Saturday, September 30, 2006

Koigu Socks

Koigu (Autumn Leaves) Socks
Pattern: Basic Sock Pattern using Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn:Koigu KPPPM P704
Needles: KnitPicks double points, 1's and 0's
Start Date: September 11, 2006
End Date: September 28, 2006
Comments: These are the first socks I've knit with Koigu and overall I am very happy. The spin of the yarn and the depth of color is fantastic. I was a little bummed about the yardage (175 yards - For comparison, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock has 215 yards). I nearly ran out of yarn on my first sock. I ended up shortening the foot length by half an inch just to be safe and good thing I did. The picture to the right shows you what I had left over from both socks. Normally I knit 8 1/4 inches from the heel to the start of the toe decreases, but this time I stopped at 7 3/4 inches. It definitely still fits, but it is a little short. I'm just glad I wasn't doing ribbing or a cable as I would have had to frog the sock for sure! Oh well, I'm sure I'll still knit some more socks with Koigu, as it is so lovely, but I'll be very aware of the yardage.

Returning to the positive - While knitting I stopped repeatedly just to look at the lovely fabric the Koigu created. I'm not sure if it's because of the spotty coloring or what, but I just absolutely loved knitting these socks.

And here's a few pictures of me modeling the Silk Shrug (I could not get a good picture to save my life. These are the best I could do...). I am very happy with this shrug and I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it. I was tempted to knit it in a pretty light blue, but I'm glad I went with a neutral brown since it will go with practically everything. It is a tad more snug than I wanted. The pattern didn't provide much in the way of sizing (I knit the M/L size). Fortunately, I have recently reapplied myself to eating well and exercising again so I think this shrug will fit perfectly within a month or two:) (Full details about the Silk Shrug are in my September 24th post).

I finished the second sleeve for Matt's sweater this week as well so I just need to finish the back and knit the front sometime before the winter solstice. Much better than last year's frantic holiday knitting schedule. No picture now, but I'll give you another peek as we get closer to the winter holidays.

Tonight Matt and I are going to our first opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. We'll be seeing Turandot and I am so excited! (My Mom gave us tickets to four of the operas this season as an early winter solstice gift). Yea! I bought a pretty dress last weekend and we've been reviewing the music and libretto all week. We're ready:)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Besotted Scarf

Besotted Scarf
Pattern: Besotted Scarf
Yarn: K1C2 Paint Box in Walnut Plum #10
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 5/3.75 mm
Start Date: September 5, 2006
End Date: September 27, 2006
Comments: Not much to say on this one. The yarn was very nice. Similar to Noro Kureyon, but a little more consistency on the thickness. The pattern is very pretty and I would absolutely knit it again. Great practice for cabling without a cable needle.

I got a few inches more done on the Elizabeth I scarf, but I really don't like the fabric I'm getting with the KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud. It's just doesn't have enough substance. It's definitely more of a cobweb weight rather than a lace weight. I think I might scrap this project for the time being.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Silk Shrug

Silk Shrug
Pattern: Silk Shrug
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk in Mocha
Needles: KnitPicks circular Size 2 and 6
Start Date: September 7, 2006
End Date: September 23, 2006
Comments: Tiny needles. Endless stockinette. Picking up 300 stitches. Expensive yarn. These are the reasons I should dislike this shrug. However, these things are outweighed by the following: Beautiful stitches, shimmering yarn, elegantly simple design, silk & alpaca. As soon as it is dry I'll be sure to post a picture of me wearing it, but for now all I've got is the boring drying-in-progress shot (I think this photo kind of makes the shrug look like the little green guy on the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

The pattern was very simple and easy to follow. Perfect mindless TV watching knitting. I really have nothing bad to say about it. The yarn was a pleasure to work with and I would knit with it again in a heartbeat. The only complaint I have about it is that it is a little splitty, but the end result more than makes up for that.

The Besotted Scarf and Elizabeth I lace scarf will now get a bit more attention. Hopefully I can finish these to meet my September goals. (I have doubts I'll get around to finishing the Trinket scarf...we'll see.) The Koigu socks are going very well so I am sure they'll be done by the end of the week. Here's a group photo of all my works in progress:)

Oh, and for super socky fun, check out Northern Sunshine Designs for some fabulous sock patterns. I've already bought a few (Marmalade, Cedar Bark, and Agate Bay) and they are very well done. The designs are fun, they are written in a very user friendly format, and they are a great price. What more can you want?

And if you truly love knitting socks, be sure to sign up for Lolly's Socktoberfest which celebrates all things about handknit socks! Feel the socktacular love:)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nearly Knit

Would you like to see my nearly finished Silk Shrug in all it's unblocked and almost-finished glory? Of course you do:) Here it is. I'm a day or two away from completing the knitting and there is really no finishing aside from weaving in ends (and I've been doing that as I've knit). Happily, autumn has arrived in the Chicago area so I should be able to put this shrug to use right away. It's always nice when you knit something and can use it right away. The Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk is absolutely the loveliest yarn I've knit with so far. The stitch definition, the color, the sheen, the texture - all lovely. I can't quite capture it in this photo. I have to get used to shooting in low autumn light again.

The Koigu socks are progressing. The shrug is taking up the majority of my time, but I've been making sure that every day I have a little Koigu time:) I'm so in love with these socks. I find myself looking at Koigu colors online a lot lately, but nothing beats seeing a wall full of koigu like at Three Bags Full. I have a feeling I'll be heading there again soon. I decided to do my favorite Eye of Partridge heel flap, but with these spotty colors I'm not sure if it really stands out. Oh well, I still adore these socks and can't wait to get them on my feet.

In the meantime, I have received more sock yarn (good thing I knit socks all the time). This time I ordered from a new sock yarn online store called Pick Up Sticks. It's a great Canadian store specializing in handpainted sock and lace yarns. I tried to keep from going completely crazy and ordering one of everything. Instead I picked out two Claudia Hand Painted colors (rumor has it that the base yarn is the same as Koigu - sure looks and feels the same) and a skein of Sweet Georgia's Speed Demon in Velvet Underground (Left). The Sweet Georgia feels amazing. The Claudia Hand Painted colors are Begonia (Middle) and Pink Dot (Right). I am seriously tempted by the Posh Yarns and the Apple Laine yarns. I'm not sure how long I can resist:) Oh, and the shipping from Canada was fast! I ordered late afternoon on Wednesday and it was on my doorstep Monday evening. Nice:)

The other day I received the needles I needed to start on the Elizabeth I scarf, but I'm just not very enthusiastic about the project right now...I may push this one off for a little while. A birthday present can easily become a holiday gift when the recipient doesn't even know what they are getting, right? ;)

***Knitting GROUP is tonight (Wednesday) at the Borders' Cafe in Wilmette (corner of Lake & Skokie). We meet from 6:30 until 8:00 and any yarn enthusiast is welcome!***

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Arrival of the September Socks that Rock Rockin' Sock Kit

Hooray! The September Rockin' Sock Club Socks kit came yesterday! I didn't expect to see it until next week so it was quite a surprise to come home to find it waiting. Yea! The color is Titania and it is simply stunning. The kit came with an emergency sock yarn keychain and two patterns. The Titania's Revenge pattern (written specifically for the colorway) is absolutely not my taste (meshy lace with a slanted cable across the foot), but I really like the Central Air pattern. I think it's similar to a lacy one in the Sensational Knitted Socks book that I had already wanted to knit - perfect! Right now I have quite a bit on the needles, so for now I will just admire Titania in the skein:) The two smaller photos are each end of the hank. Lovely variety of fall colors.

And look what arrived from Sunshine Yarns - Here we have Welsh Green Dragon, Swedish Short Snout Dragon, and Brick (The first two complete my collection of the Harry Potter Dragon colors that Dani has created). Since it was Sunshine Yarns' anniversary, Dani included a very nice set of Inox needles and a cute little button with her logo. I just love her yarn! The Brick is perfect for the new Diamante pattern at Knitty.

The weekend with my Mom and Step-Dad was fantastic. We had a great time at the King Tut exhibit and then Saturday we made it up to Wisconsin to tour the Jelly Belly distribution center (Love those jelly bellies!). Then we spent the whole afternoon at the Chicago Botanic Garden. We had so much fun there we purchased a membership so we can go back whenever we want. I look forward to visiting the Garden throughout the different seasons. Ok, time to get some weekend knitting done before the weekend is over!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Knit knit knit

Just a little midweek status report...
Currently on the needles I have my Silk Shrug. This project is not the most exciting knitting, as the photo may indicate (I'm just starting the part that is straight stockinette with no increases or decreases for 29 inches!), but the yarn more than makes up for any boredom. The Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk is absolutely wonderful to knit though it is a tad splitty. I've had to ladder down to correct a split stitch every once in a while. It's going to be perfect for chilly fall weather.

I swatched for the Town & Country scarf from the Elizabeth I lace scarf set. I'm using KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Midnight and unfortunately, yet again, I had to order a smaller needle size. The Alpaca Cloud is so fine that the fabric looked best knit on size 1 needles. Of course, the only size 1's I have aside from double points is a 16 inch circular. I cannot knit 60 inches of lace on a 16 inch circular without severe hand cramps, so I've ordered a longer size 1. Maybe by the time it gets here I'll be finished with a project or two (the Besotted Scarf is coming along nicely, but I've been neglecting it for other projects...).

Finally we have my current socks. I decided to knit them at the same time for absolutely no reason. I guess I kind of wanted to get casting on and those first few rows out of the way. That is my least favorite part of a sock so it is nice getting it all out of the way early on. The yarn is some Koigu KPPPM (P704) that I picked up on my recent first visit to Three Bags Full in Northbrook. I say first visit since I know I'll be back (Lots of lovely yarns to paw). This is the first time I'm knitting with Koigu and now I understand what everyone (Jen) is raving about. I really didn't think the yarn was going to be that wonderful when I just touched it in the hank, but once you start knitting - nice! It has a lovely texture, the drape of the fabric is gorgeous and just while knitting I can feel the warmth of the wool.

The pattern is just my plain old sock based off the template in Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I thought about doing a more exciting pattern. I even knit a few inches into one, but this yarn just calls for stockinette, so stockinette it is. The colors make me think of late afternoon sunlight falling on autumn leaves. I can almost hear the leaves rustling.

And how about the new Knitty? I've already ordered the yarn to knit Ivy. So pretty. Oh, and I signed up for the second half of Sundara's Petals Collection. I really went back and forth on whether to do it, but in the end I couldn't resist. I'll just stay away from buying any Socks that Rock for a while:) I just can't get over how elegant and wonderful the kits have been from the earlier mailings. I can't wait until my first kit comes in December!

My Mom and Step-Dad are visiting this weekend so there may be less knitting and probably no blogging for a few days. I'm so excited that they are visiting! I'm taking a couple vacation days so that we can go do touristy Chicago things. We're going to go to the new King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum and I think we may also go out to the Chicago Botanic Garden if the weather is nice.

***Knitting GROUP is tonight (Wednesday) at the Borders' Cafe in Wilmette (corner of Lake & Skokie). We meet from 6:30 until 8:00 and any yarn enthusiast is welcome!***

Monday, September 11, 2006


You wanna see what I've been knitting for Matt's winter solstice gift? Here's a sneakpeek of what I have gotten done so far. It's Durrow from Magknits in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed (#119 Licorice). (Photographing cables in black tweed on a stormy day may not have been the best idea). I think he's going to love it.

Recently Heather of the Yarn Liberation Front and the Mothlady asked me a couple questions:

Roughly how much time per day do you spend knitting??
Are you knitting anything else at the same time, or are you a one project at a time kinda girl?

Ok, I get asked the first one a lot. The answer is some days not at all (really!) and on other days up to 8 hours. Most work days I average somewhere around 3 hours. This is when I get home from work, knit for an episode of The Simpsons, cook dinner, play with the cats, then settle in for knitting for the night. I have a lot of time to knit since a) we have no kids and b) my husband is in graduate school working in the labs a lot. On weekends I knit as much as possible, usually around 5 or 6 hours a day, but it really depends on if we have other plans. I do not knit in public except for when I'm at my knitting group. I am told I am a speedy knitter so I think that contributes to the amount of finished projects I produce.

As for how many projects I knit at any given time, this may be the one area of my life that I have shown any level of discipline. I really try to control how much is on the needles and for the most part I succeed. My knitting project philosophy is to always have the following on the needles, no more, no less:

1) A complicated project such as a cabled sweater or lace shawl;
2) Socks - Always one pair at a time. I attempt to never cast on for a new pair until the old pair is finished; and
3) A simple project to knit at group night or when my brain is tired and I don't want to think (often this doubles as my sock knitting, but this may also be a simple sweater or scarf).

At any given time I try not to have more than 5 things going. This number comes from projects being in various stages, i.e., swatching, knitting, and finishing. (The picture above is going to be my next pair of socks. The yarn is Koigu KPPPM #P704. Sorry for the bad photo. Dreary weather here.)

So, was that more information than you ever needed about my knitting habits? :)

How about all of you? How much do you knit a day?

Thursday, September 07, 2006



Pattern: Widdershins from Knitty
Yarn: Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Self-Striping in Honey Butter
Needles: KnitPicks size 1 (2.5 mm) dpns, gauge of 7 stitches per inch
Start Date: September 1, 2006
End Date: September 6, 2006
Comments: My first pair of toe-up socks! Excellent pattern from Knitty. The magic cast-on linked to in the pattern (also on Knitty) was incredibly simple to do and looks fantastic. I am very happy I now have a trusty alternative to my normal cuff-down socks. The reverse heel flap was a cinch and it was a nice change to not have to pick up stitches at the gusset.

As for the yarn, I am quite pleased. The best characteristic of this yarn is the texture. It is a very soft merino wool that just feels so silky while you knit. It has a very nice stitch definition, but on the softer side compared to Socks That Rock or Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. The self-striping dying was very well done with absolutely no white/undyed spots. Consistent striping action was also a bonus for those that like their socks to match perfectly (I do what I can, but I don't get to upset when they don't).

As I'm still waiting on my needles to start the Alpaca & Silk Shrug I went ahead and cast on for the Besotted Scarf. The K1C2 Paint Box (Color #10 Walnut Plum) is knitting up with the nicest wide striping which works really well with the XOXO cable pattern. Paint Box feels a lot like Noro Kureyon, but with a more consistent thickness. The texture is pretty rough right now, but I'm sure it will soften considerably once it's washed.

I forgot how satisfying it was to knit something on bigger needles with a simple pattern. I'm already through one ball with only two more to go. I am cabling without a cable needle as the little 4 stitch cables would drive me nuts if I was using one. It's working out very nicely.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Three Years Ago Today...

I married my bestest friend ever.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

W or L

Win or lose, once you become a Cubs fan you are always a Cubs fan. I grew up in the area of Illinois that is not Chicago. Somewhere in the bottom 1/3 of the state which is approximately 350 miles from Chicago and the Cubs. That area is closer to St. Louis and the Cardinals. Hence the great rivalry in the great State of Illinois between Cubs fans and Cardinals fans. I never really cared much either way, but when Matt and I started dating (nearly a decade ago!) I decided it was funny to be a Cardinals fan while he was such a big Cubs fan. Then we moved to the Chicago area. Then I went to my first game at Wrigley Field. Ok. Now I'm a Cubs fan.

Sunday we got to go see the Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants. A couple good friends game up from the middle 1/3 of the state (Illinois really is not only Chicago. It is hundreds of miles long filled with rivers, lakes, cornfields, and a National Forest). We had a fantastic time eating hot dogs and nachos and watching the Cubs (who unfortunately lost).

Ok, enough with the baseball. Here's the knitting.

Yesterday was spent watching the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings and the Two Towers (ran out of time for the Return of the King) and knitting my Widdershins in Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Self-Striping Honey Butter. These are flying off the needles! This yarn is a little splitty and unfortunately not superwash, but it is silky soft (merino wool).

This is my second attempt at toe-up. My first attempt was frogged as I could not get the hang of the short-row heel (stupid holes). I'm not a big fan of the short-row heel anyway. The traditional heel flap just seems to fit better and it provides that extra cushion and durability. Well, Widdershins is a toe-up pattern with a heel flap! Hooray! I like this pattern a lot and it will save me some grief since I will know I won't run out of yarn at the toe (like I did with a certain pair of socks). The reverse heel flap was very simple to do and I only got one tiny hole which I think washing and blocking will take care of anyway. I kind of went crazy knitting these rather long, but it was fun to maximize the yarn with no fear of running out. I added a few increases as I continued up the leg, but otherwise I followed the pattern.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

September Goals

Another month goes by and with it my finished Heather sweater, two pairs of socks, and very good progress on a top secret winter solstice sweater. August was a nice month as it was the return of winter knitting which I just love. There is nothing like using some lovely wool to create a garment that will keep you or a loved one warm even in the middle of a Chicago winter. Only a couple months until sweater season arrives!

For September I have the following knitting goals:
1) Silk Shrug in Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk
2) Elizabeth I scarf -Town & Country pattern
3) Besotted Scarf
4) Widdershins socks in Hill Country Yarns Honey Butter
5) Finish Trinket (now that it's finally cooler I can actually think about touching mohair again)

Two of the weekends in September we will have visitors so I hope I'm not casting on for more than I can knit. As you saw the other day, I've already swatched for the Silk Shrug. The yarn is simply decadent. I was lucky enough to find a great deal on the color I wanted on Ebay. This yarn may be the nicest, loveliest yarn I've ever knit up. There are not enough superlatives to express how fantastic this stuff is - the shine, the smooth texture, the rich color. Mmmmm...

Unfortunately my swatch on US 3 (3.0 mm) needles is very close to gauge, but not exactly the gauge I want so I have to wait a few days for a pair of US 2 circulars to arrive from KnitPicks. Oh well, just gives me a chance to start on my Widdershins socks (seen to the right - that's lovely Hill Country Yarn Sweet Feet Self-Striping in Honey Butter). I think it's time to give toe-up sock knitting another shot, especially since I almost had another shortage tragedy on my Isosceles Socks:

Isosceles Cherries Jubilee Socks

Pattern: Wildhorse Farm Designs Isosceles pattern
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Candy in Cherries Jubilee
Needles: Size US 0/2.0mm (8 stitches per inch)
Start Date: August 13, 2006
End Date: September 1, 2006
Comments: First off, the second sock had to be modified with a slightly shorter rib cuff and toe as I ran out of the first ball of yarn at the toe decreases of sock #1. I decided then to simply shorten the ribbing on the second sock and hoped that would be enough. Well, this time it just barely worked out, but as I'm worried about the frequency with which I appear to be running out of yarn before my socks are finished, I am very excited about knitting the Widdershins toe-up pattern.

Anyway, as for these socks, I love this yarn. This yarn is the first cotton I've used for socks and I loved every minute. It was not hard on the hands and has a lovely little cushiness to it. Another great product from Blue Moon Fiber Arts! (Just be careful about yardage...these socks have a six inch leg and 10 1/4 inch foot and I nearly ran out. Any future Sock Candy socks will have 4 inch legs just to be safe). As for the pattern, fun, fun, fun. I'm sure I will use it many times as it works really well to bring out the variegation in the handpainted yarn. I look forward to seeing how it looks with more contrasting colors.