Thursday, December 22, 2011

winter solstice

It is winter now, even though last night at 10 p.m. it was an unseasonable 63 degrees (Celsius friends, that is 17.2). It is too late to knit for Christmas (which is almost a relief) but time to plan for the knitting that will commence on December 26. As usual, I would have to be 3 octopuses (octopi?) to accomplish all I think I can. . .

Meanwhile, here's something to celebrate the beginning of longer days:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baker's Dozen

Our long-time readers will remember that last December, Pat and I sent a bunch of hats to Hats for the Homeless, a group that distributes hats to homeless people in New York. At the beginning of 2011, I decided I'd knit a hat a month (hats don't take long) from yarn already on hand, so that I'd have a pile of them by the end of the year. And it worked! Today I mailed off 13 hats:

Obviously, I will do this again next year. I will make just one change -- I will mail them a week earlier!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

could it be the year of the sweater?

I can't remember the last time I made a sweater. Sad words from a knitter! Why am I wearing all of these Polarfleece sweatshirts? This one is on the way to afghans for Afghans. It should fit a kid about 11 or 12 years old. I added length to the body and the sleeves, and added 4 stitches when I cast on for sleeves because Ravelry reports indicated that they were kind of skinny. It's all stash yarn, and has been in progress, or in time out, for at least two years. I think. The brown yarn was from two different dyelots, but I can't tell the difference.

brown Alafoss Lopi; red and gold Lamb's Pride Bulky. Pattern is Child's Fairisle by Design by Louise
It's so much fun to zip along at 3.5 stitches per inch (14/10 cm)! I love Lopi yarn. I'm already nearly finished another sweater, soon to appear on this page. That one is knit in the round, top down, so I won't have to beat myself up trying to achieve perfection in seaming.

(Someone was worried that this picture was taken on a grubby bathroom floor -- no, no, it's a charmingly rusticated painted porch.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Joplin Blanket: A Saga

Remember this?

Pat and I both like to try to use our knitting to help people out. We can't respond to every disaster -- we'd be curled up quivering in the corner if we even tried. But every once in a while one comes along that makes us feel the urge to do something. The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, last spring was one of those. It's just one of many in a year of terrible events, but this one hit a nerve, and we decided we had to respond. We recruited some friends, and here's what happened:

My sister was downstashing, and had plenty of Encore (machine washable and dryable was on our list of requirements for this one) from an early fling; she gave us 2 balls each of 6 colors. I added the darker of the two blues from my extensive holdings. I drew up instructions and a diagram, so that each of the five of us (thank you, Ann, Debbie, and Ruth) could see at a glance the color order for our individual strips and where each one fell in the greater scheme. I knit a test square and weighed it. According to that, we should have been able to get 3 blocks from 2 skeins. I set to work weighing out 65 grams of each color for each knitter. Of course, I'm the only one of the group who doesn't live within about a 5-mile radius, so I plunked these lovely packages into the mail. But -- apparently my scale decided it had had enough of being meticulous and fussy.  It wanted to be artistic! It lied. Many of us ran out of colors, or weighed them at home and found out the grams were off by a huge factor. . . extra yarn was purchased (some colors were conveniently in my stash, so extra investment was not too bad) and mailed or swapped around.

It was important to get similar row gauge, so the strips would match, so I went with what the ball band recommends, knowing that my own row gauge tends to be eccentric and assuming the recommended number would be easily obtainable. All of us (all experienced knitters who think we know what we're doing) struggled with that. We started knitting in July; I received the last strip back on October 28 and then sewed many, many miles of seams. (OK, OK, it was only 252 inches. It took awhile. But I felt quite experienced by the end.)

This blanket just looks happy to me. As soon as I get the address, it will be on the way to help someone through a very strange and difficult year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

knitting for Vermont

On, August 28, Hurricane Irene -- no longer a hurricane, but still terribly destructive -- caused massive flooding in Vermont and upstate New York. Thirteen towns in Vermont were totally cut off when all access roads were washed out, and many, many families lost everything they owned. It is cold in Vermont in the winter, and cold starts early. This week, I sent them these:

On the left, 4 pairs of socks (Peace Fleece, Baghdad blue) and a pair of mittens (Araucania Panguipulli) from my sister. On the right (bigger picture below, because I cut off the righthand side, but it's the same things), 1 pair of socks, 3 hats, and 4 pairs of mittens from me, all from yarn I already owned. The brown hat is Morehouse Merino (exquisitely soft); the purple hat and the green hat are Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride bulky. The socks and all of the mittens were made using Bartlett's Maine wool:

I am glad to know a few people will be a little bit warmer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Red Scarf Season

I was surprised -- and relieved -- to realize that I hadn't done as badly as I thought in keeping to the schedule we set out at the beginning of the year. Detailed report to come. But I have been busy knitting the first of this season's red scarves:

Pat and I have knit for the Red Scarf program for years, even before it became wildly popular. This year, while looking for something else, I stumbled across red yarn I'd bought last year, so here it is. Webs' own Valley Yarns Superwash. Very nice yarn -- but must stay strong and knit what is here already!! I am using a simple stitch, which must have a name, but I don't know it. Cast on a multiple of 3 stitches (for this scarf, I cast on 30). Then work every row the same: *k2, p1* all the way across. It's totally reversible, and you never have to stop to figure out what row you're on. And it's suitable for men or women, and it will make someone happy and warm this winter.

I know you'll be seeing Pat's very soon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

we are still here!!

Pictures and posts soon, promise. You will see what happened with that rainbow of yarn, and what happened with our schedule for the year -- yes, the absence of monthly updates tells the truth, and it did indeed take a tumble, but we continue knitting for others . . .

Today in Pennsylvania it is cold and dreary, and I must get back to knitting the thumbs on a pair of mittens destined for Vermont, where so many people lost everything in floods a week ago. If it's this cold here, it's colder there.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

a taste of things to come

Watch this space!

Monday, May 30, 2011

April Hat Knitting

In April, Elizabeth and I knit Chemo Caps for A.I. duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware.  I've finally photographed mine.  They've been done for ages but I couldn't find anyone to model for me, finally I bought a head and now I  have a full-time model.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hit me with your best shot

I believe this blog has had a bad case of spring fever. We may be back now. . .

It is widely known that my sock yarn collection defies reason. It's causing me a bit of panic, to tell the truth. In honor of the upcoming sock-knitting season (some call it summer), I'm giving some away. You can do any or all of the following:

  • tell me your favorite color
  • tell me the color you find intolerable
  • give me carte blanche, i.e., invite me to "hit me with your best shot."

And I will send you (up to 10 people)  a skein of sock yarn from my copious archive.

Send your color preferences plus your name and mailing address to me at -- do not post it here in the comments, because you don't want strangers with ill intent to get hold of it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's April!

And it's neither raining nor snowing -- which is good news, considering it was doing both, at the same time, yesterday morning.

I finished 3 pairs of mittens, with 2 still in progress, in March. Photo after they're dry and looking their best.

April's project is chemo caps for kids -- which means toddler on up to full adult size. Unfortunately, it means easy care and non-irritating fibers, and I really don't like either cotton or acrylic. But, for all the kids and their parents, I can do that. Because heads that are bald as a result of treatment have very sensitive skin, I'm not even going to try washable wool blends.

I plan to stick with very simple patterns, roll brim caps and the first couple from this site; I like numbers 1, 5, 6, and 8. For teenagers, I have my eye on the London Beanie, which has been found to be very popular with young men. (Ravelry lists 1012 projects, and the pattern was around long before Ravelry.)

Anyone who wants to is welcome to knit along. We're donating ours to the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, which is not far from us. If you live nearby, you are welcome to give caps to us for delivery (and, although I used the plural, just one cap is one more comfortable kid so don't feel you have to go into mass production mode); if you don't, your local hospital will be happy to have them.

I have track meets and soccer games in my future -- knitting round and round mindlesslly (mindfully?) is a great way to fill the gap between the time when you have to get there with your player and the time the action starts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Best of Intentions

Really, I started out this year knowing that I would blog here each week.  I knew that I would discuss in detail all my knitting but I didn't deliver on that promise.  Writing isn't my strong suit... anyhow, here I am and I am ready to write the epic January, February and March, Knitting Tell All!

January, the "Something for Me" month.  I finished my Noro afghan.  I started this on my birthday last year and only had the finishing to go but it was a lot of work knitting it together and putting on the edging and finishing in the ends.  It's done, it's for me and I love it.

 February, the wool mittens for Maine month, but I found a need much nearer to home.  A dear friend mentioned to me that she didn't have any hand knit socks and it was her birthday month.  Of all the sad stories I've heard, I just had to put down my mittens and make socks.

Once finished with the socks I went on to make my husband a knit cap.  This is yarn we bought last summer in England and he carried in his bag all the way home.  It's so soft and nice and the colorways are wonderful.  I've got mine on the needles now but have so many other projects distracting me...


March, the Afghans for Afghans month, found me knitting (as I was suppose) to a little vest for A4A.  I enjoyed knitting this thing.  It was a simple design, I scaled it up a bit by using heavier yarn and I made it longer so that it would fit a larger child.  The pattern has no real finishing except sewing the shoulder seam and putting on the buttons, which I got my mom to do...yeah, my mom still helps with my knitting!

Beyond the knitting mentioned herein, I've knit lots of other things but they gone off to be worn before I got pictures.  I also cast on a Nimbus sweater, knit 11" and then decided it might be a few inches shy of fitting around me.  It was then that I decided to find a pattern knit from the neck down and try again.  It's put away right now, to age and allow me to forget the 11" of stockinette that I need to pull out...meanwhile I've cast on anther sweater for me in Denim that might work out.  I'll discuss it in detail if I get it right.  That's about it for now.  I'm looking forward to the next few months.  I love knitting caps so the chemo project will be a breeze.

*All the projects discussed in the blog entry have full details of pattern used, needles and yarn at my site on Ravelry. 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yipes! Stripes!

I like striped mittens.

There may be a reason I don't make them more often.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

visual interest coming soon!!

1. I do not have Pat locked away in a cell, away from her knitting and camera. She is well, and knitting, and taking pictures, and will emerge at some point, as soon as the sun gets a little higher in the sky.

2. No pictures from me either. I have a new camera. (The old one is still in hiding. I'll probably find it in a bird's nest in a tree down the street.) Cameras no longer come with convenient little booklets -- they come with the instruction manual on a CD that you read on your computer. So you have to run back and forth between your subject and your computer (or send it to your phone, where you can read it in 3-point type), and it is remarkably frustrating and inefficient. I'm having a little trouble getting settings, color, etc, to work properly, and I don't want to post any more bad pictures. Mastering this lovely little machine is at the top of the list of things that will happen in March.

3. February mitten review. Um. I started the month with two pairs in progress, found a third I'd forgotten about, and cast on two more. That gives me five pairs of mittens in progress. Do not even try to figure out the logic; there is none. March is a wild card month, and I plan to finish all of the February mittens.

4. And -- ta da! -- Pat and I have discovered a very cool project, which supports one of our favorite efforts, the Heifer Project. Thanks to Kaleidoscope Yarns in Vermont; it's their newsletter that led us to this great idea: Hats for Hunger.

Details to be firmed up soon, but Pat and I will do something for this group during the month of March. We thought we'd put the link up right away in case you want to play along.

P.S. The first 3 crocuses opened up yesterday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not mittens

Hmmm. As part of the very small committee (n = 2) that laid out this year's TLF schedule, I seem to be breaking the rules pretty enthusiastically!! To start, I did not knit myself a sweater in January. (I did, though, make myself a hat and some mittens, so I might qualify on a technicality.) Now it's February, and our schedule says to make mittens for Afghans for Afghans if there's a campaign that calls for those, or for someone else if there isn't one. But -- I had to finish this blanket for the February 14 Afghans for Afghans due date:

I call it "24" -- 4 large blocks, each of which measures 24 by 24 inches, and each of which is based on a multiplication fact. The first one I knit was 4 stripes, each 6 inches wide (4 x 6). Then 6 4-inch stripes, then 8 3-inch stripes, then 12 2-inch stripes. Seven colors of Peace Fleece, using more than 1 skein per color, and all from my stash. The colors are so much warmer and richer than this picture says, and this thing is WARM! I love garter stitch stripes; you'll see more.

I do have two pairs of mittens in progress, so I will finish those up for February, hitting the assigned target. And there's a sweater that needs only a sleeve and a half; that's on my list as well. Not to mention, as soon as I've crocheted the shoelaces, some outrageously adorable little red booties. Watch.this space!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dear Witness Protection Program

Please return my camera, which has been in deep hiding since two days after Thanksgiving. Accept my assurances that all threats to its continued wellbeing have been neutralized.

Without it, how can I adequately horrify Pat with this week's wild binge of casting on new projects without finishing older ones?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

my love affair with the post office continues

Tomorrow I will send these to Afghans for Afghans:

Blue mittens by RTDD, gray mittens (they are gray, not white) with turquoise edge and green mittens from me, stripey mittens and blue socks from Pat. There's also a dark gray hat that did not make it to the photo shoot.

And these to the Red Scarf Project (I missed the deadline, but I wrote and they said OK to send -- I always check first):

The scarf on the left is Knitpicks Swish worsted, using the Corrugator pattern; the scarf on the right is Knitpicks Shamrock, a hefty tweedy yarn that did not want to be ribbed. I used a 2 x 2 basketweave pattern instead.

All of the knitting is from 2010; I just never got these things into boxes. It's time.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Begin again

January 1. I make one New Year's resolution every year. The rules are (1) it does not fall into the "become perfect" category, and (2) it has to be fun. For instance, one year the resolution was "see more movies." So this post is not to be seen as a resolution! It's a plan.

Pat and I both believe in knitting for people in need. Sure, we write the checks, too, but both of us think that, in addition to helping someone stay warm, there's an intangible benefit to receiving something handmade. The energy of the work, the knowledge that someone cared enough about you, a stranger, to make this thing -- we think the benefits go beyond the immediate and physical. And we've been knitting in this spirit for years.

It was Pat's idea, enthusiastically welcomed, that for 2011 we do a project each month that falls into that category. We both loathe the phrase "charity knitting" -- it sounds, to our ears, condescending, and has a certain "Lady Bountiful" sense to it. In the knitting guild I belong to, I changed the name of our charity committee to Knitting for Neighbors; Pat and I call our efforts KFO -- Knitting for Others.

We've made a schedule for the year. Unlike last year, we're posting this at the outset, in case anyone wants to follow along or jump in for a month or two. Subject to change, of course, because stuff happens. And Afghans for Afghans sometimes has quick, intense projects that can't be deferred. For now, though, here's the schedule. Each of us has three free passes, so we can skip a month if necessary, without penalty or need to justify. And the year doesn't really start until February 1; in January, permission is given to knit something for ourselves. Another new rule -- the project can have been started before the first of the month. As long as it's finished during the month of the challenge, it counts. (I can't count the finished red scarf sitting on my desk right now for next September, for instance.)

Other knitting will continue, too, and you'll see that here as well. We're looking forward to the variety!

We have participated in all of these projects before, and know them to be well run and successful at getting the knitted items where they need to be:

January -- knit for yourself 

February -- wool mittens, for any organization (e.g., Nest Maine, afghans for Afghans, one of the reservations)

March -- wild card (project or organization of our choice; we may both do the same one or we may choose different projects)

April -- chemo caps for A. I. duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, one of our many wonderful local children's hospitals. Any size kid, infant to age 18.

May -- scarf for Safe Harbor for next winter. Safe Harbor is a local organization (West Chester, PA) that helps formerly homeless, recovering addicts get back to normal life. Mostly men, they sleep at Safe Harbor but must go out during the day. Many are those guys you see selling newspapers at intersections.

June -- wool socks for Adopt a Native Elder (supports Navajo elders living in the traditional way)

July -- blanket squares for any organization: Pine Ridge, A4A group project; South Africa; other. Overachievers can just go ahead and knit the whole blanket. What? Stop looking at me like that!

August -- Caps for Kids, to be delivered via Knitter's Day Out, a small, annual Pennsylvania event every September that Pat and I always attend and where both of us usually teach. It's very early this month, so knitting will be done in August.

September -- red scarf for the Red Scarf Project

October -- wild card

November -- Hats for the Homeless (in New York; if we can find a Philadelphia equivalent, we'll donate there instead)

December -- wild card