Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Too Fun!

Has anyone listened to Daniela's Secret Knitting podcasts?? She provides you with oral instructions on how to knit a stitch pattern or small project. I think it is a wonderfully clever concept. Plus, she has the greatest accent. Tomorrow she's knitting a necklace from shiny ribbon yarn. You can bet I'll be listening!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Four More!

Pat used my top-down pattern to knit her first-ever hat! It looks wonderful, Pat; the moss stitch pattern is perfect. But I'm dubious about your claim that this is your first hat!

And Peg sent me a photo of her hat last night:

She used the half-linen stitch that I suggested and a silk-blend yarn. Yum! Love it, Peg.

And, last but not least, Renee and Susan both sent links to the hats they made. They used the half-linen stitch, too. Susan's was knit from handspun so she was able to use up every last bit. That's the idea!

Scarf Of The Day

DD has requested that I knit scarves for her friends this holiday season. Here's the first:

I used this pattern that I picked up at Michaels when I was buying the yarn for my MIL's shrug.
Pattern modifications: I did not use the suggested yarn (which is LB Homespun--yuck!) and I cast on 100 stitches instead of the 110 recommended in the pattern. In hindsight, I think the scarf would have been plenty long if I'd only cast on 90.

What did I learn from this project? It takes a hell of a long time to cast off 800 stitches.


And, since I promised some spinning photos, I'll start with this and show you a hank of something else tomorrow.

It's spun from some Targhee roving I picked up at Three Wishes, the new spinning/weaving/yarn shop that opened in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago. I'm not really a green person, but this colorway (called Emerald Isle) just screamed out at me since it's a little more teal than green. I spun 4.5 oz of roving into 490 yards of two-ply yarn. Not bad. I'd hoped to use it for socks, but I'm wondering if the Targhee is too soft. It feels almost like merino. Has anyone used Targhee yarn for socks? How do they wear?

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Monday, November 28, 2005

More Hats (!) And a Scarf, Too

The photos keep rolling in. Yesterday, Cassandra sent me this one of the hat she knit from my top-down pattern.

Too cute! She used Colinette Skye yarn.
And check out the hats knit by Margene and Erin. I especially love the one Erin knit from her handspun.

After I finished an unexpected project for my MIL on Thursday, I had a little time over the holiday weekend to finish up some lingering projects; mostly scarves. So, I may have a scarf-a-day to show this week. But first, I finally have photos of the one I knit for Eliza as part of our Salt Lake Stitch 'n Bitch scarf swap.

I used the stitch pattern I blogged about a couple of weeks ago and added the crocheted corkscrew fringe to make it a little more interesting.

I gave it to Eliza last week and that was none too soon. It has been cooooooold here the last few days so I'm hoping she's getting some use out of it.

If you come back tomorrow, I'll regale you with some spinning. I just need to find time to take some photos.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Live Dangerously, Don't Swatch Hat Modifications

Top Down Hats!

Several knitters have emailed me or sent links to hats made from the top-down pattern I posted last week.

Don't you just love this one that was knit by Nan out of Manos.

Tara made cute one for her local homeless shelter.

And Joanna used the pattern to make four adorable preemie hats.

If you don't like the slightly pointy top (which, personally, I think is kinda cute), you can easily make more of a pillbox shape by increasing more quickly at the top. Here's how I would do it:

If you use this alternate method, you'll be increasing 8 stitches each round instead of 6. It makes a flatter top.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

In Which I Describe How To Finish The Hat

Ok, it's the home stretch. The sides of your hat should be completed and I bet you're anxiously awaiting the finishing instructions.

I used an I-cord bind off for my hat. It makes a firm, yet slightly stretchy edge. Plus, it looks so damn neat.

I was going to write out the instructions for the bind-off, but Ann's done all the work for me! So, click here for her wonderful, fantabulous slide show. But, before you start, I should add that I do the bind off a little different than Ann. I knit the first two stitches and then decrease by knitting the next two together through the back loop. I think it looks nicer. But try it both ways and see which you prefer.


If you want to add a cute corkscrew tassle at the top, they're easy to make. Just crochet a chain of any number of stitches then work two double crochets in each chain (starting with the third one from the hook) until you run out of chain stitches. If you don't crochet, you can accomplish the same thing by casting on any number of stitches and then increasing in each stitch by knitting into the front and back until you run out of stitches. Then bind off loosely.

If you made a hat this past week from my instructions, leave a link to your blog in the comments or email a photo to me.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In Which I Describe How to Knit the Sides of the Hat

So, has everyone finished knitting the top of their hat? Let's move on to the sides.

Step 3:

Knit 2 rounds plain.

Begin knitting in any pattern stitch you like. Don't forget, however, that the pattern stitch must be a multiple of 2, 3, or 6 unless you increase or decrease some stitches. I used a simple two-stitch, two-round repeat as follows:
Round 1: knit
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of round

Other good choices are:

The half linen stitch, which makes a nice, sturdy hat and looks good with variegated yarn. WYIF means "with yarn in front."
Round 1: *k1, wyif slip 1 purlwise; repeat from * to end of round
Rounds 2 & 4: knit
Round 3: *wyif slip 1 purwise, k1; repeat from * to end of round


This stitch pattern (I don't know the name) which makes a really stretchy hat if you don't know the head size of the recipient.
Round 1: *k1, knit one in the stitch below; repeat from * to end of round
Rounds 2 & 4: knit
Round 3: *knit one in the stitch below, k1; repeat from * to end of round

Of course, you can also just knit each round to make a stockinette stitch cap, or do a k2, p2 rib.

Work your chosen stitch pattern until the sides are the right length. If you want a beanie-style hat, make the sides short. If you want a cap that you can pull over your ears, make them longer.

I stopped after 4 inches because I was almost out of yarn.

Let me know when you've caught up with me and I'll tell you how to finish off the bottom edge of the hat.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In Which I Describe How to Start The Hat

OK, do you have your yarn and needles? Well, what are you waiting for.

Step 2:
Cast 6 stitches onto one of the double-points using Emily Ocker's cast on.

Divide the 6 stitches evenly onto 3 of the double-points. That's 2 stitches on each needle for those of you who are math-challenged.

Join into the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. Place a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

Increase in each stitch by knitting into the front and the back of the stitch (12 sts).

Knit 1 round.

Now, start the increase pattern. If you eventually switch to a circular needle, don't forget to place markers at the appropriate spots. M1R stands for "make one right" and M1L stands for "make one left."

Round 1: *k1, M1R, knit to within 1 st of the end of the needle, M1L, k1; repeat from * for each needle
Round 2: knit

Repeat these two rounds until the hat is as large as you need.
How will you know when to stop increasing? Simply check your gauge then multiply the stitches per inch by the finished circumference you desire. The result is the number of stitches you should have on the needle when you stop the increases. But, don't forget that you'll have to round up or down to get a multiple of 6.

For my hat, I'm getting 5.5 stitches to the inch and I want a hat that's 17.5 inches in circumference (it's for a child). If I multiply 5.5 by 17.5 I get 96.25 which I must round to the nearest multiple of 6, i.e., 96. So, I stopped increasing when I had 96 stitches on my needle.

Still with me? Let me know when you're ready for the next installment.

Update: I like snug hats so I usually knit them 10% smaller than the recipient's head circumference. If your head measures 20 inches, subtract 2 inches (10%) and increase until the hat has a circumference of 18 inches. This makes a snug-fitting hat.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

In Which I Share A Hat Pattern

Like the way I stole Michaele's title format?

I have a little holiday gift for all of you. It's a hat pattern I designed that requires no gauge swatch. In fact, you are hereby prohibited from knitting a gauge swatch! Yup, you just cast on and away you go. The only catch is that it's knit from the top down, so the first couple of rounds are a little fussy to work. But stick with it; it's worth it.

I'm calling the pattern, the "Live Dangerously, Don't Swatch Hat" and I will give the instructions seriatim. Mostly because I haven't had time to write them out in their entirety. So, play along with me and come back in a day or two for the next installment. Think of it as a mini knitalong.

Step 1:
Choose a nice yarn and some appropriate needles. You'll need a set of 4, double-points and a circular needle in the same size (although, of course, it is possible to knit the entire hat on the double-points). I would estimate that you'll need approximately 150-200 yards of yarn; more if you have a big head.

Do Not, under any circumstances, knit a gauge swatch!

Come back tomorrow after you've chosen your yarn and needles.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Stash Mismanagement

A few recent additions to my fiber stash (cones, who said anything about cones?) have stretched my storage capacity to the max. If you see something you'd like, let me know by emailing me.

Need scarf yarns for holiday gifts?

Two skeins of Bernat Boa in color 81505 "Phoenix" can be yours for $6.00.

Or, perhaps you'd prefer blue (color #81105 - "Blue Bird").

Want something fancier? How about some Filatura di Crosa "No Smoking" yarn. I have one skein of color #102 (black and silver) and one of color #304 (black and jewel tones). $6.50 each:

Or how about some Berroco Jewel FX. I have one skein of color #6901 (white and gold) for $4.00.

Mix and match the No Smoking and/or the Jewel FX with some Berroco Luxe. For $5.00 you can have either the black or the white:

Not glitzy enough. Then you may like a 25g, 108 yard cone of Skacel "Vegas" (80% rayon and 20% polyester) in a very sparkly green. Perfect accent for a Christmas scarf and only $7.00:

Natural fibers? Got some of those too. I have eight skeins of Lane Borgosesia Knitaly yarn and a Fiber Trends baby blanket pattern. Six of the skeins are pink, and two are a minty seafoam green. The yarn is a great, basic 100% superwash wool (worsted weight, each 100g skein contains 215 yards). The pattern is Fiber Trends # CH-23 and it's called "Easy Knit Baby Blankets." There is more than enough yarn to make any of the three styles in the pattern, including the two-color style.

?Want it? It's yours (yarn and pattern) for $42.00.

Stay tuned for more later this week; including some sock yarn (*sob*).

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Got Patterns?

Last week, I inadvertently deleted a large portion of the information and links on my sidebar. *Doh*
I did some housekeeping and decided to re-post my list of holiday gifts that can be knit from 1-3 skeins of yarn. I’m still culling some dead links, though, so everything may not work until next week. I’m also deleting links to patterns that require more than 350 yards of yarn. A project that uses three skeins of Zephyr won’t be a quick knit.

If you have any patterns you’d like to see me add, just send me an email or leave a comment. I’ll update the list on the sidebar as I have time.

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005


The Autumn 2005 Better Pal Exchange ended on Tuesday and I discovered that the knitter who gifted to me was Rebecca! Here are the contents of the last package I received from Rebecca:

A bar of fig/apple soap (manufactured, I might add, by one of my favorite soap companies), a cute little candle that smells like sugar (yum!), and a luscious skein of Manos del Uruguay. I think it screams hat; what do you think? There was a bar of chocolate, too, but I think we all know why it’s not in the photo.

Rebecca has been a major contributor to my ever-growing pile of UFOs. I'm still knitting the socks from the Regia yarn she sent me and I'm steadily knitting along on the Old Shale Shawl from the Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud. I've only been working on it at Stitch 'n Bitch but it's growing steadily:

Thanks for everything, Rebecca; you were a fantastic Better Pal.

Knit Unto Others

Carole and Margene have formed a short-term charity knitalong which I joined yesterday. I've got one hat finished already:

Pattern: my own
Yarn: The very last bit of some Bartlett cone yarn gifted to me by Maggie (I've knit a lot of charity items from this yarn, Maggie!)

Go check out the Knit Unto Others web site. There are lots of helpful links and a listing of charites that need your help.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Once Upon A Time . . .

There was a knitter who fancied herself a spinner. During a particularly stressful period, she found it difficult to knit even the simplest pattern so she turned to the wheel as a substitute for the bottle. She began by dyeing some soft, creamy roving with bright, perky Kool Aid. After committing all her spare time for the better part of a week to the project, she had spun the roving into 400 yards of dreadfully horrific yarn. It was anemic, uneven; a complete and thorough disappointment. Into a drawer it went . . . out of sight but not out of mind.

Then . . .

This pseudo-spinner met up with Marcia, the spinning goddess. Marcia casually mention spinning cabled yarn from less-than-perfect 2-ply.


And the best part, Marcia gave me, a present:

Marcia, you’re my hero.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005


Last Thursday, I played hooky from work and hitched a ride with Margene to Park City for the SOAR market. Michaele joined us at the first stop, The Fold, where we loaded up on skeins of Socks That Rock. Damn, so many choices and all of them were so gorgeous:

Next up was The Wooly West where I got an Estonian mitten booklet that I’ve been meaning to order from Nancy for a while. She showed us some cute bookplates that she just got. If you call her and order some, she’ll autograph as many as you want and then you don’t have to send your book to her if you want it personalized. Great idea.
Here’s Nancy signing some for Margene:

Margene made sure she got the names right:

Next stop, Windy Valley Muskox where Margene and I bought the most beautiful shawl pattern. Unfortunately, the recommended yarn was qiviut and I just couldn’t justify three skeins of it. But it was fabulous.
We browsed through several more booths before calling it quits. Here's the haul being protected by Margene and Michaele:

But, believe it or not the best part was not about anything I bought. It involves this wonderful, fabulous spinner:

You'll have to wait 'til tomorrow to find out why.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Eliza, Don't Read This!!

Ok, Eliza, stop reading right now or you'll see your secret scarf.

The rest of you are welcome to read on.

Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful information about My So-Called Scarf and for offering suggestions as to good scarf patterns for bulky weight yarn. Lu left a link to this cute pattern and I swatched it up. Unfortunately, it makes liberal use of the purl stitch which I'm unable to work because of my wonky thumb. So I just substituted k2tog for the p2tog and got this:

I think it's a keeper. Here's the pattern:
Cast on 22 stitches
Pattern Row: k1, *yo, k2tog; repeat until one st remains, k1

That's it. You just keep repeating the same row. Even my pea brain can remember that. Although the stitches slant, the scarf does not bias because they slant to the opposite side on the reverse. Yes, the pattern is completely reversible and looks identical on both sides. Perfect for a scarf.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Scarf Swap Seizure

I'm participating in a scarf swap with other members of the Salt Lake Stitch 'n Bitch group. You know the drill: the person with whom I am paired provides me with the yarn and I knit a scarf for her using an appropriate pattern. I got the yarn last night:

Fabulous, isn't it. It's from The dilema, however, is that it is bulky weight yarn; about 250 yards. Since I rarely knit with anything heavier than sport-weight, I don't have a cache of patterns to peruse for the perfect match to this yarn. I'm seized up with the thought of making the wrong decision and ruining Eliza's fabulous yarn.

I looked at Stacey's "My So Called Scarf" pattern but worry that it will create a bulky, inflexible fabric. Anyone have any experience with Stacey's pattern. Or can someone suggest a good scarf pattern to use with bulky weight, hand-painted yarn?

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This Post Has No Title

Knit Picks has put up the scarf pattern I wrote using their Suri Dream yarn. These scarves are seriously easy to knit and cheap, too! One ball of yarn makes one scarf. At $4.00 a ball, that's cheap by anyone's standards. If you click on the photo, it brings you to the Knit Picks site.

The scarf uses a provisional cast on and it's a good project to learn the cast on because you start with very few stitches. My favorite type of provisional cast on is the method in which you work a crochet chain around the knitting needle. There are excellent instructions on how to work this cast on here and here. The beauty is that when you're ready to release the live stitches, you can simply pull on the end of the crochet chain and it unravels easily.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Kool Aid Redux

So, are you sick of this topic yet?

After reading that my favorite Yankee knitter had difficulty reproducing the hand-painted effect I achieved with some Kool Aid last weekend, I decided to try it again myself. The result was complete and total failure. The two colors blended completely and I got a nice, but solid, purple color. I can only blame last week's success on the alignment of the stars or what I had for breakfast that day.

Since I'm not one to let a little disappointment hinder my ability to fritter away a perfectly wonderful Sunday morning, I pulled out 4 more packets of Kool Aid. This time, I placed the yarn in a shallow bath of water and heated the water until it was steaming, but not boiling. While it was heating, I mixed up one packet of Berry Blue Kool Aid and one packet of Black Cherry and set them aside. I poured the second packet of Berry Blue and the second packet of Black Cherry into separate salt shakers. When the yarn was hot, I poured the blue mixture onto the wet yarn, then the black cherry.
Ah, Kool Aid and yarn soup:

Before the colors had exhausted completely, I used the dry Kool Aid in the salt shakers to over-dye the colors, i.e., I sprinkled the Black Cherry on the areas that I had poured the Berry Blue and vice versa. Then I toned down all the colors by sprinking a tiny bit of Grape over the entire surface of the yarn. Don't be heavy handed with the Grape, it is seriously dark.

Here's how it looked in the skein:

And, knitted up:

Not bad.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

You Got Questions, I Got Answers

Here are some of the recent questions I’ve received in my comments and in emails:

Beth asked:

"Is the yarn dyed with KoolAid colorfast?"

I've dyed with Kool Aid several times before and have had no trouble with the colors bleeding or fading. Just make sure you rinse the skeins well after they've cooled.

Carole wants to know:

"Do you have any recommendations for good Kool Aid colors to try?"

Most of the colors are a bit too bright and clown-like for my taste. But the black cherry is nice. I quite like the way my skeins came out using the black cherry mixed with the Berry Blue. If you don’t like the colors in the packets, try mixing a couple together and see what you get. Check Gwen’s blog to see what she got when she mixed lemonade and grape.

Several people asked about the red-orange scarf with the holes that I made while I was in Chicago. The pattern is from a Noro book and is called the Grinda scarf. I’ve added the link to the pattern book in the post. I should disclose, however, that I didn’t follow the pattern exactly as it’s written. I fudged it so I wouldn’t have to weave in a million yarn ends.

And, thanks to everyone who helped me in my quest for more CIAK journals. Collette in Chicago responded to my plea almost immediately and yesterday I received a cache of them from her. Thanks a million, Collette!! Chicago knitters rock!

And . . . just in case you thought I haven't been knitting:

Yes, it's a crappy photo. I'll try and post something more representative tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dyed and Gone to Heaven

Remember that recycled yarn that I reclaimed from the aran sweater a few weeks ago? Well, I finally finished dyeing all the hanks this weekend. For the last two hanks, I tried a technique that Anne described to me. I wound the yarn into hanks and soaked it in some warm water. I put a pot of water on the stove and turned the heat to "low." While the water was heating, I mixed up three packets of Berry Blue Kool-Aid in some very hot water and set it aside. Then I mixed three packets of Cherry Kool-Aid in some hot water and set it aside, too.

When the water in my pot was sufficiently hot (but not boiling), I poured the two Kool Aid mixtures into the pot, one at a time. I swirled them around, but I did not mix them thoroughly. Instead, I just threw the wet yarn into the pot and gently moved it around in the murky mixture.

What happened? Well, see for yourself:

Because the water contained varying shades of purple-blue dye, the yarn does also.

Here's what it looks like knit up:

I am really liking this! Thanks for the tips, Anne.


So, is anyone coming to Utah for SOAR next week?????

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