Monday, December 24, 2007

I actually finished my Christmas knitting! *

Okay, so I didn't finish the three gifts I added to my knitting list on December 23rd in a burst of overly optimistic enthusiasm. Nor did I touch the two "extra" projects (a sweater each for my two older kids) I had in my queue just in case I finished the rest early. BUT I did finish knitting and wrapping every gift I needed to complete for Christmas Day by the morning of Christmas Eve (I don't know if I've ever done this before)! My scarves for friends Dawn and David were wrapped and mailed in time for my daughter to hand deliver them before flying home from college last week.

Here's my FO list (gotta gloat):

2 pair Greenaway Gloves for my two nieces (see previous post)

Reversible Cabled scarf for Dawn (see previous post)

Chattahoochee scarf in DiVe Autumno for David (design in 1/08 Creative Knitting)

identical scarf for my father-in-law

Mistake Stitch Rib scarf in Bouton D'Or Ksar for family friend Douglas

Mistake Stitch Rib hat in Blue Sky Suri Alpaca for my dad (photo coming soon)

Triple Cable scarf in Peruvian Tweed alpaca for my brother

Branching Out scarf in Curious Creek Omo for my brother's fiance

That's six scarves, one hat, and two pair of gloves, all between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I also sewed several gifts: an apron for my daughter, a pair of hotpads for my husband, and a set of placemats and napkins for hubby. I sewed a handful of gift bags as well in my attempt to be a bit more green this year. All but the apron was made in December.

The gifts that I didn't finish? Fetching gloves in Blue Sky Alpaca Silk for my daughter, Dashing gloves in Mission Falls 1824 wool for my older son, and ribbed fingerless gloves in Mission Falls 1824 wool for my youngest son. We're going out to dinner as a family on the 30th, so I plan to give them out then. I've finished my daughter's gloves, am on glove number two for my youngest, and need a few more yards of yarn to finish the dashing gloves for Alex.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Good news and bad news

The good news is I was invited onto Ravelry today. It's every bit as fun (and addicting) as I thought it would be. The bad news is that it is so much fun exploring and setting up my account that I got no knitting done so far today (as of 8:45 pm).

I'm still trying to figure out how to get my photos and weblinks set up, but I at least have a few rudiments up and running.

Joe's back went out Saturday night. Today was the first time he tried driving anywhere; he lasted a few hours at work. From what I gather, his behavior is typical for sick husbands.

Enough said.

I finished another Christmas gift yesterday, the scarf for family friend Douglas. It is in Mistake Stitch Rib (K2 P2 over a multiple of 4 + 3, ending K2 P1). I used Bouton D'Or Ksar, which is a 50/50 blend of wool and camel hair. It is soft, pale blue, and fairly masculine looking. Four down, and umpteen to go.

Off to knitting the next gift...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Been a busy week

This was a heavy week for nonprofit work. I had several multi-hour meetings, wrote a meeting summary and action list for a colleague, edited and submitted a two page overview of our grant making group (for marketing purposes), and wrote/submitted a one paragraph version including a calendar (for other marketing purposes). Most of our group's work due before year end is now out of the way, which means I can focus on other non-profit work (and getting ready for Christmas).

I'm making progress on my holiday gift knitting. Since Tuesday I have finished the reversible cabled scarf for Dawn and two pair of fingerless gloves (for my two nieces).

The reversible cabled scarf is based on a class I took the winter of 1992 from Lily Chin. The idea is annoyingly simple: any pattern that looks the same on the front and back will still look the same if you space cables evenly across it. The best effect is from K2P2 ribbing since the purls completely disappear. has a few scarf patterns using this technique (theirs have seed or garter stitch separating the cables, so the resulting scarf is not nearly as thick as mine).

Lily gave her students these guidelines for reversible cables, which I followed in my design:

1) Use much larger needles than usual, since this technique makes for a firm fabric. I used a size 9 needle (5.5 mm) for yarn that called for 3.25-3.75 mm needles. The scarf is still a bit firmer than most scarves, but it does drape pretty well.

2) Use a yarn with at least a bit of a halo (mohair is great). The stitches get a bit distorted in this technique (fuzz makes that less obvious) and big needles means larger air spaces needing some fill in. I used an alpaca yarn with a pronounced halo.

3) Follow the general rules for cables or space them even further apart. The general rule for a cable is to cross it every "x" rows, where "x" is the number of stitches in the cable. For example, a 3x3 cable should be crossed every 6 rows or it will be too tight.

4) Buy lots of yarn. A good rule of thumb is to get twice as much yarn as you normally would for the same length/width scarf. I used 4 balls of light worsted weight yarn (110 yds each) for a scarf that was a little smaller than 5"x6'.

5) Use a split ring marker to mark the front side. Since this is reversible, it is easy to miscount rows and cable on the wrong row. I used a long tail cast on, which has a distinctive right side, to help me keep track.

Here's my pattern. Please send me an email if you like it.

Dawn's Reversible Cabled Scarf

4 skeins Blue Sky Alpaca 100% Alpaca (110 yds, 5-6 st/in)
5.5 mm (US 9) needles
cable needle

Finished size: ~5"x6'

C8L: Put next 8 stitches on cable needle and hold to back of work. Rib next 8 stitches from left hand needle, then rib 8 stitches from cable needle.

Cable repeat:

Row 1: Rib 16 sts, C8L, rib 16 sts.
Rows 2-8: Rib.
Row 9: C8L, rib 16 sts, C8L.
Rows 10-16: Rib.

Cast on 48 stitches.

Knit 11 rows K2, P2 rib. Start cable repeat on row 12.

Continue until you are running low on yarn or are happy with scarf length. End scarf with a row 1, then 11 rows of rib. Cast off in rib.

I made my scarf with 20.5 repeats and ended with less than 1 yard of yarn left over.

Here's a close up of the cables.

For the fingerless gloves for my nieces, I used a web pattern (from Purl Bee) called Greenaway Gloves. The original was knit in Alchemy Sanctuary; I used Alchemy Migration (same yardage, same gauge; 30% silk, 70% merino). One skein should be enough for three gloves (1.5 pair). This yarn is so gorgeous that I plan to use up every yard of left over (maybe as cuffs for other pairs of gloves).

I hope the gloves go over well. Justin says fingerless gloves are considered fashionable at his school (a good sign, I hope).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas came early this year

When Alex was home for Thanksgiving break, Joe asked everyone what they wanted for Christmas. Justin was the first to answer (with a video game, of course). Alex and Joe hemmed and hawed a bit, then I piped up that I'd like them to set up a blog for me and tutor me on particulars (like uploading photos). There was stunned silence at the dinner table, then several comments along the line of "well, I didn't expect THAT, did you?"

Less than a week later, here I am with my new toy. Wonder if they'll have anything for me under the tree (I have more than a few ideas)?

I've been keeping a diary of sorts of my knitting projects (in the works and/or completed) for years. Early on, the diary included detailed how-to notes, which were great for reference use. I became a lazier writer as years went by, and I started only listing completed projects. My how-to notes moved to post-its which eventually would get lost or lose their meaning to me; I have several self-designed or heavily modified projects I began years ago that have been sitting half finished since I can't find my notes and haven't taken the time to recreate them.

My intention is to use this blog for both purposes.

What's on the needles now:

I've dropped several projects for me (the Modern Quilt Wrap from Folk Knits and the Ella Jacket from Simply Shetland 4) in order to try to crank out as many Christmas gifts as possible in the next four weeks. I am almost done with the first item, a reversible cabled scarf knit from sportweight alpaca for my friend Dawn. Here's what else I hope to finish:

fingerless gloves for my two nieces
a lace scarf for my brother's fiancee Karen
a camel/merino (Ksar) scarf for family friend Douglas
scarves for my father, father-in-law, and brother, all of alpaca or alpaca/merino blends
scarf for Dawn's husband Dave from stash yarn I received from his mother's estate

If the above are finished quickly, I'll work on the sweater-from-hell for my daughter Kerry. This is the sweater she requested in early 2005; I mistakenly said "yes" before hearing what she wanted: solid black, 6 stitch to the inch or finer, covered in cables, and machine washable (but not cotton). She won't accept a machine knit sweater from a store, and every design I presented required some pattern changes (has to be hip length, fitted, v neck, and 3/4 sleeves). I'm on my second attempt (about halfway up the back, no other pieces knit).

No matter how far along I am, this sweater will be put aside the moment she returns to college (I despise knitting this sweater only slightly less than I love my daughter). Do others have projects they hate, but must complete for whatever reason? How does one get through to the end?

My mother-in-law received the Daisy scarf from Rowan #36 (knit in sportweight alpaca/silk from Blue Sky) for her birthday last week, so she gets store bought gifts this year. My youngest announced last month that "only nerds wear sweaters these days", so, having learned my lesson when the twins were younger, I won't knit for him this year. My mother usually complains about what I give her, so I decided to go almost exclusively store bought for her presents (it seems to lessen the pain a bit). Joe is making presents for his sister and her husband, so that's two more off my "to knit" list.

Since Alex and Joe both know about this blog, I won't post hints about what I might or might not have planned for them.

Back to my needles...