Well, that took longer than it should have…

A few weeks ago, I was asked to knit two hats and two pair of mittens for seven month old babies. Easy-peasy, right? Their noggins are small, and there’s no need to put thumbs in baby mittens…their little thumbs would never stay in them anyway. So I placed an order with Knit Picks for some Swish Worsted weight yarn, and while I waited for it to arrive, I scoured Ravelry for some cool hat patterns.

The yarn was delivered last Friday, and I immediately set to knitting the first hat in pink for the little girl. I finished it on Saturday, and as soon as the last end was woven in, I started the brown and blue hat for the little boy.

I adjusted the number of stitches I needed based on my swatch and his head circumference, and knit away. I finished the hat on Sunday afternoon and popped it on Penny’s head to test it, and only then did I realize it was too big. Way too big. Like, by three or four inches. I ripped it out, re-swatched, and tried again. And again.

And again.

I finally got it right (I hope) on Monday evening, and moved on to the mittens. I faced the same issue here, where everything I tried ended up being far too large, or teensy. I didn’t finish the whole set until late last night, when I stayed up especially so I could wake up this morning and not have to deal with the little buggers. I gave them a quick wash and popped them into the dryer, hoping against hope that the yarn truly was super wash, and that I wouldn’t have to knit these AGAIN because the dryer shrunk them to the size of nickels.

I added i-cord loops to the top of the hat and the cuffs of the mittens reduce the chances of them getting lost. See, they can be collected onto one of those little link-things! (I thought this was incredibly clever. Keep it to yourself if you disagree. I’m not in the mood)

This hat is actually folded up along the decrease lines, which is why it looks so little.

I can tell you, with much relief, that the yarn performed perfectly. It didn’t shrink, but it did put all of the stitches in line the way they’re supposed to be. This is great yarn, and I highly recommend it if you find yourself needing to knit something for a small someone, or for an individual who won’t give regular wool the care it needs and deserves. It is extraordinarily soft and squishy, and comes in several weights, so it will work for a wide variety of projects.

As for me, I’m just happy that I’m done with these, and that I can return to my regularly scheduled Christmas knitting, which is very, very behind. In fact, I think I have exactly none of my gifts completed.



Tying up Some Loose Ends

What a spectacular day this has been. Thanks to a storm that started out up by Alaska, we had cool temperatures and overcast skies – a rare occurrence in San Diego – this morning. And right about the time that the evening commute was getting ready to start, an angry and persistent mist/shower started up. No doubt the 11:00 news will tout this as the “storm of the century” (as they do every time it rains).

Max, Penny and I ventured out just before lunch to pick up some essentials, and to take advantage of the temperature change to stock up on “winter clothes” for Miss P. She made an impressive haul, and might get a chance to wear one or two of the outfits before this storm moves on and leaves us with our regular warm October weather.

Upon returning home and putting Penny down for her nap, I made good use of the nearly quiet house to finish up two projects that were recently off the needles but not quite done.

First up is Jojo’s Entrelac Scarf. I started this last December, and brought it with me for the Christmas Eve festivities at my in-law’s house. In the confusion that often accompanies leaving at the end of a party, especially one where gifts have been exchanged, I left the scarf sitting on the back of the couch. My mother-in-law, who is an impressive knitter and crocheter, was intrigued by the design and attempted to reverse engineer it. She eventually gave in, and proceeded to hold the scarf hostage until I had an opportunity to sit down with her and show her how it was done.

Needless to say it was many months before I finally got the scarf back, and I had moved on to more emergent knitting deadlines. So the scarf was placed unceremoniously into the-basket-that-holds-projects-that-I-started-but-will-likely-never-finish. And there it stayed until last week, when Alex cleaned up both our living room and our bedroom and the basket ended up sitting in the middle of the bed, begging to be dealt with.

I salvaged several of the projects, and all of the yarn, and decided it was time to finish Jojo’s scarf. And finish it I did. Look, I have proof!

Next up is the “Cardigan for Merry,” which is not for Merry, but is instead for Penny. The cables on this sweater nearly killed me, but now, looking at the finished product, they were totally worth it. I have to remove the buttons and turn them 90 degrees, because the top one hits her right under her little chin. I may also adjust the spacing a bit, but that would necessitate moving the loops as well, so that might not happen. Any way, I’m very pleased that she’ll be able to wear it tomorrow (since it will probably still be chilly).

So, now that those two are off my list, I should probably get back to the mittens…

Sometimes, it’s best to admit defeat

I’ve spent this past week working on a new pair of mittens. During lunch on Monday, I went to “The Needleworks,” a small yarn store in Mission Valley and bought some lovely classic one fifty yarn, by Classic Elite Yarns – one ball of dark blue and one ball of white. When I got home I went straight to Ravelry and picked out a pattern, then dove right in. The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn and size one needles, but classic one fifty is sport weight. This, I decided, would not be a problem because I want to add a liner, a la “Fiddle Head,” and having the mittens turn out a little big would be great. The pattern, likewise, recommended a gauge of 10 stitches per inch. After casting on and knitting a few rows, I was getting about 7 stitches per inch, and the color work was looking a bit sloppy.

It was getting late anyway, so I put the mitten away and went to bed.

Tuesday at lunch, I cast on again, using the next smaller size needles that I had access to – size 00. After a few rows, I found my gauge had only improved to 7.5 stitches per inch, and my color work still looked crappy. Fine. Lunch was over anyway.

When I got home I unravelled the uncooperative mitten and cast on once again, still using the size 00 needles, but increasing my tension a fair bit. A few rows in, I measured my gauge and found it was at 9.25 stitches per inch – exactly what I was going for. And, as a bonus, the little white stitches were showing up perfectly against the dark blue background rather than being pulled so tightly they disappeared into the fabric, or knit so loosely that they stuck out like Frankenstein’s monster at a cotillion.

And so, I knit on.

I knit on for several days (until this morning, in fact), the sides of my lovely little mitten rising up straight and even. Then I decided to try it on, to ensure I wasn’t knitting mittens that would fit the aforementioned monster.

As I mushed my hand in I swore silently, as the mitten was really quite tight. When I got it on all the way I found myself getting a little claustrophobic. And as I eased it off my hand, my swearing gained volume until, at the moment I was finally freed from its woolly snare, my face was nearly blue from cursing. I took a deep breath, then unravelled 5 days worth of knitting, put all the yarn and the needles back into the bag, and walked into my bedroom to tell my husband about how the mitten had vanquished me.

When I entered, I noticed “Girasole” sitting demurely on top of my yarn chest, where she’d been put last night because we were too tired to return her to her home inside the trunk where she’s lived for the past year waiting patiently for me to weave in the ends before giving her a bath stretching her out to dry. Right then, I knew the reason for the mittens’ attitude.

I needed to finish Girasole.

And so, without further ado (or whining – I promise to stop whining too), here she is, in all her sunflowery glory.

This is where it all started – just a few little stitches

On to Sock Summit Socks part Deux

I did a short celebratory dance on Saturday when I finished my HoarWars2010 socks, then moved on quickly to finish the Hedera socks that had been languishing sadly in a paper lunch sack since mid April (I got distracted). I just looked back thru my posts, and I notice that I haven’t even mentioned these poor little socks since April 5th, but I must have been knitting on them occasionally, because when I took them out on Saturday afternoon – seriously, mere moments after I’d finished the other ones – I only had two pattern repeats to do before starting on the toe. I completed the knitting part on Monday at lunch, but I didn’t have my darning needle with me, so I couldn’t graft the toe closed.

In fact, I still haven’t grafted the toe closed. Hold on, I’ll be right back.

…almost done…


Hedera socks, pattern by Cookie A, from knit. sock. love. Knit with Knit Picks Imagination Hand Painted sock yarn, Make Believe colorway.

So anyway, on Monday, at lunch, after I’d finished all but the grafting for Hedera, I started on my second pair of Sock Summit Socks. Admittedly, these ones are kind of cheating, since they’re anklets, but they have fussy little cables that, although charming and lovely, are a pain in the butt to knit.

In Season, pattern by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from the 2009 RSC (yeah, I’m lagging a bit on my RSC kits). Yarn is Heirloom from Blue Moon Fiber Arts (sent with the kit, but not available on their site. I just checked.)

They’re further along now than they were in the photo above, but I’m going to wait to show them to you again until I’m at least done with the heel. By my calculations, I have to finish these over the weekend in order to have any hope of finishing a third pair by the end of July. Ok, I’m off to knit!

Sock Summit Socks

I finished my socks for Sock Summit this afternoon.

HoarWars 2010 (Ravelry Link), knit in Madeline Tosh  Sock (color, Ivy) – the yellow/green, and Araucania Sock – the blue

This pattern is knit from the toe up, and I did mine two-at-a-time, in order to ensure I didn’t lose interest before I’d finished. The pattern suggested using a Russian bind off so the cuff would be sufficiently stretchy. However, mine still ended up being a little stiff, so I may undo the bind off and do it again, the same way, but using larger needles.

I’m very pleased with how these turned out, and I can’t wait to wear them in Portland!!

Not Always Knitting

Occasionally (very occasionally) I do something other than knit.

Shocking, I know.

This weekend I was presented with a problem that knitting couldn’t solve. This problem wasn’t actually mine – it was Sami’s – but I was enlisted to help come up with a solution. Here is what I devised, and Sami created.

The most impressive part, besides the fact that the hard covers were made by gluing (many, many) paper bags together (because I didn’t have any book boards), and that all of the inside sheets started out as loose leaf paper but were torn down to fit inside the journal, and that Sami sewed the binding herself is that these photos were taken by Sami, with my phone, in a moving car.

Three cheers for Sami! She truly rocks!

Completion Anxiety

As of yesterday morning, I had only a (short) sleeve and four little rows of edging to knit, then 12 buttons to sew on and some ends to tidy up in order to finish my “Crichton” sweater. I started the sleeve, then got distracted by the Wii, and dishes, and some laundry, and eventually, looking at my potential next project. When I finally sat down at 10:00pm to knit on poor little Crichton again, I was shocked that I’d only finished four rows of sleeve. I took a moment to contemplate what happened, and came to this conclusion:

I was having a bad case of completion anxiety.

Unlike the Yarn Harlot’s problem with her shawl, my anxiety stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure the sweater would fit me when I was done. I love the yarn, the color, and the pattern. But I’d made changes to the pattern, taking it from a very short cropped sweater to one that went down to my waist, and making the sleeves a bit longer as well, and if those alterations screwed up the sweater, I’d have no one to blame but myself.

What if, after all that knitting, it was too small?

I made a decision. I’d worked really hard on this sweater, and had (mostly) a great time doing it. If, after all those ends were sewn on, it was too little for me, I’d give it to someone else. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. And I know a lot of scrawny people – mostly my daughters and their friends – who would not only like the sweater, but have an appreciation for its journey into being.

So Crichton was finished and has had its bath.

Bath time for Crichton!

I usually block my sweaters by folding them in half in order to keep everything the same size and shape

Great buttons from Yardage Town that Max helped me pick out

Tubular bind off on bottom edge – stretchy and lovely and so worth the extra work!

When it’s dry, I’ll try it on. And if it doesn’t look good on me I’ll pass it on to someone else (oh, but now that it’s washed and laid out to dry, I think it will fit – YAY!), and consider making another one for me.

But not right away.