1. Reflecting on My Summer Spinning Ramage

    October 14, 2014 by Carol

    Photo of a soft, fluffy pile of cormo pencil roving

    My summer of family fun was also filled with lots of spinning.  I was just in the mood for it and enjoying myself immensely.

    First up was “Frothy,” a delicious, pink blend of Cormo, Border Leicester, Coopworth, and silk from Fiber Trends that I finished plying in early June.

    “Frothy” called to me in the depths of winter and although I don’t think of myself as a pink girl, I couldn’t resist her siren song.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  This was fun to spin, fun to ply, and I keep looking at it and petting it and dreaming of what this 500+ yards of DK weight yarn will become.  Probably a shawl.

    “Frothy” was spun up on the Majacraft Suzie Pro that I am fostering for a friend of a friend.  So I decided that the next project would be on my own Louet S15, who hadn’t been used all winter.  I chose another Fiber Trends roving that I picked up in February at the Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair.  Called “Peacock,” it’s a blend of alpaca and wool in wild, but subdued colors, kind of like a tartan: burgundy, blue, orange, yellow.

    Photo of fiber on a spindle

    The alpaca in “Peacock” was too slippy for my mighty Louet S15, which kept ripping it out of my hands, making the the spinning No Fun.  After about of week, I did the big girl thing and switched tools, to my Schacht Hi-Lo spindle.  Now we are getting on.  Spindle projects are always slow going for me because it is not the project I reach for first.  Here in early October, the “Peacock” spindling is still ongoing, with no end in sight.

    In mid-August I decided to clear out some leftover singles and practice my navajo plying.  I made quick work of Rambouillet leftovers and then took on the wheel-spun Peacock singles.  I’m happy with how these turned out although I struggled to get the n-ply going.

    Then I started spinning the green glitter mohair batt (wool/mohair/silk noils/glitter).  This was one of those fibers I probably would have never bought for myself and I am so glad Julie destashed it in my direction because I learned a lot!  First, mohair is fun and easy to spin owing to its looooong staple length.  Second, a little bit of glitter (like angelina or firestar, not confetti) isn’t obnoxious at all; it just peeks out here and there.  Third, I might want to try making some blended batts of my own soon.  Just for the fun of it.

    I spun this 8 oz up in about a week, which is pretty fast for my multicraftual self. It was so fun that it had my full attention — while watching Life on Mars with Matt in the evening (I like the UK original version better, but we ultimately watched both series).

    About two weeks later — slowed down by the start of the school year, etc — I navajo plied the leftover singles.  That was a lot less successful (it’s worse in real life than in these pictures).  I’m not sure why, but maybe it needed more twist in the ply.  No tears though, this was just a practice with leftovers and gives me stuff to think about.

    I also navajo plied (on the wheel) some leftovers from the yarn I spindle-spun for Julie as a thank you gift.  Also less successful, also done on the same night as the green glitter mohair n-ply so another theory I have is that I was just off my game that night.

    This clearing out of leftovers was all in preparation to finish a years-old project.  I got this red and gray probably-Tunis from a local vendor when she closed up shop.  Red is not really my color so this was purely for the practice of spinning.  I started spinning it on an friend’s Ashford Traveler, even plied up two skeins of it, then wound the remaining singles on to cardboard tubes when the wheel went back to its owner.

     

     

    I wound the singles on to my Louet bobbins, had some trouble with directionality and I think I had to ply that last skein the opposite way of what I normally do, but no worries, I am just making yarn, not winning prizes here.  One of the things I tried while spinning this fiber was playing around with blending the red and grey in some areas and separating the colors in other areas.  I am interested to see how that looks when knit up.  The wool is a bit scratchy, so it is definitely destined for outerwear.

    Now I am working on spinning some dark grey cormo pencil roving.  This wool is very clean and smooth and soft.  So soft!  At first it was a bit of a challenge to spin on my mighty Louet S15.  I really like spinning on that wheel, but it has a powerful take up owing to its bobbin-led drive.  But I found that if I get just the right draw on the cormo, it’s not a fight.  I’m already halfway through!

    What’s on your wheel or spindle?


  2. The Shawl Collar Cowl Is a Hug Around Your Neck

    September 30, 2014 by Carol

    A photo of Matt modeling his new Shawl Collar Cowl

    Earlier this year I started a Pinterest board for my knit-worthy family members to pin things they’d like me to make them — primarily knitting, but there are no rules … and no guarantees.  I got the idea from my friend Tiffany after hearing that another friend of hers started a shared board for people to pin things to that they wanted Tiffany to make for them.  Tiffany obligingly follows through, good soul that she is.

    My Make for Me board is a lot of fun for me to look through.  It’s interesting to see who is pinning to the board and what is catching each person’s eye.  If you are on Pinterest, I recommend setting up a shared board or three.  Matt and I also use a shared board for recipes and that has worked out well.

    One of the items on the Make for Me board is the Purl Bee‘s Shawl Collar Cowl.  If you’ve been reading here during the past twelve months, this pattern will be familiar; I tried to make one for my brother last December and tragically ran out of yarn.

    photo of an unfinished Shawl Collar Cowl

    But the idea wouldn’t die.  Matt decided he really wanted one for himself.

    That gave me the perfect excuse for a tiny yarn bender last month when Abbey and went to Ewe-Nique Yarns in Brighton for a little therapy shopping.  I knit this cowl out of Cascade 128  Superwash in loden green and beige (not the official color names).

    A photo of my finished Shawl Collar Cowl laying on the table

    Let me tell you, this this li’l fiction of garter rib and stockinette is no stroll in the park.  You might think it’s an easy-peasy pattern. Or you might think the tricky part is the cross over.  No, no, no.

    A photo of Matt modeling his new Shawl Collar Cowl

    You know what kicked my ass?  The increases.  I’ve been knitting ardently for twelve years and I was nearly felled by the four different M1 (make one) increases in the tightly knit stockinette liner.  I got holes, I got stitches slanting the wrong way, I missed increases entirely — it was a hot mess.  Repeatedly!  After ripping and re-knitting the first half dozen rows three times, I wrote out every row on scratch paper, along with a shorthand description of the increases, and then I was able to make progress.

    A photo of Matt modeling his new Shawl Collar Cowl

    During this ten day adventure, I got a message from a fellow knitter on Ravelry who found my in-progress cowl and asked me how my project was going and if I was having as much trouble as she was with the dart decreases.  First time in seven years on Ravelry I’ve had a message like that.  Oh the pathos!

    A photo of Matt modeling his Shawl Collar Cowl

    She found her way out of the woods, as did I, but I’m here to tell you that, while the Shawl Collar Cowl pattern looks modest and unassuming, it’s actually rather spicy and takes some attention to accomplish. Lesson learned: stick to basic socks for mindless knitting.


  3. The Gray Got to Me

    September 9, 2014 by Carol

    Last year I started these socks:

    The cuff of gray wool socks knit out of Paton's Kroy on double pointed needles

    It was July.  It was my birthday, in fact.  I thought I was safe from the curse of knitting a gray project in winter.

    Alas, I was overcommitted on projects and my work on these progressed very slowly.

    Before I knew it, it was winter.  Have I complained enough about the long, cold, snowy winter of 2013-14?  Yeah, somewhere around the fifth snow day following the Winter Vacation of Vomit, I threw these socks in the bottom of a project bag, faintly promising myself I would come back to them when they stopped reminding me of sadness.

    So I picked them back up again this summer, in August, and I knew I had to get them done QUICK because the long range forecasts for the upcoming winter are bad for Michigan.  You can read that as:

    1. I need some wool socks before the snow flies, and;
    2. I can’t be knitting anything gray when the snow flies.

    I had the first, half-knit sock done in a week and the whole shebang done by the time school started.

    But I did a thing to make them happy grey socks.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love Patons, but I am reexamining my relationship with neutrals.)  I took some leftover sock yarn from my Jaywalkers — knit in Conjoined Creations Flat Feet — and added in some brightly colored toes.  Yey!  Color = happiness!

    Handknit gray wool socks

     

    What do you think?

    Next time I’ll do stripes.  I have more grey, white, and black Patons — and lots of colorful fingering weight yarns — and I have learned my lesson.


  4. Week #1: What We Did With Our CSA Share

    June 4, 2014 by Carol

    A photograph of a salad with cucumbers

    I do grow some of the vegetables my family eats, but the garden has been hard for me to maintain for the past several years, so this year we downsized the the vegetable garden and signed up for a CSA half-share with Tantre Farm in Chelsea, Michigan.  (Read more about community supported agriculture here.)

    Tantre is well-regarded locally, but I didn’t fall under their spell until my daughter’s preschool took a field trip to the farm.  It is a magical place — welcoming, hardworking, and kid-friendly.

    This is not my first CSA, but it is my first since having kids.  We decided to hedge our bets and split a share with some good friends of ours.  Since there’s only two of them — and they’re not vegetarian — they were only too happy to go halfsies.

    Here’s my record of what we received and what we did with our Wednesday box of mystery!  All amounts were halved unless otherwise noted.

    Week One

    Arugula, Asparagus, Sorrel, Green Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radish, Rapini, Sauerkraut, Spicy Salad Mix, Spinach

    Arugula: We received both Astro and Sylvetta (aka wild rocket).  We used some of it in a dinner salad on Saturday and the rest went into pasta sauce on Monday night.  I’m not completely sure which type went into which dish.  I had figured out which was which (Sylvetta is more deeply lobed and pungent than Astro), but I wasn’t involved with Saturday’s meal prep and Monday’s meal happened really fast.

    Asparagus: We didn’t get a lot of this — after splitting, I think it was 4 big stalks — but we added to them a few spears from our own asparagus bed and they were roasted with oil and salt for Saturday night’s meal.

    Sorrel: I haven’t used it yet!  I have some in my own garden (a VERY winter hardy vegetable and yet it took a beating this past winter) and want to make Sorrel soup with it.

    Green Onions: First of all, they’re huge.  Easily twice as thick and twice as long as the ones you buy at the grocery store.  I forgot to use them in my pasta sauce so they’re still in the fridge.  My mother gave me the idea last night to plant them so I might do that!  Green onions are perennial and I have some growing in my garden already.

    Parsnips: There were about 4 or so small ones and I gave them all to my friend because Matt does not like the flavor of parsnips.

    Potatoes: We each got a quart of German Butterball and I still have mine (potatoes keep well!).  Maybe we’ll make oven fries or hashbrowns with them tonight because we’re having eggs and oatmeal (aka BFD, breakfast for dinner).

    Radishes: We got about 8-10 French Breakfast radishes after splitting. My five-year-old and I ate these with lunch on Saturday.  Yes, I am not kidding even a little bit about that.  Yes, I was also surprised.  We had them with dipping dishes of oil and salt, which I learned from my soon-to-be sister in law, who swears to me that radishes are just vehicles for salt.

    Rapini: Also known as broccoli raab, this one was tricky.  I was all for cooking it, but my weekend chefs decided to put it raw into a salad.  The salad disappeared so no harm done, but I kind of hope we get more so I can try it my way.

    Sauerkraut: We got a half jar of pickled watermelon radish made by the Brinery a very new local business that is in partnership with Tantre Farm.  It is zippy and yummy.  Matt kept putting it on hot dogs this past week (we had a lot leftover from a cub scout picnic) and I ate it as a side dish with my lunches.  We’re about halfway through our half jar.  It will get more tangy as time goes on.

    Spicy Salad Mix: This went so fast.  It was used for some sandwiches, etc, but ultimately ended up in Saturday night’s big salad.

    Spinach: It was used on sandwiches, but I think I still have most of the spinach!  Of course, last week I only just finished off the bag of spinach I received three weeks before at our membership meeting.  I couldn’t believe how long it kept — talk about fresh!  If we get more spinach this week, I might cook it with some bacon to make greens in the style that my mother-in-law’s family makes.  That or it goes into a salad.

    That’s week 1.  In less than an hour, I am going to pick up our Week 2 box.

    In other local food news, a friend gave me a dozen eggs from her suburban chickens yesterday (hence the dinner we’re planning) and my son is taking great pleasure in picking greens from the deck planter to put on his daily lunch sandwich.  I planted mesclun seeds a month ago on a whim because it was too cold to put in the flowers yet.  Then the squirrels or chipmunks dug around so it’s rather uneven, but as I like to tell people when they express nervousness about gardening: the plants WANT to grow!  And grow they did.

    It sounds like we eat a lot of sandwiches, doesn’t it?  Not really, except maybe the boy, who is picky.


  5. My Inner Child Wants Everything to Be Rainbow-Colored: Afghan Edition

    May 21, 2014 by Carol

    Raise your hand if you remember me starting a scrap project to use up the yarn left over from the scrap blanket I made for my daughter when she was born.

    Yes, I am a serial scrap blanket maker.  I pull out a pile of yarn (or fabric or cut up t-shirts… my desires to both thrift and make things feed each other), decide I am going to use it all up on a scrap project, choose a project, start said project, run out of something and go buy more materials, finish said project, and then — and only then — realize that I have more materials left than when I started.  Doh!

    First there was Squeaky, the quilterly knitted blanket I made for my daughter (ostensibly to use up random balls of Wool-Ease) while I waited for her to spring, fully formed, from my womb.  Which, she pretty much did if you’ve ever heard THAT story.  Oh and I ended up buying a lot of yarn to make the colors in the blanket work.  Wool-Ease has a weird palette.

    About six exhausting months later, I lit upon the idea to crochet an afghan to use up Squeaky’s leftovers.  I had spied a pattern that was basically a giant granny square, but looked like an Around the World quilt.  I’m not much of a hooker, but I can handle a granny square.  So I lined up my leftover Wool-Ease and soon realized I had a rainbow palette.  Well, almost.  I just had to buy a bit more yarn.  [Cue scary music.]

    Four and a half years later, the rainbow afghan of my dreams and nightmares is finished.

    Photo of a crocheted afghan in rainbow stripes

     

    What else do I have to say about this project?  I didn’t work on it constantly.  In fact, years passed sometimes between putting hook to wool.  It was really fun at first because crochet is FAST.

    Also, I am never actually sad to buy more yarn, which this project amusingly and repeatedly required to be completed to my spec of 4 repeats.  It has 13 different colors, 12 Wool-Ease, 1 Plymouth Encore (light blue) because Lion discontinued the delft colorway.  (Why do companies get rid of good, basic, timeless colors like baby blue?  It’s Lion’s loss ultimately because now I have seen the Plymouth Yarns website and know what an amazing palette their wool-acrylic blend Encore has.)

    About 2/3 of the way through this project, the rows became very long, hours to finish just one, and it was a slog.  I just wanted to be done.  I could have stopped at any time, but stubborn ol’ me wanted to stick to The Plan.

    So I did.  And now the rainbow afghan lives on my couch and gets fought over — when we’re not all four crammed together with it draped over us.


  6. When Your Space Heater Dies in May, Knit Up Some Fingerless Mitts

    May 20, 2014 by Carol

    Feels a little bit like I’m living in a Dickens novel, but I am stubborn enough to wait until fall when space heaters are available again at the corner hardware store.

    Photo of a fingerless mitt.

    Meanwhile, in this cold spring, after working for an hour or two in my basement office, my hands ache from the cold.

    It probably goes without saying, but taciturn I am not: it is really hard to take pictures of your own hands when one is using a cell phone.  Do I have a fancy camera that attaches to a tripod and has a timer?  Yes.  It is a DSLR hand-me-down (oh, but we paid for it) from my fancy brother.  I wish I knew how to use it better.  I also wish there were 25 hours in the day, but my tiny tyrant is home in an hour and I need to get this posted, pronto.

    Photo of a fingerless mitt.

    I take breaks from grousing to admire my lovely Pageturner Mitts knit out of Noro Silk Garden.  The yarn was a random lone skein I had and lone skeins, especially those that are beautiful, are so hard to do something with.  Maybe that’s just me.  Now I want to make myself a pair of mitts for every day of the week.  The pattern is the classic and elegant, yet simple Pageturner Mitts by Sarah Jo Burch.  I cast on 40 stitches instead of 30 because I wanted some extra coverage.  I knit each block of garter 6.5″ before sewing up, which gives a nice amount of negative ease.

    Pageturner Mitts would make a great quick gift if you use a beautiful yarn, like Noro Silk Garden, or something tonal or handpainted.

    I finished these on Mother’s Day weekend and haven’t even worn them out of the house, but they are getting noticed.  My five-year-old thinks they’re the bees knees and keeps stealing them so I am making her a pair.  She is normally into pink, as our species demands of these young females, and when I pulled out pink yarn for her she said, “No, I want orange.”  Okay darling, I will make you orange ones.  And I am.

    Matt laughed to see me wandering the house in May, wearing wooly-silky fingerless mitts and all I have to say to that is: polar vortex.  It is still happening, my friends, even if it is only in my mind.  It may not be snowing, but damn this weather continues to be weird.

     


  7. Dressing Up the Holidays

    March 3, 2014 by Carol

    Close-up of Abby's stocking

    My brother, Noah, was the catalyst for the other holiday gift knitting experience.

    Last summer Noah asked me if I could secretly knit a pair of Christmas stockings for himself and his fiancée, Abby.  He likes the set of handknit colorwork stockings I made for my house.

    My family's handknit Christmas stockings

     

    These stockings are knit from Nancy Bush‘s pattern, Christmas in Tallinn, published several places, but the only souce that matters is her excellent book Knitting on the Road.  I made the first one, the red one, in 2005 for my infant son; Matt’s green stocking was made in 2006; my blue one was made in 2007; and then I had a year reprieve until our daughter came along in 2009.  She got a purple stocking.  I substituted the yarn Bush’s pattern calls for, Dalegarn Tiur, for Dalegarn Heilo simply because I liked the Heilo palette better.  (This was, by the way, the first time I was bit in the ass by yarn substitution.  Tiur is 109 yards.  Heilo is 126 yards.)

    E's Christmas stocking

    Noah left me in full creative control, so I of course immediate sought out ways to make this project as difficult as possible.  First, I had to design my own.  Second, if one design was fun, then two new designs were twice as fun!  (Right?!)  Third, the yarn (O!  The yarn!).

    Abby's Christmas stocking, designed by me

    I really enjoyed picking out colorwork patterns for these designs.  I found everything I wanted, and pretty quickly, in Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.  For the top of Abby’s stocking (green), I chose a boy-and-girl motif; for Noah’s stocking (orange), I chose reindeer.  The body patterns on each of their stockings come from the same 19th-century sweater: one was the pattern on the back and the other was the pattern on the front.

    Noah's Christmas stocking

    Can you imagine knitting that sweater?  Maybe…

    There was some math to work out to make these motifs go together, resulting in Noah’s stocking being noticeably larger.  Noah has no problem with this.

    As for the yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, it wasn’t my favorite.  Noah and I chose it based on wide color palette and affordable price, but it has just about put me off superwash yarn for the rest of my life.  It did not hold up well to repeated ripping and reknitting, coming un-plied and… for lack of a better descriptor, flacid.

    Of course then my friend pointed out that many of the high-end end yarns, like Mashtosh and Tanis and Plucky Knitter, are superwash now so never say die.


  8. Okay, So the Gift Knitting Wasn’t All Roses

    January 20, 2014 by Carol

    socks of brotherly love

    I didn’t tell you the entire story of my holiday gift knitting in the last post.

    My parents and siblings decided this year to scrap the round robin of individual gifts in favor of the secret santa system — which wasn’t even secret, not that any of us heathens cared.  So you can imagine my relief when evil-me went from trying to talk good-me into making a whole bunch of stuff — starting, oh, mid-November — to sane-me realizing I could still crank out a gift knit because I only had to make ONE.

    I got my brother’s name.  Noah is awesome, fashionable, self-reflective, sensitive.  In other words: a great recipient of handknits.

    Noah!

    I started off making Noah Purl Soho’s Shawl Collar Cowl in Malabrigo Chunky — Lettuce on the outside, Natural (white) on the inside.  The yarn came from my stash, the project was working up quickly.  At Thanksgiving, I asked Noah’s fiancée Abby what kind of handknit he would like and she said “a cowl” and told me how he tried to buy one on Etsy and it was too long and girlish.  I felt like a champ!  The Shawl Collar Cowl is so chic and manly and I was going to solve Noah’s problem.  And he was going to look smashing in that lettuce green, if I do say so.

    my beautiful failure

    How does the saying go?  If it’s too good to be true… Well, perfection was far from achieved: I ran out of yarn.  Although I had researched what yarn would be a good substitute and looked up the needle size, I never checked how much yarn I needed.  Why, I cannot say.  This is not my first time at the rodeo.  (This is not the first time I have made this mistake, either, arg!)

    Worse yet, this college town has gone, in five years, from having three yarn stores to having half a yarn store.  The remaining half store is downtown, where no one who doesn’t work downtown wants to go.  But go I went — and on the Saturday before Christmas no less.  I knew it was a long shot, that I might have to start over in a new color rather than just alternate between dye lots, but at least this place specializes in Malabrigo.  I still had hope that this project would be saved.

    (There’s that foreshadowing of doom again, eh?)

    I do believe I gasped out loud when I walked in to this very small shop.  Admittedly I had not been there in a year or more and I knew the owner had been scaling back the yarn portion of her business (she also sells clothing and jewelry). Eyes as wide as saucers, I gaped like a fish for a moment before finally choking out the question, “Where’s all the yarn?” to the owner.  The shelves and walls set aside for yarn were nearly empty — altogether there was only an armful of yarn in that shop.  The needle wall was almost empty.  My stomach sank to the floor as I realized: I have more yarn in my house than this shop now carries.

    You might be tempted to conclude that there was a run on her small stock as people grabbed all the yarntastic gifts, but no.  The owner patiently explained that Malabrigo, the small cooperative, cannot keep up with the demand of her customers, so people are putting themselves on a waitlist and when it comes in, she calls.  A month later and I am still aghast at this… solution?  I am sure I don’t know all of what is going on in her store, but isn’t this the kind of thing that a dozen online businesses are doing, only faster?  And charging less?  And if you can’t keep yarn on the shelf, but still have empty shelves, why wouldn’t you carry another brand?  This used to be the place to go for Reynolds brand yarns, as well, including Lopi.  I didn’t see that at all.

    At this point I could have gone to the big box store and gotten something else so I could forge ahead, but I decided to cash in my chips and cast on a pair of socks.  There was now no way I could finish in time and I used a precious skein of Trekking XXL that I had been saving for myself, but it seemed that some kind of sacrifice was demanded by nature in order to make this vicious cycle of WTF end.

    socks of brotherly love

    Noah was gracious about opening up part of a gift that wasn’t finish and I know he looks forward to these extra special  socks.  I’m still not done with Noah’s holiday socks because I  tried to pull off some other knitting miracle for my husband’s January birthday.  But first, I have one more gift knit to tell you about.  And this one is truly epic (the knitting, not the story).  Here’s a preview:

    IMG_0233


  9. The Gift of Gift Knitting

    January 17, 2014 by Carol

    It’s really no fun to read about how crummy someone’s vacation was so we won’t dwell on it.  I’ve only just recovered, psychologically, this week.  Farewell, 2013!  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

    The BEST part of winter break, for me, this year was seeing how genuinely happy my husband and children were upon opening their handknit gifts.  Does that sound too cute and saccharine?  It’s true.  There were big Os of surprise, there were smiles, thanks, hugs, and kisses from four through thirty-six.  GO ME!

    boot socks

    (It does help that I have made it clear that the best way to get on the handknit list is to appreciate the things I make, sincerely and loudly.  This elf is making her own kind of list and checking it twice.)

    For the past few years – in my efforts to enjoy the winter holiday season rather than just survive it – I’ve stepped way back from trying to make something for EVERYONE (that’s 11+ people).  It seems like a good idea in the planning stage (I looooove the planning stage), but the execution of the plan goes on too long for my available knitting time.  There’s the amount of knitting time I actually have and what I wish I had or sometimes just think I have.

    Full disclosure: I was on the crazy holiday knitting train at times this season.  And then I got off.  Got on. Off.

    red scarf

    I try to have a pair of socks on the needle for one of the four of us at all times.  So when Z’s latest pair came off the needles in mid-November, I decided it was serendipity and tossed it in the gift knits basket.  Then I saw, in that basket, a lovely, drapey, moss stitch scarf in heathered burgundy Paton’s Classic Wool.  Guess who likes burgundy?  Not me.  But Matt does.  (Like me, his favorite color is green, so this really wasn’t obvious to me or him while I was knitting this scarf, off and on, for a couple, um, years.)

    purple mittens

    That only left my four-year-old, who could use a handknit pair of mittens.  Something to balance out all the pink and leopard print.  I finished on Christmas Eve, after tucking my puking children and husband into bed.

    She, by the way, wins at appreciating my work.  She reminds me almost daily how much she loves her mittens. Aw! Her savvy father, in between appreciations, has already put in his request for a Purl Soho Shawl Collar Cowl.

    I wish I had better pictures to share, but here I am, working at home, and my family and all their handknits are out of the house.  The dark purple of those mittens is especially difficult to capture at this gloomy time of year, while attached to a four-year-old.  More information and photos are available on their Ravelry project pages, linked above.  An account on Ravelry is required to view.

    How did your handknit holidays go?


  10. Knitting in the Dark

    November 25, 2013 by Carol

    Matt and I went to see Thor 2 this weekend and I realized I didn’t have any “easy” knitting so I grabbed a ball of sock yarn and 2.50mm DPNs. Matt thinks it’s pretty incredible that socks are what I consider easy knitting — as opposed to a scarf — and I think this is because a scarf requires a lot of forethought for me.  Who is it going to? What color, how soft, can it be in wool, and what stitch pattern?  Which needles and how wide and how many stitches to cast on?  The problem is that I don’t have a scarf recipe.  There are too many variables.

    For socks I just need some fingering wool (blended with about 15% nylon for durability) and size 2.25mm or 2.50mm needles.  I also need to think about how big the recipient’s leg is — and generally I just do 72 stitches for adults, so that thought process doesn’t take long.

    For these I cast on–you guess it–72 stitches and had joined in the round and knit the first round by the time the lights went down.

    Maybe I should name these Bifrost Socks?

    Maybe I should name these Bifrost Socks?

    I had one sticky bit where I dropped a stitch, and then another while I was trying to pick up the first by feel in the dark.  Then the part of the movie where Odin is showing the book to Thor happens and there was some extra light so I could glance at my work and set it to rights.

    The best part?  They’re too loose.  I use a 2.25mm needle for socks these days and I should have stuck with that.

    Have you ever tried knitting in the dark?