Sunday, September 24, 2006

Progress Report

In between grading papers, I have been working diligently on a Big Black Sock for Socks for Soldiers. I am putting in an hour a day, but ribbing goes slowly. This is also my first attempt at Magic Loop. It seems to be going well, but the black yarn is an eyestrain. Thank heavens for my Ott lite!

I also whipped out the Bernat Satin MD Baby Kimono. The yarn was wonderful to work with--it was soooo smooth and soft, and I like the way the colors blended together instead of looking spotted like many variegated baby yarns. However, I thought the end product was a little heavy for our climate here. This was definitely a "girly" colorway, so I'm passing the kimono--knitted, but "undecorated"--along to my dear SIL. She is going to personalize it for an expected DGD. The bulkier weight will be just right for her needs. I sent her a list of all the different ways I had seen this kimono finished on the Mason Dixon KAL.

I also just wet blocked the poncho that I knitted for myself out of Wool of the Andes. I tried it on before blocking, and it resembled . . . .

One time when I was a preteen and before the days of pantyhose, a friend's parents invited me to go with them to a musical production at a nearby university. I wanted to be very dressed up, so I wore my new wool skirt--the gray pleated one mentioned in a former post--and my best twinset. I also "borrowed" my mother's new girdle. This was the one she hadn't yet worn because she hadn't broken it in by stretching it over the back of a chair as she usually did. Understand that this was a girdle, NOT a panty girdle. For those of you who are young, it was basically a rubberized tube that went from waist to mid-thigh with metal garters on the bottom to clip on to stockings. I wore the girdle to the event. What I had not considered was that without stockings, the girdle would begin rolling into a tight sausage roll that would end up around my upper hips every time I moved the wrong way. I made it to the first intermission, went to the rest room with my friend, and adjusted the problem. During the second act the same thing happened. This was particularly disconcerting because this was a theater in the round production and we had front row seats. By the second intermission, I gave up, and we managed to stuff the offending garment into one of our purses. Unfortunately, my friend's little sister found out what we were doing and blabbed the story to her mother, who giggled about it with her husband all the way home.

Anyway, that is exactly what this poncho was like. If I wiggled a little finger--couldn't wiggle an elbow because they were clamped to my sides--the stockinette began rolling up and up. It did, however, relax nicely when wet, so I have hopes. I will still need to fringe it when it dries.

After my frustration with Hedera, I decided I needed to try a simpler lace project, so I've begun Branching Out. I'm hoping to learn to follow a chart, but my first two motifs have been done by following the written instructions. I am using some blue-gray Silky Wool. It's not as hard as I thought it would be, but I am running lifelines at the end of each motif in case I have to frog, and I have used one already.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Big Projects on Hold

Right now things are so hectic in my life that I've postponed the lace socks in favor of just knitting basic ones. I'm also carrying quickie projects with me for security, I guess. Here is my first one--a Mason-Dixon Ball Band dishcloth. I stocked up on Sugar & Cream on sale at Ben Franklin's the other day, so I'm good to go for several more of these.

I also have been eyeing the Mason-Dixon baby kimono. In fact, I have some "nice" cotton on order for one, but I picked up some Bernat Satin acrylic at Jo-Ann's yesterday in baby colors and started one of those. I'm definitely in a "knitting as therapy" mode right now. Besides, acrylic is nice and washable for a baby and all those little "disasters."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Poncho and Socks

Well, I finished knitting the poncho. The shape is not quite right, but I'm hoping blocking will give it some "shoulders" and get rid of the straitjacket effect it has right now. I haven't yet cut the fringe. The color is very pretty--that is "my" color. I would have been through scooner, but I watched the NASCAR race from Richmond Saturday night. I'm not even particularly a race fan, but I got interested and kept knitting, not seeing a mistake for several rows--not sure how far back I had to tink, but it took me 79 laps to do it!

I started Knitty Hedera last night. I had been without socks on needles for a week! I'm using KnitPicks Essentials Tweed in a lovely plum color. The yarn is so soft and feels really nice to knit even though I always find the top ribbing fiddly and slow-going. I think one reason is that I always feel the need to knit more tightly on that part of the sock. I hope I will be able to convert this DP pattern to circulars successfully.

I'm using the KP circular needles for the first time. I really like them because the tips are more pointed--this is my first pair on size 1's--and the metal part of the needle is a little longer, giving my hands more to hold on to than my small size Addis. I do not hold my needles correctly--learned to knit as a 9-year-old from another 9-year-old--so my grip is a little different. All in all, I'm very pleased with both the needles and the yarn. Tonight I get to start on pattern! Yippee!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Changing my Mind

The CHAP child's Aran sweater that I mentioned earlier did not work out as I hoped. The fabric was stiff and uncomfortable when I knitted, and that was just the ribbing with bobbles. Over the week, I read the Yarn Harlot's book, Knitting Rules, and decided that there is no point in putting in that kind of work on yarn I hate. I am going to ebay all this yarn and buy nicer yarn for the heirloom sweaters.

Meanwhile, I knitted and felted a pair of the Fiber Trends felted clogs for myself. I made them from Too Teal Patons Classic Merino, and they felted in only 20 minutes in my front-load washer. I am looking forward to wearing them when they dry.

I am in the process of losing weight, and none of my "school clothes" fit. This is a good thing. In the fall and winter I wear mostly sweaters and slacks or skirts because our rooms are heated, but the hallways aren't. Most days here are relatively mild unless we are having a blizzard, so I can make it from the car to the school without a coat if I wear a sweater. I hate driving in a coat!
Now many of my sweaters are too big, even for the "oversize" look. I have hunted down a few on ebay because I don't want to spend a lot of money on sweaters that I hope will soon be too big also. I decided that a poncho would be a quick project that would also "shrink" with me. I'm knitting the Very Harlot Poncho from her blog in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Arctic Pool. I can wear it over some cotton turtlenecks. The only problem is that it is such easy knitting that I keep knitting right past the YO's because I'm not paying attention. I've tinked more on this poncho than on my last 3 pairs of socks put together!

As soon as I can get my hands on some solid black sock yarn (thank heavens for Ott lites), I have a committment to knit a pair of socks for Socks for Soldiers. I somehow feel I need to do this. My grandmother knitted for WWI, my mother for WWII, so I feel that this will be some sort of connection with women and history that I can't quite articulate. I remember finding my mother's sock knitting needles when I was a child--I can't seem to find them now--and she explained what she used them for. Ironically, she never taught me to knit or knitted again herself although she was talented with a crochet needle and a sewing machine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another pair finished!

Some day the excitment of finishing another pair of socks will wane, but right now it's still fun! I finished a pair of basic socks in a gray and black Regia varigated this weekend. I tried to learn some new skills (3rd pair) by doing an eye of partridge heel and a German round toe. I like the way the toe looks, but I haven't worn the socks yet, so that will be the big test. I am now in the position of not having socks on needles: however, I am halfway through with the second clog of the Fiber Trends pattern. I've never felted before--at least not intentionally--so I'm interested in seeing how this comes out. After that, back to the sock yarn.

I am off to another week of school. Today I am trying something new in the way of an assignment on Beowulf. We'll see how the students do with it. It is hard sometimes to think of really interesting approaches to the very early periods of British Literature without getting downright silly, and I have done that a few times. I'm trying to figure out how felted shoes would work into a discussion of the medieval period. I'll have to do some research on that.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dress for Anticipated Grandniece

Wow! That title makes me feel old!

I finished the dress this afternoon. It is adapted from "Katie," a Wendy Schoen design for Petit Poche. It's a wonderful pattern to do interesting things with. A couple of years ago, I did a similar outfit for my granddaughter with a blue bunny rabbit jacket and a blue toile Peter Rabbit dress honoring the 100th anniversary of Peter Rabbit. The dress itself is absolutely plain, with long raglan sleeves. The embroidery, based on traditional redwork, is all outline stitch and lazy daisies. I used a Moda Marbles cotton for the jacket, but I departed from traditional heirloom sewing and used Imperial Broadcloth for the dress. The poly/cotton blend won't wrinkle as badly with car seat buckles. Although it doesn't show well in the picture, the color is Rice, a beautiful candlelight ivory.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I finally have more than one project on needles. I had just been working on socks while I recuperated from gall bladder surgery. After my first week back at work, I came home this afternoon and started two other projects. One of them is a mystery dishcloth/washcloth KAL from LoneStarState Knitters. The second is the CHAP Child's Aran Sweater KAL. I had some quality acrylic ecru yarn in my stash, so I'm knitting the sweater from that. However, I need to make two of these for cousins. Is there such a thing as second sweater syndrome? Should I perhaps knit back-back, front-front, 4 sleeves, instead of finishing one sweater and then going for a second?

Of course, there are still socks. I have almost finished the gusset decreases on the second sock of a pair of Regia socks for myself. I wore the socks in school colors today and showed them to team members. I'm not sure how impressed they were, but they didn't question my school spirit.