Joining an excellent Movement

I just blogged yesterday, but so much has happened that I must blog again today. First, a big THANK YOU, to Sallee a.k.a Knitnana for awarding me an E for Excellent Award.
E for Excellent

I had no idea anyone found my humble little blog “excellent,” but it is very inspiring to be told so. I need to nominate 10 others whose blogs I find excellent, an easy task. So here goes.

Karen B. of Yarn is My Metier (she puts the correct little accent on the e in Metier, but I can’t find my code book). She also knits and crochets wonderful things, and she has adorable kitties.

Kristy of Eleven Stitches. She is a very creative knitter and crafter; she’s also very nice and has adorable kitties.

Cristi of Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing. She gets the most beautifully colored yarns and knits fabulous socks with it (among a huge number of other projects), and she is very funny and has adorable kitties.

Brigitte of Wrapped Around My Finger. She knits these awesome cabled or stranded colorwork sweaters from Alice Starmore among others, and then she swears she can’t knit a four-row repeat lace pattern. She is very sweet and fun, and she has adorable kitties.

Janet of Twisted Knitter. She is so thoughtful and knits simply beautiful things. She’s made me feel very welcome in the knitblog community, and as far as I know, she has no pets.

Lorraine of Sheriff of Knittingham. She is very funny and a fabulous knitter and knitwear designer. And yes, she does have an adorable kitty.

Beatriz of Busy Bea Knits. She knits lovely socks and sweaters for both herself and many, many nieces as far as I can tell. She also likes good food and cocktails.

Anne of Knitspot. I really don’t need to say anything, do I? Anne’s knitting designs have inspired me more than anyone else.

Chris of Stumbling over Chaos. Gee, I wonder why this is the first blog I read every morning? Could it be because of the antics of Chaos y Mayhem? Yes, I think so (and Chris does some great knitting too). I must say I almost always side with Chaos when there is a little sibling rivalry. We older sibs have to stick together, or the younger sibs will do evil like boot us out of our Fortress of Solitude.

Amy of StashKnitRepeat. She knits great stuff and has joined up with Kelly of Kelp! Knits (this is a 2 for 1 entry) with a really good idea for the year that I am going to take part in too. I think they are starting a new Sock Knitting Movement! Keep reading below for an explanation.

All of my excellent award winners are invited (but I won’t insist) to make their own lists of excellent blogs if they haven’t already done so. But most of all, I just want them all to keep blogging and sharing their knitting (and kitties) with us other knitters and people who live with leases not allowing pets.

Now for the MOVEMENT. Kelly, who clearly has a great deal of shopping discipline, has decided to knit a pair of socks each month of 2008, thereby knitting up her entire sock yarn stash. Yeah, I told you she was disciplined. She started off this January by knitting a stunning pair of Socks for Veronik , which is pretty much showing off, but in a really cool way. Amy likes the idea of a pair of socks a month (thankfully, this will not use up her stash), and she is almost done with a gorgeous pair of cranberry Pomatomi.

I need handknit socks for myself, and I know I’ll need to knit some gift socks too. So, I’ve decided¬† also to knit a pair a month throughout 2008. This will by no means use up my sock yarn stash. I’ve gotten way behind in terms of sock knitting. For January, I’ll get my Chili Pepper socks done. They aren’t a difficult or wow pattern, but they make good use of a brightly multi-colored yarn, the sort I love, but are often difficult to knit up nicely. I’m half done with the gusset decreases on the second sock:
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“She took my picture out of focus and over-exposed it too. Man, I hope she manages the pointed toe decreases properly or I’ll look permanently stupid.” The second Chili Pepper Sock in a unnecessarily surly mood.

My only other stipulation for the other 11 months is to use these four pretty but difficult to knit up pretty multi-colored yarns.
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Clockwise from upper left: Lorna’s Laces in Somerset, LL in Mother Lode, CTH in Champlain Sunset and LL in Ravenswood.

I better download Cookie A’s Monkey pattern. Any other suggestions for these yarns? The other months I’ll see what I want to knit. But now I better get working on that Chili Pepper sock.

Happy Knitting!

Sweater Stuff

Once upon a time, long enough ago that I was a legal adult and M was still a minor, I used to sew a lot. Set-in sleeves were no big deal. I sewed the sleeve into a tube, the side seams of the body were done, and carefully adjusting my gathering stitches along the sleeve cap, I could set-in a perfectly fitting sleeve, sewing in a circle. The set-in sleeve process in hand knitting follows a different protocol, and frankly I have my doubts that anyone has ever really seamed a cap sleeve to armscye of a hand knit sweater. I think it may be a hoax. I mean, do you think this will work?
Minimalist Cardi sleeve fitting
The two sides of the sleeve’s cap are actually the same length, even though they look different in the photo. I checked after I saw the photo. Twice.

I hope it will work out as I really like how the blocked front looks going from moss stitch to stockinette. It’s my favorite feature of the Minimalist Cardi. Blocked Minimalist Cardi front

I am screwing my courage to the sticking point. Basting of the sleeve to the body with light grey yarn will happen before the real seaming. I’ll have M keep his fingers crossed while I baste and seam. After all, he is the Luckiest Man in the World–but that’s a story for another day.

In the meantime, let’s just take a little peek or two at my new sweater project.
Greed Tweed tease

That’s right, my friends, I’ve gots me my first TWEED yarn! I loves it with a deep and abiding passion. It’s a present from M (he’s not allowed to buy other knitters tweed yarn– sorry). It knits up like a dream.
Grey Tweed Pullover back 012708
Tahki Donegal Tweed; color 895

I know orange tweeds are all the rage, but I look like the walking dead in orange. But charcoal with black, white, burgundy, lime and butterscotch flecks–that’s perfect. Must go knit.

New WIPs: the small projects

M’s scarf is blocked and awaits time and better weather for a photo shoot. The Minimalist Cardi is blocked but perhaps not correctly. I’m confused a bit by some of the measurements in the schematic compared to the measurements in the pattern, but I think I did it OK. If the sleeves don’t fit, I’ll be reblocking. In any event, I’m awaiting the arrival of Janet Szabo’s The “I Hate to Finish Sweaters” Guide to Finishing Sweaters. I don’t “hate” to finish sweaters per se, but I do hate not really knowing what I am doing. I’ve decided to put myself in the hands of a master before all that knitting goes to waste or looks lousy due to finishing ignorance. In the meantime, I’ve cast on some new projects: socks, a scarf and a sweater.

The socks are a simple 5×2 rib that I’m knitting up in Great Adirondacks Silky Sock in the Chili Peppers colorway. The yarn was a gift from my only knitting friend I can see in person, LC (previously Elsie on this blog), who gave it to me for my birthday last November along with some stitch markers. LC knows I love red, and she loves the Silky Sock yarn, so she thought this would be perfect, and it is.
Chili Pepper Sock 1
The leg is 63 stitches and the colors shift so nicely. After the heel and gussets I got some pooling, but the pooling on the sole of the foot is cool. M called it a “Harry Potter lightning bolt.” I wonder if I’ll have magic powers when I wear these socks?
Harry Potter Lightning Bolt sock
I’ve cast on for the second sock, and ideally would like to finish it by the end of January. I want to design a sock I’ve had swimming about in my head for a February-March Project Spectrum project.

So I have some lace to knit (Kiri in Christmas red suri alpaca is on hold for a bit), I started the Dainty Bess scarf for myself. The yarn is Malabrigo laceweight in Curazo, and I love the colors and the softness of it.
Dainty Bess 012208
This is my third start to this scarf. The first attempt met with disaster, including screwing up one garter edge so weirdly that I couldn’t fix it. The second attempt–well, we need not go into it. I started wondering why this was SO HARD. Then I figured out that I didn’t like the chart. The knit stitches were squares, which I think distorted how the pattern actually looks knitted, and the wrong side rows were all charted, even though they were all garter edges and purling across. That was distracting. I used my own knitting graph paper I made in Adobe Illustrator and recharted the scarf. I knew all would be well when I could draw the second half of each repeat after only looking at the first half. And the knitting has been perfectly fine since I made my own chart.

Well, I’ve been prattling away. But do stop by Cocktails with M to see M’s post about the Oriental cocktail. It is a superb cocktail, although in our inebriated state we took a goofy picture of it centered in front of the table lamp. If I weren’t having a beer with our cider-braised pork shoulder for dinner, I might have another tonight. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day…

A FO and a Hemi-FO

I have been very remiss. Last NOVEMBER, Jean of Golden Purl sent me a wonderful single knitted sock, and although I did thank her immediately, I did not share the sock and the glory of Jean’s knitting with all of you. It is quite a sock:
Twisted Flower Sock by Jean
Twisted Flower by Cookie A.

The photo is a bit odd, but the strange angle and the bright sun do show off all the wonderful twisted stitches. The yarn label is a bit perplexing, but it says Lana Grossa/Meilenweit Compatto Seta/Cashmere (65% wool/15% silk/16% polyamide/4% cashmere). It feels divine, and it fits perfectly. Now I have to knit the second sock. I’m currently a bit intimidated by the pattern (perhaps I should read it instead of just looking at it), but I think I shall be able to manage. Jean also included some lovely stitch markers (a must for these socks) and some other goodies, which of course I forgot to photograph, and now it’s dark.¬† But many thanks to Jean!

First though, due to a grave washing machine mishap, I desperately need some quickly knit new socks. To this end, I finished (finally) a simple pair of garter ribbed socks I started last autumn.
Garter Rib Socks
Garter Rib Socks in Fleece Artist Merino, color Hercules.

This is essentially the pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks with a little tweaking. I wanted to see what the heel flap would be like if I just continued the garter rib, and then I also did the gusset decreases at the very end of the needles and not one stitch in. I had heard that made a very neat edge and it does, but I don’t think I’ll do that all the time.¬† It wasn’t that special.
Garter Rib Socks--heel flap
Although I like these socks, I am now heartily sick of garter rib. It seemed more annoying than just a regular rib after a while. I have a couple more pairs of ribbed socks (but different types of ribs) on the needles to quickly build back up my handknit sock supply, and then I want to get to the Twisted Flower sock and some sock designs I have floating around in my head. But first a few easy-peasy pairs. As I have a cold which is making me crabby and mean, you’re going to have to wait until the next post to see the other socks.

Now I am off to finish M’s Pinnacle Chevron Scarf–I’m on the last repeat! So, it’s going to be 56 degrees here tomorrow and all the rest of this week. A man can still use a wool/alpaca worsted weight scarf, right?

I hope each of you had a great start to the week.

Starting Again

You know the cartoons where the snowball starts at the top of the hill the size of a baseball, starts rolling down the hill and becomes the size of a house? That’s pretty much how I felt in November and December. Nothing actually bad happened, but I got the blues pretty badly from lots of little things real and imagined. Most sadly, I LOST THE WILL TO KNIT! It was pretty bleak. I didn’t read many blogs, and the few I did, I usually didn’t leave comments. A few nice people noticed my absence and asked if I was OK, but since I didn’t feel OK at the time, and I didn’t want to be a downer, I kept to myself. I’m starting to feel better now, so I am hoping to blog at least once a week, get back to commenting regularly on your blogs, and DO MORE KNITTING!

I did knit a pair of socks for Michael’s grandmother for Christmas, but I didn’t even take a photo of them. I used Shibui sock yarn for them, and it did work very well–it seems identical to my favorite sock yarn, Cherry Tree Hill. I found out that gift socks for non-knitters need not be fancy (I wasted moderately fancy knitting), and just pretty colors and a well-fitting ribbed sock is more than adequate for future gifts.

I didn’t get the scarf I was knitting for Michael done in time for Christmas though. Now it is my main thing I am working on, and its simple chevron rib stitch pattern is good for getting me back in the knitting groove. It is close to 3/4 done, which is two cushions on the couch-o-meter.
M's scarf at 2 cushions.JPG

The yarn is Ultra Alpaca left over from my Aran Pocket Shawl, and I think I’ll still have a skein left over after this scarf. Here’s a little closer picture of the stitch pattern:
Pinnacle Chevron Stitch Scarf.JPG

I’ll save my other WIPs for the next post, so I won’t feel panicky about having nothing to post about, but I do want to write a little bit about a Christmas gift I asked for that my Mom got me (Thanks, Mom!). I subscribe to Janet Szabo’s newsletter Twists and Turns: for Lovers of Cable Knitting and I really enjoy it, so I wanted her first book on cables, Cables Volume 1: The Basics.
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It’s a great book! It is divided into chapters based upon the number of stitches in the cross from 1 to 8(+), plus a chapter on basic fundamentals, a chapter on unusual cables and another on designing cables. The book goes beyond the basics though (unless you are Janet, apparently) For example, the chapter on 4-stitch crosses contains the following headings:
1/3 Knit Crosses (2 charts)
2/2 Knit Crosses (20 charts)
2/2 Purl Crosses (11 charts)
3/1 Knit Crosses (1 chart)
3/1 Purl Crosses (5 charts)
1/2/1 Knit Crosses (1 chart)
1/2/1 Purl Crosses (1 chart)
She has ideas for “further exploration” accompanying many of the charts and clear step-by-step black and white photos of the the basic cross for each type. It is a very well thought out book and resource. She even signed the copy my mom bought me (through her website Big Sky Knitting Designs) with “May all your cables cross the right way!” I’ll be using this book a lot, and I recommend it for cable lovers and those who want to become cable lovers.

Well, I better get back to knitting. I hope all of you are well, and I intend to see you at your blogs very soon!