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.