Technical Tip Tuesday

SophieSocks

Welcome to a new regular installment to my blog where I will keep track of all the little tips and tricks that employ to help keep knitting a pleasant endeavor!

This week’s tip is about working cables on small needles. I try to avoid using a cable needle if at all possible, but I can’t seem to get the hang of cabling without a cable needle when working with sock or lace weight yarn. The stitches just drop too easily. A regular cable needle can also be cumbersome. So, I found what works for me is to use a cable needle that is a DPN one or two sizes smaller than what I’m using. That way the stitches have a little extra room to cross over so that I’m not fighting to work them. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Do you have any cable tricks up your sleeve? Let me know!

Yarn: Elle Rae
Needles: Knit Picks

Pattern: Frolic, by 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Oaks

Bliss for On-the-Go Knitting

Yarn pop bag

This bag by Yarn Pop is by far my best purchase at Stitches West this year.  I am constantly knitting on the go.  With two little ones it’s the only way I would finish anything.  I’m so excited for the chance to wait in the pharmacy line, or have an appointment with someone running late because I will have a chance to put a few more stitches on my project. 

There’s a downside for knitting on the go though, especially if your bag doesn’t cinch up or zipper like this one.  I am always missing a DPN, or stitch markers, or find that I have dropped stitches.  This bag solves all of those problems.  The yarn stays nicely tucked away and the project goes back in the bag, zip it all up with large plastic zipper teeth that won’t hurt or snag the yarn, and voila!  Perfectly safe and, not to mention, SUPER cute project back with no missing anythings!  I almost didn’t get this, but I am SO glad I did.  I was a little skeptical about the zipper teeth, and I did accidentally zip my yarn, but thankfully, when I unzipped, it came right out with no snags or damage to the yarn.

If you are an on-the-go knitter like me I highly recommend this bag.  It is pure on-the-go knitting bliss! (The yarn in the photo is my new purple Malabrigo Rios – LOVE it too!!  It is going to be a hat for my Sophie.)

Stitches West 2012

This is my dear friend Marisa from the Quilt Otaku blog on the left and me on the right.  We had a blast modeling Ysolda’s designs in her booth at Stitches West.  I HAVE to make that lacey cardigan from her Little Red in the City book.  She did a spectacular job listing out all of the fun booths we went to and podcasters we ran into, so check out her blog for details!

I got way too much stuff this year… note to self, going to a knitting convention without a budget is a bad idea.

Here’s my loot:

So… yeah, I definitley went overboard.  But, the little voice in my head says that it’s my birthday in 2 weeks, what the heck 🙂

Now time for me to get dressed and ready for my Design-your-own Triangle Shawl class!

Selfish Socks

Monkey sock

I have put the thunderstorm sweater on hold since it was misbehaving and decided that I needed to do some selfish knitting.  I’m making some cozy, hand knit socks and LOVING every minute of them.  I can’t get enough.  There is absolutely no worry of second sock syndrome here. 

The pattern is Monkey, by Cookie A.  It is a bit on the expensive side at $6, but I can see myself making this sock several times (which is unheard of in knitting, it takes a special pattern to want to make it more than once). 

I tried to analyze just why this is so addictive and I think it comes down to the following:

  1. The pattern is bite sized, meaning there are just enough rows in the pattern to make you want to finish the repeat and when you do it’s a decent amount of progress, so you want to do *just one more repeat*
  2. It is fairly easy to memorize the pattern if you think of it in pairs of rows
  3. The yarn and needles I’m using are delightful

I’ve also had to spend an inordinate amout of time waiting in the doctor’s office and pharmacy (which means knitting time) because my 5 year old has pneumonia 😦  My poor little man, he’s on the mend, but I’m thinking of extra ways to spoil him and make him feel better.

Spinning Memories into Yarn

Memorial cowl

My dad passed away unexpectedly a few days before this Christmas.  I’m grief stricken.  I am relieved that he is no longer in pain though and am trying to work through all of the memories that I want to keep.  Working with yarn is proving to be very comforting and theraputic.  I got a Golding Drop Spindle from my husband this year, the day after I learned the news. Fittingly, it is butterfly

Golding Drop Spindle

I’m hoping to capture the best parts of him in this spinning process.  Really, I’m hoping to spin the memories like threads into this yarn waiting to be knit up into something special to keep me warm, keep the good memories alive, and help resolve the loss that I feel. 

I’ll put captions on the pictures for those who want to see the spinning process, you can skip through the long post and just read the captions.

The colors in this yarn are green and blue with purple and brown and gold mixed in.  As I spun the single ply, I thought of my dad’s eyes, which he passed on to me.  The colors remind me of the ocean, which he always loved and so did I.  I remember him taking me way out in the ocean past the breaking waves when I was in grade school.  I was scared, but felt so safe in his arms.  He taught me how to dive down deep to the ocean floor when a big wave was coming so that I could come up safely behind it and avoid it crashing over me.  I loved that feeling. 

Fiber: Pigeon Roof Studios Fiber, Super Wash Merino

He passed on the gift of working with his hands… a true handy man.  He worked construction and could do some really great work back before his disease really set in.  I have his hands.  I’m sure that’s why I love to work with yarn.  As I plied this yarn I thought of him teaching me to change a tire, set up the home audio/video equipment (which I am in charge of at home to this day),   Tinkering with his Apple I computer.  He actually drilled holes in the side of it and jerry-rigged an external fan.  When he turned it on the image on the screen would wave like a flag… but it stopped overheating!  I learned to play piano on that thing, with his keyboard that he had hooked up for his music studio and some apple software.  He was part of the reason I was exposed to computers early on, and probably why I’m in the tech field today. 

Making an Andean bracelet
This is an andean bracelet, a
technique used for plying

After plying, I loaded the yarn onto the niddy noddy (for those non-spinners, a niddy noddy measures out your yarn yardage and allows the twist energy to settle in).  I let it sit for a day and then set the twist with a good soak in tepid water with a little lavendar scented wool-friendly soap.  I thought about him teaching me to shoot a basket ball, play tennis, play softball, love bowling (I have my own ball and shoes!) and teach me the rules to football.  He loved sports.  We had so much fun.

handspun 050
On the niddy noddy, I have spun 175 yards, almost 2 football fields
I have about 3 oz left to spin (out of 8oz)
Spun with love
Soaking to set the twist, tepid water for 15 minutes
handspun 065
and adding a nice lavendar scent


After soaking I pressed the water out with a towel as best I could and hung it by the window to dry over night. I thought about how we loved to play music together.  He is the reason I played flute for so many years.

I love you dad.  I will keep the good memories alive and feel a hug from you each time I wear the cowl that I made with this yarn.

When Knitting Attacks (warning long post)

thunderstrom sweater 001

To steal a bite from the Knitmore Girls, this is a “when knitting attacks” story.

This is my first no-pattern sweater. I have taken sweater classes from Ysolda Teague and Jared Flood on knitting and designing sweaters. I’ve been wanting to make my own design for a long time and this thunderstorm swater is the perfect project because it’s small, so if I make mistakes I won’t mind too much ripping out. And my son had specific wishes that required a custom design. See this post for his drawing. I spent a long time drawing, measuring, swatching, calculating. I bought the yarn I would need. I had a new set of needles and finally the moment came where I felt confident enough to cast on. The amount of love that has gone into this sweater before even one stitch has been cast on is immense. I gave myself two months before my son’s 5th birthday, PLENTY of time to finish a child’s sweater on size 10 needles, or so I thought.

I got an inch into it and felt so delighted. The Malabrigo feels great, I love the new needles I’m working with , and most of all I’m finally making progress on the most special knitting project I’ve ever done because my son designed it. I figure this will be my on-the-go knitting until I get to the bottom of the cloud. So, I take it everywhere, but never really have a chance to work on it until a week later. Finally, some free time. I go to grab my project bag. But, wait… where’s my project bag? In the car? No. Under the bed hanging out with dust bunnies? No. At the grandma’s? No! My anxiety levels are rising. In any of the stores I have been to in the last WEEK?? NO!! The UNTHINKABLE has happened.

Denial sets in. It will surely turn up somewhere. I will sick “the finder” (aka my husband) on it and I’m sure he will find it in under two minutes. That’s his specialty. He is confident too which eases my fear. Until, even he can’t find it anywhere. I have lost my project bag, but I will not admit this to myself for another month. Each week I report to my knit night group, I still haven’t found my bag secretly waiting for it to present itself in one of those right-under-my-nose kinds of ways.

I slowly moved through the stages of loss. My mourning comes finally comes to an end and I accept the fact that I will have to start over. At least I didn’t lose my notes and calculations. Black Friday sales help ease the purchase of new yarn and needles, and we have a long road trip which makes for the perfect knitting storm (pun intended). Soon my mojo is BACK! The project flew off of my needles and I naievly though, “I can do this! He WILL have his sweater on his birthday! I’m not sure exactly how I am going to do the cloud and I still have to knit the sleeves, but I’ll figure it out… right?”

WRONG.

The cloud, I realize, has to be done in intarsia. Fine, I’ve done intarsia once before, no biggie. Note to self, intasia can’t be done in the round! The yarn ends up on the wrong side when you complete the circle. I knit and tinked a bunch of times until I come up with a work around. I figured I will just purl back for the length of the cloud and put in a small side seem in this section. I consult ravelry foums and this seems to be an acceptible solution. I made it work and finished the cloud (painfully, intarisa is not one of my favorite knitting techniques, but the yarn behaved itself for the most part). I held up the sweater to view my work and…. the cloud is disproportionally small and it looks more like a bat than a cloud. My son promptly proclaimed, “It IS a bat Mommy!” This would be all find and dandy if I was designing a batman sweater, but this is a thundercloud sweater, it should look like a cloud!

It is now 2 days away from his birthday, no sleeves done, no yoke done, the tiny bat/cloud looks silly… it is over. I will not be able to finish this in time for his birthday. It’s ok though. I am still going to finish this labor of love… probably not in time for Christmas, but it will happen soon. The knitting itself is delicious and fast. I have decided to just do the entire sweater in black and do duplicate stitch for the rest. I have some practice with duplicate stitch, hopefully that won’t attack me as well. I just hope he still fits in it when I finish! 

In the meantime, maybe I should try to finish his crochet Sonic that is only missing one leg and is in complete pieces… more to come on that.

Spinning!

Pigeonroof studios

I am spinning again!  I can’t believe I only got about 33 yards of usable yarn from my first real spinning project.  The “second half” that I mentioned in that post went really poorly and I will probably have to scrap it. Hopefully I will get better this time around since I have officially decided that this is something that I want to get into.  I purchased 8 oz of fiber from Pigeonroof studios, in the Lydia colorway that I found at Purlescence.  The colors are outstanding, however I’m concerned that they will get muddy when I ply them together, which made think that perhaps I should do a 3 ply navajo ply rather than a 2 ply.  It might help the color changes not be verrigated so randomly.  Navajo ply uses one single ply and folds onto itself, like a crochet chain.  So you can imagine the colors changing along with the single ply color changes, as opposed to taking the two opposite ends of my single ply and twisting them together.  Does that make sense? 

Per my nature, I promptly searched youtube for navajo ply on a drop spindle and I found a ton of interesting videos, but had to share this one from Rosemary Knits showing how she does the navajo ply on the fly.  It was truly amazing.  She is so comfortable with her dop spindle.  She spins a little and then stops and plys what she just spun, then repeats. 
I also subscribed to the FiberBeat podcast from WonderMike.  I haven’t listened to any of them yet, but it comes highly recommended by QuiltOtaku and Rosemary Knits, so this is a must if I am to become a spinner.

The next thing I need to do is sign up for a class!!  I should really be working on my son’s birthday thunderstorm sweater!!  At this rate, it will have to be a christmas sweater!

Happy 1 Year Birthday Sophia!

Sophia's cashmere sweater

The year has flown by so fast.  I swear time goes faster every year.  My precious daughter turned 1 this November.  I just had to knit her something special… and there’s nothing more special than 100% cashmere, right?

This quick little knit is called the Langston by Teresa Cole.  It is a top down raglan.  I made size 18 months, so it is actually a little big on her still, but since it’s a shrug-like cardi, I thought it would be great for the spring when she’ll be a little bigger and it’s a little warmer out.

The yarn is Jade Sapphire, 100% Mongolian Cashmere, always a dream to work with.  I always keep an eye out for PurlSoho’s sale yarns.  About twice a year they add cashmere to their 40% off sale yarn bin.  This project took two skeins and I had a little bit extra. 

The butterfly buttons were found at Yarn Dogs.  They have a great selection of buttons.  It’s amazing how buttons can change the whole look of a sweater.  The addition of butterflies on this sweater make me think of a woodland sprite.  They added just a touch of magic.

I didn’t do any modifications.  If I do it again, I would add more of a ruffle on the bottom and make the edging a little longer.  It curls up so easily and the ruffle was just so subtle on the soft cashmere.  I might enjoy making a longer one as well, but for two small skeins of yarn, this length was just right.  

My dear friend over at Quilt Otaku inspired me to do this project.  She made one for her niece with some handspun and it is gorgeous.  I highly recommend this project for that special little girl in your life, and for that special little bit of luxury yarn in your stash 🙂

Bath Gift Sets

manly knit gift set 1

My sis-in-law sold her knits at a little arts and crafts fair last week!  I’m so proud of her!  She had an awesome booth filled with all kinds of hats, scarves, fingerless mits, snowflakes, pumpkins, hot pads, washclothes, etc.  She worked so hard on it, and her booth was amazing, check out her blog!  What went first??  The Malabrigo items, of course!

There was also a ton of hand crafted jewelry, woodwork, and the PERFECT handmade soaps to go with the knitted faceclothes that I had in mind for christmas presents this year!  They smell so good, they look amazing, so I couldn’t resist.  I got 8 soaps!!  I have to get some coordinating cotton yarn now.

Here’s a pic of the washcloth opened up.  I made up this pattern as I went along. 

manly knit gift set 3

Here’s the one I made for my mom last year…

Organic cotton face cloth

I have so much knitting to do though!  I want to finish the thunderstorm sweater… I’ll be lucky if I get one or two more waschlothes made before christmas.

Thunderstorm Sweater Update

thunderstorm sweater

Here’s a quick update on the thunderstorm swater:    I’m almost to the cloud!!  Lots of car knitting this weekend.  It’s knitting up quick too since it’s Malabrigo Twist on size 10 needles!  I’m having a blast knitting it.  I have all of the measurements written out… but I’m going to be winging it a bit as I get to the yoke!  This will be my first no-pattern sweater.  Let’s hope I learned something from the sweater classes that I took from Jared Flood and Ysolda Teague!!