Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Decapatation - not for the faint of heart!

This came to me in the mail last week...I'd knit this dragon a few years ago for my nephew.  It must have tangled with a very large beast.  Perhaps the families new puppy?

After consulting with my knitting buddies, I thought I could perhaps fix him.  It wasn't going to be easy, the scarf has been worn hard and is pretty heavily felted.  I carefully picked out stitches on both sides till I had a full row on each piece.  I then used a 3-needle bind-off to put him back together.  Looks pretty good for a full head replacement.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I've been having fun with Knitting Pure and Simple's topdown kids' sweater (you can purchase the pattern at your favorite shop, or online through Patternfish -- oh, how I love and fear Patternfish!). It calls for a gauge of 4 sts/inch (16 sts/10cm), which is perfect for my beloved Bartlett and Peace Fleece yarns. Of which, it comes as no surprise, I have quite a bit. I discovered that the two smallest sizes can be made using just 3 skeins of those yarns. I've started with the colors I have three skeins of, for solid-colored sweaters. When I run out of those, I will start making stripes -- of course, that will interrupt the mindlessness of the project, but not catastrophically.

Peace Fleece, Brenda's Purple -- it's more a classic purple crayon color in reality; size 6-8 Peruvian Highland Chunky, color may be Harvest Heather; size 2-4
These two are destined for a Lakota reservation in South Dakota, where they will keep someone's little one a little more comfortable this winter. (Not enough -- it's never enough -- but it's something.) The next two or three will go up to Maine, with the same goal.

I told Pat that these sweaters are so tranquilizing -- kind of like sucking your thumb. She immediately christened them "thumbsuckers," which sounds vaguely vulgar to me, but the name has stuck. You will be seeing quite a few of these around these parts as we move into cooler weather!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A4A quick campaign

Pat and I are long-time supporters of Afghans for Afghans. These things head out tomorrow
for their quick November campaign:

The red mittens you've seen before; I knit them because I felt like knitting something with cables, and now they've found where they're supposed to go. The blue socks are Bartlett's Maine wool in colors Blue Loch Heather and Thistle; the mittens with stripes are a double strand of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool, with contrast stripes in a double strand of Paton's Classic Wool.

Information on the current, brief campaign for hats, mittens, and socks may be found here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

cold weather is here

It is cold here -- I heard someone mutter about possible snow this week! -- and it is colder up north. So these things are boxed up and will head off to Nest: Maine tomorrow morning:

Left to right: Peace Fleece mittens in Siberian Midnight (discontinued) and Moscow Magic; double-stranded mittens using Lion Brand Fisherman's wool and Paton's Classic; small red mittens made with Briggs & Little wool; socks using one strand Lion Brand Fisherman's wool, 1 strand variegated aqua Kroy sock yarn; striped hat from miscellaneous scraps (100% wool); red waffle hat from Lamb's Pride worsted (85% wool, 15% mohair), possibly color Medieval Red; purple wool blend hat made from anonymous (meaning I don't have the ball band) yarn obtained from Elann quite some time ago.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

waiting for the storm

Here in the mid-Atlantic area, we are waiting to be clobbered by a huge storm, one that's following a track with no historic precedent and is destined to collide with a winter storm and a high pressure area, and who knows what's going to happen then? The rain has started, the forecasts have made us all pretty nervous, and my sister and her husband canceled their long-anticipated 30th anniversary trip to stay home and man the pumps. Back when we thought they were headed to Vermont, I did a little cold weather knitting as a bon voyage present:

( I did not knit the pumpkin)

The mittens are Bartlett yarn in color Thistle ("thistle" is a word I find almost impossible to pronounce); I used a pattern I found on Ravelry,  the Staff mittens. I memorized it almost by accident, and am now on my third pair (for that pair I've added a thumb gusset; will report). The socks are made with OnLine Supersocke 6-ply, Winter Color 1359. I used my basic pattern over 52 stitches.

I am hoping this storm turns into a slightly scary knitting event, but nothing worse. You will hear from us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

mitten knittin'

I decided it was time to stop doing the plain autopilot mittens and play with cables. I am very happy I did -- these knit up really fast, and I will be making the pattern again. I like the seed stitch background for the cable (palm side is plain stockinette).

Bartlett yarn, not sure which red -- might be Mountain Berry

I did modify the pattern slightly by flipping the cable for the second mitten, so they'd be mirror images. And for the next pair, I will add a thumb gusset -- I find that the thumb that springs straight out of the hand doesn't fit as well, and it seems to add extra stress on those difficult corner stitches.

In real life, the red is slightly darker, and a little bit heathery - I will try for a better photo later. Meanwhile, I've already cast on the next pair.

Edited to add: when modeled by a person whose hands are not too big for the mittens, the thumb seems to work just fine.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

summer socks

I have a friend who (1) lives several hundred miles from here, in New England (in other words, where winters are colder) and (2) wears size 6 shoes, which means that each sock I knit for her (individual sock, that is; double that for a pair) requires approximately 768 fewer stitches than those I knit for myself. Surprise! She gets a lot of socks. Here is this year's harvest:

left to right: Drops Fabel 542; Drops Fabel 330; Opal 2806 (from the Antonia series)

Now I can pick up some of the other socks -- yes, I confess, plural -- that were put aside while I raced to the August 27 deadline. There is some hope that I may finish a couple of pairs for myself before the next gift-giving occasion rushes in.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We're back!

At least, I think so.

It was a very hot summer here in the mid-Atlantic area, and although knitting continued, energy for blogging was in short supply. The scarf-a-month project languished, for both of us. There was a successful afghans for Afghans drive, some birthday presents got finished, and now we're looking forward to cooler weather (I saw leaves fall off the trees this morning) and the best of all outdoor knitting weather -- that temperature when you need a sweater but you can still go barefoot.

For those of us who loved school, Labor Day and September are always another chance to start over. So here's my secondary New Year's resolution -- post on this poor lonely blog at least once a week.

Next week is Knitters' Day Out, a wonderful small day-and-a-half gathering in central Pennsylvania. I love the small festivals, especially the vendors. You can find so many local companies that you wouldn't run across any other way. (Bearlin Acres, I'm looking at you!)

(Oh -- and I'm going to have to do a whole lot of reading if I expect to finish War and Peace by October 1.)

Pictures in the next post -- they are all in the phone, and that's downstairs, and if I get up I won't come back to this desk, where I really need to be right now.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

when we're not knitting

We love to read. (It definitely gets in the way of the knitting sometimes.) And a few weeks ago I was joking to Pat about how every year my sister and I decide to read War and Peace together, just 10 pages a day. Pat loved the idea and took it and ran. Now a whole group of us are doing it, in a totally non-organized fashion -- more like a support group than a book club, really. We started last Friday, June 1, and have given ourselves October 1 as an end date. Pat did all kinds of research  before choosing her translation; I had already bought a copy of a well-regarded new translation  (sometime in the last 10 years) so that's the one I am reading. No particular translation is required or considered the best one.

Pat sent an email that sums up the project, so with her permission, I am just copying it here to explain. She called it "the greatest novel ever written" - I will decide whether I think that's true when I finish. Here's what she said:

I'm sending this invitation out to folks I know who love to read...including my entire knitting group.  If you'd like to read War and Peace, join me, Elizabeth, and Chilisa and read it this summer.  We'll form an email group or start a blog or find someway to communicate our thoughts, it will be an online and in-person book discussion and should add to the fun of reading a hefty novel.

Chili and I have never read it before and feel like we should read the book that some call "the greatest novel ever written."  I believe Elizabeth has started it but perhaps not finished it?  Chili is reading the Maude translation on her Kindle, Elizabeth is reading the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation in print, while I will read the Anthony Briggs translation in print augmented by the Maude translation on my iPad.  I'm going to try and read +/- 20 pages a day and we will be starting on June 1st.  Let me know if you'd like to join us and don't hesitate to send this on to anyone else you think would enjoy the challenge.

If anyone out there wants to join us, just say so and I will add you to our google discussion group.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

a hand for afghans for Afghans

Pat and I are (you've heard this before) long-time supporters of afghans for Afghans. I sent things in for their very first campaign, and have missed only 3 or 4 in their entire history -- more than 10 years now. The current quick campaign is collecting mittens, socks, and hats for kids who live on the streets or are what is known as IDPs -- internally displaced persons -- who live in camps that provide little shelter against the elements. And winter that close to the Himalayas is cold. I am mailing these on Monday:

From top down: Lopi, a tweedy yarn that I will have to identify later, Brown Sheep Bulky green, Brown Sheep Bulky red with gold stripes (10 points for Gryffindor!), Brown Sheep Bulky purple, Lion Brand Fisherman's wool held double, Elann Peruvian Highland Wool held double, and Knitpicks gray and red ragg (Wool of the Andes, I think, and no longer available unless I'm not looking in the right place)  held double. All but pair #2 (Takhi multicolor) followed this pattern, using the instructions that start with a cast-on of 28 stitches and appropriate needles for bulky weight yarn. Variations in the thickness of the yarn created mittens of different sizes. 

The deadline to get things to A4A in San Francisco is sometime mid-July. There is still plenty of time to whip up a pair of mittens or socks, and think how good it will feel to know some kid in miserable circumstances feels just a little bit better.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In which we continue as we do not mean to go on

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Right, there we go -- yes, you in the back? Oh, um, yeah -- the March scarves. Um, yes. Well, we are now talking about APRIL scarves. . .

Meanwhile, I continue to love the yarn I talked about on March 14. I have told  a couple of local friends that it's the exact color of the sand on the beach where my family has always gone (northern NJ) -- I was there today, and here's a picture (that is a color photo, not a black and white, just to clarify):

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The local knitting guild I belong to sends baby hats to the NICU at a local hospital -- they have plenty of preemie hats, but not everyone who ends up in the NICU is a preemie, so they need full-term baby size as well. Every once in a while I go on a binge and knit a heap of them. All machine washable, acrylic yarns -- not my favorite, but they need to hold up to industrial laundry, and the cause is worth it. And knitting these is a little like potato chips -- you can't do just one.

I'm not a huge fan of pink for girls and blue for boys, either -- but one of the main purposes of these hats is to make life feel a little more normal for the parents who (usually) went in expecting an uneventful birth and hospital stay and now find their world tilted off axis.  Even if the baby is just there for 1 day, it's a big stress -- and the normal pink or normal blue can be very reassuring.

My assortment is not entirely traditional, though (that would be a lot to ask). I'm particularly fond of the Easter egg striped ones. And look at that rogue purple (see how it's waving at you) and that dark blue one. Hmmm, just two blue hats this time - it looks like I may have to work harder at being even-handed in the next batch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I got distracted

We won't talk about that scarf quite yet, OK? I still have half of March. . .

Meanwhile, I've been swept away by a sweater. I am in love with this yarn. I am also convinced that I will be knitting stockinette for the next 47 years. . .

The yarn is a natural sheep's wool from Maine. I got it from an on-line acquaintance in 2007; she had purchased it, at some point, from the Ledoux Family Farm in Wilton, Maine. I don't know whether they still have their fleeces spun into yarn, but I sure hope so, because I want more. This yarn is springy and warm and smells wonderful when our unseasonably warm March sun hits it. The color is most clearly shown in the upper left corner of this photo:

Because there are no landmarks in this desert, and one inch looks like the next, I've taken to inserting a little marker each day, to prove that progress is indeed occurring:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

out of the box

First of all, for those who have wondered, there has not been a coup here at Two Left Feet. Pat is still out there, and we are still speaking to each other. The problem is that the work that she does for pay has been refusing to respect its boundaries, taking big chunks out of the time she would prefer to reserve for knitting and photography. She will be back.

It's March! Time for a new category. This month's category is Scarf.

Now, those who have seen any of my blog entries have a pretty good idea of what I like, I think. Lots of color, simple clean lines. . . But as I was searching for those four balls of red to make a really nice scarf that I've had my eye on for a while, I stumbled across this:

The color is almost true; the rumply skein is 100% silk, and the other one is 70% mohair and 30% nylong. I am not sure when I bought this. I think I know which friend it was intended for, but it may be reassigned. This time of year calls for a departure from predictability!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

just one?

Not my most successful month. . . at least not in blog project terms. One pair of purple mittens is headed to Maine:

I had hoped to make more, but I was distracted by several other knitting projects (a sweater, baby hats for the local NICU, socks for a friend, socks for another friend, a couple of hats, a blanket to be mailed to Afghans for Afghans. . .). The kid who gets this pair isn't going to care that I made just one this time. There will be more before next winter.

And remember this? It came out pretty nicely, I think:

Summer Wind cowl, designed by Carrie Sullivan, Irish Girlie Knits; unknown sock yarn (probably Auracania Ranco)

I will definitely make this pattern again. . . in fact, there's a blue and white skein that's looking quite possible.

Happy Leap Day! And an extra happy birthday to those of you who only really get to celebrate every four years.

Friday, February 17, 2012

January scarf

Well, yeah, the "January" scarf is not quite done. Almost, though. . .

It is a lovely, rich shade of purple, and I have struggled to photograph it. If you average out these two in-progress photos, you'll be close:

The yarn escaped from its ball band long ago, but I suspect it may be Araucania Ranco. The pattern is Summer Wind (that's a Ravelry link, so if you're not on Ravelry, I don't think it will work). Beautifully written, and I will make it again. I expect to finish this cowl this weekend and will then struggle some more with photographing purple to show it to you in its final glory.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


One of this year's knitting resolutions (let it hereby be noted that I only make resolutions that are going to be fun) was to do more colorwork. It's certainly not hard to do more when you've done none at all for the last several years. First entry in the colorwork category:

I followed one of Drops' free patterns - I love that they made all of their wonderful patterns free - using Bartlett Yarns' Maine wool. I will be making a pair for myself, and have at least two pairs planned for gifts. You work the garter stitch portion first, back and forth, then join and work in the round for the patterned, stockinette portion. I made the smallest size and had to tinker with ljus placement to get them just right, but felt terribly clever when it all worked out. 

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

If you're going to San Francisco. . .

The deadline for Afghans for Afghans' current campaign is February 29. I've done better than usual for this one, and today I am mailing one sweater and three pairs of mittens:

(The aqua pair has been washed again since this photo and the stitches are now nicely evened out.)

The red and green mittens were knit with worsted weight yarn held double. The aqua mittens are Lopi. All were made following the smallest stitch and row counts from this mitten pattern, producing a small/medium adult size. I love the fabric that's created using a double strand of worsted.

For the sweater, I used Knitting Pure and Simple's Bulky Topdown Pullover for Children (#112). I had five skeins of this blue Lopi, and the pattern said that was enough for the largest size. I was skeptical, but even after adding an inch and a half to body and sleeves, I did not run out of yarn. I'll make this again! (The pattern is available for purchase in hard copy from most yarn shops, and as a downloadable pdf file from Patternfish.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

for February

February's category is easy: small projects for cold places. As I showed in my last post, two hats are already on their way to Nest Maine. Other possible beneficiaries of this one include areas in Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont that were hit hard by floods last summer and fall, Lakota reservations, or any number of collection points in the northern U.S.

Stay tuned to see what happens!

wrong foot

So much for fresh starts. . .second post of the year, and I'm behind schedule already!

I am almost finished my main scarf for January's "assignment" -- but I have not yet managed to take a picture that shows that the thing is a glorious, rich purple. My camera and my phone prefer to tell you it's bright blue. One more try, tomorrow if it doesn't rain. And I almost finished my Special Olympics scarf, but I have a sad suspicion that I have had a willfully ignored case of crochet beginneritis, in which one end of the scarf fails to achieve right angles. I was close to finishing by the Pennsylvania deadline of February 1, but Pennsylvania met the quota before that. There may still be time to rip and redo for Louisiana's deadline; we shall see. No pictures of that right now either. . .

I did, however, finish these two hats for Nest Maine:

and this sweater and a pair of mittens for Afghans for Afghans:

All of the yarn was in my stash, so I am happy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

welcome to 2012

Another year, another blog project.

We've noticed that we have trouble, toward the last third of the year, sticking to the same category every month. So this year we're making it easier -- our blog knitting will fall into two categories: scarf knitting and charity knitting. We've laid out a schedule that has us knitting 6 scarf projects and 6 charity projects, while also giving us 2 wild card months. Yes, you've done the math, and I can see that you're confused. . . there are two projects that are scarves for worthy causes!

Last year we diverged from our original plans because the weather in the U.S. brought so many disasters that we felt compelled to respond. The tornado that leveled a large portion of Joplin, Missouri last spring inspired us to knit (with Debbie, Ruth, and Ann, and RTDD's gift of yarn) a rainbow blanket. And the terrible flooding caused by Hurricanes Irene and Lee in Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont also called for a response; my sister and I sent a box to Vermont, and Pat made several hats to be distributed in Pennsylvania.

Because we have learned that things often change as the year goes on, we're building in some flexibility by not announcing the whole year's schedule in advance. We'll do it month by month, or sometimes one month in advance. (And if there's one of those hurry-up quick A4A campaigns, that will be inserted into the schedule whenever it comes up.) Sometimes we'll use the same pattern, sometimes not.  For January -- a scarf. Any pattern, any design, any target. More news in the next couple of days when we've both decided on specifics!

I'm also going to try to continue what I did last year, and knit a hat each month from stash, to go somewhere in December. . .