Thursday, December 28, 2006

third in the series

One last gift knitting report. All gifts were finshed on time, just barely . There's one more hat that was knit enroute to Washington DC in the car and gifted upon arrival so it won't be making an appearance here. It was just a simple beanie, anyway.
Having knit a swell Swell, I needed a differerent style earflap hat for my favorite bro-in-law, a guy who likes some flash and funk in his handknits. Here's what he got:1206FamVar080
I considered every earflap hat pattern I could lay my tired eyes on. I liked Fathom's Snowball Fight for her graphics but bro-in-law wanted a point on top, and a point he would get. I cast on for the visoppskrift earflap hat I found at the Garnstudio site. It was plain but I figured I'd add graphics, making them up as I went.

I was completing the O's on the earflaps with absolutely no plan or idea of what to do next with the colors when the winter Knitty came out and there was Center Square. It was a chanukah miracle- the repeating pattern divided neatly into my stitch count and oh man, I knew I'd thrown the gimmel dreidel (meaning, I win).

The main modification to the hat was my limey green lining. I have become a devotee of The Lined Earflap. Besides, the hat needed the kick of bright.

I thought all was just right until my younger son, a fan of his uncle's style, declared the need for a very special tassle on top and offered to use his mad gimp skillz to create the chinese staircase embellishment.

As soon as it was unwrapped last weekend, bro-in-law declared it the perfect hat and plopped it on his head, flipping the earflaps up to form kind of pointy side panels. Does he have style , or what? (yeah, I know, no photo. Guilty. Cobbler's children syndrome, y'know).


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

stubborn is as stubborn does*

*title sounds best when said in a Forrest Gump accent

When we last left my felting endeavors, we had a jumbo pair of red fuzzy mary janes. I was optimistic in saying they sort of fit me. In fact, scientific testing proved they fit a mens size 10.5 us and were well suited only for, if you are 13 years old, a running start in the living room, gliding across the rest of the room, through the kitchen and off the step down into the family room without ever lifting your feet. This didn't enhance their giftability to my much smaller footed niece, but gave them a light coating of kitchen-y crumbs.

I couldn't bring myself to cast on another pair. They're, let's face it, a bit of a boring knit. A friend suggested I cut them apart , trim the soles, make seams on the uppers to narrow, and sew them together again. This appealed! I was going to cut them up into flowers or something anyway. Slide-ability fun aside, no one was really going to wear them. As luck would have it, my sister was over for one last night of latkes when I approached surgery and she helped me simplify.
Angled cuts from just forward of the strap crossing section, down to the sole, then pull tight, a sort of felted slipper facelift, overlapping and stitching in decorative X's, using darning needle, sportweight yarn, lots of muscle and thimbles. Pliers would have helped. This was some dense felt, let me tell you.

Once stitched, the toes came up in a pixie-ish way, the heels were well covered and it brought them narrower. All I needed to do, aside from aggressive shaving to remove excess fuzz'n'crumbs, was buttons. I was dreading this, the needle struggle when seaming was painful, until I came across these in the bottom of my sewing box.
Funny how the right tool can cheer you on, isn't it?


I won't claim them as my finest work but they were giftable.
My niece's reaction? My niece is the coolest almost 18 year old. She unwrapped them, exclaiming,
" I've never seen anything like these! I love them! They're sooo fuzzy inside. Look! Cute buttons!"
Then she stood up in them, danced a little jig , slipped and fell gracefully to applause.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

light hearted

Happy Solstice tomorrow!
More light in the world!

And speaking of levity:
A policeman spots a woman driving and knitting at the same time. Driving up beside her, he shouts out the window...

"Pull over!"

"No," she shouts back, "a pair of socks!"


Thursday, December 14, 2006

tears of a clown

This was going to be a short light hearted post. First I'd show Day 1:day1 and tell you how these, my latest knits were sitting on the sofa.
Says a passing son " Ummm, Mom? Are you knitting clown shoes now?"

Then I'd show you Day 2: The cute little Felted Ballerina Slippers (Mary Jane style) for my niece. They are knit with a yarn that felts, is on record as felting, I have seen felted. No matter how you conjugate it, all should proceed as expected. The slippers would be about the length of the scissors, to fit her just right. I'd even sew on cute little buttons that I can't decide between.
bton And that'd be it. Short, amusing. HA.

Hear me sob?
Day 2, the reality:
Observe the scissors.day2 After 6 times through the washer, the slippers have ripped seams on two pillowcases and taken down an old bath mat, along for the agitation. You can see the white specks of deconstructed mat backing in the fuzz. The only thing more agitated is me.

Day 3: After assurances and virtual hand holding (there is no end to felting! it will go smaller still! persevere!) , I get serious. I am the grand torturer of slippers. They are doused with boiling water, plunged into cold water, pummeled in a low water level by old jeans, a towel, a tennis ball, a baseball and some kind of hard dog toy ball that rolled into my line of sight in the basement. All gnashing vigorously in the top loader. A baker's dozen of times through the cycle and they are smaller. I need more shrinkage. Amused, Dave suggests a multi-appliance approach: the microwave? A few minutes in the oven? Steam 'em in the dishwasher? I am not laughing. (maybe a little, its ridiculous).

My last best effort:
Out of the agitation 2 cycles later, I plunge them into ice water, then back to the washer for a last cycle.
The right one fits me, the largest female foot in the family. The left one remains capacious. The niece will be getting a pair that I'll cast on sometime later this week, in a smaller size.
(close with sounds of weeping).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

part two of a series

A hat for a sister. Its some kinda Swell.
Pattern: Swell from Knitty summer 06
Yarn: Farmhouse Yarns from Hopyard Spinnery, Andy's Merino
Needles: size 6 circulars, loving that magic loop for hats
Notes & changes: Heavier yarn. I was near gauge for the stitches but row wise? Gaugeyness. I moved the wave down by a few rows, and added lining in a color called Wine Rose (but I'd have named it Blood Orange).

The pattern has the first row with earflaps attached purl all the way around but I knit the earflap stitches in that round to avoid a a ridge where it joins the hat. After completing the hat as written, I knit earflaps and about 2 " of body in the orangey yarn, then cast it off. Its attached to the hat edge with whip stitch using a darning needle. When I attached the lining around the inside of the hat I used a crochet hook to pull the darker blue yarn through the stitches, somehow it was easier for me to line up the colors. It gave me a better tension than the needle stitching did. You can see how its kind of wonky in spots. I hope its passing as a touch of the hand rather than a touch of incompetence.
And lastly: I'm loving the lining. Now the earflaps are thick enough to keep the wind out and it gets rid of any residual curl. Blocking would have flattened them but I kept thinking of Sister Bertrille.
For us members of the Chronically Indecisive Club,lining's an extra chance for color in a non-dominating way. I'm still working on my left handed knitting and did some reverse stockinette , which came out strange looking. The nice thing about lining? Its all inside. I am undecided about a tassle on top, the slightly
HoJo-esque side strings are probably enough whimsy. Maybe I'll offer the option when she opens it for the first night of Chanukah, this Friday.
Back soon with part three. Its a felting venture. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

just call me the

I decided to give my mom membership to a sock yarn club for her birthday this weekend. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? Well. Fishing around for where to join pulled up so many choices that, in the spirit of not wanting anyone else to kill half a day the season, I'll share my catch.
In case you want to dip your toes, kitchener'd or otherwise, into the same waters.

Options? We got'em. Clubs that close, clubs that have rolling enrollment, clubs with patterns, clubs that include cool indie craft items, clubs that send only handpainted, clubs that are only commercially produced yarn, clubs that let you choose the projects, clubs that offer mixed drinks....oh ,sorry, no margaritas and chips. But that'd be a good idea, wouldn't it? Join the cruise anyway.

Over There
Thanks to Emma for gettng me to think transatlantically!
She recommended Fyberspates in Wales. January-March you get a different sock yarn fiber each time. Lovely looking and how cool to receive a package from Wales -- unless of course you live in Wales in which case I'm sure the novelty is missing.

HipKnits in England is the membership my mom received. Why? Its a four month membership beginning whenever you sign up. The price is quite reasonable. The yarn is self-striping, and the patterns exclusive, it supports lots of indie yarn artists, and last but not least, its run by Kerrie Allman of MagKnits and I want to support her.
edited a year later to add: OK, the HipKnits sock club membership didn't work out exactly as promised, although after some delays, many emails and changes over at their business, my mom got some interesting and lovely yarns , so caveat emptor.

Its a good thing the Posh Yarn Socks Club is closed for the moment, because six months of a cashmere merino sock project arriving at the door is tempting me out beyond the budget buoys. Always good to be prepared for the future. Bookmark it.

You want Flexible?
Check out Spunky Eclectic's Clubs. Awesome handpaints, subscribe for as few or as many months as you wish. You can join for sock yarn or for fiber. Start anytime. Downside, no patterns included but she has some great designs posted on her site.

Original sock patterns come at you monthly from the Fiber Nooks and Cranny Sock Club, along with Opal sock yarn. You can see some of her past projects at the site. As many months as you like. This would be great for someone who likes simpler patterns. And Opal Yarn.

More variety and challenge over at Joslyns Fiber Farm Sock Club , flexible length of membership and its all their own yarns. Scroll through earlier months' kits and you'll see.
Holy K2 tog YO! They have a Shawl Club too. Its quarterly. Phew.

Another sock club or lace club choice is yours at MamaLlama's, handyed colorways that go with the seasons. You can sign up for a half year or full year, and you express color preferences within the range for each quarter. Options! Options are good.

Still more sock knitting challenges, Red Bird Yarn offers monthly or every other month sock clubs . You can tell her some preferences in color etc. All of the past months' kits are viewable so judge if its what you're interested in - the weights and styles vary a lot.

Amy Swensons Sockaholics Anonymous sock club is another join for one month or as many as twelve deal. Different yarns but only the good stuff, note that. Patterns included from Fiber Trends or her own. Niiiiiice. (Sorry, we can't stop doing Borat around here).

Many varied sock projects is sock club, another pay for as many months as you like deal. They have a link to past months for the curious. This one's great for someone who doesn't want to be in a rut. Sock wise, I mean.

Handpainted superwash merino DK weight sock yarn from Fancy Image Yarn club can come to you for 3, 6 or 13 months of membership. No patterns included but check out her colors and price, if you like heavier weight sock knitting.

At the PickUp Sticks Sock Club you have to pay a registration fee to join for 6 months, but you get some goodies for it. No new memberships till next month, though.

Closed For Now but You Can Get a Gift Certificate for Their Goods
Scouts Indie Swag Clubfilled up lightening fast, because her brillant handpaints packaged with a little something special from other indie craft artists is so perfect - but you can still give someone a gift certificate to the shop and they can put together a pairing for themselves. (Thanks for reminding me, Scout.) I have messenger bag and needlecase envy from browsing over there.

Sundaras Petals Collection Club is closed, and future uncertain. sigh. Custom dye orders always accepted.

Socks That Rock from The Blue Moon Fiber Club. Get on the list to be notified for signup. Pricey but with a devoted following.

Carole recommended MamaE's. There's not much there to see now but when you're a one woman show, the line between swamped and not busy is merely fingering weight. Ask me how I know. So check back, because Carole wouldn't steer us wrong!

A few final thoughts
The wide range of personal style of club owners is seen on their sites. The way your package gets presented each month will vary accordingly, and that's a biggie. I don't know about you but throw in interesting packaging or nice tissue paper or a little lagniappe.... or heck, even a bit of ribbon and a cool label and I'm yours.

I'm sure I missed a couple clubs but it wasn't a conscious act. I have no personal experience with any of these so I'm not endorsing them, but I am so tempted by them all. Let me know if you have more info.

And... if you're wondering, my mom LOVED her gift and is delighted to get yarn and a pattern from England monthly. She thought the overseas aspect made it even more fun and now she gets her wish to knit one pair of socks a month , at least through the winter.

Friday, December 01, 2006

hide & seek

I've been found.
In almost 2 years of this blog, no one who knows me knew of it.
I mean, I've met living breathing people, wonderful people, through the blog but my real living breathing family & friends weren't aware of its existence. Till this week when surfing around, friends came upon it. (hi josh! hi julie!) I've been outed.

It wasn't a big deal secret. Initially, my blogging thought was "wow this is such a nerdy thing to do, I'm going to quietly give it a try". Then after a while, I figured, who cares? and I never mentioned it. So when I announced over pizza to Dave and my 13 year old son that a friend found the blog and was amazed she hadn't known, they said....... " wow, that's nerdy."
Although I'm pretty sure it was said in admiring tones.

I've just sucked up gallons of time looking for a moderately priced half-year or every-other month sock yarn club to give as a present. The Sundara club is closed. The Blue Moon one only has the yearlong option. I'm loving Scouts Indie Swag club but I'm not sure the giftee would, and anyways, I think I'm too late for it. I want to keep it simple. Sock yarn. Any ideas? Send 'em quick, the birthday's tomorrow!