Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Tradition Continues

In my family, new members are welcomed with a Christmas stocking, usually knit by me or my mother. The newest member is Baby Ford, third child of my cousin and his wife.

For this stocking I chose the Cascade Yarns Christmas Stockings pattern, with changes, of course.

I did use Cascade 220: 8505 white, 8894 green, 7818 blue, and 9404 red. I knit it on US 4 needles because I am a “relaxed” (that is, loose) knitter and I like the stocking fabric to be a little tighter than usual. One change I made was a short-row heel; the specified heel looked out of proportion to my eye.

Some of the designs came from the Cascade pattern; others came from other sources. I especially like the blue and white section, which is from Annemore #7, a design in Selbuvotter by Terri Shea. It looks very Christmas-y to me.

I used duplicate stitch for the name because I finished the stocking before is name was revealed.

I was lucky to get Baby Ford as my assignment. My mother will knit stockings for this cousin’s sister, who had twins a few weeks before Ford was born. She decided to aim for Christmas 2013 for her stockings. I did advise my uncle — grandfather to all of these babies — that someone in the next generation needs to learn how to knit stockings if he wants the tradition to continue.

So happy holidays to the newest members of the family, their parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, and cousins of all degrees of separation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Everyone Needs Extra Yarn

Looking for a last-minute gift for a knitter or a future knitter? Or for someone who will enjoy a charming story and illustrations? This book is perfect.

The main character, Annabelle, finds what looks like an ordinary box full of ordinary yarn. But it turns out it isn’t.

And this may look like an ordinary children’s book but it isn’t. Adults will enjoy it just as much as children will. I liked it a lot.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Another Icelandic Shawl

Last year, I knit the Icelandic Lace Shawl with lots and lots of changes. I had a lot of the yarn leftover so I knit another Icelandic shawl, Halfskak by Sigridur Halldorsdottir from Three-Cornered and Long Shawls. Again, I made lots and lots of changes. And, once again, I am happy with the results.

Yarn: Knit Picks lace weight: undyed (white), Jewels (blue), Lost Lake (green), and Sunset (red)

Needles: US 6

Finished size: 25 inches center back


  • Extra stitched added to each side and slipped.
  • Fewer colors than original (I really am trying to knit from stash).
  • Stockinette, not garter, on the white section.
  • Extra repeats of the white section.
  • Centered double decreases on the colored section.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More Scarves

Scarves are always good carry-along projects, projects to try a new or unusual yarn, and a way to use up some stash yarn. These two recent projects fit the bill.

The turquoise one is Flutter by Miriam Felton, an old favorite. I picked this pattern to try a yarn that was new to me. This Flutter is slightly shorter than previous Flutters, 40 repeats of the center instead of 50, but still successful.

Yarn: Jojoland Ballad, 100 percent wool, 220 yards/50 grams; 2 balls.
Needles: US 3 (3.25mm)
Beads: Toho 6/0 gold-lined rainbow crystal
Finished size: 7.5 inches x 54 inches

This Flutter will end up in my gift box, waiting for just the right recipient.

The green scarf is Mead Scarf by Elizabeth Morrison. Finding a pattern for this marled green and gray yarn required some work: a pattern that would show off the yarn and be interesting to knit. Mead filled the bill.

Yarn: 50 percent merino/50 percent yak from School Products in New York City.
Needles: US 3 (3.25mm)
Finished size: 8 inches x 78 inches

This scarf is for my husband, who selected the color. One of his “rewards” for hanging around yarns stores with me is that he can find yarns that he likes.

Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving! And, if you are so inclined, a successful Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ready for Winter

Thorpe hat
Earlier this year, one of my husband’s students brought me some llama yarn from Peru. I had asked for llama yarn anticipating a presentation on llama fiber that I made at the annual Boise lace knitting retreat. He did a good job for a rookie yarn buyer.

The yarn is sort of chunky weight. It still has some guard hair, which is not unusual for llama yarn, but overall, it is not too scratchy and definitely wearable on a head.

Because of the weight, it is not great for lace knitting, but it is excellent for warm winter hats. One hat was Thorpe, a free pattern available on Ravelry. The other is Jared Flood’s Quincy, one of my all-time favorites, available for purchase on Ravelry. I used size US8 (5mm) needles both both, going to US7 needles for the top of Quincy.
Quincy hat

One thing about llama fiber is that it is warm. Very, very warm. And these hats are no exception. We get exceptionally cold weather (for us) about once a year, and these hats will get good use.

In my llama research, I came across this poem by Ogden Nash:

The Lama

The one-l lama,
He’s a priest;
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet a silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.

Then Sheri introduced me to the llama song. I will not post it here; you can search for “llama song” and find several videos. Listen at your peril; it will become an earworm in no time! Llama llama duck!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Tricks for an Old Dog

I have been knitting for a long time. I have a few preferred methods for casting on and binding off that have worked well for me over the years. For casting on, I generally use long-tail cast-on for “regular” knitting with the occasional cable cast-on or knitted cast-on; Emily Ocker’s cast-on for circular knitting; and a provisional cast-on with a crochet hook. For casting off, I use the traditional bind-off, Icelandic bind-off, or crocheted cast-off for doilies and some shawls.

My repertoire just expanded with two new books: Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor and Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting by Cap Sease.

I like both books. Yes, there is some duplication between them, but both are handy reference books. Both have clear text, illustrations, and photos, and both offer applications for each cast-on and bind-off. Each book gives the inquiring knitter lots of fodder for experimenting and thinking.

And I will finally learn the Channel Island cast-on.

The attentive reader may note that I use “cast on” and “cast off” for the verb and “cast-on” and “cast-off” for the noun. That’s what happens after a career as a copy editor.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Best Husband in the World

My husband, Mike, recently went to Cape Town, South Africa, to attend Cape Wine and to give a speech at the Nederburg Auction. I chose not go because he could only be gone for a week and the cost/benefit of going along did not compute for me this time. However, I did ask for yarn from South Africa, if possible. I specifically asked for yarn produced in South Africa, not yarn imported from somewhere else and sold in South Africa.

I have total faith in his yarn shopping abilities. He has been to enough yarn stores with me that he knows what I like.

He did good! He did great! He asked the concierge at his hotel, who directed him to Spin Knits, a short walk away. Then, he found someone in the shop to help him buy four skeins of yarn from Nurturing Fibres. One is sock yarn in Blissful, a combination of purples, pinks, and blues. The three lace yarns are Georgina (pink), Dappled Forest (green), and Truffle (brown). The hand-painted colors are rich and gorgeous. I cannot wait to knit with these yarns.

He also brought home some South African wines that promise to be just as beautiful as the yarn. And a cookbook with South African braai (barbecue and grill) recipes. The book is in English, although I will have a little translation to do: a tot, I think, is about a tablespoon?

Now, let us give a round of applause to a husband who will go yarn shopping for his wife when he is 10,000+ miles away from home and surrounded by beautiful scenery and excellent wines.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Pattern: Heads are Round
from the Top Down by
Christy Cooper
I usually don’t say much about hats and similar items, and this post is not about hats. It is about the yarn. Which I love. And hate.

The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Rittenhouse merino 5-ply.

This is what I like:
  • Manos is a non-profit organization that promotes economic and social opportunities for rural women through yarn. Each of the two skeins I bought included information on the village and the artisan.
  • The colors are gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.
  • The yarn is soft and lovely to knit with.

What I hate:
  • Knots. Each skein had at least two knots. Grrrrrrrrrr.
  • The yarn stretches a lot when washed and blocked. I ended up ripping out each hat and re-knitting it with fewer stitches. Yes, I could have swatched. But I have knit dozens and dozens of hats with all kinds of yarn and have never seen one that stretches this much. And I am a tight knitter; I knit these on US4 needles.

I wish the “loves” clearly outweighed the “hates,” but I am not sure.

Boyfriend Hat by
Stephanie Nicole

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Fair Results

Happy times for me at this year’s Western Washington Fair in Puyallup.

Jessica’s shawl
Large doily
Small doily

Summary: three blue ribbons (first place) and one red ribbon (second place).

No, we did not try deep-fried butter. It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. What next?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Scarf

I have said this before but I will say it again: I am fortunate that my husband likes to wear things that I knit for him. He has a whole wardrobe of scarves. This latest one is a “souvenir” from our trip to New York City last spring.

We visited a few tourist spots — the New York Public Library main branch is worth a visit, for example — but also some yarn shops, including School Products, which is the mother ship of Karabella yarns, plus all sorts of other interesting things piled in baskets around the shop.

This yarn, for example, was labeled as a merino/yak lace weight tweed. Not something you see every day.

The trick was to find a pattern that would show off the colors and the tweediness. After fooling around with it, I decided on a simple lace pattern that I liked and that he liked.

Some details: size 3.25mm needles; finished size of 9 inches x 68 inches; and weight of 100 grams.

In other news, our house was flamingoed last weekend as part of a Rotary club fundraiser for a scholarship fund for a local high school. As I understand it, someone can pay money to have a flock of 24 flamingos delivered and “planted” for about 48 hours. It was funny, fun, harmless, and done for a good cause. We were kind of sorry to see the flamingos fly away.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brussels Sprouts

A Brussels sprouts doily? No, not really. But Herbert Niebling’s Ranunkel reminded me of the Brussels sprouts in my garden.

The details:
  • Pattern: Ranunkel by Herbert Niebling, Kunststricken Schöne alte Blütenmuster, 40 rounds
  • Changes: Instead of K7tog, I slipped 3 stitches one at a time, k4tog, passed the 3 slipped stitches over
  • Thread: Cébélia DMC, size 30, color 799
  • Needles: US0 (2mm)
  • Finished size: approximately 9 inches diameter
Now, compare the Brussels sprouts to the petals on the ranunculus flower in the doily.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Doily

While looking for the next doily project, I went through my Lacy Knitters Guild newsletters, always a treasure trove of ideas. When I came upon this project, I knew it was next in line for me.

The details:
  • Pattern: Decorative Lace Cushion, Belgian Pattern, from the guild newsletter 2011-3, charted by Pieter Strydom, 77 rounds. The design also appears as the center of Herbert Niebling’s Christel doily, found in Kunststricken Grosse und kleine Decken.  
  • Thread: Lizbeth, size 40, #40-168 Latte Foam, almost all of the 300-yard ball. I am liking Lizbeth thread more and more.
  • Needles: 1.75mm (US00).
  • Finished size: about 12 inches diameter.
This one was fun to knit. Perhaps I will knit the Christel version some day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Needs Some Changes

Some patterns just need to be changed, at least for my taste. The Icelandic Lace Shawl is one. The pattern appears in three places: Three-Cornered & Long Shawls by Sigrídur Halldorsdóttir, with a translation into English by Marilyn van Keppel; PieceWork magazine, July/August 1996; and online at Knitting Daily.

I used Knit Picks laceweight yarn: Bare Merino (white) and Shadow Lost Lake (green), Jewels (blue), and Vineyard (dark red). Knit on US6 (4mm) needles.

This is one of those patterns that I needed to read thoroughly and completely before starting, making margin notes along the way. Based on that reading, I made changes from the get-go:

  • Fewer colors.
  • Provisional cast-on instead of a “regular” cast-on to pick up stitches later.
  • Stockinette instead of reverse stockinette, with 1 stitch garter edge.
  • Centered double decrease in Chart B.
  • Directional double decreases elsewhere instead of k3tog.
  • Picked up for the border from the provisional cast on, knit 4 rows, purl 1 row to create ridge.
  • Finished with 6 rows garter and Icelandic bind-off instead of crochet bind-off.
The shawl is about 25 inches long. If I make it again, I can see more changes I might make. Someday.

Monday, April 30, 2012


Apparently I am still on a color binge. I was not intending to make this but I saw a sample in a yarn store and had to have it.

  • Pattern: Wingspan, a free pattern on Ravelry.
  • Yarn: Schoppel Zauberball; 75 percent wool, 25 percent nylon; 100 grams; 420 meters. I used 88 grams for eight wedges. Color: frische Fische.
  • Needles: US4
This was fun to knit. Not sure I would knit it again (it did get quite boring) but it was fun once. And I love the colors.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Color Burst

Maybe it was sunny California. A friend was knitting a scarf like this and I immediately added it to my must-do list. Then I saw the yarn on sale. And it made a great travel project during a recent trip to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. Another bonus: It goes with practically everything.

The details:
  • Pattern: Wisp from Knitty, without the buttons.
  • Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn; color S184; 100 grams; 420 meters; 70 percent wool, 30% nylon
  • Needles: US6 (4.25mm)
  • Finished size: 9 inches x 80 inches

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Knit-One-Below Scarf

Earlier this year, my knitting guild, the Puyallup Knitting Guild, held a class on knit-one-below, with a scarf as a class project.

Once I got the hang of it, the knitting was very easy. My scarf is very long because the recipient likes long scarves that he can wear in a slip-knot kind of style.

The details:
  • Yarn: One skein each of Cascade 220 in gray (8400) and gray-brown-white tweed (9539).
  • Needles: US7 (4.5mm)
  • Finished size: 7 inches by 83 inches

I like the way the two yarns make a nice tweed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Message?

We recently traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. This was on the wall in our room in our hotel in New York, the Hilton Fashion District. I do not know if this saying is in every room (I hope not) but I am glad it was in ours.

In case you cannot read it, it says: “Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again.” — Dorothy Day.

Good advice.

We spent a lot of time walking around New York, and I had the sore feet to prove it. Visited two yarn stores that were worth the sore feet: School Products and Purl Soho. Very different stores, but each a pleasure in its own way.

Then on to Washington, D.C., and Looped Yarn Works, only a few blocks from our hotel. How fortunate is that? I only wish I had more time to sit and knit a while.

But I am glad to be back home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Knitting the doily was easy; taking its picture to good effect has been much harder. The thread colors are very subtle but my photo attempts have resulted in too much contrast or turned them into mud. I opted here for one of the muddier ones but I think the colors come through. I hope so anyway.

The details:
  • Pattern: Helen from Old World Treasures from Gloria Penning, 73 rounds.
  • Thread: Lizbeth size 40, color 167 Jungle Greens (lots of greens, some yellow, a little teal).
  • Needles: 1.75mm (US size 00).
  • Finished size: 10 inches diameter.
The only change I made was to make the double decreases in the petals as centered double decreases.

Based on only a few projects, I very much like the Lizbeth thread. I purchased the threads from Debbie at DS9Designs, who carries most, if not all of the colors, in several sizes (no affiliation, just a happy customer). Some of the variegated colors have too much contrast for my taste, but some, like Jungle Greens, are far more subtle and more appealing to me.

The photography issue still bugs me. I try to take pictures outside in natural, overcast light (we have a lot of overcast here in the Pacific Northwest), on different backgrounds, with and without fill flash. Suggestions?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vintage Knits for Cold Weather

It is snowing here in Western Washington. Maybe not a lot of snow compared to the Yukon, perhaps, but a lot of snow for us. I can enjoy it because I do not have to go anywhere.

I was looking in my box of cold-weather gear just in case I decided to go outside, and found these vintage hats and mittens. My mother knit and crocheted these for me, probably in the 1970s. I remember wearing all of these at one time or another.

If there is a lesson here — and I am not sure there is — it is that, with a little care, some knit and crocheted items can last for many years. The color palette may be a little out-of-date, but they are still warm and cozy. But I probably will not go outside today.