Category Archives: knitting

Mother’s Day Socks

I am finally coming around to knitting socks.

I had knit almost 4 socks before I tackled these beauties. I knit one and got a bad case of second-sock-syndrome… I also didn’t much care for the yarn. Fail. Then I knit a pair of socks, and used 2 colors, but didn’t secure the ends of the strands very well, and they came out and made holes in my socks. I might have worn them 3 times.  Another fail. Then I began knitting another pair of socks- following the lovely jaywalker pattern. I realized over half way through the sock that I didn’t have enough yarn and so I didn’t even finish the first one. Fail again. Each of these attempts occurred at least a year apart.

So, you can understand why I am hesitant about knitting socks.

But besides all of the things I mentioned above (second sock syndrome, holes in your socks, not enough yarn) there are a lot of really great things about knitting socks, for example:

  • Socks can be knit at almost any skill level- from beginning stockinette to advanced lacework.
  • They are small enough to travel with, but use enough yarn that they take a while to finish.
  • They require a formula: leg, heel, gusset, toe that keeps things interesting and don’t allow you to get bored with your sock (until you get to the second one, anyway).

With these positive things in mind, I was determined to try again- after all, I like knitting, therefore I should like knitting socks (sounds logical enough, right?). And with mother’s day around the corner and a river trip directly in front of me, I bought some yarn, a small dry bag and found the loveliest sock pattern- kalajoki by Tiina Seppälä (available as a ravelry download).

 

The motivating factor about these socks, was, of course, a deadline. When I started these socks I had two weeks before mothers day. I’ve always been motivated by deadlines, and this only reinforces that fact. Note to self- when you want to get something done, make sure you have a firm deadline.

Even though mothers day was quite a while ago (and my mother had already sworn off socks for the season), socks are a gift that keeps on giving. The gift of warmth is a wonderful thing, especially if it is given in style!

 

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Filed under knitting, socks, Summer

Sunshine makes everything look better.

Especially when it feels every bit like spring outside. Right now ‘spring’ looks like mud and really gross snow and a full-on moat that must be traversed (and periodically bailed-out) to get to our apartment. Yes, ‘spring’ is probably going to get a bit worse before it gets better, this is especially taking into account The Great Dog Feces Thaw that is now in full effect throughout Bozeman (lovely, I know).

But! The sun is out, and it is warm to boot. I had a little sweater to finish for a little someone and after I was done sewing on the buttons I couldn’t help but get a little carried away with taking photos of some other luscious yarn. The colors couldn’t be more spring-like and tulip-hued- a very welcome contrast to this muddy, foul-odored mid-march day.

I’ve been struck by the knitting bug- in a big way. I think this is what happens when you get to a level that not too much intimidates you anymore. I’ve got way too many plans. I’m currently in the midst of another sweater, another one for me. After that, I’ll start to consider knitting things for other people again. I do wonder if knitters get to the point where they have too many knitted goods. I suppose you could ask the same thing of people who build model trains, or collects books. Maybe the answer is ‘no’. I’ll let you know if I ever feel like I have too many knitted things.

And, because we’re still waiting on flowers, I’m so happy to have found a dinner set at a local thrift store that brightens my kitchen. $12 for a set of 8 large plates, small plates and bowls. Flowers every day!

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Filed under finished projects, knitting, spring

How to survive winter

Hello my long-neglected blog.

I would apologize, but I find blog-neglecting apologies to be yawn-inducing. Instead, I should say how happy I am to be back! December was quite a month with projects and holidays and the whole shee-bang. I decided to take a hiatus from most public gatherings and much preferred to be hunkered down with a knitting project (or two, or three) in the comfort and warmth of my own home. Then I went to Tucson for the best visit with three of my favorite people. I have to say that the worst part about vacation is coming back and realizing that you could be doing things that don’t involve sitting at a desk all day. Note to self- you’ve really got to work on that.

There are a couple of other things that have been keeping me away- though they are quite minor and I am probably just making excuses. One is that I wish that there were more hours in the day to devote to things I’d really like to be doing (don’t we all) and another is that I live in a basement where most of the lighting is awful fluorescent and not so great for photos (this means ANYTHING).

But, that’s awfully negative thinking. The post-vacation blues must really have me down. So let’s look at some really great things that have happened in the past two months:

For starters, I have been knitting a lot: leg warmers, a GREAT winter hat and I’ve started another sweater for me and a much smaller sweater for a much smaller person.

Also- I’ve been running- enough so that I’m beginning to self-identifying as a runner (the importance of self-identity is a thing I learned as a sociology/anthropology major- it’s kind of a big deal)! So that’s great. I’m also reading Born To Run and it’s sort of blowing my mind and making me want to run more, and farther, and faster. So that’s another thing. For your reference, one week ago I ran for a full hour without stopping. This is also kind of a big deal. I’m very much looking forward to running on surfaces that are not covered in ice. With any luck, warmer weather will arrive with the month of March (“warmer” being not freezing).

Continuing along the self-improvement vein, I also took a trapeze class at a local studio. Besides being a really cool thing that you can tell your friends you did, it’s perhaps the best upper-body workout EVER. And it’s fun- if not somewhat discouraging when you can’t do something you vividly remember doing, easily, 20 years ago. Bozemanites, please check out mountain air dance for schedules and more information.

As far as surviving my second Montana winter, I’d say I’m doing a far better job than last year. For starters, I’ve got some great athletic outlets, which, excitingly, include a snow sport! I don’t know if you’re aware, but downhill skiing is freaking expensive! To avoid buying gear and a ski pass, I’ve taken to uphill skiing (also known as Cross-Country or Nordic skiing). Last weekend my beau and I skied 10 miles into a forest service cabin. It might just have been the most relaxing and intense weekend trips I’ve had in a while, and it made me want to and live a reclusive life in a cabin.

Perhaps that’s where you should start to look when I don’t show up for work tomorrow.

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Filed under cold, knitting, Working out

Home for the Holidays

Last year I did a lot of traveling for the holidays. We took a week-long whirl-wind through Oregon for Thanksgiving week. Sadly, I mostly remember the exhaustion from driving 10 hours from Bozeman to Portland (and back). The loving company of friends and family is a close second- but is still second.

Christmas was a little less whirl-windy but did involve air-travel from Montana. Montana is one of the most difficult places to fly in or out of. Thankfully the hubs of Denver and Salt Lake are readily available. This means that you’ll be facing at least one layover if you’re headed to another main hub. If, for example, you’re headed for Cleveland, Ohio, you’ll have at least 2 layovers. Alas, this is something you resign yourself to and accept a day spend in airports (did you know the Charlottesville (I think?) airport in North Carolina has rocking chairs available to those who can spare the time- we couldn’t). For me, Christmastime in Ohio also meant meeting new family. The family is, of course, wonderful and generous and made me feel like part of the family, but is still a different dynamic from the folks back home.

I am not complaining about last year’s holidays at all- I am just stating why I am so excited to be spending the holidays this year not going anywhere. And by not going anywhere I mean staying within the state and not checking luggage. While we will be spending the Christmas weekend with Nic’s mother outside of Billings, the run-up to Christmas will be spent well within our basement apartment walls. I am bound and determined to be as festive and cheerful as any Christmas elf should be. I will do this by crafting and decorating and cooking and baking and sending tidings of comfort and joy to all corners of the United States and beyond to friends and family who are distant but still close to my heart.

Here are a couple of items that are in the ‘finished’ or ‘almost finished’ pile of Christmas gifts (sorry to sort-of spoil the surprise).

 

Also, on one last note, I’ve helped start the Bozeman chapter of Mustaches for Kids. The Mustaches are in their last week of growing for donorschoose.org. Do me, them, and the schoolchildren of Montana a favor and throw $20 their way (or whatever you can afford). I’d greatly appreciate it. www.donorschoose.org/m4kbozeman

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Filed under Crafting, embroidery, knitting, Montana

Just in time.

I’m now 2 for 2 as far as consecutive (adult) sweaters and years. Last year there was this gem, and my first actual garment. Now, just in time for the snow and the cold, this:

The other great thing about this sweater (compared to my last one) is that it was knit in one piece. So, instead of having 5 large pieces to seam up, there was nothing extra to do except to sew on the buttons.I also really love the asymmetry of the piece: the off centered buttonhole band and, especially, the cables.

The cardigan called for a ribbon interfacing on the insides of the button hole band. For the life of me, I can’t find any nice ribbon in this mountain town (perhaps I just don’t know where to look, or I might just be too picky). I then remembered that I HAD ribbon- a gift from Nic- that I don’t remember unpacking. I almost tore apart the back room looking for the mysterious ribbon that I hadn’t laid eyes on in well over a year, and the manic, but fruitless search for ribbon reinforced my resolve to either burn everything in the back room, or begin upon an epic cleaning binge. The binge hasn’t quite happened yet- for my sanity it might be better to do it in bits and spurts. However, I did pull out a dresser that was less than useful and burned that to ashes as a warning to the rest of the back room to shape-up. This was not only an excellent decision for reasons of stress-relief, but also a great way to get some pent-up aggression out. I highly recommend burning some furniture if you have a useless piece readily available to you.

Anyway, back to the sweater. Isn’t it lovely? I splurged on some super-cushy merino yarn that I would only be more pleased with if they hadn’t knotted the yarn sporadically througout the ball.

So. The sweater was finished and the snow fell as did the temperature outside. Yesterday, I decided not to go outside, and so needed something else to occupy my time- more knitting! I have purchased the French Press Slipper pattern in hopes of becoming a little slipper factory for certain people for the holidays but didn’t want to leave my house in search of more yarn. I don’t subscribe to the yarn stash club just yet- as my financial situation prevents me from buying up yarn, willy nilly, without a pattern in mind. However, I do have a small bag with some remnants from other projects- where I found some yarn that is perfect for felting. In this bag I also discovered the ribbon that I tore apart the room looking for over a week ago. Of course, it’s perfectly logical to put ribbon in a yarn bag.

Also, in the future, I plan on posting some projects-in-process photos so that it won’t be so long between posts.

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Foliage Lace Mitts

As you may have seen in my last post, I have been working on a lace shawl.  I began knitting it last summer but was a bit too frustrated with the pace of knitting lace (slow) as well as the amount of concentration required for such an endeavor (lots). I put it away with the best intentions of coming back to it at some point. That point happened to be a full year later on the eve before I embarked to California. I hadn’t been knitting anything, and decided that I needed a project to work on while waiting in airports, train stations, or needed some downtime. I remembered this little number that was so compact and yet time-intensive. Lace, as it turns out, is the perfect travel project.

Alas, after all of the progress I have made on said shawl, the weather is turning colder and I am hearing the beckoning call of worsted weight yarn. I have put away the shawl for now, and have decided to move on to more weather-appropriate projects but, for some reason, I can’t quite quit the lovely femininity of a touch of lace.

You remember the time I was without internet? I was not only unable to blog, but also unable to access Ravelry- where I get all of my free knitting patterns. Being of resourceful mind, I decided that it might be a good time to try something on my own. Since I had been knitting lace, I decided to find a nice stitch pattern in Vogue Stitchionary, and incorporate it into some lacy fingerless mitts. What follows is a breakthrough for me. I realized that with some experience and a frame of reference I can not only design things, but I can make them as well. This is my most profound knitting breakthrough yet. I hope you enjoy these (find them on Ravelry)!

Foliage Lace Mitts

These cozy mitts are embellished with a lacy foliage stitch. Don a pair and enjoy the waning sunlight and changing leaves.

Gague- 6 sts/inch

Needles- US 5 DPNs

Yarn- Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash sport weight- 2 50g balls

Notions- Row counter, tapestry needle, scissors

Cast on 40 sts. Transfer 20 sts to one needle, and split the remaining 20 sts between 2 needles.

The lace stitch pattern is to be worked on the needle with 20 sts, with the remainder of the mitts in stockinette stitch. Mitts to be worked in the round.

Right Mitt:

Lace pattern is as follows with even rows ss and pattern repeating every 12 rows:

1.       k5, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k2, knit to end

3.    k4, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k7, knit to end

5.    k3, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k6, knit to end

7.    k2, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k5, knit to end

9.    k7, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k4, knit to end

11.  k6, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k3, knit to end

Knit 5 pattern repeats and begin thumb gusset while continuing lace stitch.

1.       k5, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k4, kfb, k3, kfb, knit to end

2.       knit

3.       k4, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2 p2tog, k7, knit to end

4.       k22, kfb, k5, kfb, knit to end

5.       k3, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k6, knit to end

6.       knit

7.       k2, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k7, kfb, k7, kfb, knit to end

8.       knit

9.       k7, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k4, knit to end

10.   k22, kfb, k9, kfb, knit to end

11.   k6, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k3, knit to end

12.   knit

(lace pattern begins 7th repeat)

13.   k5, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k4, kfb, k11, kfb, knit to end

14.   knit

15.   k4, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k7, knit to end

16.   knit 22, place 15 sts on stitch holder, make 5 stitches, knit to end

Continue knitting until there are 8 full lace pattern repeats. Cast off.

Thumb

Pick up 5 sts from back of thumb, and divide 20 sts between 4 needles

SS 4 rows

K2tog, k1, k2tog, knit to end (18 sts)

SS 2 more rows (7 rows total)

Cast off

Left Mitt:

Knit as directed for right mitt and, reverse the thumb directions as follows:

1.       k5, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k15, kfb, k3, kfb, knit to end

2.       knit

3.       k4, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k7, knit to end

4.       k33, kfb, k5, kfb, knit to end

5.       k3, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k6, knit to end

6.       knit

7.       k2, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k18, kfb, k7, kfb, knit to end

8.       knit

9.       k7, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k4, knit to end

10.   k33, kfb, k9, kfb, knit to end

11.   k6, p2tog, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p2tog, k3, knit to end

12.   knit

(lace pattern begins 7th repeat)

13.   k5, p2tog, k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p2tog, k15, kfb, k11, kfb, knit to end

14.   knit

15.   k4, p2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2tog, k7, knit to end

16.   knit 22, place 15 sts on stitch holder, make 5 stitches, knit to end



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Simple Pleasures

As summer comes to an end in Bozeman (who knows when it will snow? Next month? Probably), I have decided to try to capture the essence of summer in the few short days I have left. I am quite sure I am not the only one to do this as Labor Day is a calendaric (did I just make up a word?) reminder of the season’s passing.

Even as some morning have that familiar briskness to them, I am determined not to forget simple summer pleasures like:

  • grilling pizza (please, oh please, give it a try)
  • sleeping in a tent
  • hiking up a mountain
  • flying a kite
  • picking fresh zucchini from your garden for dinner
  • trading cupcakes for produce at the farmers market
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • or reading a whole book in a weekend

I would like to state them here, lest I forget.

One thing I have yet to do (and so it does not go on the list above) is to play croquet. While I aspire to be the proud owner of a croquet set like this one, I was gifted a well-weathered one that is missing a ball and might give you splinters- I couldn’t be more pleased. There will be croquet, oh yes, there will be croquet.

And speaking of simple pleasures, I once again turn to knitting. I picked up a knitting project that had been dormant for about a year. I began knitting this lace when the yarn was gifted to me. I was mightily intimidated by it and the concentration required was an effort that left me exhausted- not relaxed- which is sort of the point of knitting. In preparation for my California trip (the night before), I scrambled for something to do on the plane. I needed something compact, lightweight and potentially endless. Lace is perfect for this.  Lace works out in the way that maximizes alone-time, requiring total concentration, few distractions and ultimate patience. Perfect for airplanes and buses. I suppose one upside of knitting a sweater is that one’s knitting endurance and methodology will increase- which is really transferable to the next project.

I hope your summer is A. longer than mine and B. filled with all sorts of simple pleasures.

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Filed under inspiration, knitting, Observations, Projects, Summer