Thursday, October 15, 2020

New Sock Season

Hey, Pat --  Today is October 15 -- the date when one is permitted to start wearing new wool socks. (Because I said so.) And, as I'd hoped, I did finish 6 orphan pairs over the course of the summer. Of course, I'd have greatly preferred to enjoy all the distractions full of people that would have kept me from doing so much knitting, but I am trying to celebrate this small achievement. (Not to worry! There are more to finish.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Those Mittens

Hi, Pat --  

You know how I get charmed by a pattern and make it over and over. Just like David Byrne says, “I don’t know why I love it like I do. . .”

I made the first pair of Aline mittens in August 2019. (Pronounce that like the woman’s name, not like an A-line skirt.) I think I’ve made nine pairs now, although I kept forgetting to take pictures, so I am not sure; it could be eight or ten. They look weird and misshapen in the photo, but the combination of ribbing and cable on the top makes them pull in to fit all kinds of hands, and you eliminate that floppy mitten feeling that can happen if you guess wrong re size. They feel wonderful when you put them on.

The pattern is free from Garnstudio, available at

The layout they use for their patterns  is notoriously difficult to use, because everything is condensed and run together to save space. The first thing I do when I plan to use one of their patterns is copy it to a Word document on my computer. Then I:

  • type the URL at the bottom of that file
  • delete extraneous photos and advertising (which usually eliminates several pages)
  • Change the font to a 12-point typeface that I like

Now I can get to work making the pattern work for me. This makes the knitting so much easier – and as a side benefit, lets me do a careful preview of the pattern.

I reformat so it looks like the patterns we are used to using, which means I usually put almost every sentence on a line of its own. I change the way they write the numbers of stitches and measurements for several sizes at once to a format that works for me. Then I’ve eliminated all distractions and can just get knitting.

I think it’s time to cast on another pair. . .one or two more and I probably won’t even need the pattern anymore!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

First Sock Syndrome


Everyone’s heard of second sock syndrome – suffered by many who are emotionally finished after knitting just one sock of a pair. But there is an unusual variant – first sock syndrome. So many times I s-l-o-g through the initial ribbing, inch along on the leg, make it around the heel turn, and then take a long time to get to the toe. 

But something exciting happens as soon as I cast on sock #2. At that moment, the project is more than 50% completed. Even the pesky ribbing at the beginning of this sock flies by, the leg is a joy, the heel turn provides an element of mounting excitement, and the foot is the exciting sprint to the finish line (aka the toe).

Case in point: the first sock in this pair was completed about a year after it was cast on. The sock on the needles went from the point you see to finished in just two days. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Sock Discipline


For the last several years, my summer tradition has been to pick up socks that have been flung aside, unfinished, during the course of the preceding fall/winter/spring. A new, enticing yarn crying out to be cast on, or somebody’s birthday that calls for handmade socks, or the sudden unanticipated need to knit a Lopi sweater lures me away, and my own socks sink into the background.

Every year I hope to have six new pairs ready to join the rotation. Every year, I end up with four. Two important birthdays, one in August and one in October, tend to derail me.

Wool Sock Season opens October 15 (because I said so). In extreme emergencies, including early frost or folk festivals in the rain – in years when those are an option—wool socks may be worn before that date, but never the new ones.

This year, with more stay-home time and a need to impose some external order to keep from drifting aimlessly 24/7, I’ve decided I have to work for at least 30 minutes, every day, on one of those discarded pairs of socks. 

The rules are:

  • The pair to be featured must be already in progress. It is not permitted to cast on a new pair for this purpose, no matter how seductive the yarn. (Of course I still cast on new pairs – but they don’t qualify for the 30-minute program.)
  •  Once the pair to be completed has been chosen, there is to be no diverging from this path of righteousness. . . that pair, and that pair alone, is the subject of each day’s 30-minute session.
  •  No dabbling in two or three pairs at a time will be tolerated.

For three or four days, it’s a chore. Then, after about four days, real progress is easy to see and the scent of the finish line makes me go faster and faster. . .

Monday, August 17, 2020

And -- we're back!

 Pat and I were talking, and we decided this would be a fine time to drag this dusty old thing out and play with it some more. I can't believe it's been two years since we just stopped, unplanned and unintended.

We still knit! A lot! We even still knit socks (also a lot). Pat is still a WAY better photographer, but at least I now have a phone with a better camera.

My own plan is to post on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, because I find deadlines helpful. Pat is still deciding on her approach.

See you next week!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Baby Eggplant

I've had my eye on this pattern for years. Yesterday the right yarns sat side by side, and this happened:

Pattern: Baby Eggplant. It may be too small for my friend's tiny daughter, but it's been fun so far.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018


They say you should start the New Year as you mean to go on. So I am drinking coffee and knitting. 

I hope 2018 brings you what you want and need. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Three things on Friday

Because Thursday was a busy day and I forgot.

1. Solstice Hat 
These two yarns ended up next to each other in a box and this design happened:

2. Big Blue Secret Project
Currently looks well on track to be finished. Note to self: next time you say "I never knit for Christmas" -- listen!

3. Music
I am singing in Handel's Messiah tomorrow and Sunday night. Last year was the first time I sang with this choir (or any choir since freshman year in college, in another century . . .). It has become a big part of my life, and I am so glad I got brave and walked through that door. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Three things on Thursday: me too

Dear Pat,

I love being able to stop the list after just 3 things!
(1) Weave in the ends -- 2 ends, and it's been waiting for a month -- on the red alpaca cowl and block it. 
(2) Gather everything I need for Knitters' Day Out and put it all in one tote. 
(3) Finish one pair of thick woolly New England-y socks for the giveaway box. 

I can do this!

Three Things on Thursday

Dear Elizabeth,

We both knew we could excel at doing three things!  You did excel, didn't you?  I'm jazzed.  I ran, I photographed my lists and I finished a seaman's hat.  I've been sticking my old lists in a box for 10 years.  It was fun to look at all the stuff that's piled up in the box.  I've chosen a random selection of list to travel around with me, prepared for any photo op.  Anyone know where I can find a puddle?

I didn't turn around and start another hat, I'm going to finish something else first, I'm on a roll.  I'm going to dive into my basket of half-knit projects and finish another something (insert jazz hands here).  After I clear out that basket and finish up my fall sweater, I'll start new things.

OK, so my three things for the next week - 9-21-2017:
  • Wash, block, photograph the stack of finished knitting items that are cluttering up the laundry room shelf.  I don't want to push too hard but it would be nice to post the pics on Ravelry... we shall see!
  • Try the time lapse setting on my camera.  Let me say here, that I had taken notes on how to do the time lapse but they were on the back of my latest list and somehow that list is now MIA.  It could be in with all it's list-y friends or it could be under something on my work table.  Who knows, where will this story end, will there be happiness?
  • Do at least four pages in my class sketch book - I'm WAY behind in sketching.

Thanks for the inspiration.  What a great week.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three Things on Thursday....

OK, I've been busy and busier this summer and stuff has slipped through the cracks.  I'm going to do this list thing, I'm a list maker from WAY back!
My three things for the next week - 9-14-2017:

  • Photograph my box of old used up lists - don't just take the darn pictures but process them and put them out on the web where everyone can see my infinite craziness.
  • Run - fours days this week not just three.  And don't do it in mindless cruise mode but really hit the pavement hard.  No, "I'm over 60" excuse!
  • Put down the iPad and pick up the Knitting.  Finish one thing in the next seven days.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Three things on Thursday

(Yeah, I know it's Friday. I forgot to hit Publish.)

I saw this idea on She Shoots Sheep Shots and it resonates with me.

My three things:

1. Find the  yarn for the fingerless mitts I need to finish.
2. Work 30 minutes on secret project code-named Big Blue.
3. Find a new recipe to try.

Pat, want to play?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Independent study

The committee has met and has determined that July and August are to be devoted to independent study. Watch this space. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A tiny, tiny Band-Aid

I know; they don't look like Band-Aids.

These mittens are waving good-bye as they head out to Syrian refugees in camps somewhere in Europe. It won't fix the big, horrible problems -- but five people will have warm hands.

I used Peace Fleece because I love the colors, I know it's warm, I know it's tough, and I like the message.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

time and a half

Pat is drawing a blank on a topic for June. And we always seem to be needing just a leeeeetle bit more time. So -- I propose the following June/July project:

socks for yourself.


Pat, we can either do our plain old autopilot socks -- me top down, you toe up -- or we can kick it up a notch by adding a variable. Maybe a color you never wear (until now), maybe a sparkly new yarn, maybe a technique you've never tried, maybe a pattern that requires a little more attention. . .

We have 52 days. We've got this!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sorry I'm Late!

Dear Elizabeth,
I had a wonderful time on the Outer Banks, not a lot of knitting time with 23 friends and family around!  I did cast-on a Churchmouse Thinking Cap which is all knit, all the time!

I've knit to the welt, which is 7" of mindless around and around knitting on lace weight yarn.  As it's on somewhere north of 150 stitches, this hat has almost as many stitches as a full-size sweater.  I'm knitting this hat for Chuck, my favorite sailor.  He lost his knit watch cap this spring and I know he will love this one and it will keep him warm, even if he falls in cold water.

Please note that I used a CCTV lens on my good camera for these shots.  Yes, I took a very expensive camera and put a "toy" lens on it and dumbed it down but I just love the random effects you get when you use crazy stuff!  And I love the feeling of old-time photography, figuring out the exposure, hold the camera steady and really thinking about a picture.

I have to admit, I have no idea what our June challenge should be... I'm hopeless!  How about getting together this month, that's challenging enough for the two of us.
Love, Pat

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

No Purls Progress Report

I got this far on the no-purling project:

That green stripe was a bit of a surprise -- Mr. Noro has an impish color sense.

In my defense, your honor, I also knit 4 1/2 pairs of mittens and 2/3 of a sweater during May. Apparently it was a month for fractions. . .

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day, May Day

Pat is going to the beach for two weeks and wants an easy category. Why is it that I am not going to the beach for two weeks? Hrumph!! But because I still have a little bit of niceness in me, here goes . . . The guideline is: no purling.

There are lots of ways to accomplish this. I am going to knit yet another Super Simple Cowl, intended for somebody's Christmas present.  I am madly in love with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn and have a number of onesies hanging around, so each one is different and it stays interesting. Here is the first one I made, finished a few weeks ago:


The second one is almost done (I thought it was going to be a present, but now it is mine), and the third one will be this month's project. I read the comments people posted with their Ravelry entries and made a few changes based on those; I will sum up next time.

Pat, I can't wait to hear if it's going to be garter stitch, or circular, or slip stitches. . .

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The last of April

Dear Elizabeth,

Is the month really over; are we headed into summer? I've seen a hummingbird and a scarlet tanager in the trees.  I've been to a yard sale and have been out running (slowly) on my favorite trail for a grand total of 40 miles this month.  All signs that say summer is near!  I do love summer time.

I'd forgotten how fun cables are to knit.  I loved this project challenge (what are we calling this year).  I started with two old, off-white skeins of Filatura di Crosa 501 (137 yds in 50 gr.), size six needles and the Adrian hat pattern.  Using well-aged yarn is so satisfying especially "attic cured" natural fibers.  I changed the pattern to one large cable instead of two, I didn't want to hat to be terribly long with this yarn as it wasn't going to slouch in that pleasing way that the sockhead hat does.  I don't think anyone wants a hat sticking up off their head, cone-head style.  I'm pleased with this as a beanie.  I think Glass Head looks terrific modeling it!

I love that the designer didn't use cables in the traditional Paton's in the 70's sort of way but instead scattered a few around the hat.  Balancing the large cable with a smaller one.  Really fun to knit even though you have to follow the pattern row by row.  Not, as we both know, my forte.

So what are we doing in May?  It's your turn, right??  Don't use up all the good challenges.  I'll be beaching it with college buds for two weeks in May so let's do something easy... just sayin' I might not get that much knitting done ;-}

P.S. I only have one more project to rip out and skein... and that's it, only things I'm actively knitting on in my project basket.

Friday, April 21, 2017

spring colors

What was I thinking when I decided it would be a good idea to blog with a friend who is a master photographer? and me with my phone camera. . .

Pat, how I loved that last post. I remember when you started that Barn Raising project. It has been a while! And I have to get one of those twig balls. I have been entertaining myself by hanging bits of yarn on the Rose of Sharon tree in my front garden, just by the porch. I hang up 15 or 20 strands, then sit back and watch the birds (sparrows, mostly, but I still hope for something more exotic) snap them up. At least one has learned to grab three pieces at once -- watching her (him? I make the sexist assumption that this very competent bird is a she) fold them up tightly so that no edges are flapping reminds me of someone who is truly adept at eating spaghetti.

Here is what I have been doing lately. I have 3 or 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock. This pattern is perfect. You knit it flat, as a scarf, and then sew together to make a cowl. It takes just one ball. I read through the notes on Ravelry before I started, and someone suggested starting with the first complete triangle, not the half-triangle that squares off the end of the scarf. So when you end, you seam the triangles together and if you do it right there's no sign of beginning or end. This one is done now (in the Christmas present box!) and I've started another. This time I used a provisional cast-on and will graft beginning and end together to make it even less visible where the ends are joined. Perfect mindless knitting in yarn that makes you look smart!

Oh, right. It has nothing whatsoever to do with this month's assignment. . .

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bird's Nests!!

I just had to write.  I hung the ivy ball less than an hour before I took these photos.  I had all the yarn tucked in.  Look  at the way the birds pulled the yarn out of the ball.  I think there will be yarn in lots of birds nests around the yard.  Exciting!!

P.S. I'm trying to get a photo of the bird on the ball!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

April and feeling foolish

Dear Elizabeth,
© Armenuhi Khachatryan
I didn't get any cable knitting done last month and look I'm posting this note a week late, what is wrong with us?  Is it the warmth of spring, have we set down our knitting needles to go outside?  I did spend a lovely week in the Florida Keys and it really was nice a warm there.  Let's not hang our heads, let's look forward to what comes next!

Our challenge for this month has to be finish cabling something from last month!  I've chosen to knit the Adrian hat.  (I grabbed this photo off Ravelry)

While doing our March assignment, I want you to ponder and answer this question.  What else do you do with your yarn, other than knitting it into amazing things?  I've been saving all my wool yarn-ends and stuffing them in a vine ball.  I'm going to hang it outside this weekend so the birds can line their nests with soft, all-natural fibers.  Supposedly, I will be able to go look around the yard and see my yarn in birds nests.  I will report back by the end of the summer if this works out... or not!

 I'm carrying knitted squares for a barn raising quilt with me when I travel.  They are small and mindless, perfect for travel.  Do you recognize any of the blocks?  Yes, I'm using your left-over sock yarn as well as mine.  I need 9 more to make this project a baby blanket or LOTS more to make this a full size, adult throw.  I've blocked some of the squares, they still curl like mad so I decided not to waste that time.  I'm thinking I should start sewing some of them together.  I think about sewing them together and then I just walk away knowing it will be difficult and a lot of work... this may call for a knitting intervention.  I'll call if things look dire, I know I have enough wine for us...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

With hanging head

I confess. I did not finish the March challenge. The yarn for the pattern I really wanted to tackle arrived March 28 so not a chance. The bulky hat I cast on (yup, I can predict the future) is not yet done. Sigh. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Elizabeth's color block

Hey, Pat -- looks like you had fun!

I did finish on time, as you know (everybody, I sent Pat a photo of these guys in their bath on Tuesday night). And I have been struggling ever since to get the colors to photograph right -- one of these days I will break down and learn to use a camera! The green should be a little more acidic; the other colors are close enough.

I chose these colors because I found them together in a bag -- clearly at some point I had meant to use them together, and that was good enough for me.

March assignment: cables! One or more. I have my eye on a very complex mitten pattern, which means I'll likely be knitting a bulky hat on the last day when I realize that there is no way they're going to get done by the deadline. I guess I had cables on the brain because I am signed up to take a class with Norah Gaughan, the queen of cabling, this month.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


I worked all month long to complete 3 pairs of fingerless mittens done in four colors, 2 large areas of color, along with somewhat contrasting colored cast-ons.  I'm pleased with the resulting mitts, they fit a number of random hands very well, the colors are fun and unusual and they really do keep you warm.  I used Mason-Dixon's Squad Mitts for my color inspiration and your excellent Mitten Pattern for my mitten design basis.  I used sport weight yarn and size 3 needles (to get a tight fabric).  I have a cryptic pattern, literally written on the back of an old envelope!

Dear friends of mine co-operated in being my hand models and there were several great ideas for photographing the mitts.  I do think the card game is fun, however; I suspect there was something wrong with this deal... 

But hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil is my all-time favorite!

I gave a pair of the mitts to a girl friend who sits by a window at work and is cold in the winter.  I got this picture this morning.  Nice to see our hand-knits hard at work.

Photo by B.Roth

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

First crocus

The tradition continues.

day 1
day 2

I still haven't made those yellow socks. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

my pointy hat

It's so much fun to see how two knitters can interpret the same words. I knew right away that I was going to make Elizabeth Zimmermann's Ganomy Hat from her Knitter's Almanac (the very first knitting book I ever bought -- the hardcover was on the remainder table for $2.98 and it took me a month to decide I could afford it after my 25% employee discount). I last made this hat 23 years ago, scaled down to infant size, when my now very healthy nephew needed surgery on his skull. . . the request was for a hat that would stay on but not squash.

Um -- this is not my nephew. But this guy is the only model I could find today.

Please note in the photos below -- point at the top (left photo) and points at the bottom (center photo).

Strangely, many people on Ravelry have reengineered this hat to give it a rounded top -- I think all of the points echoing the other points are this hat's best feature!

Unless, of course, the best feature is the red pompom. Elizabeth Zimmermann recommends knitting the last 14 stitches for 6 rows, then inserting a pingpong ball (or "a rabble of wool ends") and tying the hat below that to make a perfect round bobble. I went the more traditional route.

Bruno's profile is a bit short on detail, but oh, what a hat!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stopover Pullover

I got up this morning and did a sunrise shoot with a dear photobuddy.  We had a great time and Mary took a moment to photograph my finished Stopover sweater.

February is such a blah month.  I think we should knit blocks of colors... does that leave the field wide open?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Birthday mittens

The pointy hat is happening behind the scenes and will soon be unveiled. Meanwhile, as has become my custom, these mittens were delivered under cover of darkness for my neighbor on her birthday:

I had two balls of alpaca yarn, neither one big enough to become something on its own. I held the strands together for soft, warm, airy hand coverings. Now I wish I had more!