Happy new year, liturgists! Today is Advent 1, which means it’s the first day of the 2014 Christian year. Here we start remembering, celebrating, and participating in the story of Jesus all over again. To celebrate, I’m reducing the price of the Liturgical Year Pattern Series to $40. It began two years ago today; so hard to believe!
We’re still at my in-laws for Thanksgiving weekend, but as soon as we get home we’ll start decorating. Which mostly consists in pulling out our 2′ fake tree from Aldi and hiding it behind about half of the million ornaments my husband owns. It also means pulling out Christmas socks – both last year’s and this year’s, hot off the needles.
The pattern is Christmas in Tallinn, the 9th (I think?) pattern I’ve knit out of Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road. The original pattern is for a stocking, but I adapted it to socks. I changed the number of stitches to fit a leg with my gauge, and replaced the stocking foot with a fairly vanilla sock foot. Other than that, I followed the pattern to the letter, but I hardly followed the pattern closely enough to critique it.
Yarn Review: I used Deborah Norville’s Serenity sock yarn in three colors of solids. The stuff is very thin, but the gauge isn’t too fine for socks. I bought it because I could afford to buy four balls of it, quite frankly. I am interested to see how it holds up. It’s soft and nicely heathered. Some people would probably find it splitty, but that sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me. If economy is the name of your game too, it’s worth a look.
The pattern repeats were rather sizeable, and there was no way I was going to fit a whole number of them on a sock leg. It would have been enormous or child-sized. So I went with my normal sock circumference – 64 stitches – and just split the pattern around it, making a nice seam down the middle. I’m hoping the seams will look a little nicer after I have a chance to block them. I could have made the socks calf length, but it was all I could do to make myself knit them at all. (I’m still a little sick of fair isle.)
Of course, the little braids are my favorite. And it’s always rewarding to look at the clean, patterned insides of a fair isle pattern. (Though insides should stay inside. Last year, in retail stores, there seemed to be a trend of sweaters designed so the floats were all on the outside. That seemed rather tasteless to me. Innards are wonderful things, but they are not for display.)
You may note that the green yarn was only used for a bit of cuff at the top of the socks, and I can inform you that both socks took up exactly one ball of red, minus a few yards. Meaning I have more leftovers than actual yarn used in the socks! Much more. This has left me wondering what exactly I should do with it…
Things I’m thankful for today:
1. A healthy, happy baby, whose smiles light up my day and whose giggles are my drug.
2. Little bows. (by Crafts by Libby.)
3. A sister-in-law with an unflappable sense of humor.
4. Another sister-in-law to share a love of knitting with. (Yes, she’s wearing a color affection. And all four grandchildren are wearing sweaters she knit.)
5. A family who loves Jesus.
6. A brother-in-law who drove all the way down from Rhode Island to meet his niece.
9. Enough food to eat. And then some.
10. A gift enabling me to start on the next Lord of the Rings project before Christmas.
We’ve been learning a lot about living with less. A little less every year. And at the same time, we keep learning how. much. we. have. And that all you can do with that is share.
Naomi turned nine months old today – also known as the big NINO. Nine in, nine out. It just so happens that this occurred the day after the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. So I took the only reasonable course of action I could think of.
1) Dressed my baby up in the closest thing to a costume I could rustle up at a moment’s notice. Think of this as a rough interpretation of Clara Oswin Oswald.
2) Whip up a batch of blueberry muffins, and wish they were bluer.
3) Invade the unsuspecting home of the nearest friend with cable to watch the 50th anniversary special. (Thanks Tina and Donna!!!) We had a blast. I won’t give any spoilers here, but if you saw it feel free to post away in the comments. Was it not awesome?!
Naomi thought so. Well, at least that’s how she feels about her (read: my) more successfully TARDIS-blue camelbak. Drinking out of it has been one of her favorite morning activities for at least a month. We’ve gotten to the point that the first thing does after her morning nurse is attempt to climb over to my nightstand to steal it.
Stinker. Well, what else are we up to at 9 months?
1) Talking. “Ba” is back, and she seems to be able to switch between “ba” and “da” at will. There are lots of other consonants thrown in there, and even a few other vowels, but those seem to be the only two syllables that she’ll repeat. I finally caught her saying “muh muh muh muh” for the first time today!
2) Scooting. She isn’t crawling so much as… levitating. Or apparating. Or something. She manages to move herself several feet when I’m not looking, apparently by no means other than sort of willing her wiggles in a particular direction. This is effective, but slow.
3) Object permanence. This is a glorious thing. Like, I can walk out of the room for ten seconds without her being overwhelmed by emotions of abandonment. (Or she’s just already stuffing it, but I doubt it.) If you put 2 and 3 together, you realize what I have is a glorious window of time when she is entertaining herself happily and not (particularly) mobile. Like, yesterday I swept and mopped the whole downstairs floor while she played with blocks on the rug. It was amazing.
4) Fussing. Willpower has its downsides, though. By the end of the day we both tend to be pretty pooped (mostly non-literally) and bored of each other, and sometimes this comes out with at least one of us doing a lot of whining. My favorite is when she’s fussing because she’s hungry, and her reaction to being offered food is to melt down. Or she’s fussing because she’s wet, and her reaction to being put on the changing table is to cry like the world has ended. I consider my capacity for sympathy to be surprisingly large (and the demands on it very reasonable), but I have limits. That’s just life, though. For the most part, we have a good time, and try to count our many blessings. Like notions bags. And a Clara dress. And colorful blocks. And a TARDIS-colored camelbak.
I’m not even out of the Shire yet, and I’ve already gotten myself in a wee pickle in my knitted journey through the Fellowship of the Ring. As described in the post just linked, I have yarn for most of the projects already, but not the second. I did not foresee the complete desertification of my yarn budget, and now I seem to be up a creek without a paddle.
This is the yarn I decided on:
Picture shamelessly stolen from ewes d’bleu online store. Click for link.
It’s Manos Fino, in colorway “Watered Silk,” and I want it. There are two skeins waiting for me at Yarns Unlimited. The catch? They’re poopily expensive, and I’ll have to wait for Christmas money to acquire them. That really isn’t that long of a wait. I can probably make it, if I can survive the annoyed glares I’m getting from Jared, who wants to continue reading the book.
(Before you ask, no, I am not going to reorder the projects. Expect my complete intractability on this subject.)
I was prepared to wait. But this weekend, looking at my hand-dyed sock yarns on display (see previous post*), I bethought me how beautiful they look. The two below were dyed three years ago, and the color has held despite my relative inexperience. They don’t have quite as fabulous a base as the Fino, but the colors are pretty lovely. And they have the homefield advantage of already being in my closet.
The beads (ordered in a weak moment from Joanns when shipping was nearly free) were waiting for me when we got home. They are a bit more ivory in color than appears in these pictures, but the yarn colors are pretty accurate. What do you think?
Above is the 100% merino, and below is the merino/nylon sock yarn. Both are “groovy green.”
Give me your thoughts in the comments. Should I take the shortcut to mushrooms?
EDITED TO ADD: I’m sure it’d help if I reminded you what the pattern was. It’s Mithril, a lace vest, and I’ve knit it before.
Naomi’s already shared her opinion. It goes more or less like this: “NEW RATTLE FOR MEEEEE!!!”
My bead canisters are her favorite toy in my office. Yes, I know this is a disaster waiting to happen. We live dangerously. (Dangerously for my floor, that is. The worst that could happen on our end is finding a few beads in her diaper. Nice visual? You’re welcome.)
*We did quite well over the weekend, we think. The show had a lot of visitors, and the gradient kits in particular did very well. We have plenty of leftovers, though, and the store is now open again. It was fun, but a lot of work! Mom is contemplating more shows in the future.
As ready as we’re going to be!
We know where we’ll be this weekend. The 2013 Maryland Alpaca & Fleece Festival. November 16-17th, 10 am – 4 pm; Howard County Fairgrounds. Where will you be?
An ENORMOUS vote of thanks goes out to our amazing sample knitters – Tammy, Gale, Beryl, and my aunt Kathy. Each did a fabulous job, and helped round out our sample collection significantly.
And another big vote of thanks to Dad who helped design the setup. It’s amazing what you can do with chicken wire, zip ties, a few clamps, and paperclips. And to Leah, who helped arrange all the yarn in a tasteful fashion.
No matter how this weekend turns out, we have a lot to celebrate.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a random post. So, randomly, bam!
1) This is the 707th post on this blog. That seems significant somehow.
2) Nomes is, for some reason, most hilarious after her bath. We made it a part of her bedtime routine because it was supposed to be calming. Take a nice soothing bath, read a little story, everyone’s calm and ready to go to sleep. Not!
Just goes to show what comes from trusting a book. Adorable though!
3) Naomi’s first snowfall was yesterday morning. Well, not her first. It snowed the day she was born. And I’m sure again after that. But this is the first snow she could in any way appreciate. I’m really not computing the fact that she’s been earthside long enough that we’re returning to the season of her birth.
Although she really didn’t appreciate getting dressed up for it.
4) I finally have photographic proof that Naomi does actually cry.
5) Not for the first time (and sadly, probably not for the last time), my avoidant tendancies are shown to be pointless. Less than a week and I’ve produced one of the Christmas socks I was putting off for so long.
I didn’t really consider that making a Christmas stocking into a regular sock would take the very intimidating-looking ratio of fair isle leg to plain foot and reverse it. Also, I only got in two repeats of the fair isle pattern. If I’d done all three, as the pattern suggested, the leg would have run up onto the wider part of my calf. So, oh bummer! Just two repeats! (This is not a bummer. I’m still not in the mood for fair isle.)
6) I’ll tell you what is a bummer though. Instantly upon finishing this sock, my ball of white yarn disappeared. It’s gone. vanished. MIA. evaporado. I should have the first repeat of the second sock done already, but instead I’ve turned every logical (and non-logical) hiding place upside-down for nothing. I am flummoxed.
7) I guess I’ll just have to cast on something just for fun. Something not part of any goal or list, that isn’t particularly productive or useful. What a chore.
So I pulled out this little gem that Mom gave me for Christmas last year. Because who can turn down a gradient? Probably lots of people with self control, but not this knitter!
9) I’m thinking this pattern.
10) I’m going to break my habit and pull from the center of this ball. That flapping sound you hear is pigs flying.
As I described before, it was rather difficult to explain how the beautiful (and very large) strip of mosaic knitting I was working on was going to end up being a bag. It is finished now, and you can judge for yourself whether or not I in fact succeeded in making a bag.
The instructions were to make a piece 3x as long as it is wide. (I was very close, and compensated the rest by making my seams rather deep.) It then gets folded a rather peculiar way to take on a peculiar, but still bag-like, shape. I counted rows and figured out exactly where to make the first seam:
Then the second, attaching the straps a the corners.
It definitely looks like a bag now, though still so enormous that it could also function as a baby coracle.
This baby doesn’t need a wool coracle, however, and I didn’t want it to flop open into one after it was felted. So, in a fit of ingenuity, I made a center buckle for the purse using the strap pattern. I cast on with two colors in the center, with a double knitting cast on and twice as many stitches, and made one and a half repeats on each end. (If you can’t tell in the pictures, I switched with the two straps which was the foreground and which was the background color; I did the same with each side of this buckle.) I sewed one end of the buckle in place. For a closure, I happened to have an excellent magnet closure that I’d removed from a thrift store purse I made into a bodice a couple years back. I installed this after felting was complete.
Naomi was extremely dubious about the whole felting process.
I have a fair bit of felting experience, but I shared her hesitancy. This was a whole lot of beautiful knitting I had just done, and once it was felted, there’s no going back. You can adjust things here and there, but you can’t rip out and start over. But we took the plunge anyway.
I used way too much soap. Forgot that with Charlie’s soap, instructions that say “a small scoop” mean “a tiny scoop.”
The immediate results were still bag-like, but rather askew. Stretch, adjust, and manipulate as I might, the fabric had shrunk length-wise much more severely than width-wise. I managed not to cry, and put on my thinking cap.
Maybe, I thought, I could give the bag a rectangular bottom, putting the bottom corners at opposite sides. I found a couple of flat rate boxes in Jared’s mailing stash in the basement, and let it dry like this.
It was a good idea, but it didn’t quite work. The corners were too pointy, the felting had already been too severe, and the new corners I was trying to make didn’t quite take. The cast on/bind off edges were still much floppier than the selvedge edges, despite all my manipulations, and look rather ungraceful.
What did we learn from this experience, Naomi? What would we do different next time?
1) If I ever again take on a significant-sized felting project on which gauge matters, I would felt a swatch first. The water and electricity for an extra wash cycle is worth it. I had the little bags (which turned out just fine, by the way) as samples; a run through the washer would have told me what I needed to know. See how askew the change purse is? That could have told me in advance how off my purse would be if I didn’t make some changes.
2) With that information I would have discerned that it’s actually the 3:1 length:width ratio has to be post felting. At my gauge that would have meant a 4:1 ratio pre-felting.
3) This would require more yarn. I used up all but a few inches of the burgundy, and had to buy extra of the brown and grey. Or, more realistically, casting on fewer stitches. This isn’t the pattern’s fault; it called for 250 yards of each color and I only bought one skein each of Patons Classic Wool, which has 223. I might still would have needed extra to make the accessories if I hadn’t accidentally bought an extra color, though.
4) I also would have made the straps a little shorter. I hate too-long straps.
5) My center buckle? Brilliant. I wouldn’t do that differently. I highly recommend it.
It looks pretty in these pictures, for which I am glad. The stitch pattern is beautiful, and I think I should get a ruddy Pulitzer for my color selection. But its usefulness as a bag is going to be limited. With a few extra instructions, or some extra attentiveness and experience on my part, these problems could have been averted. I hope I have provided some help for others to make this piece with more success.
This is not the result I would have chosen for the first step on this epic journey. But (and I know there’s no way I can say this without being trite, so, sorry), if Bilbo can start by forgetting his pocket-handkerchief, and Merry and Pippin can start by getting sucked into an oak tree, then I can bear it.
Our shop is temporary closed, because of this awesomeness:
That’s right: Linda Jennings and Rebecca Osborn (With lots of help from other Jennings’ and Osborns) will, for the first time, be manning (womanning?) a booth exclusively for Osborn Fiber Studio. (!!!!!!)
Mom [Linda] has been dyeing like crazy. We are going to have lots of our gradiant sets there, along with plenty of Woolpaca and Meritime, patterns, sock yarn, and more.
The Festival will be at the Howard County Fairgrounds (same location as the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival), and our booth will be located in the Dining Hall. Come do your Christmas shopping, or just visit to tell Mom what an awesome job she’s doing! I imagine there will be lots of adorable alpacas to pet too. The pool’s open for whether or not Mom can resist bringing a couple home.
The festival will also include a bunch of free seminars and demonstrations. Mom is headlining with a free seminar on natural dyeing. She’s done this workshop several times now. I’ve never been able to attend myself, but I know from twelve years of experience that Mom is an excellent teacher, and the workshop sounds like a lot of fun.
We are working hard (okay, Mom is working SUPER hard and I’m helping where I can), and are getting super excited about this opportunity. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come share our joy! Hopefully we won’t be too busy for me to remember to take pictures…
I can’t wait for Thanksgiving. Mostly because I can’t wait for it to be the official US-brand Christmas season.
I am a good Anglican. I love Advent. You know this about me. But I have to confess. I am kinda a sucker for the December Season. I’ve gotten jaded by it like anyone else (working at a mall in high school will do that to you), but I got over it once I was no longer forcibly exposed to more “Santa Baby” than anyone should ever have to endure. I haven’t gotten much of a chance to indulge during the last few years, mostly because of the significant overlap with “grad school workaholic season,” which ends on December 23rd. We haven’t even put up our 3-foot fake tree from Aldi in three years.
But not this year. I started compulsively singing Naomi Christmas carols last month. My December schoolwork load is looking pretty light, and the gleam is in my eye… Christmas baking, Sinatra on Pandora, my home-made egg nog…. It’s happening.
In the knitting department, however, I’m feeling less enthusiastic.
Let me explain.
I am at the halfway point of knitting through Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road - 17 pairs of socks, 17 months (give or take). For the last 8 pairs, I have been dutifully random in selecting the month’s adventures.
Except for one pair.
Three times, one pair has been randomly selected. Once when I had my husband randomly pick a number between one and thirteen; once when I made my little sister close her eyes, spin in a circle, and pick the first bag she touched; and once when I made Seretha pick the bag she thought was most “interesting.” The same bag kept getting picked. But I took the yarn out, looked it over, and said “nah.”
With a picture like this, you can probably guess why. I was not in the mood for fair isle.
Christmas in Tallinn is actually a pattern for a Christmas stocking. But we don’t need a Christmas stocking. Jared and I have two handmade Christmas stockings each, and Naomi already has one. (No, she doesn’t ruddy well need another.) So I decided to adapt the pattern into, well, more socks! Easy enough. Except since I am shrinking the gauge to match, it means double the work.
Considering I was in the middle of an enormous fair isle sweater, and then an enormous mosaic-knit bag, I think I was justified in saying “maybe next month.”
Well, I can’t say “maybe next month” forever. And my colorwork knitting has hit a lull, so I’d better get through these while I have the willpower.
Yes, I know this is my hobby… and I should do things I like. But I made a goal, dangit, and I’m not going to let one pattern I don’t fEeEel like knitting stop me! Because I am that sort of headstrong person. Who can overcome laziness to accomplish pointless, arbitrary goals. Yes, I do state it that way on my resume.
No screwing around with this pattern. Quite literally in the first row, all three colors were already in play. Sheesh.
But the upside of fair isle?
Got one repeat done during a class session. At least fair isle is fast.
At the tender age of 8 months, Nomeykins is not a very well-traveled person. Outside her native state, she’s really only visited Maryland (unless you count West Virginia, the only parts of which she has visited outside of a car being Sheetzs).
She can only imagine fondly when we describe to her such far-off climes as California, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, or New Mexico. But I can bring the flavor of such places to her. In the form of socks, of course.
These are October’s entry from my tour of the world via knitted footwear. Knitting randomly through Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road, this pair is called “Santa Fe.” Apart from making me break out in song, the design around the cuffs is also reminiscent for me. Ms. Bush said the cuff design was modeled after a Navajo basket pattern. I realized that at a church meeting I go to every week, on one of the shelves is a set of baskets with just this pattern! I had stared at them in interest on many occasions, and was pleased to replicate it. I wish I could find a picture of the pattern now.
Pattern Review: This is really a fairly straight-forward, vanilla, top-down sock pattern, with some fair isle added in. I don’t really have any complaints about it. I adjusted it to be 60 stitches around, rather than the given 50 or 55, because I found out on last month’s socks that the yarn that I bought for this pattern was not quite as thick as I thought was. But that wasn’t the pattern’s fault. It was easy enough to adjust the pattern by multiples of five stitches.
Well, I do have one not-quite complaint. Out of all the toes on all the socks that I have made over the last half-decade (probably 30 pairs), the only toes I have ever had give out on me are round toes. Nancy Bush seems to have a thing for round toes, over the more common contemporary ones with side decreases and kitchner in the middle (I forget at the moment what that type is called). I suppose they tend to give out because the round toe is finished by threading the yarn through the last 8 stitches and pulling tight, like at the top of a hat. That’s a lot of tension on one little bit of yarn at the toe, a well-worn spot on the foot. I tried to compensate this time by weaving the end in further, but I realize as I write this that that probably won’t make much difference. The issue is rubbing and tension on that one gathered point that makes the yarn in the point give out. Maybe it would help if I put the yarn through the last 8 stitches twice? Maybe she said to do that and I ignored it.
Anyway, I love them. And they are not Steelers socks, thank you. That’s blue. (Not that I wouldn’t knit Steelers socks. I would, but not until after I knit myself about twelve pairs of Redskins socks.)
Naomi enjoyed this pair very much, and wanted to know when she was getting her own miniaturized set.
I’m afraid you’re not, little dearie. But you are getting something even more interesting. A little tiny project that is quickly unfolding into something grand. Can you guess what these are?