My current work in progress:

1. Brickless, designed by Martina Behm, knit from Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag in the "Boston Fern" colorway on a 4.0 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

More Stuff

Not a lot of knitting progress to report — I was off from work today for an appointment and before I had to leave for that I suddenly lost my mind and started cleaning up my condo. I spent a lot of time sifting through the piles of stuff I’ve let accumulate over the past few months, so time just slipped away.

So I’ll show you a couple more things. Lookie here:

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Needlecase 080907

This is a fabulous needle wrap case, created by the very talented Zonda. I love that it does not have ties, but an elasticized garter that slips around it to hold it shut. Here it is open:

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Needlecase Open 080907

My Knitpicks Options needle set fits in there very nicely, with room to spare for more. There’s a pocket with a flap that fastens shut with velcro — a perfect place to put the needle ends and the tightening tool that comes with the Options components.

I love it — so much prettier than the plain black zippered case that came with my Options set. Also easier to use, I think.

Poo Free!

At the beginning of last month, Sandy blogged about her break away from traditional shampoo. I had heard about the concept of cleansing one’s hair with conditioner, so after reading about Sandy’s success, I immediately ordered a conditioner from the same brand Sandy was using — Chaz Dean‘s WEN Cleansing Conditioner. I’ve been using the Cucumber Aloe conditioner.

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WEN Conditioner 080907

A month later, I’m still hooked. I’ve used this product exclusively on my hair for a month now and my hair looks better and is in better condition than it has ever been. Poo free forever!

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Hair 080907

New Book

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Yarngirls 080907

You’ve probably seen this book reviewed here and there on knitting blogs recently. I, too, received a review copy of The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Knits For All Seasons, by Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs.

I was pleasantly surprised when I flipped through it. The patterns are arranged by season, and are in varying degrees of difficulty, but I think all would be do-able by a beginner or advanced beginner knitter. The photos are large and clear, and there are good schematics for each design. There are sweaters for both men and women, along with a pattern for a pretty lacy wrap, and a couple of accessories. A word of warning — the womens’ designs pretty much don’t go up over a 40″ bust, so this is not a book for larger women. The largest men’s sweater has a 52″ chest. But the designs are pretty and not too trendy and very pleasing to the eye. This is my favorite:

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Sweater Pattern 080907

Want my copy of this book? Send an email to blogcontestATcomcastDOTnet before noon Eastern time on Sunday August 12, 2007. The random number generator will choose the recipient on Sunday afternoon.

Sock Progress

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SIP 080907

See? Not a lot of progress. This sock is slower to knit than most of the ones I’ve made because of the cables — cabling takes a bit more time!

This photo is a pretty good representation of the color, by the way.

Lucy

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Lucy 080907

Lucy was a big help to me today.

Potpourri

Got a lot of little things to mention today . . .

Red Scarf Project 2008

As y’all probably already know, Norma has already set up a blog for the Red Scarf Project 2008. Click on the link to read about the Red Scarf Project. In addition to knitting red scarves, you can donate money to the project. There’s a Paypal link on the Red Scarf blog, and also one on Norma’s blog. If you donate, email Norma (there’s an email link on her blog) and let her know, and she’ll enter you in a drawing for a number of really nice prizes. The Red Scarf Project is a wonderful thing and it was a huge success last year. I hope this year is even better!

(Psssst! While you are at Norma’s blog, scroll down to her August 7 post and follow the link to vote for Ryan to win a television contract. You can vote through Saturday.)

Lightening the Load

In my never-ending quest to make things easier for myself, I have reluctantly and sadly abandoned my beloved leather handbags for the present time and switched to an all-fabric bag. Much lighter weight to carry, and since I’ve been doing a grand imitation of a decrepit old geezer for the past couple of months, this is important. I bought this bag:

Ain’t it purty? It’s a Maruca Design bag — the “Worker Bee ’07″ in the “Fern Cool” fabric.

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Maruca Bag 080807

(I bought it at eBags.com. I had a 20% off coupon from them which made it quite nicely affordable.)

I am extraordinarily picky about handbags, and so far, this one has pleased me very much. I really love the outside pocket — it has a deep pocket which is good for stashing ones car keys, and a little open pocket stitched on to that — the perfect size for my subway pass. And also a zippered pocket for things you want quick access to — like cell phone and iPod.

The strap is extremely adjustable, so you can pretty much carry the purse any way you like. I sling it on one shoulder and have my sock-in-progress in the main compartment on my commute so its very easy to knit from the bag.

Another problem was downsizing all the crap valuable and useful items I carry with me every day. I downsized from my beloved heavy, large Coach wallet to a mini wallet and card case. But I still had a couple of accessory bags filled with other doodads I can’t live without — earpiece and extra battery for my phone, extra battery and extra media for my in-purse digi-cam, a couple of flash drives, and a portable card reader. You know, stuff that every girl carries around. icon wink Potpourri

I looked around on Etsy for little fabric zippered bags, and found this seller, Florspace. I bought two of her mini zippered bags. Shortly after purchase, I got a nice email from the seller letting me know they had been shipped. She’s located in Singapore, so the items were sent registered airmail, and she mentioned that I’d likely get a notice to pick them up at the post office, as I had to sign for them. I ordered on July 25 and got the notice last Friday, August 3. Here’s what I slipped out of the package:

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Etsy 080807

Isn’t the packing wonderful? I love sellers who go to such pains to make their items pretty and fun!

Here are my two little bags:

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Zippered Bags 080807

They are perfect for their intended use and I just love the fabrics.

Back to Knitting

Thanks for all the comments on the DKNY sweater — how fun that so many of you remember it and that some of you made it too.

As for my current knitting, I finished the first Cabletini sock.

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Cabletini Sock 080807

Peggy asked in the comments if I incorporated extra stitches in this design to account for the cables pulling it in. I didn’t. The cable I’m using doesn’t really pull in very much at all. With the fabric very slightly stretch, the gauge is still 8 stitches to the inch. And I can easily put this sock on my wide foot over my fat ankle.

Here’s the second sock in progress.

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Sock in Progress 080807

Yow!

Today’s weather:

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Weather080807

Lucy

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Lucy 080807

Lucy thanks you for all the lovely comments on her very elegant photo yesterday. Seeing a photo of her looking so regal and aloof always makes me smile, because in reality, she is a goofy little nut-job. She loves her humans and is soooo happy when we come home — she will meet you at the door, meowing excitedly, then run into the living room, throw herself down on her back and wriggle around in ecstasy. She’d make a great poster child for depicting the joy that a pet can bring into your life.

A Blast From My Past

Last night I was happily flipping through the Vogue Knitting 25th Anniversary issue, just skimming the articles and looking at the pictures when I turned the page and saw design number 19:

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VK Design 19

Whoa! Flashback! I made that sweater when the pattern was first published, back in 1990. It was a DKNY design in fingering weight cotton. I immediately emailed L-B and told her so, and wondered if I would be able to actually find my version of the sweater.

Ten minutes later, I had found it.

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DKNY Sweater 080707

Folded up on the top shelf of one of my closets. It has likely been there for the whole 14 years I’ve lived in my condo.

The original pattern was written for fingering weight Rowan cotton yarn. I made mine from el cheapo crochet cotton bought at a craft store, so I’m quite sure the cost of the whole sweater was well under $10. My gauge was loose because the cotton I used was finer than what was called for in the pattern, but I really liked the way it looked. I remember I wore this sweater over a black Calvin Klein slipdress for my mom’s retirement party (which I’m pretty sure was in 1990.)

This afternoon I gave the sweater a quick once-over with a steam iron.

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DKNY Sweater A 080707

I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t wear it now. In fact, the first day that the temperature dips below seventy-eleven-billion degrees, I’ll be wearing this over a tank dress.

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DKNY Sweater B 080707

I think I’ll leave it on my dress form for a while. It just makes me happy to look at it. icon smile A Blast From My Past
While I was looking for it, I also found my very favorite aran cardigan that I’d sort of half-heartedly been trying to find for the past few years (but that’s another story for another time), so it was a very good evening indeed.

Sock Update

Here is the state of the Cabletini Sock:

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Cabletini Sock 080707

Sock Question

Marji commented:

I am a brand-new sock knitter.

Question: What do you do if your pattern isn’t toe-up but you want to knit that way?

You can convert a lot of top-down patterns to toe-up pretty easily. Take a generic toe-up pattern that has the same stitch count as the pattern you want to knit and plug in the top-down pattern stitch chart. You’ll need to turn that chart upside-down to achieve the same look as the top-down sock. A word of warning — some patterns will not lend themselves to being turned upside-down and won’t look the same. I’m told by people who have knit upside-down Monkey socks that the stitch pattern doesn’t look the same.

You say you are a brand-new sock knitter. My best advice to you is to first knit a sock pattern that is written toe-up, so you get the hang of how it is done. With that experience under your belt, you will be better equipped to turn your top-down pattern into toe-up.

For You Top-Down Sock Fans

Wendy has converted my toe-up Southwestern Sock pattern (free download from the Loopy Ewe, here) to top-down and has published her notes on her blog. Go! See! Thank her!

My Sock Model

Catspaw asked:

I love it when Teddy models the sock. What’s his history? A childhood toy, a gift from a dear friend, a dump rescue? Do tell.

Teddy actually belongs to the KOARC. He acquired Teddy when donating blood. Back 6 or 7 years ago, in addition to juice and cookies, the Red Cross was giving out little bears to blood donors. And it wasn’t for kids, either, since all the blood donors at that particular bloodmobile were adult government workers.

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Teddy 080707

One day I discovered that Teddy’s head was the exact right size to model a sock toe. And a star was born.

Lucy Sez

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Lucy 080707

“I’m the real star here and don’t you forget it.”

About her pose yesterday — draped over the arm of the couch with legs hanging down on each side. She almost never does that, so of course I grabbed the camera and documented it for posterity.

New Sock Monday

If it’s Monday, there must be a new sock. icon wink New Sock Monday

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Natures Palette 080607

Yesterday I pulled out some Nature’s Palette sock yarn that’s been marinating in the stash. This sock yarn is dyed using all natural plant dyes. This skein is one of their Odd Duck colorways — #4. I had bought it directly from the creator of Nature’s Palette, but I see they are no longer doing direct sales. Fortunately, The Loopy Ewe has started carrying this yarn and as of this post has in stock a lot of lovely colorways.

It comes in 50 gram skeins with 185 yards per skein. It’s 100% merino wool, with a nice twist, and it is knitting up very nicely for me at 8 stitches to the inch on 2mm needles. Teddy consented to model the sock-in-progress yesterday afternoon.

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Sock Toe 080607

That’s a tiny cable pattern on the sock, so I’m calling this pattern “Cabletini” — you know — like spaghettini is skinny spaghetti, cabletini is skinny cables?

Here it is on a foot:

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Sock in Progress 080607

Magic Cast-On

There were a number of interesting comments to my discussion of the magic cast-on from yesterday’s post.

Dave (psst! Go to Dave’s blog to see an excellent discussion of the band heel technique) pointed out that the version of the cast-on that I linked to eliminates the starting slipknot, which was present in the version that appeared in Knitty. I vastly prefer this slipknot-less version.

Rosie commented:

As a relatively newbie sock knitter, I’ve just gotten the hang of the dpns. I’m not so sure I want to move over to circulars just yet (although my LYS has offered several times to help). Is there a way to do your cast on on the two circs and then transfer them to dpns?

Absolutely. You can do the cast-on on two circulars, and work a few rows, then divide the stitches over dpns and go from there. A cautionary note, however. If your gauge on two circulars is vastly different than on dpns, you might not want to do this. My gauge does not differ, so I would not have a problem doing this.

In another comment, Denise described how she does the magic cast-on:

I’ve cast on toes using Judy’s Magic Cast On with one dpn and one end of a circular. I put the circular needle on the top and the dpn on the bottom and cast-on as shown in her directions. Then picked up my dpns to start the work, putting the circular on the bottom, pulling through to the cord and working from the dpn. Wendy is right, the looser tension around the circular cord on bottom makes it MUCH easier to execute the first round stitches. Continue around, working from the dpn and when you get to the circular, work the stitches off from it and onto your dpns. This worked really well for me. I’m not even sure that the two needles were exactly the same size, but they were close enough and worked fine.

Samina commented with this link to a page with a video of the magic cast-on technique in the comments. It’s just over 5 minutes long. (Be forewarned — it shows the technique using the beginning slipknot.)

Liesel summed up nicely my feelings about switching to the magic cast-on:

The reason I wanted an alternative in the first place was that I didn’t like how the short row toe worked with stripes and certain variegated yarns.

I found that I like the Magic Cast-on for a couple of other reasons, too. First, I don’t need anything other than the yarn and needles to get started (w/ a short row toe, I needed waste yarn and a crochet hook). Second, once I’m done with the toe, all I need to do to move on is knit, whereas with the short row toe, once you’re done, you have to stop and undo the waste yarn and maneuver the stitches onto the needle.

In the end, the Magic cast-on simplified things and saved me time, in addition to making the toes of striped socks look better.

Okay, time for a question.

the_crocheter commented:

Aren’t you tired of knitting socks?

No.

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Lucy 080607

Beginnings

One of the things that I think makes people hesitate to knit a toe-up sock is the cast-on. There are a number of different ways to start a toe-up sock, some more elegant than others.

For years I did a provisional cast-on and short row toe because I found it pretty fool-proof — I’d get good results all the time. But in the past year, I got sort of sick of having to do the crochet chain to start a sock. I also decided I didn’t really like the look of the short row toe.

So I started experimenting. A cast-on that for me was nearly perfect is the Turkish cast-on. There’s a good tutorial for the Turkish cast-on at Misocrafty, here. Fluffy Knitter Deb also has a good tutorial here.

My only gripe with the Turkish cast-on is that I often ended up with some loose stitches, so I’d have to tighten them up with the point of a needle after knitting a couple of rounds. If you are more coordinated than I, you may not have that problem.

So I decided to look around for another cast-on. I discovered Judy’s Magic Cast-on. This cast-on, executed over two circular needles, is for me the perfect cast-on.

While I know you can use it to cast on over dpns, I strongly prefer doing it over two circulars. It makes it much easier to knit the first round, because you can slide the circ not in use so that the stitches are hanging on the cable while you knit up the stitches on the other side — it gives more “wiggle room” for executing the stitches.

I’ve been using this cast on for all of the socks I’ve knit in the Summer of Socks.

It’s Official

The latest sock design has officially been named Snapdragon Socks. And here they are.

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Snapdragon Socks 080507

Lucy Sez

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Lucy 080507

“You woke me up for that?”