Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You really are warmer with a scarf

Multnomah-1 004
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
It felt like a saga, but once I got down to it, it only took a few days. I knit a Multnomah after the goading of Chrissy the Great through the vehicle of her podcast. It sounded so dang intriguing I just had to check it out.

I had two skeins of Knit Picks Stroll Multi in Cupcake. I was seduced by the pink and brown combination even though I just KNEW I would not like it knit up into socks. And I didn' t. Then I saw this shawl thingy and thought my problems were solved.

I started first with size 4 needles because I knit tightly and thought the recommended 3's would be too tight. With the 4's, the whole thing just looked sloppy. So I breathed deep and tried the 3's.

Everything looked well enough, but when I was just about ready to start the feather and fan, I realized it was doll sized. I know people are saying that theirs looked deceivingly small, but this was ridiculous. There was NO way I was going to keep it like that, even if my only goal was to have a scarf in the end.

Then I decided to simply throw caution to the wind and give it a go on size 7 needles. Mystery of mysteries, it worked. I was very nearly on gauge. Near enough to say that next time if I use 6's, I'll be spot on. I'm so happy with the colors and how they look made up into this cute little shawl.

I wear it wrapped around my neck as I shiver while working. It is so true, you're much warmer with a scarf!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Perhaps I'm listening to too much Stash and Burn...

My Orange Mystery Mitts
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Blasphemy! There is no such thing as too much Stash and Burn...however...

...everything I'm knitting seems to be in a shade of orange or turquoise (see it peeking in at the top of the photo??). Those are my Mock Cable Socks.

But these are some Mystery Fingerless Mitts by Terry Morris. I adore the gansey-type texture patterning and the construction is really fun. My gauge appears to be a bit big so they might be a little too loose for mitts. Should that be the case I think they would still work out using the mitten variation in Clue #5.

Or I'll frog back a repeat and redo the thumb. Not sure yet, but I think they're great!

Everybody should make them!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Holy Slouch Hat, Batman!

Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Good grief. This thing is enormous.

I wanted this to be a cute silent statement of support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (my MIL died of it 15 years ago). Instead, it's something I could take a bath in.

There's one thing that can be learned from this...

Gauge lies.

As if we didn't already know that.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dolores Park in the Wild!

Dolores Park (2)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Can I say that if it is just me? I wore it out to Michael's today...nobody said anything to me, but I did catch a few people looking at it. They were jealous...I know.

I digress. Today is chilly. I refuse to say "cold" because I, being a Minnesotan, know what cold is. 46 degrees F isn't "cold", but it is chilly. Chilly enough that I felt the urgent need to break out the Dolores Park Cowl and Axel's Fingerless Mitts.

I made the cowl last May and the mitts not too long after, I think. It's Malabrigo Chunky in Stonechat (which by the way is MY color) and it's heavenly. The cowl is perfect to wear with my jean jacket and my fall jacket as long as I sheild it from the Velcro. It still looks perfect but the mitts are a bit pilly from wear. I can handle that though.

These were just the perfect touch to keep my feeling good on my little trip over to Michael's. Patons Classic is on sale for $3.99 a ball through tomorrow. I could not resist, but I didn't go crazy.

I bought 6 skeins of Mercury, a new colorway that looks...well, like mercury. It's a deep silvery blackish gray almost a hint of dark blue kind of shade, if you get my drift. And it's a solid. I can see this as some sort of sweater. Pullover or cardigan is yet to be determined.

I also bought two skeins of Dark Gray Mix and Burnt Orange. The gray is a weakness of mine. For some reason, that colorway is supremely soft, much softer than some of the others. I also made my Oblique (best sweater EVER) with the Dark Gray Mix. It's my fave.

Lastly, I got two skeins of a new colorway, Burnt Orange. It's a great shade of orange, but it's a solid and I have my eye on the Lines and Circles Cravat from Leigh Radford's new book, One More Skein. Because it's shown in a kettle-dye, that's what I have my heart set on. I picked up some orange Wilton's icing dye and I'm going to overdye the lovely solid orange with a slightly darker shade of red-orange and hopefully achieve a sort of monochromatic tonal effect.

Oh, and I got what looks like the best pumpkin scooper in the entire world! At least I hope so. It's huge, it's metal, it has teeth on the edge...I'm very hopeful.

Off to skein some orange yarn...wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sprucey Lucy - aka, BEST SOCK EVER!!!

Sprucey Lucy FO (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
I don't know what it is about this one, but just so you know...I'm right. It is the best sock ever!

For starters, I made these out of a great yarn - Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in Glenwood. (I still can't get over the fact that I got 2 complete good sized pairs of socks out of 3 skeins!!)

For seconds, the pattern is Sprucey Lucy, a fabulous free pattern by the lovely Wendy D. Johnson. I'd missed these on the Ravelry KAL, so at the end of a particularly prolific sock month, I decided to make these.

I was happy as I knit them and drooling as I finished them. Now that I've had several opportunities to wear them, I am blissfully happy with them! For some reason that I can't put my finger on, these socks fit much better and the pattern is the perfect combination of texture and plain stockinette. I think it's the perfect way to showcase a special yarn. I know this yarn is very common, but it was special to me because it was the best sock yarn I'd ever knit with.

My ONLY wee tiny complaint is that I now know what people mean by the 'princess and the pea' effect with socks. This yarn and Patons Stretch Socks are yarns that I definitely notice a little soreness on the bottoms of my feet from the purl bumps. If I wear my clogs around the house, it's not as bad as if I'm just in the socks walking around on the hardwood. Even then, it's not terrible, just something more noticeable than with other socks.

Didn't help that I decided to take a 3 mile walk in them either. I won't be doing THAT again anytime soon.

But I adore these socks. Simply wonderful!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Best Sweater Ever!!

Top-Down V-Neck (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
You know how it goes...you get the new magazines and drool over the fantastical sweater patterns. Maybe you even make some of them. But what's the sweater you turn to over and over again? Your go-to sweater?

It's that plain stockinette sweater with the clean lines and simple details. At least that's how it is for me.

This sweater is my new favorite - I just hope and pray that the yarn wears well.

This is the Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck by Heidi Kirrmaier, made in size M with Moda Dea Silk n'Wool Blend in Aquatic. It's so comfy I absolutely cannot wait to wear it everywhere. The proportions are incredibly accurate. There's no need to worry about modifying the armscye or fretting over the arm decreases being too many. I'm convinced anybody would end up with a perfectly fitting sweater. The arms are comfortable without being too big. The shaping in the body is just enough. The neckline is the most flattering v-neckline I've ever made.

The only thing I did differently than the pattern was the rolled edges on the arms and body. Rather than doing stockinette right up until the bind off, when I got to the length I wanted, I purled one round, then knit 6 rounds. That one little purl round was enough to control the curl so it didn't lose 5 inches and make it look like there's an inner tube around my waist.

Anyways, it's great! I can't wait to wear this to soccer and football games. It's awesome and I highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hoo-ray for stash busting!

Basic Slip Stitch #1 (3)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Aren't these adorable? I can't get over them. They're the perfect thing to help me cheer up out of my bronchitis funk.

I finished both pairs of August socks for the Socks from the Toe Up KAL on Ravelry by August 17th. What to do with the rest of the month? I didn't really care to make another of either pattern so I dove into the sock scrap box.

I've been wanting to do this ever since I saw the Blender Socks on Ravelry by Heather Sebastian. I used Wendy D. Johnson's Basic Slip Stitch Socks pattern from the Socks from the Toe Up book and scraps from 4 different socks.

I did the toes all with one yarn because it's just easier that way. I also tried something new. I rounded the toe slightly by doing the first 3 increases consecutively rather than on alternating rounds. That worked out really well.

Once the toes were done, I started using another yarn on every other round, carrying it up the side (I put that side on the inside of my foot). I did the heel turn with one yarn, then the heel flap and gusset join with another. I continued alternating on the leg, adding new yarns as I ran out. I didn't use any particular order and as you can tell, the socks are fairly fraternal, but that does not bother me one bit. I thought I had equal yardage of everything, but apparently I did not because you can see in the sock on the right that I had to use another yarn at the very top.

No big deal at all and I really adore these! They are comfy and cute and fun and everything a handknit sock should be. These socks are the ones that have made me decide once and for all that I need some clogs or some other type of shoes so show of my socks.

Best of all, I was able to take what could have been seen by some as throw away yarn and make it into something supremely useful!

On to the next!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seaweed's - The Crap Sock

Seaweed FO
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
I shouldn't be so hard on the poor thing...it's really not it's fault. It's Wendy D. Johnson's free Seaweed Socks pattern knit from Patons Stretch Socks in Olive. The pattern is nice and well written and pretty, but I've decided I'm not the biggest fan of the stretchy yarn.

Normally, I don't have any problem with the purl bumps on the inside sole of my sock. No need for the "princess" sole around here. However, this stretchty yarn is not as smooth and soft as the other yarns I like, the woolier sock yarns. It feels almost like I'm knitting with dental floss and while not exactly uncomfortable, I can feel a difference with this yarn on the bottom of my foot.

That's not even to say that the yarn doesn't make a good sock. It really does. I know how to knit with it and get great results using the stretch. I like the colors too. But it's a bit uncomfortable to knit with and I think I'll be just fine taking a break from this stuff.

Now that I have a new pair of socks to wear!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Diamond Ganseys for....what??? a KAL??? Really???

More Diamond Ganseys (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Yep, you heard right! I'm still rockin' the Socks From the Toe-Up KAL on Ravelry. Diamond Ganseys are done (love!) and I'm on the gusset of the second Seaweed Sock.

I think my plight is the same as for many knitters. The sure kiss of project death is a deadline or anything that in any way dictates how, what or when I knit my project.

However, this one is different. Firstly, I found it at the height of supreme sock mojo, right after purchasing Wendy D. Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. I'd been leary to try her method because I've had such success with Cat Bordhi's sockitectures, but there were a ton of prizes to be won and I still would like to fill my sock drawer by winter.

Interestingly enough, I was knitting the Lacy Ribs socks at the same time as the rest of the KAL. I was using Cat's Riverbed architecture because I thought that would be best. Yet when the sock was finished, the heel was too wide and there was too much fabric pretty much everywhere on the foot of the sock. Then I found the KAL, realized I was right in step and got started.

I found the KAL on July 20 and thought, what the heck, I'll do the July socks! So I actually finished the On-Hold Socks and Nanner Socks with a couple days to spare. I didn't win any prizes, but I'm so happy to have two more pairs of socks that fit so well!

I'm having an excellent time knitting socks and hope the mojo lasts. With the Ganseys finished, I'll get the Seaweeds done soon. I have some Lorna's Laces left over from the Nanners so I'm trying to get another pair out of the leftovers. I chose the Sprucey Lucys for those since that sock was already done by the KAL and I won't feel like I'm duplicating efforts later on.

Yay, socks are fun and what's better than a drawer full of comfy wool socks in a MN winter??

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finished! with time to spare even!

Yay! The Nanners are done! This was a new record and one that I never thought I'd ever make with a patterned sock. I started these on July 25 and finished them on July 28. Wow!

I'm extremely pleased with the feel of this yarn. It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi (the fanciest sock yarn I've ever used, BTW) in Glenwood. It feels silky smooth, the colors are lovely and well spaced - they just look lovely and feel fantastic. I hope they wear just as well. Yes, it's July and these are 80% merino, but it's only 73 here and I'm wearing these for the rest of the day.

About the photos, the top photo shows my issue with the Russian bind off (on the right) and why I love the sewn bind off (on the left). Maybe I'm just not that comfortable with it, but I think I'll stick with what I know and love and can do well. I don't hate it enough to pick it out, just don't think I'll do it again. But you'll never know if there's something you'll like better unless you go for it. I'm happy I tried it!

And that's about all there is to say about that. I'm quite impressed with myself to have made both July pairs of socks in 8 days and I'm looking forward to August. Until then, I need to dive in a tackle creating a very pointy toe for a pair of socks to fit my mom's size 12 very pointy feet. I'd better have a notepad handy. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting Ready for the Ganseys

I'm nearly done with my Nanners and it's nearly August...so naturally I'm looking forward to the Diamond Gansey Socks for the Socks from the Toe Up KAL on Ravelry! All my stash sock yarn is self-striping and I knew that wouldn't do for gansey socks. Let's face it, I'm a cheapskate and even though I wanted a kettle-dyed yarn, I didn't want to go to the LYS to get it.

So last week was Coupon Commotion week at JoAnn. Armed with six 40% off coupons, I came away with 2 balls of Sensations Bamboo & Ewe in red and Red Heart Heart & Sole; 2 balls of Spring Stripe and 4 balls of Ivory - bring out the Crock Pot and the Wiltons!

I knew I wanted a kettle-dyed look and that was about all I was sure of. I didn't wait for the water to be hot before adding the yarn. It's superwash so I figured it could handle sitting in there. I let it soak some more in the plain water with some vinegar (I don't measure) because I didn't want the dye to have time to soak in all over the place and make solid yarn.

As for color, I pulled out Wiltons brown and burgundy hoping for something resembling fall leaves. I got orange. To make it a little more golden, I added several drops of McCormick's yellow. After I'd mixed the dye in my 4 cup measuring up, I dumped it in. I dumped it fairly evenly over all the yarn, but I didn't touch it at all or take too much care to get it all covered. I never stirred it, never disturbed it once. It soaked in extraordinarily fast so I let it cool, rinsed it, and hung it out on the plant hooks to dry. I think it looks how a kettle-dyed yarn ought to look.

I'm so excited to start the Diamond Gansey Socks!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sock Mojo Rules the Day!

I'm so happy the sock mojo is still here. It's so fun! I'm having a great time with the Socks from the Toe Up KAL on Ravelry and frankly, still rather amazed that I am actually participating. Yeah it's only the first month I've done it so there's still time for me to fall on my face, but for now, it's all good.

Since I finished the On-Holds on July 25, I naturally figured "why not try to knock out some Nanners as well?" The Nanner Socks are the selected free pattern for July in the KAL. It's a great excuse to use the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Glenwood. I'd bought 3 skeins intending for it to be a shawl of some sort, but I now know I'm not a huge fan of small shawls. Plus, since the sock mojo appears to be unstoppable, why not use it for these? Even though it's multicolored, it's not so busy as to obscure the pattern.

Here's the progress photos...

Pattern: Nanner Socks, size M, 9” long, 6” or so cuff
Began: July 25, 2009
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in Glenwood
Needles: Knitpicks US size 2 (2.75mm) 32” nickel-plated circular (Magic Loop)
Mods: none
Toe: Judy’s Magic Cast On
Heel: Slip-stitch Gusset Heel as written in pattern
Bind Off: Sewn BO and Russian Bind Off

Comments: I tried the Russian Bind-Off on the first sock and I don’t think I’m a big fan. I’m going to go back to my favorite sewn BO for the next one. I adore this yarn and it looks really nice in the pattern. The sock is twisting a bit, but hopefully it won’t be a problem during wear.

Hey look - I finished something for a KAL!!

I can hardly believe it. Typically, committing to something is a sure precursor to my abandoning that something completely, but that does not seem to be the case this time. Hooray!

These socks were super fun to knit. They caught my eye the first time I flipped through the book and I was pretty happy to find the KAL and have this be the sock for July. It was even more fortuitous that I had this lovely colorway of Patons Stretch Socks in my stash (Kelp). The pattern looks great and the fit of the socks is superb.

I couldn't ask for a nicer pair of socks!

Stay tuned for the Nanners. Nevermind that I started them a mere 6 days before the end of July; I'm still going to try to knock them out in time to be eligible for those prizes as well. Oh, I so want to win something...anything!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yay more socks!

Ridgeline Master Socks (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Hooray for sock mojo! Apparently I only have it in the summer. This is wonderful because they are great summer projects and I really do need more socks.

While I typically consider myself a process knitter and I do REALLY enjoy the process of knitting Cat Bordhi socks, I think the project knitter in my has a chance to flourish when it comes to socks. Nothing - besides dishcloths and clogs - gets used more on a day-to-day basis than my socks.

There really is something to be said for having a pair of socks that fit you like a glove. No floppy toes, no falling inside my shoes; it's really fantastic.

I plan to muscle my way through my comparatively small sock yarn stash and have a full drawer by winter.

Oh, and my mom asked if I'd make her some socks.

She's a woman's size 12.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Stretch Upstream Socks
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Several months back, Michaels had Patons Stretch Socks on clearance...clearance! Yes, I know it's not from a yarn store and it's not a high end sock yarn, but clearance? Clearance? I had to get some (ahem, 4 pairs worth).

But I wasn't sure how to deal with it, being stretch and all. Plus, I wasn't really in a sock knitting place at the time. But we're experiencing a few days of tropical heat and humidity, thus I am now very much in a sock knitting place.

Where to start? With the tried and true, of course. The Upstream Master Sock pattern from New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi.

The Pontoon Toe on the first sock came out a little loosey goosey because I was overly conscious of not overstretching the yarn, but I could easily fix that at the end with a spare length of yarn. After that, I just pretended the stretch didn't exist and knit like normal.

I think they turned out nicely. Because only I can expect to have freezing cold feet when the heat index is 100 F, I promptly put the socks on. They felt good and fit well but when I took them off, they looked like they might have become stretched out and loose along the sole. I think I'll hold off knitting any more of the yarn until I've washed these and worn them a couple times. Of course they need washing because wearing socks in my house is a sure sign that you will step on a blob of cookie dough - which I did.

The delay in knitting more of the Stretch Socks won't cramp my style, however. I have several more pairs-worth of regular non-stretchy sock yarn that is begging to be knit. I have a goal of a full drawer by the first frost.

All hail the socks!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Pure and Simple Carigan

241 in Cactus (4)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
So I wanted a cotton-y sweater that I could make and take along on our trip to Orlando in May. Will I need a sweater in Orlando in May? Maybe, maybe not, but I stil wanted one.

I fell in love with the Knitting Pure and Simple Neck-Down Shaped V-Neck Cardigan (#241). I decided on Cotton Ease because I like the yarn and there were some new colors. Cactus looked like it was it. I mean IT.

'Lo and behold, Michael's actually had these new colors. Cactus looked a little different than it had on my computer screen, a bit more muted, but it was nice and I still thought that color was IT. I bought 6 skeins and went for it.

I used 7's and 5's, just like the pattern recommended, but has a slightly larger gauge than the suggested 20 sts/inch so I felt comfortable choosing my exact bust size. And since it only has the tie closure, it didn't matter even if it were a little smaller.

The knitting went fast and it was turning out lovely. Until I tried it on. And really looked at my face instead of the sweater. The color makes my skin go just enough green to make me look like I'm ready for the grave. This was really disheartening since I'd had such high hopes for this sweater. I put it aside with only a few rows done on one sleeve.

After starting - and loving - a February Lady Sweater but needing something more mindless for TV watching one night, I decided to pick up the Cactus Cardi again and get it over with.

Though I consider this pattern to be overall well written and without errors, I did have to make the same adjustment that many people have made - fewer decreases on the sleeves. The sleeves actually start out quite wide and decrease fairly rapidly to a size that would be too tight for most people around the bicep/elbow area.

So I did the sleeve decreases as directed in the pattern, but I did one fewer decrease for my size - to 48 stitches. I knit 10 rounds even, then did increase round/4 rounds even for a total of 3 times. Then switch to the smaller needle, do 10 rounds of seed stitch, and bind off with larger needle knitwise. Perfect just-below-the-elbow sleeves.

Now that it's finished and I've had a chance to wear it in the wild, the color is still not ideal but not as bad as I'd originally thought. Color aside, it is a FANTASTIC cardigan! I love it. It's light, comfortable, fits perfectly, and my sleeve length is perfect for me. Nothing to get in the way or have to continually push up, perfect for when I'm knitting or working. Perfect.

In every way. You should make one. I'm making another in dark brown.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Essential Tank

Essential Tank (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Another chapter in the saga that is choosing the correct size...yet this one appears to be a success!

It's the Essential Tank from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard. It is awesome!

I bought some Knit Picks Shine Sport in Violet from a fellow Raveler - 7 skeins to be exact. I don't even remember what I intended to make with it at first, but it couldn't have been anything that great. The yarn sat in my stash box FOREVER and was knit/crocheted/knit/frogged multiple times.

Until I got around to swatching for the Essential Tank, a design that really stood out to me in the book.

I labored over the decision of size. Now intellectually, I know that I'm really not overweight, but you see, I'm about 15 pounds over where I was even after my 3rd kid. This is disconcerting to me, hence I tend to fret over the notion that I'm much larger than I really am. Hence, I tend to make my sweaters and such much larger than they really need to be.

I'd already made Pink from the Custom Knits book and while I turned out great, it would have been better to knit it smaller. Yet at the time, I was utterly convinced I needed to make the large.

So I, with my 36" bust, thought I'd need to make this tank in the 36" size. Then I hung out on the Knit and Tonic Ravelry group for a while and read posts by Wendy herself saying that she likes everything with about 2" of negative ease and would recommend that for all the designs. That's just "how she rolls". I thought "you know what? That's how I roll too."

So I went with the 34" size. Turns out she knows what she's talking about and though I still would like to lose that 15 pounds, the tank looks pretty darn awesome!

The only problem is the neckline. I must have picked up the stitches a bit too tightly because there isn't a lot of stretch at the pick up line for the edging. I may rip it out, pick up the stitches with a larger needle, then reknit the edging with the smaller needle.

All in all though, I'd say this was a huge success!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Littlest Buddy has a New Hat!

Very Warm Hat for Boy #2
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Just in the nick of time too! I finished this on Monday, I think? Can't remember, don't want to check.

At any rate, I finished it in time for the arctic cold snap that dumped mega sub-zero temps and windchills on our lovely Minnesota landscape.

I used all stash yarn (yay for stash yarn!) - Patons Classic in Taupe and Forest, and Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted in Red Fox. The inside is taupe with red "flames" and the outside is red with camo (Forest) "flames". Buddy loves the red/camo side and I must agree. It's adorable!

And warm, which is the important thing when one has to catch the bus in -40 windchills. I made myself one too. It's the best!

Stay warm, people!