Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Hat

is on the way. It being made with the skein and half of the LLH Savanna colors yarn that I just used for the Square Peg hat. It's a bit of serendipity...

I've mentioned that I have spent several hours each week accompanying R to his doctors appointments. He's unable to drive, or for that matter walk more than a block or two. I bring my knitting, and if things go long (as they did Thursday when a 9AM appointment stretched to early afternoon) I get knitting done.

My leafy shell is pretty—I really like it, and it garners lots of compliments—especially the color... My good taste lies in choosing the color. But it does get boring. Taking it with me on these trips ensures I age a few rows done every few days.. (Another inch was added yesterday--a change so slight that it's not worth photographing)

The LLH yarn used in the Square peg hat, is in the same family of greens(as the leafy shell) —and while I have read the news and know that a bright emerald green is the color of the year for 2013—I think all greens are becoming more popular—or I hope so! I like most shades of green.

So this new hat in a cable design. I don't often work in cables—so I started the hat and it was fine till the cables (5 sets of cables, over 90 stitches) –and then it became to bunched up.. Clearly I needed to work some increases into the design—so a frogging we did go.

I left the cast on and ribbing intact. Then reworked the design an added an additional cable. What? 5 cables were too tight, so I made 6?!--Yup! But I also added 15 stitches to the 90 as I worked the cables. And away went the scrunched in look—and instead I have a nice smooth look with lots more ease.

The serendipity in this design comes from a hat I saw being worn by some one else while I sat in the waiting room of NY Hosptial (68th/70th Street & York Avenue)--the very same hospital I was born in.

My copy/version of a commercial mass produced hat is not exactly the same. For one—the commercial hat was knit with bulky yarn—and the LLH yarn is just about worsted weight. The ribbing is tight on size 7's (4.5m) and the body is softer worked on 8's (5.m))--but the hat I saw was knit much looser. I prefer worsted weight to bulky weight (and besides, I had this yarn and planned to make a hat with it!) There are lots of other suitable yarns to chose from, besides this yarn (which is I think discontinued) Similar yarns like Full O' Sheep, or Lambs Pride, or some Paton's SWS yarn (also discontinued, but there is a lot of it around in peoples stashes) would easily substitute. I am sure there are other yarns that would work, too. 

The sample hat, when off, it fell flat on itself, and looked like a beret—but on it looked more like a (not to) scrunchy hat. This hat is snugger all round on my head—but then I have a large head! (22 inches) Most women will find it fits gently. Not quite as snug as watch cap, but not as loose as most scrunch hats. Cables are very gender neutral—and this hat is big enough that it will fit many men, as well—though on a large man's head, this hat would fit snugly like a watch cap.

I've made some nice progress.. and I am thinking of writing the pattern for  this hat up too. --Wait--I have already started to write it up. Its a pretty simple basic design—but details make it special.  The pattern writing isn't that hard--but I plan on doing double duty--written directions and charted ones, too. 

So, today as the snow and wet weather come in, I will alternately be knitting and documenting my progress.

Monday I should be able to show you a finished hat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Half Way Point

Has been reached. My leafy top now measures 12 inches.. and I still have 10 or so grams of wool left over. Will this be enough to bring the length to 16 inches? I don't think so. Close—I think. But....

I do have 2 partial skeins (left over from the matching socks) and I think 1 of them will be enough for me to reach my goal. And both partial skeins—Plus 1 more full one-- will allow me to make sure the shell reaches the desired finished length of 24 inches.

Meanwhile MORE mystery yarn has arrived from my sister in Japan—It's coming faster than I can knit it up!   I think this yarn is all synthetic.. its a beautiful wine red--and lace weight fine.  And bonus present for the holidays will be put to good use buying Principles of Knitting. I don't NEED the book—but I suspect I will enjoy reading the book—and maybe will even learn a thing or two.

I haven't DONE everything there is to do with knitting.. Never did a big project that needed to be steek'd, nor have I done thrums, and I have only done a scant row or two of twinned knitting. But I know about these techniques. But I don't know that I know everything there is to know about every technique. I still have things to learn, I am sure.

I have developed my own stitches patterns (a few simple lace patterns) and my own cast on (a double chain stitch cast on.. that has a matching selvage stitch (not my design) and a matching bind off (also my design.) And I have a new edging I just created--to be used for the bottom up shawl I have planned.
But there is always something new to be learned—and this is the book to do it for me.

My square peg hat is done... Well the knitting and most of the finishing is done.. This is a hat that will profit from a good blocking. It took, in all about 100 to 125 yards.. (or 1 full 80 m ball, and not quite half of the second.)

I continued the look of the mitered top down onto the sides of the hat. It's a short hat, pill box style—thought the way the brim stands out, it's also sort of like a pork pie hat... A bit interesting and a bit different. I have started to write up the pattern –including charts. When ever I can, I like to include both row by row (or in this case, round by round) directions, and charts. Some people love one one -or the other--so it pays to have both! I tend to prefer written directions... but I can and have knit things only using charts.

I think the yarn I am using (LLH Savanna Colors) has been discontinued, but there are many similar yarns that would work.. And to prove that, I will double check my directions (once written up) by knitting it again in a different yarn—I have already found some yarn in my stash that will be a good choice!

As for the other skein and half of LLH yarn?--I was inspired  yesterday by  knit a cabled hat.. (I am so rarely inspired by cables)--so since I have finish the square peg hat... I will next  knitting up a cabled hat--then, after that, a second square peg hat! (I have just completed the cast on for the cable hat but not a stitch more!)

So.. my queue is growing by leaps and bounds..
A light blue sparkly bottom up shawl, a cabled hat, a pattern to write up, another version of the square peg hat. Plus—I still am working on the leafy shell.. As noted, it's half done—which also means another half still needs to be knit! And then there are socks—lots of socks!

I have been working on a semi secret sock project (It's no secret I have been working on socks—the secret has been what kind of sock... and the patterns for them and the socks themselves) I have more secret socks to knit up; and to document. And I have other socks—public socks—as it were—in my queue, too. I never finished all the socks I planned to knit this year—and I have been dreaming up new ideas for next year's socks, too!(Next year? Next WEEK!)

I have plans for a lacy scarf from some of the yarn I got early this year from my sister—and now—6 new skeins of lace weight yarn... and then there was talk of a dark turquoise (teal?) little sweater, knit from sock yarn (with socks to match )--both to match my turquoise skirt and vest and jumper. Which reminds me... Sewing--I have sewing to do, too!

What am I doing here, when I have all this knitting to do!? (and a Dr. appointment this afternoon, too!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas Day.

I don't do much for on Christmas. I don't celebrate it as a religious or secular holiday. So instead, its just a quiet day for me.

My DD is off visiting family (I've been invited.. but I always pass) My son will call later in the day.. but me? I'll take an easy day—get some ironing done. A recent trip to the laundry room has left me with lots of clean clothes.. and a small pile of ironing. I love the feel of cotton—and I put up with the need to iron. I also have a pile of sock to put away!--I had a whole (albeit a small one) load of wash-just for my socks!  I hadn't come near to running out of clean socks to wear. 

The next few days will be busy—R has one appointment tomorrow, another on Thursday, and I have a general check up on Friday! I might not post anything much this week—but I am likely to get a fair amount of knitting done! He is still not up to driving--so I'll be driving him around. (When he gets  morose--and carries on, I remind him he can't die until he finds his car's title and signs it over to me!)  Friday I'll take the subway be on my own. 

As for knitting--well a start—after several false starts—to a hat. It's about half way done—and it suits me! I am a bit of square peg in round hole world—so a square hat (for a round head) seems the perfect choice.

It's a theme I have experimented with before. The yarn is lovely—It's LLH “Savanna Colors”--a very loosely spun blend of alpaca, linen, wool and nylon. I have 3 skeins of the stuff—and will likely finish the hat with just one of the three. Maybe a cowl or neck ring to go along with the hat will be produced.

I've added a few more rounds to my leafy shell—but not enough so that you'd really notice the change. But with 3 doctors offices to sit and wait in this week—I should make some real progress.

I got a big—Not bubble tea big—but bigger than average drinking straw, too. Its been cut up into a hundred odd little stitch markers for my bottom up shawl... Not that I have started knitting it yet...but I am slowly amassing all the tools I need to get started.

I hope Christmas is for you, all you hope and wish.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yes, I am Alive

And well, and I have even gotten some knitting done. I did have a bad week with almost no knitting.  I was down in the dumps (mentally) and not feeling to hot physically (arthritis flare up)  I read about knitting, and swatched a bit, but didn't really get anything knit. In addition, I have been being a good friend to R.

Until last year, R was ox, an oak tree, a veritable 100 year shay. Since then, not so much. These past few weeks, he's been running (well, shuffling—since running, even walking is out the question) from doctor to doctor... Many days, too sick to drive himself. And even when he's up to driving, this is NY. Only on TV do you find a parking space outside the door. In real life, you park 1 or 2 (if you're lucky) or more blocks away—and he's just not been up to the 3 or 4 block walk.

So I've been playing chauffeur—and shuttling him to and fro. Dropping him off at the door, and then parking the car where ever.  I wait with him, and then pick up the car and drive him home.  There are more appointments next week--and the week after, and likely early in the new year, surgery.  It's all pretty serious, and scary.  R envisions himself as a superman--invincible--and being laid low--and the prospect of surgery doesn't fit his mental image of himself--and it scares him.  

Waiting around in the doctors office is good knitting time and reading time too—I have read some magazines I don't usually buy or read—Like Discovery, the Smithsonian, and New York. It also helped take me out of my self.  My health isn't perfect--but I am blessed--most of my health problems are very manageable, and while chronic, not too debilitating.

So my leafy green shell has seen some progress.  Back and front reached about 9 inches, and then I joined them (adding a few stitches at the underarm.  So now its a round, to two sides.  An inch or so more added, too which you can just see in this image-- a full pattern repeat (8 R's)--clearer on the right hand side (where the round marker is) than on the left.  When I joined into the round, I managed to transfer all the stitches to one needle.  At some point, I'll work them back onto to circ's--since that will make it easier to see the work--but I am not in any rush. 

I am working with both skeins of yarn. One round with ball A, one round with ball B— I'll keep at it this way till one of the balls is used up, then I'll finish the other. If the gods of knitting are smiling, by then I'll have 15 to 16 inches done. I'll finish up with skein 3—and reach my goal of 23 to 24 inches, for the finished length. 

I've measured other tops—and anything shorter than 24 inches long really feels too short.  Through truthfully, 24 inches long is really just the minimum desired length.    Even with the left over bits from the socks, I don't think I'll be able to get much longer than 24 inches. The other factor will be boredom, and the desire to have the top finished.. Even if I have yarn, it will be hard to keep going and going....  I'll keep at it as long as I can--and hopefully get to a decent length with just about every inch of yarn used up! 

I don't have anything to show for my swatching... but it's been fun. I want to knit a small triangle mini shawl scarf. But I hate them! Every row is longer and more tedious. I have one shawl knit crosswise—but I want something lacier—and most definitely one with a lacy bottom edge.

Solution? Start from the bottom up, and decrease every row—making things easier and easier.

New problem-- Making a nice lacy open cast on edge.(vs a lacy bind off edge) I could knit a cross wise band of lace (7 or so stitches wide) and pick up stitches from the lace band—but... I have been thinking and trying out some other ideas.

I think I have what I want... but it's a bit scary. I'll need to cast on about 1300 stitches to start! But by row 7 the stitch count will be down to more manageable 450 or so stitches.. Still 1300+ stitches is a daunting cast on!

I still haven't decide what pattern I am going to use for the body of the shawl—one problem at a time to solve!

And then there is the matter of socks. I haven't cast on for a new pair (yet!) The question is: do I want to have a shell, a shawl and socks—all being knit on sock yarn going at the same time? I don't think so!

So do I start on the mini-shawl? Or the socks? Or bypass both and make a hat? --I have been itching to make some hats...and I have some chunky yarn—a good change from size 2 needles! Plus hats (even on small needles) are quick to knit—and my plans are for worsted weight and heavier yarns.. super quick projects

My next socks are going have beading (not quick) and the shawl—well it will be easier every row, but I still will have a lot of work to get from 1300 or so down to 450—and 450 is no small matter—even if the count does reduce by 4 per row--those first 50 rows are still going to be long ones!

See—I really have been thinking about knitting! Mentally working out the details of what I want to do, and how I am going to do it. Now all I have to do is knit. To keep plugging away on my leafy shell, and get to work on something else—and to remember to tell you all about it!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hop Scotch

Last time, the front was longer than the back, now the back is longer than the front. So it's time to work on the front again.

The back is now 7 inches, the front, just a row or two past 5inches. The next hopscotch will bring the front to 7, and then I'll continue working on the front till it's 9 inches.

Very soon—at this rate, I'll progress to working working in the round! I am quite pleased with my progress, I don't often knit clothing for myself on size 2 needles.. but I do really like the fine knitting.  It looks so lovely.

I've made some serious inroads to the 2 skeins I am working with, but I will have plenty of yarn left once I have finished the armholes. I have 3 full skeins, and 2 partial skeins left over from the socks—I suspect I won't need the partials—or at least not all of them. According to the article that inspired this shell, I should only need 800 yards or so. Each skein of the Sock Ease is over 400, (and I have 3 or about 1300 yards!) Even slightly over-sizing top, and making a the largest size, I should have more than enough

At this point, the ribbing is beginning to pull in (more with ever row I knit.) It's beginning not to look over sized at all. But it's big enough that it won't stretch out fully when I wear it, though it will be a bit clingy. The compression caused by the ribs will help make the cap sleeve, too. 

And then there are the socks! I finished them (99%) yesterday morning, when I was out and about--(which really involved a lot of sitting and waiting) –but didn't get the toes grafted to late afternoon.

But they are done! And now, ....(The king is dead, Long live the king!)I think I should get to work on my dragon socks—The year of the dragon is coming to an end very soon.

But before that—A Hat is need! Gianna, the proprietor of the restaurant we meet at for Tuesday knit night had a birthday. A present is required. It will be belated birthday gift,  but better late than never!

I have to decide if I am going to do something new, or make an new version of some pattern I done before. And I have to decide on wool (or non wool) and.... Well some decisions to made, and quickly—I need the hat by next Tuesday!

A hat is a quick to knit project—and it won't take long once I decide on yarn and pattern—It won't take much longer to come up with a new pattern, for that matter!

The problem is—Once I start looking through my stash—I get thousands of ideas for things I want to knit. I've always purchased yarn with an idea in mind—thought, I admit, I often change my mind, somewhere between the purchase and project.

Some yarn peeked out early this week—and reminded me I planned to make a turquoise sweater (a worsted weight one) and now I am thinking... A sweater of the worsted weight wool, a fingering (sock) yarn little shrug,  and another sock yarn mini-shawl scarf (these last two from these yarns, that I photographed last week, shown here again) –3 little knits to match my turquoise print co-ordinates.  And socks to match the shrug, and socks to match the shawl—since I already have several pairs of turquoise socks that will match the sweater and clothing..That is, if/when I finally knit it.  Won't that be just the thing?

That's the thing with some colors—I love them and come back to them, again and again. Having a wardrobe of turquoise clothing is a fine thing when I have a stash that includes lots of turquoise yarn.

Actually I have 2 collections of turquoise worsted weight yarn.  The bright light blue that caught my eye—but I know I also have 8 skeins of  a darker more teal like tone--(not quite as dark a the sock, but almost)  in my collection, too. --Do I need two turquoise sweaters? (Will I knit two turquoise sweaters?!) Well, I have the yarn.

And that's a lot of knitting planned, isn't it? And I am still less than 1/3rd done with the Leafy shell! And I still have several socks kit bags--that is socks I planned to knit this year (I was overly optimistic about what I could accomplish!) --And ever bigger bags that hold  my stash of sock yarn! and a hat, and....

I have lists, and lists of things to knit. I suppose the good news is, I chill easier—I am wearing my shrug from last year, (right now) and wore several other scarves and shawls (other days/times this week) . So I am getting more use out of my knits! I guess the solution is I have to knit more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Out and About.

Out for a some hours yesterday, again tonight, and again tomorrow morning. Life is keeping me busy.

In some small spaces of time, in between, some knitting got done.. Not a lot—but I am happy with the progress. The Leafy (green) shell is coming along. Now the front is more than an inch longer than the back—and more than half way to the armhole end. The Shell is wide, and the outside edges will fall off the shoulder and make a little cap sleeve.

I am once again working on back (stitch markers mark each side—peach for front, blue for the back)--I'll bring it even to the 5.5 inches of the front, and then add another inch/inch and half before I return to the front. 9 inches is about the right depth for the armhole. At that point, I'll add another rib repeat at the underarms and start the long boring slog to the hem. I'll need at least 11 inches—but I am going to try for 13. Enough to come to the waist, and go beyond it.

One special treat when I was out and about was a pretty piece of “re-cycling”(aka garbage picking—from the recycle dumpster. I love having a collection of bags and boxes and containers for my knitting notions. Clear bags are wonderful (its so easy to find tapestry needle or stitch marker hastily thrown in the bag.)

But I love tins, too. I collect tins, and use tins all the time. This tin with a window? Just about perfect as a notions box. And with its bright red color—it's hard to lose, too. And FREE?! Wow the perfecta!

I have some magnetic sheets—the kind with adhesive backing—one will be cut to make a lining for the bottom—it will help hold scissors or needles in place.

Still working (not to much) on the Take2 socks. More tonight at Tuesday night knitting—maybe even enough to finish the foot (and then the toe!)

Finally a plug. Some of the women from Tuesday night knitting belong to another group—and they have entered the MochiMochiLand photo contest. So here is a plug for their project.
There are so many wonderful projects—but consider voting for the Knitman Samper, won't you?
Vote by adding a comment, naming Knitman. You have to scroll to find Knitman—but don't just stop there, see the whole story here. (Start here first maybe--it make the project 'story'--which is as fun and whimsical as all the little characters.)

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Inching Along

 A little here, a little there, and nothing really done.

My socks? At some point in the gusset, I went brain dead. I totally messed up the pattern one night, and well, come the morning, when I saw it, I decided I didn't care. So what the pattern is different? Then I messed up worse. I could have frogged.. but these are TAKE 2—they have been frogged once.

So I just gave up on the pattern.. about the point were there are 5 inches of the foot knit.--and since then, another inch as been knit. But I need yet another inch and then some, before I can start the toe.

Now its just plain knitting, and watching how the yarn pools and the colors move. I am not entirely happy about the pools. But since I really love the colors in these socks, I can live with a bit of pooling in the toe area. I am totally happy with how the colors break up in the leg of the sock. 

To cheer myself up, LOOK!  an inch here, and there.... my shell is taking shape.

At this point, it is a bit big (and it will stay a bit big) Ribbing by its nature, pulls in. So this ribbed sweater is going to be close fitting. But it's a bit lacy, and to make sure its not too see through, I want it to not be too stretched when its worn. So a bit of ease means, the ribs will stretch but won't be fully stretched (as they are on the socks) when I wear the top. It will be close fitting, but still have a lot of ease. 

Amazing enough, I actually have a bra that is just the same color. I think with a lacy open top like this, a matching bra, or one in a perfect skin tone matching color (for me, a pale pink shell color!) is the most becoming. Or, of course, I could wear a cami under it--But that's not likely to  happen. More likely is an over shirt--so it won't be so obvious how lacy it is. 

I started with a few short rows—so the back is just a little long than the front—I think this makes knit things fit better. And I am alternately working the front (4 to 8 rows at a time) and then the back. Below the armholes, the sweater will be knit in the round. Right now, there is about 1.5 inches of the ribbing done, plus the garter band on the top.. just over 2 inches total.  Which is really a lot of knitting when we are talking about sock yarn and size 2 needles!

What has otherwise kept me busy is my social life—which for months on end can be virtually non-existent—but as of late, has kept me out of the house, running round, and busy. It will slow down again—It's not really holiday stuff—so I don't expect things to settle back into slightly boring come the new year—but by the spring—yeah.

Yesterday (and today)-Cooking! I have this thing.. I really hate it when there are more POTS than people at a meal. And since most nights, its only me, that means 1 pot per meal.  It's one of the reasons I love to precook soups and stews, and other dishes. Then, I pot for protein (or for vegetable) and one prepared dish--(no pot!) and I have a nice supper.

Being busy—I have eaten up all the curries and soups I cooked 2/2andhalf weeks ago. So yesterday, some more curry—mostly protein--(I always start my curries with chopped onions and I added a can of tomatoes to the sauce—but 16 ounces of tomato spread over 6 servings hardly counts as a vegetable serving!) Today, another (bigger) pot of my sweet potato and chicken soup--which also has onions,  tomato, carrots, and kale--a nice mixture of vegetables...enough that I don't need to add more vegetable  to make a meal. 

Tomorrow, when I run some errands, I'll stock up on frozen chopped spinach—my favorite vegetable with curried chicken. My second favorite veggie (with curry)  is baked sweet potatoes --which have the advantage of baking-- often just on a double layer of aluminum foil—(No pot or pan to wash!) --but have the dis-advantage of not offering enough contrast in color--(and not being as nutritious) Some nights when I feel up to it.. I do both—a little spinach and small sweet potato.. with a rich chicken curry.. Yummy!

I also cheat --and buy prepared vegetable curries--and sometimes these are the basis for a vegetarian meal, and sometimes, I serve them with baked fish--But the best premade curried dishes are usually to hot (even when the packages says "Medium") for my palate.  Queens has a lot of DESI's(India sub continent natives) and most stores sell a nice selection of authentic pre made curries and sauces--so buying pre made really is an option.      Plus, in  last Sunday's NYTimes Mark Bittman had a bunch of easy recipes for Dal (bean ) dishes.... 

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Skirt

Well a skirt--minus a button and hook and eye at the waist band-- and a final pressing. But close enough to being a skirt as to count.

Eventually (and an not too distant eventually) there will be a man tailored shirt in the same poly cotton as the vest lining.

And likely a T-shirt will be embellished with an applique of the same fabric, and some machine embroidery. Not something I do very often but in this case, I think it's worth the effort. I have a summer wrap skirt in this fabric, a jumper and this 2 piece set—almost a complete wardrobe of mix and match separates once I add a shirt and T-shirt! This color turquoise has been one of my favorite colors for—well for-ever!

I remember clothes my mother made me, in this color, and I remember a skirt and dotted swiss blouse I made for myself a former lifetime ago.  Honeymoon co-ordinates—all easy care for a long jaunt through Europe (on $5 a day!) in this same color (paired with 2 other skirts (one white, one navy) and tops and a white jacket, it was a total mix and match wardrobe). And there have been other outfits since then, all through the years. 

Getting back to the idea of applique-- is so easy now days—there is an material (HeatnBond is one brand) , that you iron it on to fabric, cut out the shape you want, peal off the paper backing, and iron it on to what you want. Top stitching (for a decorative effect) is not really required—but I have some turquoise silky rayon thread—so you know I am going to top stitch and add some sewn on details.

Besides, my sewing machine has some pre--programned stitches—a feature I rarely use—but there are some designs that will co-ordinate nicely with this floral print. A bit of applique and machine embroidery will turn an inexpensive T shirt into a really nice looking top. 

As for knitting... well not much progress there. I had an off day on Sunday—and was for a few short hours, sick as dog. Right as rain now—I realized as I type this, I often (well not often, but...) have short transient bouts of illness—which pass—most often in a few hours. I hardly think myself to ever be sick—because I rarely feel ill 2 day (hell, rarely feel ill for 10 hours!) at a stretch.

So the socks have most of gusset (3 more rounds to go)--but it's hardly enough progress to see. Wait till tomorrow, then the sock will be inching towards the toe and look almost done. (Even with more sewing being done today) 

Speaking of socks—I already have a few pairs of socks that will go well with my new turquoise collection—and I am thinking.. maybe a small short sleeved raglan sleeve topper might be in order.. or perhaps a shawl.. Or maybe one of each! I have some Lion Brand Sock Ease—color way sno-cone that is a bit dark, but still a good color match, and some Red Heart Sparkle—mostly wool with some nylon and sparkly threads—it's a good choice for socks or for a simple shawl. The Red Heart is a bit light--but it's still a good match.  

 I know a short sleeved, simple raglan sweater would be great with jumper--sometimes it gets cool on summer evenings--and when it doesn't the A/C can make it too cold indoors. A little something over the shoulders can be a real godsend.  

Oh, my list of thing I want to knit! It grows faster than I can knit. Sewing—has a different sense of satisfaction—and certainly,  its faster!