Friday, December 30, 2005

Exciting, Action Photos

I received several comments yesterday asking various questions about my blocking wires. Shara. Marie, and Peg wanted to see the wires "in use" so I took a couple of action photos:

And here's Mimi again; completely transfixed by the excitement of the blocking in action.

[I've come to realize that it's not my amazing knitting that interests her, but the wires themselves. She positively freaked when I slid them out from sides of the scarf. And once I put them back in the bag, she couldn't stop herself from batting at them.]

I removed the scarf shortly after I took the photos and I'm completely floored at how perfect it came out. Carole, I hereby order you to go buy a set immediately. How did I ever live without them????

Ina wanted to know where I got them. I bought my set from my LYS, but I'm sure you can buy them online. I did a quick search and found them at this site.

Finally, Chris asked for more information on the "right of first refusal" gift exchange. Basically, you buy your spouse a gift that you really want and your spouse has the option to keep it or reject it. If he rejects it, ownership reverts back to you. It's just legalese for what is essentially buying a gift for yourself. I rejected the golf club he gave me and he rejected the blocking wires. Get it.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Toy

Well, thankfully DH didn't exercise his right of first refusal over the gift I bought him. So it reverted back to me and I'm pretty dang happy about that. Now I have a new toy to play with: a set of blocking wires.

I'm dying to try them out and here are my first two victims:

Both of these were finished weeks ago but I never had a chance to bring them to my LYS to be blocked. Now I can give it a go myself.

As soon as I set them out on the floor to take a photo, Mimi came running over, thinking she could make a little cat bed out of them.

She was a bit annoyed when I wisked them away. Does your cat love to lie down on your knitted items as much as mine?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

I finished the small felted tote with plenty of time to spare and gave it to my friend last night. She loved it and perched it on top of the table next to her plate as she ate her dinner. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo before I wrapped it, but it came out really cute. The brown just barely showed on the bottom and I dried it over a nearly square box so the base was square but the top was more flat.

Every year my friend brings me a plant from my favorite local nursery and this year was no exception. Last years' hydrangea is now in my front yard and I'm hoping it blooms in the spring. This year, she brought a fabulous Phalaenopsis orchard:

Hmmmm . . . I can't help but think that I got the better of that gift exchange.

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Friday, December 23, 2005


I finished knitting the felted bag last night. All that's left is closing the bottom and then the felting. I figure I can felt it tonight while I bake more biscotti.

I decided to knit just the very bottom in brown and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. DH suggested olive green, which would have been nice, too.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend. I probably won't be posting again until Monday or Tuesday. Although, if DH breaks with precedent and exercises his right of first refusal over his gift, I'll be looking for sympathy on Sunday.

Knit on!

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Down to the Wire

Last night, I belatedly decided to knit a gift for a friend instead of buying one. I settled on a free felted bag pattern at Hello Yarn.
Eliza knit one up and brought it to Stitch 'n Bitch last week. It was adorable and I really think my friend will like it. I dug two skeins of Patons Wool Classic out of the stash and knit up the first skein.

The pattern says I'll need 200 yards of bulky weight yarn; I have 400 yards of worsted weight and I've doubled it up. You begin decreasing for the bottom when the sides are 16 inches tall. But I've used 200 yards just to knit 8 inches. So, I assume I'll run out of yarn. Drat. I'm not too concerned about finishing this tomorrow, since I won't see my friend until my Hanukkah party on Monday night, so I have plenty of time to purchase a third skein. But I doubt that I'll be able to match this dye lot since I bought this yarn several months ago. Then again, maybe a black or brown bottom would look nice.

Don't Miss This

If you're still packaging up presents, have you seen these cute holiday gift tags for hand-knit items? They're the perfect size for socks or a small scarf.

And if you're feeling stressed today, just remember. There was more daylight today than there was yesterday! Woo Hoo!!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I can see from the upswing in vistors to my site from Google searches such as "free knit hat pattern" and "one hour knit scarf" and, my personal favorite, "knit fast" that there are many of you scrambling to finish up some holiday knitting. Good luck.

I got a little prezzie in the mail yesterday from the incomparable Beth.

Move over bunny crack and make room for worm/goat crack:

Yes, it's a large ball of silk/cashmere roving in the most wonderful taupe color. Isn't it fabulous! Look at the sheen. Yummy! Even DS (a/k/a Teenage Rebel Without a Cause) had a hard time taking his hand out of the bag. I've never spun silk before, but I intend to read up on it before I dig into this ball. I don't care what you say, Beth, I'm not going to ruin a single fraction of an ounce of this stuff.

Beth also send an extremely large bag of "mystery fiber" that she deemed a white elephant gift. Oh contraire, Beth. You knew I'd have to spin up a bit of it, didn't you! And while I agree completely with Beth that it looks a bit like a skunk pelt or Cruela DeVille's hair in the bag:

It is absolutely wonderful spun up:

The beautiful chocolate brown mixed with the rich black is just spectacular. And the fiber itself is wonderful; no VM and very nice crimp.

Gloves? Socks? What do you think?

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Monday, December 19, 2005

My Weekend - A Pictorial Essay



Sunday A.M.

Sunday P.M.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Felted Gift Bag Variation

My second felted gift bag is felted and dry. The Bernat Boa held up really well in the wash. However, little bits of fiber from the lighter colored wool managed to entangle themselves in the eyelashes. I picked them out as best I could after I took the photo.

Margene made a bag last weekend and posted a photo on her blog the other day. But as of this morning, I can't seem to view any of her posts from this week. How odd. Is Typepad down? She used a ribbon for the tie instead of a twisted cord. It's very cute; especially after she stuffed it with candy and knitterly goodies.

Oh, and before I forget. If you have some free time this weekend (and who doesn't have lots of spare time in the week before Christmas), Laura's having a contest on her blog. You have to guess the contents of a Christmas present she received from a friend. I have no clue so I'll probably guess something outrageous, but maybe you'll be able to identify it immediately.

And thanks for all the nice comments about my neighbor. You were all sweet to take the time to leave them.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Memories of My Knitting Idol

All of you probably have a knitting idol. Perhaps it’s the person who taught you to knit or a designer from whose patterns you continually learn new and interesting techniques. My knitting idol is my next-door neighbor, Maria.

When we moved to Salt Lake City almost two decades ago, Maria and her husband were the first to welcome us to the neighborhood. ?I discovered she was a knitter soon after my son was born. She appeared on my doorstep one afternoon with a beautifully wrapped present containing the most perfectly knitted baby sweater I’d ever seen. It was knit at an extremely fine gauge and the workmanship was flawless. She routinely entered items in the State Fair and always walked away with the blue ribbon. Being of Norwegian descent, she most loved to knit Norwegian-style sweaters. Her expert knitting skills were also well-recognized by everyone in the neighborhood and she was generous with her knitting. Nearly every year, she donated a hand knit baby sweater to at least one church auction and each fetched at least four times the amount of any other hand knit item.

My favorite knitting memory of Maria involves sock yarn, of course. One year, a LYS that I knew she didn’t frequent much began stocking some unique self-patterning sock yarn and providing a one-skein hat pattern that used the yarn. I bought several skeins and brought one, together with the hat pattern, to Maria’s house, thinking she’d be interested in knitting one for her granddaughter. In hindsight, she looked at me a bit quizzically when I handed it to her, but she accepted it graciously and with a big smile. The next afternoon, my telephone rang and it was Maria. "I finished that hat you asked me to knit," she said without skipping a beat. After a bit of hurried explaining on my part, we both laughed over the miscommunication. Each Christmas after that, my daughter was the recipient of a sock-yarn hat; and I’m sure Maria laughed as she knit each one.

Maria, my knitting idol, died last Tuesday after a long battle with cancer and was buried yesterday. I wore my Hyrna Herborgar shawl to her funeral because it was the last knitted thing I showed her. She sat in her chair holding the shawl, caressing the soft alpaca yarn with a small smile on her face.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Yarn Crawl

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining several other Salt Lake knitters (Eliza, Margene, Gwen, Katherine, and Teri) for lunch and yarn shopping. The odyssey began at The Wool Cabin. They were hosting a customer appreciation day and all purchases were discounted by ten percent.

I picked up some Tahki Dream yarn to make the gloves from the new Knitter's Magazine. This yarn reminds me a lot of the old, discontinued SensuWool yarn that Berocco used to make.

I also got a skein of K1C2's Paintbox yarn just to try it out. Has anyone tried the Paintbox yarn?? It's similar to Noro Kureyon, though it seems a bit more processed and not quite as scratchy.

If you hop over to Teri's blog, she has a more detailed narrative of our yarn crawl (and TJ Maxx excursion).

Felted Gift Bags

Shelley sent me a photo of the felted gift bag she made from the pattern I posted last week. If you check her blog, you can see the photo and some information about the yarn she used. In her email, she made some great suggestions for variations to the pattern, a couple of which I had already contemplated. I loved her idea for needlefelting a monogram on the side of the bag or adding beads to the bag. How clever.
I made another on Saturday but haven't felted it yet.

This one is knit from small bits of leftover tapestry wool. Each little hank only had 12.5 yards, so I tied them all together and wound them into a center-pull ball.

Because I had such a small amount of yarn, I only cast on 36 stitches (instead of 48). I carried a strand of Bernat Boa together with the wool on the cast-on round and the first purl round. I plan to felt it tonight so time will tell how the eyelash yarn holds up in the wash.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Finishing the Gift Bag

So, how did the felting go?

Once your gift bag is dry, remove whatever you inserted into it to shape it. Pull out the cotton waste yarn and thread the twisted cord drawstring through the eyelets.

Hopefully your bag looks like this:

That's it!

Don't Leave Yet!

I have two more top-down hats to share. The first is one I knit from a skein of Rowan Calmer. For this one, I did not use Emily Ocker's cast on because I wanted to keep the little hole at the top:

The star pattern I used for the top is an adaptation of a doily pattern I found in an old pattern booklet. I knit the sides plain and then used the I-cord bind off.

The second, and far more spectacular hat, was knit by Ann in Canada. I received this email from Ann the other day and she's allowed me to share it with you:

On Sunday the Knitting Goddesses bopped me over the head and told me
to knit your no-gauge hat. Fine - my son and I are having a very frugal holiday season so I decided to knit this for him. Fine - grabbed a
nice wool yarn and appropriate needles. I had originally meant this to be for my son. The Knitting Goddesses thought otherwise. The knit stitch I chose for the body of the hat did not work out well - spread like mad. Ripped it all out. Second go at this hat had to be ripped out as well. Finally it dawned on me this hat was meant for me so I went nuts. After a couple fixable errors I had a hat I really liked. I
washed it. It expanded after washing. Not to fret - this is real wool - it can shrink. I have worked hard on this now many hours plus I wrecked my back by sitting in a chair I know I ought to never sit in. The problem is I knit it fairly densely since it was to be a hat. Had I meant it to be felted from the inception of this project I would have used different needles and a different stitch count. I just needed it a bit smaller, not tons smaller. If pressed I would have admitted I
could have worn it the way it was after the first wash but Ms. Persnickety wasn't going for that notion.

Right now I think it is fine. Frankly I do not have the hours to
stand around as the thing bounces around in the washing machine. It is hung upside down and is dripping into a dishpan. The cats Bert and Simon
are rapt - where are these wonderfully noisy drips of water coming from?
How can this be? I suspect this will amuse them for at least half an hour before Simon gets bored. Perhaps later on today I may throw it into the dryer for a test trip.

And what does this wonder look like? My son was fascinated and horrified at the same time. It has a band of wild worm-like bits around the top edge - Lambs Tails in two different lengths in three differing rows. The yarn is a marl - one strand of dark red and one strand of black plied together. The worms, before they were washed, projected madly at all sorts of angles. They got limp when washed but now that they are partially felted they are recovering their independence. This is why I am letting it drip dry upside down - to encourage the worms to be free and do their own thing. I suspect one cannot totally tame a worm. I suspect this is the sort of hats out-of-touch adults would think a kid or teen would love. Wrong - very wrong. Only tiny babies who do not know any better and are unable to form opinions about style or adults who don't give a damn would wear this hat. I can't wait to wear it outside but that will be a couple days yet depending on my level of persnicketiness as to how dry this really must be before venturing into freezing weather.

Many thanks,

Well, of course I immediately wanted to see a photo of this hat and Ann didn't disappoint. Here's one of the photos she sent me:

How fun is that hat!!!!

Here's a little more information from Ann on how she knit it:

I think the yarn might be Briggs and Little - I was given quite a bit
of it but there were no bands and it is elderly. I started off with a
three stitch I-cord before expanding to six stitches. This little bit
looked silly ( and this from the woman who knit worms in cold blood! )
so at finishing time i bent it over and sewed it down to form a tidy
little nub. Do have to admit to changing needles sizes three time -
once for the I-cord, Once for the first four or five rounds and then to
a better size for the yarn, blissfully unaware of how it would enlarge
when it hit the water.

I put the worms in a half drop repeat pattern - staggered in the three
worm rows BUT only in the middle worm row I knit smaller worms directly
under their bigger friends to balance the full sized worms - these do
not show really well in the photos.

I challenge anyone to top this!

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Step #4 - Time to Felt

Are you anxious to felt your gift bag? Well, there's just one thing you should do before you pop it in the washing machine.

Take a strand of worsted weight cotton yarn and thread it through the eyelets at the top of the bag. I used Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton. Tie the ends of the cotton yarn so they can't come undone, but don't pull it tight or cinch it.

OK, now you can felt. The cotton yarn will keep the eyelets open during the felting process.

After the bag is felted, you need to shape it over an appropriate-sized object. I used a container of bread crumbs that I covered with a plastic bag. Make sure you use something cylindrical with a flat bottom. It should look like this:

While you're waiting for it to dry, you should make the twisted cord for the drawstring. There are excellent instructions here on how to make a twisted cord.

Come back tomorrow and I'll show you a photo of my finished bag. Plus, I have photos of two more top-down hats. One was knit by Ann, a neighbor to the North, and it's to die for!

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Step #3

Well, my blog feed is apparently all messed up, but I'm plowing ahead with my felted gift bag instructions undaunted.

You should be finished knitting the sides of the bag. Today I'll give you the instructions for the bottom.

Repeat the two decrease rounds, i.e., decrease 8 stitches evenly spaced and then knit 1 rnd plain, until 8 stitches remain.

Break the yarn leaving a tail. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and draw the yarn through all 8 stitches. Pull them tight to close the hole. Nancy Bush calls this the "heart of a blossom" closure.

Your bag should look like this:

I've inserted mine into a container of oatmeal for the photo.

Don't felt it yet! There's a little trick I'll show you tomorrow.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Step #2

OK, are you still with me on the felted gift bag project? You should have the cast on complete and have knit about an inch of stockinette stitch below the cast-on edge.

If you knit the sides in plain stockinette stitch, your bag should look like this when you're finished with step #2:

Got it? Just two more steps and you'll be finished.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Felted Gift Bag - Step #1

OK, have you gathered your yarn and needles for the next seriatim pattern--a small felted gift bag? Well, then, let's get clacking.

I knit my gift bag with a single strand of worsted weight yarn because I did not want the finished fabric to be too dense. The bag has to be flexible. So, my instructions assume that you, also, are knitting the body of the bag with just one strand.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Seriatim Series

Jo (who made a couple of top-down hats) has convinced me to do a second seriatim pattern next week. This one will be a small felted gift bag. So search through your stash this weekend for the following materials:

1. a 100g skein of worsted-weight wool that felts easily
2. a set of 6.5mm (U.S. 10.5) double-pointed needles (6mm or 8mm needles will work just as well)

Come back on Monday and we'll get started. If there's enough interest, I may continue doing these seriatim patterns every couple weeks or so. Interested???

Also, I finally uploaded a photo of Sue's hat:

Isn't it adorable. She used Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Chunky yarn and worked the ear flaps with short rows. Clever!
Jessica made a hat, too (from some beautiful handspun), and is still laboring over one from sock-weight yarn. That's dedication.

But, best of all, I got an email from Betsy last night. She took all of my top-down hat posts and combined them into one, easy-to-read pattern. I converted it to a .pdf file and posted a link to it on my sidebar.
See it?
Now you can print out the pattern and make a hat whenever you want. How about a huge shout out to Betsy. Thanks!

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Top-Down Hats

More knitters wrote me with either photos or links to the top-down hats they knit from my pattern. And I knit another, too! Since I’m the queen of my blog, I’ll show mine first:

I used one skein of Moda Dea Cartwheel, which is 100% wool, but ran out before the sides were as long as I needed. So I finished the bottom edge in garter stitch with some Moda Dea Swirl. Since the gauges of the two yarns are not the same, I decreased quite a few stitches when I switched yarns. I used the alternative instructions for the top shaping, i.e., I increased by 8 stitches every other round. And don't forget that garter stitch in the round is worked as knit 1 round, purl 1 round.

Sue sent me a photo of the hat she knit but, unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to upload it to Flickr. I'll try and do that this weekend because it was really spectacular.

Kathy and Kristin left links to their hats. So go have a look.

Gift Scarf #2

After knitting the scarf I blogged about the other day, I had nearly a full skein left of the Patons Divine and Mode Dea Eden yarns. I used the leftovers to make the second gift scarf:

This one is a twisted drop stitch pattern that I knit on the bias. And I used the Eden yarn to knit a small ruffle on each end.

DD gave it her seal of approval.


I recently finished spinning some of the roving I bought at the SOAR market. This was 50% wool and 50% mohair in a colorway the dyer called “Magenta.” I spun the first 3 ounces fairly fine. But, I didn't enjoy the process (or the roving) so I sped things up by spinning the next 3 ounces much thicker:

I washed both to set the twist and I swear the water in my white sink was so dark red that you couldn’t see the bottom of the basin. Yikes. I’m not quite as enamored with the color now since the finished yarn has a slight pink cast to it.

Still not sure what I’ll use this for, but I’m open to suggestions. I only have 100 yards of the thicker version.

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