Sunday, January 31, 2010


My last mittens for NaKniMitMo are the official NaKniMitMo10 mitten, an excellent combinationNaKniMitMo button of stranded and gansey knitting, Anna's Mittens by Spillyjane. (I got the pattern as a gift download through Ravelry, which worked well.) I knit mine out of odd bits of Patons Classic Wool.

Anna's Mittens

The excellent pattern is meticulously written in a way that is clear and helpful for novice knitters without being annoying to more experienced ones. There are some fine design elements: the colorwork section, which is thicker because of the stranding, covers the wrists like a pulsewarmer for extra warmth; the moss stitch frame forms a graceful arch at the top of the mitten. So clever!

Just to show off, here's the inside of the mitten. I expect with wear it will full, locking in the yarns and becoming fuzzy-cozy.

Stranding detail

The only mod I made was to shape the top of the thumb with mirrored decreases to echo the top of the mitten. I like the pattern enough to want to knit it again (gasp!) – I could see knitting pulsewarmers from just the colorwork section or mittens from just the gansey part.

Overall, I had a happy and productive NaKniMitMo. The moderators were unfailingly encouraging and the other participants expanded my vision and my queue. I never did get to my UFO thrummed mittens (cough), but I end the month totally smitten with mittens, eager to knit more, and looking forward to NaKniMitMo11.

Up next, the February knit-alongs. I understand a bunch of obsessive Sockdowners will be staying up past midnight tonight to stake their claims to sock patterns with fewer than 15 projects – already a few Sooners have been called for jumping the gun. Apparently manufactured scarcity works. I plan to participate eventually, but for the moment I'm focusing on Zarzuela's S/KAL and the mighty Ravel*****s.

Redacted 6/26/12: The Ravelry event formerly known by a name that rhymes with and supposedly infringes on the Olympics™.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Yesterday this unexpected delivery made my day: 5.1 oz. of Zarzuela's Fibers Blue Face Leicester, colorway Snowy Wood in January. It was my prize for the October-December 2009 Spin/Knit-along (I knit mitts).

Behold a thing of beauty!


Not only are the colors lovely, the fiber was so gently handled that its luster and crimp are readily apparent, as is its staple length. This is going to be fun to spin.


I plan to spin it during the spinning portion of the February-May 2010 Spin/Knit-along. The knitting objective is a shawlette, but I'm not sure this fiber wants to be a shawlette, so I'll decide when it's plied.

Many, many thanks go to Jessica for offering and creating the generous prize and for delivering it after a trying commute. I’m impatiently waiting for the February 1 S/KAL start.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Moving Along

Traveler sock has progressed from the awkward seven-needle stage and is looking more coherent.

Traveler sock in progress

The design cleverly places the pre-strung beads on the purl background of the cables, where they sit serenely and aren't tempted to slip to the wrong side of the fabric. I tweaked the highly embossed cables a little and in the process messed up one crossing, but decided it didn't make that much difference.

The seamless pocket required closer to 20 yds, not the 10 yds specified in the pattern, and I'm wishing I had left extra long tails for the grafting yet to come (sigh). Of course I had to try loading it with the family silver and other valuables.

Traveler sock with valuables

Items smaller than half a credit card fit – it's a treasure pocket, not a cargo hold. And in a nervous age of would-be shoe bombers, perhaps it may not be the best way to transport ferromagnetic loot, licit or illicit. Hm. Maybe I'll forgo a pocket on the second sock.

Traveler sock loaded

Still, it's fun and I'm enjoying the pattern. I'm less happy about the yarn. Although STR usually is beautifully spun, this skein has some frizzy patches. Let's hope it's not a trend.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Silk Road City

Having polished off three socks of shame, I felt emboldened to cast on for January Sockdown. It really is still January, despite today's monsoonal wind and rain and unseasonable warmth. For the first sock cast on of the new year I went with Traveler by Janel Laidman and Socks That Rock Lightweight colorway Blue Moonstone because of the new year's blue moon and my present mood. The sock is a little involved at the moment.

Traveler sock in progress

Traveler includes beading, cables, and a seamless secret pocket, shown in progress. The designer's description makes me think of fabulous tales of Marco Polo and the travel clothes with secret jewel compartments he had made in Samarkand. The sock is fiddly and absorbing, which I appreciate because the Silk Road city I've been thinking about lately is Kandahar.

In church each Sunday we read the names of U.S. KIAs and also pray for our enemies. Yesterday the shift from one theater of war to another was heartbreakingly noticeable, both in the numbers and the ages of the dead. There were many, many more killed in Afghanistan and they're getting younger, stark indicators of escalation. The prayer practice has been going on for a very long time, but someone objected strenuously the other day. I guess there's nothing like present reality to deflate both romantic history and legend.

A couple months ago, I won a drawing for a sample skein of St. Denis yarn, which arrived over the weekend. Merci, Veronik Avery!

St. Denis Nordique yarn

The mini skein of Nordique is a lovely raspberry sportweight. I'm eager to try it, but the skein was so tightly twisted that it had the effect of overspinning the yarn. It needs to relax a bit; perhaps we all do.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Socks of Shame #11

Just down from the clothesline and on my feet: Fox Faces Socks by Nancy Bush worked in String Theory Caper Sock, colorway Bee's Knees – formerly Sock of Shame #11! The first sock was finished September 2009, the second sock was finished yesterday evening.

Fox Faces Socks

These socks truly are the bee's knees. Ordinarily I don't care for yellow socks, but this is another inspired pairing of pattern and yarn, if I do say so myself. I'd happily use this soft, luxurious yarn again. It's subtly mottled, dense and not as sproingy as some, and feels fabulous when worn. And I'd happily knit this superb pattern again, the September SKA mystery pattern. I love the vikkel cuff, lace rib (which compensates nicely for lack of sproing in the yarn), and birdseye heel. The only modification I made was to the toe. I knit the fancy toe in the pattern...

Fancy toe

... but it proved to be uncomfortable on my Frankenfeet, so I frogged back and worked my usual round toe.

Three clothespins

Three empty clothespins! I daresay this calls for cake. Given the frequency and severity of cake fail roundabout Exit 151, that's no small matter.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blooming Tea Show and Tell

One of our more novel holiday gifts was a blooming tea set, a small glass teapot and an assortment of tightly furled tea balls. I'm generally a stuffy purist when it comes to tea and tend to think blooming tea is to good tea what faux fur is to good yarn. But the show is entertaining, so I thought I'd share it.

Tea balls start out about the size of a walnut and usually can be used to make several pots of tea. Here's one sitting in the well of a saucer.

Tea ball before

Some blooming teapots are proportioned like coffeepots, taller than wide; this one is a conventional teapot shape. It makes two servings.

Tea ball in the pot

The tea ball unfurls rapidly in hot (but not boiling) water. The pink flower is a globe amaranth, which has little aroma. Some tea balls smell like tea, some like jasmine or lily.


The color and flavor of the tea develops more slowly. Blooming teas tend to be on the mild side, the better to show off the flowers. For reasons that escape me, this teapot lid fits so tightly that when it's in place, the tea won't pour. Maybe to keep subtle fragrances in? Except there's nothing particularly subtle about blooming tea.


The tea itself looks like tea, so I didn't bother to take a picture of it. Some tea balls turn into tasty tea, but I threw out this particular pot after a couple sips. I suspect it could unclog stuck pipes.

Tea ball after

Above is a different tea ball after a couple uses, sitting in the same saucer, with a Western tea ball for scale. The blooming tea ball expanded a lot initially, but didn't change much after its first immersion in hot water.

That's blooming tea as I know it. The End.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sock of Shame #8

Outside temperatures warmed up enough today to show off Juta's Stockings, formerly Sock of Shame #8. The first sock was finished December 2008; the second this morning.

Juta's Stockings

I'm inordinately pleased with this pairing of pattern and yarn. Others have reported that Malabrigo Sock tends to pill and bag – I'll have to see if that happens, but for the moment I have happy feet.

My socks may no longer deserve shame, but the contemptible remarks of some in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti earn them my deepest opprobrium. Shame on you, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, you fall lower than my socks!

Those with greater compassion (and less wacko paranoia) may wish to respond to the Yarn Harlot's Knit-Signal calling for donationsKnitters Without Borders logo to Doctors Without Borders aka Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF had 800 staffers in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, before the earthquake. Their good work is greatly complicated by the massive damage to infrastructure and the overwhelming need.

For those who feel a responsibility to repudiate Robertson's brandOne Great Hour of Sharing logo of Christianity, my church has joined with other mainline Christian denominations in the OGHS Haiti Earthquake Relief appeal. Sadly, it is anticipated the Child Sponsorship program, which helps orphans, will need to expand, too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sock of Shame #1

By happy chance, the first Sock of Shame to come down off the clothesline in 2010 is the oldest of the bunch, black Pink Beads by Christina Coghill. It was the December 2004-January 2005 Six Sox Knitalong sock. The first sock predates Ravelry and even this blog. The second sock was finished Saturday evening.

Pink Beads socks

The sock is a basic design with beads that form graceful argyle diamonds. (DH insists they're really alien spawn. I suppose I can see that, although they look more like DNA strands to me.) The beads are placed while knitting and therefore sit vertically on the fabric, rather than being strung before knitting to sit horizontally. I have no strong preference for either technique – for me, it depends on how I want the beads to be arranged.

Pink Beads modeled

I rather like the bit of ankle bling. Here's a somewhat blurry indoor photo of the socks modeled over another pair. Alas, the good light is outside and it's sufficiently cold today that even with a second pair of socks, my legs rapidly became uncomfortable, so this shot will have to do.

And a brief public service announcement for those in the U.S.: The FCC is currently taking comments on Internet neutrality through this Thursday, January 14. You can bet your last skein that the giant telcoms have weighed in on the subject! Here's more information on the matter and an online petition for those who support 'Net neutrality.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Caption Here

These pix need snappy captions! I'm feeling somewhat at a loss for words – I've briefly described what's going on, but surely you can do better.

1. _______________.

   Sock and scissors
   Failed sock menaced by scissors, 18 months after cast on.

2. _______________.

   Brainz Frogged.

3. _______________.

   Ready for a nice relaxing 15-minute soak.

4. _______________.

   Reconditioned yarn.

5. _______________.

   About 95 yds skeined up.

I was tempted to use the reconditioned yarn to cast on Whitby for January Sockdown. However, as Socks of Shame #1, #8, and #11 each fit the January criteria, I think I shall resist startitis and finish a pair instead. Which leaves me pretty much speechless; feel free to insert your own caption.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Go Fish

Fresh from their bath, here's a pair of sprightly child-sized Goldfish Mittens, knit in Frog Tree Alpaca Sport. They're so adorable (if I do say so myself) that I think I must knit more, yea, a small school of them, in many sizes and colors.

Goldfish Mittens

Meanwhile, the people's choice among the Socks of Shame currently is Piscean, shown here with some strangely orange snacks. It's still early in the new year, but I can't help noticing a theme of colors and motif seems to be emerging. Hm....

Piscean Sock

Last year's fibery resolutions pretty much crashed and burned: there was backwards progress on the Socks of Shame as previously noted; the tally for NaKniSweMoDo was 2 FOs, not 7; the blankies never got started, much less made; a Sheep 2 Shoe kit was forfeit; and most of my stash is still stored in plastic. I joined a number of knitalongs, then didn't knit much. I'm not unhappy about how I spent my time and the consequences thereof, but it was hardly my most successful year in fiber.

Undeterred, I'm setting three fibery goals for the new year – or rather, reprising three goals:

Reduce the official number of singleton socks aka the Socks of Shame. The count currently stands at 12. But it occurs to me the real task is dynamic rather than static. No doubt at this time next year there will be new singletons on the clothesline – that doesn't trouble me. Success hangs on removing socks from the line faster than they are added.

Spindle sufficient yarn for a pair of socks before my birthday. Despite abject failure last year, I'm feeling strangely confident of achieving this goal. I can't say what's different this year. Some writers develop creative blocks; perhaps some spinners do also. Or perhaps I just needed to let that STR roving go.

Reduce use of plastics, particularly plastic bags and stash storage. It may well be that this should be a life goal rather than an annual fibery one, but it bears repeating. One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was a fancy insulated market bag that will be perfect at the farmer's market, not to mention it's a thematic fit.

Insulated fish bag

Coincidence? What say you? With all these synchronicities, surely 2010 will be a good year.

Monday, January 4, 2010


This blustery winter has been providing the motivation and the NaKniMitMo photo pool the inspiration to knit mittens!

Goldfish Mittens in bath

Next up, a pair of Goldfish Mittens, shown here cavorting in a Eucalan bath. They're a bit shy at the moment, but will be ready for their close up shortly.

Friday, January 1, 2010

First of the Year

Happy New Year! Here's something rarer than a year end blue moon: my first FO of the year, finished on the first day of year.

Yule Tree mitts

I'm inordinately pleased with these beaded Yule Tree mitts. They were knit out of handspun fingering spun from 2 oz. of Zarzuela's Fibers Superwash Merino Top, colorway Santa's Coming! The yarn turned out smooth and springy, with a delightful spongy quality, and the knit fabric has a light, smooth hand reminiscent of wool crepe. I beaded the cuff and the lace motif (but not the top edge because that would fidget me); the yarn held up to the friction of stringing well and supports the weight of the beads nicely.

Santa's Coming handspun yarn

Perhaps best of all, Yuletide is only half over, so my mittsNaKniMitMo button are still in season, at least for a few days. It seems like an auspicious beginning to NaKniMitMo.