Friday, November 19, 2010

The Fruits of our Labors

Today was a super special day for us here - it is the first day of the San Diego Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk! You may recall that we did fundraising all summer for SGK, and today was the day to celebrate everyone's hard work and contributions!

The funds we raised (over $400!) went to SGK via our friend Judy who is walking in the event for the first time. Judy has a long history of volunteerism and participation in charity fundraising events of all kinds, and she loves doing it. She's always been a regular walker, but over the last several months has kicked into training for the event - walking many miles per day. The 3-Day route takes the walkers on a 60 mile journey all around coastal San Diego County, with two nights of camping (and foot rest!)

Kelie and I dressed in pink this morning and found a spot along the route on a nice neighborhood street, which was formerly very peaceful and quiet until we showed up! For several hours we clapped and cheered for the walkers - helping to keep them entertained and energized. Kelie is much better at cheering than I am, she had a special style of shaking what God gave her while she shouted "Save The Boobies!" This always got the walkers laughing and cheering :-) I have a feeling she's going to be pretty hoarse for the next couple of days! In this photo from left to right are: yours truly, Judy, another friend Patti who is also one of the awesome walkers, and Kelie.

Unfortunately, we have a lot of rain forecast over the next two days of the walk, but we wish the walkers the best, and Mr. Wendy and I will get out there again tomorrow to cheer them on. It's SO much fun to see all the costumes and decorated cars and motorcycles on the route. Even the male bicycle Police patroling the route were having fun, playing loud music, and wearing pink skirts over their uniforms :-)

And on a completely unrelated topic, I received some prize dishcloths in the mail today! These were made by Dashiemouse from our Ravelry group, and they are awesome! She sweetly volunteered to make prize dishcloths for our Fantasy NASCAR league, and she has done a wonderful job. These are just too pretty to use - I love the star-shaped one! Thanks, Dashie! I so appreciate the Fruits of Your Labors!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Matching Stripe-itis

When it comes to matching stripes on socks, I have a real illness. For me, stripes must match across the two socks, and I often go to an insane level of detail to ensure it happens. My only comfort in this is that I know I'm not alone.

Here is perhaps the crowning achievement of my sock-matching disease. When I was in Sock Wars a few years ago, I received a partially completed pair of socks from a poor fellow that I killed. (I truly did feel badly about knocking this contestant out of the game - there are so few active male knitters, that I don't want to be killing any of them!) On the right is a photo of how the pair looked when I received them. The first sock was beautifully knit, and the second one had only a cuff - a completely mis-matched cuff!

Obviously that wasn't going to fly with me, so as you can see, I promptly cut that cuff off the ball, and started over. I also noticed the first sock had a tighter gauge than the standard pattern gauge. This was a good thing - as written, the Detonator pattern was too big for most contestants, and this excellent male knitter had made the necessary change in needle size to resolve that situation. Below is the finished pair - one made by him and one by me. The stripes match so well, that they are perfect down to the one white row of Kitchener on the toe. I love these and was proud to kill some other knitter's ass with them :-)

So recently, I needed a new travel knitting project for my trip to Portland, as none of my WIP was very portable. I decided it was finally time to make a pair of Cooke A's Monkey Socks. I've had this pattern in my queue since it came out in 2006, and I had this beautiful hand-dyed skein of Jolly Jumbuck Helios (70% Wool, 30% Silk) stashed away for the perfect project. Tada! As I was winding the yarn, I decided that this was going to be a total "mental vacation" project with no worrying about anything matching. My plan was to make these socks two-at-a-time, from both ends of a center pull ball. Let the colors fall as they may!

Well... I finished the stockinette toe (I'm making my Monkeys toe up) and couldn't help but notice that the colors were pooling identically on the front of one toe and the back of the other. How could that be? I took a good look at the dye repeats in the yarn and realized it is symmetrical with respect to direction of use. Darn it. You know what that means... now I can't ignore the fact that the pair can actually match.

So I flipped one of the socks around on the needles so that the matching sides faced the same direction and started into the pattern stitch. No longer are these a "mental vacation". Now I ensure on each row that the bright yellowy-green stripe hits at the same place on each sock - varying my gauge slightly as needed to make that happen. Here is how they look so far - I've just started the heel gusset increases.
Now that I'm back home, the Monkey are going to hibernate for a while as I crank out some Christmas gifts for my family. I've clearly bitten off more than I can chew - so we'll see how it goes!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our First Fiber Festival Exhibit!

I'm pleased to report that our first fiber festival exhibit was a huge success! Last Sunday, we had a booth at the Southern California Weaving and Fiber Festival which is hosted each year by the Southern California Handweavers Guild. The Guild members put on a great show - they are super organized and communicative, very friendly, and a real pleasure to work with. They even made us lunch :-)

Our nine weeks of strategic preparations worked out perfectly! There was no last minute fretting, and we seemed to have everything with us that we needed to have when we got there. The night before we left, Mr. Wendy commented that he noticed I wasn't running around with my hands waving in the air like I usually am before an event or travel! I love it when a plan comes together. On the left you can see all our weeks of work packed and ready to go.

We had a large booth space, and had no problem filling it! I got a few photos before the show started - here is Kelie showing off our new Sock-aholic T-Shirts.

And here is the "Sweet" side of the display, featuring the yarns and projects to go with them. We had a very colorful and eye-catching booth, which was enhanced by our sunny location. Just perfect!

Our booth was very busy throughout the day, and we even got to meet a few of our Ravelry group members from the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. That was a nice surprise! Many of the visitors to our booth enjoyed our "business coasters" - heck, anyone can have business cards!

While this show features all types of fibery-related goodness, one of the highlights is the demonstrations put on by the Handweaving Guild members. It's really interesting to watch them work, and to see the variety of loom types and fibers that they work with. Aaahhh, another craft to put on my bucket list...


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Portland Stash Enhancement - yay!

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of hitting some Portland area yarn stores with four of the members of our Ravelry group, the Sock-aholics. What fun to get to meet these ladies face-to-face after having developed online friendships for quite some time now!

We started with a great breakfast at the Cadillac Cafe, where we feasted on such treats as Hazelnut French Toast and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pancakes. Great food! We had no problem at all keeping lively conversation going, and enjoyed lots of great laughs together. In the photo from left to right are, knitsterchick (seated), SueHauser, yours truly, yohmama, and GmaX4. We were escorted by Mr. GmaX4 and Mr. Wendy, who I'm sure were wishing we would talk about something other than yarn every now and then :-)
Our first stop on the Yarn Trail was a shop called Twisted. The initial thing that catches your eye as you walk in this shop is this awesome wall of sock yarn! Our escorts waited patiently in the "man chairs" by the front door while we browsed all types of yarns, featuring many brands of Indie yarns - which means you can truly find something special here. They had nice couches and tables and chairs where several ladies were enjoying some social knitting, a huge selection of teas, and in the back they had a small classroom area where a beginning knitting class had just begun. (Yay! New knitters!) I didn't make any purchases here, but I did get my head around what I wanted to buy for the two projects I had in mind to shop for.

Next we headed to the Yarn Garden. OMG this shop is huge! I don't think I even went into all the rooms of yarn. After I got over my initial yarn overload, I buckled down and focused on finding yarn for my projects. The first project on my list is a shrug for my sister who teaches ballet and needs a little something to keep her arms warm. The pattern I chose requires worsted weight, and I wanted something washable. I found Malabrigo Rios which is superwash merino, and is about the softest wool I think I've ever touched! The colorway is a smoky tealy-green tonal blend that should be beautiful. My other score was DK weight Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool (45% Wool/35% Silk/20% Nylon) which I'm going to use to make a cute summer top called Siesta. This yarn is in a bright apple green that yohmama helped me select.

I should mention that yohmama was really a trooper to come out with us in her leg cast today! She wasn't able to stand and check out the yarns in the shops, but she found a good place to put her leg up and knit in each store, and she was a great armchair shopping coach!

While we were in Yarn Garden, our escorts got clever and looked ahead to see what diversions they could find near our next destination, and bugged out to go play some pool at one of the many cool McMenamin establishments.

Our next stop was Happy Knits! Someone had knitted a cozy for their front door handle - ha! This shop was run by a couple of really friendly gentlemen who, pardon the expression, had some really big balls! Giant wire balls adorned with Cascade 220 in all colors decorated the tops of their displays. This is a newer shop, and it has a huge class/knitting room in the back with a fireplace. Awesome :-)

Our final stop was Dublin Bay Yarn Company. I made an "unscheduled" purchase here, when I found I could just not leave without these cute snowman buttons. Of course, I had to get yarn for a project to put the buttons on, so I selected these red and white skeins of Lorna's Laces Sheperd Worsted superwash that is really soft and squishy. I plan to make a hat and mittens set for my niece, and I'll put the cute buttons on the hat.

What an enjoyable day we had! The other ladies will have to show and tell their purchases - I got so excited about my finds that I don't even remember everything else that was tucked into shopping bags.

I really look forward to meeting other Sock-aholics on future trips!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Top Down Fleegle Heel

It's my favorite knitting day of the week - Sports Knitting Sunday! Although my betting is for bragging rights only, I find it keeps the sideline knitting more interesting if I have something specific to cheer for. I'm in an NFL game picking contest with a bunch of other knitters and am not doing well this year in that contest at all! I've resorted to flipping a coin to improve my odds of scoring points. And for the first time, I'm also in a NASCAR Fantasy League for the Sprint Cup Series which I'm really enjoying. I'm in second place in that contest so far, and I think there are actually dishcloths on the line this week... so this is serious! Both are on TV right now - so it may take me a while to type this post!

Now for a warning... this remainder of this post is rated very high on the technical knitting geek meter!

Our online Ravelry group has just started two Knit-along projects - both suitable for holiday gift giving! One of them, the Pretty Toes Pedicure Sock, uses a heel that I've mentioned previously knows as the Fleegle Heel. This heel, pictured on the right, is designed for toe up usage. It is done as follows:

1. The gusset is created first. On every other row of the gusset, a lifted increase is worked two stitches in from each end of the sts on the heel needle. This continues until the gusset contains two fewer stitches than were in the original circumference of the entire sock.

2. To turn the heel, short rows are worked on the heel needle stitches only. The creator of the Fleegle heel has cleverly identified a way to do the short row turns without wraps that are very clean looking.

3. Once the heel stitch count has been decreased to where there are only a couple more stitches than you started with, the heel is rejoined to the top side of the sock and knitting in the round is resumed. The Fleegle creator has also found the way to prevent gusset holes from appearing - she is very smart! You can find the specific directions for working the Fleegle Heel on her blog - here's a link.

After learning this heel, my first thought was, "Now how would you do this for a top-down sock?" The Fleegle creator mentions in her blog that the heel can be worked identically for a top-down application, so I gave that suggestion a test knit. Below is a photo comparing the standard Fleegle (left) to the upside-down Fleegle (right).

While this option is simple to work, and has a very tidy look to it, there are a couple of things about it that bother me a little. First, look at the angle of the heel turn. It no longer bisects the heel, but instead the angle is very low. I believe this occurs because the Fleegle Heel is not symmetrical in terms of the number of rows before the turn versus after the turn. Second, it just looks visually unbalanced to me to have the gusset on the top side of the turn row instead of below it. This is, of course, a personal preference thing. Third, notice how the top of the heel is higher on the upside down version than on the standard version. Again this is due to the unsymmetrical nature of the heel style. If you were working on a top-down sock, you would need to disrupt the stitch pattern on the back of the leg at a higher point than you would if you were working the same sock toe-up.

None of these points are terribly bothersome or important. But, it did fuel me to come up with a top-down version of this no-flap gusset heel that would look more like its toe-up counterpoint. The challenge in doing this is that you need to start by doing short row increases, and then finish by doing gusset decreases. The gusset decreases are no problem - you simply do decreases on each side of the gusset instead of the lifted increases that are done in the stardard version.

The short row increases are tricky however. All the types of short row increases that I know (wrapped, Japanese, yarn over) leave gaps between the stitches on the needle before and after the turning point. Normally with a short row heel this isn't a problem, because when you do the heel turn, you work decreases across those gaps to hide them. But in this case, there aren't short row decreases to hide the gaps, so I needed to come up with a way to do gap-less short row turns.

I accomplished this by using Make 1 increases at the turning points instead of doing wraps or yarn overs. So, the jist of the short row heel shaping goes like this...

Row 1: (RS) K to last st, M1, turn.
Row 2: (WS) Slip 2 with yarn in front. P to last st, M1, turn.
Row 3: Slip 2 with yarn in back. K to last 3 sts, M1, turn.
Row 4: Slip 2 with yarn in front. P to last 3 sts, M1, turn.
Row 5: Slip 2 with yarn in back. K to last 5 sts, M1, turn.
Row 6: Slip 2 with yarn in front. P to last 5 sts, M1, turn.

See the pattern? Repeat rows 5 and 6, leaving 2 more sts at the end of the row before you work your M1, until you have the desired number of sts on your heel needle, ending with a WS row. Then you work the gusset decreases to form the heel turn. The photo below shows this top-down no-flap gusset heel compared to the others we've previously discussed.

Notice that it matches the standard toe-up Fleegle quite well, that the heel turn row angle better bisects the heel, and that the top of the heel in the back is lower than the upside-down Fleegle version. The turn row itself is not quite a smooth as the original Fleegle turn row, but it still looks pretty good.

So I'm happy that I was able to figure this out - for what it's worth. Either of these top-down methods would make a great sock - it's just about having more options.

Now back to sports and knitting!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Bet is Paid with Knitters' Currency

Who else but knitters would use dishcloths as currency? Truth is - we're dishcloth crazy. We love to make them, we love to receive them, and we love to use them (OK, maybe we don't love to do dishes, but getting to use a handmade dishcloth makes the chore SO much better.)

Pre-Ravelry, I had no clue about the whole dishcloth craze. I was into knitting garments, particularly a whole slew of sweaters that I hardly ever wear because they are too warm for Southern California (clearly I also hadn't heard of DK weight yarn). Once I joined Ravelry, and some other online knitting groups, I was completely intrigued about how much of the chit chat was devoted to the subject of dishcloths. I kept thinking that all these online knitters must be beginners, because why would any seasoned knitter be satisfied with knitting a simple dishcloth? And why would anyone actually be searching for dishcloth patterns - they are just squares for cripes sakes! Apparently, another online lurker had the same questions, and actually had the cojones to post them. All I can say is, I'm really glad I wasn't the one who asked why anyone would want to knit dishcloths. That poster got creamed by a flood of responses - many of which indicated that her hoity-toity attitude was not appreciated, and that she was missing out on something by not making dishcloths.

So I gave it a whirl. I went to Michaels to get some dishcloth cotton, and found that, "Hey, since the last time I looked at dishcloth cotton in the 1970s, it actually comes in colors other than white now!"

So I got my little ball, and started to search for - heaven forbid - dishcloth patterns. What I found was my second pleasant surprise, dishcloths aren't just garter stitch squares! They were in all shapes and sizes, and used lots of pretty lace patterns and other theme motifs. I picked one out and went to work.

After a couple of hours my dishcloth was finished. Pleasant suprise number three! Dishcloths give us a little project that we can complete quickly when we need to feel the satisfaction of finishing something. And, that makes them a great gift option, too.

Finally, pleasant suprise number four was how nicely they work! Those purl bumps and lacy texture stitches make excellent little pot scrubbers or skin exfoliators. Not only are they pretty, but they are useful, too!

To celebrate my new found love of The Dishcloth, I joined a 2008 Olympic-themed dishcloth assassin game hosted by Helen Waites, who runs the Sock Wars games. I went back to Michaels, and this time came home with THREE of those football sized skeins of Sugar n' Cream which were on too good of a sale to resist. Even though I got killed in round 2 of the dishcloth contest, I had a great time, and got some pretty new cloths to use. And, I have enough dishcloth cotton to last me for the rest of my life!

These days, the Sock-aholics have been using dishcloths as currency in our recent sports contests. We have a knitters NASCAR contest going for the Sprint Chase for the Cup Series, and several participants have been knitting dishcloths to send to the lucky weekly winners. I find that I'm quick to make dishcloth bets with members of our NFL contest who directly challenge my local team, the Chargers, against their favorite team. So far, this has consistently been a sucker bet for me and has not netted me any new dishcloths, though. Last season I lost a bet to a Jets fan. While searching my stash of dishcloth cotton for appropriate yarn to make her prize from, I just couldn't find my green, and instead made her the Chargers themed dishcloth shown above. I don't think it's the favored dishcloth in her collection - ha!

This year, I lost a bet to a KC Chiefs fan. I considered making her a Chargers dishcloth, too, but I'm so annoyed with their performance this year that I couldn't bear the thought of spending more time paying yarny tribute to them. Instead, I grabbed the pink yarn from my stash, and recognized that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and made her the dishcloth shown below. I adapted the ribbon motif from the Awareness Socks I designed earlier this year, and put a seed stitch border around it so it would lay flat. I think she will like it :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Knitting 9-1-1

I've always found knitting repair work to be a fun challenge. It's like a puzzle to solve - missing stitches need to be found and replaced in the right order. I also find it very rewarding to save a hand-knit item that someone spent many hours creating.

Recently, one of our Ravelry group members was blocking her After Hours Shawl, and found that the border had begun to unravel. When I offered to fix it for her, other group members asked me to post some photos of the process to help them learn to do repair work, too.

The first step is to assemble some tools and to prepare the surgical environment. I gathered some double pointed needles (DPNs), blue tape, safety pins, small crochet hooks, matching needle and thread, the pattern, and most importantly, my OTT light. Then I made myself a large coffee (spiked), and put on a silly movie comedy that wouldn't require too much of my attention.

The knitter did a great job stablizing the area needing repair so that it wouldn't unravel any further. Here is what it looked like when I opened the box and spread it out.

The next thing I did was assess the amount of damage and figure out where to start. I untied the securing threads and carefully spread out the yarn. What I found was yarn tails for 8 rows that had partially unraveled, and I used blue tape to secure them to the table in the order that they would be used. I also noted by observing the bead placement, that the first two and last two stitches of seven of the damaged rows were intact. This is good news. The damage was limited to one of the pointy border motifs. Using a DPN I picked up the row 8 stitches at the end of the previous complete motif.

Now here's where the strategy part comes into play. What we are going to do is reknit each row, so it becomes important to know how how the stitch
es in one row "feed into" the stitches in the next row. When you are fixing Stockinette work, it's easy to see that the stitches in each row feed vertically into the stitches in the next row, forming nice straight columns. But with lacework, the yarn overs and decreases make things much more complicated. Consequently, I find it helpful to refer to the pattern and draw myself a map. I won't even try to explain my drawing, but be assured that it was helpful for me!

Here is the repair after completion of row 3.

Here it is after completion of row 6.

Here is the repair status after doing the bindoffs in row 8 which form the point. This left 6 live stitches on the needle that need to feed into the next intact motif. At this point, I find it nearly impossible to see exactly where each stitch should go, so I just wing it. Using a crochet hook, I grab threads from the lower part of the next motif and pull them through the remaining live stitches two-at-a-time, and then pull those resulting stitches through each other, effectively binding off 5 of the remaining stitches. Now I'm left with just one live stitch.

To secure this last stitch, I threaded a needle with matching sewing thread (now I know why I've been moving this thread around with me for the last 25 years!) Working from the back, I secure the thread tail by weaving it through the yarn as invisibly as possible, then pull my needle to the front side and through the live stitch, then take my needle again to the back side where is secure the other end of the thread tail. I hid my thread knots under the beads - hee!

The shawl is saved, and has been released from the Knitting 9-1-1 emergency facility to return to its knitter. I love a happy ending!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't Do The Math

A lot of knitterly people I know are good at math. Perhaps it's because math is so integral to the design and execution of the projects we make. Or perhaps we math types are drawn to knitting because each stitch is a discrete operation, and each project has a finite solution. Or perhaps I just like to hang with smart and creative people :-)

Until recently, I had been enjoying some good knitting math. I've been working on my River Run Shawl more regularly than usual, counting down the number of rows left until the body was complete. I found my enthusiasm to work on the project was inversely proportional to the number of remaining rows - the smaller that row count got, the more I worked on the project. And Ta Da! I finally finished the body of the shawl - can I get a Halleluja!

The last body row of the shawl ended with 424 live stitches, which get bound off concurrently with the addition of the border. "So," my mind starts to wander to the dark side of math, "I wonder how long it will take me to put this border on?"

My initial quick assessment was a bit depressing, and quite incorrect. Without reading the pattern, I assumed that I would be binding off one shawl stitch with each border row. That would mean 424 border rows are on the horizon - "Ugh," thought my mind. At least the border rows are only about 30 stitches long, and only 3 out of every eight are beaded. "So," my mind says, "I can deal with this." Then I read the pattern.

Turns out that the directions call for one shawl stitch to be bound off with every other border row. That doubles the row count to 848!
So," my increasingly annoying mind asks, "How many more hours of work are we talking here girlfriend?" I need to find the "off" button for my brain, but first I had to find out the answer. I timed myself completing 2 reps of the border, and then extrapolated that data over the remaining 104 reps of the border and got the answer.

39 hours.

"Cripes," said my mind. "I wish you hadn't done the math."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Toes!

I've finished the first half of my new Pedicure Socks, and I have happy toes!!!

This pattern has turned out to be way fun! It starts with I-Cord to form the toe strap, and you work the top of the foot for a couple of inches. Next you pick up the opposite side of the I-Cord and knit the sole of the foot for a couple of inches - and this gives you this pretty hour glass.

At this point, you fold the hourglass in half to join the two halves and work in the round to form the foot, heel, leg, and cuff. As you can see in the full photo below, this design is asymetrical - just like our feet. Consequently, this design is right and left differentiated, which provides a little design challenge for me!

I'm using our new Sweet Butter yarn for this pair, and love the way it feels to work with and wear! I look forward to launching this pattern as part of our Holiday Gift KAL - these socks will make great presents... this pair is a present for ME! :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Heel that makes me Squeel!

I'm working on a new sock design for our Holiday Gift KAL. This sock has a VERY different toe treatment than we have done in the past, so I wanted a new heel, too! Enter the Fleegle Heel.

This heel technique is truly elegant in its simplicity - it results in a very tidy turn with no wraps to mess with and no unwanted peep holes. The real piece de resistance is that there are absolutely NO GAPS where the completed heel is rejoined to the top of the foot to be worked in the round once again. Amazing.

This is a toe-up heel. It begins with paired increases as you approach the heel to create a gusset. Then, short rows are worked to turn the heel, but the short row turn gaps are cleverly hidden with decreases to yield a smooth finish as you can see in my photo. You can read more about it on Fleegle's Blog. I'm hooked!

The yellow yarn I'm using is our new Sock-aholic Sweet in Sweet Butter. I love the feel of it, and so do my feet :-)

In my next post I'll reveal the results of my attempt to knit backwards. The word "attempt" kinda gives it away...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our First Shawl KAL

Woo hoo! What an exciting week. First we introduced our new yarn, and now we've rolled out the information about our next KAL! The After Hours Shawl is our first project designed for our new yarn, and our first shawl project.

I can't remember what it was that inspired me to design a shawl - I guess it just seemed like a fun, mathematical sort of project that I could sink my teeth into. (Plus, I like to take a break from socks every now and then!) I had no idea whether I could make a decent sized shawl from one skein of yarn, but by using larger needles, the pattern yielded a full-sized shawl. The lacework is definitely more open than you see in most shawls, but it still drapes well, looks pretty, and makes you feel like a Princess when you put it on :-)

Our new Sweet yarn is really perfect for this type of a project. The bamboo and silk in the blend enhance the yarn's draping properties. The shawl is also accented with 04/0 beads around the border to give it a bit more weight. It hangs beautifully!

And kudos to Mr. Wendy, who once again has done a great job photographing our projects.

The Knit-Along for this shawl starts on 9/1. For details, you can visit
The Store or The Ravelry Group. We would love to have you join us for this quick-knit project!

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Yarn!!!!

A while back I asked members of the online Sock-aholic group what type of fibers they would like to have in a sock yarn - and here's why!

Introducing: Sock-aholic Sweet!

I'm so excited to be rolling this out! :-)

Sock-aholic Sweet is our new fingering weight yarn which has been created exclusively for Knitters Brewing Company. It is a super soft blend of 60% Superwash Merino, 15% Nylon, 15% Bamboo, and 10% Silk.

This yarn has a wonderful feel to it. It's a 6-ply (3 by 2 plies) fingering weight yarn, that knits to the same gauge as our original Sock-aholic (7 to 9 sts/inch on size 1 - 2 needles), and it is hanked at approximately 390 yards. It has a beautiful sheen due to the silk content, and the bamboo adds a light airyness and moisture wicking properties that make this a great year round sock yarn.

We are currently offering Sweet in 8 cool colors, and tomorrow I'll be announcing our new KAL which will feature this awesome yarn!

Now... why is it called Sweet you ask? One reason is that when I got my hands on it for he first time , I said, "This is SO Sweet!" The other reason is more in keeping with our shop's cocktail theme. When we were on vacation in Barbados earlier this year, one of the guides told us that people on the island don't get drunk, they get "sweet!" How perfect is that?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Here I Go Again - But With a New Tool This Time

By now you are all tired of hearing me whine about the lace shawl that I don't like working on, but I'm going to blather on about it some more, because I've just cast on another project very similar to it! Clearly I need therapy.

So let's break this down. The things I don't like about the big lace shawl are...
1. The rows are really long
2. The yarn is very thin
3. The right side rows are beaded, which makes them take even longer.
4. It's taking forever to finish because I've lost interest in it. I have to make myself work on it.

On the plus side - it's beautiful! I'll love it for the rest of my life when it is finally done.

So while I was travelling to my class reunion and back (it was way fun, by the way!), I cast on and started Christmas gift #2. This is the
Sabine sweater by Julie Weisenberger, which I'm making for my mother. It's got that great top-down raglan construction that eliminates all seams - love that! But as I was working away on it on the plane, I noticed the following:
1. The rows are getting really long
2. The Kid Silk Haze that I'm making it from is even thinner than the silk I'm making the shawl from. Plus, it has no mass whatsoever, so...
3. I'm going to have to do some beading around the bottom of the bodice and sleeves so the thing doesn't just float off my mother as she is wearing it.
4. I'm really glad to have a Christmas deadline for this project, otherwise it would probably become really good friends with my shawl in Wipville: Population 2.

The good news is that the wrong side rows are all purl, and I'm determined to learn to knit backwards in an attempt to make them go more quickly (or at least more ergonomically). I've tried once before, and just couldn't wrap my head around it that day, so I forgot about the technique completely. One of the Knitlisters posted this brief video recently, though, and it makes it look so simple that I'm pretty sure I can tackle it this time. Another new technique for the ol' toolbox.

Before I try this, however, I'm going to finish my Catalina Sweater. I have just a few more rows to do on the front band, but decided it was too bulky to carry on vacation, so I had to abandon it in a state of near-completion! That was a test of my resolve, for sure. In my next post, I should have a finished sweater to report - yay!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shawls, Balls, and Hey Y'Alls!

How cool that my topics for this post all rhyme!

My longest standing WIP is a laceweight shawl. It's really beautiful, but I don't enjoy working on it because the rows are really long now. Plus, all the right side rows are beaded, so each RS row is taking me somewhere around 35 minutes to complete. Fortunately, the WS rows are just purled with no beads, so those aren't quite as painful! The yarn for this shawl is a 100% silk which was naturally dyed by A Verb for Keeping Warm. I found it at Stitches West in 2009, and cast on shortly after that, and it's still on the needles. The good news is that my online knitting buddy knitrsue decided to make a shawl, so I'm having a knit-along with her to keep me motivated to finish this shawl. I have 24 more body rows to go, and then the beaded border. I'm trying to do 1 row a day, and so far that's working pretty good most days! The photo isn't very good - I have it on the longest cable I've got, but it's not nearly long enough for me to spread the whole shawl out.

On the opposite end of the shawl spectrum is this newly finished object - yay!!! This was a second test knit of the After Hours shawl I designed, and I made it with our new Sockaholic Sweet yarn that we'll be introducing very soon. This little beauty is a one-skein wonder, made from fingering weight yarn on size 11 needles, with optional beads on the border. I cast this on July 7th, and finished knitting it on the 18th. Now that's my kind of shawl! This shawl pattern will be our next Knitters Brewing knit-along. Watch for the announcement at the beginning of August. Another bonus... this is going to be a Christmas gift, so I have one done already! :-)

Now for the Balls... Sunday was Stitch n' Pitch with the Padres, and our usual cadre of party knitters was there to cheer on the home team to victory! A few of us took the commuter train to the ballpark, so I had lots of uninterrupted knitting time, and finished those darned sweater sleeves! I am so happy about that :-) Now I just need to do the front band, and this sweater will be done and ready to wear when Fall hits. I think this is going to be one of those sweaters that I'll get a lot of use out of. I really like the DK weight - not heavy or bulky, but still warm due to the alpaca/silk content.

This weekend is my 30th class reunion - doesn't even seem possible! I've been working on nametags for the event, and it's been such a hoot to go through the old photos and yearbook. Due to my ageing memory, I regretfully can not remember everyone in the class, but I'm sure the memories will come flooding back once the plane lands in Nebraska. My mother tells me to expect 90+ degree weather, so I plan to spend a lot of time on a floatie in the lake they live on when I'm not socializing with my old pals. There's a new LYS in my hometown I get to check out, too!

Cheers -

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fun with Plaid!

I was recently quite honored to be asked to design a project for another Ravelry group's Fall knit-along, which just sounded like such a fun opportunity, I had to say "Yes!" The group is the Outlander Fans, which is comprised of yarny types who also enjoy Diana Gabaldon's series of books, the first of which was Outlander. This series is unique in that it crosses a number of genres - it's a romance, set in an historic Scottish time, thanks to a mystical bit of time travel. The historical information is quite detailed, painting an adventure about feuding Scottish clans and a modern "lass" who gets caught up in all the action. And yes, we find out what's underneath at least one of the brave warrior's kilt!

After being asked to do this project, I had the opportunity to attend a class taught by Laura Bryant of Prizm Yarns. She and her associates have been true pioneers in the field of intentional pooling, and the techniques that she shared allowed me to create the self-plaiding (well... we say self-striping...) scarf design shown above. The Outlander Fans have identified four tartans for their group members - one for each of the three clans, and one for the heroine. Consequently, I came up with the four colorways shown here, so that each knitter could have a special project to represent his or her favored clan.

And because I always include theme-oriented stitch markers in our kits, the Scottish warrior knitters will be adorning their needles with this weapon-laden hardware. The sword, a popular emblem used on kilt pin designs, represents all the Outlander clan warriors, and the blue beads represent the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. (I'll admit I did try to find Loch Ness Monster charms first, but it was a no go on those - ha!)

I'm looking forward to seeing all the plaid fun this Fall!