Thursday, December 09, 2010

Teacher, teacher

This fall I've been a busy, busy knitter, although you wouldn't know it based on my lack of blog posts! Much of what I've been knitting has been samples for my January to April-ish (and beyond) classes at Needlework Unlimited, which I will post more about in a couple of days. (If you're local and you can't wait for that, at least some of my upcoming classes can be seen on the Needlework Unlimited class schedule here, or if you stop by the shop, Marcy has been busy putting up the samples on the wall.) Karen's first grandbaby arrives this spring, so we have lots of baby-centric project classes planned. I will offer additional classes in the late spring, but those can't get posted until I finish the samples and get my course descriptions written!

In the midst of my sample knitting, I was asked to become an instructor at CraftEDU, which is a website devoted to teaching all sorts of crafts, particularly at more advanced levels. The project classes at CraftEDU will all be my own designs. In the past, I've tended toward custom design for one-off projects and have rarely written up the patterns. I'm looking forward to building my portfolio of pattern designs as well as teaching these projects. My classes will provide the opportunity to expand my students' technique repertoire as well as demonstrate how to fix mistakes common to the specific project (I am well-familiar with any mistakes that can be made, because I make them myself. And then I fix them!). I will also offer pointers on adapting the techniques for students' own designs.

The classes are structured as "broadcasts," which combine photos and tutorials on the techniques used in the class, along with more detailed audio explanations for the information covered on each page of the broadcast (think of it as sort of a PowerPoint on steroids). I have the ability to embed video, too, when that works better than photos. When students buy a class, they get 12 views of the class or access for 12 months, whichever comes first, so they can work on the project and review it at their own pace. So whether you can only watch on weekends or at 2 am or you live in Australia or the U.K., you can take the class. They'll get downloadable PDFs of the class screen shots, plus a copy of the pattern. There are free previews of each class that allow you to hear/see more information about the class, the materials required and the techniques that will be taught. I'm really excited about this!

You can join the CraftEDU community here. Once you are a member, you can join my online classroom here. You can post comments, ask questions, find a link to my classes, amongst other things. As a member of my classroom, you'll get notified when I post new classes. I hope you'll join me!

My first class at CraftEDU will be the Reversibly Cabled Scarf I introduced a couple years ago. I taught it at NU several times. Needlework sells the pattern as well. Monika's Quilt and Yarn Shop, in Park Rapids, MN carries it, too, and it can also be purchased as a PDF download on Ravelry.

I'm always interested in hearing what my students would like to learn. If you have ideas, whether it's for a class you'd like to see me teach at NU or a class you'd like to see on CraftEDU, please let me know!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I get around..and so can you

I've been working on handouts for a class I'm teaching Saturday morning at Needlework Unlimited, and it occurred to me that I ought to work harder at letting the world know what and when I'm teaching.

So here's what's on my teaching schedule through the end of the year.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 am-noon
Knitting in the Round without DPNs
There's no need to use dpns for small circumference items, and no need to switch from a regular circ to dpns when you've done too many decreases to continue with dpns. This class primarily covers Magic Loop and the Two Circs methods, but I'll also cover the Modified Magic Loop and Traveling Loop techniques, and cover when one technique might be preferable over another. We'll also discuss needle types and lengths that are best for each technique.

(It's not too late to register for this class -- there are still a few spots left. More information here.)

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 10 am - Noon
Continental Knitting
A day time class for knitters who throw the yarn with their right hand and want to learn to "pick" the yarn while it is held in their left hand. You must know how to knit and purl already.
More information here.

Wednesday, Nov 3 and 10, 6 - 8 pm
Knitting 101
Do you have a friend who keeps telling you she/he wants to learn to knit? Get 'em signed up!
They'll learn to cast on and knit in the first class and purl in the second. Additional skills taught to those who catch on quickly.
More information here

Saturday, Nov. 6, 10 am - noon
Finishing Techniques
Bring your projects that need to be put together and learn to seam properly, pick up stitches for those button bands, or you can practice seaming on swatches.
More information here.

Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 am - noon
Oops! Fixing Your Mistakes
Tinking, frogging, laddering down -- you name it, I can teach you to fix it.
More information here.

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 6-9 pm
Twinkle Mittens
Cozy mittens made with super thick and soft Twinkle yarn can be completed in just a couple hours.
More information here.

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 6 - 8 pm
Knitting 102
Never learned to purl? Don't know how to read a pattern? Have no clue how to decrease or increase? Whatever you want to learn next, I'll teach you.
More information here

Saturday, Nov. 20, noon - 2 pm
Third Saturday Techniques and Master Hand Knitting Clinic
Through the end of the year, I'm having drop-in (or register ahead of time!) clinics. Anyone is welcome to come for help, but this is also a time for knitters working on the Master Hand Knitting program to get some feedback on techniques, ask questions and get some guidance for resources. It's also a nice time to connect with other knitters in person who are going through the program. I always bring my Level I binder (with the judges comments) and my in-progress Level II binder. (Starting in January, I will be offering Saturday clinics more frequently.)
More information here.

Tuesday, Nov. 30 6-8 pm
Finishing Techniques
Same as above. Get those holiday projects finished up!
More information here.

Saturday, Dec. 4, 11, 10 am - noon
Knitting 101
Give a friend or relative a holiday gift they won't forget -- the ability to knit!
More information here

Wed., Dec. 16, 6-8 pm
Finishing Techniques
Once again, I'll be at the shop ready to help you get 'er done.
More information here.

Saturday, Dec. 18 10 am - noon
Knitting 102
Learn whatever skill is next on your knitting to-do list.
More information here

Saturday, Dec 18, noon- 2 pm
Third Saturday Techniques and Master Hand Knitting Clinic

Drop-in (or register ahead of time!) clinic. Anyone is welcome to come for help, but this is also a time for knitters working on the Master Hand Knitting program to get some feedback on techniques, ask questions and get some guidance for resources. It's also a nice time to connect with other knitters in person who are going through the program. I always bring my Level I binder (with the judges comments) and my in-progress Level II binder.
More information here

Monday, March 29, 2010

Toot, toot!

That would be the sound of my own horn.

I found out yesterday I won Ravelry's Bobby Award for Most Educational Raveler. A great honor, and a very big thrill!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ask a Knitter archive page

For any of you who have clicked on the sidebar link to Ask a Knitter archives and have been frustrated by the fact that you couldn't actually get to the archives, then today you are going to be thrilled by this news:

The archive link works now.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Novel(ty) Hats

So I've decided that my heroine's brother is a Firefly fan, the type of guy who would go to Comic-Con if he could afford the airfare, and that my heroine is going to make her brother a Jayne Cobb hat. It's the perfect project for a new knitter - the worse it looks, the better, as Ma Cobb was not an expert with the yarn and needles. That's perfectly fine for Jayne, after all, as Wash said when Jayne first put on the hat, "A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."

I hied myself to Michael's the other day, to get me some Red Heart Super Saver. All I can say is: wow. I am not anti-acrylic. I used it often for baby sweaters, and only last year I used it to make mittens for my LA-based nephews, who don't need wool, but I've always bought it at my LYS, Needlework Unlimited, which has very reasonably priced acrylic yarn and best of all, the stuff they carry is soft and the colors look good, not garish.

Not so the Red Heart, which is kind of the point, I guess, when it comes to making a Jayne Cobb hat, although I wonder if Ma Cobb would have used wool, possibly sheared from her own sheep?

I looked through several existing patterns for Jayne's hat, and compared them to what I saw in the clips.

Most of the patterns call for working 4 or more rounds of ribbing (some k2p2, some k1p1) before switching to stockinette. It's clear from photos and screen shots that there is not that much ribbing, at least around the front of the hat.

I think the reason none of the Jayne hats I've seen look quite right (aside from the fact that most knitters have appallingly even tension) is that Ma Cobb may have been doing some stealth short rows. The front of the hat has only about 6 or 7 rows of orange, and one row of k1p1 above a long tail cast on that is done in k1p1 pattern, but over the ear flaps, the orange stripe is wider, as is the ribbing. (59 seconds in to the video, you can see the side of the hat more clearly.) The hat looks like it's actually shaped to curve around Jayne's face. Cunning, indeed.

So now I have to decide if I want to make a Jayne Cobb hat that a beginner could actually make, or do I want to replicate the actual hat, which was clearly made by a very good knitter who was only pretending to be bad.

I may do both. When I fired out an email to my writer friends, asking who was a Firefly fan, three of them replied. One said, "Shiny!" and other mentioned she loved "Captain Tight Pants," and the other, when I revealed that there might be a terrible hat giveaway, raised her hand and said something to the effect of "Me! Me! Pick me!!!"

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Novel Knitting

So I'm back to writing fiction again after a 5-year hiatus that coincides with my complete obsession with knitting. I had previously had a very intimate relationship with knitting, and then took a 5-year break during which I spent a lot of time writing and merely nodded to knitting once a year on the occasion of a baby shower. Five years ago, I became a knitting stalker. No one has staged an intervention or presented me with a restraining order, but it's only a matter of time.

The knitting obsessiveness came in response to losing my writing voice. Writing was torture, my internal critic sat on my shoulder and bellowed into my ear with an megaphone, "You SUCK!" and nothing I wrote -- even emails -- sounded like me. I wanted to remember what it was like to do something creative for the pure fun and joy of it. So I came back to knitting, and I came back hard.

Eventually, my voice did come back, and I found myself writing more and more, but still not fiction. This fall, when I decided I wanted to write fiction again, NaNoWriMo sounded like a great idea to me, except for the part where I didn't actually have an idea for a story. I had an idea for a character, but I didn't know much about her. I had no ideas for other characters, no idea about setting, plot, nothing.

Turns out that when I have to write 50,000 words in one month, there's no time to think about what to write, and no time for my internal critic to haul herself into a comfortable spot on my shoulder and dish out negative self-talk. I owe the world to the guy who created Write or Die. If I hadn't had that program reminding me to keep writing (no thinking!), I wouldn't have made it.

So that was November. I let the book marinate for December, and signed up for a "Working on Your Novel" class at the Loft that started a couple of weeks ago. I knew I would need concrete goals and deadlines to work through revisions on this book, and the threat of public humiliation if I didn't meet goals, because I have the least amount of discipline of any person I know. Big personality flaw, but that's who I am.

Turns out that most of what I wrote will be thrown out (no real surprise), but the good part is that I have characters, those characters have external goals and internal conflicts, which means I can have plot and character arc (always good news).

One of the things I do to get the theme of the book nailed down - what it's really about - is to make a collage of the characters, the setting, and main plot points. I have collected a lot of photos and little objects that represent the book, but I want to do something else, too.

This book has knitting in it - one of the characters is an indie dyer and her grandmother/great aunt (not sure which yet) has a yarn shop she's ready to retire from. While the book doesn't center around the shop, this older woman is the catalyst for the chain of events that is the plot and she is very important to all the other characters, including the antagonist.

I want to keep my two creative processes joined, so that when I take a break from writing to knit, the knitting keeps me in the world of the story. To do that, I want to knit something that represents each character in some way.

So, for example, the older woman--Franny-- has lace curtains hanging in her kitchen. So I'm knitting a lace curtain. Not a full size one -- I would go insane doing that -- but a smaller one, shorter, and with fewer multiples, so I can get the thing done.

"Rose Leaf" Design
First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, by Marianne Kinzel (this book would have been new when Franny made her curtains).
Yarn: Coats Opera 30 crochet cotton (the pattern calls for #60 crochet cotton, which is not half as thin, it turns out, but is harder to come by, so I settled for #30, of which Needlework Unlimited had plenty of, in lots of colors, and which seems fine enough to me)
Needles: US 1/2.25mm

For the hero, who I named Hank, even before I knew there would be yarn, I need to knit a pair of socks - the socks the heroine sees him pull on when she first meets him. Something interesting enough that she would notice them, but manly enough that a guy like him would wear them. He's a Mr. Fixit guy with carpentry skills, on a break from what he normally does to earn a living (professional poker player). He's having trouble moving forward in his life because he keeps trying to fix the past/keep things as they've always been. So I need a sock pattern that fit his personality.

The heroine, Penny (not crazy about this name, I'm open to suggestions), has never knit before, but will learn how. She's all about the future, wants to forget her past and where she came from. She's also an expert in deceptive language. I have a scene where she's in the shop, having walked for quite a long distance in heels and she has blisters. She puts on a pair of felted slippers on display in the shop which are shaped like cowboy boots. They're not conventional, which scares her, because she's pulled herself up from a financially strapped background, and she works hard to fit in and not appear different. But she loves those slippers. I want those slippers. I may have to design them myself. Don't you think red cowboy boot slippers, with needle-felted swirly designs on the leg would be really cool?

(Edited to add photo below)

Only felted. A search of Ravelry reveals that there are crocheted cowboy booties (not felted). Clearly, this is a void waiting to be filled.

The indie dyer (I'm calling her Sookie) needs something funky - either an asymmetrical cardi, or a funky shawl or hat or maybe fingerless mitts that make A Statement. Something that represents her artistic self and independence, and uses color in a unique, but beautiful way. This is going to be hard for me. Unique color choices scare me, because I have some color vision deficiencies.

Sookie has a love interest, a more traditional guy who owns a downtown bar. I'm thinking some sort of subtle scarf that could be tucked into the neck of his wool overcoat. Like Henry, only not Henry, because while that is a terrific looking scarf, I think I would poke my eyes out with my needles if I had to knit it. On the other hand, there's nothing that says I can't knit a very small Henry scarf. Considering the size of the lace curtain I'm knitting, I could get away with a scarf about a foot long and 3 inches wide. Hmmm.

The heroine's brother is a young guy - never went to college, but smart, works manual labor jobs, a nice guy, but with simple tastes. I'm thinking a watch cap. Navy blue, maybe gray. Or maybe he's not like his sister. Maybe he doesn't care what people think about the way he looks. Can't decide.

The antagonist is another older lady, one who needs to control her world. She's getting something made of acrylic.

The heroine's mother is awful. So awful I don't know if I can even knit for her. She's the kind of person who would find fault in anything you knit for her. The kind of person who'd rather have a lottery ticket than a hand knit anything. Huh. That's interesting. I'll have to use that.

So I'm looking for pattern ideas. Anyone?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Soft and Shiny

Sophia needed to do some research this weekend at the History Center's library in downtown St. Paul, so while she was doing that, I stopped in at Treadle Yard Goods on Grand Ave. and shopped for buttons for my Bristow Cardi.

At knitting group the other day, I was sewing in the sleeves and the subject of buttons for the Bristow came up. I told the other women I was thinking of gold buttons, but when there was a simultaneous cry of "No!" from the group it occurred to me that I might be on the wrong track. I can knit people, but I'm not the best accessorizer.

The cardi is mostly stockinette, with most of the detail occurring right next to the button bands. I was instructed to get something that wouldn't pull attention away from the knitting. Something plain. Not shiny. A dull pewter, maybe. Or mother of pearl. Maybe a matte black button.

Armed with that information, I walked into Treadle Yard Goods and headed for the counter where the buttons were on display. A lovely woman asked what she could help me with, and boy was I glad she asked. Turned out she was a knitter, too, so she understood the necessary properties of a sweater button. She had a great idea about the right color, too: some sort of pearlized black would be good, she thought.

She was right.

This afternoon I sewed on the buttons, and after the Vikings game was over Michael took photos.

Can you see the buttons?

Kind of hard to get good photos of them.

I hate seeing that gate in the background of my indoor photos, so I had Michael take some outside, too. It's downright balmy here in Minnesota -- 35 degrees! -- so no outerwear necessary.

I made a mistake where I always seem to make mistakes - right at the bust - so I'm taking more advice from my knitting group and I'm living with the error for now.

If it still bugs me after a few wearings, I'll do some surgery and fix it.

Pattern: Bristow, Knitty, Winter 2005
Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk (Alpaca, Merino, Silk)
Needles: US 6/4.0mm for the seed stitch borders and cuffs, US 7/4.5mm for the rest of it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ask a Cat

Michael was hanging over my shoulder tonight with the digital camera, shooting video of me working various types of right and left twists for my upcoming Ask a Knitter column on Ravelry (should be posted Monday or Tuesday).

I got some unsolicited help.

Or maybe unsolicited criticism, not sure which.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Slipping onto the Bandwagon with Felted Feet

A month or so ago, I kept seeing a thread in the Ravelry Patterns forum entitled "French Press Felted Slippers" which I interpreted (without reading the thread) to mean that someone was using a French coffee press as a device for felting slippers. You'd think I would have read the thread, just to confirm such an oddity, but I did not.

A while later, the Yarn Harlot posted about discovering a pattern she was all over called French Press Felted Slippers, which it turns out are felted slippers designed by a woman who designs under the moniker French Press. They were supposedly a super-fast knit (90 minutes!), making them ideal for Christmas gift knitting.

It also turns out that the slippers were very cute, so I bought the pattern via Ravelry (as did hundreds of other people), and cast on with Patons Classic Wool in red. Either I was paying too much attention to the streaming video on my laptop, or I'm simply not a turbo-fast knitter, because the knitting took me about twice as long as the 90-minute claim. Of course, I was also practicing a new method of Continental purl, so that may have had something to do with it. (A new method I am now insanely happy about, but which I will save for another post. Or maybe an Ask a Knitter column. We'll see how it goes.)

At any rate, I knit the pieces, and then (as is often the case) had no fortitude to sew them together, so they sat for a week or two, little rolled up tubes of stockinette, on the floor of my office.

A few days before we left for Sedona, I decided I needed to finish up those slippers so I could wear them around the hotel room. I sewed, I felted, I let them air dry for a couple of days, and then I packed them in my suitcase, along with the decorative buttons, planning to sew the tabs on when we got to Arizona.

Here they are, felted, but unfinished.

When I pulled the slippers out of my suitcase, I realized I had forgotten to bring any yarn or thread with me with which to sew on the buttons. Lucky, lucky me, the hotel was fancy enough to have pre-threaded needles in a sewing kit, right there in the bathroom. There was just enough red to sew on the tabs at the wide end. I used the brown to sew on the buttons through both layers of fabric.

I wore them the entire time I was in the hotel room, then packed them in my carry on luggage for the flight home so that I could wear them, rather than my UGG boots, on the 3-hour flight.

I love these little slippers. My winter footwear consists mostly of UGG slippers and UGG boots. My UGG slippers are bulky and keep my feet warm, but I like to fold up my legs while I sit, which is somewhat problematic with slippers as sturdy as the UGGs.

These little babies are nice and soft and pliable, like wearing an extra-thick, but stylish, wool footie.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gray Silhouette

This year I'm all about sweaters, it seems, which hasn't been what I've been about, knitting-wise, for quite a while.

I first learned to knit while I was living in Dublin on a 3-month work visa in early 1986, when I was half the age I am now. I had three flatmates: Winnie (short for Winnifred) from County Roscommon, who was engaged to a boy back home, and two sisters from County Meath, Catherine and Anne, whose parents owned a shoe store. Winnie was training to be a cook, which with her accent sounded like "kook." Catherine was a nurse, and Anne worked as a secretary. I met them all when I called John, a guy I had met on a beach in Greece, on the island of Thira (aka Santorini). He and his brother were there making a video for their travel company in Dublin. I was there on holiday, taking a break from living and working in London. I had plans to get a visa to work in Dublin when my British work visa expired. They gave me their business card and told me to call when I got to Dublin. So I did. Anne was their secretary and they knew the fourth girl in her flat had just moved out, so they arranged for me to stay with her for a few days until I found a place to live. Before I had a chance to find a flat, the girls invited me to live with them for the duration of my work visa.

Our flat in Dublin comprised the entire first floor of a house. A couple of other young women lived upstairs, and our landlady, Franny, lived across the street. We had no central heat, just a coal fireplace in the sitting room. All the electricity was metered. One meter kept the lights and outlets running and the other was for the small water heater in the shower. When I say "small," I mean just a gallon or two of water. There were no long, leisurely showers. If you turned on the water just long enough to get wet, then soaped up and shampooed your hair, you'd have barely enough warm water to rinse off. If you had to shave your legs, you could either stand in the shower shivering for 10 minutes while the tank heated up again, or you could stand in the shower shivering while cold water rinsed off the soap from your legs.

We didn't actually use real coal for the fireplace. It was some sort of coal replacement, but it was delivered by a coal man in a horse drawn cart, just the same. There were several coal men who delivered on our street, and each one had a unique call he'd shout out that identified him, kind of like an ice cream truck, so you had to listen for him as he came down the street when you were low on coal.

In the evenings, we'd all sit together in the closed-off sitting room watching television and eating our respective dinners. Catherine and Anne usually cooked together, and it was Catherine's duty as the sister who made it home from work first to put potatoes in the oven to bake. The first thing Anne would ask was, "And did you put spuds in, Catherine?" Only she pronounced her sister's name "CAH-trin." Also, she complained about the way I pronounced her name, with my Midwestern nasal intonation. "My name's Anne, not 'AY-ann," she'd say. So we'd all be sitting there, eating, watching the telly, Catherine would light up a cigarette, Anne would bum one off her, and then the everything would go black. One of us, usually Catherine, would have a 50p coin ready and would run down the hall to the closet where the electric meter was. In went the coin, and back on came the lights.

I shared a bedroom with Catherine. I envied her electric blanket, because the bedrooms were cold (see: no central heat, above), but the girls dug up a spare hot water bottle for me, something I'd read about but had never seen, and I learned to put on the kettle a half hour before bedtime so I could slide into warm sheets at night.

My wages were heavily taxed while I was there, so I didn't have money to travel around the countryside on weekends. My flatmates would go to their parents' houses in County Meath and County Roscommon, leaving me alone in the cold, damp flat. I would spend Saturday and Sunday in the sitting room, tossing fake coal on the fire and watching television (there was no cable or satellite TV, and it was daytime weekend programming, so you can imagine how interesting that was). There was a large water tank behind the fireplace, and I learned that if I ran the fire all day long, by the end of the day I'd have tepid running water available from the taps rather than ice-cold water.

One Sunday evening, Catherine came back from County Meath with a knitting project. She was using a nubbly cotton yarn to make a V-neck pullover with dolman sleeves. Always a crafty person, I was immediately smitten with the idea of knitting in the evenings while we watched the telly and waited for the room to go dark. I worked not far from St. Stephen's Green and Trinity College, so a couple days later on my lunch hour, after picked up my check from Kelly Girl, I walked to a department store downtown which had a knitting department, picked out a pattern, needles and yarn, and took my supplies back to the flat.

I didn't know how to cast on, so my flatmates showed me how to do that, and then I tried to remember how to knit, which I had learned one afternoon in 5th grade and then never did again. They corrected the direction I was wrapping the yarn around the needle, but they hesitated to correct anything else, because they didn't want to traumatize me. Apparently, the nuns used to whack them on the knuckles if they held their yarn and needles wrong (knitting in school, can you believe it?). I spent the rest of the week hunched over my needles and yarn, practicing. Then it was the weekend again and they all left town, so I was left to my own devices to figure out how to purl. "It's just the opposite of knitting!" they called out as the door slammed behind them. I couldn't work it out, and I didn't have money to buy a knitting how-to book, so I spent several hours at a bookstore studying the pictures in knitting books until I could figure it out.

From that time on, I was a knitter. That first project was a sleeveless V-neck top, made with the same nubbly cotton yarn Catherine was using for her sweater, but I jazzed mine up with a red cotton yarn for the ribbing. (Big mistake. Turns out that red cotton yarn will bleed all over white cotton yarn once the combination hits a sink full of cold water. First sad knitting lesson learned.)

I knit nothing but sweaters for years. The pattern books I bought, including all those great Kaffe Fasset coffee table knitting books of the 1980's, were full of sweaters. I just never thought to knit anything else.

When I came back into knitting about five years ago, I had no thought of knitting sweaters. I knit things I'd never thought of knitting before: beaded shawls, afghans, socks, scarves, mittens, gloves, hats, even a few toys. I hadn't completely abandoned sweater knitting. About 4 years ago I started an Aran sweater, which took me a couple of winters to finish. I wear it all the time and it's probably one of my favorite items of clothing. Soon after that, I knit an entire cardigan in about a week and a half, then spent 2 years trying to sew a zipper into it before I gave up and sewed a clasp at the neck.

In December 2007 I started knitting a cardigan while we were at Disney World. I got about 75% of the way done before it went into hibernation.

In December 2008 I started knitting a cardigan shortly before winter break. I got about 70% done before I realized I was using the wrong needles. I ripped it out and re-knit it up to that point before it went into hibernation.

In October 2009 I started knitting a bulky knit pullover. I finished it a month or so later.

Then I pulled out the Dec. '08 cardigan and finished that one.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out the Dec. '07 cardigan and finished up the knitting on that one. I sewed the sleeves in today. There are a few ends to weave in, and buttons to find, but other than that it's finished. (More photos when it's finished finished.)

I have one more sweater in hibernation. You might guess that it's from December 2006, but you'd be wrong. It's from 1990, and I still like it.

I'm fairly certain all the knitting is finished on that one. Just need to sew a few more seams, weave in some ends, and find some buttons. It's a Louisa Harding design from Rowan 6. It's practically vintage and I've never even worn it.

In the meantime, I've started something new.

Yes, it's a sweater. A cardigan, actually.

It seems my love affair with sweaters is back.

And it's all because 24 years ago I met an Irish boy on a topless beach on the island of Santorini. Fancy that.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Year, New Socks

My kids don't wear socks unless they have to. We live in Minnesota, and when the temperature the past few weeks has been above zero, it hasn't been by much. This weather situation does not, for my kids, constitute a "have to" condition for wearing socks. (There was an argument the other morning about whether or not a coat was necessary. It was -9 F.)

So you can imagine my surprise when Sophia's knitting request this fall was a pair of socks. Not just any socks, mind you. Knee socks. Nothing fancy, just something she could wear around the house, but with the possibility of going out in public while wearing her UGGS so that only the top of the cuff was visible. I was game, because she asked for socks, and I love knitting socks, and she asked for them. She was not interested in self-striping stockinette socks, so I was bracing myself for the idea that I might have to knit plain socks with plain yarn.

Then she picked out the pattern. Lissajous, by Cookie A.

Not so simple, after all, and she insisted on the heel flap detail, even though she never planned to wear them in public except when they were stuffed inside a tall boot. The heel flap, is, you know, a flap, which means it's knit flat, back and forth. This is a twisted stitch pattern, with stitch crossings on every row: twisted knit crossing to the right over a purl, twisted knit crossing to the left over a purl, twisted knit crossing a twisted knit, twisted knit crossing a plain knit. All that variation keeps you on your toes when you can see the right side of the fabric. It's a completely different matter to work a row of that from the wrong side.

I measured her feet, her calves, her ankles. Interesting, I thought. She has the same foot and leg measurements as her mother, who it turned out was the person knitting the socks. Which meant that reassignment of sock ownership in the future could be possible if the socks were abandoned at some point.

After I finished the first sock, she said something I never expected: "This is really cool." And she went off to look for her Birkenstocks so that she could wear the socks to school as soon as I finished knitting the second one. Which took a while, as Lissajous is not for the faint of heart.

As soon as I finished weaving in the ends, I held up the socks to admire them, and what should I see, but this:

Sophia didn't want to hear about my mistakes, nor did she want me to point them out. "I can't see them," she said. "Don't show them to me. They don't matter."

In other news, we were in Sedona between Christmas and New Year's. Michael and I took a hike late one afternoon as the snow was falling. He had his fancy camera with him and I was wearing my reverse engineered bulky sweater that I didn't have a photo of yet. I whipped off my coat and insisted he take pictures of me.

I'm thinking I should have whipped off the snow pants, too. Not a great look. But the scenery -- wow.