see we get to the end but that's where we begin

So I fear that my knitting is about to become very one-note. When I first started knitting, I declared that I hated knitting socks and it was terrible and I would never do it. I couldn't understand why people were obsessed with them, why they knit dozens of pairs, happily, at breakneck speeds. People would come into the shop and clear out new orders of sock yarn like they were never going to see or buy yarn again.

I don't quite remember what tipped the scales for me. Since this blog exists to put (and keep) records straight, I'll say that I think it was a particular yarn, Mountain Colors, that came in really exquisite colorways. Being entirely unable to pick just one nor able to justify buying a bunch of different single skeins for my sole use (ha!) I decided I would once again try to make socks, this time for every member of my family. You really can justify your way into anything with knitting. The more delusional the better.

I'm also relatively sure that I decided I hated the traditional heel gusset. I still kind of do, but I have this pattern committed to memory and so it's easiest to stick to what I can remember. Anyway, back to the beginning- for those socks, my second (and third and fourth) attempts at knitting them, I used contrast yarn for afterthought heels and toes and had them all cranked out by Christmas. Everyone in my family reacted with enthusiasm that only family can have for hand-knitted gifts, but particularly my Dad. He is infamous for being hard to give gifts to, especially if they're knits- won't wear scarves, gloves, or hats. He'll wear sweaters but I couldn't/can't knit him a sweater a year. So, as you can see, my sock obsession started from a good place: to make gifts for my Dad.

So here are his Father's Day socks, my tried-and-true pattern. Most of the socks I knit still go to my Dad, but my love of bright colors (and his aversion to said colors) forced me to branch out and knit more socks for me and for other members of my family. We recently traveled to Alberta, Canada and visited a lovely little yarn shop there, where of course I made a significant contribution to the local economy and got enough yarn for another four pairs of socks. So...Kniterary Club is becoming all socks, all the time! For the near future, at least.

Come to think of it, I think my skein of yarn from that first crazy yarn-buying craze is still stashed away, waiting to be knit...


out on the desert plains all night

So. I have a blog. It seems that I've just now remembered. And this blog, it is/was about knitting. Which I also seem to have just now remembered is a thing I do and do well. A friend recently asked for a pattern for something I made, and had it not been for looking it up on this blog I would have had to go back through the much-worn item, counting it stitch-for-stitch and hoping my terrible memory wouldn't be a problem.

You see, the way I learned to knit was having a very creative teacher essentially say to hell with patterns, a philosophy I have completely embraced ever since. I've had people say I can't do something and then I do it, I've had successes and I've had failures but most of all I've enjoyed learning and growing and making friends and drinking lots of wine and living. That's what you get when you say to hell with rules.

I've not posted for years at this point, and I can't say when I'll post again. But here's what I've been up to and why, and maybe this blog will expand to include things that aren't knitting so I don't have to vanish when I put it down for a while.

Best friends. #sweaterpets

My last post was in September 2012, in the midst of very exciting (and distracting) life events. I got engaged, moved across the country, planned a wedding, and got married. I've changed jobs a bunch, and I started cycling like crazy. I started canning! Oh, and we moved. All my knitting friends said they were sad I wasn't knitting, but it was hard to be away from them and stay interested in the knitting when really what I wanted and missed were my friends. Plus, when you move to Louisiana, you quickly realize that you essentially live in a swamp and knitting does not belong in the swamp. 

I felt guilty for the large tubs of yarn wasting away in the closet and I dutifully carried a sock around on the long car trips to visit family in other states. It took me a full two years to finish these: 

And let me tell you, these socks look normal in the photo. They cannot be photographed side-by-side because they do not match. If you limped through a project for two years (especially a project you could do in your sleep) and then they didn't match when you finished them, well, you would be discouraged. I threw them in a basket and didn't even weave in the ends. But when a friend announced that she and her husband were expecting a new baby this summer, I dragged myself into action and cranked out a baby blanket. 

Frivolous tassels fix everything.

This is a simple moss stitch blanket- it needed to be fast and minimally challenging (see sock defeat above). So I cast on 61 stitches with a worsted yarn doubled (Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, 10 skeins of which I had mysteriously acquired years ago) and got knitting. The color isn't my favorite, but it's a good neutral baby color. But it needed something else...it wasn't quite enough on its own. So I dug through my stash, found some Tahki Cotton Classic and made tassels! 

Revitalized by this success, I knit Christmas stockings as a belated wedding gift for some dear friends. 

I love these stockings, and the bright colors help put a modern twist on the very traditional pattern. The pattern is by Cascade Yarns, and I used a combination of machine-washable Berroco Vintage and Comfort.

So that's my update. I've started another ugly sock because I had the yarn to use, and I'm also knitting another baby blanket just like the one above since I have the yarn left over and it will be nice to have a baby gift stashed away. It does feel good to be knitting again. So for now, I'm heading back out to enjoy the swamp- but more updates to come.

The swamp, aka Louisiana


the choices color all i've done

Socks are the perfect project...especially these ones. They don't take a lot of attention or space, and are the most functional garment I make. As fall and winter approach (spring, too, for that matter), these socks are perfect for keeping your feet warm on chilly days, or slipping on to sleep in at night. I am firmly of the opinion that you can't have too many socks!

I went through a long summer knitting lull, and these socks signal (I hope) the end to that. I just cleaned out my knitting collection and re-organized everything, so I am resolving not to buy any more yarn. NO MORE YARN! Writing it in a public place makes it real. There are millions of knitting bloggers writing the exact same thing on their blogs (just like they promise to post more often), I know, but I'm really trying to make it true. It's up to you to help!

These socks are sort of hilarious. You might (not) remember them, so here's a reminder. At the time, I decided they were absolutely hideous and should not be knitted into anything ever. Mostly this was because the sock on the right was the first one, and happened in the most unflattering sequence of the stripe repeat. One day, desperate for a project, I grabbed this out of my sock yarn bag because it was at the top. I was horrified at what I had grabbed ("oh not THAT one!"), but was running late and didn't have a choice. So I started them (again), hated them (again), but kept on knitting. To my delight, I liked it better once I got through a complete stripe sequence!

So I started the second sock cheerfully. Until I got a giant snarl of yarn, that is- and discovered that there were four ends. Once I untangled everything, I had two balls of yarn...which you can see on the foot of the right-hand sock, where the red stripe suddenly isn't anymore. Most hilariously, when I started the second ball, the stripe pattern reversed, so the toes are the same colors on each sock but they're reversed on the right sock. I'm normally a pretty OCD person, so this should have been horrifying and unacceptable, but whatever. These socks are hysterical, so why wouldn't they have crazy things happening with the stripe pattern? (Apologies to those of you who are twitching right now. You are better people than me.) I don't know the name of this yarn because I tossed the label (foolishly). It's called Holiday Color, and that's all I know.

Next up: bright green socks, but at least they're not fluorescent! This yarn was the last skein of self-dyed yarn that I had stashed away from my days teaching workshops on the subject. The color is really hard to photograph and comes across brighter than they are in real life...but these will be a nice, cheerful reminder of leafy green summer days when there's snow and ice covering everything in sight. The yarn used is Plymouth Yarns Jeanne, which is a fingering-weight nylon/wool blend. Lovely!

And finally: socks for my father! He doesn't do bright colors, so this was a great choice for him. I used Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, which looks and feels lovely (but I bet you can see where I changed skeins in the left sock). I would not buy this yarn again, though...it splits like crazy and slowed me down a lot when I was working on these.

Happy fall, Kniterary Club! Time to start wearing wool socks.


a silhouette in dreams

My experience knitting baby clothes is extremely limited- I've not had the chance to knit that many garments, and I think this sweater is about my fourth career baby garment.

This is actually the second time I've knit this sweater, but it's been years since the last one. I love how it's a unisex style, looks nice and cozy, and is interesting but not crazy to knit. You're supposed to use an aran weight yarn, but of course I couldn't find one that was affordable/washable, so I decided that gauge didn't really matter and held two strands of Berroco Vintage DK together. It worked out perfectly!

The buttons (naturally) are my favorite part. It seems like I can't knit a baby sweater without button drama, so it came as no surprise that I would need an additional button. Why on earth would I have bought an extra? Sigh, we never learn. Again, luck was on my side and I was able to get an extra at the yarn shop...which is good, because these buttons worked perfectly and provided all the right kinds of contrast. Hooray, my first finished knitting project in months!


the stars that give you vertigo

A very simple post: socks! This is yarn that I dyed as a demo during one of my sock-dyeing classes...I believe it was years ago, when I was still in Minnesota. This yarn traveled around with me, and I just never quite got around to doing anything with it. I finally started these months and months ago, just before the great knitting block of 2011. These are simple socks, with the 1x1 ribbing continued down the foot for a better fit.

Though I never thought I'd get them done in time for fall...sometimes I surprise myself. Now I'm project-less, but have some new yarn that I'm pretty anxious to dig into. The cool weather certainly helps!


gonna tell them all just what i want

Walter was born to be a model, and to prove to the world and the interwebs that CATS LOVE SWEATERS.

Maybe love is a strong word...but he didn't hate it, and kindly allowed me to pose him. He's absolutely adorable and somewhat not bothered by the fact that he's wearing a sweater.

There's a reason a cat is in this sweater instead of a dog. Our sad tale begins innocently- the sweater began its life as an adorable garment intended for Emmylou the dog. However, I threw it in the wash one day on what I thought was the cold-cold cycle...but it was set on warm, and when I pulled the sweater out it had felted and shrunk. :( I'm pretty ashamed to admit that this is the truth...

Now that Walter is through with it, the sweater will be given to a little Jack Russell who's a more appropriate size to wear it. I can't believe I shrank this, especially since I really really really know better, but I guess this happens to everyone at some point. Besides, who doesn't love a cat in a sweater?! We'll call it his Halloween costume.


and you're just there to kick it

Last night, at about 11pm, I wove in the last end of my Caylix blanket. And then I cried with joy, invented a few new combinations of curses to hurl at it, and fell asleep with it wrapped cozily around me. That pretty much sums up making this afghan.

This was the first real crocheted thing I had ever attempted to make. Now I'm pretty good at it, but it still isn't as natural/addictive/soothing as knitting.

There's not a ton for me to say about this that isn't super technical. I think it's really pretty, but a little smaller than I had hoped...mine turned out to be about 40 x 49" at its widest points (my original gauge = accurate, hexagons are 4.5" across). It's also not super-warm because it's full of (intentional) holes. I guess this is a summer-y afghan?

Notes, changes, corrections (Ravelry project page, for comparison):

1. You actually need 98 hexagons. :( This was kind of a bummer for me to find out, since I had previously celebrated finishing all the &$%*# things. 24 each of hexagons A and B, and 25 each of hexagons C and D.

2. I decided that I didn't really like the star motif that was in the original pattern. (You can see a picture of it on the Ravelry page above, there isn't a detail picture in the published pattern book. :( ) Since I hadn't been able to anticipate this, I tried a few of them (chalking the oddness up to my crochet inexperience). I still hated them, so I opted to use the center section of the hexagon instead. To do this, follow the instructions for rounds 1 and 2 of the hexagons, using Barley/your substitution for Barley. After the first TR in the petal, slip a stitch on one side of the seam (on picots) between hexagons. Work the next two TRs, then slip a stitch on the other side of your seam. Repeat, and fasten off with a slip stitch. The purpose is twofold...it keeps the flower motif nice and flat, plus it reinforces the seam joining the picot edges. Each petal should attach on either side of each joined picot, a total of four times...which is a perfect fit!

2a. I did the same thing for the edge motif, you just won't join two of your TRs because there won't be anything to attach them to (yet).

3. Finally, I did two rounds of single crochet to edge the sucker. The one row looked a little feeble, and I wanted an extra reinforcement for the gap-filling. The second time around I worked three SCs in each picot point to preserve the wavy edginess.

3a. When you get to the space where your flowers are partially unattached, you're going to chain two, SC in the TR where you would normally slip a stitch, chain two, SC in the TR where you'd normally slip a stitch, chain 2, continue SC-ing until you get to another space. Repeat.

There! It's done. I will never make another one again, but if you want to I wish you all kinds of luck. Too many ends, too many pieces! It's really gorgeous though.

Finally, detail of my modified center motif. Enjoy your weekend, and happy summer!!


but you're such a fast walker

After a long hiatus and a significant change in season, Kniterary Club returns! (Even though it's just me, I'm still calling it a club. It makes me sound more legit, right?)

Above are my second pair of picot socks. The first pair were not only adorable but useful- on cold winter nights, I wore them to bed! I had about half a skein of yarn leftover from a multifiber scarf (post forthcoming), and the yarn was too nice to leave languishing in my stash. Picot socks! What a great solution! I finished the first one on a roadtrip a few weeks ago, but then I moved and sort of forgot that I could knit and remembered how to pack instead. It happens. Now I'm happily the crazy person on the bus who furiously knits socks on her way to work. (It's totally worth the loss of face to have hand-knitted socks.)

Next up, my father's birthday present! I just re-read my Ravelry comments, and I had been so self-congratulating when I started these socks in December. I had been knitting birthday presents 6 months in advance, and before Christmas to boot! I had been SUCH A GOOD PLANNER! Well, I finished one sock and forgot about the pair until a week before his birthday. Frantic knitting (see above comment about buses) ensued.

The colors really are perfect- go blue!- but I can only imagine the trouble ArtYarns went to to produce this yarn. You can see the single green stitch in between blue and gold sections...I should try reproducing the colorway at home sometime just to see how spectacularly I fail.

The final sock pair I present is the infamous (to me and my knitting cohorts) Flying Circus socks. These were the magic wound-on-a-flying-saucer-we-promise-they'll-match socks. I can agree that they match, at least for the most part. The tie-dye pattern broke down in the foot each time...kind of disappointing, but it was a fun experiment. Silliness.

The best part about the spring/summer? Succulents. Best part about a new house? Enough sun for them to grow. Happy weekend, everyone!


through the frostbitten dawn

I had a little bit of Rowan Big Wool to use up, and since I really wanted to be economical and use every last bit...I set myself a challenge. Plus I never wear hats, and I needed one for a skiing trip. This hat was actually started twice. The first time I used needles that were too small, so I had no hope of getting a hat out of the little bit of yarn I had left. The second time, I used size 11 double point needles and tried to keep the knitting really loose. It ended up being perfect! I had just enough yarn leftover to improvise a pom pom....with a cracker box as my form.

Notice the perfection in this picture: silly improvised tools, blueberry beer, and a game of Risk. (I lost the game, but at least I'm better at knitting than I am at world domination.)

And finally, my mittens!!! I knit these first, since I needed them more urgently. I think I knit these on size 8 needles so they'd be really dense and warm...which they are, the only problem being when you wash them. It seriously took them 3 days to dry out all the way. :(

Off for one last weekend of cross country skiing before (hopefully) spring arrives. And of course, I'll be wearing my fancy new striped mittens and hat!!


anything to make you smile

Now that it won't spoil any surprises, I can blog about Christmas presents! This scarf, above, and mittens, below, were gifts for my mother. Like me, she's often cold...so mittens are a must when it's chilly outside, and more often than not, scarves serve as indoor AND outdoor wear.

It all started with a trip to Virginia in October. I knew Mom needed new mittens (the thumb on the old ones was wearing thin), and I was visiting my fabulous knitting teacher in Charlottesville...we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit The Needle Lady yarn shop! I promptly bought extravagant yarn for mittens: a skein of Classic Elite Alpaca Sox, a skein of Be Sweet Boucle Mohair, and a skein of Stacy Charles Luna (sparkly mohair). The three strands together look like the mitten above! They are incredibly soft and warm, and the colors combined perfectly into a nice, soft purple with just a hint of sparkle.

I had a whole bunch of yarn left over, so I tried to brainstorm a creative way to use it up (to avoid adding to my frighteningly large- and multiplying- stash). I had made myself a scarf similar to this over the summer, and because it was so light and warm (mohair and alpaca = win) I decided it would be the best use of the remaining mitten yarn.

The scarf turned out really well, too. Because I alternated rows of different yarns, the color blending didn't work out exactly the same as the mittens...but I think that's a good thing. They match, without being exactly the same. Hopefully Mom liked them! We certainly need things like this to keep us warm over the last few weeks of winter. I just lost my mittens, so I have to knit a new pair. :(