Yesterday, when I came home, I said to Adam, “Do you smell kind of a poop smell?” And he said, “Yeah, it smells kind of like an animal.” I groaned and wondered  where  the strange smell was coming from. Adam investigated and then he sat down and said, “I have discovered the source…YOUR KNITTING.” It’s true–I washed all of my mittens and stuff (with an odorless wash) to put away for the summer and they were emanating a sheep-y woolen smell. It was like the spirit of the sheep had come alive. We’re wool and we smell!! Thankfully, the sheep smell goes away once the stuff is dry.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Uncategorized at May 28th, 2009.

I recently came back from a week in San Francisco, which from a knitting point of view, was a series of very small, minor, semi-unfortunate events.

When I was a kid, my parents snapped a series of photos immortalized in the family photo albums. I am sitting in a rowboat, and at first I am proudly showing off my Snow White sunglasses. Then, you see me dangling them in the water, and making a face because one of my parents was telling me not to dangle the glasses in the water. Then, off-camera, I have dropped the sunglasses into the pond, never to see them again, and there are a few photos of me bravely trying not to cry, because I persisted in dangling them in the water even though they told me not to. Though these photos do not have the same chronological story-telling element, basically, the same thing happened with my awesome watchcap. Below, you can see me wearing it while knitting in the park and waiting for the streetcar.



Then, sadly, it was gone. One day, when I took a whole bunch of public transportation, from Caltrain to the Muni Metro to the BART, I arrived to meet my friends for dinner in the Mission, suddenly realizing I had put my hat down somewhere along the line, and it was gone forever. I was totally sad, and complained the whole walk from the BART station to the restaurant, and the first thing I said upon seeing my friend was “Oh my god! I lost my hat! I am so upset!” We have been friends since the first day of high school, so she was used to my melodramatic ways, but her boyfriend was a little taken aback, and he was like “Um, hi.” I realized I was being kind of rude, especially because I like her boyfriend a lot, and was leaving him and Adam to make conversation among themselves without  being properly introduced. Fortunately, they share a love of burgers and pizza, so they chatted about that, while I continued to complain. My friend tried to make me feel better by pointing out she loses things all the time, and her boyfriend, once I stopped complaining constantly, pointed out that I should try to practice “non-attachment.” I think he was joking, and I said, “Is this a San Francisco thing?” and my friend said, “No, it’s a Buddhist thing,” which I did think was kind of funny.


Anyway, I almost finished one of Adam’s Christmas present socks on the plane ride out there, when I suddenly realized that I had left the ball of yarn for his other sock in New York. I pulled out my other sock to knit on (above), and I realized that I only had enough yarn for one sock of that pair as well. Grrrr.

Of course, this necessitated new yarn, no? When we got to the airport to fly back, I was like “How can I have so much knitting crap?” I made Adam take a photo of how much stuff I was lugging around:

From the bottom up, I have the new Mason-Dixon knitting book, Knit It! Felt It!, (both gifts from Adam), the new Yarn Harlot book (a gift from Adam’s parents who also gave me a kit of one skein and the book One Skein Wonder, which I left behind in New York–I don’t actually think Adam gave them any hints, so I was particularly impressed that they bought me the Yarn Harlot book), two bags of sock knitting, one bag of new knitting (the final 2008 FO, to be debuted with free pattern in 2009), and my traveling tool bag.

FOs 2008

Here are all my FOs for 2008, all pictured above, except for the additional mystery FO to be debuted in 2009. I knit three lace items (top row, L to R, The Ella Shawl, Burgundy Bat Shawl, That Little Scarf);  one cowl (Ithacowl, free pattern if you click through); one hat and first Fair Isle project (the sadly lost Patterned Watch Cap); three pairs of socks, (bottom row, L to R, Spiral Socks, Rainbow Jaywalkers, Berkeley Socks); and three pairs of mittens (Hot Pink Mittens, Waffle House Mittens, and the mystery FO, which hint, hint, is a mitten-esque thing).

I’m big into accessory knitting, but I’m hoping to conquer sweater knitting in 2009! (My dad, who is in town, suggested knitting pants–I think he meant like leggings–today, but did add that he thought they would time-consuming. I agree, though the thought has crossed my mind before.)

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, travelingproject, Uncategorized at December 31st, 2008.

That Little Scarf

This is the back side of the scarf showing.

Pattern: That Little Scarf, by Anne Hanson, from Knitspot.

Yarn: One skein of superwash merino sock yarn from Maple Creek Farm Fine Wools. I seem to have lost the tag, but I think it was 450 yards and $20/skein. This was the only thing I bought from Rhinebeck 2007, and it took me until now to knit it!

Needles: Size 4 Addi Lace, from Purl.

Project started/ended: Started July 28, finished November 23.

That Little Scarf

This is the front side of the scarf.

Modifications: Well, 3/4 of the way through the scarf I realized that I was doing the p2tog tbl and p3tog tbl wrong–I would slip the stitches knit-wise, and then replace the stitches on the left needle and knit them together. I did this on one of my other shawls, and it seemed okay, but I suddenly realized on this one that you really do need to knit them together by inserting your needle from left to right, tbl, not right to left, tbl. Anyway, it was too late, and I decided to embrace this mistake variation, and continued to do it for the rest of the scarf. But it means that the top of the diamond is different than originally written.

That Little Scarf

I cannot pose with my arms not on my hips. Obviously.

Also, I knit 30 repeats instead of 20. I had quite a bit (maybe 80 yards?) left over, so I could have kept on going, but I got bored, so I stopped. It blocks out quite a bit longer–before blocking, it was 44″ and it blocked out to 60″+. It does have a cool pre-blocking texture, but I decided to block out to get the length.

All in all, it was a fun knit, though not a great subway knit, because I had to look at the pattern for every line. The yarn color is pretty too, no? Also, unlike a triangle shawl, each row is pretty short, instead of an ever-increasing triangle of madness. It took me about a 45 mins. to do each 12-row repeat.

That Little Scarf

I am freezing in these photos. But you wouldn’t have been able to see my “accent scarf” with my big puffy coat on. Sigh. What I do for the blog.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, lace, Scarves, Uncategorized at November 28th, 2008.

Double Irish Chain Hat

Pattern: Patterned watch cap, with the Double Irish Chain pattern, from Robin Hansen’s Favorite Mittens.

Yarn: Two skeins of Colinette Cadenza, in Slate, $10/skein; 1 skein of white Zara Merino extrafine, $10; both from Downtown Yarns. If you make the brim shorter, like 1.5″ and no pompom, you could probably get away with one skein of Cadenza.

Needles: Size 4 Hiya Hiya bamboo 16″ for brim, size 8 Balene plastic 16″ for stranded colorwork, size 5 Clover bamboo 16″ for the stockinette top, and size 6 Boye DPNs for decreases. (The DPNs and stockinette top should have been on the same size needle, but I didn’t have a size 6 16″ or size 5 DPNs, hence the change.)

Project started/ended: November 10 to November 16–5 days from cast on to cast off, with 1 more day for the pompom!

 Double Irish Chain Hat

This is my first stranded project–whee! I think I did a pretty good job. I’ll have to take a photo of the insides so you can see the floats. The Colinette Cadenza yarn color is beautiful–I felt sad to have to interrupt it with the pattern, but nothing was going to stop me from fair-isle-ing!

I enjoyed learning how to do stranded knitting, but I was shocked because I am normally a loose knitter, and have to go down two sizes from the recommended gauge, but on the stranded knitting, I had to go up two sizes to make the gauge. Robin Hansen’s book is very clear and helpful about how to do the actual knitting, and all in all, it went pretty well. (There were two periods of knitting rage: once, when I couldn’t get gauge and the second time when I couldn’t figure out how to decrease within the pattern–hence the solid top.)

My last two projects were with rougher yarns, so I was shocked how soft the merino felt. It was like butter! Here’s a blocking shot:
Blocking hat

The hat is blocking over a tupperware bowl (one of a set, the smaller size is to the left) balanced precariously on a drinking glass placed over a Ms. Bento container. (P.S. That sink’s rusty corner once cut Adam’s finger so deep we had to go to the emergency room. This was early on in my knitting career, so I was actually kind of excited because I got to knit during the 4+ hours we waited, before they finally gave him stitches.) It was cool this weekend, so to speed up the drying, I started blow-drying it. You know you’ve reached a stage of insanity in your life when you’re standing in a bathroom, blow-drying a hat pulled over a bowl, balanced on a glass, on top of a thermos.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Hats, Uncategorized at November 17th, 2008.

I was going to write up a free pattern for these mittens, but I have been busy with work and life, (and being obsessed with the election, like the rest of the country), so I’m just going to show them off. The cables are from The Harmony Guides: Cables and Arans, which Adam gave me for Christmas last year (along with the knit and purl volume of the guides). Let me say that I like this book and its clear photos, instructions, and charts. However, it is organized in an extremely illogical way. These two cables, WHICH ARE CLEARLY THE SAME CABLE, mirrored, are separated by a number of pages. I’m not sure whether the editor of the book decided to trick the reader by not grouping together related cables (and techniques) so that the reader would think they were getting more for their money than they really were, or he/she/they had some sort of life/work melt down, and just decided to throw all the pages together haphazardly, and be like, eff-it, here you go. So, though I like the book, I am warning you that it could be improved, organization-wise.

Pattern: My own. I’m calling them Waffle House Mittens, because the cables look like half a waffle. And I like Waffle House, though sadly, I do not live in the South, and thus, never get to go there. Why New York City does not have a cheap grits-to-go place is a tragedy I cannot understand.

Yarn: Less than 1 skein of Cascade 220 Heathers, color: 9452/summer sky. $7.25 from Purl. This is a common yarn, so you can probably get it cheaper somewhere else, I just happen to like Purl.

Needles: Size 3, Susan Bates. I knit super loose though, so the gauge on these is 21 stitches=4″ in stockinette.

Project started/ended: October 18 to 26. This was a quick project, it took me three days to knit each mitten.

Modifications: Well, this was my own pattern, so I don’t really think they were “modifications,” per se, but on the first mitten, my thumb gore came out weird because I increased every other round, which made my thumb look like it had a goiter. Also, the cuff was a little loose. I fixed this on the second mitten, by, respectively, increasing every third round, and knitting less stitches on the cuff, and then increasing before starting the hand, but then I decreased the top a little too pointy, even though I took notes on the first to try to make it the same. If you can knit a basic mitten, all you have to do is stick in the cables (on pages 100 and 104 of the new version of the Harmony Guides: Cables and Aran), but remember that if you’re knitting in the round, you’ll have to adapt the pattern a bit. (On even rounds, read the instructions from right to left, reversing knits with purls, and purls with knits, and crossing the cables in the front, instead of the back.)

Photo shoot notes: These photos were taken at Old Stone House, Brooklyn, which is a recreated version of a Dutch stone house located on the site of a Revolutionary War battle. Once, revolutionaries roamed Park Slope. Now, just yuppies.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Mittens, Uncategorized at November 2nd, 2008.

I read the news today, oh boy. RIP David Foster Wallace. My friend Kim introduced me to him in college and she was one of the first to email with the news yesterday. Infinite Jest was an amazing experience–one of the few books I read as an adult that I really loved. I went to a signing a few years ago, and I asked him what happened to the grandmother at the end of The Broom of the System (the mysteries of IJ were too great to tackle at a reading), and he asked what I thought. I was all, “Um, she was in the basement of the building,” and he was like, “Sure!” At that point I slunk away, because I was too embarassed, and he called out, “No, why do you think that?”

On a different note, what is happening with Wall Street? Yikes. I went to college here in the city, so I’ve always had friends on Wall Street (and I even interviewed with Merrill Lynch years ago, right after graduation). The crisis doesn’t feel distant for me. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think of New York as this far-off place, filled with so-called hoodlums and elites, people who aren’t, to use an awful phrase, “like us.” Well, this is us. Hoodlums and elites both, I guess.

Anyway, onto the knitting, which is a bit like fiddling while Rome burns, but this is a knitting blog, after all.
Hot Pink Mittens

Pattern: Aran Island Mittens, by Marcia Lewandowski, from Folk Mittens

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, about 1/2 ball. I think this was $7/ball.

Needles: size 3 DPNs, Susan Bates

Project started/ended: A long time ago? Maybe March or April of 2007, finished September 14, 2008.

Hot Pink Mittens

Notes and Modifications: I developed serious Second Mitten Syndrome with this project. First of all, the gauge with worsted-weight wool is totally impossible, so I chopped off the side cables from the front. (I also eliminated the cuff cables because I thought they were ugly.) Secondly, I couldn’t figure out how to make the thumb, so I made an afterthought thumb, but that ended up pulling the palm’s patterning askew. So I was all “ugh” about making the second mitten. But last week I buckled down and made the second one–in just one week! They’re my first real cabling project and first closed-top mittens, so I think they could use some improvement, but at least I finished them, phew.

Hot Pink Mittens

And on a final David Foster Wallace note, it’s worth getting a copy of his essay about John McCain running against George W. Bush in 2000–it’s a great read, and very apt for this year’s presidential season. *

* Though worth noting that DFW acknowledged that the 2008 McCain is not the same as the 2000 McCain.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Mittens, Uncategorized at September 15th, 2008.

Rainbow Jaywalkers

Pattern: Jaywalkers, by Grumperina

Yarn: The elusive Regia Nation 5399, aka Rainbow. This color is a little hard to find (and now discontinued) so I grabbed two skeins ($8/each, for a total of $16) when I saw them at The Point.

Needles: 0 and 1, Susan Bates

Project started/ended: Started July 3, finished September August 30

Notes and Modifications: Since everyone has knit a pair of these (and many people in this colorway), I’m not sure anyone needs my notes, but here they are!

I cast on for the small/medium size and knit following the instructions for the red and orange stripe with a size 1 needle. Then I switched to a size 0 needle and knit for yellow and green stripe. Then I decreased eight stitches by working one row without the k f/bs, allowing the decreases to be hidden within the pattern. When I got to the purple stripe, I switched back to a size 1 needle (to try and increase the ankle area a bit, even though it’s still tight), and then back to a zero once I had made the heel flap and started turning the heel.

When I got to the toe, I knit a round toe, making six evenly spaced decreases (k2tog) every other row, because I find that the regular toe suggested in the pattern often results in stretched out sides when worn. Just something new I am trying.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Socks, Uncategorized at September 7th, 2008.

The Cloisters shawl

Pattern: Japanese feather and fan shawl from Izzy’s Knitting. This stitch pattern is super-popular, and is also featured in the Baltic Sea Stole and Japanese Feather Stole.

Yarn: Most of two skeins of Fleece Artist Merino Sock, $24 each , from Knitty City, thanks to a gift from Sarah and her mom. Thanks Sarah and Sarah’s Mom! Their gift certificate has ended up being turned into two shawls, the Ella Shawl and this one.

Needles: Lace Addis, size 5

Project began/ended: Started April 28, finished July 11, or a little over two months.

The Cloisters shawl

Notes and Modifications: I was a little worried about how the variegated yarn was going to turn out, and probably, if I could turn back time, (to quote Cher), I would have picked a semi-solid. I even contemplated overdying the whole project, but once it was blocked out, I think it was fine. An interesting experiment–and it definitely turned out better than I had expected when it was on the needles.

The Cloisters shawl

I knit the pattern exactly as written. It’s pretty clear, though lacking in direction. If you haven’t figured it out, you knit as written on the chart to the end (from right to left), knit the middle stitch as indicated, then knit back from left to right for the other half of the stitches, reversing the directions of the decreases (replacing the SSK with K2TOG and vice versa). My edging didn’t really feather and fan, but no one else’s on Ravelry’s seemed to either.

Click through after the jump to see more photos.

Read More…

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, lace, Shawls, Uncategorized at July 15th, 2008.

Sprial sock, complete  

Pattern: Swirl Socks, by Sulafaye

Yarn: One skein of hand-painted merino fingerling (or maybe sport-weight?) wool from Traveling Rhinos, color: Northport, 440 yards. I bought this last year at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn [see the yarn in skein form here]. This year’s fair is coming up again in June, if you’re interested.

Needles: No. 2 Inox DPN, set of 4

Project began/ended: Started March 18, ended April 27, or a little over five weeks.

Notes and Modifications: First off, yarn review: This yarn has a ton of yardage. I had a lot left over, and the legs of the socks are pretty high. It’s also nice and warm and wooly, which I liked. (Koigu, which I used for my Berkeley socks, felt oddly crisp, and un-wool-like. However, Koigu feels great on the feet, so who knows?) The socks seem like they’re be nice for hanging around the house in the winter, or wearing when it gets cold. They’re hand-wash only, which is probably why they’re more wooly feeling than my other socks, and are nice and soft. The bad part about the yarn is that there were definitely spots where you could see that the dyer had tied the yarn in a skein for dying, and so there were white bits that showed up randomly throughout the skein.

As for the pattern, it’s great. It’s a nice way to break up hand-painted yarns, while remaining fairly simple. I also liked the sculptural quality of the raised stitches on a stockinette background. The pattern called for DK yarn and bigger needles, so I followed the instructions for the medium size, with smaller yarn and smaller needles. I think my socks are actually a little too stretched out, so maybe I should have followed the large size instead. Oh well. Also, for some reason, in my right-swirling sock, the traveling stitches that form the swirls were less plump than in the left-swirling sock, though I’m not sure why.

I used the crochet cast-on from Wendy Knits, and I used Cosmic Pluto’s short-row heel instead of the one suggested.


Since I had so much yarn, I made them taller than suggested, and it’s pretty easy to hide the increases under the swirls. I think my increases did end up pulling the fabric a little, as you can see in the top photo. Anyway, if you want to increase, here’s how I did it:

On the first, left-swirling sock: Instead of doing the left twist, as instructed by the pattern, slip the first two stitches on the LH needle off. Reverse them so that the second stitch is closer to the end of the needle, with the first stitch in front; knit in the front and back of this (original second) stitch. Slip purl-wise the next stitch (the original first stitch) onto RH needle. Continue on. (Basically slip one to the left as you’ve been doing, and kfb in the non-slipped stitch.) I increased two stitches per row (in the fatter space between the swirls) over six rows, and then knit plain for a few, and then increased at the same rate over another six rows, etc. I tried it on as a I went along, so it wasn’t super well-planned. I did write down at what rows I increased though, so I could try to match it on the other sock.

On the right-swirling sock, you will need to do a different type of increase, because the kfb gives you a raised bar on the left, which is hidden by the swirl on the first sock. So, on the second sock, what I did is slip the second stitch on the LH needle onto the right needle, and now, ALSO slip the original first stitch (in back of the second) onto the right needle. Now turn your work around, and purl into the front and back of that stitch (which is the closest one on the tip of your now-LH needle/your former RH needle), so that the bar is closest to the swirl. Turn your work back to its regular position, with the stockinette side out. You’ve essentially created a reverse kfb. Continue, bringing the yarn behind the slipped stitch. (This sounds more complicated than it is, and will make more sense if you just do it. I probably should have taken photos, but I didn’t.)

Increasing, particularly on the right-swirling sock, leads to some loose stitches and uneven tension. You will need to adjust the tension (or at least I did.) I learned this from Stitch and Bitch, and it’s is a pretty basic technique, I think, but in case you don’t know how to do it: Pull one arm of the loose stitch out until it is big and floppy. Try to figure out where the stitch connects to (in the case of the swirl, it may be the strip between the “v’s,” rather than the “v”-itself). Yank on the bar or the “v,” and continue along to distribute the tension through the adjoining “v’s,” so that the tension is less noticeably concentrated in one area.

One final non-knitting note. I am rather impressed by how New Yorkers ignore all weirdness around them. Pretty much everyone ignores me when I make Adam take photos of my socks around town–though at the Cherry Blossom Festival last week, one lady was heard to say, “Is that a sock in the tree?”–including when I am wearing my socks (and no shoes) in public places. Maybe they just think we’re odd sock feti*hists or something.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Socks, Uncategorized at April 27th, 2008.

This photo is a bit dark, since it was 7:30 p.m. when it was taken.

Pattern: My own, detailed below.

Yarn: 1 skein Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted, 75% wool, 25% alpaca, color: natural heather. $9 from Homespun, in Ithaca, NY.

Needles: 16″ bamboo Clovers, size 7

Gauge: 22 stitches per 4″, unstretched in pattern stitch

Project began/ended: I started this on February 16, and finished yesterday, March 31, while watching, of all things, an episode of Girlfriends about how knitting made you old. The funniest line was when Diana Ross’s daughter (in real life; not on the show), who is kind of the nerd of the group and is angry because she had been dragged out to a club to recapture her youth, says, “I would have been halfway through that headwrap if you had let me stay home and knit.”

How to make it:

1. Find some yarn. This yarn is 220 yards, and a quarter alpaca, so it has some drape and fuzz. If you want drape and no fuzz, go with something that has some silk or something slinky in it. Find a 16″ circular needle that goes with your yarn.

2. I don’t think gauge is very important in this project. Use a long-tail cast on to cast on some multiple of 4 stitches. I’m pretty sure I cast on 108 stitches. Cast on more or less based on your own experience with hats and gauge.

3. Join into a circle. Don’t twist. Though actually, I think this might have worked nicer as a moebius cowl, so if you want that, twist.

4. Place marker at beginning of round. (I actually found it helpful to place markers every 10 stitches until the pattern was established. If doing so, make sure the marker that identifies the beginning of the round is different than the others.)

5. Mistake rib:

Round 1: *K2, p2; repeat from *
Round 2: K1 *p2, k2; repeat from *, until you have 3 stitches left, then p2, k1.

By the way, I found it helpful to think of the pattern as a column of knits and a column of purls, each bordered with columns of alternating knits and purls. This is what gives the stitch such a raised and sunken surface, unlike regular ribbing.

6. Keep repeating these two rounds until you run out of yarn.

7. Bind off with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind-Off.

8. No need to block. Wear dramatically.

Download the pattern: The Ithacowl [pdf]

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, patterns, Scarves, Uncategorized at March 31st, 2008.