Archive for the 'completed projects' Category


May 9, 2011

and after.

Here’s a photo of our stairs from 2008:

Here’s the photo of our stairs from a few weeks ago:

Here’s a photo of our stairs from last week:

The two upstairs bedrooms underwent a similar transformation. We pulled the carpet and the RNK put in Douglas Fir plank floors. I repainted with a nice light tan and a darker contrast color. Biscuit and Bagel are the paint color names, and to my way of thinking, the images they conjure are pretty accurate. I’m happy. Only one item left to deal with. I need to swap out the light fixtures in both rooms and the hallway.

I’ve moved my office back upstairs and it really feels nice to be working in such a clean and bright space. Finally!

The project has taken longer and has eaten up a lot of our leisure time. Thankfully, it’s over now. Perhaps I can get on with some other things (like knitting!) again.


I am repentant

February 19, 2011

It was pointed out to me by a few kind readers that the JBW contest award skeins of Koigu in pink are indeed perfect for not only the five, six and seven-year-old girls in my life (and I should knit something for them); but, it is also appropriate for several of the 40-something-year-old girlfriends in my life (and I should knit something for them). Alas, I have no five, six or seven-year-old girls in my life.

Apparently, the 40-something age group has slow reflexes. Before anyone could convince me to knit something for them, I had already received an offer to trade from one of the contest winners!

Furthermore, I just stumbled across this interesting post on Knit Buddies about the color of the year.

None-the-less, the pink left the building. It winged its way to the winner of Kim’s yarn, who has a six-year-old granddaughter. In return, I got some lovely purple Koigu. No muted tones for me!

I am happy to report that finally, I finished Mendocino. I look like a cow in it. But hey, you can’t have everything. It is warm, it’s comfortable and it fits. It’s just that the heavily textured cable patterns on the tits and back add a little girth in a most unflattering way. This is one of those knits that would look great on a flat-chested twig of a girl. Wouldn’t they all?

Let me point out that the color is off in all but the very last picture. I did not knit a pink sweater. Let me be very, very clear about that. And no, I am not happy having my picture taken. Ever.

I also finished a second Spiralucious exactly like the one I gave Chris last fall. Another one, just like the other one. Well, two rows short of the last full pattern repeat before I started the edging because I would have run out of yarn otherwise.

Here’s what the other one looked like:

Ok, sorry, bad joke that no one got except for me. That’s the same one photographed twice. But really, it is exactly what the other one looked like.

Later, dudes.

More craptastic photos and uninspired text

December 3, 2010

The RNK and I got back a few days ago from a trip to visit my mom for Thanksgiving. Since mom’s birthday is December 7, I took her birthday gift with me: two shawlettes from Romi Hill’s 7 Small Shawls.

I gave her the Maia Shoulderette and Celaeno. If you’ve been reading, you’ve seen pictures of Maia and you’ve heard the trauma that went along with that knit. You haven’t seen Celaeno.

My mom seemed to like Celaeno best. She squirreled both shawls away as soon as she unwrapped them. I wasn’t sure how to interpret that. I had hoped she would put at least one of them out where she could use it when she watches TV. Her television is in a finished basement room and in spite of a gas fireplace near where she sits, it can get cold down there in the winter. Hence the whole idea behind the gift.

I had a hard time getting her to bring the shawls back out so I could photograph Celaeno. I knit this shawl with a skein of “sparkle” yarn and when it was finished, I dyed it black with purple overtones. The pattern calls for beads. There was no way on earth I was going to complete a beaded shawl in time for the trip, so I hoped the sparkles would help add the bling the shawl needed to tie it together with Romi’s design inspiration. Stars. Constellations. To be precise, “the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology — nymph companions of Artemis turned into stars to save them from Orion’s pursuit.”

(Pardon the pink rug in the background. It’s hard to find anything in my mom’s house that doesn’t have a pink background.)

I also completed a red scarf in brown for the Red Scarf Project. I had hoped to get two done as car knitting; but, made a miscalculation on the amount of yarn needed. Enough yarn for one scarf and only part of a second. I had taken another project with me and I cast it on instead. More about this project after Christmas. After getting started on this project I realized it was a good thing I didn’t try to fit another scarf in anyway or the secret Christmas knitting would never get finished on time.

I wish I had a more inspired post for you, especially since it’s been so many days since I last posted. I am just not feeling the love for anything right now, this in spite of the fact the life is moving along rather smoothly these days. I don’t know what it is. Do you ever feel out of sorts even with things are going well? How do you break the funk-mood?

I wish I could turn this blah mood into inspiration as gifted writers so often are able to do. But no; no gifted writing here. Major suckage instead.

Meanwhile, if you see my muse, send her home. We miss her very much.

No dramas

November 9, 2010

The Holden Shawlette was a lovely undramatic knit after all the trauma with Maia. Just a few nights of knitting and voilà:

Sorry about the incredibly bad photography today. I’m in a funk and it seems to be coming through on everything I do today. Thank goodness I am not working on any knitting or I would be frogging tomorrow. Guaranteed.


This is one of those projects that looks totally uninspired on the needles. It doesn’t really take on any allure whatsoever until you get it blocked and around your neck. Then, little Holden takes on a life of it’s own and begins to shine.

I know better than to try one of those mirrors shots to show you what I mean. At least today anyway. You’ll have to use your imagination. Or better yet, just grab the free pattern from Ravelry and cast on.

Designer Mindy Wilkes tells us the story behind the pattern name: Holden Beach in North Carolina. I didn’t really think much I picked up the skein of Sheepaints Bamboolaine that I had tried to use to finish Maia. It was wound, it was sitting there, needles were sitting there and the pattern was sitting there. I just picked the yarn and needles up and started knitting without much thought. Serendipity.

The yarn I used, even though my craptastic photos don’t show it, has all the colors of sea foam on the beach: some green, some medium blues, some pale blues but not enough of anything to overwhelm the knitting. It really was a lovely choice for this pattern.

I had enough yarn to do one extra half pattern repeat without excessive worry during the bind-off. I have a tiny little ball of yarn left. Perhaps, a Minor Minion is in my future.

What’s next? I should be finishing Rosarie in Blue. But, maybe another shawlette will fall onto the knitting needles and stab itself. Or maybe a red scarf. Still time to get one or two done. Any suggestions? What should I knit next?

The Iron Heel

October 13, 2010

I have been on a quest for a sturdy, easy to knit heel, ever since one of my first pairs of hand-knitted socks developed a hole.

I’ve tried using reinforcing thread on the bottom where I tend to wear through my socks. To avoid the thread going all the way around the sock, I was knitting across the heel, then pulling out a loop of reinforcing thread to use to knit across for every other row. I did that on several pairs. It works. It’s a PITA.

Then, I started experimenting with different heel types and different heel shapes. I was trying out a German heel one morning several months ago when inspiration hit. I quickly cast on for another pair of socks to try out my idea.

I made rapid progress on the first sock until I ran into an obstacle. When the heel is reversed with the gusset on the ankle instead of near the arch of the foot, the sock becomes too difficult to slip on the foot. Some tinkering required. The socks were set aside and other projects, including a little gift scarf, stepped in line.

Then we moved and knitting was set aside while we settled into the new/old house. Now, we’re situated and I’m whittling away at that stack of unfinished projects so that I can get back to my much preferred knitting monogamy. First Maia. Now, voila! Iron heel socks completed.

As you can see, I can get them on my feet. They fit well. The heel is simple to work with reinforcing thread and it cups the heel nicely.

Here’s how I worked the heel. I use a set of 5 dpn for my sock knitting. I split stitches evenly across the needles. You will need to adjust if you do something different, like magic loop or two circulars.

As you can see in the photos, the entire heel zone, from right behind the arch of the foot to the base of the ankle has been knit in a knit slip pattern with reinforcing thread. I continued the slip stitch sock heel pattern to the end of the gusset decreases. You could use stockinette and that would work out nicely too. Eye of the partridge heel stitch would also work, but would be a bit more complicated when you start to turn the heel.

To complete the heel, the sock is knitted toe-up until the foot is approximately 2 inches shorter than the total desired foot length. Then, work the heel flap using half the stitches as you normally would on a top-down heel-flap sock. This is where I added in the reinforcing thread. I worked back and forth on two needles, with the top of the foot, or instep stitches, just hanging out and being ignored on the other two needles.

Once the heel flap reaches the desired length — the total foot length you need — you will determine the stitch count for a third of the stitches. If you have 64 stitches around the entire sock, and you are working 32 stitches across the heel flap, as I did on this sock, split the heel flap stitches (in your mind) into three approximately equal sections: 11, 10, 11 stitches.

Now, work the 11 stitches across section 1, then work 9 of the stitches in section 2. Don’t knit the last stitch in section 2; instead, slip it, knit the first stitch in section 3, pass the slipped stitch over and turn the work. (Or, work an SSK if that’s your preference.)

{Note: I think you could adjust the way you split the stitches into thirds if you wanted a wider heel cup. However, that would require some adjustments to the number of rows between decreases as you work up the back of the ankle. I find that this narrow heel back fits very comfortably on my foot but of course, you may like something different.}

You will now purl across section two. Again, don’t purl the last stitch. Instead, purl it together with the adjacent stitch in section 1. Turn work, knit across to the last stitch, slip it, knit the first stitch in section 3, PSSO, turn, purl back, etc.

I maintained the slip stitch heel pattern, fitting in the heel stitch pattern’s slip, knit, psso and p2tog as best as I could. Eventually, you will eat up all the stitches on the two side sections of the heel flap and you will have an entirely reinforced heel cup. Cut your reinforcing thread, leaving a tail about three inches long. I work this tail into the knitting on the next row so I have less finishing to do when the sock is completed.

Now, pick up stitches as you normally would for a sock gusset (I grabbed 22 on each side) and start working all the way around the sock again, bringing the instep needles back into play. I maintained the slip stitch heel pattern on the two heel needles and maintained the sock pattern, which in this case was simply stockinette with an expansion joint — more on this later — on the two instep needles

Instead of working gusset decreases every other row as is typical on most socks, work the decreases on every third row. I found it looks nicer if (after you have picked up the stitches and worked a row all the way around in the back of the stitch, then worked another row all the way around in pattern) to start the decreases one stitch in from the end of each of the heel needles. I used a k2tog on one side and an ssk on the other. Continue to decrease every third row until you are back to your original stitch count.

Back to that expansion joint. On this pair of socks, I incorporated one 2-purl rib on either side of the the instep needles, starting at the end of the toe and continuing up the entire foot of the sock. I feel this helps the sock fit the entire foot quite smoothly. I used the expansion joint as the starting point for a simple diamond pattern in purl stitches on the leg of the sock. It was a simple way to give the top of this sock some interest without competing with the stripes of my (very own) hand-dyed yarn.

Jakob just had to get in on this photo shoot. Apparently, he felt he needed some credit for me inventing this heel. He likes to sit next to me on the sofa every morning for some mornin’-lovin’ and he was sitting next to me when I was working on the inspiration sock. So, thanks Bud.

If you find these instructions as clear as mud, let me know and I’ll try to help you out. I highly recommend trying this idea out if you are the type who wears out heels first and who wants your hand-knit socks to last as long as possible.

Next up,

September 28, 2010

the fill-in knit. I was having difficulty concentrating on the pattern for Maia, the small shoulderette I was working on during the move. The pattern isn’t difficult; the move was.

During this same time, I went in to the Yarn Gallery and Kim gave me a lovely present, a US 5 Signature cable needle. WOOTT!!! I was admiring the needles, looked up and across the room, there was a blue skein of yarn in one of her “odd lot” baskets that screamed out to me. I went over to pick it up, and weirdly, it was a skein I had asked her to consign for me. Serendipity. It went back into the knitting bag and on the drive back up to the house we were moving out of, I started playing.

No pattern, no stress, just easy knitting. After I got home, I ended up starting over with a clearer vision in my head. A few rows into it, I grabbed one of Walker’s stitch dictionaries and found a simple pattern stitch. A few days later, I grabbed Nancy Bush’s Estonian Shawls book, and saw a couple other stitch patterns I liked. I sort of mimicked one of the shawls in the book. The result:

It’s extremely small for a shawl, but it works well with a pin holding it closed and it will look cute with my winter coat. I’m pleased. Less pleased with Maia. I discovered the trauma of the move had affected me more than I initially thought. I had difficulty counting to four.

I thought I was following the pattern: four repeats then start the edge. I had enough yarn for four repeats. Unfortunately, in spite of checking over and over and over, I knitted five repeats. I looked on Ravelry and decided I might have enough yarn anyway and I forged ahead with the edge pattern.

As you would suspect, I ran out of yarn just five rows short of completing the entire pattern as written. At least the point of the leaf/arrow shape was finished and there was, I thought, enough yarn left for the a single bind off row. So, I decided just to end the pattern there. But, as you would suspect, I ran out of yarn just after binding off half of the shoulderette.

I was cleaning the house for another showing (yes, we are trying to sell this house too). While in the yarn loft trying to straighten things out a bit, I took a peek in a sock bin to see if there was something similar. A pale blue merino/bamboo fingering matched the Panda Toes well enough in color to try it. However, I’m not very happy with the results.

What do you think? Leave it and try to block it so that the bind-off doesn’t show as much, block it and gift it to a non-knitter, rip it back a full repeat and try again, search for a better match and finish the entire pattern, rip back with the yarn I have and alternate between the two different skeins and finish the entire pattern, or just burn it? So many choices.

Everything is up-side-down

July 16, 2010

but at least it’s not inside out or backwards too. I need to explain myself so you understand where I’m coming from.

A while back, I knitted a pair of socks loosely based upon Lucy Neatby’s Mermaid pattern. Sometimes, in the morning, when I’m having a really hard time waking up, I’ll sit down with a simple knitting project and look at it. Just look. Not knit. In my half wakefulness, even I know that trying to knit is a dumb idea.

So, not knitting, I pulled that sock onto my foot. While I was looking at it, I couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on. I am really stupid when I first wake up.

It’s a top-down pattern, and while my heel fit nicely in the heel cup, my toes stuck out a gaping hole — a hole unadorned with knitting needles. Slowly, it dawned on me. I had pulled the sock on up-side-down and had my toes pointing out the ankle end of the sock. The soon to become toe of the sock was right there, around my ankle.

And in my morning stupor it also occurred to me that the particular heel I had chosen, a German heel from a pattern now unavailable in English (I can’t find it anyway. Here’s the link to the German version.) from Austermann, worked beautifully in the opposite direction and afforded the knitter the opportunity to knit an entire heel back and forth. The epiphany here (that pesky word again*) is that when the entire heel is knit back and forth, reinforcing thread can be added in with no fiddling what so ever. None.

If you knit the heel right-side-up with reinforcing thread, at least to my way of thinking, you end up with a large area of reinforcement at the back of your foot where it becomes bulky in your shoe and very little reinforcement under your heel, the spot where I wear my socks out.

Some photos would do a world of good to explain what I’m talking about. Here’s the heel in question. First a shot of the epiphany heel from the side.

Next, a shot of the epiphany heel from the bottom. Can you picture how, with perhaps a few less stitches, that “heel” would sit nicely around the ankle bone? Well, it did when I had the sock on up-side-down. Very well indeed. Which is why I was so confused that morning. It fit like it was made for me. (insert throat-clearing noise here)

Excited about the idea of easy “iron heel” socks, I started to knit another pair of Mermaid-similar socks using the same yarn. But, I wanted the spirals to go in opposite directions and I didn’t want to knit backwards, the one foolproof way I know to accomplish that feat. After a bazillion and one experiments, I had another little epiphany. Knit the pattern inside out. Then it will spiral the other way. It doesn’t look perfect, but that’s what I did.

On the reverse spiral sock, it’s simply a matter of turning knits into purls and knit two togethers into purl two togethers. I may not have the tension quite right, but it really does look pretty good when it’s stretched out and on my foot.

When I got to the heel, the inside out part combined with the upside down part — which really isn’t upside down at all, it just looks that way — threw me for a loop. I had to put it aside for a while. I should have just gone straight to the other sock, the one that’s knitted right-side-out. But I didn’t. I wadded it all up and threw it in a knitting bag and hid it in the closet. Oh yes, I am very mature.

Meanwhile, I dyed a bunch of yarn. I wanted to see how it knitted up, so I started another toe up sock with my modified iron heel and have almost completed the gusset decreases on this little baby.

You might notice a line running down the side of the foot. That’s another little epiphany I had back on the Japanese Fan pattern socks I knit. I call it the expansion joint. After completing the toe, I turned two of the knit stitches into two purl stitches on either side of the foot. These stitches are placed on the edges of the top side of the sock, just above the sole. The expansion joint gives just enough stretch to make the socks fit snugly over every bump and bulge on the foot without any tightness. It might not work with every pattern, but for the many sock patterns where the sole is all stockinette and the top is patterned, it is a nice little addition.

The entire heel cup has reinforcing thread. It goes quite quickly. No need to fiddle about. Just add it in when you start the heel flap. Continue it around when you turn the heel. I also continued the heel stitch pattern up the back. I thought this might make a nice cushioned spot under the heel of my foot. I’ll finish the last couple of decreases and switch to a circular needle to try them on. I think though, it’s going to be nice.

And in closing, here’s a little glam shot of the yarn I dyed, the very cool nostepinne I got as a gift from Kim and the foot of the sock.

The nostepinne is amazing. It makes a wonderfully coherent yarn ball that stays together much better than the machine-wound ones I’ve made. And it’s cute. Cute counts for a lot.

Do you like my iron heel? I would be interested in your thoughts.

Should I have dropped the reinforcing yarn, but continued the heel stitch up the back of the ankle to the end of the gusset decreases? I may rip it out and try that to see how it looks.

*Someday, I’m going to do one of those word map things again where the size of the word in the word map reflects the number of uses, and epiphany is going to stand out in huge big letters. Cool.

Citron and Clapotis

June 25, 2010

Amid my anguish at the oil spill, disgust at the U.S. political system, fear of our current Supreme Court and attempt to keep all of that in perspective by engulfing myself in the enjoyment of summer, there has been knitting. First, another Clapotis. Then, Citron.

Knitting one Clapotis wasn’t enough for me. I know some people report taking months, if not years, to complete the scarf. However, as soon as I finished the first one, it occurred to me that there was not, anywhere in the universe, a better vacation knitting project. Simple. Rewarding. Easy to pack. Easy to pick up and put down on a whim.

I started a week before we left on our two-week vacation. I wanted to get through the increase section so I could weigh out the yarn and set the same amount aside on the other end of the ball for the decrease sections. On this second version, I twisted the stitch on either side of the dropped stitch on both the knit and purl sides of the pattern and I think it made a crisper line. On both, I purled the dropped stitch in lieu of markers.

I decided to block it much less severely than the first. I thought it would be nice to have the two variations. After it dried though, I wasn’t sure I liked this version and was planning to reblock it — until today. I took it out to the bench in the courtyard to take some photos for you.

While I was photographing it, I made a discovery. No matter how it falls, it looks nice. I have decided to leave it as it is. See:

I finished it the day before we came home from our trip. I cast on for Citron that same day. If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you know that Citron and I didn’t get along so well. I misread the pattern a few times. I think of mine as Kelp —

with Bubbles.

Obviously, there was a little misinterpretation with the m1. That and a miscounting error that resulted in slightly wider ruched bands which then required a longer ruffle. I still like it. And indeed, it would have been too small without the extra rows I accidentally added.

What’s next? Probably finishing a pair of socks, then back to Rosarie in Blue. Or, can you suggest something that I might enjoy better for summer knitting? The idea of having a lap-full of wool doesn’t hold much appeal on a warm summer day.

That damn Citron of mine.

June 21, 2010

Or perhaps I should be calling it Kelp. Because of the colors and the bubbles. It’s a cute little free pattern from Knitty. Should be quite easy. I took it on our vacation as mindless knitting.

I got about three and a half of the body repeats done on the trip. Have been slowly working on it here at home. I was on the 14th row of the 5th, and last, repeat when I found myself idly wondering yet again, “I wonder why the yarn overs don’t show up in the pictures on the pattern.” Idle wondering, knitting, more picture looking, knitting. And then it hit me. After completing 13 of the 14 increase rows in this pattern.

There are no yarn overs in Citron. The pattern quite clearly calls for “m1.” Oh well. Mine has bubbles. Kelp. It was, after all, a vacation by the sea.

It all goes to show, it’s pretty easy to delude ourselves. Here it was, right in black and white in front of me, clear as day. I read “m1” and “yo” not once, not twice, but dozens and dozens of times.

Is this human nature? Are we unable to see the world through the fog of our minds? How many other things in the world don’t I “see” because my brain is programed for a different reality? We share a lot with the ostrich in this regard, the ability to put our head in the sand and pretend the tough, scary things aren’t really out there. Not that m1 are so tough and scary. It seems fair to extrapolate though, if what’s going on in this country is any indication.

Curious, isn’t it?

The horse

May 11, 2010

had a bump under his tail when I bought him. The vet said, “Let it be; but, call me if it changes.”

Seven years later, it changed. Instead of one bump, there were three. These bumps are melanomas. I called the vet and asked him to come take a look. He did. Oscar was a total jerk that day, and while we were trying to get him to stand still, I casually mentioned he had a bit of a “wart” in his mane too.

The vet took one feel and said, “We need to get that out.”

It’s not a wart, it’s also a melanoma and a quick growing one since it grew in just a year’s time. They have been removed and he’s on some drugs now to prevent their regrowth. All is good with the horse for now.

There has been knitting:

I made my first Clapotis. I have no idea how to say that. I use the Midwestern pronunciation which phonetically equates to “clap oat is” (three distinct syllables with no clear accent on any one of them). Clearly wrong. But there you have it. Hooked on phonics.

I purchased some stainless steel welding rods and used these for blocking:

I read that it’s a good idea to use a file to smooth the ends into points. I didn’t do that. I wanted to see how these welding rods worked for blocking first. They are brilliant.

It might have been easier with points on the ends, but it certainly wasn’t hard to thread the rods through just like they are. If I ever get really bored and can’t figure out what to do with myself someday, I’ll use a file to smooth the ends. In other words, not going to happen anytime soon.

I got inspired to knit the ubiquitous clap oat is thanks to Books & Hooks & Sticks. I mentioned to her I was in a bit of a knitting funk and she said she was going to knit yet her third clap oat is, suggesting it was a sure-fire way to get the mojo back. It worked!

Bev isn’t the only new friend I’ve been chatting with. Here’s the new gang:

I just love these little guys: Cassin’s finch and perhaps a Pine Siskin or two. The way they poke their heads up over the window sill to give me the “eye” just cracks me up.

I’m not sure, but I think they are keeping an eye out on my work habits. Have they embarrassed me into shaping up and working faster? Nope. I just sit and watch them. It all started when I put seeds on my window sill because of the wind. It just didn’t seem right to make them perch there on the feeder when it was swinging all crazybob out there. But it’s turned into an event that all of us seem to enjoy immensely. Until the cat shows up. She has been banished to the garage again today for bird stalking.

I even had a few new (to me) birds visiting the feeder yesterday and today. First, a black-headed grosbeak.

Then today, a rose-breasted grosbeak.

I wish I could get a video of all the birds at the feeders. It’s very cool. Even a non-birder, as I formerly was, gets inspired by the variety and sheer number of birds in this pinyon juniper forest. Watching the interaction between species and within species has been interesting and entertaining. No doubt, I will be inflicting more bird photos on you in the future! Brace yourselves.