Every year on this day [posted a day later than planned -- January 24 is the official date] I leave a present on friend S's porch so she will be greeted by it when she leaves the house. This year, with nasty weather and the date falling on a Saturday, I didn't know how early that will be. So I tiptoed over right after midnight and left it well wrapped in plastic (we are having a Winter Weather Event -- involving every form of precipitation you can name, all of them cold and wet).
I decided last August to use up some of my random skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica making the Four Seasons Throw. I knit in individual blocks rather than strips because I wasn't sure what colors I'd ultimately use. If you have a chance to plan ahead, I'd definitely urge you to go with the strip technique!
By about block 3, I realized that S might really like this. She is a person who appreciates wool, so a good target. I finished all the knitting by November. And then, suddenly, on Tuesday of this week I realized I'd only sewn two blocks together and the birthday deadline was imminent. It's amazing how well I work with a deadline. . .
I won't be getting any points for originality when I mention that it's kind of cold today -- 12 degrees Fahrenheit at 9 this morning (Celsius folks, that is minus 11 for you). Which has finally made me put these things in a box and send them off to Maine, where they will be distributed at a shelter. I'm a little cold right now -- but I am inside my house, with more warm clothes to put on, and a way to make hot food and drinks, and I have never, not even once, had to live with the realization that I couldn't keep my kid warm. Except for the two hats, these things are toddler- and kid-sized, and they need to get on up there fast.
Of course, that doesn't mean the project was started in 2015 -- I'm not sure, but I think these have been hanging around since 2013. One strand Lamb's Pride worsted, one strand miscellaneous sock yarn. I couldn't decide whether I liked them or thought they were hideous. My sister liked them a lot, and I came around to agreeing with her -- so I finished them today while we had coffee and handed them right over. I love stealth presents. . .
Well, here we are, as has become customary, on the first day of the year. It's hard to believe that today is the fifth birthday of this very sporadic blog. And guess what? This year there is no plan. We aren't knitting to topic, we aren't knitting for a specific organization. . . we're just knitting. You can count on that. We hope that the absence of pressure will lead to more blog posts!! Of course, we'll continue to contribute to afghans for Afghans whenever there's a chance, and we'll do other stuff too -- it's just that none of it is Required this year.
In honor of the idea of beginning the year as you mean to go on, I have, indeed, cast on a new pair of socks. . . I hope you will join me.
We've had frost here the last two mornings, uncharacteristically early in the season. If it's that cold here, it seems unlikely that it's warmer 400 miles north of here, so these mittens set off in a box this afternoon:
All from stash yarn. The color is a little washed out -- the second from right is actually a rich rust, not pink at all. From left to right: red Bartlett yarn; Lorna's Laces DK millends (ca. 2001) held double; 3 pairs in a row of Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool, now a thing of the past (sigh); and 1 strand red and 1 strand blue held together of something from Knitpicks, also acquired a long time ago.
I had hoped to send twice as many pairs, but . . . so much more knitting than time! Winter is hardly over, and if I finish the pairs currently in progress, there will be another small box quite soon. The Maine Mitten Project does such good work.
I've just cast on a pair bigger than I usually make for some big guy who's having a rough year and never gets anything that fits.
Oh dear. We have not been very good about posting. And we have not been very good at following our schedule for the year, with each month holding a different "assignment" for the Maine Mitten Project. I did send off quite a bit to afghans for Afghans, though, and that's important too. We get one, maybe two, chances per year to get warm things to Afghanistan in time for that year's winter, so it has to be done then; I can get stuff to Maine in two days any time I choose to swing by the post office. (I love my post office.)
But here we are, September 1. And even though we had Philadelphia's finest (ugh) summer weather today -- no, that's not true; it was a mere 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) and only around 80% humidity, so it could have been far worse -- that means cold weather is coming to the North very soon! I am going to dismiss the rest of our carefully designed schedule and just try to knit a bunch more mittens, hats, and socks. I will send what I've finished on October 1, so they are there when they are needed, and then send whatever else I've managed to finish on November 1 and December 1 (or a week after if there's something that is SOOOOOOO close that it can be finished in a hurry).
And if Pat and I can manage to get in the same place at the same time, we will mail together -- otherwise, we will do a synchronized sendoff.
At one point, some years ago, every time I went into a yarn store I would buy a skein of Manos del Uruguay's Wool Clasica. Sorting through my vast holdings, I've discovered that I have quite a bit of it. . . I have sorted it into a couple of blankets and a sweater (and maybe a second sweater), but there are still some skeins that don't go anywhere in particular. I looked for a hat pattern that would take just one skein, and found one that works -- I knit it up today to make sure there was enough yarn.
I knit 7 inches, not 6, before the crown shaping, and still had quite a bit left over. Next time I may knit some extra inches to make a fold-up brim, although I do like the way this pattern has you work the first two inches with a smaller needle, providing some subtle shaping.
This hasn't been washed or blocked (although it is a lumpy bumpy yarn so will probably look much the same), and it definitely looks better on a person than laid flat. It's a fine project for a car ride or an outdoor concert or when instant gratification is needed.
Today was the deadline for submissions to afghans for Afghans, so we are done with that diversion and can turn our attention once more to the Maine Mitten Project. I just cast on using two strands of Lorna's Laces millends sport weight that I must have bought 10 years ago:
Yes, my production is falling way off schedule. In June we were supposed to knit adult mittens for the Maine mitten project, and in July the target was teens.
As always, I have an excuse. . . afghans for Afghans currently has two projects going. One is the June Baby Shower--just one month to collect tiny socks and hats (wool) for children aged birth to one year. And there's another to gather hats, socks, and mittens to fit sizes for age 7 years on up to adult. The due date for those is currently listed as July 3.
We can get things to Afghanistan two or three times a year (if we're lucky). I can get things to Maine in two days, all year round. So Maine -- I will be back! And I'll knit double for you starting right after the A4A deadline. (And it still won't be cold, so I don't feel too neglectful.) Meanwhile, I need to take advantage of the chance to get things halfway around the world to another place where they are badly needed, and they'll get there before winter.
I have to admit when I read your April post I was stunned. I, too, had only one mitten with no thumb knit in the entire month of April. What was I doing, what was I thinking and you my knitting hero, say it ain't so! I was so surprised to be in the same boat as you.
I promised myself I would get teenager mittens done in May but instead I cast on a sweater for me and a hat for my daughter. I'm hoping that June finds me knitting for folks less fortunate. I am a bad knitting buddy!
April's "assignment" was to knit mittens for small kids. I knit one (it still needs the thumb) and the cuff of the second. That's it. There was an 1160.1 (but who's counting?) road trip to North Carolina, and a day in New York, and a whole bunch of cold days and a birthday and. . . a bunch of stuff. But that mitten and a half didn't make much of a dent in the 200-g ball of yarn I'd hoped to use up. . .
May is mittens for teens. Guess theirs will be variegated blue wool as well!
I interpreted the 3 colors, 3 things requirement a different way (the intention was to leave it WAY open to interpretation). I used all 3 colors in all 3 things and had a lot of fun with it:
The two pairs on the left will fit a large woman; the pair on the right (with the skinny stripes at the top) will fit a very large man's hand. Big guys get down on their luck too, and it's probably not that often that they find something big enough.
Even in Maine, cold weather will soon be coming to an end. So these will go in the box and I'll mail them out in October so they are ready when the need first arises.
Pictures of February's red mittens soon to come. The knitting is done, but the photographer is behind schedule.
March is coming to a close. I love the phrase "in like a lion, out like a lamb" but this month we've gotten all lion with no lamb. It's pouring down rain today and the best the weatherman could say is that it's not snow! Enough said about the weather.
I knit three hats all in worsted weight wool. Three different colors and two different styles, two regular roll brim (keep those ears warm hats) and one beanie because my kids tell me "everyone" wants a beanie. I love knitting hats as they are small, portable projects just big enough to keep you going for a short while very mindlessly. In the winter here, in NYC and in Maine you need a hat to keep you warm. Don't ask for the pattern as they are just plain knitting without instructions. Size 7 needles, cast on 80-some stitches and knit till it's deep enough... cast-off by dividing the stitches by a number and knitting two together till you have the top of a hat.
Thanks again to Glass Head for modeling so patiently!
With as much snow as we've had here in Southeastern Pa this past month, I've been trapped in the house surprisingly often. This has forced me to read a great many books as well as watch some interesting Netflix shows, play with my camera and knit. So far this week alone I've knit three pairs of mittens. I showed a pair yesterday for Valentines Day but hadn't done the thumbs on the other two pairs. Thumbs tend to be so fiddly that I put them off and then what happens but you've got a bunch of that kind of work to do all piling up. Argh... the life of a snowbound knitter!
As we settled in last night to watch the first episode of the second season of House of Cards I forced myself to knit those thumbs. I whipped out three thumbs in an hour, a thumb every 20 minutes seems reasonable but is actually sort of slow as it's just not much knit fabric. With picking up, knitting-in-the-round on a very few stitches and then the decreases and finishing in the threads, it just takes awhile. On top of all that I had to wait to complete thumb four as we watched a foreign film (Haute Cuisine). I couldn't fiddly about with a thumb while reading the subtitles. I guess I'm a good knitter just not a great knitter.
These mittens were knit using Elizabeth's Pattern, size 7 needles and Andes 100% wool yarn. We are planning on sending these mittens to the Maine Mitten Project unless something more urgent arises. These photos are pre-wash and blocking. Knitting buddies, stop giving me the Edvard Munch Scream look, I know, I'll go do it now!
I had yarn left over from the silly hats I made for Christmas presents. I decided to use it up by making more stripey hats to give away:
I had very little left of any of the colors when I finished -- in fact, I had to rip out the green and purple hat several times before I engineered the stripes in such a way that they'd reach all the way to the end.
The yarn was thinner than I'd like -- the hats are bound for Maine so I wanted them to be very warm -- so I held the yarn double. With a cast-on of 72 stitches the knitting went quickly. But this is what confronted me after that!
It felt like weaving in the ends took as long as the actual knitting.
Whenever I try to carry the yarn up when I am making stripes, it looks
bad and feels lumpy, so this is what I had to do. (Yes, there was one more hat -- the Mission Falls colors seen upper left -- but (1) it refused to give me a decent photograph and (2) it's been claimed by a member of this household.)
January 24 is friend S's birthday. I have developed the habit of leaving a little something on her front porch to greet her when she comes out in the morning of that special day. This year, it was this:
I had a skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock in all her favorite colors, and I'd been wanting to try this pattern. The perfect oppportunity.
wish now I'd used a needle one size bigger -- but then I would have run
out of yarn.
Here is a better view of the pattern, stretched out for blocking:
It was a lot of fun, and I am going to make it again, in a thinner yarn, so the lace shows to better advantage.
This Christmas I finally did something I've wanted to do for at least 6 or 7 years -- I made these silly hats for (reading left to right) my sister-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, and sister. (You will recognize them, perhaps, from our Christmas card here on the blog). I got all four to sit on the couch and open them simultaneously. But then, as is customary in our family celebrations, things got silly and wild and I forgot to get them to model for me!! Here, at least, are the hats being well behaved:
I had to wash two of them before I even wove in the ends, because time got away from me. I was making tassels 2 hours before we left for the family gathering. But it wasn't really my fault. . .
I had yarn for my brother's from the very first time I planned this project. The brown and tan looked great side by side in the ball, but in stripes they were mournful and depressed. I tried adding colors, I tried taking out one and adding in another. . . nothing worked. They have been reassigned and are going to be mittens instead. Then I found that lovely dark red Mission Falls 1824. Perfect for him! Except -- several years ago I gave away what I thought was all of my Mission Falls 1824, and had none to make stripes. And none of the knitters I thought might have some of a color that would work have any either. The yarn was discontinued several years ago, so just going on line to order wasn't going to work. I did dig up one skein of gold, but that wasn't going to be enough. That one was supposed to be the third hat; I set it aside and proceeded to #4. As I worked on that, I decided I'd just have to order some new yarn, because it had to be superwash (for reasons of hat survival once released to its rightful owner) and I don't have much superwash that isn't sock yarn. I ordered four colors of Cascade 220 Aran Superwash, knowing how monitors lie, and hoping I would be able to work something out. Great news! The yarn was a match in weight and texture for the 1824, so I just added in that dark navy. Whew!! This project had not been intended to be a cliffhanger.
They were received with great delight, and I know that at least two of the four wear theirs all the time. (Still wish I'd got that picture. . .)
(The pattern is Yankee Knitter #26, Hats and Mittens.)
Um. Apparently it is not the first week of January. But plenty of time to reform! Starting in February the category will be announced right away (and Pat already knew, so she has not been waiting impatiently off stage).
The January category is adult mittens. I, of course, am just weaving in the ends on five hats. . . more on those when they are done.
I spent New Years Day in Germany sight seeing with my husband, Chuck and my Mom and Dad. We did a Viking River Tour of the Main River and Canal as well as a 3-day extension to Koln. We checked out the "after" Christmas Markets (also called Winter Wonderlands) as well as seeing the standard sites; castles, city walls, terribly old breweries, palaces, gardens and old towns. I came to take photos and check out every yarn store I could find which worked out very well, knitting is popular in Germany!
I had both Dad and Chuck as escorts for each knit shop adventure. They were patient and didn't hurry me. I stopped and petted each skein of yarn in every store and as you know that takes awhile. We even went to a department store to check out the yarn selection, we had to go to the very top of the store, four stories up and then to the way back corner... it was fun.
Lots of young folks in Germany are wearing crochet beanies. These are made from thick, brightly colored, wool/acrylic blend yarns. Many of them have pom-poms on the top and some sort of tag on the edge. Each pom-pom was different and unusual. The tags can be bought in wool shops (yarn stores).
I fell in love with the "bunny tail" poms and bought one first chance I got. When I got back to the ship I pulled out my travel sewing kit and put it right on the hat I'd brought to wear. I choose a bright green pom with black tips, when the wind blows it flows around, dancing on my head.
My mother liked mine so well we went to Maschenkunst in Koln and picked her up a bunny tail in a very natural colorway...
Well as you already know Elizabeth and I are going to continue knitting for others as well as knitting for ourselves. Have a Happy New Year!
And it's time for happy birthday to the blog. We always post on January 1 not because it's a New Year's resolution, but because the first post ever on Two Left Feet was on January 1, 2010. Lots of knitting under the bridge. . .
They say you should start the year as you mean to go on (who are "they," anyway?). So far today I have done some knitting, started reading a new book, drunk coffee, fixed little things here and there to make the house nicer. . . and pretty soon I will eat some chocolate and then, later, make a pot of soup. That looks like a fine template for the year!!
As usual, we're setting a theme for the blog. We were successful with last year's hat project and we're continuing in a similar vein for 2014. This year we will be knitting, every month, for The Maine Mitten Project, who are doing their best to keep homeless kids and adults in Maine at least a little bit warmer. I lived there for 13 years; you don't want to be without hat and mittens during the cold months.
Each month we'll have a category, to be announced on the first day of that month. (Pat and I, of course, will already know it.) The Maine Mitten Project doesn't just need mittens, although those are crucial, of course, so there will also be hats and maybe a scarf or two. We have a tentative schedule for the year worked out, but we're not posting it now to leave us some room to roll with whatever punches 2014 throws. I think we will mail January's and February's items right away; we'll accumulate March through October and send them all together in preparation for the winter that will be starting just about then.
I am going to try to do every one of the 12 "assignments," but we're officially allowing ourselves two free passes during the year, if the need arises. And of course, we will continue to knit for A4A, as always.
I have a lot of yarn. I like to make mittens. The combination works.
Here's what you can do with those sock yarn leftovers, or the single 50-g skein you found in the sale bin (or, mysteriously, unaccompanied in your house). By joining a strand of sock yarn with a strand of worsted, you get a slightly thicker yarn, slightly thicker mitten, and slightly faster knit -- and a mitten that is much more interesting.
My favorites so far are the bright blue with rainbow flecks over there on the right.
I am using my basic mitten pattern, available here. I follow the one that starts with a cast-on of 32 stitches and get a size that fits a medium-to-large large woman's hand. Use one needle size larger than you'd use if you were knitting with the worsted alone.
If you refer back to this post, you'll see that we made two promises at the beginning of 2013. We didn't do too well on "post more often." But we did complete the "13 in '13" promise, making a baker's dozen of hats apiece for Hats for the Homeless in New York, and that one's way more important. And we finished early, which really amazed us! All hats were made from yarn we already had in our extensive collections.
Ten days ago, we got together midway between our houses for a photo shoot and packing session. Each of us brought our 13 hats and gift tags. Pat brought the camera; I brought boxes and tape and Sharpies. Here's what happened:
After our very patient models put up with our photo session, where we laid them down on all sorts of cold surfaces, we repaired to a friendly local Starbucks to add tags and box them up (the tape dispenser was L-O-U-D -- sorry, everybody). It turns out there's a post office just a block away, so the boxes hit the road immediately.
Now Hats for the Homeless in New York has 26 more hats for their annual gift giving (in addition to the gifts of meals they give year round), the weekend before Christmas. They don't take monetary contributions, but there's still time to knit or crochet a hat -- the address is:
Hats for the Homeless
905 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601