Archive for the 'knitting accessories' Category

Why not me?

June 24, 2009

Lately, it seems, every time I turn around, another knitter has done a review of the infamous Signature needles. So why not me? After I re-confiscated the neon socks from baggage services at the airport in Melbourne, I packed them away until I got settled into the house near Sorell. Then, I put away the offending Clover bamboo needles and pulled out the spiffy new Signature US0 (2.0 mm) needles I bought just before I left.

I swore I would never pay this much for knitting needles. And, given it to do over again, I probably would not. I know, I know. Everyone raves about them. The do have many nice features. Unlike the newer Prym I have used, every needle is the same on both ends. In other words, all the points everywhere are delightfully identical. This pleases me.

I have a set of Inox size 2.0 mm I purchased about 20 years ago, and they too are very similar from end to end and from needle to needle. You can imagine my displeasure with the resident non-knitter sat on them and bent one. He did his best to restore it to a more or less straight condition. Mostly I don’t notice the kink and I guard them very closely now.

More recently (recently being about a year and a half ago), I purchased an ungodly number of Pony needles from Morris & Sons in Sydney (formerly Tapestry Craft). I bought two of every size from 1.25 mm up to 3.0 mm. The ones below size 2.0 are stainless steel and in comparison to the Signatures, I don’t see a huge difference. I think you can get stainless in some of the larger sizes too. I haven’t explored that option yet.

There are some differences, especially at larger needle sizes. Keep in mind, that I’m only looking at 5-needle sets of double points in an 8-inch length in sizes 2.5 mm and smaller.
1. The Pony needles do not have the size etched onto the needle.
2. The Pony points are almost as pointy, but they have a much sharper taper. In other words, they get bigger faster. The more gradual taper on the Signatures makes it easier to work some stitches because you have a little more room for maneuvering.
3. The tips on the Signatures stay just as pointy as the needles get larger in size and the Ponys do not. The bigger Pony needles have blunter tips.
4. The Signatures have micro-grooves along the needle that seem to increase their “cling.” They don’t fall out of the yarn as easily as the Pony needles do.

However, the Pony’s have a huge advantage. Cost. Granted I spent about $110 when I ordered them. However, I got about 16 5-needle sets of the 8-inch double points. Part of the expense was shipping from Sydney to Colorado. I have two of every size, which allows me to work two socks at once. More or less anyway. I like that.

I spent about the same on the Signatures. I have two sets. A 2.0 and a 2.25 mm.

This photo shows the 1.75 mm less-tapered Pony stainless steel (left) vs the Signature 2.0 stainless steel (right).
ponyvssignature

This photo shows the Pony 2.0, 2.25, Signature 2.25, Pony 2.5 from bottom to top.

pony2

Bottom line: If you have the extra cash and you really want to pamper yourself, the Signatures are a great choice. They would be an especially good choice if you are interested in really sharp tips in larger needle sizes. But, if you are on a budget and the needles you use are important, but not overwhelmingly so, you might find some other options out there that will do you good and still leave you with enough left over cash to buy some luxury yarn.

I don’t know. Call me a cheapskate. I’ld rather spend my money on yarn. I guess it’s all a matter of priorities.

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Been to any slumber parties lately?

March 25, 2009

I have. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a slumber party arranged by one of my friend’s husbands for her birthday. It really was sweet. He invited several of her girlfriends, then he arranged to stay with one of the lady’s husbands, leaving the house to the “girls.” What a guy!

It’s a whole different animal, a slumber party among 50 year olds. The most obvious difference was that everyone went to bed by 11:30. When I was a young pup, anyone at a slumber party who went to bed before 3:30 a.m. would have been considered a light-weight and would have likely suffered the consequences via a frozen bra or some other prank.

Next up, no one thought it was unusual or exceptional to have a few bottles of wine on hand. Most of us brought one and consequently, only a few bottles were opened. Most went home unopened the following day.

No one wanted to know who had started having periods; but, rather, who had stopped. “How do you deal with hot flashes” seemed to be an evening theme.

There was plenty of “girly” activity. Nail painting, tarot cards, a ojiua board was even available — although no one expressed a keen desire to obtain information from the other side regarding their latest crush. In fact, the oracle and divination questions had a lot less to do with the opposite sex than they did with life in general.

We ate “stinky” cheese and gourmet crackers. One ambitious soul — the youngest of the group at a mere 45 — cooked a delicious shrimp pasta based upon a recipe she has made her own after regular travels in Italy. She goes there a few times a year for work. Another served a delightful raw kale salad based upon an Esalen Institute recipe. She lived in California for many years and got the recipe from a friend who frequented Esalen.

Who would have ever thought this group of formerly gangly long-legged, brace-toothed young girls could have become such worldly creatures? Certainly, I’m sure none of us could have envisioned this slumber party 35 years ago.

My friend’s house sits in a spectacular location. While most of the girls took off on a short walk the following morning, I stayed behind to chat with the oldest of the group. At nearly 60, Kim Lacy is an extremely talented fiber artist. Even her house is a work of art. Kim and I talked fibers, knitting, and quilting while I shopped. I came home with one of her designs in a perfect size to serve as a sock knitting bag:

Kim works with several world-class wildlife photographers who allow her to use their images. This particular image, a whooping crane, was taken in Minnesota, I believe. She uses Photoshop to posterize and adjust the contrast, then tackles a rather involved printing process to print the adjusted images on muslin.

Next, her artistry kicks in. Using multicolored rayon thread, she “draws” with her sewing machine on the image, and quilts the bags using shapes inspired by those of the image itself. Each bag is a work of art. Unique. Interesting. Many incorporate exquisite details.

The coordinating lining really attracted me to this particular bag. A shimmery copper number was also in the running. But I just loved this interior:

My photography does not do Kim’s work justice. I tried to find a web page showing her work. I believe she sells through some galleries near Loveland, Colorado. However, I couldn’t find any. If you are interested, let me know and I’ll find out if she sells on line. This woman “needs” an Etsy shop!

Photo spree of yarn spree

July 14, 2008

Even though work has been hectic and I haven’t had much time to post, that hasn’t kept me from having a few yarn sprees. The highlight took place on a trip to St. Louis to visit mom. We went to three yarn stores: Knit and Caboodle in downtown St. Charles, a small knit shop very close to my mom’s house where I bought her some nice needles and . . . drum roll please . . . The Loopy Ewe!!!

I was too excited to remember to take my Little Loopy inside for pictures and I had a hard time conversing with people–such a shame because everyone was so nice!! I was so overwhelmed at all the choices. Take a nerdy, computer-geek knitter into a the mecca of sock knitting and the ability to interact like a normal human being vanishes. Oh well. As you can see, the inability to speak does not correlate with an inability to shop.

Shopping at The Loopy Ewe

I got some lovely Collinette merino blend and Claudia Handpaints sock yarn at Knit and Caboodle. [Note: Opal’s tail in the photo. She can’t stand me paying attention to anything other than her!]

Shopping at The Loopy Ewe

There are a couple of skeins not shown because these are for Chris in Germany and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. Chris is quite an enabler. She told me about The Knitting Goddess in the UK who has a lovely Yak/Merino sock yarn (the three skeins on the left). She also packages up same difference yarn which has two smaller skeins in the same colors but different (two same difference yarns shown on the right).

Goddess Knits

I also heard through one of my knitting lists about a special sale on qiviut/merino at Cottage Craft Angora Mills in Quebec. I hope I have enough to make a sweater:

Qiviut/Merino blend

Oh dear, when I went to check their URL I saw that they now have a qiviut/angora blend special introductory offer. Sounds wickedly nice!

And finally, there was a fiber festival this past weekend just a few miles from home and I came home a happy shopper with yarn, books, heel salve, patterns and gadgets. How’s that for a home-town spree in the yarn-barren San Luis Valley!

Great prices!

Lovely yarns from Crazy Monkey Creations in Colorado Springs!

They, Crazy Monkey Creations, sold the two big 840 yard skeins as closeouts for $6 each! The blue one is an alpaca blend. I really liked the feel of their 65% Merino/35% bamboo sock yarn too. What fun!

Great sale from a store originally located in Winslow,AZ.

What more could a knitter need?

Lest you think I have not been knitting, here’s the latest two pairs of socks:

Kroy Patton in blues

Rainy Day Lace Socks in KTS4 Yarn from KIM!! She's the best.

This last pair is a DK weight merino I received from Kim in the Knitter’s Tea Swap 4. The pattern is Rainy Day Lace from MagKnits. I tried to find the link for you because this is a fun pattern to knit. Alas, my google skills are weak this morning. I’ll see if I can find it and post it later.

I really enjoyed the knitting with the colors in Kim’s yarn. She did a great job of dyeing this skien. The picture just doesn’t do it justice. I picked the Rainy Day pattern because all the soft blues, grays, purples and greens reminded me of light summer rain on garden flowers. I am thinking of these as “slipper” socks because they are so soft and cushy. I may even try to find some soles to sew on to protect them so they last a long time.

Well, the most exciting knitting project will have to be on hold for later this week. A clue: it involves a small dog and a sweater.

The ever-questioning mind

April 18, 2008

As promised, pictures of the sweater:
Dream in Color Classy Loopy Ewe KAL

Isn’t that the cutest little tote from The Loopy Ewe?

As you can see, the color of the sweater changes considerably in different lights:
DIC KAL

And the Kid Seta really makes a difference in the overall effect:
DIC KAL

I’ll start the sleeves tonight. I think I’ll use magic loop and knit both sleeves at the same time.

Here’s a question for all you expert knitters out there. I’ve read that you should never Kitchner shoulder seams because shoulders require greater strength. However, it seems to me that the Kitchner stitch is actually a duplicate of knitting—just “knitting” using a different technique.

So why would this row of stitches be any less strong than any other row of knitting? Why would you need greater strength in that particular row as opposed to any other row of knitting near the shoulders? If there is a problem with strength, and you create this really strong seam, wouldn’t you just shift any “weakness” problems to the rows adjacent to the shoulder seam?

This has really been puzzling me. I think having as few seams as possible in the sweater is a good thing because:
1. I think that poorly-done seams can make even a well-knit sweater look homemade (vs. handmade). In my opinion, seams that are anything less than professional take the whole garment down a notch or two.
2. There will be less bulk and bumps and potential “rubby” spots on the inside that might otherwise bother the person who wears the sweater (ie. me).
3. I hate sewing seams.

Shoulders seams are about the most visible seams on a sweater. Really now, how many people walk around with their arms in the air so you can see the side and under-arm seams? Given the visibility of shoulder seams, these seem to be prime candidates for Kitchner to me.

Anyway, I would appreciate the thoughts of all you out there who actually read this blog and who have more sweater knitting experience than me. And that’s not hard. This is my second sweater, the first being started in something like 1982 and is still awaiting some hemming before being worn.

By the way, I Kitchnered the shoulders seams on that one.

Back at work; but not working

April 3, 2008

As much as I love traveling, there are a few things I hate. You know–dealing with all the stuff you have to do before you go. For me that involves:

Horses. (Where can they safely stay without needing food or water delivered daily? Thankfully the neighbor offered pasture which helped their brains after a long winter in the coral and also took care of their bodies!)

Chickens. (I gave the last four to the Amish boy who watched them for me last year–he likes chickens as much as I do–sad to have them gone forever but good that they are in a nice home. I just didn’t have time to rebuild the side of their pen that the snow took out this winter and I KNOW the fox would have eaten them if the girls strayed from their electric-fence protected enclosure.)

Cat. (She had to live alone in her room with a giant-sized litter box and self watering and feeding containers. After seven days, Godzilla-aka Ida Rose-the cat was ready to go outside for a while! I couldn’t believe how HUGE she was.)

Dogs. (They went to the Dog Days Inn in Alamosa, which turned out to be great!)

Work. (I had to deal with last minute projects and make sure clients knew I would be gone.)

Packing. (What to take. How many shoes. How much room to leave for wine-which ended up being totally unnecessary since we just had most of it shipped so we didn’t have to deal with it. Only bad part is that it still hasn’t arrived yet.)

and

yada yada yada. You know. All the details.

Then you go. And it’s great. You see wonderful things.

View of the N. California coast

Calla lilies naturalized all over the place!

And you drink some good wine:
http://www.maplecreekwine.com/
http://www.papapietro-perry.com/

And you find some pretty sock yarn at the yarn stores along the way:
Trekking pro natura and two skeins of Colinette Jitterbug

This picture doesn’t do the Trekking justice. It is a wool/bamboo blend in denim shades. Yummy. And of course the Colinette Jitterbug is incredibly gorgeous.

And you use the cutest little HiyaHiya circular needles imaginable to get around TSA’s restrictions on metal knitting needles.

Milanese Lace socks in Austermann

Hmmm. Too small to see clearly in that picture. Let me try again:

HiyaHiya US0 9-inch circular needle

Can you believe I was actually able to knit through the heel turn with these 9-inch circular needles? From needle tip to cable join is only 1.85 inches long. The actual bamboo needle segment is only 1.5 inches long. The entire circular actually measures 9.25 inches.

It was a challenge and I couldn’t wait to get this pair back on my 8-inch double points. But, it was kind of fun to knit with needles this small. Great airplane solution and I enjoyed stretching my ability some.

I even got a pair of socks started on the way home with the Zitron Lifestyles yarn I bought while we were in California:

My very own pattern!

After the not-so-scratchy socks, I have completely gotten over my fear of sock knitting sans pattern. I bravely embarked upon this pair with a nod from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Knitter’s Almanac.” I used a cable pattern she mentioned in that book to embellish the sides of this pair of socks. I think it is quite successful so far. They have some interest without too much competition to the lovely self-patterning/striping yarn. I got another quick nod from The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook on the heel and I have invented my own way (ie not so elegant yet–but I’m working on it) of adding in reinforcement to the bottom of the heel where I always wear my socks out first.

So many good things about vacations.

However, the problem with vacations for me happens when I get home. Getting back to work. I loose my mojo.

I am at work. I am at my desk. I have everything open to where it should be and I have all the notes I need in front of me. But for the life of me, I can’t get anything done.

Vacation hangover perhaps?

Some things are easier than others

March 11, 2008

I don’t know why that last pair of socks were so hard. No worries now though. They’ve been frogged and the yarn is resting. Meanwhile, I wait, and wait, and wait for the KnitPicks needles to arrive. I need them for The Loopy Ewe Dream In Color Sweater KAL.

I presume that most every one who is participating in this KAL has their yarn and has started now-except me. I ordered the needles on 27 February. I have been checking the package’s progress. It went from Ohio to Colorado to Ohio to Colorado and then it hit the wall. Somewhere in Denver.

The needles were supposed to be delivered on Saturday and I made a special trip in to town to the post office to pick them up. But, they weren’t there. I called yesterday to see what is going on and KnitPicks told me they can’t do anything about the delay until Thursday. On Thursday, if I still haven’t gotten them, they will reship the order. Great. And how many days will that take?

While the sweater languishes, I decided to “play” with some other yarn I wound up last August or so in preparation for the resident non-knitter’s socks. Back then, when I started to cast this yarn on, he told me there was no way he could possibly wear socks made from anything this rough and scratchy. Hmmm. This is Austermann Step infused with jojoba and aloe vera. It’s a delight to work with and is very soft. I could see the challenge facing me with his socks. Oh well, they’ll have to be my socks. bummer. yeah. real upset.

Anyway, the wound balls sat into rest mode until this past weekend. On Friday, bored with the complete and total lack of sweater progress, I cast on 68 stitches and started a 1-stitch ribbing. Why 68? I don’t really know. I had looked at some pattern that used 2 mm needles and that’s what it called for. I did an inch of K1P1 ribbing. Looked OK. Switched to cable needle and tried them on. Fit over heel.

Good.

Now that I had started, I decided to look for a pattern. I discovered that the Milanese Lace pattern used here calls for a 6-stitch repeat plus 2. Well, that would work. Next thing I know, I’ve got 6 inches of the leg on one sock knitted and the other is moving along nicely. I love the texture of this pattern.

Austermann Step yarn

While I’m at it, I should show off my Knitzi.

Knitzi

Not only do I have a slotted Knitzi and a custom Knitzi bag, I have an unslotted Knitzi for my crochet hook, extra needles, etc. It’s great! No more bent needles and everything fits very nicely together for transport. I haven’t lost a tapestry needle since I got it.

Knitzi ready to go

I recommend this product to anyone who travels with their sock knitting. As you can see, it packs up very nicely with both the slotted and unslotted Knitzi’s, my glasses, a tape measure and a small bag of stitch markers, which are, by the way, not really needed. Somehow, they just ended up in the bag and they haven’t found their way back to the knitting storage yet. It’s a little more compact to just put the stitch markers I need inside the unslotted Knitzi. Even if you don’t travel with your sock knitting, check out the Knitzi site for the nice sock pattern they offer.

Lest you think that the little caps did me in and we got rid of the devil dog, here’s proof we still have her.

Regal Opal

She adds a certain element of fun mixed with utter and total hysteria to our household. The resident non-knitter gave me a break this morning and took her with him. It’s so quiet here today. How can one, very small, 5-pound creature completely turn a normal house into a mad house/freak show/carnival/MESS?