Saturday, January 31, 2009

My New Tool Tote!

While shopping for buttons tonight at JoAnns, I came across clearanced tote bags. Since I just frogged my needle case and have found the need lately for better organization of my little knitting knickknacks, I decided to go ahead and get this small accordion style tote. For $7.97, how could I not! I'd been considering Knit Picks $19.99 Options binder, but this'll work!

There are three zippered compartments that each contain zippered pouches. One compartment is perfect for my three sets of Options cables. I was able to fit some other circulars, crochet hooks, DPNs, and all my other tools and gadgets in my tote. Woohoo! Check out my pics :-) BTW the brand of the tote is Storage Solutions which is distributed by JoAnns.


Transition Time

Last night, as tradition, I cast on for my next sweater project before finishing my current one: I'm passing the torch from Tangled Yoke Cardigan to Amused. At knit night last Thursday, I took out the three-needle BO on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan's collar and later sewed it down instead. SO glad I did -- it looks significantly better. No puckering or ridging, and it won't cut into my neck. Now I only have the buttonbands left. So, last night I pulled out the Amused pattern and yarn and CO. I got two rows past the provisional CO for the front cable panels. Not a bad start. It always feels nice to get started on a brand new project to have something to look forward to when finishing up another one!

I took a day off on my Pomatomus socks to focus on my needle case. This was on Wednesday. I remember because it was a wasted night of knitting! There were too many little mistakes, all having to do with the twisting at the DK pocket edges. So, I frogged the whole thing and CO again, hoping to be consistent and invisible in my twisting. Well, I still didn't get the twists right. So, I frogged it again and put it away to hibernate until I can find out more about what I'm doing wrong. The designer PM-ed me on Ravelry about a week ago, letting me know I could tell her if I ran into any snags. So after frogging, I did PM her and also posted for help in the Double Knitting group. Now it's just wait and see. I can't continue that project until I learn the proper way to twist pocket edges with MC and CC that lie next to single knitting in MC.

Knit Picks has new Imagination colors! I'll be looking for the stash pictures that show up on Ravelry before I decide which of the new colors I like. You can click on each colorway's thumbnail to see a larger picture and description. But, I'd like to see the new colors knit up. It's not new, but I'm loving Lost Boys right now. Too bad that colorway is being discontinued!

In non-knitting news, I've finally made pizza I liked, thanks to my Pampered Chef stone. I've used it mainly for wreaths and braids. But it's also great for cookies and pizza! Using a "just add water" crust mix, I topped my pizza with Del Grosso New York Style Pizza Sauce as well as pepperoni, lite sausage, mushrooms, onion, and cheese, making sure not to overload it. That stone is like magic I tell you! I'm never using my pizza pan again.

I'm finishing up re-reading the last Harry Potter book, thinking ahead about what I want to read next. My brother Doug and his wife Melissa got me a Dan Simmons novel, The Terror. So I might read that. Usually this time of year, I think about re-reading Unfinished Tales, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion (in reverse, actually). After reading Children of Hurin, I've stayed away from Tolkien for a while since that book is a heavy version of stories told in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. It's also been a while since I've perused The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad. That book is great as a supplemental reference to any of the stories of Middle-earth and Aman. It's most useful when reading The Silmarillion because of all the numerous story backdrops, journeys, and battles. I love looking at Valinor and the elven kingdoms in Endor, as well as the maps that bridge The Silmarillion and LOTR. Fun stuff! At least for me it is ;-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adapting Pomatomus to 2xML Method

Note: To enlarge pics, just right-click and open in another window or tab. The text is quite small, which is why I mention this!

In knitting my Pomatomus socks 2-at-a-time using Magic Loop knitting, I've learned how to adapt this DPN pattern to my preferred method. There were two issues to resolve that I thought I'd blog about here, mainly for my own benefit, seeing as I'm rather new to the whole sock knitting experience (I've made only 2 pairs, Jaywalker on DPNs and toe-up Monkeys 2xML. What can I say, I'm a sweater girl!). But, I also thought this might benefit anyone else who decides to knit these socks 2-at-a-time, especially if they're new to it. Experienced 2xML sock knitters need not read further ;-)

There are several people on Ravelry who've knit Pomatomus 2-at-a-time, but there wasn't much "how to" information on the forums -- until recently. Miraculously, someone else ran into the same dilemma as I and posted her question the same day that I was going to post, asking for help. She wanted to know how to transfer stitches when you're between socks. Thankfully, Raveler LiquidPen answered the question, and stitches have since then been flying off my circular needle! Currently, I'm on the 3rd Chart A repeat of the leg, getting ever closer to the heel. Woohoo! I'm really digging how these are turning out, not to mention how much I like the yarn and its colorway (Knit Picks Imagination - Lost Boys).

Here follows the two issues 2xML sock knitting beginners like me will encounter:

Part 1 - YOs on Chart A Rnd12
How do you make a YO at the end of each sock? Each sock has 36 sts for the front and 36 sts for the back, which means the end of the 12-st pattern repeat coincides with the end of each sock. So, you'll need to make a total of 4 YOs at the end of each side of each sock on Rnd12. With DPNs, you can work the YO as written. For 2xML, it's a different story... Here's how you do it. You wait until you're at the beginning of the next side, Rnd12Side2 and Rnd13Side1, to do the YOs. Make YOs on the back cable at the beginning of each sock before following the chart for that side. This won't be confusing when you do it because the YOs end up on the back cable, out of sight. Thank goodness, right?! The beginning position of your working yarn is below and between your cables (Pic. 1). Move it under and behind the back cable (Pic. 2), drawing it upward. Now you can begin working the awaiting stitches of that sock. When you get to the next sock, you'll do the same thing, moving the working yarn under and behind the back cable.
As you can see from the notes written on Pic. 3 (which I only included because of the notes since Pic. 2 is better), you'll need to make YOs at the beginning of each sock on Rnd13Side1. Don't forget! If you do forget, you'll only have 35 sts for each sock on Side 2 and therefore screw up the pattern!

OK, next issue.

Part 2 - Transferring Stitches
Funny that I only have two pictures for this, considering how this issue was my main roadblock. Anyway... The pattern states that you have to transfer the 1st st on each DPN to the end of the previous DPN. Also, when transferring the 1st st of needle 1 to needle 3, you're supposed to use needle 3 to knit the transferred st through the back loop. how does this translate to 2xML? When you get to the first st of the 2nd sock on each side, there's no possible way to follow the directions exactly as written, thanks to the two parallel lines of separated sts. You're between socks and can't access sts from the other side! LiquidPen from Ravelry suggested a way to solve this problem: USE LOCKING STITCH MARKERS.

When I finished Chart A for the first time, and therefore was at the rearranging part, I realized when and how to lock the transferred sts. Prepare ahead of time on Rnd22: Work and lock the 1st st of each sock on each side (see Pic. 4), dropping these 4 locked sts off the needle.
Beginning on Rnd22Side2, you'll ktbl the locked sts (from Side1) at the end of each sock (see last pic, Pic. 5). Note: You'll also still be locking sts at the beginning of each sock on that side! Double trouble!
Upon finishing Rnd22, you'll have 2 remaining locked sts to transfer to the next side, which will be Rnd1. If you look at Rnd1 on Chart A, you'll notice that the last st is ktbl; this ktbl represents the remaining two locked sts when doing Side1. This will make sense when you get there because you'll be one st short at the end of each sock, necessitating that you pick up the locked st and ktbl. Once you finish Rnd1Side1, you'll be done transferring sts.

Well, I've been wordy as usual! Regardless, this really helps to journal my experience, and I hope that my pictures and explanations are useful to others. One more thing I wanted to mention: Mary Thomas's Knitting Book (1938). Wow! The knitting predecessor of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker sure is one detailed, thorough lady. When she covers a topic, SHE COVERS A TOPIC. I found the sections on decreases/increases, Western/Eastern and Crossed/Uncrossed (8 sts total; and she mentions Combined Knitting), and Stranding and Weaving very informative. Just imagine, SSK hadn't been invented yet! I found a wealth of decreases, single and double, where you return sts to the left needle such as the KRPS (Knit Return Pass Return on I can't believe my library had this book, which BTW is a reprint from 1972. It's in very good condition, even with the yellowing pages!
The other book you see in the picture is K2TOGETHER. I've been wanting to borrow this book since Tracey Ullman co-wrote it. There are a couple of lounging/yoga pants in it that piqued my attention.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ariel Camera and Knitting News

While shopping for birthday gifts, I happened to find this Ariel play camera for only $3.99. Marie is really into taking pictures (correction: she likes to HAVE her picture taken, the little ham) and trying to access our digital camera. She also loves Ariel, who is her favorite princess. Her eyes lit up when I handed her the camera, and she's been playing with it ever since. I believe our digital camera is now safe (until she gets a little older and wiser). That was a well-spent $3.99.

I'm reading about the Harry Potter Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap. It sounds like a lot of fun. So, I'm trying to decide if I can do it. In the past, I've also looked at some LOTR swaps. But, those were pricey. The HSKS costs $25-$40 and requires weekly participation (see link for details). Hmm, should I use the portkey and enter this? I don't know yet!

I took some pictures of my in-progress Pomatomus socks to show how I'm wrapping the yarn for the yarnovers that land at the end of the 12-st pattern repeat (which coincides with the ends of sides 1 and 2 for each sock. They are done at the beginning of each sock's sts on Rnd12Side2 and Rnd13Side1 by wrapping under and behind the back cable. Once I upload the pics, I'll post them. When I get to Rnd22, I'm going to take pictures of how I rearrange sts with locked stitch markers. The pattern directions are for DPNs, so 2-at-a-time magic loopers have to adapt. 2xML knitters have to do a Ktbl for 2 of the locked sts on side 2. The other two locked sts get worked on Rnd1Side1 at the ends of each sock's sts. Previously, I thought you had to do an inactive row just to rearrange the sts, but that step can be eliminated.

Once I finally finish TYC and then make Amused and Tubey, I might frog my oversized Blaze, the sweater with the zigzag cables. I've been putting that off, but need to do it if I'm ever going to wear it! I also need to get back to making my DK knitting case. I've been focusing all my attention since last Thursday on my Pomatomi!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

CO for Pomatomus Socks

Using Knit Picks Imagination in the Lost Boys colorway, I cast on for Pomatomus. Using a German Twist CO, I've finished the twisted rib cuffs and half of the first chart. I'm at the part where you have to put a yarnover at the end of the pattern repeat, which can be a little tricky with one circular. Ask me how I know! My gut was telling me, "You can't end one side with a yarnover!" I made it through Round 14 last night, but had to tink back 3 rounds because of the yarnovers. Unfortunately, I'd been placing my yarnovers at the beginning of the next side. I found out this doesn't work when you get to the next round. Oops! Now I know to trust the pattern and put the YO's at the end.

I'm just glad to be past the CO and the first few rounds of these socks because I don't like doing magic loop cuff down. Toe-up is much simpler. If it weren't for not being completely satisfied with the cuff BO, I'd do all my socks toe up. Although... I do like challenging my comfort zone at times, which is why I chose these socks.

I took a few days off from Tangled Yoke Cardigan to start my Pomatomus socks. The TYC collar needs to be re-done, and I needed to take a little break. I followed the instruction for doing the 3-needle BO, and it doesn't look or feel right. Inside, there is a hard, thick ridge that won't feel good on the neck. Outside, I can tell I didn't pull the collar down far enough to reach the stockinette because the first two rows of the collar pucker. So after frogging the 3-needle BO, I'm going to sew the collar instead. I did see a video on how to do a tuck stitch that might not be as thick as the 3-needle BO, but I think I'll stick with sewing it.

Speaking of videos, I saw one on You Tube that showed how to do the braided trim for the Sienna hat by Knitwhits. What a really cool technique! I've seen it on stranded gloves/mittens or ones with corrugated rib and often wondered what that was.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I've seen a number of knitting blogs with organized grids or mosaics of 2008 FOs. So, to keep with what everyone else is doing, here's my 2008 collection of knits. I thought there'd be more because I'd gotten my knitting mojo back in 2008. With two kids though, I think it'll be a while before the quantity of FOs ever comes close to comparing with 2006 when I first felt like I could knit anything and had a knitting explosion ;-)

I think I've finally caught up on posting, don't ya think?!
Posted by Picasa

Wahoo, It's Here!

Due to snowstorms in Washington and bad weather here in Ohio, not to mention post-holiday giftcard shoppers, I finally received a long-awaited package from Knit Picks! Back on January 9th, I ordered some sock yarn, fixed circulars, cable cases, needle tips, and cables. They were shipped on the 19th and received today, 1/21. I also ordered some harmony cable needles, but they're backordered until 1/30. In the pics, you'll see Marie hovering around the sock yarn. She thought it was really cool and did NOT want me to put it back into the box for safekeeping. Both yarns are very soft and have beautiful colorways. Yummmmm.

Since the Lost Boys and Coney Island colorways (from Imagination and Felici sock yarn lines, respectively) are being clearanced, I HAD to buy some! Those are colorways I've always wanted. The patterns I intend to use are Firestarter and Pomatomus (I think I spelled that right.). I'm so glad to finally purchase some US1 (2.5 mm) fixed circulars for these socks because my Addi Turbos are permanently damaged (i.e., crimped in the middle). My Addis are US2's, which have always been a bit too large. Now I have US1 and US0 fixed circs for socks! Now the question is, which pattern for which yarn?!

The backordered cable needles were intended for Amused. Now that I have the US9 needle tips, I can go ahead with this pattern when I finish TYC. I'm not going to wait on the cable needles. But, I hope they come before I finish the cabling on Amused. Speaking of Amused, I think I know what I'll do when I get to the bottom of the cable panels: a fellow Raveler used p2togs after the join to avoid the pouchy blouson effect created by the changeover to stockinette from cables.

For those interested, here's a You Tube link to the OSUMB in the Inaugural Parade yesterday. When I was in the band, we got to play for Clinton and Gore on the Oval at Ohio State.

Pictures From Battery Park

Posted by Picasa

I'm back from our roadtrip to Charleston, SC! Though it was cold there, we were glad to be somewhere other than Ohio. When we left Friday morning, our pipes had frozen. We drove straight there and got there Friday night. Saturday morning we went to Battery Park, which is next to Charleston Harbor, and walked around until we couldn't take the cold, blustery wind any longer. After that, we got back into the car and drove around the historic district to see all the pretty homes. Every time I go to Charleston, I just love seeing the homes with their wrought iron and brick or stone walkways that lead to backyard gardens or courtyards. My last cross stitch, which I'm not finished with, is of a sunlit passageway between two houses in Charleston (or somewhere in the South).

Remind me not to wear white dress pants when I have my two young kids with me! I'm not sure if they got dirty before the reception, but I'm positive that they got dirty the first five minutes of the reception. They look terrible! Ian's shoes marked them up, and somehow I sat on a small bit of chocolate frosting. I should also mention that wearing 3-inch heels are also not a good idea when having to chase a 16-month-old. It's like walking with your ankles tied together so that you can only take 6- to 8-inch steps. Oh well, my outfit was very nice and I was happy to not wear a dress!

Sunday afternoon, after visiting the bride and groom's house, we drove to Statesville, NC to stay the night. Statesville is northwest of Charlotte and just east of the mountains. Jared has an uncle who lives there, so we visited before we left on Monday.

Luckily we had on loan a portable DVD player with two screens that hang on the back of the front seat headrests. Marie of course wanted to watch Wall-E. Actually, I think that's the only movie that she and Ian watched the whole trip. It was a lifesaver when the two of them got restless or overly talkative. While they watched Wall-E, I worked on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I finished the collar, but need to rip out the three-needle BO because it doesn't look right. I think I might sew it down instead. After that, I just have the button bands and grafting the underarms. I better go find some buttons soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

First Sock Yarn Order From Knit Picks

Thanks to my fellow knitters (or shall we say happy enablers) from knit night last Thursday, I've decided it's time to try Knit Picks' Imagination and Felici sock yarns. I really like the new Felici colorways and thought at first of purchasing from them. But then I thought about how the Gelato and Coney Island colorways were being clearanced. So, I went with Coney Island. For the Imagination sock yarn, I've been pleasantly surprised on Ravelry or in person by colorways that previously didn't impress me as much (i.e., Damsel, Wicked Witch, and Frog Prince). The colorways I've always liked are... well wait, I really like them ALL to varying degrees. Since Lost Boys is being discontinued, I just HAD to get that. That was one of my favorites!

So after choosing sock yarn and knowing that my Addi Turbos were permanently maimed, I felt convinced that it was only prudent to purchase new US1 circulars. Don't you agree? ;-) Next, I remembered that I needed to order US9 needle tips to make Amused. Then I remembered, "Hey, wouldn't it be nice to get an extra set of 40" cables as well as some new 32" ones?" Then I decided to also get some cable cases and wood cable needles (for Amused). Normally, I wouldn't order this much stuff, but I had some Christmas money. Hopefully I'll get my stuff by Monday since my order was received Friday. It sure is nice to live close enough to the distribution center to receive packages the very next day after they go out. :-)

Tangled Yoke Cardigan: I'm there. I'm at the tangled yoke part! When I get a chance today, I'll begin those 18 rounds. Can I say yet again how much I love this yarn and colorway?! I can see why Kelley Petkun raved about it (See her quote at the top of the Knit Picks yarn page.). Did I mention that my 40" cable ends I'm using for this have started to come loose? Last night, one end came loose enough that I purposely tugged at it to see if it would come out. It did, although it took some doing. It also took some doing to get it back into the metal join, but it did stay put. Earlier in the evening, before knitting and pulling the cable out, I bought some Gorilla Glue to prepare for such moments. So, when my cables get too loose and/or annoying, I'll try out the glue.

My double knitted Options needle case is coming along. I'd say well, but there are several small mistakes, ALL having to do with the pocket edges. Last night I figured out a way to make the blips of color not appear: Do the yarn twists between the two colors, just before the actual pocket edges. When I finish this pattern, maybe I'll make it again or make a modified version with some new yarn. It's fun learning about double knitting.

I haven't mentioned My So Called Scarf or my Simple Toe Up Amklets for a long time. I should really change their Ravelry status to hibernate. I plan on finishing them; they're just on the back burner at the moment. I'll be needling the US0 circular I'm using on the anklets for my TYC. So, I might be motivated to finish at least one anklet to free up that needle... I love the yarn and stitch pattern of the scarf. It just takes forever compared to regular stockinette!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Free KP Yarn Arrived! (and a TYC Update...)

And here it is :-) As I mentioned in my last post, I won this from Knit Picks to make the Knitty pattern Amused. They had a yarn giveaway contest and awarded three people Swish Worsted for Amused, one person Merino Style for Surface, and one person WOTA Kettle Dyed for Everybody Knows. Basically, I had to add a comment to the giveaway announcement post explaining: 1) which pattern of the three I liked best and why; 2) my Ravelry ID; and 3) my blog URL. What luck, huh?! The next contest takes some actual work... see here. Anyway, I'm bumping Tubey down one on my queue so that I can knit Amused after I finish Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

After delving into all possible techniques to be found on the internet for 2x2 rib tubular CO (See Ysolda Teague's page for two different methods. I knit my CHP ribbing using her YouTube video.), I've taken a slight tangent and have been looking into double knitting techniques. Let's see... There's an open or closed cast on. One color or two (Somewhere I saw more than two colors used, but we won't go there!). The two sides of the knitting are usually separated, but you can interlock stitches by switching the front and back yarn. I'll speak more on that in a bit. If you're interested in learning how to double knit, the places I found that helped me: YouTube (You can several cast on methods for double knitting, although not how to interlock sts.); Ravelry (There's a Double Knitting group with a forum, which is where I learned quite a lot.); and Googling it (FYI: not that many people have tutorials on double knitting. But, there's a Yahoo group for it, although I haven't checked it out yet.). Stitch Diva Studios has a nice set of basic instructions with pictures. Start here for that. My favorite thing about their tutorial is they cover all four ways you would have to hold your two yarn strands -- knitting/purling a st in the front and knitting/purling a st on the back.

I CO for a needle case pattern I found on the Knit Picks Options group on Ravelry. This pattern is the reason for my interest in double knitting. The entire piece is knitted, needle slots and pockets, without any seaming. Pockets and slots are created by interlocking stitches and binding off on the front for openings. It sounds cool, but let me tell you, MY HEAD HURTS! I'm sure I've made a bunch of tiny mistakes so far on how to twist the yarn at the pocket edges so that it's hidden. But, I don't care at this point since I've given myself a headache. Here are some pics of my progress, both front (inside) and back (outside). The little blocks of color represent the separated slots for interchangeable needle tips. The green pocket in the middle is for cables.

And finally...a TYC update: I've attached the sleeves and have maybe two inches to go before making the tangled cable pattern on the yoke. I hear that I'll have hundreds of sts on my needles for those 18 rnds. Yikes, I already have well over 200 sts now! Sorry, no progress pic:-( I thought I had one! Oh, can I just say how awesome those KP Options cable caps are?! When I finished the body, I put end caps on and used my needle tips for another cable to make the sleeves. What a time saver. The only thing I don't like about the TYC pattern, and this is something I don't like on all seamless bottom-up patterns, is the sleeve attachment. When attaching and for several rounds after, the stitches near the end of the sleeves get severely stretched. I try to use DPNs (or extra circulars) to temporarily relieve the stress on the sleeve and adjacent body sts. When knitting top-down, this stretching problem does not occur. Yeah, I'm partial to top-down patterns ;-)