Friday, December 26, 2008

A New Knitting Book for Christmas

It's not quite right if one doesn't get a knitting book for Christmas. The one I got I actually picked out myself. Well actually, one could not possibly think that their husband could pick out a knitting book all by himself. The fun thing is that I had completely forgotten about the book, so it really was a surprise.

I received Nicky Epstein's new book Knitting On Top of the World. It's an incredible book. In my estimation Nicky Epstien is the most amazing knitter and designer. I can't right off the bat think of another American knitting designer that I like - okay I just remembered - it's Nancy Bush. She's also amazing.

I was reading the reviews of this book on Amazon, and for the most part people don't like it. But a few free thinkers liked it very much. I think it's terrific, though I'll be the first to admit that there are many objects in the book I'd never make. But most knitting books are like that. At least the ones I wouldn't make have scope for the imagination, and that's worth a lot.

Take for example the Edwardian lace coat on the cover. No matter how it was designed, I wouldn't make something like that, but there are numerous lace patterns in that coat that would be great for a scarf or baby blanket. Or how about the Fair Isle Tam Capelet - that thing is so ridiculous that it gave me and my family all a good laugh.

I think that the Black Forest Mitts are gorgeous, but I would not make the bobbly buffs, that's just a bit much for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mittens for Emily

I tried several mittens before I got it right. It's because it got quite cold. The first mitten I tried was chunky, and much much too small. The second mitten was not quite as chunky, but in the end was too small, and too difficult to get her thumb in the thumb place. So finally I came to the conclusion that you can't really make chunky mittens for a two year old. At that I did a lot of research, looking at other people's patterns for mittens for kids. I could see that Emily is just on the borderline between thumb/no thumb. And then while I was going all the looking, I also inadvertently came across a ball of wool that I'd been looking for for quite some time, and it seemed perfect. It's the same yarn that I used for the little mitten I had made for Emily when she was three months old.

I settle on making a mitten that is of lovely part angora wool and knits at a tension of 22 stitches to the 10 cm. The yarn is from Italy, and I'm quite certain it's not sold in America any more, but it's fabulous stuff. I tried the unfinished mitten on Emily as soon as I could, and I could see that she really liked it. It's soooo soft.

Material: Illusion Tweed, by Erdal Yarns (50% angora, 25% lambswool, 10% nylon, 15% acrylic) 20 grams
Needles: double pointed 4 mm needles
Tension: 22 stitches per 10 cm

Cast on 28 stitches (10, 8, 10) and work in 1/1 ribbing for 4 rows.
Purl a round, then work 2 rows in 1/1 ribbing.
Purl a round, then work 3 rows in 1/1 ribbing. (This is a mistake, but if I'm to get the other mitten to match I have to go with it.)
Pulr a round, and work 4 rows in 1/1 ribbing.
This next round is to bring the cuff in just a bit for snugness.
Cr3F, p1, repeat all the way around.
Work 2 round in 1/1 ribbing.

Work 2 round in stocking stitch.
Now start the increase for the gusset:
K14, M1, K14.
work one round even
K14, M1, K1, M1, K14
work one round even
K14, M1, K3, M1, K14
work one round even
K14, M1, K5, M1, K14
work one round even
K14, M1, K7, M1, K14
work one round even
On this next round the thumb is put on a length of yarn.
K14, slip next 9 stitches on to a short piece of yarn, K14
Work 15 rows in stocking stitch.

Decrease for the top of the mitten:
Place the stitches so that the first needle has 14 stitches, and the next two each have 7 stitches.
rnd 1:( K1, ssk, k8, k2tog, k1)(k1, ssk, k4)(k4, k2tog, k1)
rnd 2: work even
rnd 3: (k1, ssk, k6, k2tog, k1)(k1, ssk, k3)(k3, k2tog, k1)
rnd 4: work even
rnd 5: (k1, ssk, k4, k2tog, k1)(k1, ssk, k2)(k2, k2tog, k1)
rnd 6: (k1, ssk, k2, k2tog, k1)(k1, ssk, k1)(k1, k2tog, k1)
rnd 7: (k1, ssk, k2tog, k1)(k1, ssk)(k2tog, k1)

Break off the yarn and put the end on a needle and thread through the stitches.

Thumb: Place the reserved stitches on to needles, three to a needle.
Knit up 11 stitches, beginning by picking up a stitch, then knitting the nine stitches, then pick up another stitch.
Knit 4 more rounds.
Decreasing the tip of the thumb:
rnd 1: k1, ssk, knit to the last three stitches, k2tog, k1
rnd 2: work even
rnd 3: ssk, k1, ssk, k1, ssk, k1
Break off the yarn, and thread through the stitches.

Sew in the ends;

Make another one to match.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Starting a new sweater for Emily

This is going to be a new one like the red one I made last winter. I put it on her the other day - because it was suddenly quite cold - and it fit her perfectly, even though she has grown. I made that same sweater several times in the past for my girls and for a niece. It's definitely one of my all time favorite patterns. Of course I've only made it for girls, but now I have a new little grandson. I think it would work just fine for a boy, but the boy's parents might think otherwise.

Yarn - 4 ply or fingering - sock wool is fine, but anything that gets a 7-8 inches per inch tension
needles needed to get that tension, two sizes - one for ribbing and one for the main knitting

For this sweater I'm using Sirdar Snuggly 4 ply - starlight

My needles are a 2.5 mm needles and 11 UK needles (3 mm I think)
Neither of these have an American equivalent.
Just get your tension right on whatever needles you have.

Size: this will be a size 2, from the late 1970's
In other words, it fits snugly.

Back: Cast on 89 stitches on the smaller needles.
Work for 16 rows in 2/2 ribbing.
Change to the larger needles and work in stocking stitch for 48 rows.
armhole: Cast off 4 stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows. (81 sts)
Then decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 18 rows. (63 sts).
Now work in stocking stitch for the next 26 rows.
slope the shoulders:
row 1: cast off 6 stitches, knit to the end.
row 2: cast off 6 stitches, purl to the last 2, then purl 2 together through the back of the loop.
row 3: ssk, then cast off 4, then knit to the last 2 stitches and knit those two together.
row 4: purl 2 together, cast off 4, purl to the end.

Place the remaining 39 stitches on some kind of stitch holder.


I am making both of these on the same needles, or at the same time.

with the 2.5 mm needles cast on - - stitches from one ball of wool, and then -- stitches from another ball of the same wool. Then work in 2/2 ribbing for - - rows.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I have never completed an adult scarf. I find it sooooo tedious to knit one. But that doesn't mean I haven't started them, or that I don't intend to finish them.

The first one of importance is an Alice Starmore scarf from In the Hebrides. It's more of a shawl than a scarf, and I'm making it out of an Alice Starmore wool in red. But alas, I don't know where the last ball of wool is, and ... a moth ate through a strand of the wool. I know ... I should keep my unfinished (and finished) wool projects in a cedar chest or I should make a cedar closet to keep my wool. It's a very lacy pattern, and I'm not sure how I will mend the hole created by the moth. I hate moths!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm also knitting a lovely natural alpaca scarf for Corey. I started it a loonngg time ago, but it is so lovely. The problem is that I made up the pattern myself, and I have trouble remembering what it is when I start up knitting it from time to time. And at the moment I have no idea where it is. I really must come to terms with my unfinished projects. What that means is that I simply must finish them!

And if I remember correctly, I was working on a scarf with a pattern that someone got from a lady in the Metro in Paris. I can't even remember what I was making it out of. But if I know me it was red. I LOVE RED.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Nit for Emily's New Baby

Emily loves "babies", but she is particular. She and I went to Goodwill the other day and of course she was keen to look at the "babies". But as we slowly cruised the aisle with the toys she was very carefully looking at all the dolls and occasionally she would request to see one up close. For the majority of the dolls she would inspect them and then she'd hand the "baby" to me and say "back". But eventually, after cruising the aisle twice she settled on one that she really liked. It was a soft body doll with no hair and eyes that open and close. And of course it has not clothes. In the basket aisle I found a lovely little basket doll carrier that is a perfect size this doll. I do have a pattern that is perfect for this doll, but this is a knitting site, and what I going to put here is the "nit" I am making for the doll. A "nit" is Emily's word for blanket.

A "nit" for Emily's "baby"

yarn: Galway worsted wool
needles: US6

Cast on 53 stitches.
Work for six rows in seed stitch starting with a knit stitch.
Then work in the pattern as follows:

row !; k1, (p1, k1, p1, k9) repeat to the last 4, p1, k1, p1, k1
row 2: (k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p7) repeat to the last 5, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1

Work until you like the length and still have some wool left.
Work 6 rows of seed stitch.
Cast off.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Spring Green Cardi for Dru

Emily loves to change the clothes of the dolls. But it is painfully obvious that there is nothing to put onto Dru. She arrived in her underwear and has stayed that way ever since.

Material: Phildar Phil Luxe in a spring green
Needles: 2 1/4 mm and 2 1/2 mm (I used double pointed needles)
Tension: 8 stitches per inch in stocking stitch, 10 sts/inch in pattern
about 11 rows per inch.

Back: Cast on 44 stitches on the 2 1/4 mm needles and work as follows:
(k2, p1), repeat to the last 2 stitches, then k2
Work as set for 8 rows in all.
Change to the 2 1/2 mm needles and work as follows:

row 1: (k2, p1, tw2, p1), repeat to the last 2 stitches and k2
row 2, 3, and 4: work as set, knit the knits and purl the purls
repeat these 4 rows for the pattern, work 14 rows in all to the armhole.

armhole: still maintaining the pattern, cast off 4 stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows.
Then, decrease one stitch at each end of the next 12 rows.
Place the remaining 12 stitches on a spare needle

Right Front: Cast on 21 stitches on the 2 1/4 mm needles and work as follows:
K1, P1, (K2, P1), repeat to the last stitch and K1
Work as set for 6 rows in all, then change to the 2.5 mm needles.

Work as follows:
row 1: k1, p1, (tw2, p1, k2, p1) repeat to last stitch, k1
rows 2, 3, 4: work stitches as set
Repeat these four rows for the pattern, working 15 rows in all to the armhole.

armhole: Still working in the pattern, with wrong side facing, cast off four stitches.
Then for the decreasing of the armhole, cast off one stitch at the armhole edge for the next twelve rows.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Top Twelve (I couldn't keep it to Ten) Knitting Books

If I could only keep 12 of my bazillion knitting books and magazines and booklets, which ones would they be? So with not a huge amount of thought (that's because one knows one's favorites) I came up with the following list. They are not in order of preference because I really like all of them, and the are quite different one from the other. Three are exclusively children's knits, one is my favorite sock book, one is my knitting instruction book, while the seven remaining are what might be considered family knitting books as they have sweaters for all ages and both women and men. Nine of the books are British, one is Scottish, and two are American. Most of them have terrific photography.

1. Knits for Kids, by Lena Stengard

This book is just so much fun to look at, and ... it has great patterns. I have not been able to find a picture of the cover, but this is close. The author is actually Swedish, and that does influence her designs a bit.

2. Rowan Knitting Magazine #24

3. Knitting from the British Islands, by Alice Starmore

I have been a big fan of Alice Starmore since I learned to knit in Hong Kong in the early 80s. I bought this book in Hong Kong and the reason I have chosen this as my favorite is because there is a simplicity in this book that is not seen in her exquisite later books.

4. Folk Socks: The History & Techniques of handknitted Footwear, by Nancy Bush

This is the book I really learned to knit socks from.  Because I have a tendency to lose track of where I last put my favorite books I have two copies of this one.  Though I must admit, pretty soon I'll just have it memorized.  Nancy is great at explaining things, and of course she's a great sock designer.  All her books are good.

5. Traditional Knitting: From the Scottish and Irish Isles, by Debbie Bliss

I'm not sure why I'm so attached to this one, but maybe it's the fact that the sweaters are very traditional, and I really like that.

6. A Treasury of Rowan Knits: 80 Patterns from Favorite Desighners, edited by Stephen Sheard

I've been amassing Rowan patterns since book one of the magazines came out.  This has a nice collection of many of those patterns.

7. The Country Diary Book of Knitting, by Annette Mitchell

I love looking at this book. I want to be in the pictures. The designs are great and all doable.

8. Knitting in Vogue, More Knitting in Voque, and Great Knitting in Vogue, all edited by Christina Probert

9. Patons Beehive Knitting Book: The Bumper Beehive Book

I read and reread this book so much that it was falling apart and I bought a wonderful holder for the pages. And also, I found a copy of it for sale on the internet and I bought it. I currently don't know where I've put it, but it's safe somewhere. One of the reasons I love this book is that it is soooo 80s. I really like the knits of the 80s.

10. Tadpoles and Tiddlers, by Rowan

This is a really fun book, full of projects I'm keen to do.

11. Practical Knitting, by Rae Compton

This book is not really about patterns to knit, but it's my untimativo "how to knit" book. It's the one I learned on. I bought it in Hong Kong at the South China Morning Post bookstore at Star Ferry.

12. Patricia Roberts Second Knitting Bok, by Patricia Roberts

I've always greatly admired Patricia Roberts as a knitwear designer, though I think in her later works she got a bit carried away with herself. The first book in 1977 was a kick, but this one is more refined without being over the top. I believe that this little sweater here is exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Doesn't everyone do ten projects at a time?

First, I want to say that I've got a fairly good track record of finishing projects. It's just that it often takes a long time, and they aren't always given to the original person intended. But I just can't help myself, I keep starting new projects because I get an idea. It's all about ideas.

So at the moment I'm working on a DK version of the Kim Hargreaves sweater that I have made twice before. The first version was in pink and was intended for Lisa Miller in Germany who was 3 years old when I started the sweater. I don't knew exactly where I bought the Rowan magazine that the pattern is in, but the price on the magazine is in Deusch marcs, and it was for Lisa in Germany. She is now eleven. I'm not sure when I finished the sweater, nor why I never got it sent off to Germany, but I was a perfect fit for my grand-daughter Emily. Earlier this year I made a slightly heavier version of the sweater for Emily. I had to add stripes because I didn't have quite enough yarn and couldn't get any more. And now I am working on my third version of this sweater. It's a light DK red with a singly-line white stripe every seventh row. Instead of breaking off the yarn I knit the different row and then put the stitches back on the needle so that I can pick up the left behind color. I've finished the back and am almost done with the front. I had though of making it a cardigan, but it is so much easier to just plunk the sweater onto the child. I hope I can get the stripes to match up when I sew it up.

This sweater has a finished back, an almost finished front.  Then I need to make the sleeves, sew it up, and knit on the neck ribbing.  And of course the last thing, that I can stall on for much too long, is to sew in the ends.

I'm also working on a cardigan for my Dad. The really tricky bit about this one is that I hope he lives to wear it. He'll be 89 on May 2nd, and it sure would be good if I had it done by then, but life seems to be flying by and I'm not what you would call loaded with energy. I wish the weather would get better. That like from the Chronicles of Narnia "Always winter, but never Christmas" would be something like "Always late fall, but never spring". And the cherry trees have already bloomed but it is still cold and rainy. I can't get out and walk in this kind of weather, and the dark days are even getting to me, a long time Oregonian.

But that's enough excuses. I just need to get on with this one. I've made the back and one sleeve, and I'm over half way done with the other sleeve. Then I will need to knit up the pocket linings, and then get the fronts done. It's a v-neck I think. Or maybe I haven't made up my mind yet. That's one of the problems I have with getting things done - I haven't finalized what I'm really making before I start knitting.

I'm making a Patricia Roberts sweater for Emily. It's a really cute fine knit crew neck sweater with a lacy packet front. The main color is red with the pocket back in pink. I'm hoping to be able to embroider a pink E on the sweater. I couldn't tell you right off the back where that project is. But I'm fairly sure It's way more than half way finished.

I've found it!  It was in the basket I put things in at Christmas.   I've finished all the pieces and one side of the shoulder is sewn up.  So now I just need to sew up the other shoulder, knit the neck ribbing, sew in the sleeves, sew up the side, sew up the pocket, and finally sew in the ends. You cannot see that the pocket lining is pink through the lacy front of the pocket. Sometimes I'm just a little too subtle.

Now I just need to finish sewing in all the ends and clip the threads. This is definitely a dress sweater, as it goes only to her waist.   -   I'M DONE!

I'm working on a v-neck pullover for my not yet arrived grandson Joshua Caleb Enoch. It's of a yarn that was bought in Hong Kong about 25 years ago to make a sweater for the soon-to-be-mother of Joshua. But there I was knitting away when Emily got into my knitting and pulled out the needles and now I can't remember what size needles I was using. Now I suppose that such a small sweater won't show the problem, but it is sure irking me. I've got to figure this out.

I've made the back, and I was just starting in on the v-neck part of the front when I got very confused on the needles.  I just need to knit it up.  Then I need to make the little sleeves, sew up the parts, knit the neck ribbing, sew up the side seams, and finally sew in the ends.

I am working on a lacy patterned sweater for Emily in a hot pink wool that I bought in London at Peter Jones (or some name like that). It's a Jaeger matchmaker 4-ply, which you simply can't get in America. But I only have vague recollections of this project, and I simply must find it before Emily is too big. One thing in the yarns favor is that it is pure wool, which means if I have to I can undo the project, give the yarn a good rinse, and dry it using my yarn spinning umbrella like machine to dry the yarn without wrinkles and I can start again.

I still can't locate this sweater!

I'm making a lovely Aran sweater for Emily that is from an old Pinguouin knitting book #45 that I bought in Hong Kong.  I've always wanted to make that particular sweater.  `The pattern calls for using Pingofrance, a yarn I do have in my stash, but I'm using Lion Brand Baby Soft, which has the same tension.  I wanted to make sure that I would have enough, and I wanted it to be in a natural wool color, like Aran sweaters.  I'm using a 3 3/4 mm needle on the main body.  I don't know what size needle I used on the ribbing, but I'm guessing it was a 3 1/4 mm needle.

At this point I'm not yet to the armhole on the back.  So I've a ways to go.  I really enjoy knitting on it, but it does need rather undivided attention.

I don't know how long ago I started in a a pair of socks for Riley in a really wild red variegated wool by Wildfoote. He was the one who picked out the wool, but I really liked it myself. Once I was working on the socks in my French class and my teacher - who is VERY French - looked very apprehensively at the socks. I told her that they were for my husband and that he had chosen the wool. At that she seemed to give a look that said "well I guess it's okay then."

The tension on these socks is 9 or 10 stitches to the inch. I had originally been putting in a cable down the sides every ten rows, but with the variegation and all it was hard to see, so I stopped putting in the cable.

This is a project that I've got in mind and that I have the book and the yarn for the project. Last year, when Riley and I were getting ready for our trip back east, I went into the knitting store and asked if they had a for pay project that I could do while on the trip. The clerk (Sandi) hesitated, but then she swung into action. It turns out that the store had a trunk show in the store and someone had stolen a pair of socks that were on display. The show was leaving soon and they needed to replace the socks. She showed me the socks as pictured in knitting book. They seemed very doable, looking like a guernsey pattern. So she gave me the two balls of wool needed and I was off. I later discovered that the pattern was actually formed by knitting twisted stitches, which is definitely more difficult than knit/purl patterning. But I did them and eventually earned enough store credit to buy the yarn for this coat for Emily.

I was sorting through what looked like a basket of projects and among the found projects was what looked like a sweater for a doll or teddy. I carefully disentangled the little pieces and discovered a back, two sleeves, a front, and an almost finished other front. So obviously what I had was a cardigan. The yarn used for this project is a 20 gram ball of Sirdar Wash 'n' Wear 4 ply that I bought in Hong Kong 25 years ago. I looked it up on the internet and they now make it in a 100 gram ball. What a difference. And upon closer inspection it looked like a cardigan for an American Girl doll. With all the pieces about ready for assembly I decided I would get right on it. The unfinished front was already starting the armhole decrease, but not yet to the neck decreases. The sweater was a raglan sleeve cardigan, so I estimated that I must be decreasing one stitch at the armhole every front row. I decided to just wing it on the neck edge, and trust that all would work out. Then I sewed the pieces together, using my French safety pins to hold the stitches of fronts and sleeves, and the back was on a needle. At this point I could slip the sleeve onto my Emily doll. It looked like a perfect fit. Next I needed the bands, button band first. I decided on a six stitch band, worked as follows: {k1,p1,k1,p1,k2] & [k1,p1,k1,p1,k1,p1]. When sewed on it seemed to be about 51 rows, and I decided on 5 buttonholes. The buttonhole band was as follows: [p1,k1,p1,k1,p1,k1} & [k2,p1,k1,p1,k1] On the 4th and every following 12th row I made a buttonhole as follows: [k2, yf, k2tog, p1,k1] and the following row I knit the loop. I'm noting this here because the buttonholes are perfect. I'm always forgetting exactly how I want to do them.

Now all that is left to do is to find the buttons and sew them on. That's why you can see the thread hanging down, it's the last remaining thread on the sweater and is meant to sew on the buttons with.  Somewhere I have a tin of very small buttons!