Sunday, 28 December 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Background painting:
Steven Mulak, State Park Vertical Abstract
(oil on canvas, 14x18, 2001).

A hat for really cold days: Baby, It's Cold Outside. The hat is very warm due to it's depth and the material. It has elements of the Mojo socks, Amanda's Hat and Monkey Socks. It ended up looking a bit like it has Christmas trees on it, actually, which - if you like - would probably come out especially well if knit in red and green. Too bad I didn't finish this in time for Christmas!

Material:
  • 1 skein Schachenmayr nomotta Extra Merino
  • 5 mm circs
  • row counter
  • tapestry needle

Pattern:
  • CO 92 sts
  • Ridge: purl 5 rows and knit 5 rows. Repeat once more.
  • Garter Rib (alternating knit and purled rows): 4 rows, beginning with a purl row
  • Increase round by 4 stitches
If you prefer the "Christmas trees" to look less like them, just knit k stitches instead of purls in the following pattern repeat:
  • Row 1: k all
  • 2. p4 k8 p4
  • 3. p3 k2tog k3 M2 k3 ssk p3
  • 4. p3 k10 p3
  • 5. p2 k2tog k3 M1 k2 M1 k3 ssk p2
  • 6. p2 k12 p2
  • 7. p1 k2tog k3 M1 k4 M1 k3 ssk p1
  • 8. p1 k14 p1
  • 9. k2tog k3 M1 k6 M1 k3 ssk
  • 10. k all
  • 11. k all
(Repeat rows 1-11 once more.)
  • Garter Rib: 4 rows
Begin decrease:
  • 1. *k6, k2tog*
  • 2. all even rows are k rows
  • 3. *k5, k2tog*
  • 5. *k4, k2tog*
  • 7. *k3, k2tog*
  • 9. *k2, k2tog*
  • 11. *k1, k2tog*
  • 13. *k2tog*
Finish: Pull thread through last stitches and weave in ends.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

WIP: Lohengrin Socks

It's too hard to resist the new yarn so I simply had to begin my new Lohengrin socks. I wish I could start knitting the hand-dyed yarn as well now and maybe I will - I am running out of needles!

I spent a day knitting a bit ago only to unravel it all again in favour of using 3 mm needles intead of 2.5 mm. It looks better and should fit better as well. The colour is still as beautiful as I thought it would be when knit up like this. I am very happy with it and only wished Lohengrin was faster to knit. As it is, the pattern is so intricate that I have to focus on every single stitch and stick to the chart, which makes it all a rather slow process. It's not the sort of pattern you can memorise easily, so who knows when the first sock will be done.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas 2008

Top left: Schoppel-Wolle, Admiral Ombré, dye lot 618874, colourway 1962 ombré
Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi), 419.7 m

Top right: Schoppel-Wolle, Admiral Ombré, dye lot 618878, colourway 1959 ombré
Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi), 419.7 m

Bottom left: Schoppel-Wolle, Admiral Bambus Seide, dye lot 518775, colourway 1982 hand
Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi)


This is what I got for Christmas from my grandmother. (I knew I was getting this since I placed the order myself.) I'd been wanting to get that particular yellow yarn for ages and this was the perfect opportunity to buy it at last. Since you can't buy anything under 15 Euros, I added a similar blue yarn that, unfortunately, doesn't look nearly as nice as it did on the shop's website, and I treated myself to a rare hand-dyed yarn as well. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it turns out that I really love the colours and am wondering if they will look equally as nice when knitted. You never know with yarn! I tend to prefer solid colours or colours of the same shade, if variegated. Other colours simply distract from knitting patterns, which is a pity. That is why I abhor the usual self-patterning or colourful sockyarns. It's a pity because those happen to be the affordable ones too.

So far I only have plans for the yellow yarn that I intend to make into Lohengrin Socks. I wouldn't be surprised if I cast on today! I am sorely tempted to make something of the hand-dyed ball too, but I will have to go through my pattern collection first. This is exciting!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Amanda, or: The Doomed Hat


This is a project that, though finished, will only briefly see the light of day, I'm afraid. Since the last few times I was out recently it was really cold and I found that my existing hats can't keep me warm enough anymore, I searched for a pattern to go with my last ball of merino yarn and that would yield a thick, warm hat. I thought I found the answer in Gina House's Amanda Hat (Ravelry) and started casting on.

Materials:
  • 1 ball of Schachenmayr nomotta Extra Merino
  • 5 mm circs
  • 1 stitchmarker
  • row counter
Knitting completely according to pattern, I still had a lot of yarn left in the end. That is a good thing too because I would have prefered to make a bigger hat. The pattern was already meant for a big head like mine, but apparently I don't have the same tension in my knitting. Still, it fit and was very stretchy. That, however, is also the problem: the stretchiness comes from the lace sections that, on pictures, didn't look like lace to me at all. Of course, lace = holes = draft = cold. So this wasn't the best idea for the original purpose even if the hat is probably great for autumn and spring.

Instead of stopping as soon as I realised how lacy it was all going to be, I decided to finish the hat anyway, keeping myslf busy and having something new to add to my blog. Obsessed much? Not me.

*starts frogging*

See?

Friday, 19 December 2008

WIP: Heart-shaped Pillow

Like I said in an earlier post, I decided to use the knitting kit Mark's parents sent me to knit a pillow. On Ravelry I found a pattern for a winged heart by Lion Brand Yarn and simply omitted the wings. The yarn was barely enough for the pattern, so I had to leave out some of the purl rows in order to finish the pillow. The two parts are slightly different in size, but luckily they are very stretchy. The eyelash yarn is interesting as well because it consists of red and black fringes of which the black is much longer. Due to this it obscures the lovely red most of the time, but it looks good when it shows through.

Later on, I will sew a lining for the pillow out of satin from the kit before buying some proper stuffing. This will probably have to wait till the New Year and perhaps even till after my defence, which has been tentatively scheduled for January 30. I am looking forward to the finished pillow. Most of all, I wonder how big it will be once it’s complete.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Yarn Shopping and an Unexpected Gift

Yesterday I spent the day at the Christmas market in Frankfurt, but I didn't spend any money at all even though my grandmother gave me money with which to buy my own Christmas present. I was keeping an eye out for wool and somehow managed to miss the shops nonetheless. So when I got home, I ordered three sock yarns from Schoppel. It was tough choosing something! I knew I was certainly going to get their Banana Joe (Admiral Ombré) sock yarn because I've seen a German knitter's Pomatomas in exactly that yarn and they look stunning. It is just the right kind of yellow that even I'd like. I also had my eye on the corresponding blue yarn and added it to the shopping cart. But then it got difficult because I knew I had enough money left to buy one more skein. I couldn't decide between red and green or another blue so that, in the end, I bought something different altogether: a hank of blue hand-dyed sock yarn! It looked very pretty on the picture and I hope it will be just as nice when knitted up. It consists of three different shades of blue and should be interesting.

Then today when I got up I found a package had arrived. I wondered at how fast Schoppel was! It was too good to be true. In the end it turned out that the box was from my friend Tanja, who owns a home by ASA shop in Erfurt! I really hadn't expected gifts from her, particularly since we're both rather broke and, even though we are very good riends, we haven't yet met each other face-to-face.

I've been good and only opened one of the gifts so that I can leave the rest for Christmas Eve. There is a packet of Zetti Knusperflocken, which is crispbread bits covered in chocolate, an east German product that I hadn't heard of. It happens to be one of her favourite sweets so I am looking forward to trying them myself in a bit. One of the wrapped presents contained a bookmark from my favourite designer and the little buddy you see here:

He is from Tanja's shop and looks like a gingerbread teddy! I really like him and have named him Snowflake for obvious reasons. He will have a lovely home here with the other teddies (and I will have to tell Mark that he will have one more teddy to find room for when I move in with him).

This was a wonderful surprise and I can't wait to find out what the other presents are! I really hadn't expected to get anything and I feel quite overwhelmed with fuzzy feelings.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Marie-Noelle Fingerless Gloves Modelled by her Namesake

Finally, Marie-Noelle can model her birthday gifts herself!
(Click for larger image.)

Today we met up for lunch before I spent the day at the Christmas market and I asked her to open her gifts early since I won't be going to her party this week. I really wanted to see her open them both - the gloves and the Firstarter socks. I originally wanted her to leave the socks till Christmas, but then I mixed up the two wrapped gifts and the socks were the first to come out. Oops. Anyway, I needed to see the fingerless gloves on Marie, so she had to open them too.

They really suit her very well and she was very pleased with them, I'm glad to report. It was well worth the effort and I still think these may be the most beautiful items I have knitted to date.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A Surprise Gift and a Sock in the Making

Today I woke up to find a package from England at the door. At first I thought it was the Secret Santa gift that should be arriving soon, but the writing on the envelope looked suspiciously like Mark's, only neater. As it happens, his parents sent it! So that is why they asked him for my address - I thought they were just going to send a card.

Even though I tried very hard to wait till Christmas before unwrapping, I gave in after all of 5 minutes. The older I get, the more impatient I become, it seems. Mark must have given his parents some ideas of things I like because it was all exactly right: there was a box of Twinnings tea, a small Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw of Bath Abbey whose pieces are fun and unusual (there is a snowflake, a bunny, teddy, even a Santa!), and finally there is also a knitting kit.

I've not made a bag yet though I do have a pretty pattern from Ravelry. I think I will use the kit's material to make a heart-shaped pillow I have had in mind for a while. Since I used similar yarn for my grandmother's pillowcase a while ago, I know how pretty and soft those are. I will keep the handles for another bag instead. That's me being resourceful again and making two gifts out of one! I hope Mark's parents don't mind.

Those 7 mm needles are fun - I don't know why they amuse me so much. I've already got a pair of 8 mm needles from my mother's collections ince she doesn't knit anymore and I find them equally entertaining just to hold. I'm odd. But back on topic: this was a lovely surprise gift that I had no idea was coming my way. I will certainly enjoy all of it.

And finally there is a small WIP that I have not yet named because I don't know what it's going to be other than another pair of socks made from my very fine 3-ply merino (Hamburger Wollfabrik). This is the yarn that was left from the Marie-Noelle fingerless gloves and it looks like I will still have some left after the socks! It's really a lot of yarn. Since it is very fine, the knitting will take longer than usual, but I am really looking forward to the final result.

At this point I haven't decided on a particular pattern because I don't know how many stitches I will have in a round yet. I want to add a cable pattern on the sides of the foot like the one the Firestarter pattern has. Since I have knitted those before, I want different, perhaps more elaborate cables. The heels will be the same Eye of the Partridge kind I made for my Mojos, but leg pattern will have to wait till I get there. So much to knit, so little time!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Last Mojo Photos

Since we have some unexpected sunshine today, I took the opportunity to take some last pictures of my Mojos. Their true colour came out better in the darker pics, but now you may be able to see the Details a little better.

I've really fallen in love with the Eye of the Partridge heel and hope to use it again in the future. Surprisingly, I like it even more than my usual short-row heel. The colours just come out much better, and the pattern makes even that part of the sock look interesting. Normally, heels are a very boring affair, I find.


All right, this is it. No more pictures of these socks! Honest!

Mojo!

They are complete! Considering how easy these socks were, it took me a very long time to finish them. I began them at the end of November and only finished them tonight. Since I was unwell most of the time, I couldn't knit as much as I wanted to, but it's become better now.

Material:
  • 2.5 mm (foot and heel) and 3 mm DPNs (leg)
  • 2 skeins Koigu KPPPM, colourway P501
  • tapestry needle
  • row counter
It was quite hard to get the legs to an equal length because if you knit the same number of rows, the socks won't be equally long when worn due to the different number of rib and ridge rows. It looks like my left sock is one ridge short, actually, but it doesn't really matter much. Should it annoy me at some point I can add another since I have some yarn left.

These socks have a great fit and are extremely comfortable, I must say. I shall wear them proudly tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

WIP: Mojo on My Right Foot

Nina reminded me that I hadn't yet posted a picture of my finished Mojo, so here it is. I am now working on the gusset increases of the second one, which means that it won't be long till I can finally wear these stunning stocks. The finished one is incredibly comfortable and I doubt that I will reknit it as I thought at first. It seemed to me that the section just before the heel was too tight and could do with a few more gusset increases, but I don't really feel it, I realised earlier. So I think it's done. I will know for sure once I can compare the fit of both socks.

There won't be any more photos till the left sock is done too. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Book: Cookie A.'s Sock Innovation



Sock Innovations: Knitting Techniques & Patterns for One-Of-A-Kind Socks

Price: 19.99 EUR


I never thought I'd say it, but I really do have a favourite designer, a sock designer at that. Cookie A.'s socks have been my favourites since I first came across them. So far I have only been able to try my hand at her free patterns, but I regularly cast a jealous eye on the patterns for purchase that I can't buy yet. That is why I was elated to hear that Cookie is publishing a book about technique that includes some of her patterns. Even though I do not buy knitting books lightly (and therefore only have one to date), this is one I will definitely get - or maybe I can have someone gift it since the book comes out in April, just in time for my birthday as luck would have it.

(Click here to read a synopsis of the book.)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

WIP: Mojos with Eye of the Partridge Heel


Evidently, my Mojos are making good progress even though my current illness is keeping me from knitting more than a few rows at a time. I am now well past the heel already and I must say that I like the look of the Eye of the Partridge pattern as pictured above. It makes the colours look more interesting and quite different from the rest of the sock.

To my surprise, the entire heel has turned out well and the sock fits perfectly so far. Since I have little experience with anything but the short row heel, I wasn't sure if this would work well. Luckily, it did and I can't wait to wear my Mojos!

Tutorial: Row Counter as Stitchmarker


My row counters were a terribly boring affair and completely useless for knitting in the round. To make them easier to use while working on my Mojo Socks, I chose a few beads and some waxed thread to turn one row counter into a stitchmarker. It was easy enough and done in a few minutes. No tools were necessary except for a lighter with which I melted the ends of the thread at the bottom to prevent it from coming undone.

First, I threaded the top beads and a spacer (to prevent the beads from slipping inside the row counter) onto the thread so it formed a loop. I then inserted the thread into the row counter, added another spacer and beads at the bottom end and tied a double knot. I cut off the excess thread a few millimeters after the knot. With the help of the lighter, I carefully melted the ends, which then turned hard quickly after cooling and keep the knot in place. Et voilà!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

WIP: Mojo Modifications


A day after my last post I realised these socks would require more modifications than expected. For the future I must remember that I have to make the toe section a bit longer. The current one is too short, though it causes no problems while wearing. Also, even though I intended to knit the heel according to pattern, I realised it was impossible since it wasn't designed for people with high arches. Therefore I have had to add a gusset and am trying my hand at the Eye of the Partridge heel I described last month. Normally, I prefer the short-row heel, but I am very curious about this new one.

Other than that I think I shouldn't have used twisted stitch or maybe I should have added 4 sts to the over all sock. It seems quite snug due to the pattern. This may turn out quite fine when all is done, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a good fit.