Monday, December 31, 2007

Don't Forget! I Need Lacy Wedding Ideas!

This post is going to sit at the top of the blog for a while, so I can implore, wheedle, cajole and beg my readers to keep my need for input into lacy wedding outfit ideas in mind while browsing the Internets. This blog post has the details and the collection of suggestions from readers, as well as an ongoing list of things I have run across.

I'm just asking you to keep an eye out for something that would look nice on a short, medium-weight currently red-headed woman who will be 50 at her wedding (I hate to admit that). I was thinking of wearing a lacy cardigan or jacket over a silk dress (the dress will be picked to go with the lace item). I would consider a shrug or maybe a shawl. The wedding will either be in the spring or the fall, and as far as we know will be outdoors (I would not survive an outdoor wedding in Texas).* So think not-too-hot, not-too-cold.

If you see anything on the web or Ravelry, post a comment on this post or The original blog post and I will be grateful! Thanks!

*Lee gets a vote in all these decisions, so I don't know exactly what we are doing until we get around to deciding.

Still Here, with Shag!

Shag Scarf
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Happy New Year tomorrow! Here I am in my funky glasses celebrating with a very celebratory completed Shag scarf. And that's it arranged like a lovely bouquet on the left. I liked it so much I think I will do another one in leftover Noro Kujaku. The scarf looks funny while you are making it, but as you can see, it's cute when worn! And it is warm--I wore it on a long hike across Lee's dad's farm and it was very helpful.

Yesterday we drove to Lee's dad's farm (as referred to above), and I got to give him the house socks I made for him. He was SO pleased. He put on the blue ones and did not take them off. They looked great. He said they made his feet feel springy and warm. It is so wonderful to give a gift that is so well appreciated. I finished the shag scarf while we watched football, and started another one, the Brooklyn Tweed striped one, just for fun. I'm not sure why I am on a scarf kick, but it could be worse!

Here's the link to the PDF of the Shag pattern, again, in case you want to run off and make one:

Of course, the cardigan is moving along, but it is not very exciting to show photos of pieces of a stockinette item made in pieces. They are all curled up and icky looking, though they feel GOOD. I finished the left front and am moving along on the right front now. It's a pleasure to work with the Ultra Alpaca, and it makes me happy to see Lee eagerly anticipating wearing it.

More tomorrow I hope!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Making Progress

Yes, these are the same socks as yesterday, just a better photo. You can see both the side and front view on this one. Since they are in the process of being worn and I hope worn a lot, I thought I should memorialize them now!!

I made good progress yesterday in knitting, and managed to finish the acres and acres of stockinette that constitutes the back of the cardigan, plus two pocket liners. It's off to knit the fronts now!

It probably was not brilliant of me to go to the LYS while they are having their inventory reduction sale...hard to resist getting yarn! But I didn't get too much. I just got two skeins of Noro Iroha in black to use with all my leftover Kureyon or Silk Garden (can't decide) for one of those extra-popular Brooklyn Tweed Noro scarves. Why? I need a plain ole workaday scarf and only have fancy ones and that big one with the pattern in the sidebar (which did keep cold wind off me yesterday!). I also got three balls of Mili Colori, which is a single ply random-striping yarn I just love to look at, to make a second Shag scarf as a gift for someone. I just enjoy doing it! All that was less than $30, so not too bad.

I needed to see other humans anyway, so it was nice to hang out with the friendly yarn shop patrons and chat a while. Mostly I bragged about my son's Christmas gift, which was a really touching plaque thanking me for being a good mom to him...this from the easiest child to parent on the face of the earth--but I sure appreciated it.

Not much knitting in the evening, because we went to see Juno, an excellent movie that was perfect for a family with teens. The vocabulary was dead on accurate--and the subject matter really good.

That's it for today. I hope to have some cardigan photos tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gifts Received and Revealed

Yay, I can finally show you the socks I made for my fiance for Christmas (though I am sure he saw them in my knitting bag). I call them the Slightly Interesting School Color Socks on Ravelry, because they are the colors of St. Edward's University, and I just couldn't knit them plain, so I made them slant in the center. What looks like a seam down the side is where I increased every other row.

On the second picture you can see that I did a centered double decrease (my new fave stitch) in the middle, which makes a sort of strange, yet pleasing effect. The socks have a solid blue cuff because I was worried that I would not be able to get full socks out of the skein. I probably could have, but I like the cuff.

There's a string showing, because I didn't weave in the top end--I wanted to be sure Lee was OK with the length, so I thought I might be needing to take off the cuff and add some of the remaining body yarn to lengthen them. HE liked them as is. The yarn is Hill Country Yarns Instant Gratification Sock Yarn, which is sport or DK weight. I knit the socks at 55 stitches around, which yes, is a weird number. Lee liked the fit (a little tight). I was happy that I figured out how to make my favorite toe-up flapped heel with 25 stitches. Go me. And the short rows look marvy.

My other gifts were all received with great gusto. My older son wants the Half Pipe hat blocked a bit, because the top seems a little pointy. Lucha Libre went over extremely well, as one can see. And all the relatives I sent gifts to in North Carolina raved about them as well. All in all, my holiday knitting was a success. Maybe I will do more next year!

I am into the third ball of blue Ultra Alpaca on Lee's cardigan, and I held it up to him--what a relief that the width seems good and he liked how long it was from armhole down. I hope to finish the back today. It is a LOT of knitting, but I only have a couple more inches of back, which goes faster after the armhole decreases. Every so often I knit another unit onto the Shag Scarf. It's a reward!

Happy knitting to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Weekend Knitting

Shag scarf
Originally uploaded by sunasak
While patiently working away on Lee's cardigan, I just could not HELP myself from starting this little scarf. I love the yarn and the pattern is such a hoot! You build triangles that rise from the scarf base in a happy 3D way, and it's especially fun the way the yarn changes colors. I highly recommend this project for fun knitting and a good gift (except mine is for me!). This is the Shag scarf from Knitting New Scarves, a book with some weird looking items, but lots of fun things to do (other bloggers have made much harder items from the book, but this one is fine with me! [Edited to include a link to the FREE version of the pattern, so you can go knit one now]

I'm still going to work on the cardigan, plug away on Juno Regina when I get tired of stockinette, and work on my sock when I need some tiny knitting to work on. Lots of fun to distract me from interviews!

Happy holiday knitting!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Took a Road Trip

Yesterday, after the requisite interviews (thankfully, just phone ones so I wasn't too wiped out), Jody and I went on a pilgrimage to two local yarn shops that I don't get to often.

First we went to the Knitting Nest, which neither of us had ever been to. That's because it is as far in southeast Austin as I am in northwest Austin, and I'd never had the time to check it out. It's only been open a few months. I saw all sorts of places in south-est Austin that I had never seen before, including a huge shopping center over where Lilith Fair was once upon a time. We really enjoyed the shop--what a cute little building it's in, and what nice decor they have going!

Mostly I appreciated how the owner has selected yarn lines that complement the other shops in town, rather than competing with them. I got to touch many lovely things I'd never touched before, and that's what I want in a new yarn shop--fun new yarn experiences. The Peace Fleece and O-Wool were really lovely. The picture shows one of the yarns I picked up--Bo Peep's Not Just for Socks Yarn in Indian Corn, from Farmhouse Yarns. I'd never seen it anywhere else. I think it wants to be a scarf. I also got Soxx Appeal yarn with elastic in it and a type of Online Supersocke that my LYS doesn't have yet--Hiking, which was really interesting in the sample that was knit up.

Jody and I had a very nice conversation there, ran into someone else we knew (of course), and were glad we'd made the trip. I hope to get down there more regularly--maybe to one of the Knit Nights or whatever they have.

After a delicious lunch we hiked all the way up Congress Avenue to Hill Country Weavers, where we got to touch some new yarn with camel in it that felt divine, and had nice colors. There were some real doozies of new and different yarns there. I did get one skein of Araucania sock yarn, because I'd never seen that in person before. Then I found the perfect fairly inexpensive stuff to make the Shag scarf from Knitting New Scarves, which I have decided I must do. It's Nashua Wooly Stripes, which I think would make that pattern really festive.

Whew, that was a lot of yarn fun, and I felt bad about spending money on yarn, but it shows how optimistic I must be on the job front, huh.

Today I got a lot done on Lee's cardigan at "my" LYS, where I didn't have any students but helped some other folks--I got over halfway up the boring expanse of the back. Now I may just give that scarf a whirl before going back to the cardigan. Wee.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brush with Fame!

Hey, go visit the Mason-Dixon knitting blog and read the December 19 post. I was sleepily reading along, relishing not having to go to work and no interview until the afternoon. Then, I spotted something odd. I said to myself, "Wow, that woman in that picture sure looks a lot like a friend of mine." Then WHOA, I realized that Katie is in New York City and that IS her in the picture! She helped sew up their big blanket! That is a fun vacation activity!!! Of course, they said she was from "Houston" but I know she is from AUSTIN. What a nice surprise.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lucha Liberated!

EEK! Do not be afraid! It's jut me, modeling the completed Lucha Libre ski mask/balaclava/Mexican wrestling mask. I hope Beccano likes it! I think I look pretty funny in it. I guess it would make an easy Halloween costume, plus, if I am ever in a frigid climate, I could borrow it.

I kept switching back and forth with how I did the green parts. Some stranding, some little bits of yarn for more classic intarsia. In any case, here it is. Yvonne, don't do this as your first intarsia project--it might drive you crazy!

But, I know my boy will love it and that's what counts. One more holiday gift to finish (today) and I will be done. I can't post a picture of that one, since the recipient reads the blog.

Hi to everyone doing fun things (Katie!) and to those of you frantically dealing with holidays and relatives. I am frantically interviewing, but that is mostly fun. I truly appreciate everyone's support and vibes!

Off to another fun day at the yarn shop, where I am going to start a new project, a cardigan for Lee. In Ultra Alpaca. HA! That one won't be torture, will it??? Yum!

Bathtime Blossoms for the Holidays

Bathtime Blossoms
Originally uploaded by sunasak
This was my weekend knitting project. I realized there was a relative who needed something, and I knew that this would be a good choice--Bathtime Blossoms, by Evelyn Clark, a Fiber Trends pattern. There are three variants, but the "Blossom" one is my favorite. I also made the matching soap sack, and put a lovely bar of soap inside it. This knits up quickly--it was done over a weekend that included a lot of time shopping in scenic Fredericksburg, Texas, a visit to a friend who makes hand-made outdoor furniture near Kerrville, and a long hike around the incredibly beautiful Enchanted Rock. So, not all that much knitting time!

Yeah, I had a GREAT weekend with my sweet man Lee, buoyed by knowing I had job interviews all lined up. Amazing how that helps. If you want to see more of the trip photos, click the Flickr gallery link in the left column. You might have to go through a couple of others, but they will be the 50+ ones of interesting buildings and rocks after that. Really pretty rocks.

Keep thinking of me. The place I phone interviewed at yesterday wants me back today for in-person, and the place where I met Lee wants me in tomorrow for an interview for a great job at great pay. I haven't even had time to look for NEW jobs this week!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lucha Libre-ing along

I've been out of town all weekend, but thought I would share my progress on Lucha Libre as of Friday. Scary looking, isn't it? And in the close-up you can see decorative pug hairs on it, too.

Because of all the little balls of yarn, I did not take this project with me over the weekend. But, I am thinking I'll have it done in the next day or two. There are just a few more green rows, and after that, it's smooth sailing.

I still wonder why this could not have been done in the round. People do intarsia in the round! Or so I am told. Beccano is quite pleased with the progress, of course. I am feeling a bit under the weather (after a lovely trip to Fredericksburg, Texas and the amazing Enchanted Rock) so I'm not really up to thinking much about knitting right now...but, I did want to share with my knitting blog readers that on Friday, 5 different job possibilities emerged out of nowhere! I have interviews on Monday and Tuesday, and think I will have at least two, perhaps three more. From famine to feast!

Tomorrow I'll show you what I made over the weekend. It's what I hope is the last Christmas knitting I will have to do!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Knitting Dorkiness

It's true, I am not really fond of intarsia. All that tangling and skeining. I did a lot of untangling as I worked on the Lucha Libre ski mask/balaclava thing last night. It's a good thing I love Beccano and know he will love it, because otherwise I'd give up due to lack of fun. I also seem incapable of following a chart accurately. But, it still looks like a Lucha Libre mask, and it's up to the middle of the nose. I think it will be cute, in any case, though I'd prefer to have done it in the round. Or maybe with duplicate stitch. Not really. I'm just whining.

I'll have plenty of time to knit this weekend as Lee and I go on a little field trip to Fredricksburg, just to get out of town, then all next week I will knit away, mostly at the LYS hoping for customers for knitting classes. I am going to try posting a few on Craigslist to see if that works. No one else is doing that locally, though the other yarn shops have done great jobs with email lists, blogs, announcements on the radio, Ravelry lists and such. It's good practice for all those online community jobs I have been applying for, anyhow.

I have done a bit on my Garden Path socks, when I get tired of intarsia, plus a gift I am working on. So, soon there will be finished object photos to share again!

I wish you all the best in your last-minute holiday knitting, if you are still at it like I am!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Half Pipe Hat FO

Half Pipe Hat
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here is the Half Pipe Hat from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch, on the head of Beccano. It will show up better if you look at the picture link. On Flickr there is one of it on my head, which shows the hat better but it an ugly photo.

The hat is a bit small on Beccano, but as he points out, he has a very big head. I think it will be OK on Tuba Boy. It was a pain sewing in the brim (it is plastic needlepoint canvas), but it is an interesting looking hat once it's done. I only used a wee bit of the second skein of yarn, so I think I may try to make some wrist warmers or something out of the rest of it. Such nice yarn.

I admit I didn't graft the top like the instructions said, and instead used three-needle bind off. Really, I WAS going to graft, but I had left the book with the excellent grafting chart that even I, "Suna the Grafting Challenged," could understand at home. And by the way, the illustration that finally clicked to me where I was messing up with grafting is in the new Best of Interweave Knits book. That book is worth buying for the little Ann Budd tutorials in it. They are great ways to up your Mad Knitting Skillz, as the kids would say.

Next I am going to make the Lucha Libre balaclava out of the same Stitch 'n Bitch book, for Beccano, who really likes to wear masks and odd headgear. It will be black with lime green trip. How special. We'll see if I am as skillful with intarsia techniques as I used to be, though really there isn't too much in this. Of course, intarasia in the round can be a pain, but, I am a good weaver-in of yarn ends! I have my trusty tools, so I can do it!

I am glad I got that Stitch 'n Bitch book. For some reason, the original one didn't do much for me. I really didn't like any of the patterns (I know, this will shock and upset many of you) and didn't find the instructions that helpful, either. I realize I am not that book's target audience (too skilled and too old--I just don't wear Junior fashions and haven't since the early 80s). However, many excellent newer knitters I know learned from Stitch 'n Bitch, and I know it had a lot to do with the recent upsurge in knitters and knitting, so I think it is a fine and dandy book, even if it isn't appealing to me, personally.

Reflecting a bit, I think part of it is my issue with wearing the same pattern everyone else on earth is wearing--I saw SO many of the same things on people when that book first came out! I guess I want to be the only one wearing my thing in any crowd (still, I did make those Monkey Socks, didn't I? But no clapotis, no way and never a My So Called Scarf or whatever that other new sensation is).

Hey, really, though. As long as your knitting away and enjoying yourself, who am I to say what to knit? And some people like to be one of the "in" crowd, which is why so many join KALs even when they don't really need help with a project. Oops, I did two KALs recently, but smaller ones. I really, really am glad so many people have started knitting and crocheting, and hope to see many of them continue throughout their whole lives. I'm certainly not going to stop. I kept going through the acrylic years, didn't I?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Surprise: I love a thick yarn

Cascade 128 7619
Originally uploaded by sunasak
It surprises me, that's for sure. I am truly LOVING knitting with this Cascade 128 Tweed. It is bulky weight, but perfect for the hat I am knitting from it (Half Pipe Hat from Son of Stich 'n Bitch). It looks so manly and rugged in the ribbing part of the hat, and warm and thick in the top part. I will be sad to finish (which should happen today, or would if I didn't have to sing a lot this evening). I keep thinking this would make a wonderful, warm waistcoat kinda vest to wear over a white shirt. Wow, me liking a big yarn. The last one I liked was the Schaeffer Elaine I made a shrug out of (which I am wearing today.)

The yarn's making my pale wooden needle a little gray (all my other size 3s were in use), but otherwise, it's just wonderful stuff. Very comforting. I can't wait to show you all a picture of it!

That's it for me--I am knitting as much as I can, when the family circumstances let me, and not doing much else!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Suna's New Pathway

Here's the product of my weekend's knitting. I made three pairs of socks using techniques from New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi. I was informed on Friday that there was going to be a baby shower for a couple in my choir, and since I can't contribute monetarily to a gift, I figured I'd make socks. And why not learn something at the same time?

There isn't quite as much page turning and number calculating in the baby socks as there is in the larger ones, so I had a pretty fun time. The first ones I made are Little Sky, the white spotted ones, which I used worsted weight yarn I'd dyed with Kool Aid last year. The yarn sure looks cute. The second ones are the pink Coriolis ones. I do want to make some Coriolis socks, so at some point I'll break down and resign myself to knitting a whole pair of socks with a book at my side. The blue-ish socks are Charlie's Wiggle Socks. They are way cuter than the photo in the book, and were probably the most fun to make. I tried to not think of umbilical cords while making the cables (and watching the movie Shaolin Soccer, what a combo). Not sure why Cat had to put THAT image in my head. I'm glad I had a reason to knit the practice socks. Now I am ready for some new pathways in adult size socks!

It helped a lot to get all the knitting I wanted to get done accomplished. I felt in control of something in my life! I also got more done on the Juno Regina--it's probably halfway done by now. Plus, I started the Half Pipe Hat out of Son of Stitch 'n Bitch for Tuba Boy. I love the yarn I chose, Cascade 128. It is a very thick tweedy yarn, black with flecks. I thought it would give the right gauge, since the pattern called for two skeins of camel yarn, but it's even thicker than two skeins of camel, so I had to go way down in needle size to get gauge (size 3, where the original calls for 9). But, it's not too tight or anything--fits his head, and he seemed really happy with the progress so far. I'd like a hat out of that yarn, myself. I can't wait to put in the little brim! This will be a quick and pleasant knit. Aah.

Thanks for looking at all the patterns I posted! I have a few more, then will go more slowly and add them as I make them. A couple of things people have asked for patterns for I just can't do--some of my sweaters and socks are too "improvised," so I can't write them down.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Very Warm Linen Stitch Scarf with Bobble Fringe

Linen Stitch Scarf
Originally uploaded by sunasak

This scarf hung in my local yarn store for a long time, and I sold copies of the pattern. I've decided to share it, instead, so please enjoy. As always, let me know in the comments if you find any mistakes or have any questions.

Materials: Diakeito Diadomina 50% wool, 21% mohair, 29% nylon yarn, 6 40 gram balls.

Needles: circular or double pointed needles, size 7 OR size to get gauge and appropriate for how you like to knit in the round. 5 double pointed needles for traditional knitting in the round, or two 24” circulars for two circular method, or one 47” or larger circular for Magic Loop.

Gauge: 25 stitches = 4 inches (6.25 stitches per inch)

Construction Notes: Scarf is knit predominantly in the round using linen stitch. When the main body of the scarf is complete, you close the ends up to make a two-layer rectangle, then knit a simple back-and-forth border with really fun, yet easy, bobbled fringe that makes for lots of swingy fun when worn. The yarn is a beautiful self-striping mohair blend that seems to never repeat itself—mesmerizing!

Directions: Cast on 68 stitches using your favorite provisional cast on. (Later, you will pick up the ends of these stitches for the border.) Divide the stitches into quarters (17 stitches per needle) if using 5 double pointed needles. Divide in half if using two circulars or the magic loop. If using one smaller circular needle, place a marker for the beginning of rounds.

Start linen stitch pattern:

Row 1: Slip 1, K to halfway; Slip 1, K to end of round
Row 2: K1, *slip1, slip 1 with yarn in front,* repeat to halfway; K1, *slip1, slip 1 with yarn in front,* repeat to end of round
Row 3: repeat row 1
Row 4: K1, *slip 1 with yarn in front, K1* repeat to halfway; K1, *slip 1 with yarn in front, K1* repeat to end of round

Repeat rounds 1-4 until scarf is approximately the height of the intended owner—that makes it fall to their hips when draped around the neck. Or knit to desired length, making sure you have at least half a ball of yarn left for the borders. The slip stitches at the beginning and halfway marks will make a natural folding place, like a fake seam down the sides of the scarf.

Border A: You will need three needles to close off the scarf ends, two to hold the stitches and one to knit them with. Align each half of the stitches (front and back of scarf) in parallel (if you were using 5 needles, but half on each of two needles, and use a third to knit). Knit across, knitting one stitch from each needle each time. You will go from 68 parallel stitches to 34 stitches.

Knit 5 more rows in garter stitch for border.

Start Fun Bobbled Fringe: Cast on 19 (a cabled cast on works best), then make bobble.

Bobble: Row 1: Into last cast-in stitch, KI, P1, K1, P1, K1—5 stitches on needle.
Row 2: Sl 1, P4
Row 3: Sl 1, K4
Row 4: Sl 1, P4
Row 5: Sl 1, K4
Row 6: Sl 1, P4
Row 7: Sl 1, K4
Row 8: Sl 1, P4
Row 9: K2tog, K1, K2tog
Row 10: K3tog

When bobble is complete, cast off remaining stitches. When you get to the last cast on stitch, knit it together with the next scarf stitch, then cast off one (the idea is you will have one bobbled fringe for every two stitches on the scarf).

Repeat fringe instruction above until only two stitches are on the needle, K2tog and end off.

Border B: Now you need to make a matching border on the end where you started. Remove provisional cast on and put the live loops on, with the front stitches on one needle and the back stitches on another. Align as for Border A and close off the scarf edge as in Border A. Note that you will probably have an odd number of stitches, due to picking up from the cast on edge. Just bring up a loop on the odd half and knit it together with the final stitch on the half with an even number of stitches to nicely close off the scarf end. Complete Fun Bobbled Fringe as above.

Copyright ©2006 Sue Ann Kendall. This pattern may not be reproduced except for personal use.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Preview of New Pattern AND I Posted Another

Linen stitch
Originally uploaded by sunasak

I hope this photo intrigues you and makes you want to know more about the next item I'm going to post the pattern for. I've been meaning to share this one for quite some time! As you can see, the yarn is luscious and the stitch pattern is a very interesting one. And it's perfect for this time of year--it is a VERY warm item! Here in Texas, it's mostly decorative--in fact, it lived at a yarn store for a year when I was selling the pattern there.

I realized I had sort of written up instructions for the Glacier Lake Socks I knitted this summer, so I went ahead and finished them up, and have posted that pattern as well. the instructions are dated back in July, when i did the sock, but it is also listed in the sidebar under free patterns, so you can find it easily if you ever want to make a simply patterned sock with a very interesting heel (borrowed liberally from another sock I knitted, only resized and tweaked).

As always, if you make them and find an error, do let me know!

Knittin' Progress

I am churning away on a gift that I can't go into here, and got some more done on Juno Regina yesterday. I can do about an inch at a time of that before going numb. So, it will take a while with those small needles and teeny thread. But it's pretty!! Tomorrow I hope to get yarn for the kids' gifts, and start them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rainy Day Sock Pattern

Rainy Day Sock detail
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here it is, the Rainy Day Sock pattern. Please let me know if you find any mistakes or have any trouble understanding the instructions, so I can make corrections. And if you knit them, please send me a picture.

Rainy Day Socks
This sock is based on two patterns from the Harmony Guides. The neat thing is that each pattern has a twelve-row repeat, so it's easy to keep track of what row you are on, even when doing both patterns.
In the new edition edited by Erika Knight, the patterns are Parasol Stitch on p. 74 (modified) and Raindrops, on p. 111 (also modified and with twisted knit stitch border added). The yarn I used on the original socks was mostly blue, like water, with a little green, and featured shiny silver strands, making it look wet. Socks for a rainy day!
Materials: Blue sock yarn. I used Schoeller and Stahl Fortissima Colori Socka Disco Colori, Color 01. This has been discontinued, so use any sock-weight yarn that looks rainy to you and gives the right gauge. It will look a LOT better in a solid or semi-solid yarn, so you can see the patterning.
Gauge: 9 stitches per inch.
Needles: Use whatever needle gets you this gauge. I needed a 00 with my yarn, but most people will probably need a 1 or 2. Whatever needle works best in 64-stitch socks for you will work fine.
I assume you are using the magic loop method or two circular needles. If you are more comfortable with four double pointed needles, put half of each side on each needle; there are an odd number of stitches on each side, so put one more stitch on two of the needles.
Cast on 28 stitches, 14 per needle, using your favorite invisible cast on, such as Figure 8, Turkish, backward loop (here are my instructions) or Judy's Magic Cast On.
Increase one stitch at each end of the needle every other row until you have 64 stitches. Options include knitting into the front and back of the edge stitch, working a Make 1 (M1)between the first and second stitches and next-to-last and last stitches on each needle, or doing paired lifted increases on each end. I use the M1 method, since my M1s are practically invisible.
On the last row of plain knitting, set up for the pattern on the first needle (this will be the instep). On the last row of plain knitting, set up for the pattern on the first needle (this will be the instep). K8, place marker, K8, M1, K8, place marker, K8. The other needle will be your sole. K16, M1, K16. 33 stitches on each side for a total of 66 stitches. The other needle will be your sole. K16, M1, K16. 33 stitches on each side for a total of 66 stitches.
Start parasol pattern (see below).
Knit to marker, knit row 1 of parasol pattern, knit to end of instep. Keep foot in stockinette, Continue knitting the parasol pattern on the instep.
Shape Gusset
When foot measures approximately 3" short of desired foot length, start gusset. Continuing in parasol pattern on the instep, increase one stitch at each end of the sole needle every other row. I used paired lifted increases, with a right-slanted increase on the right and a left-slanted one on the left. I did the increase on the second stitch from the end. You can use M1 (Make 1) or Kfb as well. Continue until you have a total of 55 stitches on the sole needle.(Don't worry about where you are on the parasol pattern. No matter where you end up, you will start new parasols on the back of the socks when you get to your next row 1.)
Turn Heel
Working back and forth on only the foot stitches:
Row 1: (RS) K 37, Kfb, K1, wrap and turn
Row 2: (RS) P 22, Pfb, P1, wrap and turn
Row 3: (RS) K 20, kfb, K1, wrap and turn
Row 4: (RS) P 18, Pfb, P1, wrap and turn
Row 3: (RS) K 16, kfb, K1, wrap and turn
Row 2: (RS) P 14, Pfb, P1, wrap and turn
Row 3: (RS) K 12, kfb, K1, wrap and turn
Row 2: (RS) P 10, Pfb, P1, wrap and turn
You will have 63 stitches in total. On RS, knit to end of the needle, knitting each wrap together with the stitch it wraps. Knit across instep stitches, keeping in Parasol pattern.
Heel Flap
Row 1 (RS): K47 (knitting each wrap together with the stitch it wraps), SSK, turn
Row 2: Slip 1, P 31, P2tog, turn
Row 3: [Slip 1, K1] 16 times, SSK, turn
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until all side stitches have been worked.
Rearrange for Leg
Move all stitches before the first marker on the instep to the heel needle (this is easy in Magic Loop--just change where the loops are by putting all the stitches together then re-pinching to make new loops where you want the half-rows to end). K across all these stitches, knitting two together where the heel and instep stitches meet.
Knit the next row of the Parasol pattern. Move the first 8 stitches of the heel needle onto the instep needle. Knit across these stitches, knitting two together where the heel and instep needles used to meet (neaten up if you think a hole might form).
(If you are using DPNs, you could put one pattern on each of four needles. That would make it easy to tell where you are.)
You should have 32 stitches on each needle (if not, adjust on the next row). One is the front (it has the pattern on it) and one is the back. The first 17 stitches on each needle will be worked in the Parasol pattern, and the second 15 stitches will be worked in the Raindrop pattern. Place markers between the patterns.
Until you reach row 1 of the Parasol pattern on the front, K across the 17 Parasol stitches on the back of the sock. Until you reach either row 1 or row 7, purl across the 15 stitches of the Raindrop pattern. You can start the Raindrop pattern on either Row 7 or Row 1. When I made mine, I only had to do this for two rows, because my last Parasol row had been Row 10. What row you end up with will depend on your foot size and your row gauge, so it will vary.
Establish Leg Patterns
At your next Row 1, start the Parasol pattern in the section with a K background and the Raindrops pattern in the section with the purl background. Though you have shifted the needles, the parasols will be centered on the front and back of the sock, and the raindrops will be centered up the sides. From now on, it's easy!
I moved the last purls of the Raindrop pattern to the beginnings of each needle so I would not have to start a needle with a YO on Row 1, but if you are comfortable starting with a YO, you don't need to do this.
Continue until the legs are as long as you want, probably between 6 and 8 inches long, ending at Row 12. Do the following finishing rows:
Row 13: In the Parasol sections, K 6, YO, SSK, K1, K2tog, YO, K6. In the Raindrop pattern, keep the twisted Knit stitches going, but Purl all other stitches.
Row 14: In the Parasol section, K7, Do the centered double decrease, K7. In the Raindrop pattern, keep the twisted Knit stitches going, but Purl all other stitches.
Finish with a K1, P1 ribbing. It looks nice to twist the knit stitches. I did 8 rows. Note that the Parasol pattern will cause the socks to dip festively in the front and back.
PARASOL PATTERN (17 stitches--only rows 11 and 12 will have accurate stitch count)
Row 1: YO, (K1, P3) 4 times, K1, YO
Row 2 and all even rows: K
Row 3: K1, YO, (K1, P3) 4 times, K1, YO, K1
Row 5: K2, YO, (K1, P3) 4 times, K1, YO, K2
Row 7: K3, YO, (K1, P2tog, P1) 4 times, K1, YO, K3
Row 9: K4, YO, (K1, P2tog) 4 times, K1, YO, K4
Row 11: K5, YO, K1, (Centered double decrease,* K1) twice, YO, K5
Row 12: K
*Slip two stitches together as if to knit, knit 1, pass the two slipped stitches over the stitch you knitted..
Row 1: P1, K1tbl, P5, YO, P2tog, P4, K1tbl, P1
Rows 2-6: P1, K1tbl, P5, K1, P5, K1tbl, P1
Row 7: P1, K1tbl, P2, YO, P2tog, P4, YO, P1, K1tbl, P1
Rows 8-12: P1, K1tbl, P2, K1, P5, K1, P2, K1tbl, P1
K: knit
P: purl
Kfb: knit into the front and back of the stitch
Pfb: purl into the front and back of the stitch
M1: make one
YO: yarn over
P2tog: purl two together
Special Stitch
Centered double decrease: Slip two stitches together as if to knit, knit 1, pass the two slipped stitches over the stitch you knitted. This makes three stitches into one, and keeps the center stitch at the foreground.
Copyright 2007 by Sue Ann Kendall. Permission is granted to reproduce this pattern for personal use only.

Suna's Dream Item

Just a quick note while I am waiting to be home where there's a copy of my sock pattern that I can post. Look, TWO blue socks appear on the blue background at left!

The new Knitty is out, and wonder of wonders, it has my dream project: an entire sweater made out of Trekking XXL sock yarn. Drool. Abotanicity is its name. And it sure looks comfy and modern. And in one piece. And top down. Did I mention that? Oh gosh, that would be a lot of fun to make, and in my favorite beautiful yarn. Yeah, soon as I finish the other to do items, that is! I'll report more on it later, after I have looked at all the patterns and stuff. Some of the links are not working (I guess the server's busy).

Yes, I did at last finish the Rainy Day Socks last night. Sock #2 remarkably resembles sock #1. And neither of them photographed well, which is apparent in the photo. I need some natural light, but it gets dark so early! I even started a new pair using Jody's yarn and yet another Wendy Johnson pattern, because I needed something to do while waiting to get yarn for the kids' requests from the Stitch-n-Bitch men's book. One wants a hat, the other the Lucha Libre kind of mask thing. Both black. Sigh. Such exciting taste. Of course, the yarn shop will not be open late tonight as usual, so who knows when I'll get to buy the yarn.

Next post WILL be a sock pattern.

PS: Thanks to Noallatin for the info on the sock needle holder. You rock!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another Question, and a Plan?

Festive Dog
Originally uploaded by sunasak

No knitting excitement to post a photo of, so here's my doggie sweater I designed using very strange yarns, which lives at the LYS. The color is WAY off--it is orange, not pink! Who PhotoShopped that, anyway??? (me)

I am probably going to get the second Rainy Day sock finished today or tomorrow, and that is good news. It means I passed the heel and was able to follow my own instructions. So I will be able to share them. I am impressed, since I spent most of the weekend singing or doing holiday decorating.

We have another question today from my shy questioner, and it's a good one.

She asks:"When you're making socks using 4 (or 5) needles, and you stop knitting for a while, what do you do with the needle not currently in use? I've been gently poking it through the finished part of the sock, trying very hard not to split stitches. But I think sometimes this does rearrange things a bit and makes what almost looks like holes.

"Is there a better way that still would keep from not losing the needle?"

And I answer: Usually I do what you do--stick the needle in the knitted part of the sock, or in the ball of yarn. And I do sometimes split the yarn, so this really isn't a great method. When knitting with teeny double pointed needles, though, I do try to carry the project in one of those small "sock bags," which have just enough space to hold the yarn, the sock in progress and its mate if that one is done. You are much less likely to lose your 5th (or 4th) needle if it's in a little bag and you close it up. And that way you don't have to stick the needle in the sock or yarn ball. But, another reason I use Magic Loop is so I won't lose needles!

There is a contraption I have seen that holds all your working needles and the spare in it, with your sock hanging out. This keeps your needles from being sat on and breaking (or hurting someone) and keep the unworked one safe. I can't remember what that thingie is called, so I can't link to it. But, that's another option. Any reader with another suggestion is welcome to COMMENT and tell me. Hint hint. I love comments.


I am trying to figure out ways to make some money when I am between jobs. One is that I will teach more classes at the LYS, which I have been graciously granted permission to do (and since I love to do that, it's great!). I did have the idea of marketing myself as a personal knitting coach and someone who will do in-home knitting parties. I did one of those last year and it was fun for all. I think I'd need to revamp my very old and outdated personal website so I could use it for that purpose. I wonder if I'd get any takers? And where I would advertise? I wouldn't want to conflict with local yarn shops and their classes, so I'd not want to put ads or business cards there. Maybe the small local newspapers. Or, or... CRAIGSLIST!!! Now, that may be a plan.

Of course, revamping that website takes away knitting time (which is why it is stale and it is better to find my stuff on Flickr). Hmm. Decisions decisions.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Knitting Books, Reunited

Knitting Books, Reunited
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Why in the world am I illustrating my post with a photo of a bookshelf in my bedroom? The title tells it all--at last, all my knitting books are reunited. I spent a lot of time, and lots of back ache moving my knitting books out of the guest room, and adding all the ones I found last week to those. As you can see, they nearly filled this book case (a narrow one, which we have another one of on the other side of the room, courtesy of Lee moving in).

And they are alphabetized by author. I feel so organized. I had tried to organize them by topic before, but so many things spanned topic that it was not quite right. Then, Lee moved things and ACK, they were ALL intermingled! Knitting books were touching quilt books! Or Sewing with Nancy! Man, they could have gotten contaminated or something (with what, I don't know--really I used to like those Sewing with Nancy books a lot).

The other book case will hold my non-knitting craft books. I am weeding a lot of sewing books out, since I don't think i will ever be a garment sewer, but I will keep the quilt books, because they often inspire my knitting (and who knows, I may quilt again some day). I am also keeping the needlepoint books, because it's just so pretty. However, a whole lot of books about scrapbooking and other things I don't have time for now that I am not a stay-at-home mother will go to someone else. Yay for decluttering (which I did a bit of to the holiday decor today, too).

Next, I will use my close-up photos of all the books to lazily add books to my Ravelry list. Of course, now that I have a laptop that really works, I guess I could do it in the bedroom. Ah, modern conveniences.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Winter 2007 Knitter's

THANKS for all the nice Rainy Day Sock comments! Here is a photo of the sock from the side, which shows the raindrop pattern.

Another day of not-too-much knitting gives me not much to share, so let's see what I can say about the Winter 2007 Knitter's magazine. This used to be my favorite, but I think they are now designing things for people with different taste than mine--interesting techniques and all, but if they don't put in a shawl, not much I want to make.

One comment I have is that I thought it was nice that they took the photos in the town where the magazine is based, way up in South Dakota, but they really didn't find many scenic spots. I guess lining models up against graffiti and abandoned buildings is more artistic than putting them in places that give you a feel for the location's good points. Yes, I assume there are many good points to South Dakota.

I enjoyed all the articles (even though I couldn't figure out where Peri was going for a while in hers), and especially liked all the ads. Go ads! If you are an advertiser, yes, people do read them. And go to your websites! Some are so stylized, though, that I have no clue what kind of yarn or other products they have--entice me with something tangible!

As for the projects, which is a big reason why we knitters want a magazine for knitters, they grow on you, I think. Here are the ones that grew the most (my top 5):
  • Radiant Diamonds: That's the one most likely to be made by me (ha, like I will ever get to it), but I love the lace diamonds, and it looks very wearable. Quite a pretty item.
  • Cinnamon Bark: I think this is the loveliest item of them all, but when I looked at the pattern--woo-ee--even this experienced knitter thought, "I'd have to take my time on this one!" It would probably be worth it--that is one elegant looking sweater.

  • Honey Gold: I don't think this one is particularly pretty (not fond of the collar especially) but I just LOVE how it is constructed, so I'd want this one just for the experience of making those fun sleeves! It has lots of elements (lace, cables, etc.) that I like, too. Definitely looks like the most fun to try.

  • Warm and Ready: The dickie really would be nice for a motorcycle rider, who of course would not be wearing the hat rather than a helmet if he or she were riding on their bike.

  • Chalk Stripes Scarf: I know this will be the item most popular with the general public--I already am reading about it. And I must admit that it looks pretty fun. Yeah, I might make one of those in other colors.
Others in the bunch ranged from OK if something were changed (remove the ties from that pink eyelet sweater; make Media Man in a more man-friendly or work-friendly colorway) to plain old ick (I find Chocolate Bars and Teal We Meet Again just ugly). I know many will disagree, so I look forward to seeing these patterns knitted up on Ravelry in a month or so. Your renditions may change my mind!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Questions from Readers

Fair Isle Style Vest
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I actually got some questions from readers, so I thought I'd answer them here. Since my first question is from someone I knew when I lived in Illinois (we still are on an email list together, too), I thought I would illustrate today's post with something I made before I came to Texas. This is from the 80s, during the Fair Isle obsession phase. It is made from rather scratchy wool that was on cones in a mill end outlet in Columbus Ohio. But it fit in a grad student budget, so it was good! I was quite the purist, and used steeks on the armholes and neck. What a brave woman! I cut into my knitting! I still have this vest, but it's a bit warm for most of the year here. No moths have eaten it or anything!

So here is the first set of questions, from my friend, who is too shy to post on the blog (this is a very articulate, well educated and wise person--you'd love any comment she made--to her and the rest of you, please do not be shy--it makes bloggers SO happy to read comments, and readers are very nice. At least mine are). Anyway:

1) Do you have any suggestions for what to do with leftover sock yarn? ... I have dibs and dabs, some fairly sizeable, left over that I hate to throw out.

Yes! I have read lots of suggestions on the sock knitting list, gotten interesting ideas from my LYS friends, and found other interesting ideas in books and magazines. All sock knitters have leftovers (OK, once or twice I have used ALL of a yarn, but that's not the norm).

I started an afghan a couple of years ago. it's little mitered squares made out of sock yarn leftovers. It started off with sort of a pattern, with each yarn being used as many times as I could, going up in diagonal stripes. I don't know how long that will last, especially since some yarns don't have that much left over. A few yarns are slightly different in texture or width, but it's mostly pretty good. I haven't worked on it in a while--now that I have so many pretty hand-dyed yarns, maybe I should! You could also do an afghan out of small granny squares, with a solid color to tie them all together or something. Or a ripple afghan with many colored stripes.

Other ideas include:

* Baby booties or socks
* Preemie hats (I think the finer yarn looks better on the tiny heads) or baby hats. Hospitals appreciate the little hats.
* "Monster socks," which are socks made with leftover yarn, usually with some unifying theme
* Wrist warmers, which teens like
* Mini sock holiday ornaments
* Felted coasters if you have non-superwash sock yarn around

There are lots more--feel free to post other ideas, you lurkers!

2) How do you protect your yarn from m___ths? So far, I'm using ziploc bags and herbal packets and cedar balls. Is this enough?

I did have more trouble with them in Illinois than here, thank goodness. I have sprigs of rosemary and lavender in the closet and sock drawer, but nothing has happened in the 10.5 years I've been here. Oddly enough, we had a dickens of a problem with the moths that get into your pantry. ACK. We still see one every so often. They do not seem interested in wool. Just food. Those moths were driven away with sticky pheromone-laden traps from Mr. Pest Control Man.

You do need to let your wool items breathe, so don't leave them in sealed bags for too long (at least I am told it needs to breathe--I didn't check on on it). Cedar seems to work well, as does keeping wool items clean. The moths like stains.

Other tips on dealing with those nasty chomping critters? Contribute if you will!

More than one reader asked for the Rainy Day Socks pattern when I am finished. I am sending it out to a test knitter (who is no doubt now going, "Ooh, I have an official title!"), and if she can follow my slightly rambling instructions, I'll share it right away! I am still working on Sock #2 myself, because yesterday required too much concentration to work on anything but the repetitive section of Juno Regina. it's moving along slowly.

I really appreciate the nice comments on the socks, especially with the less-than-stellar photo quality. Now that I have the new computer I promise to put up a couple of other patterns you might like, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rainy Day Progress

Rainy Day Sock, Back
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here's a picture of the first Rainy Day Sock (which was knitted mostly while it was raining, a lot). It's from the back, so you can see how spiffily I finished the Parasols pattern. I added two rows to the last repeat to make a complete umbrella top. I think that looks better than just stopping the pattern. With the addition of a more attractive double decrease, I think I really improved the original. The Parasol pattern also gives the sock a slightly curved top edge, which I like a lot.

If you want to see a picture of the Raindrops pattern that is on the side of the sock, look here The pattern is so simple, but really does look like droplets of water. Sparkly water, thanks to Disco Colori!

I believe these would be quite lovely socks in a less hysterical colorway, so I may do them again in something more sedate. I may use my Maizy for it.

Right now I am still reading over my instructions and knitting the second sock according to them, to make sure I didn't mess up anything. Then I guess I'll PDF it and post a link here and to Ravelry, just in case anyone else wants to try it. I didn't get real far yesterday because I started another little project and worked some on Juno Regina, my current Mindless Knitting project, until I get to the other end.

Make Someone's Holiday Happy

Some of you may know that I once was a professional do-gooder. I spent well over a decade of my life working for a nonprofit organization that helped mothers and babies. I did their very large website (with help), and I always felt very good that I was contributing to the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. I want to do things that increase peace, increase kindness, and increase well-being in the world. Someone just wrote me an email re-iterating that I helped sooo many people back then, in response to me posting regrets that staying home with my kids when they were small then working in a non-traditional job in a non-traditional field has hampered my ability to do the kind of work I want to do. I do appreciate that I helped so many. It eases a lot of the pain.

Since I have had to take whatever job will pay enough to cover the household expenses, which has meant working as a faceless drone in corporate America, I have been trying to keep helping others. I do a lot of knitting help--having a hobby that can calm and soothe you while creating useful products does increase peace, kindness (giving away what you make) and well-being. That's good.

Giving to Real People

Yet, being a middle class parent on the brink of not having enough to get by for the past few years has made me realize that I am by no means the worst off. I am willing to sacrifice my principles and employment wants, and do whatever I have to so that the kids are fed and housed. Some people, and these are people I really admire, feel they just can't sacrifice their souls to multi-national corporations and try to earn a living doing what they are good at and what they love.

So, at this holiday season, when we are often asked to give money to nameless people via charities, I'd like to highlight two people I know who stick by their guns and do what they love, even when the money doesn't quite follow immediately. Maybe, just maybe, one or two of you will find that they deserve your support, even if it isn't tax deductible. Your bonus will be knowing you helped a hard-working, strong-minded person, and you get to enjoy the fruits of their labor!


Jeff is a close friend (lived with us for four years, even) who has been a musician his whole life. He is an amazing guitarist, has an incredible voice (he can sing Roy Orbison songs in the original keys), and has written some lovely songs. He has always lived for music and is one of the few people in Austin trying to make a living as a full-time musician. He's one of those people who fame and fortune kept just missing, which was always frustrating. Right now he is living with a chronic condition that makes getting most jobs difficult--his vision is bad and he can't stand for long periods of time. But he can make music and share his knowledge of it! And to top it all off, his step-father died, while his mom was in the hospital. Jeff is now trying to take care of her, in Florida, which makes working here in Austin a challenge!

Jeff has created a couple of projects recently that I think deserve more attention. One is his CD of "chill" music, called Lake Effect. I had to listen to this over and over while he was working on it, and never got tired of it. This is music that can take you to another world if you listen to it with headphones on, or that makes a great background for concentrating on other things, like knitting or writing. There are samples on Jeff's website, so check them out. And if you like it, please consider ordering a copy. They make good gifts, too--no offensive lyrics! And the cover photo, by Jeff, is really cool.

His other laudable project is one that really gives back to the folk music community. It's his podcast website, The Austin Connection. There are now 60 different podcasts here, all showcasing a different musician or group who wither lives around here or has passed through Austin in the past couple of years. I am totally blown away by the quality of the recordings and the fun it is to listen to the stories these musicians tell. Jeff has a great radio voice, so these podcasts are very, very easy to listen to. Another great thing to do while you knit if you run out of knitting podcasts! The Austin Connection project is completely funded by donations. And it is sad how few donate compared to how many download the podcasts, read them on their RSS feed or get them on iTunes. A donation to this worthy cause would really help someone trying to make a living doing what they love AND giving back to the local community. Please consider it.


I haven't known Ray as long as I have known Jeff, but I've gotten to know him pretty well through his blogs and email postings. Like Jeff, he's a real individualist who wants to earn his living doing what he loves, not sacrificing his principles. Ray had to leave Louisiana after the hurricane and set up shop in Houston, where he dyes yarn, designs patterns, and knits up a storm, all in a very small space. He also thinks a lot. I really enjoy his thoughts, whether I agree or disagree. Nothing's better than having a friend who makes you think.

Long-time readers have seen me knit with some of his Knitivity yarns, which I enjoy because the color combinations are not the standard ones you see everywhere. He also has some patterns and holiday stockings, hats and bags for sale that would make great holiday gifts. But the best thing he has is a deal where you buy someone a voucher for sock yarn (first item listed on the sock page), and then they get to pick the color, which Ray will dye right up for them and send right off! What a great gift for any knitter.

Also great for knitters are the shirts and other products Ray has on his CafePress site. He just designed a pretty amusing knitting-themed shirt that is brand new--no one on your gift list will have it yet! Or maybe YOU need one!

And anything you buy will keep a very small business afloat--that has to fill you with holiday spirit, whatever that is. I know it makes me feel good to buy things right from the maker, and knowing the kind of person Ray is makes me feel even better. A real American entrepreneur.

What I Think (as if you asked)

I'd much rather buy something from someone who is honestly trying to make a living than to just give people hand-outs. I think most of us would rather earn our livings. I know Jeff and Ray feel that way. And having some holiday income will certainly bring them cheer, while their music and yarnish things will bring YOU cheer!

Now if you can't bring yourself to do any holiday shopping via my personal favorites, don't forget the many indie dyers, local yarn shops, and other small craft-related businesses out there. Your purchases of items made locally or marketed via people in our local communities helps them feed their families. When we give straight to "real" people, it doesn't hurt those big businesses much, but really, really helps the small ones. Let's do it!

PS: Neither of these guys asked me to do this. I was just thinking of them and realized that, since I don't have anything monetary to give them right now, I could at least share their talents with my little bloggy audience. And this is my last infomercial for the season. I need to go concentrate on getting my own funding now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Harmony Guides

As you could guess from my description of the socks I am working on (hold down that clamor for the pattern, folks!), I have copies of two of the new versions of the Harmony Guides, which are stitch pattern books. I have the Knit and Purl one and the one depicted here, Lace and Eyelets. I have the cables and Aran patterns book on order.

I also have copies of two volumes of the previous set, which is where I originally found the two rain-related patterns I am using in the socks (btw, finished sock #1). The same patterns are in the new version Lace and Eyelets book, so that is the one I refer to in my sock instructions.

The new books are very modern looking and have a lovely design. There is a lot more space given to each pattern, so you can see it well. It is a lot of fun to browse through the books, marking pages of patterns you like. The books stay open well and have a really nice binding (is that perfect binding? What's it called?).

What I do not like about the new books is as follows:
  • There is no table of contents.
  • There is no index--oh, why oh why could there not be an index of pattern names? Then, when you remember the name of one, you could go right to it, rather than thumbing through the whole book and getting distracted by other patterns vying for your attention.
  • There are no CHARTS to the lace patterns! ARGH. That means you have to figure them out for yourself if you want to design something usable by modern lace knitters, most of whom prefer charts. Actually, charts of ALL the patterns would be nice; for some of them, seeing how stitches pair up makes it easier to learn the pattern than memorizing written directions.
  • I wish that some of the patterns listed original sources, or some history or lore about them.
  • Some suggested uses for patterns is also nice (there is a bit of that, but more would be even better).

I am positive that I will get a lot of use out of these books, and combined with my long-lost Barbara G. Walker treasuries and my endless Fair Isle pattern books, I can now probably entertain myself forever making things up. These are great resources, and I appreciate all the work that the editor did on them.

Perhaps if I get all bored one day and have a friend with me, I'll have the friend read off pattern titles and I'll type them into a document, and then I'll have my pattern name index, which, of course, I would share.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Farewell to People Who Don't Like Socks

There are a lot of very ill people in my family and social circle, and there have been some deaths recently, too. Two people important to the knitting community have recently passed away, as well, both of whom, apparently were not fond of socks.

Many of us knitters read the KnitU email list that XRX publications sponsors. For many years, a very nice woman named Gail was the moderator. And since KnitU is the most heavily moderated email list I have ever been on, it was a lot of work! She read every single post, passing on ones she approved, and commenting on nearly every one of them. It was more of a list where people wrote her than a list where people exchanged ideas with each other, because there was always the intermediary commentary. Luckily, it was usually quite enjoyable, part of the unique KnitU charm. I never really posted much to the list, though, because I mostly knit socks, love to knit socks, and love to write about socks, and Gail had very strong anti-sock feelings. After having my one feeble attempt to ask something sock-related sweetly put down, I decided to lurk on that list. I do realize most people found it a charming quirk, so I decided it must be my issue, not hers (but ya know, I don't like Lion Brand Homespun yarn, but I don't make fun of anyone who mentions it--I figure they are entitled to have different experiences and preferences from mine).

Still, I enjoyed reading what Gail had to say other than the sock thing, and was as sad as the rest of the knitting community to hear of her sudden passing. She had a lot of knowledge to share, and was very kind to others. There are lots of places where you can read about how to contribute to her favorite charity. A nice place, with a very nice tribute, is Dez Crawford's blog. Consider doing something in memory of a woman who gave a great deal to the knitting community!

Mary Walker Phillips also passed away recently. I had just been thinking of her when I found the Counterpanes book she wrote among my recently unearthed knitting books. I remember thinking that I hadn't really seen many other resources on these cool knitted squares--so it was interesting to read about it in the obituary (linked above). Now, I am not sure if Miss Phillips really hated socks herself, but the person writing the obituary seemed to feel that she felt her work was somehow "better" than the work of a sock or sweater knitter--and really put down anyone who was so unimaginative as to "just" follow a pattern. The obituary writer made quite a few swipes at the humble sock!

Humph! There is a world of creativity possible with socks, and that was even before the New Pathways series started! And even if you follow a pattern, it's just a suggestion. Nearly everyone I know veers off from the pattern's instructions in some way or another, not to mention the art of pairing pattern with yarn!

Still, I am grateful that people like Mary Walker Phillips showed up to shake up the knitting community, demonstrate how knitting can be used in art, and reveal that there is a lot more to the craft than taking your skein of Red Heart and making a ripple afghan (which you are still free to do if you want to--I do sometimes!). Do read the obituary--she sounds like a pretty fascinating person. I hope her last years were peaceful--Alzheimer's is a hard way for a creative person to go.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Weekend Project

To take my mind off my issues, I have done two things. One is that I went to the LYS to see if I needed to teach anything. I didn't, so I settled in to knit, but, naturally, I ended up helping folks. Even got paid for one, and since my Spanish is very bad and the lady from Peru's English is not so good, I earned my pay on that one. I will help her some more next week. In the meantime, I will look up more knitting words in Spanish. I sound really good in Spanish, but have never talked about knitting much, so that slows me down a lot. The poor lady wants to make something that should be easy, a feather and fan afghan, but the instructions are so poorly written and the increases and decreases so counter-intuitive that even a good English reader would have problems with them. Yep, my work was cut out for me. I can see why I decided to not be a professional translator.

I also was very proud of myself for helping a woman figure out the pattern to an Aran-style poncho she wanted to re-create. I figured out the whole thing, and even wrote out instructions for a cable pattern we could not find in a book. Not bad. I helped her knit on it for a long time, before my friend and I went to Starbucks for some uninterrupted conversation. Sometimes you just want to chat!

The other thing I've been doing this weekend is work on the new socks I've been designing. I had this shiny blue yarn that looked sort of wet, and wanted to make socks with a theme to match them. I found a pattern of umbrellas (parasols) and a pattern of raindrops, and when I saw they were each 12-row patterns, I figured it would not be too hard to use them in socks. You can see how far along I am now. The hardest part was that I decided it would be easier to knit the patterns all together, rather than splitting the pattern that centers across the sides of the sock in half. writing out how to rearrange the needles as simply as possible has been an interesting challenge.

When I finish this sock, I will knit the second one according to the instructions, to be sure they work (seems prudent). Then, I hope to share the instructions in case anyone else wants to make Rainy Day Socks!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Start Hyperventilating NOW: Found Old Treasures!

Because I should, I will share photos of my current projects--the finished pair of fraternal Double Eyelet rib socks, which I think came out quite nicely, but I think I can stand to give away, and the progress on Juno Regina Petite--I've knit more on it, but this photo gives a good idea of how it will look. The colors show up on the enlarged view on Flickr, if you are interested. I think it will be lovely once finished and blocked.

Right now I am working on a pair of socks of my own design, and trying to write the pattern down while I am at it. I'll post a photo of that one when I am a little further along on it.I am using my second skein of Fortissima Disco Colori, which is mostly denim blue with a bit of aqua and green in it, plus the extra special silver threads. Disco-y, yes.

But here's the excitement! Lee is re-wiring the house so that we can put in a wireless booster and be able to more successfully use the wireless in the media room (it is as far away as possible in our house from the router, and we lose connection at times). Now that I have a brand-new red notebook, I'd like to be able to blog and do Ravelry up in the room with all my knitting stuff.

So he opened the closet door in the office. Um, it is a mess. So, he started to neaten it slightly, but ended up emptying the whole thing, something I had not been able to do since we moved here, 10.5 years ago. There were boxes of books way in a corner that I never could lift out. So, yes, we had lived here over a decade and not finished unpacking. Sigh. But, Lee got out the books!

First, there were all the Japanese linguistics books I'd used in my studies and dissertation work. Aww. Some very expensive dictionaries in there! Then there were a bunch of interesting linguistics and culture books. A bunch of books on cultures I was interested in. Way too many bad 80s quilt books. And. And. And. The treasured knitting books I had been looking all over the place for.

There, to my immense relief, were my Barbara G. Walker stitch pattern books. From when they first came out. A first edition of A History of Hand Knitting. A pristine copy of Principles of Knitting. Alice Starmore's fair isle book (SCORE!!!!!) all these from the 80s and early 90s. All sorts of fair isle books, a book on Cornish knit frocks...wait, wait--here are some highlights:

* Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting (now all I lack is the Aran book)
* Charted Knitting Patterns, by B Walker (I think I re-bought this one, oops)
* Classic Knitting Patterns from the British Isles by J. Waller (has VERY English looking people as models)
* The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, by S. McGregor
* Cornish Guernsies and Knit Frocks by M. Wright (a really cool little book)
* A History of Hand Knitting by R. Rutt (first ed.)
* Knitting Around, by E. Zimmerman (yay! I knew I owned this!)
* Knitting Counterpanes, by MW Phillips (wow, I had forgotten about this--a whole bunch of cool patterns, borders and squares)
* Knitting from the Netherlands: Traditional Dutch Fishermen's Sweaters, by H. van der Klift-Tellegen
* Knitting in the Old Way, by PA Gibson-Roberts (glad to see this one again)
*Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects, by S. Lewis (I had forgotten this existed)
* Knitting without Tears, by Elizabeth Zimmerman (woo! Not lost!)
*No Idle Hands
* The Principles of Knitting, by J. Hiatt
* A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by B. Walker (yay, so glad I didn't re-buy these, as I have been tempted to many times)
*Swedish Sweaters: New Designs from Historical Examples, by B-M Christoffersson
* Traditional Knitting: Aran, Fair Isle, and Fisher Ganseys, by M. Pearson
*Traditional Knitting: Patterns of Ireland, Scotland and England by G. Morgan
* A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, by B. Walker
* A Useful Guide to Irish Crochet Lacemaking by M. Cusson

There sure were a lot of "traditional this and that" books in the 80s and early 90s, huh. And I sure did love Fair Isle, apparently.

One good thing is, knowing what some of these books are going for on Ebay these days, we could live a couple of months on the proceeds of selling them. Not that I would. What great resources I have been missing out on since I moved to Texas! I'd been holding off on designing things until I found all my books. And here they are! I also found some interesting history of quilting books in addition to the bunch of really not-so-hot quilt books that I am not sure why I bought. Oh yeah, and there were my bargello books from my intense bargello design phase. I could never get rid of those!

Finding all these books again reminds me of my dream of running a knitting resource center, with a library of books that knitters could use as resources, back issues of knitting magazines, and pattern collections from as far back as I could get them. I have so many resources, being such a bibliophile, and I do wish I could share them with others. We could all sit around and knit, design our projects, or share inspiration. Of course, I would hate to lose any of them, so I'd have to watch them like a hawk.

I feel like I could never run out of inspiration with all these wonderful resources at my fingertips. How lucky I am! If you live nearby and want to see any of these books, just let me know. I will check to see if I have re-bought any more of them, so I can offer duplicates up for others to use.