a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: knitting

Knit the Stash 2011: the Sock Yarn

Like any self-respecting knitter, I have a stash to be proud of. It’s full and constantly demanding more storage space and knitting time. I’ve added to it since beginning my most recent phase of knitting in 2005 and it’s currently contained in a plastic tote, two wicker baskets, and a few travel bags. It contains sock yarn, sweater yarn, “I have no idea” yarn, and hand-me-down yarn. Some of it is lovely wool or bamboo, some of it is blended, and some of it is acrylic that I’ve grown out of using. I’m attached to all of it and that’s why the stash is massive.

However, it’s time to make something of the collection, thus the Knit the Stash 2011 challenge. Over the next several Saturdays, I’ll be posting photos of the stash and thoughts on how the yarn will be used. Some of it will be knit up according to the original plan, some of it will be re-purposed and matched to a new and wonderful pattern, and some of it will likely be given away (I love blog giveaways!). I may also give away many of the knitted items.

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all the sock yarn in my collection, less one that's in a knitting bag in my car

 

I wrangled up all the sock yarn. All told, there is wool for 13 pairs of socks, maybe more with leftovers.

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Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

Sock Stash #1 – Jawoll Magic Superwash

I purchased this gorgeous superwash blend at A Yarn Over Marblehead December 2010 when I was shopping with my friend Alison B to get stuff for a cowl and mitts. This is a cute little store that has a good selection of yarn in a range from wool/acrylic blends for the timid beginner to high end designer wool for those heirloom projects. There was a single cubby for the Jawoll Magic Superwash and I was immediately drawn to the skein I adopted. I picked it up off the shelf immediately and carried it around the store for forty minutes before I made a final decision. The colors are perfect for spring and I can’t wait to have it knitted up and on my feet! I need to find the perfect pattern to showcase the colors. I’m thinking a simple rib would work.

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worth a second look - Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

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Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

 

Sock Stash #2 – Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

I’ve had good luck with the Knit Picks sock yarns. I know some knitters don’t like it, and that’s fine, but I have no problems with it so far. It’s priced well and my socks knit up their wool from a few years ago are just fine still. I loved this green color and it will work well for showing off a pattern with texture. I’m thinking a lacy pattern.

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Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

 

Sock Stash #3 – Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

There was a sale and I got this for a good price. Orange has been my color this year. After years of avoiding orange, I’ve been craving it!

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Knit Picks Essential in Lumber Jack Tweed

 

Sock Stash #4 – Knit Picks Essential in Lumberjack Tweed

A basic sock yarn that will show off a nice textured pattern.

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Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

 

Sock Stash #5 – Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

Another basic sock yarn for a textured pattern.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #6 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (blue)

I love this yarn. It has wool and bamboo! How can it get any better? The colors are soft and calming. I’m thinking a simple rib stitch pattern for this.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #7 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (brown)

This is the same as the other Plymouth yarn. Brown is such a nice color for socks, especially in the fall with a wheat colored sweater and a bright scarf.

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Austermann Step

 

Sock Stash #8 – Austermann Step

I love this yarn! I’ve bought a few skeins and knitted it up into socks, all for gifts, and loved every moment of knitting with this stuff. The wool is infused with aloe and it softened my fingers while knitting. I can just imagine how it would be for the feet!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #9 – hand spun and dyed wool, green

I was given this wool as a departure gift when I left my teaching position in Maine. My mentor teacher was also a knitter and she spun and dyed this for me. Aww!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #10 – hand spun and dyed wool, purple

My mentor teacher from Maine spun and dyed this one for me, too!

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Cascade 220

 

Sock Stash #11 – Cascade 220

I bought this stuff out of the “orphans” basket at Fiberphilia in 2007. I intended to make socks out of it, and still do, but I’ve started and frogged a few other projects with it in between.

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self-striping sock kit dyed for me as a gift

 

Sock Stash #12 – hand dyed wool, multi

Another hand-dyed gift from my mentor teacher in Maine. She used one of the self-striping kits from Knit Picks and went to town with the dye! It’s a crazy hodge-podge of color and I love it!

 

Opal

Sock Stash #13 – Opal

I bought this yarn at the Yard Goods Center in Waterville, ME back in 2007. I just cast on a pair of socks with it out of the Nancy Bush book, Knitting Vintage Socks.

* * *

So that’s the sock yarn stash! I’ll be knitting exclusively from the stash this year to whittle down the collection.

I also have a book goal but I’ll be writing about that on Sunday.

What are you working on this year? What ideas do you have to use what you have and save money? What are  your productivity goals?

Mittens and UFOs. Oh, my!

I’ve been working on making mittens for Gabe and his folks lately (1 of 3 so far!) and as I wrote about earlier, I made a huge leap in my mitten making. I won’t go into it again in this post, but you can read about it here. Instead of trying to explain what I did, let me refer to you the indispensable Knitting Help article with videos on Knitting Increases. I used the third method down on the chart, M1R and M1L. Why I didn’t think of using this method for increasing on thumb gussets before? Anyhow, I’m using them now and that’s all that matters.

I was unable to get some good pictures to share for a few days as the lighting in the apartment hasn’t been the best, and it’s been too cold to go outside and get pictures in my favorite local park. I have some now, though! Here they are:

Classic Mitten for Gabe

Mitten one and mitten two on the needles.

 

Classic Mitten for Gabe

See what I mean about holes? When I stopped correcting the twist, I stopped making holes.

***

In response to my attempt at making her recipe, Chocolate-Covered Katie wrote in the comments:

Oh you are TOO sweet!! :) :) :)
Seeing this post just made my day. Your blog is adorable!

Well, thank you, Katie! I love your blog, too! I hope I can do your recipe justice soon!

***

On the original mitten post, Mittens:  A Knitter’s JourneyTK wrote in the comments:

I love making mittens. My favorite part is the thumb gusset–I always use the M1 or lifted increase, unless I’m following a pattern with a different style of thumb. For some reason my ease is always off and my mittens are very snug. Except the thumb, which is nearly always perfect.

I see what you mean, TK! This is such an efficient and beautiful way of making increases.

***

In an email to me, Jennifer R. wrote:

Thanks for updating me!  I hadn’t read your blog before and just read your latest post on mittens.  I don’t normally read text posts all the way through, but this was a very heartwarming story. 🙂  You’ve just given me such a great idea of knitting hats for charity – I just learned how to make hats and it seems like the perfect useful gift for someone!

Thank you, Jennifer R., for your kind words! It means a lot that you had such a great experience reading the post. It reminded me, as well, that I haven’t done as much charity knitting as I used to and would like to. You’ve inspired me to make that a greater part of my day!

After finishing Robert’s Scott Pilgrim hat, I had a skein of blue and brown wool left. I woke up Saturday morning and had a burst of inspiration for charity knitting! I’ll be posting a colorwork chart for baby and kid hats soon! Stay tuned!

***

FebisforFinisingroseandblack

Did you know that February is for Finishing? As stated in the rules, I must have a complete list of UFOs (unfinished objects) by February 1. I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon. (March is for making mates for all those mittens and socks!)

***

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Tea-for-one pot, bone china cup, and citrus to fight off a cold with beauty and VitC

I’m nursing the cold I wrote about yesterday with ginger, thyme, lemon, and honey tea. Little things, like pretty tea-for-one pots and pretty bone china cups, make cold season more tolerable.

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Pretty tea pot!

 

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Gabe gave me a set of four for my birthday. He's a keeper, for sure!

***

Stay warm! Enjoy your Tuesday!

Mittens: A Knitter’s Journey.

Image from the pattern of my favorite mitten "recipe."

 

I grew up with two grandmothers whom loved knitting. I was lucky to have them as mentors. Nonnie, my mother’s mother, sent boxes of mittens to us every winter in every color and size imaginable. Some of them were knit in acrylic, some in wool. I didn’t know the difference in material then, but I did know the difference in quality. The mittens Nonnie made lasted longer, so long as they didn’t get lost, than gloves or mittens purchased from a store.

Nana, my father’s mother and the knitter I thank for teaching me, as far as I remember anyway, knit sweaters mostly. She was working on a brown and pink cardigan for me in her final days of a losing battle with lung cancer; she never finished it. My aunt, Kelly, finished it. She, too, knits and would send us boxes of mittens each winter as well.

When the mittens arrived, I would study them carefully and wonder that anyone could make such things! I had no idea how one would go from cuff to thumb to fingertips. All I could manage at the time was miles and miles of flat garter stitch on my powder blue size 6 Susan Bates needles Nana gave me.

I began knitting at Nana Sirois’s knee in Byron on those size 6 needles when I was about the same age as the needle size. Wrapping the yarn around my finger, then transferring it to the needle opened a doorway to a world of creation and meditation that I hope never closes. Those beginning days of learning the knit stitch are still with me:  up through the window, around the back, down through the window, and off jumps Jack. With brows furrowed in concentration, I murmured those words as I taught my fingers to coordinate the needles and yarn.

My second year of college I grew weary of garter stitch pot-holders, dish clothes, and scarves and yearned for something more challenging; I had been knitting nothing but garter stitch for about fourteen years at that point. The resident assistant on my floor in my dorm knit and proudly showed off her hats to admirers. I asked her to teach me.

Then I knit boxes full of hats and shipped them off to shelters and other need-based organizations accepting donations.

I soon grew restless again. It was time to learn to make mittens.

Scouring the web, I found patterns but none that gave me the support I thought I needed to learn how to make this particular garment. Then I came across Katharina Buss and her book on knitting. This book is where I learned how to knit by gauge, how to adapt patterns for various sizes, and how to knit colorwork. And yes, she taught me how to knit mittens.

That first pair though. Oy! It pains me to think back on that pair now.

By this time, I was in graduate school. I cracked open Buss’s book and set out to make my first pair of mittens. I had a lovely lavender wool to work with and I was off to the races.

The cuff knit up just fine in a basic knit two, purl two rib. But when I got to the thumb gusset, that’s when I made my first error. I misread the pattern. It told me to increase by one stitch on both sides of the first thumb gusset stitch. No problem. But then, I continued to increase by two on both sides of the gusset, not the one stitch on each side as the pattern meant. By the time I had knit up the rows in the pattern, I had something like 50 stitches for the thumb, instead of the 15-17 that is typical! And I didn’t know the difference somehow. I continued knitting along and thought everything was fine. I made the second mitten for the set to match. Ay-yai-yai! The thumbs on that pair of mittens would have been appropriate for someone who’d just smashed their thumb with a hammer.

Luckily, the next pair was better and I learned. I’ve been cranking out the mittens since.

My most recent breakthrough with this garment, and the inspiration behind sharing this history of mitten-making, is learning a more effective and aesthetically pleasing way of making the thumb gusset increases.

I just finished the first mitten of a set for Gabe and when I came to the thumb gusset increases, instead of wrapping the yarn around the needle to make a new stitch like I would have in the past, I decided to try another form of increasing:  I picked up the back side of the stitch on the row previous that was between the stitches where I wanted the increase. I used this method through three rounds of increases. On the fourth, instead of correcting the twist from picking up that stitch, I left it twisted. This created a hole-less and smooth increase. It looks great!

For those embarking on the journey of mitten knitting, I’d like to share the mitten recipe that will help you make mittens for everyone you know! Classic Mittens from Free Vintage Knitting. If you have questions about mitten knitting, or knitting in general, please feel free to contact me via the new contact form on the “About The Girl” tab.

It’s Saturday! Enjoy your day! I’ll be knitting. 🙂

A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve intentionally held off from posting because of how worked up I was about some specific parts of the holidays. And now that those are over, and I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to write again.

You might want to take a potty break now. Fill your water glass, or grab a mug of tea or coffee. It’s a long one.

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Greetings, December.

Is it really December?

That means my birthday is in a week. The (maternal side) family party is in a little over two weeks. Winter solstice is in twenty days. And then we usher in a new year in thirty.

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Yule Preparations

I’ve been coughing up my intestines for about nine days now, and felt crummy for about a week before that. It’s that time of year. I’ve been through more boxes of tissues than I’ve managed to keep track of. It’s been oh so fun.

While I’ve been sitting on the Queen Anne recliner in the living room working through my Netflix queue, I’ve been working on the reversible cable and lace scarf in Frog Tree Alpaca (fingering weight). I love the pattern. After about five inches, I memorized the eight rows (four really, as on the second row four, you cable twist and that’s the only difference) and it’s knitting up fast. I just attached the second skein and will probably be through it by the end of the day tomorrow. Photos to come.

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Dreaming in Color.

I ❤ Autumn.

I’ve knit four feet on Gabe’s scarf. The colors are intoxicating. Why don’t we weave more color into our lives? Live in full color instead of monochrome? I have a lot of existential questions on my mind. That’s what happens in the fall when the leaves start swirling around my feet. The crisp cool air and the increase of orange in the landscape leads my mind back to the search for knowledge.

This urge to dig into books and steep meaning from the pages has me melancholy. A teaching position just doesn’t seem to be working out, again, this year. Lots of reasons:  the economy is still tough, saturated market, etc. But that doesn’t make being sidelined another year any easier to swallow. So, instead of stewing in my misery and getting depressed, I’m getting mentally active.

I started taking a serious look at grad school again. I have no idea which program(s) I’ll apply to, but I’m looking. I would *love* to do an English lit program. Special Education would be worthwhile, too. But, I always wanted to go all the way with English literature. When I started my Bachelor’s program, I saw myself going all the way to a PhD with it. My roommate at the time, who was also an English major, but later dropped out for a radiology program, always a very practical person, asked me, “So, what are you going to do with it?” I never had a good answer. But I do now:  to enrich my life and my inner world. To give voice to and unleash the insatiable thirst for knowledge that I’ve always had. So I’m looking at schools.

In the meantime, I’m still reading for my blog project of pairing the cryptozoological adaptations with the classic novels. I’m knitting. I’m tidying and organizing the apartment with Gabe’s tireless and cheerful help. I run and plan for road races. And I dream.

That’s what I’ve been doing the most lately. Dreaming. And it’s been wonderful.

I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Bits and Pieces

cozied up at home

I feel like writing today. It’s been a while.

It’s a chilly, grey, rainy day here on the north shore and my thoughts have turned to warmth and comfort. I pulled out a sweater from the tub I hauled down to the basement a month ago, slipped into some jeans, wrapped a scarf around my neck and settled into a book first thing this morning. It has been a while since the house has been quiet like this for quiet reflection and reading. I sipped on coffee made with lowfat milk and honey in my new Emerson mug. Perfect.

the house I rented in Maine

new transitions

My thoughts drifted back to autumns and winters past, the little comforts for chill days, and how different my present is, and how much greater the difference will be in five weeks. I went from renting a house in rural Maine were I chopped and split and hauled my own fire wood to soon living in an apartment building in the up-and-coming part of Boston with amenities I never dreamed of having at my finger tips. Worlds apart.

the roof deck of my new home

In Maine, I had organic farms and farm stands a few streets away, chickens in my back yard that ate bugs off my herbs and vegetables, and fruit trees. I was blessed with an abundance of food that could easily be traced to its roots. Boston has Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers’ markets, too, but it’s different. I’m not sure which I preferred. Maine was wonderful, but living in Boston where I will be commuting to gather groceries by means of public transit will be a new and interesting experience. Maintaining my organic, green, healthy lifestyle in 750 square foot apartment in Boston has given me a new focus for blog writing.

I look forward to the new experience of getting on the silver line and having time to think and observe while going to gather food. I look forward to the bustling farmers’ market full of new and wonderful things. And I look forward to a new opportunity to start fresh and make more adjustments in my diet for a healthier life. This whole experience will be new. And I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it presents.

reading

I curled up with The Eyre Affair, a novel on loan from my friend Jose. I’m working on zipping through so I can return it to him at his farewell party in two weeks. I inadvertently slammed the book when I last saw him at a gaming event by saying something to the effect of I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now and haven’t had a chance to finish it yet to which he replied something to the effect of so there are a bunch of books you like better than this one. So I’m trying to make up for it by actually finishing the book and coming up with an honest review of it.

I’ve been in a book gathering mood of late and have picked up the first four books of The Dark Tower, of which I’m in the middle of book two, an annotated complete works of Milton, the Divine Comedy, and the new instant classics of Little Women and Werewolves as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ll never have enough books. I’m doomed to living in a book-lined home.

hand and home crafts

Nothing much going on with needle crafts such as cross-stitching or knitting. Per usual, I have a ton of UFOs sitting around that need some attention. The hexacomb cardigan has been set aside until I have an opportunity to fix some errors using EZ’s “no tears” method. The hexacomb pattern became a spiral when I was under the influence of Vicodin. I haven’t had the spirit to fix it since I discovered the error.

gaming and geekery

I picked up copies of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII this weekend. I look forward to settling in and playing them through this summer. I also picked up the first volume of some comics:  Lenore, The Wizard of Oz, and The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to purchase the whole of each.

That’s what I’m up to and some of what I’ve been thinking about. I hope all is well with you!

Much love. Black Sheep.