Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eastside Knitting Guild Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Yesterday I went shopping at Costco.  I sort of consider Costco a "local" store, since it began here in WA, and the headquarters is in Issaquah, which borders my city.  I have a method for shopping there:  I must have a list.  Then I try to keep that list in front of my face so I don't see any of the "good deals" around me.  This way, I am usually able to keep my purchases to a reasonable amount.  If I happen to glance up, I am certain to spot some really cool thing (in like a 100 pack) that I just have to buy.

Yesterday, I was shopping, really, for my daughter, Allie.  She is living near us in an apartment.  When I do a Costco run, I usually pick up stuff for her to help her out.  She loves their frozen edamame.  Also, she uses the frozen chicken breasts, and various nuts.  My only extra purchase was some weight loss pills.  Yes, I am trying to lose some weight.  Last year I lost about 25 pounds, then got stuck.  I am trying to lose 25 more this year.  I figure, as long as I am on a downward trajectory, I will make some progress.  It is tough, though, since all my favorite things are sedentary.  EXCUSES!


While I was in Kirkland, I checked out a LYS (local yarn store) named Serial Knitters.  I had the address, but hadn't bothered to get directions, since my Camry has a GPS.  LOL!  I am sharing that car with my son, Luke, but since the Doc is in Chicago for a radiology convention, I am driving his monster Suburban.  Which has NO GPS.  Luckily, he has an old, and I mean Old Thomas Bros. Map Book.  I was able to get the general idea of where the street was from that.  Most of the cities on the Eastside make an effort to put their streets in a numbered grid, so it is fairly possible to find places.  Anyway, Serial Knitters is right next to Dancewear Center of Kirkland.  Why do I mention this?  Because I used to practically live in that shop.  The owner, Patrice, is fabulous at fitting pointe shoes.  She will also special order all kinds of boy dancewear.  Since my daughters were wearing out pointe shoes and needing new ones about every 3 months, and my boys are still dancing, and wearing giant ballet shoes, we stopped by often.  How did a yarn store move in right next door without my noticing?  Well, my boys have started wearing Fuzi ballet shoes.  Mr. Fu lives in Lacey, WA, and comes to teach at my sons' studio once a week.  If the boys need shoes now, we just tell Mr. Fu, and he delivers!  However, I do miss Patrice.  She is an absolute gem.  If you have a dancer, and need someone to make sure she/he is in the right shoes, Patrice will take the time to fit her/him properly.  Believe me, it will make all the difference.

Anyway, why was I at Serial Knitters?  To buy sock yarn, of course!  I wanted to get some light blue fingering weight yarn so I can double dip in December's SKA and SolidSocks Group Challenges.  I think I will make a pair of Hungry Bees by Emma Grundy Haigh in blue (the SolidSocks December color) for my older sister, Sue.  I am sad to admit that I was a bit disappointed at the selection.  The shop is small, and they actually stock yarn for more than socks!  Right now, since I am making so many socks, I guess I want the entire store to be full of sock yarn.  Don't get me wrong, they had some lovely sock yarns, but most were variegated or hand painted or otherwise NOT solid.  I found some lovely Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in the Bayside colorway that looks mostly solid.

I can only hope that it will be solid enough once I start knitting.  Oh well, if it isn't, Sue will still get a lovely pair of socks.

Since the title of this entry is Eastside Knitting Guild, I should really get on to that topic.

Last night, I attended the November meeting of the EKG at Crossroads Shopping Center in Bellevue, WA.  I think that I said before that the guild meets on the last Monday of each month.  How did I know I was in the right place?

Everyone was knitting, of course!

And there was yarn, everywhere.

Lovely ladies.  Really.  I got there about 30 minutes earlier to grab a bite to eat.  Crossroads is not so much a mall, as a giant food court and meeting place with a few shops sprinkled around it.  The restaurants are mostly local and independently owned.  There is a central stage for music with open mic nights.  The schools hold all kinds of concerts there.  The "mall" hosts the annual PTA/PTSA Arts Fair, etc.  It is very close to our house, and we go there a lot.  There is one grocery store attached to the main mall, and another on the edge of the complex.  There is a movie theater, a new climbing gym, a great Italian restaurant, the DOL's car tab renewal office, and a small branch of the King County Library.  Again, we go there a lot!

The talk of the guild meeting was the new "rent" that the Crossroads' management is asking for use of the meeting room.  This room WAS free to non-profit groups.  Eastside Crochet Guild and something I think they called, The Lace Knitters' Group whose memberships are substantially smaller, and cannot afford the new monthly rent.  Supposedly, there are only 3 groups left using the facility.  This is so short sighted on the part of the new owners.  I ate at the mall before the meeting, then headed over to the meeting room.  On the way, I saw at least half of the members finishing up meals.  It is good business to let these groups meet at the mall for free.  There is a Jo-Ann's Fabrics in the mall and  a Michael's on the edge. I am sure they both get business from the members of these groups.  If the rent is not dropped, I think the EKG will move.  They are contacting some of the other non-profits who have already moved to find out where they are now meeting.

Enough of this rant.  On to the main part of the meeting.

A husband of one of the members came last night to show his counted cross stitch.  O M G.  This stuff was amazing.  His name is Richard Buchmiller.

He is a member of the Embroiderer's Guild of America, and has shown his work and won awards.

                                           (front of current work)

                                             (back of current work)

He's one of those amazing artists where the front of the work and the back of the work, are equally beautiful.

He got interested in Counted Cross Stitch when he went to a crafts store with his wife and saw a cross stitch kit that was a map of Australia.  They were so funny.  He said he asked his wife to make it.  She knits.  She does not do cross stitch.  She told HIM to make it.  She said that they stood there arguing until the store owner handed them a kit, and said, go home and argue about who will do the work.  So he tried it.

And was hooked.

                                              (close up of stitching)

(finished piece)

The seascape can be seen in progress photos here.

In addition to counted cross stitch, he does metal embroidery.  (I hope I got the name right).  I'm sorry these photos aren't better, but these beetles are 3-D:

(close up)

Richard also had some cool thoughts on his work.

Someone asked if he sold his art.  He said that  because it is so time intensive, he works about 1 hour a day on a piece, which means that it takes YEARS to finish one, he could never charge enough.  Also, they are quite expensive.  So, he can only do it for his own pleasure.

He can't have any tension in his body or it will affect the stitches.

He doesn't watch TV or listen to even music.  Any distraction could wreck his stitch count.  So it is truly a form of meditation.

He also does this cool Japanese Silk Embroidery, the kind of stuff that used to be on kimonos.  His hands must be spotlessly clean with no rough spots.  He washes them with sugar to exfoliate the rough skin and uses non-greasy hand creams.  The silk can not be washed. 

When he was working on the seascape, he found that he would use a bit of one light blue color one day.   Then maybe the next day, he would be using another similar light blue for maybe one cross.  A few days later, he would place two or three crosses in a different light blue.  None of these crosses would make sense to the picture.  Then, maybe after a month, suddenly, a piece of the wave's spray would jump out at him, and he would be able to see that part of the picture.

Check out his work.  It is gorgeous.

C. A. Losi

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! A Few Days Late Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wow, I haven't blogged for almost a full week.  This is because we went to Phoenix for Thanksgiving, and it was just too awkward to find time to  be on my computer.   I will try to post some photos of the family from the trip this week.

I did find time to knit, way less than I wanted to, though, and that was really only because my sisters in law are both learning to knit, also.

Anyway, I am still recovering a bit from the trip, but I did want to post some progress photos.

I finished my Mr. Pitt's Socks.

I ended up modifying the foot ribs since SKA Sockdown won't accept a simple ribbed sock as completing the Man Sock Challenge. 

This month's challenge has proved to be a difficult one for some odd reasons.

I wanted to make socks that would actually be worn.  The 2 man socks I made/am making, have dark plain colors.  Both were a bit difficult to knit because of the darkness of the yarn, and neither shows their pattern very well.  Also, It is surprisingly difficult to find patterns that are for MEN.  It was not enough to find a pattern that was inspired by a man, such as Neville's Socks  by Erica Lueder.  These socks are listed as unisex, which disqualifies them for the Man Sock Challenge.  Many of the socks that were designed for men, were... well... too fru fru.  like these gorgeous Not Cable Socks designed by Sockbug.  Doc would say, "Thanks," then never wear them.  Or, maybe wear them around the house.  The patterns that were plain, that I know he would wear, like Mr. Pitt's Socks, aren't allowed in the competition because they aren't a "challenge."  Though, I would argue any sock made for size 13 wide Men's feet, is a challenge!

I was lucky that the Mystery Sock for the month, Movember Mystery Sock designed by Deb Barnhill, has a pretty subtle pattern.

I think (hope) that Doc will actually wear these socks to work.

I have finished everything but the toes.  I should be able to get those done tomorrow, and make an FO (finished object) post in both SKA and SolidSocks Groups on Ravelry.

I was also able to finish another iteration of the pattern on my Red Willows, or  Osier Socks by Nicole Masson.

I started these socks TAAT (Two at a Time), but because the pattern is truly circular, involving sliding stitches back and forth from needle to needle to complete certain parts, I had to switch to 2 separate magic loops.  I am so worried that I will have an orphaned sock, meaning that I finish the first one and never get around to the second, that I am still kind of knitting them together.  I knit one iteration (or repeat) of the pattern on one sock, then switch socks, and knit that pattern iteration. Then pick up the first sock again and knit the 2nd iteration, followed by the 2nd iteration on the 2nd sock.

Anyway, I have about 2/3 of both socks' last iteration to knit, and I will be ready to knit the heel flaps.  I think I can finish both socks before November ends, and actually have 3 completed socks for both SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) and SolidSocks.  That would be so cool.  I love having these challenges to keep me knitting to completion.

Next month is Blue for Solid Socks, and Weird Construction for SKA.  I don't know that I can find a pattern that I really want to knit that will allow me to double dip.  Also, my Advent Scarf KAL will start December 1, and well, I really want to knit that scarf and keep up.  I will have to make a decision soon.  I might try to knit 1 solid blue sock that can double dip, then maybe cast on a weird self-striping sock just for ska that I finish in January.  Hmmm, what happy decisions.  It is so nice to have too many choices.

Tomorrow night is the November meeting of the Eastside Knitters' Guild.  I hope to attend, and do something of a write up here. I still need to officially join that group.  I will make sure to take a check tomorrow night so I can do that.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, whether or not you celebrate the American Thanksgiving, we all should take at least one day each year to think about how wonderful this world is, and give thanks.

Thank you!  all who read this blog.

C. A. Losi

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stealing Patterns Friday, November 18, 2011


Wendy Johnson, at Wendy Knits, had a very interesting blog post yesterday.  It seems that she found a website that was a source of free knitting patterns.  Now I love free patterns.  I scour Ravelry for good, free, patterns, but I also own a number of knitting books and subscribe to some knitting magazines.  Well, a new website with free patterns is another great source for my knitting.  Or so it would seem.

So what's the problem?  Well, there was one of Wendy's own patterns being "shared" on the website.  Without her permission.  She was, in my opinion, very understandably angry.  It is one thing to donate a piece of creativity.  It is quite another to have your creative product taken without your knowledge, copied, and passed out. 

As you can tell from the little book show at the top of this blog, I am a children's writer.  So I think you can understand that this subject is near and dear to my heart.  It is one thing to borrow a friend's knitting book, or check one out from the library.  It is quite another to then copy patterns from that book, and post them on a website for others to use.

I hope you will go to Wendy's site and read what she has to say about it. 

Also, in the same vein, there is a good blog post about knitting copyright at Samurai Knitter.  I have no idea how  "legal" her post is, but it makes sense to me.  I know from my own writing experience, that the story idea really can't be copyrighted.  For instance, Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.  Pretty standard.  However, the specific written passages can not be copied.  This seems to be echoed in knitting patterns. 

It becomes a bit more problematic in knitting, because really, how many ways can you describe certain techniques?  For instance, the way to cast on for a TAAT Toes Up Sock? However, every time I have seen this cast on recommended for the starting a pair of toes up socks, the designer thanks Judy Becker and says she was the creator of "Judy's Magic Cast On."  I think that most designers who use this cast on in books, also say that they are explaining it with Judy's permission

This topic came up a lot with all the music sharing sites.  Again, it is one thing to go to some one's house and listen to their CD.  Or borrow their CD.  It is another thing to download that CD to the web and allow anyone and everyone to copy it for free.

Here is a link to yet another discussion of sharing knitting patterns:  Knitting Paradise: A knitting and crochet forum

I don't want to offend anyone reading this blog.  But just don't do it.  It is stealing. 

OK, I'll get down off my soapbox now.

C. A. Losi

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Can I Do It? Thursday, November 17, 2011

Life (sort of )

How is it the 17th already?  I have not finished any of my November projects and Thanksgiving is just around the corner?  Why am I lagging?  Well...

First I have been playing way too much Aion.  This is an on-line game.  I have 2 "toons"  or characters that I play in this game.  One is a "cleric"  or healer.  The other is a "ranger"  or bowman.  I get on with my friends from, well, all over the world, and we basically fight monsters and each other.  PvE (player versus everything) and PvP (Player versus Player).  I cannot express how much fun this is.  The photo of "me" on this blog right now is my cleric. 

One of the many fun things about Aion is that you get to design the look of your toon.  You can choose from many preset faces, hair styles, etc, but you can customize any and all of them.  Just this part is so much fun!  ok, I know I am now exposed as a gaming geek, but oh well, I guess I am.

So, what else has caused me to fall behind in my knitting goals?

Knitting Knews

Clue 3 came out for the Movember Mystery Sock by Deb Barnhill.  This clue included the heel flaps and the heel turns.  Rather than just a plain s1k1 heel flap, an "eye of partridge" heel flap, or some designed flap, Deb had us do somewhat of a garter stitch heel.  So we are still slipping every other stitch on the WS for extra strength, but knitting instead of purling in between the stitches.  This is not an obviously different looking heel, but a subtle difference that came out very nice, I think.  However, the instructions called for slipping both the first and last stitch on the WS (because there are an uneven number of stitches in the heel flap).  I am so used to slipping the first stitch of each row on a heel flap, that I slipped the last stitch of the WS rows AND the first stitch of the RS rows for about 6 repeats.  Of course this made one side of the heel flap about 1 stitch long, and the other side 6 stitches long... I had to carefully knit back TWO TIMES.  But I finally got it right, and this is what the socks look like now:

I also knit a bit more on the last sleeve of my Mystery Sweater by Christiane Burkhard that I am knitting for the Sharing Our Gifts Across America Group on Ravelry.  But I have no photo of this sleeve.

I finished the gussets on my Mr. Pitt's Socks by Kaitlyn Wong, but have decided that for the foot, I am going to make up my own pattern.  Well, not really make up, but use a more interesting ribbing pattern.  These socks need to be super stretchy to fit very easily on M's feet.  He has a form of ALS, and is having trouble dressing himself as his hands have atrophied quite a bit.  His kids are helping put his socks on, and need super stretchy socks that will go over his feet easily.  The legs of this pattern have really fit the bill here.  The simple k3p1 ribbing is nice and stretchy, but a bit boring.  Since the feet part doesn't have to fit over the heels, I am going to add something to make them a bit more interesting, but hopefully not take away any stretch.

I just got a book of stitch patterns: The Knitting Stitch Bible by Maria Parry-Jones.

I think I will do some type of moss stitch every other rib.  That should still look masculine, but keep the stretch.

GREAT NEWS!  The yarn I won from the September Sockdown Challenge in the Sock Knitters Anonymous (SKA)  group in Ravelry came!  I won 1 skein of yarn from Lisa Souza Yarns and I chose this really cool hand painted yarn named Mombasa.  It is this awesome gold and brown, that when knitted up should look like a leopard or lion.

Last update:

I bought my yarn for the Advent Scarf.  I decided on this gorgeous "red wine" Alpaca Lace from Cascade Yarns

I still need to choose and buy some beads.  I have been looking online, but I think that I want to see the beads and how they go with the yarn.  We have a great bead shop in downtown Bellevue, Beads and Beyond.  I think this weekend, when I have a car, I will stop by with my new gorgeous yarn and choose some beads.  The great ladies who work there will be able to help me choose the correct size and I hope the right crochet hook.

Back to my socks and sweater!

C. A. Losi

Monday, November 14, 2011

Placing Markers Monday, November 14, 2011

I was reading the threads on Ravelry's 2-at-a-Time Sock Group, where the group's description is:  We are a group of 2-at-a-Time Socks author Melissa Morgan-Oakes fans who are avid sock knitters supporting each other as we learn this awesome technique! 

Someone posted a question that was really a Magic Loop, knitting a sock on a single circular needle, question about where to place markers so you know where the gussets, heel, and insteps begin/end.  This person had only knitted one sock, and that one using 2 sided sock needles.  That was how I first learned how to make socks, from my good friend Maggie in the boys' dressing room at PNB's Nutcracker performances.  Switching techniques can be confusing.  

I knitted up  little demonstration sock and took photos at the different steps to try to illustrate how I place my markers.  This can be used for TAAT or single socks on 1 circular needle.

Anyway, here is my demonstration with explanations:

1. The cuff and leg are knitted on the circular needles.  1/2 of the stitches are the "front," "top" or "instep" side, the other 1/2 of the stitches are the "bottom," "back" or "sole" side.  I use the terms "instep" and "sole."  In this demonstration there are 32 stitches total, so 16 stitches on each side of the sock.

2. The heel flap is knitted on the sole side of the sock over 1/2 of the total stitches (on ALL of the sole side stitches).  In this example, since there are 32 stitches total, 16 stitches.  A temporary marker is placed 1/2 way across the heel flap on the needle.  In this example, after 8 stitches.

3. The heel is turned.  I have replaced the locking marker with a smaller sliding marker.  It is still in the middle of the heel stitches, 1/2 way across, but there will be less stitches on the sole side after you have finished turning the heel.  In this example there are now 10 stitches on the sole side.  The stitch marker is placed after 5 stitches.

4. Pick up the gusset stitches along the left side of the heel flap.

5. Pull the circular needle through so that the heel stitches AND the newly picked up gusset stitches are on the SAME side.

6. Knit across the instep in the pattern, being careful to leave the loop between the Heel-Gusset stitches and the instep stitches.

7. Pick up the gusset stitches on the right side of the heel flap.

8. Be careful to leave the circular loop between the instep stitches and these newly picked up gusset stitches.  At this point you are part of the way down the sole side. This side of your circular needles contains both gussets and the turned heel stitches.

9. At this point, you can count and place your sole side markers.  Usually, you need the same number of stitches on the sole side as you have on the instep side.  The marker you placed in the middle of the heel will be in the middle of this side.  Count out 1/2 of the total stitches needed from that center marker both ways and place temporary locking markers.  In this example, since there are 16 stitches on the instep side, I counted 8 stitches both ways.  There are 16 stitches between the green and orange locking markers.

10. Knit to the middle marker.  Now your Gusset Decrease Rows Begin.  If it bothers you to "begin" in the middle of the sole side, you can simply knit across the rest of this needle, knit the instep side in its pattern, then begin the decreases on the right side of the heel.  It will add 1 extra row on the left side of the heel.  If you are using sock yarn, this shouldn't ever be noticed by the wearer as it is so tiny.  I usually do this.

11.  As I knit around, I replace the big clunky locking markers with smaller sliding markers. 

12. This is a photo of the sock from the inside.  The stitches between the 2 blue markers will NOT be decreased in a typical sock pattern.  The gussets are the stitches from those blue markers to the end or beginning of that needle.  You can see that one side of the circular needle holds the instep, and the other side holds gusset-heel-gusset.  After you are finished reducing the gussets, the blue markers will be taken off.

Hope this makes sense.

C. A. Losi

Falling Asleep Here at Midnight, Monday, November 14, 2011

Just a quick midnight post because I really wanted to show my progress.  I actually didn't knit that much today because I played Aion with my good friends Aelfric, Vixey, and Hellsrevenge.  Obviously, those are their characters' names in the game.  But I did have some progress to show:

I have finished all but one sleeve and the neck of the Mystery Sweater I am knitting for Sharing Our Gifts Across America Group on Ravelry.  My son, Luke is modeling it for size.  I had to lengthen the body and the sleeve.  He is 16 and about 6' tall, and I know this sweater is for a middle school child, but I taught middle school, and some of the boys can be quite tall.  Anyway, this is what that sweater looks like now:

He keeps telling me it is a "girl" sweater since, in his words, "it has a girl waist."  But I think that will disappear when it is blocked.

Also, I have finished Clue 2 of the Movember Socks I am making for my husband, the Doc.  I did 6 repeats of the pattern.  I hope they are not too long in the leg.

There won't be a new clue until Tuesday, so I will take a break from these and work on the gussets and feet of the Mr. Pitt's Socks that I am knitting for my friend, M.  I might even be able to knit a bit on my own Red Willows...  I hope to get at least half of the last sleeve finished on that Mystery Sweater.

And I have a dentist appointment in the morning. 

I had better GET TO BED!

C. A. Losi

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Help, Please... Sunday, November 13, 2011 (morning)

This is a super quick post (I will post more later tonight with updates and photos) to ask those of you who read this blog for help choosing a basic, How To Knit book.  My SIL (sister in law) is having a bit of a rough year, and I would like to teach her to knit.  I am going to visit her for Thanksgiving, and I know we will be a bit busy, but there should also be opportunity to learn the basics.  I want to bring her some yarn, needles, and a good How To book for a true beginner.  I GREATLY value knitting as a major source of stress relief, and if she is at all interested, I would like to gift her with this wonderful craft. 

I will post this question in a few places in Ravelry as well, just in case the few of you who check this blog are too shy or don't have any suggestions.  But if you could leave the name(s) of books and any authors you think are particularly helpful for beginners in my comments for this blog, I would be truly thankful.

C. A. Losi

Saturday, November 12, 2011

3 is a Magic Number Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yesterday was my dad's birthday.  He is 80.  He was born on Veteran's Day back when it was still called Armistice Day.  November 11, 1931.  (For years we told our kids that it was a National Holiday because it was Grandpa's Birthday.) 

He was an elementary school teacher, then counselor, then principal, then Personnel Director for his school district, finally retiring as Assistant Superintendent of Schools.  He was the first and only one of his family (of 3 boys) to attend college and has a double major (History and Elementary Ed.) and a master's degree in Education (I think in school psych), maybe a double master's (school admin?).  Anyway, he has a love of learning, a love of reading, a love of school, movies, sports, and a love of people. 

When I was in 4th grade, we moved from Huntington Beach, CA, to Orange, CA, where my dad worked.  We attended an elementary school where he had been principal just a few years before.  Seriously, it was like we were Rock Stars.  "You are Mr. Losi's kid?"  Kids loved him.  So yesterday, I posted on Facebook that it was Dad's 80th birthday (since he and my Mom refuse to have a computer).  Many of my old friends who had him as their principal, or just remember him from hanging out at our house when we were all in high school, left really nice birthday messages.  When I called him to say, "Happy Birthday," in the afternoon, I read the messages and names to him.  He was really touched.  It is amazing to me how many people he still remembers.  Old students, neighbors, even a few former teachers were on the list.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Knitting Knotes

I have been "working" on 4 projects this month.  Like a fool, I cast on 3 socks for the November socks challenges,  "double-dipping," for the Sock Knitters Anonymous (SKA) and Solid Socks Groups in Ravelry.com.  I am also working on a sweater for the charity knitting group Sharing Our Gifts Across America on Ravelry as well.  I have decided that while this is crazy, it is only somewhat crazy.

The crazy part is 4.  The somewhat crazy part is 3.

Let me explain.  Because I am somewhat obsessive, or I just can't get my brain to relax, before I go to bed, I usually think about what I have accomplished, and plan some goals for the next day.  For example, my goals today include: 

Movember Sock - finish the current iteration and complete one more
Mr. Pitt's Socks  - finish the gussets
Mystery Sweater - bind off the body, pick up the 2nd sleeve and knit the garter stitch portion

I don't always complete the goals, but I usually come close.  Wait!
What is wrong with that list?
You only see 3 items listed?
Well, you are correct in your counting.

I have discovered that I can make reasonable goals and accomplish them for 3 things.  I simply can't do the 4th project.  I guess I could make a smaller goal for each of the 3 and then squeeze in the 4th project, which is the socks I am making for myself, the Osier Socks, or what I am calling my "Red Willows."  But then the progress seems so minimal on the other ones. 

Three seems to be the magic number of WIP (works in progress) for me.  I never get bored.  Even when the socks are repeat repeat repeat of the pattern across the instep (not quite there yet).  Even when the sweater is row after row of stockinette.  Allowing myself to say, "I will knit this sleeve where I am decreasing by 2 every 6 rows until I have finished those decreases, then stop."  Makes that pretty fast work.  Sometimes I say, "I will knit this sleeve for 1 Dr. Who show.  Then when the show ends, I switch projects.  Works pretty well.

But my gorgeous Red Willows are calling out to me from the needles where they languish, cuff only...

I think that next month, I will have no more than 3 projects OTN (on the needles), and simply leave the 4th in my cue...  Except!  that next month I have found a new knitting challenge.  More about that later.  First I want to post photos of my progress:

Mr. Pitt's Socks:

I have finished both heel flaps and the heel cups.  The pattern had me pick up only 16 stitches on each side for the gussets.  I am not sure that is enough to allow good room for the rise in M's instep, so I think I will decrease every 3rd row to make the gusset a bit longer.


and the close up:

It is tough to see the pattern on this dark brown, but it is really pretty.  I stopped on row 6 of an 11 row pattern.  Today I will try to finish that iteration and 1 more.  The socks are nearing 9", which I think will be about the right height.  When I hit 9", I will stop work on these until the next clue is published (Monday night?), and either crank on one of my other 2 serious projects, or try a bit of the pattern on the Red Willows.

Mystery Sweater:

I am not sure why my computer and/or Blogger decided to turn all of these photos sideways, but O, well.  I think you can sort of see how long, thick, wide the bottom band on the body is now.  Not sure how this will look esthetically, but at least the sweater will not bare the wearer's midriff when the arms are raised...

OK, What is my new challenge?  I have been browsing the groups on Ravelry, and found this new group, by new I mean formed again for this year not totally new, called 24 Days Until Christmas.  This is a group formed to make a sampler lace scarf of 24 different lace patterns.  Each day from December 1 until December 24th (Christmas Eve), a new lace pattern will be released.

Wow, I checked out the scarves knitted last year, and they are amazing.  The "scarves" mostly ended up quite huge, more like shawls or stoles.  In fact, some people split them into 2 different scarves or wraps, and at least one person split hers in 2, then sewed the sides together and made a small afghan.  But they are all beautiful. 

There are so many new challenges for me in this project. The patterns call for beads, though you can skip that, if you want.  I have never used beads.  I have really only knitted "lace" on the Watercress Mystery Socks, if you call that lace, that I made for the SKA September Mock challenge. 

I have crocheted lace, making doily patterns, and making the Irish Lace motifs

But, not really knitted lace.  There are already many threads running in the group.  There is a thread about what yarn and beads people are choosing.  There is also a thread about how excited the members are.  I posted some questions about knitting lace in this thread, since I am such a beginner, and they all assured me that there will be lots of help, explanations, and links to videos, etc. for the various days. 

When I was lurking around on last year's finished project pages, I read some of the notes, and it was interesting to read where and when people had trouble, and how they fixed or worked through problem spots.  One encouraging thing I read again and again, was that although occasionally there were errors in the written patterns, the charts seemed to be correct.  I am sooooooooooooooooo glad that I have learned how to follow knitting charts.  I figured that out last year when I was (ahem) working on James's aran afghan (still otn...on the needles).  Smartest thing I ever did.

Also, thank goodness for the internet!  When I don't understand a technique, I can just look for a video about it.  I already checked out knitting "nupps" as this one technique seemed to give a lot of trouble last year.  I have also learned what a lifeline is in lace knitting.  I am sure I will learn TONS more.  There is a lace sock challenge coming up in SKA, so I will be a bit more confident in my lace knitting after this scarf challenge.

After looking at all the gorgeous scarves from last year, I really want to make this for my Mom.  She and my dad go to the theater quite a bit, and a lovely lace wrap would be perfect for her.  But, since I am not so confident in my prowess, and don't want to make her some giant monster scarf, I think I will make the first one for myself, and make Mom one next year, or pass this one on IF it comes out ok.

But, back to the number 3...  Can I make this scarf challenge AND 2 more projects... And get ready for Christmas?  Not sure.  2 might be my magic number in December, with lots of projects waiting in the queue, but not on the needles calling my name.

C. A. Losi

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WINNER!! Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life (and what a beautiful life it is)

For my very first Sockdown in SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) I WON A SKEIN OF YARN!  Oh yes, my number was generated by that darling RNG (random number generator).  I won a skein of yarn from Liza Souza Yarns.  So I just spent hours drooling, and I mean drooling, over her gorgeous yarn choices.  I really want to buy something handpainted, especially since I have been using so many solid colors lately.  I know this will limit my pattern options, but I don't care.  I will choose some simple pattern, like the Hermione's Everyday Socks that I made for my niece, Hannah

I've been listening to a lot of knitting podcasts lately, and one from KnitPicks, has a short thing on using handpainted yarn.  They talked about yarn color choices, and how using solid yarns allows a pattern to be the main focus, and using simple patterns allows the yarn colors to be the main focus.  I never think of these things.  But I do notice in the posted FO (finished objects) in the SKA threads, that these gorgeous handpainted yarns sometimes "pool" the colors into weird clumps.

Anyway, I really wanted some wild handpainted thing, so I chose Mombassa, which I swear looks like an animal pelt.  I checked it out in some FO in Ravelry.  You can put the type of yarn in their search engine, then look for FO's or WIP (works in Progress) that are using that yarn.  Very very cool.  It really let me get an idea of how each yarn would look.  So the Mombassa was amazing!  I'm going to make someone a pair of tiger or leopard socks.

Birthday News

Yesterday was my 52nd birthday.  I think that I posted on my husband's (the Doc's) birthday last month, that we have this joke since he is 1 month older than I am about how old he is UNTIL I turn the same age.  So of course, the Doc woke me with the comment, "it's amazing how young 52 suddenly seems."  And, indeed, 52 seems to be a super young age.  As my daughter Samantha said when she called me, "60 is the new middle age."  We both plan to live to 120 =)

I spent my birthday knitting.  Of course we went out to a wonderful dinner at a little Italian place at Crossroads Mall:  Firenze Restaurante.  Doc, Allie, Luke and I went.  I love their ravioli with tomato cream sauce with mushrooms.  Yum!  I also made brownies for dessert.  Yum again.  I have a secret brownie recipe, and I am not kidding, everyone LOVES my brownies.  Doc got me 2 seasons of Dr. Who on DVD.  Oh my!  I do love the Doctor.  My kids called from college.  I miss them so much.  My parents and older sister, S, called.  It was really nice to talk to them all.

Knitting Knews

Since it was my birthday, I let myself knit a bit on MY socks, the Osier Socks by Nicole Masson. All I finished was the ribbing, but, wow, the yarn is such a pretty color.  I can't wait to get more done.

I also "finished" the first sleeve of my Mystery Sweater that I am making for the Sharing Our Gifts Across America group.  After we got home from the restaurant, I had Luke try it on (I should have taken a photo of him !) and like the body, the sleeve was too short.  I had not bound it off, though, so I just continued making rows of garter stitch (knitting a row, then purling a row) until I had added about 3 more inches.  This makes the cuff super long, but I hope that will seem a design choice...

I then picked up the stitches on the bottom of the body and am now knitting the same rows of garter stitch.  It goes really fast, although it is 160 stitches around.

One of the interesting things about this sweater for me as a novice knitter, is the great example of how gauge works.  The sweater starts with 80 stitches for the top of the sleeve, which I then reduced by 2 stitches every 6 rows and then every 4 rows until I had 40 stitches left on the needles.  The socks I am making for M, Mr. Pitt's Socks by Kaitlyn Wong have 80 stitches in each sock.

These blue socks have twice the number of stitches on the needles as does the black sleeve...
Oh what a difference the yarn size and needle make to the finished size of the knitted object.

I have finished 9" of the Mr. Pitt's Socks, and am ready to start the heels.  I hope to get one heel finished today.

On the Movember Mystery Socks by Deb Barnhill that I am making for the Doc, I have now finished 3 iterations of the leg pattern.

I am not sure how many I will do.  I will probably keep making 1 a day at least until the next clue is posted.  That should put the sock legs at about 8 - 9 inches.  A good length for Man Socks.

Lots of good birthday knitting fun!  And some free yarn to boot!  I am a lucky person.

C. A. Losi

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Solid Socks Autumn Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I've been thinking about the poem by Robert Browning, "Song" from "Pippa Passes."  It describes the perfect moment:

The year's at the Spring.
The day's at the morn.
Morning's at seven.
The hilltop's dew-pearled.

The lark's on the wing.
The snail's on the thorn.
God's in his Heaven.
All's right with the world.

And, yes, what a lovely moment it describes.  A Spring morning.  But, wow, we are really having such lovely days this Autumn.  Yes, it is sometimes gray and rainy.  Yes, the temperature is dropping.  Yes, our daylight is getting shorter and more and more angled.  But still, beautiful colors, that sort of peace that comes with the slanted sunlight, the crispness of the cooler air.  I'm just loving it.

Here, in the Pacific Northwest, well, my neighborhood, anyway, we have these miniature maple trees.  They are super cute, and turn really pretty colors.  When they get larger, they look like Cousin It from the Addams Family TV Show.  Anyway, we have 4 of them in our yard, and they are all changing colors now.  The ones with reddish leaves in the summer are getting brighter red:

(this is the baby of our 4)

(this one gets more sunlight since it is by the street corner)

(this one was in the yard when we bought our house 13 years ago)

And the 4th one has green leaves in the summer.  You can see it turns a completely different color in Autumn:

(it is this delicate orange).

We still have a few flowers left on our shrubs, though we had a pretty good frost last week, and one day that didn't get out of the 30's (F), so they are looking a little battered at this point:

Our Dahlias.

and the Hydrangeas in the front yard:

Even as these flowers bloom away in their last glory, though, the winter plants are getting ready to shine.  Look at the white Heather.  It's all full of buds:

I loved that Solid Socks on Ravelry has "Autumn" for the solid color for November.  In my area, that left me with tons of inspiring colors from which to choose.

All's Right With The World!

C. A. Losi