbing in the pattern so I worked a baby cable rib instead. It’s not a “real” cable, you simply knit into the second stitch on the needle before knitting into the first stitch and slide both off at the same time. It’s what Nancy Bush calls a “traveling stitch.”

I originally intended to place the beads using a slip stitch method. In other words, when you get to the spot where a bead should be placed, you move the yarn to the front of your work, slide the bead into place on the yarn, slip the next stitch (which is now obscured by the bead which sits horizontally on the yarn). After placing the bead, knit the next stitch. My slip-method plan, however was foiled by the fact that on four of the pattern rows, there is one bead placed directly next to another bead. Hmmmm . . . how could I place a bead by slipping it into place, then place the next one in the same way without working an “anchor” stitch in between. I was stumped. I’ve since thought that perhaps it’s possible to slide two beads into place, then slip two stitches before continuing knitting. Is there any brave knitter out there willing to try my hypothesis???

In any event, because it didn’t appear that the slip stitch method would work, I used an extremely convoluted method described in Donna Kooler’s book, “The Encyclopedia of Knitting.” I believe she refers to it as the masochist “purled” method. In short, you place the bead by knitting it in the row before it’s needed; essentially “setting it up” to be placed in the appropriate row. When you work the row in which the bead appears, the bead is sitting there waiting for you. If you purl the stitch, you can move the bead into place with your finger. Trust me, this actually works although it takes some trial and error. The only flaw with this method is that on some
rows, it is necessary to “set up” the beads for the next row while simultaneously placing the beads that have already been set up in the row before. Not for the beading faint of heart or anyone with school age children who actually expect help with their homework (not that I’m speaking from experience). I did realize after I’d knit my sock that this problem could be eliminated by knitting a plain row between the beaded rows. Duh. Oh, I should probably also add that the flaw in the "purled" approach is that it is impossible to place two beads on top of each other using this method. Hence, I cut out one of the rounds; I think it was one of the middle rounds.

In short, I had fun knitting this sock. It looks impressive and now that I know better I’m sure I could knit it more quickly and enjoy it more. But, I’ve shared all my tips with you so you won’t have as steep a learning curve as I did. And, of course, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Oh yeah, and while I have your attention, I want to let you know that I have a special, humdinger surprise post tomorrow. I’m having a contest and you can enter if you come back tomorrow and read all about it.

Now go forth and knit beaded socks.

Who's linking here?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Great Unique Gifts

If you haven't finished your Christmas list yet, Amy posted a great list of online shops from which you can order unique gifts. Take a quick peek when you have a chance.

New Socks!

The new pattern in the Six Sox Knitalong was announced late last night. Here's the one I test knit. If you click on the picture, a new window pops up with a much larger view.

I altered the pattern slightly (no surprise there), by knitting a baby cable cuff and extending the length of the leg slightly. I also learned a lot about bead knitting by making this sock. But, I'll save the commentary on bead knitting for another day. I'm in a slightly foul mood today and I don't want you to see me at my worst (see item #9 in my list from yesterday).

Ciao for now.

Who's linking here?

Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.