Archive for October, 2006

Winning Mom to Wool

October 30, 2006 Leave a comment

I gave my mother a set of crochet hook in a case for her birthday. However, she’s not crocheting (she says – before she showed me evidence she actually was) because her hand hurts. Given that this was her left (dominant) hand and it’s the wrist she broke a few years ago, not really a shock.

What she was crocheting was a gift for Eamon, her boyfriend’s baby grandson (who calls her “bubby.”) It was adorable – a bumblebee hat. It was also made of sticky, nasty, ugly acrylic yarn. This yarn is just fine for her favorite project – endless crocheted afghans, and it’s what she can get at Wal*mart (much as she hates Wal*mart, there’s nothing else in her area and she doesn’t use the internet at all.) I did have Patternworks and Knitpicks send her catalogs, but she sees their yarn as expensive.

Anyway, I’d always planned on making this a two-part gift. So. First thing I did while we waited for my brother to join us was to take out a couple of swatches I’d made for my current project. The yarn is Dale of Norway Falk – 100% superwash DK wool. One was for gauge, one was to practice the cable, and I’d washed both. They were soft and lovely to touch, and the color, a rich purple, just glowed. My mother has never worked with real wool.

I showed her Encore in the catalog – Encore is a relatively inexpensive but nice feeling acrylic/wool blend that works beautifully and would really be idea for the bumblebee hat, but we didn’t get that.

Instead, she found a beautiful cardigan pattern with interesting stitchwork and we got the yarn that it called for, although instead of grey, we got a soft blue. I also got her the needles called for – she probably has them in straights but I got her circulars because she wanted circulars, which would be easier on her hands. I called Patternworks right there, and it was very amusing – my husband reciting our credit card number from memory, my mom talking about Wal*mart and the nice lady on the phone hearing every word. There was a sale on denim needle holders, but I have two pairs of straights and I’m not likely to buy more. So I bought it for my mom, too. It was cheap enough. Not that she’ll know, as they’re sending the invoice to *me*.

This way she’ll make something for herself – and she picked the pattern and the yarn.

On a different note: My niece’s hat is proceeding very nicely. The panels of stockinette set off the cables, and it’s just very, very cute. Hats are great, and it’s a nice break from the endless shawl.

Categories: knitting


October 27, 2006 Leave a comment

I’ve started my niece’s hat.

No, not going to post a picture because that never ends well, and I’ve already cast-on twice for it.  I’ll post a picture when I’m done.

I ordered three skein of Dale of Norway Falk Purple, which is a DK weight superwash wool, which I thought would be ideal for a hat for a 4  year old who loves purple.  I also ordered two 40″ circular needles – one US4 and one US3.  I came home on Wednesday to find the box and chortle “Swatching tonight.”  See, I’d been advised to get a stitch count of 6 or 6.5 st/inch for this hat, to make sure it’s warm enough.

I was barely into the main body of the first swatch, using the size 4, when I realized that it was too loose.  I checked the gauge of what I’d done, and yep 5 st/inch.  So I ripped that out and made a swatch using the size 3.  I didn’t knit a 4″ square, but I did knit about 2 inches in length.  Then, instead of just taking the gauge then, I bound it off and washed it (okay, rinsed it in cold water.) and let it dry.  Meanwhile, I began another tiny swatch for the cable.  I’m using the hugs and kisses cable in Vogue Knitting.  I was worried about seeing the cables, as the color is so dark. 

The next morning, I checked the gauge swatch.  Oh, my goodness. It was soft and stretchy and the slight curling was gone.  It was lovely.  I took gauge – 6 st/inch.  I was good to go.  And the cable pattern shows up just fine after washing, too.

I also did some research that assured me that 20″ makes sense for a tall 4 year old.

I cast on 120 stitches on the US3, to be used magic loop. I put a stitch marker (a tiny hair elastic) every twenty stitches just to keep count, but I’ve discovered another use – just as with marking lace, it makes it all easier.

I also discovered a major benefit to Magic Loop (this was new because until now, I’ve only used it for toe-up socks.  This was my first real attempt to start out knitting in the round. )  One of the first steps in knitting in the round is to make sure all the stitches are facing the same way. You do that by putting your circulars or your dpns on something flat and twist the stitches so that the edge is on the inside all the way around.  It’s fidgetty and when you pick it up to knit, things get twisted and you worry about getting moebius knitting.  Hasn’t happened to me yet, but I know it will.

Except, with magic loop, I could put half the stitches onto one end and half on the other and get everything lined up on something solid, loops on top.  Still fidgetty, but far less so.

Then I ran into math problems.  See, while I knew I was doing twenty stitches per marker, in my head, for some reason, it was ten.  I had the correct count, but, well.  I was doing 2×2 rib, which means the pattern=4 stitches.  120 is divisible by four (and many other numbers), so it would come out right,but ten is not divisible by 4, so in my head, if I start with two knit stitches, I should end with two knit stitches, and the next “repeat” would begin with two purls.  So I had two purls at the end of the first repeat, I made a mistake and would have to correct it.

And I did.

Except that it was actually twenty stitches, and four goes into 20 very nicely.  Each repeat woud therefore begin with two knits and end with two purls.

I figured that out for the second half.

I was actually going to knit the first half again by correcting each incorrect stitch.  And then I realized that it would take less time and be far less frustrating to just frog back and start over.  So, I did. It’s much better now.  And I can still use the stitchmarkers to help – if I only have one stitch left, I’ve made a mistake.  If the last two are knits, I’ve done something wrong.  And it’s easy to tink back less than twenty stitches to correct.  And it’s working!

And it’s so very pretty.  I’m finding the wool a bit splitty, but I’m getting used to it, too.

Categories: knitting

Gift knitting

October 17, 2006 1 comment

I don’t celebrate Christmas, of course, and my family doesn’t believe Chanukah is a gift-giving holiday, but my husband’s family does. In their case, it’s limited to immediate family and the kids at the annual family Chanukah party. Kids=under college age. This year, there are six.

I’m very bad at gifts. My husband’s birthday gifts last week? A couple of books I had on preorder that happened to arrive just before his birthday, and that I knew he’d like to read. (I was a tad better last year, for his 40th, when I gave him a Palm Tungsten E2, but A. it was his 40th and B., he was cheated out of any other celebration, since his birthday by the civil calendar fell on the day before Yom Kippur and his birthday on the Hebrew calendar is the second day of Sukkot.

So, anyway. Six kids to get gifts for. We’re giving one boy the Dark is Rising series of novels since he said he liked that sort of fantasy, and another is getting a Justice League Unlimited trade paperback because he likes superheroes and he likes comics and he needs encouragement to read. We’re still discussing what to get the other two boys, but one is still a baby. I think for him, the traditional stuffed animal bigger than he is will work.

We’ll get age-appropriate books for the two-year old girl.

And then there is Zoe. Zoe joined the family when her mother married my brother-in-law this past Labor Day weekend. No fear that she won’t be showered with gifts – my husband’s family is very, very welcoming. And, at four, she’ll appreciate all of them.

And we plan on getting her a “real” gift – I want to encourage her artistic inclinations, and there’s any number of age-appropriate art toys we can get her. And her “Mitch” is an artist as well as a scientist, so she’ll have plenty of opportunity to use them. Besides, as her aunt and uncle, we have a duty to spoil her, right?

So, I’m also going to knit her something. I’ve ordered Dale of Norway Falk yarn in purple (her favorite color) and a book on cables and I’m going to make her a cabled hat, and if there’s time, mittens to match. If I have enough yarn and time leftover, I’ll make socks for the two-year-old, too. If not, not. This will not be the main gift, of course, but I hope she’ll like them.

Categories: Jonathan, knitting

I *ALMOST* had a sock…

October 12, 2006 Leave a comment

I’d finally gotten the hang of the lace, and I’d learned to relax my hands, and it looked fairly good…from the heel up.  The heel itself wasn’t wonderful, and I made a couple more mistakes in the leg and I knew the second sock would be so much better they wouldn’t even look like a pair.

Plus the lace at the toe was too tight and rather ugly.

So I asked a bunch of friends and got their opinion…and now the sock is a hank of drying yarn hanging on a hook on my bathroom door, weighed down by a  heavy bead necklace, and I’ve started another using the second skein.

And, as I suspected, it looks *much* better already. 

I’m rather glad I’m only making one sock at a time with the magic loop.

Categories: knitting

Okay, I could have been nicer

October 10, 2006 2 comments

Yesterday, we went with my brother-in-law and his wife when they took their four-year-old to the local Sukkah Fair. (Zoe had a wonderful time – there was an inflatable *thing* to crawl into with things inside to slide down and crawl under and over and through and then slide out again. I think she went on it four or five times, and there was pizza and popcorn and a magician and lots of other kids and *Mommy* was there. Mommy is taking a rather intense course of study and isn’t home a lot. This will change, but it’s hard right now for all three of them.) The fair was being held by our old rabbi and his family, in conjunction with another synagogue, so a lot of people from our old synagogue was there. Including my boss’s wife and their son, which was nice.

Wow. You go away for five years and the kids really grow up!

Anyway, the magician was, of course, geared to the kids and we were going elsewhere for dinner so I couldn’t have the pizza and I got bored. So, out came the current sock, which I was in the process of tinking. I’d done the wrong line in the lace pattern three rounds back. Not a major deal, just finicky stuff.

And here comes a…person. She’s a nice woman, but not as fast as some on the uptake, and she noticed I was using one circular. And she’d gone to the Union Square Knit-in a couple of weeks ago, and seen a woman knit socks using *two* circulars, and thought I could help her. And kept asking me questions.

Here’s the thing. I have no problem with teaching techniques. I like teaching a lot. But I don’t know how to knit socks with two circulars. I’ve read about the technique but I’ve never done it, and I learn by doing things. Not by watching, not by reading, but by doing.

This doesn’t mean two circs are beyond me – that’s silly. If I’ve mastered dpns and Magic Loop, and I’m comfortable doing lace and cables, I can certainly learn two circs. I just haven’t done it yet.

And while I’m sure there are similarities, I could not answer her questions. “How do I cast on?” She asked. I suggested she cast on the same number of stitches (she works cuff-down) as she would for dpns, just putting half on one circ and half on the other, and always knit with the same circ. That’s right, isn’t it? But I couldn’t demonstrate because I was only using the one circ.

She refused to get it, and I don’t blame her. But I probably could have been nicer. I did suggest she get Cat Borghi’s book, though.

Categories: knitting

The Hat – Finished!

October 5, 2006 2 comments

I finished the hat itself Sunday (the morning before Yom Kippur), but I haven’t had a chance to take pictures until today.

So. Here is the finished hat:

Finished Hat

It fits Jonathan beautifully, so all those attempts were worth it.

In other news, we put up our sukkah today. It just needs some furnishings and decorations and we’ll be all set. I’ll take pictures tomorrow, bli neder.

I tried a somewhat fancy way of decreasing, trying to get a nice spiral. I didn’t get that, but the top looks nice anyway.

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Categories: knitting