Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fuzzy Feet

The final installment of stealth knitting is this pair of felted slippers for my dad for Christmas. Yes, they are that blurry in real life. It's the mohair.

These are from the ubiquitous Fiber Trends felted clog pattern, and it's popular for a reason. It goes very quickly, provided you do not make any number of silly mistakes. However, there are very many mistakes that you could make and screw them up entirely.
For example, I taught these as a class at Peggy's Strands of Heaven, and I think I'm doing it again in January (or February, check the class list). I made the sample on the wall there, the obnoxiously pink ones. These things look very silly unfelted, let me tell you. But they also look very silly if you try, as I did, to attach the outer sole to bottom of the inner sole. I don't know how many times I went through that before I got it right. And if you haven't done these in a while, don't do them while people are talking. It is guaranteed to get your count off, and it's hard to recover. But barring silly mistakes, these really are a fast knit.
If you know the pattern, these are made without the "bumper" on them. I had originally inteded to add a leather sole to them, but it was, well, leather colored, and these clogs are not. I didn't realize it would show too much until I held it up to the bottom. It would have completely covered the lower dark grey portion. So I decided to risk it, after testing the slippers on the garage floor to make sure they do not live up to their name.
What else am I going to do with men's 13" leather soles? Duncan already chewed through the bag, so there's no returning it.
I made a slight modification to the pattern as I went along. Well, I didn't so much modify it as decided to pick up the stitches the easy way. When you attach the hem of the cuff or the second sole to the body of the slipper, the pattern wants you to go pick up all the required stitches on one needle, and then knit them together and bind off. This is entirely too much effort for me, so I picked up each stitch individually, knit it together with its partner on the needle, and then bound off. While this idea drives Lorna crazy, I find it goes much faster. You can always squeeze a stitch or two in or out if you need to.
Also, I heard about a modification on the internet where you knit the sole in one solid piece. As the pattern stands, you work sort of a parabola shape with short rows, then seam it up the middle. This hasn't particularly bothered me, but I'm curious about the other way. I might give it a try during the second installment of the class.

In Summary:
Pattern: Fiber Trends Felted Clogs
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky, two skeins dark grey, one skein light grey (85% wool, 15% mohair)
Needles: Size 13, 16" and 24" , but you could get away with just the 16" if you had to
Time: Really quickly. You could easily do one clog in an evening, again with the no-mistakes caveat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Here is some of the stealth knitting I promised you. Although my parents got their Christmas gift early this year, I had to give them a little something on the day of (which in my family is the 24th, btw).
And for my mom, I had to put it in this cute little tin.
My mom is "allergic" to wool, so it's always a challenge to knit her something useful with cotton. Fixation is a wonderful thing. I love the stretchiness of it - there's no yarn like it. And it's rather thick, so it goes really quickly on socks.
This is the Broadripple pattern from knitty. I always recommend it to people, so it's high time I finally knit it. It was written for Fixation, and since I know of no good substitute, Fixation it was. These colors are very my mom.

Fun fast pattern, fun fast yarn. Perfect for a last minute Christmas gift.

In summary:Yarn: Cascade Fixation 98 % cotton, 2 % elastic - 2 skeins (one per sock)Pattern: Broadripple from knittyNeedles: Size 3 Sox StixTime: Less than a week for the pair


First, let me just me just point out that this picture is entirely representative of my best friend, Kelli.
Then, let me point out the awesomeness of the knitting.
That's an illusion scarf. Viewed at the right angle (nearly horizontally) it's a piano keyboard. And yes, the black keys are grouped correctly in sets of twos and threes.

Otherwise, it's just a striped scarf. Nifty, huh?

The pattern is Counterpoint from magknits. As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew I had to make it, and luckily, my best friend of many years has played piano for even longer. She asked for Cubs socks, but she got this, because I'd already started it.
It was kind of slow going at first, because sometimes I get cranky when I have to use a pattern. Suddenly though, the illusion pattern clicked and it went much faster (though not that fast, because I was still knitting on it furiously until about half an hour before she showed up). I had done an illusion pattern before (the alien scarf from Stitch 'n Bitch), but it was a very detailed chart. The trouble with detailed charts is that they show you the pattern, but not the technique. Now, I think I get it, and could probably design my own illusion pattern. This is a good thing, because a lot of the illusion patterns that do exist are crappy. Prepare for something cool.

The other advantage here is that it is made from Cascade 220 superwash, emphasis on the superwash. Kelli managed to spit beer on it within the first few hours of wearing it.
This probably deserves explanation.
You see, Kelli wanted chocolate cake for some reason, but that would have required going out, and that sounded like effort. I was trying to convince her to satisfy her sweet tooth without leaving, with Christmas cookies in particular. Somehow this led to me talking in the Cookie Monster voice (which I was hitting right on at that moment). And I said (as in the opening to "C is for Cookie"), "Let's think of other things that start with C," to which she immediately responded, "Chocolate Cake!"
But again, in perfect Cookie Monster voice, I said, "But it is not as a good as a cookie!" It's always good to time funny things just when someone is about to take a drink, because she spit beer all over the place. The scarf survived. Her sweater did not take the hit quite as well, but also survived.
Anyway, she needed a scarf, and the illusion pattern is always a fun party trick. She won't let up about the Cubs socks, though. I guess she knows what she's getting for her birthday.

In summary:
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, 1 skein black, 1 skein white
Pattern: Counterpoint from magknits
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Time: Entirely too long

A good excuse

No power for 36 hours.
Only leeching internet (poorly) off the neighbors.
There will be much blogging later about all my stealth Christmas projects, but not right now.
I did get the Opinionated Knitter as a gift. Rock on.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Home and Away

Dear NFL,
Please look away now. I'm not violating any trademark laws. Honest.
When Amanda was in town a little while ago, we met up in the city at Loopy Yarns (on the South Loop). It's a nice little shop with a good selection. They carried a fantastic brand I had never heard of called Marisol. Amanda recognized and said, "Oh, I have some baby llama from them!"
Baby llama? I was done for. I had to try it. And, it was cheap! Only $7ish for nearly 100 yards.
At first I pondered something nautical in navy and white, but I was raised in the midwest. I would probably get seasick knitting it.
Then I noticed a lovely orange. There's a certain team in a certain midwestern town that has the colors of navy and orange. I decided I need a hat. I wasn't really sure how much to buy, so I grabbed two skeins of each.
I knit this hat first.

I did have to delve into the second skein of the navy, but not by much. And I barely used any orange. But it's a cute hat, and it fits really well. I don't know why I'm standing so funny, but look at the hat. It fits.
I was discussing this at one of my knitting groups, and pondered making the inverse. I don't really look good in orange, but I definitely had the yarn for it. Then Lorna made a brilliant suggestion. How had I never thought of this before? I could make home and away hats!
So I made the identical hat with the inverse of colors.

I made them up as I went along. It's a wide 2x2 ribbing at the band (enough to cover my ears), a stripe, the fair isle, another stripe, and then the rest just finished off in the main color.

And the llama was a wonderful choice. It's absolutely luxurious. I'm not quite show how to describe it. It has some of the same fluffy good qualities as alpaca, but it's a very different feel. You might be able to get a hat out of one skein, or a nice stipey one with just two. I still have enough left to get a kids hat or two out it.
Warning: You may get the llama song in your head every time you knit it.
In Summary:
Yarn: The Marisol Project Miski, 100% baby llama, 88 yds
Pattern: Home and Away Bears hats, making them up as I went along
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 16" circ and dpn
Time: About two days each hat
Cost: About $30 for two hats, and change

Useless Little Things

I don't know why I knit these things sometimes. It just happens.

It's just....I was at this little yarn shop in the city (Knitter's Knitche near Southport and Belmont) and there were these cute little sample booties. And more importantly, there was Lorna's Laces angora. And the pattern was free and only used one skein.

So now I have another pair of angora baby booties. I don't have a baby. I don't know anyone that has a baby. More importantly, I don't know that any baby will wear angora booties, yet this is at least the second pair I've knit. Ah well. Off to the hope chest with them anyway. My potential future children had better not be allergic to any fibers, that's all I have to say.

In an attempt to provide more interesting pictures, here's the booties on Eeyore.

And here they are on Bullwinkle. You may notice certain similarities.

In summary:
Yarn: Lorna's Laces angora, 1 skein
Pattern: Free Lorna's Laces pattern
Needles: About a 4? I finished these a while ago, but never posted.
Time: It would have been a few evenings, if I hadn't made a tiny mistake which I eventually fudged over.
Cost: Under $10, but I don't know exactly

December Sock

Just like the picture says....

This was the December Sock Club sock. Those of you paying attention (Mom) might notice that we seem to have gone straight from October to December. This is true. However, I have a very good reason. December's was a charity knit for a women's shelter in DeKalb, and had to be returned to shop by a certain date. Also, it was knit with bulky yarn and I only had to do one. So it went really quickly.
But it's cute, no?

It's basically just a sock knit with bulky yarn. That's all there is to it. There's a little I-cord strap to hang it from, and that's about it. You could totally do this yourself.
I may have made the foot a little (okay, significantly) longer than the pattern called for, but what good is a small stocking? The big ones hold more stuff. This is one of those mistakes that becomes a "design element."
I'm working on November, and you can see the store sample below it. The yarn is really pretty, but it's hard to be excited about a 2x2 rib.
January though. January is going to be excellent.

In Summary:
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky
Pattern: December Sock Club kit
Needles: Called for 10.5, I think I used 11
Time: About two evenings. Seriously.
Cost: About $12, I think. Plus I added a few goodies for the charity

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Naughty little kitten has good taste

You know, this cat of mine is really freaking cute. He also, apparently, has extremely good taste. My kitten loves cashmere. He loves anything with cashmere content, including this bag, which he repeatedly steals.

It is felted with some gorgeous yarn with 10% cashmere content. That is apparently enough for him.

Because this is the situation I often find.

He has also stolen a cashmere sweater I was in the middle of felting and claimed it for his own. I've given up trying to take it back, he kept pulling it out of the WIP bin. (Note: It was an old sweater that didn't fit and I never wore and had holes it in. I thought it would make a cute bag, but aparently it's a great cat toy as well.)
Sweater thief
Not only that, if I leave a pile of laundry around (not that I would, of course...), he picks out the one cashmere sweater and starts kneading on it. He's smart, the little one, but trouble.

So of course, I had to buy some more of this particular yarn (in beige tones) to make him a cat bed of his own. And he keeps stealing the yarn, even before I've knit it up. It's going to be one expensive damn cat bed, but maybe I'll be able to get my bag back after that.

Duncan steals yarn

December Nights

I'm famous!
Well, not really. But I do have a pattern going out as part of a sock club kit from Peggy's Strands of Heaven in Plainfield, IL.
As you may know, Jen dyes awesome yarn. Her devotees managed to hook her up with the owner of Peggy's, who talked into dying an exclusive colorway for the holiday sock club.
Jen called the yarn December Nights, and it's very cool. It's obviously holiday colored, without being obnoxiously red and green.
The name made me think of little stars, so I adapted this stitch from a stich dictionary and came up with a nice sock pattern. It's a little hard to see here, but there are little star stitches spaced throughout that are basically made like bobbles.
Since the way I swatched this pattern, I had to make them toe-up, I used my new favorite, the rectangle toe.

Isn't that a nice looking toe? Seriously, I may be making a whole lot more socks this way from now on.
I wanted to try a new heel, so I used the Andersson heel developed by Colin from the yahoo socknitters list.

I'm really happy with it, but it looks very odd at first. On the needles, it seems entirely too short and wide, but once you actually put your heel in it, the fit is fantastic.
So overall, I'm very thrilled. And the shop has put them together in these adorable little kits that come with some lavender scented shea butter. I'm right there at the checkout line waiting for an impulse buy.
I'm also seriously excited about having other people make my sock. I know at least Jen is, so there's that. It's not exactly a beginner pattern, but I'm happy to help anyone that hassles me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

October Socks

Sigh. Again with the photography. I swear, these socks are not droopy in real life, nor are my feet clownishly long (well, at least not that I'm aware of).
I'm actually very pleased with these socks.

I finished them a few weeks ago, and they're the October sock of the month from the Ewe and Me sock club. The pattern is a basic toe up that I was extremely happy with.
To begin with (at the toe), you don't monkey around with Eastern, Turkish, or other exotic cast ons. No, you knit a little rectangle, and then pick up around it. I've heard of this toe, but I'd never done it before. I am so hooked. This has opened the world of toe-ups for me.

Moving along, you increase up the gusset, and then make this spiffy heel, with no wrapping or yarn overs in sight. It makes this cool little wedge.

And the coolest thing about toe-ups? You can quit whenever you want. No slogging through the foot, to get to the toe, so you can finish the damn thing. Nope. Just rib and get the hell out of there whenever you feel like it (though most are inclined to make them the same length, so don't get too ambitious on the first sock).
I'm also a huge fan of the yarn, which is Pagewood Farms in a merino/bamboo blend. It's got an incredibly soft feel to it, with an extra bit of softness from the bamboo. (The overall feel is a soft wool, though. If no one told you the bamboo was there, you'd never know it.)
The color is nice and autumny, but not one I wear much. Oh well. Doesn't hurt to have socks in every color of the rainbow. Still, I'm a little jealous that Lorna has it in a really pretty turquoise.
Overall, I may not love the finished sock, but I'm so inspired in the long run that it was definitely worth it.

In Summary:
Yarn: Pagewood Farms hand dyed sock yarn (420 yards, merino/bamboo)
Pattern: Basic toe up from Ewe and Me's Sock Club
Needle: Size 1 (I used two circs)
Time: Maybe two weeks of light work
Cost: About $20 for the kit (pattern, yarn, and mini scented candle)

Also, stealth knitting has been accomplished, but I can't talk about it just yet. Then it wouldn't be stealth knitting.

And - exciting news about sock patterns coming soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Hmm, so Kate tagged me a few days ago with this one. Why not?
(PS. I got to see Kate last week! You know how sometimes when someone leaves for a while and then comes back, you have absolutely nothing in common and nothing to talk about? Well it was exactly the opposite with Kate. It was like she never left, which makes us all miss her all the more.)

1. What were you afraid of as a child?
Honestly? The rapture. I would wake up terrified at loud noises and storms, and think Jesus was coming, and since I wasn't being lifted up, I hadn't prayed for forgiveness recently enough.
No harm done by religion there.

2. When have you been most courageous?
Ending bad relationships.

3. What sound most disturbs you?
I'm not a fan of licking.

4. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve been in?
Remember that thing with the gauze in my mouth? That.

5. What’s your biggest fear for your children? (or children in general if you don’t have some of your own.)
That I'll have a handicapped child and not be able to deal with it.

6. What is the hardest physical challenge you’ve achieved?
I climed Mount Washington in Vermont.

7. Which do you prefer: Mountains or oceans/big water?
Neither. I'm a Midwesterner.

8. What is the one thing you do for yourself that helps you keep everything together?
I think the knitting thing is fairly obvious.

9. Ever had a close relative or friend with cancer?
Both grandparents.

11. What is the best part of being in a committed relationship?
Having someone you can do nothing with.

12. What is the hardest part of being in a committed relationship?
Staying in one.

13. Summer or Winter?

14. Have you ever been in a school-yard fight? Why and what happened?
No, not really.

15. Why blog?
To keep track of my work, and to gossip with all my knitting friends.

16. Did you learn about sex, and/or sex safety from your parents?
All from my mom. More than I wanted to know, really.

17. How do you plan to talk to your kids about sex and/or sex safety?
The same textbook, age-appropriate way.

18. What are you most thankful for this year?
My new little kitten. :) He's such a cutie.

Ah, now the tagging time. It doesn't say how many to tag, so I'll get Amanda and Jen, and anyone else that wants to.

Entrelac scarf

I tried to get Worfy to model this scarf, but it just isn't working.

He's cute, and it would match him really well, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Oh well. It's still a nice scarf.
This scarf was a long time UFO that I started in the days before I took up sock knitting (there were such days?). I wanted to use this gorgeous Trekking yarn, but socks and I were still not talking at that point. Eunny Jang pointed out how well it looked in entrelac, and I hadn't done entrelac, so I thought I'd give it a try.
I couldn't find an entrelac pattern that used sock yarn, though, so I took a few liberties. In fact, I took a lot of liberties. I took an Ann Norling afghan pattern intended for worsted weight yarn, subbed in an appropriate needle size, and kept knitting.
And knitting. And leaving it in my car untouched for months at a time. And knitting.
But with the weather getting cold, and this scarf matching my charcoal winter coat oh so well, I decided it was high time to finish it. And that only took about a week of light effort.
If only I can keep tackling these UFO's at a rate faster than I cast on.

In summary:
Yarn: Trekking XXL in greys, two skeins, 75% Wool, 25% Nylon, 450 yds. $18.95
Needle: Size 2 (2.75 mm)
Pattern: Adapated from an afghan pattern
Time: A year as a UFO plus about a week as a WIP
Cost: About $40

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Really cute things to be thankful for

Okay, knitting soon, I promise. I just took a bunch of pictures, and I have some exciting news coming up.
But I'm not going to show you any of that.
Instead, Kittens! And puppies!
Remember how Lorna helped with the rescue of that hording situation? Well, she fostered an adorable little Corgi named Marigold. Sadly, my parents had a Corgi who died a few weeks ago, and I knew little Marigold would be perfect for them. So we decided I would bring her home for their Christmas gift, and wrapped her all up.

She's not really thrilled about it, but it's still cute.

Seriously cute.
She's already got my parents well trained, and she gets along just fine with with their three cats, and their other dog, Bullwinkle. See?

And since Heather asked, Duncan was also being incredibly cute this weekend. Here's a sampling, but there's more on my flickr site (ID: theoriesofstring).
Here he is playing with my Webkinz kitty, who is just about his size.

He's very vicious when he attacks. I'm so glad he attacks the substitute kitten now instead of my hand.
The other cats were fascinated, and for a while stood around like creepy statues watching him.

That's George (no tail) and Fred (white spot) hanging out in my room watching the kitten. George and Duncan became really good friends after a few days, and they've been playing together a lot.
The little one liked to sleep on a leopard print pillow in my room, but this is as close as I could get to a picture. He looks really cute on it though, and really blends in.

But it wasn't all play. He put in some work on the laptop.

And he did some organizing in the home office.

He says, "Hey, we're putting covers on those TPS reports now."

Worfy, on the other hand, found the heating vent immediately and stretched out his entire belly to it. Sadly, I did not get a picture of that, but here he is being cute in some knitting. More about the knitting later.

All in all, it was a very exciting Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanks Secret Pal!

Guess what I got?

If you guessed a subscription to Interweave Knits from my Secret Pal, you're right!
I've sort of been thinking about it for a while, but I always just wind up buying it at the LYS. Well now I get it delivered right to my door!
It showed up before my pal said anything, and it didn't come with a card, so I was a little confused at first. But it all makes sense now, and I'm a proud owner.
There has been some rumbling about this issue, many people are not crazy about it, but I have to say, there are quite a few that I like.
I am completely and utterly in love with this bag, and will probably make it once the current knitting rush is over.

I had thought about felted textured pieces before, but I never knew how it would turn out. Looks like it will turn out completely awesome, especially if you stitch around the cable with a contrasting yarn first. I can't believe I've never seen this done before, it's so smart, but it makes perfect sense.
I am also a fan of a couple of the sweaters (the Gathered Pullover and the Henley Perfected, if you're curious), and there are motifs and designs from several others that are inspiring (including the kitty cat fair isle pattern).
Thanks again!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Half a llama, twice the llama, llama, llama, duck

I have the llama song in my head.
Now you do too.
Don't say I never gave you anything.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And more socks

These ones are September's sock of the month, and I finished them Oct. 1. Why haven't I blogged about them yet? There are several reasons, including general laziness, but I am displeased with the photos. I'm still struggling with that, but at least the Fawkes ones came out okay.
The yarn is Austerman Step, which is a little scratchy, but the aloe and jojoba make up for it.
It's a nice, simple pattern, beaded rib, cuff down. Once again, I wouldn't have chosen the yarn (or possibly the pattern) on my own, but I'm pleasantly surprised with it.
And the stripes match up pretty well.
In Summary:
Pattern: September sock of the month, Ewe and Me
Yarn: Austerman Step (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 450 yds), 1 skein
Needles: Size 1 dpn
Cost: Just under $20 for the yarn and pattern
Time: Knit in about two weeks, took about 4 more to blog

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fawkes Socks

Dumbledore (who is apparently gay) likes knitting patterns, so it's no surprise there are a ton of Harry Potter patterns out there. There is of course, Charmed Knits, and a few sock patterns out there too.
This one, sent to me by Carrie Penny, is based on Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet pheonix.

I realize two things about this photo. 1. It probably violates some kind of copyright law. Sorry. 2. I should probably have used the book The Order of the Pheonix for the picture, but the colors on this one match so much better.
I needed a firey colored yarn for it, but I just wasn't finding anything. I looked for a long time until I finally found Jen's Etsy site, and she had this gorgeous yarn called sunburn.

This picture actually shows the colors pretty true to life. They are absolutely saturated, and I love it.
I also really liked the pattern. It's supposed to be rising flames, and it's a pretty easy 12 row lace repeat. This would not be bad for a beginner at lace.

They're a bit tight on me (my gauge might have been slightly off), but I'm sure they will mold to my feet, as only hand-knit socks can.
So seriously. Loved the pattern, loved the yarn, love the way they look together, and it's all thanks to my internet friends Carrie and Jen. Yay for the internet.

In Summary:
Pattern: Fawkes, from Socktopia, sent by Carrie
Yarn: Sunburn sock yarn (100% superwash merino), hand dyed by Jen
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm), two circs (not that I don't like dpns, but the lace pattern was a lot easier to do with a longer needle)
Cost: $19 for the yarn, pattern was a present
Time: I probably dabbled for about a month with these, but you could do them faster. It's a nice little pattern.

Gratutious new pictures of Worfy and Duncan (he's getting so big!) can be seen at their respective flickr photosets, and new youtube videos of them playing can be seen here and here.