Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Sorry Sight

I've been quiet lately because I haven't been able to knit much. It seems that I'm experiencing hormonal changes that are affecting my vision (I am, unfortunately, "of that age"). Not only is my near-sightedness fluctuating, my astigmatism is going haywire. Sometimes I can see beautifully, but, more often, things look skewed, especially when I try to focus on my hands as I knit. I've had my vision checked and ordered new glasses only to find that my prescription changed again. I'm on a two-week plan with my optometrist now to see when my eyes stop changing so I can get a prescription that will work.

In the meantime, I've been cleaning like a bandit. Last week, I vacuumed under all the furniture and along the baseboards, rotated mattresses and washed all the bedding, and even hand-washed ALL of my sweaters (the floors were covered with sweaters on top of towels). One of my sons pointed out that it's too early to do spring cleaning. Ah, but when spring does come, I'll be ahead of the game.

I'm not writing this for sympathy or pity, but I would welcome encouraging words from anyone who has gone through similar vision problems. Oy, how long does this last?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mock Cables and Lace--A Finished Pair

I finished the second Mock Cables and Lace Sock (page 102 of Sock Knitting Master Class) and am thoroughly pleased with the pair.

I noticed that I've used close to same color yarn for three pairs of the socks I've knitted from Sock Knitting Master Class. I do love the caramel-ly gold color, but I think there's a better reason.
A few years ago I bought a pair of Taos clogs. The clogs are covered in real color-stranded knitting! Many of my socks clash with the rust, gold, and brown pattern, so I've lately gravitated to solid colors that match the shoes. In addition to the Mock Cables and Ribs, my Rose Ribs (page 80) and Knot Socks (page 96) coordinate beautifully with these most special shoes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Handspun Hat

I really should stop feeling so clever every time I knit something out of my handspun, but I just can't help it.  If I had known how wonderful handspun is to knit with, I would have taken up spinning years ago. Now I feel I have to make up for lost time.
I just finished a hat for my oldest out of "barn blend" fleece I got from Stargazer Ranch Alpacas last June. I was afraid that pure alpaca wouldn't hold its shape so I carried a strand of Marianne Isager fingering weight wool (Wool 1) along with my handspun. Worked in a modified k2, p2 rib, the hat is lusciously thick and, no doubt, warm.
My son only takes it off to sleep. Talk about gratification!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mock Cables and Lace--Halfway Done!

With the completion of the toe of the first Mock Cables and Lace sock (page 102), I'm officially halfway through Sock Knitting Master Class.

This sock was relatively easy for me since I'd knitted the originals shown in the book and was familiar with the stitch pattern. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed knitting it a third time.
I made the following adjustments to the instructions:

  1. Instead of the magic-loop method with a 40" circular needle, I used my very sharp Signature double-pointed needles to make easy work of the twisted stitches and right-twists.
  2. Instead of the k2, p1 cable cast-on, I used the old Norwegian (also called German twist) cast-on. My only excuse is that I was lazy and didn't want to have to follow the chart for the cast-on row.
  3. I decided that the heel flap was a bit too long so I stopped after 32 rows (instead of 36 rows). That meant that I only had 16 chain edge stitches to pick up for each gusset. As specified in the instructions, I picked up an extra stitch in each corner to help prevent holes from forming, making a total of 17 stitches picked up at each side for a total of 92 stitches (instead of 96 stitches). I decreased the gussets to 74 stitches as specified.
  4. When using the zigzag bind-off (described on page 46), I worked the first two and last two stitches  together on each needle to help minimize the "ears" that can result from this type of bind-off.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That Scarf I'm Wearing

Every now and then I get a query about the scarf I'm wearing in my "about me" photo.
Though I'd love to claim it as my own design, it's Lisa Daehlin's Lacy Kerchief Scarf from the Summer 2005 issue of Interweave Knits. The scarf is pictured on page 49; the instructions begin on page 53. This is a very good example of how a different yarn can give a whole new look to a project.

You might notice that my scarf is decidedly different than the one pictured in the magazine. Instead of using sportweight mercerized cotton at 5 sts/inch, I made my version with fingering-weight cashmere at 8 sts/inch. I didn't save any notes on this project, but I believe I used size 3 or 4 (3.25 or 3.5 mm) needles. I followed the instructions exactly as written and worked the number of pattern repeats specified.

The original scarf measured 82 1/2" long and 12 1/2" wide at the widest point; mine measures about 80" long and 8" wide at the widest point. It has probably stretched through the years because I remember that it was both shorter and narrower than the original, which was my intention.

If I were to knit it again, I'd make the tails shorter by working the leaf chart just one (not six) times at each end of the triangular garter-stitch section.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mock Cables and Lace Heel Flap

I'm making progress on the Mock Cables and Lace socks from Sock Knitting Master Class. I particularly like the heel flap pattern in this design. Instead of the usual k1, slip 1 pattern, I worked twisted ribs and a few right-twist cables (worked without a cable needle!).

I hope to finish the first sock later today. It will mark the half-way point in the book--I will have completed 8 and one-half pairs of socks and will have 8 and one-half pairs to go!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just for Fun

One of my son's has asked for a hat (he lost the one I knitted two years ago, but that's another story). They don't often ask for something knitted so I'm going to jump on it.

This will be the perfect opportunity to use the yarn I spun from the alpaca "barn blend" fleece I bought last summer. I bet handspun alpaca is really, really great to knit with!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wool People 2

Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed just uploaded Wool People Volume 2.

I am happy to report that I have the great honor of being among the 14 designers for this volume. Check out Guston and let me know if you decide to knit it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Useful Knitting App

I was recently given the phone app Yarn U by the author, Mary Beth Klatt. I don't normally write product reviews, but this is worth knowing about.

Available through iTunes, Yarn U is an extensive catalogue of knitting yarns that can be sorted by fiber or name. In addition to a short description and specs such as fiber content, yardage, and cost, you'll find pros and cons for each yarn and links to free patterns. You can leave comments, share with friends, and mark favorites. There is also a feature that lets you link to manufacturers and shops and locate them through mapquest, but I couldn't get this feature to work on my phone.

At $2.99, this is a great way to learn about yarns that are currently available, with frequent updates.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Classes for January and February 2012

I get enough questions about my teaching schedule that I thought I'd try monthly postings for upcoming classes and locations. Below are the classes I have scheduled for January and February, 2012.
I hope to meet some of you in class!

January 21, 2012: Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, Boulder, CO
9:30 am to 12:30 pm: Conquering Kitchener Stitch
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm: The Mathematics of Knitting

February 10, 2012: Paradise Fibers, Spokane, WA
6 hours: Cast-On and Bind-Off Techniques

February 11, 2012: Paradise Fibers, Spokane, WA
6 hours: Toe-Up Socks

February 25, 2012: Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, Boulder, CO
10:00 am to 5:00 pm: Cast-On and Bind-Off Techniques

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life!

Happy New Year!
Although I don't make New Year's resolutions, I do usually reflect on the joys of the previous year, and 2011 was a good one.
The highlights for me were teaching at Sock Summit, Interweave Knitting Lab, and Knitter's Review Retreat, in addition to teaching at various yarn shops and guilds.
I also attended my first spinning convention at SOAR (SpinOff Autumn Retreat) and I spun yarn and knitted several projects including a pair of socks, a shawl, a scarf, a pair of fingerless mitts, and even a sweater.
Sock Knitting Master Class was published and Knit Handy and Crochet Handy became available as iPhone apps (they tell me droid versions will be available in early 2012).
I managed to write posts for this blog on a somewhat regular schedule and I have become active in the Budd's Buds group on Ravelry (a forum for questions and discussions about my various books and/or patterns, and an opportunity to comment on and post pictures of any and all variations made of my themes). Please visit!
But one of the best things that happened in 2011 is that my 90-year-old father completely recovered from his bike accident of September, 2010, when he fell on a curb, breaking 8 ribs and puncturing a lung. Four weeks in the hospital didn't keep him down and he got back on his bike in January. Two days ago, he past the 4,000-mile mark on his odometer for this year! Here's a photo of him two days ago at the spot where he had his accident.
If you ask me, he's still dangerously close to the fateful curb. And what about all that snow and ice on the street? Is he inspirational or just plain nuts?